A. My first job out of college was working for Bloomingdale's, as the assistant manager of their Bloomingdale's NOW! department. Then, I worked as a copwriter in a big fancy ad agency.
A. If my favorite job wasn't writing, I'd be in big trouble.
A. William H. Hall High School in West Hartford, CT and Franklin & Marshall college before transferring to and graduating from Colgate University
A. I think Elvis Costello is a brilliant songwriter whose voice just gets better with age. I'd make a comment about fine wine but that's just silly.
A. Call me a gay man, but I love Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford. Vita is the meanest daughter of all time!
A. If The Real Housewives of NYC was on 24-hours a day it wouldn't be enough for me.
A. Saved my life with women's magazines. Thanks, Cosmo!
A. Avoid making excuses or standing in long lines.
A. The never-ending grief of a loved one's death. Gee. Thanks for bringing me down.
A. Rome! Or back in Punta Cana on my honeymood. Or way back, in first grade, listening to my favorite teacher read a book.
A. Mark Twain. Yes, I'm serious. I grew up near where he lived and loved to visit his house. It felt so familiar to me.
A. This feels like a trick question devised by my mother. Whom I actually do admire greatly. I also admire my father a great deal. Mostly because he made it through my book and is still speaking to me.
A. I swear like a sailor, so I'm afraid my most overused word rhymes with 'duck." Interestingly enough, my other most overused phrase is 'I love you,' which I enjoy saying almost as much as the word that rhymes with duck.
A. I regret not spending more time with my aunt before she died. She loved words, loved what they could do, and loved what I could do with them. She always made me feel so special.
A. Okay, finally an easy question. I would like to acquire the talent of rhythm so I could play a big monster drum set and join a really cool band.
A. Some days I feel like my greatest achievement is just remembering to put on pants before leaving the house. But, on a larger scale, I think writing my book was pretty huge. There were many days when I just wanted to chuck it all and get a job at Queen Nails.
A. I tend to let my nutty imagination override a pretty stable reality. Which is a fancy way of saying, I can often invent problems that aren't even remotely possible in the real world.
A. If I like you, I will be more loyal than a dog. I am also unfailingly on time.
A. I sure hope a copy of this questionnaire isn't going to my shrink! Hmmm. I only know how to be me - so I pick me, but a version of me that doesn't watch so much bad television. Has the long-term effect of The Hills been cleared by the FDA?
A. Is "tall" a trait? If not, I'd say my capacity to talk with my hands is pretty noticeable. And dangerous at times.
A. I really loved the narrator of Dave Egger's "You Shall Know By Our Velocity."
A. Every single character in Franzen's The Corrections.
A. I'd like to meet Jim Morrison and ask him if I could borrow his leather pants for a week or so.
A. Slow walkers! Hurry up, people!
A. Looking for treasures at the fleamarket.
A. After superstar drummer, it would be archaeologist.
A. Loyalty, humor, compassion.
A. McDonald's French fries.
A. I'd wear it proudly, by Elvis Costello; New slang, by The Shins; Pink Night, by Jason Colett; Rise up with fists by Jenny Lewis; The Seed, by The Roots
A. In no particular order: Carolyn Parkhurst, Jennifer Egan, Junot Diaz, Jonathan Franzen, Martin Amis, Shalom Auslander, Mark Twain, George Saunders, David Sedaris, Mary Gaitskill, Alice McDermott, Charles Dickens, Vladmir Nabokov (have to get in the classics, right?)
A. This is too hard! A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius really changed the way I thought you were allowed to write memoir, so that was a big one for me. Wuthering Heights - it's one of the few books I've read and reread - and not for homework! Dogs of Babel - Carolyn Parkhurst is one of the most inventive writers I've ever read - and such a nice person, too. Geek Love. I could not get enough of this book The Journalist and the Murderer - every journalist should read this!
A. Other than Wuthering Heights, I find myself pulling Jonathan Franzen's memoir, The Discomfort Zone out and reading passages again and again because they are so funny.
A. Get it out of your head and onto the page.
A. How did you have sex in your cubicle without getting caught.
A. My life was a total mess. I was dating a string of narcissistic jerks, eating my lunch out of the vending machine at my office, partying like I was back in freshman year of college, and generally screwing up anything that was actually good in my life (which wasn't a heck of a lot.) I knew I needed to get my act together, but didn't know how. One day, I found myself in a bookstore, in front of a wall of women's magazines and, after being bombarded with coverlines like, "How to turn the clock back 15 years!" "How to bring men to their knees!" "How to pull off plaid without the bagpipes!" I had my eureka moment: I was going to turn my life over to women's magazines and follow their advice, without question, for the next year.