Month: June 2010

London, Lyon and Lingerie

After a weekend of Quaker shenanigans and an evening at the London Tap Jam, I’ve arrived in France.  My suitcase, unfortunately, has not. The good thing about losing your luggage somewhere between London and Lyon is that it gives you a great excuse to go shopping.  The bad thing is that Lyon, being a French city, second only to Paris in terms of economic importance and second to none in terms of it’s centuries-old textile industry, has little interest in selling normal underwear. Strolling through the Presqu’ile (which translates to ‘almost island’ and comprises the heart of central Lyon), I found lingerie shops of every possible variety.  Ditto designer shops selling men’s boxer shorts printed with retro cartoons and football clubs (France, you see, still has a shot at the world World Cup).  But I could not, for the life of me, find anything resembling normal underwear. My quest took me to Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) and Fourviere Hill where I managed to acquire two Essentials in Life: a toothbrush and a ticket for the …

From the Cafe Nero in Cambridge

Cambridge, on a sunny summer’s day, is enough to make me forget about every American institution I’ve ever considered.  It doesn’t help that today is commencement at “the other school.”  I am tempted, by virtue of the fact that it is not raining, to transfer my allegiance immediately but having spent one of my 24 years as an Oxford girl, I cannot;  loyalties of this sort are for life. Nonetheless, Cambridge is beautiful today.  The streets surrounding the market are teeming with smiling undergraduates, dressed in the requisite black and white and fur-trimmed robes.  On account of the graduation ceremonies, they’re flanked by scores of proud mothers and fathers, carrying flowers and cameras and wearing fancy hats.  I have to say, for the sake of accurate travel writing, that the hats of Cambridge University on this particular Friday afternoon are not particularly lovely.  My mother’s are much nicer, and she’s not even English!  Maybe I won’t move to Cambridge after all. In the meantime, however, it’s the perfect place to reacclimatize myself and by “reacclimatize,” I …

Sayonara Scrapbooking!

At 5:00pm EST, I, Kat Richter, quit my day job.  “It’s been a pleasure,” Head Boss said as I handed over my keys to the change drawer.  That was, presumably, my cue to say, “Likewise,” but of the many phrases I would use to describe the past six months, “a pleasure” is not one of them.  Instead, I mumbled “Thanks” and headed to the break room to clear out my locker and say my goodbyes. My last day including two pseudo-celebrity sightings: the CEO and the new General Manager of The Shop from Corporate (who spent the afternoon lecturing Head Boss on the arrangement of the yarn section.  Did you know, by the way, that Vanna White has a yarn line?  Well she does, and according to the new GM, all the “Vanna’s Touch” labels must be lined up properly to face the same way at all times, thereby gracing the knitters of South Philadelphia with one thousand tiny Vanna’s and her airbrushed smile). “It’ll never happen” I told Good Cop when he relayed the news …

How to Not Screw Up in Life…

Here are the things you should not do when querying a literary agent.  You should not say your manuscript is finished if it is not.  You should not lie about the length of your manuscript (for example, if it is 75,000 words but you’ve recently discovered that proper books should be at least 85,000, you should not tell an agent that your manuscript is 88,000 and give yourself three days to make up the difference).  Furthermore, if an agent expresses interest in your book and asks you to email her the completed manuscript, you should send it to the correct address. Nonetheless, being a first time author of the aspiring variety, I decided it would be best to make as many mistakes as possible.  I lied through my teeth about the length of the manuscript at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference.  I gave myself three days to come up with 13,000 words (13,000 good words, mind you and to put that into perspective, my MA dissertation was 20,000 words and took me almost six months to …

A Holy Headache

Forgive me.  With my upcoming trip to London, the completion of my first manuscript and the fact that I am QUITTING my day job in just 48 hours, I’ve been too happy to muster up the requisite wrath to complain about The Shop.  But I would like to go out with a bang, and so, without further ado, it’s Holy Communion season in South Philadelphia. This means that in addition to the usual births and deaths memorialized in the South Philly Review, the paper now features page after page of congratulations to “Our little Adrianna,” “Our blessed Anthony” and “Our angel, Tony Jr.” Before the matrons of South Philadelphia can replace their light-up shamrocks, Easter eggs, and Memorial Day flags with sparkly First Communion garlands, however, their darling candidates must construct the requisite First Holy Communion banner. I know all of this not because I’m Catholic but because I work at The Shop.  Last month, I was just getting ready for my lunch break when a woman approached the register with our official First Holy …

An Ode to Office Supplies

God, I love Staples.  In preparation for the Writers Conference, I went to Staples every day last week (on Saturday, it was a package of “fiesta” colored binder clips—an absolute essential in the publishing industry; Sunday: a new flash drive, except that Staples was closed by the time my old USB stick decided to commit suicide; Monday: a new flash drive, for real this time—however did Jane Austen manage without? And finally Tuesday: index cards).  Today I went to print out the first three chapters of my book (at the request of a New York agent!) but I can never spend less than $20 in Staples.  As such, I headed from the Copy and Print Center to the packaging supplies aisle, where I bought serious-looking envelopes to convey that I am a serious writer.    I wish I could live at Staples.  In fact, if not for my abject hatred of the retail industry, I would get a job at Staples.  But you have to know about computers to work at Staples, and I don’t.  …

Stupid Sally Wins a Prize

I never thought the day would come when I found myself actually grateful to Stupid Sally.  For those of you just tuning in, Stupid Sally is somewhat of a regular customer at The Shop.  Her favorite hobby (in addition to scrapbooking, of course) is pummeling hapless sales associates with annoying questions just as they’re about to start their lunch breaks. Sometimes, Stupid Sally leaches onto one of the male associates.  She asks him to help her in the baby shower aisle and then, since she’s on the look out for a Baby Daddy, she says, “Damn Boy!  You is fine!” Sometimes Stupid Sally marches right up to Reggie #1 with approximately seven offspring dangling from her various limbs.  She demands, “Where are you Silly Bands?” and I point out, with my greatest Superior Customer Service smile, that they are right in front of her.  If I’m having a good day (which isn’t very often), I even resist the urge to state the obvious when she complains, “These things are such a waste of money!”  (The …