Charlie’s 10-Step Guide to Fabulous Writing

I’m working on this long story and last night, I let Charlie read it. He is my very first reader and I was weirdly nervous and I may have curled up on my love seat with a massive intimidating book and uhhh a screwtop bottle of wine as I tried to ignore the sound of pages shuffling in the corner. Afterward, I said, “Am I as genius as David Foster Wallace?” and Charlie said no.

Then, Charlie proceeded to pace around my apartment and out of nowhere, in between mouthfuls of cookie dough, he began to spew the most genius guide to writing I’ve ever heard. Here it is, transcribed–and unedited–in all its glory:


  1. Make that shit better.
  2. Improve that shit.
  3. Make the writing better.
  4. Make that shit more interesting.
  5. Consider using a different font.
  6. Use some bigger words. You sound stupid when you use all those fucking small words.
  7. Choose some more fucking realistic names. I don’t know any motherfuckers named “Rye.”
  8. Delete all the boring shit.
  9. Have some better story plots.
  10. Make that shit exciting!


Charlie’s birthday was a few days ago (happy birthday, Chazz!) and in case you’ve never received a present from me before, listen up: I am a really good gift-giver. I am always listening for little clues, and I am an expert at getting people that thing they didn’t know they totally needed. For serious. The best present I ever gave was a small cast-iron pig–to my dad. It made no sense but it totally worked.

So a few weeks ago, like the calm cool and collected girlfriend I am, I was attempting to plunge the depths of Charlie’s psyche to figure out exactly what he wanted for his birthday. Our conversation went something like this:

Tori: [in a high, squeaky voice] Soooooooo what do you want for your birthday?
Charlie: [nodding along to Brian Eno]
Charlie: The only thing I want is a velvet g-string.
Tori: What?
Charlie: I want a velvet g-string.
Tori: What??????
Charlie: A velvet g-string.
Tori: Why aren’t you smiling? Is this a joke?
Charlie: Why would it be a joke?
Tori: You’re weirding me out! Why do you sound so serious? Do you actually want a VELVET G-STRING?
Charlie: Yeah!
Tori: Oh my gosh.

The conversation proceeded along those lines for like, I kid you not, five minutes, until the truth came to light. Apparently a “velvet g-string” is like some super awesome type of string for the upright bass, which Charlie plays.


The Random Kurt Cobain Magic Eight-Ball Answer Generator

Nirvana is and probably will always be my favorite band. I think Kurt Cobain is a truly great poet–not a songwriter-whose-lyrics-kinda-sound-like-poetry poet (Bob Dylan) but a legit, put-that-shit-in-stanzas-bitch poet. But that’s a subject for another post. Basically, I love him and everything he has ever written. I’m wearing converse as I type this. But my purse is from Anthropologie. I’m a walking enigma.

The Nirvana oevre isn’t terribly large, and as someone who’s been listening to them for like 239rfh8 years, I am very familiar with the themes that haunted Cobain over and over. And today, I have compiled this knowledge into the world’s first ever Random Kurt Cobain Magic Eight-Ball Answer Generator, because why not?

My patented answer-generating formula works by combining any or all of the following elements into a concise answer to the questions that wrack your black black soul:

Synonym of “moist”
Destruction of a gross/odd bodily function
A form of medicine, whether scientific or folk
Something related to fish

Shake it up, and out comes the answer! Example:

Curious Babe: Do I need to lose weight?
Random Kurt Cobain Magic Eight-Ball Answer Generator: The wet fish sucks away your warts in a bath of pennyroyal tea.

I put the Magic Eight-Ball Answer Generator to use answering a few of my more pressing questions:

Me: What does “chypre” mean?
Magic Eight-Ball: Antacids ooze down the drain of your cancerous mouth.
Me: Sweet. Should I move to a large but cheap European city next weekend?
Magic Eight-Ball: A moist Pisces is thinking about you right now. 
 Me: How romantic! Guess I’d better stick around. Am I getting enough vegetables?
Magic Eight-Ball: Rape your tumor and a soggy lungfish swims in circles.
 Me: Ugh, I know, I totally don’t get enough Omega-3s. So as you know I’m writing a long story right now. Is it any good?
Magic Eight-Ball: Clammy bruised fruit displays its open sores.
 Me: Great title! Wow, this is really incredible. One last question: Are you ashamed of the fact that I work a 9-5, Kurt?
Magic Eight-Ball: Drown your eyeballs in the scaly poison. 
Me: Totally feeling you. At least it’s Saturday, right?

If you’d like the Random Kurt Cobain Magic Eight-Ball Answer Generator to answer any of your questions, comments, concerns, or existential freakouts, let me know. It likes it. It’s not gonna crack. Unless I drop it on the hardwood floor.

Second Chances

Shawty, you keep playing with my heart.

Things are back on with my ex-husband. Sort of. It’s not like we’re getting married again–we’re taking it slow, you know? Trying to make this work the second time around. We’re still seeing other people, obviously,  but just between you and me–things are different. As Carrie Bradshaw told her girlfriends about Big, “It just feels so right this time” or something.

Even though I swore I would never go back to his coffee shop, no matter how delicious his cortados were, something kept pulling me there. Dare I say that “something” was…love?

As I walked to the counter, lips trembling, wrists aflutter, he reached for my credit card before even asking me what my order was. He knew exactly what I wanted. Or did he? I couldn’t help but wonder: was he just using me for my money?

Coy as a geisha, I plucked my card away from him. “I’m getting something different this time,” I said, my voice fraught with meaning. “An iced coffee.” My lips were smiling, but my heart was screaming, Iced like your soul, you heartless bastard! Why don’t you love me anymore? 

I arranged myself by the nearest window, letting the sun play gently over my long burnished hair. Okay, full disclosure, I was wearing a huge hockey sweatshirt and my hair was in some sort of bird’s nest disarray from a long day of lying in bed and listlessly flipping through books of poetry. Kind of an off-duty model look. Off-duty unemployed homeless model, age 51. But suddenly the very air of the coffee shop was different. Electricity crackled in my fingertips. My iced coffee appeared on the table and I looked up–up–up into his dark eyes. He was smiling.

“I’ll get you a straw,” he said, and vanished.

By then, my heart was busier than a hive of bees when the virgin queen bees FIGHT TO THE DEATH in order to establish which one will rule. I was filled with a sudden desire to fling myself into his arms. I didn’t care about the fact that he was rude to my grandparents, or the time he tried to kick me out of the coffee shop one minute before closing, or the countless times he told me he couldn’t replace the blue cheese on my salad with something more palatable, or the heartless way he sneered, “We’re out of croissants today.” I didn’t care. I wanted him back.

He brought me the straw and handed it to me with a little bow. I melted. “Thank you,” I said breathily, looking up at him through my impossibly thick eyelashes. He understood me perfectly. “You’re welcome,” he said, and went back behind the counter to steam some milk.

Brit & Justin: A Retrospective

If Kate and Johnny are my personal favorite It couple from the ’90’s, then there’s no question about it–Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are THE couple of the early 2000’s. I love it when beautiful people date other beautiful people, like Hugh Jackman and myself and Pablo Neruda.

While perusing the internet for these pictures, I couldn’t help thinking two things:

1. Britney looks so happy! Poor baby! Britney, I want to see you smile like that again. What’s with the judgmental looks, people? I love Britney and always will.
2. Is there anything more atrocious than the fashion choices of the early 2000’s? Even the ’80’s look classy in comparison. Be thankful I didn’t show you Britney’s entire outfit in the last pic. Hint: she’s wearing jeans underneath that dress–and matching pale pink pointy boots.

Messy Divorce

Faithful subjects, I have learned an important lesson from the slew of embarrassing memoirs with little girls on the covers currently ravaging our bookstores and that is: I NEED TO TALK ABOUT MYSELF MORE.

So I’m here to tell you a painful tale that lies very close to my heart.

I was in a polygamous marriage up until last week, and now we are getting a divorce.

Let me set the scene: a coffee shop, three blocks from my apartment. Steaming, well-crafted cortados. The best croissants in the city. A handsome owner. It was only a matter of time before we were wed. My friend–who I shall call only by her surname, which is Huevos Rancheros–was also his bride. We shared our glowing prize with the graciousness of two old French duchesses.

We went to his coffee shop at least once a week to bask in our husband’s beauty and sip down his exquisitely foamed creations. ALAS! Nuptial bliss was but a fleeting dream, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, for soon enough, his darker side began to show.

He was a total jerk.

Alas, young maidens, let this be a warning to you: don’t spring into polygamous matrimony after knowing someone for a mere 2 months. Most importantly, don’t spring into polygamous matrimony with someone who never comes out from behind the counter to speak to you, someone who lures you in with the richness of his espresso and the adorable way he always remembers your drink order but who has A HOLLOWNESS IN HIS EYES! A HOLLOWNESS.

We gave him three chances–he struck out three times:

1. At exactly 9:59 pm one night, he looked at us, pointed at the door, and said, “Alright, time to pack up!”
2. He was rude to Huevos Rancheros’ father. (I suspect he may have been jealous at the sight of his second wife on the arm of a tall, rugged, silver fox.)

But don’t cry for us, Argentina. Soon after the divorce proceedings began, we noticed that his lips were way too pink and he always wore Crocs. Totally gross. It’s just awkward because where are we supposed to get our cortados now?

Read more about my melodramatic love life in my upcoming memoir: I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR MEMOIR.