March 18, 2009

Test Driving

In October of Last year, I sent a letter to my very favorite niece (She is also my ONLY niece, but if I had 100, she would still be my favorite. Secretly.)

Dear Erin Virginia,

Joyful felicitations on reaching your fifteenth year! Scott and I are proud of you and your accomplishments, both artistic and athletic. Sam and Maisy Jane think you hung the moon. You are an awesome human being.

When your brother turned fifteen, we gave your parents our old Honda, so that he could get practice with his own car on his learner’s permit. Alas, we have no spares cars lying about at this time, but we did something special for Daniel’s fifteenth, and therefore I did not think throwing a 20 dollar bill in a card would be fair to you. So, for your fifteenth birthday, I asked BJ what she thought you might like.

I was going to get you a pony, but she assured me that what you REALLY wanted was a book about human Psychology. So here you are! I got it at the used books store, as these are hard economic times, and it only cost a dollar. The knowledge inside is, I am sure, priceless, especially for a budding writer.

Still, it’s not a car is it? Alas. The only thing other than this book I can think that a budding writer TRULY needs is experience---a chance to the see the world. How about you and I fly up to New York together for three or four days and get you some of that? We could see a show on Broadway, maybe drop by my publishing house and let you see how the book industry runs, eat weird food, bum around Central Park, bounce through The Met, etc. NYC is about to become a snowy misery, we should go this spring. Manhattan in spring has its own heartbeat. I’ve already cleared this with your parents. Sit down with them and look at your plans for spring break or the summer as soon as school lets out, before it gets too hot. Let’s nail down dates and get planning.

We ALL Flat love you, beautiful girl. Happy birthday.

And here it is, Spring Break already! I am headed to New York for the rest of the week. I don’t know if I will have internets because I am staying at my friend Gilbert’s apartment while he is in Florida with his family, and I forgot to ask for his wireless password. OOPS!

I am going to see my editor and hit Broadway HARD and go to Central Park and MAYYYYbe go to MOMA instead of The Met (REBEL!) and teach my niece the fine art of not being murdered by taxis---- ALL that NYC stuff I love. I am VERY excited. But.

My friend Gilbert has a rabbit in his house.
I am disproportionally excited about meeting this rabbit.
Hugely. Disproportionately. Excited.
I am going ON VACATION. To NEW YORK, and what do I keep talking about?
Meeting this rabbit.

LOOK! Here is a picture Gilbert sent me of the rabbit, after I questioned him relentlessly about the animal’s habits and preferences and how I could best court the rabbit to be my friend and what treats it might like and what it does with its spare time and if it likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain:



1) This is a rabbit who is allowed UP ON THE BED! See in the picture? That looks like SHEETS!

2) His yellow mustache has completely escaped his control and grown up over his nose and cheeks.

3) The rabbit is named Rabbit. Gilbert says we are welcome to call him by some other name, and I DID consider Ferdinand for a bit, but I love the generic goodness of a rabbit named RABBIT. It is so BASIC, and I smell SO many John Updike RABBIT RUN, RABBIT AT REST jokes on the horizon it is not even funny. NOT EVEN THE FIRST TIME. And yet I will do it anyway, relentlessly, until my niece kills me.

4) Gilbert says Rabbit is much stupider than a cat. May I say, speaking as a person who is currently experiencing life with a very clever cat (Boggart), I cannot think this is a bad thing.

5) Gilbert says Rabbit likes to be petted, but not lifted off his feet. SO! How did Rabbit GET on the bed, I wonder. Does Rabbit CLIMB? Does rabbit LEAP? Does he SNEAK up onto beds when you are not looking and no one ever knows how?

Later in the week, Karen is taking us to some sample sales around town for a little shopping, and every time I have called her to co-ordinate, I end up talking more about the RABBIT than HALF PRICE DESIGNER SHOES.

Her: Land’s End is having a sample sale, but I don’t think you like that kind of---
Me: Do you think he will LIKE ME?
Her: Who?
Her: I think he is a rabbit. Now, also on this week’s list of sample sales there is a---
Me: I hope he isn’t scared of me.
Her: I hope you stop talking about Rabbit.
Me: Do you think he likes people in general as OBJECTS? Or individuals? I bet as OBJECTS. Like, I bet his whole life people have ever only been nice to him, and maybe it won’t occur to him to be scared of me even though I am new.
Her: I will just email you the list of sample sales.
Me: Have you ever met Rabbit?
Her: I was going to take you to dinner for your birthday. But now I am buying you a big old box of therapy instead.
Me: THANKS! Does Therapy come in blue? I look good in BLUE. Do you think rabbits just POO in the house or do they use a litter box?

And so on.

I have talked about this rabbit in relation to the trip so much that last night Scott said, “You know, I think this trip with Erin is a great idea, and I do not begrudge you the plane ride and the theatre tickets, but you ARE aware, are you not, that you could have met a RABBIT in Georgia?”

Here’s the thing, though. Remember, how I was lobbying for a new cat that does not SUCK? Boggart is hell’s twinkie and he has DEMONS where the cream filling should go. I was pestering for a GOOD cat and then I found that GREAT deal on a Saturn Vue and I told Scott if he bought me the car I would name it The Good Cat and stop asking for any other cats at all for ten or fifteen years until Boggart mercifully dies of old age and we shook on it and he even got me a personalized license tag that says Good Cat? Remember?

Yeah. Me too. And Scott CERTAINLY remembers. But…
I never promised not to get a RABBIT.

Posted by joshilyn at March 18, 2009 6:34 AM

it appears I was dropped on my head as a child and cannot help myself from being rude by pointing out that when your niece turned 15 she was entering her 16th year.

I hope you have a great NYC trip and a successful rendevouz with RABBIT. he is adorable. please let us know how he gets on to the beds if not lifted by his people.

Posted by: elizabeth at March 18, 2009 7:44 AM

Dang, I wish I had an Aunt Joss. What a great present for your niece.

Posted by: cheryl at March 18, 2009 8:02 AM

If Rabbit ever needs to get out of the house with his own kind, or if you're anywhere up around Inwood and want a fix of your own, a Manhattan friend of mine has not one but two such wabbits. Named Chicken and Pig.

And they blog. (Or at least they did until May's roommate got a new apartment;)

Posted by: Ray at March 18, 2009 9:09 AM

I think Rabbit is ADORABLE! And of course you should get a rabbit. Scott will understand. I'm almost positive he will.

Posted by: Julie G at March 18, 2009 9:16 AM

Ummm. I used to own a rabbit. They are exceptionally stupid. Cute, but stupid.

Have fun in NYC!!

Posted by: Mir at March 18, 2009 9:17 AM

Shall I tell you about the adorable, loving pet rabbit that one of my buddies met in college? Said rabbit was curled up happily in his arms, getting petted and snuggling when all of a sudden, WHAM! sharp bunny teeth clamped down on my buddy's nipple. Mind you, my friend was wearing a shirt, so it's not like he could have been offending the rabbit...

They're crazy, them rabbits!

Posted by: BethR at March 18, 2009 9:40 AM

No comment on the rabbit, but I adore your gift to your niece. We did the same thing for my son's 10th birthday and we loved MOMA. We kept losing him there because he was so excited that he scurried around like an squirrel on acid, trying to see everything all at once. I finally relaxed once I figured out that he would always return to his home base of Picasso's "Three Musicians." That piece was like a magnet for him.

I hope you and your niece have a wonderful time!

Posted by: Marla at March 18, 2009 10:24 AM

I wish I'd had a cool aunt like you when I was 15! I wound up living in NYC for a summer pretty much all by myself when I was 19 and getting into...shenanigans...and probably I would've been better off with a cool aunt hanging out with me instead.

PS I think there's another Marla who comments/who you know, and I'm not her, I'm just a silly fangirl from Decatur. :)

Posted by: Marla at March 18, 2009 10:31 AM

I had pet rabbits and they were wonderful! Smart in a sneaky, destructive way and they love to jump on beds. Apples and carrots should be a hit.

Posted by: heather at March 18, 2009 10:33 AM

1. Do you need another niece? Cuz I'm available, never mind that I am older than you.
2. NYC in the spring, sigh.
3. For your daily rabbit fix:

Posted by: kmkat at March 18, 2009 10:43 AM

*snort* Well, it is a lovely rabbit.

I highly recommend MOMA. I love MOMA. No, it doesn't have the Old Masters. But it has Dali's melting clocks, Matisse's paper cutouts, and Magritte's floating hat. It has Starry Night, fercryingoutloud. And let me tell you, seeing a print is NOTHING like seeing the original. It stopped me in my tracks and made me cry.

What plays are you seeing? Do you know yet, or are you going discount?

Jeez. Can you tell it's been a while since I've been to NYC? I miss it!

Posted by: Aimee at March 18, 2009 10:56 AM

Do you think the Bad Cat might like Rabbit TOO much? Not in a friendly way. Just askin'.

Posted by: Melisa at March 18, 2009 11:34 AM

Okay. You are too cool for words. I hope you and your favorite niece have a wonderful time both with AND without rabbit.

Posted by: Roxanne at March 18, 2009 11:40 AM

Oh yes! A pet rabbit is an excellent idea! But make sure that you get a male. For what ever reason boy rabbits are much friendlier than girl rabbits. And they can be very smart. Mine would jump in the bath tub to go to the bathroom (much easier to clean than the floor). And they are not helpless little bunnies. They have very strong back feet which they will use to bop the offending dog or cat right on the head. This is very effective even if the said offender is as big as a golden retreiver! Also, one last good trait - Rabbits do not live as long as cats!

Posted by: Catherine at March 18, 2009 12:06 PM

New rabbit could also have warped personality and be called Boggart the sequal...

Be careful what you wish for YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT!!!

Have a great trip!!!

Posted by: Linda J at March 18, 2009 12:10 PM

I knew some folks that used to have a rabbit in their appartment. It used a litter box but it chewed on the molding and sometimes chords. :/

Posted by: Lia at March 18, 2009 12:13 PM

I had a rabbit when I was a kid. It was white, with a brown spot on its haunch and I called it Popcorn. I have no idea why, as I have never even liked popcorn-the-snack, but I did love Popcorn-the-rabbit.

And then one day I came home from school and Popcorn had "dug out from under the fence". Or so say my parents.

Hope your week with Rabbit and Niece goes well!

Posted by: Damsel at March 18, 2009 12:29 PM

And oh, the ears. The ears are priceless.

Posted by: Sandra Leigh at March 18, 2009 12:44 PM

Next time someone gets tired of you going on about the rabbit, you could put on a Scottish accent and say, "That's no ordinary RABBIT!"

He can even leap up onto beds. But probably he's not the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever laid eyes on.

Have a smashing time in NYC, you and Favorite Niece!

Posted by: Jade at March 18, 2009 1:07 PM

Okay, I'm going to be The Bad Fan, because I'm going to say something completely unrelated, and not say anything about your wonderful gift to your niece or how much I hope you have a great time in NYC or how I hope that Rabbit loves loves LOVES you (in a good way) so much that you must simply VISIT Rabbit regularly and NOT get one of your own, because no other rabbit that you might buy, at a pet store for example, could POSSIBLY be as sweet and cuddly and LOVE you as much as Rabbit.


ANYway, I finished reading (consuming, savoring) Between, Georgia, last night. Remember how I bought it this past Saturday afternoon? And how last night was just Tuesday night? And how I work full-time? Yeah. And I tried to stretch it out and make it last longer! I was ALMOST not on speaking terms with you for a few minutes last night, because of (spoiler....) I recovered (thank you very much for not (SPoiler! hehehehehe)

OMG U R TOADALLY AWWWWWSUMMMM. (Sorry--I seem to have channeled a thirteen-year-old girl there for a minute!) Your writing is like Creme Brulee--part of me wants to scarf it down as fast as I can, while another part of me hesitates even to mar the sugary perfection by cracking the crust! I cannot cannot CANNOT start "gods" until the weekend, because I must get to sleep before 1:00 AM at least one night this week!!!!

Which, ta-DA! is why I sound so loopy today.


Posted by: Jennifer at March 18, 2009 2:04 PM

But now I am buying you a big old box of therapy instead? Hell's twinkie? You are extremely funny today, Miss Joss. I wish I had an aunt like you! :D

Posted by: Heather at March 18, 2009 2:13 PM

That is the coolest birthday present ever. I hope you both have a great time!

As for rabbits, keep in mind that while Rabbit is lovable, the particular rabbit you buy mind end up being, in fact, a Bad Rabbit. How would you know? And then you'd have to get another car or computer or something, just so you could call it The Good Rabbit and make everything right with the world again.

Posted by: Holly at March 18, 2009 4:33 PM

By the way, there's a book called "Enslaved by Ducks" that's about getting a rabbit for a pet (you may think perhaps that other animals are involved, too, but the rabbit is the important one for the moment, okay?). Maybe you should read it. I've read only the first couple pages so far, but it's pretty funny.

Posted by: Holly at March 18, 2009 4:41 PM

Jennifer, you are a PEACH.

ANd Heather, yes yes I giggled myself sick over ensaved by ducks -- I read goodly chunks of it at my friend Sara's house.

Posted by: joshilyn at March 18, 2009 9:11 PM

Loopy loopy loo!

Sorry about the (spoilers)! I am reeeeely loopy today (and that is SO much different from other days, really it is!), and did not realize it would be a spoiler to write about "Between, Georgia," and mention how (spoiler spoiler spoiler) and then they (spoiler spoiler), but it was moving and touching and wonderful!! I wish I could have been there to see (spoiler spoiler). But seriously, I WAS trying to be circumspect. I just can't when I'm loopy.

Did you know, if you say OR write the word "spoiler" enough, it stops sounding like a real word and starts sounding like a one of those springy toys (the name of which is probably copyrighted, so I can't write it, blah blah blah) walking down stairs?

I'm not a dangerous fan, really I'm not, I'm just a little tired right now. Aaand not getting to bed at a reasonable hour AGAIN tonight.

Loopy loo-ing away nao,


Posted by: Jennifer at March 19, 2009 12:07 AM

My husband isn't an animal person. Maybe I can convience him that a rabbit isn't like a dog or cat and therefore completely reasonable to have in the house. Makes sense, right?

Good luck with RABBIT!

Posted by: Nik at March 19, 2009 3:58 AM

You're the best aunt ever! Have a great trip!

Posted by: Terri at March 19, 2009 9:09 AM

Ha! That'll teach Scott to pin down the details. My father once told us no more cats and we brought home pet rats :)

Also, that bunny looks huge! I wonder if it is a flemish giant. My kids have been begging for a flemish giant since we saw one at a pet store.

Posted by: Laura L at March 19, 2009 11:24 AM

Wouldn't it have been too cool if you'd bought an orange VW Rabbit and named it The Good Cat?!

Posted by: RuthWells at March 19, 2009 11:50 AM

YOU'RE HERE??? IN TOWN??? THIS WEEKEND??? I am not going to be a bad fan, really I'mnot, but you really really are my favorite author and one of the things I'm using to get myself through PA school is that even though I never buy books in hardback or spend more than $2 on a fiction book (I'm a student, ok? Don't be mad) I'm going straight out to buy your new book the DAY it comes out and I will cancel everything and stay home and read it.

Seriously, I had to send your first three books to my sister (who also loves them) so I would not REREAD them during FINALS!

Are you doing anything public while you're here? I love NYC, although it isn't really really springy, yet. Have a fantastic time.

Posted by: elizabeth at March 19, 2009 2:34 PM

love the entry today - I too promised my husband no more cats, but never said nothin about no rabbits, I wonder if I could convice him it was just another toy? By the way, I was introduced to your blog by MY wonderful aunt, who also once promised that she would take me anywhere in the world for my sixteenth birthday. Today's entry has reminded me that I still have not claimed that trip, despite being almost twice that old and having three kids of my own now. I wonder if the offer still stands. My kids should be alright if I leave for a week or so - I'll put food out. Ha Ha - enjoy New York!!

Posted by: kate at March 19, 2009 4:31 PM

Aw thanks ELizabeth -- but no, this is just a pleasure trip. I am so not doing any work of ANY KIND that it isn't even TAX DEDUCATBLE. Hee!

Posted by: joshilyn at March 19, 2009 4:32 PM

That letter to your niece will mean more to her in ten years than any car. :o)

Rabbit is SO cute. The lop-eared ones are the best.

Posted by: SaltedWithShadows at March 19, 2009 7:29 PM

I've had two rabbits in my lifetime named Coco Bunny and George Washington (yes, that was his real name.) George Washington did indeed jump up on the bed by himself all the time. He was a black and white dutch rabbit (that's what the markings are called.) I'd say for a rabbit, George was indeed a smart one. Oh and he was litter trained and used his own cat litter pan and put himself in his own pet carrier at night to sleep.

Posted by: Trace at March 19, 2009 11:11 PM

Oh mi goodness Bunny love.

Posted by: Cele at March 20, 2009 12:10 AM

The rabbit is very, very cute and seems quite cuddly!

Ray sent me here. I documented Pig's latest caper.

Enjoy your visit!

Posted by: May at March 21, 2009 4:09 PM