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A pOptimistic Christmas Note

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s Christmas note announces the end of the ABCityblog sitcom as we know it, but the launch of a new pOptimistic network.

2010 Christmas Card Wreath

Receiving Christmas cards is one of my great holiday joys.  I’m not one of those curmudgeons who complain about the cutesy pictures of kids posed in their holiday finest, or roll my eyes at the “year in the life” letters that could have used a deft editing touch.  In the age of Facebook, when you’re only one passive peek away from knowing the latest thought of your 389th best friend, I find Christmas cards wonderfully anachronistic.

Maybe it’s the sense of anticipation that has me addicted to holiday snail mail.  Will I make it back onto the Jewish Billionaire’s Christmas card list having run into him on book tour a couple times this year?  No, but his company sent me an e-greeting with a recipe for a trifle.  Bah-humbug. Will Tyra see her way clear to forgive a little out-of-context PageSix book publicity?  Unfortunately, no.

But then there are the true friends and family on whose cards I can always count.  Frida’s veterinary pet insurance kicks in the season early with a note that arrives right after Thanksgiving.  My 83 year-old Uncle Cleigh typically sends a picture montage card—usually posed with his dogs and sky diving on his last birthday.  My best gay Gareth chooses a homosexually charged fold-over.  Keith mails an artistic and intricate pop-up cut out.  Cathy manages to unearth yet another jokey Mexican theme featuring yet another Chihuahua, this year posed in a sweater with message, “Fleece Navidad.”  Which, by the way, has Chef in stitches—never underestimate the power of homonym humor to a non-native speaker.

Given my love of the card tradition, you’d think I’d get in on the action.  But no, I’m just a greeting voyeur.  And I don’t even feel guilty about it.  I suppose if you get right down to it, that’s what this blog is really: each post one big Christmas card note, a snapshot of my thinking at a certain point in time.

Here then is my (electronic) Christmas card missive:

With Chef in Mexico

Dear friends, family, fans and casual readers—

2010 has been a life-changing year for me, and I couldn’t have done it without the love of Chef, my partner of a decade (yikes!), not to mention all the encouragement and support you’ve given me along the way.  A year ago, the success of this blog in connecting with readers convinced me to muster the courage and independently publish my humorous memoir Alphabet City.  And what a joyous journey—both literal and emotional—with consequences I never anticipated.

On book tour, I had the opportunity to connect personally with so many of you who graciously opened your homes for book parties with friends.  Christine E., Cathy, Mandy and the ladies of Chi Omega in Dallas/Ft. Worth made my hometown welcoming again—and the reconnection with my stepmother Christine C. was an early Christmas gift.

Alphabet City themed cupcakes at sister-in-law Laura's party

My Mexican family—Isabel in S. Florida, and in-laws Laura and Miguel in Boston—thanks for trying to translate Mary Tyler Moore to a Latino audience.  Of course, the coastal gays jumped into action: Bryan K. for the first Manhattan gathering, Larry for LA’s Gay Pride, Chris and Tom for a weekend on Fire Island.  I had the opportunity to see dear friends blossoming in their new homes: Kara in DC, Dana in LA, and Jimmy in Madison.  Old friends like Shannon took me to new places like Lubbock where her sister Colleen charmed the boots off of me!  Even older friends (and family) introduced me to their new friends and family: sister Paige to the Whole Foods gang, Valerie to Austin’s Media Mavens, including Tammy and her gorgeously renovated historic abode.  Not to mention the reconnections along the way: Kathryn, Mila, Julia, and Diana.

The love I felt from you, your friends, and the fans I met along the way, made me truly believe that I have a unique, fun and optimistic voice that is connecting with readers.  And that is what has given me the courage to announce my next journey: following my passion and dream of being a writer, and doing so full-time.

An optimistic attitude, like Mary Tyler Moore

That means I bid a fond farewell to life as a marketing/public relations consultant, and say hello to the life of a writer.  While I anticipate many ups and downs, I’ve learned that my passion, creativity, hard work and optimistic attitude can take me far.  Already, my focus and energy landed me an important story for Condé Nast Traveler (watch for it in March 2011).  And I have many more exciting changes in store, including a complete redesign and relaunch of this blog.  The topics I write about are more than can be captured in a sitcom called Alphabet City.  With favorite shows like Tex and the City (culture), Green Globe Trekker (travel), and 40, Love (life), and soon-to-be-released shows like Service Entrance (food) and Biz Savvy Blogger (technology), I may just need my own network—like Oprah.  As the wise and wealthy media mogul says herself in promos for her OWN channel:

“What if I could take every story that ever moved me?  Every lesson that motivated me?  Every opportunity that was given to me?  All of my most special celebrations?  And shared them with you?”

Some might call that nauseating, others might call that Facebook and Twitter, but I’m calling the new JP network:

Watch for this fresh, frank, fun website-network to launch in the New Year.  I can’t wait to share this next part of the journey with you.  As Oprah says, “Oooh, this is gonna be good!”

Until then, wishing you a

Viewer programming note: To prepare for the Poptimistic programming change and to celebrate the season, ABCityblog will be going on hiatus—except for instances of breaking thoughts/news.

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Sneak Peek: 40, Love

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul uses his summer break from book tour to work on his mid-life/season replacement 40, Love.

photo by Jamie Beck

It’s been a wonderful month off from book tour, allowing me to suffer enjoy New York City in the summer.  Taking advantage of our garden oasis for dinner under the twinkle lights, and writing al fresco.  You might have noticed that blog posts have slowed recently, probably assuming I might be falling into a lazier rhythm during the summer.  But not so.  In response to many on book tour who wanted to know if there would be a follow-up, a sequel, the answer is ABSOLUTELY – I’m flattered you asked and are interested.  I’ve taken time during my mini-break to start work on it, and thought I’d share with you what’s in store in 40, Love.  Here’s a little summary from my pitch:

40, Love picks up where Alphabet City left off: Jon Paul as gay Mary Tyler Moore—in therapy and facing a possible midlife crisis.  While Alphabet City details his zany adventures as a publicist for Tyra, Whoopi and magazine giant Condé Nast, Jon Paul’s new book 40, Love follows the transplanted Texan’s battle to overcome life’s roadblocks by learning to love himself at (almost) middle age.

After a successful run as the lead character in what he thought of as a sitcom life set in the East Village, Jon Paul purchases a brownstone in Upper Manhattan thanks to a big salary from a new high-powered publicity job.  Soon enough, Jon Paul faces a series of mounting problems: his tormented relationship with his famous Texas father rears its ugly head; his new career isn’t what it’s cracked up to be; and jealousy about his partner’s tight-knit Latino family threatens to break them apart.

Worried that his sitcom life storylines have veered off-track, Jon Paul takes a cue from other New Yorkers and heads to therapy.  While learning to conquer old familial demons, Jon Paul charts an alternative career path, confronts weight issues, expands his cooking repertoire, returns to the tennis court, suffers painful beauty treatments, dives into the tattoo underworld, tests sexual boundaries, saves his relationship, embraces his South of the Border in-laws, worries about gay marriage, announces his engagement, considers becoming a parent, and celebrates two 40th birthdays—all with the wit, charm and optimism of his ‘70s TV idol.

Once again, just like Mary, he discovers he’s going to make it after all.

But first, I’m back out on the road with the Alphabet City Book Party Tour – Part 2.  Friends in Texas are pulling out all the stops in Lubbock where one of my biggest blog readers Co Co has me all set-up for an event at Identity Ink Tattoo. Chef is worried I might come back with yet another tattoo—and he might be right.  Later, in Austin, dear friends Valerie and Philippa are pulling out all the stops with events filled with media luminaries and must-read authors.

A new review is definitely getting me back in touring mode—my new friend Kimmie, editor in chief of lifestyle blog Kitten Lounge, has been singing Alphabet City praises

As I read this book on the plane I found myself laughing and relating to many of the mishaps that he goes through and you also get a sense of NYC in a time before I arrived…Being someone who came from Indiana and moved out here to make it big and my mark, I knew that there would be some great stories…Much like Devil Wears Prada allows us to live in the splashy world of glitz and glamour while seeing the sacrifices that are being made by the newbie, Jon Paul shares these struggles as well. This is definitely a book that I would suggest reading and in fact, I passed mine along to my bestie who had heard me talk so much about this book as it’s a great read! If you enjoy Mary Tyler Moore as much as Jon Paul and I do, then you will love his references even more!

Kimmie, a gorgeous former lingerie and swimsuit model, has promised to take a picture of her reading Alphabet City poolside in a bikini at Las Vegas’ The Venetian next week.  I’m holding her to that—that picture could be golden in convincing publishers that the audience for Alphabet City and 40, Love isn’t just gay guys but includes women.

Hell, with a picture like that, I might even pick up some straight guys.  Fingers crossed.

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