Monthly Archives: August 2008

Ridiculously Happy

The other day we were at the beach, just a few steps away from the house, and everyone on the shore started going wild. We turned to look to see where everyone was pointing, and we saw it. DOLPHINS!

In the wild!

Jumping up and down on the waves!

Just twenty feet off the shore!

A few feet from our house!

We started yelling and waving and laughing, and picking up the kid and pointing and yelling some more.

DOLPHINS!

All of us had these huge, silly, ridiculously HAPPY grins on our faces. My husband, my kid, my sister, her family, a couple of friends who were visiting that weekend.

It was really, really cool. And we’re not even in Hawaii. I always used to think you had to travel all the way to the Aloha state, pay a couple hundred bucks to go on one of those private catamaran tours, to go see dolphins in the wild.

Turns out you can see them just off the California coast an hour away from the Hollywood Hills.

How awesome is that?

It’s been a mellow vacation. Today we took the kid to the Santa Barbara zoo. You know what’s the complete opposite of seeing dolphins in the wild? Elephants at the zoo. I have never seen a sadder animal. Sigh. It’s the Discovery Channel vacation over here.

xoxo
Mel

Masquerade Ball!!!

As reported here earlier, we are having a Masquerade Ball to celebrate the release of Revelations. The Scottsdale Public Library in beautiful sunny Arizona (I told you, I always sound like the Price is Right Host) is hosting it at the Civic Center location in downtown Scottsdale. The Ball is set for 7:30 PM on November 7th (Saturday). Come dressed as your favorite character from the series, meet me, and there will be music, dancing, and lots of fun treats. More information to come soon!

I’m also going on tour this October/November to promote Blue Bloods 3: Revelations and The Ashleys 4: Lipgloss Jungle. Tour schedule up soon!

It’s the dog days of summer, which is funny because here in SoCal (the birthplace of beach volleyball—and hello, how awesome is it to see Karch Kiraly back on TV? In high school, my sister and I had huge crushes on Karch and the men’s beach volleyball team, which I blame on our all-girls-school myopia. Boys were such exotic creatures back then), anyway, as I was saying, here in SoCal, it just feels like any other week… I miss the East Coast sometimes, I miss how intensely we held on to summer, knowing it was going to be gone soon and in a few months’ time we would be bundled up in our big sweaters and huge coats and throwing parties meant a mountain of coats and hats and scarves thrown over the bed to slink around in tank tops for a drink or two (or five to be perfectly honest) and then having to put it all back on again.

I miss Shelter Island, and how we used to take that Jitney for three hours, get to the end of the line, and then hop on a ferry. The ferry always made it so special, like we were being transported to a magical place, and how the island was so small and our house so close to the ferry we could walk there—our rolling suitcases going donk donk donk over the cobblestones.

But when I think about how LONG it used to take to get to the Hamptons—three hours?? Or more?? Pfffft. It takes us less than an hour to get to our beach house now. And it’s summer here for six months. It never rains from July to December. The other day it rained by the beach and we all went outside to look at it in wonder.

So even though I do miss the East Coast a lot, maybe I just miss my friends and colleagues, although I do think I just missed the sense of the place—of I don’t know how to put it more elegantly—OLDNESS. Here in LA, everything is so sparkly and new. There’s no sense of history, I guess, is what I’m missing.

But the other day I was driving down Santa Monica Boulevard in the luxury SUV and the sky was a clear, robins-egg blue and the palm trees were so pretty lined up against the boulevard, and I felt…happy. I felt that same feeling I used to get when I used to walk across Columbia’s campus and read the names on the buildings: Socrates, Aristotle, Homer, Herodotus—a feeling of being inspired and grateful to be in the right place at the right time. It’s that same feeling I used to get when I would walk on West End Avenue, at the very top of the hill, and the Hudson River framed between the buildings, just so beautiful. Well, it’s taken four LONG years in LA to feel that way, but I do feel that way now…

I love LA. I love how brash and vulgar and tacky it is, but also how mellow and easy it can be (because hey, it’s all good, it’s sunny, right?) and yet underlying it is that thrum of desperate ambition and social anxiety that fuels the whole scene. I love that we’re a bit outside of it enough not to be consumed by it, and yet close enough that Mike and I can laugh about all the inside things and feel smug like we know a little bit about how the town is run.

Right now I am obsessed with Desperate Housewives of the O.C., I think mostly because it shows a subject that I (and a lot of people) find inherently fascinating. Like: how far can your beauty take you? It’s so interesting to me that so many of those ladies were Playboy Playmates. And are doing well for themselves. This is just the opposite of what I and Mike know, since we come from families that stressed academic achievement (Mike’s brother is a rocket scientist at NASA) and all our friends are snooty intellectual Ivy League types. Of course, there’s always the beautiful socialite or beautiful girl from a good family who marries very high up into a, well, very very very good family, like some of the girls from my high school who went on to marry assorted heirs to brand-name fortunes. So I am well familiar with that type of beauty success story.

But I always thought that girls who doffed it all for skin mags ended up dead of an overdose or homeless and eating out of garbage cans and all those other tragic, lurid stories we hear so much about. But there’s Jeana, (one of the real housewives) who was like Miss November 1980, and god, she was GORRRRGEOUS back then. And her daughter is STUNNING. (All her kids are great-looking although the firstborn son, Shayne, is a total asshat.) And Jeana’s now Miss Real Estate Makes Her Own Money Lady, and she was going on the Playmate reunion with the other girls, and they were talking about how being Playmates was such a great experience for them, and how it was like being in a sorority and how it never hurt them at all.

And how about Laurie (another housewife) who was also some sort of Playmate and after some rough financial years is now marrying some nice, dorky, super-rich guy who has some sort of ranch and is generous with gifts of sportscars and Rolex watches.

It’s weird, you know? Because coasting on one’s looks is not an option for a lot of us, as cute as all of us are. And c’mon, we’re cute, we’re pretty. But there’s something about beauty—that whole—hair, eyes, figure, height, package that can get you things easily without having to sweat out that MBA. But I still think it’s luck and timing, you could so easily still end up in the garbage can since you have nothing to fall back on.

And beauty is just a genetic lottery. No matter how some people strive for it—no amount of plastic surgery is going to turn anyone into a supermodel. (I just heard they are finding Botox in people’s brains now. Ewww! And also: Dang. I’ve never ruled out the poison shot because hello, furrows! But now that news gives me pause.) Anyway, you are either born with it or not. And since a lot of us are not born to be 5’10” and 34D, then we might as well just hit the books. Because it’s a surer thing.

Real Housewives of the O.C. – as complex as a Flaubert novel! Not!! But still, great fun.

xoxo
Mel

Samplers are Gone!

They went like the wind. There are no more samplers. But we should have e-mail sneak peeks at least a month before Revelations is out. I still don’t have clearance to send them which is why you haven’t received them. I’m so sorry. But hopefully hopefully hopefully we will get the greenlight soon.

Not much to report: it’s summer, things are lazy even though I look at my TO-DO List and there are so many things on it. Like filling out applications for nursery school. The private-school smackdown begins for us this year. We’re already upset that we can’t even TOUR one of the schools on our list because we don’t know anyone whose kids go to that school. It’s all about who you know, even at twenty-one months. But that’s okay, that school is just strictly nursery. And the only reason we like that school is because the architecture and design is really fab. One of the parents is a well-known designer (hint: a judge on Top Design). But now we have our sights on bigger fish.

I’ve been going on studio meetings and all we talk about is the private school dance. It’s like a bonding experience, like surviving boot camp. Apparently a lot of people apply to fifteen FIFTEEN!! kindergartens. Which should give me nightmares but actually isn’t at all. Because I applied to TWENTY-ONE colleges. So I’ve been there. Yeah. TWENTY-ONE. My dad was really worried I wouldn’t get into one because I had this ridiculous math score. Okay, so the first time I took the math test, I got like, 300. Yup. 300. I think they give you 200 points for just dotting in your name, right? My dad was HORRIFIED. My dad is a math genius, so he just couldn’t understand how I could do that badly. Can I add that I got a perfect verbal score? 800? But that didn’t count. He thought schools would just dismiss me because of the total: 1100. They wouldn’t see the high verbal score, they’d just think I was totally average.

So I took the SATs SEVEN times, and my dad re-taught me algebra, and finally, finally, I pulled up my math score to 550. And with the perfect verbal score of 800, I got a decent 1350, which meant at least the Ivy colleges wouldn’t vomit all over my application when they got it.

But Pop was still worried, so he had me apply to all these schools that I had no intention of ever attending, and which were all—sorry to be so rude—safeties. I think I had FIFTEEN safety schools. I got into every one, with major scholarships. I think there was one school where if I went, my parents would not have to pay anything, and the school would even pay ME, a $5000 stipend every semester. And it was by the beach and super-laid back. My dad said, “Beach house, beach house, beach house.”

I was like, IN YOUR DREAMS, POP! I didn’t put nose-to-grindstone and have an awful time in high school just so I could graduate from Beach House U.

When I was a senior in high school, my dream school was Stanford. Because I grew up in San Francisco, Stanford was the ne plus ultra of schools. In California, it’s the most desired school. And I wanted an IN YOUR FACE school. Like, I got into Stanford, IN YOUR FACE, biatches!

But I didn’t get into Stanford. That was a really sad day.

And I didn’t get into Brown either. My second choice. Because um, no grades??? I was UP for that.

But I did get into Columbia, which was my other second choice because it’s in New York. And my college counselor said they would love me at Columbia and I would love it just as much. And hello: New York! Nightclubs! The Palladium! Andy Warhol! Hello! And they gave me an almost full-ride too. In fact, Columbia was the most generous of the Ivies my family has attended.

At Yale, when my dad’s check would be late or bounce, they would not give my sister her dorm keys or let her register. There was no such B.S. at Columbia, a friend of mine whose parents were going through a tough time financially was able to go three full years before the school finally said um, you have to pay us something. It probably came from how disorganized the financial aid office was, but I also like to think it was from the school’s deep-seated understanding of how not all of its students were swanning in with major trustfunds, which I think comes from the people who ran those offices, who mostly lived in Harlem and the Bronx. You know? New York is a tough town but it’s got a great heart.

At Columbia if you were a financial aid student, you could even get short-term CASH loans from the school to cover food and stuff. You would just fill out a form and they would give you cash!

Like manna from heaven.

I did love Columbia, and so many of the wonderful people in my life are from that school, my husband for one. And I probably would have hated Stanford since I loved Columbia so much. At Columbia there was the Art Suite and the Prose Kitchen and Hot Jazz and Champagne and if we didn’t want to do that we had all of New York at our feet. Meet you at the Sound Factory at 2AM! Every time I visited friends who went to Stanford they were playing Scrabble. Need I say more.

So you know, people: if you don’t get into your first choice, it’s not the end of the world. Really, so many things are not the end of the world in life.

Your top school didn’t take you? Not the end of the world. You’ll get in somewhere better for you. Your crush doesn’t crush you back? Not the end of the world. You’ll find a cuter guy who does. Your husband isn’t get getting you a Birkin for your birthday? ARMAGEDDON! Snarf. Just kidding. He already said he was getting it for me. But now I am wondering if I still want one. You know how they say the anticipation is sweeter than the thing itself. So we’ll see. I kind of like just wanting one. Once I do get one I’ll be so bored. Such is life.

So I’m trying to not get too crazy as we go through these nursery school rounds. Mattie will be fine. There are many great schools and she’ll be happy wherever she ends up.

And so will you. I know applications for college aren’t due till this December, right? But don’t stress so much. And if you don’t get into your first choice, like one of my dearest friends Garret who didn’t get into Stanford and had to go to Columbia, you can always transfer to Stanford your junior year (like the traitor he was!) and then go back and visit all your friends at Columbia every semester and get homesick for New York and then end up at Columbia Law School anyway. I’m jus’ sayin’.

xoxo
Mel

The Samplers are in the Mail, Finally!

Phew! The last two days have turned my mom’s house into a full-on mailing center. I didn’t realize when I decided to run this poetry contest it would entail so much…excel spreadsheets, mail merge, labeling, stuffing and dragging everything to the post office where everything had to be stamped BY HAND. But it’s all good, thanks to my little brother (Thanks Chit!!) who was the mastermind of the whole operation (suffice to say I’m no organizational genius), especially since when I said we’d ship internationally, I meant it, and we were so thrilled to see so many of my readers from Dubai, Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, Argentina, France, Australia and New Zealand enter the contest! And all the Americans too—it’s amazing to see where you guys are from, to think that people are reading the books in places I have never been, touches me to no end.

Turned out we had about a hundred extra samplers, so everyone who emailed their address also received a sampler. (Even some of the late stragglers). And we still have thirty samplers left, that’s it, no more after that, so the first thirty people who email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with their mailing address will also receive a sampler.

So look for the packages in your in-box soon. I also autographed all the samplers. My signature might look wobbly in some of the books since I got a little hand-cramp but have no doubt that I personally signed each one.

The beach was nooooice and we go back this weekend and then spending the rest of August in the beach house. I’m reading my new BFF, Jen Lancaster, who wrote Bitter is the New Black; Bright Lights, Big Ass; and Such a Pretty Fat. She’s heeeelarious and good company by the pool. Her first book is about how she dealt with the crash of 2001, when everyone was laid off, including her and her husband, and how they had to go from their dot-com money loft to being evicted from a ghetto apartment. I could totally relate to her story because Mike and I also had a hard 2001, when we were both laid off from jobs that year, and it was so hard to be suddenly struggling after being “thousandaires” as Jen calls it.

We never had a dot-com loft, but I did have a cushy job at Morgan Stanley during the boom, and when that ended it was really really difficult but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Sure, it’s stressful and a downer not to be able to shop, and to feel like you’re on the downside of the fabled American dream, but what I remember most from that time is the solidarity with our friends, many of whom were going through the same thing, all of us on unemployment checks, and how we would all just laugh about it over drinks at seedy bars in the East Village, looking for the cheapest sushi places available, and really… just laughing through the gloom. Because really awful things happened that year too, and losing your job (I think between Mike and I we were laid off from seven jobs that year – we were always lucky enough to get another one, but then that company would fold too, or projects wouldn’t happen) didn’t matter so much since we still had each other, our families, our friends, which is really what counts in life, right? Birkin bags are just icing.

I also bought the new Laurie Notaro book, and Chelsea Handler’s first book, My Horizontal Life. It’s all about funny ladies this August.

xoxo
Mel

Interview about Crazy Hot

I did an interview with the enchanting Lisa of Enchanting Reviews.
Check it out!

I turned in my book and we are off to the beach. Happy weekend!

xoxo
Mel

I kissed a girl…

And I liked it!
Taste of her cherry chapstick…
I kissed a girl just to try it!
Hope my boyfriend don’t mind it…

This song is stuck in my head, and you can imagine me driving my Mercedes SUV (yeah shut up, my commute is within my own house from bed to desk and I fill up the tank like, once a month!) singing this song at the top of my lungs. And then when I meet up with my girlfriends (all of us now daaangerously in the Sex and the City age. Which is we are all in our thirties. How did this happen??? It is just WRONG) anyway when we get together, we sing this song to each other in high-pitched voices and squeallll…

Yes, that is how much fun hanging out with me can be…

I am forever thirteen, although it’s SO much more fun to be thirteen going on thirty than my real thirteenth year. See prior post: K-mart togs. Need I say more.

Although lately I am FUGLY. Ugh. Which means it is book deadline time. Does anyone still read Piers Anthony? Remember how Chameleon would go from gorgeous and stupid to smart and ugly? And she was best when she was moderately pretty and reasonably smart? I’m kind of in the smart and ugly phase as I’m trying desperately to finish my book so I can go on vacaaation.

My dad says because I work from home my life is a vacation. Which is sort of true. But even if one works for themselves like Mike and I do, we still need vacations once in a while. And once you work for yourself you never stop working anyway…

Speaking of, I should go back to work. Think: beach house, beach house, beach house. If I turn in the book on Thursday we can go to our beach house on Friday.

It felt so wrong,
It felt so right,
Don’t mean I’m in love tonight….

I KISSED A GIRL!

You should too. Just to try it. 🙂

xoxo
Mel

PS- I know, I know, sneak peeks have not yet gone out. I have not yet gotten the greenlight from my publisher. Also, the cover that’s been released on Amazon is not the final one. We’re still tweaking it although it is VERY close to the final one. As for the sneak-peeks. Patience my friends. Just like that old G&R song says. Paaaayyyyytienceeeee….

Happy Birthday to the Ashleys: Birthday Vicious out today!

Uh-huh, uh-huh, that’s right.

The Ashleys: BIRTHDAY VICIOUS, book three in my social-climbing seventh-graders series, is out today!

Order yours here from B&N or Amazon!

You’ll notice we have a spanking new redesign of the cover package – the Ashleys are now in technicolor! And swirly patterns. Noice.

I had a lot of fun writing this one, about Ashley Spencer’s INSANE Super-Sweet Thirteen birthdaganza…. when I was a kid, birthdays were HUGE, HUGE, HUGE deals in my family… there were clowns, amusement park rides (I still remember feeling dizzy from the spinning thing), magicians, catering, hundreds of guests… then we moved to America and it all ended since we were now poor immigrants. I remember for my fourteenth birthday I got a $50 shopping spree to K-MART!!! Oy, how the mighty fall… I still remember what I bought too: two plaid skirts and two blouses from the Jacyln Smith collection. Ouch!! Does anyone understand now why I must have a Birkin?? To assuage all those bad-fashion memories.

MY birthday’s coming up soon…what are you all getting me??? A fabulous surprise party with tons of celebrity guests?? A Birkin in an orange box the size of a car??? My favorite birthday girl is Edina from Absolutely Fabulous. Here she is, on receiving a pair of earrings from her daughter, Saffie on her birthday.

Eddie: Oh, sweetie, sweetie… Oooh, sweetie, darling… Darling, they’re gorgeous.
Saffron: I’m glad you like them.
Eddie: I mean, Lacroix, darling… They ARE Lacroix, aren’t they, darling? They’re not just something you put in the box, are they, sweetie?
Saffron: Do you like them or not?
Eddie: I like them if they’re Lacroix.

THAT’S RIGHT: I LIKE THEM IF THEY’RE LACROIX! SAY IT WITH ME, DARLINGS!

Anyway, hope all YOUR birthday wishes come true.

xoxo
Mel

Getcher Addresses In, The Importance of Guacamole

Hey kids,

So about two-thirds of you poetry entrants have sent in your addresses so we can send over chapter samplers, lipglosses, etc. But fully one-third of you have not! One hundred poets have not sent in their addresses! If you wrote a poem for the contest and received an email from me asking for your address, please send your mailing address to me ASAP. The deadline for sending in your address is FRIDAY, AUGUST 8TH.

Also: I have 35 extra chapter samplers! If you would like one, just email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), subject line: EXTRA SAMPLER PLEASE! and include your mailing address. Anyone who would like one should email me by AUGUST 8TH also.

Why August 8th? Because my fulfillment center (ie, little brother) is going back to New York the week after that, and after he leaves, it’s going to be slow as molasses getting these mailers out. So I’m jus’ sayin…

I had a bit of a sick-cation, as both me and Mike caught the kid’s stomach bug. So I spent the week holed up in bed watching Living Lohan, Denise Richards ‘It’s Complicated!!!’, Flipping Out, and Date my Ex: Jo and Slade. Good times. Living Lohan is kind of like watching a car wreck slowly… although I hate to be too mean because really, what do you expect? But I like Ali’s new single (I had to go allllll arounddddd agaaaaiiinnn…) and I think she’s really cute and if Ashlee Simpson is a star then I can’t see why Ali can’t be one. I liked the Denise Richards show, although it somehow reminded me of Kathy Griffin’s show, except not funny. Still, I kind of dug the white-trash pride she displayed. And I’m OBSESSED with Flipping Out.

Do you watch this show? It has this perfect-looking well-groomed super-OCD real estate guy and he berates his assistant in one episode because the assistant has forgotten something VERY important for his lunch:

“We ALWAYS get GUACAMOLE when we go to El Pollo Loco”.

Say it with an eye roll and an eyebrow raise.

And say El Pollo Loco as if you are saying “Le Bernardin”.

That guy is HILARIOUS! 

So now all week I’ve been saying to Mike, “We allllwayss get guah-camole when we go to Elll Poyo Low-co!”

I have forced the husband to watch my shows with me while he’s sick too. That’s what you get when you don’t program YOUR shows into the DVR. And really, we have watched all those episodes of Voyager way too many times.

What else? Oh the Jo and Slade show. I also got mildly obsessed with the Real Housewives of the O.C. show because it was just a window into what a different family is like. And what different values are like. I always knew (even when I complained about them in my super-secret diary) that I was really lucky because my family is very functional: supportive, smart, funny, close. I mean, we have our problems, like everyone else, and we’re not perfect (even though we were constantly accused of being so, especially when my brother was 8th grade valedictorian and his so-called “friends” egged our house graduation night. I mean, HONESTLY) but the people on that show are just…I mean, the boob jobs, the mom-holding-on-to-her-twenties-as-hard-as-she-can… My mom was a supercalifashionista and always looks fabulous, but she stressed education and academic achievement above everything, but not in the super-pressure-Asian-cooker household-way either, where the nerdy Asian kids offed themselves if they didn’t get A’s. We were never like that. We only got beaten when we got B’s. SNARF!! What I mean to say is: in my family, we learned to want to succeed for our own sakes, and not to please our parents. And I’m probably the nerdiest kid in my family. I came to my social graces way late. My sister can WORK a room man, and my brother enters every party with his hands up in the air, to celebrate that he has ARRIVED.

Anyway, that was a big tangent from what I really wanted to blog about: Slade’s LA hipster wardrobe. On the Real Housewives show, he was this regular real estate guy, just wearing suburban-dad clothes. But now on this show, he’s morphed into the actor-moron-wardrobe. The one with the wool newsboy caps and the studded t-shirts and the five o’clock shadow. What is this look??? Why do all these cheesy Hollywood guys adopt it??? It’s soooo puke-alicious. They all look like wannabe Brad Pitts…who BARELY gets away with it. I guess they all want to look like celebrities? Like it’s the male celebrity “uniform” even? Sigh. I guess. I understand about the uniform. I had to wear the fashion uniform when I was a fashion editor. (But hey, it’s a good one.) The LA one is just…I think the male celeb outfit takes ten points off your I.Q.

In other fun news: First pass proofs of THE ASHLEYS: LIPGLOSS JUNGLE came in! Yay! And I’m almost done with the first draft of GIRL STAYS IN THE PICTURE. And working on all this fun new stuff I can’t wait to share…

Have a great weekend everyone. And get those addresses in!!!

xoxo
Mel