Monthly Archives: September 2007

Event Sept. 30 in the O.C.! New interviews!

Hello, Hello!

First off, I’ll be at the Orange County Children’s Book Festival this weekend – on Sunday, Sept 30th from 2-3pm at the First Page bookstore.

Orange Coast College
2701 Fairview Road
Costa Mesa, CA  92628

Come by and say "Welcome to the O.C., biatch!"

Hee hee!

Also, I did some interviews recently.  Here is one and here is the other.


If loving Fashion is Wrong, I don’t want to be Right

I just got back from Barney’s….mmmm. There has been a LOT of shopping going on. UNDOCUMENTED! LOL! Once in a while I get paralyzed by guilt or wake up to the fact that people actually read this blog. I started this blog documenting my shopping because I myself am fascinated by what people buy, and what they actually spend on things. I like to know the hard numbers. I think it makes shopping much more realistic. But this past month I got kind of freaked out by the fact that people–anyone–could see how much I was REALLY spending on clothes and that scared me. Like, my husband? Or my mom? (Actually only those two.)

Also, I think that when you put things in hard numbers–people tend to judge. You know? Like the "what kind of person would spend THAT much money on THAT" kind of thinking. And I started to shudder. Because, you know, I’m a writer, and us writers have to wear like holey sweaters and look really frumpy for anyone to consider our writing worthwhile. Somehow being fashionable and a writer shouldn’t go hand-in-hand. Unless you’re Danielle Steele or Candace Bushnell.

So glad for the Candace Bushnells of the world! Also, I have to say that many writers I know are tres tres chic. Like Cecil Castellucci, who always looks marvelous in her beaded vintage sweaters and quirky glasses (if you ever have a chance, you must go hear Cecil read from her work, she is SUCH a great reader and puts on a riveting show), and Lisi Harrison, who rocks a sexy, sexy jean look with her fabulous shaggy hair (she looks like the coolest AND nicest girl in school–you know, the benevolent popular one), and Gigi Grazer, who wore skinny J. Brand jeans, Lanvin gold flats and a solid-colored balloony-silk blouse to one of the readings for our anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys (and whose outfit inspired me so much that all I wear these days are skinny J. Brand jeans, Lanvin flats and solid colored balloon-y blouses).  My dear friend Anna David whose novel Party Girl recently came out always looks divine in her casual, sexy Cali-girl vibe. I know so many good-looking writers. And no, they’re not just "book hot" as Gawker says. They’re hot-hot! See, you can be pretty AND smart…

Anyway, I digress. I haven’t been posting my shopping expenditures because I have also been in denial about my shopping. I thought this season I could try to contain it by only spending $10,000 on new clothes. $10,000 should be enough right? Even though I work from home and only go out one night a week when the nanny can babysit. Hee. But then I spent a little here and a little there and didn’t keep track and now I’m worried I’ve already spent my budget and I don’t have anything "editorial."

So I’m starting anew. Here are my purchases for Fall 2007: A fabulous black Balenciaga jacket (it’s the 10th one when you click through the collection). It’s tres tres fab. It fits LIKE BUTTER. Oh. My. God. It’s insane.  It’s the best thing that’s ever fit me. I want to wear it everyday. It was $2300. Yoiks. But do the fashion math: It’s a museum piece! And apparently this might be Nicholas Ghesquirre’s last season for Balenciaga, and everyone (that is fashionistas in the know) agrees it’s his best yet. I’m also on the wait list for this blazer (it’s the third one from the left, the blue with the piping). Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s about $2500. And yes, I know it’ll get knocked off from here to Forever 21, but no one can copy the insanely beautiful fit, and the lush fabrication (yes I know fabrication sounds like a stupid word. But it’s actually a real word that fashion people use. It’s a technical term). And just how awesome it is to have the real thing. I can’t wait!

I also bought two black cashmere knit Rick Owens skirts at $500 each and two black Marni tops ($455 and $420). Everything I bought today was black. I tell you, I’m feeling a solid-color fall and back to black. The Rick Owens skirts are amazing–so comfortable and sexy at the same time. They’re body hugging but flattering. One skirt wraps over criss-crossed like ( I tried to find a pic on the web and can’t find one) so you show just a bit of tanned leg, and the other skirt goes all the way to the floor, but kind of gently trumpets out at the hem for a very chic look. One Marni top has a bit of a baby-doll, empire thing going on, but it’s very high-armhole and tight on top so you don’t look pregnant (god forbid!) and the other one is kind of balloon-y and sculptural.

A good haul for the day, I think and it’ll last me all season. Plus I think I still have around $6000 left on my budget (not counting the blazer–oops, well, minus the blazer I’ll only have $3500 left hmmm.) If I don’t buy a new handbag, I should be able to get a couple of new shoes. I am loving the platform peep-toes. If I were younger I would rock the toe-less Prada socks. But I feel like it would look silly to wear them at my age. Those of you who are under 30 should wear them though! They are sooooo cool.

My dearest fashionista friend Karen (a writer and shopper like myself) and I are obsessed with the crazy, ethnic Balenciaga scarves. But get this–they are FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. FOR A SCARF!! That really is crazy. Although I have to say, I did think about it for a second. My Barneys shopper told me they are only ordering two for the store. Because who is crazy enough to spend that much money on a scarf? Apparently there is a lesser version–$2500. But it doesn’t come with THE CHARMS. Which MAKES the scarf. You know? So what’s the point? And also, you have to remember, it’s still a lot of fracking money to spend on a SCARF.

I have to say in my defense that everything else in my life is incredibly cheap. I am the biggest penny-pincher when it comes to everything outside of fashion. For instance, I am writing this on my husband’s old broken Eames desk. One of the legs lost one half of the leg. But the desk still stands! And I’m too cheap to buy another desk since this one is still standing! And last night, I bought us the cheaper rotisserie chicken from Ralph’s. There is the ten-dollar kind that comes in the plastic tray and a five-dollar kind that comes in a plastic bag. Guess which one I bought?  I would eat Ramen noodles for a year to wear the Balenciaga jacket. Fashion money doesn’t seem like real money. It feels like mad money. Because, really, the prices are crazy enough right? It’s  not real. It’s just fashion.

I think everyone has something that they spend mad money on–whether it’s your car or your collection of vintage guitars and synthesizers (like my brother-in-law Tim who plonks down four thousand dollars a weekend for some electronic equipment). Tim has as bad a shopping habit as I have, we just have different obsessions. His apartment is FILLED with musical instruments he will never play. While my closets are filled with clothes I hardly ever wear.

What’s your poison? (If you’re reading this, I think I know! LOL!)


Turn down the volume?

Okay, so the prizes are OFF MY COUCH! Now they are on my sister’s couch. (She is my assistant.) BUT, they are now all in thick brown envelopes READY FOR SHIPPING! So hopefully sis will get her butt to the post office this week and mail all your wonderful prizes.

How great is it to have my sister be my assistant? It’s wonderful! And yes, I pay her. It’s a paying gig. (You think she’d work for free?? You don’t know my sister!) I tell everyone I have the smartest assistant in the world–after all, sis went to Yale and got an MBA and an MPH from Columbia. So why is she working for me, you ask? Well, she quit her job to raise her two boys (my darling nephews) and was looking for something to do that was no-stress but still fun. And I told her I was looking for someone to help around here, so she volunteered and she was hired on the spot!

My sister and I fought A LOT when we were kids. I’m 22 months older and deeeeply resented the arrival of the new baby. (I realize "deeply resented" is my favorite phrase right now. Can you tell I’m cranky lately?) But now we are total BFFs. The only reason why I would have another child is that I can’t imagine Mattie not having the kind of relationship my sis, my brother and I share. We are all BFFs.

Anyway, I have been reading the September issues of the fashion mags. And horror of horrors – volume is out! So the small fortune we spent on all those trapeze, a-line, bubble, empire-waist dresses…WASTED!! I counted and I have NINE of these dresses. I’m so annoyed! And I’m really annoyed with myself because whenever the new trend comes around–I totally EMBRACE it. I also owned like, seven ponchos when those were in style. Remember ponchos??? So I can’t believe I fell for it again. Grumble, grumble.

I always shop thinking YES, THIS IS ME! And for a season, it is. I also have DOZENS of those Indian-style tunics and printed Marni shirts. I really thought that was my look and that was it forever. But now I want to put them all in storage. They are sadly not me anymore.

Now all I’m feeling is basics…I only want to wear crisp white shirts and expensive black cashmere and lots of grays and army greens. And lots of streamlined pants and tailored blazers. I think that’s going to be my uniform for awhile.

The last time I wore a uniform it was white Agnes B. shirts, slim-slim-slim Joseph or Daryl K pants and lots of Helmut Lang sweaters (remember those? With the cut-out elbows??) I think that was around 1998 or so. And now it’s back! And my new wardrobe is now out of style. Argh!

Fashion is a cruel. cruel muse and hell on the pocketbook.


The Black Hole of BabyCare

The prizes are still on my couch. Argh! I’m sorry. It’s been a busy weekend. Weekends are now black holes for me where nothing gets done because we have no weekend nanny. Which means we are parents 24/7 from Friday to Sunday. I actually really enjoy falling into the black hole, because when I’m taking care of the baby, I don’t have to worry about anything except feeding her, putting her down for naps, bathing her, and then doing everything all over again the next day. My mind completely goes blank–I don’t think about my books, my deadlines, proposals, or anything career-related. I’m just a full-time mom.

I find if I try to do both mom-ing and working, I am deeply unhappy. As in, put Mattie down for a nap and try to squeeze out a few revisions in the meantime! Nope. Does not happen. Mattie fusses after fifteen minutes, and then I’ll have to get up and rock her back to sleep. (For naps she ONLY sleeps in her Bugaboo stroller. Yes. I know. It’s bad. But we’ve come to accept the stroller-sleep rather than the hour of crying in her crib if we try to put her down in her crib for naps.) And once I get back to my desk, I’ve completely forgotten what I was working on. So nothing gets done, I get frustrated, and it’s not fair to the kid.

Every Sunday, Mike and I flop down, completely exhausted, and we whine, "WE NEED A WEEKEND NANNY!" We say this every Sunday night. The weekends are much more exhausting than the weekdays.

But as much as I’d like to shove off ALL childcare duties to someone else though, I know we’re not going to do it. It’s just too easy to ignore your kid if you have help. And she is so much happier when she is just with me. (Although she is also happy with nanny and since Mike and I work from home, we do see her all the time anyway.)

And by the way, I have REALLY enjoyed chucking the tabloids across the room when I read about a celebrity who really enjoys spending time with their children, and all those gooey Brad and Angelina shots of them at Central Park of some carousel in Deuville. YEAH, RIGHT! It’s EASY to enjoy your kid when you see them for fifteen minutes a day for the photo-op. We love our kid the most when she is ASLEEP. But when you spend 24/7 with a small baby or child, you can go crazy. Also, yeah, they’re such great parents taking their kid to the park, and then, HELLO,  they’re helicoptering out to the Hamptons the next day WITHOUT the kids, or having a couples retreat in Spain. And where are the kids?? With the nannies of course!

If we had that life, we’d have a soccer team of kids too.  It’s easy to have kids when you don’t have to take care of them.

I grew up with nannies. My parents had a full-time staff. My mom never found motherhood difficult she told me, mostly because she "supervised" the taking care of children. I hardly saw my dad when I was little. He was an investment banker and worked late, or they were always out at night–they had a very full social life, and on the weekends, they were at the country club early for tennis. I think I saw my dad on Sunday dinners.

Then we moved to America, and all those trappings of wealth from our former life vanished in an instant. We had dinner together EVERY night. My dad drove us and picked us up from school. We were together, as a family, all the time. And you know what? It made a difference. We became incredibly close. Of course we were happy in Manila too, and I knew my parents loved us. But the day-to-day interaction made a huge difference. It was like having a different set of parents all of a sudden. Back in Manila, us kids fought for attention between my parents’ social life, their friends, their careers. But when we were in America, it was just the five of us. Careers? My parents were just trying to make ends meet.

Anyway, I find I have turned into the neurotic desperately ambitious over-scheduled-child parent from my Au Pair novels. Momzilla, c’est moi. LOL. Mattie is signed up for baby yoga and baby pilates, music appreciation classes, Spanish immersion ("Abla Blah Blah Blah"), tumbling, Mommy & Me, "Free to Be Under Three" and many more.

The other day Mike and I watched Little Children. I LOVED the book, but the movie STANK. The voice-over was awful. But anyway, the funniest part of the movie for me was the choir of bitchy moms. I loved the bitchy suburban moms! Especially when one of them goes, "Yeah, she thinks she’ll have the kid and be right back at her desk three months later, but she’ll be right here on the park bench with us in six months!" I can so relate! I totally thought I would just shoot out the pup, and life would go on as normal. That I would get my books done or work the same way. But no. That is not the case at all. In fact, I deeply, DEEPLY, DEEEEEEPLY resent the fact that I had to write a book right after Mattie was born.

I know it was my fault. EVERYONE–my agent, my editors, told me not to write it. But I argued with them. I fell into the "I’m still me!" trap that women who are about to become mothers fall into. The one that says, "Look, I still have cojones! I can still write until three in the morning! I can still do two  month’s worth of revisions in a week!" So I took the deadline. I took the responsibility. But now I look at this book, all shiny and done, and I almost want to chuck it out the window. I am not telling you what book it is because it is a good book, I am proud of it, but I DEEEEEEEPLY resented the fact that I had to write it. Because of this book I did not have maternity leave. Because of this book, the precious first months of my baby’s life was devoted to worrying and writing this book. Sigh.

But things are much better now. Now I am excited to write the books I have due. Especially Blue Bloods 3: REVELATIONS which a lot of you are waiting for. Why does it take so long, you ask? Because it just does. The Blue Bloods books take so much out of me I need like a year just to feel normal again after writing them. Then I get the itch to write the next book. And then I get obsessed and that’s all I want to do and the writing goes fast and furious as I fall into the black hole of the book, which means late nights, not seeing friends, and hours alone at the computer. But before then, I try to enjoy my life.