Thursday, November 8, 2007

Gloomy in LA

God what an awful, gloomy day. I’m useless in this weather. Lazy and grumpy. Bad combination. Mercury Retrograde apparently came to an end last weekend, but it’s still slowing me down. I have this list of calls to make but everyone is away from their desk, with a client, at a meeting. So I accomplish nothing. There’s the script I’m supposed to be writing but I’m not allowed to write it because of the strike. Not that I'd be cranking it out if there were no strike, but that's another story. Speaking of strike, check out Nikki Finke’s blog about the strike which is the most interesting and comprehensive coverage I’ve found. Reading it religiously:

Now back to my own dreary day. Even though there’s a strike blasting its way through Hollywood, I need to be thinking about Audrey Rose, because I’m not sure how to proceed with my rewrite and need to develop a plan of action for when I do take the plunge. For now I can rent some videos for inspiration. That will be a start. I can also start working on the articles I have bobbing about my brain, that’s not verboten, but how can I create anything worthwhile when I feel like a slug? I can finish reading the chapter my friend Liz gave me of her dissertation, I’ve been totally lagging on that. Meanwhile I just sit here like a lump all bundled in layers to combat the un-Californian cold, compulsively checking email, my cat whining at my feet, the grilled cheese sandwich I had for lunch congealing in my stomach, giving me heartburn (pop some more papaya enzymes). What I should do is get out there on the picket line, but I’m intimidated and cold and don’t really want to go by myself.

Ah, there’s always the rest of the Austin saga. Yesterday I kept getting distracted by radio interviews. Did two more today, by the way, one of which was quite wonderful with this host named Tron out in Colorado Springs with so much energy you’d swear he was chugging Red Bull for breakfast. And an interview at a Santa Barbara Top 40 station, which would have been great, but they didn’t have me on the schedule for some reason. My uncle, aunt and cousins were apparently gathered round the radio and I never appeared. I have a hard time believing Mercury’s done messing with us. Okay, just checked a couple websites and it appears that even though the meddling planet went direct on November 1, everything won’t be completely sorted out until November 17. I also learned that while Mercury Retrograde is crap for starting anything new, it’s a good period for finishing up old projects (Audrey Rose anyone? Oh right, I’m on strike!). Alright, I’m trying a couple of the phonecalls one more time, then back to the Austin adventures.

I must be hallucinating. If I reach one more person’s voicemail or coworker declaring, “He’s with a client right now,” I’m going to scream!

Alright, so Austin… There was the opening night gala, a party at my friend Clay’s lovely, charming home for all the children’s book authors, where my new friend, publicist Katie Finch, and I were very anti-social, hanging out in the living room and then in the garden bonding and talking only to each other—about book publicity, then relationships, then weddings (hers is around the corner). We stopped by this other party on the way home, for writers of “literary fiction,” but it was late and the party was winding down. Apparently Kristin Gore had been there dodging questions about her dad and whether he might reconsider running for president.

Saturday my mom and I jumped a shuttle to the author’s breakfast at the LBJ Library where we sat with a writer, Francisco Jose Moreno, who wrote a book about Cuba called Before Fidel, and his lovely girlfriend (more bonding.) We all took the shuttle together to the festival at the beautiful domed Capitol and my mom and I went to hear a panel about writers on reading, featuring the funny, smart and poignant duo Jane Hamilton (Map of the World) and Valerie Martin (Trespass). Jane talked about her lifelong love-hate relationship with Heart of Darkness and Valerie about clues offered by the books that authors reference in their books. It was pretty wonderful. Then we couldn’t get into a panel on fiction about revenge so I wandered around until I had to hit the Green Room to meet up with my fellow panelists for my own event. Almost didn’t make it on time, I was blocked by security forces preventing the riffraff from passing while Lynne Cheney and entourage made their way to the signing tent, where a huge line of folks clutching her book was gathering.

Alas, our panel, I Love You, I Hate You: Writing About Love required no security forces, but it was packed, and I was especially happy that my friend and former book group cohort Suzanne Balling, who just moved to Austin, attended. In my intro, I was pleased to use a line I once said to Harlan in our early dating days: “It’s so nice to love someone that I don’t want to kill.’ It seemed appropriate.

After the panel we made our way to the signing tent, where I signed two whole books—both to my mom’s friend Gayle. And then, starving, we made our way to Las Manitas, a yummy Mexican dive that fellow panelist Marion Winik said was her favorite restaurant ever. Unfortunately it took half an hour to walk down there (with my mom complaining the whole way about the heat) and then sat and had a proper meal, so I wound up missing pretty much all the events I really wanted to go to: Tom Perrotta, George Saunders, The Onion, That Seventies Panel, all of which happened while I was inhaling chicken flautas, refried beans and guacamole, washed down with a pineapple Jarritos. But it was okay, I let it go—and told myself I’d go to the big Fiction vs. Nonfiction slam later that night, in which many of the same writers from those other events would participate. We listened to Jesse singing a couple of his gothic love and death ballads and made our way back to the hotel to nap before heading out to the evening’s festivities.

My mom decided to blow off the Author’s party at a fabulous loft downtown, so I hopped a ride by myself in a hotel shuttle over there. The loft was astounding, it just went on and on, farther and farther back and up until a staircase led to a roofdeck with a mosaic pool. I talked to author Kim Powers for a while—we had a lot of New York theater friends in common—and then found Cyndi Hughes, the moderator of my panel and hung out talking to her and author Margaret Sartor, author of Miss American Pie, and Brian Floca, author and illustrator of such children’s books as The Racecar Alphabet. Also ran into David Meyer, a film writer I used to know in New York, who told me he’d invite me to his book event next week in LA.

I’m over this entry, but will finish with the pearls before swine tale. Our little foursome decided to head down to the trendy Soco (South Congress) neighborhood to attend the Fiction vs. Nonfiction event at a trendy lounge, and meandered our way to Cyndi’s car, which was parked in an alley a couple blocks away. Just as we loaded into the car, Margaret touched the ring she wears on her middle finger and realized her pearl was missing. We all jumped out and started searching the dark alley around us. Just then, Robert, the party photographer and a friend of Cyndi’s turned up and he grabbed a flashlight from his car to help look. We’re all scouring the ground and in the distance I see this big old doggie sniffing around the back of a house. I approach, thinking it’s the most enormous Bassett Hound I’ve ever seen only to learn that it’s a pot-bellied pig! Who has escaped from its pen behind a house. Brian and I pet the bristly fella (who turns out to be a girl). Margaret and Bob decided to retrace her steps back to the party, while Brian and I followed the pig, who was slowly making her way down the alley toward the street. We were afraid she was going to get hit by a car and she’s so huge, we couldn’t exactly pick her up like a Yorkie pup and stick her back in her pen. So, Brian banged on her owner’s door while I followed the pig as she made her way behind a white SUV which subsequently drove off without noticing her. Piggy’s owner came out and said, “She just learned she can get out of there and she’s testing her boundaries.” She wanted to follow her to see how far she would go and sure enough, she just kept plodding her way all the way to the street, grunting as she went. Little girl certainly would have become roadkill had we not intervened. Brian and I looked at each other and said, “Margaret’s pearl saved the pot-bellied pig!”

And that’s the story of the weekend. We couldn’t get into the event, cause it was packed to capacity, so we ate more Mexican food (catfish tacos!), Amy’s ice cream and stood around chatting with other rejects on the street corner. All in all a lovely evening. And on our way back to the car, we ran into Margaret, who informed us that she had found her pearl. Sitting right on the ledge where the four of us had been chatting back on that gorgeous roofdeck overlooking Austin.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Morning Drive Tour

It’s 6:04 am and I’m awake, been awake actually since 5, which in my world is unheard of. Today I’m doing a leg of my Morning Drive Radio Tour, as it is called by the company I’ve hired to book it. What it means is a series of interviews on morning shows. The first was at 5am with some station in Portland, Oregon—they’re on the west coast, too, why the hell are they up so early?

So, here I am, did a quickie interview that didn’t go that well, just okay, and since I’ve checked email (not much in that dept, even the East Coasters are just beginning to stir). I did notice my sister’s available on iChat, but I resisted that temptation and instead read news on the writers strike, which actually affects me since, of all things, I joined the Guild about a month ago! How’s that for timing? I’m trying to decide if I should haul myself—and my big belly—out to the picket line to support the cause. I mean, I know I should. Hell, I even have a job I’m not allowed to be doing right now, a second draft due of Audrey Rose, the script I’m writing for MGM. I finally got to work on it last week, started brainstorming and bouncing ideas around and renting psychological thrillers for inspiration and bam! There's a pens down order. Harlan, my husband doesn’t want me to go. He thinks I should be taking it easy. But my leftie friend Mae says she’ll go out there with me. Maybe I’ll just join for a couple of hours. What else do I have to do—I mean, besides radio interviews. Gotta go to yoga, call Citibank, bug my publicist about press for my book. There’s this cute trench coat I’m thinking of buying from a catalogue.

This weekend I went to Austin for the Texas Book Festival. It was awesome. I went to participate in a panel: I Love You, I Hate You: Writing About Love. A great title. I was accompanied by the writers Jesse Sublett, a scruffy rocker who was in a seminal punk band (shit, forget the name) and wrote mystery novels and a memoir about his college girlfriend who was murdered back when they were together; Marsha Moyer, author of a series of Texas-based romantic novels, most recently Heartbreak Town; and NPR commentator, memoirist and local celebrity Marion Winik, who was clearly the star of our event. She had the crowd rapt and laughing from minute one, and I think she’s the only one who sold any books. (Well, my mom’s friend and former neighbor Gayle, who recently relocated to Austin and hung out with us all weekend, bought a couple copies.)

As far as my experience in Austin, the panel was almost besides the point. Going to a book festival is an amazing experience for an author, especially a novice like me. My mom and I left Friday morning and arrived in Austin in the afternoon. We had a suite at the Doubletree with two fluffy double beds…

Alright, just broke for two more interviews. The first one was great, with Pete Nichols of WILI-FM in Norwich, CT. They’re even giving my book out as a free gift to people who call in with their worst dating stories! Nice! Next one with Jim Scott at WLW-AM in Cincinnati was also very lively except he made this joke about Harlan being the one that got away, he goes, “What do you call him—Fish?” And for the life of me, I couldn’t understand what he was saying, I thought he was saying, “What do you call him—Miss?” which didn’t make any sense. So that was a little awkward but at least it was at the end of an otherwise entertaining interview. I hope they edit it out! Yikes. At least he said he’d plug my website on the show. Gotta go do another one, this time with Judyth Piazza at Internet Radio. Hey, back. That woman threw me a bit, but I think I did okay. She asked me questions like, What’s a piece of advice someone gave you that you never forgot (forget articles, write books) and what’s one quality that successful people have in common (passion). I really had to wing it there, wish I’d come up with a better answer for the advice question, but I warmed up and did okay. I think.
Finally finished unpacking, had some love time with Jack and Maggie, ate a piece of toast, way to kill time until my next interview in 20 minutes with KNST-AM in Tucson. Lots of AM stations, I just realized, that’s not good! I need some more FM!

Back to Austin. So, Friday night Gayle came to pick up my mom for dinner at the hotel and they drove me over to the Four Seasons for the opening night gala, where I was my friend Clay’s date. He’s the literary director and the person who invited me to attend. He was dapper in his black suit, waiting for me out in front of Austin's finest hotel. We dumped our stuff in his parents’ bedroom and headed down to a dining room that was packed with 100s of people at round tables (“all rich,” Clay said).

Okay, watered the yard, checked in with Harlan, who just got home from another long day’s work in Mumbai, so excited that tomorrow he gets a day off! Wow, I just had my liveliest interview yet with Kathryn Raaker of WCVX in Cincinnati, a Christian station of all things! She was just so excited to tell me her own dating stories and stories about her 37-year-old daughter who lives in New York City and decided to come up with her own system called 50 First Dates, where she goes out with fifty guys one time and if she likes someone she adds him to the end of the list and sees him a second time after she’s gone through the fifty. Wow, that woman should write a book!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Writing Woes

Is a writer still a writer if she doesn’t write? That’s a question I’ve been pondering a lot lately in the free time I’ve created by not writing.

Is she a writer just because she has a file drawer full of clips? Because she’s contributed her words and thoughts to some interesting, respectable publications (and some less so)? Because she’s earned her living that way for the last ten years? Because she’s got a book on the shelves? And a contract for a screenplay dated just a few months back (which includes an obligation to write a second draft that’s due sometime in the near future)?

I don’t know. My parents think I’m a writer. My friends think I’m a writer, my agent and editor and publicist do, too, and yet I haven’t written anything besides email in weeks—months? Even typing out these words was like pulling friggin' teeth. I procrastinated my whole morning away, responding to email, doing dumb errands—did I really need to call a housewares website to get a broken knife replaced today?

Why the mindless tasks? Because I felt like I should write and would rather do anything else on the planet. It’s a formula I’m familiar with. Even when I’m being relatively productive, I use every excuse and avoidance technique to prevent it—trips to the fridge, personal phonecalls, hours spent lounging with the cats staring at the ceiling… And when I’m out of the habit, that’s the worst.

Okay, I have a couple good excuses.

1. I’ve been promoting my book, Room for Love, my DEBUT NOVEL. I haven’t hired a private publicist and doing it on my own (of course with the help of my wonderful publicist at St. Martin’s, Brian Smith) feels like a full-time job sometimes. Just organizing readings, getting the book mentioned in my alumni publications, interviewing publicists I’m considering hiring, buying plane tickets, brainstorming new promotional strategies, fretting about whether anyone will show up to my book events... all take time. But still not enough to warrant my new no-writing policy.

2. My other big excuse is I’m pregnant. There, I’ve outted myself to the world, or to my blog-reading audience at least. I’ve been keeping it more or less under wraps, even though I’ve been knocked up for almost five months and can’t hide it anymore from anyone who sees me in person. Physically impossible. I've got a bulging belly and breasts that none of my clothes can contain. Pregnancy is a better excuse than book promotion, as it is the most physically exhausting thing I’ve ever gone through. (Why didn't anyone tell me?!) For the first three and a half, maybe even four, months, my days went something like this: Wake up in the morning (after 9-10 hours sleep), have tea and cereal with yogurt and fruit, check my email, take a shower, feel utterly pooped and go back to bed. Some days I’d fight it, go to a yoga class, make a few phonecalls… and then have to crash, exhausted, at three for three hours. Visiting New York was the worst (I came once in July for a month and again in August for a week, because my husband was shooting a movie here). A ten-minute walk to the grocery store in the 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity meant an immediate three-hour nap. It was best to just stay indoors and spend my days intermittently surfing the web, answering email, reading dumb magazines and snoozing.

But you know what? Gotta stop making excuses. I could definitely find a couple of hours a day and I’m going to have to because I’ve got things to write! I received a mass of notes from my producers at MGM about the first draft of the script I'm writing for them, Audrey Rose. They’ve decided they want to go in a whole different direction from what we originally talked about, so I’ve got a lot of work to do on the second draft. I also want to write another book. I’ve been taking notes almost since we moved to LA and I really want to get going on it. Not to mention two story ideas I have, actually three. One’s an essay I want to write to try to publish as a Modern Love piece, one is a story about my life that I'll pitch to either a design mag or a baby mag and the third is a piece that spins off from Room for Love, which would be right for the lifestyle section of a newspaper or maybe a woman’s mag. So many projects! And I’m going to have a baby in five months! Looks like I have to get to work!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Readings galore

I've been a huge flake. I've been meaning to write but have had other things on my mind. My first two readings came and went, and they were amazing. Especially considering two nights before, I had my first book reading anxiety dream: My parents weren’t coming because they were teaching some kind of class at their house. When I complained and begged, my mom, all irritated, offered to give me a ride, even though she wasn’t attending. She dropped me off in front and there were only about four people there, including my high school friend Emily Cohen and another girl, Carol Gleason, whom I haven’t seen since about 9th grade.

The reality was better. The first was at Book Soup on Thursday night. It was my guinea pig reading and it could not have gone any better. There was a ton of traffic getting to West Hollywood from the west side, so we were running late. We had to stop and get plastic champagne glasses from Smart & Final and then at Sak’s to get my makeup done by genius Robert Sargsyan at the Armani counter (so worth it) and then crap traffic, so basically we were running late and I’m sure my mom wanted to kick my butt, but at least we got there before the guests began to arrive, thanks to my friend Mae’s kickass driving and Book Soup for giving me the official Author parking spot in back of the store. We entered the flurry, sweet event coordinator Erin helped me schlep Prosecco up the stairs (no heavy hauling for Princess), mom had the bar up and running, Cal, the night manager who was introducing me, said hi and asked me how long I wanted to wait for people and I said give them a few more minutes, guests began to arrive. And among them the coolest people: Dora, this lovely Polish woman who took care of my grandfather during his last years whom I hadn’t seen in ages, Sophie, a family friend from Paris with whom I shacked up when I first moved to Paris when I was 23, who had gone blond since I saw her last and who I was so excited to see, Raneece, assistant to my CAA agent who’s trying to sell the book to the studios (fingers crossed)… my friend Liz brought her mom Carol, my friend Leslie got a babysitter for the occasion even though she was coming Sunday, too (my mom’s friend Alex also came twice, Thursday with daughter Leigh, Sunday with daughter Lizzy), NY transplants Colin and my boy Stephen Kijak just arrived from Down Under, then the usual suspects: Alex, Jenni, Mae, Melissa, Sara and Charlie, Liz Pryor and Jerry, Cerraeh with mom Millie, my dream girl Emily with hubby Jonathan.... Anyway, I’m not going to list everyone, but I was thrilled with the attendance. I think there were probably 50 people which felt totally packed in the small space.

I read the first chapter, which I’d cut down to avoid boring people to tears, and Jacquie’s first meeting with the impassioned chef Javier. Everyone laughed a lot, which got me giggling myself (at my own humor, ho ho)… and I just relaxed into the task and really enjoyed it. Afterwards there were more surprise guests – Marla from my writing workshop TK in New York, who’s also just moved out here, my neighbor Frankie Lee, high school friend Virgil I hadn’t seen in years, and he dragged along the biggest surprise guest Scott Furie, a one-time best friend-slash-love-interest from high school who stood there in the crowd while I was signing books until I noticed him and just stared stunned. Wow, how great to be back in touch (we yakked on the phone the next day)! The whole thing was awesome!

Then we went to the Argyle for dinner, my parents, Mae, Jenni, Alex and I, which I loved. We sat on the terrace and felt very fancy and celebratory, even though I’m off the booze. My parents of course bitched about everything from the cold breeze to the lack of a simple salad on the menu, I had this flashback to my grandparents when I was a kid, complaining about any restaurant that wasn’t Ship’s or Nibbler’s or of course grandma’s cooking. My parents vehemently reject4ed the comparison, but did say we should have gone to their regular spot Kate Mantilini’s (granted a couple steps up from Nibbler’s). Nevertheless, the ambiance was great, the burgers delicious (perfect fries), the desserts even better, and we all wound up happy. Especially this one waiter that Jenni recognized from another restaurant where she told him he’d been responsible for the best service she’d experienced in LA. She made his month. It was so cute, he kept coming over and hugging her after that.

The next day I pretty much slept all day long. I guess I hadn’t realized how stressed I’d been leading up to the event, but Friday I was pretty much non-functional which I can only attribute to post-anxiety meltdown.

I can’t remember what I did on Saturday—oh yeah, yoga, picked up my sister at the airport, she flew in for the Sunday reading! Had dinner at my friend Cerraeh’s and went to art openings in Bev Hills. The first at the Gagosian Gallery featured this space shuttle mockup that filled the entire space, one of those conceptual installations I always enjoy but don’t totally understand, and the hippest people I think I’ve ever seen. In LA, clearly the hipsters are the artsters. Man, the footwear alone made my jaw drop. The next opening was at the Ace Gallery, large-scale, close-up photos of famous people by Martin Schoeller. Jack Nicholson, Prince, Cate Blanchett, Brangelina, Robert DeNiro, the Donald, Prince, Iggy Pop, Britney, Ted Turner, Mark Morris, Meryl Streep, you name it…. this dreadlocked Deutscher has shot it. Older, less hip crowd, but fun hanging with Cerraeh’s friends, especially Reza who decided I was the coolest lady he’d ever met, he said I’m a beautiful angel and he wants to marry someone just like me. Considering I was in jeans and a fat lady tee, flip flops and no makeup I was very flattered by all the attention.

The next day was scary day again… reading at Dutton’s and just as chaotic. I awoke at 6:30 with someone sending me a text message. I cringed, thinking the only person who would text me that early was Harlan but he should have been on a plane already. Sure enough, they were stuck on the runway. I couldn’t fall back to sleep and he texted again an hour later to say they were taking off, but basically he was running an hour and a half late and he was only meant to land two hours before my reading, not good news. I fell fitfully back to sleep until about 10, when Katya called to see if I wanted to get brunch at the Brick House. No one else responded to calls, so she and I just went and then we were off and running: another stop at Smart & Final for more plastic champagne glasses, then to Macy’s where I finally convinced the chick at the Chanel counter, the very sweet Marcia from Brazil, to do my makeup (every other saleswoman said I had to spend a minimum of 75!) AND found a dress to wear. (The one I’d planned on wearing suddenly made me look like a pregnant sow and the other one, which worked, is silk with long sleeves, which seemed inappropriate for the hot day.) So, I actually found a dress at the BCBG section, which my sister approved. A miracle. Marcia was a very nice girl, but her makeup skills are no better than my own. At least she covered blemishes and dark circles, but otherwise the makeup sucked. Hopefully people were distracted by my overflowing cleavage and “very good stage presence” (according to my dad) and didn’t notice.

So, Dutton’s. It’s a very different space from Book Soup. We were set up outside in the courtyard which is a lovely idea in theory, but sort of daunting in practice. It was a hot day, so all the chairs were pushed away from the center of the courtyard into the shade and hence far away from me. It was harder for me to connect with the audience or gauge their reactions. I was really hot—sweat rolling down the backs of my legs—and I assumed everyone else was, too, so I worried about their getting restless and bored. Apparently it wasn’t just me. I got reports later that people were in fact distracted, by the sun, the heat, the traffic, the kids running around (my friend Courtney, Leslie and Chrissy brought their cuties). So, I guess the reading portion wasn’t quite as successful as the first event, even though people later complimented my writing, my sense of humor, blahblahblah, and the best news was we sold out of books! Dutton’s had bought 100 copies and they sold them all and had to borrow the four copies I had stashed in my bag! It was amazing! The other good news is that Harlan made it… just in time. My friend Jenni went to pick him up (thank you thank you thank you) and even after sitting in 405 traffic they arrived just minutes before Diane from Dutton’s introduced me. It was perfect! Again, there were tons of people I was soooo happy to see… my old babysitter Tere and her husband Lazslo, my friend Chrissy with her daughter Sienna, mom Debbie, aunt Cher Cher, stepdad Steve, all of whom I adore and haven’t seen in ages, my friend Court who drove up from San Diego with her family in tow, so many friends of my parents…. It was just great.

I don’t know what else to say. My sister and I got in a fight over the car. Harlan and I went home and collapsed. We met my parents and friend Hans and Dale, Jurgen and Carol, their sons Christian and Erik for dinner later at yummy Il Forno… and went home and collapsed again. The cats couldn’t be happier to have their dad home. Well, I think their mom might be just a little bit happier. I’m pretty happy. I’ve got a book in the stores! And it’s been a mellow week. Yoga, searching for doctors, hunting for publicists, my first two book events under my belt. It feels like a huge weight lifted, back to my life.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

too early to be up

It's Thursday, the day of my first book reading, tonight, 7pm, Book Soup, W. Hollywood, and I've been up since 6am... fretting. Nothing serious, just what I'm going to read tonight (rehearsing it, rehashing it), what time I have to leave to get there, whether I have to stop and pick up ice on the way or flowers, maybe, to make the space a bit cozier, whether Dan, a friend who I think has agreed to play bartender, will drive with me, what else I have to do today, print out the cocktail recipe, follow up with the various alumni publications I've contacted about printing something about me and the bookstores where I've dropped off a press release to see if they've ordered the book, make sure the reading info is on MySpace, Friendster, Facebook... There are so many other things, small things, not a big deal, but they've got me up at 6am... fretting. This is much too early for me to get up. Six hours just doesn't cut it, which means I'll need a nap at some point. And I've got to do yoga. So, yoga, lunch, nap, and everything on the to-do list has to happen pre-11:25 yoga.

It's cooled down a lot today, I'm actually wearing a sweater. Oh, I'm so tired and lazy I don't feel like walking into the other room to get my vitamins. Wait, there are enough lying around my desk that I don't have to... score. My desk has never been in such disarray ever. It's embarrassing, I don't even know where to start. That's my first task today: Clean desk. Then: Make a list. Then I'll be able to face the world. Or maybe I'll just go back to bed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Et moi? Since I didn’t post, it’s now publication day and I’m so excited! Web site is up, I’ve been inundated with congratulations from people I haven’t heard from in ages, I even took the time to do a yoga class and stock up on food at Trader Joe’s. If only Harlan were home and the temperature would drop a few small degrees and this evil wasp that’s hiding somewhere in my office would fly away home… I’d be the happiest girl on earth!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Greetings from JFK

I’m sitting in the dingiest terminal at JFK, a dank Jet Blue outpost that I had to take a shuttle to. I’m sipping grape vitamin water, a gnarly cousin of multi-V, which I’ve learned is the only thing that keeps me from getting nauseous. I thought they wouldn’t have it in this sorry terminal so I bought grape, and of course the minute I got here I spotted Multi-V at Dunkins Donuts. Screw it, I’m sticking with grape and hoping it has the same magical ability to keep me from hurling.

I meant to start writing days ago, but I was staying at my wonderful, generous friend Dana’s place in New York, a beautiful two-bedroom in a doorman building in Chelsea (read: didn't have to climb four flights of stairs to my sister’s place which used to be my place in the East Village). Dana only has dial-up, which was tough enough, but then two days ago, that went down. I guess the phone was disconnected. So, I was stuck checking email at Kinko’s and holding off on any other more complex Internet interactions.

So, I’m heading back to LA after spending a week with Harlan, my husband, in New York, where he’s shooting a romantic comedy called See You In September. It’s Labor Day and tomorrow is PUBLICATION DAY for Room for Love, my first novel. I’m nervous and excited… and I think I might see my friend Andy over there, Andy Fierberg, the producer of the first film I ever worked on. He’s chatting on his cell phone and I’m not 100% sure that it’s him. Might have to go get a closer look. I’m thinking it’s not him now. There are kids beating up on this guy and I’m pretty sure Andy doesn’t have any.

So, I spent a week in New York, because I cracked and had to see Harlan even though he’s coming home in a week. It was a good idea. I had been in LA, sinking deeper and deeper into the pit of book anxiety and all the tasks I should be and wasn’t quite accomplishing and the resulting self-recrimination. Plus I was isolating more and more, too tired to go out much, watching a lot of TV with the cats and missing Harlan and feeling sorry for myself. The trip was a smart move, even though I just did the same stuff in Dana’s apartment, except without the cats to cheer me up. At least I had Harlan at 11 or 12pm when he’d drag himself home exhausted after a 14-hour shoot, pizza box in hand and a face so genuinely delighted to see me as I crept to the door to let him in, naked, half-asleep, so genuinely delighted to see him.

It’s tough for me to be in New York, though, and odd that it’s tough. It’s just that New York City is exhausting. It’s hard to believe that less than a year ago I was living here, very happily lugging myself and my stuff around day after day. And here it is eleven short months later and apparently I can’t handle it. I’ve become a wimp. Or as another former New Yorker said to me the other day, “You get soft pretty quickly in LA.” No kidding! I have just melted right into the lifestyle—hopping in and out of the car, strolling slowly around the palm tree-lined streets, lazing in the yard with Jack and Maggie. In contrast, New York feels a little like an assault.

The other day—the first day the phone line went down—I went over to my friend Gina’s office in Soho to work, since I couldn’t get online at Dana’s. Gina works for a production company called Bikini and she was happy, as she put it, to “have some more Aries energy in the place.” I thought I was driving her crazy. Mainly I was on MySpace, trying to organize my page and get more friends in time for my pub date, which must have been irritating, considering every time you go to a new person’s page some dumb song bursts out of your computer. She giggled when she heard the familiar groovy tunes of her own page, or the page for her store Lola y Maria, a hip Lower Eastside joint where I’ve spent way too much money and where we’re going to have a book party for Room for Love in early October when I’m back in town to do readings. Yet another thing to worry about: friends Spencer who has the lovely gallery just downstairs from Bikini and Harris, the publicist for the IFC Center, have both also offered to host book parties for me (well, the IFC one would be hosted by myself and my old pals at indieWIRE)…but both have mysteriously disappeared on me, leaving me biting my nails.

Anyway, the reason I mentioned Gina is ‘cause I had to lug my computer bag, a cute MZ Wallace shoulder bag the weight of two bowling balls, to her place and felt like I was going to keel over. I was able to take the E train direct and then walk through Soho to reach her, a nice walk, but the lug practically killed me. The next day I did a recording session with my sister’s friend Ronnie, an amazing editor who offered to let me use his studio to lay down audio for the trailer we’re putting together for the book, and my actress friend Sam—the lovely Samantha Buck—offered her bubbly voice. Honestly I don’t know how I’d get by without the generosity of friends. Within half an hour we were in and out—and I have an audio track. Of course it’s four minutes long and I have to cut that in half, meaning I have to choose between passages, but I’m well on my way.

Okay, just to empty out my cluttered head, here are all the things that should be done but aren’t quite done the day before my book hits stores TOMORROW. My web site. My brilliant designer and friend Mae McCaw promises we’re up and running by tomorrow. By then, I need to get her any outstanding art and edits I want to make to any text. My trailer just isn’t going to be done yet. My editor Ben Meyer (no relation) says he’d like to have it off his plate by next weekend, though, so it won’t be that late. I totally slacked on trying to get free booze for my readings, but my mom has picked up the slack and started experimenting. I want to make signature cocktails for my heroine, the beautiful, witty and just a little fucked-up Jacquie Stuart. I thought something girly and pink, to go with the bright red, girly cover of the book: Jacquie-tinis if we landed vodka and Jacquie-linis if we landed champagne. (My friend Silvia who produces events came up with the concept.) My mom managed to find an inexpensive prosecco that she says tastes “divine” with a spot of Chambord. Sounds like a Jacquie-lini to me! And I thought of asking my friend Marshall to bartend for me, but forgot to call him. Granted, we only had the idea yesterday, so maybe I’m being hard on myself. Then on the way to dinner at a really great little restaurant at 22nd and 9th called Sauce, we saw an ad in a liquor store for Pink Vodka, and Harlan said, “You should have them supply the vodka.” And I kicked myself because my friend Melissa had had that idea weeks ago, hit up Pink Vodka—“they’re going for a feminine audience, it would be perfect”—and I completely spaced. Harlan thinks they probably have a distributor in LA and could probably pull it together in a day if I play my cards right. It all gives me a bit of a headache.

We’re boarding now.

I’m onboard, after a bit of a break during which I watched Live Free or Die Harder (is that what it’s called?), or at least kind of watched it. My TV was having something of a breakdown and the movie kept going in and out. I got all the audio but only about 20% of the visuals, which, strangely enough, was sufficient. I guess with a movie with such, um, extreme plot points, I was able to follow and even get stressed out by Bruce Willis’s plight, even if I was watching largely in two-second snippets. Worthwhile flicks I saw while in New York: Griffin Dunne’s Fierce People, really great premise—NY kid whose dad lives with a fierce indigenous tribe goes to live people in the country and discovers that the American aristocracy has vicious primal customs all their own—that almost sustains itself until it pussies out in the end. The Great World of Sound about two ordinary guys who sign up to hustle potential singing sensations for a duo of independent producers, and begin to question the morality of the venture. Saturday night, instead of dancing the afternoon away at PS1 as planned, Harlan and I took in Manda Bala, a poetic and disturbing doc about corruption, crime and frog farming in Brazil. What am I watching now? Steve Irwin hunting for elephant seals in the Antarctic, lions and leopards in the desert and crocodiles at the zoo. I do find Animal Planet addictive.

What else is going on? Got to post this baby! Oh, my heart goes out to Owen Wilson. I am so sad and distressed by the news that he attempted suicide. I read about the follies of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears and they leave me cold. But Owen! Owen is my boyfriend (I mean, if I didn’t have a perfect, gorgeous husband, he would be). Such a smart, talented boy, let’s just hope he reaches out to his support network and finds the strength to mellow out, kick the drugs and get back to work.