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.