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.

1 comment: said...

Congrats on your readings! How exciting. A toast to you!

xo Natalie (aka: the liquid muse)