Happy New Year. Welcome to 2013. Did you make any resolutions? This year I plan to record my progress weekly, to help stick with the program.
Number of New Year resolutions made 7.
Week 1. Sunday 7th January 2013
✓Drink less Sancerre.
Progress – Good (if you don’t count New Year’s Day, Friday night and last night’s karaoke session at The Belmont.).
Amendment – Drink Sancerre only on social occasions.
✓ Exercise daily.
Progress – Average.
Amendment – Three times a week.
✓ Write a thousand words of new book daily.
Progress – Slow.
Amendment – If at all possible.
✓ Meditate daily.
Progress – Poor.
Amendment – Starting next week.
✓ Change from AOL to Gmail.
Amendment – Next week sometime.
✓ Quit Chewing Nicorette gum.
Amendment – Tomorrow.
✓ Cancel the gym membership at Equinox taken out with good intentions in January 2011.
Amendment – Tomorrow.
✓ Stop procrastinating.
Amendment – Tomorrow
I am well on my way to being a sober, fit, successful writer with a strong spiritual connection to the universe who communicates efficiently in virtual space. A woman with whiter teeth, fresher breath and more money in the bank.
But I’ve been traveling constantly this last two months; Wisconsin, Chicago, Ohio, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Arizona (again), Laguna, São Paulo Brazil, Dallas, Oklahoma and Vegas. I agree. It’s ridiculous. Nobody needs to go to some of those places and I’ll leave you to decide the ones you may want to skip.
I learned (at thirty-five thousand feet in the air) that we still have the same President. I made it to thirty-six thousand feet without the aid of the pilot.
It’s wonderful to be back in Los Angeles. Yes, it’s so nice to go traveling…but it’s so much nicer, yes it’s so much nicer to stay home. (Unless it’s Paris of course.)
While satisfying my craving for moules marinieres and pommes frites in Bouchon Beverly Hills the other night, disaster struck. I am not talking about the two earthquakes that rocked the area this week, I am talking about the other earth shattering moment when I realized my brand new black patent Louboutin pump was lodged in a tiny grid underneath the table.
The gravity of the situation came in on me instantly. Gingerly removing my foot from the shoe, I inhaled my glass of Sancerre and weighed up the situation. We were deep in conversation, dining with film directors in town for a screening at Soho House. I would have to pick the right moment to interrupt the flow of conversation. It is very unlike me to hold back, but I was becalmed by the magnitude of what was happening.
After a few minutes I left the table and hopped towards the bar in search of a waiter, grateful for my recent pedicure and coral painted toenails. Within moments the news had spread and a deadly hush descended upon the restaurant.
Many iPhone searchlights were employed while the grid was removed. We held our breath as each screw was dismantled with bomb disposal precision. The shoe was held aloft, Cinderella style, the leather glistening in the half–light. A round of applause erupted from adjoining tables as shoe and grid were taken to intensive care.
We waited for the prognosis, while behind the scenes the shoe was given reconstructive plastic surgery. Around our table new friendships were being forged and community singing broke out. Our dining companions, who were from London, observed that in England the best you could hope for would be a quick yank and a trip to the shoe repair. Only in LA would your Louboutin be returned in pristine condition and handed back to you with ceremony, reverence and pride. Only in LA.
We had a great night Saturday. A close friend was turning sixty and you know what baby boomers are like when they get down to party. And so yes, there was much Sancerre, some (very) old moves on the dance floor and okay I’ll admit it, a fair bit of Karaoke. I have a vague recollection of a swimming pool figuring somewhere in the festivities too.
As we were leaving, feeling it my sole responsibility to ensure that the Summer of Love lived on, I extended an invitation to about a dozen people (rough approximation) to come over to our house the next day to watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics.
We arrived home (by taxi of course) to a flooded kitchen and after much drunken mopping, turned the water off at the mains and fell into bed at around 2am. So I blame dehydration for the fuzzy feeling in my head early Sunday morning when I dragged into the kitchen on about four hours sleep and my husband asked what time people were coming over that afternoon.
‘What? People? But we don’t have a screening room.’ I thought.
Also I looked like I deserved to look.
‘This is not good’ I thought,’ but I hate to let people down.’
Preparing to entertain while a plumber lies horizontally on your kitchen floor surrounded by the contents of your sink cupboard provides something of a challenge, as does moving at speed, in a hundred degrees of heat to pick up the phone calls from people wanting your address.
‘My prowess as a hostess is legendary.’ I think. ‘They will be expecting British flags on the gateposts, replica gold medals on ribbons, field and track games… oh! yes and food and drink.’
It dawned on me very slowly that we didn’t have any of the above or for that matter running hot water or clean towels. At the time also I didn’t know that our cable TV wasn’t working.
And so it came to pass that contravening all fire regulations, we squashed into my husband’s home office. Sitting cross-legged on the floor and flopping onto cushions we watched the extravaganza on his wide-screen Mac. We sang along with Eric Idol. We who ‘Always Look On the Bright Side of Life.’ We drank copious amounts of wine out of plastic cups and thrashed the air to ‘Talking About My Generation.’
I swelled with pride for a country I left eleven years ago. We ate cold leftover chicken from Saturday’s party and ended the evening pretty much where we left off twenty-four hours before; in the pool, a happy band of grown-up hippies remembering that ‘All You Need Is Love.’ Oh! And yes wine and music. That too.
“Whatever for?” I hear you ask, “For plumbing is not at all glamorous.”
I understand your concern, but I am not aiming for the mechanical or messy side of things. I want a job in their office answering the phone. Yes. That’s right, the ‘electric telephone’ as invented by Alexander Graham Bell.
Last week I had faucet issues. When I called Challenge a woman answered the phone. Ah ha! A human being on the other end of the line. In the background the phones were ringing off the hook and there was much yelling. It was frenetic. I was put on hold the old-fashioned way, hand held over the receiver so I could hear the mayhem. Missing drivers were being located, time frames re-arranged, apologies given. It took me right back to my days in PR.
Now we are not talking Mad Men era here. A mere ten years ago, PR offices were vibrant adrenalin pumped hubs filled with cigarette smoke and coffee cups, whirring fax machines and thumping copy machines. It was messy, unhealthy and exhausting but it was high energy and there was a visceral connection with people. (Why do I hate the word co-workers?) Anyway the graveyard silence of offices nowadays scares me; everything sliding in and out on email from claustrophobic cubicles.
Yesterday I abandoned my work, husband, friends, family, life as I know it, my Mac, iPad, Facebook page and emails. The phone remains unanswered. I haven’t managed a single Tweet in forty- eight hours. This could be my final blog. I can think of one thing and one thing only- ‘What time do they open?’ YES! Target has opened a store in my neighborhood.
Yesterday morning I pushed that giant red cart up and down its glorious aisles, adrenalin coursing through my veins as I scanned the newly stocked shelves. I had to stop for breath by the storage section for fear my heart would give out. I should have been in training for this for weeks. That way I wouldn’t have had to stop to refuel at Starbucks. This should qualify as an Olympic sport right up there with synchronized swimming and javelin throwing. It requires focus, discipline, stamina and a killer instinct.
I spent the afternoon in a frenzy; scraping stickers off glassware, yanking tags off bath-towels, rearranging drawers, alphabetizing kitchen cupboards, flinging out the old and realigning the new until spent and exhausted I fell into bed. Then springing up next morning with the lark, I was there again as the doors opened at 7 am.
I’ve always been interested in the Chinese art of Feng Shui, the first rule of which is ‘no clutter.’ Apparently when energy can’t flow easily it stagnates and all sorts of things can go wrong in particular areas of your life. Overstuffed cupboard equals overstuffed mind.
This morning while taking a break from closet clearing to make space for all the hangers, shoe-racks and shelves I planned on buying today I checked my in-box to see that India’s Summer has a great book review on- line in Barnes and Noble – Unabashedly Bookish. Right on Target!
10 Questions for the author of India’s Summer: Click here to read article
The slogan on this T- shirt caught my eye as I was sitting at the airport yesterday. I often wonder how many washes it takes before the joke on a T-shirt gets really old. Anyway it was a welcome distraction. I was wrestling with a macadamia coconut shrimp and counting the minutes until I could get out of Orlando and back home to LA.
You know you’re in the wrong place when the highlight of the trip is the flight back. Virgin America is great. The flight attendants announce the safety procedures with interpretative dancing. They have disco lights lining the cabin. The food’s imaginative. They’re very jolly people. On Virgin you’re not a mere passenger you are a guest. In our house, a guest is a person who does not pay for the privilege of staying with us. Still, it gives you a warm cuddly feeling.
The themed hotel in Orlando was geared towards visitors heading for The Happiest Place on Earth. I, who am always geared towards a fine-dining menu and a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc, was somewhat discommoded to find the highlight of the evening’s entertainment would be the Alligator Feeding.
The alligators were in a man-made moat inside the atrium of the hotel by the ‘ancient’ walls of a ten- year old ‘medieval’ castle. I prefer my alligators to be for sale in the hotel boutique complete with shoulder strap and possibly in chartreuse. (Not really, but I do like to keep aquatic life separate from my social life.)
Despite the milling crowds and the humidity it was a fun trip. People were lovely. Kids everywhere were having a blast. But I am happy to be back in the theme park that I call home; the alfresco “Italian” bars and ‘cobble-stones’ of Two Rodeo Drive, the porticos and Angstrom lighting of The Beverly Wilshire Hotel and the jumble of mock-Tudor houses, Spanish haciendas and Renaissance residences in my street. Very happy indeed.
It’s late morning here in LA. One of my son’s girlfriends is having an orgasm in our guest –house, the converted garage that doubles as a den and where the phrase “If these walls could talk…” has more meaning than I would wish to share.
This morning’s orgasm is a Harry Met Sally piece of theater being Skyped to a casting director in New York. Years ago the pool- room doubled as a space where teenagers engaged in a wide range of activities, only some of which were legal. Thankfully, my teens are now young adults.
It must be a Feng Shui thing; years before we bought the house it was a favorite location for Hustler magazine shots and we even unearthed some ‘naughty’ wallpaper complete with curvy women in kinky boots and swimming costumes when we re-decorated the downstairs restroom.
I was planning on riffing about orgasms, it being a summer when fan fiction’s passionate American readers are devouring soft porn like pop-corn. (For some reason Fifty Shades of Grey is not rendering British women panty-less and there are probably a variety of reasons for that.) Anyway I decided against it, what with me being a writer in the venerable genre of chick-lit.
I’ve been invited as a guest on quite a few blogs over the next few weeks to talk about India’s Summer and also rather delightfully, to talk about myself. Yes. Moi! Apparently complete strangers will be interested to learn about The Five Things I Would Tell My Teen Self and why I wrote a novel. I’m thrilled at the opportunity and curious to know what the five things might be and why I wrote a novel.
At least now I know the five things I would tell my former teen son. One of which would be “ I know you feel lonely right now and that you’re not one of the cool kids, but one day when you’re in your twenties, a girl will fake orgasms in front of your camera in this very room.”
I read my old diary from July 2001 this morning. It had a working title for the novel I hoped to write one day. (Hey I did it! Please download India’s Summer right now. Just press that little Amazon BUY button, you won’t regret it and even if you do it’s only the price of a Starbucks’ coffee.) Anyway, back to the diary-
Diary of A Madwoman – How one Crazed Mother Moved her Husband and Two Teenagers From A Sleepy English Village to Gilt- edged Beverly Hills – an alcohol-fueled account of one woman’s attempt to reinvent herself.
I wrote long hand in those pre- laptop, pre-iPhone, pre-Mac days. How much has changed since we arrived eleven years ago this week.
My book India’s Summer, (endorsed by Hollywood celebrities and a rattling good read) has been published at a time when social networking has taken over the planet. Amazon rules book sales and everyone has become stars in their own reality show. To make yourself heard over the fray, you need to shout loudly; become a brand, launch your website, Facebook, Tweet, Blog and tell the world how unique, witty, intelligent, kind, generous and spiritual you are. You have to create a platform for yourself.
I am not known for my shy/retiring persona. (Gross under-statement see previous posts.) Even so, I balk at blatant self–promotion. This is not serving me well. Culturally I’ve been trained from an early age to deflect compliments, apologize,make light of my accomplishments.
“Yes.” I will say. “I DO have a title but I’m not a real Lady.” (Why do I say this when I got the title from the Queen?”)
“Yes. I’ve written a book. It’s not really literature, it’s a good beach read though…” (Why do I say this when it took me a lifetime to write it and I know it’s better than that? (It’s a great couch read too and perfect for a long haul flight. Go on. Go wild. Press that Amazon BUY button.)
Americans learn to rattle off their resumes in any situation. I struggle with that. I don’t want to turn into the person who uses every social occasion to promote my on –line profile. I don’t want to alter my relationship with my friends by asking for contacts. It makes me uncomfortable. I hint. That’s what I do. I hint. (Go on. You know you’ll feel better if you press that Amazon BUY button.)
My promotional book tour continues. Technically I’m not certain that randomly giving out copies of India’s Summer on the beach while on vacation constitutes a book tour. My publicist is encouraging me to blog and tweet; but in a summer where you’re competing with Fifty Shades of Grey I think my approach is probably as effective.
On the flight to Cancun Mexico, Fergie, minus her Black-eyed Peas, was seated behind us. She tweeted a picture of herself on the beach next day. Here is the picture and next to it, a picture of the Korean couple we got to know a week later in Florida. If these people were ever to meet it would give whole new meaning to the words ‘culture shock.’
Our ‘All Inclusive’ hotel in Mexico was one giant adult playground. I’ve never seen so many people in fluorescent swimsuits drinking so many fluorescent cocktails in my life. To get to the bar, you simply waded across one of the many fluorescent pools. I immediately got into the swing of things; one-handed water salsa dancing, one-handed extreme Bingo, one-handed Ping Pong, other hand clamped to a plastic glass of Sancerre.
And then there were the water sports. My husband said it wasn’t a highlight of his vacation seeing me revving into the ocean minus a life jacket with a young Mexican man, hanging onto my waist. It turned out Miguel was a little unhinged too, a fact I discovered when we were a few miles out and he tied up the jet-ski and invited me to climb into the water and do the Rumba with him. I did; it was a lot of fun. I would share the photo Miguel and me safely back on shore, but I fear Fergie’s photo would upstage me, so you’ll have to imagine that one.
Talking of culture shock, after five days (and nights) of this Paradise, we had to tear ourselves away to The Four Seasons in Palm Beach where we had to make our own entertainment. I assure you we did… But I’m going to tell you about that some other time.