Karen Quinn's Blog
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My Thanksgiving Weekend 11.27.04 

Had a lovely Thanksgiving, thank you very much. Hope you did as well. My mother and I cooked all day Wednesday. We served a traditional feast, except for the sushi and chopped liver appetizers. My sweet potato pudding was extraordinary this year but sadly, there were no leftovers. Secretly, I hid a stash of chopped liver in the back of the fridge, so I have a few servings left to take me through the weekend before my annual post-Thanksgiving diet. I don't know why I tell myself I'm going on a diet in December. It's a lie and we all know it.

Last week, I shopped for clothes to wear on my book tour. My daily wardrobe consists of jeans, t-shirts and sweats, and my old Amex power suits have shoulder pads the size of a linebackers so I thought I'd pick up a few up-to-date jackets that could be worn over black pants and black t-shirts (which is all I own). Anyway, I bought four jackets, which I modeled for my Thanksgiving guests. Everyone voted, and two are going back to Saks tomorrow. That would be the red and orange Japanese designer jacket that my husband says makes me look like a clown. And the conservative black number that my daughter says makes me look like a man, and my son says makes me look like a doorman.

On Friday, my whole family decided I should go to Ralph Lauren and consider their jackets, so my posse and I traipsed over to Ralph's mansion on Madison. I tried a few on, which were attractive, but pricey. Sadly, in Ralph Lauren, I wear a 14, the largest size they carry. The saleslady assured me and my family members (who witnessed my humiliation) that they were cut very, very small. Hmmm, I thought. Interesting strategy. I know I always love to feel bigger than I really am. Shocking to think that no one larger than 120 pound me shops at Ralph Lauren. Suffice it to say, Ralph won't be joining me on my book tour. For the record, at Eileen Fisher, I'm an extra-small (which I assure you is correct).

Shopping for book tour clothes reminded me of the time, early in my career, when I was going on my first business trip. My parents took me out to dinner to celebrate and my dad gave me a pair of professional looking earrings to wear while traveling. Later I grew to hate business travel, but my first trip was a milestone. Maybe someday I'll hate book tours, but for now, I'm shopping in celebration.

Speaking of shopping, I took Schuyler out to buy her Christmas presents today. I love my daughter, but shopping with her is a parent's nightmare. First of all, no matter how cold the temperature, she insists on showing stomach (in fairness, I'd have mine bronzed if it looked like hers, not that it ever did). She turns men's heads wherever she goes, while I trail behind, giving every guy my evil-mom "don't even THINK about it" stare. Schuyler's favorite stores play loud, thumping, angry rap music and have floors and walls that pulsate and change colors, the latest in retail technology. Urban Outfitters was as packed as a subway train, Just say - flu exposure, flu exposure, flu exposure, no shot, no shot, no shot, aaaaaargh!!! Schuyler had a budget of $300. Her goal is to open as many presents as possible on Christmas day so she decided to spend $10 here, $12 there, $6 here - God forbid we miss even one store. "Wouldn't you like to buy a really, really expensive pair of sneakers?" I kept asking. "Or maybe a gold necklace?" I needed to pee so badly and none of the stores along Broadway have bathrooms. Why? Don't hip people urinate? I was directed to the Starbucks near Great Jones along with every other shopper. The bathroom line was three times as long as the coffee line (which was plenty long, let me tell you) so I gave up. The good news is that she spent the whole wad today, so I won't have to repeat this experience, at least not until her birthday, when we'll do it again. That's not until August and by then I'll have blocked out the pain. Anyway, hope your Thanksgiving was as good as mine.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

11.20.04 Bookstore Readings 

One of the challenges about being a writer is that you need opposite talents. First, you have to closet yourself in a room, alone, for six months or more, and write an interesting, entertaining novel. That requires the ability to write well, imagine a good story, spend hours upon hours in isolation, and sit on your ass for sustained periods of time. That last requirement is particularly hard for me because I have bad knees. When I get up after writing several pages, I can barely straighten my legs. It's a problem.

Then, when the book is finished, you have to be able to go on the road and promote your creation, exchange witty repartee with radio and TV interviewers, impress and delight newspaper reporters enough to write about you, and entertain at bookstore readings around the country. These bookstore readings are particularly nerve-wracking for me. Not that I've done one yet. I'm just thinking about what I'm going to say at those appearances. Not that I don't HAVE a lot to say, I do. But I don't want to ramble (my natural inclination as you can see). Plus, they want you to read aloud from your book at a bookstore (hence the term "a reading"), and being read to as an adult seems kind of dull, no matter how interesting the book.

So this week, I decided to go see a writer speak to get ideas about what to do at my own readings. Actually it was a writing-duo, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, who penned The Nanny Diaries and Citizen Girl (their new book). Quite justifiably, I was totally prepared to hate these girls. They had a huge bestseller, so I'm jealous right out of the box. We asked them to write a blurb for my book and they didn't even answer the letter (rude, rude, rude). They kept firing their agents, and in my world it's just plain wrong to fire the person who gave you your first break (I'm judgemental, so sue me). They left their first editor just because a better deal came along. Yes, it was a much, much, much better deal, but still. Sadly, God punished them when Random House rejected their submission and made them return the advance. Heads rolled over that one and it became a minor scandal in the publishing world. Then it is rumored that Emma and Nicola asked for (no, demanded!!!) hair and make-up before all their appearances, which is apparently considered a spoiled thing to do in the book business. So anyway, my basic instinct was to actively dislike these girls, or at least not buy their book.

Despite my best intentions, I couldn't hate Emma and Nicola once I saw them in person. They drew a big crowd, friends and family mostly, but all the seats were filled. And poor things, a lady in the front row was wearing a hearing aid, which kept interfering with their mike. After several minutes of unbearably loud, high-pitched feedback, they went with no amplification (big mistake) until a better AV set-up could be arranged. I applaud them for not asking the lady with the hearing aid to go sit in the back, which is what I would have done. Nicola was wearing jeans and a casual shirt (which I didn't get, I mean this was her BIG Barnes & Noble moment!). Emma was dressed in suitable head-to-toe New York black. They gave a short intro about what inspired their book (good idea for me to adopt) and then went on to read for the rest of the time. Their reading was so dramatic that I suspect an acting coach was involved and it made me wonder if I should get one.

But then the reading took an unexpected and confusing turn. For their third passage, the girls read a graphic chapter that involved hookers and shoving not one, but two fists up a woman's ass. So I spent the rest of the reading obsessing about fists and asses. I mean, how would that be physically possible? Wouldn't it hurt? One small fist, okay fine, but two? What position would you have to be in? Beyond the fist, would there be arm involved? And what if the shover didn't take his ring off? Anyway, the authors lost me when they read this exerpt. Call me old-fashioned but there's a time and place for shoving fists up asses and it's not at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble. Especially not when your dad and assorted grandparents are in the audience. Lesson learned: Do not read sex scenes at readings. Anyway, next week I'm furthering my bookstore reading research by seeing Toni Bentley read from her new book The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir. I'll report back if anything memorable happens.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

11.15.05 Big News, No Time 

The problem with having a blog is that you feel you actually have to blog. Is blog a verb?

This weekend, I had every intention of blogging. I actually had something thrilling to talk about. Huge news. HUGE! But I just couldn't get to the computer. First I had to see the new Bridget Jones movie (good, not great). Then I needed to get my usual two weeks worth of groceries. Plus, we had a dinner party, so I had to shop at the expensive store for the fancy food I'd be reheating and pretending to have cooked from scratch. Of course, I had to schlep to the wine store as well. And when you're having a party, you have to clean the house. And I do have two kids who are at the age where they prefer I leave them alone. So, a big part of my weekend was spent injecting myself into their lives, being politely rejected, wondering if it was me, trying again, being politely rejected again, etc. And then there's my husband. We enjoy hanging out together on weekends since we're both so busy the rest of the time. We took two nice long walks together, and did a few other things I won't bore you with. On top of it all, I'm trying to finish book number two by Thanksgiving, so I was furiously writing and editing between all the stuff mentioned above. And I was so tired from last week (don't ask me why; I don't remember what I did), I slept until twelve on Saturday and Sunday, so everything I accomplished took place in the few hours between waking up late and then going to bed early.

With all of this going on, when could I blog? Naturally I couldn't. So here it is Monday night and I'm finally sitting down to do it. Okay, here's my big news: The Ivy Chronicles was optioned as a movie! Is that not the coolest thing? I'm very, very excited. Can't believe it really. It's the most thrilling thing that's happened since I sold the book. And that was pretty much the most exciting thing that had EVER happened to me in my entire life besides getting married and having two babies. Anyway, I was bummed that I couldn't find two minutes to blog about my truly big news over the weekend. I'm hoping life will calm down a bit so I'll have more time to meet my blogging obligations in the future. I read in the paper yesterday that there are people who actually blog every single day. I can't figure out who these people are. I do know they are not full-time working mothers.

Monday, November 15, 2004

11.6.04 You say blog, I say blurb 

I told my daughter that it was my turn to have the computer. I promised my editor that I'd do my first website blurb over the weekend. Schuyler rolled her eyes, annoyed that I didn't know that the word was supposed to be blog. Jeez-us mom. GAAAAAA!

For any of you choosing to have kids later in life, let me want to warn you about a downside to that decision that no one talks about. No, it's not that when your child is twenty, you'll be shopping for cemetery plots. That I could handle. The problem is, when your kid enters teenage-hood, you will be deemed a complete and utter, out-of-it, moth-eaten, obsolete, mother who belongs in a Florida retirement community. A Cro-Magnon mom. A humiliation to children everywhere.

Maybe this happens to women who have kids early in life, but I have to believe it's worse if you wait until your blood levels are so high that even the most optimistic fertility specialist won't take you.

Last week, Schuyler went to a one of the hundreds of bar or bat mitzvahs she's been attending of late. When she didn't come home at the appointed hour, I called to say I was coming to pick her up myself. She immediately grabbed a cab and came home. It was both a sad and happy realization. Happy, because I'm always looking for effective ways to get my kids to obey my reasonable orders. Sad because, well, you can understand. Want to sleep too late to catch the school bus? It's okay. I'LL take you myself. Want to wear that cropped tee to school today? No prob. When the dean calls, I'LL bring a more appropriate shirt to your History class. Whatever works, right? But still.

What my daughter doesn't understand is just how cool a mom she has. I own an ipod. I drink green tea. I fix the computer. I order pizza for her friends. But alas, that's not enough. I say blurb instead of blog. I make her turn her music down and yell at her for locking the bedroom door when boys are visiting. I force her to change skirts that are too short and tops that are too tight. I mince no words when she's wearing too much makeup. I refuse to let her get a tattoo, pierce her bellybutton or dye her hair pink. Okay, so I've turned into my mother. I happen to believe my mother is incredibly cool. Now. Thirty years later. I really do believe that.

My son says it's against the law for any kid to admit he thinks his mom is with-it.

"Sam," I said. "In fifteen-years you'll realize just how cool a mom you have."

"That may be true, Mom," Sam said, "but you'll be long dead by then."

Saturday, November 06, 2004

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