Karen Quinn's Blog
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My Super Sweet 16 

I forgot to mention that Schuyler lost another cell phone last week. That's three cellphones either lost or destroyed in six weeks. I cannot keep up with this child. Between the three phones and her last cellphone bill (2,500 minutes to my 90 minutes and Sam's 100), she's paying off her debts until summer. Her favorite show is on MTV - My Super Sweet 16. This is where really rich kids have a whole show devoted to the planning and execution of their over-the-top, grossly excessive Sweet 16 Party. These are teens where money is no object - they get anything they want. Who are these children and what kind of parents do they have??? Hello-ow! Values anyone? I'm watching one with her now where a girl from Staten Island is making her guest list. She's decided not to invite any ugly people. Ooookay. With values like that, I'm surprised she doesn't invite all ugly people so she'll look better by comparison. We watched one earlier featuring a boy who went to Schuyler's camp (yes, that's right, a BOY having a Sweet 16 party). Schuyler actually went to this party. He is delivered to the club where the party is being held in a limo, then he walks up a red carpet where six hundred of his friends await. Of course there's a celeb DJ. And they hold a fashion show where all his friends model clothes he designed (at least I think he designed them, otherwise I don't get it). Poor kid was so nervous about appearing on the runway after the show that he threw up (we hear the retching and are spared the visuals). For his birthday gift, the boy gets a black porsche from mom and dad. In the show we watched earlier today, the girl got a red Mercedes convertible. Anyway, I mention this show because it has set up the most unrealistic expectations in Schuyler's mind for her own Sweet 16 Party. She wants to have 300 kids for a party at the Pierre. Even that means culling her list. I guess she hasn't noticed yet that she doesn't come from a rich family. I keep telling her to lower her sights a bit. How about 15 friends at the local Pizza Hut? We're pretty far apart on negotiations.

Schuyler and I are going Christmas shopping for her today. This is pretty much my most unfavorite thing to do in the world. She wants as many presents as possible within the budget I give her (as opposed to one big present we can knock off in one place). So, we go into store after store on Broadway where she'll buy items for $10, $20, $25. Lower Broadway has all the very chic, cheap stores so this is where we shop. The stores are geared to kids so they play loud, blaring music accompanied by intense drum beating, floors that change colors, light shows. UGH! Totally headache and nausea producing. I can't believe this is the shopping experience that kids want, but apparently they do. My job is to follow behind Schuyler and be the human wallet.

On another topic, I saw some great theater this weekend - The Jersey Boys. It's a new Broadway Show about the life of Freddy Valli and the Four Seasons. If you have a chance to go see it, GO. It's fantastic. I'm going to see The Odd Couple tonight. My brother, Don, was planning to stay an extra day to see it, but decided to go back to Dallas so he gave me his tickets. This stars Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane who were so great together in The Producers. My friend, Brooke, is coming with me. She's one of the front page reporters for People Magazine. Not only is she a very fun person to hang with, but she can tell you the latest on Brad, Jen, Angelina, Brittany, et al.

See you soon. Schuyler's agitating to go shopping now.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Happy Turkey Day 

Happy thanksgiving! It is Thanksgiving and my whole family is here from Colorado and Texas. Haven't seen my younger brother and his girlfriend yet, but they'll be coming soon. We're going to my cousin's house in Purchase. Normally, I host the dinner at our house. In spite of not having to cook this year, I went ahead and prepared the entire traditional feast. We'll have a second Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. My mother and I cook this meal together every year and I love doing it with her. Normally I'm not much of a cook, but I make a delicious Thanksgiving meal (with mom's guidance, of course). How could I give up the tradition of cooking with mom? I couldn't! I also wanted leftovers this weekend, plus, my house must smell like Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day. It must! And now it does. All this led to my cooking the redundant meal and my whole family thinks I'm nuts, but whatever.

We have to drive nine people up to Purchase so Mark rented a giant van that he's planning to drive. I hope he can handle such a big car. We don't own a car because you really don't need one in Manhattan.

Once we owned a car. I was in Florida on a business trip, on my way to the airport to return home. In my rental car, I drove past a beautiful 1963 red Cadillac Ed Dorado on the side of the road that was for sale. The woman who worked for me, Alex, suggested we stop and take a look. It was just so fabu looking. Anyway, the owner took it for a test drive with us in the car (neither of our feet could reach the pedals). I hear this voice from the backseat saying, "Karen, if you don't buy this car, I will." So, of course, I bought it. Alex and I went to the bank and got $4,000 on our credit cards and paid cash for the damn thing. We checked back into a hotel that night, intending to drive from Ft. Lauderdale to NYC the next day. Then we realized that all we had to wear was business clothes. So we went to the mall andbought sexy little shoulderless outfits to wear on the drive to NY. The car was a convertible, so we had to look really cute on the road. And we did. Lots of truckers honked at us once we got on the road. After stealing about six pillows from the hotel (three to put under us and three to put behind us so we could reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel), Alex and I had this amazing three day journey up the cost from Florida. The car broke down right outside of NY, the first of many breakdowns to come, and we spent about three hours at a gas station getting it fixed. Then we drove it into Manhattan where I surprised Mark with it - gave it to him for his birthday. He couldn't believe it (in a bad way, not in a good way). My advice is never to give someone a car for a birthday present unless it's exchangeable. It turned out that NY State taxes cars by the pound, and this particular El Dorado was the largest (i.e. heaviest) car ever made. It was so big that we had to pay for two spaces in the $300/mo. garage we parked it in. And then it broke down constantly, and I mean every single week something went wrong. We finally sold it to a couple in the Hamptons and it broke down as they drove away from our rental house with their new purchase. Big relief! Their problem, not ours. After that, Mark and I never bought another car here. I've even forgotten how to drive. Don't know why I got into that story other than to explain why we had to rent a van to get up to my cousin's house.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

If you can open the link below, it's pretty funny (and Thanksgiving related).


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

vitamin crisis 

Okay, I spent a fortune on these customized vitamins after getting my bloodwork back and discovering I was low in just about every important measurement. The only places I was high was in the bad cholesterol number (naturally). The reason I never took vitamins before was because I always choked on them. They're so damn big. But the dietician said that the custom vitamins are smaller, so I could probably swallow those. And they are smaller than your typical vitamins which only seem to come in two sizes - suppository and horse pill. But they're still bigger than any pill I take right now. Here's how the custom vitamin program works. They take your blood and a nutritionist looks at all your numbers. She talks to you, asks lots of questions, and then prescribes all the vitamin A, B, C, fish oil, minerals, etc. that you need. The custom vitamin place mixes up a special vitamin to your specifications then sends you a three month supply in capsules. In my case, I lack so many vitamins that I have to take 12 pills a day to get my daily recommended dose. Yesterday, I managed to take six capsules and only choked on one. Today, I took three and choked on two. Luckily I can send these back if they don't work for me. But I really think I should be taking vitamins. So, I took my next three today by spilling them into a cup of tea. It turned the tea an odd bright orange color that is reminiscent of radioactivity. Right now, I'm drinking the tea while holding my nose because it tastes so bitter. My tongue gets numb each time I swallow. That can't be good. I'm thinking of getting some fresh fruit later and trying to down the rest of the capsules in a smoothie. Wish me luck.

Our hot water has been broken since Thursday. I had gone out Wednesday night to a black tie event, so my hair was all producted-out and sprayed stiff. When I woke up Thursday morning, it looked like I was wearing a sideways birdnest on my head. That's when I discovered that our water was ice cold. Unfortunately I had breakfast scheduled with a friend on the upper east side, so I went up there looking ridiculous - a baseball cap just doesn't cut it in a fancy uptown restaurant, not that a sideways birdsnest is acceptable, but at least it's hair. Meanwhile, the hot water has been working on and off throughout the weekend (mostly off). Schuyler never managed to take a shower and when she woke up this morning with no hot water, she refused to go to school smelling nasty. Any excuse will do for her. I had to heat up water in big pans and make her a bath the old fashioned way. Never say I'm not a good mother.

Mark has been furious over the water situation all weekend. So this morning, when we had no hot water, I called the super up to the apartment. He came and as soon as he did, our hot water started working (I hate when that happens). Anyway, Mark was as nice and calm as he could be over the situation while Patrick was here. This really pissed me off because that meant I had to be the bad-cop hysterical one to show we were seriously upset. The minute Patrick left, Mark was all angry again in my presence. It would have been nice if he'd expressed his frustration when Patrick was here.
Gag! I just took another sip of that rancid, radioactive tea. Ycccc!!!

The family begins to arrive tomorrow for Thanksgiving. I love having everyone here. We're all going to see Jersey Boys on Broadway Wednesday night. On Thursday, we're going up to Westchester to my cousin's for dinner. Usually I host the dinner but my cousin really wanted to this year. That's fine. I'm still going to cook turkey, dressing and my famous sweet potato pudding with marshmallows so we'll have Thanksgiving all weekend at home.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm totally stalling. I'm trying to finish Wife in the Fast Lane today so I can get it to the copy editor. So, of course, I had to blog first in order to put off the task. I'm very much looking forward to watching Medium tonight in 3-D tonight. It doesn't take much to make me happy.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Treasure Island - Overrated and Oversold 

Sam did his homework the other night on my computer so he left his book report on the screen. It was a review of Treasure Island, by Robert Luis Stevenson, entitled "Treasure Island - Overrated and Oversold." Here are some quotes from his report...

"It is vastly overrated and very hard to understand. The plots are confusing, characters ramble, and it is way too descriptive. There are about 10,000 captions in the book which make it very hard to understand."

"The plot of Treasure Island is confusing and boring. It begins with Captain Bill dying...They then arrive at the only exciting part of the book, the mutiny...(Sam describes the mutiny)...I won't give away what happens but it is surprising and boring."

"There were many points in this book when I had no idea what was going on. It seemed like half the book was useless dialog, and other 40% was description. In the beginning, Jim and his mother were searching for the treasure chest and next they were planning the voyage. Twenty pages separated those two events, 19 of which were useless description and dialogue."

The language was not terribly hard to understand but it could use some improvement...I was very annoyed with the phrase 'Fifteen men on a dead man's chest, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.'"

"Treasure Island was too long, too descriptive, and had too many unimportant events. If this book had been condensed to 175 pages instead of 300, with less dialog and description, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. One example of this is the voyage. It starts on page 81 and ends on page 110. That could have been condensed to ten pages. This book has the potential for a great book, but Robert Luis Stevenson just didn't write this book as good as he could have."

I laughed so hard reading his review. One of the greatest books of all time panned by my son. It reminded me that you can't take your reviews too seriously. It's all through the eyes of the reviewer who may not be your ideal reader. Sam should have enjoyed this book, but I guess it was just too literary for him. Oddly enough, he loves the Harry Potter books, which are full of description and endless dialog. He read my India Fudge book and his comment was, "Mom, you say in 50 words what JK Rowling says in 100. You really need to stretch it out more. You just can't win.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Celebrating wth the Small-Podds 

Today is our friend, Chris Podd's 50th birthday. He and his wife, Ann Marie Small, live in New Jersey. She called to say that, more than anything in the world, Chris wanted to have dinner at a fine restaurant with us in Manhattan to celebrate this milestone. I think he must have said this because Mark and I are such a fun couple. That's the only thing I can think of. Ever since the Small-Podds moved to New Jersey, we never see them. They used to be big party buddies when none of us had kids. We spent many a night at Fat Tuesdays enjoying jazz together. Now, we never go to Fat Tuesdays. It's partly because Fat Tuesdays is now a pilate studio. It's also because I don't go out for jazz anymore except in extreme circumstances. I did go to Smoke for Mark's 50th birthday. I'd love to go see jazz more often but Mark never leaves until midnight because that's when the jazz "scene" really gets started. I just can't stay up that late anymore.

Anyway, back to the Small-Podds, I feel this huge pressure to be an entertaining conversationalist tonight. I hope I can rise to the occasion and make witty reparte. We'll be going to Daniel, which is a very hoity toity restaurant in the city. You would only go there for an important birthday or if someone else was paying. You'd also go if you were very rich, but that is not a reason we'd go there (since we're not rich). My friend, Vicki, who is very, very, very rich, goes there all the time. She advised me to order the lobster appetizer, short ribs (which she claims are second to none in the world), and molten chocolate cake. She also advised me to dress up, wear heels and jewelry because Saturday night is dressy at Daniel.

Anyway, back to the Small-Podds, if you read my book, you know there's a character named Saul Small-Podd in it. He was named for the Chris and Ann Marie. My editor told me the name sounded too cartoonish but I told her that the Small-Podds actually existed so she let me leave it in.

We had Schuyler's parent-teacher conference yesterday. Let's just say there is vast room for improvement. Mark told her if she makes straight A's, he'll get her a puppy. He made the deal because he believes she could never do it. I hope she proves him wrong. If she makes anything less than straight B's, she'll no longer be allowed to go out on weekends. That wouldn't be so bad from my point of view. At least I'd know where she was.

Tomorrow, Sam wants me to bleach his dark brown hair white white white. He also wants me to buy him Crest Whitestrips so he can whiten his teeth. I'm thinking he must have a girlfriend or why would he care about his appearance? I don't know how the Whitestrips will work over braces, but I'll get them for him anyway because he never seems to care about his personal hygene and I want to be supportive when he does.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I just got a blackberry that allows me to get e-mails and make phone calls. Why I got it, I cannot say. No one ever calls me and the e-mails just pile up. When you delete them on-line they don't get deleted on the blackberry which means you have to double-delete, a big pain. Right now, I have over 1,000 that need to be deleted and I'm afraid I'll get carpel tunnel syndrome if I even attempt it. Meanwhile, the thing vibrates at me all the time and I can't figure out why. What is it trying to tell me?

Yesterday, I received the most wonderful book from Margaret O'Hair called Star Baby (houghton mifflin books). Margaret sent it to me because she is a fan of The Ivy Chronicles and now I'm a fan of Margaret's. Seriously, if you have a little baby or know someone who does, pick this up for a holiday gift. The illustrations are delightful and the story is lyrical in that way that kids will adore having it read to them over and over. It reminds me of Chica Chica Boom Boom, that alphabet book that I used to read to my kids. Or Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear. The story celebrates the amazing small but huge accomplishments babies achieve every day like pointing, playing peek-a-boo, scooting, crawling. If there's a baby in your life, this will be a lovely book to add to his or her library.

Meanwhile, I got the nicest e-mail from Jeni from Edinburgh...I'm sharing this one because I want to contrast it with a mean, nasty one I gotten on Amazon (the majority have been great, but the few bad ones really do sting)...Here's what she said:

"This book saved me in Abu Dhabi airport. In a Muslim country where no girls travel alone let alone are seen alone, I was left stranded in Abu Dhabi airport after my friend desserted me to grasp the only standby seat left. Our scheduled flight had been delayed for 6 hours. From hiding in the ladies loos for an hour, buying some chocolate and secretely comfort eating in the cubicle (as it was ramadam!). I built up enough courage thanks to my friend Elaine, to venture out into the madness of abu dhabi airpot. With a thousand eyes from Jeddah and India leering and peering at me the stress of the whole situation got to me, like a caged pacing tiger I resorted to doing continuous laps of the duty free, with my mind numbing I came across a book shop. I spent 30 minutes ping ponging betweend shelves, then finally the 'richard and judy summer read ' sticker sprung out at me.

I bought the lovely candy pink striped coverback It gave me some assurance that I had a link with the outside world, I think becuase it reminded me of a stick of rock, I hated them and was never very grateful when my nanna would return with a stick but did love the colours and always wondered how they made stripey candy! THis book was my saviour. I hid in the European corner, there were only 6 of us, 2 couples a fetching young man et moi.

I'm not a big reader at all, but once I picked up this book I couldn't put it down.

I hid in the world of New York until the flight was called.

Thank you thank you thank you for writing this book. It's the funniest book I have ever read, I loved your turn of phrases. I have told all my friends that they must read it too and have bought 2 copies as Christmas presents.

Please hurry up and write another. I have withdrawel symptoms and have an empty feeling now that the book is over , just like when my friends and I joined hands to watch the last episode of Sex in the City. Talking of which, is this book going to be made into a film.

From Jeni in Edinburgh, Scotland

Isn't this the nicest? It really did make my day. Lifted by Jeni's sterling review, I decided to check my Amazon reviews and came across this posting I hadn't seen yet.

Erica S. (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
More "chick-lit" garbage in an industry that's already overflowing with junk. It's amazing how nonsense like this actually gets published. I'm suspecting the"author" (and I use that term lightly) had a friend in the publishing industry. How otherwise to explain a useless waste of paper?


Why Erica, why? Why do you bother reading a book that you must know by the third chapter you hate? Do you have no life? Also, if you don't like something, fine, but why are you so cruel about it? I hope you're in therapy to work out your anger issues. The truth is, I worked very hard on this book and I'm proud of it. I can't tell you how many people loved it and told me it was one of the funniest thing they'd read in years. In fact, here's an e-mail I got from Jill Kargman (Wolves in Chic Clothing) after she read it:

"THANK YOU...for the BEST read of my summer! Not to be sooo Kathy Bates-ish but I am so your #1 fan! I LITERALLY was peeing in my pants reading Ivy and my mom is now obsessed as well. We both will worship it to everyone we know. It will DEFINITELY be a HUGE bestseller, CONGRATS :)"

Now, if I hadn't thoroughly adored Star Baby, the book that Margaret O'Hair sent me, I just wouldn't have talked about it. I certainly wouldn't have eviscerated Margaret. In my opinion, if you don't like a book, put it down and go on to something you do enjoy. I start books all the time that I don't like. When I realize I'm not enjoying it, I put it away and move on to something else. It would never occur to me to go on-line and electronically stab the author eighteen times in some mad act of rage. It hurts to get attacked like that. Erica, how would you like it if I showed up at your office and told you what a terrible job I thought you were doing? But, instead of just saying you were doing a bad job, what if I called your work useless, miserable, stinking, disgusting garbage didn't deserve to see the light of day? And then what if I published my thoughts for thousands of people to see. You wouldn't like that. So lighten up, okay. If you don't like a book and want to say so, fine, but don't be cruel about it. And by the way, I didn't have a friend in the publishing business.

Okay, this is getting way too long and personal. But I just had to say it because I was so deflated reading it yesterday. Then, of course, I realized that rejection is just part of the job of being an author (as it's part of an actor's job) so I needed to get over it and move on. I have. Now I need to go work out. My blackberry is vibrating at me again. Why? What are you trying to tell me my electronic organizing friend?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My Post after Schuyler Hijacked my Blog 

Yesterday, about ten seconds after leaving for school, Schuyler comes running back in a panic. It seems that she dropped her cell phone down the elevator shaft. Now do you know how hard that is to do? You have to drop the phone at the exact moment you're crossing the threshold from the hallway to the elevator car. The phone has to fall sideways so that it is able to slip down the three to four inch crack between the hall and the elevator. And yet, conditions were perfect for Schuyler's phone to fall precisely through the space, eleven stories down to its demise. This is the second cell phone she has rendered unusable in a month. The first one was lost. This one was smashed in the elevator shaft. Others have been lost, run over by a car, snatched by a dog. Schuyler doesn't have great luck with cell phones. Luckily this phone was insured so after paying $115 (deductible, shipping), the rest is free. It's only a $200 phone. They don't tell you this stuff when they sell you the insurance. Schuyler will be paying for these two phones out of her allowance until April. But how can I let her loose on the streets of NYC without a cell phone? I can't, that's how. On the Sam front, last night was a scramble to finish his Uranus project. He and a friend made a three-dimensional poster of Uranus and all it's moons. The day before, he walked through the house with his freshly painted poster, dripping navy blue paint on our floor, walls, and doors. Of course, it's up to mom (moi) to assist in putting all the pieces together, at midnight the night before it's due.

I went to see a friend yesterday who is a doctor. I had some follow up to do after the bloodwork at Canyon Ranch. As I sat in her office after the exam, waiting for her to tell me my course of treatment (thyroid pills, nothing more), she took a call from another doctor. From my end, I heard her talking about a teenager with MS, incontinence, blind, convulsions - the list goes on and is so sad. I realized that as challenging as it is to raise teenagers, at least mine are healthy. I can't imagine how difficult it is for that kid's mother (and for the child, too). Count your blessings if your children are healthy.

Tonight I'm speaking for 70 women at my friend, Carol Becker's, apartment. She's hosting the evening for a Jewish Women's Organization and I can't believe how many people RSVP'd. Carol was so generous, not only in having the event in her home, but also by buying everyone who attends a book. I'm going to talk about professional reinvention, which is one of my favorite subjects. That's probably because I've had to do it so many times. I'll tell my own story and then share the ten lessons about reinvention that I came up. People tell me they find it inspirational so I really enjoy doing it. After, my aunt and cousin and I are going out to dinner. Aunt Claire always knows great restaurants on the Upper East Side.

Did I mention that I turned in Wife in the Fast Lane? That happened on Monday. The editor will read it over the weekend and give more notes about changes she still wants to see. My editor, Trish, is really pretty great and her comments have already made the book better. I don't mind getting those comments at all. A good editor can keep you out of trouble. A different editor is currently looking at my India Fudge book. My agent had lunch with her last week and she hadn't started reading it yet. My fingers are crossed on that one because I love it so much and want to do a series. I do think it needs work, but that's where getting a good editor comes in. I'll let you know...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Schuyler Is a Genius:Part two 

Ok, so after reveiwing the blogs that my mother has recently posted, i would like to say that yes I did have fun at the night club, and no the blue ink stain on the duvet was not me. Anyway, high school is tons of fun and my mom just can't seem to appreciate the fact that I'm growing up. Everyday it's some random complaint such as "Don't lock your door" (when I don't have a lock on my door in the first place) or "Take the 3 day old chinese food off of your desk!!" Which I admit, i do eat alot of chinese food and have a tendency not to throw it away...until the smell is REALLY noticable. Anyway back to high school. Ok so i'm at the Winston Prep School. It's a school that is suppose to help kids with learning disabilities (I have A.d.d....and no i'm not just using it as an excuse for being slow) and it's suppose to help kids with their "learning style" etc. What i don't understand is why we pay almost 40,000$ so i can have vacation every 3 days. I mean i'm not complaining, it's just that it really doesn't make sense. I actually tried to get in another day of vacation last week by (ok so my school has this schedule that we keep on our fridge and all the days we're not suppose to come in are marked red) so I colored in the day red. So it worked until about 10:30 when my focus teacher (yeah, bet'cha never heard of a focus class before) called and asked my mom where i was. Anyway the truth is, I think i've gotten just about everything i can out of this school which is why i suggested "mainstreaming" as they call it is winston terms. So me and my mom are going to look at a few schools (churchill, dwight, calhoun, I.C.E.) and figure out what school i'm going to go for sophmore year. I really do love winston and all the crazy people that come along with it but i need to get outta there. I actually have no idea why this is relevant to anything but it's ok. In other news, I found out about my mothers "magical mushroom" days and i was not happy. I spent almost the whole rest of the night lecturing her on why drugs are bad. God I don't know what i'm gonna do when i have kids. I asked my dad about his shroom eating days but he refused to admit anything. Well to keep this somewhat short, there have been fights, there have been new boys here and there, and i've been learning alot about my parent's crazy highschool days. I also learned how to use phtoshop...which i am very excited about. These are just some pictures of me and the crazy nutshell that is my life.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

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