Archive for 2013

12/30/13, Unexpected Gifts and Guests

Posted on December 30, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Well the year is drawing to a close. It’s been a year of hard work, a lot of writing, a lot of travelling back and forth between the two cities/countries where I live, time with my kids whenever possible, and some lovely times with them, some wins, some losses, and some home runs. It’s been a challenging year for some who are happy to see the year end. And we all seem to work harder than we used to, in a much tougher economy. There is a seriousness to that, which none of us can ignore or avoid, the hard economic times touch us all. And on a personal level, my youngest son got engaged, so we’ll have a wedding in the family next year.

Christmas was hectic, but wonderful, and as I ponder it, I realize how many blessings came my way. As I said in an earlier blog, I feel lucky and blessed. I got home, I didn’t get snowed in or delayed along the way, not always a sure thing this time of year. I had Christmas gatherings with good friends in Paris, and San Francisco, which allowed me to see some friends I hadn’t seen all year, which is always fun. And I realize how lucky I was that all of my kids were with me on Christmas, which wasn’t the original plan. It’s not easy to get everyone together, and although my five youngest planned to be with me on Christmas, it’s more challenging for the three older ones, with in laws, their own plans, and families of their own. This year, all three of my older married children decided not to celebrate with us, which was disappointing for me, but understandable, and I made my peace with it. In years past, it was easier and everyone was here. Now it’s sometimes touch and go as to who can come, and I am very, very grateful to have as many of them with me as can make it. And I resigned myself to not having my three older children with us for the holidays. I tried not to be too disappointed, and tried to be philosophical about it and let it go. That left me with the younger 5 kids, and usually their boyfriends and girlfriends go home to their own families. But this year, all their significant others were able to join us, so our group grew. Then, I discovered that my son in law’s mother was able to join us too, which was a lot of fun. A few days before Christmas, two of the three missing older ones decided to change their plans and come, which was great news. And one of them announced that she was bringing her parents in law, more good news since I like them very much. The children’s father’s first wife joins us for Christmas every year and brings her terrific now 95 year old mother with her, who is a surrogate grandmother to my children. This year, she announced that she was bringing her best friend, another 95 year old lady, and they were the stars of the show. Both are in great shape, still beautiful, go out to parties all the time and travel, and have a busier social life than I do. So we had two very lively 95 year old women as part of the group for Christmas. And fifteen minutes before dinner, my oldest son called with a change of plans, and decided to come home for dinner too. So presto magic, our group of thirteen for dinner on Christmas night grew to 27. The age range at dinner was from 6 to 95. And it was an important lesson for me. I was willing to accept that not all of my children would be with us, and tried not to make an issue of it, and then unexpectedly, at the last minute, all of them came home, and I was so grateful to have Christmas with them, their spouses, significant others, in laws, and even a 95 year old friend. It was a big blessing for me, and a reminder that life sometimes gives you unexpected gifts, and abundance you didn’t even dare to hope for. It was a very happy Christmas as a result, we had dinner together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and a good time hanging around in pajamas, crowded into the kitchen eating leftovers after opening gifts on Christmas Day. So it was a merry Christmas here this year. And like any family, there were a few crabby moments, the usual holiday tensions when people get tired and stressed, but on the whole, a good time was had by all, and the blessings of the season touched us all. » read more »

12/23/13. Busy Days

Posted on December 23, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Whew….this is the week when every year I speed through 3 cities and 2 countries in the space of a few days, in order to get home for Christmas with my children. In theory, Christmas is a happy time of year, although sometimes we get so buried in the details of it, that we forget the bigger picture, the meaning of the holidays (if you believe in those meanings), and forget to be grateful for what we do have, rather than regretful or even resentful of what we don’t. I am always grateful to get home. The weather can be dicey in both Paris and New York in December, and I always worry about getting snowed in, in either city, and missing the holiday with my family entirely. And being too busy too much of the time, and usually working til the last minute, I worry that I might get sick, catch a flu and be unable to fly. And although I flirted with some kind of bug before I came home, nothing much came of it, so I was able to fly. I stop in New York on the way home for Christmas, to celebrate the birthday of one of my daughters who was born a week before Christmas. So I was happy to spend a day with her in New York on the way home, which is always a treat for me. And it was freezing in New York.

So laden like a beast of burden, with a suitcase full of gifts (which broke and exploded at the airport, but fortunately nothing got lost, but I had to replace the suitcase in New York), and my two dogs in their traveling bags, I boarded the plane in Paris, and whipped through New York, and got home in time for Christmas, and everything I need to do before. I pride myself on being a very organized person, and my whole family makes fun of me because I start Christmas shopping in August, but I have a lot of kids and people to buy presents for, so I like to get an early start, and hate the last minute rush. But no matter how organized I am, there are always people I have forgotten, things that don’t arrive, last minute requests from my kids, so I end up rushing as much as anyone else. » read more »

12/16/13, True Confessions, or Blue Confessions

Posted on December 16, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Okay. I have a confession to make. And if you’re expecting something juicy and sexy, you’ll be disappointed. I indulged myself shockingly about 2 months ago, and it has taken me 2 months to confess it. But now, here I go.

Two years ago now, before Thanksgiving, I was looking to find a dog to travel with me. I had been looking for months, and needed a very small dog that I could take on and off planes, in a travel bag in the cabin.Minnie And eventually, after months of searching, true love happened. I fell in love with a TINY (less than one pound) white long haired Chihuahua that was the cutest thing I have ever seen. As an aside, I find that once adult, or perhaps as young adults, children take a hard line with their parents. My children’s mantra is “You don’t need that!” Oh. Whatever it may be. Another purse in a weird color, another pair of high heeled black shoes (a woman can never have too many pairs of black shoes, particularly high heels), some piece of furniture I decide I want….or even a person I want in my life, as friend, employee, or other. In their opinion, a parent is a loving service bureau, with a crisis hot line 24/7. We don’t really need a social life, even less a man if we’re single, besides that would only interfere with our availability. We need to be poised at the ready at all times, and anything you do that could distract from that poses a threat to them. So forget boyfriends, high heels, a silly dress you want desperately, friends in some cases, and other distractions. You are to be standing ready to leap, fully focused at all times. In the case of the adorable white chihuahua I fell in love with, only one daughter (of all my kids, and I have many) was supportive of my getting her. The others were all outraged. What do you need a dog for? The idea that a parent might be lonely, sad, need company, or need even a doggie pal to talk to after the kids grow up and leave is totally foreign to them. It’s not mean-spirited, I suspect, it just never occurs to them that you might be lonely or have needs too, other than just being a parent. MinnieIn any case, I bravely ignored their stern critical comments and disapproval, was grateful for the support of the one daughter, and fell totally in love with Minnie Mouse, my adorable white Chihuahua, who is now 2 years old, one of the great dog loves of my life, terrific company and super affectionate, and weighs 2 pounds full grown. She is totally pampered and loved, (has a ridiculous wardrobe of tiny pink sweaters) and makes me happy. She has kept me company on many a long, lonely night, and travels everywhere with me. (you can read all about her and my other dogs over the years in my current little gift book “Pure Joy”, which came out last month, and is a fun gift for any dog lover. I love that little book and am very proud of it. And it has 40 photos in it, of my dogs and my kids’ dogs, and some dogs I have given to friends).

Fast forward the film 2 years to this past October, almost exactly 2 years after I found Minnie in a pet shop in NY. I was doing an errand for one of my daughters, and on a whim, “for old times’ sake”, I stopped in at the same pet store, “just to look”. “Just to look” at anything usually turns out to be a lie. Somewhere in my heart of hearts, there must have been a tiny window open, just big enough for a new puppy. Oh oh. Big Uh oh!!! I’d been back to that pet store before, for supplies, and saw the usual cute puppies, none of whom snagged my heart. But they know me at that store, and just as they did with Minnie, two years before, they came out of the back room carrying a 14 oz., eight week old short haired “Blue” Chihuahua (a kind of steely blue gray, a very rare color). She was ridiculously small, and once again looked like a mouse. I held her for a few minutes, and whereas Minnie had been timid and shy, this puppy was adventuresome and brave and funny, and fearless once we set her down. And I started falling in love, while telling myself I didn’t need another dog, and that managing two dogs on my travels might be too much. I tried hard to cling to reason (with little success). I mentioned her to my children that night, who were unanimous this time. The consensus was that I was nuts, don’t even think about it. I got NO family support about the new puppy. None. I was told to forget it. And honestly, I tried. For three days the little blue gray chihuahua puppy haunted me, and not only did I have my children’s disapproval to deal with, but my guilt toward Minnie, who had become the princess in my life. How would she feel about it? I did the only possible thing, I lied to everyone, including Minnie. I went back and saw the puppy again before I left New York, with one of my daughters who was adamant. You don’t need her. DON’T do it. So I paid for the puppy in secret and told no one. She had to stay at the pet shop for a month because she was too young and too small to go home. I literally told no one what I had done. And surely not my kids. I didn’t even mention it to you on this blog. For a whole month, I said nothing, and then it was time to bring her home.Blue_3ABaby Blue Angel She didn’t have all of her vaccinations yet, so I couldn’t take her to France yet, and had to send her home to California, which required admitting my dark secret to a kind employee, who promised to take care of her until I came home. And because she is officially ‘blue”, I named her Baby Blue Angel. I should have called her Blue Secret. » read more »

Filed Under Dogs, Family, Kids | 10 Comments

12/9/13, Ladies’ Lunch

Posted on December 9, 2013

Hi Everyone,

I hope December is off to a good start for you, with the drumbeat of the holidays approaching, the things we love about them, and the things that concern us. I’m still frantically looking for last minute gifts for my kids. It was a lot easier when new bicycles and special dolls were the order of the day!!! I was remembering the other day that we used to hide all their gifts in the basement (gifts for 9 kids!!), and would haul them all up four flights of stairs to the top floor of our house, after the kids went to sleep on Christmas eve. My husband and I would spend hours, dragging everything upstairs, and then assembling toys, playhouses, bikes. It was a lonnnggggggggg night with very little sleep, and it seemed like only minutes after we finally got to bed, when they’d all be awake , squealing with amazement and delight. It was a lot of work, but SOOOO much fun!!! It’s hard to reproduce that kind of excitement and innocence once they’re adults. We play a game after dinner now on Christmas eve, where everyone brings some small silly gifts to the table (as ridiculous as possible), and people get to choose them (I think you have to guess who brought the gift and if you guess right you get to keep it and get another turn, but future guessers get to steal the gift away from you if they want it and win their turn). It involves choosing, and then stealing a gift from the others. And it gets funnier and funnier as people steal totally absurd gifts from each other. The prize objects last year were a Chewbacca backpack that my youngest son refused to give up, and a monster hat my youngest daughter loved and kept stealing back until she got to keep it. We all laughed a lot and loved it. You find yourself doing battle over some crazy object you would never have wanted otherwise. I provided a book on swear words in several languages, which was highly prized!!! The lucky winner was then able to insult all of us in Russian and Japanese. It’s a funny game one of my daughters introduced to us a few years ago, and it’s a big hit. Although everyone is grown up now, we still leave out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer (all of which disappears by morning), and I still write everyone a letter from Santa, which they find with their stocking in the morning. And last year Santa left me a letter too!! It’s sweet hanging onto our old traditions, no matter how grown up they are!!! It reminds us all of the simpler days when they were younger. » read more »

12/2/13, Love Notes

Posted on December 2, 2013

 

Hi Everyone,

Exciting, fun news to share with you. The album of songs I’ve been telling you about for two years, finally came out last week, on both iTunes and Amazon, where you can buy and download either individual songs or the album.  It’s called “Love Notes by Danielle Steel”. There are 10 songs on the album, 6 in English and 4 in French. I wrote the lyrics, and three composers wrote the music, there are 2 singers (an American woman and a French man), and we worked with 7 musicians and 4 arrangers. It is VERY different working as part of a team, and writing song lyrics, than working all by myself to write a book. This was really team collaboration!! I hope you love the songs. I think they’re really good, and I hope you do too!!! Each one tells a story, some are love songs, the singers have beautiful voices, and the composers and musicians did a great job.  We have worked on this album for two years. And I’m very excited that it’s out now, and I can’t wait for you to hear our songs. Here are the links:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/love-notes-by-danielle-steel/id734080554     

http://amazon.to/18bDw0T

I hope you enjoy “Love Notes”!!!!

love, danielle

Filed Under Music, Paris | 3 Comments

Thankful

Posted on November 25, 2013

Hi everyone,

Here they come…. the holidays…..Thanksgiving is the first important moment of the holiday season, and even for those who try to avoid holidays, we are reminded of the busy, crazy days ahead, and holidays are not always easy. They are so often bittersweet for so many of us. We are not only grateful for the friends and family at our table, but also aware of those who are no longer there and sorely missed. In our family, my late son Nick, and my ex-husband and children’s father, who passed away two years ago. Even with a crowded table, we feel their absence. And my three oldest children no longer join us for holidays, and either spend them with their in laws, family in other cities, or in their own homes establishing traditions of their own. So whereas once, there were 9 children at our table, their father even long after we divorced, as we remained very close, now I spend thanksgiving with my five youngest children—–a huge blessing to be sure, but half the number at our table only a few years ago. It is a change, and makes Thanksgiving bittersweet.

For many, holidays are spent alone, without family, or among friends, or in aching solitude. The holidays often point out what we don’t have in our lives. And there are many ways to spend a holiday like Thanksgiving. For many, serving others less fortunate takes the sting out of their loneliness as they forget themselves and give to others. For those without relatives to spend the holiday with, we form a family made up of friends (who are sometimes easier to get along with than our relatives, and even more fun!!). And for many, the holidays are a challenge that is hard to face. We all spend the holidays differently, and it helps to remember what we are grateful for. » read more »

Homage to Marilyn Monroe, Life as an Object

Posted on November 18, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Sober thoughts today. Marilyn Monroe once said that once you are famous, you experience “Life as an Object”. What she was saying is that when you become famous, and are a public person, you cease to become a person in other people’s minds, and anything goes, you can be treated as an object or a thing, and they forget that you are actually a real live human being at the other end. It’s an interesting comment, and I have found it to be true, over the many years that I have been well known.

The internet has de-personalized the connection between people. People exist in greater isolation, many work at home on their computers and no longer work at an office, where they see people every day and have to relate to them in a humane way. People do things like Facebook and chat rooms, where they collect thousands of ‘friends’, people they don’t know and will never meet, but they are connected through their computer in a ‘virtual’ way. People date on line or by text, they connect and disconnect, start ‘relationships’ and end them, all virtual and not real. Young women have talked to me about being proposed to by text or on line, and dumped just as quickly by text, with no human contact, no phone call, no sound of the other person’s voice. And at the most extreme end, kids and even some adults play video games which ‘kill’ the players virtually, and then shocking public crimes replicate those games and many real people die. I’m not of the old school that television corrupts our kids, or is the source of violence in America, but I do think that the lack of real human connection on these new ‘cyber’ opportunities has had a MAJOR impact on how people relate to each other, connect or don’t, how they behave, what they do, what they say, and they lose sight of the fact that there is a real live human being at the other end. It is something to think about. Sometimes it is better to simply pick up the phone and have a conversation, have an immediate exchange, rather than nuking someone and shooting off a sometimes vicious email in the heat of the moment, when all you have to do is write it and hit the Send button. No one hears the other person’s voice anymore, everything is conducted by email and text. » read more »

Book Signing

Posted on November 11, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Until today, I’ve done three book signings in my writing life. The first one was right after my first book was published, and I got booked into what looked like a big drug store (I was about 21 years old, and had just had published the book I wrote at 19). It was in Gilroy, California, at the time of the Garlic Festival (the smell of garlic was overwhelming as I signed), and the mayor at the time tried to kiss me. It was an interesting introduction into the world of book signings. And I was never very inclined to do book signings, and did no publicity at all for my books in those days. I spent my time writing, and taking care of my children. I never went on tour or on the road for my books. I didn’t really have time, and preferred to be at home writing, and with the kids. And I didn’t do interviews either then.(And still rarely do them now.)

My second book signing was in Chicago a while later. I can’t even remember how I got roped into it. There were two other authors scheduled to be signing books, at a book store, and somehow the people who arranged it, failed to mention that both of the other authors were very unusual and admirable people. One was a Viet Nam vet who had lost all four limbs, and had written a book about his experiences. The other was a fairly well known author whose courage I had admired, who had been severely abused and sequestered as a child, had survived it, and gone on to be a writer, and she too had suffered damage to her limbs. Not to sound disrespectful, but it was somewhat startling at the time, because both of these remarkable people signed their books with a pen they held in their teeth. And I sat between them, feeling odd and guilty because I could sign my books with a pen held in my hand. They were both interesting to talk to, but it was a very unusual experience. » read more »

Filed Under Books, Dogs | 26 Comments

Art Week in Paris

Posted on October 28, 2013

Every October, there is a big art fair in Paris, called the FIAC, which happens at the Grand Palais, a beautiful old glass structure where many big exhibits, special events, and fashion shows take place. In this case, galleries from all over Europe, and I think some from the States, come to exhibit, and it’s always fun and exciting to go and see it. I look forward to it every year, and am lucky enough to get a pass to take a look the day before the opening. The art there tends to be on the ‘edgy’ side, which isn’t always my cup of tea, although I love contemporary art. But it’s fun to see who is doing what, and what the trends are in advanced contemporary art. And there is a little bit of everything at the show. (My favorite thing at the fair—or my two favorites actually—-were a bronze piece with a silver finish, which was an exact replica of an Hermes Kelly handbag, which was terrific, but too steep for my budget. And my other favorite was a life-sized, lifelike statue of a boy/young man, which seemed like it was in resin. He was fully dressed, with a totally lifelike expression, and it would have been fun to have. But I didn’t ask the price). I managed to enjoy the entire show, and didn’t buy anything. But it was a fun experience, as always, seeing the show. » read more »

Special Events

Posted on October 21, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Since I share fashion shows and art openings with you, and events I go to, I thought I’d tell you about two remarkable events I attended recently. One was great fun, and absolutely adorable, and the other a more unusual evening.

On a recent trip through New York, to visit my daughters, my oldest daughter was in town to celebrate her five year old daughter’s birthday, and she had organized a luncheon at the American Girl Doll Store on Fifth Avenue. It is a haven for little girls, paradise on earth. They are among the most popular dolls now, and already were when my own daughters were small, not so long ago. Each doll has a story and a history, her own special look, with an assortment of hair and eye colors, different ethnicity, and they have elaborate wardrobes, furniture, cars, pets, kitchen appliances. A dizzying array of accessories for each doll. And the store is an overwhelming and exciting series of departments which sell the dolls, clothes, and all the stuff that goes with them. Some are even twins, and they have added some ‘babies’ to their repertoire. And amidst this extraordinary store all dedicated to these dolls is a restaurant where children and their parents shopping there can stop for lunch or have a birthday party. It’s been a while since my own kids were that small, and to be literally in a department store full of little girls clamoring for dolls, with dolls everywhere you look was amazing. The store is every little girl’s dream, and when we walked into the restaurant, there was a huge long table covered with dolls you could borrow, with little high chairs to seat them, in case you had forgotten to bring your own doll to lunch. It was an incredible scene. Dolls were being fed, talked to, dressed, undressed, there were several borrowed dolls at every table. We were mostly adults at our table, and only three children (two of them boys, who looked shell shocked to be surrounded by all the little girls and their dolls). Lunch was actually delicious, the birthday lunch was a huge success, and in a crazy way I loved it. It almost made me want to take a doll home, and as we left, my daughters and I threaded our way through three floors of ecstatic little girls picking out their new dolls and as much equipment for them as they could talk their parents into. Everyone was having fun. It was innocence at its best, and we all left smiling, and had a ball. » read more »

Filed Under Art, Kids, Music, Paris | 3 Comments