Posted on December 9, 2013
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 »
Posted on December 2, 2013
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:
I hope you enjoy “Love Notes”!!!!
Posted on November 25, 2013
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 »
Posted on November 18, 2013
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 »
Posted on November 11, 2013
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 »
Posted on November 4, 2013
There’s lots of excitement in my publishing life right now, on many fronts. Last week, on October 29, I had four books come out!! That’s a record even for me. Two paperbacks: “A Gift of Hope”, about my work on the streets with the homeless for eleven years, non-fiction. “The Sins of the Mother”, previously in hardcover, about a woman who built and runs a business empire, and has 4 adult children, who have issues with the past, and better come to understand their mother over time. It’s about the not always easy workings of a family, the decisions parents make, and how one views them with compassion as time goes on. I hope you like the book. Two hardcovers came out on the same day: a novel, “Winners”, about a young Olympic skier, an accident she has which changes her life, and how her fight to come back from it touches everyone around her, as each of their lives, and hers, are turned around in positive ways. I hope you’ll find it an inspiring book, and a great read. And I have a really fun book that just came out too. It’s a small non-fiction book that should make a perfect gift. It’s about the dogs in our family over the years, and some dog-owning advice, and there are some funny stories in it and practical tips too. My two pound longhaired white teacup Chihuahua Minnie is on the cover, and it’s called “Pure Joy”. I hope you think of it for all the dog lovers on your holiday list and in your life!!
And to top it all off, the song album I’ve been working on for two years is coming out on November 26. “Love Notes by Danielle Steel”. It’s coming out in CD, and will be on the Internet. I wrote the lyrics and worked with 3 talented composers and 2 wonderful singers (a man and a woman). So that’s a lot going on for me.
Today, on November 4th, I’ll be on Good Morning America to talk about the books. And I have an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week, and am doing a rare, rare for me book signing of the book about our dogs, at a friend’s store.
Now you can see why I’ve been busy!!! I hope you enjoy reading the books and listening to the music. Thank you for sharing all of this with me!!
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 »
Posted on October 21, 2013
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 »
Posted on October 14, 2013
I just wanted to share with you that I’ve done it again!!! Not a husband, not a baby……but three weeks ago in New York, I stopped at the place where I found Minnie, and fell in love with an 8 week old, 14 oz teacup Chihuahua puppy…..a short haired in an unusual color called “Blue”, which is kind of a dark steel gray color (no pun intended). I’ve wrestled with the idea for 3 weeks, not wanting to make the teacup Chihuahua I have now, Minnie, unhappy. I love her and don’t want her to be jealous or feel pushed out. My kids (those I admitted it to) said I was crazy (but they always do about another dog), and they said that travelling with two dogs would be too hard, and they could be right, but I’ll manage. I used to travel with 9 kids, so 2 Chihuahuas shouldn’t be impossible……and you know how love is….I picked her up yesterday, and she and Minnie seemed to like each other, and they played yesterday and this morning. So here I go again, I have a puppy in my life. She is now 11 weeks old, weighs a pound and a half. I think she’ll be a little bigger than Minnie (who weighs 2 lbs now as an adult). It’s a complication I don’t need to my otherwise well organized life, but as I’ve said before, love is complicated, life is complicated….and why not? So here we go. I will include a photo for you here. Right now, she is mouse-sized. I named her Baby Blue Angel, and we’ll probably call her Blue. So here she is.
Posted on October 7, 2013
I wanted to let you know today that I recently received an alert from a fan, through my publisher’s website, that someone out there is sending out one of those letters that we have all gotten by now. Usually they say that a friend is stuck in the Philippines, or Lebanon, or some exotic place, their wallet has been stolen, they can’t get home, and please wire them money somewhere. The first time I got a letter like that, I was alarmed for the friend who had allegedly sent it, couldn’t imagine how she had gotten where she was, what was she doing there alone, and why wasn’t her husband helping her get home. I called a mutual friend the next morning, who laughed at me. Apparently the whole world has received letters like that, and of course when I called the friend who was supposed to be in distress, she was happily at home, having breakfast with her husband, with her dogs cozily at her feet. And her email account had been hacked. Getting a letter like that was a new experience for me, and I have had several since, and pay no attention to them now. » read more »
Posted on September 30, 2013
Hi Everyone…..I’ve had theories on this subject for a long time, about the value and importance of our ‘tribes’, our original families, in order to share not just pearls of wisdom on important subjects, but all the little pieces of knowledge that our elders pick up along the way in life that apply to sickness, child rearing, childbirth, in the case of women, and undoubtedly things that men need to know as well, and learn from their fathers, brothers, and older relatives. More primal ‘tribes’ long before urban living always had wise men in the tribe, Medicine Men, or simply Elders, who imparted valuable information and were greatly respected for their sage advice. Families provide the same kind of traditions and information, about everything from cooking a traditional favorite meal, to simple health advice, to the best way to get from one place to another. And often, the old fashioned grandmotherly ‘recipes’ and solutions work best. Our ancestors relied on their relatives to tell them how to take care of their children, how to adapt to being a young married, or to learn a craft or a skill. But today, many of those skills and traditions have disappeared, and in many cases, our ‘tribes’ no longer exist. Some of that information now is provided by ‘experts’, how-to books, friends, even strangers, but in my opinion it’s not the same, and we have lost a very, very valuable source of comfort and information with the disbanding of our ‘tribes’, for many reasons. And our families and tribes may be annoying at times, but what they have to share with us is extremely valuable, and sometimes amounts to nothing more than a good dose of common sense. » read more »
Posted on September 23, 2013
I just wanted to share with you some excitement and delight I have had recently. A beloved, dear friend just had a baby, who is really nothing short of a miracle. My friend, the baby’s Mom, experienced 7 miscarriages and a very late stage stillbirth (only a few weeks before the due date), before this joyous event. She experienced all this heartbreak in less than 3 years, at an age when conception is less than likely, and a successful pregnancy even less so. And now here comes this gorgeous baby!!! Victory at last.
Successful pregnancy is a delicate matter at any age, and given a poor track record (even without one), despite all the help of modern science today, a happy ending just doesn’t always happen and isn’t always possible. I know of so many people who have tried endlessly to no avail, and many have had happy outcomes through other avenues, like adoption or surrogacy. Being determined doesn’t always get the result you want in pregnancy, no matter how hard you try, how desperately you want it, or how much money you pour into it. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work. And it’s wonderful when it does. Or when an alternate solution brings a happy result!!
What impressed me this time, with the friend in question, was how doggedly she pursued her dream, despite failure after failure and loss after loss, some real tragedy and heartbreak, and endless tears (hers, and the tears of those who love her, watching her go through it), in spite of everything, she kept trying again, determined to have it work. After a while, despite all my good wishes for her, the odds just seemed too overwhelming, and I couldn’t imagine a successful result. And interestingly, she herself had taken a break, and got pregnant naturally—–and this time it worked. As the pregnancy progressed, we all feared another disappointment for her. We were very reserved with our excitement and so was she, and all who know and love her are jubilant now over this victory. I am stunned with joy for her, and truly impressed that she never gave up, kept the faith no matter how hard it was and kept on going. I’m made of pretty sturdy stuff, and can be stubborn, but I would have given up long before this. I wouldn’t have had the courage to try this many times. But what a fantastic result for her, and reward for her enormous courage.
It’s a reminder and a lesson to me. As I said above, there are complicated elements in the issues of pregnancy, so one can’t generalize. If there is a serious impediment to pregnancy, it won’t work no matter how many times you try, and at some point, you have to be reasonable about it, and give up the dream, or find another way to put a baby in your life. Although I do have a few friends who were told there was no hope, and then had surprise babies (one of them even had four babies in 4 years, after being told she never would). But barring the medical issues, I can’t help but be impressed by this kind of courage and persistence. To go through 9 disappointments in order to achieve success is heroic and astounding.
My only example of persistence was in my early career, when I sold my first book, no one would touch my next five books (they still live in a box in my basement), and finally on my seventh book, my writing career slowly began to take off. I often remind young writers that if I had given up before #7, I would never have the career I have today. It’s something to think about. I just kept writing and trying and starting again, and at last it worked. The same is true of my friend with her brand new baby.
Wisdom should always rule the day, if there is some serious concrete reason to give up, sometimes one has to, and try to make one’s peace with it. But if not, persistence always wins the prize, as they say. There is a lot to be said for following your dream for as long and as far as you can. As Winston Churchill said “Never give up, Never, Never, Never, Never give up”. Wars have been won with that kind of determination, lives have been saved when it appeared impossible, fabulously successful careers have been built against all odds, improbable love stories have had happy endings…..there is something to be said for not giving up, no matter how daunting the circumstances or how bleak the outlook along the way. And for my friend with the brand new baby, Bravo!!!!….and may God bless you both…..
Posted on September 16, 2013
As many or most of you know, I lost a son, at 19, sixteen years ago (this week). Nick was bipolar all his life, and committed suicide, on his fourth attempt (he tried it the first time at 18, and succeeded 11 months later). And although the other term for bipolar is ‘manic-depressive’, most of the time, he didn’t seem like a depressed person, and when he wasn’t okay, he was more ‘manic’ than depressive. But above all, he was an amazingly fantastic kid, funny, multi-talented, creative, outrageous, nothing fazed him, and he did all the funny outrageous things that most of us wish we had the courage to do. (He politely but definitely leaned over to the restaurant table next to ours once, when he was about 16, had a spoonful of someone’s hot fudge sundae, and said “Wow, that is yummy!!”. And he was so funny and charming and surprising, with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen, that the people with the sundae just laughed and couldn’t get mad at him (although I nearly fell out of my chair with embarrassment when he did it!!). You could never predict what he would do next!
Hard as it is to believe, Nick would be 35 now. That seems ridiculous, because in my heart and head, and memory, he will be a teenager forever. And when he was in his teens, doctors would neither diagnose bi-polar, nor medicate it. The belief then was that you couldn’t diagnose bipolar disease until someone’s early twenties, and doctors refused medication for it before that. It was a major victory then when I got medication for him at 16, and considered way, way, way too early. The doctor who gave him the medication, finally, understood the problems better, as he was bipolar himself. And there are a great many educated, talented, successful people who are bipolar. And not everyone dies of bipolar disease, just like not everyone dies of cancer, but some do. And untreated, bipolar can be lethal. From the moment Nick was put on lithium at 16, everything in his life changed. He said he felt normal for the first time in his life, and he went to school and did well, was happy, and pursued a career in music. He had three happy years on the medication, until it stopped working as well for him, and he went off it a few times and ultimately died. Today, bipolar is diagnosed as early as age 3, and medicated at 4 or 5, perhaps younger. And the belief now is that if they are medicated early, they can actually lead a better, healthier life. But that was unheard of when Nick was that age, and simply not available to us. It’s hard to know, but possibly if he had been medicated earlier, he might still be alive today. It was probably already too late for Nick by the time we got medication for him at 16. I don’t think he was destined to be here long, and when I read his diaries afterwards, I discovered that he had been contemplating suicide since he was eleven, although one would never have suspected it, if you knew him. (I wrote a book about him afterwards, called “His Bright Light”)
That’s the sad part of the story. The happy part is that he was a happy, exuberant, wild funny kid. He could always make you laugh, and laughed a lot himself. He discovered hair dye at about 15, and worked his way through turquoise, royal blue, and green, before settling on black which suited him (better than green). I think his most distinctive personality trait was how funny he was. He was incredibly smart, had a genius IQ, and had a huge talent for music. He began singing with a band at 15, sang with another band at 17, and they were becoming very successful by the time he died. He was the lead singer and worked hard, and had gone on tour with his band three times. He was hugely talented and dedicated to singing, being a musician, and writing lyrics (which were actually good), and there are still CD’s of his work being sold, the band he achieved the most success with was Link 80. He sang and played punk rock and reggae. » read more »
Posted on September 9, 2013
In the silly trivia department, I spent a weekend with my kids recently, and while we were flipping through magazines, they came upon an article, in a very respectable magazine actually, about how much DJ’s make. My kids asked me to guess, with a smug look on their faces, and I threw out some numbers. No, they hooted, try again. So I did. So finally got to about $100,000, a year, thinking that was a lot, and the kids screamed with laughter. Try again…..I nearly fell out of my seat when they read the numbers off to me. The top DJ in the world (whose name they recognized and I didn’t) makes 20 million dollars a year!!! Yes, that was TWENTY MILLION. Now, wait a minute…how is that possible? They read down the list, and one of the other really successful ones makes thirteen million. I gulped. Holy Sh–!! That’s amazing!! And they don’t play every night. They are sought out for very special events obviously, and they work frequently but not all the time. I still can’t get over it, $20 million, that’s as much or more than some major rock stars, probably more than a lot of movie stars, and waaaaayyyyyy more than a lot of very respectable professions. That really seems like a modern day phenomenon that a DJ, who plays music at parties makes that kind of money. My kids weren’t surprised at all, and have known those figures for a while. » read more »
Posted on September 2, 2013
Yes, here she comes!!! Minnie is my white long haired, 2 pound teacup Chihuahua, named Minnie Mouse. She turned 2 years old last Sunday, and to me anyway, she is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!!
My children warned me when I got her that I’d better not turn into one of these weird women with a Chihuahua, but clearly I have. I’ve had a lot of dogs in my life, but some are extra special. I can think of 3 before Minnie whom I loved a lot, a pug dog named Jamie that I had as a child, a black miniature Brussels Griffon (they look like an Ewok) named Greta who had a fierce underbite (Brussels Griffs have squashed noses), and another Griffon (a fawn colored one) named Gracie……and now there’s Minnie. » read more »
Posted on August 26, 2013
I’m having fun with art again and just curated an art show we titled “Word Perfect”. I love art with words in it, and I curate an art show every August for a wonderful gallery in San Francisco, the Andrea Schwartz Gallery. Andrea and I have a ball working on the show together. She very generously invites me to do a show in her gallery every year, to pick whatever theme I like and whatever artists. And this is the second time we’ve done one with art that involves words.
We pick the theme for the show in January, and start looking at artists’ work. I usually use one or two of the artists I represented at my gallery (Andrea took on many of my artists when I closed my gallery), and we use some of her artists that she represents as well. It’s a group show, which includes several artists’ work. After we decide on the artists for whatever theme we choose, we contact them, and ask them to be in the show, and in April or May we pick the pieces we want to show from the work they have available that is appropriate for the show. They send us their work in July, and around the first of August, I spend a day hanging the show, and deciding where everything goes. It is always so exciting to see the work once it arrives, and then to see how it all looks together. It always thrilled me to hang a show when I had my own gallery, and I enjoy it just as much when I do it now at Andrea’s gallery. Two days after we hang it, she gives a party for the opening of the show, with music, wonderful hors d’oeuvres, and wine. Usually one or several reporters and/or art critics are there the night of the opening, her client list, some of my friends and children, and it’s really a fun event. » read more »
Posted on August 19, 2013
Although I always say that “I never work in the summer”, I seem to have been telling a white lie about that this year. In years past, I made it a hard and fast rule, that from the time my kids got out of school for the summer, until they went back to school around Labor Day, I didn’t work, so I could hang out with them, play and have all free time for them, and take some trips. And in the last ten years, once my older kids were married, I took a trip every year with my 5 youngest children and a friend for each. It’s always been so much fun, and what I live for all year. But as much as I hate to admit it, even to myself, times have changed. I feel very blessed that we still took a trip this year (the five youngest and I and their significant others or friends) and we had a great week together in the South of France. But with my youngest graduated from college a year ago, and ALL of my kids working (Wow!!), time together is harder to come by. They were wonderful again this year about spending time with me, with their limited amount of vacation from work, and I am so grateful to them for doing that. And they are all coming home for a long weekend for my birthday. But time is hard to come by now, they are pressured by work, have commitments in the other cities where they live, and I suddenly found myself with a lonnnnggggg summer on my hands, and too little to do. And the one thing I am terrible with is ‘down time’, and ‘relaxing’. Re-WHAT?? What was that word again? I putter around the house, do some projects, and within about 2 days, I am doing what our grandmothers used to call ‘fretting’, and the only thing I know how to do with time on my hands is work. I am a true work horse, and work always makes me happy. » read more »
Posted on August 12, 2013
Age. Wow. Such a tiny word for such a big issue and big subject. I always like the silly saying, “Age doesn’t matter unless you are a banana.” Clearly, that was written by someone who was fourteen years old.
I don’t know why but age has always bothered me, at every age, you’re either too young, or too old, or feel too old when you are young. I hate the numbers. I got off to an early start. I went to college at 15, married for the first time at 18, had my first child (and wrote my first book) at 19, and was always rushing to do something. And by now everyone must figure I’m 102, because I’ve been around for a long time. I actually wrote a book about the issue of age, called “Happy Birthday”, about 3 people turning 30,50 and 60 on the same day, and there is actually some funny and also pertinent stuff in that book.
I HATE landmark birthdays. In fact, I hate my birthdays altogether, and really shouldn’t. I got off to a bad start on birthdays. Mine is in the summer, when everyone was always on vacation, a perfect excuse for my parents not to celebrate it, postpone it, promise to do so later and never get around to it, because after the summer, everyone was too busy. So to me, as a little kid, birthdays spelled disappointment. As a result, I treated my children’s birthdays as MAJOR national events, with birthday parties, balloons, lots of gifts, themes, really fun parties, and I tried to give them the fabulous birthdays I never had.. And my children, in turn, are great to me on my birthday, everyone shows up and celebrates me (we won’t however mention some of the comments, like one of my daughters who looked at my cake with all the candles on it a few years ago and said, “Holy Sh–, Mom, it looks like a forest fire!!” Hmmm….never mind. They are very good to me on my birthday, and their father was too and made a big fuss about it, but I guess our childhoods mark us, and I never quite got that sad feeling about birthdays out of my head, and I always dread my birthdays. I remember thinking I was ancient at 25, practically dead and distraught at turning 30. 35 had me worried, 40 depressed me profoundly, and landmark ages ever since, or every birthday rattle me every year. And although I’m not that old by normal human standards, I look at my passport now and think WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING??? Whose age is that?? That can’t be me.
Age is such a damn complicated complex weird concept, and even now I’m not sure what it means. Every time I feel ancient, I look at photos of me 5 years ago (when I also felt ancient and wasn’t), and think “hmm….I looked okay then”, but at the time I felt as though I looked like King Tut. What the hell is that about? Why do we feel so old when we’re really not? And why do some people think birthdays are such a fabulous event? My ex-husband used to celebrate his for a week, with party after party after party with his friends. Another friend celebrates hers for a month. A month? Are you kidding, I can barely stand mine for a day. When nightfall comes on my birthday, I think Whew, that’s over with. When people say “Happy Birthday” I wince. Stupid really. We compare ourselves to people older or younger, wonder if we look better or worse. We run into people we went to school with and either chortle inwardly about how bad they look, relieved that we look better or run home wanting to cry because we think they look better and we look worse. And nowadays, 22 year old girls start using Botox on their faces, and far too many women rush to have face lifts, and ruin their looks and even make themselves look older with faces we no longer recognize. I am a profound coward and hate pain, and I’m way too chicken to ever have plastic surgery (or Botox), so I’m stuck with the face nature gives me at whatever age. I’d be too scared not to recognize myself in the mirror. But then I whine when I look at photographs, and worry that I look old. And (kind) people claim I don’t look my age, so whose age do I look? Grandma Moses? Or Brittney Spears? Neither one, I guess. I guess I just look like me. » read more »
Posted on August 5, 2013
As you all know, now and then I air my pet peeves, so here goes.
There is a phenomenon that I have encountered for a long time, years, which I always take personally, has irritated me considerably, and I figured that people just do to me to be annoying. I just discovered that I am not the only one it happens to, and I think it is something that only men do to only women, and not just to me.
It goes like this, I run into a man I know or meet at a dinner party for the first time in a long time. After hello, they open with, “So, are you still writing?” Hmmm…..this immediately suggests to me that they have not read the NY Times (bestseller list) in many years, the Wall Street Journal, or maybe they don’t read at all. Yes, I am STILL writing. What this does is that it immediately puts my writing into the category as a hobby. As in, are you still taking piano lessons, doing macrame, have a parrot? I don’t have a huge ego about my work, but let’s face it, for me it is a job. A job I love, and I have been doing it since I was 19 years old. I have been in the Guinness book of world records repeatedly for having a book on the bestseller list for more weeks consecutively than whoever. Yes, for Heaven’s sake, I am still writing. It’s my work, my job, how my family eats and went to college. People said that comment to me when I was 35. Now when they say it, I get even more insulted because I think they’re suggesting I must be too old to write, but it’s actually not about that. (And I’m not that old yet). The comment is an immediate put down. It is a way of suggesting that what I do is really not very important. Women NEVER ask me that question. But SOME men do. The men who do, I find, are VERY uncomfortable about my success at what I do, and VERY annoyed by it. The other really ridiculous comment is “You have an AGENT?” Of course I have an agent, I have written 130 books that are sold in 69 countries in 43 languages—they think maybe I write letters by hand and send them to publishers around the world to sell my books? Of course I have an agent (a fabulous one I love). I never say to guys, “So are you still a lawyer?…A doctor?…A brain surgeon?” They would think I’m nuts if I did. But men who are annoyed by women’s success in business have to find a way to put them down. And what better way to insult someone than minimize what they do, imply that it’s really insignificant, and inquire if they’re still doing it? Are you still bungee jumping off your mother’s roof?? Having contests to see how many grapes you can squeeze into your mouth?? (That was so much fun when I was about 8). I was actually a pogo stick champion when I was about 10, and no I am not doing that anymore. But YES, I AM STILL WRITING. In fact, I finished a book about an hour ago. It is SUCH a dumb question coming from an intelligent person. If you walk into a bookstore, open a newspaper, or whatever, you can see that I am ‘still’ writing. The worst form of that was at a dinner party I went to years ago. I sat down, I smiled at the man next to me and I’m a shy person, and he barked at me, “Who do you think you are?” Was that a trick question? No it was a man who was so uptight about what I’ve accomplished that he needed to be insulting before he even met me, to make himself feel better. The other comment men like to make is another winner “My maid just loves your books”. Really, well thank God for her. There are LOTS of men who DON’T have an issue with women being successful in business, but unfortunately some who do. I love talking to men who aren’t threatened by women who work, do it well, and do well at it. It’s a pleasure to talk to them. But the ones with a chip on their shoulder really are a bore and not much fun. » read more »
Posted on July 29, 2013
When my family and I go on vacation, we tend to become sedentary, and stay put where we are. We don’t seem to be the kind of people who explore the area, take helicopter rides over volcanoes, or even go out to dinner to local restaurants. Once we plant ourselves somewhere for our family vacation, and there are a lot of us, adventure trips aren’t part of the plan. We lie in the sun all day, there is lots of swimming, occasionally some fishing if we’re on a boat, and evenings together wherever we are staying, and everyone seems happy that way. And when we were on a boat, we left the boat at night once during a trip for dinner off the boat. But most of the time, the kids and I were happy at anchor somewhere (off Corsica or Sardinia, or tied up at some rocks outside the tiny port of Portofino), and not even going into port. And we usually had one nightclub adventure per trip, but we haven’t done that in a few years. And this year, we had a lot of fun at night playing a game called “Catch Phrase”, which you pass around like a hot potato, playing what looks like Charades, with a timer and a buzzer to add tension to the game as you try to describe the ‘phrase’ on the screen without actually saying the words. In our case, it involves a lot of screaming, shrieking, and laughing, and the family is divided into two teams. I love the game!! We also play a lot Scrabble, some cards and liar’s dice. We read in the sun (they read other people’s books, not mine, it’s hard to be a hero on your own turf), and have lunch and dinner together every day. Our vacations involve my five younger children, each brings a friend or significant other. My three older married children make their own plans and have young children. And the younger five and I + their 5 friends or SO’s spend a week together in France or Italy, and have since they were born. The older ones were part of the group until they married a few years ago and had their own kids, and enjoy doing different things now with their own families. So there are eleven or twelve of us now on our family vacation every summer. And we love being lazy, relaxing, and having fun together. And as we do every summer, we decided to go out for one dinner, and stayed comfortably at our hotel the rest of the time. (We’re a big group to move around, so we do very little moving during our vacation week). » read more »