Archive for 2013

New Addition

Posted on October 14, 2013

Hi Everyone,

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.

love, danielle

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Scam Alert

Posted on October 7, 2013

Hi Everyone,

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 »

Tribal Living

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 »

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Persistence Wins The Prize

Posted on September 23, 2013

Hi Everyone,

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…..

love, danielle

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Remembering Nicky

Posted on September 16, 2013

nick-tuxAs 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! nick-black1

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 »

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Posted on September 9, 2013

Hi Everyone,

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 »

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Here Comes Minnie!!!

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 »

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Word Perfect

Posted on August 26, 2013

Hi Everyone,

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 »

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Vacation? What vacation? Where??

Posted on August 19, 2013

Hi Everyone,

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 »

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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 »

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