Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Summer Reads

We are Water, by Wally Lamb - I love him.  The characters are so strong and interesting...a ménage a tois if you will.  It has, love, divorce, kids, angst, fulfillment, history, lesbians, crime, race relations.  But it doesn't feel burdensome like a GREAT AMERICAN just feels readable and intense and interesting.  And I cared about the characters...

China Dolls by Lisa See...Meh.  I just felt like I was getting a history lesson on Japanese/Chinese relations in San Francisco in the 1930's.  These characters did not have depth or heart.  So sorry Ms. See...

My Life in Middlemarch - speaking of history lessons, I started this book.  Hey, I haven't read Middlemarch since I was in my 20's (which was just a few short hours ago...right?) but this did not make it come alive.  It was like a bad literary history class.  I stopped reading it!  Shocking, cuz I usually muddle through everything.  This? I felt like life was too short.

The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham...I had a bit of a time staying disciplined while reading this book.  I did a lot of shopping online at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale.  (This 12 dollar book only cost me $1,243 dollars to read.  But hey – I have some Stinky Cute shoes!!!  LOL!)

It's okay, his other stuff is better.  A nice story about two brothers and the young wife dying of cancer, and everyone trying to find themselves.  I've read better. (See above and below.)

Super Fun READ!!!  Download The Attachments by Rainbow Rowell immediately if not sooner!  Such a fun expostulatory novel, if the "letters" were all emails. It is such a fun, blast of a read...conversation between two young women at work about life and relationships...while all their emails are being monitored by the company IT security department.   Read combined with Dave Eggers and The Circle!  One is hilarious, the other is terrifying!  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Summer Reading Essentials

Back to School, Back to Madness, but this summer?  There were a few good reads…and a few great ones too.  (There were a few “mehs” as well…)

Super fun read:  The Madwoman in the Volvo by Sandra Tsing Loh.  Dear God - it is a crazy ride!  It's a memoir of menopause, leaving her 20 year marriage, raising two young daughters in her 40's (let's just say this part HIT HOME) and emotion.  Super fun read, set in LA so very relatable.  She is raw, real and out there.  I like that in a woman!

I just finished Summer House with Swimming Pool.  Probably the best book of the summer for me.  Well, top 5 for sure.  Gritty stuff, but soooo riveting.  Really explores the relationship between parents and those fucking teen kids!!!  Yikes... it unnerves me, but who can put this shit down? (By the same guy?  The Dinner. Another intense, disturbing story…)

Still Life with Bread was a quiet and sweet story about a 60 year old coming of age book.  Quite nice HOWEVER I still feel that her highest spot was One True Thing and for me? Nothing has ever hit that mark again.  She is a great writer and so readable.

Off Course by Michele Huneven.  She's a local LA writer and I love that.  Cressida is a grad student who can't finish her PhD (like I can't finish my second book!) and escapes to the mountains and a shitload of twenty something bad choices.  I couldn't put it down...

Early Decision - I LOVED this book.  A page turner and hilarious.  Maybe cuz it speaks to where I am in my life with Blondie being a sophomore and looking at colleges.  It is about a private college counselor helping a group of kids get their college apps together.  I know, sounds boring but IT IS SO GOOD!  And some of the parent characters? They hit a little close to home and it wasn't flattering - LOL!

Casebook by Mona Simpson - Love that it is set in LA and I love a good coming of age story.  This little boy is like Harriet the Spy when it comes to figuring out his parents and their divorce.  It's just delicious and wonderful.  I give it a 9.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I wrote this a few years ago, but I just read it while I was enjoying (napping) myself in the mountains.  Still true today...we are still classy trailer people.  But of course I never yell at my dogs or my children! #givemeonemomentspeaceplease #andquityouryapping

Connected . . .  Weird

It is effing hot in Palm Springs in the summer.  You think you understand, but unless it is blazing into the 110’s and above . . . uh, you don’t.  And don’t tell me it’s a dry heat either. Cuz Baby, that is a load of crap when it is 123 degrees in the shade!

I now understand why the summer population drops to like 204 people.  (But hey, you don’t need reservations to dine out!)

So we envision our “Vacation Getaway”:  You know, where we unload the car, breathe in the mountain air, and take the kids and the dogs for a walk?  Yeah, that’s the ticket. 

Hey, the stock market had taken a dive, so I thought that we’d be able to sweep in and pick up a lovely mountain cabin for mere chump change.  Baby, we are gonna be in like Flynn – I just KNOW it!

Turns out, I was the chump.

Oh yeah, you can pick a little something up. Of course it was a recently abandoned meth lab which needs “tender loving care” (i.e. calling the  Haz Mat Team). 

And did I mention the “Lake” thing? Turns out if you don’t buy a property with “Lake Rights” you can’t do shit in this place, except maybe stand somewhere and watch Other People boat, fish and swim. #longingly

So we gave up.

Until my husband read an ad in the local paper about a Mobile Home for sale. 

“Uh, I’m not getting a Trailer DUDE!” (Cuz you know, I’m snotty like that.)

Then he read me the price. Which INCLUDES Lake Rights. And a dock.

What? Holy Cow! Mecca Baby – Kids, get your coats, we’re going for a drive!

Then we got there.  The trailers were kinda close together, so I was worried about people hearing my constant yelling at my kids, you know, so they wouldn’t bother the neighbors. 

Or, yelling at the flipping dogs to shut up. So we’d be the people with the loud kids and the barking dogs and the harridan that was always YELLING at everyone.

Shit, all I needed was a cigarette hanging out of one side of my mouth while I yelled.  (I want you to know, I quit smoking cigarettes out of one side of my mouth DECADES ago!)

Then we find this one little trailer, all by itself, on a hill. And I had heart palpitations.

Cuz I could yell and my kids and my dogs and no one would call Social Services OR the SPCA.

But what really sold me? It had a little outside shower . . . I have some bizarre, unnatural love of bathing outdoors.  Claustrophobia mixed with a healthy dose of exhibitionism and there you go.   I was sold.

So we bought this little Trailer in the woods, bought a tempurpedic bed and lots of bright colored paint and carved out a little piece of nirvana.

And this weird thing has happened to us in this 700 square foot place. If you leave your shoes out,  it creates a Level 5 Hoarding situation. 

But oddly enough, we feel more connected as a family in this tiny little place. 

We can hear each other breathe, uh . . ., all the time.  We can hear the kids playing down in the creek.  We take walks together.

There is no Wii, but we did get Satellite. (I didn’t say I was a Saint, did I?) 

And there is fishing (May I just say: Thank God for the Kindle, cuz that fishing shit is BORING.)

There is something precious about being snowed in, and something magical about being out on the deck in the summer. 

And when we go back to our big ricocheting lives in Palm Springs, we yearn for our time together in the mountains.

Weird, right?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The key to a GREAT summer? Why it’s the same way one survives parenthood. Martinis.

Here’s a few summer ‘tini recipes for you…not that I partake in alcoholic beverages often…#lying

Warning:  I like ‘em a bit sweet.  If you don’t, hey, you can make a martini with vermouth, and throw in a couple of olives on your own.  You don’t need my help for that!

Want to be all cultured and cosmopolitan? (By “Cosmopolitan” I mean worldy…not the drink on Sex and the City.  But that would be a great summer cocktail too!)

French Martini                    
1 1/2 oz vodka           
1/4 oz Chambord
1/4 oz pineapple juice
Garnish with lemon twist

Using summer fruit…well, not really the fruit, but hey…peach schnapps counts as a serving of fruit, doesn’t it?

Peach Martini         
1 oz vodka      
1 oz peach schnapps
1 oz cranberry juice
Splash Orange Juice

This isn’t cocktail…it’s an event.  I’d keep typing but I might need a little “Orange Julius” break.
Orange Julius           
1/3 cup frozen Orange Juice
1/3 cup vanilla ice cream
3 oz vanilla vodka
1 1/2 oz Grand Marnier

This Cantaloupe Martini is super easy, has no cantaloupe in it and tastes amazing.  Whip up a pitcher and lay out a melon baller.  People will think you were muddling cantaloupes all day.  (Note to self:  don’t say “muddling cantaloupe” in a sentence ever again.)

Cantaloupe Martini
2 oz vodka
2 oz OJ
2 oz Marie Bizzard Watermelon liquor

This is my favorite summer drink…but watch it…it can be sweet.  Which is all good, right? #yummy

Pear Martini
1/2 cup pear vodka
1 tbsp  Disaronno
1 tbsp  simple syrup
2 tbsp 7 up
Splash lemon juice

We used to drink these at the St. Regis on Dana Point.  You know, while making pretend we were part of the Real Housewives of Orange County…(Note to self:  call for more botox immediately.)

Key Lime Martini
1.5 oz vanilla vodka
.5 oz simple syrup
1 oz lime juice
Splash of sweet and sour
Whipped cream on top
Shake all together and pour!!!
Cinnamon and sugar on the rim

Got a favorite?  Share it, PLEASE! Cuz Martini-Lovers gotta stick together!

Happy Cocktailing!  Love, Dee Dee

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Recovery Reading List

Hey, if you follow me on Twitter you may know (and if you don’t-- why the hell not?  Oh, you have a life, well, ok…) that I’ve been recovering from leg and foot surgery.  Hey, I wish it were a face lift, or something glamorous, or something that involved vacuuming out my middle section, but no, just trying to be able to walk. . .that pesky “one foot in front of the other” thing.
So I thought I’d give you my latest summary of books I’ve read.  This is not to be confused with a piece of literary criticism, more like the ravings of an overly isolated person who doesn’t have the mojo to reach for the remote.

Bridget Jones – Mad about The Boy by Helen Fielding
This was actually light and fun, yet not too light and fun.  Hey, Ms. Fielding makes me laugh out loud, what can I tell you?  I’m a sucker for that stuff about the calorie counts and the number of drinks.  What’s not to love about a tally of sex thoughts for the day.  Not that I identify.  You gotta love the English spelling of the word “Diarrhoea” used in conjunction with the word “erupted.”  Sorry, I’m a bit primal these days myself.
I give it an 8 out of 10 on the enjoyment and held-my-attention scale.  Just fun.  Beach or plane read.

The Circle by Dave Eggers. 
A 10.  I give this a 10.  Can I do an 11?
Hey, if you do follow me on Twitter or FB or use any kind of device, this book is riveting and harrowing at the same time.  It is the story of being “wired” going just a step too far. 
I’ve never read Dave Eggers before and now I think he is a mad genius.  And I’m slightly in love with him.  This book is big, bold, brave and I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN.  The protagonist is this 20-something, Google-type chick who loses herself in the world of “connectedness.”
It’s big, meaty and important.  It is Contemporary Literary Fiction. . .and it is good anyway!  Hah!  Read it, then tweet me!  Or nod to me, or something.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Oh Dear God: This book received the Mann Booker Prize for Literary Fiction. This always meant to me, “Ah, an important book for our times.”  Let me tell you, that is NOT a good recommendation today.  This book has been written up EVERYWHERE and raved about.
Well, I’m raving, but it ain’t good. 
850 pages.  And by the time I was finished and the “mystery” had been solved?  I no longer gave a shit about who did it and why.
Really, has no one heard of an editor?  (I do realize perhaps I need one here!)
The gold rush in New Zealand, or wherever the hell it takes place doesn’t interest me anyway, but 850 pages on it?  There isn’t enough character development to make me want to do this again. 
But please, read the book and let me know your opinion.  Or save yourself a week of your life and watch “Justified” and “House of Cards.“  But comment anyway, cuz I’m needy like that.
I give it a 5.  Cuz I made the effort.  And it was herculean.
The View from Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman
I do love an Elinor Lipman novel.  This was a lovely tale of two sisters, one married to a Bernie Madoff-type guy, the other a young widow, making it work in NY.  Add the lovely gay roommate and it is just a lovely, warm, engaging read.
I give it an 8.  You will enjoy or if not? Come over and step on my foot.  My bad foot.


The Virgins by Pamela Erens

This is a typical, angst-filled, coming-of-age in a boarding school tale of young love.  Hey, what’s not to love about THAT description???
Totally readable, if you like that kind of thing, which I do.  Not powerful, riveting or life changing-- just a read.
Can I tell you a secret?  When I looked at the cover of this book on my iPad, I couldn’t immediately remember the story, which could be a statement about me or the novel.  Take your pick.
I give it a 6.5.  (And a 2.7 for memorability.)
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Look, it’s the Eat, Love, Pray author, writing a long novel about botany.  And feminism. And a woman coming of age. . . and a woman who really can’t come of age. Because it’s set in the 1800s.   It is sad, long, readable, empowering.  Good to read in companion with Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  Cuz all you want to do is scream at this woman to leave the flipping moss alone and LIVE.  “LEAN IN, SISTER!”
But oddly enough despite the rather odd and unnatural obsession with moss? Quite readable.  So I give it an 8.
Ending on a high note (To be read in operatic singing style)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 
This is the book of the year.  The. Book. Of. The. Year.
Delicious, amazing, riveting, accessible – everything a truly great book should be.  You will look at the world (acts of terrorism, art, stolen art, relationships) differently.  And you should.  And you will love the ride, cuz this is some amazing writing.  And if you haven’t read her other book, Secret History, then I am giving you a double present-- cuz I’m awesome like that.
This is the incredible story of a boy’s journey and love and relationships and the love for a Mama.  It is so much more mind-bending than a typical “coming-of-age” story; it is a story for our times.  I love this protagonist.  You won’t forget this one, no matter what kind of memory issue you have on a daily basis.  Now, why am I standing in this room again?
I give it a flipping 12! Hah-- take that scale of 1 to 10.  Ms. Tartt – I love you.



Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chemical Peel 

So last year, I go to the waxing lady, whom I love.  Which is odd, cuz she does pour hot wax on my special girl parts then RIPSSS.  And once you aren't a firm 20-something anymore (OK, so you aren't a firm 40-something anymore either, dammit.  And by "you" I do mean ME!), anyhow when it RIPPSS all your business comes along for the ride.
So she keeps saying to me: “We need to give you a chemical peel”, which sounds okay when she is pulling wax off your special places, but sounds less appealing when she is actually finished.
She keeps bringing it up and I keep saying: “Sure! Maybe someday.”
Then I go to the dermatologist, where they have the gall to tell me I have a lot of sun damage to my skin.  I've never been more insulted. (The truth is irrelevant here.)
 You know Dr. Dermatologist, if you want my business you might start out by COMPLIMENTING me! And then tell me how much prettier I could be if I spent more money with you! Ha!
So to punish the dermatologist, I set an appointment for a chemical peel with the waxing lady instead.
I try to cancel the appointment three times.  She won't let me.
I come in and say: “You know what?  I’m really busy today – (even though it’s Saturday).  I've changed my mind.  But I'll still pay for the appointment.”
She forces me up on the table.  
I giggle nervously.
I lie down and she starts to put the "solution" on my face.  
I sit back up.  I say “I've given it a great deal of thought, but I'm thinking only one coat of that stuff is enough.”
She puts her hand on my forehead and yanks me back down. 
As she is wiping, and I am fanning (and kicking my legs, and taking hyperventilation-type deep breaths and humming in a high-pitched way that is making dogs three miles away start to howl) I am pretty sure I've made some type of grave error.
Finally she lets me get up and run around the room.
She proudly holds up a mirror to my face to show me the "great" results and then I really start to scream!
I am all white, and crispy and frosty.  Like I've been out in a snow drift and have actually lost several toes.
Uh...can I pay you double to undo this? Can we make it go away?  Wailing louder: Do you have a time machine cuz I really wish I hadn't done this!!!
So really?  I paid someone to pour acid on my face, like that poor man who was the director of the Bolshoi Ballet.  Except he was a victim of a horrible crime.  I, on the other hand, made an appointment and wrote a check for this.
Switching gears…and not to let a shopping opportunity pass me by no matter what else is happening, I stop by the hat store and pick up three hats. Because I’m like the guy in Phantom of the Opera, except without the flipping mask thingie.   Let’s just say, I’m hideous.
But little do I know, but the hats are really NOT going to be helping me much that week.
So I go home to my family.
And we wait.
And as we wait, I get browner and browner. 
And more swollen and more swollen.
I am so tight, and stiff and swollen that I can't eat.  (OK, this is a total lie.  I manage to eat, but it does crack all the skin around my mouth to do so. )
I am however, just barely able to get my lips around a glass.  Whether or not there is a martini in “said glass” hardly seems to be relevant.  (Or does it?)
We get up to go to church.  (Don't think me too pious.  It is Easter morning.)  I put on a cute frock, a scarf, a hat and mirrored sunglasses.  
My family sits in a separate pew.
Well, it is going to be a week of quiet time.  You know, quiet reflection, time out of the spotlight, time to really knock the work out, here at home.  
But what it really is?  
It is a time to be narcissistically self-obsessed.  I take 100 photos of myself (I can’t bear to use the term “selfie” here) and text them to my friends saying:  I'm so HIDEOUS!  Then I run to the mirror 50 times a day to find out what on earth is happening NOW.
What IS happening now you might ask?
After four days of regret and fear and loathing…
I have a skin like a baby’s bottom.  Hopefully minus the mess you usually find on said bottom.
Signed, Greta Garbo – For a week!