Dirty Little Secret: We are all a mess! #NotWriting

I wrote this to a friend this morning who is going through a rough time and trying to meet a writing deadline. If you're a published author, any crisis that hits you will come right as you're on deadline. It's just the way things work.

I promised myself that I would write three books this year, but then, my ex moved away and it's just my daughter and me (and the dog) in an apartment. It's a small space. Elle is a big personality. My dog is obnoxious. But even with all that going on, it's not what keeps me from writing.

It's what my daughter said to me that keeps me from writing. "Mom, you're a mess. You're not present when people are talking to you and you make them feel bad."


That is soul-crushing to me. I'm that person that people tell their problems to. That people ask for directions and think I work everywhere. I'm not the person who makes you feel bad about yourself. I know we are all a mess and we are all works in progress, but I've always prided myself on being the person who can accept people where they are without judgment. I may make fun of it, but I will always be there at the same time.

Now to hear that I'm no longer that person (and my daughter confirmed this present me is not the real me.) Well, it's time to get busy and do something about it, you know? My daughter is leaving the state in June and I will be on my own. So it's now or never. It's time to find that inner sparkly person who makes people feel GOOD about themselves. So the books may have to wait until SHE returns. Because who wants a book written by people who make others feel bad? Show of hands?

I love #NotCamping

My family camps. I do not. My mom says that I loved to camp and get dirty as a child, but that remains a mythical story that cannot be proven.

I can't take credit for the saying. That belongs to Anne Taintor -- that saying is on my makeup bag. But I can take credit for finding a multitude of reasons why I do not camp. My favorite being that Bigfoot lives in the woods.


My daughter, who loves to camp and horse pack, always tells me there is no such thing as Bigfoot. But you know, she camps where Bigfoot lives -- or at least he vacations there, so one day she might have a close encounter. I'm not taking any chances.

While she was in Colorado last week, she got me a new Bigfoot shirt. I find it interesting that I have a collection now. Jane Austen T's and Bigfoot. That's an odd combination. This particular shirt glows in the dark -- which almost makes me want to wear it while I camp. Almost.


At the very least, I will have fun walking the dog at night. I really wanted the men's boxer shorts that read, "Sascrotch" to sleep in, but her boyfriend thought it was tacky. Um, have we met?

#Cats the Musical

I love plays. I love musicals. But I have never seen "Cats" which I think is supposedly one of the longest-running Broadway plays. My friend had an extra ticket last night, so I got an invite.

My friend and I are both college-educated. We love the arts. We had no idea what this play was about.


So we watch it until intermission and then we have to Google what the heck we are watching. We know it's a story about...CATS...but we have no idea why we're being introduced to them. We have a faint idea. The cats are worshiping some false god that comes out with this special moon and someone is going to get chosen. But we thought there must be more. We were wrong.

It's based on a story by T.S. Eliot "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." It still seems like a flimsy excuse for a storyline to run on Broadway all those years. But the talent!! The talent that "Cats" requires is utterly amazing. The voices. The dances. The personalities. I mean, I get it. It's a showcase for people who have talent beyond comprehension. And this is in San Jose.

Anyway, I really loved the show even if I started out ignorant. I wish I was capable of moving even as well as old Grizabella. Dang, what a voice on this woman (Keri Rene Fuller.) And the dancing of Victoria (Caitlin Bond) and Mistoffelees (Tion Gaston) was beyond my comprehension that people can move like this.

"Cats" gets a bad rap, but if you want to know how tired and ill-working your body/voice are, go see it. Next season they're playing my favorite -- Les Mis. I could watch that musical over and over again. Unless it stars a certain Gladiator, then count me out.

Movies: Generation Lost

With the Oscars coming up this week, I was excited to talk movies with my mini-me. Alyssa is my son's fiancee. She's six feet tall, so she is not really a mini-me, but we are two peas in a pod. We think alike. We eat alike. We're semi high-maintenance alike. So my heart broke a little when she said she wasn't really a movie fan.


It breaks my heart that this generation doesn't seem to have the attention span to watch movies. Ask them. They haven't seen "Casablanca" -- well my kids have because I forced them to the theater for the 70th anniversary. They haven't seen "Gone with the Wind" -- in fact, most of them have never even HEARD of it. "The Godfather" "Citizen Kane" "Roman Holiday" "Psycho" "From Here to Eternity" -- my very favorite, "Notorious."

But it's not just the classics. They haven't seen the newer classics. They haven't seen "Sixteen Candles"
"When Harry Met Sally"
"Sleepless in Seattle"
"Moonstuck" -- a perfect screenplay!
"Bridget Jones's Diary"
"As Good as it Gets" -- everyone should know if their life was noodle salad or not!!

I want to cradle this generation, and force them to sit down and watch all these fantastic movies -- and no one wants to. Since I raised Scarlett O'Hara, it particularly kills me that Elle won't watch "Gone with the Wind."


If you could share one movie with the next generation, what would it be?

I can't say I'm excited about the Oscars this year -- or movies in general lately, but I did love "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Romanticizing Roma! "In Love With An Angel"

I love Rome. I watched an Italian movie last night called "In Love with an Angel." It took place in front of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. (Also called Hadrian's Castle -- as Hadrian and his family are buried there.) This is the bridge where they sell the fake Burberry handbags. (You don't want to buy one, Italian customs do not take kindly to bad leather products.)


This is a still from the movie and this is my shot. Few more people in it.


The movie was cute. The angel in the movie looked just like my Uncle Tommy, God rest his soul. The hero is someone I think we need to import for our own rom-coms. Are you listening Hollywood?

They also filmed the meet-cute scenes down here by the river under the angel bridge.


Isn't it so stunning?


I'm just going to say that this picture does not do Raul justice. Now I want to go back to Rome. The history-loving son I want to take has a new engineering job and won't have vacation for a while. My dad says he will go again with me, but I can't pin him down. So I may be heading out on my own next year. I don't want to do a tour. I want to stay in Rome this time and just immerse myself in it. My last child leaves in June and wouldn't it be so romantic to write a book in Rome? (Answer: Yes, yes it would.)

#RHOBH Season 9 has begun!

I had a terrible week last week. Years of drama are finally ending for me, so what could be more exciting than to tune into someone else's drama? Something I don't have to clean up and I am not responsible for? Nothing, I tell you. I honestly think this cast of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" is the most perfect casting we've seen in a franchise. I love the addition of Charlie Sheen's ex Denise Richards. I hate referring to her that way because she is so much bigger and better than him, but when Teddi Mellencamp said "Winning!" at Kyle's pool party, it was a great reminder of how small their world really is.


(Couldn't find a season 9 pic, sorry!)

In every franchise there are people you love to hate (Dorit is that person for me) and those you just really can't stand and want them to go away (this would be Danielle for me on RHONJ.) I love Dorit's and her fake accent and false wealthy image. This season opens up with some apparent drama bout Dorit getting a puppy at Vanderpump Dogs and it some how ends up at a kill shelter. This battle royale has apparently been in the news, but I haven't heard of it before this week's episode. But I am not a fan of Lisa Vanderpump in general, so I imagine this is going to go to dark depths because everyone gets in the act.

Now there are LVP loyalists who always say that people are coming for Lisa because she is the queen. I admit that. Lisa is the queen and her life is amazing, but I would never, I repeat NEVER, want to cross that woman. She is not going down without a fight -- nor without trying to destroy each and every one of her accusers. Which will make a fantastic season and a very depressing reality. Why can't LVP appreciate Kyle? Kyle has always had her back even when forced to support her sister who was an addict.

Anyway, I love to listen to my podcast "Watch What Crappens" when I walk the dog and they knew much more about this battle than I did. But I will say, I hope Lisa Rinna is redeemed. I love her! She is my kind of crazy. Anyone watching? Oh, caveat -- "Watch What Crappens" is truly for those who love the cult of Bravo and they can get a little racy. But I will wear my earpods and laugh out loud while walking the dog. Which serves my introverted nature because no one coming near my crazy self!

It's going to be an explosive season.

Writer Discussions: Enneagrams

My friends and I have random discussions throughout the day to counteract being alone all day. Writing is a lonely job so we must solve the world's problems through email. Today we are discussing enneagrams. Admittedly, I don't really get this like I get the Myers-Briggs (MTBI)

So my friend is a 4 -- the individualist. They are the Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental. Which means her "dark side" is being overly dramatic and a drama queen. She says that she doesn't allow herself to really go there. I'm totally a drama queen and I own it. But that's oddly not my dark side. I'm wondering if I took the test wrong.

I'm a 2 -- The Helper: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive -- so my dark side is getting ticked I'm not being appreciated enough for all I do. I will own that. I like being in the background and being the support person for others.

I still think the MTBI types type me better. I'm an INFP, which again, I call the "suicidal poet" because so many of them have offed themselves. That's a happy thought, isn't it?

Anyway, this is what writes waste their time on when they should be writing. Do you feel strongly about one test or the other? Do you not care at all? You can take your enneagram test here. It takes forever and I think mine might be wrong. I am a background helper person, but I can be pretty temperamental. I wish I had more time to be self-absorbed.


Dolly Parton is Queen! #GRAMMYs

If you didn't watch the Grammys, you missed the most amazing tribute to Dolly Parton. Okay, Katy Perry was not a highlight, but Kacey Musgraves looking like a '70's country legend whose-man-did-her-wrong was epic. Then, we had Miley Cyrus sing Jolene with her godmother Dolly. Dang, you just forget how talented Miley is. What an amazing voice.


The tribute continued with Maren Morris and finally, Little Big Town. Reminding us all that Dolly is a queen and music is not completely dead. They all sang, "Nine to Five" which thankfully, Dolly took the reins. Now I want to watch the movie again. Dolly needs to make an appearance on "Grace and Frankie" and get the girls back together. That show isn't exactly her jam.

I have to admit to forwarding through a bunch of people I had no idea who they were.

Dan and Shay sang my song, "When I Taste Tequila." I love that song. But have you ever noticed how many country songs are about alcohol right now? What are they doing down there in the south? "Pour Me" is another song I like right now. "I Can Buy My Own Drinks" is not my favorite, but it's out now too. "Whiskey Glasses" and "Last Shot" also. I wonder if in a few years, there will be an AA theme.

I'm glad my daughter listens to country music. I just wish she wouldn't troll me with a constant playlist of John Denver. Did you watch the Grammys? What was your high point? Diana Ross slaying that song in that scarlet gown was amazing. 75 years' old! I cannot even fathom. She showed the youngins how it's done.



I'm not a big fan of that song, "Shallows" from "A Star is Born" but it won for best collaboration so what do I know?

Fish are like engineers...

My daughter has a demasoni cichlid -- it's currently the only fish in her tank. She had a great feeder goldfish named Beaver, but after a year, he died. I was so sad. For a nickel, that fish had the best personality. Enter Fonzi. Fonzi came with a smaller cichlid and Elle knew this was questionable. Cichlids have to be the same size or the bigger one will attack and eat the other. But she thought they were relatively close in size and she brought them both home. I liked the other fish better -- but I don't know if he ever had a name. Just thought he was prettier.


But soon, his tail started to disappear. Ie., Fonzi was chasing him and munching on it. The stress for the other fish was too much and Elle took him back. This morning I said, it was too bad Fonzi was all alone, but it was his own fault. And Elle said, "Fish don't get lonely. They're like the engineers of the animal world."

I think engineers do get lonely. Or they wouldn't all drive Teslas. But that's just my take.

Lesson learned: Growing up in Silicon Valley has its consequences.


The New #KateSpade

Kate Spade has a relatively new line launched by her husband and his brother David. The line is named for her daughter, Frances Valentine. Her niece, Rachel Brosnahan, who stars on handbag/designer heaven show "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is the face of the new campaign.

I took this picture in the dentist's office yesterday from "People" -- always classy, never trashy. So the colors do not do the line justice. I'm so glad to see that Kate's name will again be associated with happy, bright colors, polka dots, and quality bags.


The line is pretty affordable for a designer bag and offers the old school Kate Spade quality. I'm a fan. I miss Kate's whimsical, bright, happy style. It's such a shame that Kate made so many people happy with her expression of joy and couldn't experience it for herself. Depression is a terrible ordeal. But I want to remember Kate for the joy she brought me. I think her cherry Sam bag was my first designer bag.


Frances Valentine is available at Nordstrom.