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Let's Make a Deal!

My girlfriend calls my purse the Let’s Make a Deal purse. Remember that game show? Host Monty Hall would go into the audience filled with people dressed in ridiculous costumes like life-size lobsters and gigantic fuzzy dice and lugging enormous bags full of nonsense, and ask for the most unlikely item. Invariably at least one woman would have it along: the tube sock, the box of Creamettes macaroni and cheese, a jock strap. That woman would have been me.

Purses and me have a long and tortured history. I take my crap-toting very seriously, and over time, as I went from single to married to momdom, my purse-content hauling has ebbed and flowed with the years and demands of life. There were times when my shoulders were slumped from the weight of my purse like a deeply discouraged human being in line at the soup kitchen. And other times when life’s burdens seemed to lift from my very shoulders with the elimination of the vast stash of junk I ditched from my pocketbook. Although really, let’s be honest. The word “pocketbook” suggests petite, and rarely has petite been in the vocabulary of my purse world.

I’ll tell you a great one, one of my purse-hauling high points (well, really, a low point), from back in my single-but-seriously-dating phase. Wayyyy long ago. Standing in line with my teensy-weensy single girl purse at this totally hip-happenin’ Georgetown bar. Had to rifle through the mini-sack to find my i.d. And while I rifled, what falls out onto the ground, in front of the bouncer, the boyfriend, the line of desperate bar-goers (oh, and Val Plame. Remember her? Spy girl? I knew her from college and she happened to be in line behind me that night at the bar)? The Sponge.

Yes, one of those less-than shining moments in life, when it seems as if everything freezes in place but for you. Everyone is looking at you, at your ever-so-sad contraceptive of the 80’s, there, front and center on the cigarette-butt-strewn-discarded-chewing-gum-encrusted pavement, symbolic of nights past at that very bar, no doubt, and evidence of intent for all to see. Thank goodness for low illumination inside bars, as I was able to slink away into the cavernous darkness once past the chuckling bouncer without too much permanent destruction of my pristine reputation, able to mercifully hide my beet-red countenance like a slug hiding beneath a rock.

Alas, soon enough, my Sponge days were replaced with diapers, wipes, ointment, goldfish, animal crackers, juice boxes, baby food and masking tape (no, not to tape over their mouths; masking tape is the best-kept secret of moms the world-over: give your kids some masking tape and all is right with the world): The ingredients of the mom-purse. Eventually, liberation came. Three kids, diaper free. No more needing to lug the necessities. I saw my purse as a statement of my life and chose to schlep around as little as humanly possible. It lasted for a few humble months. My mini-purses groaned at the snaps and popped open at inopportune moments, spilling the modest contents (mercifully Sponge-free, however). Soon I realized I needed to size up my purse, especially with the onset of the electronics era: cell phones, iPods, Palm Pilots and the like. I’d taken the extreme approach and it was indeed most impractical. Hence I started increasing my purse size, bit by bit, as I added electronic paraphernalia. And then one day I realized my purse had taken over. Nearly as large as it was when it served as diaper bag-cum-survival satchel. Only now it’s all full of my what-ifs. What if I need a book to read? What if I am stuck shopping at the grocery store and can’t stand the Muzak and absolutely have to listen to that new song by Cake on my iPod? What if I’m exposed to the sun for too long and need that SPF 45 lip balm? What if I’m suddenly thrust into a book store at which my book is in stock and I simply have to sign book stock? And certainly, I have to have the hot-pink sharpie marker. The “signed by author” sticker. The Sleeping with Ward Cleaver book marks: all accoutrements of one’s booksigning venture. Yep, it’s all in there. And then some.

The biggest problem is that my current purse is a disastrous compartment-free monstrosity that is a famished creature ingesting whatever goes in, never to be seen again. When I need to find my phone, my keys, all of those necessities of life? Nada. I dig and dig and curse and dig and eventually, sure, I find the stuff. But often it’s stuck onto a piece of overheated chewing gum that has dislodged from its secure wrapper. It’s tangled in the cord from that unravelled tampon. It’s hidden beneath the tissue I cried into at my son’s graduation.

Nothing is ever where I put it and is always where I least expect it. Truth is, there’s not a purse in existence with enough compartments to contain my disorganization. But a few pockets would provide needed salvation. And once I get past this writing career, I’m fixing to venture into functional pocketbook design (note, I didn’t say purse. I’m aiming for reasonable sizing). I know I’m not the only gal out there frustrated with the lack of managerial-orientated purses. This, of course, is on my to-do list. Right after I finish my WIP. And revisions, and the seven freelance deadlines. And that screenplay I was gonna work on. And then once the house gets cleaned, the dishes washed, the laundry done. You get the idea. Until then, here’s what I deal with. It’s not a pretty sight. It’s frustrating and non-functional. But I have to admit, the leather is really soft and that’s a big plus. What can I say? I’m a tactile kinda gal.

Okay, so here’s a run-down of my purse contents (and forgive the spacing as I can’t get it single-spaced!):

•cell phone 

•key chain (pared down from about 15 unidentifiable keys to about 3)

•a DVD of Sicily (need to return to my Italian teacher)

•a copy of Sleeping with Ward Cleaver (you never know when you’ll need it!)

•The book I’m reading

•The book I’ll read after I finish the book I’m reading

•Save the Cat, a fabulous book on screenwriting


•business cards

•tampons (I think there are about 12 in various states of undress)

•chewing gum (probably 3 packs, in various states of undress as well)

•lip stick (3)

•lip gloss (2)

•tissues (probably 7 or 8, used and unused, but all fuzzy with wear and tear)

•the tattered ziploc bag full of discount cards (you know, buy 10 •cappuccinos and get one free, that sort of nonsense)

•pens, pens and more pens

•my book-signing stash (sharpie, etc)

•tic tacs (at least 3 half-empty containers, all missing in the bowels of the bag)



•Mojo sweet and salty trail mix bar, crushed beyond recognition

•reading glasses (and accompanying bulky case)

•sunglasses (and accompanying bulky case)

•Altoids raspberry sours (way better than cough drops)

•post-it notes

•credit card receipts, mostly for gas

•emery boards (3)



•Mojo peanut butter and pretzel bar, looks as if run over by 18-•wheeler on very hot pavement

•sewing project (needed to get supplies next time I’m near fabric store)

•notes, notes of notes, and yet more notes

•to-do lists

•one very fat overstuffed wallet (stuffed with pictures, receipts and nonsense, never any money)

Seeing, my friends, is believing:

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this sad little moment of disorganization at its finest. If only you could send <em>your</em> purse pictures for <em>me</em> to laugh at!

Categories: News, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Welcome Guest Author Brenda Janowitz

I’d like to give a big New Year’s welcome to Brenda Janowitz, whose latest novel, Jack with a Twist, I can’t wait to read on my upcoming vacation! 

Brenda is a New York attorney with an interesting background, so be sure to check out her website and blog for more. Clearly she scored the hat trick with her looks, brains and talent ;-) ! So let’s get to it with Brenda:
Tell me a little about your book.
JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school) is the story of Manhattan attorney Brooke Miller, who plans the wedding of her dreams, all while litigating the biggest case of her career…. which just so happens to be against her perfect fiancé.  Hilarity ensues.  Really.  Marian Keyes called it “a funny, sweet romance” and Carole Matthews said it was “[a]nother fun-filled page-turner from Brenda.”  Ironically, I wrote JACK before even getting engaged myself!
What got you writing in the genre in which you write.
I’ve always been a writer. In fact, that’s the reason why I became a lawyer in the first place—trying to find a career where I could write full time. But I’ve always had a real love for fiction, and I’d find myself practicing law and thinking about these fictional stories that I wanted to write. When I was invited to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding, my life slowly but surely began to resemble some of my favorite chick lit novels, and I said to myself, ‘I’ve just gotta start writing this stuff down…’
Favorite thing about being a writer?  Least favorite thing about being a writer?
For me, writing the book is the best part.  I had no idea that once I finished writing my book, that the real work would then begin.  As you’re writing your first novel, you tend to think that that’s the hard part—that once you finish, fame and riches await. 
In reality, it’s a long road to getting your grand opus published, and there’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears involved with getting it onto book shelves and then marketing it.
Presumably, fame and riches will be there at some point, but it’s a hard long road to get there!
What is the most interesting thing that’s happened to you since becoming a published author? 
Speaking at conferences is always a blast for me.  It’s so great to be a part of something for a weekend, or even a day.  Walking around the hallways, it’s always fun when people you’ve never met before know your name.
There have been quite a few crazy stories from all of the speaking engagements I do.  I’ll tell you later.  J
What’s your favorite type of pie?
I’m a big fan of basics, so for me, it would be a toss up between apple and blueberry pie.  I like it hot, and then I’d throw a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and you just can’t go wrong!
Brenda is the author of JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school) and SCOT ON THE ROCKS (How I survived my ex-boyfriend’s wedding with my dignity ever so slightly intact), as well as the short story BASED ON A TRUE STORY.  You can learn more about Brenda at and check out her blog at

Categories: News, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Christmases Past (or should I say "Passed"?)

Christmas time is as much about smells as experiences: the minty aroma of a just-licked candy cane, boughs of pine wafting their wintery bouquet throughout the house, cinnamon sticks perfuming the pot of warm apple cider that simmers on the stove. No doubt about it, smells can evoke strong memories of Christmases past.

For me, the smells of Christmas past aren’t quite so idealized, however. In fact, there’s one distinctive odor that always harkens me back to Christmases of yore, but this odor is not one you’d like to capture in a bottle for memories’ sake. You see, when I recall the Christmas Days of my youth, burnished foremost into my brain are recollections of being trapped in the back seat of our Custom Cruiser station wagon en route to my grandparents’ house, with a perpetually-flatulent brother poised to strike every 5 minutes for the duration of the 2-hour drive.

I was always stuck next to him in the middle seat—you remember, the one with the hump at your feet, which forced you to keep your knees jammed up against your chin, so that every pothole that the car hit caused cranial injuries. It was one of those older cars, where you had to crank the window down by hand. Being western Pennsylvania, it was bitterly cold most Christmases. Which meant that if said gaseous brother was courteous enough to actually lower the window after stinking up the car, he was also inclined out of spite to keep it down until my tears froze on my face from the lashing Siberian wind.

There was no chance of getting that window back up until dad—busy with the job of chain-smoking Viceroy 100’s up front–pulled out the big guns and threatened my brother with one of those hairbrush spankings we all feared. What with the fraternal rotten egg smell, the enveloping fug of smoky gray haze pouring forth from dad’s cancer sticks, and the painfully depressing sounds of dad’s favorite, the Montavani String Orchestra, butchering Christmas tunes on our tinny-sounding AM-only radio, I was assured that the ghosts of Christmases past were doomed to haunt me well into adulthood.

Year in, year out, Christmas day was the same. First, tear through Santa’s bountiful gifts. Next, dress up in our Sunday best for what felt like an eternity of solemn fidgeting at church. Then pile into the car for our annual Christmas Day dilemma: stay warm, while silently being sickened by the toxic flow of fetid odors emanating from my brother’s seat, or suffer the Dr. Zhivago-like frigid chill of driving across the tundra to Altoona, PA, with all the windows open. Once we got there, it was nothing but fun, but the torture we had to endure to get to our destination was almost more than I could bear. By the time we arrived, our olfactory systems had endured such trauma we could no longer smell the Christmas turkey or even the wafting aroma of my grandmother’s freshly-baked pies.

Years of intensive olfactory therapy have allowed me to laugh at those stinky treks to my grandparents’ house each Christmas. I do feel a little sorry for my brother’s wife and kids, who eventually became the unwitting victims of his gaseous fury.

Imagine my delight when I learned recently that generations of siblings to come will be spared the gruesome car rides of my childhood. You see, last year when my family gathered for Christmas, my oldest brother graced our smelly sibling with the ultimate in personalized gifts, in homage to our years of suffering at his hands (or rather, his volatile bowels). He gave him a pair of boxer shorts equipped with replaceable charcoal filters, to keep those silent but deadly odors from wafting beyond the borders of his drawers. Technology to the rescue! Oh, to have had this back in the good old days. 

Happy Holidays!


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((¸¸. ·´ .. ·Jenny-:¦:-

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Categories: Sleeping with Ward Cleaver