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Category: News

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!

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

Home(made) for the Holidays

I always hate those articles that urge you to make your holiday gifts this year. For all the extra gifts you need–for the ChemLawn guy, say, or the UPS delivery person–why not make gingered violets, or better yet, home-made candy canes?

 What self-respecting person wouldn’t want to receive these, and what self-flagellating person wouldn’t go on a bender and actually make them? It means so much more, it’ll save you money. You’ll be the hit of the party!

When my kids were young and needed constant entertainment I had the brilliant idea to follow Martha Stewart’s sage (the adjective, not the herb) advice and create our very own cranberry wreath: an inspired mother-children bonding project that was bound to keep us all enthralled for hours.

Usually leery of Martha’s advice, I knew this project would be a breeze. I mean, how hard could it be to jab cranberries into Styrofoam?

I made an extra trip to the store, three small kids in tow, to buy our supplies; figured we’d make two wreaths, since we’d be having so much fun. So I bought eight bags of berries, and a few boxes of toothpicks (all I could find were the colored plastic ones, but they’d do in a pinch).

Add the wreaths, which cost a couple of bucks–not to mention a few gray hairs caused by dragging the kids to the craft store for one measly thing, for which I had to wait in an endless line, because, being the holiday season, every fool decided they too had a hidden craft gene in them –and we were good to go.

Soon, we’d have a gorgeous crimson festive decorator showpiece to hang from our front door, made by the creative little hands of my babies, all for under thirty bucks!

Back home, I ambitiously invited my nephews to join in the fun. So our craft team consisted of five kids aged five and under.

If my memory serves correctly, this project held these kids’ interest for, oh, say, three minutes and twelve seconds. For the subsequent hour that ensued, I cajoled, implored then forced the kids to persist. I’d be damned if my financial investment and good intentions were gonna be lost without a fight. Plus, I had no alternative activity with which to divert their attention.

Apart from the usual arguing over who got what cranberry and the best colored toothpicks, I had to contend with five out of control children dropping a myriad of deadly toothpicks all over the floor for the toddlers in the crowd to then pick up and stuff into a variety of orifices.

The floor-bound cranberries, which were most of them, were eaten by my mooch of a dog, who ended up throwing them back up in a seasonally brilliant vermilion color. Crushed berries stained my porous teak table.

By project’s end–which was when the oldest of the group (the others having given up much earlier and taken to running amok in my house) could no longer bear the pain of the pointy sticks in their fingertips–I was left with two pathetic Styrofoam rings, smashed cranberries jabbed randomly across their topography.

Do you know how many millions of cranberries it must take to cover a foam wreath? And how much resistance the foam puts up to any attempt to puncture its tough exterior wall?

What I had before me were vast expanses of white foam with vague hints of holiday red. Definitely not meant to grace my front door.

Trying to salvage something from this failed venture, I decided to hang the wreaths from a tree; at least the wintering birds would enjoy the berries.

I soon learned that while no local birds gave a hoot about cranberries, strong winds and foul weather would do wonders to facilitate the dropping of hundreds of non-biodegradable toothpicks, which littered my yard mockingly. All year long, those colored little sticks strewn all over my front lawn served as a reminder of my folly.

      The next year, I took my money from the craft budget, picked up a pizza, rented a movie for the kids, and ordered all those extra gifts by phone. I learned my lesson, the hard way.