Archive for July 2010

As Promised…

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…here is a picture of Scott onstage in his kilt. The new fashion statement came about after he played Bonnaroo and it was about eighteen million degrees in the shade. He was complaining that it was too hot to wear pants but he didn’t like wearing shorts onstage. My suggestion for the rest of the blistering hot summer festival shows was to get a kilt. He didn’t feel comfortable sporting traditional tartan so we found an army green uber-tough kilt and it’s been a smash hit. Even Fergie complemented him on it. And really, what man wouldn’t wear a skirt if he knew it was going to merit some flattery from Fergie?

Ich War Luxus-Sklavin

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I wanted to share this page of German press because FINALLY someone used that picture of me from when I made green deviled eggs to go with my neighbor’s Easter ham. I looked up the title of the article. It means “I Was a Luxury-Slave in a Sultan’s Harem.”

Well, who wasn’t a luxury slave at one time or another?

There are lots of reasons that I love my German publisher, not the least of which is that they’re springing for part of a little Euro press tour during the first week of August.

That’s right, folks. I’m taking my luxury-slave show on the road. I’ll be going to Amsterdam, Antwerp, Bratislava and Hamburg.

I’m absolutely sick about leaving the baby. But Scott will be home from the Weezer tour that week, so we’ll be doing a little role reversal and he’ll get to be the literary husband instead of me being the rock wife. Kind of sucks for him because rock wife sounds way better. But seriously, how could I turn it down? It seemed too close to the dream come true category to let it pass by.

Weezer on the Water

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I went with some of my closest, oldest friends and their kids to the Weezer show on the Williamsburg Waterfront last Friday. In the words of my friend’s ten-year-old, it was freakin’ phenomenal. The venue was magical and the kids gave the evening a whole new shine.

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I also had a reunion with John Collins, a veteran of the Samuel’s Major Problems (the Richard Foreman play I acted in a million years ago) crew and now a formidable director in his own right.

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My old boss from the world of high-fashion hairstyling showed up with his daughter as well. A bunch of disparate phases of my life were represented but it all made sense somehow, as parts of a whole. I spent years keeping everything compartmentalized, but publishing the memoir cured me of that. It’s been hard to weather the exposure of the past few months but it’s also been tremendously freeing. All of my life, past and present, can comfortably exist in the same room now. Even better if that room is the backstage area of a Weezer show.

Here’s a video of Tariku rocking out to “If You’re Wondering if I Want You To I Want You To.” For those of you who are obsessed enough with how adorable he is to watch it through to the end, he gets upset because the giant beach balls bouncing through the crowd are out of reach. Just when you think life is nothing but a party, it all suddenly gets so cruel.

If you’re reading this on facebook or RSS feed, you’re gonna have to get your tush over to jillianlauren.com to see the outrageous cuteness.

Also- I promise soon to post a shot of Scott in the kilt he’s been wearing on stage, because he looks HOT.

Last Chance(s)

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I’m participating in four L.A. area events in the next two weeks and after that I’m taking the post-its out of my copy of Some Girls and putting it on the shelf for a while. I’m reading with some great people, so if you haven’t come to see me read yet and are looking for a fun night out, I’d love to see you at one or all of them. You can look at my facebook events page for complete details.

The first is this Friday at 7pm at Laguna Beach Books. I’ll be reading with Shawna Kenney, Cara Bruce, Shira Tarrant and other fantastic authors who contributed to the Robot Hearts anthology.

This Saturday I’ll be taking the 7:20pm slot at the 24 Hour Literary Marathon. All L.A. based poets, writers, and muscians are invited to help celebrate The Writers Junction shift to 24-hour access. There are still some slots left so get on board. Bonus- I’ll have the baby with me because I couldn’t find a sitter. He always spices up any party.

Next Thursday the 29th at 7pm, I’ll be reading at the Little Birds series at Tavin Boutique in Echo Park, with the fabulous Janelle Brown and Mandy Kahn.

Finally, I’ll be reading at the sixth anniversary of Vermin on the Mount on Sunday August 1st, 8pm at The Mountain Bar. Also reading will be Aaron Burch, Amelia Gray, Lindsay Hunter and Adam Novy.

The picture above is from the reading I did in NY last week at Rachel Kramer Bussel’s In The Flesh. It was a great crowd and the other readers were outrageous. It was particularly fun to meet the very talented Twanna A. Hines, who had interviewed me for SMITH Magazine the week before. I also really enjoyed the fact that Jo Weldon got her editor’s assistant to participate in a pastie demonstration.

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In the Flesh readers from left to right are Jo Weldon, Rachel Shukert, Kevin Allison, moi, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Twanna A. Hines and Jerry Portwood.

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City at Night

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We try to keep Tariku on West Coast time when we travel, so we’re often faced with the unique problem of trying to find something to do with an energetic two-year-old at midnight (never fails to draw dirty looks from judgmental strangers). Two nights ago, we came up with the genius idea of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. Tariku was so mesmerized by the spectacular view that he walked smack into a cable and bloodied his lip but he’s used to it. He gets a bloody lip about once a week. Other than that, it was fantastic.

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Notes from NY

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We’ve been here nearly a week and it feels like five minutes, except that evidence of the trip is strewn over every surface of the hotel room. There are passes from talk show appearances and dying birthday flower arrangements and nine million new toys from every cool toy store we passed and chocolate wrappers and torn off VIP bracelets and wet bathing suits. We believe in upholding the rock tradition of trashing our hotel room, we just add our own family-friendly twist.

To begin, the above completely rad photo is Scott on the jumbotron in Times Square. I didn’t feel like dragging the baby out in the rain to see it, but my sister-in-law is a better gal than I and she sent me the proof.

The next morning it was still wet outside, so we headed straight for the Natural History Museum, about which I get very sentimental. I have such vivid memories of it from my own childhood. But apparently I wasn’t the only one with the idea to take my kid to see dinosaur bones on a rainy summer day. It was such a madhouse that I wound up crouched in the corner in front of the stuffed manatees, head in my hands, trying to remind myself to breathe. The only other place I’ve seen that crowded was the Vatican in August and I nearly had a panic attack there, too. I’m not sure who liked it less, me or T. We ate our twenty dollar tickets, turned right back around and went to walk around Central Park.

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It was barely drizzling and the park felt lush and magical. We climbed on the rocks and looked at the ducks and it wound up being a great afternoon. I’m glad we bagged the museum plan.

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You know we’re on vacation (albeit a working vacation) because Scott and I went and had a proper night out. Rachel Weintraub, my dear friend since I was nine, is a total Sting groupie and was seeing his show at the Met, so we met her afterward for dinner across the street at Fiorellos. The night was all my favorite things about NY: delicious late dinners at sidewalk cafes, breezy, pleasantly humid summer nights, good people watching, great conversation, long walks home past all kinds of mysterious downtown nightlife.

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It made me yearn to live here again. But of course, that’s without having to schlep my kid and all our laundry to a laundromat six blocks away or to carry our groceries home in the middle of winter. It’s easy to ache for a city you’re vacationing in. I love our life in LA and I wouldn’t swap. Still, I miss it here sometimes.

Stay tuned for more stories of Tariku painting the town…

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Trains, Planes and Grocery Shopping

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Tariku, Jen (babysitter extraordinaire) and I boarded a plane to NY just as the second half of the World Cup was starting. People were gathered six deep around the TV screens at the airport bars. I enjoy the energy of events that draw people together in odd places, but I’m a terrifically fickle sports fan. I was routing for The Netherlands because they’re flying me out to do press for Some Girls in a few weeks, whereas Spain hasn’t even bought the rights yet. We found out the outcome when we approached the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and saw the Empire State Building lit red and yellow.

T and I aren’t going along for the whole tour this summer because it was too impractical, but we decided to rendezvous with Scott in NY for a week. When we got to the hotel, Tariku was so excited that we didn’t get to sleep until 3:15PM. Scott arrived from Canedaigua a couple of hours later.

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In spite of being exhausted, the NY mojo inspired us to go on an adventure the next morning. We took Tariku on his first subway ride up to the Intrepid museum, which is based on a WW2 aircraft carrier. I haven’t been there since I was a little girl and it was fascinating. I’m hardly one for glorifying militarism, but it’s difficult to stand on the deck of the Intrepid and not marvel.

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So, in essence, we took a CHOO CHOO (all-caps indicates Tariku screaming at the top of his lungs) to a huge BOAT with AIRPLANES all over it. What?!?!? Tariku will never forgive me for taking him back to L.A. That is, until he gets back to the BEACH.

Then Scott put T down for his nap while I took a much needed break by reading in the tub. I didn’t bother with the water part, as I had already taken a shower. I just lay down in the dry tub and finished my book while occasionally looking out the window over the downtown rooftops. I steal my reading moments however I can get em.

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Jen took T while we had a romantic dinner and grocery shopping date and if you think I’m being sarcastic, I’m not. Whole Foods in Soho is actually an excellent date spot if you like people watching and pricey chocolate, which is kind of my equivalent of CHOO CHOOS and AIRPLANES.

I was bummed that we missed Weezer playing on the Jumbotron in Times Square today, but we settled for the Electric Mayhem (The Muppets band) on my laptop instead, as this it what it looked like outside:

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Ragin’ With You, My Sister

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Besides having the best name in the world, Kristen Howerton’s blog, Rage Against the Minivan, is one of my adoption touchstones. They re-aired her appearance on The View today and her blog post about all the things she wishes she had said is a mind blower.

Here’s a tidbit:

I wanted to talk about the deficits that we will have as a white couple raising black children. I wanted to compare it to a single mom raising boys . . . how we will need help from others. I wanted to talk about how painful it can be as a parent to know that, while I can empathize, I will never fully understand my sons’ experiences as African Americans, or as transracial adoptees. I wanted to talk about how every adoptive parent needs to suck up their pride and admit that we can’t do it alone.

I wanted to talk about how much I have learned from reading the writings of adult adoptees, and how their experiences of loss and isolation inform me as a parent, and also break my heart.

I wanted to talk about the persistent question I hear asking why people adopt internationally instead of taking care of “our own kids” in the US. I wanted to talk about how every child, in every nation, is deserving of a family, not just American children. I wanted to say how petty I find this question.

L.A. Looks Better All the Time

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We were so excited for our little July 4 getaway in Ojai this weekend (can’t you just hear the ominous undertones?). As usual, we packed Beverly Hillbillies style, our truck bed piled high with bikes and backpacks and dog beds and clothes and food and music equipment. And if that weren’t enough, we brought along Tariku’s two aunties and their dog and bikes and backpacks etc etc.

We arrive after driving through nearly three hours of holiday traffic– four adults, two trucks, three dogs and one toddler who had just had an unfortunate poop explosion– to find that our favorite little inn had lost our reservation. Not only that, the desk clerk looked me in the eye and snottily said, “I suggest you call ahead next time. If the computer reservation system doesn’t work, it’s not our fault.”

Friends, I lost it. Scott later confirmed that in the eight years we’ve been together, he has never seen me blow my stack like that. I used language that I hope my son never has to hear out of my mouth again. I was so furious that my whole body was shaking.

The thing is, I’ve had a date with a massive meltdown for a few weeks now. I had exactly three days of transition time between a mad book tour and the mad final revisions for my next book. I haven’t had enough time with my family; I haven’t had enough time to properly care for myself; I haven’t been getting enough sleep. I’m having hair trigger migraines that fell me in minutes. I’d say that my breakdown in Ojai is a red flag letting me know that I need to actively seek a better balance in my life.

I was able to sponge off Tariku on the lawn and then find us a couple of rooms for the night at a motel where the health department had shut down the pool, the floors were so dirty that the bottoms of our feet were black, and the continental breakfast was made up of three jelly donuts individually wrapped in cellophane. And when I tried to take advantage of the jacuzzi that was next to the bed, I apparently did something wrong, because the jets shot epic blasts of water clear across the room, completely soaking the comforter and traumatizing my son. He was crying and screaming, “FOUNTAIN! SCARY!”

Then, to ice the cake, the July 4 parade we had come to see was actually held on July 3 this year (no parades on Sundays in Ojai apparently), so we missed it. It didn’t seem worth it to stay another night, so we turned around and went home. We got back in time to eat a few Dorito crumbs left over at our neighbor’s party.

How did my life turn into an eighties movie starring Chevy Chase? And Scott is really curious to know when the Christie Brinkley part happens…

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On Monday, I decided to have a vacation day at home instead. I turned off the iPhone and partied with T-bone all day long, first at Griffith Park and then at the Santa Monica Airport. Check out my brave cowboy on his first pony ride.

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The truth is, all those romantic getaways that seem blissful in retrospect were overshadowed for years by how badly we wanted a family. Now we have one, and I guess that with a family comes a much higher probability of disastrous vacations.

I’ll take it.

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Don’t I Know You?

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Until now. I’ve never read a piece of fiction in The New Yorker and thought, That author must have been sitting next to me singing “The Wheels on the Bus” in Mommy and Me class. But I’ll eat my flower hair wreath if Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s story, “The Erlking” isn’t set at the very same Pasadena Waldorf School Elves’ Faire at which I have many times lamented my lack of ability to felt.

Every sentence of the story resonated with me. It’s about the tragedy contained in those moments of disconnection between parent and child. It made me think of the ways that I’ll never know my son, the ways that the world he’s living in is so different from mine, even as we’re holding hands.

Generally, I have my mommy life and my life in literature and never the twain shall meet. Yes, I mom-blog with the best of ‘em, but when I write (or even read) books, I put on a different hat entirely. Maybe I’m scared to write fiction that deals with issues around motherhood because I’m afraid it won’t be taken seriously. This fear of mine has me pandering to the very sentiment I loathe.

Bynum’s story married art and life in a way that I found both brave and profound. I had my standard jealous reaction when I read something fantastic– I wish I had done it myself.

Who Needs to Think When You Have an iPhone?

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There’s a piece in the NYTimes today about iPhone apps that give you zingy one-liners and rhetorical strategies to aid you in debating those pesky religious fundamentalists. Not for you? Okay, there’s also one that will help you parry with atheists.

Does anyone else think this is the most ludicrous thing you’ve ever heard of?

How about an app that teaches us how to think critically about the philosophical questions that define the human condition? I have an iPhone app suggestion…it’s called, “Think For Your Own Darn Self.” You ask it questions and it suggests a number of texts from all different perspectives. You can then go read them and make up your own mind about the answer.

Besides, do we really need anything that helps us argue better? As if the problems threatening the human race right now are a result of people not having quite enough ammunition to prove that they’re right and everyone else is wrong.