Valerie Frankel's
Palace of Love

Mia can't tear herself away from The Girlfriend Curse

4/05 - 3/05

April 30, 2005

Last night. A blur of calamari and red wine. I have no idea how many bottles. I only know that they kept coming, one after another, for five hours.

The night started soberly at the Century Club on West 43rd Street for Elizabeth Crow's memorial service. Among many others, Cindy Searight and Judith Newman gave funny and heartbreaking speeches for Elizabeth. The room was overflowing with EC's friends and family—including David Remnick of The New Yorker (but he had to duck out early—a literary emergency?). While EC's nearest and dearest sang (ahem, Judith) her praises, my eyes kept wandering to the galley's eight extra-large paintings of contemporary nudes with floppy breasts and full, dark bushes. The combo of eulogy and nudity would have amused Elizabeth. She might even have chosen that absurdist bit herself.

After the service, Daryl Chen (who readers of this blog are familiar with), Lauren Purcell, Jeanie Pyun, Cindy Searight, her husband Rick and I went to the Algonquin.
We talked about Elizabeth a lot. Cindy reprised her eulogy, and we cried again over our greasy food and ever-replenished glasses. We talked about ourselves, our projects (including Lauren's upcoming Straight Up Guide that sounds fantastic), magazines, books, people who weren't there (only nice things). Like I've said before, working at Mademoiselle was gold. That a handful of the ex-editors can get together, many years later, and have a howlingly excellent night, doubled over laughing, drinking, reminiscing, updating, is just further proof how close we were, and are. We sat down at eight o'clock, left at one. We were all shocked how late it was. Time had doubled over, too.

Mademoiselle, a long dead magazine with a recently deceased editor, miraculously, keeps on keeping on. Jeanie suggested we meet every month to network, kibbitz, help each other—and open the ad hoc club to all Mademoiselle alumni. "Elizabeth would have loved that," she said. Who knows? Maybe Elizabeth will show up at the next meeting (she delighted in meetings). We won't see her, of course. But we'll hear her, as we all still do.

April 27, 2005

It's been an hour. Only now could I sit down to post. I said to Daryl Chen, "I'll be all right."
She said, "I don't think I will."
We both admitted to not voting. I said, "How could I be so lazy? I love Constantine much more than Clay, but I voted for Clay."
Daryl said, "I voted like a maniac for Clay."
Then we had to take a momentary break from our sorrow to laugh.
Quickly back to pain and mourning.
The question now is, Do abiding Constantine fans keep watching? I guess I will. I'll attempt to shift my favor to Bo. But, honestly, the air (or do I mean hair?) has gone out of it for me. I liked Paula crying. I'd like to know what mascara she wores the doesn't run at all.
FYI: Although I could, quite easily, trash Scott (what parents with a full load of chromosomes would gleefully describe their child as "the average joe"?), I won't do it. That's beneath the high caliber of my affection for Constantine. I'll remember the love, not the hate.
When he returns to Brooklyn, we will comfort him. Soothe away the sadness. I'll be waiting.
And one last thing: I stand by my earlier post. If Constantine showed the tongue last week and last night, HE WOULD STILL BE IN THIS COMPETITION TODAY!

April 21, 2005

A quick update.

1. Heather Graham and her producer partners are going to renew their option for The Accidental Virgin for the second time. This is wonderful news, and restores my hope that the movie might actually happen (not holding breath, goes without saying).

2. I went to the Organic Style party last night at Rose Hall. Celebrity sightings: Alison Krauss, Helen Hunt, Cindy Adams. I made Shannon go up to Cindy Adams and offer to send her a copy of The Best You'll Ever Have. Cindy was way into it.

3. Jeanie Pyun, old friend from Mademoiselle, is now editor-in-chief (the boss) of Organic Style. She looked incredible last night, like a real live glamorous editor on par with the Annas and Tinas of the world. Hand to God. I felt incredible pride and joy for you, Jeanie. You deserve it all! Especially the Stella McCartney heels.

4. Saw the English import comedy Shockheaded Peter at the Little Shubert on 42nd Street with Shannon and my culture vulture parents. The play was mind-blowingly funny, brilliant, creepy, Monty Python meets Grimm's fairy tales. The star of the show, a blond accordian player who sang in a hilarious falsetto all night, was HOT! Seriously hot. Shannon and I almost waited for him by the stage door.

5. Steve returns from five weeks away on Sunday. After a month plus of restaurant meals, he's requested the following menu: turkey burgers, homemade mac and cheese, apple pie a la mode. I am READY (except I don't know how to make homemade mac and cheese—yet). Can't wait to see him, and have him back home. We've missed him terribly. Penny the cat cries for him every day.

I guess that wasn't so quick after all.

April 20, 2005

Constantine's new haircut and dye job: Love it. I'm relieved that someone finally convinced him to lighten the load and add layers, especially around his lick-worthy face. He even had a little That Girl! flip action going on. The streaks. My sister wasn't sure. I love them. He's lightened; he's brightened. On a scale of one to ten, I'd give his new mantle a ten.

The smokey eyes: Personally, I love a guy with liner and mascara. This harkens back to my punk rock roots (and when I say punk rock, I mean the Clash, the Ramones—not Green Day). When Steve does an opera, he has to wear a lot of eye makeup. The day after, a hint of the liner lingers—whatever he couldn't quite wash off—and it looks awesome. I tell him to wear eye liner every day, but he won't. On Constatine, the smokey eyes made my heart sing. I can live with the handlebar stubble, too. If it's both or neither, I'll take both.

His tongue: He didn't give us a good look last night, just a peek during the post-song assessment. It was enough. I'll cling to the memory.

Forgive me for even thinking of another, but I have to say that Bo Bice is looking better and better. The belly paunch he showed in the early weeks of the season is gone. I am also a sucker for men in leather pants (see above, re: punk rock roots). If Bo and Constatine fight it out in the finals, I'll be pleased. Especially if they go shirtless, get greased up and wrestle.

April 17, 2005

Back from Minneapolis. I loved my midwestern day. Bubble bath, room service cheeseburger, watching Oprah in a king size bed. The event itself exceeded expectations. For one thing, all the seats were filled. People had to stand! It was the best attended book event I've ever done. Kyle and I didn't play off each other, as billed. Instead, we read, took Q, gave A. It went on for over an hour, and the time flew. I'm not sure if Kyle "Inscrutable" Smith enjoyed himself as much as I did. I hope so.

The best part, by FAR, was hooking up with Laura Billings (old friend from the Mademoiselle days) and her husband Nick Coleman. We went out for sushi after the Bound to be Read portion of the evening concluded, and I drank copious amounts of saki from a wooden box. Nick, like Steve, is a hot 50something guy. Laura and I congratulated each other on the wise choice of marrying older men. They are the sweetest couple, and are totally in mad love. CONGRATS, Laura!! Well done!

Back in Brooklyn (always a joy/​relief), and I'm taking the kids to get our feet tidied up for spring. I like St. Lucia Lilac. Maggie gets a metallic blue, and Lucy, as always, will surely choose pink.

April 15, 2005

I am in Minneapolis, home of Mary Richards, the Twins and, uh, not sure who else. I'm in the bar at the Marquette Hotel (which, I think, means Small Marquis), looking out the window at the modern architecture and clean streets. I have yet to spot a homeless person, a sidewalk hot dog stand, a DOT cop writing parking tickets. The taxis are not yellow. They are the disturbing hues of purple or lime green. Apparently, nearby, there is a statue somewhere of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her beret in the air. I will find it, or get hit by a green taxi trying.

I'm doing a reading tonight at Bound to be Read, a big bookstore in St. Paul that has a monthly reading club/​cocktail klatch. I'm appearing with Kyle "Love Monkey" Smith. We are supposed to be representatives of our genres, speaking about relationship matters, pursuit of love, etc. The ad for the event promised that we'd "play off each other."

I barely know Kyle. We've only met twice. At this early stage in our acquaintance, I'm quite sure Kyle has many wonderful traits—but "playful" does not appear to be one of them.

He is very sharp and a funny writer. Anyone who reads this blog and lives in the Twin Cities should come out at see if we are able to acheive playful, or merely just painful.

In other news, the smallest mention of Constantine on the blog increased my daily hits by 800 percent. Since only three people ordinarily visit (and I think Mom missed it the other day), that zoom me up to 24 people! Seriously, the number was a bit larger than that. Very exciting to get such a response! With more of the same in mind, let me say this about that: CONSTANTINE, CONSTANTINE, CONSTANTINE!

April 13, 2005

This just in:
Constantine is even cuter with a pony tail!

April 12, 2005

I'm quite sure I don't need to remind readers of my abiding love and devotion to Constantine. Tonight, he sang Bohemian Rhapsody and I was cheering and screaming at the TV like a crazy person. My six-year-old, a child who talks incessantly, told me to calm down and be quiet. I adored every second of his performance, especially when he stuck out his tongue a la Gene Simmons. If Constantine keeps his tongue out for the remainder of the competition (you heard it here first), HE WILL WIN!

I have to meet him. I made a rule years ago that I'd never do celebrity journalism because it's sycophantic and gross. But I would beg to get an assignment to interview Constantine! Calling all editors! Get me five minutes with the guy, just to see the tongue up close.

Of course, he was born the year Bohemian Rhapsody was released, and I have a very clear memory of going to record store to buy the Queen album with my allowance. Plus, I am a newlywed and not supposed to be plotting to meet a man who's thirteen years younger than me. But I can dream, can't I? I'm married, not blind!

Speaking of the husband, Steve had been in Jackson, Mississippi, for the past three weeks doing Mikado. Last Sunday, he was to fly to Dayton, Ohio, for his next gig, stopping for one hour at LaGuardia between connecting flights. As luck would have it, Steve hit the airport agony trifecta:
1. He missed his intial flight.
2. He missed his connecting flight.
3. He lost his luggage (but managed to find it).
The happy result of all this misery? Steve got to spend the night in New York; the next flight to Dayton wasn't until morning. As I said, we hadn't seen each other for three weeks. We had nine hours. It was a taste of him, a wonderful reminder. And totally unexpected—the best kind of reward. He's gone again, for two more weeks. Sucks.

April 9, 2005

New review of The Girlfriend Curse from Booklist. Here's the bottom line: "Frankel delivers another humorous, crowd-pleasing romp."—Kristine Huntley

Kristine Huntley, you have my thanks and eternal servitude.

My parents took Maggie, my sister plus family and I to see the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute to the non German reading members of the audience). Directed by Julie Taymor (of Broadway's The Lion King fame), the opera was visually, choreographically and musically thrilling. Seriously. I kid you not. I don't take back all the cracks I've made about Steve dragging me to ten hour purgatorial spiels by Wagner, or snoring through endless Italian duet duels. I still groan when I think about the stupefying suicide of Madame Butterfly. But Mozart's music: I got it. I opened my ears and, for the first time, I understood and was moved by the musical story (not just the libretto). Besides which, comedy in German is comedy in and of itself. I urge anyone who can get a ticket to go. Taymor's Magic Flute will be one for the ages. I felt priviledged to be there. Maggie, the little operaphile (Steve is so fucking proud), loved it, too.

April 7, 2005

I got a fantastic surprise phone call just now, from the first roommate I had when I moved to Brooklyn right out of college. She said, "Val Frankel?" I said, "Suzannah Long?" We haven't spoken in probably ten years, but I heard her voice like she was in the next bedroom. We lived in a floor-thru in Park Slope. I was directed to the place by a friend of a friend, and had never met Suzannah before, but we became instant best friends, and had many hazy, foggy experiences as early twentysomethings in New York. She fled to the West Coast 16 years ago, that bitch. But Suzannah was always into natural beauty, in setting and men. Anyway, so EXCELLENT to hear your voice, darlin. I am loving you more than any person can love another.

April 6, 2005

Woke up today, sunshine, warm air. Felt much better. I have a lunch with Carrie Feron, my book editor at Avon, to discuss The Good Witch. I'm pretty confident about the manuscript. Carrie is an excellent editor and we are almost always in sync.

I also have to remind readers (all three of you) that I was on the ground floor with Constantine. (General apologies about my Idolatry; not many shows provide clean family fun AND sexy guys to lust after). In the first days of AI4, back in February, I posted a mash note about Constantine's fuck me eyes, long legs and Brooklyn charm. Even Daryl Chen, who'd previously been disgusted by his unwashed patina, acknowledged last night that Constantine had the heat, and admited that she was going to vote for him.

April 5, 2005

As the three people who read this website know, I was an editor at Mademoiselle for a decade. For seven of those years, my boss was Elizabeth Crow. A remarkable woman, she died last night at age 57, after a short but devastating bout with cancer. Although Elizabeth was my boss first, she was also my friend, especially after we both left Mademoiselle in 2000.

My ear and jaw are sore from hours spent on the phone this week with ex-Mademoisellers, crying and talking about how Elizabeth changed our lives. Among her gifts, Elizabeth intuitively teased out the best in each of us, nurturing our specific talents, even if we didn't recognize them in ourselves. She was our fearless, relentlessly optimistic leader. A Leo, we called her the queen of the jungle. A Valkyrie, she towered over us in stature and indefatigable enthusiasm.

Daryl Chen said that one of her favorite things about Elizabeth was that she frequently laughed until she cried. We used to have all day story idea meetings that, contrary to how it sounds (an all day meeting?—shoot me now), were hilarious and fun and productive. At Mademoiselle, so many article pitches were straight from our own lives (the personal was professional), and we divulged some pretty intimate stuff—group therapy at work. EC (as she was called) reveled in those meetings. She enjoyed her staff, and was inspired by our proximity, just as we were our best selves around her. I basked in her approval, as if she were a parent (she was another mother to the entire staff). Cracking her up was a valuable prize. She rewarded only true wit with riotous, tear streaming laughter. We all learned to be funny, to sharpen our words, to please her.

I got to say "thank you" to her last Thursday at the hospital, but it wasn't the bedside, pre-death outpouring I would have like to offer. She didn't think she was going to die. Telling her how much she'd meant to me, gushing gratefully for all her help, would have been inappropriate. I'm sure she knew how I felt. How could she not? I always acted like a star-struck groupie when we met for dinner or lunch. I was honored to know her, and blessed to work with her. She taught me everything I know about what makes a magazine article fly. New York has lost a giant of publishing, and the world has lost a brave heart.

April 2, 2005

Raining again. A massive blue plastic tarp hangs outside my bedroom window (due to repointing the rear wall of our building), and it's billowing, casting gloomy shadows on the floor, moving across the sleeping bodies of my cats. As you might have guessed by now, I'm moody this morning. I have a sick friend. Very sick. And I've had quite enough of this fucking rain.

The Girlfriend Curse, meanwhile, is showing its best numbers since its release a month ago. Word of mouth must be good. As of 11 A.M., I have two books in the top 400 at (The Girlfriend Curse and The Best You'll Ever Have).

This just in: People magazine has given The Girlfriend Curse a rave review. My press agent (aka, Mom) heard about it from a friend, so she ran out to the gas station to buy a copy. She read the review to me over the phone. I'll post the whole thing when I can get a look at it. From the April 11th issue: "Frankel is always wickedly entertaining," they said (no byline or I'd give credit where it's due). Thanks to the people at People!

March 29, 2005

We're just back from a week in Vermont. I thought we'd go skiing, skating, snowshoeing. Turned out, we had to make two trips to the emergency room. First, I was diagnosed with Scarlet Fever, since I have a temperature, aches, extreme fatigue and a hot, red angry rash all over my entire body. Two days later, Lucy gets the rash just on her face, and complains of the ankle and wrist pain I'd been enduring. Back to the ER, we see a pediatrician who tells us it's not Scarlet Fever, but some minor childhood rash called Fifth Disease. But in adults, naturally, the symptoms are MUCH, MUCH worse. So there you have it.

At least I got some rest, and managed to write an essay for an upcoming anthology for HarperCollins with the working title "The Worst Noel." My piece, about being Jews who celebrate a secular Xmas, is tentatively called, "I'll Have Christmas With the Works On Rye, Hold the Ham and Jesus." My mother doesn't think the powers at HarperCollins will let me keep it. But I think it's pretty fucking funny, and assume they will, too.

In other news . . . who am I kidding? There is no other news. When you're sick, you can't do anything but be sick. Actually, we did go out to see the crappy kid movie, Ice Princess, about a teen who chooses competitive junior level figure skating over attending Harvard. As we were leaving the theater, I said to my daughters, "Let me make this absolutely clear: In our family, given the choice, YOU'RE GOING TO HARVARD." I think they understood...

March 22, 2005

My daughters and I have had spring fever for three days. Maggie had been hit the hardest, topping 103 one horrible hour. I never got higher than 101.5, but that was enough to put me in bed, shivering, for 20 hours straight. Lucy was sick for approximately five minutes, but dramatically, with a spikey fever and a red dotted rash all over her body. March: Comes in like lion and goes out like a soggy tissue.

My temperature is down to 99.9 by now. I was able to write five pages of Fringe Girl today (only 10 pages behind schedule) and have enough steam left over to post. I have little news to report, having been in bed since Sunday. One good thing about it: I've probably lost a few pounds. But, you know how it works, it'll come right back when I start to eat again.

Steve left for three weeks in Mississippi, doing a production of Mikado. He will play Ko-Ko, as usual. You wouldn't think that Mississippi had a real hunger for Gilbert and Sullivan. But the opera company is paying for his hotel and giving him a good fee for this gig. Readers of The Not-So-Perfect Man know how much I hate it when Steve goes away. But, when we see each other again, the heart does go pop, zoom, whammie. Worth the seperation? He thinks so. I'm not in the best shape to agree.

March 18, 2005

This post will make sense to people who have seen The Incredibles. If you haven't, you should. Anyway, having seen (or heard) the movie 27 times since I bought the DVD on Tuesday, I've come to see the brilliance, the organic logic, of each main character's power.
The female power/​fantasy connection is, as we are, complex and metaphorical.
Violet: What teenage girl hasn't fantasized about becoming invisible at will, or being able to put up a protective force field around herself?
Elastagirl: What mother of three hasn't dreamed of being able to stretch, be in two rooms at once, having long arms and and eyes in the back of her head?
The male power/​fantasy connections are simplistic, logical, linear, as they are.
Dash: What little boy doesn't want to be faster, kick into hyperspeed?
Mr. Incredible: What man doesn't wish for super strength?
Love this movie.

March 17, 2005

Cosmo loves The Girlfriend Curse. Here's part of the review in the April issue, page 246:

"Cosmo Says: You'll go gaga for this kooky romantic comedy about finding The One is the most unlikely of places."—Sara Bodnar

Thanks much, Sara Bodnar!

More reviews as I get them. The book seems to be doing fairly well. Too early to tell. Reports have trickled in that The Girlfriend Curse is in big airport book stores, and has its own counter/​floor display in some locations (!). I knew Avon made the displays, but I didn't believe any book store would put them up. How cool!

March 13, 2005

Friday night. All I can say is, "Wow." I am still hungover and it's Sunday morning. Shannon and I went to see Citizen Cope at Irving Plaza on East 16th Street. He's the current darling of WFMU, and Shannon is an FMU addict. Musically, Citizen Cope turned out to be a cross between Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. Physically, he's a poor man's Brad Pitt. I'm still hearing his catchy tunes in my head, one lyric especially: "If there's love, I just want to have something to do with it." So sweet.

Shannon found a spot in a cranny on the balcony, and we got to look straight down at Cope for the entire show. One of his encores was the Marley song, "Is This Love?" and I won't soon forget the sight and sound of thousands of people chanting the lyrics while Cope stood silently on stage, strumming the guitar and grinning. He also did a cover of "Twist of Fate."

We got to talking to two women, and we went with them to Coffee Shop after the show (small stop in Union Square to fill the lungs, if you know what I mean), and then drank potent Brazilian cocktails and laughed and talked about sex and men. Shannon, I realize, has the ultimate pick-up line: "I just wrote a best-selling book about sex." What red-blooded man could resist? One didn't, apparently. When the two other (married) women and I left at 2 A.M., Shannon and a very cute 32-year-old were on the verge of playing tonsil hockey in our booth (why we left).

I took a cab home in the heavy snow—drunk, dizzy, high from great music and meeting cool funny new people. I stumbled up the stairs and found Steve in bed, toasty and asleep.

Magic, right? New York is THE GREATEST CITY ON EARTH. To think that Friday morning, when I realized I'd accidentally left my daughter's rented clarinet at D'Agostino's and some asshole walked off with it (I'll have to replace the instrument to the tune of $390), I was frantic with anger and regret. In New York, you can change colors from shit to gold in the course of a single day.

March 10, 2005

A few things today:

1. My daughter makes me watch American Idol. That said, I am in love with Constantine. He's from Brooklyn (making it impossible for me not to like him). He has long legs, long hair, fuck me eyes (you've all noticed, admit it). WHO CARES IF HE'S NOT THAT TALENTED? He's hot. This is AMERICAN Idol; let the hottest man win.

2. Jennifer Weiner wrote a hilarious indictment of Meg Wolitzer's essay about chick-lit on Go see for yourself.

3. I've arrived at a new mental space. As I stand now—at the intersection of turning in one book, having another come out, and the onset of spring—I know exactly which direction to turn. I'm going inside my own head, where it's warm and welcoming. Happiness, skull-contained, is the highest ideal. I'm shooting for joy, for myself, my husband, my kids. All the other stuff—movie financing, book sales, etc.—is out of my hands. So I'm putting it out of my head.

March 5, 2005

I wrote a eulogy for Thompson, one of my first favorite writers, for

March 3, 2005

With some books, one could edit and edit and edit until pigs fly from the ass. The Good Witch is such a book. I wish I could remember who said, "No work is finished; it's abandoned." Monday is the absolute final deadline for this draft. I am sending, no matter what.

I did a reading last night at the Astor Place Barnes and Noble. It was fun. As predicted, about ten people were there. Since this was a co-reading with Kyle Smith, on average, we got a handful each. Kyle has a quirky affect that reminded me of Steve, actually. I liked his girlfriend Sara Austin even before I found out she's an editor at Self, after which point, I LOVED her. For the record, Kyle got more laughs than I did, reported Steve. I'm going to read The Girlfriend Curse again and pick high comedy passages instead of just reading the first chapter next time, see if I can up my response. Live and learn.

The Girlfriend Curse had been out for three days. I sent this mass email, begging friends, family and fans to pick up a copy:

Dear You:
Winter has been bad. As I write this email, another foot of snow is falling on New York City, and that includes my new deck table and chairs which weren't made for this kind of weather yet I was too cheap and lazy to cover them with a tarp (and I have no one to blame but myself). Back to the point: Winter will soon end, and spring approaches, making this the PERFECT time to buy and read a book—such as The Girlfriend Curse—that takes place in SUMMER. A hot, sticky summer in Vermont. It's a hot sticky read, too, incidentally.

Isn't that what we all need right about now? It sure as hell is! This book is a gift you shouldn't deny yourself. Don't you deserve it? What are you, chopped liver?

What I'm trying to say: Unless you hate yourself, you must get a copy of The Girlfriend Curse.

I thank you. You thank you.

Not chopped liver either,
Val Frankel
P.S. Entertainment Weekly gave The Girlfriend Curse a B+. But, I happen to know they grade on a curve, and desperately wanted to give it an A+++, but had to deflate my mark for mysterious "editorial purposes."

BTW: I accidentally deleted my fan email address list. A rank, knuckleheaded move. Not sure how it happened. One minute, the list were there. The next, gone. Wet, heavy, damp, long, bitter sigh. Nothing like losing touch with people who care. Well, as Steve said, "It's done. You'll make a new list." With that in mind, please email me if you consider yourself a fan. I will pester you for your kindness rarely.

For Your Amusement

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Book #4 in the Fringe Girl series
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The story of my life as a diet addict, and how I eventually overcame my compulsion to count carbs. People magazine: "Funny! Satisfying!" Kirkus: "Witty! Candid!"
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