Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Because Sometimes Editorializing is Required

Well, Chickens, today it is important to talk about true friendship.  I don't mean surface "of course you look fine/love your new hair/I'm sure he'll call" friendship.  I mean deep-down-for-life-besties with actual "that color makes you look like an Oompa Loompa/Kristy McNichol called and said feathered hair is out/he's a fartweasel and you shouldn't care that he will never call" friendship.  The kind of friends who show up to lunch with cupcakes or bourbon or both, depending on whether you are celebrating or commiserating.  The kind of friends who congratulate you on your successes and call you on your bullshit and who know your honesty is a gift, and so they forgive you.

Me, reading in an overly dramatic way that makes me look like a lizard, Jen on the left, watching and thinking "Oh, honey, you're gonna need some chemical peel on that neck if you don't stop making that face, bless your heart."

It is no surprise to anyone that one of my truest and dearest friends is the incomparable Jen Lancaster.  She said a whole bunch of really nice stuff about me here.  She is often saying nice stuff about me, and if you know me, most of the time I am saying nice stuff about her too.  I've always been grateful to Printer's Row Book Fair for fixing us up on our first blind date, and to the Universe for ensuring that we would choose to have a second date.  I met Jen before I met her books, and then was delighted to find that same snarky wit present in her work that I so enjoy in her company. 

The fact that our current books are dedicated to each other sort of says it all. And if you haven't read her stuff, go buy it right now.  Just click here!

Many things have changed for me since Jen came into my life.  I now have a small Real Housewives additiction, whereas before Jen, I was pretty reality-TV free.  I have a renewed love of all things 1980s, and have now been given multiple chances to embarass myself in public with outfits almost entirely made of THINGS I STILL OWN FROM HIGH SCHOOL. 

Not only am I wearing my own stuff from HS, but Tracey is wearing one of my old jackets and some jewelry. 
Jen, of course, just looks like Jen.

I have had more girls nights and cupcakes than I can count, and a ridiculous amount of laughter. 

When I met my Charming Suitor, from the very first date, Jen led the charge of Team Charming Suitor, our other gal-pals Gina and Tracey following suit, and at every step of our budding relationship she quizzed and queried and cheer-led and generally made it clear that she was in absolute unflagging support of my new relationship, even though she knew it would alter the amount of time we could spend together. 

And when she decided to up and move her madras-clad ass up to the suburbs, effectively eliminating our spontaneous midday pilgrimages to Whole Foods, not to mention our standing Wednesday night girl dates, I made a lot of noise, I made a lot of snarky comments, and I sneered....and then I went out to see the houses they were looking at and gave honest opinions, and eventually, my blessing.  Because you want your friends to get what they want, even if it sucks for you.

Today, Jen has a post up on her blog that encourages you to come see me, and by proxy her, at my signings this week.  She also shows off some of the window treatments and wallpaper that came with the new house.  And as her best friend, I feel it important to point some things out about these items. 

When we went to see this particular house I said many honest true things. 

It has great bones.  It is in impeccable shape.  It feels like them.  I could see them really enjoying life there.  It has some wonderful special Jen/Fletchy details.  (no, I am not talking about the gun rack in the kitchen, I am talking about the sun porch and the special icemaker.  the gun rack is just a scary bonus.)

But since I am honest, I will say the following.

Whoever originally chose the wallpaper and window treatments for this house was deranged or heavily medicated or perhaps had seen Changing Rooms once too many times. 

Below is Jen's current post, you'll see my notes peppered throughout....

At some point I'm going to learn to make announcements prior to the last minute.
Today is not one of those days.
But so you know, my friend Stacey Ballis is doing some book signings this week and Fletch and I will be there. Okay, maybe Fletch won't be at the second one, but he's definitely coming tonight as he's currently in the middle of a steamy bromance with Gina's boyfriend.

For which I am very grateful, since Fletch's man-crush on Charming Suitor led to a very uncomfortable drunken lap dance at last year's 80s bash, and it was definitely time for his affections to be spread around.

Here are the specifics:
Tuesday September 14
Barnes and Noble Webster Place
1441 W. Webster
Chicago IL

Thursday September 16
Barnes and Noble Old Orchard
55 Old Orchard Shopping Center
Skokie IL

Friday September 17
Emcee for the Annual Grown Up Spelling Bee (yep, a spelling bee. with prizes. there may be slots available, so call and sign up!)
The Book Cellar
4736 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago IL

I won't actually be at the spelling bee one as I have to go to court that day regarding the idiots who tried to break into my house. (Related story - after this happened, my friend Caprice emailed me and was all, "YOU ALMOST GOT ROBBED?" to which I replied, "No, two morons almost got shot. Big difference.")

(I imagine this is not a story I will share with the judge.)

I imagine that she will also refrain from mentioning that she practically live-tweeted the event, and that the way she told Fletch there was a problem was by running through the house yelling "Perimeter Breach!!!"

Anyway, as you know, I've moved. I may have mentioned this a couple of hundred times. However, I haven't said much about the house and that's been intentional. The thing is, it's tough sledding out there for a lot of people right now. Many folks aren't buying new homes so much as they are trying desperately not to lose their old one. If they aren't in short sale or foreclosure, they're underwater on their mortgage or in a situation where a mortgage isn't even a distant possibility.

Trust me, I know what that's like; I've been there.

In regard to this house, I don't want to be all, "And this! Could be yours! If you were me!"

I'd rather just share the funny stuff, ergo today I'm rolling out...


When we ran across our house on the MLS, we immediately wrote it off. We didn't want to see it and I put "the wallpaper will haunt my dreams" in the comments section. But eventually we switched realtors and our new lady brought us here. And although we still hated the wallpaper, she helped us look past it to see an impeccably maintained home, with solid construction and a new roof and a yard the dogs would love.

At this point they brought me out to see the house, and both Jen and Fletch made all sorts of noises about the plans they were making design-wise, the desire to bring in a professional for guidence, they bandied about terms like "color story" and "design plan" and "wallpaper removal".

I would like to point out that later that night I called our friend Penny and made the following Nostradamus-like predictions:

1.  Jen and Fletch would buy this house, and be happy there.
2. They would end up keeping a huge percentage of both hideous wallpapers and tragic window treatments, as the love for the house and an affinity for kitsch would eventually be the downfall of future design.
3.  In either the packing or unpacking they would find the video camera purportedly stolen by a former cleaning service, prompting the cancellation of said service.

So here we are. Now let's get on with the show.

Did I say elephant in the living room? I meant elephant in the great room.

Yeah, it's a curtain and not wallpaper but I felt it had to be seen. Also, the more I live with this piece, the more it charms me. These curtains are pulling me in... not unlike the light in Poltergeist.

It is not a window treatment.  It is the curtain to the sideshow of the Circus of the Criminally Insane.  And slightly shiny, which doesn't really come across in this photo.  On the upside, if one is going to be possessed of five cats, providing this volume of tassels for their enjoyment will only save you money in cat toys in the long run.

Also, in terms of curtains, I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I like these in the master.

Not bad, right? Pretty matchy-matchy with our stuff, too.

More tassels.  But she is right, of all of the violations, this is very minor.

(BTW, I'm sorry about how blurry the photos are. I think I got my iPhone sweaty yesterday when I was outside.)

(Also not pictured, enormous muddy paw prints all over the duvet. Loki likes to get wet, dig for chipmunks, and then jump on the beds. It's AWESOME.)

Anyway, this is where the curtains go a bit off the rails.

And by "a bit off the rails" Jen means to say "holy shit, it's Satan's golf pantaloons!".
You would think I'd be all over pink and green striped balloon valances. You would be wrong. Just because I collect Barbies doesn't mean I want to live in her Dream House.

Methinks she doth protest too much....and if you think I am lying, do ask that she post pics of the guest room, which looks like it could be Barbie's Suite at Betty Ford.

Now we'll move onto the first paper you see once you walk in.

This isn't so awful, except that it's frigging everywhere - in the foyer, down the hall to the bedrooms, down the hall to the kitchen, up the stairs, and in the loft area. And for the record, I don't own a single thing that matches powder blue flowers.

This also, not so bad.  Especially considering what comes later....

Hey, at this point of the tour is anyone hungry? What would you prefer?


Perhaps some kind of game bird?

Fortunately in my dining room, you don't have to choose.

Again, this is some of the stuff that made me bark with laughter when I first saw it, but now at night the room almost takes on a certain glow and... the light, Jen! Run away from the light!

Jen fails to mention the entire lack of SCALE in this print.  When is the last time you saw a raspberry three times the size of a phesant's HEAD? 

NOTE:  Dear Wallpaper Designers, Please step away from the crack pipe. Thank you, Stacey


Pretty tame comparatively, right? I think so, too. Expect this to stick around for a while.

The colors on this are in fact pretty tame, and it is in good shape, so I gave it my tentative approval. I also said to stay away from embroidery in the towels and accessories, we shall see if that sank in...

The next couple of entries aren't so bad either on their own, but when you put them together with everything else... I'm not sure I understand the statement they were making as a whole.

Unless that statement is, "Let's see how much unrelated wallpaper we can slap on these walls."

This is the upstairs guest bath.

Nosegays, wherefore art there nosegays?

In the context of the rest of the room, it works. For now.

And this is the laundry room.

The walls don't have pink spots. I think that's a function of my sweaty iPhone.

Were it not for the stupid border, I'd be fine with this bathroom's paper, too.

However, this room becomes less okay when you see the related bedroom wallpaper.

What prompts a person to say, "You know what this room needs? Eight thousand powder blue ribbons repeating all over the walls."

Please feel free to do your best Nancy Kerrigan impersonation here, crying, "Whhhhhhyyyyyyy? Whhhhhhyyyyyyyy? WWWWHHHHHHHHYYYYYY?" I know I have.

Also, not pictured? The two inch thick Cookie Monster blue shag carpeting.

Also not pictured?  Stacey weeping openly, and begging Jen and Fletch to at least consider painting over it...I feel like one of those Toddlers in Tiaras is going to pop out of a closet with her little dentures gnashing and her mascara running, going all Chucky in this suite.

Now, you epileptics in the group might want to avert your eyes for this.

Staring at this, I can see through time.

Can you see through time to a place where some interior designer sat in front of a pile of cocaine and this wallpaper swatch saying "THIS ONE!  IT HAS TO BE THIS ONE!  BUT IT NEEDS SOMETHING...."

Yet to get the full effect, you need to check out the border, too.

"...CHINESE MUSICIAN BORDER!!!!  sssssnnnnnnnnnnnniiiiiiffffffffffffffff"

The room is so visually stimulating that it's hard to keep ones balance while using the powder room. I tell girls to spot the border and boys to stare at the towels. So far no casualties, but it was touch and go for a minute on Labor Day.

I told Jen in no uncertain terms to lock this room during parties, as even the most minimally tipsy guest is going to vomit Ro-Tel dip the moment they enter this powder room. 

Hmmm.  POWDER room.  (see note on coke-sniffing designer)

Seriously, those beige birds are looking pretty good right now, aren't they?

And finally, for those who didn't believe me when I mentioned that the kitchen wallpaper was covered in monkeys perpetrating hate crimes against Asian men...

Ghastly.  And vaguely racist.
As for this stuff?

The light is dangerous! Don't go near it! Don't even look at the light!

Wait for it, wait for it....

Too late.

I already love it.

Told you so. 

(Notice she didn't mention that she already had some wooden monkey art that matches it nicely.)

Anyway, hope to see you guys tonight or Thursday.

As do I.

You'll recognize me because I'll be the gal holding paint swatches.

Also?  They found the video camera :)

In all seriousness, despite my fun at their wallpaper's expense, it is a lovely house, and both Jen and Fletch are all glowy since moving, and I wish them years of happiness.

And I promise, on behalf of all who love them, I'll keep working on the wallpaper issue....


  1. I laughed so hard reading this!!! I love you gals!!!

  2. I may have spilled a glass of water falling off my desk chair snorting myself stupid in laughter at the "Satan's golf pantaloons!" comment.

    The vignette of the coke-sniffing interior designer was priceless. *happy sigh* It perfectly summizes the only origin of that wallpaper.

  3. that's twice i've cringed over the monkey and asian man wallpaper! DO.NOT.WANT.

    I hope there is a great turn out tonight, the book is SO great. The characters are so endearing, I couldn't stop reading. Downloaded it to my blackberry (even though I pre-ordered a copy)in order to read it in places where I can't hold a book *coughWORKcough* read it in under 24 hours!

    I'm currently on Fate's $hit list and have a monster cold, I am bummed to not be able to attend tonight's reading/signing.
    I hope every fan in the chicago-land area makes an appearance, Stacey deserves a nice big crowd!

  4. This makes me even more sad that I didn't win lunch with Stennifer AND that I do not live in Chicago and cannot participate in the hilarity that is sure to ensue tonight :( hoping you will be having signings in NYC area soon

  5. I think the sinus-enema I just got from snorting raspberry seltzer will do wonders for my allergies.

    Also, what if we all chipped in and brought you to New York? We could invite both of you, and set up a reading / cupcake party in the wine bar across the street from me.

    Yes please?
    Thanks for keeping me laughing ladies!!

  6. Enjoyed Jen's original and your repost. Especially loved "Satan's pantaloons." Will have to share that with my husband.

    Any chance you ladies will come to South Carolina? I know the perils that await in the Deep South, but I'd love to see you in person. Your books are great, and you always make me laugh. Thanks!

  7. I think a life-sized elephant from FAO Schwartz would be a perfect addition to the elephants on crack curtains.

  8. Don't know which is funnier, the fact that someone (please God, let it only be one person) hung all of that or your comments. Thanks for the laughs ~ live right down the street from the Book Cellar but too chicken to sign up, despite unbelievable spelling skills. May creep in to watch.

  9. Let me say this right off the bat: I love Chinoiserie. Love, love, love. And it's perfect for the period of Jen's house.

    Whether it's perfect for Jen is another matter altogether.

    But I hate wallpaper borders. Hated them in the 80s, hated them in the 90s, still hate them now. Also, Jen's photograph doesn't do that blinding pink patterned powder room paper (alliteration!) justice. It's incredible to me that anyone could use paper like that in a room without a window. It's like some exotic form of Chinoiserie torture.

    I bought your book and got a copy for my iPad, so that means that on Thursday night, you have to autograph my book. And my iPad.

    See you at Old Orchard!

  10. Oh my God! I died (and then laughed hysterically) when I saw all that hideous wallpaper! Stacey, Go Now, help them! Rent her a steamer to get it off the walls. Although, it does go nicely with the gun cabinet.

    Seriously, whomever (whoever? That was the one grammatical rule I never could grasp) designed that crap needs to either go to rehab or be shot. That's just not ok!

    Love the post and can't wait to read your new book!

  11. This was hilarious, especially since the powder room wallpaper almost sent me into a fit of vertigo on Labor Day weekend.

    And, by the way, I doubt that Fletch will be giving Lee any lapdances, however I'm extremely concerned about the strong potential for gunplay.

    GREAT reading last night!! XO

  12. Oh the monkeys took me over the edge. You both kill me. I wish I were in Chicago to get to a reading. Have fun and congrats!

  13. Thanks for this hysterical post Stacey. I am so disappointed that I could not attend your reading last night with all of these fabulous women. If I'd won your contest, I would have begged you to invite Gina to lunch.

  14. Burned my hand from my hot tea as I was reading along in both of your minds. You two truly have one of those friendships that get to the core of each other. I fully support more cross-blogging such as this.

  15. I didn't think any post could top Jen's wallpaper post from yesterday but I was wrong.

  16. I nearly lost it when I read your comment on the pink stripey curtains "holy shit, it's Satan's golf pantaloons!"

    And my coworker & I have decided the master bedroom curtains look like the inside of a coffin.

  17. DYING LAUGHING!!!! Wish I was in the area so I could see you both together.....will settle for continuing to read everything you both write - LOVE!

  18. I am so happy your predictions came true. And I too have that bestie. Just yesterday I told her that her youngest's father is a douchecanoe. Ah, BFF's.

  19. OMG. "snnnnnnnifffffff" = Hilarious. Love you ladies and the books you write. Love that you support each other!

  20. I read this during a conference call. Thank God for mute!!

  21. Satan's golf pantaloons meet wooden monkey art.

    WHO "happens" to own wooden monkey art?? I like Jen...but now she's scaring me. ((0.o))

  22. Thanks for this! Absolutely fabulous. You made my day.

  23. Please, oh PLEASE come to the Washington D.C. area (and please bring Jen with you) and I promise to take you out for drinks and cupcakes and other delicous food. I just got your book on my lunch hour today and I can't wait til I can leave here and go home and begin devouring your latest!

  24. Ahhh, the golf pantaloons. What an image.

    And Jen, despite her sensitivity toward those who are straining to hold onto their homes, needs to CELEBRATE the new home!! We can all be happy for her, and those who can't, well, they need to read more witty chick-lit for mood-improvement purposes.

  25. So incredibly funny!!! Laughed so hard co-workers are asking what the hell I'm reading.

    You girls crack me up.

  26. OMG! I am in hysterics! My friend and I kid each other that she is Stacy and I am Jen and our wit is so very similar it is scary (did I mention we ahve been friends for 30 years-since the 80's and the bad fashion that we oh so loved?). I can't wait for her to read this then try to text me through the tears running down her cheeks from laughing her BUTT off! lol

  27. I can't wait until I can work "Satan's golf pantaloons" into conversation. Too fricking hilarious.

  28. I love you guys! And since my good friend Kate is too timid to ask (yeah, Kate, I'm talking to YOU), we'd like you and Jen to consider moving to San Diego, where we live. I think you might be unaware of the fact that you and Jen are me and Kate...except Jen owns guns. True story. PLEASE consider a joint book tour out here!!!!

    P.S. Kate's house had (yes, past-tense) wallpaper that actually rivaled Jen's. There were animal-print roosters and fairies. Commence being horrified. :)

  29. You had me at "Satan's Golf Pantaloons".

    Also, somebody had a serious wallpaper problem.

  30. OMG - that master bedroom curtain DOES look like coffin lining. ewww, ewww, ewwww - despite Jen's obsession with Twilight it must go!

  31. I thought Jen's post was too funny for words... you up the anti.

  32. It's a good thing she loves the 80's. This is where Laura Ashley goes to die.

  33. I am so glad that Jen linked to your blog. I am ordering your book tonight. I laughed out loud at so many things in this post. Consider me a new reader!

  34. I concur with all your comments -- I saw the wallpaper for myself last week and pronounced it all kinds of awesome. I particularly didn't believe her protesting of the green-and-pink window treatment because it's so very Jen! She should go all Sound of Music on it and make a proper pair of shorts.

    Congrats on the new book coming out!

  35. I am right in the middle of Good Enough to Eat thanks to Jen- LOVING it. You two are too funny- I am so glad to find your blog!

  36. LOVE IT!!!! You both rock!!!!

  37. ok, I just about pissed my pants reading this! too funny!
    and I just started your book last night....lovin' it!

  38. You guys are awesome, if you ever get to the Retiree capitol of America (Sarasota, FL) I'd love to take you guys out for drinks! Much love to ya both!

  39. I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You ~Ron

  40. LOVED your take on this Stacey--a classic! They're never taking down any of that wallpaper, are they? Ohboy.

  41. Loved your book! Like so many of my favorites, I was really sad to have it end. I hope the characters are going to turn up again? I think there's a lot of unfinished business and I'd like to know what happens.

  42. Must say that reading BOTH posts at the same time had me laughing until I cried. Just what I needed today -- THANKS :-)

  43. I have had a bad day and then I read your and Jen's blogs. Thanks....I needed a good laugh.

    The "Ssssssnnnnnnniiiiiffffffff" was the best.


  44. My partner and I just moved to a new/old house and I can honestly say that I prefer our Redbone Coonhound pee decorated walls (some idiot painted over it w/o using Kilz, so it can be seen, the dogs/cats can smell it, but it can't be washed off - thanks Freddie Mac!) to most of that wallpaper.

    Wow, imagine how many hours all that hideous wallpapering took, and when they were done, the people thought to themselves, "Perfect! The house now looks fabulous!" Yikes.

    Our little cat rescue would adore the tassels though, but they wouldn't remain attached for more than a week or two. After that, they'd be chased across the floors for months. I suppose that makes it a win-win situation, no tassels hanging and the cats are happy.

    I'm sorry, I can't be like the rest of the commenters and ask you to come to my new town for a reading. We, uh, don't have a bookstore. (we DO have Heidi Fleiss though - admittedly not an even trade) Not only that, I think we have more books than the library. I did enjoy reading about you in Jen's last(?) book with all of the restaurant visits, so Amazon will have to be my friend so I can get your book.

  45. I love you guys!!! truly hilarious!!! thanks for brightening my day!

    PS Barnes and Noble Clifton, NJ!!!

  46. Ahahaha!!! I've loved Jenn for her insane sense of humor since I picked up her first book. After reading this entry, I can see why you guys are friends. :D

  47. "...Monkeys perpetrating hate crimes against asian men" Funniest line ever!