Archive for August, 2010

August 30, 2010

Extra Monday Bonus!

In addition to the outrageous night of carousing with Poppy that included a write-up on a Vancouver news outlet, Project: Purse and Boots is on the BlogHer Home Page! Please go read and show your love of all things sequins and zebra-stribed. (Ok, you maybe don’t have to go quite that far with the love showing, just the reading.)

The article is here.

And I am wobbly with excitement.

August 30, 2010

Poppy and the Paparazzi

Part of what you get when you Host Pursey Galore is a fictionalized version of the night’s festivities. However, Poppy almost didn’t need one according to the reporter from the Vancouver Voice who wrote this article about the night. Poppy turned up the heat for her Party Night fundraising while raising some eyebrows and heart rates.

Here’s the Made For TV version.

The limo arrived early. This show of punctuality was probably an effort to be thoughtful, but really, Poppy thought it a bit of a pain and bordering on pushy. Poppy didn’t care to be pushed by anyone, so instead of heading down to the stretch, she poured another round of the bubbly.

Poppy’s drinking companions, Jessica, of the New England Jessicas, Callie, heiress to the local tabloid news empire, Lisa, who inherited a fortune from her third husband, and Heather, who had money but no one really knew why, threw back the champagne like water. Jessica hollered down to the driver to keep his pants on, despite the fact that they were nowhere near off, and tossed a twenty out the window just to make herself seem more polite. She looked back at her partners in crime and said, “Damn, he looks just Bradley Cooper. I should have thrown a hundred.”

Once the glasses were good an empty, they made their way down the curved stairway and into the opened door of the limousine. Poppy gave the driver an affectionate slap on the cheek before climbing inside and popping the cork on the waiting bottle.

At the second stop on the night’s tour, Callie took a long look at Poppy’s backside. “Girl, you’ve got lines.”

Poppy craned her neck and tried to survey her own caboose. “Like hell I do.”

Jessica took a rear view and agreed with Callie. “Yep. There’s furrows in the field there, babe.” Lisa and Heather nodded sympathetically.

Poppy sighed and sauntered off to the ladies room, returning in few moments much smoother.

“Where’d you stash your knickers?”

Poppy held up her sequined bag and swung it around her head like a lasso. “C’mon, women, next stop.”

The night’s itinerary included several of the high-brow swanks with the $22 martinis. But after a few of these, even the entertaining names – “Area 51 On the Rocks” and “Cross-Dressing Elvis Impersonator” – didn’t hold the women’s interest.

After bidding Lisa and Heather good-night as they headed to an after-hours rave, Callie called to the driver, “Hey, Frank”…which was not his name, “Where do you go when YOU want to put a few away?”

“You don’t want to go where I go, miss.” Was Frank-whose-name-really-wasn’t-Frank’s reply.

Three eyebrows raised in unison.

“Take us there,” ordered Poppy.

Not-Frank’s choice was a dive that was only a handful of millibars away from needing oxygen tanks. Dark, crowded, lit only by neon beer signs hanging on the far wall. The patrons were rough, lively, and green from the glowing bar.

The women grinned and elbowed their way to the bar, foregoing drinks with catchy names in favor of drinks with higher proofs.

After a few rounds, the trio decided to wrap up their night of loud talk and liquor. Poppy reached into her bag to retrieve some cash and as she withdrew her hand, a whisper of lace floated to the floor.

“Damnit,” she announced, bending over to retrieve her lacy unmentionables before they were trod upon.

“Poppy!!” someone’s voice called loudly. She paused, mid-bend, and looked up. The flash of a camera immediately blinded her. As she tried to blink her eyesight back, she heard a man’s loud laughter and the bang of the bar door being slammed quickly open.

“Hey!” Shouted Jessica who took off after the photographer. Callie joined in the chase.

Poppy scooped up her undies, threw a wad of bills on the bar that settled their tab many times over and ran after her girls.

As she reached the sidewalk, she saw Jessica explaining what had happened to Frank-who-looked-like-Bradley-Cooper and nearly tripped over a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s abandoned on the street. Callie’s Manolo Blahnik’s. She picked them up.

Callie reappeared from around a corner a moment later shaking her head. “He’s gone. He had a car ready.”

Poppy handed Callie back her shoes and put a hand on one hip. “Bending over in a dive bar picking up my own underwear from the floor. Couldn’t have had a better shot if I’d staged it myself.”

“Do you want to try and find him, miss?” Asked Bradley/Frank.

Poppy exhaled hard. “No. We won’t catch him.” She turned back to the limo, not waiting for the door to be opened for her. “This time though, they damn well better get my age right. Last time they believed me when I said I was almost fifty.” She looked at the handsome chauffer. “Do I look anywhere near fifty?” She asked dangerously.

The chauffeur shook his head decisively. “Off by at least 30 years, miss.”

Poppy smiled and opened the last bottle of champagne. “Damned straight.”

August 25, 2010

Shouts to the Purse

A dear friend of mine named  Holly – an in-person friend – is taking Pursey Galore to Vegas…on New Year’s Eve!

Which, you know, is really PG in her Element.

And she wrote up a lovely post about it today, it is here.

Feel free to read, if ya like.

Also, BlogHer editor Rita Arens, who writes a lovely blog of her own called Surrender Dorothy, asked for a write-up about the project. Which I somehow managed to fit into the last couple of days and send off this morning. I will make a lot of noise about THAT when it runs, you can be sure.

Loud. That’s me. Just like The Purse!

Which at this very moment is somewhere between California and Washington where it will be playing hard with Poppy from Funny Or Snot. And if you’ve known Poppy for eleven seconds, you know that this is destined to be a good time.

Juicy details to follow. And with Poppy, I may not even need to write up a fictionalized version. It’s entirely possible that the unadorned story will make the local news.

August 24, 2010

The Stroke

In sharp contrast to yesterday’s post of much ridiculousness is this very poignant story from Tracy at Sellabit Mum. This is a reminder of the reason Project: Purse and Boots is important, in addition – I hope – to being fun. These stories bring home the reality of stroke and what people who raise money for the ASA are trying to prevent.

Tracy, this is an incredible story, and I thank you for sharing it.

I remember quite vividly the visits to my great-grandmother’s house. I was little – 3,4,5 years old and we went to visit her often. I hated those visits. It was not a fun thing to do, so why did my mom feel so obligated?

Her house smelled like old lady. Or what a 4 year old would define an old lady smell as. Urine, cigarette smoke, dust, sickness. She was paralyzed from her strokes and disfigured from her mouth cancer. She lived at home with her aid. She was either in a hospital bed or wheelchair.

This was not a grandmother to me – she didn’t give hugs or smiles, she didn’t dig in her purse and give me a 1/2 stick of double-mint gum – or juicy fruit if I had been especially good. She was sick, sad from losing her husband so suddenly not too long before, and she was miserable.

I didn’t want to hug her. I would spend my time playing with her little figurines in the windowsills and upon the shelves or I would hope my Aunt Gail would visit with us, so we could play together in the stairway landing of my great-grandmother’s old duplex.

I would hope we wouldn’t have to come again, but we always did. And I would pass the time as best I could while my mom gently did her grandmother’s hair, chatting about the latest news and neighborhood gossip, making a meal, and mainly just spending time with her knowing her time was short in this world.

I am sure my mother explained to me what had happened to great-grandma at the time, but I don’t remember that. I just remember being 4 and going to a scary house and visiting a scary old woman that I did not recognize.


This January, my daughter’s grandmother suffered a massive stroke. Their grandmother that they see the most, who lives in town and treats them to warm hugs, days of coloring, lunches of their choice, and unlimited M&M’s.

When they walked into her hospital room on that January evening, I really thought they would go running towards her and into her warm embrace. But instead, the room went uncomfortably quiet as they stood frozen. Their young bodies were completely and unnaturally frozen as they stared and tried to see their grandma in the woman in the hospital bed – whose eyes were distant, body immobile, and words delayed. Instead of running towards her, they fled to the hallway – leaving me tearful and helpless to explain as my own childhood memories came flooding to the surface. As they rushed to the hallway, I went to my step-mom’s bedside and held her hand.

Eloise silently sobbed when we left saying “I didn’t think she would be so sick, it didn’t even look like her. Tell me she will get better.”


And she is getting better. Therapy is intense. Progress in slow. But my heart is warm and happy to see the hugs and kisses return. To see the girls look forward to the visits, to enjoy driving her wheelchair around, making her pictures to bring sunshine to her room, sharing their tales of the week and bringing treats.

We are mortal – it is not a secret we need to keep from our kids. It is so important to teach our kids what love is like when it is easy and we are healthy and strong, but also how important love is when those who love us need it most.


August 22, 2010

The Debut of Pursey Galore

So you want to know how a small-time purse gets in trouble in the big city, do ya?

read more »

August 21, 2010

Next Stop: San Francisco

“Oh frabjious day! Calloo, Callay!” She chortled in her joy.

Today is Pursey Galore’s first trip. Off to the City by the Bay.

Is she nervous? Heck no. How can you be nervious when you’re covered in zebra-striped sequins? Can’t happen!

PG will be hanging around today at Bloggy BootCamp San Francisco with the SITSGirls and some amazing blogging women.

Then later she’ll be partying hard at Slide, a swank nightclub.

*I* may not belong in the swank nightclub, but Pursey Galore? She was born for this.

So stay tuned for pictures and highlights of the debut come Monday.

I may even include a few facts for fun.

August 18, 2010

And the winner is… And the Announcement

Things tightened up at the end…it was neck and neck but, Pursey Galore is the new name of the haughty handbag.

Mostly I’m excited by all the James Bond jokes that can now be made.

Thank you kindly Alexandra at Good Day Regular People for your (one of a kazillion) admission!

And for those of you concerned that not picking Bag Lady Gaga has dissolved any chance of the Grande Dame of Shockpop hopping on board the Tacky Express, well…I think our chances were slim, regardless.

And now for the announcement.

If I had to point to inspirations for this project, it would be reading so much about Her Bad Mother’s Tutu’s for Tanner movement, and by the Red Dress project that The Bloggess launched a few months back. Watching women moved so deeply by things important to them resonated in deep ways. I’ve let both women know that they lit a spark that I hope will fan some nice flames on behalf of stroke prevention.

Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess wrote back.

So I am excited and thrilled to announce that Pursey Galore will wrap her year of fun, frivolity and fundraising by meeting up with The Red Dress at BlogHer11.

If you can imagine me doing cartwheels and NOT falling down, that’d be spiffy cause in my head I am doing cartwheels. (Although in my head, yes, I am falling down.)

And…I think our count is now twenty-three Purse Parties and some awesomelicious additional ideas for support, promotion and raising of the funds.

We are a damned bloody awesome community and I am so very  honored and proud to be part of it.

August 17, 2010

What’s in a name?

First, some great news: We are already at the half-way point for Purse Parties! Twenty-two parties!

I can’t tell you how proud I am to be part of such a community with amazingly bad taste in accessories.

Very special and heartfelt thanks to Molly at Life With the Campbells for telling her husband’s story here. A very difficult story to share, but I am very honored that she chose to tell it here.

So the Purse will be hanging out in San Francisco with me this weekend, meeting Nicole at In These Small Moments, Eileen at Bringing Up Bronwyn, Jessica at Bern This, the SITS Girls, and fingers crossed for Rachel at Mommy Needs a Vacation before being popped into a bubble mailer and sent to Poppy over at Funny or Snot.

The Purse is going to spend the year having way more fun than me.

My life? Work. Cleaning. Cooking. Work. Vacuuming cat hair. Work.

The Purse’s life? Travel. Party. Travel. Party. Travel. Party.

The Purse is the handbag equivalent of Paris Hilton.

According to an unsurprisingly vocal contingent of Hostesses, the Purse needs a name. Apparently just calling it “The Purse” does not communicate the necessary je ne sais what. After hearing lots of suggestions, I’ve narrowed it down to two finalists. And now, you need to vote.

So what’s it gonna be?

August 15, 2010

The Gift

One of the things that I wanted this project to do was to give a voice to people who have suffered at the merciless hands of a stroke. It is such a devastating thing, and sometimes we need to send those stories out into the world so others can offer love and good thoughts, or to teach people what we have learned.

I am honored that people are choosing to share their stories here. They are hard stories, but it is so important that they be told. Today, Molly from Life with the Campbells tells her husband’s story. It is amazing, and painful, and wonderful.

We have all read about people who have survived disaster and triumphed. I always thought that those folks were strong, heroic and fine. I admired and applauded them. But I never suspected that I would be called upon to join their ranks. I had no faith in my abilities to overcome adversity.  But in one second, my life turned upside down.

The phone rang in my office at four in the afternoon. I was wrapping things up, getting ready to go home, but I wasn’t in a hurry, because my husband Charlie was golfing, and on those days, I didn’t have to cook dinner. At the other end of the line was our minister. A member of Charlie’s foursome, he was warm and low key, but he informed me that he was at the emergency room with my husband, who had “fainted” on the course. But just in case, he thought that it would be wise if I got over there immediately. Just a “precaution.”

On my way over, I knew in my gut that something horrible was happening. I arrived in the ER and was ignored as docs and nurses scuttled around. Charlie looked normal on the gurney, smiling and saying to everyone the same thing, over and over: “Hi. I am fine.” He was obviously NOT fine, but I still knew nothing, and no one offered me any information. I felt like a bystander. But then one of the docs said to another something about “Stroke,” and I felt as if I had been shot.

Finally, someone took notice of me, the wife. A doctor turned to me and confirmed who I was. His face softened, and he informed me that Charlie had had a Stroke, and that they had called in a neurologist. They were rushing Charlie up for an MRI or CAT scan or something. I was in such a state of shock, I don’t really remember.

From that point onward, I was surrounded by a chaplain, who in her heart of hearts wanted to help me, other doctors, and some kind of “spokesperson” for the whole group, who tried to ease me into my new world of decisions, pending tragedy, and the need for strength. I was urged to get on the phone and call my family. I was told to get my daughters around me immediately.

In a daze, I called somebody. I still don’t remember who I called, or in what order. I remember trying to reach my daughter in Los Angeles, who was starting a new job that day. Her old employer told me not to worry, and that they would get her home to me. I then thought of my other child, a senior in high school. How would I tell her? How would I help her? How was I going to keep on functioning?

The next hours were filled with decisions about Charlie’s treatment. A new drug called TPa was available for strokes caused by clots, and Charlie qualified. His clot was completely blocking his carotid artery. I had forty minutes to decide whether to use the drug. TPa is a miracle drug, but has very high risks associated with it. By this time, with my younger daughter clinging to my side, we had to make a decision which might help Charlie, might not, and might even kill him.

We decided to go ahead. The drug was administered, and Charlie went immediately into the intensive care unit. Friends began arriving, and the rest of my life began.

Charlie’s stroke had been brewing for a long time. The clot that blocked his artery had been growing probably for years. The week before the stroke he had a blinding headache, which I now realize was a harbinger of the stroke to come. The damage to his brain was massive, and Charlie’s language and comprehension centers were gone.

As a result, Charlie had what is called “aphasia,” which has many forms. Aphasia is a general term for language loss. Charlie had more than one type of aphasia, and cumulatively they had two results: Charlie could say words very clearly, but they made no sense when strung together. He couldn’t understand what was said TO him, either. He was locked in a jumbled world in which everyone around him spoke a foreign language, and he could not make himself understood. He also could not recognize people, except for very close friends and family.

The doctors were of two minds. The TPa had not affected the clot, but it also had not killed him. One group of docs of gave up and told me to prepare myself for a life of care giving and learning how to interpret Charlie’s needs. Another group was very reassuring, telling me that in six months, no one but I would know that my husband had suffered a stroke.

With such polar advice, I was torn. I was battered. I was dead inside. This had l transpired over a period of 48 hours, and my mind and body were reeling. It was at this point that my daughters and I sat at the kitchen table, and I wondered if it would have been better if Charlie had died. I was fifty. He was fifty seven. How would we both deal with the years ahead of us? How could life be worth living if my husband couldn’t communicate? I thought about my charming Charlie, who loved people, loved “schmoozing,” and loved life, reduced to needing me to translate even the simplest things.

My twenty-three year old daughter said, “Mom, this is a gift.”

I clung to that. Through the weeks of rehabilitation in which Charlie and the speech therapist hacked their way to new pathways in his brain. Weeks in which Charlie used the “F” word more than any others. I held on to the “gift” through worries about finances, mounds of medical paperwork, and all the errands I had to run. The “gift” never seemed to materialize during those days of grief for the husband I had lost. For Charlie was gone. In his place was a guy I didn’t know, and sometimes didn’t even like. This man had no sense of humor, no gleam in his eye, and no depth.

The optimistic doctors were right, though. With extremely hard work, Charlie’s brain rewired, and speech and understanding returned. By six months, he could speak almost normally, and he could track conversations, although it took all his powers of concentration to do so, and he was exhausted by his efforts.

I was not prepared for stage two of the Stroke. As Charlie recovered and began to realize that his life was indeed not at an end, he experienced a transformation. He became giddy with joy, childlike in his appreciation of the world, and he literally bubbled over with enthusiasm. This manic personality was offensive to me, drawing attention to us in public, causing me embarrassment, and widening the gulf between us. I felt tremendous guilt. How could I feel this way? Why couldn’t I embrace the new Charlie? Instead, I lapsed further into mourning for the husband I had lost. I became hostile at times, depressed at others.  But in the back of my mind was the “gift.”

It took about four years of therapy. I had to consider my own needs, and contemplate a life without Charlie. Charlie had to decide if he wanted to work to regain part of his old “self” while holding on to his newfound joy in living. Our commitment to marriage was stronger than the Stroke, and we fought our way back to one another.

With friends, therapists, family, and our own fortitude, we made it. Charlie will tell anyone who will listen that if you can survive a Stroke, you can get your life back. I tell anyone who will listen that the “loyal wife and helpmeet” is often a myth, and that tragedy brings a load of negative emotions with it. I hated every minute of the journey. I was not always positive and supportive. Caregivers often despise their roles.

But now that we are ten years out, I know that there was a “gift.” We now understand each other better than we ever did, pre-Stroke.  Charlie does only the things he loves doing, and he is busier than he has ever been. I emerged at the end of the tunnel as a writer. Life doesn’t hurt any more. We have perspective. We have wisdom. But we didn’t always believe what that twenty-three year old girl knew: this whole journey was indeed a “gift.”

August 13, 2010

Name Calling.

Now, it never occurred to me when looking at this flamboyant piece of Grade A Tack Handbagge to give it a name. In my head it’s always been The Purse.

Which I know sounds sort of menacing, but really, I’m sure this degree of sequins is outlawed in at least three states and is the stuff that Vegas horror films are made of. (That’s a genre, right? Vegas horror films?)

But apparently other people who have not had to try to fall asleep while knowing it was sitting in a closet….sparkling…can’t really feel any menace from it and wanted it to have a funny name.

I’m certain I’m being unfair to The Purse, after all, it’s decided to give itself up for charity. Risking lip-gloss smudge and wine stain and potentially open flame (did I ever tell you that I had a purse set on fire once in a nightclub in southern England? I did.) in order to raise money for a hugely worth cause. So I guess it deserves a name.

What’s in a name? Would not a rose by any other name still have their price jacked up on Valentine’s Day?

So. A name.

Liz tossed out Lady Gaga. Or, just Gaga. I think due to the immediate emotional bondage The Purse must surely feel for the shockpop goddess. This was seconded by several eager constituents.

I weighed in saying that I would consider Gaga, if someone could make a fun purse pun out of it. Because I am irrational that way and I’m into cute names. Project: Purse and Boots won out over “Broads and Bags for Brains.” But that is mostly because Gigi talked some sense into me.

So Gigi threw out Louis GA tton. Which elicited major groanage, despite being funny. Then threw out there, “Don’t be shady, grab The Lady. Gaga that is.” (Does anyone else worry that she is able to come up with these things so easily?)

Jenndola tossed out GAGAucci and only distance kept her from being whapped with an imaginary rolled up newspaper. Some things just should NOT be encourage.

Then KLZ announced that our choices were either Mathilda or Broomhilda, indicating that the name was clearly needing to be an homage to cosmic irony. Now, I’m all for cosmic irony. But I’m not sure my Diva-sisters will totally get their Stella grooves going with Broomhilda hanging on their arms.

But I could be wrong.

So toss out some opinionage people. Despite my fervent love for KLZ, Lady Gaga is winning.