Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me – In Stores June 3!

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My next book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time, comes out four months from today. Ahhhhhh!!!

I know I’ve mentioned the book on this blog, but I don’t feel like I’ve given you the full details yet. And now, suddenly, the release is around the corner. When did that happen?

I’m so so SO excited about this book. I’ve included the full jacket copy below, but let me just say that any of you out there who have ever read People, coveting Jennifer Aniston’s arms or Jennifer Garner’s seemingly perfect marriage or Beyonce’s, um, everything, will relate to it (I hope). My editor once called it The Happiness Project meets Us Weekly, and I’d say that’s the highest compliment there is.

I’m so excited to have a book coming out in June because I think this might be the ultimate beach read (sorry for the self-promotion but….). A self-improvement memoir with a dose of celebrity worship? Just what you’re looking for, right? I hope so!

A charming memoir brimming with wit and wisdom, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me is a pointed look at our fascination with celebrities, as one woman strives to remake herself in the image of her favorite stars.

What woman hasn’t seen pictures of Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Beyoncé and wished she had their clothes, their abs, their seemingly flawless lives? For Rachel Bertsche, these celebrities are the epitome of perfection—self-assured and effortlessly cool. Yet lately, between juggling her career, her marriage, and her dream of becoming a mother, Bertsche feels anything but put together.

In Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, Bertsche embarks on a quest to emulate her Hollywood role models—while sticking to a budget—to see if they really hold the keys to happiness. While trying to unlock the stars’ secrets, from Sarah Jessica Parker’s wardrobe to Julia Roberts’s sense of calm to—maybe one day—Jessica Alba’s chic pregnancy, Bertsche learns valuable lessons. A toned body doesn’t come easy or cheap, avoiding social media can do wonders for your peace of mind, and confidence is the key accessory for pulling off any outfit. But can she immerse herself in the A-list lifestyle and still stay true to herself? And will her pursuit of perfection really lead to happiness?

You can pre-order Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, iBooks, Google Play or Random House. I’d be so grateful if you would! And stay tuned for more info as the release gets closer.

In the meantime, I’m dying to know: What’s the one celebrity feature you’d most want for yourself? SJP’s wardrobe? Tina Fey’s career? Lena Dunham’s sense of humor? There are so many to choose from… (Also, Gwyneth Paltrow: love or hate? Discuss.)

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How to Escape a Polar Vortex (Or, In My Dreams I am Sarah Jessica Parker)

  

The polar vortex has me in a rut. Nothing too serious, but the past few days have definitely been an “it’s too cold to leave the house so why even change out of my pajamas?” situation.

Such are the dangers of working from home. In spending a year trying to channel my favorite celebrities for my upcoming book Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, I was able get myself in the habit of getting dressed in the morning (I know this shouldn’t even need to be a habit and instead, like, common courtesy, but it’s surprisingly easy to find yourself at 4 pm still in PJs) but polar vortexes throw a wrench in that lifestyle. The temperature was something like -11 degrees yesterday. It hurt to breathe when I left the house to get my diet coke.

As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time daydreaming about vacations. For some reason I can’t stop thinking about Paris, which is strange because it isn’t especially warm there either (though it’s currently 42 degrees, which I’d take in a heartbeat). And my daydreams aren’t even of regular Paris, but specifically of Carrie-Bradshaw-at-the-end-of-Sex-and-the-City Paris. You know, when she’s wearing the striped top with the big rose, or meeting bookstore owners who want to throw her impromptu dinner parties with too much wine. In my daydreams,  I am the one carrying the red umbrella and wearing the polka-dot dress and heels, despite knowing that walking cobblestone streets in heels is difficult and painful and horribly un-graceful and I would most definitely sprain an ankle.

Am I the only one who does this? Does anyone else find themselves fantasizing not just of warmer climates, but of themselves as fictional characters IN those climates? Someone out there has daydreamed of being Audrey Hepburn outside Tiffany’s, right? Or in The Holiday’s version of LA, Kate Winslet-style? Maybe I should just put on some heels and walk around the house. It’s not Paris, but heels may be the lift (har har) I need.

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For or Against? The Celebrity as Lifestyle Expert

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Remember when an actor was just an actor, and a singer was just a singer? Me neither, really, but I’m pretty sure it was a thing once.

Now every celebrity has her own fashion line, or cookbook, or blog empire. It started with Goop, Gwyneth’s (divisive) website/weekly newsletter dedicated to telling regular women how to live as fabulously as she does (spoiler alert: it involves trips to Marrakesh and $90 t-shirts and weekly blow-outs). Heidi Klum followed suit, with Heidi Klum on AOL, “a little bit of everything that I love, including fashion and beauty, fitness and nutrition, lifestyle, entertaining, recipes, parenting and more.” Jessica Alba wrote The Honest Life. Cameron Diaz wrote The Body Book. Just this week I learned that Drew Barrymore is the new editor-at-large for the style website Refinery29 and Rashida Jones is the new relationship columnist for Glamour

Any celebrity who wants to stay in the fame game, it seems, has to have her hand in the “how to be fabulous” business.

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I’m not against this, I don’t think. I subscribe to Goop. I own that Jessica Alba book. I’ll basically do whatever Jennifer Aniston or Kristen Bell or Mindy Kaling tell me to. And I really like Drew Barrymore, so I’m perfectly happy to learn more about her favorite breakfast sandwich. I believe that their lives are more fabulous and exciting than mine, so who am I to turn away from advice, or reject a peek into their daily rituals. If I want to be more like them, that seems a good place to start.

On the other hand… I do wonder what qualifies Gwyneth and Jessica and Drew et al as experts. Just being famous? Having money? Granted the whole “lifestyle expert” title is pretty all-encompassing (I define it as “person who exists”), so really it can be tacked onto just about anyone. Celebrities live really well because they have access and moolah. They have help. And thus they have time. And maybe it’s not exactly fair for them to be telling us how we should live, when most of us are short on the access and the moolah and the help and the time.

But back to that first hand…We are [I am?] hungry for celebrity everything. We devour Us Weekly and People. We watch the Kardashians (did you  know that after Kourtney named her son Mason the name shot up to #2 in the most popular baby names for boys? Number 2!). We tweet at Lena Dunham. If there’s a market for their lifestyle advice, isn’t it ok for the starlets to capitalize on that?

And yet, to that second hand again. I love Rashida Jones. I really do. She’s funny. She rallied against pop-star crotch shots. She also happens to be stunning. But still, what makes her a relationship expert? She’s not married or in a long-term relationship, as far as I know. (I think maybe she’s dating this guy?) She’s not a therapist. She’s just a really smart, funny, beautiful woman. Which isn’t nothing, and maybe qualifies her to give her thoughts about relationships as much as anyone, but when I hear “expert” I want credentials. Maybe that’s just me.

Clearly, I’m torn. At first I was all about the celebrity-as-lifestyle-guru, since I’d like the confidence and togetherness and altogether fabulosity of my favorite celebs. I want to walk down the street and ooze cool instead of my current I-wore-these-sweatpants-to-bed-what-of-it? state. But the market is getting saturated. Now that any beautiful female celebrity can double as a connoisseur of, um, life, I’m getting over it. I mean, how many green juice recipes does one girl need? Just put the kale in the blender and be done with it.

What do you guys think? Do you flock to this sort of celebrity lifestyle content? Is there one celeb in particular who deserves the lifestyle guru title? Or is it all BS? These aren’t rhetorical questions, I really want to know. Do tell!

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Notes on the Golden Globes

credit: NY Mag

The Golden Globes are my favorite awards show of the year. TV + Movies — Boring Sound Editing Awards (sorry sound editors) + Booze = Awesomeness. (My only qualm is that they put supporting roles for mini-series, drama and comedy in one category and call that fair. Monica Potter, Sophia Vergara and {apparently nutso} Jacqueline Bissett should not be lumped together. Apples to oranges. But anyway.)

Last night I was lamenting the fact that I don’t work for Entertainment Weekly (it’s a daily lament, really) and thus have nowhere to publish my incisive critique. Then I remembered… that’s what blogs are for!

Golden Globes 2014. Musings. In no particular order:

1.  Favorite moment of the entire night was during one of those NBC shots before commercial where they try to catch the celebs in candid moments. This one was Sarah Hyland and Taylor Swift air kissing and Sarah says “I love you!” as they part ways. It was like spying on high school girls at prom. With much nicer dresses.

2. Jordan Catalano! I don’t care that Jared Leto has a dirty man bun, he is and always will be Jordan Catalano and he has the piercing blue eyes to prove it. I was just sad that Claire Danes wasn’t nominated for Homeland so we could have the My So-Called Life reunion we’ve all been waiting for.

3. I know I’m not  supposed to say this because these days we’re all expected to talk body acceptance and celebrating real women and all, but OMG the women had the most ridiculously lean and perfectly toned bodies. I feel like I spent half the awards show dissecting their arms and mentally calculating  how much I would have to not eat and how many pushups I would have to do to get them. Even the supposedly “real” bodies of Jennifer Lawrence or Tina Fey were incredible. Thanks, at least, to Tina for acknowledging as much: “For his role for ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ [Matthew McConaughey] lost 45 pounds, or what actresses call, being in a movie.”

4. Tina and Amy are still the celebrity BFFs to beat.

5. The men were unusually handsome. I never understand when red carpet recaps discuss the men, because a tux is a tux is a tux. But this year the boys seemed to glow something extra. Bradley Cooper. Idris Elba. Channing Tatum. Usher. Mark Ruffalo. Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot.

6. That said, I don’t get Johnny Depp. What’s the appeal?

7. Amy Adams’ acceptance speech, when she talked about her daughter, made me cry. I am a giant sap.

8. Emma Thompson took off her shoes and held a martini while she presented. Bravo.

Favorite moments of the night? Did anyone else catch the Hyland-Swift air kiss? Who was snubbed? Who looked great? Let’s recap more below.

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True Story: I Love Kristen Bell

Kristin Bell and Dax Shepard Instagram

You could make a case that I’m a bit of a fair-weather friend when it comes to my imaginary celebrity BFFs.

NPH.

Mindy Kaling.

I play the field a bit, it’s true.

But these days–and forever more–my truest of true celebrity girl-crush won’t-you-be-my-best-friend-pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top is Kristen Bell.

Don’t you just love her?

There’s the whole sloth-adoration thing, which is so amazing that I’m still showing it to people more than a year later.

Then there’s the fact that she is Veronica Mars. But it’s not only that she plays one of the coolest female characters on TV, like, ever. It’s that she loves Veronica as much as I do, and thus campaigned on Kickstarter to get a Veronica Mars movie made. (Coming to theaters in March. Check out the trailer.)

Also, while clearly gorgeous, she didn’t emerge from the first four weeks of motherhood looking as if she never carried a baby. To be clear, she looked hot and fit and quite well-rested for a new mom. But she also looked like maybe she wasn’t quite back to her pre-baby body because, well, she probably had a few more important things to tend to than her six-pack. As she told E! News: “I’m definitely trying to lose [the baby weight] — I want to be clear. But I’m not letting it keep me up at night and I am not letting it become the narrative of my life for the next year.”

And finally, there’s the above photo, of Kristen and hubby Dax Shepard in their Christmas jammies. I love love love them. I love Dax (Crosby!). I love that he got her a sloth for her birthday party. I love that they are in love. Last night when she posted that photo to Instagram I squealed like a schoolgirl and sort of petted my phone in a super stalkery way that made Matt tell me I’d gone to the crazy place.

Oh, and here’s what one friend got me for Christmas. Because she gets me.

Veronica Mars Harry Potter Mug

In this age of Jennifer Lawrence worship, can’t we all just have a Bell moment?

(My next book, Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me: The Pursuit of Happiness One Celebrity at a Time, deals a lot with our celebrity worship culture. Which I clearly buy into. Looking forward to talking shop with you all in these blog parts.)

Should we make a Veronica Mars for President thing happen? Are you all with me? Do you think she’ll read this and come calling? All valid questions, I think. Sound off below.

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Mission Accomplished. And, Oh, I’m Back!

Ahem. Hello again. Anybody out there?

It’s been forever—or eleven months, to be precise—since I’ve written on this blog. I’m not entirely sure the reason why I disappeared. Except that, I think, the blog did its job. I accomplished my goal. After three years, 618 posts and countless girl-dates…I made friends.

Once I established a real-life social network, those issues of friend-making—the good, the bad and the awkward—were suddenly less glaring. I wasn’t constantly wondering how to pick up the girl on the next yoga mat so I could have someone to watch Downton with. (Side note: Has anyone seen Thomas’s appearances on The View? Mr. Barrows is, as James Earl Jones would say, a total hottie mchotterson.) Instead I actually concentrated on my breathing, like a good little yogi. How refreshing!

Slowly, without really deciding to, I let the blog slip. A month passed, then two, then ten. And here we are.

But I miss blogging, and I miss you guys. And I miss human contact since I’m like one of  those hermit writers featured in this weekend’s Styles Section who works from home and barely sees, let alone speaks to, other people during the week.

And, so, the blog is back. I’ll still talk about friending and friendship, because our ever-changing social world is as fascinating as ever. But I’m also going to write about, oh, I don’t know, the Bravermans, or why exclamation points make me crazy, or my next book (lots more info on that in the coming weeks). Instead of coming to you for more advice on how to make new friends, I’m now working on the assumption that you guys are my new friends. So I’ll rant and rave about all the things I would in person, if only you all would just come over for a glass of wine.

Cool? Cool.

It’s hard to update eleven months worth of news in one blog post, so that’s all for now. But to sign off, some new years resolutions:

1) Use fewer exclamation points. (Like I said, they are killing me.)

2) Open my mail. Why do I even still get paper mail? I don’t know, but leaving it in piles on the counter isn’t getting any bills paid.

Let’s get to know each other again. Pretty please? Share your resolutions below?

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Best Friend: Person or Tier?

I can’t stop thinking about this amazing line from The Mindy Project last week. Mindy mentions that her best friend from college, Maggie,  is coming to a party with her, and Danny says he thought Gwen was her best friend from college.

And then this:

“Best friend isn’t a person, Danny. It’s a tier.”

Yes! Oh Mindy, you so get me.

Actually the whole episode was like one 30-minute MWF  blog post—titled “Harry & Sally,” it investigated the “girl and boy as BFF” question—but this was the line that really stuck. And I know it wasn’t just me, because two days after I emailed myself the direct quote so I wouldn’t forget it, my BFF Callie emailed me the very same line. Because it’s true: We are best friends, but I also have my best friends from college, and my best friends from camp, my best friends from work, etc. And so does she.

Men have trouble understanding this. “How many best friends do you have?” is a question I’ve been asked more than once. But the truth is there are a number of irreplaceable people in my life who have all been there for me in my toughest times, or helped me celebrate the happy ones. They are a tier.

I think even I forgot this for a moment when I moved to Chicago. In MWF Seeking BFFI set out on a BFF search because I wanted to find The One. Perhaps I should have instead looked for The Tier. That ‘s what ended up happening, anyway. And I’m better off for it.

So what do you think? Is Mindy right? Is best friend a single person,or a tier? And do you agree that Mindy Kaling should just get out of our heads already? It’s freaky!

Great read alert: Founder and CEO of GirlfriendCircles.com (and leader of my speedfriending adventure) Shasta Nelson’s new book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen! The Guide to a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends, is out tomorrow. If you’re looking to make new friends as an adult, this is the book for you. Check it out!

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