by Randy Cordova)
Bravo TV personality Jenni Pulos has a quick way to sum up her first book, "Grin and Bear It: How to be Happy No Matter What Reality Throws Your Way."
"It's a how-not-to book," says Pulos, who looks fetching in a bear costume on the book jacket. "I thought maybe I could save people a little time by showing them some of the mistakes I've made."
Among her stumbles: There was the public breakdown of her marriage to Chris Elwood, which essentially happened on camera during the 2008 season of "Flipping Out," the TV series in which she is featured with designer Jeff Lewis.
"I'm so glad I went through what I had to go through," says Pulos, who married surgeon Jonathan Nassos in 2012. "I look at my relationship now. I look at my baby girl (Alianna, born in 2013). When you go through a difficult time, you'll know why you went through it someday."
She also talks about growing up in Scottsdale and attending Saguaro High School. Her family owns the Old Spaghetti Factory, where one of her Phoenix area book signings will be held (Changing Hands hosts the other).
After she left the Valley, she struggled in show business. A dream of landing a regular spot on "Saturday Night Live" never materialized, but she allowed friends and family to believe she was successful in Hollywood.
"I was posing like I had made it, when I should have owned it and worked hard for what I wanted instead of just posing and posturing," she says. "I had to start being authentic. On 'Flipping Out,' I was Jeff's assistant, so I obviously hadn't made it."
In fact, she and her ex-husband created "Flipping Out" as a starring vehicle for her. Once Bravo got a look at the pilot, called "The Wannabes," they shifted the show's focus to the world of real estate and tantrum-prone Lewis.
"That was another moment for me that was really hard," she says. "It's like, 'Let's have somebody else who is already successful have the dream I wanted while I step back.' But I'm so glad. It's like you bloom where you are planted. Sometimes your Plan A can be Plan B in disguise."
Indeed, the onetime Saguaro High mascot is now part of the Bravo inner circle. Besides "Flipping Out," she is also featured on "Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis." She counts "Real Housewife" Lisa Vanderpump among her best pals; the latter even brought pooch Giggy to Alianna's baptism. She considers Bravo kingpin Andy Cohen one of her best friends.
"He's the other love of my life," she says. "Even my husband has a crush on Andy Cohen."
Jenni Pulos: 6 p.m. Friday, May 16. The Old Spaghetti Factory, 1418 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Free. 602-257-0380, osf.com. 7 p.m. Monday, May 19. Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. Ticket (admits two) free with book purchase ($24.99). 480-730-0205, changinghands.com.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-444-8849. Twitter.com/randy_cordova.