1. Down in Front

          

    A few weeks ago, I got tickets to see Scarface at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Right next to Paramount Studios, Hollywood Forever is the final resting place for lots of famous people who built Hollywood and whose names we kind of recognize. During the summer, they project films onto the wall of one of the buildings for a crowd of 3,000 drunk and unruly individuals. Seriously. It’s like a gathering of the worst people in the world.

    I made Adam and Hassan go to this because a) it was Scarface b) we live in LA and never do any local stuff and c) it was Scarface. Young Pacino is really hot. The only other time I’d been was last year with my friend Rachel to see Edward Scissorhands. Either it wasn’t nearly as awful last year, or the body not remembering pain extends to emotional pain as well. Because this was bad.

    We got there over an hour before the film started, mostly because I didn’t look at the time on the tickets. There isn’t any reserved seating, so everyone brings their camping chairs and blankets and stakes out their little plot on the lawn. Pun intended. (There are several cemetery puns buried in this post. That was another one. I am not ashamed.) We picked a spot next to Arthur Jay Waters (1871-1923) and Charlotte Miller Waters (1877-1928). It also happened to be next to the handicapped section, which was outlined in bright orange tape, and manned by what appeared to be a 12-year-old boy.

    The boy was attempting to inform the never-ending procession of idiots trying to sit there that it was for handicapped individuals and their guests only. Adam pointed out that a sign could have gone a long way to helping the kid out. As we sat there, we witnessed the worst people in the world being awful. Kid: I’m sorry, this is the handicapped section. You can’t sit here. Awful Person: Well, what constitutes handicapped? Other Awful Person: My friend’s a cripple. (points at friend who rolled his ankle playing basketball) Even More Awful Person: Are you kidding me? They don’t need all this room. Right before the film started, the kid lost his hard-fought battle against idiocy and the section was flooded by lazy people and those who came late. RIP, kid. You did what you could.

    Then the film started.

    Which was difficult to tell, actually, because no one stopped talking. The couple behind us, clearly on a first date, continued sharing their life stories with one another. At full volume. Aided by liquor. ( I hope they genuinely liked each other, because I highly doubt they were making good choices by the end of the 3-hour film.)

    A man in front of us, sitting in the handicapped section with his very pregnant wife/girlfriend/date, kept taking pictures of the screen. On his iPhone. By holding his arms straight in the air above his head, thus blocking our view of the screen and making him look like he was calling a touchdown for Pacino. Or dancing to YMCA. It was obnoxious. Especially because we could see what he was getting a picture of. A dark screen on a dark night, without even zooming in. Hassan decided there must exist a Facebook album that consists solely of blurry, dark, far away shots from that night.

    At one point, the kids next to us (who seemed to be healthy, able-bodied boys in the handicapped section) asked us for a lighter. When we said no, they kept asking everyone around us until they found one. At which point, they lit up a joint. Come to think of it, maybe they were in the handicapped section due to cataracts? 

    By the second hour, the aggressive picture-taking had me at my breaking point. Adam just kept drinking beers and muttering about hating people. Hassan quietly glared at the man.

    Adam: It’s a good thing that man’s taking pictures. I bet there are no pictures anywhere on the internet of any of the scenes in Scarface.

    Hassan: I will buy that man the DVD if he just stops. Just stop.

    Random woman next to us: I have some pita chips you can throw at him.

    Me: NO ONE CAN SEE WHEN YOU DO THAT.

    Man with Camera: Just a second.

    No, seriously. He told me just a second and kept taking the picture. Then took more. It was amazing. Soon after, he got up to escort his wife to the bathroom. We enjoyed 15 blissful minutes in which we could see the screen, almost hear the dialogue, and unsuccessfully try to decipher what was happening in the film. We finally decided we should probably just leave and beat the traffic. Actually, Adam mostly decided. He won me over by saying “We can watch Scarface at home, whenever you want. Just please, can we leave?”

    As fate would have it, we waited just long enough for picture man to return from the bathroom. He helped his wife/girlfriend/date into her chair, then proceeded to clumsily fall into his own chair, flipping it over and dumping him out onto the grass. On his head. I cannot remember the last time I laughed that hard. We had to run away to the car, because we could not stop laughing, and, you know, people were trying to watch a movie.

    As we fled, Hassan snapped a picture of the guy flailing around on the ground (see above). As he noted, IT LOOKS LIKE EVERY PICTURE THAT MAN TOOK THAT NIGHT. For those of you who are on Facebook, feel free to tag it Worst Person in the World and add it to the Blurry Dark Far Away Shots of Scarface Album.

  2. Never Forget

    I always hate this day. That’s kind of a stupid thing to say, I suppose. No one likes it. There are plenty of people in the world with more reason to hate this day than I have. But still. I’m never ready for it. It always sneaks up on me, somehow. Which is weird, because it’s not like I’ve forgotten. Nobody who saw it 11 years ago has forgotten. Every time I see the words “never forget,” I think, right. Like that’s possible.

    I was 18 years old 11 years ago. I was a college freshman, living in a dorm at BYU. Three weeks into the semester, I think I had finally figured out where all my classes were. I hadn’t called my mom nearly enough, and I’d called my boyfriend far too much. I was used to moving, and being on my own. I had been to boarding school. I was feeling free, and self-sufficient, and like I totally knew what I was doing and where I was going. And then the rules changed.

    I heard from my roommate, who I didn’t particularly like. She tended to be overly dramatic, so I didn’t believe her at first. Then everyone was talking about it, and you could barely see any of the TVs on campus. I always forget that I did see the news that day. I saw them replay the second plane hitting, and I turned and walked away. I didn’t see any more footage from that day until a year later.

    I grabbed my bag and walked to class. Three people were there for the first ten minutes. When they realized no one was coming, they left. I sat there until class was over, then went to my next class. I was the only one. I went to all my classes that day, then went back to my room and tried to get some news from the internet. I think I talked to my mom. I think I talked to Adam. I refreshed CNN.com at least a thousand times.

    I woke up that morning with a solid understanding of how the world worked. And every time I got a new piece of news that day, I thought, oh. Okay. This is how it is now. It’s terrorists. Okay. Thousands of people are dead. Okay. The Pentagon, too. Okay. And nobody could tell me when it was going to be over, and when I could stop saying okay and start becoming accustomed to this new world with its new rules. I spent the day waiting for the other shoe to drop, and then the other, and then the other. I had no idea when it was going to stop, so I kept waiting.

    11 years later, I’m still waiting. I kind of feel like I’m constantly steeling myself. Waiting for the next thing. Every piece of bad news, I just add to that ever-shifting world view. The one in which there aren’t any rules, and anything could happen. I hope it was the worst day of my life, but I’m ready for it not to be. It’s a shitty way to come of age. There’s no forgetting. I’ve never voted in an election that wasn’t colored by that day. Every time US soldiers die overseas, I scan the names online because I have friends out there. I used to sleep on planes, but I don’t now.

    I went to a memorial on the first anniversary, where they showed a documentary special. I saw for the first time a lot of the news footage everyone else had watched for weeks after it happened. I didn’t watch it all. It was too soon. 11 years later, it’s still too soon. I’m pretty sure that means it will never not be too soon. So yeah. I didn’t watch a TV special today, or attend a memorial, or read articles online. I didn’t spend the day in service to my community. I should have. I know that. I’m really good at avoidance. This year, I wrote all these words down. Give me another 11 years, and maybe I’ll do better. In the meantime, I promise you, there is no possible way I could ever forget.

  3. The Ask

          

    There’s not much I hate more than having to ask people for money. It’s always awkward for everyone involved. The person asking feels embarrassed and nervous. The person being asked feels put on the the spot. That’s the single greatest benefit I can see of being crazy rich: you don’t have to ask people for money anymore. You do what you want. 

    As it turns out, I’m not crazy rich. And I’ve been in a ridiculous number of situations in which I’ve had to ask people for money. Some of these situations have been totally worth it; the vast majority, however, have not. I give you:

    A Sampling of Situations in Which I Have Had to Ask People for Money and the Ensuing Awkwardness:

    • Elementary School Trinket-Peddling: Remember that? Going door-to-door, selling all kinds of useless crap nobody needs/wants, just because you wanted to sell enough merchandise to get a free slap bracelet? Or a radio? What the hell was that? I can truly say, I don’t even know what that money was going toward. Not to mention, who ever thought it was a good idea to send kids door-to-door? STRANGER DANGER. Anyone who buys scented candles from an 8-year-old on a stoop is not to be trusted.
    • High School Candy Bars: This was a step up - at least people like candy bars. But considering how awkward it was for a 15-year-old to talk to strangers about anything, let alone make a sales pitch in support of their Odyssey of the Mind Team (don’t judge), this mostly turned into all of us consuming roughly 20-40 candy bars each during the course of the fundraiser. Which our parents paid for. And we wonder why there’s an obesity epidemic in this country. 
    • College: Yeah, that’s right. I’m pretty sure I was an essay contest slut. I would write an essay about anything, for anyone, anywhere if there was a scholarship prize attached. Calgon Take Me Away? Check. Wonder Bread? Check. Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom Contest, in which you had to make a prom dress out of duct tape for a chance to win a scholarship? Ugh. Yes, fine, why not. Nothing like starting out your academic life whoring for every namebrand on the planet.
    • On-Campus Job: I managed to snag a sweet student job making phone calls for the university fundraising department. At least, it seemed like a sweet job. Making phone calls for $12 an hour, plus bonuses if you managed to get  large donations. Oddly enough, people don’t like to be asked for money over the phone. Especially not by the college they spent a significant amount of money to attend. And definitely not during dinner. The real low point came when I called and asked for a woman who a) was a former university basketball coach and b) had been fired from her position at said university for sleeping with one of her female players which c) ended her marriage and d) the husband had kept the house and phone number. He was not interested in donating.
    • Awful Real-Life Job: I read somewhere that the vast majority of people only get raises because they ask for them. That you have to be proactive, confident, and willing to politely request the raise you deserve. So I did that a few years ago at my grown-up job, thinking, hey, I’ve been here for a full year, I work hard, I’m reliable. I’m worth it. Aaaand my boss informed me he’d be happy to write me a glowing recommendation if I needed to look for a position with another company. Which I did, and it paid better, so there. But leading up to that conversation, in which I had to outline my value and ask for corresponding  compensation, I couldn’t help but think it was the worst thing I had ever had to do. 

    The point of all of this, is that I hate asking people for money. It’s the worst. And I’m sure you’ve heard by now that I have a Kickstarter, in which I am voluntarily putting myself through the misery of asking people for money every day for 30 days. I feel like this deserves an explanation, so here it is:

    I believe you should make the art you want to see in the world. I’m not a fan of complainers who don’t bother helping to create. You don’t like all the inane shows on television? Then make a better one. And I don’t mean write a script and hire actors and buy a camera - although, if that’s your dream, then go for it - I mean do what YOU can do to make that happen. Watch the good shows. Talk about the good shows. Throw a fit when they fire Dan Harmon. And put your money where your mouth is. When you see someone working to make something you’d like to watch, and they ask you for a few bucks, throw them a few bucks. I’ve done it, and I’ve never missed that $5 bill.

    A very smart lady once told me, “You’ll never regret the money you spend on art or books.” Clearly, this was before Fifty Shades of Grey happened to us. But I think she was mostly right. It’s a gift to live in a place and time that we can create art that makes us laugh and think and talk and argue. And I will never regret cutting back on my Starbucks spending for a few days in order help make that art happen.

    Yes, I have a Kickstarter. I’m asking you to give me some money. If you click on the link, and watch the trailer we’ve created, and think “This is the absolute worst thing I have ever watched, oh god, my eyes, MY EYES” - don’t give us any money. I mean, SERIOUSLY - don’t give us any money. We’re clearly doing something wrong, and should come up with a better idea. We can handle it. But if you click on that and think “Hey, that wasn’t half bad, I wouldn’t mind watching that film” - throw us a few bucks. We’ll do everything in our power to make something worth watching. Because, honestly, there’s no way in hell I would go through the torture of asking all of you for money if I wasn’t desperately trying to create the art that I want to see in the world.

    Thanks, and here’s the link:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1020889969/follow-friday-the-film

  4. Fifty Shades of Something

     

    Okay, you guys. It’s time to talk mommy porn. (Mom, I’m sorry for using that phrase, but I didn’t make it up.) In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so, allow me to explain.

    There’s a book called Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s written by a British woman named Erika Leonard, whose pen name is E. L. James. I don’t see the point in a pen name if you tell everyone your real name, but whatever. Least of my concerns. The book was originally fan fiction based on the characters of Bella and Edward from the Twilight series. At that point, the author’s pen name was Snowqueens Icedragon. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. Bear with me. (Almost wrote bare with me. Should have. Tasteless puns are what this book deserves.)

    Fifty Shades of Grey is the first in a trilogy, which has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide, mostly to middle-aged moms (if the media coverage is to be believed.) As it is an erotic novel, someone dubbed it “mommy porn,” and then people couldn’t stop saying mommy porn and suddenly everyone in the country has heard/used the phrase mommy porn. This has effectively ruined both the words mommy and porn for everyone, everywhere.

    I read the mommy porn. Don’t ask why, and also stop judging me. But I did. And I did it so that you don’t have to. You’re welcome. But now you have to deal with the fallout, which is that I have so many issues with this book that have been bottled up inside for days now, and I have to let it out. This is going to be intense, so if at any time it’s too much for you, please remember that the safe word is popsicle.

    Some of My Issues With Fifty Shades of Grey but not All of Them Because I Have Fifty Shades of Issues With It and it Would Take Years of Therapy to Explore Them All:

    • It appears that Ms. Icedragon has never been to Washington State and never actually heard an American speak. To use her own words, Ms. Icedragon is “crap at” American English. We’re not “keen” to do much of anything, at least not since Nancy Drew was in her heyday. Also, we don’t “fetch” things. Dogs fetch things. And “collecting” things. We don’t really do that either, unless it’s baseball cards, or pretty much anything on an episode of Hoarders. We don’t drop on by to collect the car keys - we pick them up. And nobody says “I’ll take Interstate 5.” It’s the 5. Or at least the I-5. And how her editor let her get away with having every character use the word “shall” is beyond me. AND, I know this is super nit picky of me, but I don’t care - you can’t take $50 out of an ATM, lady. It has to be in multiples of $20.
    • Why is it that in both this book and the Twilight series, every outfit that is supposed to be “super cute” sounds like a 45-year-old’s memory of her Freshman year of high school? Matching plum-colored pumps? Half your hair up in a comb? And what’s with the phrase “sensible shoes?” Why do these girls have to wear sensible shoes all the time? It makes them seem frumpy, and haggard. Enough already. When all else fails, ladies, put the girl in jeans and a t-shirt and stop using any further descriptive language.
    • Ms. Icequeen’s idea of how college students live is inaccurate. Ana’s roommate Kate owns an apartment in Vancouver, WA that they both live in until graduation? What? Why does she own an apartment? Yes, her parents bought it, but come on. If her parents are buying her apartments, she can probably afford to go to a school that’s not a WSU satellite campus no one’s ever heard of. When the girls move to Seattle after graduation, Kate’s parents buy them an apartment above Pike Place Market, no big deal. AND, when Ana gets to Seattle she immediately interviews at two, TWO, publishing companies and lands a paid internship at the one she wants. PAID INTERNSHIP. Without any connections. Those are like…unicorns. Also, if anything really bothered me in this book, it’s the number of times Ana drank tea out of a teacup with a saucer in her own college-student apartment. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT. College students drink out of mugs. Free mugs. Novelty mugs. But mugs, nonetheless. They’re also great as cereal bowls.
    • ANA APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN RAISED BY WOLVES OR AT THE VERY LEAST IN AN AMISH COMMUNITY. She is a college student, in this decade, who does not have a cell phone, computer, or EVEN AN EMAIL ADDRESS WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT ALL COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE MANDATORY EMAIL ADDRESSES. I’m really sorry for the caps there, but my brain is exploding. Christian loans her all of this technology, which she begrudgingly uses, because 22-year-olds hate having new MacBooks and Blackberries and EMAIL ADDRESSES forced on them. I’m sorry, but can you even imagine her two interviews for those internships? “We’ll let you know, Ms. Steele.” “Thank you so much - feel free to contact me via USPS or carrier pigeon. My address is at the bottom of my handwritten resume as I have no access to a word processor or printer.” 
    • All the men are written like women, so it’s kind of like reading a lesbian romance. Ana’s best friend, Jose, says something his dad did was “kinda cute.” Cute? Jose’s dad was being kinda cute? Totes. Jose sounds like a 14-year-old girl. The men are also suspiciously well-manicured and really into clothes. I’m not saying there aren’t men like this, but the sameness of the characters started to get a little creepy. When Ana started wearing Christian’s clothes, I thought yeah, well, that was bound to happen.
    • Ana is also a 22-year-old virgin. I’m not saying there aren’t girls like that, but here are the facts: she is not religious, she has no problem having sex for the first time with someone she isn’t even actually dating, and her friends are all sexually active. But we’re supposed to believe that she just hasn’t felt any desire to date, and then in walks in Christian, the dashing older sadist, and she thinks yeah, sign me up for that. (And by older, I mean he is a 27-year-old billionaire. And by sadist, I mean, you know.) You don’t just go from virgin to BDSM overnight. Not in any healthy way. Also, what is the deal with having a female protagonist who is unaware of her dazzling beauty and personality? These girls don’t exist. Maybe she didn’t have access to a mirror growing up either and is truly surprised that every male character in the book is attracted to her.
    • All day long, Ana and Christian email each other, even though they both appear to have jobs. I understand that when you first get email, like when I was in middle school, you spend a lot of time on it because it’s exciting and new. I get it, Ana. But also, you should be fired from your “paid internship.”
    • It is impressive to me that in nearly 400 pages, NOTHING happened. If I had to explain the story to you, it would go as follows: boy meets girl. Boy invites girl over. Boy asks girl to engage in kinky sex. Girl agrees. Kinky sex happens. A lot. And some more. Girl ignores all job duties because of all the sex. Some more sex. Please buy book two for more sex. In the kinky sex they discuss hard limits, or things that are not okay to do in the bedroom (or playroom, as it’s called.) For me, no story line is kind of a hard limit.

    Okay. I feel better about all of this. Just getting it off my chest is good. I would feel bad about the spoilers, but I don’t think you can technically spoil something that was bad to begin with. If this blog post prevents even one person from spending $10 on this book, I’ve done my job. The bottom line is that the extreme sex is probably the most realistic part of Fifty Shades of Grey. Ms. Icedragon has said it’s just all her sexual fantasies, put to paper. I bet her kids are mortified. And I hope someone teaches them about email.

  5. She Bangs

            

    I got a hipster haircut today from a barber named Jim. I adore him and I’ll never go anywhere else ever again, even if I ended up with a haircut that’s way too hip for my own good. And bangs. Good lord, do I have bangs. 

    I think I’ve finally reached a point where bangs don’t remind me of the awkward middle school version of myself (as opposed to the awkward very late 20’s version of myself). When I see myself with bangs, I think I look like my mom. And also my grandmother. And I’m okay with that. I realized a long time ago that I was going to turn into my mother one day. I just thought I would be older when it happened.

    So in honor of Mothers’ Day coming up, and my mother, and my grandmother:

    Ways in Which I Have Already Become My Mother Before I’ve Even Turned 30:

    • I can never find my keys. Or my phone. Or my wallet. It’s a serious issue. You would think it could be solved by carrying a purse, or always putting these things in the same place when I get home. It doesn’t help. I give up. It’s simply genetic. My mom will never remember that her glasses are on top of her head, and I will always have to chant the mantra “phone, keys, wallet” before I leave anywhere. And odds are I’ll still forget one of the three items. The good news is, I now know you can board a domestic flight without any form of identification other than an Entertainment Weekly with your name on it. 
    • I can’t stop feeding people. Mind you, I don’t cook. Not if I can help it. But I have this crazy need to make sure anyone who comes over has a beverage in their hand and some food in front of them. If someone starts crying, I just want to make them a sandwich. Thanks to my mother, any time someone dies, I feel like I should make a casserole to take to their family. It’s just what you do. I am a firm believer in funeral potatoes.
    • I have to read before I can go to sleep. I’m almost certain my mother falls asleep with a book on her chest every night. Actually, it’s probably her Kindle now. I read on my iPad. And I have nearly broken my nose with it by falling asleep reading. On more than one occasion. 
    • I have a casual relationship with time. That’s all I really want to say about that. (Don’t deny it, Mom - I remember sitting outside the school waiting to be picked up. And also, I wouldn’t have been any better at it if I was the one driving.)
    • I eat mayonnaise on artichokes. I know, it’s gross. I wasn’t even going to write that one down, because I know it’s gross. But it’s also delicious, and it’s my mom’s fault that I even know that. 
    • I can’t help taking in strays. My dog was found in an alley behind a shoe store where my mother was shopping. She obviously brought him home and I obviously wanted to keep him and Adam is a saint for letting it happen. There is usually a foster child or two staying at my parents’ house. When I lived in Morocco, I hosted over 40 couch surfers one month. It was often crazy and always hilarious and I just can’t help it - I like making sure people have a place to crash.
    • I can’t say no. It’s a serious problem. My entire childhood was spent watching my mom say yes to anything anyone ever asked her to do. She was making costumes and baking cookies and driving kids all over town. And now I find that I have this irrepressible urge to be helpful when anyone asks me to do something. Even if I gripe and complain about it later (which I will) my gut reaction is to say yes. This might also be a side effect of too many improv classes, in which you are taught to always say “yes, and.” 
    • My hair is turning grey, and I’m not nearly old enough for that. Okay, I’m the only one who can see the grey hairs, but I know they’re real. My mom says she was grey by the time she was 30 or so, which means I have to keep dyeing my hair forever because I just don’t want to know. The good news is, my mom used to tell me that I had caused her grey hairs, and I now know that was a complete fabrication. It turns out not having children does not keep you from aging.

    So there it is. I am my mother. And it didn’t even take that long. I suppose it was inevitable. Since the age of 15 or so, I haven’t even been worried about it. I knew it was coming. I’ve never seen the point in getting anxious over it. The women who do that always remind me of a Cathy cartoon. Who does that? People with horrible moms, I guess. Mine’s a good one. And maybe that’s why I don’t mind. (Thanks, Mom.)

  6. Making Movies

           

    Hey, remember that one time when I had a blog and I updated it regularly?

    Yeah, me neither.

    The past six weeks have been busy. Plus, my blog redesign failed tremendously and I can’t be bothered to fix it. So you get this:

    Things I’ve Been Busy Doing Which May or May Not Be Decent Excuses for the Pitiful State of My Blog and My Life as a Whole

    • I succeeded in finding a Pit Bull mix to borrow (that’s Moose, at the top there). I tried a variety of methods for shaving words into his coat, which ended with my writing on him with a marker, then shaving the words off. If this movie thing doesn’t work out, I now have the skills to be a really awful dog groomer.
    • I perfected my imitation of my mother’s angry voice. I used it to chastise young actors who were climbing trees between takes. I made it clear that I didn’t really care about their well-being, but that if they damaged the costumes, they would feel my wrath.
    • I quit drinking coffee on three separate occasions. I have had four cups of coffee today.
    • I did not win the Mega Millions.
    • I successfully avoided fines/arrest while shooting without a permit in multiple locations. 
    • I attended my first roller derby bout at the Doll Factory. I was there to cheer on Fight Crew; they lost 67 to 207. I’m not sure I understood all the rules. But Armed Kandy is an awesome jammer.
    • I appeared on a reality show. I looked awful. I was wearing one of Adam’s shirts and no make-up. I’m 99% sure no one will ever see it, but just to be safe, I’m not telling anyone what show it was. Also, the only thing real about the show was that I really do look that awful when I go in to the production office.
    • I made some truly regrettable karaoke decisions. I don’t want to talk about it.
    • I signed up for Pottermore. I still don’t know what it is, but I don’t feel like I have time to figure it out.
    • I astounded several crew members on a commercial shoot by spelling colloquialism correctly. I then defined it correctly. Several people told me they had never heard the word before. I mourned the state of public education in our country.
    • On the same commercial shoot, I convinced a celebrity that I was taking his tiny tiny dog on a walk because she didn’t like being cooped up in his trailer. In reality, one of the PA’s let her out, and nobody could catch the damned dog.
    • I went to a Dodgers game. Thanks to Twitter, I was given Jackie Robinson wristbands, even though they were only supposed to be for kids 12 and under.
    • I received numerous business cards, all of which I have misplaced. Don’t worry though; if I need you, I will find you.
    • I decided to make a documentary. It’s happening. I may never have time to blog again.
  7. YOU GUYS. I Met Hollywood Jesus.

          

    Today was the much dreaded/anticipated LA Marathon. Dreaded, because it royally screws all traffic in Los Angeles. And if you’ve ever heard of Los Angeles, you probably know our traffic is pretty screwed to begin with. The race route cuts a line through the city from the 5 to the ocean, with no way across. It’s kind of like the Berlin Wall, except it only lasts half a day. And it’s for a good cause. The race was also much anticipated, at least by me, because I was going to finally run and complete a race.

    Last year, I religiously followed a 10-week training program in preparation for the Portland, Oregon Half Marathon in October.  Two weeks before the race, I planned a 12-mile run through Glendale, Los Feliz, Hollywood and West Hollywood. About 9-10 miles in, I tripped in a pothole, fell, and broke my elbow in two places. Awesome. I walked the Portland Half two weeks later, arm in a brace. This was directly followed by a couple of months of healing, minimal exercise, and eating lots of holiday food.

    So I was more than ready to give it another go. And by ready, I mean I followed about half my training schedule, fit in exactly one run over seven miles in the past two months, and almost forgot to pick up my race packet yesterday. The usual.

    LA doesn’t have a half marathon, but this year they had a charity relay. One team member runs the first half, then the second team member tags in. I was running with the Courage Campaign team, and didn’t actually know my partner at all.  I briefly met her last night at a team dinner. I decided we were the perfect pair, because she didn’t train either, and she wanted to run the first half. Since I hate waking up in the morning, that was ideal for me. Looking at the weather report last night, it said 90-100% chance of thunderstorms. Obviously. Come to LA where it’s beautiful all year round, except that one day that 25,000 people are going to attempt the truly stupid feat of running really far.

    I prepared myself mentally for the downpour. I thought of the time my parents took us on a horseback ride in the Smoky Mountains during a thunderstorm. (To be fair, I think the thunderstorm started after we were down the trail a way, but I remember my tiny little brain seething in anger and indignation.) I figured hey, it’ll be like that, except I have no one to blame but myself. At least no one will know I’m crying. Instead, I woke up this morning to blue, clear skies. Not trusting this, I put on a tank top, long sleeved shirt, warm vest, and a hat. Fortunately, I decided against the gloves.

    It was gorgeous. Not a drop of rain. Lots of sun. In fact, I got a bit of a sunburn on my face. Which wouldn’t be awful, except for the hat I was wearing (see above photo). It makes for an awkward tan line. All in all, it was an incredible run. I ran through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and Santa Monica, and I love the fact that I’ve finally lived here long enough to have fond memories of all these places. One of these fond memories now is running 13.1 miles through them. Some of the highlights of the race included: tranny cheerleaders in West Hollywood; seeing Natasha and Adam at Mile 20, and stripping down to give them my disgustingly wet long-sleeved shirt which they graciously took home for me; being cheered on by Henry Winkler - that’s right, the Fonz - at Mile 23; running the Sunset Strip - last time I did it I had just scraped myself off the pavement and continued on with a broken elbow; and seeing Brad cheer me on at Mile 15. Which leads me to the ultimate highlight of not just this race, BUT MY ENTIRE TIME IN LOS ANGELES.

                                        I MET HOLLYWOOD JESUS.

    I stopped to chat with Brad, who said “Hey, Jesus is here too.” And I think I stopped breathing for a moment. I cannot tell you how much I have wanted to meet Jesus of Hollywood. I have seen him regularly for the past three years. It seems like he is everywhere all at once. I distinctly remember the first time I saw him, not long after I got to town, walking past the Laugh Factory on Sunset Blvd. And I thought: “That was Jesus. That was JESUS. I love this town.” To me, Hollywood Jesus symbolizes everything I love about LA. And to meet him while running the LA Marathon? Well, I’m pretty much in heaven.

    Thanks Brad, for snapping the photo. I will treasure it forever. And thanks to Jesus of Hollywood for making my year. I do have to admit, when it got to the end there, and I was kind of wishing someone would carry me, I thought about that Footprints poem and laughed again. That will never not make me laugh. 

    P.S. Nobody carried me and my legs hurt a lot. They might never work again. 

  8. Dear Little Erin

          

    Chloe discovered her shadow the other day. We took a full 20-minute break from what we were doing so she could dance around and watch it move. She was delighted. At one point, she turned to me and said, “In my shadow I get so big, but in your shadow you get small!” This was blatantly untrue; I was standing right next to her and my ginormous shadow dwarfed hers, but the thought that she was bigger than me made her so happy that I didn’t bother to point that out. Clearly her powers of imagination are developing faster than her powers of observation.

    She’s becoming fairly obsessed with the idea of getting bigger, and being a big girl, and being much older than babies. Watching her dance around, I started thinking how much I wanted to be a grown-up when I was little. I was never quite old enough for what I wanted to do. I just needed to be a little bigger. And that led to me thinking about the fact that being older is nothing like I thought it would be. Nothing. The funniest part is, if I could go back and correct every misconception I had about getting older, it wouldn’t matter, because younger Erin wouldn’t freaking believe one word of it. Regardless:

    My Letter to Younger Erin, Correcting Her Stupid/Naive Beliefs About Grown-Ups and Growing Up (Because These Are the Thoughts You Have as You Hurtle Toward Thirty):

    Dear Little, Slightly Precocious, Usually Obnoxious, Erin:

    You are never going to become a doctor. Hate to break it to you, kiddo. And it’s not because you’re not smart enough. But one day you’ll figure out you like some parts of school better than others, and that learning is only really fun when you care about the subject. As fate would have it, you’re not a big fan of science. Especially if it involves lab work. Especially if that involves taking detailed notes over long periods of time. Like a whole week. You’re not going to have much patience for that. You’ll still have to take science, of course. But you’ll spend most of your time writing songs about permanganate, and leaving hidden messages for future generations under the tiles in the lab. (BTW, they’re gonna remodel that school a couple of years after you leave, so that was a total waste of time.)

    Grown-ups don’t know everything. They don’t even know everything they’re supposed to know. You’re going to figure this out about your parents pretty quickly (which will lead to years of strife and you not giving them credit for knowing anything, which is not so much fair, but nobody kills anybody and they still like you in the end.) Still, when you start to figure this out about the rest of the world, take deep breaths - it will be terrifying. Especially when you realize these people have been voting for decades. Everyone’s winging it. That blind trust you gave so freely as a child will be nearly impossible to muster up when you realize how many classes your pre-med friends slept through, and just how young your Kindergarten teacher actually was. Plus, your grown-ups don’t even have Google yet, so you can pretty much bet they’re raising you on old wives’ tales and hearsay.

    Getting bigger hurts. It physically hurts. And not just because of growing pains and menstrual cramps, although NO ONE will adequately prepare you for the latter, so buckle up. It hurts because you have this crazy body that’s always changing. Just when you start to get comfortable, you’re going to hit a growth spurt, probably before the boys, just to make you feel extra awesome. And just when you think your body has chilled out, and you’re all done growing, it decides it’s time for the Freshman 15 or adult acne. Whee! Plus, you’re not going to become any less clumsy. You will sustain countless, humiliating, self-inflicted injuries. Get ready to nearly cut your thumb off, and fall down in the middle of the road and break your elbow, and get hit in the face with a basketball in PE class. And, the older you get, the longer it takes to heal. Also, you can forget about that idea that scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue, because someone said that in the 60’s and it turns out it’s a load of horse manure.

    Nobody tells you when you’re done. You don’t unlock grown-up level just by playing the game long enough. There’s no badge, or card, or certificate. (In fact, when I start to think about how old our parents were when I thought they knew everything, I realize you are being raised by children. Don’t worry though, they do great.) You will hit a point when your birthdays don’t mean anything anymore, except getting closer to the ones everyone complains about it. There’s no birthday that makes you a grown-up. Certainly not 18, because you’re mostly an idiot then. Not 21, because you’re just a legal idiot then. And you don’t become a grown-up by getting a degree or having kids or getting a job or buying a house, because so many people you know have those things and are still kind of only mostly grown-ups. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’ll let you know when I do. My best guess, at this point, is that you pretty much have to be older than everyone else in the world, and then it hits you: Oh hey, I totally grew up.

    Don’t be sad about any of this. It’s probably a good thing you’re never quite going to feel like a grown-up. You’ll hit that point in your early twenties when you’ll think you are for two seconds, but that’ll pass, and every year you’ll realize you know less and less. Don’t freak out. It’s fantastic. You get to learn something new every day of your life. No one knows everything, but you get to start relying on other people in your life that know more about some things than you do. And you’ll Google things. And, yes, you’ll even call your mom or dad because it turns out they know things that Google doesn’t know. Not knowing everything doesn’t make you a fraud. It just makes you almost a grown-up.

    Good luck. Godspeed. And seriously, if you can avoid that basketball to the face, do it. That’s going to be absolutely mortifying. 

    - e

  9. Dwight K. Schrute

            

    I spend a lot of time around kids, but I don’t have any of my own. Instead, I have Dwight. Full name: Dwight K. Schrute (Adam named him. It was a vast improvement over the cat. Her name is Star Trek). I think people might be right when they say if you want kids, you should start with a plant. Keep that alive, get a puppy. Keep that alive, you might be ready for kids. The thing is, I’ve had some plants. None of them have survived. Now I have a dog, and sometimes I don’t think I will survive. This does not bode well for ever having children.

    Despite that, Dwight is alive and mostly well. We’ve both survived the past four years, though sometimes barely. I do think having Dwight has taught me a variety of life lessons that make me a better caretaker of small children. These lessons have also made me a better runner, a better wife, a better sleeper, and a better human. Let me explain:

    Lessons I Have Learned From Dwight the Dog (Part Brittany Spaniel, Part Australian Shepherd, Full Obnoxious):

    1. Child proof does not mean foolproof. Dwight really likes playing with things that make fun noises. This includes pill bottles. We learned early on that he likes to gnaw on the plastic lid of the Tylenol, and shake the bottle around. It was frustrating, but not disastrous. Until he got the lid off. And decided Tylenol is delicious. Which leads to lesson number two:
    2. Poison control is friendly and helpful. Even when you call about a dog instead of a human. As it turns out, Tylenol overdoses are serious in humans and dogs. Handy tip: hydrogen peroxide will induce vomiting in a dog. Part B of handy tip: hydrogen peroxide will induce IMMEDIATE vomiting in a dog. Don’t give the dog the hydrogen peroxide until they are in the precise spot you would like them to vomit in. You’re going to thank me for that tip someday.
    3. Karma is a bitch. No one likes to be shut up in a house all day alone against their will. If, by necessity, you must do this to your dog one day because you and your spouse have to work double shifts, there is no amount of treats that will save you from your comeuppance. Karma may manifest in the form of the kitchen garbage spread all over the apartment, or a special surprise left in the corner, or every wooden spoon you own being chewed to pieces, leaving you to put all the splinters back together, frantically, as you try to decide if a piece of wood is working its way through your dog’s intestinal tract.
    4. People are weird. If you have children, or you have friends who have children, you have witnessed the insane interaction between parents as their children play. That bizarre competitiveness that has them bragging about how their child is the best at crawling or speaking or using the potty. When people get competitive over their pets, it’s a million times weirder. Especially when your own pet is a social misfit that humps old people and harasses small breeds.
    5. It’s not fitness, it’s life. There are so many reasons to be in good shape physically, not the least of which is that sometimes dogs run away. They think it’s a fun game, and the world is their playground. As grown humans, we realize the world is not a fun playground, so much as a dangerous place filled with cars and death. When the dog runs away, you have to be ready to give chase. For a good 45 minutes to an hour. You can’t afford to get a stitch in your side. The dog never gets a stitch. By the way, many thanks to the catering crew in that wedding in Greenville, SC in 2008 for cornering my dog near the buffet table. I apologize for the disruption.
    6. Puppies aren’t puppies for long. They get bigger. And then bigger, and then bigger. If you feed them too many scraps from the table, they get even bigger. Those things you thought were adorable when they were tiny, like the way Dwight used to curl up on the pillow at night, become absurd, like having a 50-pound dog sleeping on your face. Every day when I get home, Dwight wants to sit on my lap for a bit. Which is adorable, and makes me feel needed, but also uncomfortable, because he’s not exactly small. His bark, which used to be yippy and playful, now sounds kind of menacing. This is helpful for keeping away burglars and the FedEx man, but unnecessarily terrifies our neighbors. I tell you this because these are things you can fix when the dog is a puppy. Clearly, we have completely screwed up and must live with our large, misbehaved, ridiculous mess. Learn from our mistakes.
    7. In for a penny, in for a pound. Just like marriage, or parenthood, having a dog is making a commitment that you have no real understanding of until you’re right in the thick of it. At the point of no return. That puppy turns into a dog, and that dog needs medicine, and shots, and food, and exercise. And the longer you have that dog, the more you love that dog, until you’re spending hours researching the health benefits of various dog food brands, and wondering if your dog is suffering from seasonal depression. You find yourself googling how to remove a tick, and looking up doggie daycares for when your work schedule is a little full. You realize that at some point you’ll be carrying that dog down the stairs when arthritis makes it hard for him to walk, and mixing gravy in with his canned food so that he’ll eat. None of this was in the adorable puppy pamphlet, but if you had it to do over, you wouldn’t change a thing.

    I love my dog. I don’t bother to get into any of the competitive bragging at the dog park. In fact, I’m usually pretending I don’t know him while giving him the evil eye. This is the dog that ate all the stocking stuffers one year (Handy tip: charcoal also induces vomiting in dogs. Also immediately). This is the dog that humps my grandmother every time he sees her. This is the dog that knocks over small children, and eats Kleenex, and used to chew up furniture legs. The same dog that begs you to take him out, then makes you chase him around the apartment to get a leash on him. He’s a hot mess. But he’s our hot mess. And there’s nothing like having a slobbering idiot around, that relies on you for every little thing, to give you a big kick in the pants toward adulthood.

  10. The other day, I asked Rob Delaney a question on Reddit. If you don’t know who Rob Delaney is, he’s a comedian I follow on Twitter. If you don’t know what Twitter is, don’t worry about it. If you don’t know what Reddit is, me neither. As far I’ve been able to tell it’s an unattractive place where information happens.
The question I asked (and one of my favorite things to know about people) is “Worst job you ever had?” It says a lot about you, and it’s almost always a good story. If you don’t have one, we may as well end the conversation now because  I am already bored. It’s like my theory about key rings. The more interesting the person, the more keys on the key ring. If you carry only a Mercedes key, I probably can’t be your friend. Unless I need a ride because my Ford Escort is out of commission.
Mr. Delaney’s answer (telemarketing for a stock newspaper) delighted me, because it is essentially my answer to the same question (telemarketing for a family entertainment company). This tells me we’re pretty much soulmates, or maybe Twitter BFFs or, more likely, we had the same experience as any decent human being who has ever worked in telemarketing and we’ll probably never actually bond over it in any way, aside from this blog post. Nevertheless:
The Worst Job I Ever Had (Spoiler Alert: It Was Telemarketing):
Some of these details are hazy because this was more than a decade ago, back when you could still walk to the gate at airports and steal share songs on Napster with reckless abandon. But I’m pretty sure this entire situation is Darien’s fault and that it was his idea to get a job at a telemarketing company. These are the facts.
The company sold family entertainment in the form of G-rated movies on VHS. Yes, VHS. It was 2001, and DVD players were finally affordable, but we were expected to sell overpriced VHS tapes, preferably in packages of three because they needed to get rid of the stock before VHS was totally worthless. Which was, like, six months later.
The pitch for the company was deliberately phrased to make people think it was a non-profit. We asked people to “take a stand” and “show Hollywood that you don’t approve of violence and promiscuity.” By purchasing some VHS tapes. It remains unclear who in “Hollywood” was getting a copy of your receipt, thereby being made aware of your support for traditional family values.
If people didn’t want to buy the tapes (which could only truly be determined by them saying no at least FIVE times), we would ask is there anyone else you think would support our fight for family entertainment, and could you please give us their name and phone number, thank you very much. Then we’d sell them out to their friends and relatives by saying “Aunt Marge said you’d be interested…” It was all very McCarthy-esque.
We weren’t even allowed to make the pitch ourselves. We’d start by asking for the person whose name appeared on our list. When we got the right person on the phone, we’d switch over to a recorded voice. Which was disconcerting, to say the least, since the woman’s voice sounded absolutely nothing like me. The recording was actually controlled by keystrokes - each letter corresponded to a phrase or word. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. There were even interjections, like “uh huh” and “I’m sorry.” And there was a laughter button. So it was just like having a conversation with a real human being, except the real human being was reading a complicated list of keyboard commands while trying to listen to your list of reasons you couldn’t buy any VHS tapes. This whole setup was meant to capitalize on the fact that the recorded voices were the two best salespeople in the company, and obviously the sound of their voice was the key to their success. In reality, the recordings led to some uncomfortable moments when a person would say “We’ve just got a lot of medical bills right now. My husband has cancer.” And Darien would inadvertently respond with “That’s great! Yeah. You know what? I’m sorry. (Cue laughter)” You think I am kidding.
Sometimes, okay a lot of times, there weren’t any buttons for the direction the sales pitch would suddenly take. In the middle of a recording explaining the plot of Franklin and the Green Knight (Franklin the turtle goes on a quest to end winter because he’s told he’s going to get a baby brother in the spring), an elderly gentleman interrupted with “Why would I need a green knight when I have the White Knight? The White Knight of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Cue silence.)
My favorite button was the response for the inevitable question, “Is this a recording?” Any time someone asked this, we pressed a key and the creepy salesperson voice would say “Ha ha ha. Do I sound that bad?” 
On my third day of telemarketing, I was given a certificate that read “A Star on Your Forehead!” for exceeding the sales goals of the day. No recognition has ever shamed me more than that piece of paper.
On my fourth day of telemarketing, an elderly woman told me she didn’t even own a VCR, and she lived on her Social Security, which was never enough, but she wanted to give us some money anyway because she supported our cause. I disconnected the phone call and quit.
When I say this is the worst job I ever had, I don’t say it lightly. I took political surveys over the phone. I worked fast food. I was a bra specialist at Victoria’s Secret (not nearly as sexy as it sounds). I made fried chicken at a deli. I waited tables. I worked at Jesus camp. I was a secret shopper. But telemarketing was the worst job I ever had, because I was selling a worthless product, to people who didn’t want to buy it, by any means necessary. Darien lasted maybe two days longer than I did. And anyone who lasts much longer than that probably starts to die a little inside with every star on their forehead. 
For those of you currently experiencing your brief stint as a telemarketer: it gets better. You will quit. You will work other crappy jobs, but none as bad. And you will never be the boring person at the party with no keys on your key chain and no work experience you intentionally omit from your resume. Let’s be friends.
    High Res

    The other day, I asked Rob Delaney a question on Reddit. If you don’t know who Rob Delaney is, he’s a comedian I follow on Twitter. If you don’t know what Twitter is, don’t worry about it. If you don’t know what Reddit is, me neither. As far I’ve been able to tell it’s an unattractive place where information happens.

    The question I asked (and one of my favorite things to know about people) is “Worst job you ever had?” It says a lot about you, and it’s almost always a good story. If you don’t have one, we may as well end the conversation now because  I am already bored. It’s like my theory about key rings. The more interesting the person, the more keys on the key ring. If you carry only a Mercedes key, I probably can’t be your friend. Unless I need a ride because my Ford Escort is out of commission.

    Mr. Delaney’s answer (telemarketing for a stock newspaper) delighted me, because it is essentially my answer to the same question (telemarketing for a family entertainment company). This tells me we’re pretty much soulmates, or maybe Twitter BFFs or, more likely, we had the same experience as any decent human being who has ever worked in telemarketing and we’ll probably never actually bond over it in any way, aside from this blog post. Nevertheless:

    The Worst Job I Ever Had (Spoiler Alert: It Was Telemarketing):

    Some of these details are hazy because this was more than a decade ago, back when you could still walk to the gate at airports and steal share songs on Napster with reckless abandon. But I’m pretty sure this entire situation is Darien’s fault and that it was his idea to get a job at a telemarketing company. These are the facts.

    • The company sold family entertainment in the form of G-rated movies on VHS. Yes, VHS. It was 2001, and DVD players were finally affordable, but we were expected to sell overpriced VHS tapes, preferably in packages of three because they needed to get rid of the stock before VHS was totally worthless. Which was, like, six months later.
    • The pitch for the company was deliberately phrased to make people think it was a non-profit. We asked people to “take a stand” and “show Hollywood that you don’t approve of violence and promiscuity.” By purchasing some VHS tapes. It remains unclear who in “Hollywood” was getting a copy of your receipt, thereby being made aware of your support for traditional family values.
    • If people didn’t want to buy the tapes (which could only truly be determined by them saying no at least FIVE times), we would ask is there anyone else you think would support our fight for family entertainment, and could you please give us their name and phone number, thank you very much. Then we’d sell them out to their friends and relatives by saying “Aunt Marge said you’d be interested…” It was all very McCarthy-esque.
    • We weren’t even allowed to make the pitch ourselves. We’d start by asking for the person whose name appeared on our list. When we got the right person on the phone, we’d switch over to a recorded voice. Which was disconcerting, to say the least, since the woman’s voice sounded absolutely nothing like me. The recording was actually controlled by keystrokes - each letter corresponded to a phrase or word. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. There were even interjections, like “uh huh” and “I’m sorry.” And there was a laughter button. So it was just like having a conversation with a real human being, except the real human being was reading a complicated list of keyboard commands while trying to listen to your list of reasons you couldn’t buy any VHS tapes. This whole setup was meant to capitalize on the fact that the recorded voices were the two best salespeople in the company, and obviously the sound of their voice was the key to their success. In reality, the recordings led to some uncomfortable moments when a person would say “We’ve just got a lot of medical bills right now. My husband has cancer.” And Darien would inadvertently respond with “That’s great! Yeah. You know what? I’m sorry. (Cue laughter)” You think I am kidding.
    • Sometimes, okay a lot of times, there weren’t any buttons for the direction the sales pitch would suddenly take. In the middle of a recording explaining the plot of Franklin and the Green Knight (Franklin the turtle goes on a quest to end winter because he’s told he’s going to get a baby brother in the spring), an elderly gentleman interrupted with “Why would I need a green knight when I have the White Knight? The White Knight of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Cue silence.)
    • My favorite button was the response for the inevitable question, “Is this a recording?” Any time someone asked this, we pressed a key and the creepy salesperson voice would say “Ha ha ha. Do I sound that bad?” 
    • On my third day of telemarketing, I was given a certificate that read “A Star on Your Forehead!” for exceeding the sales goals of the day. No recognition has ever shamed me more than that piece of paper.
    • On my fourth day of telemarketing, an elderly woman told me she didn’t even own a VCR, and she lived on her Social Security, which was never enough, but she wanted to give us some money anyway because she supported our cause. I disconnected the phone call and quit.

    When I say this is the worst job I ever had, I don’t say it lightly. I took political surveys over the phone. I worked fast food. I was a bra specialist at Victoria’s Secret (not nearly as sexy as it sounds). I made fried chicken at a deli. I waited tables. I worked at Jesus camp. I was a secret shopper. But telemarketing was the worst job I ever had, because I was selling a worthless product, to people who didn’t want to buy it, by any means necessary. Darien lasted maybe two days longer than I did. And anyone who lasts much longer than that probably starts to die a little inside with every star on their forehead. 

    For those of you currently experiencing your brief stint as a telemarketer: it gets better. You will quit. You will work other crappy jobs, but none as bad. And you will never be the boring person at the party with no keys on your key chain and no work experience you intentionally omit from your resume. Let’s be friends.