For my schedule, please go to

Friday, December 25, 2009

NOT EVEN HOMOPHONES, or IMMACULATE CONCEPTION


UNSKIPPABLE PREFACE

Characters (in order of appearance):
Francoise Hamm Solange: She has a cheerleaderish ponytail, a tight Southern accent, and a Very Romantic Bedroom. Reminiscent of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, but NOT SINGLE. And, to her credit, a little less embonpoint in the face.

Me/I: She is cleaning Francoise's house in the Level 99 jeans she thought she was too fat for but it turns out they actually fit.

Props: Rags, fingerprints, one granola bar that never comes out of the bag.

This isn't a play.

BLANK PAGE BEFORE THE ACTUAL THING YOU READ

THE ACTUAL THING YOU READ

Francoise is showing me how to make the bed. It’s giant, the kind where if you were to make it alone you would have to crawl onto the bed and not be able to avoid a sexual fantasy while adjusting the fitted sheet. She says, Ok now grab the toile and I’m thinking crinoline, the puffy underskirts of so many high school musicals, a pseudo-frustrated costume designer tugging at the hem of the leading lady’s dress, her mouth full of pins like a metal scarecrow mumbling, She just needs some crinoline, and the “assistant costume designer”, a student with an accidentally rigid perm, writes NEED TULLE in the center of a wide-ruled page of the notebook with the electric pink dog on the cover that she got at Target thinking it was what she wanted, got to school the first day and realized she didn’t want it, and learned that humility can come so soon after pride.

So we’re making the bed and she says, Ok now grab the toile, and I say, I think I’ve always confused tulle with toile. Turns out tulle is the crunchy tutu stuff and toile is a fabric that depicts a complex scene. But then I start wondering, Well, what makes a scene? If it’s a floral printed duvet, how do we know there’s not some conflict amongst the flowers, or that an orchid just died because the owner watered it too much instead of putting in just one ice cube a week?

Or what about a comforter that depicts a domestic abuse scene (i.e. a man is looking at a credit card bill in one picture, then backhanding his wife in the other)?

That could be toile, especially if it had the classic off-white background; and, of course, a nearby well.

In this case, it’s a print I’ve seen before. The same story I used to sell on duvet covers at The Pottery Barn. This is a story about a man pulling an ox toward a red or black or blue barn. Depends on what you ask for in your registry. The storyline is pretty vague. I have no idea what will happen in the barn. Or why the man is pulling with such intensity. Maybe a day full of so many personal failures that he now is taking it all out on this poor ox. I don’t see his boss anywhere on the bedspread. I think he’s self-employed.

Or maybe when he was twenty-one he was pressured by a coworker to read Diet for a New America and, as a result, became and stayed a vegetarian for seven years, showing everyone pictures of pigs in cages and announcing, See? They are crammed so closely together they bite each other's tails off! ...until one New Year’s Eve his friend popped a meatball in his mouth and it changed his whole perspective and now his sole desire is to consume a burger made from the flesh of this very animal. But first he desperately needs for this very ox to listen to his problems: No one understands my art! he cries, as he places the final piece of straw on his all-straw statue of a man who, instead of wearing his heart on his sleeve, wears his socks over his shoes.

This Manual Labor story is the only one I’ve ever seen on a bedspread. It countervails so perfectly a quiet night of lying in bed sucking on diamonds.

I want to ask Francoise, Is it always this same story? but I know it's not, and I hate when I ask questions I know the answers to, and I know that by admitting I've seen this toile before that I am just bringing up the fact that this bedding, the selfsame bedding where she tosses and turns and drools and stirs and then starts a diary entry and then stops and then brings herself to a teary orgasm while her husband is still away doing business in Thailand, on this very spread, under the canopy and next to the velvet heart-shaped ottoman, next to the clinquant antique hairbrushes laid carefully like little dolls on the mirrored vanity, where she's fantasized about brushing her hair in front of her husband like the mom did on Little House on the Prairie, and where she has her husband’s photo encased in a gilded frame that says "Amore," and so many musky perfumes...

…that I am taking this symbol of her very sacred lust and saying, “I saw your passion on sale last week for 89.99.”

Today Francoise is obviously thinking about getting everything in order for her husband to come. We only have a couple hours. The house is brewing with cinnamon smells, almost cartoonish, like you can see faint red swirls in the air. This is the day she’s been waiting for, yet sometimes don’t you ever build yourself up for a big event then the day of the event you find you can’t pull yourself out of bed? But there seems something deeper in the corner of her mind, something she’s not telling anyone. A problem. The beginning of the problem goes, How am I going to tell him about the…. But I don’t know how it ends. It ends in a land somewhere beyond her pink headband and rigid sense of obligation, disguised by holiday cheer, past the Vision Board she has in the master bathroom, the one plastered in pictures of Valerie Bertinelli in an alarming green bikini saying I LOST 50 lbs, (and I plan to lose more in the few hours I have before my husband comes back from Thailand)!!

So we’ve moved on to the pillows and she asks me a question, So what are you doing for the holidays? And right before I answer she says, Oh no no, these pillows actually go diagonally, like THIS….

I am learning so much about the layering of pillows. From my recent experience, this is the Proper Pillow-Layering Order:
1. The ones you actually use. (The ones to be ashamed of.)
2. The ones that are slightly decorative, at least enough to mask the (horrifying!) ones you actually use.
3. The Giant Square Ones. Usually a solid color to complement the duvet.
4. The rectangular ones you place horizontally to offset the Giant Square Ones. Usually solid with a hint of the print from the duvet (in this case, toile), to offset the Giant Square ones.
5. The slightly smaller square ones (optional, excessive, and completely useless)
6. The Lame Centerpiece One With Possible Bow Adornment.

I’ve also learned about monochromatic Christmas Tree decoration. This woman has a tree in the dining room festooned in all green lights, as if she took a tip from a fashion magazine, “Green will ACCENTUATE and not DETRACT from the tree’s natural beauty!”

And then in the Very Romantic Bedroom, which by the way also has a giant mirror I scrub and scrub and the rag leaves dots of dust then I go back and scrub THEM then I’m kneeling, rag in hand, looking at myself in the mirror and wondering if my Dove Gradual Build Self-Tan is really building, I find myself eventually casting wishes out to some kind of I DON’T KNOW, A GOD WHO LIVES IN A CAVE, a God who lives in Very Romantic Bedrooms, who crawls through the insides of mirrors just so He can look back at you as a piece of glass and say, It's time to take an extension class.

So, this room has a white tree with all pink lights. This tree is a girl with fair skin who took some bad advice to use cream rouge instead of powder. To myself, I call it the Sweet-N-Low Tree.

I think I’m speaking to God then I realize I’m not that important…I mean, in my own life I am…but that we are all of equal importance, and that becomes sad and comforting at the same time. I’m kneeling on this floor next to tiny piles of children’s laundry, little corduroy skirts, and I turn and one of Francoise’s daughters is leaning in the doorway, watching me. I turn and say hi and she asks, So when did you decide to be a housecleaner?

My LA side wants to say, I get great material!

But the real me, and instead, I say, It kind of chose me.

I keep thinking things like Work With Love, and then eventually, as I’m using a special rag to wipe her daughter’s fingerprints like little oval ghosts from the plasma screen television, I find I’m trying to romanticize the fingerprints: O that you POINTED at the television with your small fingers while trying out your new Nintendo Wii, O LIFE, a MIRACLE!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SMOG GETS IN YOUR EYES

DISCLAIMER: This has been rotting in my computer for over a year. I no longer eat croissants.

MONDAY MORNING
Bundy. Bundy. Bundy. Leeches and hail on you, Bundy. And Mapquest, I'm a human being, not a pinball. You can’t just tell me to go South then spit me out North. If I follow your crazy advice to exit on South Bundy, it chucks me out closer to the airport than to the beer audition and I end up asking an ice cream truck driver for directions. Then I start wanting ice cream. Then I dig in my bag for the granola bar. The one I brought along because I’d decided to become a responsible adult and not waste money on a croissant at The Coffee Bean and take one bite of it and leave the bag in my car until the next time I dump all my “carbage” out at once at an Arco.

THE FRIDAY NIGHT BEFORE THAT MONDAY
I’ll park at a failed meter, but not without asking everyone I see on the street, “Do you think it’s okay to park at a failed meter?” Americans seem divided on this issue. Some say, “I’ve never gotten a ticket.” Others say, “Leave a note.”

"Hi. My name is Lizzy. I put a quarter in and it started flashing FAIL, but because the bottom bar on the L is out, it just says FAII. Just saying, because I do pay my taxes and in fact got audited. Thanks."

It wasn’t until I started heading east on Pico while scrutinizing my life choices that I noticed the envelope on my dashboard.

“I got a ticket?” I said aloud, while straightening my imaginary brooch.
Then, “I got a ticket!” with the pride of “My car was selected!” or “I really am an adult!”

Maybe it wasn’t a ticket but a love letter, and if I didn’t pull over it would fly away and I’d never know Harold (my admirer) or how he would cross snow-covered valleys to see my lovely face once more. Maybe it was both. A lonely cop who had seen me change into my H&M leggings in my car.

Ugh. Expired tabs. When I got home I rifled through my mail. Then I got distracted by an old birthday card. Then I kept rifling through my mail. Turns out I had managed to avoid all official-looking mail since September 2007. And I need a Smog Check.

The DMV is closed on the weekend, so I put the ticket on my dashboard wherever I parked my car to let the police know I’d already been spanked.

BACK TO MONDAY MORNING
So I made it just in time for the beer thing. I focused on getting my hair into an office-y ponytail. I forgot to put the ticket out. Bam. Spanking number two.

On the way to my smog check, I was stuck behind a cement truck with a neon sign that said DANGER. I called my friend (on speakerphone…no more tickets) who read me a quote out of his AA manual. It was about Acceptance, which struck me as odd because just moments before our conversation I had godammited the sun for melting in the ice in my drink. I notice I bring up beverages a lot. I will explain why this is a problem in TUESDAY NIGHT. Oh but wait until you hear THURSDAY.

So as he read to me about Acceptance I felt this wave (it would be light blue if I had to choose a color) pass over my body, really resonating. If I was upset, it was because I wasn’t accepting a person, place, or thing in my life. Just like that quote I always thought was by Sinead O’Connor but totally isn’t—I think it might be by Jesus--she just says it in the beginning of her album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got,

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I wish I had the wisdom! Wait. I DO have the wisdom. I just need to be in this light blue wave.

So I got to the Smog Place that had a Smog Check sign right out on the street (sidenote: every mechanic is named Tony) and he asks to see my paperwork. I handed him my Smock Check Renewal Form. And as I did, I realized that in some inspired moment, I had scribbled a poem on the back of it, entitled Rubbing Against Myself, the last line of which is, “This is a shabby gown for a sorceress, lifting pink material in the night, coercing it…”

He looks at me like I’m a perv and says, “We don’t do State Only Smog Checks. You have to go to (this other place).”

Ugh, acceptance. GREAT! I try looking at the ceiling (even though I’m outside) and smiling like I learned to do in Tony Robbins 30-days to Personal Power.

I get there. I hate parking at gas stations. It makes me want to sing that song Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage.

A good-natured guy I can’t understand rises from his tinny chair and says, “Our machine broken. You know where Wine is?” I don’t know what accent trades V for W but I imagine it’s pretty emasculating. I wonder if he’s a virgin. I hate myself for thinking that, and then I think Bless his heart, which is a more patronizing thought than the first. Then I want a Tobelrone. I really like how the foil keeps revealing new triangles. It’s very Egyptian. I’m lonely.

So I find the third Smog-a-log. It’s kind of sketchy, like that scene in Adventures in Babysitting where they’re trapped in the parking garage. I loved Elisabeth Shue.

My Smog Experience Guy #3 comes out and I manage to insult his expertise right away, “Is this an official station?” and then I explain why I’m asking and then we both get tired of me.

I’m surprised they have outdoor seating. The table is that kind of glass comprised of blurry octagons. It brings back memories of high school pool parties- the smell of chlorine and Doritos. I think of that Acceptance passage and feel a cry coming on. Oh, it’s crawling. I put on my sunglasses and weep. Still in my corporate costume, it must appear to passersby that I have lost a major investment.

Now my feet are getting hotter in my patent leather heels and the sun really pumps. I scroll through my phone and erase some numbers of people I consider to be toxic just to see their names dropped into that animated trash can.

PHONE:Are you sure you want to delete?
ME: Yes.

PHONE: Is deletion non-acceptance?
ME: No.

ME AND PHONE: Do you just keep people who are bad for you in your life like mucked up lillipads, so if you’re scared to cross the pond of new experience you can feel like you have support, even though these lillipads are probably just green halograms programmed into your brain by your own need for security?

ME AND PHONE: Well I don’t know who you mean by “you”.

STILL MONDAY
So I get to the DMV and call my work. Yes! Paychecks came today! And the line at the DMV is fast, and no one looks like they want to die. I start discreetly taking pictures of people at the DMV with my camera phone. "My name is Lizzy Cooperman and I love taking care of my life." I start repeating that to myself. "My name is Lizzy Cooperman and I love taking care of my life."

B292. Sounds like a cover band. That’s me.

The woman I get (I see experiences like these like speed dating) reminds me of this redheaded girl I knew in Minnesota who I dreamt broke my dishes while wearing a pair of my cowboy boots I never owned. Now is my chance to mend that wound with a simple transaction.

“Oh and also?” I do that thing that supposedly insecure women do by ending sentences with a question mark, which is actually probably a very Zen thing, to always be questioning. “I got two tickets…”

“Those are just fixer uppers.” And she told me how I can get out of them! Unresolved issues with Megan from ten years ago healed.
8005284285 reservation7210516

I get my red 2008 sticker and slap it onto my license plate like it just won the 4H. It’s all happening!

But then…

TUESDAY NIGHT
I don’t need to go through the events leading up to my night in Irvine, but here are some visuals: a blue shirt I’ve been wearing too much because I think it looks good with my faded Mystic Tan, several diet cokes, flipping through notebooks, and putting a security deposit down on a new apartment.

After compromising my artistic and personal integrity, I got in my car and headed South on the five. Then I headed more South on the five. Then I headed more South on the five.

Soon there were only semis.

No lights.

One exit, packed with trucks.

Clad in a shorter-than-usual skirt, I was afraid to pull over and--what would I do, walk up to a truck, “Excuse me, sir. I just had a really bad set and now I don’t know where I am.”

Finally I came to an exit that had a picture of a either a gas pump or a sad robotic dinosaur.

When I asked the Flo from Mel’s diner-like cashier at the gas station how far I was from Hollywood she said, “Oh honey, you went WAY past Hollywood. About an hour and a half. You’re heading toward San Francisco.”

I bought sour cream and onion chips, knowing the more I ingested the sicker I would get. I was on my way.

I ate the chips. I licked my fingers. I touched my steering wheel. I ate more chips. Licked my fingers, therefore eating my steering wheel. Blazed through the mountains. Blaze, also the stage name of the guy my friend moved to Australia to be with who dumped her shortly after she arrived. Where are my friends? Why am I stopping at this point in this story? Because I’m scared of writing about the way I felt that night…like my entire existence had turned into “industry” versus a joke about an imaginary frog. The frog had failed tonight and I still believed in the frog.

I wanted to dye my hair red for god knows how many washes. I wanted to dye my hair red without being scared I’d get a callback for a TGI Friday’s audition and show up looking like a racier Smiling People Greeter than they wanted. Isn’t it MY LIFE? Can’t I just get a credit card even though I had a shopping problem in my mid-twenties and spent one summer purchasing unlimited black garments and glittery tube tops from Express and then had an indignant attitude about paying it off until I was 27 and had a breakdown about it at my temp job and paid it all at once and lived off cashews?

Aren’t I on emotional fire as it is?

Don’t I deserve red hair? Isn’t that what food addicts ask themselves about ice cream?

I sped through the latitude, it was okay to listen to my iPOD while driving tonight. I must have smoked a whole pack of cigarettes before I got home, which wasn’t actually home, but a twenty day sublet where I stayed with two actor-brothers who ate surprisingly healthy food. I think I bought organic mayonnaise to impress them.

To be continued…

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

THE CAPER


The wind is so strong tonight that the roads are draped in shredded trees, and on the way to T’ai Chi class I got a branch stuck under my car and it sounded like I was being transported into the future, like on LOST where Locke decides not to press the button to save the world and the whole sky goes white and a single-noted buzz penetrates so deeply you can feel it behind your eyes. Then leaving T’ai Chi I opted for a side street and had to turn around because a giant palm was lying face down like a defeated soldier blocking off the street just West of Sweetzer.

This was going to be my night to pretend I wasn’t going to have a life-changing epiphany so that it could sneak up on me and feel that it had the advantage, so I washed my hair and went to make a stir fry (tofu, cabbage mix, Soyaki) and found that everything in my refrigerator had frozen. Except the capers. The impulse buy.

If there were a movie of The Princess and the Pea, the director would call “Cut!” right before the pivotal discovery-of-the-pea scene, and say, “The pea just isn’t doing it for me. It’s lifeless. I want something with a spark, a kick!” And a tentative P.A. would slowly raise his hand, and with a crackling voice say, “Perhaps we could use a...caper?”

“A caper. Huh.” The director would scratch his beard, check his watch, and ask the stout prop intern whose knit beret was a real fashion risk for her that day if she could be back within the hour with a jar of capers.

She would return heroically with the capers, knowing that later she could exaggerate the story to her boyfriend that she “had to go to THREE grocery stores. NO ONE had capers. It was insane.”

“Good for you, babe,” he’d say, rolling the neck of his Corona between his hands. “You want tacos?”

Compact. Pungent. And these Mediterranean pebbles came in a little octagonal jar that looks like something a grandmother would save to later contain her marmalade. I’m sure the shape had a psychological affect on me. This tiny jar looked like it would never be in my possession. I’m familiar with the “Nothing I have feels like it’s mine” complaint, but I have the opposite problem. Everything I own is so terribly mine. The Strawberry Shortcake towel I’ve used as both a welcome mat and an oven mitt. The salt shaker where I keep my Qtips that I inherited from dishwashing job at a restaurant that went out of business. The sequined pillow I bought in New York after I lost my job, probably for comfort, too, though the only feedback on the pillow has been, “This is a really uncomfortable pillow.” When I don't have money, any taste of financial hydration needs to be commemorated. The emotional currency of the mahogany pencil holder you buy when you have some extra cash is worth ten times what you paid for it. You look at that pencil holder and believe things can be great again. It's a trick you play on yourself. A device. Just like me ending this paragraph with, "It's a caper."

My epiphany that I pretended wouldn't come so that it would come never came. I promised myself that for every episode of LOST I watched I would write one thousand words and hope that somewhere in my free-write an idea would come so clearly, with such intent, it would fall on me like Dorothy’s house, and the house would be full of a million dollars, and I could finally have a kitchen with a center island and a room not attached to my home but just one hundred feet away that was perfect for parties.








I

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your True Colors Are Killing Me



T’ai Chi.
Chai Tea.

The duality of T’ai Chi...you’ll be doing a move called “Needle in the Sea” and it seems so graceful and then you find out you’re learning how to break someone’s arm.

They always play ‘True Colors’ at the supermarket. How do you think Cyndi feels about that? Once I saw her live in concert. She had Big Bird yellow hair and leather pants and in her sweet, non-offensive voice she squeaked, “I know I’ve gained a little bit of weight, but I’m still rockin’!” Tonight I wandered around for two hours to get just two cans of soup, a bottle of water, and a new toothbrush. I couldn’t decide on anything. Then I realized I wasn’t hungry. Just sad. It was raining and I’d just left my T’ai Chi class where I thought about how strange it was that I could “Ride the Tiger” but not “Sweep the Lotus”...

I was strolling the frozen aisle on the phone with my also-sad friend telling him I had a dream he was married to an Al-Anon section leader and then suddenly we were at his grandfather’s funeral and I was putting white make-up on my face and this film producer with an 80s haircut turned me toward the mirror and I saw that my head had become a pyramid and it split down the center right between my eyes. I turned toward my friends and said “I never knew it was like this” and we looked at my head in the mirror and there were all these doughy white perfect circles and squares. The producer invited Steven Spielberg to travel inside my head, and when he arrived, my head grew bigger and bigger until Steven was tiny like an action figure and wearing a space suit, and a beam of rainbow light shot out from inside my head as he entered.

One of the store employees passed by my conversation and only heard, “My head became a pyramid and split down the center.” She gave me a look you’d see on a show like Girlfriends.

I wanted to stay at T’ai Chi tonight. I didn’t want to be let out into the world. Something about the rain sucks when you’re not in love. The thick drops splatter in palm leaves and you feel you’re not living out your full purpose. I took extra long in the locker room. Qtipped my ears. Picked through the hair binder bowl for two more of the pale pink ones and shoved them in the pocket of my hoody.

I found out my T’ai Chi teacher is married to one of the students. I think it really irks him when she checks her Blackberry during class. Before I knew they were married I often saw them walking sweetly together and I imagined she was his Martial Arts prodigy. That he said things like, “You must learn that it is less about control and more about intent.” Now I wonder if their conversations are more like, “What is so important that you have to keep checking your Blackberry?”

There’s another lady in my class who’s an Energy Worker. Once I was stretching before class and she came in and said, “How are you today?” I said, “I’m okay,” and she goes, “Are you REALLY okay?” Followed by, “I’m an energy worker. I know these things. Did you know your energy goes seven feet beyond your physical body?” I wonder if my aura is any good at basketball.

And there’s another lady in my class who has full-on plastic surgery--the cat-look with the blown-up lips and everything. On the first day of class we did a move called Repulse the Monkey, and she grabbed my arm and said, “Not Spank the Monkey. Repulse the Monkey.” And then she cackled.

My movements in class are large and sweeping. It’s the only time in my life I’ve felt I have long legs because I am almost always running into Plastic Surgery Lady and often have to scoot back a couple steps before “White Crane Spreads Its Wings”.

Today Plastic Surgery Lady came to class wearing a poufy skirt with dogs all over it and Louis Vuitton-ish flip flops. After our first time running through the movements, the Energy Worker held out her hands and said, “There’s electricity running through me. Feel.” And Plastic Surgery Lady said “I can’t touch you. I’m a Gypsy.”

I found it odd, and I laughed. Just a hiccup--the umbilical cord of hysteria--then stopped. So many surgeons had touched this woman’s body that the idea of her not touching Energy Worker’s hands seemed completely absurd to me.

I just read this book where a girl starts laughing at her mother’s funeral and she has to cover her face with her hands. Then she feels her father’s hand on her neck, he is comforting her, and she realizes her dad thinks she’s crying. The author says it was the moment the girl learned how to lie. “Fall On Your Knees” by Anne-Marie MacDonald. Check it out. Then stop at Chapter Six where a girl is baptizing her dead sister’s baby and the drunk dad comes out and causes a scene and the baby is left in the water twenty seconds too long and freezes to death and you can’t bear the sadness.

I remembered how Plastic Surgery Lady had grabbed my arm to tell me her Spank the Monkey joke and I wondered if she’s like me with Judaism where I won’t write the full word G-d but once in awhile I’ll sneak pepperoni.

When I got home I sat in my car in the dark and just let the water freckles hit my windshield. Someone across the street from me is learning to play oboe and I find it so comforting. I hear the first note, a pause, then a second one like an added thought. Then it’s those two notes again, and a third note that reaches like it’s panicking at the edge of a swimming pool. It barely hits its mark then dies like a loon’s last breath.

I stayed in my car and imagined getting my T’ai Chi license, and becoming a favorite instructor, and changing my name to Donna, and wearing a chunky fuschia necklace and living in some kind of mountain resort in New Mexico, entering my T’ai Chi studio with hardwood floors, much tanner, much more peaceful, some weeds fastened and falling from my English Patient hair. In this fantasy I know that only love, the universal kind, can make you happy. And I live alone in a brown, curved one-bedroom apartment with giant windows. And then I think, This is just me having a fantasy about being Julia Cameron. Can I please have a dream about my life where I’m still me?

“I see your true colors shining through.
I see your true colors and that’s why I love you.
So don’t be afraid! to let them show....

Your true colors are beautiful
like a rainbow...”

(and then it kind of dips at the end)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

IndirecTv

So my neighbors had DirecTV perform a root canal on my ceiling at 8am waking me up from my dream where I’d taken a trip to Iran and slept through the whole ordeal and then later when people asked how it was I had to lie and say “It was awesome”, because I was ashamed at having squandered the opportunity. And then I had to get a job as a personal assistant working in a cave but part of my responsibilities included sorting Ethan Hawke’s jeans, which were folded neatly in some kind of cave-ish crevice, and just by attempting to sort them I made an even bigger mess, Then my sister Hilary, who had arranged the whole trip to Iran, made a pit stop at the cave to show me a video montage of me sleeping on various boats. "Here you are again," she'd point with the remote control at me on a canoe with my tongue hanging out, “We just carried you place to place.”

DirecTV Drill: zzzzzzzzzblahhrthhhhhyuymhnzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I opened my door to investigate and was thrown by an even louder drilling noise. “Omigod…,” I didn’t even mean to say.

My neighbors, who live right across the hall, had left their door open and I saw a teenager emerge from their hallway in Sponge Bob boxers and a potbelly and challenge me with a “What?” and I wondered if the lesbian couple had adopted an indignant teenager from Encino.

I came out in my Hermit Outfit (pink robe, and these special socks my sister got me for Minnesota winters) and saw there were two men in blue button-downs crouched like how animals shit, directly above where I lay my precious head. “What are you doing?”

“We’re here from DirecTv!” one man said with a smile so big he was like a special needs person showing me an art project he’d made with my jewelry while I was sleeping.

“Right.”

Now I was the curmudgeon. All I could do was make eggs. It’s a process for me to cook because I have no three-prong outlets so every time I want to use an appliance I go through an unplugging and replugging process with my adapter. Sometimes I imagine someone coming to stay at my place (not sure if it's a nightmare or a fantasy...just a thought hypothetical in nature) and I have to carefully explain all my systems, how they can function quite happily in my little box if they follow my instructions. "You can use the toaster oven at the same time as the hot plate because the plug is a two-prong." "NEVER turn off the lights. Then the refridgerator stops working." And then down to the more frivilous details, "The mirror goes BEHIND the flowers to create the illusion of MORE flowers."

I sat with my eggs watching the footage I’d collected the night before in a fit of inspiration…about five minutes of a stream of water hitting a pile of pennies in my bathroom sink, then me lip syncing to something I made on Garage Band…holding candles up to my face and so forth. Who am I.

Why do I live in Hollywood.

That’s what I thought as I bundled back into bed. My beautiful dark room. Kind of chilly, felt like a cabin. Full bottle of Mountain Spring water by my bed. Traffic like distant rain.

Then the hammering began.

Friday, June 19, 2009

mmmm

Multiples was a kiosk in Ridgedale Mall that sold pieces that you could mix and match, like you’d get a red cotton shirt and matching tapered pants and then you’d pick out something called a “tube” that was basically a circle of fabric that served as a belt, and you could scrunch it up or wear it in your hair, but only if you knew how to re-fold it exactly like they did in the store. They sold the “tubes” in solid colors and in prints and if one friend got a turquoise outfit with a purple tube you tried not to get the same exact thing so maybe you’d go purple with turquoise tube, or you would do something crazy like I did in my phase where I only wanted to wear black and white for a year just like the ad for Exclamation perfume, then later tried to poeticize it by saying I had wanted to “look like an old-fashioned photo.” You could do what I did; buy just the tube in black and white leopard print, and believe the salesgirl when she said, “It’s totally long enough to wear as a skirt,” and then you could believe her and wear it to seventh grade over a pair of nylons and be tugging at your butt all day while trying not to let the seam of your pantyhose show up the front because the only way to keep your shirt tucked in was to tuck it into the stockings.

I have disdain for those black and white photographs of children wearing adult clothing and handing each other roses. I don’t like the idea of children as adults, pretending to act out adult concepts...especially having the kids together on a bench, or sitting out on a porch, aren't those places adults go to have depressing conversations? "Can I talk to you outside?" I've had my worst conversations sitting on benches watching ducks. Or coming up with major solutions on porches. My friend found out she was pregnant. We ate almond butter and went through ‘creative wedding’ books. I was conscious of blowing my cigarette smoke in the opposite direction. And I hid my cigarette whenever someone over forty passed on the sidewalk. I never wanted older people to hate my generation, and now look at me hating these black and white children.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My LIFE is untitled


Which recycling bin is for magazines? The blue one, right? Good because I just dumped out all these magazines I was keeping in a basket by my bed, because I like to draw pictures out of magazines, and I was thinking I'd eventually have one month dedicated only to drawing once I lived in a place with double French doors that opened up to an outdoor area with giant circular table I'd have to crawl on to create. And it would never be so windy that the pages would start blowing and I'd lose my place and have chalk on my hands that would get all over all the other pages, and if it was windy it would just be a fluke, and I would have a basket full of rocks next to my giant circular table to hold down the pages just in case. And hand sanitizer. And very close to the door I would also have a basket of cardigans to choose from in case of any drastic temperature change, so I wouldn't have to interrupt the flow of the Great Creator creating through me. I'd stored these magazines thinking I'd bring them when I moved to that place, because by that time they would have stopped selling magazines in Malibu. It would have just become a place for lovers and giant circular tables.

Okay, there was a point when my grades fell in high school and my counselor recommended I take a course called Notetaking and Study Skills with Miss, Miss Kaluskity? Some name that reminded me of ice skating. She had pastry-like hair, like a giant Danish, and she loved three-hole punching and dividers, and she also taught us shorthand. Nobody used shorthand back then but it was fun doing assignments in a secret snaky language. I'm pretty sure I fantasized about writing a love letter and then when I realized it was over the top I could shame the lover by saying, "You don't know SHORTHAND?" Then tell them it wasn't a love letter, it was just a grocery list...even though at the time your mother was the one who did the grocery shopping. You could say she let you compose a supplementary list, even though at the time you would not have know the word supplementary. Or maybe you would have know the word, but in the context that once combined, both of your and your mother's grocery lists would make an 180 degree angle.

So please excuse the following list of undercooked uhhs. I'm going to keep Found Notes here because I have no other place to store them--especially these, the ones I just excavated from my car after having written on napkins/receipts that got lodged deep in car cushion creases, in the glove box, under the seat.

FOUND NOTES

Black crow using its beak to tear up tape on construction site

I’m just an organism fat lips & a heart

Awareness like singing “gone away from me” all down the steps

“If that were made of chocolate I’d dig my face right in”

THE WORLD HAS ALWAYS MATTERED.

Cashier walking out eyes skim tops of cars the full parking lot pumps his ego like this is a big big party and he’s the bouncer, you're lucky just to be in this LOT- but he’s wearing tropical shirt like so maybe we’re waves

Herman Hesse/Family services

If no one had ever seen packaged food It’s 2009 and the only way we know to open wine is to smash it on the floor (not ok to eat glass)

Monday, June 8, 2009

You Are A Genius

Electric purple petals got blown all the way down to the mental home on Stanley. This morning one of the tenants helped me parallel park, “Keep going, keep going, now stop.” Then when I got out of my car he congratulated me. “See? You did it!” I hope someone loves him. I hope someone loves me. Maybe we should love each other and just parallel park all day. I’ll have to tell him about my steering wheel, how the pump with the steering fluid is broken and it’s hard to turn. That’s why it took me so long to back up. That and I didn’t want to run over his feet.

I think that home is working. Everyone seems highly functional.

Usually by the time I leave here and walk by the big brown home, one of the tenants has left tiny cups of water for the public out on the porch railing. The water isn’t measured with any kind of consistency...some glasses have only a couple drops while others are overflowing. I imagine the person who put the water out justifying this by saying, “Some folks want more, some want less. Everybody’s different”. I think he or she would use the term “folks” because the building has an old-fashioned, Southern look to it. Maybe I’m romanticizing it with that description. It’s actually falling apart. Wait--is the water for the public or is it an experiment in evaporation, or were those once empty cups that someone put out to catch the rain...The answers to this and much much more in another train of thought that goes nowhere.

Now a swarm of 20-somethings in navy blue t-shirts that say “Michigan Love$ The Price is Right!” are squinting at the menu at my coffee shop, my coffee shop, I own it, no but I wish I did, no I don’t, if I owned this coffee shop I’d have to do book keeping and the last time I did book keeping I ended up stealing a nightgown. What? Well this professional gambler once hired me to add up all his personal expenses, and he also asked me to clean out his daughter’s room and if there were any clothes I should throw them away, so I just took the one thing.

YESTERDAY AT THE “GENIUS BAR”
Me: What kind of computer do you have?
Blake (the Genius): Me? A really old Powerbook.
Me: Do you all your friends ask you for computer help?
Blake: No. They either know as much about computers as I do--
Me: Wow.
Blake: Or they’re the outdoors type.
Me: (observing a child) Is that kid watching ‘Up’?
Blake: No, that’s a game. He’s playing a game.
Me: Really?
Blake: There’s a game for everything.
Me (eyes swelling with tears): I know....(then) Blake?
Blake (taking my face in his hands): You want to me to kill you.
Me: No.
Blake: You want to take me to Colombia.
Me: No. Just wondering if it’s possible to install Microsoft Office.
Blake: It looks like you need version 2004 or earlier. You can’t get that here. You can’t get much here.
Me: I can’t even get my heart broken?
Blake (taking my hands): Stay here. (runs into the back room. ME sends a text message to a friend: “HEY, IM AT APPLE STORE. DO YOU NEED A NEW COMPUTER? I WILL TOTALLY BUY YOU ONE. ALSO, I WANT TO START HAVING BREAKFAST PARTIES. WHERE EVERYONE COMES OVER AND MY APARTMENT IS CLEAN AND WE EAT MANGOS.” BLAKE returns with a small dark package.)
Blake: You should leave now. (I quickly pack away my laptop. Blake is already calling the next customer to the genius bar.) Miguel? Miguel? Hey man, I’m Blake.
Me: Okay then....
(I leave the Apple Store, sit down on one of those glossy wooden mall benches, open the dark package. It’s MS Office 2004. Not really, but this is a fantasy. If anyone reading this has MS Office 2004...)

So all these Price is Right kids are here; one of them in a pink baseball cap that says HOLLYWOOD.
-What are you getting?
-I don’t know. What are you getting?
-I think I want a mocha. No...
One boy reaches into his shoe and pulls out damp twenty, uncrumbles it, and rocks back and forth, a thumb in each pocket, blowing air up into his bangs.

The barista is patient with the group. I can’t tell if she regards them as a profit or a pain. Poker Face.

Behind me is The Wolf, who I used to crush on, imagining I’d fall asleep on his leather couch on a windy day next to an open window while he was in the other room doing dishes. That was a nice fantasy because it allowed me to avoid so many other things, like the work in front of me. I think I developed the crush for that reason.

The goal is to write 2,000 words today. My friend just said that’s her sister’s goal, and now it’s mine. I’m a goal-theif. My soul starts beeping and the guard pulls your ambitions from my bag. I stand there covering my face saying, “I don’t have a receipt! Just a phone conversation!”

Did you know baby sharks can swim in as shallow as two feet of water? Frankly put, I am longing to go back to temple. We are all contemplative today. Even The Wolf, who sits with his legs crossed into a giant question mark, holds his face and gazes glazedly out the window. And now softly through the speakers Christna A. is making it clear: she’s beautiful and don’t you bring her down today...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

CABLE




I was just waking up from a really long nap on my friend’s giant plum bed where I had a dream that I married a giddy blonde woman who had rosacea all across her chest. A friend passed through the reception, asked if I was happy and I replied, “Everything’s fine, but there’s nowhere to put my head.” The bride was bony. Well, she was wide-bony. Like thin but big-boned and kinda rectangular.

And then my friend's cable man knocked. Not an aggressive knock at all. More like he was hoping I wouldn’t answer and he could go back and tell his boss, “They weren’t home.” And then he'd hand his belt over to his doubtful boss, who would shake his head and say, "You know you still have ten houses left to fill your month." And the cable man would have just been so happy that his belt was off, even though it left residual moisture around his waistline, and now he could go home and fill himself with carbohydrates and grape soda.

When I opened the door he was panting with a glistening forehead, and barely able to compose a greeting.

I could hardly watch him as he lowered himself to his knees, one hand grasping the edge of the bureau in an effort to balance his weight, and simultaneously trying to mute the loud creak of each kneecap pressing on the hardwood floor. He had this panicked look in his eyes after his first descent, where he remained silent for about ten seconds before he turned my way and apologetically asked, “Do you know where a store is? I need to get, uh, batteries?”

“Batteries?”

“Yeeeah...I have this device? That helps me figure out where to put the modem? Do you have any large square batteries?”

“I...don’t live here. But there is a store up on Beverly, if you go West a little. It’s called Rexall, and they have that kind of stuff.”

I had to dig to find my jeans under the covers, which I had peeled off at some point in a heat-fit. Once I answered the door I realized that because the jeans were low-cut the underwear was pulled much higher and now he could see my underwear coming out the top but who cares, I’m a person, leave me alone.

“Okay,” he said, pulling himself off the floor with twice the effort, “I’ll run out to the store now. I’ll leave my stuff here so you know I’m coming back.”

“Do you promise you’ll come back?” I rose to my feet, tears orbitting the soft pink parts right under my eyeballs where sometimes I accidentally get eyeliner. I took his hands in mine, pleading up into his Shrek-ish eyes.

Not true. More like I was swerving half-asleep between the remnants of my dream and a question about batteries and on top of it I was feeling lightheadedly hypoglycemic, my tongue was dry, I wished I could get on all fours and have someone pet me, nothing romantic, just another friend who would come and take over my position as the friend who waits for the cable guy.

He closed the door behind him and I kept myself awake reading the same page over and over, which is what I’ve been doing for a week and a half with To Kill A Mockingbird.

When the cable guy came back the protagonist was giving the backstory on Finch’s Landing, all I saw was the word Maycomb over and over, I still didn’t know the speaker’s gender, and I wondered if I would be a better reader if I could have the words projected on the ceiling.

He was lowering himself again onto the floor and I wished I could help him but without making contact. Like maybe I could have a cable connecting him to the ceiling (but not covering the words of Mockingbird) through a loop and I would hold the rope on the other end and just bring him down gradually by giving more and more rope.

He was there for another half hour before he said, “I put the modem? On that table? But she can move it anywhere.”

“Oh great.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

WINTER WHITE

I'm so grateful for the breaking news on Yahoo's homepage that it is now okay to wear white after Labor Day. Now chefs will won't hide their faces when they show up in their standard white uniforms on that first Tuesday in September. Nor will angels cower behind flashy harps to camouflage their fashion faux-pas.

If you're still self-conscious you can always wear these "Winter White" items, most of which are a total steal:


Teeth
Stained doilies
Polar bears
Vanilla bean ice cream
Carol Channing's hair

I think this song is really beautiful.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

SWAMI RIVER

I went to a Hindu temple on Tuesday, and I'm going back this week. The Swami was this little man swathed in melon-colored robes talking about joy and pain and how if you touch a pan and say "the pan burned me" it's not really the pan that burns you, it's the fire. There's a part of us called Sakshi, which is like a witness, and is always neutral (like the pan)...So say I quit smoking and I am going crazy and can't sleep and only want to cry and eat mango spears, that's my body coloring my Sakshi. So I am not in pain. My body is. And that's what's keeping me in alignment right now so I'm sticking to it.

Sometimes a performer is trying to enter at neutral but it's possible that she had a boot on her car earlier that day and had to pay a huge fine and now what you're seeing at a comedy show is more of a meltdown, but who are you to know, with your neutral Sakshi. But if she has a microphone she can try to gather the synapses as they fire and use them to heat some comedy brownies.

Sorry if I'm butchering these religious concepts. I'm still trying to grasp them. Oh, and also, after I left the Hindu temple I side-swiped a big metal pole and now I have a giant black scratch on the side of my car. A karmic scar. That sounds like a poem, "On the side of my car/A karmic scar..."

On the side of my car,
a Karmic scar. Now poised
by Griffith Park I arc
my back to eject
the nicotine gum set
deep in my psyche.

Oncoming antonyms
flash hazzards in my throat,
engraving my lungs
with one final honk,
one more thing
that can't get around me.

So here's a fun game. Watch this video where I'm going crazy under a gold comedy mask and see if you can pick out the times I....

1. Can't formulate a sentence
2. Offend the Japanese culture
3. Pick my nose
4. Apologize to the guy who booked me for saying the F-word which was the one word we agreed I would not say.
5. Ask a man if he's pregnant.
6. Say I don't like music.
7. Tell a woman her name reminds me of arms like chicken wings.

(And that's not me smiling. It's the gold theater mask infusing my Sakshi. Not pictured: Tragedy mask. But it was there)

video

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

ELECTRIC MAYHEM

This is Lizzy reporting live from Peet's Coffee in Larchmont. We just had a very "Hollywood" power outage. Some girl with bleach blonde extensions sitting next to me was like, "What The F*$%? I have an iChat meeting at 12:30. What The F$*#?" To my right a guy with an eagle studded on the back of his flannel (a very "I got a development deal" look) was on the phone with his agent, "Well now I CAN'T read the script because the power went out in here. No. I was running on Reserve Battery Power."

Ten minutes later the power came back and the blonde had moved to a table with a moustached man a in an ironic t-shirt, was playing with her earring and complaining, "...because things were so slow this year for pilot season..." and he said, "I know. My desk was empty."

And the eagle-studded flannel actor seems content now that he's downloaded his script. He's squinting at his screen, with some sort of whipped cream drink to his right, his lips barely moving but his eyes making emotional shifts as if he's on camera. He's cracking his knuckles, imagining himself at the audition.

Outside there are some hot guys eating salads. I want a salad.

Monday, May 11, 2009

IT'S HAPPENING AS WE BLOG










Mercury really is in retrograde. Do you care? Do I?

Growing up I was exposed to rudimentary astrology and also some pretty unusual coping methods....for instance, once I was stressed out and my Mom said, "Picture yourself sitting in a glass cube. But whatever you do, DON'T LET IT FILL WITH WATER." I still like to swim and everything. I just have an aversion to Houdini.

According to an "Astrologer to the Stars!" I met at my old day job, I'm a Leo with a Leo rising and a Libra moon. She knew what signs her dogs were too. These tiny white dogs in her office full of giant neon furniture.








Broke-o-vich



From now on I’m only doing things as if I’m Erin Brockovich. Or Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich. I am going to hand-deliver all important documents. I am going to take my comedy door-to-door. I'm going to perform for desk clerks at every county water board. And when someone says they won’t sign a contract, I am going to warm their heart by carrying a baby. Does anybody have a baby?

I woke up yesterday wishing I was married, thinking, "Wow, it would be nice to hold someone right now. But would they be grossed out that I just sneezed into my Strawberry Shortcake beach towel? Wait, I wouldn't have done that in front of another person."

Because here's thing: Living alone, I feel like a wolf. Just an animal. I can do as a please, leave whatever wherever,
say anything aloud without judgement.

Like once I was dating this guy and I was at his place checking my email, saw something I didn't like and said, "Dammit!" He asked, "What's wrong?" And I thought, 'If I were alone right now, I would never have given my reaction a second thought. It's just that now there's an observer...'

By they way, I washed the towel. There's some girl in apartment fifteen who never smiles and she was taking her clothes out of the dryer, folding them very slowly. I said, "Hey, can I squeeze in and throw my stuff in the wash?" She paused, and with this all-knowing motherly glance, she goes, "I'll be done in a couple minutes," like she needed to be alone in the laundry room to fold her socks?! Ughhhhh. I wanted to go back and ask, "Is your life so bad that you need to control the laundry room?" I also have this new neighbor who has a ton of tattoos up his legs and a forest green sheet covering his window. Forest green reminds me of every guy's bedroom in high school and a sweatshirt that around the same time I wanted from Eddie Bauer. When you're young and you tell people you like a color, you start getting everything in that color.

It happens with cartoon characters, too. I have a friend who said she liked Mickey Mouse and now she has a Mickey Mouse teapot, Mickey Mouse towels, a Mickey Mouse toothbrush. All she needs to complete the theme is for Mickey Mouse to come over and shit on her bathmat. There's a time in your life when people think you're going to start making money, or get married, and that you'll get to replace all the old stuff you have. But sometimes that takes awhile and you're stuck with the same things you like when you were eighteen. You still have the holey plastic crates and the paper cranes and the lava lamp. And the Strawberry Shortcake towel.

Here's one of my favorite parts in Erin Brockovich: When Erin brings her boyfriend to tell the very sick woman that she's getting five million dollars. Her boyfriend says, "I still don't understand why you want me to come with you." And Erin says, "I want you to see what you helped me do."

I want to be able to say that to someone. My equivalent: Dragging someone out to a show in the valley and saying, "I want you to see what you helped me do." Then afterward would they ask me to sign an I.O.U.?

I do need money, by the way. I keep avoiding the topic of rent with my landlady by bringing up Swine Flu.

O Life!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Scatterbrain

I fantasize that I was in the room when traffic rules were established. The conference room always looks like an Edward Hopper painting and I’m making a point in a conservative scarlet suit.

“You’re telling me people who want to make left turns are going to WAIT in the MIDDLE OF AN INTERSECTION for the light to turn YELLOW and then just turn without knowing whether the oncoming traffic is going to STOP?!”

They tap their pens and a stubby man pipes up, "Well, Lizzy? Can you think of a better solution?"

And then my moment: “I say we prohibit all left turns.”

A deep silence swells and one man with slick black hair rises from his chair.

He scratches out a Goodwill Hunting-esque equation on a dry erase board that proves mathematically how only taking right turns will slow the flow of traffic by seventy-five percent and also waste x-amount of fuel.

"Choose your battles," I scribble in the margin of my legal pad where I've also doodled flowers and a certain kind of spiral I learned to draw from watching a show called The Secret City.



There he is. Commander Mark. After I learned how to draw spirals I only wanted to draw things where I could apply my technique; beanstocks, telephone cords, and cartoonish drawings of "crazy" people with spirals flying out of their brains.

Neither Commander Mark nor dry erase boards existed back in the 20s around the time traffic lights were invented. I tend to abandon chronological order, and not just in my fantasies. I need to look at a timeline in order to process a sequence of events. Once my friend Jodi and I made timelines of our lives but they made us sick to our stomachs so we burned them outside The Hungarian Pastry Shop.

I also struggle when I'm learning the rules for board games. The other night I was at a party where a woman was explaining how to play Scattergories. I even took notes on my little pad of paper with my tiny pencil, the kind you have to press down on really hard.

I wrote:

3 category cards
12 blank lines
4 lists
2 lists of 12 categories

What the hell. So now I have to solve a puzzle before I can play a game?
Then I looked down and saw the 20-sided die and felt Oh Dear's slip through my body.

"So how does all this connect?" I asked.

And pretty soon everyone forgot about Scattergories and started eating macaroni.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CHICKEN


Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
-Sylvia Plath

I’m not sure which is more disconcerting; the interaction I had with the cashier at Panda Express or my romantic dream last night involving Al Gore.

The dream took place at a Christmas party. And I was sitting on Al Gore's lap in a puffy red velvet dress and he asked me why I was so deviant around everyone yet so shy around him. I kept socking him in the arm. I think we were in love. Then today I googled images of him and he looks nothing like he did in my dream.

Oh, and I have replaced my blue cardigan. The one I lost at the beach in my earlier blog explanatorily entitled “I Lost My Blue Cardigan”.

Picture it: Forever 21. Hollywood, California. 2009....

Me: Hi! Do you still have long cardigans?

Small Employee: Umm.... (bites fingernail, looks around helplessly, as if I’ve just told her she has ten seconds to answer a trivia question or I’m going to tell the guy she likes that when she was in high school she put a Cheeto in her butt and had a dog eat it out) Ummm.... (then she doesn’t even say anything, just wanders out from behind the counter without saying “Follow me” or anything.

But I follow her, and when reach our destination, it’s not a table full of cardigans. It’s another employee. A Medium-sized Employee who is already engaged with two girls in baggy geometric tunics.

Me (to Small Employee, hoping my description will help): It’s a blue cardigan. No pockets.

Small Employee says nothing.

Small Employee (to Medium Employee, just above a whisper): Do we have long cardigans?

(Medium Employee says nothing, just starts walking. This must be a trend for Spring; alongside Magenta, the biggest "Fashion DO" is Saying Nothing. Small Employee doesn’t follow. She goes back to her register and hides.

I guess I am supposed to be following Medium Employee now. This is a whole culture. It’s like one of those movies where someone in armor takes the protagonist into a dungeon, announces her to the ruler of the dungeon, then disappears. It’s like that, but with out the torches and distant screams. So Medium Employee is taking me on a zoom-walk through the store pinching sleeves of things going “THIS is a sweater...THIS is a sweater...THIS is a sweater” and I’m wondering what kind of behavior I’ve exhibited to warrant this factory response. Then I think of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements, agreement #1: Don’t take things personally.

Medium Employee comes to a halt, turns toward me)

Medium Employee (with a fake-chipper smile): That’s it! That’s all we have.

She walks away to not help the next customer.

Me: Cool. Thanks.

Then I turn and there’s a whole table of long cardigans that had somehow been excluded from Medium Employee’s sweater-lesson. My blue cardigan was right there, glimmering in a pile of acrylic waste.

And the Panda Express scenario...ugh, it pains me to write about how this jerk charged me twice for Orange Chicken and when I pointed it out he kept insisting "It's two entrees."

I pointed to my receipt and said "I only ordered one Orange Chicken and you charged me twice." Seriously, I'm broke and if I wanted two entrees I would have ordered something else besides a second order of Orange Chicken. He said, "No. Two Entrees." "How is that two entrees??" His answer? "It's two scoops." I said, "Ok, but I didn't order that. All I ordered was Orange Chicken. Two words. ONE ENTREE."

That sounds like a movie trailer. "In a world (explosion noise) where you can choose your own sides (another explosion noise) whose side are you on? This Fall...TWO WORDS. ONE ENTREE. Lizzy Cooperman complains in...ORANGE CHICKEN."

I may have looked like a crazy person, but what does that even mean? I had an acting teacher once who said if you don't stand up for yourself, if you just swallow your emotions, you lose who you are. I think I want to stop eating meat again. The only reason I started up again was that my friend shoved a meatball in my mouth at a New Year's party and I thought it tasted good.

Sometimes I feel like I'm leading a crusade to promote good customer service. Last year I hand-delivered this letter to Best Buy:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have written many Thank You's, but this is my first letter of complaint.

I had been online and picked out a keyboard I intended to purchase from your store. I also had a list of other things I needed. I was in the keyboard section for a good ten minutes without being approached. I then wandered around searching for an employee who wasn't already engaged in a conversation. When I finally got the chance to one of your employees for help with the keyboards, he said, "I don't work in that department," and went on to help another customer. I then found and asked another employee for help. He pointed to ANOTHER employee and said, "I don't work in that department. Ask him." I then went up to "him" and said, "Excuse me, could you help me out with some keyboards?" To which he begrudgingly replied, "What do you need to know?" I said, "Here, I'll show you."

I started walking toward the keyboards, relieved I had found someone who could help me, assuming he would follow. He didn't move. I said, "Could you please come with me?"

I asked him if one of the keyboards had built-in speakers. He said, "I hate to say this, but I honestly don't know."

I asked the price of another keyboard and got the same answer.

Then he said, "I hate to refer you to another store, but you might want to try Guitar Center."

"Okay...well, can you direct me to the USB storage devices?"

He vaguely gestured across the store, "They're between those two columns."

I searched around for the USB storage devices for a good five minutes until I found them, but still didn't know if it was compatible with my computer. I finally caught one of your employees and asked if it was Mac-compatible. He said, "Yup," and walked away.

I then needed to buy tv/dvd connecting cables. I asked yet another sales associate where they were and, again, he did not lead me, but instead mumbled, "They're in Home Entertainment."

I asked another associate in Home Entertainment where the tv/dvd cables were. He handed me a package of cables and said, "These will work," and sent me home with the wrong product. I had even taken the time to take pictures with my camera phone of the outlets on my tv and dvd player so I could be specific with whoever ended up helping me with the purchase. But the curt, unwilling- I don't even want to call it "help"-I received did not take the time to ask me what kind of devices I was using, and the effort I put in was wasted. Now I have to take time an hour out of my day off to come back to your store to return the product.

When I finally reached the register, the girl who rang me up was involved the entire time in a personal conversation with a fellow employee. The only thing she asked me was if I wanted to sign up for some kind of card. Again, no humanity. Just pushing product.

I have worked in retail and customer service for the past seven years of my life, and I have to say that this is the worst morale and/or the poorest training I have ever witnessed in my life.

I have worked for both privately-owned companies and major corporations, and I know that sales can't just be about moving product. I treated your employees with respect by assuming they had product knowledge and respect for their customers, and I did not receive the same respect in return. I left feeling not only uninformed and unsure of my purchases, but utterly disrespected, and as if every stereotype about major corporations treating people like numbers had been completely reaffirmed.

Had one person, just ONE person put some humanity into their work, not only would I have been satisfied, saved time and energy, and brought back my business, but it also would have saved your employees time and energy, and maybe that ONE PERSON would have felt a sense of satisfaction from knowing that they contributed to my experience. But that's the exactly the problem, as I mentioned above. Your store operates like the stereotype of a major corporation and misses out on the one aspect essential to repeat business: The Individual.

Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions about my experience. I would be more than happy to share.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth Cooperman


Also, have you ever found an old journal and realized you’ve been dealing with the same themes in your life as you were in 2007? My journals are still littered with the phrases "I have to go to Kinko’s" and "O Great Creator!" I am the same, identical woman.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Fahrenheit 4/20

Two images yesterday:

1. Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours where she's wearing that long ruffly dress and she starts at the shore and just keeps walking straight into the water.

That's what I did yesterday at the ocean, but without stones in my pockets nor death as my intention.

Mental note: Swimwear with rock pockets.

2. That Shel Silverstein poem "It's Hot" where the speaker concludes "I think I’ll take my skin off/ And sit around in my bones." Do I have to put another period after that quotation mark? It just looks so weird. .". Like Mr. T with his mohawk and earrings.

Do you know the poem I'm talking about where the guy is just sitting there, a skeleton yet he has a full face, dripping wet, and all he wants is a cooler climate. A poem about a guy who can't afford air conditioning, or maybe he has the box kind like me but can't get it to stay in his window. Not everyone has windows like that, that slide upward into exactly the shape of an air conditioner. And if anyone built a house that way they'd be building a house for someone who couldn't pay for central air and they wouldn't be very successful in the real estate market. Or maybe the speaker is one of those people who plays the martyr and just wants to say, "I have to work on Monday. I can't just fly to Alaska on a moment's notice."


So those two images.


Now see the image above?

I've been reading the Osho book on Intimacy for about three years now. My bookshelf is a medicine cabinet, and I go through several books a week, skimming for emotional, spiritual, and financial cures I can implement in a moment. Even the abundance thing where you write yourself a check for a certain amount...I have all these checks lying around that at one point I had taped to my ceiling or to this picture of yellow flowers. I can only have people over if I know they won't laugh at my Vision Board.

That dolphin towel was a gift from my parents. It's one of my staple possessions, having also served as a bathrobe and a welcome mat. It makes me think of, "One foot in sea, and one on shore, to one thing constant never..." You should really hear Emma Thompson speak those words (link below), which refer to men and not beach towels, but if you look closely at the design on the towel, it does represent part shore, with the distant palm trees, and then part sea, as we are met practically face to face with these fish.

This is actually a towel about love and perspective, as we get to see things from the perspective of being underwater, as though we were

1. Virgina Woolf dying
2. Fish on a beach towel
3. Not giving a shit about this idea
4. Being told that everything has to do with the ability to see into another, or from another's perspective

I have to go. My mind is melting.

"These trees don't know any ten commandments, the birds don't know any holy scriptures. It is only man who has created a problem for himself." -Osho

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cKTHeeBaNw

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SEX AND BABE PIG IN THE CITY


I am working on this as a cinematic mash-up.

Here are some basic plot structures:

1. Carrie loses her pigskin Balenciaga bag, and on her search, stumbles into a PETA meeting and it totally changes her life! She vows to never wear leather again, unless it's a really important art opening.
OR...
2. Babe is lost in the city and stumbles into the diner where the 4 women hang out in baggier clothes than they wear for going out. They befriend Babe and get to hear about juicy farm romances and then finally convince Babe to stay in NY and work as Miranda's paralegal. The twist? Babe has lied about his legal experience to impress the girls and now must take a crash course at a community center where the teacher happens to be...someone Samantha previously bedded!
OR...
3. Babe goes into the city, gets hit by a stroller at a high end toy store, and slips into a coma. Charlotte is there and mistakes Babe for a stuffed toy, and brings Babe home to her new baby. Trouble stirs when Carrie plans a Congratulations-On-Your Baby-Bacon-Brunch at Charlotte's and Babe wakes up to the familiar smell. He tramples through her house, destroying her Laura Ashley-esque curtains, and even eating one of her pregnancy tests! When they call Mr. Big for help, he comes over, carrying a pig of his own! The women learn to accept pigs, and they all head out for a day of complaining and facials in the city.
OR...
4. Samantha goes away for a Farm Weekend Sex Retreat. She has a fling with a country boy, and on her way back she finds a note tied to her vibrator that says, Expect a surprise. He ends up mailing her a pig...and has it delivered to the PR Firm where she works! Miranda drops by to tell Samantha that she didn't appreciate the comment she made at last week's Underwear Party, but when she sees the pig, she falls to her knees, jerking with tears, and recalls a story from her childhood about how all she wanted was a pig and they only way she could fulfill that desire was by taking another risk, which meant going to the store and buying L'Oreal Feria Dye, and now she's worried she will never see her natural color again. Carrie and Charlotte happen to pop in with sandwiches, and they all tell their saddest stories. Then there's a storm, a terrible storm, and they are forced to rearrange the office into their own apartment, where they live for the next three or four episodes with the pig.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ms. Pac-Man

My friend and I were playing Ms. Pac-Man (I don't have a proclivity for video games but I like dark rooms and lazy Sundays, and it was so out of context maybe I could count it as an Artist Date) and I was actually zooming through one of the boards (what's that rhyme that doesn't really rhyme: "Make believe you're confident/and you may find/you're just as confident as you pretend you are") at which point my friend said, "Wow, you're doing great!" And right when he said that, I got killed by a ghost.

I've behaved this way before--like when I was little taking a Tiny Tumbleweeds gymnastics course at the YMCA my teacher told me I was really close to doing a pull-up and right then I let go of the bar and thumped down on the mat.

So GAME OVER. Classic self-sabotage. Then I thought, "Maybe the real self-sabotage is that I'm wasting my time playing Ms. Pac-Man."

So this is how I tried to justify it: She's not Mrs. Pac-Man or Miss Pac-Man. She is MS. Pac-Man. She is the Gloria Steinem of video games. If you catch her in a slow moment and look closely at her skin, you can see she has a tattoo of Rosie the Riveter. She believes in the radical notion that 8-bit creations are people.

Then I start getting really sad, watching this little leg-less lady swimming through this maze, and I scribbled this down on a napkin, which I found this morning crumpled in with my tax forms (O Life!):

Every night
In search for fruit
I'm devoured by ghosts.
The breathless turn blue
As they pass through
Digital thresholds.
Overlapping eyes
Pinball in their heads
Like Chagall's happy goats.

I can only reincarnate
so many times.
One, two, one, two,
Blinky, Pinky, Inkey, Sue.
No more girl-on-girl crime.

Keep your pellets
Out of my uterus.

I Lost My Blue Cardigan

video


And "blue cardigan" is not code for "faith in humanity," or "Ralph's Card," or "Heart In San Francisco"...

What was I doing at the beach in sweater-weather? O Life! O Impulse! I only had it for a couple weeks and those weeks passed so quickly! The cardigan sleeps in the sand now, like a lyric in a Tony Bennett song, and perhaps one day will biodegrade and become part of the Earth. Oh dear. Do acrylic blends biodegrade?

Hopefully it will not get washed into the ocean and smother a fish.

I just had a memory of a voluptuous girl with black hair and tons of eyeliner performing this poem at a high school speech competition where she demanded that the listener, "CARESS MY THIGHS BY THE AEGEAN SEA!!"

This sweater was perfect because it was long enough that when I sat at the coffeeshop it covered that slice of skin between jeans and eternity. O BLUE CARDIGAN! Nancy Cardigan. That was her name.

The only documentation of this sweater can be seen in the above video.

Fly, dear button-down, fly.