Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"I'm looking through you, where did you go? I thought I knew you, what did I know?"*

           Well, I’m leaving Omaha today. It’s been a nice long vacation and I feel well rested and well fed. It was my dad’s birthday the day after Thanksgiving, so in addition to the copious turkey, stuffing, potatoes and pies left over from the holiday, we also had an AMAZING birthday cake from Bliss sitting around. I polished off a good third of it. Yum and ew, at the same time.

            I’ve not got much to say at the moment, except I feel it necessary to point out that I was misinformed when I said on Wednesday that Omaha doesn’t have those x-ray machines in the airport. Apparently, they do. I don’t think I went through it—they have to tell you, right? It’s random, right? I’d hate to think that the TSA crew just got a free show and I didn’t even know about it. I know a lot of people are concerned about the harmful effects of radiation, but I’m really just worried about getting naked in front of the airport staff. My body just isn’t where I want it to be right now.

This is atrocious! And this isn't me, so we're clear.

            And with that being said and the holiday being over, I head back to Los Angeles to begin again my obsessive war with food until December 22nd, when I lift the ban on delicious things again until the New Year. (Okay, I just lied. I have no ban on delicious food. I have no self-control.) Thank god for the holiday season and stretchy pants. And, Omaha, I'll see you at Christmas. 
Aww...that's nice.

*Quote is from an esoteric 60's band called The Beatles. "I'm Looking Through You."

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Well, what exactly is... 'a water landing'? Am I mistaken, or does this sound somewhat similar to crashing into the ocean?"*

Marcy and Me Part II
            This is the continuation of the story of my first flight home for Thanksgiving which I mention here.
            Marcy received her first glass of chardonnay and I got my tomato juice strait up, and we went right back to talking about the Union Pacific Railroad.
            It was fascinating stuff. Marcy had been working for them for a good ten years (she was one of those women who looks like she’s 45 but is probably only in her early 30’s) and she had lots of great stories.
            She asked me why I no longer lived in Omaha and I explained that I was in college, and she thought that was a good plan. I was pleased that I was pleasing her—I’ve always been overly concerned with strangers’ opinions.
            Marcy explained that she wished she didn’t live in Omaha, but her mother lived there and wanted her to stay in town, since she’s an only child (unless you count her pathetic, unsuccessful brother) so she felt kind of obligated to never move.
            I said my parents were adamant that I attend college at least 500 miles away from Omaha (this is true—they didn’t want me trying to come home on weekends; and they were smart because I totally would have) and she thought that was cool.
            She said her mother was all alone in the world since her father had died, and if Marcy—her only child (aside from the brother who didn’t seem that important)—didn’t stick around, her mother would be a wreck.
            During this time, Marcy leaned further and further into my personal area. She wasn’t being rude—she was on her third glass of complimentary chardonnay and feeling friendly. I unfortunately (?) was still downing my first glass of tomato juice and couldn’t quite wrap my head around being in kissing distance from a stranger.
            And then things got sort of personal.
            “So, do you have a boyfriend?”
            “No, I don’t.”
            It’s funny, when you’re extremely young and have had boyfriends and aren’t too worried about eventually having them again, it’s so easy to be honest and say, “No, I don’t have a boyfriend.”
            (I mean, at that point you think you’re going to live forever and date princes and movie stars and then eventually settle for a sweet, organic farmer who plays the guitar and writes Nobel Prize-winning novels in his spare time. Right?)
            Marcy sat in my face for a moment, breathing her firewater breath into my face. She sighed heavily.
            “Um…do you?” I asked.
            “Yeah. And oh my God, it’s the hottest relationship of my entire life.”
            She leaned back into her seat as though she truly needed a moment to think about how sexy her boyfriend was and how to best describe how truly “hot” her relationship was to a stupid college freshman who was reading The Voyeur and sipping tomato juice like an idiot.
            “Wow, that’s really great,” I said. I waited.
            “Can I tell you what happened, though?” Marcy asked.
            “Of course! I mean, sure, obviously.”
            I was in one of those moments where I feel somehow that I’m watching something sick and twisted—something I shouldn’t be seeing. It is in these moments that I feel a kind of perverted euphoria. Always have.
            “I don’t know what’s going to happen with us. I mean, have you ever had a sexual experience so intense that things got…out of control?”
            I pretended like I was trying really hard to remember a life rife with crap loads of sexual experiences, and I busted out some sweet acting skills. I furrowed my brow and bit my lip.
            “Not…not really. I mean, god, my life’s been so crazy. It’s hard to pick a time when I wasn’t out of control. Sexually. You know?” I just talked and talked.
            Around this time the flight attendant refilled Marcy’s chardonnay glass for the third time. Marcy took a large, thoughtful swig and leaned into me.
            “You wanna hear a story?” She hissed alcohol into my ear.
            “Yes. Yeah, I do.”
            “Okay, so my boyfriend—his name is Greg and he’s so perfect. I mean, I think he really loves me. We’ve only been dating for a few months but I can already tell he isn’t like other guys.”
            “He sounds terrific,” I tried to keep my words simple—I didn’t want Marcy to get sidetracked.
            “And he came over and things were getting a little, you know, crazy in the bedroom. And I have these three dogs…”
            She leaned away from me out of her seat to look for the flight attendant. The newest glass of wine had disappeared quickly.
            “Yeah, Marcy? What kind of dogs?” I wanted to keep the story going. I was enthralled. And a little bit nauseated.
            “Um, well one’s a German shepherd and the other two are mutts. Where’s that flight attendant?”
            “Well, keep telling the story. I’m sure she’ll be here soon.”
            “Okay, so anyway. Greg and I were doing it when suddenly he got this great idea that he wanted to do it, you know...that way.”
            “Which way?” I didn't really know what we were talking about.
            “You know. That way. Like…" She whispered. "Like...doggie style!”
            “Oh, goodness,” I responded. Doggie style. Interesting. I made a mental note to look that up.
            “And so we closed the bedroom door so the dogs couldn’t get in, because Greg hates the dogs and they’re crazy. And anyway, we started going at it and—“
            “More wine, ma’am?” the flight attendant appeared with the bottle.
            “Oh, yes. Thank you!” Marcy swigged at her fresh wine.
            The flight attendant walked on and Marcy, with her new glass, started relating the story with a clearer focus.
            “So he’s going at me from behind--" (aha! I thought!)--"when suddenly, SNAP! His penis hits my pubic bone and—whoosh! There’s blood all over the place! He’d fractured his urethra! Can you believe it?” She looked at me with a sick, foggy smile.
            “What?! Oh my god! Wait, what happened?”
            “Well the blood’s going everywhere and Greg’s screaming in pain and so I call the paramedics! And then I’m running all over the house trying to get him towels and ice and the dogs get into the bedroom and they’re leaping all over him and I just don’t know what to do!”
            “Wait, are you telling me he broke his…?”
            “Yes, he broke his penis. It was terrible. And then, when the paramedics arrived and knocked on the door I realize, oh shit, I’m still naked!”
            “A man can break his penis?” I felt sure I would’ve heard about this before.
            “And so I have to put clothes on and corral the dogs into the kitchen so the firemen can come help Greg!”
            “Oh, Jesus!”
            “Yeah, it was really intense.”

I should stop here. This story is getting much too long, though it is almost over. If you’re still with me, many thanks! If you want to hear the end of Marcy, let me know. It’s pretty close to being over anyway. I may rewrite this at a later date. Smooches!

*Quote from, yet again, George Carlin.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"The Wells Fargo Wagon is a-coming down the street, oh please let it be for me."*

            I cried at the bank today.
            I didn’t mean to and I was trying to hold it together, but Wells Fargo had made me an emotional wreck and RUINED MY LIFE and I couldn’t help it.
            The day before Thanksgiving, they called to tell me that “suspicious activity” had been reported on my debit card number and they were going to close it down on Friday, November 25th. I had no time to get another card before heading to Omaha and the replacement card they claimed they sent me on the 7th still hadn’t arrived. So basically, despite the fact that they knew about this “suspicious activity” as long ago as November 7th, they waited SIXTEEN DAYS to let me know about it.
            So I went in there today about 20 minutes before closing and I sat for 15 minutes while a young, stupid-looking banker tried to find a card for me to use. While I waited, I listened to a seemingly friendly but somewhat bonkers security guard talk to himself.
            He said stuff like, “Oh no! I’ve got to lock up those doors in 3 minutes. I have to make an announcement. Boy, am I hungry. It sure is gray outside. I wonder how much longer these customers are going to be here. I’ve got so much to do. I sure could use a nap. Why is he parking across the street?” It took me a minute to realize he was having a full-on conversation with himself. But at least I had something to look at while I waited for the dumb banker to come back.
            After dumb banker activated the card, he explained that it wouldn’t allow me to purchase anything, but it would allow me to get cash from an ATM. Great. How convenient!
            I asked him if he could help me figure out when I would receive the new card or how much this would complicate my life. I asked if it would be a new card number and necessitate me changing every automatic payment I have (which is MANY). He assured me that, oh yes, I was in for a lot of work in the upcoming weeks. That’s when I first wanted to cry. But I kept it together and acted like a bitch instead. My “thank you” to dumb banker was very cold.
            So I dramatically put on my coat, sighing loudly so dumb banker would know how upset I was, and I headed for the exit.
            This particular Wells Fargo has a strange exit that leads you through a hallway with a sort-of Wells Fargo museum display inside. It has models of original Wells Fargo buildings and Wells Fargo wagons and all kinds of crazy crap. Behind that is the stairway to the garage. I started to walk down, but saw a sign at the bottom telling me that an alarm was in effect on that floor and I couldn’t go out the way I came in. 
Museum-type crap.

            Another banker came up behind me.
            “I’m parked down there,” I said.
            “Oh, well you can take the elevators down to the garage level,” said the woman. Her nametag said Mayra.
            “Fine,” I snapped. I was really mad at Wells Fargo.
            So I took the elevator down, but it skipped my floor (presumably because that damn alarm was on) and went down another level.
            I tried to take some stairs, but they took me all the way back to the top. I turned in another direction and ran into a fire exit. I walked back down to the garage. I couldn’t go up or down. I saw another staircase and walked over to it. I walked up and opened the first door. It led into a corridor that was strewn with boxes and looked like a storage unit. I closed the door and went up another set of stairs. I was once again back where I started on the second level. And so I started crying.
            I was so frustrated and I was starting to think I was going to have to live inside the stairwell at the bank. It would be like that book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, where the kids live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But so much less fun and lots more lonely. 
 Rad book.
            I walked down the top flight of stairs crying and thinking about how much I hate everyone at Wells Fargo and what kind of evil things I was going to figure out how to say to their customer service department when a door opened on the middle level.
            The security guard from the lobby stuck his head in and looked at me quizzically.
            “I can’t figure out how to get out of here!” I cried. In front of him. Like I really wanted him to KNOW I was crying.
            “There are some stairs off the main lobby you could have taken.”
            “The lady told me not to!” I wailed.
            “Come on, it’s this way!” He took me down the corridor with all the boxes. “I’m going to have a talk with Mayra. She can’t keep sending customers down in the elevator. You get trapped in the garage.”
            “She said there was an alarm on,” I hiccupped. I’d stopped crying like a little baby, but I was still really upset.
            “Well, Fred! Open up the gate. Someone needs to get out!” He yelled to a garage security guard.
            “Thank you so much for helping me,” I said.
            “Well, I’ve been working since midnight last night. I covered someone else’s shift and I’m so tired I could fall down right now.”
            “I’m really sorry about that,” I replied, but he wasn’t listening. He was walking off in the garage, resuming his conversation with himself.
            I put on sunglasses to cover my red, cry baby eyes and drove out of the garage. I parked immediately on a side street and called Wells Fargo and gave the unfortunate customer service representative who answered my call the worst conversation of her day. MWAH HA HA HA HA HA!!!!
            But I’m still really mad.
*"The Wells Fargo Wagon" by Meredith Wilson from The Music Man

Friday, November 25, 2011

"About this time, someone is telling you to get on the plane. I say, 'fuck you, I'm getting IN the plane! IN the plane! Let Evil Knievel get ON the plane! I'll be in here with you folks in uniform! There seems to be less WIND in here!'"*

 "Marcy and Me Part I"   
            All this traveling and eating puts me in mind of the first time I flew home from Los Angeles for Thanksgiving.
            I was eighteen and about three months into my first semester of college. I had only flown by myself once before, when I was thirteen, from Omaha to Baltimore, and at that point I’d had gate-to-gate supervision so there was no way I could mess things up.
            This time I was too old for a chaperone (or at least they didn’t offer me one) so I had to suck it up and go it alone.
            It didn’t seem like it was going to be too tricky: I was on a Midwest Express DIRECT FLIGHT from LAX to Epply. They don’t have this flight anymore, unfortunately. I’m not really sure if they still have Midwest Express. But I’m sure I’ll look it up at some point while I’m writing this and let you know.
            So anyway, I was able to do a lot of the basic airport things you do pretty easily. This was approximately 10 months before 9/11, so you didn’t have to be a ticketed passenger to go through security and my friends Dane and Michelle even hung out with me in the terminal. I want to say that Dane parked right at the curb of the airport as well, but I’m sure I’m making that up. This wasn’t the 1950’s.
            I got on the plane and settled into my usual window seat. I used to be able to fall asleep on planes right away and I liked to have something to lean against. Now I feel claustrophobic and have a constant, violent urge to pee unless I’m sitting in the aisle.
            I remember I was reading The Voyeur for school, and thinking later that that was somewhat amusing given the events of the flight.
            My seatmate soon joined me and I was dismayed to see that she was slightly, shall we say, zaftig. I’ve since gotten to the point on airplanes where I just assume the person sitting next to me is going to spill over into my seat. I’m not lucky that way.
            I opened my book and started to read. Midwest Express had (has? I still haven’t looked that up) only two seats per side of the plane, and they were roomy and pretty comfortable.  I was starting to fall asleep when my neighbor leaned over.
            “Are you from Omaha?”
            She was middle-aged and blonde, with a doughy face.
            “Yes,” I replied. “Are you?”
            “Yes, but I travel a lot for work. I was just admiring your t-shirt.” She nodded at my Union Pacific Railroad t-shirt that I wore constantly from the age of 17 to the age of 21.  (Now it has pit stains.) “I work for Union Pacific.”
            “Wow, cool!” I was genuinely intrigued. “My grandpa was a railroad man for years and years.” (It’s true. He was a brakeman. I think. I’ll have to ask my mom. I always picture him driving the train. Conducting, if you will. But I’m pretty sure that’s wrong.)
Beautiful, old train.

            We began discussing the railroad and she introduced herself as Marcy and explained how she worked in the insurance department of the UP.
            She soon began making my day with stories of gory train accidents. She shared anecdotes about people getting brutally crushed by train wheels. She described the injuries sustained by train jumpers. She talked about a man getting cut in half by the ball-and-socket joint thingies that hold the cars together. It was disgusting and incredibly entertaining.
            Soon the cocktail cart started rattling down the aisle.
            I perked up immediately, because I love drinking tomato juice on an airplane. I don’t ever drink it at home or anywhere else, but on an airplane it tastes delicious. Sort of like how Twix in Europe taste so much better than they do here.
            When the beverage cart finally made its way to our row, the flight attendant reminded us that they offered complimentary chardonnay; along with the warm chocolate chip cookies we would receive later.
            I was no stranger to wine at eighteen. We managed to learn how to drink in high school, like normal teenagers. But I was afraid to get carded and be completely mortified in front of the very cool Marcy. So I stuck to the plan and ordered my tomato juice. Marcy ordered chardonnay and asked if it was limitless.
            And that’s about when things started to get kind of weird.

I will continue this story in another post—maybe even tomorrow. But I’m trying to work on keeping these shorter. You’re welcome!!
 See? Right here!
PS Midwest Express still exists! Only now it’s called Midwest Airlines. 

*Quote is George Carlin.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Omaha, somewhere in middle America. Get right to the heart of mattters, it's the heart that matters more."*

           Did you know that you now have to pay for wireless at the airport? I guess my $523 airline ticket just isn’t enough to allow me free Internet service for an hour. This is why life is so freaking expensive. You get charged for everything.
            I remember the time I went to France I had to pay to use the public toilets. They operated like vending machines. You’d drop in a Franc (yeah, okay, this was a while ago) and then jerk the door open before the machine ate your money. And then when you closed the door after you finished, it would spray itself down completely with disinfectant. Unless you didn’t get out in time, at which point it would spray YOU with disinfectant.
            While I still find this system preferable to a port-o-potty any day (because I don’t want to look at anyone else’s leavings), I think that if I’m PAYING to use the toilet, there should be a little man who waits outside with a pair of rubber gloves and a towel so I don’t have to sit on a soaking wet toilet seat and stand in an inch of liquid cleaner. 
            But I digress. Oh wait, no I don’t. Because I hadn’t started to make any recognizable point anyway. Sorry.
            I’m flying to Omaha for the Thanksgiving holiday and I’m super excited. The only annoying part of all this (aside from the Internet not being free) is that there are no direct flights to Omaha from Los Angeles. So a trip that should really be three hours is going to take about 8-and-a-half door-to-door. That’s a real waste of my life.
            So, barring any serious mishaps, I should be living it up Omaha style by 11:25 p.m., CST. It’s a city unhampered by expensive public Wi-Fi or pay toilets. A city where they still don’t have those pervy x-ray machines at the airport (at least, they didn’t the last time I was there).
            In honor of the holiday, I’m going to leave you with a Top Ten List of things that make me thankful for Omaha. In no particular order.
 String of Pearls. Ooooh. Pretty!
1.     "String of Pearls” That sounds elegant, but it’s really just a string of street lamps they installed a few years ago along the road into town from the airport. When you’re landing at Epply Air Field, it looks (nothing) like a string of pearls.
2.     Getting from anywhere to anywhere else in twenty minutes or less. Really. Anywhere.
3.     People waving their thanks when you let them merge in traffic.
4.   Sgt. Peffer's: a for-no-apparent-reason Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band-themed Italian restaurant with really good rolls. Look at it here.

 Sgt. Peffers: The real magic is the interior decor.

5.    Free metered parking after 6 p.m. and on BOTH WEEKEND DAYS (when did this 8 p.m. thing start in Los Angeles? And Saturday's aren't free any more? It’s atrocious!).
6. Brothers.
7. La Buvette.
8. Zio's Pizza.
9.    Memorial Park. Kids like to go there to smoke weed at night. They usually park in front of my parents’ house beforehand and walk over so the cops won't bust 'em for parking in the park after sundown. It’s become a rite of passage for teenagers in Omaha. Cute. They also have a bad-ass, free concert every Fourth of July. And in the winter, you go sledding. Duh.
10. My parents’ den. I will most likely spend the vast majority of my trip sitting on my butt in there. It’s home.
11. Western Heritage Museum (Durham something-or-other). I know I said the list would have 10, but I changed my mind, okay? This museum has old trains that you can go inside. I want to go there RIGHT NOW!
            Okay, this list wasn’t well thought-out, but it’s what comes to mind. I don't have a lot of time before I board. Hooray, Omaha!
            Happy Thanksgiving!
(P.S. I'd like to apologize to Burbank/The Bob Hope Airport: there is, in fact, free Wi-Fi. I'm an idiot.)

Addendum: DFW, however, DOES NOT have free Wi-fi in all the terminals, so they can go fuck themselves. 
*"Omaha" by the Counting Crows. Yeah, baby!

Monday, November 21, 2011

"But a fool and his money soon go separate ways, and you found a fool lying in a daze."*

Evil Woman Part II.
            This is continued from my earlier post, which you can find here, in which I describe my glamorous journey to New York City with an aging rock star and his evil young bride.
            Continued from my journal of 2009:
-We walk over to FAO Schwartz and Beth buys a bag of candy—at this point I’m so sticky and wet I’m making a conscious effort to widen my stride. (I know, it’s gross. Forgive me, especially if you happen to be a man and can’t handle hearing about these kind of realities.)
- I make several comments in the course of the day’s outing to the effect of “I feel really gross” and “I have to buy some tampons…and underwear,” and Beth keeps saying cheerfully that she fully plans to stop at Duane Reade on our way home. I don’t understand why I couldn’t have run off and done it while they were at the toy store (or at any other point) but I think I forfeited my complaining rights when I slept those two hours this morning instead of playing peek-a-boo with Sophie (like I did all night long).
-We do FINALLY stop at Duane Reade and I buy, on accident, the largest underwear I've ever seen in my life. I mean, these go up to my boobs. But who cares? I buy other (clearly) mentionables and when we get back to the hotel I feel better than I've felt in ages.
-John and Beth take Conor to dinner somewhere nice and leave us to watch Sophie. Beth gives us money to buy dinner—telling us that one of us should run out and get it. I volunteer because I am so excited to have a few minutes to myself.  So I ask the concierge where to go and he sends me out the back of the hotel onto 58th and I walked half a block to the deli on 7th avenue.
-I contrive (somewhat unintentionally) to spend the entire $50 bill Beth had given me. But mostly, I just didn’t know what to get for Lucia. She’s a bit of a picky eater and she doesn’t tell me much about what she wants. So I fill three containers with different kinds of salads, potatoes, chicken, ribs—all kinds of yummy stuff. I really like walking around New York by myself. I wish I had more time to do it.
-My bag finally arrives at about 9:45 pm. I am so happy.
-John rather discourteously, and with many a disgusted gesture and facial expression, says I should clean up the dinner dishes and put them outside for housekeeping. I start crying (no one sees but Lucia).
-Wednesday morning at 7:30, after another wakeful night, Sophie wakes up. I try repeatedly to get her to go back to sleep, but no good. It’s probably because she hasn’t pooped since Monday morning and it is now Wednesday morning. I would most likely be crying too. I did bang my head against the bars of her crib again in exhausted frustration, but believe me: it didn’t solve anything.
-At nine a.m., Beth comes to get her for nursing. I tell Beth to bring her back when she’s ready for me to take over and I lay back down. I sleep until 10:30, and feel much better—but I’m scared to find out what’s been going on. Fortunately, all is cheerful because Sophie is sleeping in Conor’s room and Conor and Lucia are playing quietly in the living room.
-Beth buys Starbuck’s breakfast, explaining that room service is so expensive and it’s not that she doesn’t have the money, it’s the principle of the thing. So I eat a stale bagel and drink a delicious coffee and feel great.
-We go back to Central Park and take Conor to Heckscher Playground to run around on the equipment. Lucia and I push Sophie in circles around the playground while Beth and Conor go on the slides and jungle gym. She likes to take these opportunities to play “fun mom.” We talk about how upsetting the trip has been so far.
 Heckscher Playground, Central Park.
-Beth said we’d get some lunch at one of the copious restaurants along the way to Dylan's Candy Bar. But as is often the case in New York, once you need a restaurant, you can’t really find one—especially one with chairs. So we ate at Subway.
-It was good until I got in a weird sort of argument with Beth about the peppers on my sandwich—I could’ve sworn there was a third kind of pepper I’d never had and she was adamant that they only had two kinds of peppers at Subway and I felt sort of like she was being a little unreasonable—I mean, I saw the man get peppers from 3 different bins, and I suppose the jalapenos could have been sliced two different ways, but it was weird that she was arguing about what I was tasting on my sandwich. Sort of like how she consistently argues with me about people who live in cold climates. She says they can’t do anything when it gets cold outside and snows—that they have to just stay in. Since I come from a place where it frequently snows, a place far colder than New York City, I feel like I can speak intelligently to the fact that people can do plenty of things outside when it snows. But she knows I’m wrong.
-We go to Dylan’s Candy Bar and Beth and Conor go on a crazy shopping spree. Who cares? It’s just overpriced junk food. But she’s Ralph Lauren’s daughter, so she gets to have her own store. Nice. I will say she’s a marketing genius. Way to take a really simple idea and make a fortune out of it. She’s the Willy Wonka of the new millennium.

Willy Wonka.
Dylan Lauren.

-I take a moment when we get home to check my email—I do it in the living room so that I can still supervise the children (makes sense to me, considering Beth and John do it all the time and both Lucia and Beth are there). Conor, being the shit he usually is and hopped up on the pound of sugar Beth gave him on the way home, got into the baby aspirin and spilled it on the floor and Beth flipped out at me saying, “Lacey, can you help? Maybe you can just be here now and there will be time later to play on the computer!”
-I cleaned up the mess and when she came back from her panic in the next room over Sophie’s spit-up (oh my sweet lord! a baby spit up!), I told her I was just checking to see if my rent check cleared and I was sorry and it wouldn’t happen again. I’m starting to think part of the problem is the way she acts as though her children are combustible or fragile—like they’re different than other kids and we have to treat them like we would baby Jesus or a king’s kid or something. They’re fucking kids—and sometimes they get hurt (of course, not when they have 15 care-takers surrounding them at all times) and sometimes they get dirty. That’s life.
-While Beth and John are out to dinner, Lucia and I play with Conor and Sophie. When they come home, we're all dancing to Madagascar’s “Move it, Move It” scene. Beth likes this and imitates it the next night. She can't come up with these things on her own.
-The following morning, I learn that Lucia is sleeping on a four-foot-long LOVESEAT because Conor thinks it’s cool to sleep in a “big boy” bed. Beth allows this—does not stand up for Lucia or attempt to discipline her child so that the grown woman can have a bed to herself. But then again, I’m now sleeping on a couch NEXT to a room with a crib (Sophie’s) and two EMPTY queen size beds—because Beth is afraid Sophie will be kidnapped if she sleeps in a room with a door leading out to the hallway. And if Sophie sees me when she wakes up in the night, she won't stop crying (at least this much we've figured out). But at least my couch is long enough to fit an entire adult human body.


-I go to get the coffees the next day, and Beth says she’ll meet me down there and help carry them back. She doesn’t show. And it’s raining. And there are five coffees, a bagel, some granola, and a muffin.
-We get picked up by a car and go to the three-story Toys "R" Us in the middle of Times Square. It is a hideous monstrosity.  Beth and Conor ride the Ferris wheel while Lucia and I walk around each floor with Sophie and talk shit about Beth.

-When she can’t find us, Beth begins SCREAMING Lucia’s name (I was playing with the baby while Lucia went to the bathroom). It was mortifying. I called to Beth so she’d come find us (and shut up).

-She makes me feel like I’m in high school and I’m about to get caught doing something bad--like I used to get caught smoking cigarettes in the parking lot. But I’m not doing anything bad! It’s like I was saying to Lucia, she makes you feel so crazy because she acts like everything you do is so atrociously wrong that you start to think that maybe it really is atrocious. Maybe you are the horrible, idiot monster she’s making you out to be. But the truth is: she’s completely insane, but has courtroom experience and a law degree, so it’s like she’s a debate Samurai—but though she will win, her argument is asinine. Does that make any sense?
-She sent Lucia to a touristy shop next to Stage Deli so Lucia could buy presents for her family and then got mad when she wasn’t back in 10 minutes and asked me to call her. Lucia got no chance to eat, since Beth was acting like we were in a mad rush to get back to the hotel. Why? So she could go shopping. (Oh, poor Beth! She hasn't had ANY free time with all the parenting she's been doing!)
-Beth made me climb over the back seat of the Escalade because she didn't want to move Conor. (This ended in me losing my cell phone for a day, thereby cutting off all my contact with the outside world.)

-I ask about Lucia and I having a brief chunk of time to ourselves each day—she assumes we mean to have it inside the hotel. With her children. I gingerly explain that we'd each like what some people call "a break." Which is legally required in a work environment. Especially when one's work day is 24-hours long. She is silent. (I think at this point she is REALLY mad that she hired an American-born nanny who knows to what she is entitled and isn't afraid to ask for it.)
-We wash the kids’ clothes in the bathtub with Woolite from the drugstore because it’s “too expensive” to have the hotel do it—and she’s got cheap labor in her suite! It works out okay, though, because I’m able to wash a few things of my own. And laundry gives me satisfaction the way few things do.  I heard from Lucia later that Beth bragged to one of the roadies that with all the money she’d saved having us do her laundry, she was able to buy herself and the kids new clothes at Barney’s. Nice.

Okay, this was another long one. If you're still with me: many thanks! I know that the verb tenses are varied, but I was high on misery when I wrote these entries. Lighter and shorter entries in the next few days! I promise.

*Yet more lyrics from ELO's "Evil Woman."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"I've had a lot of joe jobs, but nothing I'd call a career. Let me put it this way: I have an extensive collection of name tags and hairnets."*

            There was this time a few years ago when I was (yet again) unemployed. I was still kind of cocky about my prospects because I’d recently quit a really stable and decent-paying job (yeah, I don’t know why I did that) and I figured I’d be hired again in no time.
            I spent a large portion of my days trolling through Craigslist for employment, looking to find something that would pay me boatloads of money for very little time. I also wanted the job to be easy and fun. This way, I reasoned, I could make lots of money and spend all my free time pursuing the creative things I really wanted to do.
            My ideal position was personal shopper. I wanted a rich but kind woman to pay me an obscene hourly wage to go buy her fabulous clothes at the shops on Rodeo or that swanky part of Melrose. Come to think of it, I would still like that job.
            So anyhow, one day I stumbled upon the following ad:
            “Successful producer seeks paid daytime companion for shopping and activities. If you’re interested call Ty.”
            It sounded pretty ideal, so I called Ty.
            We had a brief chat in which he asked me about myself, how long I’d lived in Los Angeles, what I wanted to do with my life, and what kinds of activities I enjoyed. I told the usual lies about wanting to make a difference in the world and then it was his turn.
            He explained the position: he basically wanted someone to hang out with him during the day. He’d worked as a producer for years and he had lots of money and interests, but hadn’t cultivated many friendships. He wanted someone to hang out, go shopping, maybe see a movie and eat “fancy” food. He even asked me if I liked to eat “fancy” food. That seemed a little weird, but of course I like to eat “fancy” food. I like to eat any food, as I’ve mentioned before. (Sorry I keep putting quotes around “fancy.” It seems necessary somehow.)
            He asked if I was interested in the job and when I said yes he instructed me to meet him at a café in Korea Town the next day.
            That seemed safe enough, in case he was a psycho or something. 
( Here are some pictures of famous psychos throughout history. The three M's.) 
            He told me he’d be wearing a button down, short-sleeved yellow shirt.
            I’d like to pause at this juncture and say that I’m not one of those really gullible, naïve people who might be at risk for cult membership or anything like that. I sort of figured that Ty was off a little bit (hence, the shirt he planned to wear) and this whole thing was going to be weird, but I also thought that maybe he was just a social misfit who really wanted to pay someone to teach him how to be cool. And I am the perfect person to teach others how to be cool. Truly.
            So the next day I went to Korea Town and got a rock star parking spot right in front of the café—no small victory in Korea Town. I took the excellent parking spot to be a sign.
            I went in and looked around. After ordering a coffee, I wandered around the place looking for someone that might be Ty.
            I saw the guy sitting at a table in a button-down yellow shirt. He was talking to a twenty-something Asian girl. She looked confused and slightly uncomfortable. Within seconds, he shook her hand and stood as she left. She nearly stumbled over the furniture rushing to get out the door.
            I marched forward.
            “Are you Lacey?”
            We shook hands for slightly too long and he invited me to sit down.
            “So, are you interviewing a lot of people today?”
            “A few. Wow, you are really pretty.”
            Everything felt wrong right away.
            “Um, thank you?”
            “So, what kind of restaurants do you like to go to, Lacey?”
            Ty looked about 24. He had incredible acne, the really awful kind that you can't beat without antibiotics and battery acid. He also had braces and the smile of a serial killer.            
            “Uh…you know. Any kind, really. I love to eat.”
            “That’s really great. And are your days pretty free?”
            At this point he leaned across the table and put his hand on mine. I patted his hand and pulled mine away slowly. I didn’t want to be rude.
            “Pretty free. So, what kind of a producer are you, Ty?” I asked.
            “I produce the encoding on CDs.”
            “You know, I make the encoding so you know which company produced the CD. I do DVDs too,” he tried to explain.
            “Oh, like the credits? Like if Timbaland produced it, you’d make sure that was encoded?”
            “No, like the company that made the actual, physical CD, like Memorex. Or Sony. And I put the FBI warning in after the menu on DVDs.”
            “Oh. Interesting.”
            He put his hand back on top of mine (why hadn’t I put my hand under the table?).
           "You know," he said, "your nails would look really nice with a French manicure." I tried to yank my hand away. "Look at my fingernails. I get a manicure every week." He held out his hand. "And I get a pedicure every week--look!" And he raised his foot up so I could check out his toenails, which were clearly visible because he was wearing SANDALS.

             "I think women appreciate good hygiene," he said.

             "Yeah, well I shower every day," I joked.

              "Good, good" he said, nodding his head, serious. "So do you like to go to the theatre?"

              "Yeah, I love theatre! I majored in theatre."

              "Great. I really love the Grove."

             "Oh. You mean, like, the movie theatre?" (I've never before--or since--heard a movie theatre referred to as "the theatre.")

            "Yeah. I like romantic movies," he smiled. My stomach heaved.
            “You’re really sweet, Lacey.”
            “No I’m not! You don’t know me!” I blurted it out. I was really uncomfortable.
            “Well, I think you are sweet. What I’m looking for is someone sweet and affectionate to do all the activities with me that I’ve never had time to do. I make so much money but I haven’t had time to spend any of it. I want to spend it in style, spend it on someone special.”
            “Wait. Is this, like, um, a romantic, um thing? Are you…looking for a girlfriend? That you, like…pay?”
            “Yes, in a way,” he smiled. He had a creepy smile. 
            "So this isn't about learning to be cool?"
            “Nothing. Look, that’s really not going to work for me. I have a boyfriend, for one thing.” (This was actually true at the time. I really did have a boyfriend.)
            “That’s okay. You can do whatever you want during the evenings. But during the day, you’d be my girlfriend. And it wouldn’t be anything serious. We’d just hold hands and kiss sometimes. We could see movies and go out to eat at nice restaurants. I would buy you clothes and presents. And I could teach you to surf, because I bought a surfboard and I plan to learn how to use it pretty soon.”
            “Yeah, I don’t know about all that. Although the surfing part sounds kind of cool. I just don’t think my boyfriend would really be okay with us kissing and holding hands all day. For money.”

            I took a very big sip of my coffee and turned my head away. I just couldn't keep looking at him. Unfortunately, now I was staring at a painting of naked people who appeared to be running a race.

            "I just love the human form," Ty commented.

            "I bet you do."
            “Tell you what—don’t say no right now. Think about it and I’ll call you tomorrow and you can give me your answer.”
            “Um, okay. But I really don’t—“
            He cut me off.
            “Just think about it. I think you’re a really sweet person and I would really love to get to know you better.”
            I’m not sure why he kept calling me sweet. Maybe because I hadn’t run away yet?
            He stood up, so I did, too. Then he hugged me. (Why didn't he hug the Asian girl? Because he liked me better? Ew...) I wriggled out of his iron grip on my lower back and raced out the door.
            I thought about how I’d have to take a rape shower when I got home. (You know—the kind where you sit on the floor of the shower in the dark and wrap your arms around your knees and rock back and forth feeling like you’ll never be clean again?)
            When I told him about it, my boyfriend was a cross between worried and confused.
            “He wants to pay you to be his girlfriend?”
            “Only during the day,” I pointed out.
            “And you told him you have a boyfriend?” he asked.
            “Yeah, Ty doesn’t care. He’s not going to let that stand in the way of our relationship.”
            “You’re not going to do it, are you?”
            “I don’t know. He said he’d pay me $20 an hour. And he'd buy me clothes and presents.”
            That didn't make the boyfriend feel better.
           Needless to say, I didn't take the job. And I had to screen a few unknown numbers for the next several weeks, worried that it might be Ty calling to offer me one last chance at it. But that boyfriend and I are no longer together, so sometimes I wonder what might have happened if I'd gotten a paid girlfriend gig. Seems much more practical and financially rewarding.
           But I didn't. And some other girl is out there getting paid to date my boyfriend.
*Quote courtesy of Waynes' World.