THE BIG LIFE LESSONS
Yesterday, at the Rose Bowl flea market, I noticed a 5ft by 5ft painting of a First Nations warrior on a horse in the middle of a buffalo stampede.
The seller told me the painting was worth $28,000, which of course was completely irrational, the man had it hanging on the side of his van.
After much haggling (at around $400 he cried out “I can’t take $400! That’s crazy!”) I told him, “I guess maybe $175, PLUS you have to give me one of your cookies.”
He sighed, “For $20 more I can deliver to Studio City. I need gas money you know.”
Sharply, I nodded and told him I needed to go for a walk and think about it. As I began to walk away, he shouted, “You’re gonna get me down to $175 and walk away?”
"Yes sir!" I said.
The reality is, the value of that $28,000 painting is what people are willing to pay for it.
The value was nothing.
Sorry dude, the big life lessons are never painless.
Kind of Hertz
I pulled into the return car lot at Hertz, the man with the orange hand cone pointed to my spot, “Hey” I opened my window “I really can’t take the shuttle bus to the airport. I’m having a moment. Can I have someone drive me please?” He wiped his forehead with a bandana and called Carlos over.
I walked around my car to the passenger door while dozens of families dragging luggage out of cars stared. I felt a little guilty that I seemed to be the only one aware that Hertz offers this service, but I really needed it today. I slid into the passenger seat just as Carlos opened the driver’s side door. He was between 50 and 60, slight built, he kind of looked like The Dog Whisperer’s more Mexican uncle.
Carlos adjusted the seat from the ridiculous setting I had it on and got in the car. We began to pull out of the lot. I put on my sunglasses. In a mood.
(( CLICK HERE TO START SONG ))
I turned SiriusXMU up, the White Stripes cover of “Jolene” was just starting.
"Carlos, I really needed this. I’m having a moment. It’s really cool of you to drive me."
"No problem." we listened to the guitar intro and then he said, "This is an old one." Carlos nodded, "Who singing this?"
"The White Stripes. They broke up."
"He’s good. I love this song."
"So do I, Carlos."
I turned up the radio as we drove over the exit speed bumps, just the two of us listening to the lyrics.
Then Carlos began to sweetly sing…
"Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
I cannot compete with you, Jolene”
He had a beautiful voice, much more beautiful than the Dog Whisperer’s voice. Then I felt the lump in my throat. I turned to watch Carlos singing, now much more passionately than before, his eyes were shut and we were driving 60mph down Airport Blvd and I really didn’t give a shit.
"He talks about you in his sleep
And there is nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name, Jolene”
And I joined him. We sang together, the more Mexican Dog Whisperer Carlos and the white girl from Canada down Airport Blvd. We were feeling it. We were in a mood and I hadn’t had a moment with a stranger in a while.
"Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man,
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him even though you can
Well I can easily understand
How you can easily take my man
But you don’t know what he means to me, Jolene
Well you could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
He’s the only one for me, Jolene”
"Oh my God Carlos, this is such a fucking sad song."
"It is, I had a sad time this morning." he said.
"Me too." I said more to myself, to acknowledge the feeling.
I tried to think about what kind of a sad moment he could have had. His kids? His wife? His many, many dogs?
I wondered if he was sadder than I was in my hotel bathroom.
Quieter than before, we broken heart sang the last chorus…
"Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man,
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene,
Please don’t take him even though you can.”
I opened my bag,
"I’m so sorry, I only have a Canadian $10 on me. My daughter gave it to me for buying her a $15 headband before I left Canada."
He enthusiastically took the stupid looking purple bill from my hand, “I collect money. I don’t have Canadian.”
"It’s probably worth $9.50, you know, in case you want to exchange it."
"Canada is playing Mexico today, soccer." he looked in the rear view, "It will be a good game. See, some things are good."
"Yeah." I said, "Some things are really good."
He pulled onto W. Century.
"You’ll get off work in time to see it?" I said, feeling complete confidence that if he said no I could somehow call Hertz and convince his boss to let him off work in time.
"I think I will, I think I get off at 3."
Carlos pulled my rental car to the Terminal 2 entrance and stopped.
I took off my sunglasses and looked him in the eye.
"I really hope Jolene didn’t take her man, she has everything."
He nodded, “Me too.”
We got out of the car, I helped Carlos pull my luggage from the trunk. As I stood on the sidewalk watching Carlos walking back to the car door, a bald overweight white man appeared and was suddenly standing too close to me.
"Thanks Carlos. I hope your country beats the shit out of my country."
The bald man began to try to clear the phlegm in his throat, hocking a loogie.
Carlos put one leg in the car and waved, “Bye. I’m sad that band broke up.”
I nodded, “Kind of a bummer.”
Picking up my luggage, I turned towards the terminal 2 entrance and swung both bags into the shins of the fat man, because fuck him.
Yesterday my foot got a handjob.
"Oh! Look! You have black spot on your foot. Right in the middle!"
She’d been giving my foot a hand job for about a minute when she broke my concentration and pointed out the obvious.
"Yes, I do, I have a spot on the bottom of my foot."
She tugged harder and faster while Drew Carey calmed down a hysterical woman on TV.
"You know what that means?" she had a lilt to her voice, but she really didn’t have to lilt her voice at all. I mean, she’s Asian, and I feel like anything an Asian person tells me is dogma, "It mean…"
God, I hated myself for interrupting, but I wanted to look intuitive.
"It mean you very, very intelligent. I told this by Grandfather who said if someone has spot in middle of foot they very, very intelligent and chosen one. I never seen it until now."
Chosen one? My day was made, my life was made.
An Asian woman with a star tattoo behind her ear and one gold tooth told me something mythical about myself while the TV on the wall blasted the Price Is Right and a person got $1 on their second spin.
That was the happy ending to my foot hand job.
And that’s as close to aristocracy as I get
this is the exact replica of the live version i had euthanized
A baby robin was lying on the side of the road in front of my house; his legs were twitching, he was breathing heavily, his eyes were closed. I went into the house and asked my Hungarian cleaning lady,
Me: Was it lying down with his eyes closed and feet kinda twitching?
Her: No it was sitting in grass, looking around.
Me: Well now it’s almost dead. Maybe I should call an animal helping place or something to come and pick it up. I can’t leave it out there like that.
Her: We hit it with shovel.
Me: Really? Aren’t there tons of ♪ ‘ohhhhh we help wild animals’♫ people just sitting around waiting for people like us to call them? Then they nurse them back with mini bottles. It’s cute.
Her: We hit it like chicken.
Me: We? I’m not doing it. You do it.
And with that, my Hungarian maid went into my garage, got a shovel and bashed a bird for me.
I’m such an asshole
The 40 year old McDonalds drive-thru cashier saw Beatrix. A huge smile crawled across his face. He’s beaming.
Him: Oh!! A BABY!!
He leans out the window to see her, he waves at her enthusiastically, it’s honest.
Him: Hello little girl! HELLO!
He isn’t handicapped, he’s just into the baby, I don’t know. I figure there is a story there, so I pry.
Me: You like kids?
Him: I should, I have four.
Me: Wow four!
This is where I get all weird and ego-y and hate having one child with me when I have three. I hate thinking that people assume I only have one. I work harder than one.
Me: I have three. Mine are at school.
He smiles, kinda sadly, I notice it’s weird.
Him: What do you have?
Me: Girl, Boy, Girl. You?
Him: Four boys. 13,10, 7 and 5.
Me: That must be fun for you.
Him: They are in the Philippines. I haven’t seen them in 2 years.
We now have a weird pause. He looks into the backseat at Beatrix and smiles. His eyes get misty, I think. His body language changes, he drapes his right arm across his chest and holds his left shoulder, hugging himself.
Me: You have the internet though?
Him: Yes we Skype 2 times a day.
He says as he makes ‘prayer’ hands to the sky. What the fuck was I going to say if he said “I can’t afford the internet. I came to Canada and left my family for a good job at McDonalds.” I know I would have told him about the internet at the library, I’ve already thought of that.
On the drive home I think about it from different viewpoints:
"Oh that’s so horribly sad! He had to leave his kids to make money at a McDonalds in Canada!!"
"Oh how wonderful that he can move to Canada, get a job, send his family money until he can move them over here."
"That guy forgot my second fry order"
I get home, open the door, and realize my house isn’t clean. The cleaning service comes once every 2 weeks, I forgot to unlock the door for them. I consider the cleaning service ‘my one luxury’. This is the worst thing that has happened to me in a few days.
When I was 14 I wouldn’t take a job at McDonalds because I felt it was beneath me.
I put my fries down on the floor and crash on the couch with my baby.
I’m such an asshole.
“In 1987 I got a ghetto blaster with a record button and a mic. I started to make radio shows. The ghetto had a double tape deck so I could make copies, and I did, and I distributed them to neighbors and peers for free. What I’m trying to say here is I invented podcasts and I got over them by the time I was 11.”
Birth (vagina vagina vagina)
There really is no comparison to make when it comes to seeing your child for the first time. Not only has your body been going batshit for nine months, but then you have this dynamic atom bomb called labor for the final hours before you’ll meet…. as a prologue.
This is the child you have had inside your body for almost a year and you are finally going to meet this child!
The Joy! The Rapture!
Giant charley horses that wrap around your entire midsection, and WHILE that is happening there is also this weird and severe tearing cramping feeling like something GIGANTIC is tearing out of you…and lo and behold, it is.
Plus, you are probably crapping on the floor/bed (gown, no underwear?).
Plus, you are probably vomiting.
Your mind informs you that YES!!!! you are about to fucking die!!!
This pain, this pain is absolutely NOT survivable!!
You are used to swearing at paper cuts!
You are accustomed to Nyquil and throat lozenges for the most minor irritations.
I’m still pining over the stinging nettle that touched my ring finger this afternoon!
No, no, you cannot survive this pain, your adrenaline surges, you dry heave and everyone around you -stares-
They feel nothing, offering a back rub, offering an ice chip while you lay or squat dying on the floor or bed. Those assholes.
You are literally feeling like you are about to die, body tearing open when suddenly…..nothing.
You catch your breath.
Your husband tells you the contraction is over, your nurse cheers your heroism as she cleans up the bile you so pitifully spewed.
“Oh my God” you finally can speak though you are exhausted and need to lie down.
The nurse offers, “Would you like to stand in the shower?”
OH DEAR SWEET LITTLE BABY JESUS YES!! YES. YES.
I want a shower, and my housecoat and CBS Sunday Morning with a side of french toast and suddenly….
A pain of possible and imminent death wraps around your abdomen.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” you shout as your torso is squeezed by a giant, your insides have never felt so horrible, not even with the worst case of diarrhea on the floor of that dirty hotel in Havana….
You. Are. Going. To. Die.
And this repeats itself, for hours, every 2-3 minutes.
But there is something that will stop it.
You will take the needle in the spine, you will take the needle in the eyeball, you will take the needle, you will take the needle if it is offered.
Because humans are willful, and death isn’t an option.
My story about the film ‘Monster House’
I had totally forgotten about these emails until the two tweets above jogged my memory.
This is a story about the nicest thing a non-relative has taken the time to do for one of my children without getting paid for it.
When Salinger was 7 she became plagued with nightmares about the film ‘Monster House’. Strangely, through a friend, I knew the screenwriter Dan Harmon (@danharmon, Creator of ‘Community’ on NBC).
So one day, in early 2008, I wrote to him:
Salinger has watched Monster House twice now.
Both times she has been plagued by nightmares for at least a week following the viewings.
She only watched it the second time because she was struck by the fact that 4 year old Henry was completely unfazed by it and figured it couldn’t have been so scary.
Me- What is the part that scares you so badly?
Her- That the woman is so evil that even after she’s dead and none of the kids care about teasing her anymore…she turns into a house and chases them. She’s too crazy, that’s pure evil.
Me- Is it the animation that’s creepy?
Her- No, it’s scary that someone is so mean that they could come back from the dead, become something that should not be alive and then try to kill people.
Henry- I think it’s AWESOME
It’s been 3 nights of her waking up crying and I totally blame you.
You should come over and rationalize the entire thing to her.
Okay, maybe you could just write her a note because she doesn’t believe I know the creator of her nightmares.
Here was his immediate and amazing response…….
Your Mom told me about Monster House scaring you. It sounds like one of the things that upset you is the fact that the house kept wanting to hurt people even after nobody wanted to hurt it anymore.
I will tell you a secret that sounds so silly, you might not believe it, but this is true: I never finished writing Monster House before my bosses turned it into a movie. And then different writers, people I don’t even know, changed the story in lots of ways, and the movie that you saw was not the story I wanted to tell you.
I think a good story, even if it is sad or scary while you’re watching it, should always make you a little less scared after you’ve seen it. Because even a scary story, if it’s a good scary story, takes us into strange, dark places that don’t make sense at first, and helps us see that they do make sense, and are therefore not so scary.
And that didn’t happen in Monster House. The kids go inside the house, and everything’s scary in there, but nothing starts making more sense. I don’t know about you, but when I go inside a giant scary monster, I expect to be rewarded for my bravery. There should always be something inside a monster that helps you understand it, and makes you less scared of it, and able to make the monster go away. Not just a bunch of stuff that makes you more confused and scared.
And why, after they escaped the house, did that old man tell them another scary story about a mean fat lady that didn’t make very much sense either? I’ll tell you why. Because Gil Kenan is a hack and Steven Spielberg is a moron. But hey, I shouldn’t be dumping this stuff on you.
Let’s just say, Salinger, that I have a lot of questions about that movie, too. And because I saw them making it, I know it’s not real, so it doesn’t scare me, but it makes me mad that it scared you, because I tried to tell them they were making a bad movie that was going to confuse and frighten smart children, instead of making children more brave, and they acted like I was stupid for being afraid that would happen.
I guess you and I are just smarter than other people, and I guess part of being smart is being scared of things that don’t scare other people. Henry’s a little younger than us and he just thinks the movie looks cool, which it does. And we won’t take that away from him. But you and I are looking at the movie through smart, sensitive, older eyes, and we can see how confusing it is.
The good news is, although our smart, sensitive, older eyes will probably always see more reasons to be afraid than other people’s eyes, we also have smart, sensitive older brains that can make sense of scary things, and make them less scary, not only for us, but for everyone else. Who knows what kind of amazing things you will be doing as you live your life. Maybe you will tell stories, or paint pictures, or sing songs, or climb mountains, or clean streets, or study insects or rescue elephants. But we know one thing for sure: you are going to be very special while you’re doing it, and you’re going to remove a lot of fear from other people’s lives, because you’re smart enough to see it, which means you’re smart enough to conquer it.
I hope one day I can finish writing a movie that they don’t change so much, and if you see it, I hope it makes you happy. Until then, I heard that Wall-E is very good, you should go see that. And next time Monster House is on, just remember that the guy that wrote it told you it was dumb.
And after 4 years of knowing each other online, I finally met him 2 weeks ago: @danharmon, nice guy/genius.
Like ‘BOOM’ for real. (I didn’t come up with that you dummy)
Whenever an actor plays an innocent person on trial for a crime they didn’t commit I think,
"MAN THEY AREN’T ACTING CRAZY ENOUGH!"
Because when I’m accused of things that are untrue? I go fucking bananas.
And I’ve never been accused of murdering someone, in that case I’d go double BANANAS.
So actors/writer, the next time you are playing the falsely accused or writing for one… get real. Get crazy! This person will surely need a psychiatric evaluation because HOLY FUCK there is no worse feeling.
The other day my husband called me from a public washroom,
”Kelly, I’m freaked out.”
Apparently, he had gone out for lunch with a new co-worker.
On the way to the restaurant the co-worker said he needed to make a stop.
He stopped at a crematorium.
When he got back into the car, he lifted up a bag, “It’s my daughter”
His daughter had died the week before, at 7 months gestation, in utero.
"Kelly, I can’t even pretend to act normal. How do I get out of this lunch?"
"Where is the baggie baby?"
"Is it at the table?"
"No, he left her in the car."
"Her? You need to chill out. Where are you eating?"
"Some Vietnamese place"
"Chill out, have some Pho. Pho’s a fucking fixer. Is he talking about the baby?"
"You don’t think it’s weird?"
"I thought you were calling me to feel better? Yes, I think it’s fucking sad and weird. Go have some Pho, I’m busy."
Anyhow, he’s avoiding this guy now.
Whatta’ shame about the baby. I hate this story.