Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ten Steps it Took Before I Heard the Alarm

Once I was driving home late at night from Bakersfield where I had just dropped Darla off at a friend’s house. Harry was asleep in the backseat. I could barely keep my eyes open.

We were in some town, I forget what it was called, but the main attraction was a State Penitentiary. When I got off the highway there were two signs pointing down separate unlit roads: Blahdeblah State Facility and Visitors. I chose Visitors. Somehow, in my delirious state, this seemed to make the most sense.

I pulled in to the first motel and parked up close to the manager’s office so I wouldn’t have to wake Harry. I walked in to a small office divided in half by a wall of plexi-glass.

The smell of fruity incense was overwhelming.

On my side of the plexi there was nothing but worn carpet. On the other side was some crazy fantastic Indian diorama with colorful statues of elephants, women with six arms and Hindus in unfathomable sexual positions.

I pushed a buzzer and waited. I think I yawned the kind of yawn where it feels like you can’t stop.

After a full minute an Indian guy walked out from a door behind the diorama side of the plexi-glass. He wore an orange silk shirt unbuttoned to the waist, a plastic gem ring on every single finger and had bulgy eyes like a pug (one of which was focused steadily at something to his extreme right).

He pushed an intercom button and said Good Ev-en-ing.

He told me a room would cost 59.99. I gave him my card and license which he made photocopies of. I signed the paperwork and he gave me a key-card.

I noticed when I went back out to the car that there was only one other car in the parking lot, all the way down at the other end, and that the rear door was open.

I walked up the outdoor stairs carrying Harry on my shoulder like a bag of rocks, found the room number and tried to slide the card into the slot.

It wouldn't work. (push play to hear the sound in my head at that moment)

By this time I was fully awake. I looked around and had a sudden fast-speed reverse flashback of everything that had happened between the time I got off the exit to right this very second and I turned around, walked down the stairs, drove back to the office, waited another full minute and asked for a refund.

I always wonder what would have happened if the key-card had worked.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Judging Leonard

Harry: I don’t know why Natalia likes me.

Deirdre: She likes you because you’re quiet and smart and an excellent dancer.

Harry: I don’t get it.

Deirdre: You’re the handsomest boy in third grade that’s why.

Harry: I am not.

Deirdre: Who’s more handsome than you?

Harry: Leonard.

Deirdre: Leonard looks like a turtle.

Harry: Mom!

Deirdre: He really does.

Harry: I can’t believe you just said that.

Deirdre: What do you think he looks like?

Harry: A squirrel.

Deirdre: Fair enough.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Gap

I went to the Gap yesterday to return some kids pants that I should have returned a while ago. The guy at the register told me that because it was past the 60 day limit, I could only get 60% off the regular price, even though I had a receipt that said I had paid full price.

I have relatives who will not accept this sort of ass-raping but unfortunately none of them were with me to speak on my behalf. I had accepted the possibility of this exact scenario before going in the store and was hoping I would find a nice gap person who would be happy to overlook the 60-day issue (I usually do) but I knew there were odds.

Ok, I said (do what you gotta do).

The guy picked up the pants, held them an inch in front of his face, SNIFFED THEM, and put them down in front of me.

Is this a dog hair?

It... might be?

I don’t think I can sell these now with all the dog hair and dander.

All the dander?

Yes, the dander.

Can’t you just go like this? (I said and shook the pants like a picnic tablecloth) Voila!

But see, I know there is still dander on there. A customer who has allergies might buy those and sue us.


Oh yes, you can never be too certain. (he unclipped his walkie from his straight-n-skinny mid-rises and called for the manager)

But these pants are now 6.99.

I’m sorry mam, some people are seriously allergic.

Do you think those people leave the house though? Don’t those people shop at special stores?

The manager came over; this was the girl I had been hoping for. This was the girl who had friends, realistic plans, and good healthy bowel movements. She picked up the pants and listened while he whispered in her ear. No. No. Uhn hn. I don’t think. I know but. No. They’re fine. She looked up at me and smiled.

All good mam. Thank you.

Yes. Thank you. I love you.

Not only that, but on the way out I saw a woman shopping in the sale section with TWO GOLDEN RETRIEVERS. I stopped and talked to them and gave each a full body massage and then shook my dandery hands all over a table of tshirts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This Makes my Day

Please watch.

Tickets Anonymous

My name is Deirdre Lewis and I have a problem getting parking tickets.

(Hi Deirdre.)

Hi, um, I need to start out by saying that I just got a ticket yesterday.

(It’s ok. Don’t worry honey. You’re safe here.)

Thank you. I’m sorry—I’m going to try not to—you’re so kind.

(Go on girl. You can do it!)

Ok (clears throat). I got a ticket yesterday because I parked outside of my son’s Tae Kwon Do studio. I know… it’s a risk. I’ve gotten six tickets there already this year. Sometimes I leave my car in the loading only with my flashers on. Sometimes I park at the 15-minute spot in front of the Armenian Market. I know I know. It’s a chance that I take. I always think, I know it sounds stupid, but I always think: I’ll just run out and check every 15 minutes. Put another quarter in. Sit in the drivers seat. Whatever it takes. And then you know, behind that thought I have another thought, which is: This is my son’s Tae Kwon Do class! Shouldn’t I be allowed to get him there on time and stay and watch? Don't I have enough to worry about between leaving my job early to get him there in the first place and making sure he has interaction with a father figure, that I shouldn't have to worry about where I park. I can keep an eye on my goddam car, but let me sit on the bench and watch. I don’t mean to be self-righteous but you know, I--, I---. I can't help it. It’s just my nature.

(You can do this, Deirdre. We love you)

Ok so I parked in the 15 minute spot and I run out at 12 minutes, maybe it’s 14 and there’s that goddam freak with the bouffant, all ready with her car double parked, flashers going, her pad out, standing behind my car and I say Wait! Here I come, I have some change and she says over her shoulder, (in slow motion like a soldier about to throw a grenade), It’s.. too... late. And you know, well, I tried, I mean I, I couldn’t just…. I just snapped…

(This is the hardest part. Keep going. You’re almost there)

I told her she was a miserable human being. I asked her what it feels like to wake up every day hating herself. I asked her how it felt now that she was out of prison for molesting kittens.…

If someone had asked me: Deird would you like us to handcuff her and set fire to her head, I would have, well I… I would have said... YES. I would have. Said. yes.

(You did it, doll. Way to go. Yes!)

My name is Deirdre Lewis, and I get parking tckets.

(Clapping and cheers)

And I will never win against the parking ticket lady. I. Will Never. Win. Thank you.

(standing ovation)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Last Straw

I was just asked to leave the room because Twilight is on and I couldn't stop talking. The problem was though, I couldn't HEAR. If you ask a friend to put two full pieces of bread in his mouth and then talk to you as though you were seated next to him during a dramatic scene in a Broadway show, then you get the volume and diction of Bella and Edward's voices. I'm definitely Team Ed, but it was hard to get into it when I had to keep asking what they said.
Did she just say "Listen to my wet Johnson?"

Happy song

My favorite part is when she smiles.
She may look like she has a broken heart, but she can still play a beautiful and happy song.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spacy and Old Timey

I didn't love this video but I love this girl's old fashioned singing. It's a good song to listen to on a Friday night in the springtime just before dinner.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Inventors of The Ski Mask

Yeah, why not?
I just think it’s, you know, odd.
What’s odd about it?
Well for one, your entire face is covered.
That’s the point.
But how can you see?
Well. I just. I mean I can sort of. Like if. OK, you’ve got a point.
(long silence)
I’ve got it.
Cut out two eyeholes.
Are you sure?
(quiet, busy part with scissors)
Yes. Look at that.
See what I’m saying?
(I remember the bit on Sesame Street about co-op-er-a-tion. It was always this magical thing that no one believed in until they realized that suddenly everything was easier. Co-op-er-ayyyyyy-tion. Now it’ll be stuck in your head all day).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And You May Ask Yourself

I have started keeping a list of all the times I have to repeat myself.

Don't stand on the furniture. -14

Don't eat while you're on the computer. -32

Get dressed. -6482

Pick up your clothes/pencil/action figure. -83,627

You get the idea. This morning I asked Harry to brush his teeth 3 times and then I said: now you have to lose a privilege because I had to ask you more than once. He said: you never said that.


You never told me that rule.

Yes I did.

No you didn’t.

Yes I did.


January 27th at 3pm.


You may think this is more satisfying than it really is. I started the list because I wanted to keep a grip on my sanity. But now I’m pretty sure that it’s a reflection of the exact opposite. I mean it’s nice to win a few battles. But who is really winning the war?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It Doesn't Take Much

I know it's crazy but I look at this and I think Hooray![6ea9812e348f0d1ff429df45575405581d9c4be9_m.jpg]

Cut From The Same Cloth

The ides of March was yesterday, the day Julius Ceasar was killed. Julius was the one who said Veni, Vidi ,Vici. I came, I saw, I conquered. That’s a good one. He also gave way to the word Caesarian, or, I guess his mother gave way (thank you and good night everybody). He did not like facial or body hair so he had himself tweezed but he was embarrassed about being bald and that’s why he wore the little wreath on his head. Why do I know these facts? My favorite was that once when some senators came to honor him, he refused to rise to greet them because he had diarreah. (PS They were the same senators who later killed him.)

Who is the person that recorded these facts for all perpetuity?

We are definitely related.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wait. What?

I love this guy. I love what he's saying about what we eat. I love his voice. But isn't it a little weird when he's talking to the unhealthy American, that he basically says: You're a big fatty and you're going to die if you keep eating this way. Really you are. No. Really. And then he gives her a hug.
Also isn't he kind of pacing around a lot?
I have the exact same uncomfortable reaction when I watch reality TV.

The Dogs in My Neighborhood: Lalee

Filthy Bugger

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Unknown Soldier

After my stepdad died, we had a memorial for him at Quaker Meeting. There was an old man there, close to 90 I’d say, who got up and spoke about him. He said that though he had been a medic in World War II, he never saw any action, unlike Bub who was a sergeant who fought on the front lines for five years. When he spoke of this, his chin started to tremble and he had to look down and clear his throat. He spoke about “boys” like Bub who served and how much he respected them. He talked about how years later he met Bub, who worked with his wife. How he picked her up and dropped her off, every morning and night, in his truck. He said she referred to him as her work-husband. She had marveled at how Bub had a knack for organizing people and getting them to do things, always with a sense of humor.

What was so amazing about listening to the man speak wasn’t how recent his memories seemed or even that he was so emotional but that until that day I had never before met him or even heard of him.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Rare Combination of Circumstances

I have heard that during a storm at sea, when the waves get up to fifty or seventy feet high, there’s a sound, almost like music, that breaks through the loud crashing, like someone slamming their hands down on a church organ over and over and over. I don’t know why but this terrifies me. It terrifies me, but I also think it’s beautiful.

Maybe it’s that there can be something recognizable during something so completely out of control. Maybe it’s a pairing of something un-natural with something natural. I don’t know why this is called a “perfect” storm but maybe there is, in fact, something perfect about a rare combination of circumstances.

When Mo went to Africa, she lived with a small group of fifteen orphans in a tiny village it took almost a full day of air travel and roadless navigating to get to. She had to get 16 shots and vaccinations just so she could survive for a year without contracting malaria, ebola, parasites and other diseases. And for the first time in her life she was completely on her on. It terrified me. But I also thought it was beautiful.

I’m not sure you can teach a person how to have a successful and exciting and fulfilling life. You just have to be in the right place at the right time.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Acrobats vs. Best Buy

It's too bad there weren't any video cameras on when this happened. I think there are certain crimes that should go unpunished. I also think there are other crimes that should have much more serious consequences than they do. Aside from the obvious: child abuse (which is self perpetuating), animal abuse (which leads to murder) and drunk driving ( which also leads to murder), I think the following should also have mandatory 80 year sentences: being both a hypocrite and a radio talk show host, politician or priest, getting a job giving parking tickets, and being a deadbeat parent. All those things make this Best Buy heist seem like a work of art. Plus they were stealing macs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

You think I'm Funny?

In the same way a mother can tell the difference between hungry crying vs. hurt crying vs sad crying, we can tell the difference between laughter than is fun vs. laughter than is happy vs laughter that is very quickly about to head into another direction.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

An Argument for Nursing Homes

About 12 years ago I lived in a loft next to my landlord's office. He lived with his mother who had Altzheimer's and when he came to work he'd leave her outside in his truck with the windows cracked. Sometimes for a couple of hours. You're probably thinking oh, that's horrible. I did too, until I went to chitchat with her a couple of times and each time she'd start the conversation with a variation of "That nigger stole my purse". After that I didn't really question what he did with her.
He was always in a rotten mood. I would hear him sometimes through the kitchen wall. I could hear him let out a groan and say "I don't care", each word a sentence by itself, in a voice that sounded simultaneously perplexed and enraged.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


There should be a word for what happens when you see someone you don't know very well out of their usual context, like a teacher in the grocery store or a mailman at the movie theater. In a movie, quite often, this is a sign that something strange and possibly horrific is about to happen.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


There's something both incredibly sweet and numbingly herd-like about standing in line waiting to go on a ride. If it's crowded and hot, it is a true test of spirit and a time when you might even make the mistake of trying to evaluate your life. You are part of a whole group of people trying to have fun. It feels strange. Sometimes if you go on a ride and it's amazing, you want to do it right away again. But it's never the same.

I remember going on a ride like this with two of my sisters and Morgan except in my memory it was a zigzag vertical drop of about two hundred feet and the tube we were in did not have seats like this and we spun and descended like we were being flushed down an airport toilet. We all laughed so hard that no sound came out.