Friday, September 28, 2012

My Mansh

While I was busy hating and judging, my brother Pete was out busy having a fantastic time with all his friends who worshipped and respected him. This is the conclusion I came to. He was well adjusted and friendly and hard working. His life was a big bowl of cherries, a sweet walk and a skip down candy cane lane. While I was followed by black clouds and ghost skeletons riding horses, Pete was walkin on sunshine, high fivin his fans.


It's weird that I thought this, I know, but it helped keep my dream alive, the one where I was suffering and miserable. This was important during my 13-15 year old period. Still, I was really only an evil troll at home; at school I was giggly and fun, maybe not popular but not, you know, worried about being stuck out in left field by myself.

Hey guys, over here!... Guys?

No, I had friends. I was busy. I had places to go, things to do! As soon as I got home though, my black cape came on. I'd walk through the front door skulking (yes SKULKING) down the hall to my room, and slam the door.


If anyone else was miserable, I couldn't tell you. If anyone else in my family got a haircut or a pair of new sneakers, I couldn't tell you. It was every man for himself, that was my motto, live and let die, get the heck out of my way you weird carny/not-normal-family freaks?! Stop talking to me!!!!!!


Anyway, there was a house a few streets away from where we lived, a huge, stone mansion. You could get to it quickly if you walked through the woods behind my house and through a huge meadow where the grass grew as high as your arm pits. The house itself was beautiful, a castle, with turrets and  chimneys and east wings and west wings. This is where I'd have my friends pick me up and drop me off. Well no, that's not true, I only took the bus from there. My real friends knew where I lived. But somehow I managed to get the bus driver to pick me up and drop me off right in front of this gorgeous mansion. My mansion. I didn't know a lot of people on my bus, seriously, I didn't know anyone on my bus, but it mattered to me that they saw me walk out of that driveway every morning and wave to "my parents".

Bye mother, see you this afternoon for tea and crumpets! Father! Have a great day at the office! Thanks for helping me with my homework last night! I love you.

I kept this charade up for two years and I doubt if one single person ever noticed. It was important though, it was important for me to imagine that they did. It allowed me to enter the world of delusion, a place where I have always been most comfortable. If I could have pulled this ruse off with my friends, I would have, but unfortunately I'm a horrible liar.

Oh my God, Deird is this your house? 
It's so beautiful.
Well I...No it's not it's not really. I live in a ranch house with an electric range down past the meadows and through the wooo--hoo hoo waaaaaaaaaaaaa.

I was a horrible liar but it turns out there was someone in my family who wasn't....
to be continued.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Vision

After sixth grade I grew up at the end of a cul de sac where all the houses were a version of the same ranch style 3-4 bedroom. A few had three or four steps up to a split level second floor where all the doors were made out of that hollow wood that scraped along the carpeting when you opened them, and all the kitchens had electric ranges, garbage disposals and a back door with a screen. Every single house smelled like pets, potpourri or a combination of the two.  I never realized any of this, that all the houses were basically the same, until I was in my 20s and had graduated from college. Until then I only noticed the differences. The way Bill whathisname's garage had a door that led directly into the house. The way the Cantrell's stairs went up to the right side of the living room while the Smith's went up to the left. The way the Miller's kept their kitchen closet filled with candy, tastykakes and huge cans of potato chips instead of brooms, wine and cans of cat food like we did.

The main thing I focused on was not how the houses were different from each other though, but how they were different from the ones I wanted to live in. I hated our house, hated our street, hated our neighborhood, hated the neighbors, hated the christmas lights and the halloween decorations, the flags and the lawn sprinklers and I hated the potpourri. I wish I could somehow justify all this hatred by telling you that I knew I needed a bigger world, that there was some horrible deathly suburban darkness that I recognized, but it wasn't that. I was just an angry, perpetually annoyed, brow furrowed, judgmental 13 year old who wanted only what I didn't have: I wanted to live in a big house in a fancy neighborhood, I wanted parents who wore glasses, were serious and went to Harvard, very rich and still married to each other. I wanted them to live on their side of the mansion and me on mine. Screw my brothers and sisters. They could all stay in a shed out back.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I once worked in a fancy department store in a mall near the I-95. Every morning before the doors opened, we'd have a meeting, sort of a pre-game huddle, officiated by the Head of The Place (I can't remember what his title was, but I know it wasn't manager even though that's what he would have been called in JC Penny or Targ), Mr. Pauls. He'd get on the intercom: "Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen: In five minutes we will be convening in the ladies shoe department to go over a few announcements. Please be prompT. That's five minutes. Women's shoes. Please. Thank you." If he had used the same voice his mother used when she called him inside for dinner 35 years earlier he would have said "Hey Ya'll git your fat fuckin asses to ladies shoos Nay-aw!" But he was careful and precise and proud and pleased with his actorly delivery. Mr. Pauls: he spoke his words carefully and clearly but sometimes his effort to disguise his southern roots caused a mispronunciation. He'd say Plez instead of Please, Febyuary instead of February. Still, if we did a close up right now of his lips up against the telephone intercom you could see how well he e-nun-ci-at-ed, you could see his mouth really working to get around those words, you could see a tiny sliver of the peppermint candy in his cheek.

We all convened. Some of us took the escalator up, some down. This was a daily thing, this meeting: part "Good job!", part "You've been slacking and you really need to hustle out there" but this was his time, Mr Pauls. He loved his morning meeting. He loved raising his hands until everyone quieted, he loved giving a summary glance around the room, he loved announcing figures and totals and telling us the CEOs in Dallas were plezzed. He loved wearing his Hugo Boss fitted suit, loved his cuff-links, his silk hanky, his Gucci frames, his splash of Creed fragrance. Good GOD, he loved it.

Did someone just fart? (I stage whispered to Kristy).

Excuse me, Miss Lewis? (Mr. Pauls raised his eyebrows at me, clasped his hands below his belt)
Nothing. Sorry.

You know, I was going to say that the photo above is a pretty fair likeness of Mr. Pauls; I mean the jowls, the squint, the way the neck meets the shoulders; but really it is a better likeness of me, the confused expression, the green frothy smear on his chinny chin chin that comes after being abruptly interrupted from snorgling in the grass. Huh?

 That's me in a fancy department store.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cesar's Palace: Elevating the Drudgery

I’ve always thought it’s weird that the laundromat, a place you go to clean things, is so filthy and depressing. It would not be a stretch of the imagination to see a water-logged rat in or under one of those rusted out machines. And what would you do? You’d move down to the next machine. No one ever goes there because he has a choice. Every person in there is annoyed. Why shouldn’t he be? He had to lug his filthy clothes all the way from home in a heavy bag swung over his shoulder like a dead animal. He is reminded of his own poverty, of his own struggles, of time passing by. The City Laundromat: house of misery. 

Once in a while if I have some big blankets to wash, I have to go. This used be a huge process that involved 3 days of denying it had to be done. I'd go to Lucy's over on Sunset because they have a Starbucks in there, but I switched when I realized it was a hang out for meth-heads and junkies who stood next to me at the dryer waiting to see if I was going to use all my quarters. The last time I went I got knocked into by two guys who had each other in a headlock. I realize things could be a lot worse. In the scheme of life it's not that big of a deal. But there's something about getting knocked hard in the kidney by two sweaty battling junkies that makes you want to re-evaluate your circumstances.

A few months ago I decided to try the place that's around the corner from my house. It's small, located in a mini-mall between a taco place and a liquor store. There was a guy standing outside with one of those metal basket carts. When I pulled into a parking spot, he scuttled the cart over to help me with my bags. Buenos Dias! He told me his name was Cesar. He asked how I was doing. He asked if I needed change. Inside the place was sparkling, the floors were swept and mopped; the machines wiped down and shining. Spanish soft rock played on the radio over the calming sounds of running water and zippers in the dryer. It smelled good. I kept thinking, nothing wrong happens in here. There are no existential crises, no hopeless or sad evaluations of failure. Everything was simple, tidy.

Cesar's Laundry: my new church.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Don't Ever Wanna Feel Like I did That Day

If you can't see this vid, click on the title, A Walking Carnival, up above.

Every once in a while I'll wear a hat and then I forget I'm wearing it and then about 2 or 3 hours in to this hat wearing, I'll start feeling uncomfortable, slightly odd, like a headache is approaching, a headache like a lone man on a horse in the desert way far off in the distance. And then, for one reason or another, maybe I have an itch, I take off my hat, and oh my god, I have instant relief, the discomfort has instantly vanished, everything flows gently and peacefully back into place. It was the hat! 

I have something similar happen occasionally with a line from a song, I'll start hearing a particular lyric in what I think is just a random selection of all the lyrics from all the songs in the library in my head, and it plays on a steady loop until I've had just about enough of it, until I'm forced to go to the source, to the whole song, and listen to it all the way through and suddenly the words hit me in a way that I've never thought about before and it feels like a piece of a puzzle has been found. What's weird is that it's usually a song that I didn't think I really had an connection to.

Does that ever happen to you?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In my Room

When I was little I did not record my days on video and take photos of my friends and family, pets and self and post them on websites for thousands, possibly millions of people to see, but I wonder if I would be different if I had. Where would I be right now for example if I had posted a video of me dancing by myself in my room to this song, not dancing so much as re-enacting strolling through a park, smelling the flowers, waving to friends, minding my own business when I'm suddenly being chased by a crazy heroin dealer with a gun, running around my bed, jumping on it, doing front-hood-of-the car rolls across it, looking over my shoulder while being chased, shooting over my shoulder being chased, knocking over a lamp and yelling out "Nothing!" Dancing a little funky doodlio at around 1:21 and then really putting on the speed with the chase. And then at the 2:15 moment of the song sweetly raising my eyebrows like "I'm just livin and lettin em die, what can I say". Would I be on Ellen and Jimmy Kimmel? Would there be 1000s of copycat vids done in my honor? Would people write about how creative and talented I was and start blogs called Fuckyeah Deird! and then other people write comments and tear me to shreads and try to destroy any spirit I had?

I wonder. Where would I be now?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Dear People Who Read My Blog,

   Thank you. Sometimes when I am lying in my bed and trying to think of something to write and my eyes go from my computer screen to my clock and back again and it's getting closer and closer to the time I have to get up and do the whole morning scramble, dogs, cat, salamander, frog , children, breakfast, teeth brushed, shoes and socks, keys, keys KEYS, I think of you all sitting there in the stadium waiting patiently and quietly. Yes, I think of you in a stadium, and no it's not full, not even close, but some of you are in the upper deck with binocs, some busy looking at your phones, a few sipping big gulps, most just waiting in the warm sun, and I know I have to come out and do a few cartwheels. I know I have to do this, and I love doing it, even though some of you, possibly most, are a figment of my imagination. But I wanted to say today, because I've been thinking about this, and thinking about some of you who write me emails or occasionally leave comments, I wanted to say thank you and I love you and I'm so glad you're there (even those of you who are not) I appreciate you taking the time to read this.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh Shit, It's You

Occasionally I wake up in the middle of the night and see odd animal/human creatures at the end of my bed. I say occasionally like it happens once every other week or so but really, in my entire life, it's only happened about 5 times. That's probably five times too many, but still. It first happened when I was about 8: I saw a dog. He wasn't wearing an outfit or carrying a toy, but he did have a sort of human face; and it didn't scare me so much as it shocked me. It shocked me the way a jerky friend might if he jumped out from behind the door as I was walking in. I gasped, my heart pounded but then I immediately recognized: Oh shit, it's you.

Go away.

I remember telling this to a therapist once and then I remember her being quiet for a while before saying, Maybe you have an unresolved issue that needs to be dealt with.

I'll say.

You can always dig a little deeper. You can always find parallels or symbols, but sometimes it just is what it is. I'm starting to realize that there are certain things that just can't be explained. And I am getting better at accepting this.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Agonizing Library

I just saw a title in a blog I love: An agonizing library of mental replays. I have one of those! Actually I wouldn't have one that was quite so organized and well maintained if I didn't have children, in fact I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have one at all if I didn't have children. I would have "an unusual library of funny feelings when I see someone who I may have had an odd exchange with".

Oh hi Mrs. Periwinkle (wait why is she looking at me like that).

You told her to "Slow the F down" last week when I was skating in the street.

I did not say F.

Mom you did.

To Mrs. Periwinkle?

I don't think you knew it was her.

Well she must have been going at a good clip then.

And she didn't stop at the stop sign.


(sadly shakes his head)

I'm sure she doesn't remember. And plus don't look at me like that, I probably saved your life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Naked Lady: In honor of 9/11 and all the rest

Lately I've been wanting to write a more serious post about the tragic, shattering, difficult things that happen every day, things that we endure because we have to, things that offer questions that can never be answered, and shut the fuck up if you don't like it! but when I sit down to write, the only thing I have in my head is this naked fat lady I see almost every day in the gym locker room. That's how my mind works. Every day I see this lady, and not only is she completely nude and fully, flappingly fat, she hangs out like this. She loves being nude. Loves it so much. She loves sitting (let me point out once more) utterly bare ass naked on the bench that is in full view when the door swings open. Oh!... Legs apart, shoulders rounded, head down, flaps hanging; just like a worn out football player after a hard game.

Let me back up a minute: I love going to the gym. I can't explain it; I'm not really athletic, I don't really like sports, but I love going to the gym by myself and exercising until I'm sweaty and in pain. It's something I have to do. When I first walk in and say hello to the guy at the desk and swipe my card that gives the green light, I actually get light headed. Dizzy! Maybe it's the smell, the chlorine from the pool, the cleaning liquids, the freshly showered people who pass by on their way out and cause a wind of old spice and lotion. I feel like Pepe Le Peu. I walk past the weight room, past the old grans in the senior yoga class, past the belly dancing, and the teen lounge and I push open the door to the


Hello. (I can tell right away by the way she says hello that she is Russian)

What's.. happening (?)

What's happening yourself.

I uh,

I'm naked.


You have problem with this?

No. Not at all-

You have problem.

No I really--

You do. (she shrugs)

Well it's not a problem really. I just don't--

What my darling

-know how to deal with it. It startles me a little.

She chuckles at first just a little and then it boils into a full bodied Russian laugh that ends with a cough. But I am at gymnasium. I am exercising. I am showering. I am supposed to be naked here. This is where you get naked.

You're right. It doesn't make sense, but you're so-- I mean there's so much to---

This is not about me my sweetie. (she stands up, each boob is as big as a bowling ball)


In life it is never about the thing you think it is. In life it is never about what you are looking at, what you think you are questioning. Never.

Oh well, I--

It is about how you handle it.


(She reaches her arms out to me and pulls me to her chest) It is about you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Forced Paralysis

I’m not paralyzed in front of crowds. It took me a while to find the right word for that. ‘I’m not paralyzed’ does not mean I‘m not shy or afraid or embarrassed; nor does it mean I am impossible to humiliate, or unable to suffer debilitating self hatred and doubt; it just means that those things do not stop me from raising my hand to get up in front of a large audience. In fact, sometimes I think I am drawn to it in much the same way a person who is afraid of heights is drawn to the edge of a cliff. I don’t know where this comes from: part of it is insecurity, part of it is big balls/shoulder chip, and another part of it is a desperate need to please. All things that, taken alone, should cause shame, but when joined together cause its opposite: Go Deird! Raise that hand! Prove yourself! This manner of thinking applies to being on stage: acting, or giving a talk or dancing in Las Vegas. Talent is a plus but not really a necessity. Nowhere is this truer than in a karaoke bar in New Orleans. And yes I did raise my hand there, though I have to say the best part of that experience was when it was over (Funky Town seems like a good song at first but then 20 seconds in you realize it's too repetitive). But when the Karaoke isn’t in a bar and when your 11-year-old son is with you, the whole game changes.

We went to Little Tokyo on Saturday for Darla’s birthday and while she and ten other 14 year olds safely ate sushi inside a restaurant, Harry and I walked around the little outdoor mall area. We stared at the groups of teens dressed like zombie killers from Resident Evil and odd little animals with kitten ears and bushy tails. We noticed families and tourists and people eating meat on a stick. They were all gathered around a little platform where an old Italian guy in sweat pants was singing opera. And they were cheering!
Omg Karaoke! I said and took a step at exactly the same time I felt Har clamp his hand around my arm.
Just one song!
Go into a store. Pretend you don’t know me.
He didn’t say anything. He just stared at me with such intensity I know he was trying to make my head explode into flames.
Can I just look at the songbook?
In an instant his look shifted to one of desperate and anguished pleading, his eyes were about to well up with tears.
So we sat and watched. There wasn’t a bad singer in the entire show. I mean everyone was superior. There was a girl that walked out of a restaurant picking her teeth with a toothpick who said to her boyfriend, Oh I want to do one, and then she belted out What's goin On by 4 non blondes like it was nothing. Outside! In a mini mall!
I looked at Harry like you were right, I would have been an epic failure. He could have said I told you so, and knocked me down a few pegs but he didn't, he just said, You can come back after I graduate from college and move to India.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

On Being a Good Guest

I was talking with my son-in-law about a recent out of town guest that peed the bed. It was the boyfriend of Mo’s friend from college. They have a lot of visitors because they live in New Orleans.
Was he drunk? I asked.
Not that drunk.
He seemed like a reasonable guy, Ryan said. We went out, came back and everyone went to sleep. I had to get up early so I walked through the room where they were sleeping, only the girl was on the couch, the guy was on the blow-up mattress and his (wet) shorts were hung neatly over the radiator.

I could hear Mo’s voice in the background, “You didn’t know he had peed!!”

No, that’s true, I didn’t know, Ryan said.  It wouldn’t have occurred to me.
Hmm, I tapped my chin with my finger, thinking. “And they never mentioned it?”
Nope, when I got home, Mo was spraying down the mattress in the back yard and she was pissed.

So to speak.
Maybe the guy did a golden shower.
Ryan put his hand over the phone and yelled to whatever room Mo was in, “Your mom thinks maybe he did a golden shower”.
I could hear the irritation in her muffled voice, “Through his shorts?!”
Oh yeah.
That would be weird.
Maybe that’s his little flair.
Your mom thinks that was his signature move, Ryan yells.
Tell her she needs to stop, Mo yelled back.
Ryan, who is from the south and has meticulous manners, didn’t say anything.
I heard her, I say.
He chuckles.
Well, Ry, I don’t know what to say, are they supposed to come back tonight?
No, I mean they were, but I think they’re done. Morgan said the only way they can come stay again is if the guy apologizes.
And that's not likely.

Later on I talked to Mo about it. "You know it's really not that bad," I said.
What are you talking about? It's bad! It's bad in about 17 glaring ways, not least of which is that I'm probably going to have to throw away our guest bed, which isn't cheap, even after I scrubbed it for an hour. It's worse than cat piss.
Okay, that's bad.
And he chain-smoked and drank and ate everything we had without replenishing.
And when we went to a bar, Ryan gave him money for a drink and he didn't give him any change back.
Okay, you're right, I get the picture.

Guests are like fish, they go bad after 2 days. -Mark Twain