Friday, March 29, 2013

Repost: Emails From Heaven

Lately I've been getting emails from people asking me to help transfer large sums of money into a bank account. These people are usually from far away places like Pickareno or Blastafunktown; they do not speak (or write) English very well and most of the stories involve recently deceased relatives they never knew who left them a pile of money, usually ranging from 7 to 20 million dollars (hitherto called a shitload) (and yes I just said hitherto because that's the kind of language these people use) that needs to be collected asap. ASAP! Here's where the story gets confusing. They need my help to get this money but first they need me to send 1000 dollars from my American bank account into the Blastafunktown bank so that the shitload will be released, at which point they will be more than happy and grateful to share with me, usually 50-50 but sometimes 60-40, because, after all, it is their Aunt "Barbara Mary" who just passed. Sometimes these letters go on and on, sometimes they are only a couple of desperate, unpunctuated sentences.

Here's one I got this morning from Leung Cheung:

I need your assistance to Transfer abandoned sum of $22.5 MILLION dollars from Hing Kong to your country we share 60% 40% if positive contact me as soon as possible.

I love that 22.5 million dollars was just abandoned somewhere. I imagine 50 brown sacks with dollar signs on the front sitting on a desert highway, tumbleweeds blowing past. Leung drives by in an old Chevy Impala and sees them there, not sure at first what they are. He slows the car to a stop, gets out and has a look. When he realizes what it is (22.5 million dollars!!!) he can't believe his good fortune. He tosses all the sacks into the trunk of the car and speeds off, leaving a cloud of dust and pebbles. One of the thousand dollar bills sails gracefully out the window but what does he care? Let some poor trucker get it when he stops to pee on a cactus. There's plenty more where that came from!
So, after a long happy drive back to Hing kong (he has whistled and giggled and hummed the entire trip), Leung gets home and carries the sacks inside. Immediately he becomes paranoid. What if this is a trap? What if I start to spend this, what if I walk down to the local corner store and try to use one of the thousand dollar bills on a purchase, and a swat team of 600 come out from nowhere and riddle me with bullets? Aaaaagh. It's too horrible to imagine. For weeks old Leung tosses and turns.
But then.
He gets an idea. Deposit it in an American Bank! That way he can launder the money and no one will track it back to him. The person who helps him can just wire it back to him, or send him monthly checks. Of course, he'll give a cut. 40% is more than generous. Probably too much. But that's ok, it's worth it. But how? Who can do this?
He calls Mark Zuckerberg and asks him for his top ten list of most gullible people. Mark faxes it to him in code. Leung gets the fax and runs his name down the list: ERDRIED SIWEL
And that's how it comes to me....
Oh. How I wish this was true. 

Cue this song as I drive off into the sunset:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Car Wash- The Interior Cycle- The All of It

Can I ask you a question?

I had my head down and was busy playing solitaire on my phone while I was waiting at the car-wash. I already felt out of place there so I was just trying to tune out. I was gone the way an addict who has just injected heroin is gone. Out. This is why I play solitaire in the first place: so I don't have to think. All I have to do is put the numbers into sequence. Red, black, red, black, red, declining numerical order--but the voice of the person asking the question worked its way through my haze, even though the voice, a woman's, had the valley girl drawl to it, and even though 9 times out of 10, a person who asks this question is about to say something stupid. It's another form of Pull my finger or What's that on your shirt? I kept my head down.

Can I ask you like, a questiahhn?

Oh sweet mother of god valley girl please go ask someone else I'm trying to stay on the nod. I did my best to give the body language translation of that sentence by curling into myself, but she had walked over to me. I turned and started reading my texts with intense focus. This guy I worked with a while back had recently started sexting me, it was hysterical and oddly exciting. He wrote well too, and said nice things, and it didn't take much to get worked up. How was it possible?  I can't explain. But there I was, within seconds, fully engaged in a hot loveless sex act in my own private Idaho. Oh God! I was fantasizing about pornographic sex in the middle of a Vegas style car-wash. Oh Godohgodohgod.

Um sorry?

I looked up slowly to see that it wasn't the pencil-thin-eye-browed, big boobed stereotype I was expecting, it was a beautiful black girl dressed like a hipster. I tried to wrap my head around it even though it's really not that uncommon in L.A. If you grew up in the Valley, chances are you talk like that? I'm so sure?  I looked down at my phone and clicked off the photo and accompanying letter. I couldn't delete it. I would wait until I had a physically real boyfriend, and then I would delete permanently...Yes. I said finally.

Do you know how much to tip here?

Occasionally a person, usually one of my children, will ask me a question and even though I have heard every word of it, even though I can see them standing there in front of me, even though I have an answer on the tip of my tongue, I am in a weird sort of sludge, brain warp where the question just floats around gently inside my head, like the plastic bag in American Beauty, and the only thing that snaps me out of it is to repeat the question slowly and out loud. "Do I know how much to tip here?" It sounds condescending, but I don't mean it that way. I looked at her and said I always tip 20%, but it's sort of up to you.

What if they scratch your car?

This question got stuck in my craw as well, though not because of the sludge. I couldn't help thinking, isn't that the risk you're just going to have to take? Then I thought, people from Los Angeles feel entitled to special treatment if they are paying for something; treatment above and beyond the norm. They get genuinely pissed off when the gardener's leaf blower disturbs their peace (you hired the guy!) and have no problem sending food back at a restaurant if it's not cooked the right way (you're at a restaurant! with a chef!) But then I noticed her car, which she kept checking through the window, and I started wondering maybe I'd have more things to feel entitled about if I just had more money; maybe I didn't care enough because my things just weren't as nice as her things, and I had a bad attitude, and that's what was holding me back from a successful life.

What if they scratch your car?

Oh they would never do that! They're great here. ("They're" i.e. the slaves outside ready to scrub the hood of the car with some sand paper). I smiled at her like I was a gal with a shiny Lexus getting waxed right that very moment. Then I felt ashamed of myself and moved closer to the flat screen TV so I could self-medicate with some mindless show in HD. I could still sort of hear her behind me but I tuned out and when I looked back at her she was busy texting.

The show on TV was some dog rescue show on Animal Planet that I became fully and emotionally invested in as soon as I saw them pull 4 sweet puppies out of a sealed up drywall in some person's tool shed. Humans are fucking evil, I mourned. Heinous, sick, crazy. And then to make matters worse, this clip was interspersed with the rescuer's personal story of having to euthanize his 13 year old English Bulldog which they showed in agonizing scenes of the old boy being walked in to the doctor's office and then the owner kneeling down and resting her head on the dog's head right before the shot was given. I was weeping and sniffing openly.

Oh my Ga, is that like, a dog?

I paused for a second to digest the words, the tone, the inference, and then I turned around towards Valley gal and shot a sniper's bullet through her forehead with my look. I don't think she noticed. I always think I look mean and vicious and then realize I look like a 5 year old who's had too much sugar. I turned around and took a deep breath. Like, whatever, I thought, she has probably never had a pet. I need to be more compassionate. She can't help being an idiot. I mean even though she's wearing a Harvard baseball/trucker's cap and probably owns her own business.

I thought it was her parents? On the show?... It's her dog? Oh my ga. People are crazy. They like, so over -react.

What could I say? All I could do was stare in confusion, not righteously or with air of superiority, but in genuine confusion at the all of it, at the Vegas style car-wash, the black Valley girl, my own hang-ups about money and what's right and wrong, love, sex and death and just all of it, I could only think of all this and say, "Totally".

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reposting an oldie

      photo by Max Wanger. you can see more here

Good morning people,

(Good morning Deird)

I haven't forgotten about the second part of the car-wash story, but I'm going to post another oldie rather than leave this page blank again. I'll be back tomorrow.

Did you ever wish you could watch a video of yourself doing something ridiculous and embarrassing? Me too!

Home Video

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I hate the assault of the lights so I kept them off and felt around for the glass and the pitcher of water from the fridge; then I set the cup down and poured a full cup onto the counter and floor. I attempted this two more times with the same result until, fully awake, I thought to open the fridge door to let some light in and get the job done properly.

This morning I walked into the kitchen and slipped on the puddle and grabbed the counter like a novice ice skater. Good Morning World. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Cheery Cheer-er

I will never run in a marathon. As soon as I say that I think Fuck you, I will so. But I know in my heart of hearts I won't. When one of my sisters' was little she used to say "I can't like it", and then she'd sadly shake her head. I feel like this sums up my reason for not wanting to do a few things, but especially for not running a marathon: I can't like it. I just can't.

I can, however, stand at the end of my street, by myself and scream and cheer and whistle for a full hour beginning at 7 am. I'm not even embarrassed (although I am a little perplexed by this later in the day when I think about it). I mean I full-on scream. I read the names on their card/numbers pinned so they know I am yelling for them specifically "Go Bob!" "You can do it Larry!""Lookin good Ginny!!!" Woooooooooo! Go! You got it. It actually makes me feel happy and excited and alive and connected: to scream like this; to act like an insane person. If I did this at any of my kid's games, I mean when I do this, they are mortified (they can't like it) so I try to keep it down, I try to control myself. If there's no exchange then I really am pathological.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Car Wash

One of the things you have to do when you live in L.A. is go to the car wash. You might as well just accept it. I usually go to the $2.00 do it yourself kind, but every once in a while I’ll splurge and go to the fancy one. If you’ve never visited Los Angeles and you want to understand a little bit about how things work here, I suggest you go to a fancy carwash and hang out for an hour. That’s about how long it’ll take you to get through the department store that’s set up as a waiting area where you can buy books, hair accessories, boogie boards, and lubricating gel. After that you can get a manicure, pedicure, have your dog washed and fluffed, and have a three-course lunch. Then, just so you don’t accidentally have a conscious thought while you wait, you can sit in a vibrating chair and watch the E channel on a large flat screen TV.

I fully recommend that you do all these things to get the full experience.

I always get the full experience because I’m so disoriented and out of place I end up saying yes to everything. I feel like Dorothy just as the tornado is coming when she runs this way and that, and then gets knocked unconscious by an unhinged shutter. As soon as I pull in, I am bombarded with activity while this song blares out of a billboard sized speaker. One guy vacuums out the front, another guy does the back and a third guy carrying a pad of paper gives you a pitch about all the different deals you can get: with or without tire polish. Full detail. Wax. Package of 3 details for $367 dollars or one for $199.

To which I reply: What?

He starts the same entire pitch and half way through I point to the sign that says 10.99. He scribbles something on a piece of paper and then slaps it on my windshield, while I pray that he understood what I just said. Usually I can spend the entire time browsing the overpriced collection of random items in the gift shop but this last time I went straight back to the lounge area where I could play solitaire, uninterrupted, for 30 minutes. 


(to be continued...)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Doing The Right Thing

                                                        Whose story would you rather hear?

I'm interested in Mike Tyson's story because at its core it's about a sweet kid. He's like a character in a Dickens novel. He can't hide that side of himself even though he's from the street, a former drug addict accused of rape; it comes out in his voice, his love of pigeons, his fascination with unlikely characters like Judy Garland and Mark Twain, his tendency to get choked up when talking about Cus. His story is less about all the characters who tried to take advantage of him or beat him down, than it is about his ability to keep going, by whatever means necessary. Just the fact that he could get on a stage and talk for two hours to a huge audience is proof of his courage.

I think at the core of Spike Lee's story is a curmudgeon: a side of himself that he can't hide and lately, doesn't even try to. I don't think he was always like this; he started out being more earnest (Please baby, baby please) but he got tired and felt justified in blaming and judging. He's not wrong, but his view is narrow. It's always more interesting to see how things connect than how they don't.

For this reason I don't think Spike was the best director for Mike's show. There seemed to be an agenda of "here's a guy who has been beaten down" and there was a lot of trash talking and finger pointing, not just at white people (though at one point there was a big photo of a dorky Mitt Romney with his creepy smile; a symbol?) but at his ex wife Robin Givens and Don King. And everyone in the audience cheered when he said mean things about them. (including me I'm not gonna lie) But it didn't keep it real so much as it kept it small.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I wasn't really interested in Mike Tyson at first, but I remember when he first started boxing. He was like a shark. He was powerful and swift and economical. No moves were wasted. He'd come into the ring, throw a punch: boom. Done. His first 19 fights were all knock-outs. He was a champ for sure, but he wasn't The Greatest. Not even close. He wasn't graceful or beautiful or charming or funny. In fact he may have been the opposite of all those things. He was scary. Any humanity he had was wrapped up, folded, and locked away. Then he had a downward spiral, and he became even more scary.

But there was something curious about him. A person is never all one thing, and details came out. He was 13, fatherless and had been in jail 38 times when Cus found him and brought him into his home. He kept pigeons as pets and once watched as a bully took his favorite one and ripped its head off with his bare hands. His mother died when he was 16. Then there's the more recent stuff, the Holyfield fight, the prison sentence, the accidental death of his 4 year old daughter. This guy knows pain. And he knows how to keep going. How can you not love that in a person? Tonight I'm going to hear him tell his story on stage. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Reposting an Oldie: The Fat Lady at the Gym

For A and A,

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, 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 a jock, I don't really care about 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 huge, pillowy, damp chest) It is about you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


                   I love that some of these girls say reading gives them courage.

Today is World Read Aloud Day, which means you should read aloud to your friend, your child, your pet or yourself.

Here are some pictures of my walk in the morning. (Sorry to my friends in the ccccold snow).

Cue the Rocky theme. (That's my JAM!)

Almost to the top.

Good Morning Blue Sky.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hit Wonders

We went to see Macy Gray over the weekend at Darla's school. It made me think about whether or not it's a curse to be famous for one song and to have to trot it out at every show from Madison Square Garden to a fundraiser at your child's school. I mean yeah, of course it is, and I'm sure there are sad nights on the road where there are 20 or 100 or 4 people in the audience and it's impossible to muster the oomph to spit it out. But I think too, the thing that made it special in the first place: the perfect combination of lyrics and melody are always there, and sometimes just "spitting it out" is enough. Still, sometimes the way the person sings it, in a slightly different way, can make you feel like you are hearing it for the first time. I mean how great is the line "I try to say goodbye and I choke". How many paragraphs of description does that sum up? In 8 words? I think this is why it's called a wonder.

Everyone who rides in my car is sick of hearing this song, but I know they would feel differently if they watched him perform it.

The King. He makes it a story every time.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Time That it Was

I used to work nights in a bar in New York until it closed at 4 am. I think of this occasionally when I wake up now at the same time. Back then it didn't feel so odd. In fact a lot of times we would go out for pizza or breakfast after, and there were enough people out and about that it didn't feel like the time that it was. But it was weird. The people who are heading home at 4 in the morning are different than the ones who are waking up at 4 in the morning. We all knew that. We knew details about each others lives that we might not have known had we worked together in a 9-5 office job, and we were linked together forever because of it, like cell-mates. I knew for example that one friend used to sit in a car without heat in Chicago in the coldest of winters, waiting for her dad to score some heroin in an abandoned building, when she was 7. I knew another guy who, during an argument with his girlfriend, threw his phone in frustration and hit their toddler square in the face. My boyfriend then was a tattoo artist who lived in Brooklyn with a tarantula. Once he walked me home to my uncle's apartment on 6th Avenue and we went up to the roof and kissed on the ledge for two hours, until it was light out.

One night a group of us went out for pizza together near St. Mark's Square. The place was packed and had hideous neon lights and mirrored walls. It was rude, but it was warm and the pizza was amazing. We took up 2 tables and were chattering and planning when a guy in an overcoat walked in and stood at our table and announced he was going to sing a song about love and acceptance. It was, he said, the most beautiful song ever written. He cleared his throat, took a dramatic pause and began singing Ebony and Ivory. There was a ruckus at first but it died down completely because the singer raised his voice and silenced us all with its power and honesty. Once he finished we were completely convinced he was the messiah or some kind of magical figure. We gave him pizza and listened to him talk about Paul McCartney who he said was the greatest philosopher of all time. His coat was full of holes and he had a few important teeth missing and was crazy as a chicken with its head on fire but he knew how to hold a room. He said if we gave him $20 he'd tell us the secret of life.

We tallied up $50 in 2 seconds flat and slapped it on the table. He picked it up, counted it, smiled the most beautiful smile in the world and then, pounding the table with his fist at each word said:
This. Is. It.

Friday, March 1, 2013

How I Spend Time

I was reading something about Cheryl Strayed, which led me to this post on a blog, about how we spend our days. "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives" (Annie Dillard wrote that). Like most things I read on the internet I thought This is amazing! and then after reading it, I clicked onto another link and completely forgot all about it. The other link was an article about a woman who said she felt violated after receiving a bill for $5 from a restaurant for using the employee bathroom; and I got totally sucked down a vortex into a cyber battle with the person who wrote that article: Why is this news? Why did I just read that? Who is this person that allowed herself to be interviewed and photographed? Does she even know what violated means? and then: I need to disconnect my internet connection, I'd get so much more work done if I could control myself, and then of course straight down the hole to: What am I doing?

This is a just a small tidbit from how I spend my day, which is "of course" how I spend my life.

Still, I thought: that's a good exercise: let's have a look at my day, maybe it'll help me figure things out about myself.

I wake up at 4. I don't have an alarm, I just wake up. I think maybe a few years ago waking up at 4 seemed like a violation; I spent the hours between 4 and 7 wishing I could go back to sleep/hating myself that I couldn't/fighting with my demons about this, that, and the other thing.

Man on the street outside my window at 4 am: Hey, what's going on up there?
Deirdre: Oh nothing, just fightin my demons.
M.O.T.S.O.M.W: Demons? Haha, that's ridiculous.
Deirdre: I have demons.
MOTSOMW: You wouldn't know a demon if it bit you in the ass.
Deirdre: You think because I'm not walking around outside with a shopping cart at 4 am, that I don't have demons.
MOTSOMW: Yes that's exactly what I think.
Deirdre: I have demons. A lot of em.
MOTSOMW: Yeah okay.
Deirdre: Leave me alone.
MOTSOMW: Okay, have fun with your demons...your difficult, little deemie demons...your painful, horrific, tiny lil deem deemios.
Deirdre: Fuck off...Hey come back. I have demons. They may not be as ugly as yours but I have em. I do! They'll kick your demon's ass...Come back here! Jerk!

After I went through that for a while, I started to think: it's dark, it's quiet, it's peaceful. Maybe I should try to use this time more constructively. So I did.

Let me try this again.

I wake up at 4. I don't have an alarm. I just wake up. Sometimes that's a great thing. I heard someone say recently that every day you should have one thing that you decide is amazing, one thing, even a sip of water. That's not a bad idea. It's just the beginning.