Tuesday, October 1, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to be My Labor Day...

No but officer… you don’t understand: this was not supposed to be my life. Honestly, I just missed registration; that’s all. Yes… that’s correct, I missed registration and I didn’t get to sign up for the one I wanted. The life I wanted.
So you see, it isn’t my fault that I’m trekking down Sunset Boulevard with a sack of wheat clothes over my shoulder, like I’m in Shel Silverstein’s “The Googies.”

Ok… well, maybe I had some say in this, but I’m still standing by the fact that I missed registration.
Let’s go back to Labor Day. It’s still September, after all, right officer? Do you want me to sing the song about the Calendar and the syllables in September, right now? Cause I will… No, NO DON’T CALL FOR BACK UP, JUST LISTEN TO ME!
Labor Day. Can I tell you about the life I envisioned for myself? I wasn’t asking for much. I just wanted a nice mediocre boyfriend, with whom I could do some kind of nice mediocre Labor Day activity, like… go hang out on a boat somewhere, you know? We could drink nice mediocre beer like, uh, what do the kids drink these days? PBJ? Wait, wait – PBR? Is that the one? Yeah! That one. We’d drink PBR on our nice mediocre boat on our nice, mediocre Labor Day weekend.
Perhaps “mediocre” is too dark a word. I just wanted something average… Instead- INSTEAD, Officer, do you know what I was doing on Labor Day? I WAS LABORING! I WAS LABORING LABORIOUSLY!
There I was at midnight, Officer, in my ninth outfit in ten minutes, filling in holes in the wall with spackling paste.
I know- I KNOW! Surely not this girl, right?! But it’s true: after roughly 365 days off, I was going back to school and I needed a First Day Outfit. And let me tell you, Officer, picking out an outfit is no easy task for me. Ironically, I’m going to blame this one on my education.


If I hadn’t gone to a school with uniforms, maybe I would have learned how to dress myself.

But I didn’t.

So I can’t.

So I was on outfit number nine, asking my roommate what she thought about it, what kind of message she sensed that the outfit was sending, and how she felt about that, and what she was thinking about how she felt about it… BE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR UNIFORM, OFFICER.
And then the spackling paste- oh, the spackling paste. You see, if I’d been married at age 19, I’d be in the 2.5 bedroom house by now, with our 2.5 kids; white picket fence and all. But I was in an apartment, about to move, still very single (Sorry, Dad) and in order to get back the maximum amount of our security deposit, I was filling in the numerous holes in the wall and painting over them, between outfits.
If the fates had granted me the Age 19 Wedding and the white picket fence, then perhaps Jose the handyman would have filled in the holes from photos on our Walk Wall, when David, the baby and I moved out of our first house (You know “Walk Wall” like “A Walk Down Memory Lane,” the wall with all the photos of our family and our life together) but alas, Jose the Handyman looked more like “Grace the Handyman” (yuk yuk yuk) and I was filling in the holes and letting the paste dry, before using sand paper to get rid of residue, and then painting over it. Well, I use the term “sand paper” lightly. I was too cheap to go out and buy sand paper, so I was using a glorified loofah, that I got at the 99 cent store. If it can slough off dead skin cells then it can slough off dried spackling paste, am I right, Officer?!
Oh… The Googies. I should explain the bag of clothes that I was schlepping down the sidewalk in the Palisades…
To no one’s surprise, I get paid very little to be a teacher. So I have to supplement my income. Let’s be real: it was clothes schlepping or prostitution, officer. NO, I DIDN’T CHOOSE PROSTITUTION, WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP TRYING TO CALL FOR BACK-UP?!?!
So this particular afternoon entailed running errands for someone, which included the grocery, the dry cleaners to drop off clothes, and getting the car washed. I was counting on running into Ralph’s while the car was being washed, because the car wash was right next to the grocery store, but I was told that it would take about 45 minutes for the car to be finished, so I figured: why not run up to the dry cleaners?
It’s not my fault that the dry cleaners was actually about a half a mile away, when I estimated it to be about a block. If I could blame that one on my education, I would, but regardless: it isn’t my fault.
It’s not my fault that I looked like I did, in my monkey shoes and visor – I DON’T WANT WRINKLES, OFFICER!

And it is certainly not my fault that I was seen by Brody Jenner, whilst traipsing up the sidewalk, visor, monkey shoes and all. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to be My Abandonment...

        Listen, I never claimed that my life was anything but a big, fat First World Problem.

It’s so pathetically true.

        Secondively, it’s time for a sensible disclaimer. I’ve been ruminating on this for some time now, and it seems nothing short of MANDATORY that it be posted at the beginning of this piece:

I don’t write because I think the people care
I write because I think I can make the people laugh.

        That is to say: I don’t think anyone is dying for an update on my life, HOWEVER, I’m pretty sure that said update might produce a few chortles and giggles, so therefore I post.
        If you are still confused as to what I’m getting at, allow me to provide you with an illustration:
        Thanks to yahoo.com being my homepage, I often get sucked into a vortex of useless articles and photos. Last night was no exception. (The blurb said that “Lohan Looks Stunning in Post-Rehab Picture.” How could I not click on that?!) I was then looking through a week’s worth of celebrity Instagram photos, and stumbled upon this photo of Heidi Klum, which read, “NYC, great to be back.”

Dear Heidi:
        1)      I know you graduated from high school, and for that I applaud you, but: that caption is a fragment.
        2)      How many times did you have to snap this picture, to get it exactly right? I know your arms are long, but seriously: how many times did you re-take this?
        3)      Did you get to the room, turn on all the lights, decide to take this and then turn them all off again? Or did you decide to take this and seek out a dark room in which to do it?
       4) NO. ONE. CARES.

        Ok, obviously people care, but come on: at least get your boyfriend to snap a picture of you trying to take this, and post that, so the poor people that do care might no longer be under the impression that if they can become a Victoria’s Secret model, they’ll inherit the magical ability to effortlessly take pictures like this one.

So all that about Victoria’s-Secret-Models-Deluding-Their-Precious-Followers-
With-Seemingly-Effortless-Photos to say:
I’m not posting because I think anyone cares. I’m posting because I just want to entertain the people.

Back to First World Problemz:
        True story: any time I find a hygienic product that I love… it gets discontinued. I have now come to believe that I am cursed. While anything that King Midas touched turned to gold, anything that I touch… gets discontinued. (Spoiler alert: the whole "update" here is about how I spend way too much time pursuing products that have been discontinued.) 

I hope you think I’m exaggerating, because I would certainly think so, if I’d just read that.

Allow me to elaborate:


   I began to first have this grave awareness of a curse after my freshman year of high school. For about two years, I’d worn peach-scented Secret Platinum deodorant. LOVED IT.

It got discontinued.

        I will now speak with very little shame about my Old Spice use. I don’t know why women don’t get the anti-sweat technology that men do, in deodorant, but a) it works fifteen times better than any female deodorant and b) serious perk: it lets me live in the delusion that a hott guy is following me around. Say hello to Artic Force:

Discontinued after one year. 

And then, serendipitously, I discovered this:

        Oddly enough, it smells VERY similar to Secret Platinum’s Peach, but I certainly wasn’t going to ask questions. This was sometime in college, and I was beginning to catch onto the fact that I might be cursed. I bought about three of them, when I was home, one Christmas, to avoid the heartbreak of discontinuation.
        But to quote Lady Catherine, from Pride and Prejudice: THIS IS NOT TO BE BORNE.

        I actually spent forty five minutes online last night, trying to find overstocked supplies of it. Not to be borne. I mean, in the age of hoarders and the internet, HOW does no one have any of it?! You mean to tell me that there isn’t a TLC show devoted to the Crazy Cat Lady who buys up deodorant and then sells it to the poor minions who seek out the discontinued product?

        Oh… what’s that? I’m alone in this venture? Oh. Ok, no that’s fine, Officer; I’m very used to that…

Lest you think this curse resides only in the Deodorant Department, I can assure you: before the Deodorant Chronicles came the Bath and Body Works Chronicles:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... Sun-Ripened Raspberry and Sheer Freesia.

Completely discontinued at one point, and now there are maybe a few candles in these two fragrances for sale in the online store.

And finally, most tragically: Happy Daisy.

        This is a picture of a bottle that is sitting on my bedside table, which I use to fragrance my sheets on Grace Douglas Day (Sunday, when the sheets get ceremoniously changed). It was discontinued but then brought back seasonally, when I was in about fifth grade. Clearly I bought up enough to last until now, but if only I’d known how far and wide this curse extended… I shall use the Bath and Body Works Chronicles to segue into the Hair Care Chronicles:

       Anyone remember this awesome bio’ shampoo and conditioner? So obsessed with Citrus and Rosemary. (If you’re expecting me to say “it wasn’t discontinued” at this point, either you need to work on your reading comprehension, or I need to work on my storytelling.)

Here was another serious favorite:

Herbal Essences’ Fruit Fusions. Actually, Herbal Essences in general was pretty magical, around elementary school. Remember THIS?

        (This one actually does have a story of redemption: I snapped this photo on my phone about two seconds ago.) Herbal Essences is like the guy who learned from King Midas’ mistake, and chose to wisely redistribute a popular fragrance. I’m lying: I don’t think there was a guy who learned from King Midas’ mistake, nor does Herbal Essences’ choice to bring this back have anything to do with my Discontinuation Curse, but again: I feel no need to ask questions. I squealed when I found them in CVS, wondering if my curse had been lifted. And because any girl who saw the turn of the millennium can identify this fragrance, I came home and told my roommate to close her eyes, and I shoved the bottle under her nose and told her to identify it. Not even a full second had passed before she said, “Every summer ever at Camp Greystone. Herbal Essences.”
        To be honest, I’m not actually even familiar enough with the tale of King Midas to know if he ever learned a lesson, but I can tell you that this girl has learned one. I find myself tempted to submit this to the Psych department at USC, and tell them that if they’re trying to teach students to understand the emotional impact of children that suffer parental abandonment, they need look no further for a practical demonstration.
        Kids who are abandoned by their parents (be it physically or emotionally) often develop in two different ways:
        1)      They become obsessively clingy, latching onto any and every parental figure that comes remotely               close to them.
        2)      They become obsessively detached, refusing to get close to anything that might abandon them.

To the first, I say this:

        This conditioner is actually still on the market right now, and anytime it goes onsale at Ralph’s, I grab a few. I’m up to thirteen bottles, currently. I refuse to apologize for this.

To the second dysfunctional development, I say this:

        That’s right: I live in fear of a product being discontinued, so I basically buy shampoo or conditioner if I see that it’s exceptionally cheap, trying to keep my collection as vast as possible, so as to avoid the Discontinuation Heartbreak.

Which leads me to the most devastating of Discontinuations: Lilly Pulitzer Jeans. Main Line Fit, Boot Cut:

(I found this pair on eBay… But they’re a size 12. And while most days, I feel like a size twelve, I just can’t say that it’s exactly an accurate size for me…)

Ahem, this is an email that I sent to service@lillypulitzer yesterday:


I'm really not sure how to say this tactfully, but...


I'm kind of exaggerating. 

...but seriously. I've been in LOVE with this pair of Lilly jeans for about 8 years now, and they are literally worn down to thread, and I have GOT to have another pair. 

I'm writing to ask if there might be a suggestion of where to look for this seemingly antique pair of jeans. They're Main Line Fit, Boot Cut, size four, and I got them from a Barefoot Princess store that carried Lilly in San Destin, FL, about 8 years ago. If I have to have a seance to resurrect the late Lilly Pulitzer herself, I will DO IT, if it means I can get my hands on a pair of these... 

Oh, and if you ever need an utterly devoted Lilly fan to headline a "We Heart Lilly Pulitzer" campaign, I'm your girl. I wear my grandmother's Lilly dresses. My college career was documented in the "A Day In The Life" journals (so to answer your question: YES, my bookshelf is going to look VERY strange if you discontinue the production of these journals), I have cut all the flowers and prints out of my 2012 agenda and am making a mod-podge Lilly background to my bulletin board. 

And lest you think I'm a carpool mom that lives in Nashville, TN, I'm a recent college graduate that is living the dream on a diet of Ramon noodles in Los Angeles, California. I proclaim Lilly Pulitzer to everyone I meet that gives me strange looks for wearing pearls at ten am and writing thank-you notes on Lilly stationery... 

But I have strayed from my initial point: I've GOT to have another pair of these jeans.

Thank you for being fabulous!

        I wish that I could say that I send passionate emails like that to the Obama Administration or Abortion Clinics, on the reg.

I don’t.

I’m a failure; I know.

        And while my new BFF Andrew, over at Lilly Pulitzer, informed me that the jeans are NO WHERE to be found, he is sending me a Lilly Pulitzer magnet, in the mail.
        I’ll probably start obsessively collecting magnets, refusing to get attached to any of them, and obsessively cling to Andrew, after asking for his hand in marriage. (He’s a guy and he works at Lilly Pultizer, what else could I possibly want in a spouse? Who cares if he’s attracted to men…)

If you’re a (discontinued) bird, I’m a bird…

LET THE RECORD SHOW: I am heartily opposed to those blogs that end with something like, "What's your favorite holiday tradition?" in a blatant attempt to rack up in the comments section. So I won't end with "What's your favorite product that's been discontinued?" but obviously: I'm a sympathetic audience. So if you were to sound off about it, you'd certainly have my ear... 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed To Be My Ticket...

Let me start with this:

I live in fear of cops.

Is it because my Daddy was a crooked cop and we spent my childhood on the run from Johnny Law?


        It is because I associate cops with huge sums of money. Every time a cop shows up and pulls you over, there are massive fees to be paid; am I right?

        As I’m sure you can imagine, I have a plethora of getting-pulled-over stories, mostly involving the extremely obscure (but also very true) sentiments I have relayed to cops when they do so, but those will most likely be disclosed in my first memoir.

        I will say that the one time I successfully cried my way out of a ticket was senior year of high school, when I got pulled over in my Dad’s car on the way to school and didn’t have my license on me because I’d switched cars at the last minute. Oh, I was also going about 40 in a 15 zone, coming out of the park, and I immediately broke down and started sobbing because… of how much it was going to cost me: having no license in the car, driving a car that was not registered in my name, and going twice the speed limit.

        It’s safe to say the officer found me to be completely overwhelming as I choked out all the reasons why I was a terrible candidate for a speeding ticket, before he’d even opened his mouth. To this day I still refuse to call them “excuses,” when I was simply informing him why I’d been speeding. Among my tearful explanation was a dramatic, “Officer do you see those pink princess balloons in the backseat? It’s cause today is my best friend’s birthday and we forgot her birthday last year and I really just want her to feel special and celebrated this year…” Like I said: obscure, but nonetheless very true.

See how my eyes are puffy from crying that morning? Wait, never mind. My eyes are just puffy cause I was fat.

(I would like to take a sentimental moment to point out that the first piece I ever posted on this site was about the 2012 celebration of that same birthday girl, because she is now my roommate)


        It was obviously an attempt to evade said astronomical fees that I had me intentionally avoiding eye contact with the cop who had pulled up beside me in traffic on the 405, one sunny afternoon.

Allow me to provide two disclaimers:

1) Traffic was heavy. In a passionate attempt to resist giving into the madness that can be induced by rush-hour traffic on the 405, I was keeping myself occupied with some very sensible crafts. Because when you’re going ten miles an hour for 30 minutes at a time, your hands are free to do things like this:

2) If I’m going to sit through an exponentially long ride home and most likely be too wiped out to engage in a serious work out when I get home, I may as well burn some calories and do some detox in what I like to call a moving sauna. Think about it: if you turn the AC off (oh who am I kidding? I never turn mine on) and you leave the windows rolled up, you can sweat out some major toxins. Lest you think this was the first day I had this bright idea: I’ve been doing it for years. Seriously, I started the summer before my senior year of college, when I drove home from the Y one day, just to see if I could make it. So while I was wearing my seatbelt, the shoulder strap was wrapped around the headrest, so it wasn’t touching me. (And if you’re still not getting it at this point, a) you’re hopeless and b) here’s a spoiler alert: IT WAS SO THE SEAT BELT WOULDN’T GET DRENCHED.)

        The cop had been cruising beside me for about 90 seconds when I finally looked over, and saw him gesturing to my seat belt. Oh! I have my seatbelt on, Officer! 
...I just wasn’t wearing the shoulder strap. He turned on his lights to pull me over.

        It took forever to find a decent spot to pull over; I was afraid that he’d think I was trying to outrun him. I gestured to the minuscule “shoulder” that finally appeared beside me and said, “Here?” in my rearview mirror. He reached for a microphone to a bullhorn that I didn’t even know he had and said, “Yeah.” I had a very strange moment of wondering if he had somehow tapped into the speaker system in my car before I figured out that he was broadcasting through the speakers atop his car.

        Problem: The cop was attractive. This was unexpected. Was I on a reality show? Was this a candid camera… Cops… Reality show? He was attractive for a cop, but he was also pretty attractive for the general population, which means that I was guaranteed to say some utterly ridiculous, nonsensical things in the next several minutes.

        He stuck his head through the window (on the passenger side, because if he’d been on the driver’s side he would have been run over) “I pulled you over because you weren’t wearing your seatbelt properly.”


“It won’t do you any good when it’s wrapped around the seat like that.”


“Your head will slam straight into the steering wheel.”

        “Yes it will.”

On ‘steering wheel,’ he fixed his gaze on mine, “And you were… braiding and driving.”

        I really wish it hadn’t been braiding (it wasn't the one from the picture above, that was an another crafty day where I didn't get pulled over) so that I could have corrected him, but it was, in fact, a simple braid. I took responsibility for this, “Yes I was.” He seemed somehow irritated that he couldn't rebuke me any more harshly, because I was taking his accusations so defenselessly. Perhaps he'd assumed that the Crazy Craft Lady would be more scornful. His hand slapped the hood of the car as he impatiently added, “And is your AC broken? Is it really hot in this car or is it just out here?”

        Well you asked, Officer, I thought as I responded, “Oh the AC works just fine, I just like to keep the windows up and the AC off sometimes to… you know, sweat it out. It’s kind of a detox thing, I guess.” I realized, in that moment, that I actually sounded like a lunatic. I’d never had to explain this strange behavior to anyone who didn’t already a) know me or b) know my penchant for sweating.

        He asked for my license, registration and insurance, the last two of which are egregiously expired. I informed him of the expiration and assured him that I’d already made an appointment at the California DMV, and then found myself blabbering on about how I would fax the Tennessee DMV a copy of my class schedule when I was in college, so that the vehicle could remain legally registered, even though I lived out of state. I’m not certain, but I think this might have been a subconscious attempt to assure him that I was a mentally capable, law-abiding citizen.

        With a gruff “stay in the vehicle,” he took my documents back to his car, on our cozy little shoulder of the 405. I continued to cough out embarrassed laughs in the proceeding five or so minutes, every time my mind wandered back to what on earth this guy could possibly think of me, in my bag-lady car with my bag-lady string on the steering wheel. (Literally: it was from a huge bag of string that sits in the passenger seat.)

        He reapproached Shelley and maybe it was because I was expecting an actual death sentence from him, but I was floored when he said, “I’m only writing you up for expired tags. I could have given you a speeding ticket because you were braiding and driving,” his voice was full of disdain at my crafts, “but it’s just your tags.”

Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “So ‘braiding and driving’ would technically be a speeding ticket?”

        “The proper speed for braiding is zero miles per hour. So yes, it’s a moving violation.”

“Ah. I see. I was just curious. I assumed it would be reckless driving.”

        “That would be three moving violations in one. So if you were improperly changing lanes, improperly buckled and tailing someone then yes, I could get you for reckless driving. But I just wrote you up for expired tags.”

        He gave the drenched Crazy Craft Lady another once-over, “Um, do you do this thing without air conditioning often? Cause it gets really hot and there’s risk of a heat stroke if you’re not acclimated…”

I tried to channel my best Victoria Grayson as I laughed at him, “Oh please, do I look like a rookie? I did this in Miami: I’m tougher than I look.”

        I’m sure that the strange look he gave me as I waved my hand about the hot car was his calculating to go back to the squad car and look up if any aliases close to my name had been recently used in mental institutions. He handed me the ticket and I suddenly found that my chest was getting tight, as the sentimental music was swirling around us and I thought about bidding farewell to my new friend. I took a deep breath, “Well Officer, I see no other way to proceed than to give you this.” I handed him the braided string.
        I thought I saw a tear glisten in his eye as he pursed his lips and said, “I can’t take that.”
The music came to an abrupt halt. “Wait, you like, actually can’t accept it, or are you just being gracious?”
“No it could be considered bribery and I could lose my job.”

I’m joking about the symphonic music and the tears, but the above dialogue is just real as was my ensuing emotion: indignation.

I had just offered the man one of my crafts. 

        This was just like the emperor giving Mulan his sword and seal for her bravery at the end of the Disney movie. (It’s totally not, but it’s a nice sentiment, isn’t it?)

        Struck with sudden inspiration, I tossed the string out the passenger window and debatably released a sound much like Geriatric Rose did, when she threw the Heart of the Ocean overboard at the end of Titanic and I said, “There! I littered! You better clean it up! I’m going to drive away now and I didn’t see a thing! DON’T YOU DARE LEAVE MY CRAFT ON THE SIDE OF THE 405!”

        Seeing how traffic was barely creeping along, I couldn’t exactly dramatically speed away, but as I slowly integrated back into a line of vehicular droids, I saw (in the one sideview mirror that is still attached to my car – the driver’s side fell off long ago) a dusty reflection of the new friend I was leaving behind… as he stooped down to pick up the crafty gift I had bestowed upon him.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed To Be My Summer Camp...

        9:35 on a Friday night. 

        Cue the ohhhh yeeeeah music, to play in the background for me. 

        I was at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills – the swankiest of the swank, having a fabulous time, knowing that I looked great. (The ohhhhh yeeeeeah can come in again, here.)
                …What’s that? Am I wearing Herve Leger? Oh stop it, you old dog, you! A lady never reveals her secrets! (I’m about to reveal one right now.)
                I  "felt great" because I was wearing Lululemon: they can make anybody feel like a million bucks, for not quite the cost of a million bucks. But NOBODY WORRY: I wasn’t sporting the Wunder Unders at a lounge (they’re called lounges, right?) at the Sofitel, at the side of Jeremy Renner.

I was at the side of…
               A bathtub.

Because I was puking my party guts up, having just come from Jeremy Renner’s side?


It was because there was a sleepy four year old in the adjoining hotel room, and the bathroom was the most logical place to camp out until he fell asleep. And I wasn’t simply twiddling my thumbs while I waited to hear snoring on the other side of the wall, I was cutting out decorative letters that I’d stenciled. 
I’m gonna give Jim and Lou credit for this one: it was their insistence that I grow up without cable (and with limited television watching) that turned me into a MASTER of entertaining myself.
I would like to point out: nothing, NO-THING about this night was out of the ordinary for me. I feel compelled to share it because it has been my experience that such a crafty tubside Friday night doesn’t seem to be the usual… For anyone else… Anywhere. And therefore it is entertaining to most.
                I was babysitting for a friend of a friend, who was in town for a wedding, and needed a sitter for the night. (Also not unusual – I did this in college when someone’s family would come in town to see a show and needed a sitter.) I was cutting out decorative letters because in two short days, I would begin my reign as the Craft Lady, running a Craft Camp that was aptly called “Artsy Tartsy.” (Again, not unusual because, well… have you ever seen my room? It looks like a craft glitter bomb went off in there, most days.)
Although seeing what happened at the beginning of the night, perhaps I’d already begun my reign as Craft Lady: my friend Kimberly (friend of the woman for whom I was ‘sitting – if anyone has ever met Kimberly, they will agree with my suspicion that she is, in fact, a fairy princess) was also going to the wedding, and as she was getting ready, she asked if I could take the tissue paper and spruce it around the Crate and Barel box she’d put in a gift bag, for the bride and groom. If I’d thought it through, I would have been subtle in my next move of whipping out my scissors to evenly divide the tissue paper, so as to appear more like a normal 23 year old who didn’t carry around craft supplies, but the Craft Lady was in full throttle and it was without shame that I hauled the scissors out of my backpack and got to work on the gift bag.

                …Back to Artsy Tartsy.

Besides being a real-life fairy princess because she is beautiful and sparkly, Kimberly has put me in touch with a lot of the people that I work for, out here. (We never saw Princess Jasmine networking in the movie, but I am sure she passed out Magic Carpet’s number to get him work. Kimberly’s a princess, y’all.) One of the women I work for is her friend Kristy.

Kristy is my spirit animal. 

This puts her in an elite league of women who include (but are not limited to) Tami Taylor, Jen Vellenga, Jessica Grano and Katie McClellan. Ok fine: I totally stole "spirit animal" from my friend Catherine, but it somehow sounds more poetic than "People at whose altar I worship."
I knew I liked Kristy right off the bat when she told me that her kids didn’t watch too much TV and said, “You are looking at the woman whose primary source of entertainment for them is a CD player. We don’t have cable.” (If there are any further questions on my philosophy about cable, please see paragraph 4.)
It was probably due to the fact that as a child, my artwork was just too abominable to display, or perhaps they didn’t want to encourage my already-alarming hoarding tendencies, but Jim and Lou didn’t display a lot of my artwork. By all means if I made something out of clay, they put it on the mantle for a while, but Kristy hangs up a serious percentage of her kids’ art, and I’m pretty sure this is exactly how it should be.
…And did I mention her craft cabinet? Close your eyes and imagine Michael’s Arts and Crafts. As Bachelorette Dez says, “Now times that by ten.” That is basically what her cabinet is. I didn’t even know glitter hot glue existed until I encountered this craft cabinet. (Which, let’s face it: is saying a lot, for me to discover an unknown facet of the craft world)
All this to say: Kristy is moving and she had some craft goodies of which she needed to be rid. We’d had a peculiar exchange a few weeks before; I don’t even remember what the craft was, that I was working on with her daughter, but she said, “You are… You’re crafty…” in a tone that indicated that I didn’t give myself credit, where crafting was concerned. I had more reserve in this moment than I did in the tissue paper moment with Kimberly, as I responded, “Yeah, I… do crafts. I like crafts.”
I say “reserve,” because I held myself back from saying, 


Apparently we’d had a misunderstanding somehow, because I’d given Kristy the idea that I wasn’t into crafts…
Once we cleared this up, there was no turning back. “Artsy Tartsy” was born. She called me a few days before we started and said, “I’ve got a few more kids who want to sign up…” and I said, 

“Well that’s good: I’ve got a few more twenty-somethings that hear I’m running a craft camp and want to sign up, too…”

          I will later discuss the Fifty Shades of Crafty that happened at what turned into three weeks of Artsy Tartsy (so far) but I would like to note: if anyone runs into Big Daddy around town, please ask him how “Art Time with Miss Grace” is going. Because he literally busts a gut and belly laughs every time he says those words to me. Even Princess Kimberly caught onto this and sent me the following, after I stayed with her cat for a week. (Who is just as magical as she is, but didn’t necessarily love all my crafts…)

If you’re a bird, I’m a bird...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to be my Competition

        “I was born Origanian, raised on a farm, grew up eating bunnies, ‘coons, whatever was on the land: we ate it.”
        As I listened to this woman who sported an appearance not unlike Lady Gaga, I thought: Well what’s an Origanian? I’ve never even heard of that term before. I’ve certainly got a lot of catching up to do… Fortunately the woman who was interviewing Gaga had the same question, which then allowed Gaga to clarify: Oregonian. She was born in Oregon.

Ohhhhhh now I get it.

        But Gaga didn’t stop there. She continued describing her agrarian childhood. Or perhaps more fitting: life back on the farm. “I came into the barn one day to find my Dad crackin’ bunny skulls and he just said, ‘You gotta eat the bunny, honey… ‘ SO I LEARNED TO EAT THE BUNNY! Next thing I knew, I was in there, crackin’ skulls next to him…”
        I must have blocked out the rest of what she and her compatriots said because before I knew it, we were on a break and I was shrugging out of my, ahem, shrug, anxious to peel it away from my arms. I turned to the girl next to me and offered a weak grin, “I just need to air out my pit stains, that’s all.” Through clenched teeth, so as not to draw attention to the movement of her mouth, she replied, “I can feel the sweat dripping down my arm. You tell no one about this.”
        How did I get here? Who were these people? (Besides the Lady Gaga wannabe, that we all now knew was born on the Oregon Trail…) How is it that I wound up here, instead of somewhere more appropriate, like a Lilly Pulitzer convention where we could all braid brightly-colored Lilly ribbon into each other’s hair? THIS WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE MY LIFE.
        For those of you that have been speculating since the first quote: no, I wasn’t checking into rehab. And let me apologize for not being forthright with my location at the top: it’s just too much fun to construct this piece otherwise.
        Actually, to the surprise of very few, I was at an audition. And the sweaty girl next to me was my roommate.
        We were at an audition for a new reality show that is being pitched as “The Amazing Race… In Middle Earth.” I am under no legal obligation to keep the name of the show from anyone, but it is perhaps in the wake of Michael Bluth driving the Something car and Ron Howard telling us that “all you have to do is something it,” that I find myself paranoid of some kind of lawsuit and I will say that you can something the tagline of that show, and figure out the rest pretty easily… I should also mention that Carolyn got this audition - I was merely riding her coattails. (or maybe "Hogwarts cloaktails" is more appropriate?) People were encouraged to bring partners to the audition, and this wasn't the first time Carolyn and I put the odds in our favor by forming a partnership. 

See: One Acts, Senior Year. It went something like this:

        Remember how I said that Lady Gaga had some “compatriots” in tow? That wasn’t by accident. A compatriot is defined as “a fellow citizen or national of a country.” And again, surprising very few: these three did not seem to be citizens of Los Angeles, the United States, or really even Planet Earth. In addition to the Mother Monster, there was a guy named Jared, who hadn’t brushed his hair in at least ten years, may or may not have even known what the word “comb” meant, and a guy named Steve. Jared rambled a bit about yoga and chakras and Steve was unusually quiet, except for adding the genius tidbit, “I believe in the world of real.” (In case there is ANY question, anything written in quotation marks here was absolutely 100% actually said. No embellishment. Steve believes in the world of real, people.)
        Carolyn and I observed these three as they sat down during the break (which we were using to try and cool off, without calling attention to ourselves) and somewhere around the commentary about serious pit stains, Carolyn (also through pursed lips, so as not to broadcast her remarks) commented, “I think there are actually homeless people here…” Please hear me when I say that I’m not judging. To each his own. Eat the bunny, honey. (It was at this point that Steve and Jared pulled out a miniature game of chess and started playing – this was of course another move that pointed to homelessness: the bizarre ability to make things materialize out of thin air, for none of the three vagabonds seemed to be toting a bag of any kind…)
        As one might imagine, we heard from a slew of colorful characters before Lady Gaga and her posse stepped up. It was unusual to be able to hear from each of the potential contestants: normally we’d all go into another room, one by one, to talk to the casting people, but the Questers kept it real, and everyone was in front of everyone when they introduced themselves. The two women who were running the audition got up and gave a brief spiel about how they were curious to hear about how we all geeked out, what our interests were, and “while I’m sure you’re all actors, we want to know what you do that really pays the bills.” Which, in hindsight, was kind of insulting to imply that CLEARLY IF ACTING PAID YOUR BILLS, NONE OF YOU CLOWNS WOULD BE HERE.
        The first set of partners was two girls that were both 19, wearing matching Buzz Lightyear t-shirts. It is not for the sake of touting my own appeal when I say that these two were seriously a snooze fest. A little while later we heard from a 28 year old guy named Daniel, who had dreds practically down to his knees. When asked about his eccentrically gothic (or gothically eccentric?) get-up, he replied that yes, he does wear clothes like that all the time. He was followed by a band of fellows I like to call “Martin and the Pirates.” Martin was from Britain and while I definitely zoned out a time or two during his long winded story about how he got here, the parts I did hear told me that he basically came over to the States for a sci-fi convention and never left. Before he sat down, he informed an inquisitive audience member that those weren’t cowry shells on his hat, but in fact tiny monkey skulls. It was up to us to determine if they were real or fake skulls. He was with another man in his mid-fifties, and a young college student, neither of whom said very much until asked how they all knew each other, and the other mid-fifties guy said, “Oh we’re pirates, together.”
        Again, I zoned out, but something about an actual live re-creation somewhere, that involves all three of them playing pirates. Whether they are joined by many other pirates or it is just the three of them, I do not know. Like I said: no judgment from me. Where I come from, people reenact the War of Northern Aggression all the time.
        Next up was a girl named Megan, who was with four other people, although they hardly got a word in. One did pipe up to tell us that they met Megan’s soulmate at the last Sci-Fi convention they went to: he was a Mexican lad who 5”1’ and his name was Pizza. But before she dropped the Pizza Bomb, Megan caught everyone’s attention when she said, “I’ve always been into sci-fi and fantasy. I saw aliens when I was six…”
        Fortunately the casting woman took the words right out of my mouth when she stopped Megan and said, “I’m sorry, can we go back to that, for a second? You saw aliens?” (At the time I was thinking: well what kind of supernatural being can I say that I’ve seen, when I get up there? Geez, I didn’t have any crazy talk prepared…)
        Equally as fortunate was Megan’s revelation that she was, in fact, speaking of the movie “Aliens.”

To quote Forrest Gump: “…that’s all I have to say about that.”

        Then there was Lord of the Rings Girl. I didn’t make up this name for her, it was one of the first things she said: “My friends at school call me Lord of the Rings girl.” She held up her hand, “This is my one ring to rule them all. It wasn’t forged by Sauron, but I can actually wield my own rings…”

This is what I have to say about that:

        At this particular juncture, I will choose to spare you all of what on earth was said when Carolyn and I took the stage; perhaps that shall be revealed at a later time. I will tell you that we didn’t make it to the second round, which wasn’t that surprising, given that we couldn’t compete with Lord of the Rings Girl. (I have a drill, but I certainly have never attempted to forge my own ring…) I will also say that we were lively enough to have Dred boy comment when we sat down: “And we have our first contestants, ladies and gentlemen! That’s gonna be a tough act to follow…”

We knew going in that we wouldn’t be able to compete with people like LOTR Girl, so all we could really ask for was to be memorable and enjoyable. Which, based on our discussion of Joseph Campbell, the Horsehair Worm Parasite and the Emerald Jewel Wasp, I’d say was a success. If you’re even beginning to doubt the validity of all of those references, just quit reading. Quit reading and watch this video of how an Emerald Jewel Wasp turns a cockroach into a zombie to lay her eggs. It’s real.

        Most potential contestants spoke to the casting people about LARRPing (ahem, that would be Live Action Role Playing, for those of you who didn’t know) and Carolyn and I talked about Emerald Jewel Wasps.

Oh, we also mentioned my coloring book. Cause I definitely had one in my bag that day. For those of you who haven’t heard the Jim Carnahan story, this wasn’t my first audition in which I brought up a coloring book. And if you'll notice in the photo below, English isn't the first language of this coloring book. That's right. Helloooooo CHEAP CRAFTS FROM THE 99 CENT STORE! 

(Come on… Did you doubt me?) 

If you're a bird, (Sauron) I'm a bird. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Grace and Douglas Take China: Prelims

Ok, there is absolutely nothing about this that constitutes my use of the term “Prelims,” but I’ve secretly always wanted to be good enough at a sport to have to use that word regularly, sue me. And technically, these are my “preliminary remarks,” so I’m only a “complete” tool, not a “complete and utter” tool.

I’m going to China.

That is neat.

(Yes, I’m excited, but before you search further for a Proverbs 31 Grace that will use words like “thrilled and absolutely blessed” and “totally over the moon,” remember to whom you are speaking. Please and Thank.)

Naturally, “X and Y Take China” is the first appropriate header I came up with and seeing that it would be socially awkward to choose only one of the five family members with whom I am traveling and plug their name into the second slot to describe who is taking China with me, “Grace and Douglas” will have to suffice. Unless “Grace and Jesus” starts to catch on…

So… China.

I’m thinking it would be appropriate for me to take sixty seconds to list everything I can about China, like that kind of assignment a teacher makes you do to later reveal your gaping lack of knowledge, before beginning a new unit. (Yes, this was only cool in fifth grade, but I AM MY OWN TEACHER, now that I’m out of school; BEAR WITH ME.)

- First known memory of China on record: Heaven ONLY KNOWS why we were digging holes in the ground at recess in first grade, but I remember Adelaide Freeman saying “yeah, let’s keep digging till we reach China! Then we can get all the toys!” and I thought: girl is funny. I should ally myself with this funny chick so I can learn to be funny, too. Also, what a clever first grader, to put it together that if toys bore a “Made in China,” mark, then the country would be FULL of toys. Was it social climbing, for me to befriend another first grader, in an effort to become a funnier human? Maybe. But given that: this was only one of the MANY reasons we became friends in addition to her existence being one of the primary reasons I survived Middle School, I think it's safe to say it wasn't a completely shallow move.

Oh. Also the fact that she's still one of my best friends, to this day:

...But I digress.

- Mulan. Mulan lived in China. I was so intrigued by her ability to swipe her sleeve across her face and wipe off the entirety of half her face’s make-up, when she was looking into her poolside reflection, after the disastrous audition-to-be-a-geisha thing. (I’m kidding about the geisha part – I DO know that’s Japanese.) I also would like the record to show that Disney Princesses like Jasmine and Ariel made me want to be them just because they were generally cool and gorgeous, among other things. While Mulan’s appeal was a little more subtle, I definitely would have gone to war, pretending to be a man, if it meant I got to have the Peanut Gallery that was Mushu and Crickie as my sidekicks.
- The Art of War. That’s Chinese. Taylor Kitsch references it in everyone’s favorite summer Blockbuster Battleship, so it must be good.

We actually read the book together, on-set.
(I'm lying.) 

- I happen to know a wealth of exercises that Chairman Mao made his soldiers do. That is not a joke.
- Apparently the Chinese actually discovered America. No, seriously. Google “Zheng He” if you don’t believe me.
- I had to do a Chinese accent when I played Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie in high school. I met with the Mandarin teacher to practice. Apparently faking a cheesy Chinese accent involves adding “uh” to any word that ends in a consonant(uh).
- The Painted Veil. Loved that movie. Love Edward Norton, in general. It took place in a remote village in rural China.

There. It’s been 60 seconds.

Looks like my work is cut out for me.

And finally, I will close with the very first revelation about Shanghai I came across, in my research:

“Beijing may be more mysterious, but Shanghai offers half-understood, semi-mythical images.”

And I don't even have to cite the source cause I'm not being graded on this. BOOM. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to be My YMCA...

        Ever see those beer commercials where, from the dude’s point of view, we see that a really hott girl is approaching, until we find out he’s wearing Beer Goggles, or something of the like and it turns out to be Betty White, walking towards him?
   (I don’t actually recall a specific beer commercial where that happened, but just go with me on this.)
       Oh – I should mention that as I write this, I’m sitting in Shelley’s favorite carpool line. I’m one of the Early Birds for Carpool – the Range Rovered Early Birds and I get here at about 2:30 every day and park outside the school gates. When the car in front of you starts, you turn your car on and everybody pulls forward. The Range Rover in front of me just turned on, but it was a false alarm: she was just turning on the AC because there are about five of us that landed in a section of the line to which the sun has direct access. Shelley’s AC hasn’t been turned on since the cross-country trek out here – lemme tell you what Grace did for AC: MOVED TO THE PASSENGER SIDE.
        No seriously – the passenger side is in the shade. Sorry I’m NOT sorry for being innovative when it comes to-- wait. Cars are moving forward. Excuse me while I vault over the console.

        Beer Goggles and console-vaulting aside, (I’ll come back to the Beer Gogs, I promise) this story begins with my drive home from work. If I finish work any time between 5 and 8 PM, my trek home will involve sitting on the 405 for about 2 hours, like a zombie. So in order to fight said Zombie Apocalypse, I decided to kill time at the Santa Monica YMCA one afternoon, recently.
        This was going to be epic, I could already tell. If the Green Hills Y was crawling with pfh’s (that would be “potential future husbands,” credit: LG Carroll) the SMY would literally be overrun with them. I was so ready to find my own personal Eric Taylor:

        As I pulled into the parking garage, I noticed a sign that said something to the effect of, “California State Law legislates that we tell you that parking here could cause cancer and damage every cell in your body and could make you give birth to seriously deformed children.”
         Whatever. Nothing could come between Coach and me. Let the already-deformed-in-my-womb-children try.
 I rode the elevator upstairs with two young kids and their mother, who was toting a Disney Princess bag. I remarked, “Love that bag. There was nothing like that when I was their age. I had some Belle socks and that was it…
        She laughed and replied, “Yeah well none of these princesses were around when you and I were little…”
        I wasn’t sure if I should be flattered that I apparently seemed mature enough for this woman to think I was a peer… OR OFFENDED THAT SHE THOUGHT I WAS CIRCA 35 YEARS OLD.

        Whatever. Nothing could come between Coach and me. Let the geriatric insults try.

        So I walked up to the counter and showed my YMCAs of Middle Tennessee card and was told that I could leave the card and my ID at the front desk and use the facilities. Inexplicably, I’d left my wallet at home that day, but also inexplicably: had an expired passport in my purse.
        So I handed it to the woman, with my Y card and mumbled, “It’s actually expired, but it’s got my identification…”

…Sure wish I hadn’t said that.

        She proceeded to tell me that an expired passport absolutely would NOT suffice, and while it genuinely had nothing to do with the Eric Taylor that awaited me inside, I was not going to let this go. She tried to tell me that I couldn't use an expired ID because “if something happened while I was on the premise… we need an updated identification card…” These two sets of ellipses alone, in her little speech, alerted me to the fact that there was no real reason to deny me entry, based on a date stamped on a card: she was just following orders. Which is great… unless they’re totally useless orders.
        I was holding up the line in my arguing with her and she finally shooed me to the side, to be dealt with by some woman she called Louise.
        Oh. Turns out Louise was the reincarnation of Aunt Bee, from Andy Griffith, who sidled on over in her rolling chair with a crinkly, “What can I do for you, dear?”

        I knew what was going to happen about 1.5 seconds before the words flew out of my mouth: I was going to lie, and straight-up-Neal-Caffrey my way into the YMCA.

        I don’t think that I’m actually capable of ‘purring,’ even though it’s a very admirable ability, but if this were my life as a Catherine Coulter FBI thriller novel, the words I said would be followed by “she purred,” as I flashed a smile at Aunt Bee and toyed with my pearls:
        “That woman told me that I should just give you my card and ID and I can pick them up when I leave?”
        LET THE RECORD SHOW: I’m not proud of this moment. I’m not proud of smooth-talking Aunt Bee into letting me into the Young Man’s Christian Association with an expired passport when I knew it was "against the rules," but I’m also fortunately not Jafar, or some other villain from a Disney movie that I TOTALLY WATCHED DURING MY CHILDHOOD,  CAUSE THAT’S WHEN THEY ALL CAME OUT, so my qualms were few.
        Measly dishtowel in hand (I’d just like to mention that the hand towels are unlimited at the Green Hills Y, but here in Santa Monica they’re more stingy, probably due to the ridiculous save-the-whales laws everywhere – DON’T get me started on the time that a woman tried to charge me for a plastic bag at Micahels’ because it’s literally “illegal” for them to offer plastic bags to customers) I made my way to the locker room, quickly becoming more disheartened by the step:

…I wasn’t going to find Eric Taylor, here.

And on top of that: I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.

        Allow me to explain my thinking, and why I’d been under the impression that I’d be in a mecca full of Eric Taylors. In Nashville, the Y is the place for good-looking, up-standing, young and single (and ok who isn’t also thinking “well-bred and well educated”?) men to work out. It is. It’s like a watering hole, or something. 

So foolishly, I thought I’d find the same, here.

        But how could I, when the watering holes of Santa Monica are those hippie self-workout scenes on the beach? Or worse: Equinox?

        I could rail against the joke that was the weight room, with cardio machines that were seriously from 1970, but as promised, I shall now bring it back to the Beer Goggles.
        I was doing abs on that contraption that allows you to lean down when you’re perched on your side, to work the external obliques, when this older gentleman approached me, and looking back, I think I truly expected a reverse of the Beer Goggles: the whole YMCA venture had gone so completely wrong that I thought it only fair that the universe bestow a Tim Riggins upon me, at least.

…But as this man got closer, I only saw more age lines on his face: no T. Rigg for Grace.
        I was so disappointed by the bleak outlook of my future at this point that I was only half-listening to whatever this guy said. Something about how he damaged his back on this mechanism back in ’75. I’m not even making that up. Or maybe something about “when he was seventy-five;” he could have been 90, for all I know.
        Fortunately, my experience afterwards at the Santa Monica Public Library was a little more thrilling: the only open seat at the “study tables” (where I could plug in my computer) was next to a gentleman who looked something like this:

        Should I be arrested for the above picture? Probably. I took it at the airport last May, to send to my mother, in response to her asking if I had any celebrity sightings at Los Angeles International. The caption read: “Of COURSE there were ZERO sightings – I’m flying Southwest. BUT the PFH gods DID bestow this little gem upon me…”
        Some people steal things, for the adrenaline rush. I take pictures of hott guys and try not to get caught, for the adrenaline rush. (I should also remark that this has inspired a later post: "This Wasn't Supposed to be my Special Skill," about taking stalker pictures
I’m clearly so off track right now, it’s a joke. But LET THE RECORD SHOW: I risked exposing my truly-stalker behavior, just now, ALL for the sake of entertaining the people.

And as for the Santa Monica YMCA, I will quote my personal American Idol, Kelly Clarkson: NEVER AGAIN.