Wednesday, February 20, 2013

These Weren't Supposed to Be My Boxes...

        Don’t get me wrong: I’m not pointing fingers or naming names, but… Wasn’t there supposed to be some kind of cautionary road block, warning me that I was violently careening towards the edge of a certain cliff? You know the road block of which I’m speaking: one that says, “Warning: you are swiftly approaching the point of no return. Strongly advised to TURN. BACK. NOW.”
        Because sometimes I feel so deeply entrenched in my crazy, that I wonder if there was, in fact, a road sign somewhere that I completely missed along the way.
        As I write this, I’m sitting in a carpool line, waiting to pick up kids in a… “nice neighborhood,” shall we say? Observations: there is a Porsche in front of me, an Escalade and BMW to my left, and a Mercedes behind me.
     … And I’m driving Shelley, everyone’s favorite Ford Taurus.

        LET THE RECORD SHOW: I have no problem with Shellster McGellster (yes, her side mirror is a little shattered, currently, because we were assaulted by a cement pillar in the parking garage at church yesterday. Did you hear that, Ma and BD? CHURCH.) But Shell McGell parked between a BMW and Escalade in high school; bring it on.
        Wait. That’s not entirely true: it was, in fact, the Cruiser, that was parked between these two seemingly superior cars. Should I have felt less-than, in my 99$ car, those 2 sememesters? My answer to that question was a Big Lebowski bumper sticker, that is still on the car today, that reads It don’t matter to Jesus.
        The biggest problem is that I’m shedding like an animal right now, so naturally I’ve cracked my windows to dispose of the hair, so it doesn’t linger in the car. Except the wind is socially awkward today. No seriously – North, South, East, West – what are you today, Zephyr? MAKE UP YOUR MIND. So I think it’s blowing one way, I dispose of the hair, and it blows back in the car. This is not unlike the time we went to have a tea party at Sumner Morgan’s house in 6th grade and the boys near the front of the bus were hawking huge ones out the bus window. Chubby Grace thought she saw an opportune moment to stick her head out the window and get some air, amidst the loogie-firing, when she thought she was in the clear. (Why, Chubby, why?!) She did so at the exact moment that J. Mocxygemba fired a huge one out the window.
…You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to know that the laws of Physics flew the loogie from Mocxy’s mouth to Chubby’s forehead, just like Chubby's hair was flying back in the window right now, over ten years later. This is 100% true. However off topic it may be.
        So yes, I’m worried that these well-manicured moms think there’s a lunatic in the carpool line, who keeps reaching her fingers out the window, inexplicably.
        Fortunately no one alerted the carpool gestapo that Big Foot was shedding in the vehicle lane and we made it home safely.
        This family I’m working for is moving, so I told the mom I’d pick up some boxes over the weekend. Keep in mind, she suggested UHaul and said she was happy to reimburse me- this sweet woman doesn’t fall into the same category of my Well-Bred Street Rat kin.
        I proceeded to unload the boxes I’d procured and when she got home, she told me the boxes were just what she’d been looking for and asked me where I’d found them.

        …I hadn’t planned an answer to that question.

        Throughout the day, I’d been shoving it to the recesses of my mind, and every time it floated to the surface, singing, “Graaaaace. You should figure out an answer to that question so you don’t expose the “Street Rat” half of your brand name,” it would get dunked back under, to be dealt with later.
         Well “later” suddenly became “now that I was staring the question in the face.”

        Should I lie, and say something like, “Oh my boyfriend just moved, so he had all these boxes…” (Ok I’m fairly certain she knows I don’t have a boyfriend, not to mention the “well bred” half of me was fighting for control, turning cartwheels with her “HONESTY: IT’S THE BEST POLICY” jersey on, that reads: “#12 INTEGRITY” on the back.
        I blurted out the truth, “Oh, you know… one of my favorite local street shopping haunts… down the road from us, there’s this Nursing Home that is a Treasure Trove most Monday Mornings… Do you need a crate? I snagged one of those, too – thought it might be useful…”
        Her eyes widened before she burst out laughing, as I continued, “Why go to UHaul when these babies were just piled next to the dumpster? Sure, it might be awkward that your cutlery will be in a box that reads “Vinyl Powder Free Gloves,” but the price was right!”

“Oh your poor parents. If only they knew, right?”

Ah. Clearly she wasn’t completely tuned into the Street Rat part of me, just yet.
        “Oh the Eagle Scout in my father would be proud. My Mom would probably just want to make sure that there weren’t germs of old dead people…” (Or is it “dead old people”?) I actually cut myself off at “germs,” Well-Bred Grace winning out in her insistence that we refrain from discussing deceased geriatrics.
        When I relayed this story to my mom the next day, she said, “So you didn’t tell her that you actually learned the art of Dumpster Diving from your father? Didn’t show her the Christmas tree video?” TRUE story: I took a video on my cell phone when I was 15, of Big Daddy wrestling the lights off a tree at the Christmas Tree Graveyard. We use them on the tree. To this day.

        This wasn’t supposed to be my car. These weren’t supposed to be my boxes, but this is definitely my life right now. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to be my To-Do List...

        This post is dedicated to a one Buck Curley. He thinks I’m funny. And maybe he was lying when he said he’d read some of my stuff, but seeing that I just wanna entertain the people… I LIVE for the people that read my stuff and tell me it’s funny. 

“T-shirts, wood, and converter box. Well, not necessarily in that order, but that’s what the rest of my day looks like…” I said to my Mom, on the phone last Sunday afternoon.
The t-shirts were at the top of the list: utterly Geek-Status-inducing t-shirts from the TV show NCIS. And not a clever shirt with Mark Harmon’s face and the “10 Rules of Gibbs,” but just a plain black shirt that said “NCIS” in big white letters, across the chest. My grandparents (mostly Mimi) are obsessed with the show, so we ordered the t-shirts for them, but they hadn’t arrived yet.
…I ordered them about a month ago.
So their placement on my to-do list had to do with tracking down what had actually happened to them.
Turns out I’d never pressed the “Place Order” button.

…Well that was easy to check off the list.

The next item on the list involved scouring the streets of Studio City to find wood. 

(No Dad, I haven’t sunk to the depths of the Hollywood depravity you’re afraid of right now) 

I mean wood for my latest and greatest Home Improvement project: shelf dividers. I don’t know how I got on this train, but as soon as I did, there was no turning back.
(Remember the runaway train in Anastasia? I’m talking about that kind of "no turning-back".)
I had to have shelf dividers. I sent the following picture to my Renaissance-Neighbor, Josh, and said something like, “So… This is a very crude set up, but I want to make wood shelf dividers, that would fit in the shelf like that paper is set up now. If I find wood, and we use that saw that the landlord isn’t supposed to know you have… How impossible is this idea?”
I’m actually not even 100% sure what his reply was, but it didn’t say “No Grace. Please give it up,” and I knew that my immediate end of the deal included finding wood to use, so I had my work cut out for me.
I set out to find materials, hitting up all my favorite back alleys and side streets, and before long I’d found more than for which I had originally been in the market. (I just couldn’t end that sentence with a preposition. Sorry I’m not sorry.)
And by “more,” I mean I found a very sensible coffee table that could easily serve as a catch-all in my room. And by “catch all,” I mean I could heap clothes there instead of on the floor. Resourceful, right? Obviously I didn’t set out to obtain a table, but who am I to defy the Furn Fairies, when they choose to bestow more furniture upon me?
In order for said table to match pretty much every other piece of street-procured furniture in our apartment, I needed to paint it black, and since most of my black acrylic craft paint had been mixed with Mod Podge to take care of a bookshelf, Mama needed to find herself some black paint.
When he’d seen the paint job that the last bookshelf was begging for, (before I mollified it with my acrylic paint and Mod Podge) Josh told me about the “Oops Aisle” at Home Depot – an Island of Misfit Toys, if you will, or in this case: paint that had been mixed to the wrong shade of Eggshell or what have you – i.e.: really cheap paint.

I figured I’d hit up Home Depot and Goodwill in the same trip, so I could check the third thing off my list: a converter box.
As anyone might guess, our TV is a charity case: we pulled it off the streets and have been rehabilitating it, ever since. Unfortunately I'm finding out with each day that passes, no matter how many times it goes through the 12 Steps, our once-left-for-dead TV cannot be made into a flat screen. For those of you that don’t have a flat screen, (I actually don’t know a single person who fits in this category anymore) I’m talking about the 90’s TVs, whose front-to-back measurement matches the side-to-side measurement – they do NOT get digital channels.

So the liaison (Lisel Albee) to my Engineering Consultant (Josh Albee) told me that if I went to Best Buy and got a 15$ antennae set, I could get standard network channels. (So I could watch The Bachelor, duh)
But upon a trip to Best Buy, my buddy Ramen asserted that we’d need a 60$ converter box, in addition to the antennae, because our TV could only read analog channels. He said this when I was trying to cover all of my bases with the antennae, “So I take this thing home, plug it in to the TV, and even though it’s a big fat TV from 1997, it will work?”
My reaction to his announcement of the extra 60$ was akin to that of my father, the last time a hotel concierge told him that WiFi (or as he calls it “WeeFee”) would be two extra dollars.
I obviously refused to purchase said converter box, determined to find something cheaper at Goodwill, if not online, and I’d ironically given up on my intended Goodwill venture when Lisel called me that afternoon. (I say “given up,” because I’d driven around for a while, looking for the Goodwill store, on the street where MapQuest had sent me, but given my penchant for discombobulating the easiest of directions, I couldn’t find it. And apparently wasn’t that motivated to pursue it.)
“What’s your address? Josh and I are sending you a converter box.”
Lisel probably wasn’t aware that these were among the most generous words ever uttered to me, probably since that time Big Daddy said he would buy me a bed so I wouldn’t have to sleep on an air mattress until December and wait to ask for one for Christmas.
 I was literally floored. When I told Lisel as much, she replied, “We want to do something nice for you, ok?”
Still speechless, I sputtered, “But… I just… I know that you know how much this means to me because I know that you two are in a very elite realm, achieved by very few, that involves being as cheap-as-all-get-out; a realm of which I am Lord High Chancellor…”
Ok I totally didn’t say anything about Lord High Chancellor, but Lisel and Josh are the most kindred of spirits when it comes to spending NO money, so I naturally felt like Jean Valjean, freely receiving the precious silver candlesticks (yes that is in the part that’s before we’re exposed to Anne Hathaway’s scrawny existence…)

Rather miraculously, I managed to follow the directions I’d scrawled on the back of a receipt and find Home Depot, all while I was on the phone with Lisel (a feat in itself) and I charged in, ready to get my paws on some cheap black paint.
Once I was in the “Paint” section, I marched up to the counter and asked where the “Oops” section was.
“You’re in it,” was the reply with which I was met.


I looked down: my hands were resting atop several miscellaneous cans of paint.

Good one, Grace.

Put-Together Grace, the one who is still scarred from when we had to put a crayon in the Lost Crayon bin on the first day of Kindergarten, for speaking without raising our hand, was mortified. Please, just… don’t speak, ever again, Grace. You are a child. Use your eyes. Find the paint. Don’t be a moron next time…
Ragamuffin Grace, the one who refused to wear a coat at recess in the winter when we were in Kindergarten and couldn’t care less what the teacher thought (who was affirmed by Lou, when called in for a conference with Mrs. Daniel about how Grace wouldn’t wear her coat at recess, like all the other good children. Lou replied, “I send her with a coat. If she’s cold, she’ll put it on.”) that Grace laughed it off with a hearty, “Well whaddaya know!” as we swiped a can of very black-looking paint.
(To whom it may concern: yes I did just refer to several variations of myself in the above, referring to the Collective, Universal Grace as “we.” Uta Hagen calls this “Changes of Self.” Try not to worry about it.)
I stood in line behind a family who was purchasing more light bulbs than I knew a single building could require. Seriously, they must have owned several hotels, because I don’t think the Biltmore itself demands this many light bulbs.
(If you don’t get that joke or the picture, we probably shouldn’t be friends.)

So I hear a hearty, “I can get you over here!” which fortunately allowed me to bypass the Vanderbilt Family and all of their light bulbs.
If someone had told me that Ian Somerhalder was going to be the cashier, Mousy Grace would have absolutely opted to stay behind the Vanderbilts and wait until midnight to check out, instead of facing the 50 Shades of Gorgeous that was now responsible for ringing up my paint.
Obviously the cashier was no more Ian Somerhalder than I’m Lord High Chancellor of the Realm of Squalor, but he may as well have been. He was beautiful. I’m not making this up. I didn’t know beautiful men were allowed to work at Home Depot, but THIS GUY certainly did. And I was egregiously lacking a shower and a shave (just kidding; I’m not actually a man) and I was face to face with a “real cute fella,” as Mimi would say.
“Got a painting project going?” Christian Grey asked me, as I rooted around for my debit card. Does conversing just come that naturally, when you’re that good-looking? I wondered. “Painting project.” He is the king of Charm. Do I have a painting project going? Yeah, I’m painting our house. The one we’re going to live in, after we get married!
…Don’t worry. I mumbled something like, “Oh yeah. Painting a table. Big Sunday Afternoon for this girl.”
Put-Together Grace started banging her head against the counter at our blatant lack of charm, while Ragamuffin Grace tugged on our arm and asked if we could get some of those cool-looking, 99 cent key chains that were on display.
And in case anyone was wondering: there is no Flirty Grace, to swoop in and save the day, here. Or if there is, she certainly doesn’t come out if we haven’t seen a hairbrush in the past two weeks…
Should you be awaiting the chapter “This Wasn’t Supposed to Be My Flirty Persona”? Probably.