Sunday, December 19, 2010

I am a huge fan

When going to a job as a corporate employee, just know, that you will be swimming in oceans of cheese. They have corporate 'slogans' and sayings that they will announce the first day you show up. At first, you look at these corporate people and notice they have glassy eyes and corporate wet brain. It's something all corporate people have. They look in to your eyes, short of saying, "Pretend that I don't sound like a complete fucking idiot right now." But to work at the job, you must swim, in the corporate cheese.
At my old job there were billions of gallons of cheese. It was constant. I worked in a grocery store where the big bosses thought they were rock stars. When in reality, they were just old, fat, bald headed, fucks. The grocery store was their life. It was their world. When in reality, they were making someone else a shit load of money. The big bosses would come in with gel in their hair and tell the store boss, with gel in his hair, that we needed to be reminded constantly about the slogans and sayings. If we missed one of the slogans, we would have to say the slogan over the intercom to pump up the other employees. Things like, "If you shuffle your feet, you may miss a greet!" Even typing that made me throw up in my mouth a little.
It's corporate work. There are people in corporate offices, some of them, women, with sensible, pressed outfits and half inch black pumps and they have two looks. Angry and angry. Then there are the corporate men. They also have two looks, the 'I'm fucking the girl in the deli' look. And the 'Jesus is my lord and savior' look. BTW, these two looks are on the same man. When angry and Jesus merge, this is where the ideas come from. Huge corporate buildings filled with people with glassy eyes and starched shirts. They are robots. They back stroke through the cheese and think of ways to make the cheese 'cheesier'. They think of ideas, because they are the idea people, to strip the employee's of their remaining dignity. 'What if we say that if they miss a greet that they will have to wear something like a party hat, but instead of it being a party hat, it could be a enormous engorged penis, standing straight up on the top of their heads? Yes. Someone send a fax."
The one thing for sure is that even with all the above, there is no shame in swimming in the cheese to buy cheese. But the moment the slogans begin to make sense, get out. That doesn't mean the next place you go there won't be more cheese to swim in, but possibly a better cheese. Like mozzarella, or feta. You'll be floating in your new cheese and you'll look up and there will be a new group of fat, fuck, wet brain bosses and you'll realize in corporate life, there is no escape.
There are rules in life, at home, at work. We are suppose to follow these rules. But when you leave your job, your anus shouldn't hurt. Unless your job involves some sort of study on anus pain. (I wonder what that pays?)
I am currently swimming in Hollywood cheese. The thing that sucks about Hollywood cheese is the leaders of the cheese smile and talk real kind. They also have slogans like, "I love your work, really." Or, "I am a huge fan." Then they do a line of coke off their Coach wallet. The softness in their voice, before the coke, makes you really think, "Wow. This could be really great!" They smile at you with their insane white teeth and then they begin to swirl their head around, "Who do I have to fuck to get a drink around here!" Then, as you're driving home without any warning, your anus begins to hurt.
I swam in the corporate cheese for entirely too long so now my tolerance for the Hollywood cheese is nonexistent. I am almost 50 and the best I can do is float on a hardened cheese like Velveeta.
If you are young, or even younger, if there is something you want to do in your life, do it. No matter what bullshit people tell you, there is a REAL window in life. The window where you make something happen or you don't. When you hear of people who did great things when they were 50 or 60, it's like five people. I'm not even kidding. Five fucking people succeeded at some great thing, and then they dropped dead. I waited and it may turn out to be one of my biggest regrets. We all say, oh, there's time, I'll work on it tomorrow, I'll get to it. I promise you that TOMORROW you will wake up and be 50 and you will know you missed the window. You not only missed the window, there is no window and there is a giant swamp cooler shoved in there as you fan yourself with a piece of paper, saying, "Sweet baby Jesus! It's a hot one today!"
I believe in people. I believe people can do great things. But to be great, you have to actually DO something great. You have to do it. Talking about it doesn't make it happen. I get messages or emails from people who say they're going to write a book. They tell me about the book and you know what I say? "I love your work, really. I'm a fan." And I'm not even a cheese leader! This is a sad world.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Matthew Austin Lennon

When you had a baby, did you really have any idea what you were doing? It's sort of a thing you have to jump in to and learn as you go.
I had my first baby when I had just turned 18 so let's just say, I had a lot of shit figured out. I read a pamphlet in the doctors office and it was filled with helpful 'mommy tips'. I read it, didn't even take the pamphlet with me, just read it in the office. I say that because if I would have at least taken the literature with me I could have referred to it when I ran in to a situation.
The first situation came when I got my baby home to my parents house. What do you do with the baby? So, I showed her around the house, "This is the living room. This is the kitchen. Out that window there is a cow."
When I had my first daughter, my baby's daddy's mom, Nana, said that if I pulled the bottle straight out of her mouth and she made that suction noise, that could collapse her soft spot and suck it right in to her head. So the proper way was to lean the bottle out sideways until she stopped sucking the bottle. The fact is, I never believed that to be true because if it were, where are the people that this happened to? I have never seen a person with the top of their heads completely dented in like a meteor crater. I have never said to someone, "What happened to the top of your head? Oh. Collapsed soft spot. Your mom didn't know? So sad."
So if me and Nana were having a disagreement about something and she would be saying something to me that I didn't like, while I'm feeding my baby her bottle, I would look right at her and intentionally pull the bottle straight out of the baby's mouth. It would make this loud 'THUP'. Nana would immediately react, "Oh my god! No! The soft spot!! You could kill the baby!" For the record, I loved Nana. She was amazing to me and my daughters and I think we may have had a total of two disagreements in the many years we knew one another. There may have been more, but everyone knows that you don't argue with Nana. I think that is a worldwide 'Nana' deal. To argue with a Nana is a loose, loose. 'Grandma', you may get away with some shit. 'Nana'? You'll start confessing shit from six years ago.
These days young parents are just crazy. My oldest daughter, the one that I used for the soft spot bit with Nana, she is going to have a baby in the next week or so. (Her head is completely round, by the way.) She's putting the headset on the belly with music for the unborn baby. Reading to the belly. Singing to the belly. Are you kidding with me? You are going to be a parent for the rest of your life! Take this time to just let the belly do it's own thing.
The hospital room where my grandson will be born is called a 'family room'. That means that your entire family can come and have the baby with you. Beds, accommodations, I think they may serve drinks or opiates. And this is for however many people you want? When I had my daughters, I was in a delivery room that the hospital also used to deliver office supplies. I'm having a baby and they are rolling boxes up a loading dock and chatting, "Hey Bob! Did you ever get that tranny replaced? Can you sign for this?" The doctor puts down the jaws of life he's using to pull the baby out with. He's signing the paper, "I just don't know if it's worth it to put a new one in that old truck." Hey! Medicine man! Focus!
My daughter has the best health insurance in the country. I was, there is no other way to say it, a welfare mom. When you have a baby on the state money, they cut out all the frills. Like water. And air. They deliver the baby, spray the baby off, hand it to you and say, "You are free to go. Good luck with that." They may cut the cord, they may not. You may be able to pull the baby around Wal Mart by their cord for as long as need be. I mean, yeah I get it. I actually didn't expect more. But now that I see how it is when normal people have a baby, wow! It really is a beautiful day! I'll have a sandwich and an Ambien!
What I find is that every single parent has some sort of terrifying tip for you. "Make sure you burp her or the gass will build up and her liver could explode. That happened to a friends baby."
Everyone has something. Too many blankets may kill the baby. Not enough blankets, bye-bye baby. Cold formula has bacteria. Sianara' baby. Hot formula? You can have more children. Holding the baby wrong could kill the baby. The fabric of the babies clothing could be a silent killer. Dog hair, silent killer. Lead base paint? It could not only kill the baby, it could kill every single person in the house and possibly a couple of neighbors. Also, a silent killer. Adios' bambino. And why? It's because of that total fucking I don't give a shit attitude that parents have. (That last line was a joke and I wish I didn't have to include this information but sometimes people take me seriously and I have no idea how to process that in my brain.)
This is what I know for sure. If the baby is crying, pick up the baby. I know that you can hug and kiss a baby as much as you want. They are helpless to stop you. Do it now because when they are about seven, that crap will stop especially with little boys. Hugs and kisses interfere with their activities. When you tell them you love them and they are only one week old, they know what that means. When a small baby smiles at you, thats the first way they express that they love you. When they spit up on your clothes, your couch, your bed, whatever. It's what they do. When they do not want you to sleep, you are not going to sleep. They come in to the world and it is their world. As it should be. The best case scenario is that when a baby gets here, he or she has a circle of people waiting for them and already loving them before they even get here. Isn't it grand to be a baby? Having a baby around just makes everything better. It's like having a flat screen TV or an IPAD. I am very excited to meet my grandson Matthew Austin Lennon. The thing is that it is hard to be a parent and we all do the best we can. It's like the old saying about parenting. "Don't let the time do you. You do the time."

Thursday, December 16, 2010


This is the conversation I just heard from the neighbor children in reference to the Christmas lights on the houses.
Sister, about 5 years old. "Oh, look! The entire community is all lit up!"
Brother, about 6 years old. "It's not called a community. It's called a neighborhood."
Sister, "So what."
Brother, "Remember! We did this last year and it really works!"
Then the brother, for whatever reason looks up at the lights on his house, cups his hands over his mouth and says, "Echo! Echo! Echo!"
Sister does the same thing, "Echo! Echo! Echo!"
Remember being little and waiting for Christmas and how it was the most exciting thing ever! My parents had this Ceramic Nativity scene. It was small. But the thing that made it an insane mystery was that the little wooden crib was empty. Then on Christmas morning, the baby Jesus would appear laying in the crib! You know, because Jesus wasn't born until Christmas morning? I remember coming around the corner and there was Jesus! And where there was Jesus, there was presents!
On my research for this investigative journalistic piece of work, I asked my mom, "Where did you guys keep the ceramic baby Jesus until Christmas morning?" After about 15 minutes of mumbling, "It seems like we didn't have a very good system on that. We put Jesus in different spots. Some years, we would have to look for him because we couldn't remember where we put him."
At some point, the baby Jesus's head was busted off because of what my parents called our 'rough-housing'. Several ceramic icons were injured, but not to the level of the baby Jesus. The head was glued back on but the baby Jesus just didn't look right.
I remember another Christmas where we were doing the Christmas pageant. You know, with all the biblical celebrities. Mary, Joesph, the wise men, Jesus. I was so excited about my part. It wasn't a speaking part. And if my memory serves me, it was the only non speaking part, but it was a very powerful moment and I was going to deliver it with such depth that the audience would gasp at the emotion I brought to the character. I believe the actual character was written on the script as 'Walking Child'. I had practiced ahead of time for weeks. All I had to do was carry a 'challis', that had pretend wine in it, down the center isle of the church and set it on the alter. Then walk back. That was my part. That was what I practiced. I still have no clue what part the glass of Chard had to do with the birth of Jesus but I was just honored to be involved.
Right before I am going to rock their world, my nose begins to bleed. Then I faint. The Priest, an amazing man, Fr. Gene was looking over me fanning me with something. Turns out I didn't have an understudy for that role. They grab some kid wearing a vest and shiny black shoes out of the audience and say, "Take this and set it on the alter." The rage made my nose bleed more that this fucking amateur random kid was stealing, let's face it. The role of a lifetime. It was complete bullshit. Not just anyone could be 'Walking Child'. It was a role not unlike that of Meryl Streep in Sofie's Choice except we were not in Germany and there was less bombing in the background.
The main thing I remember about Christmas when I was a kid was, well, the utter disappointment. Sorry mom and dad! But the only time you really got in the game was the year you bought us bikes? And the other year that you got the boys chemistry sets. One year I got an easy bake oven. That was the year I realized that nothing in my life was going to work out. The easy bake oven came with ONE cake mix. And they didn't sell them. So you bake one little cake? It's over. The toy is not only no longer fun, there is no function for it. I tried to make it in to a Barbie house, which is what I actually wanted. I would pretend it was their hotel. I'd lay them on the racks. Then take them off the racks. That was it. I took the actual rack out and then the Barbies could sit in there like they were on a bus trip or something. You know it takes three minutes to eat your little cake the size of a bisket, then you realize you were completely screwed by Fisher Price. I spent the day mumbling, "Bullshit." My brothers thought this was hysterical, "Hey, Dina! When will the cake be ready!" Me, "Fuck off." I was ten.
But what was the real idea of Christmas? That little baby Jesus. In the manger. Surrounded by the wise men, one of which had an arm broken off and the sheep with one ear. With Mary and Joesph in all their glory looking down at the baby Jesus. And the baby Jesus looking at them. With white glue on his throat and his head cocked to one side. That's what it's all about. The birth of Jesus at a Marriott in Dubai. I haven't read the bible in a while so I could be improvising that last part. But it's the traditions that create the love at Christmas. For me, it was that Nativity scene. For my kids, it's the Coach purse. We all have something that makes the holiday magic. For some kids, it's standing in the front yard and saying, "Echo! Echo! Echo!" I hope they heard some sort of echo. I wonder if when they grow up they will take their children out to the front yard and teach them to echo. I think it's a really nice idea:)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The people on the shore line

We are drowning. I am drowning with you. To show you how much I love you. I love you so much I will gasp for air with you. Because that's how much I love you.But there are others... on the shore line. Waiting for me to get their lunch. A nine year old little boy that wants to ride bikes and laugh. He can eat a whole pizza by himself but he likes to share with me. He smiles.I can feel your hand slipping, away, and away. My heart is in a million pieces. I think it may be selfish to save myself. You may think I didn't love you. I can feel your finger tip and the water moving us further apart. We are suffocating. Together. Because that's how much I love you. Do I love you so much that if you continued to fall, I would fall too?Little boys always want the bike to go faster. Faster and faster. I tell him to be careful. He ignores me smiling. I kiss him. I love him too.I am drowning. For me to come up and out of the water, I have to let you go. I have to let go of your sweet hand. I need a breath. One big breath. I can see the sun shining on the top of the water and it calls me.The people on the shore call me. They want ice cream because that's a thing that people want. Nothing more. Nothing less. It's a simple choice. Chocolate.I just want you to know that drowning with you serves no point. It won't fix it. It won't fix you.So I will ride the bike and laugh and look at the water and waves and turn away. Because that's what we do after we almost drown.... turn away. And with that we have saved ourselves. But wow, I love you. I really, really love you. I'm sorry.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Uncle Cecil

My Uncle Cecil and Aunt Sherry have been married for oh, 100 years or something. They have always fit one another so perfectly and they have had a lifetime of laughter. I am a comic and I have seen EVERYBODY. (I'm a pretty big deal) There is not one person alive that is as funny as my Uncle Cecil. Aunt Sherry has been his audience all these years and is his biggest fan. At any gathering, Aunt Sherry would say to Uncle Cecil, "Tell that one story..." He would tell it and she would laugh as if it was the first time she heard it with tears rolling down her face.
Growing up all the family holidays were held at my grandparents house. No one missed it. My Uncle Cecil and Uncle Dean would go back and forth telling stories and acting out events for the entire day. They were so, so funny that half the time we would be falling on the floor holding our stomachs and hurting from the laughter. They went on and on. I know they had challenges in their lives and things that had broken their hearts. But for those days, they had a captive audience and we could not get enough. Of the thousands of comedy shows I've seen, I have still never laughed as hard as I did during the Cecil and Dean Show. And the fact that they could go on for five or six hours of non stop halarity, was amazing. And this was EVERY gathering, they were on fire. As a comic I have thought hundreds of times about a story that Uncle Cecil told and think, why couldn't I do it? Uncle Cecil has a certain thing. His body language, his facial expressions, his timing and just the way he talks. He is the only person that can do him. The thing that is clear in my head is that Aunt Sherry continued to laugh. Now, for the married people, okay, he says the funny thing, but that's it. You don't want to hear that thing again. It doesn't matter how funny it is. How many times has a married person said, "Hey, tell that one story..." Most people I know are saying to their spouses, "Jesus, don't tell that story again. You're killing me with the stories." But Aunt Sherry would give him her complete attention and he would act the whole thing out and tell the story as she laughed holding her stomach and laughing as if it wasn't the fiftyith time she's heard it.
Uncle Cecil loves Aunt Sherry so much that he has spent his entire life making her laugh. And Aunt Sherry has spent her life laughing. I can't think of a better way to spend a life. How often do you hear of two people like that? Married people. Not often. If you have spent your life making the girl of your dreams laugh, you did good. Really, really good.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What it feels like... from my book Everything I Never Wanted To Be

This is what it feels like. You are in second grade. You do alright with your grades, your classmates. At home your parents think you are the most beautiful person alive. You are a second grader that someone would glance at and think, 'Cute little girl'. But, something is wrong. You're little so you don't understand. But you can feel that you are not like the other kids. They like you, but you secretly don't know why. Everyone around you acts like you blend, so you try to blend.
You grow older, and still, you just don't quite fit. You don't get it. You don't feel connected to other people. But you play along. You're in High School and you really can't let anyone know you feel this way. You never feel comfortable. Some days your skin crawls. You're nervous. You feel moments of panic like you are gasping for air. But no one can know because you're still blending. You look around and wonder what the secret is. Why am I just never quite good enough? You have to act normal and be the person people think you are. Not this shaking, frightened teenager. What it feels like is the feeling you get when you are under water. You know that little bit of panic right before your head surfaces? You walk through your school, or your home, or the mall and you feel different, and not in a good way. You can feel the pressure on your skin. And you have to get out. Because you're suffocating and not one person has a clue. You're hanging out with friends and someone has something, a drink or a drug. You give it a try for the first time. You will never be able to take this back.
You can feel your body coming up out of the water and you take a huge breath of air. You can feel the rush of relief. You can feel the warm sun on your face. You want to stretch your arms out and scream because you're not dead after all. For the first time in your life, you can breath. And it is fucking amazing after an entire life of suffocating. You suddenly, for the first time in your life, feel... like other people. You can breath. You are not just you, you are more you than you've ever been. You don't feel high, you feel like everyone else. Your skin stops crawling. You're not in complete panic. You are for the first time in your life.....alive and safe and calm.
The fact is that people who are not addicts do not have this reaction to drugs or alcohol. Normal people have a few drinks and feel a little floaty and think, that was fun. Or take a pill for an injury, (I know, but this is why normal people take pills) and you feel kind of happy and silly. An addict or alcoholic's brain chemistry reacts completely different. A drug or a drink is a life changer. You have saved your own life. It's an awakening from a life spent in loneliness and fear. And once you've surfaced, above the water, your brain will never let you forget it. From that moment on your brain says... get it, get it, get it, get more, get more, and it never quiets. It is relentless. It is bigger than you. It's so loud it's deafening. To tell an addict or alcoholic to stop is the equivalent to saying, "Go back under the water."
Making the choice to go back under the water is an impossible option. An addict will do the most horrifying, demoralising, immoral act to avoid going back under the water where they will no doubt die.
So what do we do? We must learn to live above the water without the drugs and booze. To feel the sun, and stretch our arms out and embrace and love life. We don't have to go back under the water... but we must find that tiny flame that burns in all of us and help it grow until that fire is so big, the stalking voice in our head, shuts the fuck up. Until then, you must protect that tiny flame because at the end of the day, it will be the only thing to build a new life on. And because we don't quite fit in our skin, it's like holding a candle in the wind. The fact is that I am still struggling. I had six years in sobriety. Then one day I didn't anymore. One day, I too, will accept that big breath of air...I will choose life. One day I'm under the water and the next, looking for something to pull me out. I can't self destruct to such a level that the little flame blows out. I can still feel the little flame in my heart, but I'm cupping with my hands with my back to the wind.
It's a life time deal, if I'm lucky, which most people aren't, I will be around to not only come out of the water without help and feed my fire, I will feel peace. I will also be laying on a raft with little pieces of gauze between my toes and be tan like the Kardashians.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lemon Tree... from my book Everything I Never Wanted To Be

I have been phobic as far back as I can remember. You know that cartoon where the 'coyote' is standing on top of a speeding train and the train goes in to a tunnel? Then the coyote's outline is smashed in to the concrete arch above the tunnel? As a child I would wonder, what if I am standing on a train and I don't duck fast enough to go through the tunnel? This was actually possible in my head.
I'm afraid of everything. I trace it back to the second grade.
My second grade class went on a field trip. We were all sitting on the grass in a big circle, somewhere, drinking lemonade. I took a big gulp from my straw and I swallowed two or three seeds. I thought this was very interesting and said the the little girl sitting next to me, "I just swallowed some lemon seeds." She looked at me straight faced and said, "You're going to grow a lemon tree in your belly." I looked dead in her eyes and said, "So." Then I turned around and began to completely panic. I thought, oh my god! A lemon tree in my belly! Help! Someone help me!

I spent the rest of the field trip imagining the process of the lemon tree that was now growing in my belly. How fast will this tree grow? Will the branches poke out of my skin? Could I trim the branches so I could wear regular clothes and continue going to a regular school? Would the lemons be edible? Would my parents be embarrassed by my condition, yet, pleased because my lemons are so tasty?
When I got home from the field trip I went immediately to my mother to tell her the news. I was in complete panic. I run through the screen door and go to my mother grabbing her shirt. I look up at her and say, "I swallowed some lemon seeds." She continued doing whatever she was doing.

I am now desperate, "Mom! I swallowed some lemon seeds! A girl said that I am going to grow a lemon tree in my belly!"
In my entire life there has been one time I needed my mother to be sure of something and this was the time. I needed her to be firm and confident and absolute. She looks down at me with a smile and says, "Oooh. I don't think so, honey."
I don't 'think' so? Good god in heaven, I'm might be growing a lemon tree in my belly. You don't 'think' so, but you can't be sure? I sort of need you to be sure about this. I needed something to the effect of, "That is the silliest thing I have ever heard! Of course you will not grow a lemon tree in your belly!" But, no. She didn't 'think' it would happen, which of course means, you may be growing a lemon tree in your belly.

I lay flat on my bed with my hand on my stomach waiting for some activity. Some movement. Something. The scent of lemons. Something.
Weeks went by and there were no indications of any foliage growing in my stomach. But for months, any stomach ache was clearly from the lemon tree.
The rest of the second grade I avoided the girl that informed me of the lemon tree in my belly. I felt she knew something the others didn't. Some sort of Voo Doo. Any interaction with her would only bring bad news.
By the third grade I began to believe I had food poisoning from dented cans. And off I went from there. Fear of flying. Fear of driving. Fear of all sorts of things. But it all started with the lemon tree.

My favorite drink in the world is the Lemon Lime Slush from Sonic. I drink one everyday and most days I swallow a few seeds. I feel no fear. I only enjoy the deliciousness of my beautiful drink. Until it dawns on me that one of the workers could be disgruntled and may have put poison in my slush. Or my car could suddenly ignite in to flames. Or I could be car jacked. I'm having chest pains. Great. This is just great.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Funniest Mom... from my book Everything I Never Wanted To Be...

There is actually a reason I picked this song. When Carly was very small she would take me in to art stores and tell me about Vincent Van Gogh. I grew up in a trailer eating spam.... so I wondered.... who is this kid? She's my girl...

I was doing the Funniest Mom in America at the Laugh Factory in LA. So they announce my name. I get this burst of energy and run up on the stage like I normally do. I grab the mike, and… nothing. I stand there, staring at the audience and the audience is staring back. You could hear a pin drop. The longer I stare, the longer they stare. Finally, some young girl in the front row screams, “Booo! Get her off!” I’ve been doing this for eighteen years! What the hell is going on! Nothing! I said nothing! I see my daughter Jennifer in the back of the room half standing like she may jump on the horrible screaming woman.
It seemed like seven hours later, a joke came out of my mouth and I got rolling a little bit, but the damage was done. I was officially not the Funniest Mom in America.
My daughter Carly has been in and out of drug treatment facilities since she was thirteen. Every time she goes away somewhere I have a routine. I go through her room and search for anything drug related or search for drugs that she may have left behind. We have a laugh these days because Carly says, “So. You’re looking for drugs I’ve left behind? I’m a drug addict, mother. We don’t leave drugs behind, especially if we’re going into treatment. We do all the drugs. We don’t save drugs back for later. If I have drugs, I do them. All of them. If I had my way we would stop for more drugs on the way and I would do them in the parking lot of the treatment center.”
I’m fumbling around going through her things piece be piece. I look in books, shoes, jacket pockets, DVD cases, I look in holes in stuffed animals. I see a box in the top corner of her closet. I open the box and see piles of papers.
I shuffle through them and see cute little cards, letters from friends, funny little notes from her old life. ‘Dear Justin. Do you like me? I like you. If you don’t like me it’s okay. But I will not be your friend.’ Ribbons, stickers and glitter line the bottom of the box.
Then I find this. This list of what Carly feels about herself. I read and my heart begins to beat really fast. Towards the end of the list I have to blink to allow my tears to roll down my face because I can’t see.
The last few years I had thought it was a stage. Just something she was going through. It was a nightmare that I was going to wake up from and It wasn’t as bad as I thought. Now I sat there, still staring at these pieces of paper and for whatever reason I couldn’t move my eyes away. I sat still looking right through the page.
I was holding in my hand the truth. There are a million ways to get to the truth. The shittest way to find the truth is to stumble upon it accidentally while sparkly glitter falls all over your lap.

Carly simply could not stay clean. She would use meth to get off heroin and then use heroin to get off meth. Of the three times she was in intensive care one of those times was a suicide attempt. She came to me and told me she couldn’t live the rest of her life as a drug addict and she was going to kill herself. I didn‘t know that shortly before she told me this that she had already taken every different kind of drug she could get her hands on. Heroin, Xanax, Oxycontin, Fentanyl. Anything and everything. She had a variety of drugs in the house and had taken everything.
I have become so desensitized to drug use that I would feel so much better if I thought Carly was high all day and having the time of her life. The fact that her drug use made her so sad that she didn’t want to be alive anymore breaks me in half.
I get her to the emergency room, she tries to tell them what she has taken but she can hardly speak. They immediately admit her. They had a nurse sit by her bed twenty four hours a day in case she went into cardiac arrest. Three days into her stay she began having seizures. It was a horrible thing to watch. I asked when the seizures would stop and the doctor said they may stop, they may not. It depended on what level of damage she had done to her brain. She would be fine and then her head would fall all the way back as if her neck would break and her eyes would flicker. She couldn’t talk. This happened every half hour or so.
I slept in the hospital in a chair next to her bed. Late one night she woke up and I looked at her. She looked like a little girl. A pretty, pretty little girl. I could see her face and striking green eyes in the dark room from the light coming from the lap top the nurse sitting next to her bed was using.
She was slurring but told me, “I wish I was like other girls. The girls that go to the mall. Or to the movies. They’re all bright shiny stars. And I’m like this. I don‘t have a best friend. I don‘t have any friends.” She rolled over with her back facing me and began to fall asleep and mumbled, “They’re all bright shiny stars.” I could feel my heart break into a billion pieces.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, in a land, far, far away, Phoenix Arizona, there was a family...
Mom sat on the couch and drank beer while dad smoked marijuana and they raised three beautiful daughters. The two oldest girls grew to be teens and in an odd twist of fate, they began to drink beer and smoke marijuana. The little one didn't, because, she was little. So, mom had a Oprah light bulb moment and stopped drinking beer. Then dad had a light bulb thing that he claims has nothing to do with Oprah, and quit smoking marijuana. But the children were not interested in not drinking beer and smoking marijuana, so they continued until the little one began drinking beer and smoking marijuana. So as the mom and dad are having these light bulb moments, all the children are drinking beer and smoking marijuana. The older one was not satisfied with the beer or marijuana so she began to use crack and heroin because it's more bang for your buck. Then the older one got the light bulb, and she quit taking everything including aspirin. Then the little got bored very early on and she began using meth and heroin at the age of fifteen. The mom had quit, the dad had quit and the oldest had quit. But the little one and the middle one are still having the time of their life. Then, the little one quit. But the oldest one started back up. The middle one quit and then the little one started. The little one quit again and then the mom started. At this point, even the dog was on probation. Then the dad started, but then the mom and dad quit. The oldest stopped, then started, then stopped then started and eventually everyone in the house had a warrant and the shit was hitting the fan on a regular basis. The mom's old, sick mother came to live with them and the middle one has a son with Cerebral Palsy and the two of them watch as people quit and then don't quit. The family lied to the grandmother and told her that all the activity was just one of her hallucinations and she believed them.
This is a story about a family, in a land far, far away, Phoenix Arizona, that at some point the people have quit and not quit every substance known to man. And will they ever all quit at the same time? Everyday is different, isn't it? Stranger things have happened.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mother of the year... me.

I don't think a person can be all good or all bad. That also applies to parenting. Moms and dads can not be amazing parents every single day. There are people like me, who have made huge mistakes. Gigantic, horrible mistakes. When you have lived the way I have, or did, it's a very heavy weight to carry. The knowledge that if you had done better, your children, the people you love the most, would be emotionally better. Their lives would be better. They would be happier.
But I can't LIVE in that. The other side of the coin is, I've done some good things as a mom as well. There has been times that I have really 'wowed' the girls with my motherly skills.
What I'm trying to say is this. To quote Oprah, "When you know better, you do better." I hope my girls know better....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Enjoy The Veal

There is so many misconceptions about drug and alcohol addiction. I have heard since I was four that addicts use various chemicals to 'numb' the pain or take away their problems. There is nothing 'numbing' about getting high or drunk. It's actually quite the opposite.
Here's the scenario. You don't have a job. You don't have any money. Your wife has left you and taken your kids. You have a warrant because you couldn't afford to pay a traffic ticket and you can only find one of your shoes. You drink, or take a pain killer or smoke heroin and this is only possible because you have friends that will 'take care of you'.
Ten minutes later. I love the world. I can see my wife and my kids in my head and they are so beautiful. I don't have any money but it's okay because I'm not hungry anyway. I feel great. I am attractive, intelligent, I can lift heavy things and I can do math. Look how beautiful that highway over pass is. My shoe is awesome.
You aren't 'numbing' your feelings. Your feelings look completely manageable while you are high. Everything is not only okay, it's fantastic! You are suddenly alive with amazing, beautiful feelings and you are thrilled to be a part of the human race. It's extremely stimulating, not numbing.
Here's another idea that is completely wrong. Addicts are the people you see walking down the street mumbling obscenities. Actually, addicts are your wife. Your kid. Your brother. Most addicts can completely function in day to day life in such a way that not one single person would suspect they are high. And they can maintain this for a long period of time. Sometimes years.
When you go in to a restaurant, a pretty young girl shows you to your table. Then a perky waiter comes to your table filled with energy and explains the specials. Then there's the guy that fills your water and tea and the chef that is preparing your food. And finally, there is your date, that you are sitting across from, staring them right in the eye. There is a solid chance that at least half of these people are in some way altered. Yet, they hold a completely intelligent conversation, they are efficient while doing their job, and they all smell terrific. Does this mean that most people in across the country are drug addicts or alcoholics? No. But it does mean, if you change the chemicals in your brain too many days in a row, you are well on your way to walking down the street mumbling obscenities. Because NO ONE maintains forever.
Twelve step programs work. When an addict or alcoholic is struggling to stay clean, a twelve step program can be the connection to others that will help them stay on the path of sobriety. It could be the thing that saves their life. But if you are addicted to alcohol or drugs to a level that you need to be in a facility to get additional medical treatment or emotional help to begin to recover past detox, that is a whole different thing.
"All you need to do is ask for help." This is the biggest lie ever told as far as recovery and treatment and it continues to be told.
We live in the greatest country in the world. We are the 'elite'. But in regard to drug and alcohol treatment, we act like wealthy families that have a drug addict son that they are ashamed of so they put him 'away' somewhere so people don't find out that something has gone terribly wrong. Because he brings the family shame. So he's put somewhere where he can't humiliate the family and tarnish their reputation.
That has become the American way. 'These people', the drug addicts and alcoholics, we can't say there is a problem because we are America. Do something with these people. Put them in a room somewhere and lock the door and punish them so that we can continue to present ourselves as the 'elite'. We are the rich family that will do anything to avoid addressing the actual problem because it would cost money.
If you are fortunate enough to be a part of the 'elite' and you come from a family with a mound of cash, yes, you can get help. Every door in every treatment facility from LA to New York will be thrown open for you and they may have a parade in your honor because you 'asked for help'. But if you are poor, you can NOT get help. You will at some point go to prison or die because you are poor. When the commercials come on the television with photos of a beautiful treatment facility that is urging you to call them with that concerned supportive voice, if you are poor, they are not talking to you. They are talking to people who have a boat load of money and that is not you. You are not going to treatment at the facility on the ocean. You are not going to treatment at the facility in woods with horses and streams. There will be no parade. You are going to prison, or you are going to die. Twelve step programs work and if you really want to be clean, that is your absolute best bet. But don't think even for one second that a treatment facility is going to open the door to you. It will never happen. The playing field is not level and it never will be. Poor people are not valued in our society so if you die on the street of a drug overdose, eventually a city truck will come by and scrape you off the pavement as if the world never needed you in the first place.
So, for the people all over our country that ask themselves, 'Why don't they just get help'. That's why. Because there is no help. There is no help. I could write that forever and I don't think people would ever really believe me because they saw the commercial. The 'come and get help on the ocean' commercial? The only thing a poor drug addict is going to get on the ocean is more drugs. Enjoy the veal.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I'm a filthy, criminal, leper.

My husband had a heart attack almost a year ago. So he quit smoking and began to eat lettuce and sticks. I am completely supportive of this change because I want to keep my husband, so, okay. I, on the other hand, could not be more unhealthy. I smoke. Shut. Your. Filthy. Mouth. Was my husbands heart attack not enough to make me stop? Apparently not. My father died of cancer. Still, not enough to make me stop.
So my husband has completely changed his lifestyle. I have not. I start my day the exact same way each morning. One piece of toast and a half a cup of orange juice. The only function that the toast and OJ serve is to line my stomach for the impending carnage. Two cups of coffee, followed by two Excedrin, followed by a medium Red Bull, followed by, a twelve pack of Coke throughout the day. For lunch, a piece of cheese and two more Excedrin with a Coke. Dinner, three spoons of rice and a croissant with a Coke. At bedtime, a Snickers bar washed down with a Coke. Right before I go get in my bed, I stand in the backyard and smoke a cigarette like a filthy, criminal, leper. There you have it. The day is done and I feel great.

So John gets approval from the heart doctor to workout so he joined a gym. He has a trainer. A person he gave money to in exchange for torture. Hey, give me the money. I've been torturing you for years for free.
So I'm standing outside, where I spend a better part of my day, smoking and eating a Snickers bar. I take a bite of my chocolate treat, a drink of Coke, a drag from my cigarette. John walks out in his 'workout clothes', eating a carrot. I am wearing 15 year old jeans and a Corona t-shirt. I look like a crack whore after a big weekend. He says, "Hey! On Valentines Day my trainer is having a bring your sweetie workout class! What do you think?! Great, right?" I look at him and take a drag of my cigarette and then I look behind me hoping he is talking to someone else. Not that I'm not going to be his 'sweetie' on Valentines Day, but are you really asking me to go to the gym? On Valentines Day? You know where else they're having a bring your sweetie party? Macy's.

How do you tell your husband that you don't want to go to the gym because they don't allow you to smoke in there? How do you say, for me it's smooth sailing physically? Now if the mental health community threw a bring your sweetie party, I would sign up. I've got to get out of this. He says if I loved him I would go to the gym for the lover class. I said, if you loved me, you wouldn't make me prove I love you by going to the lover class.

I miss the good old days. My youngest daughter has her birthday on Valentines Day. So somewhere in the day, I would bring my daughter in, stand her in front of him, point at her and say, "Happy Valentines Day." I mean, I gave him a human. How can you top that? A sweetie workout party at the gym? Have you completely lost your mind? I love my husband and I know he wants me to be healthy. But I'm afraid I'm like an old car. If you start to screw with things, it'll break down. I'm fine. I consume so much caffeine and cigarettes in a day that it is probably a felony. I like the way I live.

I have an idea for a sweetie party and it ain't at the gym my hot little friend. That's right! Potties heah!!!! (Pookie, Jersey Shore) Now THAT's a Valentines Day party. Me, you and an ice cold Coke.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guess how wide a Jetta is?

Last night it took me about a half a hour longer to get to the Tempe Improv because every single road anywhere near the club was closed, including the freeway. I raged and eventually got there.
I'm leaving, after the second show and it's almost midnight. On an typical night, I'm in bed by ten. When I have a comedy job and there is two shows I am up much later which can be a struggle stay alert, but I make it and begin my 45 minute drive home.
The construction was overwhelming. Cones and wooden barricades and orange flashing lights everywhere. I see an arrow, move to this lane, another arrow, not that lane, that lane is closed, another arrow, hey come over here, just fucking with you, this lane is also closed. I have to get on the freeway and there is blinking orange activity there as well. BUT, there are two cones by the on ramp separated just the exact size of, well, a car. They were separated the exact distance as the size of a Jetta, my car.

So, I enter the ramp and I finally feel calm because I am away from all the construction. I am apparently smarter than the other drivers. I enter the freeway and it dawns on me that the freeway seems to be really quiet which is odd because it's midnight on a Saturday. Then I notice another interesting thing. It is not only very quiet on the freeway, I am actually the only person on the freeway. I look in my rear view mirror, I'm looking out the windows, just darkness, and, me. Now the panic attack begins. I am driving on a closed freeway. I'm thinking, "What about the cones? They were spaced just enough for a Jetta?" The cones deceived me. Cones lie all the time. You know how you can tell if a cone is lying? Their lips are moving.
Okay, so, I am going to prison, this is what I'm thinking. But I'm still driving because there is no way off, no other ramps, there is no way out. I look up ahead and I see there is a wooden barricade lit up with orange flashing lights ahead and it is heavily spread all the way across every lane of the freeway. So I slow down, slow down more, until I am stopped, on the freeway with my lights on the barricade, alone. Because, of the spacing of the cones.
I am now in full hyperventilation mode. I think, quickly Dina! Turn the car around and speed back to the ramp where the whole thing started. But then I would be going the wrong way on the closed freeway. I would be illegal, on top of illegal. Is it more illegal to drive backwards or drive the wrong way? I don't know. Which story do you want to tell the judge? So I immediately put the car in reverse and drive backwards for several miles. I'm doing everything in my power to drive cautiously as to not attract attention and yes, I'm driving backwards but, I'm doing a good job. I think I may get time off my sentence if I could say, "I was driving very careful and I was staying in the lines and I understand that I was driving backwards but my car was actually facing the correct direction." You know, maybe they would be more supportive of me in court.

I get to the ramp and back my way down, get to the cones and very carefully back through the little fuckers, I back my way out. And then I began to drive the way the other cars were going, hundreds of cars, which by coincidence, were all going the same way, a completely different direction than I had previously gone. I was apparently the only one that was sucked into the cones, screaming 'Come this way! These people are stupid! You are the smart one! And your car is the perfect size!'
After I was with the others, I began to laugh so hard tears were falling down my face. I called anyone that I thought would be awake. I did not get anyone on the phone. I laughed the entire way home.

The moral of the story is this. They say, 'trust your gut'. I say, 'Do NOT trust your gut.' AND do not trust the cones that a guy in a city truck threw out his window at the entrance of the closed freeway because he is in a hurry to go to go see Avatar. How far apart were the cones? The exact size of a Jetta. My car.

Friday, January 29, 2010


So my grandson was in the hospital for a few days getting some tests done. Moses is eleven and he can't speak. He has seizures. They were testing for a particular kind of seizure activity that if he had, he could take medication that may help him be able to talk. So his mom and the rest of the people that are madly in love with Moses, we had a flash of hope that possibly he would speak at some point and his life would be easier. So he spent two days with about fifty 'Leeds' glued to his head to monitor his brain activity. The doctor comes in yesterday morning and says that Moses does not have the seizure disorder that they thought he may have. But he also says, he understood that we had hoped he could eventually talk, but we did not want him to have this disorder. He said it would involve a whole other pile of problems that would make Moses's life very difficult. That he might have been able to take the medication and speak, but the seizures would become horrific as he grows and it would cause him to be very sick a lot of the time. The Dr said that the seizures he would begin to have would be intense and often and could cause additional brain damage. So he would be able to talk, but his quality of life would not be good. Okay. We feel so, so relieved that he does not have this problem. But as the day rolls by, we are again faced with the fact, Moses may never speak. It's upsetting. Because we really did have that bit of hope. Then I guess we quickly accepted that this is what it is, and Moses is perfectly fine exactly the way he is. He is perfection. And after hearing of the complications of this disorder, we are so thankful that he doesn't have it. Don't misunderstand and don't feel sorry for him. This kid can communicate just fine. We are all learning sign language and Moses is very good at it. He is a very typical nine year old. When you are getting on his nerve, he points, as if he's saying, 'Walk away from here, just go, you're bothering me.' Or he'll put his finger up to his mouth and tell you to be quiet. If he doesn't want to do something he will shake his head no and if you insist the thing has to happen, he will run to his room and slam the door. When you open the door he will look at you, shake his head no, and point for you to leave. On the other hand he is the most loving, sweet, kind little boy that I have ever seen. Moses is the center of our family. Every decision we make is based on Moses. So, now we're home and he is home and we are back to our normal life whatever that is. He is seriously the best little boy in the universe. We are so, so lucky.

Monday, January 25, 2010

You are REALLY getting on my nerve

Okay, I'm one post behind so I must write this one to keep my New Years resolution. What do I write about when I can't think of anything to write about. What happens in this situation is I am left with whatever is on my mind. In other words... my feelings. Jesus, Christ, help us all.
I have three daughters. My oldest Jennifer has grown out of her 'my mother gets on my last nerve' stage. Thank god. My other two, have not. So it doesn't matter what I say, I will drive one of them to the brink.

Is it me? Is it the tone of my voice or the pitch of my voice or the words that I'm saying? Is it my outfit? Is it the weather? What is the problem?
This is how I look at it. When mommy had to bail you out of jail, I drove down to the pissed stained tank and took you away from there, buttercup. I have pulled one of you out of a crack den at the risk of being shot, but my pumpkin was in there so a mommy does what she has to do. Never mind that your dog is shitting all over my house and eating all my furniture. And you know, you snuck a cat in the house without my knowledge, hid it from me and because I'm allergic to cats, I spent weeks thinking I had a brain tumor because my eyes were swollen shut. "What's wrong with me? Why are my eyes swollen shut?"
"I don't know mom. Maybe you should go... outside."

I'm not going to worry about the fact that I say good morning and you grunt. I'm not going to worry about the fact that I say any words and your response is, "Mom! Stop!" When I actually don't even know what I said right then. Remembering back, I think it was something really antagonistic like, "How's it going?" I am actually beginning to flinch when you are in the room. My beautiful angels, now possessed by something scary. I say, "I love you sweetie." This is always met with something to the effect of, "God, Mom! I know already!" Is it that I said 'sweetie'?
And sometimes, I don't even have to say anything. Sometimes, it's simply me breathing, in and out, that hurls them over the edge. They way I'm sitting on the couch. The way I walk. The way I laugh. The way I drink out of a cup.

Just now I had to dress and put my mother to bed. Every single thing she does drives me over the fucking edge of the universe. She says, "It's cold in here." And I'm thinking, is that your last complaint for the day. Good god I hope so.
And now I think, oh my god. I will always grate up their spine. One day they will be tucking me in to bed thinking please don't use anymore random words today. I can not answer one more crazy question. Go. To. Sleep.

From now on, I will only call them by their first names. No, sweet pet names. I'm going to cut back on the words like, "Your hair looks great." Or, "I love those jeans." You know, all the fight starters. We need to communicate without speaking. Just nod here and there until they grow out of the 'my mother drives me crazy' stage. I know they love me, it's not about love. It's about me, opening my mouth for any reason to say anything at any point. Love has nothing to do with it. And by the way, you kids are not getting on my final nerve at all. Living with you is like living at Disneyland. I'm having the time of my life. Fucking kids.
(I'm caught up now... na-na-na-na)

The queen of dogs

The way I grew up, there were animals everywhere. Dogs, cats, cows, pigs. On beds, under beds, outside, inside, animals EVERYWHERE.
So when I became a grown up, I did not want any animals. To be honest, I'm not a fan. But when you have kids, you have to have animals so the kids don't grow up and shoot up a mall and say it was because you didn't let them have a dog. Okay, so, here, have this dog.
We got our dog 'Squirt' about 13 years ago from the pound. She was malnourished and there was no question that whoever had her last was beating on her because she would cower when you walked by her.

Squirt would also never go to the potty in the house. I think it was some sort of fear. And I don't mean like a normal potty trained dog, I mean if we weren't home to let her out, she would not pee on the floor. We would feel so horrible if we got caught up somewhere and got home and she would be there, waiting, to go out. I would try to talk to her like she is a human and say, "Squirt. If we don't get home in time, go potty in the house. It's okay." To this day, she has NEVER gone potty in the house.

Squirt went to the pound because someone found her wandering around in the desert. After she lived with us for a while, she stopped hiding and cowering and got better and fatter. Squirt went from walking around the dirt in the desert to our house where she sat on the couch that was next to a big window. She would put her arms crossed on the arm of the couch and look out the window as if she was adopted by Oprah.

For Squirt, coming to live with us, and be feed, and kissed (by John and the kids), and played with. I think Squirt felt she had won the lottery. And that spot on the couch? If Squirt felt moved to to look out the window at that moment and you were sitting there, you moved. She is the dog version of Lady Diana. She'd jump up, cross her feminine dog paws and look out the window.
John had a boat and Squirt would go on the boat and sit right where the wind would blow her fancy ears back and I knew she was thinking, "I am the queen of dogs!"
So years and years have gone by. In this last year, Squirt moves very slow. She has been getting very sick. Took her to the vet, 800 dollars, Squirt is very sick. She has a list of things that old dogs get. Took her back to the vet. 400 dollars. She is still sick and she is not getting better.

So here I am, not a fan. Not an animal person. BUT... it's Squirt. She's not really a dog. She's sort of this tiny, midget human covered with hair. She is OUR tiny midget person.
I don't know. I know she is getting sicker and it feels like confusion. The concept that Squirt, the queen of dogs, would ever not be walking around the house hurts my heart. Because like I said, she's not a dog. She's, a girl. She has a really pretty pink collar. She also has pretty purple barrettes which she doesn't wear because I think it hurts to have to wear barrettes.

So I'm thinking the new medicine will help. I'm thinking she will get better. Because if you took a photo of our family, Squirt would be in it. Looking just like the queen of dogs. Or, a midget covered with hair.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Funny people...

I have had the privilege over the past twenty years of being a comic and watching the funniest comedians in the world. I mean, seriously, the funniest people in the entire world.
I have worked with and laughed with at least a thousand stand up comedians. People that are amazing on stage, but off stage even more amazing. I have spent countless hours sitting around back rooms of comedy clubs talking about traumatic circumstances that have brought these people to a place where the only way their life makes sense is to make others laugh. I have also huddled in corners with other comics and laughed so hard, I have actually wet my pants. Yes, I did. People that are so naturally funny that everything they say either makes you smile, or laugh so hard the club manager tells you to keep it down.

I have not only had a life filled with laughter, I have sought out laughter. You get on the plane, or in the car, or get on your feet, and you go where you know funny people are going to be.
I have seen comics that are so good at what they do that I can't even laugh. I watch, and think, "Wow. I suck."
I have also seen some bad comedy. I mean... bad. Comedy that is so bad you actually feel sick for the person on stage. You feel uncomfortable and if you have a heart at all, you can't even watch.
In the middle of the comics that are brilliant and the comics that shouldn't ever tell a joke, even at a BBQ, there is a beautiful, fascinating process that helps a comic evolve possibly into a genius, but most likely, they become a really great comedian.

They pace the back of the club looking down every now and then at their notes. They mumble to themselves, walking, back and forth. Every other comic in the universe has done it and we all know, leave that guy alone. They know they are almost up so they take a quick glance at the page and up they go. It's going to happen or it's not. They get off stage and take another look at their notes and access what's going to happen with this bit or that bit. As they do this other comics may say, "When you do that one thing, you should try this, or that." Then they have to think about that and if the idea can save the bit, or if it's going to get shoved back in the notebook because most of the time you're thinking something about this is funny but I don't know what. They're dead jokes, but, one little line can bring them back. For me most of them stay dead because of the fear that if I got the same response twice, which is silence, I will have to double my anti depressant. I have found most comics are like that. You can go up and completely tear the walls down, but that one little line doesn't get a laugh? You suck.
Another thing that's common with comics is that you can make every single person in the room laugh so hard their white wine is spraying out of their nose, but that one fucking guy that WILL NOT even smile is the ONLY person you can see.

You come off stage and people say, 'great set', and all you can think is, 'Please. It was not a great set. Did you see that guy?' Now people are saying great set and you know they are clearly lying because if I was really funny that fucker would've laughed. Why am I even a comic? Then you watch the guy and he gives the same dead look to every one that goes up, but that doesn't matter. And you know where the I don't think you're funny guy ALWAYS sits? The front row, glaring you down with those beady, angry eyes.

Sometimes people like this will actually show you how unimpressed they are by you that as your speaking they read menus or literature that is on the table. The only way to handle this is to tell the comics that are going up after you so they can address them during their set, and by the way 'hacky' lines are fine in this situation. Something like, "Hey, man. You're at a comedy show. Tell your face."

For twenty years it has been an honor to work with some of the greatest comics from all across the country. But it has also been an honor to work with really funny people just beginning their journey in to the art of stand up comedy. It's great to see a veteran comic go up and completely rip the room apart. But it is also so cool to see a brand new comic nervously tell a joke, and it works. You can see the almost surprised look in their face while they are still standing under the lights.

And that one laugh begins a life of getting on the plane, getting in the car, and walking to find where the laughs are. Good times.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Raising Children

We were raised by sheep. But back in those days, everyone was raised by sheep.
The parents that raised me and everyone else I knew didn't have Dr. Phil ideals.
They way kids were 'raised' was a simple thing. You feed them, they got bigger and then one day, they're all raised.
Little Tommy is too active? Have him go shovel horse shit. Cute little Mandy has a low self esteem? Who cares. We all do.
We rode in the back of trucks, on the highway, often switching seating positions as the truck moved at sixty miles an hour down the freeway. If you were bored, you could always throw a rock at someone. We played tackle football on the dirt road and we never even considered stopping the game when someone was injured. If some bloody kid was limping off, we would try to make them feel better by yelling, "You're the biggest baby! You aren't even hurt! Go cry to mom you baby! You're like a girl!"
The girl comment only worked on boys.

We didn't have drug or alcohol rehabs. Our parents did it the hard way. They had to keep drinking. It was common to walk down the dirt road at night and see an old man sitting in his backyard by a fire he made out of a wooden chair singing, "To all the girls I've loved, before..."
We lived on a plot of land with four other families. All the families had kids that were our age so it was a giant bunch of aimless youth, all hyperactive with low self esteem. It was a religious community called 'Cristo Rey'. We all parked our trailers, or mobile homes on the land and the adults lived a Godly life while us kids, ran around the dirt streets like a wild pack of wolves.
The absolute center of our little world was, the ditch. Every single thing we did in our day involved, the ditch. Meeting a friend, walking on the ditch, throwing things in the ditch. Trying to fish something out of the ditch. And of course, the popular, pushing someone in the ditch.

We would have family from other places come visit and the adults would say, "I hope those kids aren't by that ditch." The real question was, "If the kids aren't by the ditch, where in the world would they be?"
Let me explain the ditch for those of you who have lived a charmed life. The water in the ditch was muddy and stinky. It reeked. Some areas of the ditch rushed with water and other areas stood still with a layer of toxic film. The ditch was taken over by bugs, mosquitoes, lizards, snakes, spiders, anything that could bite you lived in or by the ditch. This didn't bother us one bit. If you went to bed at night and you hadn't been bitten at least twice during the day, you hadn't lived a full day.

There were things about living in this time that makes you sad for today. For example, we were small kids, but we could walk the roads for ten hours a day and never worry about 'stranger danger'. We would leave in the morning and explore the world, via the ditch, until sundown. Then we'd walk in the trailer filthy, stinking and starving.
Me and my best friends Jeanette and Patricia would meet halfway on the ditch. It was easily five miles to their house but that's how you got somewhere if you planned on going somewhere. You walked the ditch. We met each other about ten times a week. Overweight kids were almost unheard of in those days.
The ditch had enough space for a car to drive down it but it was tight. You'd be real careful or you'd end up with a truck upside down in the slimy water. The number of times I remember seeing a giant tow truck pulling someones truck out of the ditch is too high to count.

There were secret places in various locations on the ditch path. Hiding places. Who were we hiding from? Army soldiers. Vampires. The ditch witch. The ditch witch came out to the ditch at night while we slept but during the day we could look for her foot prints or look for the children she had murdered, although we never knew of an actual child that had been murdered. Yet.
I remember so clear the feeling, walking to meet my BFF's. Perfect weather, no fear, walking alone, singing something. We had nothing as far as things you buy with money. But I don't know of any group of wild kids that had more fun than we did. There was no limit to our adventures. Everyday we had fun, got bit by something and got hurt. We didn't know then that this would be the time of our life. I spend five years with dirt in my hair but we all had dirt in our hair, dirty nails, torn up clothes and shoes. At that time it wasn't about how you looked, or smelled for that matter. It was about playing, being a kid, getting into everything that wasn't nailed down. No boundaries, just fun and an occasional trip to the ER.
These days you can't even allow your child to go in the front yard without your constant supervision. Kids can't stretch out their arms or their imagination. It completely sucks. It's not fair. And I don't care if they have cool things like Ipod's or the Wii. There isn't a better feeling in the world than fishing a lone shoe out of the ditch with a long stick as everyone screams in support. You hook the shoe and lift, very slowly, so slowly. Then, almost falling in, you grab it and the audience cheers as you stand there holding a slimy, toxic gym shoe, smiling like you just won an Emmy. That's a Kodak moment! Too bad, we didn't have a camera.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Heart Books

I was thirty two years old when I read my first actual book. It's not that I couldn't read, I just didn't want to read. I didn't get why people would choose to read a book when there was so much beer around. I don't even remember the name of the book but one day I checked it out in the library.
I got home in the evening and at three in the morning I was still reading. I finished that book the following day and went back to the library and got three more. Three days later, I went back and that's how I began loving books.
I had a book a day habit for a very long time. I was so fascinated that people actually thought these stories up in their minds and how brilliant they must be to be able to do this.
If I begin a book and the book is good, I don't stop reading the book. I will go to the bathroom or make a sandwich but other than that, every book is a one sitting book. That's my process. If I'm going to read a book, I'm going to read the whole book.

The thing that will make me close a book and annoy me is too much 'description'. I think some people would say that, me, as a writer, I don't have nearly enough description. I can't stand it. I do not want to read three paragraphs of you describing a tree trunk. It hurls me over the edge.
Writing in a vivid way is a gift and I don't know if I have this gift or not. I tend to write in a way that I guess is sort of sharp. I mean. Just say the thing. My feeling is, don't fuck around for three pages to get to the point. The point should be aggressive enough that the person reading feels like you've just thrown up on their shoes. Say the thing already. I don't want to 'ease' anyone into the point I'm trying to make. Because, in the end you are saying the same thing. People are going to agree or not and it won't matter how much you've watered it down. In my head this makes sense.

I love books. I love buying new books. I prefer new books to new shoes. I am very weird about my books. You could borrow money from me and I would probably forget about it. But a book? I will be up at night thinking about the fact that, my book is at your house and not on my bookshelf. I don't like lending out my books. People say, but you pass them along so other people can enjoy them. No, no, no. They are my books. Just step away from the bookshelf. I don't even like the kids to borrow my books. I walk in their room and see a Starbucks cup sitting on one of my books and I get dizzy.
I like hardback books. I LOVE hardback books. I love the way books smell. I love looking at the covers of books, and judging.
And the bookstore, I love the bookstore. I wish I was married to the bookstore. You know the beautiful way the bookstore smells? I could stay in there all day. The bookstore plays music that makes you feel warm and safe and calm.
I want my book in the bookstore. I love books. Books make me feel like warm cider on a blistery cold Montana night, as the wind howling through the big, sad, oak tree that is bending as if it's back is broken, almost saying, "I bend, but don't break, in the howling, crisp, heaving, rageful, Penelope Cruz type weather." At least, that's what I hear the tree saying.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Will you be ready at the end of the world?

So I'm a writer. I'm sitting in the office with the door shut writing. I'm 'working'.
I have gotten mom up and dressed and feed. I have given my grandson his seizure medication and breakfast. I have reminded John for the third time to take his heart pills.
Okay, now I can do the thing. Mom strolls in on her walker. She says, "The dog pooped under my bed."

I don't have a dog. The girls have dogs, but they aren't available to clean the shit our of moms room. I remove the poop, gagging, running outside to the can on the curb, gagging, and gagging. I close the lid and lean down with my hands on my knees trying to regain my dignity. I walk back in the house and mom is waiting there to greet me and says, "I'm cold." I turn up her heat.
So, I'm writing. I'm focused. My grandsweet walks in. Poop, running all the way down his legs.

Has your child ever pooped to such a level it would be easier just to get another child? It would be easier to just move? My second run in with poop this morning. I take him in the backyard and hose him down. It's not abuse, we live in Phoenix. It's 75 degrees. Then I put him in a bath. Crisis handled.

I'm back in the office. The door bell rings. I feel completely irritated and walk to the door. I open it and a virginal twenty something is standing there smiling like he just got released from the fucking loony bin. Jesus. It's the Mormon boys. He smiles and says, "Good morning! We were in your neighborhood..." I stop him and say, "Nice of you but not today." He asks if he can leave some literature. I say yes, because that's what I have time for. He hands me the thing and I shut the door. The front reads, "Will you be ready at the end of the world?" I'm thinking, 'Ready for the end of the world? I can't even find my socks.'

I walk back to the office. The phone rings. I answer and the lady says, "I am so and so and I am calling about a debt. Is Dina Kucera in?" I say, "She is... deceased." Complete silence at the other end. I say, "Can you take her off your call list." I hang up.
Mom is ringing her bell. I walk into her room and she says, "I'm hot." I turn her heat down.
It's lunch time so I feed everybody Froot Loops. I go back in the office and I am still in my pajamas. I sit, staring at the little line on the page blink on and off. I have some Hershey kisses for desert. The thing is still blinking and I'm starting to feel like it's mocking me.

I stare aimlessly out the window and I see the dog, shitting on the grass. Now, my third shit experience today. I wonder why dogs don't care about the fact that they are straight out taking a shit right in front of you. They don't care who's watching. They just crouch down, and, there you go. They shit. Number two for those of you who don't have the strength for the word shit. Numbero, dos.
I walk in the kitchen to get a Coke because the kisses made me thirsty and I see John's pill box, where his pills are still in place. I take them out and physically hand them to him and watch him swallow them. By the time I get back to the office, mom is standing there again, "I'm cold." I think in my head, 'You are fucking killing me'. I turn up her heat.
The Froot Loops didn't quite get us to dinner, so I go to the drive through at MacDonald's. I say my order and I say, and a Coke.

He repeats my order and says, "And a diet Coke." I say, "No, a regular coke. Not diet." The guy actually says, "Whatever. Diet, regular." I get up to the window and say, "This is regular Coke?" He says, "Yeah. Or diet. I'm not sure." I taste it, it's diet. I say I want a regular Coke and he says, "So... you want me to... exchange this one, for..." I say, "Call your manager." He says, "I am the shift leader." A half an hour later I drove off with a regular Coke. Whatever.
I get home and I am really planning on making some headway on my writing. Mom has had an accident and I won't go into detail because I won't humiliate my mom even though she'll never read this. But, my day has a theme. I took her in the backyard... okay no I didn't, but that would be funny. I get her back to her chair and she says, "I'm hot." I pretend to turn down the heat but I don't. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me four times, shame on me.
It's night and everyone has gone to bed and I know everyone in the house has had a bowl movement. It's been a successful day in terms of the colon. I write and write like these people aren't in the next room. I'm alone, still in the same pajamas, my music is playing, it's a beautiful thing.
I go to bed and look up at the ceiling and think, "I wonder if I will be ready for the end of the world?" I think I will. I mean, when is it? And what do I have to bring? What do you do to 'get ready'.

I guess as long as I shower each morning that will at least give me a head start when they sound the bullhorn. Which leads me to another question. Are they going to sound a bullhorn?