my life

My day:

Wake up ridiculously early with body burning as hot as a star, but without the covers, am suddenly way too cold. Try to fall back asleep while achieving some sort of compromise and without lapsing into surprisingly frightening werewolf dream.

 Wake up again less ridiculously early but close enough not to be restful, decide to finish pizza from last night and watch the final three episodes of Freaks and Geeks.

Be moved waaaaaay too much by the final scene between main character Lindsay and her dumb-but-sweet ex-boyfriend Nick who’s spent most of the series trying to win her back. He’s got a new gf and she realizes how much happier he seems with new girl (Lizzy Caplan from Cloverfield), which he admits in a great knife-twisty way, but then she turns and his face crumbles–he was lying! He wants Lindsay back and is still broken-hearted over her! Lindsay, walking away, not seeing this, does a similar face-crumpling; Nick (my crush, Jason Segel) watches her walk away in slow motion. Knowing that it’s the final episode of the one-season-then-canceled series and where I am right now in life, I almost cannot take it: my heart feels as if it is being shredded as they show Nick’s face aching under the bowling alley colored disco lights.

Go to work to add some finishing touches to enormous and unwieldy comic book project, am surprisingly inspired to whip up a great closer to the guide. Feel great sense of accomplishment, validation of talent and general editorial rock star-itude.

Attempt to wrangle some PDFs down to a more manageable size for an e-mail project and fail miserably.

Call snarky friend C., whom I have seen in forever and make a lunch/dinner plan with him. On way to his house, am driving south on Highland and stuck at the Hollywood/Highland traffic light. Someone dressed as Jason Voorhees, holding a machete (plastic, I hope), runs across the street towards the Chinese Theater. No one bats an eye. Sometimes I feel very happy to live in LA.

Show up at C.’s apartment while he’s in the shower and have to wait outside the gate in the chilly air with only a short-sleeved shirt on. Banana trees out front have bunches of green fruit and really cool, hanging-bell/lamp-like “flowers.”

After letting me in, C. primps (I am so jealous of his full head of hair) and I watch the show he has on: Visions Of Ireland, a travel program that’s just beautiful shots of countryside: porn for the wanderlusty. Dream of running off to Ireland ruined by perky PBS (yet a different name for it though) hosts coming on and begging for money.

Lunch/dinner at Jerry’s Deli (C.’s pick, not mine) is typically horrible. Except for The Era Of The Yummy, I have never really ordered anything there I love. Love the Beverly Center-adjacent location the best though (hate Studio City, for example) and C. is his usual grumpy, hate-the-world self. I can appreciate him for the prickly pear he is though, and am suddenly struck by the thought of how long I’ve known him: more than two years. We talk about things we did back when we first knew each other and it seems like a lifetime ago. Feel very old and slow compared to the mad rush of time.

On way home, get text from M. at work, asking me if I’m going to the IN Los Angeles party for a mutual friend. Wasn’t going to but am game, so rush home to try and de-limp hair (failure) and pull myself together handsomely (failure). While driving all the way back to the part of time I just left, my friend B. from Kentucky calls to discuss the random Myrtle Beach vacation I pitched in a frenzy over the weekend. As usual, he talks my ear off and I have to step on his conversation to keep him on target. Verdict: he’ll see if he can round up some of our Kentucky friends to go.

Make it to La Cienega and park, thinking event is Beverly Center-adjacent. Instead, is five million miles away, and get a long walk in. Show up and see M. and his boyfriend, who are so sweet and excited to see me that I feel guilty somewhat. Do the rounds and see tons of people from work and work-related events, talk to the guest of honor and hear some really nice things from him. He looks great–he had liposuction even though he didn’t need it, and he’s looking really svelte and chiseled-face-handsome. I, on the other hand, feel fat and overly warm and flat-haired and duck out as soon as I can, walking the continent back to my car.

An episode of Deal Or No Deal my sister and I attended as audience members is on tonight, and I call my family to see if they spotted us on there. They taped it for me and apparently we are featured three or four times but none of our over-the-top “NO DEAL!!!!!” reaction shots. Sister and mother begin squabbling and suddenly I miss home so much it hurts. I wish I were laying on the carpet in their den watching the show with the dogs and my parents and sister and her fiance so bad that I almost start to cry. Instead, I drive up Sunset and maneuver through Laurel Canyon, part of me realizing how strange it is that I am familiar with Los Angeles geography, that I have no fear at all driving anywhere.

On way home stop at Ralph’s and get some cinnamon dulce de leche ice cream. Recently my craving for sweet things has been out of control and I find myself wanting to eat junk food at all hours, even when I’m not really hungry. Wonder what that’s all about and realize it’s simple: I’m depressed. The body reveals what the heart has hidden.

Come home and can’t believe it’s only 7:30. It feels like weeks have passed since I woke up. Do not want to think about elephant in room or include it in blog entry, so leave that part out.

Sit down in little car, buckle myself in, and wait for the roller coaster to start up the hill of another week all over again.

There we were that warm Sunday night, 16 of us, remedial students in the college of love; in danger of dropping out or failing.

We’d come for help to Babeland, a classy sex toy boutique on Melrose, where a love letter writing workshop promise to recharge our dying romantic batteries.

Nervously, we shuffled around a platter of vegetables and sipped Yellowtail champagne out of plastic cups; we asked shyly if a seat were taken. We sat in plastic chairs around tables; we pretended not to stare at the large collection of riding crops and whips hanging on one wall.

“I want to write with that pen,” I whispered to my friend Z, pointing to what looked like a loooooong black writing utensil with a fluffy, purple plume on one end. It would be the perfect thing to pen a love letter, and I had visions of using it at work, too.

“That’s not a pen,” he whispered back. “It’s a French tickler.”

We weren’t in Kansas anymore.

Our teacher swept in, setting her iced chai down on a shelf next to some fuzzy handcuffs, and adjusting her tight green top. Her mighty cleavage strained to burst out; it added to the air of mystery, of anticipation surrounding her.

“My name is Midori,” she said, and we all sat there, taking her in: the artful blonde streaks in her brown hair, the thigh-high black vinyl lace-up boots, the sexy librarian glasses. “Artist. Author. Sex educator.”

“Feeling desired is the number one aphrodisiac,” she continued, adjusting her glasses like a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. “What does it take to feel desired?”

No one raised their hand, and Midori looked at us sympathetically: truly, we needed help.

She held up a piece of paper, and drew a line down the middle. She instructed us to title one half “Terms Of Endearment” and the other “What You Adore About Your Lover.” As we set to work, she walked among us, sharing thoughts and tossing out suggestions.

“Write everything, from the twin spectrums of fuzzy, puppy love to wild, weird, gonzo sex,” she said. “Use words that are true and authentic to you.”

I struggled to come up with a list of pet names I’ve said, both in seriousness and jest: duckling, babe, sugar, parakeet tail.

“My tentacled love monster!” Midori trilled, moving her hands around as if she could manipulate the energy in the room—and it was as if she could. “I am a fan of anime, so this is a major term of endearment.”

I looked at the other half of my paper. It was surprisingly difficult to think of a list of traits I loved in my boyfriend, even though I’m sure I knew one or two.

“If you’ve been with a partner for a long time,” she said, as if reading my mind (and perhaps she could!), “think back to the first six weeks when things were hot and heavy. You know, when you two couldn’t pass a dark alley without disappearing into it.”

She paused, and gave a worldly little chuckle.

“Been there, right?”

We all sighed in agreement—yes, at one time, we had eagerly enrolled in romance, knowing just what we were doing.

As we scribbled eagerly, she gave us more headers, more suggestions and tips on how to link them all. When we’d all filled two full pages, Midori took a sip of her tea and started suggesting creative methods of delivery.

“There’s origami. Why not turn your love note into a jigsaw puzzle? You could mail each piece separately,” she said, and we struggled to keep up with her flow as we took notes. “Get a fancy French lemonade bottle, wrap your note in ribbon, toss in some confetti. Sneak little notes into their briefcases, their pockets, their purses. Make a little flip book animation of hearts. Slip a fake page into their favorite magazine. Create your own fortune cookies!”

Midori tossed out ideas worthy of our finest romantic comedies, a master creating her art, faster and faster, like the part in The Little Mermaid when all the magical bottles and ingredients are flying into Ursula’s cauldron. The very air in the room had changed as she spoke; we were becoming something other than we had been before.

We were hopeless, all of us, but Midori molded us quickly and with authority.

“Can I start my love letter with, ‘Hey bitch’?” a shy girl volunteered.

“Terms of endearment are distinctly personal,” Midori said warmly.

“I don’t know what to say after ‘Dear Chocolate Bunny, I love the way we made out in the back of my van…’” a guy trailed off.

“How about,” Midori thought for a second, her eyes shining. “‘Longingly, until we find each other in another backseat’?”

“What would you say to someone who just broke up with you, but you want to get back with them, even though they have a violent temper and you’re already dating another man?” a girl in a cheerleader uniform asked. “Oh, and you want to convey a top/bottom power dynamic?”

“Thank you all for coming out tonight,” Midori said, smiling at us proudly.

It was like Dead Poets Society, except with vibrators and sexy mad libs.

“Does a love note need to be wordy?” she asked, and we looked at each other, before the bravest among us spoke out: “No!”

She smiled, nodding slowly. We were getting it!

“Does a love note need to be expensive?”

“No!” more of us called out.

“It’s up to you to update and maintain your ingredient lists. Some will work better than others,” she said triumphantly as we cheered. “Whatever you do, be sincere and authentic!”

We stood and applauded our mistress, love rejects no more.

“Romance is easy. Be creative and have fun,” she said with a mysterious smile and the barest hint of a wink. The hints she had given us were just the tip of her vast iceberg of knowledge; we could admire Midori but we could never truly know all her secrets.

She picked up a huge plate of candy: our transformation had left us starving, but, as always, Midori was prepared.

“Chocolates, anyone?”

Resilience is a funny thing. Just this morning, I was feeling really, really down and defeated, a feeling I haven’t been able to completely shake for a few weeks now. Everything I do seemed colored by my torpor. In fact, I’d typed up a blog post about the very subject (and my desire to escape take a vacation) this morning, only to erase it before posting. There’s only so much self-pitying I can take, especially from myself!

But, like that Gap swing dancing commercial, somehow your point of view shifts and what seemed so bleak and hopeless now seems exciting and possible. What causes this?

  • A good conversation with Z while picnicking in the park
  • A hot bath and a quiet night in your own apartment
  • A few chapters of Judith Krantz’s I’ll Take Manhattan (long live ’80s-mom-poolside-reading)
  • Most importantly, writing. Shaping sentences and choosing words to find beautiful and unexpected combinations; getting your thoughts down on paper in the pithiest way possible. Fighting the blank page and realizing that, yes, you can win again at something that means more you than anything else in the world.

In the movie Can’t Hardly Wait, each character is introduced by a quick shot of their yearbook picture and senior quote. Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character, Amanda, (who’s undecided about attending college, which has always bothered me) quotes Jewel. (I know, I know…how ’90s!)

I’m not ashamed to admit that I love the quote myself, and although the song (“I’m Sensitive”) is a little cringe-worthy, it ends with the titular quote that never fails to make me feel an emotional rush:

“I’d rather see the world from another angle…”

That’s usually all it takes to feel cheerful or at least brave again.

idinamenzelBelieve it or not, I haven’t seen Wicked. (My birthday’s next week, so maybe I’ll get tickets.) I read the book, which I liked up until about halfway through. I never saw the stage play of Rent, but I did see the movie version on my one, very strange semi-date with a photographer. I did see Enchanted, which I loved.

So I was slightly familiar with Idina Menzel before tonight, when I went to see her perform a showcase from her upcoming Warner Bros. debut album, I Stand. I dragged along my always game pal, Z, and, like our Vanessa Carlton adventure, it turned out to be a fantastic night.

Idina forgot lyrics, swore and sang all about how fucked up she is…is there any surprise that I loved her and the show? Tonight was a night when I really needed to hear Idina’s brand of “I’m a beautiful disaster,” and it’s like my inner snark just shut off. She looked gorgeous and has such a huge voice that it more than filled up the room, plus she played piano (in a charmingly awkward way) and teared up several times, including when she thanked hubby Taye Diggs, who came up onstage to hug her.

I’d been feeling so uninspired recently that it was as if someone were turning the lights back on inside me tonight. I stood there in the crowd, sweating in my jacket that I would never take off, feeling more and more as if I had something special to offer: a glow-in-the-dark, spinning fireworks/pinwheel heart that the right person will one day recognize and treasure, burning underneath my new Secret Wars t-shirt as brightly as the purple lights onstage.

Afterwards, my pal and I stumbled out afterwards with our complimentary Idina CD/DVD samplers and started driving back into the Valley. He was excited about his new iPod (mine’s dead) and was playing random songs, when he cued up a surprise for me.

As we drove up the Cahuenga pass out of Hollywood, with millions of tail lights ahead of us instead of stars (a la the ending of Valley Girl), the opening notes of Petula Clark’s “Downtown” started playing, and I felt such a rush of emotion: love for my friend, for the song, for L.A. and, most importantly, for myself.

“This is a great moment,” I said softly, more for my benefit than his. I told myself I wouldn’t forget how hopeful and happy I felt right then.