A thing that I do not recommend is ever driving your car, especially in Los Angeles, because if you do drive your car in Los Angeles, you will go through approximately one million potholes, and your passenger side tire will develop sidewall bubbles without your knowledge, and one day you will be innocently gassing up with your last $10 until payday, and you will check your tire pressure and see those bubbles, and your brain will send out the DANGER WILL ROBINSON signal, because sidewall bubbles mean that your tire could EXPLODE AT ANY MOMENT, and you will tearfully call your dad and ask him to buy you tires for Christmas instead of the lovely shoes you wanted.
If your dad is anything like my dad, he will send you money for tires AND shoes and you will cry a lot and then you will go buy tires and shoes. (Also there was a little left over and I got a bottle of whiskey for us and some groceries for J down the hall.)
Trader Joe’s, the Friday before Christmas.
Grace was in the seat of the cart, which was very full with holiday groceries. We were parked next to the apples, and I had just put a couple bags of honeycrisps into the basket. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two or three loose apples from the top of the display rolling down past Grace to the floor.
Uncertain if she had been hit, or perhaps even caused the mini-avalanche, I said, “Oh Gracie!” as I turned. The woman behind me, who had in fact knocked the apples down, looked very confused and flustered.
“Are you okay, Grace?” I asked.
The woman said, “How did you–Grace is my name.” I laughed and told her it’s my daughter’s name too.
(P.S. No Graces were harmed in the cascade of apples.)
I just had this extremely repetitive conversation with the neighbor child. He and his little sister frequently come by to ask if Sam can play in the hallway with them. I usually am fine with it, but occasionally say no for such unreasonable things as dinner. Once they came by at 10:00 at night and could not understand why I refused to wake Sam up to ride scooters with them.
–Can we play with Sam?
–He’s not here.
–Where is he?
–He went out.
–He went out?
–Can we play with Sam?
–He’s not here.
–Where is he?
–He went out.
–Can we play with Sam?
–HE IS NOT HERE.
–Well. When he gets back, can you tell him can he play with us?
I am quite certain that he did not at any point believe me for one instant that Sam is not home. I admit that I could have been more patient, but the entire conversation took place while they tried to push past me into the apartment and I was just not up for it.
Today a barrista misspelled my Starbucks name.
Okay, you all have Starbucks names, right? I mean, those of you not named Jennifer or Sara(h).
I go by Anna because apparently Annika is impossible even if I say “A-N-N-I-K-A.” For years I drank coffees make for “Monica,” “Anica,” “Onica,” and assorted other ladies I am not. Anna does not have the same problems, especially since I allow for the variant Ana because LA is like 50% Latino (seriously).
Today I drank a coffee made for Anne.
This morning the children and I took the car to get a smog check. I’ve never done that before–if you buy your car in California, it gets six years’ probation until you have to start testing emissions; our last car was five and a half years old when it was stolen.
I found a place with great reviews on Yelp, found a coupon, and set off with a ball of anxiety in my stomach. Partly I was anxious about doing something new. Partly about the trip to the DMV that would come after–perhaps you remember how our last trip went? And partly because we were really overdue for this and I have been kind of living in fear of getting pulled over.
Once we got there, the mechanic was nice to me and I found a bench at the side of the building to sit on with Sam and Grace. They had their handheld video games, and when Grace got bored of her game we looked for birds (there is no shortage of pigeons in Hollywood).
A homeless man in a wheelchair came across the parking lot toward us and stopped right up next to the bench. I tried to push away the feeling of discomfort. Then he took out a crumpled pack of Winstons, and just as I was about to ask him to go smoke away from my children (and, er, the gas pumps) the mechanic appeared out of nowhere and asked him to move to the other side of the lot. The man stood up from his wheelchair, and, well. His pants fell down.
HIS PANTS FELL DOWN. I SAW HIS PENIS.
I don’t think the children noticed, but oh man was the mechanic embarrassed. He apologized profusely, and later the manager came out and also apologized, which is so silly–they had no control over it! Once the man had his pants situation under control, he sat back down and wheeled across the parking area–only to almost get run over by a car backing up.
Funny story: when Will moved to Los Angeles, he got a job as the second assistant to the producers at a movie star’s production company. He worked there for 6 years. The reason he got the job? His mother’s boss’s college roommate’s ex-husband’s neighbor was in charge of hiring. (Actually, that’s why he got the interview. He got the job because he is awesome.)
While he worked there, he worked with some writers. A lot of writers, actually, but two in particular who are relevant to this story. He worked with this writing team for the better part of a year, until the studio finally passed on their script, much to everyone’s annoyance and disappointment. We liked the writers a lot, and had them over for a barbecue and I think at least one other time. One of them, Mike, moved to Las Vegas. We’re friends on Facebook.
Mike sent me an email out of the blue in January. He’s the assistant editor at a local magazine now, and was looking for a writer for an article on blogging. Was I interested?
And thus concludes my tale of how, despite “who you know” being the most important thing ever, there is NO WAY ON EARTH to control it because you just never know who will be important.
We had an adventure on Wednesday. Not the good kind. (But if you stick with me there will be Muppets at the end.)
Okay, you know how trucks have this sticker on the back?
Everyone with half a brain knows to stay clear of a truck that’s turning right. Right?
Related (kind of): you know how you’ll be waiting in the right turn lane at a red light, and you creep forward to see if you can turn right on red, and the car that’s going straight will edge forward as you do because the driver is a total dick?
So here’s what happened to us on Wednesday. And I will start by saying: we are all FINE.
Will’s Vespa wouldn’t start (it needs a new battery AND probably has a clogged fuel line – neither of which will be very costly to get fixed but we have to time it just right) so the kids and I put on pants and we all piled into the car.
About two blocks from our building, there was a USPS truck–a semi–stopped at a red light. He was all the way to the left, going straight. Will pulled up alongside him on the right, to turn. While the light was still red, the truck began to pull forward. I thought to myself, I can’t believe a fucking semi is intersection-blocking us.
And then he started to turn right.
And I had just enough time to think, “Holy shit, he is going to kill us” before the truck made contact with the front driver’s side corner of our car.
AND THEN HE KEPT GOING.
That’s right, the motherfucker never saw us, and couldn’t hear the impact. Which, amazingly, had been very slight. I got out to survey the damage and…there wasn’t any. The paint was scraped. Seriously, that was IT. Our car is so low that only the (fucking gigantic) tire had hit us.
So then we spent half an hour waiting for the police to show up and take our statement. Because if you have a hit and run, you report it. (I mean, I think so. But I also think you DON’T TURN RIGHT ON RED FROM THE LEFT LANE WITHOUT SIGNALING OR USING YOUR MIRRORS.) After 30 minutes the dispatcher called and said, “I have an officer at [the intersection where we were] and there’s no sign of an accident.” I said, “That’s funny, because we are at [INTERSECTION WHERE WE CLEARLY WERE] and I see no sign of an officer.” Only I wasn’t as sarcastic as I wanted to be. I mostly save that for the internet.
Eventually he found us and took down all our information, and was even nice about the fact that I couldn’t find the current insurance card. And he showed Sam the computer in his car–Sam was very impressed. Just when he was finished with us, a couple of minivans pulled over across the street, fresh from a fender bender. Poor officer.
So that sucked. I’ve been jumpy for days, and really angry. And so goddamn busy OMG.
In an effort to keep from killing everyone, I’ve developed an obsession with “Moving Right Along.” Kermit and Fozzy soothe me. Here:
(YouTube videos never load for me on the first try. Try refreshing the page, or just click here.)
Step One (Optional, but Helpful): Come down with the flu, or a cold, or possibly just aches and pains and allergies (who knows) and stay home sick on a Saturday. (You can’t remember the last time you were home on a Saturday, but you were probably sick then, too.)
Step Two: Decide to bake pie at 8:30, right around the time your sick husband is going to bed.
Step Three: Mix together the filling. You should make pumpkin pie. You should add a generous slug of Irish whiskey.
Step Four: Blind bake the crust. Fail to actually put beans into it. Discover five minutes later that the middle has puffed up and the sides have fallen down. Shriek with horror and pull it out of the oven.
Step Five: Manage, through sheer force of will, to fix the crust (mostly) using only a fork.
Step Six: Pour the filling into the pie crust, and pour the extra filling (there is always extra filling) into the children’s ramekins. Carefully place the ramekins on the oven rack.
Step Seven: Discover that one of the ramekins tipped over and the bottom of your oven is now pumpkin pie flavored. Curse loudly.
Step Eight: EVERYTHING ELSE GOES FINE AND THE PIE IS EXCELLENT.
Can you guess which step has not actually happened yet?
In 1999, Will and I moved to upstate New York, near Hudson. We lived on the second floor of a farmhouse. Three weeks after we moved in, Hurricane Floyd hit the eastern seaboard. According to wikipedia, Floyd was a category 4 hurricane, which is pretty serious business.
My memory of Floyd:
Will’s memory of Floyd:
severe winds, downed trees, and the impetus for writing post-apocalyptic stories.
Irene, a category 2 hurricane, is expected to hit New York (among other places) today. I hope it’s closer to my memory of Floyd than Will’s.