The epic story of the washing machine

redlgSo I realized that the washing machine breaking again–

was a metaphor for my life.

Not because I’m narcissistic–

But because I like to philosophize.

So here is its story……….

The washing machine broke down a few months ago. I decided to fix it and be eco-friendly and frugal at the same time. Why dump another washing machine down a cliff if it just takes a spare part to fix it. So the mechanic took forever to come to our house. Day after day we waited. I went to the laundromat. I phoned. I waited. Finally he showed. He fixed it and it worked for one day. And then, it broke again. So, I called and called and waited and waited and sure… I could have found another fix-it man, just like I could have found another washing machine, right? But I didn’t. I thought… “I’ll give him a chance. I’ll be




machine repairman-friendly and frugal with my time by giving the guy a chance to prove that he can show up and fix it. He came. He fixed it. At this point, I had sunk so much money into it that I probably could have had two washing machines and thus I was really determined to make it work. It did. For about two months. And then it broke again.

Before you judge me and think… “She’s a fool. She should have seen the signs on the wall (not to mention the pool of water on the floor).” I’m a single mom (get out your handkerchiefs) and I don’t have time or energy to go running around finding washing machines. I’d rather fix something that’s already here than go to even more trouble and money replacing it. That’s number one. Number two: I had SEVERAL well-respected people I know advise me that it’s better to fix an older washing machine because the newer ones are super expensive and often fail because they’re made with a lot of plastic parts and nothing is designed to last these days so older, simpler models are more reliable than newer glitzier ones. I had reasons to keep clinging to this hope. Believe me.

But in the end, I gave up.

And this is a metaphor for my life.

Why, might you ask? What does it all mean? It means… I’m good at trying. I try and I try and I try and I try and I try and eventually I hit a wall. And sometimes even then I try. But eventually I learn to walk around the wall.


Toot your horn…fecestiously

horn800I’ve known people who have too high of an opinion of themselves. And I’ve known people who don’t have enough. I’m somewhere in between. Probably like a lot of people but today it doesn’t feel right.

If anything, I veer towards not having enough of a high opinion of myself. Not because I don’t like myself but because I really don’t think that what I do is that different from what anybody else does. And it surprises me when people come to me with questions as if I have answers that they could never dream of. Or when they look at me as if I’m something special because it’s not that I don’t feel special. I just think that we are all special. Nobody is not special.

So that’s what I mean by having an opinion of myself that’s somewhere in between too high and too low.

And I’m pretty sure many of the people who go around with a high opinion of themselves are really compensating for a pretty low opinion of themselves and vice versa. In fact, it goes without saying that people with real self-confidence don’t have to announce to the world how special they feel. Yes, I announce it. But I do it as a joke. Some people get it. Some don’t. But whenever I do announce how special I am, I am channeling the spirit of Mr. Jelinek from Strangers with Candy, the art teacher who would begin his class by saying, ‘So how is everyone today? Well… let’s ask the really important question: how am ‘I’ doing?’

In so many ways, I’m just done. I’m done maneuvering the slippery slope of social affability. I’m done aiming for false modesty and done trying to toot my own horn. Sure people toot my horn on occasion and sometimes it feels like a genuine toot, but often the toots come with strings attached. So in the meantime, I’ll just toot my own horn facetiously. And maybe someday someone will get it.

Rock on, single lady!

‘The joy of being alone’….I have NEVER in my life been able to say that and mean it. I mean really mean it. I might have had my moments, but to actually believe it for an extended period of time? Yup. I am finally there.

I’ve been reading about writers like Hemingway and Cheever and the necessity of being alone for creativity to unfold. And so far, all I hear from them is that it’s a blessing and a curse. Well, I’ve mostly felt the curse part of solitude. Now I’m feeling the blessing part, too.

Here is what I know about myself. I tend to focus on helping other people. I’m pretty good at it, in fact. That’s why I’m a teacher. The problem with being a teacher, though, is you forget to help yourself. You put everyone else first. And that gets sucky. You get so good at reading other people, that you forget to read yourself. You get so good at sensing what other people need or want, that you can’t remember what?…. huh?….. what was I saying?

I had this student once who talked about how she could never just sit still. How she always had to stay busy. It was almost impossible for her to lay down and rest, even  when she was sick. That’s how I am. But it’s not because I can’t sit down and chill. It’s because I feel like if I do, then the world is going to end. Bills need to be paid, dishes need to be done, cats need shots, the roof needs to be fixed, dogs need to be walked. There is an endless list of stuff always whirring around in my head so it takes tremendous fortitude for me to say ‘fuck it’ and just sit down and chill and to accept the mayhem that surrounds me.

Now, in 2017, I’m finally getting it. I finally understand why. I can’t sit still and not stay busy because I haven’t – in the past – liked to remember that I’m alone. At least if I’m doing things all the time (usually for other people, directly or indirectly), then I don’t have to think about the fact that I’m alone. Doing things becomes my way of staying connected. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s a thing. Like if I’m running around because I’m going to make a nice dinner for my family, then that’s nice. Or if I’m running around because the dog’s nails need to be trimmed to be happy, then that’s nice, too. But the part that is not nice is that I’m not running around enough for me.

So in 2017 that’s my resolution. If I’m going to run around, I’m doing it for moi more. And it may remind me that I’m alone but so be it. I’ll remember myself as a kid being happy on my own and hopefully that will be enough. I’ll remember that being content and being alone is an example that I can set my family. That nobody has to be there to complete you. That you are complete unto yourself. Because if you go through life thinking someone else is going to complete you, then you are fucked from the start.


I was waiting in a grocery checkout lane yesterday. I was in my own world not really wanting to chat with anyone, but it was fine because nobody seemed that interested in talking to me. On the periphery of my awareness, I heard the guy in front of me say something like, “Well maybe the lady behind me will want my stickers.” And then I realized I was being pulled into a conversation. This often happens to me. The more I disengage with the world, the more people try to suck me in. Anyway, I responded with a smile as I realized that he was offering me the stamps that go on this doohickey thing that SafeLay is doing as a promotional campaign. You get X number of stickers and it allows you to turn in your completed pamphlet for various pots and pans. I’ve earned one large pot so far, and I’m due for another.

Anyway, when I realized what he was up to, I perked up and tried to be social. He was, after all, giving me something for free. I didn’t want to be rude or ungrateful so I smiled and thanked him profusely (well, it felt like I was overdoing it, but I’d rather overdo then underdo it, ya know?). So he finished paying and left me the stickers on the little counter where (in olden days) people used to write checks. It seemed like he didn’t want to hand it to me. Maybe he thought I had germs? Maybe he was just keeping a polite distance. I don’t know. But there they were, waiting for me.

As I walked over to take his spot, I thanked him again. At this point, I knew I was overdoing it but I couldn’t help it. I felt like I had to fill a void. The void created when one human being makes a generous offer to you and you, as a human/social being, must fill that void with your imaginary hand of connection and solidarity. He was being nice and it was my turn to be nice, too As he walked away, I felt an impulse to go running after him, to thank him all the way to the parking lot, maybe even offer him my phone number. We could become grocery store friends. We could share our differing philosophies on how grocery stores have become warmer or colder over time. Whether it’s better to use the express self-check out lane or be a loyal Luddite and let a person ring up your groceries? Maybe I could buy him coffee and convince him to hang out longer and people watch with me? Maybe I could help him work on his finances since he clearly was clueless in terms of the cost-benefit analysis of saving stickers and getting free kitchenware? I don’t know, but I definitely felt like that transitory moment with a stranger in a checkout lane was incomplete. Thank you, prefrontal cortex, for letting me have closure with this unfinished incident. And thank you, great-gods-of-the-grocery store-checkout lanes-that-determine-our-lot-in-life for offering me this ephemeral insight into the beauty of human connection and (almost) simultaneous dissolution.

Hollywood can kiss my bottom

It’s so weird traveling. I love it and despite it at the same time. I love it because it reminds me that there is a whole world out there beyond my usual four walls. That there are endless possibilities. That there are people with minds and ways of seeing completely foreign to me. Whose voices are voices that I never normally hear. Who have weird senses of humor that I can’t believe they get away with. Like this guy on the airplane sitting behind me who loudly exclaimed that he was glad that this other (slender) guy was sitting next to him because – thank god – he’s not another Jabba the Hutt.’ I mean, come on!!! I could never say that to a total stranger. Who can? It takes a certain kind of person who can say that. Not sure that that’s a good or bad thing, but still. Almost a Trump-like person. Again, not an admirable person to be compared with (IMHO) but I was intrigued. So I kept listening and it turned out that this guy was anything but a Trumpite. He was a Hollywood exec type who liked to do a lot of name dropping. He was a co-producer working for Cameron Crowe and every other comment outta his mouth was  ‘Jerry Macguire’ this and ‘Tom Cruise’ that. I was intrigued at first. I wanted to know how the mind of a Hollywood exec sounded. I listened for a long time but then the plane started going through some serious turbulence. So much so that I was gripping my book and saying my prayers (and I’m agnostic unless a serious emergency is at hand – I figure God has enough on his plate and s/he doesn’t have to listen to me unless there is a really bad situation to deal with). Anyway, there I was panic stricken and all this guy did was interrupt the flow of his conversation for half a second by saying ‘Yeah, turbulence is a bitch sometimes’ and then he was back to his nonstop monologue of self-glorification.

When I finally got off the plane and my dad picked me up, we drove along the 405 freeway and I started remembering the good ole days when I first got out of college and started working little jobs on movie sets. There was one job I got that totally turned my stomach in regards to ever wanting to work in Hollywood (stop reading now if you have any genuine dreams of ‘making it’ in Hollywood – I’m not here to crush your dreams. Really, I’m not. I just want to set the record straight and offer a different version of the Hollywood story. Sure, some people are cut out for it and that’s awesome. For me? I felt guilty for years because I wasn’t interested in getting into that ratrace. I thought there was something wrong with me. It turns out: nope. There are just different strokes for different folks and I prefer doing the freestyle.)

So anyway, back to the main point (sorry but I like taking meandering paths at times). I was working as a prop person (I think the term ‘prop mistress’ is demeaning and sexist) on this set. And I found myself doing a lot of standing around waiting for the director and cameraman to take a certain shot. A lot of primping and fluffing and talking and eating from the appetizer table and then more talking and more standing around and more chitchat and more networking and namedropping and then more eating. And then maybe…10 seconds of a scene was shot. And then more talking and standing around…. You get the picture.

I’m sorry but with several identical experiences on movie sets within about six months, I was done. I didn’t get it. I didn’t know how on God’s gradually less green earth that would be remotely interesting to anyone but I’m glad, for some people, it is. And I’m not saying this to be all ‘sour grapes’ and Aesop’s fables-ish about it. I just am honestly glad that I made that decision a long time ago to get the hell outta dodge. No guilt. I do not want to live here. EVER. I love my family but this town? No way no way no fucking way. I love the warmth. I love the sun. I love the open skies. I love even the tinsel town aspect. I love the new eateries that pop up and I love the people watching opportunities. And not because care to sound disdainful. I am genuinely curious about people and I want to know what all kinds of people are like…. With the proviso that I can get faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrr away when I need to. Very far away. Writing helps me get away.

P.S. There are sweet and kind and nice people in LA, too. I ran into several already. And I will write about them as well. Next blog.