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.

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Play with yourself

In order to be there for other people, you have to be there for yourself. You can do this in lots of ways. Here are some of my favorite ways.

  • Take a shower. There’s nothing like removing all distractions by taking a shower. It feels too good to think about anything else. Kind of like sex.
  • Writing to no one. Writing to yourself. Writing to a good friend who doesn’t pass judgment. Who loves you for who you are, regardless of your ups and downs and who doesn’t dole out advice unless you ask for it. And who surprises you and helps you see your own shit in new ways.
  • Go for a walk. Kind of like taking a shower and sex but this time you are stimulated by all kinds of ever changing sights and sounds and lucky for you if you live in a boring ass neighborhood because then you learn how to slow down and appreciate the little things which is the secret to happiness anyway.
  • Again: Slllllllloooooooowwwwww down. The happiest people I know take life very slowly. They wake up late. They’re not in a hurry to get anywhere. They cut more out of their schedule in order to free up time to just create and play with themselves. Yes, play with themselves. Yes, I mean ‘that.’
  • Don’t jump to the punchline. Kind of like ‘slow down’ but this time it’s the idea that you don’t need to put on a song and dance for everyone. Softer voices and less talk often lets other people crawl out of their shells. Sometimes I feel like I have to fill every hole or gap or empty frame of life with fireworks and razzamatazz. Just let the void produce something.
  • And at other times, it’s ok to fill the void. I know people who are not afraid to jump in and splash around and make a mess of themselves. They step on what other people are saying, but they do it not because they’re callous but because they are excited about life, and they’re not afraid of being clumsy. So say something stupid. It’s ok. Somebody has to do it, might as well be you. Just don’t let it be you all the time or else people will start thinking you really are stupid. 😉

Being (and nada-ness) in LA

The day I decided to leave LA, I was stuck in traffic on the 405 frontage road. I went on the frontage road to get away from the 405 but there I was — stuck —  and I could see all the cars above me on the freeway were stuck, too, and I got this overwhelming feeling of dread as I realized that I was locked in a canyon with no way out for god knows how long and I thought, ‘This is fucking ridiculous and I’m not going to keep living here anymore. I’m going to get the hell outta here just as soon as I can.’ And then I went back to sitting in my car for another three hours.

Now I am back here visiting for a week and it’s the same. I don’t know how people do it. The only things different are that the food is more expensive, eyebrows are more pronounced, and everyone is skinnier and more stylish than me but I don’t give a shit.

On the positive side, I will say this. People here are actually way friendlier  than I remember. And I mean genuinely friendly. Even the seemingly superficial ladies at the makeup counter at Nordstrom’s seem very caring underneath all of the gobs of makeup. I shit you not.

I still can’t handle people walking up to you as soon as you walk into a store and hounding you nor can I handle the fake ‘Oh you look so wonderful in that sweater’ comments from the sales people who work for a commission, but those are pretty universal experiences. [I should have used the word ‘ubiquitous’ instead of ‘universal’ because ‘ubiquitous’ is a word that hardly gets used enough stage time these days. Fancy words are a dying breed. I say we resurrect them not to be snooty but simply to make sure we don’t start finding words going extinct in the English language.]

But when two frozen yogurts add up to $16 plus dollars at the mall, I go out of my fucking mind and there is no way in hell I am going to leave a tip. Now, at the time, I felt terrible that I didn’t want to rub my finger on the screen and accept the preordained tip that the machine told me to give her. Instead, I picked ‘No tip’ and then hung my head in shame while the LA yogurt lady gave me the stink eye. When she wasn’t looking, I pulled out a $1 from my wallet and then waited for her to turn and watch me insert it into her tip jar but I could tell that, by that point, she had lost all faith in women who definitely are not skinny nor fashionable enough and who are CLEARLY an out-of-towner since I appeared to have no knowledge of proper tipping etiquette.

Still there are certain things I can say with certainty that I enjoy about LA (hard to say ‘love’ but I can say ‘enjoy’ without feeling inauthentic). I love the breezy way you can spend most of the year outdoors with just a sweater at most to keep you warm. There are endless people to watch and study wherever you go. Even the snazziest, best dressed, most put together upscale dude who looks, at first glance, COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY superficial can surprise you by having genuine manners to boot. I was waiting in line at a coffee shop and – surprise surprise – this guy, who could have clearly stepped in front of me, let me go in front of him simply to be polite. I was floored. I probably wasn’t skinny enough or stylish enough for him to ask for my number, but still. At least he had manners! I was impressed.

No, I know. I’m being pretty harsh about this town but still… I do think the sun brings out the best in people here despite the focus on money and glamour that abounds. LA may be mostly about money and fame and working out and eating out at expensive ass restaurants (and I’m the first to admit that I do relish a good ‘eating out’ at a fancy ass bistro…no puns intended), but it also has an openness of heart that I like, and miss. Sunshine opens up people’s chakras in a very nice way indeed. And I miss it.

Take a picture… it lasts longer and it’s cheaper

[Disclaimer: don’t mean to start out so humbug but, yeah, in this blog I do and then I promise it gets more uplifting towards the end.] So yeah, I really dislike all the materialism of Xmas. Not because stuff isn’t fun to give and receive but because people get their feelings hurt when something isn’t big enough, or cost enough money, or unique enough, or if it arrives too late. If things aren’t perfect, people can get butthurt. Plus I’m broke and I’m tired of going through so much money. So I would like to just take a picture of everything I WOULD have bought people if I had enough money to buy it, and give them the picture of that instead. Cheesy I know. But funny, right? At least they would get a laugh and a picture out of it. or at least a picture.

I don’t know how or why I am always so low on cash. I try to say ‘no’ to so many things and save money but I just can’t be one of those extreme penny pinchers. Those people who count everything down to the percentage of tax that they owe on the bill when eating out with a group of friends. There is only one time in my life that I was ever even remotely good at staying within a budget. It was in 1998 when I managed to eke out enough of a living at Target (and live in a cheap enough house – it was only $475 a month) that I could divvy up my money and put it in envelopes. $400 for groceries, $50 for self-care (although that phrase wasn’t even in use back then), $100 for gas, etc., and if you went over in one category, you just borrowed from another envelope but overall you were forced to stay within your means. I would love to do that again but every month I’m just barely able to do this. I need to do this again. Lord god Jesus it’s hard to not be broke.

So maybe I’ll do it again. I’ll scrimp and save and cash my checks until I can put enough money in envelopes to live within my means. Good god can I do this? I’m going to fucking DO IT FUCK YEAH!!!

Meanwhile, in other things, here’s what I really don’t understand. When I write things down, I don’t feel funny but when I talk to people, I feel funny. I don’t get it. For me, writing is like airing all the shit that is in your head. Putting it onto paper or a screen. But for some reason, when I am writing just for myself it doesn’t come out funny. It’s like I HAVE to have an audience there. A facebook audience. Anything. There has to be somebody there.

And then I start to think, well maybe I AM funny but I just don’t think I’m funny because I’m too hard on myself. That could be true, too.

Or maybe I’m really not that funny ever. Or maybe… I just need a bit more vino to be funny when I’m writing. Or maybe coffee. Or maybe I need to pretend like I’m writing to the person who I make laugh the most? Or maybe I need to just do some shrooms? Haha no way. That chapter of my life is OVER!!!!

And then I realize all I really need to do is stop worrying about being funny and just be myself and to hell with having to think I’ve got to be fucking funny all the time. Just be real for fucking chrissakes. And, as they say, people who swear more tend to be more honest so I need to swear a whole fucking lot more because comedy is about truth and if I want to get to the heart of the matter, I better start fucking swearing more. The funniest people I know are also the most fucking honest with themselves and the world. Maybe too honest at times but they’re honest. And, as the ole saying goes, ‘Be honest. It’s funnier.’ Or however it goes. ‘Truth is funny?’ ‘There’s nothing funnier than the truth?’ Whatever it is. It’s basically truth = funny.

And here is what I know I’m good at. NARRATING MY THOUGHT PROCESS AS IT GOES. Ok and maybe I go on a bit too much about it at times, but the truth is: that’s what I’m good at. And maybe I could rein it in at times – yup, I can’t deny it – but I still think: it’s fucking healthy to let shit out. AND, to top it off, I think I’m actually pretty fucking good at modifying what shit comes out of my mouth depending on who I am speaking to. I can rein it in if I REALLY HAVE TO. It’s just that there aren’t really that many people that you REALLY HAVE TO rein it in for. I mean, yes. There is the president of anything – where you work (ahem), the country you live in (actually I’d swear at Trump with not a single iota of regret) – but most of the time, I think, most people appreciate a little extra honesty over too much caution. Now, I know, there are those naysayers out there who say – again, look at Trump – it’s not all that great to be on the receiving end of someone who has zero filter 99.9% of the time. And, ok, yes, I know what you mean. But here is what I’m saying. There is a balancing act. And here is how you can juggle it better:

  • Get shit off of your chest.
  • If getting shit off of your chest is going to harm the person you’re talking to, then don’t tell them. Tell someone else or tell yourself in your journal or tell your cat but say it SOME FUCKING PLACE.
  • It’s important to think about your audience. Yes, it is. In fact, it may even lend itself to greater creativity in the long run because rampant creativity with no structure often leads to chaos but a little bit of boundary making can often bring on creative problem solving (thus thinking about your audience can help). Like… what the folks at google do to promote creative ideas. Stick people in long cafeteria lines so that they are FORCED to chat with each other while waiting to order their lunch. You’re stuck there. You’re bored. You’re hungry. So what do you do? You get creative and break through that cold wall between you and the next person in line. You open your mouth. Ok, maybe you look at your phone for a long time, too, to avoid talking to people but eventually you, or someone else, is going to feel stupid doing that forever and someone will eventually speak. Or at least I would hope so. I have to have some shred of hope for humanity at this point in the technological age.

So take the above three points (balls) and juggle them until your heart’s content. Juggle and jiggle them balls until you and everyone around you is happy and laughing and content again. juggle DEM BALLZ!!!

Voices in my head

It’s time to listen to the nice voices in your head.

We all have them. And we all have, even if it’s just a smidgeon, some not so nice voices. And it doesn’t matter how perfect or imperfect your childhood might have been, it seems that the negative is always louder than the positive (which they say is due to the fact that, instinctually, our need for self-preservation makes our minds more alert to potential threats (negative) than positivity). So…. Lard it on, people! Lard on the positivity by listening intensely to the nice voices in your head to counteract the negative tendencies.

Here’s what I like to do to cultivate the presence of nice voices in the garden of my mind. I like to….

  • Give myself little rewards whenever I can. Even if I’ve just accomplished a little thing like make that annoying phonecall to set up an appointment that I didn’t want to have to deal with. I did it so now I get something for it. Today I got a spoonful of molasses for that little annoyance.
  • I’ll dance. I’ll put on a youtube video with some new ballet moves or tap dance moves or hip hop moves and I’ll pretend I’m a virtuoso ballerina/hip hop/modern dancer and regale the animals sitting on my bed if no one else.
  • I’ll dance in the kitchen. While I’m waiting for something to warm up in the microwave, I will do plies and stretch and I’ll kick my leg up behind and in front of me in various arabesque moves and it feels good.
  • I install more mirrors. Yup. Mirrors. I forget to even stop and look at myself sometimes because I am running so much from task to task. When I see my reflection even in my computer screen, I realize that, ‘Hey! Who is that pretty lady right there? It’s me! Goddammit, it’s me! And I better start appreciating myself because god knows when anyone else will.’
  • I avoid things. Yes, avoid. I should go to the car mechanic right now. I went over a bump last night in the street and I really should go and check it out to make sure it’s ok. But then, again, why not NOT do it? I mean, the mechanic is probably going to say, ‘Well, looks alright to me.’ Or, ‘Just drive it until something breaks down on it.’ Or, ‘It’s probably nothing. Stop worrying.’ Or he’d look under it, like I did, and notice the little scratch mark on the undercarriage and say, ‘Well, it’s probably fine. But I can charge you $150 to lift it up and tell you the same thing. What do you want to do?’ So, I don’t know. I’m tempted to just drive it until it does something that warrants me taking it in. But then again, for the sake of peace of mind, I might just go in and be told simply that ‘it’s nothing.’ So I think I’ll take it in, but I’m not going to rush to take it in. I’ll take it in on my own sweet ass time because this is the first day in a long string of days that I’ve had entirely/mostly to myself so I refuse to be rushed around today. Not one fucking jot goddammit!!!
  • In order to hear the happier, less stressed out voices in my mind, I need to simply counter them with calming, soothing nice tones in my head. ‘Lara, you will be fine. Lara, there is nothing to worry about. Lara, there will always be someone worrying about something out there. Just stop worrying. Your legs work, you can breathe, you’re not hungry and your kids are ok. Stop worrying. Lara, there are people in this world who wake up every day relaxed and carefree. You used to do that as a kid. You can do it again. And they’re not even rich people who do this. There are poor people out there who are happy every/mostly goddam day. You saw it in the video on ‘Happiness’ so it has to be true. The point of that documentary was…. As long as you have a loving support system of enough people, then you can be happy no matter what. And, yes, sometimes it’s a delicate balance of how you maintain that support system because sometimes some folks can take more out of you than you even have to give but that’s why you’ve got to take care of yourself first and stop feeling selfish about it. You’re doing the world a favor by being good and kind to yourself because then you can make the rational choices you need to make to keep your sanity intact for all. Take care of yourself, goddammit, Lara! (Ooops, the voices are getting mean again…)
  • And, above all else, have a good, well functioning, fucking sense of humor for chrissakes! That’s the key to it all. At least for me. I know it is. Laugh, for fuck’s sake. Nothing fucking nothing is worth getting that bent out of shape about. Fucking laugh about it! Enjoy!!!! Life is short!!! Who the fuck needs to dwell on negative ass shit!!!! Have some fucking fun!!!!!
  • And if that doesn’t cheer me up, I don’t know what will.