Unsolicited Advice

Let’s Rant.

What is it about unsolicited advice that gets me so worked up? There are multiple scenarios within reason I can admit I’m guilty of “advising” in… for example friends/people/strangers that may have just wanted an ear to vent to and there I go giving advice. I am specifically not talking about those times. Because unless you specify at the top of the conversation, “I am going to vent a lot to you right now and I do not want you to tell me what to do or give me your insight or thoughts AT ALL,” then, you’re screwed, because whatever, we (meaning me) want to express our opinion or perhaps, unsolicited advice, because it is human nature.

No, I am not talking about that brand of unsolicited advice, rather, I am talking about the advice a certain generation (Generation Baby Boomer) writes out on old receipts found in the trash or at the bottom of a salty purse for Jason and I to find brazenly atop the pillows after they’ve checked out of the AirBnBeeber.  That’s right, those crazy nuts that also go by the name Grandma and Grandpa, just cannot help themselves and need to let us know what we’ve done wrong.

For some reason the current Grandma and Grandpa generation just cannot enjoy an experience without sharing their important unsolicited advice that I have “coined” as criticism. 

For example, there was recently a note left behind, two-sided, front and back, that expressed how we could have, “made their stay nicer,” if we would have, “installed a larger refrigerator and a microwave oven.”

This was so important to the guests that they both texted and emailed us to let us know they left said note for us in case we missed it or thought it was trash, since it was written on a piece of trash.

It was hard to miss the red, bold, Sharpie pen ink.

If you are not feeling what I am emoting it is heavy silence. My face has become hard and my eyes are shooting daggers into an imaginary target.

Preposterous.

Then there was the sixty-nine year old hippie that needed, needed, us to immediately return our sink and vanity to IKEA and purchase a larger, wider and deeper unit like the ones at Crate and Barrel (this from a legit hippie) or take the overhead matching cabinet off the wall and install it two feet higher so he didn’t feel like he was going to bump his head while brushing his teeth.

He also wanted to show us how he had rearranged the room and thought it worked better with the murphy bed raised…in raising it himself without the know how he busted the mounted reading lights, broke the bed’s feet off, and could have maimed himself from his own stupidity had he not called us in to complain about our bathroom vanity.

I’m laughing. Truly, I’m laughing. What an asshole. 

Preposterous.

Then there was the lovely woman traveling alone (right-on!), that also left us a long, two-sided note of all the things we should add to the unit to make it nicer:

Lemon Tea

Chamomile Tea

Mint Tea

Herbal Tea

Lavender Tea

Chai Tea

Rose Water Tea

Jasmine Tea

Oolong Tea

Sleepy-Time Tea

Tension Tamer Tea

Green Tea

 

I’m confused, additional tea options? Could have just said that. Or gone to the market across the street and picked up the flavor you like. 

Preposterous.

And finally, for now, we will come to the one couple that left us a note regarding money. They wanted to let us know how nice our studio is, but that we are just not the best value because we’re not…wait for it… a hotel. Maybe if we added a pool or hot tub we could compete with the better hotels around Los Angeles… let’s get one thing straight we cost a fraction of what the Best Western up the way charges, so it cannot be the nightly charge, right?

So, wait, WHAT?

Preposterous.

The teenager in me wants to talk back and tell them how stupid they sound, but there’s a little fear I may be grounded and not heard. AmIRight? 

 

 

Book Excerpt – Two-Fer Tuesdays

pexels-photoIt was Tuesday, and I was sitting at my desk, which was two medium strides away from the bathroom, and my dead-end job was promising to bind me to it for eternity.

I had the unique and questionable privilege of being able to observe every person walking in and out of the bathroom. My co-workers, whom I also referred to as “Work Friends,” felt a deep sense of obligation to chat me up every time they used the loo… which was often, and in some cases (Derrick) too often, much to my chagrin.


“Please come to Happy Hour tonight. It’s Two-Fer Tuesdays; that’s two drinks for the price of one, but they give them both to you at the same time. We can split the cost of one drink, but each actually get a full drink of our own!” The Cogs in the machine, that’s what I called us and when I say ‘Us’ I mean the ones of us that dedicated our work hours to work and got paid a pittance for it. This was Elaine; a cog. She was always trying to make it OKAY for me to spend money with work people after work hours.

“What if I just want water?” That is how I treated Elaine: with obnoxious requests I knew she would accept.

“Yes! So you’ll come! Yay! Also, do you know Adeline?”

“No,” and frankly I wasn’t interested in knowing Adeline or anyone else from the company on a personal level. I didn’t want another excuse to NOT walk away from this job. I didn’t want it to become more bearable by making friends. I liked being the loner here.

“You’ll love her. She’s new, one of them, but you’ll love-love-love her, promise.” By Them Elaine was referring to the Marketing people. And I was suspicious of her promises of “love-love-love”.

The Marketing Team was the Pride of the company. The rest of us were just trying to survive out on the Serengeti of day jobs. And since your title defined your merit, it was difficult to blame them for believing they were the very best of the company.

I needed to get out of this Happy Hour.

“Shoot… I forgot, I might have something I already committed to, but I’ll let you know for sure by the end of the day.”

Elaine could see through my poor attempt at a lie, but honestly, the title “Marketing” was equivalent to Narcissist, and I just didn’t want to spend the evening biting my tongue and fighting the urge to challenge this newbie every time she wanted to dominate the conversation with her branding ideas. Or the numerous accolades awarded her in MBA school.

Gag.

As I watched Elaine walk away disappointed, I knew I was going to end up going, and maybe split the cost of a drink with her, and talk to this new Marketing woman – Adeline, and maybe make a new friend.

Gag.

The Other Night…

The winds in Los Angeles the past few evenings have felt abrupt and out of place, much like the rains we experienced this past winter. They’ve spread allergies and coughs and viruses, much to the chagrin of every parent, daycare and otherwise sane person. All that hell aside, in the middle of another evening of howling winds knocking down trash bins and whipping open latched gates at will, we had a real situation Thursday night, at 2:07AM.

Jack was having a restless sleep, tossing and turning until he woke himself up and called out for a snuggle around 1:40 AM. Jason sprung into action for that special, middle of the night Jack cuddle time, so down a body in the bed, I starfished myself right out and fell back asleep before I ever really feigned getting up for Jack. Before I ever made it to REM sleep I was trapped in a hellish half-sleep/half-awake-nightmare. Somewhere from the depths of someone’s soul there was a bellowing cry echoing off the mountain and reverberating throughout our home. At first I feared it was Jack and my subconscious was not allowing my conscious state to waken and I couldn’t get to him; I was trapped in sleep-purgatory.

The bellowing yell got louder and I could feel my conscious self pushing through the paralysis of my sleep-state until I sat straight up, blinking a thousand times while catching my breath. Jack was NOT crying and Jason was still missing from the bed and on a second glance at the clock, I saw a mere fifteen minutes had passed since I’d fallen back to sleep. Then, as if on cue to remind me why I’d stirred back awake, there came the same bellowing call for help, only this time I was hearing it with woken ears and a very present mind and it was more ominous and menacing than my half dream state allowed me to grasp.

The voice was oscillating – at one moment it sounded as though it was right outside my window and then almost immediately it sounded like it was coming from down the road and then immediately outside my window, again. The voice so deep, so loud it made me shake on the inside. Finally, I heard the words:

SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE.

PLEASE.

SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE.

PLEASE.

 

 

 

somebody call the police.

please.

…..police.

 

This was not the voice of someone in trouble, though. It was not the sound of a crisis. It was hypnotic and foreboding and terrifying, I promise you.

I timidly pulled back the curtain a sliver and peered into the night, looking and searching for the man making the noise as it grew closer and closer to the house, yet again. And I saw my gate was hanging wide open, yet the wind had stopped. Fear shook through me; he was in my yard, but I couldn’t see him. There were no eyes peering back as far as I could stretch my vision through the dark. And when the bellow of PLEASE was right on top on me, I let go of the curtain and ran downstairs for my phone.

I dialed the numbers 9-1-1, send. Hurry. Answer. Hurry.

911 Operator: 9-1-1 – What’s your emergency?

There’s a man – I think it’s a man – somewhere, I think in my yard, yelling from somewhere wild in his belly, for someone to call the police.

911 Operator: And can you see him?

No, I cannot.

911 Operator: But he’s in your yard?

Yes. I think so. Or maybe not, but he’s close. Somewhere close. Listen, do you hear that? That’s him.

911 Operator: I’m sending a car now.

I hung up. I wanted to ask her to stay on the phone with me until the police arrived.

“Jaime?” It was Jason, thank God for Jason. He was whispering, not because he didn’t want to wake-up Jack, but because he was scared. He didn’t want the voice to hear that we were awake, that we felt vulnerable, that we could be his enemies.

“I’m here, I’m here,” I whispered back as I ran up the stairs to meet him.

When I hit the landing of the staircase I saw him, clutching tightly to Jack who stirred in his sleep, and we ran back into our room cradling our baby and waiting for the police as the sound of the voice grew, and grew, and grew. The echo of his pleas haunting us.

There were no sirens when the police arrived, we only knew they’d arrived when we saw the beams of light from their tactical flashlights.

The “Voice” saw the lights of the police as well and suddenly the tone changed. Now the sound of panic and fear, manipulating the previous sound of strength into cowardice, “I’m up here! I’m up here! Help me! I’m up here!”

We gazed out the window to see who was brilliantly managing their voice with such precision and where. And as we followed the beam of the police light up, up, up. There stood a man atop the apex of our neighbor’s roof, peering down at the four men in blue. He who had beckoned the police officers to the spot was almost childlike now, displaying a sense of innocence and underdog cowardice he gently announced, “I’m stuck.”

The ensuing conversation between the rapidly growing police presence, now a dozen large, and the “Voice” on the roof top is not worthy of the character count it would eat up on this post, trust me. It was boring, benign if I’m being generous. The usual patter of please and thank you, but one detail has remained with me: he said he had been chased. Chased by something, but he was not sure what. Chased from the freeway, past the train tracks, and all the way up the roof of this house.

And that was it. There was no follow-up, questioning. No inquiry to description. And no what happened to the “thing” chasing you. As I said before, the exchange was boring.

Personally I do not think the “Thing” is gone. It never stopped chasing him. I think the “Thing” got him. It resides inside him. Dueling with itself, showing fragility in the face of authority, but commanding power over its victim when he’s alone. If his mental disorder is not engineered by the Meth that is rampantly spreading like a disease in our gentrified neighborhood, then it’s the cause of his own genetic make-up breeding chaos in this man’s life.

I will leave you with this: he stood, silently, handcuffed for nearly half an hour while the police officers slowly peeled off, leaving the original two and one more car for safety. Eventually a silent ambulance arrived and with that the entire ordeal was over. Erased. The block empty, peaceful and quiet, the way it should be at 2:30 AM, and the way I hope this man’s mind can find itself again some day. 

I Hid A Bag of Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds – For My Sanity.

IMG_5002I am wildly uptight when it comes to cleanliness and basic household etiquette. Think Monica from ‘Friends,’ but maybe a little worse (and for another day, let’s discuss the ‘Friends’ Haters… just stop, people. Stop it. I’ve watched it so many times, forwards and backwards, and you’re wrong; it’s delightful, and perfect, period).

My mother has long referred to me as fastidious.

I suppose cleaning is my way of controlling the chaos of life. There are worse “habits” used to control the uncontrollable, like not eating, binging & purging, excessive exercise, and I’ve dabbled with them all; but honestly cleaning is the one that makes me feel the most in control amidst the chaos. It’s not just the act of cleaning, it’s that a clean environment allows me to relax. And as far as addiction and personalities go, I repeat, there are far worse things than being fastidious.

It’s not just cleaning. I have to set hard boundaries within my living environment, too. You are allowed to be yourself in my home and not conform to my standards of cleanliness and I’m okay with it, but if you start to impose upon my boundaries I freak the fuck out. Maybe you do too and maybe you don’t even know it…

I have an almost 2-year-old toddler. Guess what he does? He throws food on the floor and thinks it’s funny, so I laugh and also try to teach him that food stays on our plate or at least on the table or preferably in your mouth to consume. And I don’t freak out, because he’s a baby and I can clean it and it’s totally fine. But when my 35-year-old brother in law does it and doesn’t give two craps about who will be cleaning it and what stain it may leave or that it’s happened at all, I start to panic. I swallow down the annoyance that starts to build up inside of me. I push it deep, deep down and I breath and smile, and I stare daggers at him, but I bury the pending freak out because he’s my guest, and family to boot.

I stare at his brother (my husband) and wait for a signal that it will all be fine and that he will clean it up and then I take several deep breaths, plan a 4 mile run, skip the next two meals, and buy and squirrel away a giant bag of dark chocolate covered almonds to shame-eat secretly, without sharing, and it calms the monster brewing in my belly.

You guys! It’s not just dropping food on the floor with abandon that gets under my skin: it’s the week’s worth of toothpaste stains on my new dark wood bookcase; it’s his toenail clippings in my high pile shag rug; it’s razor blades on the floor of the shower my toddler bathes in; it’s a beer bottle cap in the small hands of my 21-month-old who desperately tries to shove the jagged edged piece of metal down his throat after scraping it along his tongue.

Daggers staring down a dead man walking.

It’s wet underwear strewn across my front porch and wet towels left on top of stuffed animals to grow unneeded mildew and create more laundry that will be left for me to do. It’s empty Starbucks cups and plastic straws littering my front lawn. It is used tea bags everywhere, except in the trash.

It is so much more. It’s interminable.

And, AND it is all so unnecessary. UNNECESSARY. There are towel hooks for wet towels; there’s a dryer for your underwear; there’s a trashcan in so many different rooms plus several outside for EVERYTHING ELSE!

My eye is twitching right now, you guys. Writing this out for you is almost like reliving the frustration.

I watched for a week as our baby gates were treated as mere decorative obstacles and left open for his 35-year-old male convenience whilst my nearly 2-year-old eyeballed the staircase with Olympic-gymnast-enthusiasm.

I tell you this not to be a tattletale, not to open myself up to criticism regarding my rigidity, not to hurt feelings, but to understand myself better because I didn’t handle it well you guys. I did not.

You see, I couldn’t stop him, I couldn’t clean fast enough. The mess was OUT OF CONTROL! Dirt, stains, odor… CHAOS!

I set boundaries and I believed that manners were/are self-evident. I believed baby-proofing, dining tables, and towel hooks should invite use. I expected our houseguest to know all of this without having to be told. My home is not a hotel; that’s the guesthouse out back (see that blog post) and for God’s sake the total strangers renting that out treat it better (and pay us) than my B-I-L treated our actual home while we lived in it with him for a week.

And then I lost it.

At him. On him.

I freaked the fuck out.

And I told him that towel hooks are for wet towels to be HUNG ON and baby gates are not for the convenience of adults to use at will, but to protect the life of a BABY, and that knives & razorblades & sharp jagged beer bottle caps are DEADLY WHEN SWALLOWED and that it is MY HOUSE and he should TREAT IT WITH RESPECT.

Silence.

Slowly he opened his mouth and without an ounce of thought he yelled back. Absurdities such as, ‘he didn’t know that it would require work to live with a baby’ and that ‘he didn’t know that toddlers cannot comprehend basic safety.’

The irony.

So I banished him to his (my son’s) room where he screamed and threatened to leave (on the eve of his flight home).

I agreed he should leave. A hotel is a much better place to treat with reckless abandon.

He said nothing.

He didn’t leave.

And after an hour of separation and a loaded dishwasher and cleaned counters later, I invited him to come back downstairs.

He picked up where he left off – sullying every square foot of surface area I had just spent a very angry hour cleaning to regain the control I had lost.

That one cleaning left me with a night’s worth of control, and I felt better long enough to wish him well on his flight, take a family picture with genuine smiles, and not resent the weekend-visit-turned-into-9-long-days.

My house is not completely back in order by my standards, but it is back in my control and I can sleep more soundly tonight.

And those dark chocolate covered almonds are now out in the open for everyone to share, by everyone I mean new visitors and Jason.

Armchair Psychologist

IMG_4982Hm.

You know what’s hard? Accepting people even though you know they’re assholes. Obnoxious assholes. Obnoxious Assholes who represent everything WRONG about other people.

What a dick thing to say. I get it, you either relate to what I’m saying or I’m the obnoxious asshole in your opinion. Valid.

Like you, I am bound by my civility to accept everyone, flaws and all… no, really.

“Love your neighbor…”

“Be the change…”

“Do unto others…”

It’s not like I can gather 700,000 protestors to march against the stupidity of one bad acquaintance, or neighbor, or peer… or can I? No, that would make me the bad person and on the wrong side of right and I need to be on the right side of right because I need to be RIGHT.

Ugh.

You see my dilemma.

It’s frustrating.

The more obtuse they become the more indignant I find myself.

I’ve begun to dissect the minutiae of conversations with the obnoxious assholes surrounding my immediate space. I maddeningly map out all their exasperating behaviors: how it transpired; in what context; what was said leading up to it; and the response immediately following.

I combine all that with the little bit of history I have learned about them. The people they’ve dated, married, divorced. Do they have pets, bought, adopted rescued, dogs, cats… rats.

After I’ve pieced together the puzzle of their personality from a million different perspectives, I then refer to Psychology Today while cross-referencing WebMD to make my best analysis of whether or not they indeed have a personality disorder (which, yeah, of course they do) and I label them in my own personal file folder: The Narcissist.

Typical.

Right?

But I cannot be satisfied with my own analyses; I need the reassurances of others. So I gossip about these obnoxious assholes. I emphatically underscore my righteousness while stressing the misgivings of the Narcissist and then I wait, smugly grinning until I am told how brilliant my assessment is, which rarely comes because everybody wants to play Devil’s Advocate these days. Everybody wants to do the work themselves’ and come to their own conclusions. No one wants to take my word for it.

Assholes.

And now I have another asshole to analyze and the cycle begins again. Part of me wonders if this is the reason I am slowly losing my mind or if I am sharper than I’ve ever been. Who is to say?

Well anybody psychoanalyzing me right now based on this blog post, for starters.

Armchair Psychologist? Maybe. Or ten years of therapy, a lifetime spent as an observational writer, and a child of Crazy, is rather how I like to define my resume, but that’s not over-qualifying me either.

Maybe I’m becoming the intolerable asshole.

Maybe.

Who Me? Change? Never.

I don’t write parenting posts because having a kid hasn’t changed me.

img_1540

Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Change, you ask? First, now I wear high-waisted jeans and think they’re the “bomb.” Kill me… no, don’t! Please don’t do that EVER! I have a baby now and I need to be right here for him forever.

Did you just read my light-hearted joke and the fact that I immediately retracted it in fear that someone would read that seriously? Like the Universe might not get that I was joking when I said, “kill me”and just might send in the Grim Reaper??? Did you just read all that? Yeah, that’s new. New panic. Death – in jest or in reality – has me very anxious now.

Also, every time I hear the word “kill” in a children’s movie or cartoon I think, “SERIOUSLY?? I DON’T WANT THAT WORD AROUND MY KID! WHY DOES HE NEED TO HEAR THE WORD “KILL” FROM A DISNEY MOVIE… OR EVER? HE DOES NOT NEED THAT WORD IN HIS LIFE!” I would rather he say the word “fuck” by mistake than the word “kill.” I mean that. But please don’t let him go around saying the word fuck either.

If I wasn’t clear, I’m trying to say I have changed and mostly for the better… (whispers) in my honest opinion.

For example, I don’t put myself down so much anymore, especially about the physical things, like my face…or my body image. Because my son is beautiful and I want him to grow up without insecurity and self-hate. I want him to see himself (and he will see a lot of his mom in him) and know he is perfect the way he is… because he is. So I try harder to feel love for myself so he’ll know how to love himself, too.

And, I don’t care as much about the things I cannot change, instead I concentrate on those things I can

I cannot change the fact that Trump was elected president, but I can be an active participant in making sure our country isn’t devastated by the actions he and his merry band of thieves try to enact.

I cannot change the way some folks see me or feel about me, but I can change the way I feel about it.

I cannot change the fact that I am an aging actress who has not yet met her big break, but I can change the way that sentence reads: I am an actor who has been so lucky to work and continue to pursue work with the same enthusiasm I’ve had from day one.

I have better insight now because I see the world through my son’s eyes, everything is new and shiny, and bright and I don’t want to take that away from him ever.

I’ve changed, yes, becoming a parent has made me a little soft (both physically and emotionally), it has made me brave, and most importantly it has made the important things far more evident than they were.

Just in case you were worried there were only good things, here is a list of the bad things that have changed since becoming a parent:

  1. I have no patience when my husband interrupts my five minutes of alone time (which is also known as Mom’s Shower Time) to brush his teeth, pee-pee, or bring in our toddler to say, “hi.”
  2. I do not have time for stupid people now. They used to be amusing, now they’re just a time-zap.
  3. I eat painfully, horribly, and without structure and it sucks, but we’ll get back there Food, we will.
  4. Dates nights are near non-existent.
  5. My clothing money goes to a constantly growing toddler.
  6. I worry a lot more. Yes, it is possible.
  7. If there’s a poopy odor, it’s usually because there’s poop… on me.
  8. Everybody wants to know when I’m going to have more babies. This is annoying. I do not need to have another child to be a good parent or fulfilled mother and if I do have another child I don’t have to be the one that carries it (I can adopt/foster/or trade) and frankly you either only have one more child than me or have no children so WTF? Step off. Thank you.

Life is good.

As I Ramble On…

I’ve tried writing a blog post so many times this week. Between work, Jack, life, and family visiting it has proven to be nearly impossible. Those are excuses. I know. But it’s also a lot of truth.

A promise is a promise, though and so I shall write a post and in the spirit of multitasking I will also write my grocery list. I need help…

Grocery List:

Healthy Snacks (whatever that means, I’ll know it when I see it)

Fruit, Fruit, Fruit, but nothing that’s not in season because that just gets left for the gnats

Vegetables… what can I buy and let rot in the fridge drawer?

Protein – are we pescadorian? Are we trying for vegetarian? Are we eating meat? Absolutely no pork ever, that’s just not happening.

Milk – Whole for the baby, but are we back on Almond?

Half and Half I need the fat in my coffee, I don’t care if I’m lactose intolerant or not, just get the half & half.

Yogurt – full fat, YOLO!

Cottage Cheese? This is not a substitute for actual cheese.

Cheese – Sliced, Shredded, a wedge of goat’s milk gouda, string for snacking? Is this a lot of dairy?

Hummus – all the hummus.

Lettuce! I know the last bag went bad, but we’re working a lot. I just want to eat salads all day. Every day.

Kidney Beans for salads.

Tuna Fish – unless we have some, make sure to check before we leave (I know we won’t. This is why we have like 12 cans of tuna)

Ice Cream? No.

Cookies – Biscotti is not a cookie, it’s a compliment to my coffee

Pitafor all the hummus… or should we get veggies?

Eggs – I wish we could afford the brown ones they sound more humane

Meals for Jack – what does this mean? I’ll think of it when we’re there. Technically this means meals for all of us, but you know it’s important he eats well rounded and balanced meals.

Chips? Okay, but sweet potato chips, less sodium… and I don’t know… So, Salsa?

Pasta – lots of it. Gluten free, full gluten, stars, let’s just get all the pasta, Jack loves pasta.

**AND make sure no register impulse buys today. Dammit Trader Joes you make checking out impossible.