Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Congratulations, you've got cancer! or "A Topical Topic"

So I was applying a new lotion last night--you know, some good-smelly stuff--that a friend had given me as a gift. Apparently he gave it to me to "balance me out"--that's what the label claims this particular lotion is capable of, and, if some scented goo can accomplish what neither collective years of therapy nor a myriad of antidepressants have been unable to, well, then ALL HAIL THE GOO.

So here I am, a-slathering away, when I notice a very unusual thing: it seems this particular lotion not only comes with a convenient single-serving pump...it also comes with an *ahem* warning label.

"What's this?," I ask, eyebrows raised.

Interest piqued, I click on my bedside light and read the following message. For your convenience, I will CAPS LOCK the most interesting parts.

Ready?

"Warning: This product contains a chemical known to he state of California TO CAUSE CANCER. Do not use if...(blah, blah, blah.) Studies have shown that THE USE OF INGREDIENTS IN THIS PRODUCT MAY POSE A RISK TO YOUR HEALTH. Discontinue if...(blah, blah, blah.)"

Does anyone else see a problem here?

Or am I the only one struck by this very unusual ad campaign:

Arbonne Essentials Prolief: Hydrates As It Kills You (also considered: Arbonne Essentials Prolief: for those who prefer a soft-handed corpse.)

I am a hypochondriac. Do not cough next to me. I WILL imagine my death from the plague. Do not sneeze in my vicinity. I will gargle with Purell. And, for the LOVE OF GOD, do not try to balance me out with cancer-ridden lotions! Not only will I race to the bathroom and scrub my hands raw, but I will also do the unthinkable--blog about it!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Powdered Oatmeal

I think, initially, it's the sound that I miss.
The shuffling and banging downstairs, even as my eyes refuse to open.
The dreaded opening of the door.
The harshness of the light.
Brutal.
"Time to get up."

Even among the protests--the groans and the roll overs and the "Noooooo"s--resistance was futile.
It was morning and you were getting up. To too lumpy or too runny powdered oatmeal. To fights over access to the bathroom. To "You have to leave in 20 minutes."
Yes, it was morning and you were getting up.
End of story.

...

I live on my own now, for the first time in my life.
And, as I am presently on break, I do not have to set my morning alarm.
I can wake up leisurely and whenever I choose.

The thought gives me panic attacks.

As soon as my mind becomes conscious, it knows something is terribly wrong.

There are no noises in the kitchen. No shuffling. No banging of pots and pans.

It knows that no one is coming. To open the door. To turn on the light. To force me to get up.

Somehow it knows that I am alone and that no one, save myself, is here to usher me into the new day.

...

I am alone.

And lonely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Hotrock, On North Star, On Double Entendre

By my father's definition, I am insane.
By Jeremy Riegel's, I am sensitive.
By any number of various others, I am disposable.

Today I sank to a level and rose to a height that I ne'er before conceived possible.

My friends, today I moved mountains.

Today, for the first time in nearly 20 years, I reverted to a time before I was broken.

And the harbinger of my time-traveling adventure...the winged Pegasus on which I climbed...the purveyor of my starved soul's Houdini feat...was a borrowed SR Suntour Hotrock.

That's right. Today I RODE A BIKE.

It's no Knights Templar secret that, in many ways, I've clung to the past like Reynolds wrap to a casserole dish, desperately trying to relive, reconfigure, retry, redo and outdo my former me.

The results, like the cellophane wrap, have proven difficult to navigate, impossible to manage, and frustrating to the point of exhaustion.

So recently, I have given up said activity. The past, while vivid to me, is unattainable, and, like grabbing for a 10 foot up snack with a 2 foot up stepladder, I simply ain't got the reach to get me there.

But in letting go of the bad aspects of the past, it seems I have made a blunder in the present: namely that, having a grasp on the past provides peace of mind in the present, assuming of course that in the presence of the present one is recalling the positives of the past.

Follow that? *wink*

Alliteration and allegory aside, (note the differing uses of the word "present" and its derivatives) I'm basically saying that when you put your past behind you, you lose a lot of bad stuff. But you lose a lot of good stuff too.

When epiphanies of 2011 allowed me to bury the past out back with the hatchet, I patted down dirt on the whole damned thing. All the tears, all the tears (tears--like "present" in that, while spelled the same, two differing meanings present themselves. And yea, the use of "present" at the end of that statement was intentional. I'm just that fucking brilliant. Or insane. Or sensitive. Or disposable.) all the war wounds and battle scars...all were buried. But so were the smiles.

This bike is too big for me. When on it, I cannot touch the ground with my feet. Which was perfect, really.

Legs dangling, I was shaky at first, wobbling back and forth as I did when the experience was new. I couldn't remember what the numbers on the handle bars meant. I almost fell over when attempting to change gears. I took a turn like the world's eldest nursing home patient and still managed to flail about on the wrong side of the road. But when I got going, I remembered the sensation that came with the wind in my hair. And I was transported.

I grew up in a neighborhood marked by four things: an abundance of trees, a lake, my best friend Stephanie's house, and hills. Lots of them. It was in this shady, lake-loving, friend-building place that I learned to ride my first two-wheel bicycle. It was called a North Star (I know because I used to make up commercials for it in my family room. And, lest you ask, yes, I still remember the jingle I came up with for the commercial. The ending? "North Star." Said with the tone, inflection and whispery cheese of "Soul Glow" in "Coming To America." Try it. I know you want to.) I got it for Christmas, and it had a banana seat and purple accents. I went everywhere on that bike.

Before cars or boyfriends or high school dances--right around the time I used to choreograph routines to Prince's "Diamonds and Pearls" on a deserted lot on my street--my bike was my ticket to freedom from my mini-world that, aside from unfettered (if unfostered) imagination, offered me none. I used to fly on that bicycle. Up hills. Down hills. No brakes.

Never any brakes.

My friend Kelli always used her breaks.
She fell once. And got Staph infection from the cuts.

I wonder whatever happened to her...

I wonder whatever happened to me...

There was once a time I was really good at this--flying at incomparable speeds, fearing nothing but the temporary slow of the cul de sac.

Where is that girl? Did I bury her with the hatchet? Or did she suffocate long before?

My legs are tight from pedaling. And my crotch hurts. Seems that when you're an adult they no longer outfit you with a banana seat. Shame really. It was a leisurely seat on which to escape the tears...and tears...

A couple of laps and a couple of flights later, I am tired. Getting a bike around the block is difficult, and getting it up two flights of stairs will take one to the borderline of a psychotic break.

Which brings me back to my beginning. Maybe I am crazy. Or sensitive. Or disposable.

To you.

Maybe I am a break-neck speed North Star banana seat rider with wind in my hair and Prince in my ear to me.

In truth, there are many times I don't know who in the hell I am.

The only thing I do know for sure is that I want to talk to the girl flying down the hills of Lake Forrest subdivision.

She's too swift to catch though. No fear in that one.

She says she is going to grow up to be a famous actress. And famous novelist. She practices her acceptance speeches for awards shows and appearances on Oprah. She choreographs dances because she knows Broadway will want her input when putting on its next smash hit. She pedals around on a North Star. No brakes. Never any brakes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Standard Deviation" or "Whatever Do You MEAN?"

Standard deviation: from probability theory/statistics: a widely-used measure of variability or diversity that shows how much variation or "dispersion" exists from the average (mean).

A low standard deviation indicates that the data points tend to be very close to the mean, whereas high standard deviation indicates that the data points are spread out over a large range of values.

Deviation. Deviant. Apart from the "norm" or "standard."

In other words (ie. plain English): just exactly how fucking weird are you?

Where does your data point fall?

I've always felt a bit like an outsider. When other children were pretending to be horses on the elementary school playground (Stephanie Lipsky and Nicole Quinn), I and my friends were discussing birth control (I wish I were making this up.) When my gymnastics group lined up their equipment for performance, I refused to release mine. Why should I trust some other bozo with my equipment? I put the stickers on that shit, I should get to hold it!

When it came to childrens' games, I always took over--not because I wanted to rule the roost, per se. Just because I saw the inefficiencies on how things were being done (by 8 year-olds) and decided from that tender age that I could "do it better."

Despite the bredth of my academic pursuits, I've had few classes that incorporated bell curves. But in each of those you could count on me to be the one asshole to throw the average. (Econ 1101 an obvious exception.)

Yes. I learned early the value of "maximize profits while minimizing risks." Or minimizing others. Guess I have been guilty of that too... I made a life of attempting to live at the apex of the bell curve.

And ironically, I think it may have made me mean.

Lately I've been thinking about life's little bell curve. The apexes and the fringes and the data points in between. I've been thinking of where I fall on the curve...and where I used to fall...and whether or not the deviation between those two points means that I am falling.

And when does falling become failing? Or failing become flailing?

Have I deviated too far from the mean?

And if so, what does that mean?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paranoia, Paranoia Everybody's Comin' To Get Me

It's a familiar feeling: that sucker punch in your gut, accompanied by a sudden, wrenching oh-my-God-I'm-gonna-vomit nausea.

Yep.

It can only be one of two things: 1. You're pregnant. And likely far along. Or 2. Someone is definitely lying to you.

Assuming the first choice is out of the question, (Ha. "Choice"...easily an ethical/political debate spur there...meditate on it.) the mind immediately races to the second: "Holy shit. Is this person actually standing here in front of me, lying through their lying liar teeth?"

Do we have a "pants on fire" situation here?

The rational decision in such a cirmstance (should we choose to take it) would be to jump to...um...rationale...to search for answers. "Perhaps I am misunderstanding this." "Perhaps I am misreading this." "Perhaps when I walked in the room and saw my boyfriend boning the Fizzoli's waitress, he actually was just trying to get something out of her eye. With his penis."

For the purposes of this missive, apparently "rationale" will heretofore substitute for "denial."

But, as many of us opt NOT for rationale, but rather for the "completely flying off the proverbial handle" maneuver, that gut-kick-vomit-gag experience is usually followed by a two-octave, volume 11, wake the neighbors, break the China then break his/her face scenario.

It's happened.

Once or twice.

So what do you do when you know, instinctively, that someone is lying to you? Which route does your internal GPS navigate?

Do we choose rationale (ahem, denial) or full-force, full-throttle attack?

Which yields more positive results? Repression and resentment that will likely later be taken out on an unwitting postman or literally just going postal?

And what happens if you're wrong?

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Tip of the Hat: MISS PISSED or Hyperbole And A Half

Ever have one of those moments where you realize that the situation at hand calls for an emotional reaction of, say, a 4 or 5 on the ten scale...but you, for some reason, are clocking in at a solid 8?

It starts simply.

Like with a parking lot.

Just drivin' around, lookin' for a space.

A minute later, slightly flustered, still drivin'. Appropriate irritation level: 2. Erin's personal irritation level: generally a 4.

Five minutes later, STILL driving, finally spot a space. Appropriate elation level: 5. Erin's elation level: akin to world conquest.

Go to pull into said space, douchebag in a Chevy Cobalt whips in. Crooked. Appropriate emotional response: 6.5. It involves yelling. Some fist waving. Perhaps a rude gesture. Erin's emotional response: Erin cannot come to the phone right now. Erin is too busy horsewhipping a mother who, having just parked at the neighborhood Kroger, was attempting to unbuckle a child from the rear seat of a Chevy Cobalt.

Yes, yes, yes.

This kind of thing happens to me all the time. And usually, my response remains static: "The situation obviously called for action. Good thing I brought along my pick axe..."

But lately I fear the horsewhip and pick axe may be lashing and hacking the prospectus of justice (yes, it now comes in the form of a convenient, pocket-sized leaflet) a bit too often.

Like at my bathroom sink. Which WILL NOT, despite all attempts to the contrary, flow without shuddering so violently that the reverberation knocks over that basket-thingy that hangs from the shower head. Appropriate emotional response regarding the clunky fall of my soap from the hangy-thing dish: 3. My actual emotional response: I'll let you know once I've finished tearing the 106 year old sink from its wall mount.

You see, it's not that I'm insane per se. It's really just that I feel things more deeply than other people. And I should know. My therapists, my parents, my teachers, my bosses and the voices in my head have confirmed this on several occasions.

And the Saint John's Wort doesn't help. Neither does the Prozac, the Zoloft, the Lexapro, the Wellbutrin, the Effexor or any other SSRI, MAOI or any other anagram the market has to offer.

You go out of town for two days? Normal "miss" factor: 4. Erin's "miss" factor: add a coupla zeros to the end.

You say something insensitive? Normal "pissed" factor: 7. Erin's "pissed" factor: ask me as I leave your stupid ass at the 7-11.

Choose to leave my life forever, claiming any number of whiny, woe-is-me excuses? Normal "miss/pissed" factor: 9. Erin's "miss/pissed" factor: I may not like loud noises, but when I'm pissed my hands are steady. When I aim, I DON'T MISS.

Wow. That got negative in a hurry. Actual scale of negativity of last statement: 10. Level of negativity necessary to drive point home: 6. Thus making me at a current Overreaction Scale level of +4.

Not bad for a Monday morning.

Aw, for heaven's sake. Come out from under your desk, you big baby. I'm not going to shoot you. Damned thing's not even loaded anyway...

But I am gonna cry if you go away for a few days. And I am gonna laugh louder than anyone else in the room at a joke that clearly only rated a 5.6. I will take it personally and seriously when it was meant with a wink. And I will wink inappropriately when you wish to God that I would, "straighten up and take this seriously."

If it calls for a 3, I will give you a 6. Which, I guess, means if you're needing a 6, I'll give you a 9.

There goes that inappropriate wink again...

Guess you could say I'm just programed this way. Maybe I am Hyperbole And A Half.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cloven

I'm not a smoker.
Never have been.
But I tell you, I'd give my December rent for a pack of Djarums right now.

It's the end of the semester, and I have plenty of time but zero energy. Hiya Ovid, Camus? Just call me Sisyphus. And this guy? Oh yeah. THIS is my boulder.

All my life, I've been tempted by the proverbial "view from the top"--believing that once I get there--if only I can reach that summit--then finally I can rest. And finally I will be able to look down on the struggle, stare out across the progress, and up at the possibilities.

They say you can see for miles up there. That the world somehow makes sense when viewed from above.

Down here, I see nothing. Too much sweat in my eyes.

Polygnotus immortalized his Sisyphus on an urn. My immortality likely lies in one.

Ashes to ashes, as they say.

The gray waste of a clove cigarette.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

If only

"If only I could go back and do it over, I would change...": a phrase whose antiquation can only be matched by the close cousin, "If only I could go back and give myself one piece of advice it would be..."

If only...

As a girl who clings to the past and displays a blatant disregard for the present, I literally live in the land of "If only" most of my waking time. I tarry there the way some choose to dally in the den of denial or scrutinize in the cell of cynicism (another frequent hangout of mine. Nice place. Good coffee.)

Unnecessary and irksome alliterative anecdotes aside, I guess you could say I obsess in "if onlys" because I--like so many others--wish I had made different choices. Until today, I was okay with this knowledge.

Today I am not okay.

Today I realized that if only I could go back...If only I could change things...

I WOULDN'T CHANGE A DAMNED THING.


Why?

There are so many things that I could make better. Or, at least, not make worse. There are so many mistakes I could sidestep, so many untaken paths I could choose to travel.

But as of today, I recognize that I COULDN'T make any of those choices and remain who I have become. And what's more important is that I WOULDN'T. As of today, I wouldn't chose to make one thing better. As of today, I choose to take life at its worst. Given the option, I would once again choose to step headlong into those mistakes and leave those rosy paths the hell alone.

I am who I am today because of every one of those missteps, mishaps and mistakes.

I have no advice for a younger me. In fact, I spoke with her earlier today in the car. She asked me for advice, and I refused to offer any. She yelled at me and threatened me with a strong bitchslap. I'd have taken it, except that doing so would've caused a traffic accident.

I've spent my life thinking I needed to change--feeling as if I needed a re-do to be better--as if I needed to make different choices to "come out of this okay" (or alive.)
But I AM okay. I AM alive.

And I am not going to change or apologize unless I want to. Now.

So this is living in the present?

I think I like it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Punch Drunk Love

If Marshall Mathers had a million dollars, he'd "buy a damned brewery and turn the planet into alcoholics."

Me?

I'd likely get a boat.

Or someone to edit this freakin' short film...

When I worked at a certain newspaper, a certain editor of mine (Let's call him Brian Clark) had a certain saying that went a lil' somethin' like this: "Make it happen."

Can't get a lead on a story? "Make it happen."
Can't get the Mayor on the phone? "Make it happen."
Can't string two coherent sentences together because Brian Clark has hidden your "thinking bat" behind the obnoxious stuffed Aflac Duck on a sled? Yep. You guessed it: "Make it happen."

Basically it means "no excuses."
"Failure's not an option."
Or, my favorite, "NO WHINING."

As whiners often inflame my inner sense of "shut the hell up before I bitchslap you in the mouth," I tend to try to avoid said activity by either: a) resorting to epic bitchery or b). scowling (seems the laser beams that shoot from my eyes are often quite enough to communicate my irritated inner monologue: "My God, you are a fucking idiot. It is incomprehensible to me how you remember to feed yourself. You know what would please me at this moment? If you were to reenact for me the conclusion of Thelma and Louise. Nope. I don't care which character you choose--although you look more like Gina Davis than Susan Sarandon. Either way, that's not the point. The ending is all I'm looking for here. Yes. Yes, you imbecile. Both characters DIE at the end.") I spelled it out here for those of you who can't currently see my eyes. Courtesy and proper breeding? I have it.

So--given my desire to direct whiners to a fiery conclusion at the base of the Grand Canyon--why is it that recently I have caught myself squirmy and mealy-mouthing with my voice at a noticeably higher-pitch?

...

I'm not afraid of working hard. In fact, were I to condescend to advertising speak, I'd say I'm usually what one might call a "go-getter"--especially when I know what I want. So why am I having such difficulty lately?

I think the answer may lie in the observation.

"When I know what I want."

Yep.

Therein lies the kicker.

Recently, I can say with full certainty that I have absolutely no idea what I want. A boat, sure. But in the grander sense. I mean, take Eminem for instance. The man knows what he wants: to make the entirety of the human and animal population chemically dependent upon his output.

Nice.

I dig it.

And at one point in my life, I thought that's what I wanted too. (That and the power to enact the Thelma and Louise thing.)

I wanted people to be drunk on my ideas. To stumble on my thoughts--and, thoroughly intoxicated, ask the bartender for another hit. In short, I wanted nothing more than to enter your mind through your throat and seep down to your very guts. I wanted to make you giddy with my presence, and, on occasion, make you unable to stomach me. And while you may vomit me in the back bathroom of some sleazy bar or from the passenger side of your best-friend's Aveo--while you may curse my name and swear before Dagon that you will never imbibe me again--we both know the next weekend would find you drinking from my fountain. And your best friend knows it too.

Maybe I still want the same things. Maybe all I need is the proper vehicle for my ideas. Let's just hope for your sake and mine it's not a 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mr. Grinch

Dear Mister Grinch:

The AMA regrets to inform you that the following warning should have been placed on your 3X heart enlargement prior to purchase. We apologize for any unforeseen side-effects.

"WARNING: Large hearts are wise in so very many ways. And remarkably stupid in others."

Best regards,
AMA

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hyperbole

I thought no one understood me, and then I read this. And I cried. In the hallway. At school. http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html

Yum

"Drama: the creamy filling of my Life Twinkie." --Erin Greer

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Look Ma! I DO inspire people! (part 2)






Me.
As seen and drawn by the lovely and talented Alexandra Miller (top) and Evin Fowler (bottom).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Uncanny

List of people I have been told I resemble in the past week:

*Christina Aguilera
*Ernest Borgnine
*Felicia Day
*Kirsten Dunst
*Julianne Hough

Add to that the past few years:

*Jennifer Anniston
*Amanda Bynes (a stranger actually wanted my autograph because he thought I was her.)
*Carrie Fisher
*Sarah Michelle Gellar
*Jennifer Love Hewitt
*Some German actress whose name I can't remember

And what do all these ladies (and solitary gentleman) have in common? Not a thing, so far as I can see. Except...Could it be? LIL' OL' ME!

Huh. Guess beauty is in the eye of the Borgnine.

Uncanny.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fault

You know that guy who said "God sends you trials to test you and make you stronger"?
Yeah.
Fuck that guy.

But does he have a point? Are trials truly sent by some sadistic deity with a penchant for people's pain, or are they merely the inevitable consequences of your own piss-poor choices?

Consider:
Was it Allah that made me punch a police officer who I had somehow mistaken for a killer clown on the lam, thus landing me in jail where I met Rico the Colombian-drug-lord-turned-imam who opened my eyes to the wonders of Islam? I mean, I found religion. I found peace. Hell, I now work for UNICEF...So was it God who lead me to the homicidal Bozo hallucination? Or was it the 10 mg of heroin I shot up in the bathroom of The Masquerade just prior...?

My money would be on the China White, but then again, the Lord does work in mysterious ways...

As I spent my morning contemplating these questions instead of doing something of import--like pilates--I began to realize (right now, as a matter of fact) the futility of the above questions. Not that they aren't worth contemplating, but that mankind has mulled over them for centuries and no conclusions can be reached, save this: such debates question the existence and role of God in our lives. I mistrust anyone who claims to have answers on this point. And you should too. I mean, I personally do not know what is more off-putting--their claims to divine knowledge or their spray tans and perfect teeth... Anyway, as the answers cannot be known, these questions are futile.

Which, it turns out, is actually alright by me...because these questions are not really the ones I want to ask. After hours of sleeplessness and what has now become a rambling blog, I have finally honed in on the quandry that has set up shop in my brain and is spreading like a disease directed by Steven Soderbergh.

What it really comes down to, my friends, is this:

Is this all my fault?


With earthquakes, the world literally breaks apart at the fault line. Is it the same in life?

Am I the reason things just aren't lining up?

Damn.

And what do I do if the answer turns out to be even scarier than a killer clown on the lam?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Look Ma! I DO inspire people!

An ode to me from the dear Tom Gillespie:

To write a bitch a sonnet 'pon this hour
and pique her mind with cogent thoughts indeed;
this task hath made my countenance quite dour
while alcohol has rob'd my wit its speed.
Gamely press I on past darken'd midnight.
... My face in Facebook profile starkly limn'd
by CRT in ghastly greenish-white.
My drink now done; my artful longing dim'd.
And yet the bitch her sonnet will require;
her plaintive suitors for her notice vie.
They shall not soon succumb to sleep's desire
unless Erato deigns their thoughts should fly
with inspiration to reveal the words
that best prevail to melt the bitch's heart.
And after Rhyme and Meter's laws secured,
Select and copy, paste, and post thine art.
Poetic bitches sleep, and know no fret,
their literary expectations met.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hari Kari

Stand back, please. This may get messy, and, given my penchant for clumsiness, there is a high likelihood that if you don't maintain a safe distance of at least three feet, I may well land on YOU instead of this trusty sword.

You don't want that, Kaishaku.



And I don't want this.



I

don't

want

this.


In mere minutes I perform my literary Hari Kari--writing a recommendation for a fellow playwright who has been nominated in my stead for a prize I coveted. You see, I was the original nominee for the award...Yes, me. But like so many things shadenfreude, the Fates stamped a big ol' red, inky "DENIED" on that dream. Turns out the competition does not accept graduate students. Yep. I guess I'm just too damned educated to succeed.

Thing is, this other guy--the one I'm writing for--he's good. I like his stuff. And I know I can write the kind of recommendation that will make him a front-runner for the prize.

The irony is agony--a blade in my belly: my own penned words scream from their pages, falling on the deaf ears of an anti-graduate student panel, but my endorsement-- spawned from the same mental source and presented in the same word-processing software, will speak loudly and in favor of another.

This disemboweling thing? It hurts.

To whom it may concern:

...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ode to Envy

Envy makes its object smarter, wiser, prettier, wittier, funnier, faster, stronger, luckier and more creative than he/she actually is.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Damned clowns. I NEED A GENERATOR!

In a recent man-on-the-street poll, it was determined that eight out of eight harried and frail filmmakers scheduled to shoot this weekend awoke from night terrors screaming the words, "Fuck! I need a generator!" at 3 a.m.

Yep.

True story.

That said, my shoot is this weekend, and I couldn't be more terrified. Unless, of course, there were needles, balloons and clowns involved. Did I ever tell you about the day a clown came to JollyLand and 'wowed the crowd' of children by impaling a yellow balloon with a giant silver needle? Yeah... Chris R***e thought it was the best thing ever. But then again, Chris R***e liked to open the stall door on little children as they used the bathroom, so I don't count him as much of an authority...

Flash forward: 3 a.m. tonight, Erin sits bolt upright in her bed, clutching her satin sheets, and screams: "Fuck! Need a generator! And who let Chris R***e and that goddamned clown on set!"

Yes, folks. I. am. tired.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dante's 9 Layers of Exhaustion

Turns out mainlining french vanilla with 2% while multi-tasking/juggling Reservoir Dogs and film production is NOT an effective way to induce a peaceful slumber. So tired at this point that the moniker "Kirk Baltz" has somehow reached a heretofore unrecognized level of hilarity.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Post

I can change my location, wardrobe, hair.

I can up my prescription, down my dose...with tequila. Or coffee.
Give me a shot.


Of another drug...



I can chase my dreams, or my dog, or my tail.

I can post.



But I can't change you.


I can't up or down my daily dose, shoot you up or tear you down. Tear you up or shoot you down. No shot. With you.


You: drug. After market.



I can't chase you--not with words, legs, seltzer. Too potent.



I can post.

But I'm dying trying to live post.

You.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hide Your Light Under A Bushel (and other sound anti-Biblical advice)

Amazing things happen to me.
Opportunities fall at my feet.

And I, in my perspicacious wisdom, run from them.

Naturally.

Like last week when I received that callback for the commercial--one of only 15 or so women called back for the part--I, in my extreme excitement, proceeded to tell ONE WHOLE PERSON the good news.

Or--like today--when I learn that I am being considered for a sizable prize and, instead of calling my family and friends and beaming about the possibilities of kitties and rainbows, I am going to lock it away in my bosom, never to be uttered to another human being.

Why?

It's not necessarily that I am overly humble, nor is it because I am not proud of my accomplishments (though the latter may be true, because, I mean, if I can do it--I who nearly burned down the house in an attempt to microwave a shirt and I who barely escaped arrest over the attempted theft of a "Christ For State Senate" sign--then obviously anyone able to feed themselves without assistance could reach the same goal. I know. Sounds like humility. It ain't. Believe me.) It's not even that I am necessarily afraid to fail, though I will admit that that motivation has previously been true.

No, I have failed. I have faced hardships. I know I can do it again.

So what is this fear of touting any progress about?

Two things:
1. Control.
2. Potential.

As Yoda so sagely spoke, "Control! Control! You must have control!" Hey Jedi Master? Feelin' ya buddy.

I. have. an. addiction. to. control.

Try as I might, I simply cannot wrap my head around the idea that there are things outside of my control--things I am powerless to stop or start or even affect. And therefore, when I am nominated for an award or am recognized in some way or am given an opportunity, I HAVE TO EARN IT. I have to CONTROL it. I have to make it mine.

And if I don't I am an utter failure.

Again.

(Sounds healthy, no?)

Somewhere along the line I picked up that human worth is not, in fact, inherent. In my noggin, we as human beings aren't born with entitlements. In other words, "gotta earn that shit!"

So, obviously, if I am given an opportunity, I must therefore prove my worth of it. Not an undaunting challenge...and also why I don't publicize it. After all, if I fail, that proves to be a statement about my overall worth...which leads us to number 2:

Potential.

I. HATE. THIS. WORD.

As a writer, I have a passion for most words. ('Cecil' is a notable exception. 'Hyper' is another.) But by far my least favorite word in the English language is 'potential.'

This pretentious bastard has the power to make or break you...
And, as someone who lives under a constant fear of being a disappointment, 'potential' is some scary shit.

I know I can write, and in recent months I have seen countless numbers of my ideas being parlayed into subpar texts or movies simply because I did not have the fucking stones to follow through on my ideas.

But such follow through takes a certain amount of delusional narcissism, a certain pretentious arrogance that, try as I might, I simply cannot seem to foster. I discovered at quite an early age that the world does not revolve around me. And my smarts? Well, I think the most that can be said for them is that I am smart enough to realize just how stupid I am.

And then I go bury my head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich as some other schmuck takes my idea, crafts it into an imperfect (but still concrete) form, and lives fat and happy on the profits. All the while, I (proverbial ostrich, remember?) am screaming about the injustice of it all, but I know I have no one to blame but myself. (Not that it matters. No one can hear me with my head underground anyhow.)

And speaking of proverbial, this brings me back to my Bible title. Here's the reference, for those of y'all too ignorant to read the Bible or too lazy to Google. (No offense meant. I mean, really? Are you gonna get all up in arms over the comments of an ostrich?)

"Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."Matthew 5:15

My light is under the bushel. And, as fire needs oxygen to thrive, I am sure my light is going to go out any day now. When it does, I will have no one to blame but myself...

Christianity's core belief centers on grace. The almighty grace of a loving God who sees his children as having inherent worth. As being heirs to His throne. Royalty.

It is a concept I can neither accept nor understand.

I have never held inherent worth.
I do not understand the gift of grace.
And I haven't the wardrobe for royalty.

So when my light burns out, maybe He can explain it all to me. Until then, He is in complete control, and I have nothing but this blasted potential!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To My Ex Landlord--A Love Letter:

1. You know what's soooo attractive? When a grown man whines. You? LOOKIN' MIIIIIGHTY ATTRACTIVE right now...

2. Condolences. I am very sorry for your recent loss. It must be very difficult, and I cannot imagine the pain you must be going through, you know, walking around without your goddamned mind. I've sent flowers. I heard lilies are appropriate for this kind of occasion...

3. I've heard text and FaceBook messages including the phrases "WTF!?!?!" and "Guess it's just not a priority to you" hold up well in court. Professionalism and passive aggressive whining always go over well with judges. Especially female ones. (See #1).

4. Thanks so much for "letting me stay" at your condo for $1,000 a month. How generous! How chivalrous! How downright sacrificial of you! Move over Katharine Drexel! I believe we have found a new Patron Saint of Philanthropy!

5. Cowards air dirty laundry on FaceBook walls. Guess that makes you a...?

6. If you post my private, personal, or financial business on FaceBook again, I will take legal action.

Dick.

All the best,
Erin

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'll Get You, Sloane Crosley! And Your Little Books Too!

Oh Sloane. Sloane, Sloane, Sloane.
You and your "mordant and mercurial wit from the realm of Sedaris and Vowell."

How I loathe you.

You who have been compared to Dorothy Parker.
You whose very name brings bile to my throat.

From your days as a lowly book publicist (wait...she was a BOOK PUBLICIST!?!?) to your nauseating rise to New York Times bestseller. Oh Sloane! I am onto you!

Sure, your penchant for plastic ponies forced me to stifle a chuckle. And your Ursula cookie--well, let's just say that one hit a little close to home. The butterflies? Sure. I want a very rare one to escape the Museum of Natural History and follow ME home. Who doesn't? But this is not from whence my hatred gained your name.

On no, Miss Crosley. My dislike burns far deeper! I refuse to pay homage! Not to your Judaism, to your vegetarianism, your neuroticism or to an other of your collective "isms." No ma'am! Because I--I, MISS CROSLEY!--KNOW YOUR SECRET. And it sickens me.

Long have I envied those inside of your genre but out of your ilk--the Jennifer Lancasters and the Laurie Notaros. The Allie Broshes. Those witty women who, when Life delivered a shitstorm de clusterfuck, cried vehemently, "Not today, Life, you vile mother!," threw up two well-manicured deuces, and subsequently penned some of the most poignant pieces of feminine hilarity heretofore seen.

"Do not go gently into that good night" indeed!

But you, Miss Crosley. Yooooou and your Booky Wook. Were your tales born out of hardship? Out of life experience?

No. No Miss Crosley.

While Jen Lancaster and her Gucci bag were getting bitter at the unemployment office, where were you? When Laurie Notaro was fighting the good fight with "fat money", where were you? And when Allie Brosh's psychotic fit over a fish nearly catapulted her childhood into foster care, where the hell were you?

Oh yeah.

You were writing an email.

Yep.

Writing. an. email.

While others took the cruise through Hell in a very stylish handbasket, all you-- Sloane freakin' Crosley--had to do for recognition was write an email. A silly little work email that just happened upon the electronic desk of someone who could help you with a book deal.

Lucky to have so many connections, working in a publishing house and all. And as a publicist, no less. Yes. Very fortunate indeed.

So you see, Miss Crosley, I loathe you not for a lack of writing talent. Talent you certainly have. I detest you not for your floral/toilet paper book covers or the ridiculous endorsements provided by your "friends" in the industry. (Jonathan Lethem and Jonathan Ames? Seriously gentlemen?) No, Miss Crosley, I abhor you because it was just that easy for you.

Sure, you're not the first person in 'the industry' to whore out your connections to make a name for yourself. And given your pleasant little cutie pie puss, I'm almost certain that no one this side of Oz (myself an obvious exclusion) holds it against you that what you lacked in life experience you made up for in milking the system. And it worked. In spades. Or boss-shaped cookies. Either way...

It is now 2 a.m. Miss Crosley, and I am afraid I have to attempt to bed down for the night. You see, I am a poverty stricken grad school student who must attend an orientation tomorrow for a full-time job that will pay me via meager stipend. But again with the difficult life experiences. I forgot. You don't do those.

And I am reasonably sure none of this concerns you or your cornucopia of ponies in a drawer.

But, if in some alternate universe it does mean something to you, I'll share with you one writing lesson I learned over my years of hard knocks: readers LOVE it when you refer back to your previous works. So, Miss Crosley, keep touting the exploits in "Cake" and "Number." I know I will.

Oh, and on that note: Miss Crosley--have you ever heard of Carly Simon?
She has a song I think you'd like.

Spectre

I'm lonely, baby.
And something in my gut says you have company tonight.

So I guess I'll clean the house. Or do a crossword. Or read the thoughts of someone else who actually had the gall and good fortune to mass publish.

Anything to keep my mind from wandering to you...

Erin's Beauty Truths

When Cosmo isn't telling me how to please my man (Scrunchies: NOT JUST FOR LAZY SUNDAYS ANYMORE!), it is packing its remaining pages with sage wisdom on how to do my hair and makeup.

Truly. Priceless and necessary. Insight.

Because, ladies, if there are two things that make our lives worth living they are (in no particular order):
*MEN
*BEAUTY PRODUCTS

As the lack of either--*GASP*--is completely socially unacceptable, I figured I'd make my charitable contribution to the very fabric of your souls by revealing my beauty truths--honed from copious (tedious?) hours browsing magazines, watching Michael Bay films and working in what I lovingly call 'the industry'.

And here's what I've learned. Straight from moi to tu.

1. There ARE some women who are truly transformed by makeup. I am not one of them. For the time being, I will have to rely on my award-winning personality. Wait...where are you going?!?

2. When Cover Girl tells you that "Chelsea" is wearing Just Peachy blush, Smouldering Sierra eyeshadow and Vixen Rose lipstick, she is ACTUALLY sporting Just Peachy Blush, Smouldering Sierra eyeshadow, Vixen Rose lipstick, more than $2,000 worth of the celebrity make-up artist's bag o' magic and OH YES! She is also 'wearing' about $100,000 in lighting design, direction, camera angles and PhotoShop. So take heart, my friends. Miracles CAN happen. And they can happen for you!

3. Real, large breasts are envied in the industry. But only because the other women in the room are jealous you didn't have to throw $12,000 at "the problem" like they did. You probably should fix your teeth though. I hear ABC Casting shows preference to actresses with veneers. Did you hear XYZ is looking for red heads? Perhaps a dye job would increase your chances of nabbing representation. Oh, and for the record, should you ever want to "fix" your nose, I hear Dr. Porter is amazing!

4. (or #3 subhead a.) Real, large breasts are envied in the industry, but only by the countless women who never want to be taken seriously. Because, really, what says "I command respect" like a willingness to show your tatas for a role that is listed as ONE OF A SERIES at the end of the film? (Naked Party Guest #3, Naked Party Guest #4, Naked Party Guest #5...THAT'S one credit I want on MY IMDB page!)

5. If your body is rockin', they can always edit out your face. Or vice versa. Welcome to the machine.

I had an audition today. A callback for a commercial that's coming soon to a television near you. In this commercial, there will be a married couple (I was on callback for the wife), a television hostess (smiling. gorgeous. plastic. You know: a television hostess), and--I do not jest--an entire team of, um, shall we say...'cheerleaders'.

Readers, I am not going to lie. It was a hard read. Not because I do not think I have the acting chops for the role...thing is, I know I do...Life experience has taught me that much...but--and here it comes--my final beauty truth: today the industry got to me.

As a writer, I recognize the flaws in the system, and am usually able to hold my own in the room of beautiful but simple girls who spend the minutes before the audition smoothing out their nerves--and their hair--in the bathroom of the casting office.

It's not that I am above such activity, it's just that I usually don't care. I know who I am. I am a writer. Most say I am a damned good one. And as such, I know I can understand and convey the complexities of a scene. Hey...it's just what I do.

But today...well, today was different.

Surrounded by the region's most aesthetically perfect specimens, I suddenly felt...inadequate. Like my brains and my accomplishments and my resume and my agent's confidence in me were somehow not enough t justify my presence in the room with these women who were giving recommendations to each other on makeup to "make your eyes pop" and plastic surgeons with the most natural results.

I have never felt so...alien. So...alone.

I got lost in the countryside on my first day in Italy and had to navigate my way to an obscure hotel. My Italian is appalling, and my directional sense in unfamiliar places is lackluster. I was LOST.--But even speaking a foreign tongue in a foreign land, 5 hours and as many train rides later, I felt I had a stronger footing my first day in Italia than I did in that casting room today.

Sure, I knew the lay of the land. I have been there countless times before. But this feeling. THIS was different. And it threw me. HARD.

If only I had worn makeup to the audition. If only I had skipped going to campus in favor of doing my hair just so. If only I had a well-pleased man at home who would have advised me of my inadequate appearance and helped me choose a more appealing outfit before leaving the house...because that's just the type of kindness a Cosmo man would show...

After leaving the audition I rebounded. It took a long walk, Tupac Shakur and a nap to fully recover, but I think it may have been the well-timed article in The Onion that really sealed it for me: "I was going to succumb to cancer, but then I got this mylar balloon."

So you see, friends, there IS hope out there!

And that reminds me, curl up on the couch with your man, your mascara and your Michael Bay film--then join me for my next segment, "Erin's Insight on Hope: Mylar Balloons, Makeup, Men and Other Cures for Terminal Cancer" or, should the urge strike me, "Erin's Guide to Assured Success: From Insecure Ugface to YOU'RE A TEN! Asskisser in 6 Easy Steps."

Maybe I need another nap. Hail Mary.

Monday, August 1, 2011

If it weren't for my horse, I never would have spent that year in college

In other aneurysm news, I would like "Carly Simon" to be listed as the official cause of death on my postmortem certificate.
Not because her music generally acts on the soul with the soothing subtlety of the woodchipper in "Fargo"--although I find the former statement to be true. No. It's merely because she had some dreams. They were clouds in her coffee. Yes, clouds in her coffee.

And, apparently, some bastard in an apricot scarf thinks that song is about him.

What an asshole.

Too bad I happen to agree with him.


Ummm...Carly? That song IS about him.

And now I resent you for making me side with an asshole.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"To Know Yourself Is The Ultimate Form Of Aggression"--Freud

I have always held fast to the belief that the true determinate of a person's value system lies not (as many sadly and wrongfully surmise) in that person's religious affiliations, personal professions or even actions. Nope. If you want to know the truth about what a person values, you need only ask one question: "Who is your favorite super hero."

Uh huh. You heard me. Favorite. Super. Hero.

And Tarantino agrees with me. (See Kill Bill Vol. 2 you cinematic Philistine!)

You see, the hero one picks says less about the hero itself and more about the person doing the choosing. The choice provides a clear outlook on the virtues (or lack thereof) of the person answering and can therefore serve as an unsuspecting (and unguarded) window into said person's very soul. As an added bonus, it can also serve as a starting point for deducing the person's innate fashion sense, views on spandex, and desires from a romantic partner. But more on that in the novel I plan to write...

Speaking of novels, I have had another in my back pocket for many years, and, for those of you who know me well, you know it is dangerous for me to allow an idea to fester for long. The outcome could go one of two ways--1. It could age as a fine wine and delight the palate or 2. It could build like the pressure of the fat kid in Willy Wanka's tube of chocolate, eventually spewing out in a yummy lard mess that only little orange and green men would ever want to sing about.

Either way, the fat kid dies.

Here Piggy, Piggy.

Sorry.

Lord of the Flies reference.

In any event, the title of my back-pocket book is How Disney Ruined My Life and the tale would be a chronicle about the hidden negative messages in classic Disney films that have lied to us about the nature of life since we were young, presumably innocent, and wide-eyed enough to believe them. WARNING: If you steal my book idea, I swear to every pagan God that has ever demanded the slaughter of a farm animal, you will be punished. Oh yes. Fear me.

Now--warnings out of the way--(I am serious BTW. Thought theft is punishable by violence. Mark my words, infidel!), I had an epiphany yesterday. Seems I had been taking rather a negative view on Disney, and, in what could only be described as divine revelation from one of the various aforementioned pagan deities, I received this insight: You can judge a person's values by their favorite super hero, but you can judge their approach to life by their favorite Disney film.

There it is, ladies and gentlemen. Divine truth.

Now let me lay this smack-down on ya.

Say the person you are questioning under police-grade interrogation lights says that his or her favorite Disney film is Aladdin. Easy. You know the story. Riffraff streetrat finds blue genie who sings incessantly; streetrat then wishes to be a prince so he can woo the princess, and BAM! All hell breaks loose.

Lesser mortals may be confused by the revelations behind this tale. Still others might be humming "Never Had A Friend Like Me." Either way, Disney has distracted your fragile little mind with CGI-enhanced spectacle. So let me go Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on ya. Or Daniel, for those of you partial to "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin."

Aladdin follows a boy, born of low stature and no means, from his childhood of theft, irreverence and "easy living" through his coming of age--a journey he must undergo to rectify the consequences of his deceit. Those who are drawn to this movie (Prince Alis, if you will) see themselves as having come from a less-than-desirable circumstance--an excuse they have used since puberty to justify their less-than-reputable behavior. Thing is, behind the veneer of loose-living lies a good heart and a nagging desire to make a positive change. And Prince Alis would do so "if only this or this or this would change/happen/be different..." The bad news? This way of thinking keeps Aladdins in a holding pattern of destruction in their youth. The good news? P.A.s believe they have the capacity to do a complete 180 if given the chance. This hope is frustrating for an Aladdin youth, but encouraging for an Aladdin adult, who may just decide to do that 180--and will come out an amazing human being on the other end. The ride is never easy though. Such transformation usually comes from an Aladdin harming someone they love--a friend or lover. To ensure the 180 in an Aladdin, the P.A. must determine that it is more painful to remain the same than to take the steps necessary for change. When the P.A. makes that decision, his or her recompense is genuine and permanent. An Aladdin adult won't make that same mistake twice.

Impressive, no?

By this point, I know the truth of my formula is dawning on you like a beacon in the pitch. But I see the others--those of you rolling your eyes and sighing "bubkis!" Either way, I'll give you more.

The Little Mermaid: young fish lady/full time dreamer yearns for a realm outside of her humdrum home. So naturally she visits a sea witch who offers her the olde "legs for voice" swap, which our red-headed heroine naively accepts. After all, what could possibly go wrong? If your quandry is a member of the Ariel Nation, he or she is idealistic and values the power of dreams--most likely because, for him or her, those dreams often come true. An Ariel enthusiast often realizes dreams through actions. Rather than just singing about what he or she wants, an Arielite believes the dream will come true, and behaves accordingly, often, ironically and Oedipally, ensuring through his or her own actions the outcome he or she seeks. Throughout life, the Arialist may remain naive--and why not? Nothing is impossible, even with physical, spiritual and emotional limitations.

Snow White/Cinderella
: oldies but goodies, these two tales parallel each other in meaning. Simply, the two lovely lasses were ill-treated by those who were supposed to raise, love and care for them--and all for no other reason than that they just happened to be born astonishingly beautiful. (Boo hoo. Life is hard.) But, rather than live a life devoid of positive reinforcement, each pretty lady overcomes the hardships of childhood by relying on her plethora of friends for aid (salvation?). In the end, through the help of friends, White and the Cinder Girl are swept away by a prince (who is given no personality and very few lines, but is gorgeous, which, really, is the most important thing...) So there you go. Snow White/Cinderella fans identify with being given a hard deal, and are keen on the idea of someone swooping in to save them. On the positive side, they value friendships highly, and are always willing to clean the dishes if you are the one to prepare the dinner. And they sing. A lot.

Sleeping Beauty
: If the person you inquire of pulls a Briar Rose, RUN LIKE HELL. This pretty princess has nothing going for her aside from her stunning face and impossibly small waist. That and she has three annoying aunties, each of whom seems to make it a point to live the term 'busybody' to its fullest extent. Briar Roses should be herded up and confined to one area, "Escape From New York" style. But them's just my two cents.

Mulan:
In a male-dominated society, Mulan, who fails at all things 'feminine,' (therefore bringing dishonor to her family) chooses to take her father's place in war when the Emperor calls his soldiers to fight the invading Mongols. As women are not allowed, Mulan must disguise herself as a man, fighting, struggling, and surviving amid the bravest men in all of China. When she proves herself brave and cunning in battle, Mulan brings a new and unprecidented honor to her family. In short, Mulan is a feminist and a badass. Those who choose Mulan as a favorite value individualism and embrace, though not always willingly, the challenges that come with remaining true to oneself. Despite obstacles, Mulan teamsters will persevere for honor and for family, but be damned if you're going to make them wear a pretty dress!

The Lion King: Ahhhh Simba. From the day he arrived on the planet, and blinking stepped into the sun, he knew he was destined to be king. But destiny is not always a straight path, and when evil uncle Scar scams for the throne, the young cub shows his weakness--pride. LK fans are prideful. They value station and very early on they realize--if only mentally--their place in the world. Unfortunately, like Simba and so many others, LK fans sometimes find out the hard way that pride comes before a fall. When burned, Simbas can retreat from their destiny, losing themselves in hedonism and laziness, and it often takes a strong kick in the ass to get them back in gear. Once catalyzed, however, their return to destiny can be awe-inspiring. If you meet a Simba, hope you are present for the climax. It'll take your breath away.

Beauty and the Beast: And now we come to my favorite. Remind me to tell you sometime how a dream about Belle actually changed my life. And speaking of dreams, B&B enthusiasts are dreamers through and through. Often oblivious to (or bored by) the banalities of reality, Belles bury themselves in books and ideas and often reflect on "the way things ought to be." Idealists, Belles can be disenchanted with the world around them, and as a consequence, often miss the everyday magic going on just under their noses. Conversely, as they are 'thinkers' to the core, Belles can often see both sides of any situation and are caring and empathetic to those they see as mistreated. B&Bs are disgusted by arrogance, and are naturally drawn to the less fortunate, as 'rescuing' them appeals to the Belles' sense of justice--a virtue which, B&Bs believe, is sorely lacking in the world. A Belle will be the most loyal friend you have ever had, and will rise to your defense under any circumstance. They--we--love with all of our hearts and hurt desperately if that love is not returned. This tendency, though admirable, often gets Belles into trouble though, as B&B folk genuinely believe in the transformative power of love. In other words, "If I just love him enough, he WILL CHANGE." For this reason, Belles may spend their entire lives diligently chasing after what everyone else has the common sense to see is a lost cause. Belles are often disappointed and take it personally when their efforts fail to yield results--but in the rare cases where the Belle's love prevails, you can be sure that love's recipient has experienced a powerful, beautiful, life-altering change. And transforming from a beast to a prince ain't so bad either.

So there you have it folks. Your guaranteed personality analysis, straight from Walt Disney and Yours Truly. Given more time and study, I may also link these personality profiles to certain star signs, but, as it is, I have a lot of things to cross off my list today, and I cannot be bothered to solve all the mysteries of the universe and the human condition in one Sunday.

And for those of you left in wanting because your fav WD film wasn't featured: take heart. You are not forgotten. I realize there are those among us who place The Rescuers, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmations or The Great Mouse Detective at the top of your "To Watch Repeatedly" list. For you I will contemplate a follow-up. After all, I would not want to leave you out. To do so would be unjust, and justice--well, that's just what we Belles do!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Go Fuck Yourself" and other stories for children...

Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself.

Like when you nearly set your house on fire by microwaving a shirt.
Or when you almost get arrested for stealing a "Christ For State Senate" sign.

Or, like today, when you have to rush home from your commute to work.
Twice.

The first time was innocent enough. I was already running late, but knew if I punched it in the V6 that I'd still make it to the office with time to spare. So, cursing under my breath, I went home and nabbed the cell phone I had ironically left on my makeup counter "so I wouldn't forget it."

Simple enough. Happens to the best of us. But then...

Well, first let me give you some background.

I have been having some, um..., difficulties at work. Namely in that my students love me (one even made me a papier mache lotus blossom today), but the administration has no idea what to do with me.

*Ahem, ahem.

I experience this A LOT.

So, needless to say, being late to work is uber-low on my "things Erin should be doing with herself right now" list. In fact, I'd say it ranks just below abusing methamphetamines and asp juggling.

Back to the story...

Phone in hand, I sprint to the vehicle and once again begin my journey to the land of questionable teaching practices. It is while in said vehicle that I realize that driving is proving a particularly enjoyable activity on this early morning--likely because pressing the clutch pedal is far more comfortable when done WITH FLIP FLOPS ON!

God. Dammit.

If there's one thing my employer hates worse than opinionated teachers with actual personalities and brains, it's teachers who show up in improper footwear.

Back to the house I go...

I don't think I have ever run so fast in the entirety of my existence. The fact that I did not get pulled over (again) is a sheer testament to the fact that I may have been traveling faster than the speed of light. At any rate, I know it was faster than the posted speed limit. Much. Much. Faster.

Scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m., I peel into the parking lot at 7:59.

I park illegally.

I run inside.

And while the next 30 seconds are a blur, I know I somehow managed to clock in, secure my watch, check my student schedule for the day, prepare my teaching supplies and make it to my student's desk just as the bell rang.

And wouldn't you know it? My student was late.


Now let's jump ahead, shall we?

9 p.m.
I am sitting in my living room with a friend, scanning Craig's List for a suitable place intown that is both a. affordable and b. NOT located in an area known for homicide or gang violence (not as easy as one might initially surmise), when, suddenly, my gmail alert informs me that I have new mail. "Hazaa!," I say. "Someone from Craig's List must've emailed me back already!"

Excited about my new home prospect, I check the email.

It came from user 678773****@txt.att.net (**** replacing the actual digits. You know, to protect the innocent.) The email reads: Ur dAd iz renting a pontoon boat sATurdY @ lake ARROWHead fr\1 to 5 f/my birthday. Wanna come? Dinner @ clubhouse After.:-)

Given the wacky username, unruly capitalization and adherence to text speak, I make the snap judgment that some delinquent 14 year old is attempting to plan an ill-advised weekend booze fest with his friends and has accidentally included me on the invite.

So, naturally, I respond appropriately:

"Who the fuck is this?"

And send.

Moments later I receive this response:

"Sorry."

Uh-huh. Damned right you're sorry. Low-life punk! Good thing I showed him!

The night progresses without a hitch, and, before making the hike to the grocery store for my organic Omega 3 enhanced milk, I pick up the previously-mentioned cell phone (this time from the kitchen counter) and prepare for my journey.

"Oh look! I have a text message!"

Happily I check it.

And my face falls...

It's my stepmom.

Inviting me to come out.

With my dad.

This weekend.

On a pontoon boat.

At Lake Arrowhead.

FOR HER BIRTHDAY!

Oh my Gawd. The message had been from my stepmom!

Like a time bomb that won't stop exploding, the truth of the situation continues to dawn in ever-increasing waves of fiery destruction as I realize: I HAVE JUST TOLD MY STEPMOM, via email, to GO FUCK HERSELF.

And did I mention it was her birthday?


This is where I had my panic attack.

Not one of the pretty ones where, with bloodshot eyes, you shadow box unseen predators from the corner in which you are crouched, crying and screaming incoherently about the "bats poisoning your bicycle."

No, this was the ugly meltdown. You know the one--where Life ninja-kicked you to the avenue asphalt and, as you are preparing for the upcoming curb check, you do the only sensible thing you can do in this impossible situation---laugh.

You laugh hysterically.

You laugh until your sides hurt.

You laugh until the tears come streaming down your scarlet cheeks.

You laugh until the neighbors pound the walls and ask you to "Keep it down over there!"

You laugh until Life itself, still clad in its ass-kicking ninja suit, bends down to stare at you quizzically. You laugh until Life finally musters up the courage to ask, "Um...what the hell is wrong with you?"

And so I laughed.

Two phone calls and two texts later, I think I have at least been able to convince my father that I believed his wife to be an ill-mannered pubescent male. Whether or not my stepmom believes me? Well, the proverbial jury is "still out."

I guess I will find out on Saturday.

At her birthday party.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

On The Edge of Glory

Let me start by saying 'I love Alabama.' I have ALWAYS loved Alabama. And what's not to love? The accents, the incredibly sweet people, the 10-years too late fashion with a disturbing reliance on anything John Deere, the questionable dental hygiene...For my dime, you can't get a better state.

Which may be one of the reasons I was STOKED about the prospects of this weekend's road trip to the barbecue festival at Alabama Adventures--an apt and ironic destination, as what ensued yesterday was most definitely an 'adventure.'

The day began hella early as, with crusties on my eyes, I drove to Vinings for the scheduled carpool rendezvous which included my bestie Joe, my lovecup J.M., and her S.O. Justin, for whom I should have some sort of embarrassing monicker but have not yet found one that 'sticks.' Three hours, 4 chicken biscuits with bacon and a CD of impromptu car karaoke later, we arrive at the amusement/water park.

An hour before they open.

Seems we forgot to account for the time change.

We. are. awesome.

With an hour to kill, we decide to check out the local scenery. Let the adventure begin!

Stop #1: the local outlet malls.

For those of you force-fed AP Lit, picture Alas Babylon. For the rest of you literature Philistines, think "I Am Legend" meets "Zombie Apocalypse." With a cow sweater.

Yeah.

Every store was eerily vacant, and I had this sudden and odd urge to prepare myself for a reinactment of Mad Max. Good thing I wore my skulls and roses bathing suit!

Already delirious from the sweltering heat (post-apocalyptic civilization is rather warm at 10 a.m.), the gang and I decided to follow the lonely sounds of what seemed to be gospel music on an ancient PA system to the back of the shopping complex. What appeared over the horizon--an oasis in our Bessemer County desert--began as a haze, and soon materialized into cultural gold.

My first discernible image? A woman walking a lizard.

Bliss.

As the scene solidified, the crew and I approached in awe. Terrified awe. But awe.

Seems we had unwittingly stumbled upon the cultural event of the season--a yard sale. In an outlet mall. Is it possible to literally beam with delight? Pretty sure I managed it. Though none of my party can confirm, as I was off like a shot. First stop, the bathroom, where they literally had a sign posted that said, "Please remember to flush." Apparently this is not a given in central Ala. As I turned to point out this treasure to J.M., I realized the rest of my party were huddled in a corner in fear. It was up to me to guide them through this Bible Belt land o' plenty.

I took their hands and gently lead the three--the only three dressed in matching apparel of the appropriate size and from the current decade--through the Land of Glee. First stop, the clothes. Where I found this treasure trove of wonderful: Yes, my friends, it IS a cow-print sweater with tablecloth-checked sleeves and...wait for it...crocheted cow buttons! Would that there were two in the world!

Onward to the toys...where I found two Elmo dolls, out of the box and questionably displayed in what is either 1. a mugging scene or 2. a red and fuzzy demo of S&M. It was like Muppet Rorschach. Either way, Joe, J.M. and Justin all fled when I squealed and began taking pictures. Seems no one appreciates a good toy mug/scrump anymore...

As I scurried to meet my fellows at the exit, I noticed that the trio had taken up refuge by the coup de gras of Alabama culture and class: a wedding chapel. In the outlet mall. Next to the yard sale. Within feet of the lizard lady, the cow sweater and the violent and sexually active Elmos.

I can only imagine--a proud tear in my eye--those wedding photos. What a proud day for the happy couple!

Joe, J.M. and Justin had seen enough. They began to make their way to the car. But I decided it was in my best interest to befriend the lass with the lizard. She was just telling me about her albino snake with pink on its face when Joe literally dragged me to the car.

I pouted all the way to Walmart.

Stop #2.

Now one would anticipate many things about the Bessemer Walmart. My friends and I? We were on a mission of cultural significance (ie. gathering photographic testimony for peopleofwalmart.com) and, secondly, for water, beer and a cooler. Cameras at the ready, we enter the store with a game plan: do one lap around the periphery, eyes peeled for the multimedia jackpot. We were but inches inside the door when I found it: not in the form of an extremely overweight and underdressed Walmart patron, but on the front page of The Birmingham Times, where ran two 'lead' stories:

1. HIV Dad Rapes Infant Son

and 2. Mom Kills Son; Shops With Body

Welcome, my friends, to Alabama.

In what will no doubt be seen as a quick cop-out ending to an otherwise verbose blog, I can tell you that the remainder of the trip consisted of many rides, interesting people, and a barbecue coma--all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. But to whet your appetite for all things 'Roll Tide,' I will tell you this:

1. In our bathing suits with bbq bellies, wet hair and no make-up, we were SMOKIN' HOT representin' the Atl.
2. No amount of rickety rollercoaster ride can justify 2.5 minutes of a teenage boy burying his head in your lap. Yep. This happened. And, of course, to me.
3. Paw's Avenue 'Q' has the. best. damned. bbq. ever.
4. The wait is officially over! Faux snakeskin lycra hotpants now come in rainbow colors! And when you purchase them (as I know you will) the tag reads: "You are welcome America! Courtesy of Alabama."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Nearly Naked with Jason Bateman," Or, If You Prefer, "To Touch a Natalie Portman"

In the Kubric-esque reel of my mind, my life and the lives of others are literally played out on the stage. It's lurid, really. Surreal. The curtain rises to lights, music, costumes, ill-timed sound cues and a spotlight--the latter of that list being where I spend most of my time, sweating under the spot for a crowd I cannot see, but for whose eyes and approval I pour out my scripted soul.

And believe me, it IS scripted.

I have no idea what's in the actual soul. And, to my credit, there really is no place for one in the theatre. For what good is my soul to me, when my innate goal is to put on the show that YOU, the audience, wish to see? No. To recognize a real soul would require that I exit the spot and venture backstage, where the sets are revealed for what they truly are--random bits of haphazardly-constructed scraps. The wigs and makeup are off, costumes cast aside.

Somehow I never seem to make it that far...

The blinding light is so much nicer--it's harsh glare blots out my imperfections and hides the techs running around just out of sight, desperately gesturing to one another to raise the flies or place the props.

...

I got the proof of my most recent commercial from my talent agency today.
And, like any other desperately insecure artist, I watched it.

And then I had a nervous breakdown.

...

The remainder of my afternoon was spent between sleep and self-righteous self-loathing. You know, those gratuitous displays of utter disgust flung at the mirror because it simply REFUSES to reflect the you that you want to see? Yes. All my imperfections held aloft and picked apart under the magnifying glass of my own gaze. Knowing all the while that if I just looked like Adriana Lima, SOMEHOW things would be different.

It's a child's tantrum. An indulgence little different than Lindt Lindor Truffles and equally as guilt-ridden.

...

I get cast for nude or implied nude roles.
A lot.

Know that movie that's coming out--The Change Up--with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman? Yeah. I was cast to do the nude work for the woman playing J.B.'s wife. And that sexy guy from True Blood? Yeah. I was cast as his mistress (implied nude scenes) in a movie he just filmed.

Seems everybody wants to see my ass.

No one wants to see my face.

...

As the oldest of six kids, I am well-aware of the fact that everyone has their place. Me? I am the funny one. The pretty one? Well, that'd be my sister Cason. She's the face...the pretty, pretty face...

...

Know what my mother said to me once? She said that there are women in this world with beautiful bodies, and women with beautiful faces. "Erin," she said, "You have a beautiful body."...

...

Black Swan. Mila Kunis. Natalie Portman.
Mila radiates sex appeal, but Natalie...Natalie is the face...

Like Helen who launched the thousand ships, Natalie Portman's face is a symphony of grace, elegance and intelligence. To see her is to stare endlessly. And stare is all one can do. Much like a porcelain doll, Portman's delicate beauty is off limits to oafs like myself. To touch her is to break her, and to break such beauty is a sin akin to killing a mocking bird.

...

The spot is bright as I write this. I sense you in the audience. I feel you losing interest. Time now to change gears. Time for the variety show or the comic relief. Send in the clowns...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'll take my head with a side of lettuce

Ever noticed that many things that begin as a few hours of fun inevitably conclude with flashing lights and a run-in with authorities?

Or maybe this kind of thing only happens to me.

The fire department is outside of my house right now. But perhaps I should back up. Stories are often best told from the beginning...

Last night was EPIC--both by way of the events that transpired and in that they transpired completely unexpectedly. After an afternoon with friends and an evening of watching the US/Mexico Debacle De Futbol at the Brewhouse (shirtless Hispanic men "ay, ay ay ay..."), I was ready to call it a night. My friends, alas, were not. So I suggest Tijuana Garage. We're within walking distance, they have killer margaritas, and the only way the blinky-lighted porch could be better was if Prince himself was singing Purple Rain on my table.

So we go.

And Jeff (aka, good friend and sober ride) and I order a pitcher of margaritas. I figure I am going to need one if I am to continue enduring a certain member of our party...

Jeff's three in and I am still nursing my one when salvation arrives: in the form of a man with bedazzled underoos and breast implants. HOLY HELL! IT'S DRAG SHOW NIGHT!!!

Heart aflutter with excitement, I fill my glass and run--yes run--into the bar. Men in any sort of costume hold a sick fascination for me. Men in costume who can also appreciate my well-coordinated accessories? Yeah. You bet your ass I ran.

What followed is a bit of a blur, but those of you who know me know that I have the tolerance of a zygote, the natural inhibitions of, say, Russel Brand in his heroin heyday, and the showmanship of Madonna circa Blonde Ambition. These three factors, paired with my consumption of Petron and my innate ability to make "lasting bonds" over the most inane of commonalities--"Oh my God! You like Skittles too? Certainly we are soulmates! Let's be friends forever!"--resulted in what can only be described by lookers-on (teary eyed as they are when filing the police report) as a psychedelic cacophony of hair, sequins, fake breasts and lycra. I am also pretty sure there was some "Fergolicious" thrown in there just for good measure. At least I know I woke up singing it this morning...

Ah this morning...

But again, I jump ahead.

At one point during the evening, I know I was approached by a gentleman who lead with an unusual line, "Hey. I'm not trying to pick you up or anything, and I'm also not trying to cock-block that guy, but I know I know you."

Interesting.

Here is the conversation that followed: (and please keep in mind that I had a giant margarita in one hand, and was clasping a drag queen with the other)

Me: "Yes, you do look very familiar."

He: "Well, that's probably because you used to work for me. Name's Jay. I was your boss."

Fucking. Hell.

11:30 turned into midnight which turned, somehow, into 3 a.m., and poor Jeff had to pull me away from the drag queens, my former boss, and my table of new friends (BFF's I LOVE YOU FOREVER EVEN IF I CAN'T REMEMBER YOUR NAMES! Oh, and Whats-Your-Face: good luck with that new baby and with controlling your little sister who just exposed her boobs at the bar! Classy! Yeah. You should probably go get her...) No seriously. What nice girls. Anyway, Jeff, bless his heart, lugs my drunk ass home.

And todayyyyy...

With one Gremlin attempting to claw its way out of my head and another doing a number on my stomach, I am awakened by a sound heretofore unknown to any of the human race: my fire alarm. And it is powered by the voices of a thousand screaming harpies.

I am Petron delirious. The Gremlins are having an absolute party. And my attempts to silence the alarm by jumping up and down on a chair (still too high for me to reach. Thanks for the stature. MOM.), screaming obscenities, and then, in desperation, attempting to "make a deal" with my alarm system, have all proved futile.

I hear the sirens.

And I have to go out on the lawn. IN MY BATHROBE. While the DeKalb County Fire Department searches my place.

Excellent.

I. Rule. Life.

...

In related news, I also had my license revoked and a warrant out for my arrest.

Back to that in a minute.

...

When I was a child, I was very clumsy. So, naturally, my mother put me in dance class. It was a good idea, and, as it turns out, I was quite a gifted dancer, but unfortunately the "experiment" failed to achieve the desired results. Despite my newly-found twinkle toes, I remained clumsy whenever I left the dance floor. Now I'm just clumsy and have rhythm.

Seems like that's the story of my life though. You know, best of intentions. Road to Hell. That kind of thing. And what begins as a well-intentioned move usually ends in some sort of crazy adventure for me. Don't get me wrong, I love it...it's just sometimes I wonder whether or not it shouldn't be...oh, I dunno...easier than this?

Back to the story:

...

So back in April I got a traffic ticket for turning right on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. Yes, my friends, apparently there IS a place in the world where you can get a ticket for taking a right on Peachtree Street, and that place is Edgewood. Know it. Own it.

So anyway, I'm pissed, but I attempt to handle it. I call the number on the back of the ticket to find out how much this lil' bastard is going to be. Sure enough, the ticket hasn't posted. I will have to call back another time. Ok. So I go online to pay it. Sure enough, the ticket hasn't posted, so I will have to call again, or visit online at a later time... This cycle repeats, several dozen times over the next month and a half, until, finally, my court date arrives. I don't go. I have to work. But I do breathe a sigh of relief because, as the court date has passed, now SURELY SOMEONE SOMEWHERE will have posted the ticket and now I can pay it and once again life will be sunny and free.

Ummm...no.

My court date was Monday June 6. Check in on June 7. Can't get through on the phone. Busy. Again. So I try online. No dice.

That Friday morning before heading to work, I decide to get online again and attempt to pay this damned ticket. I am once again getting the cyberspace run around when I hear a knock at the door. Who could this be? I hope it's not the delivery guy who has a crush on me again...I always feel so bad when I have to turn down his presents...But no! This face is one I don't recognize. This face looks official. And not at all enamoured of me. And female. And kind of pissy. And authoritative.

"Sign here please."

"Ummm...ok."

I open the documents--my license has been revoked and there is a bench warrant out for my arrest. Signed, love and kisses, the Atlanta P.D.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuck!

So I call in to work (I have had this job for all of two weeks) and have to tell them I have received a court summons and have to go. NOW. Priceless. And then I hop in my car and-apparently illegally--drive down to the APD to pay this fucking ticket in person and settle this mess once and for all.

Now this particular Friday was a hot one, one of Atlanta's beloved 100 degree scorchers, and I am dressed in business attire and heels. Knowing my fashion handicap, I pay to park close to the station. This becomes important in a moment.

Once inside, I go through the rigamarole that is our government bureaucracy, and find myself on the receiving end of a $300 fine. My MasterCard literally whimpering, I take the handful of papers the gent behind the counter bequeaths to me and prepare to make my exit, which is halted by said gent's instruction that the paperwork--rather than being faxed or scanned or osmosed by the other branches of the APD--must be hand-delivered (by me, of course) to another department. Awesome. And where is this department? "Oh, about six blocks from here," I am told.

Ok. Six blocks. I can do this. I am in heels and a suit and it is a hundred degrees outside, but I can make the walk. After all, I am not about to drop another $10 to park in a location six blocks from my current paid place and, besides, when am I EVER wearing the appropriate footwear? So I take the directions to the new building and I start on my way.

SIX BLOCKS MY ASS.

That building--which was the ATLANTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION B.T.DUBBS--was a mile and a half away. One way. And I don't think I have to tell you my mood by the time I arrived. 1.5 miles in 100 degrees in a suit and heels to deliver what should have been internal paperwork to the sty that is the Department of Motor Vehicles. Someone call Dante. I think we have discovered a new layer of Hell.

And don't forget: I also had to walk back.

Yeah.

So this is my life. Welcome to it. Make yourself cozy. Stay awhile. Watch as I dance like an angel but stumble while walking down the sidewalk.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tact

It's been brought to my attention recently that I lack in um...how do you say?...tact.

Shocking, I know.

But hear me out...

Always one to prize complete disclosure with regard to one's thoughts, feelings, beliefs and judgments, I was recently appalled to learn that being completely forthright about where one stands is generally embraced by modern society with the overwhelming exuberance usually reserved for, say, leprosy and child molesters.

Simply put--and as my dear, deceased grandma would say--"you draw more flies with honey than vinegar"(and as someone who inherited said grandmother's sense of tact, the irony of this statement is not lost on me...)

Yes, my friends, apparently if you want to have...oh, I dunno...friends and shit...you have to learn to shuck the criticism and "play nice." Because, you see dears, everyone loves rainbows and kitties and unicorns. Smiles and fireflies constitute universal "happy places." And "Kumbaya" ain't a classic for no reason.

Thing is though, rainbows and smiles fade, kitties and fireflies both die when placed in jars, and "Kumbaya," while great with smores, loses its luster on second-singing. Put simply, just ask Charlie what happens to unicorns when they abandon their common sense, opting instead for the sugary-sweet joys of Candy Mountain. (For reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5im0Ssyyus)

Bitter? Yeah maybe. Or maybe I'm just "being real."

Growing up I was lied to. A lot. And that early exposure to the duplicity inherent in human nature had a profound impact on my psyche. I watched as the adults society designated for me to emulate said one thing and did another. I saw rewards for lies and delight in deceit, and I suffered in silence as the injustice of it burned in my tiny tummy. As a result, I doubt my age had reached double digits before I made the decision that, no matter what, I was going to be frank and forthright with everyone, consequences be damned. To me, this manner of living was a refreshing alternative to the syrupy sweet taste of bullshit to which I was accustomed...but to others...well, it seems my tendency toward the bitter truth may have proven equally unpalatable.

Some people just can't take it.

I used to be okay with that fact.

Now I am not.


With furrowed brow I ask you, "When is the time for tact?"

...

I always justified my "being real" as either refreshing honesty or a dose of tough love--both happy alternatives to what I always saw as the deluded nonsensical swill bandied about by miscreants with either less backbone or less scruples than the true humanitarians (like myself, of course) who see fit to "tell it like it is." But lately I have been wondering: At what point does "being real" translate into "being cruel"? And when does "tough love" cross that gossamer boundary that separates "helpful" from "hateful"?

When does "brutal honesty" become...just..."brutal"?

...

When Tennessee Williams penned his masterpiece, "A Streetcar Named Desire," he placed at its nucleus the iconic characters of Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski, two diametrically opposed powerhouses whose interactions literally explode from the page. Blanche, a world-worn southern belle, is prone to illusion and exaggeration (ie. bullshit)--continuously repainting her melancholy world in self-deluding rose colored hues. Stanley, corporeal to Blanche's ethereal, is no-nonsense. Brutal honesty. Love it or leave it. Talk about a clash of the Titans.

The two cannot coexist.

Honesty destroys the illusion.

Every time.

But the thing is...when confronted with Stanley's honesty and Blanche's illusion, I pull for Blanche every time. I, who in demeanor and belief mimic Stanley to an astonishing degree, must admit that reality is much more palatable with perfume and paper lanterns thrown in to dim the harsh light of reality.

So what does that say about me?

In one of her final speeches, Blanche famously relates,"But some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable! It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion, and the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty."

Cruelty. Unforgivable.

Am I deliberately cruel?

...

Yesterday I jumped out of an airplane to overcome a physical fear. Today I confront a psychological one. And while both involve falling headfirst into open space, I must confess the psychological fear is proving more disorienting than uncontrollably plummeting 14,000 feet.

Only 24 hours ago my body landed firmly on solid ground. Be brutally honest with me--will my brain do likewise?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pit Stop de Crazy Town

There comes a time in every woman's life when she oversteps that boundary line of sanity and runs headlong into the picturesque countryside of Certified Psycho Town (CPT).

As for me, I guess you could say I've spent the past few weeks on extended holiday at the Hotel de Loco, CPT, U.S.A.

From what I can remember of the Land of the Rational, residency requires the continued application of justifiable and situation-appropriate behavior, which, consequently, does not normally include unprovoked anger, tears or violence.

All of which may or may not have happened in the past few weeks.

Assuming that an even-keeled girl has ever occupied my 5'3" frame (debatable, at best), I think I left her--"Home Alone" style--screaming and slapping her cheeks in a bathroom in Savannah, Georgia. It seems there just wasn't enough room in the ol' Audi to bring Rational Erin home from the film shoot. Understandable, seeing as how the back seat was apparently LOADED TO THE FUCKING SUNROOF with Psycho Erin's emotional baggage...

I know that when I left for my trip south, I did so with one laundry basket full of clothes and other belongings for my stay. So how is it that I returned home with a laundry list of crazy? It'd be easy to blame things on the trip. After all, 13 hour unpaid days 6 days per week, complete with rumors, gossip, multiple heartbreaks (just call me the Heartbreak Kid...Shawn Michaels reference anyone? "I'm just a sexy boy. I'm not your boy toy..." No? Ok. Sorry.) sexual harassment, 2 bar fights, a 21-year-old and a sunburn will likely qualify anyone for a weekend in CPT. But that isn't it. Because sleep remedies the work. And time remedies most of the rest. So what the hell is wrong with me?

I could philosophize for days. I know several people I have dealt with in the past few weeks could offer some theories, none of them flattering.

But instead I am going to go and wash the day's grime from my face.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w1mq6rAfMM

"For Good" --music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

For many months I have struggled with the concepts of forgiveness and justice: specifically, how does one mete out one without in some way disregarding the other?

It's been nothing short of a personal moral conundrum.

But recent events have put this one in perspective for me.

I have always been a "justice" person. Hell, on the Meyers-Briggs personality test, I epitomized the very definition of an ENFJ. (If you don't know what that is, look it up, you lazy bastard! I am not here to do your research for you!) In any event, I have always believed that actions carried 'just' and 'proportionate' consequences, and--bluntly--that mercy was for saps or fools who insisted on being walked all over. I mean, Jesus specialized in mercy, and look what happened to Him! No thanks...

I don't think I need to point out here that my views on mercy were, at best, skewed, and, at worst, profoundly off-base. For those more astute readers (and those who'd like to pretend to be) I think I also don't have to point out that my aversion to mercy was likely a desperate cry to remedy the lack of it in my own life. But that's another story for another day.

In today's story, I have to admit I am learning a little bit about mercy. Mostly, that I need it. Badly.

In the past few weeks, I have hurt many people. Now wounded and left in my wake, these people were unfortunate casualties of life changes I have been attempting. I see this. I have no idea how to rectify this. I need mercy.

Like the child on the playground with his hands pinned behind his back, I know I am screaming it at the top of my lungs. "Mercy! Mercy!" But unlike that child, I don't deserve it.

Divine mercy, I know, is a gift freely given. I may still have absolutely no concept of what that means (and I don't, for the record, know what in the hell that means), but I'm not sure that really matters. Because what I need right now is not divine mercy, but people mercy...

And I'm not sure that I'm going to get it.

If it were me, I likely wouldn't give it.

When Poe penned his masterpiece, "The Pit and the Pendulum," I wonder if his opium-induced brilliance ever conceived that the precariously-placed swinging blade might well be a woman--this woman--pitching to and fro on frayed and time-worn ropes, ready at any moment to plunge headlong into endless blackness, eviscerating any innocent throat on this path of macabre destruction?

My guess would be no.

But he'd be right if he had.

...

I am making changes. God willing, I am changing. It's a process. And I suck at it. So I am going to go...After all, I think that's what you want me to do. And who am I to tell you otherwise? I don't deserve the last word.

But if, before you walk away, you grant me one last sentence, please know the sentence would be this one: "I was wrong, and I am sorry."
If you grant me two, then the second is this: "If you could find it in you to show me mercy, I think I could be changed for good."