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.


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.


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.


(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:



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.


All the best,

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.


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.


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):

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.'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.