Come Again?

People frequently mistake me not talking as me listening. It’s why I’m a good bartender. That, and I can mix a martini that’s so delightful you will be tempted to ask for my hand in marriage.

My first “real job” after I stopped working the road was at a neighborhood Italian place in Los Angeles County.

It was a tiny white building with giant red awnings that shaded the front windows. A billion twinkling Christmas lights covered everything like English Ivy while empty Chianti bottles, from their perch on the window sill, peeked out from beneath as if to say, “What the fuck you lookin’ at?”

When I called to inquire about the position, a woman with a thick, unrecognizable accent answered the phone. My guess was Russian. For some reason whenever I can’t place an accent I immediately assume the person is from Russia. They rarely are. I also sometimes think people sound like Count Dracula, which isn’t a country or an accent, and usually not correct either.

The dining room felt warm and lived in, like a grandma’s house, the air heavy with smells of garlic, freshly baked bread, and an occasional whiff of mildew.

It was decorated by the owner, Tony, who enjoyed gluing stuff to the wood-paneled walls. My favorites were an old army shovel and the right half of a broken beer mug. Inside the mug was imprisoned a tiny clown wearing a top hat and playing the accordion. He stared straight ahead with a big smile on his face that didn’t quite reach his cold, dead eyes.

I totally feel you, buddy.

The ceiling was painted light blue, like the heavens, with cotton candy clouds and half-naked cherubs flying around playing the harp.

Directly above the bar was Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, exactly like in the Sistine chapel, except for God’s disproportionately long index finger and Adam’s nether regions which looked disturbingly lobsterish, or lobster-y, or however you’d say his junk resembled a lobster.

A large antique mirror covered the back wall and with the soft red and amber glow of Tiffany lamps, the ambiance was a combo of an old west saloon and a house of ill repute.

I learned a lot working that bar. Most notably, I look amazing in brothel lighting.

It’s true what they say about folks treating their bartender like a shrink. And, I guess if you think about it, it makes total sense even though it doesn’t.

Six days a week at 4 p.m. I’d open the doors to find my regulars impatiently waiting to get started drinking and bending my ear. Sometimes they’d knock on the front window in hopes of being let in early. You could hear them all the way in the kitchen where I’d sit and pretend I couldn’t hear them.

By the way, no judgment if you need a cocktail in the afternoon. It’s a little too early for me but I get it. Besides, pretty sure that 4 o’clock counts as 5 o’clock and if it doesn’t then it should.

Once a customer asked Tony if we had a restroom, to which he replied, “No. We shit in the street.” That job was a good fit for me. Although, I stayed way too long – as one will do when hiding from whatever it is that one is hiding from.

Most of the pressing issues my crowd wanted advice about were just common sense things. Stuff adults should know and it annoyed me that they didn’t. A fact that was never hidden and also, unfortunately, not a deterrent.

My sage advice was usually along the lines of “Grow up and pull your head out of your ass.”

Perhaps not the guidance hoped for but I suppose is what’s to be expected when a disenchanted comic is your bartender, and your bartender is who you’ve chosen as a mental health provider.

It Stands to Reason

Much of my day is spent at the kitchen table periodically staring out the window. My apartment, in this tiny 16-unit complex, is on the second level and sits at the end of the 15 steps it takes to reach the top floor. I’m aware of how many stairs there are because I count them whenever going up or down. It’s not OCD, just seems like information I should have in case there’s an emergency or someone were to ask.

My view is of the courtyard, which reminds me of the one from the 1990’s soap, Melrose Place. Only without the pool, wealthy neighborhood, and good looking tenants. But we do have wild jasmine that grows in the spring and summer, so that’s cool.

From my perch, it’s possible to see and hear all the comings and goings without being spotted. Which I would find disconcerting if it was someone other than myself lurking in the shadows.

Fortunately, I’m harmless just curious.

And, if I’m being honest (which I am, cause why wouldn’t I be?) I’m not really looking to see, just looking to look. Killing time and daydreaming.

My computer is on the dining table which is why I’m also there. It’s where I like to write, or pretend to, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

I never sit at my desk. I’ve tried but it reminds me too much of school or a job. Nothing will ever get accomplished if I feel like it has to.

A kitchen feels good and familiar. Plus, that’s where I keep the food.

Once I watched as an older neighbor was taken away in a body bag. He’d only lived here for about a week and we never met, but it was still sad.

What I’m waiting to see is someone tumble down the stairs. Not because I want them to get hurt but because it just seems logical.

For 17 years, I’ve seen people carelessly bound up and down with hands in pockets, wearing flip flops, arms full of laundry and talking on the phone that’s tucked between their shoulder and crook of their neck, and yet not one face plant or even anything close.

It makes sense that at some point this lucky streak will come to an end.

Since I have nothing but time these days I’d like to see it when my theory is proven correct.

I’ll keep you posted.

I’ll Make this Quick…

Below is a challenge that’s been making the rounds on social media for a while. I’ve been tagged a few times and have always removed it as frantically as if I’d been hacked and hardcore porn was posted on my page and, to make things even better, the day before I’d finally accepted my mom’s friend request.

ChallengeAccepted #24hrs If I tagged you, don’t disappoint me. If I didn’t tag you, please, no offense. I tried to choose people I thought would make this challenge fun!! Too often, women find it easier to criticize each other instead of building each other up. With all the negativity out there, let’s do something positive! 🌟

Upload 1 Picture of yourself… just you!!!! Then tag so many beautiful women to do the same. We will build ourselves, instead of tearing us apart. 💋💙🥰
copy and paste…

Here’s why this is awful.

Now, although I do appreciate the irony of saying let’s build each other up, while simultaneously tearing each other down in the same breath, these negative “women hate women” stereotypes are stale and detrimental. Especially to girls and young women and is definitely not my experience.

My life has been full of fierce, brilliant women who are supportive and loving and badass.

Yes, let’s celebrate and empower each other! But that ain’t what’s happening here, folks.

I know, I know… it’s just a silly FB challenge so who cares, right?

Everyone should, that’s who.

If you’re a woman, have a daughter, a mother, a sister, wife, girlfriend, friend or have ever met or loved a woman, things like this should matter to you.

It’s full of heterosuggestions and propaganda (finally, I get to use the word propaganda. Goddamnit that’s sweet).

It’s ye olde divide and conquer, if you will.

I’m not saying a stupid social media challenge was written by some dude in a black helicopter trying to pit women against each other so men can take over the world. But I’m also not not saying it.

How will we (if you’re a human, I’m talking to you) ever build a world of equality and love if we continue to perpetuate these tired clichés?

We won’t.

That’s the point.

Hopefully The Sun will Come Out Tomorrow

I was in the third grade when my parents split up and we moved from a small town in Texas to a Texas town not quite as small.

My mom, big brother and I moved into a two-bedroom duplex that my grandparent’s owned and where my great-grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert See, lived in the adjoining house.

The See’s (unfortunately not the ones of the See’s Candy fortune) were Quaker tenant farmers from Illinois who’d come to live with my grandma and grandpa when they got too old to work the farm.

Robert, my great-grandfather, was in his 90’s. Tall, gangly, always wore a cardigan, work boots and pants slightly too big which were held up by suspenders. Every afternoon he’d get his cane, don a fedora, and slowly take a walk around the block.

My great-grandmother was eleven years his junior although you couldn’t tell it. I loved her even though she wasn’t very warm or grandma-y. She also didn’t seem to be a big fan of my brother or boy cousins (it’s okay, they know) but did have a soft spot for me and my cousin, Celia.

At least she was smart.

To be fair, there were always windmill shaped ginger snaps in her cookie jar, which was bright yellow and shaped like a beehive. I realize cookies are a grandma thing, but they were ginger snaps so I do believe the latter may cancel out the former.

She always prepared three meals a day. Breakfast, lunch and then usually breakfast again for supper.

Thornton was my great-grandma’s maiden name. Her great uncle (actually, not sure how many greats before uncle) was Matthew Thornton, the dude who signed the Declaration of Independence. So, I guess in a way that makes up for the lack of a candy empire that I should be running at this very moment. Because it’s my birthright. Even though it isn’t.

Matthew was the last of 56 people to sign this document. Hey, better late than never, right? Which happens to be a motto I have also adopted in my life and is a trait that obviously runs in our family.

She went by Lula but her full name was Lula Lavina, which she hated. (Not certain about the “Lula” but definitely the “Lavina”.) I liked to pretend I’d forgotten and would try to make her say it.

“Grandma, what’s your name again?”

“Oh you know my name.” she’d say sternly with a half-smile.

My mom was an emergency room nurse and also had several side hustles to support us (including working the medevac air ambulance, despite being deathly afraid of flying. Something else that runs in our family) so, I spent a lot of time on their side of the duplex.

They’d sit beside each other on the love seat holding hands, doing crosswords and resting their eyes. I’d sit in a chair across the room with my nose buried in a Harlequin romance novel and dreaming of escape.

The days seemed endless.

After my grandpa See passed our routine didn’t change.

I’ve been thinking a lot about them and that time in my life as I sit and read and the days seem endless.

Maybe it’s silly but that’s okay.

It’s what you’re supposed to do when the universe gives you time to reflect and figure your shit out.

Do what you have to do and feel what you need to feel until things return to some semblance of normal.

Until then I will read, rest my eyes, miss my grandparents and occasionally, I will have breakfast for supper.

One

                                     


The solitary life of a comedian has always been a perfect fit for me and one of the few things I miss about the road. I’ve always been a loner, which tends to get a bad rap. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a serial killer or the Unabomber. It just means you like quiet and nothingness and thinking. I do enjoy talking to people, but only until I’d rather not.

So, believe me when I tell you that I’m handling isolation like a champ.

To quote my very funny friend, (don’t tell him I said that) Murray Valeriano, “Comics have been training for this moment our whole lives.”

I’m not gonna lie, the extremes and uncertainty are scary but I’m trying to just focus on being grateful for this time to rest, reflect, and figure out what’s out of balance in my life and the entire fucking world. And, somehow, make the changes needed to fix them.

The madness isn’t going away overnight, so let’s not waste more time.

Is this the life I want to live?

Am I the person I want to be?

To be honest, not really. I came out of the gate strong but ran out of steam somewhere along the way.

But, thankfully, after lots of recent quiet and nothingness and thinking I’m starting to remember it’s never too late to course-correct.

Dear Mother Earth, Point Taken.

Day four of the Covid-19 quarantine. Here’s some stuff I’ve learned so far:

Call your parents.

Gratitude and faith.

Yelp is evil.

Eat real food.

Pray. Meditate. Laugh.

Do push-ups every day. Even if they’re girl push-ups.

Be kind. Be silly. Be brave.

Wash your hands.

Know that you’re loved. (If you already know, then let somebody else know that they are.)

Sorry, it’s just Facebook Live. You don’t suddenly have a television show.

You can’t catch the virus from yourself. But still, wash your hands.

Be informed, not inundated.

“Do what you say you’re going to do.” –  Danielle LaPorte

We’re all good and also an asshole.

Coffee, wine, and garlic. Not necessarily in that order, but sort of.

Be here now.

Trust that you’re as amazing as you think.

Had I known this was going to happen I would’ve delayed renewing my food handlers license and used the fifty bucks towards black market toilet paper.

SASSY WAITRESS

Chapter One
It was day two of a two week run in Indiana and I was standing in the back of the room waiting to go up. The night before, while on stage, I’d gotten into it with an open mic guy who was sitting in the front row taking notes during my set. Which means he was stealing my jokes.

Yep, front row. At least sit in the back where I can’t see your dumb ass.

Also, I had to break up a fight between audience members because no one who worked at the club seemed at all interested in doing it. So, I said, to two big-ole hammered farm boys, “You, aren’t going anywhere. And, you, are not kicking anybody’s ass. Both of you sit down right now.”

And you know what they said? Nothing. They just sat down.

I have found that if you speak to an intoxicated man the way his mother would, he will immediately behave. I don’t recommend this if it’s someone you feel romantic about because it kinda sets a disturbing tone. However, if that’s your thing, then have at it.

So, as I stood watching the opening act being verbally pummeled by the audience, I decided that my life as a full-time road comic was finally approaching its end.

Never saw that coming.

But, after way too many years of slugging it out on the road, I was over it. Not stand-up, but definitely the lifestyle.

I’d grown weary of living out of a suitcase, driving all night to get to the next gig, sleeping in my car or some disgusting comedy condo and staying in shitty, scary motels. I no longer wanted to deal with drunks, rowdy audiences or idiots who only wanted to hear dick jokes and thought it perfectly civilized to yell, “Show us your tits!”

Who raised these people?

I was physically and emotionally worn out but didn’t realize, or maybe just didn’t want to acknowledge, how much until that very moment.

Plus, I was always broke.

Always.

Fuck!

I was so sick and tired of never having any money, fighting with my boyfriend because of it and worrying about how to pay my bills. And also, getting to choose between eating or putting gas in my car.

In case you were wondering, the whole “starving artist” thing is way more romantic when you’re talking about it over a big, fat, juicy steak as opposed to a pack of stale peanut butter crackers. Hence the F-word, followed by an exclamation point a few sentences ago. For the record, I don’t exclamation point lightly. But then again what lady does really?

The older I got, louder became the siren’s call of having a pot to piss in or two nickels to rub together.

Perhaps someday I’d even own my very own Frigidaire. “What must that be like?” I’d ponder yet dare not say aloud.

At twenty-two, I gave up any chance of normal by pledging my undying love for stand-up. I made my mom cry, burned the boats, plus all the other stuff you do to prove you ain’t fuckin around, and then headed off in my Canary yellow 1974 Ford Pinto to make the world laugh one comedy club, hotel lounge, and one-niter hell gig at a time.

Oh, and also to assuage some unspoken ache.

I am too good enough, you’ll see!

They never see.

In a nutshell: After several years of roaming around the country and not living anywhere, I moved to Los Angeles in my late twenty’s. Met my ex-boyfriend. We lived (out of wedlock, much to my mother’s chagrin) in a great apartment at the beach for about a year. He got a job offer in San Francisco. I dramatically refused to go.

I went.

We moved into an apartment in Tiburon. That’s in Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge. We had an amazing view of the city and Alcatraz. Alcatraz sits in the middle of the Bay. There’s a light on top of the prison that goes around every six seconds warning ships that it’s there and so please don’t smash into it.

My boyfriend would sit on the couch and time the light as it went around. He’d say, visibly agitated, “It goes every 6 seconds. It’s making me crazy.”  I would respond, “Let’s not blame the light, shall we? How about you just go sit in that chair instead?” His job ended five years later and we returned to Southern California. Eight years later our relationship would follow suit.

How I Wonder What You Are

I’m not really a big television watcher however I do enjoy The Voice, (which is a singing competition in case you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t know).

My favorite part of the show is when the contestants humbly tell us that they’ve been singing since they were three or four years old. As if that somehow made them a child prodigy.

Apparently, no one has ever explained to these people that that’s the age when we humans start singing. You know, child cognitive development and all of that silliness.

At the age of four, I was killing at my house with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. My parents adored it. Well, my mom did. My dad wasn’t really around much. This wasn’t his fault, he was just very busy, trying to sleep with the babysitter.

Which, by the way, is not an easy task with two toddlers and a pesky wife underfoot.

And so it is from my father that I learned where there is a will there is a way.

 

 

Grab Your Partner

Today while leaving the grocery store, after not being able to find anything I was looking for, I spotted a table of Girl Scouts, near the front door, selling cookies.

“Screw it.” I told myself  “It’s been a crappy week. A box of Do-si-dos will make it better.”

After placing my order and then realizing my wallet was void of any cash, I said, “I’m just going to run to the ATM, be right back.”

“Thank you!” They responded excitedly.

Then I walked outside and muttered, “See ya later, suckers.”

Long story short, sometimes I’m a prick.

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