Happy Valentines Day from the gal who hasn’t felt comfortable using the word “WE” in a relationship since high school, when she went quasi-Fatal Attraction on that poor kid from Clarke Central High. Whoops.
Today Facebook and Instagram will drip with photographs and videos depicting true love.
Two people sail down a canal, locking lips underneath the key one of them holds over their heads;
A couple in love share deluge of photo-booth pictures that only represent 1/100 of the photo-booth pictures they have together; Maybe even a throwback photo or two from the time when one of your friends met the love of their life.
This was my contribution to the loveliness of Valentines Day.
I don’t mean this in the braggy, holier than thou way I might have said it as a teenager, when having male friends equaled status and power and played into that trope of the cool, badass chick that made people go, “Who-hoa-hooooa; what’s she doing hangin’ with the guys?”
Unrelated: this gif may feature Olivia Newton John in the forefront
but it is ACTUALLY about Dinah Manoff (green dress directly to ONJ’s left.)
What is she even doing?
No, I live with dudes now. It’s fine; it’s not the 24 hour party that New Girl made it out to be, but it’s alright. Still, I wish I could live with a ragtag girl-gang. It would make moments like a few days ago when I forgot to close my door way easier.
My bedroom has a bathroom in it! Yay!
I took a shower! Awesome, congratulations!
I got out of the bathroom and sat on my bed! Woohoo!
Then I remembered I threw the pants I wanted to wear behind the door! Huzzah!
I went to go get my pants! OH. OH CRAP, OH CRAP, OH MY GOD; THE DOOR WAS OPEN AND ONE OF MY ROOMMATES SAT ON THE COUCH AND OUT OF THE CORNER OF MY EYE I AM PRETTY SURE HE LOOKED MY WAY.
I shut the door and stood still for what seemed like an eternity. I stood still the way one might stand still if they were trapped on the same floor as an office assailant. I don’t know why; it’s not like that’s something they teach you to do in Girl Scouts when you try to earn that coveted “Your Male Roommate Sees Your Boob and Probably Everything Else, Too” Try-It.
Steps to earn this Try-It:
Step Number 1. Don’t earn this Try-It.
If I lived with a ragtag girl gang, it would have been a laughable mistake. It would have been,
“Hey! Your boob’s out!”
Or: “Put on some clothes, woman!”
Or a nice, well timed Dr. Zoidberg impression!
With dude roommates it’s not all fun and laugh tracks; it’s that awkward pause on an Aaron Sorkin show. If the situation had been reversed and I saw a rogue wiener, I would probably run and try to stuff myself under the couch like my cat.
Cool Sh!t of the week:
1. I did Range: Sorkin at the Pack Theater. Range is a show where comedians do serious stuff to show their range. This month’s show was themed around an episode of HBO’s The News Room and it was dooope. I got to work with the always sunny/always funny Jillian Dunn again.
2. I went to the Super Bowl in Houston. The best part, by far, was this old, old lady saying, “The Falcons ain’t been here since I can remember and I’ve been around a long time and I’m gonna be dying sometime soon, so you tell me, boy: what is two thousand dollars? I love this team more than you! Now go on!”
The boy she was talking to was the one pushing her chair.
3. I did some commercial auditions and drafted out a cover letter to send to theatrical reps. I wrote a normal cover letter and resisted the urge to simply write: “If Betsy Devos can be the Education Secretary, then I can certainly do whatever the hell is needed to be a waitress on a sitcom.” Thanks for the inspiration, Matthew Monagle.
4. I got the final edit of a film I worked on this summer. Hopefully by this time tomorrow I will have edited my reel to include footage of my British accent because the world totally needs that.
Yesterday, through some kind of small miracle, I looked at my phone and committed the time – 4:17 – to the part of my brain that actually remembers shit.
Then I started my reading Facebook feed.
First it was the slew of posts like “ACTION ITEM: DO THIS RIGHT NOW ELSE THEY WILL COME FOR YOU AND EVERYONE YOU LOVE.”
That led to a trance like state in which I read article after article about how Donald Trump fired all the people in the NSC who actually know what they’re doing and replaced them with Steve Bannon. Since more people are familiar with the (fabulous) Shonda Rhimes show Scandal than the actual NSC, let me put it like this: Steve Bannon now has control of B6-13, except in this scenario everyone knows what B6-13 does.
That led to a DELUGE of articles about the detainees in our airports, the people who were tricked into flying BACK to the middle east, protests, lawyers volunteering their time and efforts to ensure that lawful citizens can come back in, and before I knew it I was reading conspiracy theories about how Steve Bannon plans to orchestrate a fake domestic terrorist attack to add fuel to his supporters and thinking, “Whoa, this makes a lot of sense.”
I sat on my bed, staring into my phone, for over an hour. When I looked up and saw the time – 5:32 – I had two thoughts: that I could have spent that time writing or calling my representatives. I could have gone to a protest. I could have gone to shows. I could have spent that time funneling my rage into creative endeavors like sketches, stand-up, or writing in this blog.
Right now life consists of:
Sampling fruit bars and cheddar crackers in bougie, well-to-do grocery stores.
Staring at my phone and obsessing over the current state of our government.
Pushing buttons on a selfie booth where I spend hours helping people take pictures of themselves.
Staring into my phone fuming about the proudly ignorant.
Trying to pretend that I didn’t just eat some of the cheddar crackers that I was supposed to sample to others.
Staring into my phone, wondering if I should try to convince a Canadian to marry me.
Eating a whole box of cheddar bunnies and crying to the stocking manager about how I moved here to be an actress but now we’re going to blow up and it doesn’t matter plus I’m gross and why am I bringing this back around to myself?
Staring into my phone pondering Hitler and death.
I’m going to wean myself from Facebook. Not entirely, because I still want to get invited 2 partiez and also because this one lady I know posts really funny stuff about her pet rabbit, but I’m going to try to steer clear the echo chamber. I’m going to write more here and less there.
I want to be an artist and I want to be effective and the only way to do that is to create again.
COOL SH!T OF THE WEEK:
I’m going to start every Monday off with a list of cool things that happened mostly because we can and should champion ourselves, but also because I’m one step closer to being a crazy woman who hides magical stones in her bra to summon the good luck dragon that runs the universe – aw, crap. I don’t even know how it works.
Here’s some cool shit that happened in my world this week:
I booked and filmed a luxury car brand commercial. Not only did we shoot the spot smack dab in the middle of some gorgeous snow covered mountains, but the most of the crew flew in from Germany and constantly called out to each other in German. I felt like I was at the Dana Carvey show watching the “Germans Who Say Nice Things” sketch.
2. This was last Friday but we’ll include it here: I wrangled some classmates to perform a sketch I wrote for the Go Sketch Yourself! show at Pack Theater last Friday and it killed.
3. I performed a scene from Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon for my last acting class at Berg Studios and it went really well. One generous student said it was just like being at the theatre. The teacher asked why I wasn’t coming back and I said,
“I don’t have an agent and I need to be auditioning. I feel like maybe I should be using my class budget for workshops so I can try to get auditions while they are still happening.”
The teacher was silent for a second.
“I agree with you,” he said, “But you need to make sure you find a place to study. You need to stay sharp. You absolutely should have an agent and you absolutely should be auditioning. I get it. Just make sure you are learning shit, don’t just throw your money at casting directors who tell you how good you are and then do nothing.”
Then, as we went back to our seats, the class flooded with support. I know where you can take workshops! I know this one place that’s really good! I can make a referral to my rep! I can help!
I felt like my scene partner and I had worked hard and it felt good to receive and accept that kind of feedback.
I occasionally take photos (read: I set up and run a picture booth) for a chain of upscale department stores. It’s not quite Saks 5th Avenue upscale, but it’s fancy enough that someone named Theodore Penningtonsworth might shop there for a good shirt to play polo in. Let’s call it Froofy Doop.
An average, run-of-the-mill event for Froofy Doop typically happens mid-afternoon. Their junior’s section brings in a DJ and small catering team to serve hors d’oeuvres and hip, glass bottles of boysenberry-lime soda. To my knowledge they don’t actually hold a sale; it’s a trick to make people feel so good that they laugh and say, “Oh, why not?” when asked to pay $34 for a scarf made in Indonesia. While these events make little sense to me, I enjoy working them since Froofy Doop always pays attention and communicates well.
Besides – their customers are better than reading Running With Scissors for the first time.
Last week I worked two Froofy Doop holiday events. Every year, a few of the Froofy Doops invite their top percentile spenders to a special holiday themed shopping party. Servers canvass the store in search of shoppers to accept their offerings of tiny pies, finger foods, beer, fine liquor, and single serving bottles of champagne. The DJ cranks up the holiday remixes and Froofy Doop employees gather round the front doors to clap and cheer in the shoppers as a buzzer goes off. I had only seen this kind of forced, unbridled enthusiasm for retail up close and personal once – and that was when I worked a new product launch at the Apple Store.
Before the event even began, I observed their demographic in play. An older couple walked by a section devoted to an upscale teen brand. The man pointed to a sweater – a plain, grey sweater – and said, “What about that?”
His wife giggled and said, “Oh, Edward!”
Edward flagged down a salesman.
“You there,” he called, “Can you put that on the bill, too?”
The salesman nodded.
“Edward,” his wife laughed, playfully slapping his shoulder, “You’re going to spend us out of house and home!”
“Oh, stop,” he replied, and then to the salesman said, “Just bill the account.”
The music cranked up right at 7pm. The Froofy Doop employees cheered, screamed, and hollered as Laguna’s finest paraded down the line, most with the kind of leisurely stroll that suggested they had never known the vicious and *deadly competition of getting into a Best Buy at 12:01 am on Black Friday. Though the parade was peppered with the occasional customer who raised an eyebrow at the idea of getting blitzed to buy things, most took the champagne without a second thought. They drank and shopped and drank and drank and drank and drank and took lots of pictures. Who wouldn’t want to take home photographic proof that they spent enough money at Froofy Doop in 2016 to warrant an invitation to spend additional money at Froofy Doop?
One of the best parts about working the booth at an event like this is the endless flow of characters who pay me no mind and unknowingly provide a crystal clear view into their lives. People pay good money to watch fictional versions of the dysfunctional elite on premium cable and I get observe them in their natural habitat for free. I think I met pretty much every single Orange County Housewife that Bravo didn’t use.
Then I struck gold.
I heard a man’s voice say,
“If you want to grab a drink, we can get another drink.”
An older couple and their daughter step in front of the booth. The couple looked nice enough; the man had a sweater tied around his shoulders and his wife looked like a mom in a Talbot’s ad. The daughter had a shrewish demeanor and could have been the long lost twin sister to Angela on The Office – assuming you could take one hundred Angelas and condense them into a single person.
“You said you wanted to do this, so we’re doing it,” she hastily replied. She then turned to me and waved her hand to start.
“OK,” I said, “I need you to look up into the lens and smile in… three, two -”
“What?” asked the mother, three glasses of chardonnay into the evening (and possibly thirty years of not having to use her mind into life).
“She said look at the lens.”
“I’m looking at the lens.”
“No, you’re looking at yourself. Look up there,” she pointed to the lens. She motioned for me to try again.
“Alright,” I said, waving my hand above the lens the way I would normally do for babies and animals, “in three – two – hold – GREAT JOB!”
The mother wasn’t looking at the camera, but the daughter pursed her lips and decided to roll with it.
“Now you get to drag and drop these little props onto your picture,” I said, demonstrating how they could drag hats, candy canes, and other holiday cheer onto their picture by touching the screen. The mother’s hand floated toward the screen as she tried to get put a candy cane on the image. It failed to register that she had to keep her finger on the screen in order for drag-and-drop to work. She poked the booth a few times before her daughter whispered, quickly and forcefully:
“Stop it, mother. Stop it.” Her impatience and rage came through loud and clear even though she spoke in hushed tones.
Her mother, with the same glassy and vacant smile, tried to touch another icon.
“Stop it, mother. Stop. Just stop it,” the daughter whispered again, this time more violently.
“What?” her mother asked again.
“If you want something, we can just…” the daughter dragged some antlers onto the picture. The antlers are meant to go on someone’s head, but she haphazardly dropped them off in a corner.
“They should be on your head,” said the mother. She reached back out, but the daughter slapped her hand away.
“Oh my god, just stop it, Mother.”
“Should we just do another one?”
“Oh, it will be fun,” said the mother, “But I still want this one, too.”
The mother tried to get the antlers one more time.
“STOP IT, CAROL. JUST STOP IT.” It went from Mother to Carol in under a minute.
Like this. Except bottled up inside forever.
Carol’s hand reached out to the screen a few more times and, every time, the daughter swat it away with a violent, “Stop it, Carol. Carol. Stop it, Carol.”
I don’t know where the hell Father was this whole time; off in his own little world, I suppose. When he finally suggested they just print the picture and move on, the daughter turned to him and whisper-screamed, “You would suggest that. This is all your fault!”
She pressed the print button over and over in rapid succession and them walked off.
The Father and Carol, whose glassy eyed smile never left her face once during this entire exchange, followed her off into the Froofy Doop night.
The dysfunctional nature of relatively or blatantly wealthy families never ceases to amaze me.
Game time. This is my official post-election stance:
During these tumultuous times it is important that we remember to practice self care. Therefore:
A) Lizzo is taking her show on the road and I’m going to go see her and offer to help her find her phone.
B) I’ve revised all of my post-showcase cover letters to agents to say:
“yo furreal i know i’m supposed to send you a fancy well written letter outlining my accomplishments and skills and i know im white as printer paper and shit but Trump just won so fuk it which 1 of u trying to get me on Good Girls Revolt?”
Because laughter and a depletion of all them fucks.
C) I started to go through Actors Access and make all the boring housewife or otherwise female breakdowns into CRAZY AMAZING HOUSEWIFE OR OTHERWISE FEMALE BREAKDOWNS.
For those of you who don’t know what a breakdown is: it’s basically a description of a character in a show, film, or other piece of media. Casting directors put these breakdowns on Websites like Actors Access and then actors say, “Hey, I can do that!” or their agents say, “Hey, I sure hope that they can do that!”
Often – too often – breakdowns for women suck. You can go on the website and see for yourself. They just suck. So, from time to time, I find that revamping the particularly gnarly breakdowns brings me the kind of peace and calm that could rival two hours hitting a big ass tree with boxing gloves.
Here are just some of the otherwise normal, boring, terrible breakdowns that I have taken upon myself to transform into possibilities of wondrous plenty for the hungry actress:
[ BRENDA ]
Devoted wife. 25. Pretty in a real way, loves cooking for her husband BUT SECRETLY WANTS TO CHANGE HER NAME TO OSIRIS FIRECLAW.
[ GARY’S MOM ]
Female. Caucasian. 25-50. Supporting. …. THE MOTHERFUCKING REVOLUTION. DEATH TO ALL WHO OPPOSE HER. GARY’S MOM SHOWS NO MERCY, MAY YOU DIE. DIE!
[ LIZ ]
Caucasian. 18 to play younger. Pretty but not glamorous. She has an Innocence to her that can’t be denied. Liz was a comrade of Brian’s during the period now known as the orange fury. Once a quiet teenager who counted Brian as her only friend, she is now a ruthless fucking bitch who rides Brian around the countryside like a horse. YAH, BOY, YAH!
[ GIRLFRIEND ]
18 to 25 years old, all ethnicities female. Middle american, plain jane hair, girl next door type. The bringer of the next black plague, but shhh! Don’t tell anyone. Rate $350/Day.
You got a good one? Tweeeeeet me or comment or something. Because Frandship!
I wish I had something to offer that could compliment the eloquent, verbose, straightforward response to the swamp our country decided to dive into head-first last Tuesday. I cannot add onto what which has already been exhausted many times over by those with more influence and experience talking “that kind of talk” than me.
So here’s John Oliver, summing it up pretty nicely:
Except wait – I made the mistake of reading some of the comments, the majority of which were written the people who voted for this flaming sack of post-mortem turds.
Jacob writes: Clintons campaign did nothing but insult people who would vote for trump over Hillary, instead of trying to convince them that she was a better candidate, no shit people voted for Trump when the other candidate did nothing but call them uneducated racists assholes.
If I had the energy to get into an online fight with an alt-righter or Bernie Bro – and really, I can hardly tell the difference anymore – I would ask him to produce an ad in which Clinton’s camp actually attacked the voters instead of the candidate. Here’s why: The majority of Clinton’s ads were literally clips of Donald Trump. Sound bytes. News clips. Unedited bursts of vitriol. I remember how I marveled at how little Hillary mentioned policy and plans in her ads. Perhaps that contributed to a part of her downfall that can’t be owned by the die-hard Trump voters.
Clinton’s camp thought they could focus on Donald Trump’s legitimate nastiness, but they weren’t counting on the fact that a quarter of our country completely embraces that fact or simply doesn’t care. Clinton’s camp thought that America’s alleged sense of decency would influence their vote more than their desire to blame and hate. Unfortunately they were wrong.
They say that white people had no idea the country was so racist. I get that. I feel like that’s true for many of us. Those of us who grew up in the deep south, however, knew it was there. We knew the force it could become. It’s not the blatant racists or the passive racists voted for Trump that surprise me; I knew they would turn out in droves. I felt the shock nonetheless. I fell into the trap of thinking that enough of that 50% of non-voters would give enough of a shit to vote against hatred.
My bad, I guess.
I fear that Trump plans to treat America like one of his (failed) companies. He’ll be head of the board while Steve Bannon and Mike Pence do the actual running of the country. Alt-righters in the highest positions of power the white house should absolutely scare you. Bernie Bro’s who refuse to let up on the DNC in the face of our country falling prey to rampant racism, sexism, and bigotry should scare you, too. That kind of bull headedness makes one a prime target for alt-right radicalization. Divisiveness in the left should scare us. Divisiveness in the left is what will keep this nightmare train chugging along.
I treated myself to brunch in Wrigleyville since I needed to kill a few hours before reporting to to the stadium.
“Waiting for one more?” my server asked.
I shook my head and said, cooly, “Nah, it’s just me.”
Brunch, the most social of pastimes, achieves optimum brunchiness when coupled with gaggles of talkative, laughing friends. That said, I am not afraid of eating alone when I travel. This must have seemed curious to my server, who kept throwing quizzical glances my way throughout the meal. When she brought me the check, she said,
“Sorry if I seem a little amazed here, but doing brunch solo. That’s so badass!”
“No,” I said as I raised my glass to her, “You are badass!”
Turning a compliment around to include the person who gave it to me is a social technique I adopted a few years ago. It keeps me from blurting out, “I am riddled with anxiety and my soul is the same shape as one of those broken boned, crab-person demons from American Horror Story. I have accomplished nothing. NOTHING!”
If you have social anxiety then you know all too well the niceties we engage in to hide our FOUL, WRETCHED SELVES. I have spewed out monologues of praises and bouquets to complete strangers because people have to like you if you say nice stuff about them. It’s basically science.
Unfortunately, for those of us who were didn’t make it aboard the Good Ship Normal Person, one of the caveats of anxiety is the inability to accept compliments. Perhaps you have trouble listening because you’re trying to stay ahead of the game and build your arsenal of amazing, life-affirming things to say. Let’s be honest, though: you are most likely focusing too hard on the time you said something shitty to a girl in 2010. You were thinking about your gross, nasty ass so intently that you didn’t really register ANYTHING in the conversation.
That leads to something like this:
The beauty of, “No, you!” is how simple it is. Just look what happens in the illustration when Margeret turns the compliment into a sassy NO, YOU:
It works for nearly all occasions. It did have worked for my solo brunch until my server made an unexpected move.
“No, really,” she said, “You’re such a badass for going to brunch alone!”
She doubled down.
I had to double down. I laughed and raised my glass again (I have but one signature move.)
“No, you’re such a badass for going to brunch alone.”
“Yeah,” she laughed, “It’s a little different if you work here.”
SHE WORKS THERE, JAS.
IT IS HER JOB TO COME HERE AND GIVE YOU FOOD AND COFFEE WITHOUT THE AID OF HER MOST TREASURED FRIENDS.
GOD, WHAT THE FLYING FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU ILLEGITIMATE THROBBING WASTE OF A HUMAN SACK OF FLUFF.
It was as if my inner town-cryer was beating against my skull, screaming,
REVERT TO SPEWING POSITIVE, LIFE AFFIRMING RIGAMAROLE.
TELL HER SHE IS PRETTY.
“Right! I meant for working brunch,” I started. “You should be proud. You’re a hero. You’re a brunch hero. You have great hair.”
She waved her hand at me as if to let the onslaught of wonderful gibberish fall right off her fingers.
“Oh, stop,” she said.
You know where this is going, right?
Because it went there.
I got back right before the holidays and everyone had already made plans that I couldn’t just jump in on. Well, everyone except for Grandma Betty. She wasn’t really doing anything for Christmas and I decided the universe was giving me a sign to go over to her place.
Grandma was an Airforce wife. When she married my grandfather she was under the impression that he was an Air Force Ride or Die. Then my grandfather came back from a mission and announced that he would not be renewing his time with the armed forces; rather, he was going to seminary.
And so she became a priest’s wife.
We spent early Christmas Eve talking about her life. As children, we tend to not think about our grandparents as real people who led lives independent of their families before they settled down. I had no idea that she had met Clarke Gable and had boyfriends before my grandfather, but she did. It kind of blew my mind.
I ended up sharing a little bit about my then-predicament. I told her enough about my situation while sparing the uglier details, but she held up her hand and disappeared to her room. She came back with half of a picture. I recognized it from a family event that I had brought the human dumpster fire to. He had been ripped from the picture – quite viciously, too, judging from the tear. She said something along the lines of,
She pointed to the cabinet below the sink and snapped her fingers.
“There should be a bottle of Wild Turkey under there. Get it for me, would you?”
I had no idea what Wild Turkey was, so imagine my surprise when I opened the cabinet and saw a bottle of bourbon sitting next to the Lysol. A true priest’s wife, indeed.
“It sounds like you could use a glass of this stuff,” she said as she gave both of us a generous pour. It was the first time I ever drank bourbon neat. We didn’t talk about my troubles anymore, rather, we both sipped Wild Turkey and watched It’s a Wonderful Life.
This is my grandmother on one of the last extensive trips she ever made. I had overcome much of my crazy situation. Thanks to my grandmother’s support, I was able to go to a community college and get my grades back up enough to transfer into Brenau University. I was the first kid to graduate in my family. She made a point to be there even though it was difficult for her to travel.
My Aunt Susie passed away a little before my grandmother. I didn’t know her health was in decline, so it came as a bit of a surprise and shock to me.
My favorite memory of my Aunt Susie centers around my Uncle Mark and Norm MacDonald. At that point in time Norm Macdonald was having in the middle of a minor comeback as a voice actor.
Funny thing about my Uncle Mark: he sounds VERY MUCH like Norm MacDonald. So much, in fact, that as a child I just assumed they were the same person. I would tell people that my uncle was on the radio and in movies. This falsity didn’t matter much with other children too young to know better, but it became a problem when I started telling adults that my Uncle Mark was the dog in Doctor Doolittle.
My Aunt Susie overheard me and set the record straight.
“Do you know that the person you are talking about is not the same person as your uncle?”
“It’s him, I swear!”
“No, it’s an actor. His name is Norm MacDonald and he was on Saturday Night Live a long time ago. Your Uncle Mark was never on Saturday Night Live. They are two different people.”
I’m glad she did that. I probably would have kept on telling people I was related to Norm until I learned the truth via the hard way. This wasn’t out of the ordinary; I told people that my Uncle Hubert went blind after he was struck by lightning until I was seventeen years old. I was convinced that he told me so himself when I was six. The reality was this: Uncle Hubert didn’t go blind from getting struck by lightning. He went blind because his pituitary gland exploded and caused him to see a flash of white – like lightning. I told people he survived natural electrocution well into my adulthood. Well in.
With that in mind, I am grateful that Aunt Susie took the time to set me straight.
The family opted to wait and have a belated memorial for Grandma Betty and my Aunt Susie. It takes place this weekend in Darien, GA, and I can’t be there because of finances and work.
I am thinking about my family, though, and I am thinking about these two women and how awesome and loved they were while they were here.
Aunt Susie, thanks for not letting me live my life thinking that Uncle Mark was Norm MacDonald.
Grandma Betty, I’m so happy that I got to say goodbye to you back in the summer. You were a down ass lady and I’m so grateful for everything you made possible.
I spent the weekend working the photo booth in Silicon Valley. I sported active-wear all weekend to blend in with the local women:
Maybe it’s because the companies that made Silicon Valley so famous feed, entertain, and wash their employees onsite, but I had trouble finding things to do. The bars were so empty and calm. The stores had no customers. I texted Nicopolitan, who lived and worked in the SV for a spell, and he replied: There’s a mall. It has an H&M. That’s all I know.
I ended up sitting and writing at Blue Bottle Coffee for six hours. This is what a coffee shop in Palo Alto looks like:
I thought it was the fanciest place I had ever seen – until I made it to my event at Facebook Headquarters.
WOW. That was an experience. Facebook HQ is currently made up of two massive compounds. They each span multiple acres and contain their own villages that give food, entertainment, and amenities to over 15,000 employees. Both compounds have restaurants scattered throughout the campuses where employees can literally walk up and say something crazy like, “Hey, I’d like to have a cornmeal dusted sushi burrito and a nitro cold brew coffee!”
Then the people behind the counter say,
“OK! Here you go!” and then GIVE THE EMPLOYEES THEIR FOOD FOR FREE.
There’s no POS system or logging of the meals. John Smith in coding could go the Menlo Park BBQ and order ribs four times in one afternoon and no one could say shit to him about hogging all the ribs. Facebook is made of ribs.
I couldn’t make it to the ribs shack because a Facebook employee must be within 10 feet of a guest at all times and they all had other things to do. I gazed at the rib shack from the terrace and mulled over every scenario in which I could make a run for it – super speed, drafting behind a larger employee, knocking someone out and stealing their clothes – but the rib shack stood in the middle of open quad full of employees. It would be impossible to make it to the middle undetected.
NO RIBS FOR YOU. NO RIBS FOR YOU EVER.
In the end I managed to grab an escort who stood off to the side and watched me make myself a sandwich at their sandwich bar. Eggplant tapenade, freshly carved Turkey, green superfood spread – they had it all.
I had to leave the event early to catch my flight back to Los Angeles, but I managed to snag a miniature apple pie and a canned cold brew on my way out of the compound.
Speaking of airports, something about flying makes me want to ignore all common sense and pretend I’m fucking rich. I can’t count my crimes against fiscal responsibility committed in an airport. $7.99 to watch a San Andreas featuring Dwayne The Rock Johnson? Take my Visa, please!
What about that slice of knockoff Sbaro’s pizza? I shouldn’t even be eating pizza, but who cares? We’re at the airport! Nothing bad can happen to us here! Or, wait, everything bad could happen here; I might meet my death on that plane so who actually gives a fuck if I pay $60 for an airport manicure?
Shoot. Nothing brings out my stupid privilege like the airport. Let me tell you something about privilege: Privilege is when you’re ready to choke an American Airlines flight attendant because they gave you pretzels instead of Specaloos cookies and oh fuck I KNOW THEY DIDN’T JUST TURN AROUND AND GIVE SPECALOOS COOKIES TO THE PERSON BEHIND ME AFTER THEY TOSSED ME A BAG OF PRETZELS WITHOUT EVEN GIVING ME A CHOICE.
At first I felt slightly alarmed by the site of the bits and pieces of tissue floating to my left. The way they swam through the solution, plainly visible for all to see even through the “HAZARDOUS MATERIALS” stamp, made seem as though they still contained some trace of life from the human they had been cut out of. Oh, God, what if part of this person’s soul was hovering above me right now, watching me stalk people I haven’t seen in years on Instagram instead of doing my work? Oh, Double God; I moved here years ago because I wanted to get serious about my acting career and I’m spending nine hours a day as an assistant to the administrative assistant in a plastic surgery center.
Then again… How many people can say, with 100% seriousness, that they spent the day doing data entry next to two plastic buckets full of goop formerly known as Jane Doe‘s Breasts while breathing in the scent of her charred flesh? I suppose this is as an appropriate enough time as any other to note that humans, when cauterized, smell ridiculously similar to Kroger’s rotisserie chicken tossed in a salad with freshly melted hair.
If this sounds strange to you it’s because it is. Your standard outpatient surgery center wouldn’t let a slab of freshly removed belly figuratively chill with the receptionist. I’m not complaining; I kind of revel in the opportunity to be honest about my exploits in administrative work and voluntarily surrendered organs. It keeps me from literally screaming at the thought of women my age who are crushing it as creatives in the entertainment industry. They no longer have room in their lives for the joy of staring at some rich lady’s organs all day.
I came to work at the plastic surgery office, which I will affectionately call the New You Store, last March. My temp guy normally sends me on assignments where all I have to do is transfer calls and look like I’m not spending the whole day on Facebook, but he knew I was capable of doing real work and he was running out of options.
“They just need someone for a few days this week. Their regular girl left and the last few temps didn’t work out. Just please stay off your phone. The doctors saw the last two I sent on their phones and apparently had a fit. You’re a rock star, though, and I know you won’t do that.”
(Side note: It’s fairly easy to be a rock star temp. Show up on time and make sure you delete your browser history before the end of the day so they won’t know that you spent hours Googling spoilers to the end of Bridget Jones’s Baby or how long a dead animal must lie in the sun before it explodes. You can be a rock star temp for the small price of not blowing up the coffee maker or the building.)
I knew I was in for a treat when I walked into the plastic surgery center lobby and immediately thought looked like a 90’s workout video.
The staff was everything I dreamed it would be and more. The two main doctors of the practice, Dr. NewFace and Dr. NewYou – and please keep in mind that everyone gets an alias since I prefer to stay out of trouble and also because I legitimately like everyone there – are seasoned veterans in their field. After finding out that they had been practicing since before I was born I had only one question that I had to ask. That question was:
“Are you the guys… who turned… that other guy… into a tiger?” Dr. NewFace stared blankly at me.
“No,” he said, flatly, “that was not us.”
The doctors do almost every procedure under the sun. Nose jobs, injections, hair jobs, boob jobs, revision jobs over other doctors’ bad jobs… Actually, one of my favorite things that ever happened during my time there centered around a revision job. I was answering phones and took a call from a frantic woman with a thick, middle eastern accent.
“Hello, this is the New You Store. My name is Jas.”
“Yes? I am coming in today.”
“Who may I ask is calling?”
“I need to see Dr. NewFace immediately. I am coming in today!”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“I got rhinoplasty with Dr. NewFace and something is gone horribly wrong. I must see Dr. NewFace today!”
“I need to know who you are.”
Side story: I never transferred calls to anyone unless someone gave me a name I could verify in their ancient scheduling program – and sometimes not even then. We periodically received calls from a woman with a lower-middle class British accent who claimed that Dr. NewFace operated on her over ten years ago and ruined her life. According to this woman, Dr. NewFace’s surgery caused the following:
1. Her mother’s subsequent disowning of her;
2. Her husband’s subsequent leaving of her;
3. Her terrible luck in obtaining another husband;
4. Her complete inability to have children when it would have been biologically appropriate;
5. Her first and second attempted suicides;
6. A whole assortment of violent familial squabbles.
She called every few months and launched into a three minute diatribe as soon as I picked up the phone. One day she claimed that she was about to “go pro in the semi-professional Tennis world” and that, unless Dr. NewFace agreed to fix her nose, she would write about it in her inevitable tell-all book.
Dr. NewFace insisted that he never worked on her and has no idea who she was. I couldn’t find her in the ancient scheduling program.
And by ancient, I do mean “DOS ancient.”
This was why I never transferred her calls.
With that in mind, surely you understand why I was suspicious of the women who called and started making demands.
“I am coming in,” she announced.
“You need an appointment and we are all booked today!” I repeated.
“I will see you at 3:30pm.”
“The doctor will be with someone else at that time!”
“I will see you at 3:30pm.”
Of course she arrived at 4:30pm.
She had gotten her nose done with Dr. NewFace and Dr. NewYou a couple of years before, but then went to another doctor for a revision on a perfectly good nose job. That second doctor completely destroyed her nose. It looked like Michael Jackson’s famous pencil shaving nose, but with an inflated balloon stuck in the middle. Dr. NewFace finally came out to see her and all it took was one quick glance for him to literally yell,
“WHAT DID YOU DO?”
The yelling faded as he took her back to his office, but suddenly the door swung open and out the door, clear as a bell, the doctor cried,
“I can’t just put it back! Your nose is literally in the garbage somewhere!”
“You need to fix it!”
“It doesn’t exist anymore!”
“But I need to have it fixed!”
“Two things: you have to wait at least six months before I can even TOUCH your nose. It could literally fall off. That’s a real thing that actually happens. Also I have no idea what this other guy did. I won’t have an idea unless you get him to release his records to you. Then and only then will I be able to see what can be done.”
He turned to me.
“We are done here. It’s up to her to make an appointment. I’ve got nothing until she does.”
He turned and left. The woman paced back and forth in front of my station, stealing glances of her face in the hall mirror. She’d touch her face and whisper, “We will fix this.”
She finally turned to me and said,
“Does this look OK to you?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, playing dumb.
“Would you look at my face and think I am ugly?”
“Um…No? I’m also not a doctor. Or a medical professional. Like I never went to a technical college or anything. I can’t draw blood.”
“But do you think I am ugly?”
“No,” I said. I wanted to add, “I think the fact that you got your nose done by Dr. NewFace and then paid another doctor to chop it up so bad you felt the need to bust in here with no appointment and make demands of us is ugly, but your nose? Eh. I’ve seen worse.”
“Can I see the doctor again?”
“I’m pretty sure he’s with a patient.”
“Can you ask?”
I dialed Dr. NewFace’s extension.
“Dr., she –”
I pretended to listen for another minute before I hung up the phone.
“Dr. NewFace says he is very sorry, but he’s just booked back to back until the end of day. See what you can find out from your other doctor and give us a call.”
She took one last look at herself and left the office repeating, “We will fix this. We will fix this. We will fix this.”
Patients travel from all over the world to have these guys work on them.
Once, a man flew in from Eastern Europe with his teenage daughter. One of her eyes sat lower than the other and her jaw failed to sync up with the rest of her face.
“This is after three operations,” he said in a thick, brisk accent, “and I am marrying her off in three weeks. She cannot meet his family looking like this.”
“They’ve never seen her?” asked the nurse.
“No,” the dad said. He might as well have said, “Duh.” I am no doctor, but three weeks to perform an intensive facial reconstruction and heal from said facial reconstruction enough to fool your betrothed and new in-laws into thinking you never had significant facial deformities seemed like stretch. They used the least invasive surgical techniques available, but the girl still had to have a make-up tutorial session with our aesthetician to learn how to conceal the bruising.
I wanted to ask the nurses,
“Now, how in the actual fuck is she going to make it through her wedding night without knocking something loose in her face?”
I couldn’t imagine a scenario in which the husbands in arranged marriages were gentle lovers. Everything I came up with was more like Kal Drogo turning Daenerys Targaryen over on a rock and raping the shit out of her – and that would definitely knock an implant out of place.
Patients who needed extra attention – which was their way of saying patients who are total pains in our collective asses – got a gold star sticker on their chart. One gold star patient called constantly to ask questions that had already been explicitly covered in her pre-operative instructions. Then, after her nose job, she called to ask if she could remove the cast so she wouldn’t look silly at a rave. The question was so incredibly stupid that I feared Dr. NewYou would stroke out if I asked him. I don’t know what I would have done if the nurse hadn’t taken the phone from me and said,
“You want to go to a rave? First of all, no. You cannot go to a rave with a nose that’s not even two days out of post-op. Second of all: listen, dummy, what are you gonna do when you remove that cast and your face swells up like a friggin’ balloon? I — NO. That cast is on there so that your shit stays in place and it doesn’t come off until you come here and we take it off.”
The nurses there were so badass.
They offered me a full time position at the plastic surgery center, though for the life of me I cannot understand why. I constantly misfiled things. They never trained me in much more than minor day-to-day details since they rarely knew if I was even coming back the next week, so I frequently ran out of things to do and would surreptitiously check my phone. I almost always asked the other admin assistant, who was a great deal younger than me, where to find missing charts instead looking for them myself. She would stop whatever she was doing, come out of her office, look on the shelf, and pull it out with ease, leaving me to wonder why I was even alive.
Once I absent-mindedly let someone who had just gotten intensive rhinoplasty sit in the lobby. We were never supposed to allow anyone with visible bandages in the lobby to begin with, but blood still trickled from this woman’s face. It was only after she complained of being too hot that I thought to ask the if we could room her, but by then my error had caused an office wide panic. Dr. NewYou’s administrator ran out in the lobby and scooped the patient over her shoulder, acting like a human crutch, and helped her to the aesthetician’s room.
I put a patient in danger. I should have been sent home on the spot and told never to return, but they still asked me to come back.
They actually hired three women while I temped there, but all three of them quit within a week. One said it was too boring; another said she didn’t appreciate how Dr. NewYou got so close to her when checking the schedule. I remember feeling that way until I realized that Dr. NewYou’s eyesight was so bad that he had to wear special headgear during surgery to support the lenses that allowed him to see.
I hemmed and hawed when they finally called me into the office and asked me if I wanted a proper position within the company. I had just moved to east east east Los Angeles and my commute had gone from 40 minutes to an hour and a half. I wasn’t the biggest fan of their neighborhood, either; the novelty of working in what was essentially mash-up of Abu Dhabi and New Jersey wore off within weeks.
“We really like you,” they said, “We think you fit in very well here and we’d love to have to stay and dedicate some real time here.”
I told them I’d think about it, but I knew that I couldn’t stay. I booked out the following week and somewhat forced them to try out another temp. To the best of my knowledge that temp is still with them.
I do enjoy my stranger stints of employment. I also liked working there while it lasted. However… it’s someone else’s turn to keep Jane Doe’s breasts company.
Farewell, breasts. I will never forget that magical day we spent together.