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Honk Honk!

I get honked at a lot. Not the “Hey sexy walking on the sidewalk” kind of honk, but the “Hey you really suck at driving” kind. I’m not a slow driver, or absent minded, just bad. I’ve always been bad at driving, and it’s only sort of my fault.

When I was 15 years old, I enrolled in the mandatory driver’s ed course, the teacher never made me do anything more than parking lots. The other kids in the class always tried to sign up for driving practice in my group because whatever group I was in always got to stop for ice cream, “teacher’s treat.” One student would drive to the ice cream store, with the teacher in the passenger seat and me and another student in the back. Then I would drive successfully around the parking lot, and we would get ice cream. Then the other student would drive back to the building where class was held. Yeah it was weird, and no, the teacher wasn’t a creep. He just was really lenient with me and liked to buy me ice cream and give me A’s on all my tests. So I passed driver’s ed without ever learning how to drive on an actual road.

I never had to take a road test at the DMV either. Hopefully this practice has changed, but 10 years ago, in Iowa, the DMV would pick a random number between 1-31 each month. If the number was 22, for example, if you went to get your driver’s license and your birthday was on the 22nd of any month, you had to take a drivers test (on an actual road). If it was any other day, you didn’t have to. Why would they do this? My best guess is that way they only need to have one road test administrator every day and maybe a few more on the 22nd when a bunch of just-turned-16 year olds would be eager to get their license. Of course, if you weren’t too eager, you could always just wait until the next month when the number would change and avoid taking the test. I did take the written test. I passed it on my third try. But who follows those rules anyway?

So I was issued a driver’s license but didn’t know how to drive. My parents were aware of this, of course, and made me log in extra hours practicing with them before I was allowed to drive by myself. The first time I ever drove by myself, about a month after getting my license, I was on my way to work and had to cross Locust, which was a pretty busy street. I hadn’t developed my sense of timing as a driver yet, so my technique was “just close your eyes, push hard on the gas, and pray.” This was the first time I ever tried this technique, and I made it across the street and continued on. Behind me on Locust street, I heard the squealing of tires and honking. I’m not sure if the loud crash sound was real or something I imagined. But the local paper didn’t have anything about it the next day, so I think everything was probably ok.

Now that I’ve been driving for nearly 10 years, I’m a lot better than that, but still pretty stupid sometimes. I somehow memorized a rule I call “Left on red.” It sounds correct in my head, like “i before e, except after c” and I think I have finally re-trained myself that “left on red” is very wrong.

LA drivers have little patience with me, and I get honked at A LOT. But get this, I have never ever honked my horn. Not even once. Sometimes I want to, when someone tries to merge into my lane and doesn’t see I’m there, but I never do. I hesitate, afraid that my horn will startle the other driver and cause an accident. I don’t even honk when someone does something illegal, like “right on red.”**

**Just kidding about right on red. Mom, if you happen to read, this, I’m sorry if I scared you.

Just got home from a three day trip to Tahoe to see my sister, Trace. She took a job at Heavenly this winter for two reasons: to have a good time and to become a better snowboarder. Let’s be honest. When she started the season, she was pretty awkward, maybe even terrible. But now she is an inspiration to anyone who sucks on the slopes. She’s a great snowboarder! I was very impressed.

Trace and I were never meant to excel on the slopes. We grew up in Iowa, where it snows a lot, but the land is flat. There is a “mountain” for skiing called Snowstar in Andalusia, IL. The lyrics to the theme song went like this: “Snowstar! You’ve got to ski it to believe it! Where to go for some ex-cel-lent SNOW!” I just checked out the Snowstar website, and it doesn’t seem as sad and terrible as I remember, but then again, maybe it was just my one experience there that was sad and terrible.

In 1998, my 8th grade class went on a ski trip to Snowstar. I had never skiied before, but everyone in my class seemed to know how, so I decided to just follow along and not take a lesson. You know, a lesson? What total dorks take? I’m sure that was my train of thought. Did I think about the fact that I was the worst kid athlete in the history of Holy Family Parish School? No. And what good would a lesson do me anyway?

I got my skis on and pointed them down the hill. I flew down the hill, way faster than my friends, proud that I seemed to have some natural talent at skiing. At the end of the hill, I just fell over on the ground because I never learned a proper stop technique. The fall really hurt too, because I was going so fast. But I had to go fast. I never learned proper turn technique.

My friend Mary skiied over to me at the bottom of the hill and helped me get on my feet. “You were going so fast, I thought you were going to hit something, go flying, and DIE!” Mary told me. It was that moment that I found out that skiing was dangerous.

We went over to lift, a two person chair. I ended up being odd 8th grade student out and had to ride the lift with a stranger. A man. We didn’t speak. The chair moved slowly, and I could hear my classmates in the chairs in front of me and behind me talking to each other. After what seemed like forever (it was a pretty slow lift), I could see we were getting close to the top. Without warning, the stranger leaped forward and high into the air, and skiied off. What a daredevil. The lift was now lowering to a level more comfortable for most skiers, no leaping necessary. I was almost comfortable, but decided to wait until the lift dipped just a little lower. It did, more comfortable for me, but it could still go lower. I waited patiently for it to go as low as possible when…it suddenly started going higher! And higher. And it turned around to face the bottom of the hill.

This is where someone is supposed to stop the lift and help the poor skiier get off. Today, the lift operator at Snowstar wasn’t paying attention. And so I rode around, ALL THE WAY AROUND, on that lift while my sweet sympathetic classmates laughed, pointed, and took pictures (for the yearbook). I was embarrassed, pathetic, and alone with a bunch of empty chairs.

Once I reached the bottom, I rode the lift back up, got off the lift correctly, returned my skis, and went to the lodge for six hot chocolates.

Years later, I took ski lessons in Canada. I’m a decent skiier now, but I’m very slow. I’m still very afraid that if I go too fast, I will “hit something, go flying, and DIE.” This weekend, I had a great time skiing at Heavenly with my sister. We had no problems with the lifts, but yesterday we decided to end early anyway and head into the lodge for our equivalent of six hot chocolates: a cold pitcher of beer. And a brownie sundae.

Y2K + 10

10 years ago tonight, I partied like it was 1999. My mom dropped me off at Daniel’s house so I could ring in the new century with my “theatre friends.” If I told Mom I was hanging out with “theatre friends,” she would be certain there would be no trouble, so therefore, no curfew.

As she drove away, I dragged my large duffel bag on the ground toward the house. It was heavy. So many cans of food (including a seven pound can of chocolate pudding), bottles of water, a flashlight, first aid kit. It was my Y2K Pack, “just in case.” I was surprised no one else brought Y2K supplies, but I was relieved. If Y2K turned out really bad, and someone suggested eating each other, they probably wouldn’t eat me since I brought some supplies.

We listened to REM’s It’s The End of the World As We Know It, like we did every New Year’s Eve because TEENS RULE. We watched the ball drop in Times Square on tv and I imagined how I would someday go to Times Square every year to watch the ball drop. My dreams have changed since then. I decided never to watch the ball drop live once I learned that a lot of those people wear diapers so they can go to the bathroom on themselves and not lose their place in front of the action. That sounds like too much fun for me.

There was no Y2K disaster and eventually the seven pounds of chocolate pudding were eaten. I have lived in five places in the past ten years and I have changed direction on many things, like politics, religion, and whether or not onions taste good. But a few things remained unchanged, such as New York City is the greatest place on earth, I love the theatre, and chocolate pudding is amazing.

Happy New Year!

Names

This is me, live from Spokane on Christmas. I know the holidays aren’t a pleasant time for everyone, but in general, I have a pretty good time.

The only time the holidays feel unpleasant to me is when I’m at the mall. It’s not the shopping or the crowds that bother me, though. It’s running into people I went to high school with but I can’t remember their names. It always happens. I’m not a jerk, I just have a really hard time with names.

Three years ago, while standing in line at Spokandy to buy some fudge, a guy came up to me and whispered “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!” I didn’t feel so bad that I couldn’t remember his name. He was nothing but a vague memory of a high school production of Godspell to me.

Sometimes I get lucky and run into someone I remember, and it’s such a relief. But I’ve had many more experiences hiding behind clothes racks, my heart beating fast, hoping that person I stood next to in choir wouldn’t come over and say “Hi Margie!,” to which I would have to respond “Hi—how are you? You have real talent as an alto, as I recall.”

What’s new?

Recently:

I joined a gym. 4 days ago. I’m sore everywhere. I have taken three baths today, and I took four yesterday. I have a personal trainer who is very nice but is horrified by my body fat percentage. Although it is considered in the “fitness range” (which is between “athlete” and “acceptable”), we are working to get it in the Auditioning in Los Angeles range. I don’t know what that means, but my PT promises to tell me when I get there.

I just ate a bunch of rich, delicious food. Shhh don’t tell my PT! PT, did you google me and find this?!

I have become obsessed with Trader Joe’s. It’s not like the one in Union Square. The line doesn’t snake around the store twice AND there is food on the shelves!

The Ducks are going to the Rose Bowl and so am I! It’s in Pasadena, so that’s like a 20 minute drive (3 hours in traffic).

Christmas spirit is in full swing. I listen to Boyz II Men’s Let It Snow at least once a day. Twice today– it was playing at Trader Joe’s!

Charlie Sanders and I are starting a storytelling show next Thursday called “This One Time,” and hopefully it will become a regular thing in the new year. The great people at the Zephyr Theatre on Melrose are letting us host it there. And really funny people you’ve heard of or will someday hear of will tell some real gems, I promise. More details coming soon.

Also, I added a standup clip to this website, so check it out if you’re curious.

I’m in Spokane, Washington. No, I didn’t lie about moving to LA just so I could move in with my parents. I leave for LA tomorrow!

I’m bummed I can’t be at Rodeo Bar or Hold For The Laughs tomorrow night (those were the comedy shows I produced in New York). But I am going to Disneyland on Friday, where I will go up to Mickey Mouse and say “I’ve waited my whole life to meetchu!!” just like the little girl in the commercial that plays before the feature on my The Santa Clause VHS.

When I am at home with my parents in Spokane, I can’t stop eating. I ate a lot in NYC, but it was on the proper schedule and I got a lot of exercise (walking). At home, I get bored, and when I’m full, I eat more. The food here is fantastic and not at all boring. Whatever you want, you just write it down on a piece of paper called a grocery list, and then it magically appears in a few hours.

In NYC, for the entire month of August and half of September, my breakfast was Mickey Mouse Shaped Chicken Nuggets. Oh god, now you think I have a Disney problem. No, that’s simply what they sell at Costco. I made it my mission to finish that large bag before I moved, and I did. And I lost five pounds or something. That’s my guess anyway, because I shipped my scale three weeks before the move. Maybe I should write a diet book about nuggets for breakfast? Readers, you may vote on that in the comments section of the blog.

The image I found of a Mickey Mouse Nugget looked gross, so Im not using it.

The image I found of a Mickey Mouse Nugget looked gross, so I'm not using it.

But here in Spokane, trying to eat all the groceries is disastrous to my waistline, simply because there are so many groceries. I have tried to solve the problem by eating out, like I would in New York. But now it’s worse, because not only do I have groceries, but I also have leftover Italian and Chinese food.

Right now, I just had my second dinner. And I’m still full from my second breakfast!

LA will set me right again. How do I know? Because I’ll be with my boyfriend, whose favorite foods are broccoli and frozen blueberries.

Peptember Chorth

It’s my birthday! “Peptember Chorth” is the hint that several friends use to remember it. I haven’t talked to my mom today yet, but I have to remember to be sensitive. I was 9lbs when I was born, and that can’t be a pleasant memory.

Tonight, my friends who don’t have Labor Day Weekend travel plans will celebrate at the Cherry Tree in Park Slope. It’s one of my favorite bars.

I always go to a favorite bar on my birthday. My first bar birthday was at Rennies in Eugene. The next year, I was in DC with my parents briefly visiting them before my move to New York, and we went to this fancy little bar in Alexandria. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was one of my favorites because my dad paid for the drinks.

My first NYC birthday was at Bamboo 52. The birthday girl drinks for free, and her friends get a good happy hour. A friend from Iowa and a friend from New York hooked up in the bathroom that night. Worlds collide.

Last year, I was in Anchorage, Alaska for my birthday. I met my boyfriend’s wonderful family, went hiking, camping, and observed lots of moose. It was a difficult time for me emotionally, because a good friend had just had an accident two weeks prior and was in a coma. When I returned, I had my party near the hospital Joe was in, at one of his favorite bars: Rodeo Bar. It was a wonderful evening, even though there was some kind of small hurricane/major rain. Also, Joe couldn’t be there. But damn, those margaritas are STRONG.

Today, I’m making cookies. When I woke up, I listened to the cast recording of Bright Lights, Big City. Many people aren’t aware that it was made into a musical. Judge as you wish. I made the dogs’ airline reservations and walked to the store for cookie stuff. My dog, Donna, is being extra attentive to me, like she “knows” or something. And for the first time in years, I get to celebrate my birthday with my sister. I wish Joe could be there tonight, but I’ll visit him this weekend, and we’ll have some laughs. Dan can’t be there tonight either, since he’s working in LA, but knowing that we’ll be living in the same place very soon makes me the happiest. I have a very good feeling.