Los Angeles

Day 26:

Earlier today, I came across a question on one of those old facebook surveys that we used to fill out and then post in the notes section or whatever it was called way back in the beginnings of facebook before the Russian bots and racist family members took over and ruined it all. And this question I found has awakened this memory that might as well have been Eternal Sunshine‘d out of me, but now I so vividly remember fondly that it’s today’s Camp Nano: Question of the Day. Day 26.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

Once upon a time in my foolish early 20s, I had a friend named Ijah who lived way out in Sylmar, which feels really far away when you live in Studio City and have an old car that doesn’t have a/c in it. Ijah and I were in a band (I know, this is what I do, I make bands with people and then don’t learn how to actually play music) and we would practice in her garage, and by practice, I mean, Ijah playing piano and singing really loud and me writing songs and pretending I could play guitar.

Me in Ijah’s garage pretending I could play guitar.

Ijah wasn’t your typical, early 20s, Southern California girl. She was loud. She was brash. She ate the apple all the way through, core, seeds, stem, all of it. She drove like a maniac. She walked around naked. She once got fired from her job and still showed up the next day in uniform and clocked in and started working until they sent her home. She had bright red hair that was completely natural, it just grew from her head that way. And to top it all off, she wore these really not in style, wire-rimmed glasses. Non-ironically. And we didn’t even say that back then.

During our garage band practices, we would practice for about 15 minutes and then we’d usually end up doing other things like drink tea and have her mom read our tarot cards and then we’d go explore Sylmar on foot. Sylmar is actually where the high school scenes of Encino Man were filmed so if you want an excuse to go watch the movie again, here’s your excuse. You’re welcome. Anyway, Ijah and I would just walk around and talk about stuff, people we were crushing on, the band, I don’t even remember, actually.

I remember one day we were at the bottom of the hill that went into her neighborhood and we didn’t want to walk back the whole way, I remember it was really warm that day. An ice cream truck slowly passed us with that music playing, so we ran up to catch it and flagged it down. We bought some ice cream cones, I think mine was strawberry for some reason, and then Ijah bribed the guy to let us hop on the back of the van and take us up the hill.

Okay. You know how they won’t let you do a bunch of adult things when you’re young like, rent a car? Well, this is why. Young adults don’t make good decisions.

The ice cream dude waited for us to hop onto the bumper and grab on to these poles that were on the back of the van and then the music started and we were off. I was on the driver’s side, meaning that my dominant hand, my right hand was holding an ice cream cone while my ridiculously weak arm was trying to wrap itself around the pole and not fall. My left arm was shaking and I could feel my Chuck Taylors sliding off the metal bumper as we started climbing the hill and I kept trying to scooch my feet back closer to the van, but this was a normal sized bumper so standing sideways, one foot in front of the other was as close to scooched as I was going to get anyway.

We were probably only going 15 miles an hour, but it’s uphill. I have ice cream running down my elbow on one arm, the other one is trying to keep it together and not let us fall us, while whimsical, ice cream man, clown music is playing the theme song to my bad choices. And I’m sweating.

It was the longest 2 minutes of my life and I don’t know how I didn’t die that day, but life lessons were learned. One of them is that I am not as cool or carefree as a tardy Marty McFly, and especially when he was that werewolf and got on top of that van to surf.

Day 24

I had a migraine harshin’ my vibe all day, so this will probably be on the short side but the point of it all, I’m still going strong on Camp Nano goals so, I can’t stop now. Day 24: Camp Nano project, question of the day.

What is your biggest regret?

Source: I don’t know

Everything I do is a biggest regret moment, so with that in mind, just know that I know it’s all trivial but try telling my brain that at 3am. However. My biggest regret in the last 12 months has got to be going all LA on a neighbor here, but not intentionally but, okay look. We had just moved here from The Valley. I love The Valley and everything about it; let me preface this. And where we lived in the valley (Encino) we had across the living room window neighbors that were The Worst. And the woman that lived there was… not of the societal norms of the mental health scale and I’m not saying this to be a horrible person (I am horrible for tons of other reasons), I just don’t know how else to describe her without going INTO IT. She would decide on a whim that you were the devil, reasons unknown, and then actively make your life misery. Like, conspiracy level misery where you’re gaslit into buying skunk spray to spray into their a/c unit in the middle of the night misery. I’ll write a whole book on THAT one day. Her husband was an ex-gang member. He was harmless and nice and the only thing that annoyed me about him was the loud parties he threw with all his gang banger friends outside of my bedroom window every other night.

Last summer, we had just moved away from this and come here in our new home and our new life, and this nice woman and her nice husband with their nice kid are outside of my front yard playing frisbee and the frisbee hit my window and I went FULL ON LA on them and skunk eyed them out my front window like I had a point to PROVE. It was a gut reaction. I’ve spoken to her since, moths later, and she brought the frisbee thing up to me and apologized for it. And if I didn’t feel like a jerk before, well, hahah.

This is Colorado. Everyone here waves at you, yells “Hello!” to you across the parking lot, I’m not used to this. You do NOT make eye contact with strangers in LA and you don’t flag them down to say “Hello!” unless you’re trying to get them to go to your “fun church!” or you’re about to mug them.

And I was so excited to meet this woman and make friends! But now she’s scared of me. I know it. I see it. She avoids me, they don’t play in front of my house anymore, except the one time a month or so ago when she was playing frisbee again with her kid in front of my house and I was taking a picture of her belly out my window to show my mom that I thought maybe she was pregnant??? and I was caught taking the pictures and now I’m the crazy one.

How do I fix this? How do you retrain yourself to trust other people enough to small talk because this sounds like the absolute worst to me, to be fair.

Whatever, I don’t need her. I made some mom friends these past couple weeks at my kid’s swim lessons and we talk about childbirth and perimenopause symptoms so you know, I’m still cool. I’m young. I’m hip.

I’m not. I’m shaking the broom at youngsters on my lawn, let’s call it for what it is.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Day 23: Next Door

6. You Have Been Given The Opportunity To Create The Half-Hour TV Show Of Your Own Design. What Is It Called And What’s The Premise?

Source

This is such an exciting question because I KNOW ALREADY!! And it’s kind of helped jumpstart the novel I’m actively not working on.

A couple of years ago, I starting walking around the neighborhood with one of my friends from the PTA because we were trying to get in shape because wine was making us gain weight. Our walks were hilarious. We pretty much laughed the entire time but we also cried. And we plotted and schemed and worried someone was going to write about us being “suspicious” on NextDoor and called an uber when we walked too far and didn’t want to walk back because it was too hot and we were sweaty and hungry. Not all in one day, obviously.

There were a rash of home invasion robberies happening in the neighborhood at the time, it was on TMZ! and so while brainstorming ways to get attendance up at our monthly community meetings, the board president (at the time) decided to invite a member of the LAPD Encino division to come talk to us and answer questions we had about things we could do to protect ourselves. Dogs and cameras an motion lights were the main things I remember. Until my favorite part of the night. One of the moms started complaining that they were opening up a halfway house on her block and she demanded it be closed down. Somehow that got everyone riled up into forming a neighborhood watch and the meetings would be held in front of the halfway house until they got so nervous, they’d move it or something else histrionic. It sounded exactly as ridiculous and overdramatic at the time.

A neighborhood watch. Imagine a bunch of middle aged, upper-middle class, white women chasing perceived hooligans off their lawns in rhinestone’d flip flops. It’s too much. So for our next walk, in tears of laughter, my friend and I decided to start the first shift of Neighborhood Watch.

The thing that these walks became, it wasn’t about losing wine weight anymore, it was about our friendship, and staking our place in the neighborhood. We walked through everything from a marriage breaking up to the PTA eating itself alive, to my eventual move away.

I used to have wine nights with another friend of mine, Carol. And one night I told Carol about the walks and it hit me that they would make an AMAZING tv show. Every episode would be us on a walk. Every character would live in the neighborhood and we would run into them during our walks and that would be the show. I would call it Next Door or something else less likely to get me sued. She told me to write a book about it.

So my original novel that was just about funny things about being on the PTA has evolved into this thing that has evolved into an opus and it’s so big and so overwhelming at this point, that I need to take a break from it and also just finish it at the same time. I’m just not sure I can do it justice, so wish me luck on finishing that beast. But I will. And hopefully it will make one person laugh.

Day 15: Hollywood

We’re going to rein in what is quickly becoming an angsty diary instead of what was supposed to be a fun Camp Nano project. See? This is what happens. I overshare and then I get anxious that I’ve overshared and then I don’t want to share anything because I figure that the whole world now hates me and wishes I would shut up. But we’re in the middle of this project and I still have a ways to go. So let’s pretend my 15 year old emo self was never even here. Camp Nano project: Question of the Day. Day 15.

What fictional character is amazing in their book / show / movie, but would be insufferable if you had to deal with them in mundane everyday situations?

source: here

Character tropes are fun. As a writer, you get to flesh out a “person” into a 3d living, breathing entity, the quirkier the better. As readers, we get to get inside this character’s world. Hang out with them. They seem really cool and we want to be friends with them. Maybe it’s the “manic pixie girl”, maybe it’s the “tortured artist”, maybe it’s not a character in a book at all! Maybe it’s the stand-up comedian, maybe it’s a rockstar, or a movie star. Personalities set to 11.

I lived in Los Angeles for 21 years up until last summer. I love Los Angeles. I love the culture of Los Angeles. I love the people in Los Angeles. And a lot of people in Los Angeles have hiked their personalities to 11. Sometimes, it’s wonderful, other times, it’s plain awful.

Los Angeles doesn’t exist on the same plane as anywhere else. Possibly NYC but I can’t speak to that as I was only there once for like a day, although I’m going to assume it’s still not. My outsider view of New York is that people don’t put up with your nonsense. People in Los Angeles encourage it. A whole town of people encouraging other people’s dreams. It’s glorious. To an extent. And let me preface this with saying that this is young Hollywood. This is “haven’t made it yet” Hollywood. Once someone gets a touch of fame, people come out of the woodworks to grab onto their coattails and instagram selfies with their new bff, and leverage their relationships to build up their xp points. (Did I use that reference right? I always hear the kids playing Fortnite or Sea of Thieves or something and yelling to their friends about xp points. I think I’m right. Let’s go with it.)

Then there’s the middle tier people and a lot of them are amazingly wonderful and just trying to do a job but a lot of them would also drop you like a sack of potatoes if need be. Then the absolute worst ones are the ones that have bought into their own fame whatever level that is. And then you get the STARS. The people who don’t think twice about picking flies out of your wine for you and rubbing lipstick off your teeth in the middle of a sentence and envy that you live in an apartment. And not one of these people act like your standard midwesterner. Even though most of them are from there.

My favorite are the two on the ends of fame; the haven’t made it set, and the famous that doesn’t need to act famous set. Obviously, I’ve met and known a significantly higher number of the never made-its. But the innocence of both sides of fame is fascinating.

A few years ago, my kids and I were at a neighbor’s birthday party. It was in a party room at the Dave & Buster’s at Hollywood and Vine overlooking the black carpet premiere of Ghostbusters. I wish I would’ve taken a picture of it, but when there’s a movie premiere or an awards show, they close Hollywood Blvd to traffic, (obviously) but people can still walk the Walk of Fame and the stores are all still open, but it’s all barricaded off and they put up bleachers and big fake walls that say E! on them or whatever and make Hollywood look glamorous, and limos are rolling up and glittery gowns are stepping out onto the carpet that’s covering up the boulevard and cameras are rolling and big lights with filters are making everything look perfect. But what you don’t see on tv is that 10 feet behind the wall that say Chris Hemsworth is being interviewed in front of, the guy that actually works Hollywood Blvd dressed as Miss Piggy is puking into a trash can next to a dj passing out club flyers to tourists in fanny packs. And none of this is probably new information, but to have an aerial view of it, split screen and in real time is AMAZING.

The other time I remember noting the dichotomy of Hollywood was a few years after I moved to LA. I went with my friend to an audition to be a phone sex operator. And I’m sitting in this office building with other voice actor hopefuls with an unobstructed view of the Hollywood sign. It felt VERY Pretty Woman.

I haven’t even answered the question yet, this is how I get when I think about Hollywood. Anyway, all of this to say that there are a lot of people that would make great characters that live in LA. I had a neighbor who was a clown and she would answer the door in a clown suit and she drove an uber. I don’t know if she combined the two, but it’s Hollywood so it could go either way. And then there was the girl that video recorded everything, every conversation she had and claimed that she was was friends with Ray J and he wanted to produce her reality show. That was like 10 years ago, I’ve never seen her on tv.

I hung out with artists and comedians and writers and actors and some of them have actually found fame. I’ve been at those parties in West Hollywood with all of these personality to 11 people, you’ve seen those parties. Someone runs by naked, and others are sleeping in the bathtub, while someone is playing the guitar on the toilet, and people are painting in the corner and there’s loud music and everyone knows everyone and people are talking about their scripts or their headshots. The kind of parties that you see in movies about Hollywood. They’re real. A nerd like me has been to a bunch of them. And they were fun. But much like characters in book or a film, most of these people don’t stick around for longer than their story. Sometimes I’ll see one of the people I know back then on tv, or scrolling tumblr, there’s another one holding an emmy. But we never bonded over friendship the way you normally do. We bonded fast and quick like a makeshift family because we all came here alone. And we all supported each other in our dreams and then our dreams took us on a different journey.

Then there are the ones that are the embodiment of wacky love interest, unconventional girl in some movie written by a dude. These girls are a hot mess in real life. All of them either move back home , wind up in jail, or are dead from an overdose in 6 months. Let this be a lesson to all my Hollywood hopefuls, don’t ever allow yourself to become a trope out of some guy’s version of romance. Hollywood will eat you alive.

Los Angeles. I love you with my whole heart.

Day 7: Girl Meets Rider

Oops. I forgot to do Day 7 because yesterday (day 7) I was so worried about the appraiser from the bank that came into our home this morning and I was on Operation: Hide all Undies and Other Signs that we Live Here AND it was also the MLB All-Star Game and well, I didn’t finish this one. I’m going to try to do two of these today. Day 7 (pretend that it is) is exciting because this is basically how I live through all my relationships. If we’re friends, I’ve already assigned you a tv show character. Or a Beatle. I don’t make the rules. I do make the rules, actually.

If You Had To Compare Yourself To One Fictional Character, Who Would It Be?

Source: I don’t know.

My biggest problem with this question is that it says to chose one. I have several. This is one of my favorite sorting systems. Some of you use Harry Potter houses which I find fascinating and also confusing because I have only seen the first couple of movies and I never read the books and I’m kind of overwhelmed with the whole research needed to understand it and the closest I have ever gotten to using the houses as a personality measure is when I’ve told my husband to “stop getting all hufflepuff” over something. I don’t even know what hufflepuff means in the Harry Potter universe but it’s now become an actual word in my house that roughly translates to getting all worked up over something ridiculous. Which actually, now that I think about it, maybe I can’t learn the real meanings of the houses because “Hufflepuff” has its own life living as an adjective in my house and I’m sorry, JK Rowling, that’s just how it is now.

I’ll extend this out to to two posts because I have a lot to say about all of it. And I don’t think I’m going to properly answer this question because I have grievences to air. Day 8 will be categorizing everyone I know, but today, I’ll chose the one. If I was pressured to hone it in, a narrow it down or die situation type thing, I’m going to have to go with my fave, Lucy Ricardo. Because, number one, the schemes. Two? Being celebrity obsessed. Three? Looking like a fool a lot. Four? Stubborn. And! I can’t believe I almost moved on without mentioning this!! I’ve had a real life I Love Lucy episode happen to me. You remember the episode where Lucy sees William Holden in the Brown Derby? Well…

Summer of ’97, I had just moved out to Los Angeles (to be a rockstar) and I got a job at a retail store at Universal CityWalk. The store isn’t there anymore, it’s now a Sephora, but before that, it was this really cool bookstore/gift store/cafe called Upstart Crow.

Me (glasses), Claudia (blonde, owner), and Vanessa (the Ethel to my Lucy) at Upstart Crow during New Years Eve Y2K and kind of a little drunk and scared that someone was going to try to bomb CityWalk, because security told us to be on the lookout for suspicious people or unattended baggage.

So back to the story, sometime in ’97 or ’98, I was standing behind the register and there was a guy looking at the bestseller shelves right in front of me and I swore I knew him. And I could not for the life of me figure out how. So for like 15 minutes, I followed this guy around the store because it was killing me, where did I know this guy from???? Did I go to high school with him? (which would be weird because I went to high school in Colorado). I couldn’t figure it out.

A bit later I went out on my lunch break to the patio that was part of the cafe. So I’m out there, minding my own business, reading my romance novel, eating my mac & cheese and I could feel someone staring me down. I look up from my book and it’s the guy. He’s at the other end of the patio, sitting at an empty table staring me down. Creepy, but yes! He knows me too! Right? I’m a little thrown off because he’s staring at me, like intensely and purposefully staring me down. He obviously came out to sit on the patio with the sole intention to stare me down. So, I try to ignore it and go back to my book when it hits me. I don’t know this guy from high school. No. I know him because he’s Shawn Hunter on Boy Meets World and I’ve just completely been a creep following him around the store and he’s now paying me back. I got Bill Holdened by Rider Strong. I felt my face go red, I slammed my book shut, grabbed my lunch while simultaneously dropping my fork onto the concrete with a loud klank and spilling what was left of my coffee onto my shirt. I ran inside the store and hid in the back corner until my coworker assured me that he left.

I wish I could tell you that this embarrassing part of my LA story ended there, but it did not.

Most nights after a closing shift, my coworkers and I would drive 5 minutes up the road to Bob’s Big Boy where we would hang out for hours and laugh and eat french fries and drink multiple cups of coffee. I lived a very wild life. So a couple weeks later after the “incident”, we’re at Bob’s doing our thing, when the entire cast of Boy Meets World walks in and sits in the booth behind us. And I am once again eye to eye with Rider Strong. I tried to play it cool like I didn’t even see him, but I did. And so did all of my friends who have heard this story about 75 times. And whether he remembered who I was or not, I totally swear he was staring me down again and I wanted to disappear forever through the crack in the light brown vinyl booth I was on. Which I might’ve. Or maybe I fainted, or astral projected out of there immediately, who knows, but I could not tell you how that one ended. I have seriously blocked it out. Because it’s awful. And it’s all I think about now when someone mentions him or the show or bowl cuts.

I have never felt more hufflepuffed in my life.

Day 4: The Bucket List

I woke up from a dream this morning and in it, a woman older than me was squatting down in front of a bench crying because she had just found out that she was dying in a couple of months or days or something and she goes, “Well, there’s 10 minutes of my life I wasted crying and I can’t get back,” and then she said she didn’t know what she wanted to do with the rest of her short life and asked me, if I found out I was dying in a couple months, or even weeks, what would I do? So I’m going to take this question from the dying lady with the messy hair from my dream and use it for today’s post.

If you found out you were dying in a month, what would you want to do with the rest of your life?

source: Dream Lady

Part of me would want to actually do all the things I’m afraid of, like camping and traveling and ordering a pizza over the phone and deleting Facebook and wearing a swimsuit in public. But then there’s the realistic part of me that thinks that things would probably stay the same. I’d probably sit around all day in my lounge pants watching stuff on tv like I Love Lucy and When Harry Met Sally while I scroll through the internet like I’m getting paid by the hour. And I’d probably still yell at the kids for fighting and the dog for barking and the cat for waking me up at 6am. And I most certainly wouldn’t clean anymore. I’d need to delete my internet history and probably go through my things and burn the diaries I wrote when I was 16 but kept so that my loved ones could find one day and publish them when I die once they realized the genius prose and intellect I exhibited at such a young age. Unappreciated in my own time, and all that. But here’s the thing, I read one of them about a month ago and spiraled into a week long depressive state of shame and embarrassment that anyone knew who I was at 16. So I’d burn those. I’d make a point of hanging out with as many friends as I could get to answer my texts, and then I’d drive to California and put my toes into the sand again and drink wine and talk about things that excited me with my friends and I’d go look at the Hollywood sign, I’d hike right up to it. Well, no, that’s a lie. I wouldn’t. Snakes and fear of the law would stop me. But I would go see it. And I would walk down Hollywood Blvd and still not make eye contact with the Superman and Miss Piggy (they’re not the real thing, don’t buy into their scams). And then I would go back to the beach again and put my feet in the sand. And I would close my eyes and listen to the waves and the seagulls that I’ll probably have to fight off later and I would feel the sun on my face. I would drink and laugh with my people again.

It sounds ridiculous and corny because the first thought I had when I thought about this bucket list question was traveling and seeing the world and all the stuff that people put on their lists, but I think that I would just live the life that I know. With the people that I know. And the places that I know. In my non-pants pants. I would hug my kids and my husband and my family and my friends. I would see and experience everything that makes me happy. Nothing new. No skydiving or roller coasters. No rock climbing or bungee jumping. No thrill seeking. I want to feel love and security and hugs. I want to talk about thoughts and ideas and jokes over candles and wine and brie. I want to sing and dance badly and laugh.

And yeah, if I found out I was dying, I would probably cry crouched on a bench with messy hair like dream lady. I would allow myself those 10 minutes. And who knows, in 30 or 40 years, I might have a different view on my life goals. And hopefully Dream Lady wasn’t giving me a death sentence, because jokes on her, I made a deal with the devil to live a million years so, sorry Dream Lady.

I don’t know how to end this because I feel like I’ve left us on a really strange note. This is way more serious than I ever want to be and that’s as embarrassing as my 16 year old me journals. Go back and read this in glitter gel pen voice. And instead of this, I should’ve just finished my draft from yesterday about dogs and cats. So… I’m going to go drink a glass of rose’ and pretend this blog post doesn’t exist. Hug your people. Do what you love. Ignore what you don’t.

End scene.

If You Were In A Band…

Here we are, 4th of July and Day 2 of answering random questions I found on the internet, which, by the way, I take requests like a wedding dj if, you know, you had something you wanted my useless opinion on. Also, I just realized that by doing this here, I’m essentially doing Camp Nano in the open and that’s a fool’s game. So let’s strap on our patriotic clown wigs and get down to business.

 If You Were In A Band, What Kind Of Music Would You Play? And what would your band be called?

source: https://www.mantelligence.com/questions-to-ask/

I have actually been in several imaginary bands, thank you so this question is very near and dear to me. Back in the late 80s there was this tiny little group called New Kids on the Block. I practiced their dance moves in the backyard because I was going to become a member once they discovered how good I danced and sang and dressed, but then I would leave them once I found fame and then start my own group of girls who happened to all be 5’3 and we would be named Five Three. And then when we won our Grammy I would get into a fight with Axl Rose as I was accepting the award. This didn’t happen, probably because I’m too tall now.

Then when I was 18 or 19 or maybe 20, I had become obsessed with weezer and also a bit later, The Beatles. So now I am forced by the laws of music to be in a four piece girl band. Also, the ouija board told us to. We think it might’ve been John Lennon’s ghost because the spirits said it was and also he told us Timothy Leary was going to die the day before he died so either one of us was a liar cheat who also was a really good fortune teller, or it was John Lennon. And if John Lennon tells you via ouija board in a haunted apartment in Denver, Colorado to be in a four piece girl band, well, you do that. So my friends Vicki and Michelle and I get instruments we don’t know how to play and start learning the opening notes of The Sweater Song. Michelle was on drums so she had that first part easy. Vicki was on bass and actually practiced and learned a bunch of stuff. I was on guitar and I put a lot of cute stickers on my guitar and picked out a fancy guitar strap. I think we named ourselves Help after the Beatles movie and so, as you can tell, we were on track to stardom. Only problem, there were three of us. We needed a fourth. Like in The Craft.

One day, ouija board John Lennon told us to go to a place called Annie’s Cafe on 8th at exactly 11am. We had no idea where Annie’s was but we found it however you found things before the internet was real and useful and more than chat boards for fandom and we went and it was a cute little 50’s diner and at exactly 11am, Help! the song played on the speaker system and a girl around our age with red hair french braided into two braids came and took our order. And then as the rest of the Help! album played and we ate our home fries and eggs and toast, we tried to figure out how we tell our waitress that she’s now in a band with us because John Lennon told us to meet her here and Help! was on and it was a sign that it was supposed to happen. We were so nervous we couldn’t even ask her for a refill on our coffees. She probably asked her manager for an escort to her car after her shift. We paid our check and left, knowing we had let John Lennon down and not only him, but the entire girl band actually. I mentally vowed to go back to Annie’s the next weekend and hunt this girl down and make her be friends with us. I never did. And it’s probably a good thing because in retrospect, that would be kind of creepy of me.

Since we couldn’t talk to our fourth, we had to break up and then reband as a new and improved band. Like girl weezer. My friend Vicki (Matt) and Michelle (Pat) and I (Rivers) somehow, and probably without mentioning the ouija board of secrets, convinced our other friend, Jenny into being our Brian Bell. We decided our name should be Manhands because of the bizarro episode of Seinfeld. We were going to be the bizarro weezer even down to the M being an upside down W. Clever right? And just like weezer, we had to move to Los Angeles in order to be successful. But we needed to consult the universe. So one day when Vicki and I were walking through campus, we asked out to the winds, “John? Should we move to LA? If yes, play something on the radio that would give us a clue.” Then when we got into the car and turned on the radio. California Dreamin’ was on. Sign. So despite none of us actually having ever been to LA we got rid of almost everything we owned, packed the rest up in the back of my Honda CRX and somehow landed in Studio City, California. Needless to say, I’m not a rockstar. And no, I still can’t play the guitar. This is not likely to have contributed to our success in anyway though. It’s because Michelle didn’t move with us. We had to be a four piece.

Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?

If anyone knows me at all, they know that I own the entire Monkees tv series on VHS that I spent a ridiculous fortune on when I was dumb and broke and 20. Not only that, I own their tv special 33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee AND two copies of their masterpiece movie, Head PLUS a whole bunch of embarrassing stuff they did in the 80s. All of it on VHS tapes that I still own and will not part with even though can’t even watch them because I haven’t owned a VCR in 15 years. Sorry, Marie Kondo, but they do kind of bring me joy. I think. Not as much as if could actually watch them…

The Monkees was my favorite show on television, being rerun on MTV everyday after school at 4pm. I didn’t know they were reruns and I was planning to move to some beach in Southern California and marry a 19 year old Davy Jones. And while all my friends were obsessed with Madonna and Michael Jackson, I was learning the dance moves to She Hangs Out (probably around the same time Axl Rose was) and my sister, Julie and our neighbor, Kelly and I would go out and perform the Monkees’ dances for no one using the wooden frame of the house being built next door to us as our grand stage. In fairness, this was the 80s and no one seemed really that concerned about a bunch of preteen girls at a construction site dancing to The Monkees on unsecured plywood resting precariously 15 feet above a concrete basement hole. With rusty nails.

Best summer on record.

July 7, 1987. I was 10 years old for another week and a half and in my second concert experience ever, The Monkees (minus Mike) descended upon Red Rocks Amphitheatre and my mind was BLOWN, not only because Weird Al opened the show, not only because they rolled out in a bed, but a lot because Davy wasn’t 19. Like, WHAT???? I had been lied to!

My obsession for the Monkees didn’t die, but my marital plans changed a smidge when I discovered the Coreys and I started writing variations of “Amy Haim” in glitter gel pens on all my Pee Chee folders. (Spoiler alert: That “marriage” didn’t work out so well either).

Okay, skip ahead 10 years, I own about half of my above-mentioned Monkees’ tapes. It was a subscription service so I spent a literal fortune and got sent to collection several times over, ruining my credit because I was broke and subscription services don’t care if you pay them or not. They will send you to collections, ruining your life in overdraft fees but will continue sending you tapes. Thank god. Anyway, in the middle of all of this financial ruin, I packed up everything I had (mostly just Monkees tapes) into the back of an ’85 CRX and moved to Los Angeles, California where I see an ad in the local paper that they need audience members for a video shoot mini-concert of the Monkees at Universal CityWalk. “No Pay, but you get to attend the mini-concert and potentially be seen on camera”. Heck yes! 20 year old me and about 50 other people that were at least twice my age stood in the hot sun while Micky told jokes and Mike still wasn’t there and they played 2 songs over and over and over again and then they were done. And it was AWESOME.

I met another Monkees’ friend, Vanessa and once a week for the next 20 years we would get together and gossip and eat Jack and the Box and binge Monkees’ episodes. And once we went and saw a showing of Head at El Capitan Theatre (I think?) and Micky Dolenz was there and for some reason I can’t remember if we met him or not. You’d think I would remember this, we were so close to him and he was in a white hat and I just can’t remember. It must be stress induced amnesia or something.

And then Davy died and I cried for like a week. Probably longer. My heart was broken and then I got irrationally angry at Mike Nesmith when he decided that maybe now he would like to rejoin the band. Too late, Mike. (Insert “Atta boy, Mike” gif). And I never went to see the Monkees in concert again.

At that point, I thought I had emotionally detached from anything current that came from The Monkees, finally. And then I went on twitter today and saw “Peter Tork” trending and my stomach sank. And my heart broke again.

So today I’m going to just listen to Monkees’ songs all day and watch my Monkees’ dvds (I only have the first season, which is upsetting and I need to fix that) and, I don’t know, cry and be completely unproductive.

Maybe I’ll fire up a dance routine.

RIP Peter.

NaNoWriMo: The Halfway point?

Today is the 20th. Way past midway at this point and I might hit 25,000 words of the 50,000 word goal today. I mean I should, but I’m in a slump of epic proportions. 

Did I mention that I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year??? I am. 

Okay, see, I’ve been “writing a book” since I don’t know, forever. It’s changed form and content over the years but the main character is the same. The voice is telling the same basic story. And everyone I know has encouraged me to friggin’ finish already. I was manhandled into NaNoWriMo this year, which I’ve been scared to participate in for ages because I didn’t know how the whole thing worked and I thought I was writing in public and the thought of a rough draft out in the word for everyone to read makes me want to hide in a cave forever and hope everyone forgets they ever knew me. BUT! It’s not like that. At all. And I’m so happy that I’m doing it. HOWEVER, I’m struggling to hit goal. I’m in my head too much and instead of contributing to my word count over there, I’m here whining about it in a blog post.

But this is the actual plan. I’m going to blog about the nonsense in my head, get it all out here so that I can go into my novel clear headed and maybe encouraged or something. I don’t know. Also it will hold me accountable if I’m blasting my embarrassing word counts here which as of this very minute is 24,373 words. Ugh. 

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How are you doing? Are you keeping up with your word counts? Are you suffering from a block because your story is supposed to be “satire/humor” and it’s the most boring story ever told? Like mine? 

If you want to be NaNo buddies, find me here

I think my life is maybe just a Paulie Shore movie.

Hi. I have been quite absent from this blog and I have no excuse. Well, moving across 3 states over the summer. That’s an excuse. Also, I’m lazy.

As you may or may not know, I’m writing a book. I’m not sure how much I plan on talking about it yet because I don’t want to jinx it, and I’m battling that voice that is very loudly yelling at me that I’m a fraud and nobody likes me. That’s a fun demon with which to co-pilot this trainwreck. So I’m trying to overcome that voice by writing really bad blog posts. I’m sure that won’t make it all worse. Like at all.

So, a couple of months ago, I moved away from the love of my life, Los Angeles back to my hometown of Denver. It’s a bit of a lot of baggage to unpack. I went from feeling like Link (Brendan Fraser) in Encino Man where I’m the weird but super loved new guy to being Crawl (Paulie Shore) in Son-in-Law when he falls in pig poops at the farm and everyone hates him and he’s barely wearing pants. It has been a good move and my family seems to love it and it will be a great thing for our future. However, no matter how many movies, holiday-themed or not I’ve seen on this subject of moving home, I wasn’t prepared.  Sweet Home Alabama taught me nothing.

While there are a LOT of things (people) I’m glad to be away from, there is SOOOOO much more that hurts my heart to have left. Like a bunch of my favorite people. And I’m struggling to get my creativity back. I feel like I’ve fallen back into a vacuum.

Los Angeles has this reputation of being a vacuous wasteland of plastic beauty, soul-less egos, debauchery, and drugs, and gang members harassing old ladies. And while that does all exist, it is a city so rich in personality and friendships, and lost people and found people. And everyone you meet has something they want to share. And they want to support you in your nonsense and you want to support theirs. And they all hug hello. And whether sincere or not, everybody wants to be your friend and share a bottle or 7 of wine with you over gossip and dreams.

I don’t know if I’m going to find that here. People in Colorado are very polite yet reserved and no one wants none of my antics.

And I am, once again, an outsider looking in.

My oldest son came home from school the other day and says, “Kids just don’t think I’m that funny here,” and then he shrugged and went upstairs to play Fortnite.

God, kid I KNOW, RIGHT?

I sound very dramatic. I realize this. I’m going to go have a glass of wine by myself and try to get back to writing the book.

And in case you were wondering, sobbing it out on the internet didn’t shut the mean voice up at all.

And I do love living in Colorado. I’m just going to drop in weird on everybody like Mork from Ork and make them love me.

Maybe this is the same mentality I need to conjure when I’m writing.

Nanu Nanu.