Monthly Archives: November 2011

On Prayer

Leona Medina, a [17th-century] rabbi, once said very beautifully, if you were standing on the shore of a lake watching a guy pull his boat to the shore, and you were confused about mechanics and motion, you might think that he was pulling the shore to the boat. People make the same mistake when they pray. Whatever they want, they’re going to move God to it. But real prayer is when you pull yourself towards God. If you see it that way, then it makes not getting the result that you want not a disproof, but an understanding that maybe that wasn’t for you.

via The Nov. 15 Slate/Intelligence Squared U.S. debate: Why David Wolpe will argue against the motion, “The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion.” – Slate Magazine.

Pushing Past Fear

Rough day today.  But you take solace where you can find it.  Right now it’s some words from Kurt Sutter (showrunner of Sons of Anarchy) sent from my sister.

The bigger question is how does one grow as an artist?  In my opinion, the same way any other human being does, by pushing past fear.  I’m terrified of failure.  I’m terrified of change.  I’m terrified of being unloved.  These are the things that usually kick in my default defenses — isolation, arrogance, denial.  Sometimes I’m neck-deep in them before I realize there’s even a problem.

His entire post here.

On Getting Fired By a Sad Sad Trust-Funded Alcoholic, Part II

Previously on “How is This My Life?”: I meet Roy in his natural habitat. I remove my shoes. Promise to get the carpets cleaned. And get the job.

TWO WEEKS LATER… I finally show up at Roy’s for my first day as his personal assistant. It’s Monday, 11AM.

I remove my shoes.  “What should we do today, Roy?  Should me make a list of things you want me to work on?”

“A list, yes.  But first we need to go.  It’s time for hockey.”


Roy starts throwing stuff in a large duffle bag. It’s open rink in Culver City.  And we have to go.

We’ve already determined that if there’s any driving to do I will be driving his car – which turns out to be a black BMW.  I get in the driver’s seat and wait for Roy to get in next to me.  A moment later he gets in.

In the back seat.


Next time I’ll bring my cap and gloves.

Now that he’s safely inside the car, Roy allows me to finally open the garage door.  And we’re off.

We make small talk as we drive. I’m really making an effort to find this whole super-strange experience somehow enjoyable.

The conversation turns to different kinds of alcohol.  I tell him I prefer gin.  He’s unimpressed.  Gin’s for girls.  He prefers Puff Daddy’s Vodka. You know, the raspberry one.

Yes.  Definitely more masculine.

It’s about that time that I hear something.  Then smell something.  Is that…?  Puff Daddy’s raspberry vodka?  I glance back just in time to see him screw a top back on a concealed glass bottle.

And this is how naïve I am. I know what it is. He just TOLD me what it is.  And I think, there’s no way he can be DRINKING.  In the car.  While I’m driving.  At 11AM.  That doesn’t happen.

I change the subject.

“So what would you like me to get started on while you’re playing hockey?”

He seems flummoxed by this. “Can’t you just wait for me?”

I sit in the empty stands in the rink as about a dozen guys scrimmage on the ice.  Roy’s not bad.  He can skate.

There’s only one other person in the stands with me.  A teenage girl.  Probably waiting for her boyfriend.  I imagine the conversation I hope we never have.

Her: So like, why aren’t you out there on the ice?

Me:  Me?  Oh, I don’t play hockey.

Her: Then why are you here?

Me: See the Asian guy? Sharks jersey?  I’m waiting for him.

Her: Oh.

Me: He pays me to drive him places.  And have his carpets cleaned. But that’s not like a dirty euphemism or anything. If that’s what you were thinking. I mean like real carpets. But we haven’t really gotten to that part yet. He also drinks. In the car.  How bout you?

Her: I’m gonna get a soda.

Afterward, on the drive home, Roy reflects on his performance on the ice. It went pretty well today he says.

When we pull into the garage, he waits to get out until I’ve closed the garage door. I’m half way into the house when I notice Roy’s starring out the thin windows at the top of the garage door.

“Somebody’s leaving trash in front of my house.” He says it in that way the Aussie dinosaur hunter from Jurassic Park talks about velociraptors.  Far off, to himself.  The summation and confirmation of all his fears. Clever girl…

I join him at the window.  A piece of trash has indeed blown close to his curb.  Don’t worry I say, I’ll pick it up.  But that doesn’t change the question, the really profound question: Who would do that?  And why?

“Let’s go inside,” I say.  We’ve got calls to make.

(Stay Tuned for Part III)

“Where I Come From, Mama Get’s a What What.”

A blog about incompetence that doesn’t feature Michelle Bachmann?  Ppfff.

Earnest is the new ironic

Jens Lekman wants some cowboy boots.  I beleive him.



Do Like Natasha

I don’t really do Yoga.  But some friends introduced me to a beginner-level video on Netflix Streaming called Candlelight Yoga.  Rest assured, it is just as awesome as it sounds.  Ethereal nether-world music, flowing drapes, candles scattered willy-nilly.

The instruction is given by the melodious Sarah Ivanhoe.  Whether she is a real person or just a robot built by Ray Kurzweil, it makes no difference – she is something to behold.

As Sarah serenely guides us through stretches and increasingly complex positions, she singles out one of her yoga-lackeys as “Natahsa” – an obscenely fit blond woman, who, we can see at one glance, is in no way remedial.  Yet it falls to Natasha to demonstrate what Sarah calls “modified” positions, meant to accommodate those of us who never passed the flexibility portion of the Presidential Physical Fitness Exam.

But here’s why I’m in love with Natasha: even while modeling the idiot’s pose, Natasha maintains a transfixing, statuesque dignity.

So tomorrow I’m launching what will be a regular and recurring feature, inspired by Natasha’s beguiling grace, for all those moments when the “correct position” in daily life is impossible.  When we need an alteration, an amendment, a modification.  When we must “Do Like Natasha.”  Stay tuned.

This Will Blow Your (Divided) Mind.

Every once in a while, we’ll have a spot of competence to cleanse the palate.

On Getting Fired. By a Sad Sad Semi-Crazy Trust-funded Alcoholic.

As many tales of fear and loathing – and possibly decapitation – begin, about a month ago, I respond to an ad on Craigslist.

An anonymous person in West Los Angeles is seeking a part time personal assistant for what I consider a decent rate of $25/hour.  The ad is short on specifics but I responded immediately, and after some protracted back and forth emailing, we finally established a time for me to interview.

He says his name is Roy and sends me his address.  So one afternoon after my temp job, I pull up to his large four bedroom tract home in Playa Del Rey.  I’m thinking a guy named Roy in a large tract home in Playa Del Rey who needs an assistant for unspecified reasons is probably a middle-aged white dude.  And probably a little strange.

Yes.  Yes, he will be strange.

But it turns out “Roy” is the 30ish Asian dude who peaks through the sliver of his barely opened front door.  I am surprised.  But whatever.  This is L.A.  Hi, Roy.

He ushers me in, asks me to remove my shoes.  The floor, you know.  I nod as I survey the floor which hasn’t been cleaned since Blessed Union of Souls was up for a Grammy.  I remove my shoes.  It’s $25/hour.  And I’m broke.

“I never go in these rooms,” Roy says, as he leads me through the house, pointing to the large vaulted living room furnished only with a small sofa.  “There are four bedrooms upstairs,” he says, “but I never go up there.”  Better to keep the bodies, I think, as we head through the family room, which seems to be Roy’s main encampment.

Evidence of a dysfunctional bachelor’s existence is everywhere.  Empty takeout boxes.  A solo leather recliner.  Scattered Foil balls.  Two flat screens, one playing a movie, one paused on a Playstation game, squat on the floor, just out of their boxes.

Clearly I have interrupted his arrested development.

He opens the back patio door, beckons me outside.  “My shoes,” I say.  So he waits for me to retrieve them as I head back to the front door, and I think momentarily of making a break for it right then.

But I return.

It’s $25/hour.  And I’m broke.

I have a look around at the decaying backyard while Roy tries to explain what he’s after.  I notice the yellowing leaves, the inexplicable bouquet of cooking spices on the patio table.  “What do you need an assistant for,” I ask?  “Many calls to make,” he says.  “So much to do.  Got to get this place cleaned up.  It’s getting out of control…”  And there he seems to come to the end of his list.  I press for details.  “It’s like,” he says, “the upstairs; the carpet needs to be cleaned.  But how do you do that?”  The whole thing seems overwhelming to him, beyond him.  “We can call some people to come and clean the carpets,” I say.  “That’s no problem.”  He seems relieved.  I’m clearly an expert.

This is going to be a piece of cake I think.  I’m going to be a hero to this guy.  I’m the guy who get the carpets cleaned.  I’m the guy who makes things happen.

And Roy thinks so too.  I will start next week.  And we will get Roy’s life whipped into shape.  No problem.

There’s just one more thing, Roy says.  I also have some speeding tickets.  Three of them.  In a short amount of time.  I’m going to need you to drive me places.  Just some errands.

No problem, I say.  I’m an expert at that too.

(Stay tuned for Part Deux)