Thursday, January 29, 2009

"I'm Mad as Hell, and I'm Not Gonna TAKE IT ANYMORE!"

I think I have mono. One of the funniest things my friend said while my sister and I were partying it up for New Year’s was, “How in the world do you two girls NOT have mono?!” I keep taking naps and passing out for no reason. It’s been nice to oversleep versus under sleep for a change, I guess. I’ve been job searching, homework doing, internet carousing, serial dating, and sleeping a rather ridiculous amount. On to new things.

Ah! The great job scam of oh nine. So I send out about 39083493 e-mails a day inquiring about jobs. I fill out online applications that take a million hours to complete. I file through business cards and old records to fill out addresses of former employers only to discover that I don’t meet the undereducated, over experienced qualifications (“you must be a high school drop out and have 14 years of experience organizing paper clips”). And this is how I roll, day after day. I e-mail people until my eyes feel like they have diarrhea and then I blow aliens’ heads off via Halo 3 or perform face melting drum solos via Rock Band to slip back into Funemployment Land.

So I get called in for a closed call for a modeling agency a few Saturdays ago. I meet with “Kurt,” who is about 6’4” and has beautiful eyebrows. I mean, these eyebrows looked like they were painted on by DaVinci. They were perfect. So he looks me over, has me walk for him, asks me if I’m interested in doing music videos, tells me to call him at 3:30 and he’ll let me know if he’s interested. He harped on my “beautiful skin, great legs, great energy.” I am shuffled in and out like I’m a car part on a conveyer belt. I call him at my appointed time; he says, “I definitely want to work with you. Come in at 1:30 on Monday- and parking will be free because of the MLK holiday.”

I came in at 1:15 and was met by a very grouchy parking attendant who spoke approximately zero percent of English. I told him that my parking is supposed to be free. He talked a bunch of mumbo jumbo and I ditched him and got on the elevator. I went to the 6th floor and waited and waited and waited. Finally, this disgusting, Botox-infested alien faced woman came and got me. Her name was Rhonda. Rhonda looked like Priscilla after she got her botched Botox job in Guatemala or wherever the crap she got turned into an alien. Her lips were swollen full of collagen and her face was dramatically stretched over her bones. Her eyebrows were crazy high. She was squinty. Her boobs were about the size of bowling balls. I was afraid.

So she goes through this big, incoherent speech that I DID NOT FOLLOW pertaining to signing with their agency and all of this crap. Her sentences were fragments. She kept using profanity. She kept telling me about being a single mother. I wanted to give her a Lexapro. So eventually she tells me that their company ONLY works with “Omar” in Hollywood and “Omar” charges 895 effing dollars for comp cards. I laughed in her face. Then I told her I changed purses and just happened to not be carrying the 895 in cash that I normally have on me. I asked her to validate my parking pass. She said “I don’t know anything about that.” Her rude ass did not even walk me out. I left and the parking Gestapo asked me for FOURTEEN EFFING DOLLARS. Yes, 14 bucks to park. I almost knocked that little mumbling midget’s teeth down his throat. But I didn’t. I just sent a scathing e-mail to this stupid company and I sent a follow up hate letter with my receipt.

Despite the jobless depression of 2K9, a few nice things have happened. Let me tell you what God has done. I haven’t actually purchased NEW clothes in years. I really mean that. I am the thriftiest person I know. I can make something out of nothing, and I enjoy doing it. I have really needed some new jeans for a long time, but I have been holding off on buying jeans because I have had to use money to buy school books and stuff like that. A few weeks ago, I was going to church with my friend, and she said she had a bunch of stuff in her trunk that she needed to take to the Goodwill. I rummaged through it and came out with a “new” dress, a FEW pairs of “new” jeans, and a couple of shirts. It was like Christmas.

God has met my needs in other ways, too. i.e., I am a huge fan of Rock band, but considering my unemployment status, I did not want to go out and buy this game. The main reason that I wanted to buy it was because I like to have something to “do” at a party. I am very big into hosting parties. I like building a sense of community, and L.A. doesn’t offer that environment much. Out of the blue one day, my friend Steve-o came over with Rock band. FOR NO REASON. He just bought it and we jammed out all night.

This is when I recognize that God always, always meets my needs---and he doesn’t just meet my needs. He meets my WANTS. He goes beyond making sure that I am fed and have a roof over my head. He gives me free jeans and Rock band. My bird came back, too! I have a dove on my porch right now sitting on two little eggs. So whenever my little bird came back to live in my potted plant, I was flipping through my book of Psalms, and this is what I came across:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Psalm 91:1-4.

Now, the whole 91st Psalm will knock you on your face, it’s so good, but it was so sweet to me that right as my little bird came back, and I have watched her protect her little babies, that God sent me a message about how HE will cover me with his feathers, and I will find refuge in HIM, and HE will be faithful to me. How much more will God protect me than Doris the dove will protect her eggs? The analogy might seem simple, but to me, it was revolutionary.

My church has been going through a Psalms series and I have felt very connected to the messages recently. I have always loved David in the Bible. He’s always been my guy. I like his sense of passion and his desperate love for God. The warrior poet. His faith was unbelievable. Now if we have to get down to the nitty-gritty, Peter might be the guy that I can relate to the most, because he seriously needed anger management and he chopped that soldier’s ear off for Jesus. Haha. Peter was a total hot head with a potty mouth. I love the fact that he was who he was and he didn’t try to be something else. I also like that Jesus so radically changed him that he was in love with the Savior. But what I like most about these guys is that they TOTALLY screwed up, were completely unfaithful to God, and at the end of their stories, you can see God’s faithfulness. This is what I have been learning recently- that God is faithful, even when we aren’t.

Off of my spiritual soap box and onto my personal need for anger management: I started school a few weeks ago and it’s been a big adjustment getting back into the swing of things. During my first week back, I noticed that the crazy cooing pigeon woman was in my class, and she cooed and nodded and laughed inappropriately during the ENTIRE class. I thought that I was going to lose it. This is also the class where my “educated” professor wrote the following on the board:

“Have you ever ran a counseling group before?”

Uh, really? Wrong verb tense, woman, and we don’t end sentences in prepositions. All of my professors this semester also DO NOT understand the concept of subject-verb agreement. I hear them say stuff like this ALL THE TIME:

“There is many of you…”
“There’s options..”
“There is a couple of things to discuss…”

I want to teach a remedial English course for my professors. Now, I may sound like a hypocrite here because I sometimes end sentences in prepositions, I write in fragments, I use contractions, and I don’t always punctuate or capitalize correctly in my blogs, but let’s keep in mind that I am NOT teaching graduate level courses and I am simply keeping a personal “journal” which is informal and a means of venting. Sigh. Wears me out.

I only have about three more scenarios that I’d like to discuss. I realize that this is the longest blog in the history of mankind. First of all, I do NOT understand the crazy people in L.A. who post ads on craigslist for work. This one man called me who really liked me because I sent him a hilarious email. Then when he started with the job description, he went on and on about selling dietary supplements which increase your sex drive, selling disposable phone numbers to dating websites, posting youtube exercise videos for in-home personal training, and writing acting and producing documents. What? WHAT? Everyone in L.A. has AD/HD.

That was weird scenario number one. Now, let me tell you about the most insane person I have EVER met. I will not use his real name because I do not want to hurt his feelings. We’ll call him….Jeff. Jeff and I grew up together in Memphis and he’s always been completely bonkers, but he’s hysterical and a really good guy. He visits L.A. all the time because he’s trying to make it in “the business,” and he is an aspiring director. So the other night, I had gone to class, I was LATE for class because it took me 25 minutes to find a freaking parking spot (I am never late. I was completely humiliated. By the time I got to class, my hair was sweating and my heart was beating so hard that I could see it through my shirt. Serious anxiety.), I had come home, there were zits all over my face, and I was in no shape to be social. I was over it.

So Jeff calls me and says, “I’m in L.A.! I’ll be at your place in 5 minutes.” I told him I didn’t want to see him, but he hung up on me too quickly to absorb the fact that I DID NOT WANT TO SEE ANYONE. So, just as he promised, he showed up about 5 minutes later, and he was lingering around the front door to my apt. complex. I let him in and he came with his trail of AD/HD up to my apartment. He swung open my closet door, pulled out an outfit for me to wear, told me to get ready, and proceeded to talk to my dad on the phone, which was weird, but they knew each other from way back when, so it wasn’t TOO weird. I got ready and we walked downstairs. He opened the door to a bright red mustang. It was very “16 Candles.”

So we pick up some fellow Memphians and eventually make our way to Beverly Hills to some fancy-pants hotel lounge bar. Our waitress was the rudest person I have ever met. Some girl shows up who is a friend of a friend and it is quite clear that she HATES each of us because we all have southern accents and apparently she thinks we all hang out on our front porches in our whitey-tighties drinking moonshine and making out with our cousins. So she proceeds to say,

“American culture is so….different (scowl on her face). In the Chinese culture, we will bend over backwards to make sure that you feel at home. I mean, I walk into an American (scowl) person’s house, and they tell me to make myself at home, but if you come to MY house, in the CHINESE culture, we will stuff you to make sure that you feel welcomed.”

I asked her if she’d ever been to the South. She said she’d been to Texas. Idiot. She has no clue. My mom will stuff you like a Thanksgiving turkey if she’s made her biannual treck to Costco.

So.. “Jeff” says to her….

“I bet if I went to your house, you’d make me go out back and pick up a 2 by 4 and have me nail it up to the wall so I’d have a place to put my glass of water.”

None of us had any idea what that meant, but the look of sheer disgust on this woman’s pompous face made me laugh so hard that I cried a little. And this is why I love this guy, though he completely invades my personal space and DOES NOT CARE if I tell him to leave me alone.

And, story numero tres: last night, I met a girl at Starbucks for a cup of joe. This was some girl from my church whom I did not know, so it felt like I was on an online date as we texted stuff like, “I am wearing a green jacket and have long brown hair,” bla bla. So we meet up, talk about the church and volunteer opportunities, etc, and then after about an hour, she leaves. I realize that I have no coffee in my house but I have a Starbucks gift card and so I thought I’d buy a pound of their coffee. So I’m talking to the little barista about which coffee to buy, and he tells me that if I trust him and buy such-and-such coffee, he’ll give me his employee discount. Probably roofied coffee, but whatever. So the other girl says to me, “do you want your free cup of coffee?” Apparently, I get a free cup if I buy a pound. I had already had a cup of coffee. So, this little guy walks into Starbucks, and I say to him,

“Sir, what kind of coffee are you going to buy tonight?”

He turns around and looks behind him.

“I’m talking to you.”

He looks at me like he’s afraid.

I said, “look, I get a free cup of coffee with this pound that I’m buying, but I’ve already had a cup of coffee tonight, so I’d like to give you my free cup. Tell that lady what you want.”

He almost dropped dead. After a few minutes of confusion, he says,

“And I was told that all people in L.A. are rude! I guess that isn’t true at all!”

And I said to him,

“Oh, honey. I’m not from L.A. I’m from the South.”

Then all of a sudden I realized how bi-cultural I’m feeling these days. I don’t feel connected to Memphis at all, but a few weeks ago when we were talking about MLK and we watched a little video that had the Lorraine motel on it, I all of a sudden felt proud to be from that awful place. Then when I was in Memphis for Christmas, I kept wanting to come back to L.A. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to come from another country to America or whatever. I am having an identity crisis just being a Southerner and trying to assimilate in L.A. So weird.

Oh! I lied. I have one more story. So last Friday, I was babysitting, and right after I had put the kids to bed (and this was after I got the whole “Kindergarten Cop” speech from the 5-year old about how “boys have a penis and girls have a vagina,” yes- I was mortified and thought that kids shouldn’t be so clinical… Californians are weird), there was a huge BOOM! Out of nowhere. I thought that it was a driveby. Why? Because I am from Memphis.

So the kids jump out of bed and they are terrified and the big golden retriever runs into the room and we’re all sitting on the bed trying to figure out what just happened. Then the phone rings and I talk to a relative of the family and she said we’d just had an earthquake. Well, how about that? What the crap do you do if you’re in an earthquake? My immediate thought is to get into the closet, because that’s what we do during tornadoes, but then I remember that you don’t want crap falling on you from the shelves in the closet, so you get under a desk, right? I have no idea. So the kids freak out and I have to do some relaxation therapy on them to wind them back down and get them in bed again. Sigh. I need to google how to survive an earthquake. In closing, I leave you with the following youtube clip to keep you from going postal during the recession.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My radiator in my car cracked and I had to get a new one today. I’ve been pretty concerned about my finances recently. There’s rent. There’s gas. There are groceries. There are books. There’s tuition. Then there is a broken radiator. I keep clicking through craigslist and a million other websites trying to find a job- ANY job, just so I can cover all of my mounding expenses. I get sick over it. My nerves are shot. I knew I was at my all-time low when I considered an ad that said this:

Can You Stomach Crime Scene Cleaning?

“The police, the fire department and crime scene investigators who arrive at a crime scene perform crucial tasks in the aftermath of a violent death. But they don't, as a general rule, clean up. Mopping up after someone who dies violently is the responsibility of that person's family. And until recently, there were very few cleaning companies that would handle that kind of job, so the family members ended up having to do it themselves. Crime scene cleaning companies typically charge up to $600 or more an hour for their service, and most people would pay much more…”

It was at this point that I realized that I might as well sell crack or be a hooker if I wanted to clean up guts and puke from the aftermath of gang shoot outs on the streets of L.A. RACHEL! WAKE UP CALL!

Sometimes I wonder if I am doing the right thing. Unless I become a MAJOR success, I will never make a lot of money in the mental health professions. Psychologists aren’t notorious for driving Bentleys. Despite the ideas that I keep generating to pursue jobs in marketing and advertising and areas where I could maybe make big bucks, things keep happening to help me remember why I want to do this and why being broke for a while (until I meet my 96 year old bajillionaire husband) is okay.

I drove my car to my buddy Raoul at the car place this morning and sat outside waiting for the diagnosis. I sat with a woman who looked 60 but she was probably in her 40’s. She started smoking the second she sat down. It was 8:15 A.M. She was puffing away on her cigs like nobody’s business. I wanted to pry one from her grasp and burn her on the eyelid with it. I hate smokers. I think they are the rudest people ever. Some guy in a beamer drove up. I was wearing my LSU hoody. He approached me and said,

“Did you go to LSU?”


“So did my parents. I am from New Orleans. My name is Tony.”

Then he shook my hand, told me to have a nice day, and drove off. I like it when people make an effort to establish a connection or sense of community. It is inconvenient, so it means a lot to me when someone goes that extra step.

Smoker lady’s husband walks up. He looks rough. Then their buddy who was clearly wearing dentures walks up. They all smoked like trains. Dentures asked them for ten dollars. He really, really, really needed ten dollars. Smoker lady said they had to pay rent today and it was $750 and she did not have ten dollars. They kept talking about being broke. Boy, aren’t we all? Something about them made me really sad though. I mean really, really sad. They were talking about this friend who died and that friend who made it and how they are going to be late to go to the doctor’s office today and they had to take the bus across town. How depressing.

Something about watching three people who have meth mouth smoking like trains and talking about how they had no money made me wonder what went wrong with them. I watched this special on Charles Manson the other day. I didn’t know that his mom was a complete whore and kept sending him away because she didn’t want him. I got really choked up watching this show. The narrator kept reading excerpts from Manson’s journal. For the first time, he seemed very human to me. I’ve always looked at him like a total nutcase, which invalidated his humanity. Hearing things like, “I have never been so lonely,” and “All I want is my mom to love me,” made me sick and sad. I got a glimpse of who he was before he became who he is.

A few nights ago I watched a special on Al Capone. I didn’t quite have those feelings of sympathy for him since he kept cheating on his wife and wound up dying of syphilis, but I felt sorry for him, too.

Right now I’m watching a show called “Going Postal: The 15 Most Shocking Acts of Violence.” What makes these people spiral downward and go on killing sprees? WHAT HAPPENS?

I am taking a “strategies of crisis interventions” class right now. Last night blew me away. It was only the first night of class, and already I felt like things made sense again. I want to know what triggers devastating events, I want to know how people get to that point of madness, and I want to know how to prevent these things from happening.

So I guess I found my calling again and won’t be auditioning for the Real World or cleaning guts off the street for $600 bucks a pop. It’s helping professions or bust. It’s paying off student loans right before I kick the bucket and it’s recognizing that whether or not the money is there, this is where I am, this is who I am, and this is where I feel fulfillment.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

There's no place like home sweet L.A.

I planned to write a lot throughout my stay in the South to keep me from going postal, but that never happened. Every second was a three-ring circus, to this person’s house and to that person’s house. I’d rehash it but I don’t want to have a nervous breakdown.

I went up to school today to work out all of my financial aid stuff. I ran into one of my friends who is from South Carolina. She told me that she gained 17 pounds per day while she was back “home” and that one morning she ate artichoke dip for breakfast. I didn’t realize just how “L.A.” I had become until I start obsessing over not having access to a gym. Who does that? Every day all I could think about were those commercials for Draino where you see pipes full of mank and hairballs--- and that’s how I imagined my arteries were clogging as I ate all of that holiday crap. Every second of every day was encompassed by an anxiety-induced stomach ulcer. So much for a “break.”

Today I went to big lots. I bought some crappy curtains there a while ago that were too short, so I decided to return them. The lady working at customer service went on and on and on about how all I could receive was store credit and not a refund and I had no idea what she was talking about. She closed with “you get sto’ credit or get nuthin’” so I went with the store credit. As I was leaving, some old black guy said to me,

“Lori from the Hills!”

First of all, I don’t know who that is, second of all, I have never watched that show, and thirdly, I’m pretty sure that there is nobody named Lori on it.

There seems to be a recurring pattern for 55+ black men macking on me. Last week, I went to the DMV to get a new driver’s license. Always a good time, right? Everyone loves to go to the DMV. So the first attempt I make at going to the DMV is my triumphant entry into a parking lot full of homeless people who I was pretty sure were going to attack me with Hepatitis C infested needles. I walked in, waited in line, and found out I did not have my passport, so I had to go back home, go back to the DMV, park about 390834 blocks away, and wait in line again. So I finally fill out all of the paperwork and wait in line again. And wait and wait and wait. As I am waiting in the picture-taking line, some Latina lady behind me says,

“Excuse me. You have…. Mirror?”

So I had her a compact from my purse while she attempts to spruce up her hair and fix up.

“I forget I have picture taken today.”

She hands it back. I smile at her and tell her no prob. I see a lady walk by with a mole on her chin which is approximately the size of a quarter. It is pitch black. It has 40 hairs growing out of it which are all a few inches long. It looked like she had a tarantula on her chin. I threw up in my head a little bit.

So Hector or whatever his name is takes my picture and says,

“Dang. I did good on this one. Rachel, go stand in Line B to take your test.”

“Um… My WHAT?!”

“Your test. You have to take the written test.”

I wasn’t sure whether to hit Hector in the face or to puke. I have mad test anxiety. I see paper and a pencil and I want to puke on it. I scanned through my Governator Driver’s handbook for a few seconds and wait in the test line. Then Hector YELLS at the top of his lungs,


Phones stopped ringing. Children stopped screaming. All was quiet and the patrons of the DMV stared at Rachel the hick who was in the wrong line.

I moved to the correct line to receive my test. Here is part two, where the AARP black man macks on me.

“My, my, my, Rachel. Are all women in Tennessee as beautiful as you? You are absolutely gorgeous.”

Rachel’s life-changing response:

“I am embarrassed. I do not know how to respond to this. May I have my test please?”

He hands it to me with a sly wink and I want to puke and I’m sweating and my hair feels hot.

I attempt to fill in the correct responses while the phones ring, people are talking to each other, faxes are coming in, effing babies are screaming, people are tapping on desks, I hear the scribbling of pencils, I WANT TO STAB SOMEONE!

I go back to the line with my 60 year old boyfriend and hand him my sheet. Hector the photographer now sits next to my old man. Hector says,

“So, when you getting off work?”

My boyfriend says,

“Right now. I’m taking Rachel to dinner. Rachel, where do you want to go to dinner?”

Hector says,

“You better pick somewhere cheap, Rachel, cause you gonna wind up waying for both of you.”

I say,

“Sorry. I’m married.”

My old man boyfriend said I passed the DMV test, which to me seemed impossible since I don’t know the first thing about mudslides and HOV lanes, but I guess it all worked out.

So now I’m waiting to receive my license from Sacramento.

This past weekend was insane. I went to a UCLA MBA party where I dominated rock band (not really, but I did have a small crowd of fans), and then I went to a rocket scientist post-holiday holiday party where men in suits walked around with Darth Vader helmets on.

How do I wind up in these situations?

Some middle aged man’s wife was completely wasted and kept yelling,


In front of EVERYONE. Coworkers, bosses, you name it. This lady was a stumbling mess fool.

I kept thinking about that scene in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” where the little short guy is going postal in group therapy because he wants his cigs. I WANT MY CIGARETTES NOW, NURSE RATCHETT! I WANT THEM NOOOW!

So yeah. The great job search of 2009 continues. I’ve been on craigslist and other search engines nonstop trying to find something that pays well while also allowing me to complete my degree. Great thinking, Rach. Try to find a job in the middle of a recession. I called this lady the other night and we prayed together on the phone. She was saying stuff like, “God, you promise to take care of your children, so we trust in You and know that You will provide the perfect job for Rachel.” It made things make more sense to me. I have this really bad habit of trying to work out every single detail in my life like I can handle it all, but I can’t. It will all work out. God sees the big picture when I don’t.

I just burned my thumb on my quesadilla so I’m going to nurse myself back to health with some ice. Peace out.