Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Letter To The Park Slope Food Co-Op

Dear Park Slope Food Co Op,

You win. After debating whether or not I should quit you last night, because I am pissed that I owe two make-ups and have another regular volunteer shift next week and my time is absolutely priceless, I begrudgingly went...but I am glad taht I did. While working, I bought the following:
Goat Cheese
Soft imported Italian cheese I can't spell that last week Mike and I paid three times as much for
a loaf of bread.
carr crackers
seaweed crackers
a bunch of beautiful bananas
No Nitrates salami
kidney beans
black beans
a bag of salt & vinegar kettle potato chips
hummus
baby carrots
a dozen cage free, no hormone, organic, no antibiotic, blah blah blah eggs
all for $25.
I know. I know. So I guess I will suck it up and put down my work and for 2 hours and 45 minutes give back to the "community" with my priceless time. I still think you are making out better on the deal.

Signed,

A Defeated Member

Sunday, April 25, 2010

On The Road

So tomorrow's Moth theme is "On The Road" and I am trying to give myself assignments and the Moth themes always seem interesting or challenging. I have so many road stories but I couldn't think of any that weren't your typical "tying to find yourself 20s" stories or ones that did not have ani difranco and dar williams as the soundtrack. but then as i thought some more...so many came to mind. the truth is i have the ultimate road story-8 weeks in a toyota traveling around the country interviewing strangers with carmen. or how about the bus trip i took from san fernando to berkeley where i met mike and his brother dave who were driving from jersey (the first time mike and i dated)? or the road trip i took with my brother who had a mohawk at the time and as we sped through texas were pulled over and I accidentally handed the cop my brother's fake id? or the 24 hour trip to vegas where i took a packet of no dose to stay awake? the blizzard from maryland to new york in a soft cover jeep after a night of partying? the trip from la to santa barbara in tara's car where she forgot the face to her radio so we, relatively new friends, were forced to spend the entire trip getting to know each other? or the trip from LA to jersey with mike, my stuff all sealed in vacume bags including my temperpedic mattress-the one vacume bag with a debilitating leak? but if i think about the scariest or the one that captures my truest sense of adventure it might be my first visit to dc. my roommate at the time cashed a hot check, unbeknown to her, given to her by her boyfriend for a screenplay she wrote for him. when the bank informed her she owed them 7 grand and her boyfriend had stopped returning her calls, she went to the police. after turning down a date/plea bargain with the detective he informed her he should arrest her right now since there was a warrant for her arrest. she left the police station, got drunk (the only time i ever saw her drunk, perhaps one of the few times she drank) and came home to our NYU dorm. she told me the whole story and in our nineteen year old minds, we decide she needs to flee new york. so we call up our friend paul, who at this point, we didn't know just how rich he was, but had a clue. we knew he had a car in connecticut. so the three of us hop a train to a little town called greenwich. we get to the biggest and fanciest piece of property alma or i have ever seen. at this point, alma and i are both vegetarians and we walk into a room covered with heads from animals we have only ever seen in the zoo. we drink a beer, play a game of pool while paul's mother offers to make us buckwheat pancakes. alma and i both look at each other and at the same time mouth "what the fuck is buckwheat?" paul offers to show us around his house but refuses to let us see his room. he acts so strangely about it that we become very interested thinking there must be awkward high school prom pictures or some poster of a boy band. but paul's brother wants to show us the room. now here's where it gets murky. i don't remember us seeing the room that night, but weeks later when alma was back in connecticut, paul's brother showed her the room. alma, a black woman from the roughest part of dc, walked into paul's greenwich connecticut room to find it covered in white supremacist posters and graffiti. When Paul found alma he broke down and told her he was no longer this person and explained his angry youth in a most humble and humiliated way. but i digress... after our buckwheat pancakes we took paul's' pimped out cadillac escalade to DC. Since I was the only one with a valid drivers license I drove. As we were driving through the night, paul put in "eddie murphy raw," the first time i ever heard it, and we laughed the entire way...until i hit trenton, new jersey. being from california, i've never heard of a jug handle. so i find myself circling trenton in the middle of the night in a pimped out escalade with connecticut license plates and a nyc fugitive in the back seat. i finally try to make a left turn, something you can't do in jersey, and a cop pulls me over. i begin to sweat and imagine us all in handcuffs and who my only call will be to, but when i roll down the window the cop says, "you're not from around here." when i show him my california license and spill out some sob story the three of us conjured up about needing to get to DC for a sick grandmother, the cop lets us go, without asking for alma's or paul's id and even shows us how to get to DC. we hit the road again, feeling invincible! we bump ludacris's "roll out" and outkast's "the whole world." then we head into dc and the car goes quiet and paul and i know its time to turn down the music. as we cross Martin Luther King drive into Alma's hometown, she leans in and tells me, "Lindsey, anywhere in this country where there's a street named Martin Luther King, don't go there." we dropped alma off at her parent's apartment. her mom talked to the plants and her father had been gone for a couple days. alma, who i never saw cry once or even get too excited told me not to worry. she would figure it out. and by the looks of things, alma had already figured everything out. she had figured how to get herself out of the dc ghetto, out of her parents' home and pay her way through nyu. and here paul and i were dropping her right back in it because a boy had lied to her.  i knew alma would figure it out because she was a survivor, but my perception of the world got a little bit bigger that day. paul and i left alma sitting on a mattress on the floor in her home and got back into his car. we tried to listen to eddie murphy again, but neither one of us laughed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

to keep searching


Almost five years ago, my friend and I took a road trip around the country. We packed a camera, some tapes I got from a canceled reality show, and a huge jar of mixed nuts. The idea was to capture the voice of our generation but we both knew we were also trying to find our own. Neither one of us walked away from that experience with concrete answers or clearly defined beliefs, but we both walked away more curious, more confident, more assured in ourselves that no matter what are lives were going to turn out to be we both would be alright because in the end neither one of us would ever give up searching...
and most importantly neither one us will ever let the other give up.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dues


There is no such thing as having paid one’s dues. Only the ability to know when you have hit your threshold.  The ability to see just how much shit you can take to achieve what you think you want the most. People like to think that success is about ambition but really it’s about threshold and if you can figure out your threshold you can figure out anything. My threshold ended not with the fourteen-hour work days, nor with the pittance of pay, but with a chopped salad. My boss, a big time Hollywood producer, was on a very strict cleansing diet prescribed by a famous holistic doctor in Beverly Hills, and under no circumstances was he to have tomatoes. His health was in terrible shape, his marriage was a ticking time bomb, and his work was killing him mentally, physically and spiritually, and here I had forgotten to ask for no fucking tomatoes. Panicked by my mistake, I raced to the company kitchen and began violently stabbing tomatoes and flinging them into the garbage that rested below plaques of some of our box office hits. I ended up flinging more than just tomatoes as Steve Martin disapprovingly looked down at me from his “Parenthood” plaque. I glanced to my left and found Jim Carrey dressed as The Grinch scowling at me and my careless fuck up. Tom Hanks from “The Burbs” hosing my shame with a raised eyebrow as if he is saying, “great. fucking tomatoes.” When I looked back down at the colorless salad I realized that the missing tomatoes had greatly reduced the appearance of the salad and that either way I was in a losing situation here. A feeling I had felt before but had convinced myself that I was just paying my dues. The buying of his saline nasal spray, the working on weekends without overtime, the blackberry that I began to hear buzzing when it hadn’t, the anxiety dreams and gastrointestinal problems were all just a part of the dues. I’d been paying my dues for so long I realized I had forgotten just what it was all for. I looked at the remaining tomatoes and it struck me that perhaps there was something more that I could be doing with my overpriced college education. I had been working shit jobs for six years while I watched people I graduated with sell $500,000 scripts, star in movies with Ben Stiller, and skyrocket to success.  I wondered about the difference between me and my successful classmates. Certainly I was just as driven. Certainly I was willing to sacrifice and never once did I complain. But perhaps the difference was threshold- a daring version of self-respect.
I hid the remaining tomatoes under the bottom of the salad and served the plate to my boss. He ate the entire meal, never once even looking at the tomatoes stuck on his fork nor noticing their bitter taste. Watching him eat those forbidden tomatoes without even realizing they were there I knew that there was no amount of paying dues that I could do that could get me what I wanted. Just like no holistic diet was going to solve my boss’s mid-life crisis. The difference was in defining my threshold and once I did that I woke up.  Three weeks later, I quit my job, I found a sublet to finish out my apartment lease, I packed my Toyota with all of my belongings and moved to New York. I got an easy job that allows me to write and allows me the time to gather the courage needed to tell a story in front of strangers...if I ever do get picked to perform at The Moth.

As for my boss, after sixteen years of paying his dues as a company man, and earning them over a billion dollars in profit, he realized he didn’t want to be a producer and in fact always wanted to be a director. When he pitched a small budget movie with an incredible package- hot young actors, an amazing script, A-list cinematographer as well as creative and well-thought out storyboards for every frame of the movie, the company buried the project and told him to go back to what he knows, go back to what he always does, go back to what he is good at. The dues had become his identity. My boss quit that company six months later, took up surfing, saved his marriage and is now the picture of health and most importantly he is becoming a director.
Now, whenever I hear the expression “just paying my dues” I think to myself “at what cost?”