Plastic Stethoscopes

Well I’ll be damned, but we all grow up.

My childhood friends are your civic leaders,

They’re your parents, your bosses, and your teachers.

And I’m sitting beside you wondering 

what I am going to be when I grow up

I’d love to buy a house

I want a yard, a washing machine, and a dryer

To have talents that are respected,

And respect that is warranted

And no more roommates

 

I want to be married,

I want to be stable, accountable, bankable, insurable

I want you to want to give me a 30-year mortgage

Jesus, my friends are mortgage brokers

They can draw up the deeds to my house

They are licensed to operate heavy machinery

My friends are doctors, and lawyers, and food truck owners

They are analysts, they’re buying a wedding dress, they have P.h.D.s

I play house, I play doctor, I play Twister

I earn Monopoly money

I forget birthdays

And my mattress is on the floor

and I’ll be damned if we don’t all grow up

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To the organizers of the TED Talks

Dear TED,

When I watch your shows I feel like I’m on the hamster wheel of success. You’ve created these perfect banana chips of inspiration. My thirst for knowledge is quenched at your waterer full of wisdom. My self-doubt becomes the shredded newspaper at the bottom of my cage. I am happy, my cheeks are full of peanuts and optimism. The world seems so simple, challenges are surmountable. I am enthralled for rough 12-18 minutes and then inspired to make changes in my own life. “Ah hah!” I squeal, I just need to stand like superman for two minutes a day, look at pictures of baby animals, and play Scrabble with my mother in order to live 10 more years and have the confidence to live my dreams (the Scrabble is for the mental stimulation as well as fostering a healthy and consistent relationship with my Mom… also, I enjoy kicking her ass by 70 points by the second move). My point being, these talks are crack. I feel invincible, but once I hope off my hamster wheel of optimism I notice my legs have gone wobbly and I manage to chip my tooth on a kernel of corn. And that’s when I think “DAMN YOU TED! You’ve fooled me again you sly dog! The world isn’t solved in 15 minutes!”

Okay, so that’s not what you’re advocating. You’ve got people who have dedicated their lives to understanding something, who have had their own struggles, and then they get invited to tell everyone about it. If there was any theme it would be “the journey” and “believe in YOU.” And I gorge myself on that shit. I do. But then when I try to tell someone what I learned it is reduced a pathetically tiny hamster poo of understanding. “So they were saying people who Are dying regret things, and doing the opposite will make you happy and live longer… oh and look at baby pigs… and play more games.” Also, apparently being happy makes you better at everything…

I’m not saying this isn’t good stuff. It is. But I need a big chunk of inspiration. Don’t give me one chip, give me the whole damn banana. Give me more than I can chew so I can go back to it again and again. I need something that will fill me up long term, not just satisfy my hunger for a limited time. And how about a little fiber, eh TED? Not something that’s going to go right through me. I want that wisdom sticking in my gut for days. 

Love Lili

Ps. It’s still one of my goals to be good enough at something to be invited to speak so… just saying…

The Lightening Round

“It’s that time again folks, let’s give a hand to our contestant for making it this far.”

[raucous applause]

[contestant waves]

“Aaaaaaand it’s the lightening round. Try to answer as many questions as you can correctly in the next 60 seconds for the chance to see what’s behind door number three. Are you ready?”

[contestant nods]

“Fannnnnnnntastic. Julie, the timer.”

[a lady in a sparkly dress punches a big red button]

“Here we go. How do you feel about me? If you could get any outcome from this what would it be? What are scares you, just in general? Was this a false start? Have you mentioned me to your Mom? Did she see my picture? What are your expectations? Are you actually busy or can you not admit that you’re avoiding me a little because you don’t have answers to these questions yet? Do you want to take the lead and call me or is it okay if I call you? Are we really past games or is telling me that a sneaky move so that you can win? Do I need to read anything into the other night? Do you like me as much as people say you do, or are they just projecting the outcome they want to see for us onto you and trying to encourage me to see it to? Am I going to meet your friends for real? Do you bring me up in conversation? Would you think it was weird that I’ve mentioned you to people you’ve never met? How much are you willing to put into this? How far can I push you before you push back? How many times can I push you before you’ve had enough? Can you give me any guarantees that you’ll still want to talk to me next week? Next month? Next year? How about ten? Are you flattered that I suddenly care or now do you think that you can do better since I’m obviously interested and now the balance of power is tipped towards you?”

[Contestant faints]

“Oh not again… NEXT CONTESTANT PLEASE.”

The Whimsy

There’s more I want you to know. It’s not just the last thing, the sad thing, where I’m melancholy. There’s also the joyful thing, the whimsy. Let me tell you about the whimsy. 

The whimsy is when dry leaves spiral upwards with the wind and swirl across the pavement in fall. The whimsy is when your hand brushes up against his knee and you lock pinkies. Just pinkies. Oh, but then your hand creeps into his. That’s the whimsy too. And the whimsy is checkered skirts, mangoes, weathered journals, typewriters, rusted keys, hidden doors in walls by the bay, heart beats, and quarters. It’s the flutters. 

And I’m consumed by the whimsy. It laughs at the melancholy in a warm-hearted way, it invites it to play, to see the sad things as beautiful, and the beautiful things as whimsical, and the whimsical things as ordinary, because ordinary is wonderfully constant. 

So don’t feel sorry when you see me melancholy. I’m just gathering toys for the whimsy. It’s a delightful creature. We’re such good friends. No, I’m not lonely. I’ve got mangoes and checkered skirts and sometimes I listen for your heartbeats. Sneakily. I can’t help it. It soothes me. 

Yesterday I was melancholy. But I’m better now. I’ve got the whimsy.

To The Grown-Ass Men (Pt. 2)

Dear Grown-Ass Men,

I was giving you all a little break, but I feel like enough time has passed for my last message to sink in. I haven’t seen dramatic and sweeping changes to your behavior. I haven’t been approached by that little committee in Norway about my Nobel Prize, I haven’t even been called about the short-list. So, all I can assume is that you weren’t listening. And, as is expected by you of my gender, since I don’t feel heard, I’m going to tell you again… shut up.

I was talking to a friend of mine over a bonfire last night, and he was explaining his reluctance to enter a serious relationship for various reasons, including the drama. I don’t know how I can explain this any clearer than don’t be shitty and there will be no drama! From my extensive field research, I’ve gathered that most of you prioritize yourselves and the things you enjoy over the person you’re sleeping with. Is it any wonder that we’re reluctant to be straightforward? We know that you know we’re being manipulative sometimes. But honestly, if we were straightforward and told you want we want from you, we’d assume we’re going to hear “no” a lot faster and more frequently. We’re trying to protect ourselves from getting shot down callously. We have egos too.

Let’s just talk about courtship here. If I am interested in a guy and vocal about it, it’s a sure bet that he’ll be interested for five minutes before running off. The chase is over. What’s left to discover? I know that’s all it comes down to. My Dad told me so. Also, I’ve noticed how attentive guys are when I’m genuinely not interested. It’s such a damn waste of my time. Why do I need to prove I’m worth it to you by not being interested in you? What the hell is wrong with you people? Surely, if you enjoy spending time with me, that should be enough proof. If I’m honest enough to tell you I like you, don’t punish me for it. It’s not because you’re there and available, it’s not because I can’t do better, I probably can, but I like you. You should be flattered, and if you feel the same way don’t find reasons not to pursue it. And, if I’m less than upfront don’t be offended that I’m playing a game. I’m just trying to do what you want. I’m trying to play it your way.

You’re in the unique position of having been raised to think independently and selfishly. Women are raised to think compassionately. Yes, it’s a blanket statement, there are exceptions to the rule, blah blah blah, but there are clichés for a reason. I won’t mention all the men I know who have forgone a relationship or avoided one because it “takes too much of their time.” It’s just bullshit guys. You think we’re being selfish? Our version of being selfish is wanting to see you more. We want you to meet our friends and be part of our lives. When we ask you to tell us if you’re going to be late, or out, it’s our way of asking you to be considerate of our time. We ask for you to be a little considerate, and suddenly you’re feeling suffocated? Oh no, the big wild men are being domesticated? Well fuck you, women have been forced into domestication for thousands of years. Get over it.

Also, and this is the clincher, we’re not interested in relationships because they’re our first priority in life. I can’t speak for everyone, but I want a long-term relationship so I don’t have to think about this shit. I don’t want to have to date, to be chased, to play games. I want someone who I care about and who cares about me to be a stable presence in my life so I can get on with the rest of it. I can’t ignore that overwhelming biological cue to be coupled up. It’s just there. If I had a decent partner then maybe I could focus on the things that matter to me intellectually. You think I like writing you all these pissy letters? You think that’s the best use of my talents? I have a fucking screenplay to finish and I’m spending my time explaining women to you. It’s infuriating.

So, in conclusion, stop being crap.

Love Lili

To those who have expressed concern, NEVER FEAR

Dear Mom, Anna, Grandpa Sid, and Gina,

I owe you a happy post. You’ve all expressed some concern about my letters. Well, Gina, you haven’t. Mom mentioned you’re reading so I told her I’d give you a shout out. Anyway, I’m fine. See, I’m smiling. 

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Despite all of the frustrated and self-flagellating essays I post, I’m happier and more secure than I have been in a long time. That’s not to say I find my new life as a writer to be easy. It’s a lot of introspection, doubt, and isolation. I use my letters to concentrate all my anxiety in a productive way. But I have other coping mechanisms. I’ve included a collection of examples from the past month.

I didn’t want to go to work the other week. So, I sent Cinderella… actually, CinderLili. Sure, CinderLili doesn’t like having to miss the royal ball every Saturday night. CinderLili hates scooping sorbet for her evil step-sisters and their boyfriends, but she does it without complaining. She knows that eventually Prince Charming will rescue her from this misery. I spent twenty minutes getting the perfect photo to show how unimpressed I was. Then I went to work, pinned a sorbet cup to my head, and wore it as a crown all night.

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Sometimes when I get writers block I take a few minutes to to amuse myself. 

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I turn on loud music and dance-run across the house. I also waltz with imaginary partners or belly dance in front of the mirror. I record myself singing, then try and harmonize over it. I pretend the dining room table is a piano and lie across it while rehearsing my lounge act.

If I need inspiration I go to cafes and talk to people sitting next to me. Or, I consult people closer to home.

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We work well together.

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And as you know, I don’t have reading glasses. Those are my writing glasses. I got them at  a 3D movie. They help me concentrate.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m a total nutball. I take my work seriously, and I take myself seriously, but I let off steam all the time. I’m not sitting in the house under a blanket hating myself all day… just in the evenings. I’m kidding. 

The reason my letters have been negative is that I’ve been stressed out and trying to push myself. Also, I didn’t want to use my letters or my blog as a way to brag about myself. That’s not the point of this thing. But, in the interest of balance, here’s a little list of what I’m proud of this year.

1. I wrote an entire script of 100+ pages in two weeks. I’ve workshopped it, and I’m not onto a better and more exciting second draft.

2. I bought, assembled, and regularly use a treadmill. I added a makeshift desk that I work from sometimes.

3. I have gone on a fair number of dates with a lot of nice guys. I haven’t settled for a single one. I know what I’m looking for in a relationship and I’m not going to date a guy just because he’s there.

4. I have been honest all year.

5. I’m forcing myself to make commitments and keep them.

6. My hair is getting really really long and I haven’t cut it myself (except for the bangs).

7. I’m not letting fear be an excuse for not doing something.

So, there ya go. Also, thank you for caring. I realize this blog is often the only information you get from me on a regular basis. I’m sorry I haven’t called or written as much as I could. Just know that I love and miss you all, and let’s try and talk more.

All my love,

Lili

To The New Year

Dear New Year,

If I could tell you all the pickles I’ve found myself in this year you’d laugh. I would too. Scraped knees, bruised ego, broken heart, and a few professional bumps. The thing is, I knew what I was risking every time. Every day. I’m not afraid of being humiliated. I’m not scared that I’ll be disappointed a million times. I should be so lucky. Do you know why? Because a million disappointments means I’ve had a million hopes and imagined a million ways to get everything I’ve ever wanted. Maybe I walked away with a red face or red eyes, but when I walked in I knew what I wanted and said “to hell with the risk, it’s worth it.” And it is. I  t’s worth every minute of squirming, every dollar mistakenly spent, every hour that I’ll never get back.  I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s not ego, or bravery, or naivety, it’s blind optimism. I don’t want to learn from my mistakes. I don’t see them that way. Do you know why? Because you get to leap before you fall, and I’d rather fall a thousand times than stop believing I can fly.

So let’s do it again. You and me. We’ll take on the world and make it laugh with us.

Love Lili

To My Body

Dear Body,

This is a real big deal, and I want to tell the world, because damn. I’ve spent the past ten years at least looking in the mirror and finding everything I could that was wrong with you. I have prayed, on your knees, to accept you. But I would feel my thighs, which I’ve always been ashamed of, sink around my heels and feel worse. I compared you to all of my thinner friends and tried to make you more like them. I felt weak when my will gave out because I couldn’t bear to look at you in the mirror of an exercise class. I didn’t like that parts of you jiggled on the treadmill. So I starved you, then filled you to excess, then stuck my fingers down my throat just to try and feel better. And then I saw a therapist. And then years passed. I learned a lot about my mind but not enough about you.

Suddenly, over the past week or so, I got that magic change that I prayed for. Today I looked at you, and I loved you. Today we waltzed around the living room with an imaginary partner, and we dressed up, and we looked at pictures of Betty Page and decided to emulate her confidence. And again I say damn. Because finally I feel good. I still see those thick thighs and flubby bits, but they don’t jiggle when I keep my chin up. So I took a few pictures. And I’m letting everyone see them. And I’m letting everyone see you. And yes, it’s vain. But man, it’s nice to feel proud of something.

Love Lili

Ps. I bought you a treadmill. Happy Hannukah.

To Lili, age 9

Dear Lili,

I know this is a hard year for you, and if you ever got this letter you’d read it over and over, huddled in the bottom of the supplies cabinet at school munching on saltines. Knowing us, you’d probably show it off to your classmates too. Don’t do that. Even a letter from the future isn’t going to make them like you. I know you want them to know you’re special, that you’re going to be somebody, that you’re worthy of their friendship and so much more. They do know that, but they’re going to keep making your life miserable until you finally leave that school. If I could offer any advice to you I’d say give them a big middle finger when you do.

Lili, things are about to get so much better. It’s going to be another 15 years till you really understand how far you’ve come from that supply cabinet, but when you do you’re going to wonder how you became the luckiest girl in the world. You are going to move around, and meet people who open up your eyes and your heart. You are going to find the most wonderful friends, a few of them will enter your life just one year from today. These people, they’re going to treat you with so much love and compassion. They’re going to wrap their arms around you at midnight when you’re crumpled over in a foreign country, heartbroken, and trying to breath through the tears. They are going to pull you onto the dance floor and sway around with you, making ridiculous faces, and not trying to be even remotely sexy. They’ll visit you no matter how far you move, they’ll rescue you at 2am when you’re stranded and humiliated, and they won’t ask questions on the ride home. You’ll be challenged by them, angered by them, tickled, and kissed by them. You’ll move out of your parents house and watch as they sit on your sofa, drink your wine, and laugh at your jokes. It will be the most complete you’ve ever felt in your life.

I’m only 24, and that might seem old to you, but it’s not when you get here. I wish I could tell you more about how we end up in this house you call your own, and what we’re going to do with our lives, but that uncomfortable feeling of not knowing is important for you to retain. That’s what keeps you moving. That’s what gets you this place in your life where you feel so blessed that if you died tomorrow you’d have no regrets. Right now it might feel too far away, and there are a lot of things we want that haven’t happened yet, but I’m working for you kid. I’m trying to get those dreams to come true. You know the ones I’m talking about. So sit tight, fight back, and don’t be bitter. Everyone gets what they deserve, and you will too.

With all my love,

 

Lili, age 24.

To The Grown-Ass Men

Dear Menfolk,

I realize this is taking a twist from my last letter to one of your kind, but the next time I hear one of you complain about how difficult it is to get laid I want you to come see me so I can give you a big fat slap across your sorry ass face. It’s not hard, you’re just too damn stupid to seize the opportunity standing in front of you. I’m going to ‘splain a little something for you, and if I don’t win the Nobel Peace Prize for restoring harmony between the peoples of the world I’ll eat my hat. This is probably going to resemble the romantic advice column I wrote on MSN messenger in 5th grade, and yes, that’s a direct reflection of how capable I’ve deemed you to be in understanding the subject. We’re going to do this in two parts.

For all the single men out there;

I will bet that every last one of you know at least one female who you are either friends with or are acquainted with through work or hobbies who you find mildly attractive and who also finds you mildly attractive. Maybe you have feelings for someone you know who is admittedly a little out of your league but enjoys your company, even seeks it out. Maybe there is someone who you wouldn’t normally find yourself attracted to but whose company tickles you. These women probably aren’t that into you, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t change their mind if you proved yourself to be even a smidgen more thoughtful and attentive than the idiot they are interested in. (Note: I’m calling him an idiot because he didn’t have the good sense to read my wise words, go show him who’s a smart boy).

All we’re looking for, all you need to do, is show that you enjoy being around us and think about us occasionally when we’re not there. It’s so mind numbingly simple. Do it with confidence, and focus your attentions on one woman at a time so you don’t you look like you’re desperate or a slut. It will make her feel special. Feeling special is an aphrodisiac. That’s pretty much it. If it turns out she’s not interested, at the very least you’ll be a candidate when the dark days strike and she’s feeling a little lonely. And when that day comes, you better catch the signal with both hands and run with it because it’s a limited time offer, buddy.

For all the men who are currently sleeping with someone but not really dating them;

You like sex, right? You like sex with another person, right? Do you remember before how frustrating it was when you wanted to have sex and actually had to go around and find someone to sleep with and usually failed? Do you want those days to return? No? THEN PICK UP THE GOD DAMN PHONE! If you spend 5 or 10 minutes out of your day having a little text conversation with the girl you’re boning, that situation is going to stay pretty stable. Just think about it, 5 minutes a day maintenance and you probably get to have sex on a regular basis. It’s like the 4 hour work week, or the 4 hour body, except it’s sex, and that’s even better. You can do it when you’re looking at your phone on the toilet. I know that’s what you’re doing  when you’re in there, so don’t even…

“Oh, but I don’t want to be in a relationship right now, and if I show her attention she’s going to want one!” First of all, shut up, everyone wants someone to care about them. I mean, God forbid someone actually gives a shit about you. “Oh, but it’s so much effort!” No it’s not. It’s like having a good friend, and you spend a lot of time talking to friends right? If you’re smart, then everything stays the same except you get to have sex too. Think about it. That’s not a bad deal.

If you’re sleeping with someone but you don’t enjoy their company, then stop and go start sleeping with a friend. I’m serious. It’s going to be more fun because if/when it’s awkward, or you’re trying something out, you’re already comfortable with each other. And, when you’re done fumbling around you can go get some food just like you would before you saw each other naked. Doesn’t that sound nice? Exactly.

Closing statement to all the grown-ass men out there:

Start acting like it. This isn’t even about the sex, it’s about not dodging the conversations about what it involves it and what it means. I don’t take this lightly, and I don’t sleep around, but it’s probably more because you all scare so easily. Yes, I want a relationship. It’s nice to think that when you’re opening yourself up (I get the joke guys) that it’s with someone who isn’t going to run away and make you feel like there is something wrong with you. At the same time, don’t turn down the offer of a night in my bed because of my feelings. We’re both adults, we’re doing adult things, so let’s take responsibility for ourselves. I already took account of the risks and rewards when I decided it was a good idea to jump you.

And really, when you think about it, we’re all a little lonely and we’re all looking for someone to wrap our arms around. Why not stop trying to hide from committment, turn to that person who always makes you laugh, and say “hey, I’ll be nice to you if you’ll be nice to me.” Then get naked.

Love Lili