Despite snorting boatloads of chemicals up in my nose, I have a freaky sense of smell. Like I can whiff out the scent of a new shower curtain behind closed doors kind of freaky. I’ve left movies because of the scent of perfume worn by the person in front of me, refused to patron stores with overwhelming scents (yeah, I’m talking to you Bed Bath and Beyond in Burbank which smells like a potpourri hate crime) and can have old memories triggered by scents. I’m like Superman except with smell and I can’t fly. And I don’t look good in tights. Okay I’m nothing like Superman but I am a guy who recently caught a whiff of what my past used to smell like. And it was nasty.
First a flashback to Los Angeles, 2005. My old hungover walk the dog routine was a simple one. Slam water and Advil, grab the dog and head to my Echo Park Starbucks which was inside of a laundromat and next to a Subway. Only in LA. Having lived in that hood for the better part of a decade, it wasn’t unusual for me to run into to people I knew. One morning, I ran into a drinking buddy I also waited tables with. Upon hugging her, she told me “Oh my god. You smell like the floor of a bar.” The nerve! It should also be noted that this person wore rose oil and patchouli therefore for me to stink to high heaven must have been pretty impressive. I drank tequila and smoked a pack of cigarettes every day so I’m sure I wasn’t exactly a garden of earthly delights for passersby to enjoy like they would night blooming jasmine or a rosemary bush. My first thought was, “There’s no way I smell.” I mean I had tons of cologne and overpriced body wash specially applied in Persian prince-like quantities to avoid ever wreaking like a bar floor. But there it was evidence that I smelled as bad as I drank. Still, I didn’t ever really believe it. I mean heavy drinking doesn’t actually have a smell does it?
After accidentally standing downwind from an acquaintance who likes to “regularly tie one on” (her words) I think there might just be an eau de bar floor. The smell was one of stale cigarettes and cheap wine. I’m guessing here. Or maybe I’m absolutely right. Remember, I once correctly identified the scent of a Whopper inside of a friends backpack so let’s just assume I’m probably close. Unlike the time when I smelled cocaine on a blonde girl with teased hair on a really long and nauseating elevator ride, however, this olfactory incident didn’t make me want to puke. No, it was one of those “Oh yeah! I remember smelling like that!” Even though I previously denied my drunken hobo aroma. I thought it was just the other drunk people who I hung out with that stunk. This recent whiff of “what it was like” confirms that funky drunken scent was indeed coming from me.
But let’s be clear here. This is a different kind of funk than that “empty the back of the bus, doused myself in Steel Reserve and slept in my own puke” smell. That’s at least honest. No, my stench was bar floor covered by gallons of fragrances and lotions. But if we’re talking chemically and root of origin, both smells are the same regardless of how you cover it up. (Insert your own witty analogy of Glade cinnamon apple room deodorizer and toilets here.) As I write this I’m an inoffensive mix of coffee, Degree deodorant and fresh t-shirt. And as long as I remember to shower and don’t cook curry, my olfactory imprint is a light one for the most part these days. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe I have weird funk coming from me that I can’t smell. And that’s okay too. But at least for today, I know that I don’t stink like a bar floor. Now, please enjoy this Windsong commercial. And let’s all try to enjoy life too, shall we? Even in the stinky parts.
When I was 13 years old, I took my younger brother’s skateboard for a ride. Not really having any skills, balance or business being on such a thing, I rode anyway. Slow and wobbly to start, I soon found my footing and picked up speed. As I curved around a park on a paved path, I remember thinking, “Hey! This isn’t so hard. Maybe I should do this more often. Maybe this should be my thing. I should skateboard.” I’m sure what followed next in my mind was visions of the cool skateboarding friends I’d make and, more importantly, the new awesome wardrobe that would come with such a hobby in 1985. Visions of Vans and Jams danced in my head or clearly something did as I hit a tree-lined section of the path lost control of the board and landed on the pavement squarely on my tailbone. The tailbone bruise is a special kind of hell that nothing can extinguish. I even used this bump on my backside as an excuse to get out of a myriad of unsavory tasks for years to come- “I’d love to take that geometry test but my tailbone has rendered me useless.” Anyway, I tell this story not to inspire you to fall on your tailbone and get back up again. No. I’m taking this bumpy trip down memory lane to remind myself that every time I start to believe I’ve got it down and don’t need help, I fall on my ass.
I’ve recently started a new gig which routinely places me in a line of fire of not knowing everything, asking questions and making a ton of fuck ups. Luckily, I’m not diffusing bombs or doing heart surgery. But still, it’s embarrassing. After years of working alone in my pajamas, I’m now expected to show up, play by somebody else’s rules and operate in a totally foreign environment. Yesterday, I just couldn’t get anything right. Even simple stuff and the more frustrated I got, the worse things became. And before I knew it, the afternoon and my work in it was a comedic hot mess.
This shit show of a shift came as a surprise as earlier in the day, I thought, “Hey! This isn’t so hard. They’ll probably want me to be in charge here.” And just like that, I was back on my tailbone. Ouch.com.
My first instinct is to beat myself for not being perfect which is ridiculous. I’ve only done said gig 4 times and sporadically. And I’m a human being. I screw up. It’s kind of what we do. Worse case scenario is these little errors really tick them off and they ask me not to come back. That would suck for sure but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. This is a highly unlikely outcome for my screw ups but if it happens so be it. Falling on my ass hurts the tailbone but for extreme narcissists like me it really bruises our gigantic egos. And thank god for that. I need a steady stream of messages in humility that say, “Slow down. It is okay if you don’t know everything.” Bruises don’t get better if I dwell on them, however. The best I can do is let myself fall, learn from my bruises and then finally pick myself up and do it all over again.
Why, hello! Fancy bumping into you here. I wish I had some incredible story to share as to why I haven’t been blogging as much. It seems like there should be an amazing trip to France or some fancy career thing happening but the truth is it’s just life happening. It’s gotten big and busy. Which I guess is a miracle enough. The fact that I have relationships, work and passions is incredible. I’m trying these days not to fall into the gross American habit of saying “busy” like it’s some handicap. Like having a life and being busy is something people should feel sorry for me about. Or being busy allows me to be a douche or gives me a free pass to be eternally cranky. The tricky thing about having a life, however, is staying focused and on track.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated his birthday by going to the Denver Botanic Gardens and the above sign was all over the place. Obviously, put in place so folks didn’t trample the pretty plants and flowers. The brazen bunnies and squirrels didn’t pay much attention to it but they live there so they kinda get go wherever they want, signs be damned. The message of the sign, although intended to prevent botanical homicide, resonated with me. Currently, I’m collaborating on a poetry anthology, co-producing a bi-monthly showcase of new works, editing two monologues to appear in said showcase, handling the PR and marketing for Horse & Cart’s new production, working on my third full-length play and contributing to 3 blogs. And an awesome part-time job that forces me to get dressed up and interact with humans. I also have two demanding manageable conditions that need treatment daily, a marriage to cherish and cultivate and relationships to nurture to the best of my ability. Oh– and I’m also moving into a cute little duplex in November. So yeah. Boo hoo. My life is awesome. But I’d be lying if I said I handled it all flawlessly in a uber organized manner. Kind of the opposite. It seems like I get an avalanche of projects, have few days of “Holy Shit!’ and then somehow or another it gets done. All of it. It helps when I remember that I’m a writer and that I’m not saving lives. I’m just creating stuff which hopefully people will enjoy and some of it even pays me!
I can also avoid the “overwhelmed by enormously important business” trap if I remember what my path is. Staying sober, helping others and continuing to grow as a creative person seems like a simple enough path for me to follow. Everything else falls into place when I’m on that path. I recently ended a longtime stint as a copywriter and content creator. Naturally, more doors have opened with that out of the way. More opportunities to help people and do creative projects I want to do have presented themselves too. It all feels easy and not stressful. I have to remember to be grateful for my big full busy crazy life and it should be treated as a gift if I wanna hang onto it. And if I need to get off the path, not return some phone calls and just hang out in the shade for a few minutes like the little rulebreaker pictured above, that’s okay too.
Amgios y Amigas, how do you stay on path? What’s your path? And how do you avoid feeling overwhelmed? Share with me in the comments section below!