Archive for June, 2011
Since I got back from NYC I’ve been trying to log as much couch time as possible. Let’s just say that very little couch time has been possible. Very little. None.
It seems difficult to be this busy without actually having any sort of paying job but somehow, everyday, all day is filled with things that need to get done and children who need to be entertained. You know those weeks between school getting out and camp or summer school or whatever you do starting up? There should be a name for it sort of like how we call the hours from late afternoon to bedtime the witching hour. What would be a good name for those couple of weeks that bookend the summer that feel longer than if you had to spend the entire time on a Precor machine. If you have a good suggestion, leave it in the comments. Let’s get going on this because I need a project.
I bet you’re wondering who won books last week. Well wonder no more Day 1: Marta, Day 2: Sam, Day 3: Julie, Day 4/5: The Last Girl Standing.
Kindly send me your addresses and who you want the inscription made out to and I will mail!! Congrats! Free book!
Okay more tomorrow when I’m less tired. Like that will happen.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on June 30, 2011 12:19 am
Happy Thursday/Friday. I actually set this to post at 5 a.m today but it didn’t so this is for both days. Enjoy this excerpt from the chapter, Driving Miss Bateman. I will happily send a signed copy of the new book, I’m Kind of a Big Deal to a person I pick randomly from today’s comments. Oh, God, wouldn’t it feel good to win?
Justine Bateman can fuck herself with her skis. And the same goes for her sister, I thought to myself as I sat in the driver’s seat of my limo –scratch that, town car – outside of Killer Shrimp waiting for the ‘80’s sitcom star to finish eating her hour long dinner. She and her sister were taking full advantage of the two hour ride maximum while I stayed behind in the car starving to death and nursing sore muscles from carrying their ski trip gear the length of Burbank airport, out through the parking garage and loading it into the trunk. It wasn’t looking good for me to make a quick drop-off, call dispatch and grab another client and it seemed more than likely this would be another twenty-six dollar day.
I desperately needed a full body massage after the crap week I’d had, but obviously I couldn’t afford it. So far, I’d received a single paycheck which was somewhere in the neighborhood of $185 –and that was for two weeks’ work –after taxes. So I was pulling in about ninety bucks a week, which would have been awesome in 1920 but it wasn’t going to afford me even a decent foot rub in 1994.
To be fair to Justine, it wasn’t really her fault. Carrying luggage was part of the driver’s job and clients were full within their rights to make use of their two hour trip paid for by the studio any way they wanted. But sitting around waiting for someone to finish eating an expensive dinner while other drivers were getting assigned the good trips, wasn’t what I’d signed up for. Driving celebrities around was supposed to be the cool part of the job; the perk, a possible networking opportunity, or so I’d thought when I applied for the job. And to make matters worse, it was becoming clear I’d have to decide between the job and my dog.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on June 16, 2011 5:00 am
Here we are again. Leave a comment. Win a book. That’s how it works this week. Saturday I will choose one winner from each day’s comments (random). But if you can’t wait to see if you’ve won (that’s what I’m hoping) please go ahead and order or download your copy here.
This is from the chapter The Flying Handelmans.
“My trouble is, I’m named Bernard. Who made it my name? Did I make it my name? I don’t feel like a Bernard. I had hostile parents, and they named me Bernard. Is that my fault?”
“No. My trouble is, pause, I’m named Bernard,” my father corrected me. I was standing on a black stage in a small studio space in the San Fernando Valley where my father taught acting and stand-up comedy classes, performing a monologue from something called Feiffer’s People, for the twentieth time. Either it was his favorite monologue that had ever been written, by any playwright in the history of theater or he was simply too lazy to dig up something from this decade. From what I knew of him, I couldn’t help but suspect it was the latter.
My father, Stanley Myron Handelman, was a moderately famous television comedian in the late 60s’ early 70s. During his brief heyday, he filled theaters, palled around with the Rat Pack, and appeared on all the major talk shows. He did the Merv Griffin Show over thirty times, more than any other comedian, he would’ve been happy to tell you without prompting. I’d recently been reunited with him after about eight years of living in different parts of the country with my mother and stepfather and having virtually no contact with him.
One of the first things he did was invite me to take his class. I knew he’d been teaching stand-up comedy and acting for years; in fact I remembered quite clearly when I was about fourteen years old, on a visit to Los Angeles, sitting in an auditorium, watching him teach a class to a group of eager young students. He hadn’t done a television appearance in years at that point, but his students seemed to really look up to him. He was a god to them –if God had trained for his heavenly duties in the Catskills, wearing a newsboy cap and dark rimmed glasses. Like a lot of people, Stan’s students were captivated by his charisma and charm. So captivated, in fact, one of those students married him and became wife number four, succeeding my mother, who had filled the role of number three. She was twenty-six years old to his fifty-four.
My mother had remarried very soon after the divorce but my new stepfather was neither suited for, nor remotely interested in the role of surrogate dad. So, from the age of four onward, instead of two dads, there was a paternal placeholder in my life. In true Psych 101 fashion, I had a driving need to prove myself worthy of the fatherly approval that was in short supply. Add in my issues with food and body image, and it was like I’d been assembled in a lab from pieces of other needy chicks, to finance therapists’ vacation homes and retirements.
After moving to Los Angeles and tracking my father down at a local comedy/jazz club performing, we’d forged a tenuous relationship based partially on my desire to forge a connection with the father I never really knew and partially on my fascination with the art of stand-up comedy –which, in hindsight were probably one and the same. In addition to taking his class, I’d started going to a comedy club nestled in a San Fernando Valley Hilton on Sunday nights to watch some of his students who’d formed a comedy troupe. They were a group of approximately eight guys, coached by Stan, and going by the name The Flying Handelmans. I got to see them work on new material they’d honed in class, tighten bits that were already working and figure out why certain jokes that worked in class didn’t work in front of a live audience. These guys seemed like pros on stage, and were usually funny as hell. Although I wasn’t sure if I had the talent, I wanted to be a part of them and gain membership into Stan’s world, which to me would be the ultimate acceptance. But if I ever hoped to gain entrée to their performance group, I had to perform this crap ass monologue. Again.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on June 15, 2011 2:10 pm
And now, another excerpt. Although this isn’t indicative of the whole book, it does speak to something that a lot of us deal with: getting old as fuck. If you want to win a copy of the book, leave a comment. I will pick a winner from each day and send you an autographed copy of I’m Kind of a Big Deal! Or…you can just buy it here! It’s only 10 bucks.
This is from the chapter Shooting Up
In 2008, I had three kids, a husband and a lively writing career, which was the culmination of years of stand-up and television writing jobs. But, still after all these years of building myself up on the inside, getting therapy, reading motivational books –okay watching motivational Lifetime movies, I was still not immune to the pressures of living in Los Angeles. I tried to be; I went weeks without getting my brows waxed, I rarely wore make-up cause I figured, why bother? I’m a writer! I have earned the right to stay in my pajamas all day and temper deadline anxiety with Red Vines. If I miss a day or two of moisturizing, who’s counting? I haven’t been to a commercial audition in over ten years, I have no agent fretting over whether or not my J-Lo booty is going out of vogue and maybe I should do Pilates because they heard it can really lengthen your glutes. I’m free of feeling the need to conform to the whims of society’s ever changing standards of beauty. Although, I don’t know if I ever actually figured that in those terms or if I was simply too lazy to do anything about my retro-bush (oh yeah, I rocked the pizza slice for months after I had kids) and mustache. But I did pride myself on my lack of self-consciousness.
But one day I caught sight of myself in a photo snapped at a four-year-old’s birthday party and my smug attitude took a sudden and consciousness altering nosedive. I couldn’t believe what had happened to me. One day I was young and cute and the next it was like the elements had declared jihad against my face. I immediately phoned my best friend Diana. “Fuck. I look forty –and not the good kind of forty –not Selma Hayek forty. I look regular forty. I might need some kind of emergency intervention.”
“Honey, it might be time for us to get Botox,” Diana said gingerly, taking on a big sister tone. A few years prior to this I wouldn’t have even considered putting toxins in my face because a few years ago I was laughing my ass off at how ridiculous Meg Ryan looked with her crazy lips the size of banana slugs and how Nicole Kidman’s face packs more plastic than my wallet. And then I had a kid. And, oh my God in one year I aged ten. And, then I turned forty and got pregnant with twins and suddenly, there I was looking forty-two and feeling fifty.
“Botox. That sounds expensive. And there are needles involved –not a fan. And don’t you have to do it all the time? Isn’t it addictive?”
“Well, sure. If you’re crazy. And rich. And an actress. We are none of those things, therefore I think we can be trusted to Tox responsibly.” She did have a point there. But I was still nervous. “Look, I’m going to see my dermatologist next week for a mole count; why don’t you come with me and we’ll ask questions?” Pathetically that actually sounded fun. But when you have three kids, your fun threshold is significantly lowered.
When she swung by my house to take me with her to her Beverly Hills skin doctor, it occurred to me that this is something only women do together. You’d never hear a guy say, “Dude, I’m going to get my toupee clips rotated, wanna ride along?” But Diana and I had it like that. We did everything else together so why not this? I figured I’d let Diana do her thing and then I’d slip in a few questions for the doctor –as if the questions just occurred to me that instant and not like I was trying to work in a free consultation.
Of course once I was in the vicinity of medical personnel, I was off and running. “Can I ask a question?” I said to the assistant nurse. And then I dove right in. “So, I’m going to the gym, I’m eating healthy –if you consider Healthy Choice ice cream bars to be healthy – which I do – hello! The word “healthy” is right in the name!, I’m getting enough sleep and by enough I mean a few hours bookended by children crying and getting into bed with me every night. But basically I’m doing my part and yet, my age is starting to show. I was thinking about the possibility of a little Botox.”
“You know what would be great for you?” the assistant nurse asked.
“Um, what?” I said, hoping whatever it was, it would be available in a cream.
“We have this new mini face-lift. It’s non-surgical and it only requires a few days of social downtime.” Was she serious? Did I really look like someone who could use a face-lift? This was very disconcerting.
“I’m only forty-two. I think that’s a bit young for any procedure requiring ‘social downtime’” I snapped back.
“I know you’d love the results. My mom did it and she looks ten years younger.” Could she make me feel any worse? “It’s only two thousand dollars. We’re running a special.” Apparently she could. “Of course you could always go with Botox and some filler if you’re trying to save money. But it may not get rid of those furrows completely.” And here she poked the top of my nose with her index finger to illustrate, in case I wasn’t aware that my face was a freak show. Damn. I may not be able to get rid of my furrows completely? This was bad news since I hadn’t even known that what I considered a cute little scrunch my nose made when I smiled –like a little bunny –were furrows. Such a nasty word. Furrows sounded like the tunnels in the ground made by rodents overrunning the backyard. Wait, I might’ve been thinking of burrows, but in any case, whatever they were, they were in my forehead.
“I want to look ten years younger but at this point I’ll settle for a little rested,” I said to Diana on our way home from mole patrol, “because I certainly don’t have two grand lying around for a face-lift.”
“That was pretty ridiculous,” Diana said. “You don’t need a face-lift. Maybe just a little Tox and a laser.”
“A laser? Why do I need that?”
“Those liver spots aren’t going to lighten themselves.” This was worse than I thought.
“I don’t know. Maybe I could just try getting more sleep.”
“Stefanie, let’s be honest, you’re the mother of three little kids; the chances of you having Botox far exceed the chances of you getting a full night’s rest.”
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on June 14, 2011 3:12 pm
So here’s what I’m going to do. I know I haven’t been blogging for a little bit and that makes me feel all weird and disconnected (although I have been tweeting a bit). As some of you may know from my incessant FBing and tweeting, my new book, “I’m Kind of a Big Deal: And Other Delusions of Adequacy” hit the shelves and Internet stores last Tuesday. I will be doing some heavy duty promoting -Today Show, Joy Behar, some local NYC tv, etc. But in the meantime…I thought I’d do a giveaway of my book on my blog. Every day this week I’m going to put up an excerpt and…I don’t know…comment or something and at the end of the week I’ll randomly choose a winner from each day. That’s five books. I’m really good at math.
This book was a tough one to write because there is a lot of personal stuff in it about my father, plus there are plenty of humiliating experiences as a wannabe in show business. Just know that it’s not completely comfortable for me to constantly try to get people to buy it but it’s what I have to do to continue writing books for a living (sort of). So here we go with an excerpt from a chapter called
2 And 2 (this is taken from the middle)
” The episode of destiny started out like any other. First we were introduced to Andrea who’d gotten the coveted role of “chooser.” She was a bottle blond from San Gabriel Valley in a skimpy baby doll dress who looked like she was a girl who would describe a pair of boots as “kicky!” and who definitely owned a pink purse and a picture frame that says “Best Friends Forever.” If it had been fifteen years later she’d be Jessica Simpson. She was way too bubbly and annoying for my taste but, hey, some guys dig that.
Andrea had three videos of men to choose from. This was my favorite part of the show because I loved to watch the snippets of video they showed the viewers and make my choice, then get super excited if the “chooser” picked my choice so I could go on a date with them vicariously. My new boyfriend on this episode was the first video clip shown. My first glimpse of him was in a video freeze frame, his face oddly frozen in mid sentence while host Chuck Woolery gave us the basics: “First we have Greg, he’s twenty-three and is a photographer from Los Angeles who has a funny way of showing a woman he’s interested.” Then they cut to my boyfriend.
“If I’m into a girl, I’ll let them drive my car on the date. It’s a trust thing. Oh and any woman who can drive a stick shift gets a second date. That’s sexy.”
There was instant chemistry. I drove a stick shift. In fact, I learned to drive on a stick shift and was forced to take my driver’s license test in our car with manual transmission. So far I’d never seen the fruits of my labor. No one had ever been attracted to me for knowing my way around a clutch, but now that I thought about it, it was high time they were. This guy was very cute and very my type; brown eyes, baby face, twinkly eyes –just a hint of bad boy. He did have long hair and I wasn’t normally a fan but I decided that I would make an exception for Greg. Personality had to start counting for something. Life was about risks; risks coupled with detangler.
Next up was Justin who mumbled something about liking a woman who would cook for him and then the third guy was Curt whose greatest ambition in life was to be a successful reggae musician. I suspected that the closest he’d get would be having a bong shop in Jamaica, New York. But I magnanimously wished him luck.
“Andrea, why don’t you tell us who you picked,” Chuck said while I nervously ate through my third bowl of air popped popcorn drizzled with tobacco sauce. I’d recently been told by a black guy that I had a great ass and had immediately gone on a crash diet consisting solely of popcorn and diet Sprite.
“I chose Greg,” Andrea said and both the studio audience and I broke into a round of applause.
“Okay,” Chuck said. “Greg’s with us backstage. Greg?” Unlike today’s voyeuristic dating shows where we get to see the couples in action in their hottubs and helicopter rides, on Love Connection, where they just report back, we were forced to trust their recollection. Greg’s face popped up on the big monitor looking even cuter than on his video. I knew we made the right decision.
“So Greg, what was your first impression of Andrea?”
“I thought she seemed great. Very pretty. Nice smile.” Chuck turned to Andrea.
“And Andrea, what did you think when you first met Greg?” Andrea made a face like she’d just heard the news that truffles are a type of fungus. “I was surprised. He seemed a little different in person. Not quite my usual type.” Obviously they were off to a bad start. This show never had any dates that were so-so, either it was pure rapture or they were at each other’s throats. That was just fine with me. Greg was definitely my type.
“Okay Andrea, tell us about the date.”
Andrea complained about everything at the restaurant Greg took her to from the décor down to the valet’s cologne and explained that she personally preferred a more expensive dining option and she needed a guy who made more money. Greg looked pained but didn’t argue back. He’d never win anyway. I knew her type: typical LA high maintenance bimbo–no doubt an actress and not a fitness trainer like she claimed. Right then and there I decided I’d have to find this guy and introduce him to the exciting and wonderful world of lovable broke brunettes.
I could barely contain my excitement through the ad break so I quickly rolled a few calls to let my friends know to turn on Love Connection so they could take a look at my future husband. My friend Claudia picked up on the first ring and together we waited for the commercials to finish. Finally Greg came back on screen for his gripping take on the night in question. “Greg, what happened after dinner,” Chuck wanted to know. “Did you let her drive your car?”
“I offered,” Greg said. Of course he did. She’s not worth it, Greg.
“He does this thing where he drums on the steering wheel when he’s driving,” Andrea said. Why was she still there? I was completely over her at this point. “He keeps real drumsticks in his car which I found weird. At this point I just wanted to go home.” Of course she did. It had been four hours since she’d had her roots dyed.
“My God he deserves better than this twat,” I said to Claudia who was still hanging on the phone with me.
The date ended and it was time to see who the audience had chosen for Andrea. If it was Greg, the show would pay for them to have a second date if they both agreed. If it was another guy, she could stay with Greg and they’d be on their own, or she could date the audience’s choice and get money for the date. Shockingly to me, the audience had chosen the reggae dude. It sort of made sense though because I never went for the obvious choice. When the Hardy Boys was on, I was in love with Parker Stevenson while all my friends wanted Shaun Cassidy. Or on Love Boat while everyone lusted over the handsome feather banged guest star, I was having lewd thoughts about Doc. In my defense, knee socks could not obscure the legs on Bernie Koppel. Greg and I would laugh about this later. As would our children. And our children’s children. Because life is funny.”
So there you go. Come back tomorrow for more or go buy my book and leave a comment if you want to win a signed copy for free!
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on June 13, 2011 4:53 pm