Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Poor, Poor Me

There I was yesterday, pissed off that I had to drive all the way from Burbank to West Los Angeles for a TV show pitch and then had to turn around and sit down with Taylor Dane by 12:30 so we could talk about me helping her write a book she feels is very important and empowering to women who are still single (like her) and have children (like her) and need to get out there and find a partner. Wouldn't you know it, before I got to Taylor my manager called and said the network had passed on the TV idea. That news always sucks. But, O.K., whatever, this is the way it is in TV land. This is the business I chose. But the more shit you toss at the wall, the better chance you have of something sticking. (You also run the risk of having some of that shit land on your shoes).
Moments before actually sitting with Taylor - who's an old friend from my crazy New York City days - my manager calls again and says (sadly) "I just got off the phone with your producer on "High Stakes Poker," and at this point there's no guarantee they're bringing it back for a 6th season." (Why would they? It's only been their No. 1 show for five years.)
"Here comes Taylor," I tell him. "I can't hear that news now or I'll light this fuckin coffee shop on fire." We both laugh. But we both know the bad and inexplicable news that the television business sometimes delivers can be so devastating, you just have to laugh it off.
I'm listening to Taylor's passionate idea about her book and I'm understanding most of it. But a little part of my brain is thinking...."No sixth season of High Stakes Poker means we're gonna have to start dipping into our savings again. And who knows for how long.
Anyhow, Taylor and I part with a better understanding of what she wants her book to be about. I watch her Twitter to friends that we just had a great meeting, etc. I guess that's a cool moment for some, but I'm a "Twidiot." I don't Twitter. I don't Tweet. "Tweet" is the sound my little boy makes when he sees a finch. It's never gonna be how his father communicates.
I get home. The kids are all over me. Especially my son, who at 17 months old, is at the exact height where all he does is grab my balls as I walk by him. I adore my wife and kids, but I need a break. Too much bad and crazy news to digest and it isnt even 2 PM yet.
I go outside to escape in the garden. That always works for me. Cut some roses, some lavendar, stuff it in a vase and place it on the table. Hey...happy wife, happy life.
But when I go back outside to mow the lawn, my neighbor (I'll call him Artie) puts his head over the bushes that separate our homes and he hands me a beer. We click bottles and take a slug.
"Well," he says, "Cancer, buddy."
"What? Who?," I say. "You're fuckin' my age. We got time."
He proceeds to tell me he found a lump on his neck, had it checked - and blah, blah, blah - it was malignant. "Thyroid," he bravely says. "There's a huge survival rate, so I'm cool." He says this as his son is ripping across the backyard, tearing up grass with a bike and decapitating flowers in the process. "It's amazing how much shit like that don't mean a damn thing to me no more."
So my wife an I go visit them. And we watch as our 5-year-old girl and our 17-month old son play in the garage with an old train set with his sweet 7-year-old boy.
I never dug trains as a kid, but suddenly this was as beautiful and poignant a scene as things get. Our children built a train track, shared train cars and tunnels without one raised voice or baby argument.
"This is unbelievable," we say. They are 15 fet away and have no idea the gravity that's making the beer go down real hard.
My friend is strong and positive. He's a character and a crazy Cleveland Browns fanatic and never asks me to return the step ladder I borrowed from him almosy two years ago so that I could put up NY Giants Super Bowl junk on the roof of my house. He and his sweet wife make us laugh and hand us some more beers until it's 10 P.M. and I gotta get home to work on Taylor's book proposal.
But fuck if I could write aything. All I could do is kiss my kids hard as Hell on the face, take a Xanax and curse myself for thinking that I was the guy who had the bad day yesterday.


  1. People like your neighbor are amazing. Makes you think about one's overall perspective on life...

  2. AJ, what you wrote is SO true. Having been an Undertaker for 22 years, I have unfortunately seen every Greek Tragedy there is when it comes to untimely death.

    When I talk to my Family members and one of them says, "Oh, this sucks, or I can't believe this is happening," I say, "Unless you just got news from a Doctor today, that you are terminally ill, all the other stuff is meaningless bullshit, and it doesn't really mean a thing in the big picture". Funny how that line changes people's perspectives in a hurry.

  3. Hello AJ. Could you please send me your contact information...evert@rounderlife.com

    Thank you