Friday, December 4, 2009

Chapter 44: Flowers... Terrible!

I felt terrible accusing Susan Ellen of plagiarism, even though I was one hundred percent accurate.

The next day before work, I stopped at a grocery store to get her flowers. She accepted my apology when I reminded her that she was angry with me because I accused her of plagiarism. She thought getting her flowers was the nicest thing anyone has ever done.

"My husband doesn't even get me flowers," she admitted. She repeated that phrase several times throughout the day, despite the fact I've seen the phantom with the ponytail come in the house with flowers for her.

Oh, at this point I started calling her husband the phantom with the ponytail. I had realized a few weeks ago that he was always home in the basement and never came upstairs except to leave the house so he can get a taco (and obviously flowers to remind Susan Ellen that she was still married to him.)

Needless to say, I felt better that I was on Susan Ellen's good side again.

I have this issue that I can't feel settled if there's anyone who hates me. I think this is why, at that point, I continued to have terrible jobs, terrible friends, and reside in a terrible city in a terrible country in a terrible world in a terrible universe.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ch. 43 - Copy/Paste

Susan Ellen didn't want her book to be just a regular diet book. She wanted it to be a lifestyle book - a bible for new age-y women who were ready to make a change in their lives. However, she still wanted to title it "How to Get Off the Rollercoaster of Dieting" because, and this is no lie, her favorite ride at amusement parks were rollercoasters. I think she thinks she invented the idea of relating life's cyclical nature to a roller coaster.

When I first started working on the book, Susan Ellen gave me a pile of papers she said were her notes. She informed me that they were all notes she had written and it was my job to place them together in chapters. Here's what consisted of her "notes":

- ripped-out articles from "Prevention Magazine"

- magazine ads for ProActive

- organic diet bar wrappers that have Buddhist phrases written on them

- pictures of diamonds

- articles printed from dieting websites that end in ".biz" or were later shutdown due to misinformation

For a while I was using these things as references and writing the book from Susan's own words. Well, actually Susan's own words would be this: dhgjarhgdfjkslghsdfjklghsdjkl, but you know what I mean.

However, during a review of the chapters, she would look at what I had written versus her notes and ask why this specific phrase wasn't included. She told me to just copy whatever what written on her "notes" and just "organize" it, not "rewrite" it. I gave up at that point and just did what she asked. Fuck her. She's the one who's going to look bad, not me.

I was working on the book one evening and started thinking about plagiarism. I remember in high school, one teacher said that every teacher in the world had access to a special computer where you can scan an essay and check if it's plagiarized. I don't think that's true, but as I just typed that, I think maybe it is. I don't want to take my chances. That teacher was really scary.

My thoughts continued to wander and I pictured the authors of these articles I was copying eventually suing Susan Ellen. I then pictured Susan Ellen trying to defend herself and how easily she could say "Well, I had a ghostwriter and it was the ghostwriter who plagiarized." Holy fuck.

I was, what, a few months out of college? Could you imagine getting sued at that point? Needless to say, I started to freak the fuck out.

I called her the next day and reached her voicemail. I just unloaded everything. I told her I didn't feel comfortable just copying from other articles and that it's plagiarism and I didn't think it was right. I left the apartment and went for a walk. I came back and saw she had left me a voicemail. She told me a story of how she was on an airplane once and she sat next to the beauty editor of a fashion magazine. She told me the editor always took her ideas from other people's ideas and "that's what people do". She told me she was really hurt that I would accuse her of plagiarizing ("Eh- I can't even pronounce the word and I'm not quite sure what it means"- an actual quote.). She was upset that I was upset with her. She then desperately pleaded me to never stop working for her because she needed me to keep her life in order.

This is the point of this blog, that if this blog were a one-person show, I would sit at the edge of the stage and say, "How can I keep someone else's life in order if I can't even keep my OWN life in order?"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chapter 42

Okay, I hate admitting this because of its connotations, but I do go to therapy. I don’t have any mental conditions to write home about, I just find spending $150 a week to talk about myself without interruption for an hour totally worth it.

I began ranting about work, and my therapist asked why I was putting up with Susan Ellen. I was spending hours at her house, working on her book, teaching her how to use a really expensive cell phone, writing all of her emails, reorganizing her office, remembering to jot down all the ideas she had for this children’s book, and I think I may have spoon fed her a liver tonic one time. I can’t remember.

My therapist told me that Susan Ellen was relying on me too much. She called Susan Ellen a physic vampire - she was sucking all of the life out of me. It was true. I wasn’t performing. I wasn’t writing the things I wanted to write. She was calling me in the middle of the night. I got up in the morning, drove three hours to Susan Ellen’s, would be there for about ten hours, drive home, go to sleep, and do the same thing again the next day.

I told my therapist that I had to do these things. Susan Ellen was deaf, lost her short-term memory, and a brain dead person has the capability to diagnose her with ADD.

“If Susan Ellen is how you describe her, she wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything before you started working for her. I think she’s smarter than you think. She’s using these minor mental conditions to manipulate you into working for her non-stop. She’s making you feel guilty for wanting to live your own life,” my therapist responded.

Oh my God? Was Susan Ellen pretending to be stupid to manipulate me by evoking my pity? Maybe she is smart.

I did that one time. Growing up, I went to a Jewish sleep away camp and we always had hebrew school where we had to learn Jewish shit. B-to-the-oring. One day the rabbi was reading us a story and then we had to split into groups to discuss the story. I, of course, was not paying any attention. I think I might’ve been fantasizing about being a power ranger or something. Needless to say, when we had to split up in groups I was asked questions about the story and could not answer them. So, I told everyone the reason I didn’t comprehend the story was because I had a learning disorder and did not spend the last half hour off in fantasy world. So after that, guess what lucky girl got to color with broken crayons instead of hearing the Hanukkah story for the umpteenth time?

Susan Ellen was doing the same thing! She was probably using her disability as an excuse to not live up to her responsibilities and get someone else to take care of her shit. It was pretty genius on her part and probably something I would do once I become master of the universe. But for now, fuck that shit. I’m hypocritical; bite me. It was time to take a stand.

The next day I arrived at Susan Ellen’s house early and found myself picking up all of the dried up dog shit around her house from her mutant puppies.

Way to have balls, Becky…

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chapter 41: Snack Time

Susan Ellen doesn’t eat. Her meals include herbal and mineral capsules as well as non-positive ion- snacks. Because she has a gluten allergy, she occasionally eats these brown rice tortillas that she toasts. (She doesn’t have a microwave because she’s also allergic to foods heated by a lightbulb. I felt bad for her: she never got to play with an Easy Bake Oven.)

Since her cleaning lady was scrubbing the office, I was working at her kitchen table that is covered with fake plastic diamonds. During the time, “Diamond Power” became the fad form of spiritualism amongst the Hollywood elite. Susan Ellen had them everywhere.

Susan Ellen toasted one of her brown rice tortillas and was munching on it, making the loudest crunching noises as if she were in a Pringles commercial. Before I knew it, her three dogs were crowed around her lured in by the smell of food. She broke off pieces of her tortilla and suddenly I heard the crunches noises times four.

I looked up and saw Susan Ellen and her three puppies simultaneously crunching on this rice tortilla all with their mouths open. Gazing at the three of them chewing like cows who chew on curd, my mind delved into the biggest question of all:

Which one had the highest IQ?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chapter 40: Love Connections

Los Angeles is a very lonely place. You spend so many hours driving by yourself, listening to the same Arcade Fire song on Morning Becomes Eclectic, and thinking the same thoughts again and again until you are certifiably insane. I totally understand why so many people out here get busted for prostitution. So many people crave any type of companionship.

No matter how Jewish a person in LA pretends to be, there is always some motivation to keep the chosen people going. Susan Ellen claims to be Jewish but that doesn’t hamper her from believing in the animal spirits associated with the Easter Bunny.

Susan Ellen’s number one A-List client had a Jewish assistant around my age and Susan Ellen found it to be her Jewish duty to set me up with him... Jewishly. His name was Josh, which I totally hate because my brother’s name is Josh. I know it’s weird, but I never want to date anyone who has the same name as my brother or my father, for that matter. It’s just this thing I have; I can’t help it.

Also, I never want to date Jewish people. I love my people; really, I do. But there’s so few of us, I have a huge fear that if I do date a Jewish person, he will wind up being very closely related to me and I try to avoid incestuous relations when I can. I can barely associate being with people who have the same music interests as me without fear that our child will end up having half an eye or fingers coming out of his or her ears.

However, Susan Ellen gave me no choice. “I am setting you up with Josh,” she proclaimed one day.

“Okay,” I said as I was inventing a colon cleanse routine for her book. (It involved Lucky Charms and Coors Light, by the way.)

A while ago, I had showed her my headshot for some reason and she said that I looked beautiful. I found that very flattering.

A few days later, I was working and Susan Ellen picked up her cell phone and just randomly called Josh. There was something about Josh that bothered me based on the fact that he could stand to have a casual conversation with Susan Ellen.

“There’s someone I want to set you up with,” she said.

Since I could hear Josh’s voice, I heard:

“Well, is she pretty? I kind of only go for pretty girls.”

“Yes,” Susan Ellen said. “She has gorgeous red hair and a face… I mean, she has a face. Listen, I’ll send you a picture of her headshot. I mean, it’s just a picture so it looks kind of worse than how she normally looks. But she’s Jewish and smart and-“

“Well, as long as she’s pretty…”

“Well, she doesn’t look like the girls out here, so she’s not pretty like that-“

I got up to go to her downstairs bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror. I knew I would never hear from this guy Josh. And the good news was that I never did.

Chapter 39: Bathroom Breaks

I suppose I’m making myself very vulnerable right now, but for those of you interested in Freudian analyses try not to get come on your keyboard:

I have recurring nightmares where I’m sitting on a toilet, going to the bathroom, and there’s no stall and the toilet is just in the middle of everything and everyone. I have had dreams where the only available toilet would be in the middle of my college dorm hallway, a classroom right next to the teacher’s desk, an office next to my boss’ desk, the UCB stage during a show, in front of the flatscreen in a living room at a party, and anywhere else where the public is basically staring at me going to the bathroom. It’s horrible and I know I need a lot of counseling, but I cannot help but have these recurring dreams and I just think it’s integral that I share this with you.

Susan Ellen has no door to her office bathroom. What the fuck? Who just takes down a door to the bathroom? The hinges were there. The soap was moist. This was a workable bathroom, but who uses it sans door?

Susan Ellen said she never minded me using that bathroom. She didn’t care if I was peeing a visible three feet away from her.

Sure, I’ve gotten drunk at parties and peed in front of my girlfriends in the bathroom because it’s the only place we could make fun of gross people making out with each other. But peeing in front of my boss? No fucking way!

Therefore, anytime I ever felt the urge, I had to walk all the way downstairs with Susan Ellen constantly saying, “Really! I don’t mind.”

I do!

Even though she probably couldn’t hear the actual tinkle hitting the water, I minded. Going to the bathroom was the only place and time I could make fun of Susan Ellen with the person who understands my situation best: myself.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Chapter 38: Ring Ring

I’ve regretted doing a lot of things: kissing certain somebodies, believing everything my 6th grade language arts teacher has ever said, and not committing first degree murder when I knew I could get away with it.

The thing I regret most was giving Susan Ellen my cell phone number. The evening after she had knowledge of my digits, she called as I was pulling out of her driveway to confirm I was coming in tomorrow.

She asked a minute ago when I walked out the door and she forgot already.

She called late at night to ask where I saved files on her computer. She called early in the morning to see if I was coming in… and to ask where I saved those same files on her computer again. It was manic.

On a Sunday evening, I went with my roommate to see There Will Be Blood at the Vista. During some quiet scene in the movie, my phone rings. I turn the ringer off. My phone rings again! My roommate glares at me.

“This never happens,” I whisper. I shut my phone off.

Walking out of the theater, I see that Susan Ellen has called me seven times and has left me seven voicemails. These are actual quotes.

First Voicemail: “Hey- it’s Susan Ellen. Are you coming in tomorrow? I forget. I want to work on the book some more. I want to make on how to make a change and less about changing your diet but more like, 'how-to'. Like steps. I just don’t know if you’re coming in. (retarded pause) Bye.

Second Voicemail: “Becky. Susan Ellen. You didn’t call me back yet. I still need to know if you’re coming in tomorrow. I really want to work on the proposal. I need help with like writing it and stuff. Like, I have my ideas but I need to put it in sentences. Is sentences the right word? (retarded pause) Okay. Bye.”

Third Voicemail: “It’s me. Susan Ellen again. I’m not sure if I called you but I was wondering if you’re coming in tomorrow? I lost my short-term memory so I can’t remember if you called me back yet. Can you call me back?”

Fourth Voicemail: “Becky. Susan Ellen. I don’t really sleep so you can call me at whatever time you want to let me know that you’re coming in tomorrow.”

Fifth Voicemail: “You’re not calling me back and I really don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow if you’re not going to be in. My mind is like nuts and I really need someone to help me get organized. I have this infomercial coming up and (retarded pause) just call me back.”

Sixth Voicemail: “Can you call me back because I need to see if I need to call Ted to find a replacement for you if you’re not coming in.”

Seventh Voicemail: “Becky. It’s Susan Ellen. Don’t know if I called you yet, but I’m checking in to see if you’re coming in tomorrow. Anyway, (retarded pause)have a good night!”