The Best Seat in the House

*The following was my November guest blog on the wonderful Letters Inside Out.

 

My 24-year-old daughter has played a big part in the success of The Door in the Sky, having helped me every step of the way right up to the book’s publication. She continues to help by acting as my Social Media Manager, a job she actually holds in real life for a real company that, unlike me, pays her in real money. In an effort to show her my appreciation, I decided to take her to see one of our favorite comedians, Craig Ferguson.

The show was held at one of those gorgeous old theaters in Chicago — the aptly named Chicago Theater. This opulent auditorium was built nearly 100 years ago and is one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world. To give you an idea of how luxurious this theater is, the interior was patterned after the Paris Opera House and the Royal Chapel at Versailles.

The problem with old theaters is that while they seat 4,000 people, they have approximately six toilets. Folks in olden times apparently really knew how to hold it. I, on the other hand, have never made it through a sporting event, movie, or even an episode of Revenge without having to use the loo.

Thus, imagine my distress at seeing a line for the ladies room that stretched from the gleaming marble bathroom through the ornate lobby to  halfway up the grand staircase (not so grand when you’re hopping from leg to leg).  They refurbished the theater in the 1980’s at a cost of nine million dollars. You’d think they could have sprung for a new toilet.

Another problem I had with the Chicago Theater was the elevation between rows. As in, there was none. We had box seats, which always reminds me of where Abraham Lincoln was seated when he was assassinated. There was literally zero difference in height between my row and the row in front of me. And considering that I am just over five feet tall, and there was a human giraffe in the row in front of me, this was a big problem. I spent the majority of the performance staring at the back of a balding man’s head. If I leaned way over into my daughter’s lap, I could just make out Craig Ferguson’s shoe. This led me to a controversial new theory about Lincoln’s assassination — John Wilkes Booth did not shoot Lincoln over a difference in political beliefs, he shot him so that he could have a clear view of the stage.

In addition to not being able to see Craig Ferguson, I also couldn’t hear him. This had nothing to do with the theater’s sound system and everything to do with the woman sitting behind me. As near as I could tell, she was recovering from the Bubonic Plague. She had a hacking cough that sounded like a cross between a vomiting Chewbacca and an asthmatic elephant.

At this point you may have come to the conclusion that I did not enjoy the show at all. On the contrary, I had a wonderful time. Craig Ferguson was hilarious. At least that’s what the lady in line behind me for the ladies room said.

All in all it was a delightful evening and one that I hope showed my daughter how much I appreciate all of her hard work at the very reduced price of nothing. For her Christmas bonus I am going to do an extra load of her laundry.

“Would you mind shutting the door?”

No Loitering

As a professional writer who works from home, I am in the unique position of enjoying certain perks that most of the workforce does not. For example, coming to work in my pajamas. I can also take as long as I want for lunch and I’m very reasonable about giving myself time off to attend to urgent personal matters such as manicures. All in all, I have found that I am an excellent boss — a pushover, really. I can come to work late or leave early with nary a reprimand. And the best part is I don’t even have to fake being sick when I want a day off. I simply take it.

However, the flip side to all of this freedom, ironically, is all of this freedom. In other words, since I have no one to report to other than myself (and I think I’ve already proven that I am an extremely lenient boss), then I don’t have anyone to hold me accountable. And if I don’t actually do my work, then I don’t actually get paid.

As I sit here facing a deadline, stunned that I don’t have more written, I have decided to look back on the past week trying to determine where I could have spent my time more efficiently. Upon closer examination, it turns out that I might not have an outstanding work ethic. Here is my eye-opening list.

The Top 10 Things I Did To Procrastinate This Week:

10. Googled “Pez dispensers”.

9. Stalked old boyfriends on Facebook.

8. Stared out the window with my cat.

7. Started to organize my recipe box, got distracted and baked cookies.

6. Watched Jenna Marbles YouTube videos.

5. Previewed ringtones on Verizon’s website (winner- The Flinstones theme song).

4. Put stuff in my shopping cart on Amazon, knowing I won’t buy any of it.

3. Called my mother.

2. Attempted (and failed at) the Jumble.

And the number one thing I did to procrastinate this week:

1. Compile this list.

Why you should always hang up your clothes

I was sitting at my computer working on my next book, when I heard this tortured sound coming from the bedroom. It was like a cross between a choking goose and a bagpipe with diarrhea. So I jumped up from my chair, ran into my room, and saw my cat leaning over a pile of clothes trying to cough up a hairball. Right onto my favorite sweater!

Have you ever tried maneuvering a vomiting cat? Suffice it to say that the story ends with a lot of bandaids and a very long shower. And a dry cleaning bill for my favorite sweater.

The Windy City

Last week, the Powerball jackpot was so high that I couldn’t resist buying a ticket, even though I’m broke (no one has ever accused me of being a financial genius). So I drove to the gas station, grabbed some money, and started walking to the cashier. But then a giant gust of wind came and blew the cash right out of my hands! I started chasing it into the street until I realized that four bucks probably wasn’t worth losing my life over.

On the way back to my car, a thought struck me — I’m always hearing people say, “Instead of playing the lottery, why don’t you just throw your money directly into the wind?” So I started laughing, and couldn’t stop giggling all the way back to my car. A woman at the nearest pump was staring at me like I was nuts, and I noticed she clutched her purse a little more tightly as I passed by. Nobody won the Powerball that week, so I’m on my way to buy another ticket. But this time, I’m holding onto my money. At least until I give it to the cashier for a one-in-twenty-billion chance to win. What? Someone has to win! Or if they don’t, then it just means that much more money is up for the taking next week!

I really can’t understand why I’m broke.

Keywords

In an effort to attract more readers, my publicist would like me to include more keywords in my blog. For those of you who don’t speak marketese, keywords are the words you type into a search engine like Google, when you’re looking for an article on, oh, I don’t know…Justin Bieber. My publicist thinks if I include more keywords about trending topics then my blog might pop up on more people’s browsers.

Say you’re wondering what the number one selling song in America is today (Gangnam Style), then simply type that into the search engine, and voila! You’ll have your answer. Or maybe you’re more interested in Honey Boo Boo or you can’t believe the fiasco with the NFL Referees. All you have to do is type it in and there it is.

There’s lots of information out there about such interesting topics as Google’s 14th BirthdayNaked Kate Middleton PicturesApple’s iPhone 5 MapsFacebook, YouTube Viral Videos, Emma Watson, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2Miley Cyrus’s New HaircutTaylor Swift and Conor Kennedy, Dancing with the Stars, Cute Kittens, the New Hobbit Trailer, Obama vs Romney, and if Ryan Gosling is going to star in the movie version of 50 Shades of Grey.    

With a little bit of luck, maybe one day my new book, The Door in the Sky, will become the best young adult fantasy and my name, Sandy Klein Bernstein will be right up there on the list of best-selling authors like JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Cassandra Clare. 

Chocolate Gin Cakes

I was invited to this party and was supposed to bring dessert. I didn’t have time to bake, so I stopped at a Whole Foods on the way over. They had a freezer full of cakes and I thought, “Perfect!” But it was hard to tell what flavors they were because all the labels were on the bottoms of the packages. So I grabbed the first one, held it above my head, and attempted to read the tiny print that appeared to have been written with the point of a needle dipped in ink. I squinted and squinted and could just make out the words Chocolate Gin Cake. What? Why would anyone put gin into a dessert?! So I picked up the next box, held it above my head and saw Vanilla Gin Cake. Seriously? Box after box was a gin cake — every flavor of gin cake under the sun!

So I marched over to the bakery and asked the guy behind the counter, “Excuse me, but do you have any cakes that aren’t made with gin?”

The guy looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Um, ma’am, none of our cakes are made with gin.”

I put my hands on my hips and said, “Well, every single one of those packages says ‘gin cake’!”

He gave me a weary look, put his tray of cannoli down, and followed me to the freezer case. He lifted the first box out and a smirk came over his 21-year-old face. “Ma’am? This says six-inch cake. Chocolate six-inch cake.”

So I grabbed the box, squinted very, VERY hard, and the letters began to form the words Chocolate 6in Cake.

Mortified, I meekly asked, “So, do you have any brownies?”

To which he replied, “Yeah, they’re over there by the vodka pies.”

And that, my friends, is how I discovered I needed reading glasses.

Spell Check

I did something foolish the other day. In a fruitless attempt at being more productive, I tried doing two things at once. I can barely task, let alone multi-task, so that was my first mistake.

It began innocently enough. I was on the phone with my aunt and decided to sneak in a little email time. What’s the harm, I thought. She can’t see what I’m doing. So I clicked on the first email. It was from my daughter asking if I had a nice nap. She knew I hadn’t slept the night before and that I was going to try to close my eyes that afternoon.

“Uh-huh,” I mumbled to my aunt as I hit reply and typed, “No nap because of That F***ing Dog!” Now, what you have to know here is that the dog next door is the sweetest animal in the world, but has a bad habit of barking underneath my window well into the wee hours of the morning. Ergo, its nickname, “That F***ing Dog”.

Next, I clicked on my new publicist’s email. My eyes grew wide as I read the message. “Uh-huh,” I said into the phone as I re-read the email, scarcely believing what I had done.

Apparently, I hadn’t replied to my daughter, but instead had sent my profanity-laced diatribe against a small canine to the woman who had just agreed to market my book. Not the best way to begin a professional relationship.

But this techno mishap can’t compare to the one I pulled a few years before. My daughter’s best friend is named Leigh. Her mom is a friend of mine as well. One day, Leigh’s mom called and asked if I could have Allie call Leigh because their dog, Caileigh, had been diagnosed with cancer and the vet said she only had a couple of days left to live. The girls were both in college at the time, and Leigh had raced home to say goodbye to her beloved pet.

It was early in the morning and I didn’t want to call Allie and wake her, so I sent an email instead. I went out with a friend, and a couple of hours later my phone rang. It was my daughter, crying hysterically. I could barely understand what she was saying and had to keep asking her to calm down. I deciphered bits and pieces and the conversation went something like this:

Allie: I’m (sob) coming home (sob) to see (wracking sob) Leigh!

Me: Really? That’s so nice of you, but honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary.

Allie: WHAT?!? But she’s (sob and a wail) my best friennnnnnnnnddddddd!!!!

Me: I understand, sweetie, and that’s so supportive of you, but I really think a phone call would suffice.

Well, you may have guessed by now that I had accidentally written that Leigh had cancer and only had two days to live, instead of typing Caileigh.

Is it any wonder that I am forbidden from programming the family DVR?

50 Shades of Grout

I’m being beaten up by my own shower. A few weeks ago, a plumber came out and fixed a leaky upstairs toilet. As he was leaving, he said, “I made a few upgrades in your bathroom.” I asked him what upgrades, and he smiled slyly and replied, “You’ll see.”

So the moment he left, I ran up the stairs to my bathroom. I looked inside the shower stall…under the sink…behind the toilet…nothing! I seriously could not figure out what the guy had done.

The next morning, I got into the shower and WHAM! I was slammed into the porcelain tile by the sheer force of the water exploding out of my shower head. Think Niagra Falls on crack. I know that plumber thought he was doing me a favor by increasing the water pressure in my shower, but it literally hurts to wash my hair.

Photo Credit: Adam Amel Rogers

I feel like I’m in a deleted scene from 50 Shades of Grey every time I step into that stall. I think I might even have welts on my back.

I was about to call the plumber to ask him to put it back to the non-threatening trickle it once was, when my teenage son made me put the phone down. He said he LOVED the shower the way it was. Should I be worried? I wondered. Then he announced he was off to play a little D&D. My eyebrows shot up as I choked, “Pardon me?” And he repeated, “D&D! Remember, I’m the Dungeon Master?”

That’s when I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I realized he was referring to the game of Dungeons and Dragons, where he was the Big Kahuna, the Top Dog, the reigning King of Nerds, aka — the Dungeon Master.

God bless the geeks.

 

I Have To Write a What?

I thought I was done. I mean, I wrote my book, I edited it, I published it. Done, right? Wrong!  Because in addition to my book, I also have a publicist. And you know what you get when you put the two together? Baby books that market themselves? No! You get a website. And a blog. And a Twitter account. And a GoodReads account. And a LibraryThing account. And a Google+ account. And a Pinterest account. And a Starbucks gift card (she is a very nice publicist). And a Facebook profile. Even my book has its own facebook page (it’s in a committed relationship, in case you are wondering. And its favorite band is One Direction).

But back to my onslaught of social media. Apparently, it’s not enough to just have a blog. I’m expected to write in it. I seriously cannot fathom why anyone would have any interest in my day-to-day life, but I am just the tiniest bit afraid of my publicist (she may be petite, but she’s also kind of scary).

So please read my blog. And “like” my book’s Facebook page (after seeing how many subscribers that Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Betty White’s new book has, it is experiencing a sudden bout of low self-esteem). At least poke it.