The Postcard Project

The Postcard Project

Okay everyone. I’m starting a new project, the Postcard Project to be exact. You can read all about it if click on the image, or check out the tab above.

Here’s the basics. I love postcards, everything about it. There isn’t enough postcard sending happening in today’s world, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a bit of a lost art. My Uncle Danny, he sends wonderful postcards. I’m so jealous of his succinct wit.

I need to practice my succinct wit. Please, won’t you let me send you a postcard? And then send me a picture of you with your postcard? I promise it will be completely painless.

Don’t you have any male friends?

The “change oil” light had been on in my car for about a week, but my car ensured me I still had 15% left and I trust my car to not lie to me. And so I continued to drive to and from set all over Los Angeles and beyond, just for the week. I was going to change the oil this weekend. I told myself over and over again, “You live right next to the Jiffy Lube. It will be so easy.” I should know better than to think I will get anything done on the weekend.

Saturday came, no thank you Jiffy Lube. Then Sunday, it sounded even worse. All I wanted to do was watch Poltergeist and Carrie and maybe even Beetle Juice.

Monday, yet again. I get in my car, ready to drive to job #1 for the day. There it was, that oil light, but next to it was no longer a 15, it was a 5. How could I jump from a 15 to a 5! There’s all sorts of numbers in between! 9,8,7, even 12! And now I have to go to work! Am I going to die?

Yes, I was definitely going to die.

But wait, there’s not one but two auto-shops next to job #1. Surely someone can help me.

Auto-shop #1, “Go across the street.”

Auto-shop #2, “Well, yes, we can.” Oh thank goodness. “We can on Friday.”

I’m sorry? Friday? Oh no, I’ll definitely die by Friday. Spontaneous combustion, or, whatever happens to cars when the oil disappears.

My coworker told me how to check the oil and all those car type things. “If you pull the stick out, clean it off, dip it back in and there’s oil below that line thing-y, you shouldn’t drive it, but if there’s a decent amount of oil, you’ll be okay.” Easy enough. I can pull out stick thingys.

But I had to go to job #2, was there time for all this fuss? Well there was time for Starbucks. There’s always time for Starbucks. So in the Starbucks parking lot I popped the hood of my car. Stick thingy…

I have absolutely no idea what a stick thingy looks like. Where could it be? These are all knobs. Nothing is stick related. I should just go get Starbucks.

With my chai latte in hand and gray skies overhead, I headed to job #2. But that 5% was so terrifying. It was like an orange doomsday staring at me. This was really it. I was given a few months to prove I could be a real-life adult, but I was now a failure. I can’t even bring myself to the Jiffy Lube, let alone find the stick thingy.

So I had to do it. I had to call my Dad. There was nothing else to be done.

Dad was not happy.

“Hilary, what were you thinking?”

I was working! (liar)

“You’re going to wreck your car”

I don’t know what to do! 

“Jesus Hilary take your car in!”

BUT WHERE? WHO? HOW? Its 6PM! 

“Just go to a station! Jesus Hilary, you have to be responsible now.”

Tears filled my eyes. Responsible? I thought I was doing so well! But now he’s yelling! And here’s the worst.

“Don’t you have any male friends to help you?”

…no. 

“No Dad. I don’t have any male friends.”

“Well you better figure it out.”

I pulled into set in a flurry. I couldn’t believe I made it there alive. I grabbed Jimmy, I grabbed Rich, I grabbed all the male people working on this movie. You have to help me! There’s something wrong with my car, I have no idea what to do. My panic, became there panic. Jimmy followed me to my car, then Rich.

“Something with the oil! I don’t know, I don’t know how cars work! But my dad, he was yelling!”

Jimmy’s face went from panic to calm. “I thought your engine would be on fire. I have oil in my trunk.”

Rich popped the hood. And guess what, he couldn’t find the stick thingy either. “Normally they’re yellow…yours is orange.” Sure Rich…sure. “Why did you think something was wrong?” “It said 5%!” “That’s just a suggestion.”

But it was so bright! And orange! And angry! And numbers, they were dropping like the end of days!

“Tell your Dad you’re fine.”

“Dad, cars fine.” Car is fine. I’m not fine. I’m a complete idiot! And I have no male friends! How do you acquire these? I haven’t a clue. On set, I’m pretty good at making people laugh, and then I say things like, “Oh you know me, I don’t have any friends.” And then people keep laughing, but I’m serious. And then I say things like, “Can we be friends?” and they laugh more. “Oh Hilary, you’re so funny.”

It’s not funny. I would honestly like to be friends with you. I can be funny on the weekends too. If you think I’m funny here, wait ’til you see me in a park, on a sidewalk, in a bar even! I’m hilarious!

The film wrapped and we had a wrap party. The perfect opportunity for people to see that I can be funny in other places. It was like an audition. Get dressed up, have a few drinks, say funny things, and they won’t be able to get enough of you. Alcohol always seals the deal, right?

Everyone had a few drinks. It’s amazing to see co-workers drunk. I wish I could have filmed the entire thing. Except for that part when my boss said, “We need to find you a boyfriend” and I continued to make jokes about how I have no friends and have been single for 4 years and everyone laughed, including myself, and then another person in the group said, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?”

I’m sorry? Did you say, why?

Wow. I’ve never really thought about it that way. No wait, yes I have, all the fucking time. I have absolutely no idea why I don’t have a boyfriend, but thank you for asking.

I responded, “I’m too weird.” But the music was loud, so no one heard. “What?” “I SAID I’M TOO WEIRD.” And then I did jig, because if you’re going to be the weird single girl, you really have to commit to it.

Oh I forgot to tell you, I did make it to the Jiffy Lube. It was a beautiful gray morning and they had my car made up in about 25 minutes. Imagine that. Like magic.

And finally this, I recapped all of this to my mother, as I do with everything. Her response, “Is your boss going to find your a boyfriend?”

Are you tired?

You look tired. “No I just don’t have any make up on.”

Never tell a woman she looks tired, because not only is she always tired, 9 out of 10 times she probably doesn’t have all of her make-up on. This is what she normally looks like and now you’re making her feel bad about it.

Men never have to look tired. They never have to explain why they look tired. They never have to answer the question, “Are you tired? You look tired.” Unless of course they are actually tired, in which case no one questions them.

I recently had a stye in my eye (more fun to say than to experience). I woke up that morning and there was this dull pain whenever I blinked. It wasn’t enough pain to call in sick to work, but it was unquestionably annoying. What was going on? My eye was swollen, yes, but was my eye red? No. Mom asked me to send her a picture. I did, but you couldn’t tell in the picture that it was swollen! Oh, frustration. I swear it’s swollen even if you can’t tell, Mom.

I called Boss #1, “Do you know any eye doctors?” “Only on the East Side, and you probably couldn’t get in today. Go to the hospital.” I was raised by doctors so I know better than that. I refuse to wait around in ERs when I can go to a specialist. I called Boss #2, “Do you know any eye doctors?” She did. She gave me a number, but they didn’t have any openings! How terrible! They’re going to refer me to a doctor in Burbank. Great, wonderful, thank you. Now I’m on the phone with Burbank. Appointment at 1:30.

But it’s 11 now. I’m supposed to be at work. Do I have to go? I can’t put on any make-up, my eye is swollen! But it’s not a serious pain, so I should go to work.

“You look tired.” “I know, I don’t have any make up on and there is something wrong with my eye.” “Why did you come in? Go home.” I was trying to be responsible! I came in with an infected eye! And you told me I looked tired.

I waited for what felt like forever in the eye doctor’s office without the eye doctor. Was she ever coming in? If I was home my father would have had this taken care of immediately. Again, raised in a medical family means I have no patience. I want help and I want it now. Every time I’m near medical people I feel the need to tell them “My father is a doctor.” As if it’s going to force them to treat me better than every other patient.

Finally she arrived. “You look very tired.” You’re the doctor! You of all people should know I’m not tired! I just don’t have any make up on, because of this eye, that you need to fix right now. 

“You have a stye, they’re very common.” You want to know what causes styes? You won’t believe it. Make-up.

“When you don’t properly take off all of your make-up it can clog the ducts along the water line and then this pocket forms underneath your eye…”

First of all, I clean off my make-up every night. I promise.

Second, you’ve got to be kidding me. Make-up? Make-up is supposed to help you and now here I am with a stye and getting called “tired” left and right.

I was given strict instructions to wash my eye 2-3 times a day after applying a warm compress. What does this mean for the next week of my life? I cannot wear make-up.

You’ve got to be kidding me. 

I arrive at job #2 for the day. “You look so tired.” “I don’t have any make up on.” Can we all just continue working?

Job #3, I volunteer for a storytelling program (where I also tell stories), but that night I wasn’t picked to tell a story. The producer remarked, “It’s better you didn’t get picked, you look exhausted.”

I KNOW I LOOK TIRED I DON’T HAVE ANY MAKE UP ON THIS IS WHAT I NORMALLY LOOK LIKE.

The week continued this way. At each job someone would remark, “You look tired.” And I would explain, “stye..eye…no make-up.” One woman, after telling me I looked tired, admitted she knew all about the stye, “Oh…make-up, yes.” So then why did you say I looked tired? You should have known.

It’s Friday. Mom text me, “Can you wear make up yet?” No Mom, not yet. Because Mom understands. Make-up is about a grand  of a love affair as food. I don’t care how much I hate it, I need it. Mom needs it, I need it, women need it. And you can tell me that’s ridiculous, I don’t care (Unless you’re one of those girls who honestly looks good without make-up, you know who you are and you aren’t going to understand anything I say, ever). You’ll see a woman walking down the street and she won’t have make-up on and you’ll want to scream at her, “Just a little mascara! It would do you wonders!” Why do you think there’s an entire section to fan magazines dedicated to celebrities without make-up? To prove that everyone needs a little mascara, because how do they look in those pictures? They look tired. It’s the goddamn truth. I’ve sat here typing way at how horrible it is to think this, but it’s true. But let me make myself clear. I would never tell a woman she looks tired. I know better than that. I’d tell her to put on some make up. 

It was the weekend, which meant I could hide in my apartment for two days (as usual). No one could tell me I looked tired, I didn’t have to worry about applying (or not applying) make up. I was a free woman.

Monday. My eye was mostly healed, but I didn’t care. I was going to put on some fucking make-up and probably get another stye.

What to Do When You Live Alone: Mr. Cockroach, or, Randy and his Cousins

It’s a very odd thing, returning home from work when you live alone. No one is waiting for you. No one wants to talk about how bad traffic was or how you drank too much coffee again and will be up all night again. At least you think no one is there. But I’ll tell you who is there every time I come home. The cockroach. I kill him every night, but the next day, there he is again. 

There should be a handbook given to those recently living alone for the first time (similar to the recently deceased). Because this is what they don’t tell you (they being everyone, everyone in the world), when you live alone, no one is going to kill the bugs for you. I’m serious. No one cares. 

So when Mr. Cockroach flies out from under that pot you just pulled from the cupboard and you scream and look around for help, you won’t find it. But I still look for help every time, as if I’m in a David Lynch film and a man in a cowboy hat is going to appear in the corner of the kitchen. I wish. 

When it first started happening, like I said, I would scream and assume someone would come running (disappointment). Mr. Cockroach and I had our first stand off. There was nothing in reach for me to kill him with. There is never anything in reach when you want to kill a cockroach. At least not for me, because I can only kill a cockroach from a certain distance. In other words, I can’t get anywhere near the thing. So we stood there, staring at each other. He wasn’t going to move while I was there and I wasn’t going to move because, well, I just wasn’t. So we stared. But then he broke his promise. He ran under the stove. He was so fast, I couldn’t believe it. I was never going to catch him so I accepted we were going to be living together. I thought about names for him…Steve, Bob, Randy. 

Randy broke his promise again. I thought it was just going to be us. But Randy had friends. And Randy (or Randy’s friends, they’re very hard to tell apart) would show their faces within the first ten minutes of my arrival home in the evening. I was never prepared for a kill. Like I said, nothing was ever in reach. So we would stare at each other and they always broke their promise and ran away. 

I was never going to find the courage to kill. 

3 weeks ago during a stand-off I said to Randy, “I’m going to kill you.” He ran away immediately. 

The next night, there Randy was, behind the coffee pot. A genius idea came to me. The bleach spray, under the sink. It sprays, so the distance between you and the bug is still relatively far, and it had to kill him, bleach kills everything. It’s genius. 

I sprayed Randy. He fell to the counter, a dramatic victim. But then I turned my back and he was gone. How could it be? Isn’t he like a snail, ready to dissolve at one, two sprays of this cleaner? Wrong again. 

The next night Randy was in the dirty dishes (another living alone-ism). This time I grabbed the bleach and I drowned him. Probably went through about an 8th of the bottle, but Randy wasn’t going anywhere. I held a small, but quaint funeral by placing a paper towel over him and continuing to watch Twin Peaks. I felt so very accomplished. Living alone has it’s small, beautiful triumphs. 

But then the next night. No. It couldn’t be. One of Randy’s cousins is in the bathroom cabinet. In my make up brushes. I will never use those brushes again. I screamed and looked for help, as usual, then hit the wall near him to get him away from the brushes. He fell out of the cabinet and behind the faucet. A very tricky crevice. I didn’t have my bleach spray. Of course I didn’t. But then I spotted it, yes, the Shout! Detergent spray. A cousin to the bleach. I drowned Randy’s cousin in Shout!. And I swear on the baby Jesus he screamed. I know what I heard and it was even scarier than watching him run. I took a moment, collected my emotions, and continued spraying. I had to stand my ground. All I have is this studio! 

R.I.P. Randy’s cousin. 

When I told my mother about Randy (and his cousins) she asked if I was leaving food out. I said no, no food, Randy is mostly hiding in cupboards. My mother’s response, “typical.” She must know Randy very well. 

And after all that, you want to know what I found in my coffee cup the following morning? It rhymes with Shmandy’s Shmother Shmusin. 

What To Do When You Live Alone: An introduction

I recently moved into a studio apartment in Los Angeles, Silver Lake to be exact. I have never lived alone before.

From ages 1-8 I lived with my Mother, Father, two sisters, brother and dog. Then one sister left for college. The next two years it was mom, dad, sister, brother, dog, and new dog. Then my brother left. I should mention, I had terrible sleeping issues. This lead to me sleeping in my parents bed until I was 10 until my mom trained me to fall asleep to movies (I still do). Ages 10 to about 15 it was mom, dad, sister and two dogs. 15-18, people were in an out. Brother returned, one sister returned, one sister got closer, a girlfriend was added into the mix (brother’s not mine) then a nephew (not my brother’s).

And then I moved to college. I had one (smelly) roommate and travelled home on the weekends to my family, who was back down to Mom, Dog, two sisters, brother (no girlfriend), one dog, and one nephew. Sophomore year of college I lived with three other girls. Back home a husband was added to the group and not long off, another nephew. Then I moved to Italy for 6 months, with even more girls. And then I moved back to my college, the same house, only two of the same girls in it with me. Finally, Senior year I moved into a house with 5 other people, girls and boys.

So there you have it, I’ve always lived with people. I didn’t have my own room until I was about 10, then I had I had a large room to myself until college, where I was forced into an even smaller room for another person.

Now you know everything. Now I live alone and I love it. It’s terrible how much I love it. I’m messy, I’m lazy, I laugh loud, I stay up late, I always leave the TV on, I forget about bills, the bathroom door is always open, if something is broken I won’t fix it, if something drops I don’t have to pick it up and if I don’t want to do anything, no one can make me.

And since I love to talk about myself (clearly), I’m starting this here. I’ll tell you all about living alone and how ridiculously amazing it is, except for the times when it isn’t.

 

Image

The Crafty Epidemic

If you are not strong willed, I don’t suggest you work in the film industry.

But wait, let me tell you why.

It hasn’t nothing to do with the fact that “You aren’t going to make it.” (I was recently asked at what point I would “give up”). It has nothing to do with your creative endeavor or your dedication, your talent, your energy, your persistence, your willing to work for hours upon hours for no pay. It has nothing to do with your facial features or what you wear. It has nothing to do with whether or not your teeth are straight or your height short. It has everything to do with craft services, otherwise known as crafty.

Crafty is a wonderful, absolute treasure. There are drinks, there are almonds, there might even be almond drinks. Trail Mix. There’s always trail mix. And all different types of granola bars. There’s water, there’s Diet Coke (most of the film industry thrives on Diet Coke). There’s carrots and hummus, but also peanut M&Ms. There’s some celery, but there’s also 8 bags of Sun Chips, every flavor. There’s coffee and Emergen-C. There’s gum and tums (you will need because of all listed prior).

And here’s the thing about crafty, it’s always being refilled. So it doesn’t matter if you get to the bottom of the peanut M&M jar and think, “phew, now at least they can’t taunt me.” You’ll get called to set to move a chair and when you return, the peanut M&M jar will be filled to the brim. How could it be? More importantly, how can I not devour them?

I’m here to tell (warn) you, there is no fighting it. I have declared it impossible. If you already have trouble avoiding the dessert isle of Safeway, the crafty table will follow your conscience around like a lonely puppy who cannot get enough attention. So if these things worry you, absolutely, positively, do not step foot on a film set. Find another career immediately.

Unless you have no other skills, in which case, you simply have to accept who you are and get on with it. You like snacks. The only way you can defeat the crafty table is if you A) are a health freak B) are anorexic C) I don’t know, because I don’t understand you (and I don’t understand actors, so, there you go).

The last set I worked on the sound guy brought all of his own healthy treats to set every day. Tupperware filled with homemade hummus and plentiful vegetables. He doesn’t have to worry about the crafty table here, or anywhere. I on the other-hand, can hardly keep a popsicle in my fridge. A sugar-free one, even.

Every morning as I get ready to go to set, I think, “Not today.” For today I will avoid the crafty table, today I won’t eat a handful of peanut M&Ms every time I pass. Today, I will take control of my life and as Adam from Girls so remarkably stated, “Will eat for fuel.”

But then it’s 11:13AM and I’m bored and there the peanut M&Ms are and I mean it wouldn’t be such a big deal if I had a few. Then I’ll have gum and I won’t be hungry. But now I’m bored of the gum. I could really go for some chips. Perhaps a Diet Coke. No calories anyway, so basically I come out even.

Oh lunch is here? I’m starving.

Image

Can You Reschedule?

Can you? I can’t. I have an important thing. Oh you have an important thing too? You’re right, that does sound important. Hmm.

Are anyone’s things not important? I’m starting to think not. I don’t know what anyone did without Google Calendar. They probably never rescheduled.

I am constantly asking people to reschedule. This is what happens when you have 3(ish) jobs. I can never plan anything perfectly. And then I’m calling, I’m constantly calling, “is it okay if you and I switch, then I come Friday, you do Thursday, we can split Monday, oh and next week I can cover for you (no I can’t).”

And then the bosses, the bosses don’t like this. “Are you coming?” “No I told you, I had to reschedule. The other girl at work has an important thing. She can’t be here.” “This is an important thing.” “Shoot. You’re right….let me see if I can reschedule.”

Forget trying to make social plans. “Are you free Sunday for a movie?” “No what about Tuesday?” “Tuesdays are terrible for me. What about Thursday afternoon?” “Definitely not.” “Friday” “I have a thing. It’s important.” “Are you sure?” “Yes. All my things are important.” See? I told you. It’s always important, otherwise, you wouldn’t be doing it.

I’m Not Gay.

Hi, I’m Hilary. And I’m not gay. I realized in college, the place where women go to realize things, that I love to dress like a lesbian. I love it all. I love some nice pants, I love me a good graphic tee, and if you cut off the sleeves, good lord I am drooling. I always think a jean or leather jacket is the best options, it compliments every outfit. And I love pins. Pins need to make a comeback because flare makes it so much easier to display your interests to people in a social setting. You’re at the bar and maybe want to talk to this very adorable guy or girl sitting just over there, and you’ve almost got the confidence when you realize…oh wait, oh no, is that…a NICKELBACK PIN?! Game over. No energy wasted, because I do hate to waste energy.

I do carefully select my buttons, pins, what-have-you, per my event, my daily schedule. Which pin is appropriate for that setting, what I want to say about myself, today. Sometimes I like a little quippy joke, sometimes I like a good pop culture reference. Or since I apparently need to confirm with everyone’s gay-dar, I’ve got my bulldog pin that says “Bitches Love me” on quite often. Just trying to stay in character…I even had a web series called Lesbians on a Couch, so I guess that didn’t quite help either.

What also doesn’t help is that one of my best friends also loves jean jackets, loves them to death. So when we hang out in public in our matching loose tee-jean jacket combo, we are the cutest fucking lesion couple in town. We are so adorable and so single. Neither of us will give up on this outfit statement that we’re making because we like to be like, “I’ll wear whatever I fucking want, fuck you world.” And why should we? So what if I love jean jackets. And big sweaters. And sneakers.

Still, I sit around complaining that I’ve been single, for, ever, and whenever I go to home town I say to my parents, “I don’t know why I’m single, I really don’t.” But I know. I definitely know.

But really, I love lesbians, I really do, and I don’t know if this whole piece is completely offensive, but I’m just going to keep going because it’s too late. I really do love lesbians and you know what, I applaud them for their stamina. And I’ll tell you why. One of my good friends and I were talking the other day on G-chat, because that’s what everyone does at work (G-chat, google chat for you losers out there, is the new cool business casual AIM if you will), so she  and I are g-chatting (yes it’s a verb now, and is it me or is it so oddly sexual? It’s like g-chat – g-spot, I don’t know, I’ll find a joke there), so we’re g-chatting the other day and she is a lesbian, and she’s complaining to me, she’s like “Hilary I’m so sore my whole body hurts, wah wah wah” and I’m trying to be a good friend although I really hate putting in the effort so I respond, “Why are you in pain, my good friend?” And then she tells me she had sex for SIX HOURS A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO! SIX HOURS. Did you hear this? I swear I’m having PTSD just from being told that someone had sex for six hours. I honestly think my vagina would just fall right out of me if I had sex for that long. Six hours. Because for me, when sex starts so does my mental countdown clock, waiting for it be over. You can imagine how I am in bed, and if you we’re you are now and its going to haunt you for the rest of your life, nightmares for centuries. Like I said, I hate putting in effort. I would never get an A for effort in sex class if that existed. Although I would get a C for showing up and writing my name down. Maybe a D, since I’ve had enough bad sex to write a book.  The only way I can feel okay about it after is thinking, “Well at least I showed up, I played the game, I might have lost as an individual but the team did great.” It’s like I’m part of mathletes or something, you know, everyone is just so much better than math than me, and they all just look at me and smile, “We still love you Hilary, even if you brought us down ten points today.”

But really, that is how I do know that I’m not gay because I have thought about it. I’ve sat down with myself in the kitchen with a little brunch snack, a snack between breakfast and lunch, because that’s what you do when you think about your sexuality. You sit down with yourself in the kitchen with your brunch snack. So I sat there and I asked myself, in my mother’s voice of course, “Hilary, your dad and I were talking last night, and, well, are you gay?” So I think to myself, take a bite of my snack, and I respond. “Well mom, that’s a great question, because I do mainly own those cut off tees…and I have been asking for a BUTTON MAKER FOR THE LAST THREE CHRISTMASES AND YOU STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN ME ONE….but really, thank you for asking because it is a valid questions, but the answer is…no, because I’m too fucking lazy. I would NEVER have sex for 6 hours! And I wish that upon no straight woman in any of the heterosexual land that still exists in this godforsaken world!

I’m acting like this is a real issue for straight women out there, like it’s so frightening to me, but it is such a non issue. As if there’s forums online, women gathering in public parks, all to discuss how their partners are begging them to have sex for long long hours and the girls are like, “no, i’m sorry no, we won’t do it…I can’t keep it up that long, I just can’t. Lesbians can keep their dicks hard but I can’t do it, I’m not good enough.”

Letters from Laurie

I had a friend in college (we’re still friends but, you know) whose mother was once a kindergarten teacher. She had retired some time ago, but never lost the desire and skill for arts and crafts. This meant around every major holiday, she would send not only her daughter, but her daughter’s friends, crafts, treats, decorations and the like, to go along with said holiday. It was wonderful. I learned how to make “Witch’s Hats” (Oreos, orange icing, Hershey’s Kisses), I still got chocolate for Valentine’s day (not that I’d ever received it before), and on Halloween, well, more chocolate. We all loved her for it. I got packages  quite often from my mother, but they took a different direction. 

My first year of college I began to receive the letters my sister already knew about, since she had gone through college years before. Letters from Laurie. Letters from Laurie we’re long, written on multiple types of paper, perhaps even at different times of the day. Who knows. I would go to the miniature post office on campus a couple times a week and sure enough, there was almost always something from Laurie. Sometimes they didn’t make sense, it was as if she didn’t stop to think at all as to what she was trying to say. Sometimes they were beautiful and tearjerking. Like the one Snoopy card I received. Well I was always receiving Snoopy cards, but this one was different. In this card, my mother went on and on about how much her father would have been proud of me, and how she saw pieces of him in me. He passed when I was in 4th grade. I remember him, but I don’t remember him. It was a lovely card to receive. Other days I might get a card that simply said, “We love you!” and that’s it. Nothing else, just a reminder. 

When I moved into my first apartment, I still got the letters, but packages became more of the norm. They weren’t treats or crafts. They were items my mother found and thought, “Oh I should send that to Hilary.” I could never predict what might be inside. No one could. My roommates were growing used to packages from Laurie. It was guaranteed to be a laugh. On Halloween it was an old table cloth and a framed photo of me from 3rd grade. The frame was black with a ghost saying “Boo!” and the picture, well it was a school photo, so you know enough already. What was I to do with this? Put it up in my house?  I called Laurie. “Why did you send this?” She laughed. “I don’t know, I don’t know what I do, I just do it.” 

Occasionally a new bra would come in the mail. Sometimes it was the correct size, sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes cards came filled with twenty dollar bills. Sometimes I would open the card and an old picture would fall out. I began to collect them all, like puzzle pieces. But I don’t know how big this puzzle was. 

My junior year I moved to Florence, Italy to “Study Abroad,” as they say. It was an impromptu decision. As impromptu as the Italians would allow. My friend, whose mother was so great with crafts and snacks, was moving to Italy. One night we were sitting at her kitchen table, sharing a bottle of white wine when I said, “What if I came with you?” And so I did. And you know what, so did Laurie’s packages. 

The trek to the post office in Florence was further than I was used to. I’m an incredibly lazy person, but the day I arrived in my Italian apartment something hit me. It sunk low into my stomach, I was very far from my mother. She knew it too, which is why, despite the lofty international prices, Laurie sent me packages weekly. Instead of one picture falling out of the card there were fifty. Old pictures and new pictures, pictures of my sister’s wedding, pictures of me in Disneyland for my 10th birthday, pictures of my nephew, pictures of my dog. I had stacks and stacks of pictures in my dresser drawer, and many covering the wall next to my bed. I loved it, even if it made me miss them more. Sometimes I would get to the post office and there would be multiple packages and letters all at once. I suppose they had been held up by the Italians, but that only made it more exciting. I had to restrain myself from opening them immediately (it’s more fun to open letters at home, just in case you start crying).  I finally started to send her letters. Postcards from my travels. Stories that made no sense, only fleeting thoughts. Someone once said to me, when I was 13, “You dance like your mother.” You have to be kidding me. What a terrible thing to say. That’s what I thought when I was 13. But now, I know I dance like my mother. There’s no denying it. 

Thanksgiving came around. I only had a few weeks left in Florence, but I wished so desperately it was over. My god it was Thanksgiving and my family was celebrating without me! I couldn’t bare it. Laurie sent me another Snoopy card. This one sang. And over each Peanuts character she labeled a different family member. The whole gang was there. Mom, Dad, Danny, Courtney, Emily, Johnny, Leah, Ginny, Dennis, and even Dixie. I could not wait to see my mother. That ridiculous woman who knew exactly what I wanted. When I walked off the Swiss Air plane and through the San Francisco airport and finally saw my mother standing at baggage claim, there were no words. I just cried. I don’t think I could have made it through without her letters. 

I was back in California, in my normal life, and as you might suspect, nothing changed with Laurie. Except perhaps, the packages were getting more ridiculous. The summer before I made a short film and I hated it. I hated it more than anything in the world. People had given me money to make this movie and it was a complete failure. I’ve never shown it to anyone and I never will. That Spring Laurie sent me the entire Sonoma Index Tribune. The featured article, a boy from my class who also made films. He was being honored at our local film festival. Very funny Laurie. I told everyone. “Can you believe my mom sent this to me?” They could, and i could, but now I loved to tell people about the packages from my mother. I finally realized what a gem she was. No one’s mother was like this. My roommates would say, “I love your Mother.” As they should. She gave us something to look forward to. 

Senior year I moved into a much bigger house, but we packed it full of people. Six of us lived there. Two boys who could not understand how I could have “so many things.” It wasn’t my fault. My mother was always sending me things. “Do you have any of those electric candles? I’ll send them to you.” “You left your hat here, I’ll send it to you.” “There’s a great article about that show you like in the Chronicle, I’ll send it to you.” I kept everything. I didn’t want to forget. 

One of my roommates was very jealous. “You get so much stuff in the mail.” I smiled. “I know.” 

Not only was I getting odd snippets of my life sent to me, I was getting stories to write about. I had decided to be a writer and Laurie was the best subject.

More bras, a t-shirt, a bag of Reese’s, and then an article about Charles Schulz. And then the Sonoma Magazine, and then the film reviews from the Chronicle, and then my mother’s bathing suit-“LA Suit!”- (she was more excited for me to move to LA than I was), and then a Christmas candle, and letters, and letters, and letters, and letters, now signed “Love, Mimi.” She had fully adjusted into being a grandmother, since it was her full time job.

And then a silly thing happened, my dog started sending me letters. She had already been giving out the most Christmas presents to the family, but now apparently, she had acquired great penmanship. One of life’s many mysteries. 

And an even sillier thing. Laurie got an iPhone. Laurie learned how to text. That is a whole other story, that I cannot wait to tell you.

I graduated college and Laurie gave me a set of miniature postcards. They are absolutely adorable, but I haven’t confirmed yet whether or not the USPS will accept them. 

I made the move to Los Angeles, and as you can guess, so did Laurie’s packages. My first week was unforgettable. A package arrived. I pulled out many newspaper clippings, a health insurance card and Graduation cards from friends and family. I looked over the clippings. I couldn’t believe it. She thought she was so funny…Laurie had found all of my ex-boyfriend’s newspaper clippings (I apparently had saved some time ago) and she sent each and every one to me. His football stats, his baseball Player-of-the-Week interview, his graduation announcement. Everything. It was hilarious, but it was evil. I called her, “Why did you send that to me?” “Send what?” I thought was she being coy, since she was giggling. “You sent me all of Stephen’s newspaper clippings.” “I DID?”  

I told you, she doesn’t think about it. She didn’t know who was in those newspaper clippings she just saw them and thought, “I should send that to Hilary.” 

When I still lived at home, Laurie said to me, “Its always nice to get something in the mail.” Now, at 22, living alone in Los Angeles, I couldn’t agree more. When it’s 10 o’clock at night and I’m getting home from a long day of work and I open my tiny mail box to find a small package from Laurie somehow squished in there, it is the greatest gift I could possibly receive. I don’t care what’s in it. Whatever it is, it’ll make me laugh, and then I’ll talk to my friends about it, and it’ll make them laugh and they’ll say, “Your mother is so funny” and I’ll say, “I know.” 

The absolute latest. A box arrived. The mailman said, “It’s Christmas time Hilary!” It’s not Christmas time. He doesn’t know my mother. I opened the box. An old (Christmas) blanket covered in short black dog hair and an old (Christmas) dress from high school. Size 2. Needless to say, I do not fit in a size 2 dress anymore. I called her. “Why did you send this to me?” “I don’t know. Sell it.” 

I’ve been sleeping with the blanket every night since. 

 

I just got a text from Laurie. “I sent you a package.” Stay tuned.Image