The Only Lesson

Kids, this blog isn’t and shouldn’t be about life lessons or rants. Though I’m guilty of writing both (lately all the time but it’ll get better.)

It’s about awkward. Funny, ridiculous awkward.

And I’m sure that’s what we all could use right now.

Yeah, you wish. I’d have to go outside to do something cringe-worthy to come up with something awkward. Doing something embarrassing in private isn’t embarrassing and awkward is, you know, life.

Because if you were able to see how I’m sitting right now, that would be embarrassing. (If you think I’m taking a pic of it, that would be stupid.)

Not going to happen.

Being distanced and quite enjoying it until the dreams and tics started, I’ve been granted the opportunity to revisit every single thought I’ve ever had ever, over and over again. Yay me!

I’ll spare you the minute details because there isn’t room on even the massively creepy unknown amount of hidden Google servers to hold the OCD thought-roller coasters I’ve been enjoying.

And enjoy them I have.

It’s like getting 3 free months of e-tickets to Disneyland but the only ride open is that rickety no-name roller coaster they built before liability suits were a thing. With the requirement that you ride it continuously until you throw up.

I did glean one thing from all the Wheeeee! I’ve been celebrating that I think is useful. It’s a lesson and a warning. One that is counter to how people my age (as in you’re old enough to get the e-ticket reference) have been raised with but couldn’t be more important than now. Because it’s never too late to unlearn stupid.

It’s this…

Wake up. This is important.

Be aware of bad people.

Yeah, I know. It’s hardly the most earth-shattering realization in the world.

I’ll make the concession that it’s also not my original idea. Props to the guy that came up with it.

We, as in most of us, have been raised in the false, erroneous, naive, set-up-to-fail ideal that we should give people the “benefit of the doubt”.

Don’t.

Don’t ever do that again.

Monsters are real. They don’t have bad days, they cause bad days. Don’t forgive that insulting rant just because “work has been crazy.” Don’t look back if someone uses your life or body as fodder for their internal ugliness.

They are bad people. They deserve to be as far away from you as possible. Don’t make excuses, just bail.

The first time.

Now, back to the awkward fun.

-NTZ

Truly

I say “truly” because I’m finding out that just not having actual face-to-face, virtual, or cellular interaction doesn’t mean I’m truly over it like I want to be. I need to be over it. I have to get over it.

I feel, and it’s only my opinion, that being truly “over it” is akin to the experience of going to Alcoholics Anonymous. You can go to AA because you’re told you’re not supposed to drink alcohol or are mandated by the court to do so. You white-knuckle it day-by-day, chanting the mantra, only to repeatedly fail and stuck in a torturous loop. Or you can go to AA because you truly, deeply in your heart, believe you have a problem with the way you think about alcohol, want to change that, and find only then do you make the change into who you’re meant to be. Lesson by hard-won lesson, one day at a time.

The important lessons are always hard-won.

I tried pure cocaine once. Decades ago. It’s not a euphemism. It was 100% pure cocaine. It was pure; pearly and flaky and amazing. It was euphoric. It was power and happiness and heaven. And the next morning, I wanted to die from the headache and shame. The cure for the shame and wanting what was bad for me was in already knowing it wasn’t good for me. Already knowing that dipping my toe didn’t mean I could swim. It didn’t lie; it’s just true.

Had I not known, though. Had it lied about its intentions, lied about its aftermath, I would’ve been hooked. I would’ve been conned into needing what it gave me so teasingly. If thought I could have that dreamy euphoria once again, even as it vanished without a word, only to return with more tasty promises—always just when I had curbed my addiction—to suddenly, cruelly, and without explanation deny me access again…would I do anything to entice it back? Would I have hung around despite it screaming at me what a piece of shit I was so humiliatingly only hoping for it to throw a little of that paradise back my way like it used to? When we were new? Were lovers? Friends? Before it convinced me I wasn’t worthy of even mere crumbs? Would I subject myself to torture to bring back that euphoria like it promised? Of course I would.

I’m glad I didn’t have the option. It was fun once and that’s where it belongs. Once.

But drugs and alcohol are easy to vilify because they’re recognized as something not to do. For good reason. They destroy people, lives, potential, energy. They’re vampires. And, there isn’t anyone telling us we’re wrong about them being dangerous. Drugs and alcohol don’t lie. People do.

Because of that reality, I’m struggling with why I should bother. That tiny bit of euphoria offered to me, despite the horrific psychological, physical, emotional abuse that comprised the interim, has been more desperately comfortable to cling to than having to admit to all of it being over. To not have that comfort to withdraw to, as fleeting and as false as it was, is frightening. Even worse is having to admit to being fooled entirely; a euphoria manufactured from Day One. It’s humiliating, crushing, defeating. Releasing that tiny last memory is the last comfort left until total emptiness. I fear the worst but have nothing left to cling to.

And it is worse. The emptiness breaks my heart in what little of my damaged life I have left.

Now it’s just dark.

So dark that it seems like I’m reeling towards a brick wall at midnight at 100 miles per hour with no time left to wonder what’s stopping me from running headlong into it. I can’t seem to see past the brick wall, what little shadow I can see of it. All I see is end and blackness and stop. Not death, just apathy. Just nothing.

Yet, I somehow know it’ll get better.

Because it has to.

Because there is no going anywhere but up from….

–No! Don’t say it! Stop this now.–

That statement is dangerously untrue! It’s only a semantically tricky way to invoke danger. I know better than to ever say the words, “things can’t get worse”. Because they will. I’ve lived it before. When those words are uttered, the gods go out of their way to prove us wrong. Like some medieval-themed game played with a 12-sided die, saying it makes it true, no matter what kind of cloaking word devices I use. I know better than to tempt them that way.

So I take it back! I take it all back.

Clinging to comfort isn’t living. Clinging to life isn’t living. I won’t do it anymore. The new die is cast.

So instead of tempting the gods into perpetuating a violent felon’s idea of what I deserve, I’ll say instead…I’m aiming towards the black, brick wall. And running head-first.

Propelled and limping as I near it, pinwheeling weak baby giraffe-like legs harder and faster, gaining speed and strength as the force of my own acceleration peels back my cheeks into some kind of a smile. A one-two leap and I’ll launch over it, shoot skyward, bounce off intermediate hills and haughty mountains. Somersaulting then regaining my direction in tighter trajectories.

I’ll dodge swoopy bald eagles until the goofy one I can’t avoid connects, startled as myself. We’ll explode into a hilarious mass of feathers and laughter.

Landing hard on our backs, we’ll high-five while panting in catching our breaths.

Wondering at our luck in our escape, pride in each other’s soaring, we see that wherever it is we land, it’s surprisingly sunny there.

Truly.

There was this time…(pt. 9)

Loggins and Messina, 1974

This story is a little…circuitous. But seeing as my rapidly increasing fan base has reached almost 9, I’m feeling a bit cocky.

One of the jobs I had while living in Santa Barbara was working as personal assistant to Kenny Loggins and his family, thanks to my friend, Melinda. In fact, if you’re an ardent reader of this fabulous blog, you’ll know as the friend who also got into the wrong green Saab after a long lunch one day.

That green Saab was formerly Kenny Loggins’ from back in the Footloose days. He eventually sold it to his business manager, who was, you guessed it, Melinda.

As things got tough for Kenny’s life at the time, during my tenure with him they got tough for me. I quit in a huff, quite unprofessionally, but it is what is what I did was it. Or whatever the kids say.

Fast forward 6 months and I’m happily entrenched in my new job with the greatest family ever, the Beaches, and working as office manager for Patrick Beach’s business, La Playa Properties. We were housed in a stunningly beautiful building owned by the one and only, Chris Edgecomb. (There are stories to come about that guy, may he rest in peace.)

Chris was a huge fan of music. That meant when Chris got wind that Kenny Loggins was to reunite with Jimmy Messina for a tour for the first time in 30 years, Chris jumped at the opportunity to host their rehearsals.

Which meant immediately next door to my new work home.

This was fine with my boss, Pat Beach, because he also loved music and was usually traveling anyway.

I did not know any of this was happening.

One day, I look up from my desk to see Kenny and Melinda walking down our walk, take a sharp turn right, and disappear into the cavernous office next door.

I watch as semis pull up and 30 people carry guitar cases, black wheeled boxes, mic stands, scaffolding into the same door.

I’m confused but it’s a small town so it’s not that weird that I would see my former employers walk by. It’s a small, wealthy, celebrity-ridden town, so it’s not that weird that I’d see famous people walk by.

It’s a small town but big enough that I’d never seen the elusive Jimmy Messina, who I’d heard lived there and who was notoriously…self-contained in his private retirement, but was now trailing the parade down the walk of my office building.

I’m assuming they’d set up enough to start tinkering and playing music loud enough to make our teeth rattle came blasting through our artificial adobe. The Mexican tile vibrated. But we got used to it.

A couple days later, I see Kenny standing at the door to my office.

He nods hello at me and sits down on my guest chair…then immediately falls asleep.

My boss comes in about an hour later.

He looks right then left, then back at Kenny, and asks, “Is that Kenny Loggins and why is he sleeping in my chair?”

I had no answers. I let him sleep. Kenny awakens, stands up, says nothing to me and walks out. I expected nothing less.

As far as Melinda and I could figure was that seeing me, his former assistant at a desk where he was rehearsing, Kenny had assumed that I was paid to sit there for him. Doing what, I have no idea. It’s actually pretty logical but kind of hilarious when the opposite is true.

We eventually had to cut Loggins and Messina off from “using” our office for their whims when they used our back patio for a meeting they chased me out of for being “private.” It makes me wonder if Kenny thought his assistant was getting uppity.

All of it was funny for entertainment’s sake but that paled in comparison the phenomenal treat that it turned into.

For days, I got to listen to one of my favorite songs, one I actually didn’t even know was a Loggins and Messina song before, get tighter and stronger and better as one of the best musicians in the industry continued his mentorship of one of the most iconic. Every day the music got better. Each evening, I would hang out with the roadies, sharing stories and beers.

Santa Barbara Bowl, 2012 (The first and better concert I went to was 2006: same venue, though.)

All of the effort turned into one of the best concerts I’d ever seen.

And with all those roadies around…

Gross! this isn’t porn. I’m taking that to my grave.

There was this time…(pt. 8)

Yet to appear at Longs Drugs, John Cleese, Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

About 15-20 years ago, I was in my local Longs Drugs store in the fancy town of Montecito. It was Halloween or very close to it. It was a beautiful day but they always are.

I looked up to someone asking me a question. 

I mean I really looked up at this handsome, thin man looming down at me from a great height. I’m no slouch at 5’8” but I wasn’t close to matching his height. 

“Pardon me, do you know where the glittery nail polish is? It’s for my daughter’s Halloween costume,” he asked in a stately English accent. 

“Um, sure.” I mumbled back to him. Nervous now because I was face-to-mid-chest with John Cleese.

I have always had a huge celebrity crush on John Cleese. Living in Santa Barbara for the past 10 years at the time, I was used to celebrity sightings. But John Cleese, though, —sigh— was close to my heart after seeing Monty Python for the first time when I was 10. Having practically memorized every Monty Python movie since then, I felt like he and I were tight. 

(Thankfully I didn’t actually tell him that. I’ve done dumber things. Including literally body-slamming a certain super model in the Starbucks next door to my apartment on Coast Village Road. Keep reading this series. You’ll see.)

I showed the tall man where the glittery nail polish was and walked away, casual, unimpressed, and totally cool. Like a dork. I’m sure I kicked something on accident or knocked something over. It’s what I do.

Fast forward about 4 months and I’m at Longs again and here comes John Cleese heading straight towards me. His face lights up then politely asks me to help him locate something in the store. Whatever it was, it was casual and not-at-all-embarrassing, while I pretended to not be stalled in front of some sort of hygiene product. We located his item and he thanked me with effusive British gratitude and went on his way. 

Dismissing the idea I possessed some deep, cross-ocean connection with my hero, it occurred to me that he must’ve recognized me as the nice employee who helped him the last time.

I like to imagine that he looked around for me the next time he came to Longs, maybe even asked if the nice blonde girl was working that day. Longs employees confused but excitedly trying to find me, whispering gossip. Maybe even the encounter rising my status to Employee of the Year.

Of course, the plaque in my honor would have to be a photo of a question mark because I never once worked at Longs Drugs store.

Kind of Miss the Fondling

Okay, not really fondling. It’s the urge to fondle me that I’m missing.

I can’t hear. The last thing I heard clearly was Blink-182 vibrate my eardrums as I stood in front of their speakers after a day of stock car racing somewhere in Orange County 20 years ago. I don’t even know why I was there but I can still hear the saccharin, teeny-bopper, pseudo-punk music date-raping my soul. Of all the bands to disintegrate my ears, it had to be that one. Ugh. But I digress.

Missing the urge to fondle me doesn’t mean that I can’t hear the fondling. I can’t, but that’s not the point. I can’t hear at all when I can’t see their mouths.

Let me start over.

I’ve always known that I’ve had to read people’s lips to understand them. That’s not new, even the hearing-abled do that.

Shut up. It is too a word.

But in this mask-wearing, corona-avoiding state we’re living in, I noticed a weird side effect that it’s had on how I’m used to dealing with people.

Pre-virus, for me to understand people, I would have to stare intently at their mouths. As you can probably imagine, doing that creates situations that are…

uncomfortable at best.

Uncomfortable for me. And probably uncomfortable for the person who is suddenly being batted away from trying to put their mouth on mine. I can’t really blame them even though I do. If someone was staring intently at your mouth while you were speaking, you’d probably think they were not only enraptured by your conversational skills but also really wanted a taste of your pouty mouth. I mean, why else could someone not take their eyes off your luscious lips?

However, it’s always been because I can’t hear without actually seeing the words formed by someone’s dry cake hole. Unfortunately, me doing that has made for some awkward quick departures, or worse, a slow head tilt and a come hither.

What I didn’t realize is that since we’re all wearing these hot, have-I-been-walking-around-with-breath-like-this-all-the-time? masks recently, is that, suddenly, strangers aren’t trying to kiss me as often.

Am I going to have to actually discern how creepy a lot of men, and a larger amount of women than you’d think, are by how they block doorways and drive 55 in the fast lane? I don’t have time to follow everyone around! I feel like I’m missing a superpower I didn’t know I had.

I’ve had to realize that my terrible hearing had turned into a highly-refined social skill. One attuned to weeding out people as creeps who would so easily betray their loved ones for a taste of strange lips and a boob fondle just because I was staring at their mouths. I get how creepy of me it is to stare at people’s mouths but it’s not like I’m also massaging my drinking straw while I do it, either.

Yet, I miss it now. I miss the attempts. I miss my amused confusion when the previously mundane conversation strangely turns to innuendo and swatting them away when they go in to score. For now, I’ll have to go back to dating people for years to find out what horrible creeps they are. A cruel injustice, indeed.

Unless I’m able to somehow angle them into a doorway to see how long they stand there staring at their phone.

It’s true what they say, you never miss what you have until it’s gone.

-Cue 00’s teeny-bopper, psuedo-punk-

There was this time…(pt. 7)

Because of awful circumstances I’d rather erase from my mind entirely, I fell into a job that proved to be yet another source of incredible stories that no one seems to believe are real. If it weren’t me doing it, I’d doubt it, too.

I don’t make stuff up easily. Because there never seems to be a reason to.

At this job one day, I was telling one of my co-workers that when I first started working there, there was a full-blown riot right out front of the registration office.

Anywhere else in the world, this would be news. Not there. There, it’s just an incident. It’s just a to-do and to be extinguished immediately and moved on from. From hearing other stories from people who have worked there over 10, 20, 30 years, this one didn’t even make the scale. But it was my experience and hilarious in a “Holy Shit” kind of way.

Staring at me skeptically, my co-worker listens as I tell him about the chaos of this particular day. That as the angry crowd filled the gaps around the initial fighting pair, then irrationally deciding to choose sides, that all of my then co-workers…just…vanished. A jumbling, chaotic cluster-fuck grew, brewing bigger and angrier outside the plate-glass windows. Suddenly and immediately, I was alone and trying to check in a guest who’d come to our lovely resort for the first time ever. It left to me to remain calm while pretending that nothing that was going on outside was actually going on outside.

And call 911 at the same time.

“Hi! Welcome! Please, just look at me, don’t turn around. No! Keep looking at me. —911? Yes, Hi. We need EMTs, Police, Fire and Rescue. There are 75 people rioting outside. Send help.—Here is where the store is and this here….don’t look around, look at the map…is where the restaurant is…” I hand the guest, who is now wondering whether I’m hitting on her or trying to kidnap her, her parking passes and usher her out through a side door.

The explosive pile of roiling humans cools down a bit with only minor scratches and multiple Banned-for-Life decrees from whoever was in charge that day. I’d like to assume it was the quickness of the security employees that settled it down. They did a great job. There is also something to be said about the calming effect 10 cop cars have when they come screaming down the wrong way on a one-way street towards a mob of vacationers. Stories were conjured, statements were taken, peace restored.

As I’m telling this new co-worker about the short-lived and kind-of-hilarious riot, I’m thinking out loud, “Was it Memorial Day? Or was it earlier like Easter?”

My co-worker is standing slack-jawed, shaking his head in disbelief because I HAD to have made this up, the current guest, the one who had been standing in line far too long listening to two people having a conversation instead of doing their jobs said,

“It was Fathers’ Day, 2017. Can I check in, please?”

Defend Your Sacred

It’s a weird place to be when you finally see with sparkling clarity that you ignored the bazillion red flags in a situation but went ahead with it anyway. Feeling a lot of regret that you wasted so much time and effort, having to clean up the damage, and a lot of beating yourself up that you weren’t thinking with your head. Feeling a lot of remorse for having suffered a lot more than you should’ve had you just listened to-every-single-person-you-ever-knew warning you off it.

But you knew better, right, buddy? Yeah, me, too. I’m now accepting applications for my personal decision-maker. I’m just kidding because I probably wouldn’t listen to you either.

We all do stupid shit that, in hindsight, kind of make you want to throw up in your mouth. We all do. What’s important is finding the lesson in it.

This isn’t a philosophical argument I’m making in this post. It’s a real pin-pointy kind of deal. This is more of a ProLifeTip. It’s a, “if you’re not going to listen to me or anyone else, listen to this” kind of lesson. So listen up, stubborn readers, I’m actually going to make sense here.

*Everyone has some weird thing.

—Oh stop! That’s not what I’m talking about, pervs.–

I’m not talking about things as in possessions. I’m not talking about things as in people. I’m not talking about the overall big things we take to heart as citizens like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or even beliefs we hold morally, religiously, spiritually, rationally and relationally. Because those grand things can be hard to apply to your personal situation and are easily manipulated by others. They’re also vague and what the self-help shit the Interwebs are rife with and always seem to point to.

This is far more precise.

What I mean is there is some thing; quirky, funky, odd, scary, eerie, abnormal, nonconformist, antisocial, exceedingly cute, unpleasant, beautiful, unconventional, or downright weird about all of us that we hold special. Chances are we’ve never shared it with another person our entire lives. Whatever it is, it’s ours and sacred to us and us alone.

These weird things, that if you look deep you can find, have always been a part of you.

It can be some kind of music, a dance, the awkward way you run, your pride in being double-jointed, that you’re psychic but have yet to prove it, that you cry when you see sea turtles laying eggs, your love of dancing naked to TV theme songs, or an indefatigable belief that dragons are real and making me type this right now.

I’m not saying those are my sacred things. Seriously. I’m NOT! Shut up! They’re all different. They’re all unique.

Because whatever it is, it makes you, you.

I’ve realized recently that finding this, or many of those, things that which we hold absolutely sacred is the key to having the ultimate protection from others damaging you in any real way. By defending those things that make up you, keeps you who you are.

Protecting those things will protect you.

And no, I’m not supporting some idiot who takes this to mean, “my thing is—insert depraved criminal act here—.” No, you’re a freak and an asshole. This isn’t for you.

And I don’t mean physical protection. If you’re in danger, call the police for Christ’s sake.

What I’m referring to is that thing you’ve loved and cherished since you were a kid and held tight to your chest ever since. That favorite piece of you, then and always, regardless of how you hold yourself now.

Because that thing is us.

Finding those things about yourself, pinpointing what they are and staunchly holding them dear, can repel anyone who tries to change those things and therefore you.

This method, of discerning what it is you precisely find sacred in yourself, not only gives you a tool to figure out who you are at the core but provides a fail-safe way of waving that red flag so full in your face that you simply can’t, and shouldn’t, ignore it.  Because should anyone attack your thing, they need to go.

Any attack on your very special thing is a deal-breaker. The ultimate deal-breaker.

Make this rule and always stick to it. Make it an unbreakable rule, true to yourself, regarding anyone you encounter:

If you, or anyone, who mocks, teases, abuses, ridicules, demands, threatens, cajoles, wheedles, cons, irritates, jostles, molests, bothers, pokes at, dismisses, insults, my thing?

Leave now. And consider keeping one eye open for the rest of your life.

End of story, that’s all she wrote.

It’s really that simple. It’s that personal and it’s that simple. The one moat that can’t be crossed. An impenetrable protection for ourselves, forever and always. It’s what we all deserve.

Always protect your thing, dear readers.

Me? I’m now wearing a cup.

There was this time…(pt.6)

I keep saying it’ll be my last story but then I think of another one…

I was having martinis with some friends at the Biltmore in Montecito. This is around 2000. I think. I don’t know anymore.

What I remember is that I noticed my friend, Craig, was in the lobby and not joining our ragtag team for drinks despite our waving and screeching hysterical giggles.

Right about the end of 2 obnoxiously-large martinis and I excuse myself to go release them to the sea. Or to the fabulously appointed Four Seasons bathrooms.

On my way back to our way-too-loud table, I spot Craig speaking in, what I find out later, respectful tones to other business-clad colleagues.

That doesn’t stop me from running up to him and cupping his butt with both hands. Hard.

I’ve never seen a person turn that shade of red before.

To his credit, he didn’t bat me away like a wasp. He slowly and calmly explains to me, “Molly, I’m in a meeting.”

To my credit, I quickly shuffle away.

But, he wasn’t just in a meeting.

He was mediating the sale of the Four Seasons-Biltmore to Ty Warner (of Beanie Baby fame and fortune and Chief-of-Resurrection of historical Santa Barbara landmarks.)

Right. At. That. Moment.

As I ran, then lunged and grabbed the cute buns of Craig, it was in front of that man, that not-quite-yet-but-soon-to-be-future owner of the Biltmore who would eventually spend $275 million in buying it and $240 million in restoring it.

I like to think, and Craig agreed, my bun-grabbing was probably why Ty decided to invest in Santa Barbara.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-may-24-fi-33345-story.html

There was this time…(pt. 5)

This one is more embarrassing than body-slamming a supermodel. Don’t worry, I’m gonna to tell you anyway.

My friends are good friends with a well-known author.

A very well-known author.

Not some slouchy, dime store, cozy novelist. A real writer of Literature.

No begrudging anyone at all with the creativity, determination, discipline, and drive to write a book. You deserve great kudos. This guy, though. This guy is what we aspire to be. And what I aspire to become a jackass in front of. Often.

He’s written books that are taught in college as examples on how to write books.

He can write the human experience.

He’s actually remained alive to profit from them.

And he’s a nice guy.

Then there’s Miss Clumsy Pants.

For some reason, this guy enrages me.

I read something of his in high school and it pissed me off at a molecular level. I don’t even know why. Despite that being the definition of good writing, I never seemed to grasp it. Literature degree from UCSB be dammed! Because that’s damn good writing.

AND, I READ HIM IN HIGH SCHOOL!!

So, the first time I meet him, decide I’m gonna tell him about it.

Okay, I didn’t decide. It was more like an evil gnome pushing out everything I thought about his work from 20 years ago that was unflattering.

It didn’t end well.

And didn’t end then.

For at least, 3 or 4 meetings. Because there’s nothing cooler than repeatedly running into the person you made an ass of yourself in front of.

…I don’t say that lightly. I introduced myself each time.

I’m sure he knew my name after the first time. Not only that, for some reason, I felt the need to reiterate my original position. The position that his point in his 20 year-old novel was wrong.

My Bachelor’s degree in the broad discipline of “English” somehow warranted me implying, “Go back in time, super famous and respected author, and fix what you fucked up.”

Which essentially was, “re-win your place in winning” these:

  • Rea Award for the Short Story, 2014.
  • Induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2009.
  • Best American Stories selection, 2008 (“Admiral,” from Harper’s).
  • Best American Stories selection, 2007 (“Balto,” from The Paris Review).
  • National Magazine Award, 2007 (“Wild Child,” from McSweeney’s).
  • Ross Macdonald Award for body of work by a California writer, 2007.
  • Audie Prize, 2007, for best audio performance by a writer (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medal for Literature, 76th annual awards, 2007 (Talk Talk).
  • Evil Companions Literary Award, Denver Public Library, 2007.
  • Founder’s Award, Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference, 2006.
  • Best American Stories selection, 2004. “Tooth and Claw,” from The New Yorker.
  • Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of 9 best books of the year, 2003.
  • O. Henry Award, 2003. “Swept Away,” from The New Yorker.
  • National Book Award Finalist, Drop City, 2003.
  • Southern California Booksellers’ Association Award for best fiction title of the year, 2002, for After the Plague.
  • O.Henry Award, 2001. “The Love of My Life,” from The New Yorker.
  • The Bernard Malamud Prize in Short Fiction from the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, 1999, for T.C. Boyle Stories, the Collected Stories.
  • O.Henry Award, 1999. “The Underground Gardens,” from The New Yorker.
  • Prix Médicis Étranger, Paris, for the best foreign novel of the year, 1997 (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • Best American Stories selection, 1997. “Killing Babies,” from The New Yorker.
  • Howard D. Vursell Memorial Award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters, for prose excellence, 1993.
  • Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree, State University of New York, 1991.
  • Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 13 best books of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • PEN Center West Literary Prize, best short story collection of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • Prix Passion publishers’ prize, France, for best novel of the year, 1989 (Water Music).
  • O. Henry Award, 1989. “The Ape Lady in Retirement,” from The Paris Review.
  • Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for Literature, best novel of the year, 57th annual awards, 1988 (World’s End).
  • O. Henry Award, 1988. “Sinking House,” from The Atlantic Monthly.
  • PEN/Faulkner Award, best novel of the year, 1988, for World’s End.
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 1988.
  • Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 16 best books of the year, 1987 (World’s End).
  • Commonwealth of California, Silver Medal for Literature, 55th Annual Awards, 1986 (Greasy Lake).
  • The Paris Review’s John Train Humor Prize, 1984 (“The Hector Quesadilla Story”).
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1983.
  • The Paris Review’s Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, 1981 (“Mungo Among the Moors,” excerpt from Water Music).
  • The St. Lawrence Award for Fiction, best story collection of the year, 1980 (Descent of Man).
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1977.
  • Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines Fiction Award for the Short Story, 1977.

Just because some random chick who can’t keep her mouth shut said so.

Whatever. I know I’m right.

Surprisingly, for me, it actually got to be a little bit of a joke. Again, for me anyway.

Every time I ran into him, I’d wave from afar and he’d say, “Hi, Molly. Yes, I know. I know.”

I don’t read his stuff much anymore. I’m sure it’s still quality. Pfft.

Oh and hey! if you come across a character that won’t keep her mouth shut…

T.C. Boyle

There was this time…(pt. 4)

I met three Hollywood tough guys almost 20 years apart.

All three were the nicest people. Keep in mind that while two of these incidents were while I was working, only the first one was I wearing a name tag. I don’t normally wear a name tag but only because they fall into that vortex of lost possessions that forms in my purse.

The first was Alex Rocco from “The Godfather” and many other roles you’d recognize by his signature gravely voice. I was working at the Miramar Hotel in its dying day in Montecito in 1996. Trying to check him in but being extremely busy as it always was, I couldn’t get him into his room until we strong-armed the previous occupant out. He said, “No problem at all, Molly. I’ll be over here with my beautiful wife. Please let us know when it’s ready but only when you have the time.” I scrambled to get the strong-arming of the cleaning staff done to help someone this sweet.

The second tough guy I met was Paul Sorvino. He’s played every gangster in every movie where there were Italian gangsters…and a brief stint in Law & Order. In this case, I went to a bar to meet my former boyfriend and his tennis buddies, Rick Miani and Gregg Bigger, after a match.

Their new friend stood when I walked up to the table. He spoke lovingly about his daughter, Mira, and their father-daughter trip to Italy. He stood every time I did and listened to me like I mattered. He kissed my hand. I think. I don’t remember if that part is true but I’m going to keep it that way in my head.

More recently, the third tough guy was Dennis Franz. Though not normally cast as a gangster, he is the quintessential “cop”. You know. That guy.

Sipowicz took no guff from nobody.

Sipowicz might be tough but Dennis Franz is a sweetheart. Having since I’ve oddly gravitated back to supplemental hotel/resort work, for the past two years Dennis has come back to my place of work to check in with me in particular. He says it’s because of how well I take care of him and his family. No asking for special treatment, just gratitude. He remembered me by name and was so impressed that I knew who he was, too. He’s quite huggable.

Very nice gentlemen all. Real gentlemen all. Probably not surprising but nice to hear, isn’t it?