Sunday, June 24, 2012

One Per Cent

Significantly well aware of the fact that 99% of the highly-paid Departments on Hollywood sit-coms who work approximately two days a week on a show and have little or no respect for my humble job as a (usually four or five days a week) Stand-In, I’m quite accustomed to being regarded as perhaps one miniscule step up the Tinsel Town ladder from the generally unappreciated throngs of background actors.
Throughout my career, I’ve been (ahem) “asked” to move to the back of the line at Craft Services so that the Director, Actors and “real crew” could eat lunch first on camera blocking days; I’ve been relegated to the empty audience seating during run-thrus when the Network and Producers are present on stage; and have even been told to “try to be invisible” when I’ve successfully filled in for the occasional voice-over all week before the official Chosen One had been hired.  

Welcome to Hollywood…

And flopping awake to a text message early in the morning from an AD I know and adore, I read the information carefully:

“R U available for BOTH SI and BG this Thurs, and BG on Fri?”

And right there in front of my eyes, was that wacky Universe’s Twisted Sense of Humor that I’ve grown to passively/aggressively love and despise!

FIRST of all, yes of course I could stand-in on a show if that was my one-day challenge; but apparently I would also be required to perform double duty as a background actor (for a single paycheck), which would entail presenting multiple wardrobe changes to the Costumers; as well as being treated like chattel for two days in a row, all the while praying hungrily for a meager untoasted bagel or half of a leftover stale donut.

SECONDLY, I was not about to trot my clothing around for the disapproval of the contents of my closet which does not currently consist of business attire, sports equipment, glamorous ball gowns or whatever nonsense the casting people wished me to lug from my car (which of course would have to be parked absolutely as far away from wherever the stage might be).

And THIRDLY, I didn’t particularly care for the idea of being corralled into a group of talented people who possess a unique skill-set of patience and tolerance that I’ve never been able to master.  (An Advertising Exec friend of mine once gave me the chance to be BG in a national Snickers commercial, but the Director kept admonishing my left elbow in the shot for being “too animated”.)

Frankly, if I were recruited to be BG at my age these days, I would probably attempt to steal the scene in a restaurant and throw food at people because I find it incredibly, logistically unbelievable (if you ever watch sit-coms) how everyone nods and agrees with each other most pleasantly in that Utopian atmosphere where conflict isn’t permitted to exist unless it’s specifically scripted.

What?  No drama in their fictional lives?  Pfft!  Who really lives like that?!?!


Now, as I’m a free-lancer in Tinsel Town, I recognize that my fellow co-workers on their miscellaneous rungs (higher or lower than mine on the Hollywood Ladder being of no consequence here), may adamantly agree to disagree with my decision to respectfully decline the offer on the grounds that I ought to be able to suck it up and appreciate the opportunity (be it my “forte” or not).

But I’ve learned over the past few years that ultimately, it’s up to each and every one of us to decide for ourselves just what standards and behaviors we accept or reject in our lives – be it personal or professional.


Logging on to the computer that evening - an unsuccessful twinge of guilt trying desperately to burrow into my belly - I cast all doubt aside and actually felt an enormous sense of pride that I had chosen to respect myself for making the choice that was right for me.

And scrolling through emails, I admit I was more than unnerved to see a personal correspondence in my inbox from my previous UPM…

“Well, that can’t be good” I sighed, as our show isn’t scheduled to begin its second half of our season until October.  “Oh dear God, what if he’s giving me the heads up early that I’ve been replaced, that I should shop around now, and should immediately accept any other offer should it come my way?  Oh, and on the only day in my career when I had finally found the balls to decline what could perhaps end up being my last two days in show business?!  Uck, just shoot me now…” I withered.

But finding my courage one more time, I clicked on the email only to read the following:

“Hey Penny –

“I’m starting to get (our show’s title) set-up and you’ve been on my mind.  Just want to make sure you are going to be able to come back and join us this fall!  xo”

And just like that, this One Red Cent felt the heartwarming respect of the One Percent that comfortingly compensated for every other variable in my Inexact Equation of Appreciation!!!

I must say, that I have been tempted by a few other queries as to my possible availability for upcoming shows this fall (including my previous Network gig that gave me an on-camera speaking role); but the simple human act of making me feel important by reaching out to me personally (not through the casting company that books Union Stand-Ins) sealed the deal.  And confirming to my UPM that despite other opportunities (sort of) presented to me, my loyalty does indeed lie with him.

“Aww.  I adore you :)  Talk soon” he replied.

(Seriously, when I eventually accept my Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress for a Situation Comedy, he and his husband will be right there on my “Thank You” list!)


As my occasional Screen Actors Guild residual checks (at least as of June 16, 2012) are still proudly mailed in SAG labeled envelopes (I hope they continue to use EVERY SINGLE LAST ONE IN STOCK!!!), I tried to rally a wee bit of enthusiasm at the envelope in my mailbox from the SAG–AFTRA ONE UNION Residuals Department.

I was grateful of course that my dues were in fact working for me and that there are people out there diligently making certain that I am compensated for re-runs of episodes that I’d performed in; but the giddy “OOH-WHAT-COULD-IT-BE?!!!” excitement of finding compounded monies of untold fortunes on any given day that I used to embrace had long since passed…

Honestly, it’s tough to get aroused when you’ve been unwittingly negotiated down to a pimp/whore AFTRA level contract where any cable TV show has been stripped down to its tattered fishnet stockings and finds itself the equivalent of strolling down the Boulevard, willing to hop into a Pinto for a cheap ride.

Yet nevertheless, I teased the envelope open and glanced at the top bit of information – that being re-uses of my cable episode that aired five more times! 

Hey, this could be a decent check!

After all, my first residual for this particular episode had paid around $600.00 (albeit only after they were allowed to run it freely ELEVEN TIMES IN A ROW before paying me a DIME), but certainly another five episodes would surely yield at least a few happy hundred bucks!

And tearing open the envelope to collect my riches and begin to make preparations for the purchase of my future Hollywood Hills mansion, I stared blankly at the check.


Wait, WHAAT???

Granted, before taxes, the net earnings were $85.52, and there was the automatic deposit into my savings at a separate Credit Union of $40.00, but…, but…, but…, twelve bucks???

Now, having suffered from either food poisoning or a bout of the flu the last couple of days, I understood that perhaps I wasn’t quite right in the head.  (Shocking, I know!)  But wasn’t there a zero missing somewhere in SAG-AFTRA ONE UNION’s bottom line???

Excavating an old phone number for the payroll company – which is not the Union itself - but who have long ago stopped printing that helpful bit of information on their pay stubs, I eventually spoke to a human being in Accounting who seemed equally confused by the drastic cut in compensation.  “Let me connect you to a specialist in the residuals department” the kind lady offered, unable to explain the anomaly.

And chatting with “Mary”, I laid out the situation.

“Hmm…  Ohh… That’s a cable show…”  I could almost hear her shudder with utter disdain as she studied her computer screen.  “You should have checked with your Union for the pay-scale, because according to our records, once they air it eleven times, they only have to pay you about 1% for the next five re-runs.  And of course after that, it decreases from there” she added, matter-of-factly.


Welcome to Hollywood…


Still choosing to look at the world with a glass half full (of 2% milk!),

~Lactose tolerant P

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What, No Limosine???

Generally proud of my defensive instincts to greet any amount of Tragedy with an inherent sense of Comedy, I sat contemplatively on the couch in my Living Room, staring at my six foot long black Coffin Table.  (Oh, the irony!)
“Well, let’s see” I looked around for comfort, spying a cup of my deceased friend Laer’s cremains in a patina-covered treasure chest.  “Thanks for the good thoughts” I knuckle-bumped the urn; still uncertain as just how to face a “Hump Day” Wednesday and, well, get myself over “the hump”.

Still somewhat sleep-deprived, but having learned that my heroic feline sidekick Pretty was indeed back at the Pet Hospital (where she had been returned to after her less-than-pleasant adventure at a Crematory), I turned to Laer for a bit of advice.

“Apparently the Essence of Pretty is there, and they didn’t even bother to call me” I sighed.  “I had to call THEM!” I pouted ever-so bravely (ish).  “I need to bring her home, but it’s way too early for me to have my neighbor move her car, let me out, and begin to conceive of driving safely when I’ve only got four hours of sleep under my belt…  Should I call a friend?” I wondered to Laer, whose treasure chest seemed to eye me with all due maliciousness, had I ever dared to bother him with such an emotional task prior to his required eight hours of beauty sleep.

“You’re right of course” I acknowledged; knowing full well that if any of my friends were up so early they would be heading to a studio for work; and if not awake just yet, were grateful that they needn’t be!

“I suppose I could just walk down to the hospital and pick her up” I suggested logically.  “It’s less than a mile each way, and I could do that in like a half an hour or so…” I pondered; to which the Essence of Laer seemed to fret at the idea…

After all, I had no idea if Pretty’s cremains might be heavy in her urn; and did I really want to wobble down Santa Monica Boulevard with any “questionable” people in the wee hours of the morning; only to be possibly reigned into some sort of Police round-up official sting of what they might randomly determine to be “undesirables”?! 

Oh, good Heavens, NO!!! 

And shaking off all the ensuing terrifying mental visuals of being locked up in jail with transvestite prostitutes and drunken homeless people (bless their hearts!), I winced at Laer before eventually thanking him for his insight.

“Well…” I searched my pea-brain, “I guess I could just hop a bus” I scratched my chin, as thought-provoked people are apparently wont to do.

“Would YOU want to be brought home after your visit to a Crematory on a freakin’ BUS?” the Essence of Laer confronted me most rightfully.



As my parents took the time to “upload” many wonderful survival techniques in my pea-brain before I moved to a large city, I checked my purse for my Mom’s insistent requirement on keeping whatever cash on hand, as well as an emergency hidden twenty dollar bill.

And confident that I could retrieve my fearless feline sidekick, I filed a flight plan for my invisible plane, twirled three times to miraculously change into my Wonder Woman persona, and sat down with all proper heroic authority as I pulled out my cell phone and called a cab!


“Where you go?” the driver (whose accent I couldn’t quite determine) asked me as I gave him the street address.  “You tell me where to turn, or I use GPS!” he literally barked at me.  (Oh, the irony of going to a Pet Hospital!)

“Okay, well then a left before this light” I recommended.  “Or, ya know, the next block past it” I whimpered as he barreled past the Hospital, my imaginary Super Hero cape whipping worriedly outside of the open passenger door window.

(WOW – Nothing like a Death Ride in a Taxi when you’re just trying to bring home your Best Friend’s cremains!)

“This is place?” the driver stared at me through the rear view mirror as he made three left turns, skirting into an empty parking spot and nearly bopping my head against the back of the front seat as he screeched the cab to a halt.

“Yes sir” I whimpered.  “I’m picking up my kitty’s ashes, and if you could stay here until I return, I need a simple round trip home.  Would you be so kind as to wait for me?” I queried weakly.

“No problem.  I wait.  Sorry for kitty.  But meter runs” he added brusquely, tapping his wristwatch.


Whilst not exactly experiencing the ticker-tape parade that Pretty might have preferred in her honor to bring her home, at least my heroic sidekick and I made it safely back to the bat-cave together for only $20.00 (with a tip!).


And unboxing her cremains which had been stuffed into all kinds of flaky Styrofoam (now THAT part WAS like a ticker-tape parade, what with all the mess!), I dug like a miner to retrieve my Best Friend in order to place her cremains in a spot of dignity in our home.

“What’s up with your name plate?” I wondered, staring at the walnut base supporting her elegant “Faithful Feline” sculpture.  “I KNOW I ordered cursive writing…” I pondered, staring at the pedestal, distraught that I’d somehow let Pretty down regarding her final resting place.

Now, certainly I could absolutely return the base and have the script changed with likely no additional cost to me:  but the more I looked at the Memorial, the more I decided that my sidekick had made the decision all by herself:

“Cursive, my furry little ass!” the Essence of Pretty gloated, apparently ‘infinitely’ pleased with her selection of a gold placard; her name boldly engraved in all capital letters.

Atta girl!!!
Wishing you all the VIP treatment today and every day,


P.S. I know the sculpture looks white in the photo, and yes Pretty was an all black kitty, but in person her Memorial is a lovely grayish granite.  Besides... what Artist could TRULY capture the Essence of Pretty?!  :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Penny Loafer Oxymoronic Yang Curse Continuum

Unable to properly negotiate the terms of just when the heck I’m allowed to sleep versus when I’m suddenly forced to take a monumental power nap, I made one small pledge to myself on a quiet Friday night.
Theoretical “Mr. Sandman” willing (during my current recovery from the oppressive weight of grief as I learn to cope with the loss of my feline Best Friend and the eerie emptiness of an apartment after sixteen and a half years…), I would kindly grant myself FULL permission to sleep until 2 PM on what looked to be a glorious overcast Saturday with conditions most favorable towards the joy of hard-core dreaming; despite the inevitable likelihood of my flopping irritably around the bed sheets in search of my kitty and/or stupid cell phone to turn off the damn alarm clock at such a God-forsaken early afternoon hour!!!

But I digress… (She typed calmly, taking a simple deep breath.)
(And by the way, “Mr. Sandman” apparently makes no such deals, as the theoretical THUG booted my ass awake at 4 AM, FFS…)

But I digress… (She typed calmly again, taking a second deep breath.)
There were really only two things that I wished to challenge myself to accomplish that Saturday:  I wanted to be able to send my Dad his Father’s Day gift (that I had selected months ago!) in a timely fashion; and I desperately needed to purchase some lip-goo.  (Chap Stick, Blistex, Carmex, what have you.)  Call the latter a stupid ritual, but frankly I can’t sleep without it.

Doh!  (I think I just had a light bulb moment as I typed that!)
And although Cecilia (my car) is running like a charm, I’m realizing that, for now, my personal reaction time isn’t as prompt as perhaps it needs to be (light bulb above being a most excellent example); nor do I need to be driving at all if I’m only travelling three silly blocks away.

And as I completely understand that my parents wanted to send their child some comfort all the way from Indiana to California (and who had already sent beautiful flowers!!!); I tackled the box of a pair of shoes sent from their work place wherein the sadistic, over-zealous, card-board-loving shipping Fiend from Hell had so meticulously brown-taped the package within an inch of its life so as to be nearly irretrievable without a freakin’ box cutter knife!!!
But I digress… (She typed calmly, taking a third deep breath.)

Eventually slipping into the “Antique Wine” hand-stitched loafers (sooo out of my general price range), I padded around my empty home for a test run around 9 AM.


Oh, these could definitely work for me! 
And putting on a bit of make-up so as not to scare any of the local children (which I DO occasionally enjoy), I padded down the street. 

I was ambling kind of normally! 
I wasn’t the lady with the sore foot impeding other pedestrian’s paths! 

In fact, I suspect I was literally re-learning how to walk again on my own two feet!
And spying a kind-looking, gentle lady dressed in a spectacularly colorful caftan or muumuu (I’m not really sure what to call it) slowly descending from a metro bus with her walker, I smiled politely as she independently insisted on getting her own footing and proceeding forward without any assistance from myself or the driver.

What a beautiful fighter! 
What a glorious inspiration!

What the BLOODY HELL was up with her meeting my appreciative heart-felt gaze, and SCOWLING at me with some sort of EVIL EYE HEX?!?!
And just like that…


While I’m not particularly proud of my actions at bolting across a street when the computerized “hand” was flashing orange to quickly finish using the crosswalk; I made it safely to the next block, leaving the mean old muumuu-wearing crabby Gypsy at the last intersection, as I may or may not have uttered any words to myself that could or could not have possibly sounded like “SUCK ON THAT!”
But I digress… (She typed calmly; grateful to have any breaths to take.)

Padding home after mailing my Father’s Day gift, I sat in my apartment, remorseful, and staring at my loafers (which by definition alone should indicate an act of idleness and henceforth all manner of “loafing”), I found myself taking to the streets once again.

After all, I still needed lip goo…
And muttering pleasantly to myself regarding my magical powers of defying the Gypsy’s curse, the wondrousness of my loafers that strove to be so much more than the humble label that they’d been given, and patting myself on the back for getting my butt out of the house TWICE I stopped at a crosswalk to await the next light change and hopeful safe passage.

But facing difficult emotions of loss and mourning that can whack you upside the back of your head when you least expect it, sometimes that’s all you can achieve before The Sandman lets you buy lip goo, then declares  you officially DONE for the day.

Remembering to breathe,
~Penny the Loafer

Author’s Addendum:

I was almost certain that the Gypsy had cursed me as I nurtured shin splints from scampering across the street – but her wimpy dark magic was absolutely NO match for the vengeful ghost of my deceased crappy Landlord, Mr. Yang…
And with a knock on the door of my apartment, I was presented with sincerest apologies for the loss of my kitty from one of his sons, as well as an envelope containing a copy of my original rental agreement (signed and dated by me and the previous owner of the building back in 1988).

“Dear Penny:
Enclosed is a check for $100.00 to return your pet deposit to you. I am very sorry to hear that your cat has passed away.  I have determined that no pets will be allowed on or about the premises in the future.  I have enclosed a copy of your lease.  As per item “K” titled “Pets/Water Bed” this letter serves as notice that no animal or pet is to be kept on or about the premises for any amount of time in the future.”

Yeah, well, God forbid a new feline in my home (not that I’m even emotionally REMOTELY ready at this point) should dare to ruin such priceless carpeting that was installed prior to 1988 by the former Landlord!

Meanwhile, I’m neither confirming nor denying that I may or may not be currently shopping the underground market for a more powerful time-traveling Gypsy with a significantly eviler eye and access to a 1970’s moderately leaky Water Bed… 
Gee, I hope the scion of Mr. Yang overseeing my rent-controlled apartment is cool with my massive stable of High Horses!!!  :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Just What Kind of Tom Foolery is THIS?

Awake at 2:30 in the morning for no apparent reason whatsoever, (extremely inconsistent with my current pattern of sleeping almost PRECISELY until 2 PM) I toddled into the kitchen for a fresh bottle of water from my Brita filtration system.
And staring blankly into my refrigerator, I couldn’t quite make any sense of the apparition before my eyes, despite the fact that I knew that I had personally manifested the plethora of food-stuffs staring me in the face.

While I’d love to blame some sort of alcoholic-induced trance as to the manifestation of supplies that I’d procured, I had to accept the realization that I had actually ordered FOOD that was GOOD for me.
“Hello strawberry yogurt!  Hi organic baby carrots!  Lovely to see you, four pack of tapioca pudding!” (that I haven’t had in YEARS!).  “And look at YOU, Calcium Enriched yet Pulp-Free orange juice!” I beamed; ever so delighted to be greeted with such heart-healthy choices in my fridge.  “Oh, and don’t think that I don’t see you, spectacular jar of Welch’s grape jelly!  Your peanut butter partner is right on the counter!” I added pleasantly before closing the refrigerator door and nodding towards my jar of Jif (extra crunchy – not my best choice – that’s a lot of chewing), 10-pack of small boxed cereals and single container of THREE servings of pistachio nuts!

Now, if you’re sitting here reading this post and find yourself baffled by the magnitude that I’m placing on this moment, please know that there are a few things in this world that I am extremely uncomfortable with…

1.    Spiders.  I don’t see a need for all of those legs, nor their uncanny desire to enter the inner sanctum of my home and randomly scare the crap out of me while clinging to a wall, scurrying across a floor or dangling manically from an invisible web on the ceiling.

2.    Freeways.  If people want to amp themselves up on caffeine, yak on their phones, apply makeup, send text messages and weave around the streets at 70 mph, well then good luck with that, but I’m not going to be a party to the mayhem.

3.    Grocery Stores.  (Stupid, I know…)  But they are GIGANTIC; and filled with aisle after aisle of unprepared food which I don’t know how to make, nor do I understand what ingredients I would even BEGIN to require to even ATTEMPT to make a meal solely for myself.  I’m not a family of four, nor do I need a gazillion servings of one thing that I’m only going to eat once.

And like a gift from the Universe, there zoomed by me on my last excursion out of the house last week, a truck I’d seen so many times before, but couldn’t necessarily comprehend its magnitude at the time.
“YUMMY.COM. Here Comes the Grocery Store!” the truck whizzed past; promising the delivery of food in approximately under thirty minutes.

I may look into buying stock options…

Admiring a brick of sharp cheddar,

~Insomniac P

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” ~Henry Ellis
Still dealing with the fresh wound of having to put down my Best Friend slash heroic feline sidekick Pretty, I seem to have become moderately inept.

Sure I can still spin around (metaphorically of course) and find my inner Wonder Woman; but presently, it’s more the equivalent of twirling to become a Super Hero, only to find that looking down, I have no bullet-blocking bracelets nor lasso of truth!

And such as been my recent dilemma with technological crap.

“Program information runs out on 6/5!” my TiVo shot me a panic warning message three days ago.  “Connect to the TiVo service now!” it threatened me before randomly rebooting itself in the middle of a movie on TBS.

Oh, FFS…

And patiently awaiting the box to restart itself, I did as I was told; a yellow light clicking on to tell me that I’d successfully allowed the box to access my land line and upload the necessary info.

“Go back (connecting will continue…)” the stupid box prompted me, as I stupidly went back to my movie before the next unannounced shut down and reboot happened again.

“Program information runs out on 6/5! Connect to the TiVo service now!”

Oh, FFS…

Suffice it to say, I tried at least five different phone numbers offered out of the thirty or so suggested on the screen, and after every single freaking attempt ten times over in one night, still NOTHING.

And checking the messages and settings, I sighed wearily at every upload that was denounced as a “FAIL”.

"Program information runs out on 6/5!  Connect to the TiVo service now!”


I’ll never understand why the Universe feels the need to kick you when you’re down… 

I’ve not yet been able to bring my kitty’s ashes home; my car died my first real day out of the house; and then to sucker-punch me with the idea that my satanic DVR had the ability to whisk me out of a much-needed hour or two of a mindless escape???

Aw, C’MON!  It was Will Smith in Independence Day!

And maybe it’s the grief typing here, but do you see the resemblance?!?!  (NO, not to Will Smith, but to the ALIEN!  OOH, my heroic feline sidekick could play ANY role!!!)


Hopping on a small pony (I’m not yet steady enough to ride one of my High Horses from “Penny’s Barn of Righteous Indignation”); we saddled up to type a full, “I’ll have you know” old-fashioned finger-wagging email to my service provider.  “My account is up to date, and this is unacceptable!” I wrote whole-heartedly before taking a deep breath and immediately deleting every harsh word.

And with a re-thought pleasant inquiry sent, I learned that as my system doesn’t particularly upload or download (or whatever) from a faster computer network, it simply took a few more tries to get the necessary information.


Not sure that such words of wisdom had ever been flung my way from a "do not reply" email! 


While I’ve been turning off my cell phone most nights as I really don’t want to be woken up by obnoxious FAX machines, or the fresh new hell of being SPAMMED with photos that I apparently have to pay for from phone numbers I don’t know and that my ancient flip phone can’t block; I am beginning to reach out to more family and friends.

It’s a slow process to accept the loss of Pretty.

But I hope to be able to reconnect with you all soon. 


Friday, June 1, 2012

The Comfort Zone

Pouring a comforting cocktail at around 6pm on Memorial Day, I was half way through my first drink when it dawned on me that I’d never even bothered to pull the voddy out of the freezer.  (Memorial Day – oh, the irony!)
Dear God, what was wrong with me?

I’m finding that having lost my Best Friend Pretty, many things have changed and none of them really make sense…
My friend and Life Coach Ellen helped me to understand what she learned from the passing of her Dad, in that certain behaviors become your “new normal”.  You eventually learn to wake up in the morning (or for me, for now, the afternoon), and take in the profound moments of loss.  Sleep may be elusive; or it may wipe you out at any given moment; but the waves of grief are prone to hit you with little or no warning whatsoever.

This much, I’ve learned! 
And completely stymied by the Sandman, I tossed and turned for hours in my bed until 5 AM, trying to figure out just what I needed to do to help Pretty and myself begin to move on…

Now I know logically, that my pea-brain is most likely f***ing with my head, as physical encounters are ever so improbable and I’m just manifesting the Presence of Pretty after all our years together (i.e. seeing her all around the apartment, hearing her breathing by my side and of course walking on the bed in my sleep); but logic or not, something was definitely gnawing at my gut to physically BRING HER HOME.

“Yes, you did sign the card to retrieve Pretty’s ashes” helpful Jessica responded on the phone after pulling out our file at the Pet Hospital. “You can call this number” Jessica added, as to the Crematory and my next step toward retrieving my beloved companion.  And dialing the facility, I couldn’t help but start crying again…

“How can I help you?” the comforting voice of Linda wanted to know as I began to blather nonsensically between heaving sobs and indelicate acts of nostril clearing.  “Let me just get your paperwork, Penny” she added soothingly – although how Linda ever managed to understand my name with all of my blubbering, I’ll never know!

“Yes dear, I see that we are scheduled to pick up Pretty today” she added calmly.  (Well, hell’s bells, no WONDER Pretty was skulking around our bat-cave – she’d been stuck in the kitty morgue all weekend!) 

“Our services provide for her arrival to us, and she will be back to the Pet Hospital by the end of the week for you to bring her home.  She’ll be lovingly placed in our complimentary cube, which is decorated with 100% silk fabric; or if you prefer, you can go online to our website and pick out a more personalized urn” Linda continued maternally.  “Give me a call back if you need anything else dear, and I’m so sorry for your loss” she added quietly, her kindness and sincerity sending me into yet another fit of bawling on the couch…

“Really?” the Essence of Pretty stared me down as she crouched on my living room coffin table.  “We’re talking about my final resting place here” she pouted, not particularly thrilled with the idea of being stuffed into a “cube”; silk-covered or otherwise.  “Get your ass on-line nowwww!”

“You’re right, of course” I sighed.  “Let’s at the very least have a look at the cube” I suggested wearily, logging onto the website.

“Dear GOD, that thing is wrapped in blue paisley!” the Essence of Pretty howled.  “You are NOT keeping my ashes in a BLUE PAISLEY CUBE!” she demanded (quite rightfully, I must add!) “And stuck in a canister with a sticker on top that says “In Loving Memory”; I mean really, a canister with a STICKER, not even my NAME?” Miss Pretty wanted to know. 

“NEVER!!!” I “pinky-swore” to my kitty.  “OK, well, there are a lot of classic urns…” I said out loud, clicking on various pictures for close-ups to see if they might be more appealing to my heroic sidekick.
“Do I look Greek to you?” the Essence of Pretty raised a sarcastic eyebrow.

“Sorry.  Um, there’s this high-end one where your cremains look like they’re in a book, and you could be placed on one of my bookshelves?” I offered weakly, immediately realizing that she had absolutely NO intention of spending eternity in my dusty library.
“Here are a couple of different ones with birds flying!” I mentioned somewhat cheerily.  “You always loved looking at the birdies out the window!” I added, to which despite having only four toes per paw (and declawed before I rescued her), I think she actually gave me ‘the finger’.

Picky, picky, picky!

“Classic black marble?” I submitted as a possibility.

“Brrr…  Too cold.”
“OOH!  Egyptian Pyramid!” I teased tantalizingly, attempting to appeal to Pretty’s innate feline vanity and poised ability to glance over her ‘shoulder’ at me like I was a mere servant!

“Looks like a dunce cap” the Essence of Pretty disapproved.  “Just think about me:   It’ll come to you…” she purred in my heart and my pea-brain, procuring a small spot on the bed for a quiet posthumous kitty nap.

“Hi, is this Linda?” I asked coherently before the next flood of tears shot me back down to a blubbering idiot as I finalized my Best Friend’s resting place and engraved urn to bring her home.
“That’s a lovely choice” Linda’s voice smiled over the phone (again, how the heck did she understand me?).  “It’s a special order, but they’re generally very fast, and you should have Pretty back by the end of next week” Linda added most comfortingly.

With my second hardest task of the last six days tended to with careful thought and all my heart, I ambitiously set myself forward to perform a few more challenges…

I successfully postponed my Jury Duty until July 2, as frankly, I wouldn’t want ME to be sobbing uncontrollably as a Juror whilst trying to decide someone’s guilt or innocence when I’m still doing stupid things like announcing to my deceased feline companion that I’m going to take a shower.
And although I know I have at least a handful of friends who feel helpless in my period of grief and who would happily do me a favor or give me a ride somewhere, I challenged myself to drive to the bank one mile away.

I’d already paid my rent; but I had money from the Unemployment Department that I wanted to transfer into my checking account; I’d withdrawn a bit of money from my Credit Union to make certain that I could cover all of Pretty’s expenses; and having sobbed all over my pillow for the last few days, I’d thrown a load of sheets into the washer before I left the house.
“Anything else I can help you with?” the bank teller asked politely.

“Just a roll of quarters, please” I sighed, looking very much forward to spending one whole dollar in our apartment complex dryer so as to put down my weary head on a nice clean pillow.

Perhaps the Universe was helping me to get a wee bit back on track with my life?!

And hopping into Cecilia (my Toyota), I dared to smile knowing that even if I needed to grieve for another few weeks or so, or should I need to order in food, or even simply bury my head in a pillow and choose to be left alone, I had taken care of business.
It was a good day!

I’d accomplished a lot!

I was proud of myself!

And plugging in the key to Cecilia’s ignition, I attempted to turn over her engine.

“Are you kidding me?” I prompted, trying again and again and again as Cecilia sat quietly without a blink, a ping or so even much as a click.
AW, C’MON!!!

Suffice it to say, I’ve blissfully NOT suffered through the tragedy of losing both my Best Friend and my car in the same week.

Cecilia got herself a brand new battery, very reasonably priced and courtesy of AAA.  (Thanks Dad, for keeping me covered with the AAA card!!!)
And in hindsight, I suppose I lucked out that Cecilia chose to heave her battery’s last breath in a public parking lot where there was plenty of room to revive her!

Muddling through, as best as I can do, and really enjoying a soft clean pillow,

P.S.  I promise to post Pretty's urn when she is officially back home!  :)