Thursday, February 16, 2006
I can only compare today's quest for food to the challenges faced by the hunters and gatherers of yesteryear. I woke up at 7:30am this morning to the sound of my cell phone ringing. Like Pavlov's dog I respond, but miss the call. I listen to the whispered message: "I'm in the Van Nuys jail. My name is ____ (letters spelled out and unintelligible). I need to get bailed out."
Obviously, my first thought is to whom I'd given my number to the night before. But I'd only given out my card to a budding young congressman and it doesn't have my cell number on it. Since I didn't recognize either the voice or name, I get back in bed, this time with the phone next to me. If he calls back, I want to ask him what he did.
But it's too late for me. I can't fall back asleep. I've had four hours of sleep and now possess a headache that would kill a lesser woman, but I cannot sleep. I have one of those hangovers -- the kind that are so painful that they can only be cured with sleep, only the pain is too severe to sleep. So I turn on the TV and flip back and forth between "Back to the Future" and "30 Minute Meals." This goes on for several hours.
Eventually, it becomes time for my own personal Breakfast of Champions: 3 ibuprofen and a bottle of lukewarm water. I ate some Wheat Thins and warmed a tortilla on the burner. I was in denial of the fact that I lacked the strength to cook and my only other option was to wander out into the world. How does that saying go? Starve a fever and feed a hangover? So I went. Very, very slowly.
My journey ended at the local Vons, where for some reason (that I later regretted) sushi sounded like a good idea. The only problem? It was very, very far away from the cold Gatorade. It was exceedingly painful to have to trek back and forth, but yet, I made it. You might wonder what a description of my gnarly hangover has to do with my personal journey o' self-improvement. Some would probably argue that a hangover is the antithesis of what I'm trying to accomplish, and should go unmentioned. But I disagree. My buddy Rob once said that some famous writer once said, "You should feel a little embarrassed every time you finish writing something." That's a horrible paraphrase, but I remembered it. To be honest, I feel embarrassed most every time I write, but that's mostly a result of inferior skill level and not content or style. Regardless, my hangover ties directly into February's book of the month: James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. (How do you like that "Reading Rainbow"-esque intro?)
Over the past few months, Frey has been ripped apart by the media because his memoir isn't really a memoir. The Smoking Gun was all over him. Oprah told him that he'd lied to thousands of readers. Of course, I had no interest in reading this book prior to hearing that it was chock full of lies. It wasn't until Oprah reamed Frey on national TV and I saw the book on the 20% off table at a Target in Riverside that I wanted to read it. So I did. And I liked it.
Sure, parts of the book are exceedingly melodramatic, and maybe the frequent discussion of bloody stool is a touch overdone, but that doesn't mean it's a "bad" book. Its just flawed, like any other work. Then there's that pesky little problem about calling this book a "memoir." My argument in defense of this novel (because that's really what it is) is that no one's life reads like a book. At least, not an entertaining book. He told a little white lie to get published. Does the fact that he didn't really know that dead teenage girl disqualify his description of addiction? Is his version of addiction any less horrifying because he didn't do jail time? My thoughts are this: if a guys says that he's "an Alcoholic, a drug Addict and a Criminal" -- can you really expect him to tell the truth? Shame on you for thinking he would.
I also have a confession to make. I did listen to my Milli Vanilli tapes after they were proved to be a fraud. Now I'm embarrassed.