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Author Archive: "Laurie Notaro"

Self-Improvement, 2006

With this, my final installment for Powells.com, I'm taking the easy way out. It's the end of my blog and the end of the year. Therefore, I spent most of last night trying to decide which things I hated most about myself, and which areas I could feasibly improve that had a relatively high success rate without the aid of a laser hair removal technician.

  • I need to start watching my Netflix movies in a more timely manner. When Netflix reports its quarterly earnings to their investors, my picture is on the cover of the little folder. "Thank you, Laurie Notaro, our Netflix Customer of the Year," I quote, "for renting a copy of Spanglish since April and not returning it even after you saw Spanglish on HBO in October. $17.95 times seven for absolutely nothing looks great on our accounts receivable page. Unless you're a corpse who's been lying on the kitchen floor, decomposing for several seasons and unable to slip the movie into its pre-sealed envelope and mail it back with unprecedented ease, we appreciate your business. You are the best customer EVER, not counting people who have been suddenly incarcerated under the Patriot Act or have slipped

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A Sad, Fat Day

A month ago, my treadmill broke. Just stopped. Unbelievably, I was on it when it lapsed into such a deep coma that I couldn't get any life signals on it at all. It wouldn't beep, wouldn't turn on, the console and the display were dead. Nothing, complete silence. It had, however, been the day I was waiting for these last five years, the day that my investment would pay off. This dead treadmill was my dream, full and bountiful and golden, come to fruition to pay me handsomely for five years of patience and five hundred dollars' worth of Sears Home Electronics warranties, as well.

As soon as the treadmill died (the miniscule amount of sweat on my brow hadn't even dried), I picked up the phone to call Sears to tell them that their treadmill was dead and that my warranty declared that someone come out and fix it. And if it couldn't be fixed, then a new one, a brand new treadmill, is delivered upon my doorstep as a reward for paying $100 a year for half a decade.

I wanted a new treadmill. Have you seen them? They have built-in fans and cup holders and fluffy shock absorbers that make climbing at a six-percent incline like walking up the cottony steps of Heaven. They even have treadmills now that you can just stand on and burn calories. So when I called Sears to claim my prize, they told me a technician would come out to repair the problem — in four weeks. By then, I assumed, I would gain enough weight to grow out of my fat clothes and take it as a personal attack when Kirstie Alley yelled from the TV during Jenny Craig commercials. "That's in a month!" I cried to the operator.

"A month is not four weeks, ma'am," the operator scolded me.

FOUR WEEKS. And then I looked at my old, dusty treadmill and agreed. I could wait for four weeks for a new treadmill. Four weeks and a brand new one, with built-in fans and the Stairway to Heaven belt, would be in its place. I waited patiently during those weeks, as I gained weight and went up a size. Had to buy new pants. Had to buy two pairs of new pants. Had to buy a skirt. And three shirts. Getting fatter. Waiting for the treadmill. Watchin' lots of TV. Started using safety pins to keep my shirts closed.

"How fat do you plan on getting?" Kirstie Alley screamed at me. "Last night your ass grew a third cheek!"

The days of the calendar finally peeled away to the day of reckoning; the day before, I started cleaning my office to get the piles of boxes and house overflow off the treadmill where they had accumulated for the past month while my body doubled and dimpled. I cleaned the dust off the treadmill belt, wiped it from the dead, lifeless console. I detailed that treadmill to show the technician how good I was to it. It took hours. Then the phone rang. It was Sears. The technician couldn't make it, so was tomorrow okay? Even though I ground my teeth (which had also gained weight) together, I wanted to appease the technician, to grease the gears, shall we say, and make him or her more favorable in granting me my precious treadmill dream. Sure, I said, I can wait one more day.

Then the hallowed day arrived. It was yesterday. The technician was supposed to arrive between one and five p.m.


The Flight Home

When traveling from Phoenix into a small town like Eugene, Oregon, the planes get small. When you're traveling around holiday time, they get even smaller, I'm guessing because the "larger" (using the term as loosely as possible; we're talking a passenger capacity of 45 as opposed to 25) jets get re-routed during the busy season.

Yesterday, when boarding our flight home, I had a feeling we'd be getting on one of the teeny planes, but I had no idea how small we were really talking until I saw open air at the end of the Jetway and a set of stairs leading down to the tarmac — because our plane wasn't even tall enough to reach the walkway. We all crammed on, all of us Fat Christmas People on a tiny plane, and that was when the symphony began. The coughing. The sneezing. The sniffling. It didn't help matters that we were leaving Arizona, the state that is currently having the worst flu outbreak in the country — so bad it was a top story on CNN's Headline News. Now, I know people have to travel and get home whether they're sick or well, and I can't argue

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Old Mill Avenue

There's nothing like going home for the holidays, especially if you're from Phoenix. The city is changing so quickly and growing so fast that not only is it a far cry from the place I grew up, it's a whole different organism from the last time I was here, six weeks ago. If you've never been to Phoenix, I've always said the closest comparison to the landscape was Iraq, but with more Starbucks. I now have to amend that statement to add that it's like Iraq, but with a sea of breast implants, more Hummers with better armor and complete assholes behind the wheel, and an occupying army of Republicans.

It is SO HOT here. It may be 83 outside, but it's always 87 inside Nana's house, where we're staying. It is so hot in her house that if you were to rotate yourself continually, in five hours, you'd be a Costco rotisserie chicken. We tried to escape by driving in our air-conditioned rental car to Tempe for lunch. We were nearing one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, which is a block away from Mill Avenue — if you've ever watched the Fiesta Bowl, you've seen Mill

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Merry, Merry, Merry

I can't remember a Christmas moment that made me wish I had pursued a path other than the one I ended up following — accounting, say, or pest extermination, or erotic dancing — than when, one by one, my mother-in-law, Linda, and my sisters-in-law, Stephanie, Heather, and Jane, each ripped open the wrapping of their gift from my father-in-law, Larry. Revealed slowly from underneath the torn paper was a ghastly sight — all of the gifts were my new book.

Although I know it was a sweet gesture on Larry's part, I was — in equal parts — mortified and horrified. For me, it sent several messages, the biggest and most noisy being that my own negligent and lazy ass had obviously not sent my in-laws copies, therefore my father-in-law was forced to buy a stack and distribute them. I, however, hold tight to the philosophy that I refuse to be a book pusher. I have known and encountered (and received books from) authors that keep cartons of stock in the trunk of their cars just in case someone expresses a flicker, even a brief fleeting one, of interest, feigned or imagined. To me, that's equivalent of

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