Posted by Elliot Steingart
The summer of 2013 is a collection of meaningful memories, memories of traveling to Pittsburgh, and the Black Hills of South Dakota for friends' weddings, and such.
Pittsburgh is home, and will remain home until no one volunteers to scoop me from the airport. Zach pulls up in his Honda Ridgeline, and lets me crash on his couch for five nights. He pours me coffee in the morning until I figure out how to insert a pod into his Keurig. He takes me to Gabe's house, picks me up from the country club and makes me walk his dog, Sidney, who for some reason I call Pippin.
We stop at Zach's family run can factory where he introduces me to the 38 year old Yinzer wearing a sleaveless tank performing manual labor. “This is my buddy visiting from California who grew up here.”
“Zach's my daddy,” I tell the guy.
Zach later tells Ross that his employee thinks he's a queer.
Brad, my best friend, drove up from Virginia. I was awaiting Brad's arrival so we could run five's at the JCC hoop court. I told Brad, now a doctor, that I could use an MRI for the soreness in my leg. To which he texted me, “How about a tampon?”
I don't know what kind of medicine is prescribed down in Charlottesville, but I doubt a tampon will heal a strained calf.
I spent two nights at Brad's house to upgrade from a couch to a bed. There I met the new family dog, Bandit, a German Shepherd with two different color eyes. Brad told me that Bandit knows right from wrong, but he doesn't listen. A gate was placed so Bandit couldn't get up the steps into my bedroom. Bandit managed to leap over the gate and barged through the bedroom door throughout the night. He sat and cried. I couldn't open the door because I didn't want to wake Joan and David, Brad's parents. The next morning Bandit took a shit and later peed in my bedroom. The following day Bandit ate my socks.
Before Goldstein's wedding Joan took a picture of me and Brad outside by their fishpond. Bandit was so bad he photo-bombed the picture. When it was time to leave I said goodbye to everyone except for Bandit.
Ross didn't tell his girlfriend he was going to the wedding. It didn't make sense why, he just never did. He lied and it was too deep in to tell her the truth so he made Zach defriend his girlfriend on Facebook so she wouldn't potentially see any pictures from the wedding. Zach said that once, while rummaging through Ross's sock drawer, he found a chicken wing.
Brad, Zach, Ross and I sat with Weinberg, Weiss and Gumberg at table 7. “If I wasn't sitting at my table I would want to sit at table 7,” said Goldstein.
Who knows if he said that to table 6. Goldstein, always sincere, danced with his bride, Maggie to the Lumineers song “Ho Hey” as if entering the Color War dance competition.
Before it was time to lift Goldstein in the chair, Zach and Ross started shouting “Kah-Kah! Kah-Kah!” like the mating call of a blue bird. This was our signal to lift Goldstein, and later my own personal signal to start a mosh pit to the hit track “I Don't Care I Love It.”
I saw old friends like Ad Rock, and Rudkin and met kids who favored local pizza shop Aiello's over Mineo's, representing a new generation of misguided youth.
Uncle Steve took our family to a new diner out in Robinson Township. As a chief of the health department, he is so revered that once at PF Chang's a waiter spilled water on his pants. Moments later the manager came to our table with a brand new pair of pants, tags and all. Uncle Steve is so beloved I wouldn't be surprised if waiters tip him. I sat next to my grandpa who at 91 still tries to make a buck, however he can. At the end of the table he tried to sell me disability insurance. “You never know what will happen. It's best to be safe.”
“I'll have the sirloin,” I responded.
Uncle Steve met me for breakfast on his way to Washington D.C. It was nice spending some one on one time with him. For the first time, I paid for his meal. I now only him about $4,000 worth of food.
Before I left I spent the afternoon with my grandpa. I helped him with his computer and snapped a video asking questions about his life.
“What happened in 1948?” I asked him.
“Marc was born,” he said. “I wasn't sure whether to name him Marc or Mistake.”
Not sure if I'll see my grandpa again, but if I don't that's a great way to go out. A nice memory, one I always have when I'm in Pittsburgh seeing the my same friends and family who never change in the best possible way.
11.25.13 at 8:30 am | Learning code of conduct
10.28.13 at 9:09 am | Parents Meeting Girlfriend's Parents,and more
8.2.13 at 9:12 am | Guest blog written by my dad
7.24.13 at 9:38 am | Going home
6.25.13 at 9:36 am | The longest day of the year
5.24.13 at 11:43 am | Taking the Socks off
June 25, 2013 | 9:36 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I was surrounded by kids for an entire day. In a span of eight hours, I was kicked in the groin and nearly run over by a Fisher Price bicycle. All proof that the first day of summer is the longest day of the year.
These kids were more combative than a street gang out of “Warriors.” Before I could celebrate Aunt Barb and Uncle Larry's 65th birthday party, I would need to get past 6 year cousin Quaydu—who told me he was 7--lecturing 4 year old Zoe about “good behavior.” This coming from the little boy wearing a Darth Vader Helmet. While becoming acquainted with the chips and salsa I heard a loud shriek.
“Mommy! Mommy!” cried Zoe as she laid on the grass.
The slide fell. Quaydu blamed the mechanics.
“Quaydu pushed me,” blamed Zoe.
I wanted to believe Quaydu but he was the one who ran down the steps charging me with a plastic sword. When I checked in on Quaydu upstairs he and 3 year old cousin Tyler were jumping around on the couch. When I tried to apprehend Quaydu, he escaped from my arms climbed from the top rope and lunged at me like Diamond Dallas Page extending his elbow down to my nether regions. I flipped Quaydu over my head and onto the couch. Then another little boy who I didn't know jumped on my back.
“At least introduce yourself before you put me in a sleeper hold.” I yelled to him.
Tyler now joined his older cousin Quaydu on the top rope in a tag team scenario. Roughhousing Ari and Josh's boys is more acceptable than me spear chucking the child of someone of no relation. I gently shoved him off the couch.
Wiping off sweat, in rushed in Zoe. “Mommy! Mommy!”
“Yes?” asked Laurie, her mother.
“Quaydu gave me chocolate.”
Smooth move by Quaydu. That's only a move you can get away with when you are 6 (turning 7). If you are a grown man you can not rough up a lady than give her a piece of chocolate and expect things to be okay.
I was glad to hear Josh's voice summoning me from the pool up to the balcony saving me the swarm of baby boomers dancing poolside. Josh's boys Tyler and Jake were drag racing tricycles. Trying to have a conversation with my older cousin Josh put me in a game of chicken with his boys. Tyler, at 3 years old, gave me a big hug. That's all he could do after I blocked him en route to the jacuzzi. 2 year old Jake veered past me. Tyler set the pick and Jake rolled until he got stuck near the jacuzzi and I had to let him free.
“I don't want to go back to Boulder,” Tyler confessed.
The sweet hearted cyclist now posed for a picture with his young brother, Jake.
Jake doesn't quite now how to talk, but he mumbles well enough to get by. Of all his words throughout the day, the only one I could make out was “fireman.” He and Tyler are both obsessed with firemen. Aunt Barb and Uncle Larry's friend, Joe whose arm was held by a sling, is a fire chief.
“Jake. Tyler. You see, Joe?” said Abby, Josh's wife. “Joe, is a fireman.”
Jake and Tyler looked up to Fireman Joe how at the age of 14 I looked up at Chris Rock when I met him at Stand Up New York. He was a real life hero.
“Do you know where to find the hose?” asked Tyler.
“Yes, and next time you are in town I will take you on the fire truck.” said Joe.
Joe would have really proved himself a hero if he could put these kids to bed. Quaydu and Zoe wanted to watch “A Bugs Life.” Tyler claimed he wasn't tired. Jake cried. It was a group effort to convince these kids it was bed time. Ari took Quaydu and Zoe into the other room. My dad read a bedtime story to Tyler. And Abby put Jake's bed in the bathroom. Everything worked except putting Jake's bed in the bathroom. He continued to cry. I can't blame him. I would cry too if I had to sleep in the bathroom.
Once the kids were put to bed Aunt Barb opened presents. The kids tired us out until I heard that Aunt Barb and Uncle Larry received a gift card from Leslie and Shlomo! I started laughing like a child.
"I need a friend named Shlomo to buy me a gift card." I said.
I was then put in the bathroom.
April 22, 2013 | 11:10 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Written by my girlfriend, Liv Amend
Elliot and I decided to embark on a romantic getaway for our one year anniversary. I was actually embarrassed when I told people. Friends and family were curious “Why are you going to Long Beach?”
I didn’t want to say it was because the Hyatt in Redondo was triple the price so I justified it with “They have an aquarium there.”
That seemed to appease them, but I still felt judgment. Sadly, I judged myself when we arrived and the classy Hyatt was right next door to a Hooters and arcade/bowling alley. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I told Elliot he was in charge of negotiating with the front desk for an upgrade. I thought he would ask for a large suite or a beautiful ocean view. My boyfriend asked for a room with a bathtub.
I am a woman obsessed with plans, but my boyfriend is more the fly by the seat of your pants type. Even a year later, we “play it by ear.” I really wanted to visit the aquarium. Elliot was staunchly against the aquarium—because he said kids and strollers and crowds would be too much for him to handle. He said he wanted to go bowling or play at an arcade as if there wouldn’t be any kids or strollers there. Elliot also kept talking about ice skating which caused many pouty looks from my direction. We ended up wandering around with me in a huff for 40 minutes until we decided on beers at a nice bar with outdoor seating at Belmont Shores. The alcohol appeased my need to see sting rays and fish.
We needed to find a place to have a romantic dinner so we decided on a upscale pizza place with trays of meats and cheeses. It was a delicious meal we enjoyed as the sun set over the pier. Elliot normally doesn't like waiters, but he got along with this one, a young man who looked like a chill hipster with Ray Ban like glasses and a beard. The waiter really scored points when he suggested a margheretta pizza we both enjoyed, though he suggested we get it without cutting it to preserve the flavor. I asked him to cut the pizza. We ordered desert and toasted to one year on what seemed like a romantic evening. Little did I know what Long Beach locals had in store for me later. On the walk home I realized that I was not in Kansas anymore. Downtown Long Beach had a lot of very interesting people.
One woman started talking to me very close. “Excuse me, excuse me,” she said in a high pitched voice.
I usually smile at the homeless and nod my head, but in this moment I was so confused, I ignored her. What happened next troubled me for the rest of the night, the woman started yelling expletives in my direction.
I am used to characters, in fact the week before I had been chased by a man dressed as a pirate in Downtown LA but this woman was so aggressive. I clutched Elliot closer hoping he would protect me but he seemed unscathed. I also was wearing 4 inch heels making me approximately 5 inches taller than my boyfriend, which didn’t make me feel safe at all. Not five minutes later a young woman on a bike asked me “Miss do you have any change?”
I made sure to respond, nodding my head no with a huge smile. All of a sudden, a man on a bike swooped by and screamed “Liar.”
That was it, I had had it. Our one year celebration had to come to an end. I made my boyfriend escort me back to the hotel bar and finally to our room. The 10 o clock hour found us drifting off to Dateline NBC in the hotel room.
I had expected our one year to be candlelit, sexy and romantic. I got my rude awakening the next day when I was shuttled home early so I could help Elliot move all his stuff into a new apartment. By Sunday evening I felt like I deserved an award for being the best girlfriend in the world. The award was a frozen dinner and a toast "To our one year." It’s nice to know we will always have Long Beach.
April 12, 2013 | 11:23 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I made a new friend. His name is Jose Luis. I knew he was my friend as soon as he said "Hello, my friend."
Jose Luis helped me move my bed, kitchen table and love seat into my new apartment down the hall from where I used to live. He also mounted my TV. My girlfriend led the moving process by performing laundry, cleaning, organizing closets, and putting away my seasoning salts. She was jealous that I gave Jose Luis all the credit on Twitter. It's no slight on her part, but he is my friend.
Jose Luis is a contractor and handy man for my building. He is 61 years old and has two boys. "I've worked here many years. Everyone I work with is for a long time. They trust me. I don't steal. I work hard." He told me.
Before moving in pink wall paper lined the walls, brown carpet touched the floors, and "Mad Men" era appliances occupied the kitchen.Then in came Jose Luis ripping the carpet, laying down hardwood floors, sanding cabinets, installing new tiles. The old apartment died along with the tenant who once called it home. Jose Luis was the executioner.
"I respect your talent," I told Jose Luis. "I don't have the skills you have."
"It comes easy," he said drilling his power tool into the wall. "I love what I do. I put my heart into it."
I visited my old apartment where I still needed to remove the mirrors that became stuck on my wall. I walked in and the mirrors sat on the floor.
"Jose Luis, how'd you do it?"
"I used a spatula." he said.
"That's amazing. I didn't think I would be able to get them down."
I told Jose Luis the story about when I first moved in and my mom stayed the night. The mirrors were not sticking and in the middle of the night one of the mirrors above the bed fell straight down and nearly sliced my mom's head open. Jose Luis recalled the time he almost fell into a fireplace during the Northridge earthquake.
Settling into the new apartment I made a list of small repairs for Jose Luis. I needed a deadbolt and new drain in the bathtub. Jose Luis installed a new ceiling fan and patched one of the tiles. He fixed things I didn't even think needed a fix. He's a fixer.
His wife, Ruth who is also a carpenter and did most of the work with him, does not speak as good of English. She came into my apartment when I was in the bathtub. My girlfriend told her to come back another time. When she came back I told her how impressed I was with the work of Jose Luis.
"How long have you been married?" I asked.
"We're not married." she said.
I wanted to see who makes the repairs in their house. Now I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to break the news to my friend that he is not married to his wife.
"He's my boyfriend," she said.
"Okay, good." I replied. I was glad because I saw him touch her butt.
I asked my girlfriend if I should write Jose Luis a thank you note for all his help. "It's his job," she explained.
It wasn't his job to be my amigo.
March 25, 2013 | 1:39 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
With each passing day my hair gets grayer and my jokes, cornier. I accept this transformation as an inevitable fact of life. I'm slowly turning into my father. Spending time with my dad is a study in who I will become.
I waited for my dad to come out of the bathroom at a local coffee shop. He was in there so long my coffee turned decafeinnated. All I could hear was the steady hum of the hand dryer.
“What took you so long?” I asked
“I had to dry my hands,” he said.
Most people can poop in less than time than it takes my dad to dry his hands. Forget if a line is formed to use the one stall bathroom. They will wait for my dad to blow dry his hands. Then they will wait for my dad to figure out where to return the bathroom key.
We sat on bench outside the coffee shop smiling at a Boston Terrier. My dad stood up and extended his espresso underneath the Boston Terrier's nose.
“Want some coffee?” he asked.
The dog's owner looked up at my dad. His eyes modeled his dog's, big and brown, nearly forming an underbite of his own. “Dogs don't need caffeine,” he barked at my dad.
Back home my mom and I sat watching “We Bought a Zoo.” During the film's emotional climax when Matt Damon's son pleads for his father's love, my dad interrupts the scene to share that “The peppermill was invented in 1842” along with other tidbits from a forwarded email.
“We are trying to watch the movie,” I told him politely.
When Matt Damon finally saved the zoo I learned that my dad earned 19 points in Words with Friends.
My parents friends Suzie and Steve came over for a drink before dinner. My dad prepared his signature dirty martinis with a splash of lime juice and poured Steve a shot of Patron Silver. Earlier in the day I gave the bottle to my dad.
“Is Patron Silver any good?” I asked.
“It's shit,” he said. “Anejo is the good one.”
“You're welcome,” I said.
Steve enjoyed the Patron, at least. We finished our drinks, and put on our coats to walk outside. “I'm going to pull out,” shared my dad. “I should have done that 30 years ago,” he added.
At the African restaurant my dad ordered the appetizers. All at the table expressed interest in the Samosas.
“How big are the somosas?” I asked.
The waiter signaled with his hands the same signal that is used to describe someone with a small penis. “Only this big,” he said.
“Ok, let's order two for the table,” my dad told the waiter.
In this scenario the five of us would each get one corner of a three inch somosa. Even the waiter laughed. We finished all ten somosas that we ordered.
At breakfast I asked my dad about which of his new friends he likes the best. He likes Steve because he likes to drink and he likes Richard because he likes opera and computers. I wonder what Steve and Richard say about my dad.
"I like Marc because he feeds Boston Terriers espresso."
March 8, 2013 | 3:59 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I am moving down the hall into the apartment of a 91 year old woman who recently passed away. I am sad she died, but it was for a good cause.
My landlord told me she lived in the unit for 30 years.
"She had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital,” my landlord told me.
“Oh,” I said. “I’m sorry to hear that. I used to see her in the hall.”
I would hold the door open for her and she would glare at me. One time a Mercedes filled with old ladies dropped her off. She looked happy as she waved goodbye. When she saw me she made a face because I took too long to find my key to open the door.
“Yes, life happens,” said my landlord. “What can ya do?”
What could I do, but ask about a dishwasher.
“Yes, all new appliances,” she said.
She was not ready to show me the unit because her family needed time to clear out her belongings. I know it was hard for my mom and my aunt to clear out my grandma’s apartment after she died. It was nice of management to allow the extra time. More time for them to clean.
I haven’t told the guy who lives next door that I am moving in. I saw him in the elevator on New Year’s Eve bundled up in warm clothes.
“What do you have planned for the big night?” I asked holding my girlfriend’s hand.
“I’m going to the beach and taking some time to reflect.”
I still don't know what to say to him. I'll think of something once I move in. With my neighbors, I usually go with "shhh."
Moving into a one bedroom will make a difference in my relationship. A studio apartment gets hard for us. When we get in a fight there are barely enough doors to slam.
It's a little weird for me to know the person who lived there probably died there. I guess you have to die somewhere. It's also weird someone will move into my apartment. Yes, it's small, but it's a good unit with lots of nice memories over the past year--the time my mom wanted to know why I was hanging mirrors over my bed, the time the mirror almost fell on my mom, etc.
Though it would be fun to see how the next tenant redecorates my old place, I'm not going to be the guy who knocks on the door, like a cocky sophomore visiting his freshman dorm. Let's hope the same goes for the dead lady. May her spirit rid itself quickly. Spirit Clear.
March 1, 2013 | 2:25 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I am obsessed with names. Since 8th grade I have kept a Great Name List; a partial list is here: http://greatnamelist.wordpress.com/
Most of the names on the list are hockey stars like Alex Pietrengelo, Marty St. Louis, Corey Conacher, the Canisius College, Golden Griffin. I enjoy repeating names and using various intonations when I pronounce a great name like Jason POMINville, or Pat LAAAAFontaine!
Most of the time it is obvious why a name is great. Take Gil Garcetti, for example. There is a bold, alliterative power to the name Gil Garcetti. He sounds like someone who would put you behind bars which he did a lot of as Los Angeles’ 40th District Attorney. Gil has a son named Eric Garcetti who is running for mayor of Los Angeles.
To go along with his great name, Mr. Garcetti has the clean cut Danny Tanner like image well suited for a mayoral candidate. For the last twelve years Eric Garcetti has served on the LA City Council, spending six of those years as city council president. Representing District 13, Garcetti has helped clean up parts of Hollywood and revitalize East Side neighborhoods like Echo Park and Atwater Village.
I walk down Los Feliz streets like Commonwealth and Talmadge and see the light blue “Eric Garcetti for Mayor” lawn signs. People with lawns support Eric Garcetti as do many others, like the Armenian National Committee of America—Western Region, the Honorable, Dikran Tevrizian, and Jimmy Kimmel. Despite these ringing endorsements and the support of the LA Times, Garcetti has his detractors.
Garcetti is embroiled in allegations that his family’s financial connections in a Beverly Hills oil drilling scandal have jeopardized the well being of neighborhood children. Others say the council president is partially to blame for Los Angeles’s current fiscal troubles. My own Aunt Janice in a recent email told me to vote for Wendy Greuel. HATERS!!
As the LA Times points out, Garcetti might not be the perfect candidate, but his political experience and suave deal making position him as the front runner. I stand with Garcetti in support for extending Metro rails to the West Side, building a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles and creating new tech jobs in Silicon Beach.
I am endorsing Eric Garcetti so the name Garcetti remains relevant long after his time as mayor. If Tom Bradley has his own terminal at LAX, Eric Garcetti needs a terminal at Burbank. We could easily transform The Getty Center into the Garcetti Center. First, let's elect Eric Garcetti mayor.
February 22, 2013 | 3:36 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Due to stress, I can’t fall asleep. I don’t want to use Ambien, Melatonin, or alcohol to put me out. I’m counting on a mantra.
Repeating a mantra is a helpful way to gain inner peace. I use a mantra when running up a challenging hill in the neighborhood. Battling exhaustion I repeat to myself, “Los, Los Feliz. Los, Los Feliz. Los, Los Feliz.”
I repeat this over and over again until conquering the hill. It’s also helpful other times. I whistle the mantra on the way to Coffee Bean. I try to stay loyal to this mantra, but occasionally during sex I repeat “Go, Go, Go.” When that doesn’t work I revert back to “Los, Los Feliz. Los, Los Feliz.”
Strangely, my Los Feliz mantra does not work for sleep even though I sleep in Los Feliz. Not knowing where to turn I asked my father for advice who imparted the following nugget: “Whenever you want to stop thinking say to yourself ‘STOP THOUGHT’.”
“STOP THOUGHT” works if you have only one thought. I have too many thoughts to stop. Once one thought is stopped another appears.
I told him, “STOP THOUGHT” doesn’t work. I could sense his disappointment.
“Turn off the TV before bed. Don’t play on your cell phone. Don’t eat before bed.” He advised.
That eliminates my entire pre-bedtime routine. I need a mantra that is more forgiving.
I was up late thinking about work. I heard rumblings that my job would change. I considered every scenario and how my new role would impact my day to day. I visualized my outlook calendar and thought about how I could better delete my junk mail. “STOP THOUGHT” I shouted in my head, to no avail. With nowhere else to turn I tossed and turned, pulling half the sheets away from my girlfriend.
“MIND CLEAR!” I demanded.
More thoughts entered my mind. Why can’t I sleep? I’ve been doing this for 28 years. Shouldn’t I have this down?
“MIND CLEAR!” I demanded again. Because all my thoughts were focused elsewhere I didn’t quite realize what had happened. It struck me. I developed a new mantra. It didn’t work, but I was that much closer.
I asked my mom if she ever used a mantra. “I have one,” she said.
I was relieved to hear. “Great.” I said. “What is it?”
“I’m not telling. It’s personal.”
Even my own mother doesn’t care if I sleep at night. I don’t need her mantra, whatever it is. I’m guessing “QUINOA. ”It’s only a matter of time before “MIND CLEAR” works. When it does it would be great if this mantra could remove other things I don’t like student loans and Chris Brown.
Taking a hot bath at night and cutting out pretzels in bed is helping. There is no need to think about work in bed. I'm there 40 hours a week. I don't need to be there another 40. I will find a mantra. I'll let you know when I do.