I can see clearly now

I opened the sunroof on the car the other day. It was one of those perfect pre-Spring moments, when the sun feels as it should, breathing the air is inviting rather than painful, and winter anguish has melted away to reveal potential.

That was, of course, before this Midwestern pit of despair reared its desperate little head and dumped several gallons of chilly rain on us. No matter, though. The thaw lasted long enough to prompt my guy and I to head out for our first margaritas of the season and spend the remainder of the night hillbilly-style, camped out in lawn chairs on our driveway.

I’ve even gone so far as to break out the open-toed heels to welcome the new season. Perhaps it’s a bit premature, but frigid pools of icy run-off be damned! I’ll break these suckers in before the book tour hits Las Vegas (27 days and counting!) if it kills me, or hypothermia sets in, whichever comes first.

It’s safe to say that the impending change of season has allowed giddiness to usurp my usual stabbiness for the time, and all I can say is – it’s about damn time. When I find myself Googling phrases like, “alternative uses for piano wire” and “what does lime do to a corpse” I know winter has gone on too long.

Fortunately, there are enough diversions and amusements during the days now to keep my wacky, “All work and no play make Juliette a dull girl” self at bay.

For example, three things that made me happy this weekend:

1. Stringing my guy’s bass unsupervised.
The key word being, of course, “unsupervised.” Deep down I know there are space chimps that could likely string a bass as well as I do, but I still get a thrill from being entrusted with the responsibility. I’ve even gotten good enough at it that my guy can hand me a pack of strings, walk away, and return to a perfectly strung bass. Of course, I might have downloaded a gig-worth of “bass teching for idiots” iphone aps, just to confirm I don’t break anything in the process, but my guy never needs to know about that.

2. Belting out backing vocals for my guy’s band in the studio.
When I accompanied my guy to the recording studio to watch his band record a track for the NHRA, the last thing I expected was to be tossed in the vocal aquarium. My tinny little voice is just one on many, many layers of phrases like “hot rod, hot,” but for a few minutes, I got to pretend I was a musician. There’s a “Yoko” warning light flashing somewhere, but I’m choosing to ignore it.

3. Free wine.
The only way to top off a nightcap of truffles and chocolate covered strawberries? A free bottle of wine from a friendly bartender at the best local winery in Illinois.

It’s good to have the alcohol on hand, actually, seeing as how I still need to prepare my talk for my next book reading/signing. I’m breaking with tradition and NOT actually reading from my book, but instead sharing stories from rock n’ roll past. Shameless plug: Don’t miss it! March 20, 2pm at Borders in Oak Brook.

After that, it’s on to Barnes & Noble in Vegas in April, movies at the drive-in, betting on horses at Arlington, and whatever else Spring may bring.

New review

Hey all,

A KILLER review of Morning Neurosis was just posted on goodreads.com – it’s the kind of review that makes me think, maybe – just maybe – I may someday be a good as Bukowski.

And hey – don’t miss me on my book tour! I’ll be at Borders in Oak Brook (IL) on March 20 at 2pm and Barnes & Noble Las Vegas (on Maryland Parkway) on April 11 at 7pm.

Review by Emily

Morning Neurosis is the rawest most real thing I have read in awhile. This biography/autobiography/memoir that is lightly fictionalized honestly sums up the inner workings of most 20-something women at some point in their life. Juliette Miranda’s first book had me nodding and agreeing so much with her thoughts, and we are in no other way alike besides the sharing of our female parts.

The book begins with Miranda having to make the tough decision to give up her LA fantasy life and move back home to Chicago for a paycheck. She has to take a job she despises, but with the economy, she lacks better options.

Miranda has a sea of former musicians for lovers and friends who are always popping back up in her life. The book describes them and she has attributed nicknames to each of them. She is a self-described rock slut and has many tales to back up her claims. The book jumps around a lot and I think that keeps it interesting. Much like this review. Ha ha.

Soon after returning to Chicago, Miranda meets Jon, another musician who really isn’t like the other musicians she tells him because he has a “real job” too. By the end of the book though, I would like to say that I think Jon was just like the other musicians with just as much baggage. Just better packaging skills.

The majority of the book follows the dysfunctional relationship Miranda forges with Jon and the many neuroses that come with being in a relationship and being female. I think women are forever questioning themselves and ever so passive aggressive in new relationships because we don’t want to screw them up and we don’t want to be tooo out there and we don’t want to be shot down. I know, I cannot be the only one to relate to the constant worrying that Miranda describes.

She does have a VERY smart friend named Dan who always talks sense and tells her the truth and great advice, even if she doesn’t always listen or follow through. I think we all have a friend like that, even when we hate them for being correct.

I would have to say that I liked this book way more than I ever intended on liking it, because originally I thought I wouldn’t relate and it would just be a quick fun read. Quick it was, but wow, very insightful. Miranda is hilarious, real , and hooks you in. Can’t wait to read what she writes next.

Something is coming for you

(A retelling of one of my favorite childhood memories…)

There seems to be an inexplicable culture shift within the townhouse community where my guy and I reside. It’s a Slums of Beverly Hills kind of shift, where our good zip code is hovering closer and closer to a suburban wasteland of sloth and white-collar carnage.

Flower beds and raincoat-bedazzled plaster geese have given way to full trash cans “stored” at the edge of driveways and residual Halloween decorations left ready to ripen in the spring sun. An unnerving number of unmarked utility vans now crowd the street, and just the other day our recycling bin was stolen. I doubt it will be used for its intended purpose.

Mail service and UPS have also given up on our patch of receding affluence. I’ve been contacted by multiple entities for having mail returned as “undeliverable” despite my perfectly functional mailbox, and UPS, when they show up at all, tend to toss packages from their still moving trucks rather than collecting a signature at the front door.

Recently, in fact, my guy stumbled across two sizeable boxes UPS delivered to the middle of our driveway. Neither was for us; they were actually addressed to a house on the other side of our complex. But rather than making the block-long walk to bring the packages to the correct address, we kicked them into our garage and forgot about them for a few days. (I never said we were pillars of the community.)

My upbringing eventually got the best of me though, and one afternoon I decided we’d sat on the boxes long enough. Being a curious kinda chick, I couldn’t just drop the boxes on the appropriate doorstep though – I had to read the return address first:

Firechemicals dot com.

Fire chemicals? We have enough problems with bin nabbers and religious zealots in our ‘hood, the last thing we need is an arsonist.

Still, for as much as I was inclined to call a moving company right then, I was just as overwhelmed by the conflicting realization that this must have been exactly how my neighbors felt everyday living next door to my family when I was growing up.

We all knew my dad was a bit of an eccentric – that much was obvious by his job title alone. “Physicist” stood out amongst the doctors, salesmen and managers in a fuzzy, intimidating sort of way, and my dad certainly did everything possible to spark the distinction.

Where neighbors put jack-o-lanterns in their front windows on Halloween, my dad displayed his homemade Tesla coil. When fathers took their children to parks and mini golf courses, my dad took me to the drag strip and fossil digs with the Field Museum. And where any other rational person would call an exterminator, my dad mixed his own homemade dynamite.

If nothing else, my dad always knew how to deliver a solution. My neighbors just should have known better than to go looking for one when my dad was around. In all fairness, they did have a very large, and very active hornet nest in their shrubbery, and after getting stung repeatedly while walking from the front door to their car, complaining about it to a sympathetic neighbor was appropriate.

My dad just happened to take their problem as a personal challenge, and after vanishing into his workshop, emerged a half hour later wearing a camouflage jumpsuit and crash helmet. My dad never was in the military, and I never did get a satisfactory explanation where he acquired such a jumpsuit, but then again, I also never got an explanation on how he found the chemicals to create the giant dynamite tube he carried in his left hand. (It’s probably a good thing the internet didn’t exist then.)

Our “block” wasn’t so much a block as it was a dead end strip of land they just happened to build a few houses on, so it didn’t take much excitement to lure all the neighbors to the street. Kids and parents amassed for our wacky block party of the damned, and gave a collective gasp to see my dad unearth and light a flare from a tool box in the garage.

“You all need to stand back! Clear the way!”

I knew enough to heed the warning, but the others crept in closer as dad circled the hornet nest. Sensing imminent danger, the winged creatures mobilized into attack formation. Dad dodged the angry buzzing and in one fluid movement jammed the dynamite into the nest while simultaneously lighting it with the flare.

And then he ran.

He ran past the nest, past the neighbors on the edge of the driveway, and all the way down the street before bracing himself behind a willow tree. I’ve since heard plenty of loud noises – quarry blasting, buildings collapsing, the wail my mother made when I told her I was moving to Los Angeles to work in the music industry – but none will burst quite as loud in my memory as the sound that dynamite made when it blew up the hornet nest and the entire shrub it was housed in.

Problem solved.

It seems to me that a few well-placed explosives would make a considerable improvement in my neighborhood now. And with that in mind, I have collected the suspicious boxes and made a very special delivery.

I have a feeling it’s going to be an interesting summer around here.

Next Book Tour Stop: Oak Brook!

Hey all –

My book tour is returning to the Chicago-area – I’ll be reading and signing books at the Oak Brook Borders Book Store. Details below:

Date: Saturday, March 20
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.

Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=333627072385&ref=nf

Even if you’ve already bought a book or come to a previous singing, you won’t want to miss this one! I’ve got tons of new stories to share, and plenty of ways to absolutely ROCK this bookstore. Feel free to share the Facebook event invite, too!

Hope to see you there!

(Another) Open letter to Bon Jovi

Dear Jon, Ritchie, David and Tico:

I’m curious: Have any of you seen the movie Almost Famous? I only ask because there’s a line in the film that reminded me of you today. Perhaps you know it: As I recall, the Lester Bangs character says to the naïve William Miller, “…They will ruin rock n’ roll and strangle everything we love about it.”

Even out of context the line has resonance. But don’t worry, I’m not about to accuse you of ruining rock n’ roll – though I’m sure there are those who would, particularly after listening to your new album.

It’s just that quote was the only thing I could think of when I read the announcement of your Livin on a Prayer contest today.

Now, you know, of course, that I consider myself to be a fan of the band. I said as much to you back when you were on the These Days tour, and you graciously allowed a small-time writer to interview you. (Side note to Tico: you’re a dick.)

Your music has been such a significant component of my life that I’ve incorporated stories about it into my book tour. (Speaking of which, would it kill you to buy a copy of my book? I mention you in it, and for all the cash I’ve dropped over the past 22 years on your music and shows, I don’t think throwing a girl fifteen bucks in support is too much to ask.)

My guy even purchased the “Livin on a Prayer” gold record single as a Christmas present for me; that’s how much I love that song.

Obviously, I’m not alone in my appreciation of it. Which I suppose is why you’ve made it the cornerstone of this little contest you have running. I guess if I were still 12 years-old I’d think it was a cute idea, encouraging fans to record themselves performing “Livin on a Prayer” for the chance to be shown on a jumbotron during the hometown show you play.

Really guys, I’m not 12 anymore. I don’t need to see my face looking back at me while you play a song; hearing my inner thoughts come through your lyrics was what drew me to the band in the first place.

But that’s not what bothers me in all this; it’s the fact that your machine is churning out such poor music now that you have to blatantly whore out material written in 1986 to get people interested in the new tour.

Sure, your corporate entity could argue that this contest is a chance for your fans to connect with you, but I don’t buy it. If you really wanted this to be an opportunity to connect with your fans, you wouldn’t be showing the winning video clips on the jumbotron while you play; you’d invite the winning fans to join you on stage.

And that might have actually been enough to get me interested in your contest, were I interested in your music now.

Your pretty hairdo and white teeth (seriously Jon, layoff the whitener – your freaking teeth glow in the dark ) combined with rigid overproduction and lazy hooks does not add up to an album worth listening to.

I remain your fan, Bon Jovi, but do not expect me to sing along unconditionally. I demand more from the music I love. I’m hoping you will, too.

Hoping to see you on the rebound,

First 2010 Book Tour Date Announced!

Hey all –

Come find out why Chicago’s Daily Herald calls my book tour “rowdier than the typical literary event”!

I’ll be sharing stories, reading, and signing copies of my hit memoir Morning Neurosis at the Barnes & Noble in… Las Vegas!!!!

Date: Sunday, April 11, 2010
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Location: Barnes & Noble 3860 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV

Don’t miss this hot stop on the Morning Neurosis rock n’ roll book tour! I’ll be announcing more tour dates soon.


You look happy to meet me

Funny thing I’ve come to discover recently: love of music does not necessarily equal aptitude for it. This really shouldn’t be a revelation for me considering the number of hair bands I’ve been forced to work with in my career, but when the musical instrument is actually in my own hands, the reality sets in.

Something has possessed my guy to attempt to teach me “I Love Rock n’ Roll” on bass. I’m tempted to attribute it to a severe case of cabin fever, because frankly, my guy is normally quite sensible. But it is winter, we’ve been snowed in for many long weekends, and Netflix can only deliver movies so fast.

I think, too, that my success as my guy’s bass tech has made us more inclined to toss common sense out the window. It’s been more than a year since I’ve had the role of stringing and tuning and adjusting, and it’s gone rather well, at least in that I’ve lost my fear of actually picking up his prized bass guitars and managed to commit “Every Asshole Does Good” to memory.

And I do love music. My guy knows this, and really does mean well in his efforts – he’s always ready to help me accomplish anything – but I’m afraid my musical talent resides somewhere short of Milli Vanilli.

History should really have been the first thing I considered before I took my guy’s suggestion seriously. All I could envision was how cute I’d look with his bass strapped on, and how much I’d enjoy the applause I’d receive when I made my debut at the weekly “Jam With the Band” night at a local bar.

Had I any sense at all, the image that should have danced through my head would have been my very first musical performance at age 8. My had parents shelled out a small fortune to foster my burgeoning love of music by hiring a piano instructor, and for one year I dutifully visited with her for an hour every week.

She instilled me with a few basics – scales, rudimentary Christmas carols, the ability to locate middle C – but never seemed particularly equipped to handle a rambunctious kid who was more interested in instant gratification than practice.

Leave it to me, too, to go to her wanting to learn songs that weren’t exactly designed for the piano. Where she came at me with “The Entertainer” and “Ode to Joy”, I responded with “Ghostbusters” and “Like A Virgin”. Our compromise was the showtune “Edelweiss” from Sound of Music. It really was more about what she wanted to teach me of course, especially since the song was meant for me to perform at her student showcase.

It was actually something of a grand event, all her students, their families and her employers gathered in an auditorium for several hours of amateur instrument maceration. Even in the best of circumstances – with a talented instructor and kids who care – these things never go entirely well. There’s always some child who winds up peeing on the piano bench, or another puking in the wings, but you participate anyway in some grand scheme of personal growth or the promise of ice cream afterwards.

We were scheduled to perform that day by level, and my time slot was 3:07 p.m., somewhere between the special ed students and Kat, a girl from my grade school who knew the entire catalog of Franz Liszt but was generally unliked because she kept an arsenal of empty milk cartons in her desk and rewore her gym socks.

We all formed a line in the backstage area of the auditorium, the volunteers likely figuring we were too stupid to look at a clock to know when we were due to perform. Standing in line immediately behind me was a boy I’d seen one or two times before, usually leaving the practice studio as I came in. He looked just like Arnold from Different Strokes, and it was a time when my telling him so wouldn’t earn me a shanking.

“Yeah, everyone tells me that,” he said. “But I really want to be a Jedi.”

Fair enough; I was more inclined to want to be Madonna, but he seemed nice enough. We chatted generally about action figures and cartoons until it was my time to take the stage. He smiled at me as I was about to walk out, then whispered, “You’re gonna mess up! You’re gonna mess up!”

I might not have been much of a Star Wars fan, but even I knew that kind of behavior was most definitely NOT using the Force. And as I sat down at the bench and opened my sheet music, the deranged little Ewok stood in the wings and watched.

The introduction to “Edelweiss” went well enough, and I actually managed to bang through the first verse and chorus, but when I hit the bridge, I also hit a wall. I lost my place and stopped dead.

There was no specific action that really threw me off my game, just knowing that Arnold was in the wings likely thinking “I told you so!” and that my poor family was out in the audience and probably looking for a refund was more than enough to mess with my head.

Several long moments passed as I fumbled with my sheet music. It was all for show, really, I’d never actually figured out how to read it. My instructor’s sorry attempts to teach me site reading had never amounted to much; I mostly wrote all the notes in or memorized my finger placement, as I had with “Edelweiss.”

Arnold was grinning at me in the wings, and I knew I had two options: kick the bench back and punch the jerk, or get it together and finish the stupid song I never really liked to begin with.

My teachers throughout grade school were perpetually right: I was definitely “mature for my age”, and elected to not win with my fists. Of course, in order to do that I had to mentally play “Edelweiss” in its entirety in my head before I could pick up where I left off, which gave the audience another minute and a half to stare at my profile and wonder if I’d missed the short bus that day.

I ultimately finished the song without crying, puking or peeing and left the stage to a smattering of sympathetic applause. Arnold followed right on my heels and launched into the opening theme from Star Wars. The little fucker nailed it.

My parents were generous with their praise after the recital, and repeated just how proud they were of me for getting up there in the first place. When I told them about Arnold, my dad, who could always be counted on for his complete lack of propriety, said:

“Never trust a kid who looks like Gary Coleman.”

Words of wisdom, dad, thanks.

So now I’ve taken up a new instrument and new recital to conquer, and after all the practicing and patience from my guy, my fingers are crossed that whenever I finally work up the nerve to play with our friends’ band in public, I won’t cross paths with another Star Wars fan.

I am the brain, some say insane

Time Magazine has released a 25 Best Blogs of 2009 list.

I, of course, am not on it. It’s my own fault really; I’ve steadfastly refused to play nice in the proverbial sandbox since my start as a blogger years ago. And that’s fine, especially considering that I appear to lack every single aspect from the blogosphere’s top elements for relevance.

Case in point: in 2009, I:

1) Did not get pregnant, give birth, or become a parent. It seems as though every chick who has gotten knocked up fancies herself a writer these days. Belching out children is amusing enough I suppose, and yay them for that whole launching a new life thing and all, I’m just not convinced all these blathering “momversations” make for anything other than weathered cautionary tales. A chick like me can only read so many botched episiotomy stories, excruciating toilet training soliloquies, and “vaccinations equal retardation” arguments before she logs off permanently and schedules an emergency appointment to double her birth control.

2) Could not name a single prime time network TV show. Oh, I’m not so pretentious as to claim I didn’t watch any television – I caught episodes of Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm whenever I could, I just (wrongly) assumed that they mean nothing. Silly me. If Time believes that recounting the plotlines of television shows (written by someone other than the blogger) makes for a stellar blog, who am I to fight it? Perhaps in the new year I will begin documenting every single episode of Man Vs. Food until I see the one I crave, where what’s-his-name finally succumbs to the ultimate competitor: his heart.

3) Failed to appropriately comment on the economy, politics, and celebrities. Name dropping, be it celebrity, cultural event or news story, seems to be the biggest blog seller on the Internet. It’s always been my policy to opine only when I have an actual story to tell, and since the online world seems to think in 180 characters or less, I fear it may be time I rethink my writing. Instead of relating the story about how I was nearly run over when an overly self important musician darted into his awaiting limo and sped away, rather than saying hello to the only two people waiting in the backstage alley for him, I should instead just write, “Davy Jones is a gay, douche nozzle, ass monster.”

4) Refused to link to other blogs, articles and web sites. According to Time, to be a “best” blog, one need not have original content. All one needs to do is create a dumping ground of links to other sites. I can have shiny object mentality, too – and swear to soon create my own “Links Not Language” blog.

5) Avoided interaction in comment forums. The real content of a blog isn’t so much in its posts, but in the comments people leave about them. That’s where a blogger can really flex her writing muscles: nothing says “future Pulitzer winner” like a two-paragraph tirade that includes gems such as, “U R a donkey sucking hoze beast thats’ goin to hell. I don’t start shit on boards but ur too stupid to know it.” Sadly, my fondness for punctuation, grammar and not verbing letters or numerals would brand me a “noob” the second I poked my nose into any comment forum – I’m best leaving that to the professionals.

I suppose I’m coming off as a bitter writer throwing sour grapes, and I’ll admit it: I am. Half the blogs on Time’s list weren’t even blogs by the traditional “web journal” definition, but repositories of random links and jabber-inducing headlines by people who are too cheap to dish out the six bucks a month for a real website.

Therefore, my allegiance is officially being thrown in with all the real writers of the world, who also happen to maintain blogs – we may not post often, we may never be able to tell you all the nominees for Grammys or Oscars or Heismans, and we will only flame you for misusing an apostrophe, but you can always count on every word being crafted carefully and with complete dedication to our story, whatever it may be.

And just to ensure Time and all their “best blogs” get my point, I’ll just sum it up in 180 characters or less: suck it, ass monsters.

PS – New blog coming soon detailing my guy’s attempts to teach me a song on bass and my eventual debut on stage. This may not end well for anyone.

Bad to the bone

I am a lousy driver.

The State of Illinois would disagree, oddly enough, seeing as how they’ve just awarded me “Safe Driver” status and the ability to renew my license over the internet. And I’d even be pleased at the prospect – the DMV is darker and more vile than a truck stop restroom – if I didn’t suspect the alternate meaning of “safe driver” is “chickshit lameass.”

It annoys me to no end to be lumped so neatly in the stereotype “bad female driver” – but there never was a stereotype so neatly correct. Far as I can tell, there are two categories of female driver, and both are equally awful: the overly cautious, white knuckle variety like myself and the oblivious, bitch-on-the-road type would who sooner plow her SUV over the grassy knoll dividing a highway than admit she can’t text, apply lipstick and change CDs simultaneously while driving – and then get angry at you for swerving to miss her vehicle.

Not that I’m much better: I’m the kind of driver who will travel 15 miles out of my way just to avoid making a left turn at a busy intersection without an arrow. I may also be inclined to spend 20 minutes on the tollway driving under the speed limit behind a truck spewing the foulest combination of raw sewage and turkey feathers before I’ll work up the nerve to pass them.

I blame my parents, really. Both were useless when it came to teaching me how to drive. My mother is a white knuckle driver herself and spent most of her time in the car with me clutching the arm rest and shrieking than offering better driving suggestions. Her inclination was to leave the instruction up to my father and high school, and suffice it to say, neither proved effective.

My father – once a race car driver of the drag strip variety – would on the surface seem a good choice, but his method of instruction was to first attempt to teach me how a car works. My eyes glazed over as he linked his fingers together in explanation of gears shifting; as a 16 year old, all I wanted was put the top down on the Wrangler and cruise to the movies with my friends. That fantasy ended real quick when I backed the Jeep into a ditch at the end of our street. Guess I should have paid more attention to that whole “gear” lesson.

I was ultimately turned over to private driving instruction when I managed to fail the on-the-road portion of driver’s ed in school. I spent four weeks of summer vacation being picked up in one of those “student driver” cars and reminded to check my blind spot and mirrors only to fail my first two attempts at getting my full license.

Anyone who has had the misfortune of being a passenger in my car is likely having an epiphany right about now; puzzle pieces rarely fit so well together. But all my panicky movements and mistrust of other drivers now is nothing compared to the full-on meltdown I had while in the car with my state-appointed driver’s examination officer that second time around.

He was every bit the state employee: he wore an ink-stained shirt, exhaled cigarette smoke and beef jerky, and carried the weight of self importance and broken dreams. He knew it was my second attempt at getting a license, and it was his duty, he informed me, to point out that I only had three chances to pass before I’d be sent back to retake a year of driver’s ed.

I knew this of course; the vision of starting my junior year and being forced to take driver’s ed with the sophomore class had haunted me all summer long. The terror of such indignity welled inside my brain as I followed State Employee’s directions out of the DMV and into traffic.

Did I know, he asked, that it was his personal opinion that 16 year-olds were far too young to be issued a license? And did I also know that in addition to the rules of the road, it was his personal opinion every driver should memorize their local street grid?

I didn’t know that, but thanks for wiping out every shred of confidence I might have had, jackass.

State Employee then told me to turn west on Highland. A simple request, except that I thought I was already driving on Highland, and wouldn’t have been able to tell him which way west was if the Wicked Witch of the West appeared and lit me a blazing trail.

“Um, where is Highland?” I tentatively asked.

“How do you not know where Highland is?” he bellowed. “It’s the next major intersection past this light! I swear, you kids think you know everything, but when faced with simple tasks, you prove time and time again you don’t know ANYTHING.”

I figured it would be a bad time to tell him that I also didn’t know what direction west was.

Traffic was fairly heavy that afternoon; the DMV was located in a business district where the speed limit was 45 MPH, but the average was 55. Cars were whizzing past me like meteors, and I realized I had less than half a mile to make a decision. The hamster wheel in my brain started spinning overtime as I desperately tried to reason what direction I was currently going.

We had just passed the local mausoleum, and I seemed to recall hearing that the movie theatre was south of there. Because I thought the theatre was just up ahead, it seemed logical to deduce that I was driving south, and would therefore need to turn left on Highland. Of course, I also once baffled my grade school math teacher by deducing that because there are sixty minutes in one hour, there must be sixty pennies in one dollar.

Wrong on both accounts, it turned out.

The three-lane roadway buzzed with traffic as I turned on my blinker. I checked my mirror, checked my blind spot, and cautiously started to move into the left lane when State Employee slapped his hand on the dashboard and roared, “What are you doing! You’re supposed to go west. West, you fool! Go west!”

I was so startled by his anger that I just immediately swerved back into the middle lane, and then into the right turn lane without so much as a thought to the other cars on the road.

Papers flew into the air as State Employee screeched something about watching where I was going. I felt the car bounce over the curb and only caught partial exclamations from around me:

“Get off the road you fucking idiot!”

“God damn teenage driver!”

“What’s wrong with you?!?!”

“Fluffy? Oh my god, Fluffy! Are you okay???”

I managed to right the car without causing any real damage, though as far as State Employee was concerned, I’d just singlehandedly justified every conviction he had about banning all teenagers from the road.

And who knows, maybe he was right, but it didn’t stop me from bawling wildly and begging him to give me another chance.

“If I had my way, you’d NEVER get a license!” he screamed as we pulled back into the DMV lot.

My father was waiting for me there, fingers crossed and looking hopefully at State Employee for good news that never came. Instead, State Employee burst from the car in a huff and sprinted toward his office, yelling over his shoulder about how I nearly killed him and that I was the worst driver he’d ever encountered.

The reality of the situation crushed me, and I threw the car keys to the pavement in frustration. My poor father, who was still attempting to figure out what had caused a state employee to threaten us with legal action, did his best to console me.

“Don’t worry – that guy is a jerk. You’ll get your license. I promise you’ll get your license.”

And ultimately I did, even without the horror of retaking driver’s ed, but the entire experience sits with me to this day.

My guy, I know, would just as soon take a bus than get into a car with me. He’s already been privy to my nearly taking down an ATM one night when I couldn’t manage to talk and take out money at the same time. This is why I would also make a rotten drummer.

Still, in my nearly 20 years of driving, I’ve only received one ticket, and that, according to the State, makes me a safe driver.

I’d better renew my license online quick before they wise up.


Essayist, author, podcaster, and general misanthrope. Official blog of lightly fictionalized musings and general word vomit. Visit www.juliettemiranda.com for additional info.