The Year In Woods – 2011

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I find every year to be full of so many events, I really need start writing them all down. Some funny, some sad, many shameful but never any regrets. I started off the year strong, my 2011 resolution was to get back into shape after eating and boozing my way through the Big Apple these last few years.

So in January off I went to Park City, Utah with friends for a ski trip. My second run of the second day I skied past the Glory Hole run with my friend Tim, who said he was “gonna hit that.” He made me laugh hard and took off ahead of me. I turned to the right, still laughing, caught an edge and fell hard down the hill. Why I always fall underneath the busiest ski lift I’ll never understand, so I had quite an audience.

As I tumbled, I could feel my left ski turning one way and my left leg turning the other until I heard a loud snap, like the world’s largest rubber band. I was lovingly taken care of by hottie ski patrolmen–one was named Tinker, no really. In the end I tore my ACL completely but the experience led me to discover my new favorite drink, the pickle back.  We went to the Sundance Lodge, I had to hobble in my crutches and knee brace. Tim ordered us a round of pickle backs – a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice. Initially disgusted, I was quickly proven wrong. Tell me what you think.

In February I hobbled around New York City with my bum knee, got drunk one night on the roof with my neighbor, whom I barely knew, and had drunken sex. All the lights were on and the windows open–oh lord, my poor neighbors across the way. I made him do the walk of shame home in the middle of the night, one short flight down. The next day I found his Eddie Bauer slippers tucked underneath my couch. I didn’t know what to do with them because he lived with his girlfriend. I decided to leave them in front of the mail boxes in the lobby. What’s a girl to do?

I also was on KCRW’s radio show UnFictional, thanks to my dear friend Gemma Dempsey, who was a producer there. They recorded my story in a recording studio for over two hours as I talked about growing up in Newbury Park, strip clubs, Huey, Dad and life.

In March I had ACL surgery, where I received a cadaver achilles tendon and three screws in my left knee. My mom took care of me the first six days. After that, my dear friend David and other friends and coworkers, would drop in and make sure I didn’t fall over while giving myself an awkward sponge bath. I laid on the couch for two weeks taking vicodin, contemplating life and powered through the entire series of Madmen. God bless Netflix. I started physical therapy ten days after surgery and was amazed at how easy my recovery would be.

In April after only a couple of weeks in physical therapy, I developed a full on crush on my Bosnian physical therapist. I told everyone about him. I Facebooked about him. He had a huge following. I could barely contain my sheepish grin every time he put his hands on me to stretch me, especially when his head was between my legs. I think he caught me a couple of times. No I KNOW he caught me.

I also ran into Carrie Fisher at a restaurant in NYC. She recognized me, covered her face and said “Oh my God” as she hid behind the person next to her.  Needless to say, I have gotten over my girl crush on Carrie Fisher. In fact, I don’t even like her that much now–I’m on to her schtick and I don’t buy it anymore.

In May I went out to California to visit my dad for his 69th birthday–just weeks after his appellate attorney filed his last possible appeal after eleven years with the California Supreme Court.   My mother, sister and I heard Dad’s appeal was denied the day before we left to visit him in prison for his birthday.  When we got there, my mom, sister, aunt and I sat around the table at the prison visitor center listening to my dad talk about all the things he was going to do when he won his appeal and got out of prison.

After an hour, he got up to throw something away. I looked at Mom and told her she had to tell him. He came back and sat down, put his hand on my knee and smiled. Mom was emotionless as she said, “Michael, you lost the appeal.” “What?” he said in total disbelief. I held his hands on his knee, he was shaking. It was like telling someone they had six weeks to live.

In June my good friend Emeline got married. I adore her and went to France for the wedding. A total Francophile, I was in Heaven, spending five days speaking French. Though I did learn that I need to work on my “kid French.”  I had a tough time understanding her daughter, except when she wanted me to blow her bubbles that she could chase. I loved getting to know her family. They are like my second family now. The French are so open minded, no one gave me shit about being single like I normally get in the states. One guy I met was on his fifth marriage. “If something doesn’t work out, that’s ok, try again!” he told me. I went to the beach with her brother Erik.  It was the first time my body had seen sun this year, I decided to forego sunblock and fell asleep. Two hours later I woke up burnt to a crisp with second degree burns–the photo below speaks volumes. It hurt to wear clothes. However seven months later I still have a tan, worth it?

 

In July I went to my first San Diego Comic-Con! It was so much fun, I got to do MTV Geek reporting on all things Star Wars, wrote a ton of posts, interviewed Bonnie Burton and the cast from Mythbusters, including my good friend Grant Imahara. I love the geek community and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. I’ve met some amazing people and I even got to meet Mark Hamill! I ran into him in the hotel lobby!

In August, my physical therapy ended. I had been dreaming of this day for four months. Now my physical therapist and I could go out for drinks! We went out for drinks, laughed, caught up, he told me about his trip to Bosnia. After that we started a lengthy text relationship that in the end went nowhere. I got several texts saying “we’ll get drinks soon.” Soon never happened. I gave up. But still a nice guy.

In September I moved back to the Upper West Side. I had spent two years on possibly the loudest intersection in New York City, Bowery and Bleecker. I was determined to live downtown and had poorly chosen party central intersection. I was after all across the street from the old CBGB’s. After two years of gunshots, sirens, people screaming on the street till 4am, I was done and ready to be back uptown and contend once again with couples, kids and double-wide strollers. My good friend Suma flew out from San Francisco to help and I am forever in debt. I’m right off Central Park again, and can run, walk, it’s so peaceful and quiet. I have no regrets of living downtown – I loved it and found so many places I’d never discover had I only lived in the UWS. But I had to leave UWS to appreciate it. Additionally, I’ve implemented a “no neighbor fraternization” rule.

I also went to the HBO Emmy Party and made an ass out of myself with Jon Hamm. Hopefully he doesn’t know Carrie. Oh and I also helped the LAPD catch a Crips gang member in my friend Susan’s backyard.

In October I conquered the deepest darkest demon I’ve been secretly battling for years – my social smoking habit. I dabbled in smoking when I was younger, smoking when drunk twice a year. When my dad was arrested for murder I had a friend who smoked and I took it up again. Only when I was drinking but as we all know, I love my wine, so the two came hand in hand. It got worse when I moved to New York City because it’s more acceptable and I met new friends who smoked. I’d go out with friends, buy a pack of smokes, go up to my roof with some wine and my Ipod and just listen to music while smoking. It became my favorite pastime. I felt it was the only time I could get to myself. It was a treat, a reward. I also hated myself for doing it. I’d stop for a few weeks and then start up again. I tried acupuncture and hypnotherapy which kept me clean for two and a half months till I fell of the wagon with an out of town friend. I was possessed by it.

Sober, I thought smoking was disgusting. I could go weeks without smoking. But after a few glasses of wine it seemed like a great idea. Life is hard, Dad’s in prison, I deserve this. I took Allen Carr’s smoking cessation workshop at the suggestion of my good friend Vivian, who had successfully quit after reading Allen’s book. I gave it a shot, and it worked. I can’t really explain why. Probably because the instructor talked about all the smokers and how the desperate measures they’d take to get that cigarette. And I remembered how in Mill Valley I used to buy a pack of smokes, smoke two and run the pack under water before throwing away. The next night I’d dig through the trash, microwave the cigarettes and smoke them. Desperation at its worst. I’ve never felt so happy and empowered since quitting.

In November Mom and I went to Egypt for two weeks! Everyone asks about the best part of the trip and it was the group of people I travelled with. Everyone had such interesting stories to tell. You can never judge a book by its cover. One woman who I assumed had always been single, was newly divorced and with a special needs daughter that had recently drowned. Another woman had had a double lung transplant, not from smoking. Everyone had unique stories that were fascinating to listen to and I learned so much. We laughed so hard. Listening to the Islamic call to prayer on the Nile at sunset was also a highlight. I can listen to that sound all day, it’s so melodic and peaceful.

On the way back from Egypt I found out my friend Megan from high school hung herself in her garage. She was married with three kids, an amazing woman. A blond fireball. I was stunned. I cried at the airport in Amsterdam when my best friend Anne told me the news. Megan was one of my friends that always commented on my Facebook statuses and photos, telling me what an amazing and exciting life I had. The last time I saw her was at Anne’s wedding, we had so much fun together laughing and doing beer bongs. I was so damn angry she felt she had no other options. Her death made me realize how lucky I am to have my life, and to continue to make the most of it, leaving regrets at the door. Megan loved to run so every time I run in Central Park I dedicate my run to her.

I also flew to London for 48 hours for a friend’s company’s 30th anniversary party. It’s the shortest international trip I’ve ever taken but it was well worth it. I met my friend Carol and her coworkers nearly five years ago at a design conference in Boston and love these people so much. So delightful. I even got to hold hands with my long time crush, a nice surprise.

In December I decided not to go home for Christmas. My second time ever in my 43 years of life. The first time was in 2002 when I went to Hawaii instead with this loser I was dating. My friends warned me that he was cheap and selfish. They were right. We broke up shortly after. Mom didn’t speak to me for days for abandoning the family.


This time I went to Tulum, Mexico with two good friends. I used to love the holidays and never understood why people said the holidays were so hard. That is until I spent the last eleven Christmases in prison. I wanted to get away. I did and I felt good about it. I had visited Dad a couple of weeks beforehand. I had five days of sun, sand, beach, micheladas, steak tacos and ceviche. The best Christmas ever. I called Mom and told her I loved her. She was driving to visit Dad. The usual.

May next year bring even more stories for me to tell. I’m actually leaving out a couple of juicy nuggets—I need to maintain some sense of mystery…Happy New Year everyone! I’m very blessed to have amazing friends in my life. Live life to its fullest, take risks and have no regrets.

9 thoughts on “The Year In Woods – 2011

  1. happy new year Laurel, quite an amazing year. I remember running into you on your crutches one night downtown.

  2. Guh! Why are these mini autobiographies always about you? 🙂

    Just kidding! Love ya, Spoom!

  3. OMG! Mark Hamill looks as good as William Shatner these days. Yikes! I love your life but if you tell everyone all your stories what am I going to use for material for your eulogy?! After reading this I’ve decided to go out, get drunk and sleep with my neighbor! I mean…I’ve decided to dedicate my runs to our dear friend, Megan, too. Thanks for a wild ride on the Woodsy tilt-a-whirl. xoxo

  4. L.E.W. – you are a such a great writer and a true inspiration to all. I LOVE hearing about your exciting life and adventures! Although, it often confirms my boring existence! Please keep writing these. I can’t wait to read the next installment!!

  5. Dearest Girl, Thank you for including your old Aunt Deanie with your news of 2011! I loved reading about what goes on in your life.I called Kristen P. and she remembered the song. “Ricky don,t lose my number”

  6. So honored to be in your story.. and as your second family! You are part of it and your bedroom’s always ready!
    You are such an interesting person and so is your life! I read it as I melt a delicious candy in my mouth or (and fuck it) as I would taste with high appreciation the cigarette I would just kill my mom to smoke and I had not for 3 days!
    We love you!

  7. Pingback: L A U R E L W O O D S » Blog Archive » The Year In Woods – 2012

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