austin to aspen and back again

a journey with several climates and methods of transportation.

I’m back.

I’m exhausted.  I am drinking so much freakin’ coffee.  Maybe you’d like a cup, too, to go with today’s catch-up Squishy.

The cast:  pamie, Matt, Marc, Anna, Ray

Day One:  Wednesday to Thursday afternoon
Place:  the Izuzu Trooper

We were all packed up and hitting the road by 10:30 Austin time.  I brought a suitcase, a pillow, the scrambled eggs (the yellow blanket), and a bag full of cd’s, water, gum, books, and a brand new journal for us to mark moments that we wanted to remember.   Ray made sure that we knew that one corner of the Trooper had $3000 worth of electronic equipment, so we were to be careful.  He had brought a videocamera in case Matt was called on stage to perform.   It was dark outside, but the weather was nice, and we were in good spirits…

And then we saw that there wasn’t really much room for us.  Between the skis, the boots, the suitcases, pillows, blankets, electronic equipment, games and everything else, the three people that had to sit in the back seat were shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh.

I claimed car sickness, and rode in the front.  Matt figured out a way to sleep on top of all the luggage, making his head inches from the roof of the car, but a way to be reclined, nonetheless.

[scripty]
MATT
I wish I had called car sickness.
[/scripty]

Ray was driving the first part.  He had driven this stretch all by himself last year.  It took him somewhere between sixteen and twenty hours.  He couldn’t remember which.  We just let Ray figure out how to get us there in sixteen.  We settled in for a long drive.

We had been driving for about fifteen minutes.  The back seat was sharing stories from last year’s festival.  I looked out at the road and said to Ray, “I wouldn’t have thought we’d take 183 to get to Aspen.”  Ray leans in and says, “I don’t really know how to get to Aspen.”

“Did you just tell me a secret, Ray?” I asked.

“We’ll get there.  I’d like to see America,” he said.

“Well, I’d like to see Aspen,” I said, grabbing a map.

One hour into the trip and everyone is asleep but Ray and me.  We chatted and listened to music.  I convince Ray to take the highway as opposed to a farm road.  He reluctantly agreed that it would probably be faster.  We joke about how Matt has a $3000 pillow because I get carsick.

Adjusting to staying in the car took some time.  At the beginning we took a lot of silly stops, gas stations every hour to get something to drink or to go to the bathroom.  I passed time by counting the number of skis on the roof, to make sure that nothing fell off.

“One-two-three-four-five skis.”  That would kill about two seconds every hour.  I was making good time.

Have you ever driven across Texas?  It truly is the most boring drive you will ever take in your life.

By five in the morning, Ray and I had run out of things to talk about.  We started to make haiku.  I would take one line, and Ray would take another.

[scripty]
RAY
Okay, so let’s do haiku.

PAMIE
Okay.

RAY
How do you do it?

PAMIE
Five seven five.

RAY
Five seven five.

PAMIE
Right.

RAY
Okay.

PAMIE
You first.

RAY
No you.

PAMIE
Okay. I’ll take the first line….

“Softly the wind is…”

RAY
“Softly the wind is…”
Uh…
“Gently excites my body hair.”

PAMIE
That’s eight, Ray.

RAY
Oh, motherfucker.

PAMIE
Okay, new one.

“The tree is swaying…”

RAY
……

PAMIE
Ray?

RAY
I’m thinking.

PAMIE
Okay.

RAY
“Car bumbles about the road”

PAMIE
“Anna ate chicken.”

RAY
Okay…

“Moon glistens above.”

PAMIE
“Um…One-two-three-four-five skis”

RAY
“Can you move your seat up more?”

PAMIE
That’s seven, Ray.

RAY
Dammit!

“Move your seat up more.”

PAMIE
Great.

RAY
Wanna try a limerick?
[/scripty]

And you know we did.

An Isuzu is going to Aspen.
We won’t perform but we’re not yet a has been.
Our mileage is good.
We’d sleep if we could.
And when doing the limerick we’re graspin’.

[scripty]
PAMIE
We are so deep, Ray.

RAY
Deep like a wading pool.
[/scripty]

We then played Grandmother’s purse from A-Z and back to A again.  Do you know how long it takes to do that?  I do.  Forty-five minutes.  That’s a list of fifty-two things when you are done.  We voted never to play again.  Matt woke up to say that he felt really bad for us.

Then it was six in the morning, and we had finally reached Amarillo.  As we pulled into the gas station, Ray and I began using our NPR voices.

[scripty]
RAY
Good morning, Troopers.  It’s six a.m. here in Amarillo.

PAMIE
Yes, it is.

RAY
I do believe it’s time for the six a.m. haiku.

PAMIE
“It’s six a.m. in Amarillo.”

RAY
“We parked on the wrong side for gas.”

PAMIE
“Shit, Ray!  Turn around!”
[/scripty]

Matt woke up at that point and started keeping us company.

The 7:00 haiku
(with special guest Matt)

Port a potty there.
Amarillo stinks like cow.
I need more coffee.

This was where we changed time zones, making us have to remake the 7:00 haiku that also doubled as our 8:00 haiku:

Hey Cow!  Lookee here!
Boy, you cows sure stink a lot.
Like a big stinkfest.

Ray faded around eight-thirty, and Matt started driving.  We played name-that-stand-up-comic and what’s-this-movie-line until we had reached Colorado.  There at the Welcome Center we learned about the Pikas.  These are animals that are quite elusive in these parts.  The sign said that if you heard the sharp bark of the Pika to stand very still.  We remarked about the fierce Pikas that would go straight for your throat if you gave them half a chance.  We would practice by suddenly shouting, “Arr!  Arr!”  and everyone would have to freeze right where they were with their hands up, fingers spread.  We never saw any Pika, but we were prepared to meet one.

We ate at a McDonalds where we sat next to a man that was talking about Monica Lewinsky’s interview the night before.  He was a very loud man, it wasn’t like I was eavesdropping.  He began talking about Starr:

“Oh, that man, they should get rid of that man.  I mean, look at what he’s– do you know how much he’s cost this country?  Like four, five, six, four– ten, thirty, forty million– eighty, one hundred million dollars.  One hundred million dollars he’s cost this country… Easily sixty million.”

I thought my brain was going to explode from not allowing myself to laugh.

The 11:00 haiku

The pika are fierce
when you hear their bark, stand still.
One hundred million.

It was at this point I had been up for a very, very long time.  I have a hard time sleeping in the car, and I hadn’t slept since Wednesday morning.  We started giggling.  “The Care Bears were here!”  I was shouting, quoting The Money Pit, which went along with the movie game we were playing where you gave someone two actors and they had to name the film they were in together.

We got a little lost here and there.

As we neared mountain land we mostly stuck to singing Beatles songs and talking about this and that.  Every time I would get out of the car I would feel myself swaying back and forth.  No one else felt that.  They blamed my exhaustion.  I blamed the altitude.

There is no straight way to Aspen.  The one road that goes straight there is only open in the Summer.  You have to drive a semi-circle around Aspen.  It takes six hours.  I took a very small nap as we neared Vail.

Day Two:  Thursday afternoon to Friday Morning
Place:  Aspen

Aspen looks like a little village.  It is very pretty.  There was lots of snow.  People are walking all over the place, and they all have their little tans and their tiny thighs.  It is a very clean city.

I got out of the Trooper and put on my sweater and my coat.  It was easily 28 degrees, and the day before in Austin it was almost eighty.  Quite a change to the system.  We were walking up a hill to check in when that altitude hit me.  I was dizzy and winded, and I had only walked ten feet.

I really thought that I was going to be cool in Aspen.  I ended up being a star gazer with a camera, but I’ll get to that in a second.

We checked into the condo, started a fire, and while Anna and Ray took showers, Matt, Marc and I walked to the hotel that was hosting the festival to check in.

The St. Regis was only two blocks away.  We walked through the doors and were immediately a part of a very busy scene.  We walked by Eugene Levy, Kathy Griffin, Mario Joyner.  Matt was pinching my back so hard I thought I was going to get a bruise.  We got our badges and we were ready to go.  There were so many people all around.  If I wasn’t so exhausted I would have been a big geek ball.

We planned our programs and checked out our badges. As long as there were seats available, we were to be let in five minutes before any show.  Cool.  Just like South by Southwest.

We had invitations to a reception for Neil Simon’s USCAF Writer’s Award.

I met Neil Simon.  I told him that he was one of my favorite playwrights.  He looked right past me to the person behind me.  Whatever, I got his autograph.

So we tried to see some stand-up comedy.  Sold out.  No room for us.

We decided to try the hot tub.  I’d never been in a hot tub in the snow.  It’s actually quite nice.  But the last thirty seconds of you running to the warmth of your room almost make it not worth it.

We had some dinner, and went back to see the next set, where we had a friend, Megan Mooney, performing.   “Are you friends of the performer?” they asked.  “Yes, we’re with Megan,” we mumbled.  We were in.

There are just a few rules in Aspen that they tell you:  get plenty of rest, don’t drink any alcohol, don’t do any strenuous physical activity, and drink lots of water.  Aside from the bottle of water in my hand I was breaking every rule.  I kept getting headaches.  Ibuprofen was my best friend.

We tried to get into Janeane’s show.  The line was incredible.  There were people everywhere.  There was no way we were getting in, unless we waited for people to leave while the show was going on (a very common thing).  We were way in the back, by the hotel elevators.  I was talking to Matt about something really stupid, like my life or something when he said, “You just missed Janeane.  She walked right behind you.”  I turned to my right to see her next to me, walking toward the stage entrance, talking to three people in headsets.

We are the exact same height.

I faced the other way from that point on so we wouldn’t miss anything.  It was like we were at the front of the rope at an awards ceremony.  One by one they entered and walked right in front of us to get to the back stage area:  Jerry Seinfeld, David Cross, Ben Stiller, Kathy Griffin, Andy Dick, Martin Short…

[scripty]
MATT
Hey, Pam, Mario Joyner is checking you out.

PAMIE
He cannot resist my fabulous ta-tas.

MATT
What did you just say?

PAMIE
I’m seeing if they will get us backstage.

MATT
Who?

PAMIE
My breasts.
[/scripty]

It didn’t even matter to me at that point that I couldn’t get in to see the show.  I was closer in that half an hour to those people than I would have been at the show.

So the first night was a bit of a bust.  We couldn’t get in to most of the things we tried to see, and we were very tired.  At three in the morning, I crashed, knowing that skiing was just a few hours away.

Day Three:  Friday
place:  mountains and hotels

I do not understand why you people like to ski.  I just don’t.

I put on the boots– they hurt.  I put on the pants and the sweaters and the gloves and the thermal socks and the jacket and the hat and I was hot and I couldn’t move.

My shins were in so much pain my eyes were welling.  Matt said I didn’t have them on correctly, and then put my boots on for me.  It still hurt my shins. I know this is due to my big ol’ calves, but I was in such pain.  I’m trying to find a way to carry these skis and poles and figure out how to walk in these moon boots and I’m already sweating and in pain and we haven’t even gotten our lift passes yet.

But I was keeping my spirits up.  I was sure it was going to be fun.  This was Aspen Mountain I was about to ski.  Because I am a fan of Hitchcock, and I think suspense is fun, I’m going to let you know something I didn’t know when I went to ski Aspen. I’m going to let you read the report about this particular mountain, from its webpage:

Rising imposingly out of the
heart of downtown Aspen,
Aspen Mountain has always
held a special allure for
skiers. With no beginner runs,
the mountain is an
upper-intermediate and expert
skiers’ dream. Known for
steeps and bump runs, Aspen
Mountain has terrain to
challenge the most
accomplished athletes.

Matt taught me how to get in and out of the skis.  He showed me how to walk in the skis, sort of in a side shuffle.  Then they put me on the lift.

On a blue slope.

Getting on the lift was fine.  When it was time for me to get off the lift I was sort of thrown off and I fell into the snow.  Matt commented that usually skis fall off when you fall, but mine didn’t that time.  He figured it was because of the way that I fell.

I sort of crawled on my hands and knees and skis over to where every one else was at the slope.  I looked down.

And panicked.

It was what at the time appeared to be straight down.  I tried to move, but I would just start sliding down that hill and I didn’t know what to do.  I would just fall to the ground and clutch the snow because I was so afraid of going down that hill.  How do you go around people?  How do you not have anyone hit you?  How do you turn?  How do you STOP?  What are these poles for?  I didn’t know anything, and I was sure that I was about to die.  A group of people stopped in front of us and recommended the other side of the slope as it wasn’t so steep.  I shimmied my way across, but every time I slipped I would scream.  I made it to the other side and sat down in the snow.

[scripty]
RAY
You shouldn’t stay here.  We should start going down.

PAMIE
(holding onto the snow)
I’m not going anywhere.

ANNA
We have to go down.

PAMIE
Screw you guys.  I’m staying here.  It’s safe right here.  Isn’t there a puss way down, like on the roller coasters?

ANNA
We could walk down.

PAMIE
I’m not moving.
[/scripty]

At this point a snow ski/ jet ski kind of thing stopped by us.  Anna asked if they could take me to the bottom of the hill.

[scripty]
WOMAN
Are you hurt?

PAMIE
No.  I’m terrified.

WOMAN
Have you ever skied before?

PAMIE
No.

WOMAN
No?  NEVER?  You’ve NEVER skied before?  Guys!  What is she doing on this slope?  This is like Mount Everest to a beginner.  Take her to Buttermilk.  Put her on the Panda slopes.  I promise you’ll have fun if you go on the pandas, okay?

PAMIE
Thank you.

WOMAN
You’ll have fun if you start easy.
[/scripty]

(Ray and Matt share a high-five for skiing “Mount Everest”)

I got to the bottom and everyone met up so we could move to Buttermilk.  We were surrounded by children.  “I’m sorry I made you guys ski at Chuck E. Cheese,” I said.

I learned how to snowplow, how to turn, etc.  Then I got on the ski lift.  The chair caught my skis and tried to rip my feet off.  I screamed in pain.

[scripty]
MATT
What are you doing?

PAMIE
The chair is ripping my feet off.   My skis were stuck under the chair when we took off.

MATT
You have to lift the tips.

PAMIE
I am.

MATT
With your knees, not your feet.

PAMIE
Great.  Fuck, that hurt.
[/scripty]

They decided it was time for me to go to the top.  Getting on the ski lift I did not pin my feet under, so I was pretty proud.  We were going very high up and for quite a long time.  Getting off the lift I fell again, this time under the chair, so that when the next woman tried to get off she fell, and I guess she had just had surgery, so they had to carry her away.

So I start off feeling pretty good about myself.

We start skiing.  I still am not good at stopping, and I can’t seem to control my speed.  Whenever I want to stop, I just drift off into a snowbank.  It’s so soft and comforting.  Sometimes I would flip completely around trying to stop, and my legs would get pinned around my hips, ski crossing ski.  Those fucking skis never popped off like everyone said they would. They would just whip me around and throw me into more snow.  I spent one particularly annoying 20 minutes trying to figure out how to ski away from a cliff I was near.  I thought I was going to die on that mountain.  I would get so tired.  I was out of breath, I was frustrated, I couldn’t get control of my speed, often I couldn’t help myself up after I fell and someone had to pick me up, and there was snow in my clothes.

I had a great time with my friends.  The first hour of the skiing was a lot of fun.  At one point this zen skiing instructor came by and told me that if I smiled and looked where I wanted to go and not where I was, my feet would just point me in the right direction.  You know what?  It worked.

Until I was going so fast I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know how to turn or stop and I was headed towards a tree.  Thoughts of Sunny Bono in my head I tried to move my skis in a direction they didn’t understand.  I fell forward, my skis stayed under me, popping my shins and ankles in a way that made me start shouting.

I was hurt.  I couldn’t get my feet out of the skis because they had crossed each other behind me and I couldn’t move.  My shin was screaming in pain.  We got the boot off, and it hurt to the touch.  Ski patrol came by and told me I’d have to go to the hospital.  I said I was fine and I didn’t need to go.  Anna and Matt said they’d meet me at the bottom of the hill.

The other ski patrol person showed up, touched my leg causing me to yelp, and then said I needed to go to the hospital.  They wrapped me in blankets and tarp and attached me to the sled.  “Are you sure I need to go?”  I asked. “I think it’s a good idea,” she said.  “You may have a fracture, and we can’t tell for sure without an x-ray.”

“Can I wait for my friends?” I asked.

“No.”

And I figured, for a $25 co-pay, it’s worth it to find out if I’m fine.

Going down the mountain on my back was strangely peaceful.  My leg was in a splint and I was freezing from all of the snow that had fallen into my clothes and soaked my skin, but just looking up at the snow falling from the blue sky was very nice.  I didn’t have to work anymore at going down.  I didn’t have to ski anymore.  I wasn’t going to have to figure out how to get my foot in a ski before I started skiing down the mountain in just one.  I just had to sit back.

The ambulance took me to the hospital where I sat for an hour before I got an x-ray.  They covered me in warm blankets, told me to take off my pants and put ice on my leg.  Matt and Anna found out that I had been sent to the hospital and they called to find out what they could bring me.  I fell asleep for a while, and then some guy in a sweater did x-rays.

Just as I thought, everything was fine.  I just was going to have a bad bruise, she said.  Since the boots hurt my shins, the spot where I was in pain was due to the skis staying on and the pressure from the fall all going to where the boots were pressing on my shins the most.  She wrapped an ace bandage around my leg and told me to be nice to it.

I got up and changed into the clothes Ray, Anna and Matt brought.  I went to check out with the nurse.

[scripty]
NURSE
Okay, so you are from out of state, so our policy is that you have to pay the bill in full.

PAMIE
I have insurance.  I just do a copay.

NURSE
Not here.  You can file for a reimbursement, but you have to pay in full right now before you can leave.

PAMIE
How much is that?

NURSE
Six hundred dollars.

PAMIE
Are you kidding me?

NURSE
It’s policy.

PAMIE
But I have insurance.

NURSE
In Austin.  Not in Aspen.

PAMIE
I’m covered wherever I go.

NURSE
Not here.  You need to pay.  Is this in cash?

PAMIE
Are you joking with me?

NURSE
Let me give you some advice.  If you don’t need an ambulance, don’t ask for one.

PAMIE
I didn’t!  Those ski people said I needed to go and wouldn’t let me get my friends.

NURSE
Well, I need you to pay this bill.
[/scripty]

And I paid the damn bill.  Because for some reason, that week I could.  Had I fallen in Aspen any other week of the year I would have had to do some stitching and x-rays in the back to make up the cash.  Who carries that much money on them  in case they end up in the Aspen hospital?  What if something had broken?  I wouldn’t have been able to afford much more than this bump on my leg.

Which didn’t even bruise, by the way.

I got scammed.  That’s how I feel about it.  In forty-five to fifty-five working days I should get my reimbursement.  Just in time for the next time I’m going out of town. But that money was supposed to pay for me getting Taylor’s teeth cleaned.  Now he’ll have to wait.

Friday night was spent seeing shows and hanging out in the St. Regis bar, where we saw Steven Wright, Ian Michael Black, Christopher Hampton, Mario Joyner (again), that guy who played Malachai on Children of the Corn, James L. Brooks, Mickey Dolenz, and more.  We had a few drinks, and dared each other to talk to Steven Wright and Martin Short.  We threw a party, and we were all by ourselves for a few hours.  Just when we decided to go to sleep, the people showed up.  We stayed up until five or so.

Day Four:  Saturday
place:  outside, new hotel, st. regis ballroom

We had to wake up at eight in the morning as we had to check out of that condo and into another one that we had reserved for the last night adjacent to the St. Regis.  Check out time was ten.  We woke up at nine-thirty.  We began cleaning up from the party and packing our things.  We weren’t going to have the next condo until four or so.  While we were packing up the owners of the condo came home to see us trying to check out.  “Heard you guys had a party last night,” he said.

We were a little busted.

We finished packing up and tried to get out of there very quickly.  As we were checking into the other place the desk clerk asked, “Are you the guys from Four over on the other side?”

“Yeah.”

“I think you guys took one of his suitcases.  He just called.”

We walked back to the Trooper where we figured out that the very large black suitcase in the back did not belong to any of us.  Ray started carrying it as we walked back to the first condo to return the man’s luggage.

[scripty]
MATT
So we threw a party at his house and then we steal his luggage.

RAY
And someone burned the floor in the kitchen.

PAMIE
Who did that?

RAY
I don’t know.  I painted over it with some paint I found in the closet.

MATT
Hey, buddy, you want me to carry that suitcase for a while?

RAY
Yeah, sure.
[/scripty]

(SNAP!)

The handle broke off the suitcase.  Snapped right off.  Matt started pacing.  Ray wrapped his body around the suitcase on his hands and knees and began rocking like he was praying to Mecca.  I tried to stop giggling.

[scripty]
MATT
Could this get anymore like a “Three’s Company” episode?

RAY
We could pretend that you’re gay and that’s why you broke the suitcase.

PAMIE
If it was really an episode, instead of us going and explain what happened and then offer to pay for it we’d be searching around Aspen for another suitcase just like this one, but what we didn’t know was that this suitcase contained a magical amulet.

MARC
But then it would turn out that she had the amulet the whole time and never said anything.

MATT
Thanks. You guys are really helping here.
[/scripty]

The owners did not take us up on the offer to have us pay for the repairs, despite their neighbors shouting, “Take the money!” When they witnessed the conversation.

We had lunch at a place called Poppycocks, which was very tasty.  More Mario Joyner.  I’m not kidding.  He was following me, I swear.

We saw a few short films and then checked into the new place.  “Hey, you guys?  Why do we have an extra cutting board?” Matt asked.

“Oh, that other cutting board wasn’t ours?” I asked.

“No, it was the last place’s.”

“Oh. Oh.

“Oh.  You stole their cutting board.” Matt was shaking his head.

“I didn’t mean to,” I said.  “I was just trying to get packed.  We were in a hurry.”

“I can’t believe you stole it.”

“Well, if they try anything funny about their suitcase, the cutting board gets it.”

Showered, changed, and went out to watch comedy the rest of the evening.  Ray and I had a lovely time practicing the “Aspen Glare.”  This is the way that locals in their man-furs would look at us as they walked by.  Generally, you walk by, then you lower your head and look back over your shoulder while rolling your eyes and sneering your lip at the same time.  Sometimes you make a sigh at the same time.  Sometimes you put your right hand back towards the person and chop it while giving a “Shh!”  I call this the Backhanded Shush.

We went to a badge only party that evening.  We invited everyone we could to a party at our place that night.

Andy Dick invited us to Planet Hollywood with his group.  We decided not to go so that we were at the house when people showed up.  I invited Janeane Garafalo, Eugene Levy, Malachai.  We were looking forward to spending the evening with the new friends we had made, and I hoped that I was going to get to say:

“Oh, Ben, that’s so funny.  Janeane, do you need another beer?”

What we didn’t know was there was another party already planned.

Our party was very small.  No one showed up until well after two.  We did not plan early enough and we did not plan well enough and we did not stay at the one badge party long enough to find out what was happening.

I spent most of the evening talking to a producer from L.A. who almost convinced me to move to L.A. and become a screenwriter.

The last guest left at five in the morning.  Matt, Ray and I picked up the condo.

Day six:  three minutes later until now
place:  the condo, the trooper, the office

I ask Matt what he thought about leaving right then and there.  I didn’t want to just sleep for two hours and then have to get up, pack the Trooper and go.  I knew I’d oversleep.  Matt, Ray and I packed the Trooper in the dark, cleaned up the party and had everything ready to go in twenty minutes.

Except for Marc and Anna, who were still asleep.  And they weren’t budging.

Once Matt found his glasses, he would be doing all the driving, since I’ve never driven on snow and ice before.  But we couldn’t find his glasses.  We searched for fifteen minutes, inside and outside.  I found that we had also taken two towels from the last place.  Ray fell asleep on the couch waiting for us to find the glasses.  We decided that if Marc and Anna got up in an hour, by the time they actually got everything packed and they were loaded in the Trooper it would be light outside and I would probably be okay driving.

We tried to find something to eat, but absolutely nothing in Aspen is open at six on a Sunday morning.  There are no diners.  No coffee shops.  No donut shops.  I was livid.

And we gave in, and slept for two hours.

We hit the road at nine– ten, Austin time.  I slept for twenty minutes or so.  Matt eventually woke up and took the wheel with me in the front seat and the others napping in the back.  Matt drove through the next twelve hours in snow, then ice, then fog, then twilight, then rain, then hail, then lightning, almost running out of gas three times, had the key almost break off in the lock, and through one stupid episode of me taking a picture in the car in the dark, blinding everyone in the car.

I found a key in the car to the first place we stayed.  Our accidental theft total was piling up.

It took twenty-three hours to get home.  The storm slowed us down so much.  There was one time where we were babbling on and didn’t notice we missed our turn, adding half an hour to our time.  We stopped to eat in a couple of places.  We stopped to stretch our legs.  We answered questions from The Book of Questions, Love and Sex and one of the questions asked what romantic things does your partner do for you.  I mentioned that Eric cleans the house up and leaves me little notes.  I was missing home.

I made it home this morning at nine.  On the living room table were flowers and a card.  The house was clean and the cats had a sheen to them that looked a little suspicious.   I had to shower, change and then get to work by ten.  And here I am, trying to catch up on work and trying to stay awake.  While I was searching for info on this festival I found this page, the important parts reprinted here:

Gossip. Sarcasm. It’s all here. E-mail Steve by clicking here and see if he bothers to publish your letter. Every day, a
couple times a day, Steve will be updating his observations and taking cheap shots at strangers.Letters from people like you, and their mommies!

Mr. Marmel:

Please look up my son, Matt Sadler, at the
festival – he hocked everything he had (including
his dog) to go to Aspen hoping he would get his
“big fat chance”. . .he is really a funny kid …
you know, he kept us laughing his entire childhood
(you should have seen him at Halloween in this
cute little ballerina “tutu” and leotards when he
was fourteen looking like a short Barishnakov with
no potato) and now that he’s grown he is even
funnier. I know I’m his mom and I think he’s funny
because I love him, but I notice that other people
laugh at him all the time. Anyway, I just wanted
to make sure he made it to Aspen safely and
whether or not he got his “big break”. If you see
him, would you please ask him to call his mom?

— Matt Sadler’s Mom

Dear Matt’s Mom;

If your son is at the festival, he came on his own, and I salute
that. However, while he’s at the festival, he’s not really at the
festival. I have heard, from several people, that he was very
close to getting booked and is very funny. So funny, in fact,
that I won’t sit here and correct your spelling, or go into my
gigantic hunch that you’re actually Matt writing as his mom.

— Steve

I called Matt to read him the page aloud.

[scripty]
PAMIE
So, what’s up with that?

MATT
Oh, my God.  MOM!

PAMIE
It really was your mom?

MATT
Yes, that sounds just like her.

PAMIE
You sure it wasn’t Ray or Marc?

MATT
Oh my god.  Everyone is going to read that!

PAMIE
It says you’re funny.

MATT
It also talks about my “potato.”

PAMIE
That is so funny.

MATT
And it says he thinks I did it.  Oh, God.  Oh, God.  Dammit!  MOM!

PAMIE
So, I just thought I’d share that with you.  You made it in the festival news.

MATT
Thanks.
[/scripty]

Of the stories I’ve gotten to tell Eric so far, this one is his favorite.

I rode in nine modes of transportation on this trip:  car, ski, snow jet, sled, ambulance, bus, and ski lift.

I got to see some comedy.  I saw the troupes that beat us out to go this year.  I got to look at what people are looking for.  What the trends are.  I wanted it to inspire me to know what I wanted to do.  I wanted to hear the answers to things.  I wanted celebrities to take me under their wings and tell me how it really is and whether or not I had what it takes and if I should keep doing this thing or what.  I wanted to be amazed and fall in love with the art of comedy all over again.  I wanted to hear things that I would repeat to myself whenever I got nervous or discouraged.

And the best words that I heard the entire weekend were said to me thousands of miles in the air as my stomach and my brain were so discouraged that I just wanted to quit everything and go home:

If you smile and look where you want  to go and not where you are, your feet will just point you in the right direction.

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