Friday, March 19, 2010

Cindy and I - we recover from alcoholism together. We no longer run around barefoot crying (most of the time).

Hi Ding Dong Donkey Kongs, 

I know it’s been forever since I’ve written a “Nice to Meet Ya” blog - but I’ve been really busy thinking about writing one - so cut me some slack. That’d be crazy if you really did cut me some slacks and I wore them to a business casual type job that I hated. 

Anyway, in honor of having almost two years of sobriety,  I wanted to write about alcoholism. Some people think it's sort of depressing and don't like to talk about it. But, I believe people who don't like talking about alcoholism should; black out, pee in parking lots, lose their shoes, drive drunk hoping they get pulled over so they have someone to talk to, and make out with whoever is around every day, for years and years. Yeah, try that - then maybe we can have a discussion about what's depressing, you donkey. 

Ok - so in my sober adventures, I’ve talked to a lot of recovering alcoholics. We tell each other our stories and talk about how we recovered. Most of the time I just pretend to listen until it's my turn to talk. But, every once in awhile, I hear a story that blows my brain out of my skull and into a place I like to call “NO WAY”. 

So, ladies and gentleman, I’d like to introduce you to the star of this “Nice to Meet Ya”, Cindy. She's in recovery and I met her through a friend of a friend. She cracks me up. She does spot on impressions of people, and every once in a while she'll reveal an outrageous snippet from her past with a hilarious flare of casualness and sarcasm. After she tells a crazy story she’ll say something like, “Yeah, whaddyagawnna do?” with shrugged shoulders and sneaky smile. Not that her past doesn’t haunt her everyday. She’s not being dismissive about what she's done, not at all. Anyone who has spent years of their life being self destructive and oblivious of the wreckage they create is always mortified of their behavior once they sober up.  But, a fun part of recovery is realizing the truth, and sometimes you just have to laugh, otherwise you’ll cry yourself to death. 

Cindy has nearly 15 months of sobriety and has a backstory so weird and wild, I had to stop her in the middle of our interview and say “Listen, I can’t write all of this. I need you to email me your story in ... like.... a timeline format or something.” 

So - below is a combination of her and I writing out her crazy, crazies. To get you started, just know that Cindy grew up in LA, her family was wealthy, she started drinking in her teens and she had a son when she was 23 years old. She was a big drunk for more than 20 years and I think she gives the term "party on"  real meaning.  

Here we go now. 

1987 -  At the age of 20, Cindy got her first DUI. Blood Alcohol level was .17. Judge Lawrence Mira, the same judge that threw Robert Downey Jr. and Tommy Lee in jail, asked her if she thought she might have a “problem”. 

1989  - Her son was born. Super cutey pie baby.

1990  - Split with baby daddy. Drinking 2 to 3 glasses of wine a night. Progressively got worse. 

1994  - Ended up at St John's Hospital (chemical treatment center). She left after a week because she thought she "got it" (how to get stay sober).  Her friends would no longer drink with her or go out socially where alcohol was present. So she drank alone, a half gallon of wine nightly.   

1997 - She met Chris a high functioning, wealthy alcoholic.  He had kids, ages 4 and 2. Her son was 7 at this time.  They both drank like pigs on his 15 acre avocado ranch in Santa Paula, CA. 

1998  - She moved in with Chris. There were numerous domestic violence issues and police visits.

1999  - Her son was picked up at school by DCSF (Dept. of Child Family Services).  Her dad and step-mom fostered, while Cindy tried to get sober. She was told that she’d have to move away from Chris in order to regain custody.

1999 - She side swiped two parked cars while driving drunk. Left the scene, but since her tires were flat she left a solid black line from driving on the rims which led the cops to her parked car. She was charged with a hit and run and had to pay the owner of the two cars over $6000 in damages. Damn the evidence!

2000 - She drove off a cliff, the Ocean Ave Bluffs in Santa Monica. Suicide attempt. She dropped 150 feet and landed in a tree, the car split in two. She climbed out of the car window, slid down the rest of the cliff, walked across the Pacific Coast Highway, went to The Beach Club, told valet she thought she just drove off of a cliff and asked to talked the chef (she knew him). She ordered a whisky while pulling twigs out of her hair and waited for Chris to pick her up. 

Chris took her to his apartment, on the way they drove past the cop cars and rubber-neckers looking over the side of the cliff she flew off. They got a glimpse of the tracks leading to the edge. When they got home, Chris told his brother what happened, the brother called the cops. Cindy got freaked out and ran, police dogs found her hiding in a bush.  She wakes up in the hospital and is sent to a sober convent run by a nun. Cindy starts drinking again, the nun calls the cops and chases her around the convent. Juke left, go right! She moves back in with Chris.

Now here's where things really start to go downhill, pardon the pun. From 2001 to 2008, Cindy was in and out of hospitals and treatment centers, she lost custody of her son again, Chris committed suicide, and she drove to a police station drunk and passed out in the parking lot (easiest DUI ever handed out). Everyone cut her off and she took refuge in a homeless shelter.

Finally, on Dec 26th 2008, Cindy has her last drink. At a Sizzler! It was a glass of wine. Afterward, she went to the homeless shelter and had a grand mal seizure. One last trip to UCLA hospital, she detoxed for 12 days and her life starts over starting here. 


Oh, and lets not forget the random email she sent to me saying at some point she did go to Betty Ford - but almost forgot about it. 

I need to write something real quick to Cindy -

Jesus, Cindy! Your soul must be a burn victim or something!

Ok. That's it for now. Carrying on with my blog.

Please note- the aforementioned is only the big stuff. If you hang out with Cindy - just drive around town with her and she'll have a story for every neighborhood. Like the time she tried to run the stadium stairs in Santa Monica drunk, she fell and knocked a bunch of people down, a domino effect kicked in. She said, "Oh come on! Just tuck and roll!"

In the past 15 months of her sobriety, Cindy has a car that she drives (in between the lines), has a job lined up and, most importantly, she focuses on sobriety and rebuilding her relationship with her son, he's now 20 years old. She talks to him everyday and is a very cool, considerate mother.

I think it's amazing she was able to stop drinking. Alcoholism is a mental illness, we are wired differently then normal people and we CAN NOT stop, regardless of the consequences. And, a few of us lucky ones just stop and it's a God damn miracle. The tricky part is to stay stopped. The good thing about this Universe is that there are tools available (if they are sought) to help people live an amazing life in sobriety.

I didn't know Cindy when she was a drunk.  I've only witnessed her in sobriety being a really good friend, mom and overall human. So...lets all think good thoughts for Cindy for a minute. Do it! Don't be a dick and/or a donkey. Ok, thanks.

Alright, now watch the weirdest video I’ve ever made. Cindy wants to remain anonymous so I couldn’t video tape her head. Just press play! 



Monday, December 7, 2009

This isn't a Nice to Meet Ya post - but I did make a dance video.

The Dambler

Please watch it. Thanks!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sonia - Owner of Irv's Burgers and knows secrets about living a life.

Hi Turkey Master Basters,

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all are wearing sweaters, being thankful, and turning any family related suppressed rage into a stuff-your-face-till-you-pass-out-then-pray-you-crap-it-out-the-next-day type of activity. Seriously you guys don’t mess around this holiday season, dump your problems right out of your butt and get on with your life.

So this is the second installment of NICE TO MEET YA, a new blog where I interview someone I meet on planet Earth while I’m out and about pretending to be a human (I’m just a nervous system covered up by a tomboy body and clothes from Old Navy).

The lucky star of this NICE TO MEET YA segment is Sonia, a hamburger stand owner from South Korea. I met Sonia a few years ago at her place in West Hollywood, Irv’s Burgers. My friend was raving about it - not in the rave way where you wave a glow stick around like a drowning victim, take ecstasy, get all horned out and rub your body parts on other people’s body parts and hate yourself the next day. It was in that, “OH MY GOD, YOU HAVE TO GO TO IRV’S” rave way. I like saying the words “rave” and “way” in the same sentence. Do you? If so, lets go on an Internet date and judge each other. If not, you are probably really great at math – good for you!

Moving on. At Irv’s you walk up to the counter where Sonia greets you with a big smile and a genuine “Aahhh! How you doin? You look nice!” Then, she’ll crack a joke and before you even get the chance to laugh – she’s already laughing really loud at her own quick quip. You’ll start to giggle, she’ll giggle louder, and within seconds it feels like you’re at a bong-hit slumber party. Next, you order food and it’s delivered on a paper plate with “Just for you!” written on the side and a cute little picture she draws. She’s a personalizing genius, she could figure out how to sell a hole to an ass . What? Now look at some food!

Chicken and Rice Bowl with Sonia's signature doodles.

The more you go to Irv’s, the more Sonia becomes a real friend. A couple years ago when I was upset over a dumb boy, she spoon fed me chicken and rice. While I sobbed she rubbed my back, fed me, and told me how great I was. It worked. I felt better, got my confidence back, and started dating some other loser a few days later (she can’t cure stupidity, but she can make you feel nice).

It’s Sonia’s personality that has made Irv's semi-famous. The food is good, but she’s fascinating. She’s gotten a lot of press and has a crap load of regulars including Daryl Hall from Holland and Oats, Jerry Cantral from Alice in Chains and Drew Barrymore from Hollywood/Showbiz. Are you impressed? If you aren’t, maybe you need to know that Daryl probably has a penis, Jerry loves french fries with tarter sauce, and Drew still has a lisp. How do you feel now? Think about it.

I sat down with Sonia and asked her how she stays so slap happy all of the time. Here’s a mini Q & A (Her accent is as thick as my ripped quads).

Me: Sonia! Thanks for chatting with me. I need to ask you something. You are always so happy, how do you do it?

Her: Haha! Oh.. I don’t know. I just need to be nice to the customers. I learned that if I am happy and nice to people, I can see them get happy. I learned how to work with people and it feels good if I see them get happy.

Me: What do you do when you get a grouchy customer?

Her: I try not to get on their nerves. You can tell by someone’s face if they are a happy person or not. You can see it on their face. I stay calm and take their order.

Me: Yeah. Good idea. Jerks are easy to spot by their weirdo faces and they usually get annoyed with happy people.

Her: Haha! Yeah, they have stupid face.

Me: What do you do when you get upset? How do you get over it?

Her: I let it go as soon as I can. I don’t keep it in and I move on.

Me: See! That’s it. That's where I go wrong. Sometimes I like to sit and stew in the problem. I'll marinate in the negativity, until I get so uncomfortable that I'm forced to get over it or I'll die. You're way seems a lot easier.

Sonia: (Silent with a smile).

Me: Alright. Well. Sonia, you are great and I know a lot of people love you because you make them happy.

Sonia: Ahhhh! Amber, I love you too! Hahahahaha! Hahahaha!

End of Q & A chunk.

Her philosophy on life is simple, cliché-ish “Let it go, move on, be happy”. I wanted it to be way more complicated. I wanted her to have some dramatic story that she told in an over analytical way as tears streamed down her face. That’s the recovering alcoholic in me “Tell me what a horrible person you used to be, how you fixed yourself, and please cry right now. Thanks. Bye”.

I'm done writing. Go see Sonia at Irv's Burgers on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Sweetzer in West Hollywood, CA.

Below is a weirdo video. Watch it!

Ok. Bye bye.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Trent - Former Weinershnitzle Employee Turned Camp Counselor

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to my new column, “Nice To Meet Ya”. It’s about random
people I meet at coffee shops, Jiffy Lube, Runyon Canyon, comedy
shows, Planned Parenthood, the gas station on Fairfax and Sunset,

What’s so effin interesting about that? Well, I don’t know ....lets
just see ok? God damn it – take off your cynical glasses and put on
a monocle. Way to go three eyes!


This summer I accompanied a very cool kid with autism to a summer
camp in Brentwood, CA for a month. Lets call the kid, Smooth (ladies
love him). The camp was very clean, safe, and PC– seriously– I have
nothing even remotely crazy to write about this place. The wildest
thing there was a Jumbo Bounce shaped like an elephant. Smooth
and I jumped in it everyday, while he acted out scenes from
FINDING NEMO, I’d pretend we were just eaten by an elephant.

The camp, of course, had camp counselors. Most of them were
college boys. I’d have these pseudo conversations with them
realizing we had nothing in common AT ALL, then I’d fantasize
about dating them and bossing them around in the bedroom.
Now I know what’s it’s like for older men who date younger chicks.

Uninspiring and sex-o-licious!

But, I have to hand it to Trent, a very cool 20 year old counselor who
taught the “music and motion” class. Smooth loved Trent’s class and
that’s why I decided to interview him. He’d have puppet shows, drum
dances and random screaming sessions– I’d sit and watch Smooth
watch Trent, he has a sense of self-awareness about him and
Smooth always pegs people who have “it”.

Trent and I would play basketball in the morning before the cutey
campers would arrive. He’s about a foot taller than me and I’d still
manage to destroy his manliness with my three pointers and behind
the back-crossover-double pump-lay ups.

When I asked him if I could interview him he said, “Sure!”

Here we go now. The Interview:

Me: Thank you for letting me interview you.

Him: No problem.

Me: Where are you from?

Him: I grew up all over Utah, Nevada, California, Florida – we were
like gypsies. We were poor and bounced around to different family

Me: Wow. Way to go, man. What made you decide to be a camp counselor?

Him: It’s better than working on a booze cruise, I worked on one
once and it was the worst job ever.

Me: Maybe next time you should work on a boobs cruise. (Beat)
Where else have you worked?

Him: I’ve been a cab dispatcher, a shoe salesmen…I worked at

Me: Wienerschnitzel -that word is so fun. Did anything crazy happen there?

Him: No, not at Wienerschnitzel. But, when I was a shoe salesman, old
women would proposition me all the time. This one old lady threw
herself on the desk and got in my face and asked me when I got off
work. She wanted it.

Me: Did you tag it after you clocked out?

Him: No. But, when a woman would “offer herself to me” I’d
think about it every time. I never did. I’m too much of a wuss.

Me: Do you have a girlfriend now?

Him: No, I dumped her. She was too clingy.

Me: Yeah, get rid of that bitch.

Him: She’s actually really nice and we are still friends.

Me: Ok. Ummm. When we first met, were you intimidated by
my sweet basketball moves?

Him: Yes, very much. You are a fast little package. You’re like the
human version of a can of red bull. You make me feel inadequate.

Me: Some other guy just told me that! Are you intimidated by
confident women?

Him: No, I have four sisters so I learned at an early age about lady
smack downs.

Me: So, what’s up with this camp? It seems so nice and normal.
Where’s the drama around here?

Him: I don’t know…some people hook up I guess, but I’m not into any of that.

Me: Nice. Do you party a lot?

Him: No. Not really, I’m pretty focused on my goals.

Me: Well, Smooth really likes you. He sat through your entire puppet show.

Him: That’s awesome. I’m happy he liked it. He’s a fascinating kid.

Me: Yeah, he has good taste. So… you wanna be an actor (discussed
this in previous conversation). Film and TV or stage?

Him: Definitely stage. I think, as an actor, you get to grow with the
character more, and there is fulfillment with stage acting. With TV
and Film you get recognition but I don’t want recognition. I want

Me: I want recognition, but appreciate your take on acting.

Me: Ok. Well – any words of wisdom to close out the interview?


Me: Oh yeah. Weed! Ok. Got it! Legalize it. I will let the people know.

The End.

Ok. That’s it. The interview is over. I wonder if anyone thinks this
is interesting. Who cares.

Watch the video, it's super short.

Amber Tozer