hiatus, part 6

March 5, 2008

Heidi is cooking dinner and watching “Dharma and Greg.” Really she’s cooking dinner but really really she’s watching “Dharma and Greg.” She’s trying to do both things at once, which is hard, but she’s trying, which is good, it’s good to try. It’s 5:25. She’s watching the episode of “Dharma and Greg” where Greg takes Dharma to a football game and then Dharma becomes obsessed with football and then Greg gets annoyed and hurt but in the end it all works out. She saw the episode yesterday and now she’s watching it a second time today. “Dharma and Greg” comes on two times every day, at 5:00 and 5:30. The first episode is a repeat of the episode from the day before and then the second episode is a new episode. Well, not really a new episode, they’re all reruns, but Heidi didn’t watch “Dharma and Greg” when she was younger so a lot of the episodes are new to her, except of course the ones she’s already seen. Lauren used to say that they weren’t reruns, they were vintage television. Lauren could wear vintage things and pull them off, but that’s not Heidi’s style, she has to wear new things. Like on “Project Runway” they say “make it work,” but for Heidi, it’s “make it new.” Heidi can’t watch “Project Runway” anymore because of Lauren, because of what it makes her remember and think about and feel. Heidi and Lauren used to go to vintage stores together even though Heidi could never find anything she liked at them except one time a pair of earrings. Heidi could never find anything she liked at them, eventually she just gave up on finding anything she liked at them – she would pretend to look for a couple of minutes and then she would sit down and watch Lauren in dusty mirrors for hours. The mirrors were always dusty, Heidi always coughed at vintage stores because of the dust, that was how she knew she didn’t really belong in them.

“Dharma and Greg” comes on at 5:00 and 5:30 and Heidi always tries to watch it both times, at 5 and at 5:30. It’s a repeat from the previous day at 5:00, but Heidi’s memory isn’t that good so when she watches it at 5:00, it feels almost brand new but more comfortable, softer. Sometimes they’re filming or she has to be at Bolthouse or they have to do some pictures for PCN or she has other important things to fit into her important busy schedule, but most days she tries very hard to arrange her life so she can be home between 5:00 and 6:00. Between 5:00 and 6:00 is when Spencer goes to the gym for his second session, lower body, so Heidi likes to be home then so she can have her personal time, all alone, and during her personal time, which is hers, which she owns, which belongs to her, Heidi likes to watch “Dharma and Greg.” Spencer doesn’t like to watch “Dharma and Greg,” in fact, Spencer thinks “Dharma and Greg” is stupid and crap. That’s a fact, he said it, he came home early from the gym once and looked at the TV and said, “This is stupid, why do you watch this crap, Hides?” He said she should be watching something more educational and contemporary and important to her future and then they had a fight and she yelled and slammed the door and now he doesn’t come home from the gym early anymore. He also doesn’t call her “Hides” anymore, at least he tries not to, he swears.

Heidi knows that maybe “Dharma and Greg” is stupid, that other people like Spencer think that “Dharma and Greg” is stupid and even though Heidi doesn’t think it’s stupid, she understands that it’s a possibility that it’s stupid. But then other people think that Heidi is stupid, sometimes Spencer thinks Heidi is stupid, sometimes he says Heidi is stupid, but Heidi knows she isn’t stupid, so maybe also “Dharma and Greg” isn’t stupid even though other people say it is. That’s logic, like computer programming. Heidi likes to watch television but at the same time she knows that watching television isn’t a constructive activity, it’s entertainment, so she tries to do other things while she watches television in order to better use her free time. Like for example she will read her book about history while she is watching “Dharma and Greg” or she will clean the living room while she is watching “Dharma and Greg” or she will call her mom while she is watching “Dharma and Greg” or she will move the cofee table and do some light aerobics and crunches while she is watching “Dharma and Greg.” This can be difficult, it’s sometimes difficult to do two things at once, the thing and the other thing, sometimes she gets distracted, it’s easy to get distracted, but Heidi thinks it’s important to challenge herself because that’s how you grow.

Heidi’s not doing those other things today, though, she’s cooking dinner. Heidi’s cooking dinner, but she’s not really cooking dinner. Cooking dinner is a difficult activity that a lot of people find intimidating. A lot of people don’t cook because they find it intimidating and difficult. There are so many things that can go wrong when you’re cooking, like it might not taste good and fire and you might not have all the ingredients you need and food poisoning and cutting yourself and salmonella. You don’t get salmonella from salmon, you get it from chicken — why don’t they call it chickenella? Heidi’s cooking dinner but she’s not really cooking dinner, she’s reheating dinner. She’s reheating dinner from Don Antonio’s last night. They always order dinner from Don Antonio’s on Tuesdays – Spencer calls it Taco Tuesdays. On Taco Tuesdays, Brody and Frankie and the boys used to come over and play video games, but now they don’t come over so Spencer just watches CNBC and Fox Business and looks at his laptop like every other day. Heidi doesn’t even really like tacos – when she did the Taco Bell ad, she actually spit out her bite of taco into a napkin, why waste the calories – but Heidi knows how important tacos are to Spencer, how much he cares about tacos, so she makes a sacrifice and eats a taco salad and pretends to like flan. Heidi puts Spencer’s tacos on a tray in the oven so they’ll be crispier for him, they get crispier that way, she saw it on the Food Network. Compromise is important to a successful relationship.

A new episode of “Dharma and Greg” comes on. Heidi loves the theme song to “Dharma and Greg.” Really, Heidi usually likes theme songs with words, theme songs she can sing along to, like “Friends” or “The OC,” she loved that song from “The OC,” California, California, but she also likes theme songs without words, like the “Dharma and Greg” theme song or the “Sex and the City” theme song. Heidi thinks that the “Sex and the City” theme song sounds like drinking a mojito tastes. The theme song to “Dharma and Greg” makes a feeling in her that is like a key unlocking something, it’s a feeling like the feeling she got when she was a kid and her parents let her stay up an extra hour after her bedtime, that’s what the theme song feels like to her.

Even though Heidi isn’t really cooking dinner, she really is cooking desert. Or baking, that’s the right word, that’s the one you use for desserts, that’s proper. Baking. She’s baking apple pie, she’s baking her mom’s recipe for homemade apple pie, from scratch. Her mom bakes apple pie from scratch in Colorado in the small town where Heidi is from, where Heidi was born, and she mixes the ingredients in an old wooden bowl that was her grandmother’s or her great grandmother’s or somebody’s. When Heidi was too short to see over the kitchen counter, she thought that making pie from scratch meant that her mom used her fingernails to scratch the dough and the apples and the butter. She thought that the holes in the top of a pie crust were the scratch, that the scratch was what made it taste good.

Making and baking a pie is difficult and intimidating. Not all of making a pie is like that, part of making a pie is easy. The part of making a pie that’s easy is the part with the apples and sugar and cinnamon, the filling. You just cut up the apples and you mix everything together in the bowl and you can’t really mess up, you can’t ruin it. Even if you don’t get the measuring exactly right, it is still butter and sugar and apples and cinnamon that tastes good no matter what. Brown sugar, how come you taste so good, oh yeah. Sugar and spice and everything nice. The hard part of making a pie is making the crust. Heidi’s doesn’t like having to press the butter and the flour and the shortening together, she doesn’t like having to squish it to make it come together, it’s gross and it makes her hands feel gross and it doesn’t smell good like apples and sugar and cinnamon. And that’s not even the hard part. The hard part is when you have to roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Heidi bought a rolling pin, she liked that part, she liked going to the store and picking out her rolling pin, but you roll it out and you have to be really careful and then you have to make the bottom crust and the top crust. The bottom crust is easier than the top crust because you have to lay the top crust on top of the pie and you have to measure exactly how big the pie is and you have to focus and then the pie crust tears. Heidi’s crust tore so much that she couldn’t use it any more, she had to go the store with flour on her clothes, with bad hair, to buy more ingredients and make another crust and then that crust was hard to make too and Heidi didn’t know what to do.

But now it’s over, it’s done, Heidi has done it, Heidi has made the pie perfect, it is a perfect pie – all she has to do is bake it, after the tacos are done. Heidi looks at her pie, it looks beautiful. Obviously a pie can’t be perfect, nothing can be perfect, no one can be perfect, people and things can try very hard to be perfect and never succeed, but Heidi’s pie is very close to being perfect. She wishes she had made the pie from a recipe in a magazine instead of her mom’s recipe card so she could compare her pie and the picture of the pie in the magazine, because they would probably look exactly the same, that’s how perfect her pie is. Heidi takes a picture of the pie with her phone so that she can e-mail it to her mom. Her mom will be so proud. Her mom is always proud of her, but when Heidi does good things, her mom is extra proud of her, Heidi can tell. The difference in proudness is like the difference between white sugar and brown sugar.

It’s 5:45. In the new episode of Dharma and Greg, which Heidi actually saw a couple of weeks ago, Greg is depressed because his boss gave him a “Very Good” rating instead of a “Superior” rating at work. Heidi thinks there is a difference between very good and superior but that people should be happy when other people think they are doing a good job and not worry about being the best. Heidi knows that she’s not “superior” at a lot of things but she would be happy if people thought she was “very good” at some things, just a few things, just the things that are most important to her. In the other part of the episode, Dharma starts a business that doesn’t sell anything. This makes Greg frustrated and more depressed because it doesn’t make sense to him. It doesn’t make sense to Heidi either, but Heidi’s not very much like Dharma. Dharma is such a free spirit. Some people would say that, that Dharma’s a free spirit, but what does that mean, a free spirit? Does her spirit come out of her body at night and fly around her bedroom like a ghost? How is it free? Does it have something to do with money? Do other people have to pay for their spirits, does it cost them something, but for some reason Dharma was a lucky person and hers came free? Heidi saw on the Discovery Channel how in Ancient Greece people were buried with coins over their eyes to pay to get into heaven – they had real video of the coins being put on the Ancient Greek peoples’ eyes. In some religions, like Ancient Greek religions or Ancient Egyptian religions, which Heidi also saw a show about, you had to pay for your spirit. In the past they used coins, but maybe nowadays you have to get a loan or a high interest credit card to pay for your spirit because of inflation and the Euro. Heidi feels lucky to be a Christian, that Jesus died for her spirit and that she doesn’t have to pay for it because He paid for it. She wonders if he paid for it with dollars or Euros and how much did it cost, how much was it worth? But at the same time that Heidi is happy she doesn’t have to pay for her spirit, it doesn’t feel free, it doesn’t always feel like she totally controls it and can do with it what she wants. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, except sometimes Brent buys them for her.

Dharma has a free spirit and that causes a lot of problems for Greg, like in the episode where she gets put in jail for starting a fight at a hockey game or like in the episode where she almost burns their apartment down or like in this episode where he doesn’t understand her business that doesn’t sell anything. Greg is the opposite of Dharma; he is serious and important and he cares about business and money and important and relevant and serious and contemporary things. But at the same time, Greg loves Dharma and her free spirit. How does it work? How can two people who are so opposite find things between them that are unopposite? Heidi worries sometimes that she doesn’t have enough in common with Spencer. Heidi read in Cosmo that it’s important to share some activities with your man that he enjoys doing. Heidi tries to watch the business channels and the politcal channels on television with Spencer, but she doesn’t like them. It’s just people talking at each other or arguing with each other or shouting at each other and Heidi doesn’t believe in arguments and shouting, they make babies cry. She tried to play video games with him for awhlile but he always won so she quit. When Heidi played board games with her dad sometimes he would let her win, she knew, she knew he was letting her, and it made her feel nice that her dad cared enough to let her win.

Heidi likes the end of “Dharma and Greg” best. At the end of “Dharma and Greg,” everything always works out. Everything always works out except sometimes when it’s a two-part episode, like a cliff hanger. Cliff hangers are called that because they make you feel like you’re hanging off a cliff, which is not a good way to feel. But most of the time, almost all the time, everything or almost everything works out. In the last two minutes of the episode, the problem that Dharma has with Greg is solved or the problem that Greg has with Dharma is solved and they find the way they love each other again and usually they touch each other too, Heidi always notices, like not sexual at all but just because they can’t help but feel the other person, and the audience claps because they are all watching and the feeling the feeling too. Sometimes Heidi starts to clap or go “oooh” and then she realizes she is alone on the couch and not in the audience, but Heidi loves the feeling that the ending gives her, like a pretty pink ribbon is being tied up inside her heart, into a bow like little girls wear when they dress up for church.

The end of “Dharma and Greg” is the best part, but also it’s the worst part because it means that feeling ends until the next day and Heidi has to live without that feeling until the next day. It fades away so fast. Heidi wishes she could stretch the feeling out like dough and it wouldn’t tear, it would just keep stretching until it covered everything and everyone in her life. Heidi wonders why seeing herself on television doesn’t give her the same feeling. It seems like if seeing Dharma and Greg be happy on television makes her happy and gives her the feeling then seeing Heidi and Spencer be happy on television should make her happy and give her the feeling, but it doesn’t and she wonders why. She thinks about that episode that showed them when it was her birthday and Spencer gave her her presents at dinner, the shoes and the coat. It’s not that it doesn’t give her a good feeling to see herself on television, it does, it gives her a good feeling, it gives her a great feeling sometimes, but it’s not the same feeling. Heidi feels something when she sees herself on TV or in a magazine or on the internet, she feels a good feeling, but she doesn’t feel enough, it doesn’t fill her up, it’s just a snack. It’s like measuring spoons and measuring cups. Heidi wants to feel as much as in a measuring cup but all she feels is as much as in a measuring spoon. What is the recipe for happiness, how many ingredients does it take, how much? Heidi wonders if maybe you can’t have that feeling about yourself, you can only have it about other people, like Dharma and Greg.

“Dharma and Greg” ends. It’s 6:01, the news is on. The news is saying something about Britney, there is some video of her in a car at night and there are flashes of light, so many. The news is saying something about a hospital. Heidi doesn’t understand. Did Britney get struck by lightning? Lighting never strikes twice. Or does it, is that the saying, which is it? Heidi feels warm. She hears the front door open. Spencer is home. It’s 6:02. Heidi’s time is over, personal time is over, now it’s time to be together, now it’s time to be a couple. A couple means two, it’s a number and it’s also a relationship. A couple is like a pair but in a pair, the things are the same, they match, but in a couple the things don’t have to be the same, they don’t have to match, in fact, a lot of the times they don’t match because finding a thing that matches another thing is hard to do, very hard. A pear is a fruit you can use to make pie, a match is a stick you can use to make fire. Spencer says something but Heidi isn’t listening, she isn’t looking, she’s not ready to listen to him or look at him yet, she’s not ready for personal time to be over yet. It’s 6:03. She’s trying to stretch the feeling over her like a blanket, like a fort, like a snow day. “Heidi,” Spencer says and he grabs her shoulder and he shakes her, he pulls her back and forth. Heidi looks at him, she has to look at him, but she can’t see him because of something. What is it, why can’t she see him?

It’s smoke, there’s smoke, smoke is everywhere, smoke is filling the house. It’s not a house, it’s a home. It’s not a house, it’s a condo. The night she moved in, Heidi made dinner for Spencer. Really, she tried to make dinner for Spencer, she wanted to make dinner for him, she thought it would be a nice thing, like a thing people would do in a movie when they move in together. Heidi tried to make spaghetti but the pot wasn’t big enough and the water kept boiling over the side. She would blow on it and stir it and it would stop but then she would turn away to talk to Spencer or just look at him for a second and it would boil over again, it kept boiling over. Heidi wondered how it could keep boiling over, there was only so much water, where was the water coming from?

In the smoke, Spencer is running across the room to the kitchen, like a fireman about to put out a fire, like a hero in a movie. My hero. A hero is a sandwich, but a sandwich isn’t a hero. That first night in the condo they had sandwiches because the pot wasn’t big enough to make spaghetti in. They were good sandwiches, Heidi remembers, with fresh baked chips, barbecue flavored. Heidi gets up from the couch and goes into the kitchen. It’s hard to lift her legs, it’s hard to move them, it’s like she has to remind them, “left, right, left.” Doing two things at once is difficult because sometimes you forget about the one thing or you forget about the other thing; there are two things to remember and that’s twice as many as one. That’s hard, that can be hard for anyone, anyone can make a mistake, everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect, even if they try really hard. In the kitchen, it’s smokier. The tacos are burned, they’re black – Spencer pulls them out of the oven and puts them onto the stove next to her perfect pie. The pan is touching the edge of her perfect pie and Heidi wants to say something or move it but she’s afraid, it doesn’t feel right, she doesn’t feel like she has permission. The condo is filled with smoke. It’s not a house, it’s a home. It’s not a home, it’s a condo. When Heidi put on the apron that first night in the kitchen, in their kitchen, in the condo, in their condo, which they would share together, Spencer grabbed her around her waist and he said, “Well, look what we have here, Miss Heidi’s playing house,” and he swung her around a little bit in the kitchen, like a ride. She said, she remembers exactly what she said, she said, “Well, uh, actually, mister, this is a condo, so really, I’m playing condo.” When she said it, Spencer laughed and while he laughed, he looked at her with this look in his eyes like, you are funny, you are smart, you are unique, you are an individual, you deserve my love. He looked at her like all those looks and she felt like a genius, like a superstar, like Madonna and Julia Roberts and some kind of fancy scientist, she felt important and true and real, she felt like she was giving an acceptance speech for an award she had won without even trying. It’s not a home, it’s a house. It’s not a house, it’s a condo. Heidi looks at Spencer, but he’s not looking at her and even if he was, he wouldn’t look at her like that, not anymore, he doesn’t look at her like that, not anymore. It’s not a house, it’s a condo. Heidi looks above her perfect pie, at the stove, at the clock, at the numbers. It’s 6:05, now it’s time to be together.

 

hiatus, part 5

February 12, 2008

Lauren doesn’t know if she’s having trouble breathing. Lauren doesn’t know if she’s having trouble breathing because she’s really having trouble breathing or because she thinks she’s having trouble breathing. Lauren’s talking on the phone to Scott, her producer, about the situation, about the breathing and the bubble and the air. Lauren’s talking to him in the kitchen on her iPhone. Is she having trouble breathing because she’s talking on the phone? Should she talk quieter or not breathe as hard, does that make a difference, does Scott know? Is this plastic sheeting around the house, which Scott calls the bubble, is the bubble being filled with air for them to breathe? Is Scott sure about that, is someone checking on it, is there a clipboard where someone has literally checked off, in blue or black ink, “fill the bubble with air for them to breathe”?

Lauren’s talking on the phone to Scott, her producer. When she first found the bubble, she was scared and she called her dad, but he didn’t pick up. She called her mom but she didn’t pick up. Lauren didn’t know why her parents wouldn’t be picking up the phone. She didn’t know why her parents wouldn’t be picking up the phone on a Monday morning and it made her even more scared, like what are they doing that they couldn’t pick up for Lauren, their daughter, who they love? That’s when she started to have trouble breathing.

Then she called Scott and he picked up and she was relieved, at least sort of. Really it’s good that she called Scott, it’s better that she talked to Scott than them, and he agrees with this, because Scott is in LA and Scott knows things, especially things about her life, because that’s his job. Scott’s job is that he knows things about her life that are interesting for television, but that also means that he just knows things about life, like how the terror alert level has been raised to red (there should be an iPhone application to tell you when the terror alert is raised, like the one that tells you about the weather), like how the gas appeared and people collapsed on lawns and in parking lots, like how there is plastic sheeting around her house and her neighbors’ houses to protect them from the gas because they are in a high risk area, like how the gas is in some areas and not others, like how Scott is in an area where there is no gas but is blocked off from Lauren’s area, like how Lauren’s parents are fine but some communications are blocked right now because of the government, like why her cable and internet are out, like a lot of things. Scott knows a lot of things and Lauren is glad he knows these things. Lauren likes have all the information on a subject so she can make informed decisions – this is the way good business is done.

Does Scott know if there is enough clean air in the bubble for she and Audrina and Audrina’s boy all to live? Audrina and her boy are out on the lawn, feeling the edges of the bubble. Lauren is watching them through the kitchen window. The boy isn’t wearing a shirt, just pants. If he was good looking or if they were decent pants, it wouldn’t seem trashy. Do they need to weigh themselves to see how much air needs to be pumped in? Lauren knows from movies about space that it’s important how much you weigh because people who weigh more take up more air – that’s why they don’t let fat people into space. Lauren weighs herself every morning. Obviously she weighs more at the end of the day, but she doesn’t weigh herself at the end of the day because that’s unnecessary and can trigger body image issues and emotional eating. If Scott asks how much she weighs, should she tell him what she weighs in the morning or should she add some pounds to the number to be safe, to get some extra air pumped in? Lauren doesn’t want to make herself sound fat, but what if Audrina lies about how much she weighs? Audrina drinks too much beer at those bars and skips the gym sometimes and she might lie to Lauren about how much she weighs and if she lies then they might not get enough air and then they might die, unless Lauren saves them by pretending to be fat. Lauren always has to be the responsible one.

If someone has to stop breathing, shouldn’t it be Audrina’s boy? Lauren thinks of the reasons he should have to stop breathing so she’ll be prepared if she has to say them to Audrina in an important moment. One, because he’s bigger and a boy and so he takes up more air. Two, because he’s a stranger and he doesn’t have the close emotional bond that Lauren and Audrina have developed over several years. Three, because this is Lauren’s house and she paid 2.2 million dollars for it and now she owns it and it’s hers. Lauren won’t say three unless she absolutely has to, but if she absolutely has to, she’ll say three. Whenever she complained when she was in middle school, her dad would say, “When it’s your house, you get to make up the rules.”

Lauren wishes she could talk to her dad, her dad would know what to do, he would take control of the situation. Her dad was always strict, but rules and discipline are what make dreams and wishes possible. Scott keeps telling Lauren to calm down. Lauren hates it when people tell her to “chill” or “chill out” or “cool off” or “cool it” or “calm down” or “relax,” she hates all of those phrases. Some people are not naturally calm and relaxed – some people are naturally anxious and sympathetic, some people are naturally devoted and lonely, some people are naturally caring and stressed, but this doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with them, it’s just who they are. A lot of people who are naturally calm and relaxed are often lazy or stupid or don’t have the drive to succeed that other people like Lauren have and so who is better now, these calm and relaxed people? Lauren doesn’t think so. If you have lemons, you make lemonade. Lauren never had a lemonade stand when she was a girl, but she always liked the idea when she saw it in movies.

The conversation with Scott ends because he’s getting a call with more information about her situation. Even though Scott doesn’t seem to know everything he should, Lauren likes the idea of people caring about her and trying to find out information about her situation. She likes the idea of Scott in his office with a folder that says “Lauren Conrad” and inside the folder is information and notes about her situation and maybe some pictures. She likes the idea that he is having his assistant and interns call the authorities for information about her situation. She likes the idea of Team Lauren, she loved when that happened, she kept the t-shirt they gave her it even though it wasn’t the right fit.

Lauren sits down at the kitchen table with her magazines and a container of non-fat strawberry yogurt and a bottle of water. She spreads her magazines out in front of her on the table, all of them, Lucky and Us and InTouch, Cosmo and Cosmogirl, Vogue and Teen Vogue, Seventeen and and YM, Self and Shape. Lauren loves her magazines, each and every one. She has subscriptions to all of them and she loves how subscriptions work, she finds how subscriptions work comforting, mail arriving at her home at certain times every week and every month, on schedule, on time, in thin wrapping and envelopes that you get to tear open like presents.

Lauren tries to read the new issue of Cosmo. She tries to read the new issue – she flips through the pages as she eats her yogurt, but she can’t connect to any of it, it doesn’t mean anything to her, now, in this moment. There’s no advice about how you should act during a terrorist gas attack, what you should wear, what shows you should watch, good songs to listen to – there’s no quiz to take. Lauren looks out at Audrina and her boy on the lawn. They are kissing, Audrina and the boy with his shirt off, sitting in the grass. The position they are in, the way his arms are around her, is actually really unflattering and makes Audrina look even fatter than she is. Audrina never listens to Lauren when Lauren tries to give her style tips, even though Lauren is kind of an expert and a lot of people think she is stylish and she has been quoted in magazines. Audrina always gets really bitchy about it, which is so rude, especially since Lauren is letting her stay in a room in her new house for free.

But at least Audrina has someone, even if he is ugly, even if he doesn’t dress well, he is someone, he is a person, he is a male person, with arms and strength. What if there is more gas or an explosion or what if there are real terrorists that come to the house, men in hoods with guns? Even though Lauren is a strong and successful and attractive and independent young woman who has a lot going for her in her life right now and doesn’t need the distraction that a stupid boy would provide, it feels important to her to have a stupid boy right now, with muscles that she can hold on to, with things to grip. That should have been an article in Cosmo, how it’s important to have a boyfriend in a terrorist attack.

Lauren put her fingers on her neck to try to check her pulse, like in gym class in school, but she doesn’t feel anything. In gym class in school, she didn’t feel anything either, she just pretended to and copied the pulse rate of the girl next to her. It didn’t seem important to have a pulse then, but now it seems very important to have a pulse; Lauren wants a pulse so bad, she wants to feel the blood moving through her neck in rhythm, on time. She knows that she has a pulse, she knows that she wouldn’t be sitting up and eating yogurt and breathing and pressing her fingers to her neck if she didn’t have a pulse, but all the same she just wants to feel it so she can really know that it’s there. Lauren presses her fingers against her neck and waits to feel something.

hiatus, part 4

January 31, 2008

Heidi is working. Heidi is working at Bolthouse. Heidi is at work at Bolthouse. Heidi is doing her job at Bolthouse. Heidi is getting some work done at Bolthouse. Which one sounds better? Which one sounds more professional? Heidi is professionally doing her work at Bolthouse? Is that right, can you use it in that way? On her business card, what should it say – “Heidi Montag, Professional Worker”? “Heidi Montag, Working Professional”? Like, if her mom called, Heidi would probably say, “I’m at Bolthouse, mom, doing some important work,” and her mom would ooh like she always does. If Brent called, well, he wouldn’t call, he would just walk over because he’s next door. If Spencer called, she would probably say “I’m at work,” because with Spencer she doesn’t have to pretend, well, at least she doesn’t have to pretend in that way. And anyway it’s not like he has a job, but that’s okay, he has a lot of options, he’s keeping his options open. It’s important for me to keep my options open, he said, and for now I have my Heidi to bring home the bacon. He said that to Heidi and then he kissed her in the middle of the restaurant right in her chair and a lot of people watched and it made her feel good and better and best.

Bring home the bacon. Why do people say that? Was maybe bacon really important at one time, like it was like gold, so when people brought home bacon they were bringing home money? Salt was like that once, salt was really important. People killed each other for salt, they fought wars about salt. Now you can get it for free everywhere, like at McDonalds. Jews don’t eat bacon, but Jews have all the money, so maybe that story isn’t true. A myth is a story that isn’t true but sometimes people believe it anyway, like evolution. Bacon is best with pancakes, but pancakes are bad because of all the carbs. Bacon is bad because of saturated fat, but if you do Atkins then it’s okay. But people don’t do Atkins anymore because of the saturated fat, so maybe it’s not okay.

Heidi is working. That’s the away message she finally settles on – “Heidi is working.” Simple, clean. It makes her feel good. Working is important. Working out is important. A healthy mind is a healthy body and the other way around. Heidi went to yoga class once with Lauren. At the end of the class, the teacher had them sit and meditate. Heidi sat and pretended to meditate but didn’t really meditate, because the teacher said you sometimes see things when you meditate, like light or a vision or something, and Heidi didn’t want to maybe see a vision of the yoga god. The yoga god was in a painting on the wall in the yoga room. The yoga god looked scary and had a lot of arms and heads and eyes and looked scary. Heidi sat and pretended to meditate, which was harder than she thought it would be. Concentrating on pretending to not concentrate takes a lot of concentration. After class, Heidi asked if Lauren saw anything when she meditated, like light or a vision or something, and Lauren laughed and then they got drive-through french fries.

Working is important. Heidi is supposed to call some people about some things. These are important calls that have to be made so that things can happen so that other things can happen. Brent gave her a list of the people to call and their phone numbers and the reasons she is supposed to call them and the things she is supposed to say when she calls. Also she has to fill out some paperwork with some information and then courier it to some people so that things don’t get delayed. Delays are bad and they cost money. Time is money. Time flies. Also she has to organize her desk because it’s getting way messy and messes are bad and unprofessional. Also she has to write some lyrics, but that’s not work. Well it is work, it’s hard work, really, but it’s not work work, so it really shouldn’t count in her work list but just in her general to-do list.

A pop-up pops-up and Heidi clicks it shut, but it won’t click shut, it stays there, stuck. The computer freezes and Heidi has to pull out the battery and unplug it so it can restart and now she’s lost so much valuable time that she could be using to get things done like making calls or filling out paperwork or the other job related tasks that she does every day. Computers are annoying. Why is it called freezing if the computer doesn’t get cold? Heidi hates distractions. Focusing is hard as it is. A lot of people have a hard time focusing. There are just so many things. The world is full of things and you have to decide what things are important and what things are not important and not just that but what things are important to you and what things are important to other people like Spencer and what things are important to your job and not just that but what things are important right now and what things will be important later and what things will be important even later. The things are all around you and it’s hard to focus because there’s just so many of them.

Working is hard. Writing is hard. Sometimes things are so hard and it gets to you, it makes you sad. Heidi has a notebook in her desk and she uses it when she has ideas for lyrics for songs. It has a picture of a unicorn on the front. It’s like a school notebook for little girls from Walmart. Heidi grew up in a small town, so much smaller than LA. When Heidi was in middle school, they got a Walmart. Spencer got the notebook for her and said it was for her songs. Writing lyrics is hard. Heidi is so glad she’s got her new producer. Her new producer is black and black people are better at music than white people. Heidi is not racist. She loves Stevie Wonder and she wants to make music like him. Sometimes she closes her eyes while she’s recording vocals and pretends that’s she’s blind too. Blind people can’t see things so they don’t get distracted by the things they see – they have less things to deal with. Heidi wants less things, she wants to block the things out so she can find the things in her soul that she wants to sing about. Heidi is so glad she’s got her new producer, who’s black. David was so mean. He laughed at the lyrics she wrote in her notebook and Spencer stood behind him and laughed too. Later, at home, Spencer said he was just pretending to laugh. He said sometimes you have to pretend things for business. David is white. He’s Brody’s dad and Brody turned out to be mean, too. Maybe meanness is genetic, like skin color.

Heidi is at work. Brent used to be mean, but then he stopped for some reason. Now he is nice and he buys her lunch sometimes. He doesn’t eat lunch with her but he buys it and has someone drop it off in her office. Salads, usually. Sometimes there is a post-it note that says “Heidi – Lunch is on me today, keep up the good work – Brent.” That’s nice – it’s nice to leave a note. Good work. Good work is what gets you into heaven. You have to believe but you also have to do good work. It is a fifty fifty kind of thing. Heidi does good work, or at least she tries. She works hard to do good work. The computer is finally restarted. She changes her away message – “Heidi is doing good work.”

Mean people suck. That’s a bumper sticker and it’s also true. All bumper stickers are true but some bumper stickers are truer than others. When Heidi was in seventh grade, her mom told her that she really wanted a bumper sticker that said “My Daughter is an Honor Roll Student at Crested Butte Middle School.” She said she wanted it so she could put it on her car so people could see what a great daughter she had, even if she didn’t know them. She said that people would maybe see the bumper sticker and then drive up beside her and roll down the window and say, “Hey, what’s your daughter’s name, she sure sounds smart!” and Heidi’s mom would yell, she would have to yell because cars move fast and wind and stuff, she would yell, “Her name’s Heidi!” and people from three towns over would know who Heidi was, she would be famous. Heidi tried really really hard to get the bumper sticker, like really, but she was never good at school. Well, she was good at some parts of school, but not the school parts of school, which are the parts that decide whether you get a bumper sticker or not. School is important for some people but not for everybody – some people have other directions they can go in, some people have talents that are hidden and reveal themselves later, some people have options, some people have to keep their options open. On the day that the bumper stickers were handed out, Heidi went behind the gym and showed a boy up her sweatshirt for his bumper sticker, but then he ran away and didn’t give her the bumper sticker. It was her favorite sweatshirt – it was really soft because it had been washed a lot.

Heidi is at work. There are just so many things.

hiatus, part 3

January 24, 2008

Lauren wakes up. She’s really glad they never show her waking up on the show. Sometimes they show her right after she’s woken up, but never right when she wakes up. She’s really glad they don’t show that. That’s a private moment. There are some things that have to be private in life. Like the only people who should see you when you wake up are God and your boyfriend and your mom, that’s it. Because when you wake up, you’re not awake. Like that’s stupid, like, duh, you’re not awake, but you’re not awake, you’re not presenting yourself to the world the way you want to present yourself to the world because you’re not awake enough in your mind to think about the way you want to present yourself to the world and you’re not awake enough in your body to move the way you think you want to present yourself to the world. Also, you are probably not that well dressed. Some girls buy really nice pajamas but Lauren doesn’t really see the point of that. Like obviously if you are having a boy over but besides that who cares. There are limits to fashion, people are so uptight, people care way too much about what other people think of them and their appearance. Obviously you have to care some, it’s important to care some, it’s important to care a lot, even, very important, but it’s important to not care too much, because too much is too much.

Lauren’s really glad they never show her waking up on the show. A lot of people would say that the reason not to show a scene of her waking up is that it’s a boring scene, that’s there’s nothing interesting about seeing a person waking up, but Lauren thinks that’s wrong. A scene of someone waking up is the opposite of boring. When you’re waking up you’re more real than when you’re awake, at least more real in the way some people who say real mean real. Real is a complicated word. Lauren understands this. Complication is the spice of life, like nutmeg.

Lauren wakes up because of the sunlight through the window. Lauren bought her new house because of the sunlight. Well she really bought her new house because her dad said it was a good investment and it would something with interest and you never know with the economy, buyer’s market, but really really Lauren bought it because of the sunlight. She bought it because there are a lot of windows and the house is facing the right direction for the sun to come in (left?) and the sun comes through the windows and it’s nice. Lauren believes that everything is better with good lighting.

Lauren looks out the window. Through her sleepy eyes, LA looks hazy and blurry and warm. It doesn’t look real. She’s been here for years now but sometimes it still doesn’t look real. It looks like looking at the world through a car window when the car window gets all foggy and you can’t really see anything specific. Or like when people have glasses and they have to wipe off their glasses because they get foggy. Lauren remembers in study group in high school how ugly Kristin looked in her glasses and sometimes she would take them off to wipe them with a little yellow cloth. She had a bunch of different pairs of glasses in different colors and different styles but they didn’t help any, they didn’t change the fact that she was wearing glasses. Glasses are glasses. There are two kinds of people in the world: people who wear glasses and people who don’t wear glasses. Some people try to cheat, but they can’t, that’s not fair.

Lauren goes downstairs to make breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but breakfast is also the easiest meal to skip. This is a difficult and complex issue. Darfur is also a difficult and complex issue. When Lauren did the public service announcement about Darfur, she felt good. People in Darfur don’t have enough to eat but they also have a lot of other problems like rape. Lauren remembers when Jason had been drinking too much. He would look at her when he had been drinking too much and he would have this look in his eyes that was different. Lauren knows a lot about how to control the way her eyes look, but Jason didn’t look like he could control the way his eyes looked then. Because of her life experiences and personal beliefs, Lauren can identify with the problems of all the people in the world and she wants to, she wants to identify with everyone, she wants to listen to them and understand them and help them be stronger and more independent and not get raped and dress well and make healthy eating choices.

Lauren decides to have a container of low fat banana yogurt with two spoonfuls of organic granola. Discipline is important in eating. Counting calories is fun, and easy, too, ever since she got an application for her iPhone. Discipline is important in everything, not just eating. Once there were people called Stylites who stood on really really tall columns for a really really long time to get closer to God. Lauren wonders if she could stand on a tall column for a long time. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in, that’s a saying. Maybe if she was allowed to take an iPod. Probably if she was allowed to take an iPod. Leg press is her favorite thing to do at the gym and she has to stand for hours and hours when she works shows, so how hard could it really be? It’s just standing, right, it’s not like walking on coals or needles like on “Fear Factor” or something. Especially if she was allowed to take a video iPod or an iPhone.

(although how would she charge it? could they get a bunch of extension cords and run them up the length of the column, could they wrap them around like a may pole?)

Lauren looks out her front window. LA still looks hazy and blurry and warm, but it doesn’t make sense now, because she doesn’t have sleep in her eyes anymore. Is sleep really a physical, touchable, seeable thing, like do some people have a disease where they get too much sleep in their eyes and they have to go to the doctor to get the sleep taken out and the doctor takes it out and puts it in a little jar like tonsils? What does sleep look like?

Lauren opens the front door. LA looks hazy and blurry and warm, but wrong somehow, not real. Not real in a bad way, not not real in a good way. Unreal. It’s like there’s some problem with her eyes, except she knows she has perfect 20-20 vision – she never needed glasses, not even for reading. She steps out onto the lawn and then she sees it, everywhere, some kind of translucent sheet covering her entire house and stretched out over her yard. It’s like saran wrap on a piece of cake, except the piece of cake is her beautiful new house that cost 2 million dollars. 2.2 million dollars. The plastic extends out over the roof and over the tops of the palm trees she had put in and out to the sidewalk. There are poles at the edge of the yard that prop up the sheet at the sides and the corners. Lauren approaches the sheet. The grass is wet from the sprinklers and it soaks into her socks and makes her feet feel gross. The sheet is somehow sealed tight into the ground so that she can’t pull it up or crawl under it. She hits one of the poles and it makes the sound a metal pole makes when you hit it and also her hand hurts. She runs her hand over the plastic and it feels smooth and clean. It’s kind of like a cheap shower curtain in a motel, which obv. she has never been in a motel, gross, but like a shower curtain looks in a movie with a motel in it.

Lauren puts her face up against the sheet, but she can’t see any better, she just sees her neighborhood looking hazy and blurry and warm. It looks kind of like a Monet. Monet always painted paintings that looked hazy and blurry and warm. When Monet was old, he lost most of his vision but he kept painting and his paintings got even hazier and blurrier and warmer. He painted water lilies, Lauren saw them in Paris. She bought a coffee mug for her mom and at the hotel room that night, she made the water lilies her desktop background because they were so beautiful. Every time she looks at her desktop background, it reminds her of Paris and that’s why she made the water lilies her desktop background and that’s why she’s kept them as her desktop background since then, even though that’s a pretty long time to keep the same desktop background with all the new images that are being created every day. Lauren squints into the sheet, even though it makes her look ugly, like someone who wears glasses. It looks like there are more sheets on the houses on either side of her, and more poles, but she can’t say for sure.

Lauren doesn’t know what to do. She walks along the edges of the yard, running her hand along the sheet. When she was in high school, a teacher recognized that she was intelligent and smart and had lots of good qualities and nominated her to go to leadership camp, but Lauren didn’t go because Stephen’s parents were out of town that weekend and he was having a barbecue and he wrote her a note specifically inviting her. Like, he didn’t run into her by the cafeteria and say, “Hey, I’m having a party this weekend” and he didn’t send her a text or an IM, he wrote out an invitation on a piece of clean white paper and drew a red heart in magic marker and glued it shut. “I’m having a party this weekend and it won’t be a party without my Lauren,” he wrote to her. Lauren doesn’t know what to do. A girl in a movie would probably scream, but Lauren knows her scream is really unattractive and you never know when someone is waiting around in the bushes to put your unattractive scream on Youtube and Lauren does not need that kind of stress right now. Lauren goes back in the house without screaming and turns on the television. Her cable is out. Lauren doesn’t know what to do.

hiatus, part 2

January 20, 2008

Heidi is reading. Or trying to read, which is the same thing, really. Trying is succeeding in itself, someone once said. Heidi is trying to concentrate on reading, because reading is both entertaining and educational. Reading is fundamental. Heidi is trying to read because reading is important, fundamental, entertaining, and educational. Heidi is trying to read. It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Now her phone is ringing, but Heidi is ignoring it because she is trying very hard to finish a sentence and she’s been trying very hard for a while to finish a sentence because of all the distractions and now she’s going to finish the sentence except she answers the phone because what else is she going to do.

On the phone is her mom.
Hey sweetie, what are you doing? her mom asks.
I’m reading, Heidi says.
What are you reading?
A book.
Well, gosh, I guessed that, Heidi, her mom says. What book is it? Whatsit about?
It’s about a lot of things, Mom, Heidi says. Listen, I’m trying to read, is it something important?
I just wanted to know if you were watching Idol, her mom says. There’s some really funny people-
No mom, I’m reading, Heidi says. I love you, I’ll talk to you later.
Okay, it’s back on, bye, love you, her mom says. Her mom cuts the call off in the middle of the you, so it sound more like “love y-.”

Heidi puts her phone on silent. Then she puts it on vibrate, because what if someone called about something important. Then she thinks who is really going to call besides Spencer or her mom or Brent, and Spencer is in the living room and her mom just called, so she puts it on silent. She picks up her book, but then puts it down again and puts the phone on vibrate, just to be safe.

Heidi doesn’t watch American Idol. At family gatherings in Colorado, like barbecues and picnics and stuff, she sings for her family. When she was a little girl they called these “Heidi’s performances” and the other kids did them too, like tap dancing or telling knock knock jokes, but now it’s just her and it’s just “Heidi’s gonna sing something for us” or somebody will ask, like her grandma, “Heidi, won’t you sing something for us? So she will always sing “Amazing Grace” or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” both of which she has practiced a lot, both of which she is good at singing in both pitch and intonation and phrasing. She will sing her song and her voice will ring out over the Rockies, or at least she likes to think about it like that because it sound poetic, like an ad for spring water, but really it just rings out over the picnic tables. After she finishes and everybody hoots and she sits back on the wooden bench, redfaced, an uncle or aunt or little cousin with a mouthful of hamburger bun will say “Gosh, you’re so good, Heidi, you should be on American Idol,” and Heidi will smile and say “Aww, thanks” or “You guys!”

But Heidi doesn’t want to be on American Idol. She wants to be a real professional singer and she doesn’t think the best way to do that is to be on a TV show first. Because sometimes if you are on a TV show first, people think that you don’t have good talent or that you just want to be famous instead of wanting to be good and talented at something. Which is stupid, because the reason you usually get on a TV show for something is if you are good at it or at least if you are unique and interesting and have talents that may not have shown themselves yet but will surely show themselves in the future. But then when people are on TV shows to show off their talents, other people laugh at them and say they are not really talented, they are just TV talented, like they are just doing it because they like to be on a show. Heidi imagines herself in a gold lame dress and spotlights are catching on the dress and making it look like “The Wizard of Oz.” She knows that she can sing like shining gold.

In the other room, the television is on. The television is always on. Spencer loves the television, his television. Of course he doesn’t call it a television, unless he’s making fun of her, he calls it a TV or sometimes he calls it “the plasma” or “the Bravia” and when he calls it “the Bravia” he points at the tiny embossed logo at the bottom lip of the screen and says, in a movie announcer baritone, “the BRAVIA.”

Heidi calls it a television, not a TV, because that’s the proper word to call it, that’s what it is. When you have a word and an abbreviation, it’s more proper to use the word. She doesn’t know exactly why, but it makes her feel smarter and better and cleaner to use the word “television” than to to use the abbreviation “TV.” She thinks of sample sentences using both words. “Spencer watches pro wrestling on TV.” “Spencer stares at porno on TV.” “Heidi learns to cook a new dish from a food television show.” “Heidi is moved deeply by watching British plays on television.” Heidi thinks maybe she should have used “theatre” instead of “plays” because that sound more fancy and is a British spelling. She wonders if there is a British spelling of plays, like “playes.”

When they were moving into the condo, Heidi was carrying a big box of her boots so she couldn’t see where she was going and she bumped into the hand truck that was holding Spencer’s television and it fell over and it smashed on the ground and there was glass everywhere and Heidi felt so bad. She was already emotional about the move, because of Lauren and everything, and she was also kind of scared and nervous, because of Spencer and everything, and then she broke the television and it was just too much. What is that expression, the thing that broke the camel’s back? It was like that, it was like back-breaking, she felt paralyzed.

Spencer came into the room and Heidi tried to look at him but couldn’t even really see him because of all the tears in her eyes and the way she was shaking and also the large box of boots she was still holding. But Spencer, he was so sweet like always and he took the box of boots from her and put it down and put his hands on both sides of her face so that her hearing was blocked, so that inside her head sounded like listening to a seashell and she was really reading his lips when he said that everything was okay. “TVs grow on trees,” he said, when he had taken his hands off her ears. That afternoon they went to Best Buy and Spencer was so happy, walking through the rows of shining televisions, that she thought maybe it was a good thing, like a sign, like a symbol, like a theme, like a metaphor. Like that old television was something from Spencer’s old life, with the Playboy girls and going out all the time, and it broke, shattered, and now they were getting a new television and it was going to be theirs, for their condo. Together.

The television is on. It’s kind of loud, but she doesn’t feel like asking him to turn it down because then he’ll make some kind of remark or face or something and she’ll have to kind of apologize but not totally and it will take up more of her reading time. So instead it’s just another distraction that she has to live with, something else that is keeping her from her true purpose, from attaining her potential. “Attain” was a word on her Word of the Day calendar at work a few weeks ago – it means “to reach” or “to gain.”

Heidi’s eyes refocus on the book. Heidi is supposed to be reading. This is the hour she has set aside for reading today. She wrote it in and underlined it and starred it on her day planner and also set an alarm on her phone. Reading time, 8:00. One problem was that she actually started reading at about 7:52 because she got out of work early and then when the alarm went off at 8:00, it distracted her from her reading. This was really annoying because she was in the middle of a sentence. It is 8:24. Heidi goes back to reading. She looks around for the sentence she had stopped in the middle of, which is hard because when you stop in the middle of a thought or a sentence and then try to come back to it later, it’s hard to remember what you were thinking or reading. It’s kind of like that book “Blink,” which was on the New York Times Best Seller list for a long time and a lot of people said was really perceptive. She finds the sentence or thinks that she has found it, at least. 8:25. She has 35 minutes left until reading time is over.

hiatus, part 1

January 20, 2008

Lauren is watching “American Idol” on TV. It is one of the early episodes of the season, the ones where people audition to be on the show and the auditions are shown on air. Most of the people that Lauren knows say that these are their favorite episodes of “American Idol” or that these are the only episodes of “American Idol” that they like; these are the kind of people who say “I don’t watch ‘American Idol,’ but I do love those audition episodes”; these are the kind of people who will be saying something about how television is stupid and fake and then remember that Lauren has a television show and will sort of change the subject very quickly when she looks at them.

Lauren doesn’t like the audition episodes, but she is a devoted fan of “American Idol” so she watches the audition episodes anyway, because what if in a later episode someone made a reference to something having to do with one of the audition episodes and she didn’t understand or know about it because she didn’t watch the audition episodes. Or what if one of the auditions was so crazy it went viral and then everybody was talking about it and she didn’t know what everybody was talking about because she didn’t watch. She tivos the show, of course, and her tivo places the episodes in order in neat, properly named folders. Before tivo existed, in middle school, she was a very devoted video taper. She liked to label the video tapes she recorded her shows on. Each tape came with three labels; a label for the spine and then two labels that went on the face of the videotape, a thick rectangle and a thin strip one. Lauren never really understood what the thin strip one was for and often found that it was problematic, as the lack of adhesive surface area would often cause it to get caught by the VCR machinery and pulled at and the corners would not be neat and flat, but Lauren would always put it on. Once her labels were adhered, she would first write the name of the show in pink highlighter on the spine label and then she would write “Vol.” and then the number of the volume of tape that it was. You had to have different volumes because tapes only hold so many episodes when you record at high quality. Then she would outline the pink highlighter with black highlighter, which now she thinks is a pretty gauche color combination but when she was in middle school she thought was bold and exciting.

On the television, an obese man in a moo moo is singing/rapping an acapella version of the song “Baby Got Back” and when he yells the hook, “Baby Got Back,” he jumps around so his butt is showing and smacks it with his hand and the flesh jiggles and the fabric of the moo moo flutters. Lauren doesn’t like the audition episodes because she thinks they’re mean. She thinks it’s mean just to laugh at people on TV for trying and being themselves. These people have a dream and they think the best way to get to their dream is to be on television, because they have seen other people with similar dreams go on television and get to their dreams, and so they are trying like those people. How can you hate someone or think they’re stupid because they tried something? How Lauren feels is that people don’t try enough, that people don’t put themselves out there and see what happens, because even though sometimes what happens is bad, sometimes what happens is good and you have to be brave and have courage about things. Lauren thinks sometimes that she doesn’t try enough, that she doesn’t put herself out there, that she isn’t brave and doesn’t have courage about things, and so she can’t hate these people because it wouldn’t be right.

Sometimes the people on the audition shows are so stupid or bad at singing or so weird, like the disgusting clothes they wear or they funny ways they talk, that it makes her want to laugh, that it makes a laugh rise up from her chest cavity into her diaphragm, but Lauren controls the laugh and stops it because she thinks it’s wrong to laugh at people on television and if she was to laugh at these people herself, she would be a hypocrite. Sometimes holding in a laugh like this when it’s already started is kind of painful and makes her cough, but she deals with it, she doesn’t laugh, because it’s not right to laugh. If people don’t have principles, society will crumble.

The show goes to commercial and Lauren pauses the Tivo and goes to the refrigerator. In the refrigerator, there are a number of things. There is Evian and soymilk and Diet Dr. Pepper and a couple of half-filled cardboard-sleeved cups from Starbucks. There are numerous take-out trays and foil-wrapped things; a small box of nigiri, some lasagna, half a pizza which has been in the fridge for a while. There are tangelos and red delicious apples and there is yogurt – blueberry, strawberry, cherry – the basic American flavors. There are stale tortillas and there is a large bag of high-quality provolone cheese in thin slices. There are carrot sticks. There is whipped cream in both regular and chocolate flavors. There are various ethnic condiments.

Lauren sits back on the couch with the half a pizza and the two liter bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper. The half a pizza is pepperoni and olives and green peppers. Lauren never understood why people liked cold pizza and talked about how good cold pizza is all the time except then one time she had it when she was hung over and then she understood. She fast-forwards the Tivo. One of the commercials she fast forwards through is for Jenny Craig. She remembers when Anna Nicole Smith did that Trimspa ad, the one with the fake red carpet and all the camera flashes. That poor baby.

Lauren imagines what it would be like to be fat. Some mean, negative people used to say she was fat but Lauren, thanks to her upbringing, has good judgment and a good solid head on her shoulders and she knows she has never been fat. She definitely sees a difference between the Shape cover and the pictures of her from last summer, but she wasn’t fat then, she was just less skinny. But to be really fat, to just eat and eat and eat and not have to move, not have to go to the gym, what would it feel like? To be so fat that you don’t worry about how your clothes fit because they just don’t fit at all, to be moo moo fat, how would that be? Lauren knows that it would be problematic, that it would probably make her sometimes feel sad and negative, but there are a lot of things now that sometimes make her feel sad and negative and would it be worth it to get to eat so much and not have to go to the gym every day?

Body image is such an important topic. So many girls worry about it too much and that is sad. She wishes when she worked at Teen Vogue they had covered that more. Not that she had any say in editorial or anything, not that she ever did anything even a little important, but she just wishes they would’ve covered it, for the greater good. Causes are important. Like ethical labor, that is so big right now, that is the direction she is going with her line, ethical. It’s a good cause. Also she is going to make clothes for real body shapes, that is a thing everybody is talking about. Not for like really fat people, of course, but definitely for less skinny people, because she knows what it’s like to be less skinny, she’s been there. She has a message and she can relate it to people and she can do it in a way that is attractive and stylish and she works hard and these are the reasons she knows she will be successful.

The Tivo runs too far, into the show itself, and Lauren’s thumb clicks the rewind button and her thumb is deft and practiced. She unconsciously maneuvers the Tivo back in seconds. Sometimes Tivo time bothers Lauren because with all the pausing and unpausing she’s not in sync with real time and that’s difficult because she likes to be in sync. Audrina will probably be home from her date in an hour or two, unless it goes well and then who knows. Lauren hopes that Audrina comes home so that they can talk about the evening and Lauren can, from this conversation, create a mental picture of this new guy and help Audrina understand this picture the way she sees it. At the same time, she hopes it goes well for Audrina so she doesn’t have to do all the analysis and thinking and everything, because sometimes caring about people takes a lot of work and energy, or at least it does for Lauren, because she really does care and think about people a lot. Sometimes her favorite times are when nothing happens, when she can just sit like this, still, and eat and watch.