Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Parents Are a Broken Record: The Hazards of Living at Home in Your Thirties

I'm 33.  And I live at home.  Not by choice but by necessity.  I've been unemployed for seven months and, shortly after my last job ended last summer, I took the trip of a lifetime to Australia and New Zealand, for which I remain in a substantial hole compounded by the insistence of my creditors that I continue to pay my bills.  (I swear, I'm about two variables away from making my bills pay themselves in my prize formula.)  All things considered, I really shouldn't complain.  For the better part of 15 years I lived on my own in California, first attending college and then making my way through the worlds of entertainment, publishing (more on that later) and of course the table-bussing arts, one big step on the Hollywood hierarchy below the venerable bourgeois class of waitrons.  Last summer my career brought me to New York, next-door-neighbor to my home state of New Jersey to work on a bridal magazine (more on that later as well), a contract position with both a start and a defined end date.  When my term ex officio expired, I tossed all caution to the wind and dumped a tremendous chunk of Chase Manhattan's cashola into my journeys Down Under.  (Who knew the good folks at Chase would actually want their money back interest...?)  Upon returning to California from the Oz, with no job, no home, no prospects and a rapidly diminishing bank account, I made the pride-quashing decision to pack up my 2010 Scion tC--as a non-parent, my only "child"--with as much of my personal belongings as would fit and hit the road east.  (Most of the remainder remains in pal Nermfgo and his Mrs.'s basement.)

After 15 years as an honorary Californian, my tenure as a Golden State-er for the moment was finished.

(Note: The above pic is from happier times: the day I picked up the Scion in July 2009.)

Living at home as an adult is not easy, especially for the simple reason that our parents ever allow themselves to believe that their children have ever graduated to the level of equals in earning, intellectual acumen and freedom from their influence.

But then you come home.  The rent is unbeatable; the psychological barrage less so.  I've been back up in my childhood room in Readington Township, NJ for four months now.  I'm still alive...but not really kicking.  I need to pause to say that I'm grateful for the option.  They took back their adult (bum) son in when options simply ran out.  I realize that in this modern world we live in, many, many others are as bad off (or worse) than I am and who simply don't have the option to come home and shack up with Mom & Dad rent-free.  So for that, I can be grateful.  In the meantime, I fire off on average 100 resumes a week, send query letters for my completed novel to numerous agents in New York, attend as many networking events as possible...and in general whittle away the remainder of my days sleeping, drinking, uh, drinking some more, making love to my Netflix account, four-hundred-and-twenty-ing, and seeking out the next adventure or date that can be supported by the joke that passes as my remaining bank account (thank you, ladies, for caring not that I'm a pauper).

My old standup comedy teacher in L.A. used to tell us that from pain comes comedy.  I have enough compounded heartbreak to last me a lifetime, and from which I got OK-if-not-awesome standup material.  Living at home with my aging parents has presented many challenges, not the least of which is my headstrong, fiercely independent and territorial personality crashing headlong into those two of similar characters who spawned me (or who adopted me after finding me in a field after the Martians left me behind).

As I said, this has produced some rather hilarious results.  Not the least of which is repetition.  I'm convinced that once the human brain reaches a certain age, it becomes incapable of retaining new information or making new connections.  In laymen's terms: senility.

To wit, on any given day, my father is guaranteed to drop any one--or all--of the following phrases into the conversation:

"I'm just testing my memory."

"I'm having a senior moment."

"Not that it matters very much, but..."

"...not that it matters very much."

"I don't talk about movies very much, but..."

"That's the most interesting thing I've heard all day."

"Mother Nature is ill, and she's not going to take this from us very much longer."

"Goddamn, fucking airplanes."

This last one, I should explain: We live very close to a very small private airport, the beacon for which the jetliners on their way into Newark utilize upon final approach from the west.  Heaven forbid my dad is ever actually in the yard when a plane happens overhead.  I shit you not, the man will literally flip off the mechanical bird that is "impinging" upon Dad's "space."  When asked about this, his inevitable response is:

"Well, they're low enough that they could see me."

We all have our inner voices, and I fight mine very hard from spilling out in utter frustration.  I'm an ADD child of the '80s, and I get super-bored VERY easily.  And nothing, and I mean nothing, bores like repetition.

And so in the meantime I find myself in a bit of a hard place.  They're my parents, and I love them dearly.  But man they can be boring!

I'll end with a laugh.  I think George Carlin said it best:

"I like people, but I can only tolerate them for short bursts.  Once you get up around...minute, minute and a half, I gotta get the fuck out of there."

George Carlin: People Are Boring


  1. Really funny. I like it. I have homework for you: read Early Bird Special. If you don't have the cash for it I'll gift you the e-book or snail mail you one. --jim

    1. Thanks, Jim. I guess I should read your "Crytonomicon" first though. Kinda embarrassed I still have it and haven't read it yet.

  2. I am on a bit of a rabbit trail, I think, but I am looking for information on someone who used to work at Larry Flynt Publications. I am trying to track down Phillip Sanguinet's email or contact as it looks like he may have been there when the individual I am looking for was there. Her name is Debby Eden...she says she was employed possibly from 1988-1993...I phoned HR but they have no record of her....she has said her leaving was her we have heard differently. She is heavily involved in our business and I am concerned she has been less than truthful about her history. Is there anyone you might now, who could point me in a clearer direction on this???