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Fun with Entropy
By Elizabeth Warner

I also had the odd notion that I'd be treated like royalty, psychologically fed and clothed like some kind of medieval alchemist with all of life's secrets in her grubby East of La Cienega hand. I arrived daily at fabulous homes decorated by people born after the first Gulf War whose purpose was to convey the egregious wealth their clients amassed -- also after the first Gulf War. Supercilious maids looked down their noses because they sprayed and dusted items far more valuable than me would usher me around once they made sure I had taken my dirty teacher shoes off. I was usually given water which was replenished regularly in an effort to keep me functioning inside my workplace. Kinda like someone in a cult whose given just enough green beans to stay alive but not enough to rebel. And when one mother, the panicked and rail thin wife of a monolithic producer, explained that this was a serious business, and that, Goddamnit, school was vital and this was costing thousands of dollars and that there wasn't time to screw around, I was delighted by her commitment. Until she explained that for this very reason it would be a lot simpler and much cheaper if I just went ahead and wrote their papers myself. And after the 90 seconds it took me to determine just what ethics were and whether I had any -- the answer being "no," I quickly set about writing term papers. This provided some comfort, although then you wind up at a party again and somebody says they just sold two scripts to Miramax and you say you just got an A on your Rasputin paper but you only got a B+ on your Dylan Thomas paper because you handed it in late, you also realize you're suddenly steps away from 40, calcium tablets and all the achievement of a kiddie pool in Van Nuys.

Still, within a matter of months I began to undergo curious sea change. For the first time I settled down, got calm and gained just a teensy bit of perspective. And slowly but surely I began to feel needed. Maybe there was salvation somewhere between the 101 and the 405 freeways. After all, I was now working and decent and waged and I had a sensible German car and a dog and a nifty little pad in West Hollywood and maybe it was okay. I was even beginning to hunch and shuffle less, and soon I began to decorate my emotional corner of the world with the patterned chintz of pride. Most importantly, I was becoming part of these families. So I'd encourage 16 year old boys to tell me why they'd opted for the A4 instead of the C Class while I churned out provocative, insightful essays. And suddenly, I was doing very well in school. Nor do I think the eleventh grade should be tackled until after thirty. It was a pretty heady thing, academic achievement. It all felt very familial until the day one mother discovered I tutored other children in her son's class. This would, I believed, please her but instead she looked horrified as though I had personally performed her own dermabrasion and had told everyone how much she'd yelped during the procedure. And that afternoon, when her son's entire film class appeared to shoot a feature length film at their house she became alarmed and I was politely asked not to show my face around any of the kids And then, when it came time to leave, two maids brusquely ushered me through a series of forbidden corridors, secret libraries and out to the kitchen, where I was placed in a waiting sedan and swiftly driven around the entire block to my own car -- kind of like the president or Madonna.

And I'm driving home, kind of startled by this but at the same time gripped by a sense of practicality and achievement. And for the first time in my life I realized hey, this is business. This is how they do things. You've got your life, dog and your home. You've got enough self-adhesive stamps to last you thru the next Olympics. And maybe its not so bad, and why were you so stupid and arrogant as to spend months imagining that anyone but your dog should really revolve around you… with all these ridiculous personas? Because I'd weathered an affront and pffft… I was fine. I'd quit whining. And I became so deliriously happy about the simple things in life that I stopped at one of those little faux Moroccan boutiques on Third Street with the infantile sales girls you know who are dumber and cooler than you'll ever be, and I bought myself a little floral/wistful candle so everyone entering my apartment would remember that they're really just whiling away the afternoon in an eighteenth century garden in the Cotswalds.

Which is when I returned home to find Suzanne Pleshette and an architect waiting at my front door. With tape measures. These are the people in my neighborhood, specifically, upstairs-the people on my condo board -- from whom I've rented for 4 years. They'd asked if they could inspect my apartment which I know they think I'm living inside like some filthy little Dostoevsky figure who smokes way too much. I usher them in bewildered but cheery when, curiously, they begin to discuss whether walls could actually be knocked out, surfaces refinished, and other improvements. They could not have been nicer. They smiled at me, I paused -- and then I got it. At which point the carbon chip that is my heart swelled to two point five times it's normal size …once I realized that all this talk was to make my situation better. Astonishingly, these people were going to improve my very own home! Finally, after four years I had become an accepted member of the building, who would soon enjoy the luxuries of the other apartments. Suzanne and the others then pleasantly poked around, thanked me and left. And I knew it was all coming together. I was gonna have a new home to complement my new life. And here I'd always been irritated that my agents worked above Calico Corner -- why now I'd be in there like a shot -- picking out fabric for curtains that the building would pay for, happily.

The following day I was issued a certified document that gave me 30 days to vacate the premises, on account of how the board was planning to convert my apartment into a juice bar and spa for the building. Suddenly, all of my thoughts, my whining, whining thoughts about where my life was headed went out the window. And I realized -- like you do -- that whenever you're feeling down but still holier than thou, you should also remember you have -- or had -- a really nice little pad in West Hollywood. And that maybe smuggie smuggersons need to pay a little attention to what really is important. And then again maybe the cute smiling boys working at Trader Joe's know something I don't.

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