Nothing funny will be said here tonight. I thought you should know that right up front, because tonight I went to say goodbye to someone who is losing her battle with cancer. Texts were pinged. Emails were sent. Calls were made. Come say goodbye. It’s time. I had no idea she was even dying. See. No chance of being funny.
Her name is Bonnie Tiegel and if you’re a celebrity – you’ve probably met her. She is almost always – the only person smiling at you when you walk up to Mary Hart or Mark Steines or a host of other hosts as you make your way down that blood red sea of media folk. She is the bubbly smile and warm hug that greets everyone everyday no matter her mood – no matter where she is – no matter who you are. Everyone loves Bonnie and Bonnie loves everyone. She is a mother figure to so many people it’s impossible to keep count. But WE didn’t always have the best of relationships – in fact we barely spoke – and that is why this news – has hit me like a ton of bricks – because the second I got the terrible text – I knew I had to see her. I suddenly felt drawn to “right” what now felt like such a “wrong.” How do you say goodbye to someone when you have so much more to say than that one oh so definite word?
The hospital was packed with friends and family and the tears instantly poured down my face. I wasn’t going to be able to keep it together. No way. No how. I couldn’t even look at the people who were there because I thought I was going to lose it completely. The last time I saw Bonnie was at her office at Entertainment Tonight. It’s right down the lot from where we shoot Baby Daddy and yet – I never go there. Many know why – but mostly – it’s the scene of so many crimes I just can’t go in there without feeling doomy and awful. But I went specifically to go see Bonnie who I had heard was sick but had kicked cancers ass. I wanted to go see that she was okay. Bonnie and I had been through a lot together at ET and quite frankly NONE of it was good. I was the new guard arguing with the older guard and we were always pitted against each other and I was too stupid to realize that none of it fucking mattered. She was just trying to do her job. She just didn’t want to be fired. I remember when we were in London together covering the Alice In Wonderland premiere. It was Bonnies job to get Mary on the greeting line to shake Prince Charles and Camillas hands. We would have a camera crew cover it. It was a huge deal because we had already shot the wrap arounds that said Mary met them – it had to happen or we were screwed. This was a big fucking deal – like life threatening. Long story short – we got Mary on that line – and although we were quite battered for it – for the first time Bonnie and I realized – we were actually on the same team. We weren’t the enemy. We knew who it was – but it wasn’t either of us. We stayed up all night in our bathrobes and ate room service that cost way more than we were allowed on our per diem. But we didn’t care. We had won. Victory was ours. Sadly, once back home, our new found friendship went by the way side. I’m sure it was my pig headed stupidity. I have to have everything my way at work. We were back to being scared people at a crazy job – fighting to stay sane and keep our bank accounts in the black. Bonnie has given her life to that job and that job has taken it. Thats what the news business does. But she gave it gladly – with a smile on her face and hugs from her heart.
And so tonight I went to be there with her and hope that somehow she would get this message from me – that hearing what she was going through made me realize that none of it mattered – none of it. That’s right – I got hit with a big fat cliche.
I walked into her room, her eyes barely open, and said “Really Bonnie? You know they don’t let me in nice places like this.” For the first time in my life I think I really understood the expression – her face lit up. It did. Mark Steines had come into the room with me as the three of us have shared some amazingly awful times together. He said – look who I brought Bonnie. She just kept saying “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.” I knew then that coming was a good idea. But to me it seemed like the only thing TO do. Mark told some stories and she laughed. I sat by her side and held her hand. After a bit Mark had to leave but I couldn’t get up. I literally could not get up out of the chair. I couldn’t let go of her hand. Her eyes were closed. I didn’t even think she could hear me. Her breathing was so soft and deep and peaceful and again I just burst into tears. I kept wanting to ask her – where she was – how she felt – what was she thinking about. I was desperately looking for some clarity as to what it all means and for some reason I was convinced she would give it to me if I could just ask. There were so many people waiting to say goodbye and so I said “I have to go Bonnie.” Suddenly her eyes popped open and she spoke with such clarity as she said over and over again – “I love you so much. I miss you every day. I think about you all the time. You are always in my heart. I never stop thinking about you.” It was like she HAD to tell me. I said all the same things back to Bonnie, because I HAD to tell her too. I told her that I would always keep her in my heart and my mind. I also told her I was going to write about her. She said – “please.” I will never forget that moment. The tears were literally pouring down my face onto her skin. We never stopped holding hands. I know I’m not the first person to face losing someone and realizing that it’s important not to sweat the small stuff when the big thing is right out there looming every day. But I feel the clarity now. I will definitely think differently about the way I war with people. Sometimes it’s so damn silly. And while this may seem like making someones death all about me – this is just what i do – I write about things to set my mind straight. So, just deal with it.
I used to call Bonnie – Mrs. Tingle – it’s so long ago that I don’t even remember why – but I do know this – she is loved and I’m so happy I got to say goodbye.
It’s been in the 40’s temperature wise here in Los Angeles and I’m cold. Actually, I’m more than cold. I’m chilled to the bone wearing every sweater I own at once, house heat turned on full blast 24/7 and a constant fire, cold. Like – I’m totally fucking freezing and I can’t get warm – cold. Now I’m from New York so I know what it’s like to freeze. The last time I lived in the Big Icy Apple that only has four good days of weather – we had 28 snowstorms in one winter and I ended up in California. No one needs to take three hours to get to an office building three blocks away. I also went to school in a place where the wind chill took the temps down to 50 below and you had to use a tow rope to get to class which granted I needed anyway based on my alcohol consumption most nights before – but it was cold. And I was fine. I could run around outside in a bikini with a beer bong and a pair of Uggs and laugh in the face of winter. Ha Ha winter you mother fucker. I got you beat. But I’m not fine right now and I’m not kidding. I wore three sweatshirts to work out in the other day and kept them on for the first fifteen minutes of class. Not normal. Also, not cute. All that extra material made me look fat and I haven’t reached the point of anorexia where I’m willing to wear one of those garbage bag sweat suits that make you pour off the pounds. No one wants to look fat at the gym. I’m also not a gal who wears make up to class. What the fuck is that ladies? Seriously – if you have eye lashes on you’re not fooling anyone as to why you’re there. You’re looking to lift about a two pound weight – of a diamond – onto your engagement finger.
Now there are two quite popular theories on why I’m freezing. #1 – that I am such a Californian now that I can no longer take the cold and my blood is thinner than when I lived in New York. Uh, I haven’t asked a medical professional about this theory but I call bullshit. Last winter I went to Whistler BC and I was fine. I was more than fine. I played in the snow. I sat in a Jacuzzi in the middle of an outdoor deck. And there was no alcohol involved. But I wasn’t freezing – I was perfect. So – it’s not that. The other theory is #2 – that I’m so skinny now that I no longer have body fat. God I love this theory. I want to embrace this theory more than George Clooney while eating a box of Krispy Kremes, but let me tell you guys a couple two three things – this is not true – and I know – because I’ve seen me naked and I have plenty of body fat. In fact – I have your body fat. I may have everyone’s body fat. I am a skinny bag of cellulite. So it’s not that. And then, last night in a haze of Gorilla Glue and sugar free vegan lemon cookies, I got a flash of what the real reason is and it sent a second chill down my spine colder than the chill I was already in. I’m cold because I’m old. Boom. Holy fucking shit balls when did this happen? I’m a frail old woman with thin skin and I’m freezing to death. What’s next? Soup only meals? Actually I’m on that now because my teeth keep cracking. Wait – is that another sign? Fuck. And now I realize – there have been numerous signs to me becoming an elderly human. I’m constantly afraid of falling, and not off of anything substantial – just my high heels. They are dead to me. Also – I’m tired. A lot. On the outside I want to go to bars and concerts and dance clubs – but on the inside I’m exhausted by midnight. And I used to know how to shut shit down. Like next level. But the true sign may be the phrases that keep wanting to pop out of my mouth that up until recently only came out of my mothers. The biggest being aimed at my 26 year old roommate. Every night – every single night – I want to yell from my bedroom down to his – two floors below – STOP SLAMMING THE DOORS. But I don’t. Because I don’t want to admit that this is a thought in my head. And, he’s not slamming anything. My inner volume knob has apparently been turned up to Social Security level. My mother used to say this to me on the daily. I have no idea what it is about the noise level of a door closing but apparently it’s the true test of how old you are. If I lick my finger and wipe dirt off of his face – it’s over. Now, I know people say age is just a number but my number is getting higher. So I’m gonna buy me another parka because I’m only getting older and it’s only getting colder.
I am a giant fan of horror movies and the scarier the better. The more I have to scream, fling myself from my theater seat or look through tiny slits in my fingers smashed heavily against my face – the happier I am. A really good horror film will send me home from the movies with a new found terror of my own house. I will search every closet, under every bed, inside every cabinet before concluding that whatever ate whomever in the movie – did not come home with me. I will then say a silent speech to all monsters and freak shows that are possibly still hiding in my house preparing to pounce on me as soon as I turn the lights off and convince them that a better candidate to see them and be scared of them would be a house down the street or better yet – down the country. I usually only watch horror movies at the theater so that I don’t invite Stick Figure Man or Snake Face Girl or Clown Face Boy or Whatever Faced Whatever into my home. But last week – when I should have just enjoyed a day on the couch with nothing to do but watch Ren & Stimpy – I made the mistake of hitting play on a horror movie I may never get out of my head. A movie so terrifying that it has changed me – perhaps forever. The movie was called – “Minimalism” –about people who have chosen to live their lives – wait for it – WITHOUT STUFF. Now the movie was filed under documentary but let’s be very clear here – if a flick about people choosing to live with two pairs of pants, a teapot made from a soup can, a bed that closes into the wall, and shoes made out of cereal boxes isn’t a horror film than I don’t know the genre at all. It seems however, that there is a new movement in this country about how your life might be better – with less. Now I don’t know about you guys but I was taught that less is never a good thing. More is good. More is what we want more of. Nobody wants less of anything – except maybe cancer – and that we have more of than we most definitely need.
The documentary featured a bunch of incredibly interesting people who have made major changes in their lives to live with less and have greatly improved those lives they were living. They had less stuff and connected to life – more. Now, I’ve definitely thought about this where my phone is concerned. I’m far to connected to it for all the wrong reasons and have recently decided to ween myself off of this social media madness I can get wrapped up in. WHY DIDN’T YOU LIKE MY PICTURE OF MY DOG EATING A BONE? WHY ISN’T MY LIFE AS INTERESTING AS HERS? WHY DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU NEED TO SEE A PICTURE OF ME IN A CAT ONESIE? But this one woman in the documentary really freaked me out because she decided to live for an entire month with just thirty three items of clothing. Now that includes – shoes, bags and jewelry. No, I’m not fucking kidding you. She managed to rotate these items for an entire month and said “no one noticed.” Well I say – NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU CRAZY LADY! She’s clearly A) not a very popular person to begin with or B) Everyone noticed but chose not to say anything you dirty little piglet. And so she took this experiment and extended it to one year. SHE WORE THE SAME 33 ITEMS FOR ONE YEAR!! An icy cold chill just swept up my spine now even thinking about it again and typing the terrible words on the page. What if I had to pick just thirty three items from my wardrobe to wear for one year? I’m wearing nine items right now and I just got out of bed. Plus, I’m already annoyed by these 9 items and don’t plan on wearing them again until next week or maybe – never again. Am I supposed to decide between my pair of below the ankle black leather boots, ankle high black leather boots, knee high black leather boots or thigh high black leather boots? Thats not even possible. I have at least 15 pairs of jeans that I can not live without. Seriously, I hyperventilate whenever i try to thin the herd. And what about my dresses? I mean – I could outfit every single solitary personality that lives within me – three times – and that is quite a number. What if I had to live my life without stuff. I mean – I like my stuff. No – I NEED my stuff. I have made it my lifes mission to become a Maximalist! I’ve worked hard for all the things I don’t even know I have. Yesterday I was in a store desperately searching for some new sweatpants that had a particular kind of bottom. To my extreme sadness – I couldn’t find any anywhere. Then I cleaned out my dresser – and found four pairs. Huh – this less is better situation may be something to look into. My head was spinning like Regan’s in The Exorcist. I mean – I start every single day of my life searching for new stuff on the internet. Every. Single. Day. What can I add to my Amazon wish list now? That pepper shaker shaped like a bulldog is adorbs isn’t it? Those slippers made of yoga mats are an absolute must have – am I wrong? I GOTTA HAVE IT! I GOTTA HAVE EVERYTHING. But what if the stuff we want more of – is what’s giving us cancer? What if all the stress of chasing and finding and getting and buying is what’s making us sick? Now that’s something to ponder in 2017.
For now – I’m just going to clean out my closets and get rid of some things I haven’t worn – or had no idea I even owned – and pare down the STUFF in my life. But I’m not going to do anything crazy. In fact – if you see me in the same pair of pants more than two days in a row – please call someone. I mean – I have standards.