The Art of Giving

I have been pretty open about not really believing in Karma, feeling it is mostly a scare tactic and have grappled with my own contribution to the universe after many a martini. Last week I had a situation that reaffirmed many of the existential life crises.

After spending the last few weeks traveling (#humblebrag) my Ashkenazi Jew fro had hit maximum brillo pad capacity. Being in desperate need of a deep hydration hair mask, I saddled up my pooch in his illegal service dog vest and walked to my local Rite Aid to load up on some vodka and argan oil treatments. As I approached the entrance I saw a family of 4 standing with a sign that read “Homeless with 2 babies to feed. Anything helps, God Bless”. This isn’t going to come out right but here I go. I avoid homeless people like the plague. Sticks are free, find a tin and make some fucking music. Provide a service for compensation. Begging seems so half assed. This is America.

This homeless mother of 2 infants caught me in a very vulnerable state. “Sorry I don’t have any cash.” As I walked into Rite Aid with my hypoallergenic pup, one of her small children locked eyes with me and was giving me Sara McLachlan beaten puppy eyes. All the sudden I started hearing the familiar “In the arms of the angel… Fly away from here.” Fuck.

I was basically already in the clear, strolling right past them into the fluorescent lighting when I had a very out of character heart pang and decided I was due for a good deed. I begrudgingly turned around, went up to the mother and told her I didn’t have cash but would be happy to buy her some groceries. In my head, I though condoms would be the smart purchase personally. As I led her into the store she immediately grabbed a shopping cart. I was hoping she grabbed it as a possible guesthouse and not to fill with goods on my dime.

I suggested we go to the baby supply aisle because I am a philanthropist and immediately this bitch starting throwing shit in the cart like it was the fucking Supermarket Sweep. I’m not talking generic brand diapers and wet wipes… this poverty stricken asshole was hawking Jessica Alba locally sourced organic burlap diapers and aloe vera infused ass wipes. Um no. I suggested we gravitate towards thing with a yellow sticker but she clearly wasn’t listening. Soon the cart was overflowing with 70lb containers of organic formula, paraben free bottles, even some fucking toys and coloring books.

If I were alone I would have put the kibosh on this immediately. But other shoppers were giving me such nods of approval, one person even offered me a warm shoulder grab and said he was honored to witness such selflessness. That was a first. I considered asking him if he wanted to go halfsies on the final bill but contained the urge.

My attempt at a good deed was now making me resentful. I was gritting my teeth and murmuring things under my breath like “Want to go to the fucking Ivy after this? Do your babies like crab cakes? Perhaps a fresh orchid for your tent?” I grabbed my $38 hair mask feeling less guilty than I had a mere 16 minutes ago and got in line with my new sponsored family. Solely because there were like 6 other people in line I decided this was my mitzvah for the decade and I needed to suck it up and be gracious. Although every time I saw the woman peruse through the bins in the line I gave her wrist a quick slap.

Finally, I was at the register. The cashier started to ring up everything and I looked around at the Rite Aid staff and fellow shoppers and gave them all a nonchalant shrug that said “Hey! I do what I can. Humanitarian by day, good time gal by night. It’s no biggie.” For 32 seconds I was Mother Teresa. I considered buying a pastel sweater set, organizing a can drive and eliminating the word “cunt” from my lexicon… giving back felt so right. “Alright miss, your total is $463.28.”

It was over as soon as it begun. No fucking way. This was a defining life moment. I took a second to gather my thoughts, take a deep breath and figure out how to navigate this situation. Should I hand my card over graciously or am I going to shatter my short-lived image of grace and humanity?

“Oh fuck no. Can you give us a quick second?” I asked the cashier. I pulled the homeless woman aside and explained to her that I too would be homeless if I had to pay for all of these goods. I know found myself bartering with her item by item. “Do you really need this economy sized formula? Can you still produce milk from the tit? I hear it’s better for brain development and then maybe one of your sons can be a brain surgeon and get you a condo in the valley. Also rattles are a luxury item. Void please.”

After we had the store manager void 7 items, I then made the executive decision we needed to exchange our remaining goods for the generic brand which resulted in 5 very embarrassing PA announcements “Manager to register 3, we need to exchange the Honest Company diaper rash cream for the Rite Aid brand equivalent.” This homeless woman was NOT happy about her Supermarket Sweep going generic and had the nerve to tell me that if I didn’t need my $40 hair mask, her children could have new toys.

After 28 minutes of checkout drama, I was able to get my charity bill down to $120 and left Rite Aid with my head held low and truly bitter towards the whole experience. The woman hugged me, blessed me and I was on my merry way. I decided to grab a reflective iced tea at Starbucks and call my mom to brag about what a giver she had raised.

When I walked outside I saw my new rescue family standing on the street with the cart full of merchandise and imagined they were headed to the freeway underpass and got the same familiar heart pang that got me into this whole mess. A real full circle moment.

Until a brand new Honda mini van pulled up curbside, trunk popped (automatic) and her husband started loading all the shit I just bought into their car. My jaw dropped and rage filled my body. The doors slid open (luxury) and this “homeless” hooker started to buckle her kids in their seemingly non pre-owned car seats. I had to get closer.

As I approached the van I noticed Despicable Me playing in the fucking headrest TVs. Yes I said it, HEADREST TVS. What the fuck? They sped away presumably to their Bel Air estate before I could confront her and I sat their feeling helpless and taken advantage of. For my own state of well being I have convinced myself they LIVE in that car hence the leather interiors and built in entertainment system. God, I hope they live in that car… Is that awful? Nope.

Anne Frank once said, “No one has ever become poor from giving.” No offense to Anne, but she didn’t get out much. The moral of this long winded and sure to be polarizing story is to never let someone shame your hair product selections, a small act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention and always carry cash.

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EAT, LAY, SHOVE.

I’m sorry if I have revoked you of my wicked yet totally charming and likeable (right?) stream of bitchiness for the past couple of weeks. I am actually not entirely sorry, sometimes a bitch needs a break to refresh, reboot and refill…

I have been volunteering at a third world country grammar school building jungle gyms and planning my next philanthropy event “Cycling for Syphilis”. I have met so many people my age who are tits deep in charity work and it just baffles me. Aren’t we supposed to save that for later in life when we’re bored and trying to fluff up our children’s college applications? Duh.

Really, I was in Europe with my boyfriend having serious sexual relations with every carb and cheese wheel in sight. On the tail end of our trip my boyfriend had a last minute change of scheduling and needed to fly back to LA four days early. I decided to stay solo and had one of the most therapeutic experiences in my short, unimportant life. I instantly compared it to the 2010 classic ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and decided to carry on the theme for the entirety of my time alone.

EAT Holy fuck, can I eat. When you are paying for your own meals at restaurants you really get the breakdown of your appetite. When I go out I tend to split a few different things (I am a food commitment-phobe, I like to sample) so I always assume I am only eating my share. I am in for a seriously rude awakening when my metabolism slows down. Everyone keeps asking me “Did you shop? Buy anything special?” No I didn’t fucking SHOP. But I did fucking eat… EVERYTHING. Snails, veal tartare, frog legs, cheese, bread, pastries, you name it. If it could fit in my facehole, I ate it. Excess consumption + shy digestive traits = struggle. Thank god outerwear is bulky because this bitch has never needed an elastic waistband more. The best part? I don’t fucking care. Who needs a hot body when you’ve got Photoshop and charisma for days? Sure I almost had to buy an extra seat to accommodate my hot new muffin top a la Kevin Smith but who gives a fuck. I virtually didn’t have a vegetable in 2 weeks. I tried to completely emerge myself in the culture balls deep and if it seemed authentic and illegal to consume at home, I ate it. At this point I am practically bleeding Béarnaise and I would have it no other way.

PRAY LAY I am notoriously super antsy. If I sit in one place too long I become very disruptive in order to keep myself entertained. I’ll put ice cubes on people’s thighs under the dining table, start making prank calls, or just kick it old school and go into one of my standard panic attacks. I am about 20 years late to the Ritalin party. I am saving that prescription for my post-twenties weight gain. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our bullshit Snapchats, overly filtered Instagram posts and passive aggressive tweets. We are so busy editing our faux lives that we can often forget to really live and appreciate our REAL lives. I started really thinking about how lucky I was to be in a position to travel alone and how truly definitive these moments are. The truth is if you can’t just be with yourself, why would anyone else want to? I had this very strange experience of almost disassociating with my body and becoming my own travel partner. Clinically, I believe that would be considered bipolar disorder. I have so many new inside jokes with myself it’s crazy. I learned through solitude and one too many solo dirty martinis that I actually really like myself and enjoy my own company. So I wasn’t laying in the grass like a fucking vegan poet but I did learn the value of slowing down and tuning out. (Nothing else rhymed with PRAY)

LOVE SHOVE I have a wild pigeon phobia. Not like in a cute quirky way, like in a psychologically crippling, downward spiral, tears of fear way. It is ADORABLE. I want them all to die and I have never meant anything more. If I had a gun and better hand eye coordination I would devote my life to hunting and murdering every single fucking pigeon I could find. Whatever shift in the ecosystem that would cause would be worth it. My name is Jackie Schimmel, and I want all pigeons dead for a better tomorrow. In fact, in France I actually ATE a pigeon over potatoes au gratin for poetic justice. In Europe, they are EVERYWHERE. Whilst with a travel partner, it is much easier to disguise the downward spiral that ensues when I see one within 5 feet of me. Normally, I can hide behind someone I am with or close my eyes and let them guide me through the streets. When alone, I look like I have schizophrenia. I twitch, scream, cry and flail my limbs like Amanda Bynes. It’s just not something you can recover from. If I hear a wing flap I instantly burn 3,000 calories, it’s how I keep my figure. I had to externally keep composure while walking on the street simply to avoid being institutionalized. I tried mantras, deep breathing and drinking wine I poured into a travel-sized water bottle. However, none of these tactics worked out for me. When I saw a devil-bird swoop and land inches away from my face, talons first, I shoved a poor geriatric in front of me for shield and sacrifice. I did this a lot… not great but oddly grounding.

So now I am back to reality, with traces of Foie Gras still in my colon and the shrill sound of wing flapping keeping my seratonin levels amiss.