Recent Work By Laurie Notaro

Dear Whoever Who Has My iPhone:

I’m sure you thought it was weird, finding an iphone lying in the middle of the street last night, nestled in its tiny black leather case, just sitting there on the asphalt. I would have thought it was weird, too, maybe even funny. How often do you see something like that? It’s almost as common as finding a baby on the street, except an iPhone is a lot more fun to play with.

That’s what I would have thought, too, but when I woke up this morning and realized that it wasn’t in my purse, car, or coat jacket, that something was seriously, seriously wrong. I jumped into my car and raced back to where we parked last night, and scoured the street. It was nowhere in sight.

Then my sister called, and apparently you butt dialed her last night at 2:45 a.m. while you walked around for three minutes with my iPhone crammed in your pants somewhere. If it’s still there, kindly take it out. So, I’m sure the first thing you did this morning aside from moving my iPhone away from your privates—I mean, I don’t know how much radiation comes off that thing, I’m not sure of any studies to the effect, but do you really want to take that chance now, do you?—you’ll notice that there’s an listing under Lost and Found on Craigslist for my iPhone, in which I list not only my email address so that you can let me know that you have it, but the words, “REWARD OFFERED.”

And I’m serious about that. I could certainly sport you a breakfast for doing something very nice and thoughtful by returning my iPhone, in fact, I’d be delighted to.

How about breakfast and coffee? Even something complicated that Starbucks would charge extra for. Hey, my treat—after all, you’re doing me the favor, remember! No arguments!

But I just checked my email and I realize it may be too early yet for you to arise and sober up a little, I mean, judging by the phone call to my sister’s, you were up pretty late. I’m sure it will take a couple of minutes for you to figure out you found my iphone and discover that you desperately want to return it and then ran through a series of logical deductions that you should immediately go to Craigslist, which would be the reasonable place that someone who had lost their iphone would list a “lost” ad on. “Lost” ad with “REWARD OFFERED,” you know. Make sure you see that!

It’s okay. I have time. I know how it is. I was in college once, and on occasion found myself wandering the streets at 2:45 in the morning, finding iPhones and whatnot that some unfortunate soul had dropped because she was too stressed to realize it was in her lap, not in her pocket, and she stood up and well, you know the rest, right? Iphone in the street. Oldest story in the book.

So I just checked my email again and I guess you’re sleeping a little bit longer, which is fine, it’s fine. I’m cool with that. Because I’m sure as soon as you’re able, you’ll email me and I’ll email you back to ask you under what circumstances you found the phone and what my case looks like, because, after all, there is a REWARD OFFERED, and I can’t be running around, giving rewards to everyone who found an iPhone last night, you know. And I need to make sure it’s not one of those Russian mobster, “Meet me at the gas station and give me the REWARD OFFERED first and then I’ll give you the iPhone” sort of deals, because you can’t be too careful. I have to watch out for myself, after all, although I am quite appreciative of your potential willingness to even meet at the gas station, I sure am.

You’re a late sleeper, huh? Maybe you’re having dreams about returning the iphone you found in the street to its rightful owner because that’s THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Because I think it’s probably pretty obvious that no one would just go out and throw an iPhone into the street and walk away, right? Right? I mean, it’s not like people have fights with their boyfriend on an iPhone and get back at them by whipping the phone out into space like an engagement ring or something. No one would treat an iphone like that. It’s a treasure. I don’t know of one person who would. I took good care of it, why on Earth would I throw it on the ground? I stood in line for hours to get it. I had my favorite songs on it. Seriously, I had 750 pictures of my dog on that phone, not to mention some private photos I took of myself in a hat I had custom made for me by a girl named Paula on Etsy, in case you looked. I know. I know, it’s not a great photograph, I know that. None of them are. But I was trying to look tough and be funny, it’s a hunting hat, get it, with a deer embroidered on it? She did a good job with that hat. I still have the hat! That didn’t fall out of my lap onto the street. Still have the hat. So no, that’s not what I look like regularly, not at all. I look like that mainly because it is hard to take your own picture with an iphone, it is not like a regular camera at all. Did you know that? You just have to guess where the button is, and keep touching it and touching it around the area you think it might be and yes, it can get frustrating, and yes, you can get hand cramps because that’s the hand where my carpal tunnel is the worst so that’s why I was yelling in some of those pictures. But I was yelling at myself in those pictures, not at the iPhone and certainly not at anybody else, so it should not be an indication of my character or person, not at all. I’m a nice person most of the time. Eighty percent of the time. Maybe 76 percent of the time. In almost all of my iPhone pictures, I am being nice. In fact, if you flip through those photos, as I’m sure you might have—not saying that you don’t have any respect for the privacy of the person who was clearly careless enough to get out of her car with an iphone on her lap, not at all, I’m sure you do, but curiosity baits us all—you’ll see that I take photos of happy, jocular things, demonstrating my multi-faceted interests, hobbies, and things I see as curiosities.

After all, can a girl who has 750 photos of her little dog, who you may notice is sometimes wearing accessories, such as glasses and hats, on her phone be all that bad? She certainly can’t bad as someone who doesn’t deserve to have their phone returned and loses it to someone instead does something nefarious with it, right? But no, you probably won’t see any pictures on that phone of me building houses with Habitat for Humanity or volunteering in Central America, holding the mouths open of tykes while aiding Doctors Without Borders as they fix the cleft palates of little children. Probably not on that phone, but I did give them $25 once, I just didn’t think to take a picture of me donating on line. I’m sure it was used to fix a palate. Or at least part of one.

But if you wonder if I took the picture of the girl sitting on the curb with her butt crack hanging out while her boyfriend was breaking up with her, no, I did not take that. My friend thought that was funny, and in a way, it was. She really needed a belt. But even if I tried to tell her, I doubt she could have heard me over her wracking sobs.

All right, I took the picture, but listen, it was a once in a lifetime chance, you know? I saw the crack rising up and I just snapped, I didn’t even think. It was during the 24 percent of the time when I’m maybe not so nice. It was like seeing the Loch Ness monster or something similar, no one will believe you unless you offer proof. So now I have proof. So when I tell the story, I can offer a visual, and people believe me. That a girl who is very busy having her life destroyed by someone she loved can be too distracted to know that she is slipping out of her clothes.

Oh, God. I just had a horrible thought! You don’t know anyone in China, do you?

Checking my email again!

Boy. How late do you usually sleep?

If you will just get out of bed we can go have your REWARD breakfast right now, if you will just get up and go on Craigslist. Get up get up get up.

Please don’t call China. You better not have called China, if I have to end up paying for calls to China and/or any other far off lands, your reward will reflect it, and I’m just being honest. Fair is fair.

ALL RIGHT. Fine. How about a REWARD BREAKFAST and one call to China. A short call. I will do a small call, a brief call, a “Hello Ma, I am calling you on a stolen phone. I know, I laughed, too!” Okay, I’m sorry, sorry, not a “stolen” phone, let’s just say a “phone that does not belong to me and instead of flipping through the Contacts list and hitting the entry that said ‘home,’ I called China instead” phone. How about that?

Are you awake?

You’re awake, aren’t you? You know, I get the feeling that maybe you really are already awake and instead of spending efforts to find the listing for a lost iPhone on Craigslist, you just might be laughing with your ma about my unhealthy relationship with my dog, not to mention the abundance of pictures of food, and sometimes alcoholic beverages. And about the Russian dancers and slugs having sex on my patio.

The Russian dancer is not a Cossack or Tevya from Fiddler on the Roof. It is my husband. It was very cold that day so he bundled up. And wore the Diplomat, a style of hat he has. Leftover from when he was Hamid Karzi for Halloween. It is quite fetching on him. Anyway, to cheer me up, he did a couple of Russian dance moves one day and then fell over, evidenced by the photos on my iPhone and the blurry image of an ass, but with a belt. My husband always wears a belt. And yes, you were right, those were slugs having coitus on my patio. I had only seen that once before, and again, I cite proof. You should really laugh at those photos. I did. It took them forever.


Please get out of bed.

Why won’t you get out of bed?

Never mind. I already know.

You’re not going to give my phone, are you? You’re going to keep it, aren’t you, or sell it on ebay or take it to some pawn shop across the river, and there are a ton of pawn shops across the river. You know I’ll never find my iPhone. For the next month I’m going to stare at everyone I see talking on a phone to see if it’s you, talking on my iphone. At Safeway, at the mall, at every restaurant, everywhere I go, I’ll be looking. But I’ll never know for sure what you did with it, why you simply couldn’t give it back, or why you thought you deserved to keep it.

You suck.

You’re an asshole and I know it’s just a phone, but really, what did you think when you found it? Could you have possibly thought that someone abandoned it on purpose, maybe someone who was too young to handle the responsibility of the iPhone and thought that by leaving it in a wet, shiny place with lots of traffic that it might have a better chance at life with a different family? If I wanted to abandon my iPhone, I would have left it in a safe place. Like a fire station.

It’s not your iPhone.

It’s not your iPhone.

I’m still paying for it as I write this to you.

You know, my dog is holding my Visa bill in between her paws at this very moment and I want to take a picture of it and make a joke about her reading the fine print and saying, “You know, if you pay this one day late….” but I CAN’T.

I’m going back to using a Sharpie to scrawl, “This was stolen from Laurie Notaro” on everything I own.

You better not have called China.

But if you did, guess what?

Your Ma is going to get another phone call, one from me, on my new iPhone. And I’m going to tell her everything.


Laurie Notaro

PS: I hope I see you sitting on a curb one day while someone is breaking your heart.



The very moment when the cab pulled up to the curb, Lucy Fisher knew that she was seeing something exceptional.

Directly in front of her fifties-ranch-style red-brick house, a woman dressed in flowing white was wrestling with nothing short of a cloud in Lucy’s yard. For a ridiculous moment, Lucy’s mind determined that it was a dilapidated angel desperately trying to climb back aboard her ride, almost like a surfer that had toppled off a board.

Hi, Laurie.  It’s Mom.  What are you doing?

Hi, Mom. I’m…working on a self-interview for a website that is going to run a nice segment on my new book.


Is this the book about the ghost? Why did you write a book about a ghost? That’s stupid. You can’t even see them. That’s like writing a book that’s not even really there. James Patterson never wrote a book about ghosts and he’s very successful.

I know he is.


He’s my favorite writer.

I know he is.


You should write books like James Patterson does.



You know?



His titles are so catchy, like Cat and Mouse, Jack and Jill and Pop Goes the Weasel. You should use titles like that, titles you can remember instead of Ghost….Ghost…Ghost the Friendly Ghost? Is that what you called it?

Spooky Little Girl, Mom. It’s called Spooky Little Girl.


I don’t know why you wrote a ghost book. That’s stupid. What could you say that Patrick Swayze didn’t already say in the movie?

This isn’t a book about I wrote a book about ghosts because my dental hygienist told me an incredible story about her friend, Lucy Fisher, who was kicked out of her house by her boyfriend and lost her job in the same week. The next week, she moved to a different city to live with her sister, and her first day there, she was hit by a bus and killed. But none of her friends knew it, although they thought they kept seeing her places or hearing her voice. It was crazy to me that a person could just disappear like that; Lucy’s friends didn’t find out she had died until long after she met with the bus. We think we’re so “plugged in” with our cell phones, email, Skype, chats, contact lists, but the truth is that given the right set of circumstances, any one of us could vanish just like that—and some people wouldn’t find out for months, or a year. I wanted to take the perspective of Lucy and run a little crazy with it. In Spooky Little Girl, Lucy’s unexpected death lands her in ghost school, where she has to learn the parameters of haunting with other “surprise demisers”; how to get things done, communicate with the living and successfully complete her assignment—with a touch of revenge–without being noticed and exorcized by a dirty fake psychic hippie that keeps lurking around and has the capacity to launch Lucy into the unknown for eternity.


Is Whoopi Goldberg in it? You should put her in your book. You should tell your boss that. When does the book come out?

No, Whoopi Goldberg is not in the book, but there is a somewhat wicked grandmother ghost who likes to pinch the rump of another lady in the book who is not very nice. Grandma’s a pincher. She likes to pinch bad people when they’re on the potty, mess around with their images in digital picture frames, steal socks and battle nosy mailmen. So there really wasn’t room for Whoopi Goldberg; I already have a full house of ghosts, ex-boyfriends and some crazy bitches. The book comes out April 13. On Tuesday.


Oh. Then you have time to put Whoopi in. You put Whoopi Goldberg on anything and it will sell. Look at what she did for The View.

The book is finished and printed; you know this, you have a copy. Besides, where would I even put that sort of character in the story? Where did you think I needed Whoopi Goldberg?






You didn’t read the book.


I’m reading….something else. I have to finish that one first.

Let me guess. Step on a Crack or When the Wind Blows?


No. But you should really change your book mugshot to something outdoorsy and sporty, like—

Sarah Palin? Holy shit. Are you reading Going Rogue instead of my book?


She’s an inspiration. She has five children, a job and kills her own meat, probably every day.

So if I kill something, you’ll read my book? Next time I come to your house, I’m stealing five Ambien out of your pill bottle for reading that book.


She didn’t steal those clothes. They were a gift. Anyway. You still using too much salt?

Yes. When I smell burning hair, I’ll stop, but if you keep talking about Sarah Palin, I will probably have a vein burst in my head concurrently. Huh. What’s this? A nosebleed…?


Did you get electrolysis yet?

I’ll pluck today. When I’m done with this interview.


Oh, yeah. We’re done.