Saturday, August 29, 2009

Non Sequitur or the Saturday 2-for-1!

Part I:  The Sun Goes Down

In school I always doodled in the margins.  Since I moved from California to Virginia when I was five, it was easy to idealize the West Coast and my drawings often reflected that which I was "robbed of".  I yearned for the Pacific Ocean because I didn’t have it and I perfected my sketches of palm trees associating the cliché symbol with the magical place I felt I was meant to be in.  I wanted to live where the palm trees lived.

Later in the middle of my high school years, we did come back, but of course getting what you want isn’t always what you think it will be.  Just like coming closer to an impressionist work, the image changes and change can be ugly.  Some native Californians I’ve met resent the palm trees because they, in fact, are non-native species.  They are an ugly cliché just like the symbols I used to sketch and they just don’t belong.

As the sun goes down on another hot day in LA I stand on my balcony and enjoy something else as cliché as “long walks on the beach”.  I enjoy a beautiful sunset that no picture can capture and no words can describe.  Peeking up among the buildings are scattered palm trees and as I look at them my heart opens and softens like the pink light all around us.

We may not belong here, we may be loved by some and resented by others but we’re here.  We are all here together for whatever reason and we are all native to Earth.  Hot and tired I enjoy one of nature’s beautiful offerings with the palm trees as my fellow audience members.  The sky is on fire and a moving painting is being created in front of us, more inspiring than anything I have to offer and absolutely free.  It may be cliché but I’m grateful that my breath has been taken away tonight on this balcony.  Maybe one day I’ll have something as lovely to offer to someone too.

Part II: After Dark

It’s 3:19am and I’m awakened by the smell of smoke.  I look around to see where it might be coming from and realize it’s arrived on the slight breeze that finally makes the temperature bearable.  Southern California is burning and I’m being cooked alive.  San Francisco seems like a distant, little heaven.  Dolores Park a lush green oasis and here I am in the smoggy city of [fallen] angels breathing in the smoke and pollution.  But I have to be here.  Too much of a good place can lull me to a dreaming sleep and this dramatic setting is starting to wake me up…

In the meantime, I’m also kept awake by thoughts of my newest guilty pleasure, the British Comedy “Pulling”.  Finally, I’ve had time to watch some (Internet) TV and it’s been pretty damn great!

Unemployment = Finishing “MadMen”, gorging on “30 Rock” and completing seasons 1 and 2 of “Pulling”.

This show is a brilliant dark comedy that has been called “the anti-Sex and the City” and the “anti-Friends” and it is both.  The story focuses on the life of 30-year-old Donna, her radical quest for happiness in a humdrum life and the heart-breakingly tragic ups and downs of her two best friends Karen and Louise.  The three women end up living together and trying to figure out what they want from life and how to get it, helping and hurting each other along the way.

The comedy is the darkest, the plot lines are heavy and the characters are extremely human.  I found myself laughing out loud throughout the entire 12 episodes and already dying to find out more.  I’m completely drawn in.

Another reason to love the show is that the actress playing Donna is also co-creator and writer, Sharon Horgan.  Much like Tina Fey and “30 Rock”, Horgan seems to pull from her life experience and is carefully carving a new place for the female lead in our collective imagination.  Her lead is not a wife or mother, not an ingénue or merely the counterpart to some man, she is a courageous and yet deeply flawed, narcissistic and yet loveable, female anti-hero.

Now, this isn’t to say that the show is overtly Feminist or that there isn’t also a male writer/creator involved, a male love interest character and other ridiculous (but hilarious) portrayals of women.  But what inspires me is the fact that another high profile, female writer-actor is telling a story and acting it out too!  This is exactly the kind of career I fantasize about and I’m just happy to see it becoming a possibility, at least for some!

I don’t want perfect in my characters, I want interesting and funny and complex!  Donna, Karen and Louise possess these qualities among many others and they aren’t anorexic, twig-figures either.  They’re real looking women with interesting bodies and faces and they’re all wonderful actors.  I don’t know where you can get these DVDs, (I borrowed them from my new roommate) but if you can find them, check out the show!  You won’t be disappointed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Can your people talk to my people and get me a job already?

Day 4, Internet cafe number... eh.

A woman just walked in to buy 10 bottles of water for her crew, "they're shooting just over there" she explains as the barista raises a shapely eyebrow. He helps her carry them across the street and I fantasize jumping behind the counter and stealing his job, you know, I just start serving people as they come in to take refuge from the heat.  Ugh, he's back.

Last night was so hot I couldn't sleep!  It felt like the apocalypse or something.  

Oh my god!  A girl just walked in wearing a pea coat!  What the hell???  I hope it's a costume, if not, I think she has a death wish.  Sorry, got side-tracked.

Anyway, back to the heat, as I lay on my bed (AKA: THE FLOOR) tossing and turning I thought about people in deserts, people in New York city or the deep south, other people with no fans and no AC and I felt a little better.  If they can do it I can!  I'm tough!  I can rough it, and really, I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge and I even have a car and a computer!  I'm a queen!

Le floor=Poor girl's bed. I think it's good for the back or something.  Really!

Draping wet rags over various body parts=Poor girl's AC.  Well it works until they get warm and then dry!  It's something.

Plus I think I can now market the newest fad diet.  I'm going to call it "The LA Diet", you know, like "South Beach", why try to be creative?  It consists of eating oatmeal for breakfast and rice and beans for every other meal.  And then making sure you are dripping in sweat all day and all night.  I really think I've lost at least five pounds this week. Seriously.  Oh!  And I can advertise in the LA Weekly right next to this:

Ok, so I've heard of "vaginal rejuvenation" thanks to an episode of "Californication" but could someone please explain the purpose of a BLADDER LIFT???  What???  It's only $2500.00.  I mean, should I be investing in this?

OK, time to get back to business.  I have a job to find.  Stay cool wherever you are and remember, as long as you're crazy and use your imagination everything is an adventure!  Or maybe the heat is just making me delirious, I dunno...

Oooh, 'water girl' is back and now "her people" want sandwiches!  This barista is not happy. His face is turning reddish.  Maybe he needs my help! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reporting From The Front Line: Day 3

  • I'm at a cute cafe near my house drinking an iced coffee that just came with cream, there was no asking about it.  It's delicious. *Also, I find it funny that every cafe I've been to alone so far I have overheard cell-phone conversations or meetings about "the script" or "the project".  My, my, these fancy movie people are everywhere here!
  • It's hot.
  • Very hot.
(I don't have much time because my laundry is across the street and will need to be rotated soon.)
  • No Internet at the house yet but I'll have it once I get us a router.
  • Day 3 and I've already been to hear live music at The Hotel Cafe, met 3 blonde actresses, gotten lost, (or as I like to call it; went exploring) and dropped off 4 resumes.
  • My room is hot enough to host a Bikram class in, but now that I've painted it and started to unpack and decorate it's getting cuter and comfier and the roommates are very nice and welcoming.
  • I love the area I live in: Silverlake right near Echo Park.  
  • It's definitely going to be bikable which is awesome and driving hasn't even been half bad!
  • I get to listen to NPR in the car which is fun cause I never could before and it's the only time in the day that I get to be in air-conditioning.
  • So far, so good.  People have been really friendly, helpful and nice!
  • I need, need, NEED a job because I pretty much came here with no money but I'm feeling very optimistic and excited!
  • I think I'm in the right place.
  • More soon...
Over and out.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

No More Room

Friday morning was my last in San Francisco. When I left for Santa Fe earlier last week I didn't have to feel sad.  Although, only for one night, I knew I would be back in my city and since all of my belongings were waiting for me in Potrero Hill I felt like I was coming home as usual.

Thursday night, I munched on pineapple and jalapeno pizza, sipped a can of Tecate and tried to get a good night's sleep. In the morning Lissy and I had another goodbye breakfast at Boogaloos (you can never get enough of that biscuit with vegetarian gravy) and headed back up to her house for the dreaded car-loading.

Since the poor girl is completely incapacitated at the moment, due to some serious back problems, the loading was up to me and me alone.

Box by box I brought my things down to the curb and worked on stuffing it all into the Honda. The sun was shining and the huge drops of sweat dripping off my head, neck and chest splashed against the cardboard and milk-crates full of books, notebooks, pictures and art supplies. I squished in bedding, clothes, shoes, toiletries and other odds and ends around the edges and I even managed to arrange about nine canvases throughout car, in various nooks.  

I had already gotten rid of all of my furniture (and have been sleeping on a floor for the past two weeks, might I add...) but I still had two bulky items to worry about. The blue bike and the blue guitar. No way in hell could I part with either, at least not yet, so I stubbornly found a way to get them both in. A few hours and a bunch of bruises later the task was complete. 

Covered in a crust of dry sweat and bike grease, I hugged Lissy goodbye and climbed into my temporary, moving home. With a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel, I made my way down to Santa Cruz to see my sis. Blasting some tunes and singing at the top of my lungs I felt a rush of excitement and freedom!

This is the movie of my life, here I am setting myself free, following my dreams, taking a chance, going on an adventure! Moving alone for the first time ever! Doing my thing! Plunging into the unknown! Here I go!  

I pull up to Nish's house, get to see her for a bit before she has to head to work and then I'm left alone. The sun I had driven down in has been covered by a thick layer of fog, I haven't eaten in hours and I'm starting to come down, way down and fast.

I'm alone, I walk to the Whole Foods nearby, I feel a pain in my stomach and chest and immediately start dialing all my friends. Nobody answers. I leave messages. I stand around the Whole Foods parking lot and stare at the grey sky. I want to cry but mostly just feel annoyed and confused. Low blood sugar? My mom calls and I get snappy and we get into a little fight. This sucks! This is not my big, exciting, fun moment! Where's my soundtrack? Hello???

I go into the store and buy some crappy Indian food from the buffet and a Kombucha. When I get back to Nish's house her roommates are all hanging around eating so I decide to stop moping and join them.

As the food makes it's way into my system and the conversation starts to flow I feel much better. Everyone wants to know about my journey and why I'm going to LA. I begin to give my usual modest answer, "time for a change of scenery, I have some friends down there, bla, bla, bla..." and then somehow the truth comes out, "I'm moving for my acting".

Everyone is full of questions and instead of feeling nervous or uncomfortable I realize, I have nothing to lose! I am moving to get closer to more acting opportunities. In fact, I am moving to do the thing I love most in the world, or to at least try to do it! I'm moving to do something I'm good at and something I understand and something I believe in and I need to start believing in myself. If I don't believe in me, then what's the point?    

The mopey brain-fog has lifted, I am more than ready to jump and fall, or roll, or find out I can fly, or realize I'm a kangaroo, or whatever!  There's no more room in the car and there's no more room for fear. I will ride the waves of emotion as they come and ain't it good to be riding! 

Monday I drive down to LA. I have very little money, a beat-up car named Henry, a few boxes, a blue bike and a blue guitar but best of all I have imagination and determination. Although I secretly wish I had a sword or something, I suppose a pen will have to do for now.  Here goes nothing, and everything!

Cue soundtrack music, please.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pink Sunset and Pink Wine

I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico and I'm drunk.

I spent the day exploring by myself, taking pictures of everything and writing in my journal. I had planned on posting a blog about the magic of this place, the beauty, the food...  I wrote it all out in my moleskine at the coffee shop and now, here I am, throwing it out the window and rambling on.  It's not even that late, the room smells like garlic (from my attempt at curing a cold by chewing a raw clove) and I'm drunk-blogging for the first time ever...

But it has been a magical night.  I'm here with my oldest and dearest friend Raji, and her wonderful dog Wailer.  A few years back Raji lived with me in the Lower Haight for a semester during college and we had a tradition of sitting in our backyard and philosophizing over a few bottles of cheap, pink wine, as we lovingly call it.  

We paid homage to that tradition tonight and sat in her cozy back deck in the warm Santa Fe night drinking and taking turns playing the guitar.  We talked about life, friends, childhood, the future, our love lives, having babies, dealing with ex's, women in the film industry, African dance and health care reform.  Yes, we are crazy. We've known each other since we were five years old and there is something special about being able to share your history with someone you love and respect.  We know each other inside and out.

Country girls at heart, we wailed out bluegrass tunes on the peacock guitar and tried to harmonize between sips of cheap wine as Wailer snoozed below us. Everything washes away, this is one of those moments where everything just feels right and charged with emotion and beauty. This is my life and I love it.

During the day, the sky here is a brilliant blue sprinkled with glowing scoops of fluffy cream.  At night it's full of stars.  The air is hot and prickly and the food is rich and spicy.  My heart aches for my city and my friends but the mischievous voice who whispered to me in the night and lured me away has stolen my affection.  My gypsy blood has been stirred and I'm compelled to stay in motion.  This is the first leg of my journey. Soon I'll be back in California, 

"Oh California I'm comin' home, make me feel good rock and roll band, I'm your biggest fan, California I'm comin' home [...] I am on a lonely road and I am travelling... looking for something what can it be?" -Joni Mitchell.

Heading south.  Nothing and everything awaits me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Bomb

Sitting in the window of my temporary Potrero Hill home I see my city humming and glowing below. Just like sitting under the stars can be soothing for some, looking down on the world from a hilltop is my favorite way to clear my mind. Things aren't going exactly as planned, but when do they ever? A major chunk of my savings had to be used ahead of schedule but at least I had it and now I'm back to the usual: Broke in terms of money but rich in terms of life. Life is beautiful and life is an adventure. If there weren't trees to climb and rivers to cross I couldn't pretend to be Indiana Jones. I mean, what fun would that be?

Ever since I could read, books have been saving my life and once again Henry has come through. So many times the printed words of others have illuminated my experience as if they were writing just for me. It makes me feel like everything's OK. Right now I'm reading "Tropic of Capricorn". Here's a thought for the day: "Things take place instantaneously, but there's a long process to be gone through first. What you get when something happens is only the explosion, and the second before that spark. But everything happens according to law-and with the full consent and collaboration of the whole cosmos. Before I could get up and explode the bomb had to be properly prepared, properly primed. After putting things in order for the bastards up above I had to be taken down from my high horse, had to be kicked around like a football, had to be stepped on, squelched, humiliated, fettered, manacled, made impotent as a jellyfish." - Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn.

I dig it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Morning Meditation On A Latte

He said "it ain't easy being green..."  I say, "it ain't easy being.  Period."

Too early to be up on a day off, I left my car at the shop for a tune-up and zombie-walked over to Four Barrel for some caffeine.  Groggy, confused and mesmerized by the intricate leaf design in my latte I reach for my laptop.

No wireless.

Oh yeah, I do remember reading some ridiculous Yelp rant about this at some point.  Forced to sit and scribble on my yellow pad instead I start to wonder...  Why is it so hard to just be here?

If I set down this writing I'm alone, vulnerable and with my thoughts: What am I doing here anyway?  Who are these hipsters walking in and what are they thinking about?  Did the barista judge me for my attempt at Internet connection?  

Thoughts.  Stories.  Mental clutter!  None of this is reality, right?  If I put down this pencil I will have to sit here and exist.  So much harder than it sounds!  Perhaps the discomfort is due to the fact that so much of our culture promotes avoidance and escapism.  Perhaps Four Barrel is more than just your average aesthetically pleasing coffee shop but, in fact, a revolutionary concept, challenging us multi-taskers to chill.  Sit.  Drink.  Relax.

Well, this could be my imagination or another story I've created to amuse myself but either way, I'm rising to the challenge.  I'm going to sit, be present and mindfully sip my latte, which happens to be quite delicious.

I am here.  Here is where I am.
Time to be.
Pencil down.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Beginning

Some days the shit hits the fan (or runs down the staircase, as it were).
Yesterday was one of those days.

Yesterday was my last day to move out.

Yesterday I owed people large amounts of money and other people owed me large amounts of money too. Yesterday a good friend got fired and another got a raise. Yesterday I carried all my belongings out of my second story apartment and into my temporary two week four story apartment. Yesterday my ass got a workout.

Yesterday I had crackers with peanut butter for dinner. Yesterday a sick little dog wandered out of her resting place and shat all over the stairs. This brought tears to an already stressed roommates' eyes and complicated some business between friends...

Yesterday the carpet I slept on gave me a rug-burn on my wrist and I dreamt I was sentenced to die but first had to dive underwater and detonate a bomb. Yesterday I kind of wanted to give up and crawl into a hole. Thank god I survived yesterday. Yesterday is OVER! Shit is resolved and today I am free!

Today I will lose myself to the buzz and sting of the needle on my skin as I mark this transition and dissolve into that lovely numbing pain that tunes out all other noise. Today I get ink from a childhood friend who made his way (like me) from the east coast to the west. Today I'll spend hours in pure presence, unable to avoid or ignore and marvelling at my own strength and badassness! Today I treat myself. Today I am fresh. Today I am free. Today I start my weekend and today I start a new adventure!

Today is August 1.
Today is the Beginning.