Sunday, January 26, 2003

I woke up this morning and thought I was in Los Angeles. I had dreamt that I was at Teuscher Chocolates and that Kiefer Sutherland was about to serve me my mocha. I told him that "24" had been robbed at the Golden Globe awards, and he thanked me. Though the dream was very real and he was a celebrity, I was very at ease talking to him and being myself, much like I was when the celebrities came into the store at the Barnes and Noble in Calabassas, or asked me directions such as when James Woods pulled up beside me when I lived in West Hollywood and asked me how to get to Robertson Blvd.

I was almost drunk with disorientation as I stumbled out of bed and got out of the wrong side of it, meaning that I egressed on the left side instead of my usual right side, and wandered aimlessly around my bedroom, looking forward to the mocha that Chris the coffee cutie was going to make for me when I got to Teuscher. The treasures of Los Angeles were at my fingertips, and I was excited at my choices.
Me writing in my journal at Teuscher in Beverly Hills. Delicious mocha and carrot cake sits on the table. Angela Ueber, one of the baristas there snapped my picture at my request. It was one of my favorite places, and I wanted to remember it the exact way that I enjoyed it.

Then I realized I was in Baltimore, and that Los Angeles was more than 3000 miles away. Though I am content with my move here, it was a sad feeling that stuck with me the rest of the day. I was sad that the things that were familiar and friendly to me were not so easily in my reach. I was sad that I wasn't going to enjoy a day in the sun, sitting at Teuscher and watching Beverly Hills walk by.

This was all I wanted today. My mocha, my usual table, and a warm day at my favorite coffee shop.

I did do something "Los Angeles" today though. There is a movie that is going to film here in town and I went to sign up as an extra. I don't know if I will do it, but I wanted to be in the running if the opportunity arose and I was willing. It's a movie called "Ladder 49" starring Joaquin Phoenix and reportedly John Travolta. It was funny going to this cattle call, and I purposely chose to go on Sunday due to the Superbowl, looking at all the people who had really dressed up for the occasion. Extra work is not glamorous, and the casting directors are looking for background, not stars. You don't want to go in looking like a bum, but it's not wise to overdress, either. It screams "amateur" at the casting people.

The crew was extremely organized, getting us through in about thirty minutes. When I saw that the door was closed upon my arrival, my stomach sank, wondering if I'd put myself in for a couple hour ordeal. Thankfully it wasn't, and once we were inside and seated in the auditorium, the Polaroids and paperwork went quickly. Of course, a man with horrible body odor sat right next to me. I'd smelled him as I walked through the door, and was extremely pissed off when he plopped his ass right beside me. I really, for the first time almost told him, "ya know, I'm going to have to move. You stink." But, I didn't.

The casting director stood up on the stage, introduced himself and told us the drill, then asked if anyone if they had any questions. One woman demanded to know where they would be shooting, and he said they didn't know yet, but that it would be the downtown Baltimore area. She persisted, and he repeated what he said, then looked away from her and mouthed the word "ooooooookaaaaaaay" slowly, indicating that she was a looney. The crowd laughed, and she deserved it. I wanted to take off my boot and throw it at the back of her head, the stupid idiot. Shaddup already and get a clue. And stop wasting everyone's time. Come to think of it, she was probably one of our customers at Barnes and Noble.

He asked if anyone had anymore questions, and some people wanted to know what they were going to get paid and when the filming was going to start. Or, if they could leave their headshots instead of have a Polaroid taken. The answer to that was no, that they wanted a picture that looked like you, and most headshots do not look like the people they belong to. Stinky wrote down everything the casting director said as if it was going to be on a pop quiz when we got up to the stage to have our pictures taken.

Behind me a girl chattered about the film industry as if she knew about it firsthand. She didn't. She was a film student at an obscure university in Baltimore, from what I could tell, and not a very informed one. She blathered loudly about how you have to start in the film industry young, which is bullshit. You start when you start, it's your drive, luck and hard work that get you where you are. Cathy started at the age of thirty, I think, and she is now the Key Second AD on the West Wing. She also mentioned that if she were on set that she'd be asking all the camera men where they went to film school. Their answer to her would be, "Fuck U." There's nothing worse on a set than an extra who doesn't know their bounds and bothers the crew. They have a job to get done, and pesky extras are a major irritant.

After a few minutes, they had us walk up on stage one by one, first stopping to get our photos taken and then handing our paperwork to the person at the table who stapled the Polaroid onto it. My picture wasn't half bad. We then walked to the last table, where the casting director sat and collected the paperwork and met everyone briefly. Perhaps it was my dream that I'd had that morning, but when I got to the table and he asked me if I was having fun, I told him, "Yes. I'm from LA and I'm homesick, so I wanted to do this."

"Really?" he perked up, "What part?" I told him West Hollywood and we compared our cross streets. There's something that always happens to me when I get into situations where I feel that I'm being judged on my physical attributes. My voice gets smaller and I become shy. Had I met this guy at a party, all would be fine.

However, in situations such as this where I'm unfamiliar with the people, I always choke. The person that can just be me hides behind the image she feels is being judged, leaving what I feel is a vacuous uninteresting presentation. I get frustrated with myself, simply because that tiny voice stifles the larger one that I have, much like hooking a garden hose up to a fire hydrant. It's almost like test anxiety, where you know the answers but can't get past the first question.

I wish that I could be comfortable with both attributes being appreciated at the same time, but I'm not. Like I said, it's that internal fight between the demure doormat who hopes to be noticed and a confident person who says, "Here I am, both above and below the neck."

I haven't yet figured out how to be a happy medium of both.