Saturday, December 25, 2004

Saturday, December 11, 2004

On December 4th, my mom and I went on a bus trip to New York City. Her church arranges a chartered bus trip each year for $50 to and from Baltimore, so we went. And no, people weren't singing revivals about being saved by Jesus on the way or bible thumping. It was just organized by the church and anyone could go. Even better, the pick up was at the church, one block from my house and one from my mom's. You can't beat that for convenience. Once you get to New York, it's your oyster for about eight hours until you all meet up again to get on the bus home.

The bus left at 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday. I was so proud of myself that I was able to get up in time enough to make coffee and put on makeup. I'd been worried about the trip the night before, mainly because I wasn't sure how I would take being on a bus for four hours, nor how I would react to being in New York again. The reason being, I hadn't been back since before September 11th, 2001, so I had not seen it without the towers. But, it was something I had to face and I've had countless dreams about visiting Ground Zero. Mostly flying dreams, where I flew like Superman over the wreckage, viewing the destruction from the air.

When my mom asked me what I wanted to do in New York, the first thing out of my mouth was that I wanted to see Ground Zero. I had to take it out of my head and put it in front of my face. To stand there and face it. Not on television, but in reality with sights, sounds, smells, intercepted by my senses, and looked at through my eyes, the way I wanted to look at it. To have the shoes on my feet walk the place that for so long I've only experienced through pictures, sound bites, and video and accept that it really did happen.

My mom and I had somehow scored front seats on the bus, so our view was unencumbered. I got my first sight of the new skyline when we were driving through Secaucus, New Jersey. A woman in the seat behind us kept talking to my mom and to me. I could tell my mom wanted to look at the skyline in peace, since she hadn't seen it since before either, but was being polite. I glanced her way every now and then but was focused on the gaping hole in the cityscape. It was incredible how big a gap it was, as if a giant fist had punched out the two front teeth of the city and it now grinned at us with a broken, incomplete smile.

The bus dropped us off above Times Square, and after ducking into a chic hotel to go to the restroom and freshen up, we jumped on the subway and made it downtown. When we got off at the Charles Street stop, it was hard to navigate without the aid of the towers since the Wall Street area can be a bit confusing. I tried to orient myself, and did an okay job. Eventually, as things became familiar, I knew we were going in the right direction. After we'd walked a couple blocks I saw the massive barrier lined with people.

We had found Ground Zero.

We walked toward it, and once we got to the barrier, became quiet. I was finally facing the monster. It was huge, cavernous, and empty. Even more eerie was to look skyward and see the vacancy. There was nothing. Just nothing but air. And in that serene nothingness, so much horror had taken place. I wondered if the prayers of those trapped inside still echoed quietly in that space, or the shouts, screams, disbelief. As I looked up, I also realized I was looking at the flight path of the terrorists, and that those very planes had passed above where I was standing. Debris, people, had fallen where I quietly stood. I was suddenly thankful for my comfort, for my feet being firmly on the ground, and for my height being only 5'4. After all, I could survive a fall from five feet four inches.

My mom and I slowly walked the perimeter, stopping to look at the iron cross and take in the vastness of the hole in the ground. Unless you are there, I can't describe how huge it is. What on earth must it have been like to be around when two 110 story buildings crashed to the ground? Think about when you are in a restaurant, and the jolting noise that a waiter makes when he drops a tray of dishes. But two 110 story buildings? I can't even imagine. I'd stood in the observation tower on the top floor of one of the towers and leaned against the glass, looking down. The height was almost incomprehensible.

Hunger got to us, and along the perimeter we stopped at a delicatessen where I had the best chicken soup I ever tasted and a delicious turkey and cheese pita sandwich. So fresh, and just perfect. We were planning to shop maybe go to a museum for the rest of the day, so I knew I needed to fuel up. The people were very friendly, and the owner greeted everyone from behind the counter as they walked in. On the walls, they'd hung pictures of when the delicatessen had served as a first aid station and supply holding for the workers at Ground Zero. Shelved under signs that said Beverages, Snacks, Fruit, were sterile bandages, IV bags, masks, and every medical need one can imagine. In the photos, a hole where their entrance had been showed the destruction outside. The sign that said "First Aid Station" still hung in the restaurant as a reminder. The deli was right next to the 1 Bankers Trust building which is still draped in a black tarp, a huge rectangle monolith jutting toward the sky. Other buildings still had damage that was visible, many boarded up. Scaffolding and walkways were everywhere, along with stairs that took you over places too precarious to walk, or currently under construction.

Me at Ground Zero in one of the constructed walkways. You can see the cavernous holes in the background where the towers once stood, and that's just part of it.

I read before we went about visiting Ground Zero, and they asked for us to patronize the local establishments there. We would have anyway, but it was good to see that they were reminding people to do that. If you go, before hopping on the subway to eat at the restaurant du jour, think about having a bite at one of the local delicatessens by Ground Zero. Some of these people lost over 80% of their business after the towers fell. If you're not hungry, buy a Coke, or water. These are some of the people who were washing out the eyes of firemen and policemen, providing shelter, and giving away their goods to help in any way they could.

We walked the entire perimeter, which included going through the Financial Center, simply because it had stores and I needed to pick up film. This is the area that was captured in pictures showing dust, debris, and ash covered escalators. It was now lively but subdued, since it was a Saturday, but a Starbucks inside was bustling.

Mostly, my mom and I walked, locked in our own thoughts and pointing things out to each other. I was glad that I had her there with me and that when I said I wanted to go, she simply said, "ok." No explanation was necessary. I feel like I've put a period on the end of that sentence. A very long rambling sentence that used too many commas, contractions, dashes, and semicolons. One that would certainly be underscored in green in MS Word as a long sentence that I should consider revising.

But I'm not going to revise it.

I'm going to leave it the way it is and start a new one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I'm up late again, or early. I can't really call myself an insomniac since I get plenty of sleep. Today, that sleep occurred mostly during the day, but it was so dreary and grey it just felt like the right thing to do. I was up for a couple hours, then donned my fuzzy robe and stretched out on the couch. Atticus took advantage and stretched out across me, and the two of us were out in no time. I finally made it to Starbucks at seven in the evening where I read the beginnings of Making a Literary Life. It was an impulse buy when I worked at Barnes and Noble, and now I have time to read it. Sometimes, I like to read about writing whether I intend to write or not. My guilty pleasure of late has been reading Dean Koontz. Yeah, I know.

Shut up.

The man can tell a good story though, and they are quick reads. Perfect for late night reading in bed. Perfect. I've been known to have dark thoughts at night, and I'd rather they be those of someone else.

Oddly though, my neighbors all seem to be night people as well. The two above me seem to keep my schedule, up until wee hours and quiet during the morning until noon. Sometimes I hear them bringing the dogs for a walk anytime between three and five in the morning, if I'm up. In that case, I'm not alone and it is comforting to hear them up. The guy on my floor, who has replaced Emily, is a very sweet guy who works as a heart surgery nurse at Johns Hopkins, and his hours are at night for the most part I believe. Talk about a tough job. Smart guy who told me of the history of many medical marvels created at Johns Hopkins. Most of the wealthy doctors lived right here in Bolton Hill. It's evident in the colossal Victorian mansions that line the streets. Blue plaques adorn many of the homes where there is historical significance. Many are because of the medical achievements of past occupants.My apartment is huge, and it's only half of one floor. I even have a foyer that is easily ten feet long, and three and a half feet wide.

Also adding to the nocturnal beat is MICA, where I want to take a spring class. Whenever I'm up, I find comfort in knowing that the art students are likely up, working on assignments due tomorrow. Some of them work late at the school, others in their apartments. I just wish I could see them as it makes it easier for me to get into bed. I feel as if I have to keep watch, a sentinel for things that go bump in the night. If others are up, I can relieve myself of duty. My aversion to bed is a holdover from waking up on the morning of September 11th. Since then, it's been hard for me to for lack of a better word, retire. And that means, retiring my mind for the night and handing it over to sleep. When I lived with my mom and Jack, the dorm was right across the alley from the bedroom that I slept in, and I could see the students up and working. It was a sign that things were fine. The girl below me is a MICA graduate student, and I know she must keep some late nights.

My goal is to get myself into bed earlier, as I have no reason to stay up late. Whether I sleep is not the issue, I just think that I should be in bed by a certain time. Then, I can read or listen to the radio. Perhaps over time I'll even be able to fall asleep earlier.

Dan was here this week and it was great as usual. We spent some time together and he showed me his resume that he altered to reflect his new career goals. We went to Starbucks and spoke, and it occurred to me that this very accomplished person valued my opinion on his resume. Occasionally I get reminders that I have things to offer at a high level. And sitting there, I all of a sudden remembered that I was smart. Yes, I know I'm smart, but this was a different kind of smart that I too many times forget that I am. I will explain more about this later.

And for those of you who asked, I didn't make the deadline. Considering that David Simon's company is called Blown Deadline Productions, perhaps I was just fitting in. I got a little more work thrown my way, and with the other stuff, it was just too much to hit the deadline. On Friday, I was sitting at my desk working frantically, when realized that was stupid. No one needed what I was working on until next season, and everyone had left. The holidays were approaching, and no one cared whether I got it done by Friday except for me. Also, I was alone in an entire building in a remote industrial area, where it was very obvious that there was only one car in the parking lot. I packed everything up, incredibly pissed off but in a way relieved, and left. I'll get it done, but I want a rest first. Especially with Thanksgiving coming up.

As I was working, the cleaning lady told me again what a nice person I was. She had mentioned that when she thought she wasn't going to see me again. I'm not sure where she and her daughter are from, but they work their asses off. I don't think they are Mexican, but are probably closer to the equator than that. Certainly Latin, just not sure from where. I meant to ask, but never got the chance. If I had to guess, I'd say Bolivia or Ecuador. Her daughter is very shy, perhaps because she hasn't commanded English as well as her mother.

I've just polished off a late night Amaretto on the rocks. A little drink to soothe the soul and stave off the dark thoughts. Again, a topic for another time. Right now, Dean Koontz awaits.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I'm racing against the clock on this job. I had more to do than I thought and it's produced many late nights, early mornings. Last night I went to sleep at 5:00 in the morning. Admittedly, that was after reading in bed for an hour, but I am still working twelve hour days to try to finish my work. My last day is Friday, and I'm determined to have everything finished by that time. Two unexpected projects came up and it's put me behind in my main task. Oh well, that's life. But I'm ready to move on and not feel the pressure hanging over me that has been this project for the last few months. It's the one last thing I have to finish, and I can't wait to give it my patent-pending drop kick out of my life.

Somehow, my adrenaline has supported me on this one, though I was a little worried today as I felt myself dragging. On the way to work, I noticed the beautiful lighting in the harbor, so I drove onto the empty pier by my work and took pictures. Beside me were gargantuan sized gas tanks, and I expected to be accosted at any moment and asked why I was taking pictures. I wasn't, only by the occasional pelican or sea gull. The place was deserted, so I stood out there for awhile, feeling the soft marine breeze in my face. I looked at the water where a singular sailboat with white sails turned a pinkish orange by the setting sun, split the glassy water.

I have many pictures to post, but my computer is still down and I'm relegated to using this laptop which can barely support AOL 8.0. I had to uninstall 9.0 because it was too much for it.

My stepbrother Dan is back in town, so it will be fun to pick up where we left off, and also have someone to hang out with who is my age. My social life has plummeted since moving to Baltimore, and spontaneous outings like the ones I had with Shannon and friends are greatly missed. The people I meet feel so "dug in" here, and that's hard for me to relate to. Dan feels the same way about Hartford that I do about Baltimore, and we share many similar stories about the people and mentality. Both of us are ex big city dwellers, both having lived several years in New York and Los Angeles.

I think I'm going to have to take another art class not only because I've been wanting the creative outlet, but to interact with people on a regular basis who are non work related and also seeking creative satisfaction. Dan is at a career crossroads and needed a change of scenery, so he drove down here. He's been a very successful TV news producer for a long time. For a time, when the internet was the thing, our careers paralleled, even having us both working for Microsoft at the same time. He was in Seattle, and I was in Los Angeles. After that we were both producers of high profile web sites. Me at Fox Entertainment, promoting theater releases and home video on their Web site, and Dan at MSNBC. I actually worked in the building that was in the first Die Hard movie. Yep, I worked on the 25th floor in Nakatomi Plaza, which was really Fox Plaza. And yes, on more than one occasion I listened to Beethoven's Ninth when entering the parking garage. I was treated to daily spectacular sunsets, fun coworkers and great parties. The studios were also on the property and there was always something going on. Once, I almost inadvertently walked into a scene of NYPD Blue while they were filming. I saw Jimmy Smits and crew preparing for a scene, and was told by a crewmember that it was ok to pass through. I started my walk through the make-believe New York when I heard the A.D. yell, "Picture's up!" Fuck. I dove behind a dumpster until I heard him scream, "Cut!"

It was one of the most content times of my life and I got to do so many cool things on that job. It was a great company, even though my boss sucked. She was a coke addict I think, and because of that was hardly at work and left me to run the show. Which, by the way, was fine with me. My cube mate and I had a running joke of what the excuse for the day would be for her to miss work. She spoke like a stoned valley girl.

Ronald Reagan had an office at the top, that when his health permitted, he'd be there along with his secret service escorts. One day he pulled up in his limousine, and we all said hello, and he said cheerfully, "No thanks, don't want to buy anything today!" It was during the first stages of his Alzheimer's. I also rode up in the elevator with O.J. Simpson's attorney, Robert Shapiro, and found myself at a loss of words and manners. It was one of those awkward moments when we were standing in there alone and I had my lunch in hand. The elevator raced to the top and I rudely stared at him because I was taken aback and it was such a weird "sighting" as we call famous people sightings in L.A. He knew I recognized him, and broke the silence, commenting on that my fries smelled good. I'm sure I said something in return like, "You had to know that O.J. was one guilty mother fucker." Just kidding, I said nothing of the sort. He exited before me, and said to have a nice day. I replied in kind.

But back to the present, where I'm struggling and racing against Friday. I want to be free. I've enjoyed this experience, but I want to be free of it. I know that once I am, I will miss it. Today, someone asked me what I'm going to do afterward. This person was on the phone and is an ex-FBI informant who is incredibly rough around the edges. I told him that I didn't know, and he said, "A little soul searching, huh?"

Yeah, that sounds just about right.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

It's a wrap.

Officially, at least, for me. I still have some fine tuning to do to my work and will go back into the office to print it on Friday, but as far as everything else, I'm done. Off the books. Out in to the world, having no idea what is next.

And right now, I don't care.

Yesterday, David Simon gave a very generous gift to me in appreciation of the work done during the season. I know that my coworkers in the writer's office got a generous gift as well. I was really floored. I still am. Just another example of how well I've been treated on this show by people with good hearts.

We had our wrap party on Friday, and it was the hot ticket in town. That day, Derrick and I played a great joke on David Simon, decorating his office like a crime scene, body outline and all. Derrick kindly provided his person so that I could tape around him. We scattered Davidisms around the floor, like an empty gatorade bottle, chewed on pens, and an Almond Joy wrapper. Around the body outline were script pages from this season, a crumpled actor's headshot, and we cordoned off the scene with real crime scene police tape. He walked into his office and I heard a big laugh. Derrick and I let loose, and David got so much of a kick out of it he even laid down in the body outline where I took his picture. Hilarious.

For the party, I dressed up in gown and shawl, and went on my own knowing that I'd see my coworkers there. Lots of food, drink, bartenders that spoke little English and same for the caterers. I ordered a cosmopolitan, and got some strange drink in return. I didn't care, as I was game to try anything. Our gag reel was very funny, with lots of good editing at work. The band and music was loud, and at first I was self conscious to dance as it had been so long, and I knew there were going to be some good dancers on that floor. When I was in ballet, I was one with movement and my body, but it had been a while since I'd asked it to move to music. Finally, I inched onto the floor and like anything, once I warmed up I was fine. Not my best dancing, but I did ok.

There was a lot of talking and mingling, toasting of glasses and kisses on cheeks. Hugs and funny looks and laughing at one another. A precious moment when Anwan Glover, who plays Slim Charles, and Kelli R. Brown, who plays Kimmy were at the bar, and Funky Town came on. I guess it was the disco segment of the evening, and they were moving to the music and encouraged me to move with them. I tried as best I could, but I didn't feel my groove that night. It was precious in a way, being invited like that and unexpectedly gentle in its openness. I wasn't being judged, just asked to participate. So I did, whether my groove was felt or not.

A male coworker on the production side touched my butt a few times every time we'd be in a circle talking. His hand seemed to just find itself there, but I pretended I didn't notice. I guess I'm past feeling like I have to react to every grope. Were it overt, or were he a slob, that would be one thing, but this person just seemed to want to touch the female body. As long as his hand didn't linger there, I could pretend it didn't exist. When the moment allowed, I slipped away out of arm's reach.

Anwan Glover got up and did some really good rapping. And I mean really good. Apparently he's already a very well known rapper in a DC based Go-Go band called Backyard Band. Derrick told me about him and I'm now intrigued to find out more.

During the party, I had to scream at Dominic West on the dance floor, the music was so loud. Finally, I gave up trying to talk, as it was too hard to explain the answer to what sort of things that I researched while shouting. Everyone wants to know what you research, and so many things come to mind. Because really, I researched everything on this show, including when the term motherfucker was first used. For those of you who are curious, it was 1918. How can you explain that over blaring music? Dominic was gregarious as always, and funny. Very cute, and my last kiss on the cheek of the evening. I heard the party was winding down, and made my way downstairs. I was walking out and ran into Andre Royo, who hugged and kissed me, and Dominic, who asked me if I was leaving, then did the same. Not a bad way to end the night.

And that's the beauty of having worked on The Wire. Somewhere on my journey, I took the road less traveled and wandered into for me, an entirely new layer of the American experience. A layer where I was able to walk around on my own and feel about, and where I could shut up and learn about the varied people, cultures, and stories of the urban African American experience. And I'm not talking about the show itself, but the people whom I got to know and places that I walked and drove through, watched from afar, or not from so afar, voices I spoke to and faces I studied. Music that I heard and clothing I saw, hair styles, gadgets, cars, rims, yes...rims. Neighborhoods, language, terminology, laughter, and so much more. And yes, the despair, hopelessness, and ruin of many in the blighted neighborhoods. I owe a lot of being able to experience that fully to Derrick, my coworker who generously explained things to me and went with me into dangerous neighborhoods that I couldn't have gone into alone, and getting me to look closer than I may have otherwise.

I'll never forget it.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Today, my grandfather died. He is the last of my grandparents and it was sudden. He lived a long happy life and died peacefully. His body gave out under the stress of the surgery and post-surgery medications. The surgery was to deal with kidney and heart complications. He was on my father's side, and his wife had died almost twenty years earlier. He was in his 90's and still couldn't keep his composure when he talked about my grandmother, whom we called Mom. I know they are together now.

I hate death right now, mostly for its affect on people and the void it creates. Pop is in a good place, I know that. I'd known he been having bouts of illness and had a card ready to send to him. It sits on my table, wishing for him to get well soon. It has a silhouette of Mickey Mouse against a night sky watching shooting star and reads, "If wishing wells work, if crossed fingers count, if there's any magic in the world, you'll be feeling better soon."

I hadn't even signed it yet. So Pop, I hope you are feeling better, and riding on that shooting star.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Right now, my stepfather is on his way to Egypt.

He took me to the car repair shop this morning, then to the coffee shop where I bought him a coffee, and then to work. I got up earlier than I usually do and made it okay to work. It was incredibly nice of him to do this, especially with such a long trip ahead the same day.

He told me a bit about his trip, which includes camping a couple of nights in the middle of the desert with a group that's done this before. It's a "pilgrimage" trip, not a vacation type trip. He's going with sixteen other people. I can only imagine what the sky will look like in the desert, and the countless numbers of stars. It will be a completely different culture and way of life, where he is literally at the mercy of the trips organizers and the locals who are guides. It sounds like a once in a lifetime experience, which will not be wasted on Jack. Not many people can say they slept under the stars in the Sinai desert.

A couple weeks after grandmother died, Jack went on a trip to New Mexico. He drove through places I'd never heard of and made the entire trip to and from Baltimore in his car. The first call of the desert, I guess. He met people who still invited strangers in their houses by dropping a name they knew in common. He just recently retired and is on a soul searching mission, one that it doesn't seem that he is forcing, but one that is gently leading him by the hand. And he's going, wherever that hand is taking him. This month, it's to Egypt.

I completely know how he feels. It's a need to strip down and see who you really are. And to do that, sometimes your surroundings have to be unfamiliar. Sometimes, when surroundings are too known, things are easy to overlook. How many times have you turned to a companion in the car, or on a walk, and asked if something is new, only to have them turn to blandly tell you that it's been there for years. However, it's the first time you've noticed it.

I think self is like that sometimes. There are many parts of us that we haven't noticed, mainly because we haven't been tested in an environment where we've had to look for them. However, ask someone else, and like that sign, or tree, or building, they probably knew it was there all along. It's been a constant frustration of mine.

So Jack is going to Egypt on a quest for he not knows what. He just knows that he has to go. I'll be interested to hear what the desert whispered in his ear.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I've been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately. Last weekend I was walking by some stores and saw a needlepoint shop, and a pang of sadness came over me. It was closed, so I lingered, looking at all the patterns and colorful threads lining the walls. At the store display showing off a needlepointed clutch and change purse. A canvas of a tiger stared out at me from a rack of hanging canvas designs, ready for nimble fingers to take them on, and the pang stabbed again, a little deeper.

My grandmother taught me how to needlepoint, patiently teaching me the stitches and showing me how to stretch the canvas. She started me when I was around five or six years old, with a big needle and thick thread, my stitches uneven but pretty good for a five year old. I'd stitch some straight and some cross stitch, making monochromatic outlines of flowers or dogs and cats, with a single "X" for the eyes. My creations looked like crude hieroglyphics, all from the side view and with no perspective. My grandmother was proud of them nonetheless, and told me how good they were. When I was ready, we moved onto more grownup needle point, meaning smaller needles, tighter canvases, more colors and complicated stitches. We made trips to the house of friend of hers, walking up to the door and waiting outside in thick Arkansas heat. The door would open, a rush of air conditioner hit our faces and we'd be asked inside. I'd sit on the overstuffed couch with my little legs pointing straight outward and my round hoop sitting on my lap. My grandmother would sit with me or in other cases leave me there to be taught. I can't remember if some of the lessons were paid for, but I'm sure the ones where I was left with the lady and a couple other little girls were lessons that were paid for. Grandmother would return, and I'd show her what I'd done. I was also ready to shed the dress that she'd made me wear and go swimming.

As I stared into the store, so colorful and happy, I thought about all the knowledge that grandmother had about needlepoint, and how she had enjoyed it so much and shared it with me. I wondered where that knowledge had gone, now that she had passed away. Was it floating around, or did it just dissipate like steam in the air? The sad part was, that it had disappeared before that. She had suffered from Alzheimer's, and toward the end had trouble remembering a lot of things. As with all Alzheimer's sufferers, they have lucid moments, but then they have the moments like the time my grandmother looked at me and not being able to remember my name, referred to me as "one of them," meaning her grandchildren.

I know that some of that knowledge lives on in me. The appreciation for the art, the ability to do it if I want to, and I do want to. But where is the part that lived within her? It was sad to see the remnants of something she loved here on earth. The canvases that she wouldn't stitch, needles she wouldn't hold and thread she wouldn't use. Projects, that if I took it up again, I will not be able to show her. Since the store was closed, it added to the feeling of loss. With me standing on the outside, peering in at something I couldn't touch. No activity happening inside. Just still tools of the trade. Fully visible, but untouchable and unmovable. I felt as if that is how it had become to grandmother, and how grandmother had become to me. And I wondered again, where had she gone?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The premiere for our show was last night at the Brown Center at MICA, three blocks away from my apartment and two blocks from my mom and Jack’s house. I invited my mom and Jack to the event, and we walked to the premiere, which couldn’t have been more convenient and fitting. We were all dressed up, not overly so, but certainly looked like we were going to an event. As we approached, I could see that most of the crowd was dressed in casual attire, except for some of the actors and some other guests. I wasn’t pleased to see that, and said, “Look at them. What a bunch of bums,” at the lack of effort that most of my fellow crewmembers had put into their dress for the evening. I was half kidding, and felt overdressed, but Jack told me that there was no such thing as being overdressed, and not to sweat it. I didn’t, but was frustrated that I wouldn’t get to see my coworkers dressed up. I love seeing people put on their best instead of how you see them every day at work. And this was an evening event at a very cool venue.

The reception was in the lobby of the building, already crowded with people mingling and schmoozing. I hadn’t eaten anything all day, except for an iced mocha from Starbucks, so I was famished. I’d spent the morning looking for a more dressed down dress, and wasn’t able to find anything. After seeing the way that people were dressed, I was glad that I hadn’t wasted the effort and the money. My outfit mixed couture with more casual, and it seemed to work. My mom looked great in her long black dress with a rose colored shawl, and Jack looked very dapper, along with umbrella in hand, dressed in a suit complimented with an Hermes tie that I’d given him for Christmas one year back in my flush days. My outfit was from my flush days as well, half of it being from the outfit I wore to the CareerPath Christmas party, then passed through every red rope at Los Angeles night clubs such as the then impossible to get into, Sky Bar. My top was a Gucci cardigan over a black fitted halter, which dressed down the skirt. It was between that and an entire Prada outfit, once again bought during my flush days. Looking back, that outfit would have been fine, but it was a windy day, and I was dying to see and feel my long silky skirt blow in the wind. It did, and felt marvelous. My mom said that I looked like a Greek goddess. The skirt has a lot of fabric and is made for days like that. It sounds as if these things line my closet, but I can no longer afford to be so liberal in my clothing spending. Ever since my teen years, I had a fantasy of being able to buy such things, then when I could, I did. It is nice to have these souvenirs to pull out, and I always bought very classic, feminine stuff, that is except for the Gucci ski boots which I just had to have. And no, they weren't for skiing. That whole paragraph sounds like a designer name dropping spree, but so be it. I love designer clothes. Love them. However, my means can’t afford that anymore. Now, what would once have been spent on a Prada vest for me pays the rent. It’s a choice that I made, and am sticking to. I’m not willing to make the sacrifice that I did before and suffer another breakdown. Especially after this job, which I will touch on later.

But, back to the premiere. It was a lot of fun, especially watching my mom go and introduce herself to everyone. She talked to every single person that she could, and Jack and I had to keep up with her as she’d introduce herself and I’d reintroduce myself as being Anne from the writer’s office. Luckily, her rose shawl stuck out in the crowd and I could locate her when she got away. We talked to David Simon, Laura Lippman, Wendell Pierce, who plays Bunk on the show and was a sweetheart. He said that he remembered me from the office. Michael K. Williams, who plays Omar told my mom that she looked gorgeous, and when my mom said to him, “Not bad for an old broad, he said, “Oh my foot! You could beat me in a race anytime.” It was priceless. Omar is my mom’s favorite character on the show, so it was fun to see her meet him. And yes, his scar is real. Andre Royo, who plays Bubbles, told my mom that she was sexy. I wasn’t there to see that one, but I’m sure it was great. He’s a very nice and funny person. After we’d sat down in the theater, I spotted Robert F. Chew, who plays Proposition Joe on the show, sitting several rows behind us, and we made a special trip to say hello to him. I hadn’t met him before, and as he is just a great character and actor, I wanted to tell him so. Proposition Joe has some great lines, such as, “If you weren’t in with the Greek, you’d be a cadaverous mother fucker.” He was very gracious, thanking us and telling us how he became an actor. I told him that a week after I started with The Wire, that I’d spotted him in a Starbucks and how ironic it was. I told him which one, and he actually remembered being there at that time. The Mt. Washington Starbucks is quite unique, being a renovated old mill and made out of brick.

Before the episode aired, David Simon got up and gave a speech, thanking everyone and talking about the show and characters, that compared to what was going on in the world, The Wire, was soon going to be categorized as a light-hearted comedy. Dominic West arrived and sat behind us, and dressed in a suit may I say, being British that he is, but the show had already started. He ducked out quickly, and I was sorry that my mom didn’t get to meet him, as he’s a kick in the pants. As the credits came on, we saw my name and the three of us clapped. It was the first time I’d seen the entire credits roll, so had no idea when my name would come up. Thankfully, they remembered the “e” on my first name. The episode airs tonight at 9pm on HBO, then during the week if you don’t catch it then. If you catch the show, and give an airborne intercourse, watch the credits at the end and you can see my name flash up on screen. I’m the researcher, and I think I come on about three fourths the way through. Forever recorded as a part of that television show. Another, “Anne was here,” like in the book, and so many other places. I’ll have to look them all up sometime. As far as the credits, I’ll try to get a screen shot of it sometime and post it here. That will have to be through the help of my more technically inclined friends.

After the show ended, and all applause finished, my mom was at it again, greeting everyone. It was fun to watch her having so much fun and making the most of the opportunity. Jack preferred to sit back and watch, and my mom dove in and spoke to everyone she could. I was glad that she got to meet so many people, and people really responded warmly to her. How could they not? She is my mom, after all. They were very warm to me as well, shaking my hand and being gracious. The irony wasn’t lost on me, two small very dressed up women greeting people who looked like gangsters and in some cases were gangsters. I pointed out one of our new cast members who spent several years in prison for a double murder. And this is in real life. Another cast member was a legendary heroin king who was busted by one of our producers who is an ex-cop. Another is a con man and pick pocket, whose ways haven’t changed a bit, except for the pick pocketing. The stories are endless.

One funny part of the evening was when the girlfriend of one of the actresses gave me the evil eye after we approached. I won’t say who the actress was, and if you watch the show, it’s not who you’d expect, but the three of us figured out that they were a couple. I had no idea! I wondered why the woman was looking at me that way. Girlfriend needn’t have worried, as I don’t bark up that tree. I did find it funny though, not to mention a little flattering. Domenick Lombardozzi was charming, and held my hand as if it were blown glass that would shatter. He took my hands in both of his, which was very gentile, I thought. I love it when men treat you like a lady. Everyone was just incredibly nice, and I was really impressed with how they all greeted and spoke to everyone. It must be so incredibly hard, all these strange people coming up to you and wanting some face time.

There was a party afterward that I chose not to go to. It was in Canton and would require parking there on a Saturday night. I was talked out, didn’t want to drive anywhere and just wanted to have some quiet time with my mom and Jack. The three of us walked home in that same wonderful wind, my skirt shimmering under the streetlights as it blew behind me and rippled like liquid gold in the night.

I’m still trying to figure out what to make of that evening. That night I dreamed I was sitting on a bed and talking to Johnny Depp. I also came up with a great idea for my career dilemma with a job that would have me moving around and making enough money, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. I’m sure at some point it will come back to me. I was doing a lot of thinking that night, and as I walked from person to person, felt like I was experiencing everything through the eyes of someone else. I felt as if I was just along for the ride, with the ability to control the limbs and the expressions on the face of the puppet I was inside, but that I was really going to wake up, just like I did from sitting with Johnny Depp.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Classes have started and the art students are back. Good to see them walking around with their canvases and raw creative energy. On the contrary, I've been feeling pent up and frustrated, as I have yet to find a good outlet for what I know lays inside. Even though I've had some great triumphs, inside I feel as if it's just another day.

A while back, I mentioned going off my medication for a trial. At first it was wonderful, but it eventually became too much to bear. I'd forgotten about the other things associated with depression that I'd taken for granted. The irritable stomach, flash fire anger, the inability to concentrate or finish anything, and despair. So, after several weeks and earning the right to say that I tried, I went back on my low dose. Things are much better, but sometimes I fear not feeling like I did those first few weeks where the feelings were just right. Perhaps my next trial is a lower dose.

There is a new book about our show, called, "The Wire: Truth be Told," that I worked on. I worked on fact checking, editing, and co-wrote the glossary. I also worked with authors to get their essays for the book, and famous Broadway play creators. It was a long labor and I worked hard on it, and checked things again, and again, down to making sure dialogue was correctly quoted from the episodes where it appeared in the book. I'm credited in the acknowledgments in the back of the book. If you see it in a book store and give a shit, take a gander, as I'm there. Plus, it's a great book with the history of the show and the story line. Great stuff. For those of you who live in New York City, there is a book signing there this Wednesday, September 15th at 1:30PM at Borders Wall Street at 100 Broadway, with the show's creator, David Simon, cast members Dominic West, Sonja Sohn, and Idris Elba, as well as the book's author, Rafael Alvarez.

Our premiere is at MICA this Saturday, three blocks from my apartment. I've decided to take my mom, as she's the one who got me watching the show in the first place. I have no idea what I'm going to wear. Perhaps I'll go shopping one of these evenings or on Saturday. I love the fact that I'm going to be able to walk to the premiere. Now that's convenience. Since I won't be driving, hopefully there will be a nice selection of alcoholic beverages.

If you haven't noticed on the left hand side of my blog, I'm trying out the new Google Ads. I can live with them, as they don't really mess with the design and they aren't advertising things like how to enlarge certain parts of the male anatomy. They actually tailor to the content that I write about in my blog, so they are different for every page, which is kind of cool. It's a way to get some extra pocket change, so every time that you come back, click on an ad (or two) and help me pay for some art classes! I also want to see how this works. So far, it's been really fun to track the click through rate.

I'm trying to update this blog more often, but as I said have felt uninspired. It's not because things are going better for me. That is soon enough to come to a close, as my world will once again change at the end of October. I'm actually looking forward to the end of this job, just for the sake of having completed it and to be able to say, I did that. I am glad that there is a solid end, so I will not drift in it for too long. I have no idea what will come next, but as always, something does.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

America, interrupted.

On the third anniversary since that horrible day, take the time to read some of the compelling, heart-wrenching, and honest accounts from those who were there or watched the events unfold on television. They answer the question, "Where were you?" on September 11th, 2001.

I discovered a site like this one when I myself was searching for answers, comfort, for anything to sway my disbelief, and feeling of isolation after September 11th. The initial site that had the stories is now gone, so I offer this one. It's probably one of the best collections of links of the accounts of September 11th from a personal standpoint, including photographs in some of the blogs from people who witnessed the horror in person. I suggest it because the way we all felt that day is easy to forget, or minimize as time passes. And while we should not wallow, we should not forget the colossal tragedy of that day and the reverberating effects that it had on us as individuals.

In memory of the victims. In memory of that other America.

Monday, September 06, 2004

I've been having computer problems so have not been able to post. Perhaps that's a good thing, as it's forced me to be innovative and hook up my laptop for DSL capabilities. It's different to write when you're able to lean back and sit with a computer on your lap. It's given me an idea on how to make a better working environment that won't have me sitting at my desk. I'll soon be in the market for a chair where I can work and write. A chair and ottoman, that is, and one of those pads that absorbs the heat from your laptop.

And that brings me once again to the topic of sitting at desks. I fucking hate it. In the several months that I've been on this job, I'm already seeing the effects that sitting at a desk has had on my body. I feel lethargic, and like I'm squashed into my mid-section like an accordion, because all day long, I sit, and sit, and sit.

When I get to work in the morning, it's hard to stay awake. One, because it's morning, and two, because I get up, spend the next hour getting ready and driving to work, all the process of waking up. Then, I get my coffee, and just when I start to feel half awake, I have to sit down at a desk and stare at a computer. At once, my eyelids start to droop and my body wonders why it has to be awake since I stopped moving. Its ancient instincts are telling it to slumber since I'm not using it to hunt and gather, or roam nomadically with my clan.

I'll admit, that desk jobs where there is more people activity around work better, but this one has me sitting in an office by myself. To some of you, this probably sounds heavenly, but not to me. I look out toward an open area, but for Christ's sake, it's so damn quiet in there it kills me.

I've been thinking that there should be legislation to force recess on workers. Not a lunch hour, but physical activity. First, it would be team building, second, productivity would probably skyrocket as endorphins would kick in and people would be healthier. Everyone I know wastes so much time at work being less productive than they could because of sedentary fatigue. The whole working culture is a joke, not to mention a killer. People gain weight, eat poorly, their world becomes their desks, cubicles, the walk from their parking places to their offices, and back. It depresses the hell out of me. Of course, there would be many options and levels of activity to accommodate everyone. But Christ, we're humans, and not meant to sit still for eight hours or more. And those who resist the idea the most, should be the first forced to do it as they probably need it the most. Even going on group walks as a start. I can see it now, corporate dodge ball.

Anyway, in their current form, desk jobs are not for me. I don't care how cool they are. The hours, lack of activity, monotony, and boredom that sets in just works against me. And that of course, has me wondering what it is that I can do. At this stage in my life, I didn't want to be wondering this, but here I am feeling like a teenager who doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. I'll be okay financially for a little bit after this job ends in October. I'm kind of looking forward to its end. I like my coworkers, but I don't like the unpredictability of the hours and being locked to a desk and a phone. In fact, some days I'm running out the door when I can. I've been that way since day one of office jobs, bolting out the door to freedom where I can roam. But what else is there that enables me to make a decent living? Working in a bookstore doesn't pay the bills. Plus, that shouldn't be my only option. Ideas are welcome.

I worked on a freelance job with an old friend and work colleague of mine. The response from him and the client to my writing was really positive. He even wrote that the project manager said that my first submission was the best start of any copywriter that they've ever had at their HUGE toy company. The change of pace was wholly welcome, and what an ego boost it was to have them say so many positive things. I'd love to do more work for them, and love working with Ron. He brings out the best in my abilities.

My mom and I went to see a movie called Garden State. Funny, touching, and great. I wish I could be half as adorable as Natalie Portman.

This Friday after work, I went to see us filming a scene in Bryan's neighborhood. He's had it up to his eye teeth with The Wire, as they use his street a lot to film the show, and I really wanted to see if everything was going ok. He'd written a letter earlier about having access to an alley, and I wondered if he was having to resort to running his circular saw during filming to get it. When I got there, I didn't recognize many faces since my job has me, yep, at a desk. However, little by little I saw people I knew from parties or get togethers. Stepping over cables, props, around directors chairs and lights, I watched as the scene that we had read over and over again in the writer's office come to life before my eyes. It's so different to see it, and to see the production staff scattered like ants around a hill, all having something to do, all eyes on the action. The scene was a very poignant one in the story line.

I haven't met Bryan except for via email and only know him by sight from the pictures on his website. As far as I know, I didn't see him outside, but figured all was well since I didn't hear the circular saw. I saw that a picture of me had made it onto the craft services truck, pasted up among the others of cast and crew. I was now an official part of history in the making this show. I was happy to see it up there, as an "Anne was here."

I have much more to write, but won't right now.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

On Monday, I had an interesting time at work. The writers asked me to help them with piecing together "beats" for a future episode. Beats are plot points in a story that must be written. As an example, say the beat reads, "Anne sits down to check email, gets a 'you're fired' e-mail message from Donald Trump." As a writer, you have to decide exactly how that beat will play out in the form of a scene, all while staying in theme and character, and moving the story along to the next beat. That comes out in dialogue and action.

Such as, Anne comes home, pets her cats, ignores the bills in the mail and sets them on the glass table with all the other ignored bills, strips out of her work jeans and puts on her home jeans, and then checks email. She reads the email from Donald Trump, that simply says, "You're fired." She responds, "Fine, you pucker-faced bitch with a bad combover, your hair is fired. By the way, I never worked for you, so you can't fire me anyway. And another thing, ten years ago, when you went to that night club in New York City with that bimbo and checked your coat with me, I snooped through your pockets. Yeah, I did, Donald. How do you like that?" Now, this was merely just an emotional response from Anne, who was reacting to being fired from a job she never held in the first place, and never thought The Donald would read it.

This fits in perfectly with the next beat, where Donald creates a new show to find the best hair stylist from the initial eighteen who were selected for his new show, "You're Fried!" After all, The Donald has been coifed with a fried hair combover for long enough. And that beat is written that The Donald, disjointed and sulking over having just been fired as CEO of his own casinos, does open Anne's reply email as a distraction from his own woes. He reads it, having no idea who this Anne is because he thought he sent the email to Anne Heche. Anne Heche doesn't work for The Donald either, but she thinks she is an alien from another planet, and that's a fine reason to fire anyone if he ever heard of one. However, the wrong Anne's words are taken to heart, and as he looks at his freshly sucked lemon face and bad combover, hatches the idea of "You're Fried." After which, he unconsciously checks his pockets.

And the beat goes on, literally until you've told your entire story. This is particularly done in episodics where there are multiple characters, each having their own "beat." Themes also have beats, if the episode has multiple story lines. Such as, investigation beats, if there is an ongoing one, or political beats, if politicians are involved. All are designed to map out the story so no one gets forgotten during the process.

So, on Monday, I was asked to help them map out the beats for the episode, and it was very very interesting. The writer for that episode is a famous author, and I worked with him and a producer from 10:00am to 4:00pm. An incredible learning experience that I was honored to be a part of. To see the thinking process and the discussions, and be a part of those was very motivating. I wrote the beats on cards as they were hashed out, and we tacked them up on a board and numbered them. I got to see this episode come together like a quilt and be a part of that creative process. And as you would patches in a quilt, we moved around the cards if the beats worked better earlier in the episode, or at night. It felt great, and the time flew by. It helps that these two are very good people with feet planted firmly on the ground, and the meeting was an all inclusive one where my participation and input were encouraged. It was a very gentle and welcoming experience that I felt very lucky to be a part of. The best part, was afterward they thanked me for helping them out.

But of course.

And, I thanked them for including me.

It's always eye opening to see that everyone has to go through a process where they feel like they are on shaky ground. Things aren't written perfectly in one draft, and no one has all the answers. Sure I know that intellectually, and most of us do, but seeing it in front of me is once again a reminder that the hurdles are there even at the top. Everyone has questions and moments where they feel it's time to ask for help. It was also nice to realize that I can still function confidently at that level, which includes not being afraid to ask how a process is done. This is a very important thing, because that confidence that I mentioned includes admitting something is new to me in company one may feel pressured to pretend they already know. Allowing myself to be coached so that I can give the more experienced parties the help that they requested and in that process, gain something myself.

And in doing so, in the end we all came out winners.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

A big thank you to all those who wrote such sweet messages about my little "incident." I appreciated all of them.

Oddly enough, a few weeks back, I was emailed by a man named Mark O'Brien who had the same thing happen to his son, though his son wasn't as lucky as I was. In this case, the thugs were holding a gun and used it. I wasn't aware of this during our first few email exchanges, and he kept in touch with me pointing me to entries on his own blog, called Seven Inches of Sense.

I then watched a documentary television show about New York City police, profiling a murder in New York City. I saw the victim, a handsome sandy-haired young man, and thought, "He looks like the type of guy that I would date." His face smiled up from his driver's license. The smile of someone who would never be able to do so again. A life cut short by complete losers who accosted him and a friend on the street and demanded what they didn't want to work for.

One shot was fired, killing Burke, Mark's son. It's a senseless crime that is still unsolved almost a year later. The man had pointed me to the website of the show after it aired, and I mentioned in a return email how sad it was watching the parents come into the city to identify their son. Their world completely shattered into a devastating reality. In his return email, he said, "yes, that was me."

I was at work when I got that response, and it shocked me. I had no idea I had been exchanging emails with the very person that I'd just watched on television and felt such empathy for. I wondered, why he had reached out to me? What could I possibly offer someone who had suffered such a loss? And then it became clear. I can spread the word. I can be one link closer to the police finding the killers. A chainlink of me and other bloggers who can shake the rafters and call attention to this crime and the subhumans who did it and are still walking the streets. Perhaps you brushed by them in the subway, or helped them at your retail job. Perhaps you are only a degree or two of separation from the people who did this or someone who knows something. Eventually, the net will close in if enough people are made aware. I've linked to Seven Inches of Sense, a blog created by friends and family to develop a readership and help spread the word about Burke's site.

So visit Seven Inches of Sense, and Burke's site, and help a grieving family.

As if this story can't get worse, I just clicked on their site to test the link, and read that Mark O'Brien, Burke's father and the man who had reached out to me was killed in a car accident yesterday. How completely and utterly tragic. Please keep their family in your prayers.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I had another surprise on my birthday, this one not at all pleasant.

After dinner and a movie with my mom, I drove home. I parked my car, popped the trunk, and took out a big box sent to me by a friend that I'd picked up at the post office earlier in the day. I put my left arm through my purse, a bag kitty litter in that same arm, and held my soda cup from the movies in my left hand. The box was big, but lightweight, so I could hold it with my right hand. It was awkward, but it worked.

As I made my way to my apartment, two people that I’d first seen in front of my mom’s house walked in front of me, a male and female. The male asked me the time, I said I didn't have a watch, and the female walked ahead, saying, "I'm not sure we are going the right way." I asked them where they wanted to go, and they said Dolphin Street, which I thought was strange. There isn't anything on Dolphin Street. I told them the way to go, and motioned with the hand that was holding the Coke, and the two began walking ahead of me. I continued behind them a few more steps when the male suddenly stopped short. That's when I knew I was in trouble. He spun on his heels, grabbed my left arm, brought up his right hand, which held a huge can of mace, and from a foot away, sprayed it directly in my face. I felt it hit my forehead and left side of my face and my right cheek. Then, they just stood there. And so did I.

For just a second.

My reaction wasn't what one would expect from just receiving a face blast of mace. I didn't drop a thing, not even my Coke. He had released my arm, so I turned a quarter away from them and said sarcastically, "Oh, thank you very much." Yes, that is what I said. Then, the male said to the female, as they watched me, "I think we're running low," meaning the mace. When I look back, I think he said that because of my calm reaction. I have no idea how I stayed so calm, but I did. I attribute it to being in shock. My uncle says he thinks it’s because I’m tough. I’ll let him think that. :)

And that’s when extraordinary luck came into play. Behind me, I heard someone open the inside door to their apartment building. I walked from my assailants and made my way toward the noise. The door was all wood, so the person behind it couldn't see what was going on nor did the bad people know anyone was there when they did what they did. I walked up the stoop, knocked on the huge wooden doors, and a college age kid answered with a phone to his ear. A beautiful sight.

I said to him, still holding all my things, "I've just been assaulted, call 911." I repeated it a couple times as he let it register. He looked at me, then told his friend, "I gotta go." From the corner of my eye, I saw the two vermin retreat into the darkness. After I had reached safety, is when my body let me feel the fierce burning effects of the mace. I squeezed my eyes shut, and from there, everything was a flurry of sounds, smells, touch, and senses.

I said to the guy, “I can’t believe they just did that,” crying and shaking, my hands to my face and my eyes squeezed shut. He took my box and set it down, then led me into the foyer where I crouched in the corner as he spoke to the 911 operator, telling them I needed medical assistance and relaying to them what he knew. He relayed their questions to me, and I’d tell him, then he’d tell the operator. I could tell he was struggling with their questions, and offered to talk to the operator. He put the phone in my hand, and I gave a description, and after we were finished, they told me to get comfortable and that police and paramedics were on the way. As I crouched in the corner, occasionally my savior would gently touch my arm, letting me know he was close by. It turns out that he was visiting a friend in his apartment building, and God bless him, just happened to be there at the right time. He was a MICA student, and spoke to me every now and then. He was so calm and mature and told me what was going on around me, such as when he saw the fire truck pull up.

I heard the hiss and bellow of the truck, and the squeak of the brakes. I heard male voices, then the student talking to the firemen. I then heard a male voice say, “Sweetie?” I can’t remember if I moved or not, and he said again, “Sweetie?” I raised my head, and he told me he was with the fire department, and asked me what happened. I told him, my voice quivering through tears, and he asked if he could lead me out onto the stoop. I nodded, stood up, and reached out, feeling his offered forearm. He guided me gently as I took baby steps, and I felt another hand gently wrap around my left arm for support. The skin on my face was on fire and the chemical, stinging smell of the mace penetrated my nose. As I crouched, I’d been careful to cover my mouth and nose to avoid it getting inside. He led me down a couple steps, then told me to sit down on the stoop, holding on to me the whole time as I did so. They discussed my condition among themselves, and said that they had some water they could pour on my face until the paramedics arrived to flush the mace out of my eyes. They handed me what they called four by fours, which felt like thick, square sheets of gauze in my hands. I used it to dab at my eyes and face, and thanked them, saying it was a shame that I couldn’t see them to know who was helping me. They said they were just around the corner, and to come see them anytime. When I said it was my birthday, they reacted in sympathy, but wished me a happy birthday. I said that it had been a great one until now, and that good part is what I would focus on. That got accolades from the firemen.

They tilted my head back, and dripped water on my face. It soaked the front of my shirt and pants, all the way down to my underwear. I couldn’t have cared less, as it felt so good to get some relief, though temporary. After the baptism, they asked me to try and open my eyes. I did, and it felt as if a hundred pins were being stuck in each eye. I reacted to the pain, and shut them as fast as I tried to open them. My face was still on fire, as was my scalp and ears.

Another voice came from my left, a man identifying himself as the police officer who was assigned to my case. I reached out my hand to feel for him, and he shook it. At the time, touch was really important to me, and I reached out to touch anyone who spoke to me. He asked me to describe what happened, and I did, with a description of both the assailants. I’d gotten a really good look at both of them, and somehow being blinded made it easier to recall details, as I wasn’t distracted by what was going on around me. And, with all the activity it must have been quite a scene. He asked me my address and date of birth, and when I told him, he said, “oh, man,” then wished me a happy one. The student who had opened his door to me said that he had to go, and I reached out for him and shook his hand, thanking him for everything.

At that time, I heard my neighbor’s voice to my left, and I called her by name. She asked if I was okay and I said yes, but that I’d been maced. I could hear her boyfriend’s voice as well, saying they saw the activity outside and then realized it was me. They asked if they could help, and I asked if they could take my things in the foyer inside our apartment building. They did, and returned just as the officer told me the paramedics were there. Someone took me by my right arm, and another person took me by my left and helped me stand. They gently led me to the ambulance, telling me how many steps that I had left and where the curb was. The paramedics were a male and female, and both helped me in and sat me down.

A funny part of the evening is when I overheard the officer explaining to the paramedics that I was maced as a result of an assault, and not by the police. I guess they have to make sure who they are dealing with, even if their patient is a woman in a sleeveless crepe flowery shirt and sandals. The woman paramedic told me she was going to flush my eyes out with distilled water, and explained that the mace was oil based and designed to cling to my eyelashes, which is why it hurt so bad when I opened them. Also, that mace reacts to heat, which is why they were using cool water. They had to pry my eyes open, flushing the left one first and then the right. They have to flush from the tear duct outward. It was extraordinarily uncomfortable, but eventually, it got clear and I could see again. My caretakers both looked barely out of their teens, but were professional and did a great job. The woman asked if I needed to go to the emergency room, and I said that I thought that I’d be okay from here. I saw how they’d rigged the water, in an IV bag, which they hung up and squirted from the tube into my eyes. She then explained to me how to wash the rest out of my hair and scalp at home, as to not get it into my face. I stepped out of the ambulance, with police report in hand, then my neighbors helped me carry my things up to my apartment door. After that, I got into my tub and laid on my back with my face underneath the faucet. It took a good half-hour to wash out, but when I got out, a few minutes later my right arm and hand started to burn. I gave it a blast, but there was still burning. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night. I think because my adrenaline had reached such levels and had gone into overdrive.

Now that I look back at it, it’s clear that the two intended to rob me and after they maced me, expected that I’d drop everything and writhe on the floor in pain as they made off with my goods. However, I didn’t. How the hell I didn’t, I don’t know, but it was almost as if a force field came over me in the seconds that I needed it. I’m thankful that they weren’t more violent and that the mace can wasn’t a gun.

Weirdly enough, I’d been jumpy that whole day, and kept having thoughts of dying on my birthday. Not that I would die, but the thought of wouldn’t it be weird if that happened, kind of thing. I’m glad I didn’t.

And the even stranger part is that I’m not even angry. Again, I think that comes from having “beaten them,” if that makes sense. Yes, they hurt me and put me in intense pain, but I didn’t become helpless at their actions, nor did I do what they were hoping for. The tides were not in their favor that night, and as a result, they got nothing but a dumbfounded look on both their faces as I sarcastically said, “Oh, thank you very much.”
Also, these two will eventually get caught, because it was obvious by his comment that they’d done this before. Normal people don’t have concerns that their mace can is “getting low.” Trust me, it wasn’t low.

Another positive thing was the wonderful response from everyone who came to my aid. From the MICA student who acted swiftly and didn’t panic, to the fire department, police, paramedics and neighbors. Everyone was so gentle, caring, and incredible. They all did themselves proud.

And because of that good outweighing the bad, I still had a happy birthday.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

My mom and coworkers just threw me a surprise birthday party at work. How cool is that? I had no idea, was feeling some birthday blahs, and needed that. What a bunch of sweeties.
Even David Simon, the creator of the show stopped his work to join in. I truly was surprised, and am still grinning.
I made it through another year.

Happy birthday to me.

A couple other things that happened on August 3rd.

1492 Columbus sets sail

From the Spanish port of Palos, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sets sail in command of three ships--the Santa Marýa, the Pinta, and the Niýa--on a journey to find a western sea route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia. (perhaps this is where I get my wandering, restless spirit)

1861 Last installment of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is published

The last entry of the serialized novel Great Expectations is published on this day in 1861. The book had been serialized in Dickens' literary circular, All the Year Round. The novel tells the story of young Pip, a poor orphan who comes to believe he will inherit a fortune.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I'm starting to believe that I have a sixth sense.

No, I don't see dead people, as far as I know. But I can sense things at times before they happen. That just not right feeling in the air that had me getting out of bed last night at 2:00am, turning off my airconditioner and fan, then cracking the window open so I could hear the outside. The hair on my arms stood up on end and for the first time, I was afraid in my apartment. I got back into bed, pulled the covers up to my chin in the dark, and relaxed my body a bit slightly having convinced myself that my jitters were the result of an overactive imagination.

And that's when the sound of a huge explosion ripped through the night.

I jumped, my cats, who were already as alert as I was, jumped. I got out of bed, kicked over the bowl of change on the floor but didn't slow my pace. The cats followed me into the bathroom where I turned on the light. The dog in the apartment above me was going nuts, running back and forth. I walked out, back to the bedroom and heard the helicopter buzzing above, then peeked out the window and saw the bright light casing the buildings across from me and the alley. I walked to the kitchen, which looks out to the street, and saw the reflections of blue and white lights on the windows across from me.

I got dressed, pulling on a white T-shirt and jeans. I was scared, so I didn't care that I didn't have on a bra. I searched for my keys, then walked outside.

One patrol car was blocking the intersection, and two guys who had been roused from their beds like I was were questioning him. I walked over, and the cop said there was a bomb threat at the armory, which is a mammoth building a few blocks from me. He had not heard the explosion, so didn't have an answer. "It's not even my district," he said, "I was just told to block off traffic."

I went back upstairs, then was restless for an answer. I left my apartment again, walking aimlessly around my neighborhood and stopped to talk to people who were outside because of the noise. No one had any answers, no clues at what the explosion was were visible, and I realized that being outside at this time of night was silly. I walked back to my apartment and went to bed. I dreamt I was shoveling cocaine out of the ground and encasing it in cement molds so that when the mafia came back, they couldn't sell any of it.

This morning, I learned that someone had planted two pipe bombs outside the armory, and the explosion I heard was the police safely detonating the bombs.

Monday, July 26, 2004

I've once again gone longer than desired between postings. It isn't because my job has interfered with my blog, but rather that my life has become infinitely void of the chance encounters, or fun and absurd happenings since I've moved to Baltimore, and it leaves me with not much to report. Though I have a neat job, my personal life is in limbo. On many fronts. And, because of the confidentiality of my job, there isn't much that I can write about on the blog.

It's strange to be somewhere in your own country where you feel like a foreigner. And, where you look at others as if they are foreigners. I was thumbing through old photographs and marveled at the amount of people that I was surrounded by when in Los Angeles. Nights out, dinners, clubbing, and days at coffee shops. Girl's days out at the salon or spa, girls and boys days out at the beach, and even sailing. Sitting on my Beverly Hills corner with my hunks whom I'd met there and giggling with them as they talked about their escapades. I made friends with ease in that town. And I'm still in touch and care about many of them. In a way, I never left them. When I came back this year, many of them came up and greeted me on the street when I visited my coffee shop. Even my coffee shop acquaintances remembered me and noticed I'd been gone, and walked up and gave me hugs. That felt really good.

As I type, the creator of the show is sitting across from me putting the final touches on episode seven of the show. As he types on his laptop, he seems oblivious to the world around him, and I wonder if the hole has formed in the computer screen for him as it does for me when I'm writing. The hole that leads to the world that you have ceased to create, but are now watching and recording. After he is finished, we will proof the script. Sometimes I think about the responsibility of that, that this script, and very high profile, public thing has been put into the hands of four kids, almost, to proof and make sure that it is ready to go to HBO. I mean, who are we to have this kind of responsibility? But we do it. Every week and a half, we do it.

The creator of the show (COS) asked me to do script coverage, meaning I'm the first person to read work submitted by writers who want a chance at writing for the show. I read it, grade it, and recommend if it passes or fails to go to the next level of consideration. It's funny sometimes when I think that I'm getting paid to read at work, and that the (COS)has enough confidence in my abilities that he asked me to do this. One of the submissions was an independently published book that Barnes and Noble doesn't carry, but I recognized the title off the bat. Several African-American women asked for it, and were surprised when I knew about the book. I guess I really am that lily-white. I'm reading that one first, and the others are scripts.

I've gotten to do a wide variety of things during this job, and that's been great. I've gotten to talk with Dennis Lehane, (Mystic River), Tony Kushner, (Angels in America), Anthony Walton, (Mississippi). I work alongside best selling authors and exist in a top-tier writer's world. Somehow, in this town where I am a foreigner, I was still able to find my way to this job through the "you can't...who do you think you are," mentality that exists here. Why? Because when the "I can't" dragon raises its scaly head, I stand ready to slay it with one swipe of the sword. Upon seeing my ferocity, it backs down and retreats to hunt for a more fallible victim. And there are so many of those here. Easy pick'ins.

On the contrary, my coworkers all have their personal projects and dreams they want to accomplish, and constantly amaze me at their diligence and dedication. All of us but one are not from here. And the one that is from here, an exceptionally mature, organized, and driven girl whom I have no doubt will realize her goals, had to wade through the same bullshit of "you can'ts," from friends and family that occurred even when she dared to go away to college. "Away," to her peers, was a college across town. Well dear detractors, she has, and not only that, she will. My other coworker just gave me a screenplay that he wrote that has gotten the attention of an agent, and I can't wait to read it. Another manages musicians, two of whom will be heard on the show. My goals aren't as obvious at work, but if I have a question about them, the right people are here to ask and I've certainly made connections to help them get realized. And, all are very nice and seemingly generous people who would take the time to answer. Not only that, make sure that we get the credit for what we do. The COS made sure that myself and the girl I just mentioned received acknowledgments in a forthcoming book where we wrote the glossary and meticulously fact checked, corrected and proofread the contents.

This job ends at the end of October, and I have no idea what I'm going to do next. However, I'm okay with that. It is the non-permanence that makes it a better experience as if it is a preparation for what I'm going to do next in the process of trying to return to Los Angeles. I'm taking things as they come, and know I'll end up somewhere. Maybe not where I want to right away, but I am richer for having had this experience.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

I just read an article that illustrated the times we live in. Apparently, on June 29th, 2004, a woman witnessed 14 men execute what appeared to be a dry run of a terrorist plot during her flight from Detroit to Los Angeles. The flight attendants were aware, as were the sky marshalls who were on board. Upon landing, the plane was met by all the authorities you can imagine, and she was questioned for four hours by the FBI.

Read her story.

Monday, July 12, 2004

I saw Spiderman 2 with my mom and nephew today. Excellent movie. Well done, well acted, good dialogue, and an actual story line. The effects were great, and there were some very funny moments. I highly, highly recommend it.

I hadn't seen the first Spiderman, so I had a friend send it to me on DVD. Before I went to this one, I was able to watch the first hour, which I also thought was very good, again for the same reasons. And, it introduced me to the story and how Spiderman became Spiderman. No, I didn't know.

Shut up.

Alec, my nephew is here from Atlanta, and has a non-stop mouth. He talks from morning until night, but didn't during the movie thankfully. I asked my mom if I was that much of a chatterer, and she said that I wasn't. I was grateful to hear so as I would have felt guilty for putting her through that. Other than the chatter box, he's a great little guy. Seven years old, funny, and very social. He'll talk to anyone, make friends immediately and doesn't shy away from adults or kids. I remember one time when my sister and Alec came to visit me in Los Angeles. I think he was around three years old, still young enough to be in a stroller for long walks. We were walking down Santa Monica Blvd., looking for somewhere to eat, and there was a bedraggled homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. The man looked in his mid thirties, but the streets and alcohol had aged him to look much older. He had long, dirty blonde hair, a scraggly beard, sun baked skin and wore clothes that were that "homeless" color, a dark grey brown, due to dirt and wear. As we passed, Alec leaned forward in his stroller and said, "Hi," to the man, who was sitting hunched over. At my nephew's greeting, he sat up straight, looked him in the eye and said very properly back, "Well hello, sir." It was priceless. And that's Alec. He's here until Thursday or Friday, I think, staying at my mom and Jack's house.

Yesterday, I rearranged my apartment a bit and it has a much better feel to it. I just love what I did. I hadn't planned on pushing around furniture, but the inspiration came over me. I've also painted and realize that I've learned a bit since attempting my last one. I'm either getting better, or it was a lucky shot. Either way, I feel like I've learned a lot and loosened my grip. Drawing or painting in color is a much different exercise. Instead of using darker shades to create form, you use shades of color. And that leaves an endless array of choices. Mostly, it's just observation, when looking at the subject and remembering to just paint what you see. It's easy to try to overcompensate though, and I've fallen into that trap many times. So, it feels good to think that I've actually learned something in these attempts.

I'm also working on my bedroom walls, as the landlord finally got me a ladder tall enough to reach my 12-foot-high ceilings. I find it interesting that I'm scraping away this highest layer, at a time where there has been a lot of change in my life. Reaching the top, if you will. I started the project a year ago, but couldn't continue due to lack of a ladder. I find that very metaphorical to what I've been going through lately. The asking for a leg up, but only when I'm asking so that I can continue to do the work myself, not in the hope that someone will finish what I started after it got too big, or too tall for me in this case. And, that I can continue because I've prepared. Because I rent, I refused to buy a ladder, as the building with its high ceilings should have one anyway. Not to mention, the free work they are getting from me. The personal satisfaction though, and process as I described, is why I'm doing it. And that, the landlord doesn't have to be privy to. As I work, I listen to the audio version of The Da Vinci Code. I'm not impressed with the narrator, but am glad that I am listening to this book instead of reading it.

I'm trying not to feel like I have to do too much during break, or concentrating on how many days of it that I have left. I'm just being, taking it little by little.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Our one week hiatus is next week, meaning nine whole days without work. It snuck up on me, so I haven't thought about how I'm going to spend it. Perhaps updating some things on this blog, definitely throwing more stuff away, and certainly painting, writing, or drawing.

It's official, I've begun looking for work in Los Angeles. It's going to take a while, perhaps a very long time, so this hiatus will also be spent sending my resume to potential employers to see the feedback that I get. Sort of like fishing in a stream to see if the lure I'm using is effective. I'm going to be very careful on selecting a job when that happens, and not just pick up and leave. I have so many things to consider. And because I'm a "sensitive," I will once again say that I must be very very careful.

One of the ways that I'm doing that is by tailoring my resume to reflect me, and not some cold fish. I did that with the resume that got the attention of the creator and executive producer of the show that I'm on now, and this job has worked out. In fact, my first week, a bunch of people from production came up and introduced themselves to me, saying, "we wanted to meet the person who had the guts to send a resume like that out," also mentioning that it was well done and made them laugh. Apparently, it had been passed around and enjoyed by many people.

I used to worry so much about my resume and if it said the right things. There are books written on the subject, many that I sold to customers when I worked at Barnes and Noble. I used to work as an editorial producer at CareerPath.com, now Careerbuilder.com, so I know my shit when it comes to resumes and job searching. Also, if it isn't obvious by now to those who read this blog, I have a passion for path finding.

So, when I looked at my resume and realized that it said nothing about me, I changed it to best represent me in my absence. I make light of my experience, showing that I did my job effectively, but also had a good time. The humor is not overpowering, but subtle. And, not "all over" the resume. It peeks out in places, keeping the reader interested and looking for more. Some people will appreciate the unconventional resume, others will not. I don't want to work for those who don't, and therefore it will save me the time and stress of a job interview. There is nothing worse than going on a job interview knowing from your first step inside the door that the place isn't for you. Usually, when the place is too freezing, drably decorated with employees crated in cubicles, who are all too happy that their fabric-coated half walls separate them from having to look at another human being, that's a good sign that I don't belong there.

When I walk through a workplace, I look at so many things. Being a sensitive, you can't help it. I look at clothes, desk decorations, lighting, listen to what radio stations are playing, decor, and the receptionist. Are they hip, or someone who has fallen victim to secretary spread so much that their ample ass is permanently embossed with the Herman Miller Aeron logo? Do I walk through a cloud of cheap cologne or perfume with every desk that I pass? Does the person who is interviewing me measure up or remind me of the snarky school librarian? Does the place have life, and flow? At this point in my life, when I go to a job interview, I'm interviewing them. And that's what my resume does. If they don't have a sense of humor, it weeds them out.

The job that I have now was the first time that I'd sent out the resume, and it was successful. While I'd like to think that my genius was so apparent that the first person who saw it grabbed me up to work for them for fear of losing me, I know it isn't. The timing was right, and that won't be the case in all openings. It's going to be a long trek, but one that I'm willing to make.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Two weeks ago, we had a big party at our soundstage to benefit the Ella Thompson Fund, a charity that the creator of our show supports. It was a charity auction, and I donated an X-Files episode script that was autographed by Chris Carter as well as the DVD set of the 2nd season, from which that episode came. I already had the script, in fact had three of them from different episodes, and bought the DVD set to donate to the charity. I auctioned one script on eBay, donated this one, and have one left now. I'm not sure what to do with it. Keep it, or sell it.

I pulled out one of my ball gowns from Los Angeles to wear to the event. It's a timeless classic so still very much in style. No, not a dull, safe, simple black dress, but my gowns resemble Titanic wear, full length sheer beaded mesh over shimmery fabric, along with a beaded, sheer mesh shawl. They cost me a fortune, but it's been worth every penny. I could wear any of my gowns to the Oscars and feel completely dressed and in style for the occasion. When I buy gowns, I tend to dress on the elegant rather than trendy side, and my gowns are timeless, certainly not boring, and oh so feminine and sexy.

I wondered what it would be like going to a party like this in Baltimore. I'll say it was more sedated, people clumped more and mingled less. And yes, it was less glamorous. I found myself half there and half not, as I wasn't really very close with anyone yet, having just started the job a couple of months ago and only a couple people from my department were there. The sense of fun that I usually feel at such events was missing, perhaps because of the timing, but I don't think so. Ever since I've moved to Baltimore, I've felt completely disconnected from the place and people. I simply don't like it here. And, it's getting worse, not better. My eyes are on getting out of here, not on being here, and once I get into that mode, it's hard to get out. It will take a while, due to financial constraints, but the goal is there. I'm trying to focus on the "here," as best as I can for now, because it's not like I can just pick up and move.

I'd met some of the cast before, and met more of them that night. As the party wound down, Dominic West came over and sat with me and another Anne, (though her name is spelled without an e), and we all chatted a bit. Though his character is from Baltimore, he's British, and it was weird to hear his accent matched with his face. He was a bit hyper and funny, asking me about the research that I did for the show and saying he enrolled in a pottery class. I wasn't sure if he was kidding or not. I don't think he was.

In the middle of it, a woman plopped herself on his lap and he handled it really well. She had bid and won several items, including a package of things that his character would like. So, she earned a sit in his lap.

My mom and I were supposed to go to this together, but she opted out since it was right after grandmother. I was half in the mood to go, but thought that it would be good for me to get out. Like I said, half there and half not. Wondering how I was there in the first place and feeling completely ungrateful about it.

As I said, I did get "done up" for the event, as I always do. I love dressing up, even though I felt completely out of place driving through very unglamorous Baltimore in my unglamorous tree-dented Honda on the way there. The last time I put on that dress, I was driving through Los Angeles in my Audi TT Roadster to a very swank party in Beverly Hills. I was glad to have my Honda though, as I went to an after party at the first assistant director's house that was in a questionable neighborhood. The cast came along, and there we all were again. The cast and some of the crew of "The Wire" partying it up in a renovated rowhouse decorated with Ikea furniture. Again, I almost didn't go to the party, even though I was strongly encouraged by my coworkers. I just wasn't in the mood. However, sometimes that's the best time to go, when you aren't feeling like it. So I went. I didn't drink, and wasn't my usual social self. I was once again, wondering how I got in the middle of this party. I wasn't in the mood to schmooze or flirt, or make myself known. I was just taking everything in, not being shy but not being overly in everyone's face. I'd forgotten to put ice in my drink, and despite a coworker telling me to reach in the sink full of ice with my hand, I just couldn't, knowing that I'd pet a dog on the way from my car to the party. Dominic West scooped his cup in the ice in front of me, and without asking, I took his cup from him and poured his ice into my drink. "Would you like some more?" he asked, amused and a little taken aback. I said yes and he filled it up. It was pretty funny. Being a girl in a gown, sometimes you can get away with such things.

I stayed around for about an hour and a half, then decided to call it a night. I was tired, my bed was calling. I walked to my car, out of place in the rundown area in more ways than one. I stepped in strappy heels over broken sidewalks as the bass from the party raged on behind me.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Tonight is the service for my grandmother.

I think that in the last two days, it's sunk in that she's gone and I'm not going to see her again. I have no grandparents left of my mother's side, and now she doesn't have any parents. I was driving near the assisted living home where grandmother lived, and a sense of comfort washed over me knowing that she was there with all her little funny idiosyncrasies and her room decorated with pictures. It was immediately replaced by emptiness in realizing that was not the case, and that in her room the grandmother I remember, not the one that replaced her for the last few weeks of her life, was not there. In fact, she wasn't anywhere.

As I stepped out of the house this morning, trying to remember where I parked, I ran into Jim the landlord. We chatted, then I saw a woman walking her two German shepherds. She said, "I guess I'll see you tonight," and at first I didn't know what she meant, then recognized her. It was Martha, the rector of the church who will be performing the ceremony. I pet the dogs and talked to her, saying that I didn't recognize her out of frock. The church is located one block over from me, walking distance, so there will be no driving. I'm leaving work early today at 3:00, to help out beforehand. I'm going to try to fit in a nap between times, as I am in great need of one. Afterward, we all meet at my mom's house, then she and her brother will fly the ashes to Newport, Arkansas to be buried or scattered alongside my grandfather. I'm not sure which.

This is the same cemetery that is right next door to my grandmother's old house in Newport. Across the street from her and the cemetery was a vast cornfield. When I would visit, I used to play in that graveyard. We'd walk around, counting the lambs on the tombstones. Lambs meant that the deceased had been a child, a concept that was completely foreign to me. I remember saying that I wanted a lamb, not understanding the full context of what that meant. Not only would we count the lambs, but I'd have to touch each one. We'd search for the oldest person, or the person who had lived the longest ago. Reading the epitaphs on them. So many things to see, as people were as varied in their deaths as they were their lives. The largest tombstone, which was really a mausoleum-like structure that I would climb on top of was always a favorite stop. On a lot of the headstones, I'd trace my fingers inside the names carved in stone and clear dirt, cobwebs, or grass out of them. Willow trees loomed around us, their hanging branches sweeping the grassy lawn as wind, or spirits moved through them. It was a peaceful land of adventure for a child. When my grandmother didn't come with me, I'd say, "I'm going to the cemetery," and off I'd go, running around the stones and trying to find something new. Fresh graves, flower displays, new headstones or ones that I hadn't noticed. Darting in and out of stones that dwarfed me, jumping over the ones that I could. Seeing if my arms could fit all the way around the pylons. Sometimes I'd put my face on them to see if they were still warm from the sun, even though it was dusk. Laying on big slabs of marble, facing the sky as birds or crop dusters flew overhead, smelling freshly cut grass. I was lost in the world of those who had departed, but very much alive among them.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The store visited me last night.

That's right, the store visited me. I did not visit it.

I'll start this by saying that I never answer my phone. In fact, the last few years, I've grown to hate the thing. I'm not one to spend hours talking on it, a stupid device that I must hold to my ear in order to chit chat about the inane. I find a lot of times that it's an invasion in my home, ringing when I'm not in the mood, so I screen calls that I get. If the ID reveals that it's someone that I actually want to talk to, then I will pick up and talk. Save for few, for a very short time.

And that brings me to last night, when the caller ID revealed a wireless caller whose number I did not recognize, WHY I picked it up without letting the machine screen it, I have no idea.

When I answered, the last person that I expected was on the line. A seventeen-year-old girl (soon to be eighteen) whom I worked with at Barnes and Noble. We had a friendly relationship, even though she had clashed with most everyone at the store except for me and a few others. However, I was wise enough to know to keep her at a distance. No bonding, siding with her on gossip, much less believing her gossip, no lunch outings, just friendly chatter. I can recognize a drama queen a mile off, but this girl went way beyond that to a bonafide trauma queen.

As you gain wisdom, you learn to identify certain people whom you know not to get personally involved with. People who live their lives in a reckless, selfish manner and want to have as many people on board as they can when the train wreck happens.

As an example, within the couple months of her working at the store, she borrowed a coworker's car to drive to lunch and wrecked it before she even got out of the parking lot. The owner was also a teenage girl and didn't understand that you never, ever, lend your car out to anyone. Cars are lethal weapons. The trauma queen didn't have a license, insurance, and singularly drove the car into two parked cars right in front of the cafe. After which, she said "no problem, no problem, just send me the bill," and of course, stiffed the girl for any repairs. Luckily for them, the guy who was the owner of the second car was a scam artist with no insurance, and after unsuccessfully trying to scam the girls into paying him a few thousand dollars for a piece of shit that was held together with rubber bands and bubble gum, he went away. His car suffered minor damage, as did the brand new truck. The guy who owned the truck decided to go easy, I think and fixed it himself. The girl's car however, was damaged.

Before that, when she was really new, she involved me in her Halloween costume. I thought she was way older than she was, and on good faith and wanting someone to feel welcome, I lent her my vest that I'd incorporated into my Trinity costume the year before. My Prada vest, that is, from the flush days. After the holiday had passed as well as a couple of weeks, no vest. I asked her to return it several times. No vest appeared. So, the night came when she needed a ride home, and I said, "Sure, and you can run into your house and grab my vest." To which she responded crestfallen, "oh yes," she said, pause, "when you lent it to me I didn't realize it was Prada," in a voice that suggested she was disappointed that I'd remembered she had it. I dropped her off at her way out of the way house, and waited as she ran into get the goods. It was the last time that I gave her a ride home, even when she asked. I live downtown, and it already took me long enough to get home.

While I worked with her, there was always a drama, trauma, or all of the above going on. And usually, she'd involved a few other people in it. I also wasn't sure when she was being honest. So last night when she called to tell me that she'd been kicked out of her apartment after being arrested for assaulting her roommates, was staying in a hotel room that she didn't have the money for and was worried about getting kicked out at 11:00pm, and could I please call the hotel desk and plead her case to stay over one more night, I was frustrated. I spoke to the woman, asking what was going on, and she told me that the trauma queen had promised payment that day and didn't show up. I knew this was a ruse to get me to either pay for her room, or pick her up. Neither of which I offered. She was way out in Towson, and again, I'm downtown. Not going to happen. For a good friend, I'd be there in a second. But this girl isn't a good friend, and shouldn't be spending sixty dollars a night at a hotel. Did I feel for her? Sure. Was I going to rescue her? No. I told her to speak to the hotel lady, who in turn said she'd speak to her supervisor. When the trauma queen called me back, the police were in her room. I asked to speak to one of the officers, and told them that I wasn't a good friend, that I was actually surprised to get this phone call, and that she was an ex-coworker of mine who wasn't of age and needed help. I told them she was on the outs with her mother who lived in town, so if they could guide her to somewhere to stay, or find her mother and take her home, that would be great.

She kept telling me to come down there and let them imprint my credit card, but that was sure as hell not going to happen. During all this, the cops were going through her things, asking her questions, and telling her she had to leave. I had no idea what I was supposed to do about it, and had a feeling that she was calling me because she'd worn all her friendships thin with favors and figured I was fresh. While I was at Barnes and Noble, she was always on her cell phone, so I know that she has friends in town. Finally, a third phone call later, she was out on the street with her stuff, saying she was going to throw herself into traffic. I knew she wasn't, and I said, "go to a place that's open all night, and find somewhere to get inside." I still wasn't convinced that I was her only option, but she was working it really well. About two hours had passed since the first phone call, and I was growing irritated with her. She constantly repeated, "I don't know what to do," which translated into "come solve this for me." I couldn't. Not only that, I wouldn't. The mess she had gotten into was way beyond me. She had to be at Barnes and Noble at 8:30 in the morning, and I told her to find a police department, that once when I locked myself out of my apartment, couldn't reach the landlord and didn't want to spend $150 on a locksmith, I spent the night in one. It was half true. At one point, she asked, "And you can't come here because?" "I can't," I said. I then said that my phone was beeping being low on batteries, and that I'd offered all the suggestions and help that I could, but couldn't do anything further.

That night, I got two more phone calls from her that I didn't answer. One telling me to call a hotel for her. Another telling me to call her.

I didn't.

The next morning, I called Barnes and Noble and spoke to another ex-coworker who told me that she was there and on time. I did want to make sure that she was okay. I had a feeling that she'd think of something, or someone. I also called later that day and spoke to a manager about what had gone on, so they were aware that one of their employees was in trouble. They knew all about it, were shocked that she'd called me, and said that the people at the store are really struggling with her. Apparently, she's imposed on several people, or at least attempted to. I wasn't surprised.

I was online with a couple of friends via IM when I was on the phone with her and explained what was going on. One who was in Los Angeles, the other right next door. Both were telling me that I was doing the right thing. I have a pretty good instinct about things, and my gut feeling told me that saying no in this instance was right. There is always more to the story, and I knew I wasn't getting the whole picture. Especially after talking to the hotel lady.

I feel for this girl, but know that most her hardships were brought on by her careless actions. I also feel that she's gotten into the habit of taking people for granted and being manipulative because so far it's worked. I watched her in action when I worked with her and the clusterfucks that it created for her and others. This wasn't an, "I'm on hard times" phone call. It was a "fix it for me" phone call.

I can only hope that my saying no will resonate somewhat. It was good practice for me, as well.