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.