Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happy New Year.

I must confess that I was a bit dishonest in my last post.

While I was yes, busy with holidays, it wasn't of the rushing around and buying gifts variety. I was preparing for my vacation to Mexico. I've been in Sayulita, Mexico for the past eight days and spent Christmas there.

First, let me make it clear that gaps of time between posts on my blog do not mean that I'm traveling. In fact, I've had times where I've not posted for longer times out of a lack of things to say or, just not wanting to say the things that I do have. I just didn't think it wise to advertise on my blog that I was out of my apartment for a length of time.

Are we still friends?

Luckily, I don't have to come right back to work since our show is on hiatus. We don’t go back until after New Year, which is just fine by me. I like to have a few days of down time after vacations, especially if they involve extensive travel. Sort of a slow way to get back into the daily life. And to be honest, after the mellow, positive time that I had, I didn't want to come back to focusing on subject matter that highlights the worst of humanity. I'll post about Mexico in parts, but I'll start with the basics. First, I've been to Mexico several times, but not to a town like this. I've done Cancun, which is gorgeous, and the border towns, but that's about it.

Sayulita is a gorgeous, sleepy surfing town in the Nayarit province, just north of Puerto Vallarta. It's on the Pacific side on Mexico, and is the kind of town where you actually get to know the locals, can walk everywhere, and everyone on the street says "Hola." A few cars and motorbikes, ATV's, foot, and horses are the transportation of choice. My sister and I were walking down the cobblestone roads and a Mexican woman on horseback ran past. My sister looked at me and said, "You don't see that every day." That's what's so great about the place.

I picked up a lot of Spanish while I was there even though many of the locals speak some English from dealing with us Gringos. I've never taken Spanish, but picked up some in Los Angeles due to the large Spanish speaking population there. In Sayulita, you go to local marts and stores and therefore aren't shielded from the people by a big hotel and those who work there. In Sayulita, you shop where the locals do. The town of 3500 is varied in its foray into modern conveniences. It doesn't have an ATM, but little internet cafes, once again, run by locals, are sprouting up and plenty of little restaurants. Sure, I could have posted from there, but that would have been telling, wouldn't it?

Right on the beach there is a restaurant with a fancier atmosphere, but the food everywhere is excellent. We ate at one place literally run out of the family's house. We ate on a large front porch while a cook made our dinner in an outdoor kitchen. When my mom had to use the restroom, our teenage waiter walked her through the house, including the living room where grandmother was tending to the kids, then out the back door, through a yard, past the hanging laundry and a mattress leaning against a wall to reach the banu. As we ate, three young girls played with Barbies behind us. Along with the charming atmosphere, the food was outstanding. While Sayulita is on the cusp of being discovered outside the surfing circles, it should be safe from exploitation is since it is hard to get water to the town. It is located in a remote mountainous area right on the beach, so the poolside resort sitting, golf playing crowds who are fans of sprawling hotels need not stop by. The surfers however, are in abundance. I met many American ones who came down with their parents and never left, but the majority of them are Mexican locals who work during the day to support their surfing. There were some great surfers who were really fun to watch. Most all of them compete and are sponsored.

In the mornings, I awoke to the calls of roosters and at night I had to check my bed for scorpions before sticking my feet under the covers. Whenever putting on clothes, I had to shake them out to make sure none of the little creatures had snuck in there. Those were the instructions left by the homeowners, and I was sure to follow them. Reese, my friend who worked for Club Med in Mexico, had an experience involving his wet suit and scorpions that have forever implanted the importance of checking for the little buggers into my brain.

This trip was the first family vacation that I’ve been on in a long time. My sister and nephew flew in from Atlanta to Puerto Vallarta, and my mom, Jack and I took a recently added Mexicana flight from Baltimore to Mexico City, and from there we took a flight to Puerto Vallarta. I almost didn't get out of the country, and after getting up at the crack of ass in pitch dark, had to take a cab back to my apartment to get the paperwork that Mexicana required for me to fly into Mexico. I had an expired passport and current driver's license, which on several websites, including US government sites were said to be sufficient for travel into Mexico. Neither my mom nor I could find my birth certificate which is why I checked and double checked the requirements. When the representative at Mexicana dropped the bombshell, I became silent. It’s a defense mechanism of mine that can look like despair, but I’m mostly letting it sink in and planning my next action. After talk of me traveling the next day, I decided to chance taking a cab to get my voter registration card and make it back to the airport in time. I jumped back into a cab and told the driver that it needed to be a round trip and fast. After some fantastic driving from my cab driver, an older Asian man who spoke little English and drove like a NASCAR driver, I raced up to my apartment, found the extra paperwork, and raced back to the waiting cab. As we pulled off, the driver saw a guy coming out of a rowhouse a few doors down from me who was dragging a suitcase. We stopped, asked him where he was going and he said to BWI. I opened the door and said, "So are we, get in."

He did.

Turns out he was also going to Mexico, but to Cancun where his aunt has a house. He was a MICA student named Curtis who hadn't called a cab. Karma shined on him that day, and we happened by. I didn't mind, because we had made such good time and five minutes was not going to make me miss my plane. I couldn't do anything about making the flight, so I just relaxed and talked with Curtis about design school. He was a graphic design major, which was what I had majored in at Parsons, and so much that he spoke of sounded so familiar. He lives three buildings from me and I'm sure I'll see him around. We dropped him off first, and then the cab driver dropped me off. I gave him a huge tip and ran toward the Mexicana counter. The women who had helped me brightened when they saw me and said they were waiting for me. They checked me through, and then radioed the gate to tell them that I was coming. I asked the other travelers if I could go ahead of them in security, and they acquiesced. I’ve done the same thing for people in the past, and was glad to get the favor returned. When I ran down toward the gate, the flight was boarding. My mom and Jack sighed in relief as I ran toward them. I had made it. All of us had decided not to check luggage which weighed heavily in my favor.

Despite the predawn adrenaline rush, I slept most of the flight to Mexico City. I was sitting in a different spot than my mom and Jack, something I highly recommend to families without young kids traveling together. It just gives you time apart before, and then on the way back, time apart after. In Mexico City, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop while going through customs but it didn't.

I was in.

Little did we know, the adventure had just begun. When we arrived at the house that we had rented, called Casa Alegre, we learned that though it had a breathtaking view of the ocean, it had not been tended to and had a broken water line among other problems, one being a strong mildew smell. After eating dinner and meeting my first Mexican surfer Regis, (pronounced RayHees) I walked to a corner store and bought air freshener and scented candles. It helped a little bit, but the smell was pervasive and thick. The water was such a problem that we dubbed the house "Casa No Agua." After two days with minimal water and failed attempts to fix it, "No agua en la lĂ­nea," we were told by Miguel, the handyman, the property management group moved us to a nicer house with a gorgeous lawn, nestled into the hills on the other side of town. The new house, called "Casa Angel" was a major improvement and steps from the ocean as are most of the places there. It had a beautiful mosaic of an angel on the wall. Our moods shifted dramatically, knowing that we could shower and use the toilet. It was what the first one should have been, according to expectations and the price charged. This house was beautiful, charming, pristine, and had water to spare. When I mention water, this is simply bathing and plumbing water, not drinking water. Everyone, even the locals drink purified water that is delivered by truck. All the restaurants as well as the ice packagers use it to avoid sickness.

On our second night there while still at Casa No Agua, my sister and I went walking around the plaza, (center of town) and were hit on by some cute 19-year-old American boys. That cracked me up, because my sister and I are far from being 19. One of them was a smooth talker, that's for sure. We were soon approached by the two teenage girls they had ditched for us, and the group of us chatted. I whispered to Joan that we'd found the teenage hangout, and we giggled. To our left, a bunch of young Mexican kids were setting off fireworks and Joan remarked that fireworks made her nervous. I agreed, saying that especially when they were in the hands of kids at that age, most of whom were around ten years old and don’t know the dangers of them. Soon, we were approached by one of the teenage girl's parents and were chatting when I felt something hit my left side at waist level. I thought it was a large insect or leaf falling, so I looked down. To my shock, it was a lit firework stuck in my shawl and shirt, spinning, buzzing loudly and changing colors. I jumped and flicked it away, but the damage had been done. I was burned on my side. My sister exploded into a rage toward the group of kids who had thrown it, screaming at them in English and then repeating "Ojos!" Eyes. They looked at her in fear, but to their credit they didn't run off. I was still in shock and pulled up my shirt to see two fresh burns that had blackened my skin. The firework had burned my shawl and through my shirt. The silk shawl was a gift from Joan from Thailand, and could have easily caught fire had I not acted quickly.

The kids stood there in shock, and I calmly walked over to them to show them my burns. The group quickly gave up the culprit, fingers pointing to a chubby cherub-faced boy who looked terrified. Every time I looked their way, those brown little arms shot up, pointing at him accusingly. The lone girl who was with them scolded the boy in Spanish and a Mexican woman walked over to see what was going on. She was calm, asking them questions in Spanish and the kids explained to her as the little boy stood there speechless. I held up my burnt shawl and showed the holes in my shirt as my sister pointed to them. Point made, we walked away, me still looking at my wound as it was starting to smart. The two parents asked me if I was okay, and we were talking when the little boy approached me and said, "Yo me disculpo." "I'm sorry." At first I didn't understand, and then someone translated. I put my arm around him and said, "It's okay, sweetheart, I know you didn't mean it," and gave him a little squeeze. I know he didn't understand my English, but he could tell that he was forgiven. We said, "peligroso," which means dangerous and smiled. He did too. Truth is, though at first we thought he threw it at me, I'm pretty sure that he didn't mean to do it. I think he lit it and it got away from him as it was a projectile firework. Also, the lesson would sink in more profoundly if I was nice in accepting his apology, rather than mean. We've all been kids, and I think he truly was sorry. That was good enough for me.

On our next to the last day in town, we came back from breakfast to see a note on the gate asking us if we wouldn't mind moving one more time since the house had been reserved starting that day. It was just a "little" oversight by the management company. So, they moved us again, back to the other side of town to a cliff hanging house that overlooked the ocean. Once again, a breathtaking view and a first rate place. In all places, we could hear the waves crashing against the shore.

Instead of being irritated, I looked at it as a way to see the town from different perspectives. The houses for rent are very nice, so Casa No Agua was sort of an anomaly. The property management company wasn't aware that it had fallen into such disrepair and was very displeased with the owner who was an American who lived in the States. And, we got two nights free out of it. However, that very owner just sold it for half a million dollars. The new owner is going to demolish the house and build a three story behemoth that he plans to rent out. Perhaps we were the last to stay in Casa No Agua.

There is so much more to my trip than the musical houses, but I will save that for later.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

My lack of posting is due to the wind up before the holidays. So much to do, so little time. Things sneak up on you when you aren't looking.

I went to New York City last weekend and had a cold but fun time. Every time that I go back, I ask myself if I could ever live there again. I don't know. Right now, it would have to be one hell of a deal. And, I'm not really looking for one hell of a deal to be honest.

We went on the bus trip that we went on last year, and walked around SoHo, shopped, wore our shoes out and spent some money. I'd been a few times since then, and was acclimated to the pace and new skyline. On that post, linked above, about visiting Ground Zero on that trip, I've posted a picture of me on the perimeter. I made it as big as I could without offsetting the type too much, so that the background is visible.

We are expecting snow tonight, but I'll believe it when I see it. We got an inch last week, and it was beautiful outside my office window. Right now, it is bitterly cold outside. I'm comfortable by my space heater, but bed is calling.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's Tuesday and I'm pausing work to eat my lunch, sushi courtesy of my company, listen to what Pandora has in store for me, and type a blog entry. Work isn't the best place to blog, as I'm in "work" mode, but hopefully the food and sounds will buffer that. There, I just slid off my shoes. Now we're talking.

As I said, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I drove down with my mom and Jack to their friends' house in Prince Frederick, Maryland. They are the same people who were gracious enough to host my mom's birthday party. I was glad to be a passenger because I could look at the gorgeous countryside and fall foliage. Occasionally, I'd catch glimpses of people enjoying the holiday on their vast acreage that country living provides. A kid that looked around twelve years old was doing dirt bike tricks on his homemade course, mini-hills and all, flying into the air in the crisp fall weather. I could tell just by looking at him that he was having one of those "it's good to be me, right here, right now" moments. I could practically feel the exhilaration he felt and smell the air that he did as he flew. I envied him, as it brought back memories of the freedom I felt when catching my own air on the neighbor's trampoline, flying high in the air, unencumbered for those few seconds. The trampoline stood on a hill that looked over a vast grassy field that spanned on both sides of a tree lined creek. When you flew, it was like you were flying stories up in the air, not feet. I was fearless, so I'd jump as high as I could, flipping in layouts and twists in the air, sometimes choosing to land on my back, or stomach, but mostly on my feet. I always hoped for that time that the gods would smile on me and I'd remain airborne and take off across that field like Superman.

Another family we passed stood outside frying a turkey. Two men, wearing protective gloves and aprons did the deed, standing in a tree filled yard and watching that fryer steam and spit. I could just imagine the women inside doing their bit and the delicious smell of that turkey. Another vignette was a brown Labrador carrying a very large branch in his mouth, looking down a sloped hill at an unseen playmate.

We arrived at Patty and George's house, who have a great restored old house with a barn in the backyard. The house is decorated with wonderful antique furniture and feels warm and welcoming when you walk in, rooted in history like the people that live there. Patty's family goes back several hundred years in the region and in Massachusetts, and the family name can be seen on roads and maps. They have another property in Ipswich, MA, and of course the beautiful rowhome across from my mom and Jack. They are sweetest, funniest people, and Patty's son who is my age and lives in a house across the street from them, joined us for dinner. It was a perfect time, and a perfect setting for Thanksgiving. The house is just one of those that looks like the ones in old Christmas tales. Homey, happy, warm, and traditional.

Before dinner, George and I went treasure hunting in the woods. Last time I was there, he told me about the old cars that were dumped in the woods. Back in the day, and I mean way back, people drove their cars in the woods and left them there. Several decades later, they remain. George, who is British, brilliant, interesting, and hilarious offered to show me where they were. We put our coats back on and off we went into the woods, which is a large part of their property. We navigated through thorned vines, branches, fallen trees and ankle deep leaves to find the lost treasures. One was a Ford Fairlane, the other a Studebaker, a Plymouth Fury, and a convertible, 1950's chrome grinning up at us from their leafy sodden beds. From feet away they were hard to see, and scattered around the forest. Most of the exteriors had turned to rust, but several parts were in really good condition. A chrome fin there, a bumper on another one. The model name in chrome proudly displayed on the hood, some interiors, and deflated white wall tires. Steering columns, and even a speedometer that read 15,558. We dug around and George pointed out and identified the rusted innards. One of them was one of the first cars to get power steering, dating it in the early 1950's.

I found an old Listerine bottle with the brand embossed in the glass. I kept it, as it was very cool. We made our way back after our trip through automobile history and my mom had a cosmopolitan waiting for me. We gathered in the kitchen until dinner was ready, then moved to the living room where we ate, talked, laughed, learned, and most important, shared.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I'll have more to write about my wonderful day today, but this one is just for you readers.

Thank you so much for all your kind letters through the years and for the sharing of your lives with me simply because I have a public blog. It is truly humbling. I'm just an imperfect person who happens to write about things. To think that is worthy of the letters that I've gotten absolutely floors me.

If I haven't written you back, it isn't because I haven't read your email or take it with a grain of salt. It's because I simply haven't gotten to you and a simple "thanks for writing" isn't enough for me to send to someone who took the step to offer your support, advice, and gift of your wisdom and experience to a complete stranger. Like so many things, wanting to write a worthy response freezes me into inaction or countless times of deleting email that I begin. Funny, because so many of you have told me you've done the same thing when writing to me. I promise I'll not do that anymore if you do the same.

So, to all of you, and particularly those of you who write whom I haven't responded to yet, this is a thank you on this day of Thanksgiving.

*Clink*

That's the sound of my cosmopolitan against the monitor as I toast to you all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

For those of you who are traveling on Wednesday... Better you than me.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I joined my former Barnes and Noble coworkers at the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire midnight showing and had a great time. Before that, I joined my current coworkers at another benefit that we hold yearly for the Ella Thompson fund. Our actors work as bartenders and serve it up to the customers. The cover charge is ten dollars and all tips go to the fund. To add to the pot, there was a raffle. It was crowded, great fun, and I managed to get my customary cosmopolitan in, even though I was there for a relatively short time. Everyone was having a great time, lively chatter filled the room mixed with the low bass of the music, laughter, clinking glasses, shout outs, and bar stools being pushed across the floor. Anwan Glover, who plays Slim Charles on our show asked me if he could get my drink. I told him I was already helped, then giggled at the thought of the 6'5 Slim Charles making me a girlie drink. Instead, I had one of the regular bartenders make it and spared him the task.

We had a great turnout with the actors and it was just a fun, good-natured time, all while helping the charity. The actors all looked so cute behind the bar, for lack of a better word, but that just fits.

Afterward, it was wizards, witches and dragons. We got our seats early and it was good to chat and laugh with my old coworkers from the bookstore as we waited for midnight to pass and the lights to darken. The movie was great of course, with both funny and dark moments in it. It had been a long time since I read Goblet of Fire, so I didn't remember a lot of the plot points. It amazes me how the visual artists who work on that film so aptly interpret the scenery and visuals from the book. It's as if they took it out of what I imagined when I read the books. I attribute that to some great descriptions and storytelling by Ms. Rowling.

I got home at 3:30 in the morning and am sure to be feeling it very soon. It wasn't fun getting up this morning, and even less fun to step outside into the cold air. Winter weather took a while to get here, but I do think it's finally arrived. I'm not ready for it. Not at all.

Neither were the cats.

For the first time, they decided to forgo their shadowing of me and chirping and chattering at my ankles as I readied for work. Instead, they stayed huddled on the bed and looked at me like I was a complete asshole for getting out of that perfectly good warm spot. I didn't disagree with them. The first really cold morning is always a shock. Soon, we'll be back to our routine.

We have three work days next week and then two paid days off for Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to the break and having a few days to sleep in. I also meet with Jack's friend over that weekend about my personal projects. It should be very interesting and I hope to gain some insight into the steps that I need to take. Jack is going to accompany me, but as he said, it will be my show.

I'm ready to be the Master of Ceremonies.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Another beautiful weekend. I spent it catching up on things to do and putting some money where my mouth is about personal projects. I have a feeling that will go in ebbs and flows, but my work is sure to dictate that.

Yesterday, I saw the neighbor's children playing on the sidewalk in the fallen leaves and it brought back memories. The toddler sat in the pile while her five year old sister swept the pile higher and higher. I asked big sister if she was going to bury little sister, and she looked at me with a devilish grin and nodded. Mom went inside and then came back out with her camera. As little sister basked in her prison made of foliage, big sister swept and swept with her little broom. The pictures will be a classic childhood memory that so many of us have shared.

When I was growing up and heard my dad raking the lawn, I'd jump in the piles of leaves that he had heaped around the yard. I'd lay on my back and let him bury me, seeing the silhouette of the rake against the sky and my dad smiling as he dumped the rust, orange, brilliant yellow, and brown colored leaves on top of me. I then picked them up by armful and put them in the wheelbarrow, trailing my dad as he walked them to the street and dumped them. Back then, because the streets were wide and houses far enough apart, it was legal to burn the piles of leaves. I could ride my bike down the streets on a crisp fall day and see several piles of leaves smoldering. The rich smell of the burning leaves is something that I remember to this day and associate with fall. It was almost an unofficial fall offering, burning leaves and sending smoke to the sky. Remembering this has given me an idea. Perhaps I will collect some leaves and burn them in my fireplace, just to recreate that wonderful scent.

That, and have it as an offering, a symbol of change.

Last night, I did another clutter purge and found a statement from a grocery store where I shopped in Los Angeles, stating that one of my checks had bounced. It was from years ago, during the most dire time of the crash when managing my money was the last thing on my mind. It was embarrassing, because I was a regular customer at that store and had shopped there during my flush times. It was as if they were witnessing my demise or what I thought at that time was the reveal of my true self. I bring it up, because I have no idea why I kept that piece of paper. Probably, at the time I thought I needed it around to remind me of where I'd been, or punish myself for having been there in the first place. When I saw it last night, I knew at once there was no reason to hold on to anything physical from that time of my life. That is, the bad physical things from the dark times during 2001 and 2002.

While most of the clutter was going into a large garbage bag, that went into the fireplace. What a great feeling to see that notice twist and burn. I said softly as the printed letters were burnt into smoldering embers, "never again," and "fuck you."

I think I will look for other bad physical memories like that and burn them, then make my foliage smudge and burn that afterward to cleanse it with the memory of a good time. Therefore, cutting the threads of that spider web that holds me in its snare. There is no reason to have physical ties to "the bad," and I'm sure I'll be surprised and appalled to see what I've held on to because I didn't trust myself to remember on my own that I never want to fall that hard again.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Last night, I went to dinner with Jack at the Baltimore Museum of Art. I enjoyed the first meal in awhile where I felt that I had eaten way too much. However, it was well worth it because the food was good, as was the atmosphere. You can't beat eating among art and knowing that Monet's London paintings are hanging just one floor above you. To our left, three large groups ate and talked, all dressed well and happy. I asked the waiter what was going on, and he said that it was a rehearsal dinner. Jack and I spent some time trying to pick out the bride and groom to be. It added a positive energy that was infectious.

Anyway, we got into a wistful conversation about why I'm still dissatisfied with my accomplishments on the large scale. Oddly, I'd gotten into the same conversation with a coworker who is currently being coached by the creator of the show to be a writer, and has done some writing for the show already. We all have our measuring sticks to our accomplishments, I guess. Ironically, I've been enjoying watching the coaching he's been receiving and understand the logic of the things that he is given to do in the order that they are given. On his part, it's hard to be given just a little bit when you're among people who are doing what you want to do, whereas I see him in an incredible learning environment. He does too, but the wait is hard, which is understandable when you are ready to go for the whole thing and oh, so close.

Perhaps it is the change of seasons, but Jack and I had this same talk. He sees me as having incredible experience throughout my life and career, not to mention a top notch art education. He went through the people that I've met in my life and the things that I've done. And yes, I don't lose sight of that. I know, not many people were assistant to Mikhail Baryshnikov when they were nineteen years old. In fact, I may be the only one in the world. Few people have had BMW patent one of their ideas, even less who weren't car designers. I was just a researcher with a great fucking idea. Few have worked on a team building a concept 7-series BMW at all. I have so many other accomplishments like that, and while I understand this and am very proud of them, it's hard sometimes to look back and feel like I've flown under the radar for all that time. I'm ready to take a risk with my ideas, and not doing so has been the source of that frustration and dissatisfaction. Especially, watching others comfortably flying above me. I'm not talking about doing what they are doing, but I want to be flying on that level doing my own thing. It's not writing, as for some reason that comes easy to me. Not just the writing part, but putting my neck out there for work. I don't get nervous when I'm assigned writing jobs, and once again, I've done them for top entertainment companies. I just start going and fly comfortably with that flock at a high altitude. I forget it's for money, and just get into the assignment.

What I've been frustrated with is that my experience has been working under someone else, and those accomplishments are buried under their name or company. I'm an entrepreneur at heart, and an incredibly hard worker, but when it comes to my own ideas I forget how to get from one step to the next. Now, if someone were to ask me for advice on their own projects, I'm a great information source. However, when I get to my own projects, that resourcefulness turns into a stopping point. With my work on this show, it's the first time I've been credited by name on my contributions. Still, it's under someone else's creation. One, by the way, that I'm thrilled and proud to be a part of, but the latter thought comes up when holding up that measuring stick.

So, under the Monet and among the chatter, we got to talking about how to get me from one step to the next, and he came up with the idea of me talking to a very accomplished friend of his who has been through the steps that I want to go through. I'm ready for action and need to take that risk. This person is a Harvard graduate, but Jack, a Cornell graduate told me not to hold that against him. He told me he would call this person and arrange a lunch, so that I can finally work on getting some concrete answers. My ideas have been well received before or created in some way while I've sat on my ass working for other people. It's time I stamp my name to them and get them rolling. For one of them, I even created a bang-up presentation. Time to get printing on that color printer, I guess.

And about that measuring stick, I don't use it to measure myself against other people. I use it as a tool to ask me how I'm doing to measure myself against my own potential. Others around me who are operating at their best are a reminder for me to ask myself every now and then what I'm doing to achieve that.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I'm writing slightly hungover at work, taking a break for a few minutes. The hangover is mostly in the form of a little queasiness and a slight headache, but otherwise I'm ok. I am however, fighting off an overwhelming desire to fall asleep at my desk.

We hosted a benefit for Katrina victims and the Associated Black Charities last night that featured three bands out of New Orleans. The Iguanas, The Rebirth Brass Band, and The Subdudes. It was great fun, and always fun to see your coworkers out and well...not working. Anyone could attend for $50 a ticket, and the event was hosted by Wendell Pierce, who plays Bunk on our show. Lots of the cast showed up and a good time was had by all. I hadn't heard a lot of New Orleans inspired music and certainly not seen it live, so it was a new experience for me. All new sounds, which for me meant new sights as well.

When I first arrived at the club, I went straight to the bar and ordered, pop quiz folks... Okay, time is up. For those of you who guessed a Cosmopolitan, you get a gold star. Those of you who guessed anything else, see me after class as you will be scraping gum off the bottom of the desks. One of my coworkers sidled up to the bar beside me and ordered the same, then paid for both of us. The guy is Greek, an extraordinarily positive person and makes you smile when he enters the room. That is a gift. Even if you've never met him, he greets you like an old friend. The fact that he can proudly drink a Cosmopolitan makes me like him all the more.

All the crew who could attend, had their tickets paid for by the creator of the show, so we didn't get in for free. I was prepared to pay for my ticket, being that it was a benefit but it was taken care of. Very nice of him. At the end of the night, I ended up paying for only one of my own drinks, the second one was also bought by a coworker. Everyone was feeling festive and letting off steam, myself included.

The great part was the party. People were letting loose, bodies jiving to the music, blurs of movement on the dance floor and silhouettes against the lighted stage. An arm lifted over a head, a hat bobbing up and down, feet stamping to the rhythm in an odd but infectious New Orleans style goose step. I let the music pelt my body, absorbing the beats and deep vibrations of the bass; it found the alcohol and picked it up, twirling it around in a delirious dance.

I had a great time. And when I got home, slept very, very well.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I had to fight off a bad case of melancholy today. And I mean bad. I had a weird dream that started it off, coupled with the dreary weather and short days, not to mention feeling like a complete obsolete loser with a big floating neon sign advertising such over my head. And of course, genetics. I mostly kept to myself and did work that fit my mood to keep my eyes cast down and mind busy. Occasionally, a wave of sadness would hit me, at one time so much that I wiped a few tears from my face. These were light tears, nothing that was obvious. Just the occasional finger swipe under the eye and wipe on the jeans kind of tears. Even if I did get busted, allergies are always a good excuse.

Finally, one of my coworkers asked me if something was wrong. At that point, the worst had passed so I was honest. I said that I just had a bad case of the blues that I couldn't shake, and that I was sorry for wearing my heart on my sleeve. I said I was trying to hide it but must not be doing a very good job. She was so sweet, and said that she noticed how quiet I was, that I'm usually full of things to say. Interesting how a subtle change such as quietness can alert people that you aren't yourself. Even in a place of work where quiet is completely acceptable, from me, it wasn't. And my office noise was missed.

I soon found out that I wasn't the only one experiencing melancholy Monday. My mom had a bad case, as did the fiance of the girl at work who asked me if I was okay. I'm still feeling it a bit and it's made me restless at almost 11pm. When I've experienced a day of sadness, the last thing that I want to do is go to bed for fear of that few minutes where I might feel worse. Instead, I'm going to have a Cosmopolitan. Sounds like a perfect remedy to me. My martini glass is already in the freezer. Now, if I only had a warm pan of brownies to go with it. Oh well, the warm cat in my lap will have to do for comfort.

I'm looking at the damage from hurricane Wilma on the news. Millions of people had a much worse day than I did. Still, my day is the only one that I experienced. We're going to get the remnants of the storm tomorrow with strong gusts and lots of wind. It's going to clash with a "noreaster" storm coming south which will push it toward us.

I ran into the coffee shop guy again and could tell that he was glad to see me there and wanted to talk. There's something about it that just makes me uncomfortable, and 75% of my melancholy today was that I've failed to finish the things that I'm working on. So, when this distraction walked in the door I was annoyed. I didn't want to have a conversation so I avoided eye contact for as long as possible, then said hello and kept things light. The place was packed, but of course the table next to me opened up and he took a seat, positioning himself to face me full on with his body. Clearly he was indicating with his body language that he wanted to interact with me, but I kept to my laptop.

*sips Cosmo*

Then, a miracle. A girl asked to share his table with him, and another girl asked me if she could share mine. Now, I was double shielded, and settled back into my great vibe that I was feeling before the flux of discomfort. I was kicking ass, and got up to buy a snack pack, and he got in line right behind me. The line was long, and he again asked how I was. I kept the conversation to me, fearing that even a "how have you been" would open the door wide for an update on the situation he was in. I don't want to become that stranger he confides in. And yes, cousin Lynne, I did get your email and I'm being very careful. I know most of the employees there and am conscious of who is behind me when I leave the place.

I don't like to see anyone hurting, but some things are best kept to a trusted friend, a therapist, or priest, all of which I am not to this person. And now that I am working so much, I feel I get so little time to work on my own projects that unless the distraction looks like that cute Croatian doctor on ER, I don't want to be interrupted.

Okay, now I'm feeling like I can edge toward bed. It's raining steadily and I'm going to crack the window so I can hear nature's ambiance. On Friday, after nearly falling asleep at my desk twice, I went to sleep as soon as I got home, luckily around 7:00pm, and save for one half hour that I was awake at 5am, slept until 12:30 the next day. I guess I needed it.

The movie came back to film their second night last week, but I will write about that later. Funny to see Nicole Kidman walking around in front of my apartment building. They filmed until at least 5:30am, and it was comforting in a way. My windows were open and when I awoke I heard them at work, a huge production and so many people outside my house while I laid comfortably in bed.

Now, that same bed awaits. Thanks to the simple gift of alcohol, the edge is gone. Despite the sadness of the day, I fear not the night.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I now live in a swank neighborhood in Washington, DC.

Well, for two nights. The movie crew for The Untitled Nicole Kidman Project, a.k.a., The Visiting, previously known as Invasion, has changed our street into Washington, DC, street signs and all. The scenes they are filming are supposed to be taking place Halloween night, so the decorations are over the top and very well done. One house has giant spiders all over one side, another has lighted ghosts dangling like lanterns along a leaf covered fence.

I keep hearing, "Action," and "Cut" and walkies beeping and crackling, mechanical lifts heaving and sighing, and voices of the production crew. Earlier, neighbors told me that Nicole Kidman was walking up and down the street for a scene, right in front of our places. I was at work for that one, as it was shot earlier. My mom and I saw Nicole when they were here a couple weeks ago. Right now, she's shooting another scene just half a block down. These are all exterior shots and it is quite a spectacle. Almost surreal.

They are going to be filming until late, or shall I say early in the morning.

Better them than me.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A week between postings again.

Work has been frenetic, with us staying on Monday until midnight. I don't mind those nights, but don't want to have them in a row. The next night was 8:30 or so, but I got a free dinner out of it through the second meal clause. If we work so many hours, we get dinner. As soon as the food came, we were sent home. So, I enjoyed my sushi in front of the television while two envious cats sat on either side of me.

Thankfully, Wednesday was early and I could go home and watch Lost. Such a great show, and Sawyer's delivery of the line, "Bitch," coupled with great editing cracked us all up. Those of you who watch the show will know the scene to which I refer.

Speaking of lost...

This weekend at my coffee shop, one of the regulars there confessed something to me that I'm not sure he should have. I've had a couple light conversations with him before, so he wasn't a complete stranger. He had been in the shop a while when he came over to my table and asked if he could sit down. We chatted, and a few minutes into it, I felt that he was struggling with wanting to tell me something. Finally, it came out, and I'll just say that it involved legal trouble and leave it at that. He left that up for me to guess as well. He mentioned he was charged, but didn't want to tell me with what for fear of what I might think. I didn't press him on it.

I don't know if he told me because I was a stranger, and I'll go so far as to say a female stranger, but the odd part was that he sought me out to talk about it. We weren't sitting next to each other and happened to start up a conversation. I was writing, and he walked across the room and asked if he could sit down. I've seen him there before many times where we just kept to ourselves and wrote on our laptops. The times we have talked, it's been because we were sharing a large table in order to have access to the outlet, and the other table near the outlet is taken.

So, I listened, and offered advice. It was vanilla advice, such as the surface level things of retaining an attorney and knowing your rights. I added, speaking from experience, that it's no fun for the plaintiff either. I didn't tell him things were going to be ok, because I have no idea what he did. It was enough for the police to seek him out and place him under arrest, that much he told me. I don't know what he wanted coming to me like that and bearing his soul. I didn't offer the "any time that you want to talk, I'm here" thing, because I'm not comfortable with that. I can't help but think that the crime is against a woman and that makes me nervous. The whole thing rang of that, and my instincts are usually pretty good.

Another uncomfortable situation came to me today at work. Someone that I don't know very well decided to stop by the office because he wanted to impress some people whom he'd just met, that he had an "in" with our show. I have nothing against this person, but dropping by unannounced was completely inappropriate and damn inconsiderate, especially on a Friday. And, he doesn't have an "in" with our show. He's actually pissed off a few people in the office by calling up and lying about things to try to get an interview with the producers.

I came out to greet him and saw that he had a couple with him. The girl, who was Japanese, was a comedienne who wanted to be an actress. The couple was from Los Angeles, and I certainly wasn't upset at them since they didn't know the situation. And that, was that their newfound friend was playing up his connections to be more than what they were. Though I didn't show it, I was upset that this person thought he could just drop by and use me as a tool for whatever in God's name he was trying to pull on these people. Again, I have to be vague, and thankfully someone was there whom I asked to intercept and explain the actor submission policy. I did that because I wanted to send a message that in his case, I wasn't the person to contact about such things. Also, to place a barrier between us in case he wants to try this again.

The woman had her headshot with her and we took it to send to our casting director. And, as a courtesy to these people we will indeed send it. However, they are no further ahead than if they had just sent it in themselves. This person knows someone who worked on the show last year and wasn't asked to come back. That person knows the policy so I don't know why it wasn't done that way. Anyway, I was irritated by the whole thing because it just reeked of dishonesty. Plus, our building has a security intercom and he probably used my name to get in. That again irritates me.

I know everyone has dreams and I'm all about helping people if I'm in a position to do so. However, it's how one decides to approach those dreams which makes all the difference. The girl whom I helped get the casting internship is a prime example. There was a trust formed first, and she approached the topic intelligently, courteously, and correctly. She showed hutzpah in just the right doses and had something to back it up. The casting director tells me time and time again how thrilled she is with her. Another woman wanted to be an actress and I encouraged her and offered help. Again, trust. These were both people who learned what I did for a living through the grapevine at the coffee shop. One worked there, the other worked at Whole Foods. They didn't try to scheme their way in. They were up front and honest, as I would be. And in return, I was honest in the limits of how much or how little that I could help them attain their goals.

I carried that same principle at the store when I was there. I hated scammers, and never wavered on being a roadblock for the greedy adult children who wanted something they didn't earn. I didn't care how small the cheat was, it wasn't happening on my watch. Sure, those who cheat might get through a few doors more quickly than the honest person, but what they don't understand is that they are in a labyrinth that only allows them to make lateral moves once they get so far. More times than not, those who are honest find their doors open to exactly where they want to be and leave the cheaters in their wake.

Speaking of being honest, my car insurance rates didn't go up after my little mishap. Conscience was already intact, and thankfully so are my rates.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ah, Friday.

I've been waiting for the weekend ever since last Sunday night. I just wasn't in the mood to work this week, and knew that it wasn't just the Sunday night blues, but would last the entire week. It has, but has lifted now that it is Friday.

On Wednesday, my mom and I took a walk around the neighborhood and passed by where they were filming what is now called, The Visiting, with Nicole Kidman. Our timing was impeccable, as we saw Nicole exit a town car and go into the building. She's a totally gorgeous woman, but quietly so, if that makes sense. It was weird to see her in my neighborhood, whether it's under the guise of a film location or not. She's a huge star.

They are filming in a privately owned rowhouse, which the production emptied and replaced with their set furniture. They put the homeowner up in a hotel and paid her $30,000 for the week. Once they are finished, they put everything back and repair any damages. Not bad, if you ask me. However, I have heard that film crews can really make a mess in houses. I guess it depends on the crew. So far, this one has been respectful and nice to the neighbors. They are taking up three blocks with their vehicles, catering trucks, have a craft services tent on the corner and a medic who sits in a chair, standing by for any emergencies.

After our Nicole sighting, my mom and I rounded the corner and I introduced her to Sammy the six-toed cat. I call him Sammy Six Toes, since he has six toes on his two front paws. He's a great cat, very affectionate, and hilarious. He's a black and white cat, and hangs out in his back yard. I call him, and he jumps up on the brick wall surrounding it for some petting. He drapes those six-toed paws over the wall and just basks in the attention, appreciating the petting so much that he starts drooling slightly. He has a brother named Spanky who hangs out as well. Apparently, they've both endeared themselves to the film crew as have other neighborhood cats. On my walk last night, I passed by again and saw a white cat hanging out with the crew. Kitty kept going into the house, and people would bring her out, pet her, and she'd go right back in. It was so cute. All the cats mentioned have owners, by the way.

They hit my street in the next week or two for exterior scenes. I saw a bunch of kids in costume running around last night, so my guess is that the scenes take place on Halloween. This has been a fun, nice change for the neighborhood, busying it up a bit with foot traffic and people walking their dogs. New faces and people out at night. The MICA students have been hilarious, sitting on rowhouse steps and chattering about aliens and Nicole Kidman. I talked to a gorgeous kid, who definitely preferred the male gender, but what a handsome kid. Tall, dark, handsome, and probably preferred the same. Good sense of humor, too as he laughed at my jokes. Normally, the neighborhood residents are invisible to the MICA students, who are so busy being artists and absorbed in their thoughts of being the best and brightest. Us neighbors hardly register, but I'm not offended, because oh, do I know where they are coming from.

Of course, they would never believe me.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I'm writing this post under the nice haze of a Cosmopolitan. I guess the bars have been skimping on the alcohol, because whenever I have a homemade one, I get buzzed. Out in the world, it can take two. That, or the people who make them for me make 'em strong. Anyway, I'm buzzed, but aware. I have yet to make my own.

Now, I sit with my one of my cats on my desk, in my bra and jeans, and a pint of Ben and Jerry's peanut butter cup ice cream in front of me. Really, I could just sleep, but the blog needs a post and it's already Sunday night.

I found out last week that my street will soon be invaded. Yes, invaded. I saw a couple of white vans stop on my corner and a bunch of people with notebooks get out and check out the neighborhood. They were pointing, talking, and looking at the rowhouses, including my own. I thought they were Mormons, then remembered that Mormons rode bikes, at least the ones that come to our neighborhood. Then, I thought they were another religious group of some sort. I was leaving for Starbucks to get in some quiet away from home time after work, and asked them what they were up to. They were scouting location for the Warner Bros. movie, Invasion, starring Nicole Kidman. "Oh," I said, "I thought you were Mormons." They got a laugh out of that.

They are going to shoot on my corner for some exterior night shots. Meaning, no sleep for anyone whose bedroom faces the street. They are also filming inside a rowhouse down the street from me which will be for interior shots. On my walk on Friday, I saw the set dressing people loading furniture into the place. I didn't ask them if they were Mormons.

Invasion, which is a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, changed it's name to The Visiting, since there is a TV show that beat them to the punch. There were several parts for which they were casting locally, but I chickened out. The girl whom I helped get the casting internship encouraged me to try, but in the end I didn't have the guts. Maybe next time. The same casting director that casts our show is casting the local parts for Invasion, and I think it would be a fun thing to do, but I find the concept nerve-racking as hell. Plus, I don't know if I could stop laughing. Perhaps if I ever decide to do it, I'll have a Cosmo beforehand. A homemade one.

I drove to Washington, DC on Saturday to try my hand at shopping. I almost went to New York today just for the novelty of visiting two major US cities in a weekend. I would have trained it to New York, the ride being about two and a half hours. The drive to DC was less than an hour. I shopped around some major department stores and found they were a bit watered down for my taste. I've gotten really pissed at the shopping here, so have a trip to New York planned in the near future. I thought DC would at least offer some reprieve, but I wasn't impressed with the variety.

Last time I was in New York, I went to Macy's to kill some time before my train and was really impressed with the selection. Ever since, I've vowed to go on a shopping only trip to load up for fall. I wasn't in the mood on Saturday, and decided against it on Sunday too. Perhaps next weekend.

Now, off to bed before this wonderful buzz wears off.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A proud moment.

Wednesday night, I went to set to meet with one of the executive producers. To clear up what the set is, it is when we are filming on location. The location is called "the set," and when the show is filming on a soundstage, it is of course called "the stage." I had a hard time finding "the set" since it was located in a bad neighborhood that I'd never frequented. To people who have never been to Baltimore, I am putting it lightly when I say bad neighborhood. Until you've driven the streets of the decayed parts of the city, you cannot know what I speak of. It has to be experienced through your own eyes to believe. However, I had an interesting experience there that I will mention some other time. A pleasant surprise, of sorts.

I arrived on set, just about having given up and calling it a night. It was nearing 9pm, and I hadn't eaten dinner yet. It was an informal meeting, so that would have been okay. On a hunch, I decided to take one more street that led into a dead end. Sure enough, I looked to the left, and the cross street was blocked off by an officer in a police car. Behind him were lights, camera, action, and lots of curious onlookers. I didn't know it, but my proud moment was about to begin.

I walked up and stood with a group of neighborhood kids, including a cherub-faced toddler in diapers with her hair pulled up in two big puffs on her head, and waited for the scene to finish. I heard "Cut!" then made my way over cables, past grips and gaffers, around trucks and lights, through make-up people, actors, P.A.s and extras to find the person that I was meeting with. I kept out of the way of the hustle and bustle, maneuvering expertly when the director spotted me. I know the director from the office when he isn't on set. However, I'm very careful not to abuse that when people are in the middle of production and working. They are under a tight schedule and serious pressure to get the shots done. It's not a time for chit chat.

He greeted me excitedly and told me that it was great to see me on set. By that point I was standing behind the director's chairs and monitors, trying to stay out of the way between shots. The director asked me what I thought of everything and I said it looked great, and we chatted a bit. At that point, another executive producer came up to me who is also an executive producer on a seriously longtime running New York City based detective show with several spin offs. You can figure that one out for yourself. He also told me it was good to see me here and offered me his headphones so that I could listen to the scene as it was filmed and watch it on the monitor. On set, one can listen to the sound on a pair of headphones that work on a remote. It's like a walkman, but you are hearing the actors loud and clear as the microphone does. I put them on and it was really fun. When Cathy took me on set for The West Wing, I'd do it there as well. However, this was being offered to me not as a guest, but because I was part of the show.

And that's when it happened. After the scene finished, I gave the headphones back and watched everyone at work. It was there that realized I was a part of it. And not only part of, but welcomed with open arms by talented, accomplished people who were genuinely glad to have me there. I watched the hair and make-up people pat powder and apply hair product on several of the actors, two cameras being rigged onto a car for a moving shot, the enormous amount of equipment and people at work, and the massive amount of coordination that it took to make it all happen. As I stood there, the proud moment hit me like a mild current going through my body. I was part of this. Not a guest there, but a part of it and appreciated. I watched it all in front of me and was almost moved to tears. I'd found this and pursued it, and had not only gotten there but was valued for my contributions to literally, the Big Picture. Many of my efforts will be seen on screen as they were last season, and earlier in day we had an emergency and I'd risen to the occasion and handled it with a cool head.

After I had my meeting with the other executive producer, who had treated me with kindness, respect, and sincerity, the creator of the show (COS) approached me and we all joked around a bit. By then, the cop car had gone to another part of the street, and the COS asked me where I was parked. I pointed, and he walked me the one block to my car rather than have me do it alone. He didn't call a P.A. to do it, he did it. What a sweet and protective gesture.

I wish I could discuss what everything was about, but I can’t. I can just say that it just underscored what I think about the people on this show. That they are not only extremely talented, but are good and decent people.

Recognizing that I was a part of that made me proud.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Once again, I haven't posted for almost a week. Not because of lack of things to say, but almost because of too many things. The thoughts rush to the forefront of my mind and my fingers can only type so much or be asked to operate so far above a human level. Then, there is the time it takes, and the other projects that I have going that have not even been so much as a pixel on this blog. Yes, they are, believe it or not, some personal projects.

My mom had a big bash for her 65th birthday last Saturday, and it was great. Along with old, new friends and family, she transplanted the entire neighborhood of Bolton Hill to Prince Frederick, MD to celebrate at the house of her friends who graciously offered their abode. These same friends also have a rowhouse across from my mom and Jack, and another house somewhere else. It was about an hour and a half drive, and I had my sister and nephew in my car with me as we drove on two-lane roads through tall trees and expansive horse farms. We passed many homemade signs advertising corn, tomatoes, fruit, cheese, and several fruit stands with urban and non-urban dwellers pulled over to stock up on freshly grown produce. Horses grazed lazily on the lawn and hawks flew low overhead, their wings stretched out to the last feather. Alec slept in the car.

At the party, which was set in an expansive yard nestled in tall trees, a blue grass band played wonderful music, and an entire pig roasted on a spit over an outside grill. The grill was so large that it was hitched to the chef's truck for transport. I watched as the man, who had risen at 2:00AM to get the pig from an Amish farmer and then start cooking, finely chopped the roasted pork into tiny pieces with a small axe. He pulled some of the pork as well to give people a choice. What an art, and it was delicious beyond description. We had Kosher meats for our Jewish friends, cooked separately. Also served up was Cole slaw, deviled eggs, potato salad, and barbecue sauce. I made a mountain of delish on a hamburger bun, piling chopped pork, Cole slaw, and barbecue sauce on it. I had the potato salad and deviled eggs on the side. Oh. My. God.



A master at work, preparing the feast.


A first happened at the party, and that was that Dan, Chase, my sister Joan and I were together for the first time. Dan and Chase are Jack's children, my step siblings. We realized it when we talked that it was a first. Dan and I had both lived in NYC and Los Angeles at the same time, and even both worked for Microsoft at the same time. Dan was in Seattle before his move to LA, and I was in LA during that stint. Our gatherings had always been a combination of two or three of us, but never all four sharing the same breathing space. To put that into perspective, my mom and Jack got married 15 years ago. But they married when all of us were in college or about to go to college, and living in separate parts of the country. Dan and I have shared cities together twice, and therefore gotten close that way. It was awkward at first, having steps at such a late age, but it all came together.

I think I got to speak to just about everyone, which included throwing a football with the kids and realizing I could throw a mean spiral, even while wearing sequined sandals. It was just a good day out, reminiscent of gatherings that we used to have when we were little at friends' houses in the heat of summer, playing until the sun fell into dusk, and in many cases well into dark. The elements, smells, sounds, large unusual insects, animals, applications of mosquito repellent, voices, warm lights, benches on expansive front porches and varied ages collecting on them. Always food available and always an extra hand for yard games. Feeling like a big shot when one of the adults asked you to get them a beer from the cooler. The sounds of the celebration of life, friendship, family, and companionship. It was all there that night, and perfect. I know that my mom had a wonderful time. And, I know this will be a fond memory for Alec.

After the party and drive home to my mom's house, the four adult children who had never shared the same space had drinks together. Chase made some wonderful Cosmopolitans and we all chatted, laughed, and talked. Dan, who abstained from the chick drink and had wine, just got back from doing Hurricane coverage from the NBC branch in North Carolina. After Chase and Joan retired to bed, Dan and I, the tale of two cities, moved outside and talked about the future. Both of us are at a crossroads, and Dan particularly is finding it frustrating. He has wonderful, prestigious experience, but wants a change of direction. I want the same but have found a respite with The Wire, and with making time for my personal projects. Both have given me purpose. There are days I feel stuck, or that no one but me will ever see the results of my efforts, but it is there, regardless. And the days where I feel I have accomplished nothing, I can open them up and look at them.

So we sat, late into the night across from the dorm, a renovated brick hospital that houses MICA students. The alcohol had settled into my system, giving me a good buzz. Occasionally I would glance into the dorm windows and remember my time at art school. So much unknown and so much potential in that unknown, and my thoughts would drift to what that art student would think of me now.

I guess that would depend on the day. But right then, I was glad that I was sitting out on a beautiful night with Dan, enjoying good conversation and good alcohol after a day spent with family, friends, and awesome food. I wasn't confined to a dorm room with Melancholy Molly and her depressing music, worried about finishing an assignment due the next day. I have a strange feeling that if any of those art students looked out and saw us, we were the ones to be envied that night.

Sunday, September 11, 2005



This photo was taken in New York shortly after the events on September 11th, 2001. It needs no caption, and I don't know who the photographer is, but if someone does, I would like to credit them here. I remembered it from the exhibit Here is New York, a collection of amateur photos taken on September 11th. I hope the photographer doesn't mind me using their image that illustrates so poignantly and personally, the tragedy of that day on its fourth year anniversary.

I've also decided to include my past posts about September 11th and its impact on me, one person in a sea of millions who cried out in unison on that terrible day.

December 12th, 2004 My Visit to Ground Zero

September 11th, 2004 America, Interrupted.

September 11th, 2002 One Year Later.

September 8th, 2002 Them.

July 4th, 2002 Independence Day.

May 1st, 2002 An Unwelcome Companion.

April 1st, 2002 A Fireman's Daughter's Tales From Ground Zero.

March 11th, 2002 From Letters to Rob. Six Months Later.

November 11th, 2001. From Letters to Rob. Refuge at The West Wing

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Crunch.

It's the second worse thing to hear when you are backing out of your parking place in a crowded lot. The worst thing to hear is "My baby! My baby!" I got the second worse option, thankfully. However, it wasn't a nice consolation prize. Especially when you look back and see that the car you just hit is a pristine, or uh, formerly pristine, BMW Z4.

And it had started out such a nice day.

I'm sure the woman driving it thought the same thing. It was a mother and daughter, with the car belonging to the daughter who looked to be around 26, give or take a few years. I got out and apologized, and mom in protective mode said sharply, "Sorry isn't going to cut it."

I said, "My insurance will."

At that, things calmed down and mom told me that the daughter had just had it repaired from another incident where she was hit. As the daughter wrote down my information, I told her mom that I knew exactly how she felt. And honestly, I did. She looked doubtful until I mentioned my TT getting hit back to back. I told her when I was broadsided in Beverly Hills by a woman on her cell phone in a Lexus, and how insult was added to injury when I saw the woman being interviewed on E! in a True Hollywood Story episode. Then, had to see her on billboards in my neighborhood pushing her diet pill product. That got a laugh from mom. Thirty days later, I was clipped by a woman changing lanes who was as horrified as I was when I hit this woman. I really felt like shit about it.

There are few things that make you feel more stupid than a car accident that is your fault, especially a minor one like that. Sure, my insurance rate will go up, but really, it's that I've caused someone a major pain in the ass of having to get an estimate for damage, taking it to the shop, not having their car for a few days and then having to worry if the value on their vehicle has decreased sharply. I don't know what the laws are, but it's true that a vehicle does decrease in resale value when it has been involved in a fender bender. And that's what this was. Her rear lower quarter panel was damaged. They'll probably end up replacing it. Hopefully that will save the resale value from going down too much.

I told the two ladies not to worry, that I'd call my insurance company and let them know what happened, and that it was my fault. Because frankly, it was. The daughter shook my hand after everything was done and thanked me for being so responsible. I thanked her for not hitting me over the head with her purse.

When I got home, I had a message from my insurance company to call them about the claim. When I answered all the mandatory questions, I told them what happened and that it was clearly my fault. The insurance representative was shocked that I was being so honest and nice about it. I was shocked that anyone wouldn't be. She told she that she's had some real experiences with customers on the phone who push things to the brink on trying to avoid responsibility even when it's clearly their fault.

I do not get that.

Who the hell are they to put everyone through the stress of an investigation just because they made a mess and don't want to clean it up? When the lines of fault are blurry, fine. But when in my case, you backed into a stationary object, shut up and take the consequences, you lame dick.

Luckily, I won't have to pay a deductible since my insurance, (which is also the girl's insurance company) will go to repairing her car. My car sustained no damage.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

This man is blogging from downtown New Orleans, using power from a generator.

Thank you to Looka's site. He writes, "A guy named Michael is providing posts from his refuge in a highrise in the CBD. He has diesel-fueled generators and, amazingly enough, Internet connectivity."

Pretty harrowing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Yes, I changed my picture. I just felt like a change, so I put this one up. Maybe I'll change it again later, maybe not.

I've just found myself so sad over the catastrophe in New Orleans, Mississippi and the surrounding areas. The images are just so tragic. Tonight, they moved my stepfather to tears when he recognized where he had just been in Bay St. Louis, completely flattened. We were at the dinner table, watching the reports, and he just lost it. It made me so sad. Watching those poor people on television breaks my heart and makes me feel so helpless.

And speaking of sadness, I had to make a pit stop in a very bad neighborhood to get gas, as did a lot of people. I was running on fumes and there are very few gas stations downtown, so I didn't have a choice. I was already hot under the collar because the roads had been at a standstill and weren't moving. As I pulled up, I saw that the pumps were surrounded by kids who wanted to pump my gas for me for change. I didn't have change, and said so. And, I really didn't have any change, having to coin dive at the coffee shop that morning because I hadn't gone to the bank. A man in a wheelchair approached me for change right after and I said the same thing. I had trouble getting the pump to work and had to go back and forth to the attendant to get the gas going. As I did so, the kid, who looked to be about twelve or so kept asking me to let him pump my gas. I told him, "I don't even carry cash anymore." He looked at me and asked with genuine sincerity and concern, "Did you get robbed?" It melted my heart. My anger at the situation and the people around me went away. I said that I had, and he looked to the ground. Before my eyes, an irritating consequence of stopping in a bad neighborhood morphed into a sweet kid. A sweet, poor black kid who lived in the projects that surrounded the area, looking not just for change, but for human contact with an adult. And maybe with an adult who didn't look like him or by the grace of God have to ask people for change. The kind of adult who usually blows through his neighborhood with windows rolled up and doors locked. As I looked at this boy who by bad luck was in a really shitty situation, but had retained a sweetness and somehow still childlike, the hardness on my face softened. I smiled and said, "It sucks." I wasn't just talking about having been robbed.

He nodded, having been let in. So little on my part, but it was enough.

As I pulled out, I rolled down my window and said goodbye to him, and he waved, then said, "Maybe you can get me next time."

And just maybe I will.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wow, what a storm. Complete devastation in Mississippi. New Orleans is still being flooded as I type this. A 200 foot break in a levy pours water into the city. It's going to take months for people to get back into their homes. As I typed my last entry, I couldn't help thinking, as I sat in my dry and comfortable apartment, that someone was going to die that night. Sure, every night, minute, second, someone dies, but the people I was thinking about were going to be killed by a storm. And as alive as I was typing on my blog, so were they. But, because of nature, they wouldn't be within 24 hours.

One of our producers here lives in New Orleans and doesn't know the status of his home. His daughter is here in the office, as the family had to evacuate. They also have a place in New York City, since he is an executive producer for Law & Order and works out of there part of the year. I'm guessing the daughter is about ten, very confident and articulate with a happy energy. Immediately likeable. It's nice to have people's kids come into the office as it adds a nice energy, and I get to see the people I work with in a different light as parent, adding more depth to them. So far, the kids that have come into the office have been great. I can see why, because the people here are very good people. Proof that you don't have to be an asshole to be successful in entertainment, nor do you have to spawn brats.

We're supposed to get strong thunderstorms today, and the remnants of Katrina are headed our way. That will probably come Wednesday or Thursday in the form of rain or gloom.

I got a deep tissue massage on Sunday, opting for an hour and a half since I was way overdue for one. I'm going to have another one this weekend to work out more kinks, but this time just for an hour. It's part of the investment I've decided to put into my body to become more healthy. When it comes down to it, our health is all us humans have, and I'm going to try to do a little better with mine. I may try to do yoga, and I'm going to check out the gyms in town. I'm very picky with gyms, and have a low tolerance for bullshit. I get very leery if I see too many people in thongs prancing around or some short beeftard who gives me an impersonal spiel that is as canned as the liquid protein he drinks daily. When it comes to gyms, I can spot BS a mile away since I got into the best shape of my life in a bare bones no frills gym without all the dressing. The one difference, the owner was there and taught you how to work out properly and effectively. I also worked a stint at that gym. There is such a gym here, and I've been meaning to check it out. I don't think they help you work out, but it's no frills, no thongs, and I already know how to work out thanks to Charles. It's a pay as you go gym, or you can buy weekly or monthly. That's what I'm talking about.

I think exercising will help my motivation in other aspects as well. I felt like a million bucks when I was doing it regularly, and my body responds quickly and well to it. Hopefully this means I'm on a trek to start treating my body well again. After all, it's not like I'm going to get another one.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Please say a prayer for the people in New Orleans and the surrounding areas who are facing a monster category 5 hurricane tonight.

New Orleans is below sea level, so this will be particularly devastating if it continues on its current path and sustains its strength. I was in Baltimore for hurricane Isabel, which was a category 1 or 2, and posted photos on my blog some the damage that it caused in my neighborhood. A category 5, for those who aren't in the know, is catastrophic.

Please keep the people in the area in your thoughts.

Here are some New Orleans based blogs of those who have evacuated:

Blogging Katrina from Downtown New Orleans

Blood Orchid

Velvet Rut

S Turtle

Looka

Some that are not on blogspot or live journal may go down as the storm hits. Many of the New Orleans based blogs were already down.

I'm really worried about those in rural areas who have no electricity, no phone or way of even knowing this thing is coming. It's not uncommon for that area where there are a lot of people living way below the poverty level in hard to reach areas.

I don't know, but this one has me scared for these people.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I went to New York to get my hair done. Yes, and I have a post about it but I'm at work and got tired last night. It's a lot of work to keep up this blog. There have been times I've thought of quitting, just to give myself a break. I don't spend hours on it, but it's a lot of emotional energy. I started it as a catharsis, and I want it to stay that way. The moment it becomes work, I just don't know. I keep thinking, that it's too bad I didn't keep one during my fun years in Los Angeles. I feel this blog is me toned down, meaning that I have less adventures, or, that my adventures have become not as adventurous to me as the years pass and things aren't as novel anymore. My journals from those years detail those times, friends, growth experiences, outings, for which I am glad.

I started this blog in the middle of a downfall, projecting a much different person than the one who drove to Los Angeles with $1000 in her pocket and no clue how she was going to survive when she got there. I made my way, house-sitting, making contacts, then friends and working in Hollywood. While in the internet industry, it was all part of entertainment, so Hollywood was always there. Great parties, great fun. Everyone was so excited and positive, myself included. It was infectious. We were building worlds, masters of our universes. The friends I made during that time are the ones that I still have today. I became used to mingling with the faces in the movies and on television at parties and events, and even at my coffee shop and at the bookstore when I took that big first step back into the human race way back when. LA was fun that way, but, I know that mingling with these folks was a good veil for my own dissatisfaction. I guess today is just one of those days that while I know it's good for me not to have it, I'm missing that veil.

This started on Sunday, which is a day that has always been my designated, "I'm gonna kick my own ass," day, I came to a sort of realization that has been forming for a little over a year. I thought about it a lot yesterday as I sat in the coffee shop and more as I got home and stepped around the clutter in my house. That is, that I'm not the type of person to form contacts to do what I need to do. I have a lot of great ideas, ones that in the hands of a more "go getter" type of person would get accomplished. In teams, I'm great. Like I've mentioned before, BMW liked one of my product/car feature ideas well enough to patent it when I was on a team working on a 7-series concept car prototype. That is yet another example of a time that we were masters of our universe.

However, for my own projects and product ideas, I put together a nice presentation, get excited about them, and then let them sit. If I'm feeling really ballsy, I show them to a few people whom I trust to give me an honest opinion, get great feedback, but then get stuck on my next steps. I feel like a brain wasted, a voice silenced, even impotent, overshadowed by the flaws I have as a human being. Not human flaws, but my flaws. Procrastination, easily discouraged, not being able to see clearly how to get from step A to B when it comes to my own projects, lack of confidence, but being able to shine in it to help others because there is no personal risk. I wonder how many other people in the world feel the same way. The ones who have solutions, but lack the extra whatever it takes to see them through. It's a flaw of many artists and writers who don't have a killer instinct. I also leave things unfinished, because when they are unfinished, they are still a work in progress with the potential to be great. Finished, they are subject to success or failure, both of which I fear equally.

Yes, I'm a tad down today. It's not depression, just the blues. The result of feeling blocked. It's not that I can't create, as I know what my creations are, but a blockage keeps them from getting out. As a result, I'm creatively constipated.

When I went to New York, getting on the train early morning and maneuvering around that city by myself, fully confident, autonomous, and organized, I realized how capable I am. I became frustrated all over again because of it. Like effortlessly landing a back flip when no one is watching, but when even one person is in the room, having to put my hand down mid-flight.

Story of my life on many occasions. I'm wondering if this blog has become the same thing. Putting my hand down mid-flight. Sure, it's a risk, but have I really unleashed myself on it? And, is it necessary to do so? Or, have I put too much energy into it that my other endeavors are suffering? Has it made me become tired of my own voice, so nothing that I create seems fresh? I don't know.

I don't think so, but today it's hard to tell. Perhaps I shouldn't blog under the blues.

Too late now.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Since when did Baltimore become a tropical climate? It has been so hot, so humid here, that it's beyond ridiculous. Last night, it was so hot after dark I could barely walk a few feet without breaking a sweat. Today, same thing. I'm sitting here typing with the AC on, two fans, and a dehumidifier, and I'm still hot. Before I go to bed, I'm going to take a lukewarm shower to cool off my hot skin. Last night, I had to get up and sponge myself off with a wet washcloth. I have a 10,000 BTU window AC, and it barely penetrates my bedroom. Granted, I have almost twelve foot ceilings in a huge room, but I should be able to feel frigid in there when I have it set at 64 degrees and on high fan. Not the case. As I type, the power is mildly fluctuating. Let's just say, it better not even think of going there.

Once again, I have some of the most well traveled books. One of the actors on our show is currently serving in Iraq, and we sent him a care package full of goodies to share with his fellow soldiers. One of the things that I contributed were my paperback books that I’d already set aside for round two of giveaway in the hallway. The last time that I did that, a delighted man from Uganda happened upon them and took several back with him to his country. Now, the books are destined for Iraq, where hopefully they will become dog-eared and worn as they are passed from soldier to soldier.

Ironically, a few days after the package was sent, I got an email from a reader in Iraq who was on a military base just outside of Baghdad. It is so strange to think of the souls across the world who read this blog, and my face appearing on a computer screen in Baghdad. It made me happy to think that I’m offering a bit of the day to day back in the states for someone who is so far from home. The two events were totally unrelated, and I have no idea how he found my blog. Perhaps it was synchronicity at work.

Last night, my mom left a message to tell me that the Metallica documentary was on television. I was in the middle of cleaning my fireplace, with rubber gloves and all, so I didn't answer the phone. I did however, grab the remote with a soapy, sooty gloved hand and switch the channel. My mom called me not because we are a couple of head banging Metallica fans, but because the father of a childhood friend of mine who is now a life coach to the stars, is in the documentary. We'd heard of this when the movie came out and laughed out loud. Though we'd had plans to see the movie in the theater, we never got around to it. It was showing on VH1 and I got a glimpse of Phil Towle helping, and sometimes pissing off the band in his efforts. Phil Towle, it was so perfect and completely plausible. The guy was a social worker, very intense and sort of out there when we were kids. The word groovy comes to mind. He relinquished his social work license in Kansas, and became a life coach. He now lives in Northern California and charges $40,000 per month for his services. A far cry from the free coaching I got from Phil when he coaxed me into holding his son Adam's pet boa constrictor.

Speaking of television, I finally upgraded mine. I've been surviving on a little 13 inch color Sony Trinitron that I've had for at least a decade. It has an awesome picture, it's just small. During my flush years, I bought a huge Sony Wega flat screen that was awesome, and moved the little tiny screen to the kitchen. When I was paring down, I sold it. For my birthday and celebration of starting work again, I bought another set, this one is a 30 inch Samsung SlimFit HDTV flat screen. Awesome, awesome, and awesome. I liked it because is really is a lot slimmer than the Wega, and has excellent picture quality. I got the thumbs up on my choice from Felix, who is the know all of electronics. Samsung is not what it used to be and has great products. Felix sent me a brand new Samsung HD-DVD player for my birthday that I have connected to my HDMI input in the television. Just a beautiful picture. I also subscribed to digital cable, and got HBO and Showtime. I figured since I work on a show that airs on HBO, I might as well have the channel. Last year, I walked to my mom's house to watch it.

Speaking of work, it's still going really well and I'm enjoying it as much as I was my first week. As I said, my mindset is different. I'm absorbing more and am more "present" when I'm there. The script supervisor told me that he felt really good about this year, and I said the same thing. We were nominated for an Emmy this year, but we were talking about the cohesiveness in the office. I worked with him last year, so we all know what to expect from each other. We have a new writer's assistant, whom I already like a lot and has proven to be really on the ball. It's also nice to have another female in there to further balance the testosterone in the office. One of the P.A.s came into the writer's office and commented that "it smells like girls in here."

We had mild incense burning, and have brought plants, a yoga mat and yoga ball into the office. What can we say? We're girls. I guess we'll know our influence went too far if this season of The Wire becomes a romantic comedy.

Now, if you'll excuse me while I go powder my nose.

Monday, August 08, 2005

I had a dream the other night that I reconnected with my junior high school crush. It was one of those dreams that I hoped would never end. In the dream, I discovered that he was angry and guarded. Alone, disconnected from his past and the people within it. When I first approached him, he was distrustful of me and my intentions. He vented about the betrayal in his life from those that he thought were friends, and that he never wanted to be a part of the popular crowd in the first place.

I sat and listened, and finally he had vented so much that he had physically tired himself. All through it, I refused to leave his side, and after he realized I wasn't frightened of him no longer being the smiling confident jock, he spoke calmly to me. We connected immediately, and I wasn't afraid either. I felt like I could share anything about myself with this man, (though I wasn't sure of our ages in the dream) and that it would be accepted by him. I was okay with him putting his arm around me and claiming me as his. Okay for once, with being a one of two. I understood what all the fuss was about with finding "the one" and how fast I could be willing to change my life for him.

Change, in becoming part of a pair instead of a singular force. And also, in starting my own life that way in nesting with someone else. And...I liked it. I could relax, felt more protected and that I didn't have to take care of every single thing lest it not be finished. I wasn't giving up anything, which has been my big fear in my fiercely protected world, but instead I was gaining so much more. Most importantly, I felt that someone in the world looked at me like he looked at no other, and finally I had someone who eclipsed the world around me.

I woke up with a sense of peace and comfort. I couldn't wait to tell family and friends and see the shock on their faces. As the hazy area between sleep and wake cleared, those feelings turned into one of regret that it was only a dream. I don't know why this person in the dream manifested in my junior high school crush. After I awoke, I Googled him and wasn't able to find anything.

This has been a question for a long time, why I've been so protective of myself and so distrustful of others. Why elation at meeting a potential mate is immediately shut out by fear. Aside from being a natural "quirkyalone," I think it's because I haven't been able to trust myself and what I would be feeling from one day to the next. Back in 1998 is when I started having anxiety attacks. I became a different person as "freedoms" were stripped from me one by one. Normal outings, in fact enjoyable outings became hostile environments. Movies, restaurants, parties, plays, and oh my God, car rides were absolutely terror inducing. If I wasn't driving, or if someone was in the car with me it was a source for anxiety. On my own, I was ok. I had only me to worry about and if an attack struck then I didn't have to explain it to anyone.

So, I got used to the "on my own" part. It will be hard to undo. But, if this dream is any indication, once I decide to make the jump, the rewards will be invaluable.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

One minute into my birthday. And since it's my birthday, I thought of a passage that I wrote a few years ago appropriate for the occasion. I was driving, and pulled over to write it so the thought wouldn't fade.

Here it is:

On my drive to work the other day, a song by U2 came on the radio called, Where the Streets Have No Name. I don't know why, whether it was the emotional guitar chords whirling to a crescendo or the fact that the song had given me chills as an eighteen-year-old when I first heard it, but all of a sudden I had a profound thought about what it meant to be adopted. It meant that a woman had spent nine months of her life with me as a part of it. Just as I was sitting behind the wheel fully conscious of my life, the music and the warm sun on my hands, she had done the same thing with me inside of her.

For some reason, all this time I had only imagined the birth, but never imagined her pregnant. I had played the scene over and over in my mind of me being born and the doctors and nurses whisking me away as my mother held out her arms and cried for just one look. But she had spent almost a year with me, feeling me, carrying me around and doing the daily things that people do. Buying bigger clothes as I expanded inside of her and eating things she normally wouldn't eat. She had slept, drank, watched television, gone on walks and sometimes let her mind drift on the way to work and I was right along with her. People in her town had seen her in public with her stomach protruding in her maternity clothes and had probably smiled at what they saw as a proud mother to be. They couldn't have had any idea that they were seeing the only time that she and I would spend together. They also had no idea that they were witnessing the answer to a question I have had all my life. As soon as she left their sight, they probably forgot about her. For my entire life, I still have not.

I sometimes wonder at what time when I was still with her that she realized she'd never know me. Or, if sometimes she misses having me be a part of her. Perhaps she sometimes walks around the house certain that she's forgotten something but can't figure out what it is. Maybe her keys, an appointment or a letter to mail but what it is never surfaces and she's left to wonder what she's missed. Then it occurred to me that maybe when I feel I've lost something that I can't seem to put a finger on, that I'm doing the exact same thing.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I was feeling agitated tonight so I took a walk.

I wasn't agitated at anyone, but because of well, impending feminine reasons. I could feel myself start to stew, and pace, so I took my mace and keys and went out. It was later than my usual walks, or in this case stroll. But, I was restless and needed space.

I looked inside many rowhouses as I passed, one with built in bookshelves from floor to 12-foot high ceiling on each side of the richly decorated living room, completely filled with books. The sound of a man's voice directed my eyes toward the warm glow of their open windows and I saw a couple in their later years, sitting in wing-backed chairs reading and sometimes conversing. It was a vignette into their long lived lives together, one of complete comfort and cohesiveness in each other's presence. They weren't aware of their observer passing by in the dark, just outside their window at a little more than arm's reach.

I passed people with dogs, walked by parks, under over hanging branches and stepped clumsily over brick sidewalks that had lost their mortar. Finally, my ankles at too much risk, I took to the middle of the street and walked under the amber glow of the street lights. Sounds filtered out from windows, reaching at me and dancing visually in my head. Voices, televisions, music, air conditioners, doors closing and opening, laughter, and even silence.

I walked on.

On the back end of the walk I stopped by a rowhouse that has a yard and back stoop. I've made friends with an old cat who lives there and as I approached he was waiting almost expectantly for me. My agitation had turned into a hollowness, and filled just a bit when the bony old guy meowed at me. I stopped by the stoop, and he stood, head-butted my thigh and cozied up for some good old head scratching from the friendly stranger. He meowed in contentment, his voice sounding like a creaky door. I sat on the curb and he hopped off the stoop, pushed under my arm, meow, scratch, head butt. Repeat as desired. After a bit I left my old furry friend, and he followed me like he always does, until he gets to the second door past his house then turns back around.

I stopped by another house with cats, these two sit high on a brick wall and lower their heads for scratching. I passed the bird house with colorful birds in cages chirping by the open windows, then the church with the Tiffany windows, then rounded the corner and pet Joe, a handsome Boston Terrier. I was surprised at the amount of life going on. Pleasantly surprised.

By the time I stuck my key in the door and walked into my apartment, I noticed that my agitation and hollowness had drifted into the night.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Guilty as charged.

On Friday, the last segment of the court saga with my former neighbors Betty and Igor came to a close. The state prosecutor who was handling my case called me on Thursday night and told me that I would be "on call" for my case on Friday. This is done as a convenience so that witnesses don't have to spend an entire day at the courthouse all to end up not needed. If you are called, you have an hour to get to the courthouse. My stepdad, who has been accompanying me to court as moral support was ready to go at the drop of a hat.

At about 4:30PM on Friday, I called to see if it was likely that we wouldn't be needed. The state's attorney surprised me by getting on the line and told me that Betty and Igor both pled guilty and would serve one year probation. Supposedly, Igor found a job in another state, which I give him three months to fuck up, and the courts are letting both of them serve their probation there. They had hired a private attorney, probably paid for by the proceeds from Betty's car sale or God knows what else. She was trying sell her car that was a gift to her from her grandfather, to support her life with this bum when they left. Along with the telecommunications charge, Igor got a fraud charge called "moral turpitude" which I'm sure I have wrong and am spelling incorrectly. That means that he's basically branded a liar in a legal sense. If he comes before the judge again, which is highly likely, his word will be questioned because of this on his record. It's sort of a way that the opposing attorney or judge can say, "Why should we believe you when you have this on your record?"

Two days before the trial, I got a strange and unnerving phone call. A man from California called me "looking for the girl in 3F." I could see California and the phone number on my caller ID, that's how I knew. He asked me if I would be willing to accept a letter on her behalf and tack it on her door. I asked what it was regarding as my heart rate increased, and he said it was a "personal business matter" that he didn't feel he should discuss with the neighbor. Yeah, but you're fine with involving me by asking "the neighbor" to tack a letter on Betty's door? That's ok? I told them the apartment was vacant, and he sounded surprised. I was so taken aback that I didn't ask how he'd gotten my unlisted phone number and knew that I was a neighbor. At first, I thought he was someone to whom Betty and Igor had given my number, but the nature of the call didn't seem like it. First, the guy sounded somewhat educated unlike the people who called for them or they hung out with. Once I calmed down, convinced that no one was trying to lure me into a trap, I figured it was a bill collector or someone else trying to serve them a summons. He couldn't have known how terrible his timing was. Just to be sure, I traced his phone number back to a home address in Escondito, CA, then called the property records people at city hall to get the name of the person that owned the property. I wanted to know where and who this guy was, or determine if the number was real. Like I said, I was unnerved.

So, that is the end of that. I'm happy with the results and that what they did is on record. For one year, both will be on short leashes. Especially Igor. They will have a year to be reminded of what they did to someone who extended kindness to them. It won't change them, but they will be inconvenienced for a year. And, pay me back the twenty dollars they owe me. Hopefully, it's not in the form of a check as that will certainly bounce.

I'm so glad that I saw this through, and to those who are in a similar situation I can only say to take the same action. It's so easy to get discouraged by the initial phases, but it's such a healing process and so worth the effort. The burden of proof was on me, and I decided to carry that burden and make sure they were held responsible. It wasn't fun, was nerve racking at times, and I certainly didn't enjoy seeing Betty and Igor on the other side of the courtroom. I wish it could have been different. However, they chose to give me the finger in return for my kindness.

So, I returned the gesture.

Now, they must carry the burden of their actions, while I get to rid myself of mine.