Friday, April 29, 2005

I know, it's been a few days. That is due to some unbelievable bullshit going on that has taken my full attention. I will detail it later, but can't right now. How's that for a tease and a cliffhanger?

On to better news.

The client loved my writing for the project. They took it on the first draft, which is really cool. It was the sci-fi job that I mentioned earlier, and I had a ton of fun writing it. I really let my imagination go, and how nice to get paid for that. This is great because of two things. One, I did the project through a high profile third party marketing firm which gets a lot of jobs like this. Two, the client is huge. So, nice to make a good first impression on them. Oh, and the company is in Los Angeles. No prospects yet, but doing a good job for a hip, reputable marketing firm and nailing a hole in one with the copy can't be all that bad.

I'll have to remember that when the dark thoughts visit. This recent "thing" I'm dealing with has opened the door for some of them. I've been angry a lot and for lack of a better description, feeling mean. I'm channeling that in the right areas though, and proceeding in a rational and constructive way to take care of what I need to do.

During this, I must remember to turn my thoughts to the positive things running parallel to the bullshit, and understand that because of the choices I've made in my life, I am connected to people in "high places" that can help me navigate through it. I know I'm being vague, but I have to right now. On a scale of world events, this isn't even a molecule. But in my world, it's a lot bigger.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Thank you to the very astute reader who informed me that I didn't have my email address posted anymore on my blog. I have now corrected that error, (look to the top right) as it was an oversight on my part when changing to the new template. I hope we're all still friends. Now, back to regular programming:

Friday, April 22, 2005

This is my first wireless post.

I'm sitting in Starbucks listening to Bruce Springsteen's Devils and Dust on my iPod as I blog. I am such a child of technology. I first heard Devils and Dust driving in my car and had to have it right away. Glad that Bruce, at least with this song, seems to be going back to what made him great in the first place. The man gives me chills with the way he expresses emotion through his harmonica.

I think I'm so affected by music because I physically see it. It can look beautiful, ugly, misty, garish, crass, smooth, curly, jagged, angular, and whatever. Individual sounds have unique shapes and colors, and it's as if I'm watching an animation as I listen. When someone speaks to me, I see their voice as well as hear it. So, when Bruce plays his harmonica in that way that expresses such yearning, I'm also taken on a visual journey unique to his sound that unfolds right in front of me.

I've seen sounds since I can remember, and thought this was something that everyone experienced until I heard about synesthesia on a 60 minutes type show several years ago.

My friend Shannon and I have experimented with this, first starting when I drew his voice. I showed him what his voice looked like inside my head. The looks of someone's voice are something that I can remember, and all are original. It also depends on their manner of speech. British accents are mostly dark colored, and have a short, thick and choppy look, as where a voice from someone with a Spanish or Italian accent looks more like a silk light colored ribbon strewn on the ground.

Shannon put me through an experiment where we discovered that I could determine the time a song was released just by looking at the picture of sounds created. The accuracy that I was able to pinpoint unnerved me as much as it did him, and we've done this same experiment several times with the same results. Sure, one could say certain eras have a certain sound, but to hit the exact year? Shannon has a wide knowledge of rock music in the 60's and 70's, where I have very little. He would put on a tune by an artist I wasn't familiar with and ask me to guess the year it was released. Instead of listening, I'd watch the shapes and colors. I'd say, "That looks like 1973." Shannon would say, "Incredible."

I'd hit it right on the nose probably 8 out of ten times. The other two I'd be a year off. All music that I'd never heard before. I think there were certain things that were attributed to that. A band from the 90's can try to sound like the 70's, but to me it doesn't look like the 70's because of subtle differences such as quality of recording, technological advances in instruments, and other minor differences. To someone who sees sounds, that can make all the difference. Why something looks like a certain year, I have no idea. Perhaps the shapes and colors I see look like the colors, graphics and trends associated those years. I can only say that some of it is subconscious from seeing so many sounds throughout my life.

When I was little, I remember having much more extreme reactions to sounds than the other kids. I think this is because of the visual component. Movies were that much more of an intense experience for me as was music. Forget about popping balloons and fireworks. That could send me running inside for cover.

When my dad lived in London, I'd visit and by the third or fourth day, I'd suffer headaches. Not because the British accent was offensive, but because it was an overdose of stimulation from shapes that I wasn't used to. Especially when mixed with each other in a crowd, pub or street situation. At one point, I had to wear a walkman to keep from getting overstimulated. This didn't happen in other foreign countries as much because not understanding the language just made it a more visual experience than the even split of the British voices.

It's also another reason why the people at the bookstore in White Marsh grated on me so much. As if their physical appearance and manners weren't bad enough, they had some of the ugliest voices I have ever seen.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

To put some of you at ease about my last post. The selling of my apartment building doesn't affect my tenancy. However, I'm sick of the bullshit and just may revoke it myself. Who knows who this building could go to? Based on emails like this from other Baltimore renters,

Can I tell you, I just went through the same thing. It took my landlord
almost a year to fix a broken window in my front room. It wasn't until
I busted the window underneath (on purpose) to get them to fix my shit.
I was even broken into and had my laptop stolen because they couldn't
or wouldn't get their security bullshit together. Almost sued but
realized that getting a judgment against them is no guarantee of
getting money. Moved out yesterday. Getting a place in Pittsburgh to be
closer to my son. Basically, I will be up there for two weeks and down
here for two weeks at the studio. But I'm done with shitty Baltimore
landlords.


I thought of doing the exact same thing to my windows that this person did, especially when Hurricane Isabel hit. Oh gee, that branch just hurled right through my second story window. The both of them! Imagine the chances of that!

Most apartment buildings that reside in rowhouses have been allowed to go to shit by greedy out of town owners. I just don't want to be gristle for that pathetic Baltimore mill anymore.

I'll have to see how I feel about things, and yes, I haven't missed the meaning in this turn of events.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Yesterday I got a note under my door that the owner of the building is selling this apartment building. He asked that we have our apartments in "show" condition starting Monday.

What a crock of corn-embedded shit.

These owners have been virtually absent when it comes to repairing anything in the apartments. My bathroom was repaired, but that took photographic evidence to get them moving after a year of requests. My windows are still almost opaque, and they promised two years ago to have them replaced. This morning, the neighbor who is supposed to be evicted, went up and down the stairs several times at the crack of dawn, stepping very heavily. This is a daily thing, and I wasn't sure who was doing it, so I got up and looked out the window to see him walking out to a car. I guess he had a spat with his girlfriend because on his way to someone waiting in a car for him, he said, "Stupid fucking bitch."

Nice.

I'm so tired of the bullshit that is Baltimore.

Sure, I'll have my apartment in show condition. Maybe I'll paint up some nice Satanic imagery and symbols to hang on the walls, then load up my mantle with black candles. Then, I'll hang up framed portraits of serial killers and a big sign that says Kevorkian for President over the entrance to my kitchen. Man, fuck you. I know I'm cranky today, but once again, fuck you.

Friday, April 08, 2005

I checked in at my mom's house today to see how the construction was progressing in the kitchen. They are in Mexico and I'm on house watch. I didn't plan to stay, but turned on the TV to see that ironically, Once Upon a Time in Mexico was on HBO, and just starting.

If you haven't seen it, put it on your list. One reason is Johnny Depp's performance. The man can just bring it to the table. Not to mention, still manage to look hot when he's had both his eyes ripped out. Granted, in real life the man's fashion sense is wanting, but for crying out loud, give the guy a wardrobe specialist and it's magic.

A while back, when I lived in Los Angeles, my friend Shannon and I went to a David Bowie concert at the Universal Amphitheatre. Shannon had photographed the wedding for Bowie's keyboardist, Mike Garson, and the two had hit it off. Shannon and I both grew up big Bowie fans, and when Garson hooked Shannon up with killer seats, press passes, and VIP backstage passes for the David Bowie concert, Shannon naturally asked me to go. That got us in before the general admittance, and all kinds of access. Bonus, was that Shannon got to photograph Bowie up close during concert. It was so cool, seeing Bowie on stage and the silhouette of Shannon and his camera as he photographed him. I was such a proud friend at that moment.

After the concert, the backstage pass holders lined up, and we noticed there were a lot of them. At first, we mingled with a couple hundred other people in an open air patio area, dismayed that being backstage wasn't really that special. That is, until I noticed something.

"Shannon," I said, "Our passes are a different color." We knew what that meant. Different color, different access. Turns out, we had the passes to the celebrity studded party in a secluded room in the back. We walked up to the entrance, guarded by two burly security guards, showed our passes, and were waved through. Like butter.

The area was much smaller and intimate. However, it was still easy to maneuver and left plenty of elbow room.

There was an odd mix of celebrities. Jimmy Smits, Naomi Campbell, who looks much slighter in person, and the cheese ball of all puffed cheese, David Hasselhoff. I had seen Hasselhoff earlier when he walked to his seat a couple rows in front of me. Before the concert, Shannon was finishing up the details of his photo shoot, and I sat and watched as people made their way to their seats. I giggled to myself, because he is such a tool. He was dressed head to toe in black leather, including black pointed cowboy boots. And man, he had a bad case of square ass.

In the VIP lounge, he was sitting next to his silicone stuffed bleach blonde wife, also head to toe in leather. Both looking like total cheese whiz. Shannon went to look for Garson, and I went to the bar, where I grabbed a drink and made my way back to the smaller outdoor patio area. It was then that I saw him.

Johnny Depp.

Holy fucking shit.

Johnny Depp, the Johnny Depp, had on a tan leather jacket and a blue bandana tied around his head. His hair was pulled back in a pony tail and he had rings on his fingers. He sipped a drink and looked over it in almost a demure fashion as he spoke to an older woman. He stood in a corner, talking quietly, not making a show of himself. It wasn't out of celebrity affectation, but almost what seemed like insecurity in a party setting. Swear to God. As I was walking around looking for Shannon, I managed a nod and exchange of hellos, which was the best I could do when I was crapping my pants. At the time, Johnny Depp was in his late thirties, but I saw not one sign of age on his skin.

Once I found Shannon again, our hilarious people watching began. We were killing each other with laughter, especially when we compared David Hasselhoff to Johnny Depp.

"Look Shannon," I whispered. "Look at Johnny Depp, then look at David Hasselhoff. Two completely different examples of male. They might as well be different species."

"Anne, can you imagine Hasselhoff firing one out in those leather pants?" Shannon whispered back. When Shannon and I refer to "firing one out," that means cutting a fart. That sent us both into hysterics. We were discreet, of course. For all people knew, we were laughing because we'd just sold our screenplay for a million bucks. The rest of the night, all I had to say was "Hasselhoff" and it would set us off in a fit of laughter. Because yes once again, it was that funny.

Needless to say, Hasselhoff and Depp never acknowledged each other's presence. Or should I say, Hasselhoff was probably too embarrassed to stand in front of an actor that actually had a career and talent, and didn't feel he had to dress up in a leather clown suit to attract attention.

Funny how talking about that movie brought back those fun and yet poignant memories. Poignant, I say, because I remember at the time wondering if Johnny Depp had done a lot of drugs, and found myself looking at his arms and hands to see if there were signs. I'd heard that he had, and wondered what stories that small framed, diminutive pretty boy could tell. In a way, he frightened me. Not because of his star status, but because of his willingness to "go there." Sure, he was gorgeous, but there was an intensity and erratic quality there as well that had me asking myself if I had to also "go there" to unearth my true voice in my craft, whatever that was going to be. I cannot explain what I mean by that. It's a feeling and scene that you have to experience, to feel the danger of exposing yourself and be on that edge. To be willing to crumble every bit of your being and rebuild it for your craft. I knew that Johnny Depp was that kind of artist, but before me stood an understated man. David Hasselhoff on the other hand, who was trying so hard to be overstated, was not even an artist.

I will never do drugs, and never have. That's not what I mean. But, would I feel safe with the kind of people whom one may encounter in order to take that next step? The kind of people he endured and encountered? To publicly dig to a dark level and hold up that writhing, hideous demon for every one to see, knowing that it came from me. To be that vulnerable? And, to risk putting my life and humility in the hands of so many people who can destroy it, hoping to come out relatively in one piece on the other side?

In his case, hanging around with fast people and hard partiers and crazy, wild women, being yanked in so many directions, meeting so many screwed up but brilliant people and trying not to become a casualty. Oh, but it's so different for a woman. So many men try to score with you and abruptly lose interest when they see that's not what you are about. And I was so not about that. I don't understand women who do that to get ahead, no matter what treasure lies at the end of the rainbow.

I remember thinking at the time, that Johnny Depp was at a stage in his life where he had complete creative freedom and respect in his craft. At the same time, I wondered what he had put himself through to dig down into those deep caverns and excavate them to the surface? How much had he risked? And what kind of person was willing to go through that? Was I? In what way? And was I strong enough?

That's what I mean, when I say that Johnny Depp frightened me.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Just a gorgeous day today. I went to Starbucks to sit outside. And that's all I did. Sit, stare, listen, and breathe. And of course, only moving to sip my venti iced mocha.

I listened to a woman who sounded exactly like my cousin Amy talk to a friend on her cell phone about student loans. I had to look at her a few times to make sure it wasn't Amy, because she sounded exactly like her. Amy is a lawyer, this one was a medical student. From what it sounded like, her friend had just graduated from Harvard and was going into graduate school. She was also planning her wedding. Oh, to have your life's ducks so neatly in a row. I know it took this girl a ton of hard work and she was very smart. Not just book smart, but sounded street smart as well. However, humbly so. Again, a lot like Amy.

The other source of noise were radio calls from a firehouse battalion chief who is a regular there. He was sitting at a table next to me, doing paperwork and the calls would come in over his radio. My day was calm, quiet, and I sat in solitude, comfortable in the fresh spring air. However, somewhere, a pedestrian had been hit by a car, a 23-year-old girl attempted suicide, a 53-year-old woman was choking, and a 61-year-old man was having trouble breathing. All in the time of the half an hour that I sat and regretted having to disturb my stillness by lifting my arm to get a sip of my coffee.

I sent my first draft into my freelance job and the response was that it was great. Actually, GREAT. They capitalized it. I'm writing some sci-fi stuff for a video game for a major huge company in the form of a blog for one of the characters. I had a great time doing the initial stories, and sci-fi is right up my alley. To those of you who have read this blog for a long time, that may be a surprise. But, I'm a geek at heart. I'm just disguised really well and do believe in hygiene and love clothes. ;). I won't be camping out to see Star Wars, but I can throw the shit down when it comes to sci-fi plots, scenarios, worlds, and whatever. There, now you know. My favorite is when geeks are shocked that I'm a geek and can talk the talk. Yep, even geeks judge books by their covers, regardless of what they say.

Which had me thinking, that I constantly deny exploiting what I'm good at to the fullest. Oh trust me, I've had some incredible successes, but how much further could I take them? I don't know if it's because I'm female, and a part of me thinks I should be good at writing books like The Poisonwood Bible, or The Book of Ruth. Those books are incredible, and sure, I can write true to life hard hitting and emotional stuff. I get email all the time from people telling me to write a book based on what they read in this blog. The thing is, right now this blog is the outlet for that. Maybe there will be a time in life to write such a thing, but that need is only fleeting right now. It seems different writing for a book, not as real, and even egotistical in a way. Sure, blogging is as egotistical as it gets, but I do this for me. I'm shocked that people come back to read it so much. Perhaps it's all the stages that I've gone and am currently going through. The struggles, anger, thankfulness, meanness, frustration, satisfaction, uncertainty, hilarity, futility, kindness, intolerance, and everything else that the human being can go through in a single day, not to mention a few years of life. Perhaps it's comforting to see that people go through those things. I don't know.

I didn't intend to blog today. I just sat down and did it. I've been "outputting" so much with not one, but two freelance jobs that both require intense concentration. And that's why I just sat today and stared off into space, listening to other lives, perhaps aural blogging if you will.

Now, for some more downtime.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Well, I heard some interesting and a bit sad building gossip today. It started when I heard someone knocking on the door of my neighbor's upstairs apartment, directly above me. These are the neighbors that walked me to the trash can with their BIG FUCKING DOGS. I listened to the knocking, and knew they were home as I'd heard them walking around up there, but they didn't answer the door. I've noticed that this seems to be the thing with them, that they don't answer the door, even when I knock on it. I've had to yell through it to let them know it's me.

A few weeks earlier, there was a court summons on the door for the girl. I've been watching them sell stuff for the past few months. Advertising for computer stuff, TV's, and other things. Just recently on the neighborhood website, they advertised her car for sale. They've sold another one before that, a heap of shit Jeep, during which they say they had a couple thousand dollars stolen from their apartment from a potential buyer. First, I don't keep that kind of cash in the house, nor should anyone. Second, I'm not stupid as to why someone would have that lying around. Third, someone looking at a car doesn't enter my house, period.

They've also told me of the items they have for sale, "because they have no money." Neither have jobs, the guy was in jail for a while, then served home detention, but that was a couple years ago when he first moved in. Things seemed to be going ok, except for the past year. I've heard terrible fights, seen some shady characters around, and they have been more secretive as of late. Their lives take place late at night, like mine used to, but it seems that it's not because that's a time they like to work. The guy has been beaten up and robbed on the street after he won some money in a court settlement. A few hundred dollars that the perpetrator just happened to know that he had on him on his way home. Read, perp was most likely a friend of the loser in court. I've just watched tumble after tumble that their lives have taken, and it's sad. Both of them are young. She's in her early twenties, and I just want to shake her and tell her to move back in with family, from whom she is currently estranged. They don't like the boyfriend.

Both of them are nice enough and I'm on good terms with both, but I think they are just making bad choices. Really fucking bad choices. Back to this afternoon, after the mystery knocker gave up on them, I heard a knock at my door. It was the contractor for the management company who was sent to do some small repairs on the windows in each apartment. Through him, I found out today that they haven't paid their rent for three months and are set to be evicted.

Whoa.

I found this out, because the girl didn't realize the man was inside my apartment and opened her door. The dogs came out and bolted into my apartment since my door was cracked open. I was sitting at my desk when it was infiltrated by hyperactive canines. The cats weren't pleased, but I thought it was funny. The repairman was surprised that the tenants above were still there, and that's when the beans were spilled to me.

That explains the secretiveness, the night habits, and the avoidance of unexpected guests. It's none of my business, so I'm just going to stay out of it. I have more thoughts on this, but am not going to mention them right now. What happens will happen.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Spring is here, and the warm weather brings out the criminals. It was kicked off on Monday at 11:30 AM by the police helicopter buzzing directly over my building like an angry hornet. The cats were hilarious, completely confused and perturbed at the noise, their necks stretched tall, eyes wide, and ears stretched back, looking at me for an explanation then up as if the source of the noise resided inside my apartment. I don't see why, as they are both from Los Angeles where the helicopter is practically a registered bird species.

After several passes lasting several minutes and practically being able to see the whites of the eyes of the helicopter pilot, I got dressed and wandered outside to see what all the fuss was about. I saw two cop cars parked at an angle at the dead end of my street that butts up to a park and condo development. Several beefy cops had a guy in his thug-i-form, (white T-shirt and baggy jeans) in cuffs and spreading them for a pat down. So, the cops caught a jack rabbit. I later learned that the guy had stolen a car and sent the police on a chase. He ditched the car, ran on foot, only to end up looking really stupid, spread eagle in cuffs for all his efforts. Most certain, the chase had started in one of the surrounding ghettos and ended up in our neighborhood. It’s also sure to be one of many to come. This was like the christening of spring, with this chase comparable to a champagne bottle being cracked over a freshly polished berth. Soon the muggings and worse will start, and I'll be reading about them on our neighborhood bulletin board.

I've been growing increasingly tired of having to look over my shoulder. I can't solve the problems of the ghettos. I can only protect myself. The other day, a young man who couldn't have been more than sixteen walked past me and said hello to me. Of course, I greeted him back in kind, but I hated that I automatically doubted his intentions. I hated that he felt he had to put me at ease by saying hello. He's really saying, "See lady, I'm not a mugger or thug. I know that's what you thought, but I’m just a kid out on a stroll on a nice day who wanted some time off from the heartbreak in my own neighborhood."

I know my guard is up because of "Craig." It will eventually go back to Defcon 4, and I'll be less paranoid. Not less careful, but less paranoid. I know that all the people aren't bad from the ghettos. In fact, most are good people who are as fed up with the bad apples as we are. I remember Evonne, who had locked herself out of her car at Rite Aid.

We had more excitement on Tuesday, as I heard sirens and big trucks outside my house. Once again, I got up, got dressed, and walked outside to see a mass of fire trucks, a couple police cars, one ambulance, and a ladder stretching from a truck to the roof of a rowhouse. I walked over to the group of people and saw flames erupting from the roof of a rowhouse.

Holy shit.

Firemen were on the roof with hoses and axes, and I could see another one inside the house on the top floor wielding his axe at the ceiling. Many of these rowhouses are over 150 years old and are like tinder boxes. When my mom and Jack's rowhouse was getting renovated, I saw that the mortar in the walls was reinforced with horse hair. Makes nice kindling for a fire.

In this case, a crew that was working on the roof started the fire. I'm not sure how yet, but the house has major damage. Luckily, the firemen were able to keep it to a corner, but no doubt there will be water damage, interior damage, and the beautiful cornice was destroyed. I'm glad the workmen were smart enough to realize that it was beyond their capabilities and quickly called the fire department, as the owners of the house weren't home.

I got another freelance job that will start soon. Good for me. It's all in the plan to get out of here. I could be so much more successful if I was a better marketer of self. I mean, I could be hauling in cash. But, I'm not right now. Doesn't mean I won't ever be, I'm just not.

The thing is, I'm good at what I do. I'm easy to work with, I "get it," and what I do pays a good penny. But, for some reason I'm hanging back right now. My friend Malcolm and I always talked about our fear of success, and yes, I'm guilty. He had that fear, and so do I. Just another thing on the ever growing list to work through. I have moments of fearlessness, then that little sister voice tells me to get in the back seat of the car so the grown up people can sit up front.

I hope I don't continue to hide my talents and ideas for fear that gasp, they will succeed. I'm in a limbo now, and not one that I'm willing to tolerate much longer. Yes, I know I've accomplished some really cool things. Living in Baltimore brought that fact front and center. Holy shit did it ever.

I guess I'm ready for my next step now. Whether I take it slowly or not isn't the issue. It's that I take it.