Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year. I write this after just getting home, happily tipsy on several glasses of champagne and a Cosmo. May 2007 bring us all the realization of our dreams, goals, and closer to peace and understanding.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Another three day weekend. After going to my mom's to help them reinstall all their software after a computer crash, I'm here at Starbucks. It's busy, papers are rustling, couples discuss whether or not to see Apocolypto because of the violence, kids fidget as parents finish their coffee, and female college students surround a table with laptops open, huddled at the shoulders.

Over in a far away country, a brutal dictator was hung by the neck until dead for crimes against humanity. The whole thing has bothered me and still does. Our papers scream "Executed!" on the front page, as do Internet news sites. One even showed Saddam Hussein dead after his execution. I've been bothered by it not because I didn't think the man did horrible things. He did. I also didn't live under his regime and wasn't an Iraqi woman constantly in fear of being thrown in a rape room or falling victim to one of his horrible sons or party officials who took a liking to me and had my husband killed because he was in the way. Nor was I a Kurd who watched my family, children and neighbors convulse and die horrible deaths from the effects of a cocktail including Mustard and Sarin gas, then watched a second generation be born with birth defects, living breathing echoes of that slaughter. The Hussein regime was horrific. But what did gleefully touting the death walk of a now scared defenseless old man toward his hanging noose do to make things right? Plus, filming his execution is a little too close for comfort to the video of the terrorists' murderous barbarity on Al Jazeera. This whole counting down to a man being killed, extinguished, no matter how terrible a person he was, has really gotten to me over the last few days. I usually don't talk about political things on this blog, because that's not why I started it.

However, I can't help but feel a little dirtied by these events. I don't want this to be the path that world society is going on. Counting down the last hours of anyone's life like it's an event and making it a public spectacle. I believe in justice, but killing, even killing killers isn't justice. If someone is in the act of killing and is killed, that's entirely different, but as an institution it's just wrong. And, the way this was handled in the media makes it even worse. If a human being's institutionalized murder becomes so pedestrian, so available to us and just another passing tabloid headline as we sip our lattes, then what does that make us?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Just a quick post while I lunch in a cafe that has free wireless Internet. It's my second week at the temp job and it's been completely stress free. I go there, work, go home. There's something nice about paper pushing, though I wouldn't want to do it forever. I do leave with a sense of accomplishment though.

I just love taking the subway. I get a brisk walk before work, to the station and from the station, and the same after work. I love the freedom it provides, that I'm not saddled down with a car and don't have to worry about other drivers. It gives me time to listen to my music, to see other faces for more than just a glance, and to just "be" while I navigate the underground. I love the sound of the trains as they approach from afar and the wind they create from the tunnels. Pushed by the train, it starts as a caress on my face then wraps itself around me before it rushes off, blowing my hair back in its hurry to stay ahead of the train in a game of chase. It reminds me of the freedom of movement that I felt in New York. However, I'm glad I don't have to face New York every day. If Los Angeles had a reliable system when I lived there, I'd take it. It's the one thing I'd change about the place, but I just don't see how it could be done. They almost sank Hollywood Blvd. building the one that goes downtown.

Okay, back to work.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

There's a line almost out the door at Starbucks. Being the weekend before Christmas and the fact that this shop is right next to a Whole Foods and fine wine store, it's understandable. It's also gorgeous outside. I'm looking at a kid in short sleeves holding the leash of his Corgi puppy. Unimaginable in December. I still managed to snag a table near the outlet, an almost impossibility under the circumstances, but table karma was shifting my way today.

I haven't posted in a while because I've been working another temp job. This one is in the legal department at a major banking institution. It's a wholly cultural departure from anything that I'm used to in a workplace. However, though everything I've posted about work environments on this blog would suggest differently, it's not one that's going to depress me. Like I've said, it's nice being the temp. I'm an interloper without a background or future at the company. I'm just there to do a job and because I get it, am assertive when questions need to be asked, possess a great work ethic and am filling a void that others can't because their jobs don't afford them the time, I'm appreciated. Sometimes as I sit in my cube, yes, cube, I shake my head at the improbability that I'm working in a big office building among lawyers, legal aides and secretaries who excitedly detail the design of their Christmas socks to someone on the phone. I'm a fish out of water there and kind of enjoying it. That is because I know that I'm well...the temp. Meaning temporarily there. The other thing that I'm enjoying is the predictability of the work hours. Every day, I arrive and leave at a certain time. And when I leave, I leave.

Even better, I've learned I can take the subway to work. The station is a short walk from my house, and the stop lets me off right in front of a Starbucks. The only Starbucks in that entire area. When I saw where it stopped, I thought there might be one in the area. I was prepared to ask around, then emerged from underground and saw that familiar logo right in front of me. I felt like Fonzie in the Happy Days opening credits when he steps in front of the mirror to fix his hair, lifts his comb then seeing it's perfect, stops mid-motion and gives his reflection a congratulatory open armed gesture. Ayyy.

This Friday, before getting my stinkin' badge, I was required to watch a security video. I arrived in the lobby, the only female with four men, and we were walked by a fifth man to the security area. Two of the men were from India, one from China, and another who appeared Indian but was American. I noticed, being surrounded by five men that my voice had slipped into a more sultry tone. I don't know why that happened, it just did. Whatever the reason, it seemed to have an effect.

There's something nice about knowing what to expect, even though my entire life, I've fought against "the establishment" to ensure my life contains the unexpected. I'm watching a documentary right now about Johnny Depp, someone who takes creating the unexpected to the extreme. Though I nowhere near walk the precarious paths that he did, through my own experiences I've learned that inviting the unexpected has great rewards, but some serious drawbacks. I've had so many people say to me that they wish they had the guts that I did, and find at parties that I'm the one people gravitate to. They say "I've heard so much about you," or "You're the Hollywood one," but what they aren't privy to are the dark and lonely times when you ask yourself the question, "Was everything worth it just to do it my way?"

I still don't know the answer to that.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I was right about the "having a job" mojo. In the last week, two freelance writing assignments have come my way. I've also expanded my contact network and have a six week freelance job coming up through the temp agency with which I'm registered. This ends just before the show starts up, for which I'm hoping to have other options by then. All for all, if I decide just to chuck it and leave, I'll have a history with this temp agency that is worldwide and has a huge office in Angeles. That way, I can get work upon arriving. I completed my first assignment on Tuesday, to great praise. Like I said, the detachment of being "the temp" was conducive for me, along with the ability to do mindless work and get paid for it. There's something nice about that, I must admit. No stress and I can safely stand outside the realm. I don't think I'd want to do it forever, but at least now I know it's there if I ever need to step back again.

On my next to the last day, the man-child asked me if I was coming back because he liked me a lot and thought I was a very "neat and interesting" person. I was incredibly flattered to hear that my short time there had positively touched him. He also called me mysterious. I told him I'm the International Anne of Mystery, to much appreciation. He's certainly astute, that's for sure. I enjoyed my time at this place, and it was something I'd never have been able to experience had I not registered with the agency.

For this new assignment, I had to get a background check, drug screen, and my fingerprints scanned in order to be run through the FBI database. The company didn't even interview me, just hired me off my resume. Have to say that was a stroke to the ego as this company usually doesn't do that. This will be a complete change from the last assignment, with more responsibility. They did the fingerprinting at the company, where a woman led me into a mirrored room and took my fingerprints. They had a really high tech machine that scanned them, rather than having to ink me up.

As far as my mood, I've been better in the last few days. The bleakness was largely due to PMS, which has been really bad in the mood department the last couple of times around. Now that those cobwebs have cleared, I've been writing much better on my personal projects and completely kicked ass today. A good thing, because if I lose the ability to express... I don't even want to think of the emptiness that would bring. My goal is to finish something. I am the queen of unfinished projects and I'm determined not to let this one suffer a similar fate. It's too important to me and I've put too much time into it. And that damn pattern I have of not finishing has to stop. I'm worth more than that.

It's been warmer the last week, and in the last two days we've had thick fog. I love the fog, with its lilting ribbons reflecting the artificial lights at night. It was beautiful last night while driving home, so low I felt if I stuck my hand up through the open window my fingers would leave small wakes in its path. Today, I watched it move in around 3:30 in the afternoon, creeping through leafless trees, around buildings and over hills. There's a coziness with fog, sort of like the sky's hug that both shields us and links us together as one. It's calming to me, as it softens everything I see. Edges aren't sharp and unfriendly, colors are muted and a sense of mystery fills the air. When your visibility is shortened, the world becomes more intimate.

Sometimes it's good to not be able to see so far ahead, so you more notice and appreciate the things within your grasp.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Could I be fighting off the black dog any more this week? God, enough already.

I honestly feel like punching the wall. In fact, earlier tonight when I was sitting on the toilet I tried, but missed. Probably a good thing. I'm enduring the job search doldrums, as so little hiring goes on at this time. I was so frustrated that I almost started packing. To go where, I don't know. And I'm not talking my clothes. I'm talking boxing my shit up for preparation of flight.

Hopefully, after working tomorrow I'll feel better. I went to a party last night and ate, drank, laughed. Cracked some wicked jokes. Stuffed the depression in a corner and dressed in a skirt, low cut strappy blouse and my knee high Ferragamo boots, then draped a beaded shawl over my shoulders. It was a quickly put together outfit but worked really well. I almost didn't go, but felt it was especially important to force myself when I'm feeling blue. And, it was with good result. I missed seeing the mayor/governor elect O'Malley at the party by a few minutes. Apparently he stayed an hour or so. The party was in a Bolton Hill mansion. There's another party this weekend in another mansion. Guess I'll have to throw together another outfit.

Another symptom of the depression is that I've been stewing too much. Therefore, I become too focused on negative things and can't right myself to shine my attention on the good ones. I was writing today at the coffee shop and just couldn't concentrate. I was fighting off anger and tears, but not a soul could tell. The words on my laptop would go in and out of focus as my thoughts drifted to far away land. And this wasn't a good land, but a murky, treacherous bog filled with snakes and quicksand pits.

No place for a girl wearing Ferragamo boots.

Friday, December 08, 2006

It is freezing here. F-f-freezing.

Last night we had snow flurries, the first of the year. Now, it's just bitter cold and brutal. This is the worst time for me as it has a serious affect on my mood.

As I'd mentioned before, I registered with a temp agency as I'm waiting for either a job in Los Angeles or for the show to start again. It's all about the job mojo, and the rule that it's easier to find a job while you are working, no matter where. Time is ticking towards Season Five, and I'm still unsure whether I'm going back. I love the people there, but it's just a huge chunk of time to commit to Baltimore. Maybe I could use it as a ramp up savings time to just move to LA once it ends. But, I'm growing restless.

Oddly enough, my first stint with the temp agency took me to the same building where our casting office is. It's for a nonprofit organization that pairs mentally handicapped with a peer who is not mentally handicapped. They have programs in high schools, middle schools, colleges and I believe just normal in the world people. It's a strict data entry job, perfect to put the iPod on Shuffle Songs, work and get paid for it. The office is open and warmly decorated, which I love. At any time, there are about three to five people there.

It's strange to be "the temp." The reason, is people aren't sure why you are a temp. They don't know if you are smart, have a college education, can belch like a truck driver or if yesterday you stopped a bullet with the palm of your hand. All they know is that you are there for a few days, maybe even one, and therefore don't feel a need to get to know you. They don't ask what your background is, or anything about you. All they know is that you are there to do a task as if you're a new printer they just plugged in. At the same time, I have a transitory attitude as well. However, I do take note of my surroundings and the people in them. It's a weird dynamic, but it works. There's a wonderful psychological freedom in being "the temp."

I also believe that sometimes we are given reminders of how lucky we are. As much as I get down on myself, at the heart of it I know I'm extraordinarily lucky. The last few weeks, I've been forgetting that. The data that I'm entering details some of the people with disabilities. It's sobering, that's for sure. My second day there, I was greeted by a young man that I knew had some sort of disability. He excitedly told me that it was his dream to work there since he'd been in the program. His hands shook from over excitement, and he told me that he'd fundraised his salary. Now that was a first one for me. I thought it was brilliant. Not to mention motivated and completely entrepreneurial. It was also inspiring. Not because of his disability, which he told me was Asperger's Syndrome, but because he'd wanted something so badly that he not only went after it, but raised money so he could get paid to work at the place of his choice. Jeez, I just might try that myself! I could just see it. Oh, my salary is taken care of, so and so. I love it.

At the beginning of the day, after he finished speaking with me, another employee approached me and told me that he could be intense. I told her I wasn't bothered at all, and I wasn't. He was the only person who asked me about myself.

Throughout the day when he'd come to talk to me, he told me of his other disabilities, one being OCD, which I could tell by the way he organized things rigidly on his desk, and ADD. He'd mention it as casually as one would say, "I bumped my head getting into the car this morning." He also spoke of the affects of his condition with a self awareness that few people have. As an example, on Friday they were scheduled to get new furniture. He told me he wasn't going to be in since change like that upset him. Occasionally, he'd stop by my desk to see how far I'd gotten in my tasks and call me a "fast typer." I told him the key was the iPod, keeping to the beat just helps me keep going. That's when he told me of his ADD. I wonder what it must feel like to have to explain yourself to people all the time. To feel you are in a world where you are markedly different and know that you can't function the same way that the majority seems to be able to do with ease.

What has to be particularly hard for him is that his disabilities, until you talk to him aren't evident on the surface. He's not in a wheelchair, doesn't walk with a limp or slur his words. It's only evident in his actions or behavior, and that has to be hard. I know a little of that, having suffered through depression hell. Feeling out of sorts in a world where people seem to be coping just fine. If I was to say to them, "I have depression," it's not something that people fully understand. It's a more frustrating thing, because most people think it's something one can just snap out of. When I was spiraling, it was especially frustrating for friends and family to watch me make poor decisions, whether they be financial or personal. It was frustrating for me to not understand where my fight had gone and wonder who this person was that was staring at me back in the mirror.

I'm always on guard for it to come back, and know what a precarious path I walk. Especially during winter when light and warmth are at a low. Though it's nothing like his afflictions, it can be daunting to know that I have to approach things differently because of anxiety or depression. Or, on days when it gets really bad to become a master of deception, putting on a happy face. Or, on really bad days, a neutral face. In short, it just plain fucking sucks. But I won't let it rule me.

Oh, hell no.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Saturday night, a body was found two blocks from my home. This was the information on the police report.

"On Sat 2 Dec 06 an African American male was found along (address removed) in Bolton Hill. He had sustained gunshot wounds to his torso area. He received medical treatment on the scene and was transported to Shock Trauma where he was shortly thereafter pronounced dead. A blood trail indicated the shooting had occurred in the 1300 Blk Madison Ave and victim walked to and collapsed on Lafayette Ave. The victim has been identified and the Homicide unit stated he resided on Madison Ave. The motive for the shooting is unknown at this time and is being investigated."

At that time my stepdad, me, my step brother and his girlfriend Jen were sitting around the table in the kitchen drinking, talking, having a good time. Full on a fabulous dinner, Jen and I were sipping a cosmos and Jack and Dan, a martini and a whiskey. My sister, her fiance, Alec had retired upstairs, and my stepsister Chase and her boyfriend Jim, across the street at a friends' house. We'd all sat around a large table and had a great time earlier. How wonderful it was to have everyone under one roof. Until I read this, I had no idea that at the same time, two blocks away from us a man was walking his last steps on a cold night until he could walk no more. He was alone, not surrounded by family, laughter, deserts and drinks.

This didn't even make the television news, as far as I know. It's just too common a thing anymore. In order to get to our neighborhood, he would have had to cross a busy street. I'm sure someone saw him but had no idea he'd been shot several times. Just another wayward pedestrian with a wobbly, stumbling gait in the streets of Baltimore.

I was also one of those when my stepdad walked me home at 1:15 in the morning. But luckily for me, thanks to chance and circumstance, I was just happily tipsy, looking forward to a warm bed, and accompanied by someone who made sure I arrived there safely.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's the calm before the storm, and I'm enjoying it wholeheartedly.

This weekend it's my step dad's milestone birthday. I'm not saying which one, as he might not want it broadcast. Not that he cares, but it's just not my choice to make. He doesn't like fusses made over him, so we're not allowed to refer to it as his birthday party, and have been instructed to bring no gifts. We'll see how many people stick to that one. Anyway, my sister and her fiance Dale are coming, as is my nephew Alec. It will be my first time meeting Dale and watching the family dynamic. It's always been just Joan and Alec, now it's Joan, Dale and Alec. From what I've heard about him and from talking to him on the phone, he seems like a really solid guy. Something both my sister and Alec need in their lives. I look forward to getting to know him.

My stepsister and stepbrother are coming, with their respective significant others. I've met Jen, who is great. But not Chase's beau. Luckily, we all get along and I'm sure many laughs are to be had.

There's been more mojo percolating in the job search. I got a call from the temp agency to work, but haven't heard back from them on my return call. My contact in LA has already put me in touch with one of her industry contacts. And, I'm starting to get emails from the creative temp agencies I'm registered with about other ones. I politely declined the interview for the software company, something which Felix chastised me about. He's a big computer guru and didn't see why I'd turn down the interview. Well, one because I'd have to fly across the country for it, and second because it was solely focusing on a hard drive product that I'm sure is exciting to someone like Felix, but just didn't have the things I require for a career and cross the country move.

They've been filming another movie in my neighborhood. This one is called Boy of Pigs, and I have a picture of it in my Flickr. Not much to see, just typical production. They've been at it again this week and I drove by tonight on my way to Starbucks and saw one of my Wire coworkers. Rolled down the window, said hello. Last night they were doing exterior shots and had the old cars lining the streets again since it's set in the 60's. And yes, that's Boy of Pigs, not Bay of Pigs.

It's been unseasonably warm here, and that's made the fact that it's practically dark at 4:45 PM easier to take. Just barely. I hate the lack of light in the winter. Makes me tired, uninspired and a little lazy. Oh, and I did take that nap that I mentioned on my last post. Crashed on my couch, then woke up and didn't know if it was today or the next day. Luckily, it was just a couple hours later. I got a late start today and it's so irritating.

Being restless last night, I went to Rite Aid with just my wallet in my pocket. I looked like hell, but decided to go with it and do a little psychological experiment. Hair a mess, no make-up, just lovely. My dress wasn't bad, but it consisted of a red overcoat, jeans with tears on the bottom and a very hip top that was covered. Now, to those in the know I'd look like any woman dressing down. To Baltimorons, I was possibly a shoplifter, heroin addict, and not respectable. Why, because there are so many people in Baltimore who fit into that category. There are two Rite Aid stores located near my apartment. I went to the one that is near the light rail station and gets lots of transient traffic. As I walked around, disheveled and to myself, I noticed that people kept their distance. I was playing an inside joke on the patrons and workers, and was enjoying my acceptance into the transient category. Trust me, I can look like shit with the best of them, especially when my hair is in dire need of a conditioning treatment.

Sure enough, when I got to the checkout, I wasn't greeted. Now, I've frequented this Rite Aid a lot, but no one ever recognizes me. I am always however, greeted. As I approached the counter with my basket of goodies, I was given a disapproving look by a tall man who was in his sixties. I said hello, and my salutations weren't returned. He scanned my groceries, if you want to call them that, as it was mostly junk food, in his eyes junkie food. He kept a surly look on his face and told me my total. I pulled my wallet out of my pocket, opened it and as if on cue, change fell out and clinked across the floor. Beautiful. I'd forgotten to zip the change purse. I scanned my credit card, then picked up my change from the floor. He asked for my identification, and I pulled it out and gave it to him to compare. Ever since Rite Aid implemented asking for ID, I've never, ever been asked. He held up my credit card, which had my picture on it and compared it to my California driver's license, the state license of choice for scammers. He scrutinized them, as my debit card had a picture of me with short dark hair, and my California license was glamorous with long hair. In front of him stood a lighter haired disheveled mess buying a bunch of junk food and a pack of toilet paper at almost eleven at night. And, I wasn't carrying a purse. Just a wallet I could have just lifted and bee lined to Rite Aid before the real owner knew it was missing.

And that's when I threw him for a loop.

As he was trying to be intimidating and disapproving, I said, "Thank you for checking."

It was the first time he made eye contact with me, and I met his eyes with the confidence of one who has been educated, worked professionally and lived a life far from the streets. Someone who could stand toe to toe with the likes of him. As he tried to put the pieces together, I said, "No one ever asks."

He stumbled over his words, "You're welcome." He gave me back both of my cards and I put them into my wallet. Not willing to give up the ghost, he kept up his demeanor, though at a lesser degree, so it wouldn't be obvious. I smiled as he looked at me again, signed my receipt and left.

Social experiment aside, I was glad that he asked. It's nice to know someone is out there protecting me. Even if it's from myself.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Finally, some energy to write. Sorry for the lapse, but I've been wholly uninspired. I've also been working on some personal writing stuff and immersed in job searching.

Well, a little energy. As the day has been overcast but warm, the sun is starting to sink and the light has taken on a blue hue. I know I'm going to have to resist the urge to sleep when I get home.

I spent Thanksgiving with my mom's friends in Prince Frederick, MD. This is the same house that has the car graveyard in the woods. As usual, the drive was pretty and relaxing. Sometimes we'd pass a tree and there would be fifteen turkey vultures sitting in it looking ominous. If there ever was a foreboding sight, a bunch of turkey vultures in a leafless tree, silhouetted against an overcast sky sure ranks up there. In colder weather, turkey vultures tighten the muscles in their neck and draw their feathers up around their head, giving them a hunchback appearance. Dinner was delicious, company good and only one argument occurred. That was over politics between two of the men, later into the night after much alcohol and food. However, it was discomforting and I left the room before it escalated.

Right after dinner, the son (M)'s friend came over with his girlfriend, and the four of us went across the street to his house. M lives across the street from his parents on the property that is owned by the family. Their family has been in the area since the 1700's. The friend was part Indian, so his family has been in the area much longer than that. The history of the people on the east coast whose families have remained here never ceases to amaze me. I know many of you Brits who read my blog don't see that as such a big deal, but for us Yankees that's a long time.

When we got to the house, the girlfriend and I were treated to an acoustic concert given by the two boys. It was intimate, candlelit and very nice in the rustic setting of M's house. Joseph, the friend sang and played guitar, and M accompanied on guitar. What a treat! Both were very talented.

I finally got a call from a job in Los Angeles from a woman who saw my resume on Careerbuilder. Imagine that. However, I don't think it's the kind of job I'd move across the country for, copywriting for a technical company. That is, unless the pay is incredible. It was nice to know there are living, breathing people looking at resumes on the job sites. I also got in contact with a friend of mine who was a successful HR person in LA, now she is a successful HR person in Atlanta. She says she still has loads of contacts there and I've sent her my resume.

I know it will come down to the wire, no pun intended. I just know that. I'll have little time to prepare when the wheels start moving and I know I'll end up having to throw my luggage on the train and jump on. I'll be honest, that when this opportunity came up the thought of uprooting and moving again was daunting. I imagined packing my apartment, having to find a place to live, unpacking, and the bullshit that comes with moving. Then of course, being away from family. That's going to be the hardest when the time comes.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sorry, I've found myself at a loss for words. No reason, it just happens sometimes.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yesterday I was lying in bed and heard someone scream. I couldn't tell if it was a woman or a child, but I was half awake so I just lay there, staring at my ceiling. Having yelled in my sleep before, I thought nothing of it. About five minutes later, there was another scream, just like it. However, this one sounded like it came from a different place. Another five minutes, and another scream. This one sounded muffled. It wasn't someone playing, but it wasn't someone being attacked either. It was a clean, shrill scream, not one of struggle or full blown awake terror. At that time, I made up my mind that it was someone who was dreaming. On the third scream, I heard footsteps running to the person's aid. That, or it was the screamer running in her sleep, certain to soon collide into a wall. After that, it stopped. I never found out who was screaming or why. Or, where it was coming from.

The day before I'd been to a temp agency which does strictly office work, to register and take tests to prove I was viable. I've been so bored lately, but more important am in the firm belief that job karma is more likely to happen when one is working. The holiday doldrums are here, so hiring will be slow. In the meantime, temping may pick up. I've also re-established contact with a company that does content work. After I took the MS Office, math and spelling tests (which I aced, thank you), I realized I'd not brought my paperwork. It's been a long time since I've registered at a temp agency and therefore forgot that you bring your passport or social security card when you register, just like it's your first day of work at a new job.

No big deal. The next day, I brought it in and filled out the paperwork. While I was there, a man had just finished his tests and was told that he'd scored low on spelling and grammar, as well as the computer tests. He was in his late fifties, and I cringed while hearing it. The office there is open and therefore there isn't much privacy. The woman wasn't being critical, just matter of fact. The man was surprised, saying he'd always considered himself a good speller. Having just taken the test, I knew it didn't consist of what the kids are made to spell during the national spelling bee.

It was sad. I'm sure the man could do a good day's work. And, they offer training and tutorials so a person can improve their scores. However, I could see the defeat and embarrassment on his face, being told by someone thirty years younger than he was that he'd failed the tests. I don't know his circumstances that brought him to this agency. I can't imagine what that must have felt like at his age. I thought of my dad, who was able to very comfortably retire at about his age, and would never have to walk into a temp agency like that. I wondered what this man would be thinking about on his way home, if he would catch his reflection in a window and see himself as less than when he walked in. Would he pass affluent looking men dressed in suits and ponder his life? Would he feel that his entire worth of living for sixty years had just been summed up by a math, computer, and spelling test? I hope not. Sure, in the context of a temp agency who looks for certain skills, but not his worth as a human being or even as someone in the job market. The question is, will he know the difference when the mean voices set in?

For every sullen kid thinks education isn't important or parents who think their kids' education isn't something to fight for, I wish they could have seen this man in his bleak moment. But, no one ever thinks that will be them.

And speaking of job karma, sure enough, I received a check in the mail today for a freelance job I did ages ago. What a great surprise that was. Thanks, Ron. That's what I mean about the job karma. I've been putting the mojo out there all week, actually getting my ass into professional clothing and to a temp agency for work that I'm way over qualified to do, but I didn't care. I had to shake up some mojo, and boom, check in the mail that I didn't even know was coming. It was a nice ego booster, that's for sure.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm officially suffering from some type of repetitive motion syndrome. It started in my left shoulder and has increased in pain that has spread to my left forearm and bicep. The bicep and forearm aren't constant, but are a pulsing burning pain. The shoulder pain, however, is. It's gotten so bad that I can't lift things a certain way with my left arm without feeling pain.

I know what I've been doing wrong. One, spending too much time at the computer. Mostly during my late night wake-a-thons waiting for the sleep fairies to visit. But, I'm also looking for a job, and well, that takes being on the computer. Oh boy, does it. I've noticed when I sit at my desk that I lean on my left arm. If I'm not at my desk and working on my laptop, I tense my left shoulder. I've tried to stop doing that, but it's so automatic sometimes I don't notice I've been doing it. I know that I need physical therapy but can't afford it right now. And, with no job, that equals no insurance.

Either way, when I'm in pain it works on my psyche. It's been mentally getting me down and I've had to resort to talking to myself to keep spirits up. "Okay, let's get this finished," "Okay, time to join the living." That sort of thing, not full blown conversations.

Yet.

I'm on the laptop typing this at Starbucks and even with paying attention, twice I've had to untense my left shoulder. I'm a loss of how to stop doing that, short of tying my arm behind my back.

I've been having to be semi-rude to a man that keeps talking to me. Today was especially the wrong time to approach me because I'm close to the old monthly visitor. And, he did it from over my shoulder. I hate it when people sneak up on me in public places like that. If I know you, it's annoying enough. If you are just an acquaintance, it makes my blood boil. Once again, I was working, and clearly so. Internet up, applying for jobs. This person is an older man who is a bit overbearing. No, not a bit overbearing, very overbearing, a constant flirt who wants to monopolize my attention. Not only that, he announces to strangers that we're getting married. One or two times with the same jokes was entertaining, thirty times later it's not funny and just disruptive. Once, he asked me if I was working. I said yes, and he pulled up a chair and sat down. He was the customer I spoke of that took twenty minutes of my time and three hours worth of my energy. I feel bad for being short with him, but unfortunately it's come to that.

There will be a time in my life when no one approaches me. I do know that. I see women who are ignored all the time and wonder how that must feel, to be past their expiration date in the eyes of a youth obsessed society. I don't fault men for their need to connect with a female human being. However, one should understand and respect boundaries unless they've been invited past them.

Tonight, around 11:30pm I was in the shower and heard a knock at my door. Conditioner still in hair, I turned off the stream and asked who it was. My neighbor who lives below me answered, saying she had locked herself out of her apartment. I dried off, got dressed and invited her in. She was so embarrassed and sweet about it, but not as much as I was because my apartment was getting that clutter look. I apologized for it, then called the landlord who lives a few blocks away. Conditioner still in hair, I drove her there to get a spare key. The landlord was waiting for us, and walked to the car in his shirt and jammie pants. I told him he looked adorable in them. She kept thanking me, but I was happy to be able to help someone. When I got home, I jumped back in the shower and rinsed out my hair. It needed the extra conditioning anyway.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It seemed innocent enough, last night at around three in the morning to take two Tylenol PM to get rid of the non-sleepies. After, I turned on my space heater to read a little. My latest infatuation are Tony Hillerman novels, one, because one of my fiction stories takes place in Navajo Indian Territory, and two because he's a fine story teller.

Eventually, because I remembered to give into the sleeping pills, which usually have no effect on me, I fell asleep. And woke up at three fifteen in the afternoon.

Doh. Fuck.

I couldn't believe what time it was. I'd had an intense dream about September 11th. I dreamed I was inside this strange woman's apartment in Queens, but didn't know how I got there. It was in a high-rise and looked out to a view of Manhattan. For some reason, I knew it was her retirement apartment, the one that she'd saved up to buy, and thought how depressing that was, as it was small, had two views into the sides of other buildings, but did have a fabulous view of Manhattan.

To my horror, the woman came home while I was still there. She saw me, I pretended I was maintenance, and walked out the door. Some dealings with a parking garage later, and I was being driven from Queens and noticed the skyline. The Twin Towers were there. I remarked on this to my non-descript token dream companion and we realized that we'd traveled back in time. I told him we had to get to New York and warn the people what was going to happen.

Once there, I was met with some insolent security guards who looked at me like I was a nut, then said I was interrupting their tabletop football game. You know, that game you played in class when the teacher wasn't looking. The one with a triangle shaped ball made out of folded paper while someone makes a goal post out of their thumbs and index fingers. You try to get the ball through the goal posts by flicking it, usually ending up smacking the other person in the face. Never understood the allure of that one.

Anyway, I grabbed that paper triangle football and told him that I knew he thought I was a nut, but to just remember to get people out of the building when it happens. The absurdity of what I was saying, that commercial jets were going to hit the buildings and cause them to fall down, read on their faces. I told them that I didn't care what they thought, just remember to get everyone out as fast as you can.

In the dream, I knew I couldn't stop it from happening, but maybe lessen the loss of life. We told others, who also thought we were crazy. I said, just remember the 11th, like the two towers look like from far away, a big eleven. Remember that day, and remember this crazy lady telling you that everyone has to get out, not stay inside. The rest of it was spent telling anyone we could, mostly getting blown off but rattling the nerves of others.

I woke, unsure of where I was and wanting to go back to sleep so that I could warn more people. Instead, I looked at the clock. And that's where I realized I'd slept well into the afternoon, aided by sleeping pills and a sense of purpose. Tonight, or shall I say this morning, it's back to melatonin.

I did manage to kick in gear pretty fast. I went to the other Starbucks and had a nice discussion with a well to do African American family. The daughter was visiting home from college at Columbia University, and mom and dad were with her. They were stopping in for coffee before going out to dinner. Extremely nice family, and the discussion started over the daughter's purse, which I liked a lot. From there, the conversation was as natural as if we were old friends sitting around a coffee table. Me and the dad in arm chairs, and mom and the daughter on a nice leather couch. Amazing the souls you come in contact with. I think of all the people I've had conversations with at coffee shops, it's heartwarming. That is, unless you're a creepy person. Someone sent me this great cartoon today based on my last posts. So true. To the person that sent it, if you want credit for it, email me and I'll link ya. I know some of you like your privacy.

I got a bite on my resume on Friday. We'll see where that takes me. And, I did finish that cover letter after having the nice chat with the family tonight. They had good energy and apparently it rubbed off on me. I sent cover letter and redone resume to the intended target when I got home tonight. Then I made chocolate chip cookies and ate about ten of them.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My nerves are a little raw today. I blame it on Halloween candy, given to me by neighbors who were passing out the goods to the kids. I sat with them a bit and it was fun to see all the kids.

I'm at Starbucks, my usual one. I was writing a good cover letter when I was interrupted and now I just can't get back to it. It was a customer that interrupted me, therefore interrupting my mojo. For this particular letter I need mojo. I tried to continue where I'd left off, but it was futile.

I guess I should be grateful that I'm a person that people are drawn to, but sometimes it can get very annoying. I chose to come to my regular place today hoping it was early enough to avoid the usual people, but no. This particular person takes way too much energy and didn't fail today in doing that. When he asked me if he was interrupting, I told him I was in the middle of a cover letter that I wanted to finish, and he just sat there and continued to talk. I gave several indications that I wanted to get back to work, but he stayed for twenty minutes.

He asked me if I was going to be here tomorrow and I said no. I like this place but it's become a hard place to concentrate.

I've been mixing it up because last week, it was rapid fire interruption. Last week, after exchanging small talk with a man with whom I'd done so in the past, he left the store only to immediately return, drag a chair to my table, sit and say, "So there." It was wholly awkward as I didn't know what to say. Turns out, neither did he. He just sat there and gauged my reaction. Note to men: If you're going to make a bold move like that, have a conversation planned. After an a few silent moments, he told me he thought I was a writer. I asked if that had something to do with the laptop I was typing on. He said that it was the descriptive language I used when I spoke. We chatted, awkwardly until thank God the Korean came in and sat down. She told me later over email that she felt bad for interrupting us, and I said "For Christ's sake, don't," then told her what had happened.

Thing is, I don't fault people for these kinds of things. Sure, I was annoyed, but only because my work was being interrupted. But really, can I fault someone for looking for a friend or just a friendly conversation? I reminded myself of this when I looked across at him, that he was a human being with feelings. I closed my laptop and decided to go with the moment and not be so annoyed. As long as it doesn't happen again and again.

I've been taking refuge at another Starbucks. The first time I did so, it was crowded and lively. The one I go to is in a pretty rich neighborhood. The new one is in a really rich neighborhood. And with rich neighborhoods come parents who are on the boards of their kid's athletic teams. In this case, it was the swim board, and they came for a meeting and talked animatedly about going to more meets vs. more practice, and how besides natural athletic ability, other kids had gotten so much faster. They spoke of team jackets, and listening to them my own swim team experiences came rushing back. I remember how proud I was of my team jacket and the cheers when I'd won a race at a meet. I remembered the deep utility sinks in the girls' locker room and how I'd fill the sink up with hot water and sit in it neck deep after practice, or sometimes when the pool water was just too cold, I'd beg my coach to go there early. Sometimes, rarely, he would let me. Oh, the anticipation of walking down those stairs to the locker room, already seeing the steam from the hot water as it filled the sink. I loved having the whole place to myself. A little girl in a big sink full of hot water. Heaven. This was in Springfield, Illinois where we lived from when I was around six until eight. The pool was a top of the line indoor facility, complete with diving pool and bleachers.

One of the men in the group I found very attractive. He was quiet, dressed in a suit, and mostly just listened. This was before I figured out they were swim parents, and we met eyes a few times. Just mutual interest, I think. It was his stoic nature that added to his attractiveness.

After they left, I stood to leave and noticed a purse beside my chair. It was a very expensive designer purse that looked brand new. I asked a couple who were the only people in the store at the time, if it was theirs and they said it wasn't. So, I picked it up and gave it to Max, an employee whom I knew from the other store. Mind you, the only person that I knew from the other store.

Everything was in it. Wallet, ID, credit cards, keys. She'd probably gotten a ride from another parent, therefore didn't immediately notice it was gone. I knew because they were looking for a phone number inside her purse so they could reach her. I thought about her worry once she realized it was gone, and how lucky she was that someone with honest intentions found it. I heard from Max last night that the lady and purse were reunited. Hey, we swim people look out for each other.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's 7:10 AM and completely dark outside. Why?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I wish I had something more interesting to write, but I don't.

The weather is quickly turning cold, which included ferocious winds yesterday. The radiators have kicked in, and it's now getting dark before 7:00 PM. Already, I've had to resist the urge to burrow, but admit that I've given in to it a couple times. My cats are all to happy to burrow with me. I get up at a normal time, eat breakfast, then burrow and wake up a few hours later. On the days it rains, I burrow even more. I do get out once a day, and know these are signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I'm also pressing on with the job hunt. I'm making progress, shaking the trees of my connections to remind them I'm alive, sending out resumes, writing cover letters, but the doldrums of November and December, a.k.a. the hardest time to get a fucking job are fast approaching. I'm frustrated because I just want to know. What will I be doing next? The show begins production in January, which is why I want to have other options by then.

I've been able to keep my clutter quotient down because that's what happens when you give a bunch of shit away. My latest shed was a couple of RCA speakers that I was going to just toss, but they were perfectly good so I put them on the sidewalk with a "Work perfectly fine. Free to a good home" notice taped on them. By the next morning, they were gone.

Those speakers were from a stereo system that I won when I worked at CareerPath, now CareerBuilder.com. When I worked at the company several years ago, I remember seeing the box holding the sound system arrive. I asked what it was for, and someone mentioned it was for a contest. For some reason, I knew that I would win it. I didn't know what the contest was, if it was a drawing or what, but I knew that box was mine.

A few days passed and nothing was said of a contest. Finally, it was announced that entrants were to write a song about our online job fair based on the graphic theme, the 1960's. Basically, it meant that we were to use a song from the 1960's and rewrite the lyrics. I read it, confident that I could write lyrics. It was then that I saw the catch. The catch was that the author also had to sing it in front of the entire company.

Oh dear.

Anyone who has known me for years knows that I'm deathly afraid of public speaking. This contest wasn't asking for just that, but they wanted public singing. Singing. I'd never sung in my life outside of second grade when the class sang All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth for the Christmas pageant. Nothing. Now if I wanted that sound system, my solo debut was going to be in front of an entire company. The company I worked for and people I saw every day. Keep in mind, this company was in Los Angeles. Entertainment capitol. Meaning, plenty of singers or past singers were in the company. Also, many who had been on screen and stage.

I sat at my computer and pondered this. Could I get in front of the company and sing my little heart out? Would I faint in the middle? If I did, would that get me a sympathy win? How bad did I want that sound system? The answer was, I wanted it really badly. Badly enough to start writing my song to the tune of Bob Dylan's The Times They are a Changin'. As if I was channeling the Dylan himself, the words flowed from my fingers. And as I wrote it, I knew it was good. It had humor, passion, and was clever. It rhymed, went with the song and hit all the right notes and accents. I put out of my mind that I might have to sing it. Maybe it would be so good that they would excuse me from the task.

I wrote on..."At the Job Fair, they are a hir-in'"

I submitted it. The judges were our advertising firm that did a great job of putting morale boosting company functions together. Honestly, to this day they remain the best company I worked for when it came to that. CareerPath put on some of the best daytime parties that brought the company together.

The day came, and all the entries were pasted on the large conference room walls. I was nervous, not because of the singing but because there were some really good entries on the wall. However, something told me I would win. I'd made a psychic connection to that box the day it arrived.

After announcing company stuff, the time came to sing our songs. The first brave soul volunteered, maybe hoping that bravery would edge him toward the box. Like I thought, we had some good singers, but also, people who were fine with letting it all hang out in front of the people they worked with every day. As I watched, I became excited to share my song. My nervousness subsided as I realized that none of these people wanted to see me fail. It was all in good fun. So when the question was asked, "Who's next?" I volunteered.

I walked in front of more than a hundred people and was honest. I thought if I told them my worst fear, that I was going to shake and blush, then it wouldn't be the beast that it was anymore. So, I did.

ME: Just to let you know, I've never sung in public and am terrified. I'm going to blush and shake.

AUDIENCE: (charmed) Laughs.

ME: I wrote a song to Bob Dylan's The Times They are a Changin'.

And I sang. And to my surprise, I was pretty good. Half way through, I was actually enjoying myself. My song got laughs, applause, and I even had to put my hand up to quell them so they could hear the last verse. I hit the notes and carried the tune. The girl who had cried her senior year because she had to take speech was ruling the room. I was shaking and blushing, but I was also having a really good time. When I finished, I knew that I'd earned that sound system. But it wasn't about that anymore. That whole exercise was about slaying a beast that was trying to prevent me from getting something that I wanted. From participating. Instead of shrinking into a corner or asking that special considerations be made for the phobic public speaker, I just got up there and did it.

And, I won. It was a proud moment because I knew I'd earned that win. It wasn't a draw, or a lottery, but a win. A win not only over the other entrants, but a win over my biggest adversary. Myself.

That is exactly why I hung on to the system for so long, way past when the five-changing CD player gave up. It was a trophy of sorts of that triumphant day when I had not only found my voice, but had a room full of witnesses. Finally, I was okay about giving it up so that I could make space for other triumphs. Whoever got those speakers doesn't know their history, but they have good energy. I wanted them to live on, to continue to carry the tune, if you will. That's why I didn't toss them and silence them forever.

Now, like me on that day, they have found their voice again.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I deleted my other blog called Letters to Rob. I've had it for years, and it was the first blog that I started. However, the time has come for me to move on. Not from Rob, but from that time. I'm not forgetting Rob. In fact there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him. A few weeks ago, I woke up and said to the ceiling, "Rob, why did you do it?" I was still in a daze, half in sleep and half trying to wake and start the day. I don't know if I'd dreamed about him, or if being half asleep was closer to another world where I felt his loss while waking into the living one.

There are several reasons why I deleted the blog. One, I know that nothing on the web is permanently deleted. I also have a copy of everything that I wrote in a word file. Aside from needing to let Rob go, the blog doesn't represent who I am anymore either. I'm happier now. Stronger. I fought back and got out of the hole. I have bouts of depression, sure. But nowhere near what I was going through then. People who haven't followed my blog from the beginning wouldn't understand who that person was and that she had gotten through that dark time. For me, it was hard to read about how much I was struggling. I just didn't think I needed to advertise it anymore, especially being in the process of trying to bump things up a level and searching for a new job. Sure, if someone really wants to find the blog, it's out there. But, those are perhaps the only people who should be reading it.

Rob was 20 years old when he took his life. I was one of the last people that he spoke to over AIM. I still have days where I still can't believe that he's gone. Many days I wonder what he was thinking when he did it. How could he feel that hopeless?

But, those thoughts are now going to be reserved for me. And, for when I feel like mentioning it on this blog or talking with someone about it. I've rebuilt from that time on many levels. And moved forward. I'm not "there" anymore. I'm here.

And from here, I must move forward.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Yes, another post. Two in two days. I just saw pictures of the snow dump in New York. I don't know if I'm ready for that kind of winter. Yesterday the cold blew in, accompanied by high clouds that only winter can produce. It's not coat weather yet, but getting there.

I know for people who live in warm climates this seems unreal. It is for me too.

This weekend is Festival on the Hill in our neighborhood. The church that puts it on has a notice that they needed stuff for their big garage sale. Among artists, food, and crafts people, the church has a sale to raise money. I've been needing to purge again, and purge I did.

I donated a ton of stuff today and spent most of last night looking for anything that I could shed. The only thing they didn't accept is clothing, so during another purge I'll have to get rid of that. Once again, I'm weighed down. Too much stuff. What I'm giving away I could sell, but I don't want to deal with it. Some of the stuff I can't even believe that I've lugged cross country twice. Cassette tapes. Yes, cassettes that I bought while I lived in New York. Most of them were classical, some were soundtracks to movies like "Witness." All things I can now get on MP3 and don't need cluttering up my closets. Being Baltimore, I know there are plenty of people who still want cassettes.

What's a couple extra hundred dollars to me when it could go to an organization that does a lot more good than I do. I dropped by the church and bid my stuff goodbye to its new life. Two sweet women helped me carry it in and were thrilled to get it. One had straight black hair down to her butt. I don't know if she was Hispanic or Native American. Both had infectious smiles. I hope the items make someone happy and raise money for the church. This is the same church that I was walking by when I witnessed the stolen vehicle crash and the same one that goes on the New York trip every year. It's my mom's church and sometimes I participate in their gatherings such as knitting night when I feel like using my hands. They do a lot of community things, including this weekend's Festival on the Hill.

So, all is good.

I was rewarded for my apartment enema with the first spider I've seen in my apartment since I've lived here. The first...pretty big spider. Sure, I've seen the puny ones that I've mistaken for floating dust then realize it's a tiny eight legged rope dancer. Those don't bother me. This one did. I don't know if all my pulling things out and rummaging around brought it out of its home, but Atticus was right on it when he saw it. When I saw him go for the wall I looked to see what it was. I wasn't pleased at all, and I'm sure the spider wasn't pleased by the giant fuzzball playing floor hockey with it. It was a lazy spider and didn't put up much of a fight. I was on the other side of the room until Atticus left it alone. Let's just say, the visitor is no longer in my apartment.

Good kitty.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My goodness, my posts when I'm down really bring you all out of the woodwork. I'm feeling much better, thank you. In fact, I may be able to work things out after all. I will just work them out differently.

Thank you for the words of encouragement.

Speaking of coming out of the woodwork, I found that my very good friend has a tie to my last post. It turns out that he is the inventor of The Mind Eraser. I shit you not. This isn't a tall bar tale, it's the truth. Reese, modest man that he is would be the last to claim credit for something he did, much less take credit for something he didn't. Reese, I told you I was going to put this in the blog, so here it is. You crack me up.

From Reese:

Subject: You know, I invented The Mind Eraser!

How the Mind Eraser was invented…

It was the winter of 1985, my first winter season at Club Med Copper Mountain in Colorado. That season I was hired as a bartender coming from Tahiti. The usual thing for us bartenders was to serve everyone but also, since we were all pretty good drinkers, we invented drinks. I had come from a pretty good background of bartending and if I remember, it was close to the week of New Years. As usual we were designing some sort of fast and evil drinks that went down fast and knocked one on their willy… Awe the invention of the “Mind Eraser”. A layered drink made the following way… A rocks glass packed to the top with ice, bottom layer Kahlua, Middle layer vodka, Top layer glass filled to brim with soda water, carefully insert 1 straw to bottom of glass not to disturb layers. Suck down as fast as possible. Drink design as follows, first taste is hit of Kailua which coats mouth and tongue, then comes the vodka which you don’t even taste followed by splash of soda. Instant blackout.

This over the weeks began to evolve and finally turned into the “Job Destroyer” Just think Mind Eraser scaled up 4-6 times. Pack bucket glass with ice, to make this layered drink it now took about 4 oz Kahlua, 4 oz Vodka and a few oz. soda to fill. This was now drunk with 2-3 straws in the same way. This caused a few bad brawls in which no one remembered what happened except they were being fired for getting into fights.

That season, I had a Chief of Bar named Alan who was the manager of our bar team. He was an American from LA who spoke fluent French and that got him that position. Anyhow, years later after Cathy and I were together the conversation about the Mind Eraser came up which was a drink they had down in Sandpiper in Florida. It turns out that was the summer after my first winter in Colorado and Alan was their Chief of Bar that next season. So, he brought the drink idea down there and I know over the years, it did spread all over the world…even to your little bar there.


And now you know...the rest of the story.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The book fair was in town this weekend, so Jack and I went to peruse. I saw an amazing children's book and had to have it. The art inside it was spectacular, and the author was there as we were in the author's tent. Even better, I got it autographed and a free poster with the dragon on it. Signed, as well. The author, Stephen Parlato, was very nice, and signed with wonderful drawings on both. You can view this incredible art on his website, which I linked to in the previous sentence.

After that, we wandered downtown to find the set of Die Hard 4. Once again, Baltimore is masquerading as Washington, DC, and a friend of mine who is working on it said that they were doing some scenes that involved stunts over the weekend.

After walking for about twenty minutes, we found the set, blocked off and guarded by several P.A.s and police. After being told by both that the area was closed, I asked one of the P.A.s to find another Wire friend of mine who was working on the show. He succeeded, and we were let in for a front row view of the action. It was good to see The Wire people again, several of whom were there. As they set up the shot, we gossiped and bantered with the other crewmembers. A crewmember from New Zealand took my picture because he said I looked exactly like a friend's wife, and he intended to take it back and show her. They all reside in Los Angeles now.

Below is another camera crew across the street from the one that I stood behind. A stunt driver in the foreground waits in the car for his cue.

Filming Die Hard 4

The stunt that was being prepared was a helicopter/car/SFX shot. We'd arrived just at the right time, to watch the rehearsals for it and the actual shot. Several car stunt drivers, and as my coworker informed me, a helicopter "precision pilot" rehearsed the scene twice.

As another helicopter filmed from above, three ground cameras positioned at different angles shot the scene as the stunt helicopter did an incredible tight bank. On the ground, four cars did their stunts. The first picture is where the helicopter hovered to wait for his cue. As usual with things like this, the pictures don't do it justice. You can click on each photo to see a bigger version.

On Location: Die Hard 4

On Location: Die Hard 4

On Location: Die Hard 4

The helicopter pilot does an incredible turn in a tight space. Amazing!

When the actual shot was ready to film, they passed out safety glasses and ear plugs to those who wanted them. I took a pair of ear plugs, not for the helicopters, but for the exploding charges emulating gunfire from the helicopter. As they readied, the New Zealander told me to hit the ground and flatten myself if anything went wrong. I looked at his face for humor, and he wasn't kidding.

On Location: Die Hard 4

As the crew films, two cars screech to a stop as the explosions detonate in rapid sequence. Loud, and awesome. Out of the shot, the helicopter does the same move pictured above.

The police car is driven by Bruce Willis's character, John McClane. For the rest of the pictures, you can view them on my Flickr account. There are a couple more, I think.

Everything went off perfectly, air, ground, and SFX all nailed the choreography. The background way down the road will be digitally replaced to be Washington, DC.

The first Die Hard, filmed in Los Angeles, took place in a building where I used to work. Fox Plaza, which became a character in the film itself, stood in for Nakatomi Plaza. I posted about working there here. If you haven't seen the first one, rent it. It's one of the top tier intelligent action films out there. For you Snape fans, Alan Rickman is a fantastic bad guy in this. And, they use Beethoven's Fifth as the soundtrack, to boot.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I was way due for a picture change, so I chose this one that I took last night at dusk. No make-up, no fuss, just au' naturale this time. To view a larger version click on the picture and it will take you to my Flickr account.

It was a warm night, so I decided to scale the fire escape to my rooftop. I laid on my back and looked up at the sky. As I took the shot, a lone balloon sailed up into the air. The roof was still warm from the day's sunshine and soothed me into a relaxed state.

When I'm high up, in this case three stories, I can't look at the sky too long before becoming terrified. It's so huge, endless and unknown, and the thought of that can bring me to have to look away for fear that if I gaze too long it will seize me and toss me into its vastness. The same thing happened to me on the Eiffel Tower, where the fear wasn't in looking down, but looking up. You hear all the time, "Don't look down," when someone is navigating a high space. Well, I do better if I don't look up. Same with the Empire State Building, and when they were there, the World Trade Center towers.

I used to live in a building that was on the same block as the Empire State Building, and many times went to the rooftop to marvel at the city around me. Macy's was cater corner from my building, and Broadway and Sixth Avenue intersected in front of me. The Empire State Building, being 102 stories tall, towered above my 35 story building. I could see every landmark building from that rooftop. The Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and the World Trade Center Towers. Three major thoroughfares intersected in front of my building; 34th Street, Broadway and Sixth Avenue. I lived there for about two years, then moved to 13th and 5th Avenue.

empire state building Empire State Building in FogIf I was on the roof during the day, I'd look up at the top and see tiny heads peering over the side. I'd wonder if they were looking at me and saying, "Look, there's a person on that rooftop," the way that I used to do as a tourist when I spotted a tiny spec on a rooftop far below. That was usually followed by, "I wonder if they can see us up here." There are serious guard rails on the ESB, but one can still peer through. So to you future visitors to the ESB observatory, if you see someone on a rooftop and wonder, the answer is "Yes, we can see you."

Both pictures I took from the same spot from my rooftop. They are scans of a regular photographs, so the quality isn't that great. The photo on the left shows how the Empire State Building towered over us, as I was about 35 stories up when I took that photo. The photo on the right was taken during a low cloud day. Same shot, no Empire State Building. Well, it's there, but completely cloaked in thick low hanging clouds. Compare the two shots by using the gutter line on the right as a guide. Every single day the view up there was different. I never got sick of it.

Looking downtown, this was the view I saw. Of course, that view looks different today.

apt_view

All photos can be viewed in larger size if you click on them. It was weird to pull them out of my photo albums, as it seems so long ago.

But here I am, many years later still rooftop dreaming.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

We had the premiere for our show on Friday, September 8. Since then, the first two episodes have aired, and for On Demand subscribers, possibly three. We also learned that HBO renewed the show for another season. It will be the fifth and final season of The Wire. I brought my camera, but didn't take many pictures. Events like that are crowded, and you can either choose to talk to people you haven't seen for awhile or shoot pictures. I did get this nice shot of Robert Wisdom and Marc Steiner though. We were talking and I just decided to take a shot.

Robert Wisdom, Mark Steiner

I didn't get any of me, though if I do say so myself, I looked hot. Prada skirt, Ferragamo knee high boots, hair working just perfectly. Yeah baby, I was working it. It was fun to see everyone again and marvel that somehow I became a part of this. Not because I didn't think that I could, but because it's so opposite of my own background. On the way in I hugged a big, sweet bear of a man who worked as an advisor on the show, then introduced my mother. It was obvious the man and I had a rapport and had worked closely on the show. They chatted like people who just met would. After the premiere, at home, I told her he was a former assassin who had served almost twenty years in prison. Her skin tone lightened a couple shades. But, being my mom she recovered quickly. Of course, that might have been helped by the cosmopolitan she was drinking as well.

Despite the show renewal, I'm still on the job hunt in Los Angeles. I've used it as a motivator to ramp it up even more so that when the show rolls around I'll have a choice. To be honest, I'm cautiously optimistic. Job searching is a slow, frustrating process. But, it's a process I must go through if I want to make a change.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I didn't want to write this entry from my apartment, distracted by cats and the comforts of home. So, I write it in the coffee shop; a place where active lives converge at a point and intersect before they depart. I'm comfortable, sitting at my favorite table by the window. My iPod is on, and I have a choice of listening to that or to the chatter over the jazz playing from the speakers. Outside, a woman sits with her dog as others come to pet it. I have a choice of getting up, walking outside and petting it myself. Or, I could stay here and continue to enjoy the scene. I could also leave and drive anywhere that my car will take me. All are choices that are available to me, and are limited only by my imagination and the laws of physics. I could see a movie, drive by the water, take my paints, canvas and an easel and paint outside. I can take a walk, or a nap, or climb the fire escape to my rooftop where I can sit, hug my knees and watch the giant, billowy clouds float over the cityscape. So many choices, and I've only named some of the smaller ones.

On September 11, 2001, the choices for over three thousand people were denied them by not just terrorists, but murderers. The only choices they had were to die by fire, smoke, or jumping to their deaths. To fight back once they learned the plane they were on had been turned into a missile, and to make final calls to loved ones. The murderers made the choice for the world to watch or listen in horror, helpless to do a damn thing but cry out in disbelief.

My flight attendant sister was safe. A few days later, I'd learn that a letter addressed to me was on one of the planes that hit the towers. My name, address had burned in that hellish fire, or, like the same invitation that was found by a stranger, been lost in the chaos on the ground.

On the evening of September 11th, after a day of watching the news, I lost it. Maybe one day I'll post about it, but right now I just can't bring myself to share it. Many would say I was justified in losing it, and those I've told have said they would have done the same thing in my situation. However, it wasn't them who did it. It was me. Losing it and acting on it. I'll say this much; that the little piece of shit who almost hit me with his car will probably act differently next time he's confronted about it. After I lost it, it was me knocking on my neighbor's door at midnight, waking him in a fit of tears to confess what I'd just done, and break down on his couch about the horror I'd seen on television. God bless him, he sat there in his robe and let me get it out. He didn't judge, just understood and hugged me as I cried in his arms. The next day, he left a bouquet of flowers with an American flag ribbon attached at my doorstep.

This will be my last post on September 11th about September 11th. Like I've said before, I'm a different person since that awful day. I detail this, and the story about the lost mail which made USA Today in the below links. I also ask for you to watch the videos I've chosen. Three different takes on that day, one being an actual last minute recording of a man trapped in the World Trade Center whose choice was stripped of him on that horrible, awful, terrifying day. Watch them until the end. Of course, it's your choice, as you are lucky enough to have one.

December 12th, 2004 My Visit to Ground Zero in 2004. Includes picture of me there.

September 11th, 2004 America, Interrupted.

September 11th, 2002 One Year Later, and a tail of hijacked mail that got delivered.

September 8th, 2002 Before the first anniversary, thoughts of 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. One month after the attacks, I took refuge on set of The West Wing.

Videos:

Call from Kevin Cosgrove from inside the South Tower on September 11th 2001 just before collapse. The video is synched to the time of the call to illustrate the events. Warning that it may be disturbing to some.



David Letterman's first show after September 11th. I remember watching this and being very moved by it. It was sad to see the usually funny man David Letterman in this state, but he expressed himself eloquently.



This man heard Live's song Overcome on the way to work when news broke in about the first plane hitting the North Tower. Since the song always represented September 11th to him, he combined it with video footage his wife taped from the news. The result is very powerful and an appropriate ending to this post on September 11th.

Monday, September 04, 2006

I just read the news about Steve Irwin's death. Some may know him as The Crocodile Hunter. I am just so sad over this. It was a freak accident and he was doing what he loved, but he was a positive, good force who shared his love and knowledge of many misunderstood animals with the world. Rarely does one who loves what he does so much, so successfully infect others with that enthusiasm. And, at the same time does such great work as an advocate for animals.

Whenever I had a blue spell, The Crocodile Hunter was a great remedy. Watching Steve, one can't help be affected by his energy and love of life. Such a tragic, sad loss. He was far from done here on this earth. I can only hope those that he inspired can carry on the work he did with rescuing and protecting so many endangered species. And, educating us humans about the creatures with whom we share the earth.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How freakin' cool is this!?

A Juvenile Bald Eagle in my neighborhood

Unfortunately I didn't see this happening literally right on my corner. A juvenile bald eagle decided to hang out in Bolton Hill for a while. Apparently for about an hour. The photo was taken by a Sun reporter and the article is in the paper today. I hope he/she comes back.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Once again, a sweat fest on the Gazelle. It's good, because I'm already feeling better. That is, even though I'm posting this at my usual early AM hour. When I sleep, I sleep a little better and fall asleep faster. It's a step toward regulating it. I still take melatonin, and tonight I'm aiding it with a watered down Amaretto on the rocks. I haven't had a late night Amaretto in a while, and it tastes so good.

Today, while at the coffee shop, a girl wanted to share my table. Of course, this was fine with me. Usually, it's because someone has a laptop they want to plug in, but she simply said, "I like being by the wall." Funny thing is, I totally got that. The reason why many people visit coffee shops is for a feeling it gives them. For her, that best feeling was attained by the brick wall. I liked that she felt both strongly enough about it and confident enough to ask. I was buried in my laptop, so what do I care? It's what community is about.

Another thought of community occured to me in my neighborhood. I was walking by a rowhouse on my street and saw some nice looking sunglasses sitting outside on someone's stoop. So, I rang the bell. Inside, a dog barked and I heard a woman shushing it as she came to the door. She looked out, saw me and opened the door. I introduced myself as her neighbor and told her why I'd rung. Turns out that the glasses weren't hers, she had left them there in case the original owner came back by looking for them. After stepping off her stoop, I had a striking thought that I was someone people felt safe opening the door to, and how lucky I was because of that. I think this particular neighbor would have opened her door to all walks of life, but many wouldn't. I know that I wouldn't, being in this city. However, all doors were open to me.

One night, while visiting the set of our show in a very very bad neighborhood, I saw some stray kittens on my way back. They were young enough to be "domesticated" from their feral state if caught, and eating a discarded chicken bone. I stopped, got out of my car against all better judgement, and tried to coax them to me. They were feral, and even though they were kittens had already learned not to trust the human race. They ran from me despite my slow approach and gentle speak. Behind me, a couple sitting on the stoop of their battered rowhouse watched me. A strange white woman who was moved enough to try to help two kittens in their blighted neighborhood surrounded by project housing. This was where people were shot, stabbed, beaten. Lines of blood had snaked down the street, shiny under the street lights. Most people have only seen areas like it on the news, but I was standing in the middle of it. Just a block away, the creator of the show had insisted on walking me to my car even with a smattering of production people around. Yet, here I was out of it.

The woman half of the couple said to me, "There are more of them. You should get them all." As they spoke, a gorgeous grey spotted cat slinked around them, wanting to be pet. I walked over to them and saw the woman who either didn't like cats or was allergic, shoo him away. I spoke to the little guy to distract him from bothering her, and he flopped himself on his side and purred on the sidewalk. My car still sat in the middle of the street, but no one was driving through this neighborhood at night so it didn't matter. I told them I was hoping to catch the kittens, take them to the vet and find them homes, but that they were too scared. We spoke a little bit. Chit chat, people whose lives were lightyears away but geographically only blocks. Again, I was deemed a safe person, but something in them sensed I knew they were safe as well. I was in their neighborhood. Not just racing through with doors locked. I stopped, we talked. So, for a moment we were reminded we were a community.

I drove away warmed by the experience and haven't spoken about it until now. I didn't want people telling me how stupid I was for stopping and getting out of my car. I wouldn't do it every day, sure. But that night, it wasn't in the cards to be dangerous. I sensed it wasn't. It was meant to be something else.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Karma has come full circle. In my last post, I said I was getting rid of "stuff" in my apartment and mentioned a drafting desk that I gave away. Just a day later, I read an ad on our neighborhood BBS for some you guessed it, free stuff. So, I looked.

Lately, I've been lamenting over selling my Schwinn spinning cycle, therefore leaving me with no way to cardio exercise in the privacy of my own home. I ended up selling that when I was going through my crash while I still lived in Los Angeles. I advertised it on Craig's List, and ended up selling it to a nice man who was a forensic accountant who at the time was working on the Nicole Kidman/Tom Cruise divorce. And no, the item up for grabs wasn't a Schwinn Spinner. It was the Gazelle Freestyle Elite, better known as the funny looking machine that the Screaming Ponytail Man sells on late night infomercials.

Shut up.

I said... Shut up.

To be honest, I was always intrigued by this machine. I know a bit about fitness, and by the looks of it, it seemed to provide a good cardio workout, incorporating the arms, or "above heart" areas that are very important and most neglected when people undertake cardiovascular exercise. Also, it's low impact. I mean, why rush sore knees, joints, and sagging eyelids and jowls? Can't say I'm in a hurry to gain those attributes.

I called the man, a total sweetheart who was moving to Arizona with his wife, and cajoled my stepfather into helping me retrieve it. All said and done, it's in my apartment and from several uses I can honestly say that the thing kicks ass. I'm not really a person who sweats a lot, or so I thought. A half hour on it and I'm dripping sweat. Even after a shower, I'm still sweating from my last half hour go on it.

I decided to try this out of desperation. My sleepless nights had gotten out of control. I was averaging going to bed at three to four in the morning and on many occasions watched the sun rise. Exercise helps regulate sleep, so I went for it. Plus, it was free.

It also spurred me to rearrange my desk/work alcove, where it fits nicely. Not only that, the arrangement is much more attractive. The machine is lightweight, and really doesn't take up any more space that I wasn't using before. I'd already weighed that option anyway and didn't give a shit. Being prone to depression and sleepless nights, I needed a jumpstart out of that cycle. Plus, I want to get back in shape. Mostly, to feel better and tighten up.

It's kind of funny because for extra money, I used to be a typist for AOL chats and other online chats. I only did one, but my training for it was with a girl who was you guessed it, doing a live chat with Tony Little. Even funnier, she had one of the most southern accents I've ever heard. Remember, I have relatives in Arkansas.

The way online chats work, is an AOL moderator fields the gazillions of questions that they get from users and picks the ones to feed to the typist. That is done via the chatroom, and is marked with symbols that identify it as a moderator question. The typist has the interview subject on the phone or in person, and he/she feeds them the questions and then types the answers. Following me? It's the typist's job to control the interview (meaning to moderate if the guest is talking too fast for them) and accurately type the answers. These were freelance gigs through a company that was a hot internet property before the second internet crash.

So, as anyone could imagine, I was anxious to see how this Southern Belle was going to handle the hyperactive Screaming Ponytail Man. Because she was training me, she made the call on speaker. A man answered who was slow spoken, mellow, and sounded like a stoned surfer dude. We figured it was Tony's assistant.

SOUTHERN BELLE: (looking at me) Is Tony there?

TONY LITTLE: (barely audible) This is Tony.

SOUTHERN BELLE and ME: (silence, looking at each other)

Only once during the conversation did he scream like the Tony Little that we knew. Otherwise, he was slow to answer and as energetic as a tortoise in a marijuana field.

My first chat was with The Monkees for Ticketmaster. I had all the Monkees on the phone, and had to type in their names and answers each time they spoke. It was hard, especially since I had to keep asking who was speaking. They were great though.

But back to my free items.

The other item the man was offering was decorative ceiling tins. They are 12x24 inches, with a repeat pattern. The great thing about tins is that they can easily be cut to any size. Luckily, I have a storage unit in the building where those are at the moment. I'd been wanting ceiling tins to add decorative detail to some of my furniture and other items.

But, I haven't given up my quest to minimalism. Looking at my apartment, that would be hard to guess. However, I threw out two contractor bags worth of junk this weekend. Small steps.

For now, I'll leave the larger steps for my new Gazelle.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

There was nothing on TV tonight so I watched the second half of the Teen Choice awards. I didn't even know they were on and it turned out to be good, harmless have on while you clean fare. It was actually entertaining. The funny thing is, were it not for the Pirates premiere, I wouldn't have known who half the people were. Many of them I interviewed.

The treat of the evening was seeing Johnny Depp look so fucking hot accepting his award. And not only that, he was by far the oldest person there, by far the hottest, and way by far, the most popular. Way to carry it Johnny. He was my crush when I was a teenager when he was on Jump Street. Yes, I know he hated being on the show, but it was sure good for me. How great to see that he's completely making a new generation of teens swoon. When he walked out on that stage I think it shocked the entire auditorium that he was there. The screams were deafening. Thankfully I had the ability to turn them down.

So now let's get to the king of the chavs (lower case on purpose), K-Fed. I watched his performance the same way one looks at a car accident, and that's exactly what it was. K-Fed, and whomever agreed to have you on that show, fuck you, you fucking fuck of fucks. How dare you try to kill my and everyone else's Johnny buzz with that talentless, freeloading, wannabenevergonnabe trailer trash. What the hell were you thinking? You knew we would watch, just to see how bad he was, but you had us with Johnny Depp. We were watching already. K-Fed was so painful to watch. Painful. The screams from the teenage girls were minimal, and those were either polite, ones of horror, or an attempt to try to block out the dancing dung beetle that was assaulting them from the stage. Now that I think of it, I don't think they had audience shots during his performance, for fear of what they would reveal. At one point, he jumped into the audience, and I swear people recoiled. I sure as well would have, then taken a bath in Purell just to be safe.

In other news, the middle of August has me quite bored. I've been doing the job search and avoiding the humidity that has once again visited us. I'm in the process of shedding things, organizing, preparing for anything. I guess I could say I'm compartmentalizing. Just in case of well, anything.

I've been particularly annoyed by the amount of unused "stuff" in my apartment. Too many strings that I still haven't managed to sever. Whether it be things I'm stepping over, unfinished projects, papers, clothing, or things I haven't put away. Products I don't use, whatever. I look at it and think how little of it I actually use in a day. But, I can't seem to shed it where I can see a marked difference in the amount of "stuff" I have. I want my home to be a home, not a place where I store "stuff." There are a lot of nice things in my apartment, but lately I'm wondering how it got to this. Luckily, I've been more willing lately to part with it.

For one, I put my art desk in the building lobby late last night with a note on it that it was free for the taking. Next afternoon, it was gone and a thank you note from the first floor neighbor was in its place, telling me it was exactly what she needed. That felt good. In my apartment, it had become a place to hide more junk. Now, it will be used for the purpose it was meant, she is an art student. I was thrilled it could go to good use.

Hopefully, this motion of offering my things and seeing that people want or can use them will translate into my job search, which is really code for my desire to move to the next chapter of my life. It's a step in the right direction, as I believe that we set the patterns of energy for ourselves. This small gesture will be the first in a few of my offerings. Sometimes it's important to validate that others find value and treasure in what you have.