Thursday, May 25, 2006

Posting has slowed again, I know. I've decompressed, now I'm moving toward boredom. Luckily, I'm keeping myself somewhat busy with my personal projects and job searching. The weather has been weird here. More chilly than I would expect at this time of year. The students are gone, so our pedestrian traffic isn't as varied and colorful as a result.

I've started uploading more pictures to my Flickr account. What a great service! Someone awhile ago had asked me if I had taken pictures when they were filming the Nicole Kidman movie on my street. I've posted a few up there which you should view at full size to see the blurry details. The lighting was weird, being wholly artificial, so the results aren't ideal. I'll be uploading more as I can. Since then, they filmed a TV pilot in that same spot.

I've also posted pictures of Sammy, the six-toed cat, and a couple from Mexico. Maintaining it is a lot of work, but rewarding. And my God, there are some talented photographers out there. What a great concept, photo sharing. All these lives going on at the same time, pictures of places, people, and animals that are important to them. Little freeze frames of the world that are otherwise nonexistent to us.

But back to my boredom. The upside of it is that it forces me into a sea of no purpose to see what I feel like doing. Kind of like a baseline when taking a lie detector test. I'm not chained to a desk, saying "If I weren't here I'd be basejumping." Now, I'm not there. So from that baseline, I'm clearing my mind and seeing where it leads me. What's important, and helps accomplish this, is that I've allowed myself to not feel I have to spend this entire time off being productive. In all honesty, since we wrapped I haven't felt like being productive in a creative sense. I still write, as that's a given, but haven't pursued any other endeavors. I guess I'm just fine with that for now. Fine to let that baseline settle and see exactly where I am.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Something got into me the other night. A wave of motivation that's been eluding me for a long time. I saw a job listing and applied for it, and in doing that physical and mental action of writing the cover letter and sending my resume, something else released. I knew that I had to update my online portfolio since what existed there was a wreck. So, I began to update it. That's when the wave of energy and confidence came over me. I was looking at proof that there was a place where I could shine.

I've always been confident in my work, but rarely felt I was in a place where I was comfortable showing off. I always frustratingly fell short of waking the little girl in me who used to do back handsprings across the gym, the playground, the yard, wherever there was a flat surface that could support double digits of back handsprings. I was such a show off. Even more so at the pool. I swam like a fish and despite my trepidation at my first leap off the high board, was soon doing flips and twists off the spring boards and high board. Trips to pools were a chance for me to outdo the other kids with my diving and swimming skills. I practically spilled out of the car before it parked in anticipation of showing everyone who was boss of the pool. Luckily for me, I didn't run into any 10-year-old phenoms bound for the Olympics.

Oddly, I was wondering the other day where that girl went. Why was she discouraged so easily lately from calling attention to her abilities? Were I still that little girl, it would be the equivalent of anxiously sitting out while I watched kids do cartwheels, all the while knowing I could back handspring, aerial cartwheel, and back flip circles around them.

In my adult years, I no longer want to outshine others, but to shine in another way. That is, to be in a place emotionally where the best of my abilities come out. Through my copywriting jobs, I found a place that comes pretty close to that. So, that night, putting together my portfolio, I felt good, confident and well, right. I worked on it until 5:30AM. I didn't have to work on it all night but was in a zone, enjoying watching the body of work come together and the process of packaging myself so I won't be mistaken for anything but a copywriter, writer, and creative professional. Since I've finished it, I've had several inquiries into my availability, one being that very job that I applied to. As a matter of fact, the very first job that I applied to since the show ended.

I'd be lying if I said that didn't feel good.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I was walking home from Rite-Aid on Sunday, having caved into my craving for Smart White Cheddar popcorn and Coca-Cola. Plus, it was a nice day and I wanted to walk, pet the neighborhood cats and smell the various bouquets of blooming gardens. I was thinking what a beautiful neighborhood that I lived in and how picturesque it is. I had just come up on my mom's church, located a short block from me, when I saw the white car blow the stop sign at what had to be seventy miles per hour.

Our neighborhood is one that is regulated by stop signs, since it is just that. A very well kept, historical city neighborhood. Not many like it exist anymore. There is a restaurant, a coffee shop and some through traffic, but not anything that would beg for stop lights. Plus, the cross streets are short blocks, much better suited for stop signs.

When I recovered from what I'd just seen, I couldn't believe someone would be driving so recklessly. That disbelief was soon replaced by horror at the sound of screeching tires, then an unbelievable crash. I flinched at the sound of it like I was shielding myself.

Ho-ly fuck.

Oops. I was in front of a church.

Oh my.

Smoke billowed from the direction of the crash and I ran toward it, as did everyone else who was walking at the time. Stuart, a priest, ran out of the church, shock on his face, more so when he saw the look on mine, and asked me what that noise was.

"It was a car," I said, "It ran the stop sign. They were driving way too fast." I was out of breath, not from running but from adrenaline at hearing that awful noise.

Just as I said that, two cop cars crossed the intersection toward the crash. As Stuart and I rounded the corner, the cars squealed into an alley where neighbors were pointing. The white car was in the middle of the street, doors wide open, airbags deployed, windshield cracked and billowed outward from the impact.

"They ran into that yard!" A neighbor screamed and pointed. The two patrol cars that had sped in the alley had already passed the house that she indicated, and neighbors were trying to signal them back. One guy was in the middle of the road, knees bent, looking like a coach signaling a runner to take home plate, both arms out, palms flat and toward his face, repeatedly pumping his arms in a "come on" motion. I looked back where the white car had come from, and saw a cavalry of patrol cars barreling down the street, lights flashing, sirens going. I jumped up and down, signaled to them to come to the alley, pointing at the house where two men had run. At least twenty neighbors were in the street, sidewalk, or in the alley, all of us pointing the way.

Seconds later, a helicopter joined chase, as patrol officers who had spilled out of their cars tried to scale the wall or ran down the alley. It was pandemonium, as more neighbors who had heard that sickening crash, came outside. There were probably a hundred people all together. One girl had been in the middle of a hair cut and walked around with wet hair and a smock. Another man who had come out of the church was dressed in a green kilt with a golden cross around his neck that hung outside his buttoned up shirt. In the swell of people, police, dogs, cars and dissipating smoke, the damage started to become clear.

Three cars total were hit. Thankfully, that's all that was hit. If anyone had been crossing that walk, they would have been killed. Same if they had been broadsided on driver's side. In Baltimore, the police have a no chase policy, and the bad guys weren't being chased like you see in Los Angeles. There was a lull between the car racing across the intersection and the cop cars that followed it. As I found out later, the driver and passenger were in a stolen car and panicked when they saw a police car. Therefore getting the attention of the cavalry.

Of the damage to the parked cars, one car's driver side panel was peeled off like someone had taken a can opener to it. The window washing fluid container lay on the street. The car was hit with such force that it was pushed on top of the hood of a station wagon behind it, crushing its hood. The station wagon hissed and smoked, an acrid smell that made me cough. After that, the stolen car had careened across the street and hit another car in the rear, knocking it about eight feet.

The crooks then bailed out, scaled a tall wooden fence into the backyard of a house, busted down the door, ran through and out the front door. The helicopter had them in sight all along, and the two were apprehended a couple streets over. Because they broke into the house, which was luckily unoccupied and for sale, an officer told me that they'll get a burglary charge tacked on to their day of fun.

When the cops announced that they caught them, they got a round of applause from us and lots of thanks. Too rarely given to officers in Baltimore. Also, in many city neighborhoods, the people in them wouldn't have directed the police to the bad guys. The same officer told me that they could see us pointing the way and that it really helped.

All of the owners of the damaged cars took it as best they could. They were comforted by those of us around them, but all of us, even the car owners, were glad it was just property that was damaged. That whole scenario could have been so much worse, and the reality of that lingered in the air just like the smoke around us.

After the excitement, I went straight to my mom and Jack's house and told them what had happened just around the block from them. I'd lost my appetite for Smart popcorn and Coke, but willingly accepted the offer of a Cosmopolitan.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Work is done. I'm a free agent once again and it feels great. Last night, MICA students who are near finishing their year were celebrating last night. Yells, laughter, parties, excited voices talking, I felt a sense of camaraderie with them. I had finished something too. I'd graduated my second year with The Wire, and was feeling the same mixture of anticipation, accomplishment and excitement that they were. Not only that, I'd been a good student. That is, at my job. I finished the continuity book with three days to spare, and that included a day of lost work for jury duty. The continuity book needed a four inch binder, if you want to get an idea of what a huge project it was. Not only that, I did a good job on it. I dare anyone to not be able to find something in it that relates to Season Four.

That day, David Simon took us out to lunch at a wonderful place called Ze Mean Bean. It was Eastern European food, yummy. We talked, laughed, shared stories. There were six of us total, so it was intimate and a great last day.

Now, I must turn my attention to another huge project. The purging of my apartment. The papers have stacked up again, as have things I don't need in the house. The great thing is, I have the time. Especially since my cable, internet, and telephone was knocked out on Thursday, and still is. I'm posting from Starbucks, paying $10.00 for a day worth of wireless. When I leave the coffee shop, I'll be incommunicado again but for a cell phone I'm borrowing from my mom.

As far as jury duty, I wrote the below on May 4th.

I'm sitting in Caribou coffee on break from jury duty. It's my dad's birthday today. Happy birthday Dad! Is this your gift to me on your big day? Jury duty? ;). Really, you shouldn't have!

Anyway, so here I sit with an hour to kill, an iced mocha and blueberry muffin by my side. They called my number, I got sworn in, had to go up and say that I had been the victim of a crime, and no, that it wouldn't affect my ability to be impartial as lawyers, defendant, judge craned their necks to hear me. I'm suffering from a loss of voice due to fatigue, being the end of our show and everything else, and it makes me sound like a very husky Demi Moore. That may be sexy, but the thing is I can't speak that loudly. And though I spoke softly, it was the truth. The crime that happened to me wouldn't prejudice me. What those people did to me has nothing to do with the man who is on trial today. I also didn't take that crime personally. Those people didn't know me, I wasn't mortally injured, I got to have my say, and they didn't get my shit. ;)

Court is a fascinating thing. As we walked down the long marbled hallway to the courtroom, family members of other defendants or victims eyed us and the juror stickers on our shirts. Some made comments, others giggled in discomfort at our presence. We were the people who might decide the fate of someone they knew. Us, or those like us. The whole court theatre was a show just for us, the jury. Everything from the way defendants dress, to lawyer's arguments are for the sake of the jury. It was a little embarrassing, to be honest. I felt like the hall monitor in school that was walking by the rest of the students. My mere presence was as much a reality to them as theirs was to me. It was sinking in for all of us.

I saw a woman in handcuffs being escorted into a courtroom. She wore grey leggings and a top made out of the same material just as tight. She was a big woman with a big posterior and her butt jiggled like grey gelatin as she strutted inside. The people accused become just that. People. They aren't images on television or caricatures of bad guys. They are people who have been caught by a system because of their inability to co-exist peacefully and lawfully in society, or because of a number of circumstances that brought them to trial. Perhaps they are completely innocent. Either way, they ended up in court.

While waiting in the jury holding room before getting called into the courtroom, I fell asleep a few times. I'd gone out drinking with coworkers the night before, didn't stay late, but with my state of fatigue, anything contributes to my tiredness. I put on my sunglasses and nodded off. During my awake moments, a woman who sat next to me told me that one of her friends was a victim of the sniper attack, cut down at a gas station. The trial for that sicko is going on now, which is what brought it up. We weren't sure what our trial was going to be for, and talked about trials in the news. I felt that unmistakable fatigue come on again, and went into the quiet room where I nodded off again. I awoke, and heard our numbers called.

This trial is supposed to last two days. Nothing at work that I can't do on Monday, but I don't want to do it on Monday. Monday, I'm supposed to be finished, and I'm ready to have my head clear of the show for awhile. I can't even begin to describe how hard I worked to get this all in on time, and not just that, but done well. For the last two months, I've worked nights and weekends on this book. Because of that, I'm ready for my break.