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.