Sunday, February 25, 2007

Snow, rain, and slush here in Baltimore.

Another box packed, soon to start another one. I look around the house and wonder if I should pack books or lighter bulky items. I can't do too many books because they weigh so much, but I don't know if I have enough light bulky items that I won't need in the next month or decide to sell.

So instead, I'm instead doing laundry.

The Oscars play in the background, I'm mostly waiting to see Helen Mirren win for The Queen. Such an incredible actress and a nice lady. I interviewed her on the red carpet at the Pirates premiere, before the buzz had officially started. In the sea of stars who were about looks and attitude, she was a true actress. I'd admired her work for a long time and was excited when I saw her name on the list of possible attendees. The scene was a madhouse with a parade of people coming down the red carpet. She was standing, talking to her publicist, and I spotted her. I caught the publicist's eye and pointed to Helen. Her publicist kicked into action and brought her over. I was the first of the journalists in our space to spot her and had her all to myself. Such a gracious, classy lady with absolutely no pretense nor attitude. Not a bit of plastic surgery and she looked gorgeous. I didn't need the buzz of her Oscar nomination to know a she was a powerhouse of an acting talent. Now, she's instantly recognizable to those who were busy looking for the stars currently championed by youth obsessed Hollywood. I'm thrilled to have been able to interview her even for a few moments about Pirates of the Caribbean, which very deservedly won tonight for special effects.

Shannon, my super talented photographer friend took these wonderful pictures of Helen while I was interviewing her. An editor for Wikipedia liked them so much that he asked permission to use them. Once I was finished, the other journalists jumped at the chance to interview her. She better win for The Queen tonight.

I've been temping and not looking forward to the cold walk to the subway in the morning, but am glad to have something to do with my days. The work is easy and I'm appreciated. Temping is great because I've gotten to meet a lot of smart people in a short time and see many types of businesses at work. All of them are around the same area downtown which is great because I can take the subway to and from work. It's a freedom from car that I enjoy, save for the cold walks after a snowy icy storm. The building where I work is located on top of a mall with you guessed it, a Starbucks. I don't even have to leave the building to go to the mall and took advantage of that last week to get a manicure. During the days, which go quickly, I work, listen to the radio, and pitch in wherever I can.

When I temp, I feel like I have a fun little secret in that I have a lot of high level job experience but the people I work for don't know how capable I am until they get to know me. I'm a temp, and enter with the people who are at best, hoping that I'm halfway intelligent. At the same time, I'm extremely willing to work and take pride in doing a good job. I don't care that it's not interviewing Helen Mirren on the red carpet or working as a researcher at BMW with a car design team on a concept 7-Series car. At my temp jobs, I take the same attitude to work as well as respect for the people who are there. It just so happens that I'm there to work and help make someone's job easier. It's all relevant, doing a the best that one can do on a job because doing so becomes a habit. On my current job, within the first ten minutes the woman who was setting me up to work said, "I get a good feeling from you. How long are you available?" Perhaps its the little sister in me that will always be seeking approval, but it feels good to be told I'm smart and appreciated. At the same time, I enjoy seeing smart people at work and learning about the different things that they do for a living. This job was supposed to be for one week but I was asked to come for a second week. Now, they are asking if I might be available for a third.

Speaking of recognition and a job well done, Helen Mirren just won for best actress. All is good for this girl.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Yesterday it was so cold that I slept through most of the day. It was below freezing and my body, sensitive to the drafts in my large over 100-year-old apartment resisted my attempts to wake. That, and the fact that I was in mid-dream that I was hanging out with Johnny Depp. Every time he started to fade and be replaced by the stark light coming through my curtains, I clinched my eyes shut to continue my dream. Until around 5:00 pm, I was successful.

Granted, I'd stayed up until 4:00 AM the night before reading, but there was no reason in the world for me to leave Johnny for a cold day in Baltimore. I'm one of those people who can control my dreams. If I wake, I can fall back asleep to emerge, as if beamed down by Scotty, exactly where I was when I left. My dream compatriots are usually looking at me in a "thought you disappeared" look. After assuring them it was only their imagination, we continue where we left off. When I appeared back in front of Johnny, had that same look on his face, then took my hand and escorted me to a car in a theme park parking lot. Some people on the way recognized him and after getting their pictures taken with him, handed us both one dollar bills. I was reluctant to take one, but Johnny said to go ahead as it would insult them if I didn't. After taking my tip, I asked him if people always gave him money like that. He told me that yes, they did. I thought that was odd, since people knew he had money.

Finally, I woke and sludged around in slow motion until I went to a neighborhood party that my across the street neighbor invited me to. It was fun to meet so many neighbors whom had slipped my acquaintance over the last couple of years. My neighbor, me and a few others were the youngest by years, but it was fun to chat with the older set. The detached house was a fabulous place, adorned by artifacts from the time the owner lived in Turkey. So many memories, things touched and coveted. All with a story. I've always wanted to see inside her house and now I have. I'd taken pictures of her garden before in the spring, and always pet the woman's all white cat named Brenda. Brenda was there, slinking around the legs of every guest, determined to have everyone take home a parting gift of her white fur.

I spoke to my other friends the next day and found that most of them had slept through that cold day as well. As had my mother. I wonder if Johnny Depp was in all of their dreams.

I've packed another box, and decided to sell even more things. I may have a buyer for my television set, but time will tell. I also perused apartment listings last night and found some possibilities to look into once I arrive. I'm in between storage or just renting a place and doing things only once. I've emailed all of them, mostly managed buildings because that makes the most sense for the first year, and will see what actual costs will be.

Last night we had my cousins over with their little ones. I held Turner in my lap, a snuggly baby with a mellow demeanor. So cute, and Lane, who is two years old was a darling little lady full of energy. Both cousins are lawyers, smart girls. One, I should correct myself is in law school, but she graduated from the Hotel School at Cornell. The other cousin did Princeton and then NYU, I believe. Both graduated from Taft High school as well, while the third sister, the oldest graduated from Exeter, then did Princeton and Berkeley. I hope I have all the girls and who went to either high school right. Like I said, smart girls. So incredibly sweet and unassuming though, and they all won the lottery with their husbands. Most important, they all appreciate my smart ass sense of humor. I'm going to miss having them nearby. The third cousin I mentioned however, is still living in the Berkeley area I believe. Me, I went to art school, a damn good one. Hey, even us black sheep can represent for the family.

Just ask Johnny Depp.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

To all of you who asked, no I didn't get the gig. It's okay, because I figured I had about a 40% chance. One, of me taking it if it were offered, and two, because they wanted someone to start Monday. I was on the fence because in order to take it, it had to be a good financial decision. In Los Angeles, I would have to have a car, so there would be rental and at least three weeks of finding a place to stay. I just wouldn't feel right about being an obnoxious house guest at Cathy and Reese's for the entire month. I think the job people realized that it just wasn't going to be possible for me to start on Monday, and upon learning that my chances were pretty much shot. Especially since I was interviewing on a Friday. They were nice people and I think that I made a good impression on them.

Truth is, I needed a trip out to LA, if anything to wander the streets and take it in. It was weird being there thinking that I might live there again. As I packed another box tonight, this one full of framed art that was small and light enough to be boxed, I asked myself if I was running away. After some pondering, I could honestly say that no, I'm not. The important thing is that I also realized I'm not running to anywhere either. I'm just making a change, a little older and wiser for the journey. I am worried about the stress it will put on my cats though. My dad has offered to drive cross country with me. That would be great to have the company. Dad, I know you read this blog, so just to let you know I may take you up on it!

My mom was talking about the distance, and for some reason that also seems different to me now. It doesn't seem so far away, I guess, being just a flight away. Literally, a few hours if we're talking in country. There were sometimes after a trip that I'd be walking in my neighborhood and look at my shoes, and think that the very soles that were touching the concrete in Baltimore had been walking the sidewalks of Los Angeles that very same day. I'd do the reverse when I lived in Los Angeles and marvel at it. So, distance is just that.

I am however, going to totally miss living so close to everyone. Especially my mom and Jack. I'll miss walking over there to watch Lost, and 24 and drink our Cosmos that Jack makes for us. In between of course, teasing us for liking both shows so much. That will be hard, knowing they aren't steps away. But, they understand that Baltimore has been a fight for me since I've arrived here and I've never adjusted. It was also supposed to be a short term stay, a year or so, but because of my job with The Wire, that stay was extended. I'm in denial just how much I'll miss them.

I also miss my Wire coworkers already, but it was time for me to move on. I made some great connections there in the writer's office, but of course the way I think about it, that is secondary to the human experience I had while there.

Jack totally surprised my mom and me with get this, a Valentines Day gift! And a fabulous one at that. He bought us each a "Sweetheart Day at the Spa," with massage, facial and pedicure, and also threw in cash for the tip. I've been wanting all three forever, having seriously slacked on my spa life, and was totally excited, as was my mom. So, we're going to have a girls' spa day at a time when we can both do it. A super nice gift and extremely thoughtful. The package also came with a box of Godiva chocolates. He's also taking us out to dinner that day to Louisiana. Completely incredible restaurant. Way to go, Jack!

I plan to sell some stuff on Craig's List soon. I've never done it, so if any of you are experienced at this and have any tips out there please send them along. I'm completely clueless on it, and selling things that I'm not going to take with me is the thing I'm dreading the most. Absolutely dreading it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Driving in Beverly HillsI had a little side trip to Los Angeles on Thursday and stayed until Sunday. It was for a job interview that was completely unplanned, so I had to rush to get everything together, including hotel and the okay to be an obnoxious house guest at Cathy and Reese's where I would stay the other two nights.

The entire time I was preparing for the trip, I was asking myself why I was doing this for a month contract job, albeit a great opportunity. Even while in the air, flying over the moonlit ridges of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, I wondered. My face pressed against the plexiglass of the plane window, looking tens of thousands of feet below to the snow covered rugged terrain. It was crystal clear and freezing outside, making for optimum viewing even though it was night time. Occasionally, a single light dotted the landscape and I wondered who was out there all by themselves. This was indeed a single light, not a town nor cluster of buildings. A ranger's post? Secluded cabin? Surely they were running on generated power, being so isolated in the mountains. Other times, cities would pass underneath, their grids of light glowing orange and bright. In smaller towns I could see two-lane roads and the tiny pin lights of a car snaking below. I thought of how the car's occupants couldn't know that they had an observer over thirty thousand feet above them, wondering what music or talk radio station they were listening to, if warm air from the heater brushed against their knuckles as they gripped the wheel, what they were talking about if there were more than one, and who they were. I didn't know the name of their town or what state they were in, but I could see that they were out on a cold night and wondered about their human experience. Then, my thoughts would drift back to my own travels and whether I was right to go.

Finally, as my connecting flight took off in Salt Lake City, I decided that worse came to worse, I got to see old friends and spend a weekend in Los Angeles. Also, to make an impression on a couple more souls there who have hiring and recommending capabilities. I'd gotten into the whole situation after I was contacted by a recruiter for the position. She'll have more jobs coming so I looked at it as doing a little networking.

After the interview, I pulled a great one on my friend Shannon, completely surprising him that I was in town. He lived minutes from where I had the interview, and the stunt went off perfectly. I called him on my cell, talked to him like I would normally. It was everything I could do to keep the smile out of my voice. He asked me what was going on, I said not much. I was parked on the street outside his bungalow apartment, and when I asked him what was up, he said the same. I said, "Oh yeah? Step outside your house." He did, I stepped out of my car, and boy was he surprised. Couldn't have gone off better. Luckily, he was just about to go grab a bite to eat before clients came to his house, so we were able to spend some time together. Every time I see Shannon, it's like no time has passed since the last time. The next day, we spent more time together and between bouts of hysterical laughter, chatted and caught up on stories.

Cathy and Reese were awesome as usual, and Alexander, their son is adorable and scary smart. He's four and a half years old and very sweet. We played Chutes and Ladders, which I won, and another game which I can't remember. It was fun, gentle and innocent. Cathy had unluckily gotten stuck in traffic due to an enormous crane falling on the 405 which shut it down on a Friday afternoon. I'd heard about the crane and decided to wait a bit before attempting to get to their house on the 101. Luckily for me, the snafu which crippled every street in Los Angeles was on the other side of the 101, cutting off the huge masses that usually use it to get home. I pretty much sailed to their house. In contrast, it took Cathy almost two hours to get home.

That night, while in bed I heard the yapping and howling of coyotes outside my window. Cathy and Reese live in the hills and are frequently visited by them. It was a full moon, and laid in bed, covers up to my neck and listened to their eerily beautiful chatter.

On my return trip, I didn't have the LAX sleepover experience that I had the last time I flew to Los Angeles, getting on both my flights back. I was sure I wouldn't make the flight from SLC to Baltimore, because it had a total of four open seats when I checked in the morning. For a standby passenger, that means full. However, when I arrived at the ticket counter out of breath and ready for bad news, my boarding pass was waiting for me. I said, "Really?" It was then that I professed my love for the female ticket agent.

Before that, for the flight from Los Angeles to SLC, I had to endure a large group of adults who were way too awake at 5:45 in the morning. The flight left at 6:20 AM and I'd risen at 4:00 AM to dress and be at Enterprise by 5:00AM to turn in the car. From there, I took the shuttle to the airport, had my bottled water confiscated that I'd forgotten was in my purse at security, and walked a mile long underground tunnel to another terminal. I was hot, tired, but knew I would probably get on the flight since there were plenty of seats available.

While waiting, they arrived. About twenty 40-ish couples traveling together on a ski trip. From what I could tell, they were going to Aspen and had done this before. While everyone else was content with being quiet, they were in full animated vacation mode. I moved away from them in the waiting area and hoped that I'd sit far away from them on the plane. Before they'd arrived, I'd hoped that I didn't get stuck by the huge Samoan man, squished in my seat. I'd immediately changed preferences, putting Huge Samoan Man at #2 in my "I hope I don't sit by them" list.

Sure enough, when I boarded I sat right in the middle of the group. First, the wife was in my seat which irked me. They were obviously hoping no one would fill the window seat and had made themselves at home with an empty middle seat. People, do that after the fucking door closes, not when people are still boarding. I waited, as did the line of people behind me as they moved their things and repositioned themselves in their correct seats, then stood up to let me in. The rest of the group was beside me, behind me, in front of me, passing around their snacks, talking loudly, cracking jokes, counting heads for plans that they'd already made at the resort. While everyone waited for people to settle, we had to endure things like this:

Wife 1: Anyone want some blueberries?

Man 1: Sure. (Wife 1's Husband clumsily passes the blueberries to the man in my row who passes them to the next row to Man 1.)

Man 2: Hey, those increase your sex drive, right?

Group: Laughs aloud raucously.

Man 1: Yeah.

Man 2: Uh oh. Keep those away from me then.

Group: Laughs aloud raucously.

Me, along with the rest of the plane: (Silently contemplating a beat down.)

Didn't they understand it was morning? Morning. Still dark outside kind of morning. I longed for Huge Samoan Man. He would have probably let me nestle my head on his large, fleshy shoulder and sung me sweet island songs as I drifted off to sleep.

Luckily for us, once the engines kicked in they drowned most of them out. And, the flight was only to Salt Lake City from Los Angeles. The SLC to Baltimore leg went fast, mainly because I fell asleep during part of it and we had that tail wind behind us that pushed us home. My mom met me at the airport and I was home by 5:00 PM Eastern time.

The weather here greeted me with an arctic blast. Yesterday, it was 89 degrees in LA. Now, that was after I left, but it was in the high seventies. In Baltimore yesterday, it was 19 degrees with an index of 5 degrees. Overnight, it dipped to 4 degrees with a below zero index. Currently, it's 25 degrees with an index of 11 degrees. Snow is expected tonight.

Welcome back to reality.