Sunday, June 24, 2007

Shannon and I went out for drinks, then at 2:00 in the morning, nicely warmed by our drinks, went over to Bob's Big Boy, a 24 hour 50's diner to settle our hunger. We were one of many who had emptied the bars and flooded into Bob's. I had pancakes and bacon, Shannon had a double burger. Beside us an old man replete with grandpa shorts, loafers, and calf-high ribbed socks sat by himself. We wondered about him, alone at a table at almost three in the morning. Perhaps he couldn't sleep, and couldn't stand the solitude so he went to Bob's where he knew there would be an abundance of activity. He looked too comfortable to be a one timer, but it was certainly curious.

After Shannon dropped me off, I entered my apartment and went to the bathroom. I was looking forward to a nice warm face wash and brushing my teeth, then settling into bed and letting sleep take me. I turned on the light, and movement above me to my right caught my eye. I looked up, and that's when I saw it.

An enormous cockroach.

No, not a little one. And not a medium one. This one was huge, at least the size of my thumb. It's inch and a half long antennae twitched back and forth as we stared at each other. Behind me, the cats looked at it, then at me like, "this one's all yours." I backed up, closed the door. Instead of getting to wash my face in warm water, brush my teeth and sink into bed, I was now dealing with man's ancient enemy.

My second week in this apartment, I'd forgotten something about California. One morning before going to work I was most rudely reminded of it. I fed the cats and looked to see them trying to eat from their bowls but flinching back from them. I watched them a few seconds and they kept doing it, then backed away from their bowls and sat back and stared at them, watching something that wasn't right with them. I picked up one of the food bowls to see that it was infested with ants. Aware of the movement, several ants marched up my arm and I quickly turned to the sink and dumped out the food, then blasted the water on my arm to get the little buggers off me. I turned back to the cats, and once again, that's when I saw it.

The ant superhighway.

I followed it out the door, hundreds of ants coming and going from underneath my front door, outside the apartment and into a plant bed. It was a scene out of It Happened at Lakewood Manor, except these ants weren't toxic and angry because of chemical dumping. They just smelled a buffet of cat food and wanted their take. Disgusted, I grabbed the Windex and went to work. After emptying the other dish and sending the food and more ants down the garbage disposal, I sprayed that highway and created one hell of a traffic jam. Then, I vacuumed up the carcasses. After work, I bought ant repellent and bait to put outside my door. So far, no more ants.

But back to the freak of nature in my bathroom.

Luckily, I'd remembered the Raid ant spray. I grabbed it from under the kitchen sink and entered the bathroom, still in my strappy heels, skinny jeans, push up bra, sparkly top and beaded shawl. I took a deep breath, aimed and fired. A forceful stream of insect nerve gas made a direct hit, and my adversary launched himself off the wall and landed on the counter with a thud. I cringed, jumped back, fired again. He flailed, climbed back up the wall toward the bath tub. He was so big he made the noise a mouse would had it suddenly gained Spidey capabilities. Scratch, scratch, tap tap. I fired again, he fell into the tub and I watched in revulsion as he scaled the other side of the glass sliding door. I waited for him to come out, but he went in between the two doors. I could hear him inside, scratch, scratch, tap tap. I feared he would hide there but I saw the long antennae stick out and feel around. I readied myself, arm extended, stance firm, Raid locked and loaded. A prickly arm emerged, then the fat big body. I fired, he launched to the floor and scurried under a clear plastic bag on the floor, thrashing around in panic inside. I can't describe the sound of it.I kept thinking that this was an insect making this noise. Not a mammal, an insect.

Though I'd wanted to avoid it, I decided to try and stomp on it. It was under the plastic, it wouldn't get on my shoe and toes. I just didn't think I could take the sound. It thrashed around some more, and without thinking, I covered my ears, stomped on the plastic and jumped back.

I'd missed. He still thrashed angrily inside. I wasn't up for another try.

Behind me, the cats watched.

Finally, the bug made its way out of the bag and limped toward me. It was finally showing signs of the effects of the Raid but was still moving fast. It turned a corner and hid behind a plastic storage tub, and I blasted it again. Finally, it rolled on its back and died.

Now, I had a whole other problem on my hands. I called Shannon. Told him of my battle. He spoke to me as I tried to figure out how I was going to get the roach off the floor and into the toilet. I wasn't picking it up. Oh HELL no. Finally, I found a padded envelope sturdy enough to support his weight. Shannon listened as I tried to get the beast onto the envelope. I was cringing over the phone. It's body was juicy, fat and had give, and wouldn't slide easily onto the envelope. It was like pushing against a big gummi roach. Finally, I got it and pitched it into the toilet. I flushed, three times. I didn't want it floating up and greeting me in the morning.

After that, I cleaned up a little, washed my face, brushed my teeth and sank into bed like I'd wanted. I wasn't worried about another one. I'd lived there for a month and not seen anything more than the ants, a couple spiders, and a cricket that met an unfortunate end in the cat's water dish.

The next day, I saw two of my neighbors in the courtyard and asked about my visitor. They nodded their heads, and said the roach came from outside. They said not to worry as they aren't from in the building, and told me to check for holes in my screens. Sure enough, when I went to my bathroom I noticed the screen in the window over the tub was loose. They also told me that the cats would get them. That is probably true. Atticus loves to bug chase, and now that he's seen one and my expert and calm finesse in handling one, he'll step up.

In the meantime, I'll be trying to get that screen secure.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

There's a whole nightlife that goes down just a couple blocks from my apartment at the 24 hour Kinkos. I walked in at around 10:00 PM, expecting my choice of computer stations and was surprised to see all but one taken. Before I left for LA, my printer kicked the bucket and I've had to go down there to print when I can't do it at work. These were color documents of my writing work as they appeared on the advertisements magazines, web sites, catalogs, or CD ROM's that I've done. Among me were screen writers, teachers, three people working on some huge project and most notably the odd little older man that brings in enough computer equipment, complete with DVD player to watch Alias while working, that he has to wheel it all in in a wheelchair. After setting up, he sits in his wheelchair, headphones over his mop of grey hair and works on something that I haven't been able to figure out. So of course, being me...I pulled over a Kinko's employee.

ME: (motions with finger at Kinko's dude.)

KINKOS DUDE: (Walks over) Do you need something?

ME: (Surreptitiously) What's up with the dude in the wheelchair with all the equipment? Is he launching the space shuttle or something?

KINKOS DUDE: I don't know what he works on, but he's a Fed.

ME: Shut up.

KINKOS DUDE: Yeah, the manager saw his ID for something.

ME: You sure it was real?

KINKOS DUDE: Yep, but we don't know what he works on. He's here every night.

ME: But why does he come here to work?

KINKOS DUDE: (Shrugs shoulders and does a "beats me" gesture.)

I asked him if he was putting one over on me, and he swore he wasn't. Who knows, but he's an interesting character to say the least.

I interviewed at another creative temp agency with a great woman recruiter who really seemed to "get" my experience and who I was. I presented my Kinko's created portfolio to her and she asked me really interesting questions about the work. It showed she was really trying to understand what I did on these projects instead of "oh, that's great" and not even digging deeper. She was very perceptive and I feel safe in her hands. She introduced me around the office and told the other recruiting agents about my experience better than I ever could have explained it. She also gave me some great tips on my resume. And, it was she who suggested that I print the stuff out in the first place. Good call, and much easier than pointing to a monitor.

I'm still working at the non-creative temp agency as positions in my field flirt with me. The other creative staffing agency keeps sending out job notices and I throw my hat in. Like I said, it's only a matter of time before I land something full time. I'm growing impatient though. While I like the people at my "pay the bills" job, the job isn't stimulating creatively. It does however, allow me to look for jobs while there, and they allowed me time off today for the interview. If I have an interview for a real job, that comes first and they know that as long as I give them a day or two's notice. So, I can't complain on that front.

Shannon and I went out to eat tonight and talked about where we were. We ate a place in Hollywood near a coffee shop where I'd done plenty of life assessing and journal writing. I saw people that reminded me of me and my friends as we'd sit outside it and chat over coffee, and was glad that I wasn't "there" anymore. At the bar, we even talked to a girl who said she lived on Beachwood Canyon. I threw my old address at her and she said, "Oh my God, that's my building." Unbelievable. She lives in 104, I lived in 114. The connections keep happening, and are novel still. It's like I'm reading my past journals, but they've sucked me into their pages and I'm now living among the memories.

On Sunday night, I dragged Shannon out to a bar and we drank until closing time. I needed some cosmos, and he picked me up and we hung out at a cool looking place lit as red as the drink in my martini glass. The place was surprisingly busy for a school night, but I think that was the whole point. Everyone, like me was in the mood to be a little bad. It was hard to get up in the morning but worth it.

I still have moments of confusion. I think I'm going to run into people that I know from Baltimore, usually triggered by someone who looks like them. Then I realize where I am and shake it off. It doesn't feel like I'm that far from family, maybe because of all the trips back and forth while I was there. Really, they are but a few hours away. Plus, my other family is here in the form of my dear friends. The ones I was missing the entire time I was in Baltimore and am thrilled to be able to grab on a bar run or like Cathy, who when she found herself in my neighborhood called me up and all of a sudden I've got a Saturday playmate. Two in fact, as she brought her four year old son Alexander who was fascinated by my cats. They in turn, were terrified of him and hid.

I'll try to post more, but I'm still letting all this sink in.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

John at John's Adventures wrote an interesting entry about the lost art of the hand written note. He even went so far as to demonstrate it by handwriting his blog entry. By the way, after checking out his blog, look at his incredible photos.

It was a timely entry, as I had been thinking a lot about switching over to writing by hand to write my fiction. Perhaps it's the move and getting used to new surroundings, but I haven't really felt like producing as of late. It took me almost two weeks to even enter the laundry room, much less sit down and write as if things were like they always were.

I'd even contemplated quitting this blog, as my personal hand written journals have suffered greatly as a result. When I read them, there is much more of a natural thought process that is there than when I'm blogging. With the blog, I can backspace and rewrite. With the hand written journals, what goes down on paper stays there, recording the stops and starts of my thoughts as they appeared in real time. Or, if I had to scribble over something that I wrote to make it more clear. The journals all smell like coffee, as most of the entries were written in coffee shops, so they carry a sensory memory as well.

John told me that if I quit blogging he'd feel like an orphan. He was one of my first readers and sent me an email telling me I was completely mad. I think I was still in Los Angeles, but was in the process of moving out. Out of nowhere I get an email across the ocean from someone I don't know telling me I'm mad. At first I didn't know what to think, then it cracked me up. I have to say that journals certainly don't yield those kind of results.

Anyway...

Sometimes upon waking up and even during waking hours I'll have a spell of not knowing where I am for a few seconds. No, not in the literal sense, but I'll think to myself, "When I get back to LA I'm going to..." or "Oh it would be nice to be able to..." and then I'll realize that I'm already here and that I can indeed go to Urth Caffe if I want to and that all the things I yearned for are right here. Same when looking for jobs. I can apply to them because I'm here.

I've gone out a few times since being back and it's been great. Working at the temp agency is working out perfectly and I've been able to manage a freelance writing job that has come my way. The creative recruiting agency dangled a carrot in front of my face, then snatched it away. The job would have paid $85,000 a year and would have been writing for a hip national clothing company. However, upon seeing my resume the company realized I was... God I hate this term, "over qualified" and that what they needed didn't require someone with the resume that I had. So, the requirements for the job went down, as did the salary and therefore they went with someone who had less experience. I walked around gloomy for half a day until I found out that was the reason. That kind of money would have been a nice bonus for the cool job, especially since I'm determined to keep my living expenses low. Thing is, I'm looking for a right fit first over a high salary. If the money is that good after the fact, well gee that's just even more wonderful. I won't settle for less than I'm worth, but I also won't take something just because it pays well. Been there, done that. No thank you.

My apartment is looking really nice and I've gotten to know a few residents. I think just about everyone works in the entertainment industry. I was lying on my couch and had the windows open, and a couple of people walked down the stairs and passed my window. I heard one of them say that "she's fixed her place really nice," and smiled. I have some great furniture and it indeed looks nice. I've also taken care to get the artwork I have framed very nicely and it really makes a difference in wall decor. Now, just to get the last items put away and I'll be golden.