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 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.