Thursday, December 25, 2008

To all of you who celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas from me, Scout, Atticus and Oliver, who is sacked out under the tree right now.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

While Christmas shopping in Beverly Hills yesterday, I was walking and found myself being checked out by greasy bear Brandon Davis, who was entering a salon in front of me. He even stopped to give me the "look." Arrogant bastard. Maybe it was the pigtails I was sporting. Either way... Eeeeew!

I went home and washed.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Yes, I know the picture is haphazardly placed. I can't figure out how to get into both of the stupid outlines. Or, get rid of the inner outline. But, it's better than nothing. This template is uber boring, yes...I know. I just wanted the upgrade and will look into something better later.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I'm transferring to the upgraded template in Blogger, so be patient. Apparently it does a lot more cool stuff. We'll see. I'll have to play with the HTML to tweak it and add a picture. Hmmm, what to choose...

I went to the coffee shop tonight before meeting a couple friends to go to the street fair in our neighborhood. I'd forgotten about it, but she remembered and I told her to pick me up, meaning by foot, at the coffee shop.

The place was bursting with activity. There was a musician playing guitar and singing, adding a warm touch to the warmly lit place, cocooned in the dark of the evening. I thought I might try to write a little but any chances of that were spoiled by being spotted at my table by a couple of the local men. I saw the first one milling around and kept my head down, but could see him see me and make a bee-line toward my table. He pulled up a chair and began talking. The conversation started about him being tired of living in desperation, a common subject that this particular person brings up when he's sat himself at my table before. Because I was expecting company, I was more open to conversation this time, knowing it would end shortly. The last time this man sat himself down, he spoke of the creative differences he was having with a partner on his screenplay about the Chupacabra. I listened patiently that time as well, looking at this man who is probably in his mid to late fifties, long white hair pulled back in a pony tail and an earring dangling from his ear, talking to me angrily about how he thought the goat sucker should be portrayed.

It wasn't long before the second one arrived, thin, sallow, around the same age, having just dyed his hair to an flat, unnatural looking brown. I'd spoken to him before as well, when he's sat himself down at my table. He too is a frustrated screenwriter, and very negative. He talks about having to have connections in the business to get anywhere and of his trials and failures with agents, managers and executives. He's repeated a few of his tales to me, and while sure...having connections in Hollywood is good, it's not everything. Really, it isn't. Countless times, people have waded through the obstacles and sold that script. I know personally, two writers who sent their manuscripts in cold to publishing houses, and are now published authors. Successful, award winning and also now working in Hollywood as screen writers. They were the farthest from having Hollywood connections of any two people I knew. They just believed in themselves, persevered and always remembered that it was about the story, not the game of being published. And yes, I know there are way more people that went this route and didn't succeed, but it's about not letting it consume you and remembering you write because the story inside you demands to be told.

We met eyes and I waved, an acknowledgment, not at invitation, and he pulled up a chair at the table. Now, I was boxed in by two men who weren't talking to me, but at me...competing for me to listen to their stories and getting frustrated with each other. Neither of these men have asked me much about myself and monopolize the conversation with their tales of woe about being rejected writers or just about anything. The sallow man asked me to meet him at the coffee shop after one such session and I politely refused. I have no idea if that's why he recently dyed his hair, or not.

One of the friends showed up and had seen the two men at my table. He ordered his coffee and in that time the pony-tailed man had gotten frustrated with the other droning voice and had left. I waved the friend over. The sallow man had just gotten finished telling me a story of an agent that he had submitted his script to, not even remembering his name when I introduced them. Except for one thing...I'd forgotten his name, too. There was no way around it. I had to ask. Now, usually when someone's friend arrives, especially a much younger male...that's your cue to get up and leave. This person didn't. He quizzed him on what he did for a living, and then as if my friend had not even sat down at the table, continued his talking about himself and his "eight great disappointments in his life." I was doing all I could to send the appropriate signals, but short of telling him to sod off, he wasn't going to get it. When the female friend arrived, he asked her the same and then began complaining to her. I felt so bad. I had no idea what to do. Finally, we all said we were leaving. I apologized to her, saying I'd indeed noticed she was trapped in the conversation but had no idea how to rescue her. He'd just met this person and was complaining to her about his struggles.

I'm a generally friendly person and sympathize with people who are just seeking company. Or, an ear to not feel so alone for a few minutes out of the day. However, it's frustrating when I just want to get some work done. I'm great at being aloof when I need to, or avoiding eye contact all together, but sometimes people just don't get it, or their need to talk outweighs their manners. I like coffee shops and the acquaintances you meet there. These two men aren't in that category. They are also a part of the group of frustrated writers, not to mention people, who congregate there and hang out for hours, talking to each other.

I write too, but I'm not that kind of writer. I write because I want to see where the story goes. If that ends up making me a living, great. If not, that's fine too. I've told the story and gotten it out of my head onto paper. I can't help thinking that these people have simply lost focus of why they write in the first place. Or, they are focusing too much on the business of writing. Certainly, the sallow man is a very negative person and that shows. It also affects your success with getting people to look at your work. They have to want to enter in a business relationship with you, and if all they want to do is get away from you, that's not going to happen.

We had a small earthquake here today. I was sitting at my desk when I felt a gentle roll underneath my chair. I looked down and Oliver had frozen in place and crouched. I could also see the arrangements in the vases on the floor swaying back and forth. It was a 5.5 centered outside of Barstow, which is why we felt it lighter here. Had I been walking I might not have felt it at all.

Bed awaits.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I hope everyone in the States had a happy Thanksgiving. I went to Cathy and Reese's and had dinner, then a jacuzzi and naked shower under the stars. That was just to see if you were paying attention. Of course, only the ladies participate in the jacuzzi and we shower separately. Oh get your minds out of the gutter! It's been a tradition for years and years after dinner at their house.

There's something about showering under the moon, inky black sky and stars as the steam from the hot water rises toward the heavens. Their backyard is very private, and Reese built an outdoor shower right next to the jacuzzi. Magnificent idea. For those of you that own your own homes, if the privacy in your backyard permits, I highly recommend it. In the summer, nothing beats skinny dipping at night in a darkened pool that's baked under the 100+ degree sun all day under the pool cover. It's like swimming in a huge warm bathtub. And, there's something primal about it, too...almost like you're being born again. And yes, they have a pool, too.

In all seriousness though, my belated list of things I'm thankful for are all of you who helped Oliver during my fundraiser. He's sitting next to me in the cat tree, happily fed and just well...happy. You guys rock.

And of course I'm thankful for my family, friends, kitties and health, even though I'm going through a scary patch right now with my days and nights mixed up. I have a feeling though, were there purpose for me to get up earlier along with a schedule to force me to do it, that would change. It's never been this much of a fight before though. Luckily, I've chosen to make the time mostly productive. I work, write, read and yes, sometimes I just surf the web or watch TV. I do try to keep the latter two to a minimum though. So, aside from that little worry things are good. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears. I'm sleeping, just not at the times I'd like to.

I'm writing off finding any kind of full time work until after the first of the year. People just don't hire around the holidays. I have one freelance gig along with the half-time job, so things are tight. I'm ok about it though. I do feel, that in the long run, all of this will make sense. I think we're given certain opportunities to sort things out. And though I'd really like to be pulling in more cash, I believe this time is so I can do precisely that.

And...little by little I am.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The fires here are pretty incredible, eating up neighborhoods like an uninvited uncle at Thanksgiving. It surprised me that we're having them so late in the year, and I'm always curious at how they start. I know we are having Santa Ana winds, but what I want to know is where the spark comes from. Once one starts, it can set off several due to flying embers carried by the wind. It's smokey here, so much that my apartment smells like I have a fire place and after returning from a late night jaunt to the grocery store, my clothes smell like I've been sitting around a camp fire. Outside, my apartment, the courtyard lights create beams because of the smoke in the air. What's incredible is that nearest fire is twenty miles from here. Yet, the air quality is very poor because there are so many and they form literally, a ring of fire around Los Angeles. We've been told to conserve power because a lot of transformers that supply power to the Los Angeles area have burned.

This afternoon, the daylight had a yellow glow and rays of sun cast orange highlights. The news is 24/7 fire coverage. Literally. I'm guessing they do that because people who are displaced or traveling in those areas need the immediate information to know if they can go home, or status on their neighborhoods if they've been evacuated. Montecito, near Santa Barbara was completely torched. I really feel for everyone who lost homes. It's going to be a long, hard road back. Displacement has to be one of the worst things to go through emotionally.

My hat's off to the firemen and women out there fighting the fires, and my heart goes to those who have lost homes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sorry about the lag. Lately it's just taken a lot out of me to post. Not because of any reason, it's just that sometimes it's easier than others, or I have more of a system. With my wacky schedule haven't been able to nail one down. So, in brief.

My dad came to visit me this weekend and it was great to see him here in Los Angeles. He stayed at a great hotel nearby and we toured LA a little bit and then went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. If you haven't been to that museum, it's top notch. On Saturday, he took Shannon and me to a very nice dinner at a place called Providence. I'd picked it out after some research and it was definitely first class without being pretentious. It had a warm atmosphere but attentive, professional service. The food was fabulous, and mixed with the ambiance and the company it was just a wonderful experience. Afterward, my dad was game to go with us to the local Irish pub in the neighborhood and even had himself a Guinness. It was a really fun night and that was a perfect ending. The next night, we went to Mozza, another fantastic place. My dad and Marie had found Mozza, and it's just incredible. They'd sent me a gift certificate to go there, and I treated Shannon there on his birthday. It was really fun to see my dad enjoying Los Angeles and having a great time. And on Saturday, fun to watch him and Shannon swap stories. If you live in Los Angeles, both places require reservations and are well worth a visit. I'll talk more about dad's visit, but I said I'd be brief.

I went to the Madonna concert after winning free tickets from one of the creative talent agencies that I'm registered with. Their company had 50 tickets, and the ones that they didn't use, they raffled off. Weird thing is, when I entered the contest, I knew I would win. It was one of those things where I sat and wondered if I was doing anything else that night of the concert because I knew I'd win. And, I did. Before we left, they had a few drinks and refreshments. On the way there, I'd passed a hooptie school bus and wondered if that was our ride. It was. Note to all those arranging events: Don't serve beer on the bus if it doesn't have a toilet. Luckily, yours truly doesn't like beer, but I still didn't drink the water that was offered because I knew that the traffic in Los Angeles is unpredictable. And sure enough, it was. We came to a stop a few miles from Dodger Stadium and stopped moving. And sure enough, it started. First one or two people asked when there was going to be a bathroom break, then a few more. They allowed people to get off the bus once, but as we all know...once you take that first piss when you're drinking, it's over. Especially on a no frills school bus with 50 people cooped up inside. I wondered if underneath my seat were dried boogers and gum. Not to mention, how many school lunch farts the seat I was sitting on had absorbed in its time. Luckily, I'd placed myself at the front of the bus, knowing that I have a bit of a claustrophobia issue. I was fine, but an all out war was about to begin. The people who had peed once needed to again, and there were a few people dead set on making them hold it. I sympathized with both. When you have to pee so badly that you're sweating bullets, it's the worst. At the same time, you can't just let people jump into four lane traffic in East LA to search for a place to pee. One, it could cost the driver his license. Two, it's not the safest thing to do. So, as I sat there, tempers started to flare on both sides. It was the employees who were sniping at each other. The women who were trying to keep order were speaking to their fellow employees as if they were errant children, while the people who had to pee begged and pleaded to get off the bus. Some even sniping back. Finally, one woman started to force the doors open and they let her get off. Eventually, we got to a place where we could pull the bus over and walk the rest of the way. The traffic was that bad.

The concert was okay. I wouldn't have gone to see Madonna had it not been for free, as I'm not a huge fan of hers or of big ass stadium concerts. That is, unless you are U2 or The Stones, both of whom I saw outside in huge venues. Madonna had the bass way too cranked up and she appeared to be lipsynching. Dodger Stadium is antiquated in its facilities and has a ridiculous parking set up. After the concert, we spent a large time trying to find the proper signage to tell us where the area was where we were supposed to meet the bus. I was walking with the militant pisser who had forced her way off the bus and a couple others. There was a gas station right in the middle of the parking lot that had restrooms inside. It was abandoned, but being me, I tried the door anyway. The militant pisser had almost passed it by, but I told her, "Urban rule #1. You always try the door." I did, and it opened. We were walking in when a beefy African-American cop walked toward us out of the darkness. I smiled, he smiled and said, "You two can be my guests." And there it was. We'd found the emergency services designated bathroom. We thanked him, then relieved ourselves in two very clean stalls.

The ride home was mostly quiet. No near riots over pissing rights. Unfortunately, I lost my beloved shawl, an expensive cashmere shawl that I'm rarely without because it's easy to pull out when it gets more chilly. When I emailed the agency to ask if anyone had turned it in, I heard back that one of the employees had seen it on the street the next morning but didn't think anything of it. To say I'm colossally bummed is an understatement, because I can't afford a new one right now and it's such a staple of my wardrobe. I have a backup, but it's not cashmere and has seen a little wear in its time. Even so, I feel like Linus without his blanket.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Me at 19

all my instincts, they return
and the grand facade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

-- Peter Gabriel

This is me at 19 years old, my photo taken by my friend Lisa and fellow student at Parsons School of Design. It was taken in my apartment in New York City for an assignment that we had to do for our communication design program. It was before PhotoShop or any kind of accessible digital media. You can click on the picture to see a larger version. The photo is film from a SLR 35mm Fuji camera. The scratches and damage are real. I left them in because they tell a story. When we're 19, we are so uncertain and yet so cocky that we think we own the world. Simply, because we don't know enough about it yet. We think we're going to be able to maintain that level of being untouchable. We don't see the forthcoming scratches and damage that will alter our perception of ourselves.

I'm glad I have it. Digital media wouldn't reflect the passage of time. I look at this picture and remember it being taken like it was yesterday. Yet, it's completely foreign. She's completely foreign, that young little naif. I wonder what she'd think of me now. Then, I wonder if I care. I often get angry at my former self for not seeing the obstacles that caused that damage and those scratches in the paths I chose to take. Obstacles that are so obvious to me now. But, I guess that's the whole point of growing. You have to do it your damn self.

And here I am, wondering when I'll be able to look her in the eyes and tell her that I did right by her. My creativity and fire was rife then, even though I found it difficult to channel and many times that manifested in anger, rebellion and faltering in my studies. And, I had Titanic-sized anger (we all know what happened that that boat). At the people in Topeka, KS, at my parent's divorce, at a lack of feeling prepared for a creative education. For having to fight so hard to get to exactly where I was in that photo. Mostly, for not knowing how to handle it once I got there. Funny enough, when that was taken I was also working at American Ballet Theatre and had been assistant to Baryshnikov, or, was about to be that summer. I had so much to prove. I wanted my artsy New York experience right then and there.

I was lucky that my parents could afford Parsons and life in New York when I decided to win that fight. Back then, I wasn't as grateful for it because all I saw was the fight that I'd had to endure each day in Topeka against people who were clueless or discouraging regarding my goals. Which were, getting the fuck out of Topeka to New York where I could start living. It was a huge internal and external fight. There wasn't the Internet or anything that made things accessible. You were limited by what your bookstores, video stores and libraries decided to carry. And in Topeka, that wasn't much. But, I did it in spite of all that. By the time that I got into Parsons, I felt owed, almost as if I'd done enough already to just get there. I wish I hadn't felt that way, but I guess that's being 18, which I barely was when I started college.

Like today, I did have some great successes there. But, like today, they weren't consistent. I lacked the maturity to "get it." That difficulty in channeling my creativity to be productive hasn't changed to this day with many things that I do. Not due to a lack of maturity, but because of imagined or actual obstacles. But now, I have no one to blame but myself. There is no one stopping me from doing anything. I'm old enough to have learned the lessons on how to manage it. Now, it's not feeling owed, or that I own the world. It's deciding on whether I'm worth it. And, that's been the hardest thing to do in the last few years. Instead of the short-sighted dolts and limited resources in Topeka, KS, the struggle is against myself. Sure, my depression certainly plays into it. But again, I can identify that and do my best to work around it.

It's these unfinished creative goals that gnaw at me. Sometimes, I get terrified thinking that I'll never get to express that voice because I simply can't find a way around myself to do it. Even more frightening is the thought of just not caring anymore. That's the one that has risen lately and it's done two things. One, it's actually helped me in settling down and being able to create, as the pressure is off. The girl in that picture thought that everything she was rode on her creative execution and that if it didn't turn out just right it would bury her. I had to excavate myself out of a lot of self-dug holes because of that. I don't think that anymore. But, when you don't care, it's easier to well...not care and do nothing.

Thankfully, the anger and rebellion are under control. Sure, there are flare ups, but they aren't as destructive as they were back then. I can pretty much deal unless like in my last job where I was mislead about the position and subjected to insurmountable bullshit plus an intolerable working environment. I'm more raw now. A little less polite when that happens and unwilling to endure it. The scratches and damage have done their job, making me tougher when I need to be. I also have nothing to prove anymore.

The good thing is that I'm continuing to plow through. That 19-year-old wouldn't have done that. She'd have crumbled or self-destructed because she would have feared being seen as less than perfect, or not in control...or, "not knowing what she's doing." She needed a bit more wear and tear before being able to expose those imperfections in order to move to the next step. Before being able to sit down and understand that creating something unique from within yourself isn't easy or perfect. It's full of frustration, dedication, patience, flaws, moments of glory and moments of despair. It's feeling stupid, looking stupid and going into something knowing that you don't have all the answers and, that you'll be forced to find them once you've started the process. Moments of not caring, then digging deep to discover that you really do. And once you're done with that process, to keep going knowing there's going to be another one.

Lastly, understanding that even though I have the knowledge and tools to digitally correct the scratches and damage on this photograph, not feeling the need to do so.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I witnessed a spectacular display of physics tonight in the grocery store. I was standing by a woman in the beverage aisle as she took a two-liter bottle of club soda off the shelf. Apparently, the weight shift of the bottle that she took was just enough to tip a two-liter bottle of Collins mix off the shelf. It fell about six feet, landing right on the cap end. The pressure then shot the cap off and launched the bottle from the ground, propelled by the supercharged carbonated Collins mix. It made a spectacular arc in the air higher than both of our heads and lodged itself between two jugs of apple juice on the top shelf. Trapped, it shot its wad all over the aisle.

Me: Holy shit.

Her: I'm so sorry!

Me: For what? That was freakin' awesome. Totally made my trip to the grocery store worth it.

When one of the store employees came over, I told her what happened and she said, "I'm totally going to check the security video for that one."

I'll keep an eye on YouTube for it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This is just precious. And awesome. Some of you may have seen it already, but I hadn't. I have no idea how this guy managed this, but it shows how much we all have in common, all over the world. If you don't watch it, you'll have lived a little less.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

This is from the site:

Explanation: What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, started dancing, and filmed the result. The video is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious -- few people are able to watch the above video without smiling.

Thanks to Michael Kurcfeld for sharing it so I could share it with you. If the video won't play for you in the screen, the link is here. I think the screen is bigger there, too. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

For those of you need a dose of adorable today, may I recommend this little gem. To those of you who helped Oliver, this is especially for you. I shot this of him in a state of complete contentedness. This is something that he does, which is grab a blanket or pillow with his mouth, then knead to his heart's content. Click play. I dare you not to say "awwww."

Oliver's really been making great progress. The hair on his belly is still growing back, but every week he extends a little more trust toward me. He was always a friendly cat, but set limits. Completely understandable from what he's been through. Now, as I was typing this post he jumped up on my lap. It's a huge show of trust considering that when he first came into the house he wouldn't stay on my lap if put there. At. All. I think he'd been through so much he was afraid to let me in, for fear of once again, another change or disappointment entering his life. Or, in the case of his last home, chaos, neglect and ignorance that led to him needing the operation.

It makes me so happy to see him so comfy and at home.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My name is Oliver.

Oliver Photographed by Shannon

I'm the cat that everyone made a big fuss about. For those of you who don't know it, my story is here. My new owner is kind enough to type this for me. I wanted you all to know that I'm feeling so much better in my new home and am so very grateful to those of you who helped me get better. Below is a list of all of you who donated to help pay off my $2700 vet bill. You are really special people and should be proud of yourselves. Especially on days where you wonder if anything you do makes a difference. It does, and you did.

Those who have hotlinks have their own blogs or sites. My owner has been to them and says they are all very good. She says you better visit them, or else. So, here's to you:

Alex, Alicia, Amy, Anonymous and Jason
Sue, in Memory of her beloved cat Minnie
Abby, in Memory of her beloved cat, Beef Wellington
Jeanne, in memory of her beloved cat Vincent
Cliff, Barb, Brian, Ron, Jeanne, Jennifer, Julia
Bonnie @ Cathartic Ink
My family, Dale and Joan, Cousin Josie and Aunt Margy
Tom aka "The Ghost" aka "awesome upstairs neighbor"
Captain, an airline captain shelled it out for little old me.
Carrie and Brooke, my owner's former Barnes and Noble homies!
Greg B., David H., Elizabeth, Felix, James and Jill
Linda, from Australia in memory of her beloved cat Charlie
From cats, yes cats, Harvey and Sonar. Thanks guys! Way to look out for a brother.
Kristin, Laura, Lorna, Melissa, Tina, Peg, David, Karen and Rob (another fly boy!)
Brooke, Carrie
Cathy and Reese, and Greg my friend and former landlord in Baltimore!
Mark R. and Mark C.
Sara @ Furious Muse
Taryn @ Adrasteia's Labyrinth

These are the people who they stepped up for me when I really needed it. Some are nearby. Some in Australia. Some are great knitters and have incredible work to show. One is a Korean War veteran, another a veterinarian. Some are my owner's family and friends. All have in common that they are super duper for helping me out, and many wrote letters that deeply touched my owner's heart or made her laugh.

Oliver Photographed by Shannon

I was scared when I was feeling sick. I was shaking and didn't know why I couldn't keep anything down, not even water. Before my new owner rescued me, I lived in a dirty, filthy place and didn't like it. There was nowhere to walk, sleep or play and it smelled bad. The girl who used to be my owner didn't know how to take care of cats, or herself really.

When I had to go to the hospital, I was frightened because I didn't know what was happening. Now that I've gotten that thing removed from my tummy I'm feeling much better. I even live with a couple more cats. My new owner plays with me and brushes me regularly. She also talks to me a lot, pets me, gives me belly rubs and hugs me. I get fresh food and water every day. And, when I need space she gives it to me. She keeps telling me how so many of you cared about me and how glad she is that there are so many good people in the world. So, thank you for caring. I'm already so much more happy and my coat looks so healthy and shiny.

I'm sure you'll hear a lot more about me on this blog because my owner tends to talk about things a lot here. She tells a lot of people who come to visit her all about you and how you pulled together to pay my vet bill.

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart to the tip of my tail. I look forward to a long and happy life filled with love, thanks to you.

Oliver the Maine Coon cat

PS: My owner says to email her if she left anyone off the list or if those who are listed want their name to link to their site. Okay, time to go see if I can find any crickets to chase that got into the house.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

To all of you who donated to help kitty. Please make sure that you check your email with the address associated with your Paypal account. You should have two emails from me, as I responded directly back to the address associated with Paypal. One, after you donated and then another that I sent to all. I'm bringing attention to this here, because one person wrote to me and said that he had not gotten my emails. I checked, and saw that he was sending me an email from a different address than his Paypal account. I'd sent my responses to his Paypal email address. So, check them now!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Houston, we have a problem.

Houston, we have a problem.

Thinking of all of you in the Galveston/Houston area who are in the path of Ike. My dad used to live in Houston and we went to Galveston a few times.

Hold on to your butts...and pray. This looks like a monster.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My mom came to visit and we had a great time. We ate. A lot. She flew in on her birthday and stayed with me in my weensy apartment with three cats, but did just fine. For some reason, my apartment doesn't feel or smell, thankfully, like cat.

For her official birthday dinner, we ate at a place called Lobster in Santa Monica. My mom wanted a place that looked over the ocean and on short notice, it fit the bill just fine. The next day we had brunch at Aroma with Shannon and luckily avoided the direct sunlight while sitting outside. The temperatures rose to around 100 that day.

I'm keeping this post short because I have a lot of work to do and am fighting off some serious blackness today. The whole job searching thing has gotten to me. I'll admit it. I'm pissed off at the whole process and have been feeling like shit because of it. Mostly, I'm angry at the politics involved and the effort that I put into it with little result. I've been on interviews where I've been scheduled to meet three people but only meet with one, because the others are having a "crazy day." It never ceases to amaze me the minuscule amount of effort companies put in to find the right employees that could help their organization. I drove all the way to Woodland Hills to hear that people couldn't be bothered to walk thirty feet and spend a few minutes with someone whom they asked to come in. The only person that I met was someone who didn't seem to be into the interview at all and barely asked me any questions. When I checked the stats for my online portfolio, they hadn't even looked at it to see my work. People, c'mon already.

I've been suffering from a severe loss in confidence. Not on my personal writing, which thankfully is going well, but in my professional life and the process that can get me from A to B. I'm tired of the fight, the ups and downs, the fits and starts and of being "the copywriter."

Yes, I'm frustrated today. I have a ton to offer and it's been bottled up for too long. I know all this will work out in the end, and the underlying message isn't lost on me. I get it. I know. But I don't have to be happy about wading through the bullshit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A break from the cat saga to go back to regular blogging. One short note to those of you who donated, if you haven't received a follow up email from me, please check your regular in boxes or junk email boxes. I sent a mass email, so your spam filters may have gallantly fought me off. If so...hey, they were just doing their job.

Last night, Shannon and I went to the Radiohead concert at the Hollywood Bowl. A few months ago, I'd sat with my finger at the ready to click on the mouse once the tickets went on sale, then watched as Ticketmaster's computer did its best to find me the "best available" or any tickets at all as it processed the thousands upon thousands of requests it was getting from people wanting the same thing. Luck shined on me that day and I got two tickets in a decent area. In fact, until the concert, I wasn't aware just how lucky. Many concert goers that we spoke to had bought them off Craigslist, or eBay and paid much more than face value. I knew that both concerts had sold out within minutes, but damn.

We pulled up and parked, during that process learning that the pre-mixed cosmo that Shannon had made for me wasn't going to be let in the venue because the Bowl, famous for letting you BYOB, wasn't having it for this concert. This included the Liquid Lunch box that Shannon bought for me last Christmas because it included glass. So, we broke out the goods in the tandem parking lot under a canopy of trees, among the cars and passing humanity. In front of us were two Indian men who had broken out their drinks and food, who we really enjoyed talking to. One was an on-set photographer and the other was an architect. They were having a husband's night out and were just the coolest guys ever. One of them took this picture of Shannon and me.

Shannon and Me @ Radiohead - Hollywood Bowl

That was Shannon's first full cosmo, even though he made them for me. I encouraged him since he hadn't brought beer, having planned to buy them inside. Seriously, it takes a man to be able to hold the pink drink in public. But, like I've said about cosmos before, they're strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. So, all was good.

The concert was fantastic. It was the most crowded I've ever seen the Bowl. Ever. And I've been to sold out events. For some reason, the place just seemed extra packed, from when we entered to when we sat down. It was the hottest ticket in town, and that was obvious. However, everyone was in good spirits, in a festive and cooperative mood and it was just a good vibe all around. We met several people that night and had great conversations as well as many of those precious passing moments with other people. Below is a video that I took of us if you want to enjoy seven seconds of the concert with us.

It was just a great night, with the band playing under a sky where the big dipper hung low, the sea of bodies moving in time to the pulses of the music and just being in the moment. After the whole kitty and neighbor stress, it was the perfect thing that I needed. To just relax every muscle in my body and let the music in.

So that's exactly what I did.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We did it! I'm completely blown away. I'll be posting soon but right now I'm at a loss for words. For once.

Total Bill: $2700
Total Raised: $2700

You guys rule. I'm so touched by this and all your sweet emails.

UPDATE: Here are the most recent pictures of the Maine Coon cat I rescued, his story below. The thing on his face is a feeding tube, now removed since he's eating! The first pic is right when I was at the vet and picked him up, the night after surgery. The second is him making himself at home in my kitchen closet. You can click on the pics for a larger photo. Again, none of this would have been possible without your generous donations. I'm just blown away by the response.

Groggy on the MendFeeling Even Better

Extracted flip flopHe had an obstruction in his intestines due to his previous owner allowing him to eat her flip flops. Once again, no, I'm not kidding. This is the actual large chunk that he swallowed that they removed. (Yes, I photographed it because that's how I roll). That's my index finger in the photograph for size comparison. Now, he's on the mend!

Thank you to those of you who donated to help this wonderful cat heal!! Here are some blogs, in alphabetical order, of those who donated. I asked their permission to post them. Please check them out and give them a read! Oh, and if they have comments, tell them how much they rock.

Adrasteias Labyrinth
Barefoot in the Park
Knitty Banter
Truly Regal Manners

And Lorna, who I already link to at the right. If I've left anyone out, let me know!

Here is the story:

This pledge drive was not for me, but for the vet bills for a cat that I rescued from a neighbor who lives in squalor.

I have a 25-year-old neighbor whom I discovered was living in filth and squalor. When I saw how she was living, I asked her to let me help her clean her apartment to relieve her from the inhuman conditions. When I saw it; trash piled two feet high, cat feces, food and litter all over the floor, soiled sanitary napkins (no, I'm not kidding) piled by her bed and on the floor in the bathroom, thousands of ants in the freezer, living room and in the bathroom, months worth of discarded food rotting in take-out bags all over the floor, mixed with her clothes in the bedroom and bathroom, piles of clothes in her bedroom, never washed and caked in cat urine, a fridge full of rotting food, other food that had spilled on the floor and never been picked up. I could go on, but no descriptions will do it justice. When I worked on "The Wire," I saw abandoned crack squats that were more sanitary and in better condition. I was shocked and the next day staged a mini-intervention, if you will. I sat her down and told her that she couldn't live like that, offering help to "get her out from under it." I was also greatly concerned about the sweet, beautiful Maine Coon cat that she had adopted from the shelter a few months back. A shelter that had entrusted him to her to give it a healthy, safe living environment. Because I'd heard from other neighbors that this woman was living substandardly, I'd been keeping an eye on the cat and taking an active role in educating her on cat care. I bought her brushes, play toys and medicine. It was me that she turned to this week when the cat became ill and unable to keep food down. I asked to see the cat, she told me she'd bring him down since her apartment was "messy." Instead, I followed her up because I wanted to see the environment that he was living in. It was then when I peeked through the blinds that I saw the true horror of her living conditions. I knew that the cat was in danger. It was obvious, just from what I knew about her that she had neglected this cat and provided an unhealthy environment that had made it sick. She told me a vet had told her to "keep an eye on him," but I had doubts that she'd even called a vet.

On day two of helping this woman clean herself out from under the filth, the cat exhibited some alarming symptoms, including tremors and disorientation. It was heartbreaking, to see the friendly, loving and social animal that I met a few months ago become the animal I was seeing in front of me. Scared, sick, shaking and so disoriented due to malnutrition and dehydration (caused by the vomiting) that it was walking backward and in circles. I told her we had to get him to an emergency vet immediately, so off we drove to one in Studio City.

The vet rushed him in when he saw the tremors and we sat and waited while they treated him. I knew that there was no way that I was going to allow this beautiful cat, who didn't ask for this and that had this done to him, go back into that home. While we were there, I was able to pull the vet aside and explain the conditions that the cat had come from to help them better diagnose him.

A bit later, the vet came out with an estimate and not surprisingly, the woman was shocked. I let her process it for a few minutes, then made her a deal. I would pay for the vet care, but she had to allow me to adopt the cat. For a few agonizing minutes, she processed this, and then agreed. I can't describe the denial, cluelessness and disconnected mental state this woman was in when she first thought that I'd pay it and let her take him back after he got healthy. During this time I also spoke to her mother over the phone (she had asked me to talk to her mother to try to convince her to pay for the bill) about the extent of the danger that her daughter was in and my plans to take ownership of the cat.

This is the cat. These photos were taken in my apartment (he came over to visit) before he became ill due to neglect and the filthy conditions in which he was living.

Main Coon cat needs help

Main Coon cat needs help

Friday, August 08, 2008

I had a fantastic birthday and thank you to those of you who wished me a happy birthday. You did yourselves proud, and therefore the blog will continue. ;)I know you were all losing sleep over it.

For my birthday, Shannon took me out for a wonderful, and I mean wonderful dinner at SaddlePeak Lodge. He made sure that we had a table by the fireplace and it was just a spectacular time. I had a delicious antelope dish. Yes, antelope. The Lodge is known for its game cuisine and it did not disappoint. Fabulous from appetizer to desert.

After that, we headed to Villa where after a week worth of networking by Shannon, we got on the list. After our first clueless attempt at breaking through the iron curtain door policy, I wanted to see if we could get into the club for my birthday. It was a fun challenge that Shannon managed to pull off. Apparently, being on the list doesn't guarantee you entry, so we were prepared for plan B if it didn't pan out.

Well, after all the networking and getting on the list, we walked up to the door all prepared to give our names to the gatekeeper. Imagine our surprise when the doorman took one look at us and let us right in, no questions asked.

Happy feckin' birthday to me.

We got inside and did a little victory dance to the thumping music, then headed right to the bar. It was a great end cap to a perfect night. I took this picture of us inside.

Me and Shannon @ Villa

So, my big birthday rocked, and thanks again to all of you who wrote to wish me a happy one.

It was indeed that and more.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Happy big milestone birthday to me. I better get some happy birthday emails from you readers because this is a big one. Oh yeeeah.

[EVIL VOICE]If I don' won't see the blog alive again![/EVIL VOICE]

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

There was a whole lotta shakin' going on today.

I decided to sleep in today since I didn't sleep well the night before, and was lying in bed awake when I felt the first rumble. At first, I thought it was my cats jumping on the bed, but realized it was deeper and underneath. Then, the real rocking started, thrusting my big sleigh bed back and forth longways, me in it, not even raising my head from the pillow as I rode it out. The cats were on the bed, along for the ride as the bed creaked and protested with the building as it shook. It lasted about thirty seconds and when it finished I remembered I was naked. The thought of being pulled out of a building in my birthday suit on live TV got me out of bed and I dressed, just in case that was a pre-quake to The Big One. I looked outside and Warner Bros. had evacuated. People in suits and casual dress were standing around in clusters as a security guard directed them to their emergency gathering areas. People were laughing, talking and just a bit hyper in the way that one gets when the unexpected interrupts their day. It was a nice sized quake, but thankfully was a roller, not a jerker.

I went outside and saw Victor, the landlord. His face brightened.

VICTOR: Is this what you look like when you wake up? You look nice.

ME: I look like shit. What do you think that was, a 4.5?

VICTOR: I like your hair this way.

ME: (Looking at him)

VICTOR: Oh. Yeah, around that I think.

Turns out it was a 5.4 with the epicenter in Chino Hills. The earthquake occurred eight miles under the surface of the earth. Of course, the news media did its job, scaring the shit out of the relatives of people who live here by blowing it way out of proportion. The phones were down so I wasn't getting any calls, but IM's started popping up on my computer screen. I assured everyone that I was fine, that Los Angeles had not fallen into the ocean and that the Mojave had not suddenly become beach front property.

After things had calmed down, I went back to nap and woke up to take a phone call for a freelance job I'm doing. Before that, I got a call from DHL to pick up a package from the company that I'd just left. I figured it was my last paycheck and a couple other formalities. I drove to the pick up station with the tracking number and sure enough, that's what it was. As a final nose-thumbing to the crappy ordeal, after showing the woman my ID, I signed for it as "Oswald Cobblepot" and left. Sure enough, it was exactly what I thought. A check and a statement saying I'd left the company. Now, I feel that is finally over. Last week, I sent my own letter of events to the company so it would be on record in case it were needed. It's always good to have on file a clear record of your version of events stating why you left any company. And for the record, I stated it very well. ;)

I'm now working on two freelance projects and am hoping for a little more motivation than I've been feeling. I think there are a few things affecting me. One, my birthday is on Sunday. And, it's a milestone one. I better get some birthday wishes from you readers...that's all I'm saying. Two, I'm still not in the freelance mode. I had expected full-time work. Now I'm having to manage my own time and get back into the head space of temporary working relationships. I have a third freelance possibility in the works as well. That one I've done before, so it won't feel as foreign. I think after a couple more weeks, the fact that I'm back to freelance will sink in and it won't be as hard to find a little more fire in the belly.

But, on the bright side, I'm so thankful I had the foresight and experience to nip that nightmare sold to me as a daydream right in the bud.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sorry for the blackout period.

In short, since my last post I've left my job after only six weeks due to the fact that the position was oversold and misrepresented to me. Not only that, I was going home with headaches every day due to the obnoxious "music" from this station played at a high volume in the office. Yes, I asked management to rectify it. Their solution, and mind you that they were in offices and didn't have to endure it, was for me to buy headphones since they approved of having this music in the office. You see where I'm going here. I just didn't write well to songs like, "I Kissed a Girl," and Britney Spears remixes, replete with coworkers singing along. Fine that Lil' Wayne got licked like a lollipop and Soulja Boy wants to Superman that Ho, but I don't want to hear it blasting in my ear at work. Or, at all. Ever. And no, I'm not kidding. Even with $100 noise-canceling headphones that I bought especially to block out the crap, KCRW's cool independent music was no match for keeping that tripe at bay and offering me a conducive work environment. Add that to the colossal disorganization of the place and you've got a lose lose situation.

On Tuesday, with four days left in the job, I drove to work and had gotten all the way downtown when I turned around and went home. It was very out of character for me. I take jobs very seriously and always strive to do what's best for my employers. However, because of their inability on many levels to provide a decent work environment, to describe the position properly and act professionally, meaning, run the place like a business instead of a sorority house, it led me to end things early. It wasn't some big moment or triumph. Movie music didn't cue as I turned the car around among the graffiti-stained buildings and build into a crescendo as I drove home. It just simply was. Two weeks ago I'd told my supervisors that I had decided, after only four weeks in the position, to leave my job. This was after a few meetings where I voiced my frustration and tried to rectify a process and fix with management. The last revealing there had been a miscommunication in the job responsibilities. My supervisor literally said to me, "Anne, you're in the wrong job." They left it up to me and everything was amicable until Monday where they blew it big time. That led me to Tuesday.

So, here I am again having to look for work. I'm certainly disappointed, but frankly, I'm more pissed off as I feel the entire six weeks was wasted time and that I was unnecessarily put through a crappy experience. It's not even going on my resume. Too bad, as I had expected a nice long-term job at a company where I could make a great contribution. During the short time I was there, two other people transferred out of the department.

Just sayin'.

Last Friday, Shannon and I went out to the Velvet Margarita in Hollywood, then to another bar right next door. I was walking by a man who had an interesting looking telephoto video camera and asked him about it. He was African-American with a bald head, hardened look and a pot belly with a couple large bags slung over his shoulder. He turned around and scrutinized me for a second. After he came to his decision about me, he turned around and told me about the camera. There were tons of people around, but right away I could tell there was something off about him. He looked at Shannon, who had become interested, not to mention concerned that I'd engaged this man the way I had, and held up another camera that he said he'd sell to him for $60. Shannon was interested in seeing the video camera, and the guy began to give us a very interesting sales pitch.

MAN: This here's from mother fuckin' Japan. Won't be here for another two weeks. Four-hundred dollars if you want it.

ME: Where did you get it?

MAN: I ain't answering no questions.

As Shannon and the man looked over the camera, which he wouldn't let Shannon hold, another two men passing by came up to look at it. Our salesman gave them a quick look and dismissed them.

MAN: This don't do shit. It don't take nothin'. It's just a movie prop.

MAN 2: (trying to intelligently engage) Oh, well I just find it fascinating.

MAN: It don't take shit. Just a prop. Ain't nothin' to see.

The two men walked a few steps away, then watched as the man turned on the camera and interviewed us about the recent Laker's loss. He took a couple pictures of us as well, then played back the video that very obviously had just recorded us.

Apparently, the two men hadn't passed the smell test. Shannon had no intention of buying the camera as it was obviously stolen. Someone was hurting over their loss and we weren't going to fund the black market by patronizing anyone who had a slick camera to sell. He was just interested in the functions, being a photographer. And, both of us in the experience of this man who had surfaced from the underworld.

By the time that Shannon had seen enough, the man dropped the price to $200. He declined, citing that the man couldn't show him all the features that he was curious about. Again, he had no intention of buying it. It was just an excuse.

MAN: (undeterred) Okay. I gotta go smoke some crack.

And off he went into the night.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Last Sunday, I went to Book Soup to buy a couple books. Book Soup is a great independent book store on Sunset that even before Anne in LA: Part Deux, I shopped in all the time. It's just a great store with a real, pardon the expression, bookstore feel to it. There was a metered spot in front of the place, so I pulled in, and while parking saw that a big black SUV had pulled up and was waiting for the spot. I waived him off to let him know I wasn't leaving and he sped around the corner at breakneck speed. A couple other SUVs followed him at the same rate, but I didn't think anything of it. When I got out of the car, I was met by three or four men on the sidewalk with telephoto lenses and camera equipment slung around their shoulders, clicking away. And then I knew. I had found myself in a paparazzi crush. I stopped, looked to my right and saw a very LA couple making their way towards me. The woman was in big sunglasses and a pretty full length white summer dress, and her boyfriend was very typical LA. Handsome with five o'clock shadow, oxford shirt hanging loose over jeans. I had no clue who they were, but didn't want to get in between them and the rabid paparazzi who had grown by a few numbers. They passed, and a man watching the activity asked me who they were. I shrugged. I walked steps behind them and yep, they turned right into where I was going. A paparazzi was by the door and I stopped, as a knee-jerk reaction I do for anyone taking a photo. Also, I didn't want to get bulldozed. Paparazzi are notorious here for putting that photo first and when looking through a lens can miss that there are other people around. Of course, had that happened they would have been sorry. Surprisingly, his chivalry kicked in and he actually let me pass to go inside.

So who were they? Kate Beckinsale and her husband, director Len Wiseman. Once I was inside, the actress apologized to the woman at the cashier for the activity. The woman told her that it wasn't her fault, that she should be able to shop in peace. I loved the woman at the cashier, as she was a bookish-looking redhead, but pretty, who occasionally turned around and said in a harsh tone through the window, "No. No. Go away," to the paps outside when they got too close. I laughed and told her she sounded like she was scolding a bad dog.

After I found a couple books, I went to pay and noticed another crush.

"Oh dear," I said, and the woman turned around. The couple was still inside so I wasn't sure what was going on until I saw Jeff Goldblum walk in. Maybe Hollywood, like me had just gotten the book itch that day. Goldblum looked great. Fit, tan and healthy with a tad of stubble on the chin.

It wasn't the first time I'd encountered Beckinsale. A few months ago, when I was shopping on Robertson, she had been inside another store that I didn't go into because of the paparazzi crush outside. It was insane.

Update: I found this video of them from that day that illustrates this. And this isn't a bad crush. I'd rate it as small. At the beginning of the video you can see my terrified Honda parked to the left in all its silver glory.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Oh my, this is what happens when I don't post for a while. So many things that I've experienced or want to talk about. Especially because lately I've felt like I'm going through a "biding time" period.

There are a couple reasons why, and one is because the jury came in on the new gig. It's always been in, I guess...but I just like to make sure that I give things time and that it gets a fair trial. Now, I said the jury is in, which means that I've come to a verdict on it. I won't say what that is, but you can probably read between the lines.

I also haven't posted because I've been a tad cranky lately and I try not to post when I'm cranky. Several things have contributed to that.

One, is that I've been flirting with getting a new apartment and have even looked at a few. One yesterday in West Hollywood that was built by Paramount Studios in the 1920's to house their starlets. It looked like a fairytale development straight out of yes, a movie. Rudolph Valentino used to live in one of the units. It was a very interesting place but I didn't like the neighborhood. Too many people on top of each other and too many apartment buildings. It also had a super small bedroom, which is something I'm looking to enlarge. The living room was really big and it was flooded with light. It just didn't have everything I'm looking for, even though it was fantastic to tour it. I could tell the landlord really wanted me to take it, something that I got last time when looking for apartments here. Landlords must have to deal with a lot of crappy tenants, because when I flew down to look for places before I moved here, I even had one guy offer to lower the rent for me on the spot. Unfortunately, it was too much for me to take on at the time and they didn't take pets. Those were super nice places, too. Too bad, because I'd look him up now. I happened upon him by chance when looking at another place.

I'm also finding it hard to think of leaving this neighborhood. I love it here. It's quiet yet a lot goes on here. It's also completely safe. It's got all the major studios surrounding it and every convenience because of that. I walk to everything. One of the apartments that I looked at was a half block down the street, just not big enough for me to justify an entire move. I'm torn between really upgrading and just upgrading a little. Two of my neighbors whom I like moved out this week. Both are moving out of state.

Last night I took a walk and pet the cats among the mansions. The people here are very nice. One of the houses has five skunks that like to forage in the yard at night. I was watching them with a couple with a kid, and another couple with a dog when the owner of the huge Tudor house opened her second floor window and said, "Do you like my skunk family?" She was great, in her long nightgown opening her paned window from her giant Tudor. Another night I was on my walk and took a picture of one of them. She opened her window again and introduced herself. Very cool lady. I told her she had one heck of a security system. I love that she just lets the skunks be. There's a mom, dad and three smaller ones. Cute doesn't even come close to describing them. I took this picture of one of the larger ones.

Say hello to my little friend

On another night, I was petting the neighborhood cats and heard a screech above me. I looked up and saw a huge owl flying about twenty feet overhead, its white belly reflected by the street lights. It was a very Harry Potter moment.

I looked at a huge, gorgeous two bedroom today a block from me. I'm seriously considering it though it will be a stretch in the short run. There's that whole security deposit and first month's rent to cough up, not to mention moving expenses. The place is private, quiet and on a tree-lined street. My camera wasn't charged or I'd have taken pictures. However, with the jury having made its ruling on the job, these are uncertain times. I won't do anything rash. It's much more expensive than this apartment, but within my budgeted guidelines. However, it's at the top end of those guidelines. Do I need a two bedroom? Nope. But this one is a good price in a great neighborhood. If it's meant to be, it will happen. If not, there will be more great places.

I'm in the throes of a horrible cold. At least, that's what I think it is. I'm hoping it's not something else. My throat hurts and I'm getting achy along with a stuffed nose that I blasted with Afrin. Add that to the Sudafed I took earlier, Airborne that I took today and soon to be Nyquil that I'm going to take before bed. I hate colds, and felt so crappy I actually left work early. I wouldn't have gone to see the apartment had it not been just a half block walk. I just hope I can sleep tonight. Luckily, due to the holiday we don't have work tomorrow. Of course, I had to get this cold. Sometimes I think our bodies know when we're going to get rest and decide to get sick.

Off to the medicine cabinet.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I was woken this morning to low buzzing helicopters and sirens.

"Catch the fucker already," I thought, groggy, thinking it was a high speed chase. The noise didn't stop, so I got up. Pissed. It was 6:45 AM. I put on my clothes, opened the door and saw a low-hanging fog bank. When I exited the building I saw the enormous smoke plume that was the source. It was black, twisting and angry.

"Oh my goodness," I said to myself. I walked back in the courtyard and up to the second level. My apartment building is a typical California U-shaped building with all entrances and walkways on the outside.

"It's Universal," a voice said behind me. I looked and saw my 50-something-year-old neighbor standing in his doorway.


Um... Yeah.

"It's on the news, Channel Four," he said, not missing a beat.

I looked at him, having no idea if he'd just not realized he was still naked, or if he just didn't care. My poker face would have impressed even the most cunning Vegas card sharks.

"I'll go turn the TV on," I said, glad for the excuse to walk back downstairs.

After I watched the news that Universal Studios was burning, I went back outside. My now-dressed neighbor joined me and pointed out the ash that was collecting on the ground and in the pool. Large ash clusters, probably embers that had burned out in the air also fell on the ground.

I took this video of the fire, and more pictures on Flickr. I shot the video with my little point and shoot. It was set on a lower res, but I thought did a decent job.

I know almost all of you will be disappointed, but these do not include a picture of my neighbor in the buff.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Shannon sent this to me.

I think it's safe to say that this guy has nerves of steel, not to mention is confident in his balance, footing and fine with stepping on decaying concrete a thousand feet or more up. This is wonderfully shot, giving a first person perspective of what it's like to walk El Camino del Rey, (English: The King's pathway). Built in 1901, it's a walkway, now fallen into disrepair, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Álora in Málaga, Spain. Make sure your sound is on, then sit back, enjoy, and while watching it remember to breathe.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I had a catastrophic hard drive failure Thursday on my main computer. I have no idea if the data is gone or not, but I managed to get the machine running again. Not from that hard drive, which was the master, (I was able to diagnose that by unplugging the slave drive to see if it was causing the problem) but from the slave drive. Last year I'd installed the extra drive.

I knew something was off when I woke up to the sound of a grandfather clock. Since I don't have a grandfather clock, someone had either put one in my apartment overnight or I'd entered the Twilight Zone. I was banking on the latter. Truth is, I was creeped out, and it was a long walk from my bed to diagnose that the noise was coming from my computer tower, accompanied by a black monitor that read, "Hard Drive Failure. Press F1 to Retry, F2 for Options." In technical terms, it was telling me that F1 and F2 stand for "Face it. You're Fucked."

I turned off the computer, went back to bed.

Once I got back up, I looked at my options. Not the one that the computer offered me, but my own. And that's where I opened up the tower and went to work on rearranging the hardware. I re-installed XP on that drive and went through the millions of updates, installs, activatons and reboots to get back up and running. Office was already installed since that drive came from an old computer. At half past midnight, I called Shannon and told him I needed a drink. He told me my martini glass was chilling in his freezer and I was out the door.

I didn't spend the whole day getting that machine back up. I took a break at the coffee shop and whined via IM to Albert, a friend of mine in NYC. He made me feel better about things. The hard drive failure manifested in a dose of insecurity about its timing during my job search, which became frustration with that process. Bert, thanks for getting me back on track. I've come along way to erase whining from my personality traits, but even the best of us have relapses.

And guess what, I have a possible two interviews next week, plus when I came home to a phone call from a company nearby who had seen my resume on a job site. Funny how that works out.

Luckily, I have a laptop which has all my writing and stories on it. I write on my laptop since I can take it anywhere. I'd also just updated my online portfolio. So, that's all good. I have my most recent work from Disney on a flash drive and my newest photos are still on my new camera. Older ones are on photo disks, backed up or on Flickr. I'll be installing that and downloading the images back onto the hard drive. Music was spared, as was Photoshop. It could have been much worse.

We've had some strange weather for May, including thunder and storms. I was in the coffee shop when a huge thunder cracked and startled everyone. It was gloomy, and there were tornadoes in Riverside County. I listened to rain overnight on Friday. The soft rain sang to me like nature's lullaby, soothing me in my bed.

Saturday we had thick voluminous grey clouds overcast, a perfect day to see a movie, so my friend Jan and I went to see Indiana Jones. The Cinerama Dome at the Arclight was packed to capacity and it was a great time. I thought the movie was great fun, with a different twist on the usual Indy story lines. The audience seemed to enjoy it as well.

Interestingly, they previewed Dark Knight, and when Heath Ledger appeared on screen as The Joker, a very audible, sad "ooh" emanated from the crowd in the theater. I was included in voicing those sentiments. It was a touching, spontaneous tribute to how sad people still are over his death. The movie looked like it was going to be incredible, and Ledger, breathtaking in his final role.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

There are ups and downs to being between jobs. I'll start with the down first and keep it short because I've mentioned it before. I get my days and nights mixed up. Why, I have no idea. I'm sure my rhythms are off, but it can be isolating if I let it. Luckily, I'm not letting it. However, if anyone has any ideas on why some people's body clocks tell them to sleep late and stay up late, let me know. I take melatonin, but I'm probably taking it too late in the evening. It does work, it's just making myself get up before noon. And, to not look at that scrumptious couch of mine and lay down for a long nap.

Update: The East Coast is well into rush hour while I still have yet to sleep. 4:54 AM.

The good thing about a break is having more time and energy to do personal projects or creative experiments. I've been wanting to experiment with self-portraiture for a while. One, because I've always got a subject and two because I'm looking at other forms of expression besides writing. Love it that I do, I have a lot more that I want to "get off my chest" creatively for lack of a better word. A few nights ago I decided to give it a try. After a few frustrating attempts with a tripod, I decided to shoot freestyle holding the camera, setting it on continuous and moving my arm around to snap photos from different angles. Meaning, the camera took continuous shots if my finger was depressed on the button. The reason I did this is that I found that I posed with the tripod and they looked stilted and wholly boring. First, because I was waiting for the timer to take the damn picture and second, the expressions weren't natural or spontaneous. The difference in shooting freestyle was astounding and I accomplished what I was after, which was to learn something new. The bonus was getting these results.

More camera play. Self portrait

And, this one which I altered by taking the color out. I like both. You can click on them to see bigger pictures.

Self Portrait - Black and White Self Portrait - Color

It was fun because I got to play "dress up" first. Well, dressing up my face. I put on a ton of makeup for the shots, mostly around the eyes. There were many more shots that turned out well but I haven't posted them on Flickr. Now I'll have to think of another theme, if it can be called that. With these, I had no theme or images in mind. I just shot to see what I would get. I'm glad, because I think I would have become frustrated with trying to do too much for my first real experiment.

I showed them to Shannon and he approved. A major compliment, because his photography is incredible. And yes, he'd tell me if they sucked. I'm just happy I decided to risk feeling silly and go for it. I can't state enough, the importance of getting over that hurdle when it comes to creating anything.

Friday, May 02, 2008

THEM!This was me today. Thousands, and yes I say thousands of ants decided to launch a full scale home invasion into my apartment today. Their goal? The cat food dishes.

I was just about to go out for coffee when I saw Atticus watching his cat dish. I'd been through this and much worse before, and knew what that meant. At first, it didn't look too bad. The bowl had been invaded and there was an ant orgy by a stray piece of cat food on the kitchen floor. I squirted the orgy with Lysol cleaner, a sure fire ant killer, then dumped the food into the sink. After grinding it way down the garbage disposal, I set out to napalm the trail. It was then that I realized how many ants had invaded my place.

I followed a four lane highway to my air-conditioner, spraying as I went. The little suckers were hard to see since I have a dark carpet and I had to get a flashlight out to track them. Instead of going outside, like I thought they would, they made a sharp turn toward my couch where a sickening amount snaked around one of the legs in what can only be described as ant grid lock. I folded back my area rug and saw that they were following it in a perfect line to the other foot of my couch where yes, another ant SIG alert was in full swing. Good to know it's not just humans who can't handle turns in heavy traffic.

I couldn't figure out where in the hell they were going until I saw another writhing mound under my side table. One of the cats had coughed up a hairball and it was covered, covered with them. Nasty. I squirted the mound and watched as it stopped moving, then went back over the trail a couple times to make sure there were no survivors.

I do not look forward to this repeating in the summer days to come. It's a fact of life in California and a couple of my neighbors have already had invasions.

On less disgusting note, my first week of unemployment resulted in one interview for tomorrow. I'd like to say that I'd done something to facilitate it, but I hadn't. Okay, that's not entirely true. I applied to the job a month or so ago and the timing just happened to work out. In the meantime, I've been crafting a new cover letter and wondering why I'm spending so much time on it. Perhaps because I don't want it to look like every other stupid cover letter that either I've written or everyone else has written. The truth is it doesn't make a damn difference because most people don't read them. Even so, I wrote a decent one at the coffee shop today and managed to send off my resume to another creative talent agency where I have an "in."

Lastly, David over at StoryLog picked up one of my posts from this blog. He's also got a bunch of other great stories from blogs, including Chuck, whom I link to over on the right. Take a few minutes to check him out.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My last post was picked up by Los Angeles MetBlogs. Thanks for the extra traffic guys, was quite a surprise. For those of you who don't know about Los Angeles MetBlogs, they are a great way to keep current of the happenings in Los Angeles from a first-person perspective. Right now, it's fires, Coachella, and the LA Times Book Fair. Several writers contribute and offer a great mix of perspectives of life in Los Angeles. For those of you who don't live here, it's a great way to see the city from a ground floor perspective from several sets of eyes. All in different ways than you have before. Jason Burns picked me up for his Monday Bullets feature. David Markland who also has a blog has also been kind enough to shoot me some linky love on LA Metro Blogs mentioning me and other bloggers who attended the Harry Potter Midnight Book Release.

Friday was my last day of work, and I'm looking forward to the time off. I hate last days, as they are awkward. My coworkers and boss took me to lunch, which I had been a ball of nerves about the entire week. I don't like "fusses" being made over me, but once we'd all sat down and ordered our food, I was ok. My contract was a six month contract, at which they hire a new copywriter to bring in the freshness. Sounds weird, but with the volume and repetitiveness of the work, it makes sense. Some people burn out sooner than that. I had become somewhat burned out, and the last month was very difficult. Mainly because we were going through a slow period which for a person like me who requires constant stimulation, is a energy kill. It makes me more tired to be less busy and I found if hard to get up in the mornings. It also affected my creativity. This last week was particularly hard, as I was at zero in my energy reserves. It was a great job though. I'll miss the people and I got some great work out of it. I will enjoy sleeping in tomorrow, oh yes.

During my time off I'll be looking for the next big gig. In the meantime, I've already started those home organization projects I've been meaning to do, have thrown more shit away and am looking for even more shit to toss. It's the classic symptoms anyone gets when they are suddenly looking at a lot of free time. Well, I should say those who normally work full-time jobs who suddenly have a lot of free time. The complete and utter turning of attention inward to my own projects, both organizational and creative. Then, in a month or so I get that work itch again which is just about right, as the search can take a while. It all depends on the demand. I hope I finish something of my own during the time. Since I'm not putting the do or die attitude that I used to toward my own projects, that's more likely to happen.

I mainly get it because I miss being in the presence of people, the work chatter and banter and the lives I get to learn about who are in this along with me. In my line of work, it's always fun to hear about people's personal endeavors. Just about everyone has them. It's the age old question, "So what do you do after school?" I love the myriad of answers I get.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Last week, after a very weird night out, Shannon and I sort of became the POH-lice. I'll get to that later, but it was just an ending to a night that was just all out weird. Last Saturday, we went out on a whim and ended up looking for places that had the right "vibe" where we could have a few drinks and enjoy the nightlife. It was the first warm night in months, and by warm I mean actually warm, where long-legged girls wearing slinky dresses weren't shivering in their stilettos as they waited for the doorman to unhook the velvet rope and let them in.

We weren't really dressed for that kind of night out because we weren't looking for it. We looked "expensive hip" but I wouldn't say either of us were pimping glamorous that night. For one, I had on pants. Not my shimmery designer pants, just black cigarette leg pants. Nice, but not glamorous. Shannon had on expensive jeans and a cool shirt with a neat stitched design in it. Great for 95% percent of the bars and clubs in LA. There's a point to me describing this, by the way.

We stopped at Bar Marmont, then decided to nix it after we found parking was $18. We had started our evening out late and just weren't into paying that much for parking for so little time. Plus, we didn't have reservations and like I said we weren't into nor dressed for doing the full bar thing. Bar Marmont is a bar right next to Chateau Marmont and has experienced a resurgence after reopening with a new owner and chef. We used to go there all the time during its first big wave and then noticed it wasn't "the place it was" for a while. Now, it's back. I remember it because it was the place where I experienced the consequences of mixing my drinks. Luckily, Shannon drove me home and I was able to hold it until then, but it was the sickest I ever remember being. Just miserable. Lesson learned. I haven't been back since then and at some point we'll return so that I can "slay that demon."

Honestly, I've never seen Sunset that busy, and there was just a lot of weirdness in the people going on. You could see the frenetic mood in their eyes. Crowds thronged outside every place and the tow trucks were out in force, towing those who parked at the metered parking on the street. We passed one car with Minnesota plates being hooked up.

"Their night's going to suck," I said, feeling for them. In Minnesota, I'm sure you can park on the street in the club area. Not on Sunset on the weekends. It will be a lesson they'll never forget. By trying to avoid paying $15 to park, they'll now be paying a couple hundred to get their car back. At least. I think I saw the two women who owned the car walking toward some of the hotter bars. They hadn't a chance in hell of getting in, with big, outdated hair, mom jeans, flip flops and Gap shirts. They were in their early to mid-twenties.

Shannon told me of a new place by Urth Caffe that might be just what we were looking for. I was game, so we drove away from Sunset to Melrose by Urth, carefully reading the the parking signs before leaving the car on the street. I asked Shannon the name of the place, and he said he couldn't remember. As we approached, we saw a large group standing on the corner, complete with two dogs who were with one of the men. When we got closer, we realized the group was the paparazzi.

"Fuck," Shannon said. "Private party?"

"We could always ask," I said.

So, we asked the paparazzi, who told us it wasn't. And this is where the funny part came in, and why I explained the way we were dressed. We approached the nameless club that had two well-dressed men standing outside, guarding the entrance. They asked us if we had reservations, and we told them we didn't. They told us they were full, and I asked if they could fit two in who were escaping the madness on Sunset. They were very nice to us, and explained to us that we had to have reservations. I asked them why the paparazzi was out there and one of the men said they were the hottest club on the West Coast at the moment. We said we thought it was a private party but were going to give it a chance. Honestly, the two men couldn't have been nicer, so we thanked them and left. On our way back to the car, I asked Shannon if he ever saw the name of the place. He finally remembered, and when he told me the name I burst out laughing.

HIM: What?

ME: We had no chance in hell of getting in there.

HIM: Why?

ME: Without reservations, you'd have to be Brad Pitt and I'd have to be Angelina Jolie. And we so aren't dressed for it.

HIM: Really?

ME: Yes. If you'd told me the name first, I would have told you to keep driving. You freaking crack me up, you took us to Villa!

HIM: I had no idea. (starts laughing)

To those of you who don't know, Villa is currently the number one most exclusive club to get into. That doorman was correct. They are indeed the hottest place on the West Coast at the moment. To those two doormen, we must have appeared like a couple of tourists from well, Minnesota. Okay, we weren't dressed like a couple from Minnesota, but our genuine looks of being absolutely clueless were probably what saved us from being told to sod off. Plus, we were polite and not obnoxious to the doormen.

We drove to El Carmen, a cool little bar where loud salsa music pounded through the place. It's a small-ish bar with a great selection of drinks and fantastic Mexican wrestler decor. Over 100 kinds of tequila were stacked against the walls, looking like a decadent temptation challenge for a recovering alcoholic. I had a cosmo of course and we decided the place was a little too loud for us after the first drink. It was a great place, just not what we were in the mood for. Of course, every now and then I'd start laughing again and say to Shannon, "We were DENIED at Villa!" Then he'd start laughing. I don't know, it just cracked me up.

Our next stop was Jones, another old standby. It turned out to be the winner. Perfect vibe, we sat on the comfy couches and had our drinks and conversation. When I was ordering drinks, a tipsy girl plopped herself down on Shannon's lap. I wish I'd seen it because I would have laughed. Two guys were next to Shannon, one whose pants were buckled beneath his butt and looked absolutely ridiculous, especially since his t-shirt was tucked into them. Shannon had been talking to them a bit before so the ice was broken. However, I couldn't take looking at the guy's pants anymore. I stood, walked up behind him, grabbed his belt with two hands and yanked up his pants. His friend and Shannon cracked up as I said, "You need to pull up those pants." He had that belt on so tight it was hard, but I got them halfway up. The guy was surprised but went with it. Turns out they were from Canada, having a night out in LA. I have a feeling that having a girl pull his pants up wasn't exactly the night the guy had imagined. Most likely he was hoping a girl would pull them in the opposite direction. He was a good sport about it though.

They made a good cosmo at Jones, and gave me the mini-shaker with the rest of my drink in it. Loved that. I kept refilling the smaller martini glass with the delicious cool, pink liquid. I've had several men, and I mean manly men, write me and tell me that because of this blog they've tried a cosmo. First of all, you guys rock and you're not alone. Second, rest easy as it's a drink that I've dubbed, coined from the commercial, that is "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman." All of you manly manly men, your manhood is still intact. Even more so for being able to stand there with the pink drink.

And that brings us to our last adventure of the night, when we were driving home and saw the truck weaving all over the road. It was a pick-up truck, dark blue and the driver was obviously drunk. People were steering clear and when the guy ran into the curb twice, Shannon and I knew what we had to do.

Cue "Mission Impossible" music here.

I took out my phone and dialed 911 as Shannon followed the guy. Being Los Angeles, I got the, "We're sorry, all operators are currently busy..."

No, I'm not kidding.

LA 911, you gotta fix that. Either get more operators or start fining the jackasses who call 911 for things like the time and directions $500 per infraction. Glad I wasn't being stabbed, shot, chased, hiding in a closet during a home invasion or had just discovered a shirtless drunk David Hasselhoff eating a hamburger in my house.

As the guy driving the car weaved in and out of lanes and stopped at traffic lights halfway into the intersection, Shannon easily stayed on him in his RX8. A 911 operator got on the phone just as we followed him into a gas station. I told the operator the information as he exited his car and stumbled over to the window to buy cigarettes. Shannon got out of the car and followed the driver, an Asian kid who looked barely 21, his outfit borrowed from his favorite rap video replete with a large silver chain around his neck. The kid turned to Shannon, all glassy-eyed and with slurred words, asked him if he was buying cigarettes too. Little did he know that the man behind him was there because he was trying to get him busted and off the road. As they stood there, I told the 911 operator all the details, including a description of the driver, the car and license plate number. After getting his cigarettes, because certainly he needed the distraction of smoking while driving on top of being drunk while driving, he turned around and walked back to the car. I told her he was getting back in to drive. He pulled away, and Shannon got back into the car and we peeled off after him.

However, When we turned onto the road, the truck was gone.

There was an entrance to the freeway right by the gas station, so I told the operator that he may have turned onto it. I heard her relaying the information to the cops and a few seconds later she told me that an officer was behind the truck. Fantastic. After hanging up with 911, we got on the freeway and sure enough, about a mile down, three cop cars had pulled the guy over and already had him out on the curb. Shannon and I high-fived each other when we saw it. Somehow he'd gotten onto Forest Lawn Drive but they'd found him or, when they pulled him over he drove over there. Well done, Burbank Police Department and California Highway Patrol. How they got on him that fast, I have no idea. When we had been at the gas station the 911 operator told me that a car was on its way there, so either they had anticipated him getting on the freeway or there was another officer who had been in the area and listening to the dispatch. Either way, that kid was going to jail that night and going to get a hard knocks lesson on not endangering others or himself like that. Shannon told me he saw a girl in the car with him at the gas station.

Mission Accomplished. This post will self destruct in five seconds.