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.