Saturday, February 26, 2011

This One is for the Mommies

On a whim, I posted an ad for Cupcake to get fostered on Craigslist. There has been hesitance to post on CL since . . . you just don't know who is up to what on that thing. But a volunteer for Voices for Animals told me they use it for emergency placement of fosters and I should consider it. 

I sat on that for a week or two.  Then another volunteer from Cupcake's original shelter advised that I used my natural talent to write a little story about the Cupsmeister. 

So I wrote:


Cupcake was adopted from West Valley Shelter in April of 2010. She was so terrified the first week, she wouldn't leave her crate even to relieve herself. After a week, she came out to sunbathe with the other dogs and hung out on the couch with me. Still, if a loud song came on she would suddenly try to jump out my second story window and urinate on the sill. If a new person came into the house, she would cower in the corner and freeze in a sitting position with her tail so far between her legs, it was pressed up against her tummy.

When Cupcake came alive she was in the park with my other dogs, Esther and Maggie. She ran like she had wings. She learned the ball wasn't going to be thrown at her, but for her. She learned how to jump over other dogs like hurdles and then, one of the best moments in my life, she learned how to smile.

We tried a few adoption fairs, but she was so overwhelmed by the noise and the new people that she never stood a chance against the happy puppies or wiggle butts who already knew how to love strangers. She was confused and only found a couple pats on the heads from folks as she leaned against my leg or another dog, but she was never held or kissed.

Six months later, we spent more time together. I found a boyfriend who took her for walks and spoiled her with treats. She slowly started wagging her tail. Eventually, she was approaching men to smell them, and then kiss them. She was learning how to be a dog.

Cupcake is just a foster, which I keep reminding myself. She is happy here with me, dancing for her bowl of kibble, climbing on my lap for tofu and cuddling with my two dogs in front of the TV set. I am not a rescue and don't have the resources for rescue. I need to place Cupcake.

She is about 25-30lbs.and the color of a caramel macchiato. She is still learning basic commands as even when I raise my hand with a treat in it, she backs away in hesitation. She is also still learning how to move her body, so she will hurl herself at you for a hug. She tries to high five with both paws at the same time :-) As Cupcake is finding gentle in excitement, like a puppy, she is not right for a family with children under the age of 10. She loves other dogs and I hope to find her a home with siblings so she can blossom alongside a kindred spirit, as she has done with my girls here.

We are back at the adoption fairs, and she found the courage to approach women and children, but still hears excuses like, “If I didn’t have a cat, I would take her home right now” or “If I didn’t live out of state, I would take her home in a heartbeat.” Cupcake has survived excuses but needs someone to give her a chance with a real home. Can you be her hero?

**

Ok, its nothing brilliant, but I posted it.
Two days later, I received three inquiries. One was from a grip who worked on a Disney TV show in Torrance. After I called and spoke to him about Cupcake, I broke down crying. Mind you, I was sick and just finished a job in West LA working valet on a private party. I also missed my unemployment benefits phone interview the two minutes my phone wasn't getting reception and had to rush down to the Unemployment office and beg to return the call. 

It was a tough day, but after talking to this guy, I knew my days with The Cake were numbered.

I looked up this guy's email and tried to pin point it to anything via google. There was nothing.

The next morning, there were the other two inquiries. One from an alcohol/drug rehabilitation coach in Simi Valley, which, lets face it . . . is perfect for a dog with serious personality issues:

"I am very interested in meeting Cupcake! Her story broke my heart. My dog, Norman passed away the week after Christmas, we rescued him as well. After hearing about Cupcake, my husband and I have decided that it is time to bring another dog into our family. We live in Simi Valley. I work full time during the day, and my husband goes to school at night so she wouldn't be home alone that often. We visit our parents occasionally, both have dogs- they miss Norman and I'm sure would love Cupcake. If she is still available for adoption, we would like to meet her!

I look forward to hearing back from you soon!"

The other email was far less personal.

I cyber stalked her, looked at her Facebook profile, read a a blurb published in a magazine about drug counseling. Then I wrote back Simi Valley and told them I would bring her up the next morning for an introduction, and cancelled with the grip guy. It sounded like he was working long hours and he waited til the last minute to text me his address with no personal note. 

When I asked to reschedule since I felt sick, he just wrote, "Feel Better."

Screw that guy! The Cake, The Comic and I all drove up to Simi Valley. She walked into their house, saw her reflection in a wall mirror down the hallway and ran into herself. Ha ha. Dork.

She explored their enclosed yard, but just followed me around their spa and outdoor BBQ/patio. We went back inside and she sat on Norman's old bed. She was far more curious and brave than usual. It seemed like a sign to me. 

The couple asked for a day or two to make up their minds, and we left.

Abe thinks I am psychic, and I don't know if I am, but all day I felt like they missed her. You know when you meet someone or you find the dog meant for you, and after they leave, your house feels more empty. Like the missing piece of the puzzle only came to visit before falling back on the ground again.

After 5 hours, they left a message saying that even after they visited some dogs at the shelter, they couldn't stop thinking about Cupcake. I called on my lunch break and heard my voice crack, "Great. I think its a good fit. I can bring her up tomorrow morning . . ."

It rained. I needed a drink. Abe asked if they were open to adopting a "middle aged" couple. Har har. He means us.

I drove The Cake and Abe up to Simi Valley the next morning. Her crate took up the whole back seat, so Abe had her on the floor of the car in front of him. She crawled up. He tried keeping her down but then said, "Ok fine. You just want to be close to Mommy. Fine. Go to Mommy." 

That word: "Mommy". I love hearing it. I love it like no other word in the dictionary. Funny thing is I never think about my own mother when I hear it. It makes me feel like I am wearing a heavy crown full of warmth, and fur and love. She sat on the edge of my driver's seat, leaning against me with all her body weight. Thinking about how that felt, her body melting into mine just so I could drop her off . . . it takes a cut out of me.

When we walked in, she cowered on the kitchen floor and looked up at me terrified. That is typical Cupcake. No big deal. I stroked her, explained food, went through all of her medical records and then bent down. 

There was that moment. Nothing more to say, only silence. It was time for me to go.

My voice cracked, "Ok .. . ok." They offered me time alone with her but my heart couldn't take it.

My eyes were welling with salt water and I said, "I don't think I can take it. I think I have to go."

The wife hugged me hard like we were old friends and said, "Thank you."

I said, "You spoil that girl." And I rushed out, wiping my face off, and saw Abe finishing a cigarette at the edge of their driveway. He walked towards me. All I did was wave my hand and say, "I can't handle it. I can't handle it."

He then proceeded to drive us one block down to stop at a garage sale and look at a used carpet cleaner when neither of us owns carpet. The whole thing was mystifying seeing as he only had $10 to donate to my gas for the day and this carpet cleaner was $20. 

Abe, "Babe, could we use a carpet cleaner?" I said, flatly, "No."

On the way back, he kept going on and on about this book he is reading called "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." Its amazing he is whizzing through the thing since on our first date, he claimed he never read a book in entirety. I knew that couldn't be true since he is far too articulate but . . . I digress.

As I cried AND drove us back to LA, he spoke about how I have to look at the dogs as assets. How the book states there are liabilities and assets in life and even if you love someone, they are either a liability or an asset to your finances. He suggested I enroll my PIT BULLS into a casting agency and recover money using them for a pet food campaign. Yeah, can you imagine a Pedigree commercial with pit bulls?

He also said that Rich Dad didn't give raises to his employees because they don't know how to properly manage their finances. So instead of losing money by giving employees a raise, he kept the money, managed it properly and made more money for the company. Nice.

This whole conversation was pissing me off. My last two bosses never gave any raises or bonuses. It was this same God damn entitlement bullshit. They deserve it because they are Harvard Grads, or they are from some East Coast bullshit blood line. GO FUCK YOURSELF! If you work for the money, it is YOUR money! If I want to spend it rescuing pit bulls that is my prerogative. I don't need some ass fuck with his testes in a knot to justify ripping me off because he manages money better than I do. 

GUH! I could have ripped Abe's head off! I was furious.

I don't really talk when I am furious. I just boil, quietly. Eventually, he asked, "Do you think I am going to be a bad dad because of how I am acting over Cupcake?" Not even a second, I snapped, "Yes."

Abe was confused as to why I was so upset when I found the Cake a good home. Why was I attached to a dog that chewed up all my things and consumed so much money and time. Why?

How can this person claim to be in love with me and not know why?

The next few days, I was a wreck. My eyes were swollen. No make-up. No contact lenses. My hair was just a fucking rat's nest. I felt like my wings were clipped.

I kept thinking about Meryl Streep at the train station in Sophie's Choice. The Nazi barking, "Which child goes on the train? You choose or I take both!"

Sophie, "No. My little girl. Take my little girl!"

Ok, I realize I gave up The Cake to a loving couple who live in a higher economic demographic than myself, and not the Nazis. I know. Am I being dramatic? The question is, why did I have to give her up? Why didn't I just adopt her?

I am overwhelmed and she wasn't learning with two other dogs at home. My chaotic mess of an apartment was stunting her growth because it was never really her home. Why does that make me feel like a failure?

The Cake's new name is Esta and she is following her path, not mine.

I brought her home.

Why did I wait until February to try to find her a new home? Because they still had Norman and weren't ready the first couple months after his death.

Why did I wait til that moment to post an ad on Craigslist? Because that was the moment they would be looking.

Everything falls under this intricate time line. Everything happened at an exact moment, so the Cake could find her way home. And I had the privilege of taking her there.

I am reading a book myself, one recommended by Abe's Mom called "House Rules". Its about a single mom with two teenage sons. The eldest suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. The other is healthy but doesn't have much of a life as his brother requires so much care and structure. The chapters are written from various characters perspectives . . . much like The Help.


She gives up everything just to keep her sons going even though her eldest can't empathize with her at all. He only studies her like she is an insect. 


Caring for him and keeping her family going is all there is to her identity. She thrives on it. Color coordinating meals, cooling down violent temper tantrums, working to bring in the money for the mortgage . . . all of that consumes every cell in her body and she kind of loves that.


The oldest son is arrested and incarcerated on murder, since Asperger's Syndrome carries many characteristics of a guilty criminal during interrogation (ie. no eye contact, inability to connect, twitching or other nervous behavior) and the mother is free for three days while her son sits in a jail cell.


In those three days, she felt no freedom, didn't go out to eat or take a bath, she didn't inhale a little deeper. She freaked the fuck out and stayed at the jail house until she got her son back. 


Her character writes, "Real mothers know that its okay to eat cold pizza for breakfast.

Real mothers admit it is easier to fail at this job than succeed.

If parenting is the box of raisin bran, then real mothers know the ratio of flakes to fun is severely imbalanced . . . Real mothers may not speak the heresy, but they sometimes secretly wish they'd chosen something for breakfast other than this endless cereal.

Real mothers worry that other mothers will find that magic ring, whereas they'll be looking and looking for ages.

Rest easy, real mothers. The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one."


I am not a mother by any traditional sense of the word. As I explained to Em's husband, "I have been pregnant twice and never had a live birth, but I feel worse about giving up my foster dog to another family. Does that make me a bad mom? Or an un-mom as it were?"

He said I was freaking him out. 
Its not that I connect more to animals than I would a child, I want a child too. Its just . . . loving them,nurturing them is the center of my universe. It keeps all my planets in orbit. It keeps my stars on fire and my sun ablaze. It is indefinable.

While GChatting with Lana on-line, I wrote I had to sign off and cry. She wrote, "You are a good mom. I wish you were mine." I am not sure there could ever be a higher compliment. I will take those golden words to my grave.

**
Email from Simi Valley:

"We are so happy that you like the name Esta! I was a little worried about it, but I wanted to be completely honest with you since Esta means so much to you. Esta has been coming around the past couple of days. John took her to the vet and she was leaning on him the whole time. On the ride home she rested her head on his arm- we were very excited about that! She is such a sweet dog, I can't wait until she is comfortable enough to want to snuggle with us and watch movies. This weekend we are planning on Esta having a little play date with our neighbors' dogs. We are also going to try and get her to explore the rest of the house. She has pretty much stayed in the kitchen and living room since she moved in.

I will keep you posted on Esta's progress and we will be sure to send you pictures soon! :)"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Where do we go? Where do we go now? Oh, oh, oh Sweet Child . . . O'Minnnnnneeee

Jesus, what a fucking week.

The stress is like white noise now; ever present, heavy and constant.

I have been making ends meet since my unemployment was suspended back in December by working at the Doggie Daycare, then filling in any gaps with background work.

When booking background work, you basically register with Central Casting. They do background for every major television show or feature film in Los Angeles. Once you stand in-line for an hour or two, get your measurements down and they take a photo of you, you are in. Its free unless you want to submit a picture of yourself- which costs $25 or something.

The women that work at Central tend to be a bit snooty to you. They give the men an extra photo to improve themselves. The women they won't even return a smile. In fact, they will drop the smile in the 0.2 seconds you make eye contact with them. 

You get a phone number based on your gender and union status. Then you call that number, also referred to as the information line, and listen to job postings usually meant for gigs the next day. Then you copy down the number to the agent on the listing. You call them over and over and over again, I would say 60 plus times, until you get through. Then, they ask for the first five digits of your social security number and review your picture. If they think you will work, they book you and give you the "Booking" number with all call time, location and wardrobe info. If they don't think you are "hot" enough or something, they say, "I am gonna pass. Thank you." Click.

Booking work for yourself is a full time gig. You have to check the information line every half hour, or during peak times. Often on set as background, you see a group of actors standing in a circle all on cell phones trying to book themselves for the next gig. They will give tips to other actors with listings, and if you are lucky and next to someone who got through on the line, they might pass the phone to you to book on it so you don't have to drain your cell phone battery calling in every 2 seconds.

Rush calls are casting calls to set working in a few hours or later that day. Those usually post first thing in the morning.

Then there are a slew of calls around 10am, noon (where they usually tell you to call back after lunch) 3pm, and 5pm. I have the best luck trying to book myself at 5pm.

What people don't understand about background work is a) you do not audition b) you are paid minimum wage if you are non-union c) you are considered lower on the food chain than catering or janitorial people.

Usually I can pull in $70 with meal penalities (around $8), booking my car with me on a job ($12 bump) or other miscellanious perks like working with artificial smoke, sometimes providing your own costume, sometimes gas compensation if the set is far away . . . those do add up though they are minimal.

Bones 



I worked Bones a few weeks ago up in San Gabriel Valley. My mom is a big fan of the show but the only episodes I have seen are patched together through a few family visits.

The episode mentioned below has not aired yet, but it will be in the sixth season.








Abe's Mom recommends the best books to me. Honestly, if I could support myself doing background and reading in the sunshine every day on set, that's exactly what I would do. She gave me The Help by Kathryn Stockett which is thicker than a Warlock's genitals but an easy read.

Abe's aunt spoke about it and said its an amazing book because one chapter she will identify with the black maids of 1962, and the next she would indentify with the rich Southern Belles overwhelming themselves with hectic social lives while running a household.

I only ever identified with the maids.

I plowed through that book like it was a brownie bowl. Page after page after after page, I couldn't stop. Once in a while I would take a breather, but I couldn't wait too long before jumping in their world again.

If you were to identify me in the background of CSI NY or Bones, you would see I am the one holding up the big yellow book.

While doing background, nobody really bothers you with too much direction. You can kinda show up with what you want to wear and bring what you want with you on set, and no one will bother you. There is a wonderful anonymity to it all. This is bittersweet, since we all want to be discovered. Secretly, we all hope the director or the producer will notice US and something will suddenly change.

I don't know if that actually happens or if those stories are simplified and passed along on trashy morning programs and in background gossip circles just to keep us going.

On set, I was moved around a lot in one scene. One minute, I am placed in line to buy coffee, then moved to the side to be one of the blurry figures who crosses camera so there appears to be life around the principal actors. Then I was moved back into the coffee line and all the time, I was reading my book.

In the scene,  Emily Deschanel is jogging up to the coffee stand with David Boreanaz. When we shoot, she runs into me. Now, I wasn't expecting that. Usually, while working background, you don't want to do too much. You want to be noticed but not for ruining a shot. So I sway with the force of her hand on my shoulder, don't look up and keep reading. I mean, we are Washington, D.C. right? Who the fuck cares?

Halfway through the morning shoot, the Assistant Director runs up to me. I looked up. He said, "See? When someone runs up to you, you look up." I said, "Ok, so you want me to react. I wasn't sure." He said, "Yeah react, and get a little testy with the wait in line for your coffee."

I closed my book suddenly, "Oh! You want me to act! Well, thats what I am here to do. I will throw in a little bitch for some ambience."

He smiled, "Great. What's your name?" I told him.

We did the scene, and at first I overdid it of course. Way to self aware. By the last take I was perfect, of course Emily never got the lines out the same way take to take, so who knows how they are going to patch together that whole situation.

Later that day, we were redressed as Federal employees and asked to walk around a night scene. We waited, then walked, then waited, then walked. Its all pretty boring.

When I had my book with me, everyone had to engage me, "Hey, what book is that?" "Good, huh? What's it about?" "Hey, I think you are going to finish that book today." YEAH, I KNOW, IF YOU STOP TALKING TO ME!

Reading in public is always such an aggrevation.

Towards the end, they let everyone go. One of the background wranglers was suddenly paged, "What? You want to keep the brunette at the coffee stand? Let me see." She looks to us, "Was anyone here in the coffee stand scene?" I raised my hand. I was the only brunette left.

She said, "Whats your name?" I told her. She repeated it into the walkie. Then she turned back to me, "They want you and one other actor to stay for another scene."

Was this is it? My big break? A voucher maybe for my troubles?

In the end, I was retained but not used. They just wanted background for another shot and maybe the AD liked me, laughed at my jokes- but at the end of the day, I am just another extra.

You hope they call Central and ask to book you for a real audition, or make you a regular background person (which would insure a steady paycheck and vouchers for the union) but there are just too many of us. I was remembered that day, but wouldn't be remembered tomorrow.

1000 Ways to Die

The next week, or the week after . . . its all a haze to me right now, I booked work on Spike TV's 1000 Ways to Die which I have never seen.

This time, I booked through www.lacasting.com. The show explores various bizarre scenarios in which people have died. They are one of the few shows who will book someone non-union for a principal role in the recreation. Usually, for female characters, they insist on casting someone super hot and for whatever reason, that has not been me.

I was able to book myself on background as a spectator at a baby oil wrestling match. These sets are suprisingly minimal compared to something like Bones. Same distance (thereabouts) in a hole in the wall out in San Gabriel Valley but no gas compensation and the worse oatmeal imaginable to man waiting on a folding table in the parking lot for us.

I showed up with a new book and helped myself to some fresh fruit and a bagel. I am back on carbs. Abe says he can feel my ribs now when he holds me, and insists I start eating more. Since Murray passed away, whatever desire I had to eat just stopped. Even now, I force myself with a few hits of ganja to put food in my mouth. Its not because I want to lose weight. It just is right now.

My mother called, "How is our actress?"

My heart leapt with joy. That is the first time she acknowledged I was an actress by trade.

Me, "Awww, you called me an actress."

Mom, "Yesssss. How was your play opening last night?"

I said, "Good, you know. I am not a fan of theater. It just seems alien compared to film. I am a method girl, like Marlon Brando or Dustin Hoffman." Though, they did theater, too.

Mom, "I'll be darned. How many people showed up?"

Me, "Almost a full house. Like 14 people."

My mother erupted in laughter. Mom, "Hey, that reminds me of that scene in The Big Lebowski. You know the one? Where the landlord invites the Dude to his play. hahahahaHAHAHA!"

My mother didn't even like that movie when I first introduced it to them. My parents were visiting me at Undergrad and brought their VCR with them to the motel. I brought over a copy of the movie from my friends' dorm. All my mother said afterward was, "That was weird."

The film resonated with my Dad and his opinion is the one that ends up becoming "their" opinion. I find that irritating.

After the Mom-Pep-Talk, I was brought in to a set roughly the size of a studio apartment. We were placed around a child's size swimming pool next to two large bottles of baby oil. I was moved once, then twice, then ended up directly behind the judge's table where the baby oil wrestler would fall to her death.

There were about 10 crew members. The director was slightly overweight, middle aged, had a wedding ring on and was just putting his hours in. The prop guy, a large gentleman, came by and popped drinks in everyone's hand. He handed me a whiskey bottle.

The wrestlers came out and I was eager to see how "hot" they were compared to me since they landed a principal role. They weren't. But to be fair, they were professional wrestlers. I decided to be the drunk whiskey girl and shout at them during the match while sloppily spilling whiskey out of the top of my bottle. I may have even thrown in a few spittles in there if the lens got close enough to me.

The guy next to me shot a few dirty looks my way and said, "You know you are spilling that on my shoes."

There is always one surly extra. I said, "I know, its for effect. Can you deal with that as an actor?" He didn't answer me and returned to oogling at the wrestlers as a tit accidentally popped out here or there. He promptly informed the girls, "We are seeing a lot more than you think. Har har har." He was disgusting.

Abe says men make inappropritate comments like that because they think that is what is expected of them. Otherwise, they aren't seen as masculine. Pigs.

When it came time for the girl to fall backwards onto the spike on the judge's bell, right in front of me, I was centered in the frame. She dropped and the camera is left on me giving my reaction shot; holding a whiskey bottle with my jaw open. I heard, "Cut!" and looked up to the Director of Photography and his Assistant Camera guy, they were both staring at me and giggling. They said, "I don't know what it is about you, but you are hilarious."

VICTORY!!!! Yeah- thats when I nab a bag of nutter butters and call it a day.


Entourage


Central held an open call for Season 8 of Entourage. An open call is when anyone can show up. Its kind of a nightmare.

Central asked to take two recent pictures of us in a business suit and a bikini. So, in the pouring rain with an intense head cold, I showed up in a business suit with only a bikini on underneath. The line was out the door so I had to stand in the rain for a few minutes.

People always feel sorry for me when I am cold because I start chattering, and shaking and it all seems very dramatic. If I am under an a/c vent you would think I was thrown overboad in the North Atlantic.

With a fist full of toilet paper to blow my nose and wet hair, I waited in line for 3 1/2 hours to have a boy pop my new measurements into their database. He helped me with the measuring tape.

He said, "So skinny."

I said, "Awwww, thank you. Thats the best thing I have heard today."

He smiled, "Have you been working on that?"

I said, "You bet."

It was another 40 minutes before my pictures were taken in the back room. This time it was three girls who were not chummy with me. The girls in front of me smiled at them and thanked them. I don't know if that really sticks to "I was unpopular in high school" syndrome. I just do my thing.

Casting girl, (sharply) "NEXT IN LINE!"

I popped up in my heels, one was holding a loose toenail on. I felt like shit and worry I looked like it.

One click.

Casting Girl #2, "Ok, now your bikini."

I stripped, still a little wet from the rain, under their fans. Shivering, I stood in front of camera and forced a smile. I hate forcing smiles. I don't think it looks good.

One click.

Casting girl, (sharply) "NEXT IN LINE!"

***

While driving around with Abe shortly after, we were on the topic once again about moving in. If I don't make some dramatic changes to my lifestyle, I will flounder into poverty. The more I think about me and Abe, the more I believe that after a year, we should be making plans for the next step.

Even with my background work and doggie daycare, it is not enough. And, I want to build a family and a more stable life so we both can be comfortable and happy.

Abe thinks moving in is "just like getting married. And I am not ready to get married yet." He also argued, "You do all this work all the time for your animals. You bust your ass every day to get money and get ahead. You need to be doing that for yourself not your animals."

I don't know if I would be working as much if I didn't have to bring home a 50lb bag of dog kibble every few weeks. Sometimes we work harder when its for someone else.

Why can't he feel that way about me?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Was Drunk When I Wrote This

Ok, people will tell you one thing that matters in this town is playing it cool with egotistical ASSHOLES! That said, anyone with a camera or a stage seems to think you owe them a compliment and a coca-cola. Well, I am out of coca-colas.

I worked for some real fucking assholes in production and distribution, and can tell you, no matter how many hours you put in, no matter what side projects you take on, they will NOT give you a pay raise or a title change. There are some people out there that simply want you to be a measure of where they stand at Hollywood Sea Level. Well, after being fired from my last job, I just don't see the point in kissing privileged ass anymore. Just because your parents' trust funded your distribution company, or funded some theater over a strip mall or PAID for your bullshit education, does NOT mean that I am your waitress/ego depository for this evening.

SO FUCK YOU!

I have long been a believer that people who make things too personal are wasting my time, so I coined my phrase "Ego Over Efficiency." Their ego is worth more than the net profit of their company, the well being/job security of their employees, and the execution of the project. EGO over EFFICIENCY.

I have dealt with it in multiple facets of the industry, it happens. Usually, I bite my tongue. But after feeling victimized over the last four years of my career . . . I am not biting my tongue any fucking more.

Today, I was in a decent mood. I wasn't in a great mood either.

A few days ago, things were already intense with my boyfriend. I was venting about the endless audio on my pilot which is far too complicated for anyone to work on for free. While asking Abe about my performance on stage, he snapped back that I was too loud. In addition, he said, "You are a seasoned actress. Can't you gauge your own performance by now?"

I said, "No, asshole." And shut down.

I don't argue anymore since Not-for-Profit. All arguments led to pushing. I just don't desire aggression. I prefer silence.

So it was my fault I shut down. He expounded on his one main criticism, ex. his ears were ringing because my voice was too loud in a small theater. Blah fucking blah. FUCK. I mean . . . FUCK!

I kept asking everyone if I was too loud. From the beginning, I have modeled "Jolie" over the woman who helped me learn how to train my pit bulls. Her name is Lori, and she is tall, intimidating and strange. She said, with her rescue pitties, she would occasionally throw a heavy phone book down hard on the ground to get their attention- just to keep them on edge and aware that she is present and unpredictable. They pay attention. That was my strategy with the character.

Of course, Abe's cold critique was followed up by the ultimate, heartwarming question "Is it all worth it?" He asked me just yesterday, "How long will you be trying to act and me trying to crew before all of this stops?" I have been trying for over a year and getting somewhere. How can he relate that to his experience of not trying and getting nowhere?

Gawd, I was pissed. Again, the more pissed I am . . . the less I say.

I wasn't talking to Abe when he pulled into his Grandmother's driveway Friday night for Shabbat's dinner. While we were there, I refilled his soup bowl, I bragged about him, I complimented his hair cut, and I held warm conversation with his family.

When we left, he expected the same performance. No. That's not how it works. I turned off and went home immediately afterward.

He thinks my recent depression has been indicative of my interest in other men. He discovered droplets of foreign urine on the inside of my toilet seat. Somehow, he has assembled a conspiracy theory that I am acting depressed (NOT because I am broke, unable to make rent and my cat died) but because I am trying to break up with him to be with someone else. Now that makes a lot of fucking sense!

For Valentine's Day, we put everything aside to be together. After a weekend of hanging out with my friends, playing with dogs and calling it "work", I promised all my attention would be on him. No casting breakdowns. No phone calls. No rehearsals. No auditions. No work. Just Abe.

We made love about five times. Drank a few mimosas. I was supposed to make him pancakes, but I kind of stopped at the mimosas while he made breakfast. We took the dogs for a hike, came back and made love some more. Then got dressed and went to a club to watch MORTIFIED! A show I was looking forward to all month.

Of course, when we made it in, halfway through the performance I fainted. Reasons unknown. Could it be that I was dehydrated, oversexed, my knees were locked or I had a little more than a nibble from a prescription edible . . . who knows. But I turned into him and blacked out. For about a minute, I was unconscious. I remember my ears ringing and opening my eyes only to see black.

I thought I heard Abe's voice, but just asked, "Where am I?" I came to, and security was escorting me out with a water bottle. I wasn't allowed back in without talking to the manager and I had 3/4 of a pot cookie in my purse so . . . nevermind. We decided to leave.

Somehow the experience has made me all the more attached to him. Fainting into someone's arms actually made me feel needy. Or maybe it was the voice drawing me out of darkness. Go figure.

Abe stood by my side and kept saying, "Don't scare me like that, baby. I was really worried."

Later, Abe said, "Are you sure this isn't some weird manipulation to keep me from leaving?" Sigh. I just don't know how to teach that boy common sense. We all get insecure when intimacy reaches a certain, unforseen level but COME ON.

Wednesday, was our second show of Reservoir Bitches.

I was depressed anyway. The DMV is fining me an extra$107 for late payment on my car tags. My hair modeling gig from two weeks ago informed me they will take up to 50 days to send payment. I was also feeling unhealthy since passing out; sore throat and fatigue. I kept eating and sleeping and hydrating, but I was still a little off.

Before going on stage and getting into character, I told myself to get in the groove. I imagine a needle falling on vinyl, and that delicious silence just before static and then . . . music.

Get in the groove.

I kept having to urinate and said, back stage, "I can't believe I have to pee again."

Pink said, "Phantom pee."

Brown said, "Yeah, don't believe it. Its not real, that's just the phantom pee."

Then Pink said, "Its me that smells back here, by the way."

I said, "Actually, its my right arm pit. I don't know why, but it constantly perspires more than the left. And my arm pit hair grows twice as fast in there, too."

Evie said, "I am having my period next week, so be prepared."

I said, "I thought you had your period last week."

She said, "I am always having my period."

We did a speed read and nailed down our lines. In the actual performance, I still throw out an unexpected line or two, to keep it invigorating. What was I going to change up this week?

Our musical cue came on. "Foxy Lady" . . . You look so ... good. We filed on stage.

ME: "I will go pay the bill. You girls leave the tip. It should be about a buck a piece. And you, when I come back, I want my book back.

MS. WHITE: "Sorry, Jolie. Its my book now."

ME (to Ms. Blonde): "I changed my mind. Shoot this cottage cheese queef."

(laughter from the audience) Yeah . . . that's what I want. The laughter, not the silence.

Ms. Orange was missing lines and picking up later in the scene.

All of us were stuttering, starting a sentence over, low energy. It wasn't a great performance.

My monologue was maybe its best.

"Under no circumstances, do you tell anyone who you are or anything about yourself. That includes, where you're from, what size dildos you keep at home (improvised), the date of your last period (improvised), how many live births you have had (improvised), where you may have done time, some bank in St. Petersburg you may have robbed."

I guess you have to go to a gynecologist once a year to get some of those jokes.

At the end, I scream at Ms. Pink, "I will move on when I am fucking ready to move on. Jesus Christ, you bitches are hurting my singing voice (improvised)" Now, no one laughed last week because I left it at that. My idea was to test my vocals with a little "Do Re Me Fah So La Te" but Em said she didn't like it. Of course, at the bar after opening night, her husband suggested that I do just that.

So I did something in between, "You bitches are hurting my singing voice. Ahhhh. (lower) Ahhh. FUCK! Let's go to work." Lights fade. Laughter. Yeah, there it was. Tweeking for comedy.

There was a little wine sipping. Some crackers. Some cigarettes between scenes.

Evie came in and said, "I just asked Ms. Brown to watch our stuff while we were all on in the next scene, and the director (the FAT FUCK Albertson mentioned in my previous blog) said, 'Hey everyone, steal their stuff."

Just so happens, my prop address book was stolen twice. Em's jacket was stolen. As was all of our prop guns.

Now, the last time we asked for a place to keep all our props, the fuck said, "Hey, we have three productions going on here at all times, including rehearsals and auditions, and an AA meeting. SO TAKE ALL YOUR PROPS HOME!"

Now he was joking about stealing our stuff. I get it, but, you don't give us any percentage of ticket sales, make us buy our own costumes and props and replace the stolen props out of pocket ... THEN make a joke about it. Pardon me, but fuck you, asshole!

So after we did a total cluster fuck over the final lines and our three way execution, I asked him, "Hey, a few of our things were stolen during the last production. I heard you made a joke about stealing our stuff, but could you be sensitive about that since-"

He cut me off, "Why didn't you bring this up before?"

I said, "It doesn't matter, I am only asking-"

He said, "You are waiting to complain to me about it now instead of last week when you should of."

I said, "I am not complaining about it."

He continued, "What did I tell you? Take all your props home. Now you are going to whine to me about it being stolen."

His voice got louder. My cast and another cast were changing in the dressing room.

He continued, "Figure it out. It was great talking to you!"

He walked out the door. I closed it and said, "Yeah, it was wonderful."

He burst back through, "Excuse me? What did you say? What's your name?"

I said, "Smiette." I was tipsy and meant to say Miette from "City of Lost Children."

He said, "Alright Smiette, one more word and you are fired. That's all it takes. Anything to say? I will fire your ass."

I said, "Ouch."

He said, "That's it, you are fired."

I said, "Oh bummer."

He said, "You are easily replaced. No problem."

I sipped my wine. Fuck this guy.

Pink got in front of me and begged him to take a breath, give this some space, collect ourselves.

He said, "Why is she standing back there with a smirk on her face? Believe me, I have dropped in during your performance and she ain't much. If I replace her, trust me, I am doing you a favor."

This fat fuck hasn't dropped into anything but a Dairy Queen, ok? It was so pathetic and unprofessional, I really wasn't offended. I mean, this piece of shit playhouse doesn't even register on Facebook when I try to check-in. Really? Do I care? Honestly, no.

Honest to God, the first thing I thought of was the ability to book work on Wednesdays.

He kept barking at me like his small dick could only get bigger and told me I was banished from the theater forever. He ordered me to leave. Whatever. I said, "I am waiting to help carry down props."

He said, "Why? You clearly can't keep track of them." Yeah, since they were stolen out of your halfway house? Again. Is that supposed to hurt from someone who makes plays WORSE? I mean, really, I know high schools that execute more sophisticated performances.

I should say here, I was biting my tongue. This guy reminds me very distinctly of a character on the Lifetime series, "Human Trafficking". A Russian sex slave is dragged up and thrown in front of this fat fuck to give him a blow job. Instead of performing, she throws herself out a second story window. Yeah, that's this guy. An immigrant would rather DIE than suck him off.

At this point, it threatened to pull the plug on the entire production. The other girls seemed upset by that so I gracefully bowed out of the conversation.

I grabbed the box and started leaving.

He said, "You will never work my theater again."

I said, "You call this theater . . . HA!"

He kept saying "Get her out!" like there was some invisible security team escorting me out.

Mitchell, our director, screamed "Stop!" before retiring to his booth to rub his temples and get misty eyed over the whole thing.

I mean, really? Its a shitty play. WHO CARES!?

Down at the Woods (the bar below) everyone cared. The cast's guy friends were outside smoking while I waited for Em. They kept apologizing for the drama like it mattered. I waved my hands in the air and said, "What? To lose a role at this theater house? Please. Like this elevates my career."

They laughed.

We went down and Pink bought me a beer. She said, "If I were you, I would be crying right now." I said, "Why?"

I mean. . . its mystifying to me. Who the fuck cares? I left four years of the film industry so I wouldn't have to suck air out of assholes for a few dollars. Now, this douche was putting me in that same position for no money. Really, I had nothing to lose.

Everyone kept consoling me. It was exactly like being fired from my assistant job at a third rate distribution company; everyone thought I was in denial or hiding my true despair. Honestly, the smegma (look it up) who push me around, push actresses around in lieu of a sex life, are so pathetic and comical, I am truly perplexed why anyone would give a blue nut WHY I am excused from the burden of performing in some trough trying to pass off as a urinal.

Evie said, "You have to know when to talk to these guys. Power of the pussy. You ask them when they are down after a show, not when they are high in the middle of the show." She was right but who the fuck cares. I asked him when I had time, as a professional.

What I was more upset about was meeting Pink's "Baby Daddy" with no understanding of why he wasn't engaged to her. I asked Em to help watch myself with him, I could feel the anger rising as he tickled her ear from across the bar. They had a four year-old girl, for Christ's sake.

White, Brown and Pink all worked on me to apologize to this piece of shit. They had families and friends coming to the next two shows and needed me to be there. We all got a round of champagne and Em dumped half her glass into mine. A few cigarettes and I was feeling good enough to confront Pink's Baby Daddy.

I said, "That Pink. She's a good girl."

He said, "She is."

I said, "So why aren't you married to her?"

He said, "Uh, a couple things are missing."

I said, "You have a beautiful baby and . . . is she the love of your life?"

He said, (thoughtful at first) "Yeah, she is."

I said, "Well then, what could be missing with a gorgeous baby and the love of your life?"

He said, "She isn't sexual enough. I mean, since she had the baby."

I said, "That's it?"

He said, "I can't believe I am opening up to you about this, but yeah, a few things are missing and I want to be 100% before committing to a woman."

I said, "I already know you knocked her up through the withdrawal method, so don't worry about opening up too much. Everything can be worked out if the love is solid and she deserves a ring."

He said, "She knows why I won't propose and she is cool with it."

I said, "Every girl wants to believe that she is worth marrying. And that girl is worth marrying."

He said, "Yeah, she deserves better than me."

I told him that was a lame excuse shortly before I was dragged back into the Woods. I couldn't help but wonder if all my venom had to do with my boyfriend. He isn't ready to move in, even though I am facing losing my apartment. When would he be ready? We have been together for almost a year? I am over 30. Like, you stop fucking around after 31, you know? Mother Nature ain't pressing pause on the remote control. I wasted time on Not-for-Profit, I am not eager to spin my wheels with someone else.

Not to mention, moving in kind of loses the 'Go Team' sentimentality if I am rich and stable, and more importantly DON'T need the support. What the fuck? I need him now. I am worth it, right?

Back inside, I was told to "cow tail" and "eat humble pie". Small Dick Albertson and Mitchell asked the cast to return at 11pm, after the last performance in this strip mall dump. So, the cast begged me to pull it together and put on the "performance of a lifetime" and "apologize". WHY!? WHY!??????

I really don't feel obliged to appease people who have absolutely no credibility in the industry anyway. So you scam actors and own real estate in Hollywood. Congrata-fucking-lations!

Em said, "To get a new Jolie NOW, with no rehearsals . . . are you kidding me? You have to stay on!"

Christ. The cast aside . . . I care more about the reoccurring hair on my chin, than this piece of shit.

Pink said, "Ok, put away the prop gun now. Put it away." Oh, yeah. I was talking and waving the thing around a public bar.

The girls lead me up the staircase to the theater. I stopped at a homeless person lying in the corner and said, "I have to apologize to a douche bag, any tips?" They pulled me away.

I smoked half a cigarette and waited. Then I had to pee . . . again. So I did and came back to the lobby. One of Evie's admirers was sitting in the lobby and said, "Have a seat. They have been fighting in there for you."

I said, "Great. I don't know why."

I was led in by Em. She said, "Come on. He is being very nice." I guess he should get a fucking award for what everyone else does ALL THE TIME.

I came in and someone held my right hand while Em held the other. I had a smile frozen on my face and said, "I am sorry things got so intense."

He said, "Come have a seat, sweetheart. What's your real name?"

Sweetheart? You disgust me. I told him my name.

He said, "Look, no apologies needed. We are both at fault."

Swallow.

He continued, "Let's put this all behind us and continue for the good of the theater." Honestly, I tuned him out and kept that smile frozen.

His fat belly spilled through the seam of his pants. His legs were slightly spread to balance the weight for his minuscule testicles. I swear to fucking Gawd, I was looking to see if he was packing ANYTHING in those mustard stained khakis. This piece of shit had nothing on me.

Blah fucking blah. The other girls laughed, added in a word or two, and we all left all rosey posey.

Pink bought me another beer for biting my tongue.

Evie said, "Like he said, put it all behind us."

I said, "Are you kidding? I couldn't put the moon behind that fat asshole. Somethings are scientifically impossible. Its like trying NOT to cross streams for the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Fucking Impossible."

I took a swig.

Em said, "We have to leave soon." We carpooled.

I confided in Pink that I confronted her man. She said, "I know. He told me. Look, I see you and you see me. I respect that. But I don't want to get married, so don't worry about me."

I said, "You deserve anything you want."

It was a good moment. Pink, for some reason, has turned into my Magic Mirror on the Wall. I see myself- 33, quirky, acting, obligated to everyone else, and still not promised to. FUCK!

Yeah, pretty girls and actresses in this town are a dime a dozen. That's true. But me, this girl right here sitting at her computer in the middle of the night, sobering up with a couple pit bulls and a glass of water, she is worth a little bit more.

So eat me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Castrate the Director

The last week was a haze.

My depression was profound.

Saturday night, I just needed to see Abe. He was my oxygen. After work, I fed the dogs and cat, then drove down to his flop house in Costa Mesa. I called from the road.

I said, "I am passing the 22 Freeway now. I don't remember ever passing that before."

Abe said, "Are you hungry?"

I said, "Famished."

Abe, "I can make some pasta. I can't talk on the phone baby, I gotta go-" He hung up.

I showed up to his place, and he was frantically cooking me a dinner. I approached to kiss the back of his neck, and he turned and said, "Watch out!" Rushing from station to station, stove to counter top, nothing was going to stop him.

My insides were twisted. These days, food finds no peace in my stomach. Either it creates nausea or . . . the other. The plus side is no one can tell I am defecating in public restrooms anymore. It sounds like I am peeing.

Abe, "So I was over at Willie's . . ."

Willie is this old dude that smokes a lot of pot. That's all I really know about him. He smokes cigars packed with weed down to the stub. After one puff, other guys stumble out on foot and abandon their vehicles for public transportation. They are too high to do anything for the rest of the day. Except for Abe, who will continue to pass the cigar back and forth to even Willie's amazement.

Abe continued " . . . and he was watching this show on the History Channel about beer. How beer was the first thing ever written down in a book. How to make it, you know? And how beer was used as medicine. How most people drank beer all the time, like as much as water. How beer paid for the pyramids to get built. Basically, it said beer is the reason we are no longer cavemen. They even smoked the hops and blew it up each other's assholes. Is that what you want me to do, baby?"

I said, "Not unless its a form of capital punishment. Its a war zone down there."

Abe fondly massaged my tummy, "Awww."

I said, "My vagina misses you."

He said, "I know, baby, but you have been traumatized."

Sooooooo does that mean I am like his sister now? Cause he is frantically cooking me dinner and not touching my pink parts. Trauma negates sex, I guess. That's kinda . . . sweet.

Its hard being home. Sleeping with Abe on his crappy bed watching a movie on his computer was like going to the Bahamas. Even if it was for just a few hours.

Everyone at my home had to be fed and let out so I left first thing in the morning. The animals were the only thing keeping my blood moving.

Thank God for Reservoir Bitches. It made me get out of bed and go somewhere every single afternoon for rehearsal.

DRESS REHEARSAL

I showed up and a girl from another production stumbled out of the playhouse.

Mitchell, "Hey! I mean it, don't ever do this again."

She giggled and popped on her large, buggy sunglasses. I looked to Em.

Em, "She got drunk before rehearsal because her cramps were really bad." Ah, how I missed my Hollywood adventures.

We had a few dress rehearsals before opening. Nerves were raw.

Evie, "I dropped my agent. It takes a lot of balls to do that during pilot season."

Blonde, "I just would like some . . . direction."

Pink, "Just the sound of his voice makes me want to kick the shit out of him."

Evie, "I am on my period before opening so sorry if I get really bitchy."

We all were growingly frustrated with Mitchell. There was never any direction with regards to our performance. He "put his foot down" over trivial blocking suggestions and that was about it. I NEVER got a note about performance. EVER!

I joked to Em and her husband that we were all going to castrate him, put his dick on a flag pole and dance around singing, "Ey yey yey yey" like a tribe of liberated Muslim women.

Mitchell, "When it comes to the actual performance, White, do not dance across the stage."

White, "They were chass├ęs and I thought they were pretty."

I was already worn down from guilt, grief and exhaustion so my general disdain for Mitchell was turning into blood lust. I used to be the patient one, making excuses for him back stage in the dark with the other girls.

Now I was just like the others, flipping him off every time we exited stage. I complained about the sound of his droning voice. Sigh, fuck that kid.

Em said the last few rehearsals before opening are usually the worst. We were forgetting lines. We were disoriented by lights. And Mitchell was barely noticing a thing.

TECH REHEARSAL

On the day of the last rehearsal, I was complaining backstage (in the dressing room we have to share with two other productions) that the bathrooms smelled like piss.

Now, the owner of the theater is best described as Jeff Albertson, or the Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons. You know, the one who bought 100 tacos for $100 and carried them home via wheelbarrow.

He is grossly overweight, sports some thin/pathetic facial hair, wears the same X-Large blue shirt every day with a black vest over it. Abe said he noticed two female "interns" who follow him around, taking notes and bringing him napkins. Repulsive.

Albertson keeps telling everyone that Al Pacino called.

"I picked up the phone and he said, 'Uh . . . yeah, this is Al Pacino.' And I said, 'No really who is this?' 'Really.. Al Pacino.' So he is going to come out to see the theater."

I would pay to see his expression when walking in that dump.

Albertson told Mitchell, within earshot of us, to keep the cast "contained" and "under control" when (IF) Pacino does come. Blah fucking blah.

Later, while Albertson was directing some shit play next door, I said, "You would think if Al Pacino was coming to your theater, you would bother to put toilet paper on the roll. By the way, don't go in the second bathroom."

Pink said, "Why does everyone have to shit their pants here?"

Albertson walks in, without looking at us and started ranting, "Look, people come in and steal our toilet paper. Nothing we can do about that. I am too busy directing productions to manage the bathroom!!"

Em later added, "If its a choice, can you just clean the bathrooms?"

Blonde said, "Jesus, what was that about?"

We ran through our last rehearsal, a few of us dropped lines, got lost, can't stop smiling, etc. etc. There is still no prop ear or rehearsed blood effect for Blonde and Em's scene. The one note Mitchell comes up with at the end is, "The owner told me you guys are screwing off backstage. We can't have that alright!? Its unprofessional."

This is when I lost it, "I'm sorry, your bathroom smells like piss."

Pink broke out laughing then caught herself.

I continued, "We aren't screwing off, we are just expressing what an embarrassment it is having guests use a restroom that smells like dirty piss."

Mitchell tried to find words.

I say, "I really resent the fact that anyone said we were screwing off. May I say, this is the most professional cast I have ever worked with. We got the costumes and props together, out of our own pockets. We got the choreography and blocking down, all our lines and I am just really proud of this production."

Then, I walked out. Mitchell was still trying to catch up.

I checked my messages on my cracked iPhone in the dressing room. Breathe. I didn't want to look at that slimy fucker.

Mitchell sang out, "Jolie, can you come back here?" I don't think he knows my real name, only my character name.

I came back and heard about the lights, and the music cues, and some other bullshit. He muttered, "Now, I am not going to give you a pep talk. Just pull it together ladies. You've got this."

Inspiring. All I heard was, "Eye yey yey yey yey."

Backstage, in our communal dressing room, Em was taking off her top when Mitchell walked in. Instead of turning his back or even diverting his eyes, he stared right at Em's bra and said, "Hey is Orange back here."

Em said, "Mitchell, please leave. I am changing."

Mitchell continued to stand, facing her, dumbfounded, "But I am looking for Orange."

Em said, "Please leave."

Mitchell said, once again, "But I need to find Orange."

Dude, there are three girls back here and none of them are Orange.

Em rushed the door and said, "I asked you nicely, please leave! God! (she slammed the door) FUCK YOU!"

He asked to see "Blue" before she left. I am sure he doesn't know her name either.

When she was dressed, she invited him back in to talk to her.

He advised that there was a place to privately dress further in back, but this was a co-ed dressing room, and she had to keep that in mind. "Alright?" He always ends all his sentences with "Alright?"

Em said, "Dude, I was in my bra and you just kept standing there."

There was heated back and forth.

Mitchell, "I am the director and keep in mind, I work here. Alright?"

Em, "This room is for actors!"

Mitchell, "I am an actor."

Em, "Not in this production."

Mitchell, "I am simply trying to tell you-"

Em, "Just shut up, Mitchell."

Mitchell, "Hey . . . watch your tone."

Em, "Just ssssh-ut."

I could feel the tension rising and Mitchell wasn't going to back down because he believes being a director is posturing. Directing to this snot nosed kid was telling us to be quiet if we are chatting, even if its about improving the blocking. "Mitchell Directing" is simply saying "No."

Example:

Pink, "Why can't we move the blocks on this part?"

Mitchell, "Cause I said so."

Pink, "That's it!?"

Mitchell, "That's it."

Pink, "Gee, Thanks Dad."


Backstage, between Em, who just went through a very intense scene without all the props and effects ready for opening, and Mitchell who wanted to make an example out of the situation, I intervened. I said to Mitchell, "Give this space. Don't let it escalate. Just let everyone collect themselves and come back to it later."

Mitchell, "But . . . "

Em, "Shhhh-ut."

Mitchell, "Hey! Now ... watch yourself."

Jesus, this was the last thing we needed the day before opening.

Em vented on the way home, she texted an apology. Mitchell texted back, "Apology accepted. I have to warn you, most directors would have fired you but you are a very good actress . . ."

Dick wad.

OPENING

I was in a piss poor mood all day. Abe and I went to the beach to pick up the audio CD for my pilot that was never there.

Sitting on Venice Beach always cleared my head, but not that day. The bitter taste of reality post-unemployment benefits was sinking in. To sustain the life I want, with an apartment to house my animals and a career as an actress, I would need Abe to move in.

He is not ready to.

I bickered with him all day about it. We have been together for almost a year and, damn it, I could support my animal rescue, live my dream and be happy for half the overhead. When a guy says he isn't ready, he isn't ready.

My mother later asked on the phone, "Why not?"

I said, "I don't know why not."

She said, "Well you need to find out. Its time for the next step."

You know, I don't think I would have married my (ex) husband if my mother didn't bother me about living in sin for two years. I have to remember that.

I don't have money for rent, and eventually, I will have to give up the animals or my acting. Both scenarios feel to be the equivalent of cutting off an arm. Abe could move in and solve the problem. Grrrrrrrr . . . so I tortured him for the day.

He suggested I take a regular day job as if this acting thing is one of many things that could make me happy. Have I thought about being a Youth Counselor? He doesn't understand that acting is the only thing that makes me feel like something other than a total fuck up. When you find that, you hold on to it like there is nothing below you but the ocean floor.

Showtime was 8pm. We showed up to the playhouse at 5pm.

Em set up her make-up station and said, "Its better to be here than just wait for it at home."

I hadn't told anyone but Em it was my first play. I didn't want the cast to get all Lord of the Flies on me. I did have a walk-role or "cameo" in a play during the 8th grade. I had to share it with another girl because I was always too scared to audition or commit to acting. Instead, I helped out behind the scenes for a few productions and then played on an empty stage after everyone left.

Why was I so nervous? Why did I care? Who was going to show up?

Em's brother and husband, a few friends, Abe . . . like . . . what did it matter!?

Pink showed up and said, "I couldn't do anything today. So I ate two junior whoppers and passed out on the couch."

Blonde was dancing with her knife and nursing a belly ache.

Brown came in, practicing her lines.

Brown, "Let me tell you what 'Like a Virgin is about' . . . Its all about this chick who's this regular fuck machine."

Me, "I really needed to have sex last night. (looking in the mirror carefully) For my complexion."

White, "Why didn't you?"

Me, "He was tired."

White, "That's weird."

Me, "Right?"

Brown, "I have never done it. That's why my part is so ironic."

Me, "What? Sex?"

Brown, "Yeah."

Me, "You're a virgin?"

Brown nods.

Me, " . . . (dryly) Why?"

Blonde, "I love this cast."

Evie, "Anyone bringing their agent to this thing? I dumped my agent."

Blonde, "So I finally got a condom to hold the blood in my bra strap. He said he forgot to buy some so he pulled this one out of his wallet."

Em, "Of course. How long has he been waiting to pull that one? What is it? Magnum? Extra Large?"

Blonde held up a Trojan condom and said, "I can't tell."

I said, "Eugh, why would he think anyone would ever have sex with him?"

Evie, who was meticulously managing the make-up on her face, said, "He just needs to learn how to talk to women. Once he gets a girlfriend, everything will change."

I said dryly, "You inspire me to be a better person."

Evie chuckles with a high pitched cackle through her nose. Its my favorite thing about her. "You're kidding, right? I am the biggest bitch here."

Night fell while we put on our faces. I joined various cast members for a smoke outside, even though my throat was hurting from the pack I plowed through after Murray's death.

I confided in Pink, "I am so broke. I am going to have to get an office job and give everything up and that makes me crazy. Abe's grandmother is even saying I need to get a regular job now."

Pink exhaled a cloud of delicious carbon monoxide, "I am getting it from my family, too. I was working in production and making decent money, but I hated it. Now, my unemployment is about to run out and I gotta figure out what I am gonna do. Isn't there an agent out there that can help us?"

Pink is a single mom with a little girl at home. Her strain to provide is tenfold mine.

Em, "My agent has never sent me out. And I got my last unemployment check this week."

Why must dreams be contingent on state benefits? Its so depressing.

Mitchell came back and said, "5 minutes."

White said, "That's the most professional thing he has ever done."

The cast gathered and we put our arms around each other to say how awesome we were. Then, we went out there.

My first two scenes were relatively flawless. I threw in some new words for female humor and hit my beats. Switched out "piece of shit" for "twat".

"Choo? Toby Choo?"

After our opening, Evie, White and I scadaddled to the lobby for entry on the third scene. We stopped in the lobby to share a few sips of some cheap Cabernet out of the same, plastic cup. It reminded me of Communion in Catholic School. We were always excited to drink from the wine goblet during Mass. It felt so devious and there was nothing anyone could do since we had God's blessing.

"You know how to handle that situation. You shit your pants, and dive in and swim."

Then, my two back to back dialogue scenes had moments of flutter/stutter/fuck utter. They were subtle, but I was not proud.

"Its a five girl job. Bustin' in and bustin' out of a diamond . . . (eyes up to catch my word) wholesaler."

My monologue scene was decent.

"You ain't Ms. Purple. Some other girl on some other job is Ms. Purple. You're Ms. Pink." Then . . . pause. I always forget this line.

I throw my hands in the air and widen my eyes, oh yeah! "Be thankful you're not Ms. Yellow."

Arg.

After that, no Jolie until the final confrontation. I fell a little early after White shot me, rather after the gun shot effect from Mitchell's "sound booth" not that they have ever been on time anyway. When ever I recreate tech rehearsal for people, I shoot my gun and make the bullet sound a few seconds after, cause . . . that's how it is.

When Evie, White and I fell to the floor in the dramatic, Shakespearean conclusion, we heard laughter from the crowd. Were we really that bad?

I asked Mitchell after the performance. I forced the issue, "No really, how were we?"

Mitchell said, "You girls were great at bringing in a crowd." Of course, all he cares about is actors bringing in $15 a head. "Decent with the blocking and the lines, there were only a few mistakes, you know. I was paying attention to the music and lights mostly, so I didn't notice all that much."

I pushed his shoulder and said, "Come on, I am asking about PERFORMANCE! Your cast needs validation."

He said, "Alright. You're walking down the red carpet . . ."

I said, "Oooh. I like this."

He continued, "You are in a stunning evening gown with your fiance by your side."

Abe obviously. Go on! I said, "Yes!"

He said, "You turn your back to the paparazzi to face the marquee. No name is needed, all it needs to say is . . ."

Me, "YES! YES!" I was dancing like a little girl with my hands clasped under my chin.

He finished, "Starring . . . (insert my real name here). Cause she's that good." He DOES know my name!!!

I jumped in the air, "YES! Thank you!!!" And I left.

Meandering outside, I was still kicking myself over my line fumbles. It ruined my performance. Honestly, theater isn't really all that wonderful for me. Its less personal, with all that space between the audience and my eyes. I speak with my eyes. Not to mention, my best take is lost in time. That annoys me.

We all got drinks after and I had to suffer through compliments I didn't feel I deserved. Someone did say that I was crazy enough to pull off an interesting Ms. Blonde. That made me feel good.

Abe and the one friend I have who will ever show up to a show complimented Evie and Em the most. I said (half jokingly), "Those bitches upstaged me!?"

My friend said, "You are still very raw from your performance. Let's talk about it later."

Evie was great. Em was great. I was good. Ok.

Abe drove me home, and his grandmother's comment was digging into my ribs like cowboy boots on a starved horse. Since I couldn't afford my own drinks, I was high on someone else's wine and Em's vodka-drink-o-mystery.

Abe purchased rosewater sorbet to help my tummy and warmed up the apartment while I got on-line and read aloud Office/Administration job postings off Craigslist. I inserted the occasional, "Oh yeah, data entry, no benefits, $12 an hour, 40 hurs a week. I will be much happier."

And then I "drunk applied" to about eight positions out of spite before crawling to bed.

In the morning, we made love three times. My stomach was better. My mind was clearer. And, I got one interview.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Murray and his Revelations

When I was 4 years-old, I used to hang out in the meadows behind our apartment in Milwaukee, WI and capture grasshoppers in jars. The first group died from suffocation.

The second group lived a few days longer with air holes popped in the lid, but died the next day.

I tried everything; food, water, air, companionship. They all died. So I stopped capturing them.

For a year and a half, I have been able to rescue pit bulls and keep them separated from my cats. In 2009, I lost my cat of 7 years, Frances, to the dogs. I still don't know what happened. I left to park my car, came back and they had her in the living room.

I perfected a system of safety and in 2010, I adopted a cat I named Murray.

I liberated him from the shelter after his owners surrendered him. He was suffering from an upper respiratory infection and an ear infection. I took him home, got him on antibiotics and loved him.

Loved him.

Belle never took to him, but Murray made himself at home. When he ate, you could hear him almost purr while chewing his food. It sounded like "num-num-num". He just fit into my life so naturally.

Always greeted me when I came home, always talked to me about what he wanted . . . a character. My neighbors smile when they talk about him.

Murray, for some reason, last Saturday night, kept hanging out by the kitchen door. This door is the only barrier between my cats and my dogs. The tall kitchen trash can and 4 folded, wood TV trays are kept against the door as a barricade.

I went to grab some food, and in a split second, he jumped the barricade and wandered into the living room like he owned it.

I quickly grabbed him and made a dash for the door, but by the time I got there it was too late. Three pit bulls were pulling on me to get him.

I fought. I thought I had control, but the dogs wore me down. The cat clawed at my face. And in a matter of one minute, they had Murray on the ground.

I was able to pull them off. Two at once, then the last one who gave him one good shake before I got her off and drove Murray to the hospital.

Its a fucking nightmare, ok. I am not sure if reliving these details is helpful at all. A friend told me to write down everything. So I am going to do it.

After getting to the ER, I called Abe. It would take him 50 minutes to get there from Costa Mesa. Em was in Minnesota. So I called the Comic who was there for me when Frances died. He left a party and showed up in a nice suit.

At the Animal ER, they told me he was stable and what I should be concerned about is his glucose levels. His heart was hanging heavy and the doctor advised that he might be diabetic. All I heard was that he was stable.

He had one major laceration in his back leg from the dogs which looked like red meat. They were taking him into surgery to repair it.

I came out to The Comic and Abe, both dutifully waiting for me. My face was bloody, my nose suffered a gash that wouldn't stop bleeding. My hands were swollen from all the nipping and scratching.

We all went back to my home and the Comic left shortly thereafter. He and Abe parted on the most painfully awkward fist bump ever.

Abe and I spoke. I asked him if he would still love me if my eye ball was ripped out.

He said, "I was thinking about that on the ride up."

I said, "And!?!?"

He said, "Of course I would."

I also thought, would I have signed off on a $2100 bill if I wasn't in the moment, instead of putting Murray down. Then I thought of the Murray Man, of course I would.

The next morning they said I should pick him up. I signed a legal waiver acknowledging that he had to go to a regular vet. I couldn't get my regular vet to see him without a pay deposit. Abe and I agreed Murray would be ok for a day or two at home. They didn't give us meds for him, nothing to fight infection or pain. I thought the surgery sedative would keep him comfortable for the rest of the day.

After setting Murray up in the bathroom, I had a Little Caesars' commercial audition as a 50s mom type. I couldn't drive, or clothe myself or do anything really. So Abe bought me white gloves to go with my 50s ensemble, did my make-up to cover up the gash on my nose and the few puncture marks along my hair line. I was very lucky. Then Abe drove me.

We rushed to the audition. Then we rushed to my play rehearsal. This was my life, not having hands wasn't going to stop me.

Abe said while fighting through Los Angeles traffic, "Now if anything else happens, we have to stop. We just have to stop. Car accident, ANYTHING! Ok?"

I agreed. Though . . . I am unstoppable.

At the Reservoir Bitches rehearsal, Evie asked, "Whoa, were you in a fight?" Yeah. I was in a fight.

We got home to check on the Murray man. He was weak, vocal, and using my shower as a toilet while we kept him contained in my bathroom. I was exhausted.

Abe cooked me dinner. He showered me. Shaved my armpits. Dried me off.

He said, "I am not much of a caretaker."

I said, "Well I am not much of a dependent, so I think we're fine." I thrive on my independence. I wasn't even sure how well I would do with the toilet. It was troubling.

With only a few hours sleep, we laid down to rest.

The next day, I made a round of phone calls to vets. Same thing . . . needed to leave a cash deposit or working credit card.

Facts:

-I had no money. The surgery went through on a Care Credit for low income people and I was maxed out (probably why Murray was discharged).

-My rent was due and I was $482 in the red.

-Abe's credit card was tapped into and flagged for fraud. He was awaiting a new credit card.

-Abe's rent was waived this month due to flooding damage in his apartment. His parents knew this and did not deposit money in his account for his expenses.

The Murray Man seemed ok. I could hear Abe feeding him and telling him what a good job he was doing. Murray is a strong, 20 lb cat. He was strong and even during the incident, I knew he would make it through. He has presence, you know? Not just personality and charisma, but soul.

I was worried though. I left a message and email with the Sam Simon foundation, who does free surgeries for low income folks. That day we spent here with him, comforting him, telling him how loved he was.

I couldn't offload my shift at the doggie daycare, entirely. So I drove myself to rehearsal and then work afterward. Abe went to his band's practice in Huntington Beach and his home afterward.

The next day, Murray was vocalizing a lot. Not only did he get out of the bathroom, but on to my bed to sleep next to me. He was at the back door crying to get out, then in my closet. I knew something was wrong and I couldn't keep him contained. So I called more vets, and went to a low income one I knew of in Pasadena.

I was holding a paycheck for $215 in my glove box. I will always wonder if I didn't hold on to it, and just cashed it in for a deposit on that first day, would it make a difference?

Murray was rushed in and they asked if I wanted to wait or come back. I had my own doctor's appointment for poor people, which already required a 3 day wait. I told them I would come back.

At the doctor's office, the vet called and said Murray had less than a 5% chance of living. I fell to my knees and cried. I asked them to do everything they could. They said it would be $800. I said ok.

The next couple hours were excruciating. Not only did Frances have to pay the ultimate price for my burning desire to save dogs, but now Murray too. I only had him for a year. No time.

After crying to the human doctor, who cut over my whimpers, "I am proud of you for saving all those animals. Its not your fault! You did the best you can, he knows that!" I rushed over to the vet. Murray was stable again.

They told me to take him to an ER but knew I didn't have the funds, so they advised I keep him warm until morning and bring him back in. They are not an overnight facility.

The Vet Techs and I all cried over Murray, his spirit and personality are unique. He was a fighter. His body temperature was too low to even read on the thermometer and somehow he recovered. He also tried jumping off the exam table and leaving the clinic.

I went back to his little cage where he was hooked up to an IV and gave him a few crystals and a cross my parents brought from Assisi in a warm blanket off my bed. He looked like he was going to be ok. He wouldn't stop yelling at me.

I cashed in my paycheck. $200 went to them. (I left a little for cigarettes.)

However, the clinic was demanding I pay the balance before leaving with Murray, $200 more. I called a few people in my car, and begged Abe to find the money. He did but it would have to wait until tomorrow.

(deep breath)

I came in to carry Murray home. He was smaller, his eyes crusted. He was shrinking like my grandfather just before his death. Murray was vocalizing all over the place. I said, "Its Mommy, you're with Mommy now."

My name means life in Latin. I just poured my soul over him and wanted to give him every drop I could, all of it. What good is my name if it doesn't give me power, right?

He settled in back of my car and I drove us home. I called my mother to tell her what was going on.

She replied quasi-cold, "I don't know what to say. There are too many animals for you to take care of."

I said, "I know, can you just say something inspiring? Grab a copy of Chicken Soup of the Soul off a shelf and read me a passage."

She laughed. "I wish."

Why couldn't she be more like strangers? The doctor who scolded me for being hard on myself. The Vet techs that cried and comforted me in the lobby.

We were home in less than 10 minutes and I carried him up to my bed. He wasn't vocalizing. I pressed my head against his chest and thought I heard a heartbeat but his eyes were open and his tongue was a little out.

Em was coming over for support.

I held him and talked to him. I asked him to hang on. I touched his head.

I kept checking for a pulse. I couldn't find it.

Em came up and said we should take him to the ER. We did.

We were called into the room shortly after handing him over. The vet said, "He has been gone for about 30 minutes. His body is cold."

I hung my head down, and started shaking. Then I found both a scream and a cry between my knees.

Em held my hand. She was calm and so together. My head was vibrating between my hands. Another one! I lost another one! GOD DAMN IT!

I got some kind of lecture about liver failure, but they couldn't figure out how it connected to the incident. Though, most certainly, it does. He turned yellow. Some other things I couldn't hear.

He waited to die at home, with me.

I went in to say goodbye to his body. I rubbed the center of his forehead and said, "I am sorry. Go be free, ok? Go be free and say hello to God and Frances for me. I will see you again soon. What ever you become, make sure you stop by and say hello. I love you." I kissed him goodbye.

I felt peace. I felt him in the room. And I felt him say, "Already said hi to them for you. See you soon."

We bought some brewskies at CVS on my way home. We sat on my kitchen floor and drank. Abe showed up. I called him from the ER.

We sat there for a few minutes before I lost my shit. And when you lose your shit . . . its surreal. It started with the hyperventilating, the crying first from the throat, then the chest, then the gut until you are broken at the hips screaming for your baby.

I couldn't stop. I sensed Em and Abe around me, trying to calm me down. My breath was gone. It was all gone. Murray was gone.

Thoughts run through your mind like a ribbon through scissors . . . I rescued two cats so they could die in my home . . . I brought him here to this death trap . . . there is no cat like Murray . . . my kids will never meet Murray . . . I will never come home to Murray again . . . I yelled at him once . . . Murray suffered and slipped away from me. No time. No time to give him more of the life he loved on the Pasadena rooftops, laying on his back while squirrels jumped over him.

Em was trying to get me to scream it out and get it through my system, so it would all get out. It is a never ending pit of regret, heartbreak, anguish, and anger. Abe came in and held my head up. I looked in his eyes and felt my head vibrating. I was trying to say, "I can make it stop." As in, I can stop hyperventilating and crying but I couldn't make it stop.

After 40 minutes, Em went home. Abe gave me pot, I took sleeping pills and he laid me down. The crying didn't stop. I fell asleep crying, woke up in the middle of the night, sweating suddenly remembering why I was crying then I fell back asleep and woke up in the morning crying.

At one point, I could hear a voice in my head say, "Stop! Your body can't take anymore. Rest so you can cry later."

This must sound so very dramatic to a non-cat person. You have to understand, animals have all the spiritual value of a person in my life. And though I have never had a child, these animals are souls brought to me by fate, bodies I have nursed and fed, and personalities I bonded with and unconditionally love. They are my kids.

The next day, the only thing that calmed me down was going to rehearsal. I showed up in sweats, with my hair pulled back, swollen eyes under my glasses and did my monologue. A few laughs and a clap afterward got me to smile at the very end of the scene.

Sometimes, I caught myself shaking so hard, I thought there was an earthquake. Then I got used to it. My ears were ringing, all the time.

Another day came and went. Another day without Murray.

The only way to keep sane is try to make sense of it. How could I be such a complete asshole, that two of my cats were violently killed in my care? How THE FUCK is that possible?

Things I think about:

-There was a family in Washington who lost their infant. The mother accidentally ran over the baby while she was crawling down their driveway. I don't know the details, but my first thought was, how does that woman go on living?

-The average life span of an indoor/outdoor cat is 6 yrs.

-I wonder about whether he would have lived if I took him to a vet immediately or left him at the ER for the rest of the day, instead of running over to pick him up.

-I realized I could have jumped on the couch and propped him on top of the bookshelf to safety.

-I am some kind of stupid grown up kid who tried to manipulate nature and force harmony in an environment that any responsible adult would never have attempted.

-I am not afraid of death, why am I afraid of others dying?

I am dying to know what lesson I am supposed to take from this. Up to yesterday, I really didn't know how I could live with myself.

In these quiet hours in my head, I think about the lesson.

I texted Em last night, "You can't save lives from life." We all find an end at some point. When and how really don't matter all that much. And though I rescued these animals, desperate to give them longevity and happiness- fate takes the upper hand.

**

I think the worst thing I could ever imagine is watching someone I love die by violent means. Even worse, I facilitated the violent means.

**

I am vegan. I am 33 and go to petting zoos. I can't even watch ANIMAL PLANET. I have seen video footage of a person being killed and an animal being killed. What is it that makes the animal death so much more disturbing? Something to do with an innocence.

But animals kill. Its one of the elements I have chosen to ignore. It is a great part of who they are and what they are, and only now do I acknowledge that they are not me. We are not the same. At all.

**

Everything you have can be taken away in seconds. While Murray was sick and recovering, I found out the option for my script fell through. Then I found out CBS ordered a pilot on almost the exact same premise as the pilot Lana and I invested a shitload of money into producing.

Those pinched me in the gut, but I looked over at Abe, cleaning my kitchen. Sneaking out the back door for a couple puffs off a cigarette. Cooking a meal for me and forcing me to eat. As long as I have Abe, I think I can make it through anything.

Often crisis can make or break a relationship. When Frances died in 09'- I spent the weekend chain smoking and swimming through an entire bottle of Tylenol PM alone. It was hell.

This time, Abe was making sure my clothes were washed, my dishes were done, the dogs were fed, making sure I was hydrated and eating. He calmed me down when I broke down where ever I was standing. He would walk me to the bed, hold my hand and say, "I am really worried about you."

Where ever my mind went the last couple days, part of me stayed here for Abe. I can't really explain that right now. I feel like my body and emotions boiled over like a cauldron, but part of me saw angels.

What if Earth is where we only initially connect with the spirits in a broader plane of time and existence. There must be so much energy out there. What if in this life and the next, we are just finding one another.

Fuck, I don't know.

Belle, my cat of 10 yrs, just started to paw at the glass window like Murray. She has never done that.

Abe said, "Hey, Belle is acting really weird. She is acting like Murray."

I buried my face under the pillow and said, "I know."

He said, "You notice that, too?"

I whispered, "Yeah."

He is stopping by to say hello.