Monday, February 27, 2012

My Garbage Dump is the World

One thing about being an artist of any kind, is remaining open to the world emotionally. You let the energy channel through your mind. The light comes through, but so does the dark. Experiencing the world in vibrant colors that change and shift with each moment comes with a price. The black.

My storm was on the horizon and I just needed one little thump to push me into a neurotic tailspin.


The Screening of My Pilot:


My comedy pilot was in the second round of a film festival sponsored by a comedy club in Burbank. I created an event for the screening on Facebook, and sent out a reminder or two, but I didn’t push people.

The important note here, is the survival of our pilot in the festival is based on votes. Hypothetically, your friends would vote for your film and it would survive to the next round. The prize would win back our cost of production.

The first night, my partner Lana brought about ten people. I had three; Mitch (the receptionist at Doggie Daycare who dogsits for me), Jeph and Abe.

Backstage, I mumbled, “Obviously no one is really my friend.”

Lana said, “Get it out, get it all out.”

I said, “I am too emotional and post asshole things on Facebook, and no one wants to be my friend!”

Lana, “Feel better.”

I said, “A bit.”

Facebook is one of my worst vices.

I am far too personal, post far too much and am too impulsive with things I say.

For instance, on my Birthday, I asked everyone to do me a favor and defriend me.

Then I read it and say, “This is a bad idea, but the idea is to capture the moment and I have to honor that.”
Then I post it.

It feeds on itself, I post and feel part of a social circle, but it isn’t real. Facebook isn’t friends, its Internet junkies who consume information. And we have all made our own universe of self importance. We don’t have friendships with conversations, and shared moments and shoulders to cry on. We just have an audience, and it feeds the ego . . . but don’t fool yourself, it isn’t life. It isn’t relationships. IT’S BULLSHIT!

Now, nevermind the stupid things I say with regards to my friends, or even my acquaintances. My real friends have the context of my real personality and get it.

There are several professional contacts from my time as an Executive Assistant and beyond. Professors, co-workers, people I would use as reference . . . and I was basically sending them a drunk text ranting and raving about my own personal problems.


Not to mention, the pictures I constantly post of myself. I like documenting my transformation into an actress, but recently, I noticed I have more pictures of myself than I ever had before, and was almost neglecting the world around me. Facebook was nourishing a new, Narcissistic side of myself.

So recently, I have been taking more pictures of everything else, even for this blog.

The question you may ask is, “Why don’t you just stop?” Well, I did. For now, I have.

That doesn’t cure me of the spinning in my mind. The feeling of public humiliation, of everything I have said and since forgotten. The silence from “friends.” The regret for publishing and demonstrating personality flaws.

Again, my real friends weren’t altered. Its everyone else I felt, in front of their computer screens, raising their eyebrow with their cup of coffee. It got into my skull.


Toss in the poor showing to my first screening and my birthday, which was on short notice and without a personal invite (I totally realize how irrational I was being), and you have the clouds of my mental illness overhead.

Fear of rejection ---> Fear of Failure -----> Obsession

I was reliving getting fired from my job. My bosses exchanging looks of, “Geez, she is stupid.” How they spoke over me in meetings. How they stared at me when I accidentally pushed a chair into the door frame.
Then, how I would always get the wrong menu item for myself at company lunches. How I misspelled “commensurate” in an email. How they told me I was too loud when I spoke to other people in the lobby.

My voice is loud. (but so were they . . . )

I fucking suck.

***
The second evening of the screening came, and my phone mysteriously just stopped working. It truly is amazing, I didn’t drop it or expose it to water or heat. I just set it down to charge and it never came on again.
I changed the battery, called the manufacturer, hard reset . . . it was done.

So I couldn’t personally invite anyone . . . again. My phone was shut off the evening of the first screening, as well.

I showed up to the club, and had ONE friend there, Jeph.

Of course. My one friend who has stood by me through thick and thin since 2006.

My mind bent in half and flushed with self-hatred.

Lana and I were called up to present on stage, and I just launched into a monologue:

“Now I could talk about the film a bit and give you a proper introduction, but I think what helps paint the picture is just telling you about my day.

I woke up with intense cramps, but it couldn’t be my period, because that’s not for 4 more days.

My cell phone isn’t working. Its not turning on. Its not charging. Its just flashing. That’s all. Just . . . flashing.

I drive into a meeting at work, and coffee spills all over my lap.

In the meeting, people notice I still have a price tag still attached to these shoes. I tell them, ‘Its because I don’t know if I need to return them for money.’

Then, I go to a mall and use their phone because Virgin Mobile has no physical store locations. Then I wonder if the coffee I spilled on my lap isn’t drying, or if I started my period. In a Target restroom, I realize I did, in fact, start my period.

I get in my car to drive home, and remember that Whitney Houston died yesterday.”


Ok, the crowd is totally silent. And from the stage, I only see silhouettes of people. Lots of people. I am controlling the pacing of this joke, entirely.

I look up, and the light from the projection booth is just enough to see a big smile on whoever it was up there, leaning in and waiting for the next line.
 
I am ok, so I keep going.


“Normally, I would go home and have a glass of wine, but I don’t have a fridge, nor any running water. Just a hose outside my front door.

(Silence)

Ok, thank you! Enjoy the film and give us your vote!”

I quickly rushed off stage, as the laughter bilged.

Thank God, they were laughing.

My partner stepped up to the microphone. Lana is a beautiful, black woman with freckles and gorgeous brown eyes who is a master at sarcasm. I wish she would act along side me. She said, “You’ve got to feel sorry for a poor white girl.”

I turned my body toward the stage and bent over to laugh.

Our film screened. We didn’t get as many laughs as the first screening, nor did we get enough votes to make it to the next round.

I would like to think I am big about that kind of thing. Cool and witty on my exit, but I was crushed.
I knew the films were, on the whole, snappier than ours. We had great production value, but took a little longer to offer the punchline. We also could not get our cast to show up.

The only one that communicates with me, asked me to “cum to Sundance” with him. Eugh.

Lana said, “I can appreciate how hard that was for you, since I know how much you love Sundance.”

Since I refused him, he ignored my invites to the screening.

I could see Lana was worried about me. I could see Jeph felt badly for me.

The worst part about my mental illness, whatever it is, happens to be how it really hurts the people that care about me. No one wants to see someone they love in anguish, unfortunately  its a pre-requisite in being close with me.

Often, I discontinue friendships or relationships, not because I don’t like them, but because I know they can’t endure the bouts of self-loathing and disturbance I go through.

I told Abe, "If I was your mother, I wouldn't want you to be with a girl like me. If I were you, I wouldn't want to be with a girl like me."

Abe, "But would you want to have sex with you?"

Me,  "I am a hot mess."

I isolate myself. I will lock myself in a room with pot and television and dogs to get through it, but ah . . . there is Facebook. It makes it so easy to funnel all that hate back out into the world. Sadly, it doesn’t funnel at all; it spreads but doesn’t grow thinner. That is the worst part; sharing it, thinking about it, talking about it . . . doesn’t make it go away. It just multiplies.



***
A few of you may be wondering what I was diagnosed with. Since the age of 15, I have been diagnosed with every illness that hit a fad. In the 90s, it was Bi-Polar Disorder, then the early 00s was Borderline Personality Disorder. My parents like to call it “Hypo-mania with bouts of depression.”

I can assure you, after meeting someone who had bi-polar disorder, that is NOT me. Suffering from Bi-Polar Disorder is potentially the worst mental illness I have ever seen.

And Borderline Personality Disorder is  . . . just too extreme. I don’t exhibit suddenly changing opinions of people or my identity.

I feel things intensely. Its hard to justify, when that quality alone can make me the best person to hang out with at a party or on a boring afternoon, or the absolute worst person. My emotions are blinding. I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish that wasn’t who I am. But it is, and its just a small price tag hanging off the cuff of what I am.

My life experience is greater than most people I know. I am alive, but I struggle against myself and it wears me down until their is almost nothing left of myself.

***
Someone wrote Lana after the screening:

"i was thinking on the drive home & realized you two were the only women filmmakers tonight AND your film was the ONLY one with a message. you were robbed! i'm definitely talking about this in my gender & sexuality studies class.”

***

I was working 10 hours at Edible Arrangements on Monday and then on Tuesday (Valentine’s Day) I would be at Edible 7am-Noon and Doggie Daycare 2-10pm.

I didn’t eat. I barely slept. I just worked.


A DJ came on morning radio, Valentine’s Morning and said, “Now what if a man doesn’t have time to get his significant other something on Valentine’s Day.

Hi, Kelly, you’re on the air, and let me ask this, what are YOU doing for your man on Valentine’s Day?”

Jesus Christ man, don’t you ENJOY doing something for a woman on one romantic day out of the year? I love giving gifts, that is part of the joy. Not what YOU are going to get.

Camille, my little brown lesbian, said, “If you have time to jack off, you have time to call in an order.”

Delivery Driver, "Oh, the customer needs 4 balloons, but none of them should say 'I Love You'."

I was, of course, sensitive to this message since lately, I have felt that people expect me to give them something- Dora (endless favors), Men (sexual gratification) Employers (work with no advancement or benefit) and offer me absolutely nothing back.

I really have resolved that the problem with everyone, in this city, in this country, in this world, is we have lost touch with the balance of the universe.

Give & Take.

Several weeks ago, I ran across a Charles Manson interview, randomly. It was recorded in 2011 and it actually made a lot of sense:

Manson, “The only way you can survive, are you ready?

The only way you can survive is to take something from the Earth, and give something back.

You don't need the government to tell you that. You don't need a leader to tell you that.

God is inside of you, and God's telling you, 'Everything you take from the Earth, you've got to put something back.'

That's whats so dirty about the preacher. He's hiding that.

You were told, if you take 100%, you put 10% back.

If you take 100 apples off the tree, plant 10. Thats not hard. Thats very simple. Thats the key to survival of the Earth.

But now we take 1000 apples and put nothing back. Then we come with a chainsaw, and chainsaw the tree down. And we just take it, take it, take it and we haven't put anything back. Because the Preacher says, give me that 10%. That 10% goes to the government, goes to the President. Thats whats destroying us. We're destroying ourselves.

You know, I sit here and I open a bag of cookies and I throw the paper away. And I pick up the sugar, and I throw the paper away. And then I use creamer, and I throw the plastic away. Then I look in the garbage and say, 'This is our life in there.'

My garbage dump is the world.

And we're just throwing it away. All of our resources, we are throwing away.

I see the cars driving by, going nowhere. He's taking a piece of paper to the other side of the yard for nothing. And I see all the stuff we are doing and I say human beings are destroying the whole world.

But I also see God in human beings, and I think human beings are gonna straighten it out or not exist. So which is it?”


Companies are still outsourcing.

STILL! After it has completely eaten our country out from the inside.

We are still burning oil, at any cost. They have raised gas to over $4/gallon, I believe, to influence the election.
I mean, we are riding our own melt here, and now we treat each other like its everything else in our lives, something meant to service us.

How does this person make me FEEL better?

We don’t have relationships anymore. We just collide in moments of masturbatory ego.

“I only read your blog to see what you write about me.”

“We really need to get through the tension, because I am going to need help soon.”

“Just touch my cock.”

All of it, came down on me like a wall of hard water. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see. All I could do was think about how nothing will be left of me in the end. Everyone will have their piece of me, and all that will be remain is an old, unwanted body and a sick mind.

The worst part of the revelation is maybe that's all I am worth.

***

So, I wrapped Valentine’s gifts. I bowed. I tagged. I refrigerated. And repeat.

I thought, quietly to myself.

When I got to Doggie Daycare, I was sure that one, if not both my exes, would have sent me flowers.
Nothing was there.


I was also expecting my replacement phone.

Also, it was not there.

In the break room, I got teary eyed tracking my package from Virgin Mobile . . . just out of frustration.

Abe emailed me that morning and asked me to call when I could.

When I did, I said, “Flowers are not awaiting me at my place of business.”

He laughed, and said, “What are you doing tonight?”

I said, “Working.”

He said, “I thought maybe we could do something.”

I said, “Sure. You know what would be a great Valentine’s Day present? Going to my place and walking the dogs before I get home. I have been working two days in a row and I feel bad.”

Silence.

He said, “Wha? Well, I don’t know when I could be there.”

I said, “That’s ok, I can’t be home til 10.”

Silence.

I asked, “Too much to ask?”

He stuttered.

My voice cracked, “Too much to ask! Thanks. Do whatever you want to do today.”

And I hung up.

I waited for flowers from Alan. They never came.

. . .

I drove home, greasy, smelling like dog and pineapple. My clothes were dirty. My face was dirty. My hands were so dry, now they were turning white and cracking.

Pulling up, I saw my house lights on and my dogs outside.

I smiled. Abe came through.

He finished his cigarette, and grinned as he approached me, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

I said, “I thought you weren’t going to come.”

He said, “Why?”

I said, “Cause I hung up on you.”

He said, “Oh . . . yeah. Well, I figured you were just tired.”

I said, “I am . . . and depressed.”

Upon entry of my pathetic abode, I saw the place was cleaned, paper hearts hung from a couple places around the wall and a translucent, rainbow ribbon hung over the sides of my computer monitor.

Abe handed me two cards, one for me and one for my dogs.

I said, “A card for my dogs??? That means a lot. It really does.”

He said, “You know who I learned that from? Grandma. Sometimes I get cards from her cat.”

He pulled out two small heart-shaped boxes and said, “Here, I made you these last night. They are home-made vegan chocolates.”

I said, “You did?”

Abe, “Yeah. It was fun.”


I ate one and said, with chocolate and citrus bursting in my mouth, “These are good.”

Abe, “You like them? Good. I wasn’t sure. I haven’t done that before.”

We sat down.

Me, “I didn’t get you anything because I thought I wouldn’t see you.”

Abe, “Oh. Huh. That’s ok. I took the whole day off work thinking we would.”

Me, “You have to call me and tell me these things in advance.”

He chuckled and put his hand on his waist, hung his head low and slowly nodded.

Abe, “You are looking skinny again. Are you on anything?”

Me, “Like what?”

Abe, “I don’t know.”

Me, “Coke!?”

Abe, “Well, yeah. Are you?”

I said, “Jesus Christ, I just worked two 10+ hour shifts in a row, I am stressed about money and tired. That’s all. It doesn’t mean I am a junkie.”

He said, “Ok, ok, I was just asking.”

I said, “I was thinking, if I were to die, no one would notice for days. I would just lie here, with Brad curled up in my armpit. Then Maggie would playfully tug at my toe and start eating my entire foot until Esther and Maggie would use my legs as a wishbone. And poor Brad, he would be the only one loyal to me.”

Abe laughed. “That’s funny.”

I said, “Yeah. Real funny. I am going to move back to Washington and take care of my parents until they die. Then I will kill myself."

He approached me and rubbed shoulder, “You have thought about this a lot. I can tell because its all very articulate and put together.”

Me, “I have been thinking about it all day.”

Abe kissed my cheek, “I would notice.”

Abe instructed me to shower. I went up to Gabby’s to wash and came back down.  He was watching “the Ten Commandments.”

He said, “I just want to see the Pharoah die.”

I said, “That reminds me of a Doors song. ‘Land of the Pharoah died.’ What is that?”

In the red pajama pants Sascha gave me for Christmas, and a little t-shirt, I climbed into bed and asked him to rub my back.

Me, “I have to go to Paris.”

Abe said, “Is that where you want to go more than anywhere?”

Me “And Israel. And Tibet. My spirit tour.”

Abe said, “My Grandmother offered to take me on a cruise around the world.”

Me, “That’s nice.”

Abe, “Why Israel?”

Me, “I want to feel the history. Walk the path of Jesus’ crucifixion. Swim in the Dead Sea. Sometimes they show the Shroud of Turin, it travels, I think.”

The Shroud of Turin as defined by Wikipedia is “a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion.” They believe its the shroud Jesus Christ was buried in.


Abe said, “That’s supposed to be some image burned into cloth from light.”

I said, “They have a team of researchers studying it, there is lots of compelling evidence.”

He said, “Like the hands are outstretched like Jesus, so?”

I was fading.

Me, “Not the position, the plant base smudged around where the crown of thorns is can only be found where Jesus was tortured and crucified. The minerals and stone rubbed off on the cloth, match where they think his tomb was. The injuries in the side and head match. Its compelling. You can even see his eyes and facial hair. They can’t replicate the light used to burn that image.”


Abe said, “That’s interesting. I didn’t know all that matched. That is compelling.”

Me, “The only thing they can’t match is the carbon dating, but its an imperfect science, you know …”
His hands rubbed my back and neck.

Me, “Your hands are always so warm . . .”

Abe said, “Sorry I didn’t get you flowers.”

Half asleep, I said, “Thats ok. You got me the perfect things.”

In my sleep, he said he put a crystal in my hand and asked me to hold on to it. I don’t remember.

He then whispered, “I will come back soon, ok?”

And I said, “Don’t go.”

He left.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Neurotic Actress Vs. The Robot Butterfly

The night I came back home to Sylmar after seeing Alan, I had a very elaborate nightmare where I was chasing a serial killer who used pig fetuses to kill his victims. Somehow, he would implant them in living people and then make them explode out of their bodies.

The nightmare seemed to go on for days, ending in this long moment of watching several people die in a shower of pig fetuses.  It was very graphic, one fetus burst out of  the side of someone's jaw.



I woke up sweaty, and thought, “I hate this apartment.”

Maggie growled at the front door. That’s so damn unsettling.

***

My mind was getting rough. My mom used to claim she could see the clouds forming over head just before a depression hit me.

I don’t suffer from depression often, I have bouts of it. However, a storm was coming for me.

At work, Rachel, the actress, seemed to be battling her own war. We were talking about the karma of killing ourselves, because that’s what neurotic actresses do.

Rachel, “I would kill myself but I worry that I would come back as something terrible, like in a third world country.”

Me, “As a sex slave?”

Rachel, “Or a rock getting hit by a wave every 5 seconds.”

I laughed, “That’s funny.” I continued, “But you have a lot going for you, I am surprised you are depressed. You were in a great movie, you have representation . . . “

She said, “I am so glad that other people think I am happy because I had one movie.  That’s great, but just because I had one stroke of good luck doesn’t mean I am a happy person. I am not working. What if I never get another movie?”

I said, “I am sure you will, but you will always have that one people will revisit. And people who will be your fans.”

She said, “Oh, I already have a fan base. It just has nothing to do with my happiness. Successful people, celebrities, they all get depressed.”

I remembered Owen Wilson tried to kill himself.



When I look in the mirror, after my hair cut, the first thing I noticed was my expression. It was borrowed from the Prophet. He didn’t let me take very many photos of him during our 5-yr on-again, off-again affair, but his expressions have rubbed off on me. That’s almost nicer.

The second thing I noticed, is a very severe wrinkle forming on my upper lip. No one notices it unless I purse my lips and point at it, but its coming in. The laugh lines around my mouth and the crow’s feet. It all seems to be crumpling my head up into one giant spit ball.

Now, at first glance, you may think I am in my mid-twenties. A liquor store attendant told me last week he thought I was 18, God Bless him. I know its a matter of time before age creeps up on my face.

And why does it matter? I never thought I would care as I aged. I didn’t care, until people started telling me I was pretty, and then I started feeling pretty after 32 years of feeling ugly.

I feel cheated. I want more time.

So, around this time, I start googling face lifts, mini face lifts, microderm abrasions, botox and chemical peels. I also researched cost, though around $6,000, they will work out a payment program for you.

Just in time for me to pay off my car . . . great.

I feel better just knowing the option is out there, because, though I am the only one that acknowledges the age on my face, I know its just a matter of time before the casting directors and suitors notice, too. And then what? I will only be left with one compliment. “You’re funny.”

Its a good compliment. I love that compliment. But otherwise, I feel utterly useless.

***

Dora and I were still not talking.

Whenever I went up to the main house to shower, she would blast Blink 182 music until I left. I can’t tell you how glad I am to be paying an extra $50 a month to be made uncomfortable where the kitchen and bathroom are.

I did my best to shower, brush my teeth and cook at Doggie Daycare or other people’s apartments.

She and I collided at work in the kitchen as she was washing dishes.  She initiated a conversation about why she was upset that I didn’t drive her home that one time, 10 days prior.

She said, “I just want you to know how I feel. After all the favors my sister and mother did for you, we all waited for you, and you couldn’t wait for me, it makes me feel really bad.”

I said, “Dora, you make me feel like your servant. I told you in the morning, and I told you in the middle of the shift, I wanted to have dinner with my friend that night-”

Dora, “But I want you to know how I feel. It just made me feel like you didn’t appreciate all we did for you. But its ok! My mother explained to me that just because you do nice things for people, doesn’t mean they will do it in return.”

Nice jab. She spoke to her mother about it. That hurt. I loved and respected her mother and it would be petty to seek her out and explain my side of things.

I said, “Dora, I waited for you and drove you every other time for months. AND I took you to Disneyland.”

Here I saw a small smile creep on her face, like she was waiting for it.

She cocked her head to the side as she dried a water bowl and said, “I am just telling you how I feel, just so you know. It was really frustrating finding a ride home. And the tension is giving me nightmares. I haven’t been able to sleep again since we started fighting. I really need things to ease up because I am going to need your help again soon.”

Because . . . she needs me to drive her . . . #*!#

Sascha called us out of the kitchen, playfully, and I drifted out of the conversation. I was so disgusted with Dora, and that little malicious smile, that I wanted to leave the kitchen before I smacked that smirk off her face.

I couldn’t look at her, and I couldn’t talk to her because I was so enraged by her lack of appreciation and respect, not to mention her attempt to continually manipulate me. It wasn’t a matter of discussion when I could drive her and when I couldn’t. It was a matter of making me feel bad so I always put her before me.

Its not just the driving, its the placing dinner orders with me at work and never paying me back, its complaining when I get myself a coffee while not bringing her a cup, its using her mug, to only hear that’s her favorite mug and she needs it back while using 1 of my 2 cereal bowls as a cat feeder for 5 fucking months. ITS ALL OF IT!!

Her continual offers to take her food and borrow her things, only for her to hold it over my head shortly thereafter are all in an effort to get what she wants.

All very typical of a young woman, a teenager . . . but if I was not going to enjoy the pleasure of her first 12 years of life calling me ‘Mommy’ and making finger paintings for me, I sure as hell was not going to take her bullshit for the last few years of bitching to maturity. I will not accept a grown teenage daughter on my doorstep- I would rather kill the stork, and I am vegan.



You might think I am paranoid, or overreacting. Let me throw this little tidbit in, her mother and co-workers were asking me if I was ok, and were worried. I got the distinct feeling that she was telling people I was on a drug binge.

Still aren’t with me?

Last night, she point blank asked me if I was on drugs because “it just seems like it.: I guess having trouble even looking at your little brat of a roommate because you are so flustered with general rage while suffering from the fatigue of constant work looks and sounds like a coke addict. Good to know!




I promised myself I would not drive her anywhere unless a) she asked me b) she paid me $1 each way in good faith.

She didn’t ask me, so I was free to do what I wanted to. It was liberating.

I went to have dinner with my friend Jeph.

We talked about work ethic, and how I have been made to feel that by not working tons of overtime, and bending over backwards at Doggie Daycare every available minute that I am not an ideal leader or worker.

Jeph said, “The labor unions in Europe were formed to afford people more time. That is what the people fought for, more time away from work to enjoy their life and their families. The labor unions here were formed to give people more money for their time, so we are paid for overtime. Workers are looked down upon if they don’t put in overtime, whereas in Europe, its the opposite, if someone wants to work overtime, they are seen as mentally unbalanced.”

When I started Doggie Daycare, I told them, “I decided that I would not sacrifice myself for a job. It doesn’t pay off.”

Lori, the woman that lives at Doggie Daycare and hasn’t had more than 2 days off in years told me, “That’s good you found that out now. Never give that up. Never forget that.”

It still bothers me that I am not considered a valuable employee there. Granted, I don’t go above and beyond very often because people don’t seem to notice when I do.  And there is the obvious, its just a Doggie Daycare job.

When Trent was there, often the things he did, break up a dog fight or clean out the mop bucket area, were ignored and Mississippi was complimented personally in company meetings. Its like they pick one person to adore, and award them compliments and a 50 cent an hour promotion. Its so petty, I know, who cares? But it wears on you. And this particular Doggie Daycare has lost quite a few employees through simply neglecting their work and contributions while making them feel bad for not doing more.

In the last year, we lost our great Swiss female employee, Carmen, my friend Ocean, my favorite brown lesbian Camille, Trent and now Rochelle. I would even argue the above employees genuinely care about the dogs more than some of those promoted.  They also were my friends.

Another argument could be those promoted are all straight men- a possible indication of Management’s sex life. I would not go outright and say they are undeserving, but there are so many that are and to see straight men get compliment after compliment, and watch them prosper on those verbal highs . . . while so many women, I mean good working women, end up disheartened and quitting, it really annoys me.

***

Then, I told Jeph about my love triangle. Abe vs. Alan.

He said, “The best romantic advice I ever heard was, ‘Can you live with that person’s worst quality for the rest of your life?”

I said, “That is the best romantic advice I ever heard.”

I thought about Alan’s worst quality, lashing out and turning cold in the face of hurt or rejection. That scared me.

I thought about Abe’s worst quality, being a stoner who doesn’t work or show up on time. That’s something I think I could possibly live with, if we never had children.

In my nights of freedom, I got to visit Sascha and listen to old records and drink Bud Light.

I enjoyed a late birthday lunch with Lana.

She said, “You need to get some new men.” Then she looked down at Brad, “Your Mommy is crazy, isn’t she? Crazzzy!” He stood on his hind legs for her and wagged his tail in agreement.

The thing with keeping friends, is no matter how tired you are after working, you have to visit them to tend those fires. Friendship, on some level is work, work to stay in human contact. Some get lazy and fall by the wayside with text messages, God damn Facebook. The real friends I had, I saw after we both worked and dragged our asses across town in the middle of the night just to talk.

Despite all that, my storm was coming. My depression was growing in the back of my mind.

I texted Abe: “I am seeing someone else.”

***

I was working a lot. I booked a Swedish commercial on a Thursday.

The call time was 6am in the middle of fucking Simi Valley. I drove up at dawn and was taken by transport into the hills, and sat as close to a stationed space heater as possible.

Again, Wardrobe tried to put me in a strapless sun dress. I said, “Please, I just did an all night shoot in a mini skirt, can you please put me in something warmer?”

They let me keep my skinny jeans and jacket and said, “You’re welcome.”

I was reunited with DJ and Sebastian, Val Kilmer was on this set too and a young man who gave me a massage over a year ago on some other commercial. He was still giving me a massage.

He said, “Is this ok?”

I said, “Hey, you want to just give me a massage, by all means, go for it. I am not going to complain.”

We were supposed to run into the hills for a few takes. I have to say, I love the European commercials because they have good food and they don’t stress out over a bunch of takes. They get what they want in two or three takes and let us relax.


I was reading Alan Alda’s book “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and other things I’ve learned.”:

“Paris was everything I’d wanted it to be and, unfortunately, more. “April is the cruelest month, “ Eliot said, “ . . . mixing/memory and desire.” I didn’t know what he meant at first , especially because I remembered it wrong. “Mixing desire with dead leaves” is what I remembered from my freshman poetry course. I repeated it to myself over and over. Dead leaves in April? What does that mean? Then I got it. April is cruel because the desire of youth mixes with the moldy leaves of ancient winter underfoot.  As long as I was able t just be young in Paris, I was okay, but the winter of my past kept showing up and for me it was April in Paris all day long.

A young man in his early twenties who had been flirty with me over craft service asked, “What are you reading?”

I said, “Alan Alda’s autobiography.”

He said, “Who is that?”

I said, “He was the lead in M*A*S*H.”

He shook his head thinking, “Never saw that.”

I said, “Ok, um, wow, its just the best television show ever created.”

He smiled and leaned in, “Is it?”

I rattled off some more Alan Alda, “The Aviator? (nothing) Flirting with Disaster … um, he is mostly known for TV. He plays a good villain though.”

He said, “Oh wait! No . . . no I am thinking of someone else.”

I opened my book and said, “You don’t know who Alan Alda is . . . that's a crime.”

***

We wrapped around 3pm and DJ needed a ride home. As it turns out, he is the son of a Preacher.

I told him about my love triangle; Abe vs. Alan. He said, “You know why you are trapped where you are, because you laid with them.”

I said, “You mean sex.”

He said, “Yes. Your spirit is tied to them now, so you are struggling to move on.”

I said, “So you don’t think I can have a relationship with either of them?”

He shook his head violently and said, “Noooo. I think you and Sebastian would make a great couple. But in all honesty, you are a great girl, I can see you are probably great in bed because you seem adventurous.”

I held my head out for a moment then said, “Ok.”

He said, “Hey, do you have any pot? Want to smoke a bowl?”

I said, “Ummm, sure.”




So we pulled over into the first suburban area we could find and I got high with a Christian.

He said, “That’s good shit, thank you.”

I blew out a cloud and said, “Its called Bigfoot.”

Then he said, “You are smart, you are good. I think you are AH-mazing and you will find an AH-mazing guy. How old are you? In your mid thirties?”

I twitched. “Yeah.”

He said, “I always thought I would end up with a younger woman, I don’t know why.”

I said, “Probably because you associate a young woman with purity and sexual inexperience.”

He said, “You are probably right. But I am finding myself more and more attracted to women in their mid-thirties. I am seeing a woman who is 35, now.”

I said, “Oh. You are seeing her?”

He said, “Yes, I don’t know if she is my future wife, though.”

I said, “Why not?

He said, “Well, you know, she is nice, smart, a great girl, very selfless, she will do whatever she can to make me happy. Beautiful girl.”

I said, “Are you sleeping with her?”

He said, “Yes, but neither of us have done that before.”

I should state here DJ was married and divorced the year before, by never “done that before”, he meant having sex outside of a monogamous relationship.

I said, “I worry you are going to break her heart.”

He said, “I know . . . I know.”

Me, “Why don’t you think she may be your future wife?”

Him, “You know, she wears too much make-up and sometimes she has pimples.”

Me, “So you are looking for someone perfect. You are looking for someone that doesn't have any flaws.”

DJ, “Well . . . I am looking for something better.”

(Shake my head)

DJ, “Hey, I am being real with you.”

Me, “I know . . . I know you are.”

DJ, “Does Abe watch porn?”

Me, “He says he doesn’t. Do you?”

DJ, “I try not to. I am a man of God so I struggle with it. It isn't easy for me like it is for other people. It hurts me and my spirit. But they recently did a study with butterflies. They put 3 male butterflies and 3 female butterflies in the same container with a robot butterfly with brighter colors and bigger designs on her wings. The males humped the robot butterfly until they died.”

Me, “God.”

He said, “Now, I am going to say something, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings, I just want you think about it. If you got into a guy’s car and it looked like yours, coffee mug on the ground and cigarette butts on the console, would you take him seriously as a mate?”

I thought about it and said, “Probably not, you have a good point.”

He said, “I am just saying, present yourself at the level that you want your mate to be.”

I said, “I hate how dirty my car is.”

He said, “I didn’t want to make you feel bad.”

I said, “No, its ok. You are right.”

I dropped him off and he said, “See you on the next one.”



***

I hadn’t spoken with Abe since the Perm fiasco, so I called him:

Me: “You need to figure out what is going on. But I don't believe our relationship is strong. You are out there looking, posting ads for this other girl and it just tells me that even at our best you are still looking.”

Abe: “Do I need to explain this to you?”

Me: “No, I get it. But I married someone I knew wasn't my soulmate at the time because I thought he would be a good partner. Then somebody came along who I had a deeper connection with and it fucked up everything. I don't want to go through that again and I don't want to see you go through that. You need to figure out what you want and if you definitely want me for the rest of your life before we continue. You need to do some soul searching.”

Abe: “But how do I do that?”

Me: “You have to figure it out on your own. I have told you lots of things.”

Abe: “And I listen and think about all of them.”

Me: “Yes, but it doesn't really help because only you know whats going on, only you know what more you want, you have to answer all those questions on your own so you can be happy. And I just want you to be happy, no matter what, even if its without me.”

Abe: “Thank you.”

Me: “You’re welcome. And I have to figure out how to save myself and get stable so I can be a better partner. Go date other girls, have sex with them if you have to, just stay protected and safe and then let me know if you still want to be with me.”

Abe: “That’s pretty bold of you to tell me to go with other girls. Is that what YOU want to do?”

Me: “I have been doing it, for most of my life. If you asked me last month to give it all up and commit myself to you entirely, for the rest of my life, I would say, ‘Yes, absolutely.’ But now, we feel shaky, and I don’t think I can invest in that until you can say that to me.”

Abe: “Ok. Well, let me think on that.”

***

I had one more day off before a laborious week of babysitting, Edible Arrangements and Doggie Daycare.

So I decided to take Frank, who sounded depressed, and my three dogs to the dog beach in Huntington Beach.

We got in the car and had our usual musical pish posh with one another, exchanging stories about old lovers and past lives.

When we arrived to Dog Beach, the sun was setting, but it was gorgeous. I played frisbee with Esther and Brad was charging at most of the small dogs and circling around them in playful fury. Every time I tossed the frisbee for Esther, Brad would pound out some enthusiastic barks until Esther caught it.


Maggie had to stay on the leash because, how shall I say it . . . sometimes she doesn’t like other dogs.

I asked Frank, “Can you take a picture? My phone is dead.”

He said, “It won’t turn out on my iPhone. Just . . . enjoy the moment.”

I decided to run Maggie down the beach with me, just her and me, while Frank stayed with Esther and Brad.

I grabbed Maggie and we ran, my old lady ran like the wind with me, panting through her long, pink, pit bull tongue, smiling at me, wearing her new flowered collar, and we ran.

I saw the sun setting through the clouds on the ocean, like a yolk breaking through the shell. The water felt level with my face, as we ran.

I heard her panting and I heard lungs flush. Everything else drowned out under the waves.

I looked behind us, and there was Esther clutching her big red frisbee in her mouth and Brad. Frank was left far behind on the horizon, holding his sandals.

I laughed. We all ran and I realized this was one of the best moments of my life.

When ever I have one of these, I like to think, “Now, if I killed myself way back when, I never would have this moment.”

We ran together as a pack until the sand became rocky, and the yolk spilled into the ocean.

One pack, one soul.

We turned back to join Frank and decided to pick up Thai food and watch a movie.

When we got back to his place, spilled wet dog and sand all over his couch, I poured myself a generous glass of wine and he touched my cheek.

I gave him the look.

He said, “Yes, I am touching you.”

I said, “Why?”

He retreated.

We put on Amy Winehouse at Porchester Hall London 2007 and watched her quietly cringe after each number then drink. We asserted some safe chit chat in between.

I asked, "There will be two days where I am working Edible Arrangements in the morning and Doggie Daycare at night. Would it be possible to spend the night with the dogs in between those days to make it easier on all of us? I could take Esther and Brad in the afternoon."

He said, "When? Valentine's Day? Nahhh, well, there are a couple women I am kinda feeling out for Valentine's Day and it would be really awkward if I took a woman back home and you were here. I just want to avoid that."

I said, "Ok, that's fine. I understand."

Silence.

Frank, "Of course, I will probably end up alone on Valentine's Day and everything would have worked out just fine."

I said, "I know. But that's fine, me and the dogs will get through it."

***

I realized this afternoon, this night, would have only been complete if I shared it with someone I loved. A partner.

I am ready for a relationship.

The revelation wouldn’t stop the storm that was coming, my mind was going to crumble, but it was just a matter of time. Just a few days. Maybe less.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We’re Just Three Lost Souls Swimming in a Fish Bowl

A morning or two after the Hair Show, Abe pinged me: “I feel really awful like Im a heart breaker. I guess I dont know what Im doing.”

I left it up on my screen, unanswered. I wanted it to hang in the air like an comic book character’s thought, hoping it haunted him.

Alan and I planned to see each other on my first day off, which was a Wednesday. On a rush call, I booked work on a French beer commercial for that night, so I pinged him my cancellation.

I showed up to an abandoned hospital in Downtown LA around 3pm, smoked a bowl and waited in line with a group of Angelenos and a suitcase.

A transport arrived to take us to an abandoned warehouse, where we had to fill out various amounts of paperwork, and were warned repeatedly, we were getting a flat rate. There was no overtime and no guarantee of when we would get out. For non-union, $150 is still pretty good.

There was a burger station and actors holding was inside the warehouse, with the windows totally taped up.  I had a veggie burger as dry and vegan as I could make it, and then waited in line for wardrobe.

The wardrobe guy was an eccentric Brit who really loved my selection, and inevitably, put me in my denim mini skirt and a purple plaid button up. Then I was ushered into a tent where we got accessories.



I was waiting with another girl, she said, “I am so fat. I hate this gut. I just wish it would go away, then I would be happy.”

I said, “A flat gut comes with a price. Since I lost weight my face is looking more drawn. I have wrinkles I never had before.”

She went back to massaging her gut, she wasn’t inviting me into her conversation- she was talking to herself.

The Accessory Girls came in and one asked me, “Is that my skirt?”

I said, “No, its mine.”

She said, “Oh. Ok. It looks just like mine. Do you have any shoes?”

I said, “I left them in my car.”

The two girls exchanged a glance of disappointment.

I said, “But they were all heels.”

OK, it is a little unreasonable to ask me to bring my entire wardrobe to set and via transport. Not to mention, I just really don’t have much.

I asked, “But can I have this cowboy hat?”

One girl said, “Sure!” And popped in on my head.

She said, “Oh no, its too big. Hold on.”

She came back with a smaller hat, cowboy boots and a little leather, dream catcher “like” necklace. Then she sent me to make-up.

I kicked up the dirt in my new cowboy boots and realized I should not be going to make-up, I am just an extra. Make-up was for featured talent.

So I went back inside to finish my Baldwin book.

The craft service table was packed with candy, fruit and coolers of ice water. I reviewed it. Then Sebastian came up.

Sebastian is a small, skinny guy I worked on a game show pilot with almost a year ago. He might be as tall as me, but he bends like a skinny tree. In corduroy pants, a velvet vintage hat and a blonde go-tee. he stopped to look at me.

He said, “I know you.”

I said, “I know. We worked on Mind Game together. And then I saw you at an audition. I wanted your autographed head shots.” Yeah, he autographs his head shots.

He stammered, but its part of the act; to be beguiled by me, so overwhelmed with my beauty that he can’t speak. And with a person like that, its hard to play along. You are simply the audience.

He juggled fruit and let them fall on the ground, “Your eyes are pulling me out of it, I just can’t see anything but those . . . eyes.”

I shyly giggled and self-consciously stroked my now short hair.

He invited me outside to meet DJ and a few other friends he had on the shoot with him. I told them I was looking for coffee, which was only available on the crew crafty truck. They retrieved a cup for me and the night air wrapped around my bare legs.

DJ came and went, stirring up what people he knew or wanted to know. He was a tall kid, fresh faced, floppy hair but clean around the neck. He was large, by that I mean, big but not chunky or disproportionate. He had a tattoo across his forearm that said, “God is my Judge.”

Sebastian, “DJ is in my spiritual group- well Church group. I mean, its a group for people who love Jesus.”

I said, “Does he love Jesus?”

He said, “At our stage, you have to be IN love with Jesus.”

I said, “I am in love with Jesus, but for probably very different reasons than you are.”

DJ, Sebastian and one other more quiet fellow surrounded me and said, “You should come to the group. You will find the best people in Los Angeles, no obligations, no money, you just come and hang out with some really great people.”

I said, “That’s not really my thing, but I will think about it.”

DJ came up from behind us and I said, “I hear you are in love with Jesus.”

His face turned solemn. “Very much, he is everything, and the joy from that love it just . .  sets you on fire.” I could see he had the voice of a preacher in him, one he had known or seen on television.

Sebastian had another gentleman there, his writing partner. He was older and quiet compared to the other two.

He sat with his laptop, black thick curls draped around his ears and a broad, cocoa nose. I couldn’t tell what race he was.

Sebastian said, “He is a best selling author.”

I said, “Oh?” as I blew the vapor off my coffee.

Sebastian, “Yes, his book sold like crazy in England.”

I nodded and asked to see a copy.

He pulled it out for me.  I read the sleeve . . . it was Christian themed.

I nodded approvingly and handed it back.

He said, “People don’t know me as much in the U.S.”

I said, “Well, anonymity is a tool for a writer. People behave more naturally when they don’t notice you.”

He leaned back and smiled at me.

I said, “I am a writer too.”

They both skeptically positioned their heads and studied me. Do I not look like a writer? I mean . . .

The Author asked, “What do you write?”

I said, “A real time autobiography, one might call it  . . . a blog. About my life.”

I explained to them my life as a struggling actress, the bout of cocaine, the roommate suicide, the Prophet, the marriage to my professor.

They sat and quietly listened to everything.

Sebastian, “I think we found our next book.”

I said, “Nah. Its my next book. (beat) Hey, would one of you mind taking a picture of me over by that graffiti before sunset. I like my cowboy hat.”

Sebastian, “You know who is perfect for that? DJ.”

DJ grabbed my camera and directed me. Looking back on most of the photos, I look awkward and stiff. I am no model, that’s for sure.


A flame thrower was practicing with damp wands behind us.


It got dark fast and DJ fist pumped me, “I got an erection, nice work.”

I said, “Wow, thanks?”

I retreated inside with my book. There was one room attached to the side of holding that had light. All the readers were collecting inside on folding chairs with their books.

One older gentleman had a multicolored beanie on, an old man go-tee and reading glasses on. We had a casual conversation, turns out he is an accountant that lives in a small cottage in Silver Lake. He makes just enough to live, but he doesn’t want to do much. That was kind of nice.

I turned to my book, now stained with coffee from some other day.

“If we start worrying about money now, man, we are going to be fucked and we are going to lose our children. That white man, baby, and may his balls shrivel and his asshole rot, he want you to be worried about the money. That’s his whole game. But if we got to where we are without money, we can get further. I ain’t worried about money- they ain’t got no right to it anyhow, they stole it from us- they ain’t never met nobody they didn’t lie to and steal from.  Well, I can steal too. And rob. How you think I raised my daughters? Shit.”

I wondered if women are deliberately paid less so they have to depend on money from men; forcing us to marry or sell a part of ourselves for some level of financial stability. I know women tend to accept lower paying jobs, that is what the experts claim.

I can tell you that Abe, who has not worked a real job in his entire life, is paid more as a legal videographer than I have ever been paid in my highest ranking position. I wondered if I applied for the same position, which somehow I don’t even think I would get an interview for despite more experience and education, if my rate would be significantly lower.

We were called to set.  Everyone left their phones and laptops charging in holding and walked over to a section of the warehouse that was set up with barrels of fire. I was thrilled! HEAT!

We were instructed to dance at the prompt of the music.

Female flame throwers and swallowers were put on platforms around us to dance with fire wands and hoops.


A man was dressed up as a female and instructed to simply walk through the crowd.

The French really know how to make a commercial.

I hung out close to the barrel to keep warm, it was night now and there was no insulation. I stood next to a Russian girl, and we had a casual conversation.

I said, “How do you like the States?”

She said, “I LOVE it here. Back in Russia, I was secretary and teacher. It was so boring.”

I asked, “Are you an actress?”

She nodded.

Me, “How is going?”

Russia, “Its going ok. I get jobs, lots of time for role of prostitute. But I like the acting. I had no passion for life in Russia.”

I said, “Do you have a passion for acting?”

She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Its better than Russia.”

I laughed, “Whats it like there?”

She said, “Everything is very cold. We didn’t know the truth of our history. Do you know?”

I said, “I know a little about Stalin and Lenin.”

She said, “Well, all of our history was a lie. Everything I was taught was a lie. Things changed with the internet. We all found out the truth. It changed everything.”

That is kind of amazing.

I put my hands over the fire to keep warm, “Do you know why the Russians beat Napoleon?”

Others were listening to our conversation, and I looked to them as well. Everyone shook their head.

Me, “Because the Russians knew to defecate over open fire. It was too cold for the French to relieve themselves and they got sick and died.”

An older guy said, “Is that true or is that something you just made up?”

I said, “Oh its true.”

He said, “How do you know that?”

I said, “Um . .  because I have a Napoleon fetish. I watched that 2-hour PBS documentary TWICE. Something about a man who crowns himself emperor is just . . . arousing.”


We broke for dinner, and I enjoyed some brown rice and asparagus. The asparagus was spicy but not overpowering.

Another guy stood next to me, a tall black guy with big eyes, “Are you an actress?”

I nodded and we spoke for a bit. He said, “I can see you on the big screen, you’ve got something. You could be like a good crazy person. Not bad crazy, just crazy. A good crazy, lesbian.”

Me, “Um, thanks. Why lesbian? Because of my hair?”

He said, “The hair and .. . I don’t know. The way you carry yourself.”

Me, “Huh. Ok. I will hold out for that crazy lesbian part.”

I mean, Jesus Christ.

I sat down, Sebastian gave me his heavy jacket to wear to keep warm, and another guy who looked kinda like Val Kilmer gave me his sweatpants. So in my collaborative outfit, I texted Alan. He hadn’t gotten my ping and was asking for an ETA. I explained that I was on set til 3am or maybe longer.

He was disappointed. That was sweet.

I finished my book shortly after dinner and felt the sting in my eyes, like a splinter had just been removed. Finishing a good book is heavy; you are emotional, there is a moment of loss and consumption, and then you look around and realize where you are . . . in a warehouse . . . in the middle of the night. No one noticed that your spirit just moved.

We were called back to set on occasion and between takes, I would go sit in front of a small space heater I set up in a side room. A man joined me, asking if he could put his snakes in front of the space heater. I said of course, and sat on top of their holding containers while the prickly orange almost burned the skin on my knees.


Back on set, DJ asked, “So, what do you think of Sebastian?”

I said, “I think he is a bit odd.”

DJ, “But do you . . . you know?”

Me, “What?”

DJ, “Find him attractive I guess?”

Me, “Sexually? No. But he is nice.”

DJ paused, “How do you feel about chest hair?”

Then he opened up his top and revealed a forest of thin, brown curls over his chest.

I said, “How very Jon Bon Jovi. This cowboy hat must really be working for me.”

We all started dragging around 1am, and people were complaining. I told everyone that this was the easiest job in the world until it became apparent that they weren’t going to supply us any coffee.

I am sorry, after 1am, lemonade doesn’t fucking cut it.

Sitting next to Val Kilmer, he said, “Its funny, more people want to be friends with me on Facebook since I started doing this kind of work?”

Me, “What kind of work? BACKGROUND?”

He nodded.

Me, “HA!” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I texted Abe: “I thought you were different than the other guys, but you are the same . . . just dumber.”

We were wrapping things up, and one group of people were already sent home. Those of us who had a call at 3pm were lined up.

The Production Coordinator said, “Does anyone WANT to stay longer? Is there anyone here who wants to continue to work on set?”

I said, “Without incentive?” They already told us it was a flat rate. Everyone would be paid the same no matter how much time was put on set.

The guy next to me said, “He’s joking right?”

I said, “It just doesn’t make any sense.”

The girl next to me, “Look, here is a photo of me getting arrested in a Korean McDonald’s for indecent exposure.”

After a minute, the Production Coordinator said, “OK, you can all go.”

I pulled off the clothes and returned them to the appropriate male suitors, Val put his pants over his head and inhaled the crotch . . . nice. Then I waited in front of a space heater until the line for wardrobe went down and returned my cowboy accessories. :-( 

I texted Alan, “Is it insane for me to come out now?”

He texted back, “Probably. But I am dying to see you.”

I texted Frank. Did I mention Frank and I reconnected on an odd note. He wants to adopt Maggie.

Maggie is my dog, even though just a few moments ago I asked her if she was still alive. She really just wants to lay there and relax . . . sometimes her eyes are open. But she is my dog. She adopted me.

That said, I thought Frank could dogsit and see if having a dog suits him.

He agreed to take Maggie and Esther for 24 hours.

Frank was up. So I dropped off an actor at a commune downtown, then rushed home, packed a bag, let the dogs out and we all drove to Frank’s in Hollywood.

Driving away from Sylmar feels so good- at that moment int he middle of the night, listening to Bob Seger on the radio and feeling a cold bite of night air on the back of my neck so the dogs could hang their heads out the window. That felt like freedom, no matter how short lived.

I dropped off the kids, had a quick chat with Frank about my love life.

He said, “Remember? You called this. You said Alan would be begging for you back a long time ago. But you said you would never give in.”

I said, “I probably shouldn’t give in, but right now I need to be worshiped.”

He said, “I like the hair.”

I pulled at it and winced.

I arrived in San Diego after sunrise. Why people drive slow at 5am makes no sense to me? There was a brief patch of touch and go outside of San Diego, but I flew into Little Italy fairly easily. I parked outside the church across the street, grabbed my bag and Brad and walked up to his apartment in vintage sunglasses.

The Hispanic blowing leaves outside the building smiled at me. I winced.

Alan leaves the door open for me, so I always just shove the front door open just before entering, likes its my opening in a movie.

He smiled as soon as he saw me.

I said, “Do we have to be blowing leaves at 7am? Doesn’t that violate some city law?”

He said, “They always start that noise at 7am, and then the church bells ring every hour.”

The church bell came on, “DONG DONG DONG”

I groaned. They have a big bell, but they aren’t using it  to make that noise. They have speakers placed on each side of the bell, playing a recording of a bell.



DONGGGGG. DONGGGGGG.

He took my bag, made me some tea and said I could lay down. I had been up for almost 24 hours.

He said, “I like your hair like this, a lot.”

I winced.

He said, “You don’t see yourself the way that other people see you. You are gorgeous. You don’t need a mane of wild hair to hide behind.”

I said, “I don’t need it, but I grew out this hair after a long time of having short hair and it was me. This doesn’t feel like me.”

He said, “Its sexy.” He leaned in and kissed me.

My guard was still up.

I went to go lay down and he followed me in, then gently pulled off my clothes.

He said, “Look, I grew a small little heart on my lower back for you. I didn’t have time to manscape. See? It makes a little heart.” He pointed to the hair on his lower back.

I said, “Aww, an early Valentine’s Day present.”

He pulled out my naked body in front of him.

I said, “I am feeling shy.”

The sun was all over me and we hadn’t been really intimate since early September.

He said, “You can cover up the top part but I need the bottom part.”

I pulled the blanket over my chest and face as he went down on me. Then we made love for a while, morning sweat and church bells.

Afterward, he disappeared for a while, he moved my car so I wouldn’t get a parking ticket . . . I think he went to class.

I remember dozing for most of the day and getting up for a late lunch at Underbelly with him.

Somewhere in the day he had said quietly at first, “If you decide to stay with me, I plan on buying a house with a yard.”

Well, that is exactly the right thing to say to me right now. Sweeter words could never be spoken. Its just, Alan was capable of being very cold and that would be something I would have to live with. I don’t know that I can.

On the flip side, Alan’s advice has been the most beneficial to me in the last year.

He said, “One of my clients complained that I was too much of an asshole. Its just she wasn’t listening to anything I said, so I stopped sugar coating it for her. It works on other people, like one client that tried to stab my boss last year. She loves me. I really don’t like working for poor people. Its just too difficult. I am going to quit that job. I have an interview with a private law firm that dabbles in divorce and other parts of law. Its kind of a boutique.”

In the beginning, Alan wanted to work for the poor and underrepresented. Now, his course has changed dramatically. Funny how that happens. The whole reason he was going into law was to stand up for the little guy, now he will completely change his mission. And I believe he will thrive working for the rich- they will respect him.

That excites me, in a different way than his Atticus Finch speech from last summer. I don’t know, I have to think about that.

Alan, “I’ve had enough of being surrounded by meth heads, child abusers, alcoholics, and worse on a regular basis and then representing them.”

Me, “Whats worse than child abusers?”

Alan, “There is worse.”

***

We came back and the night was falling down on us. I was still tired.

He was in his aquarium pulling out one of his fish.

Alan, “One of my fish has been dying for the last few days, he’s gone now.”

I said, “DEAD! HE DIED? Just now!?”

Alan, “He lived a few years after he was supposed to.”

I said, “Its because I came to visit. I am the ambassador of death.”

He said, “No no. I didn’t tell you because I knew you would have a reaction. Don’t feel bad. He has been dying.”

He gently pulled out the body and then went into the bathroom. I heard a flush.

I said, “Did you flush him?”

He said, “Yeah.”

I said, “Oh, I had to pee but . . . I guess I will wait.”

He said, “You don’t want to desecrate his burial?”

I said, “Exactly.”

We went to lay down in bed and he said, “He was sick for a while now. I thought about flushing him earlier, but I figure even a few days in pain is still a few days of life.”

I thought about that. Recently, I found a video of a teenager who died of heart condition. He suffered a near death experience earlier in the year and made a YouTube video using cards to describe the experience.

The boy is beautiful, I mean, just a gorgeous young man. His story in a few cards:

When people’s bodies “die” the brain still works for a short time.

I heard them [Paramedics] say, “Hes not breathing, his heart stopped and he has no pulse.”

I really thought to myself, this is it. I am dying.

The next thing that happened, I’m not sure if it was a dream or a vision.

But while I was unconscious, I was in this white room. No walls, it just went on and on …

There was no sound. But that same peaceful feeling I had when I was 4.

I was wearing a really nice suit, and so was my fav rapper, Kid Cudi.

Why he was the only one there with me, I’m still trying to figure out.

But I was looking at myself in this mirror that was in front of me.

The first thing I thought was ‘Damn, we look GOOD!”

I had that same feeling, I couldn’t stop smiling.

I then looked at myself in the mirror, I was proud of MYSELF, of my entire life, everything I have done.

It was the BEST feeling.

Kid Cudi brought me to a glass desk and put his hand on my shoulder. Right then, my favorite song of his came on, Mr. Rager.

The part where it said, “When will the fantasy END. When will the heaven BEGIN.”

And he said, “Go now.”

Right then, I woke up and the EMS were doing CPR.

I didn’t want to leave that place.

I wish I NEVER woke up.

Do you believe in Angels or God?

I do.


Its comforting, perhaps life is not better than death. Maybe that is the big secret. We are fighting to struggle in the sun, when the other side is peace in the dark.

We made love again and he said, “There really is nothing like making love to you.”

I turned into him and kissed his cheek.

I didn’t know what to say. He really broke my heart. I wasn’t over it, even though I rationalized it, and reignited my connection with him. I couldn’t give all of myself to him again. And I am not sure I wanted to.

The morning came fast, and he was off to court at 6am.

I saw him in his suit and he bent over me whispering something about how I should sleep in and take my time. 

He would be back.

I muttered something back. The sun wasn’t up yet.

He said, “I didn’t understand a word you just said.”

I said, “Good luck in court.”

And slipped back into dirty bed sheets and dog fur.

I woke up, showered and got a cup of coffee with our dogs. I sat in his empty place and played “Wish You Were Here.” That song reminds me of us from last summer. I tried to find “Angel” by the Black Crowes but I misspelled Crows.

I was restless.

Was I going to wait for him for a brief goodbye? I had to be at work by 2.

He left a note: “I will be back around 10:50-11:00 If you can’t wait I understand. I left gas money by your glasses. <3

I knew he wanted me to stay. I was feeling muddled.

I didn’t want to go back to LA. If it wasn’t for my Pittie Princesses, I wouldn’t.

I left.

Both Abe and Alan called that morning, but I just wanted to drive. Just drive and collect my thoughts about what I was doing.

I got a text from Alan, “I knew you would take off.”

I texted, “I didn’t want to wait for a drawn out goodbye. I thought it would be easier.”

He wrote, “I see you looked for Black Crowes on my computer . It is spelled with an ‘ES’. Angel is the first song I taught myself on guitar.”

There is something poetic about how he knew which song I was looking for. He gets me sometimes.

I picked up Esther and took the kids to work, Frank said he had some event that night and would leave a key for me to grab Maggie after work in case he wasn’t back in time.

I was mind fucking us. I don’t know that it would work with Alan. He was so hard on me the week before, and he tries to motivate me through harsh dialogue. All those terrible things he’s said to me.

I responded to it this time, it worked.

Most of the time it doesn’t work. People have been saying terrible things to me since Kindergarten. People have hated me for a long time, before I could even grasp the concept of hate.

It makes me think of Em and how our friendship ended. I didn’t give her the response she wanted, but the words she and her husband used were like fire. Even if my thoughts brush pass her and our last few nights on her back patio, I feel my skin darken and curl. I run away.

That’s what I do.

I just don’t know what to do with people’s rage towards me, so I find it best to slip away. Maybe that is the wrong thing to do. I don’t know.

I find it hard to believe I matter so much that I inspire rage.

After work, I texted Frank. We both decided we would hang out if he was around and catch up.
The few text messages I got back were nonsense.

“I 3656f5ewffrji xxied 20pkfk”
or
“thevvvvvvvvvwoqre s777”

He was drunk or on drugs.

I swept up Maggie and left a Thank You note on his desk.

As I was driving back to Sylmar, he called and said, “I am almost there. Just help yourself to anything.”

I said, “Are you drunk?”

He said, “I had a bit to drink yeah.”

I said, “Let’s hang out another time. I will be around.”

He sadly said, “Ok, I gotta say. I think you are terrific. This is off the record but, you can do no wrong in my book. You and the dogs are welcome anytime. I really wanted to see you tonight.”

I said, “Wow, this hair cut is really working for me.”

Back home, Abe left a note next to the heart shaped stone I bought for us in Ocean Beach. He had come to visit and waited a few hours before giving up.

What a little mess I have got myself in now.