Monday, April 23, 2018

LA IV


Something is different! Something is so different! I have my daily pecan salad with the stand-ins and laugh and laugh. I have a corner, I know the routine, Grief is my friend, my real friend. JS has gourmet vegan pop-tarts delivered to set on the very day it is so hot I have to wear shorts. PP tells me my tatt is cute. It’s too good to be true. “You have nothing to worry about--you’re in,” this person says. In exchange I tell him how to date a girl. I thought our meeting was a dinner. It wasn’t. I drive-thru a quesarito and crunchwrap on the way home. Pair it with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It’s so hard to know if everything is small or everything is huge. Right now, everything is perfect.

I hadn’t gotten to try a couple vegan donuts at the shop I went my first weekend, and JR has several dozen catered. I eat four. A stand-in casually mentions, “Is it good? Because I saw you eating a chocolate one this morning.” I’m doing things right. Sometimes I laugh so sincerely. I have to write a fake Ted Talk about microdosing. I remember watching the Writer’s Room episode about Breaking Bad when the writer’s assistant explained how she had to research poisons. I remember thinking that that was the coolest job in the world—to research and write. Now I am deep into science journals about acid trips for the sake of a bit.

Late call. I FaceTime in for the rehearsal of my new musical. Chills. This thing I was told was impossible x3 is in front of me. I am walking through the middle of set and roll my ankle. It shocks me in an unfamiliar way. I immediately feel like barfing. I turn kind of white, and the makeup ladies ask if I need the doctor. I walk slowly to a stool and think, “I just need to take a few deep breaths.” Then everyone is around me and I’m on the ground. Once my vitals have been taken and it’s decided I pinched a nerve and I am half-forced to eat a sandwich, it’s almost nice. The producer and 1st AD both assure me. AP lowers her voice and asks, “Wanna sue? I can tell you who has money.” There are new pages, and Cowsk says I can pitch alts. I write five, she picks two, and AP chooses one. My joke will be filmed. I have never acted so casual in my entire life. On the way home I think about how lucky I am and cry out of gratitude.

Thursday my theatre dream is on set getting the lay of the land. CJ is magnetic. She sits in a room alone with me. She speaks magically and openly and grabs my leg. I cannot help but tell her I wrote part of my graduate thesis on one of her plays. I watch my joke get shot over and over from different angles. RD says it is her favorite alt. AG laughs heartily. The night is long. What am I inside? I miss my boyfriend. I eat potato chips driving home to stay awake. I’m mad. Scene revisions come out at midnight, so in bed, in pjs I reformat and distribute.

Zumba morning. I am the only white person and I feel a kind of “Am I imposing?” but I stay because my body misses long workouts. I boost to a hip café for hemp milk espresso and rewrites of my musical. Late night and candy candy candy. Close to midnight JR insists we share a cookie sandwich. I have already eaten two, but what can you do? The pool is glowing under a balloon. The moon and palm trees.

Sat: I eat cashew yogurt while FaceTiming into my musical. Tear up at the finale. A friend texts me during one scene, and I respond, and then I wonder, “What am I doing?” and I feel guilty. Trashy donut shop with high-class treats. MB and I split eight. She has to go, and I want to write, but I can’t seem to. I tell myself I’ll leave once this guy buy $20 of lotto tickets at a time does. He doesn’t for hours. I find a stupid salad, go home and take a walk while all the dressed up people crowd sidewalks. I used to do this on the drunk strip in Pheonix too.

Morning is for the market, a misplaced run-in, church. A planning meeting with Elrey, a real life sunshine chat with a Chicago comedy early-move star, a podcast with a hidden treasure, email from AP, so I have to awkwardly sit in the living room and revise a scene while everyone else munches biscuits in the kitchen. It’s always like turning in a term paper, so I text Smirn to say we will not be having vegan dinner and instead going to an ice cream parlor for dinner. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Tweak Three



We’re ahead of schedule. I want to be in the sun, but I also don’t want anyone to think I’m weird for choosing the solo bench across from the shaded tents. I take my bowl of kale down the block and sit on a curb behind a trashcan. A garden café behind a Korean church. I take a phone call. I drink a lemonade. I finish the short film script. I’m supposed to meat Ghoul for dinner but go to the wrong Aroma. There are three Aromas in LA. She’s 45 minutes away. I get an email from AP. New pages need to be distributed quickly. I feverishly drive around trying to find internet. Wind up on a Starbucks patio, pausing work every fifteen minutes to move my car. After I press send I exhale and buy a $49 massage. It is heavenly. I eat disgusting snack food in bed. I’ve asked a stranger for advice.

Green canopy. I am kind of in trouble, but kind of not. On the upside, I think feeling bad can be an indicator that you care. The 2nd AD tells me his story and gives me a run-down of what is to come. What could be to come. There’s a novel in the movie, and I am given the task of writing it. The words will very probably not end up on screen, but I’m teenily proud. Puhg and I talk on the phone while I walk in place because I am sick of sitting 12 hours a day.

Today there is a nameless black chair. For me. My headset went from nothing to numbered to Sharpie on tape to officially label-gunned. AP says she would definitely read through everybody’s text messages if she were left alone for more than ten minutes with our phones. After work, Ghoul and I meet at the real Aroma. Dig deep on art and commitment. The restaurant is inside a house, and her black swan necklace, the twinkle lights, my chocolate cheesecake make it seem like a dream.

How do you seem excited and no-big-deal at the same time? I eat plantains with RD. We talk about ghosts and then how 2016 changed us for real. “No one is thinking about you,” I block into my head. In a good way. It’s late but there are obscure treat buns to be had with MB. Something is not right. Maybe there is nothing up there.

And maybe the publicist is my friend. I have learned to make duties for myself. I like duties. We go late, and I feel Friday fussy.

The sun makes it all better. I can’t be mad in the sun. No parking, wrong turns, it just means less. I pack up and make my way to Santa Monica singing Sheryl Crow. The best Salt and butter donut. The best. The best. I read Oscar Wilde. I meet with a playwright. He rejuvenates me. He tells me things I hope as if they are true. He has made a life this way. He is happy. I feel California girl with new round glasses and hot pink lipstick. I study in the Reading Room and walk to the beach, buy a new t-shirt and perfume on the promenade, sit outside working on my book. Diablo and I eat Greek. I love her and she tells me about an awkward encounter with Keanu Reeves. I’ve learned a lot from interacting with famous people. Mainly that quantity of adoration is not quality of adoration, and experience, even positive, with someone beloved will never compare to an experience with one’s own beloved. We go to a serendipitous movie, which I never do. Krasinski got us good. Today is the opposite of Thursday. This is how weekends feel for non-teachers.

At 6 I’m up to do HIIT, at 8 I’m buying cashew yogurt at the Studio City farmer’s market. Yosh & fiancée + Coors. We did comedy under a Taco Bell. It never gets older, it never gets less magic. I worship in a sweatshirt and meet some girls for lying around and discussing. Two hours loafing until I can barely stand myself. Walk to a bakery and sip on oj and cookies, rip through my book until my computer dies. There are a few more hours, but “just go to sleep” I tell myself. Just go to sleep. You need it.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Los: Dos

Toasts & latte. Very delightful. Very expensive.
Lunch is weird. Does figuring out where you will sit at lunch ever not feel like high school? I pull up a folding chair into the sun. There are vegan hot dogs in the dinner cart. I am confused about how regular things seem. I knock on a closed bathroom stall and hear the voice of PP grumpily respond.

The 2nd AD called lunch, so I walked a block to a cafe. I had this idea of sitting alone with a grant application. In the ten minutes I was eating a fonut (baked donut) I got three emails and needed to make revisions, copies. My insides rattled, I shoved my junk in a bag, and ran back to set. Later, in the van on the way back to crew parking I heard a makeup artist and tech complain about a mistake I had made with the yellow pages. Cowsk assured me no one cared. I can't get it out of my head and google "making mistakes at work" until I fall asleep. I miss the grant deadline.

Any book about movies could be titled "Where Should I Sit." I sit on an awkward stool. I sit in the writer's seat when she's acting. I sit on the floor across from AG. I am hyper aware of Doing Things Right, and I still print something in the wrong direction.

Call is late. Time to run. Time to walk to the v hip cafe for some work and nosh. Two pieces of toast and a Figeroa espresso is $24. I HAVE to learn to check prices here. There's no wifi. I sweat enough to buy a shirt at Forever 21. It has tiny cocktails on it. I change in the car. Everyone is chipper before a three-day weekend. People all over the country would give up their friends and families to do what they do, and everyone doing it just wants an extra day to have the friends and family back. We go late. The producers buy an adorable cafe truck. A cocoa. I think about how millennials are portrayed in film. I don't remember what happens in chunks of time, namely the chunks before bed.

LA proper: bangs cut, three hour vegan donut writing sesh, a tattoo shop that doesn't tow me, hairs waxed, reading in the sunshine. My temporary roommate is making dinner and I soak up his real pro-ness. A meeting that frustrates me (how do you say you are stupid about X without people thinking you're stupid about Y?) see the show I could join if. It's early and it's Friday, but that's all I have. I try Sneaky Pete, eating donut halves in bed.

7:30 AM SoulCycle in Pasadena. I didn't like it, but I miss vigorous workouts. I'll go again. I worry about this car thing a lot. There are a lot of signs and street parkings and meters. It's about 10-20% of my brain at any given time. I plan to write, but I have to lay down and watch Popstar. I watch every credit. I know many of them. I really enjoy it. At the Echo Park cafe literally everyone has Final Draft open. I meet victoriously. It's hot. I'm in shorts. I drive over to Chicago pals with a lemon tree. I keep asking for advice and everyone says they don't have it, but there's pebbles. Again, what do I do with myself? What is left? I treat myself to Thai while I text Puhg, which is a decent date. I spend a long long time in CVS. When I get home, I crack everything open at once and use it. Face scrub, a nail file, glasses cleaner.

I'm too late to church to sing of Easter gladdness. Oatmilk ginger iced chai. One thing SO LA is all the milks. I love all the milks. We have a girl's brunch. I don't have to think about writing or art or anything. We gossip about dating and gyms and I'm in love with this pink tile and the little bit of grunge here, everywhere. I Yelp donuts. I eat donuts (marshmallow peanut butter and cro-muffin). I send out the draft. I apply for a contest. Did I throw my money in a hole? Someone doesn't. Guy from the past invites me to an improv show. It's seedy but I am happy to go and see this dumb (it is very dumb) thing that will be here if I am. I have to go to sleep but I can't. I purposely didn't buy Easter candy all week. I cave, purchase M & M eggs, munch popcorn, watch Crazy Ex Girlfriend, fall asleep reading scary stories.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Los Angeles: Week One

Holding a fritter at a v grammable mural. Headset on.
Puhg came with me on a practice drive to Paramount. I am intimidated by these old highways, but there is no other option. Billboard: there is no other option. I'm drinking a kale smoothie from my new grocery in the sunshine unlocking my loaned Mercedes Benz. Romanian spread with A Jar, specifically a deep fried cheese ball and thick tomato porridge.

Traffic increases every ten minutes and I can't stop replaying the worst case scenarios. Can't find the parking lot right in front of me, but then I am eight minutes early. My first Hollywood space is an empty table with a granola bar wrapper on it, but the lot does feel magical. Kind of like Disney. No one turns on the lights all day. I meet AP. It feels unreal. She is a live human being shaking my hand and welcoming me. I have to sit down and feel the pink drain from my face. And then she is my boss and that's that. I sit at the fountain tense. I drive tense. I eat Thai food tense. I feel the tenseness in my every inch until I fall asleep.

Cowsk wears my gift on the second day. She leaves early and I futz with my new responsibilities. I am not a technical or detail-oriented person, so I learn. (I try to learn.) I'm home for date night. I put on sweatshorts, take off my bra, and we walk to a cozy noodle shop. I order the pot pie, which will take 45 minutes, and I soak in every little minute with my guy. I cannot get over him lately. So good and funny with the best blue eyes I've ever encountered.

4 AM. I'm up. I arrive too early. I have to find the roof. I have to find the van. I have to find the catering. I have to bring Cowsk a breakfast burrito. I had eaten cashews in the car. I was an idiot. I will be completely surrounded by a million foods for the next two months. I didn't know. AP says she likes my raincoat and gives me a huge First Day Hug. I had thought sets would be more organized, but suddenly I'm holding a printer, climbing stairs, searching for a plug. Everyone is friendly. I didn't expect that, and I am relieved. "Am I allowed to...?" "Should I...?" These are my most usual questions. I eat two donuts--a buttermilk bar and a regular ol chocolate. I watch Cowsk work, noting bits and keeping integrity. It is hard not to fangirl over someone you interact with all day. I like the stand-ins. It is raining and I have to get up at 4 again. I am sad and stressed picking Puhg up from a bar. I don't want him to leave. I don't want to drive. I miss my students. I am on a dream movie. I probably need to sleep.

I cry on my way out the door because it's goodbye to Puhg. He will fly away while I start a new location. Today we have a special guest among us, and her time is valuable. I run through cords and hair bags making pages and falling down to my knees when She starts writing to transcribe the improv. I sit in the sound editor's seat watching playback. I have a whiz call me to teach me in the hot sun over the phone while I'm half on headset and MR sings about Cheeze-Its at the craft table. The producer asks me for a joke for AG I preemptively printed, and I sigh a proud sigh. After we wrap, drive to Koreatown, don't even care if I have to pay for the garage. Redbean soft serve in a fish cone. My parking was validated.
Friday prize.
Brene Brown TED Talks as I run. I've never looked at Google Maps so much in my life. I go for a walk and accidentally climb a mountain. One of my girls is on the phone with boy drama. I drive an hour to brunch with Yosh and his finance. I have a ridiculous pile of dessert waffles. All my meals are $20 or free. We've pumped each other up in the middle of the night via text for five years and now we do it in the city of angels. I am listening to that Red Hot Chili Peppers song. Don't @ me. A welcome diversion, a Japan Abroad reunion. I love these three boys. We sit outside and gossip about everyone we've known and laugh about streaking at a temple and discuss where we're at now with the whole spirituality thing.

Sunday I do HIIT while dogs bark at me from behind a fence. They never let up. I go to church with my first college roommate. We used to have a David Beckham magazine ad hanging above our desks and she wanted to be a makeup artist and I wanted to be a writer. I tell myself I will write all afternoon but I have to lay down. I can't not lay down. I clean my mess I watch a Younger I eat broccoli I revise my musical for three hours and sleep.

I dream of moldy cheese, which a psychology website tells me I'm afraid of being awkward.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Welcome to My High School LiveJournal

The cow as white as milk,
the cape as red as blood,
the hair as yellow as corn,
the slipper as pure as gold.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Student Journals in the Library

"I will be an unsuccessful writer," he says. I respond, "All writers are unsuccessful most days." I flip to the next student's work.

1. Is this true?
2. Is it inspiring or depressing?
3. Should I avoid grading post-emotionally revising my own work?

(Answer Key: Probs. Depressing. YES.)

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Antelope Party at Theatre Wit

My cousin was a Brony (an adult male fan of the children's cartoon My Little Pony). He passed away on Christmas four years ago, reppin' MLP pride 'til the end. I knew it was a movement of some kind, so, being a culturally curious person, I watched the pilot. Maybe it was one of those Rocko's Modern Life types that had a dark satirical edge. But, no. It was what it was--fluffy, simple, and for children. But later that day, while on my bike, I thought about the last time I saw my cousin. He was very skinny and needed help walking, breathed heavily, had a lot of adages about "at least I got up today." At the time I was really into Mad Men, but it occurred to me if if I were in J's shoes, I too might prefer an enchanted forest of horses.

So when I saw an ad for this Brony play on the train I texted my cousins (J's surviving three sisters) and asked if they might be interested. They agreed, and we all met up Sunday (plus my sister) for the matinee at Theater Wit. I just absolutely loved this play. I will admit I have specific emotional bias (as alluded to above), but who doesn't to what becomes their favorite plays?

The set for Theater Wit's production was immediately inviting--a living room Brony'd out with rainbow curtains and toy ponies and lest we forget, a plate of strawberry frosted poptarts (which, if you have ever seen my thigh, you know mean a lot to me). Plus, every audience member got a teeny plastic pony! How adorable and perfect. "We're all in this weird club now." Meanwhile, that one bright room is surrounded by rust belt backdrop--a foreshadowing of how their utopia can't stay enclosed forever.

The play begins with a long monologue from Shawn, a scrawny white guy dressed in a pink horse costume, about how he used to struggle to find his self/masculinity (citing Mad Men, no less) and how once he joined the Pony club, he felt free to be himself. The other present members, also in their sparkles and tutus, nod, agree, and speak with enthusiasm as well. And then the first "huh" happens. A nervous woman confesses she thought this was a meet-up for 9/11 Truthers. She leaves. The group, clad in false hooves, call her "the crazy lady." Another Brony shows up concerned about the state of a mutual friend, who was grabbed by "Neighborhood Watch." And we learn about this town's interesting predicament with unidentified, black clad, trucker hat wearing, flashlight-wielding "helper" community vigilantes. So in scene one it's all laid out there--weird uprising secretive group, adorable secretive group, ultra counter-culture secretive group. Theme: secrets, y'all. This theme is the bedrock for the rest of the piece--beginning with the simple enough conversation of "Should we take down our Meetup online page and risk people we don't want getting in at the expense of possibly locking out a future welcomed member?" to a full-blown secret head council within a head council overthrow that results in the injury/killing of dozens of homeless folk in the town. We love secrecy, but it ruins us from the inside out. We can never stop second guessing what is real inside a secret space. That will never not be true.

A few more ideas: I loved the Crucible parallel to the Act I closing sign, which puts each character through the anxiety of signing their name to something they don't necessarily believe for the benefit of another. The snacks were not lost on this little dramaturgical theatre-goer! At the set of the show the Bronies have the poptarts. At the next meeting, rainbow cookies. And then as their utopia begins to deflate, a bowl of white popcorn. Finally, a crinkled bag of Cheetos. Gross, unhealthy, fast and cheap, perhaps even symbolic of Tr*mp (as some people call him The Cheeto). To me the most engaging moment in the whole play was Shawn's speech (long gone from wearing pink fuzz and back to his "manly" fedora) once he was at the top of the Antelope Party. He plagiarizes from his girlfriend who is desperate for power in an organization her father once ran. When she objects he basically complains that it's not fair. She has so much talent! Why shouldn't be entitled to at least half? It was chilling and, I'm positive, a conversation I have had a dozen times with men who didn't know they were having it. As she sprints away from this loser (and as my cousin whispered, "Go girl!") he screams she's a bitch before crumbling and confessing he loves her so much. Mama mia. Too real, 2018.

The development of the whacko plot was fast, yes. Too fast probably. After reading reviews of the show that seemed to be most people's beef. (That and feeling hoodwinked to see a political thriller when they were promised a rainbow of lil horsies). To be A. I'd rather see a play that moves too fast (perhaps unbelievably) than one that doesn't move at all. And if we were going to get to the end of this thing, in an explosion of paranoia, it had to clip along. B. I didn't feel hoodwinked because the principles of MLP remained despite new plot developments. It was COOL, guys.

I did have one hope that didn't pay off in this play. Shawn was such a garbage bag, and, look, I just wanted to see him get knocked on his butt. I wanted to see him fall. The end of the play circled around the idea that the three women on stage, sorting through all the mess of their "friends" should just band together. They were in a web created by and for men trying not to suffocate when they could simply all decide to run for it together. A character explains how stupid the whole Brony fad is in the first place. The show was meant to teach little girls to be friends and instead all anybody knows about it is that adult men like it. It's true, and something I had never considered. Can't we have anything? And so the end. The end being whats going to happen to these people? I just wanted more. I GET the ending of "Okay, ladies, facism is coming for you, so what are you going to do about it?" Hm, yes, I am an audience member and hmm how am I going to apply this question to my own life, yes yes yes. BUT, I already get it, you know? I get facism is coming for me, and I am doing my best to curb it. I now just want to see jerks get hit in the face. I was ready to whoop and cheer, and instead I could only clap.