Monday, December 29, 2008

Amy’s Advent Commentary #4 – Simeon.

Hey everybody! Happy few days after Christmas!

My church actually didn’t have services on Christmas Eve, leaving me to join up with Tricia and Iain to attend a service in a shall not be named area in the Valley.

The service was less than inspiring in so many ways. It suffers from the malaise plaguing most churches these days, I imagine. Here’s the scripture, here’s the awful drama sketch about the scripture, here’s the carol about the scripture. Moving on to the next section. It was rote, it was standard (when it wasn’t awful, courtesy of the drama sketches. Like, even a children’s pageant of the Christmas story would’ve been fun. This was just badly written modern day vignettes performed by adults. Like, two guys are talking about how one of them just lost their job. Then he gets a call. He got a job! He’s gonna go tell everyone! Just like the shepherds told everyone when the angels told them about the Christ! Yeah, that bad.) It was killing time on what’s supposed to be a night of celebration.

But my church did have services yesterday, though it was 45 degrees in the church (they don’t have the money for central heat or air in such a big space), and sparsely attended.

But the text was on Simeon, never mind the fact that December 25th is over. Once again, this is not new for me, Simeon was one of the monologues I wrote for my Christmas collection last year. I should be giving props that they’re even mentioning Simeon, but I would’ve given them more props had they mentioned Anna the prophetess, who follows Simeon in the second chapter of Luke, and does essentially the same thing – declares that Jesus is the Christ. But nobody mentions Anna in the Christmas story, do they. Nope nope nope.

For those of us who stop reading the Christmas story once Jesus has been born, Simeon’s story is found in Luke 2: 21-35. Basically, Simeon’s been told by the Holy Spirit that he’s not gonna die until he sees the Christ. “Moved by the Spirit” he goes to the temple just as Mary and Joseph are presenting Jesus to the Lord (I THOUGHT that was code for circumcision. It's not, that happens at 8 days old. At 40days old, he's presented and dedicated. "Here's my boy! He's all yours!") He takes baby Jesus in his arms and praises God for being faithful, this is the Christ, now “dismiss your servant in peace.” And then tells Mary to essentially buckle up, your kid’s gonna cause waves, and it’s gonna hurt.

I actually dug Simeon more than I thought I would. I wrote him as a cranky person (maybe THAT’S why I related) who was old, exhausted by life and tired of people continually coming up to him, asking if they’re the Christ, is this great warrior the Christ, is this King the Christ, and Simeon has to say no, no, no.

Because you have to figure that people knew Simeon wouldn’t die until he saw the Christ. Luke knew it. Mary and Joseph marveled at it, instead of dismissing it as the rant of a crazy temple dweller. The word had gotten out about Simeon.

The people of Israel were expecting a king or a warrior to deliver them, not a baby. So who’s to say they weren’t continually shuffling people before Simeon to see if their guy was possibly the Christ?

So in the monologue, Simeon is talking about how tired he is, how cranky is he that the Holy Spirit gave him this revelation, but it’s actually a pain in the ass, and it’s been HOW long now and nothing and why did you do this to me Holy Spirit, this really sucks. Yes I believe in you, but this sucks.

And I’m tired too. It’s the end of the year, that’s always exhausting. This year has been so full of ups and downs, and if I’m honest, the ups have probably outnumbered the downs, and I’m not used to that equation, so I’m wasting energy waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I’m very close to finishing the next draft of Striped Tiger. I spent a lot of the Christmas holiday working on it. I was up at the housesitting house, with Ginger Puppy and Basil Diva Dog. They both had just come back from the beauty parlor, and looked very festive in their holiday handkerchiefs. It wasn’t until the second day that I noticed Ginger Puppy’s was Hanukah themed, which cracked me up. This explains why occasionally Basil Diva Dog beats up on her. KIDDING.

But yes, I’m tired of writing, my eyes itch, I think there’s a tumor growing on the right side of my brain, there’s a twitch under my left eye AND another one running under the left side of my butt. I’m not sick, whereas a lot of people left in Los Angeles appear to be under the weather, but the only thing I wanna do is sleep. I don’t even wanna watch movies, or read a book, because those both involve vision. I just wanna sleep, and I can’t because this is the only time of year where I have massive amounts of time TO write, and oh by the way, I’m not sleepy. I’ve discovered a new realm where I’m exhausted and not sleepy. Yay!

God has blessed me mightily with a faboo housesitting house, two lovable dogs (when a certain Diva isn’t trying to kill the other one) a recipe for shrimp scampi and the right combination of how to cook filets on the outdoor grill, and I’m grumpy.

God has blessed me mightily with a full time job with benefits, a film in the can that just got accepted into its first festival, a great start to a play that will most likely be produced next year, and I’m exhausted.

I’m such an ungrateful bitch. I’m not like Simeon, righteous and devout. I’m semi-devout, but not righteous, not really. It’s a wonder God doesn’t throw in the towel on me already.

And yet He doesn’t. And sometimes, that makes it worse, because I can’t handle the fact that He loves me, and continues to do so regardless of what I do.

I’m not depressed, people, I’m exhausted. I’m working on it. And I wonder, as I’m sure Simeon must have, when the Holy Spirit’s gonna show up and save the day. Simeon had to wait until nearly the end of his life. I’ll be so pissed if that’s the case here.

I’m hanging on, I am. With a twitching butt.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Amy’s Advent Commentary #3 – The Shepherds.

Well, there’s no way around this one. They talk about shepherds, and so did I in my Shepherd monologue. I named him Frank. Frank the Shepherd, and his buddies were Harry, Larry and Stewie. In Amyland, the shepherds are telling ghost stories to scare each other when the Angel of The Lord appears (Gabriel making a cameo appearance with his bad jokes again.) so they’re doubly freaked out.

I don’t know, this one’s pretty straightforward. An angel appears to you and tells you that something’s happened, yeah, you’re pretty much gonna drop everything and go check it out.

I’m trying to think of a modern day equivalent. Like, if an Angel Of The Lord showed up and said, um, um, there’s a golden burning bush on top of Runyon Canyon, go check it out because it’s a sign about something I’m gonna do, yeah, I’d probably say I’m sick at work and go check it out.

There’s no doubt about what it is, is the thing. The Angel appears, there is no shadow of a doubt that it’s an Angel of The Lord. But He doesn’t work in those obvious ways these days, does He.

Do you suppose when those Shepherds grew up to be like, 80, their kids would suffer silently at the kitchen table as good ole Grandpa told the story AGAIN of the night the Angel Of The Lord told them about a Savior being born in the town of Bethlehem? Yeah, yeah, Grandpa, we’ve heard this one already.

Well. SOMEBODY’S a Ms. Crankypants today, isn’t she.

I’m not really the type of person who gets into Joy so much, so celebrating Christmas is hard for me.

And of course some well meaning twits would say that’s your whole problem right there, Amy. You need to learn to experience Joy. Then you’ll understand God soooooooo much more. Everything will make soooooooo much more sense.

How, exactly, does one experience Joy? I’m serious. Anyone wanna give me some ideas in the comments?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Amy's Advent Commentary #2 – Mary And The Angel

Everyone loves them some Mary during Advent, don’t they. Ooooh, she’s an unmarried pregnant teenage chick who submitted herself to the will of God! How can we possibly relate!? Heh.

And just like last week, where everyone focuses on Zechariah so I focus on Elizabeth, this time around when everyone focuses on Mary, I focused on Gabriel’s part in the Christmas story for my Christmas monologue collection. Because honestly, enough is enough about Mary. No disrespect intended, but there’s been a million sermons, stories, and painfully earnest shorts and feature films about Mary. How many people stop to think about what it must’ve been like for Gabriel, delivering the message to Mary, huh?

Nobody thinks about things like that. Which is why I do.

I talked about the inspiration for Gabriel’s monologue here (so I guess I’ve written enough in the blog if I’m now officially quoting myself.) The monologue went over amazingly well in the Christmas Monologue show that my theater company did at the end of 2006, and convinced me that I should go on to do a series of monologues about the Christmas story from other peoples’ perspective.

But Gabriel was my favorite. (Second runner up was Eugene, the donkey that Mary sat on when they went to Bethlehem.) It was one of those nifty confluence of events where the right actress and the right director took the piece to a whole new brilliant level that I couldn’t have done on my own.

Basically, I imagined Gabriel as secretly wanting to be a comedian, but doesn’t understand that his jokes are really bad. (Despite the fact that Gabriel is thought of as a boy angel, I wrote it specifically for my actress, who did a whiz bang job of it anyway. I like to think of angels as being gender neutral, but whatever…)

So when Gabriel comes down to break the news to Mary that she’s gonna be pregnant with God’s kid without having sex, he opens with a joke:

Hiya Mary! Wanna hear a joke!? Okay, okay, check it out, God says "Whew! I just created a 24 hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth." So I say, "What’re you gonna do now?" And God says "I'm tired, let's just call it a day." HA! HA! HA HA!

Whoa, whoa, come back! I’m not gonna hurt ya!

Needless to say, Mary does not take this visitation well at all. And Gabriel is starting to panic, so he calls a sidebar with God. The way I wrote it, Gabriel stands off to the side, and stares up at the heavens. But my director gave Gabriel a cell phone to call God, which was much funnier.

Um, hello? God? Yeah, um, it’s not going so well. I dunno, I opened with a joke just like You said. No, I didn’t use that one, I thought...look, God, she’s really upset, You wanna take over? Please? People listen to You, ‘cause you’re, you know, YOU. I’m just an angel who...tells bad jokes. Okay, okay, I’m going.

(Gabriel comes back to Mary.)

Hey Mary? Why did Noah have to discipline the chickens on the Ark? Because they were using FOWL language! FOWL! Get it? HA HA HA HA!

It’s oddly comforting for me to imagine that angels quarrel with God like kids who want more allowance. I’m sure it’s not true. But it’s funny to think of them that way.

So Gabriel goes on with trying to explain to Mary that her son is actually going to grow up and be a really cool rebel dude who heals the sick, stands up to authority, and when he’s crucified in the Temple, the curtain’s gonna be torn in two, symbolizing that his sacrifice is enough to bring people into God’s presence, and they won’t need priests and la la la.

Mary has stopped listening at the phrase “Crucified in the Temple” and is freaking out again, prompting another cell phone sidebar with God.

God! God it’s NOT GOING WELL! Forget the chicken joke! Huh? Yeah, I told her about the crucifixion! Why not!? What’s the big deal, it’s not like He stays dead!

That got the biggest laugh of the whole piece, every single night. It may be one of my finest one liners ever.

In the sermon on Sunday, they focused on the obedience of Mary when Gabriel tells her the news. “I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered, May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1, vs. 38)

You know what? I don’t think Mary was that calm about it at all. No. I refuse to believe that an angel could beam itself into her room, and she’s all Groovykins Cool Hiya, Gabriel and all.

I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I’m not saying that Mary didn’t eventually say “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” I’m saying that it’s much more realistic to believe that the authors of the Gospel, whether it’s Luke, or the many scribes who came after him, did a judicious edit to concentrate on Mary’s good side, and eliminate the part where she screamed, threw things at the angel, and climbed the walls trying to get out, before finally giving up on the idea of escaping and listened to the angel, agreed to the plan, and became a bright shining example to the rest of us modern day dumbasses. Be like Mary. Be humble. Be obedient. Submit yourselves to the will of God without a single peep of dismay.

(I also think there was a moment or two when Joseph was in jail for seventeen years where he harbored lustful thoughts after a servant girl or something. History is written by the winners who want you to believe your heroes don’t struggle at all, and why they think THAT would be helpful for us as potential role models is beyond me. My heroes don’t struggle with doubt. The Bible says so. NOT.)

Gabriel’s monologue wrapped up with him saying this to Mary:

I know you’re confused, and scared and none of this makes sense right now, but it’s’s gonna be okay. Trust me. Nothing is impossible with God. There’s gonna be pain, and tears, and laughter, and your heart is going to break a thousand times, because things are going to be so awful and so beautiful all at once. But ultimately, everything is going to be so much better than you ever imagined.

Everything is going to be wonderful.

I still have hope in that. I really do.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Amy's Advent Commentary #1 - Zechariah

I always wondered when I was going to hit the point where I’d have studied the Bible enough that I’d officially know more about the Biblical history behind the text being preached upon than say, the average person sitting next to me in church (who, if I’m not mistaken was Mr. Rocker from the Communion entry earlier this year. AND it was Communion AGAIN on Sunday! It’s a sign! A sign of…something!)

I hit that point yesterday, and it may potentially continue through the monthlong series of advent sermons. Yesterday’s sermon was about Zechariah’s role in The Christmas story. Which I already know all about, because I researched it for a series of Christmas monologues I did last year. Let me just pull it out, I haven’t read it since an acting class read all of them a year ago. That was a fun night.

Ah yes, okay, here we go. Zechariah is a pivotal point in the birth of Jesus, but I decided I was gonna tell his story from his wife Elizabeth’s point of view, because, well, logically speaking, Zechariah can’t talk, so he can’t really deliver a monologue in a series of Christmas monologues.

Even yesterday, during the sermon, it was all about Zechariah, Zechariah, Zechariah. The dude can’t talk! Why don’t you try thinking about it from the woman’s point of view!? What do you think Elizabeth was going through? You know, the one who COULD talk?

Anyhow, so in the monologue, Elizabeth is talking to her nosy neighbor, Naomi, and explaining how it’s possible that Elizabeth’s pregnant when she’s over sixty years old, because Naomi’s been gossiping about it in the marketplace. And Elizabeth is telling Naomi the part where the Angel Of The Lord has appeared to Zechariah in the temple and saying that Elizabeth is going to get pregnant.

...Zechariah said the wrong thing to
the angel, which was, “How can I be sure.” To which the
angel replied, “Umm, because I’m an angel and I’ve got a
direct line to God. Now you will be silent and not able to
speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe
my words, which will come true at their proper time.” And so
here we are. I’m pregnant and Zachy can’t talk. God surely
is amazing, isn’t He?


Because if you ever happen to find yourself in the blessed presence
of an angel, you don’t ask “How CAN I be sure.” You ask
“How WILL this happen.” Not “How CAN.” “How WILL?” Because
if you’ve got a messenger of God Himself standing right in
front of you, GET SPECIFICS! You could get day and date of
delivery, for starters. Ask him what the deal is with the
morning sickness, and how to get rid of the swollen ankles,
and why is my eyesight going, and ALL that fun

Because, Naomi, when it comes to God’s plan, you don’t ask
How Can. Because the answer is always going to be the same.
“How can this happen?” “How can she be pregnant at 60 plus
years?” “How can Zechariah not speak?” The answer is
simply...because God says so. It’s not that you can’t
question God’s plan. But you don’t doubt it when He’s
telling it to you. Or else you find yourself a mute for nine
months! Ooooh, spooky!

We were talking in my Small Group the other night about God talking to us, always a fun fun NOT topic of mine. But if I’m honest, the last time I think God said anything to me was a few months ago, I don’t remember when, I don’t remember what I was doing, though I think it was probably me bitching and moaning to God about what could’ve been one of a billion things: boys, career, Pink Piggy, Roomie Heckle’s girlfriend staying with us for two months and three people sharing a bathroom just doesn’t work (she just left on Saturday. THANK YOU GOD.)

And in the middle of it, I get this thought, this sentence, and all it says is

Your story’s not over yet.

And while my Small Group oooooohed in appreciation upon the retelling, I distinctly remember my own response to it being something along the lines of

“Yeah, I know, but STILL!”

Which could possibly be a parallel between me and our boy Zechariah, couldn’t it. Zechariah says “How can.” Amy says, “Yeah, I know, but STILL.” Both responses aren’t meant to be disrespectful, but both are the wrong thing to say. Zechariah doubted God’s plan when God was telling it to him. I’m taking God’s plan for granted when He might be trying to tell it to me.

Uhoh. Can I still talk? La la la laaaaaa. Yes. Yes, I can talk. I just sang along to “Decode” from the Twilight soundtrack (I’m truly embarrassed to like that song.)

And I can still type. Some days I type more than I can talk. All fingers currently still working.

But I think God is telling me. He’s just not using words. He’s like every great writer, and using EVENTS as motivation, as evidence, as Look-at-what-I’m-doing-for-YOU. Isn’t it really cracked!? Isn’t it weird and warped and wonderful? Damn, did I just jinx it again? Heh.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My new favorite website

Who doesn't love an upside down dog? Nobody, I tell you, nobody!

Upside down dogs are the best things in the world, I'm telling ya!

You can't look at these dogs and not smile. You just can't.


Monday, November 24, 2008

There Is Always An Option C

When Roomie Jekyll and I watch Survivor (yes, we still watch that show, last week’s episode was AWESOME), and in between us trying to imitate the African tribal music yelped by a vigorously ethnic sounding voice (goes something like “ENNNNNNNG ENNNNNNNGGG AHHHHHHHHHH!”) Roomie Jekyll will ask rhetorical questions of the starving and desperate contestants on TV. “Why are they so stupid!?” is a common one. “Don’t they understand how dumb they look?” “How does he not know how annoying he is?” I continually point out to Roomie Jekyll that they’re in the Survivor Bubble, and it’s very easy to make judgments and personality calls from the safety of your couch, but it’s probably very different inside the Survivor Bubble of the game, where you don’t have a bird’s eye view of the situation.

I don’t have a Survivor Bubble, but I have been getting along very nicely on a Denial Bubble all my own. The Denial Bubble, contrary to the name, is actually an optimistic place to be. In this Bubble, we’ve finished the Pink Piggy film, we’ve submitted it to festivals, and we haven’t heard back if we’ve been accepted or not. So I’m free to occasionally puff up fantasies that we HAVE been accepted, and all the a, b, and c tangents that will naturally evolve from there, which culminate in us doing Striped Tiger, and another unnamed Menangerie film, as well as selling Purple Monkey to a major studio, and finally moving into a place of my own with a comfy chair.

I should’ve been doing a lot more work inside the Denial Bubble, though sometimes I’ll remember that I wrote a first draft of a brand new project for a class at the beginning of this year that I’ve since put away. And then I have to remind myself that I spent all of October on Polka Dotted Platypus, and I’ll most likely see the benefit of that endeavor next year. My short term memory really sucks inside the Denial Bubble. Who are you again? I know you bought me this drink and all, and I’m so embarrassed but, seriously, what was your name again? Didn’t you say you were an architect or something?

But no matter how much the Denial Bubble bounced along the dewy fields of Amy’s Fantasyland, I never forgot that we had submitted to Film Festival A, B, and C, at least for the first round.

And I also knew that the time was stretching pretty close to hear back from these festivals whether we got in or not. And last Friday, I had starting hearing blips and peeps from acquaintances and random strangers whose posts I stumbled over during my internet searches that this short got in, that film got a midnight screening.

And my Denial Bubble abruptly spouted leaks all over the place.

I had pretty much written off Film Festival A. That’s the one you’ve heard of, that’s the one my dad’s heard of, that’s the one every film submits to, regardless of whether the film is good or not. There was no way Pink Piggy was getting into Film Festival A. It’s political, we had no insider advocate, we had no stars in our cast. It wasn’t happening.

But I did hold unabashed hopes for Film Festival B. You probably have heard of Film Festival B, certainly if you live in L.A. Films get bought at Film Festival B. Film Festival B is respectable. They like first time filmmakers, that’s us. They take chances on different films, that’s us too. The festival programmer was posting on her blog a list of indy film clichés, then admitted her favorite film had two of them, just like our film does! (yes, we have a main character staring at herself in a mirror, and yes, there is some photo caressing going on.)

But all the evidence I was pulling off the internet was pointing to the fact that Film Festival B had started calling the lucky films over this past weekend. And no call for us.

I’m no stranger to rejection, HELL NO I’M NOT. Scripts, boys, jobs, yep, I could wallpaper my room with a thousand “nos”, as any writer could. So I was surprised to feel a sting in my heart as my Denial Bubble went POP. Come on, Amy, snap out of it. This is only the start of what will probably be a million nos for Pink Piggy. The least you can do is be a grownup about it. A thousand people can say no, it only takes one person to say yes.

I’ve been talking to God about clarity on a number of fronts. It seems pretty clear that He’s closing this door, this door, and this door on other avenues of my life. Usually, that would upset me. But now, I’m more interested in having Him lead me where He wants me to go. Okay, we’re not going down that road. Great, where to now? I’m ready Freddy! Vroom vroom let’s go! At a blazingly glacial pace.

But after a Saturday talk with God, I was surprised to feel a quicker sense of calm than normal. The inner peace, she don’t come easy to me. But I did feel like I gave a Symbolic Shrug of sorts and was somewhat okay with waiting to see what’s next, and somewhat okay with knowing that What’s Next probably wouldn’t show up for another five years.

When you get to the part of a Survivor episode where they have to kick somebody off, it usually boils down to let’s kick off Person A, or let’s kick off Person B. The smarter contestants are the one that can point to Person C, or Option C, which blindsides everybody and makes for an excellent Tribal Council with lots of snarling and yelling and bitter Last Words, because nobody saw Option C coming, not in a million years.

Today at work, the Pink Piggy crew told me that we got into Film Festival C.

Film Festival C! Option C! The one I totally forgot about! I couldn’t even remember the name of Film Festival C! I had to go look it up!

Now, you, Gentle Reader, have probably not heard of Film Festival C. It’s okay, my parents haven’t either. I didn’t really pay attention to it, I was focused on Film Festival B. (Which is of course why we got into Film Festival C.) I will probably have to explain about ten million times to everyone what it is.

But Film Festival C is a valid one. In the top ten of important U.S. independent film festivals, they tell me. Suddenly, we have merit. Suddenly, we have a resume. It will probably help our chances of getting into other festivals, they tell me.

Even better, they tell me we’re in the Narrative Competition category, as opposed to a showcase category. Do I think we’ll win? Not unless it’s in a rousing game of Rock Band, and I’m singing “Enter Sandman” with the director on guitar, a producer on bass and the costume designer on drums.

But that’s not important right now. Right now, my Denial Bubble is suddenly puffed full again, and will be until next year.

Does God really work like this? Was this really where He was leading me? It seems TOO perfect. I’m actually uncomfortable thinking His hand’s stirring this pot. I prefer to think that things Plinko balled their way into this arrangement on their own and God’s more concerned about my character and how I handle it.

So I’m handling it verrrrrrrrry slowly. ThankyouGodthankyou. At a blazingly glacial pace. ThankyouGodthankyou. One breath at a time. ThankyouGodthankyou.

And I’m back to working on the Purple Monkey outline.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Harvey Wants Me To Write About Him.

Normally I don’t take requests. Because then you get into weird situations where people are acting a specific way because they want you to write about them, or people get resentful because you didn’t write about them, or people get resentful because you DID write about them, but that's not what they said, that's not what they meant, blah blah blah.

But Harvey wants me to write about him, so I shall, but in the context of me. Because it is my blog, after all. Heh.

Because what Harvey doesn’t know is that he’s a signpost. I first met him when he was an actor in one of my plays, I distinctly remember revising his lines in my kitchen while they rehearsed other scenes in the living room. It was me and my script, him sitting next to me going over his lines that I hadn’t revised. We weren’t even talking to each other. He was deep in concentration on learning his lines, and I was deep in concentration observing him. It was there that I realized I really could tailor lines to a specific actor if I spent time with them and got to know how they existed. A basic lesson, sure, but it’s not often you’re going to have that chance, at least, not with features.

I tried to work with him whenever I could. He acted in my 2004 staged reading of ZigZagged Ostrich, where he channeled his inner Peter O’Toole and made an excellent prince.

He shifted into a writing career. I gave him notes on his script that went on to win the Nicholl. He gave me notes on my script that grew up to be Pink Piggy.

We’d get together for dinner and every now and then to catch up. He’d tell me all his problems, because I find the problems of good-looking guys endlessly fascinating (and I mean that in all sincerity.)

And then he winked out of existence. Didn’t hear from him for three years, until he showed up in the reception area of Unnamed TV Network, as one of the producers on a pitch my boss was hearing a few weeks ago.

It was so startling to see him. I had an inkling he’d be there, since his name is pretty unusual. But seeing him, and giving him a hug and trading emails and promises that we’d catch up, there’s so much to talk about, I was surprised at my inner reaction, that Harvey is a signpost.

Where was I in my life when it was me and him sitting at my kitchen table x years ago? And where am I now that our paths have crossed again? Have I done enough, have I accomplished enough? Am I far enough down the Path Of Eventual Success? He knew me when I was a nobody writer. And I’m STILL a nobody writer, but a nobody writer potentially on the cusp of something great (or the desert of failure.)

So we had dinner last week to catch up. I hear everything he’s been up to, he hears everything I’ve been up to. I can look at his life and think wow, he’s definitely on his way. But he can look at my life and think the same thing. Neither one of us would look at our own lives and think, “Yep, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.” It takes someone else other than yourself to point that out.

I hiked Runyon Canyon on Saturday, not realizing the air quality was so dismal until I got out of my car. But I was determined to brave the haze, the smoky smell, the few flakes of ash on my car (No, Mom, we’re all fine, please don’t freak.) I had brought my camera, I wanted to take a picture, kinda for Harvey, mostly for me, this is our signpost for our lives at this very moment.

And in my usual bumbling I Can’t Plan This Stuff way, I managed to hike up the stairs part and reach the plateau right as the sun was setting. My camera battery was dying, so I just stuck it towards the sun and ran off a few shots while I could. I didn’t think I was gonna get anything too great because of the smoky Mordor haze creeping in from the east, but when I uploaded the pics to the computer, I was once again stunned.

This is where I’m at right now. This is my signpost. Beautiful in its own twisted weird way. Hazy, probably unhealthy. And yet, I can’t look away from that sun. That’s the biggest sun I’ve ever taken a picture of. Is it lighting the world on fire? Is it gonna get choked out from the smoke? Is it a beginning? Is it an end?

I think it’s just there. Just there, in that signpost moment.

I love color in sunsets. I really really do. It’s one of the few girly things I’ll cop to.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It was a great day

We did the staged reading of Polka Dotted Platypus yesterday. This had been the sum total of all my writing efforts for the month of October, because I rewrote something like 60 percent of it in three weeks. I didn’t have time to show it to anyone, it was rewrite as fast as you can, keep going, keep going, no, it’s not good enough, not good enough, hurry up, we’ve already locked in the date for the reading. HURRY UP, your actors need at least a week to look over the script.

Any writer will tell you that when it’s just them and a computer and the voices in their heads, it’s never a good thing. The chorus of naysayers rise and fall, and sometimes seem to be kept only at bay by the alcoholic beverage of your choice. But since I was rewriting, I had to stay sober. Write drunk, rewrite sober. That’s the rule. At least, for me. ☺

So it was a bunch of Mountain Dew and Red Bull propelling me day after day after day for a whole month. The Saturday before I was supposed to email the script off to the actors, I actually had to stretch out on the bed and wait for the jitters and shudders of a caffeine seizure to die down. And then crawl back to the chair to keep going.

I was looking at this staged reading as a way to practice not freaking out. It was surely a stressful situation, my Friday night found me scouring the 99 cent stores and Target for sock puppet making materials, sending out reminder emails, grabbing food and booze for the reception, trying not to crawl through the computer and kill people as I kept getting email after email from this, that, and the other person saying they weren’t going make it on Sunday.

I decided to look up in my journals to the last staged reading I did, back in 2004, of the project we’ll call, um, er, ZigZagged Ostrich? Yes. ZigZagged Ostrich.

It was February of 2004, I had a cast of 14 (ohmyGOD, what was I THINKING?), and a bunch of things were going wrong. An actor had dropped out at the last minute, the theater was locked, the replacement actors were late because their cat got sick, another actress was battling laryngitis, miscommunications meant I had to run the Q&A session afterward by myself, and man the video camera, and my computer adapter had died, blah blah blah.

From the 2/21/04 entry:

I don't believe the day went well. Despite all the compliments, and it's not that I don't value them, because of course I do, but despite what everyone's saying, I don't have a great feeling about the play. (…) So it seems that if everyone thinks it's great, but I think it sucks, then it's probably just okay, but if I can ever get it to a point where I think it's great, then it probably is great. And I don't think (it’s) great. (…) I do feel just as confused now that’s everything's over as I did going in, and it's completely disheartening to me that all the work I put into it didn't pay off in more cohesive results.

ZigZagged Ostrich, with minor tweaking (I cut the cast down by 2), went on to be a big hit for the two theater companies that co-produced it. It got LA Weekly’s pick of the week award, it won a Goldstar Audience Award. Every now and then, somebody will mention how much fun that show was, and it was. It really really was.

Now we’re here, four years later, with Polka Dotted Platypus, and I think it sucks. Does anyone sense a pattern?

I think most insecurities stem from two sources:

1. YOU’RE A HACK. You’re in over your head, you’re a poseur, a fake, you may have a few people fooled, but the clock is ticking on your not terribly artful deception, and the curtain is about to drop, you, the emperor, are buck ass naked, and everyone has been talking behind your back about how you think you’re so great but we all know you’re a dunder headed moron, and we talk about you all the time, laugh at you and smile to your face and say you’re great.

2. YOU DON’T MATTER. You’re easy to ignore. You’re instantly forgettable, I’m sorry, what was your name again? You’ve kinda faded into the wood paneling there. I totally forgot to return your call, your email, your text, I got so BUSY with life, work, other people more interesting than you that I forgot all about you. I’m your mom, no, you can’t have a pony, a Barbie, a car, you can’t run and play in traffic, you can’t stay out late at night, I’m being a good parent, but it’s coming across like I don’t care what you want, because what you want doesn’t matter because you don’t matter, what I want matters more.

And 48 hours before the reading, trying desperately to create a Bear, Rabbit and Duck puppet from some cheap socks, foam board, and a needle and thread (glue doesn’t work on fabric), as yet another email, another text comes through from another person saying they can’t make my reading, I’m really struggling not to take these scissors and slit my wrists (which wouldn’t have worked anyway, they were kid proof scissors.)

But then, Saturday happened. Saturday I had whatever actors I could gather together at whatever times they could come over to my house to rehearse. My knowledge of directing consists of one thing Never tell an actor “Say the line like this.” So I’m babbling about how this actor should channel Betty White in Golden Girls, this other actor should remember what it’s like when your best friend is dating someone awful, but you have to lie when they ask you what you think of them, and you know how when a kid runs away from their mom in the mall and when they’re finally back together she wants to kill him, but can’t, and oh by the way, let me know if this isn’t making sense to you.

The actors are sitting on my couch in the living room, nodding their heads. They think you’re a hack. But then they open the scripts and start rehearsing.

And they’re great. They’re better than great, they’re drop dead hilarious. They’re cracking each other up, it’s a struggle for them to stay in character, it’s a struggle for me not to keep laughing because everything they’re doing is hilarious.

And I start to think, hey, maybe this script doesn’t suck after all.

On Sunday, I have the whole cast together two hours before we’re supposed to do the actual reading. I haven’t yet rehearsed with three of them. Three out of the 10 have never worked with the others before. I’ve never worked with one of the 10 before, and he’s the one that has to work with my misbegotten sock puppets (the Bear puppet has no ears, I ran out of time. He looks like a snake after a vicious mud wrestling round.)

We run through as many scenes as we can, and it’s still great. It’s awesome, everyone clicks, regardless of whether they’ve worked together before. The actor with the puppets is not just fine, he’s HILARIOUS. Doesn’t bat an eye when I show him the sock puppets, knows exactly how you’re supposed to work a sock puppet, even busts out with three different dialects for the three puppets, which has us all dying and laughing at the same time. My face is starting to hurt from laughing so much, and we haven’t even started the show.

Finally we have to get this thing going, so I shoo them all backstage, and we open the lobby doors.

And it’s a full house. A pretty full house. For every person who said they weren’t coming, for every person who never bothered to respond, there’s someone from all the different walks of my life who IS there. People I haven’t seen in days, months, YEARS. I’m overwhelmed, it’s a theater full of people who care. Who think I DO matter. Fuck everyone else who didn’t show. You missed a great day.

Because the reading KILLED. It’s very rare that you’re in a theater and you can feel a palpable energy, a tidal wave of goodwill, coming from a cast who bounce off each other, force each other to up their game, and have it swirl around the room, catching the audience up in the playful insanity of the story, and reflect it back to the cast in the form of belly laughs, cheers, even a few audible not sarcastic “awwwwwws” when the story turned sweetly sentimental. (there’s a dog in the story. Everyone loves dogs.)

I didn’t have the video camera to tape the performance (Cue the anguish wails from my parents in Alabama) because I honestly couldn’t handle one more thing, and I am about 99 percent sure that if the camera had been running, it wouldn’t have been as great as it was. All I have is a picture of me and the cast that we took two seconds before we opened the lobby doors, and the program, in which I thank most every single dog I’ve ever met.

After the show, we do a Q&A session, and I get helpful comments, stupid comments, all of which I was prepared for. And so many people told me how much fun it was, and this time I believe them. I BELIEVE THEM. This show IS fun. This script IS fun. It’s not perfect, no, no, there’s still rewriting and tweaking to do. But this reading today, with this cast, and this audience, was an absolute blast.

I am NOT a hack. I DO matter.

And when everyone went home, when I packed up the thousands bottled waters that nobody drank, and my little sock puppets that everyone thought were cute, even though the actor mangled the Rabbit Puppet and hilariously called it a “wardrobe malfunction.” When I drove home, parked the car, and got out, I saw the sky. It was cloudy and lit from the lights of the city. And I stared at the clouds, closed my eyes, and muttered over and over again with every breath I took:


It was a great day. A truly truly great day.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sometimes you just gotta say "What the f?! Make your move."

Like my niece Bug here. She went as a Rocker Chick for half of Halloween. (the other half was Pocahontas.)

That's what I'm feeling like saying to God these days. "What the f?! Make your move."

We’re going OT at church, studying the life of Joseph. One of those classic tales that’re scrubbed squeaky clean for you as kids, and then you get the real version when you’re older.

Joseph’s story gets so suffocatingly earnest, because Joseph doesn’t do anything wrong. Sure, maybe he starts off as either naïve or a snotty brat as a kid, but as soon as he’s sold into Potiphar’s service, he’s blameless for practically the rest of his life (his tricks on his brothers later notwithstanding.)

Joseph’s tempted by Potiphar’s wife, but you never get the sense, no matter how the story’s told to you, that it was the least bit hard for Joseph to say no. Half the time it’s because Potiphar’s wife is illustrated as so comically evil, anyone would turn her down.

But I think this is why I prefer David’s story. Because he did give in. He did bad, he was punished, destroyed, still redeemed. I need my heroes to be flawed in order to identify with them.

I need to know they struggled. I need to know it was f’ing difficult for them. I need to know it hurt. You know Jesus hurt. You know David was destroyed when he realized the magnitude of what his actions reaped. And Joseph...well Joseph’s Joseph. Standing like an obnoxious superhero beacon of purity No thank you, evil Potiphar’s wife! I run my master’s house, and the staff and turn you down and leap buildings in a single bound!

Even when he’s thrown in jail, you don’t get a sense of inner turmoil. You get “The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

But very technically, the Lord’s with all of us, but I still struggle.

I had a conversation with some of the girls in my small group a few weeks back, and I raised the point that it’s only in the modern romantic arena where apathy counts as obedience to God. Sigh.

My world feels strangely dull these days. No temptations anywhere. The struggle is the struggle against numbness. The hilarious part is that I’m busy as ever. This is either the calm before a huge storm of potential success, or it’s the calm before a desert of failure.

Which is why I find myself cocking my chin at God and saying “What the F? Make your move.”

Which means I’ve doomed myself. Tonight, I’m going to get in a car wreck and lose both my hands so I’ll have to get one of those voice to type things, or peck the keyboard with my nose or something. Great.

Monday, October 27, 2008

They Can’t All Be Winners

I try, people, I really do. Call myself Amy The Writer, and at the very least of what I should be doing is coming up with witty thoughtful posts about God, me, my daily devotionals, and how God speaks to me in fabulous glorious ways, and every entry should just positively dripping with insight that would make a reader smack their head and go “Eureka! She said it, and so now I understand it!”

But instead, I’m gonna talk about Georgia the dog and the Mission Hills corn maze.

(in all honesty, I’m working like a madman on a rewrite of a play I’m doing a staged reading of in two weeks. All fabulous insight is currently being channeled into writing about Munchkins and blind devotion in worship. It makes sense in context, I promise.)

Here’s Miss Georgia. She belongs to Stella and Wella, and this is the first they’re hearing about this, as they were away this weekend volunteering at the brain tumor camp that I helped out with last year. Ooooooooh, I can't WAIT for that email! This is what you get, Stella and Wella! You promised me we were gonna go drinking, and then you up and leave for a brain tumor camp! Get ready for a story about what your DOG did!

They’re neighbors with Norman and Nellie, so they’re watching Georgia for the weekend. And I had to be in Norman’s living room at the unfortunate hour of 9am on a Saturday morning, so you know I’m looking for any distraction other than the nonprofit board meeting at hand.

Georgia may not look it, but she’s something like 13 years old, which means she’s practically dead in dog years. She’s obviously cute and adorable, but also, as Norman pointed out,subtle and evil. (Okay fine, Norman just said she was subtle and passive aggressive. I added the evil part.) She’s like the Grandma who beats Sylvester with an umbrella in the Loony Tunes cartoon, then when the policeman turns around, instantly assumes the Innocent Grandma act, whistling, and rocking back and forth, why no, I did NOT just do anything. Except in Georgia’s case, it’s, I’m gonna hang out right by your feet and you’re gonna think I’m innocent, and the second one of the other dogs comes up, I’m gonna turn into a snarling freakazoid and attack the other dog for daring to enter my space.

Georgia is also the only dog I’ve ever seen who literally shook herself off a chair. She was sitting on the chair next to me, she decided to do one of those full body shakes that all dogs do. But the cushion slipped underneath her, and she saves herself by leaping into thin air. And I caught her. I caught the evil passive aggressive almost dead in dog years dog.

She has bad breath too. And one bottom tooth that sticks out of her mouth at all times, like a saber tooth tiger. But still is cute.

On Sunday, I went with a group of friends to the Forneris Farms corn maze in Mission Hills. This is the first time I’ve ever done something like this, and you would think a farm with a corn maze, tractor rides, a farmer’s market and kettle corn would be in a cute little remote area, maybe by a lake or something. Nope, it’s smack in the middle of Mission Hills, in between a high school and a cemetery.

The maze was rated E for Easy, but I and my group are dum dum chuckleheads, and got lost plenty of times. Yeah, they all laughed at me for eating my roasted corn on the cob before we got in the maze, they laughed as I double fisted my bottles of water. But that corn is DRY, man. Walking among row after row after row of tall tall corn stalks dehydrates you just by looking at them. I had to keep hydrated so I could mock up Children Of The Corn pictures with Maxine.

And yeah, there’s probably a metaphor there about how wandering around in a corn maze is like Moses and the Israelites wandering around the dessert for 40 years (we were in there for 40 minutes.) And how you shouldn’t just blindly follow the person in front of you (who was Nadine), but maybe look down at the map (or up at God) and stop and take stock of your life, I mean, where you think you are on the map. But that metaphor is for another time.

I did get us through the Democrat donkey legs. Yeah, the part where there’s only one way to go, I ROCKED that part. Heh.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sooooooooo tired.

Worked all day yesterday on a short I wrote. They're still going for two more days, while I go back to my job. They're much better people than I am.

I'm so tired I haven't even had a chance to acknowledge that my housesitting gig is over, and I don't have to walk dogs twice a day.

Sooooooooo tired.

More coherent post later this week. Maybe.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tummy Rubs For Everyone

My monthly prayer group meeting was last night, and in between prayers for the nation (because some members think we’re heading towards the End Times, and you all would’ve been so proud of me, I didn’t say a THING. Not even that my Kundalini Yoga instructor thought we were in the End Times based on a stray swarm of locusts report, and that was back in 2002), and in between prayers for famous people to not be afraid of living like Christians (one of them actually prayed for Bono to be MORE obvious in living like a Christian, and he’s a fairly big faith-on-his-sleeve guy) we prayed for joy for me.

I didn’t ask for those prayers. I don’t generally ask for anything for me in my monthly or weekly prayer groups. I’m not a big believer in making a laundry list of Stuff for AMY, and it’s hard to say that in these situations when everyone else is asking for Stuff, or else you make them feel bad. I’m all about praying for other people, sure, why not, not necessarily stuff, but for those lovely intangibles like patience, peace, discernment, la la la.

But no, I’m not praying for Pink Piggy to get into Sundance, or Slamdance, or whatever festival it’s being submitted to. Pink Piggy is going to go where it goes, and it’s going to get there regardless of what prayers are or are not offered. It’s not that I don’t have faith in God. And it’s not that I don’t have faith in the film. But I refuse to believe that a film gets into a festival because enough people prayed for it to happen. Because that smells suspiciously like God Is Your Personal Genie In A Bottle, or If Enough People Clap Their Hands, Tinkerbell LIVES. Sorry, Pink Piggy Producers.

Other people in the group were praying for their film to do well in whatever festival it was going to, and that the right people in the form of managers and agents and buyers would be there to see their film and jump start their career. So they all prayed for that, and I prayed instead that the person would get miles and miles of patience no matter what the outcome.

Last month and last night, despite my No Stuff Rule, the group prays for Joy For Amy. It’s an intangible, I guess I’ll let it slide. It didn’t necessarily work (because they didn’t mean it, HA!) I’ve been in a funk for awhile now, and it’s exacerbated by literally being displaced by this housesitting gig. Fifi and Winston have to be walked twice a day, and they take FOREVER to complete one loop around the block, which gives me a lot of time to talk to God about why do I feel so bummed out so much of the time (one of the group members last night prayed that I would be mindful of any symptoms that might present themselves as low grade depression.)

I’m working on three things right now. Striped Tiger, Purple Monkey (three years and still going), and Polka Dotted Platypus. There is pressure the likes of which I’ve not experienced before, which must mean I’m on my way to being a professional writer, ho ho ho.

There’s enormous expectations for whatever I churn out next to be great. Great like my last script (which got produced) was, like my last play was (which was a commercial success and got nifty reviews.) It’s not just the pressure I put on myself, it’s the unconscious pressure from other people. There’s also a time crunch going on. Striped Tiger has to be ready by the time we anticipate Pink Piggy to make a splash at the film festivals. Polka Dotted Platypus has to be ready for its staged reading next month, and it’d better be great, because we’re gonna produce it next year. Purple Monkey was supposed to be ready a year and a half ago, and it’s only a matter of time before someone else thinks of its big hook, blah blah blah.

I’m not one of these writers who don’t like to write. I don’t understand those people, frankly. I don’t mind writing, the clickety clack of the keys is the sound of my brain waves buzzing, if I can make myself laugh with my jokes, it’s awesome.

But these days, my writing is tempered with this undercurrent of not good enough, not good enough, not good enough. You can do better, you can do better, you can do better. You’ve done better before, do better now, now, now, now.

My jokes aren’t funny enough. My plots aren’t logical enough. My characters aren’t consistent to their motivations (when they have motivations.)

Do you guys know what the very best line of dialogue is? It’s the first line of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The beginning of the Baby Herman cartoon, where Baby Herman’s mom says to Baby Herman:

Mommy's going to the beauty parlor, darling. But I'm leaving you with your favorite friend, Roger. He's going to take very, very good care of you... (voice turns ominous)...cause if he doesn't, he's going back to the science lab!

That’s brilliant on so many levels. It explains not only what the cartoon is gonna be about, but the stakes, why a babysitter is a rabbit, and why a rabbit can talk. And the whole damn thing is funny as hell.

That’s the standard I hold myself to. The standard I’m not hitting lately.

It’s the pressure, I know it. But I don’t know how to make it go away, because time is running out. I’m not blocked, I’m writing, just a steady stream of blegh.

How to make Blegh into Brilliant when I’m Bummed. Right.

At least the dogs are better. Fifi and I are best buddies now. She sleeps on the bed with me at night (Winston does his own thing 24/7.) Fifi is seriously adorable, she makes writing hard because she sits by my feet and looks up at me with adorable eyes.

She wants me to give her Tummy Rubs all the time (Blogger won't let me rotate the picture the right way.) She’ll be running, she’ll look back to see how close you are, and then when you’re almost on top of her, she’ll drop to Tummy Rub position, complete with Modesty Tail. Funniest damn thing I’ve seen in awhile. Funnier than anything I’m writing, ho ho ho.

Joy is a Tummy Rub. Maybe that’s what I need. A Tummy Rub. Would rather have a Shoulder Massage, all things considered.

Monday, October 06, 2008

So it's new, don't freak out about it.

Say hello to the new dogs I'm dogsitting. This is Fifi. I hope I'm not giving anything away here by saying she's a touch neurotic. What, is it the ears? The ears? The fact I'm sitting on a table next to a candelabra and crystal vase and therefore I look like a women's accessory to her purse? Is THAT it?

Fifi's sibling is Winston, The Elder Statesman. And when I say Elder, I mean 14 or so. I'm terrified that he's gonna die on me, since this gig is two weeks long, and my first time dogsitting for these critters, because that would be my luck.

There's always a period of adjustment when dealing with any new element. Fifi and Winston have decided to deal by pouting and otherwise ignoring me. I don't think they understand that they're stuck with me for two weeks.

And then I have to remind myself that the first few times I dogsat for Basil Diva Dog, he was none too thrilled to have me around either. Matter of fact, he only really warmed up to me after the one two shock of moving to a new place, and the onset of Ginger Puppy into his life, wrecking the furniture and taking up all the attention.

So yes, it is a little bizarre to wander through this new house, and not have the dogs follow me from room to room as Basil and Ginger Puppy do. But it's just a period of adjustment, right? Right?

I got an email from My Mother, The Phone Harpy, Whom I Love Very Very Much, wishing me Happy L.A. Anniversary. The first few years I was out here, she and My Dad, The Great Stoic Wonder, would send me cards in the mail, marking the day I moved out to L.A. The cards would always say “You can move back whenever you want.” But I think they’re starting to get the idea that I’m staying out here.

But you can make somewhat of a nifty metaphor – me moving to L.A., and me in a new housesitting house with new housesitting dogs. So while Winston snoozed on a couch, and Fifi pouted in the closet, I decided to go look up in my journal to see what I had to say about moving out to L.A. X years ago (no, I’m not saying how many.)

I’ve journaled at least a page a day ever day since I was 16 (there may be a few lost days when I was on benders in college, but no big deal.) I have my entire college experienced documented. I have every single day I ever worked for the Big Theme Park Corporation documented. Every crappy date I’ve ever been on, every great date I’ve ever been on, every time my heart’s been broken, it’s all written down in my journals (and occasionally on my computer when a lot of stuff happened that day.)

First off, My Mother The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much is mistaken on the date of the anniversary. She put me on a plane on October 2, not 5. Quelle horror! I am not mistaken on anniversary dates!

Gack, I’m getting anxious just re-reading the journal entries. Mom loves to tell the story of how she put me on a plane to L.A. with a one-way ticket, two suitcases and a computer. What she probably doesn’t remember is that we ran into friends of hers at the airport (My mother knows everyone in town. We can’t go anywhere, the grocery store, the airport, the gas station, without her running into someone she knows.) Mom’s friends were off to visit their daughter in Cancun, and very nicely helped me carry my stuff to my connecting flight when we landed in Memphis.

From the journal entry: “Lots of luck” they said. Everyone seems to say that. The guy sitting next to me on the plane to L.A. says it. Lots of luck. As if going to L.A. is some impossible dream, and I’ll need a lucky rabbit foot while I’m at it...

...and once I woke up as we were about to descend, I saw the brown haze covering, the large large, larger than anything I could possibly imagine city, and I started to freak internally. Shit, what’ve I done? How could I possibly get to know my way around here? (...) It’s like I’ve hit this dead end, and I can only go upwards towards success, or down towards despair and ruin, but I can’t turn around and go back.

You guys know how I hate flying back to L.A. and not have somebody there to pick me up? I think it all stems from this very first flight into L.A. I came in on a Wednesday, the guys I was going to crash with had fed-exed me a set of keys to their place, as they were both working and couldn’t come get me. (I also needed a rental car until I could buy one later.)

So it’s me, stepping off a plane with my two suitcases, one computer, and navigating my way to some car rental place and getting a tiny blue rental car that I swore was made of plastic, and figuring out how to use the 405 to the 101, and then finding the place where I ended up staying for four months or so.

I was so scared. I was scared, because I was alone. My best friends had declined to make the trip out with me. Almost like they were using me as a guinea pig, “Let Amy go first and figure out how to live out there, then we’ll follow her and she can tell us everything.”

Some people dig change. Some people hate it. I’m one of those types that are initially apprehensive about it, but recognize that it’s for the best, and yes, I will get used to it, so I kinda grit my teeth and tiptoe through it.

So I found the place where I was gonna be staying, and tiptoed through it. I was gonna be sleeping on a couch. Using a milk crate as a desk for my computer, and the floor as a chair, because there was no kitchen table or chairs, because these were guys I was living with, and they ate all their meals on the couch (my bed) in front of the TV.

From the journal entry: I call Mom, tell her I’m O.K. and what I’m looking at. She says it’s okay if I find a place of my own.

Just like I’m tiptoeing through Fifi and Winston’s place. Obviously much nicer than a two bedroom in Valley Village with two guys. But it’s new to me, and I don’t know where things are, and Fifi’s pouting in the closet, and Winston looks like he’s got arthritis, and there’s so many windows! I feel exposed!

My circle of college acquaintances helped me in so many ways. They let me crash on their couch, they gave me job leads, they took me to movies and bars. But they were acquaintances, not best friends, and so I spent more than a few months scared out of my mind and not really being able to confide in anyone. It all worked itself out, eventually, just like I’m sure Fifi’s going to come out of the closet eventually, and I’ll be able to find a washcloth for my face, and figure out what I can cook on the grill outside.

From the journal entry: How am I gonna get through this? You have to. There is no other option.

Sounds pretty harsh now. But it worked, didn’t it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Invisible Knives In My Calves

Courtesy of the sub at my Saturday morning Step 2 class.

Man it's hard to walk.

I've had a lovely time reading michelle's blog. She went to New Orleans. I'm always a sucker for a New Orleans story.

I've been attempting to write a post about my conflicting thoughts on the concept of inerrancy of Scripture, and how I don't know if I agree with the statement "the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God", because I feel like I haven't been attacked by my fellow bretheren in awhile, ho ho ho.

But it requires a little more research on my part, so to attempt to meet my Monday post quota, here's my current theme song, sung to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me."

Jesus loves me, even though
I'm a bitch and yes I know
Try to be like Christ all day
it rarely works, but still I say

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
you all can go to hell.
(I'll see you there as well.)


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Weirdest Part Of The Day

Roomie Jekyll and I went to see the latest Troubadour Theatre Company. offering, “As U2 Like it” last week. If you’ve never seen the Troubies, they are awesome, they cross Shakespeare plays with popular music to create things like “The Comedy of Aerosmith.” or “Much A Doobie About Nothing” or my personal favorites, “A Midsummer Saturday Night Fever Dream” and “Romeo Hall and Juliet Oates.”

One of the mainstays of a Troubie show is that they will stop the show for any latecomers to sing their twist on Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” changing it to “You’re So Late” to spotlight the offending patrons. During this performance, they actually had to do it twice, for two separate groups, and at the end of the second time, the lead actor/artistic director shouted “Lock the doors!” and we all laughed.

And that’s what I felt like leading up to my second blood drive of the year for my church, which happened yesterday. Lock the doors! We were shooting for 33 signups, but partly due to the interview I did in front of the congregation with a lovely woman who needed three blood transfusions while giving birth, and partly due to me mentioning the Metrolink crash which wiped out local blood supplies, we ended up with 53 signups.

Lock the doors!

Red Cross was stoked at our signup rate, but couldn’t spare another Bloodmobile, so I was looking at 53 people, 1 Bloodmobile, 3 beds, 2 interview rooms, which all equals veeeeeeeeeery long waiting times. Last time, people waited up to 20 minutes before the Bloodmobile would take them on, and that was with 30 people. Nobody should have to wait to get stuck with a needle, folks. Nobody.

So I was trying not to panic. A fair percentage of people that signed up weren’t from the church, they found us online from the Red Cross site. So I send emails to everyone, explaining there might be waiting times, bring a book, I’ll buy doughnuts, we’ll have fun.

Stay with me, we’re sidestepping:

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 5:30am, because I’m a freak, and decided to walk Basil Diva Dog and Ginger Puppy. They hate other dogs and there certainly wouldn’t be other dogs at that hour. So off we go in the dark (it gets light around 6am) to the Greek Theater. This is my prayer time with God, and we were talking about my hopes for the blood drive, and please order things so nobody has to wait too long, and everything else going in my life.

We reach the halfway point of the walk, turning back around to head home. On Vermont Blvd heading south past pretty big mansions and rolling lawns. Basil Diva Dog is lagging, because he’s getting on in years (I have my suspicions he might be going deaf too), and Ginger Puppy is trying my patience because she has to stop and sniff everything every few seconds. It’s grey light, not dark, not light, and for some reason, I turn around and look.

There’s a coyote pack behind us.

When we see coyotes on our early morning walks, it’s usually just one (whenever anybody sees a coyote in L.A. their first thought is always “what a strange looking dog”) and the coyote usually slinks away, tail between its legs.

This is a pack of three, maybe four. They’ve come down a lush green lawn, they’re pointed towards us.


As I spot them, they stop moving. I hurry the dogs along, hoping that the coyotes are headed somewhere else. I look back a second time, they’re following us.

Again, another sidestep:

One of the very few Southern things I will cop to in my life is that I did indeed grow up across the street from a cow pasture. (It’s subsequently been turned into million dollar homes.) I did occasionally play in the cowfield, there was a lone tree I liked to climb, we even flew kites there sometimes. And one of the things you learned very quickly about cows (besides the fact they’re really not attractive to look at) is that they would come towards you if you turned your back on them. I don’t think they would ever try to charge you, I don’t know what they had in their little cow mind Red light! Green light! But all you had to do was turn back towards them, maybe even advance a bit, and they’d scatter.

I don’t think a coyote pack is the same way, nor do I want to find out.

Meanwhile, Ginger Puppy has noticed them, and wants to charge, lunging in her harness. Oddly enough, she’s not barking, maybe she knows we shouldn’t be messing with them. Basil Diva Dog has not noticed, maybe his sniffer isn’t working either.

And the thoughts running through my brain are I cannot be attacked by a coyote pack today, I have a blood drive to run. I have no time to go to a hospital and get a rabies shot, I have a blood drive to run. I can’t even GET blood at the blood drive I have to run, we’re overbooked. This is not happening today.

So I turn around and shout “GET! GET! GET!” I have no stick to throw, both hands have leashes of housesitting dogs in them. I cannot throw a Ginger Puppy at them, that would be bad (and she weighs something like 40 pounds and hates being picked up.)

The shouting doesn’t make them scatter, but it does freeze them in their tracks. I continue to hurry the dogs along, look behind us, and they’re gone. And a steady stream of cars come up Vermont to the country club (there’s a golf course), so even if there HAD been a dust up, people would’ve stopped to help.

So after successfully getting the dogs home and vowing not to walk in the dark ever again, handling an overbooked Blood Drive seems like no problem at all.

Not even when the first person that meets the Bloodmobile is a heavy lidded drunk guy who wants to give blood “But I’ve been drinking, that’s not a problem, is it” who swears he’s a registered hematologist.

Not even when people have to start waiting at 10:30am.

Not even when more than a few people can’t wait any longer and head to church.

Not even when the Red Cross has provided me with an utterly humorless volunteer who has a very precise way of manning the check in desk. I swear, she lack the socialization gene. She’s more anti-social than me.

Not even when there’s a lull twice during the day, because the online people have not only heeded my warning about the waiting time, they’ve decided not to show up at all. So ultimately, we don’t have 53 people showing, we have something like 36 (I’m still waiting for final numbers from the Red Cross.)

Because the lull means that I can fill the gap with me and my blood. I march onto the bloodmobile into the interview room, they test my blood and BOO YAH! 13.5 in the hemoglobin machine o’ death! I BEAT you, hemoglobin machine o’ death!

The nurse seems to think my veins are too small, “Have you ever given blood before?!”


I say yes I have, I’ve been bounced at every step, low iron, tissue clot in the needle, bruises on the arm, but none of that is happening today, because I did not get attacked by a coyote pack and I am running a blood drive for reasons I’m still not entirely sure about so FIND A DAMN VEIN!

So she pokes and prods and eventually finds one she can deal with, and sticks the needle in. Since I’m the only one on the bloodmobile, the nurses are chatting away about which is the better Video Of All Time: “Thriller” or “November Rain.” The bag fills up, they take the needle out, and they tell me to lift my arm. Then Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” comes on the radio, and the charge nurse says, “Okay! Let’s all start headbanging now” So for two seconds, the nurses do (I’m so not making this up) and I thrash my arms since I’m laying down and can’t move my head, and the charge nurse says “No, not you, you’ve just donated” and the headbanging party comes to a halt.

Yeah, that was probably the weirdest part of my day.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Very long mopey blog ahead (but hopefully will be the last mopey blog ever)

Warning: the following blog entry may be very goopy and self indulgent. I’m working through a moment here, people. With any luck, it’ll be the last time we all do this. And it’s very long.

I’m back at the housesitting house again, this time for a week while Ginger Puppy and Basil Diva Dog’s Daddies are off on their honeymoon. (Yay California, where daddies can do that.)

And since the ceremony was here at the housesitting house, both Ginger Puppy and Basil Diva Dog got baths for the occasion, so they smell pretty and no fleas anywhere, which makes them much nicer to deal with. Just look at the coquettish pose that Ginger Puppy strikes for the camera. You know she’s thinking, yeah, check it. I’m AWESOME, I am.

I know the blog entries have been on the mopey side, lately. I know this, I do. They can’t be fun to read.

So I decided to fix things my own way. Which currently involves tequila. It’s Patron, but it’s not Silver, it’s Patron Orange. They had ordered a bunch of Patron for the ceremony, but the guests are no dummies, and given the choice between Patron Silver and Patron Orange, everyone went for the Silver, so there’s a buttload of Patron Orange for me to swim my way through, except, well, what can you with Patron Orange? Everything’s so complicated to make with it, when all a girl wants is a simple margarita.

So I made one. A Patron Orange Margarita. It’s not the greatest. I wouldn’t make it for anyone else. But it’s doing its job. Which is to make me contemplatey, instead of mopey.

I think this will be the last time I talk about this. Not that it won’t still be an issue in my life, I will forever think that I’m God’s punching bag on this, but this will be the last time I talk about it here, in these blog entries.

Ever since things starting going right with every single other aspect of my life besides my heart, I haven’t really felt like I’m connecting to God. Yeah, it’s always been an issue, but I’d hate to think that I only feel near to Him when things are drop dead awful.

I think I came close in Blink And You’ll Miss It moments today. It was a long day at church for me. I got there super early because I’m orchestrating another Blood Drive, the second one this year for my church. I haven’t talked about it on the blog, because there weren’t any issues for me. I knew it wouldn’t be hard to get another one started, I knew it wouldn’t be hard to get people to sign up. Today during the service I interviewed a lovely member of our congregation about the time she needed three blood transfusions while giving birth, and I didn’t freak out that I was conducting a interview in front of 300 people. I just did it. Just like I knew I’d get sign ups. I’m already over 40 sign ups, when our goal was 33, and we’ve still got a week to go.

But because I was part of the service, I had to sit in the second row, close to the front. So no people to look at to split my focus. Just me, singing the songs when they came up. And we were singing one of my favorites, a really simple yet lovely one by Richard Swift, called “As I Go.” You can listen to it here

(The way the church band plays it is a lot more rockin’ though, a lot of drums and guitar.)

Somewhere, in the middle of this part, I think I felt a tiny spark of connection.

Everywhere I go,
Every page I turn,
I see your tender heart
I cannot earn your love
I cannot earn your love
You love me just the same

Halleju, I need to sing with all I have:
Halleju, I need to sing

If I falter, if I fade
You will hold me, still so close
And I need you, my good father,
To be with me, as I go.

As I go.

And once I get a tiny blip, I’m all on it like HEY! WHERE YA BEEN!? Which instantly chases it away, like, like, like a guy. Sigh.

My church did another one of their Relationship Series Talks, which I hung around after the service for. You could submit your questions anonymously and they tailored their talk around them.

And apparently, I do not have the problems the rest of the single people in this congregation have. Because all their questions were about how do I let this person know I like them? How do I know that the person I’m dating is the one I’m supposed to marry? What if I’m unequally yoked by dating a non-believer?

Nobody asked the question I’ve been waiting all my life to meet the one I thought You were preparing for me, but we’re hitting double digits on the waiting period, and I’m losing all hope that me meeting someone is in Your plan, but why do I have this ache that I think You put in me if You’re not planning on filling it? I don’t wanna be a missionary in Africa, by the way.

So I guess I’m the only one with that problem, then. Great.

I can’t say the talk was a complete loss, though. I came out of it with a clarity I hadn’t had before, that um, you’re not gonna meet your Future Husband in this church. I’m out of step with the majority of the congregation. It’s not bad, it doesn’t mean I have to look for a new church. It just means, I dunno, that I can stop looking at that one guy, and that other guy, and whatever.

Pastor Bernard did address the guys at one point to say (paraphrasing here), “You know, we think a lot of you guys are bozos because we see so many really great girls here that you all aren’t asking out.” To which every single girl, including myself, instantly thought, does he mean ME!?!?!

Nah, Pastor Bernard doesn’t mean me. He knows me pretty well, I’m too cranky, too cynical, too cussy, I don’t go on mission trips to Kenya, I take up less showy causes like blood drives, I’m too much of a loner, and I’m probably too old to be considered a viable romantic possibility at this church in general. Sigh.

So I took to the backyard tonight. I felt like there was something I needed to settle once and for all, and it felt like a dramatic backdrop was necessary.

Yay for me, it’s a full moon out tonight. So I turn off most of the outdoor lights, hop in the outdoor Jacuzzi, and let my eyes adjust to the moonlight.

So I hereby vow, to God, to all of you, that I’m not gonna talk about my heart in a romantic sense on this blog anymore. It’s self indulgent, mopey, and I suspect it causes my Mother The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much, and my Dad, The Great Stoic Wonder, much agitation. I’m positive that for more than a few years, they suspected I was gay, when the sad truth was, no, no, just that nobody wanted to date me, not that I’m ugly, because I’m not, but because L.A. guys don’t know how to handle a woman that’s ambitious, talented, and disciplined enough to achieve all her career goals…

AHHHHHHHHH! See that? That right there? I’m stopping that.

I swear by God, and this moon. No, no, swear not by the inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circle orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.

I swear by God, represented by this really bright moon…

I swear by this strangely tasting Patron Orange margarita… (it's there, I promise you.)

I swear by this abstract bunny statue, which I’ve never quite figured out why it’s here…

I swear by this Ginger Puppy, never far away….

No no, I swear by THIS Ginger Puppy, as she has brought a squeaky naked bear as an offering…

I am not talking about my heart in a romantic sense on this blog again. Not saying I’m not talking to God about it, though I imagine He’s sick of hearing about it. But the rest of you don’t need to know about it.

I need to move on, is my very long winded way of saying. If I make this vow now, I’ll be forced to talk about other things on this blog and maybe I’ll discover something else that can monopolize my head space.

I’m in the Jacuzzi, the moon as my light, the Orange margarita as my drink, Ginger Puppy as my nearby companion (Basil Diva Dog is off sleeping in the cabana), and I’ve got my Ipod on. I’m singing songs in the backyard, up to the moon, there’s gotta be something that can really finalize this moment.

There’s Brand New’s “Jesus Christ”

Do you believe you're missing out
That everything good is happening somewhere else?
But with nobody in your bed
The night's hard to get through

And I will die all alone
And when I arrive I won't know anyone

Well, Jesus Christ, I'm alone again
So what did you do those three days you were dead?
Cause this problem's gonna last more than the weekend.

There’s Modest Mouse’s “Spitting Venom”

Cheer up baby
It wasn’t always quite so bad
For every venom then that came out
The antidote was had.

I sang that one for awhile, actually.

But then my Ipod flipped out a song I hadn’t heard in forever, a tiny little band nobody has ever heard of, called Common Children, and their song “Redemption.”

I had first heard them on some Itunes radio station, and in true Amy fashion, as soon as I figured out who they were, they promptly broke up. I got their album The Inbetween Time, on mail order for five bucks.

Here’s a link where you can hear the song (I hope they don’t yank it since I’ve linked to it.)

I hope you listen
To the songs the wounded sing
The sound of redemption
In this broken offering

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

And somewhere in the middle of THAT song, I feel the tiniest of Connection Blips.

This is me. I’m singing this song, in a Jacuzzi that’s not mine, in a backyard that’s not mine, drinking alcohol that’s not mine, watching dogs that aren’t mine, under a full moon that belong to God. It’s a great life, if you happen to overlook the fact that there’s a hole in my chest where my heart should be, and I’d give everything up in a second for it to be filled.

I’m wounded. I’m broken. I’m singing this song up to You, God, my broken offering to You. And then I can hopefully, please, GOD, I can hopefully move on.

I will have Charley horses tonight, I can feel it already. I’ve been drinking water for two hours now, but it won’t make a difference. These dogs are not getting their 5am walk. I hope they’re okay with that.

Someday, I will write a script where the guy write a love letter to the object of his affection and he’ll say “I would rub out any Charley horses in your calves that wake you up in the middle of the night.”

Cause that would be awfully romantic to me.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

You Keep Asking For It, But You're Never Getting It

So here’s Hazel the toddler. I guess we can’t really call her Baby Hazel. When they start walking, they’re not really babies anymore.

Hazel Toddler is now about a year and a half, that age where everything is super groovy cool, and if you fall down you don’t cry about it, because it wasn’t that far to fall anyway. But it’s about another six months before she formally enters the Terrible Twos, and then I shall be avoiding her house and backyard for awhile.

Things have settled down somewhat after a number of weeks, and I’m finally getting to breathe somewhat.

I guess I’ve progressed in my spiritual journey to the point where it’s not that I don’t think God’s listening, because I know He is. And it’s not that I don’t think He can’t handle my requests, because He’s God, and He’s the world’s original multi-tasker.

It’s just that I think He doesn’t want to. What’s the thing that the guy says in the Gospels? C’mon, I just finished those suckers two weeks ago. Ah hell, let me go look it up. ARGH! I know it’s in there somewhere. It’s a beggar, a leper, a cripple, or otherwise disenfranchised person…HA!

It’s the leper. Or, a leper. (I think there’s more than one hobbling around the Gospels) He’s in Matthew 8: 2 – 4; Mark 1: 40-44, and Luke 5,:12 – 13. NIV has him kneeling before Jesus and saying “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." But The Message translates it as “"Master, if you want to, you can heal my body." Jesus says “I am willing” (“I want to”) and heals him.

“If you want to.” Acknowledging that Jesus knows the situation and has the power to, and He has the power to, because He’s the son of God.

God knows my situation, the dark corners in my head, the aches in my soul, the frustrations in my life that are meaningless, sure, of course, but don’t go away. God can absolutely do something about it, if He wanted to.

He just doesn’t want to. That’s what it feels like. He doesn’t wanna help. I’m not looking to anyone else to help me, just Him. Might as well go to the Guy who knows how everything’s gonna turn out.

But He just doesn’t want to. And He won’t tell me why. And He’s not providing other options, other avenues, other roads to go down. So I feel like I’m stuck, and I can’t get out.

There’s another quote from C.S. Lewis’s Grief Observed that’s stuck with me. I recognize that quoting C.S. Lewis makes me sound like a smarty pants, but I’m not. Grief Observed is only, like, 80 pages long. Everyone can read it and remember some part of it.

And it’s the same section where I last quoted him, the special sort of “no answer.” Before that, he’s asking God if he can meet his dead wife again “only if I learn to love you so much that I don’t care whether I meet her or not? Consider, Lord, how it looks to us. What would anyone think of me if I said to the boys, “No toffee now. But when you’ve grown up and don’t really want toffee you shall have as much of it as you choose.”

That’s what I feel like right now. That I’m supposed to ignore these ever present aches, love God with all my heart, and God will finally fill the ache when I don’t care about it anymore.

It’s an ACHE. It f’ing HURTS, okay? Not so easy to ignore. Not for years and years.

Whatever. God’s not gonna stop the ache, and He’s not gonna tell me why, and I’m supposed to grow up already and find joy in running missions in Africa, or helping nonprofits on Skid Row, or other noble efforts, and stop looking for My Future Husband Because You’re Not Getting One, So Knock It Off.

These past few weeks, in addition to wanting to pound a train spike through certain people’s heads, I feel like my life appears to be continually giving of myself, my time, my knowledge, my efforts, to help other people.

“I live to serve.” That’s what I used to snarkily say to my Mother The Phone Harpy Whom I Still Love Very Very Much whenever she wanted me to do something. She had a knack for continually picking the wrong time to ask me to do things for her. I harbored theories that she couldn’t stand to see me watching T.V. when she was struggling to write her master’s thesis in City Planning, and so Amy, go clean the bathroom. It doesn’t help me write, but I’m so annoyed that I’m doing something and seeing you do nothing, that I demand you do something other than nothing RIGHT NOW.

So I live to serve. Rolling my eyes the entire way. Then and now.

Here’s the deal. I’m down with the whole loving your neighbor as yourself thing. I treat people exactly how I want to be treated.

The problem is that I want to be treated GREAT. So I treat others great, and I take their problems on as my own. You need temp agencies? You need a mechanic? You need a script read? You need someone to do last year's quarterly reports? You need a job? Okay! Let’s see what I can do, because I know I’d want other people to help me when I have problems.

So it leaves me exhausted and resentful, and the best part is, I DO have problems, but nobody else can solve them except for God. Awesome awesome irony.

Amy, you’re such an f’ing brat. Your car broke down last year, Wella fixed it. Mella lent you his car to drive. There. People help you. Stop being an ungrateful brat already and go clean the bathroom.

Right, right.

JOY! There’s JOY in them missions in Africa! JOY, I tell ya! More JOY than you can shake a stick at! Give up all your dreams and hop to it right NOW if you wanna jump on the JOY TRAIN!

Right, right.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I'm working on it

I have a super cute picture of Hazel the toddler I took yesterday that I'm trying to find an appropriate post to write around. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It Could Be Worse, It Could Be A Bandana.

Okay, okay, I’m trying not to let the work situation bother me so much. I’m kinda dwelling in Kicked Puppy territory, since every day when I show up at work, there’s a 50 / 50 chance I’m gonna get yelled at for something that wasn’t my fault.

I know in the grand scheme of things, this won’t matter in like, a year from now. Possibly six months from now. Next week, maybe. Job situations, no matter how crazy they can get, usually look better in retrospect. One of the few things that do, come to think of it.

Back in the day, I worked for a certain corporation, hmm, I can’t remember if I signed a non-disclosure form, so how to phrase, how to phrase, how to say things that a google search wouldn’t get me in trouble for, hmmmmmmmm.

Okay! Back in the day, I worked for a certain corporation, and maybe it had a couple of theme parks. Or two. Or three. Or….a bunch.

I totally fell for the whole “Working at a theme park’s gonna be FUN!” theory. I like theme parks. I have fun at theme parks. Why wouldn’t WORKING there be fun too?

Well, because, simply put, you’re not the one on vacation. Plus, it helps if you like people, since you have to be happy and cheerful and smiling all the time.

And we all know how I feel about that. Heh.

Which is why I eventually succeeded in getting myself into the character department. My reasoning wasn’t that I could make a bunch of kids happy. My reasoning was, honest to God, if I’m wearing a character head, I don’t have to smile. I don’t have to talk to people. I don’t have to be cheerful. It’ll be great. My ultimate goal was to get into one of the stage shows, where I REALLY wouldn’t have to interact much with the crowds, but I didn’t get that far.

You have to attend about a week of character training, capped off by a final exam, where they throw you in a costume, throw you in an area of the park, and make sure you can do what you were supposed to do.

They threw me in a Rabbit costume (a particular rabbit, one in a classic children’s story who’s obsessed with time.) The fun part was that this costume was out of my size range, it was the next category up, you could wear it if you were 5’6 and above. I’m 5’3 ½, but every character in my category was checked out, so into the Rabbit I went.

Ker-flop, Ker-flop, Ker-flop, Ker-flop, Ker-flop. That is the sound of my Rabbit Feet going down the hall. They’re making us go to the part of the theme park that, um, looks a lot like a jungle? Jungleland! It’s pretty far away, and my Rabbit Feet are something like three feet long, I’m picking my legs up extra high to make it work, but the Rabbit Legs are low to the ground. But I’m thinking this is all part of the exam, so I’m gonna suck it up and Ker-flop my way to Jungleland.

Okay! Now I’m in Jungleland. Which is a perfectly appropriate place to find a Rabbit from classic children’s literature. Not. But the tourists don’t care, it’s a CHARACTER! GET THE AUTOGRAPH BOOK! GET THE CAMERA! GRAB THE KIDS! IT’S THE RABBIT!

I pose for the pictures. I sign the autograph books. I hippity hop as best I can in my Monster Rabbit Feet. And very slowly, inside my Rabbit Head, the bandana holding my hair back is starting to slip, slip, slip. Forward.

Uh-oh. Oh, this really isn’t going to happen to me is it? IS IT!? See, the Rabbit has a failsafe whenever he has to leave, all he has to do is point to his watch that’s the size of a frying pan on his belt and scoot along to the nearest backstage exit, and the parents will explain to the kids that the Rabbit’s gotta go, that’s his part of the story, you see.

But I am surrounded by a crowd, no, an OCEAN of people, something like four lines deep, because a Rabbit in Jungleland isn’t something you see every day. My teacher comes over, “Rabbit! Rabbit! You’re late!” Ah, my exit line!

And the ocean of people doesn’t move. This Bunny is going nowhere. They won’t let me. Teacher runs off, waiting to see how I’m gonna get out of this by myself.

Now the bandana’s on my forehead. It’s tied tightly enough to where it’s gonna be snug, instead of dropping to my chest, but loose enough to where it’s gonna be over my eyes in about a minute and a half. Aw hell.

How in the world am I gonna stop this? I can’t take my Rabbit head off, we’ve all heard the stories about how four year olds peeped backstage where they shouldn’t have, saw characters without their heads, and their parents sued for emotional damage and distress. The best I can do is ker-flop my Monster Bunny Feet over, moving the ocean of people four lines deep with me, and plant myself by a wall, to keep the crowd on three sides.

Half my vision is now blocked by the bandana. It’s red. I stole it from my sister Agatha. This is obviously divine retribution. I turn my head from side to side, trying to dislodge the bandana. The crowd sees the Rabbit shaking his head. “No, what?” a little girl says.

Where is my teacher? Hello? Anybody? Rabbit in distress! RABBIT IN DISTRESS! SOMEBODY HELP ME!

And then the bandana goes over my eyes. I’m officially blind. I turn this way, that way. Nope, nothing doing.

F THIS SHIT! If I’m gonna flunk, I’m gonna flunk.

I quickly turn around, facing the wall, my back to the crowd, I sneak a Rabbit paw inside my Rabbit head, and yank the bandana down, get the Rabbit paw out of the Rabbit head, and turn back around.

“Are you lost?’ the little girl says.


I sign a few more autographs, and somehow ker-flopped the hell out of Jungleland. I do remember that it was by myself. Everyone was waiting for me backstage, wondering what on earth had happened. Maybe they thought I just LOOOOOOOVVVVVVED people.

I did pass, by the way. I went on to play a whole menagerie of critters and assorted small people. I did a few parades, almost passed out on a float in 100+ degree weather why are you people watching a parade when it’s 100+ degrees outside!? What’s WRONG with you?

I worked out of character costume as a character escort/bodyguard. I escorted/bodyguarded a Rabbit, a Bear, and a Fox from a classic Southern story to their river flume ride when the park opened, and we all stood at a spot with a few kids where we knew we’d get wet from the ride. Watching kids, a Rabbit, a Bear, and a Fox dance while getting sprayed with river flume ride water is hilarious.

I escorted/bodyguarded a Bear, a Tiger, and a Mopey Donkey during a character lunch. When we ran out of kids to take pictures and sign autographs with, we sat down in the restaurant foyer and played Duck Duck Goose. Watching a Mopey Donkey trying to run around a Duck Duck Goose circle is hilarious.

So I must remember, in the grand scheme of things, that the stressful times at work are not going to be the only times I have. That there will be, if not necessarily fun times, (because I’m not currently working at a theme park), better times. Or at least surreal times.

And I will never have to deal with a slipping bandana inside a Rabbit head ever again.