Sunday, May 31, 2009

Do You Feel Wanted

This week, I took a nap on a couch with a guy. That’s not a metaphor for something more physical, it was an honest to God nap. It wasn’t planned, it just kinda happened.

And I’m very sorry to say, it was f’ing wonderful. I had a stressful week on a number of fronts, and I needed some kind of escape, some kind of wish fulfillment granted, SOMETHING that went right.

And this went right. The couch was a tad wider than a standard couch, so it could accommodate both of us, but required snuggling of the first degree. And we all know how much of a sucker I am for an honest to God snuggle. I’m a snuggleslut. I’m a chick, I make no apologies for it, but knowing that snuggling is such an Achilles heel of mine, and knowing that most guys endure snuggling rather than enjoy it, means that I’m hypersensitive to the guy, if he moves, does that mean he’s annoyed, have I become a clingy wimp, is he uncomfortable, is it too much for him, am I destroying all chances of a second snuggle encounter.

But there was none of that here, because we were both exhausted (No, Mom, not like that. All clothes remained on.) Arms went around each other and stayed that way. I heard the steady thump of his heart through his chest, felt his chin on top of my head, heard the occasional snore (we all make compromises, ha ha ha.)

This is the feeling I chase 24/7. Even the last dogsitting gig with Howardina filled it in a small way. This is why I’m always insanely jealous of anyone who’s got a significant other. Because you have access to this feeling, and I have to hold my breath for MONTHS for an opportunity. If I go too long without a cuddle, my guy friends are doomed as I force my hugs on them, my heads on their shoulders, my arm linked through theirs, and they’re all going, “Um….what’s up?”

I want to be held. It feels safe. I feel protected. I feel…wanted. In a very basic sense. His arms are around me. They don’t let go. If he didn’t want me, he’d move. He’d push me away, like that one guy early in my dating career that traumatized me forever.

This is exactly the feeling I DON’T get from God.

Maybe it’s the question that everything boils down to. Do you want me? I think John Eldridge defines it for women as “Am I pretty?” and that feels a little superficial. You can still want a person without them being attractive. (I’m sure my friends who have several Eldridge books will be sending me emails saying exactly what the question is.)

But seriously. Have I ever felt like God wanted me? Sure, I read the Bible ever damn day (Proverbs isn’t doing it for me currently) and I can read the verses that say I’m a Daughter of God, and Be Good And He’ll Bless You, and I can go to church every damn week and hear over and over again the theory that God Wants A Relationship With You, God Wants To Be In Communion With You. But do I feel WANTED by God?

And honestly, no. No I don’t. I feel like I live my life as a series of tests and challenges to be good to an All Powerful Being who only cares if I pass. Like a teacher in a classroom, monitoring things, watching out to see who’s gonna act up, to make sure everyone stays in line. That’s about order. God wants a relationship with me because he wants me to obey him. It’s not about desire. It’s not about want.

Can you make the conclusion that God Blesses Me Because He Wants Me? It’s not logical. It’s like the teacher analogy again. If You Finish Your Homework, You’re Blessed With A Gold Star. Your teacher wants you to do well so you’ll excel in life. But that doesn’t mean your teacher wants YOU.

God blesses me. God wants me to succeed, probably in an Advancing His Kingdom kind of way. But does God want ME. Does God WANT me? And how do I know, how can I tell, what does it feel like? I know what being wanted by men, or people, I know what that looks like, what that feels like. But what does it look like in a God way? It’s more than Order and Obedience and Blessings, isn’t it?

If God is ever offended that I chase human interaction instead of going home and meditating on His Good Word, THIS is why. I can FEEL a cuddle. I can’t feel God.

I’m sure God’s pissed off now. I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t get an opportunity to cuddle with a dude for like, three YEARS now.

I just had to note for the record that I did feel wanted. For a few hours.

And so this doesn’t turn into the mopiest blog every, check it out. The slides computer at church was having problems, so we had to run the slides program for today’s service on my personal laptop. This meant that everyone was slave to my Itunes in terms of pre and post service music. And though I really wanted to be contrary and blast NIN, I was pretty good, though I did sneak in my favorite Schoolhouse Rock song ever: Rufus Xavier Sarsparilla. Which is about pronouns, and could be construed in a somewhat God like manner:

There’s a chance I have to run the slides again from my computer next week. Everyone better watch out, heh.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I’ve been housesitting this holiday. A new dog, a referral. She’s adorable, even if she likes to bark at everything passing by the house. She’s a terrier mutt, they tell me, and when she tilts her head back to look at you, her ears spread out to make her look like an airplane, so let’s call her Howardina, after Mr. Hughes himself, the original Aviator.

Howardina has a very strict regime (so thank goodness I don’t currently have a day job.) She gets walks three times a day, sliced turkey and lamb with her kibble, baby wipes on paws and mouth before bedtime.

She also sleeps on the bed with me, which is wonderful, until 5:30am rolls around. As soon as the early morning light hits her, she thinks it’s time for her walk. I’ve managed to train her in the short time I’ve been here that I’m not moving until the cell phone alarm goes off. But as soon as it does, she is literally standing on top of me, licking my face until I roll out of bed to take her on her walk. I actually got a picture of us this morning.

This is what I wake up to. Yes, she’s got adorable sleepy eyes, she’s also directly on my chest. Ooof.

The thing about dogs I housesit is that they are sooooooooo happy when they get to go on their walks. I wanted to try and take a picture of Ginger Puppy’s happy face the last time I was up there, but I didn’t get a chance to.

But here’s Howardina’s happy face. She KNOWS she’s going on a walk. There’s nothing better for her in the whole wide world.

And the thing that cracks me up about her is that when we go on the walk, she smells everything as though it’s the first time she’s smelling it. Which isn’t the case at all, it’s the same route every day. But to her, it’s all GRASS!? WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED GRASS!? HAVE YOU SMELLED THIS STUFF CALLED GRASS!? IT’S FANTASTIC!

Makes it a little difficult to walk her, though. She lunges after every squirrel she sees. She doesn’t get the concept that the squirrels are gonna win every time.

To look at everything like it’s new, to be so excited about nothing more than the promise of a walk (regardless of the fact you have your own dog door and go to the backyard any old time.), to be so dumb as to think you can catch that squirrel even though you never have and never will…well. You can draw your own real life parallels, heh.

But these were some pretty flowers I saw in the backyard as well. So there. Beauty is duly noted for the record.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Round 2 With The Homeless Population

So it happened again, and I’m trying not to be annoyed.

First it was the homeless woman blocking me in the soda aisle at Ralphs. This time it was the homeless guy at the Arco gas station.

You can tell if you’ve lived in Los Angeles too long if you just smirked at that sentence. Because the Arco gas stations here attract more than their fair share of homeless people. I try to fill up at hours when I think they won’t be there and certainly, at 2pm on a Wednesday, you’d think I’d be safe as opposed to say, 8pm any night of the week, when they’re out in full force with the spray bottles and windshield wipers and no chance of escape.

I saw this guy before he saw me. I was inside the convenience store section trying to explain to the attendant that he had to reset my gas pump because it said it was in use when it clearly wasn’t. I glanced out the window and saw a politely dressed guy talking to a minivan owner in a way that made it clear that they weren’t together. Uh-oh.

My car’s in front of the minivan. I know I’m next. I’m doomed. Just doomed.

I maintain that it’s much easier to be a Christian anywhere in the film industry than it is to be a Christian and blow off a homeless person asking for a handout. It’s easier to defend my faith to my co-workers than to tell the person in front of the Rite Aid, the guy holding a Vietnam vet sign at the corner of San Vincente and La Cienega, the woman at the Laurel Canyon off ramp of the 101, the couple hanging around outside the Subway at Sunset and Crescent Heights that, “Sorry, I don’t have anything.”

But it’s a slippery slope. You give to one, you feel bad if you don’t give to them all. And you CAN’T give to them all, there’s too many of them. They should mobilize themselves into a ragtag army and take over the Cheesecake Factory at the Grove or something.

And yet Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Did he mean, “No, that guy with the Vietnam vet sign is a big liar, so no, you don’t have to give him anything. The other guy is probably gonna buy booze, that woman is just lazy, if they really wanted to improve their situation they’d ask for a ride to a social services place, blah blah blah.”

There are ways around it. You can make yourself feel better by volunteering at different places. I’ve sorted food donations at the L.A. Food Bank, I’ve served pizza to homeless people on Skid Row, I’ve counted the homeless population as a part of a PATH project, I’ve helped out with footwashing, I organize Red Cross Blood Drives, I plan to be a part of my church’s Project Hollywood day in June.

But none of it stops the guilt with every homeless person I walk by and not help. Which is frustrating, and I kick myself all the time. Why DON’T I empty my wallet, why DON’T I take this smelly person for a sit down meal and hear their whole story, why DON’T I take a personal interest in every single f’ing homeless person I see and FIX THEM ALL! ISN’T THAT WHAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO DO AS CHRISTIANS!? FIX HOMELESS PEOPLE?!


Back to the gas station, I get the pump working and sure enough, here comes Mr. Nicely Dressed But Still Homeless Guy. He’s got a simple button down shirt and clean jeans. He’s in his early 20s. He says that he’s trying to get to San Diego. He’s got family there, he was staying with some cousins up here, but his living situation fell through, so now he’s trying to get home. He wants to tell me his poem that he’s composed, and then I can pay him whatever I feel his poem is worth. I ask him how much he has, he says $40. I ask him how much he needs, he says $70.

“You’re very beautiful,” he says, “You’re not wearing any makeup, you don’t need it.” I wanna tell him stop it with the cheap salesman pitch. He was doing okay with the specifics of his request, and the uniqueness of the delivery method.

(Incidentally, the only people that ever tell me I’m beautiful are homeless people, married guys, guys with girlfriends, and straight women. Like I can do anything with any of that.)

He introduces the poem by saying it’s long, and it’s meaningful, “it’s about the world.” I don’t remember any of it, it’s so long.

The words are leaving this guy’s mouth and vanishing into the air between us, never landing in my memory, but I WANT them to be memorable, I WANT this to be a good experience, something that turns my cynical nature around.

But they don’t. The poem’s something about general positivism in the universe, our experiences form us into stronger people, shooting stars, dreams in your hand, we’re all connected by energy, that kind of thing.

It’s the type of poem you hear in a Lifetime movie, where the spunky teacher turns around the inner city English class, and this is the former thug who’s just learned to read and now he’s delivering the commencement speech at his graduation. It’s generic. I want to believe it’s more, I want to believe in him, because HE believes it’s more, but at the end of the day, it’s generic.

He winds down to a close and smiles big at me. He means well, I can believe in that much. I honestly do believe he’s trying to make it back to San Diego. If that makes me a sucker, than I’m a sucker.

I give him $5, he thanks me profusely as I get into my car, “God bless you!” I think he says as I shut the door.

You give money to homeless people, why, because Jesus told us to feed his sheep? You can’t get them all. To assuage guilt? It never really goes away. To convince yourself you’re a worthy person, you’re an okay person, you deserve God’s love? You can’t earn God’s love, it’s already there. To demonstrate how much you love God? Possibly, though I think He would prefer something without the irritation or cynicism that came with the demonstration.

I dunno. I really don’t.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Determined Lemon Tree Will Not Be Denied

There used to be a very sturdy lemon tree in our backyard. Our happy home has been privy to a one time tar pit and SuperRoses in the front yard, but the lemon tree was in the back. It grew next to Ex Roomie Cackle’s bedroom, and when it was Fourth Of July we’d climb it to the roof and watch the fireworks happening all around Los Angeles, from Dodger Stadium to Downtown to Santa Monica.

One day the sturdy lemon tree up and died on us. We didn’t do anything, it just happened. The gardeners came and cut it down and the only thing left was a gnarly twisted rooty stump, and we couldn’t climb up to the roof to watch any fireworks ever again.

But the sturdy lemon tree was not to be denied. And somewhere around a year and a half ago, it came back up, a scant two feet away from where it used to be. It’s a very determined lemon tree, you see. Nothing is going to stop it.

It grows so many lemons that I can’t use them all, and the branches are all weighed down. I pawn them off on friends, I make as many lemon icebox pies as I can (another one is coming this weekend.) Roomie Jeykll uses them in her Diet Coke, I had a get together with Basil, Ginger Puppy, and a bunch of my friends where we made lemon drop martinis with great success. I use them by the sink sometimes for my hands after cleaning, one time I got really resourceful and made literal lemonade.

I’m doing everything I can to help that poor lemon tree, and I still can’t get to them all. Fruit is rotting on that tree because I haven’t used it yet.

I hope the tree isn’t a metaphor for my future. Sometimes, I worry that it is. But I really really hope not.

Back to culling the opportunities. Before they rot.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Butterfly, The No Neck Guy And God

It was 2007, and the guy had no neck.

We had chatted on the phone a few times, but I’m the kind of girl that #1 – hates the phone. #2 - prefers to meet in person as soon as possible, because you know as soon as you see him if this guy is going to be someone you want to see again.

And I knew as soon as I saw him that he was not someone I wanted to see again. Because he had no neck. Like seriously, his chin would have hit his shoulder if he had turned his head. I’m sure he knew it. I’m sure he was self conscious about it.

But come on, give the guy a chance. If he’s someone special, if he’s someone quality, then no neck is something I can get over, right?

So I give him a chance. For three hours. He sounded nice on the phone, but in person is coming across as a cocky slickster hustler, talking a lot about buying companies, firing his last girlfriend who worked at his company, la la la. He was more than willing to reveal a lot of personal information that only people in Los Angeles seem to think is appropriate icebreaker conversation (for the record, how long you last in bed is not an appropriate icebreaker conversation, even if you’re sharing it to prove that you can be vulnerable, since by your own admission you don’t last that long.) He kept throwing out compliments about how beautiful I was, I’m one of the most interesting and intriguing women he’s ever met, in a way that approached Greasy Car Salesman mode.

The drinks keep coming, he gets more animated, more arrogant, I think he knows he’s blown it with me, and he knows I’m waiting for an appropriate time to say, “Thank you. It was nice to meet you, but I need to be going home now.”

Because he starts saying that I’m probably not going to get anywhere with my writing career. Given how long I’ve been in Los Angeles, how old I am, “Look. If it hasn’t happened by now, than it’s probably not going to, right?” He’s guessing that I’m bitter because it hasn’t happened yet, and that bitterness is only going to repel whatever meager chances I might scrabble together. And he knows this because he’s directed one short, and one feature, and nobody’s ever heard of them. But yet, he’s on his way up, and I’m going nowhere.

But I do go somewhere. I thank him for his time, and walk out the door. He sends me an email the next day wondering what he did wrong, would I please give him another chance, he’s inviting me to a screening please don’t say no immediately, just give it some thought. I reply back, saying chemistry is funny, you can’t force it, you can only give it a chance, so I’m glad we tried, but it wasn’t there for me.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if it was that encounter that may have been the jinx that oomped itself into finally getting Pink Piggy made last year. The butterfly flaps its wings in China and causes a hurricane in Brazil. A no neck guy says I’m never going to make it as a writer, and a year and a half later, last Tuesday night, I’m sitting at the premiere of Pink Piggy, in a theater of three hundred people, in a dress I found at H&M for $34, my hair all poofy, wearing a necklace my six year old niece gave me last year for my birthday, the three alcohol and sugar pounds successfully shaken off, having posed for photographers on a pink carpet, listening to a huge roar in the crowd when my name comes up on the screen under “Written By” and thinking I wish I could go back to myself in 2007 and say yes you will. Yes you will make it as a writer. Forget everything this asshole is saying. You’re gonna be fine just fine. Everything’s going to be fine.

But ultimately I know it’s not a jinx. I know it’s not a metaphorical butterfly in the form of a no neck guy.

It’s God. It’s God, plain and simple and I haven’t a clue why He’s choosing to work this way, allowing the story of one drunken decision in 2001 to blossom into a film that people are now clapping and cheering. For most of my writing career, I was so sure that God wouldn’t be happy unless I was writing really awful on the nose Christian movies. But all I did was write the stories I wanted to write, and God is showing through anyway, guiding me towards meeting the right people, steering the boat towards the right opportunities in the right timing, it’s just...just...incomprehensible and amazing.

These are some wonderfully strange days I’m living in, folks, and I haven’t even told you half of what else is brewing. Every day brings another unexpected phone call, every day brings another unexpected opportunity. These days aren’t gonna last forever, they may not even last through next week. I’m as busy as I’ve ever been, but the feeling isn’t going away.

You’re gonna be fine just fine. Everything’s going to be fine.

Thank You God, Thank You, Thank You God, Thank You, Thank You God, Thank You.

Hey, will this picture turn out? It’s the necklace that Bug gave me for my birthday last year. She actually wouldn’t hand it over for two days because she wanted to wear it. It went awesome with the dress. ☺