Sunday, March 28, 2010


Sorry about the no post last week. I had a birthday, I deserve a week off as much as anyone.

Does everyone remember when I was getting hassled by homeless people wanting money here and here? I got accosted again as soon as I stepped out of my car on Tuesday night.

I was going to the Target on La Brea, and not two seconds after I’ve stepped out of my car, a guy comes up to me, claiming that he’s lost his wallet and he needs $4.50 to get on the bus to get back to Venice. He’s carrying target bags, he seems appropriately shocked that his wallet is gone. He says the last three people he asked didn’t speak English, the person before that gave him a penny. The story is going on so long that it’s verging on being fake. But I’ll feel like a cold heartless bitch, if I listen to him for this long and not give him anything. So I give him $4.50, though that seems a bit pricy for a bus trip, but maybe he’s gotta change lines or something.

I watch him walk away thinking to myself I want to believe in the goodness of people. I do. I do. I want to believe this guy really is heading towards the bus stop, that he’s not going to head into the Starbucks and get a latte.

I want to believe in the goodness of people. I do. I do.

Just then, another guy comes up to me, asking me for money. “Sorry, I gave my money to that guy,” “I know, I saw.” He says grinning. Part of me wants to say why do you think I’d give you money, dumbass? But I don’t, I just walk away from him.

I want to believe in the goodness of people. I do. I do.

As I’m going through the Target aisles, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m the dumbass, because I fell for the sob story. I should’ve tailed the guy, and if it turns out he did just go to Starbucks, I would’ve shamed the hell out of him. But what good does that do? Shaming someone? You can’t inflict shame on someone, it’s something that they have feel on their own.

After I’m done at Target, I swing by the Starbucks, he’s not there. He’s not at the bus stop either. Maybe he got on the bus already. I’ll never see that guy again, and I’ll never know if he was conning me or not.

I want to believe in the goodness of people. I do. I do.

I wish they’d stop asking me for money, though.

I went to give blood at a Red Cross Blood Drive today, and as I was waiting for my turn, I had a woman sitting next to me. She says she got bounced because of low iron, and is waiting for her husband. She asks me why I’m donating, and I give my standard spiel about how I’ve not had personal experience, like I was in an accident and needed blood, but I do it because it’s ridiculously easy, there’s a serious need for it, and I have no good reason not to do it. She says that’s really admirable, as she does it because she’s one of those mothers who lost a lot of blood in childbirth, needed a transfusion, and now wants to pass it on. She seems to be in awe that I do it just because.

It’s nothing to be in awe of, though. It’s ridiculously easy. It’d be something to be in awe of if you had to run a marathon first, or solve Algebra problems first. But you don’t, all you have to do is lie back and bleed. It requires ZERO skill, ZERO energy. More people need to do it.

What it does require, though, is an iron count of 12.5. Which sadly, I did not reach today. 11.1 in one hand, 11.7 in another. I got bounced. Annoying, since I ate a mountain of broccoli yesterday, and have been taking iron pills like a good little slightly anemic girl should. I wonder if it’s the machine, heh.

I was sad. The nurses even recognized me from my numerous appearances at other blood drives, and they were sad for me.

I’m nothing to be in awe of. I would’ve told that woman outside, but she was gone when I got back outside.

Lest we end the post on a downer note, here are some flower pics!

My roses are on another blooming binge.

There’s all sorts of wisteria and jasmine around the main house, and they’re really pretty, and smell nice,

though I usually sneeze right after. Heh.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tissue Box

For all my efforts in trying to keep this closet of a living space nice and clean and without clutter, I’m still occasionally misplacing things. Which drives me bonkers, because I really have no excuse now. This place is too small to misplace something. I can see where everything is the second I walk in the door, that’s how small it is.

But Ethel the car. Ohhhhhhhh, Ethel the car. I never misplace Ethel herself, but as she has grown older, all the little crevices where things can slip and fall have multiplied, like wrinkles on a grandmommy’s face or something.

Last Sunday, I lost a parking ticket to a hotel parking lot where I was visiting my mom and my dad as they were coming back through Los Angeles after their cruise. It was dark in the parking lot, and I had very little interior light to search the car with, and I promptly burst into tears, to which the disgusted parking attendant sternly told me to stop it, it’s okay, “Life too short!” he said with a frown as he opened the gate and let me go through without having to pay the $59 lost parking ticket fee.

I get so frustrated with myself because it feels like misplacing things is a sign of a life not in control, and we all know how I feel about getting my life under control. That’s one of the things I love about living by myself, everything is under control. Mostly. My purse, my wallet, tries to be free of clutter as much as possible, though there was the one time over New Year’s Weekend where I misplaced the Up In The Air tickets when Xavier and I were going to see the movie. I couldn’t believe I couldn’t find the tickets in my wallet where I put them, and nearly pitched a fit in front of Xavier, of all people, before finally locating them. But it’s just another lesson about how EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE NEAT AND ORDERLY AT ALL TIMES OR ELSE YOU ARE A DUMBASS.

Which is why I sagged in despair when I couldn’t find my emerald ring on Friday morning. When I take my rings off, I usually put them in my purse, on the off chance an earthquake hits and I don’t have a lot of time to grab stuff before hitting the door. The rings are safe in the purse, no earthquake would be big enough to knock them out of the purse. That’s the thinking, anyway.

So I get to work on Friday morning, and dig through my purse for my rings. The aquamarine one was there, but the emerald one wasn’t. I turned the purse upside down, once again berating myself for whatever junk, crumpled up tissues, receipts that should’ve been filed already, is in there that shouldn’t be

But the emerald is definitely not in the purse, not even when I force myself to wait five minutes and look again, knowing full well how panic can cloud my vision. I know I had the rings on yesterday, I always wear them every day. I even remember taking them off and putting them in the purse, because I wasn’t feeling well, exacerbated by cocktail hour with Pepe and Pembleton and their human owners.

But the ring is not here, and it hasn’t fallen out of the purse onto the floor of the office. I make one of the clenched jaw promises to not obsess about it until I get home, thinking it’s probably on the floor.

I get home after work, and carefully look around the table and carpet before trucking in my stuff, so as not to displace it further. But it’s not there. I carefully truck in my stuff, and make a thorough search of Ethel, it’s not there. I do find the hotel parking ticket from last week’s debacle, but that’s not what I’m looking for. And maybe that’s supposed to be some sign: things do turn up eventually, you’re just blind at night. But that thought doesn’t comfort me much either.

So I search the purse again, my closet apartment again. The car again. Where did it go? I would believe in the Void Of Lost Things except I just found the parking ticket from last week. So where’s my f’ing ring?

I don’t have the energy to get angry. The constant battle with the universe these past three months, whether it’s over lost tickets, lost rings, fighting plagiarist bloggers or fighting false insurance claims (someone claimed I hit their car on January 8th when I was eating sushi in Burbank and have the receipt to prove it. Case is closed, claim denied, thank you very much), is just wearing me down. Yes, I have fun times here and there, and it’s a Godsend to live alone, but it strangely doesn’t give me the recharging energy I need to fight the good fight. I wouldn’t be surprised if a bus hit me soon, I don’t have the energy to get out of the way.

I liked that ring. My parents gave it to me as a surprise when we were taking a family vacation in the Bahamas. It’s not too big, not too small. It’s just right, and I’ve been wearing it since I was 17 or something. Irresponsible people lose things like this. I am not irresponsible.

Because this is too much like the parable of the Woman and Her Coin. Let me go do a keyword search: ah, here we go, Luke 15 verse 8 – 10.

The Parable of the Lost Coin
8"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Except that seems really arrogant – comparing my lost ring to a repentant sinner entering the Kingdom of God.

I’m not feeling great, so I sit back on the couch and send up a prayer to God please help me. Where is it? Where’s my ring?

I close my eyes, and the phrase hits me:

Tissue box.

I open my eyes, and the pink purple box of Puffs that sits on top of a magazine on the coffee table is right in front of me. See, look at how clean and uncluttered that table is? Do you see how annoyed I was that I couldn’t find the ring? It wasn’t buried in clutter because there WAS no clutter.

I grab the Puffs, and shake it around.

Rattle rattle.

Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously?

I turn it upside down, and there’s the emerald ring.

Holy crap.

See, I don’t call it a tissue box. I call it Puffs, or box of Kleenex, or whatever. I DON’T call it a tissue box. But that’s the phrase that hit me. Which must mean it came from--

I instantly send up a Thank you God.

And because He’s obviously listening right now, I start asking him important questions. Will You heal my friend with cancer? Will You answer the prayers of my friends who’ve been trying for a baby for eight years? Will You take care of my friends who’re on the verge of bankruptcy because they haven’t sold a script in a year and are about to lose their house?

And no answer.

You’ll send a hint as to where my ring is, but You won’t tell me what You’re gonna do with my friends who have REAL issues? You can have the ring back if you’ll answer their prayers.

No answer.

Part of me wants to snark well THANKS! THAT’S JUST GREAT! Because I am a petulant ungrateful bitch.

I don’t understand how God works. All the prayers I lift up to Him, all the times I’m asking Him to please help me, help my friends, help us, help us all. I know He always hears me, but He rarely sends any kind of answer and THIS is the one time He chooses to say hello?

I don’t understand why God calls it a tissue box. Maybe he doesn’t wanna show partiality to a particular brand.

But I’m choosing to believe this is just the beginning of a miraculous string of prayers. Because now I’ve lost my voice, thanks to being sick. And He can TOTALLY have that, I will figure out how to hold down a job, I’ll do my best Holly Hunter walking around with a notepad around my f’ing neck in The Piano if He’ll just help my friends. Please. Please.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Wow, This Is Amazing

Awards season is over, finally. And for the second year in a row, I volunteered for an awards show that took place this week. No, not that one. The other one. The indie one. I shall not mention it by name, as I have no idea if I’m about to break some unknown code in relating the following story.

Last year, I was a newbie volunteer, and I didn’t mind doing crap jobs like taking tickets at the main gate, or guarding private tents. But I felt like I had paid my proverbial dues, and I wanted a bump up to a more interesting job. I wanted to be a stand-in.

Apparently, there are professional stand-ins out there who’re members of acting unions, and travel from ceremony to ceremony, standing in during camera rehearsals, they know everyone by name. But I think they were all booked for the Major Awards Show, which is why the indie awards show uses volunteers for their stand-ins.

So I made friends with the volunteer coordinator. And I asked. And sent in my headshot, and an acting resume. And lo and behold, they picked me, along with about 15 other people.

As a stand in, you’re there to help the camera crews rehearse camera angles, blocking, and timing. If you win (chosen ahead of time by the stage manager) you get to walk up to the stage and give a fake acceptance speech. And they do actually want you to give a speech, so they can rehearse timing, they want something that’s twenty to thirty seconds long, “Or about three sentences.”

I wanna do the walk. I wanna give a fake speech. I wanna fake win an award. This may be the only time in my life I DO get to give an acceptance speech, so I don’t really care if it’s fake or not.

We arrive for rehearsal the day before the show. The assistant stage manager hands out the flow chart of which category is being announced in what order, and who is standing in for which nominee. I’m standing in for people that I’ve never heard of before, for movies that I haven’t seen. And yes, I will be fake winning an award – a Producer’s Award and a grant for $25,000 given by a jewelry company.

BUT! This particular award is one of three where the nominees are such nobodies that they don’t get a camera shot – they’re all gathered backstage, and the winner walks out from backstage. No walk. I don’t get to walk? You fake win an award. But I don’t get to walk? Okay. Okay fine. This is still going to be fun. Fine.

So we start rehearsing, and the stand ins hop from table to table depending on what category is up. The irony is that I’m standing in for categories I was desperately hoping Pink Piggy would get a nomination for. I managed to get myself to the awards ceremony, and my film didn’t. It’s almost like I made a deal with a genie - I wanna go to the awards show! And the genie says POOF! Sure, no problem! As a STAND IN! That’s what you get for not specifying, nyah nyah nyah.

So here I am, standing in for a nominee in a category I wish I had been nominated in. And the host comes out. The real host, not a stand in. He’s a British comedian, popular in indie circles. Winifred, my friend from home, especially loves him. His particular shtick is free form associating comedy with a healthy dollop of history. I’ve seen some of his shows before, and have found him very funny.

So our BCH (British Comic Host) comes out, riffing on whatever his brain thinks of. The show writer is busy scribbling notes, which they will then later plug into the teleprompter, to remind BCH of what he said in what order during the actual show.

But within seconds of taking the stage, this is what he says:

“Welcome to tonight’s (awards show.) Before we start, I’d like to announce: There Is No God.”

Thunk goes my internal organs. He didn’t really just say that, did he? Oh yes he did, and now he’s riffing on it.

“There is no God, I know you’ve been praying to him for awhile, but he’s not there. I’m an atheist, that means I believe in Athe.”

I know he’s an equal opportunity offender, but it rankles me. To make that your opening line. And it makes me want to say something in my fake speech, the one I do fake win, the Producers’ Award.

Something like Some of us do believe in God, and I thank Him for this opportunity.

Could I say that? Should I say that?

I mull it over as BCH continues to run around onstage, making jokes about how Ben Franklin made the first independent film, and it was all about porn.

Some of us do believe in God, and I thank Him for this opportunity.

Can I do it? Should I do it? Or will everyone hear it as the dig back at BCH that I want it to be? And then will I be blackballed from being a stand in ever again? This is supposed to be fun. I would like to do this again. I would like to attend as a nominee one day, but barring that, I’d like to do this again.

BCH starts over with his opening monologue. I look back at the teleprompter, which now says NO GOD in big letters. Ah man.

BCH’s allowed to say what if he wants to, so if he wants to say that, who am I to slam him back? He’s allowed to say what he wants, and so are you, in your fake speech. It’s not like any of the real winners don’t also thank God in their speeches. The front runner for Best Supporting Actress has made a habit of ending most of her thank you speeches this awards season with “God bless us all.” And she’s fairly terrifying.

I stand in for one of the Best First Film nominee and don’t win. I stand in for one of the Best Film Made Under A Certain Dollar Amount nominee and don’t win. The camera crew assigned to cover my close up crack that they’re on the Loser Team. It’s kind of funny. Just like my obsessing over what to say in my FAKE acceptance speech is.

My speech is FAKE. It’s not supposed to be life changing. It’s not supposed to make a statement. It’s NOT REAL. It DOESN’T COUNT. All the other stand ins are going up there and thanking their moms, their cast and crew, their pets, their cameramen covering their angles. Every one of them says pretty much the same opening line, “Wow, this is amazing.” I must try to say something different.

Some of us do believe in God, and I thank Him for this opportunity.

I’m making a stand with this? A fake acceptance speech that will impress no one and quite possibly rankle some important people? Is it really that necessary to say?

And here’s the thing: Do I want to say it because I really would thank God if I won a real award or do I want to say it because I want to slam BCH. Because if it’s the latter half of that sentence, that’s not the right reason.

I report to backstage to wait for the Producer’s Award winner to be announced. They announce a fake winner, and the stage manager gives me my cue to walk onstage.

It’s kinda crazy. The tent is set up to hold something like 1800 people. And even with nobody sitting in the chairs, the scene is overwhelming. My brain is blown with the surrealness of it all. And I KNOW I’m fake winning. I can’t imagine what it’s gonna be like for the real winner.

The stand in presenters hand me the award and I step up to my mark by the microphone.

First thing out of my mouth “Wow, this is amazing.” It’s true, people. You really can’t think of anything else to say.

I thank the jewelry company for supporting independent film. I thank my cast and crew. I thank my Mom and Dad. I thank the awards organization. I see BCH about halfway back in the audience. I thank the show director, and the assistant stage manager, “And thank you God. Good night.” BCH is too far away to note any specific reaction.

I head offstage, wondering Was that enough of a declaration? Or did I play it too safe?

And the follow up thoughts: Who are you saying any of this for, Amy? Because if it’s supposed to be for God, He would have heard you regardless of what you did or didn’t say.

I would think that would be the end of it, and if I had fake won any other category, it would have been. BUT. The celebrity presenter of my category shows up, an indie iconoclastic director. He wants to rehearse his patter. Which means I get to fake win AGAIN. And AGAIN.

Again I walk out onstage. Again I accept the award, this time from the indie iconoclastic director (I wish I was a bigger fan of his to make the moment mean more.) Again I step up to the microphone.

I thank the jewelry company for supporting independent film. I thank my cast and crew. I thank my Mom and Dad. “My Mom told me I didn’t have to pass Algebra 2 as long as I could balance my checkbook, which really came in handy for this award.” I thank the show director, the assistant stage manager, and say good night.

I’m a big old coward. No. I refuse to believe that God gave me another chance to fake win because He wants me to proclaim that he is King at the end of my fake speech. I just don’t believe that. There’s a time and place for everything, and I don’t think this is the time for that. It doesn’t feel like I’d be doing it for the right reasons. It just doesn’t.

We rehearse it a third time. I walk out, I accept the award, I step up to the microphone. I thank the usual suspects, I ask the jewelry company to throw in a watch along with the $25,000 check. And I say goodnight.

The next day is the dress rehearsal. All of us only fake win once.

I’m an old pro by now: I thank the jewelry company for supporting independent film. I thank my cast and crew. I thank my Mom and Dad. And quickly, I say, “I’d like to thank God. He’s important,” and just in case that lands on anyone’s radar, I finish with “and last but not least, none of this would be possible without (the stage manager), who is truly Mr. Wonderful. Thank you.” I think I hear the stage manager backstage whooping it up.

No one says anything to me about anything I said. During the live show, I go to my new duties in the press tent, which include getting all the winners to autograph a poster (they all oblige.)

BCH goes on to open the live show with “Welcome to tonight’s (awards show.) Before we start, I’d like to announce: There Is No God. I know you’ve been praying to him for awhile, but he’s not there.”

It goes over like a dead fish. Nobody in the room laughs. BCH comments “thank you for that stunned silence” five seconds later. He never gets the room back on his side for the rest of the evening, and reviews the next day trash his performance as host.

But I had a wonderful time. I may not have gotten to walk, but I got to fake win four times. The real winner only won once!

I did thank God. Maybe it wasn’t Some of us do believe in God, and I thank Him for this opportunity. But I’d like to thank God. He’s important still works. Because He is more than capable of taking care of the rest.

And above everything else, I learned to thank your stage manager. That’s probably the most valuable lesson learned. Heh.