Monday, February 28, 2011

Bleeders and Fakers

Gaaaaaaaah, people. Just gaaaaaaaah. The past two weeks have been insane. I have been sick, I got over being sick, but my voice stubbornly refused to come back for awhile. I dogsat for Ginger Puppy and Basil Diva Dog, I took another interview for a potential new dogsitting client, then scrambled to make an introduction to a referral when the new dogsitting client wanted someone to be at the house during the day (in other words, a freelancer.)

I’ve been researching travel details for my family’s trip in October to St. John to celebrate My Mother The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much and My Dad, The Great Stoic Wonder’s 50th anniversary. It involves flights, ferries, cost comparing taxi cab companies, all SORTS of fun!

I’ve gone to career groups, I’ve met with people on potential new projects, I’ve emailed with people on other potential new projects, I’ve introduced people to the wonders of zombie movies, I’ve gone to dinner with other friends who desperately need to stay out of their house for personal reasons, and I’m currently dogsitting Pepe and Pembleton, the crazy Dalmatians, who look very cute as they’re sleeping next to my desk, if only they would cut out the dog farts. One more of those, and I’m kicking them both out.

The Twin Whammies were another blood drive last weekend, and another stint as a stand-in for the Nameless Award Ceremony this past weekend. If I could just survive those things, I could go get a massage. I desperately need a massage.

I ran a blood drive at my church last week, even though my voice was more Muppet like than anything else (I was fine physically.) I ushered in 31 people onto that Bloodmobile, and 24 units o’ red stuff was collected, which isn’t our best number, but it was MY personal best. Because even though I barely beat the Red Hemoglobin Machine O Death by two tenths of a point, I filled up the pint bag in my fastest time ever, five minutes and 3 seconds. FIVE MINUTES AND THREE SECONDS, PEOPLE! HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A PERSON BE A SPEEDY BLEEDER LIKE THAT!?

Seriously, all the nurses were stunned. Even the bloodmobile driver came up to take a look, “Miss AMY!” he said, “How did you DO that?” “You guys wanna go home, right?” I said, “I aim to please.” But in all honesty, the secret is caffeine. Drink a can of soda about thirty minutes before you go in and you too can bleed like a stuck piggy and save lives in the process. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

One Whammy down, on to Whammy #2! I once again signed up to volunteer at the Nameless Award Ceremony this weekend. I had such a blast as a stand-in last year, I had very high hopes for this year. I was working with a lot of the same folks, including the assistant stage manager, and the camera crews, so there’s a common shorthand among us all.

Last year, I fake won once, and had to approach from backstage. This time, I fake won THREE times, and got to walk through the football field sized tent THREE times to collect my award that’s not mine.

But this year, the awards I fake won for were GROUP awards. Meaning I had an entourage of other stand-ins representing actors, producers, casting directors marching up behind me, and standing behind me on stage while I stepped up to the microphone to deliver my fake speech.

So if that’s the situation, you’re kinda limited in what you can say in your fake speech. You can’t really make it all about you, your parents, your dreams, your jokes, when you’ve got four other people behind you that helped you fake win this award that’s not yours. I can’t even thank God, suppose somebody in my fake crew is an atheist? Or an agnostic, or a Jew or a Buddhist? The possibilities of who I could offend with my fake speech ARE ENDLESS.

It’s kinda hilarious, actually.

So I kept looking at my fake family that was certainly acting the part by hugging each other arm in arm with big grins behind me, “Thanks guys! I couldn’t have done this without you,” was my stock opening line. Then I went on to thank the voting body that gave us the award, and some inspirational lines about original voices translating to original stories, and how important it is to keep that alive, so thanks very much.

The few times I let loose was after we suffered through hurricane winds and rains and the tent started leaking in several parts, including the stage. After several mops, hastily put down carpet, and several admonitions from the director to take our time getting to the stage because it’s slippery, I get my crew of six people up the stairs and the first thing I say into the microphone is “Nobody tripped on the stairs! YAY US!”

Then there was the time I had three women behind me. I look at them and crack, “It’s all chicks up here! Women in film ROCK!” which we do, except that’s not the organization giving the award. HA HA HA! Nobody called me on it, though, so it’s all good.

And in all honesty, my benchmark was my camera crew. If I could make them laugh behind the camera, even when I wasn’t winning, I knew I was doing good.

Which is how a mock fit that I pitched at my table when I didn’t win Best First Screenplay ended up being bumper footage leading out to a commercial break later on in the rehearsal. I mock screamed silently. I mock picked up invisible things at the table and chucked them at the winner walking up to the stage. I mock wailed at the injustice of it all, that all this hard fake work I did on this Best First Screenplay that I didn’t write didn’t win.

And the only people that noticed were my camera crew and the guy who made the decision to use that footage as the bumper later in the rehearsal. It’s the little things, people.

I think I deserve my massage now. A real one, thank you very much. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Berlin The Griffith Park Bear

This is Berlin, the Griffith Park Bear. Doesn’t he look so sporty and jaunty?

His mother city donated the statue to the city of Los Angeles at some point in the past (internet research strangely cannot determine an exact date.) And he stands by the Fern Dell entrance to Griffith Park.
I drive past him most every day, and since the beginning of the year, a mystery group has taken it upon themselves to crochet him a new outfit every few weeks or so. This is what he’s been sporting for Valentine’s Day, and other people have been adding details to it, like his sparkly heart necklace.

It’s the kind of thing that renews your faith in the simple quirky details of life. That not all Los Angelos are bitter, manipulative, tragically hip and/or Chronic Users Of People.

Some of them just wanna dress up a bear statue. Because it’s adorable.

I can’t wait to see him dolled up for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.

There’s a website devoted to his sartorial choices here:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Change Your Heart

Last night was my monthly prayer meeting and since I seem to be in an extended season of Nothing Going On I requested prayer that God would help me not be so cranky, since, by and large, I don’t like people. I quickly followed that up with, “You all (in the room) are okay,” “Thanks!” chirped Nellie (and very very technically, I didn’t mean everyone in the room, only half of them, I thought I’d be polite.)

(I like Nellie. I like her Norman, her husband, and I like Donald, also in our group.)

Why don’t I like people? Um, well, most people like to complain about their lives and yet don’t do anything about it. They don’t try, they don’t make decisions, they don’t change. Yes, I’m saying that Nothing Going On with my life, but I have a monster writing calendar with goals and deadlines, and I also have goals this year like Take Surfing Lessons and Possible Karoke and Go See A Bob Baker Marionette Show I’m working, I’m writing, I’m setting goals and reaching them.

I hate to be around complaining people who aren’t trying to change. And yet I complain all the time about how I hate people and I don’t seem to change towards liking them any more than I do. The closest I get is being more polite towards them. If I’m exceedingly nice to you, it probably means I hate you inside. KIDDING.

I remember when Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind came out in the theaters, and I went to see it with a college buddy of mine and it looked like a date even though it wasn’t a date because we were just friends, bantering about roommates, Cold Mountain, Down And Dirty Pictures, and I don’t think either of us realized what a date movie ESOTPM ultimately turned out to be. Yes, a mind bending whacked out date movie, but a poignantly imaginative rumination on love, pain and memory. Still one of my favorite movies of all time.

(I like my college buddy.)

I distinctly remember sitting through the end credits, and in MY memory, there were animated little diamonds or something that faded in and out as the credits rolled, but I just checked my DVD copy, and there are no such thing, just a black screen with credits on the right hand side. Not sure why my brain would conjure up something like that, but regardless of what I did or didn’t see, what was definitely HEARD over the end credits was Beck’s cover of The Korgis’ “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime”

Change your heart
Look around you
Change your heart
It will astound you
I need your lovin'
Like the sunshine

Everybody's gotta learn sometime

I bumped into Eugenia at my gym a few weeks ago. Eugenia goes to my church, and we were chatting about a third person who also attends, but who I do not like at all (And don’t bother asking me who it is, I will never tell. Just assume it’s you. KIDDING.)

(I like Eugenia.)

I was confiding to Eugenia about how I’m such a cranky bitch because I do not like this other person, and I wish I didn’t have to interact with them, and Eugenia just smiled and said something to the effect of how “God hasn’t changed your heart about them yet.”

Which is something I instantly loved. Because then it takes the pressure, the burden, the guilt I feel for not embracing this person off of me. IT’S GOD’S FAULT! HE HASN’T CHANGED ME! BOO-YAH!

Well, that does mean you need to pray for God to change your heart. You know that, don’t you?

It certainly seems like a prayer of “God, please change my heart so I like this person, that person, ANYBODY ELSE more” would be something He’d grant INSTANTLY. I mean, why wouldn’t He? It has nothing do to with my career, it has nothing to do with my personal life, it has everything to do with my heart, and if there’s something that pastors love to stomp in your brain over and over again is JESUS WANTS A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU! HE WANTS YOUR HEART!

(I like Jesus. I guess. There’s no real reason to dislike him, honestly.)

So I started incorporating that into my daily prayers, “God, please change my heart so I’m not such a cranky person and so I like (third party) more.”

What does God do? Separates us. I haven’t had to interact with this person in close to a month. It couldn’t be just coincidence, could it?

And yet I’m still cranky?

And now that I’ve acknowledged it, God will slam us together again? Uh-oh.


Monday, February 07, 2011

The Hammer Monologue

My friend Native Chick had her birthday party on Friday night, and she wanted to do something different, so she had a Talking Circle. All 12 or so of us sat in a circle, and passed around a seashell, (only the person holding the seashell could talk) and shared stories about beginnings, endings and fond memories of Native Chick.

It was pretty amazing to be a part of, even though it sounds sappy. And yes, there were more than a few tears shed, more than a few hugs, and Native Chick really does have some amazing friends who are very willing to be open, honest, and vulnerable about their past, about their fears, about their hopes and dreams, and I felt really honored to be included.

I did my fair share of sharing (hee!) but since I’m me, I can’t let things go on too long without trying to make people laugh, so I shared my favorite memory of Native Chick, which is The Hammer Monologue. Everyone liked it and laughed, and a few people said they wanted to steal some of it for their own auditions, and even if that was a joke in and of itself, it was a lovely thing to say, and so I’m sharing it here, for them, and for Native Chick, because she is a super super awesome friend.

Really devoted readers o’ the blog might remember the Katrina Mission Trip that Native Chick and I did together in 2006. And this entry here is where the hammer went down.

So this is the monologue, based on true events, my favorite memory of Native Chick.


The first thing they told us at our mission trip orientation was “Whatever you do, do NOT throw a hammer at anyone.” Which we thought was pretty odd.

We were down there a year after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans. We were staying in the Chalmette High School gymnasium with a relief organization and assigned to do gut outs of houses in the Gentilly district.

But why would we throw a hammer at anyone? All the other things they were telling us made sense. Don’t open a toxic refrigerator that hadn’t been opened since 2005, because everything inside would have congealed into a toxic orange goo that would practically eat through your arm. Always wear your respirator and helmet, as you’re gonna be ripping out insulation and plaster.

But why would we throw a hammer at someone?

We’re working for 5 days. Five days of brute manual labor. Reducing two houses to the studs, hammering through walls, poking through ceilings, carting the debris out to the sidewalk.

I have never been so physically exhausted in my life, have never had my body rebel so much at the thought of ham sandwiches in 90 degree heat, have never felt like I was doing so much and so little all at once, as I did on this mission trip.

On Day 5, Native Chick and I are in charge of tearing down a disgusting bathroom. Which is half tile. Roaches in the corners of the walls. Baby frogs hopping endlessly in the bathtub. They give us a sledgehammer and tell us to go for it. And though the thought of getting my inner drunken frat boy on SOUNDS like a great idea, we are so tired that we have to trade off after every two whacks. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Amy. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Native Chick.

We are so tired. Five days of this. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Amy. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Native Chick. Rivers of sweat under our Pyrex suits. Sounding like Kenny from South Park in our respirators masks. Seeing so many roaches that after hour 2 on the first day we didn’t care anymore. Our only saving grace is that we haven’t encountered a toxic refrigerator.

Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Amy. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Native Chick.

Somehow, all that tile comes down. To the point where we missed how the baby frogs got out. I hope they got out. I’m pretty sure they did.

But here we are, pulling out nails at the top of the wall near the ceiling. I’m on the ladder on top, Native Chick is pulling out the nails on the baseboards.

And I have a hammer in my hand.

I am so tired. She is so tired. This is our last day of work.

And I have a hammer in my hand. And as I’m working on a rusty stubborn nail, it finally flies out with a pop…

And the hammer flies out of my hand.

I yelp. And then I hear a CLUNK that sounds a lot like a helmet. And a tiny “aaaahhhhh!”

I am mortified. I have become a cliché. I have become a cautionary tale. I have thrown a hammer at someone. Something I scoffed at a mere five days ago, I have officially embodied.

The good news is that it was more of a glancing blow, the hammer was not especially large, and Native Chick was wearing her helmet. And she promptly busts out laughing. And I bust out laughing.

You really know who your friends are when you can throw hammers at them and laugh about it. If you ever have to throw a hammer at anyone, you could do no better than Native Chick. Because she is that cool.