The night I came back home to Sylmar after seeing Alan, I had a very elaborate nightmare where I was chasing a serial killer who used pig fetuses to kill his victims. Somehow, he would implant them in living people and then make them explode out of their bodies.
The nightmare seemed to go on for days, ending in this long moment of watching several people die in a shower of pig fetuses. It was very graphic, one fetus burst out of the side of someone’s jaw.
I woke up sweaty, and thought, “I hate this apartment.”
Maggie growled at the front door. That’s so damn unsettling.
My mind was getting rough. My mom used to claim she could see the clouds forming over head just before a depression hit me.
I don’t suffer from depression often, I have bouts of it. However, a storm was coming for me.
At work, Rachel, the actress, seemed to be battling her own war. We were talking about the karma of killing ourselves, because that’s what neurotic actresses do.
Rachel, “I would kill myself but I worry that I would come back as something terrible, like in a third world country.”
Me, “As a sex slave?”
Rachel, “Or a rock getting hit by a wave every 5 seconds.”
I laughed, “That’s funny.” I continued, “But you have a lot going for you, I am surprised you are depressed. You were in a great movie, you have representation . . . “
She said, “I am so glad that other people think I am happy because I had one movie. That’s great, but just because I had one stroke of good luck doesn’t mean I am a happy person. I am not working. What if I never get another movie?”
I said, “I am sure you will, but you will always have that one people will revisit. And people who will be your fans.”
She said, “Oh, I already have a fan base. It just has nothing to do with my happiness. Successful people, celebrities, they all get depressed.”
I remembered Owen Wilson tried to kill himself.
When I look in the mirror, after my hair cut, the first thing I noticed was my expression. It was borrowed from the Prophet. He didn’t let me take very many photos of him during our 5-yr on-again, off-again affair, but his expressions have rubbed off on me. That’s almost nicer.
The second thing I noticed, is a very severe wrinkle forming on my upper lip. No one notices it unless I purse my lips and point at it, but its coming in. The laugh lines around my mouth and the crow’s feet. It all seems to be crumpling my head up into one giant spit ball.
Now, at first glance, you may think I am in my mid-twenties. A liquor store attendant told me last week he thought I was 18, God Bless him. I know its a matter of time before age creeps up on my face.
And why does it matter? I never thought I would care as I aged. I didn’t care, until people started telling me I was pretty, and then I started feeling pretty after 32 years of feeling ugly.
I feel cheated. I want more time.
So, around this time, I start googling face lifts, mini face lifts, microderm abrasions, botox and chemical peels. I also researched cost, though around $6,000, they will work out a payment program for you.
Just in time for me to pay off my car . . . great.
I feel better just knowing the option is out there, because, though I am the only one that acknowledges the age on my face, I know its just a matter of time before the casting directors and suitors notice, too. And then what? I will only be left with one compliment. “You’re funny.”
Its a good compliment. I love that compliment. But otherwise, I feel utterly useless.
Dora and I were still not talking.
Whenever I went up to the main house to shower, she would blast Blink 182 music until I left. I can’t tell you how glad I am to be paying an extra $50 a month to be made uncomfortable where the kitchen and bathroom are.
I did my best to shower, brush my teeth and cook at Doggie Daycare or other people’s apartments.
She and I collided at work in the kitchen as she was washing dishes. She initiated a conversation about why she was upset that I didn’t drive her home that one time, 10 days prior.
She said, “I just want you to know how I feel. After all the favors my sister and mother did for you, we all waited for you, and you couldn’t wait for me, it makes me feel really bad.”
I said, “Dora, you make me feel like your servant. I told you in the morning, and I told you in the middle of the shift, I wanted to have dinner with my friend that night-”
Dora, “But I want you to know how I feel. It just made me feel like you didn’t appreciate all we did for you. But its ok! My mother explained to me that just because you do nice things for people, doesn’t mean they will do it in return.”
Nice jab. She spoke to her mother about it. That hurt. I loved and respected her mother and it would be petty to seek her out and explain my side of things.
I said, “Dora, I waited for you and drove you every other time for months. AND I took you to Disneyland.”
Here I saw a small smile creep on her face, like she was waiting for it.
She cocked her head to the side as she dried a water bowl and said, “I am just telling you how I feel, just so you know. It was really frustrating finding a ride home. And the tension is giving me nightmares. I haven’t been able to sleep again since we started fighting. I really need things to ease up because I am going to need your help again soon.”
Because . . . she needs me to drive her . . . #*!#
Sascha called us out of the kitchen, playfully, and I drifted out of the conversation. I was so disgusted with Dora, and that little malicious smile, that I wanted to leave the kitchen before I smacked that smirk off her face.
I couldn’t look at her, and I couldn’t talk to her because I was so enraged by her lack of appreciation and respect, not to mention her attempt to continually manipulate me. It wasn’t a matter of discussion when I could drive her and when I couldn’t. It was a matter of making me feel bad so I always put her before me.
Its not just the driving, its the placing dinner orders with me at work and never paying me back, its complaining when I get myself a coffee while not bringing her a cup, its using her mug, to only hear that’s her favorite mug and she needs it back while using 1 of my 2 cereal bowls as a cat feeder for 5 fucking months. ITS ALL OF IT!!
Her continual offers to take her food and borrow her things, only for her to hold it over my head shortly thereafter are all in an effort to get what she wants.
All very typical of a young woman, a teenager . . . but if I was not going to enjoy the pleasure of her first 12 years of life calling me ‘Mommy’ and making finger paintings for me, I sure as hell was not going to take her bullshit for the last few years of bitching to maturity. I will not accept a grown teenage daughter on my doorstep- I would rather kill the stork, and I am vegan.
You might think I am paranoid, or overreacting. Let me throw this little tidbit in, her mother and co-workers were asking me if I was ok, and were worried. I got the distinct feeling that she was telling people I was on a drug binge.
Still aren’t with me?
Last night, she point blank asked me if I was on drugs because “it just seems like it.: I guess having trouble even looking at your little brat of a roommate because you are so flustered with general rage while suffering from the fatigue of constant work looks and sounds like a coke addict. Good to know!
I promised myself I would not drive her anywhere unless a) she asked me b) she paid me $1 each way in good faith.
She didn’t ask me, so I was free to do what I wanted to. It was liberating.
I went to have dinner with my friend Jeph.
We talked about work ethic, and how I have been made to feel that by not working tons of overtime, and bending over backwards at Doggie Daycare every available minute that I am not an ideal leader or worker.
Jeph said, “The labor unions in Europe were formed to afford people more time. That is what the people fought for, more time away from work to enjoy their life and their families. The labor unions here were formed to give people more money for their time, so we are paid for overtime. Workers are looked down upon if they don’t put in overtime, whereas in Europe, its the opposite, if someone wants to work overtime, they are seen as mentally unbalanced.”
When I started Doggie Daycare, I told them, “I decided that I would not sacrifice myself for a job. It doesn’t pay off.”
Lori, the woman that lives at Doggie Daycare and hasn’t had more than 2 days off in years told me, “That’s good you found that out now. Never give that up. Never forget that.”
It still bothers me that I am not considered a valuable employee there. Granted, I don’t go above and beyond very often because people don’t seem to notice when I do. And there is the obvious, its just a Doggie Daycare job.
When Trent was there, often the things he did, break up a dog fight or clean out the mop bucket area, were ignored and Mississippi was complimented personally in company meetings. Its like they pick one person to adore, and award them compliments and a 50 cent an hour promotion. Its so petty, I know, who cares? But it wears on you. And this particular Doggie Daycare has lost quite a few employees through simply neglecting their work and contributions while making them feel bad for not doing more.
In the last year, we lost our great Swiss female employee, Carmen, my friend Ocean, my favorite brown lesbian Camille, Trent and now Rochelle. I would even argue the above employees genuinely care about the dogs more than some of those promoted. They also were my friends.
Another argument could be those promoted are all straight men- a possible indication of Management’s sex life. I would not go outright and say they are undeserving, but there are so many that are and to see straight men get compliment after compliment, and watch them prosper on those verbal highs . . . while so many women, I mean good working women, end up disheartened and quitting, it really annoys me.
Then, I told Jeph about my love triangle. Abe vs. Alan.
He said, “The best romantic advice I ever heard was, ‘Can you live with that person’s worst quality for the rest of your life?”
I said, “That is the best romantic advice I ever heard.”
I thought about Alan’s worst quality, lashing out and turning cold in the face of hurt or rejection. That scared me.
I thought about Abe’s worst quality, being a stoner who doesn’t work or show up on time. That’s something I think I could possibly live with, if we never had children.
In my nights of freedom, I got to visit Sascha and listen to old records and drink Bud Light.
I enjoyed a late birthday lunch with Lana.
She said, “You need to get some new men.” Then she looked down at Brad, “Your Mommy is crazy, isn’t she? Crazzzy!” He stood on his hind legs for her and wagged his tail in agreement.
The thing with keeping friends, is no matter how tired you are after working, you have to visit them to tend those fires. Friendship, on some level is work, work to stay in human contact. Some get lazy and fall by the wayside with text messages, God damn Facebook. The real friends I had, I saw after we both worked and dragged our asses across town in the middle of the night just to talk.
Despite all that, my storm was coming. My depression was growing in the back of my mind.
I texted Abe: “I am seeing someone else.”
I was working a lot. I booked a Swedish commercial on a Thursday.
The call time was 6am in the middle of fucking Simi Valley. I drove up at dawn and was taken by transport into the hills, and sat as close to a stationed space heater as possible.
Again, Wardrobe tried to put me in a strapless sun dress. I said, “Please, I just did an all night shoot in a mini skirt, can you please put me in something warmer?”
They let me keep my skinny jeans and jacket and said, “You’re welcome.”
I was reunited with DJ and Sebastian, Val Kilmer was on this set too and a young man who gave me a massage over a year ago on some other commercial. He was still giving me a massage.
He said, “Is this ok?”
I said, “Hey, you want to just give me a massage, by all means, go for it. I am not going to complain.”
We were supposed to run into the hills for a few takes. I have to say, I love the European commercials because they have good food and they don’t stress out over a bunch of takes. They get what they want in two or three takes and let us relax.
“Paris was everything I’d wanted it to be and, unfortunately, more. “April is the cruelest month, “ Eliot said, “ . . . mixing/memory and desire.” I didn’t know what he meant at first , especially because I remembered it wrong. “Mixing desire with dead leaves” is what I remembered from my freshman poetry course. I repeated it to myself over and over. Dead leaves in April? What does that mean? Then I got it. April is cruel because the desire of youth mixes with the moldy leaves of ancient winter underfoot. As long as I was able t just be young in Paris, I was okay, but the winter of my past kept showing up and for me it was April in Paris all day long.
A young man in his early twenties who had been flirty with me over craft service asked, “What are you reading?”
I said, “Alan Alda’s autobiography.”
He said, “Who is that?”
I said, “He was the lead in M*A*S*H.”
He shook his head thinking, “Never saw that.”
I said, “Ok, um, wow, its just the best television show ever created.”
He smiled and leaned in, “Is it?”
I rattled off some more Alan Alda, “The Aviator? (nothing) Flirting with Disaster … um, he is mostly known for TV. He plays a good villain though.”
He said, “Oh wait! No . . . no I am thinking of someone else.”
I opened my book and said, “You don’t know who Alan Alda is . . . that’s a crime.”
We wrapped around 3pm and DJ needed a ride home. As it turns out, he is the son of a Preacher.
I told him about my love triangle; Abe vs. Alan. He said, “You know why you are trapped where you are, because you laid with them.”
I said, “You mean sex.”
He said, “Yes. Your spirit is tied to them now, so you are struggling to move on.”
I said, “So you don’t think I can have a relationship with either of them?”
He shook his head violently and said, “Noooo. I think you and Sebastian would make a great couple. But in all honesty, you are a great girl, I can see you are probably great in bed because you seem adventurous.”
I held my head out for a moment then said, “Ok.”
He said, “Hey, do you have any pot? Want to smoke a bowl?”
I said, “Ummm, sure.”
So we pulled over into the first suburban area we could find and I got high with a Christian.
He said, “That’s good shit, thank you.”
I blew out a cloud and said, “Its called Bigfoot.”
Then he said, “You are smart, you are good. I think you are AH-mazing and you will find an AH-mazing guy. How old are you? In your mid thirties?”
I twitched. “Yeah.”
He said, “I always thought I would end up with a younger woman, I don’t know why.”
I said, “Probably because you associate a young woman with purity and sexual inexperience.”
He said, “You are probably right. But I am finding myself more and more attracted to women in their mid-thirties. I am seeing a woman who is 35, now.”
I said, “Oh. You are seeing her?”
He said, “Yes, I don’t know if she is my future wife, though.”
I said, “Why not?
He said, “Well, you know, she is nice, smart, a great girl, very selfless, she will do whatever she can to make me happy. Beautiful girl.”
I said, “Are you sleeping with her?”
He said, “Yes, but neither of us have done that before.”
I should state here DJ was married and divorced the year before, by never “done that before”, he meant having sex outside of a monogamous relationship.
I said, “I worry you are going to break her heart.”
He said, “I know . . . I know.”
Me, “Why don’t you think she may be your future wife?”
Him, “You know, she wears too much make-up and sometimes she has pimples.”
Me, “So you are looking for someone perfect. You are looking for someone that doesn’t have any flaws.”
DJ, “Well . . . I am looking for something better.”
(Shake my head)
DJ, “Hey, I am being real with you.”
Me, “I know . . . I know you are.”
DJ, “Does Abe watch porn?”
Me, “He says he doesn’t. Do you?”
DJ, “I try not to. I am a man of God so I struggle with it. It isn’t easy for me like it is for other people. It hurts me and my spirit. But they recently did a study with butterflies. They put 3 male butterflies and 3 female butterflies in the same container with a robot butterfly with brighter colors and bigger designs on her wings. The males humped the robot butterfly until they died.”
He said, “Now, I am going to say something, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings, I just want you think about it. If you got into a guy’s car and it looked like yours, coffee mug on the ground and cigarette butts on the console, would you take him seriously as a mate?”
I thought about it and said, “Probably not, you have a good point.”
He said, “I am just saying, present yourself at the level that you want your mate to be.”
I said, “I hate how dirty my car is.”
He said, “I didn’t want to make you feel bad.”
I said, “No, its ok. You are right.”
I dropped him off and he said, “See you on the next one.”
I hadn’t spoken with Abe since the Perm fiasco, so I called him:
Me: “You need to figure out what is going on. But I don’t believe our relationship is strong. You are out there looking, posting ads for this other girl and it just tells me that even at our best you are still looking.”
Abe: “Do I need to explain this to you?”
Me: “No, I get it. But I married someone I knew wasn’t my soulmate at the time because I thought he would be a good partner. Then somebody came along who I had a deeper connection with and it fucked up everything. I don’t want to go through that again and I don’t want to see you go through that. You need to figure out what you want and if you definitely want me for the rest of your life before we continue. You need to do some soul searching.”
Abe: “But how do I do that?”
Me: “You have to figure it out on your own. I have told you lots of things.”
Abe: “And I listen and think about all of them.”
Me: “Yes, but it doesn’t really help because only you know whats going on, only you know what more you want, you have to answer all those questions on your own so you can be happy. And I just want you to be happy, no matter what, even if its without me.”
Abe: “Thank you.”
Me: “You’re welcome. And I have to figure out how to save myself and get stable so I can be a better partner. Go date other girls, have sex with them if you have to, just stay protected and safe and then let me know if you still want to be with me.”
Abe: “That’s pretty bold of you to tell me to go with other girls. Is that what YOU want to do?”
Me: “I have been doing it, for most of my life. If you asked me last month to give it all up and commit myself to you entirely, for the rest of my life, I would say, ‘Yes, absolutely.’ But now, we feel shaky, and I don’t think I can invest in that until you can say that to me.”
Abe: “Ok. Well, let me think on that.”
I had one more day off before a laborious week of babysitting, Edible Arrangements and Doggie Daycare.
So I decided to take Frank, who sounded depressed, and my three dogs to the dog beach in Huntington Beach.
We got in the car and had our usual musical pish posh with one another, exchanging stories about old lovers and past lives.
When we arrived to Dog Beach, the sun was setting, but it was gorgeous. I played frisbee with Esther and Brad was charging at most of the small dogs and circling around them in playful fury. Every time I tossed the frisbee for Esther, Brad would pound out some enthusiastic barks until Esther caught it.
Maggie had to stay on the leash because, how shall I say it . . . sometimes she doesn’t like other dogs.
I asked Frank, “Can you take a picture? My phone is dead.”
He said, “It won’t turn out on my iPhone. Just . . . enjoy the moment.”
I decided to run Maggie down the beach with me, just her and me, while Frank stayed with Esther and Brad.
I grabbed Maggie and we ran, my old lady ran like the wind with me, panting through her long, pink, pit bull tongue, smiling at me, wearing her new flowered collar, and we ran.
I saw the sun setting through the clouds on the ocean, like a yolk breaking through the shell. The water felt level with my face, as we ran.
I heard her panting and I heard lungs flush. Everything else drowned out under the waves.
I looked behind us, and there was Esther clutching her big red frisbee in her mouth and Brad. Frank was left far behind on the horizon, holding his sandals.
I laughed. We all ran and I realized this was one of the best moments of my life.
When ever I have one of these, I like to think, “Now, if I killed myself way back when, I never would have this moment.”
We ran together as a pack until the sand became rocky, and the yolk spilled into the ocean.
One pack, one soul.
We turned back to join Frank and decided to pick up Thai food and watch a movie.
When we got back to his place, spilled wet dog and sand all over his couch, I poured myself a generous glass of wine and he touched my cheek.
I gave him the look.
He said, “Yes, I am touching you.”
I said, “Why?”
We put on Amy Winehouse at Porchester Hall London 2007 and watched her quietly cringe after each number then drink. We asserted some safe chit chat in between.
I asked, “There will be two days where I am working Edible Arrangements in the morning and Doggie Daycare at night. Would it be possible to spend the night with the dogs in between those days to make it easier on all of us? I could take Esther and Brad in the afternoon.”
He said, “When? Valentine’s Day? Nahhh, well, there are a couple women I am kinda feeling out for Valentine’s Day and it would be really awkward if I took a woman back home and you were here. I just want to avoid that.”
I said, “Ok, thats fine. I understand.”
Frank, “Of course, I will probably end up alone on Valentine’s Day and everything would have worked out just fine.”
I said, “I know. But that’s fine, me and the dogs will get through it.”
I realized this afternoon, this night, would have only been complete if I shared it with someone I loved. A partner.
I am ready for a relationship.
The revelation wouldn’t stop the storm that was coming, my mind was going to crumble, but it was just a matter of time. Just a few days. Maybe less.