Sleepless in L.A.


Amidst all the drama with my “roommate”- I had gotten a call out of the blue one afternoon.

On my 10 minute break, I checked my email and saw:
Acceptance at Antioch L.A.

My heart sped up as I opened the email:

“This email follows up my earlier phone message; I’m sorry I missed you.  I’m delighted to advance you from the wait list and offer you admission to the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles for Summer/Fall 2012, which begins with the June 14-23, 2012 MFA Residency.  You’ll need to show up on campus by 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 14th, for New MFA Student Orientation.”

Was this happening? I was going to have both dreams come true?

It was hard to feel anything but joy coming out of all this turmoil and frustration. It was odd.

Abe was sad. Dora was pissed. Everything was happening faster than I could process.

I called immediately to accept admission pending financial aid. Shortly there after, I found out financial aid would cover all but the final semester. GOOD ENOUGH!

I called my mother and said, “Hi Mom, guess what? I got into Antioch.”

Silence.

Mom, “Well, how are you going to pull that off?”

Me, “Jesus, it’s one of the top five writing programs in the country. AREN’T YOU IMPRESSED YET? What do I have to do? Pull a rabbit out of my ass?”

 

 

My mother chuckled from her stomach then stopped herself, “You know . . . you can get nasty and you have a quick tongue. Watch that. Now, (baby talk) That’s my little baby. I am so proud of her. She’s mommy’s baby.”

Me, “See? THAT’S what I called for.”

Everything was falling in place. Once I got back from Paris, I would have less than two weeks to get back to LA. Not enough time to secure a place for the dogs. My parents agreed to hold on to them for the 10 day residency, I could look for a place before and after the residency and come back if nothing surfaces.

I needed to get my paperwork in for the France gig, writing samples/financial aid/admissions stuff in to Antioch and above all, make more money.

Late one night, I was trying to select a writing sample to workshop during residency, and I asked Abe:

Me, “Can you read my samples and tell me which one to use?”

Abe, “Yeah yeah yeah.”

Me, “I really need to pick one ASAP . . . I watched your student films.”

Abe, “Yeah, but my student films suck. I made them. They sucked and it was easy.”

I laughed. He was an underachiever but it compliments me well. I don’t need him to be great at anything. I just need a little help and a little love- then I can grow higher than anyone could ever imagine.

He could stay low to the ground, and make sure my roots were fed, my soil turned all the while watching me reach for the sun.

He stayed up late while I slept and felt anything mentioning drugs, sex or my period might make me look bad to my writing peers. Of course, that sums up the majority of my writing.

It was good to have someone close. I wasn’t sleeping much and I was tired all the time. He and Brad stayed awake over me while I drifted through 4 hour slumbers.

***

I booked my last commercial background job with that booking agent.

Perhaps you remember the friction we had with the complaint she received that I brought my “boyfriend” to set. I had worked for this agent for over two years, reliably, and assumed everything would settle down once she got her period again.

My call for the commercial gig was 6am on my first day off of Doggie Daycare. It was no surprise that I slept through my alarm (which I never do) the Sunday after my apartment was flooded. I was exhausted from working, moving, getting in everything I needed to do, and living on only a few hours sleep at a time.

 

Amazingly, I made it to set only 30 minutes late.

I followed a young man in who was a little taller than me and blond.

When he checked in, the Agent shook her head and said, “You’re late!”

He said, “I know. I got lost in the parking garage.”

Of course, he didn’t. He followed me into the parking garage.

When I stepped up, her head shook even more violently.

I said, “I am late, I know. I am sorry. There is no excuse.”

She said, “You get a new check-in number, because you’re late.”

I said, “Ok” and apologized again.

She said, “Whatever. You people stroll in 30 minutes late . . . just go. Please.“

I bowed out of line with my paperwork.

I tend to think people are harder on women. They seek a more emotional reaction, and when they don’t get one, they push. Perhaps that’s why women who are most successful at business (Hillary Rodham Clinton, Anna Wintour) appear so cold. It stops people from baiting them emotionally.

The blond boy who was late skated right by without conversation or guilt. I, on the other hand, was forced to stand there and listen to a repetition of the obvious and undergo assignment of a new check-in number.

Its not a big deal. I went about my day and wardrobe put me in a jumper that reminded me very much of Catholic school. It didn’t help I hadn’t shaved my legs in several days. I still got a massage from my fellow background actor and he didn’t notice or feel the fuzz growing on my legs. It had surpassed the prickly porcupine stage and was growing long enough to become one with my skin.

 

 

My armpit hair was no better, and I had absolutely no make-up on me. It didn’t matter, I was still approached by men, still touched, numbers and facebooks were exchanged. I wonder if my scent, even on my hair follicles, is really the powerhouse behind the attraction. I don’t find myself physically attractive, and on this hag-tastic Sunday morning, I was a hygienic mess. The men still came to me without provocation, even as my head stayed buried in a book almost the entire time.

When the day wound down, I got a call from Trent that he was stuck in Coachella and needed a ride. I told him I would go out and pick him up at midnight. I was in good spirits, but forgot I had 3 hours sleep and was working a 12 hour day.

 

 

So when the day ended, and Abe offered to meet me in Pomona to take over driving to Coachella so I wouldn’t fall asleep at the wheel, two very disturbing things happened while I was waiting in Pomona:

A) Trent called to say that he was fine and didn’t need a ride afterall

B) I realized I lost my eye glasses on set after tearing apart my car at a Stotler Bros.

Abe made me sit down and eat halves of a sandwich he prepared, gave me some ganja and took me back to his home.

I quickly emailed my booking agent:

She wrote back: “I will ask tomorrow“

I thanked her.

Late the next day, I emailed again: “Any word?”

She wrote back: “Perhaps you should have reminded me first thing in morning.. you were too busy to remember your bag.. and I was too busy to remember to see if someone found it 😦 Where exactly did you leave it?”

I wrote: “I didn’t want to bother you when I knew you would be busy on the second day of this shoot. I think I left it in one of the changing rooms or port-o-potties. I thought I took it but its missing since I left set. Hopefully someone found it, my eye glasses are in there. Ugh.”

After no word on that second day, per her advice I sent another email on the third day:

Me: “Shooting you another email since it’s first thing in the morning.

Hope you have a great day!”

She wrote: “Pretty sure they have it… they are downtown today. If I get to confirmation, are you able to pick it up?”

Me: “I work 2-10 south of Glendale.

I can send someone to pick up for before 4pm.”

THEN . . . I get this:

Booking Agent: “You know.. you REALLY created a big problem for me.. I was told NOT to work you, as you know,, so with 200 people I thought I would slip you under the radar.. so then you show up late and I had to write you in in a new spot, so you stand out and need to be retyped and now this… I am very unhappy about this!!! “

Me: “I can pick up wherever it’s convenient tomorrow morning.

I apologize for the inconvenience and will do everything in my power to make this as easy as possible for all parties involved.”

Another day passed, and I decided to let this bitch have it.

I was tired of tiptoeing around her waist with my lips fastened to her ass. I was going to France and I was tired of being treated like shit just because I am an actor.

Me: “I have been working for you since November 2009. I was late once to an audience gig at Fox in 2010 due to a flat tire and once more this past Sunday. I don’t like giving excuses but I also don’t like the implication that I have been grossly irresponsible working for you.

I have been working for you 2 1/2 years and the only incidents have been a complaint from that Auto-Injector commercial (which I still feel is uncalled for and explained why) and being a little late to set Sunday because I was so exhausted from my other job and having to evacuate my flooded apt with my 3 dogs and move to a motel that I slept through my alarm.

It happens to the best of us. I wish you trusted me enough after all the work I have done for you to give me some credibility and not jump to the worst character conclusions, but that is your decision.

I guess my pay for this Sunday job will cover a new pair of eye glasses since no one can be bothered to hold them for me.

I truly did enjoy working for you, so thank you for all those great gigs the last couple years.”

 

OK, I didn’t exactly let her have it. I just told her what I thought as politely as possible.

 

She wrote back: “I HAVE HAD 6 EMAILS ABOUT THIS WITH THE CASTING AGENT WHO BOOKED YOU ASKING HER TO FOLLOW UP… THEY HAVE CALLED THE PRODUCER TWICE AND HE HAS BEEN A LITTLE PREOCCUPIED WITH THE JOB TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR BAG… I HAVE BEEN BERATED FOR NOT LETTING THIS GO BUT TO ASK THEM 4 TIMES ALREADY ABOUT THIS..

HOW DARE YOU PUT THIS AS I AM NOT FOLLOWING UP? AND YOU STILL NOT UNDERSTANDING ABOUT YOUR BOYFRIEND BEING ON SET AND GOING TO THE PRODUCTION TRAILER AND SOLICITING WORK BUT SAYING POOR ME, I’VE JUST BEEN A LITTLE LATE.. I WAS TOLD NOT TO USE YOU AGAIN!!! AND I DID.. AND NOW THIS…SO I’M NOT ONLY GETTING CHASTISED ON THAT END AND NOW BY YOU…”

 

This bitch was out of her fucking mind! I am sure the Auto-Injector Production called all the production houses in Los Angeles and told them, never use this girl .  . . never ever book her in background because she will bring her boyfriend to set (Which I did NOT). Ridiculous!

This booking agent knew, and so did I, that the business is full of finicky people with 48 hour memories. No one cared about who was standing in the back of a 200 person call- as long as I showed up and looked pretty.

That’s why I became an actress in the first place!

Me: “Standing up for myself is not chastising you.

I truly did enjoy the work and I genuinely thank you.”

She then sent me the contact info for where my glasses were held. That was the last I heard from her. I assumed she took me off the list for commercial work, not that it matters anymore. I will be gone indefinitely.

***

Once I cut ties from Background, another opportunity arose. What does the Reverend Mother say when Maria is excused from the convent in ‘Sound of Music’: “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

I have been finding that to be infinitely true the last year.

I got a ping from my old pal, Mr. On The Right. Fellow actor and ex-suitor.

He wrote: OK. You know how the radio morning shows occasionally have a gal call up saying she’s having problems with her boyfriend (or vice versa) and they call the boyfriend to talk about their problems on the air?

Well I just found out that they’re pretty much all fake / bullshit. I know this because I just did one. My improv friend had done a few and suggested me, so we did a “scene” this morning on the phone with some Florida radio station.

8:39 AM me: hahahaha

8:40 AM Him: It was all pre-recorded. the scene was that we went on a date and I never called her and she wanted to know why.
8:41 AM anyways, it was lots of fun. And 40 bucks per call. I would like to refer YOU. They would LOVE you. Thing is… obviously it’s over the phone and your phone would need to work.

(*I didn’t have reception in Sylmar)

me: Yeah . . .
well if we schedule it, I can drive down the hill
and talk on the phone

I spoke with a new booking agent, one who booked actors to improvise morning show couple’s counseling over petty or dramatic matters. We spoke over the phone and eventually she booked me on about 6 shows before I left Los Angeles.

My first morning, I had a call at 6am to the East Coast, then another call at 7:20am from the South. The male actor (in this case, my friend) and I were given a loose outline of our quarrel (ie. he never mows the lawn), the call time, our aliases if any and, most interestingly, a product or business to mention during the improvised call.

The first call I mentioned a specific lawn mower I bought my fictional husband for Christmas.

The second call, I was given a local credit union where I found checks written to another woman.

The calls were taped, so the morning DJs guided us through the call with direction and sometimes multiple takes to get something out right. Then it was spliced together and aired for callers to weigh in on who is right and what to do about the couple’s quarrel.

It really is the best job I ever had. With the call being under 30 minutes, and getting paid $40- that in and of itself made it undeniably fantastic. But my favorite part is the improvising, getting emotional, getting angry, getting seductive all while trying to fit in a little one-liner to get the audience chuckling.

Here I was, in my pajamas, sitting in my car at the bottom of the hill in Sylmar where I got reception, nursing a cup of coffee and BITCHING for money. Who knew dream jobs REALLY existed!?!?

Even if I was done with work by 6:30-7am, I was wide awake and running by the time we wrapped. I couldn’t go back to bed. This afforded me more time to write and get things in order for the move, for France and for Antioch.

Needless to say, sleep and food were the last priorities in my day often contributing to dizzy spells. I just had to push through these last two weeks until everything was done and my last day at Doggie Daycare was clocked, then I could sleep.

***

The production house was in Santa Monica and I had to get around the admissions fee somehow, register and get my financial awards letter in.

Abe took me to Santa Monica, since we were seeing the Hollywood Stones (My Stones cover band) in Redondo Beach later that night.

 

 

We drove into misty, beautiful Santa Monica around 5pm. I love it there. The people are rich but not elitist. The streets are clean. There is access to everything you need within a few blocks of the ocean.

If I could live anywhere, it would be Santa Monica. Maybe Venice.

I picked up my glasses from two friendly men at the production house, who I thanked profusely and received a casual “No Problem” in return.

I know it was no problem.

Abe was driving us into town to wait out rush hour after smoking a bowl with me, “Why do people move here .  . . I guess you could ride your bike from work to home. That’s convenient . . . Good for you cyclists. Cycle away.”

Me, “Sorry, I tuned out between your thoughts. All I heard was: Why do people move here .  . . I guess you could ride your bike from work to home. That’s convenient . . . Good for you cyclists. Cycle away.”

Abe, “That was all I said. How could you tune out when you heard everything, unless you tuned out between breaths?”

I laughed.

His cousin made a cannabis iced tea that was easy to drink. I was giggling and stumbled into a Forever 21 to spend money on a dress for the show.

Abe, “You’re high.”

We didn’t have time to return to Sylmar for my mildew dresses- so we stopped and I bought two dresses with a few accessories.

We arrived at Brixton South Bay a little late, and I skipped to the club down wood and sand with Abe dragging behind. I wanted to drink in everything before I left; the Pacific Ocean, the Hollywood Stones and my stoner lover who was spending all the time I ever wanted with me again.

I was happy. I was falling back in love with him . . . and with L.A.

 

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