Archive | December, 2012

Tis The Season.

21 Dec

christmas-2012-moods-of-norway-window I had my heart set on a seriously hot pink tinsel Christmas tree. Well, kinda. I saw one in the “Moods of Norway” window in Beverly Hills and fell in love. I took a photo and searched the internet for any last minute “fuchsia + Xmas + tree” ‘s.  Sold out.

Eh, who needs a tree anyway when there aren’t going to be presents under it or people looking at it! I mentally hoisted two middle fingers at the internet. And life.

This Christmas is gonna blow.

I’m not going home to see my family in PA this year, because I am too broke. I can lie to myself and say that it’s because it’s such a hectic season and we wouldn’t really get to spend quality time together anyway, but that’s not it. I just can’t miss all that work and I can’t afford the plane ticket (for the price, I could be going to Paris. Making sense, airlines!). But I’m an adult. This is life. It is what it is, I tell myself, because… I don’t know why. I hate that phrase.

I started feeling like this year wouldn’t be memorable in any way – no tradition, new or old, no celebration, no #@%*# holiday spirit. I know it’s not about parties or trees or gifts or cookies or crackling fireplaces with mulled wine and a golden retriever gnawing on a ham bone, wrapped in red and green tartan ribbon. But somehow I find myself longing for SOMETHING. Maybe a little less LL Bean, but something even vaguely meaningful.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at work. Which means I’m driving around Beverly Hills, getting brainwashed into their Christmas (and Hanukkah) spirit. This is the neighborhood that boasts phrases like “What do you give the city that has everything?!” (The answer is the new performing arts center they’re building), and lines its streets with holiday banners that scream “JOY TO THE HILLS!” Beverly HILLS. Not you, world! Suck iiiiiiit!

Bel Air mansions sparkle with blinding amounts of twinkle lights and when their gates open, wreaths that are as tall as me, part triumphantly in the middle like the Red Sea! Sprawling lawns feature all the reindeer, multiple Santas, entire light up choirs, and palm trees bedazzled all the way to their tops. People bustle through Rodeo Drive, hauling giant bags of Prada, Gucci, and Burberry. And extended families gather in jolly parties at restaurants that serve kids spaghetti and meatballs for $35, as Frank Sinatra belts out the hits.

People with STUFF getting STUFF, and the people with nothing, remaining needy. Is this normal? My eyes go “Pretttttyyyyyy!” And my heart goes limp. What world am I in? Where is the heart and soul of this holiday?

I tried to let it go. This is just not the year for all of the above. It’s simple times. No gift exchanging. No glorious meals. No stupid tree that would have been pink and so amazing just with a string of lights. No loved ones. (No squeezing my nephew who is probably the cutest kid I’ve ever laid eyes on.)

I wanted to mock up a Christmas card to send to everyone I know. A photo of just me, with a holiday sweater and a bottle of whiskey, lying face down in the middle of Sunset Blvd. “Joyeux Nöel. Lauren.”

But as soon as I resigned myself to (what I had named “UGH STOP WHINING ABOUT NOT KNOWING WHAT DAY CHRISTMAS IS”), I began to discover gifts from unexpected places. As it turns out, I have crazy thoughtful, generous friends. And family. In my life.

I don’t know if I have realized it as much as now. When I have nothing to give back to them.

My sister sent me a tiny Christmas tree. With a hilarious rhyming poem she wrote about missing me. Of course I cried. The tree even had a small string of lights and 12 itty bitty wooden ornaments, most of which looked like “rustic Hitler angels” doing things with harps. It’s perfect.

christmas-2012-ornament-hitler-angel

I thought about how lucky I am, for these people — I have no idea why they love me so much, but I’m going with it — and that I can spend this year with Ervin. Last year, I was single and not ready to mingle. And now I have this incredible person to do stuff with. A Christmas Miracle! Even if we’re doing nothing special, we can at least go on a hike or watch TV together. Maybe that tow truck show on Discovery Channel. Those chains always look like they’re gonna break. A little Thai food and a beer…. no. Champagne. This is Christmas, afterall.

Suddenly I was feeling connected to people. And really loved. It’s something I’m missing a lot of the year, in Hollywood. Where I’m spending my time proving I’m worth something, and wondering if I am.

So, I’m passing this gift on to you (It’s not a regift. I’m keeping mine and getting you one just like it). I know this time of year is nutty and there are a lot of heightened expectations and wishes (I’m talking to myself), but really, I hope that you feel loved.

Deep down in your soul.

And then, put some of those cookies and mulled wine on top of that, because if there’s an acceptable time to get your carb on, it is now.

There’s all of January to pretend to go to the gym.

Ima go sit by my tree. Like Andre the Giant on Christmas morning, playing with my little Hitlers.christmas-2012-lil-treeXX,

L

Audition: Absolutely Beautiful.

12 Dec

tobias-funke-auditionThe phrase “MUST BE ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL” in the casting call, threw me off. Great. It’s gonna be me and a bunch of models. My favorite pick-me-up is hanging out with drop dead gorgeous women who don’t get my sense of humor.

It was a national audition for a flower company, for V-Day 2013. I put on my make-up, while thinking “..be absolutely beautiful…”, and then clumsily applied eyeshadow like an earth-toned clown.

There was no script, so I figured I had the “acting” part in the bag. What do beautiful-looking people even have to do, on a normal day? Nothing! Just flit around and soak up the flattery like an airy spongecake.

I arrived at the casting office, happily surprised to find more of a mishmash of people’s interpretations of “beautiful”. One woman wore an off-the-shoulder top (– a risky choice. You never want casting to think you’re a ho. But it was red. Valentines-y.) Another girl wore leggings. Hmm. And another woman, who was clearly 60s+ in the face, wore a long, scraggly dark haired wig to appear to be in the vicinity of my age bracket. “It puts the lotion on its skin…” But mostly, everyone was doing “LA Beautiful”:

Skinny.

I signed in and went for a chair, as a tall, beach-y blonde stepped in front of me. “–Sorry” she said. Like she has never been sorry for anything in her life, ever. I sat down somewhere else.

A woman with a blouse so low her bra was hanging out, left the casting room. Following her, the assistant came out to tell us “We’re just waiting for the director to come back, so… ” 30 minutes went by, as the waiting room became lousy with models. Everyone was running out to plug meters, frantically checking clocks, rescheduling things. Finally, Bra Lady came back. Ah! She’s the casting director. She mumbled something about just having picked up her kid.

— While we all sat there, waiting for her, like diva prisoners.

Then, Bra’z chatted up an actress she knew who just arrived. They hugged and gabbed in low mumbles, as the rest of us checked our phones. Tic-toc.

I had to get to my job by 5:15.

Another casting director poked her head into the casting room and chatted up the assistant. “Hiiiii! I know you’re backed up, but blah blah blah ber blah blah hahahaha blah blah. M’kay.” She sneezed in the room, then left. Yum.

Finally, they took us all into the room for a group explanation of what we would be doing in the audition. We put on our best “I love whatever you say, Bra’z!” faces. She told us we would be walking into the scene, discovering a flower bouquet, reading the card that comes with it, then sellin’ our reaction to the camera. “For GODSAKES, don’t look at ME. Look at the camera!” she gently demanded.

There were 3 cards we would be opening. Which were pieces of paper that Bra’z had scribbled on. One card was supposed to be from a new boyfriend. One was from a high school sweetheart. One was from a hot and heavy lover. “It should be EASY to pick out which one you’re reading! I mean… (she reads the first one to herself) —yeah! (She silently reads the second) YES, yes, yes… (third). Yes, they’re so – it’s so clear.”

I hoped Bra’z was an amazing writer, because being not-the-person-who-wrote-the-letters, it’s impossible to know what levels of amore we were working with. You couldn’t know for sure which was which, until you had read them all. We would be auditioning, while silently reading one card at a time.

They were running 1 ½ hours behind.

Bra’z friend, who got there later than everyone else in my view, got to go in ahead of all of us. Love iiit! Then it was 3 more girls, then me.

I was so ready! I had my best flower-sniffin face on. I walked in and Bra’z was typing on her laptop. Clickityclickityclickityclickity. The assistant took my picture, I said my name for the camera, and ACTION! Bra’z was still typing.

I walked into the scene, and did this without speaking: My goodness! Look at these gorgeous flowers! For me?? Who could have—? I smelled the bunch of plastic gladiolas as if they were sent from Heaven above. Oh! A card….! I read it. It said “Hey Baby, Let’s let this Valentine’s be our best. XO.” I assumed it was the sexiest reaction. So I gave it to the camera. Oh yeah? You wanna put these plastic flowers all over me, Baby? Yeah? You like that? Ooooh yeah.

Bra’z: “Cut. OK, which card was that.”

Me: “Sexy lover.”

Bra’z: “Yeah, I could tell…!”

I’m so good at acting! We rolled again, with the next card. It said “Baby, It was always gonna be me and you. XO”. High school sweetheart. I toned it down Oh, hey, Buddy! I had no idea you felt — Flowers? You silly boy. Let’s get Starbucks sometime.

Bra’z: “Cut. Who was that.”

Me: “High school sweetheart.”

Bra’z: “Yep! Let’s roll the next one.”

Awesome! I smelled the flowers a third time, and picked up the third card. It read “Heyyyy hot stuff! How about you and me make this the most romantic night of our lives”. SHIT. IT’S SEXY LOVER! SHIT. I already blew my sexy wad. So, in order to make this one look MORE sexy than the other one, I took it over the top. Take me now you half man, half goat! Ride me into the WILD! Let’s sprinkle these flowers over our own graves because we killed ourselves like Romeo and Juliet—

Bra’z: “Cut—“

Me: I wanted first crack at defending myself. “OK, THIS one is Sexy Lover.”

Bra’z: “[GIANT SIGH]… oh my God…! [FACE IN HANDS, RUBBING EYES UNDER GLASSES]…”

Me: I wasn’t going down without a fight. “Haha…well, it’s a little tough to know which one’s which, until—“

Bra’z: “[EXTREMELY LOUD SIGH, THROWS ARMS IN AIR. This has probably happened with everyone so far]… Fine. You did… fine. Thanks.”

Thanks means get out. Now. Her face was back in her hands as I made my exit.

Me: “(Pretending to be totally cool with everything, grab my bag, make a little profesh eye contact and get out fast) Great! Thanks you guys!”

The end.

Technically, it’s not my fault, how it went down. I did what I could. And technically, Bra’z should have posted “Absolutely beautiful, great actress, MUST BE MIND READER” in the casting notice.

I hopped in my car, letting my absolute beauty float away into the sunset, and drove over the hill to my delivery job.

So, now I just wait by the phone for a callback, of course!

(…)

It should be any moment, so…

(…)

XX,

L

Image: Tobias Funke from “Arrested Development” at an audition on the show.

A Little Further South.

10 Dec

ds-original-takeout-grillThis weekend, Ervin and I had to pick up some miniature pecan and apple pies for a party. I love both those kinds of pies, so I was on board for the trip. It was just a little bit south, down Western Ave. Which, from my neighborhood near Griffith Park, looks like the longest, straightest, continuous, uninterrupted street in all of LA. At least that’s what my roommate Chris and I tell each other. And everyone.

We started driving south through Koreatown. The traffic was getting sticky, even on a Sunday. I was instantly irritated. “What is everyone DOING?! GO!” Pedestrians seemed to fling themselves into traffic and somehow all the lights were always red. After the famous “20 minutes” it takes to drive anywhere in LA, we decided to cut through some side streets. Better! I like looking at the neighborhoods anyway. Traffic lightened up. Dogs were hanging out in the shade by parked cars. A kid’s bday party was in full swing inside a bouncy castle in a front yard. We passed a sign for “Good Soul Food: Home Of The Famous Quick-n-Split Burger” and I began to notice that everyone was wearing the same thing: an actual ass. Like, bubble butts galore.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Hollywood anymore.

While Ervin looks (and is) Puerto Rican, I am glaringly white, despite years of wishing for a tan-er complexion. (I’d even take “mother of pearl”). I felt bad about feeling a little conspicuous in the car, but then again, we were nearing rap-song-lyric universe. Sandwiched in between Inglewood and Compton. Which you’re familiar with, if you’ve ever heard Snoop (ugh, what does he call himself now? Snoop Lion?), Notorious BIG, or 2PAC. Here, get in the mood.

Confession: I love the rap and the hip hop. Second confession: I am ignorant about these neighborhoods in real life. It’s one thing to jam out to “Rollin down the street, smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice…laid back… with my mind on my money and my money on my mind” by myself in the car. It’s another thing to actually do that. I’m pretty sure they’re not joking about shooting each other.

SO, with all that “information” swirling around in my head (– ok, mainly it was song lyrics and scenes from End Of Watch), we continued past older black women, driving Cadillacs in impossibly chic Sunday style, a dollar store called “Wuz Up!”, and a party with an actual marching band in the front yard. We arrived at D’s Original Take Out Grill. I had this feeling that we’d seem annoyingly preppy, asking to pick up pies we weren’t even going to eat. I felt like I was canceling out any of Ervin’s street cred, like a Caucasian black hole.

“HEY! COME ON IN!” holy shit this lady is SO…. uh…NICE! Where are the gold teeth and the semi automatic weapons, Snoop promised me? The kitchen smelled like fried chicken and cinnamon. “The pies need to cool off, so why don’t you sit down at a table!” Wendy, one of the owners, has the biggest smile in all of LA.

The restaurant wasn’t open yet, so I took a look around. I noticed a picture of Damon, the owner and chef, with Flav-a-Flav. I silently calculated the awesomeness of being 2 degrees from Flav. Win.

It wasn’t long before a friend came to the front door. Wendy unlocked it and let him in. “I am HERE, for the bread pudding! You said you were doing it on Sunday and it IS Sunday!” He laughed a lot and picked up a giant order of freshly baked bread pudding. His Mom used to make it and since has passed. He says D’s does it different, and just as good.

A few moments later, as Ervin and I were chatting up Bread Pudding, Damon came out of the kitchen with a plate full of their famous “Crack Wings”. If you’ve bought their sauces at Whole Foods, or seen these wings on TV, they are worth the hype. Ginger Honey Mustard, and I’m gonna say yes – totally full of crack and now I’m addicted to them. We stripped every bone on that plate. I was like a wild hyena.

And then Damon served up another sample… Vanilla Cognac Bread Pudding. I have to say, “sample size” there is a full-on giant plate. And this bread pudding will haunt me for the rest of my life. It’s made with fresh French rolls, instead of stale bread, so it’s light, it’s warm, it’s friggin amazing. I wanted to hug it forever. Curl up and watch a movie with it. Take it home to meet my parents.

I was disappointed when the pies were ready to go. UGH! We have to leave??? I wanna sit at a table here, eat 10x my weight, and see who stops by!

Wendy and Damon are the greatest people I’ve met in a while. Call ahead to make sure they’re open, and not working on a catering order. And FYI, the bread pudding is seasonal and won’t last forever, because I’m planning on eating most of it.

I can tell you, I’m not so hesitant to make a trip south of Hollywood anymore. These two are lovely and real and everyone I met that day has a spirit that was so refreshing to share. Something that’s missing for me, in the heart of Hollywood. Where we can forget how important it is, to truly connect with people. Maybe someone different than ourselves. There’s something so simple about good food and good people, on a Sunday afternoon.

I like this kind of unexpected magic, this time of year.

XX,

L

Park It.

6 Dec

parking-meter-sunglassesThe other day, I was at 24Hr Fitness in Burbank, completing my new hire orientation to be a kickboxing instructor. If I’m gonna sweat my butt off anyway, why not be minimally compensated for it!

The orientation went longer than I expected, and I wondered whether my stretchy pants tank top thing would become just a lame “look” and never be sweated in. My instructor friend Melissa walked past me and invited me to her spin class.

Me: “Oh cool!” (I’ve only spun one other time. I tried to not sound like that). “When is it?”

Her: “Now!”

Me: “Can idiot non-bike-riders take it?”

Her: “Yeah! It’s awesome.”

I jumped on a stationary bike and my ass was immediately sore. My seat was set up perfectly. What the–-. I imitated everyone else, trying to work hard, but not bruise my butt cheeks. I patted my face with my towel at the same time my classmates did.

Half way thru the class, I remembered I parked in a 2-hour zone on the street. It had been almost 3 hours since I parked. Oh, balls. Do I get off the bike and run out and find the ticket that’s already there anyway, and ruin my workout? Or, do I leave now in the hopes that the parking patrol hasn’t driven by. They are RE-LENT-LESS in the city of Los Angeles.

I decided to will the parking patrol not to drive by for 30 more minutes. A total risk.

I cycled over a few fake mountains, and sweated out the coffee I had that morning, everyone else’s coffee, and then a portion of my brain.

The class was over (it was AWESOME, ps. My butt is still sore.) and I speed-walked outside to find my car and get a quick look at my windshield.

No ticket! HA! A Christmas miracle!

$70 sigh of relief. I hopped in my lil Honda and drove to my apartment for a quick shower.

Then it was off to LA Studios to record voices for LAIKA’s next feature film. I LOVE getting to do this. I’m just the reader in the sessions (I cover all the parts, but the one being recorded), but the people recording are famous.

It’s awesome to watch how they work and hear their takes on the characters. I soak it up like a sponge that wants to be an actor.

After the goodbye-great-working-together hugs, I was back in my car, in some seriously slow rush hour traffic by the 101.

Ervin and I are on SUPERBUDGE(t), so we agreed to meet up for happy hour tacos at Cabo Cantina. It’s like a Gringo Mexican taco hut, in the middle of Hollywood Blvd. And on Tuesdays, they do all-you-can-eat tacos for $5.

Brilliant! I thought to myself.  I can eat like a million tacos any time of day.

When we arrived, I made a pit stop at the ladies’ room to wash my hands. A giant dude threw open the door just as I was reaching for it, saying “DAYYYYYYYUM that shit is ripe in there! WOOOO-EEEEEE. I couldn’t even get my doobie rolled, that shit is rank!” See? It’s a nice place.

I held my breath and went in for a quick hand scrub. Later on, by the smell of things, he got his doobie rolled on the street.

After we were full of tacos, we walked back to my car.

My… car.

— was… right….th—

“OMG my car’s gone.”

Ervin and I looked at the parking signs. I had read them THREE TIMES, and decided it was ok to park. Even reading them again, I didn’t understand why my car would have been towed.

We figured, out of the 4 signs I had to decipher (welcome to Hollywood!), I had misread one of them. I read it top to bottom, instead of left to right. Which made a difference for the “6pm” part of the timeframe.

F.

I called the number on the sign. Office closed. Ervin called the tow companies in Hollywood and we found my car. 10 blocks away. We hoofed it over there to get it, so they wouldn’t charge me any extra time.

We walked the streets in total silence. Past all the tourists, past the people pushing grocery carts. Into a desolate area off of Santa Monica Boulevard.

I walked up to the counter. No hello, just “Which car are you picking up?” It’s like the DMV if everyone hated each other from the very start.

I rode in a tiny golf cart (with a slack seatbelt fastened across my lap), to my car, and got in. There was a parking ticket on the windshield.

I took the ticket and my car’s registration, to the counter.

“Credit or debit.” She slid the receipt toward me.

$114 for the tow. Storage for 1 day $35. Release fee $115. That, plus some LA county fees, and the additional parking ticket I’d have to pay on my own: $350 total.

All for less than 2 hours of actual parking, less than 3 hours of “storage”, and for $5 worth of STUPID HAPPY HOUR TACOS IN AN EFFORT TO SAVE MONEY AND STILL GO OUT FOR A COUPLE HOURS AFTER A LONG DAY OF WORK.

I handed her my debit card and my eyes turned to water. I could have murdered someone right then. I was shaking as I got in the car, where I lost it completely. The lights of Hollywood Blvd blurred in the tears hanging off my eyelashes.

I was mad at myself for misreading the parking signs. They are famously difficult to understand, but I make it a point to read them aloud to myself, before leaving my car. A few times. How could I have messed this up. Why didn’t that stupid valet guy, who watched me park there, say something! This is a scam!

The LA Parking Patrol should have a contest for a slogan. I think my previous suggestion was “We’ve Got You By The Balls”, or “I’ve Just Been F’d Up The A** By LA County”. But maybe “You’re Doing It Wrong” would lend more focus to their mission in the community. It’s incredible that every street in LA isn’t paved with gold, with all the money they’ve brought in – even just from me.

Later at Ervin’s apartment, I sat on the sofa in the dark and thought about how that money could have been used for ANYTHING better. There’s a reason I haven’t spent $350 on the Frye boots I really really really want. It’s because I don’t have it!

And now I really don’t have it. AND, no boots to show for it.

Well. I am grateful (see I can do it, even in this situation) for not getting the ticket earlier in the day. Things would have SUPER sucked, then.

Today, I’m working a double shift at the delivery job. And hoping one of these affluent bastards accidentally tips me $355.

$350 for having my car kidnapped and held hostage.

And $5 for taco damages to my soul.

XX,

L

A Different Kind of Grateful.

3 Dec

mary-tyler-moore-hatThe guy behind me in line at Starbucks mentioned “I was in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” and I turned around to find a dude in a baseball cap, gray suit jacket and jeans. Disappointed in the lack of cleverly taped body parts, I Googled the All Star cast. Do you know how super hard it is to Google a Drag Queen? The day-to-niteclub transformation eliminates all distinguishing features.

I gave up, and had already looked through Instagram, along with my email, so up popped my Facebook newsfeed. I began to read about what everyone else was doing that day…

“BREAKFAST IN BED WITH MY LOVE!”. A different friend’s new puppy stayed up all nite. Someone else mentioned snow! A promotion! My baby boy! NATIONAL COMMERCIAL BOOKING! Blah blah just used the toilet for the first time! SUCH cute shoes. New car! Vacation! BEST HUBBY EVER! Hot girlfriend! IMPORTANT MEETING CAN’T TELL ANYONE WEEEEEEE! GRATEFUL THIS! GRATEFUL THAT! MONEY! SUCCESS! FORTUNE! TRAVELING!

I AM SO BLESSED AND SUPER FUCKING AWESOME!

My thumb scrolled madly until someone loudly slurred “Tallsrehlatteh, frehhLehhh” and I picked it up, assuming it was my tall soy latte, and not the Drag Queen’s.

I already felt defeated, just reading Facebook status updates about my “friends”. I should be happy for these people, right? I thought about my day ahead. Double shifts at the delivery job. And then back at it tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day… The other night, I delivered dinner to a mansion that’s valued at $26 million. How does someone ever end up with a house like that?

I began to feel frustrated with not having everything other people were grateful for. [Sigh.] Why can’t I have a puppy. Why can’t I afford new fall boots. Why don’t I have this amazing husband who I’ve been married to forever and I can say “Today, one billion years ago, I met the love of my life [TAG HUSBAND’S NAME HERE] who is the absolute best husband and father anyone could ask for!”. Why can’t I have a new baby everyone’s foaming at the mouth over. Why can’t I have an amazing career. Why can’t I have a new house. Why can’t I have a new car to park at my new house. Why can’t I live near my family. Why can’t I act on a TV show like my other actor friends. Why can’t I have money to travel and explore the world. Why can’t I look like a model. Why can’t I be independently wealthy.

WHY CAN’T I BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE! ALL I’M ASKING FOR IS EVERYTHING THEY HAVE BECAUSE THEY LOOK SO HAPPY!

I catch myself momentarily. What. The. F. – is going on with me… I’m downward spiraling into a fake world of hashtag “blessings”.

I was having a good day, just before this. Hot coffee and a Drag Queen. A lovely, simple Hollywood morning. Some other girl in front of me may or may not have been wearing real Louboutins. That’s always fun to figure out…

I thought about being grateful. For things that are in my life already, not all the things that I want and can’t have (they are plenty – one of them is a French Bulldog). Even if they are like the tiniest, f-ing positive things.

In 2013, I’m doing something: signing off of Facebook. For good. It’s just not having the effect I want it to have, on my life. While I’ve gotten to catch up with a few new/old friends, it’s missing all of the authenticity of real friendships. And lately, it’s been a junky catalyst for my freaking out over what I don’t have going on in my life. What I think should be normal for me and what absolutely isn’t normal in my world. And it’s not supposed to be. It’s making me want things I don’t even want. And feel bad about myself because of it. OMG WHY ARE YOU 34 AND NOT DOING ANYTHING WITH YOUR LIFE, YOU IDIOT! — Facebook seems to say.

I think it’s actually going to be a great gift to myself. A little renewed focus on doing my life the way I’m supposed to. Finding my own way, at my own pace, in my own direction. And to be grateful, simply for that.

XX,

L

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