It was Melissa Fumero’s bday the other day, aka Detective Amy Santiago on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” — one of the funniest shows on TV right now. She posted a pic of her on-set celebrations with bday-bud Kyra Sedgwick, a cake, and a whole mess of cast and crew, with the caption: “Workin at my dream job with my beloved castmates… cake for breakfast… been a pretty amazing birthday so far! #HowDidIGetHere” and I thought — man. I wanna be able to say that. (I know. My dream is an on-set birthday? With a cake I gotta share???!) It’s that *feeling* that I want. And the work. Together. Awesome if there’s also cake.
Then I thought — omg, duh. I had a tiny taste of this a couple weeks ago when I booked a commercial shoot in NYC. ENN WHYYYY CEEEE, BABY! It’s my favorite city in the world (– don’t tell LA, that betch get jellies). I was SO excited to jet-set across the country, and work as an ACTOR.
My plane landed at JFK and some kid behind me exclaimed “I can see the Empire State Building!” (Pause) “And the Golden Gate Bridge!”
No one corrected him. I took a car service into the city, where I swore to myself: “DRIVING IS FOR FOOLS! I SHALL NEVER TOUCH A STEERING WHEEL AGAIN!” I used to love driving. But Los Angeles traffic + delivery job + stick shift = joyless life suck. I prefer to be the passenger. Mindlessly daydreaming, while someone else mans the wheel, flicks the fingers, stops and goes, and pays for gas… ahhhhhh. Living.
After dumping my bags in my hotel room, I took to the streets and walked to my old local 7th Ave Whole Foods from back when I lived in NYC, and got some health junk (Next to “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh. Read it!):The next morning, I woke up to pound out a few miles on the hotel treadmill, then grab a power bar at Duane Reade. Still pretending to be healthy.
We had acting rehearsal in Queens, then, what-the-what?? My PARENTS CAME TO VISIT! You guys. I never get to see them. Instead of being 3,000 miles away from each other, we were separated by lil ole New Jersey. I had the evening off, so they hopped an Amtrak, to spend the nite with me!We are the coolest. Sunglasses in the dark subway? I mean. Step it up, other people!
My Mom and I were both living in Manhattan on 9/11. She was attending NYU, I was working and pretending to be an adult, just out of art school. It was such a moment to experience in the city, back then. What an incredible memorial to all of those who lost and gave their lives that day.
Everyone is named — carved into the perimeter around each fountain. Everyone. One woman’s inscription read “– and her unborn child”. Our eyes teared up.The water cascades majestically, gracefully, into what seems like an infinite abyss. It’s so perfect. I hoped all the tourists could grasp the gravitas. Even just a little bit.
We walked thru Tribeca to the river, sat on a bench, and enjoyed the Jersey skyline, while my parents dealt with a call about a fraud charge on their credit card.
“No. We did not purchase a subscription to an escort service” my Mom enunciated into her cell. My parents have been happily married since forever, so… “NO. NO ES–CORT SER–VIC–ES.” My Mom said, loud enough for the stranger next to us, but seemingly not loud enough for the phone operator.
I asked my Dad where we should go to get dinner, as I scrolled through Yelp.
Me: “Do you like falafel?”
Dad: “Yes!” I was surprised. “Oh wait. I was thinking of Halibut.”
I imagined a fish called a “falafel”. It still makes me laugh. Wild Alaskan Falafel. Filet of Falafel. “Oh no… cut the line, you caught a Falafel.”
Instead of Mezza platters, we had awe-some NY pizza. The sun sunk into New Jersey, and it was time to hit the sack. I convinced my parents to stay with me in my hotel room, since it was way better than paying $400 to get another room! I had to be up at 5a anyway.
The next morning, bright and early, I hugged the best parents in the world goodbye, and climbed into a van to drive north of the city, to a beautiful, idyllic park. We literally saw a mama and baby deer, nibbling grass in the morning mist, as we approached set. WHAT??!Queen Anne’s Lace for miles. It totally felt like I’d arrived at camp! But where you get paid, someone does your hair and makeup, and there aren’t any visible spiders! We were shooting a commercial for Blue Buffalo dog treats, and it was a blast.Yeah, I never had sweet beet juice at camp… But I went to camp in the 80s. When we had to fight for our lives. I remember one time playing a muddy survival game called “Slaughter”. And that was at a bible camp.
This is Maria! She’s done makeup on SNL. She’s the real deal. She has a killer German accent and her shirt has a giant cat on it. We met in a suped-up Winnebago and got to work.And this is Chester! He was my prize for answering in my audition – when asked if I liked dogs – “I LOVE ‘EM!” I do. The woman I auditioned with answered, “I have one.” (Wrong.)
Chester is a rescue, and this was his first acting job and he was amazing. Look at him! I think between the actors and the trainers, we said his name a BILLION times that day. CHESTER! CHESTER! CHESTERRRRRRRR!! Also he probably ate his weight in treats. He didn’t seem sad about it.And this is gorgeous and talented Katie Morrison, who co-starred with me! — Oops! And we’re drinking the free wine from our hotel. After a successful DAY ONE on set together, we had a little bit of bonding time on the lobby sofa. Minus the dogs.
I made Katie tell me all about her apartment in Brooklyn, and her favorite restaurants and coffeeshops and bars… just trying to live the vicarious life.
The next day, we were back at it in the park. And after a SUPER FUN shoot with all the puppy love you could ask for, we wrapped. I hugged everyone hard, and waved goodbye from my Lincoln car service. Keepin the dream alive for one last ride.
The next morning, I flew out of JFK, promising Ervin I’d bring back a coveted *jelly donut* from Dunkin’ Donuts (which won’t open in LA til 2015!). I furiously Googled “jelly donut airport security” and “dunkin donuts jfk” and found out that YES donuts can pass security and YES there’s a Dunkin’ in my terminal. OMG it was all coming together! Ervin was gonna fall more in love with me than ever before —
Eh… You can’t get me down, jelly donut. I just got a little taste of livin my dream…
I boarded my plane and flew back to LAX just like a real movie star. — In a much bigger plane, with way less leg room, but at least my neighbors weren’t chatting my ear off. Oh, hold up… They brought a sandwich. That’s so smart. OMG it smells delicious. Should I strike up a conversation? Would they offer me a bite?
That’s weird. No. Yeah. That’s too weird…
….Is it weird? I mean… there’s like, no food on this flight. It’s the polite thing to offer. Ugh, seriously — and chips? C’mon, man…
Five hours to go…