28 August 2008
Where do I begin? Days like today are exciting and exhausting all at once.
Darrell was already up and about by the time I rolled out of bed. I’m wondering if he is one of the undead or something. I don’t know how he could spend two weeks trudging through rain forest and climbing a summit (Carstensz Pyramid), travel 15-20 hours home, then stay up late talking to me last night, THEN get up and be making breakfast by the time I woke up. Maybe he has a Red Bull IV drip by his bed or something.
He’s climbed the highest peak on every continent, save for Mount Everest, and I’m sure that’s coming soon. This particular climb was in Papua New Guinea which is in the neighborhood of Australia down there. As you saw in the email of his I posted a few days ago, for 7 days (each way) he trudged through rain forest, mud and muck that was 8 inches deep – and that was just to get to the base camp. There were swarms of bugs that were nasty, aggressive and stinging. No amount of Skin-So-Soft was going to keep these suckers at bay. People were burning leaches off them (although he was spared the leach problem, he said). Altitude sickness was affecting some people. The sanitary conditions were less than enjoyable and people would get sick – Darrell said he went through a LOT of Purell and successfully staved off any major illness. The 8-hour summit climb started at one in the morning. When most of us are comatose, he’s scaling sheer cliffs and traversing 300-foot gorges. WTF?!
To get over raging waters, they had no choice but to cross these log bridges – like those rickety old things built by tribal collectives in 8000 B.C. with missing planks and tattered rope handrails woven out of mammoth hair. Think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and some bridges didn’t even have the side ropes. Crazy!! At one point they met some natives who wouldn’t allow them to cross the bridge because there were no porters on his expedition that had been hired from their tribe. There was a tribesman on the other side of the river with a machete in-hand, ready to cut the bridge down if this matter went unresolved. It cost his expedition $500,000 clack-rubles (or whatever the money is called) to make amends. The currency sounds like a series of rocks, plant leaves, bone shards and dung beetle exoskeletons. Whatever the case, it was about $50 American dollars. It’s good to know the dollar has value somewhere on the planet.
He loved it though. He’s hard-core. Climbing has obviously defined Darrell and his personality in more ways than one. He has some serious focus and determination. I think I’ve been productive the past several weeks, but it seemed to pale in comparison with what Darrell got through this morning. He was like a machine. Clothes sorted out, laundry washed, HUGE stack of mail sorted, bills paid, grocery shopping done, errands run… and this was only what I saw! The man does not dilly-dally.
Darrell has a completely different attitude about money than anyone I know. It seems to flow freely into and out of his life. There are lessons to be learned here, that’s for sure. I asked him what his earning trajectory was… as in, at what point did he accrue the amount of money such that he didn’t have to work anymore if he didn’t want to? How long a period was this? Years? Weeks? Overnight? He drew me a little time line doodle and explained it all to me. While he came into a large sum over time, it wasn’t without YEARS of hard work, slogging along and pinching pennies. Again… lessons to be learned. We talked about my vision board at one point and he said, “Put a few more dollar signs on that thing!”
I asked if, at some point, he’d be driving down the hill and could drop me off at the library so I could get some work done. I wanted to be out of his way for his first day back. He grabbed the keys on the kitchen counter and said, “Here, just take the Beamer.” I think my eyes glazed over with actual, sugary glaze. If I’m remembering correctly, I heard a small chorus of angels singing. No hill to content with on foot today. Aside from the time and energy I would save having a car to use, how generous is it of him to let me drive his BMW?
The trip to the ‘brary was an interesting dichotomy to say the least – here I was with $35 in my checking account, and yet I’m driving a BMW convertible through the Hollywood Hills. Bizarro. You know I was also wearing my sweet new sunglasses too (thanks, John!), even if it meant having to endure wearing my last pair of protein-encrusted contact lenses, as in: science called and they want their Level 9 biohazard lab specimens back. It was worth it. The car is just a thing, mind you… I know this. But there is definitely a different feeling when you pull up into a space and get out of your BMW. Less so in LA since every other person owns a luxury car, but still….. I could do this.
After the library, I finished up some work back at Darrell’s, after which he offered to pick up dinner. That was cool. He’d also gone grocery shopping today, and I said I needed to give him some money for groceries. He said, “Save your money. When you’re sitting in the first row at the Academy Awards, then you can pay me back.” Dang, that is so cool. At dinner, Darrell and I talked a lot about all I’ve been doing in terms of work, industry connections, and so forth. He was relaying his own experience moving to Los Angeles 20-some years ago, giving me a kick in the pants to keep me focused. He listed two or three things to have accomplished by 7:00am, and that I had no excuse for them to go unfinished. He also said, “I expect you will have a job by next Friday.” Darrell doesn’t know me all that well, and yet he has high expectations for me. That’s pretty fantastic. This is the kind of support system I hope I can be for the people in my life. Undeniably, he’s doing pretty well for himself, and now he’s offering me advice and insight. There’s a saying, proverb, old wive’s tale… whatever… that is something to the effect of “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” The Universe is again providing me what I need.
After dinner, I asked if he was awake enough to take me on a mini-tour of some other places. Save for my trip to North Hollywood to see Peter’s show last weekend, my exposure to the area had been limited to a few square miles. I haven’t even been to the ocean yet. They say there’s a big one around here somewhere, but I’ll believe it when I see it for myself. Anyway, Darrell did his best to give me a small guided tour. We went past Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ old house – the one I believe they were living in when Christ incarnate… er… Suri was born. They way the media played it up – and how the public ate it up – you’d have thought it was the second coming. He drove me past Dr. Phil’s house, the tree where Lindsay Lohan wrecked her car last summer driving drunk, another house allegedly owned by J-Lo and Marc Anthony. Wow. Some big places. No surprise there. We were on the north side of Sunset Boulevard. He said there’s a mindset that if you live on the south side of Sunset, with their property values in the paltry $3-4 million dollar range and public sidewalks, that you may as well be living in the projects. Can you imagine the riff-raff walking down the sidewalks in Beverly Hills?! Disgusting.
He drove me by CNN center (where Larry King works), the Kodak Theatre where the Academy Awards take place, and a few other sites of note. We decided to stop by The Abbey in West Hollywood for a beer. This place was ginormous… a very diverse mix of folks, and it was good to see some new faces. We talked more about people I could contact, what I needed to stay focused on. It was a productive evening of conversation, to be sure.
At one point, this woman passed me and I knew I’d seen her perform in something somewhere. I have a fa-REAK-ish-ly photographic memory when it comes to faces, so I knew in two seconds it was an actress I had seen in the original Broadway cast of Legally Blonde, the Musical. It should come as no surprise to people that I’ve seen it twice and love, Love, LOVE it. Light, fluffy, fun, entertaining, escapist night at the theater. It’s Legally Blonde, folks, not Dostoyevsky.
When Darrell and I were leaving, I came face-to-face with her. Super-sized geek that I am (and make no apologies for it), the conversation that follows might be the queerest, dorkiest conversation that has ever taken place in the history of gay nerd-dom. Here is how it went:
Andy: Is your name Nikki?
A: Are you an actor?
A: Legally Blonde?
A: LOVED IT!!!
N: Awww! Thank you!
A: Loved it, loved it, loved it! SO fun!
N: What’s your name?
A: Andy. Nice to meet you. Such a great show.
N: Right? How could anyone not have a good time watching it?! The best time of my life. Truly. Hey, this is my friend Brandon.
A: Brandon, nice to meet you. I’m Andy.
A: (Back to Nikki) So are you working in town?
N: I’m in the tour of A Chorus Line.
A: Oh, is that stopped here now?
N: Yeah, in Costa Mesa. What was name again?
A: Andy. I’m a writer. Here’s my card.
N: Oh, thanks!
A: Great meeting you!
N: Thanks for saying ‘Hi!’
If that’s not word-for-word, it’s pretty damn close. She was sweet, gracious and uber-friendly. Among other things, in Legally Blonde she did this UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE Act 2 opening number called “Whipped Into Shape” which sends me into asthmatic panic just thinking about it. Now she’s Cassie in the national tour of the A Chorus Line revival, so I’m pretty sure she could kick my ass into next year. I LOOOVVVEEEDDD her in Legally Blonde and think there are some fantastic things in her future. When we left, Darrell said, “So did you get her contact info?” Um… derp. No. Lesson learned. I realized on the way home I also forgot to ask her about my friend Jeff Johnson Doherty. He, too, worked on Legally Blonde. I haven’t spoken to Jeff FOREVER. (Jeff, email me!) Well… She was with her friends, and I gave her my card. Wishing her well!