Archive for October, 2008

h1

Day 82: The USPSWTF

October 31, 2008

MONDAY
27 October 2008

Dear God, what a day.  With so many phone calls, emails, names, numbers, ideas, people, places & things oozing out of my brain, I half-expected to find a word jumble on my pillow this morning.  I knew a lot of my energy today would be trying to wrap what is left of my mind around all of the information downloaded to me over the weekend.  I managed to be pretty successful though, and got through a lot!  I’m not sure I will continue to be as productive, but I’ll sure try.  After all, with no housing at the moment and still seeking gainful employment, I DO have some basic needs to which I must tend.  Food and shelter, anyone?

This was the day, however, when I decided it was time for my own mailing address.  I can’t keep imposing on Darrell to meet me every 3 or 4 days with my mail.  That ain’t right.  I went online to determine what I needed to take to the post office so the process there would be quick and painless.  Lo and behold, I discovered you can now apply and pay for the PO box online, so it simply becomes a matter of taking the application into the post office (along with two forms of ID), getting your keys and voila!  You’re off and running.  Fantastic!

I arrived at the West Hollywood post office with everything in perfect order.  FINALLY!  In another 10 minutes, I could cross this off my list.  Woo-hoo!  The wait in line wasn’t all that long.  The clerk was friendly and reviewed my application to make sure everything was correct.  I handed over my two forms of ID – my shiny new California driver’s license and my U.S. Passport.  It was about 10 seconds later when I think I heard an audible SCREEEEEEEECH as the PO box application process came to an abrupt halt.  “I can only accept one of those as a form of ID,” the clerk informed me.  “The other needs to be a secondary form… a voter registration card, a lease agreement, a work ID.”

HUH??!!  I admit, I didn’t think she was serious at first.  I told her that online at usps.com, there was a page indicating the acceptable forms of ID, and that these were both on the list.  “I know, but the website is wrong.”  OK, then… “Do you have a mortgage statement or a rental agreement with you?”  Of course!  I always carry any and all housing documents on my person, just for special occasions like these.

“What about a corporate ID?  A work ID with your photo?” she asked next.  This was confounding to me – the idea that a corporate photo ID would trump my U.S. passport, even if I worked at, say, Chuck E. Cheese.  Or Eastern Onion.  Or Raging Stallion Studios (imagine THAT company’s holiday party).  In this circumstance, these IDs have more power than my government-issued passport.  Last time I checked, it was the same government that owned the very building I was standing in, and employed the clerk I was speaking with.  I can travel to China wearing a bath towel and a jockstrap as long as I have my driver’s license and passport, but I can’t rent a 3″x5″ post office box in West Hollywood with them.  Can I get a “WTF?!”  Incidentally, I would not be surprised if someone actually HAS walked into that post office in a bath towel and jockstrap at some point.  Remember, we’re in West Hollywood.

“So…” I posited, “with these two forms of government-issued ID, both of which are acceptable as indicated right here on line 5 of my USPS PO box application…” – I pointed to the document for emphasis – “…you still can’t help me?”

“I can’t,” she said.

I took a deep, cleansing breath and tried to go to my happy place.  “Is it just me, or is it completely ridiculous that the information on your website and on this application in front of you doesn’t match what you’re telling me?”  To be clear, I wasn’t mad at her or bitchy with her.  I was matter-of-fact.  She’s just doing her job and giving me the facts as she knows them.  I simply wanted to make sure I wasn’t off my rocker.

“No I hear you, and I get it,” she said.  “Welcome to the United States Post Office, sir.”  Well, that’s reassuring. If I’m not mistaken, this is the same organization that will be delivering my election ballot to the county registrar in the next few days.  Wonderful.

She handed me another list – dated April 2004, FYI – of acceptable forms of secondary ID, and told me if came back today with another one of them, I could go directly to her window without waiting in line again. The only other item I had on the list was my voter registration card back at Darrell’s, buried God-knows-where in one of the boxes I cart from place to place.  I did manage to find it, went back to the post office, and of course, she was on her coffee break.  Internal heavy sigh #1.

Another clerk helped me set up the box and gave me my keys.  I asked to buy some ‘forever’ stamps, and was told she didn’t have those.  More blank staring from me.  “You can buy them in the vending machine outside.  It takes credit cards.”  Internal heavy sigh #2.  If I thought an audible heavy sigh would have gotten me something, I would’ve gone for it.

I did manage to find a helpful manager outside by the vending machine, and told her about the past hour-and-a-half of my life with the USPS.  She said the website changed about a month ago, and they’ve been dealing with situations like mine ever since.  I also pointed out that this conversation was probably happening in every post office, in every state, every single day.  Like the clerk before, she empathized with my frustration, threw up her hands and said, “Welcome to the United States Post Office, sir.”

Is this their slogan now?  Did I miss an advertising campaign?  “Welcome to the United States Post Office” inflected with the tone “We totally suck.”  Time for a new ad agency, wouldn’t you say?

h1

Day 81: Brain… so… tired…

October 31, 2008

SUNDAY
26 October 2008

This morning I woke up early, and the plan was to drive into Burbank to have a coffee and spend a few minutes preparing for the seminar.  I had a Starbucks gift card Hank sent me for my birthday.  Yes, Hank my dog.  Sidebar: I asked my ex how it was possible that Hank’s income was currently exceeding mine, such that he could afford to buy me gifts.  I’m was informed Hank is doing some modeling for Abercrombie & Fitch and also testing a new line of Prada dog booties.  Hmmm.  As photogenic and booty-loving as Hank is, I’m not 100% convinced.  If it’s true, I think I should be netting some of those residuals, right?!  Regardless, I’m grateful for the thoughtful gift.

Anyway, in Burbank I fired up the Verizon GPS to get a 20 on the closest Starbucks.  Unfortunately, all the closest Starbucks that kept coming up were on-site at Disney Studios or on the Warner Brothers lot.  DANGIT!  I can’t get to those.  It’s unfair and downright mean for Verizon to offer them up as suggestions when I can’t access them without a three-picture deal.

I manage to track one down on San Fernando Boulevard, find a rock star parking space, go in to order… and my gift card is gone.  Oh HELL no!  There was still $11 on that thing!  I ordered my tall decaf coffee and sulked for a while before I was seminar-bound.

My friend Tori is one of the coaches in the seminar.  As soon as I walked in she asked how I was holding up.  I talked about my whole housing/employment quagmire and she suggested maybe I need to revise my goal for the seminar, noting I needed to tend to these very basic needs.  I was still exhausted from yesterday, and I know her intentions are for my greatest good, but it wasn’t a conversation I was ready to have at that exact moment.  Unfortunately, it came out something like, “Tori, I am so overwhelmed right now with everything, and spent all day yesterday getting to full speed with this other goal,.  Now you’re asking me to make a complete 180, and I can’t even process that at the moment, so LEAVE OFF!!”  OK, I didn’t say the last little part.  Since she reads people’s energy, she likely sensed I was at my saturation point and didn’t press further, bless her heart.  I took a few deep breaths and did make a point to speak to Suzanne (the seminar leader) before the day’s lectures began.  She helped me make some revisions to my course plan.

Sunday was another amazing seminar day.  One of the highlights for me was the idea that this Hollywood thing is really a big game we should be having fun playing, otherwise why do it?!  Suzanne talked about this in her morning lecture, likening it to playing with our toys when we were kids AND deciding who you want to play with.  Her husband James, a writer and showrunner at Fox who was one of our guest speakers for the day, reiterated it in our small group Q&A with him.  It puts everything I’m doing into a very different perspective, and I’m grateful both Suzanne and James embody this philosophy.  It’s such a great way of thinking about things… and all of life, really.  We are here to enjoy it!  To feel good!  To have fun!  With all their success, they are living examples that it works – and the fact they want to share that energy with other people in the industry is inspiring to me.  Yes, I’m sounding a little like a broken record, but that’s OK.  Sometimes you need to hear something 50 times before it sinks in.

After two days in close quarters with all of these seminar participants… I am more strongly motivated than I have felt in a long, long time.  I’m expecting great things to come out of Flash Forward, and am equally excited to see what everyone else in the class will achieve.  At this point, however, my brain simply can not process any more information.  Quite frankly, I’m amazed I can formulate sentences at this time.  As much as I want to jump into the work tonight, I think I need to sleep and recharge so I don’t crash and burn.

h1

Day 80: Flashing forward

October 30, 2008

SATURDAY
25 October 2008

Today was the first day of my Flash Forward seminar, and it was completely exhilarating.  It is a fascinating group of creative professionals with unbelievable energy and potential, and I know I will learn a lot from each and every one of them.  Today’s topics included clarifying our goals, brainstorming ideas for everyone in the seminar, making requests to other industry pros… and about 1000 more things.  I could write a blog entry 10,000 words long about it.

If I’m remembering correctly, Suzanne Lyons, the class instructor and founder of the Flash Forward Institute, used to work as a coach at Landmark Education, in addition to producing eight films (with a few HUGE projects underway), so the woman knows what she’s talking about.  Plus, Suzanne has an enthusiasm and energy that seems boundless to me.  She speaks very quickly, so you really have to pay attention.  My impression is that she’s so excited and genuinely interested in helping others reach their potential, the words can’t come out fast enough to keep up with her brain!  If you haven’t guessed by now, I have high praise for her.  She’s using her knowledge and background to have success on her own terms, and then turning around and sharing her experiences to lift other people to new heights.  So inspiring.  Suzanne also tells it like it is.  She’s completely authentic, and there is no BS with her.  I love that.

Since I had Robert for the weekend, once I was back in West Hollywood I offered to pick Doug up and go grab a coffee.  We were both hungry so it turned into dinner, and Doug suggested a deli on Beverly Boulevard called Jerry’s.  I’m sorry, I mean Jerry’s Famous Deli.

Still smarting from missing out on the Leonardo DiCaprio at CVS yesterday, imagine my school-girl giddiness walking through the doors of Jerry’s and seeing David Boreanaz sitting at a table watching the game on the TV.  I don’t know what ‘the game’ was, but he was watching it.  Or something.  For the purposes of this blog, it really doesn’t matter.  Of course, my first reaction is immediate hair envy.  Damnit!  The man has good hair.

For those who don’t know, David Boreanaz is an actor known for his roles on television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.  For several years now, he has been starring in a series on Fox called Bones. [In my first draft of this entry, I had typed “Boned’, which is an entirely different kind of series all-together, but that’s for another time.]  Anyway, my cousin Yvonne LOVES Bones and when I was staying at her house we’d watch it together.  I’m curious to see what her reaction is when I told her I sat just TWO TABLES away from him.  It’s like we’re old friends now, right David?  Sure, that’s completely rational…

Yes, I’m new to celebrity sightings, but please allow me some time to adjust.  Yeah, yeah.  Celebs are all over LA, and I know there are a portion of people who sigh heavily and roll their eyes at the newbies talking about seeing one here or there.  Still, I’d venture to say even the most jaded LA resident wouldn’t be a little intrigued if they saw their favorite actor or singer somewhere.  To me it is a physical, perceptual thing: 99.9% of us only ever see celebrities in two dimensions – on a flat piece of paper in a magazine or on a flat TV or movie screen.  Suddenly seeing them in three dimensions, we’re taken aback, like our brain is creating a new neural pathway to try and make sense of what’s different about seeing them this time.  That’s my professional, medical opinion, anyway.  American Journal of Medicine, please feel free to contact my people to arrange an interview.

So please indulge me, because in this story… um… well there really isn’t any more.  David was having dinner with his kids.  And that’s about it.  But it’s still fun to text my friends like Jimmy just asked me to the prom or something:  “OMG, I totally just saw Angel from Buffy eating a ham sandwich!!!  Could you die??!!  I can die now!!”

After the long day, my brain is on total and complete overload, and I want to be fresh for tomorrow’s seminar class, so it’s time for bed.  My Zen moment today came as I was on my way back to West Hollywood from Burbank.  It was another gorgeous, perfect Los Angeles evening, so before leaving the seminar, I put Robert’s top down – which sounds dirty, even though it’s not.  There wasn’t much traffic in Burbank at that time, and as I was driving down Olive Avenue, I looked up and there was a seagull flying overhead.  We were traveling at the same speed in the same direction.  Yes, I was watching for traffic, pedestrians and light posts, but I admit I was mildly mesmerized watching this bird glide along so effortlessly through the night sky.  For one second, I did think, “I hope he doesn’t poop on my face,” but that concern was short-lived.  Of course my next thought was, “I AM that seagull, right?”  His flight was peaceful, quiet and effortless.  Life should be that simple.  It’s good to get a reminder once in a while…

h1

Day 79: One day before

October 30, 2008

FRIDAY
24 October 2008

Today I spent the day finishing up the work I needed to get through for my marketing/networking/strategy seminar that starts tomorrow called Flash Forward.  We were given our first assignment a few weeks ago to be completed before the first class.  Thankfully, this information has been swirling around in my head for so long, the answers came quickly.  I knew what I wanted to get out of the course, who I wanted to pursue as mentors and DEFINITELY that I needed the kick in the pants this course would provide without allowing me to make lame excuses.  In fact, the accountability factor was one of the most appealing the things to me about the class.

As the day progressed, I kept thinking, “I need to go shopping for some foamcore,” because one of the assignments was creating a large Map of Relationships, which is essentially everyone we know in the entertainment industry divided into categories, as well as the extent of our relationship to them – friends, acquaintences, colleagues, people we just met… that sort of thing.

Right as I was thinking it was about time to venture forth on a posterboard quest, Doug sent me a text message saying he’d just seen Leonardo DiCaprio trying on witches hats at the CVS on Santa Monica Boulevard.  DANG!  I never see anyone!  “You will,” he responded.  Then he offered to pick up the supplies I needed for the map bring me the supplies I needed.  How sweet is that?  He also brought some munchies, so we had a little something to eat out on the terrace before it was time for me to get back to work, and get some sleep.  The seminar is 8 hours a day Saturday and Sunday, so I don’t want to be sleepy…

I’ve been looking forward to this seminar for a month.  I am so excited for tomorrow!

h1

Day 78: It’s my birthday [snap] It’s my birthday [snap]

October 24, 2008

THURSDAY
23 October 2008

I’ve never been a huge, “WOO-HOO!!!  It’s my birthday!!  Let’s PAAARRRR-TAAAAAY!!” kind of person.  More often than not, I tend to use the day to take a few deep breaths and reflect about my life in the past year, and what the next 12 months may bring.  Given the recent changes in my life in so many areas, and with a renewed sense that ANYTHING could happen at this point, there was definitely a lot to ponder!

The last week has been busy and pretty emotional – and I haven’t blogged about every single detail.  Some things are just incredibly mundane (“Trimmed my nose hair today!”) or too personal (“Shaved my ****** today!”).  Anyway, the whirlwind of it all caught up with me and I found myself in an incredibly relaxed and Zen state for most of the day.  It’s what I believe every day should feel like, no matter how busy it gets or what the world throws my way.

Doug came over and the plan was to go for a hike in Runyon Canyon Park.  We ended up chatting a little too long, and eventually realized by the time we’d get to the park, it would be dark already.  Instead, we decided to grab some good take-out and bring it back to the house to eat outside on the terrace.  For the first time in my recollection, I could clearly see all the way past Century City to the ocean.  That’s how clear the air was tonight.

As for dinner and the rest of the evening… well… as I say on my “About Me” page, some things are best left unblogged.  This is one of those days that’s just for me.  Suffice it to say, it was a perfect evening all around:  70 degrees, gentle breeze, quiet, stars, candles, wine, good food, even better company and a very special birthday evening I won’t soon forget.  Would that we should all be so lucky to have days like this every day…

h1

Day 77: The Plot Twist

October 24, 2008

WEDNESDAY
22 October 2008

After a generally productive day, I had the privilege of taking Robert out for a drive.  Darrell requested some ‘alone time’ at his own house (the nerve!), and asked if I’d be OK heading out for a while… taking the BMW out to get coffee or something.  Hmm.  Twist my arm.  Ouch.  You don’t have to ask me twice.  Anything to sink my bum into Robert’s buttery leather seats.  I just needed to be back by 7:30 to drive Darrell to the airport.

Ah, Robert.  So loverly, even if he does need a little TLC at the moment.  He has some serious brake squeakage going on, and his key fob is being a little temperamental.  Still, I love him.  That’s just the kind of guy I am… in today’s shattered economy, I’m STILL willing to drive around West Hollywood in a less-than-perfect BMW convertible that’s not mine and accept him for all his temporary mechanical flaws.  If that kind of unconditional love doesn’t reach the deepest corners of your soul and affect you profoundly, I’m not sure anything else I could say would…

I asked Darrell to drive Robert out to LAX because (1) he knows where the hell LAX is and (2) I was confident my granny-style of driving would drive him to the brink.  Hey, when I’m toodling around in a $50,000 car that’s not mine, I tend to err on the side of octogenarian driving technique.  So what if it takes me 25 checks of my blind spots and 12 minutes to make a lane change?  In my care, Robert remains unscathed.

Upon returning from LAX, I checked my email and found I’d been thrown a bit of a curve ball.  Honestly, it felt more like a boulder beaned directly at my cranium.  Without going into all the sordid deets, my housing situation for November is now unavailable.  Jinkies!  So the bottom line is now: I have 11 days to find new housing since I can only stay at Darrell’s until November 2.   I felt the whole dynamic of my situation alter.

I was pretty frustrated at first.  Pissed would not be an understatement.  And the reasons don’t even matter.  Tomorrow is my birthday, and perhaps with age comes perspective.  I’m grateful I realized relatively quickly that the anger and frustration wasn’t going to find me a new place to live.  I sent out this huge email to friends and acquaintances in Los Angeles asking if they had ideas for me, so we’ll see what comes of it.

After more time (and, I admit, a lengthy email venting session), I really did start to feel some peace about it.  Instead of being mad or upset, I would instead choose gratitude.  Gratitude for the opportunity to grow and change.  Gratitude I’m doing my best to make a bummer of a situation into a positive experience.  And gratitude for a better understanding of who I am, and who I want to be.  Eventually, it occurred to me this probably just meant to be.  The Universe is conspiring in my favor, right?  There’s a reason for this hiccup, even if I can’t see or understand it at this moment.  With the right perspective, it’s all good, even the bad stuff.

I do my best in all situations to look at what role I played, and if there was anything I could have done differently.  In events and circumstances leading up to this situation, I realized there were definitely things I sensed at my core – perhaps even subconsciously – that I didn’t act upon, and now I realize I should have.  The particulars don’t matter and aren’t important.  Trust your gut, AJ. This seems to be one of those lessons I need to be taught over and over again.  Maybe all of us do.

I have unbending faith things will work themselves out, and I’m intrigued to see how.  It’s like I’ve just witnessed a plot twist in a good movie, and I’m not sure where that leaves our hero.  Still, I definitely want to keep watching and see how it turns out.

h1

Day 76: Meanwhile, back at the manse…

October 24, 2008

TUESDAY
21 October 2008

Ed and I packed up his SUV this morning – got the bike in there and everything – and he drove me into West Hollywood to Darrell’s house. Aaah, it is lovely to be back at the manse, if only for a short time.

Darrell is having his kitchen counters replaced, so everything’s kinda spread out all over the place.  The silverware is in the pantry, the dishes are in the living room and the closest running water is in the bathroom sink in the hallway around the corner.  The small island in the kitchen is the only place to set dishes, keys or anything else.  It will make for some creative meal prep and clean-up, to be sure.

His new tenant Christoph has also moved into the studio apartment in the lowest level of the house.  This is the cool kind of dude Darrell is:  he essentially told Christoph he can do whatever he wants to the place, aside from any kind of major demolition.  At this point, I can hear Christoph hammering away on what sounds like major construction, and Darrell offered him the use of any unused paint in the garage.  Christoph is keeping the whole project under wraps until it’s complete.  Having seen the ‘before’ version of the apartment, even I’m curious to see what the transformation will look like.

I thought Darrell was leaving tonight for Fort Lauderdale, but he told me it’s actually tomorrow night.  I’m sure he told me the correct date and I just flip-flopped it in my own mind.  Grr.  With that, I felt bad I’d made plans to hang out with another friend tonight, kinda like, “Hey, thanks for the invite to stay here again for free.  I’m all moved in downstairs, so see you later!  Hugz!”  I’m not sure if Darrell had plans for the night or what, but had I not messed up the days in my mind, it would’ve been cool to hang out and catch up.  As I’ve said before, Darrell is very logical & left-brained, whereas I’m the right-brained “ooo, colors, shapes and esoteric things” type, so I like hearing his perspective on my job hunt and my other misadventures thus far.

Darrell was kind enough to drive me down the hill for a business meeting.  My Dreamworks Animation contact had put me in touch with a colleague of his who works at Activision.  I think went pretty well… he was as gracious and generous with his time and feedback as the majority of industry people I’ve met in LA have been.  We chatted a long time, and I was grateful he seemed genuinely interested in learning about why I was here, what I was trying to accomplish in LA and how he might be able to help me move forward.  I left the meeting totally charged, again feeling grateful that these are the types of industry people I am fortunate to keep meeting!

I had dinner with my friend Doug, and for dessert we visited Greenblatt’s Deli, which felt like it was plucked from New York City and dropped down right on Sunset Boulevard.  After a big ol’ piece of chocolate cake – yeah… that healthy food plan I was starting… what happened to that?  – it was time to head home for bed.  Busy day… moving, meeting, cake with enough sugar to induce a diabetic coma, etc… pretty tired at this point.  More tomorrow.