Archive for November, 2008

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Day 99: The girls next door

November 11, 2008

MONDAY
10 November 2008

Even though I’ve lived at Yvonne and Ed’s a while, I JUST discovered that if I go to the side of the house outside, I can see the two beautiful German shepherds that live next door.  There’s a small gap in the fencing/wall where I can reach over and pet them.  Bella and Chocolate.  Sisters.  Dear God, these are two of the most stunning specimens of German shepherd I have ever seen.  Just beautiful.  This is not a great picture (camera phone, you know), but here they are.  Bella on the left, Chocolate on the right.

bellachoc

Look at their faces!!  These dogs are desperate for attention.  A few weeks ago (before moving to WeHo for a short time), I had the privilege of meeting Chocolate out on the street.  She was the sweetest and most gentle creature, and again, so beautiful.  What devastates me is that Chocolate’s owner told me her family really doesn’t have time for these two dogs, which is obvious.

They are kept in gravel-lined pen on the side of the house.  There’s so much dog waste in the pen, they have flies landing on them constantly.  They are never walked, despite the fact that the neighbors have two teenage sons.  Dogs this size need exercise!  Is it any wonder they’re hyper when somebody walks by?  They also need love and affection, evidenced by the fact that Chocolate refused to leave my side that day I met her out on the sidewalk.  FINALLY, someone was paying attention to her!

It confounds me.  I’m not saying the neighbors are bad people, don’t get me wrong.  Like most, they’re just a family trying to get by, raise their kids, live decent lives, etc.  There is no judgment on my part, nor should there be.  Still, if they don’t have time to care for them, why have two big dogs like this?  And they are BIG.  I’m guessing Chocolate is 110 pounds and Bella is probably 100.  Look at their huge paws!  When they jump up on the wall (like in the picture), I get big wet kisses on my hands, arms and face while I’m petting them.  To some extent, I can tell they’re thinking, “What the hell is this guy doing?  Rubbing our heads and haunches and paws?  Scratching our snoots?  We’ve never experienced anything like this before!  Is this how it’s supposed to be?”

Before too long, I’ve got tears streaming down my face because these amazing creatures deserve better living conditions than this.  It further devastates me that I don’t have my own place to live.  Not even for me, but a place where I could give Bella and Chocolate lots of love and attention and exercise, and the family could be relieved of the responsibility they are seemingly unable to handle.  I know… I can’t solve all the world’s problems… that sucks, too.

I’m going to volunteer to walk the dogs for them, but what happens after I leave West Hills?  They’ll go back to confinement, flies and no attention.  Breaks my heart.

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Day 98: Possum eviction

November 11, 2008

SUNDAY
9 November 2008

Today, Yvonne and Ed left for Tahoe for a week.  Before they left, Ed asked if I’d help them with a possum ‘issue.’  See, they have a little kitty-condo in the backyard for their outdoor cat Alpha, and this morning Ed discovered a possum had taken up residence inside of it.  Apparently, he couldn’t get the thing out by banging on the exterior of the box or poking the creature with a stick.  Lazy bastard.  The possum, not Ed.

Being a city boy, the possums I usually see have tire tracks across them.  I wanted to see the thing for myself, thinking I’d see something like this.  What I saw instead was lazy blob of fur… smelly, lethargic and it really could not have cared less that I was present.  He barely moved.  “There’s a reason they call it ‘playing possum,'” Ed said.  Oh yeah.  Right.

So… my charge was to blockade the entryway once the possum was out of there.  Even though Alpha wouldn’t be able to use the condo for a while either, Ed wanted to send the possum the message that it was not to get used to the idea of living in there either.  I checked before I left to walk Tinks.  The thing was still there.  Got back home in the afternoon?  Still there.  Early evening.  Still there.  Dang.  I thought, “Maybe it really IS dead.”  I threw some crab-apples from the ground at the kitty-condo’s plywood siding.  Nothing.  I shook the post.  Nothing.  Dang.  I went online to see if I could learn of any food items that might coax the possum out.  No such luck.

FINALLY, at about 11 o’clock, I thought I’d look again.  I searched the garage for a flashlight, and found one that Ed must’ve bought at an X-Files fan expo.  Seriously, I turned it on and there was a hum like a nuclear reactor had just been activated.  I wasn’t prepared for the .44 Magnum-like kickback.  Anyway, it turns out the lazy-ass possum had left, so I found a board to cover the entryway, but needed something to secure the board, because according to Ed, ‘those bastards are damn crafty.’  I went back into the house en route to the garage again, and the back door had closed.  Thankfully, I knew were Ed and Yvonne hid the spare key, so I went for it… and it wasn’t there.  Oh SNAP.  Locked out of the house, no phone to call anyone, 11 o’clock at night and the spare keys were gone.  Son of a bitch!

I knew Ed and Yvonne were having a neighbor girl watch after feeding Alpha and collecting their mail, and figured she must have the spare keys.  Dang… but where did she live… fart if I know.  What could I do but go knocking on doors?  “Hi, I know you’ve never seen me before, but do you have the keys to that house over there?  Could I have them?  Thanks.”  Yes, this was going to go well…

LUCKILY, my acute sense of observation had seen Shanna (the neighbor girl) walking across the street after meeting with Ed to discuss the particulars of cat feeding, and I lucked out.  Thankfully the family was still awake and I regained passage into the house.  I’m not really sure where I would have gone or what I would have done.  What’re the odds I’d lock myself out of the house the first night Yvonne and Ed are gone, and the spare key is with the girl across the street.  So lame.

So back in the house and back in the garage, I searched for something to secure this board to the kitty-condo.  Bungee cords, twine, electric tape… whatever.  I found some thick string on the back of a shelf.  As I pulled it off, there was a workbench avalanche of assorted tape rolls and hacksaws.  I’m not kidding:  FALLING HACKSAWS!  Hope I’m current on my tetanus shots.

Back at the condo… I was never a boy scout or anything, so it’s not like I have tremendous skills in knot-tying, but I think I managed to shore things up pretty well.  I feel bad for Alpha, though.  He’s gonna be homeless for the next week!  Poor little guy… and he won’t come in the house either…

So… mission accomplished for today.

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Another blackout: Days 85-97

November 10, 2008

Oy.  I’ve lapsed again.  Yes, life is busy and has thrown some curve balls.  To catch up briefly:

Halloween in West Hollywood was an intersting sight.  A quarter of a million people on Santa Monica Boulevard – and not just the gays either, oh no.  Gays, straighties and everyone in between.  There was enough body glitter in use to blanket a small town.  I’m still trying to decipher what someone wearing a doily, suspenders and a strategically placed tube sock is supposed to be, but whatever.  People were there with their families and everyone was having a rip-snorting hedonistic time.  Truth be told, though, my tolerance threshold for drunkenness en masse is pretty low, so about 45 minutes there and I was good to go.

Then of course, there was election night.  An exciting night, but dang, I was glad when that was over.  I was suffering from SERIOUS election fatigue.  The election of Barack Obama is bittersweet for many in California, however, since it was tempered with the passage of Proposition 8.

Apparently, married gays and lesbians have the ability to unravel the fabric of American society, or better yet – destroy the sanctity of marriage as God deemed it so WORLDWIDE.  Well, shit!  When I was in my 7-year relationship a while back, I really wish I knew we wielded that much power while doing unthinkable, aberrant homo stuff like laundry, watching TV or picking up our dog’s crap in the back yard.  Dang!  Missed opportunities.  Apparently, we could have RULED THE WORLD!

So ladies and gentlemen… drum roll please… California’s Proposition 8 will mark the first time in California history that the Constitution has been amended to rescind rights, rather than to grant them.  Yay California voters.  Another first.  “As California goes, so goes the nation,” I heard it said.  Eek.

Maybe during the next election, the same group that sponsored and passed this proposition will rescind my voting rights too, or maybe my right to employment opportunities.  What’s to stop them, really?  They managed to get this one through.  Think it seems far fetched?  I’m not so sure, and I’d bet money (if I had any) that someone is already pondering the argument – someone who, is all likelihood, is a latent, self-hating queer bigger than all the ‘mos in California combined.  You know it!  (Exhibit A:  Larry Craig, right?)

Rocker and uber-lesbian Melissa Etheridge had this to say in an article, which I thought was pretty frackin’ brazilliant:

Okay. So Prop 8 passed. Alright, I get it. 51% of you think that I am a second class citizen. Alright then. So my wife, uh I mean, roommate? Girlfriend? Special lady friend? You are gonna have to help me here because I am not sure what to call her now. Anyways, she and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.

You can read her entire article by clicking this link.

These things take time, though.  Most of the gays I’ve conferred with agree it IS odd that  chickens and other animals – um, the ones eventually slaughtered for food – were given more rights, while the GLBT community had some of theirs removed.  Great.  As long as the chickens on death row are comfy and cozy.  Anyway, it’s kindof a big deal here in California, though, and the gays are refusing to lay down and take it, and by that I mean passage of the amendment, not… oh nevermind.

In other news, I moved back to my cousin Yvonne and her husband Ed’s house in West Hills.  I am grateful they took me back in.  It’s lovely to get a reprieve from worrying about homelessness.  I have until December to get a place, so if you KNOW anyone…  Don’t forget, though:  I’m very powerful…

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Day 84: A Very Brady Bike Ride

November 2, 2008

WEDNESDAY
28 October 2008

I had a meeting today with my seminar small-group coach Troy.  It was an interview of sorts, in that he has a project on which I may be able to help, so this was a chance to learn more about his project and show him some of my mad skillz.  I gathered a few of my corporate samples to show him.  I’m always hesitant to show my corporate work because it is such a completely different animal than feature work.  All the same, most of my projects in that milieu are pretty slick and high-end.  In addition, the budgets I’ve had to work with as a producer in the non-broadcast/industrial video realm have been larger than what most independent producers have to work with.  I’m learning more and more through this Flash Forward class that I have more transferable experience and cachet than I was previously acknowledging, and I’m grateful for this self-discovery.

Yesterday, I had to relinquish Robert the BMW to one of Darrell’s friends who would be using him for a few days.  With that, today became a bike & subway kind of day because I was meeting Troy in North Hollywood.

I haven’t talked about this for a while, and it sounds pretty ridiculous, but my riding acumen on this bike comes in fits and spurts.  Some days I’m super-confident, zipping down the streets, up driveways, down curbs, past gawking tourists.  Other days I’m as wobbly as Jan Brady riding her bike without her glasses (even AFTER Marcia confronted her).  Today was a Jan Brady day…

Let’s start with my bike helmet, and the fact that it looks like a consolation prize won at an 8th grade nerd convention.  I’ve had it forever, and it’s time for an upgrade.  It’s hard to feel like my usual suave and sexy self (ha!) once I’ve stretched the kevlar straps across my face and locked them together.  Today’s helmets are more sleekly designed and fashionable, which are adjectives that are not typically associated with me.  Even so, I’m able to deal with the geek factor because I’ve known people whose lives have likely been saved by their helmets.  Let’s face it, brains smeared on the pavement = not sexy.

On my way to the subway station, I went over a HUGE curb that must’ve been about 9 inches high.  Please don’t ask how I’m able to easily assess – almost unconsciously – this specific unit of measure.  Anyway, after my back tire hit the street, I heard a thud, and noticed the under-seat satchel that holds the bike lock and a spare inner tube had snapped off and was on the ground.  Ugh.  Great.  Another item to carry around in my already over-stuffed backpack.  I’m grateful I heard the thud, though, otherwise I would have arrived at my meeting unable to lock up the bike.

The best moment, however, was when I was riding past a restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.  Since it was a sunny day – what else is new? – this fine, upscale establishment had some shade umbrellas up to protect the delicate patrons out on the patio.  The umbrellas were out in the middle of the sidewalk right in the riding path, AND they were angled at 45-degrees, so it’s not like I could very well duck under them.  I’m not painting a great picture here, I admit, but suffice it to say the damn umbrellas were in my way.  As I was delicately attempting to navigate between one of them on one side and a light post on the other, my shoulder BARELY grazed the umbrella and over it fell.  SOOOO embarrassing.  Truly.

I stopped, parked the bike, and walked back to reset the thing.  This particular umbrella had been protecting a table of 7 or 8 twenty-somethings, all of whom were now looking at me like I had just touched down from the planet Neptune. Their faces were contorted into various shapes of disbelief, repulsion and utter confusion.  It was as if they’d discovered their trust funds had been depleted, I’d keyed all of their cars and was now going to force them all to wear clothes from The Gap.  I could see the wheels turning as they soon looked to one another for what to do next.   I imagined the whispers: “OMG, do we call someone?” or “Don’t look directly at him.” or “Poor people are so clumsy.”

It was one of the more amusing anecdotes from my otherwise busy day.  Oh!  After my meeting with Troy was over, I stayed behind for a while at Panera and saw Tim Allen, the Home Improvement/Santa Clause movies dude.  He parked his car, plugged the meter and, I’m guessing, was just a-walking around NoHo tending to some errands.  So weird to see celebs in their natural habitat.  Perhaps, like me, you are wondering what the hell he’s been up to lately.  Here’s some info about that. There’s actually a Toy Story 3 in the works.  Who knew?

Otherwise, not much more to share today.  The Jan Brady incident had a lasting effect that carried me through the whole day…

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Day 83: Asking for help

November 2, 2008

TUESDAY
28 October 2008

Yesterday’s USPS tale was sufficiently long.  I didn’t get into the story of how late last night, I sent an email to all of the people in my Flash Forward class telling them about my housing and employment situation.  I struggled with that decision most of the day because, well… ALL of us in the class are seeking (or seeking to create) new opportunities, so who am I to single out MY situation and ask for help, you know?  After speaking with my Flash Forward daily check-in buddy, my small group coach, and the class instructor Suzanne – all of whom were supportive of the idea – I sent out the email.  It is not easy asking for help in tough times.  It must be a guy thing, like not wanting to stop and get directions.

The responses I’ve received so far have been supportive though, and I’m grateful for them.  One classmate clearly sensed my hesitancy and wrote back to me, saying “what you discover by reaching out is that there is a huge group of people all ready to help in whatever way possible.  There is strength in reaching out.”  When I spoke to my coach Troy the next day, he said something to the effect of: by asking for help, you empower others because you let them know it’s OK for them to ask for help when they need to do so.  One of the other class coaches sent me back hugz.

So… I’ve asked.  And now just need to allow the results to come to me (while, of course, taking what action I can to keep moving forward).  Still, today I was wiped out – dealing with all that’s on my plate right now is a little draining.  That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as they say.  If that’s true, I must be pretty strong by now, right?  I should try ripping a phone book in half or puncturing a car tire with my teeth…