Friday, October 16, 2009

Settling in to Settling

Sometimes it seems hard to write a blog about failing (and succeeding) without sounding like a whiny bitch all the time. "This happened, and then that happened and then this f-ed up shit happened..." you get the idea. Hopefully it's all balanced out with enough perspective, humor, and optimism to make it palatable.*
An acquaintance (okay, so it was my ex-boyfriend's fiancee) recently asked me what I thought was "my soul's intention." That is, the purpose that my consciousness had entered this lower vibrational plane to fulfill. And whether or not I would have phrased it quite that way, it's a question that would have been really easy for me to answer a few years ago. The answer would have been along the lines of wanting my life to be an example and inspiration for other people to do what they love for a living and not settle for anything less. That's something that I felt quite passionate about as a young(er) woman: not settling. For me that meant that I was going to move to LA, be an admired and wealthy actress of the stage and film living in my Richard Neutra dream home, playing in a rock and roll band when I wasn't traveling all around the world, having fabulous dinner parties with my luminary friends, looking fabulous (always) and learning to knit in my spare time. And that's just the short version!
But now I'm 28 and when I look around at my life it seems like along the way I've done a lot of settling for things that were not quite what I had always imagined. It actually turns out that I was willing to settle all along. And although I'm not unhappy ( my general disposition is happy and grateful) I'm definitely aware of the discrepancy between the afore-mentioned not settling lifestyle and the life that I'm actually living. I've also been very aware in the past year or so since I got pregnant and had my baby that what looks like "settling" from the vantage point of 17 or 21 looks like a really fucking nice life at 28.
My priorities have changed...Somewhat.
Because tucked away in there amidst being a really good mama and taking care of the car transmission and the health insurance and the laundry and all the other myriad chores that multiply and shapeshift into other, new important chores is still a desire to perform. A desire to create something. A desire to be recognized for that creation and a desire to be paid ridiculous amounts of money for it as well. Oh, and a desire to look H-O-T while I'm doing it! (Which, in my post-baby world is as daunting as winning an Academy Award. Maybe if you're lucky I'll tell you about why I've now added getting a pornstar bikini wax to my beauty list of To Dos in a future blog.)
But here's the thing. I don't know how to fulfill all those desires and take care of my baby and do the chores and be a good girlfriend and open up an ice cream shop and get enough sleep. Even though I spent 7 years in LA settling for not-quite good enough, it always felt like the possibility of the dream life was still there if I would be willing to step into it. And now I don't have the time or energy to step into anything but sweatpants and hand me down purple Uggs. So what's my soul's intention? I don't know. I'd like to figure it out right now, here with you, but I'm tired and the baby always wakes up at 1am which is just 40 minutes away...
Who asks their fiancee's ex-girlfriend that kind of question anyway?

*1) You will discover that I love footnotes and use them often whether it's appropriate or not. 2) This intro is basically me saying that for the next 5 or 6 paragraphs I fully intend to be a whiny bitch and hopefully you still like me when I'm through.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Meanwhile Back At The Ranch...

It has been an interesting week and a half standing in the cast-off glow of someone in the media spotlight. The main thing that really strikes me about observing Jon-Barrett is that no matter the level of notoriety, the day to day details of life remain essentially unchanged. In the midst of all the hullabaloo we have moved in together, celebrated our daughter's first birthday, hosted two sets of grandparents... oh and my car's transmission died*, the brakes on Jon-Barrett's have failed and both of our bank accounts are currently in overdraft. All of this while he has spent about four or five hours (maybe more) spread out during the day responding to messages and interview requests. It's a good thing he got fired because managing the story of his firing is like a full-time job!
It's good practice, I guess, for being a successful anything but especially an actor/writer. Although at a certain level of success people just tend to hire a personal assistant. But it's not just learning how to run your life and your p.r. at the same time - it's also about learning how to love the good feedback, let go of the bad and not at any point buy into your own hype. It's about accepting that everyone has a life story and a point of view that makes them say things that have nothing to do with you. It's funny that Jon-Barrett and I have been able to begin learning these lessons in a matter of weeks (even with our very full life!) and Jane Adams still hasn't learned it in 24 years of working in Hollywood.

*I bought a used 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid 2 years ago and it's always been a little wonky when it comes to accelerating and deccelerating but I just chalked it up to a new model design flaw. And I never had any real problems with it until last week when my car began shuddering violently while braking and starting from a stopped position and then died completely the next day. I had it towed to the nearby dealership that I brought it from where they proceeded to keep it for 4 days before informing me that it was going to cost $5000 to fix. Yep, that's right, $5000 on a car that I still owe $9000 on. Awesome. So I called another mechanic (to whom I definitely should have taken the car in the first place) who found out that the transmission on my year, make and model had been recalled by Honda for exactly the problem I'd been having and that they would fix it for FREE. He printed out all of the documentation for me and after numerous calls to the now disgruntled service reps at the dealership my transmission is being replaced on Honda's dime. So a big shout out to Dave at 60 Minute Tuneup on Balboa in GH!!! Sometimes really shitty stuff happens in life and just when you're asking "Really? Why would you do this to me Life?" Life steps in and responds, "Just Kidding!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In the eye of a media storm

A wave of chaos is swelling up behind me. I can't quite tell if it is a good thing or a bad thing. It just is. And I am here waiting to see if it will crash on top of me swirling me under until my lungs explode or if I will hop up and enjoy the ride, sipping some sort of tropical beverage adorned with an umbrella. I would be lying if I said that I didn't like all the attention this blip on the interweb radar is bringing me. Hundreds of people so far sharing their support and their "good vibes" to me and my family. I would also be lying if I said I hope this whole thing blows over quickly.

I came to Los Angeles with a dream. I went to school to study theatre and film with a dream. I worked at Barney Greengrass with a dream backing up my every move. With the amount of industry heavies who came in and dined on a regular basis, there was a hope I held onto that somehow someone would help me get closer to my dream. Now, this doesn't mean I was sitting around waiting to be discovered. I would regularly go out on auditions. I would do plays in and around LA. I worked on short films. I took classes. I wrote my own plays. I am producing my own webseries. I submit myself daily to projects and casting directors and agents. I did what a struggling actor/writer in Hollywood is supposed to do, try and sell myself. It was my hope that if or when one of the producers, or directors, or casting directors, or managers, or agents who ate at Barney Greengrass saw me in something they would think, for five seconds, "I know this guy. Where do I know him from?" That five seconds could be all that I needed to help me stand out above the other guy. That was what I WANTED to happen from me working at Barney Greengrass.

What I got instead are thousands of supporters wishing me well and getting my back and a bunch of other people scoffing at how stupid I was to write anything about my work or my customers in the first place. I want to respond to both sides. To those of you who are sharing your feelings of injustice for me, thank you so much! All the messages and retweets make me feel like I did the right thing and make my consequences a little easier to deal with. To the other side, I have to admit that what I did might not have had my own best interest at hand. I did not think anyone, other than the 22 people following me, would read what I tweeted. That was my ignorance to the power of social media. I understand the concerns my management and Barney's corporate had with clientele wanting to shop and eat with discretion. I don't know if being fired was what I deserved, but it happened. I tweeted, I lost my job, I lost my health insurance and I accept that as the consequences to my actions.

This is what my five years at Barney Greengrass has brought me and I honestly wouldn't change it. I have no money, I have to move out of my house and my family and I have to stay at a friends house until I can get back on my feet or until Mimi's ice cream shop opens, I am behind on bills, every restaurant I apply to isn't hiring, but I wouldn't change that. Thousands of people are reading what I write. Any struggling writer would kill for that publicity. In a way I may be killing Jane Adams' reputation, or maybe more people know who she is than ever before. You're welcome Jane.

I have no idea what happens next. I can't even imagine, which is so strange because my entire life has been spent imagining what my entire life would be like and now every day is a new surprise. Not good, not bad, just something new.

For those interested.

I started writing a book four years ago as a way to create my imagined life and prevent catastrophe from happening. The book is about an actor on the verge of success (my imagined life) enjoying the benefits that come with success. He finds out that an ex lover has a five year old child that is his. (I was hoping that writing about it might prevent it. Turns out two years after starting this book Mimi and I had an unexpected pregnancy.) I am going to share a little bit of it. Justin, the main character, just finished a film "Silent Woods" that has the potential to win him acclaim and possible awards. I thought this segment would be appropriate due to Justin's philosophy on tipping.

!Warning! Adult content!

'Marissa is a 19-year-old pop star whose existence is based entirely on the success of her sister. She is marginally talented and completely unoriginal. Her two assets are the size C’s on her tiny-framed body. And for me, her insecurities of not living up to her sister gives me ample opportunity to take advantage of her without emotional remorse. After Clarisse and I broke up, Marissa started sending me letters telling me how lucky I was to get away from her psycho sister. To be honest both of the Donnell sisters are a little off. I think it might be a dirty daddy or dirty uncle complex. She would send me tickets to her shows and invite me to the MTV awards. She was seventeen, and while the image of penetrating that illegal twat tempted the hell out of me and kept me up late at night with visions of her tits in my face, I had to think about my career. If it ever got out that I was fucking a minor even if she was a superstar, it would destroy me. I did not want to be an R Kelley or Rob Lowe. It was actually Tegan who facilitated her and I coming together.

During the gestation period of Silent Woods, he would invite me up to his house off Coldwater Canyon to smoke some herb and talk about the film. We would mostly talk about music and who our dream-leading lady would be and how we would take turns dating her. On one occasion Tegan’s girlfriend Allison, daughter of one of the most influential directors of all time, was swimming in his pool with her friend Marissa. We went outside to smoke and as soon as we got to the pool I was blinded by the sun gleaming off a wet pair of amazing breasts it took me two minutes of staring at before I realized whom they belonged to. Marissa looked up shaded her eyes and screamed “Justin!!” She jumped out of the pool and pressed her wet little body against mine. The four of us spent the day swimming and smoking and I eventually found myself in Tegan’s pool house fucking little Marissa Donnell from behind without hesitation.

“I knew you were going to be there that day. Allison told me Tegan was meeting with you and she invited me over.” I hate the way she acts like she knows everything and always gets what she wants. Her smug little attitude confounds me. I don’t know whether to fuck her or punch her in the face. I’ll probably end up fucking her. I am not that violent of a person. She takes bite of my steak asserting her control over me. Trying to appear aloof, I drink my wine and stare around the restaurant. It’s a hapless venture. Every time Marissa and I meet in New York, we always eat at the same steak house and sit in the same dark secluded booth to keep our relations to ourselves. The only ones that interact with us are the maitre d' and our server who has been working here for the past 15 years taking care of some of the highest profile celebrity and political figures of the time. I am not trying to say that I include myself in this group even though the media would love to know who’s foot is creeping up my leg right now. I am fortunate enough to have met the owner of the restaurant at a party almost a year ago in the Hampton’s.

Marissa drones on about some designer offering to design something for a video or something. I am not quite sure what she is saying. Her voice turns into this dull hum interrupted by her annoying giggle. Is she on her phone or is she talking to me? I haven’t responded in at least twenty minutes. I drift away to this silent corner of my mind. The emptiness consumes me and I feel alone, isolated in this existence. The reality of who I am, what I am doing and whom I am with are just an illusion. They are a piece of a dream I held onto years ago. None of this seems right. Something is missing and I can’t figure out what it is. Everything I have ever wanted is here, right in front of me waiting for me to grab it. Success, money, fame, respect, I have it. I am the master of my world and the course of my existence, yet I am still alone.

Marissa’s foot presses against my dick snapping me out of my contemplation. Looking at her big brown eyes staring back at me as she sips on her Belvedere and cran and feeling the pressure of her foot longingly caress my crotch brings a smile to my face. This is my life. People would die to be where I am. Sometimes we need to control our sub-conscious before it takes control of us. I finish my wine and lean over the table and take her head in my hands and kiss her firmly. “I can taste the wine.” She giggles. I lean to her ear and whisper, “Let’s get the fuck out of here.” I lay down three one hundred dollar bills. I don’t even know how much the check was, but I assume it was less then that. They usually end up at about $150-$200, the rest goes to our gracious hosts. It’s strange how in my life hundreds are the new twenties. I always throw down $300 if I am eating with someone else. Add another $150 for every person at the table.

Only once have I miscalculated. I had dinner with Adam Sandler to discuss a project he was producing. We were going to play brothers from a dysfunctional home who reunite at their father’s funeral only to find out their father’s final wish was for them to follow this crazy treasure map he drew up years ago, filled with clues leading them to his hidden fortune only to find out his fortune was the two of them. Kind of a cheesy family pic with some funny bits of us on the treasure hunt. We bought a couple bottles of wine, dinner, I threw down $300 and we left. The waiter ran out after us. He was embarrassed to tell us that the bill was $325. I gave him two bills and apologized. Adam said something funny and gave him another two bills. The picture didn’t go through. Adam booked the new super hero trilogy, and I got “Silent Woods.”'