Author: Amy Ferguson

The Shakespearian efforts of trying to hide a "Fangirl: Extreme Edition" personality from the PTA that will likely be in vain and eventually a blog post. These are the failures and pop-cultured musings from a fangirl/housewife's brain.

How many plotlines is too many plotlines?

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Here I go. Here’s a whole blog post dedicated to crying about my novel instead of actually writing a novel. I’ve probably whined about this on this blog before but to catch anyone up that is interested, I am writing a novel that is inspired by true events and it is taking me a LONG time to get it out of my head and onto paper. And I’m frustrated. I’m 55,456 words into this thing and I am not near done and I’m all over the place with it and it sucks. And this is where I am.

There are two roadblocks I’m having a hard time ignoring. Because they’re imaginary, I know this. But I can still see them and I’m having a crisis about all of it. The first one is because the basis for the story, the whole point of the story, is based on a really painful, uncomfortable memory, like a real thing with real people that I knew and it’s taken me some time to get over my anger enough to want to explore this event. Even though, I’m making up 70% of everything else. Probably more than that but the characters are originally, somewhat based on real life people that did real life unfriending me on Facebook kind of stuff and I’m real bitter about it, you know? They are mean. So I really want to finish this book because I don’t want to live with some of these people in my brain anymore, I hate them.

So why write a book about them if you hate them, Amy? I can feel you asking me. Well, dear readers, because it’s funny. Which brings me to roadblock #2. I am sitting here trying to foolishly write satire when I am the most unfunny person I know. No one wants to hear me rattle along for 55,456 words. It’s pretentious. And there’s more words that need to come out so it’s even worse than where we currently sit. And reading this back it looks like I’m digging for validation. Well, in fairness, I’m always digging for validation, but that’s not what is happening here. This is a legitimate tantrum I am having with myself and I need to get it out of me so I can just move on and finish this book.

I had thoughts about abandoning this project, but the characters and the storyline just keeps doing stuff when I’m in the shower or in the middle of the night and it’s like that scary, wet girl in The Ring and she won’t leave me alone until I share her with others.

How do I get over my nonsense? Does anyone have any tips? Can I just “blah blah blah” the middle parts with the holes in them? Because that’s what’s there now and I could just be done with the whole thing, close my laptop and have a peaceful life. Maybe I have too many plotlines. What will get me out of this funk?? I know what I need to do. I need to be patient with this beast. I need to continue filling in hole by hole and not be overwhelmed by the big picture. Because I know the plot. I’ve already written the dramatic conflict/resolution scenes, I already have the ending pretty much wrapped up, it’s all the little stuff in the middle and it will end when it ends, I just need to keep filling in the holes and stop worrying about tone and timing and the beat of each individual sentence.

Oh my god, I know what the problem is. I need an audience. I need to be telling a story to somebody. Because writing for me? This is not the story I want to be hearing over and over and over and over. Not because I don’t believe in the story itself, but more because I lived it. Not all of it, but the bad parts. which brings us back to problem #1.

BUT, I think to solve both of my ridiculous made-up problems, I need a beta reader. One who likes me. That’s important. And one who will be willing to beta read chapter by chapter. Like work in progress, fanfiction. Without the smut. Ooh! Should I add smut?! Also, this person must be willing to overlook my typos and stuff.

This beta reader idea solves the second roadblock as well because I’m not thinking about being funny when I’m writing a blog post or a Facebook status update or whatever that I know someone will read. I just write. The idea of writing a book is horrifying because I’m too worried about being perfect. And that’s just not how I write.

Although, how does one even go about getting beta readers? How do I get someone to devote their whole life to following me around and laughing at my bad jokes, while they comb my hair and tell me I’m pretty?

This whole blog post is a mess. Alright, that’s a sign I need to get back to filling holes. Seriously though, if anyone has any answers to any of my annoying questions above, I would love to hear them.

I am also accepting compliments.

Day 28:

I don’t really have a blog post in mind, but I’m coming to say that I’ve been working on my novel which has let me forget about this project. So yay! on the one hand, and boo! on the other. I mean, yay because I’m actually making good on my novel, but boo because I’m so close to the end of this camp nanowrimo question of the day project that I feel like I’m failing. Okay, I have some time so I’ll look up a question on the google and see what happens. Be right back.

Do you talk to yourself? What kinds of things do you discuss?

Source

I am unable to shut up. I mean, there are times when I can’t think of things to contribute to a conversation, but there are a LOT more times when I am unable to stop talking. About everything and usually it’s embarrassing.

If I’m talking to myself, I’m usually either acting in a movie or accepting and award OR I am full on owning someone in a verbal altercation. None of these things have worked out the way I’ve imagined them, but I have to keep sharp.

If I’m talking to other people, I am full on in on a conspiracy theory within minutes. I realize that this places a lot on the shoulders of the people I’m with, but that’s just how I roll.

Conspiracy theories are my favorite, whether I’m full on in or debunking them. There’s so much research and thought that goes into them on both sides, so If you want to or not, I’m usually talking about them to you at a party and asking you questions to gauge what side you’re on. These topics include but are not limited to: the Paul is Dead thing, and if you want my thoughts, it was originally a joke thing that the Beatles, mostly John, decided to play on their fans with help from all kinds of people, including the Stones and then the Manson murders happened and they had to go on record saying that they had never put anything subliminal in any of their songs or records and that was that. But Paul was never dead and replaced for real, but they thought it would be funny to create a theory about it. There is WAY too much evidence to convince me this wasn’t a real hoax. This is my favorite conspiracy and I will talk about it for hours if anyone is interested. What else do I like to drunkenly discuss? Larry Stylinson. It’s real. It just is, look it up. What else? OOH the moon landing!! Okay. This obviously happened but the debunking of the whole thing is fascinating. Also now that I think about it, the whole moon sounding like hollow tin? I’m down with these theories. I don’t believe in them but I’m so interested to hear others that do and why they do. ALSO, 9/11 being an inside job. I’m not 100% sure on where I stand on this because there are things that don’t add up. And I’m seriously on this Russian scam that’s happening now in the US and globally to be honest even though I don’t know that much about what’s happening outside of my own country’s nightmare. But listen, my grandpa was a die-hard democrat who enlisted in the Navy and was yelling about the KGB and the Russians since I’ve known him (he died 2 years ago and got a posthumous letter of gratitude for his service signed by the orange plague and I need to remedy this and write to Obama and see if he’ll rewrite the tribute. I can’t have my grandpa done so dirty). Anyway, was the original conspiracy theorist in my life and he was SO convinced the Russians were behind the republican base, and we’re talking Reagan era, that seeing everything coming to light makes me high-key paying attention.

Anyway, now that I’ve said too much… What are your favorite conspiracy theories? AND if you want to talk to me about any of these, the Paul is Dead one I have any leg to stand on as far as research, talk to me!!

Either that or I’ll be over here talking to myself.

Day 26:

Earlier today, I came across a question on one of those old facebook surveys that we used to fill out and then post in the notes section or whatever it was called way back in the beginnings of facebook before the Russian bots and racist family members took over and ruined it all. And this question I found has awakened this memory that might as well have been Eternal Sunshine‘d out of me, but now I so vividly remember fondly that it’s today’s Camp Nano: Question of the Day. Day 26.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

Once upon a time in my foolish early 20s, I had a friend named Ijah who lived way out in Sylmar, which feels really far away when you live in Studio City and have an old car that doesn’t have a/c in it. Ijah and I were in a band (I know, this is what I do, I make bands with people and then don’t learn how to actually play music) and we would practice in her garage, and by practice, I mean, Ijah playing piano and singing really loud and me writing songs and pretending I could play guitar.

Me in Ijah’s garage pretending I could play guitar.

Ijah wasn’t your typical, early 20s, Southern California girl. She was loud. She was brash. She ate the apple all the way through, core, seeds, stem, all of it. She drove like a maniac. She walked around naked. She once got fired from her job and still showed up the next day in uniform and clocked in and started working until they sent her home. She had bright red hair that was completely natural, it just grew from her head that way. And to top it all off, she wore these really not in style, wire-rimmed glasses. Non-ironically. And we didn’t even say that back then.

During our garage band practices, we would practice for about 15 minutes and then we’d usually end up doing other things like drink tea and have her mom read our tarot cards and then we’d go explore Sylmar on foot. Sylmar is actually where the high school scenes of Encino Man were filmed so if you want an excuse to go watch the movie again, here’s your excuse. You’re welcome. Anyway, Ijah and I would just walk around and talk about stuff, people we were crushing on, the band, I don’t even remember, actually.

I remember one day we were at the bottom of the hill that went into her neighborhood and we didn’t want to walk back the whole way, I remember it was really warm that day. An ice cream truck slowly passed us with that music playing, so we ran up to catch it and flagged it down. We bought some ice cream cones, I think mine was strawberry for some reason, and then Ijah bribed the guy to let us hop on the back of the van and take us up the hill.

Okay. You know how they won’t let you do a bunch of adult things when you’re young like, rent a car? Well, this is why. Young adults don’t make good decisions.

The ice cream dude waited for us to hop onto the bumper and grab on to these poles that were on the back of the van and then the music started and we were off. I was on the driver’s side, meaning that my dominant hand, my right hand was holding an ice cream cone while my ridiculously weak arm was trying to wrap itself around the pole and not fall. My left arm was shaking and I could feel my Chuck Taylors sliding off the metal bumper as we started climbing the hill and I kept trying to scooch my feet back closer to the van, but this was a normal sized bumper so standing sideways, one foot in front of the other was as close to scooched as I was going to get anyway.

We were probably only going 15 miles an hour, but it’s uphill. I have ice cream running down my elbow on one arm, the other one is trying to keep it together and not let us fall us, while whimsical, ice cream man, clown music is playing the theme song to my bad choices. And I’m sweating.

It was the longest 2 minutes of my life and I don’t know how I didn’t die that day, but life lessons were learned. One of them is that I am not as cool or carefree as a tardy Marty McFly, and especially when he was that werewolf and got on top of that van to surf.

Day 25

I just came across a question for Day 25 of Camp Nano: Question of the Day that makes me want to write a short story. Except, the Freeway Series (Angels and Dodgers, go Dodgers!) is also on and I keep getting distracted, so if this posts tomorrow, now you know why. (I wrote this yesterday and then today was the Mueller thing and so THAT thwarted my motivation, and I was so caught up on my Nano numbers too!!! and now, I’m hopelessly behind.) Okay, so let’s go. I’ll never make up time sitting here with a glass of rose’ watching Ellen’s Game of Games. Let’s do this.

15. How Would You Quickly Dispose Of A Dead Body In A Hotel Room?

source

Let’s lay this scene out. Where is the body? In the bathtub?? Where?? Should I be wearing shoes? Is there blood? Is this like a murder scene? Do I have anything to do with it or have I been entrusted by a friend to get them out of a situation…? Is this a set-up? Am I being set-up? Okay, make sure to leave no fingerprints or loose hairs or cigarette butts, I have watched way too much Dateline to be a fool in this game.

Um, well my first inclination is to stuff the body in the bed like in Four Rooms HOWEVER, the body would be found and eventually, there would be a situation in which, people would want to know who put a body in a mattress.

Um, well my first inclination is to stuff the body in the bed like in Four Rooms HOWEVER, the body would be found and eventually, there would be a situation in which, people would want to know who put a body in a mattress. Could we fake the death? Like, that would buy us a bit of time wouldn’t it? Like throw it out of the window or something?

Okay, who’s the dead body? If this is a Clue situation, do we pretend they’re drunk? Make out with them when the police arrive? OOH! Could I frame someone? Do I wrap them up in the shower curtain and throw the body into the back of the trunk of the victim’s car and then mop up the blood and then throw them into the lake???

Remember when that woman was found in the water tank in that Los Angeles hotel? Was that ever solved? Oh my god, I don’t know. Here’s the thing, you gotta make it look like an accident and you gotta hide all evidence that you were involved. Those guys always get caught though. Maybe hide the body down the … laundry shoot? No, won’t work. First of all, I don’t think hotels even have laundry shoots anymore?

Here’s what you have to do. If you’re not going to blow the entire hotel up with the boiler like the book version of The Shining SPOILER ALERT, then you have to either dump the body and entire car and all towels and evidence in a swamp, OR you have to be smart enough to stage the whole weird scene in the elevator beforehand like with that exchange student from Canada or wherever that was found in the water tanks after days of other hotel stayers complaining that the water tasted funny. Make it look like a haunting.

But then how do you get the body from the hotel room into a 20 foot tank or however big? Without anyone noticing you’re carting a body around??? Do you Weekend at Bernie’s the body up to the roof on a golf cart? Back to Dateline, let’s Dateline THIS. How!! How do you get a body ALLLLLLL the way up into a tank?? Because, I haven’t had to pick up a dead body even (If you don’t count any hamsters *sad face emoji) but I HAVE had to try to pick up a toddler in the middle of an epic breakdown and if a dead body is anything like a three year old that is mad and self-thrown on the floor of a restaurant, well, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.

I really wish people won’t call me for this, because as much as I wrote about the perfect murder in 6th grade (Stabbed with an icicle. Then it melts without fingerprints. I mean, right???) However, I don’t have the ability to stay cool under pressure. If questioned, I would fold like a fish or accordion or whatever that idiom is.

What would you do? AND If someone asked you to hide a body, would you? I think I totally would, I mean, the drama! Right??

Day 24

I had a migraine harshin’ my vibe all day, so this will probably be on the short side but the point of it all, I’m still going strong on Camp Nano goals so, I can’t stop now. Day 24: Camp Nano project, question of the day.

What is your biggest regret?

Source: I don’t know

Everything I do is a biggest regret moment, so with that in mind, just know that I know it’s all trivial but try telling my brain that at 3am. However. My biggest regret in the last 12 months has got to be going all LA on a neighbor here, but not intentionally but, okay look. We had just moved here from The Valley. I love The Valley and everything about it; let me preface this. And where we lived in the valley (Encino) we had across the living room window neighbors that were The Worst. And the woman that lived there was… not of the societal norms of the mental health scale and I’m not saying this to be a horrible person (I am horrible for tons of other reasons), I just don’t know how else to describe her without going INTO IT. She would decide on a whim that you were the devil, reasons unknown, and then actively make your life misery. Like, conspiracy level misery where you’re gaslit into buying skunk spray to spray into their a/c unit in the middle of the night misery. I’ll write a whole book on THAT one day. Her husband was an ex-gang member. He was harmless and nice and the only thing that annoyed me about him was the loud parties he threw with all his gang banger friends outside of my bedroom window every other night.

Last summer, we had just moved away from this and come here in our new home and our new life, and this nice woman and her nice husband with their nice kid are outside of my front yard playing frisbee and the frisbee hit my window and I went FULL ON LA on them and skunk eyed them out my front window like I had a point to PROVE. It was a gut reaction. I’ve spoken to her since, moths later, and she brought the frisbee thing up to me and apologized for it. And if I didn’t feel like a jerk before, well, hahah.

This is Colorado. Everyone here waves at you, yells “Hello!” to you across the parking lot, I’m not used to this. You do NOT make eye contact with strangers in LA and you don’t flag them down to say “Hello!” unless you’re trying to get them to go to your “fun church!” or you’re about to mug them.

And I was so excited to meet this woman and make friends! But now she’s scared of me. I know it. I see it. She avoids me, they don’t play in front of my house anymore, except the one time a month or so ago when she was playing frisbee again with her kid in front of my house and I was taking a picture of her belly out my window to show my mom that I thought maybe she was pregnant??? and I was caught taking the pictures and now I’m the crazy one.

How do I fix this? How do you retrain yourself to trust other people enough to small talk because this sounds like the absolute worst to me, to be fair.

Whatever, I don’t need her. I made some mom friends these past couple weeks at my kid’s swim lessons and we talk about childbirth and perimenopause symptoms so you know, I’m still cool. I’m young. I’m hip.

I’m not. I’m shaking the broom at youngsters on my lawn, let’s call it for what it is.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Day 23: Next Door

6. You Have Been Given The Opportunity To Create The Half-Hour TV Show Of Your Own Design. What Is It Called And What’s The Premise?

Source

This is such an exciting question because I KNOW ALREADY!! And it’s kind of helped jumpstart the novel I’m actively not working on.

A couple of years ago, I starting walking around the neighborhood with one of my friends from the PTA because we were trying to get in shape because wine was making us gain weight. Our walks were hilarious. We pretty much laughed the entire time but we also cried. And we plotted and schemed and worried someone was going to write about us being “suspicious” on NextDoor and called an uber when we walked too far and didn’t want to walk back because it was too hot and we were sweaty and hungry. Not all in one day, obviously.

There were a rash of home invasion robberies happening in the neighborhood at the time, it was on TMZ! and so while brainstorming ways to get attendance up at our monthly community meetings, the board president (at the time) decided to invite a member of the LAPD Encino division to come talk to us and answer questions we had about things we could do to protect ourselves. Dogs and cameras an motion lights were the main things I remember. Until my favorite part of the night. One of the moms started complaining that they were opening up a halfway house on her block and she demanded it be closed down. Somehow that got everyone riled up into forming a neighborhood watch and the meetings would be held in front of the halfway house until they got so nervous, they’d move it or something else histrionic. It sounded exactly as ridiculous and overdramatic at the time.

A neighborhood watch. Imagine a bunch of middle aged, upper-middle class, white women chasing perceived hooligans off their lawns in rhinestone’d flip flops. It’s too much. So for our next walk, in tears of laughter, my friend and I decided to start the first shift of Neighborhood Watch.

The thing that these walks became, it wasn’t about losing wine weight anymore, it was about our friendship, and staking our place in the neighborhood. We walked through everything from a marriage breaking up to the PTA eating itself alive, to my eventual move away.

I used to have wine nights with another friend of mine, Carol. And one night I told Carol about the walks and it hit me that they would make an AMAZING tv show. Every episode would be us on a walk. Every character would live in the neighborhood and we would run into them during our walks and that would be the show. I would call it Next Door or something else less likely to get me sued. She told me to write a book about it.

So my original novel that was just about funny things about being on the PTA has evolved into this thing that has evolved into an opus and it’s so big and so overwhelming at this point, that I need to take a break from it and also just finish it at the same time. I’m just not sure I can do it justice, so wish me luck on finishing that beast. But I will. And hopefully it will make one person laugh.

Day 18: Bloody Mary Bloody Mary

I skipped over Day 17 because I couldn’t make myself write anything. I had that weird anxiety belly all day and I couldn’t figure out why and I just laid around lazy making it worse. I have no excuse. But upward and onward. Day 18 of Camp Nano Project: Question of the Day.

Did you ever play Bloody Mary at a slumber party?

source: I don’t remember.

You would assume, knowing my obsessive interest in the paranormal, that I would’ve been down to play a good old round of Bloody Mary. For anyone who may not know or remember because you blocked it out out of sheer willpower and fright, Bloody Mary is more than that disgusting drink with clam juice and vodka. Bloody Mary was a “game” where you would stand in the bathroom with the lights out, close your eyes (I think) and chant “Bloody Mary” three times and when you opened your eyes, you would see a murdered girl in the mirror, standing behind you and looking at you. I know that we joked about doing this at several parties, I don’t actually know if any of us went through with that third “Bloody Mary”. Maybe the game came about after drinking three Bloody Marys and trying to refocus and reassess your life decisions alone in the bathroom when you’re face looks bloated and weird and you realize you’ve had too many Bloody Marys.

My interest in the paranormal is joke based only. When put into an actual situation where there may or may not be a ghost, I’m likely the person who’s peed on the floor and weeping.

I’ve lived with a ghost. Possibly a demon. I feel like I’ve written about this in a blog post here, but maybe I’ve just talked about it too many times. Anyway, ghosts are trouble and not something you jokingly invite into your home. I’ve watched The Exorcist, I’ve seen how that plays out.

I remember once at my grandma’s house, my sister and I decided we would try to summon Mary. It was the afternoon, what could go wrong? We’ll never know because I couldn’t go through with it. Not even in the middle of the afternoon.

The slumber parties I remember the most and most fondly are the ones where we tried to scare each other. Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board was a favorite and I always wanted to be the one levitated so that I could feel envied for being so magical and airy. I never levitated. And then there was the ouija board which I’m not sure if it worked or not but when I was a middle schooler, I would sometimes push the little triangle thing to see how far I could get my friends to believe.

But this Bloody Mary business, I don’t know. I’m 43, and I’m still a little scared of it I think. I should go see if I can try it now. Uh, wait. On second thought, nope. Thinking about it has made me scared of the thought of even walking the hallway on the way to the bathroom. I’d rather drink a Bloody Mary.

Day 16. Sky Whale

Have you ever seen something so absolutely bizarre that you almost have an out of body experience over it or something? Well, that happened to me today when I was scrolling through tumblr and I saw the post about the death of the Sky Whale. And I’ve seen the post a few times the past 3 years it’s been going around tumblr and every single time I see it I feel like I’ve been dreaming this whole time. Like there is no way that Sky Whale could be an actual thing. What it actually is and what my mind has decided it is are two different things, and that’s probably a good thing. What it actually is is some very strange hot air balloon with boobs. What I always picture it is when I see that tumblr post, is some miles long Sky Whale that just hangs out in the sky, indefinitely. I don’t know the mechanics of how, exactly, but it’s always there, ominously casting its shadow over this particular town. No one knows where it came from, it’s just there. And it creeps me out every time I think about it. It feels like a nightmare before you realize you’re having a nightmare. So, for Day 16 of my Camp Nano Question of the Day project, the question remains the same, but my answer has completely changed.

What would be the hat to end all hats? What could you wear on your head that would make people stop what they are doing and stare in awe and amazement?

source

Originally when I started writing this post, I was thinking about the Shel Silverstein dude with all the hats but now I’ve decided that actually, I need a Sky Whale hat. And maybe the boobs on the Sky Whale could be filled with wine and there would straws coming out of the nipples. What else would I want out of the Sky Whale hat? It should be inflatable like the real Sky Whale but with circulating air to keep your head cool. You could have alternating temperatures for winter wear. It would be large enough to block out the sun, much like my intrusive thoughts about the real one. It would be made out of like tent fabric so it would also be rain proof. What if it could enlarge so it could be a tent?! But then what if it took off in the sky like some kind of James and the Giant Peach situation and next thing you know, cloud men are throwing paint at you? This is why it needs to also be stain proof. Also in case wine gets on it.

If it did float off with you inside of it, how would you get down? It’s not like a hot air balloon where you could adjust the temperature to lower the pressure or however those things work. Oh wait, I designed it for summer wear as well, so technically you could but not if the cold air was somehow diverted out or used up to chill the wine. Then what? You would just be up there, floating forever. Stuck up there in the sky, looking down on all the people below. At first they wondered where the big whale came from but now they just go about their lives like the whale was always there. You try to motion down to them to throw you a sandwich and a soda pop but they don’t even look up anymore. There were rumblings in the town that maybe the whale was part of some government surveillance system, and while you know it’s not that, you can’t help but wonder what would happen to you if it were. Why would they have chosen you of all people to spy on your town? Forced into snitchery.

And there you live with your conspiracies and loneliness until finally someone rebels against the system and shoots you out of the sky.

Day 15: Hollywood

We’re going to rein in what is quickly becoming an angsty diary instead of what was supposed to be a fun Camp Nano project. See? This is what happens. I overshare and then I get anxious that I’ve overshared and then I don’t want to share anything because I figure that the whole world now hates me and wishes I would shut up. But we’re in the middle of this project and I still have a ways to go. So let’s pretend my 15 year old emo self was never even here. Camp Nano project: Question of the Day. Day 15.

What fictional character is amazing in their book / show / movie, but would be insufferable if you had to deal with them in mundane everyday situations?

source: here

Character tropes are fun. As a writer, you get to flesh out a “person” into a 3d living, breathing entity, the quirkier the better. As readers, we get to get inside this character’s world. Hang out with them. They seem really cool and we want to be friends with them. Maybe it’s the “manic pixie girl”, maybe it’s the “tortured artist”, maybe it’s not a character in a book at all! Maybe it’s the stand-up comedian, maybe it’s a rockstar, or a movie star. Personalities set to 11.

I lived in Los Angeles for 21 years up until last summer. I love Los Angeles. I love the culture of Los Angeles. I love the people in Los Angeles. And a lot of people in Los Angeles have hiked their personalities to 11. Sometimes, it’s wonderful, other times, it’s plain awful.

Los Angeles doesn’t exist on the same plane as anywhere else. Possibly NYC but I can’t speak to that as I was only there once for like a day, although I’m going to assume it’s still not. My outsider view of New York is that people don’t put up with your nonsense. People in Los Angeles encourage it. A whole town of people encouraging other people’s dreams. It’s glorious. To an extent. And let me preface this with saying that this is young Hollywood. This is “haven’t made it yet” Hollywood. Once someone gets a touch of fame, people come out of the woodworks to grab onto their coattails and instagram selfies with their new bff, and leverage their relationships to build up their xp points. (Did I use that reference right? I always hear the kids playing Fortnite or Sea of Thieves or something and yelling to their friends about xp points. I think I’m right. Let’s go with it.)

Then there’s the middle tier people and a lot of them are amazingly wonderful and just trying to do a job but a lot of them would also drop you like a sack of potatoes if need be. Then the absolute worst ones are the ones that have bought into their own fame whatever level that is. And then you get the STARS. The people who don’t think twice about picking flies out of your wine for you and rubbing lipstick off your teeth in the middle of a sentence and envy that you live in an apartment. And not one of these people act like your standard midwesterner. Even though most of them are from there.

My favorite are the two on the ends of fame; the haven’t made it set, and the famous that doesn’t need to act famous set. Obviously, I’ve met and known a significantly higher number of the never made-its. But the innocence of both sides of fame is fascinating.

A few years ago, my kids and I were at a neighbor’s birthday party. It was in a party room at the Dave & Buster’s at Hollywood and Vine overlooking the black carpet premiere of Ghostbusters. I wish I would’ve taken a picture of it, but when there’s a movie premiere or an awards show, they close Hollywood Blvd to traffic, (obviously) but people can still walk the Walk of Fame and the stores are all still open, but it’s all barricaded off and they put up bleachers and big fake walls that say E! on them or whatever and make Hollywood look glamorous, and limos are rolling up and glittery gowns are stepping out onto the carpet that’s covering up the boulevard and cameras are rolling and big lights with filters are making everything look perfect. But what you don’t see on tv is that 10 feet behind the wall that say Chris Hemsworth is being interviewed in front of, the guy that actually works Hollywood Blvd dressed as Miss Piggy is puking into a trash can next to a dj passing out club flyers to tourists in fanny packs. And none of this is probably new information, but to have an aerial view of it, split screen and in real time is AMAZING.

The other time I remember noting the dichotomy of Hollywood was a few years after I moved to LA. I went with my friend to an audition to be a phone sex operator. And I’m sitting in this office building with other voice actor hopefuls with an unobstructed view of the Hollywood sign. It felt VERY Pretty Woman.

I haven’t even answered the question yet, this is how I get when I think about Hollywood. Anyway, all of this to say that there are a lot of people that would make great characters that live in LA. I had a neighbor who was a clown and she would answer the door in a clown suit and she drove an uber. I don’t know if she combined the two, but it’s Hollywood so it could go either way. And then there was the girl that video recorded everything, every conversation she had and claimed that she was was friends with Ray J and he wanted to produce her reality show. That was like 10 years ago, I’ve never seen her on tv.

I hung out with artists and comedians and writers and actors and some of them have actually found fame. I’ve been at those parties in West Hollywood with all of these personality to 11 people, you’ve seen those parties. Someone runs by naked, and others are sleeping in the bathtub, while someone is playing the guitar on the toilet, and people are painting in the corner and there’s loud music and everyone knows everyone and people are talking about their scripts or their headshots. The kind of parties that you see in movies about Hollywood. They’re real. A nerd like me has been to a bunch of them. And they were fun. But much like characters in book or a film, most of these people don’t stick around for longer than their story. Sometimes I’ll see one of the people I know back then on tv, or scrolling tumblr, there’s another one holding an emmy. But we never bonded over friendship the way you normally do. We bonded fast and quick like a makeshift family because we all came here alone. And we all supported each other in our dreams and then our dreams took us on a different journey.

Then there are the ones that are the embodiment of wacky love interest, unconventional girl in some movie written by a dude. These girls are a hot mess in real life. All of them either move back home , wind up in jail, or are dead from an overdose in 6 months. Let this be a lesson to all my Hollywood hopefuls, don’t ever allow yourself to become a trope out of some guy’s version of romance. Hollywood will eat you alive.

Los Angeles. I love you with my whole heart.

Day 14

Should anyone be actually keeping up with this thing, you may have noticed that all day long yesterday, you were waiting on bated breath for a Day 13 only to be let down. Well, Day 13 went about as well as superstition would have you believe it would. For whatever nefarious reason cooked up in the minds of Google, I was signed out of all my Google things. And THEN forced to keep changing my password, and THEN not being allowed in anyway, all the while, Google keeps sending frantic alerts to my cell phone that someone was trying to change my Google password. This went on for several hours. So that was annoying. Also annoying, I have a Chromebook. Everything was stopped. And this just cemented my decision not to switch to an Android phone. I can’t have Google deciding my level of internet activity on every device I own like some troll on a bridge. Anyway, I’m back in and back to business. Day 14 of my Camp Nano Question of the Day project actually is going to come from that Myspace quiz thing that I did the other day, but I think I didn’t answer this question then because it is generally vapid and so I deleted it. But I have been thinking a lot about this question since then and it’s a lot more valid then I gave it credit for.

What’s your favorite physical feature?

When I read this question the other day, I started to answer it but ultimately thought better of it because it sounds like a ridiculous question and I had to weed a lot of the MySpace questions out for length.

Originally I answered “My nose?” because in reality, I was lucky enough in my dna chain to be born with a standard, straight, short, thin, white girl nose that the magazines have decided is “a good nose shape”. I only became aware of it because it was the one thing I was consistently complimented on. My sister was “not so lucky”, someone (our mom) would say. And it gave her a complex. And while I had “the nose”, Julie had “the hair”. That’s the thing I “wasn’t so lucky” on. Julie’s hair was thick and straight and she could put it in this amazing ponytail that I envied. My hair was very thin and started to get curly in about 2nd grade. But it only went curly (actually, frizzy) in the top back. Everything else was straight. And I would get hit with the comb for not “combing [my] hair! It looks like a rat’s nest! Aren’t you embarrassed?!” Well, I am now, mom. And I have been for 38 years or whatever the math is. So thanks?

Look, I don’t believe any of it was intentionally said to cause long lasting traumas, and I don’t even think it was said in malice, however, once I had kids of my own, I started to remember the things that I carry because of my parents (my mom). And I try to parent the way that I wanted that parent to be when I was 12. It didn’t all come at once, but it is gradually evolving and I’ll never be good at parenting, but I have to be better.

I was shaving my legs in the shower recently and I consciously recognized the memory that plays in my head everytime I shave the back of my thighs. We were at the Del Mar Fair in San Diego when I was 10 and my mom was making fun of a woman with hair on the back of her thighs. “What does she think, hair doesn’t grow back there?”. And here’s the thing, she probably will never remember that this happened. But I do. 33 years later and it’s the reason I shave the back of my thighs even though I NEVER wear anything showing my thighs. Because “cellulite is gross” and “How do you have stretch marks? you’re 16!” and once at my swimming lessons when I was 14, “That girl is going to have saddlebag thighs, look at that! Do you see how her thighs bulge out like that?”. And this haunted thoughts affect me and my fashion choices every single day. And knowing that I hear my own mom’s voice when looking at myself and others are the reasons that I, as a mom, stopped verbally talking about other people’s flaws. And my own flaws. I have boys so they likely won’t have to worry if they have hair on the backs of their thighs and stretch marks and cellulite to keep them from wearing shorts, BUT I don’t want them to hear me, the main woman in their lives, say that about myself or other women because I don’t want them to think that about any woman. Ever. I don’t want them to EXPECT that from any other woman.

And a side effect that I didn’t even see coming, is that when I stopped trying to look for flaws in other people, I started accepting my own body a bit more. I’m not 100% there yet, but when I stopped seeing people, women as the “flaw”, I started loving them and in turn, started seeing myself in them. If I could love their cellulite, then I could love my own. If I could love their curly hair, I could love my own.

The actual turning point for me from being potentially able to accept myself to being proud of myself came from my own child. My littlest one always grabs my upper arm to go to sleep. And it’s annoying and uncomfortable. One day a few years ago he said “Mom, I like your squishy arms!” and I was DEVASTATED because of the whole arm flaps that all the ladies I know worry about. “Oh my GOD! I have squishy arms and arm flaps.”

But the other night, he was falling asleep and I was telling him that eventually he has to be able to fall asleep without me because how would he ever be able to spend the night at a friend’s house or go to Outdoor Lab and he said he would build a robot mom that was exactly like me with my squishy arms “but maybe nicer” and that would help him fall asleep if I wasn’t there.

The idea that something that I have been so self-conscious about is the thing my child would purposefully build into a better version of me if he needed to has drastically changed my opinion of myself. I’m not a monster that needs to adapt to a better physical form, I’m perfect (except maybe could be a little nicer) to one of the only people’s opinions that even matter.

And this whole thing probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but I’ve had a revelation and it feels very important.

Sorry this whole project that was supposed to be helping me with my novel has becoming an oversharing, online, unsolicited therapy session, but, here we are.