General Nonsense

Isolation Day #6 (maybe?): The Writing Group Dilemma

I have a novel that I’ve been writing and rewriting and rereading and deleting and starting over and writing and rewriting for like 5 years now. It’s super exciting and I love it and I also think its a steaming pile of crap that should never see the light of day.

But it should. Because I love where it’s going. But I’m bored of it and how awful it all is.

But I figure I should use this self-isolation time to be productive. No excuses.

There’s also the fact that Camp Nano is coming up and I like doing that AND that I just joined a writing group which I’ve always been drawn to writing groups.

The dilemma with this new writing group however, is that I hate my above mentioned grand opus. Then there’s a story that I have partway written, that I DO like, but it came to me fast and furious, in a dreamlike way and I have no idea where it wants to go and so 10,000 words just sit there like Whitney Houston in sunglasses staring at me from across the fountain. The writing group is going to kick me out for being a waste of their time, probably.

While logging into the laptop in my efforts to have a productive writing isolation, a link came across my attention that Scribd is offering a free 30 day membership to read and audiobook as many books and magazines and whatever else you can find there as is your want. No strings attached. I’m taking this opportunity to finally read (well listen to) Save the Cat because apparently I am scrapping all of my efforts to finish something and I’m going to write a screenplay! Because of course I am. After I listen to this book and maybe a few others, because 30 DAYS FREE BOOKS!!!!

But seriously, what should I do about this writing group? Do I submit something I really like with no signs of an ending, or do I submit the mess that is my novel that I really want to finish but I don’t know that a writing group will be able to help me with, or either that, they’ll collectively tell me it’s a pile of crap and needs to be immediately scrapped with a promise I never write again? I know that won’t happen, no one is that mean. Right?

Alright, if anyone has advice, I’m here for it. In the meantime, I have a book to listen to.

Things to do in Denver when Old You is Dead.

I’m from Denver. Well, like 20 minutes northwest of Denver. Denver adjacent. I moved back about a year and a half ago from a 21 year stint in Sunny Los Angeles and I feel like I left a whole chunk of my heart and my soul back in the Valley when I moved.

Photo by Neil Soni on Unsplash

I moved to California, when I was 20 and obnoxious (probably because I was 20). I was shy, and angry, and wrote embarrassing journal entries that I was sure would win awards once I died and they were found and published. I knew everything and as I whined about the world through pages of angsty words I threw together about living alone in this world (dramatically with cats and adoring fans of my works). I couldn’t stand to be alone. I couldn’t do anything on my own. I didn’t know how to do anything on my own. I didn’t know how to do anything. And I didn’t ever have to. And then I moved to Los Angeles. Studio City to be accurate. A mile from the Brady Bunch house to be even more accurate. A couple of blocks down the street from Universal Studios, actually. Thankfully. Because I got a job at Universal Studios (CityWalk) and on my first day of work, my car wouldn’t start, so I had to walk those couple blocks (and that REALLY BIG HILL) in end of July, Valley heat. Valley heat isn’t like anywhere else I’ve ever been. Valley heat is sticky and it smells faintly of car exhaust and dirt. Sometimes garbage, depending on where you happen to be. And your head sweats under the hair you just straightened, making it rise in volume by 2.5 units. I’m not a math person, so just believe me and pretend you know that I’m right and hair units are a real measurement. I walked into my new job, a helmet of hair that now smells like the street, face hot and flushed bright red with exhaustion and being out of shape and it’s now itchy because of the sweating and I’m in HOLLYWOOD (adjacent), my roommates hated me because they had to live with the awful version of me that was now completely depressed, and, the icing on the cake, freshly car-less. I had to make friends. And quick. I knew no one. And that lasted about 20 minutes, because let me tell you something about Los Angeles. Everyone is obnoxious. And lonely. And insecure. And alone. People cling to other people like life rafts in Los Angeles. And it’s wonderful. Sometimes it’s awful, like being stalked by a stuntman awful, but most of the time, it’s amazing. And I wouldn’t be who I am now if I didn’t have to kill off pretentious, emo queen, “Denver Amy” to survive. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Like Personality Boot Camp.

I moved back to Denver (adjacent) on an opportunity and while it’s been a great move for all the California boys I brought back with me, which is really only a husband and two kids and not like actual back-up dancers, which I didn’t realize I needed until now, there’s a feeling about moving back to a hometown where nothing has changed except there’s now a church that’s taken over the old movie theater that I saw Beetlejuice in. It’s suffocating in a way that I imagine is a lot like that one Tom Hardy movie with the black ink demon thing that people draw porn and write fan-fiction about. Anyway, I feel like “Denver Amy” haunts the streets where I grew up, reminding me of how awful I can be; my own personal Ghost of Christmas Past.

It’s entirely possible I just grew up, but throwing myself at a huge city I had only ever seen on tv and then loving everything about it for 21 years has a way of making you feel a part of something bigger than you. And I think that my reluctance to fully re-embrace Denver adjacent has more to do with my fear that if I let LA go, I can never get it back again. If I embrace my new, I’m allowing back in the old. And I made a pact to pretend that version of myself was a bad fever dream. However, recently I’ve been coming to refreshing feelings, and maybe it’s because it’s been warm for like 3 days in a row and I’m getting hopeful. I’ve decided to embrace and fall in love with my new home as if I had never sat in that new church down the street laughing at Michael Keaton in his striped suit, or been in that grocery store a mile the other way that allegedly had a make-over but I can still hear inky demon/high school me thinking about Anne of Green Gables in the frozen food isle that used to have greeting cards in it. So If I avoid those two places – the church will be easy because I don’t do the church thing, and the grocery store is where my demons seem to congregate so that one is out, then I can pretend I never lived here before.

You know what it is? When you move away from your home town, you create a new life. Like a Witness Protection kind of thing. And you can completely erase all the bad, embarrassing character flaws like Peggy Olson did with Pete’s baby. You just Don Draper it. But I’m at the Priest Colin Hanks calling me out in the Lord’s house part of the show and I want to skip ahead to the roller skating in the office part. You know? The walking down the hall carrying all my stuff in a box with octopus porn art under my arm in sunglasses with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth part of my journey. I think that I’m actually pretty close to strapping on my roller skates, though. I have made a conscious decision to actively love where I live with such vigor, that I single-handedly become the Denver Adjacent Tourism Board. I can still love Los Angeles, fiercely, but I’ve seen Sunset Boulevard. It doesn’t work to shut the world out thinking it still loves me; demanding that Hollywood not forget me while I rot away in my self-imposed exile.

But you see, as I wrote this, several friends from LA have randomly and unknowingly sent emails and texts of love and gossip, reining me back in.

OMG! Mr Deville, I’m ready for my close-up.

Molly, you’re in danger, girl.

Last night I saw a medium.

I was skeptical. But my uncle is hands down ALL IN ON THIS. She was 100% Uncle Buck certified.

He met this woman during a ghost hunting expedition like 20 years ago and swears by her. He took his girlfriend to one of this ghost hunting friend’s medium readings and she was sold and at Thanksgiving dinner this year, we all sat around the table talking about ghosts. Well, that’s all dinners when I’m involved, but ghosts were discussed. And then this medium lady was brought up. My mom was sold.

I was intrigued. She is said to have spoken of things no one could know. My mom wanted in. I wanted in, because, you know, ghosts.

Quick aside, if you’re ghost hunting and you’re a medium, do you need all that fancy equipment? EVPs? Heat maps? Night vision goggles? Ouija boards? I’m serious. Where’s the line between like, my super haunted apartment in Denver and Oda Mae Brown? Although, she seemed spooked a lot of the time, so, SAME. Okay, take Long Island Medium. She’s always laughing and snapping her nails on the granite counter tops in her fancy home and blaming farts on her clients’ dead loved ones. Allegedly. But I know what I saw. A scam of farts. (By the way!!! I heard farts last night, more on than in a minute.) See, when I lived in Capitol Hill with a super nasty early 1900’s Denver socialite ghost that hated me, I rarely laughed. Well, I still laughed, but I also peed myself more times than I care to admit out loud.

Point is, mediums are super relaxed and laughing about farts, while Zak from Ghost Adventures is always yelling and getting scratched and possessed. To be fair, if I was a ghost, I would be more likely drawn to the blonde lady who’s laughing and farting, but I would also love to scare the crap out of Zak Bagans. But also as a ghost, which adventure do you choose when a group of charlatans rolls through your spooky abandoned parlor with cameras and tape recorders?

Okay, back to me. We walk into this metaphysical book store that smelled like patchouli and random purple and yellow aura. There were several stones for sale, candles, and a lot of books with levitating yogis in front of expanding light and galaxy brain meme looking backgrounds ranging in topics from my dead loved ones to constipation. It sounds like I’m knocking this. I’m not knocking this. I was just friends with a lot of potheads in the late 90s and well, this is similar to what hanging out with them was like.

We are escorted into the back room which was painted in a light purple hue, floral curtains on one wall, fold up chairs lined up in rows on the floor, and a Christmas tree set up in the back. It kind of felt like where the gangsters held their meetings in that funeral home in The Wire. We sit down, My Uncle, his girlfriend, my mom, and me. And we wait, and wait. People start talking about who they hope will come through. And we wait. The medium ghost hunter lady is milling about. I like her, she’s got a good vibe about her. Like I could be friends with her. But I’m skeptical, right? Like, I’ve watched those debunk videos on youtube about mediums and their cue reading skills. How they plant people in the crowd to make themselves look legit. So the whole time I’m hearing everyone talk amongst themselves about dead people, all I can think is, you idiots. She could be taping this somehow! You’re giving her everything she needs. At this point, my mom turns to me and starts talking to me about the very minute details of various dead people she hopes come through.

Good job on the stealth op, Mom.

Here’s the thing. I know, scientifically or logically or whatever, that ghosts don’t exist. Like it doesn’t make sense. I also HIGHKEY believe in ghosts. Because I’ve seen them. I have lived with ghosts. Like, I don’t wish ghost living on anyone. And yet, at the same time, I don’t know how it’s possibly a thing. Like I get the whole thing about energy transference and how energy doesn’t just go away, like it has to go somewhere. And where else would it go other than ghosts and ouija boards? But I also get the whole thing about how an energy field being off in your home because of negative ions or leaking water pipes, or something else that makes scientific sense that I’m not looking up right now or I will never finish this post, how our human brains interpret this fluctuating, abnormal, unbalanced energy as danger! but since we can’t physically see danger, our brains form hallucinations on the interpretations trying to make sense of the whole thing and we see ghosts. Or something. But I’ve seen ghosts live in the ghost flesh and if what I saw was only my mind’s hallucinations, give my brain an Oscar.

So we’re in this room last night, at the back of a psychic book store and about 45 minutes after we sat down, our fun medium lady stands in front of us, cracks some jokes, says hi to my uncle, hugs a guy in the front row, waves at a lady in the back who drove over from Aurora, which Long Denver Medium knew either through paranormal or non-disclosed normal means, and off to the races we went. Apparently the ghosts chose me to go first.

She looked me directly in the eyes and asked me who the female with the J name was that was sitting on my lap and saying we were very close. Was she a friend? A sister? And my heart pounded and my neck did that tightening, painful thing right before you bawl and I bit the side of my mouth hard so I wouldn’t cry in front of everyone and then I took a deep breath and gave out a shaky “My sister, Julie” as she went on about how funny she is and she was with my great-grandma and grandpa and a whole slew of other accurate details that I can’t remember.

Then she went around the room for the next 2 hours, making other people cry with her questions and remarks about smells and inside jokes with the beyond, a murdered ghost came through, a ghost that spoke only Spanish, a ghost asking about a lady’s new hairdo just like in the real Ghost, a ghost telling a woman babies were coming, I don’t know, it was a lot. Someone kept farting loudly, a lady behind me burped. Everyone laughed together, cried together, passed around a community tissue box, it was great. I could’ve done without the farting though, but maybe that’s just a thing that summons the ghosts! I’m not here to judge the process.

But here it is, the next day and I feel like maybe it was all a scam. I mean, it was worth it, I had a great time, but maybe the emotions flowing through the room, the comradery, the ill-timed farts, maybe these were all a dripping pipe in the house type thing. The emotions made us hear truths that weren’t there. Made us believe in hope from the other side. Helped out by tidbits of information Long Denver Medium was able to pick up from the people she knew and the things she over-heard as we sat in around gabbing during the pre-show. I don’t know, but she likely made a TON of money doing this thing.

New career goal. Maybe I can get fake acrylic nails, work on my stand-up routine, and charge people to sit in a room with me and cry about stuff. I don’t have a psychic ability, but I do have ghost apps on my phone that are a hit at parties and I am a professional Ouija board user. This could totally work. Alright, who’s in?

The Demon in the Magritte Hat

There is this thing bubbling up under my heart, in my soul, my dreams, and I need to do something with it. I need to make something with it. Part of it might be having just come off NaNoWriMo, which started out great for me and kind of fell flat at the end. I was writing this mystery story, that I still really like, but I fell out of routine and started doing other things. But this thing, this demon, that has been lurking for a good 6 months now has been ignited.

It feels like I have to solve a mystery, even if it’s not going to be my own, but that Nancy Drew drive could be because I got sucked into the Visit Eroda hashtag on twitter a few weeks ago and I began piecing together clues, and reading along with others’ clues and figuring it out it was some scam Harry Styles was running about a fake island. And look, it looked like he was pulling some Alice in Wonderland/ Through the Looking Glass, Magical Mystery Tour thing. I was invested. And now that I’ve seen Harry Styles’ Adore You video, I have nowhere else to put my sleuthing. I also really wish this Eroda thing was like an album film thing like, well, like Magical Mystery Tour or Head. Because I have been yelling for months to no one who cared, that that’s what Harry Styles was filming in Scotland back in August or something. His own Magical Mystery Tour. And I was wrong. I’m not a great sleuth, turns out.

But there’s still this energy lingering in me and it’s causing my anxiety to wreck my sleep and stomach lining because I’m not doing anything with it. I’m not creating anything. I’m not thwarting bad guys in masks at a haunted amusement park, and I’m not following an art thief through a museum in a Rene Magritte hat.

I think I’m trying to write a play or start my own improv group or something. I don’t know what this drive in me is, but until I figure out what I’m supposed to do with it, I won’t get any sleep and I may end up moving to New York or Chicago and I’ll wear all black and I’ll listen to jazz and pick up smoking again. I have a family with a husband and school aged kids and a mortgage and a dog and a cat! I can’t be stupid and 20 again.

Because when I was stupid and 20 and I got this same vibey feeling, I decided to be a rock star because I learned about CBGB and I wanted to be Debbie Harry levels of cool, so I bought a guitar and moved to LA and worked a lot of retail and joined the pta and then moved back to Denver. But at least I did something with the demon. I fed that demon. And now there’s a new one and I don’t know what it wants from me. Except maybe a Beatnick lifestyle, I don’t know. I’m a middle-aged, suburban mom, Demon!

Stay tuned, I guess. At least all black is slimming.

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 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 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 10: The Dollhouse

I am always avoiding several things at all times (like finishing the Day 8 post) and today is not a new or special day in that department, but instead of overthinking that and causing myself undue stress over something I’m still not going to do, even after I’ve worried about not doing it all day, I’m going to funnel that procrastination into my Camp Nano question of the day project. So on to Day 10…..

What’s a hobby you would like to take up?

source: I don’t know.

Dollhousing. Is that even a word? But that’s it. That’s my future hobby. It’s a completely impractical hobby for me but I can’t help it. I am obsessed with dollhouses. I always have been. I got a dollhouse when I was a kid for Christmas or something and I used to love playing with it and pretending I was small enough to live inside of it. And sometimes at night right before I would fall asleep, all of my muscles would tense and I would get the feeling of shrinking way way down very quickly to the carpet and seeing it magnified and I can still feel that dropping feeling in my stomach and on my skin. Maybe I watched The Incredible Shrinking Woman too many times.

Oh my god, The Incredible Shrinking Woman! Do you remember that movie?? That was my favorite. I’m going to use this opportunity to share the only tweet I’ve ever tweeted that makes my twitter mean anything. It got zero likes.

twitter

I like going into those shops that sell all the tiny furniture. And those little paintings? And the tiny chandeliers?? I could spend so much money on this that maybe I shouldn’t even start. I had a friend in 6th grade whose mom made little furniture for dollhouses. That’s also a thing I could see myself getting very into. Ooh! What if I revived my etsy shop but instead of purses sitting all over my house getting dusty, I could make dollhouse stuff! My husband would hate it. GASP!

Oh my god I need to stop! Where would I even put a dollhouse?? My mother-in-law has one. It is gorgeous and handmade I think. I have no room for a dollhouse.

Imagine painting it! And pretending it had a ghost! Would I have people? Maybe they could host dinner parties and have a tiny little record player.

I have a creepy attic that has Greg Brady looking carpet in it and a mirror attached to the wall. It even has a closet like someone was living up there once. I at first thought that I could make that my dollhouse room but I’m a little scared of it up there to be honest so change of plans, maybe I can convince my husband to move his game room up there and I could use the guest room as my dollhouse room! It’s gotta work. I have just convinced myself in this small span of time that I cannot live without a dollhouse.

It could even have it’s own instagram and a youtube channel where I could investigate the ghost. Alright, I’m cutting this short. I have some internet research to do.

Day 9: The Internet

The internet. (To be said with a deep sigh). Day 9 of Camp Nano Question of the day and I’ve decided to tackle a question that is currently a source of my mood. I woke up today and for no real reason, I felt, and still feel like I don’t want to deal with the internet. No, it’s not the internet, it’s social media. It’s such an invasive drain on my emotional and mental health and it has been and I know this, but I don’t stop because with the bad does come the good, and most times there is more good than bad, but at what cost? So let’s get on with it.

How long could you survive without the internet?

source: the internet

I grew up during an interesting time, one where we had computers in elementary school but all we could do with them was play games or type. It wasn’t until I was in high school that we ever got one in the house and we were one of the few because they were very expensive and kind of useless unless you were doing bookkeeping or playing Solitaire and Myst.

The internet arrived sometime in the early 90’s on floppy drives through the mail. And then you were charged by the hour. We didn’t have Google back then, Yahoo wasn’t a thing, there was no such thing as a search engine. You just put your disk in the drive, punched a phone number into your modem, waited awhile to see if you could connect and you had one homepage to direct you to your mail or a chat room. And you had one hour. The timer was set. I think it was actually less than that. I think you got 25 hours a month and then they would charge you by the hour. I remember I had a friend in high school get ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET and it was this big scandal because her parents got a $900 bill from Compuserve. “And who spends that much time on the internet?! What could you possibly do?!

25 hours a month, can you imagine?? I spend 25 hours a day on the internet now. And it wasn’t even that long ago. I remember in the late 90s when Colgate got a website and we were all like, “Why would Colgate need a website?” and one of my friends goes, “Well, there goes the internet. You know it’s not cool anymore when corporations get onboard. It’s going to ruin everything.”

Overall I think the internet is an amazing thing. People know more about the world, people are able to connect with people all over the world. It’s made more of us more socially aware, more politically aware (or misinformed…), it allows us to to connect with the world and information and our passions in ways we never had before.

There’s also a lot of bad about the internet and mostly in form of whatever drew me to it in the first place. Social Media. It wasn’t called social media back in the day, and it wasn’t the horrible place it’s become. It was fun, it was supportive, it was a creative outlet. When MySpace happened, I went from using the internet a couple of times a week to using the internet a couple of times a day. It was addictive. Everyone you knew had their own mini website! What a cool way to keep in touch with everyone and to let them know what you were into, what you thought was cool, what song you needed them to hear immediately upon opening your page. But it was still safe because you controlled it. You were in complete control of the information you chose to take in.

Soon everyone moved to Facebook. I remember this vividly. I had a Facebook back in 2006 because my sister-in-law was in college and she knew my love for social media and invited me in. That is when I became Colgate. This was back when it was meant for college kids only and you had to be invited to create a page. I was 30 and everyone was still on MySpace so I didn’t even try to figure Facebook out. Until 2 years later when I was alone on MySpace because everyone had jumped ship to the next biggest thing. Facebook.

At first Facebook was alright because you still had to actually go to someone’s page to interact with them. But then Facebook decided to Twitterize and soon, you got to read every single thought everyone was having, every single moment they were having it. All day. And you would scroll and scroll because you had to know why Sheila was having such a bad day you weren’t allowed to ask about it. And everyone you have ever known was there airing their dirty laundry like a soap opera in real time. It was addicting.

You got to know people in an intimate way that you never got to before. It was very voyeuristic. But there’s a limit to everything. My social media breaking point came in 2010. It was the mid-term elections and republicans swept up a bunch of seats in the house and senate giving them a majority. I am very liberal and I have a lot of liberal friends, but I also have some conservative friends, probably not as many anymore, but that’s the environment we live in now. But back to 2010, I could not believe the casually racist things I was seeing out of people in my “friends” from Facebook that just escalated from Obama’s first 2 years that when the GOP took over majority I was done with facebook for awhile. And actually, to this day, I have never gone back completely. For the past nine years, I log on to Facebook to say something that makes me laugh, scroll the suggested posts until I see one that makes me want to hit my head into the wall and then I close the app. In doing so, my mental health has skyrocketed when I didn’t even realize it was so bad. I was so angry at everything. And hurt by things I perceived as slights. I hated people. I took mental notes of who was liking what and whether or not they were liking my posts. And now I don’t even know. I can’t be bothered to care. And it’s so freeing. But even in limited form, I keep going back.

My husband got a new phone a few months ago and never installed the Facebook app and he says he feels so free. And he never had a Facebook problem. Can you imagine?? Not going on social media???

I keep ALMOST getting to the point of ditching Facebook, but for one, my birthday’s next week and you know how popular you feel on Facebook on your birthday, it’s like you’re the prom queen! Also, who’s going to laugh at my jokes if I ditch Facebook? Nobody else thinks I’m funny. How am I going to know my friend from college, Benilda died if not from an ominous post from her page talking about it in first person from the afterlife? How else will I get invited to join a pyramid scheme?!

What do people do without the internet all day? What are you going to get mad at? The outside? Well, actually, I am able to curse the outside quite a lot. Like right now. It’s too hot and I have to go to the store. I don’t want this.

I don’t see myself ever going internet free. Not even social media free even though I have cut way back. I keep going back because I miss the fun parts of social media. The good parts. The seeing friends part. But I can’t get as invested as I was. It’s not good. It’s even worse than your parents getting a $900 bill from Compuserve.

Day 7: Girl Meets Rider

Oops. I forgot to do Day 7 because yesterday (day 7) I was so worried about the appraiser from the bank that came into our home this morning and I was on Operation: Hide all Undies and Other Signs that we Live Here AND it was also the MLB All-Star Game and well, I didn’t finish this one. I’m going to try to do two of these today. Day 7 (pretend that it is) is exciting because this is basically how I live through all my relationships. If we’re friends, I’ve already assigned you a tv show character. Or a Beatle. I don’t make the rules. I do make the rules, actually.

If You Had To Compare Yourself To One Fictional Character, Who Would It Be?

Source: I don’t know.

My biggest problem with this question is that it says to chose one. I have several. This is one of my favorite sorting systems. Some of you use Harry Potter houses which I find fascinating and also confusing because I have only seen the first couple of movies and I never read the books and I’m kind of overwhelmed with the whole research needed to understand it and the closest I have ever gotten to using the houses as a personality measure is when I’ve told my husband to “stop getting all hufflepuff” over something. I don’t even know what hufflepuff means in the Harry Potter universe but it’s now become an actual word in my house that roughly translates to getting all worked up over something ridiculous. Which actually, now that I think about it, maybe I can’t learn the real meanings of the houses because “Hufflepuff” has its own life living as an adjective in my house and I’m sorry, JK Rowling, that’s just how it is now.

I’ll extend this out to to two posts because I have a lot to say about all of it. And I don’t think I’m going to properly answer this question because I have grievences to air. Day 8 will be categorizing everyone I know, but today, I’ll chose the one. If I was pressured to hone it in, a narrow it down or die situation type thing, I’m going to have to go with my fave, Lucy Ricardo. Because, number one, the schemes. Two? Being celebrity obsessed. Three? Looking like a fool a lot. Four? Stubborn. And! I can’t believe I almost moved on without mentioning this!! I’ve had a real life I Love Lucy episode happen to me. You remember the episode where Lucy sees William Holden in the Brown Derby? Well…

Summer of ’97, I had just moved out to Los Angeles (to be a rockstar) and I got a job at a retail store at Universal CityWalk. The store isn’t there anymore, it’s now a Sephora, but before that, it was this really cool bookstore/gift store/cafe called Upstart Crow.

Me (glasses), Claudia (blonde, owner), and Vanessa (the Ethel to my Lucy) at Upstart Crow during New Years Eve Y2K and kind of a little drunk and scared that someone was going to try to bomb CityWalk, because security told us to be on the lookout for suspicious people or unattended baggage.

So back to the story, sometime in ’97 or ’98, I was standing behind the register and there was a guy looking at the bestseller shelves right in front of me and I swore I knew him. And I could not for the life of me figure out how. So for like 15 minutes, I followed this guy around the store because it was killing me, where did I know this guy from???? Did I go to high school with him? (which would be weird because I went to high school in Colorado). I couldn’t figure it out.

A bit later I went out on my lunch break to the patio that was part of the cafe. So I’m out there, minding my own business, reading my romance novel, eating my mac & cheese and I could feel someone staring me down. I look up from my book and it’s the guy. He’s at the other end of the patio, sitting at an empty table staring me down. Creepy, but yes! He knows me too! Right? I’m a little thrown off because he’s staring at me, like intensely and purposefully staring me down. He obviously came out to sit on the patio with the sole intention to stare me down. So, I try to ignore it and go back to my book when it hits me. I don’t know this guy from high school. No. I know him because he’s Shawn Hunter on Boy Meets World and I’ve just completely been a creep following him around the store and he’s now paying me back. I got Bill Holdened by Rider Strong. I felt my face go red, I slammed my book shut, grabbed my lunch while simultaneously dropping my fork onto the concrete with a loud klank and spilling what was left of my coffee onto my shirt. I ran inside the store and hid in the back corner until my coworker assured me that he left.

I wish I could tell you that this embarrassing part of my LA story ended there, but it did not.

Most nights after a closing shift, my coworkers and I would drive 5 minutes up the road to Bob’s Big Boy where we would hang out for hours and laugh and eat french fries and drink multiple cups of coffee. I lived a very wild life. So a couple weeks later after the “incident”, we’re at Bob’s doing our thing, when the entire cast of Boy Meets World walks in and sits in the booth behind us. And I am once again eye to eye with Rider Strong. I tried to play it cool like I didn’t even see him, but I did. And so did all of my friends who have heard this story about 75 times. And whether he remembered who I was or not, I totally swear he was staring me down again and I wanted to disappear forever through the crack in the light brown vinyl booth I was on. Which I might’ve. Or maybe I fainted, or astral projected out of there immediately, who knows, but I could not tell you how that one ended. I have seriously blocked it out. Because it’s awful. And it’s all I think about now when someone mentions him or the show or bowl cuts.

I have never felt more hufflepuffed in my life.