Los Angeles

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 4: The Bucket List

I woke up from a dream this morning and in it, a woman older than me was squatting down in front of a bench crying because she had just found out that she was dying in a couple of months or days or something and she goes, “Well, there’s 10 minutes of my life I wasted crying and I can’t get back,” and then she said she didn’t know what she wanted to do with the rest of her short life and asked me, if I found out I was dying in a couple months, or even weeks, what would I do? So I’m going to take this question from the dying lady with the messy hair from my dream and use it for today’s post.

If you found out you were dying in a month, what would you want to do with the rest of your life?

source: Dream Lady

Part of me would want to actually do all the things I’m afraid of, like camping and traveling and ordering a pizza over the phone and deleting Facebook and wearing a swimsuit in public. But then there’s the realistic part of me that thinks that things would probably stay the same. I’d probably sit around all day in my lounge pants watching stuff on tv like I Love Lucy and When Harry Met Sally while I scroll through the internet like I’m getting paid by the hour. And I’d probably still yell at the kids for fighting and the dog for barking and the cat for waking me up at 6am. And I most certainly wouldn’t clean anymore. I’d need to delete my internet history and probably go through my things and burn the diaries I wrote when I was 16 but kept so that my loved ones could find one day and publish them when I die once they realized the genius prose and intellect I exhibited at such a young age. Unappreciated in my own time, and all that. But here’s the thing, I read one of them about a month ago and spiraled into a week long depressive state of shame and embarrassment that anyone knew who I was at 16. So I’d burn those. I’d make a point of hanging out with as many friends as I could get to answer my texts, and then I’d drive to California and put my toes into the sand again and drink wine and talk about things that excited me with my friends and I’d go look at the Hollywood sign, I’d hike right up to it. Well, no, that’s a lie. I wouldn’t. Snakes and fear of the law would stop me. But I would go see it. And I would walk down Hollywood Blvd and still not make eye contact with the Superman and Miss Piggy (they’re not the real thing, don’t buy into their scams). And then I would go back to the beach again and put my feet in the sand. And I would close my eyes and listen to the waves and the seagulls that I’ll probably have to fight off later and I would feel the sun on my face. I would drink and laugh with my people again.

It sounds ridiculous and corny because the first thought I had when I thought about this bucket list question was traveling and seeing the world and all the stuff that people put on their lists, but I think that I would just live the life that I know. With the people that I know. And the places that I know. In my non-pants pants. I would hug my kids and my husband and my family and my friends. I would see and experience everything that makes me happy. Nothing new. No skydiving or roller coasters. No rock climbing or bungee jumping. No thrill seeking. I want to feel love and security and hugs. I want to talk about thoughts and ideas and jokes over candles and wine and brie. I want to sing and dance badly and laugh.

And yeah, if I found out I was dying, I would probably cry crouched on a bench with messy hair like dream lady. I would allow myself those 10 minutes. And who knows, in 30 or 40 years, I might have a different view on my life goals. And hopefully Dream Lady wasn’t giving me a death sentence, because jokes on her, I made a deal with the devil to live a million years so, sorry Dream Lady.

I don’t know how to end this because I feel like I’ve left us on a really strange note. This is way more serious than I ever want to be and that’s as embarrassing as my 16 year old me journals. Go back and read this in glitter gel pen voice. And instead of this, I should’ve just finished my draft from yesterday about dogs and cats. So… I’m going to go drink a glass of rose’ and pretend this blog post doesn’t exist. Hug your people. Do what you love. Ignore what you don’t.

End scene.