Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fur and Pleather

Last week I almost bought a baby bunny on the corner of Sunset and La Brea.

A man wearing camouflage and about a month's layer of dirt was selling them as I walked out of a theater with my friend. Now by “selling” I don’t mean he had a booth and a sign that said “Bunnies For Sale” or “Buy Two Bunnies And Get A Bushel of Carrots Free.”

No.

Although if you are reading this homeless, bunny peddling man, that might be a good business plan.

By “selling” I mean he was sitting on some steps cupping his hands close to his chest. As we passed he didn’t say a word, just opened his hands so that a small bunny head peaked out and almost brushed my leg (and broke my heart.)

Now, I have to give it to this guy. He definitely knows how to pull at heartstrings. He made sure I could see how cute the bunny was while simultaneously making me horrified at the thought of what he might do if the bunny didn’t sell tonight.

I tried to stare straight ahead and keep walking as my bleeding heart screamed:

Buy it, buy it! Save the innocent bunny from the scary homeless man! Remember, you’ve always wanted a bunny? It would go so well in your apartment. No matter that you have no time and no money to buy lettuce and carrots. BUY IT!!

I glanced back at the man but thought that along with the cute white ball of fur he might also give me Hepatitis and decided not to risk it.

Sorry bunny.

I went to drink my sorrows away at the bar, Happy Endings. You may remember Happy Endings from this post.

This bar always misleads me into thinking it’s something that it's not. As we walked in country music blared in my ears and the beer pong tournament was reaching a fever pitch. This may sound like a normal bar but I knew better. Every time I go here my blog just writes itself.

Tonight was no different.

I was sipping a beer (an abnormal drink choice but my desperation to fit in outweighed my desperation for a dirty martini) when I saw them. I gasped and tugged on my friend’s shirt.

Looooook.

It was KISS.

Okay, not really. But it was a man and a woman dressed as KISS. We are talking full-out, no holds barred, black puffy hair, pleather pants, and black and white make-up.

I took another sip of my beer as the one with the widow’s peak prepared to play beer pong.

As is the case most times, I was less amazed by the duo themselves and more amazed by everyone’s reaction.

Which was to not react.

Not even to acknowledge that a couple, dressed as KISS was playing beer pong at a bar called Happy Endings.

Anyone?

ANYONE??

When they started dancing to “Don’t Stop Believn’” no one even took time out of their conversations to notice that two members of KISS were grinding to Journey.

And I started to think about that damn little bunny again.

How people in LA can walk right by something so desperately and heart breakingly (yes that’s a word!) cute and have no reaction. How KISS can walk into a bar, kick ass at beer pong, and grind on the dance floor and no one gets out their cell phone to snap a picture.

If I walked up to Santa Monica Blvd right now wearing only whipped cream (don't worry, Dad just hypothetically speaking) I can guarantee NO ONE would blink an eye unless they were to ask me where I got it and if it was low-calorie.

There is something so lonely and so incredibly liberating to know that here in Los Angeles you can be anything and do anything. This creates a city that is beautiful and diverse, where creative things are allowed to happen.

But it can also be lonely. Like the bunny no one really wants you can go unnoticed – even if you are incredibly cute, furry and white. Or incredibly scary, shiny, and black and white.

As I walked to my car later that night, I passed the steps where the man had been. He and the bunny were gone.

I bet the KISS couple bought it.

They know what it’s like to have no one notice them.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mortified

Wednesday night I purposely humiliated myself in front of about 200 people.

The comedy show I was in, Mortified, went up last night. If you don’t remember what Mortified is go here…or here.

The entire day I was terrified. What if people don’t laugh? What if people don’t come? What if people throw raw eggs at me and ban me from ever setting foot in Los Angeles again?

Ok, so maybe I was overreacting.

But there was something terrifying about getting up on stage and reading your most private thoughts to an audience of strangers and having them laugh at your junior high pain.

As I was waiting backstage, I started to have an EXTREME case of stage fright. We are talking about the works – hives, shortness of breath, waterfalls in my armpits. And no amount of sternly repeating under my breath, “You are a professional, you are a professional,” was helping.

To make matters worse, the creator of the show, David, came up to me right before the band started and said, “Oh, by the way, you’re going first."

WHAT!?!?!

Why, WHY, would you put me first? I’m new to this! I need someone to warm up the audience! I need someone to jump in the ocean first to make sure there are no sharks!!

I felt the hives start to work thier way up my neck.

The show started and good ol’ Dave – who I now wanted to punch in the face - gets up on stage and says:

Welcome to the show! Tonight we have a special treat for you – before the show begins we want to share a video we did with Alanis Morissette where she shares some of her hilarious childhood lyrics.

Again…

WHAT?!?!?!?!

I have to follow ALANIS MORISSETTE??? Someone get me some oxygen…

The video ends and I walk on stage, trying to keep my arms down so no one will notice the half moons of sweat that have formed on my carefully chosen blue dress (the one that makes my waist look small.) I stand in the bright light for a second and then say,

Hi, I’m Jessica.

People laughed.

And I thought, “Wow, am I that funny?” But then I realized they were probably laughing at this:

Yep, that’s me (it's no wonder I had to beat boys away with a stick...) And that was me on Wednesday night, blown up on a giant screen in front of 200 strangers.

But something happened to me with that first laugh. I felt the hives start to recede and the sensation that I was going to pass out at any moment slowly die away.

I mean if Alanis Morissette can do it (and she Oughta Know) then so can I!

So I calmly started to just read my journals. The journals of an over-dramatic, angst-filled, sheltered, 14 year-old girl living in North Dakota in 1998.

And it was GREAT.

After everyone had performed my good buddy Dave got back up on stage and asked:

So, what did we learn tonight?


He listed funny bits from every performer's journals and ended saying,

But most of all we’ve learned that no matter how mortifying our teenage years were - we survived.

And I thought about what a terrible few weeks I’ve had and how I’ve been really down lately and how I've wanted to quit. But I didn't.

I survived too – junior high, and right now (which can feel like junior high.) I survived because of the people sitting in the back that cheered extra loud when I walked on stage. (Thanks guys!!)

I survived because my parents sent me lefse.

I survived because Kristi sent me toilet paper.

I survived because Michelle bought me face wash.

I survived becuase I know there will be a time in my life when I will look back on my journals from September of 2009 and think what an over-dramatic, angst-filled, sheltered, 25 year-old girl I was.

And that’s a nice thing to know.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hollywood HotDish: A Love Letter

Lately I've been trying to be more positive.

Yesterday, I was succeeding quite nicely. I skipped to my car, enjoying the California sun and noticed someone had left a note on my window.

"Oh, how nice," I thought. "Maybe a friend stopped by and I didn't know it."

Here is that heart-felt note:

Oh, how sweet.

I just have to point out two things:

1. I was not double parked.
2. I was staying positive.

I was positive this person was an ass.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Squeaky Wheel

My desperate cry for help worked.

The 'Number 2' blog seemed to turn things around for me. After I calmed my mother down (who had just read the blog and was none too fond to learn that her good sweet daughter had turned to stealing from big corporations like Starbucks) I had an influx of people asking me if I was okay. If they could buy me yogurt? If they could beat any one up? If they could buy me face wash? My friend Michelle went so far as to actually buy me face wash. (Thanks!!) And my parents sent me my favorite food: Lefse! (If you don't know what that is go here....it is it's own food group in North Dakota.)

Seriously, thank you for all the love everyone.

And while I didn’t write that blog so anyone one would feel sorry for me (ahem) it was nice to feel loved and supported. And speaking of supported…that brings me to this:


If you are looking at the picture asking yourself, “Is that a roll of toilet paper with ribbon around it?” The answer is,"Why yes it is."

Yesterday was a busy day. After trying to look beautiful for headshots (a hard task when you have GIGANTIC bags under your eyes from being stressed about tyring to look beautiful….the irony kills me every time.) I returned home, checked my mail and I found toilet paper, wrapped in a ribbon.

Did Starbucks catch on and decide to make a donation?

When I opened the box further I discovered it wasn’t only toilet paper, oh no, it was a box that included the MOST WONDERFUL care package I have ever received. A list:

- Facewash
- Toilet paper wrapped in a bow
- Cut out photos of famous people and why I’m going to be successful like them
- Pictures of Minnesota
- Crayons (because who doesn’t need to color)
- CHOCOLATE
- A framed photo of my friends and I in Europe
- Note Pads
- Post Cards of those 1940’s women saying sassy things
- A beautiful card (the kind that you read years from now and still cry)
- Make-up removal wipes
- Personal messages attached to each of the items.
- Did I mention there was CHOCOLATE? (And that it is now 8:52 in the morning and I just ate the last piece with my Kashi Go Lean Cereal. That was right before I didn’t work out and right after I skipped yoga.)

So as you can see, I think this deserves a mention. So THANK YOU, Kristi, for lifting my spirits. By the time I was done sifting through the basket of love my boss could have waltzed in and fired me, and I would have looked at him and said:

“Great! More time to wash my face and eat chocolate!”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Number Two

I recently heard that Los Angeles is the second most stressful city in the United States (after Chicago.)

Chicago must have won because of that whole 'windy city' thing.

It’s the only logical explanation that LA came in second. I mean how can a city with fire slowly encircling it, heat that makes you run your air conditioner until ice starts spraying from it (seriously, that happened) and people that make you hope those flying shards of ice will blind you so you don’t have to look at one more shallow person, not win??

Because LA deserves it. Believe me.

I’ve had a long week. And while I was trying to think of uplifting things to say about the week, how I learned some sort of life lesson or that I’m going to be okay (cue puffy white clouds and some cheery music) I have come up short.

But maybe that’s the point.

I shouldn’t try to candy coat how hard it can be out here sometimes. How poor and hungry I can be. (I’m currently sitting in Starbucks because this morning I joyfully found a gift card from months ago with five dollars left on it, rushed down the street, and am eagerly drinking caffeine and praying Mary-Kate Olsen was right when she said you could use it as an appetizer suppressant.)

I have no auditions.

I have no call from my agent.

I have no money.

I have no face wash. (Believe me, that’s a big deal.)

On Saturday I attended an alumni event for Concordia College (my alma mater.) Those sweet Minnesota kids had come all the way to California to play soccer. They were all so nice and young and innocent that I wanted to throw up (but that would have wasted too many calories.) And as I sat watching them, wishing I was like that again, the bitter, hangry me started thinking. I've decided there should be a college class that teaches these kids there will be a time in their life when they are so low on toilet paper they will have to steal some from Starbucks.

Ahem. That’s just a random example…

And for those of you who are going to make some sort of comment about how lucky I am not to be starving (debatable) in Africa, or being persecuted for my religion, or in the middle of a war (other than the one between me and my checkbook) I ALREADY KNOW. Even the mere fact that I have a computer to type this blog and a gift card to discover means I’m well ahead of the rest of the world.

But this is my party – er, I mean blog – and I can cry if I want to!

Did I mention I have no face wash?

Then again, maybe second place makes sense. Because that’s exactly what this week has been.

A big number two.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Boobs

A few weeks ago in acting class I saw two different women’s naked breasts.

I wasn’t even that surprised. I think that was more shocking than the breasts themselves. I just sat there, in my seat, staring at naked nipples and wondering when the scene will be over so I can go have my Sunday evening pizza.

I guess I’m jaded.

The old me would have blushed, sunk into her chair, and went home and wrote in her journal about the trauma. The adult me eats pizza and thinks about doing it herself the next week.

I revisited the old me for 33 hours this past weekend. I went home to North Dakota where the only exposure I have to deal with is from the weather. The trip was to attend the wedding of one of my best high school friends. I was an usher – a job that threw many good, solid, gender-role-upholding North Dakotans for a loop.

They’re just lucky I didn’t flash a boob.

I need to pause here and say this: Originally, this entry started out as a funny commentary about what it was like to be in the Midwest again. How quaint, unchanged, and old-fashioned all the people were. How lucky I am to have gotten out of there.

It would have sounded a little like this...

A guy in the airport bit into a Big Mac and made a noise that was comparable to one he probably makes when he's naked with a woman, a country song ringtone twanged on a cell phone, a man sat across from me reading a bible, and everyone was wearing jeans. I’m home.

It was going to be pretty funny (if I do say so myself.) I was pretty proud of the sassy, witty, educated observations I had made. I had eagerly scribbled them down on the back of my flight itinerary and laughed quietly to myself as I waited to board my connecting flight from Minneapolis to Grand Forks.

But something happened in those 33 hours.

As I was flying back to LA, I reread my original thoughts. And I didn’t like them.

Maybe it’s the fact that I had groaned like the man with the Big Mac when I bit into the mashed potatoes with meatballs and gravy that we ate for the wedding supper.

Maybe it’s the fact that I still say supper.

But as I sat rereading those funny thoughts, all I could think about was how pretentious I sounded. How high-and-mighty I was being. So what if the guy next to me on the plane had no concept of how expensive rent was in LA? I have no concept of how expensive spring wheat is.

But in the end, I think the deciding factor was that I had an amazing amount of fun.

Seriously, it was a rip-roarin’ good time.

In fact, it has been quite a while since I have felt so loved, so welcome, and so free to have two slices of cake.

I got the pleasure of seeing seven of my classmates (which is more than half my graduating class) and countless old teachers, mentors, neighbors, and friends. I was surrounded by people I loved – and who loved me. The whole wedding was a love-fest of drinking, reminiscing, and remembering why my little town – as much as I wanted to break away – was a great place to first experience the world.

So this once funny entry about crazy North Dakota has turned into a love letter to my home state. Mushy, and nauseating, and full of clich├ęs (especially that doozy of a line about ‘experiencing the world.’)

As I was boarding the plane to come back to LA, it seemed that North Dakota had one more thing to teach me. A young man turned to his friend and said excitedly:

“And than I took a shot off her bare titties!!”

I guess North Dakota really does have everything LA has.

Even boobs.