Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cherub Chasing.

The little boy roared. His arms were raised, hands spread, like the hands of a monster. His round caramel face was that of a cherub even when trying to frighten the children he was running after on the McDonald's play land. As he ran, his little feet, stuffed in socks and rugged gladiator sandals, pattered about on tiptoe which made his actions that much more amusing to watch.

He was having so much fun.

I sipped my black coffee as I watched them through the glass, unable to hear the shrieks of the three long-haired, blond brothers my little cherub was chasing.

But he wasn't my cherub at all. He belonged to the man whom he ran to for a hug when he tripped over his own stomping sandals. He belonged to his baby brother who he kissed clumsily before returning to play and left to rest peacefully in his stroller next to the dad. He belonged to a momma who wasn't there. He didn't belong to me.

Still, I watched him and thought about what if he had.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Love Hunger.

It's feast or famine
When I examine
How
I love.

She thought about tattooing that to her arm today. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

On Gray Days.

On gray days, like today, she wondered where the sun went. Wondered if it went on hiatus as had her own will to create joy. Wondered if it was secluded in a cozy cafĂ© drinking the cup of coffee she’d given up, worried that too much caffeine was the cause of all her troubles, as the magazines told her. Wondered if it had just …given up. She twisted her brown hair wistfully between her long fingers while sipping her Ginger tea from a white mug with a red heart on it and staring out her bay window at the gray that enveloped the cars and people and trucks and dogs and trees and flowers as they carried on without the sunshine. As she stared, she decided, with an encouraging smile that grazed her lips briefly, “…If they can do it, shouldn’t I…?”

She sipped the herbal, now at least thirty minutes old and still trying to hold on to some warmth like a grandma does her memories of youth. The tea wasn’t bad. It was certainly no Intelligentsia, but it wasn’t bad. She figured she could learn to like it. Like liver. Or like now. Learning to like the gray that was doing nothing wrong, but merely existing and clouding her thoughts with ideas on where the sun had gone. She wondered why she focused on the one day, out of at least twenty-five or more, where there was no sun, rather than focusing on all those others when it did exist. She felt ungrateful; “Sorry,” she said, to no one. She was alone, as was often the case, these days. She wiggled her toes in her rainbow-striped socks as she sat at her butcher-block kitchen table; the whir of the fridge keeping her company. She looked at its beige-ness. Beige.  It had come with the apartment. She relished the day she would be able to buy her own spankin’ new refrigerator. (Would she pick stainless steel? A shiny lacquered Red one? A vintage, 1970s yellow number…?) That day felt far away, but she knew it would come. It would come and she wouldn’t be alone. The kitchen would be filled with the voices she’d been dreaming of; big ones and little ones belonging to those who would fulfill her life and not give her the luxury to sit and lament about the color of the sky. Until then, she was at one with beige. She looked at a yellow sticky note trapped under a blue magnet with a motivational motivator: “In twenty years, you’ll regret what you didn’t do today…” or something like that. She’d read it so many times over the years in the rented kitchen, that she stopped reading what it actually said and chose to remember what she thought it said. She sighed, “Same difference.” She turned from the fridge, back to the window and the life outside it, because she remembered that the months’ old note under the magnet shouted, “BUY FRIDGE LIGHT!!!” The little bulb inside the refrigerator had given up.  She’d been meaning to get another one. Although it was dark in the fridge, somehow she stopped caring that she couldn’t see the orange juice when she tiptoed at night in her PJs to swig from it. But, maybe it was time she did.   

She rose, swallowed the last of her tea and stretched as she placed the cup in the porcelain sink. She grabbed the sticky note and threw it in the trash bin under the sink. She repositioned the magnet and smiled as she read it again because she hoped that when the voices finally came, one by one as they only could come, the ones that would color her life, that the magnet would be right and that she’d have no regrets. Even on gray days.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trans-Fixed.

I’ll admit I have a curious nature about myself. If there is a shiny, silver nickel in the gutter, I’ll wonder how it got there and to whom it belonged. If there is a discarded leather chair on the side of the road, I’ll first wonder if there are bed bugs in it and if so, if that is the reason it has been chucked from the warmth of its former home…and then I will wonder who sat in it, when they sat in it, and if the sitter was anything like Archie Bunker.


I don’t let my curiosity get the best of me…I’m good about it only leading me so far. I have no desire to be killed (like a cat). That is why one late night when I saw two pair of empty shoes (Chuck Taylor’s and women’s ballerina flats) abandoned in front of an ATM on Magnolia in North Hollywood, I let it alone, because clearly they had either been abducted by aliens while trying to get cash from the SAG/AFTRA ATM…or worse. There was an empty parking lot nearby and I could only imagine that some mean guy had carted them off into the darkness after forcing not only their pin number from them, but also from out of their shoes.

I have this same curiosity about the Transvestites that work on Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland in Hollywood.

If you live in Los Angeles, or visited, you’ve seen these ladies working their stuff up and down Santa Monica and/or congregating at the Donut Shop on the north east corner. You’ve watched with awe and sometimes shock at the outfits, at the hair, at the sashaying, at the chatty-Kathy coffee-clutch gaggle of them as they sit at the bus stop jawing about God knows what. (And you know I want to know!)

The other day, I’d just finished a great breakfast meeting with a friend at the Hollywood Corner restaurant which is on Highland and Lexington, just a few blocks South of Santa Monica. I sat in my car as I planned the rest of my day via my smartphone. I looked up in thought and from my driver’s side window, I noticed a shiny silver purse and a shirt thrown on top of a garage across the street. “Arrrrguuu-ment” I thought as I imagined a hissy fit that involved Tranny 1 mad at Tranny 2 for steppin’ in on her man. I’d hoped there was nothing valuable in the purse and that they’d made up by now.

As I stared at the purse, a lovely lady with flowing Britney-blond hair and Marie-Antoinette pale skin came into view as the street light changed at the corner. He was pedaling like Mary Poppins on a very cute bicycle, with not a Mary Poppin’s worry about him. I wondered if he was headed home or if he was roaming the block looking for work...? He wore a cap, black fitted tank top, black thigh-high boots and short-shorts as he strolled by. As he neared, I felt he was going for Liza Minnelli in “Cabaret”, but quite expired for the outfit as he may have been about 60 years old. He reminded me of (perhaps) the only Transvestite in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She would come into the McDonald’s where I worked in high school. I always thought of the courage she had, walking into McD’s with the wig and the matted fur coat; full blue and green make up at 7am on a Sunday; the bad nude Walgreen’s hose and the sensible size 11 heels. I wondered if she was lonely…what is life like as you become an aging Transvestite? I always smiled my best smile as I handed her her morning coffee, and she would smile back just as warmly through her bright pink lipstick.

Blond Liza sailed by my driver’s side and I was alone with my smartphone. But, not for long! I was next visited by someone I'll call, Brown Roxie. I saw her legs first as she Tyra Banked across the cross walk in front of me. She had very, very nice legs -- quite toned. I was almost jealous until she turned her torso to address some incessant honking; it was then I saw way too much ass. Roxie was wearing extra-small bikini-cut bootie shorts circa Xanadu. She wore army boots, and a tank. Her very short, low fade looked fantastic. (I wondered if she was working yet because she didn't have a weave...but, then, there is a huge trend towards being natural these days, so...). Roxie walked past me and I couldn't help but stare at her sashaying butt in my rear-view mirror and she caught me, which was highly embarrassing. She stopped as she looked at me through the window; confused or maybe annoyed with me. I looked down. I was intruding. Still, I wondered. Was Brown Roxie going home, too? Was this the outfit she wore to go get milk at 7-eleven? I wonder so many things because I don’t know. If I asked, would Brown Roxie have coffee with me at Hollywood Corner and let me ask any question I wanted??

Brown Roxie’s firm butt bounced about in my brain as crazy Trixie rounded the corner and ended up on the sidewalk near my car on the passenger side. She was in a trendy army coat; rocked ripped, cute black leggings and was wearing ear bud headphones...now Trixie was rocking her brown weave, to and fro; fro and to as she started doing pivot turns on the block. Her long, square-cut French manicure fingernails caressed a wooden telephone while she sauntered around it and drew on a cigarette. She seemed bored, or preoccupied. But, she started dancing. And singing. And twerking. Was there music in the earphones? Who knows. Do working-girl Tranny’s go for anyone who is interested, including women? I mean, for all she knows, I was lurking in my car trying to score or something. I have to think that that is why I was getting Beyonce’s half-hearted half-time show that took place in the space of two sidewalk squares.

I’m not any closer to understanding the world of these ladies than when I moved to LA or when I served my friend at McDonald’s. But, I hope one day to get over my curiosity and just ask.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Uncertainty.


In Los Angeles, there are plenty of things to do when you feel anxious that your life is going nowhere and you don’t know where to turn. You can drink crappy wine out of a sippy cup while curled up in your bed watching “Scandal” via Netflix on your smartphone; you can sit on your coffee table and stare at your front door for hours while you talk yourself in and out of what to do and where to go should you decide to put your hand on the door knob and make it do something, or…you can go to the beach.
   
I live in the Valley which is about forty-five minutes from Venice Beach -- without traffic. It took some effort to get myself in my car and drive to what many people pay several hundred dollars in vacation money to experience.
As I walked through the bronzed sand towards the pier, the sun smiled a warm, ”Welcome!” and a gentle breeze hugged me as if to say, “We’ve missed you.” I took off my hoody and allowed them to usher me in and make myself comfortable.

I found myself at the end of the pier where I leaned against the metal railing more for comfort than safety, and watched not the people so much, but the pelicans. They were yawning. Didn’t know they could do that. There was something soothing about watching those prehistoric-looking birds open their huge beaks for the sole purpose of …relaxing. As though an appetizer to nature’s four-course meal to come, I enjoyed that moment and felt ready for whatever was coming next. I turned my attention to the guys fishing. Among the dozen or so, there was one who caught my attention. He was younger than “the regulars”…the retired Hispanic, Armenian and maybe Russian grandpas with years of experience etched in their foreheads as they sat near their white buckets of water ready to hold their catch of the day. This guy was 20-ish, full of enthusiasm and brown, like me. He caught me looking at him and jubilantly waved me over. Naturally, like a spoon to soup, I dipped over to him.

He was a nice guy. Twenty-seven. Ja-MAY-can. No dreads. His name was Prince or George. I called him Prince George. He did construction but was a chef back home. Which me missed terribly. He told me how he prepares the Halibut or Lobster he might catch. Yummy. I found that intriguing. Intriguing enough to sit and watch and chat about water, fish, life and such. Three hours later he invited me to go get a chili corn dog…we walked to the boardwalk and ordered our grub. I had a burger, no dogs for me…but quite possibly when of the best worst burgers I’d had in a while. As we wiped our mouths and fed remaining French fries to the Seagulls who’d become our guests, I quietly asked if I could fish too since he had two poles. He said, “Yes!” I smiled politely, but inside, yodeled, “Yee-hah!”

There were more and new people in the space we left. I parked myself between Kevin (a film lighting guy) and a 10-year-old girl with long dark hair and big eyes…she was so cute and a pro. Her madre sold tamales to the fishermen. She smiled at me with encouragement; I do believe she could tell I hadn’t really been fishing since I was about her age. I cast my line out over the railing and into the vast ocean with gusto. I watched my line ebb and flow in the depths of the dark blue-green water. I couldn’t help but feel like the bait on my hook: an entity cast into a world of unknown harnessed with a purpose that was non-specifically specific. I’m a writer/actor/producer who lives a life of uncertainty. Uncertainty, no matter what your profession, is unsettling, like the ocean...but, like the ocean, can also offer such reward.

While pondering this, I felt my line tug…the little girl smiled at me and motioned for me to pull out the line as I jumped with excitement that something was happening! I pulled out my line and saw my prize: a little, tiny Smelt. It was my Smelt and I was happy for the success. The girl and Prince George helped me get him safely off the line and we threw him back in. I waved as I saw him swim back to his family. I quickly got new bait and went at it again! I caught two more Smelt, some “Croakers”/King Fish and a baby Perch. By then, dusk was skimming the horizon; the little girl had left with her mother; and Prince George had retreated to the benches and was listening to his headphones. He was bored whereas I was still havin’ a smashing time. Then it happened. I felt my rod jerk again – but this time, whatever was there was heavier than anything I’d caught so far. Oh God. What if I’d caught Jaws or a 25lb catfish or a baby sea monster? I started to pull him in, but was having trouble. Yikes. Yikes. YIKES! I keep turning to Prince George… “Help George! HELP!”…but he couldn’t hear me ‘cause he was rhymin’ way out-loud along with 50 Cent. Finally, one of the Hispanic fisher grandpas who’d caught and already filleted a four-foot “Guitar” shark moseyed over to Prince George and nudged him. Fisher ‘Pa said nothing, just nodded his head toward me, the wide-eyed damsel in distress. Prince George jumped up and rescued me. We pulled in the line, well, he pulled in the line, and there flopping on the end was not Jaws or a monster, but a medium-sized Bass!! I was thrilled! Once again, we removed the hook and threw him back, just like all the others. I finally bid adieu to Prince George, and I beamed as I walked down the pier and zipped my hoody. I felt nourished and successful and knew with certainty, that there is happiness in the uncertain.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Gum Smacker.

It was silent, except for the constant smish-smash smacking sound of the gum being brutalized and manipulated between the molars of the man’s mouth. When his teeth weren’t man-handling the Wrigley’s that she imagined had been in his mouth since the day before, his tongue maneuvered around to do the rest. (She hypothesized that he was a terrible, terrible French kisser.) His lips were drawn tightly against his teeth as his jaw jumped up and down like a jack hammer on the loose. The longer he chewed the gum, she swore the sound became more amplified…like there was a microphone right underneath his chin and the speaker was wired directly into her head.

She wanted to punch him to get him to stop. And she was a petite girl. She wanted to jump on all fours across the room and straddle his body as though she were a werewolf in heat and them pummel his head with her fists until that damn wad of grey gum he was slurping was released from the slimy captivity of his mouth.

She knew the more humane thing to do would be to politely ask him to chew with his mouth closed. Or maybe ask him something funny like, “How’s that gum tasting?” Or, “Do you have any more gum because you’re sure making that piece SOUND really good.” But, she knew she didn’t have the balls to say anything.

Instead she sat there and got more and more heated as she turned the pages of her magazine harder and faster and huffed and puffed louder and harder…hoping this subliminal message would get him to shut the fuck up.

But then a miracle happened. His name was called and he left. He took his mouth with him. The speaker in her head melted into nothingingness. Her shoulders relaxed. The lines on her forehead relaxed. A smile returned to her lips. She was thankful. All was right with the world.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Missing The Point.

She turned up the radio as she placed her elbow on the warm driver’s side window. Traffic was going no where in a hurry and she was late to work, again. Her opportunity to avoid being late had been consumed earlier that morning. She’d spent fifteen minutes standing in her mismatched underwear in front of her closet. She had stared longingly at the cute clothes she wanted to put on: a tank top, some cut-off jean shorts, a cute vintage vest. But it was Ugly Monday, a day that wouldn’t allow such things. In those fifteen minutes, she’d used every bit of rationing she could to get herself to push some clothes aside and find a skirt and jacket, suitable “Monday Gear”, to then get her to the next phase of the morning: hair and make up. She pushed. Pushed again. And pushed one more time until she found a skirt she felt she could manage living in for eight hours. She reached for the skirt’s wire hanger, but the hanger had turned into an unruly four-year old who’d just been told it was time to leave the playground. The hanger didn’t scream, of course, but it hung onto another hanger like a kid with a strong hold on the jungle gym. She tugged. She wrestled. She cursed. She negotiated. She gave up. Kinda. Angry, she stomped her un-manicured foot and she started to rearrange her closet so that this would never happen again! How dare her closet make her late? Bad closet, BAD! She rearranged for a gooood seventeen minutes. Still in her underwear. Still nowhere near hair and make up. Still just not anywhere near close to leaving for work. (This sorta thing happened often her life. She was working on it. Just not today.)  Once she was satisfied with the tidy effects of her scolding, she had jumped into her gear, ran across her parking lot in bare feet with heels in hand and jumped into the car thinking somehow she had won. …

Through her amber-tinted shades, she glanced up at shadowed palm trees towering in the hazy morning sun. She leaned her head back and tried to allow the sun’s warm fingers to massage her temples as she sang along with Christina Aguilera: “I am beautiful…in every single way…” A tear slid down her face. It wasn’t that she didn’t feel beautiful; she knew that she was, just not all the time. Like right now. She didn’t bother to wipe the tear away. Instead, she lifted her head from its comforting place and reached for her make-up bag on her lap. She slid on a smooth glide of lip gloss. She didn’t need a mirror. She’d had years of practice of getting beautiful in the car. But, to make sure she didn’t look like Jennifer Coolidge in “Best in Show”, she took a glance. As she made eye contact with herself, she knew she shoulda promised herself something else, something remotely encouraging, but instead she promised herself, “No more wire hangers!”.