Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Break-Up Letter

Dear Slog,

It pains me to say this, it really does. But on some level, I think you knew it was coming. We both knew. And I guess I could go a lifetime not saying it, but I respect you too much, you've done too much for me, for me to leave without a proper goodbye. I don't want this blog to be a ghost town that exists forever, abandoned, on the internet and creeps people out because it's always just there. Like MySpace.

We need closure, Slog, because we've been so important to each other. You got me through some of the darkest days of my last Moscow winter. You were there for me when my plans for the future (moving to LA?!? working in television?!?) started to stress me out. And, most important of all, you provided just the right outlet when I wanted, nay needed, to share my thoughts on the bathrooms at LCSC, or honey, or just really had to post an All-4-One music video. Thank you for that.

Thanks most of all, though, for allowing a forum for me to meet some lovely new people and receive encouraging comments from my friends and family. I can't tell you the number of times that I woke up in the morning and found blog-comments from friends, and started the day on a much happier, hopefuller, note. What a beautiful thing!

Now, though, our lives are going in different directions. More specifically, my life is going in the direction I really, really wanted it to, and as a result--your life is going nowhere. Sorry about that. Something I've come to learn, as I work hard at my entertainment-industry, "watching television is research, no really, it is" job, is that a person like me only has so much creative brain juice on any given day. Right now, all my brain juice is bypassing this blog completely in order to be available to me at work, or when I write the scripts I'm trying to write.

I don't have enough juice to keep you going. See? It's not you, Slog. It's me. I hope we can be friends down the road. I mean, we're both adults, right? After all, I could've said this.

Goodbye, dear Slog! I'll miss you!


PS: My profoundest thanks to everyone who read my blog over the ten loooong months of it's life. I don't think you know the impact you've had. I was surprised and completely encouraged by your support. Much, much love.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name

Last weekend, I reactivated my Netflix account for the fifteenth-billion time. Maybe some of you reading this had that one tortured, teenage, on-again, off-again love affair with someone you totally loved but just couldn't make it work out, no matter how hard you both tried?

That's me and Netflix.

But, we've started it up again, even though I know I'm only going to end up getting hurt. Right now, it is so, so good. Instant viewing, friends. Instant viewing. I've been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer like it was my job (except for when I'm doing my actual job for twelve hours a day). And last weekend, I saw something on Netflix I've always, always wanted to see.

The woman I am named after.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: Hey, that's Betty Joan Perske!

Oh you're not thinking that? Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske, then changed her name to something she found a little more glamorous. (Strange side note: Humphrey Bogart was born Humphrey Bogart, and didn't feel compelled to change his name at all. So cool.)

And Lauren Bacall, dear friends, was cast in two episodes of the late 1970s classic The Rockford Files, as one Kendall Warren.

So, there you have it.

Here's the legend that has developed in my own head concerning my name. I imagine my parents watching TV, clicking through the channels with their brick-like remote that had four buttons on it total (I remember this remote), with my mother hugely pregnant on the couch. Then, The Rockford Files comes on, beautiful Kendall Warren crosses the screen, I give my mother a swift kick to the ribs to let her know I like the name, and two months later, I am born screaming and hairy as an ape and my parents smile down at me and, with tears shining in their eyes, they say, "We shall call her Kendall."

What my parents have actually said was, "Lauren Bacall played a character named Kendall on The Rockford Files and we thought it sounded like a good name, so we picked it."

Somewhere along the way in my self-mythologizing, I decided something else: Kendall Warren was a powerful and successful attorney, wise and no-nonsense, upholding the law and punishing criminals in a good-looking suit. And my parents gave me the name because they knew I was going to be powerful, with an infallible sense of justice.

So imagine my surprise when I sit down to my Netflix instant viewing to watch The Rockford Files, Season 6, Episodes 2 and 3, to meet at last Kendall Warren, this woman for whom I am named, to whom I feel connected each time someone calls me, or when I put my signature at the bottom of a check.

And I find that Kendall Warren is not an attorney at all, but a broke hanger-on traveling in circles of the world's wealthiest and most powerful people, getting along by hook and by crook. She's got no job and she's got no money.

What the what? I could actually hear the record scratch as my brain worked overtime to revise the story I'd told myself my entire life. Some part of my identity felt compromised by this information. Who am I, I asked myself? And why did my parents name me after a (very pretty) social-climber who knows how to get a free lunch?

I handled the news the way I handle most news: I got myself a snack. I exchanged a few pleasantries with Fatty the Hamster. I came back and resumed watching, anxious to see how this new story would play out.

When the episodes had ended, and Rockford had saved the day (and Kendall Warren) I was back to being okay with my name. Because Kendall Warren was resourceful, and she was a scrapper who cleaned up real nice, and she was a woman who knew how to work the system. And maybe, at this point in my life, that sort of resourcefulness will serve me better than a good-looking suit and a knowledge of penal codes.

Not to mention that the most important aspect of my name-origin story isn't that I was named after a powerful lawyer. The most important aspect of my name-origin is that I get my name from a TV character. As if my parents knew, nearly twenty-eight years ago, that I would end up here in LA, doing exactly what I'm doing: scrapping.

Nominally yours,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do.

Last week, I took a field trip to the Los Angeles Zoo. It was educational.

I took the slog, and photo-documented all the weirdest animals I saw. Sadly, I didn't write down the names of any of them, so I can't even tell you what many of these creatures are called. But they are beautiful. (And, okay, I know flamingos, and the emperor tamarind because that one was my very, very favorite--it's the little monkey with the serious white mustache).

As I walked the zoo, getting a little sunburnt, because apparently in LA you should wear sunscreen if you're going to be outdoors for five hours, I had the disturbing realization that we--homo sapiens--are like the plainest animals on the planet. In fact, we're downright boring when compared to flamingoes (flamingos? my computer is telling me both are correct) whose knees bend backwards, or goat creatures with crazy shaggy hairdos and spiraling horns.

I had also forgotten that sometimes, at the zoo, animals stare back at you. Especially meerkats. It's like nobody told them they're the exhibit. And I wanted to say, "Hey, don't waste your time watching us. What've we got? Some flexible thumbs, and wimpy skin that is allergic to sunlight. You know who doesn't need SPF? That crazy blobby warthog thing next to the flamingoes (flamingos?)."

I rode the bus, the LA city bus, to get to the zoo (and lest you compliment me on my resourcefulness, I should tell you that Kate--my roommate's best friend and our houseguest this week--figured out all the logistics. I was, as they say, along for the ride). Here's what I saw:

A mother clutching her daughter's overalls so she couldn't fall out of the bus seat.

A little boy who begged and begged for his grandmother to sit next to him, but she didn't, so he had to sit next to his sister, which he obviously found pretty disgusting. Until he forgot she was disgusting, and they told each other jokes and made each other laugh the whole way to where they were going.

A constant rotation of people taking seats, and then offering up their seats the moment they saw someone older, or more infirm, get on the bus.

An ancient, ancient man who shuffled onto the bus, then helped another ancient man onto the bus at the next stop, and then they got off the bus together, and a very young man with a skateboard helped them down the stairs at their stop.

I guess this is just common courtesy, but I saw so much of it--and I was on the LA city bus, so I expected the sort of indifference that mass transit in a huge city would seem to invite. What I saw, the whole ride, was a surprising gentleness and desire to connect. People just wanted to be helpful.

Then, at the zoo, I was walking behind a big man in oversized clothes. He had lots of blue tattoos like I associate with gang tattoos. He even had a tear drop tattooed under his eye. My brain categorized him as "a rough sort," and I wondered, "what's this guy doing at the zoo?"

He passed a woman pushing a stroller just at the moment her frustrated toddler managed to launch himself right out of his seat and sort of flip towards the pavement. I froze, frightened for the ensuing injury. But in a single, swift, and gentle motion, before the kid could even hit the ground, the same "rough sort" swooped him up and landed him back in his mother's arms, like it was the most natural thing in the world. No hesitation. He didn't even pause, or miss a step. The woman said thank you, dumbfounded, and the kid had this dopey, wide-eyed expression like, "What the hell just happened?"

It was all kinds of heroic.

And my point is that even up against such exotic, curious animals as flamingos (flamingoes?), tapirs, and emperor tamarinds, we people can hold our own.



Monday, June 28, 2010

At Last, AT LAST!!

It finally happened!!! At long last. I was wondering when it would happen--if it would happen, even--and it did.

I saw my first CELEBRITY. My first FAMOUS PERSON. It couldn't have been more perfect. It was all I could've hoped for. There I was at the Ralph's, buying some healthy groceries (tortilla chips), when I turned around and, just a few aisles over, a bonafide STAR. Who was it?

Who was it??

This guy:

Sonny Crockett. Nash Bridges. Don Johnson.

And now, for you, this gift. From Don J. Soooo smooth.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Los Angeles for the Lonely Hearts to write this without sounding like a total, how, how...

Nope. No way around it. Last night I went to a concert by myself. I can't be sure, but it certainly looked like I was the only one who traveled solo. (Especially judging by the number of people who made out with each other's faces the whole night long--they either came together, or they're very, very friendly.) I got myself a nice comfy seat in the balcony, and tried to act like I was completely okay with being alone.

(This is Josh Ritter. He played last night. I'd travel to the ends of the earth (alone) to watch him. He's that good.)

Actually, I got very busy with my phone--sending profound emails to my mom ("Hi Mom. I'm at a concert!"), rereading old text messages, reaching out to people I haven't spoken to in years. Just pushing, pushing, pushing the little keyboard letters, to let the other concert-goers, and most importantly myself, know that: I KNOW PEOPLE, people! I've got FRIENDS! Plenty of people would've LOVED to come to this concert WITH ME, but they all live in OTHER STATES.

Then, I got tired of looking at that tiny screen. I put my phone away. I decided to give up the ghost, and own the fact that a) I traveled alone and b) I'm totally new to this town. I also decided a beer would really help my efforts at self-acceptance. So, I began to avail myself of the various venue employees, who were conveniently dressed all in black. (Luckily, this is LA, so all black stands out. In New York, I would've been lost, lost, lost.)

I said to one, "How do I get a drink?" He said, "Go down and get a bracelet." I went downstairs.

I said to another, "I'd like a bracelet so I can drink," and he said, "Ask that woman." I asked that woman, who said, "No, you don't need a bracelet."

I went back inside, and the woman taking tickets said, "No coming and going," and I said, "I just thought I had to get a bracelet." She said, "You do have to get a bracelet, because you look about nineteen." I said, "Thank you. So can I come and go back for my bracelet?" She said, "Okay."

I procured the bracelet! I tried to order a drink downstairs, but the man in black said I had to order upstairs. I went upstairs, but saw no bar. I asked the woman taking balcony tickets, "Is there an invisible bar on this floor?" She said, "No, there's a bar upstairs. Up these stairs." She pointed.

I said, "Can you tell I've never been here before?" She nodded and said, "That's alright."

I was relieved. I ordered my beer. I found my seat. I pretended the open seat on either side of me was just part of my massive throne, and that I, Kendall, did in fact RULE THIS WHOLE TOWN.


Monday, June 21, 2010

The one where I make a mess of metaphors.

A wise person once said, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." This is especially important when you don't have a job. Otherwise, I'd be going around town in a Sunset Strip Emperor's New Clothes scenario, which would garner plenty of attention, but not the right kind. Or, alternately, I suppose I could stay in my pajamas all day, and shuffle around like the women pushing their shopping carts up and down Fairfax. But I promised my mom I would come home before that happened.

So, every day, I wake up and I dress like I have a job. Then, I make a list of things to do that includes things like, "Buy cotton balls," and "Eat lunch," and "Where is the ATM?" These mundane tasks have become the cornerstones of my day. That's okay, for a little while. And I've got a few forges in the fire, too. Is that the expression? "forges in the fire?"...

--Okay, after about twenty minutes in the bowels of the internet, I can tell you that it is "irons in the fire," but the hearth in which those irons are fired up is sometimes called a forge (and also a smithy). (Usually, though, the word is used as a verb, meaning to shape or mould). Anyway, I'm sure I've totally bored any of you who've stuck with me thus far. Sorry. I fancy myself a wordsmith, and this slog is my smithy (forge).

Back to business. I've got a few irons in the fire. And trust me when I say that I'm going to strike while the iron is hot. Etc. Etc.

While I wait for the irons to get hot enough to strike, little things keep reminding me that I've made the right choice. Exhibit A: the magnets on the fridge at my apartment.

The thing is: these aren't my magnets. They were already here. But they express the very underpinnings of my own heart. Aren't they BEAUTIFUL??

Sartorially, magnetically yours,


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Los Hombres

These, here, are Los Hombres. The men. (And me. Can you guess which one I am?) JT used to be just un chico, but he turned 21 a month ago--so, Hombre. T has the beard, just to let the world know that he's total Hombre. And then, my dad. The original Hombre.

Today is Father's Day, so I felt like looking for a picture of me and my Dad, and then my two brothers came with it. No matter--they're my dad's kids too--so far as we know! Wink, wink. -Also, they'll be dads someday (in the distant, distant, DISTANT future), and they'll be super good at it. They're muy chulo.

(In LA, you see a lot more Spanish, so I'm practicing bilingualism, which I really believe in.)

Do you think we look alike? I hope so. I think the Hombres son guapos.

(I also think this bilingual slog is starting to read like an episode of Dora the Explorer.)

Here are some things about my dad:

1. He can play music by ear. I still don't understand how that works. He hears music, then he sits down, and he can play it. Like a genius music freak: Mozart, Yo-Yo Ma, My Dad.

2. He used to make his kids a dessert of milk, bananas and brown sugar. Now it doesn't sound all that appealing, but at the time: Nectar of the Gods.

3. When I was younger, sometimes he took me camping (never far from a clean, flushing toilet), and sometimes he had to take me to fancy-shmancy father-daughter dinner dances. He did both, without complaining.

4. Once, I tried to say that I liked spending time at home (because I did like spending time at home--I love it), so I said, "I guess I'm just really homely." My dad shouted, "What did you say?? You're not homely! You're beautiful!!!" I said, "I just meant I like being at home." And he said, "Oh. You mean homey." The point is: Dad is a slang term for "booster of self-esteem."

5. I am not sure if this actually happened or not, and I keep forgetting to ask my dad, but I have a very vivid, clear memory of being at the beach as a really young kid. I was wandering in the surf, when a wave crept up and swept me off my feet. I remember floating on my back, and seeing the expanse of gray sky, and feeling myself moving with the waves away from the beach. I didn't even have time to freak out. Then, my dad's head loomed into my field of vision, and he grabbed me out of the water. And I was like, "Yeah, I knew he'd come for me."

It doesn't really matter if that memory is factually true, because emotionally, it totally is.

Happy Father's Day!!