Monday, August 27, 2007

Big Bang

Today started with a bang. Or rather, kind of a high pitched, piercing "HWAAAAAAAAIIIIIIII" sound.

It seems every Sunday night I tuck myself into bed, nestle myself beneath the soft down of my plush comforter and turn onto my left side in the semi fetal position... Only to be woken within hours (always too few) with a shrill and guttural noise coming from the window right beside my head. The building directly adjacent to mine has their gardening service come on Monday mornings, which involves a lone man in a full-body gardening suit (or so I think-- I've never actually seen him) hosing the daylights out of some giant leaf pile (What leaves?! It's August!) or razoring back some mammoth wall of brush that seems to have grown in the past six days (what could have grown in six days?!). Whatever large, manly tool he is using, it is always loud, always jarring, and I always seem to forget this fact on Sunday night.

I think my neighbors should hire this guy. He seem so quiet! Not
a big, mean, sleep-banishing tool in sight.

I mean, if somehow I could anticipate his arrival (how do I even know "he" is a he? This garden ninja on a weekly rampage could be the little Vietnamese lady who owns the nail shop across the street, picking up a few extra bucks before the shop opens) I could have earplugs positioned so I don't wake up at the dawn of every new week going, "OH for the LOVE OF..."

Anyway. What I'm saying is, this morning started out like every other Monday morning I've had in LA: loud and sort of angry. But it didn't last for long. As much as I would have preferred to be woken by a soft glow of sunlight reflecting off the building next to mine or wildflowers tickling my cheeks, I realized that I had gotten an adequate night's sleep and threw off the covers before shuffling into the girl's room. That's where the second bang happened.

I won't go into details, but let's just say it quickly became clear that something was awry in my bathroom. A loud shuddering started coming from the wall holding all the plumbing, (imagine trying to process that while you're... well... doing the first thing you do in the morning) followed by a loud THUMP. Oh geez. This was not going to be good. As I proceeded with my morning regime, I turned the faucet-- nothing. Dry as a bone. Reached to flush the toilet. Silent. Rushed to the other side of my apartment and turned the kitchen faucet, only to be met by the same deafening silence. (Of all the times I wanted noise...)

My water was out. As I found out later by creeping out into the hallway, eye boogers still firmly in place, cowlick standing proud, to ask the guys next door what the fuss was about, two toilets in the building were getting ripped out and the water was off. How sweet of them to tell me. ("When will it be back on?" "Um. If you hear your toilet running, tell us.") Perfect.

After spending several hours in my apartment, a prisoner to my own morning breath, I realized it might be possible to wash my face and brush my teeth with the half-full bottle of SmartWater I had in the kitchen...

I could SO survive in the wilderness. (Or at least a fully furnished apartment with no water.)

But then I had a startling realization. Bathroom facilities were soon going to be urgently required-- it seems the tall glass of water I had with breakfast was making itself known... And the thought of using my commode with no running water sent chills down my spine. But hey, I need to go get some fruit, fish, and flax seed oil! (I swear that was my grocery list) And WholeFoods has a bathroom! (What's that I hear? Illusions of my class and gentility shattering?) It's economical-- WholeFoods has always been able to meet the majority of my shopping needs, and now they would be able to meet one more. (They're always so sweet like that...) So after the requisite grooming with the cleanest water to ever touch my face, I went to WholeFoods for groceries... And the bathroom.

So now I sit, reclining on my chenille love seat, belly full with peaches I bought this afternoon, water coursing through the pipes in my walls, and knowing that I won't be rudely awakened again until Friday. (Trash pickup. Even worse.) And that was my day today. Big bangs, hydration hangups, and multi-purpose market trips. If only WholeFoods had a shower...

"Hey, do you guys have a locker room back there?"

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Living Wounded

I was on my way over to the soy milk when I saw her. Inconspicuously I selected my carton of choice and turned slightly to see her standing just down the aisle from me. Thick, wooden platforms clonked against the tiled floor, her diminutive figure swathed in a breezy, brightly-colored floor-length dress. Stacks of golden bangles jingled against her bony wrists as she reached for a bottle of iced tea while talking pointedly into the Blackberry pressed to her overly-tan, unnaturally deeply lined face. I tried not to stare. I knew immediately who she was, but couldn't quite remember her name... "Who's that super skinny stylist?"

Lindsay Lohan, Nikki Hilton, Nicole Richie, and Rachel Zoe

Rachel Zoe is the stylist. THE stylist. With a client list that reads like a who's-who of hot young Hollywood, she's an incredibly connected, incredibly talented, incredibly powerful woman. She's the first celebrity dresser to ever truly become a celebrity in her own right, turning what was once a grunt job into a highly-influential wheel in the mighty machine of celebrity. Every young starlet who is worth anything in this town has either worked with her, or is dying to work with her, and fashionistas across the country would scratch each others eyes out at the chance at a piece of her closet. With all her power in the celebrity community, rumors have swirled that her influence extends beyond the wardrobe-- accusations that she's advised her clients to slim down drastically, offering them horse steroids and encouraging eating disorders. Clients like Nicole Richie, Mischa Barton, and Lindsay Lohan have shrunk before the public eye in recent years, and it's hard not to point a finger at the very woman they all seem to be emulating-- Zoe herself. An ultra-thin, over-bleached, over-tan Hollywood barbie doll, whose eyes bear a constant smudging of dark eyeshadow concealing the after effects of late-night overindulgences, here she was right in front of me.

Sure she's powerful. Sure she has incredible influence. Sure she has seemingly captured lightning in a bottle and is churning out perfectly-imperfectly dressed, underfed starlets that the world can't seem to get enough of. And sure, the giant gold watch on her scrawny arm probably cost more than my car (when it was new!). But I felt sorry for her. Granted, I've never met her so I can't knowledgeably cast judgement on her character, but when a former client who is infamous for her near-skeletal appearance (Nicole Richie) goes on the record as saying it was Zoe who influenced her dramatic slim-down, and that she's never seen the stylist order anything more than three pieces of asparagus for dinner, that says something. Here's a woman who has the ear of Hollywood, and she's living a life of hurt and being rewarded for it. More than anything I wanted to throw a few granola bars in her cart as I squeezed past her in the aisle. But that wouldn't have done anything. Zoe broke my heart because she's not alone-- there are so many women and men in this industry that are living wounded. I mean, aren't we all? But the self-inflicted nature of some wounds is sometimes overwhelming, and too often in this town, extreme pain and dysfunction is rewarded with influence and monetary gain. I can't help but hope that someday true virtue will be held up as the goal, and uprightness as the standard.

What an industry this is... What a place God has called me to, where the world's living wounded come to play and rule each other in a game of beauty, fame, and power. Hollywood holds the heart of the world, and someday truth will reign.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Going the Distance

I really hate exercising.

There. I said it. I also really like Jif peanut butter (even though I know it's full of trans fats and sugar, and I eat way more of it than is redeemable by the wispy thin guise of virtuosity provided by its merits of protein and good fats) and (extra) bacon on my (double decker) cheeseburger. Ahem. But that's another blog entry.

What I'm saying is, most days I'd rather scrub the toilet, kill the spider myself, eat a giant bowl of sweet potatoes (blechk!), or wear a pair of too-tight underwear all day (well... maybe...) than work out. But this week I have resolved to walk around the neighborhood for an extended period of time every day. And so far it's going well!

Now I understand many of you fitness-ites out there are scoffing at me, sitting cozy in front of your glowing monitors, the hair near the nape of your neck still slightly curled from sweat after your jog this afternoon... "Walking around the neighborhood? *snort* Sounds rough." But may I remind you that yours truly was raised with the notion that Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes was exercise (ah, the glories of homeschool P.E.), and in order to motivate me to do chin-ups in fifth grade for the President's Physical Fitness test (ie: the President's Embarrass the Nerds/ Chubby Kids Test), my dear, sweet mother said, "Just pretend there's a brownie on top of the bar!" I think it's fair to say fitness is not my forte.

Even in the past four years as I've gone through an incredible weight loss journey (I've lost 115 pounds since high school), I think I've maybe worked out a combined 30 days. Total. "But why?" you ask, "Pick something you like! Have fun! Try a sport-- hiking's great!" I honestly don't know why nearly everything within me loathes the idea of strenuous physical activity. Maybe it's the fact that I despite my best intentions, I just have little to no athletic ability (my movements during capoeira class could only be described as "sort of flailing windmill-like").

I mean, exercise seems fun, I see other people do it and enjoy it; I've heard of runner's high (a completely fallacious rumor started by some lonely marathoner, I suspect), even people becoming addicted to exercise! I'm happy for you all. Really I am. And so, despite the fact that my nose starts to run two blocks away from my house, and I sweat more than I'm comfortable with (my threshold is, admittedly, quite low), and, let's be honest, sneakers just don't look good on me, I'm going to be walking every day this week.

Why? Well, it's an experiment. I just want to see what happens to my body and emotions when my mind and spirit are in control. There are so many times in life where we give in to what we want, what we like, and what seems to bring us happiness (peanut butter and cheeseburgers, perhaps?). And sometimes that's okay. But other times something clicks and you realize it's time for an override-- time to show everybody who's boss. This week I'm going to be showing my body who's boss. Because it hurts. And hopefully those slightly soft muscles on my calves are going to listen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Today is my momma's birthday.

Happy birthday, Momma.

Your girl

Monday, August 13, 2007

My Own Private...

In just a few hours I'll be boarding a plane to meet my dad in Boise, Idaho and spend a week with his parents, my beautiful aunt and uncle, and the sassiest little cousins a girl could ask for. I'm so excited to see everybody and get my arms around my people! I've noticed that in recent months I've developed an insatiable appetite for family time (I've developed a habit of crashing other people's family dinners on a repeat and regular basis!), and can't wait to drink my fill of togetherness. With maybe a few quiet afternoons spent on the dock with an old Nancy Drew novel...

I hope you have a great week!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Stories to Tell

I can still feel her smooth skin, stretched taut under the weight of my hand on her arm. How her gleaming eyes lay shuttered, still and closed beneath the fluorescent glare. My beautiful, cuddly, graceful mother had been reduced to something I could hardly bear to look at. But His love beat feverishly in my chest. His love for her through me, His love for me through her. I sat in the darkness surrounding her bed, song pouring forth from my open mouth, lips wet with salty tears.

"All that is within me, Lord, will bless your holy name... I live my life to worship you alone."

I didn't know what to do but that. I didn't know if she could hear me, and there were long stretches of time I didn't know if He could either, but my heart knew its song and my tongue obeyed.

Sometimes I'm scared I don't know when to keep my mouth shut. Not necessarily with regards to other people's business (although I know the spindly vines of gossip wrap themselves around me more often than I'd like to admit), but sometimes I wonder if there aren't more things I should keep to myself. Stories seem to pour out with a regularity and fervor that frequently surprise and exhaust me. Things that I thought, Oh how special... I find consuming my next conversation with a dear friend. Often I look back with a twinge of regret, wondering if I should've kept that dream/ story/ thought to myself. Was it something precious that God had whispered in my ear, entrusted me with, that my loose lips had cheapened with their overzealous flapping?

I think of Joseph and his brothers-- was he wrong to share his grandest, God-given dreams to his nearest and dearest of kin? I can only imagine that had I been in his place my siblings would only have been the first to know, and I would have proceeded to inform the entire household, all my friends, made a t-shirt and written a blog (with pictures!) about my mystic dream! And would that have been wrong? Obviously Joseph faced some pretty ferocious repercussions from his exuberance because of his brothers' shortcomings and jealousies, but does that make him a poor steward of the treasures God filled his heart with? God's purposes worked themselves perfectly through Joseph BECAUSE of who he was. Not in spite of it.

I am a storyteller. As an actor, it is my responsibility to represent the story of a person within a larger story as being told by the author to the audience. As a woman I've often been surprised when, at the end of one of my (many, mile-long) fables, a friend with a listening ear will stand back and say, "You're a really good storyteller!" What?! I just can't stop talking...

(Even now I think, Oh geez, here we go again... Can't you keep anything to yourself? )

And maybe I can't. I don't know. Perhaps this rudder of mine, this small flame (James 3) needs to be reigned in a little more. But all I know is I'm wired this way: I've got stories to tell, songs to sing, words to be woven... They seem too big for my spirit and imagination to hold and come spilling out of me. And until I hear a "That's enough, sweetheart," from the voice that sings these songs over me, my stories will continue, and my tongue will obey. I can't promise this will always be inspirational or logical or spiritual or deep or uplifting, but I give you my word that I will always be honest.

So stay with me... There's more to come.