September 5th, 2002

abstract butterfly

work days

I'm in one of those "arrive at the office at dawn,leave well after dark" modes. Fortunately, I've so far this cycle avoided having to do any midnight dreary times, although I feel as though I might be prone to ponder, weak and weary. Perhaps it's just as well, though. The summer heat I kept waiting for all summer arrived this week. It's been blazing hot during the day. Fortunately, the evenings cool into the 70s.

Yesterday the E! cable network actually showed a documentary on the making of the film "Sixteen Candles". Every picture tells a story, don't it? I have to admit I kind of like those John Hughes teen movies, although "Some Kind of Wonderful", the inverted remake of "Pretty in Pink", is my favorite.

I've been slogging through Alan Cumming's and Jennifer Jason Leigh's "The Anniversary Party" bit by bit. I bought it for very little money at Blockbuster. It's a small film, lots of stars on scale pitching in. Its theme is what the fishbowl of fame does to one. It's curious, though--even though nobody we knew was famous when we lived in LA, the film seems to be about people we knew who were trying to be in "the business", too. I've never met any "movie stars". But I've met lots of people of the "remember the grizzled man in episode 53 of Gunsmoke? That was me!" variety. I've met horror directors of grade ZZZ films, and people who used to be live-ins of famous stars, but now are live-ins of unsuccessful auditions. The great thing about Los Angeles is that so many people move there to remake themselves into different people--people who didn't grow up in the midwest, who weren't teased in high school, who weren't boring suburban kids.

The bad thing about Los Angeles is also that so many people move there to remake themselves. One stereotype that is largely true is that a lot of folks move there with stars in their eyes, thinking it will work their miracle. The problem is that even for those who get a little pixie dust in their lives, nothing really changes. Get a job working on the Disney cartoons? Then instead of thanking the heavens you're no longer teaching community college, complain that you ended up being a background colorist instead of an illustrator. Finally got that job script writing? Great, but it's My Sister Sam for which you're writing. It's good to be ambitious, to want more than you have. But at some point, work has to give you that feeling that "I can do this. This is a way for me to earn an income. This is okay". At some point, one has to be able to define everything in one's life as worth living.

I don't miss the time we spent in the westside of Los Angeles, in the apartment building where everyone was in entertainment but us and the nice accountants across the hall and the doctor downstairs who hated our dog. After the Northridge quake hit, I remember taking my shivering dog out into the hallways (my wife having had the wisdom to be visiting a college friend in Santa Cruz), where all our neighbors were gathered. We all stood and talked like real neighbors, in the dark, listening to the radio tell us how bad an earthquake it had been. For a brief instant, everyone set aside the pretension, the exclusion, and the need to be "hip". We all just chatted like human beings. The time passed--sometimes it takes an earthquake to get people to be pleasant to one another, but getting them to stay that way is more than even a natural disaster can do.

I measure the first moments of true happiness during our time in Los Angeles from the day we moved into the Crescenta Valley, where the only people in "the business" we knew worked as camerapeople, and a sense of neighborhood existed. Life is too short to spend it among people desperate not to be who they really are. I have much to do today, though, and won't worry much about the perfidy of people.
  • Current Music
    "it's a 'appy 'oliday with Mary", from Mary Poppins
red cactus

restless whispers

Today we conquered the world. Well, not actually. We only got something important out the door that I thought I'd be spending the weekend completing. I did good work, but our rapid pace was nearly entirely due to our part-time paralegal. I am not always the world's best "team player" (to phrase it charitably), but the team approach really worked today.

Tonight the local bar association had a fellow from the attorney grievance committee speak to us. The stats on lawyer discipline, as well as the cautionary tales, all served a purpose. I was surprised that far fewer lawyers seem to be disbarred in Texas each year than I thought was the case in California. I had always had the idea the reverse was true. On the drive to the bar association meeting, which is held at a small local country club,
I pondered whether I should submit an important political motion that our dues be used to supplement the dinner each month with a piece of pumpkin pie, but I decided to retain my bipartisan approach to bar association life instead.

One of the fellows at dinner was telling me that he and his wife
have a side business--running an adoption agency. Although I can imagine many stresses in that business, I'd have to think that is worthwhile work. I had a vision, just for an instant, of some Avalon in which I help people who want to have children but cannot.
Then the mists faded, and I was back in Texas again. It's hot as Hell here, so perhaps the Rapture has come, I've been Left Behind, and a lot of fellows who look like Buffy demon rejects are going to make my life Very Interesting Indeed. But I think it's just the weather.

If I were a carpenter, I'd hammer morning, noon, and night, but I am worried that instead of hammering out danger, justice or love between my brother and my sister, I'd work on that dent from my fender bender last week.
  • Current Music
    I need a good book on Ethical Culture, but that's not a song