This Thursday I celebrate 10 years since the afternoon my ex and I parked the touring van outside a roach motel on Miracle Mile, unloaded our instruments, and said "Let's give it a go in the City of Angels."
A week later we plunked the rest of our cash down on an apartment across the street from some chickens on the north side of North Hollywood. (We didn't notice them till the morning after we moved in, when the rooster crowed.) I spent the holiday season on my laptop at the public library looking for work, and landed a NYE gig on the Paramount backlot with a caterer for The Killers, and another lighting cigarettes for Leonardo DiCaprio at the People's Choice Awards.
A week after that, during a temp job as receptionist for the Cartoon Network, I discovered the Hollywood Reporter and Variety, and spent a sunny week in January studying "the big five" and sending my resume cold to HR at WME, CAA, UTA, and ICM. I bought a suit and because the HR head liked that I went to Brandeis, I started at ICM the next week, working in celebrity endorsements and branded entertainment and trying not to drool on Kate Walsh, Neve Campbell, and Smokey Robinson when they came in for meetings. Though my desk was right outside her door, the agent I worked for enjoyed screaming my name as if everything was going to bloody hell, which may have been the case in Sharon Stone's world, though you wouldn't know it from the gorgeous candid photo of her that went up later that year for her Dior watch endorsement. Whenever the agent yelled for me, another assistant on the other side of the building IMed me, "Are you okay?" We were working on Ellen's Covergirl endorsement then, and my mantra was "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming." (You have seen Devil Wears Prada, right? That.) Possibly because she felt sorry for me, or possibly because after the agents went home I organized the files and made one sheets for our clients, about 5 months in the dept head promoted me out of the firing zone. By then the writers were on strike and ICM was cutting hours, but I was thankfully safe to make overtime until I found a job for more money and fewer hours in an office with a door in the music industry on the other side of town.
Sometime later, I got a new car, the ex moved out then moved back east, and I became so many things I'd never considered: a yoga teacher, a writer, an editor, a grad student, a wife (again), a stepmother. It's weird to use labels to sum up. I could just say that I've become who I am now, with a life very close to the one I dreamed about having when I was a kid.
If the act of transformation is miraculous, these 10 years have been filled with miracles. I don't know if I yet call it home, but I've lived in Los Angeles for more consecutive years than anywhere else - longer than my native state of FL, longer than my childhood years in NJ, longer than my 7 then 5 years in MA, longer than the stints in PA, NY, NC, TN, and MD combined.
I still feel like I barely know the city, but I have some spots I love, and many people who I could not imagine living without. It is a city of angels and I arrived just in time to meet the love of my life. On Thursday night we're going to celebrate, just a tiny celebration with a drink or two, to mark my 10 year LAnniversary. If you're in the hood, we're going to a quintessential LA spot for a drink and a song with Marty and Elayne. (You have seen Swingers, right?) I mean, come on. Los Angeles. <3
Six nights since the election. Is anyone actually sleeping through the night?
I'm awake again, this time from a dream of standing at a border of some sorts with Madeleine Albright. We're waiting to be let in so we can return to our homes, but when I finally get to mine, a humble room in a ghetto just beyond the flag-waving supporters of the new administration, it's infested with millions of bugs and spiders of all kinds.
Do those who voted for him understand yet that the protests are not because we lost a democratic election, but because in this election we may have lost democracy itself? I keep wondering , those for voted for him, in what grade did you study Europe's fall to WWII? Did you learn about it at all?
People, support your news sources. Donate to your local NPR. Pay for an online subscription to the reputable newspaper of your choice. We must ensure freedom of the press, especially in light of the Steve Bannon selection as Chief Strategist.
Six months ago when Darby and I planned to run off to a yoga retreat the second weekend of November, we had no idea how much we'd need the reprieve from the city on this particular weekend. All the emotions from last week's election - the despair, the rage - are still with me. Now, though, they've softened from a weekend of breaking bread with a group of compassionate, creative people, sleeping in a tiny cabin in the woods, and unplugging from media storms and news updates.
Something shattered last week. For weeks, for months, we thought it would be a glass ceiling. It turns out it was something else entirely, and things feel very fractured, very much in pieces. Many of us are not only grieving the loss of what we almost had -- and that loss is great -- but now we are also gaping wide-mouthed at the mammoth clean-up job we hadn't seen coming. Many of the values so many of us hold dear have slipped, and how far we can't yet say.
But at the yoga retreat I remembered a story from years ago, and that reminded me of a simple lesson that my kidlets learned back in their horse riding lessons: Where you look is where you'll go.
I have no delusions about our new president-elect. He spent the past year telling us who he is and what he stands for, and it is the exact antithesis of everything I would want in a president. But I don't want to assume that half the nation voted for him out of malice. I don't want to focus on the hate and fear. If I rubberneck those values, I'll either crash into the folks who are on the road with me or end up U-turning and joining the other pack. When I look around at my fellow travelers, the ones committed to the direction of social progress and positive change, I see fierce intelligence, compassionate justice-fighters, inspiring artists. They are kind people, people who believe that lifting others up will help us all rise.
This weekend helped me remember to keep looking forward. Oh yes, I'll keep a scrutinous eye on the new administration. But I'm not going to rubberneck the election or speculate on whether what I hate in the president-elect is what those who voted for him love. Where you look is where you'll go. I want to go to a place where diversity is celebrated, there is equity and equality for all, we care and try to keep safe the most vulnerable among us, and we protect our natural resources. From now on, that's where I'm putting my attention.
My Tuesday excitement turned to sadness on Wednesday, which turned to anger on Thursday. The initial sadness was debilitating so when the anger came, I welcomed the charge: Energy drives action, and action brings progress and change.
Now it's Friday, and I'm continuing to observe my thoughts and emotions as they morph. Perhaps it was Darby's uncontrolled laughter last night as, while reading the latest Bill Bryson book, he tried to share a humorous passage but was laughing too hard to get out the words. Laughter-tears fell from the corners of his eyes, and I laid my head on his belly and let the convulsions break up my tension. Then I put on a Leonard Cohen playlist, and this morning I found myself singing.
Or maybe it's because while Darby was reading the Bryson, I was editing this week's Lunch Ticket blog. It's a collection of brief post-election feelings from many on the LT team. We on LT have exchanged dozens of emails this week, both before and after the election, and already, like me, emotions are shifting. This collection serves as a snapshot in time. As I read their words last night, I found my nerves calming. I hope you find the same solace.
Wednesday's children were full of woe,
and Thursday's children were livid,
but Friday's children will rock the vote
for the world we want to live in.
Read it here: http://lunchticket.org/wednesdays-children/
Three days ago I woke thinking, "Today is the day we elect our first woman president." Yesterday I woke thinking, "I do not want to live in this world." Today I woke thinking, "It's time for me to get to work."
While driving the little one to school this morning, we made a list of things we are grateful for. Tears For Fears came on the radio -- [the radio station that we've noted (like so many others) plays 10 male-fronted bands for every 1 female-fronted band] -- and she wrote it down, because it made us happy. "So glad we've almost made it / So sad they had to fade it / Everybody wants to rule the world."
I am so glad we almost made it. And I am so, so sad that we didn't. But everybody wants to rule the world, and we need to take better care with our democratic process and our participation in bringing about the change we wish to see in the world so that any schmuck with an ivory tower and a mysterious tax evasion record who, for sport, incites violence and gives the middle finger to all the values we hold dear is not elected the president of the most powerful nation in the world. We need to take better care of the things and concepts we value and the people and places that are most vulnerable to short-sighted, power-hungry demagogues.
I'm not done crying, but I've found my fire. If the good that comes out of this is that we all get off our asses and more actively engage in righting the wrongs of our culture, of living in our values, of leading with our hearts AND our minds, then it still sucks that it took this American tragedy to kick us into gear.
But obviously we needed it.
On a day when I can barely construct a sentence much less think about writing a whole book, my mentor calls me and reminds me that I have already written a book, that I need to get it published, and that I need to get started on the second one because I am a good writer and a good teacher and I need a book on my CV for when I'm ready to start my university faculty job search.
It took me a moment to understand what he was saying. Then I remembered -- I am writer, and I have already started on the second book, and if my anger over this election (that is triggering a lifetime of angers about cultural injustices) stops me from doing this work and achieving my dreams, I am playing right into the hands that hold the glass ceiling over us, the hands of the ones who whistle when we walk by, say we're too emotional to get anything done, say we have nothing worthwhile to say anyway. The ones who cheer us on when we're "attractive" and talk over us when we're "confrontational," "shrill," or "nagging." The ones who say "women's lit" is different from "literature," "women issue memoirs" don't sell, who publish bylines by men far outside the gender ratio. The ones who tell us we can't be astronauts or president or musicians. The ones who burn us at the stake or drown us or just suffocate us with a patriarchal pack of lies that, at this point, is about as thinly veiled as the emperor's clothes.
I won't get any writing done today. I'm far too agitated. But tomorrow or Friday or next week or in December, I am going to strap on my jet pack and use this fire to blast me through that oppressive roof to that star I keep wishing on.