Tuesday, October 29, 2013

All Dive and No Bar

Today's post will have to be somewhat brief, since my laptop charger has been emitting foreboding crackling sounds and literally began smoking up just a few minutes ago. On the bright side, if my stove burners give out I have found an alternate source of fire.

Allow me to regale the events of last weekend in a segment titled

The Dive Bar Diaries

It all started when my two friends came up to LA Friday night to visit. One goes to school in Whittier, the other used to go to school in Whittier but moved back to Fresno, and was in town for Whittier Homecoming Weekend (to sum that whole event up in ten words or less: friends, beer). We decided to meet up with Macy in Los Feliz to go check out some bars, because that's what you do on Friday nights in LA. We had heard good things about a place called Ye Rustic Inn that was walking distance from Macy's apartment, so the four of us mobbed on over.

The inside was cool looking; a typical dive-bar-with-ambiance that I might describe as what a billiard room would look like if it was below the deck of an old wooden ship. However, the ambiance was virtually the only thing this place had going for itself. We got food which was underwhelming and overpriced, our server (as well as the one who took over after she left) was a negligent, unsmiley little hipster bitch who didn't feel the need to be nice to us at all because we weren't hipster dudes who would be easily distracted by the bit of ass cheek hanging out of her high-waisted shorts. In addition to just sort of being a snobby and inattentive server, she misquoted the prices of our drinks, so by the time we got the bill we were all floored by the amount we had to pay. Oh, and get this. They had a policy that charged an automatic 18% gratuity on all parties of 2 or more.

I know. I KNOW.

Now as a disclaimer, I'm not usually the customer who complains. I don't know how to handle confrontation, so 9 times out of 10 I'll just quietly chew on my burnt hamburger with spit gobs in it and tell myself that the waiter is probably just having a bad day. But these bitches committed too grave an injustice for me to take it sitting down. Which I was at the time. I'll put up with your awful service, but that means by the end of the night you shouldn't be asking for any favors. Hell, these chicks weren't even asking-- they acted like it was the Law of Ye Rustic Inn that all customers had to pay this ridiculous 18% gratuity. So I timidly spoke up and told our server that we were misquoted drink prices, that we weren't happy with the service in general, and that we didn't want to leave a tip we felt they hadn't earned. Instead of feigning concern or at the very least apologizing, Miss Snobby Hipster said she couldn't do anything about it other than talk to the manager. When she came back she said she couldn't change the bill but she could give us complimentary shots.

I've got your goddamn shots right here.
Look, bitch, I don't want your booze. I want my bar experience back. Of course, little did the four of us know that legally they can't actually force us to pay the 18% gratuity, but I guess the waitress was pretty safe in assuming that none of us were lawyers. We very begrudgingly accepted the shots, even more begrudgingly paid, and begrudgingly left, but not before I begrudgingly stole the salt and pepper shaker off the table and stashed them in my purse. It was more a private symbolic act of disdain than anything else, but hey, that's 20 cents that Ye Rustic Inn will have to shell out of their high-waisted shorts pockets.

Thoroughly perturbed by our unsuccessful dive bar endeavor, we decided to console ourselves with food from a bomb little taco stand down the street called Macho's Tacos. We sat out on the patio area and bitterly ate our tacos. We salt-and-peppered the chips with the shakers I had taken, which prompted the owner of Macho's to come over to talk to us and ask where they had come from. He was a very laid back and-- dare I say it-- attractive single dad who sympathized with our shitty evening when we told him. So from there, not only did he give us complimentary chips and guac as well as the names of a couple other good bars in the area, but he said there was a great place called Dresden right around the corner, he had a good friend who worked there, and she could hook us up with drinks. Rather than give us time to mull the matter over, he said he was going to go bring her tacos now and that we could meet him there.


So we hit up Dresden, and he was there, and he got us free dranks, and we hung out, and it was most excellent times. Dresden is a very chic speakeasy sort of themed bar, with a live band plucking out tunes like "Minnie the Moocher" and, praise be to Jesus, super friendly bartenders. It completely 180'd the evening, we found a new favorite spot, and we got our buzz on fo' free. In so many words: Hooray for Dresden! And by extension Macho's Tacos!

My laptop battery is now at 5%, meaning this will be my only anecdote. So long, farewell, until I blog again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Developments and a Fact About Bears

Hey there party people, welcome to the first-ever regularly-scheduled blog post. I guess Tuesday is when we'll be spending our romantic evenings together, which is perfect, because guess who accidentally ate too many Famous Amos cookies today and is lookin' for some good old-fashioned bloated snugglinnnnn'.

Exciting if not slightly terrifying things are happening in the world of Jessica, so get ready for a string of good news. Firstly, in thoroughly un-terrifying news, I recently joined the LA division of Shut Up & Write!, which means every week or so I'll be scooting off to some random location in LA to spend an hour or two shut upping and writing with a group of other writers. As much as I want to give myself pats on the back and high-fives and congratulatory secret handshakes, this doesn't garner any approval or feelings of productivity from me or anyone else unless I go to more than one meeting, and on a semi-regular basis. So don't send me presents just yet. But then hey, if you've accidentally hit the "1-click purchase" button for that fine Parisian cheese on Amazon already, I will accept any and all mail-cheese. (New catchphrase?)

Other news came up today, which was the offer of a job that doesn't involve frosting or hairnets. My internship boss is canning her personal assistant, and as the finest/only candidate within her immediate line of vision, I wound up being approached about stepping in. This is essentially the best-case scenario of an internship, happening a month before the internship is over. It's like being able to ride the ride while you're waiting in line.

I've found Escalator Land!
Would I take the job? Well, I mean, yeah. Will it be easy? Well, I mean, no. My boss is nice but she's also kind of crazy and wants to work with people who can read her mind. I can't read minds, BUT I'm exceedingly good at nodding my head like a slack-necked baby and chanting "Sure thing" with a cordial little inflection on the end. This, my friends, is the key to being a good personal assistant. Especially with this woman. She asks for things in the most unspecific way, which is frustrating when you're trying to do about 24 unspecific things at once. While being her paid personal assistant would up this to about 48 unspecific things, it would also up my salary enough to where I really don't care.

I will miss: having work so conveniently close to home, as well as being surrounded by awesome people in a low-stress environment laden with cakey goodness.

But I certainly won't miss: going home each day with just enough money to buy groceries. And wearing hairnets.

I'd also like my weekends back, thx.

I'd also like having one primary source of income. As of now, I make about half of my income from the bakery, half from tutoring, and half from selling meth to the Czech Republic. It would be nice to have... well, less jobs. That's not to equivocate that with having less work, since I would probably only have more.


This is offset by the other significant perks. For starters, I'd be working in a quasi-writing-related job! Can I get a friendly Samoan chest bump?? See, my boss very much likes my writing, which today is channeled into writing e-mails, but somewhere down the line could mean slipping a script her way and suggesting she film it. And in the meantime, I'd also just be working in entertainment in general, networking, and working on her film productions with significantly less schedule conflicts. My job wouldn't be keeping me from other opportunities because it in-and-of-itself would be an opportunity. So I'll be set. And then I'll just keep at the job until Tina Fey moves to Los Angeles and comes to the gala premiere of one of the plays my boss is putting on and we'll get to talking when we bump into each other at the shrimp cocktail table and we'll become lifelong friends and writing partners. Loren Bouchard will also be there, and he'll hand me a tray of homemade chocolate chip cookies that spell out, "Jessica, you're the most amazing comedy writer the world has ever known and you and Tina Fey should let me join your team of comedy genius." And you know what? They'll be the most delicious chocolate chip cookies known to man. Seriously, Loren Bouchard uses molasses in his recipe.

Now that you've listened to me completely convince myself into taking this job, come hear me obnoxiously gush to myself about all the other wonderful things that are happening for my career. For one thing, a new location has potentially been found for the graduate film I'm PD-ing all over, and I'll hopefully be checking the place out this week. Best part about the location? That bitch is furnished. Since it's not a "movie ranch" but an actual ranch-ranch, the country look is built right in, and I don't have to coordinate three trucks filled with couches and cowhide-upholstered bar stools.

Heffer-tless style.

And finally, the last cool development in Job Land is being approached to make a small promo-slash-commercial type dealio. See, my younger sister informed me today that she was recently hired as a "promo girl" for this dude who sells gun safes. I'll allow you just as long a pause as I took to process that information. Anyway, apparently he told her he's looking for someone to write and create a video promoting his product, so she hooked a sista up and passed my name along. If I do this, this may top the YMCA pool commercial in terms of being the most random film-related shit I've ever done. But again, getting paid to write/direct/film things: boo-too-da-yaw.

People use the internet to exaggerate the good things happening in their lives and draw attention to their successes. I am an insanely guilty party in general, and this particular post is the quintessential example. So I just wanted to toss in the disclaimer that my life seems to be going well but I am still far from livin' la vida perfecta. For one thing, I'm still not doing nearly enough writing (except weekly blog posts, apparently). I have a sort of Catholic guilt when it comes to not-writing, but I imagine it was the same for all those priests, and that didn't stop them from molesting altar boys. Another big thing is that I don't have nearly enough time to see my main squeeze anymore, ever. I haven't seen that dude in like... 3 weeks? A month? Which makes me as sad-ually frustrated. Hoping I get to see him tomorrow, and wishing I could just plug my butt up with leaves and hibernate until the next time we're able to hang out.

...I shit you not, that's what bears do. I saw it on a nature documentary at an impressionable enough age to where I don't think I'll ever forget it. Bet you didn't know this blog would be so educational.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Past: Ahh! (Without Meatballs)


It's official: as per my recently adopted lifestyle, I am creating a routine schedule for Livin' L.A. Vida Local. Unlike my menstrual cycle, blog posts will now occur on a regular basis. You can expect them to happen once a week, like my murdering sprees. I feel this decision will make everyone happier, because now you'll know exactly when to expect a post instead of anxiously pacing back and forth in front of your computer, combating the overpowering compulsion to just keep hitting the 'refresh' button over and over and over again, searching for a Facebook link that never comes. And as for me, I'll commit to keep writing because now I'll know exactly when I'm supposed to drop these little internet-writing nuggets into the universe, and maybe I'll even hold myself to that promise. Just like the promise that I'd never kill again...

So last week was crazy, just like the week before it, and just like the week ahead. Highlights included airbrushing my first Halloween cake (which I totally fucked up), researching "family-friendly cabaret performances in Paris" for my internship, and visiting old friends from high school whom I haven't seen in four years.

That was a trip. Ever since graduation this sort of thing keeps happening, where I serendipitously hear from or bump into people from "the past." Christmas isn't for another two months, so at least I know I'm not trapped in some sort of Ebeneezer Scrooge situation.

I also know because no matter how greedy I try to be, I'm still poor.
In this scenario, I hit up my old best friend from high school (pseudonym "Kristy") because I saw on the ol' FB that she was in LA. Turns out she's been here a few weeks, having just graduated from UC Santa Barbara and moved out to the city to pursue a career in acting. I visited her at the uber-chic downtown restaurant where she just began working, trying to wrap my mind around how someone could arrange their modestly-posh LA set-up so quickly. I mean, it took me like a solid two months of sitting in my underwear while sending out resumes before I got a steady job. So I think she deserves a major "u g0 Giir1" because she seems to be doing something right.

Could it have been the pants?
And then, as randomly as I had reached out to her, a mutual friend (pseudonym "Jade") hit me up right around the same time saying she was in LA as well. This is a little less surprising since she went to UCLA, but still, after four years she got buried amidst my extensive mental catalog of friendships. So in a quite wonderful turn of events she also came to the restaurant, where there were delicious garlic fries, flat breads, gourmet brownies and booze had by all... except for Kristy, because she was our server.

And Kristy told Jade and I that yet ANOTHER friend was in LA, and apparently had been for a number of years... completely unbeknownst to me and probably a fair number of others. So Jade and I popped across the street after dinner to briefly say hi. We caught him at a bad time, because it was a Friday night at a massive and insanely popular LA restaurant whose name I will not disclose. Your hint, however, is: macaroon trees. GO.

So at dinner, Kristy, Jade and I did a lot of catching up, which I'll admit is difficult to adequately do when three girls are trying to abridge four years of significant life events over the course of one meal. The good news is that, hey, we're all local now, so there will be many more opportunities to get nitty-gritty in the future.

And come to think of it, we actually spent the bulk of the evening thinking back on other people we went to school with, giving reports of what we heard or knew about their lives. Oddly enough, a vague, churning gut-feeling of alienation and "wow holy shit what is going on right now" arose not from seeing these two girls' faces for the first time in four years, but of hearing about the lives of the people who weren't there. There were so many people whose existences I had utterly forgotten... random trivia about high school social drama that returned to me in waves... it was like traveling to a strange new plane of existence cohabited by the past and the present. It was... so strange. On the whole the evening was pleasant and enjoyable; it was very cool to see how things seemed "business as usual" for Jade and Kristy. I guess I was anticipating they might have drastically changed and I wouldn't know how to deal, but we fell back into the groove pretty seamlessly.

However, there were parts of the evening that might have gotten too real for me. The parts where I began hearing some of the not-so-pleasant-and-enjoyable things that have happened to other peers since 2009. Not everyone went through the cookie-cutter machine in my mind that turned everybody into an upstanding college graduate with a business degree. It was surreal to find out that people-- people I knew-- people I know-- flunked out of college, or never went to college, or got married and settled down, or went to jail, or were homeless, or went missing altogether. In many cases, I found out that people failed.

And that really, really freaked me out.

Because I feel like I haven't been alive long enough to fail. And of course, the same is true for these other people who I'm inconsiderately belittling by making an example of-- but Jesus Christ, it just felt like we were all on the same trajectory when we were going to the same school. The years following high school graduation really drew out the discrepancies between each of us. She's having a baby, he's getting his PhD, they're still together after 7 years, and I'm decorating cakes. What is going on?!?

I guess the reunion triggered a miniature episode of mortal awareness. The passage of time had never seemed so... concrete. Real. I mean, in the scope of existence, four years isn't a lot of time. But a lot actually happens in that chunk of temporal space; enough to where we start using language like, "so-and-so 'wound up'..." Wound up?? Who's winding up anywhere?! If people my age have "wound up" doing things and being things, then that means I have, too! It means that somewhere, in some other restaurant, some little group of former high school peers are asking, "Do you guys know what ever happened to J-Mil?" And I'd be very interested to hear the answer. It would be the past four years of my life appraised in a single sentence. The logline of my progress as a human being.

This existential spiral haunted me for all of about 24 hours before I got swept back up into the whole routine of day to day life and went on my merry way, which, frankly, I gotta say I prefer. It's sort of a shitty feeling to be that aware. Taking things a day or a week at a time seems like a better way to live, as long as some end goal is glittering in the distance. The simpletons who clog Facebook with inspirational photos of skinny white chicks dancing on the beach at sunset beneath the quote "Live in the moment <3" might actually possess some merit within their gaseous clout of pseudo-profundities.

Oh man, I totally will now that I've seen this.
That is such a valuable insight.
Nothing more profound has ever been said by anyone ever.
I will remember that for the next time I take balloons to the beach.
Maybe... maybe.
This quote changed my life, so it's fitting that it was paired with the greatest photo ever taken.
Well, I don't know about you guys, but all these pictures of the beach at sunset have made me want to go out and live life to the fullest. So I'm going to go make a bowl of cereal using peanut butter instead of milk and watch maybe 3/4ths of one of the movies in my Netflix queue.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Intern of Oz

Monday was a fun little adventure in brushes with the corporate upper class. And by fun little adventure I mean miserable fucking nightmare. As I recall, it all began when I started my internship about a month and some-odd days ago... errands are, inevitably, part of the job (at 50 cents a mile for reimbursement, then hell, send me to Nevada to pick up your dry cleaning, I could use the extra 10 bucks). I had to drop off some something or other at a film distribution office in Century City.

To give you a rough idea of what Century City looks like:

Bankers and film execs and zillionaires, oh my!
Or at least, the part where I was. Maybe the majority of Century City is actually an incredibly violent, gang-ridden city, likely because all their money goes towards maintaining the very nice downtown area I found myself in. I had to go to the 14th floor of some 40-story skyscraper nestled cozily beside like twenty other gargantuan skyscrapers. I rolled up to the parking garage in my humble, dirt-crusted Hyundai that yes, thank you for asking, I have not washed since my cross-country roadtrip two and a half months ago. It was like requesting entrance into a dystopian citadel. I had to pop my trunk to be searched (which was not nearly as erotic as it sounds), but they weren't too worried about me, 'cause I'm just a white chick. So I parked in the vast and endless underground garage that brought to mind a mole-people civilization, and made my way up into the inner walls of Century Plaza.

You know that scene in Big Fish where the dude emerges from the spider-infested woods and suddenly finds himself in the town of Spectre?

It was like that, except the buildings were all made of glass and at least fifty times taller. They surrounded this beautiful grassy area filled with pricy little restaurants, tables, and herds of corporate folks strutting about in their most professional three-inch heels. They ate expensive salads, chatted busily over laptops and touched very important buttons on their iPhones. By fate or by chance, I had stumbled upon a haven for successful white people.

And a high number of insanely attractive Asians.
With my canvas purse, flowy-hippie-pants and flip-flops, I felt just a tad out of place. I guess Casual Monday hasn't reached the Corporation of Eden. After walking around and gawking at everything like a dazed poor person, I checked in with security at one of the buildings, received a "guest pass" that was used to electronically operate the elevator, dropped off the drive, and considered the job taken care of. During this whole part I felt a little like James Bond, with the one major discrepancy being I was the least well-dressed of anyone in the building.

Things were pretty hunky-dory until I had to leave. To make a long, boring story a short, boring story, I was sent around to every end of that strange, shiny place like a god damn pinball to get my parking validated. Even after I did get it validated the first time, it only covered half of my luxurious $16 parking spot and I had to leave my car with the emergency lights on in an unyielding one-way parking garage exit and... it was just, overwhelming. I was like a flustered hobo on the move, huffing around from floor to floor begging people with golden tie clips to help me escape. I finally got out by flip-flopping on down to the deliveries parking garage, located a few miles north of the Center Of The Earth. The deliveries man (who was literally just a dude sitting at a desk plopped against the wall of a vacuous concrete loading dock) obliged me with validation, but in the most unobliging manner possible.

I escaped.


Believe it or not, this entire ordeal took roughly 2 and a half hours from start to finish. Okay, I admit that possibly 15 of those minutes was spent on getting a frappe, but how often do you get to say you went to "the Fancy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf"?

Summary: the update on parking in Los Angeles is that it still sucks. You need to be rich enough to own a "pass," disabled enough to own a placard, or ghetto enough to take advantage of the ample curb space in Crenshaw. The rest of us here in middle-to-lower-middle land will just let the daily stress of parking take its toll on us until over time we develop acute muscular dystrophy or some severe psycho-physical disability. I read all about it in my "Stress and Disease in the 21st Century" course.

Because "Drugs and Modern Society" posed a scheduling conflict.

Summary: Traffic and parking is what's killing you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

[Title Written by a Tired to the Point of Being Creatively Bankrupt Individual]

Are you guys seeing this? The insides of my eyelids look EXACTLY like frosting cones, computer screens, and I think they keep flashing images of the Breaking Bad season finale as well. Oh God... when I open my eyes it's the same thing. Make it stop!

No. Don't make it stop. The doing of these things, I mean. It would just be nice if I could air my head out a little bit... a lot of things are happening at once, and I haven't fully adjusted mentally or physically. In the evenings my brain is beginning to feel simultaneously empty and overactive. Just thinking about things to do, so many logistics... it's like eating Cheez-Its. That analogy made sense in my mind for one fleeting moment, but I lost it and now I don't remember where I was going with it. Like I said, mental adjustments.

There are just so many things that are small in and of themselves, but accumulate to an overwhelming amount. Sure, I can print a file. Sure, I can send an e-mail. Sure, I can do my laundry. Sure, I can feed my betta fish. But the fact that I can't do all of these things at once is becoming a major inconvenience. I wish I had some sort of octopus-like brain that could... no, wait, I've lost it again. But at least you can kind of see where I was going with that.

But can you SEA where I was going? Nyak nyak nyak
I am... exhausted. Partially from work, mostly from being an idiot and thinking my whole "stay up 'til 2am watching television shows" way of life is still a possibility. Yes, folks, we are reaching the end of week one in the J-Mil With A Job chronicles, and I'm trying to pretend that I'm completely unphased. But, yes, now that you mention it, I am kinda tired. Hey is that a pillow?

Do not confuse any of this tired-person rambling with complaining. I am seriously digging the cake decorating. I am digging that I get out around 3 and still have daytime left to do things that I either need to do or want to do. I am digging the overwhelming flux of paychecks that arrived in the mail last week. I am also digging not feeling bad about using funds from said paychecks to buy Halloween decorations to string about my apartment. The unit neighbors like the cobwebs I stretched all over our front patio, which is good because I didn't ask for their opinions until after I put them up. I love decorating for the season, especially when it's Halloween. Halloween is probably the best holiday ever invented. Ever.

No. Wait.

It's definitely the best holiday ever invented.

Anyway, I am really excited/apprehensive to be working at a bakery during this time of the year when most major holidays are no more than a month apart. Because holidays are the few-and-far-between occasions where fatties can crawl out from under the (very wide) floorboards of society and say, "You know what this calls for? Cake," and everyone just agrees. It really is a beautiful thing.

On the one hand, it's going to be a lot more work and a lot more rush. But on the other hand, I'ma be making cakes with pumpkins and turkeys and reindeer and shit on them (for the festive All Shit's Day we look forward to each year), which will allow me to flex my creative muscles in a new way. So far the cakes I've worked on only have borders and flowers, or "edible images" in the center. Nothing too draw-y. I wanna draw things! And then have people eat them! I tried doing the same with my sketches but people don't seem to be as into them... apparently charcoal stains your gums. But also the chemical treatment in sketch paper causes birth defects.

Aside from This Bakery Update, I had my first meeting today with the director of the film I'm going to PD for. I'm looking forward to the project since it sounds like the aesthetic will be more than some basic, contemporary setting. It won't be stylized per se, but it's going to definitely have a "look" to it, and I get to spearhead that operation. Whoo! The hardest part is going to be filling the space, since it looks like our shooting location might be a large, empty house on a movie ranch. Yes, that's a real thing. It's an entire ranch made for shooting movies at. The house in question is huge and completely unfurnished, so I'll have to figure out how to move a whole magikarp-ton of furniture and set dressings to and from the location.

Hey magikarp, can you help me move this couch? Oh wait, you can't, because you're completely useless.
Speaking of entertaining things about the entertainment industry, recent internship duties have included researching trained animals to cast in an upcoming movie. Okay, not only is there such thing as "Hollywood animal rentals," but this in itself is an extensive industry within the film and entertainment biz. That part isn't too surprising in retrospect-- gotta have dem animals-- but what I found bizarre and fascinating was the niches within this industry. You've got folks who have small farms of trained animals like cats, dogs, horses, sheep, etc. But then you've got a company that has been "proudly providing Hollywood with movie lions for over 40 years," or a safari-themed animal rental service, or some weirdo with a circus of professionally-trained insects. How does one train a stick bug? Do literal flea circuses actually exist? These are the questions that will haunt me until the day I die.

Non-sequitur: as per Dog-4-Dinner arrangements, I tried a swankz little Thai restaurant in DTLA last night called Soi. 7. I ordered-- get ready for this-- the vegan pumpkin cashew curry. "Yes," I told the waiter, "I'd like the most unauthentic, pretentious, yuppie-pandering dish you have here." And you know what? It was probably in the top 5 of best curries I've ever had. So good. Oh my god. I'm still thinking about it. And when I go to bed tonight (in 45 seconds), the insides of my eyelids will probably resemble two bowls of that delicious, delicious curry.