Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Break Out Your Broke

Things are getting about as nuts as they come in "the production office," which at any given time of the day is also the regular office, the screening room, the dog training facility, and the place where we try to eat lunch. Believe me when I say work has been


A neck-less picnic.
At one point there were 10 people in our one room that usually has a maximum of 4, all making phone calls or conversing with each other. Imagine a hen house where the hens have thumbs and know how to print things. It was pure, administrative anarchy. There was just a ceaseless tornado of sounds and voices chaotically backdropping the million and one requests flying at me like bricks simultaneously. When would it end?! Just make it stop!

Eventually a few people cleared out and we were back down to 5. There was a beat of silence. After a moment I said, "...That got pretty cray for a minute there, didn't it?"

Yes, it did. It was 50 shades of cray.

And 64 shades of Crayola.
 But, you know, in the end it was worth it, because I worked a full hour of overtime. Not that I will be paid overtime, but I will be paid for the time that went over. 


Well, on to other matters. I had a pretty baller weekend celebrating Coachella the best way possible, by not going to it. Instead, Casey and I hit up Brokechella!

No, not Brokebackchella...
No, not Breakingchella...
No, not Brickchella...
No, not a broken cello...
Brokechella is a wonderful low-pretense-hipster LA alternative to Coachella. For those who are stingy enough not to sell their house for Coachella tickets, there is Brokechella, which is a 1-day event fueled by local bands/comedians/eats/boutiques with one grand overarching theme: broke.

You still have to be slightly above the poverty line to enjoy Brokechella, with $10 pre-sale tickets and $20 at the door, but it's more than worth it. What would otherwise be a sketchy abandoned warehouse in the boonies of the arts district (redundant as the arts district IS nothing but boonies of abandoned warehouses) is converted, on this blessed day, into a free-for-all arts and music scene. Graffiti art covers the walls, junky couches make up the lounge area, and everything is SUPER cheap. Drink-worthy (Lagunitaaaaaaa) beer was four bucks and mixed drinks were five, which is unheard of 'round these parts. Sponsors were giving away all sorts of free goodies: long stem flowers, energy bars, candy, photo ops... I somehow wound up with a cut-out of Ron Burgundy's head and a stress ball from Spearmint Rhino (yay and yikes, respectively). The food trucks were expensive and overpriced, but what else is new. I still ended up gorging myself on bomb diggity Argentinian food truck food. Chimichurri-yaw-chimi-yaw-chimi-churr!

Biggie is not amused by my traditional Argentinian food puns.
There were four stages set up around both inside and outside the warehouses, each catering toward a slightly different audience. I seriously got my dance on by the "Shifty Rhythms" stage where a DJ was blasting crazy club-hop dance music. In the next rooms were hip-hop, acoustic rock, and even stand-up. My talented friend Erik Escobar was one such comic.

But wait, there's more! There were a million and one things at once. Artists set up booths and asked passersby to participate. Several boutiques on wheels sold clothing that was Silverlake chic and Fashion District priced... I even nabbed me a boss pair of of new sunglasses for cheap:

And a fantastic new teal bronzer!
Uhhhhh other cool things: BMX biking arena, multiple free photo booths, video game room, art on all the walls (and in some areas, the floor), a plot of grass designated for the dogs registered for Puppychella whichisarealthing, a small fort with headphones used for conducting some bizarre music experiment, and FREE credit cards on the ground! 

Know what, I'm just gonna post some pictures here. If you like 'em, you can keep 'em, if you don't, you can send 'em right back.

But seriously, don't "keep" them anywhere. Just keep navigating through the internet like a normal person. We don't have to make this weird.

Truly the most brilliant theme for a low-budget affair.

In front of the music experiment tent. I'm actually not wearing pants.

Art you can walk on and pick up and pretend to be Super Mario with.
Image reproduced without Casey or Ron Burgundy's permission.
We spent virtually the whole day there, drinking, dancing, exploring, et cetera. The turn out was large but not stuffy and crowded, so it was perfect. Simply fabulous. I hope I can go again next year. I won't be able to if I'm actually broke, but right now I'm low key broke as-in-severely-underpaid, which is good enough for the time being.





Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Serious Dental Problems

Good thing: My landlady took me on the morning walk/jog of my LIFE yesterday.

Bad thing: And now my legs are sore.

Good thing: But at least I didn't feel as bad stuffing my face at Passover dinner last night.

Bad thing: I stuffed my face at Passover dinner last night.

Good thing: I stuffed my face full of matzoh balls and charoset at Passover dinner last night.

Charoset, I said.
Monday was a great evening filled with ooey-Jewy fun. At least, as fun as family dinners can get-- and in particular ones that involve everyone reading a book before dinner. Fortunately I come from a long line of people who mask their boredom and hunger-impatience with really painful jokes.

Part the Red Sea? More like clear the room.
Since you're probably not Jewish I won't bore you with the details of Passover, but I would like to take this opportunity to announce that I am now allowed to sit at the adults table, where I drink irresponsible amounts of my uncle's vintage wine when he isn't looking. To make an extremely inside Jew-joke: I am The Wicked Child.

Moving on to less Semitic topics, I'd like to give the latest weekend update. On Sunday I attended the LA Times Festival of Books which is held annually on the USC campus.

It offers no surprises. The end.

One cool thing is that the wonderful people from my old work had a booth set up there and I got to swing by to say hello-- I even got a free copy of my former boss's book! At a glance it seems to involve samurais and/or ninjas. I'm sure it's at least partly autobiographical.

So on the hour-long drive home this evening, a song came on that I very fondly associate with this past summer. Thinking about the summer made me think about now, and thinking about now made  me freak out a little bit since I just realized it's been nearly 11 months since I graduated college. Please excuse me while I wander into one of my mini existential  ponderings and reflect on the fact that I've been an adult for almost a year. Specifically, this kind of adult:

But with more teeth, hair, and baby fat.
We associate certain feelings and dispositions with certain periods of our life, and hearing this one song made me feel like May-August 2013. In trying to pin down exactly what that feeling was, it was like consensual free-falling. I felt so lost and detached from the heaviness of being one-who-makes-a-living, and it felt truly stupendous. I had finally slayed senior year, and although I knew something even more challenging and horrific was coming up in the future, I had so little grasp of what that might be that I just couldn't bring myself to fret over it. Or, I did every now and then, but usually only when I spoke to relatives on the phone or paid more than $7 for a meal. Generally speaking, I was blissful. Incredibly blissful. I didn't know you could experience that kind of peace and happiness beyond the age of eight (1999 was a great year to be me).

So where are we now?

Not San Diego.
This will be difficult to explain, and even more difficult to explain when we reach the official "Where The Ever-Living Fuck Was Jessica One Year Ago?" post (coming soon to a free blog hosting site near YOU!). But if I could be brief (too late), I've reached a sort of stability for the time being. One thing I'll say for stability is that it's pretty damn boring. Not to suggest I feel like I'm in a rut-- far from it. But the little Change-and-Wonderment sprites haven't been sprinkling their little glitter buckets over things as often. Work, for instance, has long since been a new and interesting thing. It went from being exciting (I'm working in the industry! I'm paying for designer coffee! I've developed a phone voice!), to excruciating (I'm doing everything wrong! I'm tired! I have money but no time to buy groceries!), to somewhere in between (I'm working in the industry!). Right now it sort of feels like I've been going to the dentist everyday for the past four months. It still hurts when they poke my gums with those little metal hooks but at this point I'm used to it, and I've developed a legitimate taste for fluoride tooth cleaner. You know the kind.

What I'm more or less trying to say with my very innocuous metaphor is that whole notion of "settling" into a way of life has, unsurprisingly, settled upon me unconsciously. I sense a definite routine, and yet I still feel like I'm stumbling from one day to the next. It's not good or bad, though I do a pretty great job of wording it in the most negative way possible. I just wonder at what age you stop feeling like a life-n00b.

Anyway, I think to wrap things up, routine is a never-ending dentist appointment, or something like that.

Take it away, Steve!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wheely Fun Weekend

I'm putting it on the record that I initially began this blog with, "Wazzap party people!" stared at it for a few moments, and then erased it. My punishment is public cyber-self-shaming, but the reward for not actually posting is a slightly more interesting opener.

Speaking of slightly more interesting, it was very much a "Look At Me I Live In LA" weekend for me and I know you're just dying to read about it.

Statement meant to be read ominously in the month of October.
I embarked on the bi-annual bi-cycling event CicLAvia, where the City of Los Angeles shuts down a few major streets to cars and grants sole access to bicyclists, walkers, and any aberrations of the two. It's a county-wide marathon that lasts for one day, because if it went on any longer car commuters would probably go insane and drive into the ocean. On most days, I would be one of these drivers (also, the babysitter said that's how you become a mermaid). However, with my new Channubicycle, I was able to fully embrace the event and bike down Wilshire like it was nobody's business. It felt like this:

"You biked a marathon?" You may be thinking. "Either you're lying or I have to reassess how attractive I remember you being."

Well, don't look me up on OKCupid just yet-- I only look for dates on Craigslist. Besides, I'm far from what you'd call "a biker," as in one who rides bikes for the enjoyment of physical activity. I only ride my bike short distances, and if it's not to get to the grocery store faster then it's only because I enjoy the idea of enjoying physical activity. Trust me, I tried track, gymnastics, surfing, swimming, and for one very depressing JV tryout, tennis. Did not work. I would be very happy for me if I had a single strand of DNA encoded for athletics, but it would seem I'm doomed to be a lethargic artist. That's okay, at least I'm really good at organizing things in my pantry.

The point being, Ciclavia was a fluke in all-that-is-Jessica... and as it turns out, a pretty fun one! I biked 7-something miles each way down Wilshire with Casey and my roommate, who is the embodiment of "a biker." If they ever pass legislature making it legal to marry bicycles, my roommate will be first in line at the courthouse.

Yes, that was just another way of saying, "If you love your bike so much why don't you marry it?"

Along with Casey, roomie, and myself were hundreds if not thousands of other Angelenos peddling 
and promenading from 1 Wilshire to Miracle Mile and back. Behold:

Are you beholding?
My roommate is actually in this picture; if you spot him you get a taffy.

As it turns out, the actual act of biking down the middle of one of the busiest main streets in Los Angeles was half the fun. All along the way people were playing music, hosting special events in their restaurants, setting up food and drink carts along the sidelines, and even conducting Chocopie eating contests, which we witnessed in Koreatown. Also, we got these sick fannypacks:

Coincidentally, "sick fannypack" is also the name I give when ordering at Starbucks.
The route was far from rigorous, mostly flat with a few minor inclines and declines and exlines and outlines. It was, however, about 3 hours of biking. Of course, I'm not factoring in the point at which the three of us stopped at a cafe and had lunch before getting back on our bikes to finish the loop. Yup, I'm a pretty hardcore marathoner.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

So a Group of Writers Walk Into a Bar...

Hello there. You may notice that my voice sounds a little scratchy tonight. And no, it's not from smoking imported cigars with refined mustachioed gentlemen. I'll smoke those bitches under the table without blinking an eye.*

*Has never smoked a single cigar or cigarette.

No, my throat is actually sore because I swallowed a miniature pine cone on a dare.

[[dramatic pause]]

You think I'm joking?

[[another dramatic pause]]

Do you?

[[tertiary dramatic pause]]

Yes, I am joking. The real reason is that I inhaled pepper spray.

[[dramatic pause]]

Is she kidding? Is she serious? We don't know!

[[small undramatic pause]]

No, that is the actual answer. On Monday evening I inhaled pepper spray at Sonny McLean's in Santa Monica.

The events of the evening unfolded as such:

[[[[commence blogging]]]]

My Monday evening began in typical fashion, with me clinging to my final breaths of life as I emerged from the catacombs of an 8.75-hour workday with no lunch period or breaks. I arrived at Bagel Nosh promptly at 6:59pm for my weekly Writer's Blok meetup, where $5 buys you two hours of focused writing, the company of friendly fellow-writers, quietly looped Pinback albums, book giveaways, all the coffee you want, and nearly all the wine you want but it always runs out before the third glass. And, if you're me, you get the added bonus of being tragically cornered each week by a dude you initially thought might be a good networking opportunity but it turns out he's just a complete weirdo.

(Remember, folks: if anyone has more than two points to make about your astrological sign, get out of that conversation fast.)

An important Brule to remember.
This was a particularly significant Writer's Blok because it was our last meeting before taking a three week break for... for reasons, of some kind. It was a good last-until-three-weeks-from-now meeting. I got to read my stuff out loud, AND wonderful people brought baked goods from home... they didn't even have meth in them! I'll admit I was disappointed, but they were still delicious.

After the meeting ended, some of us headed nine blocks up to grab drinks at Sonny's, a wonderful Irish pub that restored my faith in white people. That is, until a couple hours in when our buzzed, geeky, and endearingly awkward conversations were all halted by a major scuffle happening at the front of the bar. I turned and saw a pair of muscular arms wrestle what looked like a welder in a blonde wig.

At first it was hard to see what was going on because everything was happening so quickly... but then it was because my eyes were tearing up. "Avoid that side of the bar!" someone shouted. And I heard murmurs of "pepper spray" ping-pong around the bar. I distinctly remember laughing about pepper spray to someone in the group and then suddenly choking to the point where I abandoned my beer and stood outside until I could stop coughing.

I have no way of knowing the full story, but the version I heard was that this... formidable... woman was drunk, got overly defensive, and whipped out some good ol' fashioned pepper spray on whoever was telling her to get her shit together. At least, I sincerely hope that's what it was, and not anything that would legitimately warrant pepper spray. That would've made the experience quite the downer. But once the woman was out and the bar owners let some fresh air in, we resumed our drinking and picked up right where we left off on our delightful evening.

I'm proud to say that this was my first time being exposed to pepper spray. It was just like losing my virginity, with less tears and slightly less choking. More importantly, however, it was a great memory for the Writer's Blok. Over the past few months my writing group has been as much about the group as it has about the writing, and for someone plagued by the paranoia that city life is dominated by isolation and hostility, that is a major reassurance to find. We're just a bunch of strangers who united over a common cause. Kind of gives "grammar nazi" a whole new meaning.

One of the things I love most about this group is the emphasis on setting goals. I may not have my group over the next few weeks, but I'll still have my goals. Until we meet again at the 'Nosh, I suppose I'll try to exercise the kind of discipline expected of a writer who doesn't need to be tempted by wine and baked goods. My goal: continue to write for two hours every Monday evening.

...At least until principal photography begins, when I'll fall down the open storm drain of film production. But I will emerge stronger, wiser, and riding a wild sewer gator.