Sunday, May 27, 2012

Still Here

Having started this blog to help me make some sense of the world, I’m at a bit of a loss these days.
Grieving is not a talent I ever mastered, and reaching out to a few family and friends, I’m so grateful for the advice that there is nothing right or wrong in dealing with the loss of my Best Friend Pretty, i.e. the kitty whose face was the last I saw at night and the first thing in the morning for almost two decades.  (Well, that is, before she turned around and stuck her butt in my face lovingly!)

My Mom shared with me that after her Mom passed, it took my mother five years to sort through my Grandma’s personal effects.  (And my Mom is the Queen of throwing things out!)  So I didn’t feel so bad about the fact that after three days, I’ve not yet touched a single thing that belonged to Pretty.
Still, everything in our bat-cave seems to be a reminder…

I’ve not stopped putting the TV remote controls on a table out of habit, as Pretty had a knack for stepping on the buttons and next thing I know, she’s either rebooted TiVo or switched channels to professional basketball playing on the wide screen.  (???)
I haven’t gotten past the need to still put out a placemat on the bed when I prepare food at home (with a few teeth removed three years ago, she got kinda sloppy whenever she ate dinner with me...)

And still her bowl of kibble sits; and still her “comfy cat” litter box remains, as does her elevated end table glass of water, known as her “tippy cup”.  (We live in an earthquake zone.)  But I’ll be darned if she didn’t drink from that glass every single day; and that was the FIRST task every morning, to refill her “tippy cup”! 
And yeah, for the last two days I woke up and wondered stupidly for the first few minutes why the water level didn’t go down…

Like I said, I don’t really know how grief works, but I will try my best to thank you all very soon personally for your kindest words, cards and emails.  I’m just not quite there yet.
But I did get some sleep today, and if I ever doubted anything about Pretty still being with me, she was definitely here!

Not only did she stomp all over my legs, but she even stepped on my ponytail!  And I still get a glimpse her (or at least a shadow out of the corner of my eye) in the hallway!

Perhaps she’s helping me to take my first steps…?
Missing her so…


Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 25, 2012

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I pronounce the passing of my Companion, my Feline Sidekick, my Hero and my Best Friend Pretty…
While I’d rather not go into the details, Pretty and I went to the Vet today where she was diagnosed with multiple health problems.


“Whaaat?”  I asked to the empty spot next to me where Pretty used to sit and poke me in the face with her paw.
“I know you’re grieving, but could you not be so morbid?” the Essence of Pretty urged me.  “This is MY eulogy that you’re writing, and frankly, so far, it’s a real downer!” she huffed. 

“Um… Sorry…  I just really miss you already…!!!”  I sobbed.
“Yeah, yeah, I know, but still, is this the kind of drivel you want people to know about me?  I mean, how about the time you sat through that “Sex and the City” movie on TV and bawled like an infant?  Wasn’t I there for you?”

“You were!  You were!” I cried, remembering having to wipe stupid girly tears off of Pretty’s coat.
“And my sense of humor!  You have to memorialize that!” she added, as I recalled every moment of play time with a new toy or baffling ball of string.  “Seriously, was I anything but delightful when you opened Christmas presents and I played with all the ribbons?”

“You were!  You were!” I repeated, grabbing another tissue.  “But what was with the green yarn?” I wondered out of the blue.
“You wouldn’t understand – let that one go” she nodded.

“Oh, and that bendy thing with the feather on the end!” we shouted together happily, which Pretty had so magnificently shredded despite not even having front claws!
“Can I write about your love of plastic bags?” I asked quietly, not sure if I was pushing a boundary…

“What the heck.  I loved ‘em!  The smell, the texture, the crinkliness, and wearing them like a tutu since you always cut the ends open!  Best napping ever!” she smiled.
“You got it” I typed, finalizing my beloved Best Friend’s eulogy.  “Anything else I could add for you?”  I pondered, sobbing uncontrollably.

“Just unconditional Love.”

(Her old favorite napping position at our home!)

We were together in the end as she lay down to sleep at the Vet.

I was truly blessed to share her life for the last sixteen and a half years.

I am missing her every single second, but I’m kind of sure she’s still by my side in her own way...

Written with Love,

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Hampered Hiatus Hypothesis

Aaaah… VACATION!  The three loveliest syllables!  A chance to rest, to relax, to regroup!  A wondrous time when the soul is allowed the silence and solitude to not stress about work, contemplate work or even have to think ANYTHING about work!  Oh, the bacchanalian debauchery of declaring Happy Hour at one’s own whimsy!  Oh, the splendor of just vegging out in front of the television for hour after hour after hour!  Oh, the unbridled JOY of sleeping in late!!! 
And… then there’s MY vacation.


It started with a ring.
It was a gentle ring.

It was a humble ring, alerting me to the fact that Unavailable was calling my cell phone.
Now I must admit that while my soul was REALLY looking forward to the aforementioned debauchery/vegging/joy etc.; such is not always in the cards when you work free-lance in Tinsel Town.  And despite my personal need to take some time off, I couldn’t deny a potential job offer should the Universe present an opportunity.


“Hi, hello, is anyone there?  This isn’t a FAX machine” I expressed calmly and coolly to any person who might be attempting to send organ donor information to a hospital tending to a dying patient.  “Please check your area code!” I added, hoping that someone might receive their heart transplant on time.
I’d saved a life!  And all at 5:13am!  On my vacation!


“Hi!” I replied fervently.  “This REALLY is NOT a FAX machine, so PLEASE check the number you’re dialing!” I explained emphatically, praying that someone’s life wasn’t hanging in the balance because the Village Idiot in the office couldn’t figure out that their “FAX recipient” was a private cell phone number.

“Are you effing kidding me???” I answered three minutes later before hanging up on the relentless machine.


And turning off my phone, I eventually went back to sleep, hoping that no one was at risk, because SERIOUSLY, that just isn’t right…
Plus, I’m on vacation!


Vegging out in front of the TV seemed like the best way to escape thinking about work.  I could clear my mind, allow myself to be enrapt in the stories and generally shut down all of my cognitive processes!
Unfortunately, as I do work in television, I suddenly found myself wildly distracted by virtually unnoticeable discrepancies in continuity.

“He’s blocking her key light and casting a horrible shadow over her face” I sighed during a cable re-run of I don’t even know what show.  “And seriously, her purse was on her other wrist when she entered” I reported to my kitty who merely stared at me with one creepy open eye while she napped.  “Oh come on!” I blathered irritably as yet another actress’ ponytail moved from left to right to left again.
I was almost prepared to accept the visual distractions, until I found myself actually pulling out a piece of paper to figure out just how I would correctly stand-in for one episodic who had three actors meander down a winding hallway, all the while flipping different sides of the corridor for no apparent reason.  “When did she move over there?” I wondered, replaying my TiVo three more times, and thanking God out loud that I don’t work single camera dramas.

But what the heck was I doing?  I’m on vacation!

I knew ever so long ago that I couldn’t possibly withstand the where-withal to be a Stay-At-Home Mom.  I applaud ALL of you for the sacrifices that you make every single day, and I send the warmest sentiments for your unbelievable abilities to handle your beloved DEMONIC BEASTS IN CHILD-LIKE BODIES, um, I mean Most Precious Gifts!

And if I ever had an ounce of confusion as to my inate maternal feelings, suffice it to say that my four-foot-spindly-legged furry friend Pretty proved me correct.
Despite our sixteen year relationship of co-existing together -- wherein on a daily basis when I’m at work, Pretty has successfully been able to eat kibble from her bowl and hydrate herself with water –- I know, because I clean her litter box twice a day --   surprisingly, Pretty has learned what “Hiatus” happens to mean to HER.

I’m her two-legged slave!!!
Dear God!

While I don’t recall signing a contract of any kind (nor my kitty growing an opposable thumb and co-signing said contract), I’m apparently at the mercy of my feline sidekick Home-Spun Hell Hound…
Again, not sure just where it’s written, but it would seem that if I am not awake by a reasonable kitty standard, I shall be punished with one small turd displayed artistically outside of her litter box.

Furthermore, all human food eaten by me, shall be mercilessly whiffed, sniffed and offered to said cat, for fear of being poked in my face with her paw; upon which, if said food should be unappealing to Her Highness (God forbid I eat an apple), Princess Pretty reserves the right to properly use her litter box, with the tacit understanding that if I don’t put down my food immediately and properly escort her into said litter box on demand, she shall elect to pee over the edge onto the paper towels and linoleum, thus forcing me to pull out wads of Bounty Basic along with sheets of Lysol disinfecting wipes.
But wait, there’s more!

As to the provisions of saucers of milk, every twenty-seven minutes would be most acceptable to Her Highness; however on this note I have firmly put my foot down.  She can bully me all she wants, but she can’t FORCE me into the kitchen!  I’ve cleaned up just enough puddle-butt deposits to know when she’s had enough!!!
…Plus, she’s decided that (A.) if she doesn’t make a full circle around my ankles, and (B.) if I don’t put the saucer down on the North side of the kitchen, and (C.) if I don’t stand there and watch her drink, she gets a mulligan…


What a teeny tiny bubble of a nightmare!!!

Wishing you all a more delightful oasis should you get a hiatus,
~One Ragged Cent (and Her Highness!)

P.S.  Ooh!  Only 26 messages on my cell phone from a beeping FAX machine today!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” ~Lao Tzu
“Text me, TEXT ME, TEXT ME!” I stared at my cell phone, waiting for the usual indication that I would indeed once again be standing in for HER as we camera-blocked our last episode of the first half of our Second Season.

“C’mon, C’MON, C”MON!” I pleaded to my humble pathetic flip-phone that blinked almost apologetically with a green light alerting me to the fact that not one-what-so-ever byte of incoming information was being patched through.

“But I gotta be her, I GOTTA BE HER, I GOTTA BE HER!” I threw my arms in the air in righteous indignation; pointing out the fact (to my kitty cat who had nowhere to go but to hide inside the closet) that I had EARNED my right to perform with our Guest Star of the week!

“Is it time to make scene with aerating soil?” our six foot three inch tall Brazilian Model Guest Star asked me as I melted into a small puddle.
“Uh-huh!” I squeaked (NEVER more thrilled IN MY LIFE to not only fill in for our Leading Lady, but also for the chance to fulfill the fantasy of every straight woman and gay man on our stage!) 

And accidentally stepping on the edge of my boot with his shoe, he apologized profusely:  “I’m so sorry my dear!” our visiting Brazilian politely fretted, placing his hand on the small of my back to steady me.
“OHH, THAT’S OK!!!” I puddle-esque quivered.

“She’s walking now?  Copy that” my AD caught my eye as he spoke into his mini-microphone, simultaneously outstretching his arm in a human barricade so as to block my puddle-essence from spilling into the set.   
Aw, c’mon!!!

“We’re keeping all you guys for the show tonight, since we camera-blocked with you instead of the Cast and you need to give them notes” one of my ADs informed the Second Team.

“Of course you are…” I smiled numbly, resigned to the fact that no matter what technical notes I could possibly convey, my Gorgeous Actress would rightfully do whatever she deemed organically suitable on stage in front of her live studio audience; and yet despite this departmentally-widely accepted knowledge by every other person on the crew, my ADs would STILL hold me hostage as though my presence could in some miraculous way, prevent any and all possible unforeseen snafus.  (Anyone else see the incredulity here?)

Suffice it to say, I was tired.  My feet were still hurting (as they’ve been for months on the days when I have no chance to sit down), and collecting a platter of free food at our final catered meal (for now), I limped towards the table of my fellow Stand-Ins (I’m beginning to think it’s all psychosomatic!) until I was interrupted by an alien voice:
“Penny?  She’d like to see you in her dressing room after you finish your dinner,” one of our Leading Lady’s throng of assistants (who had never spoken to me before) grinned.  “Do you know where that is?” he wondered as I honestly shook my head “no”.

“Through that door and down the hallway to the last one on your left” he pointed.  “She has a little something for you” he smiled.
“OK” I responded, wildly confused.  And collapsing happily at the table, my sister and brethren Second Teamers prodded me to go and collect my gift immediately. 

Oh, but I had already received the most wonderful gift -- a chair to sit down on!

*knock, knock, knock*
“Come in!” my Leading Lady’s cheerful voice carried through the door and out into the hallway (and possibly all the way to San Francisco!).

“You wanted to see me?” I asked uncomfortably, suddenly acutely aware that despite having worked together for two seasons, I’d never experienced the unique sense of awkwardness (slash) absolutely debilitating (slash) terrifying Hitchcock-esque special effect that comes with finding one’s self summoned to a celebrity’s personal dressing room and being addressed eye to eye.
“Hi Pen!  I just wanted to thank you…” she began graciously as the aforementioned assistant placed an envelope in my hand.  “Blah, blah, blah… was so great…” she continued (crap! I was a deer caught in headlights!) “…and the fact that…” she added, (snap out of it already!) “…not to mention…” she continued warmly (WTF was wrong with me?) “…and why are you standing so far away, Pen?  Come closer!” she beckoned, as I realized that I’d been paralyzed for the last five minutes at the door, twenty feet away from her.  “At least let me hug you!” she smiled.

Frankly, the entire experience still feels surreal.

I’m relatively certain that I threw in a lot of “No, thank YOU!” comments, whenever I heard a lull…
To the best of my recollection (fuzzy as it may be), I’m pretty sure that whilst only one assistant was present at the time (along with her personal hair stylist), two more assistants entered at some point.  And although my imagination may be playing tricks on me, it’s still entirely possible that she was getting hair extensions while sitting in a purple velvet throne.

“What’d ya get?  What’d ya get?!” my co-workers wanted to know as I plopped back down in my dinner chair.

“I dunno” I offered stupidly, only vaguely aware of the envelope still clutched in my sweaty little paw. 
“Let’s see!”

And opening the personalized stationery, I read the gracious hand-written sentiments of thanking me for filling in for her throughout a difficult season.  “P.S.” I read out loud, “I don’t know what you like, so please buy yourself a much deserved treat!”
“Is that a personal check?” one of my friends asked, eying a separate piece of paper enclosed.

“That’s a check!!!” I beamed!

Feeling extremely special and appreciated by my Actress, yet still rather oppressed by my ADs (I know, I know, they had bigger fish to fry), I was somewhat mortified to be called onto the set to give notes for our first scene in front of the audience.
“I don’t HAVE any notes for this scene!” I shouted over the jubilant music of our live DJ and fantastic Warm-Up guy. 

“How am I supposed to know that?” my AD sighed irritably as he walked away.
“Hmm…  I don’t know…  maybe because I’ve done my job well for two seasons, and you ought to know that I’d catch your eye if I needed to give a note; followed by tracking you down after giving said note and shouting “SET!” in your ear as I’ve done for the last twenty-two episodes?” I wondered to myself.

And scuttling appropriately like vermin behind the stage as only lowly sub-human Stand-Ins are apparently supposed to do, I wound my way in the dark to the Craft Services area; where what should happen to lie in wait of my pestilence-infested whiskers, but a tray of diced cheese cubes.
Perfect. (You have to appreciate The Universe’s wacky sense of humor!)

With three scenes to be shot in the same set, my notes given (albeit disregarded!), I thought I was safe to venture quietly down the length of the rest of the darkened stage towards the AD office to hide and maybe finish a crossword puzzle.

“HEY!  GIVE IT UP FOR *insert my full name*!  She played *insert character title* in the episode you all just watched, and she’s ALSO *insert my Actress’ name* STAND-IN!!!” our Audience Warm-Up guy alerted the crowd as 250 people clapped and fervently waved at me.
“Oh…!  Hi, everybody!” I smiled and waved back before immediately scurrying into the shadows; a couple of cubes of Swiss cheese still lingering in my ferret-like paws.

As with all things in Nature, there belies a delicate balance.

A seedling must grow, must defy the occasional rock in its way, and with a bit of sunshine, develop into what it is most naturally meant to be.  And commanded to remain on stage at all times while re-writes were occurring, I stood patiently in a row with some of my fellow beleaguered Second Teamers.
“You know, it’s a damn good thing we’re here” our three-day-player guest Stand-In nodded.  “Heck, we’re SAVING this show just with our physical presence of being in absolutely everyone else’s way” he smirked sarcastically.

And just like that, a ray of sunshine!

“Step over here” I nudged my friend Tara as we shamelessly ogled our ridiculously handsome and charming (shirtless) Brazilian Guest Star.
“Woof” our Second Second AD sidled up, as a small congregation of female admirers began angling for position and proper viewing.

“Make room, MAKE ROOM, MAKE ROOM!” my Leading Lady’s assistant barreled into us for his own line of sight.
“I’d like to send her a Thank You card for her generous gift” I whispered to the assistant.  “Is it OK to send it to the address on the check in Malibu?” I wondered.

“Yes sweetie” he smiled, “and you deserved it” he added genuinely.  “Now, can you scoot over just a bit?!”

Officially wrapped at 10:06pm, I hugged as many people as possible within range (my apologies to at least four that I missed!), and headed quickly out the door into the night before we went on a bell to begin shooting again.
Three Higher-Ups had ever so kindly asked me to stay in touch should they need me, to which I honestly responded “I’ll be in my bed for at least a week catching up on some sleep.  But I’m all yours after that!” I answered with all due respect.

And still hobbling a bit, I paused under a nearly full moon to try to remember just where I had parked Cecilia (my Toyota) earlier that morning…
There had been a terribly long line of cars awaiting permission into the gate; I’d managed to bypass a couple of civilians; I’d made it into the structure, when…  OH YES!  My FAVORITE Security Guard (who sometimes has a ciggy with me), mentioned that a certain VIP unmarked spot just MIGHT be open ON THE GROUND FLOOR!

And tone-deaf as I may be, I burst into a Semi Season Finale bastardized acoustic garage version of Simon and Garfunkel’s song “Cecilia”, where “WE GET TO GO HOME!” dominated whatever hippy-dippy lyrics they’d actually written.  (Sorry fellas!)

Embracing my first couple of days of complete autonomy, answering to ABSOLUTELY NO ONE (other than my occasionally milk-craving kitty), I eventually peeled my misanthropic weary head off the bed to check my snail mail.

Guess who just got summoned for Superior Court Jury Duty next month?  OY!!!

Attempting to make the best of every situation, and determined to find a ray of sunshine to help this little seedling continue to grow, I’m choosing to stand tall.  (Well…, ya know…, in the comfort of my dimly-lit bat-cave and mostly asleep in the dark for the next thirty days…) 
Wishing you whatever makes your spirit soar,

~Happily napping P :)

p.s. Mucho Gusto to our Guest Star!