Sunday, May 19, 2013



After a full day of serial killers on my TiVo and a large bowl of pasta for a comforting late supper, I drifted contentedly off to sleep to the lulling sounds of my television, only to “wake up” in what appeared to be an insane asylum.
Naturally I hadn’t any idea that I was a complete lunatic as my delusions seemed quite real; so I felt absolutely no hesitation as I attempted to cuddle maternally on a couch with “Dr. Spencer Reid” (aka actor Michael Gray Gubler from Criminal Minds), whilst bonding amicably over the fact we were both sporting mismatched socks.  And agreeing to be my “special friend” who would protect me from the rest of the patients (I assumed they were just Hollywood extras), I felt my left arm go numb as I drifted off to a deep sleep.

Coming to (in what felt like only moments later), I found myself roaming the grounds of the massive estate with FBI liaison “J.J.” (aka actress A.J. Cook, also from Criminal Minds) as I confidentially shared the story of Dr. Reid and myself, although I was relatively certain that the whole experience had been nothing more than a mildly lucid dream. 
And promising never to divulge my secret, J.J. and I ambled arm in arm along, taking small notice of both “Kimball Cho” and “Grace Van Pelt” (aka actor Tim Kang and actress Amanda Righetti from The Mentalist); who jumped feet-first into a deep ceramic fountain beneath a monumental sculpture of Venus de Milo, so as to interview a massively-scarred Vietnamese woman who was currently swimming the backstroke.

“She’s just another extra without a speaking role, but don’t worry; they’re paying her a lot of money for both treading water and sitting in the make-up chair for four hours” J.J. patted my hand comfortingly.
Suddenly back inside the Common Room, I espied the aforementioned Matthew Gray Gubler, offered him a seat on the couch and promptly apologized for confusing him with his on-screen character.  Of course I knew the difference (since I too am an actor in Hollywood), and I was looking forward to an intellectual discussion about his favorite episodes that he had actually directed.

But with a noticeable “cuckoo” twisting finger next to her head, J.J. telepathically transmitted my embarrassing dream to him; which sent him reeling into a maniacal fit of humiliating laughter as my right arm suddenly became numb. 
And back to sleep I went.

Sitting in my padded room with the door wide open, I felt distracted.  The little dollhouse shadowbox in my lap glistened with shining gems that I was somehow supposed to collect, but a youngish character actress (whom I couldn’t quite place) was hounding me to watch her pet rabbit for a week while she got to leave the grounds for a few days.  And finally agreeing to do so, I placed the floppy-eared bunny into my deceased kitty’s carrier for safe keeping, whilst the girl unpacked a cardboard box of complex Doppler weather monitoring equipment.
Returning to the diorama however, I only had enough time to amass three diamonds, which actually turned out to be miniature Barbie doll-sized light bulbs in the palm of my hand. 

And that’s when it (literally!) dawned on me... 
I was seriously an inpatient in an insane asylum!

Well, no wonder everyone was acting so crazy!  Oh, but now I had the proof!  Yes, the next time the doctors stuck a needle in the arm, I’d have my little stash of light bulbs hidden somewhere next to the bunny rabbit to prove my sanity!  After all, clearly I’d burrowed deep Undercover with the assistance of the FBI to expose the ugly secrets of mental health care; and upon discovering my encoded notebook which would eventually lead to the Nobel winning story I would publish, the staff had taken to medicating me to maintain my silence.  Duh!  (Naturally, I felt a twinge of guilt that Barbara Walters would have to come out of retirement to host the special interview, but I figured the ol’ gal could hack it.)
Back in the Common Room, I found J.J. working on a legal file folder, sitting at a wooden table under a large white umbrella.  (“Quite smart of her” I thought, since it was raining indoors that day.)  And taking a seat on the throne at the head of the table, I asked where my favorite Dr. Reid had gone.  Without so much as a blink, she pointed upward, and then steadily continued to secretively complete my paperwork. 

Sure enough, climbing steadily up the side of the umbrella like a monkey in the Amazon, there appeared Dr. Reid, who stopped momentarily to shriek at me through the canvas.
“You do know that you have to give back the rabbit, right?” J.J. suddenly looked up at me with shifty eyes, whispering as she scanned the room.

The BUNNY!!! 
Tearing my padded cell apart, I eventually found the cage which I’d left unattended for a week, and panicked at the sight of a furry misshapen creature which had morphed into something not of this earth.  “You must be so hungry!  You must be so thirsty!” I cried in horror, racing outside into the darkness to bathe the creature in the fountain – only to discover that massive steel bars surrounded the water to prevent the inmates from drowning at night.  “Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh, I know there’s a hose around here somewhere!” I shrieked, lapping the massive estate twice until I finally found one.

Unfortunately, the landscapers had gone digital, and the only way to get water out of the hose was to interface the cable with a USB port.  “Oh, you poor thing” I wept profusely, trying to un-mat a dirty clump of fur as the creature began to wearily lap at the water running over its “head” and “back”.    
“Don’t worry, he’s relatively resilient” the character actress (whom I still couldn’t place) suddenly appeared.  “Just tell me; where the hell is the Doppler weather equipment?”

I wasn’t sure how we got there, but the next thing I knew I was standing in someone else’s kitchen, trembling in terror as the furry creature morphed upright into a raven-haired man with piercing black eyes.  “You’ve still got some gunk in your fur there...” I fearfully pointed to the back of his head.
“Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares” he snapped at me, slapping away my hand irritably.  And breezing past me through a wall of hanging beads into a room full of actors dressed in Shakespearian costumes, I knew I had to ask the hard-hitting question for my Nobel winning research.

“So are you a rabbit who changes into a man, or a man who changes into a rabbit?”
And theatrically slinking toward me to stare me down face to face, he took my chin in his hand and announced sagely, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your ring, ring, ring.”

Bolting upright in a cold sweat in the sanctity of my own home, in my own bed, I was relieved to be awakened by the sound of an annoying telemarketer abusing my land line and answering machine, as well as my television volume on low, which happened to be airing an old episode of CSI: Miami, with actor David Caruso starring as “Horatio Caine”. 
Good grief, what an exhausting sequence of events!  I was amazed at the highly specific details of the dream in the light of day; yet still moderately shaken up at the experience as the sanitarium had seemed as real and plausible as the cold rain in the Common Room!

In hindsight of course, quite a bit of the bizarre events did make a modicum of sense...
Obviously the open-door padded room reflected my current comfort zone; the numbness in my arms were likely my pea-brain’s gentle way of subconsciously reminding me to occasionally roll my ass over during hard-core sleep; the diamond light bulbs were probably flashbacks to spending too much time playing games on my Kindle; the cameo appearances by actors were noticeably fresh from my day of TiVo cleaning; and the blurbs of confusion over the Doppler effect could easily be dismissed as a couple of simple reports from local weathermen on the television.     

As to the attention to detail – well, that’s understandably a nudge from my right brain feeling neglected by repetitious logical overuse of the left brain whilst solving crossword puzzles; and even the “bunny” (I suspect), symbolically represented mourning over the upcoming one year Anniversary of losing my heroic feline best friend Pretty last May 25th...

Methodical interpretations aside, I couldn’t ignore the yearning for a bit of comfort food (no pasta or after-dinner mints this time!) to assist in my mental recovery.   
And where would I naturally choose to go?

Wheeling Cecilia (my car) into the McDonald’s drive-thru, I drooled (non-psychotically, mind you) in anticipation over the juicy, properly seasoned Angus burger patty (complimented with double slices of Swiss cheese and a dollop of mayo) that I hadn’t savored in approximately two weeks. 
“I’m sorry, but we don’t carry that specific menu item anymore” the employee informed me flatly.

(What, wait, WHAT???)
“They weren’t really selling all that great, so yeah” he continued.

(What, wait, WHAAAT???)
“We have a few of the other Angus choices left for now, but Corporate’s totally discontinuing the Angus burgers May 23rd.  But they’re introducing a brand new line of sandwiches after that!” he offered cheerily.

And the nightmare continues...
Paging Dr. Reid for medication (STAT!),

~Patient “X”
Author’s Addendum:  I debated over whether or not to include the following; but after the last two weeks of countless hours of talking, and with my friend’s blessing, I wanted to put out a universal wish of love and good luck to “Logan” as a new journey begins.  Logan has bravely faced a personal severe alcohol abuse problem, and will be voluntarily checking into rehab tomorrow for the next thirty days.  I’ll miss you my friend, but clearly (since I’m dreaming about being in a padded room) I’m already with you in spirit!!! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Conversations from the Other Side


“Let me know if you feel anything creepy” my beloved friend Dev led me through the darkened tunnel beneath the underbelly of the Audience seating during my previous three-day gig on a painfully low budget sit-com.  “This stage is notoriously haunted” he mentioned ever-so-casually over his shoulder; a passing comment as if encounters with the Undead are quite natural and to be expected.   “We definitely have a Ghost here” Dev continued, “and it’s even whispered my name” he added, alerting me to the fact that our Craft Services lady seemed highly attuned to the spectral anomalies.

(Well, in her defense, she honestly DID have a knack at eerily hovering around the food just as I was about to abscond with both a banana AND a bagel – my devious, self-serving plot to provide myself with an ounce sustenance which apparently might sabotage the tiny funding she was allotted...) 
But as to the other-worldly communications, I kept an open mind.

After all, I’ve had many dreams where my deceased Grandpas and Grandmas come to visit and check on me – loving gestures which usually invoke not only the distinctive cologne of my Dad’s father (weird as it sounds, as my Grandma on that side of the family had no sense of smell); as well as my Mom’s father trotting briskly down a staircase (not sure I recall him ever that agile), looking forward to planting his grandchild on his lap in his La-Z-Boy recliner and playfully threatening me with “I’m gonna eat your ears, little girl!”  (I do believe those were the days that I first integrated the word “EEK!” into my vocabulary.) 

And yes, I did have to admit that not long ago, my heroic feline sidekick Pretty also appeared to me in one of the most lucid dreams I’ve ever experienced; where not only did I keep pinching myself to wake up, but I could actually communicate with my deceased bewhiskered best friend.  None of the dream made sense, as my apartment was exactly as it was when I fell asleep, but all of the sudden, there’s my kitty sniffing around, in and out of her favorite closet, jumping on the bed agilely with glistening green eyes and a loud purr of greeting.  I’d even asked her where she’d been for the last ten months, and she’d answered me enigmatically, that essentially wherever the music she heard and liked, she’d followed.
So who was I to discredit the potential validity of the possibilities of past and present communication? 

Yet while the barriers of consciousness may blur during sleep (personally, I often transport to Las Vegas in my dreams), you could have knocked me over with a feather when the aforementioned Paramount Ghost apparently swooped by the Audience seating and whispered my name in my left ear.

“I just heard something freaky” I shared with my Second Team who were at the moment chatting about a cute cameraman.  “Did you hear it?” I wondered all perplexed, whipping my head around in a frenzy, curious if the Audio Department was playing some sort of juvenile trick on the newbie. 
And spotting my friend Dev, I was just about to ask him what may have transpired when he plopped down with a plate of food and casually announced that the Ghost had just whispered HIS name for the second time at Craft Services.

Please say it with me – “EEK!”

Meanwhile, I found myself equally confused by conversations with the Living...
Not having worked at Paramount Studios in quite some time, I discovered that the world’s friendliest (and chatty!) Security Guard was not only the official Gate Keeper to thwart the entrance of civilian’s vis-à-vis the employees; he was also one of the most delightfully proud gentlemen who not only prided himself in knowing EVERY SINGLE PERSON’S name as he swiped their IDs and greeted them personally.

That is, until it was my turn to pass through the pearly gates.
“I’m afraid you’re not in the computer” he shook his head sadly, disallowing my passage to the other side.  “Why are you here?” he wanted to know, as I explained my current occupational Limbo.

“Hey!  Being a Stand-In is a good job!” he shared jovially.  “You never know who you’re gonna be next time around, do ya?” he smiled.
Excellent point, previous soul once apparently known as “Buddha”!

Meanwhile, back in the whisper-free solitude of my bat cave that evening, I quietly logged on to my poot only to discover that my earthly presence had been invited to two social functions:  The first would be a surprise Birthday celebration for a friend (age undisclosed) and gathering of a multitude of people whom all used to haunt my local watering hole some years ago; and secondly, I’d received an early heads-up notification as to my childhood pal RJ’s impending nuptials to his beloved partner Richard for an intimate wedding to be held on the East Coast “at a Widow friend’s mansion” in July.

(A “Widow friend’s MANSION???”  Oh good heavens, that’s like my ultimate MECCA!!!)
But, but, but, I wasn’t prepared for either amassing of souls!     

Certainly I was looking forward to catching up with a multitude of ghosts from the pub; but years had passed since the closing of our local establishment, and, well, let’s just say I wasn’t feeling particularly self-confident...
After all, what remotely interesting minutia did my unemployed pea-brain have to share with the rest of my gainfully-employed Hollywood acquaintances?  Not to mention the fact that as many of us hadn’t seen each other in ages, well, how could I gracefully account for tummy pooch, poor eye-sight and lack of memory for people’s names?  (Oh, and did I mention my parent’s assessment over the phone that the current inexplicable pain in my left foot may be attributed to GOUT?)

Clearly there was only one thing to do to bridge the gap between my past, present and future...
I bought pearls!

And OOOH, not just ANY pearls!  With a “Secret On-Line Only” email from (with an enticing coupon discount), I logged on to purchase two long-ass, (KICK-ASS) strands of necklaces; each opulent gem no smaller than 10 to 11mm!
OK, OK, OK, perhaps my purchases were a wee bit rash considering my current Limbo status of employment...  But at least my investment of fine jewelry (coupled with a surprisingly pleasant residual check in the mail) would (in the long run) become family heirlooms to pass down to my family.  Plus (in the short run), I’d acquired accoutrements that would not only be acceptable in the world of the Widow’s mansion; but equally conversational at the iconic Mexican restaurant El Coyote on Beverly Blvd. – a landmark established in 1931, and most well-known for its kitsch, affordable food and knock-you-on-the-floor Margaritas.

What I hadn’t factored into my other-worldly equation however, was the uncanny ability for one phantom to manifest himself in a drunken stupor before the Birthday festivities even began before noon...
“You look like something straight outta “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” he, offered, sizing me up with the one good eye.  “Well, except for that skull hair clip on top of your head” he added sloppily.

“Yeah, well, that’s kind of what I was going for” I smiled politely before he teetered back to his bar stool.
(Yeesh!  And to think that I was worried about conversation?!)

As to the party and my friends, I felt stupid for ever having an ounce of doubt as to re-connecting.  Our Birthday “Boy” was genuinely surprised, our Hostess had pulled off a fabulous gathering and even my silly pearls were a hit with my gal pals.  (Well, after they disencumbered the gems from my neck and took turns to make certain that the oyster formations were authentic and “gritty” when rubbed against their teeth.) 
And whilst I’m generally against Spirits during the daylight hours, I eventually succumbed to a couple of strawberry Margaritas (I had cab fare!) as some of us relaxed together near a delightfully gaudy piñata next to our cozy leather booth.

“I may have the gout!” I openly shared, propping up a foot.
“I’ve got a sore leg!” a male friend who prides himself on walking in LA chimed in.

“I’ve got an iPhone, but it takes three different kinds of reading glasses to see it!” another piped up, frowning at the glowing screen in her hand.
“Yeah, well, I’ve got THIS to lug around every day” a fourth amigo bravely bared her belly for comparison.  “What the hell?  I used to be “small” fat, but now I’m “medium” fat?  How the hell did this happen?!” she posited to the table as we assessed our various gravitational pulls and inexplicable shifts in “girth”.

Gratefully accepting a free car ride home from a sober friend, and snuggling into my comfort zone under the warmth of my blankets, I made peace with the current angels and demons in my life as I vowed to go to sleep early for a change.

After all, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  (Well, that and the fact that El Coyote Margaritas did indeed live up to their historical reputation.  OOF!) 

Yet just when I thought all eerie communications from The Great Beyond had come to an end for the meantime, I bolted up in bed at a scratching noise just outside my bedroom window...
With winds picking up to approximately 30mph a few nights later, I could hear the noise of heavy palm tree fronds thudding onto the cement; yet I couldn’t quite discern the unusual rasping which seemed to scuttle away and reappear outside my front door.  First I heard the sound to my left as I slowly crept into my living room; followed by a scurrying of shuffling which seemed to come from the right.  “Maybe it’s a possum” I thought logically, wondering if I shouldn’t grab my Louisville Slugger to shoo away the varmint.  (Yeah right – suddenly I’m “Granny” from “The Beverly Hillbillies”?  I think NOT!)  “Or maybe the Paramount Ghost has tracked me down” I conjectured (actually, a far more comforting thought than confronting a beady-eyed sack of fur which would surely scare the crap out of each of us as we BOTH involuntarily fainted).

Nevertheless, I stifled a squeal so as not to alert the Spirit (or marsupial) any further as I crept towards the closed blinds...
And holding my breath as a floorboard squeaked beneath me, I saw a shadowy (maybe four foot tall?) presence stop dead in its tracks as I peeked out the window into the darkness...

Yes, kind readers, I was truly haunted.  Haunted by a being so terrifying who could withstand 30mph winds, scurry from place to place unnoticed, disappear for months at a time, and yet reappear at will.
“So sorry!  I’m just raking leaves...” the widow of my Deceased Crappy Landlord apologized to my neighbors who had the bravado to actually open their door.  “My husband always kept the property so tidy” she apologized again.

I guess we all have our own ghosts to face...

Cheers to our Loved Ones who visit when they can,
~Open-minded P