Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Cosmic Consternation of Compatibility (Part One): "Pimped Out!"

(Two years apart, but she's still in my heart!!!)
“Since I don’t have any actual proof that she’s a prostitute, I can’t exactly quantify that my new upstairs neighbor may or may not be a hooker” I confided on the phone to my Dad, from whose side of the family I seem to have inherited my rather unorthodox abuse of ‘word-smithy-ness’.
“True...” he mused momentarily as he contemplated my ‘idea-logical’ blog post in progress, and the fact that my neighbor always appears with disturbingly disheveled hair in the same denim skirt and strappy sleeveless pink camisole.  “But perhaps you could hint that this might have become a ‘whore’-able situation?”

(My Dad is AWESOME!)

As previously stated, I had no tenable explanation as to my new neighbor’s source of income to afford residence in our apartment building (seriously, if it wasn’t for Rent Control, I’d be living in a cardboard box); nor her inexplicably bizarre choices as to whenever the f*** she felt like moving her car (my ever so considerate text messages as to my morning departure times for work falling on deaf ears); and with my knuckles a wee bit sore from having to continuously rap on the door (I kid you not – rather than answer the polite knocking, she TEXTED me back, with “Ok, com8ng”), I found myself, quite literally, near my wit’s end.
Granted, I had some stressors preoccupying my pea-brain as I prepared for the monster two-part epic Series Finale of our Sit-Com –- an heroic “let’s blow the budget with location shoots, stunts and Guest Stars” middle finger to the cable Network for cancelling our show prematurely –- but as I, a humble Stand-In who has zero power over the Powers That Be, had no say in the matter, and whose only choice was to make the best of the situation (hey, overtime pay is always welcome in my checking account!), I opted to embrace the stressors by contemplating the possibility of purchasing a fresh, new, comfortable pillow where upon I could lay my weary head.

With an early call-time on a brutally hot Tuesday morning (I actually parked on the street so I didn’t have to deal with the hooker), and released from work after a 1:00 Producers Run-Thru around 2pm, I piled into Cecilia (my Toyota) and motored off in search of a replacement for the mangled monstrosities that I’ve been folding in half for neck support as I continue my everlasting pursuit of “dreaming huge”.

“Yes, we DO sell pillows!” the delightful Store Manager “Jennifer” smiled warmly as I entered into the cooling coziness of the bedding retail establishment.  “Just out of curiosity, are you possibly due to purchase a new mattress sometime in the near future?” she inquired politely, a sales professional for a company in Southern California whose catch phrase happens to be “If it’s over 8, it’s time to replace!”

“Um, yeah, well, maybe...” I stammered awkwardly, far too ashamed to admit out loud the longevity of the relationship betwixt myself and the sanctuary of my mattress and box set (purchased in 1988).
“If you have a few minutes Penny, I’d love to introduce you to some options for whenever you might choose to upgrade!” Jennifer led me to a showroom demo.  “Go ahead and lay down, here’s the pillow that I recommend, and just get a feel for the mattress.”

Hmmm...  (Pillow not bad...)
“This particular base model has pre-set selections, but let me place you where I think is most comfortable, OK?” she inquired as she worked the remote control thingy.

And with a most gentle elevation of my feet and head which immediately took away all pressure off of my lower back, I dissolved most contentedly into the cradle.
“Now let me take you back to Zero Gravity to feel the difference” she pressed a button which flattened the bed, leveled my body and left me feeling somewhat bat-like upside-down.  (HEY!?)

“I know you’re not shopping for ANY of this Penny, but please indulge me, as you absolutely HAVE to experience this one for yourself!” Jennifer recommended as I plopped down once again, prepared for nothing more than a redundant sales pitch in a different (albeit reaaallly comfortable) crib.
“This isn’t the ‘Cadillac’ of our options – wherein you could literally use a Smart Phone to pre-heat the bed on a cold night – but since you told me that you’re a Stand-In and literally STAND on your feet all day, you might want to give this one a try” Jennifer suggested as she clicked on a massage button for my lower extremities.

“Oh...” I nodded appreciatively.  “So, wait; you mean to tell me that rich people sleep like this every single night?” I scrunched my face in envious disbelief.
“Well, no, you don’t have to be rich, and no, sleeping doesn’t have to be exactly just like this” she mused.  “You see, if you have some stress in, say, your shoulders for example, you could always hit this button” she pointed out as my neck vibrated like a neo-natal infant sans the inability to hold up my own cranium.  

“Oh...” I marveled stupidly.
“And if you just need to shake off the whole day, this setting vibrates the entire bed” she smiled.

“Ooooh...” I melted further into a puddle of goo.
“But hang on Penny, there’s more!” Jennifer added enticingly.  “Not only can you set the vibrations to 10, 20 or 30 minutes, but you can increase the intensity from mild, to moderate, to deep-tissue massage!” she winked as my entire spine officially morphed into a wet noodle; dual rillets of drool streaming into the smiling dimples on either side of my face as I lazed all pie-eyed in the cradle. 

“I need to return an email” Jennifer ‘suddenly’ checked her phone.  “Will you be OK here for a few minutes?” she asked me pleasantly, gently placing the remote control into my limp hand.
“G’head” I purred, most unable to even begin to form a complete sentence...

With the soothing massage clicking off on its own, Jennifer reappearing by my bedside and the junkie needle of “Crack Back Comfort” firmly ‘embedded’ (if you will) in my veins, I lopey-dopey followed Jennifer to the next bed – a twin sized cushion attached to a computer where she asked me to lie down once again.

“This is how we figure out the precise firmness of the mattress that’ll suit you best, Penny.  It’s an interactive system, and while you lay there, the computer actually scans your body for pressure points!”
“You mean my fat?” I raised a skeptical eyebrow (the only muscle that I could still control.)

“Your PRESSURE POINTS, my dear!” she laughed.  “Then we’ll get a printout of a color range between gold, blue, green and red, and let you decide if you agree with the findings.”
“I look best in blue and green” I suggested, still completely shit-faced from my twenty minute shiatsu session.

“Well, that’s not exactly how we, or how the computer, or the actual COLOR of the mattress, well..., just relax and type in your answers!” Jennifer recommended ever-so patiently.

Approximately ten minutes later, with printout in hand, Jennifer paused momentarily before sharing my results.
“Um, it would appear that you fall directly in between the colors of blue and green...”

(Hah!  NAILED IT!!!)
With an additional twenty minutes of test driving various mattresses wherein Jennifer insisted I try one in the “blue” range, one in the “green/blue” realm; another in the “green” scale and a final firmer monster of whatever color, I felt quite content, informed and comfortable with my possible purchasable selections.

“Can you itemize and write down everything for me so I can discuss this with my Mom first?” I asked awkwardly, my hand already inching toward my credit card to pull the trigger for immediate gratification, but my head still somewhat in control over an impulse buy.  (I can justify an occasional Snickers bar in the checkout line; but a high-end purchase without my Mom’s brilliant ability to research on-line?  Yeah, NOT gonna happen!) 
“So...  out the door?” I cocked my head inquisitively as to the final cost.

“Of course I can move my car 4 u 2nite!” my neighbor texted me to allow me to depart for work at 7:15 in the morning.  “But why do you have to leave so early?” she wondered as we walked back inside the security gate together.

“It’s our final two episodes of the show, and even though it’s only a Sit-Com, they wrote a lot of complicated things into the scripts that will take up a lot of time” I explained as simply as possible.
“OH!  Much like my business in Advertising!” my neighbor nodded enthusiastically.  “I work VERY hard, for SO MUCH TIME, only to get fifteen seconds of actual product?”

I rest my case.
(Part Two, coming soon!)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Resurrection Reticence of One Red Cent

As the holy Sisters of Merciful Employment continued to bless me with ever-so sacred call times for my sixth week in a row on sit-coms in Hollywood, I clasped my hands together thankfully in prayer that prior to my SEVENTH week without a hiatus; I at least had Saturday and Easter Sunday off.

Granted I wasn’t particularly proud of the excessively dark thoughts swirling about my sinister pea-brain prior to a religious holiday - unearthly antitheses of the festivities of pastel colored eggs, straw baskets of plastic grass and church-going parade attendees clad in bonnets.
Nay my proclivities were provocatively being lured, enticed and tempted to The Dark Side, as despite my attempts to remain faithful to my uplifted spirit; my flesh was emotionally drained; my mind – a muddied eddy of a cesspool; my will - fragile as the puffballs billowing off a dandelion during a warm summer breeze.

And so, curtains closed, lights turned off (cell phone too) and the poot unplugged, I slept the sleep of The Dead from Friday night until Saturday at 4:30pm.

Easter Sunday
Still not feeling properly “resurrected” (if you will), and unable to get my weary corpse out of bed again until 4:30pm, I was still in no mood for any confectionary bunnies as I dragged my carcass out of the bat-cave.

After all, the following Daring Duo of Lightness and Darkness have resided rather frighteningly in the far back of my refrigerator since approximately 1988 (I kid you not – they’ve become a Darwinian experiment as to their longevity – what the hell are they made of???):


But by golly, I was going to find a way to celebrate Easter!  And if that meant a trip to McDonalds for a Habanero Burger Meal at the Drive-Thru in my pajamas, then by the grace of God, a feast would be had!

Toddling outside the pearly gates of my apartment building, I stood baffled at an unmarked car blocking my beloved Cecilia.  No note on the windshield, no information left on my Toyota, not a Post-It tacked on the door.  (Hmm...)  And dialing the crappy Landlord (only to get voicemail) as well as crappy Landlord’s Mom (more voicemail), I tried the phone number of my friends who moved out a month ago but whose names were still listed on the landline outside.
“Are you and Holly visiting?!” I asked Jon hopefully, as they were seriously lovely people who couldn’t have been kinder regarding my weird work schedule and the sharing of the tandem parking up our hill.

But as Jon and Holly were already moved into their new home, I was left with only two choices:  call the Police and have an automobile towed off of private property, or risk the Sheriff throw me in handcuffs for peeping into Holly and Jon’s apartment for signs of life.  (Well, hop, hop, hop up the stairs, bunny rabbit!)
With movement stirring behind the blinds, I knocked on the door as I briefly met my new neighbor (I’m guessing by her accent, Eastern European?), who suggested that we exchange info and text each other as to our cars and departure times.  (I gave her my card, as she promised to text me in the future.)

And while she kindly allowed me and Cecilia out for our celebratory take-home feast, illicit dark thoughts possessed me once again, as returning home to my cave, the newest apostle to the sanctuary of my building boldly chose to occupy the ENTIRE parking spot in our ten minute absence; leaving Cecilia and me to fend for a leper’s location curbside on the street.  (WTF???)

As my neighbor actually departed around 5pm, I was blissfully able to place Cecilia back into her well-coveted niche, and despite my wonky call-times for my week without any textual scriptures regarding parking, I clasped my hands together thankfully once more that for the love of God; I had no drama with the new resident, and a mere THREE days left prior to a WHOLE WEEK OF HIATUS!
Oh, I possessed the patience of a Saint!

Oh, I would certainly be canonized for my tolerance!
And of course I’d undoubtedly nail all scenes (yikes, poor choice of words?) as I helped to cover a co-worker who was too under the weather to report to the Stage for a day of camera-blocking. 

Unfortunately, apparently The Universe just wasn’t quite YET satisfied that I be properly blessed with a hiatus until I could withstand yet one more trial as to the heart of practicing the simple act of Kindness given any circumstance...

And cue the biblical deluge of elderly Background Actors!!!
Good Lord!  They were like locusts!  Each one hungrier and crabbier than the next!

As one lady scavenged Craft Services, she snarled contemptuously that despite an entire double refrigerator stocked with (FREE) cold beverages, none of them were particularly appealing to her palate or dietary requirements. 
Not to be outdone, a gentleman with an armload of clothing for the Wardrobe Dept., eyed a seat in the midst of our Second Team grouping, which despite the pre-set purse, sweater and script splayed open by an obvious co-worker, he attempted to plant his ass in her pre-ordained chair.

“I’m sorry, but someone’s already sitting there” I piped up helpfully.
“Oh yeah?” he barked back.  “Well I don’t SEE anybody!” he harrumphed.  

“She just went to the ladies room...” I cowered; an awkward moment to be sure, as my friend CJ came to the rescue. 
“There’s red tape right HERE!” CJ unearthed her way through our co-workers clothing to establish our righteous point as Mr. Crabby Pants stomped off bitterly.

Lastly, caught peeling apart sandwiches with her fingers to try to determine precisely which particular deli meats appealed to her, another frustrated co-worker had seen quite enough.
“You touched it.  That one’s YOURS.  Take it, and go NOW.”

As pre-shoots of our show happened to surpass our scheduled late lunch hour, our UPM was kind enough to provide a Food Truck on the Studio Lot for those of us who were still looking at four or five more hours of working well into the evening. 

Blissfully, the BG Players had been dismissed, and with nothing left to do but receive the blessed confirmation that they had filled out all of the “I Swear I’m Not a Registered Sex Offender” paperwork, they would be happily sent off onto their chosen paths.
Yet grabbing two cheeseburger sliders from “The Patty Wagon” outside for my dinner, I found myself most uncomfortably oppressed by a BG Actress (who bared an uncanny resemblance to Joan Rivers – I’m just sayin’...), who despite her petite stature, literally “cowed” me into submission.

“Where’d ya get that?  I didn’t see no burgers at Crafty!” she bellowed belligerently, an unpleasant tinge of orangey lipstick smeared across her front teeth.
“Um, they’re from the Food Truck out there” I squeaked, pointing to the elephant doors.

“What?  I have to go ALL the way OUTSIDE?!” she continued crabbily.
“Well, I think you might need to check with the ADs before you even leave the stage” I suggested gently.

(Seriously, people?  You were fed for free all day!  How should I know if the production company is offering you a catered lunch too?  Go HOME, already!)
Oh dear friends, The Dark Side had begun to take over once again...

And searching for the Goodness and Light, I bit happily into my first cheeseburger slider, only to woefully discover that “The Patty Wagon” ran true to their grass-fed prophesy, that “our cows eat Vegan, so you don’t have to!”

Cute!  Cunning!  Clever! 
And freaking dry as a one humped camel in the desert.

“I hope you get your burgers, ya old bat” I whispered to myself regarding the Joan Rivers wannabe.
(YEP.  The Dark Side had officially WON!)

Personally, I’m still baffled as to why the Almighty Hiatus is so powerful and painfully necessary.  I love my job to be sure, so why must we absolutely REQUIRE breaks from the joy of the creative process?  Do we just burn out?  Heck, I only survived seven weeks of work in a row before I nearly lost my mind and snapped at an elderly lady!  (My complete internal dialogue was far too shameful to type here!)

And as I “try to make sense”, I can only speak for myself that as to the first three days or so of time off from work, I’m still toiling relentlessly hard in my sleep.  (We’re talking Spielberg-worthy films in my dreams.)  (I don’t even know how to work single camera!)
So whilst I generally prefer to leave you, my kindest readers, with a mere tale to be told (there’s no “like” thingie button need be pressed, nor any pressure to email me back), I’m curious as to your personal take on the Almighty Hiatus if you have any thoughts.

Meanwhile, seriously “resurrected” (if you will) after nine days of complying with the demands of my body to stay up late (or randomly hang from the rafters and nap like an old bat (karma?) in the afternoon), I think I’m finally back to myself and ready to embrace the bliss of humanity, kindness (and comedy!) once again.

Well...  that is to say until I found my car parked in by my new neighbor on my very first day back to work, FFS; who didn’t respond to my text, and who SERIOUSLY would’ve been met by the full fury of my wrath were I not rested, relaxed and practicing forgiveness, damnit!
Ah, but yes kind friends, despite any written notification from my crappy Landlords, and sans so much as a call to the landline or a knock on my bat-cave door that Cecilia has a new parking roommate; I’m choosing to take the high road of faith that we shall overcome.

Therefore, please indulge with me in a high five to The Universe for a spectacular twist of Fate (and an AWESOME sense of humor); that during my blessed Hiatus, my new neighbor who moved in upstairs (I kid you not), is ironically named “Cecile”.
And as to my rejuvenated spirit and joy of returning to the Light?

Let’s just say, today I frolicked and had a ball!!!
~Perky Penny Cottontail