27 June 2009

Feeling the Hitch in my Head

In order to escape the insanity that has been the last few days (sorry, I don't see the point of canonizing a pederast with a penchant for painkillers), I turned to TMC. There, I was transported back to the 1950s and 60s, and the world of Alfred Hitchcock.

I love Hitch. Absolutely adore the man. I was raised on his television show and quickly fell in love with his movies. Imagine watching "Psycho" alone while babysitting on a huge piece of property on a desolate road during a windstorm with patio furniture hitting the side of the house and deer heads staring at you from the walls. I was thirteen and terrified, and absolutely mesmerized. He didn't need monsters or gore to put us at the edge of our seat. He delivered exquisite tension and lip-biting suspense. He also gave us sassy dames in dandy dresses dreamed up by Edith Head.

I once got booed at a symposium on feminism in film (held at UCLA) for going against the panel (and apparently the audience) when I declared that I thought Hitchcock gave us strong female characters. His women were smart, mouthy, fearless and unapologetic of their sexual power (with the exception of "Marnie"). But, I guess because they were in WASP-waist dresses, gloves and high heels, that didn't make them feminists. At least not at UCLA. Alfred Hitchcock (along with Alan Parker and David Lynch) was why I went to film school. And, by the way, I went to CalArts. You won't find a more politically correct, pro-feminist film school...so all those who booed can bite me. We can argue the whole victim/need to be rescued by a man issue at another time (though, let's also remember the era in which these films were made). As a feminist, right now, I want to talk about the clothes.

While I wouldn't be able to survive a day in the repressive landscape that was the 50s and 60s (they would have lobotomized me รก la Frances Farmer), I would love to dress for dinner, have a man who wore a suit and hat as well as Cary Grant did, don gloves, have a closet full of shirt dresses (I have one, but it just isn't enough), and indulge in three-martini lunches without it being frowned upon. Twin sets, skirts and pearls. Cocktails at five. Pocketbooks. Upper-crust, faux-English accents. Witty repartee. The style and silhouette of the 50s (at least how it's portrayed on television and film) has always been my favorite. And the designs of Edith Head make me crave a return to that time.

I see now how people carried themselves with a bit more dignity then, and much of that had to do with how they dressed. Sure, it was a constrictive uniform. But, clothing then was also a show of self-respect. Women didn't need to dress like streetwalkers to be sexy. They knew it was never the exposure of skin that was alluring as much as it was the reveal...or the anticipation thereof. A bare shoulder. An exposed back. A soft hand removed from a glove. I think that beats pasties and a thong any day. (And, guys, there's nothing better than removing your tie.)

Even then, in Hitch's world and Edith's clothes, good girls did bad things. Even better, they wanted to break the rules. Yet they did it in a really classy manner. Maybe it was the gloves or heels, the cinched waists or petticoats. Perhaps a girdle instills a sense of propriety. Who knows? Whatever it is, it would be nice to have a little more of it these days. Turn on "Notorious" (not the Biggie bio pic) or "Rear Window" to take a peek. Tell me you don't feel the urge to put on a hat and some gloves and greet people with, "Good evening," "Good afternoon," or "Good day." Don't you think it would be simply grand to have a bit more social decorum and class without any of that pesky social repression? Wouldn't you agree, darling? Wouldn't you agree? [Insert martini glass clink here.]

Yes, they are only movies and, no, Edith didn't do all the designs. But, in spite of the murder and espionage, it all comes off a bit more...civilized. And maybe that is what I'm craving most.

20 June 2009

Hard Candy

Look, I know I haven't been much fun lately. Deal with it. I'm working on a dream, and in the meantime, I'm not working. Being unemployed doesn't really bring on the comedy, you know? That is until you look at your EDD check. Now, *that's* funny. Not that I'm poo-pooing it. Not at all. I am supercalifragilisticexpialidociously grateful to be receiving that. Bless you, State of California. Really. Happy you can spare it.

And I'm not whining about being a little less than flush. We all have our shizzle to deal with. This is just a bit of a hard time. And it's the second time I've gone through a patch this craptastic in nine years. Which makes it a little more irritating. However, that was a recession. I'm not sure what this will end up being.

What I learned from Round 1 was appreciation. I'm the kind of girl who eats the heels of bread. Not just because I'm slightly addicted to carbs, but I don't like to waste anything. Not anymore. I squeeze and squeeze and squeeze the tube. Then I shake it, and squeeze some more. I can find a staggeringly good bottle of ten-dollar wine. I tend to prefer the six-dollar bouquet of flowers to the one-hundred-and-sixty-dollar arrangement. I know how much it costs to eat well and eat right, and I will pay it because I am worth it. I do my own pedicures because I do them better than the cheap places, and I can't find a good place open at nine pee-yem when I finally have the time to sit down and enjoy it. I can get away with the flared jeans I got on sale at the Gap last year because I live in Venice...and I don't care. No one is looking at my ankles anyway. Those jeans make my ass look fierce.

What these hard times tend to teach -- at least me, anyway -- is how sweet the "little" things are. The things that we can blow by or blow off when we are busy doing other things (like working). I think when we are in hard times we have two choices: 1) to fret (and sometimes that is required), or 2) appreciate what you do have. The second takes some time to master.

Being unemployed is sort of like hanging out with my family: Never more do I need a drink, yet I can't afford to have one. In the case of visiting my family, I have to stay completely sober in case I need to make a quick getaway. In the case of being sans job, I literally can't afford it. Every penny counts these days. Yet, what I do have an abundance of is time. And, I'm finally learning to -- dare I say -- enjoy that. I used to resent it. As you probably know, I don't like to wait. And that's all this really is...a long waiting period. Now, I appreciate the day. I balance the frustration of the situation with simple pleasures. I work out. I write. I cook. I don't have to rush through these things. I can savor them a bit. Not like in a vacation sort of way. The mail still comes each day, and reality is delivered in window envelopes. With all this time, I get to take a good look at what my life really is. And, outside of not getting a steady check, I really like it. As a matter of fact, I love it. Oh, it's not perfect. It's nowhere near what I thought it would be (yet). But, underneath the fear and the frustration brought on by circumstance, I am happy. Very. And peculiarly content, too. Must be a side-effect of the all-organic diet I'm on. I don't know. Talk to me next week when rent is due and we'll see how steady I hold. But, no matter how the situation might suck, much like hard candy, there's a sweetness there as well.

13 June 2009

I Am Not A Good Friend

I kind of feel that I need to set the record straight. I haven't been sharing what Joy has been going through, and my visits up there, to tout my good deeds. I actually don't see what I did as above or beyond the call of duty. I don't feel like I've done anything special. I did what any friends would do...if they could. And one of the reasons I could do it is because I don't have a pesky job getting in the way. The upside of unemployment. It was easy for me to go up there for a week to help out. As a matter of fact, I looked forward to it like a vacation.

Also, for the record, I was not the only one helping out. There are many others pitching in, and doing even more. Some of them even have jobs or families of their own to take care of. We're simply doing what friends do: Help out as much as we can when we can. Isn't that the basic definition of friendship?

And it's not like it's a chore to be with Joy and her family. They are great people. And it's not like they were asking me to milk cows or churn butter. I was doing what I would do at home anyway: cook and clean and run a few errands. Except at Joy's there's a washer and dryer *in* the house (I go to the laundromat), and they have a real, live dishwasher (while I have dishpan hands). So, in actuality, I get to have a bit of a vacation by indulging in those modern conveniences and fantasizing about the day I actually live like a grown up.

I also had the added bonuses of the world's more adorable alarm clock and a magical coffee maker. Pancakes and waffles were served on the weekends, and I got to hang out with people I truly adore in a lovely community. Yeah, hand me the martyr crown.

Joy looked at me with concern one day. "I don't know how I am ever going to repay you for this," she said. My eyebrows came together. "You bought my lunch today. I think that makes us even." She shook her head. "I'll come up with something." And then she did a bit of performance art that still brings a tear to my eye...because I laugh so hard thinking about it.

In full disclosure, Joy insists on paying me gas money. It's absolutely ridiculous, but I've learned not to argue. You really shouldn't argue with a friend going through chemo. It kind of makes you look like an asshole. So, I smile and take it, then use it to buy Guinness and wine for my next trip up there. It's my way of getting her back, though it's me and her husband who really get the benefit. I do make sure the wine is organic, in case she decides to have a glass (or two).

I have another friend going through a lawsuit. She lives out of state, so we will have lengthy chats via telephone. She, too, thanked me for being a good friend the other day, and it sort of pissed me off. "Do you not listen to my shit?" I asked her point blank. "Yeah," she answered, somewhat taken aback. "Well, it's give and take, dear. It's all just give and take." And then I said, "Look, it takes a good friend to let someone be a good friend. So, mirror, mirror, my friend."

I really want to be clear about this: I am not a good friend. I am just someone who has a lot of good people in her life. And I love them dearly. Anything I give, it's miniscule in comparison to what I get from them.

04 June 2009

Ask A Simple Question...Get A Stupid Answer

ME: So, where are you from?

HE: Well, I'm from a lot of places.

ME: [Silently, to self: No, that's impossible. You can only be from one location.] Okay, name a few.

HE: San Francisco, Colorado, Florida.

ME: [Silently to self: What, are you in Witness Protection?]

HE: But, I've been in L.A. for so long, it's like I'm from here.

ME: [Silently to self: Which is what every native of L.A. hates to hear and completely disagrees with.] Okay, but where were you born?

HE: Detroit, Michigan.

ME: [Silently to self: See, was that so effing hard to cough out?] I have family from Michigan. They do that weird thing where they grab your had to show you where we are and where we are going.

HE: [Smiles, nods. Probably what every native of Michigan hates to hear but has to acknowledge because they all do it.]

ME: So, where did you go to college?

HE: University of Michigan.

ME: Oh. [So, basically, you've spent most of your life in Michigan yet aren't really "from" there. Interesting take.]

HE: But I thought about going to school in Colorado or Boston.

ME: Because they have such better weather than Michigan?

HE: [Laughs]

ME: So, you're in real estate. Kind of a tough time.

HE: Yeah. Did you know the mortgage crisis is really Obama's fault?

ME: [*crickets*]

HE: No, really, it is.

ME: [Silently to self: REDACTED.] Wow, will you look at the time. Gotta go. Buh-bye.