SEVENTY-SEVEN

Eric had a nightmare in which he was standing in a yard with a fence all around, barbecuing steaks and sausages. His neighbors wandered over to enjoy some, and people from work also stopped by. At night he drank tea and watched murder mysteries with his wife while their kids slept, and at the office they celebrated two birthdays on Monday.

Eric then woke up to his basement apartment, and left to cash his final unemployment check.

 

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Also.

“I’m a director…but also an IT consultant.”

“I’m an actress…but also a substitute teacher.”

“I’m a photographer…but also an office manager.”

Welcome to LA, where you are what you want to be, but also what you need to be.

“I’m a barista…but also a musician.”

Or, where you are what you need to be, but also what you want to be.

This evening I met with a friend over dinner in Larchmont Village. He’s a fellow creative sort, a storyteller, who has lived in this town for just about as long as I have. He and I discussed the people of Los Angeles in general, both of us being transplants from the northeast US. We seem to agree, and I know I have other friends who think similarly, that there is something in the air in and around LA besides the smog.

He calls it desperation, I call it frustration.

Either way, there’s something to LA that, after years living here, starts to wear on you. You feel at once helpless and optimistic, you experience failure and sudden acceptance, and while you wait for the “big moment” of recognition, hours of professional acknowledgement and gratitude pass you by. If there’s one constant to remember while working in this business it’s that flattery will take you anywhere you want to go.

That’s not a knock on flattery. Buying someone a gift, supplying someone’s production needs at personal cost or risk, these are things you do out of gaining favor, sure, but also out of kindness. Remember what Conan O’Brien said at the end of his run on the Tonight Show? “Be kind.”

Every boss I’ve had who as thanked me, expressed gratitude, and taken the time to point out our mutual benefit of working together, I’ve worked for more than once.

Every boss who doesn’t acknowledge the good, only points out the mistakes, I have not seen since the job was completed, and do not recommend anyone to work for them no matter who needs the work.

Be Kind. If someone sees it as “fake” kindness, that’s their own jaded sensibility, their own cynicism. It’s too easy to look at an act of kindness with a critical eye. But try not to, at least a little, and instead try to feel grateful. Try to thank people, try to offer up a kindness in return. This town is a mess of disappointment, let-downs, mistakes, failures, and general “never was” sorts of people. The best thing we can do is share in those failures and be there for each other.

Offer a note, meet someone for coffee, exchange emails about a movie you both hate or enjoy, and add in a funny cat or dog photo. Funny messages can change an attitude from cold and bitter to warm and joyful more often than you know.

Gosh, I sound a little too preachy, so it’s probably time for me to hit the grind again and write out something a little more creative, but I know that tomorrow is another day at the office.

It’s my job. I am a production coordinator.

But also a writer.

I am an “also”, and that’s that.

What are you?

Selfish Musings 1: Ends

I’m going to make this a selfish post to reflect, in the hopes that I can pull away some positive vibes and spread them to you as well.

First let’s talk about endings. Then we’ll move to transitions, and finally beginnings.

Part 1: ENDS

Job, relationship, and life. Those are three major elements which have ended fairly recently for me or for people around me.

Jobs come and go in the entertainment industry, so there wasn’t much surprise when one ends and another begins, and the cycle occurred again. I’m currently on a job in NYC, trying to soak in as much of the city as I can while working with some great new people in a cold new place.

The relationship is another matter entirely.

I don’t want to enter details of the relationship aspect, mainly because it’s nobody’s business but for she and I. She will be alright, and I will be, too.

One could not see the end of the relationship as it approached, nor could one assume exactly how it would “go down”. These things happen throughout life, no matter how dedicated you think you might be to another person, there are going to be aspects that grow and change your feelings, or emotions that ebb and flow until the tides dry up. It’s just the way it happens from time to time, and this was one of those times. The only thing I know I need to do better in the future is communicate, communicate, communicate.

So there was sadness. So there shall be happiness again.

So it goes.

And then there was the end of a life, or a few lives, for people I know. One friend had a grandparent pass away, and one very good friend saw his father pass away quite unexpectedly.

This friend is a good man, one of the better men I’ve ever met, and I don’t think I felt anything but sadness when I heard the news. I’d met the father once, and it was enough to see the effect the man had had on not only his family’s life, but the lives of hundreds of people over thousands of miles. His passing was sudden and quick, and effected many people.

I attended the funeral, which was a two-hour ride outside of Los Angeles proper. The day was warm under a bright sun and blue sky, and the grass couldn’t be more green. The roads were lined with cars, friends and families parked to observe this moment, this celebration of a life no longer with us, yet still among us. The occasion, while sad, was nevertheless filled with smiles and bitter happiness.

I shook hands with my friend, and reassured him he would be ready for whatever might come next, and I hope to be able to be there for him as needed.

When someone you know and admire and respect is saddened, feeling terrible and alone, the only thing you can do is offer help, a hand, a smile. This is all I could do in that moment, but in moments since that day I’ve thought of that same sentiment for other friends, friends not effected by death but by other sadness, losses, or the realization of mistakes. Regret. I have a couple of friends who made mistakes. They asked advice, I gave them my two cents and then later…they did exactly the opposite.

I don’t fault them. They make the choices, not me. I’m often making silly decisions of my own and not fully realizing that, hey, my friends were right giving their advice. But we talk it through, because that’s what friends do. And when my buddies made their mistake, and regretted decisions, and came to me for help in the aftermath, I stood up and was there. Because their friendship is more important to me then whether or not they heeded my advice.

I will be there, again and again, until we get it right. And I hope they will be, too.

The afternoon of the funeral, I thought of sad things, reflected on meaning and purpose, as I suppose we all do when faced with death. What is it all for? Can I live up to the life that this great man apparently lived? I thought of my own grandfather’s funeral and the amount of people who had come to see him off to the next world, the amount of people who could recall a story each their own which only further showed the breadth of his reach, his smiles and jokes, the laughter he caused in hundreds if not thousands of people. They celebrated the good times only.

I thought of my own father, and mother, and how I simply cannot imagine a life without them, their support, their honesty, and their willingness to give me advice and then be there to support me if my decisions still lead to sadness.

I hope to live up to the kind of life that brings joy and laughter to a great many people but also to appreciate what I have in front of me while not discarding all possibilities. I don’t mean that I want to tell jokes and be a clown. That’s a different kind of joy and laughter, best left to Jim Carrey, or Louis C.K., or Johnny Carson. I mean the kind of joy where you can lead someone to feel good about themselves whenever you’re around.

Because that’s just about all we need right now, is a little more joy.

And curiosity…there’s that, too (more about that in part 2: Transitions).