Travels

Vancouver

January 31, 2006
Vancouver Refelction

The sun has just set in Vancouver, I think; the rain has been hiding it all day. I went out only for a little to walk the streets to my favourite restaurant for brunch where I lingered for hours (I always do, here, far too cosy to leave especially if you ask for the table by the fire) followed later by coffee where I flipped through some glossy magazines for as long as I could. This trip has been particularly busy, so much so that I extended it by two days just so I could have some time off. I’ve come to realise over the past few months I’ve been terrible about doing nothing at all. Each moment has been filled.

Since September I’ve been working like a mad woman on so many different projects (movie production, a seasonal gig, getting ready for my gallery showings, travel writing, etc) that I literally have not stopped to rest or catch up with my life. So many things became indulgences that I just couldn’t do; reading, tea drinking, visiting, playing, napping. And living in Santa Monica where the sunshine is always out, people are always busy and plans are always being made, it’s been hard to slow down. The fact that my flat feels so exposed with windows of sunlight that pour in, light furniture and walls doesn’t seem to help matters either.

Currently I’m on the top floor (31st) at the Westin Grand Vancouver in a suite that’s made up like a little warm, cosy little European flat with mustard-yellow silk drapes that cover floor to ceiling windows on two sides. Light wooden furniture, used simply, are shown off by a gorgeous dark green rug and a mahogany table and brown couch. The bed in white with far too many fluffy pillows and duvet top have given me the most amazing sleeps I’ve had in a long time. The rain and wind have been beating against my window for the last four days now – something I haven’t experienced for so long – and that’s been begging me to just relax. To not write, to not catch up, to not set up more appointments, to do not one thing at all. And with the amazing stereo playing my CD and tea brewing in the little kitchen, I don’t really have a good excuse to not chill out. It’s the perfect setting.

The trick is to just go with it.

Los Angeles

Dependent LA Life

January 22, 2006

One of the best blogs I’ve read in a really, really long time. Her take on L.A. is especially comforting:

You don’t so much live in Los Angeles as cohabitate. And you fight sometimes, and then you make up, and sometimes you really REALLY want to leave each other. Or cheat on each other. Then you cry in your vodka martini and say, Baby, I’ll never leave you. It’s very co-dependant.

Los Angeles

Hollywood Life

January 16, 2006

I’ve worked on Hollywood movie sets for over ten years and the last year, since living in the Los Angeles area, been more heavily involved. I started with the top people, met more along the way, work with a-listers, chat them up at the local cafe, wave hi to them in Brentwood and generally have seen pretty much everyone. The only time I’ve ever been tongue tied was meeting the Gilmore Girls Grandpa but I think it had very little to do with actually Hollywood and celebrity. I kid you not, with everyone else it’s literally been just everyone else.

I remember when the television show The Insider was first going live and I was brought down by their media department to interview. Seems my ability to write, work with people and who I knew was reason I was sought out. And whilst there on set, I remember an actor coming over to me and just demanding a crap load of stuff. I looked at him and said, “Are you kidding me with this?” And he replied, “Don’t you know who I am?” To which I responded, “No, actually, I don’t” and walked off. I ended up turning down the job because I didn’t understand the fascination with celebrities and I didn’t want to perpetuate it.

I’m all for giving respect but not giving out adoration or jumping just because someone’s been on some series. I do not read gossip mags, watch television shows about celebrities and I’m not on the up and up of who’s dating who. I love, adore, swoon over being on a film set. I adore great, wonderful movies and working with a cast and crew. But I am so unbelievably over and annoyed with the whole Hollywood Obsession.

This comes about because today I was driving through the back streets of Beverly Hills to get home and the streets were cornered off and police were everywhere. I was told I could get out through a barricade just down the road and while I was stopped, I saw what all the fuss was for.

There was a pre-Golden Globe even at the Beverly HIlton and in another back street beside me was all the limo’s coming to pull into the hotel. Limos and town cars with black rolled up windows and on the other side was a horde of people. Screaming. Waving. Crying. Pleading. Not for a specific car, but for any car that looked like someone. They just wanted to be seen by someone, recognised by someone, be acknowledged by someone. And not someone who seriously means anything, but by someone who lives in a make believe world that they fantatsise about joining.

And that scene made my heart break. Literally.

Months ago there was a woman visiting my neighbour. She sat outside to talk on her cell phone to her friends back home. “Guess what!” she cried with so much excitement, “You’ll never believe who we saw today! URKEL!”. I didn’t know who Urkel was but when I found out, I found it sad that that character and the person who played him, made this poor woman feel special. It made her whole trip out to Los Angeles worth it.

A few years ago, when I was receiving between 500-800 emails a day I did my best to reply to as many as possible. And 90% of the time when I’d reply, I’d get weird fan mails back saying, “I never thought you’d reply!” People had me on some kind of pedestal and some how received validation from me writing them back. It bothered me greatly to have fans or “minions” (the die hard people who live vicariously through my site, follow my every word and want to be me in ways that are flattering but scary. And they do this to a lot of people). I don’t want anyone to measure their life against mine. I don’t want anyone to think I can make things better by saying hi or that they are “cool kids” because they know me. That’s just absolutely retarded.

I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut about who I’m friends with and who I work with outside of the industry (inside the industry it totally works by who you know). If I say I am working on a movie set people always want to know who it’s with. When I worked in a corporate office no one ever asked me who my boss was or who sat next to me. Why does some celebrity make it cooler? Why does it make me special?

There’s a fascination with Hollywood that I just can’t accept – I understand it but I just can’t accept it. People reading Star Magazine and gossiping about people they don’t know – not taking two seconds to think about how they’d feel to have their life under a microscope or having to answer how they feel about politics when they know shit. I don’t understand looking up to Hollywood People. Trust me people, they don’t have the answers. They have scripts. And managers. And stylists.

Within Hollywood, I accept how it works. I accept the layers and the protocols and I go along with it because I really love the movie making process. I’m not out to change that, it’s an institution good and back, but I’d love more than anything to change people obsess and celebrate Celebrities. I’d rather people’s sense of worth come from within themselves and things they do – rather than against some imaginary or vicarious life of someone else.

Favourite Entries

The Dress Twirls

December 10, 2005

For the past couple of years I have taken a seasonal gig at my favourite store; not only to indulge in their very generous discount but because I adore talking with the ladies, dressing them up and just having fun for a few hours a week.

One night, an older woman came in who was a little bit cranky and tired. She came out of her dressing room in one of our dresses to see how it looked in the three way. The dress was so pretty but the womans expression was not – she didn’t understand the power of the dress because she was too worried about other things. Things one shouldn’t worry about when wearing a pretty dress because a pretty dress is permission to just relax and laugh, not having to be a business woman, a mother, a house cleaner, a teacher, or anything else. It’s time to just remember to be a girl.

When I walked over to her she said as she looked at her self in that critical way, “I’m not so sure…”

I leaned into her and whispered, “you know, the dress, it twirls.”

“Excuse me?” she said.

“It twirls. When you go back in the changeroom, just spin yourself round really quick. You’ll understand.”

She just looked at me and walked back into the changeroom and before shutting the door gave me a look as though I was crazy. But just a few seconds later I heard a giggle come from her room. Then another.

She bought the dress.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

November 17, 2005

Driving down Wilshire, horns honking continuously from Mercedes cars with cell phone drivers. Negotiating six lanes of traffic like you’re sipping coffee. Getting your hair done with Charlize, your hair dresser is your friend and your facialist is on speed dial. Lunching with Jennifer, giving Tori Amos advice at the grocer, getting advice from Ellen on not waiting for anything, running into Orlando so much he starts to say hi. Stepping out of the building on Rodeo late at night to jam packed streets and 70F weather while wondering what you bought that sweater for. Flip flops on the beach, expensive health drinks from Fred Segal and always carrying bottled water that costs $2.

Feeling comfortable because wearing skirts all the time doesn’t make you stand out but realising you kind of do because you don’t have “the look.” Having credentials not matter so much as who you know and being thankful you know a lot of people but also bothered that you do. Knowing that you can plan for that party outside in a month because the sun will shine and when it does nothing beats driving up the coast no matter how many times you’ve done it before. 3AM becomes the favourite time because the homeless don’t go through your trash and the streets are finally quiet though early mornings seem strange because the lean, tan and beautiful are all running like it doesn’t hurt.

Being on set just to sing a song and being treated like a rock star – only to feel bad about it all when they bring you something you could have gotten yourself. Eating dinner in Melrose with the star of Melrose Place and recognising Mr. Sheffield even though you’ve never seen the Nanny. Private screenings, the need for several party dresses, and learning how to small talk with just about everyone only to feel like you need a shower when you get home.

Spending far too much on a tiny flat like everyone else and not being able to afford much for it inside like everyone else. A new kind of poor is happening in one of the poshest neighbourhoods. Seeing how $600,000 buys just an ok one bedroom flat and that $7,000 can buy a purse.

Everyone assuming you belong because you just happen to be at the party or can hold your own with the waiter or the millionaire but knowing that even though sometimes it’s fun, this isn’t home. For every day is the same, the people fast talk, connections are lost, everyone’s nice to everyone but no one trusts a soul. And the scariest thing seems to be starting to accept the surrealness of it all and not blinking twice that Kinkos has valet.

Travels

November 7, 2005

Currently I’m holding down several jobs; there’s on-set movie production, a real estate venture, a gallery showing of my work to prepare for and a two-day a week seasonal gig at my favourite store so that I can buy some pretties at 40% off. Each day I’m in several locations with no days off and it should stay this way until the new year. One very tired girl does this situation make.

So yesterday when I surprisingly found myself with some time, I took a 90minute drive east to a very small apple town of Oak Glen.

99% of the orchards on the four mile strip of road had unfortunately become rather commercial – selling goods and wares without letting you actually be in an orchard. The crowds were too much (I escaped the city to escape them) but luckily near the end of the road I came across the charming, simple, and pretty Willowbrook Orchard – a family run affair complete with dog named Fox.

Picking my own apples, making my own cider, eating a caramel apple in the cool fall sun was a welcome change of pace. Driving around the winding roads, looking at the mountains and valleys, clicking the camera like a mad woman, well, it was good. I relaxed, I smiled, I felt 8. When the sun began to set I knew it was time to make my way back and with apples in hand I headed home.

The drive seemed so long, due in part to traffic, the darkness and gearing myself up to return to a busy, busy week (all the jobs, a friend coming to town, some events and deadlines) that would begin when I woke up.

None of it is easy and none of it is given – it’s all choice. From the jobs I work to how I spend a day off. There’s no magic, no set of circumstances that made it all happen – just effort and a choosing state of mind. It’s why I can work 80-90hour weeks and take one day off to really enjoy and be present in so that it can last me until the next and why it sometimes seems as though I really do nothing but photograph apples.

Everyday Words

November 3, 2005

I don’t read fiction almost ever – it’s not something I enjoy really. Give me an autobiography written by the person, a journal, a behind the scenes but don’t make me read their work or watch the show. Even with movies I adore all the background bits – I didn’t like the 3rd Lord of the Rings but purchased the DVD’s just for all the notes and commentaries.

I’ve been asked why I like knowing all that goes into making something – doesn’t that spoil the magic they ask? No, I always answer, the truth, the struggle, the doing, the creativity – that’s the magic right there. The outcome is just result.

Links & Loves

November 2, 2005

My friend, Martine has released yet another fabulous album that I’ve been grooving to over the last few months. One song, Rather Be has become my favourite because of it’s simplicity, truth, and catchy little tune. In a world of hype and mixes, this is a welcome, welcome change.

(Though, really, I’m also boogeying my ass of to the Black Eyed Peas latest. How can one not love lovely lady lumps?)

Home Life, Quotes

Letting Go

November 1, 2005
We shall all be very much happier when we learn to transform the things we have into a semblance of our ideal. How, then, may we go about accomplishing our ideal?

By letting it go!

By forgetting this vaguely pleasing dream, this evidence of our smug vanity, and making ourselves ready for a new ideal.

By considering the body of material from which it is good sense to choose when we have a house to decorate.

By taking upon ourselves the duty of self-taught lessons of sincerity, and common sense, and suitability.

By learning what is meant by colour and form and line, harmony and contract proportion.

When we are on familiar terms with our tools, and feel our vague ideas clearing into definite inspiration, then we are ready to talk about our ideals.

Excerpted from The House In Good Taste by Elsie de Wolfe, published 1913.