Tuesday, March 30, 2010

If I Had a Hammer....

There are moments when it feels like this whole venture is doomed.

And I say this on a day when lots of good things have happend. One sister asked if she could drive my car and sell hers, my car that's just sitting in my parents' driveway collecting dust (they already have two cars). Fantastic idea. Rather she used it and saved money than me paying money to Volkswagen and it sitting unused. Check! I made plans with another sister to come visit her in June and take care of her kids while she takes off for a well deserved Paris vacation with her husband after a very hard Swedish winter. Check! Check! And I finally got live, actual working Internet in my house after a month of retarded, ridiculous, almost comical calls to British Telecom, my internet provider. Check! Check! Check!

And then....I got a $775 ticket from the city of LA for a running a red light in West Hollywood after the chaos of an ambulance running through the intersection. The ticket was $445 in November, but never actually received the citation. I remember running the light and seeing the flash so actually thought I'd get a smacked and made a verbal note of it on my phone....but never got a ticket so thought I got off. Until yesterday when a collections notice arrives at my dad's, forwarded from LA, and now with fees totaling a whopping $775. And to petition the fees I'd have to be there in person or hire a lawyer to represent me. Both of which will cost more than the $300 difference between the actual ticket and the current charge. Sneaky LA.

There are moments when I just feel like I'm constantly being beaten down. I'm not someone who goes into a decision like this lightly...or, I should say more accurately, after making the wild and crazy decision does not plan appropriately. Research was done, history checked, questions asked. And yet this whole move I feel like every time something should be settled I end up being smacked in the head with a sledgehammer. From the cottage-that-under-all-circumstances-should-have-been-beautiful-but-ended-up-being-derelict to the complications of getting a bank account with an actual working debit card, I feel like everything else has gone ass backwards.

The only miraculous thing is that I ended up in Nunney with a bunch of lovely people, amazingly kindred spirits. And I mean that sincerely, honestly and am at times surprised at my luck and good fortune at landing here.

Other than that there feels like a cloud of doom over the whole endeavor.

I pay my taxes. I pay my parking tickets. And I damn sure would have paid a red light ticket, even if it was an exorbitant $445.

But the worst part is that money was for Otis. $1000 was budgeted to be set aside next paycheck, two weeks from Friday, for the pets. It was about a third of what I needed, worst case scenario, to bring Freebie and Otis here to England. And now $745 of it is going to go the Beverly Hills traffic court, leaving $345 for Otis. I will still be able to put the money away before I need to fly him here, but the stress and worry associated with the paperwork and the travel for them is so overwhelming at times that just knowing that the money would be put aside would have been a huge relief....hope the Beverly Hills traffic court appreciates it as much as I would have. He's having a fantastic time with my parents, going to Costco, garage sales and birthday parties and helping my dad in the wood shop so at least it won't bother him too much.

But for me, crappy days like today, where a bunch of good things happen but they get overwritten by the one overwhelmingly, majorly shitty thing that smacks you in the head out of the blue....those are exactly the days that you want your dog with you.

And he's now $745 dollars farther away than he was yesterday.

And that's heartbreaking.

Monday, March 29, 2010

To Script or Not To Script....

So this weekend I have been invited to go up to Derbyshire, about 100 miles from Nunney and, apparently, quite remote and cold, to visit the set of Jane Eyre. A script supervisor who I've never met in person but have known for a few years from an script supervisor's Yahoo! group, is welcoming me onto their set for the day. She's never met me, but knowing I've worked on network television is taking a leap of faith that A) I'm not a complete nutcase and B) that I know how to behave on a professional film set. The B in this equation being I think the more important question than the A.

So Jane Eyre. One of my favorite books of all time. The wilds of England. Beautiful. Men in frock coats. Do I need to say more?

But what I think is interesting is that in my head, as burnt out and tired of the entertainment industry as I am, the idea of being on this film set is exciting. True, the best part is that I'll be like the producers, sitting in the background, getting to read my magazine and enjoy the takes instead of trying to figure out which hand Rochester used to pick up the candlestick.

But this is good writing. Well, starting with a classically well written book anyway as I haven't read their script. But my last year in the industry I was reading the trite, often silly dialogue of 90210 while working at a network television ridiculous pace with no prep time and a lot of behind-the-scenes production drama.

So it makes me wonder...am I sick of the industry, sick of network television, sick of production bullshit or really just sick of silly, badly written teenage dramas?

There was a huge part of leaving the industry that was about not having a life. But that's part of network television. On a film set, you shoot for two months and then can be off until you take the next job. In LA, I hadn't done a feature film for now almost three years, the last being Stiletto that I did with Stana Katic a year before she took off in Castle (yay Stana!). But I love the puzzle building of a feature film. In TV, the pace is constantly relentless, the puzzle changes regularly and you don't get time to accurately prep and everything feels, well, almost slapdash. A film set is just that tiny bit more civilized.

We'll have to see what happens when I get up there. There is a magic of a film set that's like no other. And I probably could work here if I wanted to as a script supervisor (after joining the union and all that). I expect I'll have a lovely time and enjoy being there. But the curiousity, at least on my part, is if I will feel that spark again, that joy and excitement of building something as a team. And that I think is what has been lacking in TV. The bond with the director (in TV they change every episode) and the additional burdens of dealing with writers and producers and egos that suddenly become the script supervisor's responsibility. I haven't been on a set since November (a Sarah Silverman commercial for Comedy Central) and haven't been on a narrative project (TV or film) since 90210 last March. But I'm intrigued. So while I feel that I'm done with the industry...maybe I'm not quite as burned out as I thought.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And a couch makes all the difference...

I got my couch on Tuesday. Sounds like nothing special but when you've had nowhere to sit in the house other than the kitchen table, suddenly a home starts to take shape. It's a lovely, green velvety type couch, 1940's, extremely comfortable but it's more about it just being a piece of furniture. Suddenly, because it feels like a living room, I want to actually use it as a living room. I cleared away clutter, put things into a cabinet, took the books out, put the suitcase upstairs.

Today I even was motivated to put my clothes into the closet. Now that's progress.

I've been focused very much on working and getting to know people the last 2 weeks - yes, yesterday was my two week anniversary in Nunney! - and so in many ways the house organization has been low on the totem pole of priorities. But at the same time the fact that things were not organized has been difficult and draining...I definitely have had "what the hell have I done" thoughts over the last month and a half at the same time that I'm embracing and exploring my new neighborhood. Thoughts of running back to Seattle or Maine or North Carolina where people drive on the correct side of the road and things are familiar definitely has its appeal at the weak moments. And where it won't cost over $2500 plus headaches of paperwork and additional administrative fees just to have Otis and Freebie with me. But then I look out and see the castle again or drink at the pub with new friends or just think of all there is still to explore and things come back into focus. Where I've landed is indeed about as perfect a location as it can be to see if this is where I'm supposed to be. Having a car will make things easier in the exploring sense....opening up more social opportunities than just Nunney, but at the same time it's still foreign. But I've been here 1.5 months, 2 weeks in this house, so really even if this was Maine I think I'd be feeling just about as fish out of water as I sometimes do here.

It's been different than I expected. Harder but not in a way I think can be described. I don't feel lonely exactly. Nor do I really feel alone. I lived alone in LA. I spent nights without going out or meeting people in LA. But I think it's the knowledge that I had a wide breadth of friends, in LA or in New York or in Seattle, to call upon for entertainment, and that there was a wide variety of entertainment available should I have wanted it, that makes now not having that deep support system difficult. I'm meeting friends here, many people in the village who I luckily like a great deal, and love so much of being in a village....when in LA would I have hung out with an octogenarian who used to be a casting director for the National Theatre and gave Colin Firth his big break? Those are the moments that seem straight out of The Holiday...but moments that in LA would never have occurred because your social circle in a way was just too vast. Here everyone interacts, rich, poor, young, old, and that's fascinating and interesting and different. And fantastic.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The First Night in an Old House

Hey all! This was written on Friday but now that I've figured out how to get internet inside the house wanted to post this up. Took pictures today and when I have a second I'll upload them to Flickr so you can see not only the town but Lillybatch and all the rest.

BTW....I found out that this house was built in 1750 and the original tenants for some time were a family of bakers. There's a weird alcove in one of the walls and it turns out it used to be a baker's oven. Nice.


There's nothing quite as strange as spending the night in a new house. It's almost as if you and the house are in a sort of dance trying to figure out who is the leader, who dances the tango better or, in my case, who has the dodgy back. The creaks aren't familiar. The smell of the house is like meeting a perfumed stranger on the train. Their perfume is exotic and lovely but overwhelming in its lack of familiarity.

I pulled out my favorite stuffed dog tonight. The one I got under the Christmas tree when I was four and who has, since then, made the trips to college, New York, Los Angeles and, now, England. I realized that tonight is the first night in years that I haven't spend the night with another living being in my house. True, I have neighbors across the way (about 25 feet) and next door, but in the house technically I am alone. And that is a very bizarre feeling. Unsettling even. So while this stuffed dog is no Otis, he will, for the time being, do the trick. It's about comfort, familiarity at its most basic level.

Finally today the adventure I started on begins. In some ways the excitement of the move has been tempered with the reality now of 30 days in England - I moved in today, March 5th, exactly 4 weeks to the day that I arrived. And during that time I've gotten a different view of England than I expected. Moldy, dirty cottages that should be sparking and brilliant, hours spent looking for the perfect house to find most of them are not well kept and that heating in general, not just central heating, is in many ways a luxury here. But at the same time I've learned to love sunny days again, because after a couple days of enjoying the rain the sun peeking through is a present instead of monotony.

I've also learned that sheep are fascinating creatures. From my room at my aunt and uncle's house you could see the pasture and I found myself watching them for ages. There's something incredibly intriguing about them. Cows are fine, birds have their charm but there's something about sheep that's mesmerizing. Unexpected and fascinating.

I haven't been writing because there hasn't been much to write about. The thrilling excitement of dealing with the complications of setting up an international bank account or spending hours on the Internet looking at various decrepit cottages really didn't seem to inspire much imparted introspection. But now, in a cottage overlooking a river, in a village full of it seems extremely friendly locals, with a ruin of a castle with a moat in the center, with my trusty stuffed dog at my side and much to look forward to, now, again, it seems I am motivated to write. And, I hope, there will be much to write about.