Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hello, Hollyweird!

The taxi nosed its way up into the hills, finally stopping at a gated estate, one of the rare survivors of 1970's suburban renewal. The place is grand on any scale, and dates from the early 1920's. Imagine Greystone Mansion, only someone actually lives there.

Raj, the taxi driver, and I were old friends by the time he found the place. We rolled up to the gate but there was no call box in sight. No guardhouse, no visible cameras, nothing to allow us to announce our arrival. We waited a few minutes, listening to Bradley Nowell warble about not practicing Santaria, and speculated about the likelihood of an el Nino saving our parched asses this year.

"Well, Raj, are you going to scale the fence, or shall I?" Ever the sarcastic wit, I was just about to suggest he turn around when the gate slid open. Ok, I guess we're going in.

The drive was typically winding, typically long, and typically beautiful.  The house was - is - a monstrosity.  Built by someone with more money than taste, it's an amalgam of every popular style of the time, from Queen Anne, to Carpenter Gothic, with some California Mission and Frank Lloyd Wrong thrown in for good measure.

I rummaged in my handbag, looking for enough money to pay him, but Raj said it was taken care of and his instructions were to wait and return me to my home when the interview was concluded.  Good thing. I was afraid I'd have to offer to do something like scrub his tires with my toothbrush, in my undies, to work off the fare.

I squared my shoulders and began the long march up a wide staircase leading to the huge, hideously carved doors, when said doors suddenly burst open and the odd little woman flew out. I barely recognized her. Everything was different - hair, makeup, clothing, even the era. She looked, for all the world, like Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's".  Her costume was a replica of the pullover, capris, and ballet flats Audrey wore when she and  George Peppard had their last supper together. Right down to the poofy-hair-and-pigtails 'do. It was beginning to freak me out.

Luci is a hard person to remain standoffish around. She rushed down the steps like  cantering thistledown (I know thistledown doesn't canter, but you get the idea), and gathered me into her arms like a long-lost relative.

I need to try to explain her hug. A sensation of peace washed through me during that brief embrace. It was like valium, only I could probably still drive. I found myself following her into the house, like a lamb, as she chattered about something, although I can't remember what. When I came fully back to myself we were sitting in a cavernous room, teacups balanced on our knees.

"So," she asked, bright eyed, as if I hadn't spent the last ten minutes in an euphoric stupor, "would you like to see your office?"

Would I ever!

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Magic Taxi

After walking home, I took a cold shower, ate a Lean Cuisine, and took myself firmly in hand. As intriguing as it was, I really couldn't see myself following another cockeyed lead to Dissapointmentsville again. What was her scam, anyhow? MLM, probably. It's astounding how sophisticated your average Amway rep has become.

I resolutely thrust the whole thing to the back of my mind and went to bed early. My sleep was fitful and bothered with odd dreams, none of which I could clearly remember but all of which seemed especially urgent somehow. When I finally awoke it was 9:30 in the morning. The sun was ridiculously cheerful and, suddenly, I knew I had to make that meeting.

After a quick mascara-blush-and-lipgloss routine,  I ran a brush through my hair, shimmied into my trusty LBD, shoved my feet into my Manolos, and was ready to roll. As I was Mapquesting the address there was a rap on the door. Looking cautiously outside I saw a taxi. The driver was on the stoop.

"Can I help you?", I asked through Mark's cool video-intercom thingy.

"If you're Alexis Wiseman, then, yeah, I'm here to take you to your appointment with a Miss...", he squinted down at a slip of paper.

"Hold on," The driver fished around in his pockets and finally withdrew a pair of reading glasses, which he made a slow show of putting on his nose.

"...Angelino." He looked expectantly at the camera mounted above the door.

Oh well, what the hell, sometimes you just have to go with it.

"I'm coming," I replied, and scooped up my purse. Moments later I was bravely sailing out into that sunny morning, about to trust my life to an LA cabbie, and seriously curious about the rest of my day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sorry About the Long Hiatus...Now, Where Was I...?

So, anyhow, I walked to Starbucks, laptop in hand, ready to resume blogging. I'd lost interest for awhile, what with the daily grind of life and then the feverish craft explosion. I thought it would be good therapy to start writing again. The ebook sales, although relatively small, had inspired me and I had some new ideas percolating.  Funny, you'd think that with all the noise and distraction in your average coffeehouse or yogurt shop, I'd prefer to write at home, where it's quiet. Oddly, I seem to concentrate best sitting at a bistro table amid chattering masses of humanity.

I grabbed a skinny vanilla latte, triple shot, and settled into a table wedged into a corner. That's another of my idiosyncrasies. I get nervous sitting in the middle of a room. Why? I haven't a clue.

Anyway, I had finished about half my coffee and was really getting in to the zone when I noticed that someone was standing close to my table, literally at my right elbow. I glanced to the side and saw brown tweed and a couple of leather buttons staring back. Resolutely ignoring the space-encroaching person,  I returned my attention back to the screen.

"Why aren't you at Pinkberry today?" The question wafted down from above.

I looked up at the most astonishing woman. Like I said, she was dressed in tweed. A tweed suit to be exact, in the style of the late 1930s, complete with a fox fur collar. I wondered how many times a day she had to lie and say "Genuine fur? Of course not! This is simply a high quality faux!"

"Excuse me?" By this time I'd lost the thread of our conversation.

"Pinkberry. The one in Santa Monica? It's where I normally see you, or did anyhow." She twirled an empty chair around and dropped into it, graceful as a feather, then leaned toward me, chin in hand.

"So, what's up with that?" She delivered that sentence in a sing-song, almost as if she were using the phrase for the first time.

I was speechless. Absolutely nonplussed. As I sat staring at this strange little woman in her veiled hat and matching gloves, I couldn't think of a thing to say. She didn't seem to notice my confusion while she fished in her alligator handbag for a moment, finally holding up a business card. It was actually a calling card, the old fashioned kind that simply has the caller's name printed on it. Whipping out a Flair pen she scribbled her phone number on the back.

"Call me." she said, "The job starts immediately."

Okay, now I got it. She was recruiting for something sketchy like pyramid-scheme fruit drink sales or soft-core porn. Been there, regretted that. I left the card lying on the table between us and said something like, yeah, sure, maybe I'll do that, you-have-a-nice-day, and turned back to my laptop, hoping she'd get the hint.

"Alexis, honestly, this is what you've been waiting for." She leaned closer and touched my hand. I recoiled as if she'd prodded it with the tip of a burning cigarette.

"How do you know my name?" I asked with all the badass indignation I could muster. This thing was definately taking a turn toward Creepytown.

Silently she pointed to the dymotape lable I had affixed to the laptop case with the silly hope that if I ever lost the damn thing someone would be kind enough to call my cell and reunite us.

She uncapped her pen and wrote an address under the phone number.

"Don't bother to call. Just show up at 11am tomorrow." Then she rose from her seat and did the oddest thing. She winked at me before turning to go. Winked at me!  I couldn't decide if she were hitting on me, making fun of me, or trying to draw me into a conspiracy. Before I could figure it out, she was gone, leaving nothing behind  but a calling card and the lingering scent of "My Sin" perfume.

Life had definately taken a turn, but if it was toward Creepytown or not still remained to be seen.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Tower of Pallets and Our Vanishing Sense of Humor

I slept well the night of my pitiful little shopping spree, better than I had in weeks. Next morning I pulled on my pink tracksuit, ran my hair through the flat iron, and set out for the neighborhood Starbucks. It's a little over a mile from Mark's apartment which, I probably forgot to tell you before, is in the valley. Sherman Oaks is a nice place, and all that, but it's not L.A.

Mark's condo is located on the site of a former historic landmark. Back in the early fifties, this crazy old coot named Daniel Van Meter came across a bunch of wooden pallets which had been discarded by the Schlitz brewing company. He drug them home and stacked them into a huge beehive-shaped tower twenty-two feet across and twenty feet high. The city more or less left him alone until 1977 when they told him that he had to tear the unpermitted structure down.

Well, Van Meter was having none of that so he marches down to the Cultural Heritage Commission and convinces those guys to designate it as a Historic Cultural Monument.   When asked why the commission agreed to Van Meter's request, the then-commisioner replied, "I don't know. Maybe we were drunk. It was the funniest thing we ever did."

In 2006, Van Meter's estate sold the property, bulldozed the mouldering old pile of termite infested lumber, and built the apartments.

Somehow, I think the days of designating a pile of kindling as a landmark site just for the fun of it are long gone. R.I.P. Daniel Van Meter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Craft Photos!

Mark, god bless his little heart, found some pics of our craft projects from the Ventura Swap Meet. He sent me this, of headbands, and promised more to come. Too busy right now for a full-on post. Back soon with the next installment of mi vida loca...

Monday, May 19, 2014

My New Avocation

Before I bring you up to date on the new vocation, I wanted to insert this little tidbit: I'm a writer!  Yes, as in author!  Never in a million years would I have thought I'd someday be writing fiction, or anything else for that matter. True, I don't have an agent and I have a growing stack of rejection emails from 'real' publishers, but I also have a total of $67 in royalties sitting in my paypal account, courtesy of Kindle.

My first few stories were sort of a compilation of this blog, heavily embroidered. Then, out of nowhere, this new, completely foreign and unrelated story lands in my head. At first I just ignored it because, well...because it's smutty.  Not sex-with-animals-and-dead-people smutty - that would have sent me to a shrink post haste - no, just erotic stuff between sailors, boarding school classmates and two fifteen-year-old boys (except for that one is actually a girl), set in the late 1800s.

I know, it sounds awful and gratuitious but, honestly, the thing presented itself to me completely formed. All I was required to do was type it up. It nagged at me until I finally sat down and transferred it to my laptop.

I wonder if that's normal, for a book to write itself in your mind but without any awareness of it happening until it's essentially formed? I didn't just sit down one morning and decide to write about boarding school sexual abuse, runaway teen brides, and homosexual sailors. Now I've got this unpublishable book on my hands that can't find a home because of the 'underage' sex.  In 1876, fifteen-year-olds were marrying, raising families, working, running countries, and everything else a mature human does.  Now, thanks to the seizures the publishing world is having about erotica, I have to change a perfectly plausible story?

I did get some great advice from the moderator over at She suggested I treat the underage sex referentially instead of explicitly. That felt okay when I read it, I mean, my story didn't jump up and scream "No!!"

I'm rambling, I know, but this writing thing is so new and exciting that I just wanted to squeeze it in before going back to the life update. Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled blogging...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Today is the First Day of the Rest...(Nevermind, You Get the Drift.)

The day after Mark and Kurt staged their little intervention, I got up early, showered, shampooed, and set about pulling my life together. Kurt's comment about reiventing myself kept rattling around in my head. I tried to tell myself that this tragedy was really an opportunity slough off the old, center my chi, and discover my true focus. I talked a good game but I wasn't really buying it yet.

You don't understand, until you've lost everything but the clothes on your back,  exactly what that means. I didn't even have a bra! I'd been wearing panties under my pj bottoms, thank god, or I would have had to sneak a pair of the boy's boxers because I won't go out into the world without underwear. No. Ick! Not going to happen. Even still, I did have to borrow Mark's robe while I washed my few pitiful garments.

When my clothes were dry I reached for the pretty pink sweats but decided on the levi's-and-Bijan combo instead. I felt safer in it, like a disguise I suppose. I scraped my hair into a ponytail,  jammed my feet into the new flip flops, and set out in Kurt's Toyota to do some serious hunting and gathering.

First stop, Dollar Tree for sunglasses, fingernail polish remover, cotton balls, toothpaste, comb, blah, blah, blah. At CVS I found a few good-quality cosmetics including a beautiful true-red Milani lipstick and nail varnish to match. Matchy-matchy usually isn't my thing but I thought it would be interesting with what I had on, my Alia, and even the Juicy outfit - red and pink together always reminds me of Valentine's Day. I picked up a knockoff of the Naked Basics pallet for my eyes, a set of Ardell demi-wispy lashes, some Volumnious mascara, a set of Eco-tools makeup brushes, a nice BB cream by L'Oreal, blush, bronzer, and moisturizer. This, plus a few more essentials, knocked an $87 hole in my VISA card.

After that, it was off to Target for some undies, decent casual shoes, and a handbag. The undies were easy. I just grabbed a few lacy pink things on sale and a molded-cup nude bra. For shoes, I settled on a minimal-strap, toe-ring flat thong sandal by 'Sam and Libby' in a beautiful rose gold color. They would work with the tracksuit, the jeans, and the Alia for a dressed-down day look. I also found some slip-on 'Converse' low-tops in cream canvas with pink roses printed on them. The whole experience made me feel like Julia Roberts in 'Pretty Woman'. Except that my benefactors weren't sleeping with me and I only had enough to cover one-quarter the original retail cost of my burned-up handbag.  Speaking of which, I found a cute messenger bag in olive canvas with these awesome little crocheted and bead-detailed flowers appliqued on it. It doubled as a laptop case.

After all the shopping I had $3.76 left on the card,  which I got in cash at Target.  Alimony was still a week away. I'd called Barney to tell him what happened and see if he would cut my check early but he and the bimbo were on vacation again - in Fiji this time - and couldn't be reached.

After taking my stash home, I plugged in the laptop's charger and lay down for a nap. The next day I planned to take my three-bucks-and-change to  the nearest Starbucks and blog about my adventures before hitting the pavement in search of gainful employment.

We can file what happened next under 'Be Careful What You Wish For'.