Thursday, July 29, 2010

L.A. Stories- LAir Quality

I visited LA as a teenager, and even then, I could sense that there was a distinct and palpable energy in the air out here. It's an electric quality unlike any other, and I wanted to be a part of it. It felt like a massive collective consciousness- the living, breathing pulse of a city populated by Creatives. I breathed it in, and I knew it was powerful- and I wanted to harness it.

From that instant on, I knew my destiny: to live in LA and be a writer. I'd decided I wanted to write long ago, and, at the age of 14, fixated on the medium of Television. I think it's important to make the world a better place, and my way of contributing would be to make people happy by making them laugh, or distracting them from their troubles with something amusing. I firmly believe in a Ripple Effect- make one person happy, and they'll spread some joy to others, and they'll create more happiness, etc. I thought that writing comedy for TV would magnify my Ripple Effect and I could contribute to the happiness of lots and lots of people. I wrote an essay along those lines and was awarded a college scholarship, so, reinforced, I continued on my path.

I took my free ride to college, and, with another clever essay, was one of 30 applicants (out of thousands) to be accepted into the Film School. I thrived in the writing classes, and believed that this was further evidence that I was on the right path.
Jaime, horribly depressed and beyond broke, stares at her cats.
What the hell was I thinking?!?

The cats don't answer. They don't have to. Fact is, I know exactly what I was thinking. I remember tearfully proclaiming to my husband that I'd die if we didn't move to LA, because, "I wasn't fulfilling my creative potential, and I'm an artist, and I'll die artistically and my body would surely follow suit." I swore up and down that I could never be at the right place at the right time in Orlando, and to meet with opportunity, I needed to be in LA.
"I just need a chance," I promised. "Just you wait- the air out there is magic- it's charged with energy- once I'm there I'll meet the right people, and... and..."
I must've made a good argument, because after 8 years of living a secure, stable, post-collegiate life, we finally made the leap to LA.

It wasn't a horrible decision- my parent's divorce, the drastic reductions in hours at our jobs as performers, and the general economy guaranteed us that 2009 was going to be a tough year. "Why the hell not," we figured. "If we're going to struggle, let's make it count."

There's that Sheryll Crow line, "No one said it would be easy. But no one said it'd be this hard." Yeah. That about sums it up. We arrived in the city during the worst economic crisis in 35 years. We extra'd. I did three months at three unpaid internships. I worked as a Pornceptionist, and answered phones for the porn industry for 6 months. I did Personal Assistant work. I cleaned spiderwebs out of someone's boots. I scooped mosquito larvae out of a fountain. I mopped up sex fluids. Yes, I'm not kidding. I mopped up jism on a porn set. Why? Because I needed the money. Sorry, Mom.

My husband, The Actor, has attended two auditions since our arrival last year, both for student films. He hasn't had a chance to try beyond that, because he's so busy trying to score paying work instead. He's done Grip work, PA work, Electrical work- more physical labor than any year-long contract at a Theme Park could've prepared him for. He's taking it in stride- and his new muscles are gorgeous. But he's not exactly fulfilling his dream, either. He didn't write an essay for college, but if he had, it wouldn'tve included "I want to wrap cables for 16 hours so my wife can quit her porn job and quit crying every morning when her alarm clock goes off."

I discovered, recently, that I'd been right about the air being special out here- but it's not a positive charge. Scientists have proven that a negatively charged ion produces more of an effect on the human body than a positively charged one. It's what we "feel" during a thunderstorm, or a prison gang-bang. Never seen a prison gang-bang? Call me, I'm sure my porn company has a whole series dedicated to them. My generous employers and co-workers gifted me with so many porn DVD's, they are literally propping up our furniture.

But back to Science:

In a laboratory experiment, Scientists pumped positive ions into a test group set up as a party. Nothing happened. Then they pumped in negative ions, and the party started to liven up. One can assume that LA, though all smiles and soap on the surface, is incredibly negative.
All those broken hearts and shattered dreams produce energy. Human Chemical Energy. And it has to go somewhere, so it floats around the atmosphere, creating the electric charge I felt even all those years ago.

Geographically, LA is surrounded by mountains, which only exist to make the weather stupid. The thick layer of smog which hangs like a death shroud over the city prevents any energy from dissipating naturally, and so, like a malevolent ghost, the negative energy lingers, then malingers, bonding to your lungs, entering your bloodstream, and becoming part of you. Possession. The lies and disappointments of 3 million souls is molecularly bonded with yours. Mazel!

The air is bad out here. What I sensed before was the Energy, and like a kid with a fork poking at a tempting socket, I wanted to be part of something, and I had no idea how painfully destructive it would be. The chemical ghosts of every unsold script, every failed audition, every unfulfilled longing- I breathe it in every second of every day. Now that I'm intimately familiar with LA's unique brand of pain and loneliness, I can taste it all too well.

Ready for more science?

Sharks have special sensors along their bodies that allow them to detect electrical impulses given out by living things. Sharks can also "smell," or sense, blood from 2 miles away.

This LA air is comprised of blood. There's blood in this water. And it scares me.

LA is happy town for Sharks, but I am not a Shark, and I don't ever want to be one. So I spend my days in this bloody, murderous electric air hungry and afraid. I could come out from my hiding place, but the Predators smell weakness 2 miles away. I wear a year of failure like a mouldering open wound on my face.

2 nights ago, I was typing my screenplay, which meant no TV or music was on to muffle the noises of Hollywood. The moon was full and I sat at my desk and listened to the 2nd arrest of the evening outside my barred window. I counted three bottles hurled at the brick walls of my apartment building. Shattered glass mingled with the dog shit and bum urine on the sidewalk I use every day. Several fights broke out along my street, and I heard two drunk women arguing until one cried. And cried. And sat outside my window in the broken glass and shit and urine and cried. One layer of brick away, just on the other side of the wall, I cried with her, for her, for myself. I knew that our anguish would rise up beyond us and join with the growing tempest of negativity, then settle back to earth to re-enter and poison our bodies.

I need a cleansing. I need a cure. I need an acid-proof rain coat. I need a plane ticket. I need to get out of my own head. I need to write the last 10 pages. I need a job.

I don't know what I need. But I know with every breath I take, it's gonna get harder to find it.