Saturday, December 3, 2011

The one where... the Prince is dead

I never realized before that I'm a lover of fairy tales. I mean, I'm not just a lover of fairy tales, I've been a believer of fairy tales.

I've scoffed for years at others who still hold some kind of attachment to the mythic beliefs these tales proffer. Yet, I've realized that I'm one of those people. I now know that. I've been lying to myself to think that the years of stories I've been subjected to - in books, films, magazines, etc., all types of media in fact - haven't made an impact on my psyche. They have. All these romances, time and time again and they all end in the same manner - happily ever after. The Prince saves the day. Because, without him, you see, life is meaningless. We're only complete when our Prince arrives on our doorstep, taking us away from our misery.

That's the message. When written out that clearly, it seems ridiculous. However, I've bought it for years. I can honestly say that I've been conditioned to believe that one day my Prince will come. There's a sense of shame behind that belief. Obviously, to the world in general, I'm this strong independent woman - I can do it all. Look at me - I have a career, I'm fine. I don't need someone. Especially not some man to support me financially. But then, the career starts getting slightly less stellar, the income becomes slightly less supportive and the choices become slightly less expansive.

But, despite all these bold statements, I feel I have to be rigorously honest. I now realize that I've constantly, in the back of my mind, been thinking "one day my prince will come"... "one day... everything will be okay" ... "one day ... I will be rescued". Because, frankly, life is challenging. Especially when you're on your own - so, I think, it will be easier with someone else because they will fill that emotional void. And, in a world where property rentals are high, I know a number of male friends who have freely admitted that they've got back with girlfriends, just to get 'a sweeter pad'. Great. But, I won't deny the thought has crossed my mind too - think how much I could get, property wise, just sharing with one other...

Now, finally, I think I'm getting real. Or authentic for that matter. And, at this stage in my life, truly claiming my feelings, I have to realize that I've been holding on to old ideas and it's time to let them go. It's time to accept, at this stage, that it is okay to be on my own. Even as I say that, I'm thinking: "no, it's not..." But it has to be, or, at least, I have to be in acceptance of that. I can't keep waiting for someone else to come along and make things better. I have to do it all. I have to earn the money, get the place and be okay with it all. That's the key here - to truly be okay with it all. Not just pay lip service to those words. To be in acceptance, right now, HAS to be better than the frantic insanity of fear that something I think I want hasn't happened... So, that's the challenge, let go of the old ideas, the fairy tales and the myths. The Princess can fly solo. It's really okay. Frankly, it has to be.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The one where... I went to Wisconsin

I just got back from a trip to Wisconsin to visit my aunt. It’s left me sad – I’m mourning the me that never was. I know that what happened to my family allowed me to be born but I’m sad and angry about the me that I think I should have been. I took this trip as an opportunity to ask about who my family was and where we came from. It depressed me.

My family, in Berlin, were Upper Middle Class, they had servants, they had a country house, they had a Police-trained pedigree German Shepherd called Bendix, they were members of the rowing club and my grandfather was a World War I veteran, who wore a solitaire diamond on his little finger. We had money. And it was all taken away. Gone. Boom. They left the country with what they could carry. And, by all accounts, my grandfather never recovered. He died in a retirement home in Memphis, Tennessee. A far cry from the rowing champion at the posh rowing club from Berlin, Germany with three children, a booming career and plenty of friends.

My father never discussed what he lost. He never expressed feelings. Not feelings that I remember. They were just stories – seeing Hitler in the flesh, being a youth in Berlin in the 1930s, etc., they become legendary tales, which I remember with excitement but it was never personal.

I never knew what to ask I guess, a simple question: "How did you feel?" I'm sure I did, though, it seems a simple enough question but my father was a brilliant man with the ability to deflect questions with another tale and, when dealing with a child, there were a million ways to steer me off the topic. But... How did he feel? I can't ask now. Because he's very very dead. And, furthermore, I don't even believe if I'd get the truth. I think it was buried deep in him, deep in his work, a part of him that he never accessed because he couldn't or wouldn't. He had moved on, he got married, he had three children of his own, he'd managed to claw back an existence within a society and world that had once rejected him and his family.

All this, ALL THIS, was his life and his experiences but now I’m feeling the loss. 62 years after he left Germany, I'm feeling the pain. It's strange. Almost comic. That this wash of grief, anger and fear is washing over me more now. I've always had it, I've just never discussed it. Here's the thing. I’m angry. I want us to still have our home, our lives, our existence. My uncle, my father’s twin, went back to Berlin right after the war. He was there for concentration camp liberations and worked as a translator. I don’t know how he felt. I don’t know how he did it. I wonder if he cried for his losses, if he went to visit the family home in Charlottenburg or if he felt as broken as I feel today? Or, did he do what my father did? You never discuss, it's just life, you move on.

I found out more about my great aunt Judith – the survivor – she got out early and worked for the British Governor in Palestine. She travelled Europe. My grandmother went to visit her in Palestine in 1936, before returning to Berlin. My grandfather was refusing to leave Germany. His Germany – he was a patriot – he’d fought alongside the Kaiser in World War I. Nothing happening on Germany was happening to him… By the time they realised it was nearly too late. Aunt Judith had met a man from Cuba at a party in London. Kurt Poliakoff, head of Shell Oil in Cuba, who arranged passage for the Friedlanders to Cuba. We lost everything. The family lost everything. And now, I’m getting those feelings of loss, of resentment, of wonderment, realisation of what I don’t have, what I never had, what they lost and why didn’t my father ever talk about this with me.

Was it that painful? He spent his life discussing ‘reconciliation theology’ but how reconciled was he? These are feelings I don’t know if I want to really explore, because, in doing so, am I somehow dismissing all that my father worked for and preached about.

As "Albert's daughter", as the daughter of a survivor, I feel like an anomaly. I always have done. That someone my age, of my generation, should experience first generation holocaust survivor guilt. I’m out of my time zone. I’m out of my era. These are feelings dealt with and explored and catalogued. Children of the 60s – this is their struggle, not mine. However, I’m left to explore this world, and feel loss and abandonment. Again.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The one where I meet Kevin Bacon...

A friend from the UK is doing a play in LA. Well. I say friend. We only ever nodded at each other in London but… when people come into town it’s nice to see people from home so we meet up. AC’s only got about two more days and, to be fair, it was lovely to see him.

I took him to meet some friends. I wanted to show how well I was settling into LA. Thing was... my actual friends had left the venue. I knew two people there. AC walked in... and knew them all. I felt like a tool. They were all: "How did you know we'd be here."... because of me? I looked like a sad stalker. Sad sad stalker. So... I did what I've been doing now for some time. If there's a lull in the conversation, I do the whole IBS thing. You know. I've been shot. IBS.

Please talk to me. I just moved to LA. And... IBS. Oh. I don't know you and I have to make conversation? I know. IBS. Being shot could just be the making of me.

I’ve got a treat in store. My friend LH is taking me to see the Bacon Brothers at the Hard Rock Café on Universal City Walk. You know what that is? No? It’s Kevin Bacon’s band. That’s what. He plays in a band with his brother. I’m so excited. I mean. Kevin Bacon. Footloose. The Kevin Bacon game. And now I’m going to see him live and meet him after. Whoop.

First up food. LH takes me to Nozawa. Apparently this is the best sushi in LA. The chef is known as the Sushi Nazi. It's an institution. It's also in a strip mall turn off, off Ventura in the Valley. Hardly looks special. But then… then… I get the albacore tuna. Jesus. I’ve never had anything so good. Nothing. No phones are allowed in here. It’s kind of intense. There are only about six things on the menu. Okay. A bit more. But it’s amazing. I love it. Mmmmm. Food noshed, it’s on to Universal Studios.

JM’s joining us there and we head into the Hard Rock… and there he is. Kevin Bacon. I wonder if I can take some pictures without embarrassing LH. She goes to the bathroom so … picture time! Yay! He’s on the bongos. Kevin’s on the bongos! I don’t know why this pleases me but it does. I have included a picture. It's Kevin! Kevin!

We move around and meet his manager, his wife, the family etc., but I’m too engrossed in watching the Baconettes. A bunch of women who are going CRAZY for Kevin. Fantastic. They’re having so much fun! And me? I’m having so much fun watching them….

The show over, we go to meet Kevin. We head up to his dressing room with him, his brother and other people. Hands are shaken. I have no met Kevin Bacon. Shame I’ve not worked with him. This man is a legend. Legend. If only for the game… I’d like to marry a Bacon one day. Noam Bacon. That’s just so wrong.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The one where I nearly lost an eye...

My eye is hurting. It’s hurting really badly. I think I have an infection. Or something. But this isn’t normal. It’s itching really badly and it’s looking quite puffy… I don’t know what to do. I still have health insurance but I’m stumped. I phone a friend of my mother’s. Her husband is a leading optician. He’ll be able to help me. I know I just need some antibiotic drops but… what the fuck? You can’t get them like you can at Boots back home.

This is not good. It’s getting worse. Worse by the minute. I went to the pharmacist here. There was nothing he could do. I’m beginning to panic now. No one will give me the drugs I want. I want Boots. I want the NHS. I want someone to help me. Fucking America. Fucking health system. I never thought I’d really miss the NHS. Actually. That’s a lie. I did. I’ve never had complaints about the NHS in the past. And here, nothing but trouble. From being shot to, well, everything. Their ibuprofen’s a bit stronger. That’s about it. Bah.

So. Yes. My eye. I’m panicking. I’ve got some drops now from this woman’s husband… JM calls. She basically tells me not to be such a dick. Go to an optician. I refuse. It’s too much money. $350. At least. But, she points out, it’s my eyes. What am I playing at here? My eyes. I can’t afford to take a risk. I refuse. I’m not paying.

Then… I talk to my sister in Boston. She suggests asking my aunt to lend me the money. I ask her to do it for me. I’m a pussy. I can’t do it. I don’t want her to know how freaked out I am. AJ says she will but suggests that I call too. She’ll lay down the groundwork. I get the green light. She’ll pay up. Now call her so… I call my aunt. My aunt in Wisconsin. I’ve never asked her for money. But now? I’m so scared about my eye. I’ve talked myself into a frenzy. She’s happy to help so I head off to the Benjamin Eye Institute. By now I’m nearly blind in my left eye.

There are videos on the wall. I think they’re of famous people talking about how good Dr Benjamin is. I can only see with one eye and am bumping into the old people, who appear to be really short. I mean, I’m pretty short, but these people. Tiny. Bump. Bump. And they don’t like getting bumped into. I can tell they’re about to get angry and then they see my eye. I look like a battered housewife. They back away. Sympathy etched on their faces. Shit. I must look awful.

I’m called into see Dr Benjamin. Apparently I have some kind of eye cyst. AND the ducts are all blocked. I need to put on hot compresses regularly to melt the crap that’s built up around the ducts. PLUS… He prescribes some medicine – basically nasty gel to put into my eye – at a cost of $59 and sends me on my way. By god it hurts. I thank him. $350 for 15 minutes. Not great. But I did the right thing. I asked him to see me.

I went to bed feeling really sorry for myself. I think I might have snivelled a bit. I couldn’t really cry because my eye was too puffy to excrete tears.

The next morning…

Oh Jesus. My eye has swelled up to the size of a small Clementine. And oh my god. It hurts. It’s turned purple. I call Dr Benjamin in a panic and he tells me to come round right away… $350 AGAIN! This time… I get my sister to call my mother in London. I’ll claim it back on my travel insurance but… right now. I just don’t have that kind of money. My mother is livid. She’s not heard from me in days, weeks maybe, and now I’m getting in touch because I want some money. Okay. I agree. It’s not great. But … seriously. My eye. My eye.

I turn up there and dr Benjamin and I chat. He runs a magazine – which is published in Russian. He’s from Tashkent. He’s Jewish. I fantasise about being Noam Benjamin for a minute. He seems nice. I could get my eyes lasered. For free. Especially if I’m Noam Benjamin. I can’t see if he has a ring on because I really only have one eye now.

Dr Benjamin flips open my eye. As he does so I reach into my bag and hand him my camera. He looks confused. I tell him I need pictures. For my insurance claim (but really for my mother, just so she can see what pain her little soldier - little soldier, I’m not a child... let’s not forget) and please could they take pictures. Please.

The nurse does so.

As they flip over my eye I see Dr Benjamin wince. This is not good. There’s the cyst. EW…. He needs to drain it. That means slicing it open and letting the blood ooze out. That means sticking a needle into my eye to numb it before they drain it. Be warned. I had a picture taken. It ‘s about to appear below.

So… he slices in and the blood start dripping into my eye and his cotton bud. It didn’t hurt but it was more the trauma of having someone digging in my eye that freaked me out. A quick pat on the head – I’ll never get married to Dr Benjamin if he’s patting my head – and we’re done. I’m a bit emotional. I mean. The man just sliced into my eye.

I have to get more medicine. Pay up again and I leave. I’m driving home. I’m driving home after having had an eye operation… why? Because I’m too damn proud to ask anyone for help.

Normal people. Well. They would have rung up a friend and asked for a lift to the doctor’s. Me? I can cope alone. I’m fine. So. What happens? I’m in the car and I’m crying and crying. Boo hoo. Self pity.

I call Tam. She doesn’t pick up the phone so I leave a pathetic message about how sad I am… more self pity. But maybe justified.

Someone I managed to drive home. I’m lying on the bed. With the dogs. Boo hoo. Booo hoo. I’m weeping blood. I really am. But at least I guess I’m cleaning my eye.

Nico gets home… he wants to know why I didn’t call him to come and get me. I didn’t call anyone. I didn’t want to be a bother. Jesus I can be a martyr sometimes. I just had an eye operation and I didn’t want to be a burden. What a loser…

The next day…

The eye’s settled a bit but I’m still in glasses. My eye. It hurts… This isn’t good. But… it’s gone down so much. I look less like I’ve been battered. I can’t believe how quickly it’s beginning to settle. I need to get my head together because I’m doing an article for Angelino magazine. My first one. I’m so excited. Whoop! My first US magazine piece.

It’s with an actress. I went to see her film the other day – she’s in a new Jim Jarmusch film. NP walked out of the screening she hated it that much. Me? I just, well, didn’t really get it. Bit airy fairy for me. NP left before the final ten minutes. That’s when it all happened. The only bit of action. Other than that – what an awful film. I mean. Really. Urgh.

The actress is all ethereal. We’re talking on the phone. She’s in a car and it’s noisy but she says I’ve got a nice voice. I feel special. That was nice of her. She seems nice. Artsy. Into good deeds. Does her bit for charity. It all goes well. Now I’ve got to write it up and hope that my style works for a US audience. Ulp.

Two days later…

My eye is getting even better. I can’t believe how well I’m healing. This is fantastic. My friend RJ is in town and we’re going out with NP, GF and PS. A bunch of Brits. We’re meeting up with my friend AdG, who’s also GF’s landlady. The venue? Some bar in Santa Monica.

I have no idea what’s going on here. We had to pay to go in and … well… It’s a COUGAR PIT. They’re all over RJ. He’s a married man. And… if they’re not Cougars I think they’re prostitutes. There are also a lot of Thai Ladies in here dancing with older men. The music’s nice enough but I have no idea what’s going on here. I’m bemused. We’re the youngest people here and we look out of place. We look normal and everyone here is either a freak, a geek or a pro.

There are some women really jiggling bits of their bodies. Noooooo. They look so old I’m scared that their tits are going to fall off. Or some part of their body. This really isn’t pleasant.

The band come on stage. Now they look normal and I see a few more ‘normal’ people. They’re with the band. We exchange glances across the dance floor – what is this place? RJ and I start pissing ourselves laughing. This is wrong. Wrong. I disappear and go to the bathroom. A He/She is taking her sweet time. By the time I’ve left the bathroom, a cougar is shimmying in front of RJ and GF’s turned down the advances of an older Thai lady. It seems I missed all the action. Or perhaps they were waiting for me to leave before they pounced on the boys?

I have no idea what’s going on here but it’s about 1am and it’s time to leave. So time to leave.

Oooooh. The next day. It’s up at 10am for my first LA premiere. Yep. A premiere in the morning. LH is taking me to Monsters vs Aliens. As it’s a kids’ film it’s in the morning. The venue is in Universal Studios and in we swoosh in LH’s swooshy car.

She has some clients in the film so we get to sit with them all. Oh yeah. Here I am. I’ve arrived. Hi. I’m a nanny. Look at me. Look at me getting my LA validation from a bunch of people who don’t know me but I must be important because I’m at a premiere, not because I’ve done anything of any particular merit whatsoever… I nod at people who feel inclined to nod back because I’m sitting in the VIP section of the cinema. And then… I’m quiet. I’ve had my moment. I slip on my 3-D glasses and settle down to wait for the film. And… It was fun. Next time (next time?) I might even talk to someone…

The one where I go to court... again

COURT. Again. Friday the 13th. Of course. Of course I’m in court on the 13th. This time it’s to get my arraignment. I just have to turn up and plead ‘not guilty’ to turning left by going through a red light (okay, I did it) and then get my actually trial date. They have me on video but I’m going to fight it. I have to pay my bail - $430. This is kind of scary. I don’t like this at all. I know I’m guilty. I mean. It’s on camera. I did it. I went over by a FRACTION of a second but… doesn’t matter. I’ve been caught. As ever. I’m always bloody caught. So here I am again in the Beverly Hills Court House.

They have metal detectors here. Your bag gets searched and, of course, nothing’s ever simple, it seems that my asthma inhaler looks like a weapon so I have to tip my bag out. A flurry of tampons comes out. Great. I mean. Fine. I’m a woman. But do we really need to see tampons? Do we? Really? I’m dying. And I’m late for court now because they keep putting my bag through. I start wheezing. I can do this at will. So they have to give me my inhaler. I imply something about I might die if I don’t get my inhaler. They hand it all back to me and I’m allowed to go up to the court…

I sit there and wait. Do I want to change my plea? No. Not guilty. And I’m dismissed. This might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Not guilty. Oh well. My voice shook a little as I said it. But I looked the judge in the eye. Yeah. That’ll show her… Yeah. That’s me. Hard as nails and not guilty.

Off to LH’s to correct her script. I love the script and I’m impressed she got it done so quickly, and now I’m just making sure that the I’s are dotted and the t’s crossed… I’ve got to write my own script but I’m failing badly. I keep meaning to do a ‘backfat’ script about all of the stuff that’s happened to me but I haven’t… I need to give myself a serious kick up the arse.

It’s TN’s 30th tonight… so it’s Sushi at Taro with a bunch of us. A nice evening. Simple. Food. Friends. Picture included.

Dinner at Café Med and the discussion is mainly about a snuggie. I decide I have to have a snuggie. We all have to have snuggies. Or maybe it’s a snuggy. The snuggie? A blanket with arms so you can wear it out. Genius. As are the adverts. People dressed up in the blue snuggie – it looks slightly cultish – and watching football. US style. Or roasting marshmallows. And everyone looks so happy – a blanket with sleeves. Brilliant. JM’s ordering me one online. I can’t wait. I want everyone to get one and then I all want us to go out as a group in our blue snuggies. Everyone will want one. It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes… people will just follow as long as we pretend that it’s the new thing to wear. A snuggy. I’ll have to find a picture. I don’t believe Americans really wear them. I think the advertisers are lying to us. Either way. It’s genius.

The next night – girls’ night. LH and her mother JH, along with JM and MK. We’re off to the Chateau. Whoop. We’re at our table. I feel like I’m eating for everyone. I feel like I’m eating a lot. Oink.

Someone pulls up at our table. They greet LH. Very warm. Oh. Hang on. It’s Justin Long. LH and Justin talk. It’s all friendly enough. He nods his hellos. We reply. And we all just carry on talking as LH and him catch up. I’m sadly excited. I like Justin Long – I’ve just seen ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’. He heads back to his table, which turns out to be next to us. Some skinny birds join him so I switch off. We leave. JM says something about the skinny birds. Huh? Turns out the skinny birds were Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore and I totally missed it. Doh. I really thought I’d be better at star spotting than that. Rubbish.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The one where I'm at a party in the Valley...

Brit breakfast at Ceconni’s this week. They do it every Tuesday morning. It's a nice idea. My friends EL and CY organise it. Simple in its conception. Get a facebook group: Brits in LA. And organise events. For people who've just moved over it's a great way to meet people. I've been feeling a bit lost at times - obviously - & my social circle is horribly small.

So... we've got a bunch of Brits eating egg and toast for lots of dollars… It was refreshing to hear some familiar accents and chill out with them. I started talking to one girl... I didn't really guess who she was and then she gave me her full name. Shit. I know more about her than she'd care to really know. She's an ex-client of a friend of mine and... well... Oh dear oh dear. Strange how things work out. I kept my mouth shut. Well. You would really but I was bursting. Bursting.

As for me… It's strange being at one of these events. I'm not sure what to tell people what I do. Being a nanny just isn't cool. It's not really part of the Hollywood way... though I think it'll be good. As in. I get paid to play with a child four days a week and I get to write the other three. Apart from the fact that the child 'hates me' (she will love me, oh yes she will), it's such an easy job by comparison to the one I was doing before. However, I'm getting an anxiety complex about just what I'm doing again. I mean. Really. A nanny? What happened? A NANNY? My friends back home are finding this turn of events interesting. A joke even. After all, I've never considered myself a natural with children. It's a learning curve. A fucking steep one.

Elsewhere... I have an anniversary this week. So I’m celebrating. Oh yes. I can’t wait. But first… TN’s turning 30! It’s her fault I’m in LA. I moved out here because she got me the job with Mr X and now she’s having a birthday – a joint one with her housemate. They’re getting a band. The theme is 1930s… and everyone’s making an effort. She lives down in the Valley. I'm still trying to work out why the Valley has such a crappy reputation. Suburban. Tedious. I don't get it. People here have space. People here are happy. People here have big pools. I like the Valley. I didn't when I moved here. I think that's Clueless's fault. That film became my point of reference with LA and now, now that I'm actually living here... It's nothing like that. I say that. I feel clueless half of the time though.

The party

Brilliant. So many people. A proper party and the amount of English accents? A lot. My friend from school (and home) NP is still here and she’s there. It’s just chock a block. So nice to forget about things for a while and just enjoy a party. The booze is flowing. The food is bountiful. And the backdrop? A big pool in TN’s garden in the valley. Ridiculously LA. Especially everyone getting into the hot tub later on.

NM brought a Hello Kitty piñata - it was hoisted to the outdoor BBQ roof. You wouldn't get that in London. Would you?

Okay. This party. This feels glam and fun. Not that London’s not… but this just feels like we’re really in LA right now. A big pool, it's freezing in London and we're all outside watching the BBQ. Good. Watching the pool. Good. Watching people smiling. No one's in a corner being miserable. Everyone seems happy to be here.


No gossip. No scandal. Today’s my celebration day but TN’s too hungover to come meet me. I’m in Café Primo with friends: MP, ED, MK, JM, LH, AdG, SS and BM. Dim sum earlier with Nico and Randy before meeting RS and JM and then onto Primo. A really nice evening. A shame that TN couldn’t make it as then that would have been all of my LA friends right now all in one place… which would have been really special. But. Still. I’m so happy to be here. After all the shit I've been going through, this is nice. I'm thinking about my upcoming duo of court dates but... for now. This is okay. I've got some good people around me and JM as my lawyer. It'll be fine.

I’m still a nanny however. I need to do something about that at some stage…