May 22nd, 2007


(no subject)

Well, tonight I had an..."adventure" is probably too strong a word.

I was sitting around, typing, working up a storm. My charming celebrity host was off at a seminar about helping abused children. I was plugging away, tea in hand,  when I heard a fire engine.

Now, this wouldn't normally be an issue. I've heard a lot of fire engines. However, it parked directly outside the building, and they've been having a lot of fires in the hills here lately, so after a few minutes of hearing the siren and seeing the lights flash through the kitchen window, I got up to go check.

I opened the front door, stepped outside into the little walled courtyard, and saw that the fire truck was accompanied by an ambulance, parked next door, probably a sign that something unfortunate had happened to a neighbor. "That's a damn shame," I thought vaguely....and from behind me, there came a soft and curiously final click.

My stomach lurched, and my heart slid delicately down into my toes.

The front door had locked.

I didn't have a key.

Charming celebrity host (CCH for short) wasn't due back until 11:00, and it was now...8:45.

I was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, a light sweatshirt, and a pair of very thin socks with pink hearts on them.

I checked my pockets, in case I'd somehow left a set of lockpicks in them. (Hey, there's always a first time...) Nope. My cel phone and a Kleenex. A succession of D&D thieves I have played writhed in internal shame.

I tried the CCH, but he was in a seminar and had, of course, politely turned off his phone. My agent's phone was down for most of today. You can't call 911 over something like this. We need another number for "mild discomfort emergency." ("Hi, this is 912! We'll send someone out with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, stat!")

The courtyard is about six feet wide, and perhaps forty feet long, walled and potted attractively with papyrus and several other tropicals.  Nice courtyard. Not well lit. Not heated. Hmmm. I could go outside, but the gate would probably lock behind me, and then I'd be on the street in my socks. They don't go in for sidewalks up here.

Here I am in one of the swankiest neighborhoods in North America, on a trip so surreal that I can only comprehend it in little bits and chunks, and I'm locked out of the house.

I went over to the sliding glass door to my bedroom, which was open six inches and locked in place, so the Pomeranian could get out. There is a lovely bouquet of pink roses and cut flowers on my nightstand. They mocked me with their inside-ness. Roses are such bastards.

"Well," I said, wiggling my toes in my heart-covered socks, "nobody ever died of hypothermia in southern California in May."

And so I did what we all do in this situation. I called my parents.

They offered moral support. We chatted for a couple of hours. I paced the length of the courtyard several hundred times. At about 10:15, my bladder became apprised of the situation, and I had a bad feeling I might wind up violating one of the potted papyrus, but fortunately, my charming host got out of his seminar about then, was horrified to learn of the situation, and drove back at breakneck speed (and in a Land Rover, that's saying something.)

He apologized a few thousand times (as if it was his fault his neighbor had a medical emergency and I wandered fecklessly out without a key!) but really, my life has been like a David Lynch movie ever since James decided he wanted to seperate back in January. If it hadn't been two hours pacing a walled courtyard, I probably would have been assaulted by a midget wearing a flaming hairpiece, so I figured that all things considered, I got off easily.

(no subject)

So far, I've been adding a bird a day since I got here. Yesterday's was the Western Scrub-Jay, and today I was privileged to see two Bullock's Orioles go flying by. (There aren't many unfamiliar birds I could ID from a fly-by like that, but big, black and yellow, with white wing patches like a mockingbird--process of elimination, how we love thee...)

Can't wait to finally hike Runyun Canyon--maybe tomorrow morning...

(no subject)

Holy shit.

Holy, holy, holy shit.

It is not possible that I just saw what I saw. I mean, I don't even believe me, and I was here for it.

I was hanging out on the back porch, binoculars in hand, trying to tell hummingbirds apart, and I heard a squirrel going apeshit in a shrub down the slope. I looked down there, and saw something dog-sized moving through the bushes.

It was drab agouti, and I thought, (quite excited) "Hey, maybe that's a coyote!"  The Hollywood hills are basically built up chaparral, and there's plenty of deer and coyote around. I trained the binoculars down...

And I saw a butt vanish into the agouti with reddish tint butt, a butt with solid haunches and a stumpy tail (not a manx's nub, but not a full cat tail, either--more like a cat tail chopped off halfway.) The tail was bright white with black rings.

Something dog-sized, agouti, with a stumpy striped tail?

Tell me that this isn't possible. Tell me that there are weirdos here in Hollywood keeping giant stripe-tailed manxes, or that it was some common breed of dog. I will believe you. Because any of that will make a helluva lot more sense than me seeing a freakin' bobcat walk through the backyard of a Hollywood estate at noon.

I went on-line to see if I'd lost my mind, and apparently it's remotely possible that I'm not nuts--there've been reports of a family of California bobcats that got flushed out from the fire across the valley last week, and they've been spotted through this area. But there's a far cry between that and "Hey, Ursula was trying to tell the difference between female Allen's and Anna's hummingbirds, and an adult freakin' bobcat strolled by."

My agent called while I was still gibbering and I asked her if there were bobcats. "Oh my god!" she said, shocked. "Do you have a gun?! Are you safe?" (sigh) All this glorious nature, and I don't think most of 'em have any idea how you live with it....

(no subject)

So a buddy of mine is planning a move to San Jose and asked me to come with her.

I'm about sold on the idea, especially hanging around the Mediterranean climate out here. God, I miss that. And there's really nothing for me in North Carolina except my friends, and since my best friend's movin'--eh, why not? Particularly with the whole divorce thing, it might be nice to start fresh someplace with no mental baggage.

What balks me, primarily, is the cost of living. Cost of living out in San Jose is literally twice what it is in Raleigh...but that's because housing is 3x as spendy. Food and utilities and whatnot are a bit higher, but generally only ten to fifteen percent.  And said friend, whom I love dearly, said that since she's already paying through the nose for a one bedroom, the cost of a two bedroom's only about five or six hundred more--I'd pay the difference, (plus the $25 rent for Ben, of course!) kick her a painting now and again, and we'd call it good. Since I'm paying five-fifty in rent now, that'd be a fabulous deal, and would cut out the primary agony of such a move. Utilities might even be cheaper, since I'd be splitting them with somebody.  Gas would suck, but I work at home most of the time--not like I'm a daily commuter.

There'd be a lot more gallery opportunities for me, Christ knows. I googled for "galleries" around San Jose and got like six thousand hits within thirty miles. There's what, maybe five, six galleries in all of Raleigh?

I'll have enough of a nest egg following the book deal and this LA gig to make the move without killing myself, and to pad my income if things get too dire. And if it turns out I really can't make it in an economy like that, (or if my friend finds true love and gets married and I'm out a roommate) my Dad's in Phoenix and said "Dude, come stay with us, get your feet under you, we'll put you up for a bit, not a problem." And Arizona's the place I always wanted to move back to, and the cost of living there I KNOW I can manage. I'd have no social network, but--well--I can always volunteer at the zoo or something, and hopefully some of you'd come meet me! (Artist, shy, needs social handler....)

So practically speaking, it looks like I can either make it work, or if worse comes to worse, bail out safely. And...I dunno. The thought of making a huge move across the country like that always scares me, but I've done it three times already. I know I can do it. (Driving a I'd have to pay to get my stuff shipped and drive out, I think, unless Carlota feels like driving a truck. I know my driving skills, and they ain't great. I could get Ben and me across the country in my Altima, but that's my limit.)

It's just such a huge idea, and I'm on my own for the first time in--well, ever!--so it looks so much scarier than it is. I think I want to do it, both sets of parents said "Do it, for god's sake, do it!" most of my friends have said that...but of course, the problem with divorces is that you wind up second-guessing yourself like mad on the big things, because if you didn't see THAT coming, how can you trust your instincts on anything? I wander between going "Yes! Let's go!" and wanting to curl in fetal position in my tiny apartment, which may be small and soon to be overpriced, but is at least known! and familiar! and mine!

So talk to me, O readers! Any of you lived in San Jose, or living there now? Is it possible to do without breaking the bank? (Will you have coffee with me?) All of you have been hugely supportive with the divorce thing--any of you done that and then moved across the country? How'd you deal with that sense of being a tiny little creature in a vast world? Is this idea nuts? (I'm asking the internet for advice. Sweet jesus.)