Monday, December 21, 2009

It’s convoluted, like the way the hills along Sunset Boulevard curve into each other, tumble onto themselves. I'm sure if you were watching Earth from up in the sky at some other speed of time, you could see the churning of rolling hills along Sunset Boulevard, especially as you go west towards the Palisades and the coastline. This is not solid rock permanent land.

I live less than a mile from my first apartment on my own. In my life, I’ve lived in Europe, Cleveland, New York City, Dallas Austin and Houston Texas, and still today I'm only a few blocks from my first apartment after leaving home, which was in 1967 near Sunset Boulevard at Echo Park. Then still magnetized to this street through L.A., in the 1980s, I went through this period of doing this being beautiful thing, age mid-thirties, with careful control, anorexia builimia, and exercise obsession.

If I gained three pounds I'd stay home and torture myself with starvation and exercising until the weight came off.

Those years I’d go to these temp agencies that only fill jobs in show business. I didn't realize then that the reason I was getting great jobs through them was that I looked sexy, I really thought they were sending me all over the industry because of my incredible typing skills, plus those years at NASA on my resume always incited conversation.

One job I got through the Friedman Agency in the 1980s, whose offices were in the brand new highrise office building at 9000 Sunset Boulevard, was in the executive offices at Paramount Studios. There I sat from 8AM to 6PM doing NOTHING, I mean literally, reading magazines, books, taking “breaks” to walk around on the lot and then come back.

Then around six PM the executives would all show up, running hyperactively into the offices, and they'd always ask if I minded staying overtime, and I’d get paid overtime for the next two or three hours for getting them coffee and placing phone calls for them, then come back the next morning and snooze through another day.

Okay fast forward to 2005, Lizzie and I have moved into a homeless shelter, the Lighthouse in an old bar and grill building at 5600 Sunset Boulevard. We'd been living in our car for six months, and even though as soon as I have a home I can set up my equipment and return to work, I have to go along with the homeless shelter rules, and go out and apply for jobs.

Digging through the clothing donations, I find a business suit where the jacket almost buttons across my stomach, so it looks okay as long as I wear it open, right?

Wearing my too tight suit and ill fitting panty hose, walking in heeled shoes with feet that haven’t worn anything but sneakers for at least a decade, there I am in the 9000 Sunset Boulevard offices of the Friedman Agency again, just like the 1980s, only now it's an office building with huge "FOR LEASE" signs and empty floors of unleased space.

It’s the strangest thing. I sit in the lobby of the Friedman Agency for a good hour, hour and a half. They never call me in. I’ve taken their tests showing that I know almost nothing about word software. But I got a hundred percent on the Spelling Test.


I'm still the same woman who they used to send to Paramount to work in the executive offices.

They left me in the lobby. Other applicants arrived, took tests, went in to be interviewed, left with a packet of time cards, and I still sat waiting.

I’d ridden the Sunset bus all the way up Sunset from the homeless shelter to the 9000 Sunset Boulevard Building, same building.

It was maybe even more than an hour and a half they left me waiting.

Finally, when they realized I was not going to get the message and leave, the owner of the business called me in to his office. I recognized him, but he looked at me like I was a stranger. See he hadn't aged. Men and women west of La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles don't age. They Botox. Their skin is creamy and smooth, even glowing, their bodies toned, as they go through their forties, fifties, even sixties.

So Mr. Friedman looked the same as he did when I was one of his favorite employees in the 1980s. Now I said to him, don't you remember me? You used to send me to Paramount, lots of production companies…

He interrupted me. “How many years ago was that?”

Hmm, Lizzie was born in 1988 and I wasn’t even pregnant yet when I was working for them. I chimed in with a grin, “Oh fifteen, sixteen years ago.”

He stared into my eyes and said with barely hidden meaning: “Sixteen years ago. It was sixteen years ago.”

When I left I insisted they give me one of those packets of time cards I saw other people getting, and he threw one across the desk at me, and turned his back.

They never called me


Wearing that same ill-fitting suit, I answered yet another employment ad, riding the bus from the homeless shelter at Sunset Boulevard and Normandie, all the way to Santa Monica, off Wilshire. There a woman spoke to me at a desk, while looking at a computer monitor. In the middle of my answering a question, she interrupted and said, that's okay- you can leave, or something to that effect.

There had been a hidden camera, and the guy who I would have been working for was watching me on a monitor in another room. He rejected me on sight, so the interview ended.

Show biz, Hollywood, it's a tough town.

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