“twenty feet from stardom”

Do go and see this movie. It’s a documentary about backup singers for acts like the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Sting. These women discuss their love for music, their fears and triumphs, their desire for careers of their own. It’s an interesting study of success– how we define it, what it means to “make it,” whether or not we let others determine our worth. And it’s also a movie about passion– passion for singing and music, indeed, but also passion for living and honoring that bit of wildness that exists inside all of us. That little animal we call talent that yearns and craves for something. Our gifts that need to be fed and cared for.

home

I have a one-way ticket leaving LAX and arriving at JFK on July 5th, and I can’t help thinking that somewhere between Elmwood and Wilshire, somewhere along Third Street, somewhere on Emily’s couch, somewhere in line for Veggie Grill, somewhere in the aisles of the Beverly Hills library, somewhere at the counter of Fred 62, somewhere near that little pocket of La Cienega that smells like a campfire (I don’t know what it is or where it comes from, but I roll down my windows and I could eat that smell), somewhere there is a part of me that doesn’t want to go.

But I’m not sure I want to stay either, and these constant in-betweeny, life-so-meany feelings have typified my time out here. I like being alone, but I’m lonely. I’m grateful for the free time, but I spend most of it asleep. I was glad to get a break from “real life,” but I feel disconnected. And it’s been hard, really hard, to fess up and own all of my expectations and raging disappointments. I figured I could come out to Los Angeles and be on my walkabout and live in a freer and richer way. I thought I would ignite a desire that I often find myself wanting to tamp down. I came out here to chase life and wound up sleeping too much and making soy, decaf lattes with extra sides of steamed milk.

Or so it feels. It’s much more involved, I know. There’s been the good, there’s been the not so good, and there’s been the holy shit, I came to Los Angeles and lost my righteous mind and I’m staring into the abyss and it’s black just like they say and good God, how does anybody find the energy to love or write or drink soda or get dressed or pump gas or care about a neighbor when the world feels this small and dismal? Yeah, there’s been some of that, too.

But I can say this. I believe that I’m looking for something (someone? myself?), and that quest won’t end when I get off the plane. There is a search here, I have questions about how to live, about how I live, and as utterly lost as I’ve felt, there is a part of me that feels firmly guided by this curiosity. And there are moments. Small seconds when I feel like I’m brushing against something important, there is something that’s calling out. When I was in Austin a while back, we went to a brewery and afterwards we walked to our cars. The Texas air was solid with humidity, I was two beer giggly, the grass was freshly cut, you could smell everything. My friends were there with me, the night was in front of us, there was a breeze that caught the hem of my shorts. I felt young, but mature. I felt like I belonged to something, to other people. I was caught in that moment that seems to exist only in musicals– that pre-song minute when words fail, and the only thing that can express your wildness is a showtune, I felt ready to snap my fingers and yell “hit it, boys!” and cha-cha-cha my way back to the rental car. But mostly I felt like my life was cracking open and offering me the very great gift of possibility. Anything could happen. Anything could have happened out here in LA. Anything could happen in New York. I’m just hoping that I’m paying close enough attention to notice.

new friend

Screen shot 2013-06-13 at 9.27.45 AM_2I have a lot of friends who blog– Lynn and Ray and Cara and Sam all have blogs that I read religiously– but I haven’t really ever made a friend through blogging. I met the Bitchy Waiter when I was taping the Huffington Post Live segment– he has a blog about being a waiter (as I was reading, I was nodding my head and making those little “hmmm” sounds of agreement)– and it was great to connect with someone who balances his creative aspirations with the demands of a full-time job. One day we’ll meet up in New York and trade stories about babies at brunch, drunks at happy hour, and how every table always has that one jerk, that one asshole who flags you down, insists she is ready to order and then turns to a dining companion and asks “I don’t know what I want yet. What should I order?”

Say hello at the Bitchy Waiter.

huffington post live

Screen shot 2013-06-12 at 12.24.12 AMI can’t help it! I grit my teeth and squirm in my seat and crunch up my nose whenever I have to watch myself on camera. And I’m supposed to be an actress for goodness’ sake, but I still find it kind of grueling. I’ve gotten better– when I was young, the sight (and sound– don’t you find that taped recordings make your voice sound like something totally alien and separate from yourself?) of my recorded self sent me running for a bottle of arsenic. Now I can watch without getting too squinty-eyed and slack-jawed about it (even though, good lord, my head is doing this nervous bobbing thing and my eyes are doing this weird squinty thing).

Yesterday I taped a segment with Huffington Post Live on restaurant tipping. Lynn and Abe set me up with the interview and it was fun. Before we even started, my cheeks were a little achy from smiling so much with the Huffington Post folks. Nancy Redd was so encouraging and friendly. There are a few technical hiccups near the tape’s end, but it was a great way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.

You can watch the video here!