Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lights, Camera....Action!

Court arrived on Saturday afternoon – soon after the rolling-down-the-hill-at-the-park event. Liz was meditating, Dave was at Kinko’s making business cards, so I grabbed Court and we headed to the Cheesecake Factory for a couple of turkey burgers. (One of my dirty little secrets is that I only eat half of my meal and I take the other half to go. In this case my intent was to bring the other half to Liz, who eats probably eight times a day. Nevertheless, Liz swore it was hamburger not turkey.)

The event started at 6 p.m. so we decided to meet downstairs at 5:30 p.m. A cab would be waiting.

As I mentioned, Dave Freeman, my FCP editor, had arrived late the night before and had gone to Kinko’s to make business cards because the ones we already had, hadn’t arrived in the FedEx. Dave Freeman is one of my best friends, my on-again, off-again roommate and I simply adore him. All said, he lives in his own Private Idaho. He is one of those super talented, creative people who (pretty much) wakes up when the sun goes down.

I mention all of this because we were supposed to be at the event at 6 p.m. Dave arrived downstairs at, you guessed it, 6 p.m. I can’t really complain though because he was in charge of the video equipment, still photography equipment, audio, business cards and copies of the trailer for our documentary “Two Million Tears: Africa’s Silent Epidemic.” He is just so adorable – that is “how he rolls.”

This is my favorite part. We pushed through the revolving doors to jump in to our chariot. Court is the consummate gentleman. He approaches the curb and opens the door to what can only be described as a jalopy (according to Wikipedia a “Jalopy is a common slang nickname in the English language for an old, decrepit and unreliable automobile which has limited mechanical abilities) I am wearing a Christian Dior red dress with a white mink stole (fake) and all I could think of was: being petrified that there would be professional photographers shooting me getting out of a taxi cab from the ‘70s in a multi-thousand dollar dress. I know, I know, I could have worse problems. The good news is that when I told Court of my fears, let’s just say I have never seen him laugh so hard.

Stay tuned for Part 4!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How I Became Tigger

Ok. Let’s go back five days so I can start at the beginning.

I left Los Angeles to meet my dear friend Liz Brown; we spent a day hanging out on her boat – a gorgeous boat with a gorgeous captain named Chris Fox!

The following day we were slated to fly in to Norfolk Virginia in advance of the Annual Physicians for Peace gala in Virginia Beach. Liz decided to come in a show of support. I was a little down – my grandmother had died; well, let’s just say I was feeling a tad unsettled. My dear friend Court Coursey came as well. There is something so wonderful about putting a bunch of friends together and watching them interact – my experience is that they get along almost immediately. (By the end of the weekend, I thought Court and Liz were going to run off in to the sunset!)

Liz and I landed on Friday night around 7 p.m., checked in to the Westin and quickly realized we were smack in the middle of a PUD. According to Wikipedia, a PUD is “a designed grouping of varied and compatible land uses, such as housing, recreation, commercial centers and industrial parks, all within one contained subdivision.” I was thrilled because everything was in walking distance. We went for sushi at a place called Zushi and went to bed – not without watching Angelina Jolie kick some serious ass in a terrible movie called “Wanted.”

My Final Cut Pro editor, Dave Freeman, was flying in that night (he arrived after Liz, Angelina and I all had gone to bed.)

So I wake up the following morning to Liz calling me “Tigger" because of the way I bounce in and out of beds and bounce around hotel rooms. I didn’t know who Tigger was until I Googled him. (I’ve decided to take it as a compliment.)

We woke up Dave to go to breakfast. When we arrived back at the hotel, Liz announced (read mandated) that we needed to “go get some nature.” We asked the concierge to direct us to a park. He recommended one called “Trashmore” … it was beautiful! (We were later told by the cab driver that it was called Trashmore because it is built on a landfill.)

We stumbled upon an event being thrown for children with Down Syndrome. We chatted with the locals and ate snow cones. Then Liz decided that she and Dave were going to play a game where you lie down on the grass and roll down a hill. This is what ensued … (see pics)

Don’t forget to check in for Part 3!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Week I Started Blogging Again …

On Tuesday, my grandmother died.

On Wednesday evening I flew to the East Coast to bond with one of my dearest friends and tele-shmooze with my family – over the death, but frankly – well, really, a lot of other things.

On Friday evening, around 7 p.m., I landed in Norfolk, Virginia in advance of a black-tie event where I was set to receive an award at the Physicians for Peace Gala recognizing "a person outside of the medical field" who worked tirelessly to help those less fortunate.

It's Sunday – and depending on what time zone you're in – I am somewhere over Chicago flying back to LA. Let's just say I'll land around 4 p.m., PT.

This blog is a four-part series. But I am going to begin at the end – and then take you back through the last four days with photos and my impressions.

Let's start in Dulles. My flight is set to leave at 11:31 a.m. EST. I board the plane – its layout is a 3-3. What that means is that there are three seats to the left, three seats to the right and one, narrow, Medieval-esque aisle, in between.

It is over-booked and the passengers are breeding and bleeding. I look down at my boarding pass – 26-B. I stumble and bump and angle and slither and beg and request and the list goes on and on. Somehow I make it to 26-B. I look up at my two mates for the flight – 26-A and 26-C – and it's almost as if I've been slapped right down in the middle of an early Monty Python movie.

I am bookended by two passengers that by all accounts are morbidly obese. The guy in 26-A weighed-in somewhere over the 400 pound ballpark and his wife, 26-C, weighed north of 300 pounds. (How do I know this? I later asked the flight attendants when they were scrambling around to find me an alternate seat – they didn't.)

I was one of the last passengers to board, which is somewhat typica;. But what was atypical was the fear I read in their faces. It was as if I had kicked-in a fully-loaded home invasion. They looked terrified.

And, as I was told later, so did I.

I shimmied in between them, locked my elbows to my side and began to stew. Seethe about how unfair it all was. I recalled the Op-Eds in USA Today and Time Magazine about how unfair it was that "fat" people weren't forced to buy two seats.

It was then that the Head Steward arrived and provided them with "seatbelt extensions." I later learned that these are given to those folks whose seatbelt is not large enough to "hold them in or provide them comfort in their physical state." I freaked out. Five hours of this?

Then I calmed down and pulled out my laptop and began photoshopping pictures I had taken over the past four days. It always relaxes me.

I was acutely aware of how excruciating it all was, each time 26-A brushed up against my elbow … or how his wife, 26-C, would continually edge away from me into the aisle when the flight attendant wasn't around. We would all visibly – physically and emotionally cringe. It got worse when we heard a teenager – he was probably 17 years old, and a punk I might add – say to his friend that I looked like "a slice of turkey between two oversized bagels."

I'm not sure what happened next but I suddenly saw the flight attendant offering these United Airlines snack boxes that came in four different flavors/styles. I had my Bose head phones on so I simply shook my head no. I thought the tunes in my iPod would make this 5-hour sandwich-situation a bit more soothing. 26-A and 26-C shook their heads "no," too, instead reaching – or attempting to reach – for their "home-packed-lunches." They couldn't bend far enough to actually reach the containers – I was happy to assist. But, suffice it to say, it was getting more and more bizarre.

I looked left at the husband, his flesh was pushing so hard into the arm rest he (from the sound of it) was precluded from taking deep breathes. He smiled and opened up his Tupperware container of carrots and celery and began chomping away – providing a bigger smile. I smiled back – as hard as I could. And I prayed.

I put my lap top away and I shut my eyes. When I reopened them 26-A was just finishing swallowing a huge ham and brie cheese hoagie (with "the works") and tucking the wrapper into the pocket of the seat in front of him.

I thought nothing of it. I was just waking up from a nap … getting re-oriented into the space where I was.

26-A assumed what he perceived to be an expected level of disapproval emanating from me. He grimaced and cringed and then visibly whimpered. I touched his hand, returned the smile and as I was again tucking in my elbows, I saw a tear slide down his right cheek.

I handed him my United Airlines napkin and smiled – a smile of hope and empathy. He simply said: "I'm sorry; I'm trying."

I replied: "Aren't we all." And we laughed – that conspiratorial laugh – one from one stranger to the other. That we're all dealing with our "stuff" – it just comes up in different formats.

I imagine the whole point of this piece is: if I hadn't just attended the Annual Gala for Physicians for Peace, and won the President's Award for my efforts to help those in the developing world … I know I would not have had the sympathique that I had that Sunday afternoon for this morbidly obese married couple … my two fleshy bookends for this five-hour flight.

I understood at that moment that's all we can do – keep trying. And to keep praying.

This KBTV Productions Blog is a four-part series … I began with Part 4 … to be continued …