Stars and Planets

Yesterday.

8:00am – Wonder why I thought I’d get up and work out when I have a meeting soon. No time. Shower, coffee, email, forums, email, phone calls, printing maps, etc.

Stop to get captivated by the pens stee recently bought me. I am an office supply slut.

Hair and makeup, change clothes again, change shoes, wish the Certain Dri didn’t now make my underarms feel en fuego. Sticking with Dove.

10:00am – Drive across the city singing to Jane’s Addiction.

11:00am – Meeting with production company. Realize at some point that I’m sweating. Why? Not nervous, not particularly warm in the room. Overly chatty, due to copious cups of coffee. Perhaps coffee causing sweating? No, please, don’t let that be it. Probably should be paying attention to the words coming out of my mouth instead of the tangent in my head.

12:00pm – On elevator ride down, marvel at how production people can halt a meeting on the hour without any use of time-telling devices.

1:00pm – Lunch. Watching The Daily Show.

1:45pm – Script re-writes. Also: work on pilot. And then: email again.

3:30pm – Phone calls.

5:00pm – Debate nap, instead write through it. Meeting in the morning cut out precious writing time.

6:00pm – Shower, makeup, hair, etc.

6:30pm – Dinner

7:00pm – Driving across town to speak at Book Club. The women here call it “Book Club” with the emphasis on “Book,” like Fight Club.

It’s in Marina Del Rey, a place I’ve never been to before. I marvel at the apartments built right on the beach, and picture my life as a surfer girl who writes during the hazy, foggy sunsets and jogs the beach in the morning. Remember that I am nothing like the girl I create in my head.

7:50pm – I am the first to arrive. Hi, I’m the awkward author!

8:15pm – Book Club rocks. They are a warm, friendly group of women who ask interesting questions and want inside gossip as well as war stories. I talk for so long that I begin the familiar sweating. Try not to think about it, but instead drink the “Jungle Juice” beverage they’ve handed me with the warning that it will make me stupid. I sip with a full glass of water.

The “Me” portion of the evening ends rather abruptly, with some of the women wandering out of the room (I assumed they hadn’t read the book and were getting bored), and others deciding to have a cigarette.

And like any Book Club, we then retired to the back bedroom to watch a birthing video. What, is that not normally done? It was my first Book Club, so I didn’t know. Anyway, this one had the new mother’s DVD-worthy commentary of the vacuuming of the baby’s head, the baby’s trip to NICU, and the post-partum that began almost immediately (the woman next to me tapped my arm and said, “I mean, they rip this thing out of you that almost kills you and hurts like hell and then you’re supposed to just love it immediately? It’s not natural.”)

9:58pm – I am made an honorary Book Club member. I promise next month to bring video of my Pap Smear.

10:00pm – Driving home, listening to LoveLine.

10:30pm – There are people in my house, watching an old episode of Mr. Show.

10:50pm – We head off to Griffith Park to see “Mars Attacks!

11:15pm – Stuck in traffic, we decide it’d be best to walk the rest of the way. Park in lonely parking lot.

11:25pm – Still walking, but going faster than cars. We begin singing any song that has to do with Mars, including Ziggy Stardust, and his spiders from Mars.

11:30pm – Stee walks into a Spider Web from Mars. He screams like a girl.

11:34pm – Griffith Park is packed. It’s overwhelming, the lines, the kids, the darkness, the crowds of people. It’s a Mars Party, y’all.

11:59pm – Stee almost gets into a fist fight with a tiny Russian gypsy witch lady who cuts in front of us in line. “We’ve been waiting for a long time,” he says. “So, have we,” she says, letting another woman in front of her to sneak a look. “But we’ve been waiting in a line,” he points out. “Oh, well, that’s true. That’s true. But we have been waiting just as long.” Frank then says: “We’ve all been waiting 60,000 years, if you want to look at it that way.”

12:00am – Mars is a tiny white dot with a whiter dot at the bottom which we’ve been told is an ice cap. It’s blurry and hard to see. “The magnification of this one’s 240.” “210, 240 — whatever it takes,” I shoot back.

12:05am – I’m still explaining why that joke is funny.

12:08am – Tom finally corrects me that it’s Mr. Mom and not Gung Ho.

12:09am – Stee is convinced the Russian lady cursed him. Nobody argues, as she did give him the evil eye.

12:10am – We’re waiting in a monster line for another telescope, one with a bigger lens. It’s more important to pull in light than magnify it, as that’s what’s making it so blurry. This line, the one for the really big telescope, is hella long. So long that people are starting to leave it, realizing that the difference in seeing this white dot between the two telescopes may not be worth the wait. Stee times the line and realizes that we may very well be standing in it for more than two hours. Is Mars better than a Magic Mountain ride? Better than a feature film? Better than REM sleep? Hmm.

12:20am – We make good friends with the lesbians in line in front of us. They convince us to sit down in the grass with them. It’s wet. But it’s fun.

12:35am – Line’s not really moving at all. And now you can just walk up to any other tinier telescope and cop a look. But we’re totally waiting in that line, the line with everyone else, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

12:40am – A guy walks up next to us and sets up the world’s smallest telescope of all time and stands back, waiting for the crowd to form. I do see a few people sneer in his direction. “I’ve got a magnification of 2,” stee brags to me. He curls his right and into a loose fist and holds it up to my eye. “I actually see Mars worse through your hand,” I note.

12:45am – This is starting to be some serious bullshit right here. I mean, come on. I keep accidentally calling Mars a star instead of a planet, and people look at me like in Texas when you accidentally refer to someone’s truck as a car. “The Angry Red Planet, indeed,” Tom jokes.

12:50am – Jen and I wander to other telescopes and look at Mars. It’s still small and white with a tinier white spot at the bottom.

12:55am – Scandal! It has been determined that the moron who owns the giant telescope had the audacity to put a red gel over the lens! I mean, what kind of fool does that kind of thing? HA-ha! Why would he do that? These are the kinds of statements being loudly shouted, mixed with faces that read: “What a tool!” and “Why not focus on the moon and call it Mars?” I play along, shaking my head and rolling my eyes. “Mars,” I say. And then I add: “I like string.”

1:05am – We’re totally in line to see Mars through the cool telescope, the one owned by the observatory. Check it: twelve inch lens. Aw, yeah. And the magnification, it’s not like, 240 or anything, but that’s just going to make it clearer (read: smaller) because it won’t be focused so tightly on the star. PLANET! Planet.

We pull the lesbians out of their line and tell them we’ve got the inside scoop. Have I mentioned one of us works for the observatory? You’d think we’d get some kind of Mars press pass or something. Some VIP section where the planet shines brighter for us. Ice Cap Beer? Hello? Somebody call my publicist. This event’s BULLSHIT.

As I lean in and take a look, just like in a movie, the observatory guy starts shouting Mars facts as I train my eye to focus on the tiny white dot long enough for some detail to become visible. This is how I like my telescope viewing, with information fed into my left ear at the same time.

“What you’re looking at right now,” he shouted, “is 34 million miles away! There is a canyon on that planet that runs 2,800 miles across. You aren’t going to be able to see that. You also won’t see a mountain whose base is roughly the size of Arizona! You won’t be able to see that tonight. You’re going to see a white dot. And that white dot is Mars.”

He was right.

1:15am – The lesbians take our info. They declare us cool and decide we’re all going out for drinks soon. We realize we all have monosyllabic first names, in honor of Mars. We try and find another thing we all have in common, like a Zodiac sign or a sexual preference. Doesn’t happen.

1:35am – Still walking back to the car in the hazy, darkened, closed park, it feels like high school, when you sneak out of a house in the middle of the night and the slumber party finds the sleepover. Boys and girls running through the dark, giggling into the night air, breaking into golf courses, and sipping booze from a flask. Above us, Mars sparkles its pink hue.

And it’s a rare quiet moment in the middle of Los Angeles. You’re alone in Griffith Park, and instead of cars honking and bikers yelling “On your left!” and horse trails and children and the golf course loudspeaker, all you hear are crickets, and the snap of sprinklers. It feels exactly like a dream.

In one day I had a Hollywood meeting, spoke at a Book Club, watched a little girl get born, saw a planet and skipped through the country’s largest park when it was dark and empty.

I mean, if you can only have this day once every 60,000 years, you better do it up right.

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Thursday night, I’m hangin’ with the Toros in T-T-T-Torrance!

august 28 – 7:30PM
borders
3700 Torrance Blvd
Torrance, CA
Phone:310.540.7000

It’s the last stop on my incredible four-city book tour, so don’t miss it! You’ll pay for the whole book but you’ll only use the edge!

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