Tuesday, November 28, 2006


A person on a plane could get confused. Because he is sitting, because people are bringing him things, food and the like, he may think that he is in a restaurant. In fact, the plane itself, the crew on the plane, may want him to think that he is in a restaurant.

He is not.

In a restaurant, for example, there is no possibility that oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. There is no moment, in a restaurant, when you wonder whether to meal you’re eating is your last. In a restaurant, you do not very often consider which of the other patrons you would eat if it came down to it. A date at a restaurant is never going to end in the side of a mountain, that’s what I’m saying here.

I have been a waitress. I have been on the waitstaff at eleven eating establishments, and never once did I approach a table with a drink, only to find that the customer was sleeping or watching a movie or dreaming of the seventy-two virgins who will be waiting for him at that big arrival gate in the sky once he finishes up with his day’s work.

And they’re stealthy, those flight attendants, with their little outfits and chunky-heeled shoes. They sneak up, out of nowhere, popping their heads into view to ask you to buckle your seatbelt, or stow your tray table, or if you want peanuts.

I have never been asked at a restaurant to stow my table. It wouldn’t make sense! You understand.

And when I am on a plane, I grow to six times my size. I am no longer a middle-sized woman, but a giant, talking bison. I hit the tray with my knee and knock over my drink. I elbow my neighbor in the face. I am some kind of ailing spastic. I cannot do anything for myself—I can’t get anything for myself. I can only bang around clumsily, wait for time to pass and avoid thoughts of gravity.

Ahh…transcontinental flight is so very charming.

I almost did not make my flight. In a series of events that illustrates, in no uncertain terms, why I am shit at my job, I left my passport-baring handbag at the hotel. With forty-five minutes to go before the check-in cutoff, the concierge at the hotel threw the bag in a taxi barreling towards Heathrow with a command to hurry. My boss checked in. He lazed about in the upper class lounge while I awaited the arrival of the taxi outside the gate. Despairing and hopeful, I waited. Pacing, panicky, trying to remain calm, I waited. I was wearing my 20’s hat and my coat with the fur color. I watched the numbers on my phone’s digital clock go up.

If the passport had been Hugh Grant, this would have been a scene from a Romantic Comedy.

With a minute to spare the taxi rolled in. I threw him my remaining pounds, grabbed my bag and ran my huge cart of luggage back to the check-in desk. At this point I started shedding layers. Off went my coat, my scarf. The guy behind the desk took his time. Click. Click. Type. Type. Hat off. Sweatshirt off. The sweat pooled on my face. My face was a Brooklyn street after a rainstorm. Click. Type. Type. Finally the guy handed me my ticket and I huffed toward security, brandishing my ticket and passport triumphantly, with my scarf trailing like a wooly tail behind me.

I am now back in Brooklyn. I am rather unable to assess what London was like or what New York will be like now—whether or not it will be any different. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I am too old to experiment with new drugs. I am too old to drive recklessly, to blame my parents for my disappointments, to chew bubble gum. I am too old for blue eyeliner or pink hair or hostels. I am too old to be unemployed or irresponsible or thoughtless.

I believed I was too old to make a new friend—a real friend, a friend for life.

I was wrong.

Friday, November 24, 2006


It is a luxury unlike any other. Crusty-eyed you reach over to the phone next to the bed. You dial “44”, and a pleasant international voice, brimming with British politeness, greets you with a hearty “Good Morning”. The voice knows you, he calls you by some version of your name (Mrs. Manaster, for example. Mrs. Movie Actor.) You order coffee. Toast. Maybe eggs or porridge or cereal. “Would you like a bakery basket? Or some orange juice, perhaps?” Your brain, wet with sleep, reels with possibility. Sausage. Smoked salmon. Mueslix. You hang up the phone and smile.

You slink out of from under the cozy white covers onto the cozy white slippers placed next to the bed in anticipation of this very moment. You walk to the bathroom. You emerge swathed in a cozy white robe that matches your cozy white slippers. It is as if you have never emerged from your bed. Your hotel has simply made your bed portable.

You walk around, doing things. You turn on the BBC. You think about daytime.

Then a timid little knock sounds at the door. You squeal with delight and fling the door open, almost forgetting that the robe, while very staid and proper in its way, is nevertheless the only thing between your naked self and this painfully apologetic Eastern European standing in the hallway. He bears a tray covered in plates and cups and linens and glasses and jellies and butter and more forks than a person needs in a lifetime. The tray is on wheels.

“Where shall I set up breakfast, Madam?”

You are so cool. So nonchalant.

“Oh, by the window will be fine. Thank you ever so much”.

He rolls the cart through the room. You stand aside and watch him go. Look! He’s opening up the cart so it becomes a table. Look! He’s pulling plates of food out of a heated cupboard beneath the tablecloth. They’re covered in napkins and stainless steel plate covers. Look! He’s pouring coffee, he’s opening the curtains, he’s asking if there is anything else you might require.

The sun shines out from beyond the wrought metal detailing on the window ledge. You peer out, sipping on your hot coffee with steamed milk, nibbling on a pastry.

“Yes,” you think. “Another wonderful day for the empire.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Nothing much to report, friends, other than the fact that my time here is winding down. The benefit of having this blog over the last few weeks, is that it makes me feel like my life is an adventure. Would it be possible to keep up this Indiana Jones mentality when I'm back in Brooklyn? Maybe we'll give it a go. Anyway, there's still a few more days of hijinks to be had on this side of the pond, so stay tuned...

In other news, yesterday I bought two pairs of shoes on a street dedicated to large-sized shoe stores. How can I leave? They understand me here!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Last night I headed out for the theater and my shoes were in an awful state.

I am hard on shoes, but in the time I’ve been in London, the few pairs I brought with me have degraded to a desperate, third-world condition. My boots are broken, my Converse are caked in mud, it is a sad affair. Especially for the shoes.

I believe in dressing for the theater. Maybe it is a bit of a reactionary stance, since most people wear blue jeans and sneakers and spend two hours sucking on gummy worms, but when I go to the theater, I like to look nice. So last night I put on a dress, stockings, jewelry. I slipped on my winter coat with a fur collar, a felt hat and, for lack of options, a sad pair of soft, black-leather wedge heels.

Once upon a time they were nice shoes. They really were. I bought them retail, for chrissake. But they’ve stretched so much that I cannot keep the heel on my foot. Every few paces I step right out of the shoe, crushing the back to an even more unrecognizable state. Walking in these shoes is a bit of an adventure.

And the hat, felt, with a droopy brim and a tie at the side, is very gamine, very 20’s. It’s exactly the kind of hat I would wear to look longingly through the window of a dark shop at the locket I had to sell in order to buy a loaf of bread and some milk for the baby.

I went to see the Tennessee Williams play "Summer and Smoke", in the West End. How was it you ask? Imagine spending two hours listening to British people try to speak in a posh Mississippi Delta drawl. It’s like listening to myself speak French. It was a train wreck, but at least it was expensive. And long.

At last the play was over. I put on my hat, my fur-collared coat, and dove into the night to shuffle my way back to the hotel. My path from the theater to the hotel leads directly through Soho, a hip neighborhood with a seedy undercurrent. The aesthetic could be described as Boystown meets Amsterdam.

A quick digression about London’s Soho:

Once I was in Soho in the afternoon, running some errand for my boss. It is rather quiet during the day, devoid of people. The red lights of the porn shops seem somewhat less menacing, the bars and restaurants less snobby and hip. I walked by an open door with a beaded curtain and a barely dressed lady. She was standing with her eyes wide, leaning against the doorframe with her hip jutted out. She was, however, rather portly, with a mess of frizzy black hair and a sneery mouth. I was unimpressed with her, honestly. I figured the establishment that employed her must be rather down-market, even for a whorehouse.

Later that night I found myself back in Soho, walking down the same street. Now the neighborhood had come alive. Every street was crawling with people looking for a good time, and merchants hoping to provide it for them. I happened to walk by the very same open door, with the very same beaded curtain, only now with a different lady. And she was quite lovely, actually—thin, with gorgeous Mediterranean curls and big brown eyes and a sweet mouth. I realized that the woman I had seen earlier must have been the day whore. The day whore! Get your minds around that, fair readers.

But anyway, back to the story.

So, it was in Soho that I found myself last night after the play, shuffling along, alone in my bad shoes, trying not to convert the amount I spent on the ticket into dollars, trying not to hear, “But now I can feel the Gulf Wind a-blowin’ in from the south” buzzing in my ear like a trapped fly. I was walking rather absent-mindedly, when I looked around and realized that I turned on an empty street. There was no one to be seen, anywhere. I could hear the merry-making swelling out from the bars and restaurants, but it seemed far away. I drew in a breath. The muscles in my back tightened. That’s when a man in a grey track suit and a shock of black hair approached me, hissing:

“Hey lady, want some crack?”

I shook my head without making eye contact. I drove my hands into my pockets. I turned the corner, retreating. I walked a few steps with my head down. I listened for his footsteps behind me—I heard nothing. I turned my head to see if he was there, and I saw him turn in the other direction. I exhaled. I relaxed. I watched his black hair disappear from view.

I exited Soho and continued my journey back to the hotel under the Christmas lights of Regent Street. Commerce shined out proudly from behind plate glass. I felt safe, and angry. Crack? Crack? Do I look like I want Crack?!! I’m wearing a dress for crying out loud!! I’m wearing stockings!! People who smoke crack don’t wear stockings!!

But then, the camera of my mind’s eye zoomed out and I saw myself, in my 1920’s hat, my fur-collared coat, hobbling at a snail’s pace through the windy streets of Soho, stopping every two paces to mutter a curse and pull at the back of my left shoe. I realized—I looked exactly like a crazy person. I looked like an eccentric alcoholic. I look like the kind of person who may be looking for crack.

Mother, aren’t you proud?

Monday, November 20, 2006


Here’s a funny story:

It was a morning like any other. I had woken up in my posh hotel room, breakfasted with the boss-man in his Titanic-like suite, and been driven to location. It was a particularly early day, I remember, a Monday, and perhaps I was still a bit bleary eyed, holding two coffees and the day’s script pages, as I headed into the makeup trailer to run lines. I opened the door, probably spilled some coffee, probably apologized to someone, cracked a joke of some kind, maybe didn’t notice anything strange at first. But then, there it was, without any question:

A real, live Spanish man was standing in the corner of the makeup trailer, getting his ass airbrushed.

He was my boss’s ass-double. There was to be a brief tushie-shot in one of the day’s scenes, and my boss had requested a double. He did not want to use his own ass, you see. So they found this man, a cyclist, a Spaniard, as I said, and he just stood there, trousers at his ankles, leaning against the trailer wall. They needed to get the ass-color right--for continuity purposes.

The head makeup artist is Scottish. She screamed from across the trailer:

“He’s gone too orange, Jan. You got his bum done up like a basketball.”

The poor guy. This was his big break.

And the saddest part is, they didn’t even end up using him or his ass in the shot. When push came to shove, my boss decided to use his own ass after all. I caught up with the Ass Double at lunch. He was looking kind of dejected. I tried to reassure him that there was nothing wrong with his ass, but he seemed unconvinced.

“Oh well,” he sighed. “Maybe next time.”

Yes. I assured him that the next time my boss is in London in need of an ass-double, he will be the first person I call. I took his info and patted him on the shoulder. He walked away with his jacket potato and his broken spirit.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Cool and crisp and bright. It is the kind of day that tastes like apples and smells like leaves and sounds like football and friendship.

What a day.

Weather is one thing that binds city dwellers. Weather and streets and government. But on a day like today, one can walk in a beautiful city park, one can feel the sun on one's face, the leaves underfoot. One can stroll along, passing others who do the same. Weather makes us neither older nor younger, richer nor poorer, blacker nor whiter than anyone else. Weather like today's makes us all one thing: lucky to be alive and breathing and sentient enough to experience a day like today.

I sit, sipping tea at Harrods. It's a bit overrated, if I may say so. It has nothing on the park.

(This was written yesterday. I meant to post last night when I got back from the pub, but instead I just ordered room service and passed out watching Gladiator. Are you not amused? It struck me that being a Gladiator is not unlike being a standup comic. First you work small town clubs until you make a name for yourself. Then you bust into the big city and kill! Same thing, no?)

Friday, November 17, 2006


Imagine if you were a pilgrim, living in the UK. You have no sense of irony. You don't drink or smoke or shag. You walk around in a funny hat talking very seriously about Jesus and Asceticism.

Of course the Brits are going to make fun of you! Earnestness? How very un-English! Be banish-ed forever you bad time Charlies! You lot--to the Mayflower! We're going to the pub without you!!!

I will be spending Thanksgiving here, in London. I will be missing my 10-year high school reunion. If anyone from Highland Park High School is reading this, please impart to my classmates that I am very thin and happy and successful beyond my wildest dreams. And also that I am skinny. And rich. And slim. And content in my relationship. And that I am slender.

Please also say that I never think about high school.

And that I'm really very svelt.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I have befriended the on-set nurse. She has saved me from boredom-related head-bashing these few weeks because she is the only one on set that does less than I do. It's quite wonderful, really. We stand around playing "Would you rather" and making faces behind the back of the mean third AD, and generally have a lovely time. I told her of my blog and she was rather miffed that she had not been mentioned. I promised to write her a poem to make it up to her. Here goes:

Morag Morag is lesbian gold
So I'm told
By her

You're welcome.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Back in London and all is well.

Greg and I parted in Paris (trĂ©s melodramatic, non?), and he ran off to the former Soviet Bloc to have adventures of his own (see his blog: gsedwards.blogspot.com). Now that I am comfortably re-installed at Claridge’s, I am considering two possible reactions to our separation:

1. I could go downstairs to the bar and drown my sadness in a series of cleverly named cocktails.

2. I can rejoice in the knowledge that now that I am undistracted by love and happiness and various other boring things, I can report on some of the more humorous events that occurred while he was here and I was neglectful of you, loyal readers.

I have chosen the latter because I can’t be asked to change out of my pajamas. Oh Happy Day! No need to applaud, I can’t hear you anyway.

Tonight the first of these stories: THE TALE OF THE DEFECTIVE GARTER BELT.

Greg and I had been apart for three weeks and I wanted to greet him with something special when he arrived in London. I wanted something classy with just the slightest whiff of the Dutch whore. I decided to buy a pair of thigh-highs and a garter belt.

I found the garter belt at a tiny lingerie shop on Portabello Road. It was rather edgy—the clasps attached to the belt, not with lace or elastic, but with strings of shiny blue beads. On the day of Greg’s arrival, I rolled on the nylons, attached the beaded clasps, covered up with a more or less respectable frock, and set out to pick up my boyfriend from London Heathrow, feeling very naughty.

During the one-block walk from the hotel to the tube station, the string of beads on the back of my left leg broke off the belt. There was no sound—no POP or TWING or RIP. The only reason I noticed at all is that I felt the beads bouncing off the back of my knee. The beads were still attached to the stocking, you understand, and the stocking was drooping. I kept praying that no one could see the blue beads creeping out from under my dress as I hurried towards the platform. And then, just as I arrived and equally noiselessly, the second strand of beads on my left leg popped off the belt.

Down went my stocking, slumping to just above my knee. The beads hung down to mid-calf. There was nowhere to go—the platform was crowded with people. Suddenly it seemed that every child and elderly person in England was waiting for the Piccadilly line. I surreptitiously hiked the stocking up as best I could and tried holding it up by squeezing my legs together. The effort went unrewarded. The train pulled into the station and I walked penguin-style onto the train. The beads were practically at my ankles. There was not a seat to be had. I stood there, staring straight ahead, as I felt my left stocking creeping lower and lower and lower down my leg, pulled by two strands of shiny blue beads. I pretended not to notice. I tried reciting the Greek alphabet to myself. I closed my eyes and thought of starving people.

I arrived at Heathrow an hour later with two thigh-high stockings and two strings of beads in my purse, still wearing the belt with the two strands of beads on the right swinging along with each stride.

Greg was happy to see me.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


My heart is a bit full as I prepare to bid farewell to my lover today. Paris is as beautiful as I remember it--lacy and dark and gothic and chic. It is a very serious city. Everyone in black and smoking. "I am too chic for cancer" they seem to be saying, although I don't think that cancer cares about fashion.

Better not to tell them that.

Yesterday we had one of the best meals I've ever had at a basque restaurant on the left bank. There was so much animal fat on the table, I could imagine some blonde, LA aerobics-instructing, actress wanna-be taking one look at our lunch and fainting on the spot. Mmm. That may have made the meal that much better.

Tonight I'm back in London then back on set for more movie making magic (ie: drinking tea and making fun of the extras). Le sigh....

Thursday, November 09, 2006


It is a miracle of Hannukkah-like proportions that we made it here. We flew here last night, after racing from set to the airport train. Moments after we boarded, we spilled a full handbag-sized bag of trail mix onto the floor of the train, and no amount of foot-powered shoe sweeping on Gregory's part seemed to diminish the mess. There were cranberries and brazil nuts and raisins and pecans all the way up and down the length of the suburban rail car. When we finally arrived at the airport stop, I was so happy to escape the disapproving gaze of our fellow (British) travellers that I exited the train WITHOUT MY BAG. When I realized my blunder I screamed dramatically, "SHIT! MY BAG!!" and stuck my arm into the closing train door. And for a few beats I just stood there, waving my arm at the very same commuters who, just moments before, had happily bid adieu to what they imagined would be all of my body parts. Finally Greg pressed some kind of button, I ran in and grabbed my bag, smiled winningly at the now horrified travellers, and went on my way.

On the shuttle bus to the terminal, I said to Greg, "It's amazing we've made it this far." "Don't jinx us," he replied, then promptly banged his head on a metal pole.

After riding on every train, plane, bus and subway in Europe we finally made it to our hotel. What a dump. The place smells like strawberry cleanser and sweat. There is no bathroom on our floor, and the bed looks like a nice place wait out heroin withdrawal. But there is a small terrace and a view of Sacre Cour from our room, and I am more than happy to concede a few comforts for that.

Ah, Paris. I am so happy to see you again.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


1. Sausage
2. Beat-up car
3. Slutty girl
4. Ugly girl
5. Really good song
6. Really good party
7. Loud Firework (Thanks, Vicki. Please see comment)

Any more? Seriously, England, this is the best you can do? There are other words, you know.

Sorry I've been a bit MIA. Greg is in town and we have been doing touristy things like mooning the guards at Buckingham palace. More to come...

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I am sitting in the lobby of my hotel. It is beautiful, of course, with a huge chandelier and a dramatic staircase. Wealthy people mill about, layered and posturing, wandering from the dining room to the bar to the street. There is the soft gallop of expensive men’s shoes and the anxious tick of high heels on marble. A fire is blazing and I sit underdressed in a leather chair, thinking of love.

I hear the unmistakable twang of a drunken American accent. I wonder if the English feel as crowded by their own countrymen when they visit the states as I do here, in London. I see and hear us everywhere—not embarrassingly, not unassimilated, but unambiguously American as we ask for the bill and say things like, “proper” and “quid” and “knackered”.

I had a quiet night last night: I ordered up a fancy sandwich and went for a run in the gym. Vicki (Surely my three readers are familiar, by now, with dear Vick) was in the neighborhood with her friend Paddy, and his wife. I met them for a drink in the hotel bar. I came, as I said, having just worked out, and I felt young and healthy and American. If my mood had a soundtrack it would have been a Beach Boys song about a car. Vicki and crew, conversely, were approaching the end of a long night of unbridled debauchery. Vicki was so drunk that she put her cigarette out in a bowl of nuts. Paddy decided that my being American was both sad and hilarious, and that nothing is funnier than the way I say, “Europe”. His wife was quite embarrassed. She pulled Paddy from the bar, but not before making him apologize to me for being an arse. I felt like I was Paddy’s kindergarten teacher and I had just caught him writing unpleasant things about me on the underside of the slide.

In other words, what a fun night!

That’s what I get for going sober to a drunk event. I’m old enough to know better.

I awoke this morning to utter darkness. The power had gone out in the whole hotel and I felt like I was in the Blitz. I kept listening for bomb sirens and “The Andrews Sisters”.

They’ve put more wood in the fire now. I wish I still smoked. Then I could sit here with a cigar and scandalize the other guests.

Gregory comes on Saturday night and I am sick with anticipation. Time seems to be dragging its feet like a petulant child. I do hope the huge pimple on my forehead goes away before Greg arrives.

What am I, fourteen?!