The Space Alien
I was at Vons buying groceries, and when I wrote the cashier a check, she noticed my old Northern California address. “What are you doing in LA?” she asked.
I internally grimaced and mustered a, “Trying to act.”
She guffawed and said, “Good luck with that.” She looked at me like I was a particularly pathetic sub-species, and I struggled with middle class snobbery, wanting to say something like, “Well, what are you trying to do? Really own the question “paper or plastic?”
Her remark only gets to me because I agree with her, and I’ve only been in LA for two months. I was always cautiously optimistic, bordering on openly pessimistic, about moving to LA. Telling friends and family you want to be an actor is continually heartbreaking. They ask what your plans are, and when you say “actor” you can see them hear “waitress.”
Leading up to the move, especially during my college graduation party, I had many a witticism in rotation. “I know, it’s like saying you want to be a space alien, the odds are about the same.” Or I would just follow “actor” with a disclaimer, “I’m not going to wait tables all my life.” If you tell people you want to write and act they usually muster up more enthusiasm: writers can always morph into other steady, bankable careers.
Still I moved. I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for most of my life; there’s only so much fun you can have in a bar filled with your ex-boyfriends. I prepared for the move intelligently, watching hours of Entourage and The Hills. When I first exited off the 101, I pumped the jams (The Knife, “Heartbeats”) and tried to make eye contact with nearby drivers, internally screaming, “Take notice. I’m here to conquer.” Behind their tinted windows and Gucci shades, they didn’t acknowledge the momentous occasion. Instead they honked when the light turned green and I failed to accelerate at the proper rate. I now know that the LA honk is not a violent act of anger but more an energetic squeal, greeting the green light. That first day I drove with a constant adrenaline high, attempting to keep up with the LA drivers and their aggressive lane changes and refusal to acknowledge yellow lights.
I turned onto Sunset and made my way to Marmont Lane, home of my grandmother. Marmont Lane is also home to the Chateau Marmont, home of celebrities. As I turned, Ryan Seacrest darted out of the Chateau’s parking lot and cut me off in his convertible. I knew then that I really was in LA. Previously Ryan Seacrest had existed only in a distant morass of mind rotting TV. I ignored the implications of suddenly belonging in the same world as Mr. Seacrest and took it as a sign that things were really happening for me. Don’t worry. I did give him a dirty look.