The 17th of February will be my official month-aversary here in LA. And this week of vacation has been pretty exciting. More people have called me crazy this week than in my entire life.

1. Driving

Yes, folks, I finally got on the freeway. What finally did it, you ask? I wish I could say it was guts but it wasn't. It was money. I was hired as a PA for the largest student film ever made probably. (More about that below.) The interesting thing about night freeway driving is the hypnotic effect of the reflectors and the lane lines. You laughed at my idea to stand while driving but . . . And it seems that California freeways are hideously under-lit. Since I'm still a little nervous on the freeway, I'm probably the only person who's thrilled about bumper-to-bumper traffic. Also I find I'm very comfortable in the slow truck lane even though I'm sure the truckers don't like it at all. When I was coming home from the set around 4am, however, I did manage to get Little Echo up to 70mph. She had to labor a little. She's not meant for racing. And this week marked a landmark event in my driving career--I had my first flat tire! On Valentine's Day Little Echo and I spent a lot of quality time together while the tire was being fixed (many thanks again to AAA). Not only did I have the fun of buying a tire but the mechanic asked me out. Even though I'm feeling much better behind the wheel, I still have no idea why people are so attached to their cars. I like Little Echo but she's expensive and inconvenient. She's like a child. I have to feed her, wash her, take her to the doctor, etc. And if anything goes wrong with her my whole day is completely shot. And in other driving news, I've become one of those people who sings in the car.
2. The People

Server: Would you like something to drink?

Berda: I'd like seltzer, please.

Server: I'm sorry, we only have club soda.

Berda: Um . . . that's fine.


3. Jobs

My work with Nathan The Used Book Seller fell through. He gave me some lame excuse about his sister coming into town and doing it for him. It turned out to be for the best because my friend Kenny (round of applause for Kenny) notified me of a student film set that needed production assistants. Most of you have a picture of guerrilla filming and no food when I mention the words "student film." But this student film . . . 20 minutes long . . . had a budget of 65K! It's called Acholiland and I urge you all to look at the preview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAnSvoFS7fc

 The sets were unbelievable. The first day, I arrived and walked into an Ugandan village of mud huts with thatched roofs. The next day, I walked into a rebel camp. The extras were an extremely difficult bunch of people but the crew were fun. They were amazed that I smiled through the most boring jobs and remained smiling on overnight shoots in 40 degree weather. "I'm just so happy not to be waiting tables!" I explained. "You're crazy," they said. "I'm not crazy, I'm on vacation!" I've also worked with the Wolfgang Puck Catering company. The first night was a black tie event for 800 people, thrown by a Catholic organization. A guy with his tie askew, reeking of whiskey, sitting at a table with 5 priests, grabbed my arm and slurred into my ear, "I'm looking for a Jesuit priest. Have you seen him? He's a Jesuit." I didn't have the heart to tell him that I wouldn't know a Jesuit priest if he slapped me . . . and in a room of 800 people . . .  Wolfgang Puck treats its staff very well. The captains are friendly and always say please and thank you. One captain, Alex, asked me to pull up tape from the ballroom floor and later thanked me for my excellent attention to detail. ??  The second event with Wolfgang Puck was manning a buffet table at one of the after-parties for the Grammy Awards. I wasn't in the VIP section so I didn't serve any stars. Instead, I was in the middle of a room that served 6,000 people. On the stage directly in front of me, Cindy Lauper was performing. (She ROCKS!) And on a stage directly behind me, a circus troupe was spinning fire, walking on stilts, and riding unicycles. So far LA seems to be run by people on walkie-talkies. Everyone on the AFI set had one and lot of us had them for the Grammy party.

4. Socializing

LA seems to be the land of single men . . . or at least men who are not afraid to ask for your number. So my date with the restaurant guy (a half Persian, half Armenian Jew) was fine. The dinner was very nice actually and he was interesting to talk to. He called me crazy for even entertaining the idea of being an actor. There were, however, a few red flags that went up during our conversation. For example: a) he's a Republican (sorry Sean) and hates social programs such as aid to the homeless b) smokes c) lives with his mother and will until he gets married or will until she passes away and d) wants to get married and have children RIGHT NOW!!!! Not to worry. I have another date coming up with one of the PA's who was working on the AFI film. So to all of my single women friends: get thee to LA.

5. The Roommates

Nice but anal. Aaron pulled me aside when he discovered that I had closed the window in my bathroom and said, "I really hate stuffy room smells so could you keep that window open?" It's a very male-dominated household. Elsa defers to him in everything. I asked her what they did over the weekend and she turned to Aaron for help with the question. And I asked them if they had a marriage date set and Elsa said loudly, "Aaron, did you hear that? She asked if we had a date set yet!" When Elsa was at work, Aaron explained that before he knew it, Elsa had moved all of her things in. But they're fun. We went to Pasadena and played pool. I beat both of them.

Off to a birthday party!

Love and miss you all!

 

Acholiland set

     Moon over Acholiland set 

Why am I catering?