Well, my darlings,

A whole year has gone by and I have to get back on the blogging horse. I can't think of a better theme for this year than "SHOCKED!" First, I'm shocked that I'm still in Los Angeles and second, I'm shocked on a daily basis that I want to stay . . . so here was 2009 in a shocking nutshell.

1. Catering 

I can thank my various catering gigs for all of my encounters with the rich and famous . . . yes, I'm still doing that stuff . . . and happily. It's the perfect bread and butter job because you make the schedule, the hourly rates are usually pretty good, and let's face it, the bread and butter is reeeeaaaaallly delish!

Mr. V and the Underground Conservative Hollywood Group

This experience was shocking on many levels. I'll be the first to admit that my circle is pretty limited to card-carrying, Commie-leaning liberals with an occasional conservative thrown in for fun, spirited debate, and ridicule. Maybe that's closed-minded of me but the point is that given my politically homogeneous social circle, I was ill-prepared for what I encountered that night. It was a large gathering of Hollywood conservatives. First of all, who knew there were any Hollywood conservatives??!! (shock #1). I don't remember what they were celebrating. It might have been a fundraiser for the hotly contested Senate race in Minnesota between Al Franken and what's-his-name. It might have been a fundraiser for the organization itself. Who knows but my eyes were forced open that night when I heard someone deny the veracity of global warming (shock #2), someone state proudly that the "Jesus Christ of my understanding drives around in a Mercedes Benz" (shock #3), and someone else refer to her three and four year-old children as "little patriots" (shock #4).

The crowd was actually very nice (shock #5). Anyway, I had no intention of letting my politics interfere with my serving skills, especially since I had been given the assignment of serving the guest of honor's table. So I arrived promptly with my first dish--two giant bowls of green beans. (Everything was being served family-style.) As I leaned over to deposit one of the bowls on a corner of the table, I felt two hands grab me around the waist (shock #6) . . . and not let go (shock #7) . . . even after I tried to wriggle my way free (shock #8). Finally I turned around to see shock #9 . . . the guest of honor himself leering down at me. The entire table and the woman standing next to him (friend? girlfriend? wife? assistant?) stared at him . . . yes, shocked! All of this led to shock #10 . . . the guest of honor didn't return to the table . . . ever. That, actually, was more of a relief than a shock.

Yes, you know this man.

Mr. P's House

You know it's going to be a good catering night when you're handed a confidentiality agreement the minute you step through the door. Let's just say that most of Black Hollywood was there. My task was to greet the guests at the door with drinks. One young woman, possibly a superstar I didn't recognize or part of a superstar's posse, took a glass of champagne from me and said in a conspiratorial whisper, "Ya'll got some fried chicken up in here?" And the shocking answer to this question was, of course, "Yes! It's over on the buffet table right between the waffles and the gumbo." If you aren't aware, chicken 'n' waffles is the thang out here. Decadent, my friends, decadent! Only do it once or twice in your life because your arteries won't ever forgive you but definitely do it.

The woman's chicken question and, in fact, the mere presence of fried chicken 'n' waffles at this exclusive party really humanized these superstars for me. And even more humanizing was watching Ms. W and her friend (you know both of them) try to navigate the myriad stairs in their giant stilettos. Eventually, Ms. W took hers off and handed them to the security guard. Then she ran up and down the stairs in the flip flops she just happened to have with her as she yelled for the host. The house wasn't huge but for some reason they couldn't find each other. So at one point she was screaming for him on the third floor while he was screaming back from the first floor. Her friend, however, never took her stilettos off and spent most of the night with both hands on the railings, inching up and down one stair at a time. As a woman who likes to wear heels, I can totally relate! Nobody, even superstars, can walk in stilettos and everyone, even superstars, likes fried chicken! Shocking!

2. The People

I went out with Craig and Jessie one night after acting class. We went to a well-known deli called Jerry's where I ordered tea . . .

Berda: I'd like some peppermint tea, please.

Server: We don't have peppermint.

Berda: Okay. I'll take anything without caffeine.

Server: We have orange, lemon, chamomile, and mint.

Berda: Uh . . . the mint, please?


Also, I was pleasantly shocked when Sean yelped (www.yelp.com) and found a thrift store on Sunset that is run by ANOTHER BERDA! The store is called Berda Paradise (ha!) and the proceeds help support the Hollywood Free Clinic. Berda is in her 70's and very cool. She said her mother named her after a character in a book.

3. The Zohar

A friend of mine recommended a naturopathic doctor to me since I'm almost finished with Western medicine. We spent the session chatting about my health, background, etc. Naturopaths ask lots of questions so we ended up on the subject of religion. If you don't know that I'm a half-black Jew, now you do. The naturopath brightened up when I said that. He turned to his assistant who was busy taking notes and said, "She's the winner for the day." He got up and went over to a giant stack of large, heavy boxes and gave me one to take home. It's part of the Kabbalah called the Zohar. It's twenty-three volumes! My roommate, C-Money, asked me if it was an encyclopedia. I decided to teach myself the Hebrew alphabet and can now sound out each word very, very, very badly and very, very, very slowly. Of course, I have no idea what I'm saying.

4. The Biz

I did a postcard mailing saying that I wanted commercial representation and was called into an agency. Some agencies here have "open call" days where you and a bunch of other people are invited to audition. I arrived early, memorized the commercial copy that was waiting for us in the hallway, and waited. At 11am sharp the assistant brought us all into the office and told us to stand in a semi-circle around her. Thus began our group interview. She asked us about ourselves in front of the group and then auditioned us in front of the group. Shocking! It was the worst audition experience I've had in a long time. A beautiful, long-haired cat wandered in and out of the room, disdainfully eying us. "More actors?" They did not call me back which was a relief. Craig put it well when I told my acting class about the experience, "Better out than in!"

And on a non-shocking but blog-worthy note, my acting class is finishing up our project. For a preview visit:


6. Agents

But another postcard mailing yielded a great theatrical agent! Shocking!!!! His name is Joe and he's on the ball. His agency is young and he's got fire. He has actually said to me more than once, "Please, call me! I love it when my clients call me!"  All together now . . . shocking!


And occasionally agents do find  you. The Pinkerton/Morgan Commercial agency contacted me via LA Casting and suddenly I have a commercial agent as well. ??!!


And now for the most shocking part of the blog . . . and the part you know you're all waiting for . . . (drum roll) . . .

7. Dating, etc.

Someone I only know through e-mail set me up on a blind date with one of his friends. My rule is that I have to go out at least once with the person. Obviously, there are exceptions but generally I agree to go. This guy was a doctor who specialized in arthritis. Interesting. He said he could read my palm. Less interesting. And then we played a game and he told me my psychological profile afterward. Even less interesting. At the end of the date, he walked me to my car and just happened to put both hands on my ass when he hugged me goodbye. Our text messages to each other the next day went something like this . . .

Ass grabber: Had a great time last night.

Berda: Me too until you put your hands on my ass when you said goodbye. Delete my number.

Ass grabber: What do you mean? If I did that it wasn't intentional. Let's go out again and I'll make it up to you.

Berda: Absolutely not. Delete my number and learn some respect.

Ass grabber: I will. And you take a chill pill.

The shocking thing about this story . . . wait! Maybe I should change the title of this blog to "Grabbed!" Anyway, the shocking thing about this story isn't just that he grabbed my ass. It's that I had had the same conversation with someone else a few weeks earlier! My friend Tania and I went to a birthday party in the lobby of a swanky hotel. We weren't terribly impressed with the two guys we ended up talking to. One of them insisted on a group hug before we left their company. Yes, he was drunk. Anyway, I felt a little pat on the behind during the group hug. Ugh. So he had to be told off too. Shocking! 

Then there was the saga of poor Mr. 180 who cried in my living room while declaring that we should "think long-term" and one short month later almost cried while declaring "I don't see us going long-term."  I should have been shocked but I wasn't. I was relieved.

And that sums up 2009, my dear friends! Please write and tell me what you're up to! Miss you all. Best wishes for a smashing 2010!



Jan with some fantastic lemonade at Hot Dog on a Stick in Santa Monica


 Santa Monica landscaping

A the Hollywood Bowl waiting to see Janelle, Chaka Khan, and Adelle

Tania at the Hollywood Bowl

Another Berda!

Bartending at the annual HBO party

C-Money at a public park in the Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills coy

Monsieur Robert Beaucage practicing his sock puppet moves

Birthday celebration with Kenny, Jack, and Tania

 Birthday on Venice Beach (it was kind of cold)

At the Downtown Artwalk

(blurry) Holiday lights at Paramount