On Wednesday, I’ll be winging it out to Los Angeles for about 2 months to look for journalism/media work. I’ll be subletting a place from a young actor who will be setting up shop for 6 months in NYC to star as Happy in “Death of a Salesman” opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman on Broadway. Mike Nichols will be directing. After a few starts and stops with dealing with sublets on Craigslist, I found Finn and Sarah’s place, had it checked out by one of my dearest, most trusted friends, and after getting his thumb’s up, I went for it.
To me, at this stage in my life, subletting an apartment is a big chance. Yes, it seems small to someone who’s had an easy go of it, but for me, right here-right now, it’s HUGE.
However, in the past, I have taken huge chances — and — surprise, surprise — risk taking has worked out well for me. Hard to believe, eh? Yeah, it’s hard for me to believe at this point in time too. I do this thing, see, this thing where I look back on my past experiences and remember them as being purely awful and disastrous. Funny I think that way considering they weren’t … maybe it’s the fear and gnawing anguish I felt that made them seem tantamount to drinking hemlock. The fear of miserable failure perhaps. The worst is remembered — not the joy felt by someone who eventually succeeds. And succeeds BIG.
So, here’s an edited list of the chances I took. The successful ones. Wait, all of the big chances I took were successes. Imagine that…they really were. I’m still getting used to the concept of McCrabass succeeding.
1) Sweet 16 in the land of Jerry Lewis worshippers- It was scary but oh so fun, and I learned to worship Reblechon cheese and the French language. Yep. Look it up. That summer I was introduced to Flaubert and Beckett. Need I say more? Oh, and I learned the French reallllly love Barbra Streisand. (thanks to my little sister, Catherine Shandler, for reminding me of this time — she inspired me to write this post.)
2) Westward, ho! Hey, when your parents say you MUST GO TO COLLEGE BUT WE’LL PAY FOR IT, you take advantage of it and go to the unfamiliar, the distant, the strange. Well, LA wasn’t that unfamiliar: Older sister Liza and two of my cousins, Jane and Caroline, were out at Occidental College so I had ventured out there a few times. I didn’t decide on Oxy though, I wound up at USC. Turned out to be a big mistake, which takes us to chance #3.
3) Left USC for UW/Madison — mid-year — mind you. Transferring mid-year just isn’t done, young turks. Yeah, I was desperate to get the hell outta LA and far away from the ultra-conservative, ultra-Greek USC. Gag. So not a good fit for the tough-to-mold McCrabass. So, I took a huge leap of faith and ended up at a school I had never even visited.
Hot damn, I got lucky because I fell in love with Madison. How could one NOT get the warmies for Madtown?
Or my personal fave …
Who knew that once I set foot on campus that I would have to study? Something that wasn’t exactly encouraged at USC at the time. At Wisconsin, I studied Film, African languages and politics, and psychology. My first love was film, and what happened with that love affair is explained next.
4) Westward, ho part deux. Shit howdy — talk about wingin’ it. I had maybe one contact out there, but I worked that contact over like an old French whore. I was the networking queen and that skill kept me employed in the business for about 11 years plus another 2 or so back in Chicago. But, before we get back to Chicago (you knew it was coming), let’s chat about McCrabass in LA. I worked on movies. Lots of them. I made lots of friends — many of whom I’m still in contact with today. I had some serious relationships — one ended up in an engagement which eventually went south, one ended up with my friend Lisa dumping my recent ex’s CD player on the floor of his condo whilst helping me move out, then mimicking “Roseanne”: “I hate myself for that.”
Then there’s the Lump (affectionately nicknamed by David B), and a couple of decent fellas I managed to run off or who managed to turn out to be choads. In short, the LA-based McCrabass Man Pile is quite large.
5) Sweet Home Chicago. The last few years in LA, Ursula kitteh and I were fearless but that made us weary so we packed up the Honda and headed east — to the wilds of west suburban Illinois then into Chicago — where I dove into film teaching, improv training, marriage, journalism graduate school, journalism employment, then soul-sucking unemployment and other, tawdry various forms of humiliation which I have discussed here previously. I’ve been here for about 11 years, and most of my professional tenure here has been a right pig fuck of a disaster. The upside of this chance was I got to be with my family and that has been wonderful — worth the humiliations. They’re my rock, part of my soul and I wouldn’t be splayed on the floor in the middle of the night, banging out this post if it weren’t for them and their unending love and support.
Now, these days, things are different. A new chance has to be taken because Chicago is dead to inexperienced, but older than the normal newbie journos like me. No one wants to hire the older, way smart broad with tons of life experience. They want to hire young and clueless. Fine. Go for it. I just don’t need to witness the bad crap while freezing my tits off. I’ll do that in LA, thankyouverymuch.
6) Everything old is new again. On the 11th around 2pm, I’ll be cruising down the freeway heading toward my sublet, and with each minute I’m in LA taking in my new life there, something from my past LA life will come creeping into my mental Rolodex. It’ll be up to me to decide whether or not to file it or trash it. I’ll probably end up using some of it to enhance this chance I’ve been given. I’ll treat them as blessings, a lesson but one thing I’ve already realized–I’ll never go home again.