There was this weird six months a whole bunch of years ago when I did background acting and stand-in work on television shows, which is where I super-briefly met Harold Ramis of Ghostbusters (and a whole bunch of other stuff) fame. As it turns out, that was enough time to be incredibly sorry that he’s gone.
A pause in our story: There are a lot of not-normal things about that first paragraph. For one, background acting is a strange job that doesn’t exist in most parts of the country. Those are the people in a scene who don’t say lines. They’re the barista, the window washer, the other office worker in the elevator, etc. (Rant: Don’t call us “extras.” We aren’t “extra.” We are necessary. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be paid, unionized workers.) Being a stand-in isn’t any less weird. This is an off-camera job where you act out the scene without dialogue in place of the star so the camera and lighting guys can do their thing without bothering anybody famous. Like almost all the odd and/or vaguely dangerous things I have done in my life, I did it because I thought it could be useful for a book some day.
So this is how it came to be that Harold Ramis and I were on the same set of The Office. He was directing. I was dressed in head-to-toe pink and pretending to be a neonatal nurse. Read the rest of this entry »
The movers broke my desk in half. Literally, they broke it in half. The pieces, which they bothered to deliver to me, look like a fairy tale giant had a temper tantrum. I must assume it fell from a great height. Or the truck backed over it. Or somewhere between California and Wisconsin they had to use it to defend themselves against a charging herd of buffalo. No one seemed to know.
It was so ridiculous that it might be a little bit funny if it weren’t your desk. It was the first desk I had as a real-no-kidding-they-pay-me-and-everything author. Up until The Desk, I wrote on three folding TV trays that I lined up in the bedroom of our apartment, so an actual desk was no small move up in the world.
The incident with the buffalo herd, however, meant that, while I had an office for the first time in my author life, I had no desk to put in the office. If I weren’t the sort of person who believes the universe is governed by chaos and chance, which I am, I might think there was some sort of lesson here or maybe just an in joke. But rather than think on that too much, I bought another desk. In fact, I bought two because my husband and I share the office, and I have a pathological need for visual order and symmetry.
Take that buffalo-filled universe of Russian roulette!
Then I unpacked my reference books, went to line them up on my brand new desk and discovered the movers had broken the book ends.
I moved. To Wisconsin. (Yes, in January.)
Although perhaps one can’t properly say they’ve moved if they’re still living out of a hotel. Eloise made this sound like much more fun than it actually is. The sense of displacement is profound, and miniature shampoos and breakfast buffets with strangers only make it more so. There is also an effervescent sense of adventure and possibility and sheer newness that tickles under the skin, but one thing at a time.
I imagine this is what teleporting must feel like. One minute you know where you are and who everyone is and how everything works, and the next you’re somewhere else entirely with nothing close to enough time to adjust. It’s all flashing lights and swirling glitter and bam. You’re on the ice planet, and you’re not at all dressed for it.
(I assumed the first order of business would be to find a home. I was wrong. The first order of business was to buy warm boots.) Read the rest of this entry »