Friday, October 26, 2007

Feathering My Nest

Diane left on the Tuesday and my daughter, Mia, arrived the next day. Just enough time to grab a shower, wash the sheets, tidy up and do a food shop. Not that there was much tidying to do as Diane is a low-maintenance guest—the best kind. Mia isn’t as tidy as Diane, but is most welcome, nonetheless. We’re having a wonderful mother/daughter bonding time.

Mia and I play tennis every day, then swim in the pool. I am so proud of myself that I’ve only had one minor nag about her smoking cigarettes and drinking Diet Coke. “Not enough for you that I’ve stopped drinking and doing drugs, eh?” she replied. Progress not perfection, as they say in 12-step programs. It’s been frustrating, indeed irritating (for me), that Mia is allergic to something in the apartment. Frustrating because I took such care that the couch and bed linen are feather-free (the worst allergen). Irritating because you’d have to be a saint not to be at least mildly bothered by someone constantly sneezing, sniffing and blowing their nose in your space (although I notice that I haven’t been as bothered by it as I was when she was growing up). Out of compassion for her discomfort, I begged her to take an anti-histamine. “It’s a good drug, honest,” I said. Mia suggested the cushions might be duck feather. “No way,” I said, “this is a feather-free zone.” She wasn’t convinced so I unzipped the cover dramatically and pulled out the cushion. And with it, a few duck feathers. Oops. They’ve been banished to our bedroom. The only bedroom.

I have a plan for Christmas when both Max and Mia will be here. Max will sleep on the couch and Mia on the chaise-longue. It’ll only be for a few days. A chum is going to France for Christmas, so Max and Mia can stay in her apartment up the road. So lucky. Then I noticed that Mia also sneezes when she sits on the chaise-longue. She swapped places with Colin at telly time. He also started sneezing and sniffing. What is it with people and their allergies? This is maddening. There are absolutely no feathers in the chaise. It’s exactly the same as the couch. Now I sit there, because I’m the only one it doesn’t make sneeze. Which is going to create a problem at Christmas. The chaise is short, so Max and his 6’4” frame won’t be able to sleep on it.

The high drama of the last few days has been the fires in Malibu Canyon. Sister Julia lives in the next canyon, Topanga, and was evacuated. In keeping with our great family luck, a friend has a spare house in Santa Monica that Julia, Arthur, Marley and Muttley could stay at, because there’s no room at our inn. Although at one time I thought they would be staying here and we had a plan for two blow-up mattresses with Muttley on the balcony. I felt like I was starring in A Family At War.

There was enough time for her to pack a small bag and some crucial documents: passports, the deeds to the house and proof of car ownership. Julia said she didn’t care about possessions and doesn’t have any valuables as she doesn’t wear jewelry. The next day, I suggested she might like to get her guitars, her gold discs and photo albums. Arthur promptly went off to get them just as the authorities decided it was safe for residents to return, so they all went back.

Mia and I just did a happy dance. Max’s visa has come through. He can live here for three years, longer if he can get another American company to sponsor him, or a nice American lady to marry him—preferably one with a trust fund. Mia is so happy for him, but says the day he leaves England will be a dark one for her. I had hoped he’d be here for Thanksgiving, though he says he won’t be able to get his act together before Christmas. It looks like he’ll travel here with Mia in December and never leave. Gulp. He said that, while waiting for his visa to come through (bearing in mind there’s always a chance the application would be rejected), he felt like he was in a queue waiting for his life to begin. He has a wonderful way with words. He once wrote to Colin thanking him for being the captain of my heart. Love that boy. I must stop calling him a boy. He’s a man. 28.

Max was leaving his local pub the other night when the barmaid called out: “Good night, Julian.” He paused and wondered why she had called him Julian. “Because that’s your name,” she said. When he first started going there he was asked if Max was short for anything. He replied (thinking this was amusing): “Julian.” He checked and it seems everyone there thinks he’s called Julian. I’m not sure how well he’s going to fit into American society. Yanks aren't famous for their grasp of irony.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

I drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to meet with Mary McGuckian, who has optioned Plus One. I decided to drive and not fly as I've driven there before on a girls' road trip and had a great time, probably because I wasn't driving. On my first drive there with my sister, Julia, her manager Lori and Lori's girlfriend, Joan, our first bet had been how long would it take us to get there? Four hours and 28 minutes was the answer and I won the $40 in the kitty. No wonder I have such fond memories.

Husband Colin and Julia both thought I was making a terrible mistake in driving there on my own, as I am prone to getting lost, but I had Mapquested it and was supremely confident. I telephoned Colin every 20 minutes and shouted: “Bored.” It’s one long, tedious road and none of my radio stations worked. I only got lost twice. I’ll wager thousands of people before me have ended up in Barstow en route to Vegas from Los Angeles. That was stressful enough, but not as stressful as being lost in Vegas itself and gagging for a pee. I pulled into the hotel with the pirate theme and made full use of their facilities before being pointed in the direction of the Renaissance Hotel.

Mary McG was thoroughly immersed in shooting her latest movie about couples going to Vegas in search of IVF, or A.R.T. in Las Vegas, as it will be called. As the producer, director and writer, she had much to deal with, including an issue with the Teamsters’ union that threatened to shut down production for some minor confusion with the drivers. You don’t mess around with those Teamsters or you could wake up with a horse's head in your bed, but Mary handled everything with great aplomb and serenity and quickly defused the situation. The cast and crew were also mad, crazy busy, so there was much hanging around for me with nothing to do but admire these people who work 18-hour days without complaint. Mary was working 20-hour days. I kid you not.

She had 40 seconds to talk with me in between takes and invited me to run with her from the production office up to room 1503 where they were shooting the next scene. Enough time for her to ask me what I thought about her idea to make two films, one a film about the making of Plus One, a sort of mockumentary (if you will), with the actors playing the parts of the producers, etc., that would start shooting in Cannes next May. Then the actual film based on Plus One. Sounds like an excellent plan. Does that mean two checks for me?

We could have discussed it over the phone, but I’m glad I went all that way to hear it from her lips and see for myself that Mary McGuckian is the real deal. Look out for her film Intervention, due for release in November.

There's been little chance to enjoy quality time with myself before having to find further gainful employment, as I caught a heinous gastric flu from Colin just before my friend, Diane, flew in from the UK for a 10-day flying visit. I shall spare the gory details. Suffice to say, a high fever and much toilet paper was involved.

If you're still reading, you have Diane to thank for this blog ending sooner rather than later. Diane is something of a blog whiz ( and has advised me that my previous missives have been way too long and infrequent. She says readers quickly lose interest and move on to something else.

She also advised using photographs to spice things up. To this end, here is a photo of my feet after Diane and I enjoyed manicures, pedicures and massages at The Four Seasons Beauty Spa, courtesy of Diane’s ex-husband.

I could write another 800 words on our perfect day of pampering, but I wouldn’t want you to lose interest.

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