Thursday, August 19, 2010



What do you do?
 No, really.

That’s what I used to tell them when they asked what I did for a living. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t. They’d all get that same look in their eyes. Like “WOW!” I’ve hit the jackpot. And telling them the truth that I was a model or a singer or a struggling photographer didn’t peak their interest the same way. It’s like telling a man you are a flight attendant. You can’t believe how he loves the idea of it. But somehow he does. Only for me it’s actress. So I became one.

At every reading I’m sure I’ve got every line wrong and stepped on everybody’s cues when he tells me how great I am. I think I’m a better singer, or photographer. Most of all the only reason he’s telling me I’m great is because he likes my face. A face that launched a thousand billboards. A recording contract. A movie. A place on TV. And that face saves me every time.

Monday morning I get in from a weekend in Napa. There was a wedding in a private vineyard near Yountville. I remember the smell in the air like it was a perfume clipping from a magazine. The memory stays with me all morning. All morning when I read Billboard instead of Variety and I call Inza for the next reading and she says she isn’t coming. I’m not really surprised since she broke up with Ava she hasn’t been focused on work. Since we broke up I’ve only focused on work. My agent keeps sending over this Dostoevsky based script that I’m not inclined to do. I’ve already expressed to my assistant that it’s “not fucking going to happen” but it keeps coming back to my desk. On my desk there’s a message from Jemma about the reading. She’s filling in for Inza and wants to know if I need a ride. I call her and say pick me up at four. We can have lunch. I swallow two Valiums and call Pierre for a hair appointment.

Pierre says swallow this and like it and I tell him not today. We’ve finished helping each other out in the most inventive ways. He tells me I’m a dramatic bitch and I can’t help but play along. He loves it when I need my hair done and I love it when he takes me on short notice. What I can’t help is that I’m almost the right shade of brown and my tan is finally fading out nice.

Lunch with Jemma proves to be interesting. She’s one of my favorite bit players on the set. There’s been no animosity between us since the beginning. Inza however can be childish. And jealous. Lunch with Jemma isn’t a ploy, but Inza will notice. Jemma loves white wine and salads. I can’t help but indulge her with this token meal. I want her to notice how much we are the same and how beautiful I am. The moment lasts for another few hours and we sync up at the reading. I can feel that magic when we kiss and I know that there’s more to this than I can imagine.

Tuesday brings the reveal on my campaign for Malcolm’s people at that tiny denim company. It’s an ad for jeans where I’m topless and blonde. It’s before the brown and after I had the tan. I think I have too many freckles. Jemma looks beautiful when she tells me they aren’t noticeable. I call my agent back to tell him about the spread when she gets into the shower. My assistant Kaya shows up with another pile of scripts that I keep sending back including the Dostoevsky, that I keep refusing on quality versus substance. It’s not the name that I’m refusing I’ve read the book; it’s that it’s a poorly crafted modern adaptation. I’ve told my agent on the line for the fifth time “I’m not fucking doing it”, when I notice that Jemma’s left and somehow last night didn’t matter to another person even though it mattered to me.

It’s 2:30 pm on Wednesday. I remember its Wednesday because at Noon Alexandr Reed’s assistant phones me up to remind me about my fitting in the San Francisco showroom next Tuesday. Alex will be back in town and ready to see me personally. It’s exactly at 2:30 that I’m having a breakthrough. This moment when all of it has clarity. I call my therapist and tell her about my breakthrough.
“Dr. Grant.” I speak into the line with a breath of anxiousness.
“Chloe. Weren’t you coming in on Friday?”
“Yes. But I need to talk for a minute. It’s alright you can bill me for this.”
“Go ahead.”
“None of them ever thought I was worth it in the end.”
“The lovers, the friends, the people I thought mattered most, didn’t stick around or fight for us because I didn’t matter to them… and”
“Chloe, calm down. Are you able to come in for a session today?”
“I don’t know.  I- I- I realize that Inza ended things because it’s easier to walk away when it doesn’t matter. And it’s this thing that hit me like a ton of bricks. And I can’t breathe.”
“I can prescribe something for the anxiety.”
“I don’t want any pills. Pills tie me up, keep me in a cage and leave me restless.”
“Chloe take a Valium and come in. We can talk. I’ll clear my afternoon.”
“Dr. Grant, I don’t want to come in. I’m fine. I can handle this. I just needed to talk. To tell someone. Anyone. And…”
“Alright Chloe, if you change your mind my secretary will fit you in. Take a Valium and relax.”
When she hangs up the phone I’m almost in tears. It feels like my therapist just gave me the brush off too. I take out my Prada bag and look for my silver pill box. Tiffany’s engraved with my initials. There they are. The tiny little calming agents. I get one out and toss it down the hatch. But I can’t swallow the pill. Just like this realization. It’s stuck in my throat. Hard feeling of tightness. The hot tears are present when I try to breathe. I can’t. But this is ok. At least I know I didn’t matter to her. And she doesn’t deserve me. She never did. All that time. This is the truth but saying it and thinking it won’t make the tears stop. I didn’t matter. Five years together and I don’t matter. Not enough to be out together. Even after Ava. Even now that she’s living with Grayson Cane and I’m stuck in our old place. It’s not even my taste. It’s this old Spanish looking thing that isn’t really Spanish. I think of how much I hate the carpet in the hall. And the pill goes down.

It’s 2:45 pm Thursday somewhere in Mulholland. There’s a party at Jimmy Jay-Jay and Monty Booth’s. Jimmy, he’s a friend of my agent… “FRED!” is the first person I see there. Jemma has brought a friend. He’s pretty high. But it doesn’t matter everyone is or will be. Jemma has been gushing about her callback for this guy that’s quasi-important. I’m not impressed by films with big names and little plotlines although they do make good money and launch careers. Jemma should be happy. I keep talking with her friend, Adrian whatever, who keeps asking about my job. I tell him actress slash model and he lights up, but doesn’t listen to the part about my photos and vocal work. He’s more concerned with my taking naked photos for Malcolm for the labels. It’s boring but he’s cute. I want to know more about Jemma and I think he knows more. I give him my number before they leave.

I’ve invited Jemma to this party with my friend Malcolm who directs music videos in addition to so much more. He’s very nice and very unavailable. Tonight this place belongs to some jet setter named Paul and the view is amazing. Not as nice as Frankie’s view. Frankie is a photographer friend. She looks and dresses like a man, and her place is at the top of this building. I love her place but it’s something out of a magazine. Malcolm tells us we’ll go upstairs in a bit. I’m inclined to go now. Frankie is dancing by the cappuccino machine telling that Adrian fellow about some drugs upstairs. She’s a raving lunatic but it’s all so charming and I always look amazing in her photos. Paul introduces Jemma to Grayson Cane before excusing himself. I’m laughing on the inside and decide I want to talk with Adrian more. I like his attitude. Frankie takes us upstairs and we’re having fun until it gets so boring. Malcolm leaves when no one is looking. Jemma leaves with Grayson. Adrian leaves. Frankie wants to do some lines and fuck. I start talking to someone before leaving with him.

Friday I’m leaving on a jet plane again. This time I’m not alone. There’s someone who possibly appreciates me. The somebody I met last night when I should have been calling Inza again. But I can’t help but wonder will it ever be in front of me again. Even if I have to turn around to see it, will I come face to face with it again? Or is it just like hitting the jackpot? One in every millions upon millions is a winner. Is that what they see when I tell them I’m an actress? It’s early on Friday and I have too many questions for this hour when the person next to me is asleep and I can’t help thinking all by myself.

It’s 3:22 pm at the corner of Fifth Avenue and somewhere when I call my therapist again. I can’t help feeling guilty for cancelling our session from 3000 miles away. Secretly I’m hoping that she’ll still talk with me. Not talk to me about this need to find validation through others but really talk to me. I think about cocktail parties and men that talk to women her age while the lunch time receptionist puts me on hold again. Then as I listen to the musak version of “Bring on the Dancing Horses” I look at the street sign that says don’t walk and I can’t remember ever wanting to walk more in my life. So I hang up the line and start walking. There’s no one moving ahead and no cars driving through the intersection. The world feels dead for exactly fifteen seconds and I reach the other side.

At a quarter past eight he gets up and lights a cigarette. We’ve just finished having sex when he tells me that there’s a woman watching us from the high rise across the street. She has a telescope and isn’t wearing a shirt he says and leans against the window. I roll over on my side and smile at the unseen intruder as he waves. My phone is ringing and it’s my therapist. He keeps telling me that it didn’t feel like I was really into it and that he wishes I were like his last lover who liked to…

“Swallow the pill” my therapist firmly insists into the line. Keeps telling me I need to take another Valium and stop calling for therapy and show up. I tell her that I’m in Manhattan until Monday. She asks about the Valium again as I’m walking to the kitchen and sitting at the table trying to remember where it was when I tell her I forgot it at home. This is before I tell her that there isn’t a way to reschedule the appointment right now. I reach over into my bag and remember that there’s another kind of candy I could be taking when I realize we have company. Then I remember about men and actresses. He doesn’t appreciate me the way that someone who loved me would. And then I think about Inza who isn’t over Ava and what will happen when she finds out about Jemma. After all that I wonder if it will be in front of me again. Is there a statute of limitations on the crimes of love? All this wondering doesn’t stop me from swallowing some pills and following him back in.

It’s 8am on Sunday morning and we’re getting ready for brunch. The someone who appreciated me had to leave last night but he didn’t go alone. He left with someone he met at this party last night and I really don’t feel that bad about it. My assistant Kaya arrives early bringing the pills, the books, the camera and the scripts including those I didn’t want to read along with her. I tell her to turn up the radio, it’s playing that song where they keep saying “I’m only human” and I can’t help but sing along. She smiles and tells me how she loves my voice. I tell her to buy a CD. We both laugh and I tell her to “stay like that” because I want to take a picture of her ‘just like that’ and she lets me. It’s then I ask her to skip brunch and get us an earlier flight to San Francisco.

Tuesday morning I manage to change my hair thirteen times before my fitting with Alexandr Reed. The soundtrack of the day is sponsored by Radiohead. OK Computer is playing during the fitting. By 1:10 pm he’s been pushing up my breasts and pulling at my waist while cursing on the phone with a man named Adrian. This makes me think of Jemma and wonder about Grayson Cane with Inza. It’s not quite a coincidence but my assistant Kaya shows up with a phone call at the same time. It’s Jemma and I make a face. Alexandr excuses himself and I quickly fall out of the garment on top when I rush toward the windows for some privacy. Open privacy.
“Yes, darling. How are you?”
“I’m fine. Just wondering if…”She pauses for a minute.
“Darling what?”
“I’m calling for Inza. She’s been… h-h-u-r-”
“What does she want? She could call herself.”
“Inza’s been admitted to the hospital under supervision. You should come see her.”
“I don’t have time for this I’m being fitted for that dinner thing next week. Aren’t you coming?”
“Chloe, look she’s asking for you. She keeps saying you’ll understand why she did it. Come when you’re back.”
The line falls dead and I’m standing topless in front of an open bay of windows while some Karma Police are being called in. Kaya brings me a glass of water and some Valium. I swallow and take in everything else. I don’t know if I’m more upset that she didn’t call herself. Or that the call wasn’t the guy that appreciated me the other night. Or perhaps it was me wanting Jemma to want to talk to me more.

Seventeen minutes until 3:30 and we’re at this place in the SOMA still. I tell Kaya to bring me a double shot of Vodka in a glass of ice. It’s most definitely five o’clock somewhere and I can’t get through to Inza’s assistant. Alex has already finished sewing me back into the altered dress so Simon can Polaroid the finished results before we call it a day. Between sips of my Vodka rocks we take headless pictures of my body in the gown to destroy all others before it. I’m amazed when I’m talking to Alex to find out that he’s friends with Jemma. It’s then I realize that Adrian on the phone is Adrian from the party.

When we are alone I ask him what he thinks of Inza while he removes the stitched in pieces of me. He listens to me about my lost week and I listen to his. About his friend, my friend, the lovers, the strangers, and how these things keep us both wondering.
“I wanted to matter to her the way she mattered to me.”
“Honey, keep drinking the Vodka and maybe you’ll get over it soon.” He tells me and swallows a large swig of the poison.
“Do you think I’ll run into it again? You know… l-o-v-e.” I have to spell it out like it’s a dirty word.
“We all do. It’s only a matter of time. And stop wasting time with these people when they’re obviously not interested in you.” He emphasizes you with a wave of his hands at my bareness.
“Thank you Alex. For everything. The dress is going to be gorgeous. I hope it works out for you. Andy sounds… ”
“Shhh.” He gives my naked stomach a kiss and whispers. “He’s here waiting to go to dinner.” Then points to a man talking to Kaya in the corner. “We all do.” He smiles and resumes unstitching the pieces on my hips.

We’re at BLOWFISH eating this amazing shi-shi sushi and taking turns doing Sake bombs when I realize that a lie is easier to swallow than the truth. There’s a man sitting at the table next to Kaya drinking with us. Every time we down one round every voice in place yells “SAKE BOMB” and it’s all amazing because I’m drinking this guy under the table. He tells me I’m so skinny that he wants to force feed me a box of Saltines to get me through the night cause he’s convinced I won’t make it even one more day. I just smile and tell him it’s my “thing” that I’m like a former Agnys, a former Kate,  a former Gabriella, a former HELENA, a former TYRA, a former NAOMI, a former LINDA and it’s just like that without a last name. I smile and tell him it’s all very TWiGGY with a hint of Madonna before telling him the new truth. This man is amazed when I tell him the truth. And tells me in disbelief before trying to change the subject.  
“If it’s possible she may be skinnier than TWiGGY,” he tells Kaya in front of me.
“Tell me about you.” I say anything after he’s discovered the truth but loves it because he thinks it’s a lie.
“I’m a plumber.” He lies because he thinks I am. So I play along.
“See, now that’s pretty interesting.”
 “Ah, not really I’m a commodities broker. But you’re joking with me about being on TV.”
“Look at the TV on the left bank above the bar.” I can see my own face staring back from the sea of media. I smile and point.
“Well. How about another shot? Liar.”
“But there you see…” I keep pointing and he keeps smiling because he enjoys the lie.
“There’s no way. I can’t believe that’s you.”
“There’s my picture.” Kaya pulls out a copy of the EW spread and lays it out. “Do you believe me?”
When he tells me to “fuck off” because they make those on Pier 39, I get up and tell him “next rounds on me” before telling him I’m a librarian with a bad habit of spanking on the first date. This makes him laugh and he slaps me on the ass and says “why didn’t you just say so in the first place?” before he asks Kaya for her number. I’m the opposite of offended and swallow another shot by myself. SAKE BOMB!

Actress. That’s what I used to tell them. Not model. Not singer. Not artist or photographer. The thing that used to light me up the same way it lit them up. Hitting the jackpot every minute of every day becomes routine. How many millions upon millions can you get before you start giving some of it away? Sometimes I tell them I’m a flight attendant when they don’t recognize me. I wonder, what do you think about that?
“I have to get back now. Is it there anything else you need Ms. St. Claire?” she asks gets up from the seat next to me.
“I’m fine. Call me Chloe. Tell me do you tell them you’re an actress?”
“No. And I’m sorry to hear about your friend Inza Madison. Are the rumors true about her…”
“Honestly I don’t know what rumors you’re talking about.”
“Ms. St. Claire, I mean Chloe. Sometimes I do.” She says with a wink and a finger to her lips before walking away.
Of course she does is what I think as I wait for the plane to begin its final descent.

In Stinson looking out over the beach and smoking a cigarette while I’m talking to Alex on the phone. Alex is fitting some model, another naked model, for this new gown in his showroom. He tells me she’s an actress and model. I tell him she gets naked for money. I tell him that hookers get naked for money. I tell him in conclusion that he’s fitting a hooker. It’s an argument that never quits when I tell him to blow it off and come out. Do anything. Let’s get wet. He tells me nothing I want to hear. The fog is rolling in and around the coastline like a giant hand that’s grabbing a hold with no intention of letting go. I’m still telling him we should get together at Zebra or Defiance for the party later when she comes up from behind and grabs my waist. Who isn’t as important as why she’s doing it. When I start raising my voice I really don’t want to anymore. I’m on the coast overlooking the fog coming in and she’s standing behind me waiting for what comes next. I tell Alex to come out later. Bring his friends, naked or not, straight or not. I toss the line in the ocean and she kisses me softly and shows me some bare skin as she walks back in. I take a hit and follow her in after I wonder where you went again.

Character. In. I’ve a huge respect and appreciation for actresses and actors, from small stage to big screen. Their job is not easy. Living in character for a few hours or a day or two can’t possibly amount to staying in it for weeks if not months. Different process. Leaning in further. There may be two more up before I share more. please enjoy. m.

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