Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I Don't Know, I Have To Ask My Life Coach...

I have a two word response to that.

Oh. Please.

Life Coach. Didn't that used to be called Mom? And when her advice didn't work, we did the best we could with the information and skill set we had. I made mistakes. A lot of them. And I own them. Don't get me wrong, solicited advice is great - but it's kind of like a butt; everyone has one and they can kinda stink...


These days it is easier to ask someone who didn't bother to take the time to go to school and get a degree in or even somewhat master psychology, finance or any other of the subjects they would need to dispense advice as they do - than to take personal responsibility for results in our life based on our actions and decisions. I have always believed it is what you do or don't do that defines you as a person.

I say teach a person to fish and they will eat for life. Hand them a fish and they'll be back asking you how to clean them, how to cook them, how to bone them, and where they should dispose of the waste...

I can't tell you how many people I know either have a wretched streak of bad luck or fail miserably at a couple of things in life - and rather than stand up and take a sheepish bow - and say to themselves, "I'll get them next time. I'm going to learn from this!", they instead exclaim; "It wasn't my fault! It was the system at large, the man, the economy, my ex! And now, based on my vast experience of getting screwed AND screwing up, I can show you how to never make that same mistake again. You know as long as it is the EXACT same mistake - because I am obviously not seeing the big picture of how sometimes life is nothing personal and I should just pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again!"


I know two people in particular that dispense advise on a regular basis. Both of them would be hard-pressed to take their own advice. I think they should just settle down and be a little...oh say...QUIET...

One does it for money. Professionally.

He began as a professional speaker, though he really had no skill at speaking, nothing really to offer as a life lesson, and so this compelled him into giving life advice one-on-one. This guy has done so many things wrong it's almost silly to think of him as offering advice to anyone - and anyone paying for it! He cheated in his marriage, had a bankruptcy, owes thousands to the IRS and does not support his children. I think Michael Vick had a life coach when he was involved in the affair that sent him to federal prison. Did his life coach go with him?

Good question - What can he really show you how to do? Best question - why would you listen to him for any reason?

The other person I know is a someone who fascinates me. She is a little more tricky to dis. She is a married, young mother who lives close to the edge of poverty and while she has no education and has never been employed she has a lot to say about everybody else's life with a fairly foul mouth. In her family, she is the voice of reason. And they all listen to her...

Yeah, I want to be like you. Except for the part where you dispose of soiled diapers in the trash can in the kitchen. Sign me up. So really, you think I should not make my child go to college because you didn't go and look how your life turned out? Huh. (PS- she despises her life BUT can show you how to get it!)

I know. Not enough vodka on the planet I dare say.

She has a lot of opinions. Pretty much all of it based on soap operas - which seems to work for her value set. She has a million excuses, I mean very good reasons for her situation, and how life unfairly played out, all the while laying claim to the rewards of others' accomplishments. I had to listen to her rant about Sonia Sotomayor being appointed to the Supreme Court because they are both Puerto Rican. I wanted to say that Sonia went to college, studied hard, worked three jobs - as did her mother - and values self-sustaining over the promulgation of poverty. I ended up saying nothing because the fantasy of "me and Sonia are exactly alike except for the fact that life screwed me..." was so strong I just couldn't point out that Sonia is where she because of the choices she made all along the way.

I also had to listen to this woman quote her deceased mother-in-law with absolute authority - as if she had taken the reins of the family. As if poor Rosalie is not turning over in her grave to see her young son bent like his father was, providing for small children and a wife intent on remaining a "traditional stay-at-home mom."

"Candi, let me give you some advice on how to keep a man..."

That's ok. You keep him.

If only I could make this stuff up.

I know that the cycle of poverty will never be broken in that branch of the family as long as the "life coach" is preaching and her congregants listen. I fled.

But these are just two instances I have experienced in my own life. There are also the Suzie Ormans, Dr. Ozs and the Dr.Phils out there - the Oprah anointed - people who once had a few good ideas and then tried to make little empires out of fear and stretching out your need to hear from them.

I guess I'm different. I am humbled by my mistakes. I am embarrassed when they could have been prevented. And I would no more tell someone how to go through a divorce or reinvent their life, then I would tell them what stocks to pick. In case I'm wrong. I know what I know. And one of the most heart-bright people I know once said, "I know what I don't know." I prefer to hug someone through it and say - you can do it. I'll be waiting for you on the other side with cocktails!

I don't know that I could ever trust someone who says to me - don't do as I did - do as I say. I would always be wondering, what ELSE don't you know that I would know if I could get past the feelings of fear and worry about the future.

I started in on this because I am reinventing myself. I figure, it's the perfect time for it. Economy in the toilet. Work dry. Skin, too. So, I put it out there. There are so many wonderful things I think I can be doing with my life - and being an empty-nester on the cusp of living the rest of my life for me - I want to choose wisely. I shared this with a friend who fancies herself a new-age life coach.

My ears were pinned by the barrage of what I should be doing, how I should go about it, and if I ever needed to talk about how to do it, why to do it or when to do it I could make an appointment on her website. You have a website? What happened to coffee and the sharing of ideas? I only shared this with you because your life sucks as hard as mine! When did you become an expert at life? I'm still learning.

So I left her sitting with our cappuccinos and went next door to the liquor store and bought two tiny little bottles of rum. I poured one in her cup and one in mine. We laughed and relaxed. And as the warm glow seeped into our bodies we both remembered we don't know crap about crap. We don't know what tomorrow will bring. We can only do the best we can. We should love each other into health and hope and joy. We will all be gone one day - almost all of us sooner than we'd like. We don't need advice - we need shoulders. We hope that one person will agree with us and come with us while we fill out the paperwork, wait for the results, or pick up the pieces.

We are human after all. And the greatest life coach in the world is experience - and surviving it.

We are our own best life coaches. And though your advice may reign supreme behind your closed doors I wear the tiara in my family, baby.

You know you love me - Candi

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

In Appreciation For Your Contribution...

We'd like to give you...

Blibbity blah blabinski...

I would rather just be appreciated while I'm making the contribution - you know? During the giving of my heart and soul to something I find worthwhile. Rather than waiting till the end to receive a certificate or flowers - the size of which never fails to feel like it correlates to or reflects the efficiency or magnitude of my contribution, or so it seems.

Honestly? I'd rather just have a hug...while I'm hustling, while I'm doing what you'd later like to show me your appreciation for. Sometimes that can save you the cost of the plaque and me the time it takes to trim the bottoms off the flowers.

I'd rather be told "thank you" as I'm in the process of showing up and trying hard. I'd like to have someone show me their appreciation by being wonderful to work with - and offering a smile and a compliment during the ordeal.

That includes relationships of any kind. Mother's Day is amazing and I appreciate it - but it's the phone calls the other 364 days of the year that mean the most. Thank you - my kid knows that. Or even a friendship rekindled...the appreciation is shown and the hope of maintaining a relationship is kept alive by both parties willing to make a phone call, if only to say, thought of you today, rather than awaiting a face-to-face that may never occur. It's why I can't stand the movie, "He's Just Not That Into You" - what a sucky credo to live by. it gives men AND women the tacit permission to treat and be treated poorly and unappreciated because they don't meet the magic, secret minimum requirements that simply being a part of humanity should in fact trump. (Again, one of those sentences that assures that it's just me and the remote tonight in bed...) It is as if a kiss-off should be expected...and you shouldn't feel hurt - as long as you get flowers in the end. You should have seen it coming - if you had seen the movie you'd know this is how it rolls.

My response to that is - Just be nice cuz I have flowers growing in my back yard already.

I believe that every day that passes we have an opportunity to show appreciation for the work in progress - life. All of it. Even the stinky parts. Even if the end result of what you are hoping to be appreciative for doesn't quite jam into the box that you have labeled with that particular effort. If we don't show our appreciation with a tender word, a kiss, a hug or even a fist bump, one day it may be too little too late.

It's why I like calendars so much - especially the calendars sent by specific charities soliciting you for donations. I get about two dozen a year. And each charity always marks up the pages with days that they believe represent things we should remember and be thankful for. Things you never think of. I got the USO calendar and am looking forward to appreciating Battle of the Bulge day. Although in my house, isn't that every day?! One day I'm going to combine them all and just be thankful and appreciative every day of the year - for really weird stuff. The calendar I'm really searching for is the pagan calendar. I bet they have some doozies on their calendar. Happy Vodka Day!!! Happy Butt Grabbing Day!!!

But I notice it is so hard for lots of folks. They don't appreciate off the top of their heads. A lot of that comes from guilt. Although I have seen people appreciate because of guilt. Guilt Appreciation arises from I know I haven't been treating you well all along, so I hope you will accept this bouquet as a token of my I'm-So-Sorry-You-Caught-Me-Ragging-You-Out-Behind-Your-Back. Fear also has a lot to do with tokens of appreciation - I hope you will accept this token of my I'm-So-Sorry-You-Caught-Me-Being-A-Classless-Ass-And-You-Don't-Blog-Me-By-Name... I do have that mouth, you know. And these quick little fingers.

I've decided that I'm coming up with a list of my own things to appreciate. Today - I shall appreciate flaws. I am going to find the tragic beauty in imperfection in all things. Maybe I'll start with my mother??

No! Wait!!! I got it. I'll start with me!!

And then I'll move on to Stanley Tucci. He is not imperfect. Except that he has not called. I'm not going to hold it against him. I'm going to hold something else against him. Soon as he calls.

You know you love me - Candi

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

“All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.” - Harvey Milk

How do you go on as if nothing wrong has happened? How do you, as a parent, not hold your hand over your heart in tears when you see the picture of this beautiful young man, filled with hope and talent and dreams? How do you not think of your own children?

You don't. You stop and you cry and then try and make sense of it.

Tyler Clementi is gone now. His death ruled a suicide. It is thought, but not proven that it was because his roommate and another student taped a private gay sexual encounter and streamed it live over the Internet. Twice.

What is a gag to some (not most - certainly not most) is unspeakable horror to another (well, to the rest of us, that is). Beyond what the lawyers tell us about the invasion of the inference of privacy that Tyler was entitled to, by closing his door and keeping his love life to himself - the question begs, "Who the fuck thought this was funny enough to broadcast?"

I am sure we'll be bombarded by psychological pundits with the idea of implied emotional fragility that Tyler suffered from (which is biased in and of itself) - to lessen the impact that this intense pain caused by a 'prank' inflicted upon him. I'm sure we'll also hear that none of this would even be discussed had the sex being taped and streamed over the Internet been heterosexual. That's how far gay rights has come, dontcha' know! Spread the news!!!!

But even if either of these scenarios are true - it doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter because it mattered to Tyler.

The truth is gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people do not have the same rights as others in this country. Period. Don't ask, don't tell. Sodomy laws. I hear people speak of events unfolding this weekend and say, come on, it is no big deal, a little kissing, a little fondling, I mean it is laughable enough, right? Sure. Laughable enough that there was interest in taping it and urging others to watch, too. Laughable enough a situation that Tyler, who had not come out, knew to keep this intimate encounter private.

You know, methinks the operable word in the above paragraph is ENOUGH!

There is another label being layered on this hate crime - bullying. Bullying exists. And I agree bullying and bashing is a major part of this, yes. But to me, as a mother, this is more than bullying. More than bashing. It is torture.

"Every person who, with the intent to cause cruel or extreme pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion, or for any sadistic purpose, inflicts great bodily injury as defined in California Penal Code Section 12022.7 upon the person of another, is guilty of torture."

For it to be torture certain 'elements' must be present: you inflicted 'great bodily injury' on another person WITH the specific intent to cause cruel or extreme pain and suffering, FOR revenge, persuasion or for any sadistic purpose.

Supporters of the alleged perpetrators are saying that they are good kids that made a mistake. I say they did not mistake a green light for red and cause a bumper thumper. Nope. They participated knowingly in cruelty and it may have led to a death. Aaaand scene!

I think it hurts me most and makes me angriest that these are not the typical alleged perpetrators. They are not Deliverance extras. They appear to be bright young people. Young people who may have even been subjected themselves to the same tortuous biases because of their race, gender, talent or high IQ. Listen, I know I sound tremulous. I feel it so I am doing all I can to access my higher power to pray for the two young people and hold good thoughts for their parents - who love these children that made such 'cruel and unusual' choices in their lives.

In the wake of all this I see that five more young people have killed themselves because of gay bashing. This takes me to a place where my heart feels in need of masking tape and Elmer's glue. How can we as a society allow this type of insane ignorance to harm our children? How many more must feel helpless before we stand and say enough!

I look at Tyler's sweet face and ask myself this question over and over and over again: Where did your hope go?

"And the young people in Jackson Mississippi, in Minnesota, in the Richmond, in Woodmere New York, who are hearing her on television, hearing Anita Bryant on television tell them that they are sick, they are wrong, there is no place in this great country for them, no place in this world. They are looking to us for something tonight. And I say, we have got to give them hope!" - Harvey Milk


Monday, September 20, 2010

I Am Woman Hear Me Roar...

My mom is on the far right. Her sister is on the left and their best friend Gloria stands between them. This was taken in 1947.

Cut to September 2010.

"Did you ever think you would see me walk this slowly, Cand?"

I wonder why she asked. I mean, was it truly all over my face? Was it that obvious that I was dismayed to see my mother, who was never really active even when young, but now inching herself through the parking lot on our way to breakfast, an 85-year-old in lavender orthopedic shoes? I had to think quickly. Unfortunately, I had a serious night of around-the-pool-cocktails the evening before and I think I left my brain, poker face and my editor in the car.

"Well, yeah, Ma. I thought I'd see it - but not for a few years. It's just too soon. You know, I always thought well, you'd lose it eventually."

She shot me such a look. Thank God at 5'2" I tower over her.

"Yeah, well me too. The only thing that makes it semi-ok about this whole dang getting old stuff is that I get the blue thing."

"What do you mean, getting old?! You've arrived, Ma! Ha ha ha....um...heh...heh...ahem...?"

And what blue thing? Wait just a second. I mean, I am fine WITHOUT a whole lot of information about what's gonna happen to me about the time when I can't remember where I put my car keys but I guarantee you I do not want to even KNOW what the hell turns blue. And then I remember. She means the handicap parking placard. Whew.

We have a great brunch with a few of my friends, all of us in sunglasses while indoors holding our heads listening to the hostess sing "The Trolley Song" so we all don't riot as we wait endlessly for our late arriving food. Does she have to sing so loudly, I wonder out loud, but not too, cuz my head hurts.

I look over at my legally-a-midget-in-30-states mother to see if she's having a good time and she whispers to me, "She has a great voice, but why is she wearing those Phil Silvers glasses. They do nothing for her." I glance down at her shoes and she raises an eyebrow...

When brunch is finished I take Mom to her sister's house. My aunt is recuperating from a hip replacement, something my Mom breezed through last year - standing and walking 30 minutes after she woke from surgery. Mom prepares me that my aunt is having a lot of trouble and is in some pain and she is going over to keep her company. When we arrive I see my other aunt's car in the driveway. The Three Widows of Eastwick. I steel myself. Mom looks over at me and says, "you don't have to stay."

"Thank you, Ma."

"I was being rhetorical."

"Wrong word."

She shoots me another look. If she weren't such a pacifist I'm sure I'd have some pretty bruised shins by now. But I get her drift. I'm required to stay and answer questions. I get to the front door and Mom orders me to just open it and walk on in. Having been bitten by a large Saint Bernard in my aunt's house when I was seven I get a little nervous until I remember that he'd be in Guinness Book Of World Records if he were still alive. Do you think they got another beast locked up in there somewhere?


"Who's Cujo, Cand? Stop it! Go in. Go in."

I'm thinking my aunt must be in pretty bad shape if my Mom is so anxious and I open the door. I hear my aunt Teresa call out cheerily and as always, LOUDLY - "who the heck is at my door!?" And I see a figure in an open-front wheel chair scooting herself with her heels across the room in soft foam curlers and a muu muu to see who darkened her doorstep. This 90-year-old-breast-cancer-survivor is all smiles and in the picture of health. She looks great and is so peppy. I look at my Mom like what were you talking about and Mom nods at me and whispers, "See?"

I think, my God, am I gonna be this nuts at 85, too?

At the kitchen counter is my Aunt Geri, their sister-in-law, also an octogenarian who calls out her welcome. I hug and kiss them all and the questions start at such a pace that I instinctively take a step forward to find my light. I have not seen my aunts in over 5 years but I'm shocked at how much they know about me. Their questions are all out of concern and incredulity rather than nosiness.

"How did you survive that?" "Do you pray?" "Is there anyone to help you?" "How are you managing to do it all?" "Are you ever afraid?" "Lonely?"

Then my aunt Geri says, "Candi I am so proud of you and your independence and your self-reliance. I know it hasn't been easy, and you are a credit to being a woman. You are doing it all with such grace." To which my Aunt Teresa adds, "Honey, it's a man's world and any bit of success that you have - we ALL know you earned." And finally my mother added, "Look how you've shown your daughter what it means to do it on your own..."

And I can't speak. And for an uncomfortable heartbeat there is silence. Blood is thicker than water and history is glue that binds you together. I think of each of these women - each burying young husbands, one burying a child, another bankrupt, another surviving breast cancer twice, never remarrying, matriarchal warriors raising families through poverty, instilling pride and a deep sense of responsibility in me, my siblings and all my cousins. I don't believe in coincidences and so it was no surprise to me that this moment occurred on this day, the 26th anniversary of my father's death.

Thousands and thousands of women before us have fought for their rights, their families, the right to vote, wages and everything else that you and I take for granted. And so did these three women before me and I never thought about it until that moment.

The lives we women lead begin with our mothers and mother figures. And I thought about what was going on in my life - and the issues I was facing that seemed so insurmountable in the car a few moments before. Then looked out at my audience, consisting of wrinkles interrupted by grins passing nods and winks between them, as if I had just entered the club, and I knew that they understood. Really got it. I will never forget this moment, having the three of them together, supporting me and praising me and I secretly rejoiced and took it all in.
Then my heart stopped.

"Oh God, does this mean I am going to have to wear faux plastic lavender Birkenstocks????!!!

Oh yes I am wise, But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price, But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything, I am strong, I am invincible
I am woman

You know you love me - Candi

Saturday, September 04, 2010


I came home late last night tired after a long day of errands in the heat. California heat is not that bad, you know because it's a dry heat.

OK! Would you please shoot me in the head...I got news for you, heat is heat. And yesterday was hot and it was the beginning of Labor Day weekend and traffic was a bear. No matter how low I turned the AC in the car it's still black and I still felt like I was in a terrarium. Remember those? And Chia Pets? And Sea Monkeys? And suction cups to make your boobs grow? Did I lose you there?

On my very last nerve I pulled into my driveway that leads up to my beautiful home and there it was.


A huge sign was planted in my lawn, announcing to the whole world that I am moving. Eventually. (see earlier post) I was furious. Who would do such a thing? Who gave the sign person permission to do this? Who said I wanted to sell my house? Oh wait, I did. And again, if I looked at my immediate reaction of anger it thinly veiled my real emotions. Sadness and fear.

I always knew this day was coming. I had planned for my exit even as I was making my entrance into our little neighborhood. I had a plan. I moved here because of the fantastic schools. Bambi went to these fantastic schools - and got into amazing universities because of her education (and talent and drive!). But she is done and it is time for me to move on. That was also part of the plan - to return to the care and feeding of me. It is time I stepped up. Forward. Soaring. Leaping. Into the unknown. No net. Just wits.

But the sign affected me in a way I wasn't prepared for. I had a full on night terror. The kind that have you moving in slow motion as the 'thing' chases you. I was trying to scream like Nicole Kidman in "The Others" - this is my house! Get out! Get out! - but no sound would come out. And then the 'thing' caught me - and it was me.

(No more vodka before beddy-bye time for Ms. Milo.)

My little inner child shouted, I can't have a sign up before I know exactly what is going to happen to me next! I need, I thrive on directions. Clear lines. Black and white. No grey. And my ties to this home that I painstakingly rebuilt from the foundation up - are strong. I love my house. I love being here. I love what it feels like. I know where everything is. But honestly it is not the same without Bambi. There are many rooms I don't even go into - and not just because they look like a thrift shop exploded in them - it's that I have no need to. The realization that I was maintaining a home for a lifestyle I no longer have, made me feel incredibly sad but also pointed out that the original plan (the one I came up with while on my knees talking with God, during the initial stages of my divorce 13 years ago...) is the right one: when she graduates, sell.

I listed my house. I'd say that is pretty damn concrete. I came up with a price and signed the papers. We just never discussed the sign. So, while my agent was showing and showing and people were tramping in and clopping out - and I was eating frozen yogurt down the street killing time - and chanting my mantra; "Run Forrest Run, Sell Susan Sell, Buy People Buy" it didn't really sink in. I actually thought, "hey, maybe we're not going to do a sign..." Then I saw the sign. My reality check just bounced. Bambi is gone and I am selling my house.

I cried.

What do I do now? Where do I go? A year ago around this time, before the November To Remember it was to New York. I was dating someone exclusively (I was dating exclusively... him, not so much...) who lived in New York and I was in love. Bambi had gotten into Boston U, Emerson, New York University and Syracuse. So it was a natural that we should move ahead with our plans to be one big happy East Coast/NYC family.

Today? Well, still Tucci-less I don't know if NY is the place for me. But I gotta tell you, it beckons me. It is my heartbeat. It has always felt like home. It is where I feel alive and talented and beautiful and never in a hurry because everyone is moving as fast as I and talking as fast as I... Just typing this makes me pause. If this is the place for me, where I can most be me again and yet I cannot pull the trigger, it must be that I am afraid. And if you know anything about me by now, you know that I am now pulling on my HAZMAT suit because I am walking directly into this fire! And getting over this fear!

Even Liza and Frank challenge me; "...if I can make it there I'll make it anywhere..." Oh you didn't know that song was written especially for me? Huh. Sure, I giggle but my logical mind freezes. Do I know enough people? Can I make a living doing what I love? Who will kill the spiders?

And then I realized that I am coping with these same things now - I live alone. Work is tough here, too. And I kill the damn spiders. Only I do this in a giant house with a lot of doors that have a lot of stuff I don't need behind them...

I wavered about selling when Bambi decided on a college in California. I know, I know. Could you die? After all that. She is here. I thought to myself...Do I stay here and be...ok, be what Candi? What are you gonna be? What can I be to someone who is well on her way and living her life? That's silly. I need to do the same. I need to jump. Bambi and I had a conversation about my downsizing and moving. And the night before I moved her into her dorm - and on the hottest day on record for that day in 110 years I kid you not - we walked through the house thanking it for all that it had done for us. Blessing it for keeping us safe and warm and cool and close to her friends and great schools. And then she said good-bye. To us both.

I did, too. And then I thought...hmm maybe I'll stay so that when she comes home she'll see I've kept a shrine to her... and then the nice doctor puts the crazy Candi on little pink pills to help her get a life...the SIGN, damn it! There it sits reminding me to keep my word. Eyes on the prize.

Here I am doing all this training and hard work to get myself back into shape for the next phase wherever life and my God with his wicked sense of humor takes me next. Musical Theater workshops. Private acting coaching. Performing in "Cabaret" with Kris Kardashian-Jenner. Memorizing monologues. Learning songs and putting them in a book. Putting my butt on the line every single day - being as brave as any person I know and suddenly I waffle about the one thing that has the power to set me free...

I think I was in my "oh this is gonna happen eventually" mode if truth be told. And never really thought I would have to box everything up and find a new place to live. But the sign tells me every time I see it, that I have to do just that.

I decided today when I went out to get the paper that I would look at this as my own sign that things are going according to plan. And that I have never been let down. That things happen for a reason, for the best. That I should expect the best. I have pared down my life to include only the things and people that make my heart sing. And I will gladly hand over the keys to my home to someone else to love and cherish.

I am replacing my sadness and fear with excitement for all that life is going to bring. And I have decided to concentrate on that hope, that expectant joy, that grey. That Tucci. I know it is out there. I have never known anyone to find all that they were seeking inside their home, alone. Unless they were wearing a nun's habit - and then usually the bar was set fairly low...

So look out...wherever...cause I'm coming. And wherever I go, there I freaking am. Do I think it'll be New York? Funny you should ask that. Today my neighbor asked me where I was going to move - and I said I wasn't sure. She looked at me and said..."Maybe you'll move back to New York. You're from New York, right?"

I take that as a sign.

You know you love me, Candi

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Photo Used Without Permission

Without permission.

That was the catch phrase that could have been used all week at San Diego's Comic Con, or what I prefer to call, Woodstock for Geeks. A love-in of a different sort. People dressed in costumes they bought, rented, created, stole, dug up, refurbished and all sorts of cobbled together sans permission.

And you know, that's what made this Comic Con rock! This is a festival for geeks and fans and people who share like interests, and come in all shapes and sizes and colors and tastes, merging under one gigantic ginormous tent top to out-geek one another. And the thing about Comic Con geeks? They give it UP! I must have heard nine million - "Yo, great Boba Fett, dude!" And those were just from Jamie Kennedy, who insisted on getting his photo taken with every single costumed character who passed by. He is going to have one HELL of a Facebook Con album. My phone died. So, I have four pictures. Sad, really. All out of focus. One of my fabulous hotel room. Pathetic.

I arrived in San Diego and the weather was gorgeous. Sweater-weather that would soon burst forth into a I-gotta-move-here kinda day. I had risen early to drive down. I didn't want to commit too much time to the Con this year. This would be my fifth one - and I didn't have the greatest experiences at them before. In fact the last one, where I was signing at the Cartoon Network Booth for Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, I forayed out into the crowd in search of a snack and a girl dropped in front of me having a seizure. It was a full ten minutes before paramedics reached her and I was traumatized by the time Sunday rolled around. Crowds were out of control and fans were upset that by 3pm each day, giveaways had been given away. Someone stole my wallet, my favorite pen AND my lip gloss. So I wanted to get in, do my panels and go home the next day.

I could not have been more pleasantly surprised! I am a geek. And this was geek heaven!

I arrived at the Omni - right on the water, across from the Convention Center. I keyed in the elevator with my DC Comics Comic Con key - YAY!!!! and rode the elevator up to the penthouse floor. An elevator completely decked out in True Blood posters and Eclipse walls!

"Heaven, I'm in heaven - and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak..."

My room overlooked the Convention and the train and the bay. I only wish I had my Stanley to share the whole experience with - but alas- we haven't met yet. Damn reality!

I did hair and makeup and slid out of my driving clothes and into Geek Chic. White top, mini-skirt, fishnets and motorcycle boots. Serious fan - but still - professional. (I know. Professional on WHAT planet, Miss Milo? Humor me.) I walked over and got my badge. As I reached for it from a woman named Nell who had the same split between her teeth that I had before I had it fixed and now wish I hadn't, looked at me and asked if I'd like a tote bag. I said sure. My friend Lauren Tom and I grabbed our bags and looked at each other and busted out laughing. They were life-sized! We could have lived in them they were so big. It just made me more excited to get In The Hall!!!!

My first panel was called Cartoon Voices and I was held at the door as someone dressed as a toaster with bread popping out (and whose face was somewhere INSIDE his costume) was led to a seat. I took the dais and proceeded to answer questions given by the moderator and then read a script cold. It was the truncated story of Cinderella. I got to play Cinderella. Right before my line I decided she should be a Puerto Rican with a bad attitude - and it brought the house down. Next to me, Jason Marsden did Stepsister #1 as a high pitched girl that woke me in the middle of the night laughing, it was that good! Tom Kane played the narrator and every time he said a line it was in a different voice. Chuck McCann played the Fairy GodMother and he was pure genius. April Winchell played the Evil Stepmother - and it was suddenly apparent why she was also Cruella DeVille and all other matters of womanly evil. Besides her imeccable timing, she has the best chops for that operatic diva voice EVER.

2900 people packed the room. Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy, joined us from the audience and said hello. Fans completely went crazy as he and Jason did a father and son Goofy and Max. It was over too fast and I left the dais early to head to the Fanboy & Chum Chum panel. Before I left the hall I connected with lots of my Facebook friends! That was so cool to do!

We also did a reading at the Fanboy panel - and displayed pencil tests to read to. That was very cool. Eric narrated for us (the creator). I play a ton of characters on that show - and sat on that dais with him AND Jamie Kennedy and David Hornsby - who make me laaauuugghh. My favorite part of that was the Q&A at the end. Six kids in a row came up with the exact same question. Exact. Same. Question. And our fabulous show creator was able to interpret what they "really" meant and answered them to the delight of the audience - and the kids - who were like, "That dude is a genius! He gets me!"

I was surprised to be part of Nick's press tour and was secretly sliiiightly bummed that I couldn't cross back over the street and have a drink at the bar with the guy I met who looked muuuuuch better with his Batman mask off. I was whisked down to the main hall to Nick's booth. I could smell a Dexter moment (NOT a Nickelodeon show - oopsie!) and sure enough, a DJ wanting a station identification ("This is Lupe from Fanboy and you're listening to blabbity-blabbity-boo on your dial...") for a San Diego local Radio Station looked at me and asked, "So I understand that you are the woman who does Dexter?" So listen up San Diego - you'll hear Maya, Tito, Dexter, Cheese, Coco, Madame Foster, Mrs. Wakeman, Teacher from Cow & Chicken, Jacobo all calling out for his show! hahahahahaha Did them all. Cause I'm me.

Then we signed autographs and sat up on a large dais as fans lined up AND filed past us. We meant little or nothing to them. THEY were on display. This was their Con. We were visitors from planet TV show. They were there to strut and meet comic book artists and animators. Sergio Aragones, the MAD Magazine illustrator was part of a quick draw panel and was brilliant. I laughed so hard. We must have signed 500 autographs for Fanboy & Chum Chum - a great new show from Nick by Eric Robles And Steve Thompkins. It was kind of fun to see that the Fairly Odd Parents and Penguins cast had signed the table we were all seated at. I drew a Kilroy - and signed my name.

I was only there Saturday and yet I managed to have lunch and connect with old friends; producers, animators, casting people, and get all caught up. "Yes, Bambi's going to college! No, I haven't moved to NY yet, but I'm doing Actorfest in October. Yes, I'd love to come and be on your show and make millions and millions and millions of pennies!" Lots of hugs and promises and reconnects. This recession/depression has been hard on all of us. To a (wo)man we all pledged that we just have to hang in there and rely on each other to see us through. Creative people are simply the greatest. Art is forever!

I grabbed a nibble of bar mix at the hotel bar and I will tell you that a glass of Pinot Noir makes the Con a little more palatable. I scooted back over to Hall H and over to the Ugly Dolls booth and tried to meet the creators. I own all of the dolls - and wanted to give them my take on voices. You know, in case there was a gig coming up?!?!? :) The line was about 200 people long and since my name and face wouldn't buy me a cup of coffee and doing voices in line is something that would, even at The Con, get you thrown out - I left.

I had a drink with a couple I met after my first panel, whose boys are big fans of my work. Sigh. Under ten and under four feet - those are the men that love me...

I said goodbye and we promised to keep in touch and I rode the elevator back up to my room. I kissed my hand and touched it to all the evil vampires on display there and dragged myself to my room and flopped on my bed. Then the fireworks began and I snuggled down with room service - a cheeseburger and fries and all my free goodies. I watched "Hairspray" cause I know all the words...until it was time to sleep.

Sunday came too soon. I got up - ready for the 2 1/2 hour drive back home and thought about what fun I had in less than 24 hours. I smiled inside. I was tired and knew I had to get back to the grind of doing voices.


I know. World's greatest gig! I highly recommend it.

You know you love me - Candi

PS - Yes, I got stuff signed. I am one of them.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oh Mel, You Sweet Talker You...

I hope her answer was, "I'll pass but, thanks honey! Do you want me to put our baby on the phone so you can say hi?"

I really wanted to be funny about Mel. I had it in mind to write about this since the first of the voice messages was made public. I was laughing to myself, picturing Mel ranting while dressed in James Caviezel's crucifixion costume.

But first I wanted to listen to them. The messages are online. I also could have listened to Tiger Woods' panicked message to his mistress saying his wife had found his phone and read the text messages from Jesse James to his mistress if I had wanted to. Just so you know. They are all out there. I didn't. Mel was enough, thankyouveddymuch.

His message, conversation, whatever it was made me sick. They are all sick messages. Twisted logically. Misogynistic. This to the mother of his daughter.

I have put it behind me, but Mel immediately brought to mind several similar ranting messages I received last December - also in front of my kid. A complete stranger called me repeatedly and screamed at me on my home voicemail - a lame attempt at bravado and threat - and sounded just as deranged, delusional and blame-laden as Mel.

Because I was consumed by all the other things going on in my life I thought, "ok fine. You got my unlisted number. You dialed it. You swore. You threatened. You keep forgetting to turn off your caller-ID. Yay for you. I'll take it from here." The content was nonsensical, nonlinear and delivered like a bipolar poodle who missed a Lithium dose. My girlfriends and I laughed about them and waited anxiously for the next one. They didn't scare me, clearly the intent of most raging lunatics, but they did make me sad, because they were a betrayal, an unforgivable betrayal because it meant I had to get a new phone number. And a new number meant I had to order new checks! Someone owes me $26.44. Hee hee...

I believe Karma is amazing and so never felt the need to retaliate, other than writing my blog. I knew the calls were the brainchild of someone who was caught not playing for team Candi, while still in team uniform. But hey, sticks and stones... (I know - 7th grade was longer ago for most of us - some people are still there and with cell phones.) I hope I get an invitation to their wedding. Better than that I want front row seats at the break-up! Ringside at The Garden!

Truly, my serial caller never reached the disgust level that the Gibson Gabs do. I remember thinking the messages, accusing me of everything under the sun and promising to make sure I paid, sounded so impotent...on many levels. wink wink That's also how I felt listening to Mel rant. The whiny bellowing over Oksana's obviously unnatural body parts ("No, really?!?!? Why don't you check out her lips!!!", his ex-wife is screaming on line 2.) and his insistence that she appear more modest - is hysterical in its "but this is likely exactly WHY you slept with her in the first place MEL!!!" double standard.

If you put a French accent on Mel - it would be like listening to Napoleon Bonaparte. "I am incredibly short. I have an incredibly teeny wee-wee. Everything I do is incredibly pure and just. And if you do not do as I say I will have an incredibly teeny tantrum! Or as I call it a teeny diatribe - a word STOLEN from the French!!!!!...wheeze...gasp wheeze...wheeze gasp..."

Life's too short and apparently so is Mel - for anyone to be be subjected to crap like this. I don't care HOW much money is involved. It is time for someone to lead Mel away in a lovely jacket with buckles in the back. And take away his damn Verizon calling card for crissakes...

Mel, from me to you. You left your wife for this woman. She turned out not to be what you wanted. Not her fault. It's ok. You made life choices, well you and Johnnie Walker, so your life is right where you led it. Handle the fallout over what you have done. If you don't, the guilt and confusion can cause this affliction known today as Robo-Ranting. Not a good thing where kids are involved. Not a good thing, period. I know, leaving a nasty voicemail for your ex about her boobs is kind of like drunk texting; wince-inducing but semi-forgivable. But when you talk about setting a house on fire? Go away, my friend.

As hard as jail time is going to be for Lindsay Lohan - it may end up saving her life and her career. Ask Robert Downey Jr. So, as career-destroying as it is being outed as a Napoleonic racist-sexist-lunaticist and being dumped by your agent - Mel you CAN rise again on the third day in a new career. Hopefully nothing that involves having to look at or listen to you. But only if you go away first. Far away.

And Oksana, for the sake of the kids, do what I did, change your number! And if you are concerned for the sake of your daughter - stop releasing these voicemails to the public. It doesn't do her any good.

Unless you have one of Mel playing Napoleon...how can that not be good?!?!?!?!?

You know you love me, Candi

Friday, July 02, 2010

Move Through The Ball...

Have you heard that expression...move through the ball?

I've heard it but never understood it in the context of sports. I was not a team sports player in high school or in college, for that matter - too small. Too tired. Didn't want to get hit in the face. Too busy, doing a show. Student government. Working. Chasing boys.

But I understand it in the context of life. If you use "move through the ball" as a metaphor for dealing with life's obstacles it's kind of cool. If you can move through them they don't really exist - ok they do - but they are permeable - so move through them. Jello. Water. I like that. They are not insurmountable. You just have to think of them in the right way. The air bender way. Wax on. Wax off. Move through them. I like not having to move around them. Avoidance is cowardly. Unless it's a large dog. Then, it's smart.

Rocky Balboa's landlord had a big dog. It didn't know how big it was and I think that made it cranky. He hated me. Not the dog. Rocky Balboa. But that's an earlier post. Back to ball playing...

Every time a ball player (and let's take a baseball analogy - because I loooooooove baseball players) steps up to the plate he has put himself in that position. He wants to be there. He may not like the circumstances surrounding his chance at bat - but honestly, he didn't have to get on the team bus. He could have taken computer sciences. But he chose to be there, and every decision he has made has led him up to the plate at that moment. He can avoid the ball - but that is not going to keep him in LA or Tampa or NY or San Francisco. No, he has to confront the ball and eventually hit it - hard and clean. The best way to do that is to picture moving through it. Keeping your swing, your arc fluid. Think about coming all the way around. Strong. Graceful.

But before he thinks about moving through the ball he thinks about what it is he'll swing at and what he will let pass by him. Not only which pitch. But the one pitch. One obstacle at a time. He can't really have a list about which pitches he likes and how he is going to handle it when the time comes. He couldn't read it. He's got the bat in his hand. A wad of gum in his mouth. Tight pants.


He has to make a snap decision when presented with what's coming over the plate. Because he's practiced he can kind of tell when the ball leaves the pitcher's hands whether or not to take a crack at it. Whether it will serve his goal of taking a victory lap around the bases as the ball goes over the fence.

He either takes a swing or not. He either connects or not. And if he does - and moves through the ball - it will likely go as he hoped or planned. Or maybe not. Here's the thing, though. A forward motion has been started and a new set of circumstances lines up and he is impelled to act upon them.

Let's use my life as the "life's obstacles" example. Because this is my blog and I said so. And yes, I'm wagging my finger.

Late last year, by my choice, by my life's set of decisions and choices - I was where I was - and as it turns out exactly where I needed to be - and presented with a set of obstacles. Didn't matter who was pitching. I was at bat. For a moment (ok, 4 months) I focused on the fences, forgetting everything I knew about how to handle life's curve, knuckle and sliders.

Yes. Soon I'll run out of baseball terms. Bear with me.

You see, like Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle (I have a few left, but just a few...) in competition to break Babe Ruth's record - I forgot about the game and focused instead on hitting it out of the park. Now, my God has that wicked sense of humor, remember? Wicked. And while I was up at home spinning like a demented top - it dawned on me. No matter how hard I swung, as long as I focused on the fences and not on moving through the ball coming over the plate - I was hitting air. I was an air bender in the wrong way.

(Just so you know, that made me laugh... Want to know what else makes me laugh? I remember I HAD to take tennis in high school. As a PE. I had to be on the PE team. I dressed for tennis every day and walked out to the courts and stood on the courts with my racquet in front of my face saying to anyone who would listen, "I'm going to be famous one day, and I can't be hit in the face. Sorry." True. hee hee heeeeeeeeeeeee...)

It's isn't about hitting a home run. The home run comes from the perfect swing. It is about connecting and moving through life one pitch at a time. One obstacle at a time. I had forgotten. I was watching TV one afternoon thinking Steve Buscemi was so dang cute and it hit me like a lightning bolt. I'm at bat.

Yellow pad.

I needed a list. See, I am not really at bat, with a wad of gum in my mouth or wearing tights pants. (Well, the tight pants - I am actually in tight pants.) But my hands were free and I could break down my obstacles into single pitches. Still have the goal of the fences in mind - but move through each pitch fluidly and with grace - connecting and swinging all the way around.

I switched my goal from the fences of immediately moving lock, stock and barrel to NYC - to finding joy - knowing full well that moving back east would give me that happiness. I broke it down into what needed to happen to make sure I was on the way to happiness. And guess what happened. I was connecting with pitches and each one went right over the center field fence. And then I was impelled to act upon this new set of circumstances.

I am officially out of MLB quips. You're welcome.

In less than one month I have dug in at the plate and homered the following:

1. I did a short film - called "Last At Bat" (I just realized that is a baseball term...hahaha!) - it is racy and hysterical. Look for it on Funny or Die soon.
2. I finished a professional musical theater workshop and from it put together 8 audition songs. 4 monologues. (That photo is of me and Bambi after my performance. I am sooooo relieved!!!!!)
3. Shot new photos.
4. Got a new VO agent with offices in LA and NY - and signed with them in both cities.
5. Got a new legit (theater - musical theater) agent in Los Angeles. And hello! - I was actually singled out of the workshop show.
6. Got a new legit agent in NY. They said it was impossible!!!!
7. Got parts in two LA-based musicals that begin rehearsals next week.
8. Contacted a Manhattan realtor - just for look sees when I go back there next week...Turns out she is a huge cartoon fan...

That's quite a season. These are HUGE accomplishments. And all for the love of the game!

To play my best game I must always remember that nothing is bigger than a single pitch, remember to focus my eyes on the prize and remember to swing through the ball with grace, fluidity and determination.

But in tackling my life's obstacles - and no, I am not on to football references - I learned that I really am a team player.

I play for me.

You know you love me - Candi