Friday, April 19, 2019

5 Years Later: What Have We Learned?

Lately, I've been a somewhat reflective mood. March 1st was literally 5 years to the day when life as I knew it in NYC changed permanently. What shall we call it? The day my ex-husband decided 100% I had no human worth or the day I fled for my mental sanity? Well, whatever you call it a lot of things have changed & I keep marveling at how things have turned around.

For one thing, I've figured out exactly how to structure my entertainment career. I had exclusive representation then realized it wasn't for me. Maybe it was just the manager I had but I felt like there was too much controlling nonsense going on and I'm not the type who needs Superman to swoop in and save her. A manager contact I actually know said I likely don't need a manager, just a good agent. It felt like where every attorney clamors to get the big law firm job, you get the big law firm job then you do it & realize it's not what you had in mind. In my case, I felt like I was being repressed and having my sense of self-sufficiency taken away. I felt like I was being forced into a mold that didn't fit who I am & I don't want to do a career based around what I'm not. I want a representative who accepts and likes who I am. Somebody who's not going to tell me to hide my film company experience or my law licenses or my producing abilities or get attitude because I'm not some idiot. Someone who's not going to try horning in on things I did by myself or expecting me to placate the insecure assholes who want me to dim my light so they feel better about themselves. I realized I'd rather have my own film production company and create my own content but you need money to do that properly. You'll make far more money doing legal work than you will waiting tables. Recent conversations with sorority sisters who also work in decision making parts of larger companies in the business also made me feel better about this choice since they agreed that I shouldn't have to hide my legal background or my film company experience on my own website and personal social media pages. I'm even getting that creative spark back to start doing writing again & have ideas on what I see going on that nobody is addressing or speaking my voice on. A suggestion to do standup is also something I'm giving real thought to and wondering if I can get receipts if I'm charged for open mic so I can deduct those as business expenses.

I've also been able to afford things I wanted to get and been able to feel more whole again. Getting clothes that were too big for me altered (still working on that). Got renter's insurance, set up an IRA again, got savings accounts, did LASIK and my cosmetic dental work and even got DVDs I didn't get in the big DVD split. Life feels less like deprivation to me now. I even got a new official legal bag and a baseball style jacket and a short sleeved hoodie (things I'd wanted for years & couldn't find). Since my legal hustle has improved and I've made better entertainment contacts, things feel like they're looking up. I've been going to yoga when I can, have a kitty cat around who likes me (not quite like having my own but she is a lot like one of my old kitties in her own way; I'm probably too busy to keep one at this point anyway), have had friends and FWBs who take me out on occasion, fixed problems in my room and living situation I thought would never happen, etc. There's always going to be room for improvement but it feels like many of the problems I've had to deal with aren't impossible to overcome. I even have far better looking in terms of romantic prospects though I'm holding out for Mr. Big Stuff at this point since nobody's come close to surpassing him and I don't think he'd have bothered apologizing to me before if he didn't care at all. He seems a lot like Captain Horndog in the sense that no matter what I do or how hard I push him away, he's just not going to let me push him out of the ring that is my life. I don't feel like a lot of people have that kind of spirit and temerity to deal with the redhead even if she's told you to fuck off, leave her alone, that sort of thing. Part of me feels like maybe he won't ambush me with saying he's going to take up with some other bitch; I know I couldn't do the "let's be friends" thing since I'd really feel resentful of not being given a true shot and like I meant absolutely nothing,

I've been contrasting the new normal with how things were 5 years ago. I still remember it but it's very surreal to me now. I had no means to be independent, I was living in the Scarface mansion, this might have been when I met this really cute guy at an event and he was wowed by me being able to drive a pickup truck after I'd done that out of mere necessity (getting the cat who lived there his cat food since no one else was around to get it and there was no other vehicle I could use for that purpose), I was full on in Phase One of the divorce & had no idea if I was going to be around after October 13th of that year. Months were endless for me, I felt like a ghost and I was fighting to keep things that were just slipping away and vanishing. It also felt like I'd just woken up from a coma when I went to the Scarface mansion & everything had changed.

The perfect symbol of my life is the Cadbury Chocolate Creme Egg.

When my whole "Sex & the City" lifestyle first started, I was eating tons of those. I was staying in the East Village and saw them in the nearby CVS on sale. It was "Chocolate!!! Must get!" Those were something I was able to get and having them helped my emotional state a lot. It's literally super chocolate, a must for the chocolate fiend. Anytime I saw them on the cheap, I bought at least 3 of them. They also got me through 2015 when I was dealing with being on public assistance. I hadn't really had them so much before that whole situation happened.

This year, I go to find those and can't find them to save my life. I look online and no such luck. I can't even figure out what happened. Did they get discontinued? Were they recalled? Why can't you find them? Anything else just pales by comparison. It's made me annoyed but it's also felt like the end of an era, the era of me feeling cheated and wronged from what happened to me. Sometime last year it just felt irrelevant but now since I've been able to do for myself more and get things I've needed for ages but hadn't been able to do in years past, it feels like the scales have balanced out and I don't have to feel cheated and deprived anymore. I also feel like I've survived the worst and anything else that comes my way is far easier to deal with. How can you possibly tell someone who's survived the things I have that she needs to be concerned about what the rest of the world thinks of her or that she's got to cater to someone else's self-esteem problems? On what universe would that ever make sense? I also keep hearing and reading about situations where people followed their hearts, charted their own paths and it led to success. I'm just wondering when the heck I'm getting MY due on such things. As I said, there's still room for improvement though things are far better than they were 5 years ago.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Charlotte York, Get the Heck Out of NYC....

Captain Obvious?? Maybe. But if you have ANY shred of Charlotte York in you, you have no business living in Manhattan or dating there if you want to find a Prince Charming sort of guy. Let's establish a few things first:

You may be asking "Who's Charlotte York?" For those of you not old enough to remember the show or who never saw it because you're a straight guy, Charlotte York is a character from the HBO show "Sex & the City" of the late 90s/early 00s. Charlotte was the "Sex & the City" posse member who was the least slutty. Actually, Charlotte wasn't really slutty at all. She was this idealist with high hopes of meeting the man of her dreams and getting married. Charlotte had some idealist notions and could easily have been a Southern belle if she'd grown up in the South + had even a Southern inflection. Of the 4 stars, Charlotte was the most traditional. Charlotte was the woman who found herself in situations the other characters were less phased by and really felt "ick" about them but managed not to be a 24/7 judgmental prick. I like to think she was the romantic one. Most women know a Charlotte York or have some Charlotte York in them; it's part of our culture and the "happily ever after" of fairy tale romance.

Now why do I say "don't bother dating in NYC if you've got any Charlotte York in you"? Here goes:

1. Most of us want to commit to a guy with ambition and a career path. Those guys are either busy toiling in offices, traveling all over the place or are complete douchebags who view women as nothing more than walking sex robots (see finance bros for one such archetype).

2. If those guys are in town & meeting our looks standards, they are usually married/in a relationship or so tired from working to afford housing/food/other stuff in NYC that costs far more than elsewhere that they aren't in the mood if they actually get any quality of life hours. One friend familiar with this had to explain "coke dick" to me, a drug some people take to stay awake for those long hours of work.

3. NYC is not a place for those who aren't ambitious. Problem is, if you're not a retired person or don't want to date guys old enough to be your father then you are either stuck with dudes who are never around or unemployed bums who are always around. Or you get the resentful guys who aren't doing as well as you on career & will eventually take it out on you if you get successful or have success in some fashion.

I'm here not even able to find a dedicated FWB meeting my standards of living nearby, actually being in town at least 8 months out of the year, having or finding the time to meet me at least once a week, being my equal on the looks & intelligence scales and treating me as a lady instead of some sex robot. Since the painfulness of my divorce, I've gone more to my old self.

My old self was not a prude but it wasn't completely devoid of standards either. It's interesting I met Mr. Big Stuff when I was in Phase 1 of the divorce; if he'd met me as my normal self, not only would I have thought he didn't legitimately like me if he'd approached me but I might have been too conservative for him. I'm not in the best mood with him right now since he asked me about doing something that while it was reasonable terms, was something this "nice girl" just can't get behind and it made her wonder how he's seeing her. I wouldn't care to have some guy view me as a prostitute he has his way with then throws away like garbage. Even a self-confessed wannabe Charlie Sheen like Captain Horndog (at least if Charlie Sheen was sober) didn't throw me away like garbage, maybe because I made him promise not to have anything of that nature happening affect our longtime friendship & he might actually be scared of me (he's told me he was before). The scariest was hearing guys I met in Phase 1 of my divorce tell me they never thought I was a slut or easy even though I was trying very hard to wash away the memory of my ex-husband.

As for my ex-husband, I didn't meet him while living in NYC. I met him when I was living in CT & he was living in Long Island. We married when I was living in CT and he moved into my apartment, where we lived together for a time then moved to NYC together (Queens, to be precise). He was not a fan of Manhattan & said he wanted to live in Queens where his "people" were. If he's dating to this day, I'm certain he's not dating some trust funder in Manhattan; I'd question that woman's sanity & standards.

The upside of dating post-divorce is that I have gotten to be involved with much hotter guys than I was the first time I was single. Lately when I went places and noticed some hot guy, that hot guy ended up talking to me. I met such a guy at this speed dating event on my birthday proper after I'd turned in my paper for matches (he'd not talked to me during the event) but he approached me after the event. Having the Bipolar Fraud from a couple years ago approach me was also a great ego boost; my psyche is being healed with guys I consider cute approaching me. It's brought them down to earth & given me more confidence to own my looks, which is a very good thing in my opinion since we should all own who we are vs. being shamed into dulling our light for others.

The problem is none of the hotties with good jobs seem to be available physically or emotionally in the long term. This would be unacceptable to the Charlotte Yorks of the world. I'm thinking it's more highlighted in a big city but it's like "You can't even get a dedicated FWB. What the HELL is this?!?!?" Maybe if somebody convinced me I wasn't just going to be dumped again or lied to once again, I could consider marriage after a lot of trust being established and built but I'm just not there with anybody at this point. I feel like that's never going to happen and I'm done with being with someone just because I'm flattered they paid attention to me or wanted ANY attention vs. the right kind of attention.

I'm not sure any sane, straight men fitting my level of looks or intelligence have any Charlotte York in them. I've seen they're not all wannabe Charlie Sheen but I can't deal with wimps either. The only guy I've met who might have that lives further into New Jersey and is super busy (but not too busy as he's one of my great fans & champions).

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer: “Betty and the Belrays” by William Electric Black and Performed at Theater for the New City

* After an absence due to getting professional creative representation, yours truly is back on the review circuit. The details are a story for another day but let's just say after winning a prize, you can easily discover that the reality of having it is not the same as your expectations or your fantasy of having it.

Nonetheless, The Angry Redheaded Lawyer is back and decided this show was a must see along with a great foray back into the world of critical review. It turns out I was exactly right.

“Betty and the Belrays” is a story of early 1960's Detroit with a young, determined, idealistic woman whose dreams are bigger than her social station and her “place” as a recent high school graduate with pale skin and blond hair. Betty (Paulina Breeze) is precious, down to her stuffed bunny and her love of the local black radio station. She wins a call in contest to see her favorite girl group, The LoveJones and is not the least bit dissuaded from going to claim her tickets at the station (located in “the black part of town”).

Yellow dresses The Lovejoys (L-R) Kennedy Jazz, Alexis Myles, Christen Dekie. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

However, Betty's parents (John Michael Hersey & Gretchen Poole) tell her that since she's graduated high school and college is not an option due to her modest means, she needs to “Get a Job.” This song sounds blissful and happy like the other offerings in the show but the lyrics are very, very sad. Think “Roses” by Outkast or “Till Death Do Us Part” by Madonna for examples of songs that sound pretty but convey far more underneath the surface. Can you say “dream killing”?

Reluctantly, our heroine heads down to the telephone company to see if she can get a job as a telephone operator to make her parents happy. On her way there, she runs into Joy Jones (Alexis Myles), the lead singer of The LoveJones. Betty is confused as to why Joy, her musical idol, is seeking a job at the phone company when she should be on television and living the celebrity life. Joy tells her that because of her race, she's not even going to be considered as a telephone operator while Betty does have that option.

While waiting to be interviewed at the phone company, Betty meets Connie Anderson (Kalia Lay), a lovelorn woman suffering from a broken heart & Zipgun (Alexandra Welch), a tough girl with some rough edges and an unintentional sense of humor who's fed up with Connie's bawling. Instead of working as telephone operators, these women go along with Betty's plan to become a girl group despite not fitting the profile of the typical girl group. While going to get her concert tickets, Betty learns from Sam the Beat (Levern Williams) that the woman to see for making her girl group ambitions a reality is Loretta Jones (Aigner Mizzelle) a former Raylette who happens to be the mother of Joy Jones.

L-R Alex Welch, Kalia Lay, Paulina Breeze. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Ironing boards in tow, Betty and her group head to the home of Loretta Jones. Loretta is not having it, initially skeptical of these 3 white women then putting them to work ironing. Consider her the Mr. Myagi of this story: Betty, Connie and Zipgun are told they must go to church, do ironing every day for 2 weeks and can't smoke, swear, have weapons or drink alcohol if they're going to get an audition with her. Zipgun in particular is not happy about going to church or being banned from her cigarettes or her switchblade though she already adopts the name Zippy, which Betty introduces her as to the parents (Zipgun likes the sound of it, claiming “it sounds French”).

Miss Loretta Jones meets Betty & The Belrays, who have come for guidance. L-R Kalia Lay, Paulina Breeze, Aigner Mizzelle, Alex Welch. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

When the time comes, the ladies audition and both the members of The LoveJones and Loretta Jones see their talent. Knowing their families won't approve, however, the ladies keep their work as a girl group secret but do have the ironing jobs to keep accusations of idleness at bay. When they win a spot on television, they try to take The LoveJones along but Joy is not happy with this since her group was around first and Betty's group would be the headliner while they would be playing second fiddle. She says they should be invited to be on the show themselves, not tag along with Betty's group. Joy is quite aware of the problems her group faces because of their ethnicity that Betty and her group are not having to deal with. She calls Betty out on the Belrays song “My Boyfriend is a Negro”, saying Betty is merely profiting off social protest and doesn't actually have any skin in the game if her boyfriend is not actually a black man.

Betty & The Belrays on national TV. L-R Alex Welch, Kalia Lay, John Hersey, Paulina Breeze. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Clearly, Betty takes this sentiment to heart and feels it's time to try and fix things after her childhood neighborhood becomes unsafe and her parents are targeted because of her group's material once she has become famous, even turning down a record deal where she'd have to stop singing about social issues.

Betty returns home from tour and sees herself on cover of Life Magazine. Paulina Breeze and John Hersey. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

She and the other Belrays decide to join The LoveJones in a trip to the South to fight for civil rights for black people. This trip does not end happily for Betty though the end is not nearly as much a downer as you would expect.

Aigner Michelle, Levern Williams. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

The set dress, costuming, songs and actors were awesome. Zipgun was hilarious. This was also one of those shows where performers came into the audience so you felt like you were part of the action; the house was packed beforehand. I actually expected the story to be a bit different, that Betty and the Belrays had to get black women to pretend to be them since a white singing group wouldn't be accepted in Detroit or within the girl group community. Everyone around Betty tells her “how can you be in a girl group when you're white?”

However, you do see the love and mutual respect the group and Loretta Jones have for one another. Even Betty's mother comes around to helping her and the Belrays make their girl group aspirations come true by teaching them dance moves. Betty's perseverance and idealism overcome the doubters, even Joy Jones. The show balances social commentary with great musical numbers and the humor of Zipgun/Zippy (who maintains her personality throughout).

Overall, a wonderful show and my +1 very much approved. He actually kept asking me when I was going to write this review & said "it was great."

L-R Alex Welch, Kalia Lay, Aigner Mizzelle, Paulina Breeze. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Betty (Paulina Breeze) leads a civil rights demonstration. Photo by Jonathan Slaff