Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Day in the Life of an Ordinary Gal



I wake up at 6:30. Damn, it’s late. I fall out of bed and stumble through to the kitchen to make breakfast. That damn conference, I wish I hadn’t said I’d go. What persuaded me to think I would enjoy being in a room full of producers and directors and film movers and shakers, all of them important, none of them likely to be much interested in me?

In any case, it’s a government thing, and will probably be a mindless spewing of long words, a lot of sound and noise signifying nothing. I drag my heels through breakfast and take a longer shower than I should. Crap, no time to wash my hair. Nothing decent to wear. Well at least I’ve got my heels, they make the jeans that I should have washed yesterday look sophisticated, right?

I try to tease my hair into something that says nonchalant chic and dash out the door. It’s hot already, and I’m sweating. Traffic is at a standstill, which makes me sweat some more. Minutes flash by, heart beating, mad at myself. I should have set the alarm. Drumming my fingers on the steering wheel doesn’t achieve anything, curiously. Eventually traffic moves.

To my astonishment I get there. No problem with parking. I swan out of the parking garage and cross the road into a dark glass and glistening crystal chandelier hotel foyer where life kind of stands still, trapped in a time warp. An awfully polite concierge directs me to the second floor. Where nothing is happening. Damn, I should have checked the email, where the hell is this conference.

Relax, take a deep breath, I tell myself as another awfully polite gentleman guides me out onto the street and points. It’s across the road. I have twenty minutes to spare as it happens, but I’m back in panic mode. I dash across the street hoping my heels don’t get caught in a grill a la The Wedding Planner, although having a clever funny handsome doctor fall on top of me isn’t such a bad idea.

It's so not a bad idea that it entertains me until I’m in the foyer of the right place. Everybody is so friendly in these rich-dude hotels these days, I like it. I’m feeling a little more like myself again – fantasising about yummy men will do that to you – as the friendly foyer fellow dashes to keep the lift open for me. It’s occupied by an important-looking woman. My heart sinks. I know where she’s heading.

I try to hold onto myself and engage her, but she knows I’m just a writer without a film to my name yet – which tiny little word is in capitals and bold in my head, but not in hers. She’s a film producer, director, writer. “We all have to do a little of everything these days don’t we?” she says as she swans out of the lift. That does it for me. I don’t like her.

She pushes in front of me at the welcome table, states her name and loudly insists she replied to the RSVP email about the conference. Of course there’s no name tag. She flies off the handle. Because she’s so important. Funny that everybody else who replied has a name tag. “Well, I must be lucky,” I say, “my tag is here.” I say it, albeit it in my head, with just the right touch of chic frothy sarcasm. 

She gets a makeshift tag. I get mine and we move to the breakfast table. Yum. Nice hot strong coffee, hot milk, scones piled with jam and cream. She’s still bitching about bad organisation. I’m still a little in her power, I’m ashamed to admit, and I make a friendly comment. We start a kind of a conversation, she on her pedestal and me being nice and friendly and knowing my place. At her feet.

Seriously I gag at myself sometimes. I’m in mid sentence and she notices somebody more important. She latches ingratiatingly onto him. He’s not that interested. I can’t help laughing, and it totally breaks the spell for me. I let it all go. I don’t know anybody, I don’t need to try and impress anybody. Can’t, anyway. I got here on time, I’ve got my coffee and my name tag. It’s enough. 

I walk into the conference room and sit down, open my laptop. Might as well get to the 8th draft of a screenplay I think I’m working on. In between working at staying alive, eating, sleeping, and probably watching too much TV. Life in the fast lane. The room starts to fill up with people who look pretty normal to me. Huh. A man sits down in front of me. I smile hallo at him and he beams back at me. 

This day is starting to look good. The Minister for Arts and Culture and Something Else is a dynamo, and so are all the other speakers. This is really fun. The room gets opened up to questions. I have one. My heart pounds as my internal Dementor lets fly at me. Nobody wants to hear your stupid questions. Dammit, I wish my body and my mind wouldn’t do this to me. I stick my hand up anyway. Damn Dementor. 

I get handed a mike. I stand up. I look around the room. Huh. Everybody looking at me. I like this! Dementor slides away in shame and skulks somewhere out of sight. I like that even more. I ask my question, my voice is strong, I’m to the point. Last time I tried this I was too scared to enjoy it. This time I just want more! My moment in the spotlight. My question gets a direct and lucid answer. 

The room is alive, buzzing with energy. No political speak here. No bureaucratic crap here. What a day this has been, what a rare mood I’m in. I reluctantly relinquish the mic and sit back down looking ahead to my next question, thrilled at being part of this crowd, not an outsider. Could there be anything more exciting than this?

Well, having a handsome clever funny doctor fall on top of you in the middle of the street maybe.