My Little Hollywood Bungalow

"A very big Hollywood screenwriter once lived here!" you can practically hear a passing bus driver informing the tourists onboard. In my case, only that first part would be a lie, as I do in fact rent a sweet little bungalow right here in the heart of the Hollywood dream factory. It's somewhere between Marilyn Monroe and Shelley Winters' famous house on Sweetzer and Charles Bukowski's walk-up near Hollywood Boulevard, so I suppose that's a small claim to fame right there.

My house is one of seven cottages built around a courtyard back in 1929, presumably for studio housing. Today it's rent-controlled, $835 a month, up from $700 when I first moved in nine years ago. I keep waiting for other bits of serendipity to befall me, but the trouble with serendipity is it's just so damn serendipitous. Eight-thirty-five doesn't seem so cheap when you don't have eight-thirty-five. I'm not sure how I've always managed to come up with it, month after month. Financial aid, I guess. Scholarships, prizes, pity gifts from Loved Ones Who Really Believe In My Talent.

I have a new plan. The lady from the Fairfax Flea Market called to let me know there's booth space available on Sunday. So here I am emptying the place out so I can sell it off at the same place where I began collecting it back when I was new in town, when needlepoint pillows and crystal chandeliers seemed as necessary to My Big Hollywood Life as a martini shaker, some really good olives and the latest screenwriting software.
I'm only selling the small things with big price tags. A couple of pieces of Waterford, some Limoges, a wooden box full of eight silver place settings. Do I even know eight people any more? I've got antique linens from somewhere in Yugoslavia, crocheted by my former in-laws and given to me like some kind of consolation prize when I woke up and threw out my ex-husband to come out here and follow my Big Hollywood Dream.

So, yeah, it's not been a great day. Matter of fact it's one of those days when you realize you really did bet the farm coming out here, and that's when you start to cry.

That's enough, crybaby. You slap yourself in the fact a few times, like Annette Bening in American Beauty. You've still got your talent, and your Script They're Saying Good Things About and Your Very Supportive Manager and Your Big Producer Friend Who'll Be Getting Back To You By Friday!

And you've got your little bungalow. So what if it feels a little empty inside? You have to admit there's a certain familiarity to that, and then you have to chuckle. And there's always another flea market, right? Some day soon you'll be back on the buying side. What's that great Jay McInerney line? "I went so quickly from aging failure to young success."

You're feeling somewhat empowered now -- until you consider sticking a pricetag on your grandmother's Wedgwood box. You remember the day she slipped it to you, secretively, so as not to attract the attention of the greedy cousins lurking in the background. You later write your Hilarious Funeral Screenplay based on these events, the one where you lose everything only to realize that all that really matters is the love of your family. You do tack on a fictitious revenge plot where you snatch a moving van and take everything, despite your requisite enlightenment, right in the middle of Grandma's funeral mass.

Maybe that's the real problem with making it your personal responsibility to write Big Hollywood Movies. That rousing, life-affirming, stand-up-and-cheer third act is almost always fictitious. In real life, most everybody's just doing their best to hang on another day. You don't have to be stuck back in Umatilla to live a life of quiet desperation.

Damn, that's just one more thing they never tell you in film school.