Monday, February 01, 2010

Santa Maria!

The title of this post is meant to be said with a Spanish telenovela flair- that is, overly dramatically, with a prolonged rolling R. "Santa Maria! Dios mio!" That kind of thing. Not to be racist, even though I am.

Visual effects, if I have not made it perfectly clear in the past, is like pasta in a pot at a roiling boil. You can't really see what's going on in there, there are frequent spillovers if not watched carefully, and there is a fine line between perfect and overdone. It's not even a short pasta, like farfalle, which would be easier to keep an eye on. It's definitely a long pasta. On easier movies, it's a relatively cooperative pasta- let's say spaghetti. On this show, it's been tagliatelle all the way- long, thick pasta that is absolutely beastly to detangle and impossibly difficult to toss in sauce.

Oh, yes, I'm comparing my entire industry to different types of pasta. This is probably the point that men in white coats should come to fetch me. (I just typed "white men in coats" before I corrected myself, but thought the mistake was funny. And possibly Freudian. And definitely more proof of my current idiocy.)

I'm punchy, slap-happy, drunk on exhaustion, running on fumes, and any other colloquial phrase that describes extreme mental degradation. My brain has become mush, my e-mails are getting weirder, and I find that I forget the words I want to say just before I say them. For instance, names. I'm forgetting peoples' names lately, something I never did before.

Santa Maria!

That's my new refrain every time something goes wrong- "Santa Maria!" I think I need castanets or something for added flair. Maybe a black lace fan?

In December, I began going to Santa Maria two or three days per week. Come into work (in LA) on Monday morning. Go to a meeting. Hop into the car (with driver) for a three-hour trek, during which I felt nauseated (I get carsick if I'm not driving). Get out of the car groggily in Santa Maria. Go to work there.

Get back to the hotel late at night. Work some more from there.

Get up the next morning. Get ready to go, pack everything up, and go to work in Santa Maria. Then get in a car midday or so and come back to work in LA.

A tough, tough schedule. I didn't think it would be so bad, but after three weeks, I was not a happy worker bee.

Then came the punch in the gut that I was anticipating- rather than going back and forth, I would have to move to Santa Maria for a few weeks, for an indefinite amount of time.

Well. That certainly takes the wind out of a girl's sails.

I drove up in early January with a giant suitcase and a bagful of chocolates, dread and anger burning a pit in my stomach. I don't do very well with strangers, a legacy of my childhood as an extremely shy girl, and I particularly didn't want to be in the company of these people, whom I had worked with for the past five months and whom I disliked for professional reasons.

The three weeks passed full of strum und drang.

I am a stronger person for having gone through this. I know it, and I appreciate it, but I certainly don't like it. I think this was good for my career, since I now know that I am capable of working anywhere, no matter what the (horrendous) circumstances may be.

I drove back on Sunday (yesterday) with something akin to guilt- survivor's guilt, maybe. (And, of course, as soon as I got home, I had work to do.)

Today, I'm back at work in LA, at my desk that I have not seen in three weeks, sitting in my beloved chair that felt neglected (it told me so).

I'm hoping to regain my sanity in the coming weeks, which I'll need when I start another movie ... and begin this unraveling process all over again.

I took this photo on my phone around 6:00 in the morning one day, when I had woken up after nightmares full of CG environments and horrible FX passes. My hotel room was on the fourth floor, right across the street from a Jack in the Box (there were four- FOUR- that I passed in my time at Santa Maria).

One of (the few) things I liked about the town was that there aren't many tall buildings. I could see things for miles, it seemed, on clear days.

Many more posts about Santa Maria (and Santa Maria!) coming soon, I'm sure. I need to unpack, do laundry, and try to de-zombie-fy myself first.