Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday Photo with extra backstory

I don’t normally shop at Ralph’s (one of the local big chain supermarkets).

I think I was just out of college when I figured out that I spent much less if I shopped at the local farmer’s markets for produce and got everything else at Trader Joe’s (the local ‘specialty foods’ market which is a hell of a lot cheaper – especially for booze). Sure, I couldn’t get the brand name stuff at TJ’s but once I got used to the weird chewy pasta and panda-flavored crackers, there was no turning back. I became a happy supermarket exile.

I lived like this for years, supplementing my diet with the occasional expedition into the local funny-smelling health food store for bulk items like rice and beans which worked out to be cheaper even though trips to said store were a guarantee that I’d run into at least one hippy. It’s not that I dislike hippies per se, it’s just that the majority of them annoy the hell out of me and I want to beat them with a rolled up copy of, well, anything that’s been published this century until they regain their senses and wash off that nasty patchouli.

Even after I started making enough money to buy the overpriced crap at Whole Foods (yuppies bother me too, but they’re easier to scare and sometimes don’t smell as bad) just on the off chance it might possibly be healthy, I never went back to the regular supermarkets. I continued to buy produce from a hippy at a farm stand (remember, only most of them annoy me) and get just about everything else from Trader Joes.

Until today.

No, I haven’t finally embraced fluorescent lighting, soft Muzak(tm), and corporate cereal stocked in a non-threatening environment.

I have gift cards. $200 worth – and I’m too broke to turn down free food.

A week ago, I filled out an application for a Motion Picture and Television Fund assistance grant – I figured they’d string me along for a few weeks and then give me the sad face as they hit me with a list of restrictions on grants that excluded damn near everybody (like the WGA grants – supposedly for non-writers affected by the strike, but just try and get one).

I had my in-person interview today, and much to my surprise, the extra wonderful social worker cut me a check for next month’s rent right there on the spot. Right after I’d finished spelling my landlady’s last name for her, she asked if I wanted some grocery store gift cards.

Why, of course I did. It’s food, right? She then handed me four $50 cards and apologized because she didn’t have larger denominations available. Perhaps she mistook my stunned misty-eyed gratitude for pique.

I thanked her profusely, dried my eyes, promised I’d pay them the amount of the rent check back when I started working again (“you don’t have to- just if you can eventually. It’s a grant, not a loan”) and made a beeline for Ralph’s.

Which is where I saw this:
Is this really necessary?

Really, now. There’s overkill and then there’s overkill.

I will be enjoying my free food, though – it will also nice to be able to buy the good toothpaste and not have to agonize over it (“really, do my teeth need to be all that white? I’m kind of old anyways”).

I love you, Motion Picture and Television Fund. If I ever start working again, I’ll donate as heavily as I can.

Plus, if I ever manage to accumulate enough crap to justify my bothering with a will, you’ll be in it (don’t even start with me about it. Right now, the sum total of my assets are an old car that leaks oil like it’s going out of style, not nearly enough cash to stuff a mattress, and a soon to be obsolete television set that may or may not turn on when asked. Oh, and a 20+ year old busted up saddle that’s unsafe to use because the billets need to be replaced. Yeah, that’s worth fighting over).

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos, , , , , , , , , , , ,

12 Responses

  1. Annika says:

    That’s the best reason I can think of to go to Ralphs. I’m so glad the fund is, well, better than the EDD (not hard, I know). Yay, rent!

  2. CJ says:

    Just a tip I learned when penniless w/a car that leaked from every orifice…I took it to a tech school that trains mechanics, and they fixed it for free in exchange for using it in their classes. I don’t know if you can find a place like this, but it definitely beats putting oil and transmition fluid in the car everytime I want to go somewhere. BTW, I work on a studio lot and productionis really ramping back up, so good luck!

  3. Mike Bell says:

    The misty eyed moment of gratitude is a feeling I’ve known as well. A year and a half ago, I quit a perfectly good editing job because I was stressed out and thought the best way to deal with it was to totally screw up my ability to pay my bills.

    And because I quit, I was denied unemployment.

    Suddenly every little gesture of kindness, every little freelance job, every little penny meant the world to me.

    One of my friends sent me some cash with this note, “You don’t have to pay me back, just don’t go getting all teary again next time you see me.”

    I paid him back anyway.

  4. JCW says:

    “A side of the film industry most people never see”.

    Indeed.

    I cannot help but be amazed at how you can make me smile and bring close to tears in the same post.

    Now I can understand why the set of MILK has had such a good “vibe”. Not just because of the crew’s support of the subject, but because they’ve been happy just to be able to work.

    God bless The Motion Picture and Television Fund. Your employment in the very near future is in my prayers.

  5. hello says:

    Peggy,

    The following schools in Los Angeles offer degrees in automotive mechanics. Please see:

    Which Schools Offer Automotive Mechanics Degrees in Los Angeles, CA?
    http://degreedirectory.org/articles/Which_Schools_Offer_Automotive_Mechanics_Degrees_in_Los_Angeles_CA.html

    You’ll need to call each school to find out if they offer any sort of “free” or discount repair services.

    Also please check with your nearby faith-based organizations to see if you could barter your electrical skills. You’d be surprised what might be available. For instance, my Mom’s church offers food, shelter, clothing for barter with trained carpenters, construction, electricians, etc. And they don’t proselytize either. :)

    Good Luck to you,

  6. clyde says:

    that is the coolest post i have read anywhere in weeks. there really are some nice people/organizations out there …

  7. Peter says:

    Trader Joe’s rules.

  8. Dave2 says:

    That’s pretty amazing… I never knew that anything like that even existed. I’m hopeful that the big stars donate generously to the fund, supporting those who support them.

  9. Meg says:

    The Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills is an -amazing- place. Their motto is “We Take Care of Our Own.” They do. A director friend retired to one of their cottages, and man, it beats ANY retirement home anywhere. They have a hospital right on the grounds, social services, a wonderful library and screenings. Jody Foster paid out of her own pocket for an indoor swimming pool (her mom had Alzheimer’s and swimming was one of her few pleasures in her later years, so the pool is in her memory.) The Home is always looking for volunteers-if you have the time, it’s a very rewarding experience. I am glad to hear that the Fund helps the YOUNGER folk, too.

  10. Kaela says:

    For the past week and a half I have been reading your entire blog (while at work I might add). This is probably one of the best blogs I have come across (and thats saying something coming from me, I usually get bored quickly).

    It is really great to get an insiders POV into the film industry, especially from a woman in a generally male dominated department!

    I can’t wait for more!

  11. Norman says:

    I want to retire to the Woodland Hills home some day. Settle down on my easy chair and talk about the good old days — when I had to watch the Oscars.

    Sorry, last night’s ceremony is still on what is left of my mind.

  12. Miss Musings says:

    how cool is that – that’s great you were able to get some help! Does the MPTF extend to those who work in the industry on the east coast? looks like it might just be for those working in Cali…and the WGA was giving out loans…?!?

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