Love in a bipolar world: Living in a distorted reality

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I’ve been living in this fantasy world out here on the West Coast. My reality has been turned inside out. Love and obsession have clouded all my senses. Being on the set of a movie or TV show has become my temporary removal from my distorted reality, sinking me further into this fantasy world. Hollywood is a bipolar slut and a lying little whore! This life is so different from what I have experienced in the past.

My studio apartment (Photo by Danny Keaton)
My studio apartment
(Photo by Danny Keaton)

I grew up in Texas. Raised in a conservative Catholic family, but I was always the screw up. I would daydream of moving to L.A., being my own person and not living under the dictatorship of my father.

Now I live in a studio apartment built in 1929 in Koreatown near the intersection of Beverly Blvd and Vermont Ave. I wash dishes in my bathtub! I dwell in between downtown L.A. and the Hollywood Sign, above the constant roar of the 101 – Hollywood Freeway.

I love my neighborhood (most of the time.)  In my opinion, it is the most ethnically mixed part of L.A., and that’s what gives K-town such a diverse atmosphere. It’s safe to stand outside my building and smoke a cigarette ‘til about midnight, after that it gets sketchy. After 2 a.m., crackheads and vampires roam the streets, and the worst are the crackheads who think they are vampires.

Beverly/Vermont Metro train station entrance (Photo by Danny Keaton)
Beverly/Vermont Metro train station entrance
(Photo by Danny Keaton)

There is a lot of foot traffic in my hood, people everywhere moving about.  Tamale ladies and the homeless hang out at the Beverly/Vermont Metro train station entrance, across the street from my apartment. Sometimes you see young tourist coming up the escalator from the train platform with a shocked and confused look on their face. I imagine them on the Union Station red line train, “Oh look Beverly/Vermont is the next stop…Beverly, maybe that’s close to Beverly Hills, let’s get off here.”  When they come up to the street level, they are thinking to themselves, “Did we take the train into Mexico?”

The Korean guy named Bing works at the store across the street, he is quiet but friendly. I buy cigarettes and an occasional bottle of Jack Daniels using my debit card hoping I have enough in my checking account to cover cigarettes (did I mention I wash dishes in my bathtub?).

Hope's bus stop Beverly/Vermont Metro train station entrance
Hope’s bus stop
Beverly/Vermont Metro train station entrance

My Ukrainian landlord, Elena is so sweet and smiles all the time. She was an engineer in her old country; she asked me one day if I knew of any work so she could earn extra money. It’s all about what can you do to make a dollar out here in L.A.

In my section of Los Angeles you see same sex couples walking down the street holding hands without fear of ridicule, because here, we live and let live. A Guatemalan lady pushes a shopping cart of laundry with her little ones beside her. There goes Hope taking the number 14 Beverly Center bus to work. She waits tables until she makes it big in Hollywood.

There’s that scary lady who has the 80’s metal band hair, always wears a black dress and an eye patch! Every day you can see her squatting down on the sidewalk to stare at traffic. Holy shit, she scared the hell out of me when I first saw the bogey-woman!! Even the crackheads who think they are vampires avoid her.

One time in the hallway she said to me, “Hi, how are you?” She stopped me in my tracks; I was shocked at what came out of her mouth!  She had the sweetest, most feminine voice of an angel. I turned around and responded, still stunned because I expected to hear the voice of a drunken pirate who’s been smoking for 40 years, not the voice of a Siren. I did the one thing I wouldn’t want anyone to do to me; I judged someone based on how they looked.

Every time I get the phone call that I got the part or even just a call back, I get that rush of “Hollywood magic” in my veins. It’s the best high in the world, being an extra in a Virginia Madsen movie or my first lines in a feature film; it’s that same elated feeling every time. My first lines in a movie were; “Hey man, wanna get high?”(“…and isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?”)

Palm trees out my bedroom window Beverly/Vermont Metro train station entrance
Palm trees out my bedroom window
Beverly/Vermont Metro train station entrance

My first Hollywood audition, I got the part!  (Hollywood beginner’s luck I guess.) I played a PhD. Professor of Psychology (“…a little too ironic…”) This TV show is syndicated in 21 markets across the country.  Later that night I washed dishes in my bathtub!

But the truth is…the truth is sometimes I’m scared as hell!! I’m scared that I will fail. I’m scared that I will disappoint the ones who believe in me. I’m scared every time I see a homeless person on the street because that could easily be me. Sometimes I can move with the flow of people walking down Wilshire Blvd. or dodging tourist who are too busy looking at the stars on the sidewalk at Hollywood/Highland, and other times I can’t get out of bed because I feel paralyzed.

My distorted reality is fading away.
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For more information and help call NDMDA Depression Hotline Support Group at (800) 826-3632 or the U.S. Suicide Hotline at (800) 784-2433.
“Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” – Basil King

Danny Keaton
Standup Comedian – Writer – Lover – Bastard