Saturday, November 03, 2007

Just looking for a home: From Baghdad to bag lady....

The day I got back from Iraq, I received a really strange phone call. "Hi, this is Angie. We're filming a movie over in San Francisco tomorrow, we're doing a scene that requires an actor to play the part of a homeless bag lady and someone recommended you...."

Oh boy. It's come down to this. I just step off the plane from Iraq and does anyone contact me because of my superior reporting, my fabulous insights into what is going on over there, my brilliant ideas about how to bring about a relatively happy ending to the tragedy of Shock and Awe or to even offer me a distribution tour for my book? Heck no.

The only person who phones me is someone looking for a bag lady! Life is strange.

So I get out my garbage bags, my broken 1970s glasses, my mismatched gloves with the fingers worn out and my shopping cart, un-braid my hair that hasn't been washed since Haditha, shuffle on over to Frisco and present myself on the set.

"Would you please step aside," the assistant director asks me politely, "we're filming here. But we'll be done in a minute and you can have your place back." She smiles at me apologetically like she is really sorry to have bothered this poor homeless broken-down creature. Yikes! Do I look THAT bad?

"No, hey, it's me. Jane?"

So the assistant director goes and sits me down next to the fountain at the UN Plaza, near City Hall. So I figure that while I'm waiting to be called for my big scene, I might as well panhandle. Somebody has to finance my trips to Iraq. Hey, don't laugh. In just 20 minutes, I got a quarter, two nickles and a dime.

Then guess what? You are NOT going to believe this. I can hardly believe it myself. Up walks this rather good-looking middle-aged man and he actually tries to pick me up! Sheesh. No one ever tries to pick me up when I'm dressed normally. Maybe I'm on to something here! The chic new Bag Lady look. But I fight off the urge to get taken for cocktails. I got work to do here!

Anyway, my big scene finally arrives and I am so fiercely homeless and pathetic that when it's over, the entire crew breaks into applause. Then I stumble back home muttering about life's ironies -- that nobody in America wants to hear about Iraq any more but there's always a place here for homeless bag ladies.

PS: In real life, I really AM in need of a home. Currently I'm living with my son and his Significant Other who are expecting a baby on New Years Day and, while they are very gracious about me living with them, it's hard on all of us because they're all lovey-dovey and nesting and stuff -- and I'm not.

So if anyone out there on the planet needs a house-sitter in the near future, please let me know. Just e-mail me at and put "House-sitter wanted" in the subject line. I'm available. And I even come with my own shopping cart.

PPS: Wanna see my big 30 seconds of fame? The movie is called "Coming Home" and is supposed to be playing at the San Francisco Film Festival in 2008.

PPPS: I had a dream last night that mortar rounds hit and took out one side of the Oakland Coliseum -- right in the middle of a Warriors game. And I woke up with the realization that all the bad things that have happened In Iraq can happen here too. America too can turn into a failed state where death stalks every corner and Americans are forced to flee to Canada for safety in the same way that Iraqis now flee to Syria and Jordan.

OR. The good things that have happened recently in Iraq can happen here too -- wherein the people themselves at a very basic level rise up and say, one by one, "We are sick and tired of all this killing and death. Stop it now or answer to us."