Shondaland is Set on My Destruction–With an Open letter to Shonda Rhimes, Herself

You read that right–Shonda Rhimes, Shondaland, and everything to do with that Magical Mistress of Television Hits are set on reducing me to a puddle of aspiring actor/writer tears.

You may think me overly dramatic (in this case, probably a “pro” since Shonda and I seem to teem with drama in our writing) but take a minute and hear me out–and if someone can save me, please answer my call.

As an actor in Hollywood, especially one of the ethnic variety, I recognized pretty early on that the breakdowns on the casting sites weren’t calling my name. Viola Davis makes note of this in her most recent acceptance speech for her Emmy win. It held true when I first got here in 2012 and still holds water today.

SO, armed with an English and (undeclared) Theatre degree from a prestigious university, I set about writing several pilots in which a character would expressly fit my age, nationality, acting range, etc. If the parts for women of color didn’t already exist, I would MAKE THEM EXIST.

Inspired by nearly 1/3 of my personal circle of collegiate friends skipping off to law school, I sat down to write a dramedy surrounding a group of students and several teachers. I interviewed an astonishing amount of my friends over email and over the phone. Hours went into my research. Days were spent outlining, writing, drafting, and writing some more. I had just polished what felt like the 6th draft of my show entitled “1L” when “How to Get Away with Murder” was announced.

GRR. AND. ARGH.

My first foray into writing a pilot was now worthless. Not to mention that I hadn’t been able to convince the Gate Keepers of Tinstletown to allow me even a toe in the door, let alone a whole foot.

I retuned to celebrity nannying full-time, licking my wounds and working on my next project. I had my first foray into celeb travel nannying by journeying to NYC, I learned to translate preschool-speak into English,  I learned what it means to balance a day-job that’s both emotionally and physically draining and still convince yourself to stop making excuses and CREATE. I battled ferociously with poop, Poop, and more POOP. I created an alter-ego-nanny that highlighted the absurdities of child rearing and childcare, in general, through the Facebook/Twitter/Instagram account of Judgy Nanny.

And then a lightbulb went off.

OMG SHORT AND FEISTY WRITE A PILOT ABOUT NANNYING. Make it about the intricate and delicate balance between working with someone else’s children without posing a threat to their parental instincts. Write it about toeing the line with OCD employers, about teaching little hellions how to be civilized tiny people, about avoiding the nanny cams when you need to change your clothes in a room other than the bathroom! ABOUT BATTLES WITH POOP.

I had just gotten through Act I last Friday. I was feeling good. I was so certain that my knowledge of children/childrearing and my talents of acting/writing would meld into one big ball of “Television GOLD”.

And then a friend messages me with this link from Deadline Hollywood:

‘Scandal’ Stars Kerry Washington & Katie Lowes To Produce Nanny Dramedy For Shondaland & ABC

Another posts this link to my Facebook from A.V. Club:

Kerry Washington to produce a Shondaland dramedy about nannies

And then a third friend messages me with this article from Variety:

‘Scandal’s’ Kerry Washington & Katie Lowes Producing Shondaland Nanny Dramedy

If y’all could see the chunks of hair I ripped out of my head in frustration, you would kindly advise me that I needed both a haircut and new headshots. I had both a metaphorical heart attack and stroke. I died, re-read the articles, and died some more. My life had turned into a twisted episode of The Truman Show!

So I sat down and wrote this blog. Here’s an open letter to my own personal Television Muse and Goddess:

Dear Shonda, 

STOP SPYING ON ME. I love that you and I are on the same plane of what is hot and what is NOT in Hollywood or what would make for excellent television programming. It boosts my ego and makes me feel a little more confident in my abilities as a writer and an actor in Los Angeles to know that we’re seeing eye to eye. But for the love of Pete, could you please stop producing my ideas before I can even get beyond the parking lot of La La Land? Better yet, how ’bout you and I talk it out over a cup of coffee and with the promise of a free night of babysitting, no matter what. Because this show is basically going to be ABOUT MY LIFE and I really want “in” on it. I would say have YOUR people get in touch with MY people, but I don’t have any people in LA, so here’s my email ohpear248@gmail.com. See that play on words of “Au Pair”–another form of childcarer? YEAH. AGAIN with this show being about my life!

Smooches,

Short and Feisty. 

Photo Credit | TheOdessyOnline.com

Photo Credit | TheOdessyOnline.com

fUNemployment.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” –John Lennon

Well, HELLO there, unemployment. We meet again, and this time for the first time since College, when I met with you intentionally and under my own terms.

Recently, I was poached from one nanny job with the promise of brighter horizons and better working conditions (not to mention a raise!). Turns out, that was a big ‘ole bust–and not on my part, honestly. There are certain conditions I’m able to work under and others that I’m not. I’ll leave it at that.

BUT.

That means that I am now without a job for the first time in a long time. I’ve always had another job lined up before I made the leap to another, but this time, it hasn’t quite worked out like that. I temped with a former family as soon as the “new” family and I parted ways, but that ended on Friday so now I have ZERO income.

And I’m not freaking out.

I repeat: I. Am. Not. Freaking. Out.

How completely out of character is that, y’all!? That’s the crazy part of having an anxiety disorder. I’m can lose my cool over minutiae that means nothing to anyone but when I suddenly find myself without employ, it’s all rainbows and butterflies.

That’s not entirely true–I am a bit worried but I was given severance and have been steadily saving quite a bit over the last year so I don’t immediately have to sell all of my possessions and live out of my car. Which, honestly, doesn’t sound like such a bad idea right now. I just need to park in a safe neighborhood, proposition friends for the use of their showers, etc.

I’ll have to think on that one.

ANYWHO–the only rational reason I can think of that’s keeping me from jumping off the deep-end is that I really needed a break. I’ve been working, in one form or another, since I was 13 years old. I haven’t had an honest to goodness break since that one semester in college I decided to just focus on schoolwork (then quickly ran out of money and got 2 part-time jobs to make up for lost time).

So now I’m kind of in creative limbo where I’m applying for jobs but attempting not to stress the freak out–because I think the best way for me to use that nervous energy that I would normally expend on worrying and focus it onto more creative endeavors. Like starting to get prepared to do NaNoWriMo next month! And brushing the dust off of my screenplays that have been sitting neglected in a pile on my desk! Or cleaning my pig sty of an apartment!

Endless possibilities for this interestingly new time in my life!

Photo Credit | blogging4jobs.com

Photo Credit | blogging4jobs.com

A Spinster’s Guide to Relocating Across the Country

This post is part of the Short and Feisty Finance Series.

Three years ago this summer, I packed up my worldly goods and moved 3,000 miles west. There were only a handful of naysayers that bemoaned the cost of such a move for someone so freshly out of college (2 years at that point). Everyone else was incredibly supportive of my Oregon Trail-esque (or, really, Route 66) journey. Moving solo put another hurdle in the path to the finish line because I was working on one person’s worth of savings–which at 24 years old, wasn’t much.

I should say that what I did was not the cheapest way to do it. Hibs (the BFF I recruited for the trip) and I took about 5 days to make the journey and we stopped at several free or inexpensive tourist attractions.

If you’re rich, purchase a moving service and fly your butt out there.

I’ll share some helpful tips for anyone hoping to make the jump on a dime.

  1. PLAN. A cross-country move takes a lot of it! So my usual off-the-cuff travel plans (exhibited here and here) just weren’t going to cut it. You’ve got to have a travel route, reservations at places to stay, and a time-line for starters.
    • If you can, travel to your destination city a couple of months ahead of time. Scout potential neighborhoods to live in, connect with any people that you may know who already live there and ask their advice, troll craigslist to look for apartment price ranges. Rent a car as cheaply as possible and drive around for hours checking things out. This was hands-down the most valuable reconnaissance job.

      Photo Credit | Moveacrosscountry.net

      Photo Credit | Moveacrosscountry.net

  2. MONEY. I hadn’t saved very much money before my move. I had been working two jobs, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week but it was mostly going to my car payment, gas, student loans, and rent. The first thing I did when I resigned from my jobs was to put my student loans on deferral. I had mostly subsidized loans, so that worked in my favor as far as accruing interest.

    I then took out a personal loan from my bank for about $5k. In the end, I only used about $500 of it, so I immediately paid the $4,500 back when I got settled in LA. Now that I’m committed to living debt-free, I sometimes cringe when I remember doing this BUT it was absolutely what I needed to do at the time to start living’ the dream…or the restless sleep before the dream because sometimes this whole waiting to break-in is less dreamy than I imagined.

  3. BUDDY. Find a friend that you like to travel with and con them into doing to trip with you. Promise lots of inside jokes and fun memories because you know you can’t pay their way entirely.
  4. DESTINATION. Have a landing place in mind. For me, Hibs’ Aunt and Uncle live in Orange County and very graciously let this traveling nomad crash at their house until I could get up to Los Angeles.
  5. TRANSPORTATION. Make sure your car is road ready.
  6. PACK LIGHT. I took whatever could fit in my back seat and my trunk. In fact, there was barely any room to fit Hibs’ travel stuff (sorry, Hibs). When I got to LA and found an apartment (the same building I’m in today) I unpacked and bought a bunch of new, yet inexpensive, furniture on credit. Yes, credit. Something I don’t do anymore, but it was completely necessary! I found a store that offered free financing for the first 18 months and paid the debt off in about 14 months so no interest!

That’s it! Those are the most important things to remember. If you want to sight-see, find free or inexpensive places. If you need some on-the-road entertainment, bring an MP# player and an AUX cord or do the old fashioned thing and burn a CD. Good luck on your move!

*SIDE NOTE* My 5 year old nanny kid didn’t know what a CD was until she saw me pull one out and stick it in the CD player…

For When Others Don’t Understand.

I am not one for confrontation–and now that I think of it, most people would probably say this is true for them, too.

I am, by nature, a people pleaser. I don’t like to start friction and I really don’t like letting people down.

But the reality is: I don’t live in a Utopia where communication is always perfect and misunderstandings don’t happen. Sometimes I offend people, unintentionally upset them with my words or actions, or somehow make them feel uncomfortable.

It’s inevitable, it happens to us all at one time or another. Even to that perfectly coiffed Facebook couple taking hipster-inspired, heavily filtered photos wearing vintage clothing and boxy eyeglasses. YES! Even they come to disagree with each other and may have it out while making french press coffee and gluten-free, dairy-free flapjacks (because “pancakes” are too mainstream).

I used to spends days, nights, weeks feeling guilty for causing someone else discomfort or stress, even when I didn’t intentionally lob it onto them. I would apologize profusely and get bent out of shape, myself. I would be more mindful of my words in the future and things would mostly just get awkward with the person I had slighted.

But then I had a revelation, and it came from a really unusual place.

When Kate Winslet won the Academy Award for Best Actress for “The Reader” I was psyched. For years, Kate had been one of my absolute favorite actresses and I still love to re-watch her acceptance speech.

If you haven’t seen the movie, without spoilers, I can tell you that Kate’s character is an SS Guard at a Nazi concentration camp. She didn’t do any of the murdering, but she was a part of the operation and is put on trial during the Nuremberg Trials. When you watch, you may find yourself having a strange sense of empathy, if not sympathy, for her character (which is SHOCKING considering she plays a Nazi–or at least someone who worked for the Nazis).

After she delivered her speech, she was shuttled to the press room and a member of the media asked Kate if she felt guilty for having people feel either of those emotions toward a Nazi. Her response was something like, “I can’t be responsible for the way people react to what I do.”

That hit me hard, not just as an actress, but as a human being. All you can do is live your life as truthfully as possible and realize that you aren’t responsible for how people react.

Sure, if you carjack someone or purposely smash their very expensive Ming vase, you’re on the hook for what can only be their negative reaction.

But when it comes to the day to day, when it comes to interacting on the most basic level, and when it comes to staying true to yourself and your needs–

you are not responsible for the way people react. 

The people pleaser in me wants my oversized ego to capitulate to the other person, but if you do that too often and with too much abandon, you start to become a martyr. You start to resent the other party and you resent your inability to prioritize your feelings and needs. If you’re already being careful and intentional with your words, it really doesn’t matter how anyone else reacts.

This blog just got incredibly philosophical, which is rarely my intention. But I wanted to just put this out there into the interwebs in case someone else needs reminding from time to time.

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