“Getting My Life Together”

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I currently find myself in a transitional period, the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

I’m out of debt, I have an agent that I’m hoping will score me some sweet auditions (nothing yet), and I’m acquiring income by piecing together any freelance opportunities that come my way.

I’m staying afloat, paying my own way, and not starving for my art.

YET.

For those that know me in person, or have been reading this blog from the very beginning, you may be asking yourselves how I’m managing to live this new lifestyle while keeping depression and my anxiety disorder at bay.

The short answer is: I’m not.

I’m not.

That’s the honest truth.

I’m terrified, and I’m worried, and I’m anxious, and not an hour goes by each day when the ticker tape in my head doesn’t stream:

I NEED TO GET MY LIFE TOGETHER. 

In fact, whenever someone asks me how I’m doing or what I’m doing or where I am in my journey, my response is always, “I’m getting my life together.”

That single phrase both kills my confidence and my motivation in one foul swoop. It makes me feel guilty for not having full-time guaranteed income, makes me feel impotent (not in the sexual definition–the other one–google it, you dirty minded person) for not being able to control my career path, and just generally drives me insane because it implies that I AM NOT DOING ANYTHING.

[The shouty capitals are off the chain in this post because that’s what my subconscious is doing 24/7–it’s yelling at me. Sorry for taking it out on you, but misery loves company.]

But then, I stop and think about what it is that I am doing and I try to cut myself some slack:

  • I’m showering almost regularly (don’t judge!)
  • I’m accepting the work that’s being offered to me without thinking that I’m “taking a step back” by nannying or doing cashier work or menial assistant tasks
  • I’m really trying to meet up with friends more now that my schedule is flexible (which is hard when income is tight)
  • I’m not spending all day in bed depressed…at least not every day There have been quite a few in the past months where everything hurts and life sucks and I just need to try and sleep it off.

Other than that, I’m reminding myself to breathe.

And really utilizing the emotional support systems that I have because, MAN, this is tough. I’ve been talked off the ledge more times than I can count by my closest friends (who happen to be thousands of miles away).

I’m shaking while writing this because this is a “no income week” so far and I’m wondering if anything will pop up.

I’m looking ahead to March and my 30th birthday and wondering what I have to show for the three decades I’ve been circling around the sun.

I am not in a happy place, or even a good place for that matter (The Good Place on NBC is a great show that’s been helping me get by, just gonna plug that. 1st season on Netflix, 2nd season happening now).

It’s hard to be creative and to write when survival is looming over your head and you feel selfish for pursuing these astronomical goals and not abandoning them for stable work.

It’s lonely being a spinster sometimes, and modern dating makes it even harder to find and form an emotional/romantic connection with someone without the threat of being “ghosted” or ending up in a dead end relationship.

Things suck right now. Yes, they could always be worse, but HOLY CRAP, you guys!

But I’m always open and honest when I write on these pages, so there you have it. Things are ugly right now. But I know that once you’ve hit the bottom, you can only go up. And I’m thankful that my “bottom” hasn’t found me starving and homeless.

YET.

I wanted to end this post on a high note, but that would feel really disingenuous.

So here’s a pretty picture of the sunset that I took at The Grove last night.

Just because.

 

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The First Day of the Rest of My Life

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I was thinking of a title for this blog post and the one I landed on was the first thing that popped into my head.

Something about it, though, made me think that I’d already used it as a title before (but I’m too lazy to go back and search). The reason for this being that, on multiple occasions, I’ve literally said to myself, “this is the first day of the rest of my life”.

After college, I boldly stepped into the Washington, DC nanny world (and got kicked in the butt with my first job)–knowing that I wanted to boost my resume before I moved out to LA so I could wipe baby butts for a day job. I shot out of a cannon 1.5 years later and landed in Los Angeles. Most recently, I tumbled head first into the world of celebrity assisting.

And today, after 5 years in Los Angeles, I make the moves to pursue acting and writing full time.

My assistant job ended, the movie now complete from my former employer’s end of things, and all things considered, I would say the experience was absolutely invaluable.

I learned a lot about the industry, I learned a lot about film production on a big budget scale, and I learned more about myself than I went in thinking I would. You really don’t know what you’re made of until you’re tossed into less than ideal situations and are told to make your way out with a broken compass, spotty cellular reception, and a short string of dental floss.

But I did it, I’m on the other side, stronger than I was back in January, I’m completely out of debt, and I’m ready to get this show on the road–or the screen, really, because I’m not interested in doing touring theatre.

This is the part when I break into cold sweats, wake up every three hours at night panicking about the future, and start to compulsively eat as much junk food as my stomach and poor acne-riddled countenance can handle.

And I did that for a little while but then I woke up this morning, the first day where I get to go H.A.M. on this crazy dream, with so much determination that I almost feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience.

And I think I’m so dang pumped to make moves because it feels like the Universe is conspiring to help me achieve my ultimate goal.

As soon as I got back from traveling with the film production, my old nanny families pounced and scooped me up for every available hour I was willing to give them. I was referred to a few new families and a couple of new freelance assistant gigs. Thankfully, gloriously, money isn’t going to be a huge issue. A struggle, yes, but I feel like I can make this happen.

Most exciting of all, and the reason I know the Universe is on my side: a brand new friend, not officially associated with the industry in any way, referred me as an actor to one of her friends that works in the casting world. Even if nothing comes of it, the fact that she referred me has single handedly spurred me forward into the unknown with confidence and excitement.

Do you know how hard it is to get a referral out here?!

Really damn hard.

People in this industry usually aren’t willing to go out on a limb for you unless it directly benefits them. Rarely do people at the top extend a hand backwards and pull someone up from the bottom. Hopefully things will not always be this way, but it’s what I’m working with now.

I refuse to focus on that aspect of the monster to which I’m currently attempting to sacrifice my life.

Instead, I’ve been getting really quiet with myself over the last few weeks. I’ve been trying to objectively look back at my journey over the last 5 years. I’ve been trying to see past what I didn’t achieve and look at what the heck has happened.

The common theme: I’ve moved forward, never backward.

Every negative thing that’s happened to me out here in La La Land has acted as an electric shock to keep me from veering too far off of the path I’ve chosen for myself. It’s kept me focused on what I want, kept me from being sidetracked by my Plan B and Plan C, all the way to Plan Z (I don’t actually have that many alternate plans. In fact, the only one I currently have is to move into the woods and be a hermit writer).

My time is now, I can feel it, and I can’t wait to share every step of the way with you guys.

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5 Years Here and I’m Feeling…OLD.

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I’m coming at you a month late with this one, but I have been in LA 5 years.

FIVE YEARS, PEOPLE.

And now when I tell new people I meet that I’ve been here for FIVE YEARS, the first comment is always “WOW, that’s such a long time,” and then I fall to the ground and curl up in the fetal position.

Because no starving artist miles away from their intended destination likes to be reminded of JUST how much time they’ve been at it.

I’m still working on embracing the “big 5” and I think writing out this blog and seeing my progress will help…right? RIGHT?!

Let me take a little second to drop the link to the summary of YEAR 4 for a little comparison. See where the Short and Feisty one was a year ago before sinking your teeth into this one.

Without anymore preamble, let’s jump right in to this year, shall we?

Things I HAVE accomplished:

  • Worked my first personal assistant job on a big budget studio feature.
    • Survived said job with very little (physical) scarring–I came home in one piece, and I’m counting that.
    • Made a ton of new friends with the other assistants/crew members on the project.
  • I PAID OFF MY CAR LOAN.
    • I am officially debt free and it feels MAGNIFICENT.
  • I’m still in the same apartment, though I didn’t live in it for 6 months of this year. I’m beating my previous record, anyway!
  • I only had one truly severe panic attack within this past year–
    • It happened on a plane, in the lavatory of all places, and I thought I was going to die, but PROGRESS.
  • I wrote the first three episodes of a web series, made a pitch video, and it’s currently being considered for a competition. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
  • I’ve started the perilous task of getting rid of half of my belongings by the end of the year. I’ve collected so much stuff over the last 5 years and I’m sure I don’t use at least half of it, so it gotsta go.
  • I visited: England, Scotland, Greece, and New Zealand this year. I also spent time in Hawaii, almost all of those destinations through work.
  • I SIGNED WITH A TALENT AGENT.
    • This is BY FAR the best news of the entire year because it is the BIGGEST THING that makes me feel like I’ve actively made progress in my acting career. I’ve convinced someone that I have what it takes, now I just need to get out on some auditions to prove them right.

Things I’ve learned:

On Work:

  • Gain as much experience as you can in whatever industry your interested in, but never forget what your ultimate goal is.
    • Make decisions that best serve that goal. You may be tempted to veer off into another path for a number of reasons (usually more money for survival) but don’t do it. Eyes on the prize.
  • Never depend on others to get you where you need to be. Honestly, the only person you can count on is YOURSELF. That probably sounds more harsh than I mean it to, but it’ll keep you from being disappointed when others don’t pull for you.
  • I learned this next nugget of knowledge from a producer and it’s honestly what keeps me going out here in LaLaLand: BE. PATIENT. Shit doesn’t happen overnight, y’all.
  • Still working on finding that work/life balance. I’ll get it right someday.
  • Never stop hustling. Ever.
    • Work as many jobs as you can. Only buy things that’ll genuinely be useful and make you happy. Write those web series. Submit yourself to auditions. Hustle.

 

On Hollywood and The Grind:

  • Leap.
    • The net may or may not catch you, but if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, LEAP. It somehow paid off well for me this time around. And the next time I take a leap, I’ll have a wider view on which to base my decision.
  • Trust sparingly.
    • Probably my biggest industry takeaway of the last year. There’s no harm in being skeptical of others, especially when you don’t know their motives.
  • Trust your instincts.
    • Unless your instincts are buttholes and lead you astray. But then again, if your instincts told you one thing and new information is making you change your mind, that’s ok, too. Don’t be mad, just change your perception and make better decisions next time.
  • Assistants are hard ass workers and being a part of that small group really taught me the most on my adventures.
    • You can tell how a person truly is by the way they treat their assistants.
  • When working as an assistant, your principal’s life becomes your life.
    • You have to make a concerted effort to pull yourself away from the inbox often or you’ll go bananas.
  • Costume, Hair, and Makeup have the most fun on a set because they’re the most fun/nicest people.
  • It’s ok to have days that’ll make you feel like running away to a remote island where you and the sheep are the only residents.
    • Breathe through those days, minute by minute, and the next day will most likely be better. Or maybe the next day will suck even more. But the day after that holds hope and hope is what you’ll live on in LA/NY.
  • You set the tone for how you want others to treat you.
    • Go in to any new relationship sending the signals for how they should behave with you and speak to you. If they’re not getting the signals, that’s not your fault. Keep sending them.
  • The industry is trying to right their wrongs with their lack of intersectionality. Trying in a very slow way, but I’ll be here when they decide to speed that shit up.

 

On Love:

  • Crickets in this department this year.
    • Refer to last year’s post if you need some wisdom on that front, because all I learned this year is that I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of being a spinster.

 

On Life: 

  • You know you have good friends when they’ll listen to you groan, complain, and outright panic over the phone and over texts and they don’t tell you to STFU.
    • I am seriously lucky in this department.
  • You very genuinely do NOT have to take other people’s shit.
    • You might feel like you absolutely need to, in order to further your goals. Chances are, though, if it involves getting beat down that much…probably not the right path for you.
  • You can always work a little bit harder, put in a little bit more effort, and reach a little further. But don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel that way everyday.
  • I NEED TO BLOG MORE.
    • I’ve gone to some absolutely astounding places over the last year and I didn’t document it as well as I should have. I need to work on that.

 

Biggest Takeaway of 2017:

I may not be living what I consider to be my BEST life, but I certainly am living an INTERESTING life and I need to remember that.

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That’s me! On a mountain top in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

 

Oh, Hey 29! Good to See Ya!

I’m breaking my long radio silence on the occasion of my 29th birthday.

The last time I found myself jotting notes on these pages, the world was crumbling after the election of–ugh, I’m not going to even go there. It’s my birthday AND HE WON’T BRING ME DOWN.

Lots has changed for me since then. Namely, I’ve relocated to another country, albeit temporarily, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in, quite possibly, my entire life. That’s not hyperbole or exaggeration. I am so sublimely happy working as a personal/writer’s assistant to a really cool actor that thinks I’m the bees knees (sucker!). The feeling is entirely mutual. It’s a literal love fest every day of this job. I’m sure it’s sickening to hear about, but just be glad you’re not witnessing it in person. You’d probably barf in three different colors.

Naturally, as a result of this euphoria, my anxiety and panic disorder has me catastrophizing anything and everything. You name it, I see the danger in it.

Eating gummy bears? I’m going to choke and die.

Boss does a really simple stunt. Boss will be injured and it’s all my fault for not swooping in and magically being the savior.

Showering? My, but these floors are slippery.

But I’m trying my best to put my irrational fears to bed and just live a little. Working on a movie set has been an education, to say the least. There are a million different acronyms, a million faces to put with a million names, and a million snacks to eat at Craft Services.

I considered writing more in depth about this life-changing experience, but going into detail may violate the well written, iron-clad Non Disclosure Agreement I’ve signed. If I do anything to fuck this job up, I WILL NEVER RECOVER.

Yep, 2017 has already been good to me, there is absolutely no denying it.

But I must say, 2016 was a roundhouse kick to the face so I am in no doubt that I deserve the positive changes that have been heaped into my lap. That may sound conceited/vain/entitled, but if you could’ve seen me last year…

HOOOO–WEE!

I was a steaming pile of Hot Mess, littered with Epic Fail, and sprinkled with Deep-seated Regrets: relationships (ugh), career prospects–both survival and aspirational–(dismal), basic hygiene (putrid).

It wasn’t looking, or smelling, at all good for Short and Feisty.

And then the actor that I’d been doing PT writing work with for over a year decided to kick things into hyperdrive, offered me a chance to come on board full-time,  and put me on a plane to London with 3 weeks’ notice.

Business Class.

Not. Playing. Around.

And now I’m sitting in my hotel room, about to wander over to set, wondering how I got so lucky. Forgetting the years and years of blood, sweat, and baby poop that got me to this point in time. Forgetting the vastly large amounts of rejection I’ve gotten as a writer and as an actor. Purposefully ignoring the miles and miles of road left to trudge before I get to where I ultimately want to be.

Because now I have that elusive mistress HOPE in my grasp and I’m not letting her go.

Here’s to 29.

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Hollywood Throws Me a Bone

In high school, I applied to a state run (I think?) residential summer language arts immersion program. I applied to study French, a language I hadn’t studied a day in my life but for which I had always harbored a secret love.

This was pre-email notifications, so when I got a letter in the mail, I can remember thinking, “This is my Harry Potter Hogwarts letter!”

I got rejected.

That’s not the worst part, though. The worst part came a week before the program was supposed to start. I got another letter in the mail. Curious, I thought, since they had rejected me. It was with great excitement that I read it and saw directions to the campus!

I called the number provided on THAT letter to ask for more information and was promptly told that I had been mailed the map by accident, that I was still rejected, and I didn’t even receive an apology.

BITCHES.

Y’all keep that little trip down memory lane in your locker because I need to divert down a more contemporary path for a moment.

In the last few months, I experienced (I can now see from the other side) what was one of the deepest depressions I’ve had the displeasure of experiencing in the last decade. I blogged about it here and here if you need to get up to speed.

Some of the things that lifted me from the muck were:

  1. Being flown out to Texas to visit my goddaughter and her parents…errr…I mean my best friend, her loving husband, and their kid,
  2. Getting accepted into the next round of the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab,
  3. Getting asked to audition for a Network’s comedy showcase.

And all of that literally happened on August 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

INSANE the way the universe works sometimes.

I had a great time with my peeps, wrote the final draft of my screenplay submission, and developed several characters to present at my audition.

At the audition, I killed it. I don’t say that lightly as I’m usually self-deprecating when it comes to original comedic material. But all of The Network people listening to my audition were laughing continuously and even stated how impressed they were at the end. Usually, if you don’t do so well, you get a kind (yet pitying) “thanks” and you leave.

This time, though, they asked if I was also a writer and mentioned they had a writing program, as well.

“Yes. Yes, I am a writer and an actor. Both. I do both,” I managed to stutter out while gathering my bag.

“Great, we’ll be in touch!”

Whoa. Never before had I ever heard an audition committee make a rock solid commitment to follow up with me.

So I settled in with fingers crossed and the expectation to NEVER HEAR FROM THEM AGAIN. In The Industry, after you audition, you ONLY hear back if you’ve made it through to the next round or booked the job. Otherwise, you can assume from the silence that you didn’t get whatever it is that you just spent a massive amount of time preparing for.

It’s sad, it’s anxiety inducing, it’s depressing.

IT’S HOLLYWOOD.

did hear back, though, and submitted the requisite sketches I needed to, along with a bio and resume, and settled in with the expectation to NEVER HEAR FROM THEM AGAIN.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Weeks went by and not a peep.

I woke up this morning sweating from my lack of AC in a Los Angeles heatwave, in pain because mother nature sent “Aunt Flow” in for a visit at 2 a.m. (I must’ve displeased her last month because she is TEARING SH*T UP), and more than vaguely imagining my life on an isolated island somewhere far away from Tinseltown. Though nothing like the last few months, I still have waves of ennui that knock me into daydreaming about deserting my astronomical career goals and going to find some poor schlub that wants to take a go at domestic bliss.

And then I got an email from The Network with instructions for writing that I didn’t understand because I’d never heard back from them about moving forward.

Do you remember the story from earlier?

DO YOU?!

Deja vu, my friends, in the worst possible way.

But I guess I’m a bit of a masochist, because I wanted that confirmation of rejection. I needed it, needed to get some closure for another failed audition and submission, like any good LA actor and writer.

I typed a short email letting them know that they had accidentally emailed me the instructions.

Within half an hour, I got a return email.

I was expecting: “Oops, sorry about that. Thanks for applying, try again next year.”

Instead, I got: “You are most certainly in. I think we accidentally left you off of the original email! Are you still interested?”

My eyes went blurry and, I swear to you, I thought I was going temporarily blind and/or having a panic attack.

Nope, just tears. Tears of unadulterated joy, relief, satisfaction, vindication, whatever positive emotion you can think of, those tears were saturated in them.

My first move was to get in the shower because sending emails to people at The Network requires me to be presentable, even though they can’t actually see me.

The next was to go get a piece of cake from The Alcove. Their cake is amazing (though, at $7 a slice, you have to really want it).

But I was so flabbergasted by this awesome turn of events that I couldn’t focus enough to find my pants! If that isn’t comedy seeping out of my veins, I don’t know what is.

4 minutes later, I located a clean pair of shorts (well, they passed the smell test) and jumped into my car.

And I got a slice of a really gorgeous Princess cake.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I also walked home with a slice of Chocolate Godiva cake:

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Because I can’t think of a better day to spend $15 on celebratory cake.

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