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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Been in LA for 4 Years and All I Got Was this Lousy T-shirt

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On July 20th, 2012, I arrived in Los Angeles to start my professional acting and writing journey. I was 24, slightly heartbroken/very single, without an acting agent, without a job, and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.

4 years later and life has proven that it can be cyclical in the shittiest possible ways.

I’m newly heartbroken/single, without an acting agent (though, I did briefly have one), and still wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into.  But I have a job so I guess I can be thankful for small mercies. And I’ve learned to avoid Adele this time around, which is hard because her latest album is perfection.

4 years seems like a lifetime ago–24 year old me had just left her collegiate bubble not long before her journey and was so optimistic about all of the golden opportunities that surely abounded in Tinseltown.

And then I got here, inhaled my first lung-full of the months of dust that had collected on the streets due to the extreme drought conditions and learned what racial type-casting parts are available to women that look like me (maid, thug’s girlfriend, slave, repeat).

It would have been easy to high tail it back to the East Coast. It would have been easy to quit pursuing this astronomical goal and resign myself to a life behind a desk or wiping baby butts that don’t belong to my progeny.

But for some reason, which is frankly beyond all sane thought and comprehension, I am still here. epdlt

 

I am still here and still as in love with lists as when I arrived back then, so I’m going to give you a bunch to sum up what I have accomplished and what I’ve learned.

Things I HAVE accomplished:

  • I’ve lived in the same apartment consistently for the longest period of time EVER. As a Navy kid and due to a turbulent teen experience, I’ve never lived in one house/apartment/dorm for longer than 4 years.
  • I’ve somehow chipped out a reputation as a highly sought after childcarer. As a nanny, I’ve reached the top of the pay bracket in the last 4 years and established myself in many celebrity and high-networth circles as the girl to hire (now, only if my acting and writing took off like that).
  • I’ve managed to support myself financially since I graduated from college 6 years ago, and paid off my student loans (which were supporting me the previous 4 years) in less than 5.
  • I have significantly reduced the amount of panic attacks I experience and that’s probably my GREATEST accomplishment.

On Work:

  • There has to be a balance with the rest of your life. You’ll go crazy/lose friends if you don’t.
  • Having lived a life constantly trying to make ends meet, it’s hard to say no to paying job opportunities, even if you’re financially in a good place. Practice saying “NO” or you won’t have time to pursue other goals.
  • Sometimes we have to do jobs we don’t actually want to do in order to fund our dreams. You are not in the position to be a freeloading millennial. You are not a trust fund kid. Suck it up. Go to your survival job.

On Hollywood and The Grind:

  • It’s all about who you know–and even sometimes making big industry connections won’t do shit unless they are ready to go to bat for you. WHICH WON’T BE OFTEN because so many people here are “risk averse” unless there is something specifically in it for their benefit.
  • Connections can be formed in the weirdest places–like when you go to help someone potty train their kid and they mention they’re an agent and would love to read your work (happening right now, in real life).
  • You have to put in the hours, the thousands of hours, to even make the tiniest bit of headway. But if you don’t, you’re not getting anywhere fast.
  • If you’re a POC, Hollywood is currently interested in “diversity”–and “diversity” includes anyone other than cis-gendered straight males. So white women and white LGBTQetc men are clumped in there with you. Don’t let this be a fad–let it be the new reality by refusing to play a stereotype or a trope (as much as possible). It is entirely possible to write POCs without being offensive, predictable, and boring.
  • Be supportive of other artists–you can’t play ALL OF THE ROLES so try to be excited when your friends/colleagues book.
  • Many people outside of Hollywood won’t know what a coup it is to even GET the audition in the first place. Celebrate every small victory.
  • Even when it feels like you’re banging your head against the wall with new headshots, new (expensive classes), and invested money leaking out of your ears, just keep going. Half the battle is sticking around and outlasting the competition.
  • And the best advice I’ve received (this tidbit of wisdom coming from a successful comedy producer): BE PATIENT.

On Love and Relationships**:

  • Dating is hard. Dating sucks. It’s a necessary evil unless you live in a culture with arranged marriages (and by all accounts, those aren’t fun).
  • Getting hurt is the worst. But if you don’t open yourself up, if you refuse to be cautiously vulnerable, you run the risk of never making that meaningful connection again and pushing away something that could have been great.
  • Don’t settle–you will find someone that loves you just as much, wants to be with you just as much, and isn’t afraid to both show and tell you often.
  • If you’re with someone that is changing how you perceive your value or self-worth in a negative way, END IT. RIGHT NOW. GO. DO IT.
  • Don’t stay with someone because you’re afraid of being alone. Worse than that, don’t stay with someone because you’re afraid of being “the bad guy” by initiating the breakup. Inaction in stringing someone along is more hurtful than taking action.
  • And if it doesn’t ever work out that you meet “the one“, Jane Austen was a spinster and a #BadBitch so you’ll be just fine.

**Full Disclosure–Newly heartbroken/single me thinks the above advice is complete horse shit. But some day (hopefully soon), I’ll let it sink in again.

On Life:

  • Hiring a housekeeper to come once a month is WORTH IT–especially if you’re horrible at cleaning. Paying the money for this luxury will truly raise your spirits beyond measure.
  • Getting married, having babies, owning a house, the “normal life milestones”, etc. may come at a slower pace than your friends back home. But you’ve got a goal, here, and dwelling on what you “don’t have” won’t get you any further to it. Those things aren’t out of reach for you, so be happy for those who are taking the fast track to them.
  • Keeping in touch with non-LA friends and family is key to longevity out here. Having your own cheering section to comfort you, even if over the phone or internet, is sometimes more meaningful than in-person relationships.
  • Your metabolism will slow down. Exercise isn’t an option–it’s a necessity to keep you from turning into a blob.
  • Wash everything in cold water with cold water detergent. And bras last longer if you air dry them.
  • You may miss the simplicity of the life you left behind–but that life wasn’t meant for you, so think about it in the past as a learning experience and not something you abandoned.

And finally, “nothing worth having comes easy”. Life is hard,  but wanting something bigger and better for yourself–wanting your dreams to actually become your reality–takes an incredible amount of moxie–remind yourself that you’ve got it.

“There’s been trials and tribulations
You know I’ve had my share
But I’ve climbed the mountain, I’ve crossed the river
And I’m almost there, I’m almost there
I’m almost there!”
–Princess Tiana, The Princess and The Frog

Up in the Gym Just Workin’ on My Fi– Trying not to Die

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Coming out of my writing hiatus to tell you about that time that I almost died.

Well, I honestly felt like I was dying.

Being an actor, especially in Los Angeles, it’s important that you ensure that a majority of your body parts refrain from jiggling in the presence of a strong wind.

That’s for both boys AND girls. I have it on good, first-hand authority that almost all of the most popular actors/actresses out there get told to keep things tight on a regular basis. Either that, or they want you to go the polar opposite direction so they can cast you as the obese comic relief.

It ain’t fair, but it is what it is…for now.

Gyms around LA range from dirt cheap (Planet Fitness) to more than a low-end car payment (Equinox). The former comes with long wait times for the machines and a packed house all day long, the latter comes with Eucalyptus scented towels, high tech equipment, and frequent celebrity sightings.

Guess which one I wanted to join!

I resisted the urge to blow a large portion of my paycheck on fitness and opted to join the YMCA, a step up from the bottom of the barrel. I have some unhappy childhood memories going to Y summer camp every year (that’s for another day), but the benefit of going Y at this time in life (besides the financial aspect) is that there are 24 YMCAs in LA county that I can go to–24! I’ve already figured out that some are in better neighborhoods than others (I’m not trying to get held up in the parking lot!), so it’s nice to know I can bounce around at will without an extra charge.

I am no stranger to fitness but I will admit that I’ve been estranged from it for more time than I think is actually healthy. I’ve run 3 half-marathons in the last 4 years and I was always an athlete growing up.

Recently, a combination of physical stagnation (enabled by Netflix) and a metabolism that’s thrown in the towel motivated me to get up and get moving. Love handles are cute, in theory, but they’re no fun when trying to keep them from peeking out of the bottom of your shirts. I’m too poor to buy a new wardrobe, so to the sweat store we go.

If I had to give you a little preview of the experience to follow, I would sum it up in one word:

OUCH.

The first day, I did the treadmill and the elliptical at an admittedly glacial pace, not wanting to pull any muscles or injure myself. Slow and steady.

When I woke up the next day without any aches or soreness, I knew I needed to step it up. Another awesome part of a Y membership is that you have a ton of group fitness classes included. I looked on the calendar and saw a “Core & Abs” class later that afternoon–it was only 25 minutes, no big deal, that would fly by.

NAIVE. NAIVE LITTLE SOUL.

I get into the class, follow everyone else’s lead and get a ball and a mat. The instructor tells us to lay down and I silently rejoice that I can get a workout on while laying in a horizontal pose. Would this be the class that my lazy heart would covet?

After the 2nd exercise, my stomach felt like it was punching me from the inside and I could literally feel the bile rise up my throat, threatening to end my workout and that of the man positioned next to me.

I had to throw my legs down, lay flat on my back, and breathe through my nose until the urge to purge passed. WOW, I had really gotten out of shape. I would’ve laughed if I hadn’t thought the gyration to my stomach wouldn’t make me nauseous again.

I started to get back on track with the rest of the group, kept dinner from the previous night down, and finished the workout.

25 minutes ended up feeling like 34 years and when I finally peeled my sweat drenched, sore, and more than slightly smelly body off the mat, those crazy ass endorphins kicked in and and I thought, “HELL YES, let’s go do some cardio!”

Here is where I pause to ensure you that endorphins are just like any other addictive stimulant and they should be illegal and extracted from our bodies as soon as possible.

I got on the treadmill and selected a workout that took me running through a New Zealand National Park. It’s hard to describe but: someone took a camera and ran around scenic sites all over the world. They measured elevation at each point and recorded it. So then they load all of these routes onto the treadmill, and the elevation on the treadmill mirrors the elevation changes you’re seeing on the screen as you run through the gorgeous flora and fauna. You wouldn’t think it would make a difference, but it is so much more interesting running through a “town” than just staring at the mirrors or windows in front of you. My biggest pet peeve with treadmills is the boredom I feel while running without a destination, and this little bit of technology really helps.

I did that for an hour (what–what–WHAT was I thinking??), climbed down from that magic carpet to nowhere, and found my way back to my car. In the shower at home, I marveled in my accomplishment and felt a little less lazy, a little less sluggish, and a lot more self-confident. I went to bed motivated to spring awake the next morning and conquer another group fitness class.

As I peeled my eyes open the following day, I couldn’t move.

Literally. My brain was sending the signal to my legs that they needed to get up so we could pee and my legs said “NO THANK YOU, HONEY, I’M FINE RIGHT HERE”.

My brain insisted, warned them that we were on the brink of reliving our pre-k days of a wet bed, and my arms were entreated to use some leverage to get us moving.

Their response: WE ARE MADE OF LEAD. LEAVE US ALONE.

I rolled my torso to the side, despite the facts that my abs were filing abuse charges against me for the heinous crime I had committed the day before, and I almost landed face first on the dark-stain hardwood. My legs finally decided to cooperate, we made it to the bathroom without any accidents, and then, without my express permission, they carried me back to bed and deposited me onto the mattress.

That blessed, blessed mattress.

Nothing like a near-death experience to make you appreciate your thread count.

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Photo Cred | memesvault.com

Here.

4 months!?

Has it really been 4 months since I sat down to type something on this thing?

I guess it has–and it’s no coincidence that that long drought of words coincided with my bout of full-time unemployment.

One would THINK that with all of the time afforded by not having steady work, one would be able to crank out some impressive prose.

Alas, I have found that when one is stressed about such trivialities as rent money and scraping enough together to resist the ever present threat of car repossession, one’s brain isn’t quite ready to dive into writing the Next Great American Novel/Screenplay.

So what’s happened during what I am now dubbing “The Great Silent Period”? Here are some bullet points I’ll hopefully get to over the next few weeks.

  • I found a nanny job–my “unicorn nanny job”, in fact. I won’t be going into detail about the kids or family, but it’s a nanny job with a 48 hour shift starting at 9am on Saturday and ending at 9am on Monday. This schedule is AMAZING for writing and auditioning and I’m already setting myself up to take full advantage of it.
  • I got my first root canal. It was as horrific as you would expect it to be, can’t wait to share the details with you.
  • I took some beginner magic lessons at The Magic Castle and it was awesome.
  • I went to SUNDANCE 2016! It was all sorts of amazing and awesome and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you here.
  • I survived the last few months panic attack free, which is probably the most significant feat of all. I had plenty of opportunity to completely lose my marbles, but I held it together through the grace of mid-day napping and Netflix.
  • I witnessed my first drug deal while apartment hunting.
  • I went in for a nanny interview with a celeb and came out with a PT writer’s assistant position. There won’t be a ton of detail on this one, either, but I will regale you with the tale of our serendipitous meeting because it’s honestly something out of a movie.
  • I finally got the wherewithal to sit my butt down and update this blog. So get ready for some wild stories.

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