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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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

The Cure for an Actor Depressed

It’s inevitable.

Living in Hollywood and NYC and chasing the dream of being a paid actor has it’s ups and downs. And I’m talking “mountains and valleys” high-lows. Or, mountains and the Mariana Trench that goes 6+ miles below sea level.

It’s even harder when you’re surrounded by the successes of friends in your immediate acquaintance. You’re happy for them but you’re left wondering where YOU went wrong, or how you could have hustled harder. This feeling of acting inadequacy can shove you down so hard that you end up lying prostrate on the couch, elbows deep in a pint of peanut butter swirl ice cream (hey, at least it’s a delicious depression!).

The short term answer to helping get yourself out of the Doldroms is to distract yourself, but do so productively.

So here’s a step by step guide to get you back on those actor toes (completing this list should take 2 weeks or less):

  1. Put. Down. The. Ice. Cream.
  2. Finish that movie you’re watching and then watch one more. After that last film, it’s time to get moving.
  3. Shower. You probably haven’t done that for a while and today is most certainly a “Must Shower Day”.
  4. Brainstorm ideas for a short film. I’m talking super short. Three to five minutes tops. Keep it simple: Simple dialogue. Simple scene locations. No car chases, no explosions. The less characters/extras/props, the easier it will be to shoot!
  5. Look at your resume and update that baby. Are your headshots up to snuff or do you need to make an appointment for new ones?
  6. Write the short and make sure you’re the principle character. You’re doing this for your own benefit as well as experience.
  7. Google competitions to which you can submit the short. Make sure the deadlines haven’t passed and that the criteria for the competition is met through your short.
  8. Work your connections–talk to people about finding an editor/director of photography/sound tech/scorer/etc that are interested in working on a project you’re doing. Bonus points if they’ll do it gratis or for a “friend of a friend discount”. Does someone have a camera you can borrow (if you don’t already have one)? Maybe sound equipment? A house you can shoot in?
  9. Cast the short. Use LA Casting or Breakdown Express to hire other actors if you have decided against casting your friends (more on the pros vs. cons of that in another post).
  10. Once your cast and crew are set, pick a date in the very near future to shoot. Get the call sheet out to everyone and get your equipment locked down.
  11. Shoot it.

Now you’re in post-production. HOORAY! The timing for the next few steps depend on how fast you can get that puppy scored, the entry dates to the competitions, when your editor can take on your project (if you’re not editing), etc. But at least you’ve made something that showcases your writing/acting talents! Exposure is key. My personal downfall is staying on top of post production–I can get things “in the can” but revisiting them to finish is something I desperately need to work on. Having something to improve always keeps me from resting on my laurels!

How do you get yourself out of the doldroms? What projects help you to stay motivated?

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