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

An Open Letter to My Los Angeles Apartment Building

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Dear Apartment Building–

It’s been three years since I first arrived in LA and you were there to greet me when I hopped off of the I-10 (we both know it’s called a “highway” but if you call it anything other than a “freeway” these Californians will verbally punch you in the face).

3 years in one building is the longest I’ve lived in one place for probably my entire life. We moved around quite a bit when I was a kid, due to one circumstance or another. From my birth in Spain, to Puerto Rico, to DC and then 5+ moves to different apartments and houses in the Old Dominion, I can’t think of a single place that holds the title for longest stint over you.

I had a different dorm building every year in college, lived in DC for 1.5 years, back in my hometown for 6 months, and then it was off to La La Land.

For the first time, I’ve got an emotional connection to the place I’m living and it’s both infuriating and comforting.

You see, you’re rent is way too high for my delicate sensibilities.

Yet, according to real estate websites and the general chitter-chatter of the people of this city, you’re rent is actually incredibly cheap.

Since I moved in in July 2012, the rent estimate has spiked over $1,355. That’s $451 a year. A YEAR.

And the crazy thing is that the building company is actually getting people willing to pay the new insanely high price without batting an eyelash.

Add that to the fact that you have rent control and that’s two huge pros to negate almost all of your cons because my rent will never skyrocket at an uncontrollable speed.

Based solely on those numbers, I will completely ignore the fact:

–that I don’t have a dishwasher, garbage disposal, AC, or in-unit laundering machines,

–that you’re plumbing is constantly malfunctioning due, in large part, to the fact that you’re nearing 100 years old,

–that I don’t have a parking space which sends me into spirals of anxious terror when I’m walking home alone at night (even with mace and a taser). Yes, the neighborhood is statistically safe, but YOU NEVER KNOW. Thankfully, I’ve got a very tolerant significant other that will walk me home over the phone and will quickly alert the police should I drop the line for some reason.

There are tenants in this building that have lived here for almost 20 years, so I’m not the only one that thinks that there must be something about you that just won’t let us quit you.

Maybe it’s because what you do have is an immense amount of character. Your architecture is beautiful and the interior of my apartment is kinda pretty.  I don’t feel like I’m living in a quickly manufactured box like most of the new apartments being thrown up all over this city. You don’t have pests or rodents to make me gag a little when I see them scurry across the floors of other places. In every other season, besides the end of summer, your temperature is not only bearable, but pleasant.

Most importantly for me, you have the ability to make me freak out a little less about the future because I know I have you to count on (as long as I’m making money, that is).

You, so far, have been the one unfailing constant in my life as an Angeleno.

So I’m going to crank up my fan, remember that I can’t shower between 10am and 4pm today because the water to the building will be shut off for maintenance, and refuse to shed tears while writing my rent check (again). Because you’re worth every penny.


Short and Feisty

This can be said about most of LA, too.

This can be said about most of LA, too.