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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A Conversation in the Key of #Depression

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Get up.”

“No.”

“You’re being depressing.”

“Probably because I’m depressed.”

(Beat)

“Do you plan on leaving your bed today?”

“No. No plans. Except when the exterminator gets here. Because he’s apparently forcing me to leave on account of spraying toxic chemicals.”

“Freaking tiny, endlessly annoying, quickly multiplying, nameless beetles.”

(Beat)

“How about a shower?”

“No.”

“You’re kinda smelly.”

“So?”

::huffs in exasperation::

“You know, you won’t get anywhere career-wise if you’re set on remaining facedown in your pillow.”

“I’m not getting anywhere career-wise when I put in the effort, anyway, and this position is much more comfortable.”

(Beat)

“Aren’t you hungry?”

“No.”

“You haven’t eaten all day.”

“Probably because I’ve expended no energy lying here; therefor, I have no appetite.”

“Sound reasoning, albeit flawed logic.”

(Beat)

“Don’t you think it’s been enough time? It’s been months…”

“It still hurts.”

“What hurts?”

“Everything. Everything hurts. My whole life hurts.”

(Beat)

“Still holding back those tears?”

“Yup. Too proud to let them go.”

“Patricia told you that you’d feel better if you just had a good cry.”

“Can’t. I’ve made it this far. I’m already committed to being obstinate. Plus, you’ll probably beat me up about it if I do.”

“No, I won’t. I promise.”

“Right.”

(Beat)

“Hows about some Netflix?”

Good idea, but that isn’t going to get me out of bed, I’ll just watch it on my phone.”

“I know.”

“You know?”

“I know.”

(Beat)

“This is an unforeseen turn of events…are you going to stop pestering me about getting up?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah?”

“DID I STUTTER?!”

(Beat)

“Why are you relenting now?”

“Because…”

“Yeeeessss?”

“Because I’m very understanding, and gentle, and kind to other people experiencing depression. Why wouldn’t I be just as understanding, gentle, and kind to myself?”

(Beat)

“Maybe we’ll get up tomorrow.”

“Maybe.”

“Let’s think about ordering pizza.”

“Good idea…I love you, you know…even when you annoy me–errr…us.”

“I know…let’s get some Murder, She Wrote up in this piece.”

 

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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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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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Lessons from the Land of La La

I’ve been in LA for three years now and I’ve learned a lot about myself.

The first is that I’m fairly awful about keeping up with serialized blog posts. I promise to get back on the Short and Feisty Finances train and I’ll have to finish up about my trip to Sequoia National Park.

But before I do, here are a few more things I’ve learned about myself:

  • I will no longer stay in a job that makes me miserable. I won’t be sacrificing my overall happiness to “make it to a year for my resume” ever again. If I’ve attempted to make some changes, kept communication open and honest with my employers, and things aren’t changing–PEACE OUT, CUB SCOUT.
  • Working a weird schedule isn’t ideal for a social life, but it is ideal to the overall pursuit of my acting/writing goals, which means I’m sticking with the weird work schedule. I make NO apologies for prioritizing this way. Because that coffee date doesn’t pay the rent, son!
  • It’s hard for me to become motivated to shower, but once I get in, it’s hard for me to get out.
  • I miss my family and friends back home, terribly! But I also don’t enjoy transcontinental flights. So skype, phone calls, and letter writing it is!
  • Staying motivated on a daily basis to create is difficult when one would think it would be second nature.
  • I am a freaking BALLER STATUS nanny. It took me a while to figure this out, for some reason, but I received several job offers whilst not even on the job market (and ended up taking one). Before this realization, I was really good at second guessing my methods and choices. NO MORE!  IF ONLY nannying was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! Sadly, it’s not, so that feels like a waste.
  • I miss the rain. UGH, I hate admitting that because it rained so much on the East Coast that it was easy to take it for granted. But it rained pretty hard yesterday and all the cars are shiny and glowing today (including mine, free car wash!) and I do miss it.
  • Still not a fan of spicy food–my tongue and digestive system corroborate this finding.
  • I am totally getting in to the spirit of DIY. I taught myself to knit proficiently, sew, etc. I kind of love making things with my hands and then showing it off to the world.
  • I’m impatiently waiting for my life to begin–not realizing that it’s started already.