“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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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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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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Conversations with My Future-Self

Things have been really up in the air lately, you guys. And by that I mean, no they’re not actually up in the air at all.

But my perception is that everything is an absolute shambles and the world is ending today. Right now. Start Prayin’.

This morning, I started writing this list looking for “Pros” but ended up landing on mostly “Cons”:

  • I switched to a Sat-Mon 30 hr/wk nanny job that pays only a tiny bit less than my last 5 day/50 hr job:
    • Faced with the 20 hours of “extra time”, I’m lacking motivation to do anything with it. Writing is harder now that the added pressure of “producing all the time” is now placed on my shoulders (placed by me and only me, mind you). YOU HAVE EXTRA TIME WHY ARE YOU WASTING IT WITH SPENDING HOURS LAMENTING THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE SO MUCH TIME BUT YOU’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING OF WORTH BECAUSE YOU’RE BUSY WORRYING ABOUT PUTTING OUT QUALITY WORK BECAUSE YOU HAVE SO MUCH TIME NOW–ad finitum,
    • Now all of my friends seem to want to get together on the weekends when before I felt like I was at home twiddling my thumbs and I miss them,
    • I’m open to audition on weekdays, but without an agent, landing legit auditions is pretty hard. Most of the accessible breakdowns are for “sex kittens”, “VERY attractive women” (emphasis always placed on the “very”), “women ok with partial nudity” (hah!), or…you know… “sexy, tall women in general”,
  • So much is riding on–

“Wait,” I gently commanded myself.

“Go back into the annals of this blog and find this post where things WERE actually a shamble-y mess.

So I did just that.

And holy crap.

Last November, I was not in a good place in any way, shape, or form. My life was consumed by a job that I wasn’t enjoying and was taking up too much of my time. I was, admittedly, in the throes of a fairly relentless bout of depression. I was trying so hard to pursue writing and acting but was coming up short because of my exhaustion and time constraints.

The end of that post challenged me to try looking at my situation another way:

“You’re going to go home, blog, eat some tortilla chips, sleep, and pray that there is a light at the end of the tunnel that makes all of the bullshit worth it. Because you don’t hate the city, you hate your circumstances and it’s up to you to change them.”

At the moment of writing that post, I realized that I was in control (at least a little bit). I could figure out a way to transition to a day job that allowed more freedom to pursue my creative career. It was as if my “Future-Self” had popped in through my writing to let me know that, as much as I felt I was dealt a crappy hand, I still had cards to work with.

Flash forward to this week and a conversation with my friend, Marina. “Remember back when you thought finding and securing weekend work was absolutely impossible? And now you’ve done it! That’s huge.”

I have done it and honestly, that is huge. I set a goal. The stars were aligned and a job just so happened to pop up.

This is all to say that I need to constantly keep in mind that this isn’t going to happen overnight. That slow and steady wins the race. That Rome wasn’t built in a day. That the ball is in my court.  That idioms are God’s Love Language to us. Wait…what?

And even though I don’t this I’m currently using my allotted time to its fullest potential, I recently took that leap of faith and it certainly paid off. I need to do less griping and more leaping.

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