5 Years Here and I’m Feeling…OLD.

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I’m coming at you a month late with this one, but I have been in LA 5 years.

FIVE YEARS, PEOPLE.

And now when I tell new people I meet that I’ve been here for FIVE YEARS, the first comment is always “WOW, that’s such a long time,” and then I fall to the ground and curl up in the fetal position.

Because no starving artist miles away from their intended destination likes to be reminded of JUST how much time they’ve been at it.

I’m still working on embracing the “big 5” and I think writing out this blog and seeing my progress will help…right? RIGHT?!

Let me take a little second to drop the link to the summary of YEAR 4 for a little comparison. See where the Short and Feisty one was a year ago before sinking your teeth into this one.

Without anymore preamble, let’s jump right in to this year, shall we?

Things I HAVE accomplished:

  • Worked my first personal assistant job on a big budget studio feature.
    • Survived said job with very little (physical) scarring–I came home in one piece, and I’m counting that.
    • Made a ton of new friends with the other assistants/crew members on the project.
  • I PAID OFF MY CAR LOAN.
    • I am officially debt free and it feels MAGNIFICENT.
  • I’m still in the same apartment, though I didn’t live in it for 6 months of this year. I’m beating my previous record, anyway!
  • I only had one truly severe panic attack within this past year–
    • It happened on a plane, in the lavatory of all places, and I thought I was going to die, but PROGRESS.
  • I wrote the first three episodes of a web series, made a pitch video, and it’s currently being considered for a competition. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
  • I’ve started the perilous task of getting rid of half of my belongings by the end of the year. I’ve collected so much stuff over the last 5 years and I’m sure I don’t use at least half of it, so it gotsta go.
  • I visited: England, Scotland, Greece, and New Zealand this year. I also spent time in Hawaii, almost all of those destinations through work.
  • I SIGNED WITH A TALENT AGENT.
    • This is BY FAR the best news of the entire year because it is the BIGGEST THING that makes me feel like I’ve actively made progress in my acting career. I’ve convinced someone that I have what it takes, now I just need to get out on some auditions to prove them right.

Things I’ve learned:

On Work:

  • Gain as much experience as you can in whatever industry your interested in, but never forget what your ultimate goal is.
    • Make decisions that best serve that goal. You may be tempted to veer off into another path for a number of reasons (usually more money for survival) but don’t do it. Eyes on the prize.
  • Never depend on others to get you where you need to be. Honestly, the only person you can count on is YOURSELF. That probably sounds more harsh than I mean it to, but it’ll keep you from being disappointed when others don’t pull for you.
  • I learned this next nugget of knowledge from a producer and it’s honestly what keeps me going out here in LaLaLand: BE. PATIENT. Shit doesn’t happen overnight, y’all.
  • Still working on finding that work/life balance. I’ll get it right someday.
  • Never stop hustling. Ever.
    • Work as many jobs as you can. Only buy things that’ll genuinely be useful and make you happy. Write those web series. Submit yourself to auditions. Hustle.

 

On Hollywood and The Grind:

  • Leap.
    • The net may or may not catch you, but if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, LEAP. It somehow paid off well for me this time around. And the next time I take a leap, I’ll have a wider view on which to base my decision.
  • Trust sparingly.
    • Probably my biggest industry takeaway of the last year. There’s no harm in being skeptical of others, especially when you don’t know their motives.
  • Trust your instincts.
    • Unless your instincts are buttholes and lead you astray. But then again, if your instincts told you one thing and new information is making you change your mind, that’s ok, too. Don’t be mad, just change your perception and make better decisions next time.
  • Assistants are hard ass workers and being a part of that small group really taught me the most on my adventures.
    • You can tell how a person truly is by the way they treat their assistants.
  • When working as an assistant, your principal’s life becomes your life.
    • You have to make a concerted effort to pull yourself away from the inbox often or you’ll go bananas.
  • Costume, Hair, and Makeup have the most fun on a set because they’re the most fun/nicest people.
  • It’s ok to have days that’ll make you feel like running away to a remote island where you and the sheep are the only residents.
    • Breathe through those days, minute by minute, and the next day will most likely be better. Or maybe the next day will suck even more. But the day after that holds hope and hope is what you’ll live on in LA/NY.
  • You set the tone for how you want others to treat you.
    • Go in to any new relationship sending the signals for how they should behave with you and speak to you. If they’re not getting the signals, that’s not your fault. Keep sending them.
  • The industry is trying to right their wrongs with their lack of intersectionality. Trying in a very slow way, but I’ll be here when they decide to speed that shit up.

 

On Love:

  • Crickets in this department this year.
    • Refer to last year’s post if you need some wisdom on that front, because all I learned this year is that I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of being a spinster.

 

On Life: 

  • You know you have good friends when they’ll listen to you groan, complain, and outright panic over the phone and over texts and they don’t tell you to STFU.
    • I am seriously lucky in this department.
  • You very genuinely do NOT have to take other people’s shit.
    • You might feel like you absolutely need to, in order to further your goals. Chances are, though, if it involves getting beat down that much…probably not the right path for you.
  • You can always work a little bit harder, put in a little bit more effort, and reach a little further. But don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel that way everyday.
  • I NEED TO BLOG MORE.
    • I’ve gone to some absolutely astounding places over the last year and I didn’t document it as well as I should have. I need to work on that.

 

Biggest Takeaway of 2017:

I may not be living what I consider to be my BEST life, but I certainly am living an INTERESTING life and I need to remember that.

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That’s me! On a mountain top in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

 

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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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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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