Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sometimes You Should Just Get Rid of Things

Published 3/5/2015

Dear Readers, I have a serious problem. I’m really, really frugal and I need to cut it out! Frugality in a normal, non-obsessive person is good, but my version of frugality includes eating wilted lettuce and keeping clothes way, waaayyyy too long. I cannot throw things away! The guilt. The incredible guilt! There are starving children in Cambodia and there’s always the chance that I might wear that tattered whatever one more time.

Yesterday during time that I should have been using to write, I decided to continue my quest to revive a discontinued bra at Victoria’s Secret. I decided that I would write them a letter with photo evidence to show them how sincere I was in my resolve. What began in my mind as a charming tale of customer loyalty led me to a pressing question. Why the hell do I still have this barebones bra?! I really think there’s a deeper issue here. This isn’t the first item of clothing I’ve kept longer than I should have, and I highly doubt that it will be the last. Please don’t judge me too much. My damning letter follows. Incidentally, I did get a response from Vickie’s but it did not contain any promises to bring back this forgotten style. Sadness. #VerySexyVPushUPForever 

Dear Victoria’s Secret,

I really do love you dearly. I have been a loyal shopper for years and I even went as far as to work at the flagship store in Columbus for a brief time before moving to LA. While employed at VS I bought a Very Sexy V Push Up bra and I loved it! I still love it, but unfortunately, it was 2010 when I purchased it. I paid attention while working at VS and I KNOW I should replace my bras every six to twelve months, but I CANNOT bring myself to part with this perfect brassier. I’ve gotten other bras and as a matter of fact, I never purchase undergarments anywhere else, but as you can see from the pictures I’ve attached, I really need to let this one go. But alas, I cannot!

Please, please, PLEASE consider re-releasing the Very Sexy V Push Up. Please! I refuse to believe that I’m the only person who’s requested this. I know there are similar styles but I need this one!!!!! I have hand-washed and dried flat but the mesh is looking sad. It’s questionable as to whether it actually still supports me or is purely symbolic at this point. I implore you to make this bra again, even if you market it under a different name, or at least tell me that somewhere there is a warehouse or outlet store with a couple of 34As or 32Bs waiting for a good home. I will gladly give them that home! 

(What mine looks like after five years)

And if you do decide to sell it again I will literally buy at least 12, so there’s that. Seriously please, look at the sad pictures I’ve attached. Please don’t let me go on like this! The Incredible comes close to the V Push Up in comfort, but it is NOT the V Push Up. Tell me there’s hope. I need to retire my five-year-old bra with dignity, but I can’t let it go until I know I can replace it. I really need you guys to start making that bra again. Okay, that’s all.


Ummm, whoever wrote this letter has problems! I need to get it together. #GetANewBraDummy

Monday, January 19, 2015

Once More, with Feeling…

Published 1/19/2015

I’ve been a tad preoccupied lately because in addition to work and various side projects, I’ve been in the midst of rehearsals for my first LA play. I’ve made a few attempts to venture into the world of live theatre before, but this time I managed to snag a small part in a rave version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m not delusional enough to believe that I can actually make it as a stage actor; I need all the smoke and mirrors and editing that comes with performing on camera. The Bard is my jam however and Midsummer is pretty much my favorite thing in the world. Aside from Shakespeare’s other work, the only other play I’d be down for is Patrick Marber’s Closer.

Our run hasn’t started yet, but it’s already helped me grow as an actor in a multitude of ways. At the risk of sounding like a drama geek, opening up the text, and doing it with other artists who care about the work is a game changer. Like, there is subtext in Shakespeare for days. DAYS! I’ve also begrudgingly admitted to myself that it’s actually a good thing that I didn’t get the part that I wanted when I auditioned. The actress who was best for the role got it, for the good of the production. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to come to that conclusion, but only by being realistic about my strengths and weaknesses as a performer can I increase my versatility and range. Sigh.

My theatrical debut also happens to coincide with what I’ve unofficially labeled as “The year of feelings.” Habitual readers of my blog and people who know me are aware of my hatred for abbreviations and unnecessary urban colloquialisms, but for the purpose of discussion I must use one today. “In my feelings” ostensibly means that one is overcome with emotion and too rattled by internal trauma to function. This phrase has been in constant use in recent months and drives me absolutely mad because you can’t be in your effiing feelings! Feelings are not a place with a zip code or longitudinal coordinates! However, if one could in fact be in one’s feelings, I must admit that is a place to which I rarely traverse.  I really, really do not like to express my emotions. I’ve made a career of remaining as aloof and enigmatic as possible. I’ve never bought into the notion of crying to get my way or whining or pouting to manipulate people simply because I’m a girl and I can. I instead have gone the route of remaining tight-lipped and keeping everything to myself the majority of the time. I’ve never cried at a movie, I don’t cry when people die or get married. I’ve never been fond of telling anyone including my family members that I love or miss them. I always feel myself instinctively pulling away when people I actually like want to spend more time with me. I jokingly say that I have a problem with intimacy, but seriously, I have a heart of stone. I’ve also gotten very good at compartmentalizing due to various life events, which really doesn’t help matters.

I realized several years ago however that my refusal to emote and be vulnerable in my real life has had a crippling effect on my chosen profession. How can I be an actor who refuses to be emotional? How do I use emotional memory if I try to squelch everything I feel for fear of being a typical girl? How do I even fake a feeling that I won’t allow myself to have for fear of looking weak? I’ve been fighting this knowledge for years, but I decided that in 2015 I would venture into “my feelings” come what may, even if it results in mascara-stained cheeks and laughing at inappropriate times. This year, I’m allowing myself to act out. Part of the reason I censor myself internally so much is because emotions are messy and time consuming. I like order and control and efficiency and I am loathe to become another 20something actress who dramatizes every situation no matter how big or small or insignificant.

Over the course of Midsummer rehearsals I’ve already witnessed impassioned protests about why lines should not be performed a certain way and flat-out refusals about entrances and character motivation because it “didn’t feel right.” Acting on feelings is not something I’m good at or comfortable with, but one can’t act without feelings, so I suppose I had better start getting uncomfortable.

The reason that Midsummer and Closer resonate with me is because sadly, I identify with Helena and Alice far too much. When I still believed in love, I had a penchant for being attracted to people who didn’t reciprocate, or at least not as much as I would have liked them to. The first time I saw Closer and heard Alice say “I amuse you but I bore you,” I felt a pang in my chest because there was a time when that was my dating life in a nutshell. That is to say, I felt the pang and then shoved it away. But no more of that.

I’m going to stop biting my tongue, allow myself to be egged on, and stop sending passive aggressive texts to people. I’m going to be “aggressive aggressive.” Before this resolution, I wouldn’t let things like my possibly gay pseudo-ex contacting me after four years, friends who don’t make half as much effort as I do to keep in touch or not getting important callbacks bother me. Well now I'm allowing myself to be bothered. I’m going to wallow if I feel like it and conversely, I suppose I will allow myself to be giddy if the occasion calls for it. I am going to shed tears without thinking less of myself for doing so. Hopefully this will result in me becoming a more sensitive, dialed in, nuanced actor, and not just a weepy mess who uses nonsense phrases that can only be found in Urban Dictionary.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Public Service Announcement

Published 11/15/2014

I really don’t mean to sound like an angry black woman but… I feel like that’s an appropriate way to preface this because I’m often greeted with a very similar “Not to be racist…” or, “I’m not trying to offend you…,” before friends and acquaintances proceed to utter some of the most ignorant, egregious and racist statements I’ve ever heard.  I grew up in the suburbs and therefore have been accused by many of my own race of being uppity and “bougie” and the like, but that is another matter entirely. The point is that as I am well versed in the nuances of those with paler hues, and I can usually ascertain when I’m in the presence of actual, deep-seated racism or innocuous, if  ill advised jokes. I have learned over the years how and when to address both. 

When dealing with people I encounter every day I sometimes err on the side of laughing at things that I don’t actually think are funny rather than admonishing them for their insensitivity because 1)being an expository token is exhausting and 2) having one educated,  accomplished, well-spoken black friend is not going to change the mind of a person who has a fixed and media-reinforced opinion about an entire group of people, even if I happen to be a member of said group. Trust me, I know this from years of experience.  If I had a dollar for every time I’d been pegged as an anomaly because I don’t do a plethora of things that “most” black people do, I could literally buy a small country. Literally. I find that statement particularly ludicrous because the people who say these things don’t know most black people, and usually they don’t know any who aren’t me. Rappers and people you see on the news or follow on Instagram don’t count. They really don’t guys. If I said to my white friends that they aren’t like most white people because they aren’t serial killers, child molesters, douchebags, convicted insider traders, addicted to bath salts, meth, prescription drugs, or married to their cousins, I suspect that they may find that a tad bit offensive, but I digress.

Those of you who know me, or even if you just read my blog, know that I really don’t enjoy dwelling on racial issues, much like I can’t bring myself to watch movies about urban youth achieving their way out of the hood because I think both are limiting and unproductive. I want to just live my life without making a huge issue about my color, which for me means ballet and sushi and corny crafts and hiking and yoga, and reading the thesaurus for fun to bolster my extensive vocabulary, but I can’t do that without being accused of “acting white.”

This little diatribe is not unwarranted. My week was bookended by two questions which I honestly don’t even understand why they were uttered in this day and age, because the internet exists and common sense is free. I spent Monday explaining to someone that yes, blackface is offensive and not humorous. Because there is still some doubt about that apparently. Sigh. On Friday I had to explain science when I was asked if black people can blush. Well, yeah- since I am a person and blood can rush to the blood vessels in my cheeks the same way it does in any other person, the answer is yes. I’m going to suggest that people a) pay attention in history class, and b) use Google, before asking their black friend and de facto resident expert on all peculiarities of the negro these asinine questions. I suggest this because contrary to popular belief, we go to college and have degrees and think fully formulated thoughts, and like people of all colors who do these things, we think less of you when we are greeted with stupidity.

These two incidents may not have riled me quite so much if it hadn’t come a month after I had to explain to a coworker why it is unacceptable to use the n-word in a group text that includes your black co-worker and two of your superiors. These are certainly not the first incidents like these that I’ve encountered and they are definitely not even the worse. However, when people glibly say things about living in a post-racial America, or that African Americans need to “get over” slavery (which no one would dare say to any Jewish person), I can’t help but to be a little peeved.

I love all of my friends, regardless of their backgrounds, but I have my limits. I hate to bring things like this up though, because saying anything in my defense automatically paints me as angry, and loud and typical, so I am forced into silence, lest I unintentionally reinforce pervasive and maligning stereotypes. I’m sorry, but I’m tired of white people getting offended when they are called out on their racism and forced to deconstruct it when confronted with its ridiculousness.

I ask you, are they also offended when I am the only customer followed around stores? Are they offended when white casting directors tell me that I’m not “black enough” because I don’t have dreads or bullet wound scars or a really big ass? Are they offended when someone walks into Starbucks in Burbank and yells at the top of their lungs that they can’t find a seat “because of all the ugly n*****s in here?”  That actually happened, in the TWENTY FIRST CENTURY.  Also, there were only two African Americans there and there were empty seats, so I’m sorry if being around black people is a new, challenging experience for you and you’re just getting your sea-legs where dealing with diversity is concerned. I however, have been black my whole life and I don’t have time to be befriended because it’s trendy or dated to piss off someone’s parents. My skin isn’t a fun prop that I can just remove when I want to book a commercial or get a job that I know I’m overqualified for, or not be pulled over and harassed by the police because they’re bored.

My skin color is just one small aspect of my identity and it has absolutely no bearing on my character or worth.  You’ll probably never catch me running around wearing a  “Black Power” t-shirt, but you couldn’t pay me to be anything else.  Yes I can get sunburned, yes I can swim, yes this is my hair and yes, I can pronounce “ask” properly.  I don’t think it’s funny when I’m greeted with “Yo,” and I really, honestly do not like hot sauce. I’m classy as fuck which is pretty apparent, and it shouldn’t be weird that I’m refined and also black. Those two factors are not mutually exclusive. So I take that back, I’m not sorry that you’re offended and if white privilege isn’t enough to get you through your day, then you can kiss my black ass. #dearwhitepeople #seriously 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The One About Halloween

Published 11/1/14

Halloween is a really, really, REALLY big deal in Hollywood.  More than a week ago, someone approached me and asked me if I was ready for All Hallows Eve and I laughed, not because of the question, but the intensity with which it was asked. The guy was as concerned about my costume preparation as other people have been about the college aspirations or five-year-plans of a young person. Dude. It’s not that serious.  

My first inclination was to put his mind at ease by sharing the costumes I’d been mulling over: A “never nude” (Cut-offs and I’m done. How great would that have been?), Olivia Pope (I didn’t have a wine glass big enough), or Lana from Archer. Unfortunately, my baser nature won and I just shrugged as if I hadn’t given it any thought. The alarm on that man’s face was worth it.

So since I’ve lived here for a few years I’m used to the mania induced by Mischief Night, but every year there is an added layer of crazy that I couldn’t have prepared for. As I work in Weho, I’ve dealt with an onslaught of orange and black merriment for weeks but when Halloween arrived yesterday, I managed to be shocked anew.

I decided to venture down to Santa Monica Boulevard only because I was already parked close enough to walk, and because Halloween in West Hollywood was on my LA to-do list. Even though I know that people in Weho operate under “Girl World” rules and strive to show all the skin that they can, I was still a little surprised by all of the assless chaps and pasties I saw. There were at least 30 people dressed as Waldo, so that question is answered, and also there was this.

No words. I saw a lot of Maleficents and two very creative people dressed as the house in Up, balloons and all. Someone went as I-am-not-famous-anymore-Shia Lebeouf, paper bag included. Genius. There were others that should be mentioned, but they truly would have had to have been seen to be believed. As for me, I decided on Princess Jasmine 

because- I’m just going to say this and let the chips fall where they may- Frozen is overrated and I really felt that old school Disney princesses shouldn’t be neglected. I think I’ve decided that I’m going to work my way through a few of them over the next couple of years- not Tiana though because come on, it’s like, too obvious. Also, I saw a couple of really good Mia Wallaces from Pulp Fiction and I have all the stuff for that one so it’s definitely happening.

Despite the promising start in Boystown and the countless shindigs happening last night, my evening was pretty laid back. After The Blvd, my coworker and I escaped to the east side of Hollywood for Thai food, because that’s what you should do on Halloween, right? We witnessed a strange altercation in front of a liquor store and almost got kidnapped from my car (no big deal), but a large part of the night was spent trying to find parking a block away from the Roosevelt (mistake!) and then deciding not to go out after all because it was getting late. *It wasn’t really late, it was 11:15, but I am ever an old woman at heart. * Sigh. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Growing Pains

Published 8/14/14

So in case you’re interested, this previous weekend marked my four-year LA-versary. I must say that given my inauspicious start here, I’m a little surprised I’ve lasted this long. Within the first month of my impetuous relocation, I got in one and a half car accidents, had a panic attack, got lost in almost every corner of the City of Angels and was very nearly sucked into a Ponzi scheme.  I rode the bus from Noho to Culver City before I had a car and before I knew any better, lived with way too many people in a small apartment, and thought that invitations to “red carpet events” received in emails were legitimate and worth my time. Oh young, silly Lyds!

Now that I’m a bit wiser (never older because good actresses don’t age), and a tad jaded, I’ve learned that all plans casual and romantic, interviews and auditions must be verified and triple checked because people in LA are exceedingly flaky. I’ve learned how to decipher the conflicting, ubiquitous street signs, and I know when to avoid driving on Hollywood Boulevard- always! I now understand the lore of the Arclight, and I’ve become that person who wears a pea coat in 60-degree weather with no shame.

For the past four years I’ve been broke as hell, which is saying a lot because I’m really good with money- like really, really good. But like so many of the countless artists before me who moved here with savings, a plan, and the secret belief that I was special and would be “discovered” in less than a year, I swiftly and repeatedly have had my feelings crushed by Lala Land. LA is not nice! It’s not a place to move if you want an easy life.  In some of my most financially scant moments, I’ve come pretty close to making some questionable choices.  I considered becoming a phone sex operator, which I justified because of a remembered comparison to the titular character in Girl 6. There was also the time I almost sold my eggs, and a more recent episode in which I pondered dancing at Jumbos. Courtney Love did the latter in her early days and she’s usually known for subsequent good decisions, right?

LA will break you if you don’t love the film industry, and it will break you if you do… and then it will throw in an earthquake just for kicks. This is a land of endless summer, beautiful beaches, annoying tourists, moral depravity, kale infinitum, inspiring creativity, insipid remakes, drivers who are effing insane, and In-N-Out. It’s not for everybody, but I’ve been convinced of my love of movies since I was about four years old, so I guess I’m not going anywhere.

I’ve had the chance to completely reassess my priorities- something that you can do with more clarity when you have to decide between putting 17 dollars of gas in your car or uploading a new headshot to LA Casting. And as for my floundering acting career, I finally managed to get a manager… who has sent me out exactly zero times. Thus the small triumphs of my barely-viewed commercials and infrequent avails are still languishing in my little non-union prison but I know other actresses have had even lengthier roads to getting paid for their art, so I keep at it.

I’ve been here long enough to have favorite bars, and to remember when 33 Taps was Dillon’s, and to somehow have acquired Dodger gear. I’ve still never been to a game. I’ve met and/or become disillusioned with most of my favorite actors and I’ve developed new favorites, but with caution this time. For all my complaining about the heat in the Valley, the traffic in Weho, the terror of the 405 and the general, all-encompassing horribleness of the film industry, I love this place.

I’ve realized that I have become someone who will passionately defend the merits of the Thirty Mile Zone, the idiosyncrasies of Silverlake, and the performance of the Lakers over the past few years. I’ve become an asshole driver with a favorite froyo place, more American Apparel clothing than anyone should admit to, and a very strong opinion of farmers markets by city. The last four years have introduced me to movies at Hollywood Forever, free yoga at Runyon, and Portos. I’ve met people for whom I would not take a bullet, but could possibly be persuaded to drive to LAX. In LA, that is true love. That and reading scripts that you really don’t want to read for your friends, or going to their improv shows across town. To me, LA has shown nothing but tough love, but that has forced me to write, and write and write and to grow, and to rediscover old passions that have nothing to do with the industry. Ironically, I think my newfound, extracurricular interests are making me a better actress. And while that’s happening, LA is making me a better person. I cannot begin to guess what will happen in the next four years, but hopefully I’ll still be able to say “I heart Los Angeles” and mean it.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Turn Down for What?

Published 6/5/2014

For those of you who may have been living under a rock, this is a question posed many times in the song of the same name by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. If you haven’t heard the song or you’re over 30 or you just don’t care, “turn down for what” can loosely be translated to “why should I end this revelry? What could be more timely, fulfilling and productive than gyrating and and pouring champagne on models?” Well I don’t know about you all, but I’ve found quite a few things to turn down, and even off for.

A Good Parking Space
People, parking in LA is tough, yes?  Meters, tandem spots, permit zones, street cleaning, crowded neighborhoods- all of these factors make a safe, close parking space tantamount to a golden ticket. Sometimes I consider accepting invitations, but then I remember that I’m literally right in front of my building and I don’t have to go anywhere until Monday so…

Early Call Times
When I was in college it was totally cool to get out of class, maybe study a little and then turn up till about four in the morning.  I would then nap for a couple hours and make it to class by nine. Now I have friends who suggest wild nights on the town and follow with throwaways like “You’re young,” and “Sleep when you’re dead.” Nope, I’ll sleep at eleven, thanks! When I have to be on set or at work or LAX at the crack of dawn, I want to arrive well-rested, not fighting a hangover and sans random pieces of glitter from the night before in my hair. Definitely turning down.

This is pretty self-explanatory.

One could choose to turn up with purple drank,  sizzurp and molly and whatever the hell else kids are calling alcohol and recreational drugs these days, but guys, hello! Wine! Let’s thinks about this: turn down with a nice glass of cabernet sauvignon or turn up with seven or eight shots- I’m going with the former.

Because art and stuff is like, important. Also, museums are the about the only time I can handle being in a crowd. I mean seriously, wouldn’t everyone rather turn to medium and go to LACMA than, I don’t know, turn up at Supper Club? The answer should be yes.

Target (Tar-zhay if you’re fancy) is my jam ya’ll. Sometimes I’m tempted to turn up in a retail sense and go crazy in the mall or with my Amazon wish list. Then I remember that I don’t have any money because, you know, the whole broke actress thing, and I go to Target instead. It’s like “Oh what’s this ‘dollar’ section,” and “they have swimsuits out already?” And then you go around the corner and Target is like “Groceries too, bitch!” And that’s that.

#turn down