L.Aversary 4: And the Award for Most Change In a Single Year Goes To…

This was written in the book when I went to karaoke last year to celebrate my 3rd L.Aversary. Someone really likes Amy Grant.

This was written in the book when I went to karaoke last year to celebrate my 3rd L.Aversary. Someone really likes Amy Grant.

It seems like only yesterday that I boarded a plane at LaGuardia Airport in NYC holding a stack of letters written to me by some of my best friends, having had my three best friends drive me to the airport and watch me as I made my way through the security line. But it was FOUR years ago. That’s a high school or undergraduate college career. If my time in Los Angeles were a child, it’d be slightly older than a toddler.

And much like senior year, or the point when you figure out how to walk, it seems like a bunch of change has been crammed into the past year.

    • I joined a writing group with my writing partner and we wrote three solid scripts together
    • I went from being a solo writer, to half of a writing team, to a solo writer again. Still in the writing group.
    • I informed my family and friends that I’m in a same-sex relationship with a trans woman. Confirmed that my family and friends are super-cool.
    • I’ve made more use of L.A’s vast networking opportunities, and have met more people with whom I can collaborate and/or I can receive mentorship
    • The Incredible Girl ride is still going, but has gone through many changes
    • I’ve been given the opportunity to write my first TV movie
    • I’m currently employed in my first full-time staff writer position
    • Dat Chevy commercial, though
    • Because of the above two things, for the first time, I’m not drowning financially
    • Because of the above thing, I was able to go home to visit this summer under my own steam and being able to afford my own place to stay without needing to crash on a million couches
    • I FINALLY HAVE A DRIVER’S LICENSE AGAIN

It’s been an amazing year – one during which I’ve continually moved forward with minimal setbacks. And while I haven’t yet completed my Top 50 Things to Do in L.A. list (I’ve done 7, 8, 48, tried to do 13 but it was closed down, and I’ll be doing 50 this weekend), I know that I’m invested in this city enough now that I’ll have plenty of time to do the rest in the year(s) to come.

Thanks for being a crazy enough city for me to live in L.A. 🙂 Never change.

(Actually, there are some changes I’d love to recommend if you’ve got a sec.)

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L.A. INCREDIBLE GIRL FUNDRAISER OCTOBER 2!

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I haven’t been very prolific on the blog front lately, because this has been a huge time of transition and success for me! New writing opportunities, new part-time job, and ramping up production on Incredible Girl!

I’ll be writing more about all of this next week, but right now I wanted to tell you about Incredible Girl‘s first fundraiser and how you can help! (If you live in L.A, this one’s for you!)

Veggie Grill has graciously allowed us to do a fundraiser at their West Hollywood location! It’s super-easy: if you go to the VeggieGrill at 8000 Sunset Blvd on October 2nd, purchase dinner and mention Incredible Girl or From the Heart Productions (our fiscal sponsor) – or print out or show THIS FLYER on your phone – Veggie Grill will donate 50% of what you purchase to our project that night! Anything we raise will go toward recouping costs on the recent Incredible Girl teaser we shot, toward hiring a graphic artist to create an Incredible Girl logo, and other costs that are starting to creep up as we move forward with this project.

Whether you stay and enjoy your meal, or quickly grab something To Go, IT ALL COUNTS! But Exec Producer and star Aurora de Blas and I will be there the whole time if you want to stay and eat and say hello. 🙂

And if possible, join the Facebook Event for the fundraiser! This way, we can have an idea of how much help we’ll be getting on the 2nd. It’ll certainly boost morale over at Camp Incredible Girl!

So, if you’re in L.A. on October 2nd, consider having dinner at Veggie Grill and mentioning our fundraiser! It would be a huge help and be a great start to what I know is going to be a long, exciting journey!

Thank you so much. 🙂

The Lemon Lounge, Ep 2: Drama and Trauma

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Episode Two of The Lemon Lounge is up, and I had the pleasure of co-hosting this episode, too! 🙂 This one focuses on shows of a more dramatic nature – shows that deal with drama, trauma, issues of gender and sexual orientation, etc. And once again, I join Cindy Jenkins,  Jacquetta Szathmari, and Lemuel H. Thornton III for the discussion.

If you love theater, my smiling face, or BOTH, set aside 20 minutes and check out this awesome new talk show that attempts to bring the theater scene in L.A. to YOU!

NYC Talent Invades LA!

Rebecca Comtois and Mac Rogers in a scene from “Ligature Marks.”

You know that feeling you get when you’re reading an interview with a celebrity you admire, and they talk about how they used to be college roommates with another celebrity, or how they’ve known this other celebrity in grade school or whatever, and you think to yourself That’s so crazy that all those people were just friends back in the day, and now they’re all famous?

I kinda feel like that’s how people will one day be talking about me, Mac Rogers, and Becky Comtois. 🙂

OK, so we didn’t go to college together. Or grade school. But we do all know each other through the New York independent theater scene, back when I was an actor in a theater company called Stone Soup Theater Arts, and they were part of a theater company called Nosedive Productions and our theater companies became friends (and sometimes more than friends…it was a very incestuous time). I mention the above feelings, because these are two seriously talented motherfuckers.

Mac Rogers is one of my favorite playwrights. He’s also a really great actor, but writing plays is his JAM. It’s crazy to think that I know someone quite so talented. It’s the kind of talent that I know will end up being taught in colleges, performed all over the world, and referenced in other works. And Rebecca Comtois is a brilliant actress. This woman is fierce on stage, and has amazed me every time I’ve seen her perform. She needs to be famous and cast in everything, like, yesterday.

Which is why I’m SO EXCITED that Mac’s latest play (which stars him and Becky), Ligature Marks, will be performed as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival next month! One of my big regrets about moving to L.A. (and I’ve told him this) is that I now always miss the productions of Mac’s new work. But now it’s coming to ME! And I’m hugely excited. Mostly because this play seems to involve an MMORPG, and I love me some plays about nerds.

And hopefully we’ll be able to get together while they’re here so we can pow-wow and plan how we’re all gonna become crazy-famous and refer to each other in talk show anecdotes and magazine interviews. 🙂

Anyway, local peeps should check this play out! Mac Rogers and Rebecca Comtois are names you should know, L.A!

Mac Rogers and Rebecca Comtois in a scene from “Ligature Marks”

Top 50 Things To Do In L.A.

So, I’ve finally gotten around to creating my list! The Top 50 Things to Do in L.A, starting with the ones my friends suggested at my 2nd L.Aversary picnic and continued by me. Keep in mind, this is MY Top 50 – the top 50 things I want/need to do in my (still relatively) new city. Touristy things, geeky things, artsy things…

My goal is to do all of these by the time my 3rd L,Aversary rolls around.

Let’s do this! 🙂

  1. Visit The Garden of Oz in the Hollywood Hills (sometimes it’s locked)
  2. Double Feature at the New Beverly Cinema
  3. Jump the fence at the Hollywood Sign before the cops come
  4. Canoe the appropriate section of the L.A. River
  5. A Hollywood Forever Cemetery screening
  6. Grauman’s Chinese Theater (or, the TCL Chinese Theater – ugh!)
  7. Visit the Main Branch of the L.A. Library
  8. Go to Zombie Joe’s Underground
  9. Zipline in Venice
  10. Point Dume State Beach in Malibu (private-ish public beach)
  11. Walk around and window shop at 10pm on Rodeo Drive
  12. Korean spa (Olympic spa or Wi spa)
  13. Ride Angels Flight
  14. Go to Venice Beach/Muscle Beach.
  15. Visit LACMA
  16. See a Dodgers game
  17. Go to Street Cinema
  18. Take at least one major studio tour (WB, Paramount, etc)
  19. Visit Universal Studios
  20. Ride the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier
  21. Ride the merry-go-round at the Santa Monica Pier
  22. Get red carpet bleacher seats to the Oscars
  23. Visit the Huntington Library and have tea in their Rose Garden Tea Room
  24. Take a Grave Line Tour to Hollywood Forever, Forest Lawn, and Westwood Memorial
  25. Dine at Musso and Frank’s
  26. See a production at the Ahmanson Theater
  27. See a production at the Mark Taper Forum
  28. Attend a concert, and have a fancy picnic, at the Hollywood Bowl
  29. See a concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall
  30. See a REDCAT performance
  31. See “Terminator Too: Judgment Play”
  32. Take a day trip to Catalina
  33. See a film at El Capitan
  34. Visit Ripley’s Odditorium
  35. Visit the Hollywood Wax Museum
  36. Go back to the Magic Castle and see the part you couldn’t see when they were doing renovations
  37. Visit Gallery 1988
  38. Attend a show at UCB
  39. Visit Watts Towers
  40. See a concert at the Greek Theater
  41. See a show at The Laugh Factory
  42. See a show at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go
  43. See a show at The Jazz Bakery
  44. Spend the day in Chinatown – eat at Golden Dragon?
  45. Visit MoCA
  46. Go wine tasting at San Antonio Winery
  47. Go to the California Science Center to see Endeavor
  48. Go to the L.A. County Fair
  49. Go to Knott’s Berry Farm
  50. Visit the Getty Villa

As I cross things off the list, I’ll repost. Think I’m missing something? That’s what the comments below are for!

L.Aversary 2: My Second Year, and I’m Still Here

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Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Of course, we all know that this weekend was about more than just some piddly “national holiday.” Yesterday was my 2nd L.Aversary! On 9/1/2011, I boarded a flight at LaGuardia Airport in New York City to fly 3,000 miles away from everyone I knew and cared about to try my hand at living in Los Angeles. In the two years since that fateful day, I’ve:

  • Lived in/crashed at 10 different apartments in 8 different neighborhoods
  • Lost several writing jobs
  • Gained several writing jobs
  • Went to my first SDCC (was fun, but realized it was no big deal)
  • Went to my first, and second Geek Girl Cons (realized it’s my favorite convention EVER)
  • Visited New York after living here for almost a year and realized that, as much as I miss it, there are reasons why I left New York and why moving to L.A. was a good decision
  • Finally made things official by getting a CA Identification Card (no, I still don’t drive here. Sue me.)
  • Gained several friends
  • Ended three friendships
  • Learned that communication happens very differently in L.A. than it does in NY. Trying to get better at navigating the differences.
  • Have been more successful at losing weight than I have ever been in my life (due in no small part to L.A. allowing me to be more “outdoorsy”)
  • Gained a boyfriend who makes me obscenely happy whenever I look at his obscenely adorable face

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So, the past two years have been tumultuous, to be sure, but despite everything, I still have a positive balance in my Awesome Life account, and I’m earning interest on that shit!

I’ve decided to make my L.Aversary another annual excuse to have a party, so yesterday I invited a small group of friends out to North Hollywood Park to enjoy Box Wine, Board Games, and BBQ. The BBQ was more for alliteration’s sake – it was actually more of a picnic with sandwiches and snacks, but the rest totally happened. I was joined by some wonderful peeps, we shot the shit, we ate, we drank, and we played Loaded Questions, which allowed me to get to know my friends even better!

I also gave them worksheets. Because that’s the kind of nerd I am. 🙂

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I gave them each a sheet of paper with 2 questions on it. The first: What do you remember about the first time you met Teresa? Here are some of the answers (anonymously) in no particular order…

I met Teresa at [mutual friends’] when they lived on [street where they lived]. I remember instantly liking her and knowing she was someone I could trust.

I remember a large crowd and two smiling faces coming out of the throng. It was you and [mutual friend], and then we stopped and had a quick introduction and chat. I was impressed with your integrity and how easy it was to connect with you.

It was at the first Single Geeks in L.A. at Villains’ Tavern. You told me your favorite Doctor was John Pertwee because he had a tattoo.

I don’t actually remember the first time we met. Teresa is one of those friends you feel like you’ve always been friends with. If I had to choose, though, it’s that she seemed very happy.

Awww… 🙂 I would highly recommend doing this kind of thing regularly with your friends. It’s so easy to feel like you’re not that important, or special, but when you look at yourself through your friends’ eyes, you see that maybe you’re being a bit hard on yourself. Maybe you’re more awesome than you think you are. In any case, I’m so grateful that I continually meet such kind, thoughtful, creative, amazing people, and that despite the drama that sometimes surfaces in this crazy city, that I am continually able to surround myself with people who are above the bullshit and know how to treat people. I want to thank each and every one of them for being so good to me since I’ve gotten here. I hope I’ve been returning the favor.

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The second thing I asked them has to do with a goal I’m setting for myself this year. I want to make it a point to do as many cool things this city has to offer as possible! I don’t want to make the same mistake I did in New York where, because I lived there, I held off on doing certain things because “it’ll always be there” and then the thing closes, or I move before having a chance to do it. The following will be included in a bigger list of 50 L.A. Musts For The Next 365 Days that I hope to put up tomorrow. Here is the beginning of that list, as suggested by my friends (I’m only including the ones they suggested that I haven’t already done):

  1. Visit The Garden of Oz in the Hollywood Hills (sometimes it’s locked)
  2. Double Feature at the New Beverly Cinema
  3. Jump the fence at the Hollywood Sign before the cops come
  4. Canoe the appropriate section of the L.A. River
  5. A Hollywood Forever Cemetery screening
  6. Grauman’s Chinese Theater
  7. Visit the Main Branch of the L.A. Library
  8. Go to Zombie Joe’s Underground
  9. Zipline in Venice
  10. Point Dume State Beach in Malibu (private-ish public beach)
  11. Walk around and window shop at 10pm on Rodeo Drive
  12. Korean spa (Olympic spa or Wi spa)

Hopefully, by my 3-year L.Aversary, I will have done all of this and more!

Well L.A, it’s been two years, and I’m still here. Bring it on, bitch. 😉

L.A. Year One: It’s Been a Year Today

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Well, kids, this is it. Today officially marks a year since I moved from New York to Los Angeles.

And what a year it’s been!

Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve lived in seven neighborhoods (Santa Monica, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Mid-City, El Sereno, North Hills, Los Feliz) and slept on three beds, four couches, one futon, and one mattress on the floor. I still don’t have my own apartment (though I came close that one time), but that will change in October, as my friend and executive producer, Miley, and I will be going in on an apartment together that will become L.A.’s newest artist hub. 🙂

Speaking of Miley – the biggest thing I’ve taken on in a year’s worth of Big Things is RETCON. I went from just being a writer on it, to actually invested in producing the dang thing. 🙂 I’m proud to be a part of it, and I hope our IndieGoGo campaign does well so that I can continue working on it, as I truly believe that it has the potential to be something really special.

Living here has given me a lot of professional opportunities. I’m closer to all the writing fellowships I need to be applying to in television when I’m ready to do that (I didn’t apply to any this year, as a tumultuous living situation isn’t really conducive to writing things for which you’re not getting paid), I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several well-established writers in television to whom I can go with all my silly beginner questions, I’m closer to a lot of entertainment-related stories, which provides excellent paid writing gig fodder, and I’ve had the chance to meet some of my favorite actors/writers/performers in a professional capacity, but outside the context of work (ie: not at a signing/event/photo op). I’m also in an environment where people are always actively making something, so if I ever want to be involved in putting a show together, all I really have to do is ask.

Being in L.A. has also allowed me to be a bigger part of the Geek Community! I’ve gotten to meet popular web creators and go to all these West Coast conventions (SDCC, WonderCon, GeekGirlCon, Gallifrey One) that I’d either never been to before, or that were difficult for me to get to before, and being friends with many of the founding members of the League of Extraordinary Ladies has allowed me to stay looped in to all sorts of fun and geektastic goings-on. L.A. is the epicenter of the geek creative community, and I’m glad to be here, both to be inspired by it and to work within it.

I’ve also been more physically active here than I was in New York. Sure, I did a lot of walking in New York, but here I do the same amount of walking over longer distances. Also, I’ve taken a shine to hiking, as there are so many trails I have easy access to. I’ve lost about 20 lbs since I’ve been here (at least, that’s from when I started counting in January – it might be a bit more), and while I’ve gotten lazy on the hiking in the past couple of weeks, I’ll certainly be getting back to it, as it’s something I really enjoy. I’ve been eating better, too, as it’s so much easier to get fresh produce all year round, and people tend to eat healthily in general.

However, this first year in L.A. has caused me to feel more extreme emotions than I ever have before. It’s funny, I was talking to my friend Emily last night (at a fabulous thing called Ladies Night Out in Burbank, where this strip of shops on Magnolia all have discounts and there are food trucks and snacks and free samples, etc – last Friday of every month!) and was able to articulate for the first time some of my mixed feelings about this city. It shocks me that L.A. is a city that is entirely built on qualities that no one likes. I happen to know some very down to Earth, solid, loyal people out here – and yet there’s this unwritten agreement that L.A. is this superficial, shallow place where how you dress, who you know, what you look like, whether you have a smartphone or a regular cell phone, and what car you drive is more important than your talent, or what kind of person you are…and the answer I hear everywhere, even from people I respect is, “Well, that’s just how L.A. is.” Well, people I know in and around the industry I’ve chosen to get into, anyway.

That’s been the most frustrating thing to deal with this year. That despite everyone I know knowing it’s bullshit, they’re all perfectly content to put up with it because “that’s just how it is.” In my conversation last night, it basically boiled down to me having two options: Play Along To Get Along, or Go Home.

Now here’s the thing. I came out here to do some things, and I’m not leaving until I do them. 🙂 So in my case, it seems that Play Along To Get Along is the answer. Luckily, I have two things working in my favor in order to make this option more palatable:

1) I Came Out Here at Age 32. Making big life changes in your thirties means you have a better grasp on who you are, what your deal-breakers are, and have more experience in dealing with different types of people. I feel better able to handle what gets thrown my way without being too worried about losing myself in the process, because I came out here with a certain level of maturity.

2) I’m Good At Compartmentalizing. One of the things several friends of mine in New York told me before I got here was that I would do well, because I’m good at “playing the game.” Apparently, I’m good at making nice and hiding my reservations about people. I guess this is a good thing? I suppose it’s the thing that will allow me to survive out here.

But I just want to put this out there. Do not mistake my being nice for naivete or stupidity. It is neither. You have been warned.

And also, I don’t plan on staying silent about all of this unnerving me, either. Just because this is “how it is,” doesn’t mean I have to like it, and I reserve that as the one thing I will not fake.

Oh, L.A. you crazy, beautiful bitch. It’s been a hell of a year. And I’m still standing. I can handle it. You’re not getting rid of me that easily. And I suspect there’s more to you than meets the eye. Usually, when people focus on the superficial, they do it to mask insecurities. I’m sure the same is true of cities. But you know what, L.A? I’m sure you’ll still be beautiful, intelligent, and worthwhile even if you take off your make-up and cry in front of me. In fact, you might be more beautiful to me then. I’m looking forward to getting to know the real you – even if I have to flay layers of plastic surgery off you with a scalpel in order to do it.

Tonight, I’m having a First L.A.versary Party where some of those solid, loyal, down to Earth people I told you about will be joining me for karaoke and drinks. That, above all, is the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year. You can live anywhere as long as you seek out and hold onto quality people. I’ve done that, and that’s been the real thing that’s saved me in this crazy town. Thank you, L.A. friends for showing me the ropes and lending me a hand! I hope that as I continue to make my life out here, I can do the same for you!