I have now been in Los Angeles for eight years. It hasn’t been easy, and it certainly hasn’t been smooth. But I’ve been out here eight years, man. I guess that in and of itself is kind of an accomplishment. I’ll take.
Let me tell you about yesterday, because I think it perfectly sums up the Los Angeles experience. Higginbottom has just arrived back from a weeklong trip home to see her family. The pilot had mentioned that a hurricane was just off the coast, so she wanted to go to the beach to go see the supposed fifteen foot waves. I hate the beach. I hate the Westside most of the time, but I hate it especially during the summer when tourists are still here and everything is crowded and costs $15 to park. I hate sand and sunburn and everything.
But I love Higginbottom. And I remember the first time I took her to the ocean. Living all her life in Midwest, she had never seen the ocean. So I took her. And her face was just… it was seeing Santa that first time before you worry is he real. Because he is real, and huge and everything. And that was the magic of the ocean. Higginbottom loves the beach, loves going whale watching, loves aquariums, loves zoos. All of it. So we were going. That was happening.
I checked my phone. A callback for a commercial I didn’t think I would get called in for suddenly appeared on my phone. It was for 3:15 in Santa Monica. I already had an audition for a different commercial in Hollywood at 4:40 PM. This always happens. Silence for months. Then suddenly two auditions in one day. And one is always in Santa Monica. And one is always in Hollywood or the Valley.
So suddenly, we had to go. We hopped in the car at noon and drove to the beach. It took over an hour. But we got there. And Higginbottom got to enjoy the waves for a little bit. Then we drove to the audition. It was 2:15. It’s best to show up early, but not too early. So I said, let’s get lunch at the Third Street Promenade at Fatburger. So we drove, finally found parking and got over there. Fatburger had been replaced with a Chipotle. We ate quickly, dashed back to the car and got over to where it was supposed to be. Only the street was torn up. The parking for this particular casting studio is already totally fucked. This compounded it. So Higginbottom parked in Joann’s Fabrics to browse while I ran off to my audition. In sandy wet shoes and covered in sunscreen because I forgot that the beach stays with you forever.
The audition required me to be in my boxers posing in flagrante delicto with a beautiful Romanian supermodel-ish girl. This is Hollywood. We stripped down, did our bit, got some direction, and then headed off to our very different days. I got back to the car, and Higginbottom clutched her clearance item spoils — including a $1.19 pair of flip-flops for me to wear because I needed shoes and we didn’t have time.
We didn’t have any time. It was now 3:45 PM. We needed to go from Santa Monica to another studio near The Grove. This was not going to happen. At any time of day, it’d be a pinch. But at this time of day? During rush hour? Fuck that.
After weaving and wending and bitching and moaning (most on my part) we finally got to the venue at 5:00 PM. Higginbottom waited in the car while I waited in the office for a half hour to dance to a Cypress Hill song on camera. This time, fully clothed. Then I bolted back to the car so we could stop at home. We still had groceries and gas to purchase, plus, I had to make color copies for the trivia that I was going to host in — holy shit, less than an hour! in Pasadena. I ran out of the house, gear in hand, drove to Pasadena to find one copy shop had a hand written sign that said, “back at 7even.” And then ran to another one to pay too much for copies to finally make it to my venue where I barely had time to order whiskey and fries and get trivia started. I stank of the beach, covered from the knees down in sand, my back sore because the Donkey was packed with people and I couldn’t get a seat to myself until the last five minutes. I stumbled home at 10:15 PM, tired and buzzed and collapsed. But I had to get up to drive Higginbottom to work in the morning, because I had a 3:30 PM audition tomorrow, where I’d have to go in a wool suit in 100 degree heat to a venue that also has shittier parking in downtown Hollywood.
I could bitch about all this. In fact, I kind of just did. But in reality, I thought about it today. I have a life where I can afford to drive with my loved one to the beach in the middle of the week just to enjoy the crashing surf. We got to spend the day together, and she bought a bunch of Aida fabric for me to cross-stitch. And she bought me flip-flops. I may not be booking stuff, but I keep getting called back for auditions, which means there is something. I’m not just showing up for the sake of filling space. I’m making the cut. I’m doing the right thing. My only responsibility is to show up once a week to a really amazing bar, to see familiar friendly faces on my regular teams, to eat delicious french fries, swear into a microphone for laughs, and get paid to drink whiskey which occasionally gets bought for me by the various teams.
I wrote a book last year. I wrote a novelette. I’m writing even more. I need more discipline, but I’m working on that. There will be a new novelette coming out in October. Half a book will be in (some of) your laps by next month. The rest of the book will be on shelves in March. I growing as a story development person — both in writing and critiquing. I’m getting better.
I stopped eating wheat. I’m going to start exercising more. Because it’s gotten kind of ridiculous. And because if I ever get the fortune to have kids, I’d like them to actually have a lap to sit on. I drink smoothies. I’m learning foreign languages. I want to learn enough Spanish to figure out what in the fuck Bradley’s saying in the Sublime song “Caress Me Down.” I have a dog. I have a fiancee. I’m thinking about yoga and meditation.
I’m getting in tune with myself. I kept claiming I’ve been losing friends. But they aren’t car keys or parking validation tickets. I’ve been pushing them away. And I’ve been doing a really shitty job of maintaining the friendships that I already have. You got to cultivate that shit. And I’ve been in my little cocoon, doing my thing, and then wondering why everyone went away. Well, I fucked up. A friend posted this hilariously idiot article about Allston, MA, and he tagged myself and a bunch of people from film school that I don’t talk to much anymore. And it all but fucking broke my heart. I’m creating the drama, but I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to people that I ran off with my bullshit behavior.
It has a lot to do with self-worth. I don’t feel successful yet. It’s a glass-half-empty view, and that I need to work on. Not necessarily count my blessings, but at least give myself credit. I don’t feel like a person worth knowing. So when people blow me off, I don’t do much to get them back, because I don’t blame them. I get down on myself. I feel like shit. But I’m working on that. There’s gotta be something there. Even if I can’t see it.
I’m feeling hopeful and crushed at the same time. Los Angeles can be a lonely place. Everyone’s busy all the time, and if you don’t have anything to offer, you can get brushed aside. I don’t make time, so I can’t blame other folks for not making time. I can’t just expect people to put their lives on hold just for me.
So like I said, it’s kind of all about moving forward. I need to work on rebuilding the damage of my own depression. I can put a face on it now, in the wake of all of what everyone else was saying. I kept calling it everything else. But it’s depression. It’s a darkness that I think I need to make myself an artist or some bullshit like that. I can be happy and I can still create. Because the happiness can come from the creation. Not from the resultant attention. I’m a needy attention whore who craves constant validation and affection. And this is not the fucking town to be that way in. You can die shivering in the cold waiting on a hug that’s never coming.
So I’m going to work on me. I’m going to find some discipline. I crave routine. I’m going to the fucking gym. I’m going to start setting my fucking goals where I can’t reach them, so high that I gotta climb five mountains just to see the sixth where the flag is. I’m going to shut the fuck up and write and then write some more and then rewrite that fucker and then tear it down until it’s not even particles and build it back up again and maybe wreck it some more until it’s where it needs to be. I’m going to get out from under this motherfucking debt in a way that will dazzle and amuse. I’m going to hablos some motherfucking Espanol. I’m going to finish what I start and start something to finish. I’m going to cross-stitch like a motherfucker. I’m going to become someone worth knowing. Someone worth your time. Someone you want to have a beer with. Only I’m probably going to drink cider or whiskey because wheat. I’m going to learn motherfucking yoga.
If you’ve been on the ride this long with me, I seriously can’t begin to express in words how fucking incredible that is and how much you mean to me. I’ve gone to some dark fucking places. Hell, half this oververbose masturbatory blog post is about that. But that you’re still here, listening to my nonsense fills me with love and joy. And for those who have jumped off and had enough, if you want back on, there’s always room. And if you’re out, via con dios, muchachos y muchachas.
I’ve got miles to go before I can touch my toes.