Decisions

Today I want to spend a little time talking about growing up and having to make decisions. You know, I think the real separation between God and man didn’t come with God casting Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, it came when God presented Adam and Eve with the first choice (er, command?) and the naked super duo made the first decision in humanity.

This, right here, should be evidence enough that human beings are naturally poor decision makers. And yet, here lies humanity, full of choices and decisions that must be made. I bet heaven is a decision-less place–very simple, very easy.  People should never, under any circumstances, be given free reign over their own actions. That is how jackasses are born.

Am I starting to sound a bit…communistic? No? Good. Thanks, comrade.

I hate making decisions. Decision making is like a terrifying game of Russian Roulette, except you’re blindfolded, have ear plugs in, and are tied up. So in other words, decision making is attempting to do something while you have no idea what the hell is going on.

Of course, with that definition, decision making could also be like my blog…

What I really mean, though, is that life is going to chuck decisions at your head no matter what. Often, important decisions come in pairs to provide maximum amount of stress. And the truth is, sometimes you just have to decide. You might try to weigh the possibilities and risks ahead of time, but you’ll never really know until you choose one way or another. And then, you just have to roll with the results. You’re not going to make the right decision every time. But at least you made a decision and your life is moving in some direction. A lot of people (like me) are so afraid of making a bad decision or a mistake that they never make decisions at all. They get stuck in the same routines, the same life, job, career forever, and its not what they really want. But its comfortable, and its livable. What people often don’t realize is that not making a decision is making a decision. A decision not to decide.

Right now I’m at a crossroads in my life–and maybe I’ll always be at a crossroads in my life, maybe everyone is, I’m not sure–and there are multiple decisions I have to make: do I move back home to be closer to my family, or do I forge ahead on this unknown career path in LA? Do I go out with friends and burn through my savings a little faster, or do I stay home and save money, but not friends? Do I want to work in television and film, or do I want to focus my efforts more on my time outside of a career, instead of in it?

There are a lot of decisions to be made, and I hate making decisions. It’s one of the hardest things I have to do on a daily basis. But I want to make the choice right now to decide. As scary as it is, I’m not striving for stagnant. I’m working to make my mark in this world–not in a selfish way (though obviously my motivation is with my own happiness in mind) but as a way to give back to the world. I’m striving to provide my talents in a useful way to society in a light that will hopefully be beneficial, not negative. If I find a comfortable job and paycheck and just snuggle in now, that’ll never happen. So I’ve made a choice to take the rocky road instead of the smooth vanilla, and hopefully these twists and turns will lead to something good in the long run.

Until next Thursday,

Yours truly,

tlc

A Wandering Thought

So I’ve been out on the West Coast long enough now to warrant a visit home. Granted, it was a short weekend trip, but well worth it to spend time with my family, my adorkably chubby baby nephew, and the freeing spaciousness that is Kansas City. Nothing gets you homesick quite like the stark contrast between the peace and quiet of a spacious suburban home and the never-ending cluster(ahem) that is LA.

Before now, I’d never really considered the qualities that make Kansas City such an awesome place to live: Quiet, plenty of parking, low city traffic (rush hour there is like off-hours here), good neighborhoods, beautiful fall weather, and plenty of space. All this Royals pride with the team headed to the World Series (who0ddah thunk?) is great, too–apparently they’ve dyed the water blue in every fountain in the city; a daunting task for America’s city of fountains.

It made returning to LA–despite the sun and the beach and the mountains–that much harder. It’s difficult to leave everyone you love (and who loves you) and everything you’ve known growing up and find comfort in a place where you know so few people. I’ve been lucky enough to meet very kind and generous people and make a handful of friends very quickly, but when–as they say–old friends are good friends, and old friends take time, it’s difficult to feel that I have a place in LA.

In a way, I am a sort of vagabond–My housing situation is short term, and I don’t have a steady, paying job–this contributes to the lack of home feeling. But, this seems to be the way with most people in LA–hardly anyone is actually from here. As I once heard someone say, LA is a city made up of orphans. Perhaps that’s why we’re here, in the city of Angels. We’re all seeking our own to guide us.

Now obviously I’m not actually an orphan, but sometimes it can feel this way when you’ve traveled far from home and are living on your own. What’s nice is that since most of us are orphans, it’s a bit of a point of bonding. People band together when they know they are alone in the same ways. I went to a church service last night and felt surprisingly at home–the service was filled with many young people working in some respect in the entertainment industry, and without speaking to anyone, I could just feel that we were all seeking the same thing.

No, not glamour or money (though a little bit of the latter would be nice). We’re all seeking a community. A safe space to call home and validate our place in this city.

LA is like the Regina George of cities: she’ll invite you in and include you if she thinks you’ll benefit her in some way, or she’ll compliment you on your ugly skirt that no one actually likes.

Or maybe LA only seems like Regina George. Because I seem to think she’s much nicer once you get to know her. I’ll have to give it time, though, because I can’t confirm either way at the moment.

No matter where I end up after December, I know I want to be a writer, and I have found a home in my pursuit of that career. So in a way, no matter where I am, I can always take comfort in that. And I’m trying to measure my success less on the accomplishments, jobs, and responsibilities I’m gaining (or not gaining) right now, and focusing more on the journey. This is some advice that I’m trying to follow right now, and maybe it’ll be good for you, too: Don’t compare yourself to others when measuring your success. Have goals for yourself and the ambition to go for them, and plan far enough into the future to help you achieve those goals, but don’t think too much about the future. Enjoy everyday, enjoy the moment, and glean everything you can from your experiences right now. Hope for opportunities, but know that if you’re open to it, life will steer you in the direction you’re meant to roam, be that what you had in mind or not at all.

I’m learning that success is not how much money you have, or where you live, or who you are–success is being surrounded by the ones you love and who love you. Right now I’m feeling pretty unsuccessful, but I know that the ones I love are excited for me and supporting and so, even though I’m not physically surrounded by them, I feel their love. And I hope, no matter where I end up, that I can grow and share that loves with others.

Maybe someday I’ll be successful. Maybe you will be, too.

Until next Thursday,

Yours truly,

tlc

Mo Money, Mo Problems?

Alright, I know it’s distasteful and all to talk money, but let’s talk money.

Isn’t it nice to have money? Actually, let’s be real–it’s less about having money, and more about being able to do the things that only money can buy.

Like for example, traveling. Maybe even more specifically, traveling to visit your family, so that you don’t feel quite so much like you’re half a world away from the ones you love.

Or, you know, living in a house with two jacuzzis. Cause, like, the first one is for regular use, and the second is for when Benedict Cumberbatch comes to visit, you know, like breaking out the fine china.

Don’t get me wrong–I knowingly made the tough and possibly irrational decision to be poor–like, dirt poor–in the hopes of finding a career that I can love, but this whole working for free thing is really kind of a bummer and a total demotivator. (“Come on, Tasha, you have to get up early tomorrow morning because you don’t want to be late for work!” “Why, so they can fire me from my free labor?”)

And what’s worse is that we live in a society that perpetuates and expands the income gap. The phrase, “Money makes Money” has never wrung more true when you think about the stock market, retirement funds, or even starting a business or getting an education. If you want to save, invest, or create, you have to have money. And usually lots of it.

But I guess the thing that irritates me and gets me down the most is that I have to spend money to work for free. Honestly, getting college credit in exchange for an internship is the most ridiculous concept that capitalism has ever pooped out. I mean, it’s fantastic for employers: companies don’t even have to outsource for those teeny-tiny, mundane tasks that usually clog up workflow for paid employees. But for the students doing the internships? I’d honestly like to Chuck-Norris-round-house-kick whoever the bureaucratic you-know-what is who came up with this as the solution to preventing labor lawsuits.

I feel I must clarify here that this isn’t to say that internships aren’t valuable and students shouldn’t do them. I’d be a hypocrite if I said that, seeing as I’ve had three internships of my own. I’m not even saying that all internships need to be paid–only one of mine did. Internships are actually really useful for several reasons; my personal two reasons for choosing to do all of my internships were the industry experience and getting acquainted with what a career in said industry might look like (publishing, film, marketing, etc) and the job connections. Hey, if you’re working for free, you gotta hope that it’ll lead to something paid at some point.

All I’m saying is that 99% of us young’uns looking for internships really don’t mind working for free if we’re getting exposure to the career world we want to be a part of. But 100% are pissed when that non-existent check turns into a very real tuition bill. Honestly, how does it makes sense at all that I have to pay to work for free? You could say that I’m “paying for the experience,” but that’s a crock of bologna. Yes, I am getting experience, but 98% of that is getting coffee, filling out excel sheets, writing up mundane documents that I don’t need three months to master, etc–things that sure, I might need to know how to do in the work world, but not things that paid employees spend a lot of time doing.

And it’s not like any of us need the college credit, either. Here again, 99% are only taking this or that “internship” credit class so that we can make it past the interview rounds and actually let our bosses see our potential. Most colleges don’t require an internship credit to graduate, and most don’t even require a certain number of extra courses to graduate, so then taking this course not only risks damage to GPAs and sucking my savings dry, but it’s an extra thing on top of already crazy/busy college lifestyles.

Moral of the story (and the short version of this whole rant):

99% of us don’t mind working for free in exchange for industry experience. But the second you tack on a college education requirement, the second I begin to hate you.

Circling back to this idea of having lots of money, I realize that money is never really going to solve any of my problems. In fact, the more money you have, the more stress you have to deal with by keeping track of it all (I’m supposing, seeing as I have no first-hand experience with that). And honestly? I really like being poor in the sense that it grounds me; it forces me to really think about what’s necessary and what’s fluff, and really appreciate simple living. It helps me focus on the most important thing in life: my relationships with other people.

But it does burn me that I’m burning through my savings so that I can provide free labor via coffee runs and menial tasks. It’s especially frustrating when everything has a dollar sign in front of it, including things like writing classes that might help jumpstart my career and health costs to take care of my physical and mental well-being.

And you hear things like, “Everybody goes through it,” and “It’s what you gotta do” like free labor is some right of passage. What I find particularly discouraging about this is that, even though everyone sympathizes, no one has done anything to change it. It’s like hitting my head against a brick wall repeatedly while someone stands by and says, “Oh yeah, I definitely went through a period where I was in those shoes…guess you gotta just keep working at it.”

But then again, what can you do, besides raising a voice  to the heavens and hoping your prayers are carried across the wind? Idk, too poetic?

Alright, I gotta stop ranting before I put another abbreviation in the kitchen. (in the kitchen? I’ll stop talking now.)

Yours truly,

tlc

LA so Far

I’ve been thinking about how best to describe Southern California and the people of Los Angeles. In a city so big, it’s hard to pick a place to start, and accurate generalizations are even more difficult to pinpoint. It’s taken me a few days of thinking about this to really lay down my thoughts, and in some cases, I still feel that they come off very cynical. It’s really not that I don’t like living in Los Angeles—it’s just that it’s far different from anything I’ve ever been used to, and still more different that anything I could ever have expected.

People have been asking me what I think of Los Angeles so far, and I still don’t know what to tell them. I think they expect me to rattle off straight away something along the lines of, “Oh, I love it!” or “It’s great!” like you rattle off “I’m good, how are you?” whether or not you’re actually good. When I pause, they immediately assume I hate it, and then I’m left having to defend my moment of hesitation when I still don’t know what to say about it.

The truth is, I’m still not sure how I feel about this city. I don’t hate it, but I didn’t fall in love with it the way I fell in love with London and Edinburgh. This might partly be because I came out here alone, with hardly any specific plans, and no SoCal enthusiasts to show me around. I think it’s also partly because I’m not sure that a SoCal enthusiast exists—just a lot of people who hate inconvenient weather and enjoy the beach.

There are other reasons for it, too, though—the difficulty of living here, not only because the cost of living is outrageous for someone used to a Midwest standard of living like myself (especially when you’re not getting paid for 90% of the work you do during the week), but because just finding a place to live and reasonable roommates is like threading a camel through the eye of a needle (that’s not a saying, is it?). Everyone wants to live on the West Coast, and LA seems to be the center of everything West Coast, so real estate goes faster than a forest fire here.

On top of that, I’m adjusting to living in the real world—struggling with the frustrating politics and responsibilities that come with adult life, paying bills, and keeping track of everything. I don’t really feel like I’ve had time to let myself enjoy the city, or even really think about the fact that I’m in LA, which means there are literally thousands of opportunities open to me that wouldn’t be back in the Midwest.

So no, I do not love living in LA. I’ve barely gotten to know the place (…is it starting to sound like I’m dating the city?)—but I don’t hate it, either. I miss my family, and I miss my friends, and I miss the quiet tranquility that a Kansas evening can offer. But I like the realm of possibility in LA. I like that nobody here thinks I’m crazy for moving so far away. I like that nobody here thinks its weird when I say I’m trying to work in the industry. I like that 99% of the people I meet have creative minds and want to pursue creative work like me. There’s a lot of opportunity in acquaintances that way. LA might not be the city that never sleeps (people are in bed by eleven and not up till noon here) but it is fast-paced. If I want to make a living as a writer, this is the city to get me started.

So long answer short—What do I think of the city so far? I’m still figuring it all out, but I like where it’s going.

 

Until next Thursday,

tlc