Reminding Myself Of Reality


On Monday morning I woke up in a strangely perky mood for a Monday. This past weekend officially marked a full year in Los Angeles for me, and even though I didn’t really consciously acknowledge it, I think knowing that I’ve spent a year doing what I never really thought possible back in Kansas has filled me with an incredible sense of accomplishment. Monday was a strange day, though, and my bright morning was about to turn into a less-than-shiny day.

When I got to work, I discovered on a local news site that a robbery and subsequent manhunt had taken place in Century City during my commute. Century City is fifteen minutes from the neighborhood where I live, and many of my assistant friends were discussing it on Facebook, as CC is where several different production companies, one studio and a handful of agencies are situated as well.

This in itself didn’t really phase me all too much, besides the initial surprise that in the year 2015 people are still committing big-time robberies in the middle of the day as if they were Bonnie and Clyde and this was the nineteenth century, not the twenty-first. However, I took bigger note of this situation when later that afternoon, I got a text from my roommate who couldn’t go home because our neighborhood had been blocked off by the police, who were searching for two men who had hijacked a car, rammed into a police car, and then taken off on foot through our neighborhood. It would be another two hours before she’d be able to enter our street.

This really hit home for me, but the events of the day weren’t over yet. As I was driving home after a long night of printing, I passed a car that was essentially parked in the right hand lane of the street. I passed by slowly, wondering if they had stalled, or if there was something wrong, and was surprised to find that the driver was simply sitting in the driver seat, waiting. I though perhaps he was an Uber driver waiting to pick up his next customers and drove on, but as I looked into my rearview mirror, I noticed a second man kneeling on the ground near the passenger side of the car, doing something to a tire of a parked car on the street. I was too far away to tell exactly what was going on, and decided it was better if I stay out of it, but if I didn’t know better, I would have said that those men where stealing hubcaps off of cars.

And while I can’t say for sure that that is what I witnessed, it was a jarring experience nonetheless. And the entire day’s worth of events really got me thinking about the world we live in, and more specifically, the city that I live in. It was a very timely first-year anniversary reminder that LA isn’t some glamorous or shiny city where everyone is middle class and can be trusted not to steal your things. LA is a grimy place where people who are suffering live and are desperate enough for money that they’re willing to steal your hubcaps or car or attempt to pull off a robbery in broad daylight in order to improve their situation.

The world can be a scary place, and I think we often let ourselves fall into these places of disillusioned comfort so that we don’t have to face the dark, harsh reality around us. And honestly? It was a good reminder for me, as I realized that I had been falling into this abyss of comfortable ignorance. To me, that is worse than depressing reality, because when something bad does happen, it is that much more unexpected, that much more jarring, and that much more hard to handle. I don’t want to let myself grow comfortable and rigid in how I think the world works, because I want to be prepared for the tough times, and as much as I wish they were all behind me, I know that there will always be tough times ahead of me, too.


A Short PSA About How to Get My Job (AKA be a PA)

So today I got a friendly e-mail from a KU alum who had seen me post about what I’m doing/where I’m working now that I’ve graduated from KU and am living in Los Angeles. He sent me the same type of e-mail that I know I sent to a million and one people when I was reaching for the stars and entertaining the insane idea of moving out here to work in television. He asked for my advice on how to get from where he was to where I currently am. Now, I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t nearly as friendly in my advice-giving as the people who answered my inquiries when I first came out here. In my defense, I wasn’t in an optimistic mood, and I whole-heartedly believe in keepin’ it real (unless you’re keeping up appearances–idk wtf am I even saying? It’s a Friday, guys. I just want to go home and drink).

But I also believe in paying it forward, and if this is truly something that he wants to pursue, I want him to jump in head first, knowing exactly what he’s getting himself into (because, believe me, I totally relate, and I completely support pursuing your passions).

I also really just wanted an easy blog post for this week, and since I’d already spent a fair amount of time writing this gem of an email, I figured, why not share it with the rest of the very small world that reads this blog?

So, two birds with one stone. **DISCLAIMER** I am not, in any way, shape, or form, an expert in giving industry advice. If you want something a little more thorough, check out The Temp Diaries  or The Anonymous Production Assistant, which can give you a much better idea of what it’s like to work as a PA in this town.

If you want a laugh, though, please, read on. I was in a very sarcastic mood (edited for privacy purposes):

Hi Tasha!

I’ve been doing comedy in Chicago for a while, but my wife and I have been eyeing a move out west for a while. One of my shorter-term goals would be to land a writer’s PA position at a scripted TV show — so when I saw your post, I thought, “hey wait a second, that’s what I want to do!”
I’m sure you’re extremely busy, but if you have time to give a complete stranger some advice, I’d greatly appreciate it. What path did you take to get your current position? What sorts of things should I be doing to get there myself? And have you enjoyed the job and/or found it helpful advancing your career as a writer?
Okay, so here you go:

Honestly, I hope I don’t sound like a complete asshole, because there isn’t a whole lot of advice I can give you. There isn’t really one specific way to get a job as a PA. Pretty much everyone I know (including myself) has gotten their job through the connections they make out here–so living in LA is probably the first step. But I’m sure there are lots of production jobs going on in Chicago as well, so trying to find some job listing groups on Facebook and get in with a production crowd as a freelance PA while you’re still in Chicago might also be a good way to go. I know lots of people who’ve been able to advance a lot faster because they knew/worked with people back in their home towns/other cities before moving out here. But basically, just getting out here and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK.  (This is also miserable, because LA is expensive and even once you start landing PA positions they pay like shit. I’m making minimum wage and thank God I get fed at work or else I wouldn’t be able to pay rent.)
Besides the money factor and the difficulty in finding a job, I absolutely love what I do. I don’t know that it’s really advancing my career as a writer, but it’s been motivating and a great learning experience to meet the writers, sit in the writer’s room, and get their advice/feedback on writing. However, I should also specify that I work for an amazing crew of totally nice super awesome people. There are quite a lot of jerks in Hollywood, and I get spoiled where I’m at right now. So not every job is this great. I worked a reality show before this, and even though the people I was working for were super nice, I absolutely hated it. I drove an hour both ways just to get to work, and then did 12 hours straight on my feet without sitting down, with the only other time I was off my feet being when I took my mandatory 30 min unpaid lunch break. It sucked.
Keeping with the whole honesty thing–and here’s where I’m going to sound like the biggest asshole you’ve ever spoken with–being a Writer’s PA/Writer’s Assistant on a scripted show (or getting into scripted TV, period) is about the hardest job to get in Hollywood, and most people will tell you this. For one, it’s just difficult to break into the industry, period. For another, there is about triple the amount of reality TV programming to scripted television. I fell into the job I currently have because a friend of mine, who I studied abroad with my freshman year of college, had a friend who worked as a PA under my current producer, and somehow heard there was an opening on this show and so my friend forwarded my resume to her friend, who forwarded it to the Production Coordinator, who interviewed me and offered me the job two weeks later when the producer I work under found out I was a KU alum (he went to KU, too). So an insane amount of chance got me my job. It sucks, but hey, if you’re good at making friends and have a good work ethic, then you might stand a chance.
Another thing you should know–especially because I don’t know what your wife does for a living–is that jobs aren’t steady or consistent. I was extremely lucky to get work so quickly after finishing my two internships (I spent four months working full time for free out here before I started looking for paid work, and I got paid work insanely quickly). But even after working on a sitcom for five months, we are almost wrapped with production for our current season, and I’m not sure what’s happening next. Right now I’m looking at unemployment for at least the month of September, and crossing my fingers that something comes along before I burn through my savings or have to become a barista like my roommate, who gets up every morning before God is even awake.
Anyways. I hope that answers some of your questions. If you’re crazy enough to still want to move out here, let me know and when you and your wife get out here we’ll go get drinks in a super dive-y LA bar in Midcity before I show you the van where I live down by the river.
But seriously, I actually do know a guy who lives in a van. I wish it was down by the river but, you know, drought.
I really hope this guy e-mails me back. I think we stand a real chance of being great friends. Oh, also, he added me on Facebook, where I post links to my blog every week, so if you’re reading this right now, I’m sorry I didn’t ask your permission before posting this. I hope I left it anonymous enough for you. Being honest again, though, I have no shame. Your e-mail saved me something like two hours of extra brain power.
Until next week,

The Best Lesson I’m Learning in 2015

There are few lessons in the life that I think I will constantly and consistently need to work on as hard as the one I am writing about today. However, there are also few lessons that need learning in this world that are so delicate and yet so vital to our social sanity. That lesson, my dear friends, is not to care.

The art of not caring is a fine line between (and do pardon my french) giving no fucks and fucking up. You see, on the one hand, if you make yourself care about everything, you will be in an endless circle of trying to please others–a task that is not only harmful to your self esteem (as you are not perfect, and others will point this out to you), but also hurts your productivity (because if you’re constantly working towards trying to make people like you, when will you ever have time to work on the things you want to do?). However, if you don’t let yourself care about anything, how can you ever expect to garner any success in anything you do? If you don’t put effort, thought and care into your actions and creations, you’ll never reach your potential, and you certainly won’t make friends.

So how do you navigate the fine line between caring too much and not caring enough? Well I can’t claim to have a fail-proof way of going about this, as I’ve already said, I’m still working on this myself, but I’m going to steal this one piece of valuable advice from my roommate, who I can safely say is much wiser than I: “You are the only person who has any control over your feelings. You can choose to be bothered by something or someone, or you can choose not to give them control over how you feel.”

In other words, you decide whether or not something or someone makes  you feel a certain way.

Now, I get that this is a difficult concept to accept, because we aren’t raised in a society who views emotions this way. We’ve been taught to think of emotions in the same way that we think about reflexes or getting sick: they just come up upon us without any reason or notice or control of our own. This is part of the reason why we have such a victimizing stance in rape culture: we allow or assume men (and women!) can’t control their sexual urges or feelings. But if you have any ounce of logical reasoning, you can easily realize that this isn’t the case at all.

Emotions are a matter of the mind.* They are a normal function of our everyday lives, and we can decide what and when we feel what we feel. This is anger management 101 (okay, it might actually be anger management 394, I don’t know I’ve never taken anger management).

So here’s the really amazing part of this revelation: YOU CONTROL YOUR HAPPINESS. This means that you’re happiness is not reliant upon the things that happen in your life, or your job, or even the people you find yourself surrounded by. You don’t have to feel sad, or sorry, or mad, or jealous of anyone, EVER, just because they want you to feel that way. You are in charge of your feelings and your happiness. Don’t make yourself bend over backwards simply for someone’s emotional approval.

And that’s it. That’s all I have to say on this subject. I will add that I wish I had known this while I was still managing a kitchen during my junior and senior years of college. It would have been so helpful to recognize that, even though I knew I couldn’t make everyone happy all the time, that I also didn’t need everyone’s happiness in order to feel happy myself. This might sound harsh, but there are just some people in this world who are going to decide that they don’t like you, or that will want to feed off of your misery, and it’s just not worth the effort.

So go forth and be happy my loves.


*DISCLAIMER: If you suffer from a mental illness, controlling your emotions may not simply be a “matter of the mind”. If you’re finding it difficult to control your emotions, if you find you often ask yourself why you did or said or thought certain things, it may be time to ask for help. And there is no shame in that. A quarter of the population struggles with mental health issues (including myself!) and it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. If you aren’t sure who to ask, talk to your doctor or someone close to you that you trust and let them know how you are feeling.

Why I’m Grateful To Be A TwentySomething

I talk in this blog a lot about the trials and lessons of being a twentysomething. It is, after all, that uncharted, turbulent time when technically everyone calls you an adult, but you still feel like you’re growing up. That means there are a lot of nights of anxiety, and a lot of decisions that feel like the equivalent to jumping off a cliff, or holding your breath far beyond when your vision starts to blur.

Or at least, I have these moments.

But it’s not always like that, and in the midst of everything, I am so grateful I have this time in my life to just sort of stumble around blindly.

Why? Well, frankly, I look at the people in their 30’s and 40’s around me and see two groups: those who have their lives “together” and those who are either starting over, or still figuring out what they want. Both are okay, but neither is where I want to be right now. Of course some day, like many–if not most–other people I know, I want to be in that first group of people, where “together” means a happy combination of career and family. And, of course, I know that if I’m in that second group, that’s fine, too, because “together” doesn’t always have to mean career and family. But once you have those two things, there isn’t a whole lot of room to be selfish or focus on yourself. You have kids and a spouse to think about, bills and responsibilities, people who are depending on you to be a stable, reliable resource. Which means putting off things like chores, or taking time off from work to focus your energy on a side project isn’t really a possibility for most people at that stage in life. So if you ever feel down about not knowing the love of your life, not working your dream job, and not living in a mansion somewhere near a beach, just remember that your low-profile and freedom now gives you the opportunity to do these things:

1) Travel on a whim, for long periods of time, to random places “just because.”

Sure you’re poor and paying the rent is your biggest concern right now, but think about it this way: You don’t have that many possessions. You’re bank account already practically qualifies you for welfare, what’s there to lose if you move your stuff back into your parent’s basement for a few months, save up a couple thousand, and hike across Europe? You have no one waiting for you back home, and given your salary if you even had a full time job, it probably wasn’t something you’d like to stick with long term, anyways. If you’re ready for a change and want to spend some time discovering more about yourself while you meet awesome people and learn more about the world, traveling in your twenties is the perfect time to do it. You’ll never get a chance like this again.

2) Be a student.

Okay, so now that I’ve been out of college for a little over a year, I don’t recommend going to grad school without giving yourself at least a year in between. Obviously, I can’ t speak for the experience of those who do go straight to grad school, and granted, it was definitely something I deeply considered my senior year of college, but I’ve learned so much being in the real world this last year that I wouldn’t have been exposed to if I had stayed in the nice warm shelter of school. One of the things I’ve learned is that for the line of work I’m trying to do, having a master’s degree in Creative Writing–or really, any kind of degree in any subject–isn’t going to really give me a leg up. It’s just going to put me in more debt, and delay my entering the real world by a year or two.

Still, getting my masters in Creative Writing is a dream in the back of my mind, if for no other reason than giving me an excuse to spend a year or two living in some cool new place, focusing entirely on building up my arsenal of original work. And, working at a University is my fall back dream career, so there’s that, too. And no matter when you do grad school, if you do grad school, it’s definitely easier to get through when you don’t have a family to support. I would also assume that it’s an easier feat when the knowledge you picked up in your undergraduate classes is fresher in your mind.

3) Try out different “fun” jobs.

There is no better time or excuse for jumping from job to job than when you are first starting out in the world and trying to figure out what you enjoy and where you would like to fit into the bigger picture of society. I did this with internships, by working in marketing, publishing, and film development, discovering that while all three were exciting in their own right, none were exactly right or exciting for me. Still, there are a variety of dreamy odd-jobs on my list that I would only be unashamed to try because I have zero responsibilities beyond paying my bills right now. These include the following:

-Working as a Disney Princess at Disneyland.

-Working as a park attendant of some sort in the Wonderful World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios LA when it opens next Spring.

-Working as a Studio page and/or tour guide at any of the film studios around LA.

-Working as an extra for films and tv shows.

-Working as a house sitter/dog sitter for wealthy clients.

-Working as a personal assistant to a celebrity.

-Working for Buzzfeed.

-Working as a travel guide and/or a travel agent.

-Using an etsy shop and being an Uber driver as my primary source of income.

etc, etc.

4) Spending irresponsible amounts of money on take out, exploring new restaurants and bars, and being a semi-permanent ‘tourist’.

Granted, this might be a little more feasible for someone living in LA than in Kansas, where everything is a chain restaurant and being a ‘tourist’ consists of spending the day at the Renaissance Fair, eating giant Turkey legs, but still. Being in your twenties is the best time to find what will become “the best place to eat brunch,” “the best movie theater deal in town,” “the diviest bar, ever,” “the greatest hangover cure,” among you and your friends, because once you start working longer hours, have a spouse and/or kids to come home too, and a mortgage bill to pay, putting off chores or responsibilities no longer makes you “fun,” it just makes you immature. So do it now while you’re not tied down.

5) Consume all there is to know about whatever interests you.

This doesn’t mean you have to have your nose in a textbook. If you’re really interested in script writing, maybe this means regularly binging on Netflix (at least, that’s the excuse I use!). But it could also mean taking a day to learn new techniques on sewing, knitting, hunting, gardening, photography, whatever! Now is the time to learn and develop a hobby, because when you start involving one, two, three or more people in your life (aka have a family) you’ll find that any free time you have will be spent doing laundry and watching Sesame Street. This, at least, is what I’ve gathered from observing my siblings.

I could probably go on and on about things to do, and things to be grateful you can do while you’re in your twenties, but this post is already long enough. And if it isn’t obvious, this is a start to another thing you should incorporate into your life–no matter what age you are: Be a little more positive. When I start to feel down about where I am in life, I just think about all of these experiences that I’m able to have and then I act on them, because there is no better time than now. Take charge of your life, and enjoy being a twentysomething.