Loss

I’m taking a bit of personal discretion in writing this post. Today I write about the recent loss of a friend. A friend that I unfortunately did not have the chance of knowing better. I hope that, for anyone who knew that friend and might be reading this, I do justice by her and do not dredge up hard feelings.

I didn’t post last week because I really didn’t have anything to write about. You probably think, “Right, it wasn’t just because you forgot again?” And I totally get that. It would seem logical given how spotty my posts have been since my job ended in September. But actually, I thought about posting several times throughout the week, and just really couldn’t think of a topic that I haven’t beat into a dead horse. (No actual horses have been harmed in the writing of this blog.) But since last Friday, two big things have happened: I went on a retreat at my church (this might not seem big, but it really was a great refresher that breathed new perspective into several aspects of my life) and probably a little more significantly, a friend of mine from college passed away.

This blog has morphed into something weirdly more personal that I expected or had intended. In fact, I started this blog nearly four years ago simply as a way to build a presence in the age of social media, and as a place to put writing samples and encourage myself to practice routine writing. I thought I would write funny, quirky posts that were relatable to other college students, and then I thought I’d start writing about that transitional period between college and real life, and somewhere in the midst of all of that this blog has turned into a public diary of sorts, sharing my experiences uncovering the world one person at a time, one city (right now LA) at a time.

I write a lot about dating, and jobs, and unemployment, and friendships, and family, and moving, and pretty much everything that rolls around in the mind of a 20-something. I’ve even spoken a little bit about anxiety and depression and mental illness because I have personally dealt with those things in my life. But I’ve never talked about death. Not really. This is because I’m in my early twenties. Death is not supposed to be on my mind.

My friend Kelly had cancer. She was only two years older than me. I knew her battle had taken a turn for the worse, but I had never expected that I would wake up one morning, check Facebook and see a post from her family announcing her departure from this world. She was young. She was strong. She had a future ahead of her.

Let me interject here and say that Kelly was my friend, but we had not spoken outside of Facebook updates since she had graduated from KU. I hope that her closest friends and family will forgive me for not being able to encapsulate the absolute beauty of a human being that she was. I cannot even begin to fathom the grief that they are experiencing.

If you’ve read my other posts, you’re probably aware that my mother also battled cancer several years ago. Kelly and my mom had the same type of cancer. My mother beat her cancer. It’s not fair that Kelly did not have the same outcome. This has reminded me of a few things that I had begun to forget in the nearly fourteen years since my mother’s battle with cancer began.

Since my childhood, cancer has been to me like an estranged uncle that no one in the family really feels comfortable discussing, but who shows up without invitation during the holidays and ruins Christmas with a bottle of Cognac. Cancer’s presence in my life has been an eye-opener, teaching me the incredibly raw and terrifying realities about love and loss. I carried cancer’s memory with me throughout childhood and into high school. I wrote my college entrance essay about my experience with cancer. Cancer got me a scholarship that paid for half of my tuition.

In college cancer’s memory softened. I could joke about it (I deal with everything through humor). I found myself telling people about how I’d come to terms with the likelihood of my own eventual battle with cancer. The idea of it didn’t seem to scare me. I had finally entered that phase of invincibility which had evaded me all throughout my teenage years.

And then Kelly found her cancer. And then she blogged about it. She was so optimistic, and I knew she would beat it. She was so young, there was just no way she wouldn’t beat it. If my mom could do it on the absolutely primitive chemotherapy she had, Kelly would definitely be fine. It would just be another mountain that she could say she had conquered, along with NYU Law School, along with passing the bar exam, along with all the incredible social activism she had done at KU, along with all the lives she had touched along the way, including my own.

And then she didn’t. And then it was all over, and all that remains now is how everyone will remember her and the shock of knowing that someone so young, so beautiful inside and out, who had such a long and bright future ahead of her is no longer here to pursue that future. It is utterly and completely devastating. There are no words that can bandage the incredible loss that those who knew her share.

And all I can think is that the Kelly I knew would want us all to take this as a spark, a motivation to do right by ourselves and this world now. To stop putting off the things that are truly important, like helping others. I remember her telling me when she was applying to NYU Law that she wanted to be a lawyer so that she could help non-profits. She was the president of KU’s Amnesty International while she was in undergrad. She was always thinking about others. Nothing she did was selfish. She would want us all to realize that life is fleeting, even now as young twenty-somethings, our days are all numbered. Spend them doing right be others. Love yourself and let that love spread outward.

Rest In Peace, Kelly. You will be missed.

-tlc

Freelancing

Several times since graduating, I’ve entertained the idea of staying at home, working remotely as a freelancer. And granted, I do freelance work already, as a social media manager and copywriter. But since finishing up on my last production job, the idillic dream bubble of a flexible freelance schedule that would allow me to work in my pajamas everyday has been burst. I am so stir crazy it’s not even funny. And when it comes to maintaining a productive schedule for my own writing and pushing my career forward (as well as applying for jobs) I’m terrible. It’s not that I’m unmotivated or disorganized, it’s simply that I’m me, and when I don’t have an endpoint, a visible or viable purpose, I don’t worry too much about impressing me, because I can’t fire myself.

I also start talking about myself as if I’m a separate entity, because clearly, staying at home has made me go crazy.

I went to lunch today with another Hollywood assistant, one a little more seasoned both in his career and life, and he made a lot of great points and had a lot of good insights about working in this industry and building a career out here. It was awesome listening to him talk about his goals and how he got to his current job, as well as about his cats. (People out here can be so quirky and I love it.) But he mentioned something in passing that really stuck with me. He said, “If  you can see yourself anywhere else, if there’s anything else you think you might want to do, go do that, but if this is what you want, if you can’t see yourself doing anything else, then you’ll do whatever it takes to get where you want to go.” Kind of a sharky thing to say, don’t you think?

He was addressing my concern at not having the thick skin required for working at an agency out here, or being an executive assistant on the development side of the industry. He made a good point; it’s not really about having a thick skin at all. It’s about choosing to have a thick skin when you need one. Hence, the above quote.

I’d like to dive into this topic more in a separate post, since I really do think it deserves its own meditation, especially coupled with the revelation my roommate once revealed to me that we each control our own emotions, ergo, no one can make you feel anything that you, yourself don’t choose to feel. But for this post, I’ll stick to the quote.

It’s funny, because a few months ago, when I was working on Instant Mom, if you had asked me if I could see myself doing anything else, I would have probably told you no, hands down, without question. After a couple months sitting at home, though, you start to forget what it feels like to have a weekly obligation. To go into a job every day and serve a purpose other than for your own individual needs. You forget what it feels like to be a part of the magic of production.

And now? I don’t know. I’m not sure what I feel. I still want to write, don’t get me wrong. But it’s hard to want something that doesn’t want you back. And maybe I’m feeling mopey, because I’ve spent too much time in the house, watching Netflix. But it’s a tough world out there. And it’s hard to navigate a life that doesn’t come with guidelines. It’s hard to find answers when you don’t even know the question.

Even if you don’t work in the entertainment industry, I’m sure many of you have crossed this bridge before. I have, and I’m really not that surprised that I somehow find myself having to cross it again. But I guess when we look back on things, this is really what makes life interesting, isn’t it? It’s the unknowns that teach us the most, and really take us to places we didn’t realize we wanted to go. If you’re going through something similar, I hope that in the meantime, you can find creative ways to keep yourself financially secure.

I know that financially and physically I’ll be okay. Emotionally and mentally are more difficult when you’re going stir crazy. I guess it’s a good thing that I live so close to theme parks and beaches. If you don’t, I highly recommend taking up knitting. It’s a life saver.

-tlc

Mac’N’Cheese…With Friends!

I’m sitting in my good friend Joel’s apartment, which used to be my cousin Willie’s and my good friend Joel’s apartment, as I try to come up with an idea for this week’s blog post. The living room seems wider now, since the big squishy couch my cousin owned isn’t here anymore. I’m sitting at a standing desk that’s operating as a dining room table, finding the rhythm of the swaying table top as both Joel and I type away at our laptops. It is truly a low-key night, and I love that.

I know, it sounds boring and uneventful. But nights such as this really floor me. Let me explain; A little over a year ago I moved out to LA, not knowing anyone–not even my cousin! And in that whirlwind of a year I have met so many people and experienced so many things, and it really pleases me to no end that I have made friends that I know well enough to literally drive over to their place, ask for their WiFi password, and then not talk to them for hours at a time.

True friendship, everybody.

I think everyone needs nights like this sometimes. I know I really needed it, having just flew back into LA yesterday from an extended vacation home, and having no current job to go to for social interaction. In what can be a really lonely city, it’s wonderful to be reminded that you aren’t alone.

It’s strange, because–even though leaving Kansas was just as hard as it always is–I no longer feel like a fish out of water here. I am finding a sense of place and belonging in this city that I haven’t experienced up to this point. Kansas has begun to feel a little foreign, with the sleepy drivers and long miles of endless prairie grass. The city sirens and the tiny Mexican man who pushes a grocery cart full of plastic bottles down my street everyday feel normal. They fit into this idea of what my neighborhood is, and it has a quiet feel of home, which is comforting.

For once, I don’t hate LA. I hope that this feeling lasts, and only continues to grow.

-tlc

Oops, I Did It Again

Can you guess where this is going? No, it has nothing to do with relationships, and no, I didn’t meet Britney Spears over the weekend.

I missed a post, AGAIN.

I’m sorry guys, but when it rains, it pours. (Unless you live in LA, and then when it rains, it’s just a few sprinkles.)

Actually, I have a very good excuse for last week’s oversight. I was on the road to South Dakota, for a last-minute, unplanned visit to see my grandmother, who has been sick and in the hospital. I even extended my trip home (I was supposed to be back in LA two days ago, but then life happened) because I wasn’t sure what the outcome of this week was going to be. But for now, it looks as though nothing is going to change, including the number of living grandparents I have.

That week sitting in the hospital got me thinking, though. How many of us actually think about death, or near-death illness at our age? It’s not an easy topic to think about. It’s heavy. Sure, we see it on TV and in the news all the time. We’re desensitized to fictional death and death on screen. I’ll admit, I’m still not sure I’ve fully aged out of the phase of feeling invincible.

But dwelling on our own, eventual, (hopefully) far-off deaths doesn’t really do us any good. Sure, there’s that well-used concept of living like you’re dying, but no one in their right mind would fully dive into that idea, when the hope is that you have several decades of future life to plan for.

**I would like to take a moment here to side-note that at this point in typing this post I had a sneezing fit, which has never happened to me before, convincing me that I am indeed allergic to death**

Instead, I spent most of the week thinking about my mother and how she dropped everything and ran to my grandmother’s bedside when my grandmother needed her most, without a second thought or care to her job, prior commitments, or responsibilities (she’s got a classroom full of animals and she instructed my dad on how to feed/take care of them after she was already on the road). This isn’t to condemn anyone who, for whatever reason, can’t do that. Even my mother acknowledged how lucky she is to have a job that will not only give her the paid time off, but also guarantee her job for up to two years, if something would keep her from going back for that long (not that they would pay her for those two years, but that’s besides the point).

But while my mom sat in there, with a real job and responsibilities on the side burner, I was the one feeling strangely anxious. I say strangely because while I’ve been between production jobs, I’ve been freelancing remotely to pay the bills. This means that as long as I have wifi, it really doesn’t matter where I am–I could do my job in Siberia if I needed/wanted to. Yet, instead of giving my full, undivided concern and attention to my loved ones sitting with me, I was anxious about the strange pull I felt towards LA, as though I needed to hurry back. Which is ridiculous. Why was I worrying about rushing back to nothing, when my grandmother was sick and needed my love right in front of me?

I think the real question we should be asking ourselves about death lies in that scenario right there. Where are our priorities, and why? If your loved one was on their deathbed tomorrow, would you drop everything–your job, your apartment, your pets–to go be with them? If it was going to take days, weeks, months, maybe years, would you stand by their side and help them through illness and/or death? Or is there something holding you back? Do you care more about your job and career than you do your loved ones? Concerned more for the health of your dog than your mom, dad, sibling, etc?

Why is that? Why do we care more about materialistic things than our families, relationships, and friendships? In Hollywood, it’s very easy to see the successful people at the top who have pushed away everyone they’ve ever loved, or who has ever loved them. And it’s even easier to see how miserable they are. And the saddest part? I see the super wealthy people in their later years and think, why? What’s the point of having all of that money when you certainly only have maybe a decade–two at most–left to live?

So, no matter where you go or what you do in life, I hope you find success. But I hope you also realize, as I did this week, that’s it’s more important to find people. So I also hope that no matter how much success you find, that you’re able to drop everything to be with your loved ones, should they ever need you.

Because money can’t buy you happiness when you’re dead.

-tlc

A Visit Home

There is nothing better than taking a break from a LA-centered life and visiting home. It’s always amazing to me to experience the juxtaposition between busy, overfilled LA and quiet, casual KC. It’s kind of terrifying at the same time, though, because all of the beauty and peace that comes with quaint KC also comes with this jarring sense of isolation. I mean, don’t get me wrong, internet works just as well here in KC (better, actually, thanks to Google Fiber) but for some reason, even the opportunities to be accessed via internet feel very far away when I am in KC, which is a strange change compared to LA’s smog-covered dumpiness and endless opportunity.

I don’t know what it is about Kansas and KC. Perhaps the physical distance between places here translates into a more psychological sense of boundaries or barriers imposed by distance? Maybe it’s simply the take-it-easy attitude with which the people in this city tend to take their lives. The heartache, the struggle, and subsequently the achievement are quieter here, somehow subdued. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

It makes me wonder every time I am in this city whether or not I would prefer it over LA. The people here certainly seem to be less self-absorbed, but then again, everyone tends to have their fickle moments. The traffic is way better, but the distance you have to drive to get from place to place means you’re on the road just as long. The people in LA are, on average, better looking (as many of them are aspiring actors/actresses) but the people in KC have a better idea of who they are and where they’re headed at a much younger age. Not to mention people out here are nicer (Midwest Manners are a real thing).

But really, the only thing I truly miss (besides my nephews) is fall. I miss the change in weather, the change of leaves, and your basic pumpkin-flavored everything as the Christmas season slowly edges closer and closer to those of us patiently waiting for Christmas music. And suddenly, when the whole choice whittles down to weather, I know that, for some unknown reason, I made the right decision in moving out to LA. I’m not sure how long that choice will be right, but it’s right for right now and I’m glad.

I sure do miss fall, though. And free parking that’s easy to find everywhere you go is nuts. This is great.

-tlc

A Secret About Dealing With People

I’m a writer by nature. I like words.

I’m not good with people.

People require talking, and the second I open my mouth, I almost invariably embarrass myself. Usually by stumbling over my words, or mispronouncing something, or commenting on a line of thought that makes sense to me, but I haven’t verbally volunteered to everyone else, thus making it appear random and unrelated to the topic.

I think faster than I can speak, which is why I like to write. Typing comes faster than speaking, and even if I don’t get everything down coherently to start with, there’s always the backspace button.

But even when I slow myself down enough to get the words out of my mouth before moving on to my next thought, my thoughts are still racing on, long after we’ve finished a topic and moved on. I find myself constantly wondering, analyzing my interactions with other people. Maybe it’s a symptom of my tendency to be a bit of a wallflower, maybe it’s just the writer in me, people watching, but I constantly find myself more or less attempting to read people’s minds. No, I don’t mean to say that I think I’m telepathic. I just spend a lot of time replaying my interactions with people, thinking about their tone of voice, word choice, and body language. Doing so has made me realize one thing about everyone I’ve ever interacted with:

Everyone hates me.

Nah, just kidding. But you would be surprised how much of unguarded human interaction can actually come across as hostile, angry, sad, upset, distant, or uninterested. And I’m sure you can see my point here–over analyzing anything is never good. We are our own worst critics, so when we remember things–unless we’re Gilderoy Lockhart–we tend to remember them with a negative spin. Add that bias to the natural relaxed tendency for people to come off as uncaring in some manner (simply because they aren’t making an expected show of positivity, affection, what not) and of course you’re going to convince yourself that the world is out to get you.

I am very guilty of having done this many, many times. After having been teased throughout childhood for being “too smiley” and then “too quirky” and then “too loud” and then “too quirky” for the second time, I developed a tendency to concern myself with whether or not I was annoying people. And then I would convince myself that I was annoying everyone, simply because a joke I made fell flat, or someone didn’t respond the way I was expecting about something I said, or I didn’t hear about something that happened when everyone else did, or I didn’t get invited to do things with certain people.

And then one day, out of the blue, someone I was totally convinced thought I was annoying invited me out with a bunch of their friends that I had never met. There was no obligation to invite me, it was a completely separate event from anything that would necessitate involving the both of us, but I was invited anyways. So I went, and it was a blast! And that got me thinking, “Why am I so hard on myself? Why did I constantly push myself away from other people?”  And the only answer I could come up with is that I was so afraid of others judging me, I was judging myself for them.

And suddenly all of the little, tiny toxic things we do–I do–to sabotage ourselves came flooding into my mind; all the put downs, and the body shaming, and the constant struggle to be absolutely perfect. And I knew it wasn’t worth it, because all of it had only brought negativity into my life, and here I was, having so much fun, feeling so positive for once, simply because someone I had assumed disliked me, actually liked me enough to want to spend their time with me.

I realized that day that trying to be telepathic (in a figurative sense) wasn’t healthy. And frankly, I wasn’t very good at it. So I decided that from that point forward, I was going to assume that everyone I meet and interact with likes me, until they let me know otherwise. And honestly? It’s actually helped me become more confident in my interactions with people. Because when you go into an interaction assuming you’ve already won the other person’s appreciation, instead of having to earn it, you start to feel a genuine kinship with that person. You want to do nice things for that person, because you realize that, more often than not, you appreciate that person without them needing to prove their worth, too.

So start believing that people like you. Because if they don’t they’ll let you know. And if they let you know, screw them. Nobody likes them, anyways.

Now let’s all go get ice cream.

-tlc

Taking A Moment

So last Thursday was my last day (for now!) as a PA at Instant Mom. In the midst of coming to terms with that and looking ahead at an open schedule, I totally forgot to post a blog. It was the first Friday that I didn’t publish a post all year. Oops. There goes my perfect record. I imagine this is how kids who have perfect attendance feel when they come down with the flu.

Okay, on to actually making a point.

I use this blog a lot to talk about change and dealing with that, especially at a volatile stage in life, like post-graduation. The funny thing is, every time I think I’ve come to terms with change, I am actually faced with that change and learn something new about the difficulties in letting go, and the dangers of nostalgia. Yes, I said dangers of nostalgia, and if you don’t believe me that nostalgia can be dangerous, just look at the slate of blockbuster films lined up for the next five years. Nostalgia, folks: killing creativity one multi-million dollar franchise at a time. (Mr. Columbus, if you’re reading this, I would happily renounce everything I’ve ever said to be a part of the Goonies sequel.)

Overall, I think it’s good to be happy, even when you know change is coming, and coming shortly–I mean, that’s the point, right? Why even bother if you’re not happy with the way things are (change them!). But my newest worry is that such a nomadic lifestyle career will make longer term commitments more difficult. I don’t know why, I just find things to worry about. It’s who I am. But it’s a valid point, if you’re used to constant change, how do you learn to trust something more stagnant or stationary? How do you continue to find excitement, year after year? Will this affect my relationships and friendships?

It’s a weird idea to cross my mind, because my career trajectory at this point (even if I never work another PA gig) is not going to find me in the bowels of an office building, typing away at a computer screen all day (the hope is to do that from home, eventually!). But it’s a valid question I have to ask myself, because how do I go from here, in LA, to something smaller, quieter, and more quaint, should the need ever arise?

Well, the truth is, I don’t know. But honestly? I know I’ll be fine because this past year has taught me to have confidence in my ability to find happiness. And I know that whatever comes next, no matter how far from what I’ve imagined, I’ll make the most of it, and it will be great, because this last year has taken me far, far out of the realm of who I thought I was, and really made me exam my fears, my goals, and what I really want out of life. Do I have answers for any of those things? Good lord, no. Do I have a sense of who I am in relation to those things? I’d like to think so. I guess we’ll both just have to wait and see.

Until next week (I won’t forget again I promise).

-tlc

The Journey Ahead

I’ve been sitting at my desk all day trying to figure out what it was that I needed to do. I had this horrible feeling that I’ve been forgetting something all week, and it finally dawned on me that in the midst of trying to stay on top of everything else, I’d totally spaced on writing this. Thank God I remembered at the last possible second.

It’s been a totally crazy two weeks. Along with wrapping up our last episode of season 3 production, we had our wrap party, I wrote three articles in one week for one of my other jobs, and I’m prepping for a labor day weekend road trip up to San Francisco with the roommates. Not to mention maintaining my other jobs (I have four total–one I do in person and three I work on remotely)  and trying to plan a short trip home for a mini vacation to see my wonderful nephews. Needless to say I’ve been busy.

But despite all of that, I had to stop and take a moment to really take in all that’s happened in the last year. Well, really, all that’s happened in the last 7 months. I’ve learned so much, transformed so much, and met so many great people that I am truly astounded. I look around at all that I’ve gotten to experience, and it’s hard now to think back to a year ago when I wasn’t sure if any of this was possible. It’s even harder to think back to a year ago and really believe that I had the courage to move in with complete strangers, in a city that I didn’t know, with no job prospects, working full time as an unpaid intern, half a nation away from my family. To this day, I’m not sure if it was pure insanity. But you know, through all of the struggles (believe me, this year has been tough) I’d do it all over again, because where it’s taken me, and what it’s shown me I’m capable of is beyond invaluable.

I don’t talk about this often, but when I was in middle school, I suffered from severe anxiety. At one point, it was so bad, I couldn’t make it through a day without bursting into tears and calling my dad, just to make sure he was still there. That was one of the toughest times of my life, and it took a long, long time for me to fully recover from that. It was so bad, I even worried that I wouldn’t be able to move away for college. In fact, a lot of people teasingly joked that I would never move that far away from home. (Granted, they had no idea what I’d been through, and how real of a fear that was for me). They simply saw how close I was to my parents, and how much family means to me, and assumed that I would never want to be more  than a few minutes’ drive from seeing my loved ones. And I’ll admit, being away from my family is absolutely the hardest part about living alone in this giant city.

But I am so grateful for my time out here. I’ve grown stronger, and I feel that my bond with my family is deeper because of my time away. I never want to take anything for granted, least of all them. I was blessed with an amazing job experience working with amazing coworkers on a great show–literally a dream come true. I could never have imagined everything I’ve been blessed with in the last year. I don’t know what I did to deserve everything that’s happened, but I am so happy that it has happened.

I don’t know what’s next. Now that the show that I’ve currently been working on is wrapping, I don’t know what the future holds. Perhaps this was the only show I was destined to work on. Perhaps I’ll have a job next week. I don’t know. But one thing I’m sure of, I can handle whatever comes next. And I’m excited to see what’s in store for my life, because I know, no matter what, I’ll make the most of it. And it’ll be fantastic.

-tlc

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.

-tlc

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?
Thanks!
Okay, so here you go:
Hi,

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.
-Tasha
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,
-tlc