dani talks compartmentalization

You guys.  Let me just say up front that this post may be kind of controversial.  Let me further explain that it all started because I was listening to a special series on NPR called “Losing Our Religion,” about the fact that less and less people in the U.S. are identifying themselves as religious.  

I know that sounds heavy, but this post has been bouncing around in my head ever since that program interviewed young people about why they were turning away from religion.  Although each of the 6 people were very different in their spiritual journeys, the language they used to talk about them was extremely similar:

They all felt fragmented.

If you look at all religions, the core spirituality is the same:  God=Love, Do no harm, Love others, Give freely, Forgive.  You can sit in any religious service and listen for those truths and you will hear them, no matter what language they are wrapped in.  Believe me, I have been to the services of over a dozen different religions, and heard those nuggets of truth in all of them.  But something happens to that core spirituality within the context of religion.  It gets analyzed, split apart, shoved into doctrine and dogma and debated until you need entire religious orders devoted to rationalizing the cracks in reason and plastering over the flaws with the justification of Faith. 

All the young people in this series were struggling with this compartmentalization.  If God doesn’t exist, does life have meaning?  If God does exist, how does science fit into it?  If God made me homosexual, why are my sexual urges automatically evil?

Every religion has 100 answers for all of these questions.  I am not inviting an open forum on these topics, because I am not whipping out my notes from 17 years of Catholic School and 3 years of Comparative Religions classes in order to engage in intense dogmatic debates about the merits and failings of each one.  In fact, I have no desire to talk about religion in that way anymore.  I will, however, pose the question:  What image pops into your mind when you think about God?  Chances are, that whether if you are from the Western world, the image is of God the Father, whether you are from a Jewish, Christian, or Muslim background.

I’m pretty sure that in this image God is smelling a fart.  If you don’t believe me, give “God” the ole’ GoogleImages search.
Let me share with you this visually pleasing quotation from an inspiring woman names Ursula K. Le Guin, one of my favorite authors, and a Portlander.  She also has a blog which she apparently uses to post pictures of her cat, but don’t let that throw you off the trail of how brilliant she is. 

LEGUIN

There is a fundamental problem with this compartmentalization.  You can’t just split the world up into mentally convenient chunks and place them in opposition to one another.  It contradicts a spiritual concept central to all religions: God-Allah-Brahma-Jesus-Yahweh = ETERNAL LOVE and God-Allah-Brahma-Jesus-Yahweh is within us, permeating everything.  When you compartmentalize the world into God/Man, self/other, man/woman, dominant/submissive, you set the world against itself.  

There is a theory in Psychology called the “Locus of Control” theory.  Basically, there is a place for each of us where we feel that the control of our lives rests.  Some people perceive that this control center is within them, some people believe that it is somewhere outside of themselves.  “People with an internal locus generally feel that they have control over their lives and circumstances; they take initiative and seek to positively change their lives. Individuals with an external locus feel that their lives are controlled by circumstances; they feel dis-empowered to do anything about their lives, leaving everything to ‘fate,'” –Christopher Zabamba

Can you see how fragmenting a personified “giant-scary-judgmental-Father-God” from humanity and setting HIM at an unreachable distance and making HIM omniscient and omnipotent over your life might create some psychological (and spiritual) distress?  Today, my dear friend Liz sent me the link to this blog post, about taking personal responsibility for your actions.  And how doing this is totally empowering and liberating.  The author isn’t even talking about religion, they’re talking about exercise!  But it’s the same fundamental concept that dividing your human experience into chunks and then acting confused when they butt up against each other DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.

Anyway, my point is that you create your own reality.  And unfortunately, reality is not particularly selective.  If you drive your car for 10,000 miles you can’t just NOT effect the ecosystem, because the reality is that you are part of the ecosystem.  If you tell a young homosexual child that he is an abomination in the eyes of God you can’t act surprised when that child grows up experiencing pain and disillusionment.   If, ohhh I dunno, I choose to drink a bunch of left-over party-beer on a Tuesday night that will also effect the reality of how I am going to feel in the morning. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY BITCHES. 

But I don’t mean to sound so harsh.  It is all part of an intensely personal journey towards allowing your spirituality to permeate your life and all of your actions. It is a choice to live consciously and eliminate some of the cognitive dissonance that allows you to do things that don’t ultimately work towards your own good, or even the greater good.  It is hard enough to be a human, and even harder to do it with intention.  We’re all in this together, y’allz.

Let me round this out with a laser-cat picture of myself in existential crisis, as usual, and Britt in a state of pure joy.  Ursula K. Le Guin, your blog would be improved with more laser-cats.

Britt&DaniMEOW

britt talks moving into her brother’s basement

That’s right people. The winds of change, they are a-blowin.

…A-blowin me straight down the rungs of the adult ladder. As I am a fully capable adult moving into a 100 sq. foot room in my 21-year-old brother’s basement.

But hey, I need to save money, a good chunk of money. And fast.

Why, you may ask?image

That’s right, I’m going on an adventure! A big, fat, I’m-Moving-to-Los-Mutha-Feckin-Angeles adventure.

I went public with this decision in my last post, and told you all that I am about to make some major changes in my life. Starting with squatting in the basement of my brother’s college house (read as: “glorified storage unit that I will use as I classily couch surf around Portland for 7 months”).  It is totally worth the $500 I’ll save each month for my big adventure. Cool, I’m in.

In theory this is a brilliant money-saving plan. But what about in reality? Will I be able to maintain my sanity? I would have to thoroughly inspect this testosterone-charged collegiate nuthouse to find out.

When I went over to examine my future “room”, I stumbled into a door laying horizontally in the dining room, fulfilling its true destiny as a beer-pong table.

“Ohh, yeah.. that’s the door to your room, I’ll put it back before you move in down there,” says dear brother.

Okay, excellent. I’m so down with that. College, whooo.

As I go downstairs, I hear:

“Uhhhh that gerbil will not be in there when you’re living in there either, so… we’ll move that.”

Sure enough, there was a caged gerbil chillin in my room among a twin-sized mattress (questionable), a stubby green couch (also questionable), at least six empty beer cans and a mason jar filled with mold and red slush, which I deduced to be moldy red wine.

There may have been a hobo squatting in that room for all I know. And honestly, I was impressed that this hobo fit all of that shit in there.

But worry not! I shall make my brother deep clean all surfaces and I shall make this tiny basement cellar my own! I will make it a shoebox of inspiration and fully realize the power I have to leave this city! I will put Every Cent I Save In Rent A Month into a savings account to move to LA! I got this!!  

…Right??

Sigh. I’m going to miss my studio apartment in inner SE Portland more than anything. It has been a sanctuary to me for the past 15 months I have been living there, with its view of the downtown Portland skyline and it’s 20 foot ceilings…double sigh. Luckily, it looks like my dear friend Suzanne will be moving into my old place, so I most likely will be spending quality time there. All things considered, it seems that this move was meant to be. I needed a way to save money fast and this situation fell in my lap in the course of a week. Thank you Universe, I’ll take it.  

And in the midst of all of this shenanigans, other artistic progress was made this week, too, friends.

My Week:

One pretty rad thing about living with my brother is that we will have lots of time to write music together. This week we focused on mapping out a plan to record music we have written. Below is a cover we did two years ago–this will give you a taste of our sound. Also, my bro makes a lot of really odd faces. Which is fun. I wish I could give you a sample of an original song we’ve written, but you’ll save to just stay tuned for that.

The whirlwind of events came at the end of the week. I had a madcap day trip to Seattle for an audition:

Seattle

Had day two for the Kodomo music video shoot where I got to play a SCIENTIST (nerd-win):Kodomo

And attended the designer run for the show The Velvet Sky that I am producing with my theatre company, Theatre Vertigo:

Velvet Sky

So as I uproot myself from my home to move into a room the size of a closet in a house full of college boys, life still chugs along around me.

Movement.

This is what is important. To move in the direction of my dreams. And sometimes that means moving into your little brother’s basement for a half of a year.

If nothing else, at the end of these 7 months I will have a pilot written about an adult woman who moves into the basement of a frat house.

After all, “Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable.” Thanks for backing me up, Twyla Tharp. This is going to be fun.

Me and my bro, Nate. What could possibly go wrong?

Me and my bro, Nate. What could possibly go wrong?

bitches get shit done

I called Dani on the road today to brainstorm what the eff we were going to write about for our Friday post. I was en route to Seattle (by way of an overnight stay in Tacoma at my parents’ house) to catch an audition first thing in the morning in the fair (rainy) Emerald City. I was not surprised to find that she was on the road too, making the trek from the USC campus back to her home in Silver Lake.

As Britt and I chatted (safely, using hands-free technology**) we laughed at the fact that we always talk while we are both in motion, because we both have a hard time NOT being in motion.  As stressful as that may sound… it’s not. We both thrive off of moderate insanity. It’s been that way for both of us since our time at The University of Portland. In fact, I believe that it’s the constant motion that moves us. 

Britt and I actually didn’t hang out a lot in college until her very last semester.  Everyone may not know this, but Britt has a B.B.A in Accounting as well as managing to major in theatre, and aside from doing shows and being artsy and whatnot, she was hired by Deloitte while she was still in school.  I double majored in Music and Drama and also nerded out in Honors and E-Scholars  We both got our jollies from 21-credit semesters and sleep deprivation, and didn’t hang out hardcore until we were working on artistic projects together.  

Let’s just say…D and I, we get stuff DONE.

At my desk job, I have this image hanging on the wall of my glamorous cubicle:

Tina, bitches

BREAKING NEWS, WORLD:

Tina & Amy, bitches

Damn, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler sure look fly in those suits… I wonder what these powerful beautiful women will get done next??

emilyelectionshirt

What’s that, Emily Schmidt? RUN FOR PRESIDENT??  My beautiful housemate in Los Angeles, who also happens to be an incredible writer and comedian, was sporting this lovely campaign t-shirt just the other day.

And I got to thinking how D and I LOVED reading this:

bossypants

And how we LOVE watching this:

Parks & Rec

…And how during our 1-5 late-night driving conversation yesterday, we gushed about our mutual love of Tina and Amy. Sigh. BeOurFriendsNowPlease

be my friends NOW

And so, as we run off to a day full of class and rehearsals and auditions, and endless driving, we can’t help but think:

Bitches. Get. Shit. Done.

**Hands free cellphone technology=Phone on speakerphone shoved into bra.

dani talks inspiration

Oh man.  Not to rub it in, Britt, my dear sweet sicky-pants, but it was like 85 degrees in Los Angeles today.  Which is up like 50 degrees from two weeks ago.

What WHAT!!! Whatup, climate change? (Don’t worry, the temperature will start dropping again soon here.)

Speaking of which, how ’bout them Obama apples??  Freaking historical–first President to give an open call to arms against climate change. AND for gay rights.  Our President–who has been criticized for being too equivocal, too mild-mannered, too ineffective, too pussyfoot, too “reasonable,”  used reason and passion in perfect balance to legitimize major important issues.  Of course, now everyone is talking about our crrrazy liberal president with his crrrrazy liberal agenda, but let’s just stop for a second and appreciate this moment shall we?

If you had been driving on I-5 South from Burbank, CA at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, January 21st, you would’ve seen a girl wearing a now-defunct Livestrong sweatshirt in a battered chevy with Idaho plates JOY-SOBBING HER BALLS OFF driving down the freeway.  Straight up you guys.  I was listening to the inauguration coverage on NPR and hearing our President speak with his old fire and passion and hope, speaking from his gut about real shit without the politician-robot-affectation that he had begun to slip into occasionally, and I was done for.  Those who know me will not be surprised to hear that I could not stop sobbing/weeping/laughing for a half-hour straight.  It was probably not a safe state of mind to be driving in.  For God’s sake you guys:  On Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2013 we swore in our first black president for his second term and he swore to serve this country on the bibles of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. King himself.  Best MLK Day EVER.  And Obama has such humility and grace about the whole thing.  Absolutely beautiful. 

I definitely did not feel like I was short on inspiration this week.  Here are some inspirational gems from the first week of acting school this semester:

  • “It will take time.  We have imagination.” –Alejandro Buceta Parron
  • “We’re removing the bullshit. It’s not a magic trick.” –David Warshofsky
  • “You don’t have to know anything.  You just have to make a decision and see what happens.”  –David Warshofsky
  • Frank Dwyer, our Textual Analysis professor, told us to go read an essay by George Orwell called “Politics and the English Language,” about when people started to use language more to obscure than to communicate.  Later that same day, our Voice teacher Natsuko said with great gravity, “I want you all to relearn how you approach language.”
  • I have to bring in a real speech given publicly to work on in my Movement class, and in my research I stumbled across this gem, a commencement speech given by Ursula K. Leguin in 1986.  Once again, imagine Dani sitting at her kitchen table weeping from inspiration.  I’m a hot mess, you guys.  Even if all you read is the quote at the very top of that link, it will be worth it, especially if you are a lady.

I wrote this in my notes last week: “It never ceases to amaze me how much this program blows my mind.  Integrative approach to humanity, Observation of self… Don’t pay attention to what a man says, pay attention to what he does.  That’s who he is. ”  Today Andy, the head of my program, hit the nail on the head when he said that being an actor is about figuring out how to be a human being, and went on to say:

Yes!!

Which brings to mind another Nike thing that is actually really inspiring to me.

You’re welcome, Nike, for the free advertising. 

Anyway, between the real world and the world of grad school, my artistic flames have been fanned with fury this week, and I am happy I get to share my week of inspiration with you, blog-o-sphere.  In order to incorporate my ramblings about Obama with my ramblings about grad school, please enjoy the following meme, starring the always-wonderful-in-everything Meryl Streep.

You’re welcome, Apple, for the free advertising.

 To Nike and Apple:  If you do choose to pay me for my services, leave a comment below and I’ll tell you where to send the check.  

//

britt talks surrender

This week has been a week of surrender.

Some weeks are periods of work, some weeks are times of triumph, or stress, or badassery… but mine? Definitely a week surrender.

This is what had kept me powering (with what power reserves I had left) through my workday:PDX cold season

That’s right. The dreaded PDX cold/flu season is upon us once again. I guess you could argue that this is the case 9-months-out-of-the-fucking-year here, but the month of January seemed to hit especially hard this time around. It’s like the plague. I’m talking about the kind of sick you want to hibernate two weeks through just to get to the other side of it.

Ultimate body shutdown can be a blessing in disguise. At least for me. It makes me forget the worries and burdens I am constantly carrying around. Later I wonder, “Really? I had to get to sick to realize that the world isn’t going to end if I don’t solve every one of my problems overnight?” That’s right. Even after shutting the daily routine down for a few days, all of that junk is there waiting for me on the other side. Right where I left it. (Epiphany!)

I am about to pull the trigger on a series of choices that will lead up to a pretty big change in how I will be living my life. That’s right people, I’m moving to Los Angeles. 

Dani recently called me out on “being in the closet” about my plans to move, and she is right– it’s time to come out. I have been going back and forth about this event for about a year now, and I would say that this strategic life move for me is, at least at this point, equal parts undeniable-gut-pull and fear. This fear has reduced me over the past few months to a small, wavering voice in my own head that I do not recognize, afraid to make a decision for the deathfear of making the wrong one. If anything will ultimately destroy me, over-thinking things will. Simultaneously however, this fear makes my gut-pull stronger, making me want to move in the scary direction even more. 

Someone once told me that fear is an indicator we are moving closer to the truth. I’ve carried this thought with me since.

I came across this recently: “There is nothing to be afraid of. The truth is the truth. You are better off knowing the truth than to not know it.” -Jack Canfield

Hmmm. That doesn’t make things sound so scary. The truth is just the truth. It is what it is.

So I guess, I am on a constant quest for truth. When things don’t feel right, I am compelled to adjust them. As an actor, this makes sense. It’s written in us–the unquenchable desire to find truth in each moment and tell stories that matter. Soooo (another epiphany!), I know that I need to find truth. My truth. My story. Not someone else’s story, or the story others want me to tell. And lately I realize I’m just scared out of my mind to make the decisions I need to make to get closer to it. This knowledge of my own truth has become a burden to me for reasons that MAKE NO SENSE. Why fight them? Let go. Surrender.

“I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” –Joan of Arc

I thought about all of this in a weird in-between-sleep-and-awake state that one seems to spend hours in while sick. Physically letting go somehow opened the door for me to mentally and emotionally let go as well. And I think in the midst of this life change and big choices, I needed that. I needed the sick time. I thank the sick time.

But I didn’t just wallow in my bed all week, NoSireeBob (though trust me, I did do a lot of that). Here is a re-cap on interesting endeavors that came my way over the past few days:

My Week Recap

I finally watched this little beauty! “Throng” is a mockumentary about the auditions process and the northwest film scene at large, produced by my friends at We’ll Fix It In Post Productions. Let’s just say you’ll see a familiar face (cough cough) make a few (slightly embarrassing) cameos. (…isn’t it normal to get asked out during a casting??)

And speaking of auditioning, this week also brought about casting sessions for my pal Amir Shirazi’s musical, “Crumbs”, that will be workshopped next month. I always find it very interesting as an actor to sit on the other side of the casting table. I think I learn more from watching 40 auditions than doing 900 of them myself.

Here is a Mr. Amir and Mr. Max Maller in action, looking oh-so-very-serious (stopitboys, immediately):

Amir & Max

And here is Mr. Andrew Bray, our fearless accompanist, making a poopy face:
Andrew…All taken with the amazing quality of my iphone. Like ya do.

But mainly… the energy of my week was spent on an intense focus of getting through my day job so I could head straight to bed and be pathetic. Don’t be fooled.

Take your vitamin C and zinc people, because at least in Portland, winter is out to get you. (Or, get sick and super hopped-up on cold meds and have life epiphanies of your own. Wheeee!!)

Until next time,

Britt

//

the beginning.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how things start. Often, if I trace a thought or conversation back far enough, I astound myself by the seemingly arbitrary moment that spurred the whole thing down a rabbit hole of crucial experience. I think about this a lot with relationships too. Like how I met Dani.

I don’t remember the first moment of meeting my best friend. I just remember, as a junior at the University of Portland, one of my comrades telling me that a rockstar freshman drama/music student was in the performing arts department now. She was beautiful. She was talented. She was outgoing. She was hilarious. She was… blond.

“It’s like… she’s you! But younger.”

Hmmm.

See, I (Dani) showed up at University of Portland and everyone kept calling me Britt because it is very easy to confuse the two of us.  I simply did not argue with the mixup, because I was totally flattered.

I didn’t know how to take that at the time. How could I? Me, a 20-year-old girl defending her drama turf? Come ON, people!! But let’s just say… it didn’t take me long to discover that this beautiful, talented, hilarious, blond… FORCE…was the other part of my very SOUL.

Dude.  I wish I could see myself through Britt’s eyes sometimes because I am SERIOUSLY not that cool.  And Britt, if you edit this out later Imma mail you a box full of poop.  Goddamnit.

Also, we have to stop jacking each other off!  Everyone already knows we’re in love! Okay, okay.

But anyway.

Nearly every moment is a beginning for something. A reason to make something, connect with someone, find a new piece of yourself.

So how did this blog begin? Let me take you down the rabbit hole, by sharing something that is relevant to the mission statement of twoevilactors in that we talk about acting career stuff.

Part 1

(Britt and Dani have a bitter bitching session over g-chat, instead of actually doing their office jobs.)

 May 17, 2012, 1:11 PM

Dani:  dude. I just went on an “audition” and I am real frustrated. it was for a commercial.

Britt:  oh gaaawwwd

don’t worry, i totally suck at those too

like… HORRIBLY.

I’m just Awkward City all over the place.

Dani: I don’t know what it is! Oh my god that makes me feel better.

It’s just YUCKY and AWKWARD

and it makes me feel so inadequate for no reason.

Britt: i feel the SAME way. seriously. every. single. time. and yet somehow, sometimes, the job works out.

Dani: It just feels like… “Why am I here? What do they want?”

Britt: what was it for?

Dani: It was for a sports commercial. I got the audition because I ski.  But they had us come in tight athletic wear and I just kept thinking that instead of looking at my yoga pants and analyzing my thigh thickness they should put me in a god damn parka and watch me ski.

Britt: HAHAHAHHA

See, I would watch THAT commercial.

Dani: lol. GAWD. thanks for listening, babe. I was SO stressed out by this nonsense.

And it paid SO WELL. And I can never get that out of my head when I’m there. “Omigod this job is for SO much money and i’m sooo broke”

Britt: oh sweetie!! i’m sorry you were stressed. I know, the money thing is really hard to get past. it will sabotage you if you’re not careful. i can’t stop thinking that any time i have a callback for guest star for a TV show or something… totally ruins it, makes me get in my head if I think about it. money sucks. being poor is pretty fun, right?

Dani: It’s just comforting to know that you have these thoughts too, you know.

Dude you and I are ALL OVER the internet right now.

Britt: I KNOW!!!

Dani: g-chat, gmail, fbook

Britt: WELCOME TO MY PRODUCTIVE WORKDAY

…IF THEY ONLY KNEW!

Dani: This is it!!!!!! Why do they pay me?

ROFL

OH my god trying so hard not to laugh at my desk

Britt: ME TOO

ROFL WAFFLES

let’s move to LA now and go to the beach

Dani: okay!

done.

Britt: sweet.

Part 2

(11 minutes later. Britt and Dani decide to start a blog and Britt returns a weird collection of items which she borrowed from Dani.)

May 17, 2012, 1:22 PM

Dani: Scroll to the bottom of this blog post and watch the video  myfavoriteandmybest.com

Britt: is this the blog you were telling me about? i’m going to follow it

Dani: It is! Oh it’s so good!

What are some of yours that you follow?

(Britt proceeds to list quite a number of blogs)

Dani: oooOOOOOOOooooooo

Britt: yaaay bloooggsss

you are so awesome to have a blog. i always think i would absolutely suck at it

Dani: Thanks man. It’d be cooler if I was more on top of it. I’ve kind of lost the sense of what my niche is.

I don’t think you would suck at it at all!  I would LOVE to read your blog!

I bet it would be hilarious.

Britt: hahaha yeaaahh…

we should have a joint LA blog when the time comes

who WOULDN’T wanna follow that shit?!

Dani: YES

Britt: hehehe

Dani: It would be badass! And soooo confusing to those who don’t know us.

Britt: YES!!

Dani: We could both be the evil twin.

Britt: ooooo love the way you think

Dani: It would probably be equal parts diabolical and inspirational.

like you. and me.

Britt: i agree

exactly

i love us. it’s dumb how much i love us.

Dani: hahahaha!!! I love this idea!!!

Britt: ME TOO!!!

oh! and don’t let me forget to give you a bunch of your crap from my apt tonight! i don’t want to forget since i will be staying in this other place all week

Dani: oh yeah!

right on.

Britt: you know… in case you need your stapler… or strainer… or boob cutlets… all of which i have…HAHA

Dani: LOL!!

I actually do need all of those things.

Simultaneously.

So I can have big tits while straining and stapling.

….that sounds like a weird porn.

Britt: HOT

million dollar idea right there

dammit D, I am supposed to be working!!

i am so bad at working…

god we are the worst

Dani: haha! yeah okay I REALLY have to work now.

Britt: ok ok me too!! talk later !! xo

——

And thus, the seed was planted. The idea was born. Two and a half months later Dani left for Los Angeles. Five months after that, we started this blog.

Yup, I love this girl.

Back at ya, strainer-tits.

//

dani talks portland vs. la

Here I am back in the big L.A. after kicking off the New Year in the hometown of my heart, Portland, Oregon.  And guess what?  IT’S COLD!  It has been in the 30’s and 40’s here for the past week and the locals are calling it a “cold snap.”  Meanwhile, I was chatting with my Mom (who lives in Idaho) and she informed me that it was 1 degree up there.  As in ONE DEGREE.  Why is that degree even hanging on?  It should just give up already. Make it a clean Zero.  Anyway, enough about Idaho!  Focus, Dani!

It was a fascinating experience being back in Portland for a week and then coming back to my new home in LA, and I’m sure that anyone who’s ever moved anywhere can relate to the complex emotions and nostalgia that come up the first time you visit old stomping grounds.  This time, though, I don’t think it was just reunions and old memories making me feel like an emotional live-wire during my trip.

There is something about the city of Portland that makes me feel alive, vibrant, driven, focused; incredibly creative and clear.  There is a rawness to it, partially because of the people–the whole “Keep Portland Weird” unapologetic, creative, go-my-own-way attitude, which is called “hipster” by many, but which can have a certain authenticity to it depending on who wears it. But mostly I think it’s because the sheer environment of Portland–the 9 months of pure gray clouds and drizzle and cold and rain–gives you something to fight against.  The sheer monotony of the weather produces the existential angst that hipsters are famous for, and the wind and rain make you want to go inside, drink a lot of beer, and come up with a lot of “really great ideas,” some of which might actually be awesome.  Like maple bacon doughnuts and arcades for grownups.

I was chatting with my USC classmate Michael about this, and he had something similar to say about New York:  “New York is a physical battle, and Los Angeles is a spiritual battle.”  Hey, Los Angeles is freakin gorgeous, despite the fact that it is slightly colder than normal at the moment.  Yes, it is a huge metro area of about 16 million people, and it has a notorious smog problem. But when you factor in fresh ocean breezes and the vast expanses of farmland around it, the air smells fresh and the city is spread out over almost 5,000 square miles.  When you consider that New York has 9 million people in 300 square miles, it makes sense that the city vibe of Los Angeles is completely different.

To be honest though, it is pretty isolating.  Los Angeles is a huge collection of little cities, and it takes conscious effort to leave your little bubble and engage with other parts of the city…or even other people, for that matter.  There’s no common enemy to rally against in LA, no constant rain or fierce snowstorms or rogue werewolves or anything.

Well, I should say that there is no OBVIOUS common enemy, because as stated, it is spiritual warfare here.  The deceptively fresh-smelling air and all that serotonin-inducing sunshine can mask or distract you from the fact that LA, like any industrial city, has major problems.  There IS a smog problem, there IS a lot of crime, there IS socioeconomic stratification, there IS racism.  All of those things, like, totally still exist, brah.*  For the first months that I was living in LA I was living in Hollywood at an intersection where the transvestite ladies of the night peddled their wares, as they say, and other shady characters liked to conduct their business.  I discovered that, on the drive to school, I could choose to drive up the road which was McDonald’s turf or the road that was Burger King turf, and either way I was driving past like 10 fast food burger joints on a 4 mile stretch of road.  Eventually, it just starts to wear on you.  This constant tension between the beautiful weather and scenery and this culturally repugnant undertone can create a kind of numbness, blurriness, ennui, or listlessness, which is a tougher enemy to fight.  Instead of a down and dirty, in-the-trenches battle, it’s spiritual guerrilla warfare.

To be honest, though, at this point in my life I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I love Portland–it is an inspiring place and I’m relieved to know that it is going strong and living the dream of the 90’s.  But living in LA is a new kind of challenge, and it feels good to be part of the mucky soup that is American life right now, in the present.  It really forces you to fight for what you believe in and how you want to live your life, because there are plenty of ways to live your life here.  There is crazy wealth and crazy poverty, crazy consumerism and crazy hippies, and like 10,000 cultures from all over the world, all smushed together in this very American, fossil-fueled city.  If you are not living your life intentionally and with conscious awareness, you will either become isolated or get swept up into something that’s not you. 

So when it comes to Portland vs. LA, there is no clear winner.  They are cities with good and bad like any other city, but the juicy part is fighting for however you want your life to be, no matter what kind of warfare you’re engaged in.  And right now I feel like I am in the right battleground.

*Insert California accent here.

~Dani

//

britt talks 2013

My girl Dani left Portland this past Monday to return to her sunny home in Silverlake. Though I am sad to see her leave, we took full advantage of our time together by packing more fun and awesomeness into one week than I thought possible. I could not imagine a better way to kick off the new year. 2013 is going to be huge, we can both feel it. My dear friend Stephen told me over coffee the other day, “2012 was a year of preparation. 2013 is a year of action”. I could not agree more. This also scares the ever-living crap out of me because it means I can’t punk out on the plans I have created for myself… and I have so many plans. So many huge, lofty, pie-in-the-sky plans.

…Which brings me to this:

Hey Britt!! Let’s have a check-in!

Okay!!

Part of my desire to write this blog, aside from being able to spend quality time with my Dani from afar and help other creative types know that they are not alone in their insanity, is to keep myself in check. To keep myself accountable. To keep moving and to never settle. To do what makes me happy, what pushes me out of my comfort zone, and what moves me closer to my dream life.

So, in brief, my personal blog entries are mainly to remind myself of this:

2 step plan

photo courtesy of http://www.yesandyes.org

SO, here’s my check in.

My Week in Art

Monday. Kicked off a new show I am producing with my theatre company entitled “Velvet Sky”. It’s going to be awesome. I am so lucky to have the creative home that I have at Theatre Vertigo. Here are some photos I snapped from the first read:

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That handsome devil in the mask is Vertigo member Andy Lee-Hillstrom, who will be playing the role of Sandman. I am already having beautiful, beautiful nightmares. More info on the show here: The Velvet Sky. That’s right, it’s going to be fucking awesome.

Tuesday. Had a shoot at the Oregon Coast for a music video. It was a million degrees below zero with a wind speed of infinity, but it was still really fun:

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My favorite thing about this shoot was exploring Fort Stevens. Everything reminded of being on a Walking Dead set (OMG zombies are awesome):

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Wednesday. I had the pleasure of catching up over drinks with the lovely people who created this animation:

…Needless to say, I laughed ’til I peed. For four hours straight.

Thursday. Pre-production meeting for my amazing friend Amir Shirazi’s musical, Crumbs, in production next month. This is us “working”:

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…when what we’re actually doing is a ukulele cover of the TLC song, “No Scrubs” for the entire bar. Cafe Side Door (aka my living room) will forever have my undying love for tolerating my antics on practically a daily basis. We’re a traveling troupe of minstrels, people!!

Friday. Had an afternoon of rehearsal for the feature film, “Birds of Neptune”, being shot in Portland next month:

Birds of Neptune promo shot

Promo shot for Birds of Neptune, (c) Reverie Films

Whew. SO yeah. I had a ton of fun this week. Thank you friends and internet world, for holding me accountable to the self acknowledgement of my progress in creating the life that I want. 😀

But let’s be real. Things aren’t all work and no play (well, a lot of what I do for work is play, but never you mind). Here are some fun things that propelled me through my week:

My Week in Inspiration

This lovely surprise that Dani left me in my apartment before she left town on Monday:

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My “spirit animal” as wall art, per Dani.

This council crest trek with my friend Stephen when the *GASP!!* sun (!!) came out:

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Portland + Sun = GLORY

Books that are currently blowing my mind:

The Creative Habit                         the chronology of water

“Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable.”  –Twyla Tharp

“I know that will well now. It’s the will of certain mothers and daughters. It comes from living in bodies that can carry life or kill it. ” –Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water

———

Aaaaaand I’m spent!

I wish you magic and fun in your week, my friends!

Much love,

Britt

//

gypsy life

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings poster

As soon as I arrived at the airport a few weeks ago and watched my housemate drive away, I felt more like myself than I’d felt in months.  My bag was packed, I had the bare essentials, and I was plunging into the adventure that is traveling.  Britt and I have talked a lot about being gypsies, and it’s certainly true that as long as I’ve known her she lives out of her car half the time, and I have moved every three months for almost two years now.

It’s true. I do use my car as a locker.

I think I’ve always had a strange desire for impermanence. Also– why does the word impermanence have such a negative connotation?! I want things to grow and move and shift and change. I think it’s awesome. And thrilling.

I agree!  Probably the first questions that people ask you when they find out you are pursuing a career in acting are, “How are you going to make money?” and “What about job stability?”  These are good questions!  But honestly, the idea of knowing what my career will look like over the next 20 years is just as terrifying to me as the prospect of instability may be for you. 

I’ve tried the whole “GetYourActTogetherYou’reAGrownUpNow” thing and it doesn’t really work for me. The parallel between “stability” and tying yourself to a single place has never made much sense to me. I’ve always found my truth in mobility.

I think I’m the same way.  I feel centered when I am in transit, my thoughts become crystallized, and I know exactly who I am and what I want. 

I don’t know if it’s something in my DNA, if my ancestors kept pushing further and further away from the cradle of human existence until they ended up in the Wild West of the United States, and now I can’t help but feel that inherited urge towards locomotion.  Or maybe  it was backpacking through seemingly endless mountain ranges with my family as a kid and feeling that our freedom was only limited by how self-sufficient we could be.  And when you’re out there in isolation staring at a trillion stars you can’t help but also feel yourself in your truest, most naked form.

Romantic notions aside, this urge toward nomad-dom is one thing that has drawn me to pursue acting as a career.  The professional theater actors I know spend a lot of time on the road going from regional theater to regional theater around the country and sometimes around the world.  Film actors get to shoot all over the place.  …That’s what she said. 

That is what she said.

One of my most peaceful and self-aware moments has been in transit. In 2009 I took the train from San Diego to Irvine, CA. I spent the whole ride with my face glued to the window, drinking in every whirling landscape. I wanted to explore everything. As the sun went down outside, I wrote in my journal: “There is something so liberating in not having a plan”. I don’t know what it was about that moment, but from then on I was constantly dreaming of motion. I took this snapshot in a moment of euphoria and have not been able to get the image out of my head since:

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The more I am in motion, the more I am alive. The more I move, the more I write. The more I sing. The more I laugh. The louder I get. The more things make sense. 

I would like to leave you all with a visual of me and D’s victorious wandering moments.

Dvictorious

Dani, victorious, conquering a mountain.

oregonfail

Me, fighting like hell to get the eff out of the Oregon Coast and to someplace warm. Yes, that is a stuffed animal in my hand, (dont’ worry about it).

I can’t help but think that this desire for transience is what draws us to a creative life. And with all of these unknowns, I have to say…I’m pretty damn excited about it.  

//

We are BORN!!

Hello bloggernetsphere, I am Britt.

And I am Dani.  We are lady-gypsy-actors.  And we have things to say.

…Mostly to each other, but we hope that you will take something from our thoughts too. We are pursuing careers in a field with no roadmap. This is frightening, exhilarating, confusing, and liberating, and we are so thankful to have each other as partners in crime. We are adventurers.

Since the creative lives we have chosen have no roadmap, we hope that this blog will serve as both a survival guide and an invitation to come on this adventure with us. 

Meet my friend Britt.  She is a blond powerhouse of a woman who is simultaneously hilarious and deep, witty and crude, awkward and beautiful; a wayward wanderer and the most loyal of friends.  She’s pretty much the most charming person I’ve ever met and she is the sun that lights up my world.  Britt is currently living in Portland, Oregon and conquering the world of indie film, fearless theatre, and artistic badass-ery in the Pacific Northwest.  Check out her website at www.brittharris.com for deets on her professional life.  Check out this blog for all the juicy stuff. 

Meet my Dani. She is my beautiful chosen-sister, hero, and finisher-of-sentences. Her fearless spirit, immense talent, and infinite love for this world inspires me daily. My favorite thing about her? How she can make me laugh until I pee. My least favorite thing about her? That she lives so far away from me. Dani is currently located in Los Angeles as grad student and Resident Super Hero at USC, pursuing her MFA in Acting. She works approximately 935 hours a week and could tame a unicorn with relative ease.

Thanks for tuning in!  We look forward to sharing our adventures with you. 

With love from your new partners in crime who are both the Evil twin,

two evil actors

Jack Kerouac