britt learns stuff about LA

I’ve been in this fair City of Angels now for two whole weeks.

…How do I feel, you ask?

Okay, well actually I can get on a plane and fly away, Ms. Poehler, but THAT IS BESIDE THE POINT.

The point is … I am overwhelmed in many ways, but… I love it here. I am learning so much about myself and this city, and about myself IN this city, everyday.  It’s magical.

SO! In light of my new-found Los Angelinan WISDOM, let me share with you some of the things I’ve learned about LA so far (you know, ’cause I’m totally a local now):

Bob… Bob… BOB!!

Here are the things I have learned about LA:

-One should have at least $20 worth of quarters in the glovebox or drink-holder at all times. Those good old-fashioned parking meters still exist. Y’know.. .the ones that only take quarters? The ones located by the beach you happened to go to and therefore are your only option? Yeah, those.

-Trader Joes is a way of life. If you don’t have a TJ’s in your neighborhood, there is pretty much no reason to live there.

-Everyone is beautiful here. Sometimes I just stare.

-The “Waze “app is a god-send.

-You must plan your life around street cleaning. If you happen to live in a structureless vortex like I do at this time, you’ll at least know what day of the week it is because of your street cleaning parking violation paranioa.

-People are reeeally into juice here. $12-kale-coconut-elixir-of-life juice. I’m not against it. It’s just… give me twelve dollars please. So I can consume it.

-LA Parking signs make the SAT feel like cake.

are you fucking KIDDING me?

 -People wear long-sleeves/pants/winter-wear when it is 75 degrees outside. I was really proud of myself when I wore my denim jacket over a tank-top in 73 degree weather the other day. (…See?! I’m a LOCAL.)

-There are more parking patrol cops here than there are purse dogs. I know this is hard to believe.

-Every coffeeshop in Los Angeles has a group of actors sitting next to you bitching about their auditions and agents and acting classes. Or bitching about their lack of these things.  -I am pleasantly surprised at how walk-able certain neighborhoods are.

-More often than not, traffic is traffic for no reason. Was there an accident? No. Was there a stalled-car on the highway? Nope. It’s just right-of-passage to spend an hour on the onramp to the 110. “That’s the only way it’s fair to everyone,” says the Universe.

-In the desk-job hunt, telling a potential employer that you’re an actor is not too far away from telling her that you’re a leper-werewolf-umemployable crazy person. Perhaps you should work at In-N-Out instead.

-I don’t get how everyone has so much money… and I have none. It simply makes no sense. -I found these fun things on the Interwebs that tell me all about the Best Restaurants in LA, LA Neighborhood Stereotypes, and Things People Say About LA (my favorite: “Los Angeles is like San Diego’s older, uglier sister that has herpes.”), so now I feel like I know everything.

-LA is Serendipity. I have had many serendipitous encounters and experiences so far and it fuels my belief in this place. LA is a current. You can fight against it or you can go with it. And in my limited experience so far, “going with it” is really the only sustainable choice. And going with this current makes for a very exciting ride.

Here are the things I have learned about myself, in LA:

-I am very very white and one day I will be a different, tanner shade of white.

– I fucking love my neighborhood. Silverlake is DA BOMB. I claim it in the name of REAL (Portland) hipsters. (I will show them the way.) -Going on Facebook makes me feel incredibly homesick. 

-I would die without a smartphone and GPS on said smartphone.

-I have been sneezing and breaking-out like a mofo since I got here. I’ve been told this is normal. I guess this poor little Northwesterner is having trouble adjusting to the air quality!

-I need to watch more TV. Seriously. It’s my job now.

-I don’t know how I went through this much life without a Bluetooth.

-Oddly enough, I’ve been doing more hiking here in LA than I did in the Pacific Northwest. I guess I took it all for granted…?

– I love the street art here. There is so much to look at, everywhere. From the most beautiful, intricate mural, to harsh graffiti, to a simple doodle of a robot on the sidewalk– there are so many stories being told. I want to document more of my discoveries as I find them. photo4photo8

-I need a separate allowance for coffee. And for gas. And for parking.

-Some nights I will experience an overwhelming low or anxiety, then experience a day-long high upon waking the next morning.

-I can roll with it.

-I have my team. It is so essential to know that people have your back. I am so lucky to have my team here. You know who you are. I am so incredibly grateful for you.

But mostly, I have learned that this whole adventure is about me finding myself here. Finding myself in Los Angeles, getting to know myself in a scary new place. Being calm and clear in the midst of all this crazy. Yes, I’ve had freak-outs and breakdowns and “WHAT AM I DOING”s. Yes, I will continue to. But more so, I have moments of extreme clarity and purpose and know that I am where I need to be. I am fortunate enough to live a life full of big, beautiful love, even in a brand-new place. And that is pretty awesome.

You know what else is awesome?! WHAT I DID THIS WEEK! 🙂

My Week:

Much of this week was spent job hunting (and I got one! Thanks, Accountemps, Los Angeles!), reconnecting with friends in the area, and spending quality time with my TEAM (once again, you know who you are and I love you!). I am also constantly basking in the utter joy of knowing that I am living in the same city as Dani (come November 1st, Dani, Suzzane and I will have our own place TOGETHER!). Holy. Crap. So rad!!

I also got to visit my family! My mom, dad, and brother spent this past week in Palm Springs for vacation, which is only two hours away from where I live. I drove out last Wednesday and stayed for a day and a half for some for some good, quality FAM TIME.

The drive to Palm Springs from LA

The drive to Palm Springs from LA

Our backyard!

Our backyard!

Sibs.

Sibs.

A beautiful desert flower that Dad and I spent time admiring together.

Beautiful desert flowers that Dad and I spent time admiring together.

This week also brought me some incredible beach time:

photo7

livin large with matching pedicures.

with THIS lady:

the SUZ!!

the SUZ!!

We “studied” and “did work” all day long in our sandy ocean front, beach-towel office:

Productivity at its finest.

Productivity at its finest.

…But mostly we just talked about kombucha and men. (Typical.) I could get used to days like this.

I’ve also been doin’ a lot of hikin’! I have gone with Scott and Gertie the Puggle a couple of times to Elysian Park and went on my first hike up to the Griffith Park Observatory with Mr. Tim True:

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Leave it to a couple of Portland kids…

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…to hike in LA on a gray day.

I also saw American Werewolf in London screened at The Hollwood Forever Cemetery on the night of a full moooon! Ahhroooo!! I went with Scott and Suzzane and it was awesome.

photo5The event is called Cinespia and it is my favorite thing that I have experienced in LA so far. They even had Elijah Wood DJ-ing the event, because why not?! It was so cool. Let’s do it again.

Whew! So.

I have been in LA for two weeks now. I’m surviving. I’m having fun. I’m getting work done. I think I’ve earned the overpriced juice that I’m going buy myself after I finish this post.

I keep finding places here feel like home; pockets of the city that feel like mine. Sometimes it’s a new-to-me bar, a friend’s living room, or a familiar coffeeshop that I had visited before the move here.

One of these places is a coffeeshop Suzzane and I frequent called Mornings Nights in Silverlake.

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When I was getting work done there yesterday, I noticed that I was sitting between an advertisement that says “you belong here” and a sign hanging above the door says “welcome home”. I took a big breath and exhaled. I felt really happy in that moment.

I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks here will bring.

All of my love to you, my friends, I so adore you.

~britt

dani’s poppin’ bottles (of kombucha)

BRITT‘S IN LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GABLAGFROMYGAHWHAHOWSWEETBABYJESUSGLABBOLDAFLAIMSOHAPPYYYYYYYYYY

I don’t know how I’m going to write this blog post.  I think I’m going to have to communicate only in gifs.  Because after MONTHS and MONTHS of excitement and buildup and anticipation my very favoritest Britt and bestie and soul sister in the entire universe of everything that exists is OFFICIALLY LIVING IN LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

There are truly no words.  I would like to say that since Britt arrived we have been doing nothing but lying on the beach, running around like two Tasmanian devils, and partying like it’s 1999.  After all, if you have ever been to a dive bar with me and Britt you know that we will play Miley Cyrus on the jukebox, laugh like hyenas, and piss off the regulars until the sun comes up or we get kicked out of the bar.  Especially if we are also in the company of Suz, whom you met in Britt‘s last post.  There is some sort of chemical thing that happens when we are all together that makes my blood turn into liquid neon and makes us all a little crazed in the best possible way.  

Summer 2013: Britt helps Suz make the roadtrip to LA, prior to her own big move in October.

Summer 2013: Britt helps Suz make the roadtrip to LA, prior to her own big move in October.

But with Suz at USC for her Master’s in Social Work and me at USC for my Master’s in Acting, smack dab in the middle of Fall Semester, grad school has completely eaten our lives.  EATEN THEM.  So instead of being like this:

We are more like this:

image

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about it.  The first day that Britt and I spent together in LA we wanted to be poppin’ bottles and livin’ it up, but we were in coffeeshops and juice bars with our noses in laptops and books, trying to get our lives together.  Truth be told, we probably spent more time pouring our souls out to one another than doing actual work, but it was amazing just to be together and share the truth of our lives with each other.  And right now the truth is WORK.  This girl truly is family to me, and that means sharing the stressful times and the fun times.  With Britt making a huge move and with me in the throes of grad school, maybe it was a little overly hopeful to think that our days would be nothing but sunshine and rainbows.  My girl brings some major light into my life, but unfortunately I still have a cubic shit-ton of work to do.  

And what is the truth of my life right now?  What the hell am I doing all day?

My Life:  Year 2 in Grad School

Bein' a bimbo.  Complete with duck-face.

Bein’ a bimbo. Complete with duck-face.

Physical transformation.  Movement class with David Bridel is 4 hours a week of pure FUN.  Since the beginning of the semester I have worn (literally) a dozen masks, and transformed into a cranky old man, a sweet old lady from Rhode Island, a Bakersfield Bimbo (see above), and a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot.  For the rest of the semester, I am working on Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, in which I will get to hate my husband and ruin a few people’s lives.  You know, like you do.

Steph Schroyer improvising a Victorian gown on her model, Amaka.

Steph Schroyer improvising a Victorian gown on her model, Amaka.

Choking on Chekhov.  In our “Space and Movement” class, we are delving into the late 19th century Russian plays of Mr. Anton Chekhov, and it is completely fascinating and difficult to me.  Chekhov is known for telling stories that require you to completely read between the lines in order to know what the hell is going on, which makes it perfect for a class focused on how you use space and movement to tell a story.  If you can’t say what you’re thinking, how does that thought communicate through your body?  Between that challenge and the challenge of immersing myself in a world that existed 120 years ago, this is one of my hardest classes.  

photo (17)

Playing with stuffed animals.  Those things in the middle of my class are “phonetic pillows” and they are in the shape of the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet.  We have been doing all kinds of fun activities with these fuzzy little guys, and they are helping us learn accents in Voice class.  I am pretty much a big, giant child.  It’s great.  It’s also been helping us to get down New York accents for a black box/studio version of this play:

Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets (Original production @ the Group Theater)

And helping me to work on a Swedish accent for an iconic transformation into…

The inimitable Greta Garbo

Thankfully, we do not have to worry so much about learning accents for our FIRST FULL PRODUCTION AT USC…

photo 1 (1)

Directed by our fearless leader Andrew Borba, looking directorial in the middle there.

Time of Your Life, by William Saroyan. Set in 1939 San Francisco, this Pulitzer-Prize winning play is born of the Great Depression and seething with social unrest seen bubbling under the surface of the people seeking solace at Nick’s Pacific Street Saloon, Restaurant, and Entertainment Palace.  The whole play takes place in a bar by the waterfront, and people come and go, bringing their troubles and joys with them.  This is the only show we are doing this semester that is fully produced (set, costumes, etc.), and it runs November 21-24 at the Scene Dock Theater.  

After that show closes, we will get to focus on our other big project of the semester, Solo Performance.  All semester we are working with Luis Alfaro to write our own one-person plays.  Let me tell you, if getting through year 1 of grad school together wasn’t enough to bond my class, or if the requirement of spending 13 hours a day together this year wasn’t enough, we have been brought together by Luis Alfaro’s class.  This man fearlessly plunges into the deepest darkest places and he accepts no less from his students.  All semester he has been encouraging us to write the story that we need to write, not the story that we want to write, and I have learned so much about the incredible people I spend my days with by hearing their stories.  We are going to have a stunning night of Solo pieces by the end of this semester.  

Last but not least, there is film class over at the School of Cinematic Arts: “The Art of Collaboration” with John Rubinstein and Eugene Lazarev.  We’ve been working with directors in the MFA Film Directing program to explore the relationship between actors and directors in film, and we’ve created some pretty rad projects.  We are screening all of them tonight, and hopefully I can post a little something for you guys soon.

THAT’S IT!

whew.

So although what I want to be doing is partying down with my Britt and/or writing sweet blogs about all the stuff going on, I just get to do the things.  All of the things.  I am exhausted, exhilarated, consumed, focused, determined.  Some days I feel completely overwhelmed and under-rested and unable to bring myself fully to the work.  But by the same token, I get to imaginatively explore all these different worlds and all these different facets of humanity every day, which makes me one lucky actor.  And when I am lying on top of my bed on a Sunday evening, trying to find the motivation to get up and prepare for another week of grueling 13-16 hour days, I find myself in the snuggly embrace of my best friends, the muses that inspire me every single day to take the road less traveled and do the work necessary to get there.  And it is totally worth it. 

Reunited, and it feels so good.

Reunited, and it feels so good.

❤ ❤ ❤

Dani

britt goes from The Big Meal to The Big Move

Well, my friends, I made it. I am alive and well, living in Los Angeles!!

Exactly one week ago I drove from Portland, Oregon all the way to Los Angeles, California. I did it. I finally DID it. Holy shit. I used to live here: Portland%20skyline%207%20from%20Eastbank%20Esplanade And now I live HERE: hw Well, actually, I live here: new hood

Welcome.

This is Silverlake. It is pretty much the best neighborhood in this whole sunny smoggy place. It is a hip, mustached, tattooed, coffee-addicted, food-centric paradise. It is walkable, bike-able, and almost completely fueled by yoga, booze, and raw foods juices. Okay, so it’s pretty much like Portland in SoCal… so obviously it feels like home. I suppose you can take the girl outta Portland, but you can’t take the Portland…

…you get the idea.

Anyway.

Looking back on my life a week ago–and letting everything truly sink-in with where I am now, both geographically and mentally/emotionally– I realize what an incredible thing I just did. And also what a potentially stupid thing I just did. But mostly… what an incredibly AWESOME thing I just did. So yeah.

A week ago I packed everything I own into my Hundai Elantra. Anything that didn’t fit, didn’t come with me. I took my clothes, my books, my computer, my guitar, my ukulele, some miscellaneous bedroom décor and sentimental items, and my embarrassingly small “LA Move Nest-Egg”  (I will disclose the actual amount to you after I have achieved some small amount of success and/or stability) and left town the day after The Big Meal closed at Artists Repertory Theatre. I wouldn’t allow myself much time to think about it–I had to go. It was time; this was the time I had planned to leave.

So I did it. I drove away the very next morning. It was the farthest I’d driven alone in my car and the whole drive was very meditative and powerful. I didn’t get too tired. A vast array of emotions and adrenaline would check-in with me every two minutes to be sure I was wide-awake. I was thrilled to make a new home in a big new place and give myself permission to be the person I’ve always wanted to be. I was proud of myself for making the bold change. I was melancholy to close a show I loved with people I now consider family. I was excited to see my best friends Suz and Dani, happy to be caravanning down with Scott, worried I’d be making a mistake of leaving Portland at the wrong time, uncertain as to how and where and with whom I’d be making my new life, and afraid of doing it all wrong. I was forgiving of myself and mistakes I have made. I allowed myself to feel many different uncomfortable and often contradictory feelings and acknowledge them, so they could pass by. 

In this way, the 14 + hour drive was this odd cleansing process for me. I didn’t expect that. I thought I would listen to NPR and a crap-ton of podcasts during the long drive–as one is want to do–but ended up listening to music and having thought-conversations with myself the whole way. Music was my constant companion  on the journey and helped me allow my thoughts to run. My heart was heavy yet happy, and my chest was light and buzzing.

When I drove into Los Angeles city limits on the second day of the journey, the song “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities came on my ipod:

And when I drove off of the exit into Silverlake, my new home, the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros came on:

Yup. That is when I started tearing up. I was so overwhelmed in that moment–after the long drive, after a year of planning and dreaming and fearing that I’d back out at the last minute, after countless people questioning why I’d want to made a move like this and never really having a good enough answer for them, I made it. I am here. Through moving in with a bunch of college boys, surviving a house fire, living through a cancer-scare, experiencing epic broke-dom, and dealing with countless auto issues, I made it. I had dreamed of making this move since undergrad and I was never quite sure if I had the balls to do it. But I grew balls. Great big lady balls. And I made some moderately irresponsible/risky/okay-I-guess-I’m-moving-another-couple-rungs-down-the-adult-ladder decisions. But I stick by those decisions. And I am proud of them. I am so proud of me.

My Past Few Weeks

The past six weeks my life revolved around the run of The Big Meal, a show very dear to me. Writing about my experience working on this show feels very daunting because it is so significant to me in a way I can’t quite articulate. All I can say is that it was exactly what it needed to be, at exactly the right time. I am so thankful for such a joyful, love-filled, challenging, life-changing experience.  I miss it already.

I also had an epic going away party at The Blue Monk (a bar central to my social life, linked mostly to my Theatre Vertigo days) the Thursday evening before my departure:

Liz, Shane, and Me being a pirate. Thank you Liz for capturing this moment of pure insanity.

Liz, Shane, and Me being a pirate. Thank you Liz for capturing this moment of pure insanity.

I was humbled by the amount of people that showed up and wish that I would have taken more pictures. I drank lots of hot-toddies and gave lots of hugs. By the end of the night I was a happy weepy mess and felt like the most-loved girl in the world. I am going to miss my Portland family more than anything.

The Sunday that followed was the closing of The Big Meal. We had a matinee and an evening show and had an incredible cast party at our usual spot, Cassidy’s. I laughed until I peed, multiple times, that night. Let’s just say, shit got REAL.

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We partied and packed late into the night. Well, at least Scott and I did. The next day, on Monday morning, Mr. Scott Lowell and I fueled up our cars, pulled out our walkie-talkies, at hit the open road with a Puggle for our two-day, 14-hour drive from Portland to Los Angeles.

Legit.

Legit.

We had many fun adventures along the way. Most notably, time spent in beautiful autumnal Ashland, OR, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival:

photo4Sadly, we didn’t have time to stay and see shows, but we did make time for enjoying good sushi, letting Gertie the Puggle tour-guide us through beautiful Lithia Park,

gertie lithia park

…and still had time for me to climb shit like a spider monkey.

And what a vision-quest it all was.

But now.. NOW! I am in Los Angeles!! Since being in LA, I’ve been living in three places (2 in Silverlake, 1 in Echo Park), because, as we all know, I am a freaking vagabond. Aside from scattering my belongings and my person at Dani/Suz’s and Scott’s house, I have been fortunate enough to house-sit in Echo Park for my dear friends Stephen and Marina. I get to hang out with their cat Chance in this cool place:

photo3And yes, in many ways I am still living out of my car (my shoes and all of my accessories, among other things, are still packed very tetris-like in my trunk, so the final phase of My-Getting-Ready-for-the-Day-Routine is to sit inside my trunk and complete my outfit), but I have only a couple weeks left of vagabonding around the ‘hood until I get to live with my two best friends in our new house in Silverlake!!

I started to get out of the neighborhood and into the city a little bit over the last couple days. Here is some photographic evidence of me hanging out with some of my new friends I made at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum:

OMG, Dinos!

OMG, Dinos!

OMG, elephants!!

OMG, elephants!!

…Like a boss.

Scott and I went to see a friend’s show site-specific to the museum and it made for a pretty fantastic evening. Seeing my first live thing in this city got me both pumped and depressed– it evoked both a call to action and a paralyzing fear of not knowing what to do next–or first.

But I forget. I’ve been in this city for a WEEK. I think I need to calm the fuck down a little bit. I have done so much and come so far. I will solidify the job/cash-flow thing. I will have my own space soon. I will seek representation. I WILL GO TO THE BEACH.

See?! Look at how happy I am!!

See?! Look at how happy I am!!

Everything will fall into place. My mom once made me repeat the mantra, “I am calm, I am confident, I am strong”. Yes, yes, yes. Let go of the stress you accumulated for yourself in the Pacific NW and let yourself be calm amidst the crazy of this city. This is my own check-in.

And that extra vitamin D sure does’t hurt.

So… remember when I first made the public proclaimation that I was moving? A lot has happened since then. And I could not be more proud.

Also, let us not forget one of the most important parts of this post… the very BEST thing about this move and the impetus for doing so in the first place is…

Because of THIS GIRL.

my D

My Dani. The best friend and sister a girl could possibly have.

That’s right, folks. The Two Evil Actors are reunited once more. And it has, is, and will continue to be the most GLORIOUS thing ever. photo (2)

And I have ALSO been reunited with our best friend Suzzane!!

suz

This is pretty much the best thing that has ever happened, EVER. And come November 1st, the three of us will be living together in a beautiful house on Waterloo Street.

Watch out world.

Love to you, my friends, thank you for all of the support you have given me in making this big step. I cannot tell you how much you all have helped propel me forward.

~britt