britt’s amazing Grandma Helen

I would like to a moment to tell you about this incredible woman:

My Grandma Helen at age 97 (2 years ago), with a really rad cat sweater.

My beautiful Grandma Helen at age 96 (3 years ago), with a really rad cat sweater. What. A. BABE.

This is my Grandma Helen Estelle Stone Smith Baespflug. She passed away on October 27th, 2014 at the incredible age of 98. My Grandma was my hero and I love her very much.

In an effort to get the whole family together (Grandma Helen had 7 children, if that gives you any idea of the amount of people we’re talking about here), the memorial was scheduled months after her passing on what would have been her 99th birthday. 

I am now on Day 18 of mono (and think I can safely say I am almost in the clear! Finally!) and luckily made my goal of getting on an airplane last Friday to attend the memorial over the weekend in Tacoma, WA, with the added bonus of having my dear parents nurse me back to health. As much as I wouldn’t let the worry enter my head (I can really only take things one moment at a time since this virus has been plaguing me for what seems like years), I knew that I ran the risk of the stress of air-travel pushing me back a few spaces.

I guess it did.

To my utter heartbreak, I was unable to attend Grandma’s funeral the day after I arrived in Tacoma. I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain in my throat and ears. I couldn’t swallow without gagging and experiencing searing pain in my tonsils. It was clear that I needed to seek medical attention ASAP and spent the rest of the day doing so with my dad. It turns out that I had a bacterial infection on top of my mono (gotta collect ’em all!), which obviously sucks, but the good news is that antibiotics WORK. So I’m on the mend. But I didn’t get to celebrate Grandma’s life with my family members that traveled from near and far to be together. I wasn’t able to be there for my mom in the way I wanted and needed to be. This was really hard for me and I am very sad about that.

So. I’ve been spending the day journaling, remembering, talking with my mom, going through pictures… trying to make the most of this time. It feels nice.

Here are some beautiful photos I (re)discovered at my parents’ house:

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One of my favorite photos of my Grandma and my Grandpa Martin. (Cameo by Mono Britt.)

No, actually -- THIS ONE.

I also love this one. 🙂

I wanted to take this time, during my own time of reflection, to share with you, my friends, my thoughts and memories of Helen. Cause she was so, SO awesome. And you would all love her.

Here are things you need to know about my Grandma:

1.) She LOVED to dance.

My mom told me that she and my Grandpa would go out dancing every week until Grandpa passed. They were incredible.

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My Grandma also made these outfits. More on that later!

I also remember Grandma dipping my cousin Michael on the dance floor on his own wedding day (she must have been 93 or 94 at the time) because she wanted to see the young whipper-snappers “dance correctly”. So she strutted up to the dance floor, literally took the lead, forcefully spun Michael around and dipped him. She bowed, turned around on a dime and strutted back to the seated area as the next lady came up to dance with Michael. Classic Helen. You minx!

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Grandma with Michael at yet another wedding (my cousin Michelle’s, Michael’s sister), surely reminding him to step-up his dance-step game.

2.) She LOVED my Grandpa Martin.

My Grandpa was one of the sweetest, gentlest men in existence. I love hearing my mom talk about him. He raised 6 girls (and 1 boy), so I’m pretty sure that automatically makes you a saint. He fought in World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart. He passed away my freshman year of high school. 

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What a stud, right? His eyes always seemed to smile.

An beautiful etching Grandma drew of Grandpa.

An beautiful etching Grandma drew of Grandpa. (c) Helen Baespflug

3.) And of course, Helen LOVED her kids. All 7 of them.

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So, this isn’t ALLL of the kids, but you get the idea. I HAVE A CUTE FAMILY.

4.) She was sarcastic and witty as hell. 

This is one of my favorite Helen stories.

After I broke off an engagement post-college (that’s another long story we’ll get into at a later date, okay kids?), my Grandma had some pretty snarky (read as: “spot-on”) things to say to me:

Helen: “Brittney. What is your favorite thing to drink these days?”

Britt: “I don’t know… Coffee. Purple Gatorade? Tea, I guess.”

Helen: “Are you sure it’s not booze?”

Britt: *Sigh*

Helen: *Hysterical laughter*

Britt: “…okay, yeah.”

Not much longer after that, mid-conversation on (hopefully) a different matter, Grandma stops mid-sentence with a gasp to admire the many rings I was wearing. She quickly scanned my left ring-finger, noted that it was bare and unadorned, then slyly looked up at me. 

Helen: “…So. That’s the scary one, huh?” (She says, totally dead-pan. This kind of delivery was her specialty.)

Britt: “….yeup.”

Helen: “You wanna stay away from that one, don’t you.”

Britt: (awkardly) “Oohhh yeah.”

Then, I’m pretty sure, we got up to get wine after that.

Helen: 2, Britt: 0

Well played, Grandma, well played.

Grandma straight-up stole my glasses from me for this whole day (pictured here). She liked them, so she stole them off my head. Truth be told, she wore them better.

Grandma straight-up stole my glasses from me for this whole day (pictured here). She liked them, so she stole them right off my head. Truth be told, she wore them better.

5.) She loved putting you in your place. In the most hilarious, loving way possible.

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Grandma at work, putting my cousins in their place during this Fam Photo. Get ’em, Gramma.

I remember I came over to Grandma’s house with a friend in middle-school, early high-school, maybe, and she had strong opinions about us not entering the house until she was done tidying up. I insisted that “it’s FINE, Gramma, we really don’t care”, and barged my way through the front door. The 90-pound, 80-something-year-old woman forcefully, physically, pushed us back out the front door until she was ready for us to come back in. Which was literally like… 60 seconds later (during which time she opened the door as if for the first time seeing us that day, greeting us with a sweet Granny smile). 

See?! Goofball Granny smile. What is not to love?

See?! Goofball Granny smile. What is not to love?

6.) Grandma Helen was an exceptional artist.

I think these images speak for themselves. Here are some of my faves:

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(c) Helen Baespflug

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(c) Helen Baespflug

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(c) Helen Baespflug

7.) Grandma Helen should have been a famous costume designer in the Hollywood. (Refer back to #6 — you see what I’m talking about?!)

My mom, aunts, and uncle were all in different incarnations of bands in their youth. Grandma made ALL of their costumes, and there were always new costumes for different sets within a given show. According to my mother, Grandma Helen would make up to 20 costumes per show. I mean, WOW.

So check THIS out:

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This is the band “Baespflug”. My Grandma made these outfits in all of their Epic Badassedry. Pictured here: my aunt Valerie (left), my mom (top), my aunt Shelby (right), and my aunt Christie (bottom). Wicked.

My mom brought some gorgeous pieces back for me from the memorial that my Grandma made. I wanted you to see what they looked like on a person — not on a hanger — so you could see these pieces in their full glory. But unfortunately for you, this means that you get Super Mono Girl as your model. Ohhhh BABY. Enjoy.

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This one stole my heart. My Grandma is a genius.

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Can you believe she DESIGNED and MADE these?!?!

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They are all so different, all so brilliant.

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LOOK at this cute little flapper dress!! This one is my favorite, I think.

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And I want you to take note of the beautiful detail on this dress — I love the neckpiece. Sheer brilliance, Grandma, sheer brilliance. 🙂

Not to mention, Grandma made all of the girls’ prom dresses in high school! She also made my mom’s wedding dress (and I believe all, or at least most, of my aunts’ wedding dresses). Dayum.

8.) Grandma Helen was the best Grandma ever.

I have so many fond memories of playing the day away at her house and in the large backyard with my cousins. My memories come in little snippets here in there; something strange or simple will jog my memory randomly. For example, I remember I was really obsessed with this bird book that Grandma had. I was just thinking about this the other day for some reason. I was super fixated on the large Snowy Owl that graced two pages of the book in full color. I would sit on the floor of her house or on the swing outside and look that thing for what seemed like hours.

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Part of my big crazy family in Grandma’s back yard. You can spot little Britt on the bottom right-hand corner of the photo. 🙂

There are far too many memories to write about here. But I just wanted to say that her presence, her home, her humor, all of it, painted my childhood with so many beautiful and vibrant colors. 

—————

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and love one of my biggest heroes with me. This is the best way I can think of to honor her influence on my life and celebrate hers since I was not able to do so as planned this past weekend. Thank you for supporting me in sharing the things I needed to share.

Below are the last photos I had taken with my Grandma. I love them the most, I think. There is something so fun and free about them. They make me smile.

My last visit with Grandma, August 2014.

My last visit with Grandma, August 2014.

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Grandma Helen is 98 in this photo and was still cracking me up constantly.

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Rediscovering Grandma’s drawings together in a book beautifully assembled by my cousin Charisse. This was my favorite thing.

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Grandma, my bro Nate, and me. August 2014. Love you forever Grandma.

I love you Grandma and I miss you so much already. Teach me to be like you. Happy 99th birthday. You won Life.

Dani writes a letter

To the middle-aged pilot dude who I sat next to on United flight 5484 on January 6, 2015**

((**No, I was not sitting in the cockpit. Although that would’ve been rad.))

I just wanted to thank you for the awesome career advice you gave me. Because you dated an actress that one time you totally know everything there is to know about being an actor, and you were so insightful to recognize that I’m not actually a real actor. thank you Seriously, thank you so much for calling me out!  You’re totally right! You’ve never seen me on a TV show, and I am definitely not famous, so I am definitely not an actor! Why doesn’t anyone else get that?  I am a total fraud! dog in suit It was also super thoughtful of you to do this while I was trapped in a metal death cage hurtling through the air and strapped to the seat next to you, so I couldn’t escape the conversation. anigif_enhanced-18632-1411418304-1 Normally, I would tried to set you on fire, or set myself on fire, or set anything that happened to be near me on fire, but since I couldn’t take my lighter through security I was safe from that fate, and I was able to really listen to your wisdom.  panic-airplane-o Oh! And I know you were asking me about who took my headshots, because apparently your ex-girlfriend got her headshots taken by the “top photographer in LA,” so I just wanted to follow up and show you my headshot so you can either approve or disapprove of it. 

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FOR THE LOVE OF GOD APPROVE OF ME!! I NEED THE VALIDATION OF A RANDOM DUDE ON A PLANE!!

I still am not sure who the “top photographer in LA” is, because I’m 95% sure that is not a thing that exists, but this shot was taken by Daniel Scherl, who has like a super pimped out resume and stuff.  And this is just a test shot! I was just helping him test a new lighting setup! He’s like, really fucking good and stuff!  APPROVE OF ME/HIM/US!! VALIDATE ME!! airplane-sucker-punch-o No? You’re just going to punch me in the soul with all of your dumb thoughts?  Alright Mister Pilot. internal scream Hmmm now how can I prove to you that I am, in fact, an actor. I mean, you are totally right, I am not signed with CAA, the most influential agency in the universe, like your ex-girlfriend was, but I swear to you, the agency I was telling you about that was fool enough to sign me in the PacNW, Ryan Artists, is a real thing. I know you’ve never heard of them, but like, you’re a pilot, so that makes sense. They even got me a job this one time playing a nurse in a training video for a bunch of hospitals.  i-m-not-a-doctor-but-i-play-one-in-the-emergency-room-until-security-shows-up-216 AM I LEGIT YET?? Oh my God do you want to see my resume??  I acted onstage at the Lincoln Center once!  I was in theatre companies and stuff! I can sing opera! I was in “Nunsense: The Musical” when I was a teenager!  

Can I send you my taxes so you can see how poor I am too???

WHY WON’T YOU LET ME JUST SIT ON THE DAMN PLANE AND READ MY PAPERBACK IN PEACE?

WHY WON’T THIS PLANE JUST CRASH AND RELEASE ME FROM THIS HORRIBLE CONVERSATION?? anigif_enhanced-32725-1411422190-1 Britt, you were right all along. The shark is the most heroic animal in all the animal kingdom.

((Ugh. I’m lying. I WISH a giant shark had taken down that plane and put me out of my misery, but unfortunately we were flying over land, so I was out of luck.))

Well Mr. Middle-Aged-Privileged-White-Pilot-Man-With-Impeccable-Knowledge-of-the-Entertainment-Industry-and-World, stop being a dumbass No, you have never seen me on your favorite TV show. No, I don’t have $2000 headshots and a big ole fancy douchey agent. But that doesn’t mean I’m not an actor. 

You are right: baking a loaf of bread does not make you a “baker.” You can’t just wake up one morning and decide that you’re an “actor.” But once you’ve baked 10,000 loaves of bread, if you don’t have the courage to call yourself a baker, then you’re a fool. It doesn’t matter if someone hasn’t heard of your bakery. 

I’m getting my goddamn Master’s degree in acting. I’ve spent at least 10,000 hours doing it in my lifetime. No one is going to give me the validation of calling me an actor except myself, and at this point in my life I have the self-respect to do just that. I’ve had this conversation too many times with too many people, and too old And you know what?  Even if I HADN’T worked on acting for 10,000 hours, I WOULD STILL BE AN ACTOR.  There are too many people in the world like you who want to invalidate the arts as a profession for us not to call ourselves actors and artists and writers.  We don’t need your approval to be artists.  

So forgive me for prioritizing my novel over your ignorant, judgmental commentary in the guise of fatherly advice, and forgive me for doing this at the end of our flight:  cat leaving with suitcasesMaybe if your stupid airline hadn’t canceled my original flight the day before because a STUPID PILOT landed at the wrong airport or delayed our flight today by two hours because the STUPID PILOT overslept, I wouldn’t have been up since 3:30 a.m. and totally incapable of human conversation. Although human conversation doesn’t seem to be your strong suit either, so I guess that’s cool.  I hope that the next time you sit next to an actor on a plane, it’s a real actor, so you can have a real conversation.  jon hamm I mean Jon Hamm looks like he is flying mega-first-class, but still. Maybe you’ll get lucky. 

All my love, Dani

P.S. To all of those actors/artists/writers who have sat through countless conversations with people who try to devalue or invalidate what you do, or who otherwise try to make you feel like an illegitimate human, here are a few suggestions on how to avoid these conversations in the future. 

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Pretty self-explanatory. It’s hard to criticize someone who is literally on fire.

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Distract them with literally anything. A conversation about chlamydia would probably be more pleasant than what you’re currently talking about.

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Weep uncontrollably out of nowhere. Especially if they ask you, “Can you, like, cry on command?” They’ll probably be super uncomfortable when it actually happens.

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Vigorously pick your nose as they talk. If you’ve got the balls, go ahead and eat one. They will probably stop talking to you, and eating that booger will be worth ending the conversation.

And finally, I hate to use something twice in the same post but it is just too good, if you are on a plane, you can always hope that this happens:anigif_enhanced-32725-1411422190-1

Britt says, “Happy 2015 betch, you get MONO!!”

KA-BLAM! 2015! Things are going great. Your career is taking off. You’re sort of, almost, over your death-fear of airplanes. You’re in love a little bit. The RAC album is on loop in your head. You walk with swagger. You look fly as hell. Things are GOOD. 

2015 is gonna be GOOD.

Then.

FUCK YOU, BETCH!! YOU GET MONO!! BWAAHHAAAA!!!

WHAT.

Fuck.

OFF.

Mono. Mono?!?! I somehow have mono. Who even GETS mono anymore?! Is this not a middle school thing?! I’m a grown-ass woman! And, yes, thank you to Every-Person-Whom-I’ve-Ever-Told-That-I-Have-Mono, no, I’m not kissin a bunch of rando-s up in here. I know exactly where my mouth has been, thankyouforyourconcern. It’s just– AGHHHHH– how did this happen?! And could this have come at more terrible time?!

I remember saying to Dani sometime last year when I was going a million miles an hour and my life was hanging in a delicate balance of Crazy / Awesome (any given day): “Ha! You know who could never, EVER afford to get something like mono?!”

Me.

Fun fact. It took me 36 (or so) attempts to write this fucking post. Because I keep getting too tired. TOO TIRED TO LOOK AT A COMPUTER SCREEN and TYPE FOR A MINUTE. I will get through part of a sentence or a half a thought and then completely lose my will to live.

But that’s okay. I keep at it. I will finish this post purely because I’m a stubborn asshole. Persistence. I’ve got that in spades. 

….What is the point of this post exactly? How will I know when it is over? Will I ever get through the tunnel of this sick-vortex? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but all I know is that if I don’t finish this post today, THE MONO HAS WON.

But really. I feel like I’m a prisoner in my own body. I could get into the nasty, woeful details, but I feel snarky today so I’m going to take that as a good turning-point-in-my-health sign and go with it. All you need to know that this is Day 11 and this is hands-down the sickest I’ve been in my adult life. One night (Night 4, I believe), I was home alone and sincerely thought I was going to die. True story. (I didn’t.) (True story.) You also probably need to know that I’ve watched all of the episodes of Parenthood and cried into my pillow (and it SUPER hurts to cry but not as much as it hurts to eat and drink. And be idle. GodDAMN it hurts to be idle…) and called my mom practically every hour on the hour. Maybe you didn’t need to know that last bit, but there you have it anyway. Slice of patheticBrittsicklife.

I’ve been super lucky though. I have the best friends in the world. I’m fairly certain I would be dead right now if nursemaid Dani wasn’t here making me eat and taking me to the doctor and the pharmacy and writing with me and loving on me and saying encouraging things like, “you’re gonna make it, kid!”. 

I just need to get stable before I take off on another jetplane on Friday. That is my goal.

But you know what guys, you know what?! I am still making genius art whilst on my death-bed! Dani and I shot this beautiful piece starring my hand and her dino set. It confronts the complexities of universal longing and interspecies love, as well as bravely tackles the issues of diversity, ignorance, and the thread that binds us all together (love). I hope you enjoy.

There.

I hope that constitutes a “button” on the end of a barely-passable stream-of-consciousness sick post. You get what you paid for, betches. I woke up like dis. Pucker up, lemme kiss yaaa.

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Super Mono Girl, OUT.

dani talks hygiene

I started writing this post back in November about how I had totally let myself go.  homeless-guyOkay not physically.  I’m still fly as fuck, obviously.  dc382cad06c7ec531fd869acaf4ca8b6891d8ab67605c8015f00c64a2d7ae314 But damn did I let myself go mentally.  After I got back from my solo backpacking trip in August, I jumped directly into rehearsals for our thesis project, which is known at USC as the “Three Play Rep.”  Fall semester of our last year of grad school, we rehearse three plays.  January of our spring semester, we rehearse the shows in the theater, and February-March of our spring semester, we perform all three in tandem Sounds cool, right?

Except as soon as I got back to civilization and was faced with acting again I got SO HORRIBLY DEPRESSED.  I was like: this is all meaningless, art is a waste of time, my life is a pit of despair, WHY AM I DOING THIS?

GO TO ALLIE BROSH'S WEBSITE RIGHT NOW

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

And I could barely drag myself into putting in the effort of rehearsing these plays which were supposed to be the culmination of my Master’s degree. I just couldn’t figure out what the point of it was. Why bother?  Was it going to do something for humanity? For me? Was it any more real than just sitting under a fucking tree and staring at a lake?  tumblr_lz3gd4LugV1r6i3cdo1_500 So something started happening to me that often happens to people when they are bummed out. My hygiene started to slip. Only it wasn’t my physical hygiene, it was my talent hygiene.  Andrei Belgrader, one of my film professors last semester, AKA this cool cat… AndreiBelgrader--copy Said to us, “You have to maintain the hygiene and sanity of your talent.” (Go back and read that again in the voice of a 65-year-old Transylvanian chain smoker. Good. Now you’ve got it. )

Whatever “talent” is, for the sake of argument, let’s talk about talent as just a certain level of openness. Some people, like Marlon Brando for instance, were just seemingly born in this state of total openness.  You might call it “presence” or “being present” which is really just having all of your senses open and receptive, like a dog. Marlon Brando’s senses were wide open. (Go down an internet hole sometime and watch him. He’s like a fuckin’ animal with super complex thoughts, which is really what we all are except he just lets himself be. He lets the camera see him.) 

Some people, like me for instance, jut turn into an awkward monster when there is a camera pointed at them. 

1889071_10152126595503511_2057774686786487518_o DANI, WHY WOULD YOU BECOME AN ACTOR?? bd631754783a8a7a8a14ecb5cc7f6a704e0ebdcca5b042227199c15e5ac345f3 I’m not one of those people who seems to naturally thrive in the spotlight and enjoy being seen.  It takes work for me to do what I need to do to be open and available in the way that so many talented actors are. Being seen is scary, and it’s an act of courage for me every time.  If I don’t believe in what I’m doing, it’s almost impossible to muster up that courage, and my “talent” suffers. I close off. 

So Andrei was right, there is a ruthless adherence to “hygiene” that is necessary to keep moving forward. Like how you have to clip your toenails or they get long and gross and scary.  

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Ha! Made you look. That’s why they call us two EVIL actors.

For me, that hygiene involves having some sort of belief in what I’m doing. And right around November 1st, 2014 I woke up and realized I’d wasted two important months of my life not believing in anything. My voice teacher finally said to me, “You know, you can’t just sort of phone it in anymore,” and I was reminded that none of us are ever invisible, no matter what we are going through or how well we think we hide it. 

You might say it is necessary to have those times of closing off or shutting down in order to gather strength for tougher days ahead. You might say that way of thinking is purely self-destructive.  I don’t know which of those I buy more, especially now that I am looking at my final semester of grad school and wishing that the quality of my preparation had been better. 

But I’m playing Nina in “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov, and I have a line that has been stuck in my head since November 1st, 2014:

“And now I know, Kostya, I understand, finally, that in our business–acting, writing, it makes no difference–the main thing isn’t being famous, it’s not the sound of applause, it’s not what I dreamed it was. All it is is the strength to keep going, no matter what happens. You have to keep on believing. I believe and it helps. And now when I think about my vocation, I’m not afraid of life.”

And that, to me, is what it takes to maintain the hygiene of my talent. Don’t lose faith in the journey when it gets hard. 

S0 in the wise words of…. Someone-from-the-Interwebs: 

try2   XOXO,

Dani

Guess Who’s Back… BACK AGAIN.

…the Twins are Back. Tell a friend.    

January 7th, 2013. We were born. We offered you consistent radness until January 7th, 2014, Our First Birthday. Then. We disappear without a trace… trace… trace…

Which do you like better? Our obnoxiously omniscient, loud (yet attractive) voices inside your head at all times as we litter the Interwebs by spewing our lives’ details all over the frickin place?

Or the beautiful, comforting silence of our absence? 

Too bad. We are the going back to the loud option. NO ONE IS SURPRISED.

‘Sup bitches. It’s me again. Britt.

And me, Dani.

And we are Two Evil Actors.

As you may recall, in October of 2013, Britt moved to Los Angeles, and I peed my pants with excitement at her glorious arrival.  tumblr_n5h6wbwxWo1r4q7zxo4_250 And you were all thinking, “MY GOD THEY’RE IN THE SAME CITY NOW!!  IT’S A WHOLE NEW WORLD OF TWO EVIL ACTORS POSSIBILITIES!!” thatssotrue_11735_1338616849 And then we were all like… static WE WERE TOO BUSY LOVING EACH OTHER TO WRITE. AND WE’RE SORRY. 

SORRY.

But! Here’s what we’ve been doing while living together and being awesome.  

———————–

2014 in Review

This is like our Christmas card to you. Except it’s late. DEAL WITH IT.

January:

Dani fixes the garbage disposal

photo That’s right, bitches. I single-handedly took apart the sink, fixed it, and put it back together again. LIKE  A BOSS. I will never do anything ever again that makes me respect myself more. Except for right now, when I fix it again, because it’s broken again. Exactly a year later. 

Britt is unemployed for like nine-million years and plummets down a death-spiral of depression and angry clown dreams.

  …Enough said. It was a rough month. 

February:

Dani stops thinking about the apocalypse and starts thinking about a bike tour

photo 2 So, you know how when your mind wanders it tends to wander to the same thing(s) over and over again?

Yup. Like since that one time when we went to Aldo over the summer I’ve been obsessing about buying silver sparkly jelly shoes just for nostalgia. I don’t even think they are in stock anymore. Some other place might have them but it wouldn’t be the same. I want THOSE ones. They remind me of being six.

Right.

I think the point is, I think about being a kid, like, ALL the time.  And wearing jelly shoes. 

Exactly. Like that. 

Well. For the years of 2012 and 2013, which is a solid two years of my life, and I mean ALL THE TIME AND ALMOST CONSTANTLY, I was thinking about the impending violent end of human civilization as we know it.  You want to talk about dystopian literature with someone? I’M YOUR GIRL. You want to theorize about the many ways in which climate change might dramatically kill off large portions of the human population in the next 100 years? I HAVE IMAGINED THOSE SCENARIOS. It was a terrible mental habit, and yes I have a series of mostly-joking-but-really-I’ve-thought-this-through plans for surviving various scenarios, but I finally managed to break this habit! …By planning a 1500-mile bicycyle tour with a budget of $0.00 and having never done a bike tour before!

D, let’s be real. You were pretty much just finding an excuse to prepare for the apocalypse some more. But with bikes.  bicycles-post-apocalyptic-vanished My plan was to take about a month to ride the approximately 1500 miles from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles, California with my post-apocalypse partner-in-crime Sister Suz. 

(Note the bicycle tattoo)

(Note the sexy bicycle tattoo)

So instead of constantly thinking about a food shortage or water war, I spent over half of 2014 wondering if I had enough gears on my bike and learning how to at least crudely repair every moving part on my bike. I rode hundreds and hundreds of miles. I spent hours at the Bike Kitchen. Starting in February, I thought about little else besides this trip. 

Britt gets what she wished for and works a horrible corporate accounting job of death

IMG_6737  Dear world. This is not a stock image. This was the actual view when I walked outside of my building. This is not beautiful. This is suffocation. This is a Corporate Cage of Suffering. 

March:

Dani does Shakespeare’s worst play

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 11.18.17 PM Have you ever heard of “Pericles: Prince of Tyre”?  Yeah that’s because it’s a bad play.  They think that a couple of Shakespeare’s lackeys wrote it while drunk in a bar and then turned it in to Shakespeare and he was like, “What the fuuuuuu? Oh shit I don’t have time to fix this I’ll just add some pirates. Who wants shots??” 

Britt turns 27. Her Saturn returns. Which, we hear, is good.

IMG_6375IMG_3249 I’m all grown up I’m all GROWWWWN UUUPPP

April:

Dani becomes a valet

MV5BMzYwMjcwNjgxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzU1ODk1MDE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_ That’s right, I too have a menial service job. Now I’m OFFICIALLY an actor in Los Angeles. Turns out I’m really good at parallel parking. Please hire us to work your event. I’m poor. 

Britt begins tutoring

You know what’s better than being an Internal Auditor? ANYTHING. Heh. Well. Specifically: Being a TUTOR! With kids! (Mostly big kids.) This job is so much fun, you guys. I work for the coolest company around (Quantum Tutors), I have the best boss in the History of Ever (Anna Clark), and sometimes I even get free food (Seder Dinner, yo!). Not only do I get to help students feel confident about themselves and their abilities, I get to up my Geek-Status a level or two (I teach math & SAT prep, people). It’s a win-win.  Throughout the rest of 2014 I will work to try to tutor enough kids that I can leave my various accounting jobs behind. This is my quest. This is my goal.

May:

Britt flies to Portland to witness the collegiate graduation of her little Not-So-Little bro

brograd Go Pilots!! That’s TWO Harris Pilot Grads for the price of ONE! …Okay wooa wooaa that is definitely not true. UP, you made double-bank offa our tuition and infinite student loans. You’re welcome. Pilots till I die. 

Britt does an E-Cig commercial and studies with Larry Moss. Not like those should in any way be lumped together. But I’m an evil actor, biatch. I lump what I want.

Unexpected lesson #274 that I’ve learned from being an actor. It is more painful to chain smoke electronic cigarettes for a single day while shooting a commercial than it is to chain smoke real cigarettes on the set of a feature length film for multiple weeks.

Unexpected lesson #275 learned from being an actor.  If I look at a rock the wrong way I will start weeping uncontrollably.  

Drawing by Evil Genius Allie Brosh. Go to her blog right now and read all her shit. Actually finishing reading our blog and then go read her blog.

Drawing by Evil Genius Allie Brosh. Go to her blog right now and read all her shit. Actually finishing reading our blog and then go read her blog.

It turns out Antigone is a really brutal play and it will get at all of your inner Freudian tragedy. It also turns out that Larry Moss is a genius acting teacher. 

Dani and Britt witness Sister Suz graduate with an MSW in Wizardry.

IMG_6537IMG_6543   Congratulations Sister Suz! We are counting on you to change the world. Which you already are. 

June:

Dani writes her first feature-length screenplay

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 11.29.51 PM

Title page, biatch.

It’s a coming-of-age story set in rural Idaho that forces a girl and a community to confront their old, stale beliefs about race and identity.  I wrote it because I wanted to examine how racism is subtly ingrained in the majority mindset, and how microaggressions allow oppression to continue in more extreme ways. There are also jokes in it. 

Britt performs at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

p_1801_i_1783540  I worked on a parody of The Twilight Zone in which five episodes from the series were brought to life ON STAGE. There was a gremlin on the wing of an airplane, water was spat into Britt’s face, I heckled some audience members, more water was spat into Britt’s face, I wore a mask of my own face on my actual face (meta) and I just went from third person to first person twice to third person then back to first person and I’m not quite sure why. I also played a guy named Drunk Dino. He was my favorite. 

July:

Dani hikes 200 miles

DCIM100GOPRO See those two beautiful women?  That is Sammi and Jenny, and they made a pact to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail (that goes all the way from Canada to Mexico) over the course of the next 7 years. Because they are the best humans in the world, they invited me along. In less than two weeks we hiked over 200 miles, which is about half the state of Washington. On multiple occasions, I thought my feet were going to fall off, but I discovered more internal strength than I ever thought possible and formed deeper friendships with these women than I ever thought possible. It was totally life-changing. 

Britt and Dani get married (okay, Sister Liz does, but let’s avoid technicalities here).

1487895_866387051534_2029421003196335355_o In a fit of pure madness, Sister Liz included Dani and me in the group of women who would wear matching dresses and stand by her on her wedding day.  Needless to say, everyone at the wedding reception was forced to “bend over and make their knees touch their elbows” to the sultry sounds of Lil Jon in his wedding classic “Bend Ova.”

August:

Dani almost rides a bike

So by now I had rebuilt every moving part on my shitty used bike by hand with shitty used bike parts and jerry-rigged a trailer to go on the back of my bike. I had lost my travel-buddy Sister Suz to a job in Los Angeles, so I was going to do my first bike tour, 1500 miles, totally solo. (Anybody see any problems with this plan so far?) I created an instagram account called daniridesabike to document my journey. 

About to set off from Astoria, Oregon to Los Angeles, CA. #imcrazy #bikesaregreat #ladybikesladyhikes

A post shared by Danielle Larson (@daniridesabike) on

  And then, as you might expect, I had total equipment failure and was shut down before I could even really attempt it. My shitty beginners craftsmanship did not hold up to coastal winds and passing semi-trucks, and it became clear that the solo bike trip was a terrible, terrible idea. 

Whelp. All of my equipment fell apart within the first 2 miles. No more bike trip. Further adventures are TBA.

A post shared by Danielle Larson (@daniridesabike) on

Britt and Dani take a road trip

IMG_7111 Luckily, I was driving back to Los Angeles in my sweet new ride (2003 Honda Accord, bitches!) and needed a driving buddy to talk about boys with and blast Beyonce.  Dani was stuck in Portland with all her bike gear, so she hopped in. I always wanted to go to San Francisco and drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, 

and I always wanted to go on a road trip with Britt,

And we were trying to figure out the perfect song to play as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge at night with all its pretty lights. 

Except Britt‘s phone wasn’t working and time was running out. 

At the perfect moment, XO from Beyonce’s new album randomly came on and melted our brains BECAUSE WE LISTENED TO THAT SONG OBSESSIVELY AT NEW YEARS 2014. It was one of those perfect moments that is hard to describe. That song is what it feels like to be in love. 

Which we are. *Sigh*

Dani hikes 100 miles

Once our badass road trip was over, I was pretty bummed. After all of that hopeful planning and preparation, for my bike trip, I had failed. Just straight up set a goal and failed miserably. I had nothing to do for a month and my mind was starting to return to its old habit of constantly daydreaming about the apocalypse. I needed to reset. So I did the logical thing. I bought a couple maps, tossed all my backpacking gear in the trunk, and drove to Mammoth Lakes, California. I set off on an 8-day, 100-mile, solo backpacking trip in the Inyo National Forest and Yosemite back country. Just me, my gear, and all this pretty: photo (1)

Dani turns a Quarter Century OLD.

10548710_10203292730493301_4989329901981872816_o BEST BIRTHDAY EVER. We moved the couch to the backyard, had a little campfire, and drank much wine.  All of my beautiful roommates handmade me beautiful gifts, and my beautiful Britt wrote me an amazing song and made everyone at the party sing it. I also ate 5 different kinds of gluten-free baked goods. 

September:

Dani starts rehearsing her Master’s thesis, The Three Play Rep

Britt joins a social-change punk-rock band

10608504_10203380068196085_7491220549764919846_o

 Britt moves into a REEAAAAL room! After a year of living in a fake one! 

1

Before (glorified sheet room):

Apt 2

After (real room with real people walls and doors):

Apt 4

Look! I have stuff! Look at my stuff!

Okay okay so maybe these look exactly the same, but I PROMISE YOU I am a little bit more like an adult now because I have walls for walls and not sheets for walls. Also I have my own bathroom and shower and closet and kitchenette so THERE.

October:

Britt celebrates her One Year LA-Versary

oneyearLAversary This was probably the most challenging year of my life and definitely the year of the most growth.  I could not be more full of love for the people I have in my life and I’m so incredibly lucky to live under the same roof as my best friends. I win everything. 

DAMN STRAIGHT. Britt freakin’ killed it this year and fought like a badass to work towards living the life she wants to live. I could not be more proud of my girl. 

November:

Britt is self-employed. AKA Professional Life Scavenger. 

IMG_6302 Step One:  Drive to Culver City for therapy.  12 MILES

Step Two: Drive to Hollywood for a work meeting. 8 MILES

Step Three: Drive to Calabasas to tutor a student.  24 MILES

Step Four: Drive to San Pedro for rehearsal.  50 MILES 

Step Five: Drive home to Echo Park to pass out.  26 MILES

Total-Distance-Driven-in-Britt’s-Average-Day: 120 MILES

Total-Waking-Hours-Of-Britt:  17 HOURS

Total-Taylor-Swift-Jam-Sessions-in-Car: CANNOT COUNT THE NUMBER. TOO HIGH. 

Britt does a light classic Greek comedy.

Oedipus You may have heard of this hilarious romp. It’s called Oedipus the King and it involves a lot of incest and self-mutilation.  Apparently 2014 was not done making me do super brutal and Freudian Greek plays. Also, there is nothing quite like standing around outside in the rainy cold by the coast half naked and covered in body paint to teach you about commitment.  THEATRE IS HARD PEOPLE. 

December:

Dani goes to Russia

seagull Ok not actually. But I did start rehearsing a play called “The Seagull” by which is set in Russia. So in my mind I’ve been spending a lot of time in Russia. Part of the Master’s thesis. More to come on this subject… 

Britt and Dani have a very, VERY Ke$ha Chri$tma$ (again).

IMG_0628   Say what you want about us, but we can sure throw a party. Especially if it is Ke$ha and Miley themed. 

Britt is going to Slamdance

BON Slamdance A film I did in 2013, Birds of Neptune, is having its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, UT!! Holy BALLS!!! This is such a huge honor. I am so proud of my BON fam. The festival runs alongside Sundance, so we will be able to take advantage of all of the fun and badassedry that is attached to that, as well. But basically… I am freaking out. Like a little girl. SO. Excited. ————

….anything you wanna know more about? Write it in the comments and we’ll retro-actively post. Just live that shit all over again, like it’s No Big Deal.

———–

Stay tuned for a sneak peak into our 2015 Evil Plans to Take Over the World. BECAUSE WE’RE BACK Y’ALL!  BACK WITH A VENGEANCE!

HELL YEAH!  BETTER WATCH OUT WORLD, WE ARE COMING FOR YOU! WHY ARE WE YELLING?! WE SIMPLY CANNOT STOP. OR MAYBE OUR CAPS LOCK IS BROKEN AGAIN… FUCK.

FUCK. I THINK THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING, ACTUALLY. BRITT, WHY ARE WE SO POOR?

 I DON’T KNOOOOOOWW 

MUCH LOVE,  

DB