Full disclosure. I am drunk-blogging at my local watering-hole, as I am pushed to the brink with Eternal Summer, always on the quest of finding air-conditioned establishments to seek refuge in (this is SURVIVAL, here, people, REAL SURVIVAL). At this current … Continue reading
Hello friends back Stateside and elsewhere, As promised, here is an extended account of my amazing Land of Oz Roadtrip in photographic form!
Friends, as you may have noticed, I have gone a bit off the grid and am currently living in a strange and glorious land. A land where bars are often referred to as hotels, where coffee is taken white, and I am … Continue reading
I would like to a moment to tell you about this incredible woman:
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:
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.
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!
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.
3.) And of course, Helen LOVED her kids. All 7 of them.
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?”
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.)
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.
5.) She loved putting you in your place. In the most hilarious, loving way possible.
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).
6.) Grandma Helen was an exceptional artist.
I think these images speak for themselves. Here are some of my faves:
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:
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.
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.
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.
I love you Grandma and I miss you so much already. Teach me to be like you. Happy 99th birthday. You won Life.
Holy moley. Did we have a year, or WHAT, Dani?!
Holy shitballs, Britt. It was crazy. What do you think was the craziest thing we did in 2013?
Start this blog, obviously.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, BLOG-MATE!!
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, TWIN-WIN!!
Today is the One Year Anniversary of Two Evil Actors, and we thought this would be a good moment to take a look back at 2013 for a little highlights tour. To get a juicy, in-depth look at the crazy shit that happened to us this year, click on the sexy pink hyperlinks. Obviously, the first stop on this tour is…
NANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yo, Britt, did you know that those were the words to the Lion King song?
Yes. Because I know ALL of the words to The Lion King. All the lines, and all of the lyrics.
Damn, dude, I’m impressed. I always thought it was “Ahhhh svegenya swuhduhgee vuhdada!!” Turns out the lyrics are Zulu for “Here comes a lion, Father.”
Of course it is.
Well. Now that THAT’S cleared up. We’ve veered off course as usual.
BACK ON TRACK, EVIL MOFOS. And now for… (drumroll please) THE YEAR 2013 IN REVIEW:
… but in a healthy, Internet kind of way.
…in a losing-my-mind, grad school kind of way. WINNING.
I came out of the closet about my secret dream to move to LA… but moved into my little brother’s frat boy basement like a real adult first.
This was MOMENTOUS for me. Now I can check my email FROM MY CELL PHONE. What will they think of next?
10 life-points earned!
Girl, that’s like 1000 life points. Truth be told, my girl was involved in too many badass projects in 2013 to even include all of them here. My sista found some great collaborators and art-ed all over the place. HELL yeah.
Apparently I had to go to grad school in order to learn how to be an adult. Just trying to whip myself into shape here, people.
Watch out, Society. Total World Domination = Imminent.
I promise you– I am not making this shit up.
There is no way I can sum up that two months of my life. All I can say is that it was incredibly life-changing.
Everything will be okay.
Ewww not really. That would be incest. But we did have a blast playing “the googlesearch game,” AKA What-the-hell-are-people-looking-for-when-they-stumble-upon-our-blog. Turns out, people google some weeeeeiiirrd shit.
And it feels so good.
I had a hard time adjusting to being back in the United States. I smoothed the transition with alcohol and had an EPIC August in Los Angeles.
I got drunk on a spaceship. Truth.
It was a weird Fall. Incorporating my experiences in India into my life in Los Angeles, Writing a one-woman show, Rehearsing a million things for grad school…. WHO AM I??
I have the time of my life working on an incredible show at Artists Repertory Theatre.
That’s right. Everything. I find out that I’m essentially allergic to wheat, corn, dairy, sesame, sunshine, and air.
We’re everybody’s favorite shitshow.
Check out that sex-machine. I got to play a boy in The Time of Your Life and act my ass off in a bunch of other stuff at USC. Confession: I kinda miss having a dick.
I’m Queen of the Urban Jungle, baby. Or–at least–the Queen of being Dirt-Ass Broke.
Wow. Between the two of us there were some super high highs, some super low lows, and just about everything in between. I have to say though, I am so proud of the resilience and strength of my Britt, because she had one topsy-turvy year. That is a lot of artistic creation and a lot of major life change for one person in one year.
And I could not be more proud of my Dani girl. Her passion, bravery, and big open heart led her halfway across the world for a quarter of a year to immerse herself in a different culture and way of life, and those same Dani qualities inspired her to create bold and beautifully honest work in her intensive program at USC in 2013. That is a lot of artistic creation and a self-discovery for one person in one year.
As for myself, it’s hard to map the subtle changes that have taken place in me over the past year, but from where I’m standing, my internal terrain has shifted drastically. I feel more honest, more myself, than I have ever felt. For better or for worse.
And from a Britt perspective, a Brittspective, this year has transformed me more than any other. It inspired me and shook me to my core. I have felt broken, I have been afraid, I have had moments of extreme clarity and have been surrounded with more love than I have ever experienced. And although I am far from having it all figured out, 2013 has made me the luckiest woman I know and I am so, so thankful.
In my opinion, we did 2013 right, even if we didn’t know what we were doing half of the time.
Yeah, that seems about right.
Let’s ride that Furry Tractor of Badassedry right into 2014.
Bring it ON 2014!!
We love you guys.
~ dani & britt
Happy holidays everyone! Sorry, had to blow my GIF load before I could focus on typing a coherent sentence.
I am writing to you from my favorite high school hangout, Bertolino’s coffeeshop (open 24/7, bitches) in my hometown, Tacoma, WA. It is rainy as balls here. My plans include sleeping, eating, binge-watching Arrested Development on Netflix, sleeping, catching up on the five issues of Variety I haven’t read, and sleeping. Also, I’ve been alone a lot with my thoughts since being home.
I have so many different homes. Los Angeles, Portland, Tacoma… I know this comes with the territory of being a post-collegiate 20-something artist vagabond, but holy WOW. Some of the thoughts I have! I swear half the time I don’t know where I am, who I am, where I am going or where I want to go, what house I’m in when I wake up in the morning and what job I am going to that day. It’s a lot. But this life is what I choose and what I want. I want to take full ownership of that.
Up until a few weeks ago, I was really homesick for Portland, but now I am homesick for Los Angeles. It’s so funny how that shifts. I was lucky enough to be able to spend a quick weekend in Portland this month to shoot an episode of Random Acts and spend some quality time with my good friend Liz. The trip was very good for my soul. I can’t remember the last time I was able to completely relax for 24 hours. It was heaven. I slept in my old room in my best friend’s house that was beautifully decorated for Christmas, I had two cats and a dog to snuggle with, there was bottomless kombucha to consume, and I got to see my brother and some of my very dearest friends. Heaven! I needed that. And when Liz drove me to the airport at 4am on a Monday in the freezing 18-degree Portland winter weather, I was ready to go back to my new home.
Let me tell you more about my new home. When we first moved in, my “room” looked like this: And here is how it looks NOW: You like those classy make-shift walls and sheet-doors we discussed last time? Yeah, I like ’em too. We’ve been busy.
I’ve been busy.
My Few Couple Weeks:
The past few weeks have been a crazy blur of work, reconnecting with friends, parties, casting workshops, and glitter. I also wrapped up my audit of the Los Angeles District Court (because I am an all-around badass) and started a new job and quit said job on the same day (because I am an all-around badass).
As noted earlier, I flew back to Portland for a weekend to shoot an episode of the PNW webseries, Random Acts and spend quality time with my dear friend Liz. I flew back to LA after the trip at the crack of dawn to get to an audition on time, which made me feel kind of awesome. Awesome and sleep-deprived.
We had our first annual “A Very Ke$ha Christmas” themed party (and our first ever party in our new home). “A Very Ke$ha Christmas”, as in, this:
to achieve this:
…but in a Christmasy sort of way. Just think of the unicorns as reindeer and the glitter as snowflakes.
It is safe to say that our sparkly extravaganza was a hit. What are the ingredients for throwing a hit LA party, you ask? Let me tell you.
1.) Decorate the house with the appropriate mix of Christmas and glitter.
2.) Craft some vaguely Christmas and Ke$ha-themed signs.
3.) Have a Suz create some installation art.
4.) Sketchily make some sangria in a cooler with the “50% off” gallon of white wine you had at the house:
5.) Make the dress code bright colors, glitter, and anything with animals on it. If a guest shows up out of dress-code, proceed to glitter-bomb them. (Thank you Suz for the use of your craft-drawer glitter stash.)
6.) When you wake up in the morning to this, you know you have succeeded.
The past few weeks also brought SoCal Christmas parades in the 78 degree heat,
and the fabulous Christmas surprise of seeing the Broadway hit, Peter and the Starcatcher (THANKS, ScoLo!!). It was incredible.
These past few weeks have left me one happy Britt girl. Merry effing xmas.
I leave you now with my Scoreboard.
love, santa, & teddy bears,
If you came here searching for some sexy gossip, I’ve gotta be up front with you. Imma be talking shit.
You know what I’m talkin’ bout, y’all. You had those big Christmas dinners last night, you had a big cup of coffee this morning… Okay I promise that I won’t spend this entire blog post talking about shit. I mean it is the Christmas season after all, but technically Christmas is over so let’s get down and dirty.
Like shit, this story begins with food. And like both food and shit, this story is deeply personal.
We are omnivores, which means we have a huuuuuge range of food to choose from. If you live in the USA, you live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world. This gives you, theoretically, even more choice when it comes to how you feed yourself to stay alive. But the weird thing about the USA is this:
- 2/3 of adults in America are overweight or obese.
- 1 in 8 adults live in a home that is food insecure. (Meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.)
In other words, America suffers simultaneously from both hunger and obesity. On a large scale. Now, I’m citing research compiled by the Food Research and Action Center, but this fact jumped off the page at me from Michael Pollan’s book almost 7 years ago because it just seemed so weird. How can so many Americans be so unhealthy? And why are people suffering at both extremes? What does that mean? How is that possible?
I am an average American, and a 90’s kid. I grew up with Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast, milk and cookies after school, and the food pyramid to guide me. This food pyramid:
Check out all those grains at the bottom. Those will come back to haunt me later. This whole thing will, actually. This is the USDA food Pyramid from 1992, when I was 3 years old. About ten years later, in beautiful, stark, sparsely populated, highly Republican Idaho, the concept of global warming will enter my young consciousness. A concept which I discover is related to food in ways I never considered. Al Gore came to speak at the Boise Pavilion, and I discovered that the American meat industry is responsible for more of our greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars and trucks on the road combined.
But for a dumbass teenager living in a land where vegetarianism is a totally foreign concept in the early 2000’s, this became the “Doritos and Coke” diet, and was both socially isolating and unhealthy. I was the weird kid at Shari’s who wouldn’t order bacon, but I was eating soy products 3 meals a day. I gave that up; broke down and got a bacon cheeseburger and wild fries at Good Times by the mall. But on my way to college, The University of Portland Honors Program handed me Michael Pollan’s book and told me to move to Portland a week early to study food sustainability. Something inside me was set on fire again, and I guzzled down information about government food subsidies, big business lobbyists, and all of the stuff that goes into making your food before you even walk through the doors of the grocery store.
I began to reprogram by brain. Food is incredibly personal, and way more emotional than food activists and fitness enthusiasts like to admit. I am passionate about the evils of industrial food, but where do I put that memory of my Grandmom emptying her pockets to buy us a big bag of cheeseburgers from McDonald’s? What do I do with the sense memory of the bacon cheeseburger my best friend bought me when I was sobbing from my first breakup? Chocolate milk that your Mom used to mix for you. Baking a Betty Crocker birthday cake from a box and then eating the leftover frosting with graham crackers. I felt like Monsanto had been bribing me with emotional currency and poisoning me with corn syrup.
By Junior year of college I had become a vegetarian again, and most of my diet consisted of home-cooked meals that my roommate and I concocted out of our CSA box, also known as Community Supported Agriculture. My friend had started a small organic farm after graduating from college, and he delivered huge boxes of beautiful organic veggies to our home once a week. My fond memories of Cap’n Crunch and Mac n’ Cheese became nothing more than fond memories, and I was the healthiest I have ever been. I still drank beer, ate grilled cheese sandwiches (Tillamook Cheddar on Dave’s Killer Bread, obviously), and ate cake when I felt like it, but I was more at peace with the way I was living on this planet.
Fast forward to Monterey, California. July 2012.
Or as I like to think of it, the month that I stopped shitting. I’ll never forget the friendships I formed, the mentorship I received, or all of the stuff I learned about improv and art. But mostly, I’ll never forget the gastrointestinal trauma that began that month and that has not stopped since.
I moved to LA and began grad school.
I forged artistic bonds and deep friendships with sweat and blood.
I stopped dating. I am a 20-something blond actress living in LA–you’d think there would be a little bit of romance in that, but it is hard to feel like putting on a dress and going to a bar when you are thinking about your own shit. Literally.
Yeah, y’all. I told you this shit was personal.
Fast forward again to India, summer of 2013.
A life-changing two months of spiritual growth and self-discovery. I rode a camel, a horse, and an elephant. I played with children in the Himilayas. I did yoga in the middle of a flash flood. And I got super, super sick. Repeatedly. My GI problems were exacerbated by the stress of traveling, eating unfamiliar foods, the vengeance of an angry god, whatever. When you don’t poop, your body starts to fill with bacteria and viruses.
I got the flu three times while I was there, and the third time ended with my host family driving me from doctor to doctor in the extremely under-served region of Ladakh, trying to get me some medical treatment. Despite being sick so much, I had an incredible trip, and I had actually canceled my return flight and bought a new one for three weeks later in order to extend my trip and see more of the country. But with a violent fever racking my body, deep circles under my eyes, and no color left in my skin, crammed in the backseat of my family’s car as we crept along the base of the Himalayas, I decided it was time to go home. I changed my flight back and returned home, my head and stomach swimming after two months of extreme paradise.
After I got back to the United States, I felt defeated. For over a year I had been trying every possible modification to my diet I could think of. I stopped eating wheat, I cut out dairy, I cut out alcohol, I tried eating meat again, and nothing seemed to help. The doctor that I saw when I got back shrugged his shoulders and referred me to a specialist, who could see me in about a month. I walked out of the doctor’s office with a referral sheet, an appointment for a month later, and a feeling of helplessness.
In India, Ayurvedic medicine is very popular. In Ayurveda, you eat foods which specifically help balance out your body, and the treatments are things like massages and colonics. The idea is to detox your body of things that you’ve had to make you sicker, and food is the medicine which keeps you healthy. It is a long term health regimen. Naturopathic medicine, which is much more common in the United States, draws from both Western Medicine and more holistic medical approaches like Ayurveda. Western medicine had shrugged its shoulders at me, so I called a Naturopath.
After a million questions and a thorough examination, the Naturopathic Doctor told me that I had a leaky gut. Ummm… gross. That sounds gross. What else is new? Basically, my intestines couldn’t absorb certain food molecules. So the rejected molecules were taking revenge on my picky intestines by slamming through the walls of my intestines and breaking into my bloodstream without permission and without being properly broken down. Then my immune system had to create antibodies to attack and break down the rogue molecules. Then the antibodies got super paranoid and just started attacking a ton of stuff in my body that didn’t actually need to be attacked. It’s called an autoimmune response. On my blood test, it shows that my body has autoimmune-levels of antibodies for Gluten, Corn, Dairy, Coffee, Hemp, Sesame, and basically all forms of joy and happiness. My gluten test looks like what it would look like if I had full-blown Celiac Disease.
At last, I knew the truth. I knew what the problem was. …And the problem? Where do I begin?
Food intolerance like the one I have develops over time. Our genetically-modified and industrially-bred wheat crops have an unnaturally high amount of gluten. This is because if the wheat you grow has a freaky amount of gluten in it, you can grow more calories per acre, and you can make more money per acre. Ultimately, this benefits not the farmers but the seed companies and the food manufacturers. The problem is that the human body has not evolved to break down gluten in that quantity. Now scroll back up to that food pyramid. Eat your wheat, 90’s kids.
And corn!! Oh my God I’m allergic to corn! Apparently, while I was watching Supersize Me and King Corn and reading Michael Pollan’s books, MY INTESTINES WERE LISTENING!! How freaky is that? Every time I ate wheat or corn my intestines were like, “No we don’t want any of that industrial bullshit” and then the wheat was all, “Fuck you, intestines, I’m gonna get into that bloodstream anyway” and then my body was like, “GTFO” and then there was an epic immune battle waged in my bloodstream.
It’s kind of amazing when I think about it. Activist intestines go on a poop strike to end industrial agriculture! Angry bowels stop pooping in protest to irresponsible farming!
…Or something like that. To cut a long story short, this journey as been a huge part of my 2013. I ended up going on an intense detox diet of ONLY VEGETABLES in the middle of my hardest semester of grad school yet. No alcohol, no caffeine, no sugar, no grains and 16-hour days of lose-your-mind acting training. I confronted a whole heap of memories and emotions tied in with food. And actually, what I discovered is that I’m a lot stronger than I think I am. I didn’t need coffee to get through the day, I just wanted it because it reminded me of a million beautiful moments and made me happy. I didn’t need a million things that I thought I needed, and in their absence I didn’t experience despair. The million beautiful memories I have tied to food didn’t just disappear when I became gluten intolerant. They are still just as visceral and beautiful and important to who I am, and now I have the opportunity to form new memories. Memories that aren’t tied to a food system that my intestines can’t handle and my heart and mind can’t get behind.
I made a large portion of the Christmas dinner last night for my family, and beside the turkey and the gravy, it was all vegan and gluten free. I told them all at the end of the meal, after belts were loosened, the stuffing was praised, and the kale was lauded. It was a beautiful meal that created lots of beautiful memories, and my family was happy to feast with me in a way that I could enjoy it with them. No one missed the butter or the wheat or the corn, and the quinoa stuffing was the first thing to get gobbled up off the plates.
Needless to say, Britt and I were active in a group text all Christmas day with our besties, and I feel the need to round out this post with a photograph that Britt was foolish enough to send to all of us. I don’t have any pictures of myself on the toilet, but I do have a picture of my twin of the toilet, and I believe it encapsulates all I’m trying to say about memories, food, touchy-feely stuff, and of course, shit.
I am in it for the long haul, baby.
Now that’s an LA attitude.
Oh man. So much to tell. It’s been a month and a half since I last wrote (seriously?!) and it’s been nearly two months since I’ve moved to The City of Angels. I’ve already lived here long enough to know that if I’m going to get any work done in this place, I have to think about the Not So Near Future. The Ten-Year Plan. The Thirty-Year Plan. The I’ll Retire When I Get My Own Theme Park Plan. The Long Haul. And I am down for it. I am so down.
…So here’s what’s UP.
Living in this city is fucking hard. I have no money, I hate the way I am making the little money I have, and my soul is craving the work I want to do but I have no idea how long it will take. That is the hard reality of this new life. In Portland, I could create all the time. Here, it’s not so easy. The community is not the same and the barriers to entry are so incredibly high. But I’m embracing this reality and the endless work and recurring self-doubt and daily falling asleep in my cubicle with the knowledge that a good work ethic, preparedness, and the ability to laugh at how utterly ridiculous my life is (and, I suppose, always has been) is my best aid for throwing myself into the deep end.
But for only two months, I gotta say–I’m doing pretty well! I got a job with a temp agency to do accounting work and am currently working on an internal audit for the LA District Court. Crazy, right? I definitely didn’t see that one coming.
I never thought I’d go back to my accounting roots so quickly, but I gave in after 2 weeks of living in LA with no idea of what to do for work. My next goal is to do this kind of work within the industry. I bet I would like accounting a lot more if I was doing it in Entertainment. And let’s be real, that paycheck would be nice.
BUT! Focus!! That is not why I am here.
This is not why I uprooted from the home I love to a scary new frontier. I had so many gut-pulls bringing me here and I am just beginning to find out what they all mean. I am finding my Self here and I fit. I am making new discoveries every day and feel a strong connection to this place and its people and all the crazy shit that comes with it. It is exhilarating.
Long haul, baby.
I know this year is going to be especially hard (how could it not be!), but this place is incredible. It has its own pulse, its own lifeforce, its own story to tell. It has a current surging through it. Everyone is questing for something. No one is idle. It is a dream for me. My favorite people on the planet live in this city and I have an incredible house in an incredible neighborhood and draw inspiration daily from everyone and everything around me. I want to become a part of this huge force that drives this whole city forward.
Alright. Enough Dear Diary-ing. You guys get it. You know what I’m about. On to the important stuff.
HOUSE!!! DANI AND I GOT A HOUSE!! And our house is awesome!!
I live with this girl:
And this guy:
And this dog:
and of course, my girl DANI!!
And we all live together in a spacious house that is ridiculously (unintentionally) hipster (that’s how you know it’s real hipster) in Echo Park. We own a bunch of street furniture, neon animal art, and lion lamps spray-painted a very”timeless teal”. We have also been known to spray-paint home décor bright pink and throw glitter on top of it. We also may be having a “Very Ke$ha Christmas” housewarming party in a couple weeks. We are an LA field trip episode of Portlandia waiting to happen.
And look at this yard! How cool is this yard?!
THERE IS A SWING AND A STAGE. I need not say more. There is nothing more to say. We win. We win everything.
We moved into our house on Halloween night, which none of us seemed to think was a bad idea. But I mean, come on, we got the keys early, so we had to…
Cut to: Britt, Dani, and Suzzane carrying a mattress up the hill to our new house, from their old house, while costumed children jumped out at us and screamed, “BOOOO!!!!”, to which we calmly respond: “We’re dressed up as boring old movers, kids, move along. There’s nothing to see here”.
Cut to: Britt Dani, and Suz moving the box spring up the same hill fifteen minutes later. Cue the same costumed children running up to us and screaming: “BOOOO!!! We said, BOOOOO!!!” Yup, you got us last time, actually, precious children. Just please, for the love of all things sugary and sweet, shut UP and stop running around the moving bed!
It is very, very hard to drag a box spring uphill in the dark when you are laughing so hard you think you might pee. God bless the little children demons.
I think that was one of the best Halloweens ever.
And for those of you who have been following along with my life, you know that I simply CANNOT live in a REAL bedroom like a normal person. I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that I live in a makeshift room with fake walls in our Hipster Mansion:
That’s right. Check out those sweet Ta-Da, These-Were-Once-Bait-And-Tackle-Diplays-But-Are-Now-Walls walls!! Dani found these suckers off Craigs List at a (you guessed it) Bait and Tackle shop in Sherman Oaks that was going out of business. Dani strapped these bad boys to the top of her car, Franca. It’s a miracle that we didn’t flip the car, die, or get pulled over. We are wizards.
Wow. I am so overwhelmed with updates for you all. I have to simply accept that this post is going to make no sense whatsoever. I will now skip to highlights for this month in LIST FASHION!
My Past Month:
I saw this show:
Starring this guy:
…THREE times. It was so good. I am in love with Pasadena Playhouse and think they should have run that show for five more weeks.
I also saw this show:
And then… there’s Dani.
Ohhhhh, Dani girl… I am so blown away with your talent and presence.
I had the exquisite pleasure of watching Dani onstage at USC twice this month. I saw her play WIllie and Ellie (yeah she played a man and then a young ingénue in the same show, no big deal) in William Saroyan’s “Time of Your Life” and watched her breathe beautiful life into a solo performance she wrote for her final project. Holy… shit. I cannot put into words what that performance did to me. Danielle Nicole Larson, you are going to bring incredible things into this world. Don’t ever stop telling stories (I know you won’t). You inspire me every day. As an artist and a human being. Thank you.
Yup, that’s right folks… the Evil Twins are back in action in the SAME CITY. Do you know what this MEANS?!
… it means we don’t have enough time to write blog posts anymore because we’re too busy hanging out with each other.
But we’ll be better about that. Stay tuned for the next Evil Twin dual post comin atcha, ANY TIME NOW. (Hint, hint, to Dani and SELF.)
I will sign-off now with a very LA Attitude thing to do: sharing my personal scoreboard. Enjoy.
Britt Keeps Score:
Number of Meetings with Agents/Managers:
Number of Bookings:
Number of Parking Tickets:
YAY NO PARKING TICKETS!! And just for that small victory, I am the master of the whole city.
I will choose to end on that note.
Love to you,
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):
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.
-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.
-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! 🙂
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.
This week also brought me some incredible beach time:
with THIS lady:
We “studied” and “did work” all day long in our sandy ocean front, beach-towel office:
…But mostly we just talked about kombucha and men. (Typical.) I could get used to days like this.
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.
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‘S IN LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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:
And helping me to work on a Swedish accent for an iconic transformation into…
Thankfully, we do not have to worry so much about learning accents for our FIRST FULL PRODUCTION AT USC…
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.
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.
❤ ❤ ❤