I am now on my third week of real post-grad-school life. Just kidding. It’s more like Here is the highlights reel of Dani’s life post-graduation. I was going to do a graduation post but the sweetest best friend a girl … Continue reading
So remember how after my showcase in New York I got Well that was cool. I was all like, “That’s cool Dani, you are just supposed to be in LA! Things are going to go great for you there!” Well … Continue reading
…Well, I suppose that TECHNICALLY this is my 29th trip around the sun, but Earth Culture assures me that I am 28 years of age. My Saturn is returning. And all that stuff. Planetary. Thank you, Neil.
And now, today, on this, the 4th Day of the Month of May (it rhymes!), about 7 weeks after my actual, special Friday-the-13th birthday (whoops), and about 970 weeks since my last post (sorry), here are a few things to catch you up on in the incredibly not-boring goings-on of my life:
1.) I’ve got Homes in Different Zip Codes.
Read as: “Vagabond”.
I currently reside in Park La Brea, Altadena and Echo Park (I promise you I am not joking), with pit-stops in places like Culver City, Silverlake, and Hancock Park in between. What can I say? My sterling house-sitting reputation precedes me. As a wandering artist subletting her room, I am not complaining.
2.) Continuing on with the vagabond theme: I’ve been on more airplanes this year than ever. (And I hate flying.)
… I think I’m getting better at the whole flying thing, though. I’ve got a supplement-popping, face-covering, booze-in-flight drinking system that works for me, so don’t worry about it.
‘Cuase let’s be real. I’m not flirting with that bitch mono again.
I just got back from Arizona International Film Festival in Tucson, where Birds of Neptune won the award for Best Dramatic Feature!! Holy CRAP! And if that wasn’t an honor enough, the film was also selected to screen again on the final night of the festival for the “Best of Fest” celebration. …An encore screening? Yes, please!! Thank you, Tucson! 😀
Up next on the festival trail? Mammoth Lakes Film Fest at the end of the May. Hopefully you’ll be seeing me all over the globe promoting this film. This is just the beginning! 😀
WOOOOAAAA! I am on cloud 9 from this, truly. Tucson was such a special, surreal, magical place, and this recognition is such an incredible honor.
5.) I still self-employed and loving it.
6.) Dani and I went aboard The Queen Mary to witness the marriage of our dear college friend Hillary:
…Which made me think that perhaps I should live on a boat at some point in my life. Because, COME ON.
So, basically — Two Evil Actors, the Content Creators, are stampeding your way SOON, betch!! Mark my words! FEAR US!
8.) I am writing a lot of music these days. I hope to record my stuff later this year, so I will keep you posted on that. All of this material is all super personal to me so it is SCAAAAARY. Which obviously means that I have to do it. 9.) Speaking of recording music, I had the opportunity to record music with my very talented brother for the first time in March.I was lucky enough to be in Seattle for an audition when my brother Nate and my cousin Cameron were recording the first EP for Nate’s music duo, NW Passage. (Think of Nate Harris as the Ryan Lewis to NW Passage’s Macklemore. He is a genius.) They asked me to record vocals on some of the tracks. It was SO fun.
Look! Cute photos of me and bro in the studio!
10.) STILL speaking of recording music– I have finished recording basic vocals for the first No Vanquished album! It won’t be long now ’til we release and UNLEASH this music into the world!
And I am in a constant state of reconciling this emotional and geographical dissonance.
12.) I took a few covert Portland visits this year to feed my heart.
Short and sweet and sad, it hurts me a bit to come back to Portland now. It confuses me and makes me wonder where I am supposed to be. I don’t think it will always be that way, but…. what is it they say in that one song?
Yeah, something like that.
Anyway. My heart is in Portland. Y’all knew that.
13.) Surprise, Mom! I got a new tattoo. I was born ass-first on Friday the 13th (it ALL makes sense now, right?!) and my birthday happened to fall on Friday the 13th this year. So, naturally, I needed to get a Friday the 13th tattoo.
I must note that Dani and our good friend and housemate Raisa got Friday the 13th tatts that day as well. Because we are part of a gang.
14.) I am officially the USC MFA program’s biggest stage-mom. I could not be more proud of my Dani, who recently completed her THREE SHOW REP (AND NY & LA Showcase!), each of which, I saw two times. Trust me, I would have seen these shows every night they were running if I could clone myself. This girl inspires me everyday. True to her nature and talent, Dani killed it in each show with every character she lived in, but her portrayal of Nina in The Seagull especially took my breath away.
Nina is SUCH a difficult role to nail, you guys, and it takes a REALLY gifted, insightful, brave, and effective actor to be able to play the arc of this role. It was one of the most incredible performances onstage I have ever seen and I wish I could show each and every one of you her incredible work. I feel stupid even talking about it because I can’t quite find the words to quite articulate how much I look up to my best friend and how proud of her I am.
So, I’ll just dumb-it down by saying: “YOU ARE AMAZING, DANI!!”
15.) As if the film fests I am already going to haven’t been enough, I decided to party-crash a good chunk of the Newport Beach Film Festival with my new Aussie friends that I met at the Arizona International Film Fest.
I drank a lot and ate a lot and consumed 7 s’mores at one event and had a very nice time, thank you.
Also, I felt fancy.
16.) I am really itching to travel. I hope that the stars align to grant me an international trip (or five) this year. I think the odds may be in my favor.
(Come on, come oonnnnn Birds of Neptune International Premiere..!!)
17.) I’ve decided that I really want a pet but am truly TOO VAGABONDY and poor to be a good dog or cat mom (see #1 & #2 above).
18.) SO I’ve made many new dog friends around town. (Also my ulterior motive for all of the house-sitting I do.)
21.) Okay… uhh.. god… thinking of 28 things is actually pretty hard… let’s see, um.. ….I’ve been eating a LOT of pizza lately? Like, a lot?
25.) Okay, let’s get real here for a second. Because 2EA believes in that shit.
After all, we are real humans with real feelings.
So… sigh. Okay.
Though the external evidence of this post may suggest otherwise, I have a pretty sad heart right now. For the first time in, well, ever, I am unclear of what is next. My internal compass, which is usually pretty strong, is not so strong right now. I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean or what I am supposed to do. I feel sad and scared and slightly stupid. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain and weird to talk about. Depression has been a thing. Top Tier / Grade A / Boss-Level Heartbreak has been a thing. Crippling anxiety spiral has been a thing.
And yet, here I am. Still bravely loving, still going hard at my dream, still refusing the conventional day job…
I am doing my best. I know that one day I’ll crack the happy code. One day I won’t feel so misplaced and scattered and alone-on-an-island-y.
Luckily, I have learned more about myself and what I truly want out of life during these weird heart times. I’ve had to make some really hard decisions, decisions that more often than not have left me with the exact opposite outcome of what I thought I wanted, and through this, I am learning to trust. I am learning to trust my instincts and the order of the Universe. I am learning to breathe into my decisions and into my follow-through. To tell those I love that I love them. To not expect anything back. To be vulnerable. To be a voice of reason. To be a hard-ass. To be a softy. To be what I need for myself in this moment. To acknowledge that no one and nothing is forever, yet allow myself to take comfort in the feeling that some people and some things never truly leave.
Perhaps knowing what I want has somehow made the path I travel seem more indirect or treacherous. Maybe I’ve finally realized the true challenge of committing myself 100% to living the life I want. This is not a life of allowing cop-outs and stifling my feelings and feeling obligated and beating myself up. I realize now that there is nothing more challenging (and more important) than taking care of myself and taking care of my sweet dear heart in the same way that I wish to take care of those I love. It’s no easy thing.
And let’s be real, being a human is just fucking hard.
26.) I’ve also had the feeling that this year may be the kick-off to some very important self-discovery:
I’ve discovered that I feel the most myself when I am on the move. In transit. Exploring. Adventuring. Wandering (I’m sure you’ve picked up that vibe in this post so far). This is also when I feel the most lonely.
There is still so much to discover within myself and sometimes (most of the time) that internal terrain is so rocky. I cry every time I am in an airport. Every. TIME. It’s an odd feeling: always leaving the ones I love, always coming back, this weird ping-pong sensation — but there is truly no feeling that compares to the huge hug feeling from a loved one upon arrival or departure — that pure happycryjoy or happycrylonging –that is the shit that makes me feel alive.
Sweet sweet incredible Dani threw me a surprise party the night of my birthday in March and I seriously had no idea. I felt so loved.
28.) Let me say it again: I have the very best friends in the world. We build slip-n-slides in our backyard out of trash bags, tarp, and baby oil.
In closing, so far, 28 is looking like this: A little bit scary. A lotta bit fun. I may accidentally sprain an ankle trying to get a running start down that Big Slippery Blue Tarp of Life, or belly flop in a way that fucking HURTS and knocks the wind out of me, and I may cry about it for a while, or curl up in the fetal position for a sec, but I will always get up.
And, let’s just call it like we see it, folks: Really. I don’t even take that shit off for slip-n-slides.
Thank you for reading, friends. And for your love and support in my life. You keep me going. ❤
“You know, this is what I’ve always liked about New York. These little moments on the sidewalk, smoking, thinking about your life. You can watch the buildings, you can feel the air, look at the people, sometimes meet somebody you feel like you can talk to.”
Almost exactly three years ago I was in New York, staying in Astoria, Queens, taking the N train into Manhattan, and dreaming big dreams about my future. My apartment back in Portland had been annihilated by flooding days before, so I had no home to speak of, my heart was at least half broken, and I was on my way to Colorado afterwards, another place that was not my home. I was sort of desperate but I had a sense of perpetual motion propelling me forward, so I was happy in a way, and elated by New York.
The first time I got on the N train this time around, I was watching the Manhattan skyline approach before the train plunged under the river to spit me out in the heart of Manhattan to perform my culminating USC Acting Showcase, the last project of the most transformative, important, and best three years of my life, and I couldn’t help but cry. I couldn’t stop. The deeper under the river the train carried me, the more my tears insisted on leaking out of eyes. I did not have the same shaky fear and deep insecurity that accompanied me the last time I rode this train. I was not the same person and yet I was more myself than I had ever been.
On my last day in New York, I wandered the East Village and Greenwich Village and I found myself in a quaint gluten-free Italian restaurant, a cozy sanctuary from the bitter Spring breezes where I could write and drink espresso (spiked by contraband Irish whiskey because let’s be real). New York is poetry in motion. There is something about this city, about the struggle combined with the triumphant moments that make it a transcendent place to exist.
And yet the last time I was here I yearned to stay here, to exist in the fast-paced struggle and glory. But this time, my weak-ass palm-tree-loving sunshine-basking LA blood was like “daaaaamn you’re not gonna move here right?” New York, I love you, but I also love LA. It’s the same madness but it’s more spread out. Plus in LA there is this:
I’m from the wild west and I love the wild west.
Yeah that’s right, mysterious cowboy. Life has a way of giving you exactly what you need at exactly the right moments, and I trust that I am exactly where I need to be.
After the showcase on Tuesday, I budgeted three days to be in New York to take all of the fabulous meetings and auditions I would have from all of the people who were just dying to work with me and I got…
Ah yes. That moment as an actor when your ego gets bitch-slapped and you have to just take it in stride and trust that you are still on the right path. That moment when your friends can’t hang out because of all their auditions and meetings. That moment that your friend calls you and asks for help preparing to audition for your favorite musical of all time. That moment when you try to drop your headshot off at a casting office and get rejected hard.
So what does one do in New York when one’s dreams of working here have been snatched away by the cold, quick hand of reality?
1. Hang out with these angels.
These are my hosts with the mosts offering me tequila and gluten-free cookies on my first day in New York. That blue-eyed Oregonian boy on the left is the soon-to-be-world-famous Connor Bond, a badass actor with whom I have shared the stage many times.
…Okay we also may have shared a couple shots of tequila as well. That’s a throwback to the good old college days.
Anyway, the blue-eyed Oregon boy on the right is the soon-to-be-world-famous Devin Olson, another actor extraordinaire with whom I have shared the stage many times.
That’s a college throwback to “Rumors” by Neil Simon, when I unsuccessfully tried to seduce Devin but successfully used him to make my husband jealous. Check out that hair flip y’all! Proof of my inner PIMP.
Connor and Devin live in the very same apartment shared by Devin and Sammi the last time I was in NYC.
You may recognize Sammi from my hiking adventures.
THE POINT IS that this family runs DEEP and this entire trip to New York would have been worth it just to see my boys.
2. Take yourself on baller ass solo dates.
My favorite theatre in NYC is The Public Theatre and I got to see “Buzzer,” a sexy new topical play by Tracey Scott Wilson. The play was great, and the guy sitting next to me most definitely had Tourette’s, which was a new play-going experience for me. And let me just say, it was great. We had like all the same reactions to the play but he got to have, like, BIGGER reactions. It was seriously awesome. Shout out to you, brother.
This is the view from Senza Gluten, the only gluten-free Italian restaurant I’ve ever encountered, and the place from which I wrote a lot of this post. Baller. Ass. Solo. Dates.
3. Kiss a monk on the subway.
That’s Khen Rinpoche, my host when I was in Ladakh, India two years ago. I hadn’t seen him since I was in India. And it was so nice to be reunited with him. He is just pure presence and pure love. And he loves holding hands and giving kisses. Even if you are getting on the subway and people look at you like you’re crazy. He also loves selfies.
4. Go to Happy Hour.
‘Nuff said. Who says I wasn’t taking care of business in New York?
5. Check out an awesome independent bookstore.
Look at that nerd nerding out super hard in the nerd section. #winning
6. Get drunk and ride the subway.
You guys. I have an uncanny homing device when drunk and alone in cities. It has never once failed me. Washington D.C., Amsterdam, Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles. BRING IT ON. Also I’m sure I’m not the first lady in a pretty dress to pee in an inappropriate place in New York. Am I oversharing? I promise I’m not an alcoholic.
7. See “Hand to God” on Broadway.
Okay so if you’re in New York maybe you’re all like, “Ooooo I want to see The Lion King” or “Maybe a nice Rogers and Hammerstein would be nice.” Let me just say, and pardon my French, FUCK THAT NOISE AND GO SEE “HAND TO GOD”. Sweet holy crap-monsters this was like, top-5 playgoing experiences of my life. The sheer technical mastery of the actors alone is worth it, not to mention the writing, and the subject matter, and the soulfulness of the show, and the TOTALLY UNAPOLOGETIC COMPLETELY BADASS experience. It is not for the faint of heart but like, grow a pair of ovaries and/or testicles and fly your ass to New York and go see it. It can and should change your life.
8. Write love letters to someone far away.
…Wouldn’t you like to know?
You guys. First of all I’ve gotta be up front in that I just went through a breakup and I’m in a mild pit of despair. I’m hoping it will only increase the hilarity of this blog. Second of all, … Continue reading
Word on the street is that grad school is hard. But you know what I hear is even harder than regular grad school? Med School. Now, I’m not a medical professional, but I assume that the reason for that … Continue reading
I’m listening to Brandi Carlile and crying right now. Right?? SING TO ME BRANDI!! YOU ARE MY EVERYTHING!!** I mean hell. Britt and I talk on the regular about the things that we scream-cry to in the car. Personal favorites … Continue reading
As most of you probably know, I am getting my MFA in Acting at USC and I’M FINALLY GRADUATING THIS SPRING!! I could not be more excited to be free again and have agency over my time, but the past … Continue reading
And now, for the portion of the blog where Britt and I tell you THE MOTHAFUCKIN’ FUTURE. The FUTURE, biotches. We know what you’re thinking. “Okay, 2EA is back. What the hell are they doing?” Great question. We have no … Continue reading
I started writing this post back in November about how I had totally let myself go. Okay not physically. I’m still fly as fuck, obviously. 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?
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? 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… 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.
DANI, WHY WOULD YOU BECOME AN ACTOR?? 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.
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: