I was sitting in a random little restaurant in downtown LA last night with Giddy Girlie and Mr. Giddy when it suddenly dawned on me that I had forgotten it was my ten year Los Angeles anniversary.
Ten years ago, I had packed up my car and driven cross country. 9/11 had just happened and my brother was in the Middle East somewhere. He couldn't tell me where.
That trip across country, though... I discovered Nashville and a great blues artist in this random alley filled with music clubs. I went to Graceland and touched Elvis's mic in Sun Studios. I saw my best friend Schmoogie in Oklahoma and she took me to this bar where people were riding real bulls.
I was living on my Aerobed on a friend's floor for two months and I still feel bad about all that. She had no idea what she was getting into... I was jobless in one of the worst economies. I made a couple bucks putting up "Walk for the _____ Cure" signs around town.
My college friend, Alena, who moved out with me, we found a one bedroom in Hollywood. I slept on a futon in a living room for a year.
We threw some great parties.
I was flipping through Backstage (the big audition newspaper at the time) and saw an audition for a pilot. I pulled up to the place and told myself to just turn around and go home. It was this sketchy little studio in the middle of Crenshaw. But, for whatever reason, I went in. And I got the job. The pilot didn't go anywhere, but the director was living in the guesthouse of a gal who was casting a show over at USC. It was a sitcom being overseen by the main director of Friends, Peter Bonerz, and the creator of The Jeffersons, Jay Moriarty. It was called God Help Us. We ran for four seasons and I met some of my dearest friends.
I was working at a foundation where I met this really nice gal who would become one of my best friends named Katie Thompson. I was tired of not getting cast in things and asked if she would take the second half of a one woman show I was producing. I met her best friend, soon to become another one of my best friends, Adam-Adam, as he hauled her piano up two flights of steps to the theater.
I started up a production company with my friend Stu Brumbaugh. We produced a short I wrote called Dog Days and did a couple more projects before calling it quits.
I decided that I wanted to shake up my life a bit and quit my job. Spent a spring handing out shampoo samples on street corners. Broke my hand with no health insurance. Got a new job.
I found an ad in the back of Backstage again for a sketch show with some folks from Second City Chicago.
I joined a theater company and left the theater company.
While I was there, though, I got to write and direct and discovered I really loved it. I also made two dear friends who started up a management company. They represent me to this day.
I started up x-ray school to become a Rad Tech. It was horrible. I was dying inside so badly, that I started writing a book called The Woodcutter to keep myself from bathing with toasters. Turns out a couple gals I knew wanted to write, so we would meet up on Monday nights and keep each other on track. Miss Bliss finished her comic book series which should be out soon. Trina's screenplay became Down for Life and stars Danny Glover.
At a scam of an "actors training" program, I met a gal named Princess Sarahlina. We both purchased passes to Disneyland and hung out there almost every weekend.
I got a call from a guy named Matt Braunger. You may now know him from MadTV. I knew him from those goofy sketch shows and the best space work motorcycle you've ever seen. His message (which I am HEARTBROKEN got erased - I seriously kept it for years) went something like, "I have this friend who is doing a show. They're looking for someone really trashy, and I thought of you."
And thus I was hired for Blake... da Musical
And my life was never the same again.
To this day, I'd take a bullet for any of those guys.
When the show ended, I was devastated. I started making plans to leave Los Angeles because I didn't think anything would ever be better ever again. So I started making a list of things I wanted to do before I left. If you say "You mean a Bucket List?", I'm going to punch you in the throat.
I started taking improv and sketch classes over at The Acme.
Which led to more sketch and improv classes.
And pretty soon, I was in the company.
I was being invited to act in other people's stuff and I started producing my own shows with a group we called Hair of the Mangy Dog.
The guy who played Mr. Snuffleupagus in the 1980's was going to start teaching some on camera puppetry classes at the Acme, so I signed up.
In that class, I became good friends with Erik and April. Erik started up a touring puppetry troup with us. They introduced me to the Los Angeles Puppetry Guild, where I was hired for an NBC pilot playing the head of a 20 ft. dancing dinosaur. Erik and April were kind enough to agree to do a goofy little film I had written based upon a zombie sock puppet created by Out of Character.
They also invited me to puppeteer on a pirate ship.
Meanwhile, there was this show at the Acme where you could draw a picture and they would animate it on set and improv a little comedic bit. I was getting into the blogging scene and one of the blogs I followed religiously was written by a gal named Giddy Girlie. Her husband was an inker and was giving a talk at a local library. Miss Bliss knew them in real life after a blog meetup, so we headed out to the library and I got to meet the Giddys. I invited them to this show (you know, since Mr. Giddy drew) and, rather than being terrified of strangers inviting them to strange shows in the heart of Hollywood, they said yes. Now, unbeknownst to them, I had decided they needed to meet Adam-Adam, so I invited him to the show, too. And from that point forward, we became thick as thieves.
They took me to my first comic convention... and now can't get rid of me...
They became my Scooby Crew.
And we continue to have fantastic adventures.
I quit my job. I was in a horrible car accident (sans health insurance) and couldn't remember lines anymore. I started doing stand up, thinking that if I could memorize five minutes worth of material, I could get better. Besides, it wouldn't matter if I screwed it up, since it would only be me onstage.
I couldn't find a job. I did some long term extra work on some projects that could have changed my life but they got cancelled.
During this downtime, my buddy Joe from The Acme started talking about this series he had written. It was called The Fall of Paul. So, Joe, James and I stepped into the world of production. We got some friends from the sketch side of the Acme - Joe, James, Cormac, Danielle, Art, and Joanne - and put it together. Mr. Giddy's band The Taint scored it.
I returned to my old job. As my brain started to heal, I found improv was the best thing for keeping me sharp. I started doing old time radio shows and murder mystery shows and the Hollywood Dream Role show.
People I love got married and had babies.
I lost both of my grandmas and my Aunt Ginny and a woman who was my second mom.
I traveled more than I ever have in my life.
I wrote two books, one which won a national award and someone stepped up and volunteered to make an audio book out of. I won a screen writing competition and got an all expense paid trip to Breckenridge as a prize.
I adopted four birds Buddy, Jeri, Todd, and Petey. Only Todd has left us.
I filmed a bunch of tv shows and commercials and short films and long films. Some I am in. Some I got cut out of.
I made incredible friends and kept in touch with old ones.
I don't have pictures of everyone. If you're not here, know that you are loved. I just don't have pictures.
So where am I now? Who will I look back upon when I have to count the next decade?
I feel like I am at this strange point in my life where things are changing.
I have left the Acme and, as I wait for some of the upper level courses to open up, am enrolled at a sketch writing class at the Groundlings. I feel like I'm finding my voice. The day of my anniversary, I was on set for 16 hours. I own my own bed and my own furniture. I still keep my futon. I'm starting to move a little more towards writing than acting... I produce a webseries called The Playhouse - I wrote it, I act in it, I own my own film equipment, I edit it.
I am proud of it.
I think the biggest difference between the woman I was and the woman I am is that I have ceased to look for someone to tell me I'm ready... that I'm good enough... I no longer believe anyone is going to swoop in and make my dreams come true. Instead, I have gathered enough tools to be able to do it myself. In the same breath, though, I've realized how important those I love are and that, indeed, nothing is worth doing without you.