Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Twerk: A Cautionary Tale

Published 12/18/2013

To say that I have disparate hobbies would be a bit of an understatement. On one hand there is a version of myself who bakes and goes to ballet class and crochets- mostly so I can make leg warmers for said ballet class and partly so I can attempt to make this scarf.  On the other hand however, there is a Lydia who invests in tiny shorts and a growing collection of sports bras because what else would I wear to pole class, right?

So as I mentioned before, I recently started working at a gym in Weho and I have access to all of their classes. Because of my end-of-the-year-acting slump, I’ve kind of been in this “try anything” mode- not drugs, just activities-  so I said to myself, “hey I think I’m going to try this pole dancing class, because why not.”  My justifications were that it might be fun, it’s great for your upper body, and in the most nonsensical corners of my mind I foresaw a Flashdance remake requiring a new crop of mediocre strippers who don’t actually strip. If that ever happens, I’m your girl, Paramount. #icanonlyhope #nonudityclause

So there are a few problems with this scenario, a large one being that when one thinks of pole dancing, one probably imagines lithe, sensual women doing things that are alluring and impressive…. so pretty much not me, ever. I’m really not overtly sexy- like I make Jess on New Girl  look like Jessica Rabbit, so before my first class I just mentally prepared myself for a lot of awkwardness. This of course would be intensified by the fact that the studio pole class takes place in has glass walls and is surrounded by the weight machines.  This encourages our skeezy members who are too cheap to pay to go to the Body Shop down the street to wander upstairs around nine and openly gawk for about an hour.  Like, they don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re just watching our class rather than working out, and even if they were, no one needs to do that many leg curls.

First class: I pretty much looked ridiculous. I tripped, because yes, you can trip going around a pole. I couldn’t climb, I couldn’t invert, my spins were beyond repair. It was an indisputable disaster.  On top of that, there were other girls in class who made me feel like maybe I should tip them. Allegedly they’ve only been dancing recreationally for a few months but I don’t believe them.  They’re just too good and also they own real stripper shoes.  These girls are pole-fessionals, I don’t care what anybody says.

The next day, my arms were killing me and I uttered words I never thought I would say: “I have so much respect for strippers now.” One of my coworkers questioned this, but  I’m standing by it. Pole dancing correctly is a task.

It’s been a couple months, and to my extreme surprise, I’ve gotten a lot better. Granted,  I’ve had a moment of “Wait, how good do I want to be at this?” and even though I’ve been advised that dancing as a profession would free up a lot of my time and be far more lucrative, I’m sticking to my hourly servitude for the time being. So what’s the problem?

Well, in my very short pole career I’ve learned that you should not try new and/or difficult things at the end of class because your arms and your core are weak and maybe it’s just time for you to go home while you’re ahead. My dumb ass however, thought I was cool and I could try a human flagpole to an invert to an outside leg-hang to a martini.  If you’re attempting this, you have to do it all rather fast because if you stop in the middle you’ll lose momentum and it won’t work. So I’m halfway through this trick and then somehow my hand slipped and I fell, and I’m pretty sure my head bounced… and I got a concussion.

This is my second concussion- the first one involved a washing machine- and it has been much, much worse than the first. The day after my accident (during the limited time I wasn’t trying to sleep off my miasma) I endured blurred vision, crazy headaches, nausea, swelling, disorientation- the whole nine yards. This happened a week ago and I still have bruises on my face, bright lights and loud noises pretty much ruin my day and I get these really intense, sporadic headaches. By the way, explaining this to people  has been really fun, aka ri-damn-diculous because they all think it’s far more amusing than traumatic. My mom laughed for about five minutes before asking if I was alright.  Le sigh.

Now that scene in The Players Club when Lisa Raye stiffly and reluctantly does her first dance unfortunately has so much more meaning to me.  She should have just gotten a real job when she had the chance! Sometimes pole dancing leads to bad things and both of us should have been smart enough to heed the warnings.  So that happened. I’ll just be over here icing my forehead while I leave you to mull over my epic fail in sexiness, coordination and good judgment.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Lofts and Very Sad Montages

Published 11/ 21/2013

So last weekend I found myself at the birthday party of a friend of a friend. That in itself wasn’t an extraordinary occasion, but after three seconds of walking into this soiree, I knew that something was intrinsically and wildly different from all of the gatherings of actors and industry folks that I’ve previously attended. The difference was that this girl, this woman really, who had a wig-themed birthday shindig wasn’t struggling as a waitress and juggling sketchy auditions in El Segundo, but she wasn’t a household name either. She has somehow managed to become the elusive working actress and is living the adult life that I’ve been striving for.

So can I please just take a moment to marvel at her place? I mean, I’ve seen cute apartments but this, this was something entirely different. I love love love modern architecture and open spaces so I pretty much had an arrhythmia over her two-story loft. Brick walls? Check? Ambiguous bedrooms? Check. Uber high-tech kitchen? Yep, all that happened. And then on top of that there was the décor. I’m really convinced she inceptioned my mind and came out with what I can only imagine people would accessorize with years after they’ve worked at Urban Outfitters and gotten jobs at cool tech companies with names like Spark or something. I mean what kind of person has On the Road and Brief Interviews With Hideous Men as loo reading, or newsprint-covered zebra heads on their walls? My kind of person, that’s who. She proved to me that a non-annoying, meat-eating hipster does in fact exist.

Now on one hand, I should be encouraged to see that the career I’ve been chasing is attainable, but on the other, I’m forced to ask myself: “what the hell am I doing with my life?” The voices of my civilian friends who question my artistic aspirations are starting to get louder and they’re starting to make more sense. I have two part-time jobs and duct tape on my car, and I don’t even want to talk about how long it’s been since my uninsured ass went to the dentist! If I was anything else other than an actress, this would be totally unacceptable. I know I’ve chosen to gamble by living the life of a thespian instead of just being sensible and going to law school, but umm, seriously?

It occurred to me the other day that the last three years of my life have been like the beginning montage of a movie where some plucky girl moves to a big city, promises herself that her crappy job will only be a six-month necessity, only to end the montage as “Three years later” scrolls across the screen. She’s still at the crappy job and the opening credits have just finished rolling.  #fail

So assuming the end of my montage is near, when are the quotable lines and predictable meet-cutes and inciting incidents going to begin? How long should I wait for someone else to yell action before I can really begin to do what I moved here to do? And if I decided to assume the seat in the director’s chair, will the other players fall in line? As a writer I’m constantly waiting for a greenlight and as an actress a callback, and for all the web series and shorts I can shoot and headshot mailings and casting director workshops I can attend, the answer still appears to be that I must wait for a go ahead from the powers that be. I know I signed up for this, but still, I wish there was a way that I could fast forward.  #emo #starvingartist #help!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The One Where I Was a Bridesmaid Yet Again

Published 11/1/2013

It seems that suddenly all of my friends are getting engaged or married. Literally all of them. And the ones who aren’t are those couples: the ones who disappeared from the face of the earth shortly after meeting their significant others and whose idea of fun is strictly limited to staying home and watching Netflix, going to Ikea on Saturday mornings, creating Pinterest boards for their future weddings even though they haven't been proposed to yet,  and going to brunch and/or wine tastings with other couples. Also, they like to invite me along and try to not-so-subtly hook me up with their single friends. Stop it guys, I’m on to you!

Anywho, I recently found myself as a bridesmaid in yet another wedding.  That brings the total of unusable floor-length dresses in my closet to three, with more on the horizon. Oddly enough, I was actually looking forward to this blessed event because I didn’t have to deal with a bridezilla, and because I’ve reached the point that any time I get to leave Los Angeles for any reason, it’s a bonus.

Needless to say, I got more than I bargained for because the wedding was in DC and I came pretty close to dying from exposure. It may or may not have only been in the 50s, but living in California has made me soft. Don’t judge. I quickly realized that the flimsy west coast layers that I brought would do me absolutely no good at all. There was frost on the car windows in the morning! I forgot that even existed.  Like what was even happening?!

So these nuptials marked many firsts in my bridesmaid journey- first Catholic wedding (lovely), having to walk down the aisle first (why me?), carrying a feather bouquet (yep) and putting out a literal fire (that actually happened), which made wearing shoes that were two sizes too big in the ceremony seem trivial in comparison. Yes, there were mishaps my friends, but despite the fashion emergencies, fire hazards and frostbite, I learned that a Mardi Gras themed wedding has a lot of perks. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough time to sightsee/ walk around the capital pretending to be Olivia Pope. Maybe next time.


Venue:  5
Alcohol Situation: 3
Bouquets Caught: 0 (Bitches be crazy when bouquets are on the line!)
Personal Victory/Dignity Retained: 5 (No drunken bridesmaid episodes for this girl.)
Atmosphere: #winning (but also cold as hell)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Get Your Life Together, Sir!

Published 10/21/2013

I’ve recently started a second job, which in case you were wondering is because my writing and acting ventures have yet to be profitable enough for me to drop the mic and flee forever the constraints of hourly employment.  One day, one day…

So partly because I’m obsessed with fitness but mostly because they called me before anyone else, and because being an assistant just wouldn’t allow me the flexibility to audition- I now work at a gym in Weho, frequented by actors and directors and actual body builders.  Also there are some really hot personal trainers.

 But about these trainers… so everyone knows that the men of LA are an entirely different breed than those found in other parts of the world, or even outside of the Thirty Mile Zone.  There is the perpetual man-boy/schlubby aspiring standup comedian; there is the actor with way, waayyyyy more feelings than I have time to deal with; there is the douchebag promoter who thinks I will sleep with him because he can get me into an SBE property- everybody works for SBE, calm the eff down sir; the Eastside vegan who insists on using soap that he made himself; the agency guys with skinny jeans and Prada shoes who are mistaken if they think I’m going to drive to Century City all willy nilly for drinks, and a plethora of others that can be found in endless variations and permutations.  But these mothereffing trainers at my job…

I was under the impression that when you start working at a new place, you should introduce yourself to your coworkers because I don’t know, it’s polite! And because I really prefer to avoid asking someone what their name is after I’ve seen them every day for a month. Awkward! Unfortunately, my adherence to basic social constructs was taken as forwardness, which in 2013 translates to thirstiness. Nope! Sir, seriously, I don’t want you. Like, I really, really don’t.  And furthermore, I realize that you are a personal trainer, but in general, every woman you meet does not want you!

Unfortunately, most of my introductions were met with some mumbled version of “Oh, hey. You’re the new girl huh,” and sometimes followed by a smarmy wink (who winks?!) or an invitation to “workout sometime,” really?! And on a few occasions, there was licking of lips and the rubbing together of hands. I’m sorry, is this a Jagged Edge video from 1999? No? Then get your life together! Of course after these sad displays of misguided modern machismo, there have been no words and no eye contact. Because now they’re playing hard to get.  Kill yourself! Because that would only work if I thought of you as anything more than sweaty eye candy. Sigh.

The culprit here as usual, is my youthful visage. A few of my coworkers confirmed that they assumed I’m a teenager, so I get it now. I look like I’m not old enough to know better, or to be immune to Hollywood douchebaggery, but I am, so the fact  that my efforts to behave like a normal human being worked against me is extremely annoying to say the least.

Despite the fact that I work with cads (yep, I’m bring that word back), and driving from Burbank to Weho every day makes me wish for a future involving teleportation, and that some people throw THE MOST outlandish of tantrums when there are no towels after spin class, I like my new job. Also it’s directly above a Trader Joe’s and a Starbucks so I may never leave. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You Stay Classy...

Published 9/10/2013

I recently spent the weekend with some of my extended family in San Diego, and I've noticed that strange things tend to happen to me while I'm there. I actually slept on a firm mattress and ate real food and was that air conditioning- why hello old friend!

Though I get to temporarily pretend that I’m not a starving artist during my visits, I also have to endure the onslaught of questions about where my life is going. Because who chooses to make almost no money while attempting to be a double threat? (I’m totally going to make that a thing.) I have a well-meaning uncle who always insists on asking me when I’m getting married- probably never because it’s largely unappealing to me and because dating in LA- just no. And when I’m going to have children- also never because my body isn’t like this by accident. Also, children are the devil.

And yet after a few days of breathable air and cable, I find that I have to be on my guard because San Diego lulls me into a false sense of security-plus-maybe-domestic-life-isn’t-so-bad haziness. As soon as I get past the traffic, the sky is actually blue, the beaches are clean and San Diego “rush hour” is child’s play.   I start to think, this is cool and I should move here immediately, right? Wrong!

The problem is that upon closer inspection, I realize that San Diego, while comforting is in fact contrary to all I hold dear. When I talk to people in LA, our conversations are all “Deadline, Deadline, traffic, traffic, traffic, traffic, Arclight, Arclight seats, Arclight popcorn, pitch meeting, tech avail, brunch, drinks, drinks, drinks, drinks, drinks…” Sometimes I think, Wow, I talk about the industry a lot.  I should get a hobby. But then I’m in San Diego and it’s like “Padres, Padres, the border, Gaslamp district, breast pumps, breast feeding, preschool,  Deadline- never heard of it,  bedtimes, swaddling, Nick Jr., tantrums…” and then I’m like Oh, please no! I want no part of this!

Because when I go to pool parties here, they look like this. Titties everywhere. 
But when I went swimming with my cousin and her two adorable kids, it looked like this. Titties everywhere.  A night out in LA looks like this, but when you have kids and you leave the house after six PM in San Diego, does it mean sexy times? Nope! It’s thisSaturday mornings. Now add children!  As you can see, I’ve basically arrived at the conclusion that San Diego- Hollywood= domesticity/my demise. Needless to say, these moments of weakness are fleeting on my part, because for all the fun of having insurance and my own garage, I still would rather take  a chance on doing what I love, even if it involves remakes and zombies and remakes about zombies.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The One Where My Feelings Got Hurt Very Badly

Published 8/18/2013

So for the past few months I’ve been trying to anticipate the very specific whims of casting directors by expanding my set of bookable skills. I think they really ask far too much of actors- fire breathing, unicycle riding, competition-level tango dancers- really? Why would I know how to do those things? But when one has no agent and little cleavage, one has to get creative. My British accent has gone from awful to passable, so I figured it was time to move onto other pursuits.

I mentioned before that I danced for a couple years, but I didn’t keep up with it because I moved around so much as a child. In any event, between multiple viewings of Black Swan and discovering Misty Copeland, I decided that I would buy a bunch of cute leotards and leg warmers so I could walk around like this, and casually return to ballet after a 10+ year absence.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve seen too many inspirational dance movies (Take The Lead, I blame you) in which someone who has never danced or given it up long ago because of That Accident/The Breakup/Ambiguous Guilt/Insurmountable Injury/Urban Struggle, reluctantly puts on their dancin’ shoes and after a few bruises, a class-conscious romance and a montage to a Journey song, emerge in under 120 minutes as a nearly-professional dancer who wins that competition or achieves their way out of the ‘hood.  Well movies lie. This is something I know well, but I foolishly ignored the truth. What has been happening for the last few weeks is no one’s fault but my own.

There are a ton of adult ballet classes in LA so after a few days of trying to do this, I signed up for one. Before I attended my first class, I had a lot of very specific expectations in my mind. I’m often told that I’m graceful and asked if I still dance. I’m also generally really good with choreography. Le sigh. First of all, when I arrived, I was the only dork wearing a leotard. Apparently, adults wear yoga attire to ballet. What followed after my wardrobe faux pas can only be described as the exact opposite of the gossamer and pointe shoe-filled fantasies I’d been entertaining.

I don’t remember sweating in ballet and most importantly I don’t remember not being the best one in class! I have a little problem that involves me not being able to do things without competing- I have injured myself attempting to be the most flexible person at yoga- and I was hoping that this would be like riding a bike. I thought I would be like Billy Elliot running out of the wings, but I felt more like this. And get this, the best person in class is a dude!  He pretty much looks like this, and if I fail to hold my passé/ releve` combo I can feel him giving me the stank eye.  Why is this happening?!!! Oh, maybe because ballet is a freakin’ sport! Professional ballerinas end up with feet like this! This is not a game!

Anywho, I’ve decided to stick with my classes because I love them almost as much as I unabashedly love wearing leotards and leg warmers, but if I ever book a dance movie, I hope for the sake of everyone involved that that there is a stunt double. Yes, that was a man doubling for Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. I hope I didn’t just ruin anyone’s childhood.


Location: 5 (Studio A in Silverlake is da bomb. I still plan to try Millennium in Noho and Align in Weho.)

Number of times per class I get the stank eye from Amazing Ballet Dude: 512

Level of pain in my calves: 27

Intensity with which I hate doing frappes: 10

Monday, August 5, 2013

If All Else Fails, Say You Invented Post-It Notes

Published 8/5/2013

Because I’m an actress and being over 17 in this town means being relegated to playing moms, layers and cops, I usually attempt to remain vague about my actual age, but I’ve recently attended an event that unfortunately betrays my years.  If you guessed going to the DMV to switch the picture on my license from vertical to horizontal you were close, but actually it was my first high school reunion.

I must stress that I skipped a grade and my birthday is late in the school year, so I’m still safely in my 20s, but I continue to be carded at the movies and thusly continue to audition for 18-to-play younger roles, so if a casting director should get ahold of this, I will deny every word of it!

I have to say that I had absolutely no intentions of attending, partly because I went to high school in a town with only two busy streets and businesses that close at 10PM, but mostly because I’d failed to become a heart surgeon (or marry one), win a Pulitzer or an Oscar, or just generally be where I thought I would be in life at this juncture. Unfortunately, I had 1) recently been in a neighboring town and become consumed with nostalgia, 2) started to feel really bad about making my friend go by herself, and 3) watched that slightly cheesy, but surprisingly charming Channing Tatum movie, 10 Years.  At that point I decided that because I live in driving distance and because I didn’t have to work, I would go. 

And also, I started to become insanely curious. Of course I’ve been glimpsing the lives of my former classmates in bits and pieces through the Book of Faces, but that only reveals so much. The baser parts of me wanted to know if the popular kids had gotten fat and who had become more doable.  The latter was the prevalent trend. While in high school, I experienced the weird phenomena of doing popular things (cheerleading, track, choir, drama) without ever actually being popular. I also had a friend who was the Lynn Collins to my Kate Mara or the Rachel McAdams to my Lindsay Lohan so I was secretly bracing for a night of being compared to her as in days of yore.

I needn’t have worried about that. People were nice! They were more than nice, and my plan to lie about some unreleased (non-existent) studio feature that I had just worked on and the carefully planned escape that my friend and I devised were quickly forgotten. Only about a fifth of my graduating class showed up, but suddenly four hours didn’t seem like enough time to catch up.  I realized that part of my apprehension came from being accustomed to the daily dance of one-upmanship that is LA conversation and the constant need to tell tales about your career. What I actually found were unassuming interludes with people who knew me when Destiny’s Child was still together and who have witnessed some of my more regrettable fashion decisions. 

I spent most of the evening in the photo booth, trying to remember our alma mater in its entirety, being perplexed by the attention from guys who would never have taken me behind the bleachers ten years ago, and laughing at the ones who proceeded to get extremely sloppy. I also witnessed the requisite attempts to initiate ye olde drunken hookup and ye olde rekindling of flames that burned out shortly after we were handed our diplomas.  Hilarity ensued. There was also a lot of music from the age of my matriculation that made me laugh and cringe. Thong Song anyone?

I was shocked to find that I was actually a little sad at the thought of not seeing some of my classmates again for another ten years, not because I missed riding the bus with them, but because they felt like family. Fortunately, I did revive a couple of important friendships that have fallen by the wayside for no good reason so when it was time to leave, we did it without crying to the Vitamin C Graduation song like we did back in the day. I got through the night without having to tell anyone that I invented Post-It Notes, so I’d say the evening was hella tight (early 2000s slang that was been retired from my vocabulary- you’re welcome.)


Venue: 5

Alcohol Situation: 5 (Also, I wasn’t legally old enough to drink last time I saw these people!)

Friendships Revived: Several

Personal Victory/Dignity Retained: 4 (Only because we ended up at Jasper’s in “downtown” Lompoc. Just being there is a questionable decision.)

Atmosphere: #winning (Again, I heard the Thong Song played and appreciated un-ironically.  Where else is that going to happen?)