Thursday, August 14, 2014

Growing Pains


Published 8/14/14


So in case you’re interested, this previous weekend marked my four-year LA-versary. I must say that given my inauspicious start here, I’m a little surprised I’ve lasted this long. Within the first month of my impetuous relocation, I got in one and a half car accidents, had a panic attack, got lost in almost every corner of the City of Angels and was very nearly sucked into a Ponzi scheme.  I rode the bus from Noho to Culver City before I had a car and before I knew any better, lived with way too many people in a small apartment, and thought that invitations to “red carpet events” received in emails were legitimate and worth my time. Oh young, silly Lyds!

Now that I’m a bit wiser (never older because good actresses don’t age), and a tad jaded, I’ve learned that all plans casual and romantic, interviews and auditions must be verified and triple checked because people in LA are exceedingly flaky. I’ve learned how to decipher the conflicting, ubiquitous street signs, and I know when to avoid driving on Hollywood Boulevard- always! I now understand the lore of the Arclight, and I’ve become that person who wears a pea coat in 60-degree weather with no shame.

For the past four years I’ve been broke as hell, which is saying a lot because I’m really good with money- like really, really good. But like so many of the countless artists before me who moved here with savings, a plan, and the secret belief that I was special and would be “discovered” in less than a year, I swiftly and repeatedly have had my feelings crushed by Lala Land. LA is not nice! It’s not a place to move if you want an easy life.  In some of my most financially scant moments, I’ve come pretty close to making some questionable choices.  I considered becoming a phone sex operator, which I justified because of a remembered comparison to the titular character in Girl 6. There was also the time I almost sold my eggs, and a more recent episode in which I pondered dancing at Jumbos. Courtney Love did the latter in her early days and she’s usually known for subsequent good decisions, right?

LA will break you if you don’t love the film industry, and it will break you if you do… and then it will throw in an earthquake just for kicks. This is a land of endless summer, beautiful beaches, annoying tourists, moral depravity, kale infinitum, inspiring creativity, insipid remakes, drivers who are effing insane, and In-N-Out. It’s not for everybody, but I’ve been convinced of my love of movies since I was about four years old, so I guess I’m not going anywhere.

I’ve had the chance to completely reassess my priorities- something that you can do with more clarity when you have to decide between putting 17 dollars of gas in your car or uploading a new headshot to LA Casting. And as for my floundering acting career, I finally managed to get a manager… who has sent me out exactly zero times. Thus the small triumphs of my barely-viewed commercials and infrequent avails are still languishing in my little non-union prison but I know other actresses have had even lengthier roads to getting paid for their art, so I keep at it.

I’ve been here long enough to have favorite bars, and to remember when 33 Taps was Dillon’s, and to somehow have acquired Dodger gear. I’ve still never been to a game. I’ve met and/or become disillusioned with most of my favorite actors and I’ve developed new favorites, but with caution this time. For all my complaining about the heat in the Valley, the traffic in Weho, the terror of the 405 and the general, all-encompassing horribleness of the film industry, I love this place.

I’ve realized that I have become someone who will passionately defend the merits of the Thirty Mile Zone, the idiosyncrasies of Silverlake, and the performance of the Lakers over the past few years. I’ve become an asshole driver with a favorite froyo place, more American Apparel clothing than anyone should admit to, and a very strong opinion of farmers markets by city. The last four years have introduced me to movies at Hollywood Forever, free yoga at Runyon, and Portos. I’ve met people for whom I would not take a bullet, but could possibly be persuaded to drive to LAX. In LA, that is true love. That and reading scripts that you really don’t want to read for your friends, or going to their improv shows across town. To me, LA has shown nothing but tough love, but that has forced me to write, and write and write and to grow, and to rediscover old passions that have nothing to do with the industry. Ironically, I think my newfound, extracurricular interests are making me a better actress. And while that’s happening, LA is making me a better person. I cannot begin to guess what will happen in the next four years, but hopefully I’ll still be able to say “I heart Los Angeles” and mean it.