Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Real Life Adventures

Hunger Games Subway on Funny or Die

Oh, hey. The Hunger Games Subway Commercial parody is now on Funny or Die. So, vote funny if you laugh!


Christmas Movie Flowchart

It’s Thanksgiving, which means you’re going to start watching the Christmas movies.

Here’s the flowchart to help you decide.

Christmas Movie Flowchart


Remembering NaNoWriMo and Trying to Inspire Others

A friend of mine, Briana Hansen, is vlogging her National Novel Writing Month journey. I’m being supportive, as you should be ifRemembering NaNoWriMo and Trying to Inspire Others someone you know is doing it. It’s tough. It’s hard. You need a support structure.

I have the added benefit of having done it myself.

My journey is atypical. The way I write is different from others (everyone’s writing is different). I write novels by hand and I don’t set pen to paper unless I know what the story is, who the characters are, and where it’s going. I spend most of my waking moments planning.

So, when someone says, write a novel in a month, it’s easy. If I have one ready.

My NaNoWriMo experience was a class assignment in college. I finished in 8 days. The whole class hated me. Everyone finished by the end of the month. So, from someone who wrote 55,000 words in 8 days, let me tell you how I did it.

1. Stop worrying

55,000 words is not a novel. These days, a novel is between 75,000 and 100,000. So, writing the NaNoWriMo’s requisite 50,000 is not a whole novel: it’s the bones and muscles without the flesh and clothing. Don’t worry so much about what it looks like. When you reach your goal, set it aside. You can always come back to it later, flesh it out, and dress it up. This is not a polished product. That’s what revision is for.

2. Just go.

Don’t check your word count every ten minutes. Don’t look at the clock every hour. This is a marathon. It’s going to take time. If you’re on a roll, but you’ve already written for your two hours, keep going. Why stop? When you do stop, stop in the middle so you can pick up where you left off and get right back into your flow.

3. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Unless there is.

There will be a time (maybe more than once) when you sit down with your hands over the keys and you have no idea what comes next. The truth behind writer’s block is that it’s self-doubt rearing it’s ugly head. If you want to do it in 8 days, you turn off your inner editor and squash self-doubt with the power of will (not really; you squash it with the power of blind, speeding momentum). When self-doubt threatens your word count, sit it down and give it a talking to.

Trust your characters. Trust your plot. Trust everything.

Trust that you can always change it later.

4. Ride the wave

Coming from someone who’s written five of them and knowing people who have written more, writing a novel is an emotional roller coaster. Briana is still in the honeymoon period. She’s in love with the idea, she’s in love with the process, she’s in love with everything around it.

There will come a time when you hate it with such utter contempt you can remember why you decided to do it in the first place.

This is natural. Ride the wave. It WILL drag you down, but don’t worry. You’ll get through it. The process of writing a book looks a lot like the hero’s journey. You have a time when the walls are closing in, you have your own dark night of the soul about your project. Remember, at the end, you get to bring your holy grail back to the villagers. And, you’re never the same after you finish.

5. Support

Don’t do this alone. Seriously. Even if it’s just one friend, get a support structure in place. Writing a book is like being in a relationship: sometimes, you need someone you can vent to.

That’s what I got for all you NaNoWriMo kids. I wish I could have joined you this round, but time does not allow me to.

What are your tips for NaNoWriMo? Tell me about your journey in the comments! And, if you are going through it alone, check out Briana’s vlog and comment.


TMI Minute Episode 6 | Somali Pirates vs. Britney Spears

Why do I keep posting these? Because I write it! Don’t miss the TMI Minute every Tuesday!


The TMI Minute | Episode 4 – Dogs in the Machine

Here’s a new episode of the show I write and produce with Joe Neuburger and Julian Clark.


IMDB Credits

In a little over a year of living in Los Angeles, I now have two official IMDB credits to my name. Check it out.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5806970/


Pilot Reading Tonight

My sitcom pilot, The Fabulous Life of Arthur Watkins, is tonight.

Second City Hollywood at 6:30pm

Here’s all the media for it:

Reclusive author ML Reeves can’t keep it together. After her book series, The Fabulous Life of Arthur Watkins, hit the New York Times Bestseller list and stayed there, she’s been crushed by fame, movie contracts, and a rabid fan base. When a long stint of writer’s block has book five behind deadline, Arthur Watkins, the 15-year-old main character, appears to ML. But is he there to help or will he only make things worse?

Starring
Catherine Alter
Nina Berenfeld
A.S. Freeman
Mackenzie Horras
Patti Moore
Shawn Ryan
Melanie Specht
Travis Van Rijn

The Fabulous Life of Arthur Watkinslemonnotsure  braceyourselves morder


I’m Judging You (Or The Other Side of the Rejection Letter)

We held auditions for the stage read of my pilot this weekend (it’s at 6:30 on April 17th at Second City Hollywood and you’ll see two shows for the low, low price of FREE!) and these auditions put me on the other side of throwing yourself at the mercy of someone else’s judgement.How to audition

It’s not easy being an actor. We had 39 people show up.

There are 8 people in my pilot.

One of them only exists off-stage. That’s right. I’ve cut the story down to the essentials (how many people are in an episode of The Big Bang Theory? You’ve gotta keep it tight). Now, there are a few non-speaking roles in there. The first scene takes place at the Hugo Awards, so you would presumably have a whole audience in there somewhere.

But, they don’t talk.

On top of that, I already had two of my characters cast from people I know from the show I write for at Second City.

It was a little ridiculous. Even I was getting nervous about auditions and all I had to do was sit at a table and watch. It’s hard to imagine how they feel. Worse, you’re throwing yourself at the mercy of someone’s highly subjective opinion, someone who has a look, a style, a character, in mind and you need to rock it. I only write down you’re name if you’re interesting. I only remember you if you impressed me. The first thing that goes out the window is “Nice.” I can’t waste too much time saying how wonderful everyone is. I have to get down to it.

sorryimnotsorry

I’m a little sorry.

There were a few people I saw that I thought, “It’s too bad that I don’t have a part for you.” Literally. Out of eight characters, three of them are male, and one of them can’t be half-assed or borderline. You have to rock it.

You have to either read my mind or change it.

Here’s what I learn from having to drop the gavel:

1.) Sometimes, it’s how you look.

I need a 15 year old boy. But, the character is so important, I didn’t want to cast a 15 year old (everyone on Glee is in their 20′s, so you can get away with it). If you look like you’ve walked a hard road to 30, it’s a hard sell, even when it’s just a read.

2.) Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how you look.

One guy, clearly older than 25, read for the 15 year old character and nailed it. So, he didn’t perfectly fit the role as far as looks were concerned. He hit the important part, which was in the attitude and the speech pattern. He brought something to it. What I’m saying is you can change someone’s mind.

3.) Go all out.

I can’t imagine how nervous you are. Whenever I submit my stories to agents, it’s always from behind a computer screen where I can listen to Take A Chance On Me or Maybe This Time and dance around in my pajamas, because I’m a writer and that’s pretty much what we do. I’ve had pitches with agents in the past, but even those were one on one. It’s not as terrible as standing in a line with 7 other people. The person who ended up as my lead took the direction I gave her and made something out of it, even in a three page scene. I was able to look at her reading the role and think, “I never saw the character this way, but, damn, it works.”

4.) Don’t be cocky.

Sometimes, you have to psych yourself up. I get that. I’ve performed live before and ten minutes before every show, I had to sequester myself and talk myself into it. I had to amp up. I had to get ready. I’m an introvert, so I could keep that amping up in my head.

Don’t do it out loud.

Please.

If saying you’re going to fucking rock these auditions is what gets you into the room and gets you psyched, great. Don’t do it in front of the people in charge of the auditions. They don’t all think you’re psyching yourself up. Some of them think you’re just being a jerk.

If you are just being a jerk, stop. STAHP.

5.) Bring a headshot.

It’s LA. You should have one.

Even if they don’t ask you to bring one, you should bring one. A little professional can go a long way. If you single yourself out, maybe you don’t need one. But, you should have one. It’s like bringing a resume to a job interview. Yeah, you already sent one, but maybe they didn’t feel like printing it out. And, it’s easy to say, “Would you like a copy of my resume?” They can say no if they’ve got one. If they don’t, you’ve already set yourself apart from everyone who forgot theirs.

I know rejection sucks. I’ve been there about 120 times in the last 2 years, and those are the ones that bothered to answer.

You can do one of two things:

Keep going

or

Quit.

So, it’s up to you.

What’s the next step?


Why I won’t be hooting at Meryl Streep

When the Oscar’s come to LA (well, my part of LA, which is the Hollywood part), everything shuts down. I mean, seriously. The street is closed. Events are cancelled. This is our Super Bowl.

I thought that I could fulfill my lifelong dream of hooting at Meryl Streep.

All right, so it’s not really a lifelong dream to hoot at Meryl Streep, it’s more of a last four days dream.

Anyway, I looked up tickets for the red carpet. They’re free. Which is nice. But, then there was this.

  • Write a short essay explaining why you deserve to be chosen.
  • Upload three photos: full length photo, real passport photo and a recent photo with friends.
  • Complete a “Background Check” conducted by the Academy’s Security Team.  A passport-type photo will be required.

I can understand the background check, but an essay? A full-length photo? A recent photo with friends? I don’t even think I have this stuff on my Facebook page. In response, here’s my essay on why I DON’T deserve to be chosen for the Academy Award Red Carpet Grandstand:

I don’t care about the Oscars. I really don’t. I just wanted the opportunity to yell at celebrities in their natural habitat; award shows. I wanted the chance to see Robert Downey, Jr.  I’m not even sure he’s invited to this year’s Academy Awards. I wanted the opportunity to see how tall George Clooney is (he’s short, isn’t he? I bet he’s short). I wanted to Instagram a bunch of famous people and also the back of some guy’s head. I wanted to check-in on Foursquare at the Kodak Theatre (I live pretty close; I can probably do that anyway).

The only Oscar nominated movie I saw this year was Silver Linings Playbook, so if they don’t win any awards, I’m at a loss. There was something in French, right? I don’t even know. It was probably boring.

I have no appreciation for clothing. You could point out some famous designer, and I would have no idea who you were talking about. Tuxedos. Yeah!

To be honest, if I went anywhere, it should have been the Golden Globes. Or the SAG Awards. Or the Emmys. Because I *heart* TV.

Here’s a photo of me with a finger mustache.

stache


This is not what I’m supposed to be doing

I’m supposed to be writing my pilot episode right now. I mean, this is the time I’ve carved out of working Job A, working Job B, writing for Sketch Show, contributing to Monologue Jokes, and Job Hunting. I started a Footloose Radio on Spotify, not because that’s the tone of the screenplay, but because Footloose and the music of Footloose’s era get me pumped up.

I’m at the coffeeshop. I have a writing buddy in hopes of keeping me honest. I have my beat sheet, my outline, my notes.

So, why am I not writing?

Well, I’m four pages into my sitcom and it’s not funny. Don’t try to get fancy with me. I know I shouldn’t be worrying about that right now, because I can always go back and revise (and I plan on doing just that.) It’s also possible that it’s funnier than what I give it credit for. You know. Possibly. I have a deadline for myself and I will meet it.

Tell me again how hilarious your sitcom is.

But, it’s gotten me thinking on what is it about this that’s going to be funny. I mean, it’s funny when I talk about it. It’s funny in my head. To be honest, I started writing this blog post hoping that I would get in touch with my funny. I mean, guys…we all know how hilarious I am.

Maybe it’s like Girls. It’s too close to reality for me to consider it funny. Maybe I’ve just had a bad week and “allocated time” isn’t what I’m looking for. Oh, and Vitamin C’s Graduation just came on, which is not helpful AT ALL.

I’ve been writing specs and editing things so long, it’s starting to feel like I’m better at helping other people find what they’re trying to say.

Do you ever feel like you can’t feel your funny? What do you do to get in touch with your inner self? Where is my writing Obi Wan-Kenobi telling me to let the hilarity flow through me?

I need a dance break. Catch you guys in five.


The only question left is: Do I drink the water?

I just got back from…wait for it:

THE SET OF IRON MAN 3.

So, I guess, the obvious question: No, Robert Downey, Jr. wasn’t there. It was second unit. Or not even that. Principal shooting has been done on Iron Man for awhile. No, this stuff was filler. Extra scenes that just need to fill the seams in the movie. Doesn’t matter. It was still awesome.

Great stuff below. (more…)


Top TV Writers Talk How to Work on Successful TV Shows

Went to a panel sponsored by The Scriptwriters’ Network on Saturday. Call that my force social interaction for the week. The speakers were Glen Mazzara of The Walking Dead, Dan O’Shannon of Modern Family, Alex Cary of Homeland, Janet Tamaro of Rizzoli & Isles, Vanessa Taylor of Game of Thrones & Matt Nix of Burn Notice. As you can tell, some hefty names in there.

They started with the usual grab bag of “How I Broke in Stories.” I appreciate these to a certain extent, but the thing that nearly all of the stories boil down to is: Know Someone.

They knew someone, They met someone at a party, such and so introduced them to their agent. It’s not easy. You have to network. So, circle this, star it, bookmark it, whatever. If you want to write for television, somewhere, somehow, you’re going to have to know someone in or around the industry. What this translates to is: get to Los Angeles. I’m not poo-pooing your dreams and maybe there are exceptions, but look deep inside yourself and decide whether or not you’re Katniss Everdeen and even she had sponsors. Peeta had to know someone to get a leg up (oh! A leg up! Snap!)

Enough with the Hunger Games references. What other wisdom did I take away from the experience?

You have to write. A lot.

You have to get used to rejection. Janet Tamaro, as a female showrunner, asked the men on the panel what the male equivalent to “bitch” was. Interestingly, the joking answer was “success.” And all the panelists were kinda like, “well…yeah.”

But let’s be honest:

bitches get stuff done

Perhaps the biggest thing they hit on was Voice. (Yes, so big I capitalized it)

It’s weird, Voice. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t have a Voice. No, not sometimes. All the time. What is my Voice? How am I different? How can I be different while proving that I can also be the same?

This comes on the tail end of me pitching something in class that I probably shouldn’t have. I started the pilot writing class on Tuesday, a class that will end with a group of actors reading my pilot on stage. This is an awesome opportunity, to see what someone will do with my work. And, I pitched my half-baked idea. I had my ready to go idea. And I pitched my half-baked idea.

My heart’s in it. I love my half-baked idea. But my brain started berating me. I’m not ready to write this. Which makes it, perhaps, the perfect time to start writing it. It’s like I snuck up on this idea in the jungle and surprised it into submission. Hopefully, I can wrestle it to the ground before it gets its legs underneath it.

Well, once again, I’ve turned this blog around and made it all about me.

I guess what you really need to know is that nobody knows what they’re doing. And also no one can really tell you what to do. We’re all firing in the dark. Some people have flashlights, but when they hand them over, they don’t always work correctly.

Last note: Dan O’Shannon wrote a book about some of his comedy experiences called What Are You Laughing At? If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought. I will probably take a look at it and throw a review up here. I suppose I should get back to being “smartly droll*” about books.

* A friend of mine said I was smart droll so I’m stealing it. Welcome to the world of writing.


Home Office? More like Pajama Party!

I won’t pretend that I haven’t hit the jackpot. I work from home. When you think about it, that’s pretty awesome. No, even when you don’t think about it, it’s really awesome. And for some reason, there’s this weird conception out there that I do everything in my pajamas, and that’s not exactly a lie.

But there are some pitfalls to working from home.

Like no human interaction. When you’re communicating through emails with everyone, sometimes you wonder if there’s actually someone on the other side. I keep getting paychecks, so I assume…

Then, there’s the whole thing with the pajamas. If I don’t have pajamas on by one ‘o clock in the afternoon, it means I’m not going anywhere, so I might as well throw on the Snuggie and stretch the power cord of the laptop over the back of the couch. And just like Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day, I’m not nearly as productive. What do you mean there’s no Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day? Is that not a thing at your office?

My computer is for fun and for profit. There’s no difference between my work computer and my home computer (except for that one thing about the Java update that means I have to use that one bit of software on the old computer, but that’s neither here nor there).

I don’t have a water cooler. My roommates are out of the house most of the time. I don’t have a receptionist. Or a mail guy. It gets sort of lonely. Sometimes, I go a couple days without leaving the house. My thoughts start to echo back in my head. Television is my friend.

Anyway, the real productivity comes from getting out of the house. If I go to a coffeeshop, I’ll sit and work for four to six hours straight, no breaks, no lunches, not even a bathroom pause.

And, if I’m bored on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, it’s easy to fall into work. I’ve gotten emails at 11:30 at night which could wait till the morning, but of course my first response is to do it now. I get work emails on my phone, on my computer, sometimes even alerts on my iPad. Is that how most people do it these days?

Midwest Work EthicMy Midwestern ideals make it so I have to work. I feel guilty if I don’t. Sometimes, I feel like that horse in Animal Farm. Pretty soon, the only thing I’ll be good for is glue.

Which brings me to a point, sort of, about introversion. I land pretty high on the introversion score. I like hanging out with other introverts. Extroverts freak me out and make me suspicious and paranoid. Why are you so happy? Why are you telling everyone you’re so happy? Don’t touch me. Why are we hugging?

If they talk about things I’m interested in, I’m less suspicious. But, getting stuck inside by myself for extended periods of time sort of reminds me why humans are social creatures. You gotta get out there and meet people. Or be stuck inside with your own irritating self who won’t shut up about Underworld until we watch it seven times.

Home office or regular office, work is work. What are the pitfalls of your daily plod?


Wrapping Paper

I have a question.

Why is wrapping a Christmas present the hardest thing ever?

I mean, it should be easy, right? The thing with the fold and the tap dispenser and flip the corners in with the point and the box and NOOO! JUST STOP!

This is the worst part of the Christmas season.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to leave out any of my non-Christian friends. But, guys. Wrapping gifts. Am I right?

It doesn’t help that my mother is a gift-wrapping savant. She can wrap cubes, pyramids, tetrahedrons, dodecahedrons, spheres (though I guess spheres wouldn’t be that difficult, right?). Did I get a gift wrapping gene from Mom? Nope. I just put the box on the paper and look up at Mom with a whimper like a guilty puppy that’s just made a mess on the carpet.

And you can’t do gift bags. No, you get judged for gift bags. I mean, I say, “I saw this gift bag and it looked so YOU!” but then I get the judgement stares of, “But, doesn’t this gift bag come in wrapping paper?”

Every Christmas season, we get our designated time in the Wrapping Room. If the door is shut, you must knock and announce yourself so the Wrapper has the chance to give you the all clear. Usually, we have a Wrapping Buddy. Mom has the work station planned out, so the buddy is more moral support then helper. Your elf, as it were, if Santa had OCD.

When we were younger, every present from Santa was wrapped in Santa wrapping paper. I say when we were younger, but that still happens. To this day, I still get gifts from Santa. I’m 26 years old. I am not arguing with this. Santa, I’m a big fan. Keep ‘em coming.

Despite my disdain for the Wrapping Paper tradition, I love giving gifts. I love the surprise. I’m one of those people that tries to put tons of thought into a gift. I want to see the reaction. I’ve made people cry with my gift-giving skills and that is a power worth wielding.

What is your Achilles’ heel of the holiday season? Let me know in the comments.


Talk Amongst Yourselves

You know you’ve reached a weird point when you start Search Engining blog topics. I mean, what do I write about?

Part of my problem is overload. I’m writing four sketches a week, 10 jokes a week, two blog posts a week for work (why is that always easier?), and developing a sitcom pilot while keeping one eye open for work in the entertainment industry.nog

So, I guess I’ll update you on random things and you can talk amongst yourselves.

  • Love, love, love Los Angeles. Go…Theater Nerds? (I’m not sure what team I’m supposed to cheer for here.)
  • Still working two and a half jobs from home. Garbage disposal broke. Plumber came over to replace it. I awkwardly hovered over him and tried to talk about TV shows.
  • I flirted with him a bit, but he turned me down. It’s cool. Those inter-office romances never work anyway.
  • I’ve started referring to all my neighbors by their Native American names. Works On Car. Lets Dog Poop. Flirts With Kate. Has Loud Sex.
  • Egg nog is a meal in and of itself.
  • My Second City classes were lovely. They cost a lot of money. Those two things probably aren’t related, but whatever.
  • I haven’t finished reading a book in two months.
  • I’m reading Pride & Prejudice and I love it. Which makes me a stereotypical girl, but I’m dealing with that in my own way.
  • I lost a friend and made two.
  • I’ve been earning Adulthood badges like gangbusters.

Well, what have you been up to? I think you don’t realize how busy you are until you look at the date and think, “Hm. I should have my Christmas shopping done by now.”

Happy Hanukkah everybody!


How to change a blinker in 12 easy steps and 1 not so easy one

I recently gained an Adulthood badge. I had to fix a car issue with my own two hands. Curious, are you? Well, here’s an easy how-to guide.kitt

How to Change A Blinker in 12 Easy Steps and 1 Not So Easy

1. Determine if your blinker needs changing.

Most cars have a signal for this. The blinker that isn’t functioning properly usually blinks manically when you turn it on. That’s your first clue. If you are new to Los Angeles and don’t have any friends, verifying isn’t as easy as asking someone to help you. So either pull up to a wall in the dark or flip on the blinker and get out to check yourself.

2. Stop using your car immediately.

You are saving lives.

3. Forget that your blinker needs to be changed.

This is easily accomplished by only driving your car once a week and mostly making turns counter to the the blinker that is burned out.

4. Only drive at night so as to not be able to see anything in the engine when you get home.

Yeah. Darkness is not helpful for bulb changing.

5. Be reminded by your dad that your blinker is burnt out.

Really, the further away your dad is from the problem, the better. My dad was 1400 miles away. If he can remember your problem when he’s that far from it, you should probably get that worked out.

6. Locate the nearest auto repair shop.

And I can walk there! Bonus!

7. Wait until something else goes wrong with your car.

Low coolant? Well, that seems important. Hm.

8. Remove blinker bulb.

This is actually pretty easy. Did you know that your car has an OWNER’S MANUAL? Usually in the GLOVE BOX? (Not just for gloves, apparently)

9. Drive to the auto repair shop making only turns allowed by the functional blinker.

Take twice as long as necessary and make sure it is dark outside.

10. Buy bulb/coolant/wiper fluid

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. These guys know what they’re doing.

11. Drive home timing your arrival so that your neighbor who always works on his car is working on his car when you get there.

That’s not so hard. Now that you mention it, why is he always working on his car?

12. Don’t ask him for help.

It’s time to man up and earn that Adulthood badge.

13. Change your blinker.

It’s, like, #8 in reverse.

Well, there you have it. How to change a blinker. You, too, can earn this Adulthood badge. At least you didn’t have to change a tire on the side of the highway.

(Oh, yeah, and the hard one was #9)


Stranded

I’m changing my superpower.

Flight and invisibility are the poor man’s game. When I played pick a superpower, I always played it with the full X-men dossier. Everyone said Wolverine because he was cool and great and awesome and who hasn’t wanted to brandish knuckle-sprouted blades at some inconsiderate line cutter. (or is that just me? my bad…)

I just want to point out that “badass” is not a superpower, it’s a state of being.

Anyway…

I usually went with Storm. I mean, come on. You can control the weather. Snow. All the time.

But, I’m changing it to Nightcrawler teleportation. Nightcrawler has a roughly three-mile radius in which he can teleport. At the very least, I would use it to cross the street.

But, the real reason is my damnable travel karma (see previous post). On with the tale!

What you need to know:

Hurricanes come with their own stages of emotions.

1. Mild Surprise

I got a text message from my dad on Friday that read: “How’s the storm situation?” At the time I had no idea what he was talking about. My flight the previous night had been delayed (see previous post), so I assumed he was talking about that, even though I hadn’t mentioned a storm. I told him I got in late last night. About 45 minutes later, I saw the news and sent him this. “Oh. Now I see what you mean.” It was far away, I was young and inexperienced. Certainly I would not fall victim to such a thing.

2. Irrational Fear

Okay, so the president’s talking about it. And, apparently it’s pretty bad. And, Twitter is abuzz. Oh, my God. I’m going to die. What are my last words? Who should receive my last farewell? Who gets my stereo?

3. Coy Nonchalance

I’m staying in Cambridge, on the MIT campus. Where else in the world would be a better place to sit this out?

4. Irrational Fear

ANYWHERE ELSE THAT IS NOT IN A HURRICANE! FIND THE TORNADO ROOM! NO, GET TO HIGH GROUND! WIND IS SO LOUD!! WHY IS WIND SO LOUD?!?!

5. Cabin Fever Bat Shit Insanity

I’m never going to get out of here. Every flight that ever existed has taken off or been cancelled. I’ll never see anyone again. Are the walls closing in? Why is it so bright? I can’t see. No, wait, I’m looking at things. I can see. I’m never going to get out of Boston.

6. Overwhelming Frustration

Okay, this one hit when I was told that my rescheduled flight was also cancelled. The new one? Friday. I’m trapped in a dorm until Friday. Admittedly, a big part of this frustration stemmed from the fact that I am supposed to fly to Vegas from LAX on Thursday. Yeah.

7. Acceptance of Fate

Do you know what it feels like to flush money down the drain? That’s what happens when there’s no possible way you can get to Los Angeles before Thursday and your ticket is non-refundable. Rebooking the flight costs more than the original ticket, and I’m not going to throw good money after bad. Oh, and I’m flying to Dallas on November 15th for the week and a half of Thanksgiving. At this point, I might still be in Boston, but, whatever, man. Whatever.

As far as the hurricane itself, well, it didn’t really hit Boston. It was simply a rainy, cloudy, windy day where everyone stayed inside. No flooding, no power outage. I ordered delivery.

Yes, I have a place to stay with power, a bed, Internet, and all those things that so many are without. I am grateful for all those things. I know a lot of people have it much worse than I do. Right now, I just want to go home.

But, let me make one thing known. You don’t want to be in a hurricane. You don’t even want to be near a hurricane.

Oh, and:

Dear Mom,

Send underwear and shampoo.

Love, Kate


Flight Patterns

You shouldn’t fly with me.

I might be the black cat of airline travel. Over the past five trips I’ve taken by plane, at least two of the flights have been cancelled, at least three of the flights have been delayed over two hours, and one plane was struck by lightning as we landed.

I abandoned checked luggage ages ago. I’m never on the plane I’m supposed to be on, and my bags aren’t, either.

Air TravelI booked my trip for Boston over a month ago, back in September. I like to book early for prices and for convenience. Besides, I need that time to allow people to abandon the flight before I actually make it to the airport. I usually give myself an extra day. I’ve spent two nights on separate occasions sleeping the Chicago’s O’Hare airport, once by myself; another time with over 1,000 stranded people.

It’s easy to point at O’Hare and say, “Kate, you’re flying to a bad weather hot zone.” Fair enough. My trips to Michigan are almost always in the dead of winter and the cause of my flight delays are the same reason I’m going up there in the first place: snow.

But, things were supposed to change. At the end of September, I went back to Dallas to surprise my friends. The day before the flight was supposed to leave, they cancelled it. They rebooked me on a flight that would have me landing four hours later and (consequently) ruining my elaborate construct of surprise. Orbitz (I will say again) ORBITZ! took my call and was able to book me on a different flight that routed through Denver rather than San Fran and had me arriving at the original time (no extra charge). Surprise saved.

I will always recommend Orbitz because of this. They took care of me.

On the flight back to Los Angeles, lightning struck our plane as we descended into Denver. It’s not very exciting.

On my flight to Boston (routed through San Francisco {or, as I told my dad “The new Chicago”}) the flight was delayed so long that my connecting flight had left San Francisco before I even left LA. United got me on a different flight and I landed in Boston at 1:00AM.

Which brings us up to today.Hurricane Sandy

I am sitting out a hurricane.

Now, it could be worse. I don’t have a job I have to get back to because I work from home. I’m missing my classes, but hopefully I can make them up later. My car is slowly accumulating day after day charges, but it’s only $10 per day, so an extra 20 isn’t going to break the bank.

I’m not going to stop flying anytime soon. I love that air travel makes our world smaller by hours. I love that I have income flexibility that allows me to travel to places like Michigan, Boston, Dallas. I’m lucky to have friends and family in these places that give me a place to crash.

Perhaps the moral of this story is that all my karmic dissonance plays out in the form of terrible airline travel. A few things I’ve learned, though:

  1. Flexibility is essential.
  2. Pack light.
  3. Pack extra underwear.
  4. Be nice to airline employees.

That last one is probably the most important.

If I live to tell the tale, I’ll post about what it’s like to sit out a hurricane on the MIT campus. This coffee shop I’m posting from is playing “Singin’ in the Rain” which is either genius or in very poor taste.


The Change

I’ve gone Hollywood.

Gone HollywoodFor the first time in 3 months, I returned to Dallas on a quest to surprise those I left behind. I hadn’t thought I had changed.  I was still the sly, witty, Iron Man rip-off that I’ve always been, but this time, something felt different.

One of my roommates is a reality TV star. Living with her is not nearly as exciting as it would seem. She’s an amazing, generous person with a Midwestern work ethic and an inviting personality, but it doesn’t change the fact that each tidbit of information I mention seems like I’m raising the stakes.

She’s a reality TV star.

From Bad Girls’ Club.

And Love Games.

And she’s filming a pilot this weekend.

Yes, my life turned into that. My roommate is filming a pilot this weekend.

I wrote a sketch for a Second City show that premiered on the main stage this Sunday when I was in Dallas. It was a wonderful thing to be able to tell everyone about, but I wasn’t heartbroken that I missed it. There will be more to come, more to experience, more to contribute.

I met Jane Espenson. I was at a coffee shop with Damon Lindelof (I think, still not sure), and I went to the Paley Center preview nights for three major networks.Hollywood Star

Back in Dallas, I ordered the salad because the takeout is less greasy in LA (this is not to say it is more healthy). I left a half-hour too early for everything because I’m already adjusted to living with the traffic patterns. Gas was $4 a gallon and I considered it a good deal.

But, let’s be completely honest.

The one thing that has really changed about me is that I’m happy.

I love living in Los Angeles. I love what I’m doing in Los Angeles. I am incredibly busy and not everything has moved as fast as I want, but I love it all.

And my last moments were bittersweet. Because, as I said goodbye to my friends, my heart breaking all over again because I already missed them, this time I wasn’t leaving Dallas to move to LA.

I was going home.


Celebrity Spotting

I’d like to dispel a rumor.

There is this…notion…that if you live in Los Angeles, you see celebrities everywhere.

This is simply not the case. I have only seen (identified?) two celebrities since I’ve been here. I am, of course, not counting the ones that I went to an event to see because, let’s be honest, that’s totally cheating.

The first was this guy:Progressive Insurance guy

Yep. The Progessive Insurance guy. He was walking down the street (in a jacket that color, no less) while I was driving. As I passed, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. I knew that guy. I had met him before. But, from where? It wasn’t until later that I realized where I recognized him from.

The second was this guy:

Chord OverstreetWhile I’m not a big Glee fan, it’s on the fringes of my knowledge enough for me to have made the connection when I saw him. He was getting into his shiny, black car outside of our neighborhood Rite Aid. Celebrities are just like us! They have prescriptions!

I’m a little disappointed. At a premiere event for the second season of Scandal, some woman walked the red carpet and my friend whispered to me, “That’s Kerry Washington!”

I had no idea. I’d never seen Scandal before that night (it’s really good; watch it). I had no schema for Kerry Washington or any of the other actors on the show. So, I’m doubly disappointed. Not only have a not spotted many celebrities, I’m not versed enough in the culture to recognize them when I might see them.

When I was in New York, the only celebrity I saw for four months was Scott Adsit. As a huge 30 Rock fan, I recognized him immediately, but, at the time, 30 Rock wasn’t the comedy powerhouse it is today. I mean, it had only won two Primetime Emmys at the point.

I wonder if I would like to try celebrity hunting for a week. That’s sounds a little paparazzi of me, but, hey, it might be fun.

If there was one celebrity you would want to see (without drooling on them), who would it be?


Knowledge is Power

I miss school like a heartache.

I started Second City classes a week ago and I was assigned homework. Granted, it was fun homework (Watch Late Night television, write jokes), but it was still homework. And, as I struggled with why Diet Pepsi, with added ingredients to increase shelf life, deserves the time slot after Larry King, I remembered what it was like to have to do something because a professor told you to.

Second City HollywoodI love school. I love education. Learning new things energizes me. I can only compare it to the feeling when you finish writing a book. I want to run around and strike ballet poses while expressing my joy to inanimate objects. Leap through doorways. Dance with a mop. Just remember that moment when, after struggling over something for hours, your brain finally makes that last connection and it’s like a whole new world is illuminated.

And, it doesn’t matter the topic. Granted, I struggle more with certain subjects, but learning is fascinating. Perhaps I’m intrigued by the impetus of learning that school forces on me. Learn or fail. There’s no other option.

I love homework.

I love hauling out that ten pound textbook and pulling out the highlighter. Poring over that dense writing with no white space. Maybe a diagram every twenty pages…

My roommate, Randy, has gone back to school to become a nurse. Which makes me question whether or not I need to have a direction in mind. What are things that I would like to learn?

I never really met my science needs. I haven’t taken a serious science course since freshman year of college and, face it, rocks aren’t the most difficult of sciences. Geology Isn't a Real Science

Physics is an option. But, I never took to calculus. I need a refresher in that. I could always try to finish out my psych major. In college, I pretended that I didn’t want to conduct social experiments, but I totally do. Human behavior is quite interesting (or maybe I’m just annoyed by all the political posts on my Facebook feed).

Then, there are the humanities. A history course wouldn’t really aim me toward anything except to be more educated in history. But, there is the draw of just taking classes.Textbooks

On a whole different level, perhaps education is my calling. Not necessarily the perpetual student on the level of Buster Bluth, but maybe my destiny is in education. Could I cut it as an associate professor somewhere?

I’m not about to abandon my dream of writing for television yet. All writers are captivated by knowledge. They’re seekers of truth, after all. This doesn’t change the fact that I really want to go listen to a professor.

If you could go back to school, what classes would you take? Answer in the comments to make me feel happy.


An Unspecific Update

I’m bad at earthquakes.

No, seriously.

There have been three earthquakes of substantial (not considerable) size, two while I was asleep that I didn’t even wake up for, and one in the evening that I read a book through without noticing. I mean, geez. The earth is moving beneath me and I laid in my camp bed working my way through whatever latest book I was on…how’s that for sturdy Ikea construction?

Nerdist Writers' PanelAnyway, despite my less-than-stellar earthquake detection, things have been settling down in Los Angeles. I have inadvertently become Jeff Greenstein’s stalker and if he ever finds this, I sincerely apologize. This is a big city; why do I see you everywhere? Not that I’m that disappointed. He usually has great things to say, so still kinda cool.

I made a friend. I know, right? I’m just as surprised as you are. It was quite the chance encounter that started off with:

“You write YA? I write YA! You were at RWA? I was at RWA! You submitted to that agent? That’s my agent!”

Three for three right off the bat.

So, all these things have caused me to have a few reflection periods to catch up with all these developments. Because moving here is the same as living anywhere else with one big difference.

It’s like someone hit the fast forward button.

Five Finger Death Punch ConcertI’m a planner. At least on some level, I like to know what I’m getting into before I throw myself at it, but this has not been the case for LA. The plan has pretty much been: do ALL the things.

So, things I’ve done since the last update:

-Went to a test show for Craig Ferguson. It was not televised, Craig Ferguson wasn’t even there (Geoff was hilarious). I won a t-shirt.

-Ended up at a Five Finger Death Punch concert and the after party at the Roosevelt Hotel

-Spent a day on the UCLA campus looking at the Writers’ Extension program

-Met with a group of LA TV writers for hanging out and things

-Saw Key and Peele at the Nerdist Writers’ Panel

-Restrung a guitar


Making It Up As I Go

I haven’t posted in three weeks, which I apologize for. I’m working at a social media job that has me writing 5,000 words a week in blog posts alone. That isn’t really an excuse, but the blog format does lose some of its mystery when you’re up to your elbows in it everyday. I just didn’t have the moral fortitude to add another six hundred words to that count. I spend those words elsewhere.

Paley Center for Media - Husbands Season 2 PremiereThis blog post has little direction, so let’s use it as a metaphor for my life.

Things in Los Angeles have not settled down. I’ve lived here long enough to have paid two months of rent. My life continues to run a gamut of emotions, which, admittedly, I am not used to. I moved in with Amber, from the Bad  Girls Club, which is sort of amazing. I never expected to be living with a reality TV star (I suppose that’s not something that people would expect, anyway). In many ways, it’s nice to have someone who challenges me to go out and be social. I’m not naturally a social creature.

A huge part of succeeding in Los Angeles is being here. I mean, obviously. How can you work in Los Angeles without living in Los Angeles? Waking up in the morning is surreal. I’ve met interesting people. On Monday, I went to the premiere of Husbands (Season 2 out today!). The event was at the Paley Center for Media, a public event, so much of the crowd was just fans of the show. As the 7pm premiere time drew closer, members of the Buffy and Caprica casts started filing into the theatre.

That’s how it is here, I guess. Or maybe it isn’t. I’m in a place where I have nothing to measure anything against and the thing is, living completely without the ability to measure is normal. Jane Espenson’s advice (which isn’t new, but, c’mon, Jane Espenson said it to ME) “Just…keep putting yourself out there.”

I’m sure she knows how hard that is. How painful that can be. Perhaps it’s creator’s self-doubt or maybe it’s something else, but putting yourself out there is HARD. Standing in a room screaming “NOTICE ME!” while everyone else is doing exactly the same thing is trying. Of course, you can try something different, but that’s no guarantee, either.

But, the point is, momentum. Much like writing this blog post, it just got faster and faster as I went. And, maybe meeting Jane Espenson and Brad Bell at the premiere of Husbands was just another way of putting myself out there.

Don’t miss the first episode of Husbands Season 2 today!


Something we can all enjoy

You know what I love?

My Hulk Hands.

I know. It’s a weird, mysterious love for something that’s a toy. Something dumb and ridiculous, but still amazing. So, let me tell you a story.

Hulk Hands came out with the first (not quite excellent) Hulk movie.  Massive foam-rubber fists that went up to about mid-forearm and made noise when you hit things. You know the ones.

Hulk Hands

At the time, I was young(er). I didn’t have much disposable income, as most of my money went (and still goes) toward books, and begging my parents was really not an option. But, these Hulk Hands were such a Thing of Want, I had to force myself to stay out of the toy aisle. They made my Christmas list, but Santa declined.

When I heard of the new(er) Hulk movie, my heart leapt. There were bound to be tie-in Hulk Hands and now I was old(er) and could drive myself to Target and had my own job and my own money to throw at whatever I deemed worthy. But, what I got was disappointment.

Padded Hulk Hands

What is this noise?

Really? Padded? I was so sad. I couldn’t even…argh. Not foam rubber at all. These were like Stuffed Animal-Hulk Hands. Where were the veins? Why didn’t they look all muscley? Despite my wanting-hunger-pains, I couldn’t bring myself to purchase these…travesties.

Then, Avengers came out. A cardboard Hulk hung from the ceiling, guiding the children (and I) to the toy aisle, promising a glut of superheroics. I followed the decal foot stomps to the back section.

And they were there. One last pair of Hulk Hands. I stared at them. They stared at me. I took a picture of them. I glanced up and down the aisle because I had to TELL someone. I wanted to run through Target and tell everyone that I had found a pair of Hulk Hands. Because they were foam rubber. And green. And muscley. And there were veins.

Hulk Hands

It was so strange. This thing that I had wanted for 8 years was finally within my reach. Those years of not having it didn’t lessen the want, this burning desire for something as trivial as foam rubber fists. I hadn’t assigned any significant meaning to them. I had no attachment to the Hulk, more than a general enthusiasm for all things Marvel. I wasn’t going through something when I first started wanting them.

I know everyone says that material things can’t make you happy, but, guys, my Hulk Hands make me happy. They make me really happy. When I’m said, I put them on and just wear them around the house. I bang them together like a boxer getting ready for a bout. You can’t cry when you’re wearing Hulk Hands.

Perhaps there is some greater meaning behind my Hulk Hands. I mean, we all like to get what we want, right?

But, then again, they’re only toys.

KATE SMASH!


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