It’s weird when life hands you lemons. And you’re like, “Sour yellow fruit.” And everyone says you’re supposed to make lemonade and there’s this big metaphor and it makes you feel better, or, usually, doesn’t.
It’s weirder when life hands you lemons and you look around and think, “Well, shit. Turns out that’s the only ingredient I was missing.”
I was recently laid off from my job. They gave me three weeks of warning, which is a fair amount of time and gave me the security of rent for another month, if not car and student loan payments. I made the preemptive call to my parents. Not quite an SOS. Just making sure the channel is open. Because we see an iceberg coming and we don’t know if we can avoid it. With years of experience in the job market, they have the context to know what to expect.
There was the rush of calculation. How much money do I need to survive? How many years of experience? Am I even good at anything? I had the same job for 6 years and now it’s gone. There’s no paycheck. There’s no clocking in. If I have to move back to Texas…I won’t move back to Texas. I will become homeless before that happens.
In three days, I applied for a California driver’s license and became a Lyft driver, thinking, “It’s something.”
I applied for jobs. Hundreds of jobs. Tons and tons of jobs. Maybe one in a hundred got me an interview.
I didn’t really realize anything was wrong until I met with a rep at a temp agency. I gave him my salary requirements, more than I made at my last job, and he laughed. He literally laughed out loud and said to me, “You’re being robbed.”
It was a sobering moment. I didn’t particularly like or dislike my previous job. It was something I did. It was something I did well. It was something I was paid to do, but I didn’t know I was being robbed.
Then, I got a paycheck from Lyft.
I was being robbed. Driving my car for 10 hours over the course of two days netted me over $200. I can make $20 an hour if I drive smart. Plus, fuel rewards were saving me on every fill-up, I was meeting and talking to interesting people, I was getting to know Los Angeles better than I’ve ever known. Lyft is the best job I’ve ever had.
A 9 to 5 job interview came up and I actually had to weigh the options of accepting a “real job” position over just driving my car whenever I felt like it because the material rewards were balanced.
I mean, when was the last time I had to sit down and think, “What am I doing with my life?” That kind of thing is left to college students who have the luxury of wasting time.
A slow realization has dawned.
Getting laid off may have been the best thing that happened to me.
It’s an interesting feeling to be handed lemons and open the cupboard to find sugar, a juicer, filtered water, and a frosty pitcher staring at me like, “Where you been?”
Or, maybe the ingredients for some sort of lemon salad. I could really go for a lemon ice right now…
I bought a Couch.
Now, at the risk of the post digressing into “The Many Sofas of Your Lifetime,” let’s rewind and talk about the significance of couch purchasing. Before January of 2015, I only lived with people who already owned couches. My butt is not so discerning. Most couches are all comfortable. The only thing is, none of these couches were MINE. These were the couches of others. The sofas they had chosen. My butt was a guest upon their cushions.
Now, every time someone comes over, they’re butt is my guest.
Another thing about this Couch is the…officiallity of it. While I’m not particularly proud of this, I took some comfort in the fact that I could pack everything I owned into a car and move it. When I first came to LA, it was with everything I could carry. The next move only took three big trips to get everything out. No moving vans. No truck rentals.
But, now, the Couch.
The Couch cannot be shoved into the back of a hatchback. The Couch is the death knell of the notion that I could simply fill up the car and drive back to Texas. If I move again, the Couch will require help. The Couch will require two people to move it. The Couch is practically insistent upon itself, for, if I ever desire to move without hiring someone, I will most likely call on someone who has been a guest-butt on said Couch. For, if I do not have that help, the Couch goes into the garbage (I’m not a fan of used upholstered furniture, and wouldn’t sell it).
The purchase of the Couch is a milestone. And adulthood achievement. So, what comes next? What is the next marker in the adulthood road map? Because it took me 28 years to get to this one, and I would appreciate some kind of time estimate.
Now, I just need to figure out what to name it…
Finished painting the test piece. We did a base coat of plasti dip so the spray paint would have something to adhere to, added some scrollwork, then spray painted with antique pewter color spray paint.
Before you think I’m fast and loose about handing out movie recommendations, I only write about movies that I like. I subscribe to the “if you don’t have anything nice to say” doctrine because why waste time on things I don’t like?
That being said, the obvious direction of this post is this: go see Frozen.
If it’s humanly possible, drop what you’re doing and go see it right now.
Honestly, I’m not kidding. Get up. Buy a ticket. Get to the theater. See this movie.
The rest of this post is spoilers.
In a little over a year of living in Los Angeles, I now have two official IMDB credits to my name. Check it out.
I have a dream. I don’t often talk about my dream publicly. I mean, my friends know. And my family knows. And I’m always striving, always working toward that goal. I think I have a sort of weird knock on wood mentality about my dream, like if I say it out loud, it won’t come true. It’s something that I have to keep on the inside, something that’s my own.
Before you think you know what it is, it’s not being a “writer.” Saying I want to be a writer is like saying I want to be biologically classified Homo sapien. I’ve had a problem with the word aspiring for a long time, especially as it pertains to writers. Are you writing? Yes. Are you actively pursuing a career as a writer? Yes. Than you’re a writer. If you label yourself as aspiring, my first assumption is that you’ve never actually finished writing anything that doesn’t begin with the words, “Dear Diary.”
In Hollywood, it’s weird. There’s a “who do you want to be” atmosphere that I finally reached the breaking point with.
So, here are some things I’ve learned about dreaming, straight from Hollywoodland.
1) Celebrate the victories
My dream is huge. It takes a lot of steps. Usually, when someone asks me what my dream is, I only tell them the current plateau I’m headed for. Like “head writer” or “created by.”
I have a problem taking compliments. When someone tells me they like something I’ve written, the dreamer in me reminds me that this isn’t the peak I’ve dreamed. This is a road sign to blow past. But, that’s not really the case. I’m working on celebrating these moments of compliment, because I know where they come from. Rather than answer with an I’m not there yet, I take them in stride and acknowledge and appreciate them.
2) Dreams are hard
When I told people I was moving to Los Angeles to pursue my dream, I got a lot of reactions. Most of them started with “You’re so brave.” I suppose that’s a compliment, but it struck me as odd. I didn’t think I was brave at all. I was simply doing that which was necessary to achieve what I wanted.
So, step two is to understand that some people find out that their dream is hard, and they stop going for it. There are other people that don’t acknowledge that part of their dream. There is no hard, there is only an obstacle that has to be surmounted. If you get stuck on the hard, you need to either reevaluate or quit.
3) Aspirations are misleading
So often, people want the simple answer. The question isn’t so much what as it is who. Who do you want to be?
I don’t have an answer for that. I want to be myself. I don’t want to compare myself to other people. So, Tina Fey? No. Tina Fey can be Tina Fey. I will not be better at being Tina Fey than Tina Fey is. Jane Espenson? Closer, but no. I would not make a very good Jane Espenson. (I love Jane Espenson and have the utmost respect for her.)
I understand why this is a question that people ask. It’s the same reason they have to take complex scientific theories on sci fi shows and distill them to clumsy analogies that are simple enough for a largely unscientific audience to understand.
Regardless, stop comparing me to other people. Our dreams might not be the same, and even if they were, everyone’s path is different.
4) Reputation is currency
I suppose this could be specific to my field, but I don’t think so. It’s a little bit karma, but mostly attitude. If you go out to meet people, get to know people, connect with people on a basic level, you will develop a reputation of being kind. I know myself enough that I am often considered aloof and disinterested. I’m not. I’m fully engaged, I just usually enter a receptive state.
Yes, I’m listening. But my face is apathetic. Understanding my aloofness, I have to remind my face to do things when I’m talking to people. Be aware of what you’re putting out there. People might talk about you. You don’t want them to say bad things.
That’s what I’ve learned so far. It’s a work in progress.