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 wrote and helped shoot this one.
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.
I’ve gone Hollywood.
For 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.
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.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of The Avengers. After Hulk smash puny wizard by knocking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II from the top spot for domestic grossing opening weekend, The Avengers is headed for another record breaking weekend. The second weekend will be in the $95-105 million range pummeling current record holder Avatar, which earned $75.6 million in its second weekend.
No film has ever done it faster.
A moneymaker does not an Academy Award make, but Writer/Director Joss Whedon deserves a nod all the same. For at least three categories, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture, here’s why I nominate Joss Whedon for the Academy Award.
BUT BE YE WARNED, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD
1. He made the Hulk work.
When most people walked out of Avengers, the name playing across their lips wasn’t Stark or Loki. It was Hulk. Whedon installed a personality upgrade to the big green rage monster. Hulk wasn’t just fueled by the most brutal of human emotions, which seemed to be the trend of the Hulk’s previous two films, Mark Ruffalo’s CGI monster has a sense of humor.
There’s even a moment when he saves Iron Man’s life and practically shouts him back from the dead. There was plenty of concern pre-release on what role man’s bestial nature would play and if Whedon and Ruffalo could pull it off. They did.
2. He got that cast to make that movie
Let’s crunch some numbers.
Gwyneth Paltrow – Winner Academy Award Best Actress, 1999
Robert Downey Jr – Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, 1992; Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2009
Mark Ruffalo – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2011
Jeremy Renner – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2011; Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, 2010
Samuel L. Jackson – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 1995
That’s six noms, 1 win.
If you’re judged by the company you keep, the Avengers is a pretty good crowd to hang around.
What’s even more impressive: find any interview featuring more than one Avenger and you might get an idea of what it was like to work with these guys day to day. They are impressive. They are hilarious. It’s remarkable they got any work done at all. But, you can tell from the linked interview that Joss Whedon can take control and command the personalities.
I’m moving to Los Angeles.
I’m moving to Los Angeles!
Oh, my God, I’m moving to Los Angeles.
Well, not until later in the year, but reality is setting in and it’s setting in hard. The other day, my dad told me we needed to talk about when we wanted to head out there. To look at apartments. Which I am perfectly capable of doing on my own, but, I mean, come on. What are fathers for if it’s not negotiating real estate? Also, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, I’m sure I can see the Hollywood sign from every window in my apartment no matter where I live.
In other news, sometimes I feel like I’m losing my grip on reality. You know when you watch those movies/read those books where there’s a pretty obvious ticking clock?
So, here’s my trouble.
How do I say good-bye?
I made a new friend (which is amazing, by the way) and she is going to school at MIT. In Boston! And, despite the distance, we have kept up our friendship through Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.
But what about the others?
I honestly can’t remember who I had this conversation with, so, if it was you, let me know.
“I’m leaving.” Me
“Okay. So?” You.
“I feel like I’m trying to cut off all my connections because it doesn’t hurt as much when I finally go.”
“That’s how it’s always been.”
“Yeah, but you have roots here. But, your parents are here.”
“I might be the one keeping them here. When I leave, they really have no reason to stay.”
So, here’s this.