For Brittany

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I used to be a pretty petty, jealous person. Hopefully by being self aware enough to see how much of this type of person I was in the past, I can truthfully say that I’ve grown. I’m usually able to see when these old patterns and thoughts creep back up and keep them at bay. But that skill has taken years of work and practice. It used to be second nature for me to judge and dislike people, especially those who were really similar to me.

I don’t know why. Then again, we never really know why we make the choices we do, do we? Especially when they end up making us unbalanced, unsatisfied, and unhappy. Those are always the most confusing of the choices. I heard once in a movie it’s because humans are self destructive by nature. But that movie was fiction so I refuse to believe it (even though there might have been enough truth in the statement to make me at least remember it years later).

I got thinking about how silly this pettiness is recently when I heard a girl I knew (who I used to be jealous of) took her own life.

I’ve always known life is short and precious. And I’ve usually at least attempted to keep a positive perspective and to recognize that we are all on our own paths. But when I met Brittany, I was in a much more insecure internal place and it was in an insecure external environment. I genuinely liked her. And I admired her work. I thought she was funny and talented and really nice. But I was jealous because she was younger than me and I saw her as a threat. I thought there can only be one adorable, young, funny, talented midwesterner in the room. How dare she take that throne from me. How dare she be better at some of the creative exercises we were doing. How dare she smile so much and be so friendly with everyone.

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brittanybelland/Instagram

How gross this all feels to admit it later.

I got to know her throughout the course of our class and became aware that she was actually as nice as she seemed. That let some of my jealousy dissipate. Of course, it didn’t help that the class was set up as a cut-throat pass or fail style course that made you feel like everyone in the class was your competition (even though that’s not how either comedy or life actually works).

Anyway, we were Facebook friends for a while and pleasant acquaintances. As I distanced myself from the theater that had made me so competitive and worked a bit on my own perspective, I became more supportive and excited for her when I saw she was working. I’d see her in commercials or stuff would pop up on social media. I realized that I had a lot more in common with her than I ever had to criticize, and began quietly cheering on her successes.

Several years later, a group she was in hosted a comedy night and invited me to perform. It was actually a friend of hers in the group who asked me to come, but I was pleasantly surprised when Brittany was at the show. They called it a “House Party” and spent the first hour of the show pretending their parents were out of town and they needed to drink like high schoolers. I walked in on Brittany chugging beer in flip cup and laughing while cheering the rest of her team on. She gave me a hug and was as happy to see me as I was to see her.

After the show, which was a lot of fun, she gave me a ton of compliments on how my style has grown and changed and strengthened since we last saw each other.

She was a genuinely nice human being. And this past fall, she took her own life, losing an ongoing and open battle she had to depression.

Just a couple months before, she had staged a one-woman show that gave all its proceeds to suicide prevention charities.

The news hit me hard not because we were close, but because I realized that a bright light had been extinguished from the world at a time when we need all the light we can get. And I kicked myself for ever having wasted any time or energy being “jealous” of this incredible human. Every moment I spent quietly stewing could have been spent being grateful to be around someone so inspiring.

But above all the personal stuff, the news hit me hard as a reminder that you simply don’t know what’s happening in someone’s personal life. Though Brittany was open about her struggles with depression, even championing causes to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She was smiling and seemingly happy. Yet she fought hard against her mental illness, eventually losing the battle.

For those of us who are lucky enough to have brains that don’t rebel on such a massive level on a daily basis, we can’t fathom what it must feel like to feel so low that you just want it to be over. And yet, as humans, we all need to have empathy and recognize each one of us is on our own journey, fighting our own battles, and here on this earth for a blink of an eye.

So there’s no need to waste any of that time looking at your fellow soul-travelers with envy. See them for the bright shining lights they are and know that every little bit of light can help illuminate someone else so they can see more clearly. And they, in turn, can help illuminate your path when you’re fighting your own darkness.

Brittany will be missed intensely by those who knew her well. And as for people like me who only got to know her in passing, she will continue to be a beautiful inspiration and a reminder to be kind to everyone because, seriously, you just never know.

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Military Pals

I’m very close to a lot of military people. I talk about one in particular, and I have a father who served in the Air Force and a Grandfather who was active duty in the Navy during WWII, plus a lot of my closest friends in college were in the Army ROTC program. I was so close to these guys, in fact, that I wrote them a special segment in my college magnum opus, Xavier: The Musical:

When people first read the script, they were like, “There’s no way you’re gonna get these guys to do that. They’ll be insulted.”

In reality, my Army friends were like “How come we don’t get to sing along too?”

I think about my military friends a lot. Their discipline and commitment are inspirations to my own work. I think about them even more on Memorial Day. There are a lot of people I never knew who have given the ultimate gift of their lives to a bigger philosophy so that others may continue to pursue their own happiness. There are even a few I do know. And I am grateful to have known them and let their sacrifice remind me that life is short and beautiful and we should all be so lucky to know what gives us a feeling of purpose in this life and have the opportunity to pursue it.

So thank you, military friends young and old. Thank you for your service. And thank you for your sacrifice. And thank you for inspiring me to keep doing variation on fart jokes, since you guys seem to really love ’em.

So Much Partner, Talk!

partners_backgroundI’ve been working on lots of projects lately. Which means I’ve had lots of partners. And I got to thinking about it. Then I got to writing about it. And then I got to publishing the writings about it. And now I’m sharing it with you.

3 Characteristics of a Good Partnership – Ms. In the Biz

And now I’m gonna go keep working on things. Perchance and perhaps you should do the same.

 

It’s the Journey

journeyForgive me in advance for the lack of details on this post. I want to convey the idea behind it without relaying every detail of my personal life. Believe it or not, I can actually be private about my personal life when I want to be (and I usually want to be).

But here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. Just like that cheesy (but very true) saying “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime,” I think some creative projects can be the same way. Every project you do may or may not have a lasting result (if it’s ever even completed). But you can always learn something and improve as a result of doing it.

I did a project not long ago. I came up with an idea, called together a crew of people to help me make it a reality, invested a lot of time and money into its creation, and was pretty proud of the result.

Then some things happened. And it made me not want to do the project anymore, despite the fact that I had a bunch of things ready to show the world. I just didn’t have the heart to continue investing anymore time and energy into something that had so fundamentally changed in me. The (excellent) quality of the product remains the same. And that’s the hardest part to deal with. I really want to continue with it, but I just no longer believe in it. I don’t have it in me. I have to step away. I’ll be a healthier, happier person if I just let it go and open myself up to the next great thing rather than try and fix something that I know is broken and no longer serves me.

And it took me a while to come to terms with that. But once I did, I realized that the creation of the project- even though it didn’t last very long in reality- was the important part. I will always have the memories and friendships I made while working on the project. I will always have the stuff to enjoy myself and be reminded of my own work and lessons learned about it. I will always have the memories made each step of the way.

So don’t worry about the outcome, friends. Never stop creating. And don’t you ever stop believin’.

Western Love

eastwood_good_uglyI’m currently obsessed with Westerns

Truth be told, I’m almost always obsessed with something, so this is actually a healthier obsession than some of the ones in my past…

Long story short: I did a project for a festival and met a guy who loves Westerns. He suggested we do a comedy western. I was like, “Sure!” He met my main man, they got along splendidly, and now we’re going to go shoot a short comedy Western I wrote in a couple weeks.

Because life is pretty cool like that.

I’m so excited. So I’ve been watching a series of classic westerns to prepare. And I’m getting into them. Like… real into them. As in, sit at home on weekend nights, watch cowboy movies, and walk around (my studio apartment in Los Angeles) pretending to glare down my (invisible) opponent and grasp my (also invisible) gun.

So if you need me, I’ll be in the Wild Wild West of my imagination for the next couple weeks. Please be patient with me, partner. When I return, I’ll be your Huckleberry.

My REAL Fitness Pal

bestiesI’m trying it again. If you recall, I think My Fitness Pal is a jerk. But, as I mentioned earlier in this week, I’m on a Data Diet. And because I can’t fork up the big bucks for a personal trainer or a personalized diet and fitness coach yet, I’m gonna give this asshole app another try. But this time, I’ve enlisted help from a friend.

My friend let me stay with him for Comic Con and we were lucky enough to get to hang out almost all weekend. And he got to meet Data, too. And he was as inspired to get into shape as I am. So we talked about it and decided we’d get each other’s backs and do this dumb Fitness Pal thing again.

So I made him my friend on there (the only one I have because I don’t like sharing all my information with everyone- contrary to the impression this website may give…). I can see how he’s doing and he can see how I’m doing. And because I don’t see him every day and only chat with him periodically, it could be perfect. I’m gonna assume he’s working hard at his diet and exercise and he’ll assume the same for me. And we can check in with each other’s progress on the app. And provide moral support when needed. And not let each other get away with excuses.

At least that’s the hope. We’ll see how it goes…

 

Talented Friends

ellen picNot to brag… but I have some really friggin talented friends.

I’m consistently blown away by the sheer level of talent that I’m constantly surrounded by. They’re not Oscar nominees like the people in the picture. But it’s only a matter of time before we all take our own selfie at our own award show we created through on our own terms. Also it’d be nice to go to the Oscars.

I have friends who I can call up and say “I wanna do this thing and I was wondering if you could make it kinda like this weird feeling but also make it not weird,” and they’re like “Yep. Totally understand your language. You got it.” I have other friends who are like, “I wanna do this incredible idea for a fun web series and wondered if you’d wanna hop on the wagon? Here’s the exciting and hilarious outline I came up with,” and I’m like, “Yep. It’s an honor. You got it.”

I know people who cam make rooms of hundreds of people laugh for a solid hour by just telling jokes. I know people who can turn their pain into entertainment and make people far away from them feel connected. I know people who turn their parking tickets into an art project as a reminder that even something negative can be turned into something entertaining. I know people who are creative and hard-working attorneys, who will go to bat all hours of the day for their client no matter what the circumstance. I know people who make a simple event like signing a contract a whole 24-hour party because they know how to get the most out of life.I know people who put their life on the line in military service because they believe in serving something bigger than themselves. I know people who can edit a story to make it even more hilarious than anything that could possibly be written or filmed. I know people who I can share an idea with and will throw out three things that will inspire and invigorate me further.

And that’s not even scratching the surface.

It’s not always easy to constantly reaffirm that choosing this life in LA, this life of entertainment, and this life of project-based long-term investments is worth it. There are tough times financially, physically, and emotionally for sure.

But it’s a whole lot easier by being constantly inspired by the incredible level of warmth and creativity and talent that surround me- both near and far. (Wherever you are...)

As for the people I don’t like who are doing well… whatever. Share some success with the rest of us…assholes.

 

Birds of a Feather

birdsI saw two ladies at the gym the other day. They were obviously friends.

How do I know?

They were two birds of a feather.

They walked in together. They both had perky ponytails on the top of their head. They had tight black pants with colorful bottoms that matched their colorful shoes. One had a large colorful tank top that barely covered her colorful sports bra. The other just wore a colorful sports bra. They both had colorful Beats by Dre headphones they they played while they worked out. And they worked out together. Side by side. Doing basically the same exercises. At basically the same time.

It was colorfully adorable. If you’re into that thing.

I’m more of a gym loner. I prefer silently stare at people, listen to my podcasts, and live in my imagination for a while without interruption.

But mostly, I don’t have anyone to dress up all matchy matchy with me and go gymming before we (obviously) go clubbing. That’s what I assume you do if you dress up and go to the gym together. You immediately dress up in matching colorful tight dresses and high heels and go dance non-chalantly in a corner of a club.

Do clubs have corners? I don’t know. I spend my Saturday nights reading about monkeys, petting dogs, and prepping poorly thought-out blog posts.

This is getting weird. I’m gonna stop now.

Coordination Station, Clase

photo2When I was in high school, one of my spanish teachers would always rhyme things then say “clase.” I think she’d be proud of my little rhyme in this subject line.

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She always also said, “Bad news bears, clase. Bad news bears.” And she flailed her hands a lot. And we all had spanish nick-names while in class. Mine was “Chita.” She would say, “Don’t be a cheat-ah, Chita. Get it, clase? No cheat-ah, Chita.” Then she’d giggle profusely.

 

The more I think about it, maybe there’s a reason my spanish isn’t better…

I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently filming my web series The Other Client List. This past weekend was one of our businest filming weekends yet because we had tons of people and places I needed to coordinate. It was a bit insane. Tons of people came out of the woodwork to help in lots of different capacities.

 

 

We got the majority of our major scenes done and put ourselves in a position to essentially be finished filming the series with only one more shoot date this upcoming Saturday.Anyway, I’m not writing to tell you about Sra. Jones. I’m writing to tell you about how fun and magical it is to coordinate a ton of people.

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WHOA.

Every little piece has to be in the right place, otherwise the whole project is off. And every single person you see on that screen helped screw in a little bit.This whole process has been an amazing learning experience. I have a new respect for the amount of work and organization and gumption it actually takes to make these projects a reality. I will never again leave a movie theater before the end of credits because very single one of those people was an essential part to the major production.

 

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So screw you if you overlook them. Next time you need help, I hope you’re screwed.

So thank you to the wonderful screwballs who came to help out this weekend.I don’t hope that at all. I just wanted to use “screw” again and it seemed appropriate.

You kept us from being screwed.

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…alright. I’ll stop with the “screw” words.

 

This is becoming pretty screwy.

 

(giggle giggle giggle)

Episode 53: Friendship – Show Notes

old cowboy

In this episode of Femoir: The Podcast, I start with a story about my grandpa saying, “I’m particular about my company.” From all the pictures I’ve seen, he looked a lot like this guy.

I talked about how I didn’t experience a lot of cliques in the schools I went to while growing up. Those schools were Sycamore School and BJPS, for anyone interested.

I also talk about how grateful I am to some of the friends in my life. For anyone who missed it, here are some of the articles I’ve written recently:

My Bop, Love Letter, Making Dreams Come True, Lucky Lady

I also referenced my web series I’m filming that so many friends are involved with. It’s called The Other Client List. Check it out!

Don’t forget to subscribe for free on iTunes!