Retro Active

It’s all well and good to be confident, forward thinking, and motivated to construct your own destiny, in fact it’s very good. But if who we are is the sum of who we have been and our dreams of who we want to be, then our pasts cannot be ignored. More worrisome, sometimes the past cannot be avoided.

We spend our lives amassing a network of friends, coworkers, and even family that become the framework of your future, and who give you something to talk about at cocktail parties. But what about when the framework seems to be constantly forming more durable and reinforced bonds in the wrong direction? Is it even possible to rip apart the welded bonds of your past to restructure your destiny? Both the easiest and the most difficult way to accomplish this is to abandon your old life altogether and start from scratch, which is both freeing and terrifying. It’s also nearly impossible with modern technology, but you can still achieve a fair approximation of it if you’re brave.


The more reasonable option to get yourself back on course has to start with knowing where, exactly, you would rather be. So much easier to plan out a path when you have a destination. On paper all of this makes a whole lot of sense, but the real challenge comes when you have to emotionally distance yourself from the life that is holding you back to seize the one you want with both hands- and the optimistic hope that it will all work out the way you want it to.

Risking everything to go after what you want is one of the most terrifying things you can do, but in my experience it is also the most fulfilling and rewarding. It almost never happens the way that you envision it, but I can’t say that I have ever come to regret throwing caution to the wind either.

Make a plan. Keep your (emotional) baggage limited to a small carry on. And take a chance.

How To Get Ready for (Almost) Anything While Driving

 There are some basic requirements for accomplishing effective and productive activities, in the car, while driving, without murdering yourself and others. These directions are meant for situations where you are alone in your car, otherwise, make your passenger useful.

First, you must do them without the use of the mirrors. While it may seem as though rear and side view mirrors were designed to check your makeup in, they are for death prevention, and this is never more true than when you plan to use one or more hands for alternate activities.

Second, you must have a plan. You do not suddenly decide to change into skinny jeans and a turtleneck top at a red light and go for it. The guy in the car next will be very entertained when he sees you half-naked, with your bun trapped in the neck hole and a pant leg slung over your shoulder when the lights turn green, but other than that nothing good will happen.

Third, your plan will change entirely depending on whether you are traversing city blocks or highways. If you’re going to be stopping at lights and signs then that is the best moment to do anything that temporarily blinds you or otherwise occupies your sight, and the time to do anything that requires large motions (i.e. diving behind the driver’s seat). If you are on the freeway then these things must be timed in accordance with the moments of most predictable traffic speed and movement. NOT when everyone is changing lanes to get on the right freeway. NOT on the curvy parts. And, just generally, NOT when it is raining. Also, don’t touch your cell phone.

Since I brought it up, lets start with Changing Clothes in the car.

Step One is to get the clothes you would like to be wearing into the passenger seat. Depending on the length of the light you may also have time for step two, pile them face down in the order you are going to put them on. Put cardigan on the bottom, then dress, etc. It’s up to you, but in the case of a jeans/top combo I tend to do pants after shirt.

Step Three, undo everything you are currently wearing. I am not terribly coordinated but can usually manage to unbutton and zip while in motion without a problem. Please keep one hand on the wheel though.

Step Four, take it off. Not everything, just the first thing you’re going to change, even if you’re changing into a dress, you can put it on over pants and still take them off after. If you’re switching dress to dress, go fast. Now, you are taking your clothes off while surrounded by windows so there’s a fair chance someone is going to see you partially dressed for a moment. Since life is not a romantic comedy though, you will not know them and no one will care. Generally you’re only going down to underwear, and worst case scenario someone honks appreciatively. Do not be so freaked out that you don’t have a shirt on for two seconds that you stop important driving things, like stopping. Not dying comes first.

Step Five, put some clothes on! It can be very freeing to drive around in your bra, but you probably have a mission, or you wouldn’t be changing while driving. Once safety is assured, whip the neck hole of the shirt over your head. You can deal with sleeves later, but not blinding yourself is most important. If there are tricky strappy thingies then arrange these over your wrists, slowly, before the whipping. Then put your arms in their proper places. With turtlenecks you want to stick both hands through the top and let the shirt fall inside out over your arms before popping over your head at the opportune moment.

Step Six(maybe) is for pants. Pants must be done in stages, both on and off, or you will die. First, off the butt, then, off the knees- using a wriggling motion and one hand. Ideally, take off one foot at a time when the car is stopped (do NOT forget that one foot needs to remain on the brake), you may be able to manage both, but don’t attempt if wearing skinny jeans. Anything you take off should then be tossed into the backseat to avoid tangling and confusion. To put pants on, it’s helpful if you’re flexible so that you can bring your foot to you and keep your eyes on the road. Good news about this is that if you find you could get your pants off, but suck at putting them on people can’t tell and there will eventually be a good time to pop your foot in there. One feet are in, it’s just a reverse of the wriggling process. And remember, only use one hand to help, even if it takes longer. Rushing will not help you.

Step Seven is for shoes. Use a hand to take them off and put them on. It seems like a great idea to kick them off, or toss them down by your feet until one gets stuck on a pedal. Try to get heels on before you reach the valet. Make sure your ass is covered before you get out of the car, but otherwise wait to check yourself out until exiting the car and checking the reflection in the window.

It seems complicated, but it’s not if you take your time. Please don’t die half-naked.

Now, Makeup.

Step One, put the makeup you want to use in a cup holder or your lip gloss will escape into the black void between the seat and the center console.

Step Two, only apply mascara at red lights. Otherwise, wait until you’re parked. You are never going to get the depth perception right without a mirror and you are going to poke yourself in the eye and crash into me. Everything else can be done the way you normally do, while moving, without looking at a mirror. If a fork can find your lips so can a lip gloss wand. Even eyeliner can be done – but only after lots of practice, don’t attempt that for the first time before a job interview unless you have a really great lie about babysitting ready.

Generally makeup is not so vital that you need to be doing it in your car; the guys at work are ugly and not worth it. But before being interviewed, seeing family, or otherwise brutally judged please do it safely.

Lastly, Eating (without wearing your lunch).

Step One, do not order soup. Some foods are not meant to be eaten while driving, you must accept this. That said, I keep goldfish crackers, granola bars, and fruit snacks stashed all over my car at all times. Along with a bottle of water, mini-lotion, hand sanitizer, a hair brush (I ALWAYS forget one when I go anywhere), a tire gauge, and a spoon. I like to be ready. To prepare for car eating, I always put my hair up. Everything else is against you, don’t make it harder.

Step Two, napkins. Unless it is one of the above foods which you do not need directions to eat, and you don’t want people to think you have the motor skills of a toddler, cover anything that might get dribbled on with napkins. Never assume everything will be fine. When eating burgers and sandwiches it’s best to get no sauce (and your cheeseburger really doesn’t need mayo). Good to put the fries in the cup holder because taking them out of the bag individually seems to precipitate a fling all over the car motion when you’re not looking. If you have a passenger, just make them feed you. If fries do end up in the void, send Barbie. For some reason Barbie’s hair will attach to the french fries and retrieve them, thus saving you from old fry smell.

Remember to always pay more attention to the road than your food. Be willing to toss whatever is in your hand to react to emergency situations; that is why God made Windex.

Please practice safe multitasking! I am out there driving, too, and if you hit me because you were trying to save your fro-yo, I will end you.

Dating Your Boss

Interviews and dating are exactly the same. You get a call, and someone would like to see you at a predetermined time, preferably looking slightly better than you usually do, to ask you a bunch of personal questions before deciding whether or not they want to commit to spending any more time with you. And you show up and smile and try not to sweat too much while being witty and charming and memorable, concentrating on not accidentally flinging a pen and/or fork at your interrogator. Then you go home, change your shirt, and eat a cake. While you wait for a call that maybe, hopefully they want a second date. Or, dare to dream, they ask you to go steady! And then you have five days a week of repetitive phone calls to look forward to. But then it could all go the other way. No call at all and you just sit there, with your hands clenched, planning alternate futures that all hinge on this one virtual stranger calling you, until you finally consider the one that’s already happening and regret having suppressed that fork flinging impulse. Or, in the rare, mature case you get an email full of lies about how much they like you that ends with “I didn’t pick you”.

If you’re really lucky it’s a blind date and someone who claims to care about you goes out of their way to do you a “favor” by setting you up with their friend, or more likely, some random person they met, and you are now obligated to follow through with this extra strange stranger on pain of ruining your friendship. Now there’s the stress of alienating someone you already decided you like as well as this new goober that you didn’t even get the opportunity to vet for mildly acceptable taste and manners. In all likelihood he does not possess either of those things and now you not only have to extricate yourself from having to talk to this person more than once, but have to deal with the issue of why your friend hates you so much that they wanted to torture you psychologically with the penultimate socially awkward scenario. Now you’re mad, and you feel trapped, and you’re wearing heels for no reason.

Absolutely no part of these scenarios are different when dealing with a potential employer, except (with few exemptions- I hope) the sexpectations. When finally leaving the office I’ve personally never had an interviewer try to stick their tongue down my throat just in case I was into it. Hopefully you want something different from a date than an interviewer, but I’m not one to judge. I don’t have any suggestions for improvement when it comes to dating or interviews, especially since  I’m really not very good at either of them, but I’d be lying if I hadn’t considered the advantages of selling crocheted blankets out of my parents back room and exclusively making out with drunk guys.

And people wonder how I could possibly be single and unemployed.

Broken Record

This is not going to be new. But if I have to continue living with it, then you can continue reading about it.

On a day when I definitely needed it I was treated to the profound ego boost that is being asked out while standing in line for salad. Sadly, the gentleman prefaced his request by pulling his pants down to show me his underwear. I informed the servers that my salad should be nowhere near his salad at any point in time. The scariest part of this story is that I was criticized for turning him down too readily. I realize it’s been a while since I’ve had an even slightly normal experience with a male person, but throwing the “don’t-show-me-your-underwear-in-eating-establishments” standard out the window is not an option. Sorry, boys.

Now I’m back to the hopeless endeavor of randomly bumping into someone charming and attractive while substitute teaching. For some reason eligible bachelors are not often found in public school classrooms. And the few that work there are married. Because that is the unspoken rule of teachers.

Until I cave to the threat/inevitability of grad school, or am hired to write things, I will continue taking a super long time waiting for my lattes and praying that no one feels the need to start stripping in a show of affection. And I will also take into consideration that my stripping in public might be rewarded with a more positive reaction. No promises.

You Kiss Badly

There has been a thorough appreciation of amazing kissers on this blog (since it’s inception almost a year ago, Happy Birthday HillaryofTroy!!) but a willful ignorance of those who, by all accounts, are physically incapable of kissing someone in a manner that is enjoyable. This is about the bad kissers of the world, with a little indignant ranting about their introduction into my life.

I had no idea how lucky I was. Up until about a year ago every guy I’d kissed seemed to know what he was about and this came to be my expectation from anyone with the audacity to invade my personal space- and my mouth. Which I still consider to be reasonable. Sadly, there have been a few guys lately who have fallen far short, and it made me think that these sad specimens of masculinity may be in the majority, running rampant and ruining otherwise lovely evenings. It turns out everyone has encountered bad kissers and yet I had no idea what I was in for with guys who licked my cheek, bit my lip (like really hard- there was a bruise), and made a good try at suffocating me with their tongue. Why would anyone find that fun?

To be fair I can’t be upset that no one has told these people what a menace to romantically inclined social interaction they are because I didn’t say anything either. I was selfishly concerned with the welfare of my face. And yet, I still don’t understand how one makes it to their twenties thinking that this sort of behavior is acceptable. There can’t be anyone who puts up with this kind of thing more than once (I’m a big fan of the “never ever answer your calls” method), which I’d think might lead to a little self-reflection, but apparently not. So, for those persons, when in doubt, keep it simple. You’ve just met this girl. For whatever reason she has tolerated your company for some period of time without excessive trips to the bathroom and people across the room she needs to speak to. Then again, that could be assuming a lot, perhaps you’ve thrown the nearest female up against a handy flat surface, in which case, I have to say from experience, that you really ought to make it worth her while. Either way, your fancy tricks are unappreciated as you are executing them very very badly to the chagrin of all involved. Thanks for your interest, please move on. I hate to fall back on cliches without a good excuse, or to call any well meaning gentleman a frog, but if the slime fits…

My future paramours are probably not going to read this warning, but I can only hope that the tide of my romantic luck will change for the better. And wish the talented kissers of the world will find you, too.

Happy kissing xxxx

5 Ways You Know You’re A Hollywood Assistant

As if it’s the kind of thing you wouldn’t notice…

1) You have spilled coffee…all over the roof of your car. And the passenger seat. And every floor mat you own, including those in the trunk. When you do a coffee run almost everyday with anywhere from 4-14 orders and you transport them in your car a fair percentage makes it outside of the stupid containers. Doesn’t matter how much you think you’ve perfected the art of balancing the trays and making them all support one another while you drive, it’s going to end up everywhere. Speed bumps arise out of nowhere and all your planning is for naught.

2) You have forgotten how to sleep. This is not to say that you don’t sleep- we’re not some breed of insomniac vampires. But you no longer get that way under your own power, with any kind of forethought, or with any regularity. You work more than twelve hours a day – how much more being entirely dependent on your boss(es)- which means that the moment you get somewhere where you don’t have to be alert to the needs and whims of everyone around you, you basically collapse. You’re body has run the marathon and there is nothing left. I’ve woken up a few times (luckily, I seem to make it to my bed most of the time) with one leg of my jeans still on and my bra unhooked, but still more or less in place. This is because sleeping becomes an involuntary and sudden loss of energy and control that results in unconsciousness as opposed to anything you’d actually get ready for. Thus, the art and practice of ‘going to sleep’ is lost on you entirely.

3)All of your stories about going out and seeing your family start with “So there was this time a while back…” because you haven’t actually seen anyone on a social basis that wasn’t also an excuse to network in years. Or at least the equivalent of years because you’re awake so goddamn much.

4)You’ve done things deemed ‘strange’  by the world at large because it’s your job. Jack (of all trades) is a lazy asshole compared to all of things that you do. Feeding, dog walking, nursing, typing, calling, faxing, cleaning, running errands, answering phones, running for no apparent reason, researching funny names for cat shelters, filing, coddling, and coloring. And then there’s the odd tasks. Somehow all of it is entirely normal until you realize that other people’s ‘water cooler’ stories actually have something to do with a water cooler.

5) You have regularly scheduled nervous breakdowns. Your main focus is to organize and operate the lives of others, therefore, taking care of your own life is tertiary at best. I’m lucky if I have time to deposit my own paycheck. The stress levels, sleep deprivation, and constancy of awareness all add up to an unavoidable nervous breakdown – most likely more than one. But you can’t afford to have that kind of loss of control when you have other things and people to worry about. So you find ways to stave them off and very conveniently schedule blocks of time in advance in which to irrationally cry and break things and imagine yourself being sucked into a void of blackness. And then you get over it and go back to work.

Because we are the future of LA goddamn it. And one day we will have our own assistants to subject to all of this while we concentrate our obsessions and intelligence verified by $100,000 degrees on worthwhile problems like why our characters keep cheating on one another. And we love every minute.

No, thank you, Mr.Collins

In the ultimate confluence of Anglophilia, literary intelligentsia, and my magnetism for crazy I’ve come to the conclusion that the Mr.Collins’ of the world need to leave me the fuck alone. Much like Eliza Bennet in Pride & Prejudice I seem to have been chosen as the adequate parter in life, without my consent, and most assuredly without my interest, by men who are under the mistaken impression that I am up for grabs. Mr. Collins speaks to Elizabeth as though she should be grateful for his attentions and at one point actually tells her that she has “no reason to hope for another proposal” in her lifetime. That is precisely the way men talk to me about the romantic plans we are going to enjoy together. Excuse me – but I don’t remember consenting to the current conversation, much less any future endeavors with you and your insulting, misogynistic, and delusional views of the world in general, and me in particular. Lizzie may have been too polite to say it (and I am not without my share of courtesy) but enough is enough and that is simply not an appropriate way to speak to anyone. I’m all for confidence, but there is a fine line and a massive difference between attractive-in-a cocky-way and obnoxious-in-a-totally-out-of-line-way.

I can only surmise that Miss Jane Austen experienced something similar to have been inspired to write a book where not only is Mr. Collins soundly blown off, but is served with the massive “suck it!” that is Lizzie finding and falling in love with Mr. Darcy. For me Mr. Darcy doesn’t represent the paragon of romantic manliness (okay, maybe a little), but the hope that someone with a modicum of normal might one day pursue me. And perhaps he’ll have some English estates. Some have said that Austen’s famous novel presents unrealistic expectations of romantic love to the women of the world, but, first of all- it’s a novel, and second of all- there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be wanted for the right reasons….above all other things by the man of our dreams. God knows it’s better than settling for Mr. Collins’ on the off-chance that he’s all the universe has to offer you. Ick.

Collatiness and a Potato

As you may have inferred there is lots of collating fun to be had in the Writers’ Room. I can put pages in sequential order like nobody’s business. I’ve also reached new levels of exhaustion heretofore unknown. Granted there are other responsibilities associated with my illustrious position, but the most fascinating thing is to see what I’m capable of and what I choose to do when I’m tired to the point of mild hallucination.

First, let me explain this whole potato business. My mind barely registers weekends anymore because it is so constantly occupied by work, but I do make a point of going to the farmers’ market every Sunday to make sure I eat something green, or at least semi-nutritious. This last weekend I spied some especially scrumptious looking baby potatoes and got a bag full. As a result, when I wandered home the other night, after a 13 hour work day for the 2 hours of consciousness I get to myself before bedtime, the only thing of mine in the fridge was these potatoes (and some beer, but we don’t need to get into that right now). I could not have been happier. So I boiled them and slathered them in garlic and butter and salt and it was pretty much the most amazing thing that I’ve gotten to eat in weeks. The In N Out burger I ate in celebration of my replacement tooth (more permanent than the fragile placeholder I had after my front tooth literally fell out of my face) ran a close second. As you can imagine, I enjoyed these potatoes immensely and promptly fell asleep.

Before you start feeling sorry for me, and thinking that your life is so much better than one in which a potato features so highly, consider that the things I do all day to get so tired are something I wouldn’t dream of trading for anything. And not because “there’s a thousand other people out there that would like to take my place”, but because I love it. A lot. And for all that I’m functional on only the most basic of levels sometimes I never once consider wanting to do something else, or regret that the time I spend in my desk facing the wall could be better spent elsewhere, with people, having a social life. Ok, so I don’t think about it until I realize that the only stories I have to tell my friends are about collating, or involve a vocabulary they can’t get exited about. I updated the bible, and read at the table read, and approved art with the UPM after I took the cart to set!! (Yay?) The only thing that truly worries me right now is that this is going to be over in just a couple of months and there are no guarantees that I still get to be a fancy TV person after that. There is a very real possibility that come September I will be back to substitute teaching and all of this will be a lovely dream.

That would suck. I hope that doesn’t happen. I am so OK with my happy potatoes. You should go eat some.

Rollercoaster Girl

In the non-sarcastically wonderful pattern that has become my life of late, there has been one day that stood out above the others. It was yesterday, which kind of blows all the suspense, but whatever. From the moment I woke up, eleven minutes late, until I finally ate for the first time, around 2pm, my day kind of sucked. Got to work late, had completely forgotten to make copies of the thing I’m supposed to make copies of, and when I finally got the copies made they were copied wrong. And then the whole staff had to learn how to properly sexually harass one another- which turned into an odd kind of babysitting job. This was followed by tracking down our golf cart and finding somewhere to put my spare Mardi Gras beads.

When I was called in to talk to my boss after all of this I was kind of hoping all that he wanted was to place a coffee order. But, not only was I not chastised for any further mistakes, I was invited to sit down. At the conference table. And though I did so with a little bit of suspicion it all turned out wonderful and the day took an upswing. I met our Director, who I am posh enough to have a mutual acquaintance with, and heard from an old writing professor who seems to be under the impression that I am going to be running my own show. I mean, that is kind of the plan, but I didn’t really see it happening anytime soon and all of the positive support and reinforcement I’ve been getting is starting to freak me out. What has everyone else heard that I don’t know?? Because last I checked I am going to once again be unemployed as soon as this show ends, which is very far from being a 22 year old show runner. Not that I ever envisioned that happening…..

Anyway, riding the upswing of the day, I then get a call from an old friend. I have a VIP invitation to a book signing at an art gallery where some percentage of the cast of Mad Men is expected to attend. And I thought, “Yes, I think I can probably make time for this in my schedule.” So I rustled up a cocktail dress and went to schmooze with David Streets, Rich Sommer, and Bryan Batt (who told me he loved me, but only in a fabulous way). It was an awesome end to a day fraught with ups and downs, and stress and giddiness. And I got some use out of my 5-inch patent leather pumps.

I think I’m going to like LA.

Life is just like ‘Friends’

I’m in LA, with my lovely job that everyone is either jealous of or proud of me for getting,  and having odd run-ins with exceptionally strange strangers. What more could a type A, over-achieving, know-it-all, perky, smiley, girl like myself want out of life? If you answered anything other than an apartment – you are wrong. I need to not be homeless to complete my bubble of happiness.

And thus started the apartment search. I was met with the assurance that life is just like “Friends” and anytime you are in need of advice you should refer to their genius. Devout follower of TV that I am, this seemed like sound advice. You don’t stay on the air for a decade by spouting crap. Or at least without balancing out the crap with some applicable knowledge. Which leads us to Ugly Naked Guy. In one episode Ross decides that he wants Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment, and sees that it is going to take some wooing. He sends a muffin basket as an offer of peace and in hopes that their magic muffiny-ness will endear him enough to turn over his lease.

Lucky for me (and I really have been blessed with more than my fair share of luck in the past couple of months) I settled on an exceptionally lovely room with roommates that provided the licorice wands. And I can honestly say that the addition of candy to the negotiations drastically affected the outcome. Also, very happy to be on the receiving end.

Of course, now that I’ve managed to fulfill my professional and housing dreams my family’s first response was “Now all you need is a boyfriend!” Ugh. Can’t make them happy for trying. Unless my knight in shining armor rides his white horse onto the lot, bribes my boss, and brings a chai latte in his saddlebags to keep me awake, that part of my perfect life is going to have to wait until I work less. Or stop sleeping. Whichever. First order of business is making sure I have a bed when I move into my new place. Accomplishing that will be huge in my little universe. I’m not quite as co-dependent as Rachel – why the girl couldn’t just be thrilled with a job at Ralph Lauren is beyond me.

I have to say that one of the things I’m most excited about is my new HD DVR that is getting set up this weekend. I’ve never had a DVR before and, considering my television obsession, and my job, I’m fairly certain it’s going to change my life. I might possibly be more excited about it than the new sheets I got. And I really really like new sheets. Monica would totally approve.

I will think of Joey when I am convincing myself of the virtues of pizza as a food group. Somehow I expect it is going to feature prominently in my life as I become less interested in making something scrumptious and more obsessed with eating immediately.

My most Phoebe-esque moment of the recent past was the one day it was raining in L.A. I had been out of my car, with my uber-stylish umbrella for about 25 seconds when an SUV pulled over to the side of the road next to me, in the middle of Ventura Blvd., rolled down the window and said, “I love your umbrella. It looks good on you.” Thank you? The couple then pulled back into traffic. Is any umbrella really that cute?

I realize I didn’t mention any similarities to Chandler. I’m pretty sure that the longer that’s true the better I’m doing. But there are definitely worse ways to deal with life than watching Friends for a little inspiration.