writing

Happiness, Depression, and Creating Art - "I needed color." - Jim Carrey

In my sophomore year of college, one of my exes was dating one of my friends, and I wasn't jealous, per se, but it wasn't something I had experienced before and it was weird. I spent a lot of that first semester feeling lonely, unwanted, and just generally sad.

When I was an underclassman, I also made a lot of vague, passive-aggressive Facebook statuses. What do we call it when it's subtweeting but on Facebook? Because it was that. I did that. But at one point I made some angsty status about my sadness at least good fodder for my artistry as an actress and a writer, and one of my friends - an actress I deeply respect - commented on it, saying that she does her best work when she's at her happiest.

Especially since my last post about how hard the first month in LA has been, I've been thinking a lot about happiness and depression and the art that comes out of it.

I've considered all of the great artists who experienced incredible pain, to the point of taking their own lives. Robin Williams (it's the anniversary of his death today, too), Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Heath Ledger, for example. They all created art that has brought us incredible joy and meaning, even though they were also in excruciating pain.

I also think about awards show speeches, though. I know, I know, awards shows don't really matter, they don't represent the things that "real people" actually watch, and all that other crap. But I also love them, because you get to see peoples' dreams coming true. And in almost every thank you speech, the honoree talks about the people that they love, and the support they feel from them. These are people who have blessed lives in many ways, and while we can all point to examples of celebrities who have various demons made public, I think it's also fair to say that many of the most successful ones can and do lead happy lives, and they also make joyful and meaningful art.

And maybe it's just a combination of both? I watched this short documentary about Jim Carrey and his work as a painter where he talks about how he used art to take him out of a depressive place and into a much happier one.

For myself, I know working on my art has been much more difficult over the past month. Part of it is also that I don't have a structure for doing it, or a place to share it. But I've also just been sad, and that makes it so much harder for me to work, even if it's the work that I love and enjoy doing. Even in the evenings, time I would usually spend writing, or researching, or watching new movies and television, I've instead been binging episodes of shows I've already seen multiple times. They're comfortable, and I just can't make myself want to do anything else.

I'm not sure how to get out of it or change it. Maybe I just need a group to help me out? If I were to join a scene study class, I would be forced to work, after all. And it's definitely possible I'm thinking about it the wrong way around - maybe it's not that I need to be happy to work, but I need to work to be happy. My life is always at it's best when I have the most stuff going on, after all. That's money that I don't have, though. So I'm not really sure what the next step would be. I'm sure I'll figure it out, or I'll start getting more work in films as I stay here longer. Something will change. It has to. Everything has been so in flux in my life, it doesn't make sense that this could be the one thing that would stagnate.

And, I have to say, I have gotten such an appreciation for those who deal with mental illness. It's been exhausting for me, and my experience is just a month of high but normal levels of stress from moving. I've always known that mental illness = bad, but if it's been this difficult for me, I can't imagine what it's like for people who experience it on a chronic level. I consider myself to be a fairly strong woman, but they have a strength that I will never know.

"Come on brain, think of things." - Lin-Manuel Miranda

I'm gonna be honest with you guys. I have no idea what to write about today.

There's the ever-relevant topic of politics, but that's already been talked to death, and I don't know what I could say to make people more politically active other than "do it". So that's pretty boring.

I've been thinking a lot lately as I organize a fundraiser staged reading of Almost Maine for the ACLU about how hard it is to do things and how many details there are to something that seems like it would be simple. But I've already written about discipline, and beyond that it's just kind of complaining about the hard work it takes to do something that I love.

I just finished a new short film called Lesbihonest, and I don't know that I'm allowed to post it online for everyone to see. I've been submitting it to contests and festivals, and I know that sometimes there are rules about not publishing your entries before they screen there or are rejected. But there's nothing interesting to anybody else about me posting on Instagram about having to look up rules and regulations.

Valentine's Day was this week, and since I'm single, I spent it mostly reveling in self-love and love for my friends. I used things that made my face all soft and pretty, and I ate chocolate, and got myself a smoothie, and went through Insta liking my friends' couple photos. But nothing, like, special happened.

I dunno, guys. I think it's just interesting how you can do a ton of things over the course of a week, and when someone asks what you've been up to, the answer has to be "nothing." Like when we actors post a regular selfie on social media with the caption "Super excited for projects in the works!" because we're not allowed to post anything more concrete, or our content isn't social media-ready yet. We want to share how hard we've been working and we want validation for all the little things we've done, but we don't have anything real to share yet.

The real MVP of that is Lin-Manuel Miranda. He spent seven years writing Hamilton. Damn.

So, in conclusion for this post, I want to be super clear. I was grasping at straws. I couldn't think of a single real topic for this week. And I still humble-bragged about my production of Almost Maine and Lesbihonest, along with comparing myself to Lin-Manuel Miranda. The self-love thing on Valentine's Day clearly worked.

I hope you all have had a productive week, even if you also can't figure out anything to really say about it!

Resolutions for the New Year - "Be slow in considering but resolute in action." - Bias of Priene

Well you guys, I finally have my New Year's resolutions together. And it only took me, like, two weeks! (#awks)

So I guess we should first go over how I did on my 2016 resolutions.

2016 New Year's Resolutions

2016 New Year's Resolutions

Not as well as I'd hoped, to be totally honest. Which isn't to say "badly," but last year I had definitely, in some way or another, completed all of them. And this year, not as much. I think I was too specific for 2016, so when my life and priorities changed, these didn't change with them. But let's go through them all:

Write the Uglies screenplay: I just didn't do this one. I still want to. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is still one of my all-time favorite novels, and I think it'd make a fantastic movie. But I just didn't do it. I worked on other feature-length projects. But I didn't finish this one.
Get my own apartment: Well, THIS one I very much completed!
Go to South America, Asia, and/or Africa: Hello, my trip to Peru!
Get my reel together: Well, yes and no. I don't have one video of clips of my work. But if you go to my Actress page, you'll see tons of clips of my work that are all labeled and easy to watch. So... I think that counts.
Go to another city in the USA: Well, technically I traveled to Boston, but I meant a new city. So I didn't do that in the USA. But I did see a new city in the UK, so I feel like I still fulfilled the spirit of the resolution. Mostly.
Start my 401K: I was too specific here, but I was also lazy with my finances. Sure, I've been saving money, but I haven't started a retirement account. I have, however, gotten a credit card and started to build up my credit. So I've advanced the planning of my financial future, even if I haven't started a 401K, which is within the spirit of the resolution. But I also could've started all of this way earlier in the year and then done both, so I'm not sure that I get to consider this a win.
Write/Act in 2+ shorts and submit to FESTIVALS: I've acted in so many shorts this year. But I've only written/produced one short in which I've also starred. It's a bigger production than I expected. And I'm very proud of it. So maybe I just overshot with this resolution. Either way, I'm proud of the work I did last year. It just wasn't the work I thought I would do.
Attack life with the confidence of a mediocre white man: Done and done.
Do 10+ industry seminars/workshops: I easily did more than ten!

Overall, not a terrible showing for my New Year's resolutions. But I think I can do better in 2017. Here's what I have coming up!

2017 New Year's Resolutions

2017 New Year's Resolutions

Most of them are much more vague 2016's. But I think that's good. It makes them more flexible and reasonable for a life that's changing and constantly in flux. These are resolutions I can achieve even as my priorities change over the course of the year.

Move to Los Angeles: This one, I think, is pretty self-explanatory. I'm heading out in June. It's time. I can't be bi-coastal if I'm only ever on one coast.
See 2+ new cities in the USA: Sure, it was within the spirit of the resolution to have seen Edinburgh instead of a new American city last year. But this year I am so specific. I have to see more of my own country. New York, LA, and Boston do not count. They have to be new cities to me.
Increase my future financial security (401K/credit score/fuck you money!!): This one, also, is pretty self-explanatory, I think.
Get a new doctor and have a check up: Guys, it has been embarrassingly long since the last time I saw a doctor. Long enough that, technically, my doctor is still my pediatrician from when I was a child. That's just not acceptable. I don't think there's anything wrong with me, but it sure would be nice to know for sure.
Be the Blood of the Dragon: Guys, I've been really inspired by Daenerys Targaryen lately. Her leadership, her self-assurance, and her ability to make people believe in and follow her. I want to emulate that. Sure, she's a fictional character. But they're admirable qualities, and I'm gonna get them.
Get at least one of the following: agent, manager, union status: It's time. I can't control who will like me, or if a union project will cast me. But I think it's reasonable to expect to achieve at least one of those over the next year.
Finish at least one feature-length project: I have so many things that I'm working on that I never finish in favor of shorts. But this year, I don't care what it is, but at least one feature screenplay or full length play is gonna get written.
Simplify your material life: For all that I bitched about getting rid of all of my childhood stuff, I felt so much freer and stronger once it was gone. And, frankly, I don't really miss it. I'm gonna try to keep getting rid of stuff as much as I can. I don't need a lot of things. And I like how I feel when they're gone.
Have/Complete monthly goals. January: shoot WICF film, go to Planned Parenthood about an IUD, send out industry updates: I think it would be a good idea to set these kinds of goals for myself more regularly than once a year! So I'm shooting a short film on Saturday for the Women in Comedy Film Contest, I'm gonna send out updates about the work I've been doing since the holidays to my contacts throughout the industry, and I'm gonna go to Planned Parenthood and see if I can't get an IUD before Planned Parenthood gets fully defunded.

What do you guys think? Do you have any resolutions of your own that you're actually going to keep up throughout the year?

Making it Happen!! - "This is legal! It's okay! This is totally legal!!" - Me, as I had to change my shirt in the middle of Sheep Meadow in Central Park

I've acted in films before. I've written films before. But I had never executive produced a film before this past weekend. Holy shit, you guys, I have such insane respect for producers and executive producers right now.

First off, huge ups to my cast and crew. Do you know what it's like to have friends come out on an uncomfortable, rainy weekend and work long days to create a short film that you wrote just to let some stuff out? Because I do. And they're all amazing. Ryan Fitzmartin, Thaddeus Bouska, Haley Bierman, Marcus Jones, Alex Spear, Nico Ferranti, Sara Bowie, Christopher Erlendson, Evan Dunbar, and Simon Diamond Cramer on the crew side, and my castmates Raja Burrows and Shane Tully. There is no film without any of them. Without them, there's just some chick (me) with a script (the second or third draft, not the good, final one) and a smartphone (my cheap one) saying "the shoddy production value will make it look artsy!" (It wouldn't.)

I don't want to say too much right now about what the film will look like since we're only just starting in on post-production. And I'm still low-key in shock that it actually happened. It's like I'm a real filmmaker or something!

But I wanted to let you all know that it's happening. The working title is The Slightly Awkward First Date of John and Joanna. (The title, too, is a work in progress.)

You guys, it was rainy on the second day but not the first which is problematic with continuity and we had problems with our sound equipment throughout and I was never sure that I'd be able to make all of the logistics like scheduling crew and getting craft services happen and I definitely nearly cried from stress the night before each day of shooting (and I never cry over anything in real life) and there is absolutely nothing I would rather have been doing this past weekend.

This post is becoming awfully #blessed and #grateful and I hate those kinds of social media posts, so I'm going to leave it here. I just couldn't let this week go by without mentioning it. I am the queen of making things happen, but if I am the queen then my friends here are the gods who gave me the divine right to do it.

(Does that make sense as a metaphor? I think that makes sense as a metaphor. I'm pretty sure that's the appropriate, high level of complimentary I want to be to them. That sounds like it makes sense for my metaphor, anyway.)

Creative Excellence - "Stop worrying if your vision is new. Let others make that decision. They usually do." - Sunday in the Park with George

My mother once heard a story about a grading scale for some non-traditional school. It was a 1 - 10 scale, with 10 being the best. And a colleague of hers had once had this amazing semester where she got straight As on her assignments, she was always on time for class, she participated consistently, and the teacher loved her.

And when it came time to get grades back, she got an 8.

After class she marched up to the teacher's desk and demanded an explanation. She felt that she deserved a 10, or at least a 9. And the teacher told her "10 is for God. 9 is for me. The best you can hope for is an 8. And that's what I gave you."

Now, I'm not saying that all attempts at excellence are met with such an unjust response. But I am questioning what excellence is, what kind of response it merits, and who gets to judge it in the first place.

When I was in high school, I had the same English teacher for two years in a row. (And I loved her, she's one of the best teachers I ever had!) The first year I would consistently get grades in the high eighties and low nineties on my assignments. And on report cards and in parent-teacher conferences she would say that I'm a good writer and I understand literature well, but there was just a little something that my writing was lacking, and she would love to see me break through that ceiling and produce really excellent work.

The next year, everything I turned in got a grade in the high nineties. And about halfway through the year, she asked me if I could feel the difference in my work. I told her "yes" because I wanted her to be proud of me and how much I had learned and grown.

I have no idea what it is that I did. To this day, when I look back on it, I remember myself putting forth the same level of effort and writing the same kinds of pieces. I really just don't know what changed.

So I've been thinking about what makes excellent work. Whenever I put up a scene in my scene study class, I think about what other people have done that has been really extraordinary, and I try to use whichever of their techniques work for me. I break down the script. I work on the character in depth. And it still feels rough and shallow whenever I actually do the scene for the first time in front of people.

When I'm writing a script I start off excited about the idea, and then I look at other, extraordinary scripts, and I always feel like my own is lacking something meaningful no matter how much planning and outlining I've done with it.

Now, that's probably in some part because we are all our own worst critics. Most creatives never feel good enough. So I suppose I'm in some pretty good company.

But also, will I ever know when the work I'm doing is really good? I can't just produce everything I ever write, after all. How do I know what's really worth it? Or do I just produce all the things I like the best, and keep chugging along, and hope other people like it because that's all I can do?

Boy, I hope one day I have an answer to that question.

Goals and Resolutions for the New Year! - "Don't get a girl pregnant." - Me, a year ago

Happy New Year! Sure, as we're already a week into 2016, it's a little bit awkward to say it. But I hope you have a wonderful rest of the 51 weeks left!

And I'm feeling good about this year. It still feels shiny, sparkly, and new. It's a leap year, which always seems special to me! And it's an excellent time to set new goals for ourselves to reach.

Last year I experimented with writing down my resolutions and goals for 2015 and putting them up on the back of my bedroom door where I could always see them. I probably shouldn't be as surprised as I am at how well that worked. But, I kid you not, I made nine resolutions, and I basically accomplished all of them. In fact, I did most of them by halfway through the year.

So now I want to take a moment to look at last year's resolutions and how well they worked, and also share my goals for 2016.

New Year's Resolutions: 2015

New Year's Resolutions: 2015

Take less shit: Guys, in years gone by, I was kinda a doormat. For a variety of reasons, I never really fought back against anybody, aside from in the context of academic debates. This year, I wanted to take less of the bullshit people will sometimes try to feed you to take advantage. And I suppose I can say I did it. I've certainly started standing up for myself more than I used to. Because I didn't put a way to qualitatively say that I've done it, I guess I just have to use my own analysis. But I do take less shit than I did a year ago. I still take more than I'd like. But less than I have.

Build up savings: Kind of. Not really. 2015 was a turbulent year in terms of day jobs for me, so I had issues putting money away just to have in savings. But I've since gotten a new day job that pays more than my old ones, so at least I'm on the right path towards building up my savings!

Get a better job at the museum: At this time a year ago, my day job was at the American Museum of Natural History as a Visitor Services Representative. It was an incredibly cool place to work, but the job itself wasn't exactly interesting, and it didn't pay as well as I'd like. Since then, I've gotten a better job than the museum. So while I still miss working in one of the greatest museums in the world, I make way more money than I did, which is what helps me pursue my true goal. (You know, the whole "acting" thing.)

Take 2 acting classes: I took four. Boom. Thank you, The Barrow Group.

Get vouchers from the union (SAG-AFTRA): Two things have happened in the past year. One is I learned that I don't really need to collect those vouchers for where I am in my career right now. The other is that I started accidentally doing it anyway. So... success!

Start sending out an industry newsletter: I don't send out a monthly news update from a mass email service. But I do know people in the industry who I personally update with news about when I get cast in things, or when I get footage back from new projects. Which is close enough for me to consider this a job well done!

Write/Act in 2+ shorts: It really depends on how you want to define this one, I think. I acted in at least a dozen shorts over the year, and I wrote a whole handful! Now, what I meant when I wrote it was that I would write and act in at least two of my own projects, and for that, I only did one. (And it's pretty sweet, short, and worth watching. Just saying.) I have a lot of excellent projects coming up for this year, though, born from the work I did towards this resolution last year!

Go to London: What do you think?

There are giant teddy bears like this all throughout Harrod's!

There are giant teddy bears like this all throughout Harrod's!

AND I went to Reykjavik, Iceland.

This shot is from the mountains in Iceland, when I did a Viking Horseback Riding tour!

This shot is from the mountains in Iceland, when I did a Viking Horseback Riding tour!

Don't get a girl pregnant: Smashing success.

And now, looking ahead, are my RESOLUTIONS FOR 2016!!!

New Year's Resolutions: 2016

New Year's Resolutions: 2016

Write the Uglies screenplay: Have you read the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld yet? No? Well damn, you better get on that. I'll wait. Now do you see how groundbreaking this series is in terms of societal norms, beauty standards, and the way we treat looks and intelligence? And how good it would be as a movie? And the best thing I can do to make sure it happens is to do it myself. Sure, it's highly unlikely that my script for it will ever come to anything. But hey, what if it does? What if it does, and I can then play Tally? Guys, that would be such a dream come true. So I'm gonna kick it into high gear this year and just write the damn script.

Get my own apartment: Confession time: I still live with my parents. Sure, it's a great way to save money, especially living in NYC. But I'm also an adult who needs her own place. I'm not saying that I'm going to live entirely on my own without roommates or anything. But I need, as Virginia Woolf has said, a room of my own.

Go to South America, Asia, and/or Africa: I dunno whether or not you've noticed, but I really like to travel. And I used to think of myself as someone who has been all over the world. After all, I've been to over a dozen countries. And then one day I realized... almost all of that has been within Europe and North America. And that is an unacceptable for a "world" traveler. So, somehow, I want to make it to one of these three continents. I may not yet know how I'm going to afford the flights or anything. But this year I am determined to make it happen. And I am really good at making things happen.

Do 10+ industry seminars/workshops: I'm already signed up for one. And it's pilot season, so everyone is gonna be trying to meet everybody else. This goal is pretty straightforward, and I have every intention of and belief in meeting it.

Attack life with the confidence of a mediocre white man: If you're a straight, white, cisgendered man reading this, don't worry, I probably don't mean you. I don't mean every straight white man. I mean the guy who sends unsolicited dick pics to women with whom he's only just begun chatting. I mean the guy who says sentences that begin with the phrase "Okay, no offense, but-". I mean the guy who thinks it's deep to be angry and sad, and tries to force that on the people around him. Haven't you ever noticed how that guy always seems to have an extraordinary amount of self-confidence and belief that the world is, or at least should, belong to him? I want nothing to do with that kind of person... I just want to live my life and approach my career with that incredible level of self-confidence.

Write/act in 2+ shorts & submit to FESTIVALS!!: Similar to my goal from last year, but this time I want them to be finished enough that I could actually get my work in front of an audience instead of simply posting them online.

Go to another city in the USA: I have seen depressingly little of my own country. So I'm thinking New Orleans. Or maybe Chicago, or Detroit, or Seattle. In fact, if you have any particular suggestions, I'd love to hear them! I'd love to see more of the rest of America.

Get my reel together: I have plenty of clips available online. But I'd like to get cohesive reels together. At least one, but preferably have them sorted into a dramatic reel, a comedic reel, and a commercial reel.

Start my 401K: I am an adult. I should probably act like one. And save money like one.

That seems like plenty to start with, right? I'm pretty psyched to make all of this happen.

What about you guys? Do you have any resolutions? Any extra goals I can steal and claim for my own??

Self-Promotion for Creatives - "I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn't say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers." - Sylvia Plath

I've been thinking a lot recently about the lines between self-promotion, letting people know what's important to you, letting people know what you want, and conceitedness/self-centrism.

After all, we all know those posts that actors make on social media that go somewhat along the lines of "On set for #ProjectWithAVagueTitle! Find out more about it at www.link.com!" and have a selfie of them attached with them in hair/costume/makeup. Or posts by writers that all have the same joke: "Just Googled 'skin color after being strangled with that string people use to tie up meat. I'm a writer, it's for a story, I promise!" And I feel for people who make these posts, especially because I've made them myself. It's difficult to let people know that you're working, get them excited for your next project, and let them know what that project is in 140 characters or fewer. But it's also so desperate to prove that you can Live The Dream that it always turns me off. Like, congrats on working, and I'm excited for the people who are doing it! But when you have a Twitter feed of almost nothing but these posts, it gets old, and nothing stands out.

Having noticed this, though, I know I've gone too far in the other direction. I don't like to post things unless I've got something to say, or an interesting/funny way to say it. That means that if you go to my Twitter or my Facebook feed, you'll find that it's actually pretty funny! You'll also find that I just haven't posted about the things in which I've been cast because there are only so many ways to post "Been cast in this thing and I'm super excited for it!" Of course, that also means that if a casting director were to visit either page, they wouldn't know about all of the work I've been doing recently.

Here's another issue I've had with self-promotion on social media: I absolutely hate to sound like I'm bragging or self-absorbed. Probably because I am a little narcissistic and self-absorbed. But it means that I miss out on letting people know about things that are important to me. For instance, it was my birthday the other day. And I really wanted people to acknowledge it because my birthday is kind of a big deal to me. But I also didn't want to have to ask them to acknowledge it, or tell people about it at all. I just wanted them to know. Turns out, people aren't mind-readers. Don't get me wrong, I had an excellent birthday, I managed to let it be known a little bit beforehand that it was coming up, and tons of wonderful friends reached out to me on the day to wish me a happy one. But it was still a concern for me in the days leading up to it.

I can't say I'm entirely sure what the solution to all of this is, but I do have a theory. My theory is based on watching the people who do manage to do self-promotion well. And I think the key to it is to have something to say. It can be small, but it has to be there. Desperately thrusting your accomplishments into the void and hoping that somebody notices is not useful to anyone else. But neither is keeping them all to yourself. It's about offering something to the people who might end up actually listening, be it a joke, or a continuation of a discussion, or even an argument presented in, say, a blog format. It's just about giving people something to engage with. That's my theory, anyway.

And so, all of that said... check it out! This past week I did not one, but two spec commercials with NYU - I'm pretty close now to having a commercial reel together! I got cast in Play-Prov with the Alan Chan Comedy Team, and my first rehearsal with them is tonight! And I'm going into pre-production on Just the Tip; I have a director and a producer, and now we're looking for grants so we can have funding for the short! (And you have no idea how much it makes me giggle that I'm the executive producer when I always swore I'd never be an executive-type. It also gives me a massive power trip.)

...See, I may grandstand, but there really are only so many ways to convey this kind of information

Writing and Editing Screenplays - "The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." - Terry Pratchett

Well, I had a whole long blog post written. It was one of my regular Thursday/Friday essay-style blog posts about how one knows that they have finished writing when they don't have a hard deadline that forces them to be done.

And then, somehow, it got deleted. I don't know what kind of combination of buttons I accidentally pressed. I was going to add a tag, and then... nope. It vanished. It was rough, I'd admit. Even for these blog posts that are mostly about showing my personality to anyone who is looking at this website and trying to decide if they like me and my work. I was upset to see it go.

But I was inspired to write such a post because I'm working on a short screenplay now! And you guys, I'm not gonna lie, I like it. It's called "Just the Tip," and it's about millenials as we're beginning to come into adulthood, sexism in the workplace and dating, and what romance is evolving into in modern society. It's about what journalism is and should be, how people treat each other, and the life of a workaholic. And you know what else? It's good. It's not perfect - it still has a few drafts to go before I'm willing to give it to my director absolutely for shooting - but it is good.

The thing that's concerning me, though, is that right now I'm not only the screenwriter, but also the producer. Which means that any deadlines I may have are being set by me. I'm used to projects where someone else gives me a hard deadline for which a piece absolutely has to be finished, and I work on it as much as I can before it, but once that deadline comes it's out of my hands and that's how I know that it's done. But now, I could edit "Just the Tip" indefinitely, and there's really no one to stop me from pushing the deadline back again and again.

Ira Glass once said in an interview that young creatives have a problem where we start creating because we have excellent taste, but we are so inexperienced that our own work doesn't measure up to our excellent taste, and the trick is to keep working past that until we are capable of creating work that does measure up to our taste. (For the full quote, you can read it over here.) I certainly wouldn't disagree with anything he said there. I know that I'm not doing work on the level of writers I especially admire (in writing I'm talking Nora Ephron and Aaron Sorkin, in acting I'm thinking about Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Anne Hathaway, just to name a few) and it certainly irks at me when I'm trying!

But the thing is... I know that "Just the Tip" is good. Not great. Not revolutionary. But it's not bad, either.

That is a statement I'm 100% certain I'll be embarrassed of later on in my life and career, when I'm really doing good work and I look back at this time with nostalgia and condescension. But it is also what I'm thinking now, and it would be pointless to deny it.

So my question is... how do I stop when I don't have anyone to command me to do so? Having good taste as I like to believe I do, I know my screenplay isn't ready. And I do know a few specific things that have to be changed about it to make it better, and I'll do those. But at what point do I stop and say that it's done enough and ought to be produced? At what point do I decide for myself that it's done, even if I know it's not perfect, and allow myself to move on to the next project?

That's a question I'm genuinely asking, by the way. If you have any tips or ways of thinking about it, I'd love to discuss them with you!

In the meantime, I'm going to try to decide for myself what I think the... tipping point is.

Puns. You're welcome.

Recipe of the Week: Okay, so it's technically not a recipe so much as an idea, but it's SPACE APPLES.

Funny Vine of the Week: I literally cried with laughter from this. Nbd.

#TheDress #whiteandgold #blueandblack

I had a wrap-up post about the Oscars planned. But I wanted to make sure I really thought through my opinions on things like Patricia Arquette's speech, the prevalence of suicide mentions throughout the ceremony, the ceremony itself, and the winners.

And by the time I finished doing that, the internet had moved on, and any such post would've been utterly irrelevant.

By this point, you've probably heard about The Dress, but in case you haven't been online in the last 12 hours, it's about whether this dress is white and gold or blue and black.

(For the record, I can see both. Suck it, losers who can only see it one way.)

Almost everyone on almost every social media feed I follow has been talking about it, or at least has put in their opinion as to what colors the dress is. And I know a lot of people who have gotten angry at how much everyone seems to care about it when there are, admittedly, many things of far greater importance in the world.

I've also seen people who are angry at how shallow an "issue" this is. Which isn't inaccurate. At least with, say, last year's ice bucket challenge, money was being raised for ALS research. But this is just people having heated arguments over perception.

But, to be honest, I kind of like it. I don't mind small, shallow things sweeping through social media quickly and then vanishing as this undoubtedly will in a few days. I'd far rather we think so little about something as inconsequential as this - a matter which is easy to discuss, simple to form an opinion about, and good for connecting with people - than think equally little about issues of actual importance.

I like memes because they give us a shared cultural experience that we don't have to worry about rushing or under-thinking. And we can then put more thought into things that actually matter.

I am working on a short film now. It's about millennials, sexism, and what it means to be a professional in the modern world where everything about everyone's life is scrutinized and the news can change in an instant. It's something I've had to put a lot of thought into, and every time I have friends read the script, the feedback I get this most is to "go deeper." And I love it. It doesn't have to get published right away - in fact, it won't come out for a while, considering how I'm still in the writing stages - so I can state a fully formed opinion, one that I have truly thought through and considered from every side.

And you know, people still go to the movies. People are still interested in points of view that have been deeply considered every bit as much as they are in #TheDress. After all, everyone had an opinion on the Oscars, too. You have to have seen at least one or two movies over the course of the year to care about the awards that much.

Maybe I'm just being an silly optimist. But I'd much rather be an optimist than be legitimately angry over people talking about a dress.

Recipe of the Post: Chicken Marsala

Life Hack: Put a bit of colored tape on the top of all of your USB wires - that way, you'll never try to plug one into your computer while upside-down again!

West Wing Binge Watch 2k15 - "No. No 'however.' Just be wrong. Just stand there in your wrongness and be wrong and get used to it." - President Josiah Bartlett, The West Wing S1E17

You know, there were a lot of things I wanted to write about in this blog post. I wanted to write about the Critics' Choice Awards, the SAG Awards, what it means to be a member of the actors union. I wanted to write about this acting class I've been taking at The Barrow Group, how good it is, and the importance of training and, more importantly, training correctly. I wanted to write about British TV and British actors and how they're taking over in the US; as anyone who knows me is aware, I absolutely love talking about British stuff. There is a whole myriad of things I could've discussed here today.

But I can't do any of it. Why? Because I started watching The West Wing on Netflix, and it's all I can think about.

You guys it's so good. The Netflix blurb about it claims that it was ranked the 7th best drama of all time. Now, I don't know when those rankings came out, and as I firmly believe we are living in a golden age of television, I think there are some series that could give it some serious competition. I'm looking at you, Breaking Bad. But the idea that it is at least very highly ranked and well regarded is something that I am absolutely on board with.

The thing that's particularly interesting in watching it is seeing not just the differences between the late 90's-early 00's and now, but the similarities! Our dealings with China. How ravaged African nations are by AIDS, and the extent to which Americans lump all of them together into just "Africa." Education. Gay rights. Healthcare. It's almost depressing that these issues don't go away... but it's handy because it means the series isn't too dated! The risk with watching anything more than five or so years old is that sometimes the issues just aren't a problem anymore, or something that was normal then seems strange to someone watching now. But I'm not experiencing that at all with The West Wing! Maybe I'm older than I feel I am, and I remember these things being issues so well that it just seems current to me... but I'd much rather think of it as the series just holding up well and not being dated.

Of course, don't get me wrong, the differences are worth looking at, too! There's one in particular that I'd like to point out: An episode I was watching last night had Josh Lyman arguing with a congressman about a bill that placed another ban on gay marriage. One of the points that the congressman brought up was that the majority of the population was against gay marriage. Only fifteen years ago, polls said that the majority of Americans thought that LGBTQ+ people shouldn't be allowed to get married. Now 36 states have legal same-sex marriage, and later this year the Supreme Court is going to decide whether or not it's constitutional on a federal level. It's just amazing to me how far we've come in such a relatively short period of time.

Beyond any of that, though, it's good television. It's dramatic, it made me yell at my television/computer screen, it's funny, the characters are complex, and, naturally, the writing feels effortless. Characters speak in incomplete sentences, they cut each other off, they say stupid things, sometimes they don't, and storylines are woven together, in and around each other, to keep episodes flowing together while not having to bother with a massive, overarching season or series plot. It's Aaron Sorkin at his best.

I suppose that's just it for me. The West Wing is everything The Newsroom could have been. It's a little bit sad when put that way, but it's true. And it just makes me love The West Wing that much more.

And I have more than five and a half seasons left of it!

Before I finish this post, I'd like to throw in just a few more observations that I've made about the series from the less-than-a-season-and-a-half I've seen so far that are far less intellectual and analytical but, I think, still deserve to be said:

  • The level to which I identify with Donna Moss is extraordinary. I would say that I want to be her when I grow up but... aside from what happened to make her join up with Bartlet and, more specifically, Josh, I pretty much already am her. And I love her. I'm not even jealous of Janel Moloney for getting to play her because she's just perfect.
  • I think Josh Lyman/Bradley Whitford is really attractive? Like...?? I did not expect this. My type is usually tall, blonde, and British, with sharp, prominent cheekbones. And occasionally that type can be broken - my attraction to Sam Seaborn/Rob Lowe is not really a surprise because have you seen Rob Lowe - but...??? Granted, his personality is right up my alley. Someone who is a massive jerk but still a good guy when it comes to the stuff that matters will get me every time. But man, I did not expect this. I didn't even realize it until more than halfway through the first season. And now I want to give him the biggest hug, like, all the time. It's weird. But very, very present.
  • Toby when he's doing the right thing and being a good guy is the most awkwardly adorable thing. Also, I love having a Jewish guy there, especially since his Judaism is a significant part of who he is. Not all of who he is. Not even most of who he is. But a significant part.
  • I so deeply appreciate how Sorkin allows Republican characters to make excellent points. He really never did that in Newsroom (and, no matter what he said, Will McAvoy was not a Republican) and I do like how the major characters reflect the views that I personally hold. But it's so rare now, even in real life, to see a Republican articulately arguing his/her point of view that it's not only refreshing to see it here but has occasionally genuinely made me think about my own political beliefs and why I believe them.
  • All of the actors on this show are very much actors' actors. And the writer is a writers' writer. And I can feel myself getting better both as an actress as well as a writer just from watching this show. It's wonderful.

"You don't believe the story of the Great Pumpkin? I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them." - Linus, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Oh man, it's been a while since I last posted! I'm sorry about that! In my own defense, Halloween happened, and then NaNoWriMo started, and I've had some evening auditions, not to mention that the election was on Tuesday night...!

(For the record, I'm not going to say anything about politics on here. I have very strong political views, and if you'd like to message or email me, I'd be happy to discuss them there! But I like to think I also generally know better than to get into political fights on the internet!)

Well, it might not be fair for me to use NaNoWriMo as an excuse, considering how far I've already fallen behind on my novel. Like, really behind. Like, it's Day 6 (word goal: 10,002) and I'm only a little bit past Day 1 (word goal: 1,667). Oops! But I do have a history with falling severely behind during NaNoWriMo, and I always manage to make it work in the end. Last time I did it, two years ago, I had only written 20,000 words by the last week, but after several sessions of marathon writing and two days in a row where I literally wrote more than 10,000 words in a day, I finished it with 15 minutes to spare!

For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a challenge wherein participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in just the month of November. It's ridiculous and crazy and you don't have time to edit or actually make your novel good, but it's also awesome. The great thing about it is that it forces you to just sit down and write. To just do it. To accept that what is coming out is awful, and do it anyway. Because my novels every year that I've won (four out of five years I've done it!) have generally been awful, but I did them.

The other great thing about NaNoWriMo is that it's also good practice at the art of being a writer. At being disciplined enough to just sit down and write, regardless of how inspired you are or how you feel or how much you don't want to. Because of course writing is re-writing, and you'll never have a good piece of work without tons of editing, but you can't re-write or edit something that doesn't exist yet!

A better way of putting it: The difference between writers and people who want to be writers is that writers write. And if you want to be a writer, this challenge is one of the best ways I know to make you actually become one. Just because your writing won't necessarily be good doesn't mean that you won't have written it, making you, you know, a writer.

And now that I've used the word "write" so much that it's lost all meaning to me...

It's got nothing to do with most of the rest of this post, but I had a great time on Halloween, and I wanted to show off my costume!

Yup, I was an Instagram picture! Originally I was going to be Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, and I got a solid portion of the way into that costume, but then I thought of this and it was just too clever not to do. (Besides, I can finish Dany for a convention sometime.)

The thing that I most realized as I was finishing it was that I was going out as Instagram, using my actual Instagram username and everything, through the streets of New York on Halloween, which was the Friday of Halloweekend, which meant that I promoted myself so much last week. I got followers from it and everything! Which, not gonna lie, was kinda cool, but when I was a kid, growing up and dreaming about this career, I never thought I would dress up as a walking advertisement for Halloween.

...But hey, in the end, anything in the name of something clever, right? Everyone who recognized what I was as I walked down the street (which was nearly everybody) got a good laugh out if it. And, as over the top cheesy as this is, if I made people smile, that's all that really matters in the end, right?

Tell me what you guys dressed up as for Halloween, too! Bonus points if there are pictures. Otherwise I may have to believe that it just didn't happen.