Paulo Coelho

Stress and Relief - “It’s a good idea always to do something relaxing prior to making an important decision in your life.” - Paulo Coelho

If I never have to contact a utility company again, it will be too soon.

Almost a month ago I flew out to LA with a one month sublet in West Hollywood and some very simple goals in mind. II was going to find a job and a permanent home, and then once I was settled, I could start taking acting classes out here, look for LA representation, et cetera.

God, what a stupid plan.

Don't get me wrong, I did it. I found some temp work, and this week I have an interview at a restaurant I'm excited about. And I just signed the lease and set up utilities for my new home in North Hollywood. I definitely made it happen.

But this past month has been one of the most stressful, depressing months of my life.

It might have been that way regardless. I just left my home and the greatest city in the world to come to a place where I have friends whom I love and cherish, but it's not the same as the roots I had there. The job hunt is always stressful. The apartment hunt is always stressful. Trying to find an owner who will let you lease an apartment when you don't have a job is even more stressful. And I did it while seeing things happen with my support system in New York and knowing I would've been a part of it had I stayed. I've been homesick like I've never experienced before in my life, and even though I'm known for my consistently positive outlook, I've found that almost impossible to maintain. I'm used to the vast majority of days being good days for me, but I've found myself counting the good days here because they've been so much rarer.

Partway through, I definitely realized that what I should've done was get a longer, but still short-term sublet. Like, three months or so. That way I could take the time to find a day job - the right day job - and not worry about being able to tell landlords that I'm employed. Take the time to explore the neighborhoods of LA. And let my roommates get out here so we could do the house search together, instead of insisting that I could do it all myself.

But especially over the past week and a half or so, I've had way more good days. I started really reaching out to and connecting with my friends here. My birthday was amazing, filled with friends whom I love. I've started auditioning for real, because the idea that I had about not focusing on acting was dumb. It's the whole reason I came out here in the first place. And once I move in and start getting paid, my whole life will be way less stressful.

And I can't wait until my new roommates get out here, too! We'll all be starting our new lives together, and they're such awesome, quality humans.

There is a friend in New York with whom I've had extensive conversations about happiness. What does it mean to be happy? How do we feel things? Can we detach ourselves from emotions? Can we do so selectively? Can you understand happiness without feeling sadness or other dark emotions? I can't say any one of us absolutely knows the answer to any/all of those, but I'm pretty sure I'm at least going to appreciate my upcoming happiness much more for knowing how stressful not having the things I'm about to have can be.

Cuffing Season - "Don't you need a man to raise a man?" "No, I don't think so." - 20th Century Women (2016)

I've been thinking about an ex of mine a lot recently. Not that I want them back, but it's cuffing season and I've still elected to remain single, and even if it's by choice, it's still a little bit lonely.

I know exactly what my priorities are. I know that I usually work evenings, and the nights I have off I want to be writing or watching movies, not going out with somebody just to go out with somebody. If I'm not feeling ~*that feeling*~ for a person, then it seems like a bit of a waste of time. In 20th Century Women, someone describes to Annette Bening's character his casual relationship, and she asks "if it's not serious, then why do it?"

Life is exciting and layered and interesting and stimulating and fun. Or at least it can be. It's supposed to be. I try every day to make it be. (Is that terrible grammar? Yes. Do I care because the literary device there still works? Hell no.)

And if I get more excited by hearing my favorite Christmas songs and making slutty brownies but with CANDY CANE JOE-JOE'S (you're welcome for that idea) than going on a particular date, then why should I?

To be clear, it's not that I'm uninterested in dating altogether. It's just that I only want to bother dating people I really want to date.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm rejecting people before I've given them a chance because I'm scared of commitment. Maybe it's me having imposter syndrome, and/or feeling this Groucho Marx quote: "I don't want to belong to any club that would have me a a member!"

But also... so what?

Plus, I never want to toy with anyone the way that ex toyed with me. I never want to have someone relate me to the Paulo Coelho quote "it's important to realize you can miss something, but not want it back."

Anyway, you all should check out this movie because it grapples with a lot of the same topics about what it means to be a good person and figuring out life and Annette Bening's performance is just ridiculous in how nuanced and casually emotional it is.

Actor Spirituality - "No heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and eternity." - Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

So I've got this gig at the US Open, which is pretty cool.

I'm doing brand ambassador work there, which is a pretty sweet gig. But for the company I'm helping to promote, there are two groups doing the work that needs to get done. There's the marketing agency through which I got this gig. And then there's this group called Team Challenge. They're all lovely, sweet human beings, and it wasn't until a few days into working there that I found out that everyone from Team Challenge works 12-15 hour shifts, and they do it on a volunteer basis. And there's an excellent reason for it: They're all ex felons and drug addicts, and this is part of their rehab.

And I think that's incredible. Everyone who is going through that program is caring and wonderful and really wants to make their lives better. They tell people about the group when they can, and they always emphasize how it saved their lives.

There's just one thing about them that threw me when I first found out about it. It's a Christian program. Which is, like, whatever, people can have whatever religion they want. And especially for a rehab program which needs the faith in a higher power thing, Christianity is a pretty obvious way to go, especially in America. So, you know, cool.

But it got me thinking about my own religion and spirituality. And I kind of have two. One is my Judaism. I come from a religiously-agnostic-bordering-on-atheist-but-culturally-Jewish family, and I mostly go along with that? Kind of? But I also take it one step further. Because I also have what I call the "actors religion" or "actor spirituality."

It's the belief in some kind of higher power that helps guide us all, but no one really knows what it is. It's just the belief that there is something to the universe that is greater than we are. And maybe it's the collection of all of our spirits, or maybe it's just the energy of the universe, or maybe it's something else entirely.

If you've ever read books written by Paulo Coelho, particularly The Alchemist, you understand what it is I'm talking about.

It also feels a little weird to have that kind of spirituality here in New York. LA actors are famous for it, for believing that "if it's meant to be, it will come to pass" and when someone gets their break then it was "their time" and everyone else around them will have their own time soon if they just keep working hard and believing in it. In New York, the exact same events are described as "dumb luck."

It also feels weird because I also 100% believe in science. I take the scientific explanations for things as fact, fully understanding that these explanations can change as we discover stuff in the world around us... but also knowing that the things we accept as true today come from logic and evidence.

But I still have that religious/spiritual side to me. It's comforting to believe that I'm not going through life alone. That I'm connected to other people and/or the universe around me. It's also nice because it doesn't have that many hard and fast rules beyond "don't be an asshole," which has fit in very nicely with my belief that, if there is a god, he/she/it/they won't stop me from going to heaven just because I chose to do things with my life and enjoy the world he/she/it/they created instead of going to to a building and praying to him/her/it/them once a week.

Such a lack of structure probably wouldn't work for someone in rehab. And for people who do need or even just like organized religion, then that's totally fine and great. Organized religion has done some incredible things throughout human history.

But I just wanted to bring up the idea of the actor's spirituality. Because I think that unorganized religion is kind of cool, too.