Wednesday, March 30, 2011


When I was a little girl I desperately wanted to live by the water BUT I lived in North Dakota, where not a single body of water (not counting a slough) was within walking distance.

I would read stories about girls who lived by streams and brooks; they always seemed to have great adventures and their lives just seemed more exciting!

So one day I decided to make my own pond.

After all, why should I just sit around dreaming about water? I was a very resourceful eight-year-old girl. So I picked up a shovel, chose the perfect spot in our yard, and started to dig.

And dig.

And dig.

I dug for days.

I wanted it to be deep. I wanted it to be just like the ponds in my books. I had big dreams that I would eventually add fish (maybe even Koi!!) and the pond would become so fantastic that EVERYONE in my small town would come to see it. They would tell their friends and soon everyone in the world would know how fantastic Jessica Runck’s Koi pond was! People would stand over the pond and think, “Wow, this pond sure is the best thing I’ve ever seen in the whole wide world. Thanks, Jessica for making our lives better!!” And I would stand there, proudly staring through my giant glasses at the huge crowd and think, I made this happen.

It didn’t turn out that way.

After about a week, I thought I had dug down deep enough. I knew I couldn’t just fill the hole with water or it would seep into the ground, so I went into our musty old shed and underneath some old cat food and a tractor tire, found a large piece of plastic.

I pulled the grimy piece of plastic to my giant hole, lined it carefully, and stared at my work.

It was perfect.

All it needed was… water.

You see, in my excitement I had forgotten to make the hole close enough to the watering hose.

So I had to carry bucket after bucket of sloshing water to the pit.

It took me the entire day and when I’d finished I stood looking at my work proudly; what probably looked like a muddy brown hole of water to the outsider was glorious to me.

Only, no one seemed to care as much as I did. My parents were less than impressed (considering I had just dug a giant hole in their yard) and our little gravel road was just as slow as ever.

But I didn’t care, I sat by the pond all day long. I read books beside it, danced around it, and just plain sat and stared at it until the sun went down.

I had faith that people would soon get word and show up.

The next morning, I woke up excited to play by the water again – I jumped out of bed and ran outside to sit by the pond and eat my breakfast…

But it was gone.

The hole was still there. And so was the plastic. But the water had seeped through a tiny hole in the lining that I hadn’t noticed.

I stood there, staring at my muddy, plastic-lined, hole-in-the-ground.

I was devastated.

All that work. All that time. All my good intentions to make something wonderful and new and exciting – gone.

Now there would be no place for the beautiful fish and nothing for the lines of people to see.

Now it wasn’t a beautiful Koi fish pond.

It was just a hole.

I thought about that memory yesterday.

I’m currently working on a project that I’m terrified is going to become like that pond.

My producing partners and I have spent over a year working on our web series, Book Club. We filmed the pilot and I’m so proud of it. (Watch It Here!!) And like the pond, I was hoping after all the work we did on the first episode, all the time we spent digging, that someone would notice it and deem it worthy of Koi…ahh, I mean, sponsorship.

But after trying to secure funding to film the rest of the season for almost a year, we have made a very hard decision to try and raise the money ourselves.

By that I mean – ask for it. From our friends, family, fans and anyone who wants to show support.


As a girl who used to dig gigantic holes by herself, I am not a fan of asking other people for help.

But I thought about it for a long time and decided that I don’t want Book Club to be like my pond. I don’t want it to seep away into the world without making the mark I know it can.

So I decided I would put my pride aside and ask.

I know most of you are going to read this and think, “That girl needed some friends growing up.

You’re also going to think, “That is so nice that she is raising money. Good luck to her.

But maybe, just this once, could you follow all that thinking up with some clicking? As in, click on the link below to donate?

I mean, please, if you have a few extra bucks, spread the love. If not for me – for the little girl with the frizzy hair and the big glasses who just wanted to live by a pond.

I think she’d be pretty psyched to know that her future self made it all the way to the ocean.

Number Five

I’ve been off the grid for a while.

I needed some time away from everything so I spent a week with my parents at the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondido. We were the youngest people there by at least thirty years.

And it was exactly what I needed.

Lately I’ve been forgetting how lucky I really am to be in Los Angeles.

And how hard I worked to be here.

But one night at the resort, somewhere between my dad’s third beer and my seventeenth glass of wine, my father did what he’s so good at.

Reminded me of how I got here.

He didn’t mean how I graduated from college. And he wasn’t talking about surviving the cheap yet terrifying apartment I lived in in Omaha to save money.

No. He was talking about the time I lent my body to science.

The time I participated in a fourteen-day medical study to earn fast money so I could follow my dreams and move to Los Angeles.

A medical study in which I was given non-FDA approved drugs, and had my blood drawn sixty-four times.

It was three years ago…

I had just finished a national tour and had my sites set on Hollywood. But I was poor. Really poor. And had only one month to earn enough money to move. So when my mom told me about a medical study that paid $3,500 I leapt at the chance to participate.

I should probably mention here that I have an unreasonable fear of having my blood drawn. Like – restraints and alcohol need to be involved.

But I was determined I could do it. After all, it was only sixty-four times…


I showed up the first day of the study and learned they were testing Xanax, in patch form.

In order to participate I had to be anxiety free (God knows how I made it past that test.) But somehow I qualified and found myself in a large room with fourteen other beds. I was given a number and called that number (Five) throughout the entire experience.

Some rules of the study included:

- I was not allowed to see or be in the sunlight
- I was not allowed to leave my bed for more than one hour at a time.
- I was not allowed to eat/drink anything other than the food they provided.

And the most important rule:

- I was not allowed to miss a blood draw.

So, I reminded myself why I was there and held out my arm every time with out a fight.

The first few draws weren’t too bad. I just closed my eyes and imagined what a big star I was going to become. The large dose of Xanax coursing through my veins probably helped too.

But as they started the “drawing blood every two hours for twenty-six hours” portion of the study, things really started to go downhill.

Not only did the phlebotomists seem to be getting younger and more inexperienced but the bruising on my arms was starting to make every blood draw more painful than the one before.

I tried to fall asleep that night beside fourteen strangers, knowing that I was going to be awoken two hours later to give away two more vials of my blood.

2am came around quickly and I stumbled out of bed bracing myself for another painful draw.

But something was different.

I was hungry.

Desperately hungry. More hungry than I’ve ever been in my life.

I mentioned it to Number Four and she told me I looked pale.

Suddenly my name was called.

Number Five!

I stood up and started to walk to the phlebotomist’s table. I was dizzy. All I could think about was eating a sandwich. Or ribs. Or an entire chicken.

I sat down and looked at the phlebotomist. My heart sank. It was the guy who chewed gum and listened to his iPod as he drew blood.

The guy who looked like he rolled up on his skateboard after Chem Lab to draw blood for extra credit.

He was the one who, earlier that day, spent five minutes painfully digging in my veins until he had thrown his hands up in the air and told me I had ‘like, impossible veins, dude.’

I got even more dizzy.

He tied the cord around my arm and jammed out to his iPod. He rubbed the alcohol on my arm and blew a bubble.

The smell of the rubbing alcohol, his gum, and the memory of the last time he’d tried to take my blood were just too much.

Suddenly there were two gum-chewing phlebotomists. Then there was two of everything.

And right before I passed out, as my eyes rolled back into my head and I started to fall off my stool, I had two thoughts.

I hope they don’t kick me out so I can still move to Los Angeles.


I could eat a horse.

A few minutes later I woke up to find myself on the floor surrounded by people.

And a nurse was taking my blood.

I peeled my eyes open, looked up, and whispered to her groggily.

Please don’t make me leave. I have to get to Hollywood.

The nurse smiled at me and patted my head.

We won’t make you leave. As long as you can keep giving blood.

And I did.

During the next draw (two hours later) I was so weak I couldn’t even get out of bed. And the next one I hardly made it to a sitting position.

But I didn’t give up.

I wanted it too badly.

Eventually I became stronger. And when I left the study I was four pounds lighter, had arms that looked like I’d done a copious amount of drugs, and skin that was starving for sunlight.

But I was $3,500 richer.

I was one step closer to my dream of moving to LA.

And a month later I was driving past the Hollywood sign, the sixty-four blood draws a distant memory.

My dad’s right. I am lucky to be here. I worked so hard to get where I am.

I literally bled for Los Angeles.

I need to remind myself of that sometimes. I sacrificed a lot to move out here.

And I better appreciate every damn second of it.

It’s what Number Five would have wanted.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Last week I watched a woman who was six months pregnant fit into a pair of jeans that I couldn’t get over my arm.

That’s when I decided I needed to join Core Power Yoga.

I should have known that with words like “core” and “power” in the title, it was something I was going to struggle with. But I attended my first class with an open mind.

After all, I was the captain of my basketball team – surely I could do this.

The kind of yoga I was starting calls for the room to be hot. And it was. 103 degrees, to be exact.

Driving there that morning I had thought that maybe I could meet cute (and limber) men in class.

In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m of Norwegian descent and we Norsks only look good at temperatures below 60 degrees.

As soon as I opened the door to class and the hot air hit me in the face, hopes of attracting anyone of the opposite gender went out the window along with my dignity.

I set up my mat and glanced around at the people in the room. My eyes settled on a man to my right.

Immediately, I knew I wouldn’t like him.

He was wearing short-shorts and no shirt and was lying on his mat in a meditative state that seemed to say, “all you other jokers think you can do yoga, but check out my rock hard abs and my perfect meditation skills!”

I tried to focus as the instructor walked in. I told myself I didn’t need to prove anything to this man. WHO CARES.

The yoga instructor smiled at all of us but gave a special wink to the man in the corner.

Hi, Kevin.

She smiled at him like they had history.

I seethed. Didn’t he know that I had a monopoly on being the teacher’s pet in elementary school? That was my territory!

The class began with simple breathing and some basic downward dogs. As the music sped up so did our movements.

I started to sweat so much it was getting in my eyes. My hands started slipping all over the mat and I glanced over at Kevin.

He was fine. Perfect, actually.

The instructor looked over at him during a particularly hard movement and beamed.

Excellent, Kevin.

I grimaced and twisted deeper.

“NOTICE ME!! I can do it too!” the frizzy-haired, big glasses, third grader inside of me shouted.

Finally the instructor asked us to prepare for “crane pose.” Which is this:

At this point I was so sweaty my yoga pants were bunching in inappropriate places. My hair was a mess of tangles and, because of the intense heat, hives had started to creep up my neck and onto my face.

But I could not let Kevin beat me.

I prepared for the position.

And it was hard.

Like – really hard.

As much as I tried, I could not get my feet to rise even an inch off the ground. My elbows slipped off my knees and all I could manage was to squat there with all of my limbs on the mat, as if I was preparing for a serious game of leapfrog.

I stole a glance at Kevin.

Not only was he doing a perfect crane pose, but he was also beginning to raise his legs even higher. I watched from my frog position as his legs came all the way up over his head with the help of ONLY HIS UPPER BODY and into a perfect, beautiful handstand.

The teacher noticed too.


It took all my restraint not to swipe Kevin’s hands out from under him with my sweaty feet.

By the end of class I couldn’t tell if the sweat that was now dripping into my ears was from yoga or my frustration that I couldn’t do what Kevin could do.

But when the instructor told us all that she hoped we took something positive and meaningful from class, I paused.

What was I here for again?

It was not (as it turns out) to be competitive.

It was not to prove to anyone that I was strong or flexible or could do a complete hand stand from crane position.

No. It was to improve myself.

It was to let myself have one hour where I could just focus on me.

And it didn’t matter that I was not good at yoga. It didn’t matter that Kevin was a million times better than me.

It didn’t matter because…it just didn’t.

And during the next class I focused on me. I didn’t even look at Kevin once.