Monday, December 31, 2012

Hi, Again

I love New Year’s Eve.

I’m not talking about the glitz of the party dress or the free flowing champagne (although I’ll take those too.) 

I’m talking about the chance to start over again.  Hit the reset button.

This year, in particular, I’m excited to say goodbye to what has been the hardest year of my life.

I know.  That’s quite a statement.   Especially taking into consideration the dark year of 1992 when I didn’t get the role of ‘Cowgirl #1” in our school play.

That is not to say that I haven’t had some good moments this year (hello all-expense-paid trip to Europe) but emotionally and mentally I have struggled. 

I stopped blogging in the spring blaming it on not having the energy or the time.  But there was a part of me that felt like nothing in my life seemed worth writing about. 

This year was also especially hard as I lost one of the most important people in my life, my grandfather. Although I had wanted to write something for him after his funeral, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  As if putting down on paper that he wasn’t here anymore made it too real. 

Too final.

Even though he had been sick.  Even though he was older.  Even though everyone told me he was at peace now, it didn’t seem to matter.  The fact was that he was gone. That we would never again have this conversation for the thousandth time:

How’s my favorite granddaughter?

I’m your only granddaughter, Grandpa.

I know, but you’re still my favorite.

I lost someone who was in my corner.  Who always had my best interest in mind and who loved me unconditionally – no matter what crazy play I made him go to or how many times I broke his heart and moved a little further away. 

He was always a champion for my happiness.

It’s scary to realize that I might have to be that for myself now.  That a space in my life has opened up that no one can really fill.  That it’s now up to me to take all that wisdom and love that Grandpa dolled out over the years and wallpaper it on my heart.

For Christmas this year my grandma gave me Grandpa’s wedding ring that he had worn for forty-two years. 

For me, it’s not only a reminder of a man who was the touchstone of our family but also a reminder of where I came from and what kind of person I was raised to be.

The kind of person who welcomes the future with open arms, unafraid.

So welcome, 2013. 

I’ve been waiting for you all year. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Watch Me

Thanks to my father’s home videos, I’ve spent the last several hours watching my childhood flash before my eyes.

And the recurring theme is:

I. Loved. Attention.

Every time my parents would try and capture my younger brother doing something sweet or cute, I would zoom by in my big glasses, permed hair, and Zubaz and scream.


Sometimes I would take a more subtle approach by saying enticing things off camera.

Oh Boy. This is so crazy, guys!  Sure would make a GREAT video.

There is even a moment when I’m seven and the camera stops suddenly (after I had shouted many of the phrases above) and then reappears with me planted firmly in front of the lens.

This was clearly my moment.  I stared expectantly at my father and it looked like I was about to do something really amazing - really spectacular and worth all the fuss.

And then my father says his (clearly coached) line.

Now here is Jessica, crowing like a rooster.

Like I said, worth the fuss.

And boy did I crow.  I crowed my little heart out.

And that was it.  I ran happily away having proven to the world that I probably should have been on medication.

I haven’t written in a while. 

At first, I was busy.  Then more busy.  And then I was just pretending I was busy.

Somewhere about a week ago, I realized I was avoiding writing about my life because of a very specific reason.

I didn’t think it was worth it.

I didn’t think I was worth it.

Pass the Prozac.

Lately I’ve been wandering around in a strange pool of low self-esteem and copious amounts wine.

After a less-than-fruitful pilot season, it started to feel like all the ‘nos’ I’d been hearing were aimed right at my heart.

Right at the place where I hold the most important parts of myself.

And I started to believe I was only worth a ‘no.’

When you are pursuing a career where you face rejection every day, that is a very dangerous place to be.

And even though I’ve stuffed that little girl who will crow like a rooster behind better hair, contacts, and pants that have no geometric patterns, the nos were still getting in.

Every time I walked into a casting office I gave up all of my power and felt like I would die for just an ounce of their approval.

Surprisingly, this tactic wasn’t working.

Instead of seeing that confident, smart, talented, and funny girl I wanted them to see, they saw someone else completely:

A girl wearing Zubaz and making bird noises.

And no one wants to work with that girl.

In fact, I think I know that girl and she lives in the alley behind the McDonalds.

And finally, after a particularly hard audition where I drove snot-nosed and bleary-eyed home in the Yaris after a casting director looked me up and down and said “THAT’S an interesting outfit,” I had had enough.

I was done letting rejection in so deep.

It’s my party and I’ll crow if I want to. 

So, while I’m still asking people to watch me it now comes from a different place.

Watch me.

Watch me be enough.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Red, Shiny Kind of Love

As a kid, being in love was gross and candy was awesome.

Which is why I loved Valentine’s Day. There was so much free candy and very little thought given to all that yucky love business.

But now that I’m older, love seems a lot less gross and candy a lot more harmful to my calorie count.

Which is really a bummer since I’m single and have access to a lot of candy.

This week, as Valentine’s Day approached, I tried to keep my head up. I tried to tell myself this was a fake holiday designed to sell cards. I tried to convince myself that I was going to make it about love in general (for my friends, for my family, for my apartment that has wood floors) but I just wasn’t feeling it.

I was alone and it was a little sad.

Pass the candy.

By last night I had become officially bitter. After waiting on countless couples at the restaurant (who were beating the Valentine’s Day rush by dining out the night before) I was done. A girl can only gush about what a “cute couple you are” so many times before she wants to drown herself in a sea of chocolate-covered sea salt caramels.

Luckily I had those waiting at home.

As I left work, I remembered I had planned to make cookies to give to a few people for Valentine’s Day. Baking always makes me feel better and in a last desperate attempt to salvage this bunk holiday I turned into the nearest grocery store to get a few ingredients.

I pushed past people buying last minute boxed candy and teddy bears, becoming increasingly annoyed.

Stupid day. Stupid hearts. Stupid candy. STUPID LOVE!

I grabbed my milk and Crisco and headed for check out.

I glanced at the person ahead of me in line. He was buying one thing.

A 2-liter bottle of Vodka.

Apparently I wasn’t the only person feeling lonely.

The man behind me was also purchasing one thing: A vase of roses with a stuffed bear hanging on it.

I felt my heart lurch but tried to cover it with much more comfortable bitter thoughts.

He’s clearly not really in love because he’s buying last minute. Who would want a teddy bear anyway? He is just feeding into the scam that is this stupid holiday.

But the roses were nice. In fact, they were beautiful. I had to swallow an urge not to stick out my nose and smell them.

The man caught my eye and smiled. I smiled and turned away, focusing back on my Crisco and my disillusion. I paid and walked to my car thinking I too should have bought a giant bottle of vodka.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

It was the man who had bought the teddy bear. He was waving to me vigorously from the sidewalk.

Had I forgotten something? Had he come to shove the stupid gift in my face one more time? I stopped in the middle of the street and he ran up to my car.

Everything my mother had ever told me about strange men approaching my car ran through my head.

This is how a mugging begins. He is going to wield a knife and I’m going to be on the news as the dumb girl who stopped for America’s Most Wanted Felon.

I opened my window just a hair.


I am so sorry to bother you.

He spoke with a slight Eastern European accent.

It’s okay. Did I forget something?

No, no. I just…well. I am driving my motorcycle and so I can’t take this with me.

He pulled out a heart shaped helium balloon, the shiny kind that you can see yourself in.

I just wanted to give it to you…as a gift to say Happy Valentine’s Day.

I was surprised as I reached out to take the balloon. There was nothing sinister in the way he said it. Nothing overtly sexual or romantic. It was just…nice.

I rolled down my window a little more and he smiled and handed it to me.

I hope you have a very happy day tomorrow.

He ran back across the street and after a few shocked moments, I drove away with my shiny balloon.

After awhile, I started to smile. Grin actually. As my heart-shaped balloon bounced beside me I wondered what had possessed him to do such a thing.

Had he noticed that I was feeling lonely? Was there something in the way I looked at his roses that was a bit too full of longing?

The more I thought of it the more I smiled.

As I climbed my apartment steps, I it occurred to me that he hadn’t had the balloon when he was standing in line. Which meant that he bought it after I left. And furthermore, he obviously knew that he drove a motorcycle so why buy the balloon in the first place?

The more I mulled it over the more I realized - he had specifically purchased the balloon for me.

Maybe he thought I needed cheering up. Maybe he thought I needed to be reminded that this holiday can be about small, simple acts of love.

Whatever the reason, his little bit of kindness had warmed my heart.

That night, as I happily cut out cupid-shaped cookies, I smiled knowing that there are lots of versions of love alive in this city.

There is the kind of love that makes you spend your whole life with someone.

And then there’s the kind of love that makes you give a lonely stranger a red, shiny, heart-shaped balloon.

This year, I’m celebrating that kind of love.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Book Club received a bad review.

(It took me three shots of vodka to be able to write that sentence.)

Some of you may have heard me talk about, promote, Facebook, email, Tweet, shout from the window of my Yaris to the homeless man picking through the garbage, to WATCH BOOK CLUB!

(You can watch it here on Hulu!)

I’ve been obsessed with getting people to watch and (hopefully) love it.

Well, somebody didn’t.

(More vodka!)

This person was a stranger with access to a small blog about ‘true bibliophiles’ (something Book Club, according to her, is not.)

Noah found it last night when I was at work. Between serving beef carpaccio to millionaires I would sneak back into the coatroom and read snippets of her blog in which this random woman tears my little show apart.

At first I was angry. (Just ask table twelve when they asked for more cheese.)

How dare she!? Does she not know that I worked for THREE YEARS on this?? That this project kept me from leaving Los Angeles, that I spent thousands of dollars of my own money, countless days of my life, and put my heart and soul into this project. Does she not realize how amazing our cast and crew was to work with? How many people gave up so much of their time???

And then I realized it.

No. Of course she doesn’t.

And she shouldn’t be expected to.

Because it doesn’t matter.

We were brave enough to create something. Put something out there, and welcome anyone’s feelings about it, good or bad.

When Book Club was first in my head it was safe. It was protected from the world and its opinions. It would have been easy to keep it like that, never forcing it out and exposing it to people who might hate it.

But that’s not who we are. We are much braver than that.

And as much as I hate to say this, she is welcome to her opinion.

But I am welcome to mine too.

And I think Book Club is fabulous.


A large part of me would like to attack this person personally to see if I can make her feel like I did when I first read it. But that’s not who I am.

(But if it was, I would suggest to her that if you are going to write a bad review about something, you should get the name of the main character right. It’s MARLO not Harlo.)

The more I read the review, and re-read it, and then printed it out and wallpapered my walls with it, I started to realize something.

I don’t agree with her. In fact, I think she missed the whole point entirely.

And my opinion matters just as much.

She seemed to have wanted Book Club to be more about characters just sitting around reading. She wanted elitist bibliophiles in a real book club talking about the ‘right’ books. (Even the fact that she calls certain books the ‘right’ books tells me we are not on the same page.)

From the moment she criticized the ‘creatives behind the show’ for choosing a book (Ulysses) that no one would ever read in a ‘real’ book club because of its length, I knew she didn’t understand the show.

We tried to make a fun, silly, quirky, comedy. We wanted people to laugh, be engaged, and want to watch more.

We wanted everyone from non-readers to avid book lovers to love the show.

She’s right. This show is not just for elitist bibliophiles.

This is a comedy. It’s not going to be reality. That’s not what we wanted for it.

And I think she was looking for a serious show, which makes it obvious why she was so disappointed.

Because that’s not what it is.

And thank God because that show sounds boring.

In this business you have to have a tough skin.

I’ve never taken criticism that well. I think we all remember this incident.

But after reading the review for the twenty-second time I started to notice I was feeling something other than indignant.

I was relieved.

Because someone hated Book Club.

And miracle of all miracles I did not implode.

In fact, I’m still incredibly proud of it.

Her words don’t change the fact that my partners and I had an idea that we turned into a living breathing series on the biggest online network available.

And love it or hate it, you can’t take that away from us.

So I’ll tear down the words of her review that have been lining my heart all night and throw them away.

Because it doesn’t matter.

It’s inconsequential.

Now excuse me while I go find out where she lives.

Friday, January 13, 2012


This week I had my stars read.

Don’t tell my grandfather or it will confirm that the ‘damn liberals’ have finally got me.

The reading was a Christmas present from my boss and the whole experience was much different than I thought it would be.

It was much less ‘woman-in-a-turban-reading-a-cracked-egg’ and much more like my reader was translating another language.

There was no guessing or card picking or palm reading. It was just based on facts.

Meaning, she simply looked at where the planets were at the exact time and place of my birth and gleaned meaning from those locations.

I was shocked at the accurateness of it all.

When I was a little girl, between the hole digging and the gymnastics, I thought a lot about my place in the world.

I wasn’t out on my roof with a crystal ball, but I was constantly aware that my life seemed…brace yourself…. pre-destined.

(Grandpa, it’s those ‘liberal commies’ talking again.)

In other words, I never felt like I was a mistake.

So, as I listened to a virtual stranger describe my inner soul better than I could have, I had an incredible feeling of validation.

Like I’d been right all these years. That I’m on a course I was meant for.

Sometimes in Los Angeles it feels a bit like I am floating around aimlessly. Trying to pay my bills, trying to book a job, trying not to dump wine onto a poor-tipping elderly woman.

But to believe that I have some kind of purpose, some kind of destiny, is reassuring in this shaky city.

The main piece of advice that stuck with me through the reading, the thing I thought about a lot today when I went to yet another audition for a ‘quirky blonde girl’ was this:

Lately you probably feel like you are banging your head against a brick wall. But you need to step back, look up at the wall and surrender. Just know that this is where you are supposed to be right now.

I think the universe has a wicked sense of humor if it thinks ‘where I’m supposed to be right now’ is eating cereal for dinner on my bed and trying to figure out if by ‘FINAL NOTICE’ the power company really just means ‘Happy New Year.'

But okay. I surrender. I will accept that this is where I need to be.

After all, it’s written in my stars.

My ‘Communist, liberal, peace-loving’ stars.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chez Moi

It was a long year.

I'm pretty sure 2011 was specifically designed to see how much stress I could handle, how many call-backs I could get without getting cast, and how many times I could utter the phrase, I can't afford it.

(Answers: A lot, about 18, and every single day.)

The last blow was the LA arsonist. Nothing says goodbye 2011 like fifty fires (two around my apartment) in three days.

Bring on 2012! End of days here we come!

One of my resolutions this year is to enjoy my life more. If you know me you might think that sounds silly but to be honest I've been a little low these last few months.

And I have so much to be thankful for.

So this year, I am pledging to take stock of how lucky I am and really try to notice the beauty that's all around me.

That, and wear more earrings.

Hey, a girl has to have priorities.

And since I'm seriously considering moving to Santa Monica this year, I thought I would start with acknowledging just how thankful I am to have my apartment.

It was our two year anniversary in December.

I celebrated by almost paying my rent on time.

This little place has been just right for me. I feel lucky every time I walk in the door.

So...with the help of my iPhone and some serious Instagram action I wanted to share why I'm so thankful.

Happy New Year!