It was the worst of times, it was the slightly-less-worse of times.
I could easily talk about the scary direction our country’s been going in. I could easily talk about how angry and terrified and freaking exhausted I and others are, worrying about our future. I could also talk about the #MeToo moment. The fact that sexists in my chosen industry are, on the one hand, dealing with a reckoning, and on the other hand, might simply be laying low until this “watershed moment” blows over.
But I won’t.
This is my personal blog, and so I want to focus on the goings on in my personal life, which may or may not intersect with the goings-on in the world, but is most certainly where I’ve managed to find some joy and hope. Things we could all use going into the new year. And as I look back, a lot more good happened than I remembered! So, here we go…
The thrilling experience of the historic Women’s March on January 21st was surrounded by lots of connecting with the women in my life. Looking at my calendar from January 2017, it’s chock full of hang-outs with friends like Ally, Aurora, Cheryl, Ruthi, Helenna, Heather, Rachel, and Monique. I started having regular “writing dates” with my friend Adam, where we’d get together to each individually work on whatever writing projects we’re working on, just to light a fire under our asses to get stuff done (I also helped him move). I was also in the thick of my Intro to Judaism class, which ended up changing my life.
Trump got inaugurated as President, and that put a pall on the first half of my year. Seriously, I felt like I was walking around shell-shocked for the first three/four months. There was a lot of fight, then a lot of feeling burnt out, then a lot of fight again. There were some conflicts with family. And yet, I also managed to tend to my relationships (and mend family fences), study a new faith and culture, and generally hold on to my sanity. I call that a win.
January Highlights: seeing La La Land with Adam, seeing Hidden Figures with Ada, Heather’s birthday chill-fest, visiting the set of NBC’s (sadly canceled) Powerless for work, Rikki’s postcard brunch (where we wrote our congresspeople, and also had eggs), participating in the “Rant and Rave” storytelling event.
FEBRUARY MEANT STARTING TO BATTLE MY DEMONS
It was on February 2nd, 2017 that I started taking action to deal with my compulsive overeating. Spoiler alert: it’s not just about food. It’s about how I deal with life and my emotions, and in February I really started to delve into all of the things, learning better habits, confronting certain issues and flaws. I am so grateful I was able to find the willingness to accept help and take direction. I started 2017 at 295 pounds, and I’m ending 2017 much, much lighter.
February Highlights: writing group pot luck, interviewing Suzy Nakamura, dinner/drinks with Rachel, hanging w/Monique, attending the YouTube/Geena Davis Foundation #ShesGotDrive event, girls’ night at Allison’s, babysitting Mairghread’s son, seeing Get Out with Heather, escape room with Ally, FilmPowered mastermind brunch, sound mixer brunch with Ada, Intro to Judaism shabbaton, Moonlight took the Oscar after all whaaaaaat!
MARCH MEANT FULLY EMBRACING JUDAISM
My Intro to Judaism class ended in March, and after taking the class, I fully committed to becoming a Jew by Choice. I’m so grateful for our teacher, Rabbi Adam Greenwald, for creating such a wonderful, inclusive and welcoming curriculum that made Judaism feel like a family I could be a part of. I’m also grateful for Ikar, the shul at which my wife and I are now proud members. As of March we’d been going regularly for about a year, and it was then that it truly started feeling like home.
March Highlights: celebrating my wife’s birthday, seeing Logan, Purim at Ikar, interviewing the cast of Orphan Black (except for Tatiana Maslany, dammit!) at their PaleyFest event, interviewing the cast of Westworld (except for Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jonathan Nolan, and Lisa Joy, dammit!) at their PaleyFest event, Cuties Queer Carnival.
APRIL BROUGHT NEW FOCUS, AND STIRRED UP THE OLD WOUNDS
April will always contain the anniversaries of my parents’ deaths. That’s just always the way it’s going to be. This year, however, I did something that I hadn’t done in previous years. I took those days off work. And I was glad I did. I hadn’t before really given those days the respect (and myself the care on those days) that they deserved, and really marking those days by doing things to remember my parents felt right. I will likely be doing that for the foreseeable future.
However, I also got to spend time with my new family through my wife. We went to the DC area to spend Passover with her mom and to visit her dad. So, even as I was thinking about the family I’ve lost, I’ve also found a lot of love in the family I’ve gained.
April also found me beginning to take action on a new focus that you’ll be hearing me talk a lot more about this coming year: working to end homelessness in L.A. (and everywhere). It was also a very eventful month, and it was when I applied for Honeymoon Israel! (Spoiler alert: see December)
April Highlights: going to Wondercon, seeing Colossal and interviewing Anne Hathaway and Nacho Vigalondo, celebrating Passover in Frederick, Sandra’s “dorm room” party, Renee’s annual Titanic screening, volunteering at breakfast service at Covenant House, volunteering at dinner service at PATH, taking Alexandra’s awesome distribution class, going to Marina’s for #WeAreWITI, attending the Artemis Film Festival.
In May, I had a break-up of sorts. After over a year of working with her, my therapist Tannaz moved on to another job, and I had my final session with her. It was hard, as I’d come to really, really appreciate the way she worked with me. But all good things must come to an end, and I started up with a new therapist, Sarah, who has become a wonderful partner-in-crime in figuring out my brain. Things may or may not be continuing with her due to scheduling conflicts, so stay tuned…
May Highlights: interviewing directors for new Incredible Girl footage, seeing Manifesto with Ada, seeing Megan Leavey with Caroline, seeing 47 Meters Down with Heather (the movie suuuucked, but Heather and I had a great time getting drunk and making fun of it), Queers Coffee and Donuts, hiking with Dana, Jason’s b-day BBQ, celebrating my first Shavuot with Ikar.
NEW RELATIONSHIPS TOWARD MY GREATER MISSION
In June, I started two important relationships with two organizations with which I started working intensely as I started to really put energy toward the causes that matter to me. I had my first conversation with Jennifer Heastings, the president and founder of Arts Out Loud, an organization that aims to provide scholarships and mentorship to LGBTQ youth in the arts. That conversation led to me joining my first Board! That continues to be a rewarding experience.
The other relationship I started was with L.A. Family Housing, an advocacy organization for those experiencing homelessness in L.A. It’s basically a hub that serves the homeless population, providing everything from housing, to food, to job placement, and everything in between. I got to know the organization through their L.A. Family Housing Week, during which I got donations of supplies they needed for their residents, and volunteered in their kitchen. I plan on working with them a lot more in the new year.
June Highlights: seeing Wonder Woman!!!!, Cuties Queer Bazaar, L.A. Dyke Day, volunteering at Union Station Family Center’s dinner service, going to Julia Kaye’s art show, Trans Pride, Ikar Pride Shabbat, casting our leads for Incredible Girl, seeing the play Why We Become Witches (directed by Kate Motzenbacker), hiking with Adam, participating in the “Back Story” storytelling event, dinner and games at Sam’s, interviewing for Honeymoon Israel.
USHERING IN MY 38TH BIRTHDAY ON THE ROAD
July was all about travel and connecting with the people nearest and dearest to me, as I went on two big trips this month. First, to Portland to celebrate the wedding of Ada’s (and my) cousins Adina and Caitlin, which was so much fun. My birthday happened to be the same day that we were flying back to L.A. from there, so I celebrated my birthday in the air. Actually, I celebrated my birthday the following Saturday, with brunch, the beach, dinner, and Baby Driver.
And then there was my trip to New York at the end of the month, where I attended my 20 YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (why yes! I AM that old!) which was way more fun than I was expecting, and had my yearly re-charge with my best friends during our annual “Shady Pines Convention” (Liz even made commemorative shirts!). Got to see family and dear friends. It was an awesome visit.
And in between all that, we shot some new footage for Incredible Girl! That footage is currently being edited.
July Highlights: Portland, New York, my birthday, dinner with Ada’s dad when he visited L.A., shooting new Incredible Girl footage (missteps, drama and all), celebrating Renee’s birthday.
STARTING TO PLAN OUR “REAL WEDDING”
As you may or may not know, when my wife and I got married in December of 2016, it was a bit of an “emergency wedding” that we threw together in two weeks, with most of our loved ones needing to livestream it in order to witness it. Trump had just been elected, and we wanted to make sure to make it legal before his inauguration.
However, I was not yet Jewish, and we wanted to have a full Jewish ceremony (which we didn’t the first time), and have a “real,” larger wedding that our family and friends could actually attend. So we started our planning in earnest in August and began looking at venues. We currently have our venue, DJ, and photographer all picked out, and we’re going to continue with the rest of our planning after tomorrow. The big event is scheduled for July 2018!
August Highlights: first Arts Out Loud board meeting, game night at Sam’s, brunch with Adam and Caroline, seeing our friend Erica rock it out in an experimental play, attending that month’s WIMPS (Women in Motion Pictures Salon), seeing Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (brilliant!), choosing our wedding venue, attending the Half Foundation short film festival.
PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN TAKES OVER MY LIFE
As I mentioned above, I thoroughly LOVED Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, and was grateful to get to do press for the film for The Mary Sue. What I was not expecting was for Annapurna Films to fly me out to the Toronto Film Festival to cover the film’s premiere! Swank hotel? Check. Press junket where I got to interview the cast and director? Check. Attending the world premiere of the film after having already seen a private screening? Check-check. Also, I got to finally go to Canada, which I had never done before. Sadly, because it was a work trip, I didn’t get to see much of the actual city, but I had a great time, and was happy to support such an awesome film however I could.
September Highlights: traveling to Toronto, seeing and covering the press junket for Battle of the Sexes (and getting to do a one-on-one interview with Natalie Morales!), celebrating my first Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as an almost-Jew, hiking with Adam and Caroline, helping Heather move.
OCTOBER WAS A VERY MIXED BAG
And theeeen….there was the car accident. Thankfully, Ada and I weren’t hurt, but the car we share was pretty banged up when, on the way to a tax prep appointment (we’d gotten an extension. Yes, I know it’s October) we were hit by a twentysomething who didn’t slow down when other cars did as we were turning into the parking lot, because she was looking at her phone. That was not a fun experience, and the car was out of commission for a while, putting a financial strain on us we didn’t need. But, it all worked out in the end, and thankfully, the rest of the month didn’t suck quite that badly.
October Highlights: attending that month’s “Writers Who Love Writers” meet-up, presenting my “Create Like an Activist” workshop for the first time for the San Gabriel Valley Women Writer’s group, celebrating Sukkot, coffee with Alessandra, working on my first freelance video game writing gig, guest-hosting on Supergirl Radio, discovering Star Trek: Discovery (and loving it!), celebrating Simchat Torah, finally seeing Diani and Devine Meet the Apocolypse (and loving it!), including my teensy cameo!
THE BEGINNING OF MY HONEYMOON ISRAEL JOURNEY
So, remember back in the spring where I interviewed for Honeymoon Israel? Well, Ada and I were accepted! That meant that we would be going on a 10-day, 5-star trip to Israel (heavily subsidized – we only paid about $1800 for both of us!), and November was when we first met all the couples with whom we’d be traveling at a Honeymoon Israel brunch!
November also marks the official beginning of my journey as a Jew, as I had my first meeting with my sponsoring Rabbi, Rabbi Nate at Ikar, who’s walking me through the conversion process. Yay, Judaism!
November Highlights: seeing Thor: Ragnarok with Ada, Adam, and Caroline, Lexx’s baby shower, choosing our wedding DJ, crowdfunding for Arts Out Loud scholarships, working on our Incredible Girl pitch with Aurora, Geena Davis Institute panel with Dawn, game night with Josh and Lindsay, Honeymoon Israel orientation.
ISRAEL, ISRAEL, ISRAEL
Our Honeymoon Israel trip this month changed our lives more than I could ever express in a blog post. We made 34 new friends who are all wonderful. We shared the experience of seeing an amazing country. We had lots of feels. We were exhausted and rejuvenated at the same time. Traveling to Israel was not only the highlight of my December, but quite possibly the highlight of our married life so far. It was a wonderful way to celebrate our first year of marriage and our fifth year as a couple.
December Highlights (other than Israel, if that’s possible): hanging with Helenna, starting my relationship with the producer of Homeward L.A. (a theater project I’ll be co-producing, which you’ll be hearing more about next year!), celebrating my Paper wedding anniversary with my best friend, celebrating Hanukkah in Israel, attending the first WIMPS of Color salon, fully observing Shabbat for the first time, ending the year 70 pounds lighter than when I started it.
And now, I’m off to ring in the New Year with my wife and some good friends.
I’m so glad I did this. For all that we’ve been saying “2017 sucked” on auto-pilot, the truth is: a lot of good happened to me this year.
Here’s to a 2018 full of joy, peace, and hope for all of us. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.