The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

Tag: L.A. Year One (Page 1 of 2)

L.A. Year One: It’s Been a Year Today

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Well, kids, this is it. Today officially marks a year since I moved from New York to Los Angeles.

And what a year it’s been!

Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve lived in seven neighborhoods (Santa Monica, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Mid-City, El Sereno, North Hills, Los Feliz) and slept on three beds, four couches, one futon, and one mattress on the floor. I still don’t have my own apartment (though I came close that one time), but that will change in October, as my friend and executive producer, Miley, and I will be going in on an apartment together that will become L.A.’s newest artist hub. πŸ™‚

Speaking of Miley – the biggest thing I’ve taken on in a year’s worth of Big Things is RETCON. I went from just being a writer on it, to actually invested in producing the dang thing. πŸ™‚ I’m proud to be a part of it, and I hope our IndieGoGo campaign does well so that I can continue working on it, as I truly believe that it has the potential to be something really special.

Living here has given me a lot of professional opportunities. I’m closer to all the writing fellowships I need to be applying to in television when I’m ready to do that (I didn’t apply to any this year, as a tumultuous living situation isn’t really conducive to writing things for which you’re not getting paid), I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several well-established writers in television to whom I can go with all my silly beginner questions, I’m closer to a lot of entertainment-related stories, which provides excellent paid writing gig fodder, and I’ve had the chance to meet some of my favorite actors/writers/performers in a professional capacity, but outside the context of work (ie: not at a signing/event/photo op). I’m also in an environment where people are always actively making something, so if I ever want to be involved in putting a show together, all I really have to do is ask.

Being in L.A. has also allowed me to be a bigger part of the Geek Community! I’ve gotten to meet popular web creators and go to all these West Coast conventions (SDCC, WonderCon, GeekGirlCon, Gallifrey One) that I’d either never been to before, or that were difficult for me to get to before, and being friends with many of the founding members of the League of Extraordinary Ladies has allowed me to stay looped in to all sorts of fun and geektastic goings-on. L.A. is the epicenter of the geek creative community, and I’m glad to be here, both to be inspired by it and to work within it.

I’ve also been more physically active here than I was in New York. Sure, I did a lot of walking in New York, but here I do the same amount of walking over longer distances. Also, I’ve taken a shine to hiking, as there are so many trails I have easy access to. I’ve lost about 20 lbs since I’ve been here (at least, that’s from when I started counting in January – it might be a bit more), and while I’ve gotten lazy on the hiking in the past couple of weeks, I’ll certainly be getting back to it, as it’s something I really enjoy. I’ve been eating better, too, as it’s so much easier to get fresh produce all year round, and people tend to eat healthily in general.

However, this first year in L.A. has caused me to feel more extreme emotions than I ever have before. It’s funny, I was talking to my friend Emily last night (at a fabulous thing called Ladies Night Out in Burbank, where this strip of shops on Magnolia all have discounts and there are food trucks and snacks and free samples, etc – last Friday of every month!) and was able to articulate for the first time some of my mixed feelings about this city. It shocks me that L.A. is a city that is entirely built on qualities that no one likes. I happen to know some very down to Earth, solid, loyal people out here – and yet there’s this unwritten agreement that L.A. is this superficial, shallow place where how you dress, who you know, what you look like, whether you have a smartphone or a regular cell phone, and what car you drive is more important than your talent, or what kind of person you are…and the answer I hear everywhere, even from people I respect is, “Well, that’s just how L.A. is.” Well, people I know in and around the industry I’ve chosen to get into, anyway.

That’s been the most frustrating thing to deal with this year. That despite everyone I know knowing it’s bullshit, they’re all perfectly content to put up with it because “that’s just how it is.” In my conversation last night, it basically boiled down to me having two options: Play Along To Get Along, or Go Home.

Now here’s the thing. I came out here to do some things, and I’m not leaving until I do them. πŸ™‚ So in my case, it seems that Play Along To Get Along is the answer. Luckily, I have two things working in my favor in order to make this option more palatable:

1) I Came Out Here at Age 32. Making big life changes in your thirties means you have a better grasp on who you are, what your deal-breakers are, and have more experience in dealing with different types of people. I feel better able to handle what gets thrown my way without being too worried about losing myself in the process, because I came out here with a certain level of maturity.

2) I’m Good At Compartmentalizing. One of the things several friends of mine in New York told me before I got here was that I would do well, because I’m good at “playing the game.” Apparently, I’m good at making nice and hiding my reservations about people. I guess this is a good thing? I suppose it’s the thing that will allow me to survive out here.

But I just want to put this out there. Do not mistake my being nice for naivete or stupidity. It is neither. You have been warned.

And also, I don’t plan on staying silent about all of this unnerving me, either. Just because this is “how it is,” doesn’t mean I have to like it, and I reserve that as the one thing I will not fake.

Oh, L.A. you crazy, beautiful bitch. It’s been a hell of a year. And I’m still standing. I can handle it. You’re not getting rid of me that easily. And I suspect there’s more to you than meets the eye. Usually, when people focus on the superficial, they do it to mask insecurities. I’m sure the same is true of cities. But you know what, L.A? I’m sure you’ll still be beautiful, intelligent, and worthwhile even if you take off your make-up and cry in front of me. In fact, you might be more beautiful to me then. I’m looking forward to getting to know the real you – even if I have to flay layers of plastic surgery off you with a scalpel in order to do it.

Tonight, I’m having a First L.A.versary Party where some of those solid, loyal, down to Earth people I told you about will be joining me for karaoke and drinks. That, above all, is the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year. You can live anywhere as long as you seek out and hold onto quality people. I’ve done that, and that’s been the real thing that’s saved me in this crazy town. Thank you, L.A. friends for showing me the ropes and lending me a hand! I hope that as I continue to make my life out here, I can do the same for you!

I Am My Father’s Daughter

My dad and me, August 2011. The last time I saw him before moving to L.A.

When I look at the picture above, it’s insane to me how much my dad and I look alike. As I get older, I realize that we’re alike in more than just looks. For example, I seem to have inherited my father’s penchant for being late to everything. When I was younger, it would make me so angry, and I used to wonder how the hell my dad always managed to do it. Now that I’m doing it myself, I still have no idea. No matter what I do to be on time (setting two alarm clocks, leaving the house much earlier than I need to, having To Do lists so as to organize my time better), I always manage to get places a little late. Another inheritance? My love of debate. I will argue with anyone about anything, sometimes arguing points I don’t even believe just to see if I can do it. Because it’s fun. Because I grew up in a house where arguing with someone meant you loved them. My dad and I are alike in artistic temperament, in our love of learning, and our pride about The Things We Know. I see my father in some of my best qualities, and I see him in my flaws. But one thing is for sure – I am definitely my father’s daughter.

Which is why it hurts that I can’t talk to him anymore. For those of you who don’t know, my father suffers from dementia and has been in a nursing home for the past five years or so. While his health is pretty good despite several heart-related scares, his mind is gone. I wrote a piece about what that feels like like back in 2008 that’s still pretty accurate, should you care to read it, called Strange Country.

Before I left New York in September, I paid my dad one last visit at the home, which is where the picture above was taken. He barely said anything as my siblings and niece and Robin talked around him. I told him that I was moving to Los Angeles to try and be a television writer, and the news that his baby girl was leaving the state to pursue her writing dream was met with a blank stare and the sighed equivalent of “That’s nice, Dear.” This from a man who himself wanted to be a writer; a man who wrote three full-length plays in his late fifties and early sixties and shopped them around to theaters in New York; a man who wowed everyone with his poetry at a reading I organized. I didn’t cry, but I wanted to. It sucked that I couldn’t share my biggest news with him in a way that would get through to him.

However, my dad is never far from my mind as I make my way here in Los Angeles. Even though I couldn’t tell him about my move, or about being published in Whedonistas, or any of my other writing-related successes, I’m absolutely sure that he would be proud of me if he knew. My parents are much older than those of most of my peers, and grew up at a time and in a place where “following your dreams” was the last in a long list of priorities. As much happiness as there was in my dad’s life, there was also a lot of regret, particularly where writing was concerned, and a big reason why he was so gung-ho about sending me to NYU to study acting and writing was, I think, because he saw that I was completely serious about making a go of an artistic life, and wanted to live vicariously through me.

That used to make me feel pressure. It used to make me feel nervous about possibly failing and letting him down. Now? I know that as much as he would’ve loved Being a Writer, what he regretted most was Not Being Free To Write. It wasn’t about being a name or making money at it. It was about him never having had people tell him it was okay to do what he wanted to do. He’d always tell me that one of his biggest regrets was that, as much as he loved his parents, that they never really encouraged him academically. And telling them that he wanted to be a writer? SO not the thing to do as the oldest in a Puerto Rican family in New York in the 1950s. You either went to college for a “real job,” or you got married and got a job out of high school, or you joined the military. So that’s what he did. He did a term of service in the Air Force (pretty much between wars, so he never saw combat, thank God. But he DID see a lot of Greenland when he was stationed there for a year), he married my mother in 1960, and he had a respectable job with the Post Office for about 20 years and fathered three children. Then he started getting restless. He got his Master’s Degree in English Literature in the 80s, when I was a little girl. He studied abroad at that time, in Paris at the Sorbonne, allowing me to celebrate my 7th birthday in France. He changed careers a lot when I was a kid, and I think a lot of that had to do with him not being entirely happy. He was a TA at Touro College in their English Department. He sold real estate. But there was always writing, and when he started to pursue it more seriously in his later years, writing those plays or a collection of poetry, I helped him learn to type and taught him how to use a laptop so he could try to rejoin the writing world in an age of new-fangled technology. He tried so hard, finally finding the wherewithal in himself to just keep writing after a lifetime of not finding it in others. But by then it was too late. His mind started to go, and he eventually couldn’t write anymore. I didn’t appreciate what that meant at the time – I was too busy being annoyed that he needed me to explain how to cut and paste…again – but I appreciate it now, and it’s the thing that allows me to do what I do every day.

I’ve seen what happens when a person who needs to write, or otherwise be creative, stifles that in favor of the kind of life that everyone around you tells them they’re supposed to want. My dad didn’t want that for me, and I don’t want that for myself. And so I keep moving forward, despite the hardship, because I know from his experience that not moving forward, not living as a writer, would be much, much harder.

This Father’s Day, I want to say that I’m grateful for the gift of freedom that my dad gave me; grateful that he always let me know that living as an artist was okay if that’s what I wanted to do. It’s because of my dad that my life feels possible. It’s because of him that I’m not afraid of the insecurity that comes with this life, because I know that there are so many other things of which to be afraid.

To all the other dads out there who are giving their kids all their love, supporting them, and providing for them not only financially, but emotionally, I’d like to say HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! Particularly to my brother Kenny, who’s an awesome dad to my wonderful nephew, William, and my brilliant niece, Hannah. Speaking as a hard-core Daddy’s Girl, I’d be the first to say that I know just how important you wonderful men are. I hope you all have an amazing day today!

One of my absolute favorite pictures of my dad. I took this when I was 13 or 14, and my mom and dad and I went to Lake Ronkonkoma with family friends. He saw this lifeguard chair and just HAD to jump off of it! As was his way.

Helping Dad up after his “death-defying” leap. πŸ™‚

Clean-Up, Catch-Up, and Intros

Hey there, loyal readers! (all ten of you) You might have noticed that I’ve been a little ayzy-lay in the ogging-blay epartment-day. The past month’s been a little insane. Lots that I’ve tried to accomplish (but haven’t), financial insecurities, and by the way, I’m moving again! πŸ™‚ My third time in nine months. Nothing horrible, mind you. Just time for me to move on. At this rate, I’ll have had quite the grand tour of Los Angeles before my L.A. Year One comes to a close!

However, even though I haven’t been posting much of substance this past month (save my response to Moviefone and this post about Girls), I’ve been sprucing the place up little by little. You might have noticed some new tabs up top – like **MERCHANDISE** and **PRESS** and **SPEAKING.** Check them out!

Also, I’m hoping to get back to some regular features here. Some new, some that I’ve done before and miss doing. I’m hoping to do more with the following old features:

Pop Goes Teresa – wherein I talk about pop music intelligently, because I don’t automatically equate “pop” with “bad” or “unimportant.” (check out one of my posts on Lady Gaga)

Teresa’s Bookshelf – wherein I review books I’ve read and make recommendations! (check out my most recent reviews HERE)

The Fray Project – wherein I challenge myself to be better. Yes, I’m still doing this, and starting next week, I’m getting back into the swing of daily posting on that. (Read all about the project HERE)

There will also be a new feature I’m calling MINORITY REPORT, wherein I will highlight awesome work/projects/progress made by women, racial/ethnic minorities, and LGBT folks in the media. There will be some critical stuff, too, but it’s important to me not only to complain about what’s wrong, but celebrate what’s right. This will be my space for that. And when I say “media,” I mean TV, Film, and Comics. πŸ™‚

I also plan on doing more at my other blogs, The Gender Blender and Geek Girl Traveler, and I will be linking all that content here as it posts.

So, thank you for popping in and giving my words a gander. I hope you’ll come back to hang out and have a chat! I’ve got lots more chatter in store! πŸ™‚

L.A. Year One: SIX MONTHS IN

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That’s right, kids. I’ve been an L.A. resident for half a year TODAY. As in, my “L.A. Year One” is half OVER.

Holy crap. Where DOES the time go?

Time passes a bit differently here, I’ve noticed. It’s a bit Twilight Zone. I feel as though I just got here, and I feel like I’ve been here my whole life. It’s a strange thing having relatively consistent weather.

The past six months have been wonderful, and tumultuous, and exhilarating, and strange. They’ve been busy and boring. Mostly, they’ve been eye-opening. I’ve learned more about myself in the past six months than I have in the past several years. What I’m willing to do and not do. What I’m willing to work on, and what I’m willing to let go. That’s one of the benefits of being in an entirely new city away from your solid base of family and friends – you get to see yourself in full and figure out what you want to keep or discard without the people who know you best commenting on how “that’s not like you.”

At the same time, I’ve missed New York terribly. I see my friends back home making plans with each other over Facebook, and I wish I could join them. I see my friends and family going through hard times and wish I could be there in person to hug them. I have friends having babies and buying houses and I won’t be there either for the births or the housewarmings. It’s hard. It’s all the harder going through this in my early 30s rather than in my 20s.

And yet, when I think about how stifled I felt in New York toward the end of my time there, I realize I wouldn’t change a thing. As difficult as certain things have been, or as uncertain, I realize that this is actually the happiest I’ve ever been. For the first time, I’m dealing with my life as it is, not lamenting what could be, because I’m making the life that could be actually happen. I’m living that life. When I wake up every day, my life might not be perfect, but it’s exactly what I want, and it’s concrete, and it’s real, and it’s mine.

There’s a lot that’s wrong with L.A. (don’t even get me started on their backwards public transportation system), but the thing that’s most right is the way the city allows you to create your life out of thin air. New York may be the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” (look into correct use of prepositions, Alicia Keys), but Los Angeles gives you the permission and resources to build your own dreams. Right now, that’s exactly what I need.

Thank you, Los Angeles! And thank you to all of my West Coast friends! πŸ™‚

L.A. Year One: Resolutions, and My Second Blogiversary!

I don’t know if it’s the cross-country move, the start of a New Year, or what it is that, for some reason, makes 2012 feel more full of possibility than any year before it. For the first time, despite some moments of depression in recent months, I have not only a general feeling that my life is mine to shape in any way I want, but the fortitude and confidence and drive to do it and shape it into something good. There’s something strange and sad about the fact that this is the first time I’m feeling that way, but I’m not going to let that make me sad or second-guess my ability to create the kind of life I want. There’s no reason why I should shuffle along being content, when what I want (and deserve), is to be happy.

 

But first thing’s first. This here little blog, THE TERESA JUSINO EXPERIENCE, turned two years old today! Huzzah! *throws confetti* To those of you who’ve read, commented, given feedback, and linked to me – THANK YOU! I enjoy having a platform on which to both entertain and through which to communicate what’s important to me. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Secondly, in an effort to do that happy living I mentioned above, I’ve been thinking about how I’d like to go about doing that, and I’ve come around to one main resolution I have for the year:

To live more consciously and genuinely.

 

That sounds so broad, doesn’t it? Also, sounds like something obvious – something that one should be doing all the time, not just as a one-time goal or resolution. I agree. The thing is, it’s something I’ve struggled with, and most of the time, it’s a struggle at which I lose. I’m someone who’s “on” a lot of the time, being cheerful and upbeat even when I don’t feel that way so as not to bring anyone down. I’m someone who has certain ideals and dreams for this world that you’d never know from my actions. In the interest of not “being a party pooper,” of not inconveniencing anyone, of making others happy, and – I’ll just come out and say it – of being loved, I’ve held a lot of myself in. I’ve held in good things, and I’ve held in bad things. One problem is that withholding the good things deprives the world of them, when I could be using my enthusiasm and talent to better it. The other problem is that holding in the bad things does nothing but make them turn inward, hurting me, and that manifests itself in all sorts of ways; ways that I wasn’t fully conscious of until very recently. Like I said, it’s been a struggle, and while it would be great to just wake up one day and say, “I’m going to be a better person,” the fact is that it’s not something one can do overnight, and it’s the kind of thing that’s so big, it would be easy to throw up one’s hands and not bother, thinking it too big a thing to accomplish.

So, manageable chunks. It’s going to be something I focus on this year. I’m not thinking about the rest of my life, or the kind of person I want to turn into, or even 2013. I’m focusing on the next 365 days and how I, in those 365 days can live more consciously and more genuinely.

What does that mean to me? Well, by living more consciously I mean engaging with myself and the world every day. I mean actually thinking about each decision I make, rather than just doing things out of habit. I mean not sleepwalking through my life. By living more genuinely, I mean putting more of myself out into the world and not being afraid of what people will think. I mean being equally honest about when I’m happy and when I’m sad. I mean trusting the people who love me when they say that they prefer it when I’m honest, and “real,” and “not on.” I’ve had several conversations with people recently to that effect; times when I’ve been so depressed about something that I haven’t been able to hold it in, and my friends respond not with the boredom or distaste that I’m afraid of, but with love and the idea that they’d rather see me being genuine. They appreciate my humor and my boisterousness, sure, but they also appreciate me when I’m not being very funny at all. I need to remember that.

Living more genuinely also means telling people how I feel about them without being snarky or ironic about it. If I love someone, I should be able to tell them so without laughing, making a face, or turning it into some kind of joke. I mean, once in a while is okay – I generally have an ironic, sarcastic sense of humor – but it’s gotten to the point where it’s almost physically impossible not to be ironic. And that, to me, is a problem. If someone does something wonderful for me, I’d like to be able to thank them without qualifiers. There’s nothing inherently good about downplaying how much you need/like/enjoy a thing. In fact, if you do – and I know this from having received it – you make the person giving you/doing the nice thing feel a little bad about having given it to you. Of course they “shouldn’t have!” But that’s the whole thing about gifts and favors – people want to give them precisely because you weren’t expecting it. They want the joy of seeing you enjoy it, and trying excessively to give it back or not accepting it graciously takes that joy away from them. Not only is being honest about how you feel about something better for you, but it makes other people feel good, too.

I plan on living my resolution for the year by focusing on the following things:

1) Living my values – this means being active in my choices as a consumer and a citizen. It will affect where I buy my food, what businesses I frequent, and who I’ll vote for. It also means being more active in my support of things. I will volunteer for organizations I believe in and give money when I can, though it really is more about active support rather than just throwing money at things. I will be more vocal about what I believe. I’ve already started doing that, but I’d like to fight my inner-censor even more. Rather than worry about “bringing the party down” or having people think less of me, if something happens or someone does something in front of me that doesn’t jibe with my sense of decency, ethics, or justice, I’m going to say something and/or do something about it. I’m not going to let the world happen to me anymore. You’ve been warned! Lastly, living my values also means treating people the way I would like to be treated, and not taking the people I care about for granted or assuming they know how I feel. I’m going to tell them. Regularly. You’ve been warned about that, too. πŸ˜‰

2) Making my outward appearance and actions reflect what I feel/believe inside – This ties into the stuff above. I want people to know what I stand for based on my actions, not just on what I tell them. However, this also extends to how I feel and what I believe about myself. Right now, at 32 years old, I feel better about myself than I ever have before. I am an accomplished, intelligent, talented woman who must be doing something right in the kindness and compassion department if I have so many wonderful friends. Then why do I eat as if I don’t care about my body, health, or well-being? Why do I dress as if I don’t care what I look like and don’t think anyone else should bother looking at me anyway? Why do I try so desperately to hide myself from people under layers of fat and ill-fitting clothing, not wearing make-up (because God forbid someone look too hard at my face), and letting my hair fall lifelessly around my shoulders? It’s the whys of these things that I’ll be looking to address this year. Notice, I didn’t say “I’m going on a diet,” or “I wanna lose __ pounds.” Saying those things has never done anything for me. My hope is that, by focusing on the whys and eliminating them, the rest will fall into place. What I want to do is make the conscious choice every day to present myself in the best way possible and do what’s best for my body, and the only way I won’t is if I have a damn good reason. (Spoiler Alert: there are very few, if any, damn good reasons.)

3) Paying attention to my spiritual self – I rush all the damn time and yet never seem to have enough hours in the day. How is that possible? Shouldn’t rushing mean that I get more stuff done and have more time at the end of the day? What I’ve realized, though, is that a lot of my “rushing” has more to do with what’s going on in my head than what I’m actually doing. I’m rushing, when what I should be doing is slowing down. I want to make time to read books. I want to write in my paper journal. I want to pray more – not just the way I usually do, with a quick thought aimed in God’s general direction, but with purpose. I want to make sure I schedule time to relax so that when I do schedule time to work, that work will be more focused. My mind darts all over the place, all the time, and it’s because I hardly ever allow myself the time to deal with what’s in there. I’m going to slow down. I’m going to make time.

This seems like a lot, but it really boils down to one thing: with every decision I make I will ask myself, “Does __________ fall in line with who I am as a person?” I will try to ask myself that question with everything I do, every day, for 365 days. Starting now.

L.A. Year One: 2011 Year In Review

I couldn’t believe it when I looked back and realized that I’ve been doing a Year In Review blog post since 2004! You can look back at that year, as well as 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010! You know, if you want to geek out about me, or something. πŸ™‚

2011 has been the most tumultuous year for me to date both personally and professionally. Mostly good, but a lot not-so-good. Here’s the recap:

TERESA’S 2011 YEAR IN REVIEW:

Whedonistas! Top (l-r): Nancy Holder, Jenn Reese, Katy Shuttleworth, Kelly Hale, Racheline Maltese. Bottom (l-r): Jane Espenson, Lynne Thomas, Deb Stanish, and ME!

WRITING LIFE

** Whedonistas was released, thus changing my writing life forever. My first published work in a book available in bookstores, it led to me doing a string of readings, both personal and as part of a larger group of Whedonistas. It also allowed me to meet some pretty amazing (and well-known) women in sci-fi/fantasy. I was thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful project with such talented people.

** Did my first Whedonistas convention panel at Gallifrey One (February)! After having raised money to make the trip online (thank you to all of my generous supporters!), I flew out to L.A. in February for Gally. On the panel were moderators (and Whedonistas editors) Lynne Thomas and Deb Stanish; artist Katy Shuttleworth; contributors Nancy Holder, Jenn Reese, Racheline Maltese, Kelly Hale; and Jane Espenson, who has an exclusive interview in the book. After the panel, which went really well, we had a signing, during which I had someone come up to me excited to read my essay because, based on what I’d talked about during the panel, she thought that my piece would speak to her experience. I was floored by that. Later, the Whedonistas and I all went out to dinner, and I not only had the opportunity to sit next to and get to know one of my professional role models, but I got to know fellow female writers and lovers of genre with whom I have a lot in common and with whom I’ve since been becoming friends.

** While I was in L.A. for Gally, I also organized a reading on my own at a cute coffeehouse in Venice called The Talking Stick. It went well overall, though I definitely learned some dos and don’ts for future readings. While the crowd I started with wasn’t particularly large, by the end, so many had walked in and stayed that I was reading to a full house. My short story didn’t go over too well, but my Whedonistas piece went over a lot better. That, and I had some wonderful friends out to support. Namely, Heather, Alex, Amy, Julianna, and Josh, as well as Mike from ChinaShop who came out to interview me and photograph/cover the reading! That was so sweet. It was a great night.

** Back in New York, I also organized a Whedonistas reading at The Way Station in Brooklyn (March). Again, nerve-wracking, because I’d organized the event myself, but it went swimmingly and we sold several copies of the book. I was joined onstage once again by Racheline Maltese as well as Priscilla Spencer.

** I began to focus more on feminism in relation to my pop culture criticism, and wrote two articles for Tor.com – Moffat’s Women: Amy and Her Skirt, and a two part review of the film Sucker Punch – that taught me that the internet is a double-edged sword, full of intelligent people and less-intelligent trolls.

** My second Whedonistas convention panel was at Geek Girl Con (October)! That was a bit more nerve-wracking in that I had organized and would be moderating that panel myself. It turned out rather well, however. We “played” to a packed, enthusiastic room, and as I was walking to another panel afterwards, I had several strangers stop me to tell me how much they enjoyed it. Jane Espenson and Nancy Holder joined me again, along with Mariah Huehner, who is awesome. Earlier that morning, we had a signing and we SOLD OUT all of our copies of the book! Next year, the bookseller won’t under order! πŸ™‚ I was amused by how many people assumed that I worked for the bookseller at whose table we were. I had to keep telling people, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with ringing this up. I’m actually in this book.” One day, people won’t make that mistake. πŸ™‚ Also, if you’re ever going to bring Jane a baked good, do not bring her cupcakes. Cupcakes are wasted on Jane Espenson. Bring her pie instead. Wonder at how she manages to lead a normal life with such a warped view of cake.

** While 2011 had a lot of positive things happen for my writing career, there was also some negative. I got rejected from an anthology, a sci-fi fiction website, two TV writing fellowships, and the Emerging Writers Fellowship at the Center for Fiction in New York. I also was told by the blog editor at a major entertainment blog that he was interested in my work, only to have him reject all the pitches I sent him. Just goes to show, you can’t expect success without a certain level of failure! What you need to do is keep trying!

** I left Newsarama after a little over a year of writing comics reviews for them. It wasn’t anything bad or scandalous, and I actually really enjoyed my editor and the Best Shots review team. However, I made the decision to not do anymore unpaid writing work that wasn’t my own, and so my decision to quit was in support of that. But thank you, David, for being an amazing editor, and thanks to the Best Shots team for being a lot of fun on email chains! πŸ™‚

** I became Geek Girl Traveler! First with a series of articles at ChinaShop, then a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, then a blog. You’ll be seeing more of her in 2012. πŸ™‚

** After a while of figuring out what I wanted to do with Tumblr, I finally figured it out and created The Gender Blender. As I post stuff there, what I’m working on in relation to my novel becomes clearer.

** Discovered the website, Cowbird, and was accepted to join this small storytelling community. Immediately became obsessed!

** My Geeks and Kink article at ChinaShop Magazine not only popped about the internet both in kink circles and blogs like the Boston Magazine blog, but it also won me a contributor contest, netting me a cash bonus and a new Flip Cam!

** Had the pleasure of interviewing: Jane Espenson (several times), Cheeks, Rachael Yamagata, Kevin Smith (to post in 2012), Simon Pegg, Ian “Enable” Wyatt, Jeryl Prescott, Jessica Mills, Candis Phlegm and Lyndsey Doolan, Eric Laden (never posted), Whitney Sorrow, Tony Trov and Johnny Zito, Cecil Castillucci (to post in 2012), and Sasha Roiz (again!).

** Was a guest on two podcasts! A roundtable discussion of Doctor Who S6.1 on 2 Minute Time Lord, and an interview along with Pendard re: Geeks and Kink on Polyamory Weekly. Apparently I’m an expert on geeks and kinky sex or something. πŸ™‚ There are worse things at which to excel…

Me, Amy, Heather, and Elena celebrating Life Day!

PERSONAL LIFE

** Sadly, no men of note. It was a slow one for dating. There was this one time where I thought I was being flirted with at a wedding, but that turned out to not be the case. Then there was this other time where I thought I had game at a geek singles event. But that was just men thinking I make a really good friend. *sighs* That’s how the cookie crumbles.

** 5 year anniversary of my mother’s passing.

** I turned 32 with little fanfare, but spent a fun night with Joanna and her brother, Carlos, at a really gorgeous spot in Queens on the East River that I’d never been to before. Had my first Four Loko. πŸ™‚ Also, managed to get a free slurpee at 7-Eleven.

** After Gally in February, I made the decision to make moves toward moving toward Los Angeles! At first, I was going to move to Plano, TX and save up money while living with my friend, Angela. However, another friend, Maritza, offered to let me live rent-free with her and her husband in Santa Monica in exchange for babysitting, so a plan was created for me to move out to Los Angeles toward the end of the year!

** Everything after that decision felt like prep for that. Everything I did became “my last ____ in New York.” I stopped babysitting for Caleb and Toby (whom I loved), and after my lease was up at my apartment in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, I spent a month at Maria’s while catsitting, a couple of weeks at Robin’s, then my last few days in New York at Liz and Alex’s. Hurricane Irene didn’t stop my goodbye festivities, and after planning parties for myself, I was surprised by another party thrown by my friends that had been planned since June. I cried. A LOT. I visited my mother’s grave one last time, saw my dad one last time (for now), and said goodbye to my family. Leaving New York was the biggest, most life-altering thing I’ve ever done.

** On August 31st, 2011, I left New York on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again. πŸ™‚ I had been given letters written by some of my closest friends that I was instructed to read on the plane. After Robin and Joanna escorted me to the airport and waited until I got all the way through security before leaving, I got on the plane and started reading my letters. As the plane pulled off the runway, and I saw the skyline of my hometown fade into the distance behind us, I cried. And the letters I read were beautiful.

** Once I got to L.A. I was immediately greeted by lots of social people, and also lots of financial difficulty. I started out at Maritza’s, but that fell through for various reasons, and I had to move out. I lived for a little over a month with my friend Theresa and her husband Alan, until that fell through for various reasons. Now, I’m living where I should’ve lived in the first place, with my friend Heather and her boyfriend, Alexis. I have my own room, have been contributing to food, and will begin contributing to rent this month. I’ll be here until I save up enough for a car and a security and first month on my own place. It’ll be a while, but this lease isn’t up for two years, so…I’m a Valley Girl now. πŸ™‚ My first few weeks of living here were filled with parties, events, coffee meetings, and getting-to-know-yous…

** And then the doldrums set in. L.A. winter (which consists of rain, clouds, and temps in the 50s) was a mite depressing. So was the fact that I’m broke and stopped being able to afford being as social as I wanted to be. There was a period of a couple of weeks when I was actually rawther depressed. I’m much better now. πŸ™‚

** The Occupy Movement has become a big part of my life, and when I first heard about it going down at Occupy Wall Street, I really regretted not being in NYC to be a part of it. But then, I got involved with Occupy L.A. My friend Mike and I camped out at Occupy L.A. on the fourth night (and got interviewed by KTLA the next morning). While I haven’t been able to get there since then (no money for bus fare, no car), I’ve been spreading links and writing my face off about it. When I traveled to Seattle and San Fransisco this year, I visited their Occupations and took pictures. I will post them eventually. If you’re not outraged, you haven’t been paying attention.

** Speaking of travel, I went to Seattle for Geek Girl Con. Money was tight, so I ended up only being able to get TO Seattle. Had to wait on a paycheck to get back. It came later than expected, so I was stuck in Seattle for an extra week, which was fine. In addition to Geek Girl Con, I had an amazing time staying with my friend, Heidi, then with a new friend, also named Teresa, and her partners, Scott and Larry, all of whom were super sweet to me. Geeked out at the Battlestar Galactica Exhibit and the Avatar Exhibit at the EMP Museum. Sat on the bank of Lake Washington. Visited the first Starbucks. Had lunch with some new friends, Jennifer and Anita. Had dinner with a new friend, Kristen. Had breakfast with a new friend, Christina. πŸ™‚ So all my meals were covered, and I got to hang with some wonderful people in the process. Taking the train to Seattle rather than a plane made the trip that much more memorable. If you can take Amtrak anywhere, especially up the West Coast, do it! It’s beautiful.

** Traveled to San Fransisco the weekend following Seattle through the generosity of friends. Stayed with Anita and her boyfriend at their place on Valencia – it was so sweet of them to let me stay there barely knowing me. Met up with Cathy, Matt, Angela, and Heather and we walked ALL OVER. (that city is seriously ALL uphill) Fisherman’s Wharf, seals, Chinatown, Lombard Street, the Comic and Cartoon Art Museum, and it all culminated in seeing Kevin Spacey play Richard III at the Curran Theater. He was great, even if the production was a bit uneven. But the second half was MUCH better than the first. Would love to visit SF for a longer period of time.

** Went with my new friend, Judi (Deb’s sister!), to see Riverdance at The Pantages Theater, and saw Merle for the first time in years. Also saw Padraic, Niamh, Maeve, and some of the other Riverdance cast and crew I’d gotten to know in my years working for the show. So surreal! But it was good to see everyone!

** Spent Thanksgiving with my new friend Emily at the place she shares with her boyfriend, Phillip, as well as some of his family. It was a really nice night (with great food!), and I was so touched that she invited me. Emily’s a good’un. πŸ™‚

** Celebrated Christmas with Heather, Alexis, and their family and friends at his mom, Julie’s, place. REALLY great food, and I had a Malta for the first time in years! πŸ™‚ Met some great new people (and possibly a new personal trainer!), and was touched that Julie and Heather thought of me with gifts knowing that I couldn’t afford to give gifts this year (and even after they’d each agreed that no one was doing presents this year!). πŸ™‚ Also got some unexpected Christmas gifts from Robin and Heather E, as well as a ton of Christmas cards from everywhere. Skyped with my family. It wasn’t nearly as sad or bad as I was expecting. I felt a lot of love. I’m a lucky person.

** Roscoe’s. Chicken. And. Waffles.

A sampling of the new friends I’ve made this year: Maritza, Bob, Emily, Amy, Anita, Jennifer S, Theresa W, Alan, Teresa G, Scott, Larry, Judi, Jared, Jenni, Jenni P, Julianna, Josh, Vicky, Shanna, Jessica M, Stephanie, Dina, Sarah, Elena, Chastity, Dino, Elliot, and several more peeps. I’ve been so warmly welcomed in L.A. it’s not even funny.

Robin and Me just before her wedding!

FRIEND-RELATED AWESOME

** My BFF, Robin, got married to the love of her life, Matt – and I was her maid of honor! πŸ™‚ It was SUCH a great wedding. Everyone looked amazing, I danced so hard I hurt the next day, and everyone had a wonderful time.

** My friends Robyn and Jerry also got married in the Virgin Islands. I was originally supposed to officiate the wedding (I even became a minister in the Universal Life Church!), but my finances wouldn’t allow me to make the trip, and I had to back out, which bummed me out severely.

** Katie got pregnant again! Her first son, Nate, was a long-awaited gift. Now, this woman’s like a friggin’ rabbit! πŸ˜‰ But seriously, I’m so happy for her and Aaron.

** New York State passed marriage equality! I put this in my “friend-related awesome” section in honor of all my friends in New York who can now get married! Now, for the rest of the country… πŸ™‚

The cast and crew of Husbands at their premiere at Meltdown Comics

GEEKY/POP CULTURE HAPPENINGS OF IMPORTANCE

** I launched Beginning of Line in January 2011! In December, we’ve just posted our 18th story, which was our “Caprica Season 2″ finale. I’m so proud of all of my writers and artists – talented people, all! I’m looking forward to planning Season 3 and continuing to create stories set in the Caprica universe in 2012!

** Geek Girl Con was a huge success, and the best convention to which I’ve ever been. Hands down. It was so well run, I met so many amazing people and gained so many opportunities because of it. I can’t wait for Geek Girl Con 2012. I’ll be there with bells on!

** In television, 2011 introduced me to two of my favorite new shows, Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Torchwood: Miracle Day was really enjoyable (though I still have 2 eps to watch!), and the webseries, Husbands, was an adorable look at gay marriage. Doctor Who, Season 6 was really cool, if a bit confusing. Fringe had its best season ever. The Walking Dead? Not so much. And I caught up with two brilliant AMC shows: Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I cannot WAIT for new episodes of those two in 2012!

** In film, the end of the Harry Potter franchise totally satisfied me. I was one of the only people in the world who really liked Sucker Punch, apparently. Loved Super, Paul, and Friends With Benefits. And BRIDESMAIDS! Thank you, Kristen Wiig.

** Thankfully saw the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway once they worked out the kinks. It’s still not a perfect show, but it’s fun, and MUCH better than what it was before, from what I hear.

** Sadly, we lost Doctor Who‘s Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney. RIP.

** In addition to Gally and Geek Girl Con, I attended Long Beach Comic Con and Comikaze Expo, both of which weren’t terribly thrilling.

** Went to the Husbands premiere at Meltdown Comics.

** In addition to Riverdance, I went to see a production of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at the Crown Theatre in NoHo. L.A. DOES have a theater scene! πŸ™‚

** I was named one of the Top 11 Geek Girls of 2011 according to the Chicago Tribune Red Eye’s “Geek to Me” blog! Thanks to Elliot Serrano for thinking me worthy of inclusion in such wonderful company! WOO HOO!

Got to meet: Jessica Mills, Candis Phlegm, Lyndsey Doolan, Jane Espenson, Cheeks, Sean Hemeon, Alessandra Torresani, Magda Apanowicz, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Amy Berg, Felicia Day, Vincent Caso, Amy Okuda, Bonnie Burton, Michelle Boyd and the rest of Team Unicorn (except Clare!), Adrianne Curry, Sean Becker, and Juliet Landau. STILL have not met Sasha Roiz despite interviewing him twice, a jillion tweets and emails, and crossed communiques to get coffee when I was visiting L.A. earlier in the year. Well, Sasha – you have until the end of the world in December to make it up to me. Ball’s in your court. πŸ˜‰

2011 was a huge year for me, and there are amazing things in the works for this new year. 2012 is going to PWN! And I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you!

The Twelve Posts of Christmas #9: L.A. Year One – My First L.A. Christmas!

My enormous wine glass and I celebrate the birth of Our Lord.

My first Christmas in L.A, and I was lucky enough to be welcomed to spend Christmas Eve with the Cruz Family! I was so grateful to be given such hospitality and warmth this holiday season. Also, LOTS of food. Lots of Puerto Rican fare, to be exact…

Rice and beans, pernil, veggies, and a malta. It doesn't get much more Latino than that. πŸ™‚

Β Yes, there were pasteles. No, I didn’t have any. πŸ™‚

In addition to hanging with Heather and Alexis, and getting to know Alexis’ mom, Julie, better, I also got to meet some awesome new folks. His bro, Eric, and Eric’s girlfriend, Lila, as well as his friend Kyle and Kyle’s girlfriend, Jessie. Very cool people to chat with (and get tipsy with). Did you see the size of the glass of wine I’m holding in the first photo??

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There was also a very pretty dog in a cute dress that said Santa Baby, and a very cute little dog in a shirt that said Elf-sized. Which he is. And I totally wasn’t expecting presents – I was at someone else’s family function, after all – but I got presents, and I thought it was so super sweet that Julie went out of her way to welcome me in this way.

I keep meeting super-nice people out here. I know that there are self-serving douchebags in L.A, but I haven’t met them yet. Maybe, just maybe, I can keep it that way? We’ll see.

In any case, I had a wonderful evening filled with amazing food (Heather’s first turkey rocked!), awesome people, and great conversation. Who could ask for more?

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope that you’re finding a way to be happy today, wherever you are, and whoever you’re with.

Capturing a Moment: Thirtysomething

Photo by Cindy Jenkins.

I’ve been in a strange mood lately. The other day, a friend of mine who’s visiting and writing about the NASA Mars Rover launch posted a photo of the shuttle Endeavor on her Facebook page, and I burst into tears when I saw it. All at once, I saw in it the enormity of human potential and the fact that so much of what we’ve done in the thousands of years we’ve been on this planet is waste that potential, and it made me sad.

I recently got a screener for a new film called Shuffle, written and directed by Kurt Kuenne of Validation fame. It was a truly wonderful film – sort of It’s a Wonderful Life meets The Twilight Zone – and I related to the protagonist’s plight so much that it made me sob. Granted, I’ve never lived my life out of order, but I cried because living one’s life in order is just as daunting. Maybe more so.

Then, I came across an article talking about Lars Von Trier’s new movie, Melancholia, which is one I really want to see, because I’m a big fan of his work. Sadly, I can’t even spend the $7 it would take to watch the film on demand, but the idea of Melancholia put me in a Von Trier mood, and I ended up watching the film Manderlay for the first time last night, which is the sequel to Dogville. The movie was just OK, but I cried afterwards anyway, the way I do when I wish that my life were being lived as passionately as lives seem to be lived in fiction, unrealistic and impractical as that might be.

The thing that tied all these seemingly unrelated bits of a funk I’ve been experiencing together happened today, when I started noticing all the love my friends have been slobbering all over The Muppets across all my social media platforms. Now, this is a movie I’ve been wanting to see. Yet, as friends have been reporting back talking about how good it was, all I could think was how sad it is that nostalgia has become increasingly important to people my age. We’ve become the people who think that things were so much better in Their Day. We’re older. We’re “grown-ups” (whatever THAT means these days), and it made me sad.

Me at my Sweet 16 - 1995

This is not to say that I’m upset about getting older. I’ve never been someone who tries to hide how old she is, or worries about the gray hairs coming in. I don’t see the inherent value in being younger. I mean, sure your body stops doing what it used to, but so what? Get that hip replaced and keep on truckin’, knowwhatI’msayin’? But there is an emotional toll – one that I’d seen in people older than me, but didn’t really understand until now, and there’s something unique about the way my generation is experiencing it.

The Endeavor photo made me cry for the reason I cited above, but it was also due, in part, to the fact that I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little. I dreamed of going up into space. I wanted to go to Space Camp (and settled for watching the movie instead). I loved reading about space and astronomy. Then, I discovered my love of theater in seventh grade and ditched science for the arts. I don’t regret that decision, but there’s a small part of me that wonders what would’ve happened if I’d followed my love of science. Might I have ever been a part of the Space Program? Now, I’ll never know. Also, now there’s no manned shuttle program anymore, so I’ll really never know.

Me and my Senior Prom date, Rulx - 1997

Nostalgia and the idea of wasted potential have been coming at me from all angles lately, and living in a new city away from the only home I’d ever known only exacerbates the effect. One’s thirties are a strange time, and it’s only now, being in it, that I can see just how strange it is. You’re at an age when you’re expected to have gotten certain things together: your career, your long-term relationship, your owned property, and your child bearing. If any one of those things isn’t in order, you’re suspect. Because all of those things, especially when combined, mean you’re a “grown-up,” and arriving at “grown-up” is the endgame, apparently. Your thirties are the endgame, and the rest of your life – kids getting older, grandkids, retirement – is all one long denouement. There’s a lot of pressure on one’s thirties that I think is unique to this age group, and that pressure forces us to look not at what we’ve accomplished, but what we haven’t, until all we see is wasted potential.

Which is kind of a sick way to live when you stop and think about it, but there it is.

Me drunk at a party in Las Vegas in my mid-twenties, back when I was "living"

Your thirties are also your first decade away from acceptable meandering. In your teens, you’re figuring out who you are. In your twenties, you’re just out of college and it’s expected that you’ll fumble your way along as you figure things out. Mistakes are expected, even encouraged. You’re supposed to do all your “living” in your twenties, because as we all know, “living” stops once you turn 30. We’re supposed to stop “living” and start what? Dying? That’s the only alternative. I know that’s not what people mean, and yet they’re perfectly happy to start “looking back” at all the “living” they used to do in their twenties as if it’s over and can never be recaptured. As if, once you turn 30, you don’t dance, or drink, or socialize anymore. Except that they’re not ready. They haven’t been looking back long enough to get used to it, or be resigned to it, so they resent it. Fight it. I think this has been the case in previous generations, but mine has better tools at its disposal with which to fight.

The current crop of thirtysomethings is part of the first generation to be able to really hold on to our youth. Before the internet, people were sort of forced to move on because retrieving the totems of their youth was just harder. You had to wait for those cartoons you loved as a kid to be rerun, and how often were you able to be sitting around waiting for cartoons? If you didn’t save your old 45s, 8-tracks, or cassettes, and the devices that played them, the music you loved as a youth was lost to you, relegated to the oldies station. You could re-purchase the music you loved in a new format, but were you really going to go all the way to Tower Records or Sam Goody or Coconuts or The Wiz to re-purchase a CD of that embarrassing pop band you loved as a kid?

Because in your twenties, you're not afraid of The Pole.

Generation X, of which I am a member, is the first generation who can not only secretly get their hands on all the stuff they miss from when they were a kid because of better technology that allows them to not have to seek those things publicly, but they are also the first generation that used the internet to connect. We connected to each other, and we all realized that we weren’t alone in our desire to keep on playing Pac-Man or watch She-Ra reruns or read comics or watch Star Wars and E.T. And because we were able to realize quickly that we weren’t alone, we also realized it was nothing to be ashamed of, so we made it culture. Geek Culture is actually Nostalgia Culture; Collage Culture. As interested as we are in new sci-fi/fantasy stories, we’re much more interested in remakes of television shows and films. Adapting cartoons, comics, and books we loved as children into live-action films. And we reserve the right to be very, very upset indeed if those beloved stories aren’t done justice. We’ve made the world (or at least, the culture in this country) into our image, and that image can easily be silkscreened onto an ironic t-shirt.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say with all of this. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing that we’re so desperately holding on to our youth. I just know that the struggle makes me sad. I hate that there are cookie-cutter expectations of a person in their thirties. I hate that a thirty-something is supposed to feel guilty about enjoying things that are (arbitrarily) designated for “youth.” And yet, I understand that life is a continual process of moving on and moving forward, and perhaps holding on to the past – giving in to our impulse to hold onto the symbols of our youth in a way that generations prior weren’t able to do – is holding back our progress. We’re the reason that “pop music today sucks” and “nobody makes original movies anymore.” Because, as much as we say that we want original stories and ideas, all we do is hold onto, remake, pay homage to, and re-tell the stories and ideas we loved as children. And I’m not even going to talk about the fact that, when we’re not mining our own childhoods we’re mining other decades. We’re not the first generation to do this, but we are the first generation to make a freaking career of it. And now that we’re starting to run the world, no one can order us or expect us to do any differently. We’re becoming prisoners of our own freedom.

Me serenading the crowd with a jazz standard at my 30s-themed 30th birthday party.

And I don’t know if it’s something we need to “do something about” or not. Is it our generation’s natural progression, or are we stunting our own growth? Is there a happy medium between growing-up and “life” not ending after 30? And how can we find value in what we do have rather than focusing on what we don’t?

Angela Chase on My So-Called Life

I remember when that show Thirtysomething was on. I never watched it, because I was in middle school at the time, but all I remember about the show was that everyone was calling it “whiny.” Then, by the time I was a teenager, the creators of that show created My So-Called Life, a show with a protagonist who was my age about high-schoolers who are “supposed” to be whiny. These days, as I watch my My So-Called Life DVDs (what’s up, totem of my youth?), I find myself relating more to the parents on the show than I do to Angela Chase.

Maybe I’ll look up Thirtysomething on Netflix and watch it to see if it applies to me, because clearly they were “whiny” for a reason! Or maybe I won’t. Maybe instead of going back to look at a show, I’ll write my own show about what it means to be in one’s thirties. After all, I shouldn’t keep looking back to make sense of things, right? I should look inward and look forward.

Are we even equipped to do that anymore?

L.A. Year One: Thankful!

I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving already! Where has the year gone? This year is a strange one for me. It’s not the first time I haven’t been able to spend Thanksgiving with my family. It’s not even the first time I’ve been in another state on Thanksgiving (in 2003, I spent Thanksgiving in a TGIFriday’s in Ohio, I think, with my castmates/crew in a children’s production of Babes in Toyland with which I was touring. No, it’s not my cast in the video, but I performed that same show – I played Widow Piper.). It is, however, the first Thanksgiving where my being apart from my family and close friends has an air of permanence about it. Like, This is how it’s going to be from now on. It’s strange. Not sad, just weird.

However, one of my new friends here in Los Angeles – the lovely Emily, along with her BF, Phillip – has invited me over for the big meal today, which I thought was really sweet. So, that’s where I’ll be enjoying my turkey.

I love Thanksgiving, because it always forces me to stop and acknowledge the things for which I’m grateful. It’s so easy to forget that such things exist, isn’t it? We spend a lot of time focusing on the bad things, but if we all sat down and thought about it, I’m sure we could each come up with at least 5 things for which we’re thankful. Here are mine:

1) MY BROTHER AND SISTER

I’m grateful for them particularly this year as they’ve supported me through my transition to the West Coast. First, I got the Are You Sure You Want To Do This? talks. Then I got the No, Really. You Have No Money talk. Then I got the Well, You’ve Made Up Your Mind, Haven’t You talks. Then the I’m Worried About You talks. Then, not a day went by when my sister didn’t make some reference to missing me, or me not leaving on Facebook (ie: Well, that’s what you get for leaving New York! Or, You’re leaving! Waaaaah!) Then, on the last day I saw my family before leaving for California, my brother slipped me a $100 bill as he said goodbye to me.

My mom has passed away, and my dad’s in a nursing home. I’ve gotten a lot of the “parental” support I need later in my life from my brother and sister. If I was going to be born to two people late in life, I’m lucky that a brother and a sister came before me. They’ve been like parents to me, and we’ve also become really good friends. I’m so grateful for that. Thank you, Kenny and Janette! I love you!

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2) MY OLD FRIENDS

I have the best friends in the world. Yeah, I said it. I know you think your friends are better, but they’re not. ‘Cause mine are.

Seriously, though, I know amazing people. People I have been able to be completely vulnerable around, knowing they won’t think less of me. People who’ve saved my life in a very real sense by lending me money, cooking me meals, letting me sleep on couches, treating me to nights out, listening to my woes, and keeping me sane as I try to navigate this crazy artist life I’m trying to lead. People who call me on my bullshit.

As I left New York, I stepped away from 32 years of powerful relationships. As I arrived in L.A, I was able to make a little nest for myself in the home of an old friend who is one of the kindest people I know. I’m so lucky to have such quality people in my life. Thank you! I love you all so muc

3) MY NEW FRIENDS

As I’ve mentioned before, L.A. has been very welcoming. I’ve been invited to parties, and mixers, and dinner parties galore. I’ve been given rooms to sleep in, meals, and rides. Lots of rides. I’ve been treated with so much kindness – kindness that couldn’t be repaid, except with kindness – that I wonder where those stories of L.A. folks being excessively self-serving came from. Maybe I’ve just been really lucky. Whatever. I’ll take it. I know good people out here, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them even better. We’re already off to a wonderful start! Thank you, you lovely people!

4) MY WEBSITES

They let me write for them. They give me creative freedom. They listen to me when I make suggestions or have new ideas. They’re really, really nice to the people that write for them, giving them lots of little perks, or treating them to outings/events. But most importantly, they pay the people that write for them. Too often, we complain about the outlets that don’t pay their writers, but we don’t praise the ones that do. So, I’d like to give a shout-out to two of them. Thank you, ChinaShop Magazine and Tor.com! Thank you for being great employers edited and staffed by really great people. I’m a lucky duck to write for such fine folks.

Bob in Kenya. Those kids are all, "So...you've never seen the sun before?"

5) MY “JOB”/APPRENTICESHIP

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve become assistant to writer, Bob Harris, who is currently working on what’s shaping up to be an awesome book on microfinance and Kiva for Bloomsbury. I’m really grateful for this relationship, not just for the obvious reasons. I mean, yes, he’s a really cool, genuinely kind person with whom I hope I can become better friends. Yes, he can totally answer my career-type questions as I’m figuring all this writing crap out. But more important than that, he keeps me conscious of how I want to use my art to change the world. Just by watching him work, I remember that it is possible to use the talents I was born with to do for others and to leave the world better than I found it, and I’m inspired to continue thinking about ways to combine my love of writing with my love of humanity.Β  That’s something that’s always been important to me.Β  It’s nice to be able to work with someone to whom it’s also important and who’s a walking example of how to go about doing it. That’s the part I’m really grateful for. So, thanks Bob! As role models go, you’re not a bad one.

Wow. I just realized that I’m pretty much thankful for one big thing – the people in my life. This was just 5 different categories of people, wasn’t it? But do you see how lucky I am? I have so many amazing people to be thankful for, they can be organized into categories.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope your holiday is filled with wonderful people, amazing food, and plenty of time to sit around with your pants unbuttoned afterwards. I, for one, will be watching the Lady Gaga Thanksgiving special later tonight. Because I’m also thankful for crazy performance artists who write catchy pop tunes. πŸ™‚

PlayPlay

L.A. Year One: Getting Out of A Funk

Pike Street Market

Hey there, Five People Who Read My Blog With Any Regularity! πŸ™‚

So, this is officially the start of my third month living in L.A. The past month has been a bit tumultuous. First there was the Not Being Sure If I’d Be Able to Get to Seattle For My Panel At Geek Girl Con. Then, two weeks later, there was the Not Being Sure I’d Be Able to Get Home From Seattle. Then, there was the Getting to San Francisco Then Home With The Help Of My Friends. Then, there was Greyhound Losing My Bag. (It’s since been found) Then, there was Me Needing to Move Out of Where I Was Staying.

Cute boy I met in Seattle

Paying homage to the Mother Ship. Felt less guilty about drinking Starbucks in Seattle, because there it IS a "local business!"

Which leads me to Van Nuys and staying with my friends Heather and Alexis. My third abode in as many months. Hopefully, I won’t need to move again for a while. I really hate packing.

Since I was out of L.A. for much of last month, I still don’t feel quite at home yet. Maybe I won’t feel at home for a long while, but weeks away certainly don’t help. I still sort of feel like this is temporary – as if I’m on a really long vacation. However, as tumultuous as things have been, I’m still very, very lucky. I have amazing friends, without whom I’d probably be living in a gutter somewhere, and I will take this – and every – opportunity to say THANK YOU. You know who you are. I don’t know what I’ve done to make everyone want to be so nice to me, but I hope I can keep doing it!

Me, Angela, and Heather at Fisherman's Wharf.

Cathy and Mr. Pibb - I mean, her boyfriend Matt - in a cute garden we found a little ways up from Lombard Street.

And this isn’t to say that it’s been all bad. After all, in the past month I’ve gotten to go on a really cool trip to Seattle (by train, which is a wonderful way to travel if you ever get to!), and I got a crash course in San Francisco (a really cool city that would be even cooler if it WEREN’T ENTIRELY UPHILL! Jeez, if anyone’s parents talk about how they walked to school uphill both ways when they were a kid, they probably grew up in San Francisco!). I learned how to edit video, visited the first Starbucks, supported Occupy Seattle and Occupy San Francisco, and saw Kevin Spacey play Richard III. I’ve attended Geek Girl Con, Long Beach Comic Con, and am about to attend the first annual Comikaze Expo (thank God for press passes!).

And today, for the first time in about a week and a half, I’m shaking off the funk of all the tumultuousness and getting back to some semblance of order and focus. I woke up at 8AM this morning, took an hour long walk, showered and had breakfast (I even read a book! Like, for fun! Something I haven’t made time to do in a long while! I’m still 3/4 of the way through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell), then started on my work schedule for the day. An hour of work for Bob in the morning. Now, I’m in my hour devoted to blogging, which will be followed by time set aside for Tor, lunch, ChinaShop, spec scripts, dinner, more spec script work, then a teensy web series I’m fleshing out. Then, hopefully, I’ll do it all again tomorrow.

Until I finish things. Until I cross them off a list. Then I’ll finish other things.

So, if I’m online less than you’re used to. It’s ’cause I’m off finishing things. Hopefully. You know, if I can keep up this whole “discipline” business. I guess I’m gonna have to, huh? I mean, if I want to finish things? Right? That’s how it works? πŸ™‚

And now, I’ll leave you with a photo to make your geek heart jealous:

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