LA: Month II

I’m late. I swear I have started to write this blog at least three times this month already, in my head. Plus, I’ve jotted notes in a sharpie pen on a legal pad at work, like a week ago. Yet, I digress. My two biggest areas of opportunity going into month three are timeliness|time management and securing financial awareness|stability. In fact, it’s sad to say that I kind of stopped using my Erin Condren Life Planner for a bit. I feel awful, but I intend to end the year strong.

Aside from the shame that comes with the dust and blank September pages of my life planner, things continue to go well for me in the city of angels. I finally feel like I am settling into my job. No, it is not on my list of things I love to do, but I am ok with my current situation. Speaking of work, its hard to deal with the amount of money I spend on transportation everyday. I actually enjoy the luxury of riding, instead of driving to work, reading, listening to audio content or sleeping.  Each day, each trip rather, uber/lyft sends a complimentary receipt via email. I have so many that I am haunted. Honestly. There is no way I can continue to ignore the amount of money I spend just getting around here. Think about it; I mean we’re talking at least two trips a day. Hundreds of dollars a month, that all adds up, and I’m sick of it!

I feel like I’m really learning what it means to have a roommate as well. Somedays (a lot of them) it feels like Franceli and I spend more time being roommates than we do being friends. So much so that I have had to find quiet reminders, remnants of a friendship bound along life’s journey. I have always known that I’m a particular person.  A creature based on habit and routine. I am a planny person (despite having neglected my planner this month). I think I live a pretty quiet life. I love my own space and the companionship that comes with the ownership of my own little corner of the world. Don’t get me wrong because it’s not that Franceli and I yield two completely different lifestyles, we just happen to have two different operating systems, ya know? She’s the droid to my iOS device. (lol) In all fairness it is the beauty of our friendship that makes this situation work. And that’s what I am most grateful for.

This month comes with fresh opportunity as well. I am so ecstatic to be a host on Afterbuzz TV. Like, beyond. Currently, I am on the panel of three after shows: This is Us, Inhumans, and 90 Day Fiance. I almost feel as if the whole world it’s opening itself up to me. Lending me her ear to speak the entirety of my vision.  That’s a feeling many of us know to be fleeting, but when it comes it’s for sure something to grasp with the grip of both hands.

I also got the chance to produce a music video that will be released later this month.  (More on this later!) That’s not something I ever imagined being in the position to do. It lets me know that there is a place for me in entertainment bigger than the little I’ve imagined. Especially when it comes to music. Y’all know my first dream was to sing back up for Mariah Carey!

This month was showing of so much. More than anything I know the work that comes with being successful. Strategy is important. Time is of the essence. And, you can’t do shit without money. Thank God for favor because I still got tricks up my sleeves!

 

LA: Month 1

I find myself navigating more and more to the balconies of LA. No matter where you are, you can look and find an apartment adorned with a patio or porch. That’s one thing that reminds me of home. I spent so many of my years on the porch of my great grandmothers’ home. I can recall the changes built around it, when there were two small IMG_7227houses next door, that now rest an empty lot. Before and after the remodel, or before it became the property of my grandmother. Back when my great great grandma chuck was still there, memories of after school pickups, soap opera watching and badminton playing.

It is easy to sit on the porch and be filled with all the warmth of home. But there is also this presence of guilt I feel oh so far away. Before I left home I wanted to be unstoppable. So much so that I prayed that nothing would get in the way of my departure. I remember having dreams that my family would experience a detrimental moment and I prayed that should anything occur, God just let it happen after I’ve left.

There is no preparation for homesickness. It comes unprecedented and you can’t place a barometer around those feelings until you actually feel them. Homesick feels like fear and anxiety. Like a void of emptiness, loneliness.

IMG_0441Soon after I got to LA I learned of the power in that prayer. My great grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer, a great aunt of mine with skin cancer, and my great uncle passed as well. Up until this point I was walking the streets of LA with just the small guilt of being far removed from the everyday life of my immediate family, but this happenstance magnified that experience for me. I didn’t even think there would be a response that would allow me to assuage the entirety of that burden of guilt.

I’m grateful for every aspect of my journey in LA. Primarily because I stand firmly knowing that I made the very best decision for my life. I can hardly believe all the things I have been able to IMG_7746accomplish. Like, I have literally worked in the business (that’s what they call it out here) every week since I’ve landed. I have been a PA on different lots and sets all over Los Angeles. I secured full time employment and I continue to meet incredible, like minded people who are both showing and telling of what feels like the best season of my life. Although I miss home, I no longer walk the streets feeling displaced or burdened. I walk with my chin held high, I’m a king and LA aint got nothing on me.

 

I Live in LA…

I moved to LA just over two weeks ago. It is not a decision that was made lightly, come to think about it, its inception came with the new year. Each month at work we would plan out our calendar, filled with team outings, special events, and days of recognition. Not unlike most, with the New Year came New Year’s Resolutions. So many people have a love/hate relationship with the idea of making resolutions but it is a habit I have come to enjoy and look forward to. On our team, at work, we made vision boards to hang at our desks, this way our days would be led, both consciously and not, with thoughts and images that would propel us into the direction of our dreams and completing our goals. In retrospect, I notice that I have actually been looking at my path every day for seven months before I ever left Virginia. A vision full of quotes of inclusion, countries to visit, and a cut out of the word HOLLYWOOD. Fast forward just a bit, maybe a few months later, and I actually started to have dreams that would push me further. They were reoccurring, maybe two or three dreams that were time sensitive. All centered around me moving to Los Angeles, where an obstacle or some sort of family life almost kept me from leaving. A flight nearly missed, or an opportunity that I wasn’t able to take advantage of, yet in the end, I always made it. These dreams made me believe that I had just a small window of time to plot out and make the move, or I would miss my opportunity and live a life unfulfilled. After that I was certain. I knew that God had something to do with this, like it wasn’t just me wanting to pick up and go somewhere or be famous. I felt and I prayed that I would align myself in God’s will for my life. So, I started to actualize my vision with a plan. I decided that I would give myself to the end of summer ’17 to move to California. I prayed some more, I fasted, and I knew that by August 29, sink or swim and ready or not, I would leave my nest of home and pursue a life of passion.

IMG_2640I moved to LA July 19, a little over a month before my intended plan. The budget that I had been planning to implement, out the window, My savings account, pretty depleted. All I had to really hold onto was the fact that I was working up until that last Friday, that way I was set up to leave with a full paycheck from my employer, as well as one on the way, once I made it to California, a weeks work for that following pay period. Celi ended up presenting an option for a two bedroom in her neighborhood that we had the potential to try and secure for the month of July. Neither of us wanted to pass up on the opportunity and although we didn’t end up going that route, that was my catalyst. It left me with a date I would not be able to walk back out of and as soon as I surrendered to it, everything else fell into place. It’s interesting. I put a ton of energy into feeling like I needed to leave with a certain amount of money,or interviews and jobs lined up; yet, as soon as I trusted myself with the date, all the weary of needing the picture perfect exit plan escaped me. I felt unstoppable and it didn’t matter how much money I had on standby, I was leaving Newport News, Virginia.

There were no tears at the airport that Wednesday morning. My mother waited until we parted ways to have her moment; thankfully so, and I have yet to cry since leaving VA. I never would have imagined things would happen as quickly as they have. As soon as I landed at LAX we literally hit the ground running. These past two weeks have been a bit of a busy blur. I’ve been to Palm Springs, visited a friend from school in San Diego, hiked Runyon Canyon, and met so many people. Literally by the time we got to Sunday I was begging Celi for the weekend to be over. Don’t get me wrong, it was great fun and adventure, the world never stopped, but I felt in my spirit that I needed a moment to sort of be still and plant my feet into the ground of Southern California. I needed my mind and body to recognize the fact that I was 3K miles away from home and on a journey, all on my own.

As fate would allow, I had all of about 2 days or so to come to that realization. By that Wednesday I was at an interview with a temp agency and by Friday I had booked my first industry gig, hired to work as a Production Assistant on the set of a feature film, Jezebel, through Monday. I was floored. Are you kidding me?! Let’s be clear, I was super ecstatic to even have an opportunity of this magnitude. All with little to no experience, and so quickly into my life in LA. I had another interview, (yesterday) which went really well and I can’t wait for everything that’s about to happen. This train is just getting started. I had a production meeting for #TSAP, (The Sunday Afternoon Podcast) coming very soon! Also, August 14, I am hosting a script reading for none other than my best friend, and roommate Franceli Chapman. She wrote a movie y’all so stay tuned for all this greatness.

P.S. I got the job.

#XD30-four-Lifetime

Some of my fondest memories revolve around Lifetime, Television for Women. I’m not sure when it became a family staple, the movies were always so captivating, about one woman or the next in some sort of struggle or fight to save her own life. This was years ago, before all the options that come with contemporary TV and ratchet reality. I feel like as a family we always found ourselves drawn to a space that was created with the channel. We would commune on the coach, all five or six of us would easily crowd each others space, sharing chips and blankets to cozy around one television screen, together.

A lot of those experiences feel lost with our millennial generation. We spend a lot of time separate, individualized in front of the privacy of the screens of our personal devices to the point where we can miss the chance to continually connect. There are always things that will bring us back. Lifetime still has a hold on me.

We drove through the night and checked into our hotel around 8AM this morning. As easily annoyed as I can be by my family, I love the intimacy of this space. When we turned on the TV to rest up I noticed that we all were watching it together. From Criminal Minds to SVU and finally, Lifetime, we actively participated with each other. Talking back to the screen, asking what was missed when someone stepped out of the room, or even having my sister make me a sandwich when she went to grab her own food, a lot of this day reminds me of childhood.

My mother still asks a million and one questions, as if we all aren’t watching the same movie, or she finds inconsistencies that the production team must have overlooked. There was a movie today that had a young girl treated for an injury in one scene yet in the next her bandage was gone. We still are easily frustrated when the characters make stupid decisions that are common sense, and I can be caught yelling and carrying on just as loudly.

What’s interesting is the fact that just last weekend in MD/DC I found myself having the exact same experience, with friends. A Lifetime movie was on and I was completely captivated! I wanted my friends to watch just as eagerly and I caught myself telling them what was happening, as we watched. I definitely fussed about how stupid I thought the white woman on TV was being,

I probably never watch Lifetime, Television for Women, at home. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a lifetime movie, its not a channel I scope out often and I have no desire to schedule time to watch. But I love how familiar it feels to watch it in the company of others. I now see that it’s something I look forward to, that company of others. In preparation for my move to CA this summer I’m moving back home, into my mom’s house for a few months. That doesn’t excite me, at all, but I can’t wait to actively be with my family. Sharing in that love and the joy of our connection will fuel me and I need to store up on about as much as I can get before I am thrown into a new season of isolation.

#XD30-two-We Sat

We sat. I can still feel the numbness in my limbs as my feet dozed to and fro in sleep. Restlessly. We sat there for hours, an eternity of seconds since the last gasp elapsed my lips, you took my breath away. I’ve never known silence this way. The walls in this room are yellow. They beam a brightness as bold as the mustard sky. You introduced that color to me. The flowers have not escaped the last of their scent, the lavender hovers in the air, I can smell it each time I sniffle. There is nothing I can do to stop the snot and I am too stunned, too wounded and broken to move. So I sniffle, in silence, once every three inhales I wish there was breath in my body I knew how to hold longer. I don’t want you to notice me, in this moment I want the least amount of attention as possible. But, there is no more air so I inhale, so deeply I can feel the exhale rise out of my knee’s, but it does not calm me. There is no more air in this big bold room. The walls have dimmed. Through tear stained eyes I see rust and willowed leaves. We sat for hours. You over there, somewhere else. You feel far, and foreign. I can’t feel you in my spirit, the way I could before. The only reason I know you haven’t left is because I can see your feet. Across the room you sit back to pillow, upright on the hunter green coach you helped move into this space. I had you shift, turn, and cater-corner it in every direction until you finally grew exhausted in all of my angst and sat it down in its place. It fit perfectly.

#XD30-one-Dear Thirty

Dear Thirty,

Here we are, face to face. In all of my dreams I’d never thought we would meet this way. You have always been seen as something foreign, to me. A year and experience that would both be life altering and staggering. By the time I turned twenty five I had enough foresight to see that fear rested in thirty. I had remnants of the same fright at twenty five then twenty six and twenty eight. Feelings of unworthiness, disappointment, and loneliness.

I was relieved when you brought me something different. I spent a week joking about age and how being a year older, thirty, changed everything for the worse, but in all honesty I feel the opposite. There is power in you. Like, a spark that’s been ignited that in so many ways has been the erasure of anything that may have come before. I feel invincible.

My twenties were all about the idea of finding me. From all of the hair experiences to wearing make up and being gay- navigating gay friends and gay culture in Virginia, to unreal romantic experiences and all the responsibilities that come with learning to be an adult.

I have literally spent thirty years learning to be myself. When you look at it that way it is easy to see how thirty is just the beginning. There was so much time spent pretending to be someone else, living for so many other people, to the point that I am ready to cement myself in you. I know who I am and who I want to be and you, dear thirty, are the catalyst to such a greater experience.

I received an email yesterday confirming that I am an official graduate of Norfolk State University and in that moment I realized just how successful I have become. It took me eleven years to graduate from college. I started in 2006. To see that dream deferred, complete, is enlightening. Also, it is so telling of life’s experiences. You really are the new twenty. You come with a new set of challenges; operating on discipline, facing mortality, and cleaning up all those petty insecurities that still lie within me. However, you are a shield to it all.

You give me the next few years to be free. You are the experience that we all spent all of our lives waiting for, freedom. There is no more noise or cloudiness. I can do whatever I want.