Tag Archives: Life

10 Things I Hate About Moving Right Now

We thought we’d be out of our old apartment by now but here we are still checking Zillow and Westside Rentals every day or driving to different properties to take a tour. And because I like bulleted lists, I’m going to just get to the point with this post and write out my list of why moving is the bane of my existence these days. But in the spirit of looking to the bright side, I will add a bonus “positive note” after each bullet point.

  1. My dog is not with our family. My dog passed away a few months ago and this will be my first home (since moving out of my mother’s house) without him. Every day I’m reminded of his absence and nothing hits home more than looking for a new place and telling the landlord “no, we won’t be bringing any pets.” It feels like I’m betraying him. (Positive Note: not having a pet definitely broadens our choices and brings costs down.)
  2. Our current apartment is amazing and I don’t want to leave. Get this… we have a dishwasher, built-in microwave, personal washer and dryer, a balcony, two bedrooms, hardwood floors, plenty of counter space, storage space and relatively new kitchen cabinets, appliances and an updated bathroom. In other words, we’re looking for another unicorn right now and it ain’t happ’nin. (Positive Note: This apartment is expensive as all hell. Leaving will lighten the financial load in a major way.)
  3. Los Angeles charges too got-damn much for too got-damn little. It’s insane what some of these crappy-ass apartments are going for out here. I’ve gone to places and walked in just to turn right back around, tossing an “okay, thanks!” out to the landlord who’s just finished unlocking the door. It’s almost to the point that when me and my hubby see a nice place, we immediately know it’s out of our price range. And if it’s not out of our price range, it freaks us out. I’ve had nightmares thinking about what could possibly be wrong with a place that is moderately priced yet live-able. And after returning at night or a quick briefing from the neighbors in that area, my suspicions are usually verified. (Positive Note: Los Angeles pays more and has better jobs, so in a sense there’s a kind of trade-off.)
  4. Landlords ask for a lot of personal information. This isn’t so much a complaint as an observation. Los Angeles is the only city I’ve experienced where you meet someone for the first time and they’re asking for your social security number, bank account numbers, driver’s license info, pap smear results and whatever else information is needed for an all-in-one do-it-yourself identity theft starter kit. Some of the greasiest, shadiest looking people have sat before me asking a bunch of personal-ass questions before they even hand me the apartment application in the first place. And they’re so used to people just giving up this information without so much as a thought, that when you’re a bit hesitant, they treat you like you’re the one that’s crazy. I’ve asked landlords how they file records of my private information and for how long to be met with a look that implies “who cares?” It’s really insane how much they ask for. (Positive Note: There are ways around this. For one, you’re only required to give up information that would directly help a landlord to know if you can pay your rent or not. Anything else, like say a bank account number, is unnecessary. If you provide a bank statement, you can cross out the number or just give them the last four digits so they can match it up with your credit report. Everything they need would be provided on your credit report anyway.)
  5. My husband is terrible at leaving voice messages and it’s driving me crazy. “Um… hi, my name is um HUSBAND and um . . . (long pause) . . . (whispers) to see *ahem* (screams) I’D LIKE to um see if uh . . . you have an apartment for rent. I mean – uh – I see that you have an apartment for – uh – rent, I just would like to rent an apartment because I’m ummmm . . . (very quietly) moving. (Long pause) I’m moving in a few weeks and . . . it’s . . . it’s – um – we don’t have any pets. And um – we wanted to know if your apartment is um . . . the apartment located at 123 Blankety Lane is uhhhh . . . ummmm . . . uhhhh . . . still available. Okay . . . um . . . Um ok um. Thank you so very much. We um . . . really appreciate you and everything that you do for society. Okay, take care. Um bye!” (Positive Note: I gave him a script and although he was offended and tossed it aside, I secretly heard him using it the other day. Thank ummmm God!)
  6. We have to get rid of a ton of stuff. We’ve built up quite a collection of things and those things have got to go. And while it’s going to be hard to battle my inner voice that tries to tell me to hold onto every single thing, I know it’s going to be even harder battling my husband who will be trying to hold onto every single thing. This man is a beginner hoarder. (Positive note: We’re long overdue for a deep spring cleaning and this will be a good way to start anew.)
  7. Finding a good place is scary. We found a really great apartment the other day and then came back at night. It was creepy and there were some shady characters hanging around but this didn’t immediately stop us in our tracks. What stopped us was a third visit where we talked to some neighbors and one of them gave us the ultimate “buyer beware” speech about why we shouldn’t move in. So that place was off the table for us. The next place we liked was a gated community with hardwood floors, two full bathrooms and large bedrooms. We filled out the application right away and called back in a few days to ask about our status. “The apartment’s not filled yet,” said a man with a thick Spanish accent. “Well, umm when do you hope to ummm (long pause) fill it?” my husband asked. “We don’t know,” the guy replied. And that was the end of that. Today we checked out a townhouse style apartment and we absolutely fell in love with it. After the tour, I bee-lined toward the property manager and smiled, “I love it! Are these the applications?” and I reached out to grab one from the counter-top when she said, “Hold on . . . I’d like to ask you some questions first.” She eyes me up for a bit and looks back and forth to me and my husband suspiciously. “What do you do for a living?” From there we answered a bunch of questions, but then it eventually turned into a one-sided conversation where the woman unloaded all of her personal thoughts. At times, when we managed to bring the conversation back to the business at hand, she stated a few times that it’s not about filling the apartment as soon as possible, it’s about filling it with the right people. We deducted that she was the personal gatekeeper to this property so me and my hubby put on the charm and laughed at her jokes, listened to all seven thousand of her stories and nodded or shook our heads in sympathy for a good forty-five minutes. We were literally being held hostage in this moment by a woman who stood between us and our potential new home. We’ve dropped off the application and can only hope that this place will be the end of our journey. Regardless, it’s really an interesting thing to have such a large part of your life hinge on so many strange people and on so many scenarios that you can’t control. (Positive Note: This last place is IT. I’m claiming it.)
  8. We’re getting rid of the second bedroom. I talked about this in my other post. I’m getting rid of the second bed and replacing it with a desk. But as I write this blog post at 3:30am in the morning because I can’t sleep because my husband is snoring at top volume, I wonder if this is the right decision. (Positive note: It’s the right decision. Also, we’re considering getting a pull out couch or cot for the spare room.)
  9. There’s the part where we actually move. It’s a lot of muscle and hard work that will be needed and I don’t wanna. (Positive note: That’s the least of our problems, really. If anything, I’m glad to be at a point in my life where I can afford a moving truck. The next step will be when I’m able to afford movers. But at the very least I’m going to get a work out.)
  10. I was hoping my next move would be into a house. Yeah, wishful thinking. (Positive note: This move is really prompting a lot of goal setting behavior for me. I’ve been thinking about timelines and hard goals that I’d like to hit within the next two years. I’ve never been good at planning but lately, I’ve been motivated and I attribute that to this move which has put a lot of things into perspective for me.)

That’s all I got! Phew! I feel better. Now let me get my butt back to sleep while I still have this spare bedroom.

My Dream Office

Me and my husband are moving. And if you’ve ever lived in Los Angeles and had to move, you know how much life is sucking for us right now. The stress of finding a new place has taken its toll but there is one beacon of hope guiding me ever so gently to the peaceful shores of… peace. And that beacon – dear reader- is the promise of my new office.

Right now we live in a two-bedroom with a king sized bed in the master and a full sized bed in the spare. The spare room has a tad bit more room (because the bed is smaller) and in that teensy-weensy corner of space, we managed to connect a shelf to the wall and put a big-ass computer on top of it. We scooch a chair up to this shelf and work on the computer, pretending that it’s a desk. Pretending we have an office. And pretending that we can get work done in this cramped up bit of space.

One day (a few months ago) while prepping the spare room for a video shoot, we had to take down the bed. And while the bed was out of the room, seeing how much space we’d deprived ourselves of, we decided immediately that an office would be in our future. It felt like that scene in Step Brothers where Will Ferrell enthusiastically exclaims “We can get so many activities done!” A new world had opened up for us. And from that point on, the clock was ticking until the moment we could be rid of that bed and replace it with a desk.

And now that day is quickly upon us and here’s how I’m thinking it’s going to change my life.

**Drum roll please**

It will give me the feeling of going to work again. As many of you know, I’ve quit my job. And there’s something about not having to wake up in the morning and be somewhere at a specific time or else you’re going to be fired or yelled at that takes the wind right out of your sails. I mean, at first it was cool and the gang. I’d wake up and stare at the ceiling in bliss. Stretch and roll over, taking my sorry ass right back to the magical world of sleepy-time dream-world land. And while these kinds of mornings will never get old for me, they’re not productive AT ALL. They usually lead to a day of playing catchup. I try to get into work mode, but find myself lounging on the couch with the keyboard on my lap, wearing a t-shirt and panties and fighting every instinct to just turn on the TV and catch up on Empire. And guess what? Lucious’s shady ass always wins.

So with this office space, I’m hoping I can jumpstart myself into “office mode.” Sure, I don’t have a commute anymore but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a nine to five. Yeah, I don’t have supervisors to answer to but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to do my job in a thorough and efficient manner. And when I really think about it, I do have a supervisor. Myself. And if I can trick myself into following an unnecessarily stingy grocery budget (which I have for the past few weeks), I can surely create an arbitrary corporate schedule for myself to follow. And so with every waking moment, I plan out my days as if getting ready to start a new job. I anticipate waking up early and doing yoga. Taking my shower and doing my hair and makeup. Putting on my work outfit (nothing too formal) and getting to the “office” at nine A-M on the dot to start my workday. I’ll have my coffee on my desk and sift through emails, before reaching out to people and working on new projects, reading scripts, writing scripts, writing other things (blogs, articles, proposals, etc.), reaching out to new contacts and maintaining old ones.

It’s going to be glorious and I can’t wait to bully myself into submission.

A Good Script is Hard To Find

I recently wrote, directed and produced a comedic web series. And now that that Herculean task is nearing completion, I’m back at square one… looking for my next project to produce. Here’s the thing – I don’t really want to write my next project and I’m not too fond of directing it either. I just want to produce. The problem is, I haven’t been able to find a worthy script.

One thing that people don’t really know about producers is that we are the people who do the grunt work. We gather all of the resources and people needed to make films possible. The investors, the crew, the salespeople, the marketing team, the special effects, you name it we have our hand in it. It’s not an easy task, so having a good script is the first requirement.

The first thing a producer has to do is fall in love with the script. Why? Because we will have to be the film’s biggest cheer leader. We have to be. How else are we going to keep things going? How else would we get money for the project? How else are we going to get people excited enough to see the film and to tell their friends to see the film? How are we going to keep ourselves motivated enough to see the project through to completion. So all of these things add up to this one fact: it’s gotta be a good script.

Because nobody’s going to be putting their blood sweat and tears into something they don’t believe in. Especially the person responsible for getting the thing to happen in the first place. So with this in mind, I’ve been looking for something that’s going to knock my socks off. Something that’s going to be my foray into the big leagues of feature length films. Unfortunately, I gots nothing. And the pitches I’ve been getting have so much more promise than the actual execution of these ideas. Also, I get a lot of great pitches from people who aren’t motivated enough to sit down and write the damned script. That frustrates me more than anything.

I have plenty of directing buddies. Plenty of crew people I can call on in a jam. I know a ton of producers, like myself. But my writing buddies fall into one of three categories…

  1. People I wouldn’t work with because they don’t know how to take notes.
  2. People who can’t finish a script and/or can’t tell a good story.
  3. People with no scripts.

In no way am I complaining, though. I feel like I’m being lead toward something else. And that ‘something else’ is writing my own script. Begrudgingly, I’m leafing through old notebooks and spreadsheets of abandoned projects and deciding to hunker down and get them done. Sometimes when you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. My only problem is, I don’t know if I can do it right.

No time like the present to find out.

A List of Boundaries

I’ve been going to a therapist for well over a year now and – at the risk of sounding like a cliche – I think I had a breakthrough. By rambling on and on a few days ago, I came to a conclusion that is also very-much a cliche.

I have boundary issues.

I move the goal post when it comes to how I allow people to treat me. And here’s the thing, I came to this jarring conclusion about myself in the weirdest, most roundabout way. Through budgeting for groceries.

So here’s the thing. Me and my hubby have been handling our money situation all kinds of wrong. We buy food and then let it go to waste because we end up eating out or just not using up our ingredients. After a while, we’d find that we’ve thrown away hundreds of dollars worth of food at the end of the month. This ate me up inside more than it did my hubby who tends to run to the grocery store two, maybe three times a day. If he has a taste for something, he’s off to the store to get it. He will buy things just because we ran out of it, as opposed to because we plan to eat it. So when we saw that we were running into some rough financial patches, the first thing I wanted to change was our terrible grocery habit.

I created a tight budget and I mean, super tight. We plan our meals for the entire week according to this budget and buy all of the food we will need in one trip to the grocery store. There’s no “I have a taste for this or that” going on. We only do fully planned meals. If there’s a luxury food item it needs to fall within the budget or be made from scratch using ingredients we already have. And surprisingly, this budget has been working really well for us. Why? Because the hubby and I are competitive. So this has turned into a kind of game. How much lower than the budget can we get? How many different recipes can we derive from the ingredients on the list? What foods can we make based on what’s on sale? All of the excuses and strong cravings for eating out have even taken a backseat because the limits we put on ourselves are practically iron-clad. I never knew exhibiting this kind of discipline and self control could be so exhilarating. Also, real-talk, me and the hubster have never eaten so good.

Alright, so back to my boundary issues. I recently jumped off of a feature film project not too long ago. The project was great, but the person I would have been working with was exhibiting some red-flag behaviors and I decided to jump out while we were still in the early stages to avoid bigger issues in the future. This experience was unfortunate but not a big deal for me because… well… shit happens. Life goes on. What stood out for me, though, was everything about this project was something that I promised myself I would never produce in the first place. It pretty much checked every box on my “nope, not gonna happen” lists. But I was willing to forego all of the boundaries that I’d made because the script was really good, and it was a friend that pitched it to me, and it seemed doable, and why not? I’m not doing anything else these days and I can find a way to make it work and and and… It wasn’t that I was afraid to say “no.” It’s just that I wasn’t as firm in my convictions as I thought I was. I had no discipline. No self-control.

And so while relaying this experience to my therapist the other day, I mentioned how happy I was to have ‘dodged a bullet’ but then I had to ask myself how I’d gotten to that point in the first place. Why was I always going back on my word? Why did it seem that I was always biting off more than I could chew when it came to various aspects of my life? Thinking about this question lead me to grasping for areas of my life that were under control. And the first thing that sprang to mind was my super exclusive grocery list. This was the one area of my life where I was as firm as a bouncer at the hottest club in L.A. If it’s not on the list, it’s not happening. Oreo cookies? Nope, not on the list. No ifs, ands or buts. After this breakthrough, I realized that the list had become a healthy obsession. Writing down our restrictive budget made it so real to us that going outside of it was unthinkable.

With all of this in mind, I decided that I would make a list, a budget (if you will) that lays out my personal boundaries. Since having unspoken professional and social boundaries doesn’t seem to be working (similar to how my unspoken grocery boundaries were practically nonexistent) perhaps, writing them down and committing to them obsessively will lead me toward a reasonable social and professional life where I don’t have to waste energy questioning if I did the right or wrong thing. There is no right or wrong thing… only “the list.” Also, I’d like to refer to this list so that I can commit it to memory and possibly even send it out to those who need to know what I’m about.

Here’s what I have so far. It’s broken down into categories…

PROFESSIONAL

I don’t produce other people’s short films or TV pilots for free. I will only work on a short film or pilot that has financing in place and a budget set aside for my fee.

I don’t do crowdfunding.

I will produce a feature ONLY under these conditions…

  • The project must be under $1mil. to produce
  • I produce it alone or with additional producers of my choosing.
  • All above-the-line crew members must be proven professionals. No first-timers in terms of never having had experience doing this job in any capacity.
  • Film must include women of color as leads or in substantial roles.

I don’t read scripts that are not referred from a friend.

If I don’t like your script, I will not meet up with you to talk about it.

If I don’t like your script or concept, I will not produce your movie.

If I don’t like you, I will not produce your movie.

If you don’t take constructive notes or feedback, I will not produce your movie.

If I am directing or producing a film and you refuse to take orders from me, you’re fired.

 

SOCIAL

If you are not as attentive to what I have to say as I am to what you have to say, then we are not friends. I am your therapist and my fee is $33/hour. You only get one time for this to happen before I charge.

I will tell you when you’re being rude and/or inappropriate. If you don’t address it immediately, then our interaction is over regardless of the situation.

I won’t pretend I didn’t notice something you said or did. I will give words to what I feel.

I don’t get into loud arguments or fights in public places. But if I you ever force me into a situation where I must do this, our relationship is over.

MENTAL

I will focus my energy toward being positive and productive. Any changes in mood will be a choice.

 

That’s all I got for now. I’m going to start reading this list and reciting it every day like Arya Stark. Also, I’m sure I’m missing some things so I look forward to adding to this list as much as possible in the future.

 

Apocalypse Now

It’s been a minute and I don’t have the time or words to catch you guys up with my life.

So let’s just jump right into the shit storm which is present day, shall we?

First of all, what in the entire FUCK is going on?

You know what? I can’t even say I’m confused. I grew up in a (very) Christian household. And due to this, I’ve been preparing for Armageddon my entire life.

“Do you think I came to give peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

– Jesus Christ (Luke 12:51)

So, the way I interpreted the bible was that things would get crazy in the last days because Jesus is coming back and he’s bringing the thunder.

But lets talk about race relations in America real quick. They’ve NEVER been good. Ever.

And to a lot of *cough, cough* White *cough* people that’s shocking. They had no idea Black people were so unhappy.

And so Alton Sterling is shot, on camera. And Black people – myself included – were upset. Then shortly after, Philando Castile is murdered and to be honest with you, I felt like a part of me died inside. That was the last straw for me and a lot of other Americans. I decided to join the local chapter of Black Lives Matter as well as a number of organizations. And I got to marching.

To give you some background as to the fire in my bones about this issue, I’ve been pulled over and harassed by cops my entire life. I’m talking about from the age of 9 years old I have stories about cops NOT being my friend. I don’t know any Black people who haven’t been mercilessly bullied by police officers.

And so I’m getting on social media and educating people. Sharing memes and stories. Giving encouragement. Giving advice. Just sharing the enlightenment.

Now I always thought I had well rounded friends – Black, White and other. But then I discovered that I have a bigoted-ass, racist-ass, “what about me”-ass, All Lives Matter-ass, so-called friend that was hiding in the woodwork and waiting for a day like this to come out and say a bunch of bullshit.

This dude came out spewing all kinds of vitriol about Black Lives Matter and race relations in general. Saying that he wants to be considered as an individual but talking about Black people as if we’re a monolith. Saying that White people are afraid to talk to Black people because WE’RE scary and they’re afraid we’ll call them racist. So yeah. Black People. We’re the scary ones y’all. And apparently the only thing that’s worst than being murdered in the streets is being called a racist. I’m getting angry just typing this.

This human excrement decided to use the times that we’re currently living in – where Black people are being murdered in the streets – to derail the conversation and talk about White people’s feelings and say that Black people don’t have any right to be angry. His rant was so racist that I wondered how he could have possibly been in my presence for as long as he was without attempting to lynch me from a tree. I unfriended him immediately but not before having a very long discussion with him in which I attempted to see what he thought it was best for us negroes to do to avoid his constant irritation.

Now this piece of garbage said that he wants to do away with cops completely because they’re racist and terrible to Black people. But he couldn’t wrap his microscopic brain around the fact that terrorism for Black people goes beyond law enforcement. Any mention of unfairness lead to him ranting about how he personally wasn’t responsible for slavery, as if that was the ONLY disenfranchisement committed in the history of this country. He said that he thinks every interaction between the races should be approached as if history didn’t exist and we’re living in a vacuum. I asked him how that’s possible. He attempted to direct me to his youtube video entitled… wait for it… “How to End Systemic Racism.”

I love people of all races. I really do. But I’m going to need all of the decent White people in the world to listen to me and take these very important steps in the weeks to come…

Step 1 – If, during these very sensitive and painful times, you hear your fellow brethren being a massive dick and speaking about racism as if they themselves are victims and asking questions like “What about the White people?”… go out and buy a handgun and hit them really hard in the back of the head when they’re not paying any attention. Then clean off the handgun and return it to the store, because you don’t need a reminder of that kind of negativity in your life.

Step 2 – (See Step 1)

That’s all I have the energy to write.

For real.

I’m exhausted.

And I want to go live on the moon.

 

 

Exodus into the Job Abyss

I’m leaving my place of employment and here’s the dealio. I’m feeling good about this decision but I don’t know that I’ve ever given y’all the details.

So here’s some things concerning my premature ejaculation…

from my job:

 

WHEN?

My last day is this Friday.

WHY?

I’m leaving this gig because I’m overqualified. That’s prettymuch what it all boils down to. I could break down all of the little things that make me want to leave but every grievance, complaint, annoyance, mistake and/or confusion within my workplace experiences centers on the fact that I am overqualified to be doing what I’m doing.

WHAT EXACTLY AM I DOING?

My job is to help someone else to do their job. Again, I could break down my position and give you my official title and every single requirement but this is really another ‘bottom line’ element which everything else boils down to. There is not one thing that I do on any given day that is independent of my helping another person to achieve their professional (and many times personal) goals.

Which is totally fine…

…but that’s not what I want to do. And more importantly, I’m not gaining skills that could help me to get a better job.

WHAT DO I PLAN ON DOING?

Well, I’m glad you asked! You’re so considerate… we should really do coffee sometime.

I’m leaving this job so that I can pursue personal projects. My goal is to produce short films, feature films, web series, hell… maybe even a TV series. I want to do my own thing.

And that is where ish gets scary.

Because despite the fact that I followed my dreams up to this point, I’ve always done what I’d like to call “asking-for-permission-ass” jobs. (An asking-for-permission-ass job is pretty explanatory, I think. Just imagine a grownup version of the game “Mother May I.”) Anyway, I’ve spent 10 years ‘paying my dues’ and asking Mother if I could take a few bunny hops forward only to be told, “nah Peggy… but you can stay your ass where you at tho”. The shit is old. And I can’t imagine spending another year not having a job where I can work from home. Or take a client to lunch. Or fire someone.

So here I am.

HOW TO DO WHAT I’M DOING

First of all, I ain’t doing shit yet. I could fail miserably and come crawling back to my current job, begging for a chance to be in the building again.

Just as – you know –  a janitor.

I don’t need my old job back, Marie, I swear. I just need a job. Any job ya got!

**Picks up mop**

See, look at this. I’m mopping the floor. Ain’t too proud for this, Marie. I know it’s a carpet… just… come on! Work with me here.

So don’t copy offa me because I have no idea what I’m doing. Anywho, it really helps that my hubby is working again. Otherwise, my other go-to would be to live in my car. I think about living in my car quite a bit, actually, dunno why.

But my hubby is taking on the brunt of our bills because he knows that I got the goods and will probably be a pretty decent Producer. We’re going to rely on his paycheck and thank God he’s been able to find more freelance work recently because, I planned on quitting no matter what.

So I’m ready to give this entrepreneurial life a try because I’ve done everything else and can’t fathom spending another day wondering “what if?”