“There are no happy endings.

Endings are the saddest part,

So just give me a happy middle

And a very happy start.”

-Shel Silverstein

On Monday, I grieved. I didn’t know what else to do. I told myself I should get to work on my very long, very ambitious to-do list with the heading “Post Fringe,” but in truth, my heart wasn’t in it. Instead, I hid from the sweltering Southern California heat inside the walls of my one bedroom apartment, and I moped.


June was a fun month. To be honest, it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Months of hard work and preparation culminated in the production of my play, War Stories, at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Over the course of three and a half weeks, we put up six performances, and my friends – many of whom I hadn’t seen in months – came to see them. And in between the performances (which garnered better-than-I-could-have-hoped-for reviews from both critics and audiences alike), there were parties and mixers and seemingly infinite amounts of theater to see. I saw thirteen shows in June, everything from cabaret to burlesque to improv to musicals to solo performance. Fringe was three and a half weeks jammed full of inspiration and artistic creation and community in the heart of Hollywood, and it was wonderful.

But now it’s over. And if June was all about celebration, then July is all about work. Because not only do I have to get back into the laboratory and continue to shape the next, two-act draft of War Stories for an upcoming production this winter, I also have a whole list of other important things to tackle that I put off while I was out fringe-ing. Boring, tedious, life things. Such as figuring out how I’m going to pay my bills now that I’ve decided to enter the brave new world of freelancing.

I suppose it’s not surprising then that on Monday, I felt like I was in a ravine, looking up at the next, larger mountain needing to be scaled, thinking, “Oh, hell no. Not today.”


But then Tuesday arrived, which also happened to be my late father’s birthday. I never know quite how to approach these emotionally-loaded anniversaries, but I usually try to do something nice for myself, so I went up to one of my favorite places in Los Angeles: The Getty Center. I typically rush through museums, but on Tuesday, I turned off my cell phone and I took it all in: the replica caves of Dunhuang with their intricately painted walls and ceilings and Buddhist icons, Rousseau’s landscapes, the Greek and Roman sculpture, the Medieval tapestries. And somewhere among the decorative arts in the South Pavilion, a perfectly paneled Parisian drawing room transported me to 17th Century France, and I felt better.

Leave it to my Dad, the biggest kicker of ass and taker of names I ever knew, to inspire me to shake off my self-pity and resolve to get back to work. And maybe I also needed to spend an afternoon immersed in the work of other artists to remind me that there are still many, many stories inside of me waiting to be told. Yes, writing is hard work. It requires time and dedication and solitude and sometimes even a little blood. (That may sound dramatic, but if anything I’ve ever written has made you cry, I promise it’s because I cried while writing it.)

Writing is hard. Doing the work is hard. But I also love it. Most of the time, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. And since I’ve decided that – one way or another – it’s how I’m going to make my living, it’s time to get back to it.

Well, almost. With the Fourth of July holiday upon us, I’m not quite ready to go back to reality just yet. Moping done, I cashed in some airline miles and booked a plane ticket out of L.A. Because in order to fully recover my equilibrium, I need to spend a few days in a beautiful place with people I love. I’ll make sure to bring my journal.

Until next time, friends.


Where I Write: the dressing room.

Where do you get your ideas? It’s a question that writers are asked frequently. It’s a question that I used to ask frequently, before I learned through experience and self-discipline that the more I forced myself to sit my butt in a chair in front of a computer and not move, the more the muse tended to show up.

However, I recognize that there are times in my writing life when I feel more inspired than others, times when ideas flow more easily. And in my experience, I have found that inspiration is often directly linked to place, to where I write. I still do a fair amount of writing within the walls of my one bedroom apartment, but I am fortunate that the city where I live and the rather unconventional life that I lead here affords me an abundance of both ordinary and extraordinary places in which to put pen to paper.

The piece below is my inaugural entry in a new series about the places where I feel the most creative. I hope it inspires you. And if you’re so inclined, please share your favorite places to write in the comments below or on social media (Find me on Instagram @extradrymartini or on Twitter @drymartinigirl), by using the hash tags #extradrymartini and #whereiwrite.

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The Dressing Room

It’s a Wednesday morning in June and I’m out the door at 6:30 in order to make a 7:30 AM call time. It shouldn’t take an hour to get across town this early in the morning, but you never know in this city so I give it an hour just in case. It’s a week before the summer solstice, and the sun is already up when I shift my car into drive.

The city is still waking, not yet pulsing with the frenetic activity that’s on its way. As I wind my way through the streets, the traffic flows so easily that it feels like I’m getting away with something. Even the red lights seem to magically shift to green as my car approaches them. I take Pico to Crescent Heights to Olympic to Fairfax to 6th to Hauser to 3rd to Beverly to Western to Hollywood to Prospect. With each left and right, I feel bits of sentences stir within me. I read somewhere that Steven Spielberg gets his ideas while merging onto the freeway, and I get that. There’s something about navigating traffic that sharpens your focus. Or maybe it’s just the irony that ideas seem to come when you’re unable to write them down.

I show my ID at the gate and drive onto the lot. I check in with the stage manager, collect my scrubs from wardrobe and enter the familiar dressing room. Two brown sofas sit elbow to elbow, each adorned with a pair of mismatching pillows, one red with an orange geometric pattern, one apologetically 80’s with an oversized floral motif stretched out across its blue satin canvas. I stash my things in a locker and sit down in a squeaky brown office chair across from the mirror. As I sip my coffee, I put on makeup, brush my hair, and get into wardrobe. The stage manager’s voice over the intercom cuts through the quiet: “Half hour til item one,” she says.

I have some time. I could go to the green room for more coffee, to watch the news, to chat with other actors. But it’s quiet here and because I’m in the basement I can’t get a Wi-Fi signal. Perfect, just me and my thoughts. I pull out a black composition book, its front cover emblazoned with the words Now is the Right Time. I look up, briefly contemplate my reflection in the enormous mirror across from me, and then, begin to write.



“Before we begin, is there anything specific you’d like to know? Anything on your mind?”

I shift my weight on the colorful batik blanket spread out across the lawn, careful to keep my knees pressed together as I sit sideways in my too short, too warm for this sunny Southern California Sunday, black cocktail dress. Sweat runs down my back, and as I fumble with the crown of fragrant flowers balanced precariously on my head, I am keenly aware of the fact that my focus is everywhere except where it should be: right here, on the present moment, with her.

I’m spending Sunday afternoon at the launch party for my friend Tammin’s blog, Bottle and Heels. Bottle and Heels is female-centric and ambitious in scope, covering a range of topics from motherhood to career to relationships to beauty and fashion to current events, all with a focus on creating what Tammin calls “open conversation.” I’m one of the blog’s contributing writers, and when she first invited me to the launch party, Tammin described it as an event resembling a small wedding. She wasn’t kidding. I arrive at the Bel Air address to find beautiful people mingling over cocktails in a lush poolside garden setting, and – because Tammin is a successful actress – there’s also a red carpet, photographers and a plethora of sponsors doling out everything from makeup applications to massages to – I’m not kidding – Manservants, an entourage of attractive men attired in tuxedo jackets and (this is L.A.) shorts, floating around the party misting attendees with Evian water and shading them with parasols.

Party House

But it’s the Tarot card readings that I’m most interested in. Though my experience with Tarot is limited, an eerily prophetic reading two years ago in the back of a voodoo shop in New Orleans was enough to make a believer out of me. And now here I am, in the “Secret Garden,” a grassy terrace perched high above the poolside festivities, sitting (well, crouching really, in my stupid dress) across from Angie, the card reader.

And Angie wants to know what’s on my mind. “Well,” I begin, fumbling for words. “I guess I want to know about work. My job recently ended and I’m in a bit of a career transition, so . . .” I trail off, unsure of how to continue, but Angie has heard enough. She begins to shuffle and deal, glancing at her phone in between, because her brand of Tarot also involves iTunes consultations, apparently.

“You’re on the right track,” she begins, regarding me a focus so intense it’s a bit unnerving. “But it’s very important that you keep going, keep exploring. If you take a new job now, it won’t be the right thing.”

She continues to deal, growing increasingly excited with every card she turns over. “This new opportunity that’s coming, it’s a dream come true,” she says. “But you don’t know what it is yet. If you think you know – trust me – you don’t. Don’t get me wrong: it won’t be something crazy and out of left field like touring with a rock band. It will still be related to your industry, but whatever this job is, it will come as a surprise.”

Brushing aside the slight ego bruise at Angie’s firm conviction that I am in fact, not a rock star (OK, my current awkward, sweaty, floral crown slipping down onto my forehead state noted), I ask a follow up: “Do you have any idea when this dream job will arrive? I mean, I can handle uncertainty for a while, but how will I know when the right thing is the right thing?”

Tarot screen shot

“You’ll know,” she assures me, flipping another card. “OK. Here we go.” Angie’s concentrating intently now, so I shut up. “Late October, early November. That’s when you’ll know.” She looks up at me, eyes shining with what appears to be genuine enthusiasm. “It’s the dream,” she reiterates. “You’re going to be really happy.”

“BUT,” she cautions, “For the time being, you’ve got to stay open. And SLOW DOWN.” She consults her phone again. “Look!” she exclaims triumphantly, holding it up for me to see the song that’s playing: Slow it Down by the Lumineers. “Slow it down,” she repeats. “You haven’t learned everything you need to know.”

I thank her and get up, feeling dazed. So much of what she said, admittedly, was what I wanted to hear. That’s what this whole “hiatus” I’ve been on is supposed to be about, after all; taking time out and listening to my heart. Finding the courage to make different, bolder choices, rather than falling into my old pattern of doing what’s comfortable and what’s easy.

But I also needed to hear that I’m on the right track, even if that news was delivered from the iPhone of a kooky Tarot card reader at a Hollywood party. I needed confirmation that what I feel in my gut is true: that even though I don’t know how or when, somewhere down the line, all the dots will connect.

It has been a challenge for a Type A, meticulous planner like myself to continue to remain in a state of uncertainty, but little by little, I’m learning to embrace it. Because here’s the thing: as long as nothing is certain, it also means that anything is possible. And so, for the time being, I’m taking Angie’s advice. I am staying open, I am exploring, and I am – in the words of Emily Dickinson – choosing to dwell in possibility.

Until next time, friends.

Dream Teepee

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