Jet Lag.

Just over a week ago, I penned a hopeful dispatch from London’s Heathrow Airport in the pages of my journal.

IMG_3862_2

It was afternoon, and I was squeezed into a tiny table at a crowded café in terminal five, scribbling notes about my trip as I waited for my flight to Los Angeles to begin boarding. After two weeks in Europe, I was homeward bound, and I was more than ready to return. I was ready to return to my life and to once again take up the big, important projects – both career and life – that I’d been putting off. I was ready to hit the ground running with a renewed sense of purpose.

And return I did, after a sleepless ten hour flight, a terse exchange with an LAX cab driver – who kicked me out of his car after he learned I’d be paying my fare with a credit card – and a foggy few days spent trying to catch up and reintegrate myself, amidst strange sleep patterns and cloudy, confused dreams in which I existed both in the place I was and the place I’d been, simultaneously. Palm trees in Prague . . . what the??

IMG_3688

But my jet lag wore off. And reality set in. And as it did, I found my sense of hopefulness waning. It became difficult, once again, to keep my spirits up.

My post-vacation hangover made me realize something simple, yet true: it’s easy for me to feel optimistic when I’m away, because it’s easier to look at my life for what it could be, as seen from a distance, than for what it actually is, when it’s right up close. Strolling the banks of the Thames or the Vltava, bundled up against the February chill, my L.A. life looked like some sort of sun-soaked dream. A dream that I couldn’t wait to return to.

But my actual L.A. life isn’t exactly a sun-soaked dream. It is much more difficult than the palm trees would have you believe. It’s full of traffic jams and smog and grown up decisions and a high cost of living and endless bills to pay. It’s creative burnout and failed relationships and an ongoing struggle to make peace with my past. More than anything, life in LA. these days is a struggle to figure out who the heck I am after I’ve been so many versions of myself and none of them have worked out.

IMG_3803

Yes, I am feeling sorry for myself. And yes, it’s disgusting. Let’s get real for a second. I’ve just returned home to Los Angeles, which, weather-wise, is pretty damn pleasant compared to what most of the rest of the world is experiencing in late February. I just spent two weeks in Europe on an incredible adventure – the type of self-indulgent trip that most people only dream of. And all around me in this sprawling, massive, city, there are reminders that my life, for all of my complaints, is not really that bad.

As I scribble these words into my journal, I’m sitting in another café, half a world away from the one at Heathrow. But you can’t really call it a café: it’s a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Right in front of me, in the middle of the afternoon in broad daylight, is a most unfortunate business transaction: an exchange between a prostitute and her pimp. She: edgy, nervous, eager to please, fingernails caked in dirt (that’s how close she is to me) with a tiny, scruffy dog in her lap. He: cold, disinterested, rude, and treats her so callously, it’s obvious that he sees her as nothing more than property. My stomach turns and I try to pretend I don’t see them, but it’s impossible. I feel guilty for obsessing about my own stupid problems, ashamed when the girl’s eye briefly meets mine, and then sad, as I look away and cast my eyes downward, toward the floor.

IMG_3861

The best thing about my trip to Europe was that it reminded me of the carefree, hopeful girl that I used to be when I lived in London as a twenty-one-year-old college student, when the world stretched out wide in front of me, when possibility seemed limitless and I still believed that nothing bad could happen to me. The worst thing about my trip to Europe was that I returned, knowing for sure that I am no longer that girl.

Real life is very unlike my European vacation, and much more like the scene I witnessed at the Coffee Bean. It confronts you with its realness, with its complexity. Sometimes it’s gritty and sad. Sometimes it forces you to look away.

Every time I leave town, I’m happy. For a time. But then I come back, and the old problems are still here, and I’m still here. And time is passing and life is happening all around me. And I’m not really any closer to figuring it all out.

So I have decided that it’s time. Time to say yes to the here and now – even if the here and now is gritty and difficult and real. Even if it makes me sad. It’s time to commit and connect to my real life in a way that I’ve been avoiding. Time to buckle down and do the hard work. Because you can’t correct what you don’t confront. And the hour is growing late.

This might be the craziest adventure yet. Wish me luck?

Until next time, friends.

IMG_3823

 

Fiction.

DSC_1613-02-small

I’m writing a screenplay that’s loosely (OK, maybe not so loosely) based upon my life. The lead character is, essentially, me. Except she’s cooler than I am, she’s more screwed up, she’s funnier than I am and she’s more of a bad ass. She’s me, but she’s more. She’s the me I wish that I could be.

As I’ve been writing, I’ve realized something: penning a story about a character that’s a hyper-realized version of myself is my attempt to re-write my life. I’m writing my girl into scenes that are thisclose to some of my actual life experiences, but I’m making them more exciting, more dangerous, sexier, and flat out more interesting than real life. This screenplay is becoming my own revisionist history, where my life is made more compelling (at least, that’s the goal) through added conflict and drama.

The opportunity to step into different shoes and experience lives that are more adventurous, bolder, and more on the edge than my own is why I like acting and it’s why I like writing. But sometimes I wonder if I’m spending so much time living in other people’s heads that I’ve lost sight of what’s really in front of me. I put my earphones in and daydream movies in my mind as I listen to music. I make up stories about people – both complete strangers and people that I know – because making up stories is fun. But am I so attracted to the fantasy version of life that it has eclipsed actual reality? And if that were the case, would I even know it?

The roots of this behavior began when I was very young. As a child, I spent a lot of time alone. Dad traveled a lot, drank a lot, and Mom was often sad and difficult to reach out to. My parents were loving, but – if I’m honest – they were emotionally distant and wrapped up in their own worlds and problems. I didn’t have siblings my own age so I grew up essentially as an only child, daydreaming up fantasy worlds and entertaining myself through songs, games and stories. If I felt like psychoanalyzing myself, I’d say that my early isolation is probably the very reason I became attracted to showbiz and the arts in the first place. My stories and my imagination were a coping mechanism, they were a form of self-protection, and they became my world.

I wonder about the fantasy/reality distinction in my non-fiction blogging as well. While the events I write about are all true and have all really happened, I wonder if I don’t make them sharper, more interesting, and somehow different than they actually are simply in the act of retelling them? It’s quite impossible for a storyteller to divorce an experience from their unique perspective on it. But if every single event, every single human interaction is filtered through experience, then is everything subjective and somehow, shaded?

Pablo Picasso famously said, ‘Art is not the truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.’ By telling stories about my real life and turning them into art, am I somehow getting closer to my truth? Or have I simply become entranced by my own fiction?

Until next time, friends.

Blog at WordPress.com.