We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto….

Uh-oh, I’m starting to get a little bad at keeping y’all updated here. Sometimes I’m just not sure what to write about. Other travel bloggers give advice and insight, and I don’t always feel like I have that. Others just talk about their journeys… but I always wonder if people really want to hear about everyday life. I started this blog to help me focus on the things I wanted to do… create, learn, and give. To connect with creative minds around the world, to learn about the world, and to give whatever I could, wherever I could. But my financial situation has been frustrating my attempts at this life. I have a lot of exciting ideas, things I want to do, and I pursue them no matter what, but sometimes I have to make sacrifices. Life doesn’t pause for you when you’d like it to! In the back of my mind, I keep thinking I should go live in Thailand where life is cheap, work online, and come back when I have savings.

Instead, I’m back in France, and have been shutting myself in trying to make progress on some creative work and my online work. I’d been looking forward to this time for a while but now that I’m here, I’ve got singers-block or something! Actors-block… everything. I feel so unproductive. I’m still making efforts, but I can’t help but bounce around anxiously from one task to another and wonder what the point of everything is. You know sometimes when you have some big goals but you’re not sure where to start… you start by preoccupying yourself with little goals that make you feel busy? Well, I do. And the past two weeks I’ve preoccupied myself trying to find a specific product for the upkeep of my new hair color.

Lavender blue, dilly dilly...
Lavender blue, dilly dilly…

 

Toner does not seem to exist in France. Here has been the process of trying to find it (and taking my mind off of the other more important things I should be doing). Or you can watch my video cry for help.

1. Locate salon supplies stores (something like Sally’s Beauty Supplies).

2. Visit one called Delorme, purchase blue bleach powder (so there’s no yellow, they tell me!) and developer.

3. Go to another salon supply store after bleaching my roots yellow, in search of toner. I get told I would have to bleach it more but I shouldn’t because it’s damaged. I keep trying to explain I won’t get it white by bleaching it more.

4. Go back to Delorme. Get sold some purple shampoo.

5. Go back to Delorme after the purple shampoo does nothing, and searching again on my own. Found a “blond toning” tube. Figured I’d try that.

6. Go back to Delorme after that doesn’t work and being told by a friend that I need to search for something called an eclaircessant. Salesperson returns with a small jar of purple stuff called “white toner.” OK. So you DO know the word “toner.” Now.

7. Throw up hands in disgust after this toner does nothing as well.

8. Happen to go into a Monoprix where they have a décoloration (whatever) in the hair dye section. Looks like she’s got white hair. I’ll try that.

9. Realize I’ve got a patch of spiky hair on the top of my head after this latest experiment, where I’ve melted my hair off. Clumps of hair like I’ve never seen clog my brush and the shower drain.

10. Brush my bangs back, put in more purple, and call it a day. Finally decide to order toner from the US.

I don’t know how anybody dyes their hair here.

I’m really loving the white and purple though. A real shame that I’ve hurt my hair so much in France trying to keep it up though. I’m slathering on the coconut oil and other hair products, and I think I’ll survive.

So yes. There’s that.

And if you’d like a little slice of French life, I have a story for you (cleaned up from my Yelp review of a certain restaurant…). Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not always a negative person. It was just out of the ordinary. There are plenty of good things about Paris and the people who live here! :-) But I feel obliged to warn people away from places that give bad customer service. I firmly believe in good customer service, and treating everyone kindly!!

So two friends and I went out to enjoy the Fête de la Musique last Saturday evening, and around 11pm snagged a small table at this café from which we intended to order some drinks and fries and enjoy the music in the square. I wasn’t timing our server, but it took at least 15 minutes until we were noticed. That’s OK, we weren’t in a rush, and it was a busy night. When he arrived, he asked if we were eating or drinking, and refused to serve us if we were only drinking. We clarified that we were also getting some fries. This seemed acceptable. He laid out some napkins. He later came back to get our orders. Friend #1 ordered a drink and the 2 orders of fries. Friend #2 wanted a hot drink, but he said they couldn’t serve that, so she continued to look at the menu. I was dying for some water to kill an oncoming dehydration headache, so I asked for a carafe. He yanked away our menus and spouted off a stream of French at us to the effect that he wouldn’t serve us water. We were so shocked we barely knew how to reply, and he walked off. 

For the next 20 minutes or so he ignored us, except when debating with my friends (whose French is much better than mine), one of whom is familiar with the law (having been a lawyer) who told him it’s against the law to refuse water. In the midst of this debate, I watched him wipe snot from his mustache with his bare finger, and go on to hand plates to the table next to us. He got within inches of my friend’s face at one point as she sat in her chair, and she held up her hands telling him to back off. When friend #1 went to find the manager, he took her chair and folded it up, putting it to the side. Friend #2 promptly went to rescue it, and then took her turn at finding management.

The owner of the restaurant brushed her aside several times, and another waitress appeared from behind the counter (at this point we were inside the restaurant, having given up the idea of staying there) to yell in my friend’s face. I was honestly concerned that she was going to get violent. My friend is a lovely, tiny girl, and for our massive server and this other waitress to get so physically threatening towards her was just shocking.

So, after being refused service in this manner, around midnight we left. A whole hour had passed in which he could have served us and everyone would have been content. Our table was as good as empty for that hour. So I could not see the logic in refusing to serve us.

And what is this place called? La Terrasse Sainte Catherine, in the Marais. You’ll know them by their servers wearing overalls.

La Terrasse of No Service
La Terrasse of No Service

 

I would just say don’t go there.

Let’s see, let’s see…. Well, I think this post is long enough for now. I’ll save something for next time! Though I have one more thing for you. I should have waited until I dyed my hair to do this one… But it just came to me one day while I was in LA, and I decided to record it right then and there! I’m really surprised I don’t have more views, Frozen parodies are just huuuuuuge right now! Share it if you like it.

 

A Day in Hollywood

Once in a while, someone will tell me that I should do more video blogs, talk more about my day-to-day life, take you on my adventures… the way I used to on my trips to Paris. The truth is, most of my days aren’t very exciting. I’ll either spend a lot of time on the computer trying to earn some money, or I’ll be doing background work on a show that only requires me to walk back and forth, or sit in one place, and it’s not all that exciting.

But yesterday turned out to be such a Hollywood day. I would love more days like this. And because it was so entertaining, I figured it would be a great thing to share! I apologize for not taking video, it’s not always the first thing on my mind, plus my iPhone has dust in the lens and I’m trying to get that fixed.

I arrived to set early today, as I usually do, and ordered a vegetarian breakfast burrito from the catering truck. Base camp was in a church parking lot, and no chairs or tables had been set up, so I ate it standing around with the other background actors (extras).

Once we checked in, we were bussed over to location, which was supposed to resemble a university in Paris. We were French students in a clown school. One of the actors ended up being placed right behind me, so I twisted myself around to chat. In English, though, because I’m still embarrassed about my French. No matter what I want to say, there are so many words I still grasp for.

After “class”, we all changed into our movement class outfits.

Here to save the day.
Here to save the day.

And guess where that class was?

If you cant read that, it says Scientology.
If you cant read that, it says Scientology.

Our holding was in a lovely courtyard, and we filmed in a small grassy area on the other side of the building. I was so curious as to what was inside, but the only part I saw was the lobby on my way to use the bathroom, which smelled strongly like some sort of hand-sanitizer.

So we jumped around like turtles for a while, and then our day was done! And the fun continued….

Earlier in the day, a new friend of mine a friend of a friend) emailed me an invite to a movie premiere and after-party. So I changed as quickly as I could and headed straight down Hollywood Blvd to the Egyptian theatre. I arrived an hour after the movie had begun, and the outer courtyard was looking quite empty, except for 3 security guards and a few star-stalkers. As I was talking to the guards, asking for the person I was supposed to check in with, Amanda Peet exited and encountered the autograph-seekers (a handful of middle aged men who probably sell the photos). Out of the corner of my eye I saw her (reluctantly) take a picture with one of them, as another insisted he had seen her at some certain bar or restaurant or something, while she said she had never been there. As she climbed into her chauffeured car, he protested that yes, that was where he met her for the first time. She still denied it, and left.

Meanwhile in my own world, security told me everyone had wrapped up and gone inside, since the movie had started an hour earlier. I texted my friend and stood on the sidewalk, while security wandered into the theater. I was left alone. I inched my way up to the theater doors, while still waiting for a reply. I could see the security farther inside, and decided to try the doors. They were locked. Another woman soon joined me outside, also late. We stood by the doors until someone else approached and opened them. We explained that we were late, and he let us in. Tadaaaaa! We both found seats to the front of the theater.

After the movie, I tried to find my friend. He had rushed off to the after-party after I told him I had made it in, to see if he could get me a wristband. Otherwise, I wouldn’t make it into the party (and I’d be a little irked that I’d chosen to pay $10 for parking simply to see half a movie). I decided to walk the 9 minutes to Hemingway’s and hope for the best.

On the way, I heard two men saying something about “do you know where we’re going?” and I figured they had come from the premiere as well. I approached them to ask.

“Hey, did you just come from the screening?”

“Yeah”

“I’m going to walk with you, you can be my protection.”

Because walking down Hollywood Blvd in the middle of the night is not exactly something I’m comfortable with.

We walked and talked, and when we got closer to the bar, I explained that I’d have to wait outside for my friend. But my new friends Boyd and Patrick (can I say that? Are you a friend if you may never see a person again?) decided it was worth a shot to try to get me in with them. And it worked. Once inside, we all got free drinks (red wine for me!) and I had to beg off to go locate my friend. Later in the night, I danced a song or two with them, but we didn’t get a chance to speak further.

It was fairly uneventful, just a lot of people dancing, eating little hors d’oeuvres, talking, etc. My friend really wanted to compliment Felicity Huffman, so at one point we went over to her as she was on the dance floor with her friends, and introduced ourselves.

“Hi, I’m Felicity!”

“Hi! Kendal.”

She leaned in.

“Kendal?”

“Yeah!”

“That’s my middle name!”

“Oh, cool!”

It was hard to hear people talking over the music, as we were standing pretty close to the DJ booth. But after short conversation with my friend, she said something about dancing and being old. She had a really warm and friendly personality, and was thoroughly enjoying herself on the dance floor. It’s funny, I only really know her as Lynette on Desperate Housewives, and now this movie (Trust Me). Apparently she and many other people involved in the film were really supportive of their friend Clark Gregg in the making of this film. I think it’s beautiful when people who have the ability to help and support their friends to reach their dreams and goals, do it. I hope to be in a position where I can do that as well. Though first, maybe I’ll be the one accepting some help (anyone? Do I know anyone? Hellooooooo?).

New friends! :-)
New friends! :-)

Well, I suppose the key to having a supportive network is to just keep making friends, and being a good friend! Which is fine with me. As a kid, one of my goals to was to make friends with everybody in the world! That may not be possible, but looking back on my day and all the new people I connected with, I realized that that really is my favourite part of life. Just connecting with other people. It’s like creating a giant web of love and friendship around the world.

My little group left around midnight, and I never did get to say good-bye to the guys who got me into the party. I saw them in the light of their cell phones, with a girl, on my way to the restroom, but when I made my return walk through the room, they were nowhere to be seen. That was the only down part (besides missing half of the movie) of the day, because I was very grateful to them and didn’t want to leave without saying good-bye. Ah well. Perhaps someday we shall meet again, and recall this Hollywood night!

Ubuntu

So a few weeks ago I was approached by a man with a camera about answering some questions about life for a project of his called Operation 365 (that link goes to my video there, actually), and although at the time I couldn’t do it, I emailed him back last week and scheduled an interview! I should have been smart enough to ask in the email what the question(s) were… I remembered him asking what your advice to the world would be to make it a better place, and I just said “Don’t be selfish.” That covers a lot. But when he repeated the questions (“what would you like to tell the world, what can people do now to make the world a better place in 100 years, and what’s one important word you would like to share”) I sat down to think. I came up with a bit of a poem to answer the first question, kind of forgot what the second question was, and dug up an African word I’d heard recently, because sometimes English words just don’t cut it. So here is my interview! Let me know what you think!

And please excuse the horrible freeze frame chosen for the main image. Gah.

I Can’t Afford It

When you hear a friend saying they wish they could do something but can’t afford to, do you jump right into “well, just cut out things like a daily coffee, because $5 a day at 30 cups a month is $150 a month right there!” or something like that?

Whenever I read an article about how to stretch your money, how to save money… they always have ridiculous tips like that.

What if you never buy coffee?

What if you have the cheapest, most restrictive plan for your phone (granted, it’s a smart phone but I’m not giving that up) that you could find, and make calls from Skype to save money?

What if you only go see a movie once a month and only go to a matinee so you’re not paying full price?

How do you juggle paying for the necessities with actually enjoying your life and following your dreams? Life is so short, who wants to waste it working 3 jobs?

Yes, I know that everything we spend money on is a choice. I may decide it’s more important to me to keep flexibility so that I can travel (cheaply…) rather than spend the money going out with friends. I may decide it’s worth it to me to pay $25 for a game that I can play with friends (Cards Against Humanity!) than to have more food in the fridge. They are choices. But just because it’s a choice, doesn’t make it an easy one.

I don’t go to the salon more than 2 or 3 times a year and always look for a cheap one. I don’t get my nails done, I don’t shop for clothing retail – and haven’t shopped at all in months. In fact I’ve sold about half of the clothing in my closet this year.

So what do you say when you have to or want to spend money on something (like a used camera lens, or your dog’s dental care) but don’t have the means? What do you say when friends invite you out but when you add up the cost of gas, food, and a drink, it’s more than you make in a day? How do you continuously say “I can’t afford it, I can’t afford it” without getting depressed about it and sounding like a complainer?

Don't despair. There's no money in it, but I can sell my purse to pay for your dental bill.
Don’t despair. There’s no money in it, but I can sell my purse to pay for your dental bill.

For several years after I moved to L.A., I struggled with money. I moved in with a boyfriend when I could no longer pay my $400/month rent. I was only saved by a $9000 inheritance by a relative, which I stretched to the max after paying my credit card debt and buying a new computer. Because my other one was a 10 year old PC that had just died.

And then came Adsense to save me, and for several years after that, I lived in peace. I could afford a nice place to live. Piano lessons, acting classes, dance classes, elocution classes… I could invest in myself and my career, at last. And I did. And I went out with friends, and I bought Groupons to do fun things, I loaded the fridge with food, which sometimes went bad before I could eat it.

I decided professionally, that I wanted to try France, since although I was putting all this investment into myself, I was not getting work in L.A. So it was time to make the most of life, learn French, and see if the grass was any greener over there.

And then Adsense began to say a long and drawn out good-bye.

I started relying on my savings in addition to the monthly income that was not enough to pay the bills, which were now in Euros.

And eventually that ran out as I struggled to continue to pursue my goals, and I found myself back in L.A., basically broke, doing background work again. I thought it would just supplement my waning income while I tried to prop it up again, until it took one final gasp, and pretty much died. Oh, I still get a little from it, but it’s not going to pay rent. Perhaps with the continuing CPR it may be revived, but not to it’s old glory days.

So I’m left with dreams and goals and the distraction of trying to pay the bills instead of focusing on my real contribution to the world.

I proudly scrimped and saved a few thousand dollars by working and selling off many belongings… only to sit at the accountant and be told that out of that $13,000 I earned… the IRS wanted $1800 of it. I crumbled. I already had taken out a personal loan to combat the crazy interest charges on my maxed out credit card. I was already eating one meal and a smoothie every day. Except the days I worked. I’d been struggling (and still struggle!) to give up the new addiction to organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups, which I could easily spend $50 a month on.

I’ve grown weary of telling friends I can’t afford to join them, tired of not being able to invite people out, depressed because I can’t afford to go dancing, or take classes, or just fund my little documentary by myself, which would only take a few hundred dollars more. I feel frustrated when I think I can treat myself to something (which also doubles as another potential way to earn money, such as a used camera lens, or a better microphone for my camera) and then something “more important” comes up to divert the funds. I feel guilty for telling my friend with the herbal hospital in India, year after year, that I want to come and maybe this year I can make it… but I can’t. I’ve grown tired of the panic and stress that arises when I’m faced with having to spend money I don’t have (on tires, on the vet, the doctor…), and the way I burst out with “I don’t know what else to sell! I don’t know how I can cut back any further on food, I don’t know how I can afford this….” and probably seeming pretty pathetic to whomever I’m talking to.

Websites tell me instead of saying “I can’t afford it,” that perhaps I could say “that’s too expensive and not a necessity.” But how many more things can I say that to? The doctor? The vet? And who wants to live with just the necessities? That’s great for a short period of time, but… months without going out for an unnecessary dinner or drink or show? Other websites assume that you don’t WANT to do the things you’re invited to do. Like it’s easy to say no because “I have a goal I’m saving for.” It’s not easy.

But it’s not just that. It’s not just learning what your priorities are when it comes to spending (which is a good thing). It’s the stress it creates and the time it steals. When the first thought in my mind, all day long, is “how can I earn enough money to be able to meet my goals?” and it never ends… it leaves me little time to unwind and actually work on those goals. To sit and play guitar for a few hours. To read books, to improve my singing or acting, my Photoshop or photography skills. Because I feel the need to spend that time trying to earn money to keep fed and pay off my debt. I feel as if I’m wasting precious time in my life. At 32, I don’t want my main focus to just be paying rent and eating. I want to be using my skills, enjoying my time with friends, giving back because I have enough for me and for others. The struggle has taken away too much of my life.

I realize I’m not the only one. And while it can feel like everyone else can afford the things I can’t, I know it’s not true. I know other people are struggling. And I wish I could help. I wish I was in a position to…

But perhaps this struggle has led me to a position to help. I have a glimmer of hope at the moment. A few months ago, I knew that I would have to save up, and try to revive the website, if I wanted to get back to Paris, and travel more, and be able to focus on my goals and go out with friends, as well. So I started looking online for other ways I could earn money. I’d looked before, when I was doing well, because I wanted to help my friends to live the same wonderfully free lifestyle that I was blessed with. But I never found a way. I tried to help them do the same thing I was, but it wasn’t for everyone, and even I had help. A lot of it! And after the IRS stole most of my savings, I knew it was my only chance. To find something else I could get started with. Otherwise, I would be looking into a future of deep uncertainty. A few months ago, I found something. A location independent potential income, that started working for me. Not right away. Not before the taxes were due. At that point I thought I may still be doomed. But last month, hope started to bloom. I made some money. I found a light at the end of the tunnel.

It was (is) hard to want and need to spend money on things and not be able to, and not know when I would be able to. But now my goal is to work hard this month and have this parachute to catch me as I take a leap away from L.A. once more and leave my major source of income (background work). One more month of saying “I can’t.” I am determined that it be the last month. I am determined that when I get back to France, I will not have to say “I can’t”, I will have the freedom to spend on my creative pursuits. I will have the money for classes when I return to L.A.

I am determined to get to Paris and go out for a glass of wine on a warm summer night, without a worry in my mind about whether or not I can afford it.

So if you’ve been in this position, how do you deal with not being able to afford more than the basics? How do you manage the stress and budget your time between survival actions and pursuing your dreams?

Is Traveling Worth It?

Is traveling worth it?

Worth what? Worth the environmental impact you’re having by getting on that plane, of course!

I got into a debate recently with a Facebook friend, which inspired me to do a bit of researching and soul-searching. He had given up air travel because of the contribution to climate change, while I on the other hand, have no intention to give up flying.

First I’m going to hit you with a little bit of research.

 

The contribution of civil aircraft-in-flight to global CO2 emissions has been estimated at around 2%.
In attempting to aggregate and quantify the total climate impact of aircraft emissions the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that aviation’s total climate impact is some 2-4 times that of its direct CO2 emissions alone (excluding the potential impact of cirrus cloud enhancement).

The IPCC has estimated that aviation is responsible for around 3.5% of anthropogenic climate change, a figure which includes both CO2 and non-CO2 induced effects.

That’s our first quote from Wikipedia on the environmental impact of aviation. It just leaves me wondering what makes up the other approximately 97%?

Modern jet aircraft are significantly more fuel efficient (and thus emit less CO2 in particular) than 30 years ago.[26] Moreover, manufacturers have forecast and are committed to achieving reductions in both CO2 and NOx emissions with each new generation of design of aircraft and engine.

Some scientists and companies such as GE Aviation and Virgin Fuels are researching biofuel technology for use in jet aircraft.[33] Some aircraft engines, like the Wilksch WAM120 can (being a 2-stroke Diesel engine) run on straight vegetable oil. Also, a number of Lycoming engines run well on ethanol.

I understand that planes are a long term investment, and the one you’re flying on now was probably made 20 years ago. So even if they make progress… it may be a while before we see changes. In the meantime…

 

The emissions from taxiing and take-off of aircraft help make airports some of the largest sources of these pollutants and major public health hazards. For example, Los Angeles Airport is the largest source of NOx, a key cause of the region’s copious smog, in California and the third largest source of carbon monoxide. 4 Logan Airport in Boston, MA produces twice as much benzene as the next largest source in Massachusetts. 5 Scientists have found that even small increases in taxi time at airports in Southern California contribute to significant increases in asthma, respiratory ailments, and heart disease in surrounding communities. 6 Scientists also believe that particulate matter emissions from airplanes, along with ships and trains, contribute to 1,800 early deaths per year in the United Kingdom alone. 7 These health impacts also translate into large economic costs for society.

According to flyingclean.com. Yay, L.A….

And according to a research paper (which I did not read, only someone else’s response to it, and the summary below), planes are the worst form of transportation, unless we’re thinking more long term, then take a look in your garage.

Emissions of short-lived species contribute significantly to the climate impact of transportation. The magnitude of the effects varies over time for each transport mode. This paper compares first the absolute climate impacts of current passenger and freight transportation. Second, the impacts are normalized with the transport work performed and modes are compared. Calculations are performed for the integrated radiative forcing and mean temperature change, for different time horizons and various measures of transport work. An unambiguous ranking of the specific climate impact can be established for freight transportation, with shipping and rail having lowest and light trucks and air transport having highest specific impact for all cases calculated. Passenger travel with rail, coach or two- and three-wheelers has on average the lowest specific climate impact also on short time horizons. Air travel has the highest specific impact on short-term warming, while on long-term warming car travel has an equal or higher impact per passenger-kilometer.

If you have an electric car, maybe you’re excused. If you’re one of the people mentioned in The Guardian’s article here, you’re not excused, and you should stop causing more environmental havoc than a dozen people combined. Thanks.

So… that’s just a sampling of the horrors of aviation…. but what would the world be like if we didn’t fly? First, I have to admit that I see travel very differently than the majority of people. I don’t stay in hotels or resorts (not that I don’t like them), I don’t treat my travel as “vacation,” I don’t do many “touristy” things, and I don’t go only to associate with whomever my travel buddy is and never see the “real” _______. You know from my “about me” section that what I want to do as I travel is connect with creative people around the world to work with, and volunteer time to help the community in some way. It doesn’t always work out, and I try not to beat myself up over it, but I do try. When I travel somewhere, it’s to get to know another way of life, and to get out of my bubble. OK, so is that worth killing the earth? I don’t know. As George Monbiot says in a snippet from his book:

…the people who are most concerned about the inhabitants of other countries are often those who have travelled widely. Much of the global justice movement consists of people – like me – whose politics were forged by their experiences abroad.

Would I really know the extent of the petty crime rings in Paris or Barcelona without having lived there? Would it personally affect me to a point where I would want to do something about it? Would the lack of proper sanitation in parts of Ghana be on my mind had I not spent time there? Would the cheerful dispositions of people with much less than me also be on my mind, urging me towards a life of minimalism (good for me and good for the planet as well)? Would I understand things going on in other parts of the world without really being there and interacting with people? Does it matter if I understand?

It depends on the person, I suppose. I could experience something now that I may not be able to act on for another decade, but at that point I could make a big difference in the lives of others. I don’t know, I can’t predict the future. I can only explore, and learn, and grow, and give back. And for me, the airplane is an indispensable tool. I’ve gone on several Habitat for Humanity trips, but you don’t have to be working full time to be giving back and getting involved, and you also don’t have to expect immediate results from every journey. If you’re becoming a better human being through your travels, that’s a really good thing in and of itself. Because the world is made up of billions of us. And many of us are unconscious, selfish, ignorant people. And traveling can change that about a person.

As Matt says at theculturist.com:

If you haven’t experienced a culture personally, it’s easy to write off an entire country as “impoverished” or “politically unstable,” when each place has its own complex history and social structure. Seeing areas’ hardships, customs, and attitudes can inspire you to give back in a variety of ways.

You don’t have to make your vacation an all-out service trip to gain insight and contribute to improving the local economy. Sometimes, just immersing yourself in the culture and staying open to new experiences is enough to achieve a larger benefit.

…. If you open your eyes and see how things are different outside your home country, you have a better understanding of how the world works, as well as what projects or social causes you might support.

 

I couldn’t say it better myself. So I’m going to stop talking now. lol. Almost.

There are some alternative modes of transportation, depending on where you’re going… cars and trains, and sometimes boats… but not all are practical for those of us who may not have a car or the money to rent on, or don’t have a week to make a train trip to get somewhere, and then a week to get back. Some places are very difficult to get to without a plane. Everyone’s journey is different and requires different considerations. Personally, I love making friends around the world, and I enjoy seeing them more than once in my life. I love to experience different places. As a child I would dream about different lives I could live. I knew I would have to choose one, but I couldn’t. Of course, you always have to choose, and I’m living the life I chose. But I always wonder about the other ones. So the best I can do is sample them. And eventually, find the place I want to settle in, while keeping my worldwide community within reach, and using what I learned along the way to make a difference in whatever way I can. Travel (thanks to airplanes) has helped me grow as a person and start really connecting with the world. I’m not saying nothing should be done about the problem caused by so many airplanes in the air these days, but I think a more important issue is being able to connect people around the globe so that the whole world is our community, not just the tiny patch of grass we were born on.

What are your thoughts on air travel?

(Mark Twain wanted to have the first response)

Mark Twain Says

Happy New Year!

OK, sorry for being gone for so long. Sometimes I’m bad at this blogging thing. I just haven’t had much I want to say lately. I haven’t been traveling, I’ve just been here in Los Angeles trying to get a little work and sell a lot of my things. It’s been slow, but I’ve made a couple hundred dollars from the things I’ve sold so far, and I’m really looking forward to just cutting down on things I can do without. I’ve been decluttering my life (that’s a link to Zenhabits.com’s blog post on decluttering, not my own post) for what seems like a long time now, but I haven’t made it easier on myself by being bi-continental. It’s amazing how even though I’ve slowed down with buying things I won’t use regularly, how much there is to go through. I mean, really, it seems like the bulk of it is paper. Books, notebooks, and crap the IRS makes you save. I really want to get rid of all that stuff. I’ve digitized the notes from some notebooks (except the super full ones) and then tossed them. I’ve shredded masses of credit card bills (I figure if I need them again I can get them online. Maybe not without some difficulty but ugggg I hate all these things in my filing cabinet). The key for me seems to be just to keep combing through, keep letting go, and try not to add more to it.

I’ve been trying to declutter my mind as well. After years of hearing about this book, I finally read The Power of Now, which I’ll probably have to re-read every so often to stay focused. It’s not as if the concept is completely new to me, but my thoughts and fears can easily overwhelm me and working on a practice of staying in “the now” seems pretty beneficial. I’ve been really monitoring my thoughts and feelings more, though I haven’t been under a huge stress test lately to see how I deal with it. Not that I want one… lol. I also read (or rather listened to the audio book on YouTube, but then I found the book at Goodwill) The Four Agreements, which really compliment The Power of Now. Highly recommended, both of them.

What else, what else… well, before I read The Power of Now, I was quite a mess in January. The renters in my mobile home had given their one month notice in the middle of December, leaving me to find someone new over Christmas. I found someone new, but couldn’t raise the rent enough to really truly cover all my expenses (there were some surprise raises in the rent this past year), but nobody was interested in it at a higher price. Then to top it off, I had to hire a cleaning lady to help ready the place ($), a handyman to fix some plumbing issues ($$) and then the electricity had problems ($$$) and the heat went out ($$$$). All in all, I could have flown to the Caribbean on what I spent. I found myself one afternoon dragging things out of the backyard and the shed, trying to get an old TV down to the dumpster, freaking out on someone via text because I couldn’t take the stress anymore, and watching teardrops splash on that stupid TV set after dropping it on my toes. I was already bruised and scratched and dirty and really fed up. Just when I thought I was starting to pull things together, I was left with barely anything in my bank account. All while hoping I’d just get enough background work to help put money back in savings, pay down my credit card, and get a plane ticket back to France. That hasn’t happened yet. And I haven’t worked in 2 weeks. Oh, I still work online, and it’s still squeaking by, but not enough to cover everything. I bet the IRS is going to want anything I’m able to set aside by April, too. I hate them. I’ve been looking into other online jobs, and got a very part time gig as a ticket scalper (which makes me feel a bit guilty, but I need some income, even if it’s deferred and morally questionable…). You know how your car likes to eat up savings every time you have some? So does a mobile home. Ah, my car also wants some now, but I just pay 50¢ every week to put it off….

I went in for the casting director meet-and-greet day at Central Casting this morning, since I wasn’t booked for work, which I’ll probably do more often while I’m here, since it does get your name circulated around the office, which may lead to more work. Cross your fingers. The room was crammed full today (nobody else getting work, either?) so there was really no meet-and-greet, just a Q&A. Now I know who casts the background for Mad Men.

And since I wasn’t working, and have gotten a bit tired of going through papers and preparing for tax time, I took the whole afternoon to work on songwriting. And I wrote a song and a half! I would really like to do this more often. Once I get into the groove I can just keep going for a while. I may be able to work on them again tomorrow after I scalp some tickets early in the day. I love being absorbed in creating…. I never want to stop. I don’t want to go to sleep right now. But I have to wake up at 5AM so I should go to bed or I may hit snooze too many times. I just enjoy writing songs, and then I get excited at the thought of performing them. I’m still a ways away from that though. I need to find the perfect match to play piano for me so I’m not alone on stage fudging things up on the guitar or something. But my songs are getting better, and I think if I really take all these days off I have (pfffffff) and focus on writing, I could have a nice handful to work with, and really do it this year. Maybe my musical couchsurfing tour could be a reality in 2014…. :-)

Oh yeah! I almost forgot. Duh. I started my indiegogo.com campaign for the short documentary film I’m making for the 168 Hour Film Festival this year. Please check it out, and donate or share the campaign. :-)

What Would Jesus Do… Now? (working title)

So that’s it for now, though I promise I’ll try to be better about blogging again. I’ll find something to talk about. ;-)

The Power of Prayer

Wednesday night, I witnessed a man get healing…

But let me back up a little.

The first book I read on prayer and healing was The Power of Divine: A Healer’s Guide – Tapping into the Miracle, back in 2006, but after the death of my almost-step-daughter, thinking about the ability to heal anyone was too painful to consider, since I was sure it wouldn’t bring her back. Oh, I believed in miracles, and believed right up until the funeral that it was still possible for her to experience a miracle. But that didn’t happen.

Years later, I slowly got curious again. Occasionally I would go to a meetup, or a class on energy healing, or something of the sort. Of course I’d read the stories in the Bible of Jesus and his disciples healing people, and knew that he told us we would do greater works than those… but I never saw any in my life. My prayers, my family’s prayers, friend’s prayers… seemed to go unanswered. I knew from a personal experience that energy healing worked, so I started learning about that. But this year I finally got drawn back to the healing power of Jesus. In the past few months I’ve discovered a ton of books on Amazon (I even made a list, here), some of which I either purchased or found as pdfs to read. I decided it was time to meet some people who were healing in Jesus’ name, in person, and learn how to do what they do. Reading is great, but just like learning French… you need practice with other people!

I located a small group of people meeting in L.A. on Thursday nights, through meetup.com, and attended a meeting. After attending one more meeting, I decided to go along with the pastor on a little healing outing, and talk to him about my idea for a short documentary film. We met up on Wednesday night at the Universal City metro station (free parking), along with another girl, and intended to drive into North Hollywood, where he thought perhaps there would be a busy area to set up in. We got a little delayed (like, an hour) because his car battery died and we had to wait for a jump. Once that got resolved, we were on our way.

Unfortunately, the streets of NoHo are not jumping after dark. We finally set up the sign and brought out flyers for the Thursday night meeting outside of the NoHo metro station. Not the greatest place because everyone going there is hoping not to miss their train. One man with crutches and a leg brace hurried past…. that would have been a great one to witness. But one young man with facial piercings and shorts (shorts?! it’s cold!!) stopped to read the sign and accept some healing prayer.

“Got any pain, anything we can pray for?”

“Yeah, my knees, they hurt.”

“Do they hurt right now?”

“Yeah, all the time, every day.”

So Pastor Troy held his hand over the man’s knee, and said a prayer for healing lasting not more than 10 seconds. Then he asked how he felt.

“Umm, the same.”

“Let me do it again.”

He prayed once more, and the man bent his knees to judge the pain.

“Yeah, it’s a little better.”

“Let’s do it again!”

Once more, the pastor prayed over his knees, and this time the man replied that they felt much better.

“Now do something you couldn’t do before.”

“Well,” he said as he bent one leg, then the other, “I couldn’t bend them like this, I could only bend them to here.” He demonstrated the difference.

Success! It may not have been healing broken bones, or blindness, but still, pain is pain. And his was gone.

Shortly after, we decided to call it a night and resolved to set up outside of a mall or a hospital while the sun was still out, next time. And maybe next time…. I’ll lend a hand.

This Is a Test

Ever feel like life is testing you?

Like it’s asking you, “OK, now how positive are you?” as it slaps another problem in your lap.

You have a bit of a freak out, and then tell yourself to breathe and think of the best case scenarios instead of the worst. But really, what’s running through your head is just “f#####¢k…. now?? I was just starting to get things together again.”

In my mind, this is what 2014 looks like:

I will produce another short film, this time take it to Cannes, and other film festivals. I will make a documentary for the 168 Film Festival this year, though probably not attend. I will make a little trip to Hawaii sometime between January-March, and return to Paris in May, for Cannes. I will continue working on my web series idea, but with everything else going on, it probably won’t happen this year. After a few months in Paris, I’ll hit the road/sky/sea and do a little traveling, returning to L.A. by the end of the year.

But this is how 2013 is ending:

Very slow with the background work, only 2-3 days a week and nothing so far this week. I think it’s hiatus already. I’m spending the rest of the year at home, which I figured would give me time to write scripts and music (oh yeah, forgot to put that in there. I want to get songs done this year, and perform while traveling!). My mom ended up in the hospital last week, and is in rehab maybe even through Christmas, which makes me kind of wish I could be around to keep her company or help out or something, but tickets right now (thank you, Christmas….) are at least $800. That and the fact that I can’t leave my pets alone means I’m sticking to my original plan. Then yesterday I get an email from the tenants of the mobile home I own, saying they’re giving their 30 days notice. After almost 2 years. Seriously?! Mid-month, right before Christmas?! You’re kidding…. So now everything else I thought I could focus on takes a backseat to not losing over $1000 next month if I don’t get someone in right away, and over $2000 for February if I still don’t have someone in there. I only make a little over $2000 a month and have nothing in savings except the $300 I just started a savings account with yesterday for the tenants’ deposit refund. I was just starting to relax about the money situation. And between you and me, I don’t even have the money to give them their deposit back, so I’m relying on the next tenant’s deposit for that. It’s been a horrible year, financially.

So. I’m a little overwhelmed and want to hide under something, but I know I can’t. I know every moment now needs to be spent trying to earn money and find new tenants. I don’t know if I’ll get this short film done. The person I was going to write with just bowed out because she has her own financial crisis right now, and even without these tenants leaving and potentially losing me money I don’t have, Cannes is not looking like it’ll happen this year. Maybe next year….

I’m a little tired of this one-thing-after-another pattern. I just wanted some time to settle in, earn a little money, and move forward again.

I know I shouldn’t freak out and sob over something that hasn’t even happened yet, but the stress of knowing what the worst case scenario is and how it affects the rest of my year is kind of a downer. After the last two tenants I had periods of 2 weeks to a month where the place was empty, and I lost a lot of money. This year… I don’t have that money to lose.

But I’m trying to manage my reaction. Instead of “whaaaaayyyyyy?!” I’m trying to breath and think, “OK, it’s just something that needs to be done.” And it means I just have to work extra hard if I want to survive, and also fulfill my creative goals. The more crises I have to deal with in life, the more prepared and calm I will be for future ones, right?

I’ve also been listing some of my things for sale on eBay, and etsy, and in addition to earning a little money (about $200 in the past month, yay!) I’m also clearing out my life a bit. With this extra pressure on for the holidays, it’s forcing me to look even harder at what I own and what I can part with. So that’s a good thing.

But perhaps it’s all a lesson on inner peace… something you keep no matter what’s going on in your life. Something I’m still working on finding…. :-P I don’t believe that God sends hardships, or sickness, or sorrow… but I also haven’t quite found the secret to overflowing blessings and abundance. Perhaps Matthew 6:33 is the secret….

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I’m trying, I’m trying….. :-P

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

I joined a friend’s family dinner right before Thanksgiving and listened to them share some hilarious stories. One story told was about an actress (no name given) who wanted everyone to think she was younger than she really was so she organized a massive 30th birthday party. I don’t know how old she actually was, that wasn’t mentioned (or known?). But from that point on, when she would run into people and they would wonder how long it had been, they would instantly remember her “30th birthday” and do the math from there.

Now that I’m back in L.A. for a semi-long stretch of time, it almost feels like starting over. Except this time, I know something about Hollywood. And life. I don’t have the secrets to success (yet) but I think I’m getting the hang of surviving as an artist.

Although I signed right back up to do extra work again (which has been slow thanks to the holidays), rather than seeing it just as a way of earning money, I also see it as a way to network and make new friends in the business. Last week while working on set in a “strip club” I made a new friend who is now my new writing partner for my next short film (oh, you’ll hear more about this, trust me). I used to be the girl who sat in the corner with a book, and although I do bring books and magazines (and snacks), I have learned the power of networking. And I’m ready to use it.

Although I don’t have a lot of play money at the moment, I am making an effort to get out, so I can meet more people! And have fun, of course. Life is too short to not have fun. Or, as John the AD said last week, “we don’t get paid enough to sit around being miserable.” (and a few sentences later came the phrase, “let’s blow some shit up!”)

Moving back and forth has meant that in both countries, a lot of my things have gotten left in storage. On every visit back to the US I try to get rid of some things, but never really have enough time to deal with it all. I don’t just throw things away. For one, these things still have a monetary value, and I could use that money. Two, I hate knowing that my things will just get buried in a landfill, especially if they’re still useful. I don’t even like buying food in packages because it’s wasteful. But I’ve got clothing and jewelry supplies that other people can still use. So I have to find them new homes. Today I shipped off four items sold on ebay and etsy. Although I have way too many interests to ever really live out of a suitcase or even a car, simplifying life as much as I can does feel good. Having an uncluttered space to live in definitely makes a difference. Or I think it will. I’m not there yet.

If you want something done….

Not even done RIGHT, just done. Do it yourself. For several years I’ve known this was the case. It took me a long time to embrace being a producer. I don’t mind it so much now, although ideas are few and far between. But I have a few for this year! A short film for Cannes, a short documentary for 168, and I still want to do my web series. I’m also working on music. I spent too much time just submitting for other peoples’ projects, auditioning for other people, waiting on other people…. they don’t care about you. You’re the only one who cares about you. So take matters into your own hands! If you’re doing what you love, having fun, creating something awesome (which may not happen the first time, or even the second time, as you’re learning), it’s so much better than just waiting to be handed a role. You’re meeting people, working on your craft, learning new things, and getting out there.

Don’t panic about money. Panicking doesn’t make money come faster. Easier said than done. I have to keep reminding myself about this one. I’ve spent a lot of time on craigslist and listing things on ebay, looking at my bills and my bank account, and neglecting the creative things I should be doing that may not earn money right now. But because I enjoy creating, and these things feed into my actual career, they are investments I can’t afford to not make. Years from now when I wonder why I still suck on guitar and haven’t recorded anything, I can look back and blame all the time I spent worrying about making money, and selling things on ebay for $20. I’m pretty sure I’ll be OK, I’ve got some plans for financial stability, it’s just a very slow process. Besides, when you’re worried about money, it can put you in a foul mood and you’ll have a harder time networking. :-P Just be open to opportunities, and do your best, but don’t just chase money. Chase the things that last, and they’ll lead you to the pot of gold. :-)

I’m so excited about everything I have (tentatively) planned for this coming year. Another short film (oh, it’ll be good), a documentary, some music, some traveling, some surprises. ;-)

So hello, Hollywood. I’m back. Let’s dance.

 

Party like it’s 1999

Do you remember what life was like before cell phones? I got my first cell phone before heading to California in 2000. I don’t remember how often I used it. I mean, it didn’t have internet or any apps. It was a Nokia. I remember buying a pretty pink flowery faceplate for it off of eBay. Oh yeah, that’s the one.

 

Hey, pretty phone!
Hey, pretty phone!

 

Well, a few days before liftoff, I couldn’t seem to find my T-mobile SIM card anywhere. I decided instead of risk leaving it behind and being phoneless, I would call them up and order a new one. A very long phone call and $10 later, they were sending out my new SIM card. Which arrived the day after I did, but nobody was at home to sign for it, so it went back to UPS. And when I tried to pick it up, it wasn’t available until Monday. I landed on Thursday (Halloween), and was phoneless until Monday. My iPhone was basically a glorified notepad. I had a few apps that would still work, like my French flashcards. And I could take pictures. And use it as a flashlight. So for these 4 days I communicated with my friends and family via email, letting them know that “I’m leaving the house in an hour, and then you won’t be able to get in touch with me! Say it now!” I had to take pictures of maps in case I got lost. When I went to get my cat on Saturday, I had both him and the dog in the car, with my gas light blinking because I forgot to get gas, and just prayed “oh PLEASE don’t let me run out of gas now, with animals in the car, in the dark, and no way to call home.” We made it.

It was really interesting being unplugged for the weekend. I’m wondering if it affected the number of times I check email on my phone now, or how often I’ll post photos on Facebook, or any of those things. I’m not sure. And now that I’m relying on my phone for messages about work, I don’t want to repeat the experiment any time soon.

Oh and guess what I found today? Yep. It was in my suitcase all along…. why didn’t I unpack sooner?!