Tuesday, October 30, 2012

i like the feeling

I like the feeling I get after being in the wind all day - that slightly fresh feeling where your cheeks are aching and rosy and all you can think about is cuddling in bed and watching a good movie and maybe drinking some tea. 

I like the feeling of holding a fresh pizza on my lap as we drive home. Like when I was ten and it was a big deal to order out - especially for a chubby ten year old like me who had obscenely curly hair and didn't even know I was chubby and all I could think about was how delicious that pizza was going to taste and it didn't matter about the calories and it didn't matter that I wasn't tiny. All that mattered was I was gonna eat PIZZA and pizza's really one of the greatest things in the whole wide world.

I like the feeling I get when three great songs come on in a row at the same time on the radio. It's like hitting the lottery (a very small lottery) over and over again. My fingers find their way over to the button and my windows go down and the wind whips my hair and the guy in the car next to me shoots me an annoyed glance. When they're really good songs I imagine I'm in a montage of some kind of indie movie and it's hilarious because I know I'm not the only one who does it (YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHEN YOU HEAR A BANJO STRUMMING YOU DON'T PICTURE YOURSELF IN THE COOLEST MOVIE MONTAGE EVER AND YOU'RE RUNNING ALONG A DIRT ROAD BECAUSE YOUR CAR BROKE DOWN AND THE SUN IS SETTING AND IT IS ENTIRELY TOO EPIC ). 

I like the feeling of laughing so hard you almost pee your pants. Coincidentally, I also really like the feeling of saying the word "pee" out loud and making people uncomfortable. It's that feeling (back to the laughter) when you can't stop - when you screw up your eyes and bite down on your tongue and try to think of the most depressing thought and then your shoulders start to quiver and you hear your friend's tiny peals of laughter and then you just lose it. Your throat hurts and your belly aches and the tears are streaming and afterward you feel like you could jump up on the moon.

I like the feeling of holding a baby. It's simple and perfect and tiny. 

I like the feeling after I finish reading a good book. I like feeling like I know the characters and I care about them so much and it's so sad when you finish reading - it's the kind of sad that is both good and hard at the same time. 

I like the feeling of knowing God. Because it's more than a feeling. It's deep within me, it's the constant hum-hum-drum of life's pattern. It's as true inside of me as the air in my lungs. It's the feeling I get when I am so blind-sided by His love that it brings me to my knees. When I realize how worthless everything is without Him. It's that feeling when you see people through the eyes of God - you see they were crafted in a way only something greater could have created. Something not of this world. Something so much bigger. 
I think that feeling is the best kinda feeling there is.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

we are always different

I miss taking the bus from New York City to Philadelphia. I miss watching the cars pass below me as I lean back in my stiff chair and close my eyes. I miss watching New York grow small in the distance, the gray sky an ever-present fixture on the East Coast. I miss opening up a book and knowing that in just two hours, I'll be enveloped in the arms of Home. Of Wawa coffee and my cat cuddling me, of laughing then immediately fighting with my sisters, of the actual smell of autumn. (Fall has a smell and you can't get it out here in fabulous Los Angeles, but it's real and it's over there just 3,000 miles away.)

Sometimes I feel like I'm treating LA badly. Like I'm the terrible boyfriend or girlfriend in the situation. And in so many ways I always feel like I'm cheating on the East Coast. Because truth be told, I love it out here. I love falling asleep on the beach in the middle of the afternoon, the warm sun causing my skin to redden even though Thanksgiving is less than  a month away. I love hopping out of my car when I get to work and seeing the Hollywood sign when I look up. I really promise that I love it. But my heart is constantly torn between the here and now, and the what always was. It's like no matter how much I commit to LA, in the back of my mind I'm always thinking about Philly and NYC. They're always back there, lingering in my mind and tempting me and as a result, LA gets the baggage. 

Why do we glamorize what isn't ours anymore? I think about Philly and New York now and all I can remember is everything good. It's like when you break up with someone and after the initial power-surge of "YES I AM INDEPENDENT AND AWESOME AND AM GOING TO WAIT UNTIL SOMEONE LIKE RYAN GOSLING WILL PURSUE ME!" fizzles out and you start to realize how much it hurts when you break up and all you can think about is all the good times. You forget about the insecurities and anxieties and fights and that underbelly pit of dissatisfaction. You forget about the moments when you were alone and wondering if there was something better out there - you forget it all and you can only focus on how badly you wish you had it back. 

We are always different, no matter where we go. I am noticing this the older I get. I am changing. It is a scary moment when you look back at yourself and you truly realize how much you've changed and sometimes in an especially scary moment you don't necessarily recognize who you've become. What I'm trying to say is I don't think we will ever feel completely like we belong in any place at all. If I thought I belonged in Philly or NYC, I wouldn't have dropped everything and moved out here with literally nothing but a push from God. I wouldn't have left every single person I love and I wouldn't have moved out here and experienced the single most difficult and scary year of my life. 

But now I'm here. And I don't necessarily think this is it. I don't think living here in Los Angeles is the end all be all. I think I'm here for a reason and I love it here and I'm staying here, but at any moment I think God could tell me to go somewhere else. I want to be open to that voice. I want to listen to that voice. 

We can drive ourselves crazy trying to get back to the past or dwelling obsessively on the future. I can't tell you how many moments I'm driving or waiting in line for coffee and it hits me like a brick to the face - "What am I doing?" It hits me every time I see another friend get engaged or married or get into graduate school. Because while all of these people my age are getting Master's degrees and falling in love, I'm still sharing a bedroom. I'm scraping by with a lot of student loans and I'm crawling up the longest ladder. I don't own an ironing board. It's those stupid little facts that get to me and I can't let that happen. The same way all of these people seem to have their life together, I know they struggle too. We all have our battles - we have to know that and accept that and know that no one's life is going to be the same.

I have to remember that. My story is different than my sister's. It's different than my mom's and my best friend's. No one is better, they're just different. 

So at the end of the day, I can listen to a song that reminds me of Philadelphia and I can maybe cry a little and feel homesick because it's not easy. It's not as simple as jumping on a bus and driving for two hours and then being home. So I can sit here and feel the ache of missing the East Coast...but then I can let it go. I can breathe in where I am and I can marvel at how AMAZING it is. I can see the beauty in Los Angeles. I can sit with friends on the beach and feel calm, I can sit in a diner and write, I can run and run until my lungs hurt and the wind is whipping my face and I can feel so small in the huge scale that is everything. 

I always disagree when people say you can be in love with more than one person at the same time. I don't like that thinking, but I think I can maybe understand when I think of it in terms of cities. Because I am so in love with where I came from, but I'm so in love with where I am now. 

This is the song that started it all - VALENCIA, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME ON A SUNDAY NIGHT?

"Philadelphia makes me feel HOME."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 little things i'm grateful for everyday

1. Decaf Coffee

It was a dark, ominous day when my doctor looked me squarely in the eyes and said, "Nina you are not allowed to have any more caffeine."

Which I immediately translanted into, "Nina your life is over and you will now be depressed."

BUT GUESS WHAT DOC YOU CAN'T BRING ME DOWN (NO NO NO NO NO...OOOH--WOO--OOOOH) Sidenote: everyone go listen to ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down" right now because it's simply amazing.

Anyway - listen, I've been drinking coffee since I was 13. In 8th grade I got a job as a shampoo girl at my aunt's hair salon she owned. I washed hair and got tips and even learned how to dye hair and it was seriously the best after-school job ever. I also had to make coffee for the shop and pretty soon I became addicted. So when my doctor told me my caffeine addiction was causing my anxiety attacks and tension headaches and I needed to quit cold turkey, I nearly went into hysterics. Actually, I did. I had a migraine for a week, cried a lot and asked my mom repeatedly if I had to go to the ER. After all of these shenanigins I started to enjoy decaf coffee and now I am deeply grateful for it. There's nothing like a cuppa coffee in the morning - I look forward to it from the minute my eyes open. It reminds me of everything good - it's comforting and cozy and reminds me of gray skies walking along the Hudson in New York and listening to good music and all of my friends and just EVERYTHING GREAT. 

2. The lighting in my bedroom

My room has the prettiest morning light and I am grateful for it. 

3. The kindness of strangers

Everyday a stranger is kind to me. It shouldn't feel rare, but I think it is. I try to pay attention more to when someone I don't know is genuinely nice to me. For instance, the other day on the lot. Was just walking back to the Page office and this guy had a bunch of coffees in a box he'd just gotten from the Coffee Bean. I think he was an assistant or something on a show or maybe he just really liked coffee, I don't know, I'm not here to judge. Anyway I was walking and happened to look over at him and he said something like, "I'm just really thirsty" and I shot back with some witty banter and he was all like, "Hey, you want one?" He told me he had an extra nonfat latte and I could have it if I wanted it. Of course I took it and was just like WHAT PEOPLE ARE SO NICE. So the next time I think something along the lines of "GRRRR the world is mean why can't I just live in the Shire?!?!?!" I'll remember the kindness of strangers and take a chill pill or something. 

4. The cute guy that I pass every morning


5.  Netflix

Oh Netflix. Oh my beautiful, crimson-screened little dumpling. Where do I even start? Are there words that could even begin to describe the sheer depth of my gratitude for you? I don't know if I should be worried that as a 23 year old woman living in one of the best cities in the United States my ideal evening consists of Yogurtland and a night of Netflix. Seriously. In the past year my love of television has grown exponentially. I'd say at this moment in time I love television more than movies. I KNOW HERESY RIGHT? But I think we're in somewhat of a "Golden Age" in TV right now. There are SO many amazing TV shows out there. And there's something special about a television series - you can grow with the characters, watch the writing escalate, you can have your heartstrings pulled season after season. You're not left to wonder 90 minutes later about the unsatisfied pit in your stomach that sometimes comes with movies. Listen, I LOVE movies. But I am GEEKING out over television right now. So thank you Netflix, for sleepless nights and red-rimmed eyes and all-consuming obsessions with my favorite shows out there. As Mr. Darcy would say, "You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love and love and love you."

6. His grace

(I guess this one's technically not so "little" but I still take it for granted too often). 

I mess up every single day. I'm cranky, I complain, I'm impatient, I doubt, I stress, I worry. The list goes on and on. And everyday, EVERY SINGLE DAY, I am forgiven. WHAT? I still can't comprehend this. I think that's part of the reason a lot of people have a hard time believing God can even exist. How can there be a greater power that loves so many sinful, hateful people? But that's crazy to me. That God looks at the least of us and knows our name - it doesn't matter to Him how much money we make, how many connections we have, what kind of car we drive. God looks into our souls and sees the depths of our hearts. WHICH IS UM, TERRIFYING. Because the depth of my heart is probably a little dark, not going to lie. But I can't sit here and just dwell on how terrible of a person I am or why I don't deserve His love. Because that's the thing, we don't deserve it and wahh-lahhhh this precious gift is ours to take. And then when I sit and dwell in His love and I feel it pour over me and I realize how small I am in such a great, big world I realize the point of it all - to become more like Jesus. This radical man who is the Son of God - a perfect man, God in a human incarnate - IT IS MIND BLOWING. I want to be like that. I want to love like Him. I want to care like Him and live in this world to bring His name to glory. 

7. Andrew Garfield's Hair

For the past few months my most-read blog has continued to be An Open Letter to Andrew Garfield's Hair. And hey, I still dig it.

8. Amy Winehouse

Lately I've been OBSESSING over her music. Ugh. Ugh. UGH!!!! Back to Black is seriously...wait there's no words. She's amazing. Simply. My car's been in the shop so I've been walking everywhere and listening to her on Pandora and I can't even stop because her voice, it is so rich and she's just perfect. Do your ears a favor and listen to her and they will love you forever. They'll be all like, "We looveeeee you, rest of body!" And you'll be like, "Oh ears. I love ya, ya big lug."

9. My job

I am employed, PRAISE DA LAWD. And I get to walk around a movie studio all day and that's not so bad AT ALL. I complain too much about stuff but I want to stop complaining about my job because I really am just very blessed.

10. My family and friends

Sure this may be a little predictable but it's the truth. Whenever I get upset or stressed I need to sit back and remember there are people in this world who love me. Even though I'm cray-cray, they love me and I love them and every day I want to be a better daughter, sister and friend. 


Saturday, October 20, 2012

how to be poor in LA (part I)

There is a certain group of people living in Los Angeles here with me - I like to think of us as comrades, chumps, soldiers in the trench on the eve of a spectacular moment in history. We are the members of a not-so-elite club known as the Poor In Debt College Graduates Who Do Not Have Parents Paying Their Rent. Otherwise known as, PIDCGWDNHPPTR. In this case I think the full name rolls off the tongue a little better.

Hey, don't be upset those of you out there who don't have to worry about rent or loans because you either A.) had the brilliance to go to a state school or B.) have rich parents who love you and want you to live a comfortable life. You do you. But this post is for all the cool cats out there who can't afford guacamole at Chipotle because it means sacrificing a week of laundry. For all the hopeful wanderers with an extra roommate in the living room because it just makes rent SO cheap. For all those who'd rather walk 3 miles to work then take a bus because your 10 year old car broke down and you don't want to pay for the already horrendous LA public transit. THIS IS FOR YOU.

Listen, this isn't a pity post. I'm not an IDIOT. Yeah, I'm talking to you reader who just rolled your eyes and glared at me thinking, "COME ON NINA! You drink STARBUCKS. You have a roof over your head. You live in LOS ANGELES. Boo-freaking-who."

I get you eye-roller. I am VERY grateful I can drink coffee and I can buy groceries and I even had a car TO break down. I see it everyday here - the homeless, the real poor, the people of Los Angeles that don't have anything and you sure as hell bet it makes me stop in my whirling day of anxietyovermycareer and stressaboutmyweight and heyit'dbereallynicetomeetagoodguyandhavehimaskmeouttodinner. I know it, I feel it, and I'm not blind to the blatant cry that is this broken city.

But hey, I also know that for all those like me out there, trying to support myself while cursing my student loans and wondering why NYU DIDN'T FREAKING SAY IN FRESHMAN ORIENTATION, "HEY! Yeah, we're a GREAT school, but guess what WIDE-EYED FRESHMAN? NO ONE GIVES A SHIT IN THE REAL WORLD AND YOU'LL BE PAYING BACK YOUR LOANS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, MWHA HA HA HA HA" And then NYU turns into Voldemort and I cry -- for all those like me, it'd be nice to have had some advice before [foolishly] making the romanticized move out west. So here we go, from me to you - a 20-something's guide for being poor in Los Angeles.

1. Little samples are your best friend

I'm talking everything. From those lovely little white cups at Yogurtland to perfume samples - these are treasures. TREASURES, do you understand? Don't have enough money to buy your favorite perfume? Easy solution. Simply walk in the department store and spray yourself silly until everyone around you starts coughing and they're too busy wondering what that strange putrid conglomeration of scents is to see you sashaying out of the store in a cloud of yummy-nose-goodness. DONE.

For those of you like me with a severe Yogurtland addiction, those little white sample cups are honest-to-God tear worthy. Whenever I get "the hunger" and I need my froyo fix I always want to spend at least 4$ on some plain tart. (if you don't get plain tart then I simply don't trust you). But I can't spend that much, okay? So what do I do. I take a few of those cups and just sample as much as I want, and by the time I'm ready to actually purchase, I don't want nearly as much. DONE.

2. Getting really good at the "my stomach hurts excuse"

Everyone in LA (and probably every city) really REALLY likes "going out for drinks." This is something I learned immediately after graduating and making friends outside of college. It's like, a thing I guess. AN EXPENSIVE THING I GUESS, AM I RIGHT? AM I RIGHT? My favorite thing to do when I go out and can't drop 30$ on flaming margaritas (no matter how much I freaking WANT TO) is to perfect my grimace face and say something like, "I'm gonna stick with Sprite, my stomach has just been hurting all afternoon." No one argues with this statement because in reality, a hurt stomach can potentially lead to you vomming everywhere. And no one - I repeat NO ONE - likes vom. No one rolls their eyes and  tells you to just get something tasty! Leave me alone to my sprite which is only a few dollars.

Same with restaurants. Whenever I want to go out to dinner with friends but don't necessarily want to spend 15 dollhairs on an entree, I'll get an appetizer and say, "My stomach's just been hurting, want to keep it light." And then sneak to my car and stuff my face full of Ritz Crackers. Because well all know Ritz Crackers are FREAKING. DELICIOUS.

3. Thrift stores, while nowadays "trendy," are actually smart for shopping

I know it's popular nowadays and especially in Los Angeles to wear clothes that your grandma probably wears and rocks better than you do (let's be honest). But thrift stores are cheap. And if you go to one in an affluent neighborhood, you can get really nice clothes for really cheap. So see that Goodwill in Beverly Hills? AMAZEBALLS. That Crossroads on Santa Monica? My favorite. I got a Free People shirt there for 8 dollars. EIGHT DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!JFKJSAKLF;JDASKLFJKLAS;JFKL;ADJSFKL;DJSL So yeah, girls who smell AMAZING and look like you probably sleep in a canopied bed and journal and drink cappuccinos, I can be in that club too with my Free People shirt! BOO YA. 

4. Red lipstick and stale bagels 

A lot of my life here is spent in a chaotic frenzy of running around erratically from one place to another and changing in Starbucks bathrooms. In a city where you're trying to make a career, you are generally busy. Your days are spent running from class to work to show to coffee date. Especially if your trying to have a career in the particular industry I am which by the general public is known as "comedy" but to me actually translates to "running from improv to see an improv show to writing (probably a new webseries that you SWEAR hasn't been done before) along with about a ZILLION OTHER 20-SOMETHINGS in a trendy coffee shop that ISN'T starbucks but secretly you just wish it was because their coffee is better anyway." This is a pretty tough field to crack into. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is I'm always a hot mess. Less of hot and more of just a mess. So how do I pull myself together and make people think I actually DID shower this morning instead of rolling out of bed and hair-spraying the shit out of my frizzy hair? 

Red lipstick. Va-va-vooom. Red lipstick automatically makes you seem as if you have your shit together. Pair this baby up with a stale bagel, because that's all you can afford. Don't have time to grab a baby greens-feta cheese-cranberry walnut salad from Tender Greens because frankly, WHO CAN SPEND 20 DOLLARS ON AN EFFING SALAD? Well, did you know that it costs precisely no more than DOLLAR to buy a stale, crusty old bagel? You didn't know that?!!! WHAT?!?!? Hey, sure it doesn't taste like you just did Yoga, but it tastes like SOMETHING and oh, did I mention, it's only a DOLLAR? Right. 

* * * 

These are just a few ways that I live "poor" in LA. Until next time my little doe-eyed Hollywood hopefuls. 

In the words of a generic 1920s big-time movie star that probably actually never uttered this statement but for some reason at work we all just love saying it anyway,

"Ya gonna be in the pictahs! Ya big lug!" 

So live frugally and onward!!! 

google image for "big lug." IT WOULD BE KITTTYY!!! IKNEWWWWITTTTT

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

i've missed this (it'sbeenalongwhile)

It's been like, one helluva fortnight since I've posted in this blog. But, I emmerrrgeeee!!!!!! From the depths of my Doctor Who addiction, from the stress of a broken-down car, a broken-down phone, sheer exhaustion and laziness.


Don't get too excited because I know all of you are. 

There's so much to talk about, so much to express and sometimes I feel like someone in that brain of mine just flipped off a switch and no words make it to my fingers and make it to my keyboard. Nothing. So it's time to sit down and just write. 


What am I learning?

I'm learning a shit ton of stuff thanks to the Big Man up there in the Heavens. God, You are so good. Like cray-cray good.

What am I learning?

I'm learning to have peace and be calm in the little hiccups of life - because that reflects how I'm going to react to the BIG  hiccups of life. So what my car broke down? So what I'm a little stressed with student loans? So what I'm not as skinny as I want to be? So whattttttt. It's terribly easy to get bogged down with the anxieties and worries we daily face. But if I sit back on my heels and I think about my life, I can only offer up praise, you know? Like, genuine-freaking-praise. 

I want to be a woman of Faith.
Meek in spirit - but Lord knows that does NOT mean quiet. Can I ever be quiet? NO. Meek in the sense that I don't FREAK THE HELL OUT every time something doesn't go my way. I wanna be the kind of woman that says to God, "Nothing can change what is between me and You." And I want to believe that statement.

I want to be thankful. 

Truthfully, September was a month of unthankfulness and I hate that. I'm turning a new leaf with October - SEE WHAT I DID THERE CUZ IT'S AUTUMN AND ALL??? It's true - I want to walk around the lot at Paramount and be amazed I get to work there. I want to stand in awe of the fact that a year ago I would have never imagined such an opportunity. I want to pray for the people that work on that lot - I want to pray that God is present in this industry. I want to believe God has me there for a reason.

Around this time is when I ache for home - for the changing of leaves, the taste of a Chai Latte, walking with old friends around the sweet streets of Swarthmore. I always wonder if LA is the place for me. I don't know. I don't think anywhere is the place for any of us because in the end we are meant for Heaven. So I think it's okay for me to be homesick, but I don't want to dwell on that. Because right here, in this moment, I'm in Los Angeles and I'm trusting that God has something up that freakin' awesome sleeve of His.

So goodbye Cranky September. You were tough. I messed up a lot. But October is new and wonderful and I am so thankful I wake up everyday to a Savior that forgives&loves&His mercies are new everyday. Lord knows (literally) that I cling to this.