Thursday, September 25, 2014

Process of Elimination

As I continue the process of growing up (slowly, but surely), I keep contemplating what I want to do with the rest of my life.  There are so many different things I want to accomplish!  I want to continue working as a writer, but I also want to continue working with people, you know?  I think I can find some balance in there somewhere, and that's the exhausting process I'm going through right now. 

That process being the process of elimination.  

I think of it like this:

I am 28. 

I have worked at four companies. (Five, if you include Build-a-Bear Workshop when I was 17... but I don't.) 

The longest I worked at a company was 8 years. 

The least amount of time I worked at a company was 2 years. (Three months, if you include Build-a-Bear Workshop when I was 17... but I don't.) 

I have been the following roles: Sales Associate, Box Office Attendant, Box Office Manager, Day Manager, Front of House Manager, Personnel Director, Bartender, Training Center Administrator, Office Manager, HR Associate, HR Coordinator, Actor, Writer, Teacher, Director and Executive Assistant. 

That's a whole lot of jobs that I've either decided I don't want to do ever again... or that I would like to continue doing in the future.  

I read a blog post over at The Clueless Girl's Guide that said jobs we don't love are ways of learning what you don't want to do, which is just as valuable as learning what you do want to do.  And damn, have I learned what I do and don't want to do.  

The pretty awesome thing is that most of those jobs I really loved.  Or at least I loved enough about them to stay there as long as I did / learned something pretty valuable from them.  I learned skills that I otherwise wouldn't have learned had I not held that job.  Being an assistant, for example, has helped me hone in on a lot of organization, communication and proactive skills that I didn't have, or tucked away so long ago that I forgot about them.  Do I want to do it forever?  No.  But I'm grateful that I did it so I could cross it off my list, in a way.  Now I know that while I have done it and done it well,  it's not the career path for me.  

I loved writing, performing and teaching.  Obviously, it's the greatest job I've ever had and one that I would like to keep doing. But it wasn't always AWESOME.  There were students I didn't "reach" or some that were just downright terrible people.  There were audiences that made me cringe, cast mates that were difficult to work with (even me), nights where I couldn't think of a single thing to write, etc.  All jobs come with pros and cons.  All jobs come with valuable lessons that teach us what to pursue and what to definitely not pursue.   

This year may not have been full of as much creativity as the past couple of years for me. But it's all a part of the process!  I have definitely used this year to eliminate a few job positions from my future and to help me narrow down what I would LOVE to keep doing.  


Friday, September 12, 2014

One Shade of Grey

I have been going grey for a while now.  

I don't actually know how long exactly, but what I do know is that I stopped dying my hair over a year ago, so I have been rocking the au natural top of hair with the very dry and extremely unnatural bottom of hair.  Since then, I noticed little friends at the top of my head.  Little, spiky grey friends.  

At first, I liked it.  I thought that I would pull it off like Stacy London from What Not To Wear and I'd be that cool, hip girl who didn't even have to DYE her hair grey (which is all the rage)... it would just happen naturally.   I'd walk down the street and people would say, "Hey, look at that natural hipster."  

But now, my friends, I'm frustrated.  I don't want to dye my hair.  I can't afford to dye my hair.  BUT. the texture of the grey hair is course and rough and it STICKS UP AND OUT LIKE WEEDS IN A BEAUTIFUL FIELD OF GRASS.  (Yes, I referred to the rest of my hair as A BEAUTIFUL FIELD OF GRASS.)  They're noticeable, distracting and extremely unattractive.  Every time I see groups of people whispering, I know that they're whispering about my grey hair.  Every time I get called into a meeting by my boss, I know that they're going to fire me because of my grey hair.  

These grey hairs are really causing a lot of stress in my life, obviously.  

So, what does one do?  Start dying their hair again?  Let them grow and just own it?  Should I revert back to my days as a 20-year-old and go full clown red again?  Shave my head - Britney style? 

From here on out, you can refer to me as Mr. Sheffield. 

Life at 28 is pretty damn rough.  Pretty.  Damn.  Rough.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Life Lately: Good in the Hood

that is Bo. my friend is dog sitting him.
he sat next to me at work. 

Excited about: A LOT.  A bunch of my friends are coming to visit at the end of September and then a few of us are going to Vegas during the first weekend of October to see Britney Spears and celebrate Marty's birthday (I guess.)  I'm so excited to take a ROAD TRIP (albeit a small one) and spend a few nights in Vegas now that I live on the same coast as it.  I'm excited to not go to an airport and take a long flight.  I took too many of those this summer.  

Oh, also, Gilmore Girls is coming to Netflix Instant on October 1st.  So, I don't plan on leaving my apartment for all of October, obviously.  

Working on:  A super awesome project with my friend Kelsey that we will be launching in October.  I'm SO excited about it.  It has literally put a skip in my step.  

Thinking about:  What to do with the rest of my life, outside of my creative goals.  I've had a few different options come up this week and I'm constantly debating/contemplating/figuring shit out.  This whole "thinking about what direction to take my life in" thing is kind of the worst, but it's also pretty okay, kinda.  

Also, I'm constantly thinking about the amount of miles I am putting on my car.  Leasing might just be the most stressful thing in the world.  

Reading: "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach.  A friend at work gave it to me to read almost a month ago and I'm just getting around to it... it's interesting.  It's funny and dark and something I would have NEVER picked up on a book shelf if I were browsing the local shelves of Amazon Marketplace.  

Watching: The Simpsons.  Any time it's on.  I watched it a little bit when I was younger, but was never FULLY into it.  Ever since FXX had a marathon and now that they play it all the time, it's all I want to watch.  That and Bob's Burgers every night.  Every single night.  No, seriously, Bob's Burgers is what I fall asleep to every single night.  

Loving: My cat.  She's perfect.  And Bo, the dog.  I want a Goldendoodle.

So, yeah.  I guess you could say that life is good in the hood.  The "hood" being West Hollywood.  Which isn't very hood at all.  But hey, isn't all of Los Angeles kind of "the hood"?  No?  OK.  See ya! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dating in Los Angeles

Ninety nine times out of a hundred, I'm too broke to spend any money outside of the clearance bread section at Ralph's.  But sometimes, when I have money, I like to leave my apartment, not turn my stove on and go on a "date."  

Los Angeles is good because it has a ton of options... because it's a giant monster city. And Happy Hours are everywhere... because people drive here and it makes sense to drink as much - and as cheap - as possible in two hours and then drive to your destination!  But hey, I'm not complaining because there are pretty great ones in walking distance... even though, OF COURSE I drive there anyway.  

Last night was one of the ninety nine times out of a hundred that I was broke, but our friends Matt and Jen took us out on a date because we're amazing dog sitters who remember to feed their dog, water their cats and whisper to their plants.  We walked down Sunset and had $3 beers during happy hour and $2 tacos during Taco Tuesdays.   Then we went upstairs to an independent movie theatre and watched a movie for $5 each.  That is something I would have paid for if I was paying for that night out!   

We saw Life of Crime and it was really great.  I loved all the characters and I loved that it took place in the 70's.  Isla Fischer is really hot, huh?  Yeah, she is.  Oh, so is Mos Def!  But also, the story was good.  Weird good.  

Date nights are great nights and fun breaks during a work week.  It makes my life feel a little more exciting for a few hours and it makes my work week go by quicker, thus making me feel less wanting-to-die-y.   Here are some tips for your upcoming date nights: 

- Start the night off right... by downing a Bud Lite Mangorita. 
- Wear new shoes, forgetting that new shoes need breaking in so they'll hurt your feet. 
- Don't bother changing your outfit after work, even though you should, because eh - who are you trying to impress anyway? 
- Never spend over $20 on ANYONE, no matter how much you like their appearance. 
- Stay in your neighborhood so you don't have to drive... because your car is leased and you really shouldn't be racking on those miles.  
- Worry about your cat while you're out.  What if she fell through the window?  What if she is hungry and out of food?  What if she popped the air mattress that is blown up for absolutely no reason? 
- Walk in, pass out... with one last Bud Lite Mangorita in your hand. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How To Live Life

One of the most monumental (to me) books that I have ever read is "Live from New York" - an oral history of Saturday Night Live.  It was released twelve years ago and I read it during the summer of 2005.  I had just moved out of my college dorm and had time to myself and a whole summer ahead of me and as soon as I finished that book, I enrolled in improv classes.  It was just one of those things.  

As corny as it sounds, it totally changed my life.  It was the beginning of my comedy life.  It jumpstarted the whole damn thing.  And now, I'm just as much of a comedy nerd.  I spend every morning and evening listening to Marc Maron's WTF Podcast and reading as many books and articles that I can on the people I love and admire most.  It's pretty silly and great.  

The author released an update to the book this week - and I am SO excited.  It was released so long ago and a lot has happened in the past twelve years.  Vulture did an interview with the author that can be read here.  And you can just go ahead and leave it to me to find deeper life meaning in a pretty straightforward answer: 

Have you been let into the room during that time between dress and show?
 I have been in that room. I have.

What is it like?
It's interesting because it goes to the nature of who Lorne is, and the type of leader he is.  It's a place for advocacy and it's a place for passion. And you have to make your case,       and you have to make it quick. Because remember, time's wasting.

For whatever reason (or very obvious reasons), that response totally shook me.  

Granted, he's referring to an extremely stressful two hours or so in between dress rehearsal and the live show on Saturday nights.  If things didn't work at dress, it's fight or flight.  Defend your piece or abandon your piece - or leave it to Lorne, the director/producer/boss, to make the RIGHT decision for that week's show.  

However, I took it to mean something much more. (I'm an over-thinker!) It's no secret that the past year has been a strange one for old Barrett.  I moved away, left the road I had been traveling down for years in search of whatever the fuck was up next.  It's hard to make time for everything you want to do and it's hard to even FIGURE OUT what you want to do.  But reading that made me realize that our lives are a place for advocacy and passion.  It's a place for fighting for what you want and loving (and sometimes hating) but at the VERY least feeling creatively fulfilled with what we're doing. 

There's no TIME to be unhappy or scared - there is no place in the timeline of our life for that.  We should spend every minute fighting for ourselves and finding our passion and just mother-fucking-going-for-it.  (Unless, of course, your passion is something terrible - like murdering people and stealing their skin.  DO NOT DO THAT.) 

Maybe I'm crazy.  And maybe finding that meaning in that quote was a REAL stretch.  But whatever, this is my blog.  It's MY place to write what's at the top of my mind - and the top of my mind is an awkward pool of self-loathing mixed with an inspirational, can-do attitude.  My mind sucks!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Things I'm Good At

Every morning, I wake up.  Before I put on my make-up… I shit on myself for something.  Doesn’t everyone?  Typically, the first thought of my day is a negative one and what a horrible realization that is – right?  It’s usually “Ugh, I overslept” or “Ugh, I don’t want to go to work” or “Ugh, I forgot to do that” or “Ugh, my hair is a disgusting pile of bird shit and I don’t have enough time, nor the energy, to wash it.” 

And that’s just the FIRST thought of the day.  There are tons of negative thoughts that come later! 

But I had several cups of coffee today and while I was working on a Powerpoint Presentation (that’s right, a POWERPOINT PRESENTATION) I realized that there are some things I’m kind of decent at doing!

For one, I’m pretty good at knowing when I need a haircut.  Sure, that seems like something that is obvious to everyone… but I really know when it’s time for a haircut.  My hair gets all greasy and dry and dead and I’m like, “Hey, self, we can’t do this anymore!” and I call and make an appointment.  I’m pretty good at going every 6-8 weeks.  That’s IMPRESSIVE.  And expensive!

I have a good long-term memory!  I remember my childhood pretty vividly – and remember yours too.  (My short-term memory is shit, but we’re focusing on the positive.)

I can waste time, or be rude, on my phone like nobody’s business.  Face to face conversation?  No thank you!  It’s phone time.

I’m good at driving – and also, having panic attacks while driving when people get too close to me or just really piss me off. 

I can lie on a yoga mat and fold my body over so that my feet touch behind my head.  It’s not necessarily a yoga move, but it’s pretty good for being lazy and stretching your back.

I feed my cat EVERY day.  Unless I forget. 

When I need to extend a gel manicure, I just cut my nails.  Sure, my cuticle area still looks like absolute SHIT, but hey, at least they're MOSTLY covered with nail polish.  Right?  

I can write my name over and over and over and over on a blank piece of paper when I'm bored.  Sometimes, in cursive!  

And I don't want to brag, but my teeth are pretty much unusable due to HOW GREAT I AM AT GRINDING MY TEETH. 

So, I ask you, take a second today to focus on what you do well - as opposed to all the areas you could use improvement!  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

And now, Joan Rivers.

While it was only a few weeks ago that I was here feeling sad about Robin Williams, now I'm back feeling sad about Joan Rivers.  

Joan Rivers was a major comedian.  She was successful for decades.  She created her own brand and style of comedy and remained consistent the entire way through.  She never apologized for who she was, for what she said, for the things she did.  If you haven't seen her documentary, you should.  It's pretty damn great and showcases one of the hardest working women in Hollywood.  

She's amazing. 

And yes, it's true that she opened doors and broke ground for women in comedy.  She totally changed the game! But it's really sad to me that she was still such a joke to a lot of people.  A joke that she was in on, of course - she made fun of her plastic surgeries just as much - if not more than - everyone else. 

I hate when it takes death for people to recognize the talent and scope of a person's career.  I guess it's better than nothing, but it's just sad for the person.  Robin Williams died and the world exploded because it was like a piece of ourselves - and our childhoods - died with him.  
With Joan Rivers, it's different.  For me, it just proves how nothing can last forever.  I honestly never expected to see Joan Rivers die, which is admittedly crazy, but she was such a staple.  An ageless piece of culture that would surpass us all.  

I'm thankful for her.  I know she didn't enjoy being told that she was this icon for female comedians, but it's just the damn truth.  Her sense of humor is not for everyone - and she didn't give a shit.  She didn't try to be something she wasn't.  She didn't try to change her act to fit some sort of mold or expectation.  She didn't knock down Johnny Carson's door to make him "take her back" in a way.  She was the queen of shrugging it all off and saying, "That's life, this is me, let's move on."  

I envy her.  And I hope one day I have the confidence that she did.  I'm sad that she's gone, but I'm super happy that she has moved into LEGEND territory.  Everyone knows her and future generations will know her for years to come.  What a woman.


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