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Recently, I’ve started hiking several times a week and watching what I eat. I’m not lifting weights or running (I made a feeble attempt and hurt my grandpa knees), or even really dieting, I’m just suddenly incredibly conscious of what I’m putting into my body and how I’m treating it. It could be my age (I look incredibly well preserved for 46), but it could also be that after several years of living in Los Angeles and working in the entertainment industry, I’m just trying to regain some control.
That’s all anyone living here wants: some control! Almost every aspect of the professional lives of actors, writers, directors, musicians, and comedians (I guess I need some physicist friends, huh?) is out of their immediate control. So much of this business is waiting. You can write the funniest pilot of all time, but the lag time between finishing it and finding out if someone powerful likes it/wants to buy it can be an eternity. You can nail an audition, but then you have to kill your callback, and sometimes your second callback, and even then you have to bite your nails and hope the producers like you enough not to fire you. You can submit to direct a film, sign on the dotted line, complete a shot list, and pick out your favorite baseball cap (directors wear baseball caps a lot, right? I’m not just thinking of Ron Howard? I’m probably just thinking of Ron Howard), and THEN find out that financing fell through and the whole thing’s been put on hold. It’s totally out of your hands, and it happens all the time!
I was up for a really crazy writing job last year. I didn’t even know if I wanted it, but it paid so much money that all I could think about was my amazing new life and my soon to be unlimited pizza budget. The hours were weird, my sleep schedule would be completely disrupted, and the nature of the job seemed vague and only tangentially related to comedy. But, I submitted, and once I heard that I was a “favorite,” I started to really want it BAD. I came in for an interview, completed some sample work, was told I nailed it and everyone loved me, and then… nothing. A string of emails followed, which were answered each time with “still figuring some things out,” and, “just hammering out some details, but everything’s still great!” And then, several weeks later, I was told that the job was canceled. Not that I didn’t get it, that it didn’t actually exist. At all. They had decided to go with… no one. The position had vanished like so many zeroes in so many checking accounts.
So what did I do in those weeks between applying and finding out? A lot of noodle eating and hand wringing. But since then, I’ve started realizing that if I can’t control my professional life, I can attempt to go inward and control my personal life. I can set goals for myself and strive to meet them. I can make checklists and physically mark off the little boxes, and I can exercise. And I’m now realizing that a LOT of people do this out here. I don’t think I’d ever heard the terms “cleanse,” “juice fast,” “raw diet,” or “cacao” before moving to this place. I’d heard of yoga as a punch line in movies about LA (LA Story was probably the first, actually), but never as something people I actually knew engaged in. All these pretty, neurotic weirdos are just grasping at straws for a way to feel like they’re not completely powerless to an industry that could chew them up and spit them out just as easily as it could shoot them to the top.
So, that’s why your cousin who lives in Van Nuys and edits The Amazing Race goes to a Reiki healer. That’s why your neighbor’s brother, the guy who dances with a kangaroo in that beer commercial, is on a steady diet of kelp and placenta. That’s why anyone who lives here ever engages in lively, spirited conversations about kale chips. Seriously. I’ve heard many. So, does this mean that Los Angeles is making everyone insane, doomed to live a life of therapy sessions and repeating phrases like, “is this fair trade?” every time we open our mouths in exchange for the possibility of some huge opportunity we’ll have to wait months for? The answer, I guess, is… namaste.
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Mini-Beirut came right up to Codi and I and started playing music. It was perfect until they demanded a tip, and even then it was still pretty perfect.