I’ve officially been living in Los Angeles for 6 months; I’m halfway through the 12-month period I intended to be here for. This is now the longest I’ve been away from home. Home as in; the place I grew up.
At the end of my my first three months in LA, everything was going to shit and my future was uncertain. Throughout my time here, I’ve had to accept that the future is never certain. At this point in the year, I honestly don’t know where in the world I’ll be in six months time. Right now, it’s safe to say that where I want to be is here in the U.S but there’s factors that may change that, and I’m open to being affected by them. Anyway, the uncertainty I was facing 3 months ago was more tangible than that. I was unclear about my job future, was scraping by financially and I’d just had my bike stolen (my primary mode of transportation) which inspired me to spontaneously move out of the room I was renting. I didn’t know where I’d be moving to but the bike robbery was the last straw. The bedroom I was living in was stuffy and windowless and the apartment had no common area so the only place I could hang out was in my den/bedroom. Thank god for the Californian sun! A few days before I moved out, my key to get in wasn’t working and I realised there was a perfect hand shaped hole in the window on the door so I used that to get in and out of the place - not the most secure living situation. Another day shortly after, I came home and the ceiling had collapsed in one of the other rooms. I think it was safe to say that my time in Van Buren Pl was coming to an organic close.
All these obstacles happened to occur at the convenient time of when my parents were here to visit. They were renting a house in Culver City a few blocks from where I was living so I was able to move out of my place and temporarily into an AirBnB with them. A few days after I wrote my blog post, an Australian guy reached out to me. We had some friends in common from back home and he read my post where I described losing my bike. He was moving back to Australia in the coming days so he generously gave his bicycle to me. He even met me after work one day to pass it onto me. People are the best!
My family was renting a car while they were here so they were able to drive me to view a few apartments. I went all over LA looking for a place and I swear I replied to hundreds of ads on CraigsList before I got any traction. My place in Culver City never felt like home. I had to rush into moving in because I was starting my internship soon and I was in a new city and I just wanted somewhere to sleep while I got comfortable with the commute to work. A lot of the things that drew me to LA were in Hollywood but I was getting to a place where I’d get home from work and be too lazy to commute across town for fun. I wanted to move to West Hollywood. I wasn’t entirely sure how much longer I’d be working in Culver City but I did know I would always be doing comedy. Hollywood to Culver City would be too far of a commute without a car but West Hollywood was doable. Plus, bonus points to WeHo for being super gay. After replying to countless ads and inspecting a bunch of places, I finally found a perfect place. It’s an apartment in a perfect pocket of West Hollywood with two awesome roommates. It has hardwood floors, a beautiful common area and … a window! My room was unfurnished so I got to make it my home and I adore it. It’s furnished mostly with things I attained for free or cheap (intern life) and a desk that I put together with my own bare hands. I love it. I love that I live in West Hollywood. I live in West Hollywood. West Hollywood is my neighborhood. I live in between Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
My family was here for a month and it was wonderful and they helped me so much. When they were here, I found out that a few months after I left Melbourne, my dog Toby had been put down. He was an old pup - I got him when I was about 8 years old. I remember cuddling him before I left home and feeling like it would be the last time. My Dad bought over a sweet sympathy card from the vet and I hung it up on my wall. When my family flew back home, it was sad to say goodbye but I’ll see them soon I’m sure. I speak to them as much as I can and I feel like being so far away from them, I’ve developed a specific appreciation for them I’d not have understood had I stayed home.
Naturally, by living in West Hollywood, my rent and living expenses increased while my income did not. I’m constantly conflicted between trying to build a sustainable life here by trying to save money/live within my means in the interest of the future or saying yes to every opportunity and experience as if I’m only going to be here a year. I’m trying to find a good medium. I visited San Francisco one weekend which was amazing. I definitely want to go back sometime - it’s an amazing city with amazing people and amazing things happening always. I also went to Palm Springs for Dinah Shore which was weird and wonderful. I also went to a music festival in between LA and SF. My friend invited me along after she worked on the build team. Interestingly, most of these experiences actually didn’t cost me anything. People are the best!
As I was approaching the end of my internship, I wasn’t feeling super confident about my future at the company I was working for. The commute was also getting to me. When I was looking for a place I convinced myself that if it took less than an hour to bike to my office, I'd be fine. The place I moved into was exactly an hour according to google maps. I biked 7 miles to get to work and then 7 miles to get home for two days before surrendering to the bus. My commute became a short bike ride, a bus and a slightly longer bike ride. Not the worst but also not the best. I made an executive decision to start job hunting.
The whole job-hunting process was super emotionally taxing. I asked a lot of people for help and advice and I complained a lot about my stresses (sorry friends. But also: thank you). LA is awful and it’s amazing. You get to apply for dream jobs when you live in LA. You might not get them, but you can try. I felt pretty confident at first because I had a pretty strong idea of what I wanted and I felt like I had the skills and drive to get there. I ended up applying for probably over 100 jobs. I went to offices all around LA for interviews in the cases where I was lucky enough to not be ignored.
Between improv and interning full time and commuting around LA on a bike, it was hard to find time to dedicate to finding a job. Even though I was taking the bus, I was still on my bike for about 8 miles per day and biking in LA is truly terrifying. The adrenaline rush I’d experience every morning and evening was exhausting! I took a leap of faith and dropped my hours down to three days a week. I needed time to think and focus. For a while I had to stop doing improv. I couldn’t justify paying for classes or training so I had to leave the team I was on. I also felt like I needed a break from it. In Melbourne, your hobby is the thing you do for fun. In LA, your hobby is the thing you want to get famous for. I never want to take improv that seriously. It’s so silly. I love it and it has afforded me a lot of happiness and helped my career in many ways but I got to a point where it stopped being fun. And that’s my rule for knowing when it’s time to step back.
For a while, it felt like nothing was going my way. I feel anxious when I’m not doing anything and I felt like I wasn’t doing anything. I was interning and living in LA but I wasn’t moving forward. I had a pretty bad day one day when I had a few interviews back to back around LA and none of them turned out the way I would have liked. There’s a fine line between paying your dues to get where you want to be and being taken advantage of and I never want to submit myself to the latter. I reached a point of frustration where I realised I just had to chill out. I was putting way too much pressure on myself and I was doing everything I could be doing to move forward. I made a pact with myself to apply for at least ten jobs a day and research companies in my spare time. I was putting in time and I needed to have faith that it would pay off.
Since I couldn’t pay for improv classes anymore, I started performing in indie venues around LA. I started a two-person team with my friend John who I met through the summer intensive at iO West last year. We are called ‘Fruit Juice Cocktail’ and we’ve been performing on Saturday nights and it’s a lot of fun. I also started training with a group of amazing women I met through my 201 UCB class earlier in the year. Their names are Hannah, Annie, Jessica, Katy, Caitlin, Nikita, Elise and Jennifer and we found an amazing coach named Jamie. They’re all so unique and I adore and admire them all individually and I love our chemistry as a team. They are truly wonderful and they inspire me so much. We’re training once a week and trying to perform as much as possible. We’re called ‘Big Sheila’. They make me so happy and I feel so lucky to have found them. These people reminded me that improv is about friendship and being around people who you care about and who make you happy. That’s where the fun comes from.
I found inspiration to start writing more and one day after work, my friend Nichi and I wanted to shoot a video. I had a vague idea for a sketch and then I recorded it as a song and we shot a video. I edited it later that night and posted it online and now it lives on this awesome website: WhoHaHa. It's so silly and I'm so weird but making content and having people like it was a super cool and validating thing to happen to me.
I found a company I really wanted to work for and they had an opening for a video producer/editor. I applied online but I didn’t hear anything back. I let go for a bit and carried on with my search. It took a lot of rejection for me to realise I had to step up and adopt American-style confidence. I called the office of the company I wanted to work for a few times before they took notice of me. They interviewed me a few weeks later and then again a few weeks after that and I started my position last Monday. I’m on a 90-day trial and I’ve only been there two weeks but I can totally see myself being there for a while. The office is in Culver City but it’s way closer than my last job and I no longer have to bike. It’s just a bus ride away. The office is huge and there’s so many energetic, creative and smart people around me. I love it and I don’t really know anyone super well yet but I know I want to be friends with them all. It’s overwhelming being the new kid in such a big office but everyone is so lovely and cool and I’m sure the social anxiety will go away with time. I still can’t believe I get to wake up in the morning and go to a job that I want to be at. I feel so lucky. Pain and endurance pays off!
People in LA always ask you why you moved here. Is your LA dream to be an Actor? Writer? Director? I never really had a concrete answer because there were so many little things that contributed to my desire to live here rather than having one, big pipe dream. Before I came here, I had no idea where I’d be right now but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I feel like I’m dreaming. Now, when people ask me what my LA dream is, I feel like the answer is that I’m living it. Everything has come up for me in the last few weeks and I never want to forget this feeling. I do still miss Melbourne. There’s a lot of people in that city who I love very much and think about all the time. I felt lonely for a long time but I feel like I’ve finally found my people and my place here in LA. I have an amazing job and amazing people around me. I had an epiphany last week when I was filling out paperwork at my new job. It’s such a little thing but I got to the section where it asked for an emergency contact and this time around, I had one. I’m home.