Rockin’ On

I don’t really know what to write about. There are a lot of things I wish I could tell you, but unfortunately I can’t. Instead, I will write about hiking and confidence. Apparently, I doknow what to write about.

My grandmother once told me that confidence is built, which makes sense to me in the same way that trust is built.

Yesterday I went on a hike with my cousin who said rather nonchalantly that, “there would be some rock scrambling.” In his defense, I did ask for a challenge, but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I walked into that canyon like it was going to be so easy, and I came back out feeling much more aware of the term “hiking,” which as it turns out is notjust a fancy word for “walking.” I had some fatigue/heat stroke because Las Vegas is so hot it almost seems less natural that we don’tpass out.

At the end of the canyon there was this beautiful wall where normally ice melt flows from. Because I don’t know if you know this, but Las Vegas is hot. It’s a desert. It’s the kind of place that makes you wonder how people survived before air conditioning.

Here are some of the thoughts I had while hiking and while chatting with my cousin along the way:

1. If I had been that guy from 127 hours, I would have died. No way could I cut my arm off.
2. I would die in the wilderness because I would eat every plant and something would be poisonous.
3. If ever lost in the desert, I would complain so much. I would also not want to share my water or food with anyone.
4. Wow, I’m a very selfish human being.

Given all of my ludicrous thoughts, I also thought a lot about the mountains around us. They were so beautiful, but also so terrifying. I don’t understand those songs about “moving mountains” because that’s the thing – you can’tmove mountains. You can only move yourself.

I remember laying on a rock in the canyon thinking, “if I really was stuck out here, I wouldn’t think this was beautiful anymore. I would think it’s horrifying. I would feel too small, and too weak, and not able too get back out.” I would resent the mountains for just standing there, not helping me. I would be in pain, frustrated, angry – and the mountains would still be immovable.

I think that’s how we start to feel when we lose our confidence. Small. Insignificant. Stuck in a canyon. Like the world is too big, and the beautiful parts aren’t beautiful enough to wash out the despair.

When I was feeling like I was going to pass out and also being dramatic about it, I kept focusing on whatever rock was in front of me. One rock to the next. And whenever I could, I’d follow John’s feet exactly so I wouldn’t have to think about where I’d have to step. It never worked for very long though because I inevitably made a different choice.

If we take it one rock at a time, confidence will come. But even more than that, sometimes we have to ignore the mountains. They seem to have it so easy don’t they? They get to stand tall and be beautiful and unshakeable, and we have to crawl through them and try to feel good about it. There are always going to be people who are better than you and me at something – not everything…
maybe everything – but most likely just a few things. But just because you’re stuck in their shadow for a time doesn’t mean you always will be.

The sun will move and suddenly you’ll be standing in the light. And you’ll realize it wasn’t really about them. It was you, continuing to move, that got you to the light.

I have a lot more hiking metaphors because now that I’ve hiked all of one time, I’m basically a professional. Don’t worry, I’ll save them for a rocky day.

Get it? Rock on friend.

Familiar Places

Southern California. My favorite place in the world. Not only is it stunning with sunshine all year round, but it’s also familiar to me and it’s so nice to know a place so well. I like knowing how to get places, knowing lots of people, and being 20 minutes from the beach.

There is something interesting about being home. It feels like I never left and at the same time it feels like I was gone for a lifetime. Because everything around me is so comfortable and familiar, but yet I’ve changed. For the better mostly, I hope.

There are certain places I remember doing a lot of thinking growing up. The beach is a good example. I remember thinking about life and having lots of questions based on the circumstances I was facing. And now that I’ve gone back to those same places, I’m comforted by the fact that a few things have been answered, and also I still love to get lost in my thoughts at the beach (some things never change).

It’s just… Strange and kind of beautiful how we recall memories and ideas based places we have been and returned to. I’ve remembered things that I haven’t thought about in such a long time. It’s been more fun than I can describe.

I hope everyone has been enjoying their summer as much as I have.

Fictional Characters

I spend a lot, and I mean a lot of time with people who came from another person’s imagination. Just look at my blog title – I’m clearly spending my life looking for a made up magic school. This past weekend I spent 48 hours making a short film. The first 8 were spent making up the characters and discussing what said characters would be like, how they would make decisions, who they would be deep down. I love them, the characters we made. They feel real to me, as real as the people who made them up.

I’m about to start the last book of a series I have been reading for six years. I began it as a junior in high school in the stacks of the bookstore I worked at for a couple of years. I don’t want to start it because I already know I will cry and I already know I won’t want it to end. I haven’t watched the last episode of the most recent season of Parks and Rec. because it’s my most favorite show and it’s possible that was it’s last season. I’m not ready to let it go. Listen, I get attached and I’m not afraid to admit it. I distinctly remember hiding in my room for an entire weekend in college in order to finish the last season of Buffy. I turned my phone off, and not once felt like I was wasting time.

I dragged my Dad out of bed at 11:45pm every time a Harry Potter book came out so that I could get it at the Midnight Release. I think he was just as excited as I was for the last book to come out, but for very different reasons. I stayed up for 24 hours straight in order to finish it, and I remember thinking that all over the world people were doing the same. I cried when Dumbledore died in the 6th book – sobbed actually – and I was so shocked by Fred’s death that I pretended it didn’t happen. Upon reading the last Harry Potter book again, I weeped for him. I called my friends for confirmation, and said, “Wait, Fred died? Are you sure?” I hadn’t known, and yet I must have since I’d already read the book.

I finished the book series I mentioned above (I wrote this post over a few days), and it broke my heart into a million little pieces and then put it back together again. My good friend kept texting me saying, “Just keep going. Push through to the end.” We love those characters very much.

Not only do I spend a lot of time getting to know these imaginary people, I have chosen to spend my life making them come to life. I want more than anything to make films that have characters that impact people’s hearts in the way mine has been.

It shocks me to think about how deeply we love fictional people, and how much we can miss them.

I think the only people who are more interesting than the made up fictional characters in my life are the non-fictional ones. For example, I have a wonderful friend who is more than willing to spend hours discussing our favorite characters and I think she is much better than all of them. My family is just as entertaining and lovable as the families I spend time reading about.

Life is hard. It’s always changing, and I know in my life it feels like people always slip in and out of it simply because life is happening. Someone moves away (mostly me) or work gets busy or… a number of other things. I wish I could hold on to all of the people I love and keep them close, but I can’t and so I turn to the people who can remain constant. The made up ones.

I think we “push through the end,” as my friend advised me to do, so that we can be reminded of the happy endings. That way when we are going through life and hit some bumps, or maybe mountains, we can run back to our fictional friends and remind ourselves, “If they did it, so can I.”

Roads To Somewhere

One of the arguments against Christianity has to do with predestination. If God already knows whether or not I am going to heaven or hell, and there is nothing I can do to change it…well…why bother? A good friend of mine once explained it like this: Hold up the palm of your hand. Each of your fingers represents a path you can take, and God can see where you’ll end up at the end of each of those paths. Is one path the best choice? Perhaps. Perhaps not. There are moments in life when you have to make choices, but your options seem to weigh the same. God can see all the infinite possibilities that are attainable for just your singular lifetime. And yes, He know what you will choose in the end anyway, but that does not mean your choice doesn’t have consequence or significance. It does. That was one of God’s gifts to us: choice.

Another person explained it to me like this: A rat is going through a maze, and obviously it can only see what is in front of it. It arbitrarily chooses to turn right or left or go back or straight ahead. God, being outside of time and the maze gets a birds eye view. He can see the path we are going to take even before we do simply because he has a better vantage point.

In the last month I have had the pleasure of hearing some really incredibly talented people speak – business and creatives alike. They’ve each been inspiring in their own way, and they’ve talked about their own journeys in the entertainment industry. What I’ve loved most by far is hearing their passion for storytelling (no matter what facet of the industry they happen to fall under), and their determination to explain what you have to do to break into the industry.

I have this tendency to listen to people who have “made it” and think, “I need to do that! I need to do it just like they did or I won’t get where I’d like to be!” I also have a tendency to live just one step ahead of myself – always thinking about what will be next. I don’t consider either of these qualities good or bad on any given day, but they definitely have effected my life in great and terrible ways. I try not to live one step ahead of myself unless it’s really time to do so, and I try to take everything other people say with a grain of salt.

There are so many quotes about roads or paths or journeys. May favorites are some of the most popular including: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

My reason for all of these different strains of thought stems from the idea that there isn’t one right way. Predestination doesn’t make us adhere to one path, and just because one person really believes the only way to get somewhere is a backwards loop-da-loop doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself in a similar position by going in a zig-zag. This comforts me and it brings me great joy. I’ve learned to be excited by unknown territory and lately it feels like every step could result in quicksand.


One of the things I found myself thinking about today is glamour, but not the fashion kind. Rather, I was thinking about the way glamour is described by some of the beautiful voices of young adult fiction as a kind of fantastical screen that makes everything look and seem absolutely perfect. Glamour creates the illusion that there’s nothing bad happening, only laugher and happiness and beauty. And now that I’ve written those last two sentences, it occurred to me that it’s similar in fashion too.

In life, grass always seems greener on the other side. That is, until you get to the other side – at which point you stand and turn around and wonder if maybe the other side actually was better.

I hate the facade that glamour creates. I love the magic and the fantasy, but I don’t like when the glamour hides truth and hinders honesty. I think there is so much to be learned in the messy details and the unveiling of the curtain – pulling it back and really getting to know what’s happening behind it. That’s exciting, heart racing, messy, fascinating stuff. There’s nothing better.

Yet often, we let ourselves be swept away by the glamour of something else even whilst we are in the pursuit of understanding the mystery of whatever it is we are presently doing. I think it’s our choice to be disappointed or excited by what is behind the curtain and it’s our choice to become fully entrenched in where we are or to wish we could be some place else.

One last thing: perhaps what is revealed once the ideal is peeled away is not what you expected. I know that I’ve spent many days wondering about that. There have been no times in my life where things turned out the way I thought the way would. Never have I experienced something and come out the other side thinking, “yeah, that’s exactly how I pictured that happening.” And yet, I still have an imagination that gets away from me and I hope and I wish that certain things would happen in a very specific way. Even though intellectually I know they won’t. I try to stop myself of dreaming* up the way my life will unfold because ultimately whatever I come up with will pale in comparison to what will actually happen.

But that’s good. Think about it. The unexpected is so much more fun.

*I dream big dreams. I just try not to picture what exactly will happen once/if those dreams come true.

Looking for Hogwarts

-“Looking For Hogwarts, huh? I quit that when I was 12.”
-“Yeah, well it’s a metaphor.”
-“For finding a better place. Of course, I understand.”
-“I think of it as a more magical place too, but yes. Better.”

I started this blog two years ago so that I could document my time abroad. I have never taken the time to go back and read my posts because the memories that matter still feel as fresh as the day they happened.* I remember drinking tea on portabello road, standing on top of the Eiffel Tower, hanging out with the kindest Swedish kids for an afternoon, David Hersey calling me at 10pm, going to Belgium by bus (or the worst and best decision I’ve ever made), and finding a friend I’ll have forever. It was a huge period of growth for me. A lot of magic was in the air.

I felt the love and support of my family and friends as I ventured abroad, and today I feel that same support. That is why it is so frustrating that I will never be able to explain my experience enough. I want to be able to tell those who have helped me so much exactly how they have helped me, but so much of life is unexplainable. I think that’s one of the reasons why the film industry is such a bubble, an exclusive little club.

It’s an unexplainable industry. It still doesn’t make sense on paper why one movie is a massive hit and another that was thought to be a hit, actually flops. So much of filmmaking is listening to your gut and hoping beyond hope that it’s right and it will pay off. It’s an industry that spends it’s days trying to create art that will feel as human as possible to it’s audience, and yet those in it tend to forget their humanity while helping another try to find theirs.

A major producer told me to always remember that nobody knows what they are doing. I frequently tell myself that every person is just doing the best that they personally can, and that fits into that too. Certainly, it is clear that nobody knows what they are doing, but most people are living up to the best they can be.

I wonder if this post is making any sense. Please excuse my ramblings, I am running on empty.

What I want to say is this: In Cannes, I was treated horribly and I was treated like a princess. I met infinitely more kind and passionate people than I did power tripping people. I found the nice ones and I had great conversations with them. We are each our own story and I don’t want to have my book be about how people treated me poorly and I let them because I want to always have the strength to search for the better. I don’t want to stop looking for Hogwarts now or ever.

I know that in the next year I’ll have big decisions to make as a blooming full time adult. Where will I work? Who will I live with? Who will I work with? I know things will fall into place as they tend to, but I want it to be clear that I want to take risks and I want to try. I just want to try to make things a little better for the people I work with and for myself. If I can find the right people, we will all be capable of so much more together than we would be apart. I hope that you’ll join me in my adventure to find filmmakers I connect with. It’s bound to be exciting.

Also, my writing was crap. It’s only slightly better now. Stick with me, it can only go up from here.

“That’s The Industry.”

I’ve always loved being an artist. I’ve never been the typical kind like a painter or a musician even though I have the utmost respect for those with such talents. I’m even willing to admit that I’ve been envious of my friends who are capable of seeing a visual in their head and so easily letting it flow onto paper. I think that would be so incredibly helpful when I’m trying to articulate the beautiful pictures in my head.

Even so, I am an artist. I’ve been an actress, a dancer, a singer and more importantly a lighting designer and a producer. I have ideas and I am willing to work hard to bring them to life. I am only twenty two, and I’ve had five internships. Please understand I am not saying that to be pompous or arrogant, but to share with you that even though I am very young, I have seen a lot of different kinds of companies. I realize now just how lucky I have been.

Two days ago, I made coffee for probably one hundred people. Me and my little espresso machine have grown very close over the course of my internship in Cannes, which has been primarily an incredible experience. I’ve seen wonderful films, and have spent my days off learning what the international film market place is like, how it works, and who is in it. I wish I could describe how lucky I feel, how joyful I am to be here, and how excited I am to see where this industry takes me because I am sure I have no idea where I will wind up. That’s nerve-wracking and exhilarating – the industry is constantly changing and evolving in order to tell stories better and to bring people the entertainment content that they want at any given moment in time. I will have to grow and change with it or I will be left behind.

That being said, I know there will always be people in my life who will not let me become jaded. I’ve always known there were people in the world who treated others poorly. I know the age old adage, “If you want to see the character of a man, look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” It’s a lovely quote. In the past week it has become increasingly more apparent that that quote has never applied to me personally. I have never been in a position to need to judge a man’s character when I have personally been their inferior. Actually, of course I have, but never consciously because as I’ve said I’ve been very lucky to have worked for such kind people who have easily gained my unfailing loyalty and respect. I’ve seen other people treat their inferiors poorly, and I have drawn conclusions about people in those situations, but this past week I have come to understand what it’s like to feel invisible. Let me just say, I’m not here typing this blog post to talk bad about anyone. There are certain things in life I will never understand.

I will never understand why people put others down or why they choose not to learn a person’s name and use it when they see them everyday. I will never understand why men think it’s okay to treat women like they are objects or why some women use that treatment to their advantage. I will never understand why one human being won’t look another human being in the eye when they are asking them to do something. I’ll never understand someone leaving their trash on the counter when there is a trash can next to the counter because it feels like some kind of horrible power play. I’m a sensitive person so each one of these things hurts my heart in a special way, and makes me hope that somehow I can do things differently. Here is what I don’t understand most of all: I wonder how these people get to this place in their own heart where they feel okay with themselves for treating other people in such a way. I hurt for those people too because I wonder what happened to them to make them so hardened to the needs and feelings of the people around them. I feel sad for them.

Two days ago, a man came into the office I am working in. He came back to the kitchen and asked where the trash can was, and I swear to you my face lit up like a Christmas Tree. I made him coffee and he thanked me, looked me in the eye, and seemed genuinely grateful for my service. I introduced myself and he told me about his film. We talked for twenty minutes while he waited to meet with one of our sales representatives. He shook my hand, took my card, and said he looked forward to meeting me. I choose to believe that there are lots more people like him, and if there are only a few then I will find them.

Here’s the thing: a few people have said to me in the past couple of days that “That’s The Industry.” What I’ve been told, essentially, is that people treat each other horribly, and that’s that. But that’s not okay, and that’s not true because I’ve met more good people than bad. I’ve been told to get out of this industry as well. I ask. “What’s your one piece of advice for a young filmmaker?” Four times I have heard, “get out.” But you know what? That’s not even remotely fair. From one artist to another, they are the one person is not allowed to say that. They don’t get to tell me to get out because they made the same choice I am currently making and they don’t know who I am. If nothing else, I’ve learned this week that I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was. I am sensitive to how other people are, but I have also stood up for myself again and again and that’s why I know I don’t need to “get out,” but I will be treating people kindly regardless of how I am treated myself.