One time on Miracle Mile…

When I first moved to LA, post-quitting my nanny job and before I started at Conde, I babysat for an assortment of families all around the LA area.

One of these families, based in West Hollywood/Miracle Mile area had two children that I took to the Auto Museum one day. I drove their car and parked on Wilshire around 2:30 PM. We had a pretty good time drawing pictures and drinking milkshakes, until it occurred to me that I never checked the parking perimeters. For some reason I knew at 4PM something changed. It was 4:20. In a full panic, I dragged both kids down the street to their parents car that was literally moments away from being put onto the bed of a tow truck.

I was so distraught, I immediately started sobbing. Here I was without a job, living in a city that I knew nothing about, begging a tow truck driver to please, please, PLEASE do not load this car also full knowing that regardless, I was going to get a whopping ticket, which probably wouldn’t even been covered by the all-day sitting job that was just supposed to give me enough money to buy groceries to just LIVE.

Somehow, by the grace of God, I got the tow truck guy to leave the car, instead gifting me with a 200 dollar ticket. Thanks bro. It was pretty devastating, not to mention the kids had seen the whole thing, which meant I knew I better tell the parents ASAP because you knew if they heard about it from the kids first, I was going to look like a straight mental case.

So I confessed the whole situation as soon as I got back to their place and told them, they could just consider today free and I would just pay the ticket instead. I saw the pity in their eyes, and immediately felt extremely pathetic and sad for myself. Idiot. You should have checked that sign! Why didn’t you check the damn parking sign?

I was about to leave when the Dad handed me an envelope.

“I remember when I first moved here”, he said. “I lived on the floor for 3 weeks and spent more than a couple nights in my car. Here’s the ticket cost and a little extra. Don’t give up on the reason you’re here… You’ll figure this out.”

Whenever I’m discouraged, I remember that moment. The extreme gratitude I felt. The look on his face. Feeling hopeless and being hopeful. I remember how far I’ve come from the girl who was begging some tow truck driver to please have mercy on me just this once in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard. The kindness of that father despite my carelessness.

The memory of what it’s like to be a hungry 22-year-old living on a dream.

His words echo in my head:

“Don’t give up on the reason you’re here. You’ll figure this out.”

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dream on

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while but honestly, I’ve never really had the words to say to do it justice.

I’ve gone on long runs with sentences flying through my head like mini planets, orbiting in rhythm, and me trying to make sense of them but getting to the end, chugging some water, and my point disappearing into the gravity of what’s next on my daily agenda. I’ve been swirling the cereal bowl of my brain looking for sense in the mealy remains but not really finding anything but nonsensical leftovers.

Up until this moment, it’s always been abstract ingredients. But today, despite the sad circumstances and also because of them, I’m ready to offer up some food for thought.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written before this, then you know I’m a big believer in following your arrow. Going after what makes you happy, at all costs, no matter what. Doing that one thing that wakes you up in the morning and makes you lose sleep thinking about at night. Drumming solo, walking alone, a living breathing 80’s pop ballad in search of your own purpose. Dream on, brotha.

I’m an advocate for living the dream. For starting at the bottom, and arriving. To getting there. That’s why we’re alive right??

Now it’s there I hesitate. It’s after you reach there. It’s after you reach the world’s version of success.

And as time goes on, I’m beginning to think I don’t know what success looks like anymore. The dream seems to send itself straight into debt and rehab more often than not and I’m just running around mostly wondering if being happy and being successful are even the same thing.

If accomplishing your dreams means you lose all sense of self along the way, is that really success at all?

Very simply.. your dreams, for what price?

Several years ago, I caught Bieber Fever. Yes. True. I believed in the kid in purple, who started on the steps of a church playing guitar for anyone who’d listen. I believed in his earnest passion, his dedication to his talent. I believed he deserved to win big. To make it. To get there. I believed in Justin Bieber mostly because I saw myself in him. That desire to win, that steadfast sincere belief that someday he’d get there.

And he did.

But the cute, approachable, passionate Justin Bieber of 5 years ago, is long gone. In his place is a snotty, rude, entitled creation of a machine that we designed. However, as predicted, Bieber is extremely successful. At just 20 years old, his net worth is 130 Million. He also has the highest selling single in US history and the world record for three No.1 US and UK albums before the age of 18.

Several months ago, Phillip Seymour Hoffman died in his apartment of an accidental drug overdose. The actor was found dead on his bathroom floor after mixing heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamines. Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Awards four times over the course of his life and won an Oscar for best actor in 2006. His estimated worth was around 35 million upon his death.

And finally, yesterday, one of the most talented and by all accounts, “successful” comic geniuses of our time committed suicide alone in his home. Robin Williams battled severe depression, addiction, and several divorces before he ended his life. He was 63.

Three different men. All wildly successful by societal standards; all troubled souls on an individual scale.

You can argue success doesn’t always lead to above. It can be humble and respectful, understated and modest.

But truthfully, who gets to the top of their mountain and whispers, well guys I made it. Time to go back down now and fulfill a quiet life on a suburban cul-de-sac with my neighbor Jedediah who likes to grill things and race his moped while his wife is shopping at Kohls.

Hello! If social media taught me anything, it’s that people don’t even need to be actually successful to pretend they have all their shit together. Screw keeping up with the Jones, we are the Jones! Keep up with us bitches!

So it’s not shocking when you do actually “make it” that keeping up appearances, and appearing as if you have it all together becomes ten-fold. You’re only as cool, as rich, as nonchalant, as funny, as successful as you appear to be. You are a facade of your own self.

And that’s the basis of my struggle here. To understand the very foundation of what success means to me. Seeing those lives play out once one achieves those dreams. How it often leads to cruelty, addiction, divorce, bankruptcy, loneliness, and so cold you can see your own breath unhappiness. How you make it to the top of your mountain and yell and yell and yell for people to look at what you’ve accomplished but then you realize, no one’s even listening anymore. And so you tumble-down.

And often, you don’t even care at that point if anyone’s going to stop you.

I don’t know if there is an answer here. I don’t know if it’s possible to pin point a time when the tables turn and your own prosperity pivots on you. All I know is that it’s heart-breaking to see what success does to many people. How it changes them. How we’ve come to expect drug overdoses, suicides, rehab stints, and messy divorces as a side-effect of achieving and living the dream.

Honestly, very simply, it makes me wonder what exactly I’m chasing and why on earth I’m even chasing it.

I’m running down a dream, and I hope when I get there, I respect and revere the path I took to get to the top. That every once in a while, I stop, reevaluate and remember why I do what I do.

That life is precious, fragile, and above all, short.

Don’t waste it.

We’re sorry we lost you to the dream, Mr. Williams. You will be dearly missed.

Snap(ped) chat

Dear Snapchat,

That’s it.

We’re done. Finished. Caput. El FIN.

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And you want to know why?

Because I’m sick of this one-sided relationship. I’m sick of feeling used. Because I often find myself making little video/picture stories about my daily food decisions and my occasional day-drinking fiestas for no reason whatsoever. Because I constantly get mind-numbing concert seizure videos from my friends that for the record, NO ONE WATCHES. Because I would be lying if I didn’t say that I didn’t enjoy sending #DefinitelyASelfie pics out to all my cute little fun friends using your easy-to-use button functions.

But in all honesty? It’s over, Snapchat. Because you are ruining lives. And most importantly, you are ruining my life.

I feel like most of our grandparents wrote love letters. Long epic ballads about how much they cared for one another. These days I’m lucky if some guy I like sends me a 4-second picture of the beer he’s drinking.

And you know what the worst part of that is? I GET EXCITED ABOUT SAID PICTURE. Omg guys, so-and-so sent me a picture of what he was eating! Wait. Did he post that picture to his snap story? No!? Ahhhh omg, omg fist-pump/high-five, #PersonalSnap! That means that before he even took a bite of his meal he thought, hmmm I should send Meg a picture of what I am eating. Swoon. I’m LITERALLY like so incredibly touched at such a thoughtful display of poignant flirtation. This is truly the start of our screenshot-saved digital romantic love story memory box that I can like, #TBT when I’m feeling nostalgic. I’ll look back at our relationship and go: Honey, remember when you first sent me that 5-second video of that giraffe at the zoo? That’s when I knew you really cared.

I’m joking, but seriously guys. You know this isn’t far from the truth. When did this lack of communication become the main source of communication between all of us? When did this become second nature? Are you even reading this because it’s longer than 10 seconds?

It occurred to me just how lame this process has become as I became deeply offended yesterday that a friend of mine looked at my snapchat story and didn’t answer my text. Um, I’m sorry anonymous friend but I saw that you saw my 4-second picture of my delicious sushi dinner but you couldn’t take the time to write me a 4-second response to my text inviting you to said dinner? Did you really not have 8 seconds to spare?

Furthermore, are you really so freaking textually impaired that you can take the time to watch the entirety of my Saturday wine night but not answer where you’re going to lunch today? That story was a nonsensical intoxicated 65-second montage of a plate of cheese! I would know you asshole… I was there! Well anonymous snapchat friend. You have hurt my feelings. This will last much longer than 10 seconds I assure you.

And so this what you have reduced me to Snapchat. A neurotic, babbling, pathetic food photog who gets mad when my friends don’t respond to my texts but then watch my pointless snap stories and also get excited when guys send me 10 second videos of the John Legend concert they are at which FOR THE RECORD I can’t even hear, because your iPhone isn’t a professional sound system, you unoriginal, tone-deaf dick.

Sadly, I find that like most of rants about pop culture and the moral flaws that come with such, I am both appalled at the problem at hand, as well as being the problem itself.

And so today, for once, I’m not participating. I’m taking a stand! You and your snaps can all go to 24-hour expiration hell and I’m going to look at my shoes and enjoy my meal. Neither of which you will get to see. So there.

…I’ll probably be back tomorrow.

#SelfieYouLater,

Meg

uncle

This one goes out to the people who never quit. photo 3

The people who stick it out. Who stay around. Day after week after month after year. The dejected soldiers of routine, they trudge on through a grey world, where they are bound like prisoners of their own resilience.

And yet, you never hear the freaking end of their ongoing, monotonous, self-absorbed victimized battle. They play their perseverance to their insipidly toneless cause like a never-ending song on the most out of tune piano ever. Look what I’m putting up with! Listen to what I’ve been going through! Look at me! Feel bad for me!

And I’m unfortunately about to lay some real life truths down right now. For the love of all that is various social media cries for attention, please stop complaining and make a freaking move already. Stop venting about a situation that you have the ability to change. Quit. Just quit! Quit whatever you are doing that is making you so very unhappy that you feel the need to fill each space that you are in with your incredibly palpable negative attitude.

You want to know why I can say this stuff? Because by all definitions, I am a quitter. I couldn’t take the heat. I couldn’t weather the storm. I couldn’t handle the pressure. Whatever cliche you want to staple to my forehead, go the hell ahead. Seriously. Label me a quitter. A loser. A drop-out. A failure. Nothing anyone can say about me is anything worse than what I’ve already at one point labeled myself.

But here’s the difference between you and me. While you’re out weathering the storm, fighting the good fight, keep on keeping on-ing, I’m actually enjoying my life whereas you’re just surviving yours. I’m over the labels that you create your very identity by. Because guess what? I could quit a hundred more times and no one’s really going to be sitting at home thinking, man that Meg, she just doesn’t have her shit together. And you want to know why? Because we’re all way too self-absorbed in our own quittings and winnings and self-actualizations to even consider how many wrong turns someone else is really taking.

One day, I hope you wake up and make your happiness your number one concern. Follow what gives you joy. Because if you do that, and stop worrying about fullfilling some societal unspoken code to follow through at some shit job you hate that’s essentially a dead-end gig full of people who could care less what your next career move is, maybe you won’t be such a kill-joy to the people who surround you who DO want you to succeed. Maybe you’ll actually be, I don’t know, happy! What a novel idea.

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So go on, say what you want about me. But I get shit done in my own way. I do what’s best for me. I know myself. I know when to keep fighting and when it’s time to move on.

I’m always moving. I’m always thinking. I’m planning and plotting and considering my next step and then you know what? I’m taking it. If I don’t like something, I stop doing it. If I’m good at it, I pursue it. But you won’t see me sitting around complaining and moaning about something I have the power to change. You’re going to see me going after it, or leaving it behind. And if that makes me a quitter, so be it.

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To all the people who never quit, this one’s for you.

m

gimme the beat.

Friends, lovers, strangers, random men who are reading this from Tinder–

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(Not to be confused with the hacked app)

Every single day, I have about 300 bizarre ideas pop into my head. Most I keep to myself. Some are far-fetched entrepreneurial plans that I know I will never put into action. Many are songs. Some are stories. Often, it’s an outfit or a food that I desire. (Just now even, I left this post to make myself some pickle toast. Which is toast with pickles on top. No, I am not pregnant or high. Yes, it IS delicious!)

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I have book ideas, and television show plots, and intricate plans to win the affections of Evan Peters from American Horror Story (who I know is blonde and that’s UNNATURAL and feminine or something but I’m into it, so buzz off), little lists to read certain books, sad nostalgic letters I write to previous friends, sudden reminders to call so-and-so back, grandeur pitches to editorial heads of magazines and online publications showcasing my writing wit and lengthy, limitless train of ideas. All aboard the Maggie Express, we’re going nowhere, and we’re going fast. 

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Sadly, most of my ideas, never see screen. They are passing shooting stars in the galaxy of my sleepy brain and on the verge of awakening, I quite often lose them to consciousness. It is a sad reality of having a head like a 25-cent grocery store sticker machine. Full of one-dimensional, glittery viscid cursive typography that never get to see the light of day. 

However. Sometimes! I have an idea and it sticks. Actually, it’s more like it bounces. With rhythm. I can tell a really good idea by its bounce. I’ll forget it for a second. A day. A week. But it keeps coming back. To the beat. That beat in my head.

 

 Today marks year 3 of LeftoversFromFriday. It is still the longest relationship I’ve ever had. I read back through old entries, reading 22-year-old Meg, gives me a certain clarity that I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in order to reach better ones. I read her hope that we can keep college alive, by living each day as if it’s a glory day. And I appreciate her near-sighted cliche adorable idealism, but 3 years later, I can confirm she is missing the big idea here. 

And that is that, you really can do everything you want to do. You really can ‘live the dream’. The problem is nailing that dream down. Keeping the sticker stuck. Permanently inking that idea to your forearm and looking at it everyday. Bouncing it again and again off your head until you have a rhythm you never get sick of and never want to stop playing. And eventually putting whatever it is onto some paper (paper of course, being whatever canvas you choose).

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Yes, therein lies the problem for many of us. The whole WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE/WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO seemingly endless limitless unanswerable question that used to keep me up in the middle of the night, burrowing into my brain like a sickening slow-moving ambitious virus that was the reason for and bane of my existence. The unbearable reality that I was wasting my youth, while also simultaneously not enjoying it the way I should be because I was so worried I was wasting it while also acutely aware that there were others my age doing bigger and better and more successful things, while I was simply wondering what it is I should be doing in the first place. 

Perhaps the problem is that our parents told us we could be anything. Maybe they should have told us we would all be disappointed, and therefore we’d all be satisfied. Imagine our ambition and drive and direction, if we all met our expectations by not meeting expectation! It’s economic inception. It’s the career-related matrix. I’ve discovered the loophole! Call Obama! Anyway.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve always known that writing is something that gives me energy and a high on a level that is far beyond “traits and skills you might have for -insert this job here-” I’ve always been very aware of my strengths and weaknesses. What I don’t and do want. 

But still, I’ve struggled with what degree I want to pursue my creative side. And how? And when? And where? It’s not so simple saying you want to write it turns out. It’s certainly a big step. But it’s like finishing a flight of stairs and your entire career is the Eiffel Tower and you don’t even know why you’re in Paris and you haven’t eaten and some foreign guy keeps shoving flowers in your face but when you take one he yells at you in french and you’re like ok I’ve definitely seen you on tinder before and you totally speak english, asshole. 

 

…Mass confusion. Everyday. Even if you don’t want to pursue something creative, you know what it’s like. Like I was supposed to be someone by now. I was supposed to have my shit a little more together. A little more direction. I certainly know that feeling well. Has it stopped me yet? Have I hung up my hat and settled for administrative purgatory and just writing in my diary on the side? Hell no. 

I have a lot of ideas. A lot of creative thoughts that surge through me every single day. But recently, I’ve been noticing a pattern. A distinct beat. A rhythm for a particular idea.

And that is that I’m very skilled at not only believing I’m on a path of finding my own dream and pursuing it, but also encouraging and believing that you all will find yours. If that’s really what you want. I think we are a generation that despite economic and employment disappointment, despite absurd outstanding debt from the colleges that were supposed to get us our “dream jobs,” despite being supposedly surrounded by others who society would have you believe to be doing and making more, refuses to settle. I think the previous generation often sees this as laziness and entitlement but I disagree. 

I believe that more than any generation before, we can achieve big things. We can make the big ideas in our heads our reality. You don’t have to take the first job you get out of college. Or keep the second job. Or stick with the third. Or screw it, even go to college. If you have the drive and the passion, history has shown us through successful person after successful person that a college degree and a resume of experience can be irrelevant. 

You just have to have an idea. And make that idea into a beat. And turn that beat into a rhythm. And keep creating that rhythm until you find a stride that you never get sick of and never want to stop playing.

And then one day, you’ll wake up and ask yourself that same question. The one question that used to wake you up in the middle of the night.

What do you want to do?

And you’ll answer, well.. I’m doing it.

And the beat goes on…

Happy 3 years-

m

2+2=5 (I know. I don’t get it either.)

Outside patio, day-time:

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This episode in my life begins with me on my suburban home and garden patio, soaking up the midwest sun before it fades into yet ANOTHER FREAKING RAINSTORM which is becoming borderline absurd if not, at the very least, incredibly annoying to my suntan and more importantly, my hair. As the final days of my unemployment draw to close, I reflect on my crazy anti-career victory lap that went entirely too long; though now closing in on the finish line– I can see something that looks like vaguely like a purpose.

I still don’t know exactly why I’m here. I think about that a lot, knowing how much I love LA and being in a big city, and yet somehow, for some explanation, I forge ahead where I’m at. There’s reasons things don’t work out and there’s reasons things do and unfortunately (and also fortunately) those reasons only really become apparent as time goes on.

I think back to 3 years ago and graduating, when I first started writing Leftovers From Friday and what a confused little character I was. Often, I wonder just how much progress I’ve really made. I mean, if I was watching a tv show of myself right now and at the end of the 2nd season I end up back in Denver– living with my parents (the horror, really) I would be sitting on the edge of my couch in suspense. Uh, whoa Walter White. Carrie Mathison. Frank Underwood. Did NOT see that one coming! What else are you capable of? The television version of my life is plot twist after unbelievable plot twist. I can’t stop watching. Because seriously, what happens next?

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Yet, here I am. I continue to surprise, astonish, and shock even myself.

It’s the greatest show I’ve ever seen, this whole not having a 10-year or even a 5-year plan. I like to pretend I’m an hour-long drama at times, but if we’re being real, I’m just a 30-minute sitcom, with no laugh track. I’m the real-life Seinfeld, a show that’s kind of about nothing, but also applicable to everything. Hilariously, I still keep trying to make life plans despite the fact that since graduating college, since leaving formal education, pretty much nothing in my life has gone according to “plan.”

But yet, as time unfolds, as the show goes on, I’ve learned that part of figuring out life is just as much figuring out what you don’t want to do, as what you do. It’s figuring out who you can count on, as much as figuring out who you can’t. Some episodes, I let people down. Others, I’m the one whose disappointed. I’m both the villain and the hero. Because you’re kidding yourself if you think you are always the protagonist in your own story. I can be my own (and my only) worst enemy sometimes. I can destroy myself with just my thoughts. Drive myself insane when things don’t go as I wanted them to, as I expected them to. Throw down mental static interference when 2 plus 2 equals 5.

“But it’s supposed to be 4!”, I scream to no one. Usually in the shower. I was told it’s 4! 18 years of education and my entire life still equals 5 and my commitment remote is broken, and what is that even and I don’t like who they’ve cast as the male lead in this show because… oh right there is no male lead and then I’m just like ok Liz Lemon, drop the hot dog, let’s take a step back and breathe here.

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And it’s here that you find me on my patio in suburb USA. Remembering and reflecting that I can not binge-watch my entire life although god knows sometimes, I try. I can’t speak for myself in 5 years. Just like I couldn’t speak for myself 3 years ago. And maybe there will come a point where I see the point, but until then, all I can do is watch what’s in front of me.

And what’s playing in front of me right now is a new job in a completely new city. There’s going to be a whole new set of stories. And characters. And failures. And success! And personally, I think that’s a pretty good premiere episode to season 3 of Leftovers From Friday.

And so in conclusion, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m definitely going to keep watching to find out what happens next.

Rainstorm begins. Ominously? Refreshingly? Cleansingly? Forebodingly?

Regardless…end scene,

M

dear dad

Dear Dad,

I thought for a really long time tonight what I wanted to get you for your birthday. I know you didn’t want a gift, and I know we both love gifts and honestly, it makes me a little sad to get you nothing so I thought I would write you this little letter in hopes it can be a placeholder for something much better someday when I can buy you an RV or a monkey, or a monkey-themed RV, or a lifetime supply of donuts, or a dozen Daisies (the dog, not flower… though nothing can compare to the one we already have).

And while I want to say happy birthday in the best way I know how, I also want to say how grateful and thankful I am to have a father who supports me regardless of how many times I am the human version of a run-on sentence. The kind of Dad that knows his kid is a little on the outskirts of normal town, but still makes it a point to leave a light on when I make it home.

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That I’m not your darling debutante daughter, twirling in frilly academic accolades and basking in the opportunities of the corporate career spotlight.

That I stumbled and knee-crawled through most of my formal educational hallway but the way you smiled at my college graduation let me know you were proud of me regardless of all the Pomp and Circumstance it took to get me there.

That one time when I wasn’t approved for a lease for my first apartment, you left a message on the potential landlord’s voicemail saying I was going to be a famous writer someday and then she’d be sad she missed this opportunity.

That you read an article in the newspaper by a women who had written a book about following your dreams and then you went and bought me that book and sent it to me because you believe I should do the same.

That you’ll read this, because you read everything I write because you’re very simply, my greatest fan.

That there are countless, numerous, endless other ways I could thank you for being there for me and for believing in me and that just saying Happy Birthday just doesn’t feel like enough.

And I don’t want this to get sappy and corny and like some kind of Hallmark commercial or room temperature cheese (though I know we both love both) so I will conclude on this:

My entire life people have told me you are so much like your Dad!!! And when I was little, I would be deeply offended fearing an impending inevitable lady mustache. But now I see a man who never takes no for an answer, who always gets a job done right, who makes those around him laugh effortlessly, who is confident, who is kind, who is bright and who is, above all, a good husband and a wonderful father. And I want to be just like him. Minus the mustache. 🙂

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So on that note, Happy Birthday Dad!

Thank you for being my biggest fan.

Love,

Megan