An Invitation to my Birthday Party

I apparently have a strange, emotionally charged relationship to holidays. This became most evident in my life when I wrote a little blog post about a succession of Valentine’s Days and lessons learned. The blog post inadvertently became “my big break” — a web-series executive produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky for Refinery29. It seems that my tendency is to track my emotional development over the years according to the dates chosen by Hallmark to con the general populace into buying heart-warming greeting cards, and that this is my one marketable skill so far.

My birthday is no different from Valentine’s Day in that it has for some time seemed “cursed,” particularly as far as my relationships to the opposite sex are concerned.

My birthday curse started when I was turned five. I remember it vividly. I was a big “Barney the Dinosaur” fan at the time, and as such had requested a Barney themed birthday party in the park. I don’t remember much from that party except climbing a slide and meeting a gang of 8 or 9 year old boys who just so happened to also be at the park that day. They sang to me for my birthday along to the tune of the Barney theme song.

“I hate you, you hate me, we’re a dumb stupid family…”

I don’t remember the rest of how they cleverly altered the lyrics, but I do remember crying hysterically and the rest of the day feeling completely ruined. Subsequent childhood birthdays were less traumatic and therefore more forgettable, but this particular party seemed to foreshadow birthdays to come.

At age 19 I began “dating” for the first time, and the first boy I was intimate with, so to speak, refused to show up to my birthday party to meet my friends. I was shocked and devastated. 

At age 21, a different boyfriend promised grand plans of taking me out to a fancy dinner, then canceled at the last minute for pretty much no reason.

At age 23, ruffled from previous disappointments, I created high expectations of yet another boyfriend, explaining that I really wanted a gift, perhaps something we could do together — even something he would want to do like a baseball game (these were part of my specific instructions) and I felt let down by his gift of a note written on yellow legal pad paper and a mixed-CD.

At age 24 or 25, I was deliberately single, attempting to be smarter about dating, but also still dating. I had been unsuccessful on these dates and one of these boys decided to show up to my birthday party anyway in spite of the fact that we didn’t seem to get along and he pulled a really weird move (see said web-series). He brought another girl along to my birthday party. She seemed dead inside. I politely shook her hand and it was like a limp fish. Later a friend revealed to me that she was a prominent porn star.

At age 27 I was determined to break “the curse” that seemed to always happen on June 29th and decided to have “no expectations” of my then-boyfriend. We got in a big fight anyway because I wanted to listen to “Copacabana” in the car and he didn’t, and since it was my birthday I assumed I should be put on a pedestal for at least one day and allowed to listen to whatever the fuck I wanted without someone else being grumpy about it.

At age 28, last year, I was simply relieved to be alive. I had been through a lot in the previous years, and though I have never been a successful musician known for her drug habit, I was glad to not be in the 27 club. Previous big dreams (see, again, web-series) had not resulted in my imminent demand within the entertainment industry as I had anticipated. With raising rents, no new job prospects, etc. I had come to a crossroads where I decided to move in with my grandma to get back up on my feet. I spent June 29th packing and cleaning what was left in my old Silver Lake apartment. My grandma and I got lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. It was not my worst birthday by any means, but it still felt heavy and very symbolic of endings rather than new beginnings. I wished my birthday weren’t a thing that had to happen every year.

My birthday fast approaches once again, except this year the pressure is on more than ever. I am going to turn 29. And you see, this particular birthday is of special importance to me, I think more so than “30” will be. I’m going to be 29 on the 29th. It’s my golden birthday, an event that only happens in every person’s life once. Some people are born on the 2nd, and so they turn 2 without ever knowing it’s their golden birthday and it passes them by. Since I was born towards the very end of the month, my case is different. I’ve had lots and lots of time to anticipate my golden birthday.

I started planning for this particular birthday back in January of 2017. I knew this was going to be the year I broke “the curse.” I had a lot of shitty birthdays to make up for in this golden one. It had to be spectacular.

It had become a joke between me and a close friend that my life was like “La La Land” except it stops at the failure. I had indeed already fallen in love with and broken up with a pianist, not succeeded completely in my dreams of making it in showbiz despite, like Emma Stone, getting people coffee for a long time and not liking it anymore, and I was moving back in with my family after perceived failures in following my dreams.

I decided the solution to all of this was obviously simple. All I had to do was create a shitty one-woman show that no one wanted to go to, and even if no one did go or liked what I did, at least one person in the audience would conveniently just so happen to be a prominent casting director who “saw past” whatever other people didn’t like about my failed show, and then decide to create a movie script around me and my visits with my rich aunt in France.

Of course, I don’t have that last part going for me, but I did genuinely decide that for my birthday party this year I would create and plan a one woman show, the concept being, “for my birthday this year all I want is for all my friends to have to listen to me talk about myself for an hour. Tickets are free for powerful casting directors who want to create a featured roll for me.”

I conceived of these ideas in March. Quickly afterward I began working for a local political campaign. I learned things on the campaign, and then once it was over the pressure was on to really plan this one woman show that had for so long just been kind of a funny idea in my head. I looked at theaters to book the show, but felt overwhelmed by the cost of booking said theaters compared to my lack of discernible income and my desire to become a “real adult” and not live with my grandma well into my 30s, even though I love her.

Another factor was, though I intended the one woman show as something of a joke, I felt that talking about myself for an hour, even in a self-aware, sardonic manner felt kind of exhausting and narcissistic. Even if I am somewhat of a narcissist, I do my best to not be a total self-involved piece of shit. Thus, I evolved the idea to being a “storytelling show” about birthdays in general, and decided that including my friends in the actual show would be a great display of me being a magnanimous, giving person who realizes that it’s lonely at the top without your friends by your side. If that powerful casting director was going to come to my shitty box-theater birthday party she’d have to cast all of us in some kind of ensemble piece. I reached out to a few friends, and found that since I had waited until the last minute to make these plans it was not coming together very easily.

And then I just felt tired, and depressed. I felt that I had spent a lot of time creating high expectations once again and I felt anxious about feeling let down again by my own demands for perfection and excellence, thus perpetuating “the curse”.

I would like to break “the curse” of feeling constantly disappointed and let down by my birthday, and so I figure there is something to learn from all this, which is what I will attempt to do now.

If I could go back to my 5 year old self, I’d first of all give her a hug because she’s just a little girl who ran into some asshole boys, but I’d also want to point out to her that a lot of good things probably happened that day too. She probably got great presents, probably had friends who were there, and I wish she now remembered those things about that day. I don’t know if at age 5 (or even age 28) if she could totally comprehend the power she has to choose what aspects of life she looks at, but those stupid boys never deserved such a prominent place in the memory bank.

If I could go back to myself, ages 19-25 or so, I’d want to tell her that she’s doing a terrific job of equating happiness with partnership, but that it’s a trap. I still assume its possible to be happy in a relationship, but after a year of detoxing and consciously not dating I think that at least at this point I feel more aware of how putting demands on people who haven’t fully earned my trust to live up to an ideal is a recipe for disaster. I seem to have a pattern of giving the power and responsibility of my happiness to others.

And in more recent years, I have just felt kind of depressed about the whole thing. My 20s were full of lots of ups and downs, as it seems most people’s 20s go. It’s somewhat hard for me to consciously understand why my birthday even matters to me to the extent that it apparently does. Is it just that I want to feel beloved, and is it also that until I learn to be-love myself no amount of validation or celebration will feel like enough to fill the void? Is it that each passing year feels like a milestone of past failures accumulated and “time running out”? Perhaps I just want to feel special, and if I don’t feel ecstatic on “my special day” then it’s somehow symbolic of my whole existence being shit?

I decided not to do the storytelling show, at least not on my birthday. Perhaps I will yet perform in a half-serious one woman show, or put together a group of my friends in a theater to tell stories. I felt like I had to let go of something this time around, namely the pressure and expectations.

My 28th year was simultaneously eventful and transformative without necessarily showing outwards signs of progress for it. Inside I know I am a different person than I was a year ago, though on the surface I am still living with my grandma and not succeeding in traditional “adulting” sort of ways. I assume that will come. I hope.

I want my life to be different moving forward, and I desperately want my 29th year — the golden one — to mark that change.

First, like my 5 year old and early 20s self, I need to remember to focus on the good and the love in my life, not the stray assholes. Assholes will be assholes, apparently. I think its crazy that I’ve let them define my happiness for so long. I have purposefully kept my upcoming birthday asshole-free by deciding to just hang out with a few best friends, doing things we love together (like working on the passion project we’ve been developing for the past few years). I’ll also celebrate with my family eating my favorite spaghetti sauce with them and keeping it low-key.

I’m not having a party, because in the past parties have felt like a gamble for my popularity. How loved am I? How many people are showing up? Who cares enough to bother for me? I mean, even in this piece I haven’t focused on some more positive birthday moments. I have had really great, wonderful parties too — like when I was 27 and I combined my friends and family for a night in my favorite pub and felt over the moon to have the people I love the most in my presence. My point here though is every year shouldn’t feel like I’m testing my loved ones to show up for me, and while it might not feel that way to others, when that’s the mindset I’m already operating in I think I need to take a step back.

I want this to be the year I learn to be the person who shows up for my own happiness, rather than expecting it from others. Instead of counting failures or perceived lack of progress in the past year, I want to give myself credit for how far I have come, and to trust that I have indeed evolved in ways I am still unveiling to myself. Instead of putting pressure on myself to conjure that magic casting director from La La Land who gives Emma Stone everything she ever wanted, I want to relax into appreciating the joys that exist in the life I’ve already created for myself. I want to give myself the gift of trust and faith in myself. My birthday isn’t cursed. It’s just a day. If there has been a curse, it was created in my own mind, and that’s something I can decide to let go of.

My birthday will be golden not because anything in particular happened, but because I decided to love and celebrate myself with compassion and patience for who I’ve been and who I’m becoming.

And if you do want to celebrate me with me, please know that I am doing my best to let go of my expectations but I still love praise and validation. If anything I want my birthday to be a day in my life where I get to see all the nice things people would say about me if I died (that maybe they don’t even totally mean), without having to do the dying part because I hope I have many, many, many more birthdays to come and that each one is a blessing.

A Review of the Audience I Saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” With

Due to varying changing life circumstances – my original plans to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” had fallen through. I was originally supposed to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with fellow fans, in 3D, on “pre-opening night” (12/17), at the Arclight in Hollywood, which is like, the place to go see movies, I’m told.

These fallen through plans had left me depressed. Tickets were probably already sold out, at this point, and it seemed I’d have to wait like one of those losers who say they’ll go see it when “the crowds die down”. I won’t call those people complete morons, but I also won’t not call them that. Yeah, yeah, I get you. It’s just a major pop-cultural event that doesn’t come around very often (like every ~20 years?!) that brings people together and creates a unique energy of anticipation and shared experience with fellow humans and it doesn’t even seem like we’re going to be disappointed this time, so, sure, you’re going to WAIT FOR THE CROWDS TO DIE DOWN?!

Well, maybe I’m the complete moron, because it seems I would have been just as well off waiting for the crowds to die down. Which is depressing as fuck.

At the last minute I was surprised when a good friend invited me to come along to the Arclight on 12/17 to see Star Wars. Granted it wasn’t going to be in 3D like my original plans, but I don’t really give too much of a shit about 3D to be honest. That’s fine. At least I’d be with the crowds of true fans, the people who make such an experience as a rare Star Wars trilogy opening extra magical because they know when to clap and laugh and applaud at the right times so that the movie comes to life. I mean when I was 9 my uncle dressed up as Han Solo and we waited in line for at least four hours at the Grumman’s Chinese theater for the Phantom Menace, and everyone made a big deal over that shitty movie AS IT SHOULD BE. And again, we all knew this movie wasn’t even going to be bad this time.

I give the audience I saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with one star. Light smatterings of applause upon the opening credits. No “whoops”, “hollers”, or “general cheers”. Important, devastating moments happened in the film, AND NO ONE REACTED AT ALL EXCEPT FOR ME. The entire movie going experience felt like an echo – in which the only noise other than the movie were my own claps and laughs being reverberated back to me in what was otherwise a vacuous silence. Important characters returned – ie. Han Solo, and the audience acted like they couldn’t give two shits. It’s fucking Han Solo it’s not like it’s his character in the Age of Adaline. Have some GODDAMN RESPECT AND CHEER. Also, several times I laughed out loud – loudly – and immediately realized I was the only one. I wasn’t even laughing at inappropriate moments like I sometimes normally do. This time it was just goddamn funny. Fucking laugh, assholes.

To this audience – DO YOU NOT HAVE SOULS!? Why did you even bother getting tickets for “pre-opening night”!? So you could sit judgmentally in your cool Hollywood seats and find criticism in everything and refuse to just let yourself enjoy a goddamn good traditional American blockbuster film?! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? Do you even like Star Wars? What are you doing here? Why did you insist on ruining the experience by not participating in the experience? Were you just a bunch of people who were going to wait for the “crowds to die down” who at the last second decided “what the hell” and bought tickets? For what? To personally spite me? That must be it, because you kind of blew it for me. I can’t imagine I’m going to have another chance like that. I mean I do plan on seeing the movie again – certainly – but by then it’s like, I’ve already lost my “The Force Awakens” virginity. I can’t get that back. Man, fuck you.

Actually, forget the one star. No stars!!

 

An Open Letter to Pitbull and Ne-Yo

Dear Pitbull and Ne-Yo,

I’ve listened to your newest song, “Time of Our Lives” numerous times and as such feel compelled to address some of your concerns.

First, I completely relate to the troubles that you describe. I too, have worked my ass off and yet still fall short of rent each month. It is a difficult economy, and especially for those of us, like yourselves, pursuing a creative field, it is common to work very hard but to fail to receive financial gains for our efforts. It’s a shame that we live in a world that doesn’t necessarily value monetary compensation for our art. In this sense I find your strife highly relatable.

However, I am concerned by the manner in which you’ve been dealing with your (again, understandable) stress. You have just enough to get up in this club? Are you sure this is the best manner in which to spend the limited income you have? I personally, am not. While I fully endorse living a well-rounded life that includes time for extracurricular activities, I am not sure that “the club” is the best use of your time and money, especially since – again – you are falling short on your rent.

To start, while I again agree in the notion of “having the time of our lives” have you considered that there are numerous free activities that are not only highly enjoyable but also spiritually and physically rejuvenating? Examples that come to the top of my head are, the beach, hiking, volunteering at a local animal shelter, etc. This is a great way to get out in the world and even give back to the community.

I also feel, that if you do have a little extra cash which you are currently spending on “the club”, that perhaps you would be wise and better off to financially invest in your own future. You seem interested in a music career, from what I can tell. You are obviously talented, so perhaps you would be better off to use your “last $20” on producing music tracks which you could upload to SoundCloud? This way you’ll have material to show people who might be interested in developing your career further, at which point you will hopefully then have enough money to “get up in da club” AND pay your rent!

I am also a little unnerved by what I might consider to be a bit of an alcohol problem. While I am certainly no prude or square myself, I have seen how drugs and alcohol can distract, interfere, and otherwise destroy the lives of young creative artists who otherwise would have a very bright future indeed. I think you’ll find that, while difficult, it is possible to overcome these addiction demons, and that the efforts are well worth the promise of your future. It might be a simple matter of drinking less, in which case you’d both save money to pay for your rent and open up some creative space in your head to really go for your true dreams. This club business honestly seems like it is a cause of the problems you are having – in which you can’t pay your rent and are struggling to make ends meet. Life doesn’t have to be such a struggle if you just channel your energy and efforts into more productive means.

Last, I am also a little concerned about your attitudes towards women. Certainly, it is no business of mine whether you are seeking a long term relationship or not. That is a personal journey and something you are of course entitled to decide for yourself. However, I am not sure that you need “da club” to meet women, and you might find a free app like Tinder helpful in connecting you with like-minded women who are not interested in pursuing love, as you say, but instead “lust”. Additionally, if a woman has just broken up with her boyfriend, I might suggest you be a little more cautious and considerate of her feelings. She is probably in a vulnerable and emotional state and so when you describe yourself as “like Rodman, ready on deck” I can’t help but express apprehension that you might be taking advantage of a troubled and lost soul. She probably needs support and compassion in this time, and so I just want to make sure you are being delicate in the manner in which you are proceeding with the situation. Of course two consenting adults have every right to “ride out”, but please consider the emotional consequences.

Otherwise, a very catchy song and you obviously show promise. I just hope this letter reaches you in time to hopefully make a positive impact and direct you towards achieving your full potential. I truly believe that one day you might be able to pay rent AND get up in da club occasionally, but all of this again probably requires balance and a reevaluation of your priorities.

Wishing you all the best,

Jessica

#12 – A Review Of These Shitty Cheetos®

cheetos

It has come to my attention that I am now an “adult”, and as such it seems one of my responsibilities is to feed myself. This has proven to be a considerable challenge over the past few years, and so as of late I have taken it upon myself to improve my efforts and visit the “grocery store” (if you will). 

I’ve performed a number of experiments in this vein, and being an intelligent young woman I have concluded that it is no longer a conducive choice to purchase bags of kale. As it turns out, I don’t really eat the kale. 

However, because I theoretically value my health, it is important to me to make decisions that cater to my long term well being*. This is indeed why I got this stupid shitty bag of Cheetos®. 

These particular Cheetos® suck. This bag was full of false promises. First, I was under the impression that the “puffs” aspect would provide a lighter snacking experience to again, ensure my health*. In retrospect, and after having consumed the Cheetos® first hand, I’m not so sure that this is actually the case. I was also drawn in by the word “simply”, inferring that the Cheetos® would be a fairly organic snack. Again, in hindsight, I guess they aren’t because they’re still Cheetos®. The “white cheddar” label, to me, also implied that I would be taking care of my health* by sticking to all-natural cheese flavorings. Upon opening the bag, I think they would have been more appropriately labeled “white chalk”. 

Basically, they tasted like shit. The puffs part of it made it gross, the white cheddar part was also gross, and, to top it all off, after some careful analysis, I realized the health* aspect of this snack was all in the marketing and not a reflection of the actual product. 

Will I be purchasing these Cheetos® again? No. Do I recommend these Cheetos® to anyone else? No. If you’re going to eat Cheetos® should you just go for the real deal, only slightly worse for you, toxic bright orange colored ones that are still shit but at least taste pretty decent when accompanied with a poisonous beverage like Diet Coke®? Yeah, probably. 

*low calorie count to stay kind of skinny

#7 – A Blost Pog a Day

It’s day seven of my attempt to write a blog post a day. So far, I’ve done it. Was I lacking inspiration this week? Sure. Were some of my posts a bit of a stretch for material? Yeah, maybe. Were others overly sappy and emotional for no reason? Hey, we all have our bad days.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped me get here today. First I’d like to thank my parents, for hopefully not using the computer very often and presumably not reading anything I do on the Internet. Remember, ignorance is bliss! I’d also like to thank many of my friends, for probably also not reading my blog. I genuinely appreciate you looking the other way when I post embarrassing / mediocre shit in an attempt to refine my skills, so your indifference means a lot to me. I couldn’t do it without you. Third, I’d like to thank the random Internet strangers and two close friends who probably did read my posts this week. I guess I couldn’t become a better me without embarrassing myself in front of you all of the time. Your appreciation and praise of my work inspires me to keep going, but is simultaneously difficult for me to internalize and accept, so, well, thanks I guess.

Most of all I’d like to thank the love of my life. The wind beneath my wings, my baby boo, Rita Roo.

ritaroo

Rita, your continual presence and support in my life is something I do not take for granted. You are there by my side all the time, toughing out the rough times of trying to come up with some shitty blog posts and lightening the mood by being adorable. Words can’t express how much you mean to me. We’ve been through a lot together, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather sleep the entire day away with. You never even bark. You are just too awesome. Even though sometimes I feel lost in your shadow, because you are the best dog in the entire world and it’s hard to beat that, I am still awed by your greatness – you inspire me to try and be a better human.

Thank you.

#6 – A Review of the New TMNT Movie Based On Having Not Seen It But I Mean Come On This Is A Pile of Shit

This is a review of the new TMNT Movie based on my not having seen it personally but, I mean, realistically, I don’t need to see more than this to know that this movie is a big ol’ steaming pile of crapola. In fact, I’m probably insulting your intelligence right now by even bothering to explain the situation. You have eyes. We can all see this abomination for what it is. 

I am pretty sure there are dementors rampant in Hollywood, as is evidenced from the fact that the public is literally having their souls SUCKED FROM THEIR BODIES with garbage like this. 

“Hey,” a bunch of jackasses wearing business casual and pretentious sunglasses at an overpriced shitty bar like Pink Taco in Century City said to themselves. “We have a great idea. Remember the beloved classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? What a great franchise. How about instead of carrying on and honoring TMNT by following in its footsteps and creating a new, original, inspiring set of animal-like action heros based on a wacky and goofy premise, we’ll just rip off and ruin it by completely eliminating any charm or heart it used to have, giving the script to a fucking monkey to write, throwing lots of money at it for no reason, and slapping the worst possible CGI renditions on top of the package just to give the finished product the feeling that you’re really just subliminally watching us jerk off to how much money we’ll make off this bastardization.” 

The worst part is in this one trailer, not sure if it’s the one I linked to (who cares), but anyway, Michelangelo DROPS SOMETHING and says, I shit you not, “Uh, I MEANT TO DO THAT.”

“I MEANT TO DO THAT!?!” A five year old could write better, more compelling, interesting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan fiction than whoever barfed up this mess to waste our time with. I am serious. A small child who has no life experience would be infinitely more inspiring than Michael Bay. He should have to go to jail for this, it definitely qualifies as murder.

#4 – Poor and Procrastinating

Screen shot 2014-08-05 at 4.53.38 PM

Right now I am poor and procrastinating, and as is my tendency I am actively ignoring the pressing realities of life in favor of pretending that real world concerns don’t exist. Unfortunately, they do. Some of these practicalities include: not going into debt, getting a “real” job?, etc.

I’ve also been living and breathing this one project that is very important to me for the past six months, to the extent that it’s been hard to see the forest from the trees.

I don’t think I even know how to be a normal, real, functioning, contributing member of society anymore. Plus, as I said, I’m really poor, probably because I spend a lot of money but also do not make any. So it’s really just a matter of time before I become completely homeless.

Weirdly, I’m not too worried about it. Being homeless is going to be stressful, sure. I’m going to have to make some compromises. But first of all, let’s be realistic. I’m not gonna be homeless, homeless. I’m a girl. Girls don’t get like, sleeping-on-the-sidewalk homeless usually. We’re kind of like a high class of homeless… Like living-out-of-a-car homeless.

Plus, after I have to sell all my belongings and trade in my prius I’d probably be able to get like, a nice mini van or something, so I’d still have some space to lie down, etc.

The other good news, I’ve realized, is that part of the reason I am about to go completely bankrupt is because I spent a good chunk of money on a DELUXE DISNEYLAND PASS which, let me tell you, I do not need at all and conceivably might never get a chance to use again.

The other reason I’m going to be eating literal garbage in a few weeks is because I spend, mmm, ALL OF THE REST OF MY MONEY on books. I buy a lot of books. So many books that I probably don’t actually need because I have so many books I can’t get to them all quickly enough.

But, I remember one time this homeless guy asked me for a cup of coffee. I went to go buy him one and when I got back someone else had already gotten him one. I guess the point is, I feel like people are generous if you are desperate and charming. That guy had two more cups of coffee than I do, FOR FREE.

So I guess when I started thinking about it, I felt okay about everything. Sure, I could potentially blow an amazing opportunity by never coming up with anything good enough and also never address the aforementioned “real world realities” (“money to pay for things”) and end up completely destitute…

But in that scenario I’d still be living at Disneyland and having enough time at night to read all these books I’ve been wanting to get to, drinking coffee, and that sounds even better, to be honest.