Sunday, November 14, 2010

January 2012

This is post #2 of 2 about my trip to Los Angeles.

Three weeks ago I flew to LA. My objective: hang out with my friends and have a fun vacation away from work!

I never expected the trip would change my life forever.

Though I didn't advertise publicly, part of my purpose in visiting LA was to determine whether I could see myself living there as a working filmmaker. I went in more or less assuming "no way! Too big, too scary", yet tried to maintain an open mind just in case.

And so, from the moment Brooke picked me up at the airport, to the final car ride with Anne back to LAX, I asked questions. Lots of them. Trying to get at people's experiences, from practicalities like cost of living, to their emotions about leaving home and re-establishing a friend-base in a new city.

Every answer I heard reinforced one central theme: making "the move" is possible.

I began contemplating, how exactly would this work? What would happen to my house, where would I work, what about health insurance? And I prayed a lot.

Finally, on the car ride to the airport, I had my moment of clarity: "I have to do this. I don't know how it's going to work, I just know it's what I need to do."

Coupled with my friends' encouragement (or "insistence" might be a better word), I resolved that I will make the move to Los Angeles in January 2012.

In my mind that's a long way off. Everyone I've told so far, though, insists it will fly by, and the most common reaction has been "you're moving so soon?"

However one looks at it, I've got 13.5 months to get my life in order. Or something like that. So over the next year, I will:

- pay off my current debt
- pay ahead in my house payment, as well as find a future renter(s)
- save enough to survive for several months after the move without a steady income
- record my first CD project
- write / direct / and/or produce one more short film

I remain hopeful that I'll maintain part-time employment at Minnehaha, since most of the web and database stuff I do can be done from anywhere in the world. And I want to keep my foot in the door for possible summer-time employment, when business around LA is quieter.

I could get a job at an Apple Store when I move, but I'm saving that as a last resort, because in my mind it kind of defeats the purpose: I'm moving to LA to work on movies, not sell in retail. I have to allow myself time to give filmmaking an honest shot.

This feels like the right time to make this change. One of my greatest fears is, years from now, reflecting on my life and asking "what if...?". One of my coworkers actually told me a few months ago, "if you're still here in 5 years, I'll be disappointed in you". So it's time to take a risk, and see what happens.

My parents are supportive. I gave them the two-minute version when they picked me up from the airport, and then a few days ago we were able to sit down for a longer conversation. The next year may be nerve-wracking as I try to accomplish everything on my list, but I am indescribably happy to have a solid goal toward which I'm working.

409 days, and counting.

Reflections on Los Angeles

This is post #1 of 2 about my trip to Los Angeles.

Three weeks ago I flew to LA. My objective: hang out with my friends and have a fun vacation away from work!

I've traveled to California (San Francisco) twice, but never Los Angeles. Thanks to hyperbole from television and talkies, I partly expected a martian landscape, red rocks, devoid of familiar terrestrial lifeforms, and perhaps covered in smog.

Well, let's back up. First, boarding my flight was delayed almost two hours because... drumroll, please... the pilot's windshield wiper was broken. No joke.

My delayed landing actually worked to my advantage, though. Originally, my friend Anne was going to pick me up, because her roommate Brooke (I would be staying at their apartment) was in meetings all day. But with the flight delay, Anne had to get to her night class and wouldn't have time to add in a round trip to the airport and back, so Brooke picked me up on her way to dinner with other filmmakers.

Which means, my very first night ever in LA, I...
  • experienced freeway rush hour

  • drove on a mountain (okay, Brooke was driving, but it's boring to say "I rode around a mountain")

  • ate dinner at a deluxe, Harry Potter themed restaurant in Beverly Hills

  • met a bunch of filmmakers / actors / writers, including the writer of Zombieland

  • tried to wrap my mind around the florae

Seriously, it's not just the palm trees that caught me off-guard, they have legitimately entirely different species of trees in California. Which is weird to me.

What was also weird: nearly every day we drove by the WB and Disney backlots. That's a new "normal" to which I never quite acclimated.

And almost every day we saw grip trucks parked around town and production signs posted on street corners. Brooke always called out "look, they're shooting a movie there", and that's just part of normal LA life. I could get used to that.

On my second night, Brooke and Anne hosted "Bad Movie Night". A few months ago, I started this tradition in Minneapolis after an abysmally awful local independent film came out on DVD - I gathered my film friends, including a couple folks who'd worked on the movie, and we mocked it MST3K style. Anne and Brooke caught wind of this and insisted I bring the DVD with me to LA. We had a blast. In attendance were also Rachel (Brooke's business partner, whom I knew only vaguely previous to this trip; I think we worked on the Prairie Home extras casting team together a few years ago), Nathan (my lead actor in my "Harry Putter" movies), Matt ("Draco" in Putter 1), and Anne's new LA friend Bernadett (one of the sweetest, most humble people ever; meeting her is a story unto itself). Awesome night, with a group of truly awesome people.

Other miscellaneous stories:

It rained overnight one night. Otherwise, hardly ever a cloud in the sky, and stable temperature (cold at night, just right during the day). And aside from the tractor race outside my window Thursday morning (aka, a lawn mower and weed whacker), the city was quieter than I expected. Traffic was not as terrible as I'd feared. Nor were prices - Targ├ęt was more or less consistent with Minneapolis. Gas was about 30 cents more expensive.

How do you spot the tourist from Minnesota? I was the only one who always forgot to bring sunglasses. Thank goodness Brooke and Anne started reminding me.

Anne and Bernadett were in a Halloween one-act - Anne played a possessed girl who gnaws on her own leg, whom Bernadett wants to kill her in order to protect their other friend. And that was only the second one-act of six. Very uplifting evening.

Bernadett's birthday happened while I was in town, we took her out to breakfast to celebrate (and obviously didn't let her pay!).

One day Anne took me to Griffith Observatory, a space/science history type museum on top a hill. Awesome place. I want to go back when it's dark sometime, the view of the night sky must be breathtaking. The views of the surrounding valleys also were spectacular.

And while we were at Griffith, I glimpsed "the" Hollywood sign on a faraway hill. Surreal. And a bit smaller than I'd imagined :)

On November 1st we went to the beach, just for the sake of saying, "It's November 1st, we're at the beach!" Granted, the ocean was a bit cool for swimming, but we dipped our feet in and drew in the sand. Fun.

I didn't make it to an official church service during my stay, but I experienced some truly amazing late night worship and prayer time, just on my own, me and God, with an album from Jesus Culture playing softly on iTunes. It shouldn't surprise me that God was there, too, so many miles away from "home"; nevertheless, our conversations came as an unexpected and pleasant surprise, and I felt a closer connection with Her than I have for a long while. He and I had some really good conversations.

This spiritual high, along with constant and uplifting encouragement from my friends, allowed me to leave inspired, with some clear life goals to achieve in 2011. Those will be covered in part 2, coming in a couple days.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Old song, new message

“Lord (I Don’t Know)” is one of my favorite Newsboys songs. I listen to it when I’m depressed, sad about the world, when something awful has happened, when one of my friends has died.

“Lord, I don’t know where all this is going
Or how it all works out.
Lead me to peace that is past understanding
A peace beyond all doubt.”

This morning the song sprung up in a new light: joy, excitement, anticipation, a genuine and overwhelming feeling of looking forward to the future and "all that is to come". Same song, completely new message for me.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

What's holding you back?

Ate a delicious Noodle-y lunch with one of my best friends today, and a variation of this question came up. The context was: some people don't want to grow, don't want to see what their potential has in store. They're stagnant. Satisfied, perhaps, yes, but unmoving. We were specifically discussing this in terms of faith, but it can applied in almost any area of life.

At another lunch, a few weeks ago, with one of my pastor friends, I raised a similar question: what, if anything, is holding us back from taking that "next step" (whatever it may be) with God? I told him that was our homework for the next time we dined together.

And as is pretty typical, I've been avoiding my homework.

After it came up today, though, I've been thinking. What is holding me back? Am I being held back?

Aversion to anything "Bible" is definitely one area in my life. Everyone who's ever had a theological conversation with me knows how much I despise "religion" and "the Church", because I've seen the Bible used as a weapon too many times. But a couple nights ago, I actually picked one up and read something 'for fun' (well, I didn't actually pick one up, I picked up my phone, because there's an app for that). And the verses I read were inspiring. (1 Corinthians 12)

A single session of reading does not a Bible-lover Jeremy make. But it's a start.

Another area for growth is related to that passage: applying my spiritual gifts. It's easy to "talk God" in certain contexts, like Sunday mornings, or church small groups. It's more difficult to remember to use that gift outside of those situations. Like at work. Or spending time with family. It's not that this is "holding me back", per se, I'm just identifying it as an area for improvement.

Aside from those, well, maybe 'trust' is another holder-backer, but even that I'm growing, making progress. So I guess really what I've learned is that the next step for me is open that darn book. Shoot. Fine Holy Spirit, you win this round. But I don't have to be happy about it!

What's holding you back?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Gift-Giving to Jeremy for Birthday/Christmas

To my family and friends, if you’re planning on sending a gift my way for Thanksgiving / my birthday / Christmas, then this post applies to you. Yes, you!

I'm trying to reduce my collection of random "stuff", so I'd rather not receive material gifts this year. Truly, your presence at any celebrations is more than enough. However, if you still feel inclined to give me something, please consider these alternatives instead of a traditional gift:

- a handwritten or typed note about our friendship
- a donation to AWAKEN, Heifer International, or ELCA Good Gifts.

Seriously, I don't need or want any more "stuff". Let's see what kind of good we can do in the world instead!