L.A. Woman

It occured to me that I should write a post while I’m having one of my bad days.

Of course, in those moments, the last thing I want to do is wax philosophical about my love/hate relationship with myself. I generally just want to eat chocolate and watch re-runs of Law and Order SVU. But for those of you following my journey as you simultaneously try to heal your own demons, I think it is unfair for me to present this as all easy-going positivity and light- mostly because that simply isn’t the case. I still have meals where I eat too much. I still have days where I’m tempted to only drink water with lemon and cayenne pepper. I still have moments where I have to talk myself out of spending the entire evening moping in my bed.

This past week has been one of many ups and downs. The constant, though- even in the throws of PMS or mid self-insult- is that I do truly feel a shift happening in my consciousness. My therapist told me to equate where I am right now in my journey with food to where I was when I was only one-to-two months sober. Comparing the shaky hold I had on my sobriety back then to where I am now serves as an easy gage for measuring just how important it is to be patient with the process. I am the type of person who wants to be in control RIGHT NOW, so this is as lot of work in of itself. But I think the major difference is: even in my weaker moments, there is a hope (even a knowing) that truly wasn’t there before.  And that is what matters.

I was offered a chance to play Maria in Twelfth Night, in a production some of my Los Angeles friends are doing in the North Hollywood/Studio City area.  When I got the call, the only thing I could think was, “why the hell not?”, so I said yes. I will be there for the month of September and the first two weekends of October. Part of me is very excited to have the opportunity to hang out with my old Kingsmen and college friends for a few weeks, but there is another part of me that is extremely nervous about the arrangement. When I think back to the girl I was when I was living in LA in my early-to-mid twenties, I picture a total stranger. That girl was so unhappy- so defensive and paranoid and sensitive- I really don’t want to cross paths with her again.

There is a part of me that will always love Los Angeles. Some of my dearest friends live there, some of my favorite restaurants and dive bars and theaters and coffee shops and thrift stores are there. But there is also a darker side to LA that exists in my mind. LA for me is the epitome of yin and yang. It is a town of outright, repeated rejection but also a town of constant, eager hope and anticipation. It is the place where I first lived completely on my own (I heap my Thousand Oaks days into my L.A. days, by the way), and also where I first learned how to drink when no one else was watching. It was nights full of laughter, stimulating intellectual conversation, and some of the best theatre and museums I’ve yet to see in my life, as well as nights of cocaine and booze-filled one night stands and threesomes with total, disgusting, unattractive strangers whose faces to me are now (and maybe even then) a total blur. It is the place I first acknowledged that, yes, I was attracted to women as much as I was attracted to men and therefore could act on those feelings (if only while intoxicated). It is also the place I kicked one of my dearest girlfriends out of my life because I couldn’t handle my confusing feelings for her. It is the place where I spent five months living out of my car…but had enough friends to find places to regularly shower, get warm meals and couch-surf.

To me, Los Angeles can be summed up by that one moment that happens when you’re driving north on the 405 at night, and just before you get to the 101 intersection, you come up over a hill where you can see the entire San Fernando Valley lit up like stars…only to then notice the endless stretch of red brake lights from the path of highway in front of where your car sits.

I went to my first rehearsal last week. I was already down south because I had sold my crepe irons to a pair of sisters in Huntington Beach. The transaction was bittersweet for me, but I am somewhat happy to put that dream to rest, as I ‘trade up” for other ones. Plus, the sisters seemed really excited, so it was cool to be a part of helping someone else begin their crepe-making venture. I stayed down there for a few hours, teaching them how to make batter and use the irons, then they took me to the Farmers Market and showed me where they want to set up their booth. Judging by the size and location of the market, I think they are going to have a much more profitable business than I did.

Anyway, rehearsal came afterwards. I fussed and fidgeted over what to wear. One of my crueler voices was telling me that if Brett and Jason saw my upper arms, they would immediately renege on their casting offer. I ended up deciding on a baggy, 3/4 length sleeve blouse that, in hindsight, probably added an additional ten pounds to my appearance. After the rehearsal, I spent a good hour or two worrying that I had performed terribly and that they were probably having a conversation about how to get out of offering me the part. I then decided that, even though I love acting, I do not like the neurotic crazy person it makes me become, so after I get through this show, I will stop acting and just focus on directing and writing. (How neurotic is that by itself?!). My  sister then pointed out that if I see this ‘conquering’ thing through, perhaps I won’t be as neurotic in real life and therefore not as neurotic as an actor, either. In any case, my nice inner voice was like, “Why don’t you just refrain from making any decisions at all when you’re feeling vulnerable and antsy?” My sister was like, “Um. yeah. That’s what I just said.”

I did have a nice vegan dinner with my friend Elizabeth while I was down there. She has been one of the many rays of sunshine during this process- a constant cheerleader, who has been open and upfront about her own past struggles with food. I am comforted to know that while I am down in LA, I do have a nice network of people who “get it” that I can turn to when needed. And others, though they may not ‘get it’, who still want to uplift me in anyway they can.

In any case, it will be an adventure, to be sure. I have a feeling it will be a good test for me (to stay grounded in uncertain situations) and I know it will feed my creative spirit to work with these artists that I have so-long respected.

For those of you in LA, look me up while I’m down there! I’d love to see as many of you as I can. I am off to Seattle for a wedding this next week, and then will be hitting the city of Angels right after Labor Day. Much thanks to my long-time friend Fred (he’s really family at this point), who is letting me stay in his spare bedroom.

Twelfth Night opens the last weekend of September and runs through the second weekend of October. Shows are Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. More info to come.

3 responses to “L.A. Woman

  1. Kelly

    Hi, Haley. Thank you for sharing so freely. I don’t know if I’m one of the ones who ‘get it’ or one of the well-meaning friends who don’t, but I love you and I’m really looking forward to seeing you more in this coming month. Talk to you soon. ❤

  2. haleytheconqueror

    I love you too, Kelly. And whether you understand what I’m going through or not is inconsequential, as I’ve always known you to be someone who is rooting for me, no matter what. I hope we get to see a lot of one other this coming month 🙂

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