Accidental Dating in Hollywood

Almost two years ago, I moved to the US from Australia. Dating in Australia was quite straight forward: you met a guy through a friend or work, you would get to know them in a non-threatening group situation, have a few drinks, make out, do the same thing another night… by the time you were sitting across from them at dinner, you were boyfriend and girlfriend. Or well on your way. To us, the act of eating food with someone is more intimate than anything else. Australian guys are pretty straight up: they ask you out, and you know you’re the only one they’re seeing. It’s simple. Or at least that’s how it was for me.

While the emergence of hipsters have confused things a little, for the most part, Australian guys are rugged manly men, and the Hemsworth brothers are the perfect representation. The kind who can fix your sink, kill a spider, and like… do things with their hands. But here in LA? Well, things are a little more confusing for me.

I met Frank* at a friend’s party shortly after moving. He was super fun, enjoyed doing the robot on the dance floor as much as I did, and together, we held pretend microphones and vamped to Lady Gaga. His jeans were skinnier than mine, he had great style, and judging by the straightness of his hair, he definitely knew how to wield a GHD.

“You’re great!” I said, excited to find a potential gay bestie in LA. “We should go out!”

“Ooooh I would love that!” cooed Frank. “Here’s my number.”

The next week I had a plus one for a movie screening, so I texted Frank to see if he’d like to be my date. I also suggested that we should grab dinner beforehand. We had a great time, and I felt comfortable with him. So, I told him all about my crazy dates, insecurities, the funny things about Los Angeles that I had begun to notice. He smiled warmly and nodded and laughed at my stories, especially the one about the awkward conversation I had while getting a bikini wax.

“You are wonderful!” I said, as I touched his arm affectionately. “We need to do this again!”

Afterwards, I raved about him to a mutual friend, Kim*. “I know,” agreed Kim. “He’s fabulous! We should all try and get tickets to see Kylie Minogue!”

“Great idea! I’ll suggest it when I see him next!”

A few days later I was sitting with Frank at another dinner. At the same time, Kim was at dinner with her boyfriend, (who was also Frank’s friend) Brent*.

“Frank’s having a great time dating Alicia,” said Brent casually. “He says she really likes him too. It’s going really well.”

“Wait…” said Kim, confused. “Isn’t he gay?”

“Frank? Hell no! No! Definitely not! Hang on… is that what Alicia thinks?”

In a panic, Kim grabbed her phone to text me, and feeling the vibration in my handbag I smiled at Frank and casually looked down to see who had messaged me.

In capital letters, this was what I saw: HE’S… NOT… GAY!

With a gasp I looked up at Frank, and images of our time together over the past few weeks flashed before my eyes. The touches on his arm. The long hugs. The asking him out. The telling him he’s wonderful. The complete dropping of my guard. Talking about Brazilian waxes! What was I thinking? No wonder he thought I was interested!

Though, while staring at him, I could see that yeah, he was kind of cute. I mean, I might have to hire someone to fix my sink if it ever broke. And I’d have to trap that spider and set it free outside myself. But, could he be a potential boyfriend? Could he teach me how to properly use my hair straightener? Would we go shopping together? Maybe he could help me find a ‘look.’ You’re supposed to have one of those, right? That would be fun!

“Why… are you looking at me strange?” Frank said, breaking into my sartorial fantasies.

“Oh,” I laughed, “Well… actually, it’s quite a funny story…”

Unfortunately Frank didn’t react too well to the idea that I had accidentally dated him, and he promptly stormed out of the restaurant.

Okay, so lesson learned. When dating in LA, don’t judge a book by its skinny jeans.

*Names changed to protect the innocent and so I don’t get into trouble.

This post was originally published on The Conversation

Taming Your Inner Critic

Growling with frustration at the ‘beach ball of death’ on my laptop screen, I realized it was time to clean out my hard drive. Simple tasks had become an exercise in patience, every click causing that dreaded round ball to pop up, halting work for a painful few minutes. It had gotten to the point that if I opened an application by mistake; I would have to cancel dinner plans. Stupid rainbow circle, I thought, searching through folders to find hidden files, you have no right to be so colorful. Then, I found the source of my storage issues. A folder within another folder, simply labeled ‘interviews’, and inside, a few Quicktime movies from 2007, 2008 and 2009; forgotten remnants from early in my career as an entertainment reporter. Clicking open, promising sacrifices to the beach ball God if it worked, and taking a deep breath, I hit play.

Instantly, I was transported back in time. Watching the younger version of me, I had to laugh. Who is that? I thought. And wow, what a strong Australian accent I had! Well, still have if I’m being honest. I remembered so clearly sitting in that chair, opposite that Hollywood celebrity, feeling incredibly nervous. These questions are horrible, I had thought at the time, I need more confidence. Can he tell I’m nervous? After the interview I had rushed back to the office to study the tapes, criticizing myself. I need to lose weight, I thought, grow my hair, wear better clothes. I am all wrong.

But now, I watched with a mixture of fascination and humor. “What was I so worried about?” I said out loud to myself, laughing. What I could see now is probably what I should have seen then. What other people would have seen. I was cute. I actually looked quite pretty. I didn’t seem nervous at all. Those questions were interesting and the star had responded well to them. I liked my outfit. My hair looked nice. I was slim, looked healthy. Why couldn’t I see it then? Of course, years later, I still do the same thing. Still watch my interviews with critical eyes. Still consider myself a work in progress, still forget in that moment of watching where I’ve been, the years of success I’ve had. I wondered if movie stars do the same thing. If it can be painful to watch yourself on the small screen, what would it be like on the big screen? In front of millions?

I started to ask that question of celebrities in my interviews. The familiar faces, the perfect, handcrafted-by-God-himself faces, the Oscar winning actor faces; overwhelmingly, they all said, “It’s awful watching myself! You never get used to it!” and “You know how you hate hearing your own voice on an answering machine? It’s like that, but so much worse!” Many admitted to never watching their own movies for this reason. I asked a famous director who stars in his own movies whether he can be objective with his own performance. “No. I’m so incredibly critical that I just can’t even watch,” he admitted, “Then occasionally you get to a little piece and think, that’s okay. We look at ourselves much more critically than others do. I’m not sure why that is!”

Surely, if there’s one person in the world who should always be supportive of me, it should be me. I should be my own best friend, my own cheerleader, ready to tough talk myself if necessary, but always there, in the mirror with a warm smile and a thought of: You’re alright, you!

So, I tried just that. A smile in the mirror with a cheeky wink for good measure. And I challenge you to do the same thing. Go to a mirror, stare at yourself without letting your thoughts stray to anything negative. Give your self a big ole smile. And a wink. See how it good feels.

This article was originally posted on The Conversation

So many crazy people in Hollywood… — I remarked, to my friends dog.
I Am Not An Adult.When I was 12, I dreamed of what life would be like once I became an adult. 30 years old… I thought, barely able to imagine such a thing. I’ll be married, working in television in a high-powered job, a great mother to three children. I’ll wear designer clothes and matching underwear by day, cook nutritious meals at night, my hair never moving from its perfectly coiffed bob. I had probably watched too many Hollywood romantic comedies. Now I am 30, and life looks much different.
Surrounded by a pile of unopened bills, I sit eating cereal for dinner, and consider accepting a date with a guy I don’t really like, on the off chance he may buy dinner and save my bank account from negative numbers. But then, I remember, I haven’t done my washing, and in any case my clothes are usually wrong, my underwear only matches by accident, and I can never get my hair to sit the way it should, having not mastered the mysterious art of the blow dryer. Occasionally, there is a small window of time where I find myself perfectly groomed; hair freshly cut and colored, nails manicured, eyebrows waxed, legs shaved, but all too soon everything is disheveled once more, overdue… and then some.
My to-do list mocks me with all the things I haven’t done, preferring to sit in the sun and read my book instead. At the end of each week, I vow to be better. Grabbing my notebook, I scribble all the ways I am going to be more productive. This week, I write, I will get up at 7am, be at the gym by 8am, work and run errands for the rest of the day. But then my morning alarm goes off, and a loud voice in my head convinces me that surely a flexible wake up time is the best thing about being a freelancer, and shouldn’t I take advantage of that? So I get up later, tick one simple task off my list, and give myself the day in the sun reading my book as a reward for being so productive.
There are small signs of adulthood here and there; a headshake at a careless teenager on a skateboard, outrage at young hooligans stealing cheese from my plate at a recent party, the use of the word hooligan in everyday conversation. And whenever I talk to someone below the age of 22, I definitely feel old.
I know adults exist. And ones my age too, Facebook has made me all too aware of this fact, my news feed bursting with shining faces of happy families, married, with kids and real jobs. I can barely look after myself and am frequently without a pen.
I tell one of my married mother friends my fears that I am not yet a grownup like she is, pointing to her Facebook photos as evidence, but to my surprise, she laughed. “Oh… I don’t feel like a adult!” she says, shaking her head.“Really?” I reply in disbelief, “But you’re a parent! You’re supposed to be wise and give sage advice and stuff.”“Mostly, I just wing it…” she confessed with a shrug, making me feel a whole lot better.
Maybe we never have everything completely together, feel like we are truly grown-up and able to call ourselves an adult? Maybe it’s all part of the inherent fun of being human, figuring things out right up to the end. Or maybe I’m just really disorganized. I’d make a note to think more about it, but I can’t seem to find a pen…
This article was originally posted on The Conversation

I Am Not An Adult.

When I was 12, I dreamed of what life would be like once I became an adult. 30 years old… I thought, barely able to imagine such a thing. I’ll be married, working in television in a high-powered job, a great mother to three children. I’ll wear designer clothes and matching underwear by day, cook nutritious meals at night, my hair never moving from its perfectly coiffed bob. I had probably watched too many Hollywood romantic comedies. Now I am 30, and life looks much different.

Surrounded by a pile of unopened bills, I sit eating cereal for dinner, and consider accepting a date with a guy I don’t really like, on the off chance he may buy dinner and save my bank account from negative numbers. But then, I remember, I haven’t done my washing, and in any case my clothes are usually wrong, my underwear only matches by accident, and I can never get my hair to sit the way it should, having not mastered the mysterious art of the blow dryer. Occasionally, there is a small window of time where I find myself perfectly groomed; hair freshly cut and colored, nails manicured, eyebrows waxed, legs shaved, but all too soon everything is disheveled once more, overdue… and then some.

My to-do list mocks me with all the things I haven’t done, preferring to sit in the sun and read my book instead. At the end of each week, I vow to be better. Grabbing my notebook, I scribble all the ways I am going to be more productive. This week, I write, I will get up at 7am, be at the gym by 8am, work and run errands for the rest of the day. But then my morning alarm goes off, and a loud voice in my head convinces me that surely a flexible wake up time is the best thing about being a freelancer, and shouldn’t I take advantage of that? So I get up later, tick one simple task off my list, and give myself the day in the sun reading my book as a reward for being so productive.

There are small signs of adulthood here and there; a headshake at a careless teenager on a skateboard, outrage at young hooligans stealing cheese from my plate at a recent party, the use of the word hooligan in everyday conversation. And whenever I talk to someone below the age of 22, I definitely feel old.

I know adults exist. And ones my age too, Facebook has made me all too aware of this fact, my news feed bursting with shining faces of happy families, married, with kids and real jobs. I can barely look after myself and am frequently without a pen.

I tell one of my married mother friends my fears that I am not yet a grownup like she is, pointing to her Facebook photos as evidence, but to my surprise, she laughed. “Oh… I don’t feel like a adult!” she says, shaking her head.
“Really?” I reply in disbelief, “But you’re a parent! You’re supposed to be wise and give sage advice and stuff.”
“Mostly, I just wing it…” she confessed with a shrug, making me feel a whole lot better.

Maybe we never have everything completely together, feel like we are truly grown-up and able to call ourselves an adult? Maybe it’s all part of the inherent fun of being human, figuring things out right up to the end. Or maybe I’m just really disorganized. I’d make a note to think more about it, but I can’t seem to find a pen…

This article was originally posted on The Conversation

Beer Pong
“Oh, beer pong? How do you play that?” I asked somewhat innocently to a table of shocked Americans.“You’ve… never played it? You… don’t know what beer pong is?” They looked at each other incredulously, and for a minute it seemed like the whole dinner party had stopped. The silence was piercing. Somewhere in the background, I swear someone coughed.“Well, I mean, of course I’ve seen it in movies… red cups!” I stammered. “But no, we don’t really play that in Australia.”

And with that statement, a plan was swiftly put in motion to introduce me to this very American game. It was decided that I simply could not live in the US without playing , it was a rite of passage, and yes, I would be allowed to pretend I was in a sorority (my request, I have secret cheerleader fantasies. That is, fantasies of being one, not… uh… yeah) One American at the table offered his upcoming birthday party as a venue for the game, possibly not thinking we’d actually take him up on it. 
But a week later, there we were, my two friends and I, crashing his small adult birthday drinks with loud proclaims of wanting beer pong, while his guests looked on with bewilderment. Luckily he had been pre-warned of our arrival, and swiftly extended the table, pulled out a stack of red solo cups (LIKE THE MOVIES!) ping pong balls, and cans of beer…  And at that moment I remembered I hate beer.
Being the brave soul that I am, I pushed on, and learnt that all the game involves is throwing a ball into a cup, if you get it in, the other team has to drink the beer in the cup, and the team to have all the cups gone wins. It’s highly unsanitary, but one of those weird games where you get better at with the more you drink (like darts, though probably less dangerous)
Turns out I have a natural knack for the ponging of beer and won the first game for me and the new friend I made by forcing him to be on my team. (Luckily he was already drunk when we got there, making it easy to convince him that we were sorority sisters from Pi Delta Gamma Beta)“Yeah! Go team!” I said encouragingly, in my best American accent.
Two games of beer pong were enough to get the gist, so the next game I was to be schooled in was flip cups. This again involved those iconic red cups and beer (which I changed to Pinot Grigio coz I’m fancy) with two teams racing each other to drink then flip the cup upside down. It’s a lot harder than you think when you’re under pressure, especially while making a ‘oh god I just chugged wine’ type face. I did feel like it was some sort of hazing into American culture, and for a brief moment I was inside the pretend sorority house of Pi Delta Gamma Beta, a cheerleader, letting loose on a Saturday night, drinking with football players. Then I realized how horrid that sounds, and my face screwed up again.
“What drinking games do Australians play?” one of the girls asked me when we got bored of playing.“None… I don’t think we play any… we just drink. No messing about, this takes too long and is too much effort!”
But that made me think if Australians did play beer pong, maybe it would slow people down, you couldn’t drink as much in as short space of time, so maybe you’d stop before you got too sick.
And that’s how I solved the underage binge drinking crisis in Australia* by using red cups from the movies.


*Problem not actually solved.

Beer Pong

“Oh, beer pong? How do you play that?” I asked somewhat innocently to a table of shocked Americans.
“You’ve… never played it? You… don’t know what beer pong is?” They looked at each other incredulously, and for a minute it seemed like the whole dinner party had stopped. The silence was piercing. Somewhere in the background, I swear someone coughed.
“Well, I mean, of course I’ve seen it in movies… red cups!” I stammered. “But no, we don’t really play that in Australia.”

And with that statement, a plan was swiftly put in motion to introduce me to this very American game. It was decided that I simply could not live in the US without playing , it was a rite of passage, and yes, I would be allowed to pretend I was in a sorority (my request, I have secret cheerleader fantasies. That is, fantasies of being one, not… uh… yeah) One American at the table offered his upcoming birthday party as a venue for the game, possibly not thinking we’d actually take him up on it. 

But a week later, there we were, my two friends and I, crashing his small adult birthday drinks with loud proclaims of wanting beer pong, while his guests looked on with bewilderment. Luckily he had been pre-warned of our arrival, and swiftly extended the table, pulled out a stack of red solo cups (LIKE THE MOVIES!) ping pong balls, and cans of beer…  And at that moment I remembered I hate beer.

Being the brave soul that I am, I pushed on, and learnt that all the game involves is throwing a ball into a cup, if you get it in, the other team has to drink the beer in the cup, and the team to have all the cups gone wins. It’s highly unsanitary, but one of those weird games where you get better at with the more you drink (like darts, though probably less dangerous)

Turns out I have a natural knack for the ponging of beer and won the first game for me and the new friend I made by forcing him to be on my team. (Luckily he was already drunk when we got there, making it easy to convince him that we were sorority sisters from Pi Delta Gamma Beta)
“Yeah! Go team!” I said encouragingly, in my best American accent.

Two games of beer pong were enough to get the gist, so the next game I was to be schooled in was flip cups. This again involved those iconic red cups and beer (which I changed to Pinot Grigio coz I’m fancy) with two teams racing each other to drink then flip the cup upside down. It’s a lot harder than you think when you’re under pressure, especially while making a ‘oh god I just chugged wine’ type face. I did feel like it was some sort of hazing into American culture, and for a brief moment I was inside the pretend sorority house of Pi Delta Gamma Beta, a cheerleader, letting loose on a Saturday night, drinking with football players. Then I realized how horrid that sounds, and my face screwed up again.

“What drinking games do Australians play?” one of the girls asked me when we got bored of playing.
“None… I don’t think we play any… we just drink. No messing about, this takes too long and is too much effort!”

But that made me think if Australians did play beer pong, maybe it would slow people down, you couldn’t drink as much in as short space of time, so maybe you’d stop before you got too sick.

And that’s how I solved the underage binge drinking crisis in Australia* by using red cups from the movies.

*Problem not actually solved.

Hooray For Hollywood“Hey, Alicia,” said Jenny, the fit gym instructor whose body I covet in every class, “this is another Australian.”I turned, still catching my breath, and looked straight into the eyes of a familiar face, belonging to a former hunk from an Australian soap opera I used to watch. “Hello mate, hows it going?” he said with a smile.“Oh hi!” I smiled back, and proceeded to fire off the usual questions one asks when faced with another Aussie… “Do you live here?” “How long have you been here for?” “Do you like it?” “What are you working on?” “What visa are you on?” and then chucked in a few jokes about Australian slang and how Americans don’t understand it just for good measure. 
‘Aussie Soapie’ had just moved over but already he was getting noticed, following the great trail blazed out by the many Aussie actors before him. There’s hardly a premiere or press junket for a big Hollywood movie where I don’t talk to an Australian; their directors praising them for their work ethic, good looks and down to earth attitude. 
Waving goodbye to Aussie Soapie, I walked over to my favourite café to write some emails and grab some food. Walking in, I immediately spotted another familiar face, a quite famous Australian actor.“Hi Alicia!” he exclaimed, recognising me from the various interviews I have done with him over the years.“Hey mate, how are you?” I said sheepishly, wishing as I gave him a hug that I wasn’t wearing gym clothes, no makeup and a heavy sweat. 
After catching up on all his recent accomplishments I sat down to bash out a round of emails. Being a freelancer, 80% of my work is hustling for more. It’s both exhausting and thrilling; a pat on the back knowing every pay cheque was hard won, then immediately trying to stem the rising tide of terror about where the next will come from.
A few minutes after ‘Famous Aussie’ said goodbye, a third familiar face walked into the café, a well-known Aussie comedic actor. I hid in the corner, not wanting to go through another round of “Um, sorry about the… uh… sweat… yeah, just did an exercise class… you know, it was, uh, pretty tough… obviously…”  Note to self: in Hollywood, you never know who you will bump into, so you’d better look good. All the freaking time.
After seeing ‘Aussie Soapie’, ‘Famous Aussie’ and ‘Aussie Comic’ in the space of twenty minutes, I couldn’t help wonder if this was some sort of sign. And not just about the importance of makeup.
All these actors are well established in their own right in Australia, but that doesn’t mean anything over here. They, like everyone else, have to start near the bottom, and work their way up. Tiny fish, gigantic pond. But seeing them all, having meetings, doing their own hustling, and remembering how well they have done so far, reminds me that breaking through is possible.
Moving overseas is intimidating in itself, but moving to Hollywood is a whole other thing. Nearly everyone here is not actually from here. They come from the mid-west, the south, and the east coast, from England, Australia, and Brazil. All have moved here to make their dreams happen, all have given up everything to give it a red hot go (as we would say).
Hollywood is a crazy town where everyone is a tiny step away from ‘making it’. Sometimes the only difference between them and the star walking the red carpet is one meeting with one person who might take one minute to let them to prove their talent. There are enough stories to back this up, to make the dream feel so close, but extremely far away at the same time (And this, I imagine, fuels quite a bit of delusion in people who might not actually have talent in the first place!)
Before I moved over here I had such an unshakable faith that everything would work out fine. I had no reason to think that, but of course because I did, everything was fine. In a year and a half I’ve done more than most. The next goal is working on US TV. And to do that, I need to get back to that feeling of ‘it will happen’. But each day I switch wildly from thinking ‘Why not me? I’m tops!’ to wanting to hide under my blanket forever and never come out. And I’m not even trying to be an actor. I just want to interview them for a moderately good living.
Some days, I have fantasies of running away to a villa in the South of France and writing a book, on a typewriter (of course). Other days, I’m a florist or a bookshop owner in a small town, where in true rom com style, the love of my life walks in, I do something awkward, and he falls for me instantly. He also happens to be a millionaire and look like Jake Gyllenhaal. Shhh… this is my dream so don’t ruin it.
But most days, I pinch myself with how lucky I am to be here. “Oh, I live just off Sunset Boulevard,” I catch myself saying. “Sunset. Boulevard.” I repeat. Coooool.I do what I love, and manage to do it without also working in a bar or waiting tables. And I have such a clear picture of where I want to be, I know it could happen, I just have to keep the faith and back myself 100%. 
One day, I’ll be interviewing those three Aussie actors on the red carpet at the Oscars, and I’ll mention the time I saw them, when I was sweaty and unkempt. And we will laugh and laugh, and then I’ll high five Angelina, blow a kiss to Clooney, say goodbye to my millions of TV viewers, and go home with husband Jake Gyllenhaal. Hey! Anything can happen in Hollywood.

Hooray For Hollywood

“Hey, Alicia,” said Jenny, the fit gym instructor whose body I covet in every class, “this is another Australian.”
I turned, still catching my breath, and looked straight into the eyes of a familiar face, belonging to a former hunk from an Australian soap opera I used to watch. 
“Hello mate, hows it going?” he said with a smile.
“Oh hi!” I smiled back, and proceeded to fire off the usual questions one asks when faced with another Aussie… “Do you live here?” “How long have you been here for?” “Do you like it?” “What are you working on?” “What visa are you on?” and then chucked in a few jokes about Australian slang and how Americans don’t understand it just for good measure. 

‘Aussie Soapie’ had just moved over but already he was getting noticed, following the great trail blazed out by the many Aussie actors before him. There’s hardly a premiere or press junket for a big Hollywood movie where I don’t talk to an Australian; their directors praising them for their work ethic, good looks and down to earth attitude. 

Waving goodbye to Aussie Soapie, I walked over to my favourite café to write some emails and grab some food. Walking in, I immediately spotted another familiar face, a quite famous Australian actor.
“Hi Alicia!” he exclaimed, recognising me from the various interviews I have done with him over the years.
“Hey mate, how are you?” I said sheepishly, wishing as I gave him a hug that I wasn’t wearing gym clothes, no makeup and a heavy sweat. 

After catching up on all his recent accomplishments I sat down to bash out a round of emails. Being a freelancer, 80% of my work is hustling for more. It’s both exhausting and thrilling; a pat on the back knowing every pay cheque was hard won, then immediately trying to stem the rising tide of terror about where the next will come from.

A few minutes after ‘Famous Aussie’ said goodbye, a third familiar face walked into the café, a well-known Aussie comedic actor. I hid in the corner, not wanting to go through another round of “Um, sorry about the… uh… sweat… yeah, just did an exercise class… you know, it was, uh, pretty tough… obviously…”
Note to self: in Hollywood, you never know who you will bump into, so you’d better look good. All the freaking time.

After seeing ‘Aussie Soapie’, ‘Famous Aussie’ and ‘Aussie Comic’ in the space of twenty minutes, I couldn’t help wonder if this was some sort of sign. And not just about the importance of makeup.

All these actors are well established in their own right in Australia, but that doesn’t mean anything over here. They, like everyone else, have to start near the bottom, and work their way up. Tiny fish, gigantic pond. But seeing them all, having meetings, doing their own hustling, and remembering how well they have done so far, reminds me that breaking through is possible.

Moving overseas is intimidating in itself, but moving to Hollywood is a whole other thing. Nearly everyone here is not actually from here. They come from the mid-west, the south, and the east coast, from England, Australia, and Brazil. All have moved here to make their dreams happen, all have given up everything to give it a red hot go (as we would say).

Hollywood is a crazy town where everyone is a tiny step away from ‘making it’. Sometimes the only difference between them and the star walking the red carpet is one meeting with one person who might take one minute to let them to prove their talent. There are enough stories to back this up, to make the dream feel so close, but extremely far away at the same time (And this, I imagine, fuels quite a bit of delusion in people who might not actually have talent in the first place!)

Before I moved over here I had such an unshakable faith that everything would work out fine. I had no reason to think that, but of course because I did, everything was fine. In a year and a half I’ve done more than most. The next goal is working on US TV. And to do that, I need to get back to that feeling of ‘it will happen’. But each day I switch wildly from thinking ‘Why not me? I’m tops!’ to wanting to hide under my blanket forever and never come out. And I’m not even trying to be an actor. I just want to interview them for a moderately good living.

Some days, I have fantasies of running away to a villa in the South of France and writing a book, on a typewriter (of course). Other days, I’m a florist or a bookshop owner in a small town, where in true rom com style, the love of my life walks in, I do something awkward, and he falls for me instantly. He also happens to be a millionaire and look like Jake Gyllenhaal. Shhh… this is my dream so don’t ruin it.

But most days, I pinch myself with how lucky I am to be here. “Oh, I live just off Sunset Boulevard,” I catch myself saying. “Sunset. Boulevard.” I repeat. Coooool.
I do what I love, and manage to do it without also working in a bar or waiting tables. And I have such a clear picture of where I want to be, I know it could happen, I just have to keep the faith and back myself 100%. 

One day, I’ll be interviewing those three Aussie actors on the red carpet at the Oscars, and I’ll mention the time I saw them, when I was sweaty and unkempt. And we will laugh and laugh, and then I’ll high five Angelina, blow a kiss to Clooney, say goodbye to my millions of TV viewers, and go home with husband Jake Gyllenhaal.
Hey! Anything can happen in Hollywood.

(last known photo and location of the handbag)
Lately, I’ve been thinking about doing something radical. Something so extreme, the idea fills me with equal parts terror and glee. The idea: deleting myself off Twitter and Facebook.
Yes, I know, I’m sure my 1,500 twitter followers and 300 facebook friends would be really disappointed. That sarcasm is intended, I don’t fool myself that my contributions are important to the universe in any way. But the question is… could I let go? 
This idea came to me as a result of getting my handbag stolen during the Cannes Film Festival. It was unfortunate, annoying, and upsetting, but totally my fault for putting a Chanel bag down at a nightclub, then drinking champagne and dancing without paying attention. The aftermath was a sorry sight… me crying at 5am, hobbling down the empty street with hurty feet from too much dancing, my friend holding me up and guiding me towards her place to borrow her phone and cancel all my cards.
Inside my bag was my wallet, iPhone, and press pass for the festival. The next day I went to get a new pass, and was told I needed a police report to prove it was stolen. Outside it was pouring with rain and so windy, the umbrella I bought for 10 borrowed euros instantly turned inside out. So I made my way through the crowded streets of Cannes with a broken umbrella fashioned into a hat. Water was streaming down my arms, making my moisturized hands slippery. Giving my hand a shake to get rid of the water, my favorite ring flew off my finger, into the air and… straight down a water drain. No bounce. All I could do was laugh.
The next hour was spent at the police station uttering broken French to the non-English speaking officers. It was like a sad game of charades, with me miming everything from ‘drivers license’ to ‘reporter for the festival’. But I had learnt during a previous trip to France not to mime ‘film reporter’ by holding a pretend microphone to my face and saying ‘movies’… try it, and you’ll see it looks remarkably like I’m saying ‘I’m a porn actress’.
Luckily, thanks to a steady diet of French films from an early age, I understood everything the officer was saying to me, including, weirdly, “I would like your Cannes Film Festival bag”. Seems a little harsh to ask for the only bag I had left, but I guess he really liked the look of it. I ended up promising I’d be back to give him another one… then never returned.
With a new press pass, and borrowed money from friends, I survived the next three weeks without credit cards or a phone. I actually enjoyed it: life gets simple when you only have cash. Except for checking into hotels, as I discovered.
Arriving into London from Cannes at midnight I caught the last shuttle bus to the Heathrow Holiday Inn, where I had booked a room online using my sisters’ credit card. The confirmation email stated if you didn’t show up for the reservation, they would charge the card you gave. So, I thought, they could do that if I don’t turn up, surely they could charge it in the same way if I do.
“Ok,” said the weary hotel clerk, “I just need a credit card and ID to check you in.”I put my (luckily not stolen) passport on the counter and pasted on my most charming smile. “Here’s the thing…” I started, and told him of my sad story.“That’s interesting,” he said, not smiling back, “But I still need a credit card to swipe.”“But I don’t have a credit card…”“Well I need one.”“But… ok, how about cash? When I booked it said 75 pounds for the room, right?” I asked, pulling out my crumpled bills.“No, with taxes it’s 96 pounds,” he said, counting my money, “And you only have 91.”“Oh come on! Have a heart!”“Sorry. You’ll have to go somewhere else.”
This is my life, I thought, just this morning I was interviewing Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey in front of a magnificent view of glamorous Cannes, and now? I’m considering sleeping on the floor of the Heathrow Airport.
Eventually he explained if I could contact my sister and get her to fill out forms authorizing the use of her card, he could check me in. It was my only option left, after my suggestion of sleeping on the couch in the foyer was shut down. I was only going to be there for a total of 7 hours, as the bus to my friend’s place in the country would be leaving early in the morning.
Grabbing my laptop I tried in vein to contact anyone who was on skype, knowing that at 8am on a Sunday morning in Australia, there wouldn’t be much chance of getting help. Filling in time, I answered an old email from the same friend who helped me on the night my bag was stolen, telling her about what was happening, not thinking at 1am in the morning (she was in Prague traveling) she would actually reply. But luckily, she did, and agreed to let me borrow her card, spending the next hour emailing back and forth with the hotel until it was all sorted. If I didn’t have friends, I don’t know where I would be. 
Now I’m back in LA and slowly replacing everything. Of course, not being a proper capable adult, I didn’t have travel insurance, or insurance on my phone, and the idea of spending $750 on a new iPhone, when the iPhone 5 will (maybe) come out soon doesn’t appeal. So it’s been three weeks without an iPhone, and in that time, I’ve read four books. Every time I would usually be obsessively checking it, I brought out a book. I’ve also had to relearn the art of just sitting and looking at… nothing. Surprisingly, it’s been nice to be out of that never-ending loop of checking facebook, twitter, instagram, email, repeat. Though I noticed how often my friends are lost in it, as I sat at a table of 8 people,  and was the only one not looking at a phone. 
If you’re as addicted to technology as I was, you’re never really present. Looking at your phone, you’re only half listening, only half aware of what is going on around you. You’re communicating, sure, but not with the people you are actually with. I can’t think of the last time I went to dinner and someone didn’t look at their phone at least once. Myself included.
So as much as I miss the camera and the music and the cool apps, I’m kind of enjoying not having an iPhone. Though of course I jump straight onto my laptop as soon as I get home to check what I have missed. The addiction is still there.
I do love Twitter for the instant news, how you can quickly scan the headlines to see what is going on in the world. With Facebook, now I’m living in another country, it’s nice to keep up with people who are back in Australia. And Instagram is fun, a cool way to see what my friends are looking at. Except often, these social networks just end up making me feel bad about myself.
Facebook is everyone’s best versions of themselves. The cutest photos, the status updates detailing what amazing things they’re up to, everything is a carefully moderated way of showing off. I know I never post when I am having a bad day, but when I am interviewing George Clooney? You betcha!
But I still can’t help feeling a pang of terror when I see old school friends getting engaged, married, having kids. All things I don’t necessarily want to do right now, but feel like I should. And the more people who do, the more I feel I’m being left behind. Recently two friends got engaged, and while I’m happy for them of course, I remember distinctly having conversations with both about the hopelessness of dating and lack of good men. They were supposed to be on my team! I irrationally think. They deserted me!
Twitter is a popularity contest. Plain and simple. Celebrities have millions of followers whether they tweet or not. And that follower number is there for everyone to see. What does it mean to have followers? I don’t really know. All I know is I can’t help comparing my number to others, and feeling like the lowness of it somehow is related to how interesting I am as a person.
And then there’s the stress of feeling like you have to constantly update, check and be involved. The time wasting, the effort that goes into it, it’s just one more thing I have to do, and not that productive either.
Imagining not having any of these technologies is exciting, but truthfully I probably won’t quit them. As well as being a connection back to my home country, they are great business tools, for communicating with people in a way you have never been able to before, keeping up contacts, and marketing yourself.
I think I just need to learn moderation, to limit the looking and checking and comparing. To find self worth in other ways. Or maybe I will just quit them all and run away to hide. We’ll see.

(last known photo and location of the handbag)

Lately, I’ve been thinking about doing something radical. Something so extreme, the idea fills me with equal parts terror and glee. The idea: deleting myself off Twitter and Facebook.

Yes, I know, I’m sure my 1,500 twitter followers and 300 facebook friends would be really disappointed. That sarcasm is intended, I don’t fool myself that my contributions are important to the universe in any way. But the question is… could I let go? 

This idea came to me as a result of getting my handbag stolen during the Cannes Film Festival. It was unfortunate, annoying, and upsetting, but totally my fault for putting a Chanel bag down at a nightclub, then drinking champagne and dancing without paying attention. The aftermath was a sorry sight… me crying at 5am, hobbling down the empty street with hurty feet from too much dancing, my friend holding me up and guiding me towards her place to borrow her phone and cancel all my cards.

Inside my bag was my wallet, iPhone, and press pass for the festival. The next day I went to get a new pass, and was told I needed a police report to prove it was stolen. Outside it was pouring with rain and so windy, the umbrella I bought for 10 borrowed euros instantly turned inside out. So I made my way through the crowded streets of Cannes with a broken umbrella fashioned into a hat. Water was streaming down my arms, making my moisturized hands slippery. Giving my hand a shake to get rid of the water, my favorite ring flew off my finger, into the air and… straight down a water drain. No bounce. All I could do was laugh.

The next hour was spent at the police station uttering broken French to the non-English speaking officers. It was like a sad game of charades, with me miming everything from ‘drivers license’ to ‘reporter for the festival’. But I had learnt during a previous trip to France not to mime ‘film reporter’ by holding a pretend microphone to my face and saying ‘movies’… try it, and you’ll see it looks remarkably like I’m saying ‘I’m a porn actress’.

Luckily, thanks to a steady diet of French films from an early age, I understood everything the officer was saying to me, including, weirdly, “I would like your Cannes Film Festival bag”. Seems a little harsh to ask for the only bag I had left, but I guess he really liked the look of it. I ended up promising I’d be back to give him another one… then never returned.

With a new press pass, and borrowed money from friends, I survived the next three weeks without credit cards or a phone. I actually enjoyed it: life gets simple when you only have cash. Except for checking into hotels, as I discovered.

Arriving into London from Cannes at midnight I caught the last shuttle bus to the Heathrow Holiday Inn, where I had booked a room online using my sisters’ credit card. The confirmation email stated if you didn’t show up for the reservation, they would charge the card you gave. So, I thought, they could do that if I don’t turn up, surely they could charge it in the same way if I do.

“Ok,” said the weary hotel clerk, “I just need a credit card and ID to check you in.”
I put my (luckily not stolen) passport on the counter and pasted on my most charming smile. “Here’s the thing…” I started, and told him of my sad story.
“That’s interesting,” he said, not smiling back, “But I still need a credit card to swipe.”
“But I don’t have a credit card…”
“Well I need one.”
“But… ok, how about cash? When I booked it said 75 pounds for the room, right?” I asked, pulling out my crumpled bills.
“No, with taxes it’s 96 pounds,” he said, counting my money, “And you only have 91.”
“Oh come on! Have a heart!”
“Sorry. You’ll have to go somewhere else.”

This is my life, I thought, just this morning I was interviewing Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey in front of a magnificent view of glamorous Cannes, and now? I’m considering sleeping on the floor of the Heathrow Airport.

Eventually he explained if I could contact my sister and get her to fill out forms authorizing the use of her card, he could check me in. It was my only option left, after my suggestion of sleeping on the couch in the foyer was shut down. I was only going to be there for a total of 7 hours, as the bus to my friend’s place in the country would be leaving early in the morning.

Grabbing my laptop I tried in vein to contact anyone who was on skype, knowing that at 8am on a Sunday morning in Australia, there wouldn’t be much chance of getting help. Filling in time, I answered an old email from the same friend who helped me on the night my bag was stolen, telling her about what was happening, not thinking at 1am in the morning (she was in Prague traveling) she would actually reply. But luckily, she did, and agreed to let me borrow her card, spending the next hour emailing back and forth with the hotel until it was all sorted. If I didn’t have friends, I don’t know where I would be. 

Now I’m back in LA and slowly replacing everything. Of course, not being a proper capable adult, I didn’t have travel insurance, or insurance on my phone, and the idea of spending $750 on a new iPhone, when the iPhone 5 will (maybe) come out soon doesn’t appeal. So it’s been three weeks without an iPhone, and in that time, I’ve read four books. Every time I would usually be obsessively checking it, I brought out a book. I’ve also had to relearn the art of just sitting and looking at… nothing. Surprisingly, it’s been nice to be out of that never-ending loop of checking facebook, twitter, instagram, email, repeat. Though I noticed how often my friends are lost in it, as I sat at a table of 8 people,  and was the only one not looking at a phone. 

If you’re as addicted to technology as I was, you’re never really present. Looking at your phone, you’re only half listening, only half aware of what is going on around you. You’re communicating, sure, but not with the people you are actually with. I can’t think of the last time I went to dinner and someone didn’t look at their phone at least once. Myself included.

So as much as I miss the camera and the music and the cool apps, I’m kind of enjoying not having an iPhone. Though of course I jump straight onto my laptop as soon as I get home to check what I have missed. The addiction is still there.

I do love Twitter for the instant news, how you can quickly scan the headlines to see what is going on in the world. With Facebook, now I’m living in another country, it’s nice to keep up with people who are back in Australia. And Instagram is fun, a cool way to see what my friends are looking at. Except often, these social networks just end up making me feel bad about myself.

Facebook is everyone’s best versions of themselves. The cutest photos, the status updates detailing what amazing things they’re up to, everything is a carefully moderated way of showing off. I know I never post when I am having a bad day, but when I am interviewing George Clooney? You betcha!

But I still can’t help feeling a pang of terror when I see old school friends getting engaged, married, having kids. All things I don’t necessarily want to do right now, but feel like I should. And the more people who do, the more I feel I’m being left behind. Recently two friends got engaged, and while I’m happy for them of course, I remember distinctly having conversations with both about the hopelessness of dating and lack of good men. They were supposed to be on my team! I irrationally think. They deserted me!

Twitter is a popularity contest. Plain and simple. Celebrities have millions of followers whether they tweet or not. And that follower number is there for everyone to see. What does it mean to have followers? I don’t really know. All I know is I can’t help comparing my number to others, and feeling like the lowness of it somehow is related to how interesting I am as a person.

And then there’s the stress of feeling like you have to constantly update, check and be involved. The time wasting, the effort that goes into it, it’s just one more thing I have to do, and not that productive either.

Imagining not having any of these technologies is exciting, but truthfully I probably won’t quit them. As well as being a connection back to my home country, they are great business tools, for communicating with people in a way you have never been able to before, keeping up contacts, and marketing yourself.

I think I just need to learn moderation, to limit the looking and checking and comparing. To find self worth in other ways. Or maybe I will just quit them all and run away to hide. We’ll see.

Nadia (while we were in Cannes): We should try and watch the eclipse tonight!
Me: Oh no, I think that is only happening in LA…
— The dumbest thing I have ever said. This was after seeing multiple tweets and Facebook posts from friends in LA watching the eclipse.
I was so ensconced in Instagram, sitting at that red light, so absorbed with staring at my friends photos, that I didn’t even see him coming. A sudden knock at my window made me jump and in the second it took to swivel my head towards the noise, my mind raced with the possibilities of what it could be. A crazy drunk person? A crazy homeless person? A crazy motorbike rider? Instead, I saw a policeman. An angry looking policeman. On a bicycle."Oh phew!" I smiled as I wound down the window. "You scared me!""What are you doing on your phone?" he demanded."Umm… looking at directions while at a red light?" I offered, hopefully."No you weren’t. You were looking at pictures. Give me your phone. And pull over around the corner."Whoopsies. Didn’t know you couldn’t use your phone while at a red light. I was insta-busted.Once around the corner, the policeman peered into my car and looked me up and down. Heavy set, his dark skin contrasted with his tight, white lycra uniform. Police on bikes. Who knew!"License and registration please." He informed me."Oooh!" I said, grinning and reaching for my glovebox, "This is just like a movie!"He didn’t smile as he took my paperwork, leaving me to awkward silence in my car. 
Pedestrians walking past peered in to look at me, wondering what I did wrong. I tried to assemble my face to resemble someone who would be busted for something cool, but I couldn’t think of what that would be, nor could I manage to look any less sweet than I naturally do.
"Is this your current address Miss Malone?" asked the policeman, pointing to my license."Yes it is. But more importantly, do you prefer my hair red or blonde?"He didn’t get the joke. Sighing, he said “I don’t know. But anyway, thank you for stopping. Most people drive off.”"Aw damn! I didn’t know that was an option!" I replied, but my nervous laugh was merely met with a raised eyebrow.
After a long ten minutes he handed me a ticket for $50, explaining that it wouldn’t count against my driving record, and that I could fight it in court if I wanted. He paused, looked at me, leaned into the car and said. ”I’m sorry about this. They’ve been on our backs to target texting and driving. You seem nice. Just don’t let me catch you doing it again ok?”"Ok," I said, taking my phone back from him, "I just have to tweet about it, and THEN I’m done." He stared, imaginary steam coming out of his ears. “I’m just joking!” I smiled."Oh, ok then, bye Miss Malone." He turned and climbed awkwardly on his bike, the lycra an obvious hazard in getting his leg over.I guess it’s hard to have a sense of humor in that outfit. 

I was so ensconced in Instagram, sitting at that red light, so absorbed with staring at my friends photos, that I didn’t even see him coming. A sudden knock at my window made me jump and in the second it took to swivel my head towards the noise, my mind raced with the possibilities of what it could be. A crazy drunk person? A crazy homeless person? A crazy motorbike rider? Instead, I saw a policeman. An angry looking policeman. On a bicycle.

"Oh phew!" I smiled as I wound down the window. "You scared me!"
"What are you doing on your phone?" he demanded.
"Umm… looking at directions while at a red light?" I offered, hopefully.
"No you weren’t. You were looking at pictures. Give me your phone. And pull over around the corner."
Whoopsies. Didn’t know you couldn’t use your phone while at a red light. I was insta-busted.

Once around the corner, the policeman peered into my car and looked me up and down. Heavy set, his dark skin contrasted with his tight, white lycra uniform. Police on bikes. Who knew!

"License and registration please." He informed me.
"Oooh!" I said, grinning and reaching for my glovebox, "This is just like a movie!"
He didn’t smile as he took my paperwork, leaving me to awkward silence in my car.

Pedestrians walking past peered in to look at me, wondering what I did wrong. I tried to assemble my face to resemble someone who would be busted for something cool, but I couldn’t think of what that would be, nor could I manage to look any less sweet than I naturally do.

"Is this your current address Miss Malone?" asked the policeman, pointing to my license.
"Yes it is. But more importantly, do you prefer my hair red or blonde?"
He didn’t get the joke. Sighing, he said “I don’t know. But anyway, thank you for stopping. Most people drive off.”
"Aw damn! I didn’t know that was an option!" I replied, but my nervous laugh was merely met with a raised eyebrow.

After a long ten minutes he handed me a ticket for $50, explaining that it wouldn’t count against my driving record, and that I could fight it in court if I wanted. He paused, looked at me, leaned into the car and said. ”I’m sorry about this. They’ve been on our backs to target texting and driving. You seem nice. Just don’t let me catch you doing it again ok?”
"Ok," I said, taking my phone back from him, "I just have to tweet about it, and THEN I’m done."
He stared, imaginary steam coming out of his ears. “I’m just joking!” I smiled.
"Oh, ok then, bye Miss Malone." He turned and climbed awkwardly on his bike, the lycra an obvious hazard in getting his leg over.
I guess it’s hard to have a sense of humor in that outfit. 

I’m usually more of a film festival girl, rather than a music festival one. I don’t know the cool bands and the idea of standing in large crowds does not appeal. But when I was offered a ticket to go, I decided to just say yes and see what happens. And despite the heat which caused me to sweat and abandon all hope of being a chic festival goer, I had FUN. Here are some notes from a weekend at Coachella.

Coachella: a study in how little clothing girls can wear without being arrested. A girl in front of me was wearing tiny sequined hotpants. And then she dropped her phone.

It must have been easier to photo bomb in the pre-digital age.

A man wearing a large crown on his head approached us, worried look on his face.
"Hey have you guys seen a pharaoh??"

Two revelations: Extreme weather is not a good look for me. And I never know what to do with my hands during rock concerts. I finally settled on an awkward shimmy and occasional click.

There are so many hipsters at Coachella, it would be more hipster to not be one.