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
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.