The best and the worst of 2015 is enough to define me for at least the next 5 years. Although I sincerely hope that is not the case. I’m not sure is it’s a product of getting older or being more aware, but what I learned this year, is that things can turn on a dime and that it’s my responsibility to sit in those moments, no matter how micro they might be so that I don’t get whiplash.
I honestly can’t remember my mindset at the beginning of the year except to say, I was gonna DO SOME THANGS. Meaning, it was now or never as far as career and relationship went. “Time’s a wastin” as my momma says, and it was time to get on with things. On January 12th, I got a call (I know cause it was my mom’s birthday). It was the offer to direct an episode of “Pretty Little Liars.” So right there, my year was made.
Over the next several months, I prepared. I watched every single episode of the show as well as wrote some scripts of my own to get the creative juices flowing. This was such a dream come true, I didn’t want to blow it. Just to give you an idea about how that phone call felt, well- it was like the hottest dude ever, the one who had been denying me for the last three years, got down on his knee and said… “Will you marry me?” Um- yes, duh, like… I’ll totally, um, marry you, stud.
(Note: I’m currently at the local market writing this watching my ex-boyfriend in Scooby Doo… if you stay in the business long enough, you’ll be writing a blog about your year while watching your ex-boyfriend who is BLOND in a movie.)
Back to scene: Meanwhile, I ended one relationship and started another. This is good! Change is good! But my right side was going numb. I was having medical issues and wanted to find out what it was. Now, the only reason I had let my aches and pains go this far was because I have a dancer’s mentality- I’m pretty good at living with the pain. I had to quit boxing, which was a total bummer since it was a great way to get out my aggression. Lord knows I have a lot of it. When yoga started to hurt I knew that I couldn’t avoid the pain any longer. I had to find out what was going on with my body. If this was a movie, there would be this really cool montage of me going to all these amazing doctors, nutritionist, physical therapists and the like, on a quest for answers about my health. It’s not, it’s a blog, so pretend you’re wildly entertained at this moment and then… here we are at a neurologist’s office where he suggests that I do an MRI on my brain (just to rule things out.)
It was 4:30 pm on a Friday and the guy at the front desk asked if there was any chance I was pregnant. I said, “Sure, it’s a possibility…?” They insisted I do a pregnancy test before getting my brain scan. I agreed. Either way, I’ll be getting good news today, so let’s do it. The test was negative, so they loaded me into the big machine. It was SO LOUD. You know what I mean, if you’d had one. The only thing that kept me from losing my mind was imagining the sounds as a Bjork song and coming up with dance steps to the different beats. I’m a bit claustrophobic so I was proud for coming up with an interesting way to distract myself.
By the time I got out, it was 5:30pm and I asked the imaging dude for the results. He said I would have to wait for my doctor and I think he could sense the panic on my face about having to wait until Monday to speak with him. He asked me to wait in the parking structure and he brought out the printed results to me in my car, and we he ran away and I knew something was wrong. The paper said LARGE POSTERIOR CYST- seven and a half inches long and three and a half inches wide. I began to experience this moment as a filmmaker, carefully monitoring my thoughts, my breathing, and my behavior. In only what was realistically three seconds, I had decided everything in my life that had ever been important and how I was going to do spend the rest of my life (because clearly I was dying.) My life literally flashed before my eyes.
I called my boyfriend and then I called my doctor, knowing he wouldn’t answer but then he did. He told me not to worry, that he had been emailed the scans and that I didn’t have cancer and it was not a brain tumor. What I had was called an arachnoid cyst. What the what? “Arachnoid- like the movie, about people being scared of spiders?”, was all I thought. I drove home, thankful to be in rush hour traffic for once. I was still stunned by the fact that 15 min ago I thought I had 15 days to live. Or so I thought… holy shit.
Yup. I have penis on the brain. That large mass at the back of my brain that looks like a penis, is a cyst. Which isn’t a surprise for a lot of people who know me. But seriously, I found it very interesting that since I was little girl, I’ve said that I think like a dude and here was this very phallic shape resting inside my skull. He’s become a sort of buddy of mine. My trainer and I knick-named him DJ Bellum, cause he likes to scratch the record but stay anonymous in my brain, just chillin’ till the next gig.
After that, the year started to move pretty quickly. Summer was here and dang it was HOT. I live by the beach, you see and houses down here don’t have central air. Up until a few years ago, we didn’t need it! Now, with global warming and all that, there are a few weeks in the summer that are BRUTAL. Thankfully, my neighbor let’s me take a dip in her pool from time to time. Thanks Pammy.
This summer my beloved Melba passed away. She had a good run (she was 13yrs old) but I was a little sad she wasn’t going to meet the baby… I had just found out I was pregnant. Two weeks later I was in my office (OMG) over at “Pretty Little Liars” and I got a call from my doctor. The nurse came on the phone and to my surprise, told me I was having a girl. That was probably the best day of my life thus far, the one I will remember as “having it all.” It was the night before my first day of shooting. I was prepared. I was fulfilled.
The next seven days flew by. The cast and crew welcomed me with open arms and I was happy with my work. We had a good time, and it all fell into place. I was lucky. After that, we edited the show and I ended up hiring the editor on my next project, which I shot a couple months later.
“Hey Day” is inspired by my time growing up on a soap in the 80’s, so it was cathartic to write and direct the pilot to say the least. Chrissie Fit played the lead and was the most gracious, tenacious actress I’ve ever worked with and Finola Hughes, was well… Finola Hughes. She’s the greatest. How often do you get to work with or even direct your idol? What a pleasure I tell you. I love her dearly.
Then, one night, I emailed about a thousand dog rescues looking for a new dog. I was ready. The next morning, I picked one of the responses and drove to Lancaster to pick up my new pup- Jace, who is now “Handsome Jack.” He is my nugget, love bug, Jack-O-Lantern, sweet, sweet boy. And he knows how to charm the ladies. Three of my friends call him their boyfriend (you know who you are.) What can I say? He’s a ladies man. Modest isn’t a word I would use to describe him. Don’t act like you can’t tell from the pictures. As my grandmother would say, “Stop showing your everything Jack!”
My heart was so full and then it broke. I had lost my baby girl. It was too much. I didn’t need to learn this lesson. I wasn’t interested. But I wasn’t in control. These things happen and no, I don’t believe they happen “for a reason.” I’m still processing, still healing, but anyone who has gone through it knows, losing a baby at 22 weeks is tragic. One thing I am proud of however was that I allowed myself to be happy and to relish the moment. I sat in all that goodness and I can recall those feelings (when I’m having different ones) and hope that it can be like that again.
I finished “Hey Day” and am excited to get it out into the world next year. Spending time with Jack, my emotional support dog (ha) and dancing again (hip-hop) is how I ended out my year. I also got to spend time with my General Hospital family and see my good friend Jason Thompson off, hopefully to greener pastures. I’m really proud of the work we did, not just this go around but over the last ten years. I made a great friend (JT), I gained a TV Daughter (the most precious soul on the planet) and got to tell an important and at times, really fun story.
Not to go total Oprah on you, but at the end of this year and the beginning of the next, I am grateful for it all. Tired. But grateful.