On Learning, Avoiding Debt, and Comics

I love to learn. LOVE IT. Like, to the point where an Excel workshop offered at work was one of the highlights of my week, because I got to sit in a classroom and learn a bunch of new skills. The singular reason I didn’t go to grad school was because of the cost. Isn’t that sad? As much as I would love an MFA in screenwriting/creative writing, the debt I would have would be unreasonably large–and look, I love writing, and it’s what I want to do with my life and all that jazz, but it isn’t (necessarily) the biggest money-maker, let alone guaranteed form of employment. Large debt + unsteady/uncertain employment = bad news bears. So I stayed with my rad full-time job (which I’m still at! yay work) and did the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instead, which I loved and would recommend to anyone looking to sharpen their writing skills.

I finished the program earlier this year, and after going a few months without classes, I started to get a little antsy. I can’t really afford another Extension class right now (either monetarily or time-wise), so instead I’m teaching myself the theory, structure, and language of comics (another area of writing I’m really passionate about) by reading the books pictured above. It’s more similar to screenwriting than prose (which is good for me!), but it’s still another language…or more like a very specific, local slang in a language you’re sort of familiar with.

I’m about halfway through Understanding Comics, which is a very theory-based book. I personally love delving into the theory behind any sort of communicative medium–I did, after all, major in Media Studies. Give me some Adorno, Barthes, or Habermas any day! However, I’d say in terms of learning to write a workable comics script for the modern day, I’m really loving Words for Pictures. It’s fantastic, easy-to-read, and really clear about the different ways to go about writing a comic. I’m excited to delve into Supergods, which is essentially a history of comics and superheroes in the context of what was and is happening in the real world. So much good stuff. It also keeps me busy–if I’m not working on my current projects, at least I’m learning something to apply to the next one.

And, of course, learning all of these things is an excuse to revisit some of my favorite comics yet again…for research, of course.

If you want to follow along with what I’m reading, add me on Goodreads!







Sometimes, work entails arriving at the TCL Chinese Theater at 7:30am on a Monday, which means getting to explore one of Hollywood’s oldest, most prestigious movie palaces without any of the usual tourist craziness. There’s something magical about movie theaters, especially old ones full of history and movie premieres. Getting to find that magic for myself firsthand was a pretty unique opportunity and I’m really glad I got to it–it was absolutely worth waking up early for.




Endings & Beginnings

Last week I received my Certificate in Feature Film Writing from UCLA Extension’s magnificent Writers’ Program. Honestly, I can’t say enough about what a wonderful experience it was. I started in the summer of 2012, and in my first class I met both one of my best friends and my mentor. Six classes and two and a half years later, I’m done. It took me longer than I wanted to finish — the benefits of working full-time while taking classes! — but I did it, I finished, and with a 4.0 to boot. There are a lot of folks who don’t take Extension classes seriously, but I think having the opposite mindset is why I got so much out of it. It’s odd to think that I’m done after all this time, but I’m excited to get to work on new projects and see what happens next.




Don’t You (Forget About Me)

I think one of the easiest ways to frustrate my parents is to refer to my brother as “The Smart One.” They immediately jump into why he’s not smarter, but smart in different ways. They think I’m being self-deprecating, but the truth of the matter is, I don’t think I’m not smart…I just think he’s smarter. Haha! In any case, he helped me prove my case because my little smarty-pants is going to Yale in the fall! I couldn’t be prouder.

Nick is a fairly private person, and I respect that. But I think the world (i.e. the five people who read this blog) should know what a kind, wonderful, compassionate person he is. He is the person who will always lend a hand to help or a shoulder to cry on, who will listen while you talk and give good, honest advice in response. Last week was his high school graduation, and it was clear how much of an effect he had on people. As far as I could see, he was the only kid to get not just a cheer, but a standing ovation as his name was called (it might also be because our last name is near the end of the alphabet and people were excited the roll-call was almost over ;)). He got individual shout-outs during people’s speeches. But more importantly, after the ceremony, there were tons of people who came up to give him a hug and tell him how much he meant to them–I was one of them. We were the last ones to leave the field that night, and though we were tired there were smiles on all our faces.

Nick is an extraordinary dude with the biggest heart. I can’t wait to see what he does in college and later, the world. I feel so lucky to have such a rad little brother; he inspires me to work harder, dream bigger, and be kinder. I am so, so proud of my baby brother.

(P.S.: that picture is one of my favorites I’ve ever taken and is an homage to one of Nick’s favorite movies, The Breakfast Club. Bet you’ve got the song stuck in your head now, right?)




Jurassic Park

Rewatching this 90’s classic with my best friends obviously required dino-shaped Jell-O jiggler shots* and rice kripsies. Obviously. It’s worth noting that the movie holds up incredibly well (I didn’t even realize how often I quote it!), and regardless of if the upcoming Jurassic World is any good, we’ll always have the original.

*If you’re looking to make the perfect Jell-O Jiggler Shot, the ratio is 1/2c of boiling water + 1/2c alcohol (I used rum, but most people use vodka) per 3oz packet of Jell-O. For a standard Jell-O shot, you can use 1c of each (boiling water + booze) per packet and pour into individual shot glasses.