“Hike Runyon Canyon!”, they said……….

It’s that wonderful time of year known as Pilot Season!!! The birds are singing, people are hopeful, all is possible! On a few of the stage mom groups I’m in, the following query is showing up quite a bit: “Heading out to LA for our VERY FIRST pilot season (eeeep! SO excited!). What are some fun things to do out there? (aaaaaaaagh! CAN.NOT.WAIT!!!!!!!)  As a veteran of not one, but five total pilot seasons in LA, I thought I might address this topic.

Let me describe what actually happens on a day to day basis when you come to LA for pilot season. You are in a rented apartment/house with none of your own things, and none of your own people except other acting families that you may know that are out here at the same time, several of which you probably don’t even like because “They are CRAY CRAY!”  Because you don’t have a life here, or roots, you end up doing several things in a continual loop: School; wait for auditions; marvel at how costly this city is; more school; prep for an audition; go on an audition; wait; take out a 2nd mortgage to pay for parking and groceries; more school.

I was bored just writing that so you can imagine how boring it is to live it. To combat this, you start reaching for other things to fill your time. The Santa Monica pier, The Getty Museum, The LaBrea Tar Pits. You do these things not because you actually like doing them, or would do them of your own free will, but because if you do not do them, you are doing nothing but school; wait for auditions; go on auditions; hold up signs asking for money on the exit ramp of the 101; edge toward insanity.

In the first couple of trips to LA, we were full of enthusiasm. We went to Santa Monica and Malibu (“Paradise Cove is SO GREAT!”), we rode bikes along the beach in Venice. However, we learned early on that doing anything in LA is usually a laborious affair because SO. MANY. PEOPLE., and our enthusiasm began to wane.

When I made them go to the beach (It’s a beautiful day! Let’s get outside!), the temperature on the coast was 15 degrees colder than in the valley. And the sun went into hiding. We sat on our blanket huddled in sweatshirts and watching all the smart people who had wetsuits swim. Fail. When we went to Griffith Observatory, (It’ll be SO interesting ya’ll, you can see the Hollywood sign!) half of the known universe decided to visit on the same day. It took us so long to get up the hill into the parking lot that we no longer cared about observing anything.

The phrase, “Come on guys! It’ll be fun!” began to terrify them because no matter what I tried to do to get us out of the house and experiencing LA life, by the time we found parking (epic feat), fought our way through the crowds (don’t these people work!?), and did the activity (I’m only pretending to have fun with this dumb activity), I would wonder why anyone leaves their house in the first place. Doing anything FUN in LA is FUN in the same way taking a toddler to Disney World seems like it’ll be FUN. In theory, it’s going to be the BEST DAY EVER! In reality, you wish you were dead by 10 a.m.

So when I suggested hiking Runyon Canyon because “it’ll be so fun guys!”, they were not fooled.  They whined. They complained. They chained themselves to ipads. “Children! That is IT!” I raged. “I am so sick to death of you wanting to do nothing but stay indoors like a bunch of social recluses. We are going to get out of this house and DO SOMETHING if it kills all of us (foreshadowing). Now get your dang sneakers and slap some sunscreen on because we are hiking freaking Runyon Canyon!”

And now, here is my account of that experience:

I enlisted my two good friends, Shari and Angie, and their child actor moppets to join us, packed a backpack with three water bottles (we’ll only need one each, right?) shoved my two indoor children into the car and off we went. Except, like I said, whenever you say “off we went”, in Los Angeles it’s always just “off we sort of went,” especially when where you have to go involves Highland Avenue. Don’t ever, ever drive on Highland Avenue.

By the time we arrived, it was already noon. I had promised the boys Chick Fil A for lunch and we hadn’t even started hiking yet. My need to pee was met with the information that there are no bathrooms at Runyon, so I had to begin our hike with a side trip up a short trail behind a discreet cactus. The boys just rolled their eyes and started without me. “Shut up!” I yelled after them. “You pooped your pants every five minutes once upon a time!”

Once I drip dried, I was ready to roll and pretend I loved everything.   “Ahhhhhhh!” I breathed. “Smell this air boys! Hear those birds? This is what we call nature!”

No reply. They just continued to trudge up the initial ascent, resentment wafting off of them in clouds. Of course Angie and Shari’s kids seemed to be straight out of the pages of Nature Walk, with their happy skipping and pointing and ooh ahh-ing, making me feel as though I’d failed the 4-H portion of parenting.

I shielded my eyes and looked up. “Good Lord!” I shouted. “Look at those crazy people up there!” We all looked up to the very very tippy top of possibility and saw several specks of humanity standing in triumph. It was so high I couldn’t even see the trail that led them there, but even from way down here, I could tell they were the type of people with 0% body fat that did this sort of thing with bags of rocks on their backs. Idiots. Seeing the apprehension on Matt and Macsen’s face I assured them that we would not be joining those wierdo earthy crunchies. We were from the suburbs, and would do the trail most recommended for families. A pleasant 1.7 mile route that was elevated enough to see all of LA and feel accomplished, but not so high that the air would thin. We began our trek and the boys, spurred on to greatness by Michael, a fun 18 year old boy that was living with us at the time, actually began to run. This left me to chat amiably to Shari and Angie about how the entertainment business made us want to kill ourselves. And then five words were uttered that changed the course of the day forever.

“I wonder where this goes?”

It was Michael, pointing up a steep rocky incline. Sort of a trail, in that you could tell people had climbed up there before, but where hand holds were necessary. “I don’t know Michael….” I hedged. “I don’t even see that on the map. That might be a little much for these little guys (me).”

“What!?” Macsen squawked. “Mom, I can get up there easy!”

“Yeah, it doesn’t look that hard,” Matt agreed. “Let’s do it!”

What was this? My PS4 addicted offspring were showing enthusiasm whilst outside? Not wanting to stifle this moment, I watched as they and the rest of the gang scrambled up. Grumbling, I holstered my now 1/2 empty water bottle and dug in after them. I gave birth to four children, surely I could climb a few rocks.

Dear God, my heart. By the time I reached the top of the ledge, it was pounding so hard that I literally thought this is what it must feel like to have a heart attack.  But I felt accomplished aside from one small problem.   There was no way to get back to the “easy trail” without climbing BACK down the steep rock wall we had just climbed up which seemed a treacherous move without ropes and caribeaners. We would have to find a different way down.

We continued on for 30 minutes or so, looking for said “way” to no avail.  Angie, Shari and I huddled around our phones looking at the map of the Canyon, trying to figure out which way to go. We drained the last of our water, and the kids began to look irritated and floppy. With thinly veiled panic, I blurted out, “Look how high up we are guys! I can see the Hollywood sign way over there! Picture! C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! We did it! Yay!  Everybody look happy!”

They did not look happy.

Finally, a rescuer I’ll call “nice biker boy” came by. I have no idea how one would get a bike up to where we were aside from dropping down from the sky.

 “Where do ya’ll wanna head?” nice biker boy asked.

“Down,” I said.

“Oh sure, you just wanna follow the trail over yonder to those wooden stairs down there and you’ll be headed right down. It’s pretty easy.”

It was not pretty easy. There were steep declines that were almost harder than the inclines. Macsen’s feet went out from under him and he scraped his hands all up. There were narrow passages where the rock wall fell off sharply into the ravine below. Anyone who fell off was not coming back up. I can’t be certain, but at one point I think I spied an unfortunate hiker laying listlessly at the bottom. He waved feebly at me as if to say, “It’s ok, I know it’s too late for me, you go ahead.”

Every time I would think this has to be the last little bit here, we would round another corner and be faced with yet another rocky crag of desert wall. It was like ground hog day, but with hiking. We had no water left, my legs were literally shaking like I was withdrawing from heroin. At one point I shouted, “I DID NOT ASK TO SCALE KILIMANJARO!”, fruitlessly to the sky.

Hours passed. The sun beat down. We reached yet another peak and all stood silently contemplating our imminent death. I leaned my head back, raised my water bottle to the sky and tipped it over. One lone drop fell in extra slow motion to the gaping maw that was my parched mouth. I looked down and saw the exact spot where we had stood when we started and saw people looking up at us like, “Who are THOSE crazy people way up there?” Yeah. Hi. We’re dumb.

Finally, FINALLY, hours later, we reached the main path where we had started in the first place. We straggled back to the car, defeated. We had planned to get lunch with everyone but it was now dinner time.  Also, we no longer wanted to be around each other. Like the survivors of the Titanic, we scattered, not wanting the continual reminder of what we had endured. Oh, we say we’re still friends, but I’m not sure.

When we reached the cool air conditioned quiet of our rental house, the boys flopped down on the couch, electronic devices a balm to their weary, overtaxed spirits. I let them. Tomorrow was another day. We would live to fight again.

After all, we still hadn’t done the Hollywood sign.

I call this one, “Hatred Toward Photographer.”



Upping Our Insta Game


Definition of Guardrail:  A strong fence at the side of the road, intended to reduce the risk of serious accidents.

No one complains about guardrails being put on the side of the road.  Especially one that sits next to a deep ravine.   You don’t see people attempting to see how close they can GET to a guardrail either.   Most normal humans navigate as far away from guard rails as possible because they don’t want to die.   No one questions this behaviour.  It makes perfect sense when it comes to driving.  However, when you set guardrails in your actual lives, and then make a practice of staying well behind them, people are going to look at you funny.   Try it.  You’ll see.

Recently, our pastor, Andy Stanley did a series about this and gives the example of how he and his wife never ride in cars alone or eat alone with anyone of the opposite sex that isn’t each other.  Some people find this offensive.  Over protective.  Snobby even.  Look at the uproar Vice President Pence experienced when he shared a similar boundary he and his wife employ to keep their marriage sacred.

Is it wrong to ride in a car with someone?   Or share a meal with someone?  Of course not.  Both are perfectly legal.   But the fact is, when you ride in a car or share a meal with someone, you have to TALK to them.  And when you talk to them, you develop an intimacy with them.  And if you develop enough of an intimacy with someone, an affair with them might seem tempting.  Maybe it won’t.  But it could.  Aside from Facebook, it’s one of the main ways affairs begin actually, so the fact is, if you never give yourself the opportunity to develop said intimacy, the chances of the type of intimacy leading to an affair are significantly less.

As Andy Stanley stated:  No one plans to ruin their lives.  They just don’t plan NOT to.

In light of all of the controversy with Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, and another situation that hit extremely close to home for us this week that I can’t even talk about yet, it reminded me of why I, too, have set guard rails in my children’s lives, and my own life actually, especially when it comes to the entertainment industry.   Some people think we are odd.  Silly.  Over protective.   I don’t really care.  Even WITH these guard rails in place, we have not escaped totally unscathed.  Some fender benders did more damage than others.  But when we were affected, a faulty guard rail was always the culprit.  

And that is why we have put the following three main guard rails in place with regard to our children’s involvement in the entertainment industry.  If I could (I am),  I would suggest that every stage mom on the planet adopt these as well:

Do not ever……..and I do mean ever……allow your children to be alone with an adult that is not you.  

Ever.  Not to have a chat.  Not to go to a Lakers game with court side tickets.  Not to McDonald’s for a milkshake.  100% of the time when a child is molested, they are left alone with the molester.  If you never let them be alone with ANYONE, there is 100% chance they won’t be molested.   Could this offend people?  Sure.  Does it make me seem self-righteous or accusatory sometimes?  You bet.  But guess what?  I don’t freaking care.  I care more about my kids future mental health, than I do about what people think.

I would bet a million dollars that our manager, Brad Stokes, is not a child molester, because he is the only trustworthy human we’ve found in Hollywood.  In theory, I would trust Brad to drive any one of my children across the continental United States, yet he’s never one time been alone with a single one of them.  He’s not offended.   In fact, he agrees.  He is also protecting himself.   Smart guy.   It’s why I too, in more recent years adopted a policy that I do not communicate or spend time alone with my acting students who are minors individually.  It’s not wise.  On a number of levels.  

The amount of time your agent, or manager, a producer or director should spend on outings alone with your child is none.  If they suggest an outing with your child without you, I suggest you fire them immediately.  Something is up.

Do not allow your child to be alone electronically with any adult that is not you.

This is just as dangerous.  The amount that your agent, manager, or another adult actor should be texting or facebook messaging your minor child is exactly zero.  This is where grooming begins and the abuser gains trust.  Are all agents, managers, and adult humans abusers?  No.  But if you never let your child communicate by themselves with an adult who isn’t you, the chances of them being groomed by an adult that isn’t you goes down to about zero.

Yes, allow your child, as they get older to have adult conversations about their career with their manager, agent or another adult.  This trains them for when they are actually an adult.  But, without question,  include yourself in the conversation.   Explain to your child why you are doing so.  They will thank you someday.  If you find out that someone you employ on your child’s behalf is texting them without your knowledge, fire them.  This is suspect.

Don’t use guardians.  If you have to use a guardian, use a female guardian.

I know, I know…..here is where you turn on me. “Aren’t you being a little sexist?”   Yes.  I am.  It is a fact that most molesters of children are male.  Look it up.   I will happily be accused of sexism for the sake of my child.

“Aren’t you over reacting just a little bit?”   Absolutely.  I am.  But my children have a 100% not been molested rate so I’m good.

“Well, this is just unrealistic. I don’t want my child to miss out on an opportunity just because I have to work!”   It is not an opportunity to be molested.  It is a life altering tragedy.   No job is worth this.  No amount of fame will make up for this.  The loss of your child’s future mental health is NOT. WORTH. IT.

Going even further, I would suggest that if either you or your husband regularly cannot be the one to be on set with your child, to postpone your child’s career until they are of age, and even then, things are dicey.   My 18 year old daughter had to stand up to a director who wanted her to take her clothes off for a scene just last month.  She had to say no repeatedly for three solid days.   I would have caved in a flat minute at that age, but luckily she is made of sterner stuff than I.

Are all guardians bad people who are out to molest your child?  Chances are they are not.  But do you want to have to explain to your child who has been molested by the ONE PERSON you happened to trust, why you did not protect them?  I sure don’t.

If I could tell you to do one thing, and one thing only as you traverse your way through the absolute mine field that is Hollywood, it would be to set these guardrails in place.  And then stay well behind them.   Offend people.  Look weird.  You will not regret it.  And neither will your child.   And on the off chance that you DO lose control of the car one day and actually hit a guardrail, you will have only damaged your car.  Not taken an irrevocable plunge into the abyss.

Here is a bonus guardrail.  Free of charge.

If you have a wierd feeling about someone, trust it. Remove them from your lives sooner rather than later.

Mom radar is NEVER wrong.

The Beginning, Middle and the End

Ok, as promised, here is my full debrief on the “Kelly and Matt spend six months in Budapest for The Alienist” experience.   I’d planned a heartfelt look at the perseverance, grit and determination it takes to win a series regular role on network television, because it’s considerable.  This would have been so inspiring, and compel you to “keep at it” and “never give up” and all that stuff.   But, when I started writing, this came out instead.  I’m sorry.  I don’t control these things.

The Beginning (months 1 and 2):

Moods are bright and anticipation is high.   This will be so fun!   We finally GOT the coveted job we’ve persevered for months and years to obtain.  We will be working with revered actors, directors and producers and become best friends with them all and get invited to their weddings.   Our performance will be the quintessential marriage between years of training and the perfect showcase of character and material.   It will more than likely be lauded by the Hollywood Foreign Press.   The paparazzi will lift their heads in our direction like wraiths in Lord of the Rings.

Not only that,  in our downtime we will accomplish those tasks we’ve always wanted to accomplish, but never have had time for, like say, writing a book.  We will have loads of days off in which to slay our self imposed daily word count in the shadow of St. Stephen’s Basilica, while our cherubic child actor does his three hours of required school work.  What an opportunity for him to study abroad, we think!   What a fabulous writers retreat for ourselves.

We will go to the market every Saturday morning and buy the fresh fruits and vegetables in the open air.  We will visit all the landmarks and become encyclopaedias of Hungarian history.  We will both Hop On AND Hop Off.   Not only that, the rest of Europe is merely a train ride away.  We will see ALL OF IT.  Every last inch.  We are sure.

We decide to actually learn Hungarian.  This is necessary and a sign of respect, we solemnly agree.  The first twenty minutes of school time is devoted to HungarianPod101.com   We practice on the crew members and local vendors, and they smile benevolently at our terrible accent and limited vocabulary!   This is not even hard. By the end of the summer, we promise, we will have a full on conversation with them in their native tongue!  Immersion is a fabulous teacher.

This whole thing will be both a phenomenal work and travel situation.  Life could not have offered us a greater plum.   How will this NOT be everything we hoped for?

This phase can be summed up with the following algebraic equation:

The Middle: (Months 3-5)

We are in a pleasant mood.  Steady plodding occurs.  This is definitely an experience.    An experience to remember.   A longer experience to remember than we realized.   We’ve gotten to go home once in three months and wow, do we remember how much we like it there, but our attitudes are still grateful as we board the plane back to Europe for leg two.  We have not yet obtained BFF status with our fellow co-workers yet, but these things take time.   The A-List can’t let EVERYONE IN.  They would die of exhaustion.  We get this.  We need our space too!   For the most part, we feel we’ve done exactly what we’ve wanted to do with our job situation.  Of course there are times when we feel the direction we want to head with the character we’ve been given is thwarted by the notes of far off executives who are not at all actors or even on set which is somewhat discouraging, but it’s all part of it!   Our job is to convey THEIR vision and tone, not ours!!  Right?

We are making steady progress on our word count.  Writing a book is definitely not the easiest thing we’ve ever undertaken, but we are doing this anyway even though we are a bit weary of staring at the same computer screen in the same street cafe day after day.  We realize that even writers need a break.  Sometimes binging Game of Thrones on Netflix is a productive undertaking.  The brain needs to recharge and revitalise before further creativity can be inspired.  This seems a wise course of action.

And, oh,  we’ve traveled!  We have seen some things we would not ordinarily see.  Yes, our exuberance at these sights was tempered somewhat by the fact that we are also traveling with a teenager who would prefer to slay zombies on a flat screen, not look at paintings in the palaces of dead people.   But we make sure he knows that this was SO GOOD for him.  He will remember all of this and thank us later, without question.  We are parenting so well.

While our daily tourism is not quite as active, we still give our neighbourhood Hop On/Hop Off Bus guy a very friendly smile as we pass by on the way to the local grocery.  Speaking of which, we DID go to the famous market that one time, but we have settled on shopping more locally because the market is, in fact, one subway change and four stops away.  No one can be expected to keep that up indefinitely.   Speaking of which, we HAVE also backed off learning Hungarian, but it’s only because we found out it’s generally thought of as the hardest language on the planet, which we did not know when we first undertook the task.  Learning a language that is only spoken in one country would just not be good time management.  We still do speak in Hungarian for basic pleasantries which we feel is very gracious of us.

This is a wonderful, wonderful experience.  It really is.  We are happy with it so far.  We are fairly certain that everyone wishes they were us.  Even us.

Current equation:

The End  (month 6 and a little bit of 7)

Our steady plod has ground to a complete halt.  We no longer can be expected to stay here in the land of “pay to pee” and no Chick Fil A.   There is nothing to eat here that we have the wherewithal to make and even if there was, we would have to shop YET AGAIN to prepare it and starving seems not un-pleasant maybe.   Our desire to leave our apartment is no.   Everything has been seen, done, and found extremely dumb.

When fight the urge to grab our Hop On/Hop Off buddy by his red vest and shriek “HOW DO YOU ABIDE THIS, 10 hours a day, day in and day out when THERE IS AMERICA!?”  We are not even exchanging Hungarian pleasantries when we buy a water bottle.  These people all know English anyway, as they should, because it is the best.

We have cut off contact with most people we are working with except when we are actually working because we are certain that we all hate one another.   Everyone’s character flaws have exposed themselves in bas relief.   Especially that one person’s.  You don’t want to go to their stupid wedding anyway should someone be dumb enough to saddle themselves to that person for life.  The ship is going down and everyone is grabbing for a stray door.

We are also certain that we don’t even know to act at all.  Everything was wrong.  It was terrible.  This will be a disaster.  The world is Simon Cowell and is ready to eviscerate us with a smirk and a cutting one liner.

School has started again for the cherubic young one, but no one cares.  We don’t mention it and neither do they, because they are as over this whole thing as we are.   If they bring it up we will just tell them shhhhhh. We are not actually here anymore.  You are not seeing us.    The child actor has taken to staying up all night and sleeping all day, a practice we would never tolerate at home, but for some bizarre reason, we find acceptable in this situation.  We let it happen without batting one eye.  We aren’t speaking to him anyway.  Not because we hate him, but because after so much one-on-one time, there is simply nothing left to say to one another.

When not called to set, entire days are spent in bed which is littered with Oreo crumbs despite our usual devotion to health and wellness. There is not a show in any genre that has not been viewed in its entirety.  The thought of being productive is anathema.  We should probably wait to write about this experience until much later when balance and sanity are restored, which makes us suddenly realize that we have been, all this time, speaking in first person plural when there is only one of us talking.   This experience has driven us to the point of talking out loud to ourselves in writing.  All excitement at this fabulous opportunity has been systematically reduced to a daily summoning of the will to live.


Forturnately, there is one more stage of this experience and why there are actors who continue to subject themselves to this sort of shenanigan.

The Aftermath (months later)

The weeks after returning home are similar to the weeks after giving birth.  We are convalescing.   We hobble around in padded underwear and talk quietly.   The incision is healing.  We are up a lot at night, and while pain meds are necessary, the memory of intense labor is receding further and further away and we look at the newborn with a fond smile.  Isn’t he perfect?  Wasn’t it so wonderful?  Won’t it be a prodigy?   Look at it!  WE MADE THIS.  And while this metaphor is now breaking down into something a bit creepy and Norman Batesy, the fact of the matter IS……..we are totally enamoured with the whole experience.   While we were worried that the child might have some special needs, we now see that it was the perfect performance at the perfect time with the perfect actor.  The final product will be amazing.  The hardships endured were worth it a hundred fold.  The story about to be unleashed on the planet was one worth telling and we were so fortunate to have been a part.  Final equation:

After this phase, we could almost see themselves doing something like this again and say things like,  “Here’s to season 2!”

(Note: we are not at this phase quite yet.  It takes time and we’ve only been home for 6 days. I’m just anticipating what WILL happen.  Also, please don’t send emails faulting my algebra.  The fact that I’m terrible at math is why I play pretend and write things for a living.)

Roger the Sketchy Ticket Guy

Back in May, Mackenzie and I planned a surprise graduation trip to London for Madison that included a visit to Leavesden Studios, where all eight Harry Potter Films were shot.    This was the best idea ever in the history of ideas.  My kids grew up during the span of time when the Harry Potter books were a brand new thing.  We actually had to wait a year or so before each book would come out and then we were the crazy people that actually dressed up in character to go to the midnight launch…….


I clearly am Professor Trelawny.

Our family is weird.  Once the new installment was in our grasp, we would race home and stay up till dawn getting a head start.  I read each one aloud IN character with corresponding accents.  This was BEFORE the movies came out by the way, and when they finally came along, I was rather proud that I had actually NAILED the essence of each character (with the exception of Professor Umbridge who went in a completely different direction from what I’d imagined, a sacrilege we still struggle to forgive.)   We have several copies of each book.  All eight films have been watched at least 1,956 times.  One time Mackenzie and Madison went to Universal Studios and stayed within the confines of Harry Potter World for ten hours straight without even peeing.   To say that the girls like Harry Potter would be like saying that teen girls sorta kinda like One Direction.  Or that Rose and Jack were a little bit in love.  Or that suburban housewives somewhat enjoy a glass of wine.

Mack and Madi are Harry Potter psychopaths.   Norman Bates would admire them.

So when I surprised Madison on her birthday by announcing the trip, and added the fact that I had also obtained the nearly impossible to get tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which is the 2 part, 6 hour stage play…..I’m not sure how to describe her reaction.  A gazelle on crack sounds about right.

Now….. I had thought that they were absolutely sold out until the end of time.  But somehow I was able to obtain tickets through a stub hub like ticket centre.  Wow, were they expensive.  But I didn’t care.  We HAD to go.  Madison would only graduate high school one time.  This had to happen.

This is where where the sketch begins.

The website said that I would be receiving a phone call within 24 hours confirming where we would be staying in London.   The day after I booked the tickets I was on a flight back to Budapest, where Matt is filming The Alienist and I got no phone call.   The first day back in Budapest, I got no phone call.   I started to worry.   Credit card info had been given.   I sent the following email:

No reply to this email ever came.   But finally I did see a number from England come through my phone and when I picked up, I met Roger the Sketchy Ticket guy for the first time.   He had a thick cockney accent and used the term “luv” excessively.    I told him I had been worried and was relieved he’d finally contacted me.   He said something like, “Luv, Oiv been tryna call ya for dighs, so you’re all set, you’re good, just call me when you get to London.”

I was like, “Wait….that’s it?  Don’t you, like send me the tickets via mail or something?”   He replied in an irritated tone that “No, we don’t dew it loik that,  just call me when ye get to London. Ok? Graight, bye.”

“No wait!  Roger…..do I just call you at this number???”

But Roger was gone.   Hmmmmmmm……..

Two months went by and off to London we went.  As soon as I arrived, Roger was my first call.  He picked up right away.  “Yea, yea, luv, oh-kigh, so your here, graight.  I’ll call ya soon oh-kigh?”  Click.


The next day, when no phone call came, I called again.  “‘Ello, luv, call me back at 11:30 roight?”   Click.


I called back at 11:30 and was told that Roger was in a meeting and to call him back in five minutes.   I called back in five minutes and he made to put me off again with a “Luv, Om STILL in a meetin’, I’m gonna need to call ya back alroight?”

‘NO! ROGER!!!!!” I broke in with my best don’t-mess-with-me mom voice, “DO NOT DARE HANG UP!”    Roger seemed wounded.  Baffled at my angst.  Why so mistrustful?   I said, “What is going on here!?  Why can I not get you to stay on the phone with me for more that 15 seconds!?”

The girls looked on while biting their fingernails down to nubs.  Lisa Phelan, a good friend traveling with us, shook her head and said something about him not wanting his calls traced.  Fantastic.

Rog assured me that he had my tickets and asked where I was staying.  Ha!  Um…..yeah…no…… Rog was not finding out that little piece of intel so I said we were staying NEAR Paddington Station and perhaps we could meet there, but wouldn’t it make more sense to leave them at Will Call or something like normal people?  He said no, it wouldn’t luv, and to meet his friend Wayne at Cambridge Pub the next day at noon.

Cambridge Pu…..wait… who the hell is Wayne……what in the……..!?  This prompted the following email which was also never responded to.

Madison was kind.  At least out loud.  She assured me that even if we didn’t get to see the play that we would still have Leavesden.  But I’m nothing if not tenacious.   Later that evening I got an email from the website that said……

What!!!?  Didn’t Roger tell me to meet WAYNE at the Cambridge Pub at NOON on THE DAY OF THE SHOW!?  Was there no communication in this operation? This was getting worse and worse.   Roger had provided me Wayne’s number, so first thing the next morning I called Wayne, who was a less amphetamined version of Roger and who actually stayed on the phone for a good 30 seconds.  He assured me that not only did he have the tickets, but that they had upgraded our seats.  He would meet me himself at the Cambridge Pub, which I’d found out is right next to the theatre at noon.   Okey doke. Wayne.  Cambridge Pub.  Hope we don’t die.

At noon, there we stood.  Outside the Cambridge Pub, looking uncertain and dubious which I think mean the same thing, but in this case redundancy seems necessary.   All of a sudden, a young, well dressed man came sliding around the corner.

“Kelly?” he said.

“Yeeeees?” I replied giving him skeptical side eye.

“Here are your tickets.  You have the best seats in the house.   Well two of you do.  The third seat is unfortunately the worst so you’ll have to decide who sits there.” (Ha! As if there was any question. Does he KNOW my daughters…..?)

“Listen, Wayne, are these tickets legit? Because you guys are sketchy as hell.”

“Who’s Wayne?” he asked.

“And you JUST GOT SKETCHIER!” I shouted.  “Who’s Wayne!?  Aren’t YOU Wayne?  You just told me you’d see me in a minute!?”

He smiled benignly, the way Voldemort might when he’s sizing up Harry Potter before administering the crutiatus curse.   “I don’t know, Kelly.  I was just told to meet you here at noon.”

“So THIS isn’t your number?” I showed him.

“Oh. That’s my brother.” He smiled.

“How can you FORGET that your brothers name is Wayne?” I spluttered.

“Listen,” Wayne who wasn’t Wayne soothed.  “You’re good.  You’re fine.”   Then he slid off around the corner, back to the land of people who don’t know their brother’s names.

“Mom,” Mackenzie said.  “There’s something really fishy about this.”

“You’re absolutely right, Mackenzie,” I said, eyes narrowing.   And just like an episode of Scooby Doo at the end of act 3, I firmly stated, “And I’m going to find out just what it is!”

(The three girls march toward the box office and we fade to the commercial break.)


The man at the box office was shaking his head.  It was not a good sign.

“Yeah, unfortunately, I”m going to have to confiscate these tickets.  They’ve illegally imitated our website.  These guys have been doing this and we’re trying to catch them, but well……they always use different people.”   Ha!  Yes, we know about that nice box office guy.

My heart sank.  Madi and Mack looked sick with disappointment.   We turned, sadly, to go.

“The good news is,” nice box office guy volunteered,  “These seats are actually available because he bought them from us with cash this morning, so we can sell them to you for face value and then give you a form that will allow you to charge your credit card back the amount that Sketchy Roger charged you.  He was charging you 3 times the real amount, by the way.”

We raced back to him with glee. Nice box office guy was a ray of sunshine through the leaden London sky!   Joy!  Jubilation!

True to Sketchy Rogers word, the tickets WERE fantastic.  Best seats in the house.  Well, Mack and Madi’s were anyway.   I had to crane my neck like an ostrich anytime something happened on Stage Left, but I had a clear view of the rhapsodic look on the girls faces during the entirety of Part 1 and like the sacrificial mother that I am, that was enough for me.  (beaming smile with a tooth gleam).

During the break, I picked up the letter that would allow me to get the necessary refund from Roger/Wayne/Voldemort and I sent him/them the following email.

This brought on several IRATE phone calls from Wayne. He called me eleven forms of stupid and accused me of bringing this all on myself because I’d gone to the box office instead of just attempting entry.   I told him that he needed to fire both Sketchy Roger and Voldemort because it was their behaviour that caused me to question him in the first place.  He whined and wheedled and said said he’d paid cash for the tickets and now he would be out of pocket.   I told him that the box office said that they would happily refund him if he brought in his proof of purchase, but I doubt he’ll try.  He knows they’re looking for him.

There were a few scary moments after Part 2 that evening where I was certain we would be followed home by Sketchy’s henchman and taught a lesson.  We walked home at lightening speed, furtively sliding behind buildings and peeking around corners the entire way home.   I even considered getting off the subway at a different station so as to further elude them.  The girls thought I was insane.  I say a mother’s gut is never wrong, and my elusivity(?) was surely the only thing that kept us safe.

If you listen closely, you may be able to hear Sketchy Roger’s haunting, plaintive cry all through out London:

“And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you crazy kids!!!!!”

So My Kid Isn’t Going to College……..

There.  I said it.  Judge away all you parents of valedictorians.   Just know that I am as dubious about this prospect as you are for me.  I am not sitting over here with some pie in the sky attitude that my way is better than yours.  In fact, you may actually have the last laugh here.  And as the school year began last fall, and all the Facebook posts were popping up with photos of grinning high school seniors holding acceptance letters captioned, “He’s an Aggie!!!!!”, I literally had to sit on my hands to keep from typing “LAST MINUTE ON LINE COLLEGE OPTIONS” into google search.   But the fact is, Madison is not going to college.  She is moving to Los Angeles and going to work.

Hang on a sec while I pop an extra Xanax.

It’s a gap year.  We’re calling it a gap year.   All the kids in England do it and they’re cool.  In fact, there’s something to be said for giving a kid a year to go work somewhere and figure out that they don’t want to just work somewhere.  It seems to up their motivation to succeed in college exponentially, and clarifies both where they do and don’t want to be for the rest of their lives.  I’ve seen this process up close and personally with my older daughter, Mackenzie.

After graduating high school, Mackenzie did the “right” thing and headed to Auburn University.  (I HAVE to go to college mom, I’ve been dreaming of this since I was 3!).  She was working as a series regular on Under the Dome simultaneously and had to leave Auburn her spring semester to shoot the show.  She took online classes, but then went back to Auburn the following fall.    Surprisingly, aside from college football season, life at Auburn was not the rhapsodic experience she expected.  In fact, after already working in the adult world from the time she was fourteen, it seemed dumb, expensive and actually pointless.  She felt like she was going backwards.  So when Under the Dome was cancelled, she left Auburn, and moved to Los Angeles to make a go of this thing.

A gap year was all it took for her to come to us with a clarity I have rarely seen.   She was absolutely certain of three things.

  1. She would rather live in the remotest corner of Alaska without heat than live in Los Angeles.
  2. She did not at all like the idea of pursuing a career that would potentially be so financially unstable.
  3. She was coming home, and going back to school with the intent of heading to law school.

Say wha……????

She was so resolved in fact, that while I absolutely had to micro manage her college application process, and completely Olivia Pope her move to LA (It’s HANDLED), she actually called Auburn, and un-enrolled herself BY HERSELF.  She requested her transfer documents to the Georgia college she’d applied to ON HER OWN.  Once she was accepted, she figured out what classes were best for a pre-law student with ANOTHER ADULT THAT WASN’T ME!

Was she even a millennial anymore?

We had success with the gap year.  We like what happened with that thing.  So at the end of her junior year, when Madison announced that she would not even be applying to college because why…….you would think I would have been relatively calm about it.  And I tried, you guys.   I was good for most of the year!

But while all the other kids were getting blessed by the pastor on graduation Sunday and naming the universities to where they’re headed, and Madison said,  “Madison Lintz- Hollywood, California,” I had to put my head between my knees.  I had to breathe deeply and silently repeat, “She is going to Los Angeles already employed.  Her salary at 18 is more than her father and I make combined.   You do not need a college degree to be an actor.  Can I have a cheerio?”  (there was a toddler on the floor in the pew behind me.)

What is wrong with me?   Why do I care so much if she gets a college degree?   I have a college degree and I have always said that I learned more about how to act in my first season doing regional theatre with the Orlando Shakespeare Festival than I ever did in my four years at Penn State.   I have never gone to an audition and had them say “Well, we’re not sure……”, then held out my diploma and had them say, “OH!  You have a degree in performance from Penn State!  Well in THAT case……”   Come to think of it, I have never had a single job that has required my college degree.

Over the past year, when I would get yet another email from the school guidance counsellor saying, “Um….it’s getting late……is Madison going to be applying ANYWHERE?”  I would console myself with the fact that at least Madison would not exit college with a mountain of debt, only to move back home, like so many other college students in this day and age.  What is happening?  Why is no one hiring them?  Why are they still waiting tables like an out of work actor when they did the deal!?  They followed the correct protocol!  They got the degree!

I would argue that it’s because so many kids are sent to college because it’s the thing to do, but because they have no idea what they WANT to do yet, it just becomes a very expensive holding tank.   A  larger playpen.    Yes, they know how to study.  Yes, they can ace tests.   But do they have a viable skill?  My parents, who have owned their own company for decades told me they won’t even interview the college graduates of today.   Why?  Because most turn up their nose at starting pay. They expect to be paid like someone who has worked for decades.  Also, my dad says,  “Eh, most just don’t really know how to do anything.”

Dang, Dad.

I recently read an article entitled,  “What are the Valedictorians of your Class doing?  Not Much.”   It basically said that if you take a look at all the valedictorians in the world, that yes, most did wonderfully in college.  Yes,  91% are employed.  But if you take a look at all the innovators of society….the Steve Jobs…..the Bill Gates….. the Mark Zuckerbergs,  most weren’t even college graduates, let alone valedictorians.   So basically the people who don’t necessarily colour between the lines are the ones changing the world.   That said, not everyone who doesn’t graduate college invents Facebook.  There is a lot to be said for not changing the entire world, but supplying your own family with the rewards of consistent gainful employment.  The valedictorians seem to have this down.

But I think it’s time for it to be OK for a kid to say, “I’m not going to college.  I have specialized in something else.”  I think there are some kids who should absolutely say, “I don’t believe I’ll give a university two hundred grand of my money when a degree from them will not serve me one little bit.  I have a different path.”   If you want a career in  medicine, or law, you need college.  If you want a career in the arts, you will need the money you would spend on tuition, trust me.  But lets admit that both are viable choices.

On graduation day, I walked into Madison’s school and looked at a bulletin board with all the graduates photos. Underneath of each was the logo of their chosen college.   Under Madison’s was the logo for BOSCH.  Like it was a University.  I was laughing with the secretary about this and saying how self-conscious Madison was feeling when the headmaster overheard me and hurried out of his office.   He said,  “No, no Kelly!  You tell Madison that in my speech about her tonight I’m going to make what she’s doing instead sound VERY, VERY legit!”

Knowing Mr. Arnold* the way that I do, I know he meant well with his comment.   However, all I could think was……Madison will be earning in five months what most students will leave college in debt for.   How much more legit can you get?


*Johnathan Arnold is the headmaster of Covenant Christian Academy who has supported our unorthodox journey from day one, allowing the kids to study remotely when they are working.  We could not have done this without him and are eternally grateful for his support.

The Top 10 Reasons Matt and I are Excited to Reach American Soil!!!!!

Welcome to the latest episode of Life In the Honeywagon where the sky is my office and it’s freshly carpeted with sleep deprivation!     Matt and I wisely decided, since we had a 4:00 a.m. pick up anyway, NOT TO GO TO BED last night.   I haven’t pulled an all nighter since college.  We are a barrel of laughs right now.

So now I am ensconced on our flight preparing to bring you God only knows what.   Everything seems so strange and hazy and sharply in focus at the same time.    I feel drawn to stare at people with a befuddled yet intent expression.   Is this what drugs feel like?  I think I have the same exact expression on my face that Seth Rogen does in every single one of his movies.

Ah…..we are taking off, and the hum of the engine is fueling my creativi………….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

(3 hours have elapsed.  Somehow we are in Frankfurt.)

No.  No, no, no.   WHY did I promise to write a blog post after being awake all night!?    My burst of adrenaline has been eaten by a chasm of underachievement.  I don’t want to write this AT ALL anymore.   I’m so tired.  And Lufthansa’s seats are so soft.  Like Luft balloons.


My head is exploding.  I JUST REALIZED,  30 years after that song was released,  that “luft” must mean “red”?  Why would anyone name their airline Red-hansa.   What is a hansa?  We’ve caught you red hansa-ded and we are forcing you to write a blog post.

UGH!   I DO NOT WANT TO WRITE A BLOG POST.   I’m changing the name of this blog post to the Top One Reason I Cannot Write This Blog Post.

  1.  Because I can’t.

Sigh.  Ok.   I will try.   I will carb fuel with a Bavarian Pretzel in the Frankfurt airport and press on.

Listen, first let me say this in case Hungarians are reading.  WE LOVE YOUR COUNTRY. We have had such a delightful time exploring your cute little streets, eating at your outdoor cafes, and learning more about your history.   Your architecture blows us out of the water. The fact that you have castles and things called Basilicas make us feel like we are in another century. I frequently feel I should introduce myself as the Duchess of Alpharetta.    You’re wonderful people and you all know several languages which makes you smarter than us by far.    BUT….. there’s just a few things you do differently that make it….. not home.   Can you understand and not be offended?   While we LOVE YOU……..we just need America right now and here are 10 reasons why.  (Actually, it’s mainly because you people do not use ice ever.   I don’t know how this can stand.  Why has no one brought this up to Parliament, which by the way is absolutely the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen.)


10.   The English Language:    We were so gung-ho at the beginning to learn Hungarian and be all bi-lingual, but you guys, that language is just not learnable for real American people who only speak English.  There are too many K’s. You have 4 different pronunciations of the letter O and another 4 for U.  Seriously?  Did you do that to keep children from talking?   We do know some basic phrases, which endlessly amuse the Hungarian crew, and we can even understand some.   But we just need to hear our native tongue.  We want it to wash over us like a tsunami and drown in English words.

9.  Free Pee:    We (ok, I) want to go to the bathroom in public without paying for it.  Having to go the bathroom as often as we (I) do is already pain enough.  Having to search out the proper coinage to make it happen is just too much to ask of us (me.)  WHY the train station doesn’t just charge an extra Euro per ticket to cover elimination remains baffling.  Do you really need to keep a few jobs available for these people?  Come ON.  I am sure that when they are asked what they do for a living, they do not enjoy saying “I’m a pee money taker.”  Set them free!

8.  Normal electrical outlets:     Having to have power converters to work our electrical appliance/phones/computers keeps me in a state of low-grade irritation.  Especially because our ratio of power converters to things that need power converters is very unequal.  We are constantly misplacing/transferring/borrowing each others converters so I am always raging around the apartment yelling “MAAAAAATTTTT!?  DID YOU TAKE MY ROUNDY THING?”  The idea of just plugging something into the actual wall without having to locate a separate roundy thing puts an expression on my face similar to one of the people in those videos who sees color or hears sound for the first time.

7.   Driving:  I have never gone so long without driving!  Aside from our adventurous journey to Poland (which was so stressful that a pinched nerve in my neck caused me to lose all feeling in my arms the next day), I haven’t driven at all.  We walk or take public transportation everywhere.   This is urban and cool, but also exhausting.  Sometimes you find yourself just not leaving the apartment because you don’t want to take two subways and a tram to the movie theatre.   You want to just pull up next to the AMC and 5 minutes later be eating a large tub of buttered popcorn with Swedish Fish standing by.   You want to pull into Publix and be able to ……speaking of Publix, OMG……..

6.  Grocery Stores:  Sweet baby Jesus and his brother James, I CAN’T WAIT TO GROCERY SHOP, American style.   If you have followed me long enough, you understand what an incongruent statement this is.  I frequently express my absolute distaste for the infinite chore of providing food for my family.   But if it’s irritating in the states, multiply it by 100, and divide by “I’d like to die now” when you’re in Budapest.    Not only can I not find anything familiar to cook, but the aisles are so small that when you slide by someone you also have to repent of adultery.   You can only buy as much as you can carry (see Driving), and I’ve already told you about the bag sitch.   As soon as I get home I am going to Publix and filling two entire carts with stuff I will never eat just because I CAN!   There IS a large Tesco in Budapest, but again, it’s 2 trains and a half a mile walk away so let’s just starve instead.   Also,  it really wants to be Target, and is only a poor relation with no dowry, leading me to……

5. TARGET:  I LOVE YOU SO MUCH TARGET.  There is nothing anywhere like you, with all your clean, well organized, wide aisles filled with all the things all in the same place.  No having to go to one place to find food, and another to find pharmaceuticals.  I have yet to locate a bottle of Visine because by the time I’m done finding food and committing adultery, I’m just too tired.   I’ve had chronic dry eye for two months.   As soon as I get done at Publix, I am going to come and just lay down and do snow angels in the cough and cold aisle.

4. OUR KITTIES:   This one is for Matt.  I don’t actually miss the kitties.  Or their monstrous jungle gym that is the eye sore of my living room.   I don’t hate the kitties, either, so please don’t write me hateful emails about how can I not miss the kitties!?  I have four kids who I’ve kept alive for a cumulative total of 65 years, OK?   I don’t have room to love anyone else and anyone says that your heart grows to add more room or whatever is just lying.  There is a finite amount of love room and I’ve reached it.

3. OUR PEOPLE:  I’ve experienced this over and over as both an actress and a stage mom.  Working on location is just isolating.  You don’t have your people.   And while you’re grateful as hell to be there at all, you’re silently dying of loneliness.  There are no other kids regularly on this show and the adult cast never thinks to invite the kid cast to any fun outings and frankly, even when they do, they aren’t “your people” so that is still work.   So basically, it’s just a lot of me.  And a lot of Matt.  Thank God for Sat the Set Tutor who provides at least some diversion.  Hold days yawn ahead and you try to create fun and exciting adventures, but they are usually more exhausting than they are worth and make me feel like Julie the under-appreciated cruise director.   We have an understanding that once we land on American soil, we will cease speaking to one another.  Not out of hatred.  We have just used up all our words.   We will pass each other in the kitchen and pretend we didn’t see each other.  No one in the family will question this.

2.  FOOD:    I’m sorry, Hungary.  But I’m really Hungary.   Due to #6, it’s just too hard to find things I want to cook in you.  So we go out entirely too often.  But it’s hard to find my American equivalents in your restaurants.   I tried the goulash.  And the goulash is good.  But there is just an awful lot of meat.  Not a lot of healthy choices.  And OMG, a salad!  A salad!  My kingdom for a salad with a dressing I can recognize.  When I get home, after I fill two carts with Publix groceries, and do snow angels at Target, we will be going to Sweet Tomatoes where I will lay atop a bed of Romaine and anoint myself with balsamic vinaigrette.

But before all of these activities……..on the way home from the airport even…………we will seize upon the #1 missed thing from the United States………a thing we cannot abide  one more moment without……


They have chicken.   And sweet tea.   And ICE!!!!!   Lovely, large, styrofoam cups filled to the brim so that when you shake it you can’t even hear the liquid move!!!!!!

It’s the sole reason we made certain NOT to fly home on a Sunday.











Jo Reggalt!

We made it!   We are in the country of Hungary on the continent of Europe!  It was a twenty hour travel day, but the journey to this point has been well over a decade if you count the years of commercials, industrials, day players, and supporting roles it took Matt to be prepared to actually inhabit the role of Stevie Taggart, a reformed, murderous, street thug in the 1800’s with a New York accent.

It wouldn’t be a proper blog post without details of some of our mishaps so here are a few!   At the Atlanta airport where we arrived buried under six suitcases,  carry-on bags, and our passports, the check in lady asked us where our Visa’s were.  Record scratch!!!!! (Millennials, google it).  A Visa!!?   I explained that I didn’t think we needed a Visa as no one from production had ever made a single mention of needing one and they are on top of things like this, but she insisted. After some more back and forth she disappeared behind the curtain to speak with Oz.   Matt and I looked at one another uneasily and I said a quick prayer that went something like, “God!  Budapest!  Fix it!”

Then just like God inhabits Octavia Spencer in The Shack, He chose to inhabit another British Airways employee, who happened to walk up to the desk to ask what our hold up was.   We explained,  he pressed a few magical buttons on the keyboard and said that we did not, in fact, need a Visa at all.  Just a passport.  Despite the original lady’s protests,  he calmly tagged our bags and walked away.   As we gathered our remaining carry on bags, original desk lady said to fellow desk lady (sotto) “What was he even doing out here?”, which means that normally he would not have crossed our path!   Divine intervention for the win!

Our next snafu came at boarding time.  If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past, you know of the inviolable Lintz “right hand” ritual (for more on this, see “Sepulvatory”).   However, on international flights they require you to show your passport one more time as you enter the actual plane.   So my right hand was otherwise occupied as I boarded.  In order to complete the ritual, I would have had to shift everything to my left hand, and take an additional few seconds before boarding while everyone behind me wondered what the heck I was doing, WHICH I ABSOLUTELY DID DO, but in an abbreviated way.   My usually well thought out prayer of “God, please do not let this plane crash into the Atlantic because that would really suck,” turned into more of a “SHMFRMOEF!!!”, while Matt was only able to blurt out a mental, “Please G…..!!”   Fortunately, God understands strong non-verbal sentiment….because here we are.

This next incident is painful.   Without me knowing, and somehow clearing Atlanta security, Matt had packed his BRAND NEW Rodan and Fields Unblemish Skin Care regimen in his carry on bag, and the vigilant security workers at Heathrow in London confiscated it.   This regimen costs well into the $200 range so you can imagine the heated mother/son dialogue that took place where once again it was determined that even though it was Matt who had packed liquids over 3 ounces in a CARRY ON BAG (how many planes have you taken, son?), it was still somehow all my fault. (can I get an amen from mom’s everywhere?)  In a fit of extreme irritation, I leapt up onto the metal bag examining table and shouted for an audience of hundreds, “THIS IS THE DUMBEST RULE EVER!  WHY CAN I NOT TAKE LIQUIDS GREATER THAN 3 OZ. ON YOUR DANG AIRLINE!?  WHAT AM I GOING TO DO!?  HIJACK THE PLANE WITH TONER?  DEATH BY EXFOLIATION!?”   The woman thwarting us matched my ire, holding aloft a long staff that she borrowed from Gandalf and screamed, “YOU SHALL NOOOOOOOT PASSSSSSSSSSS!”

Mother of God.***

FINALLY, 20 hours later, we arrived in Budapest.   It’s been…..………daunting, not gonna lie.    The cast and crew are lovely, so no worries there.   Matt will have a ball on this project.  The people of Hungary are friendly, kind, and accommodating.     But living in a foreign country where we do not speak the language is overwhelming on a good day.  Everything is so different, which isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just uncomfortable.   The following issues have already made me yearn for my motherland.

Everything is small:  Like for small people.   When Matt and I tried to fit into an elevator at our hotel with our 6 suitcases, the elevator barely fit the cart itself, let alone Matt and I.   I was squished behind it flat as a pancake (thank GOD I’ve been using Plexus) and Matt was basically suctioned to the ceiling like Spiderman.  In our suite, the stair case is so narrow that I had to turn the suitcases side ways to fit.  We have Anne Frank’s staircase.    And there is no actual room in the bedroom to FIT said suitcases.  They are in the hallway.   I mean, what is the DEAL Europe?  Could you be a little more roomy maybe?   I honestly think this is why Christopher Columbus went to America.  He was like “Good lord, I cannot MOVE here.  All the big boned people, come with me!”

The shower:   Our shower points straight down from the ceiling.  There is no getting your body wet before your head.  You have to either bend at the waist to keep your head out of the spray until you’re ready to rinse or turn backward and do a sort of sun salutation.  This is not all bad as not only do I get my shower out of the way, but I also experience a complete yoga class at the same time.

Electronics:  Ok, so you know how in America you are always hunting around for your computer or phone charger and cursing about it? (Just me?)   Well, here, you also need an adapter to convert American power to European power.   So not only do you have to keep track of the chargers, but the converters.  This is simply a recipe for disaster in my case, and I’m going to learn to curse in Hungarian so I can express myself when necessary.

(Additional appliance note:  American hair dryers do not work over here.  Apparently, they are powered by NASA and cannot be converted to European electricity without burning down the entire hotel, which might not be a bad idea, to knock a few walls out and make more room.  The ones in our hotel do not have an on/off switch.  They have a button that you have to mash down the entire time you are drying your hair.   When you let it go, it turns off.   This can be quite tiring if you have long, thick hair. If you have arthritis, time to drip dry.   Let me just ask you, Hungary…….why?   Unlike curling irons, no one in the history of the world has ever left a hair dryer on all day long.)

Grocery stores:   I was told that this would be the most challenging aspect of our journey at first, which is absolutely correct.  I walked into the local corner store, and immediately started sweating.  Kroger, it was not!  Nothing was in English, of course, but I thought I would at least be able to recognize certain products.   When I stumbled upon a box that actually said Kellogg’s Cornflakes, I grabbed it like a 13 year old grabs for any member of One Direction.  I don’t even eat corn flakes, but I was so happy to see something I recognized that I bought it anyway.   The only way I knew that the milk was milk was from the cow picture on the front of the carton.   Most things I couldn’t recognize what it actually WAS from the picture on the front, and I couldn’t find any of my usual items anywhere.  I honestly was stumped at what we were going to prepare for ourselves.   I did find Activia yogurt, and Jamie Lee Curtis patted me on the head and said not only won’t you starve, but you’ll be super regular.

Our apartment again:  Doesn’t have an oven.  It has two stove top burners and a microwave.  This may not be a problem as I cannot find anything at the grocery store to cook anyway.

The language:   While many people do speak English, especially those in the hotel and tourist industry, this does not include people that work at the local grocery store.   I could communicate absolutely zero with my check out girl which proved to be a problem when I realized they did not provide bags.   I did not know how to ask for a bag, so I just pointed and said bag in a Hungarian accent (BEG), hoping that would suffice.   It kind of did, in that she gave me one, but ONLY ONE, and then began checking out the next person leaving me to BEG about half of my groceries, and then figure out a way to juggle the rest in my arms for the walk back to my hotel.  I looked completely ridiculous and all of Budapest mocked me.

It is clear to me that Matt and I are going to have to actually learn some of this language to at least appear polite.  We have downloaded a Hungarian language learning program and one of the set P.A.’s is set to give us daily short lessons that won’t make us cry.   Because this language is HARD you guys.  I can’t even pronounce half the stuff they say.  But we are resolutely immersing ourselves.  There is just no other way.

While I am overwhelmed, and a little homesick already, there is much to be grateful for.  So in closing this “initial impression” essay, I do want to list some things that seem awesome about this adventure.

  1. Budapest is beautiful.   Budapest szep!!    Matt’s eyes were agog as we drove past a castle in the middle of the city.  They call Budapest the hidden jewel of Europe and we are looking forward to having the chance to explore it for ourselves.  Not to mention the surrounding countries.  I can get to Rome in 2 hours.  Whaaaaat!?
  2. The food is actually pretty good!  It’s fresh, and tasty!  I haven’t eaten anything yet that makes me gag.
  3. Getting back to this job, to say that we are grateful to be here is an understatement. As a family, we have always wanted to break into the international scene, and this is easily the most international project we’ve ever worked on. There are actors from Germany, Ireland, England, Belgium, and America.  They have built an entire back lot simulating six full blocks of 19th century New York City that took our breath away. TNT is calling this their Game of Thrones.

In the last 18 months, Matt has screen tested nine times and received nine no’s.   Then, when finally he was cast in a movie, it was shut down two weeks into production.  To have him actually be the “chosen one” this time, on what promises to be an enormous period drama is vindication at the end of the rutted road of disappointment and despair we have traversed.   We literally feel like we’ve climbed Mt. Everest.   Or maybe the Alps, where we are standing this very minute, hands on hips, satisfied looks on our face, staring off into the distance.   The difficulties of life in Budapest……I can handle.

I know the Alps are not in Hungary, just go with me.


***A big thank you to Rodan and Fields and our consultant Marci Smith, for agreeing to send us a free replacement regimen as a one time courtesy.   Matt’s skin is saved.


Forbidding sign “No Video” on white – vector

Let the record state that Team Lintz will not be attending pilot season this year. Nope. Not doing it. A spiritual being that none of us can see planted a large hand on my head whenever I thought about heading west and pressed down firmly while my limbs windmilled helplessly. STAY, it said. Ok, invisible spiritual being that none of us can see, you got it!

And guess what? I am so so fine with that you guys, because pilot season sucks so, so badly! If you’re not an actor, pilot season is when you basically uproot yourselves to a temporary housing situation in Hollywood for 1-2 months, homeschool the kids, help them prepare auditions that come in at a fast clip, get them to coaching sessions at the last minute that cost over $100 a pop and drive them to opposite ends of the greater Los Angeles area at all hours of the day in, hands down, the worst traffic on the planet. I’ve been known to weep aloud upon receiving a last minute email about an appointment in Santa Monica at 4:40.

Not only that, you are doing this knowing that the entire enterprise will most likely be an exercise in futility because 10,000 other child actors are in Hollywood doing the same thing. Only so many jobs, guys. In the five years that we have gone to pilot season, we have booked exactly one pilot and this is a successful ratio. You arrive with high hopes, and leave wishing you were dead. But like child birth, you forget the part where you were screaming and punching your husband in the face when he was demonstrating breathing exercises for you during a particularly trying contraction (not that that ever happened to us), and there you are again on the 405 at rush hour a year later.

However…….I’d like to let you in on a little industry secret. This is something that your agent won’t tell you. Your manager won’t tell you. If you hesitantly bring it up, they will immediately start verbally flailing around and saying it’s non-sense, but it’s not. And I, the pied piper of anti stage-moms, will tell you the truth.

You don’t have to go. You. Don’t. Have. To. Go. YOU DON’T.

I will now support this point with several real life examples. The very first time we went to LA, we got lucky and Madison booked a pilot. Easy peasy, thought I! However, the second year we went there, Mackenzie decided to stay home. She wanted to focus on school, and discouraged by her last LA expedition, didn’t think she would book anything anyway. The rest of us went out there and performed several ritual sacrifices to no avail. Meanwhile, back home, Mackenzie booked a series regular role on Under the Dome off tape. From our house. In Atlanta. Somewhere Alanis Morissette nodded sagely.

The next year, Matt and I went out there again. Madison and Macsen too. Zero. Nada. Defeated utterly. We came home and Matt booked his largest role to date, a lead role in Pixels. Off tape. From our house. In Atlanta. The next year, Matt and I went out there AGAIN. Madison, daunted by “the great studio apartment debacle” of the year before (you have to save money somehow), stayed home and landed a series regular role on Bosch. From the taping room in our basement. In the state of Georgia.

What the hell are we doing? Why are we draining our bank accounts, and our reserves of sanity with these futile expeditions when it seems to me, that if you send in a good enough tape, and are exactly what they are looking for that you could land a perfectly great job from the comfort of your own home. I’ll pause while you skeptics (led by our beloved manager) hem and haw and say words like getting in rooms and face time!!! I’m all about face time! Literally. Face time me into a callback.

Nevertheless, even I did not believe my own hype and so last year, Macsen, Matt, Mackenzie and I, for the fifth time, made the trek across country. Lest any of you are still unconvinced that this was a bad idea, I have one more trick in my bag and it’s called let me relate the account of just DAY ONE of pilot season 2016. I wrote it down.

8:00   Wake up early, try to get right with the Lord. It works not at all because God does not ever go to Los Angeles.

8:30  Prep Matt for a feature film audition that we have to tape.

9:00  Get Macsen’s school work set up and wrestle him into his desk chair. He asks for a pencil.

9:01 Realize that with the 9500 things I packed for school, pencils were not one of them. Dig around in the bottom of both back packs while shouting something along the lines of, “NEITHER OF YOU HAVE A SINGLE FREAKING PENCIL IN YOUR BACKPACK? HOW DO YOU SURVIVE AT SCHOOL!?” They stare at me blankly.

9:10 Drag Macsen away from the iPad he retrieved while I searched for the one nubby pencil I found in my suitcase that they will now share as I refuse to be defeated.

9:15 Teach Macsen a math lesson while simultaneously making breakfast.

9:45  Drag Matt away from his PS4 that he secretly played while I taught Macsen his math lesson and tell him to begin school. He says he doesn’t know what he has to do.

10:10  Email Matt’s teacher to find out what he has to do, then drag Macsen away from his iPad to do spelling.

10:30 Drag Matt away from the PS4 he snuck back to while I was doing spelling with Macsen to tape his feature film audition.

11:00 Assemble and send tape for feature film while yelling into the other room school-like instructions for the boys. None of these instructions will be remotely followed.

11:21  Yell a lot about iPads and PS4’s and where I’m going to put them. The words up your butt and around the corner are used.

12:00 Gather all things necessary for Macsen’s audition that afternoon.

12:05  Lose keys.

12:30 Find Keys. Head to Mackenzie’s house which is 30 minutes away (don’t ask) because before we go to Macsen’s audition, I have to coach Mackenzie for her audition. Grab lunch on the way. Lunch will never cost less than $50 no matter where you go.

1:12 Leave boys at the neighborhood basketball court to play while I coach Mackenzie. They aren’t happy with the type of basketball rim on this particular court and say it won’t do. I roll my window up against their protests and drive away.

2:30 Coach Kenz for her audition.

3:00 Pick up boys from basket ball court. Prep Macsen for his audition that afternoon.

4:00 Drive an hour during rush hour into Hollywood for Macsen’s audition.

5:00 Drive an hour and a half in rush hour traffic BACK to Mackenzie’s house while wondering if meth is really that addictive.

6:30 Make dinner then head to Walmart because Matt has an audition tomorrow, but has not packed any pants. Not a single pair. I would think packing items to cover the lower half of your body would be a fairly obvious inclusion, but no. I also need to get the school supplies that no one thought to pack because I have to live everyone’s lives for them. Mackenzie also requests batteries for her fairy lights in her new room at her new house. I don’t even make a mental note of that nonsense.

7:30 Just AFTER I’ve paid, gotten back in the car and have driven away from Walmart, Matt texts me and says he has no socks either. I hang up on him, and turn to give a deadpan look to the imaginary camera filming our imaginary reality show.

8:00 Begin prepping Matt for his pilot audition the next day.

8:30 Leave Macsen at Mackenzie’s house to spend the night because Matt’s pilot audition is super early the next morning and I don’t want to leave Macsen alone at our house.

8:45 1/2 way home realize I forgot the pants I bought for Matt at Mackenzie’s house. He has no pants to wear to his audition the next day and no socks. My arms literally refuse to execute a U-turn. I just cannot. He will have to go pants-less and sock-less, like baby who is potty training.

9:00 Cry.

9:05 Do one more prep session with Matt for tomorrow’s pants-less audition.

9:30 Collapse into bed. Realize I can’t find my phone. Spend 39 minutes ripping apart the entire house, car, and every orafice on my body to find my phone. I cannot NOT have a phone in LA.

9:31 Cry again.

9:32 Pray.

9:38 Promise God I will never go to pilot season again if He finds my phone.

9:39 Find it. It’s in my shoe………what the….no memory of how it got there.

9:45 Watch the last 15 minutes of the Bachelor. Realize that at least I am not as pathetic as the women on this show. Then again, they are gorgeous and drinking wine and I am
catatonically staring into space clutching a cell phone and eating handfuls of M and M’s in a strange bed.

Ok.  So.  Multiply THAT day by about five weeks and you will find yourself wondering if this is, in fact, what a nervous break down must feel like. You will write to the President to suggest, rather than water boarding, that he may consider sending prisoners of war to Hollywood and putting them in charge of multiple child actors because in about 3 days they will tell you whatever you want to know. Or like me, you will total your rental car on the very last day in town and as you sit there, concussion forming, both airbags deployed, you will whisper to the sky, in final, irrevocable defeat, “Never. Again.”

So we didn’t go this year. I didn’t care what the ramifications of that decision were because nothing would matter anyway if I DIED, which I would have done had I gone back to that city this spring.

And here it comes. Wouldn’tcha know. Point proven yet again.

After three taped callbacks, and a taped screen test, Matt landed his first series regular role on a television show called The Alienist, opposite Dakota Fanning. From Atlanta. In our house. In our very own comfy taping room. Unbelievable. We don’t call it the magic taping room for nothing! (thumbs up and a cheesy grin)

So HA! Take that Los Angeles! Up your butt pilot season! The invisible hand didn’t send us out west this year because He knew that we would be going East instead!  Yep. You heard me!  We’re going to Eastern Europe.  Budapest to be exact! Where we will spend the next four months……and four months next year maybe…….and arguably four months a year for the next several years of our lives.   Four months a year in Eastern Europe, where I’ve been told to bring my own peanut butter, taco seasoning, and salad dressing. And where they don’t use ice.

I might should have gone to pilot season…….

The Barb Phenomenon

Let’s talk about Barb for a second.

If you know who I’m talking about, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, I’ll enlighten you. Barb is a character on the recently Golden Globe nominated Netflix show, Stranger Things. Poor Barb is the unfortunate side kick friend of Nancy, the gorgeous girl who usually gets everything while the unfortunate sidekick friend watches. Barb, lamenting her station in life at a high school party where she has been predictably left out, gets taken into the “upside down” by the “upside down” monster.

Aside from perhaps one or two lines of, “Hey…anyone seen Barb lately? No? K.”…her whereabouts are largely undiscussed. This is because they are too worried about their own son/brother, Will, who is also a captive of the upside down monster in the upside down. I don’t have time to explain to you what the upside down is, watch the show, but it’s bad. No one is signing up for vacation rentals there.

Anyway, even when they finally get young Will back in the season finale, no one even thinks to say… “Well gee willikers, I wonder if Barb is ok down there in the upside down? We might should try to find her too…” Nope. Barb is out of luck. They just assume that even though Will managed to make it out of there, yeah, Barb probably wouldn’t. Didn’t have it in her. Unfortunate side kicks are usually dead at this point in the story, so let’s just call it a day, and LEAVE HER THERE.

Ok. Now. Barb was in only three episodes out of the eight and is arguably a very minor character. But the appalling lack of Barb mourning unleashed such an outpouring of “BARB!!!!!” from the entire population of this country, that Barb immediately became an iconic metaphor for the parts of all us that have felt invisible and forgotten.

What this meant for Shannon Purser, the actress from Atlanta who played the role, is a metaphor for how the entire entertainment industry works, which will either leave you wildly hopeful or extremely depressed.

Barb began trending on twitter. Barb memes popped up on social media in the thousands. Shannon was asked to appear on Chelsea Handler’s talk show to discuss the Barb phenomenon. She immediately was snapped up to recur on, what I am certain will be the CW’s next hit show, Riverdale. She just landed the lead in a new feature film that is a modern day retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, and the cherry on top…… she was heavily featured in Jimmy Fallon’s Golden Globes opening musical number, much to the delight of the entire Stranger Things watching populace. All of the people wanted Barb. And then all of Hollywood wanted Shannon Purser. Yep. From booking zero jobs, to fame in sixty seconds flat.

Unbelievable, innit?

A disclaimer before I go into a full on stage mom at her least attractive rant: Shannon is a lovely person. We share the same agent and my husband has met her and spoken with her several times on the phone while helping her with appearances at fan conventions. We are thrilled for Shannon and laughing out loud in disbelieving hysterics right along with her. I am not in any way jealous for my own children, or staring at this Barb situation with a slack jaw. Not me. The world has been begging for the next Molly Ringwald, and clearly now they have her. I swear to you that I am not AT ALL, in my head right now, standing on the top of an ocean side bluff in Ireland, buffeted by sheets of rain shrieking “WHYYYYYYYYYYY????” to the heavens. Nope. I am so supportive of this thing.

However, this does bring to my mind several inviolable truths about this business as a whole that I, and all who participate, must face. I am so thrilled to share them with you:

Inviolable Truth #1:

Seniority does not always equal notoriety. Sometimes it DOES. But the number of years, collectively, that myself and my children have been working away in this business is about 52. While there are pockets of people who do know who we are (The Walking Dead fandom is like nothing you’ve ever seen), we have not remotely achieved what I would call water cooler fame. Shannon Purser, in three episodes of Stranger Things, has done so handily. We have never appeared on anything greater than a local news station, let alone hung out with Chelsea Handler. We have never attended an awards show. The number of Lintz’s who have been number one on a call sheet is exactly zero. How can that happen!?

Inviolable Truth #2:

This business is 10% talent. And 90% being in the right place, at the right time, with the right role, on the right project, at the pitch perfect moment in American zeitgeist. Now, granted, if you do not possess the 10% (talent), it will not matter what happens in the 90% (zeitgeist). But if you do, as clearly Shannon did, and you nail something right on its head, there is no telling what can happen to you seemingly over night. And you cannot predict this. Which brings me to……

Inviolable Truth #3:

The level of zeitgeist nailage that occurs is directly proportional to the amount that the zeitgeist nailage is NOT predicted. In other words, if you hope for, fantasize about, or even THINK whatever project you’re involved with may catapult you to instant fame, I guarantee it will do the exact opposite of that. In a parallel universe somewhere is another Shannon Purser, who very unfortunately said out loud, “I think this is the one guys!”, and was never seen or heard from again. Fortunately, Shannon was sincerely grateful just to have booked her first job. (Note: The key word is “sincerely”. You can’t pretend to be humble while conjuring grandiosity. The universe knows if you’re rehearsing an Oscar speech.)

I have to wonder if there had been even one or two more lines where someone said, “It is imperative that we spend an entire episode hunting for Barb,” if I would be writing this blog post. Again, no disrespect to Shannon. She played the role pitch perfectly! I am not methodically punching holes in my studio walls or crushing my audition taping video camera underneath my combat booted feet in any way! But think about it. Because the writers did not show concern for Barb, it was left to US to do so. We rose to the occasion, and flooded the internet with a veritable Barb milk carton. And if you’re trending, Hollywood will snap you up faster than middle schoolers snap up pizza.

In all honesty, we have been the recipients of such good fortune on a smaller scale. Madison’s audition for The Walking Dead was one 30 second take in our basement, because she wasn’t feeling it that day. She got the job, no one had any idea that The Walking Dead would be what it was (Rule #3!!!), and boom, she has a career. Mackenzie didn’t even want to DO her audition for Norrie on Under the Dome because she wanted to focus on school that spring and didn’t think she had a shot in hades of booking the job anyway. She grudgingly taped it in her pajamas with a messy bun, and that is the absolute truth. Three seasons later college is paid for, thank you Under the Dome!

All I am saying is the best you can do in this crazy business of ours, is do the work because you love the work. You can not plan for, or predict the resulting accolades. You can not execute a fame plan. And I would argue that perhaps you don’t want to. Some of the most miserable people I know are famous. Some of the happiest are what I call working class actors. But that’s another blog post. For now, we will watch Shannon with huge SMH grins on our faces, while we are absolutely NOT burning an enormous pile of audition sides in our cul-de-sac, and continue to labor, very gratefully, in our relative obscurity.

Actually, there IS a guy out there somewhere who has a tattoo of Madison on his arm……that’s pretty cool………