Discovering the Real Me

Hello everyone, if you came to this page because of the video, I must welcome you.

A little bit of my history and backstory can be found here:

From Zac to Zoey

I recorded this video five weeks into starting HRT (hormone replacement therapy), and by the time it was posted, another six weeks have passed. And while I’m writing this post at the end of the seven week marker, things are only getting better and better. Yes, my emotions are that of a teenage girl, but the physical changes are starting to kick in. If you’ve been following along on IG (#zr365), you’ll see what has changed already in the face, and plenty more changes are still on the horizon.

While at the time of this writing (day 50 of the rest of my life), I’m still presenting male. Partially because I’m still a Sasquatch. The body hair removal is a slow (and really expensive) process, and I’ve really only started laser on my face, which hurts so bad. Electrolysis will start towards the end of March, as the laser can’t kill out the greys, and since I waited so long, I have plenty of those. The body hair is thinning out as the hair cycles replenish, which is a plus, but I’m also doing a little bit of hair removal, and at least it isn’t poking into my clothes by 5 p.m. that evening. Oh how I love hormones. :)

For those who are worried about what pronouns or name to use, do whatever feels comfortable to you for the time being. I’m still Zac, though you can just say Z, or if you feel like it, Zoey will eventually be the name that sticks. I get it, using the original name or male pronouns seems to be easier while I still present in public as a male. I don’t know when the day is that I’ll start going part time, as I still feel so much like a fraud, and I don’t want people going “there goes a dude in a dress.”  Eventually I’ll be full time, considering some physical changes are happening and the fat distribution is already doing its thing.

E and K, I know your big day is coming up at the tail-end of Summer, and no need to worry. No matter how much the external has changed, I will present male at the wedding. It is your day, and I can’t distract from that.

To my parents, I will try to only present as male when I’m around you until full acceptance is there. While I know you’re supportive, when one person transitions, we all transition. This wasn’t the easiest thing to be thrown your way, but I’m appreciative of your willingness to accept your child’s own happiness. I offer this to you until I go full time, as at that point I’ll hopefully be able to pass or come close to passing, and then it would be awkward for me to be in guy mode.

To the friends that thought Chelle and I didn’t date because I was gay? Close, but just a bit off the mark. While I was never a gay male, I am a really a lesbian. I’m glad that you all went to her to ask about me, but you could have come to me directly. Sure, I would have given a little white lie on what I was dealing with, but I just wasn’t ready to come out yet.

To all those who checked in on me when I was posting about therapy and the constant doctor’s visits, I appreciate your concern more than anything. Here’s your answer on what was going on all that time. Transitioning should never be taken lightly, and I must thank my team of my first therapist, Mike; Dr Z who runs an amazing support group for all the amazing Trans Women on the Westside; Melissa, my therapist at the LGBT center; and Dr. Kayla at the LGBT Center. Mike, you held my hands through the first steps, learning along the way, and eventually handing me off so my best interest were treated. Melissa, I love our chats and the help you’ve given in the last couple sessions. And Kayla, your smile and support has been wonderful. I can’t wait until my three month check up so you can see what has already blossomed. And to all the wonderful women in my support group,  I love our monthly meetups.

To those friends and family that knew over the last couple months. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve learned that I’m the exception to the rule when it comes to having a strong support system. So many lose friends, family and jobs by being their true selves. That was my biggest fear on ever coming forward, and I could have hidden this longer, but it was time to stop living a lie. Hell, I’m such a horrible actor, but I’ve been playing a part for the past 30+ years. Almost fucking Oscar-worthy as so many people were shocked when I told them.

To everyone who posted reactions to my photos over the last couple months, I’m glad that the happiness is shining through. The comments of “you look so happy,” “Whatever you’re doing, keep it up,” “What type of pills are you taking? Are you okay, as you seem to be doing better than ever.” While I’m not on any anti-depressants, hormones have had almost a similar affect on my mind, body and soul.

In the end, I might lose some of you, and that’s a bummer. Many more of you might have questions, so feel free to leave them in the comments below, message me on FB, or shoot me a text/give me a call. I’m an open book, and I realize that this isn’t just about me, but about all you wonderful people who have chosen to have me in your life. While the outside might change, the inside will remain the same. I’ll still try to be that awesome person that I always strive to be. It’s just so wonderful to wake up every day and finally feel some internal peace and calm. And as the changes continue and the dysphoria if further stripped away, my smiles should become even more prevalent.

Here’s a short little video by SOSara that tackles ten of the myths of trans people:

10 Transgender Myths- MtF SOSara

Thank you for being in my life and for this new journey we can all go on together.

Finally Removing all the Bricks

For those who have known me a long time, y’all know I tend to keep my feelings all bundled up and keep my highs and lows well hidden. I never wanted to be a burden to anyone, but I would always reach out whenever I saw someone might be going through a tough time. Everyone would come before my own self and my own happiness, and part of that made me content in life.

I had grown accustomed to building one hell of a wall around myself and what I was dealing with. I could get through life without letting those in on what struggles were manifesting deep within my soul. I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer of any sorts, so I would wear my armor to keep me from getting hurt.

But deep down I was hurting. I was afraid. The depression would continue to grow and grow, but the armor still protected me from anyone truly knowing how sad I was inside. And by not talking about the issues at hand, it would fester and grow, so I would eat or do something else to sabotage myself. To allow layers and layers of fat to be a physical manifestation of the protective coat I would adorn.

This became my constant cycle. The battlefront that I would face day in and day out. The piles of bricks in front of me, keeping my already fragile and sad interior hidden from all, as that was the only way I knew how to cope with all this.

Then it happened. I hit rock bottom. I crashed so hard.

Around the time that this photo was taken, I didn’t have any fight left in me. The battles and the lies and the fake faces I put on when I was out and about… I couldn’t take it anymore. My head and my heart were so underwater I couldn’t breathe anymore. And when the inner critic spoke up one night, I wanted to end it all. And in normal Zac fashion, I had to go get my final meal of a pizza and some ice cream. While I was eating that final meal I decided to do a little Googling and to possibly find some inspiration, and thankfully I found it. And there was lots and lots of it out there. What I needed to read. What I needed to hear. And more importantly, what I needed to see.

Sure, I could have called any one of the countless friends and talked through everything, but there were too many bricks and layers that surrounded me. Instead, I found solace in countless strangers on the internet. I wasn’t alone. Many have come before me and learned to love themselves, to grow, and to live a truly happy life. The next morning I called my insurance and found out what sort of mental health coverage I had. I dug through local providers that would take my insurance and specialized in what has plagued me my whole life. And doing those steps was removing the first bricks in front of me.

Over the next couple months in my weekly sessions, more protective layers would be removed. Before a diagnosis was confirmed, I started opening up to some friends, which was removing more and more of the protective layers. Then removing the biggest layers of all was talking it out with some family members. As layers were pealed back, the fear would lessen. Happiness was starting to seep into my every day life that I hadn’t felt in over a decade.

I would vaguely talk about this and my struggles online in hopes that it may help others. And help others it did. The countless amount of calls, texts and PMs since the end of Summer has been wonderful. I could be an ear once again to those who were struggling, even if some were just an acquaintance online. The stories of rape, eating disorders, sexuality, depression, anxiety and so many other things. The friends who would say thank you for talking about ending the stigma of depression and other mental illnesses, all while asking how I was doing. Each of these conversations helped remove more and more of the protective layer that had piled upon my soul.

I’m now 81 days in on living a wonderful life. For those who follow along on the Gram, you can go back to the beginning and see how I never smiled, but now they come through so authentically. It’s no longer a facade. I truly am happy and loving life for the first time in so long. For those who don’t follow me there, maybe you’ve noticed it on Facebook. I know some of you have, as I’ve been told so many times “you look so happy,” “whatever you’re doing, keep it up,” among many other words of encouragement. For those that I’ve spilled the beans to I’ve been told some other things, but that’s saved for the post going live later on April 17th.

And now that the day is rapidly approaching… I’m scared. I’m happy to be putting this out there, though I truly am frightened. Not for what people will think or if anyone will even care, but because this is the final layer. The last piece that I can hide behind, and I’ve never been so truthful, honest and raw at any point in my life. Once this layer is removed anyone following along will see my soul for what it is. Every single flaw. All the pain and suffering. But all that past turmoil has made me who I am today, and who I’ll continue to be in the future.

I was recently asked by someone why I’m being so public with this, and it is because I must pay it forward. This post only exists because of some strangers on the internet putting their own heart and soul for all to see. Countless strangers that I’ll never cross paths with, though I did get to meet one recently and told them how much their videos have meant to me, and I want to be a voice in that choir. If I can help save one life, then this is all worth it. All the pain, all the suffering, all the battles within… Just know it does get better. And just like a roller coaster, there will still be ups and downs, but that smile WILL return, just like mine has.

And if you need someone to talk to, shoot me an email here, if you have my cell it is on 24/7, a message on FB, or on Twitter. Your secrets and struggles are safe with me. Don’t bottle it up like I did. The pressure will build and build until it feels like life isn’t worth living anymore, but it is. Every day is precious, and it would be a little more dull if you weren’t in it.

Confessions of a food addict

Addiction runs in my genes, and it’s something that I’ve always had to battle my whole life. There has been an addiction to gambling, a slight addiction at one time to alcohol, and an addiction to smoking hookah. They’ve all been overcome at some point, and rarely have I slipped up, except with the exception of smoking the hookah. I tell ya, thank God I can’t stand cigarettes, as the nicotine addiction is truly a devil in disguise. While smoking a single bowl of hashish, it is only the equivalency of inhaling two cigarettes. Considering a session is about 60-120 minutes, that ain’t too bad. But when you do it every day, it’s a problem.

But I’m digressing a bit from my original point of this post. While addiction is real, at least I can survive without that sweet taste of nicotine coated in a sweet fruit flavored molasses. BUT, the body needs food to survive. You need to nourish your body to live day after day, and even if you put the bad stuff in you, at least you’re feeding your body to expend (or store) those calories. Though, I know I should eat better, and that I should stick to a diet that is best for me. The problem arises when I’m stressed. I binge eat. I consume things because my mind has told me it fills this void deep within my soul, and only that delicious concoction can satisfy that need. It has been something I’ve struggled with since my later years as a preteen. See, I wasn’t always fat, but when my family moved and I had no friends, my comfort was coated in the decadence of ice cream, quesadillas, and string cheese. My eight year old body morphed from that of a kid with visible ribs, to shopping in the husky section over summer between third and fourth grade.

It was humiliating, here I am going into a new school, and now I’m going to be known as the fat kid. Sure, I was overweight, but it wasn’t as bad as it could (and would) become. Also this was a time that I learned that the layer of fat carried on my body could be used as a protective barrier for my feelings. Someone didn’t like me, it was because I was fat. If I was horrible at sports, it was because I was fat. And when hormones and puberty came into play, it could always be used as the reason why I’m single. It worked for a bit, and it was also used as another level of protection for other issues I was dealing with at the time, until 8th grade. Hormones were a flutter, girls were the basis of too many of my thoughts, and I started to lose some weight. I slimmed up. I still had some extra weight, but I was partially comfortable in my body, minus the ugly body hair. But that’s a whole different post.

Through high school the weight came back on. The suppressing of issues allowed me to eat my feelings again. I wasn’t popular in those years, but I wasn’t a complete outcast. I had a good core group of friends, and I was content with that. The fat layer was used as an excuse as the reason I wasn’t popular. It was the reason why I wasn’t dating. And it was also helping me hide some internal struggles. Once again, I was addicted to food, until my senior year. It was a year of change. My first and second girlfriends. The time of “becoming a man”. And between inner struggles and feeling like I should care about my body if I care for someone else, the weight came off. Part of it was due to high levels of stress. I would eat one meal a day and sometimes I would throw that up. It was a vicious cycle of me losing 24 pounds in a month and ultimately going from 204 to graduating at 159… one pound less than I started high school at.

Then depression hit. It hit so fucking hard. Inner struggles and fights. My lose of interest in school as I felt I wasn’t being pushed to my fully capacity. Problems at home, even if some of them were just typical teenage angst. And the idea of my first longterm relationship falling apart. I was a mess. And one day after the feelings got lower than low, I seriously contemplated suicide. To me, there was no reason to go on. There was nothing to live for if I had to continue to fight what was inside of me, the things I hated about life, and the thought of my future crumbling. So I started writing my manifesto. I bitched. I moaned. I was so fucking emo in this thing, but I realized that writing could be cathartic and a way to let off steam. To vent those daily frustrations. And to put my thoughts out there when I wouldn’t want to bother any friends with my asinine issues.

The last page, in huge letters I wrote one thing. I NEED HELP. I wanted a future. I wanted to beat this horrible moment in my life. I was at a low, but fuck, it could get better. I could hopefully climb out of this funk and hopefully live a life with a smile from time-to-time. And to this day, I must thank Robin for seeing the hurt in the letter and calling the authorities. I spent three days and some hours in a mental health facility working through some of my issues that I never explored. Sure, I didn’t go through everything, as an eighteen year old doesn’t know how to comprehend everything that is in the deepest recess of their mind. I saw I had friends that cared. That the family was supportive. That there was a great support network as my basis of surviving. I wouldn’t have to do this alone, even if the end I was left heartbroken.

Over time the weight fluctuated up and down. Always ranging between that low weight of 158 and the high 180s. Yeah, still fat, but not completely obese. Then I fell in love with another girl. She became my everything. I still adore Christine to this day, and it makes me happy that she found her true happiness and has two little kids that she always wanted. But she allowed me to be me. She loved me for me and didn’t judge anything about me. Then when the shit hit the fan in my life, I slowly pushed her away. And to this day I can’t apologize enough for what I put her through, but at least she ended up happy and with everything she wanted.

With the changes going on in the personal life, the weight slowly crept up. Work also started becoming a drag. I hated what I did, and as the creative side was suppressed more and more, the weight came on and before I moved to LA, I was at 219 pounds. I was eating, but I was throwing up almost daily on my way to work. I knew a change needed to happen and I moved to LA. The land of skinny folk, which was another tough battle. I was still slinging the wireless phones, and lost a little weight, and then went to trying to write full time. Sitting on my ass, eating like shit, and not really having many friends, the weight came on, and on and on. Then I got a job where I sat on my ass for 40+ hours a week. Plus all the networking with food and alcohol. My weight continued to creep.

Then the economic collapse happened. Another go around with this sweet girl Kelly became a possibility, even though I thought it would never come to fruition. We had planned to get married in Vegas, but soon before the day, we both decided to call it quits. We barely knew one another. We hadn’t spent enough time with each other over the years, and ultimately I like to think it was the best thing to happen to her. She grew. She flourished, and has become a great success in her chosen field and with an awesome husband.

But I was battling things. I was hiding from trying to be myself. I hated the way I looked, especially in the land of size zero and skinny jeans. I was an anomaly. And I decided to try to make a go at weight loss in 2010. I went up and down. I tried every diet known to man. I kept losing and gaining the same weight over and over. I was using food to cope with so many different things and I would start and stop a million times. I would waste so much money and effort on buying healthy food, only to stop for something of comfort in the drive through lane on my way home. The battle continued. I constantly lost.

In 2014 I started getting serious about my fitness. I’m starting to hit the back half of my thirties, so it’s now or never. Plus I was sick often, not knowing what was causing the constant battle with countless bugs. Some of it was stress, some was depression, and part of it was even living in a building with toxic mold. My body was sick, and I was sick and tired of being over weight. I still constantly started and stopped, but the first time some people saw me after a while, they would comment on how much weight I’ve lost. This was only with twenty pounds gone, but it made me start to feel better about myself. I could do this! I could overcome what people push off as “it’s just genetics”. Though I would constantly plateau between 235 and 245 for the next year and a half.

One night I was browsing Hulu trying to find something to watch. I came across a show called My Diet is Better Than Yours, and as a fan of watching Biggest Loser, even if I feel such shows are toxic for the overweight viewers, I was hooked with one trainer and his plan. Abel James was constantly motivating his contestant. The results were phenomenal, even if these weight loss shows are truly unobtainable for the average human. They have dieticians, coaches, doctors, and are constantly being monitored. This is the reason why so many put back on the weight after they leave the programs and real life kicks back in.

Though Abel James’s plan seemed simple. It’s semi-paleo, and it doesn’t make fat the enemy. Basically you can summarize his Wild Diet as “buying the best foods you can afford.” You want a great mix of healthy fats, quality proteins, and vegetables. When I’m on plan, my calories break down to about 60% from fat, 30% from proteins and 10% from carbs. I jumped in, as the low fat craze makes for very boring food. Fat is where the flavor is, and being able to not feat fat, I was loving it. Sure, I still had my cheat meals (or days), and sometimes I had more than I should have due to stress and my food addiction, but I was losing weight.

I also got on an awesome workout plan at Orange Theory Fitness. This place kicked my ass. The first session I spent 48 minutes of the 54 minute class in a heart rate zone of 85%+, with about 18 of those minutes at 91% or above. I was out of shape, but I enjoyed the workout. I signed up for their classes, dropping an astronomical sum of $129 per month for eight classes. This is basically how much I pay per year to attend LA Fitness. Part of the problem, spending so little left very little loss if I never used it. And within my first month at OTF, I attend more workout sessions than I had in the previous five years of paying for LA Fitness. Money was a motivator for me, and if I’m going to pay that much, I might as well lose it.

So finally I’m getting my life under control. The eating is going better, even if I’m only being good about 70% of the time. Then after dropping 40 pounds in total from all my starting and stopping and this new venture, I hit a plateau. Things were stressful in my life, and some stuff I’ve buried starting brewing up to the surface. I started cheating more and more on my eating, and then one night my inner critic said the worst thing ever.

“No matter how much weight you lose, you’ll never have the body you want.”

Seriously, FUCK YOU to my inner saboteur. I hit a high point in my depression. Something I hadn’t felt in years. Hell, even in over a decade since before I moved to the city of LA and Broken Dreams. This kicked me in the gut. I cried. I felt like shit, and I did what I always do when I feel like shit, I went to the store, got a large pizza and some ice cream. I ate that whole sucker to myself. Digiorno Pizza (and all other pizza brands) would like you to believe that it should be 5 servings. Ha! I laugh at your assumptions as I can easily pack this all away by myself in one sitting. We all know left over pizza doesn’t taste the same when reheated, so why ruin it. Eat it all! And I did just that, along with the pint of ice cream. Over a full days calories in that short window of so many minutes. And I probably had a shitty lunch earlier in the day. If I go back at check MyFitnessPal, this will 100% be confirmed, but I’m in the zone for writing, so there’s no time for research.

I felt horrible. And while I know I would never take my life, I couldn’t help but feel I was in that same place I was almost 19 years earlier when I ended up in the ward. So I started writing for myself. To explore the inner depths of my mind. What is bothering me? What does my saboteur mean that “I’ll never have the body I want?” I know I’m broad chested and bigger shoulders, and no matter what, I know I’ll never be super skinny, as it would look weird. I can’t explain it here, but in a future post I know I can dig deeper and fully express what I mean. Now is not that time, as this is food related.

So I started the writing and the tears flowed as my fingers clipped away on the keyboard. Words spewed out of me, and part of me is upset that I didn’t save that file, as I’m sure it would be wonderful to reflect back on as a moment that would finally start to alter my life. The writing gave context. The words formed to tell me what I’ve always battled. Why I go to food. Why I use my weight as a barrier to keep my protected from outside sources. And that’s when the research began.

As anyone who truly knows me, I like to go down the rabbit hole of the web. I’ll start with a simple search and continue to dig, refine and read my way through all sides of the issues that I’m battling. So I started with food and addiction. I went back to the thoughts of body dysphoria from my time with the 5150. I went through and looked up other people who hated what I truly hated about myself. I went to the negative side of things for far too long, and it didn’t help with all that pizza and ice cream sitting in my gut. Then I started to come out the other end of the spiral. I started to find people that tackled the issue at hand and work to truly make themselves happy.

I ended up in this awesome loop of videos on YouTube that showed me I wasn’t alone. That my story was similar to many that battle this every day of their life until they say enough is enough. Sure, not all were the same story, but the biggest motivator was seeing when the person in the video went from being depressed with their situation, to fully living life. Not only did their smiles change from those of being forced to actually being genuine, but most had a new light in their eyes. The pain was finally gone, while not completely with some, but you could finally see the shift of the interior soul. And then I saw the video that would finally give me hope. No, I won’t post it here, but I will in a future long-winded spiel. I promise.

The next step would be therapy. I would start to address my issues. The ones buried under years of hiding, the love-hate relationship with food, the battle with my body, and anything else that I could uncover in my weekly sessions. It was easy to navigate my insurance’s website to find someone nearby that would have a specialty in all my messed up issues. And I found him. If you need a good guy in LA, let me know and I’ll pass along his information privately. That first session was scary for me. I almost threw up on the way there, but alas I sat across from a stranger and let the words flow, just like I am now, and the tears would follow. While talking about some things that bothered me, I learned I smile as a defensive mechanism to try and hide the pain. And as I saw the clock was counting down, I mentioned the biggest thing bothering me. Something that I never said out loud, and it felt freeing. And in the following weeks we’ve started working through all the issues and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is. Tracking on my sleep shows I’m less restless and my resting heart rate has gone back down.

Yet the food has still been a battle sometimes. I stress eat and I eat things that I know are harming my body. I KNOW I feel better when I cut out gluten, but the best pizza isn’t gluten free nor are the best hamburger buns. I know the brain fog is gone when I avoid it. I know the lethargic nature is non-existent when I eat this way. But yet I also wreck my progress. I always let that inner voice cause me to slip up more than I should. Then I do my weekly official weigh-in, and then I feel down again. It’s a never ending cycle that I want to improve, yet for some reason I couldn’t.

Finally, I can’t slip up anymore. I have to make changes and change my way of thinking. Not because I want to, but because part of my healthy has deteriorated. I ended up with walking pneumonia a few weeks back and was put on antibiotics. Not the normal Penicillin or Amoxicillin as I have an allergy to those two, but one that I need to eat with, otherwise my stomach becomes a mess. So as I’m relegated to bed rest to kick this to the curb, I’m still keeping my calories up to avoid stomach issues. Then, a couple days later I ended up having a pain in my lower abdomen. I went back to urgent care and after the doc touched my gut, he quickly had me head to the ER to check for appendicitis. Here I am, bed ridden and now probably having to go under the knife to remove this thing that is possibly killing me. My mind was a wreck, but once the CT scan was done, I was told it was diverticulitis.

What is that you may ask? It’s an inflammation of the gut, and I’ll leave it at that, as I don’t know the last time you ate anything. And as a foodie, I know how important it is to keep that delicious food down. Can’t let it all go to waste. I was put on a liquid diet, one that I also included protein shakes so I wouldn’t lose too much muscle while I had more days of bed rest added to my new set of antis. I did my research. I went down the rabbit hole of this disease, but so much information conflicts with other information. Small seeds are bad. No they’re not. Surgery is the only option. Diet could keep you from undergoing surgery. Then I found out a writer I knew was misdiagnosed with the disease but then found out it really was colon cancer. I wish he was still around as I’d love to ask him his symptoms. But alas, he lost his battle with the disease earlier this year.

Thankfully my insurance got me into a GI specialist. I’ll be going under the scope soon to make sure the diagnosis is what the CT scan said, but I’m still stressed about it. The doc also talked over my other digestive issues and is assuming I’m lactose intolerant. It’s a bummer he won’t run an allergy test, but instead he prescribed an AIP Diet. Basically you cut out everything that could be an irritant or something you’re allergic to. No grains, no eggs, no dairy, no night shades, limited fruit. I also need to make sure what I’m eating is low in FODMAPS as some of those could also be the bastard who is causing my gut (and body) so much pain. This will be followed for 4 to 8 weeks, or whenever my gut and body finally feels better. At that point I could slowly start to reintroduce different things (though they advise to still always avoid gluten), so I’ll probably start with cheese, as my food addicted brain is causing my mouth to go all Pavlov just typing out this sentence.

So while it sucks that my body has gone into such a broken down state that it is causing so much hurt within the body and the soul, at least I know I HAVE to follow this eating pattern to the T. I can’t cheat on a meal. I have to avoid the chocolate, the sugar, the pizza. Avoid the stuff that makes this fatty want to eat. I have to find the culprit and lock it away, otherwise I WILL never have that body I want. I will never being running at one hundred percent, partially due to the decades of neglect, but at least I can get it running as smoothly as possible. There is a bright light at the end of this tunnel. And while I won’t be able to have everything I’ve loved ever again, some stuff I can still keep around if it isn’t that dang thing my body just doesn’t compute with.

So this food addict he did what he always does. I went and had all my favorite meals over the last couple days like a dead man walking. I had the pepperoni pizza. I savored every bite of the garlic burger from Coral Cafe. I had Baskin Robins Gold Medal Ribbon. I had some carne asada nachos from this little hole-in-the-wall spot on Santa Monica that I don’t know the name of. I ate these meals. I savored every bite. And before and after every single meal, I meditated. I wrote about the meal. I wrote what I liked, but I also listed why it is bad for me. Why it is harming me from the inside out. I waved goodbye for now, and if they aren’t one of the bad stimulants, I’ll have you again. But I know, I know my body deserves to be treated with respect. There’s only so many years here on this planet, and I’m slowly working on healing my mind (

The Best TV of 2015

I‘ve really been lazy and neglecting this blog as of late, and I’ll try to remedy that in the new year, that is, unless I make it a resolution, as we all know how those turn out.

But I’m already making excuses… so let’s get to the best television that has aired this past calendar year. Sure, I could go through and put them in some sort of order, but that is trivial and will cause some people to call me an idiot (which I don’t dispute) for not liking a certain show or putting it too far down on the list. So instead I’m cheating and listing things alphabetically. Yes, I’m a chicken-shit like that.

So here are the 15 best TV shows of 2015:

Broad City – Abbi and Illana are not like most women you see on television. They feel real. They have dreams and flaws like every human on this earth. Yet their characters are what you’d normally see in a Judd Apatow-esque comedy from the dudes. But these girls make me laugh over and over, week-after-week and I can’t wait for season 3. Best episode: Knockoffs (S02E04)

Catastrophe – When I first landed on Twitter I followed a bunch of celebs and comedians before finding out that I was wasting too much of my time and deleted a bunch. One of the few that I kept following was Rob Delaney, so I was stoked to find out he would be starring in a TV series. While this comes from across the pond, it still hits home by having Delaney as the American fish-out-of-water who sticks around after knocking up Sharon while in London. While series from Channel 4 are shorter than their American counterparts, I wanted more episodes, even if the two series that aired this year perfectly paced. Best Episode S02E01

Game of Thrones – Of course Game of Thrones is on my list, but it is quickly falling in rankings if I were to put this in numerical order. At times I wish the season could be longer as there are just too damn many characters to deal with, so each character seems to only receive a couple minutes of screen time per episode. But I keep coming back. Best episode: Mother’s Mercy (S05E10)

The Jinx – I was late to the game on The Jinx, having to binge the series in one week to be caught up by the time the finale rolled around. Robert Durst is an interesting man. A man who believes everything he says, or is it that he perfectly calculates every move, word and emotion that he utters? The man is clearly insane, but as each episode unravels, more is added to the madness, all coming to a strong conclusion in the final minute of the series. Did Durst know he was still mic’d, and it was all part of the game, or did he finally slip up once and for all? Best Episode: What the Hell Did I Do? S01E06

Last Week Tonight – I used to have time to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, but as 2015 became more and more insane with each passing week, the amount of free time to watch 8 episodes a week was perfectly boiled down to an hour a week from John Oliver. Some episodes barely contained laughs, while others had perfectly crafted segments to go viral so they could educate some of the masses on a variety of topics.

The Leftovers – Season 1 was depressing as anything I’ve ever endured on television. It was bleak. Bleary. And knowing the creators would never answer the question surrounding why three percent of the world’s population vanished, I was questioning if I should go on another ride from Damon Lindeloff. But season 2 has cemented this show as one of the finest things to grace the small screen. Sure, there were more questions than answers, but the finale at least gave the viewers enough closure, that if HBO were to cancel it too soon, at least it would be satisfactory. Thankfully the decision makers have decided to give it one more season to come to a conclusion. Also it helps that this show has some of the best use of music of any filmed medium, supervised by Liza Richardson. Best Episode: International Assassin S02E09

Master of None – Speaking of use of music… Master of None has the second best use of music in a television series. But that isn’t all this show has going for it. The laughs are solid. The characters all feel real, the situations seem true to life, and having a great mix of supporting characters helps balance out Aziz. Best episode: Parents S01E02 (Hell, this episode could be chosen based on the cold open alone)

Mr. Robot – I was weary stepping into this show based on the title and billboards that were everywhere in LA. Plus coming from USA, which hasn’t been known for its serious dramas, didn’t help matters. By the end of the pilot I was hooked for the rest of the series. The idea of a blackhat hacker isn’t new. Hell, the show is even obvious to some of its predecessors that it was clearly influenced by (e.g. An instrumental of Where is my Mind). Hopefully Rami will be someone that shoots up on the casting departments lists. And honestly, this show has me struggling on which is the best episode, so I’ll say S01E01 so you start at the very beginning.

Parks and Recreation – Sure this might be the weakest pick on the list, based that it had one of the weaker seasons in recent memory. Or maybe it’s the fact that NBC decided to burn this off with a shortened season where 2 episodes aired each night. I don’t know why it felt weak to me, but it did. Where it exceeded though is in the series finale. Think back to previous series finales for a comedy, and some of the most loved shows had final episodes that even the most beloved of fans hate (e.g. Seinfeld). But the creators sent all the characters of Pawnee off in fashion, perfectly wrapping up the present with a magnificent bow. Best episode: S07E13

Rick and Morty – No, this series doesn’t make the list because it was co-created by fellow Manteca alum Justin Roiland, but because it is one of the most crazy, bat-shit, insane thirty minutes of television each and every week. And thankfully they toned down the burning of Rick this season, as it was one of the few complaints from season 1. Best episode S02E04 Total Rickall

Silicon Valley – Another great season, even if it didn’t have a moment as wonderful as the “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency” that was in season 1. Though the show was strong from beginning to end, constantly following the paradigm of Entourage, but in a way that feels fresh and invigorating week-after-week. Sure, every episode begins with the guys on top, then being knocked down, only to try and end up or further down by the end of the episode. Yes, it’s formulaic, but somehow works. Probably from the strong ensemble cast, where there is not one week character. Best Episode S02E04 The Lady

South Park – Seriously? How the hell is this series still this strong so deep into their run? It could be due to the short production window (from concept to air in 6 days), or maybe when the world is in such a horrific PC-state, those who do satire well have the pulpit to preach from. And the season-long arcs help each episode to build to an epic (though I had higher hopes) conclusion. Best episode S19E08 Sponsored Content

Transparent – Okay, this is sort of a cheat, as I haven’t seen any of season 2, which is what actually aired this calendar year. But I’m making a decision to include this, as I finally was able to catch season 1 during this year. Sure, it’s cheating, but it’s my list and I’m allowed to make a single concession without losing credibility (like I have any). The Pfefferman’s are all sorts of fucked up, but they’re worth going on the journey. No one is likable, and this is proof against those screenwriting gurus that constantly tout “you’re characters need to be likable!” It’s Always Sunny has been on the year for how many years, and those are some of the most despicable humans on TV (except maybe the two leads on Difficult People – which deserves an honorable mention), yet they keep coming back year-after-year. Best Episode S01E08 The New Girl

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – The new 30 Rock. What, you didn’t like that? Then you might as well move on as you will hate this show (probably) just as much. The laughs come flying a mile a minute, and the just downright likable Ellie Kemper as Kimmy, this show makes me smile non-stop. But Zac, you contradicted yourself from the previous entry regarding the whole likable/unlikable thing. See kiddos, there are no rules in storytelling, other than to make your stories riveting and the characters someone you want to see week-after-week, whether you love ’em or hate ’em. Best episode S01E05 Kimmy Kisses a Boy

You’re the Worst – Never has a comedy made me feel so bad at times. While season 1 was a true gem, season 2 took everything and pushed everything up a couple notches. I would laugh one minute and have “the feels” (god, how I hate this saying) the next. Some people complained that they went a little too deep with Gretchen and her depression, but that is what sealed the deal for me. I’ve been there. I’ve been there before and I know how that feels. I know what it is to push something away, yet want nothing more. To feel like you’ll never be good enough, but know you kick ass. Thank you Fxx for having the faith to give this hard-to-sell show another season. It makes up for cancelling The Comedians, which for some reason people hated, but I found a soft spot for it in my heart. Best episode S02E13 The Heart is a Dumb Dumb (but since I’ve put too many season/series finales I’ll say S02E08 Spooky Sunday Funday

Stuff that I didn’t watch that I plan to catch in 2016:

The Affair (season 2), Ash vs. Evil Dead, Better Call Saul, Daredevil Fargo, Jessica Jones, Making a Murderer, True Detective (yes, I still haven’t seen season 1), Unreal.

So is there anything that I missed that I should add to my watch list?

2013 Goals (and a look back at 2012)

2012 was probably one of my most productive years in recent memories. There was some good movement forward on both sides of the career, both the writing and the producing and there is tons more to be proud of than to look down upon. So I guess it was win-win in the end.

At the end of 2011, Wave Goodbye was nothing but a dream. I had an idea with Adam Morris and Eric Goodwin to create a webseries of epic proportions on a small budget. We set out to raise a total of $10k on IndieGogo to produce a total of 40 episodes of content for the web. We only raise a little over half that (and about half the goal once they took their cut). With the wonderful cast and crew that you can find listed in my post “It Takes a Village”, we were able to produce twenty episodes. Sure it was half the intended goal, but we only raised half the money, and since we’re all starving artists, we couldn’t throw the rest of the money into the kitty to make the other twenty episodes happen. Plus the size of the production, along with the cast and crew working for pizza, we couldn’t ask for more than we got. In the end, I’m happy with the final product. Is there a couple episodes that could have been better, sure, but as the whole it is amazing, especially at the price tag. On top of it all, it was a feature film in length, so we all did an amazing job. I’ll get more to season 2 in a bit.

I also had a great time writing and rewriting some projects that have been gestating for too long.

IAMW has been something I’ve been working on and off on for over five years. It’s had countless rewrites and starts and stops over that time. My writer partners (Trevor Smith & Tai Logsdon) were able to finally find the right direction in which to take the project and I’m pretty happy with the final product. It needs a little bit of a polish, but the notes we received (solely from females readers) was encouraging that we might have a good writing sample and spec to finally take to market.

AOM (formerly TACOM) has been another project that has been in development just as long. D. Jordan Knight and I have been through hurdles with that script, and most of it is due to her relentless passion for the project. After we went down the wrong rabbit hole with a previous Producer, we finally put it in the right direction and it is a solid Family Comedy with some Rom Com aspects. While IAMW is a Hard-R comedy, this is family friendly and one of the best things to mix up my writing. In 2011 we ended up in the top 10 percent of Nicholl, we rewrote it based on some ideas, and then ended up in the top 15% in 2012. Sure it may not have been as high, but we both feel the project is a million times better. We even had another Producer fall in love with it, but they weren’t the right fit in the long run, plus it was out of their budget range. To hear him say “It’s in one of top 1% of scripts I’ve ever read” means more to us than you could ever imagine.

But enough about old projects, there was also time for a couple new ones on the horizon that were brought to fruition.

MCICTT was written during ScriptFrenzy. It’s been an idea that has peculated for many years and an awesome 4Q comedy that covers a mythic creature that has never been seen in this light before. DJK gave me some amazing notes and we’re eventually going to rewrite it, even if someone else did something similar this year, considering their take and product wasn’t as top notch as it could be. It’s an interesting premise that is hard to pull off, considering it is an adult story that is aimed at kids. 2013 will hopefully see a good rewrite on it to finally take it to market.

BWOML was my attempt at a John Hughes-esque coming of age teen comedy. There’s a bit of me in the story, but I hate saying that. The main character is so far removed from me, but his passion and his change is something I went through leaving a career to pursue a passion. The script was completed in the first week of 2013, but I’ll still count it as an accomplishment of the previous year. I’ve submitted it to my writing group and am currently awaiting notes to rewrite it… just hopefully I didn’t make it too dramatic.

I also produced a music video with the amazing Michael and Marisa and hope to see it posted online soon, once they’re done shopping it to record companies and other entities. It was a tough one day shoot that could have used one more, but in the end, you take what budget and limitations you have and try to make the best product possible. I’m happy and proud to have this as another accomplishment in 2012, considering I also was one of the main editors on the project so it added another new skill to me repertoire.

So I guess I should finally get to 2013 and my goals, since that is really what this post was supposed to be about. I figure putting my goals out here in the open will help make me more accountable, not to any of you, but having them in writing will show me how much I was able to accomplish in the end.

So as many of you know, my weight has been something I’ve struggled with since I was a young nine year old lad. I love food. I hate exercising, but I’ve made some huge strides. People that haven’t seen me for a while already see the changes that have already taken shape, but I still have a long way to go. I started out when I finally tipped the scales at 266. Yes, you read that right, 266. On a 5’7″ frame and in the town where image is everything, it was time to make a change. I lost fifty pounds from my high, but put a couple back on during the holidays.As of this writing, I’m still forty pounds down and back on the right track. It’s all about making little changes. Moving more and eating less. Making the better choices, but I’m still allowed to partake in vices every now and then.

Not like it’s a really big thing, but I’m also trying my best to become a single-spaced typer. In my day of learning how to touch-type I learned on typewriters which were monospaced, so you learned to hit the space bar twice at the end of each sentence. With the advent of computers and non-monospaced fonts, it is now an older art form, but I’m really trying. Plus that extra space can make the difference in the end when page count really matters in a script. Nine days in and I think I’m making progress, but you might catch a couple double spaced sentences here and there.

On the writing front my biggest goal of all isn’t the amount of projects or completed (but I will list those in a bit), but to become the writer who sits and writes EVERY DAY. Yeah, life gets in the way. From the social, to the paycheck, to everything else in between. Nine days in and I’ve hit at least an hour every day. Those who are accomplished writers make sure they’re writing and growing their craft every day, so why not be like the pros.

On the project side this is what I want to accomplish:

I want to rewrite the two projects I finished in 2012 and get them ready for the marketplace. I’ve grown enough and see in feedback that I’m ready to take that leap. Will their be passes and people that don’t like it, sure. With how much I read and have done in the past in a producing capacity, less than five percent of the scripts rise to the top. Once I’ve got the three writing samples, it’ll be time to look for representation or try to set them up through my own contacts I’ve made on my own.

New stuff includes the follow-up to Wave Goodbye. No longer are we aiming to make it a second season of a webseries, but as a feature. We’ve got an eye on some investment capital, and I hope to have a first draft before the end of the month. I’ll be writing this with Trevor Smith, and producing along with the director of the webseries. The outline is solid and the draft is coming along smoothly at this juncture. I also want to finally develop a dramatic TV series with Jamie Livingston-Dierks and maybe another comedy project on my own or with Trevor. There may be other stuff as the muse hits me, but those three new projects, along with the rewrites, are my main focus for the year.

So will I be able to do it? I know I can. I just have to put my head in the game and make sure I’m working every day towards these goals and accomplishments. If you’ve read this far, I can’t believe it, but thanks for being part of my ride as I try to get to the next step in crazy Hollywood.

Here’s hoping your 2013 is productive and you’re able to make strides in your goals and accomplishments.