Goodbye, 2015. How a year of being open changed my life.

December isn’t normally the end for me. As I look back at the years, they kind of blend together. I don’t remember whether or not 2008 was better than 2011, because both years were filled with highs and lows that eventually just became part of my life. But this year was different. I’ll remember 2015 as one of the best years of my life, because 2015 was the year I learned to be more open to the world.

New Year’s 2015

Let’s start exactly one year ago. This was the first year that I’d spend my New Year’s away from home. That being the case, I had no idea what to do. How do people celebrate New Year’s? Do I just walk to Times Square? I live in LA, so that’s unreasonable, right? I did what anyone else would do and I messaged my friend Matt Kiel on Facebook. We weren’t really that close yet and we’d just made some Frosty the Snowman video together. I asked him what he was doing and he didn’t know. So I said, “Maybe Nicole will have something to do?” At this point, I think we’d hung out like, twice before? The three of us knew each other from the Nerdist School, but that was it. We weren’t close. Not yet.

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Nicole said she might be going to some thing, so we went to that thing. New Year’s Party. And it was fun! It was very fun! We were happy to be hanging out together! I stood by an hors d’oeurves table and tasted everything several times, reporting back to Nicole’s cousin, Qristina, on how everything was. We stood around a barbecue fire and roasted marshmallows. I said that we barely knew each other a while ago and then Nicole joked that we were now BEST FRIENDS! Minutes before the countdown, Matt and I discovered that we could dance by pretending to be playing different sports. Not long after midnight, we all left. And that was my first day of the year. Because of that New Year’s Party, we had a group chat on Facebook. And we talked in that chat. A lot. That chat would eventually become Blonde Slumber Party.

My Maude Audition

Maude auditions were coming up. For those of you who don’t know, Maude teams are the sketch teams at UCB. People record character reels of themselves and upload them to YouTube as unlisted videos, though lots of people end up either making them public or accidentally sharing them to Google+. I made one too. As a joke. I made it in December and left it as a private video on my channel for a while, but a bunch of people started posting in the then-UCB Underground Comedy Network, asking for instructions or something, so I thought the time was right to share the video.

Some people thought it was funny, and some people thought it was dumb (which it is), and then one person was racist and called me Indian or something. I don’t remember, because he’s unimportant and will never be famous. What was really important was that one of the people who loved it was this cute red-haired girl who commented on it, told me to add her as a friend, and we began talking. January 4, 2015. That’s the first day that Amber Jene and I talked.

I rushed to my group chat with Matt and Nicole. I asked Nicole if Amber was flirting with me. Nicole said that since Amber had said, “You seem fun,” she was definitely flirting. It was very exciting. Flirting! We talked a bunch on Facebook and eventually, we went on a first date. I asked Amber if she wanted to choose between mini golf in Sherman Oaks or hanging out at the Target. On Friday, January 9, 2015, we’d go on our first date to the Target. On January 10, 2015, we went on our second date to the Burbank mall. On January 11, 2015, I went to Nick and Denisse’s joint birthday party in Atwater and Amber was my date. Not long after that, on January 24, 2015, Amber and I were officially boyfriend and girlfriend. And now, on December 31, 2015, we live together in a little house.

That dumb fucking video is why my love life is so magical today.

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Blonde Slumber Party

Let’s rewind just a little bit. On January 8, 2015, Matt, Nicole and I released our very first vlog. I don’t remember when we recorded it, I really don’t. I just know that I was at home, trying to record a vlog series about helping people set and achieve their goals. It was very hard to do. It didn’t feel natural. I didn’t really like it. So I messaged Matt. He was interning at Meltdown, down the street. I asked if he wanted to come and record something with me. He said sure. We messaged Nicole and asked if she wanted to come too. She also said sure. This all happened at 2 AM. These two dummies came over to my house at 2 AM to record “whatever” with me.

At first, we tried to record our vlog as a series of pitches to Ptolemy Slocum for shows that we should get to put up at the Nerdist School. It didn’t really work and we didn’t really like it, so we just decided to use this as an experiment. We would record our friendship to see how it progressed over the next year. This was our first episode:

It wasn’t great, but we liked it. It was fun. And the real crazy part? It worked! It worked so much better than we’d ever expected it to work. Doing the vlog together not only forced us to be more open when we recorded, but it also made us more open with each other in our Facebook Chat. And it made us best friends.

At first, it was a little tough, but the more we stopped censoring ourselves and started feeling comfortable trusting each other, the more our friendship grew. I would make myself tell them things I wouldn’t normally tell other people. And so these two people whom I’d met maybe a month or two ago have become my best friends. Plus, it’s had the added bonus of making me more open in my other relationships. Amber and I have a strong romantic relationship, and Greg Smith, my creative comedy partner, and I have a very strong creative relationship!

We’ve been constantly surprised at where the vlog has taken us, but we came a long way since that first episode.

BuzzFeed vs Acting

Rewind again! A lot of stuff happened to me in January. On January 13, 2015, I started working at BuzzFeed. I made a video a while back that was featured on the Huffington Post called “WTF Is Ello?!” and that was the thing I submitted to BuzzFeed to get my interview. It was neat. It seemed like a perfect fit! I would be making creative content for money for the first time! While I was there, I made awesome friends, I got to produce 3 videos (4 if you count that never-published one), and I enjoyed myself for the most part.

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Here’s the thing though. Sometimes things aren’t exactly what they seem. It is definitely not my belief that BuzzFeed is a bad place to work, because I’ve got lots of friends there who are very fulfilled by the work they’re doing. However, it was not an ideal situation for me.

I want to be an actor. That’s one of my creative goals out here. As an actor in LA, you go to lots of casting director workshops, hoping that you’ll be remembered, etc. I was going to one at Act Now at night after work and the casting director asked me who my rep was. When I told her I didn’t have any, she told me that she thought that was ridiculous and told me to email Eileen O’Farrell. I did, and when I talked to her, Eileen asked me if my job had a flexible schedule so that I could go audition. I asked my supervisor about it. They didn’t. I was very surprised. I didn’t understand why a place with a bunch of creative people in LA, the city where movies and television are made, would want to prevent other creative people from auditioning for things outside of just BuzzFeed videos.

And so here’s a video about why I really quit BuzzFeed that I’ve hesitated to show anyone outside of Matt & Nicole for this whole year:

Now, before recording the video, I’d chosen to stay at BuzzFeed, but it’s clear that it would’ve broken my heart had I stayed. I met with Eileen and we decided that I’d start with her after pilot season was over and after I’d finished at BuzzFeed. Eileen is amazing, wonderfully kind and supportive, and has sent me out on lots of auditions that I’ve loved every second of. It became a big juncture for me in the year, and I am so happy that I made the decision that I made.

Hey Sailor! The Sailor Moon Podcast

In 2014, Ben Manoochehri and I started a podcast about Sailor Moon called Hey Sailor!  Towards the end of the year and the beginning of the year, it became increasingly difficult for Ben to continue editing the podcast and to meet to record episodes, which saddened me a great deal. I didn’t want it to fall apart, but I did want to continue recording. With Ben’s blessing, I went to Omar Najam, a previous guest of ours, to see if he wanted to take over co-hosting duties. Since then, we’ve traveled through the stars, stopped on major planets we never thought we’d reach, and explored our solar system. Scheduling will never be easy, but we always have fun sitting around and talking on our spaceship, and my friendship with Omar has grown as a result of it! All of my creative projects seem to have facilitated my friendships, but they continue to thrive outside of our creative endeavors as well.

The Dam(n) Breaks 

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The entire saga of the Dam(n) Breaks can be read here, but I couldn’t write about my 2015 without mentioning how much this improv experience meant to me. I learned so much about fighting through adversity with the 4 other members of the team. Jen Curran basically single-handedly saved us by getting us to talk to each other and really dive in to how we felt, not just about the team, but about life in general. When we got up for our final show, we spoke honestly. We spoke truthfully. And we achieved everything that improv is supposed to be for the most 25 magical minutes of my life.

Meeting MyLlama

MyLlama is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Amber’s brother, Nicholas, was visiting us for 4th of July weekend, and the three of us went to Anime Expo. As we walked the hall, I spotted cute little stuffed alpacas everywhere I went. I turned to Amber, saying that I wanted one! She kept telling me that we didn’t have anywhere to put him at home. Sadly, I continued on with my day. Then, an announcement came over the PA system, letting us know that there were only 15 more minutes left until the floor closed. I looked at Amber and said, “I’m getting him!” I bolted, losing Amber and Nicholas in the crowd.

“How much is this llama?” I asked some guy working some booth somewhere. “$20,” he said. “Which one did you want?” “This one,” I replied. He smiled at me. “That’s a good one.”

Amber and Nicholas found me eventually, and I held MyLlama triumphantly above my head. “What’s his name?” “MyLlama,” I proudly replied. Since that day, MyLlama has smiled his way into the hearts of all of my friends.

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Amber & I Moved In To A House

Amber told me that she wanted our next place to not be part of an apartment complex. She told me that it was out there, but that we had to just keep looking. And she was right. We found our home, but that’s not all she was right about. We spend so much of our time looking for stuff we’ve seen that we don’t even realize that what we really want is out there. We just have to look for it. This kept happening to me as the year began to wrap up.

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I Got Hired To Work From Home

I always feel so stressed out whenever I get hired because I get worried that I won’t have time to audition, or that I’ll have to sneak around and lie to audition. I didn’t think that I’d ever find a job that would fit my schedule, but there was. Now, I work for a company called Shmoop, making and animating test prep videos.

I Got Paid To Be A Puppeteer

2015 saw my first two paid puppet gigs, and both have been a blast! I got to work a pre-school fair in Sherman Oaks, playing a fun sock puppet as well as a fun character named Yahooty! Then, I got the chance to be one of the main puppeteers for a sizzle reel along with my friend Keith Saltojanes. It was great getting to work with him closely for a creative project, as we’d known each other for a long time at this point, but had never really talked deeply. We got the chance to do that a little bit, and as a result, we’ll go in to the new year with one shared resolution: golf cart.

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Mudville Comedy Gets A Show

In the meantime, my best friend, Greg Smith, and I had continued chugging along with new Mudville stuff. We’d quietly begun releasing one new video every week, plus, we put up two versions of our Spank show at UCB. 2016 will see the beginning of our official run at the theatre, which is big for us! Plus, we made a handful of appearances on the Geek & Sundry twitch, gaining new fans! And Geek & Sundry is a whole other thing. The community that Zac Eubank managed to build out of nothing is absolutely incredible. I’m so grateful to him for letting us come on there and sing dumb songs for a bunch of other nerds.

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The levels of openness I reached with Matt and Nicole translated directly to Mudville, as Greg and I began to talk more deeply about our fears and our goals. Writing songs will always be hard, but it’s a little easier to do it when we’re not afraid to admit to each other that it’ll be kind of a struggle. We were able to accomplish incredible things that I don’t know we’d ever have attempted before.

We released 12 songs for Christmas. One each day leading up to the 25th. I was immensely proud of every one, but none more so than Video Game Christmas.

We wrote it a whole year ago and lots of people came together to make it happen. Plus, a year passing needed to happen for it to turn out the way it did. I made friends with Jenny, who even though I only worked with at BuzzFeed for about a month, has felt like she’s been friends with me for forever! I got to work with Nicole as a DP more throughout the year, and we felt like we were clicking together on set. Joe Heinen made the legit, amazing chiptune track for us. Amber and I had the house to serve as our setting. Seeing it done just felt very triumphant for me, personally.

So, on to 2016

2015 is coming to a close. But that doesn’t mean it’s all just over. It was a great year, for sure, but nothing’s just wrapped up in a clean bow. Blonde Slumber Party hasn’t put out a video in 2 months now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t in 2016. I haven’t booked a TV credit yet, but that doesn’t mean that my auditions didn’t matter and that I won’t keep trying in 2016.

My goal is to carry on with everything I’ve learned in the past year. My goal is to continue being open and letting my friendships grow. I know that I value the openness that has gotten me to where I am today, and that the next year will bring even greater things.

2015 was a new start, and it hasn’t found its end yet. On to 2016, and on to all the rest.

Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, where they were open enough to hire someone off of a Facebook bit post. Keep up with him on his YouTube channel here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  It might bring a little chuckle to your day! =) 

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