Editor's note: Due to an outpouring of requests in the past month to keep Jessica Runck as a columnist, she's back! Her Homegrown Hollywood columns will be published the final Friday of each month in The Forum's Life section. Hello, again. It's nice to be back. After my last column ran in the paper, so many of you reached out to Forum Communications — and to me — expressing your disappointment in the decision to cancel my column that I was asked to return.
I've never been good at goodbyes. When I sold my car a few years ago, I spent our last day together taking photos and sitting in the driver's seat crying while "reliving the memories." So you can understand how hard it is for me to say goodbye now. This will be my last column. Forum News Service is making room for different content. Specifically, as they told me, they plan to focus on the "main content of the section by using more pre-designed USA Today content and less contributor content."
I've always had a lot of faith in Western medicine. My grandma was a nurse as are two of my aunts, so growing up in rural North Dakota I was raised with a healthy mix of scientifically proven medicine and a "walk off that sprained ankle" pioneer spirit. Which is why I was so surprised when I found myself lying on a table in the middle of Beverly Hills doing something I never thought I would: acupuncture.
Last week I had a panic attack in my dream. It ended with me hyperventilating, first while asleep and then after my husband, Jason, shook me awake. I didn't think that kind of thing was possible in a dream, but look at me, blazing trails on new ways experience crippling anxiety. My parents would be so proud. So what am I stressed about these days? Is it my job? Or maybe my impending fertility procedures? No. It's house hunting in Los Angeles.
I don't know what to say. No, really. I'm stuck. I've been sitting here for two hours staring at a blank cursor. My heart rate is through the roof, my hands are sweaty and still, I'm frozen. When I was younger and imagined being a writer, this is not what I had in mind. I thought I'd sip coffee in cafés, take long walks at sunset to mull over new ideas and wear a lot of cozy sweaters. The ideas would flow freely, and I would be a vessel to something bigger than myself. Turns out, it's not like that at all.
It's a new year. Or as I like to call it, "Halleluiah-It's-Over-Pass-The-Wine." (Except, don't really because I'm trying to have a baby, and I'm not allowed to drink.) I've always liked looking back on the year and figuring out some of the best moments. In this panic-inducing year, finding the positives were easy — they stuck out like two diamonds in a field filled with muck and threats of nuclear war. One: I got my first television writing job, and two: my husband and I made embryos.
LOS ANGELES — This year, my husband and I decided to purchase a "living" Christmas tree. Did you feel that? That was my entire, Midwest family rolling their eyes in unison. We wanted a living tree as it felt like the responsible thing to do because, you know, global warming. Plus, we liked the idea of someone delivering it to our house and then taking it away when the holidays were over.
LOS ANGELES — Last week I was sick. I had the kind of cough that makes people scoot their chairs a few inches away and look at you with a mix of pity and disgust — like I was a poor Victorian woman dying of consumption. My husband, Jason, claims the only time I'm ever truly honest about how I'm feeling is when I'm sick. If I'm healthy and he asks me a question, I'll usually respond like a good Midwesterner, "Fine." "How was your day?" "Fine." "Is your steak undercooked?" "It's fine." "Are you angry at me?" "I'm fine."
Last month I wrote my first script for a television show. I had a week to complete it, and I spent the first two days staring at a blank screen, frozen in terror. Most of the scripts I'd written up to now were tucked away safely in a file on my computer. Or, at best, read by Studio Executives who called my agents and said, "We loved it, but can it be more murder-y?"
I've always had an active imagination. As a kid, I believed in all the classics: mermaids, fairies, unicorns, elves. I was even convinced trees could talk. Raised on a small farm outside of a small town, my imagination knew no limits. It was free to unfurl through the wheat fields and shelterbelts, happily leading me on epic adventures of my own creation. One summer, at the height of my imaginings, my cousin, Grant, and I decided to plant a rock garden. (These are the kind of things we did for fun back in rural North Dakota, before cable television or poop emojis.)