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 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.
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.)
Last week I got a tattoo. Wait, Grandma, don't stop reading! I'm still your sweet granddaughter — the same girl you once hugged and whispered in her ear, "I love you just as much as all my other grandchildren." Special words spoken by a true (always fair) Midwest grandma. I hope you'll still love me a fair amount. If not, I'll have to start divulging secrets about my cousins, and I know you don't want to hear that one of them lived with their husband before they got married. Wait. That was also me.
I've always loved the Fourth of July. Growing up in my small town, the Fourth meant three-legged races, watching the parade on Main Street and covering my ears during fireworks. Eating corn on the cob in my flag shirt with butter dripping down my face, I remember feeling so grateful I lived in that exact part of the country that celebrated in that exact way. It was the only America I knew — with rolling wheat fields, pink-sky sunsets, lots of hotdish and wide-open spaces.
LOS ANGELES — Last week was the first week of my new job as a television writer. It was also my nine-year anniversary in Los Angeles. In other words, I've been working toward a job like this for almost a decade. I should have been giddy. I had the beginnings of my dream — I was holding it right in the palm of my hand.
Hi Katie. It's me, Jessica. I'm the woman whose article about infertility you responded to in a letter entitled, "A strong faith is all you need to live a full life." Thank you for your letter. I'm grateful to have an open dialogue about such an important issue. I was also so sorry to have read about your miscarriages — a heartbreak no one can begin to understand until you live through it. Thank you for bravely sharing that part of your story.