Saturday, December 20, 2008

If having nothing to blog about means I’m relaxing, then my guy should be happy, as that was his wish for me while I was back in Ohio. I can’t help but feel my early January departure starting to loom; I absolutely can not believe that I’ve been home for a month now. The time has gone so quickly, yet I haven’t done much, especially in regard to that to*do list I posted.

My focus at the moment is preparing to host my partner’s family for their holiday celebration tomorrow. They’ve always bugged us about hosting a get-together and we’ve somehow managed not to for the past four years. Since the house is on the market, I figured it’s time to do our part before we’re both on the other side of the country. We’ve had lots of parties in for friends and colleagues, but with cooking, cleaning, gifts and holiday d├ęcor, this is definitely my biggest undertaking.

As for other things… I have still not heard back from QVC and the “I didn’t know I was pregnant” episode Sunday night did not feature the character/situation I auditioned for. Remember “Gameshow in my Head” that I was a paid audience member for months ago? It was supposed to air in late summer; when it didn’t, I hoped it was dropped, but a friend called to let me know he saw promos. It’s airing in January.

Although I always knew I was coming home for the holidays, it came with a great deal of anxiety. I feared missing out on opportunities and was mortified that I would lose my job at Universal. For the first time, the park decided to be open on both Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Seasonal employees, such as myself, are expected to work the busy week around the holidays, while many veterans take vacation days. I was very scared that I would accrue lots of absentee points, causing suspension or even termination. Word around the break room seemed bleak and some of the dispatchers were certain we’d be “scheduled to the bottom of the list” around the holidays. I toiled over resigning on good terms in hopes of being hired back for the spring break rush, but thankfully the laid back director of the Studio Tour told me not to be concerned. I changed to minimal availability and requested the remaining days off, neither of which truly safeguard me from being scheduled.

So, how many points have I gotten? ZERO! I haven’t been scheduled for a single shift that I had to try to get covered. I realize I should be happy and relieved but I’m actually annoyed. Due to the scheduling scare tactics many of my coworkers didn’t go home for the holidays, yet even with open availability the low seniority employees are not getting shifts! Had I stayed in town and not been scheduled, I would have been livid!

Needless to say, I'm so glad I came home for six weeks. My roommate asked if I was missing LA and the answer was no. Life is infinitely easier and more comfortable here. I am loving the cold weather and the snow has been beautiful. Last night I fell asleep to sleet tapping at the windows and awoke to lovely ice coated trees. I know, I know, many of you probably have more colorful words for this weather, but I missed it.

Something wonderful that won't be disputed is the anniversary my beau and I celebrated last week. It marked five years that we've been together and I couldn't imagine being apart for it. He woke me up with my coffee and a beautiful bracelet, then we had lunch at the restaurant where we met. He went all out, cooking me a gourmet supper and I gave him a photo book chronicling our relationship with pictures, which took me hours to create online.

Being back here with my beau and my animals feels so good! Even with the security of someone to cuddle up with at night and our superior mattress and sheets, I am still not sleeping like a normal person. It's 4 a.m. and with a big day of cleaning, shopping and prepping food, I should try to get some sleep...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"I didn't know I was preganant"

Dear god no! I'M NOT pregnant, but you may recall that was the name of a Discovery Health TV movie I auditioned for just prior to coming home for the holidays. As I was scrolling through tonight's viewing options, I noticed a program of the same title is on TLC at 8 p.m. The show airing tonight is an hour documentary, as opposed to a two hour movie and this would mean post production was done very quickly, but I bet it is what I auditioned for since TLC and Discovery are sister channels.

I'm glad I noticed the listing; this will be a great opportunity to see what the casting director was looking for, as opposed to who I am and what I did in the audition.

As for the QVC issue I discussed below, I did reply, explaining my dual LA/Ohio residency, understanding that relocation is required and interest in meeting with them. I've not heard back; perhaps they are trying to find people already in Pennsylvania or someone in NYC who could conveniently get to their casting office. Who knows...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A query from QVC

Over a month ago I submitted for a QVC host position on one of the booking sites to which I subscribe. Yesterday I received an email from them simply reading, "Hi. Where are you located?"

Their breakdown made it very clear that it's a full time position, so candidates must be willing to relocate to their West Chester Pennsylvania headquarters. I'll shamefully admit that I already knew they were in Pennsylvania from watching the QVC challenges on The Apprentice!

Although I have oodles of public speaking experience and was a commercial and live TV host for over a year, my gut reaction is that I don't want to get stuck hosting instead of acting. That's the boat my roommate's in - she has a great job hosting a popular podcast, but she has no time for acting classes and doesn't even submit for auditions now.

I know what you're all screaming at your computers right now - Think about the exposure!!!" The reality is that it's highly unlikely that a director or producer will see a host and say "get that girl for my next project!" Even worse, I've been flat out told by a top agent that they don't want to see you as a host or a model or anything else; if you're an actor they just want to see the best damn actor you can be. I learned that at a workshop at Universal after asking what would be thought of my demo reel which features local commercials... However, that guest speaker was from a very exclusive agency. Surely a position like QVC host garners a lot of great connections and good representation.

Obviously I'm just 'thinking out loud' right now. I haven't even been offered an audition, let alone a job! Again, I immediately felt like this is the wrong direction for me. I've come to discover that LA moves so quickly, you just have to be there! On the other hand, my mind painted a whole new wonderful picture when I reread the breakdown and saw the annual salary. *Jaw dropped.* It seems to me to be enough money to fly to LA or NYC a couple times a month for really promising auditions, if time would permit. It would also be the first job in my life that would actually allow me to save money. What a novel idea! Best of all, it would be closer to Ohio.

But, if LA is where I need to be for the career I really want, would pursuing this be putting a price tag on my dreams?

I need to really think about it more and talk to my guy, but for the time being there's no harm in replying that I'm just a state away. ;)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mixing history and holidays: a recipe for disaster!

It's amazing how quickly time passes; I can't believe I've been home for two weeks already! I thought I would have blogged about some LA experiences that I never got to, but I haven't even written about things that have happened here in Ohio... A reader even emailed this morning missing me. Aww! That rocks. Although I'm not so sure that particular reader will agree with me on this issue...

The Sunday after Thanksgiving I had a great celebration with my immediate family at my parent's home. My mother puts out an amazing holiday spread and my new four day old nephew was even there! However, as the day drew to a close I became troubled when I sat down to help my niece with homework.

She had been sick and missed a few days prior to the holiday break. While the rest of my family couldn't believe that a first grader got two to three pages of homework every night, I was appalled by the content. The Thanksgiving themed pages were sexist and derogatory!

The first sheet was reading comprehension; I read the following short paragraph and then she had to write short answers to simple questions: "In Colonial days children did daily chores. Boys hunted and fished. Girls learned to sew. Children helped their parents."

As soon as the words left my mouth, I went charging into the living room to read it to the rest of my family, with my niece on my heels. "It says in Colonial Days," my mom, who works at a preschool, defended. We retreated back to the kitchen table but as we colored the picture on the page my niece and I talked about all the times she's gone camping and fishing with her dad and I told her that boys can sew too!

I'm sure many of you agree with my mom and would not have thought twice about the paragraph. My concern is that no one is pointing out to the children that now days things are different. When I asked about her teacher, my brother rolled his eyes, saying she is very old and traditional in a bad way! I fear many sexual stereotypes are perpetuated in my nieces classroom.

The second page really set me off, as it talked about "Indians." Yes, I honestly feel the correct term, Native American, should have trickled down to our small town elementary schools by now. I explained to my niece that Indians are the people who live in the Asian country of India, which is where the explorers thought they had landed. I realize that terminology for America's indigenous people is widely debated; many people do not find "Indian" offensive, but I can not help but be troubled by our schools inability to teach our children the facts! My brother feels similarly about Columbus Day. Unlike the schools, he's taught his daughter the truth: that Mr. Columbus was a horrible tyrant who does not deserve a holiday and was not even the first to discover the Americas.

It was certainly not my intent to upset anyone, but by deeming everything offensive I ended up offending my mom, who wonders why everything she was taught and grew up with is now so awful. We tried to explain that history has been written by the winners, which largely means from the point of view of affluent white men and in some cases is therefore incomplete. My mom went through the rest of my niece's folder to find me other pages that did use the words Native American. Unfortunately she found something else that I found to be the worst of all.

There was a Thanksgiving handout from a local church. I didn't even look at it, I didn't want to know... My oldest brother backed me as I mentioned the separation of church and state, but we then let it all go and changed the subject, as to not cause a great debate during an otherwise happy holiday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I didn't drink the water...

At a Thanksgiving celebration at my grandparents home on Thursday, I didn't drink the water.

Why? Because one cousin is seven months pregnant, while the youngest of the cousins had his two week old baby there; another cousin brought his six week old baby and on our way home we stopped by a hospital to meet my new nephew, born the night before!

They're all baby boys, which offsets the slew of elementary school girls we have running around. I am the only able grandchild left to create great grands, so everyone tells me, "Just you wait!"

"Wait?" I reply. "Clearly, I AM!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Back in the Buckeye State!

It feels great to be home! I think the best part is that there isn't a looming departure.

In addition to enjoying the holiday season, there are lots of things I hope to accomplish:

1. Clean out storage spaces.
2. Pack up the house as much as possible.
3. Encourage the realtor to show the place A LOT, since I'm here to remove the animals.
4. Design and mail holiday post cards to industry folks.
5. Review and/or read the essential acting books. (Uta hagen, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Michael Caine, Constantin Stanislavski... )
6. View must-watch films. (top films of all time, all the work of acclaimed directors and actors)
7. View Universal Studios Best Picture winning films and other movies filmed on the lot that I haven't seen ever, or in a long while. (Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, Psycho, Showboat, Pirates of the Caribbean, Winchester 73... the list goes on and on...)
8. Learn all things astronomy!
9. Take my niece to the Neil Armstrong museum and/or COSI - if I can explain things to her, I should be able to do my new job when I get back to LA.
10. WORKOUT! Using the equipment in our basement and guys motivation, I need to get toned up again and back on an exercise schedule.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Greetings from Chicago

I'm so close I can almost feel the warm embraces and taste the delicious Thanksgiving food! But, here I sit in O'Hare waiting for the flight that is supposed to leave in ten minutes to even begin boarding. It's a small plane that changed gates while I was in the air from LAX... As long as my checked bag makes it aboard, I don't mind!

As for the airport, it's no big deal. I had heard this one was large and difficult, but I have yet to feel that way about any through which my travels have taken me...

Friday, November 21, 2008

I am an employee of the city of Los Angeles...

... Pending a tuberculosis test, that is.

I thought TB was eradicated with polio; I mean, wouldn't a meningitis test be smarter? Perhaps I'm getting my diseases confused, I'm certainly no medical expert. Nor do I know much about astronomy, but I assured the Phd.'s at the Griffith Observatory that I am a very quick study. Lucky for me, they have learned that when filling their guide positions, it's easier to teach science to someone personable than to teach people skills to a nerd. I mean science buff. No... I mean nerd; I'm pretty sure they've embraced that term now.

I am now twice amazed to get such a wonderful position at an iconic Hollywood location, site unseen! I am very grateful to my Universal co-worker who not only recommended me, but also encouraged me to interview dispite my apprehensions. When I arrived at the Observatory Wednesday afternoon, I was awestruck!

It sits atop Mount Hollywood, within Griffith Park; the famous Hollywood sign can be seen just across the way, on Mount Lee. I called my beau to tell him I felt like I was literally standing on top of the world, with the recognizable buildings of Willshire and Hollywood in one direction, the downtown skyline in the other and miles and miles of city. I'm told on a clear day you can see the ocean. I arrived as the sun was a giant pink ball setting in the west and left with a new job and amazing view of endless twinkling lights. It's kind of a bitch to get to, but well worth it; once inside, it's just as beautiful. I swiped these pictures from various websites:


When I return in January I will work at the Observatory part-time. I will likely begin giving presentations to field-tripping fifth graders. Believe it or not, that's a slightly easier place to begin because it has specific topics and talking points. Although guides posted throughout the exhibits are open to any and all visitors questions, concerns and emergencies, as we walked through today the co-worker who recommended me for the position pointed out that guides aren't approached all that often. I think I already have the two most important lines down: "The restrooms are right this way..." and "The Big Bang theory, as a scientific explanation, is in no way meant to negate your religious beliefs."

Nonetheless, I will be doing a great deal of scientific study while I'm back in Ohio over the holiday. Lucky for me, I grew up about forty minutes from the Neil Armstrong Museum; when I visit again I'll actually force myself to read all the little plaques!

This means that so far I've gotten one out of my three Wednesday appointments. According to the breakdown, the TV movie is supposed to shoot this weekend, so I highly doubt I got the part. I did however accomplish my goal of building good report with the casting director. As for the emcee position at Universal, I'm a bit annoyed that we haven't gotten an email.

Scratch that, I'm really annoyed because they probably could have told us on the spot! It was a "live" audition, meaning we took turns being the emcee to real guests as they entered the studio tour area. What does that mean? You simply give people the following directions: To get on the tram, go to the left. Yes, you can take food and drink on the tram, check out the food cart behind me. This is a 45 minute ride, if you have to go to the restroom go back upstairs. Park your stroller over there... And to the people leaving you say goodbye and give them the times of other things going on in the park. Bla, bla, bla... Of course, you should do it with some personality and interact with the guests; asking where they're from or saying you like something they're wearing is ideal.

Anyway, about fifteen tour guides showed up for a rumored three or four emcee positions. I was surprised to see two veterans there, each with at least ten years at Universal! One is a guide and dispatcher, the other a VIP guide and trainer. I don't know if that's a sign of the bad economic times, if they're looking for a change of scenery or if they just wanted to fuck with the newest guides like me! Their seniority is discouraging, but while I like both of them as people I didn't really think they proved to be the best suited for this position.

Because park attendance was so low, we all rode up and down the escalator in the baking sun to give the person auditioning more people to talk to! Our two bosses sat on a nearby bench and often didn't appear to be listening, not that they needed to. We've all already proven we can speak and interact with people. I truly believe it's a popularity contest. It's less about what we did and said on Wednesday and more about the personality type they want. I will be flabbergasted if we don't find out today. I won't be upset if I'm not added to the emcee roster this time around, as most of you probably know from other things, I just get a little crazy when information is not distributed!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Star appointments: On the ground, in my eyes and up in the sky!

As my Wednesday calendar fills up, I can't help but think, "are you freaking kidding me?" And by that I mean, I'm happy, but all in one day? You see, I've had a whole lot of nothing on my plate for the past week or so. It would have been nice for these great opportunities to spread themselves out, but oh well, I'm just glad to have them...

I've known for a while that tomorrow Universal is holding auditions for the emcee position at the studio tour. Emcees greet guest when they come down the escalator into our area. More frustratingly, an emcee is on mic at the load line begging people to look down at the ground and make sure they're standing on a numbered star stamped in the concrete which represents a seat on the tram. People are so non-responsive, you'd think it was rocket science. Anyway, being a tour guide is better than emceeing, but if I can also get on the emcee roster it'll increase my possibility for shifts.

The emcee audition is at 1 p.m., then yesterday I booked an audition for noon tomorrow. It's a reenactment of actual events for a TV movie for the Discovery Health Network. I've read for both the casting directors in my acting class; I don't know if they remembered me from that, or if they called me in for my resemblance to the real person the story's based on. We have slightly similar roundish faces with brown hair and eyes, but they want someone size 8 or 10. I am smaller than that and frankly don't know how to approach this role - she's a fast food manager who goes to work, thinking she's been having bad menstrual cramps, but then delivers a baby in the bathroom toilet! Yikes! I've worked fast food and had cramps, but... Whether I get the role or not, the important part is that I make a great impression on the casting directors. Just getting auditions is the goal, then even if you're wrong for that part, hopefully they'll like you and call you back to read for other things in the future.

If the TV movie audition is not running on time or if there's traffic, I'll not make it to the emcee auditions, but that's just how it goes.

Then this afternoon I was asked to interview at the Griffith Observatory at 5 p.m. tomorrow! A coworker at Universal was kind enough to recommend me to his bosses there to do what he does - tour guide and present shows for the fifth graders who take field trips there. If the interview goes well, I'd have two jobs to come back to in January. Presenting and interacting with people is no big deal for me, it's the fifth grade astronomy that worries me!

Again, I am not complaining. Thank goodness things have come up, because I've been going crazy! Things have slowed up here in LA and I am very anxious to go home for the holidays! In the mean time, my sleep schedule is again backward; I easily stay up until 7 or 8 a.m. and sleep the day away, thus I'm concerned about getting to sleep tonight and having energy tomorrow.

I've spent my evening learning how to say "welcome to the Universal Studio Tour" and "for the love of gawd, stand on a damn star!" in multiple languages; thinking about what it would be like to not know you were pregnant then have a baby instead of a side of fries; and finally brushing up on the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse... Hopefully I deliver the right information at the right appointment!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I thought of witty titles, but they seem inappropriate...

Yesterday I didn't smell any smoke from my balcony; today is a very different story.

I drove to the grocery instead of walking because, although the smell here isn't that bad, it doesn't seem smart to breath it anymore than I have to. This seems insensitive, but it's nice, as smoke goes, like a camp fire smell. There is a haze in the air, but I can't see billows of smoke coming from a specific area, nor can I see the flames at the end of the cross street like I could the other night.

More Fires...

My sleep schedule is once again up-side-down, so imagine my surprise when after sleeping the day away I turn on the TV to hear there are fires in Orange County. Orange County? That's southeast...

I am still in no danger, but sadly many multi-million dollar homes "behind the orange curtain" are going up in flames. It's unbelievable; the news coverage is devastating, yet impossible to turn off.

Last nights fire in the hills to the north of me burnt over 8,000 acres; tonight's Orange County/Chino Hills fire has already claimed 5,000 acres and neither is close to being contained. One of the worst stories so far is of 500 homes lost in a pre-fabrication / middle class mobile home community.

Click here for an updated map. I'm at point A; last nights fire was above point B and moved westward and point C is the newest area of fire.

To answer a commenter below, I wasn't out and about today, but I did not smell or see any smoke from my balcony, nor do I hear sirens. These are brush fires along the hill and forest areas; I live in the city, so unless fire starts on the Hollywood Hills, I think I'll be okay. It has caused me to think about what I would do if I did have to evacuate... The only good part of having virtually nothing, is that I could easily pack it all back in my car and drive east! I'd only be out a mattress, cheap desk, leaky refrigerator and stiff love seat, only totally around $650. I am flying home for the holidays; I guess I'll be packing my favorite and most valuable clothes and hoping everything else is still here when I get back...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sylmar Fire in the Northern San Fernando Valley

Over 10,000 people have been evacuated since last night.
The fire has burnt over 2,000 miles.

Fire fighters are saying they've never seen a fire behave like this
and the conditions are dire.
I am not a rubber-necker. When it comes to things that I can't help or that don't effect me, I usually walk on by. But not last night...

I ran an errand late last night. I was about to turn back on my street when the road opened up in front of me and it looked as though lava was surging toward me! I was mid-turn, but like a moth, I was compelled to drive forward instead. The wild fires that are actually 15 miles north of my apartment looked like they were just a few miles away! I drove a few blocks, trying to capture a photograph, but it didn't work and I turned back, confused by why I'd driven forward in the first place.

I've been up all night watching the live TV coverage and it's very frightening. The trouble is that we're experiencing "hurricane-force" Santa Anna winds. Speaking of hurricanes, much like the idiots who choose to stay with their coastal homes, the news keeps interviewing people armed with garden hoses, refusing to evacuate. What the hell!? Hurricane victims might be able to hunker down, then float, but these morons are just going to burn to death!

The fire has now jumped not one, but TWO highways - The 5 and the 210! It's spreading much faster than anticipated. The fire is crossing major power lines; entire communities in the main area have lost power and it's likely the entire Valley will experience outages. Also, they're warning people with respiratory problems to stay indoors, as the air quality will be poor across the entire city.

At this point it's moving westward along the mountain side. It would be catastrophic if it turns south to the miles and miles of flat residential and business communities. If it were to make that jump, I have no idea how quickly it would move or how long we would have to evacuate! Again, it's fifteen miles from me and moving in the opposite directions, but I am certainly paying attention to it. It began above the city of Sylmar and is moving toward Santa Clarita; I live in Studio City. MAP


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Too... tired... to type...

$40 is not enough compensation for the ass whooping I just received and impending national public humiliation! Never trust a perky blond with a two inch waist, armed with a tiny workout machine that does a million different exercises!!!

Working-out as Work!

Have you ever wondered who those people were in the background of workout infomercials? You know, the ones gleefully using the machine, gadget or what appears to be a child's toy, while a frighteningly muscular guy tries to sell you the equipment?

Answer: ACTORS!

This morning I will be filming a workout infomercial. I have no idea what I've gotten myself into!

I submitted for it a day or so ago on the booking website I subscribe to. Because I only have headshots, not a full or even half body shot, I really didn't expect to hear from them. I mean, you'd think they'd want to make sure people have the right physique, but I guess not... The breakdown was as follows: "Men/Women for fitness class and testimonial shoot. We are taping a first time users class with Hot LA Fitness Trainer Ashley Marriott for use in a commercial for a new at home fitness product. I need 20 people attractive, 20 to 50 years old, any ethnicity and good bodies. Shoot is Sunday November 9 approximately 5 hours. Be ready to work out and take a fitness class and then give testimonial regarding the class and the product. There is no pay."

When I submitted for it, I figured, "what the hell!" At least I'll get a free workout session out of it, as I'm in desperate need of something to get me exercising again. As it turns out, I'll also get $40 for travel. A few months ago I came very close to doing an acne product infomercial. They were offering a years worth of free products (no, I don't remember what kind, I don't think I was told), but because it would be shown nationally, my acting teacher said I should absolutely not do it without being paid money. The casting director told me that it is unethical to pay someone who gives a testimonial. Free products would have been nice, but I opted not to do it.

Forty bucks isn't much, but in this case at least I'm getting some cash. I have no idea where this commercial is being distributed; if it's national, this is a pretty raw deal, but at least it wouldn't be featuring my unflattering zits! :)

I asked what type of product it is and what muscle group we'll be working; I was told it's like a mini BoFlex with 12 exercised for various parts of the body. Although we'll only workout for about an hour, I have to be there from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to give before and after testimonials.

I'll need to be up by 7 a.m. at the latest, but I've been going to sleep around 4 a.m., so this will prove interesting...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bittersweet everything...

My guy was in town visiting Sunday to Thursday, thus my lack of blogging. It's always wonderful to see him, but I have to say this was probably his best visit. We saw Wicked at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, partied after the election and went on a hike in the beautiful mountains. I'll try to write about all of that in more detail; for the time being though I'm feeling that all to common emptiness.

As for the election, I am so excited that Barack Obama won!

However, I am deeply saddened that here in California Proposition 8 passed (barely). Earlier this year the state Supreme Court ruled that everyone could marry, but Prop 8 reinstates a ban on gay marriage. I truly don't understand. This country has fought discrimination time and time again, yet we never seem to learn from those battles. We are no better than the societies that enslaved blacks, would not let women own property and imprisoned innocent Asians. Plain and simply, by not allowing all people to marry, we are restricting rights just because we see some as "different."

Many use religion as an excuse to discriminate, which only confuses me further. This nation was founded on the separation of church and state by people who wanted to escape persecution based on their beliefs. How then, are we still doing just that? As one of the “No on 8” advertisements said, it does not matter how you feel about marriage, yes on 8 was D * I * S * C * R * I * M * I * N * A * T * I * O * N!

For the past few days protesters have been rallying on the streets of Hollywood, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. They have been mostly peaceful, but horribly affected street and highway traffic; if there’s one great way to get attention in LA, it’s fucking with the already awful traffic!

California is not the only state to pass gay marriage bans, which makes this election so bittersweet. I am elated to see our country has moved beyond race and gender when looking for a President, so I have to believe I will also live to see a society that does not hate based on sexuality.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don't forget to vote today!

Although California has some propositions that I am very passionate about, I elected to vote via absentee ballot in Ohio, where I feel my presidential purgative is more valuable.


I don't want to get political on this blog, so I'll let some funny pictures do the talking for me. After all, in an election this important, our heads will explode without a little humor. (Most of these are from the political page of my favorite guilty pleasure, the LOLCats blog.)


Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Raining!!!

Well, it's stopped now, but it was! :)

I was so excited to be distracted by an odd noise coming from my balcony. Although it's a cold rain, I stood in it with a big grin on my face like an idiot. More than the feeling of the cold wet drops against my face, I had forgotten about the smell. It's so distinct but indescribable.

When I was home a few weeks ago a friend teased me, asking, "are you really so obsessed with rain?" YES! You'd be amazed how much you miss it when you go for months, not weeks but months, without it. People say they move to places like California and Florida "for the weather." Now that I'm here, I say bullshit! There is no weather here! There's earthquakes and fires and sunshine, but no actual weather.

Anyway, I found myself cold and kind of bored, so I put on a jacket and fuzzy leopard print slippers, returned to my balcony and asked "now what?" It was 5:30 a.m. and still kind of dark. Was is it safe? Could I go for a walk in the rain? In my opinion, anything past 5 a.m. seems like a safe hour. Surely criminals are passed out by then, but it was still dark... Instead of going anywhere I called my guy who was just arriving to work dressed as a duck hunter for the holiday and getting reactions from his coworkers/our friends. Then I called my mom who was baking a cake on her day off for a Halloween party tomorrow night...

Costumes
Friends
Parties

What are, things I don't have in LA, Alex.

Actually that's not true. I could have gone to a Halloween party hosted by a coworker Monday night, but I didn't. It's just not the same. Instead of all that familiarity, I'm here in LA where things feel like they're up-side-down. Literally.

I've been working evening shifts and getting home around 1 a.m. Then I'm awake until 4 or 5 a.m. and pretty much sleep until it's time to go to work the next day. Last night, I got home, fixed food and watched the 3 a.m. rebroadcast of Oprah and I'm still awake at 7 a.m. It really doesn't get much more up-side-down than that!

Aside from my fucked-up work and sleep schedule, I once again feel like I don't know what I'm doing here. I mean, I know what I'm here to do, but the execution isn't going so well. Earlier this fall I was overwhelmed with stress and sadness, so I took advantage of going home for a week. Immediately upon returning I was knocked on my ass with a medical issue, hence the line on the 18th, "I'm dealing with somethings that I can't disclose."

After reading that, my guy said, "People are going to this I broke up with you!" If you thought that, you were wrong and shame on you. Rather, I was ailing from physical symptoms as well as stress that it might be a major medical issue. Even after I was feeling better, test results were still missing! I got the bill for the fucking tests before I finally got word that it was far less serious than originally thought. It's virtually nothing. I expect scare tactics from politicians, but not my doctor! Anyway, I need not say what it was because... well, it wasn't. I'm absolutely fine, except for the fact that after the stress and the trip and the health scare, I've lost an entire month of my life!

Even though I got new headshots, I haven't done anything with them this past month and now I don't know what to do. I finally made the decision to come home for Thanksgiving and just stay until the New Year. Flying back and forth would just be silliness. Now I have less than a month in LA before that holiday break. Should I pursue sending my new headshots out to managers and agents or wait until I get back in January? How do I make the most of this month, without feeling like it's wasted time that could be spent with the one I love?

How did this happen; how does time just evaporate like this? I've been so ashamed that I've not done anything with my new headshots, and so consumed with health issues, I've obviously not been in the sharing, blogging mood, but there's nothing like a little rain to help clear your head. Well, not really, I still don't have answers to most things, but I finally felt something normal and natural. It was cold and wet and smelled amazing... and it made me feel better.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dodger Dogs, Missing Midol, Egomaniacs in the Express Lane and Men and Microwaves...

So I'll bet you're thinking that since I haven't blogged that means I've been busy doing stuff that'll be really cool to read about! Right?

Yeah, sorry... Not so much.

I felt horrible all week and didn't do a whole lot of anything. But here's some randomness that you'll hopefully find amusing:

Halloween Horror Nights at work have been a huge success, which is actually a bad thing. We've been grazing the point at which high ticket sales makes executive types very uncomfortable, not from a crowd control stance, but moreover, long wait times this year could result in unhappy patrons and less ticket sales in the coming years. Like the day time, the Studio Tour is the most popular attraction and our line is going through our queues, up our escalator and spilling into the theme park. Last weekend a food stand that sells 'Dodger Dogs' complained that our exit blockades were right in front of them and as a result their sales were pathetic. Our management was annoyed that a meager food stand would challenge the most popular attraction but for the sake of corporate synergy they struck a deal. Our lines would stay but the tour guides would encourage everyone on each Terror Tram to get a Dodger Dog as they left...

The night this began I was working as a guide and a friend who was opening tram gates at the unload area sent me a text half way through the night asking what the hell was going on with the Dodger Dogs? "The guests are screaming to get off the tram because of the infomercial!" he wrote. It was annoying to everyone working the unload area who had to hear it repeatedly and apparently to the guests too, but it worked! Our menacing intent was to keep Dodger Dogs so damn busy that they'd be sorry for messing with us, and indeed, they sold out!

-

Earlier this week Oprah did a show on rudeness and the fact that it's a national epidemic. It focused a lot on cell phone etiquette and restaurant behavior but a question in an 'are you rude?' quiz asked if you'd knowingly taken more than the allotted number of items through an express check-out lane. I think that's a forgivable offense if you're in a huge hurry and not too far over the limit.

Jump to the next day - I find myself in the grocery having a horrible day. The usual ghost-town of a pharmacy has a line of people and a wait to get something filled, causing me to rearrange my afternoon and possibly making me late for work. After finally dropping off a prescription I grabbed a half gallon of milk and went to the pill aisle for Midol. I searched and searched with no luck. I glanced in the "feminine hygiene" area with no luck there either. It was not in the glass case under the pharmacy window either. The closest employee was a middle aged man stocking potatoes. Great! Modesty be damned, my finger had gone numb from the milk and I had fulfilled my daily workout pacing back and forth in front of the pills.

"Hi, I realize you're the produce guy," I said. "But I need help in aisle one, from you or whomever." He put down his potato and asked what I am looking for. "Midol. Which, by the way, is a pretty stupid product to hide from a women in need of purchasing it." He looked confused for a moment, thought about it, then laughed. It was located by the tampons, but hidden behind one of those dangling displays that jut out from the middle of a shelf. "Are you freaking kidding me? You know this is terribly placement, right?" I looked at him with a bullshit smile, knowing he'd go back to his potatoes and not pass my concerns along. For the record, all my comments were veiled with humor; I was not rude. Bunt, but not rude.

In the express lane with my Midol, milk and loudly ticking watch, the woman in front of me clearly had more than 15 items. I knew she was real trouble when asked if she'd like paper or plastic. "Double plastic," she replied. Mind you, the express lane didn't have a bagger so asking the cashier to double bag immediately negated the word 'express.' Her transaction seemed to take five years; she had two or three bottles of wine that couldn't be quickly scanned and tossed. Then, as the poor cashier handed her one of her bags, the woman complained, "Oh, this is so heavy!" The cashier took the time to separate it into two bags. EXPRESS LANE!?!?!?

I did pick up the 'scrip and make it to work on time, never mind the misplaced Midol and egotistical express lane bitch.

-

My roommate's parents are in town for a visit. They got in late last night and stayed at our apartment, but are now in a hotel. I am here much more than my roommate, so I put away the things I'd been using, like the ironing board, and straightened up a bit. I didn't sweap or go too far out of my way though, I mean, they're not my parents! The last time her mom visited (by herself) I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that she didn't give our apartment that "mom cleaning" that I'd heard people talk about in my college years. No big deal; just an observation. But imagine my surprise when I awoke this morning to find a sparkling clean cook top and microwave! Nice! Yes, they were both a bit dirty with left over splatter, but not like bachelor pad disgusting or anything. I had to smile and laugh as I thought "it must have been her dad!"

I think a clean microwave is a mans domain! My guy always bugs me about not covering every single thing I put in the microwave with a paper towel and he commented on my slightly splattered microwave the last time he was here. My dad is pretty good about cleaning stuff like that too. I hate gender roles, but the obvious joke here is that the microwave is a lot of guys primary cooking medium, so like a car or a tool set, they keep it clean! ;)

I can't wait to ask my roommate if she saw which parent cleaned our microwave. It doesn't really matter, I'm grateful it was done for us, but more than that I am amused by the quirky little things that make me think of home.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A friend at work last night asked if I had fallen off the face of the earth and you might be wondering the same. The asnwer is yes, it kind of feels that way.

I got back in town for my acting class Tuesday night, which went amazingly well and I'm working every night this weekend. By working I mean hiding out in the upstairs lounge, as opposed to the main area with a million other annoying type-A personas that I haven't felt like interacting with. It's odd how the Horror Night shifts are structured - instead of paying employees for the amount they actually work, all tour guide shifts are seven hours. To make that happen you're called in between 4:30 to 6 p.m., even though the event doesn't open until 7. I'm certainly not going to complain about being paid to do nothing, but last night I wanted to be anywhere else.

I don't anticipate tonight being much better. I'm dealing with somethings that I can't disclose, but hopefully life will be back to normal soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Musings from an airplane

Written 10.13.08; 8 p.m.ish EST:

I should be memorizing a scene for tomorrow night’s acting class as I sit aboard an aircraft swiftly dragging me back to LA at thirty-some thousand feet. That stupid scene is the only reason I am on this flight; I don’t have to work until Saturday and would have changed my ticket to Friday if not for my obligation to my scene partner. I guess it’s really less about the him and more about the opinion of my acting teacher. My current scene partner is also in a distance relationship with his partner, so he understands my circumstance. I’m sure he could easily present a monologue tomorrow night, but I do not want to look unreliable in anyone’s eyes. Skipping class could lead to calling off that one measly shift and then when would it end…?

On the way to the airport my guy asked me if I even had fun this visit and “Did it only make things worse?” “I got to see you, so I could never call it ‘worse,’” I answered.

The truth, as I went on to explained to him, is that it’s harder this time because there’s nothing new and exciting about going back to LA. I have my apartment, my acting class, my job and a basic understanding of how everything works. I’ve always known it would be difficult and now I understand the logistics of that reality. Friends disagree, but I have never felt I am a very motivated person, thus, running the business of “me the actor” is a constant struggle. I hate to admit it, but I work better with a little bit of structure to hold me accountable.

With neither structure nor the physical presence of my greatest supporters, the past couple months have been very difficult. My roommate works long hours and has a serious boyfriend that she spends most of her free time with, so I have gone over two weeks without seeing her. I still talk to a couple castmates from the musical festival and know some cool people from work and acting class, but I can count on one hand the times I’ve been out with them. Restaurants are expensive, I don’t drink and drive and I don’t want to deal with being hit on… As result of my lacking human interaction, I’ve developed a very unnatural relationship with Michael Phelps. I talk to him everyday when I feed him breakfast.
He’s my pet Beta fish. :)

Although I have my new headshots and should be excited about now getting a manager and better agent… I’m… I don’t know what I am. I’m not unexcited, but not as energized as I should be. I’m just tired of doing everything on my own. I know I’m not alone; I talk to my guy a million times a day via phone, webcam, text and email. Nonetheless, the feeling of loneliness is extremely draining.

In addition to not wanting to go back to all those negative aspects, it was difficult to once again see all I had left and am asking my guy to leave. I love our home! It is so beautiful and comfortable and full of memories. If you could see my house and watch how my guy treats me, for even five minutes, you would think I was absolutely, committably crazy for leaving it. It’s stupid and foolish and beyond comprehension. What the fuck is wrong with me? In Ohio I already have what some people search their lives for. Even though I was fulfilled to be spending time with my loved ones and pets, I still felt the sadness and conflict associated with everything in our lives being upside down right now.

If you think this sounds like I’m waving a literary white flag, then you don’t know me very well. I’m like our Great Dane stuck in the MINI Cooper, or a cat up a tree… With ever step I take forward, the path behind me disappears. I won’t go back; I can’t. Like our dog the other day, I’ll sit in the car, equally terrified of going back the way I came and eagerly waiting for the car to move and take me somewhere wonderful. I have no doubt that the vehicle that is my career will take off, it’s just that sometimes being the driver is beyond overwhelming. Okay, enough with the bad car analogies…

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dallas... Again

I'm sitting across from a clothing store in the airport called Lone Star Attitude, in which the manikins have bull heads. They're made of sleek shiny white plastic, but still!

Too bad the store is closed, I could have had an hour of amusement watching who in their right mind enters such a place...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Oh my funny! Our Dane was stuck in the MINI!

For the first time in her ten year life, my guy found a flea on our Great Dane this afternoon! Ack! He headed back to work and suggested if, by chance, she would fit in the MINI Cooper, I take her to the groomer. Prior to calling for an appointment, I thought I should try putting the dog in the tiny two door car.

She hopped in with ease, but the groomer had no openings this afternoon, and then the dog wouldn't get out of the car!!! She tried, but our huge pooch is extremely timid and was freaked out by the small space she had entered... She was like a cat who had gotten itself stuck in a tree! I tried coxing her with treats, I tried ringing the door bell, then I just started taking pictures because it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen!

I left the doors open and returned to my Project Runway marathon - an hour and fifteen minutes later she finally decided to get out of the car and come back in the house!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Headaches from Horror Nights!

I mentioned a bit of surprise that I wasn't on the work schedule this week, but then again, I'm just one of many cogs in a very large wheel, so I got a plane ticket home without questioning it.

Tuesday afternoon our dispatch office called to see if I wanted to pick up an extra shift guiding a Terror Tram this Saturday night. Nope!

Then, last night, as my guy prepared me a delicious "welcome back" meal, I received a voice mail from the scheduler that there was a mistake and I am on the schedule as an STA this Saturday. We're emailed a 4 to 6 page PDF document; the first couple pages is the main guide schedule, followed by foreign language guide schedules and emcee schedules... I did not know that under all that there is now a page devoted just to Halloween Horror Nights shifts, as those shifts are also listed in on the main guide schedule. For me, there was a technical glitch and my shift this Saturday was only on the Horror Nights page and not by my name on the main guide page. *sigh* Obviously dispatch is only looking at the main page too, since they called me to guide.

Am I flying home early to do the shift? Hell no! My salary wouldn't come close to covering a ticket change fee! Luckily, our scheduler was cool about it, admitting it was a technical mistake, and not panelizing me with attendance points. If she wanted to be a bitch she could claim it was my responsibility to read the entire schedule; I guarantee there will be a note in a coming email alerting everyone to the additional Horror Nights page!


Anyway, it feel so amazing to be home! Since my guy works 12+ hours today I'm driving to see my parents and grandparents. The timing is great, as my brother from Chicago is also coming down to visit his son in a nearby Indiana town. We'll be meeting tonight at good ole Pizza Hut, my mom's favorite, and I'm really anxious to get my brothers opinion on my new headshots.


Time to hit the road. Hhmm... Do I remember to how to drive the stick shift? :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dialing in from Dallas

I'm sitting in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. I think it's in the four o'clock hour "my" time, six something here and seven something in Ohio. I fear the final leg of my journey, to Detroit, will have me at my wits end! I tried to sleep on the way here, unsuccessfully. I'm a fidgity flyer and it especially sucks not to have anyone to lean on. The last twenty minutes of the flight from LAX was not without someone to talk to though...

My flight was full of cocky Marine recruits who all looked like they just hit puberty. Although they looked young, they already had that cool, asshole, hardened essence about them. That was my impression until the one next to me opened his mounth and my heart sank. He was so... clueless and appropriately immature. He just talked and talked and talked to me. He'd wanted to join the Army and didn't know what the Marines were when they called him. He wanted to be a sniper because "it's so cool in the video games," but there were no openings so he's training to be a military fire fighter instead. At the boot camp he was returning from they talked about how it would be "awesome" for war to start in North Korea or Russia because it would be somewhere new to fight. "War isn't a video game!" I replied. "I know, I know..." he laughed. But does he? He also went on and on about his family. His room is decorated with Eagles football stuff; he owes his mom $200 because he asked her to buy him a new jersey while he was at camp. *sigh* I wanted to ask "are you going to call her from Iraq for a new baseball cap?". But I didn't. I just listened.

I realize the military is a great option for people like him who have no idea what they would do otherwise, but it just doesn't seem right for a kid, barely 18, to be on the front lines of something that is so far beyond their comprehension...

This is not inviting a military debate, just a highlight, or low light as the case may be, of my travels.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's been a month since I've seen my guy and this time around it's been extremely difficult to deal with, so late last week I was wishfully checking flights for tonight until Friday morning. I know people who travel a lot would think nothing of that, but to me, only having two full days at my destination would be unfulfilling and frustrating given the cost and hassle of travel. But, I have obligations to a scene partner at an acting class tonight and I was led to believe that the tour guides selected to work Halloween Horror nights were victims of the Terror Tram every weekend in October...

So imagine my mixed emotions when I got the schedule this past Friday evening to find I hadn't received a single shift. "How are you to plan anything with such an inconsistent, late-breaking schedule?! How am I to pay my bills??!!" But that reaction lasted a nano second and was pushed aside by the joy of "I CAN GO HOME FOR A WEEK!" Well, almost a week. I'm taking a red-eye tonight after class and fly back Monday.

I know I'll be home for a considerable amount of time in December, so this trip, my man and I are being extremely selfish with our time together (with the exception of seeing a family member that will also be in from out-of-town).

I don't know if it's just in my head, or if the stigma really exists, but there's a negative vibe around "going home." It's like, if you're not in LA working your ass off, you must not really care about your career. With the sporadic nature and short notice of all types of work in this crazy town, it is much easier to receive visitors. Nonetheless, I know I need this.

When I moved out here we said we'd see each other at least once a month and take turns flying back and forth. We've stretched that a bit and I have not kept up my end of the travel bargain, as this is only my second trip back in six months.

I’m looking at my lack of auditions and work this week as a huge opportunity! The timing is actually perfect – I’m still sorting through my new headshots, gathering opinions and driving myself crazy trying to choose the two to reproduce. Tonight and next week in my acting class we are working on scenes, as opposed to seeing casting directors, to whom I would need to give an 8x10 headshot. Dealing with headshots and not being scheduled to see casting directors gives me some room to breathe. Also, since getting the new shots I can’t bring myself to submit with the old, horrible one; thus, the lack of auditions. I do need to hurry up, select and get some new ones online and start submitting again, but the positive part of that is, since I haven’t been submitting it’s unlikely I’ll get an audition and have to deal with another heartbreaking Murphy’s Law situation while I’m home this time.

And now to try to pack for fall in Ohio... Uhg!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Insomnia

The only point of this post is to say I can not stand myself and the sleep schedule I have had for the past week or so. The past two days I've been awake until 5 or 6 a.m., slept until 3 or 4 p.m. and had to rush to work at 5 or 6 p.m... :(

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hello from Halloween Horror Nights!

"Halloween already?" Yes!

Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights began yesterday and tonight our tram loading area is busier than I have ever seen it! Last night I was a guide on the "Terror Trams" but tonight I am an STA, aka a door opener on the backlot. Basically the guests watch a scary video about nightmares and Freddie Krugger while they're driven to some backlot sets. The guide gives a bs reason that they have to get off the tram and walk. I am amazed at the amount of people I've heard tonight bitching about it! They're getting to WALK through Whoville sets, beside the Bates Motel and Psycho house and through the War of the Worlds set with the crashed 747 before getting back on a tram and going through the Mummy's tomb!!! Amazing!

Have I gone through any of the haunted stuff? Hell no!!! I couldn't even deal with the monsters up in the park on employee preview night long enough to get the free food!

Breaks over...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Busy, but blue.

Do you ever have those days (or weeks) when things seem to be great, but you still don't feel happy? I've been incredibly busy but at the end of they day (which is back to 4 a.m. for me) I don't feel like I've accomplished much... The good news is my photo shoot went very well Tuesday and I have several wonderful new headshot options to sort through. Also with Universal's Halloween festivities running all month I'll be getting more work. More about all that later...

Chalking it up to good experience - Part 1 of ?

Last week was pretty good, in terms of the industry – I had four auditions and went to two casting director seminars. But no, none of it really amounted to anything.

The Music Video Audition

Last Tuesday I auditioned for that country music video. The requirements of the audition itself were a bit awkward, so lucky for me I was familiar with the location and people running the audition. The main casting director was my acting teacher, thus the reason I got an audition. It was held at the theatre below where our class is held; I had never been in that theatre, but knew the area, travel time and parking. Two of my classmates sometimes assist my acting teacher and they were two of the three gentlemen actually in the audition room, running the camera and such.

All of that made it very easy for me, what wasn’t easy for any of us was the multifaceted, improv audition. First we had to walk onstage, as if coming out of a church, pretending to read a book, then act startled by the hot bad boy waiting for us. A male actor was actually there to speak to us, but he was not in the camera shot. He asked to take us for a ride on his motorcycle and we were to say “I don’t accept rides from local ruffians,” as if we didn’t know him, and then improv a playful, coy conversation from there, the reality being that he is our boyfriend. Then, we had to do a cat-and-mouse playful chase around a chair that was onstage to represent his bike. As to not take away from the girls’ audition, the male actor did not really chase us or be chased; obviously that part felt a bit silly, but I did my best to be in the moment, as if I was really goofing around with my guy. Finally, after dizzying ourselves, we were to look into the camera and act as if we were speaking to a friend, telling her both how he turns us on, but also why we’re running away to spend our life with him! They were looking for someone who could go instantly from innocent and playful to overtly sexual.

It was fun, but certainly not as easy as interpreting and delivering a script. I felt like I was in and out of the audition room rather quickly. This sounds mean, but some of the other girls in the waiting area seemed like bimbos. I was able to go through each step of the audition seamlessly without prompting; I simply can not believe some of the other girls could have done that. The bitch of it is, stopping to ask, “um, like what do I do next?” was probably the moment that showed something the director liked! LOL!

I’m not saying the video director or artist are looking for a bimbo, rather that moment of naivety could have been golden. So anyway, no I didn’t even get a callback, but one of the guys from my acting class was cast as the bad boy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New headshots today!!!

I picked up shifts at Universal Sunday and Monday and wish me luck - this afternoon I'm having new headshots taken! I should be getting my beauty sleep right now, so here's a quick copy-and-pasted look inside an email I just wrote to someone very special:

Anyway... you may be surprised to read that I'm not at all packed and ready for my photo shoot and I'm not the least bit stressed about it! Odd. I have come to realize all I ever worry about are the things that never end up mattering in the end. I have a few outfits in mind that I know will be great. I've looked at a lot of other peoples shots and in most cased you barely see the clothes, so I'm trying to keep it simple on myself. I've decided to go with my hair hot rolled - not like crazy curly or done up, but just normal with some body and bend at the end. I'm going to take my blow drying and if half way through I have somewhere to wet and straighten it, that'll be cool... if not, it's not a big deal. Instead of the tedious clothes and makeup stuff I'm thinking about what sort of moments I want to capture - by that I mean planning the things that will be running through my mind and coming out through my eyes and expression. Of course the most important thing is that they look like me, but if the picture represents a character when a casting director looks at it, I want them to see what line my character is saying. I think that is far more important than worrying if my outfit says "bad girl" or "nerd" or whatever... Does that make sense? [Photographer's name] is giving me a great deal - $200 for 3 to 5 looks, so I'm just going to go have a good time and trust the result will be better than what I already have...

Friday, September 26, 2008

"You're from the Midwest, arent' you?"

These were the words from a stranger behind me as I stood in line at Samuel French, a bookstore specializing in all things theatre and film. I turned around, smiled and asked, "How did you know?"

This happened Tuesday and I had just come from my audition for the country music video. The role was a cute but sexy 17 year old preachers daughter who runs off with a hot motorcycle bad boy. Thus, I was in brown boots, tight jeans and a cute but simple top that showed cleavage. My make up was minimal and my hair was in a headband, in hopes of capturing maximum youthfulness.

The first gentleman and the guy behind him both agreed they could "just tell" I was from the Midwest. "How old do you think I am," I asked. He literally took a step backward, shaking his head and refusing to answer. "It's fine," I laughed, "We're obviously all in the industry..."

"Do you want me to insult you high or insult you low?"

I assured him he wasn't going to insult me at all. He remained hesitant until I insisted he stop over thinking it and just say whatever number had originally popped in his head.

Finally he answered, "Well, before you opened your mouth I'd say between 20 and 22, but now that we've spoken I'd say 27 or 28."

Interesting...

The yes-man behind him agreed again, "I thought you were younger at first too, but you carry yourself very well."

"Damn maturity!" I joked, thanked them and went on my way...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My man got a callback!

I know what you're thinking, "Huh? I thought your 'manfriend,' or whatever odd thing you call him, was a sales manager in Ohio, not an actor?" That's correct. But, after he did a great deal of cleaning, organizing, fixing, fussing, weed-pulling and temporary pet relocation, a showing of our home has proven hopeful. A couple who, according to their realtor have not like the past 20+ homes they've seen, looked at ours Saturday and would to come back for a second tour!

In my world, that's called a callback! :)

I am so proud of my beau! I know he's put in a lot of work on annoying little things that I regret not helping with before I moved.
Thank you baby, you're the best!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ah, yes, auditioning is why I moved across the country!

It seems projects in this town come in waves; some weeks the booking websites will be full of great breakdowns, other weeks, there's nothing... There has actually been a good amount to filter through lately. Although, I've been more selective in what I submit for; by that I mean I play the role of casting director and only submit for parts that I truly think I'd be called in for. I've heard from multiple casting directors that submitting for everything not only lowers the percentage of auditions you get, but never getting called in also lowers your self esteem! It's better to submit a little and get called in a lot. With gas prices and the dread of LA traffic, I also careful consider travel versus compensation versus networking and experience.

Anyway, I had and have some auditions which are thankfully helping to pull me out of that funk I kept whining about. This past Friday I auditioned for the director and writer I worked with for the short musical festival back in May and June; they're doing a play that will be part of the same theatre company's "ACTober Fest." I doubt I got the part at this point because I haven't heard from them, but at the audition they were pleased that I "got" the character and all the nuance in the writing. They said my acting and facial reactions were wonderful, but that I was a bit too perky for this bitchy, dry character. I don't think there's much I could do about that; sweet and perky is probably how they'll always see me, since that was the character I originally played for them for four weeks.

Whether I get it or not, I finally experienced something I should go into every audition with - calm and confidence. Because I knew exactly where I was going and the people I'd be auditioning for, there were no nerves, no panic about being on time and finding parking, no concern that the project might not be what I thought it was... I was able to walk in without a care in the world and give a solid reading that I'm proud of. As an actor, that is all you can ask of yourself.

I booked legitimate extra work on a non-union film for this afternoon. I was going to get fifty bucks for six hours of work as a high school prom-goer, however, I had to bail on them at the last minute. I hate looking unreliable, but in this town you have to take the better opportunity... In this case, my acting teacher, who is also a casting director, alerted the class to a breakdown for a popular country singers music video that he is casting. I was called in to audition for the 17 year old, sweet but sexy teenage lead; my audition is right in the middle of the extra work. Everyone always thinks I'm younger than I actually am, but 17? I don't know, but I'm willing to show up with next to no makeup and channel my inner teenager to the best of my ability!

My guilt about bailing lessened when I got a second audition for today that would have also conflicted with the extra work. This audition is for a non paying student film. When it comes to submitting for student films, I go through phases; sometimes I ignore them completely, other times I'll submit if the story or character intrigues me. Or, in this case, if the shoot would be convenient. This student film is shooting on Universals backlot! In my submission notes I wrote that I as a tour guide I already have clearance to the backlot. I don't know if they're calling me in based on that convenience, or if they really like me for the part; either way, I would absolutely LOVE to actually act on the backlot. Even for a student film, it would be fucking amazing! The funny part is, the role is a bustling New York pedestrian. Hhhmmm... Where exactly on the backlot are they filming? I can't wait to walk in to the audition and ask, "You realize New York street burnt down about four months ago, right?"

Speaking of Universal, I'll be auditioning to get into their prestigious industry showcase this Thursday. They only take twenty guides (meaning ten scenes, each running two minutes or less). I've been told you often have to pay to get into talent showcases, and even then they're usually at some seedy bar with no real industry folks in attendance. So the opportunity to be in a completely reputable showcase, now in its 23rd year is very exciting! Although he's not in our class, my acting teacher allowed my scene partner/fellow tour guide to come to class last night and worked with us before and after the cold reads with the guest casting director. We're doing a hilarious scene from the musical, turned movie, The Full Monty. No, no one gets naked in our scene, but I do throw a g-string at him with rage, thinking he is cheating on me. In actuality he's trying to become a stripper to make extra cash; it's funny because both the character and my scene partner are bigger guys. It works for us because we're both musical theatre types; it works for the showcase audition which will be cast by TV types because fat guys with cute skinny wives are very common on TV sitcoms right now. Thus, we're showing both our talent and castability!

And now that it's going on 4 a.m., I should probably get some beauty sleep to help me look more like a 17 year old...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tram Take-over: Kathie Lee Gifford!

Yesterday I picked up a shift at Universal and when I was called out to give my first tour around 10 a.m. there was a strange buzz in the air. My manager and his manager were both on the load line, the emcee was trying to get the unamused guests excited that they'd be having a "special tour" and we waited and waited and waited...
But no trams came.

As it turns out, Kathie Lee Gifford was there to sort of give a tour and tape a segment for the 4th hour of the Today show that she now co-hosts. Several of my coworkers were just annoyed that it was creating an unnecessary wait for the guests, but I was actually excited to see her in person!

After about 10 minutes they sent out a Japanese language tour. I was told Whoopie Goldberg once did the same thing and caused an hour and a half load line backup! That sounds a bit embellished, but who knows! After another 10 minutes they decided to resume "regular" un-special tours. The poor emcee had to turn all his hype into the introduction of the guide. Thank goodness it was not me who had to deal with disappointed, confused and pissed guests who had been in the "next" spot for over 20 minutes! I hopped on the tram after that with guests who were still in the queue and probably oblivious to the fact something odd was going on. It's amazing what tourist don't hear, even when your trying to get their attention over a microphone!

When I returned about an hour later Kathie Lee had gone out; I was on a break at that point and I the thought did cross my mind that I could lurk around the unload area for her tram to return, but no...
My stomach was killing me and honestly, what would be the point? I suppose if I was a huge fan of hers, and if my ultimate career ambition was to host, I could have found a way to say hello. But since neither of those things are true, it wasn't worth looking like an ass, potentially getting in trouble, and quite frankly peeling myself off the couch I was on!

Upon further research I found that Kathie Lee and her co-host Hoda Kotb are both here in LA trying to rile up some publicity. A line from the Today show website reads: "Move over Brangelina, TomKat, McPalin... there’s a new couple taking up Us Weekly real estate: HodaLee!" Riiight...

I'm told Kathie Lee sat in the guide seat, on camera and made funny jokes while a veteran guide who was on mic, but off camera, delivered the actual information. I'm sure it was a really fun tour; they said Kathie Lee was very sarcastic, probably making great jokes that real guides aren't allowed to make! I think the segment will be on the Today show Monday or Tuesday.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blogging from a bar - OMG I'm so old!

tonight I went with a cast mate from the short musical festival to see my former on stage boyfriend in an excellent production of the musical Assasins (sp?). Afterward we went with several members of the cast for drinks. Cool. I'm battling stomach cramps, but that's been the case for two weeks now...

My cast mate/ rides boyfriend also joined us and when she found out that a home town friend was visiting LA and hanging out at another bar we decided to stop by. Only this isn't just a bar, it's a deafeningly loud sports bar turned night time dance club full of drunk 20 year olds.

This could be fun if my stomach weren't killing me, or if all these size negative girls who have never even heard of cellulite weren't everywhere...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Adult Juice Boxes

Okay, so I've had a rough week or so...

I did feel better after solidifying a plan of action, as far as my career is concerned, however loneliness and a lack of structure have plagued me the last few days. I have found myself back on an insomniacs schedule, which does not allow me to do things like... oh, I don't know, find a new job!

I was up until like 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, then slept until 2 p.m.ish that afternoon. Upon waking and tuning around twice I had to rush out the door for a 4 o'clock meeting with a scene partner to rehearse before an acting class that ended around 10 p.m. Then I went grocery shopping at midnight; all the night time stock guys remember me and are so nice! I'd much rather navegate around their cardboard boxes in an otherwise empty store than deal with other people's carts and screaming kids during the day...

I was up until like 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. What did I do all night? I can't even recall. I did not watch TV, but nor did I take care of important emails because my mind just wasn't crisp enough to do so. I think I organized my desk, oh and I purused Craigslist for jobs and rental homes that would be ideal when my man and animals get to LA...

Anyway, an alarm always goes off at 11:11 a.m. reminding me to call work to possibly pick up an extra shift, then my beau called me. After speaking to him I rolled back over to get a little more sleep, assuming I'd wake up around 1 or 2 p.m. No. I opened my eyes and reached for my phone to see that it was SIX fucking p.m. Wednesday evening! I was utterly confused, temporarily convinced it was a mistake! No mistake, I'm just a mess.

Each and every night my beau encourages me to call someone and go out to make myself tired. "I just don't understand how it works in this town..." I argue. There are not any fun night spots in walking distance to my apartment and I don't drink and drive. "I don't know anyone here well enough to ask them to come pick my ass up, go to a bar, but not drink so that I can..." I tell him. Not drinking or even having the desire to is better for my health anyway.

However, during my midnight shopping excursion I found something that I am coining the adult juice box. I always take a look at the cart of random items with reduced prices at the grocery. (It's usually hiding in a back corner somewhere.) I found mini wine boxes for $1.73! They're actually called tetra packs, by Vendange, and they contain 500 ml, or 3 glasses. For less than two bucks! I bought like five white zins, a pinot and a chardonney. The bargin shopper in me couldn't resist and if it helps me fall asleep tonight then that makes it all the more worth while...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A bit of clarity.

Thankfully, my meeting with my acting teacher went really well and I feel much better than I did. Having been out here for nearly half a year, I just needed to refocus for the next stage of establishing myself.

My first month or so was consumed with finding an apartment, then I focused on finding a job and went through an extensive elimination and training process to secure that job. The past month or two I worked as much as I possibly could, but with the tourist season and thus my hours abruptly ending, I was left with nothing and too much to do!

The sad part of the summary above is that it doesn't involve any acting stuff. I lucked into a good class that my roommate had gone to, as well as free workshops offered at work. The first agency I went to was horrible, but they took me and I haven't shopped around for a better one, because at least I can say "I have an agent..." I was fortunate to get two roles in that musical festival when I first got to town, but have only booked two other things...

I'm proud of the things I was able to accomplish in a short time; much of it was thanks to good timing, so now I need to do my own homework and make other important things happen.

So the number one focus is getting new headshots. There is a possibility that a new manager and/or agent might want different shots, but a good rep would give you 3 or 4 months to do that. It's a risk worth taking because my acting coach believes I'll be signed easily when I'm met in person, but I need better pictures to get in the doors of good offices.

Step 1: Research photographers
Step 2: Schedule a shoot
Step 3: Choose wardrobe; have the shoot
Step 4: Research reps and choose which offices to solicit
Step 5: Select best shot(s) and have it reproduced
Step 6: Tweak resume and write a cover letter
Step 7: Mail new headshot/resume/cover letter
Step 8: Follow-up on mailings and schedule meetings
Step 9: Have meetings
Step 10: Sign with a manager and better agent

Yeah... not quite as simple as "get new pictures and an agent," huh? :) I didn't expect it to be easy; the stress comes when things you need to do are undefined blobs floating around your head and you don't know where to start! I'd rather have a tedious 10 step to-do list than huge, general, unprioritized ideas.

I also need to research more intensive technique or theory classes, which I got leads for today, and buy and read some popular actor books.

The issue of holiday travel is still not solidified; my teacher seems to think there will still be work through the second week of December and that LA is "dark" through the first two weeks of January. I'm not as worried about his judgment of whatever decision I make though, thanks to him getting a better understanding of my relationship, which I swear he knew about... He said, "You'll get bored at home after a week or two anyway..." I rebutted, "I'll probably be busy packing up our house..." He became much more understanding after I explained I live with my beau, our house is on the market, we've been together nearly five years and are a totally committed, both wear rings, but have no desire to do the paperwork and declare the "m" word.

After that his tune kind of changed and he shared advice once given to him... "Establish your California residency first, then establish your acting career." He didn't mean government residency, I got that, but something else he said led me to clarify, "I live here. I'm in a lease...," fearing I'd confused the man who admits to having done too many drugs in the 70s!

We did understand each other and there's certainly no arguing with the fact that life is less stressful and more fruitful when you're completely settled... So anyway, I have more clarity with which to keep plugging along and hopefully a better understanding from my LA support system.
---

Also, he told me to stop doing paid audience work. "It's the bottom of the food chain." Indeed it is.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Feeling the gloom settle in…

Today I was paid audience for three episodes of a new talk show, The Doctors. I have no doubt you will see me in two of the three, as I was in the front row, next to various guest that spoke from their audience seats. At the end we taped a commercial for actual viewers to get tickets; for that the hosts sat in the audience and I was right next to the hot lead doctor. After a long day of freezing to death on the Dr Phil adjacent set, I fear my appearance won’t be up to my standards; nonetheless people in this section were hand picked, much like America’s Got Talent yesterday.

As for the show, my prognosis is fatal. It needs to personality and statistics STAT. The segments were really drug-out and the hosts were well-spoken but repetitive in their verbiage and boring at times. The biggest flaw I found was the lack of information; it seemed like they didn’t answer the questions because so often all they could say is “it depends on the patient” or “consult your own doctor.” The show starts out with a very The View-like vibe, as the four doctors chat about a hot medical topic; I was especially frustrated with the lack of facts or statistics used in their discussion during this segment.

The highlight for me was when actor John C. McGinly was a guest to talk about having a son with Downs Syndrome; he plays Dr. Perry Cox on Scrubs, one of my favorite shows! Today was definitely the most excited I’ve been over the handful of celebrities I’ve seen since moving to LA!

Despite that ten minute positive star stuck-ness, my head is still spinning, as I mentioned yesterday.

Last night I simply could not get to bed and once I did lay down I could not silence my mind. I may have gotten an hour or two of sleep before having to get up again. When I got home from the show taping this afternoon I just vegged out, napping for a few hours. On this exciting Friday night in LA I’m going back to bed before midnight…

Over the years I’ve come to know my emotions and body and I can recognize when a gloomy fog is settling in around my head and heart. Instead of dealing with an issue and setting it free, all of a sudden everything is a point of stress swirling around me and I can’t seem to take care of things or make a decision. I can’t turn my mind off, focus or find the positive side. Unlike some women, the fact that it’s nearly that time of the month is not the cause, rather horrible timing that certainly won’t help.

I’ve been here for five months and now that I’ve sort of figured out how things work, I feel I have some tough decisions to make. Do I focus on getting a good manager and agent and trust I’ll get acting work or do I find a great day job, save up money and focus on taking classes? One thing I can’t figure out is how people balance their acting career and day jobs; scheduling in this town is a nightmare and it’s so hard to gage which auditions are worth calling off your day job to go to. After two or three sick calls, most jobs fire you, so I just don’t know how people do it.

Of course I’m stressed about the process and expense of getting new headshots. Do I get them sooner in order to find a manager and better agent or do I wait to get those reps, then go to a photographer they recommend? Is my current shot horrible to the point I should stop submitting it and making a fool of myself and again, just focus on classes for a while? (Seriously, you should have seen the faced of the two industry pros who hated it.)

Then there’s the matter of holiday travel, trying to meet with two different scene partners, one of which is an extremely challenging and stressful scene that had me in tear after our last class (not character tears, my tears of frustration and self-contentiousness, as it's a scene requiring sexuality and movement that I'm surprised I can't seem to pull off) and believe it or not, body image issues. Oh, and I’m trying to find the best way to handle massive amounts of ridiculous drama on another non-anonymous publication I author. Not to mention general loneliness, wanting to get our house in Ohio sell, but not knowing how exactly things will play out if that happens before my lease it up in this crappy apartment...

Tomorrow morning I’m meeting with my acting teacher, who can hopefully help answer many of these questions, but I’m even stressed about that meeting. It doesn’t seem smart to show weakness to anyone in this industry. He is also a casting director and his wife is a manager who represents a good amount of people who are or were in the class; I don’t want either of them equating my shitty week to a lack of strength, ability or commitment within this very tough industry. As I mentioned in a reply to a comment below, he makes you feel extremely guilty when you miss any opportunity. I know he’s going to tell me to limit my holiday visit home; I’d rather he not know where or why I’m disappearing for a month, but he’s the only person in the industry I have to go to for this kind of advise. He is extremely helpful and in offering meetings like this to all his students, he goes above and beyond what most teachers do. So hopefully it goes well in the morning, I feel like I can’t leave his place feeling any more confused or stressed than I already am, but who knows…

JERRY SPRINGER ANNOUNCES HIS CANDIDACY FOR PRESIDENT…as a joke during the taping of America’s Got Talent.

The America’s Got Talent taping was pretty cool. I was disappointed that it was a results show, so I didn’t actually get to see the contestants perform. I did, however, get to see Natasha Bedingfield sing. Sshhh! It’s a secret; although it was taped yesterday, it’ll air and look live for an episode next week. She was amazing and her new song, “Angel,” will no doubt be a hit. Jerry Springer was funny and humble with very self deprecating humor. Casting employees specifically placed the audience members. Although I was separated into the “pretty people line” and sat right over David Hasselhoff’s shoulder, my mom said in the shots she saw the audience was dark.

Oh, and here’s my sleazy Perez Hilton style gossip – when the contestants walked onstage the prettiest girl from the Taubl family and Jonathan Burkin, a baton twirler from the Toledo area, were holding hands. Friendly support or budding Hollywood romance? I don’t know, but they both got the boot.

Conveniently, this NBC show is taped just a mile from my apartment on one of the CBS lots. (That happens all the time. Here’s another one – Ghost Whisperer films on the NBC Universal lot, but it’s owned by ABC and airs on CBS.) However, this morning I have to battle the traffic to get into Hollywood to the Paramount lot for a taping of The Doctors. I really hate doing this type of paid audience work, but I just remind myself that if I’m not auditioning or tramming, I may as well make some extra cash.

In other news… I had a horrible stomach thing this week that I’m pretty much recovered from. Now instead of a bloated stomach, it’s my brain that is swollen with frustration and difficult decisions.

Tonight I had a workshop at Universal, which was great. It was with a former actor, turned casting director, turned acting teacher. We did an exercise to help identify our type in order to help us know if we’re correctly representing ourselves and going for the right roles. I am. She also critiqued our headshots, which left me in a bad mood. I know my picture sucks. An agent at a similar workshop told me that a few weeks ago. Here’s the funny part – they both think it looks unprofessional because the background is obviously a backdrop. “It’s obviously taken in a studio,” she said. Hhmmm… someone with a studio and backdrop are unprofessional? They really seem to like outdoor shots with out-of-focus walls or greenery. So I showed her an outdoor shot on my phone taken by a different photographer (who shoots the BenGals). She still didn’t like it. “You look like the prettiest girl in a small town.” Yep…

It’s kind of like when Tyra tells girls on ...Top Model, “You’re pretty, but you don’t look like a model. I’m basically being told, you’re pretty, but your headshot isn’t representing you as a professional actor. It makes me feel like my submissions are a waste time until I get new shots. The silver lining is that I can use my crappy picture as a justification for not getting as many auditions as I’d like to be getting!

I do see and understand what they’re talking about, I just don’t think it’s as horrible as they make it out to be. It doesn’t matter what the background is, it’s a quality issue and the photographers “eye” for theatrical headshots. The only consistent fact about headshots is that they’re subjective! But when credible sources start agreeing that yours suck, it’s time to make some changes. It’s just SO frustrating because I have so many “professional” pictures of myself – none of which work in this town and this industry! What a waste! As a result, I find photo shoots hugely stressful – Which photographer to choose? What to wear? How to do my hair? The awful part is that there’s no guarantee; you pay whether you like the results or not.

Remember that stressful photo shoot that I missed with my crappy agent? They contacted me two weeks ago about rescheduling it. I’m tempted to do it because it would be good experience and free shots, but I feel badly taking advantage of them, since dropping them and getting a better agent is #1 on my to-do list!

*AAHHH – HEAD SPINNING*

I was already stressed today because I had a realization – Thanksgiving. I’d been trying to figure out my December holiday travel and had completely forgotten about Thanksgiving. I have a “free” round trip flight with Frontier for signing up for their credit card that I was planning on using in December. Due to blackout dates, I’d be home for the holidays for about two and a half weeks. I was already worried that was too much time out of LA, then I realized that if I do go home for Thanksgiving too, I’d only be back in LA for two weeks between the trips. That doesn’t seem worth the expense and hassle! On the other hand, I can’t fathom missing Thanksgiving; we celebrate at both my parents and grandparents homes. So do I take a long-ass holiday, using my free ticket to fly home for Thanksgiving and not come back to LA until January 2nd or 3rd?

That would make me feel like a slacker in terms of my career. Although, I’ve heard LA is pretty quiet during the month of December. Then again, I’d pay a whole months rent for a place I didn’t stay! On the other hand if I'm in Ohio the whole month of December I’d be there to celebrate my Mom’s birthday and 5 year anniversary with my guy. Although, I’d have a nervous breakdown if I missed another opportunity, like the PBS callback that I missed when I was home last month. However, if I sit in LA for those two weeks and don’t get an audition or a Universal shift, I’d be so pissed! But what if I book the flight, then our house sells and my man is staying with friends and I’d also have to stay with friends or my parents and annoyingly live out of a suitcase for a month. On the other hand… As you can see, I’m driving myself nuts!

I emailed my acting teacher about the work climate here in December. My beau said that if my coming home for a month gets the house sold quicker, he’s all for it!