Sunday, August 31, 2008

I blame the iPhone...

So here's the thing, my life has been condensed to a 2 x 4 inch piece of electronic heaven that my Manfriend earned by reaching a sales goal at work! (Yes, he's sweet, but mine is the original and he got himself the 3G.)

I don't mean to brag, but I love my iPhone! There are moments and places where I can not connect to the internet, but for the most part, it is in every way as convenient as it's commercials make it out to be.

As a result, I actually spend LESS time online. I know, you'd think it'd be the opposite, but it's not. Instead of opening my laptop to check email and submit for new roles, I can do it quickly from my phone without being sucked into a routine of checking several websites, five times over. When I do go to my old internet haunts from my iPhone, I spend less time there and am less interactive because the iPhone is convenient, but not exactly "comfortable" for extended web surfing or typing.

So anyway, I simply haven't had my laptop open as much, which means I haven't blogged here. Sorry.

This past week I attended workshops three nights in a row - my usual class and two freebies from Universal. One was with the VP of Casting from ABC, a former tour guide! She didn't give us cold reads to perform for her; rather she took our headshots and resumes and shared wonderfully helpful information for about an hour and a half!

Speaking of wonderfully helpful information, a casting director actaully found this blog and left me some feedback on the post below! Be sure to click in and read it!

As for my Labor Day... my Manfriend is flying in this morning for four days. He chose to go to bed early last night, so morning would come sooner, whereas I am still awake at 5 a.m. for some stupid reason!

Today almost felt like I was getting ready for a really long date...
I went to the grocery to get him that white water, I mean skim milk, he drinks, and ingredients to make at least three "home cooked" meals. (The man can cook well, but I know he's depressingly surviving on take-out at work and TV dinners at home.) When I got back I actually took the time to pre-wash and chop my lettuce and slice some fruit so it wouldn't take away from our time together. How sappy! I did two loads of laundry tonight for the same reason. I polished my fingers and toes, among other girly maintenance, which all takes for freaking ever!

It's a funny thing, even after being with him for four and a half years, living with him for almost the entire time and knowing from very early on that it was serious, I almost feel nervous when he visits me here in LA. It's the excited kind of nervous because his visits really are like a long date; we are so happy to see each other, our passion and energy feels new again and I'm so eager to show him things I've talked about and try restaurants and store neither of us have been to... As fun as all that is, I still can not wait for the monotony of being together everyday again - managing a home together and dealing with each others every mood - good, bad and indifferent.
Anyone want to buy a beautiful home in northwest Ohio? :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm about to get some sleep, but I feel guilty for not writing recently...

The main reason for that is good for me - I was working quite a bit at Universal. I got 35 hours last week and over 40 the week before that... As a result my throat is absolutely killing me! I've been nursing it with Throat Coat, my favorite tea. Although I haven't worked since Saturday, I still kind of sound like a phone sex operator!

Sunday I went to a free Stanislavski workshop at a playhouse in the Glendale/Los Feliz/ Silver Lake area, which is in The Valley, 20 to 40 minutes east of where I live depending of course on traffic. Silver Lake is an incredibly trendy, "hipster" type neighborhood. I've never been there and I don't really know what that means, but they literally use it as a type on breakdowns (aka electronic casting calls), "looking for Silver Lake, hipster types."

Anyway, I went to this acting school/theatre company which has a very nice, new, small black block theatre. It was so unbelievalbe refreshing to dive into the art of acting again and be reminded that my University training was not completely worthless! Most of the principles I was taught and continue to use are based in Stanislavski's theory. Of course, that's because Stanislavski was the first person to develop a system by which actors can hone their art form. Almost every acting style is based in his teaching, but many of today's truly great actors work fully in his "Method."

The casting director workshops that I've been going to since April are great - they've given me a lot of exposure, practice in cold reads and the audition process, as well as insight into the business side of Hollywood and its harsh realities. It can all be rather daunting, but this workshop revitilzed the reason I love what I do and want to become better and better at it! It can be so discouraging in this town when casting directors tell you, "find what type you are and play it over and over," and "you don't have to be good, you just need to be likable." I totally understand how both those things are true, but it's not very inspired. Even Stanislavski's theory admits that every character will be a part of who you are, but that is a very different notion than simply playing a stereotyped, talentless charicature of yourself!

A great example that was given at the workshop was the late Heath Ledger; his characters were vastly different in Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight, because he was an ACTOR, not merely a TYPE. Other famous Method actors include Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Laurence Fishburne, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Depp, Stella Adler, Jennifer Connelly, Matt Damon, Christopher Walken, Naomi Watts...

There are many different acting theories. I like to think of them like religions; they're all pretty much founded in the same things, just with different ways of getting to the same desired result. I think it's good to be aware of all of them, but find what suites you best and study it to your fullest. For me, Stanislavski makes sense, because, again, he's pretty much the root of all the others and what I've already been loosely applying.

They told us upfront that the workshop was an audition! They also invited us to a monthly invite-only showcase of their company members tomorrow night. Yesterday I got a call from them saying they liked what I did at the workshop and hoped I'd consider joining the class. Did they call all twelve of us who attended the workshop Sunday afternoon? Probably.

I'm planning on going to the showcase to help make my final decision. The cost of their classes are reasonable and competitive, I just need to check around and see if I like the theory-based classes that are closer to my apartment.

If nothing else, the workshop lit a fire inside of me again about why I'm here! I know I have a lot of potential, but I'm still worlds away from being a really good actor. I could probably get by, playing small roles as the girl next door and hot chick, but that's not what I want. It's certianly not a great enough emotional and career pay-off considering I uprooted my life and that of the man who loves me.

Whether it's with this class, another, or on my own, I know I need to be doing much more than just casting director workshops. It doesn't matter what casting director sees me if I don't have the acting chops to deliver once they put me in front of producers and ultimately on a set!

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Worthless Workshop* and Celebrity Sightings!

Thanks goodness- I got a shift today, which means I do not have to pimp out my hands for clapping and face for smiling to the evil Howie Mandel! Although it would have been interesting to see what the taping process is like for Deal Or No Deal, I'm glad to miss that opportunity because, again, I've heard it's absolutely horrible!

Speaking of negative experiences, the Universal workshop last night was pretty deflating... I had my dates mixed up and last night's guest was an associate from a pretty big talent agency (the VP of Casting at ABC is next week). Her agency only represents guest stars and better, not developing talent, which we all are. Meaning being there wasn't bringing any use the opportunity to be signed, it was just meant to be informative.

Like any occupation, getting into it is a catch 22; you have to have experience to get a job, but you need a job to get the experience! You need to be SAG (the actors union) to get a really great agent and great roles, but you need a damn agent to get jobs that qualify you for SAG! She didn't have hugely helpful advice, which is fine because the reality of this business is that there's no *magic* formula, it is based a lot on *luck*. Gggrrr! The deflating part was just her general tone... Most of us already knew everything she said, sometimes it's just hard to hear it in such a blunt way.

To top it off, she went through all our headshots, held them up and critiqued them in front of everyone. We all wanted her to do that, but I think she was a tad harsher than we expected. Out of like twenty pictures, she only really like ONE!

She hated mine, saying "It doesn't look like a professional headshot. It looks like a pretty girl who wants to be an actress." "It was taken by a professional." I defended. "Yeah, well, wedding photographers are professional too, but that doesn't mean they're good." She quipped. (We all pathetically defended in one way or another, "My agent picked that pictures, I don't really like it..." "I have others..." "I just got new ones taken but don't have them yet.")

Don't get me wrong, she wasn't a huge bitch, she was actually pretty funny. Her candor, or tough love, was appreciated, but still a little hard to swallow and damn depressing. *I don't really think it was worthless, that's just the best alliteration I could come up with for the title...

In other news, I finally saw some famous people on the lot! It happened so quickly I didn't even have time to tell my guests. Both Dana Delany and Ricardo Chavira of Desperate Housewives drove by in production vans. I just caught a glimpse of them through the windows. After we passed the Wisteria Lane area (which was closed today because they were filming) my driver said, "Did you see the brunette actress walking down the road on her cell phone?" "NO! Which one was it?" He didn't know! What an ass for not yelling at me when he first saw her; unlike a moving van, a person walking is slow enough to point out to the tram passengers. Since the tour guides sit facing the guests with our back to the trams windshield, we tend to miss things... I'm surprised none of my guests saw her. If they did, they didn't make much noise and didn't tell me at the unload area. The guide in the tram right behind me said it was Terri Hatcher and she did look up and wave to his passengers!

Ah well... I just have to stay satisfied with the biggest star I have met at Universal - our tour guide manager, Ben Salisbury. He played Brighton, the son on The Nanny!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This week...

Sunday: Work at Universal, aka, Tramming... sounds dirty, huh?!

Monday: A Non Union Feature Film audition and a Universal Workshop with a casting director I'd previously met in my other class... That's good because maybe now I'm in her head, but it also would have been nice to meet someone new.

Tuesday: Groceries, laundry and my usual casting workshop, at which I had one of the most awkward cold reads ever! The casting director works on Everybody Hates Chris, among other things, so I was expecting comedy, but I first got a break-up scene. It went well; not the best work for either the guy I was paired with or I, but okay. Then, because a classmate didn't show up, I was paired with a second scene partner. "Great!" I thought, "this gives me an opportunity to show her something else, and hopefully this script will be comedy."

Okay, first let me describe my second scene partner; he's the oldest person in the class, maybe 50 or 60, with a slow, grandpa-esq vibe. I don't know if acting class is a hobby for him or what; I know this sounds mean, but he just plain sucks! I've never seen him do prepared work, so perhaps he's just bad at cold reads. He always sounds like he's reading, he never delivers the line in a natural way. He also "indicates," which is an acting term for obvious, unnatural, novice gestures.

Of course, we were supposed to be a couple. Awkward! He's my dad's age! On top of that, in the first few lines the female was trying to avoid going into the bedroom to get it on. REALLY AWKWARD! Then he gets all mad because it's their wedding night and come to find out she's not a virgin... She's not a virgin because she was raped by her step father when she was eight. Wow!

It was a scene from the movie Beyond the Sea with Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth portraying the real life story of singers Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee.

The worst part was at the beginning of the scene our classmates laughed at my scene partner, they thought his delivery and the basic idea of us together was funny, especially the way he said the line, "You're not a virgin?!" They stopped after I said the line, "He was my stepfather. I was only eight." Laughter turned to awkward, awkward silence.

It was one of those moments that makes you thing, "Well if I can get through that...!"

Today: My agent called at 3 p.m. requesting I get to an audition by 6 p.m. I saw the call, but my phone honestly didn't register that voice mail (or three others) until late in the evening. I don't know what the audition was for, but I was at work until 7 anyway. Oh well.

After work I could've gone to a nearby bar to hang out with my coworkers and watch them put on a talent show of sorts. (I guess it's a typical hangout for them, it happens to have a stage which they took over because it's not busy on Wednesdays.) However, after an emotional phone call I just didn't feel like drying my hair, putting on makeup and socializing.

After two months with a for-sale-by-owner sign in the front yard, my beau listed our house with a realtor. The realtors partner, who supposedly specialized in staging came through to give her two cents on how things should be rearranged before they come to take interior pictures. I used to watch all the home selling shows on HGTV, so I know how it goes; she didn't give any major adjustments that surprised us and she reiterated some things I've been saying. However, I think it's a natural reaction to be defensive in this situation and I think a few of her critiques are just plain stupid! It made me wonder, "What the hell does she do when she walks into a house that IS cluttered and tacky?"

For example, I have a classy floating shelf in our master bathroom with three objects of descending size on it. (If you know anything about decorating, you know the rule of threes!) Anyway, she said to only have one thing on the shelf. I KNOW only one thing would look lonely, pathetic and odd. It's not clutter, nor is it a personal type item that would make someone think "there must not be enough storage in the cabinet." Not the mention the fact that it's NOT going to sway a buyer one way or the other - it's a fucking shelf clock and candle! However, she did not notice that the chandelier's cord and chains over our piano in what used to be a dining room is ill-measured, tacky and in desperate need of one of those velvet chandelier cord scrunchies. Yeah, she specializes in staging my ass...!


Never mind who she was or what she said, the hard part is the reality that we're giving up something we worked really hard to make our own. We may not have kids yet, but we still have a lot of memories in that house and a lot of valued possessions that we have to pack up and put in storage. I'm living the life I chose for myself in a very difficult profession, one I always knew I would pursue. My manfriend* on the other hand, is giving up a comfortable lifestyle he worked is ass off for to be with me, in a place where we can't be home owners anytime soon. As I told him on the phone, "I'd live with you in a cardboard both as long as we were together." But I can't help but feel guilt because of his sacrifices. I just want our lives back to normal but in comparison to all our space and comforts in Ohio, it's going to be a long time before that can be a reality.

Thursday: Tramming. I'll have only a half hour to get the nasty stench of tour guide off of me before attending a Universal Workshop where the guest will be the Vice President of Casting for ABC!!! How amazing is that?! She used to be a tour guide.

Friday: If I can pick up a shift at Universal, I'll take it, otherwise I'll drive to Culver City to be paid audience for Deal or No Deal, shaking my head and rolling my eyes at myself the whole time. I've heard it's the absolute worst show taping to sit through. It's $64 for 8 hours, but they anticipate 10. 10 hours of case opening madness! After 8 hours it becomes time and a half, and anything beyond that becomes double time. Seriously, if it were to take more than 10 hours those damn models would surely start poking Howie's eyes out with their stilletos!

Saturday: I could go to a group audition for a play paying "homage to THE TWILIGHT ZONE," but I don't know anything about that show and while the plays run of four Wednesday nights would be okay, it rehearses on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, which is terribly inconvenient. So, like Friday, if I can pick up a Universal shift, I'd take it instead.

* Note, if you understood the term "manfriend," that must mean you've seen the Sex and the City movie! That's what Carrie calls Big when they discuss the fact that "boyfriend" just does not do justice to their relationship. Boyfriend carries a certain level of immaturity and instability. Not getting married is a choice we've made and one of the negatives of that is not quite having the right term for one another. "Partner" and "significant other" just don't sound right either. "Beau" works for me when I'm writing, but I don't say it; I think it would confuse people. "What? Are you talking about ribbon now???"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Working my ass off!... for lack of a better title.

I have worked at Universal ten of the past twelve days. Again, I know to some of you that's no big deal, but for the past couple years I have been a freelance speaker and entertainer, so putting in a conventional 40 hour work week is something my body is not used to!

Unfortunately, the summer season is winding down, so it's time for me to start looking for yet another job to supplement the impending lack of Tour Guide shifts.

For today though, I'll be focusing on an audition for a non-union feature film. I submitted for a character described as "21, rare combo of beauty, book and street smarts; a fighter." However, they've called me into read for "25, hot Latina--but resentful, angry, with a lot of edge. Must speak fluent Spanish." Right... No abla Espanole!!! Is this the Catherine Zeta Jones effect? Dark hair and eyes equals Latina? (Although she's from Whales, she played a Latina in Zorro.)

My beau said, "maybe you should let them know you don't speak Spanish so you don't waste the trip..." Nope! One thing I've learned is that if you have the opportunity to get in front of a casting director in this town, you take it! They called me in - they're going to see me! Who knows what they may think I'm right for in this, or other productions...

Speaking of getting in front of casting directors, tonight and Thursday I will attend free workshops hosted by Universal, as well as my normal acting class/casting workshop on Tuesday.

I should get some sleep, but I'm too distracting trying to decide if I should wear my big hoop earrings tomorrow, or is that too stereotypically Latina? :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Border Governors Convention Continued... I didn't see The Governator, but I did get close to a big screen legend!

Again, I worked a shift as an STA (Studio Tour Assistant) yesterday for a special event hosted by Governor Schwarzenegger.

I clocked into work at 4 p.m. and didn't do a damn thing until 6:30 p.m., when they transported us to our stations. I was with two other young women at the City Walk pick-up point.

[City Walk is sort of like an outdoor mall right off the theme parks entrance, except it's full of stores that I can't believe stay open... It has Lush, a soap store, as well as a store full of nothing but socks and a giant candy store! There's a Guess? accessories store, a Billabong, Sketchers shoes store, Hot Topic and a couple obnoxious Hollywood souvenir shops. The restaurants include a Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Tony Romas. There's also a movie theatre, a sky diving simulator and it's all complete visual over stimulation!

I recently wrote on the annual employee satisfaction survey that having to walk from the parking garage through City Walk to get to the employee gate is the worst part of my job! It's always god-awful congested with tourist aimlessly wandering. I understand that those tourist pretty much write my paycheck, but I swear, my legs are bruised from all the seemingly parentless children that change course in a split second and bounce right off of you and my stomach gets nauseated from the overwhelming stench of sunscreen! This will sound awful, but the demographic does not look to me like they could afford any of those stores or overpriced restaurants. I kind of feel like I'm on a busy midway of a county fair and I can not fathom why people are there.]

Anyway, some of the conference goers were at two different receptions at halls inside the theme park. When they emerged in smaller groups they hopped in vans or small buses to get down to the back lot gala. Only twice was there a surge of people that utilized our four-car tour trams, meaning I stood around for about two hours and closed only two tram doors.

I have to admit, it was an odd feeling for me; I'm used to being on the other side. For the past two years my partner and I have attended similar upscale conventions for his company, one in Las Vegas and a few months ago in San Diego. I'm normally the woman in the fancy party dress and high heels, with a glass of wine in hand enjoying the free food, as opposed to the insignificant hourly employee in the horrible uniform. Unlike events I've attended, these folks were all scanned with hand-held metal detectors and all purses were inspected before they boarded a vehicle to go to the gala!

Once all the guests were at the gala, we were on an hour meal break. A co-worker who was lucky enough to be stationed on the back lot to open the doors said Damian Lewis, the star of NBCs crime drama LIFE and another actor whose name he couldn't remember rolled up on a golf cart and took pictures on the events "green carpet."

"Why the hell were actors at a conference about border relations?" I asked. We're still not sure... My co-worker also saw NBC's president and Mexican dignitary types who he didn't know, but not The Governator.

Around 10 p.m. we all loaded into a van and headed down to the back lot to load the now even more drunk government/corporate officials and spouses. Our tour guide dispatch/break room building overlooks the back lot and San Fernando Valley and it was an absolutely gorgeous view of the city lit up below us. On the way down we took a road that is not part of the tour and that I've never been on - we went right past a camp of 8 to 10 trailers belonging to the actors of Desperate Housewives! We were dropped off on the side Sound Stage 50 which houses our Earthquake animation, a pretty boring part of our back lot. Nonetheless, I was in awe! Even though I drive through the lot giving tours all the time, standing on the lot is still overwhelming. Plus, it was cool and creepy to be there at night! The nearby western sets looked especially spooky in the dark!

We stood around chatting while loud dance music and yellow and purple lighting poured out of the nearby Little Europe/Square of Warriors sets. As anticipated, the party goers left in even, small groups in the vans and small shuttles. The trams, drivers, STA's and bilingual guides waiting nearby were never used. Around midnight we loaded back up and left.

On the way back to up to clock out, our van driver went off road and onto the dock of the Jaws animation to give us a closer look at Bruce, the mechanical shark. Each night he's lifted out of the water, which was pretty damn cool to see:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Getting paid to blog!

Kind of...

I'm at work blogging from my phone, which is actually a one-fingered pain in the ass, but still awesome that I have this ability!

So if you were "The Governator" where would you host a conference of all the US and Mexican governors whose states are on the boarder? At a movie studio, of course!

I agreed to work an extra shift from 4 to midnight as an "STA" for this special event. That stands for "studio tour assistant" and means I'll be opening and closing tram doors as we transport hundreds of conference-goers from their hotels to our back lot for a gala. That's right- our back lot! They'll be throwing a party at The Square of Warriors (where Sparticus, The Scorpian King and Pricess Diaries II all filmed scenes) as well as Little Europe (which has a filmography a mile long).

It gets under way at 7, so we've just been sitting arond... I'm told we'll likely get out early, but still be paid for 8 hours!

I love working here!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Work... Olympics... Acting Class... Work... Olympics... Work... Olympics...

I am so thankful to actually be getting a lot of shifts at Universal since getting back in LA. I worked this past Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and will work today, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday! I know for those of you with set schedules that's no big deal, but it's exciting for me since I'm low on seniority and had not been getting enough hours. Not to mention the fact that it's keeping me busy and pulled me out of the funk I was quickly settling back into after being reminded how wonderful home is.

I've also been really inspired by the Olympics. I am not at all a patriotic person, in fact an overabundance of patriotism usually annoys the shit out of me and is quite frankly frightening. Nor am I a die hard fan of any given sports team. But, there's something undeniable about the Olympics. More about that later... It's too great of an emotion to put into words right now. A simpler great thing about the Olympics is that it's something we all agree on in the Tour Guide break room! I watch it at work, then coming home to watch it makes me feel like less of a loser. I'm not out doing something fun and exciting because I'm in my apartment watching the Olympics! A perfectly acceptable excuse for lacking social interaction! :)

Tonight, however, I was at two acting classes until 10:30 p.m.ish. First I had my normal acting class that I've attended for a few months now. I did my scene first then left early to go to a free casting director workshop at Universal. It was great! For the cold read my scene partner and I were perfectly cast with a fantastic and funny script, in which I used an accent and even got to sing!

Then I came back to my place to catch mens gymnastics and some swimming!

Anyway... I have an 8:30 a.m. shift, so I don't know why I'm blogging....

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Damn Dancing!!!

By doing a monologue from Sex and the City as the character Charlotte I advanced to the dancing round yesterday afternoon at the audition for a pop culture parody show for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights.

I changed into black pants and a white jacket to look like Agent 99 from Get Smart for the dancing audition. I danced my ass off, but despite my best efforts, I was not lucky on 8.8.08! I was cut after the dancing round. I'm kind of pissed because the dancing seemed to become more important than how much you looked like the character or how well you could act like them. I especially find it to be bull shit because they're auditioning dancers separately- just to dance!
Why can't actors just act?

Anyway, I just watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics - WOW!

I'm working in 90+ degree heat the next two days, so I need to get some sleep...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Help! Have you seen Get Smart???

Today I got back on the horse, or tram, in this case and worked at Universal. Despite not giving the tour in over two weeks, I was surprisingly not nervous about stalling or being evaluated. That's due mostly in part to the massive amount of "quiet zones" we had, meaning areas in which the guide can't talk on mic because it would disturb nearby filming. Ghost Whisperer, Desperate Housewives and New York Film Academy students were all using parts of the back lot.

By the end of the day one of the productions, Ghost Whisperer, I believe, was stopping trams for for five to ten minutes at a time, causing major back-ups. My last tour was stalled for quite a while at three separate points; I felt bad for the guests because I couldn't entertain them with stall material or play the audio on the video clips. On the other hand, it was a huge relief that it was a quite zone because I don't know how the hell I would have filled that much time. I did run back and forth to talk to cars two, three and four in person, which is much easier than fluidly filling time on mic.

My last tour took an hour and fifteen minutes (they're normally forty-five), and we didn't even complete it! We were two-thirds done and were past all the productions and quiet zones, but since the people had been on the tram over an hour, management routed us directly back to the unloading line. It was a decision I did not agree with. We'd already endured the hold-ups, why not go through the good, uninterrupted parts? I was livid for my guests, but surprisingly no one complained to me about missing Jaws, Whoville, the Psycho House, War of the Worlds AND the freaking Mummie's tomb. My last tour pushed me into over-time; after being off, giving four tours today has left me extremely exhausted.

But anyway, the point of this was that at work today I found out about an audition for Universal's Halloween show. Like most theme parks, Universal does a whole scary, not-kid-friendly, evening Halloween thing with haunted tours and whatnot... Part of it is a pop culture parody show. I'll be auditioning to play Kristen Davis, as seen in Sex and the City as Charlotte York and Ann Hathaway, as seen in Get Smart as Agent 99.

I know I resemble both of them and putting the wardrobes together are easy enough, but I don't know what to do for the one minute monologue for Agent 99. I haven't seen the movie or TV show and in the clips I've found on line Agent 99 has limited dialogue.

Here's the biggest problem - the audition is at noon TODAY!

Angelina Jolie, ala Wanted is also on the character list, but there again, I haven't seen the movie yet, so I wouldn't know what to do past replicating the wardrobe and drawing on some tattoos! LOL!

So, if you have any ideas about speaking and being like Agent 99, please leave a comment!

Thanks!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Worse than I imagined!

Coming back to LA after two weeks home was far more difficult than the sadness of taking my significant other to the airport at the end of his visits.

I really can not manage to pull myself out of bed; I would if I had to, but I don’t. It’s so frustrating… While I was visiting home I missed the callback to co-host the PBS kids show, a direct request to audition for a film from a casting director I met in acting class, two free acting classes, unpaid extra work in a feature film and five work shifts!

You can say "meant to be/ not meant to be" about the acting stuff, so it’s actually the work shifts that I’m most upset about. Universal Tour Guides are part of a union, meaning we’re scheduled based on seniority. When you’re not scheduled you can call in and pick up a shift via a random drawing of everyone who calls in… I get lucky and pick up extra shifts about a third of the times I try; last week they were so busy, they were calling me! Unbelievable!

Like I said in a previous post, it’s Murphy’s Law! I’m trying to stay positive, but when I look at the list of things above that I missed over the past two weeks and my empty schedule this week, I can’t help but feel like the odds are against me.

I also can’t help but feel emptiness in and hatred for my LA apartment. While I try not to be materialistic, it’s more than that... Being home reminded me that my life in LA seems like a domestic step backward. I feel like I’m in college again – sharing a small apartment, having my desk and virtually all my possessions in my small bedroom, storing my socks and undies in plastic drawers instead of a real dresser, with bedding and d├ęcor that is my girly personal style, as opposed to the more neutral, refined, shared style my man and I created in our home.

I need to realize that apartment living is not “college living,” rather, it’s “city living.” But having grown up in a big farm house, then living in a suburban, soccer mom paradise for the past four years, I don’t have anything else with which to associate this. I go back and forth – trying to remind myself it’s only temporary, then wanting to do things to improve it… but improvement and comforts cost money… which would be fine for someone starting on their own, but I have a whole house full of things that will eventually be here, making it stupid for me to buy duplicates…

I guess the bottom line is that being home reminded me how different and crappy my life is in LA, compared to the companionship and comforts I have in Ohio.

Here’s a post about my apartment that I wrote on back in May or June; I didn’t publish it, in attempts to stay positive, but today that’s a lost cause…

My New Apartment

With both time and money limitations, my roommate and I couldn’t be too picky when it came to our new apartment. We are grateful to have found a place in our budget that has our top priorities: gated entry, second floor, gated and covered parking, central air conditioning, desirable location, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

However, once I finished moving in last Monday, I realized it’s a little rough around the edges. Mind you, I am NOT complaining. If I wanted a cushy life, I would have stayed in Ohio. I’m here to work and I know this place really is great in many, many ways. For memories sake though, I have to record the facts… I’ll phrase them in positive ways just for fun!

My shower head/stall makes me feel really tall!

The kitchen window faces north, which is great because I like to have my African violet in the kitchen and its purple blooms compliment the... interesting... mauve countertops!

Letting my roommate have the master bedroom with fabulous walk in closet and attached bathroom makes me feel like a kind and giving person.

Sliding vertical blinds in all the windows are nifty, especially in my bedroom!

There’s not an outgoing mail slot, which is awesome because I’ll get exercise walking to a mailbox or post office!

I’m glad there’s absolutely no lighting in my bedroom, shopping for lamps was fun, I totally had the time and extra money to do that!

I like that the A/C vents into our bedrooms don't work so well, making them 10* hotter than the living room, it's like a free sauna!

It's fantastic being right above the crazy apartment manager, I feel so safe... and quiet!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The longest day ever...

Today I've walked through three time zones, but the following is all converted to LA time...

1 a.m. - I left my beautiful Toledo home for the Detroit airport.

3:40 a.m. - My plane was supposed to take off.

4:25 a.m. - My plane actually took off.

A couple hours later - With only 30 minutes to change planes in Denver, I not only made it, I also signed up for an airline credit card with which I get a "free" round-trip flight! There's actually a $50 fee, but hell yeah! GREAT DEAL!

10 a.m. - A couple more hours and a screaming brat later, we landed on schedule at LAX.

10:20 a.m. - I finally exited the plane; before baggage claim - Starbucks!

11:20 a.m. - After a half hour wait, I was on the $4 Flyaway shuttle to the Van Nuys station.

12:30 p.m. - After a $25 / 8 mile cab ride I was back in my apartment, but not for long...

1 p.m. - I rushed to keep a dreaded annual medical appointment schedule two months ago.

1:50 p.m. - I FINALLY got into an exam room.

2:45 p.m. - At the apartment again I quickly ate, showered, printed and filled out a 20 page contract and got things together for acting class.

4:45 p.m. - I dropped off the contract to the Gameshow Network office in Burbank... aka - I was asked to take the next step in becoming a Bingo America contestant.

5:15 p.m. - I arrived in Hollywood to rehearse with my scene partner before class; he wasn't on time so I fell asleep on a couch/set piece.

6 p.m. - now (9:30 p.m.) - Acting class... I'm currently being a bad student/peer and blogging from my iPhone. :)

Not soon enough - Food and sleep.
iPhone blogging from Denver...

My flight from Detroit left 40 minutes late, now I'm near a screaming two year old.

Lovely.

Friday, August 1, 2008

As promised, I have a hell of a story about getting to the airport to fly home… I’ll share it, but I really don’t want any comments lecturing me about how stupid I was!

I had a ticket for Monday July 21, but moved it up to Sunday to surprise my boyfriend…

I live about 15 miles from LAX (or 30 to 90 minutes. LOL!) Of course, parking at the airport is horribly expensive and I didn’t want to leave my car there for over a week. With my flight leaving at 9:15 a.m., that meant asking someone to get up pretty early, but I was able to secure a lift to the airport… for Monday.

When I decided at 3 a.m. Saturday to move my flight up, I knew I was running a big risk, but I decided it was worth it. I was on pins and needles all day Saturday waiting to hear if my original ride could take me Sunday instead; at 5 p.m. I found out they could not. I had already priced a cab and looked at the bus routes; yes, I know more than one person in LA, but I can’t tell you how much I hate asking people for things! Especially on such late notice, and airport transport is almost as bad as helping someone move – no one wants to do it! With cab fares nearly as bad as parking at the airport, I resigned myself to the fact I’d have to take the bus.

No big deal… people use the bus everyday. I’ve been meaning to figure out how to use the public transit system, but hadn’t forced myself to do it. I knew it had to be easy, but I felt so stupid! Do I have to get a ticket? Can I pay the driver? How do I know which bus goes where? I’d heard horror stories – that the buses are unreliable, the people are scary and that your trip takes three-times longer…

I had visited the official LA public transit website several times but still didn’t feel confident in the logistics. The bus schedules and maps are difficult to read; fortunately they have a trip planner in which you just enter your destination and it tells you where to go. Although there’s a bus stop right in front of my apartment, I’d have to walk three-fourths of a mile to another one to catch a 5:45 a.m. bus. It would take me three miles east to the hub at Universal Studios where I’d have to find the Red Line to go to the Flyaway terminal in Van Nyce, which is several miles west of both Universal, my apartment and the first bus stop. From Van Nyce I’d take the third bus south, directly to LAX, arriving an hour and a half later at 7:15 a.m. and costing a total of $6.50.

I “pulled an all-nighter” packing, the entire time mulling over the reality of my situation. At six in the morning, the bus should be safe, right? But I’ll be a single white female with a large suitcase and matching carry-on, a clear target of vulnerability with a high likelihood of valuable possessions. Indeed, I’d be carrying a laptop, digital camera, yet to be activated iPhone and two Coach purses! What if I missed one of my connections? What if I missed my flight?! Was I seriously going to roll my big-ass suitcase nearly a mile down the street at 5 in the morning?

Yes, yes I was, and I was damn proud of myself! Why not take the bus?! I’d be saving myself money, saving someone else gas, saving the environment emissions (maybe), I wouldn’t owe anyone for taking me and most of all, I’d prove to myself I could do it! At one point I just told myself to just shut the fuck up! It’s public transportation, it’s there for people to use! It can’t be that hard! It’s a bus, not a subway, which seems like it should be safer… But then as the five o’clock hour drew closer, I was once again overwhelmed by the fear. No matter how I acted or dressed, being alone and carrying luggage put a target on my back.

But what could I do!? I left my apartment at 5:15 a.m. I had hoped it would be light out, but it was not. As I walked by the bus stop in front of my apartment, with the wheels of my suitcase making a racket on the sidewalk past all the apartment buildings, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Not only was it odd as a small town Ohioan, but also as an LA resident. People in LA do not walk. Anywhere.

When I reached the main road a problem I had anticipated came to fruition. The bus stop was not where it had looked to be on the map, but there were stops on the other three side of the damn intersection. Great! How was I to know which one was right? I wheeled past the 24 hour diner at on the corner and asked the only other person waiting; he pointed me to the stop in the opposite direction. As I wheeled back past the restaurant a group of diners on the patio called out to me. “Do you need… help?” I told them which stop I was looking for and they whipped out their phones to use their GPS… They asked where I was going and then they explained that the Flyaway hub was the opposite direction and only sends buses from Van Nyce to LAX and back, every 15 minutes. “You mean I’m going to Universal, to then go all the way back to Van Nyce?” (I know I explained that above, but had not realized it until they told me.)

“Let us finish our breakfast and we can drop you off in Van Nyce.”

I know this sounds like a bad idea, I in that moment I knew there was no way I was turning them down! Of course I asked, “Are you serious? You would do that?”

Before you start freaking and writing long comments about my safety, hear me out… In addition to just being a damn good deal, two things made me immediately say yes. #1. There’s strength in numbers. They were three twenty-something females and two guys. This sort of offer from a singer person, or even a couple would have seemed odd, but these were clearly a group of friends who trusted one another and were accountable for one another. #2. I immediately got a good vibe. I know, I know, con artists specialize in creating a false sense of security, but I believe that 9 times out of 10 we can trust our intuition about people. Their helpfulness was genuine.

They said, “We’ve already helped one girl in need tonight, we have to help you…”

I joined them and ordered a cup of coffee. As it turns out, they all knew each other from AA meetings. That night they had gone to a rave-type event at the Santa Monica Pier. They said it had strangely turned out to be a non-event; there was no live music, no… anything, yet 25 thousand people had shown up, of course many of them were on one substance or another. They noticed a young woman passed out on the beach. Before long she drew a crowd of people making jokes and taking pictures. The women I met tried to wake her and when they realized the severity of the situation, the guys went to find a cop. When she did come to, they said she literally shot up and ran away like a scared wild animal. Ironically they ran into her again, she was clearly tripping on something hard and her friends had left her. The women insisted on helping her and though she didn’t make it easy, they eventually got her to tell them where she lived and took her home. She called them her “crack angels,” thus indicating one of the substances she may have been on!

Among the group, there were varying levels of familiarity; one of the guys realized it was his thirtieth day of sobriety and one of the women got him a “thirty day chip” from her car. He was so overwhelmed by what the women had done for the girl on the beach, he kept calling them heroes, picked up the tab for breakfast and had the waiter bring them chocolate cake…

One of the women who said she was a preschool teacher had purple hair, the thirty-day guy looked like Dave Navarro and another woman chattered away about everything from incorporating a new AA member more, to an accidental bank overdrafts and wondering how she’d pay her rent in a few days… They were real people supporting one another and offering me genuine help out of the goodness of their hearts.

Sure, getting in a car with a total stranger is never ever a good idea, but I’ve learned you just have to trust your gut! I immediately trusted these perfect strangers much more then the LA transit system and my ability to navigate it!

So instead of an hour and a half and three buses, I had coffee, met interesting people and took a 10 minute car ride, then a 15 minute bus ride straight to the airport…

I figured my boyfriend and another good friend would kill me when they heard what I had done, but they both said at least I got to know them, and had plenty of time to get out of the situation if it had turned odd. Also in my defense, if anything would have happened, one other Ohio friend knew my plan of taking the bus.