Sunday, May 31, 2009

A very strange night out

With this post I'm doing two things:

First, sharing some things that many of you will not like. I think I've written that before, but this time I'm confident that disapproval will be vast. Nonetheless, this is reality! Second, this will solidify that my new roommates will never learn of this blog.

I think my new roommates are great and I feel much more alive in my new locale thanks to all that's in walking distance. For the sake of this blog, let's call them roommate #1 and #2. Although #2 is who I communicated with during the process of getting this place and who I share a bathroom with, he's always at work or with his boyfriend so I barely see him. #1 and I are becoming fast friends; I got him an audition for the musical festival and he's taken me hiking in the Hollywood hills.

This weekend #1 has his closest hetero male friend in town for a visit. He got here this afternoon and they invited me to hang out with them at the nearby park. They chatted about old friends and I tried to get a tan. Back at our apartment #1 cooked a fantastic supper for the three of us prior to going clubbing. At first, of course, the friend and I exchanged pleasantries. Then he asked #1 if he could call #2 "fag." WHAT? They kind of joked and I said, "well, if the f-word is fair game, then I'm going to start asking for wardrobe advise... I didn't realize it was cool like that..." Later during supper their friendship baffled me more. He also uses the words homo and "so gay;" we discussed racism, sexism and stereotypes.

On one hand it's great to have discussions like that. On the other hand, this friend was totally crossing the line, in my opinion. He says homosexuality doesn't bother him, that his band plays at a gay club twice a week and that he loves #1 (as a friend). But he also said he knows he's a little bit racist and sexist; even #1 agreed with him, saying "all stereotypes come from somewhere." I found myself reminding my roommate, "you're a minority too, so you have to know that you can't believe every stereotype 100%." To that he replied, "I'm not a minority, I'm a white male." "YOU'RE GAY!" I said.

There's a very thin line between proactively using humor to point out the ridiculousness of stereotypes and using humor to excuse your belief in stereotypes. Although our supper conversation never got heated and nor did it make me dislike either one of them, I felt like they thought they were doing the first, but to me they were actually participating in the later. I used to have black friends with whom inappropriately race jokes were made but everyone involved knew the comedic intent and parameters; tonight felt different. I think the friend actually thinks the words he used are alright to use all the time and #1 tolerates it for some reason.

Anyway, long before supper was prepared, we figured out the logistics of the evening. Though I do enjoy the effects of alcohol, I am ingrained with the anit-substance abuse lessons of my youth and have no tolerance for substance use and driving. We agreed that since #1 likes to drink wine while he cooks that he would "pre-game" and I would drive his car over the hill to West Hollywood where he would not consume anything, but I would. The estimated time spent at the clubs would be more than enough to render him capable of driving us back.

On the drive to West Hollywood, where all the trendy gay clubs are, they smoked a bowl. Or is it bull? It sounds like bull when people say it, but I think it's "a bowl" when it's out of the small glass thing. I've only been around weed a half dozen times in my life, so I'm familiar, but not well versed. I know some of you are gasping. How could I allow myself to be in a vehicle where illegal activity was going on?! The thing is, I was raised in a sheltered rural community, to believe that marijuana was something that only ethnic gang-bangers did in scary urban centers. I've come to learn that could not be farther from the truth. I now know people from every walk of life who have or do smoke pot. Period. Reality. To some, it can definitely lead their lives a stray and to others it seems to be no different than a nicotine fix. At my new sales job there are a handful of guys who are openly pot heads. Lucky for them, there's no drug testing and somehow they still sell there asses off.

I'm not saying I condone smoking weed; I don't entirely understand it and I don't have an addictive personality, so it's presence is of no consequence to me. I rarely drink alcohol due to its expense and calorie count, so my talking about weed is of absolutely no concern... What I am saying is that I've come to recognize that it's a reality in life and much different and less horrible than it was initially presented to me in my youth. While I had a couple friends who smoked in college, it is only now becoming something that I encounter more frequently. Is it irony that I now have a roommate that smokes and coworkers who aren't guarded about it? Or is it a California thing? I have no idea...

Anyway, I have witnessed fully functional, yet stoned individuals, including roommate #1. This evening, however, was different. Once we parked the car and headed to the clubs, he and his friend were clearly unsober. Thankfully, we were in West Hollywood. There were gay men as far as the eye could see, with the occasional lesbian and hag, like me, so I at no point felt unsafe. The company of #1 and his friend was no longer enjoyable though. The first club we waited in line for wouldn't let us in, telling my roommates, "you look like you've had enough, you'd be a liability."

We kept texting roommate #2, who claims he's always out in WeHo on the weekends, but he never responded. So, I was stuck with super high roommate #1 and his hetero friend who kept saying, "look at all the gay dudes... but I'm okay with it..." Sometimes drunk or high people can be fun but this had crossed to the embarrassing.

Prior to having a drink myself, I was waiting to see my roommate begin to sober. It was a sight that never came. Rather, he was ready to go home surprisingly soon. The friend, who wasn't as affected, and I pressed on to a dance club. For a while it was fun; I hadn't been dancing in a long time. A go-go dancer up on a platform looked like Brittney Spears and the music was good. Then #1 dismissed himself to the bathroom and never came back. By this time the friend was getting drunk, so I insisted he and I find #1. I received a text from him that he was around the corner at a coffee shop. What the fuck?

Although the club right next door is literally called my name, we didn't make it there. We retrieved #1 from the coffee shop and headed back to the car. I, obviously, drove back to the Valley. #1 seemed to be back to normal on the way home while his friend passed out in the back seat.

Did I have fun tonight? No, not really. It was strange. I don't need to drink to have a good time, but it is a let down when your night out turns into a baby sitting trip. I don't mind that I was able to give two friends a safe night out, but I question if they had much fun either. I understand drunkness and drunk people, but I'm still trying to figure stoners out.

The strangest part happened between the two of them at the coffee shop and back at our apartment; they had rather rough exchanges. They'd share a pissy look and say "fuck you dude, seriously..." I had no idea where it came from. It was so random! Was it the pot or had I missed something? Back at our apartment the friend even said, "I hate this guy." I joked, "you have mood swings, two hours ago you loved him." I wish I could transcribe the specific lines, but I don't remember. I'm now on my second glass of very deserved wine. Much like the supper conversation, it was littered with inappropriate words and half jokes, half truths. At one point the friend remarked, "why did you invite me out here?" I quickly said, "good night guys, I'm going to bed." Just as quickly #1 said "____ sandwich" (insert my name) and they did a joking Night at the Roxberry thing from that popular old Saturday Night Live sketch.

It was all SO weird. Are they mad at each other? How can you call someone your close friend when they use derogatory terms about who you are? And moreover, will they remember any of it tomorrow...? Unfortunately, I will.

Friday, May 29, 2009

'Sweeney Tidd' - The Mini Musical that won't Die!

Luckily, the short musical Sweeney Tidd is not so easily met with demise as those who sit in the chair of the original Sweeney Todd!

The writers of this show offered me the female lead; I auditioned for the director last weekend, only to learn he had to quit and the writers didn't think they could pull it off on their own. Now one of the co-owners/directors of the theatre will be running the rehearsals; he is the same gentleman who called me into audition for last years roles with this musical festival and recently helped me move!

No worries, my character will not be singing about the worst meat pies in NoHo, rather she is in love with the church choir director who she assists. I haven't read the whole script yet, so I don't really understand the name, other than a correlation with the shunned and mentally unstable lead male.

The festival opens June 19th and thought it's only a ten to fifteen minute musical, I do hope I get a script and music soon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Never mind the mini musicals...

This morning I found out that I won't be in the short musical festival this year. I was glad to hear the role of the 40 year old went to someone else, as I thought it was silly they even asked me to audition. I am bummed that the other musical, for which the writers directly offered me a role, has been canceled. The director had to quit, due to his day job and the writers don't feel they can commit enough time and money to do it on their own.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I am officially an "Excellent" tour guide

Yesterday I picked up a shift at Universal; it was nice to get back to an enjoyable job, but throat was killing me after only my first tour. Right now we're outfitting all our trams with high-definition video monitors. They really do look great, but they're not fully functional; the HD trams only have ten, maybe fifteen, video clips and the clip numbers are different than we're used to. This means guides on HD trams have to talk substantially more and if you get stuck in a long stall, you're quiet frankly screwed! Half the trams yesterday were HD, but somehow I got very lucky and never had to use one. By the next time I work all the trams will be HD, thankfully they'll also have all one hundred and fifty clips; I'll just have to learn their new numbers.

It was only the second time I've worked at Universal since October or November. You may recall, my first shift back I was evaluated; my verbal feedback was good and yesterday I got my written evaluation. Overall I scored 93.5 out of 100. Of course, I would have preferred an "exceptional" rating of 96 to 99, for which I would have received five bucks at the employee cafeteria, but I am very happy to fall into the 92 to 95 "excellent" category. 86 to 91 is "very good" and anything less is unacceptable.

Specifically, I received 30 out of 30 for the personality category, which is comprised of energy, enthusiasm, warmth and smile. Content was my weakest section, getting 26 of 30 points. As I mentioned the day of the evaluation, I confused Andre the Giant for Lou Ferigno in one of our clips and mixed up the fictional communities of Fairview (Desperate Housewives) and Grandview (Ghost Whisperer). I also forgot we're required to state the production companies with a few titles that filmed on our lot. I don't think that's too bad under the circumstances. I received 23 out of 25 for delivery (entertainment value, pacing and timing, voice and diction, appearance and grooming and pre and post experience.) I only lost points on timing, which is also just a result of being a little rusty; it seems a little awkward, but you need to start talking about things before the first car gets to it, even though the third and fourth cars can't see it yet. Finally my media (mic and clip volume, on-camera presence and media selection and mastery) score was 14.5 out of 15.

Today I volunteered to work a morning shift at my sales job. Getting up at 6 a.m. was not as bad as I thought and thanks to the holiday the highway was wide open. The shift went very quickly and I got one deal, but as I feared, I got back to my apartment and fell asleep! I only got about four hours of sleep last night and my hour nap this afternoon turned into five! Oh well...

Hopefully I can still get to sleep tonight, as I agreed to go on a hike in the Hollywood Hills in the morning with a coworker before getting back to my normal 1 to 7 p.m. shift.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What a Day!

It's 9 p.m. on a Friday night in Los Angeles and I am sitting alone in bed, drinking coffee from my favorite mug; I have an outstanding parking spot right in front of my building and no intention of moving my car until work Monday morning! It's amazing how a parking spot can totally justify hermit-like behavior!

So... I unlocked my door and walked into my apartment, relieved that a horrible work week was finally over! But then I noticed a slip of paper on the floor outside my bedroom with a picture of a hot dog on it. Odd. Then there were two more small papers at my door and a breeze coming from my room. They were coupons that had blown off my desk. At this point I stood frozen in my bedroom door, staring at the balcony door which was wide open before me!

Do I rush out of the building? Is there a killer standing behind me? Should I call the police? Things darted through my mind as my eyes quickly processed the scene. My laptop and checkbook were still laying on my bed, exactly where I had left them. Nothing was moved or missing. I looked in my roommate's rooms and nothing appeared to be disturbed. Of course, I immediately called both my roommates; neither answered. Then I sent a text. The roommate who also has access to the balcony replied that it had not been his doing.

I thought back on my morning; I overslept and left my room a bit of a disaster, thus I am 100% sure I closed my bedroom door when I left for work. Also, the sliding vertical blinds over my balcony door had been opened, indicating someone had to have been on my bed to get to their cord. Ew!

I decided it was a roommate issue and not a security threat so I did not leave or call the cops. The balcony is only accessible through two of the bedrooms; I assumed the third roommate came through my room to get to the balcony. Of course I was pissed that he would come through my closed door instead of the other roommates open bedroom door. And beyond pissed that he would forget to close the balcony door!

Literally a moment ago the suspected roommate replied to the text from two hours ago, saying "Eek sorry. They did an inspection. sooooo sorry."

Now I am relieved that it was neither a criminal act nor roommate disrespect. It is definitely frustrating that he and the building management forgot to shut my balcony door though! That's ridiculously irresponsible on both their parts!


This was a really rough week at work. I believe it was two weeks ago we had free pizza one day for setting a new sale record and the top rep in the company received a $500 bonus check for doing fifteen deals a week for three weeks in a row! This week that rep only did seven or eight. The top reps on my shift, who normally do ten to twelve deals a week, only did six this week! We simply didn't have good leads to call. I once again found myself dialing people who had asked for a quote three weeks ago and had already been attempted thirty or forty times! Not surprisingly, I only have one deal to my name this week (I also got a "post-date" but it'll count for whatever week the credit card is actually run). Under the circumstances, I don't even feel bad about my poor performance.

I think I've mentioned before that the hourly wage is the same for 0 to 3 deals a week, then it jumps up $2 for your fourth deal and a dollar is added for every deal thereafter. So when you only have one deal on Friday, there's not much motivation! This may be a horribly attitude, but the likelihood of getting three deals today and making my effort monetarily worthwhile was slim to none. My first day on the job I got two deals, but it's been only one per day since then...

To make matters even worse, the managers have been a little edgy this week, for good reason. In our pre-shift meetings they've been harping on focus and saying they want energy and enthusiasm rather than folks playing poker on their cell phones and mine sweeper on their computers. I smile and nod but am internally rolling my eyes at this notion! I am an actor and have been a spokesperson; while some may find this disingenuous, my personality and customer service skills have become a finely tuned light switch. Trust me, I can go from being half asleep, checking my email on my phone to pitching a customer with all the focus and enthusiasm in the world in a split second! Eagerly staring at your computer screen, waiting for someone to pick up, only makes you want to strangle yourself with the cord of your headset!

I am not guilty of mine sweeper or poker, but rather stealthy texting and chatting with the woman I interviewed with and now sit beside. Lucky for them, the email and internet on my phone work too slowly in the building or I'd be online the whole time. Today I occupied the time by hand writing a blog post, to be typed in later. I'd give anything to be able to sit there and paint my nails! Everyone is amused that I bring silly putty to give my hands something to do!

The past two days I've been having serious issues with my phone. Customers would complain I was cutting in and out. It's hard enough to get someone on the line, I can not afford them not being able to hear me once I get a hold of them! Yesterday I hooked up a different phone and headset adapter. Today I found myself saying "hello" several times before they'd hear me. Most people hang up if they don't hear you soon enough, so who knows how many leads I lost. The people I actually spoke with complained they could barely hear me; I had to nearly swallow the mouth piece and scream at them. Finally I decided to take matters into my own hands and test it. I call my guy from a second line while my computer kept dialing on the first line. Like everyone else, he didn't hear my first few words, then he said I sounded faint and was going in-and-out.

Then, my computer screen picked up a call at the exact moment a manager walked up behind me. Fucking fantastic. I quickly picked up the other line and said hello fifteen times, but the person I was calling wasn't there or something. I turned to the manager saying, "my shit isn't working!" He joked that that could mean a lot of things. I clarified that they couldn't hear me, to which he snarked, "maybe because you're on the other line?" I explained what I had done and though this manager is really cool, he didn't seem to believe me. "I made a personal call to test it and he couldn't hear me either," I said. "If he couldn't hear you, how could he tell you he couldn't hear you?" asked the manager.

I found myself extremely defensive and frustrated! I can't stand looking bad when I haven't done anything wrong. In retrospect, I should have asked for my manager's cell number and done my test on him, but whatever... He listened to my headset and thought it was fine. My line was truly not working and I really didn't want him to think I had made an outside call only for personal reasons, so I persisted. I ended up changing cubicals, which kind of sucked because it took me away from my preferred area of the office. Nonetheless, I immediately got someone on the line at the new cubical and gave a pitch that required a take-over. I guess that made me feel like I'd redeemed myself somehow, or showed that I was willing to work (even though overall I didn't care). The same manager was unable to close the crotchety, old Floridian customer, so again, whatever...

After I decided my apartment hadn't been burgled, I sat down and opened my paycheck; I ended my shitty work week by finding that I have been under compensated. First of all, I made four deals last week, but I was paid the 0 to 3 deal rate. That $2 upgrade makes a huge difference, so I'm pissed! Next, one of my deals last week required me to stay forty minutes extra but that wasn't reflected either. I'm really hoping it's a mistake, but it's possible that one of my deals may have screwed me by doing a same-week-cancellation. I am left wondering how I've endured this absolutely horrid job for four weeks now!

But for now, I need to ignore my work-week reality and practice songs for an audition tomorrow afternoon. It's for the role that the writers offered me, pending the hiring of a director. I have no idea if the director is auditioning multiple women or just choosing to make me go through a formal audition even though the writers have already picked me. All I know is that my throat hurts, I'm out of vocal shape, but I need to pull together two contrasting pieces in the next fourteen hours!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Central Casting: finally registered!

First, my guy thought my last post sounded like I was excited for "the big one!" Of course not! Yesterday the Long Beach area had another medium one that made the news; I did not feel it either.

Next, I chatted with a good friend from Ohio; his amusement at some of my stories has motivated me to be a more diligent blogger! Hopefully I can get all of my back-logged tales in type over the coming week or so...

Finally, the point of this post is to say I finally registered with Central Casting Monday morning. They are the top agency to supply TV shows and movies with background artists. They are a calling service, meaning 95% of the work an actor can get is based on the actor calling a hotline daily to see if they fit the needed types.

Non-union actors can register on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Last week I had gone, but didn't get there as early as I'd like; I decided I'd rather go back another day than stand in the very slowly moving fifty-person line. I arrived at 10 a.m. Monday to find about fifteen people already there. However, most of them were sitting around the extremely large table filling out paperwork. (I had typed and printed all my forms from the website.) I knew where the line would start and sat there to wait.

You are instructed to come camera ready, with regard to your hair, makeup and attire. It's interesting to me to see how some people interpret that! Granted, extras need to look like "real people," but many of them didn't look like they knew they'd be photographed. There was really only one extreme case and she was pretty unbelievable!

Imagine, if you will, a bewildered woman clad in a skimpy black dress. It was a tight jersey material with lace around the hem and v-neck. With its spaghetti straps and lacking length, it seemed to perhaps be sleepwear. The dress was the least of her problems though; below it she was wearing bright read, wide, fishnet stockings! You guessed it, at the bottom of it all were four inch, platform, acrylic stripper heels! The cherry on top was her long, blond, fake hair, clip-on ponytail!

The thing was, she wasn't wearing five pounds of make up, or a look upon her face that said "slut" or "bitch." Rather, she looked lost and vulnerable. She was carrying a huge black duffel bag. I felt awful for her. I imaged the contents of her entire life was in that bag and someone must have told her, "Take the Grey Hound to LA, work the pole at Girls Girls Girls to get your $25 to register at Central Casting in the morning..."

I wanted to take a discrete picture, but she was close enough only once and I would have felt guilty. Not surprisingly, a sleazy guy quickly aided her in filling out the paperwork! At about 10:35 two employees came out to explain the process. Of course, some morons insisted on asking personal and insignificant questions and thus, the line didn't actual form until almost 11 a.m. Registration consists of showing proper identification, since you have to fill out tax forms to get paid, having an employee check that your forms are correct and complete and having a picture taken. There is a one time fee of $25, with the requirement that you update your registration at least every two years.

For an additional fee you can add headshots, but they take a picture of you that day so it's actually what you currently look like. The picture taking experience was about as uncomfortable as the DMV! You stand on an X in front of a white screen and once it's clicked, you're done. You don't get to see the picture! On one hand, I can understand that's to keep the line moving, but I hate that I have no idea what image casting directors are viewing! I'm usually pretty photogenic, but still...! They recommend you go back to update your picture (for free) every six months or so. I want to practice in the mirror and go back next week!

So have I booked a job through them yet?! No... I listened to the hotline last night, this morning and tonight, but there hasn't been much on it. They recommend you call often from 2 to 8 p.m. If that's when all the good jobs get posted, I'm screwed, because that's when I'm at my sales job. The hotline takes forever to listen to because there is 30 to 60 seconds of silence between each recording. An example of the various recordings is: "Hi this is Jane Doe the casting director. I am booking This Show for This Date and I'm looking for women of This Body Type/Specificity. Wardrobe for the shoot is This. If you fit, call me at ###."

If you fit the type, you call that casting director, they look you up in the database and say yes or no. Punctuality and professionalism are expected onset, or you'll be reprimanded and possibly suspended from Central Casting. As my faux manager, my guy has volunteered to listen to the hotline for me during the critical hours. If he hears something good for me, he can text me the details and phone number. I am able to make a short phone call while I'm at work, I just can't be listening to a 3 to 6 minute recording throughout the day. Although... I could dial out through my headset, so I'm not busted with my cell phone to my ear! Of course! I feel so stupid for thinking it would be a problem. Duh - my job is being on the phone! I'll just have to figure out which button on the phone to hit to flip back to the sales dialer if my computer screen shows that a customer has actually answered their damn phone.

My guy will be in LA to visit me in mid June. (I can not wait!) I haven't figured out exactly how I will be asking for that time off yet, but it makes me feel like I shouldn't take too much off before then. Of course, I will be listening to the hotline and will definitely call for any great jobs, but I'm not immediately jumping into the extra work full force. At least I am now registered! It's both a good fall back and will definitely put me in the right places where incredible opportunites are known to happen!

Monday, May 18, 2009

My first California earthquake!

Last night the Inglewood/Long Beach area experienced a 4.7 earthquake. There have been aftershocks and a bit of damage, but nothing severe.

Here in the Valley, I felt nothing!

It did, however, remind me that I never mentioned my first earthquake experience! I think it was two weeks ago... I was at my sales job and all of a sudden my chair was jarred. The shaking only lasted five to ten seconds. I stood up and asked if anyone else felt it. A few coworkers looked at me like I was crazy, but I was sure, there was no other explanation than an earthquake! An hour later, someone else walked in and confirmed it, having seen a news report or something. I believe they said it was rated a 3 or 4, but now I can't find anything about it.

It wasn't the least bit scary, probably because it was so short and I'm used to going through the extremely jarring earthquake animation at Universal Studios.

On the news tonight they asked if the Inglewood quake was a precursor to another big one. A scientist said there's no reason to jump to that conclusion. However, she further stated southern California has had fewer earthquakes in the past ten years and we should be expecting more in the future.

Last week my roommate acquired a large framed print and gave it to me. Today I finally got around to hanging it in the only possible space, above my bed. It's thin wood and plexiglass, but now I feel like I should take it down, as to not be rendered unconscious by Jonathan Pike's "Balconies on the Grand Canal" if North Hollywood gets rocked at night!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Quality of Life

Over the past year I have wrestled with a quality of life question, constantly reminding myself that hardship now is better than massive regret and loathing later.

I've mentioned several times how infinitely more difficult Los Angeles is, in every tedious way. But right now as I sit in the middle of NoHo Park, I see the potential. Behind me a woman is practicing the bagpipes and to my left a guy is playing a drum; a family seems to be having a reunion, children are playing soccer and half the dog owners seem to believe the "must be on leash" signs are just a suggestion.

In this place, traffic is not an issue, nor is the grossly inflated cost of everything from rent to a gallon of milk. It's not about acting classes, casting directors or day jobs... It's about happiness and relaxation, sunshine, nature and human interaction.

Today our house in Ohio had a showing; there was one last week too. Though selling it is the goal, my guy can't help but ponder the hurdles that creates. Where will he, the dog and cat live after it sells and before they move out here? Packing, storing and moving a whole household will be a nightmare.

Nonetheless, in moments and places like this I'm reminded that it will be worth it once we're together again. LA might be a big, scary, congested city, but after you find your community and have someone to share it with, it's no different than anywhere else. I'm even willing to say our quality of life here could be even better if we live in this neighborhood or one similar.

Okay, at this point the bagpipe is getting annoying and I really can not stand small dogs, but the potential and hopefulness are still here!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Workers rut...

Hmm... There seems to be a trend starting here. I haven't been blogging during the week, because when I get home from work, I'm exhausted. My job is not difficult or physically tiring; nonetheless, I've not had the energy or inspiration to write during my evenings. Rather, I talk to my guy, make supper, watch prime time network TV shows (which for me can be called research!), take a shower, tidy up and go to sleep. Boring, boring, boring...

Hopefully my worker's rut will soon be replaced by the true busyness and legitimate exhaustion of rehearsals. In Sunday's post I mentioned not auditioning for a role that was above my age range for a writer I worked with last year on the short musical festival. At their auditions they must not have found their character, because they sent me a second request to audition, this Saturday. It's right in the middle of the day, meaning it prevents me from trying to get a shift at Universal, but I did accept. I've not heard any more from the other writers who outright gave me a role, pending the hiring of a director...

Also, I went to Central Casting Wednesday morning to register for paid extra work. I planned to get there early, but as I've mentioned before, I am not at all a morning person. My GPS devise got a little turned around on the angled, dead-end, one-way streets of Burbank and my arrival was withing their time frame, but put me near the end of a fifty person line. I did expect that many people, but when I realize how incredibly slow the line was moving, I opted to leave, as to not have to head straight to work with no food and in dressy, chilly, uncomfortable attire. As I left I did have a very interesting encounter, but it deserves it's own post! The new plan is to get there this morning early enough to get good parking and be at the front of the line, however, I'm not feeling very well right now. Non-union registration happens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and while I do not want to continue putting it off, it would be no great detriment if I feel like shit in the morning and I go on Monday instead.

Other than that... I found a dentist in downtown LA who actually thinks Invisiline braces will work on my teeth! (Invisiline is a series of clear retainers instead of a mouth full of metal and wires.) I had been previously told they would not; this doctor agrees I am the most difficult case he's seen for Invisiline, but says it's doable and the challenge quite frankly excites him, so I've now started that process. The way I met him is funny story, for another entry...

I still greatly dislike my job, but I'm toughing it out... I've gotten a deal a day this week, although one was post-dated and doesn't count yet, so I desperately need at least one more today to be at a more comfortable wage for the week. Amazingly, I closed my two best deals by myself, one being a strong sales move that resulted in a 50% down payment and the other was a really steep markup, which was amusingly, a complete accident on my part! Today a fellow employee was fired for leaving a mean message on a customer's voicemail. It's good to know that my company doesn't tolerate that type of behavior. On the other hand, I still don't like many of the sales tactics that I hear around me all damn day. I refuse to stoop to that level and am still not sure if I'll be able to do well enough to hang on to this job by doing it my way!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another week...

I can't believe I'm heading into my third week on the sales floor at my new job!

Yesterday I talked to my mom (obvious) and she told me all about a cold call she'd recently received from an auto warranty company, amusingly located in NoHo where I now live. They hung up on her upon realizing she wasn't going to buy. My company doesn't do that, but I still hate being in an industry that has such a bad rap from so many shitty companies!

Nonetheless, I'm going into work with the positive attitude that I'll at least get two deals today ! Starting out strong will make the rest of the week much better! I mean, it has to be better - Friday's pay check wasn't quite as good as I thought it would be (damn taxes) and this Friday's is going to be much worse since I sold less last week...

This week I really need to pound the pavement for a waitressing job as well. Wednesday morning I'll be registering with Central Casting, the main booking agency for background artists, or extras, for all the major films and TV shows. Being an extra is not glamorous in the least; although it's mindless, I've heard it's exhausting. As I've mentioned before, I'd rather uncomfortably stand on a set all day for only $8 an hour than do my current job. If I could work consistently between being an extra and giving tours at Universal (when it picks up this summer), I think I could be okay.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Short Musial Festival - Year Two!

I can not believe it's been a year since I was cast in my first LA gig - the short musical festival.

Over the course of that experience I didn't blog about it much for two reasons - I was concerned about the anonymity of this blog and I wanted to stay positive. Truth be told, it was frustrating and disappointing in many ways. I was in two of the five short musicals last year; one director called far too many pointless rehearsals for a ten minute piece, while the other was thrown together at the last minute. Even though I wasn't being paid, I guess I thought because I was in LA, that it would be like "professional theatre." It was not.

All across LA, especially here in the NoHo Arts District, there are little theatres where professional actors and directors put on productions with no budget and even less of a guarantee of the outcome! We do it because we love performing, it's a networking opportunity and because it gives us a reason to send out post cards to casting director, agents and managers. In the end last year, I was glad I did it; it was a great confidence boost to be cast in something so quickly, it added to my resume and made good friends. However, the rehearsals were extremely frustrating and I questioned the caliber of the work, from both myself and everyone else involved. My attitude near the end wasn't so great.

So it was quite a surprise to be asked back by three different parties! The man who runs the small theatre volunteered his truck and helped me move to my new apartment; he said all the thanks he needed was my participation in the musicals again this year! You help me move and cast me in a show?!?! Wow... just, wow!

The writers of the thrown together, but truly hilarious, musical from last year have offered me a part in their show this year, pending the hiring of the director. I've accepted, but I guess that means the tbd director could veto me... Then there's the writer of the other musical I was in last year. She and her director were way over the top with their rehearsals and notes and I know my life values differ from hers greatly. Everyone in that cast was so annoyed; the writer wanted to run through the music a half hour before curtain even on the third and fourth weekend of the run for a TEN MINUTE show! It was ridiculous and by the end, none of us were hiding our eye rolls. Nonetheless, she sent me three emails and a voicemail about auditioning for her show this year. The character is ten to fifteen years above my age range and I don't know how rehearsals for multiple shows will fit with my increased need to work real jobs this year.

On top of that, I am out of headshots and have been printing them on a must-have basis from CVS and my printer literally ran out of ink to print a resume yesterday. My new cartridges will arrive Monday. Yes, I could probably use a roommates printer and drop another $4 for a single 8x10 at CVS, but I've decided it's not worth it for a role so far above my age range. I told her I was not available for the audition, which is being held for only two hours this morning, but that if she doesn't find her character that I would love to audition at another time. Seems logical, right? They already know who I am and what I can do; this isn't a person I'm eager to work with again, but if after their auditions they really want me, I'd do it.

Of course I'm left wondering, what if the role I've been offered is taken away by the director and I could've gotten the other role had I gone to the first audition...? It would suck not to be involved, especially now that I live within walking distance to the theatre. But there are plenty of other theatres around here that I'd like to become involved with. So even if all this falls through, I'm at peace with my decision, which is very odd and surprising for me...!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A very funny voicemail I just got at work:

[Read with the sassy southern accent of a middle age black woman]:

"This is so-and-so. Thank you for your call, however, due to some recent, unfortunate, events, I have made many life changes. I will try to return your call at my earliest convenience. But if you do not hear from me, consider yourself one of the changes."

I normally click to the next call as soon as I hear an answering machine pick up; only a couple times could I tell it was going to be a good one and stayed on the line to listen. Overall, the creativity of America's outgoing messages is very disappointing!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What am I forgetting about?

After all the stress of the last few weeks, last night's email to my guy asked, "what am I forgetting about?" All I've done this week is work, sleep and sometimes eat and watch TV. It's a very odd sense of calm. A world of no impending deadlines or obligations feels nice; it's a little boring and hopefully fleeting, but nice for now... I'm currently working from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., which is not good. For me, that means I sleep till 11:30 a.m., go straight to work and get back around 8 p.m. to make food, talk to my guy and watch a TV show or two. It's not very fulfilling, but for now my only focus is keeping my stress low and my bank account high. Acting classes, a show and/or another job will come in a couple weeks or so.

As for the new job, I am selling auto warranties over the phone. I am not a telemarketer; my company only calls people who requested information via our website! (No, it is not the advertising whores, US Fidelis, and please do not buy from them. Here's why!) My brother keeps getting calls from a company that hangs up on him when he asks their name; our name is one of the first things we say and we're eager to tell customers about our A+ BBB rated administrator and hundred year old insurance company that backs them...

Our coverage is legitimate and we absolutely never lie about it. However... it is supposed to be a one-call close and I am not comfortable with some of the sales tactics I was taught to make that happen. One way of creating urgency is to tell the customer that they're just over the miles for the better plan and we'll "re-qualify" them or "adjust the mileage" to fit the superior coverage. Obviously the packages really do have cut off points, but they're not listed on our website. Other tactics, like mark ups, financing and holding benefits back as negotiation tools, are akin to automotive or furniture sales. I really don't enjoy the dance; I think it's stupid and I wish it could just be a straight forward, no haggle transaction. On the other hand, I understand how our trainer justified it, he said, "No one wakes up in the morning excited to buy an auto warranty." They are smart things to have and if you don't make people buy them right now, they'll probably forget about it...

They've told me to think about it as an actress, but I tend to side with the customer. I would want to shop around or talk to my partner too. My guy is a decorated sales person who manages an auto dealership; he is confident that I can do well at this job without using dishonest sales tactics that I'm not comfortable with. However, I'm not getting the opportunity to test the waters. As a new representative with few deals to my name, I keep getting assigned high agent numbers; the agent number, which you log into the dialing system with, affects which leads (or customers) you get. Today I was calling people who had requested the information two and a half weeks ago! We'd already gotten their answer machine over a dozen times, meaning they've likely learned to avoid our number. The highest sellers in the office the previous day get the lower agent numbers, meaning hotter, newer leads. It's like the rich get richer and the new kids don't even get the chance to succeed. Although, yesterday a girl with a higher agent number got three deals, so the managers say, "Don't let your number psych you out! They don't matter!" Okay, then why not assign static numbers if they don't matter?

Needless to say, the verdict is still out on this new job. One minute I feel like I could really be great at it and roll in the money. I've already earned two handy cash bonuses, based on a high down payment and high mark up. But when no one has answered their damn phone in over an hour, or when I'm calling the east coast at 9:45 p.m. their time, I just want to walk out! My first week I did four deals, but this week I only have two on the board! Starting our fourth or fifth week, if we don't get five a week we'll be put on probation. Since the pay is a sliding hourly rate, I'm certainly not going to quit, even though there are moments I want to. I'll continue trying to figure it out and even if I don't, I'll continue to take their checks until I fail probation and they fire me!

In the meantime, I need to turn in some restaurant applications and register with Central Casting, a reputable company that hires background actors, aka, extras. I keep hearing that pretty girls can get work through them five days a week. Depending on the pay rate and consistency of work, doing that on weekdays and Universal tours on weekends could pay the bills and beat the hell out of selling auto warranties or waiting tables!

Speaking of industry work, Tuesday I left work early to shoot a promo for ABC/Disney Channel/ESPN. I was paid $50 cash for less than an hours "work" in a lovely local park. It was supposed to look like real people, stopped while they were out and about, and asked to comment on their favorite shows. I delivered lines like, "I can't live without my Desperate Housewives" and "I get everything on Time Warner, it's awesome." Right now the footage doesn't really have a home and will just be used for internal promotion. I don't really know what that means, but it's fine with me that I got my cash and no one will likely ever see it!

Monday, May 4, 2009

$1 NOT to visit the USPS!

I am not only on a tight budget now, but am fiercely frugal even when I have money...

However, I just charged one dollar to my credit card, instead of going to the post office!

Since my move was so last minute, I hadn't changed my address. In the past I'd gone to the place of horrible lines and angry employees to fill out the change-o-addy form, but with the optimistic attitude that they'd finally gotten with the times, I tried online first. Indeed, you can change your address via the web now. Fantastic!

Only after you enter all your information and click through several pages does it ask for a credit card to "verify your identity" and tell you that you'll be charged a dollar. Ah, how crafty of them! I heard the Seinfeld character "Newman" cackling in my head as I reached for my wallet. With the exception of my one-stop-light-hometown, going to a post office is absolutely never a good experience. My time and mood are totally worth the dollar I just paid to change my freaking address from the comfort of my bed at 2 a.m.!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I can't believe I haven't posted since Monday! It's been a hell of a week; I have a lot to share, but I'm only on my phone, so here are the highlights:

In the eleventh hour the two guys with the apartment in NoHo picked me! Thanks to Facebook, I got some help (and even a pick-up truck) and am all moved in. There are many great things about this place, specifically the price and location. However, it SMELLS! The carpet needs shampooed desperately and I simply must clean the kitchen and bathroom before I can really use them.

Yesterday was my birthday. I spent it working. I thought about going out for at least one drink, but ended up eating Taco Bell, watching tv and unpacking.

As for my new job, I've survived my first full week on the sales floor. All bull shit positivity aside, I don't think I can do this job. It SUCKS! The top people do 10 to 15 deals a week; I did 4 with 1 post-dates for next week. That's good for a beginner, but I hate the mentality toward the customer and lies you tell to achieve a "one call close." More on that when my computer has internet again...

For now I'll end with one more lovely note about the new place. Last night, my first here, I fell asleep to the sound of the neighbor's headboard pounding against my wall and box springs squeaking. However there was no moaning or screaming or anything. I didn't know whether to be thankful for that fact, or feel really sorry for them!