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10:27 pm - FRI 1/17/03
Burying the Lead

Burying the Lead

FRI 1/17/03 4:34 pm

I know it hasn't really been that long, but it feels like forever since I've written in here...

Yesterday I tried writing an entry. I told myself I was going to go on as long as it took to get everything I wanted to say written down. But after spending all morning writing what was supposed to be just an "addendum" to my last entry (About work and such), I ended up deleting what I'd written, on account of it being too boring and long-winded by half ( I felt a little discouraged about the whole thing, too; If I can't even write a journal entry I'm happy with, how am I gonna write something that merits getting published?).

Anyway...I'd been uncomfortable with the last entry I'd written, to the point where I thought about deleting it, but decided not to; I said what I said, and it wasn't anything I didn't believe, so I opted to just live with it.

Cary emailed me recently, where, amongst other things, he mentioned that Diaryland entry. He wasn't mad or anything, but he did want to make clear that he took his current management position because he actually wanted the job, and the money was, as he put it, a "tertiary" concern.

He likes the idea of having more control over his environment, more of an impact within the company. He has skills, and good ideas, and wants to have the chance to implement them. He likes having more of a "leadership role" at his job.

And of course, the extra money doesn't hurt either.

I felt kinda sheepish that I'd shot my mouth off when I obviously didn't know what the hell I was talking about. But more than that, I felt a distinct sadness, to realize I've known Cary for years---We first met during a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, back in 1984, I think it was--and don't really know him; I'd made assumptions based not on who he is, but on who I am.

I tend to do that...


I've had a pretty bad time at work for weeks now (I had a couple days recently where I thought I'd snapped out of it, but yesterday I was as miserable as ever).

While I'm there, I've tended to feel snappish, tired, depressed, anxious. Often times, I've been just plain old angry. Basically, name the uncomfortable, unpleasant feeling, and I've experienced it at some point while at work lately.

I think part of it is PTHD (Post Traumatic Holiday Disorder). For me, the holidays, for years now, have been mostly depressing and disappointing. And I always feel like I could do with a long break afterwards, but that's a break I never get because I'm in retail (I was lucky this year that I at least ended up with a "long weekend").

Another thing is that I don't really like "the great unwashed" (And sometimes I mean that literally; Some of "the great unwashed" could seriously use a shower and some deodorant!). I've always thought of myself as a "people person", but in less than two years of working at Borders, I've dealt with more unpleasant people than in eleven years at my old bookstore back in Michigan. And when you think you like people, when that's part of the way you define yourself, getting a snootful of just how unlikeable they can be can really get you down.

This does not come as a big shock, because I knew it even back when I worked at Schulers--I would often say how, in terms of retail, I felt fortunate to work there, in part because of the agreeable clientele--but I'm still surprised at how angry I've become at the people I theoretically serve here (At the end of a closing shift, when I have to spend an hour picking up the mess they've left in their wake, my pet name for our customers has become "you m***********g pigs").

(And if you tell me it's my job to pick up after the customers, I will say this--I'm there to serve the customer, yes, but that doesn't mean the customer is then morally entitled to take a dump on the floor. And in one very notable case, "take a dump on the floor" wasn't just a metaphor).

And I could go on, about all the shoplifters--who I guess wouldn't technically be "customers"---and the people who treat the store like a public library (I swear there are people who bought a book at the store once, years ago, returned it, and have been using the resulting credit every since), not to mention the oh-so-important people who, since you're not actually a person to them, don't even bother to interrupt their cellphone call when you're waiting on them, but I think you're getting the idea; Working retail, particularly in an "urban environment", can do serious damage to your view of humanity.

But more than PTHD, more than the fact I'm dealing with a higher percentage of a******s than I ever have in my life, is the feeling that I just want to be elsewhere; I get frustrated with this job, and there's certainly good reason for that, but I'd be frustrated being anywhere right now, because it's not me being an actor.


But speaking of "me being an actor", I've done a really good job of "burying the lead" here; There have recently been two very big developments on the acting front...

Development #1: On Wednesday, I'm going over to Ed Begley Jr's house, to audition for Cesar & Ruben, a show he's written and will be directing here in LA.

This came about when I found out Nick B., Ed's son, was going to be leaving the bookstore (Borders has a special way of thanking people for their hard work during the Xmas season--they cut everyone's hours. Nick was part-time, so when they cut him down to two shifts a week, he took that as a sign he should be moving on).

I was really bummed at getting the news--Nick is a great guy, and I've really enjoyed his being at the store--and at one point I said, "Well, maybe we'll run into each other sometime. Your Dad and I will do a movie together, we'll see each other at the premiere...".

And Nick said, "Speaking of my Dad, he's directing a play here in LA. You should submit for it".

It's a play--a musical actually--that his Dad wrote about Cesar Chavez, the union activist (Or as I've always thought of him, "the grape guy"). It starts with Chavez in the afterlife, being led through the events of his life on Earth by Ruben Salazar (The white people are either the villians of the piece, or else pretty minor players in the story. But I read the script this morning, while listening to the songs on cd, and I think it's a really nice piece of theatre. All other issues aside--and more on those in a minute--it would be cool just to be a part of it).

Nick didn't immediately know where I should send my headshot, so the next time the subject came up, a couple days later, he said, "Let me just call my Dad". So he called him while we were both at the store.

At one point in the conversation, his Dad apparently asked if I had a headshot with me, cause Nick said "I don't know if he has a headshot with him or not". That's when I made frantic gestures at Nick to indicate I did indeed have a headshot on me, and Nick ended up taking it with him when he left work that night.

On Wednesday, I met with Nick for breakfast, and he handed me the script and two cds of music (Songs by Enrique Iglesias, Sting, Tracy Chapman, Van Morrison, Santana, Ruben Blades, and so on). And it was another one of those times where I thought, "This is more of what I want my life to be like..."; In addition to the exciting opportunity he was presenting me with, I just had a great time hanging out with him. I'm not sure how long we were at the restaurant, but I'm guessing it was at least two hours (After having had breakfast with Chris earlier in the week, I'm realizing that eating breakfast with people I really like is...well, something I really like!).

(Chris bought breakfast when we went out, while I paid for Nick and I, even though I'm in no position to do that sort of thing, because I really needed to do something to thank him for the opportunity he'd sent my way.)

After a brief round of phone tag, today I talked to Ed Begley Jr. directly. And I don't know if I've met a nicer person out here so far; He was upbeat, accomodating, and seemed genuinely pleased when I told him much I'd enjoyed what he'd written (I stayed away from any remarks about St Elsewhere or Six Feet Under, feeling like that could come off as ass-kissing. But of course, I was pretty geeked to be talking to an actor who's been in two of the best shows, in my opinion, ever to be on tv).

If I actually end up doing this, I might have to join Equity (Instead of telling him "I really don't have the money for that", I just said "Not a problem" when Ed brought that up as a possibility. If I get cast in the show, then I'll worry where that $800 is coming from). And financial strain aside, I'd like to have a shot at auditioning for honest-to-God paying theater gigs, so there would be worse fates than being in Equity (And if I'm not ready to compete with Equity actors at this point, I never will be!).

Anyway, he's going to get back to me tomorrow, so we can figure out when to meet on Wednesday.

Big Acting Development #2: I got a call today from the Stealing Breath guys (The student film I auditioned for at Cal State-Northridge); They want me to play "Harry", the angry convenience store manager.

It's a small part, which is I think a good thing on a couple fronts--I don't have to sweat carrying a film my first time out of the box, and it's only going to take a day to shoot (One thing that's prevented me from pushing harder to get student films is the fear of having a lengthy conflict with work for a non-paying gig)--and it just feels good to have my talent be recognized out here (Today, college filmmakers; Tomorrow, Spielberg!).

They want to have a meeting next Saturday. Then there'll be a rehearsal at some point, then they want to shoot sometime next month.

(More on these and other developments as they happen...)


Well believe it or not, I have a lot more to write about, but it's gotten late, I think I've gone on for long enough, and it's nothing that can't keep. So I think I'm going to settle down with a good book (I'm reading Dead Man's Walk right now, the "prequel" to Lonesome Dove), and call it a day.


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