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10:16 PM - 12.25.18 (Xmas Day)

An Embarrassing Display Of A Dysfunctional Mind

It's been so long since I've written, I actually wondered the other day, "Am I just not doing this anymore?".

But I'm really uncomfortable when I don't write in here. And I think about it all the time, feeling weirdly guilty about all the stuff that's "getting by me" (I have considered, in recent years, going back to a private journal, which I'd done for years before this. But for whatever reason - my need for an "audience", perhaps? - I haven't yet "pulled the trigger" on it. In any case, public or private, it seems I need to journal, whatever the mechanism).


The big news these days is I went to Santa Fe over the weekend, to work on Acting Like Nothing Is Wrong, the documentary Jane R. is doing about my life (Initially, I wasn't set to go to Sante Fe - where Jane lives - till February. But then Jane wanted me to attend a Solstice party she was throwing for friends, which then expanded into doing some actual shooting, taking some stills, and working on the "teaser" we'd played around with some the last time she was in LA).

Since I'm me, there was a fair degree of anxiety surrounding the trip - from getting fills at work and whether my neighbor would be able to watch the cat, to packing and arranging transport to LAX, to Saturday night's dinner and giving Jane good stuff when we were working - but ultimately everything got managed, I enjoyed getting away from LA, seeing a new place, and hanging out with Jane and Dick, and the "work" part of the trip was just fun.

(I can't imagine that last bit's always gonna be the case - After all, we're talking about my life, which hasn't always been a joy-ride, and I'll clearly have to re-open some old wounds on-camera, not to mention be honest about my current, frequently depressed-and-anxious state-of-mind - but this time out was pretty light-hearted.)

I liked Sante Fe. With the buildings, everything was in shades of brown and beige (stucco and adobe), and I found it very aesthetically appealing - I enjoyed the visual contradiction of very old buildings put to modern use, and described it to Mark and Jane this morning as "looking like a children's play-set".

I doubt it ever gets as cold there as it did it Michigan, which I have never gone back to in wintertime, but I was colder than I've been in quite a while..

But temperature aside (Which wasn't really that big a deal), I enjoyed the vibe, in that it's a pretty "artsy" place - we checked out some cool galleries, where had I the money, I could have have spent $50 thousand on art and photography in a heartbeat - and it had a particular thing I like, where it felt big enough to be a real city, but with a friendly, small-town feel (I don't know that we went anywhere without Jane and Dick running into someone they knew).

They have a very nice place (They were able to "trade up" from their previous, smaller place because the new house, while bigger, needed a lot of work). It was so spacious I immediately thought, "If I had all this space, I'd have no idea what to do with it" - Compared to my current digs, I'd be living in the lap of luxury if I had an apartment the size of their living and dining rooms.

But more than the space, I enjoyed the aesthetic - It's full of art (Jane's and other folks), books, photos, knick-knacks and various fun geegaws (not to mention awards for her film work), along with Dick's musical instruments (A lot of percussion, particularly) and extensive collection of records (He ran a used record place back in East Lansing called "Flat, Black, and Circular", and currently has a store within another business space in Sante Fe called "The Man In The Groove").

I already had them on the list of "People I Envy" (The formal list title being, "People I Know Who Live Lives Centered Around Their Passions Like I Wish I Did"), but one thing spending time with them did, beyond just make me like them more, was add fuel to my desire for a life centered around my passions.

To a certain extent - As Jane Z. has pointed out more than once - I was disadvantaged by not having parents. There was no one to "give me a leg up", financially or otherwise, so I was basically left to my own devices. No one was going to help me buy my first car, or pay for college, or help me finance my house, or give me advice and counsel on how to manage life as an adult (And yes, I know - On the other side, there are people with parents who either didn't have much to offer, or who were actively harmful, and I dodged that bullet. But that's stuff for another entry)

Anyway, with all that said, there's nothing that stops me, moving forward, from creating a life more centered around my passions (Like, in terms of my apartment, by making it more about expressing my interests and aspirations than simply being a depressing, embarrassing display of a dysfunctional mind),

Thurs 12/27/18 (11:13 am)

I was in Sante Fe from last Thursday night through early Sunday evening. So, essentially, spent about three days there with Jane and Dick.

And I had the feeling I've had a few other times when I've "vacationed" (This wasn't strictly a "vacation" - I was there with some purpose, after all - but there was definitely a lot of resting and relaxing and "vacation-ey" fun-having involved) - and that feeling was basically, "Why can't life just be like this all the time..?".

Anyway, it was a good time.

And it demonstrated the nice things that can happen when you say "Yes" to possibilities - I don't know where exactly this project is going or what will or won't happen as a result, but already it's meant a fun break from routine, meeting new people and seeing new things, and having a couple days where, to the extent it's possible for me, I wasn't worried about anything (Though there were a few anxious moments on Sunday night, when it seemed like we were cutting it close on getting to the airport).

(And I met Wes Studi. And we got on really well. So that was pretty cool.)


Another big thing I think has happened since I last wrote - I didn't check to see if I've mentioned it already - is that I've gone from preparing to launch a VO career to actually auditioning for things (No bookings as of yet).

Frankly, it's more difficult than I'd envisioned (Which I started to get an inkling of while working with my VO coach Tracy). And by "more difficult", I'm not talking about the technical aspects - at this point, I'm basically competent at recording things - but about performance.

I could write an entire entry about this - and was considering it for a while - but basically, I think it comes down to a few simple things:

1. There is nothing else but your voice, so it has to do it all. No makeup, no costume, no nothing but the way you sound.

2. You have nothing to work with but the copy, and your imagination.

3. You have to sell while not sounding like you're selling - to figure out how to make something written as a pitch sound like normal, natural speech.

4. You have to get over the tendency to go into "announcer/performer mode" behind a mic, and just "be natural" (Which I still don't trust - I secretly believe that you have to "sound natural", but actually be better than "natural").

There are other things - Directing myself for one (I'm not sure I know when I'm done, vs when I need to keep trying to "make it better". I've alternately submitted things too soon, when they were clearly "undercooked", and drove myself crazy with other things, recording them over and over trying to get something "right") - but this gives you the basic idea of what I've seen as the "challenges".

I know I'm gonna work it out, but I'm not as confident as I was that "I might not book a lot out-of-the-gate, but I'll book something fairly quickly".

In short, this "learning curve" might be a little "steeper" than anticipated, but it still feels very worth pursuing.

Something that's been giving me more agita than the "steep learning curve" of performance or anxieties about the technical aspects, has been the moral/pragmatic dilemma of "union" vs. "non-union".

I plunked down almost $400 for a year's membership on a website called Voice123, without understanding that it's all non-union work (I should have known better, but I somehow thought it would be "some from Column A and some from Column B", and I'd be able to choose)

I haven't done any non-union work since I got into SAG, and it was not my intention to start with this. Because I said I wouldn't, it hurts the cause of actors in general, and I'm afraid of getting caught (And non-union work pays less, by and large, and you don't get any residuals, any contribution to pension or health or anything like that, and - at least in my mind - you have to be a little secretive and embarrassed that you're doing it).

On the other hand, things seem to be getting slower and slower for me in terms of on-camera stuff, non-union work seems to be a bigger and bigger piece of the commercial/VO pie, and baby needs a new pair of everything (Have I mentioned in the last five minutes how I have a deadly fear of ending up homeless and dying on the street?).'s been a mental/emotional dilemma. I don't want to be an unethical scumbag...but I also want to continue eating and having a roof over my head (Preferably from doing work in my chosen profession)

I have done some auditions through the website, but that was before I got an agent (The Agency where I'm represented theatrically is going to rep me for VO as well).

So my current thinking - since SAG-AFTRA doesn't have a contract for every manner of VO (Like audiobooks, I believe) - is that I'll see what my VO agent does for me (And what I do for him) and, in the meantime, confine myself to non-union work that SAG doesn't cover anyway.

(Note to self: Do some research on what work the SAG-AFTRA VO contract does and doesn't cover.)


While I'm not prepared to say I've made it through the 2018 holiday season unscathed - some years I've found the seasonal depression strikes me after the holidays are over (And we still have New Year's Eve to contend with), at this writing, I'm feeling okay about how things have gone.

I didn't do much - like lots of other people in the social media era, I'm sending out fewer and fewer cards (You don't really need to "reconnect" with people you hear from on a daily basis on FB, and for most "friends", a general "Merry Xmas" on the Internet, accompanied by a cute/funny photo, seems sufficient), and I long ago gave up trying to buy for the adults in my life (I send gift certificates to the couple of kids in my sphere, and usually do something-or-other for my mother, and that's pretty much it. This year I spent maybe $250 on people, all-told).

I went to the SAG-AFTRA holiday thing (And was glad afterward that Josh had convinced me to go), and I was invited to a party by my friend Salta on Xmas eve (A party which started out feeling like it was going to be an epic disaster - Me with a bunch of people from Salta's native Kyrgyzstan all speaking their native languages - but ended up being great fun).

So while Xmas day was a little depressing - After a cursory glance to see what was playing at my cheap theaters in Los Feliz, I ended up just spending the day alone in my apartment (Though I did have a nice conversation with Mark and Jane) - I didn't end up feeling like Xmas just "passed me by" this year.

When I got home Sunday night, Jane Z's "Xmas Box" was waiting for me (My neighbor Tom, who fed my cat while I was away, brought it in).

And that box of treats and presents and a Target gc basically "gets me where I need to go" in terms of the holidays - Reminding me that, while I always feel some degree of loneliness during the holidays (Can't see them ever not presenting at least something of an emotional challenge), I always have someone who was thinking about me.

And while there is a load more to write about - Have I mentioned I feel a little overwhelmed about all the stuff I've let "get by me" by not writing in so long? - that seems a good note to close on for now.

Till next time...



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