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1:02 pm - Fri 11/04/05
A Week To Remember

A Week To Remember

Thurs 11/3/05 (6:58 a.m.)

I feel terrible.

The-Bottom-Is-Dropping-0ut, I-Want-To-Forget-Acting-And-Move-Back-To-Michigan terrible.

(8:13 p.m.)

Okay, if you missed the subtle subtext, I was feeling a little downhearted earlier today.

But things are looking up. A bit.

I think.

But let me start at the beginning...

On Tuesday, I hit an ATM to get $20, $10 for a roll of laundry/bus money quarters, and $10 to see Capote the next day, which had finally gotten to the Los Feliz 3, maybe enjoying a little Jack-In-The-Box cuisine afterwards (If you get the small Jumbo Jack combo, that’s about $4).

(Turned out I wouldn’t be seeing Capote at all, because while I was at work Tuesday afternoon, I got a call for a late afternoon audition in Santa Monica the next day . And I wouldn’t be able to see it today, because I had a long-postponed lunch date with John O. at the Soup Plantation, a lunch date that ended up getting postponed again, for reasons that will soon become apparent)

This ATM experience was not as shocking as back in early September–when I discovered I wouldn’t be going out to play that day, or for the foreseeable future, because I had no money in either bank account–but it still wasn’t good: Looking on the bright side, I did have money in my account...just not quite enough to pay November’s rent.

This was an unhappy surprise, because when Cary and Kay loaned me money in September, I expected it to at least last till the next Jack-In-The-Box “holding fee”–around the end of this month, or the beginning of December--which would then, I hoped, “hold me” till early next year (After that, I wasn’t exactly sure what would be “holding me”. The elusive commercial booking, a tax refund, or maybe collecting cans and bottles from dumpsters).

Even though I still felt stressed about money, and would break into a sweat about any extra expenditures, even though I knew Cary and Kay’s loan was a stopgap measure, even though I knew things had not changed at all (I was still making much less than I needed to simply pay the bills, let alone enjoy even the most minimal of “extras”, so it seemed inappropriate to be enjoying “extras”–favorite foods, cheap matinees in Los Feliz, etc-- they were paying for), there was a part of me that “relaxed” after their loan. And I don’t mean I started hitting strip clubs and smoking crack, just that suddenly I wasn’t in “crisis mode” anymore. And I really should have been, because the “crisis”... is ongoing.

As a result of this shortfall, I did something that will make many of you want to say “Oh Jim, how could you be so stupid?”–I did a $200 cash withdrawal on one of my credit cards.

But what else could I do? The rent had to get paid, and I can’t keep treating Cary and Kay like an ATM machine (And Jane is still paying off her credit card bill for my SAG membership, which she paid for some months back). And while Kevin has offered his assistance, should I need it, I don’t want to ask; as I told Cary recently, part of what makes having to ask people for money so difficult in this situation is that there’s no end in sight to my neediness (As long as I’m not making enough of a “baseline income” to pay my own way, anything people lend me is just going to get used-up, sooner or later, and I’ll be back at square one. And I’m very much afraid that, sooner or later, everyone’s going to say “enough is enough” about me, and then I’ll be severely screwed.

Fri 11/04/05 (9:55 a.m.)

Much has happened in the past couple days...

The biggest news? I have a new job!

On Tuesday, while I was on my dinner break at Borders, I got a call from someone at the ArcLight theater; They conducted a "phone interview"--weird, and a little "naughty", to be doing it at the bookstore--after which, I was invited to attend a "group interview" on Thursday.

And apparently the "group interview"--I've never done one of those before--went pretty well, because I received the "you've got the job" call about four hours later.

I start a week from Tuesday (I could have started this Tuesday, but for some reason, felt it was important to give the requisite "two weeks notice" at Borders. That is, if I actually quit Borders. But more on that in a bit).

When I was "phone interviewed", I asked, right at the end, how much they paid, and found the answer pretty disheartening--The guy, an H.R. trainee, said "I don't know...$7.25, $7.50, something like that".

They actually start at $7.75 an hour, which is 58-cents-an-hour less than I'm making at the bookstore (after four-plus years). And that's a point of concern, to be sure--How can I take a job that pays less than what I'm making right now, when what I'm making right now is killing me?--but I'm going to assume more hours will make up the difference, and then some (And there are raises to consider, though I forget if he said they were yearly, or every six months. And you can also apply for other, higher-paying positions after 30 days. And there's also a yearly bonus).

And of course, a "night out" is going to be pretty cheap from now on, since my movies are going to be free, and concessions/cafe items 50% off (Though I imagine the markup on the latter might be such that a 50% discount would still be "cost-prohibitive". But we'll see).

And I know the idea will horrify some of you, and it makes me nervous as well, but if I forewent (Is that an actual word?) the health insurance and 401K, at least until such time as I was making more money (Either through raises, or job advancement, or both), I could probably get by.

(One of the "perks" ArcLight offers is a discounted health club membership, where they pay the up-front costs, and you just pay the monthly dues, with no contracts or commitments. And I want to figure out how to do that. In a way, that seems like better "health insurance" than health insurance, if you know what I'm saying.)

Talking to Jane yesterday morning, the idea of not quitting Borders (But instead, just going to part-time) came up, basically as a way of building up my "war chest", or "nest egg", or whatever you want to call it.

The big plus to that idea would be, of course, more money. And working part-time at Borders, I'd continue to enjoy check-out privileges on books (I'm currently reading Al Franken's new book), and while I wouldn't have the monthly credit anymore (That's a full-time "perk"), my discount would go up to 33%.

The big downside to that idea, of course, is that I'd be putting acting/auditioning on the back burner--when I still haven’t gotten it completely on the “front burner” in over four years--for I don't know how long (And have I mentioned I’m going to be 45 years old in May?). And all for the distinct possibility of discovering that two low-paying jobs equals one okay-paying job that just pays the bills. And that’s not what I came out here for–If I wanted to “just pay the bills”, I could do that much easier back in Lansing.

I lean towards trying to make the new job work out by itself. I’d really like to be done with Borders, for one thing–It feels very “played out” at this point--and I’m “resistant” to taking a step back from my acting career, such as it’s been thus far (A “plus” and a “minus” regarding acting stuff vis-a-vis the ArcLight: The “plus” is that they have other actors working there, and know the drill–I told them about sometimes needing to call the bookstore about a next-day audition that runs into work-time, and they hired me anyway. But the “minus” is that there’s still the issue of working nights-- obviously, a movie theaters prime hours of operation–which means I’ll be working at a theater, but won’t be “doing theater” for the foreseeable future).

(But I just read over yesterday’s entry, with particular attention to my concern for “wearing out my welcome” with friends by needing regular infusions of cash from them. And as I read that, it occurred to me that what might be “inappropriate” is me expecting my friends to fund my acting dreams; if I can’t get this done by myself, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this, if you know what I mean.)

Anyway, there’s a lot to think about, as you might imagine.

I’m nervous about a new job, but excited too. And I just have a feeling that, over and above any other considerations, giving myself the challenge of a new job and a new environment is a good thing for me to be doing right now.

And did I mention that I’ll get to see movies for free...?

____________________

Busy week for auditions...

I had two on Tuesday–both for breakfast treats (And both at the same casting place)–and one for Icebreakers mints on Wednesday.

None of the three felt like...well, like anything, really (Though I sort of liked doing the one for Kellog “Go-Tarts”, where I was part of a shuttle launch team). And not getting any particularly positive feeling from them was disappointing, because after realizing my finances had once again slipped into the red, having three auditions in two days made me feel hopeful for a moment, as if the universe were answering my “financial distress call” by handing me a commercial gig.

(And maybe it still is. I’m not gonna rule it out at this point.)

____________________

Another big thing this past week?

On Wednesday night, I did my first Signing Agent gig.

And botched it.

I got the emergency call around 8:30 that night, for a job a couple miles away, at 10:45 (Once again, I was set-up to be “emergency guy”, which I now completely understand is just not a good position for me to be in).

And while I knew I’d be “nervous” about my first actual gig, I wasn’t prepared for the wave of terror that hit me--In a word, I choked.

And choked bad

It took me a big chunk of the two hours I had just to download and print out the massive document--fucking slow-ass dial-up--and I was sweating so badly that I was afraid of dripping on the pages as they were coming out of my printer, and was constantly mopping at myself with paper towels (In a movie, the scene would be funny as hell. In real life, it felt like I was dying).

I was supposed to make a copy of the document for the clients, but my copier glitched mid-way through, and at that point, I almost called the Signing Agency to say “I can’t do this...”, but they said they could send them a copy, and not to worry about it.

In my frenzy of downloading, and printing, and attempted copying, and shaving, and getting dressed, and realizing I had no gas in the car, a pretty critical thing got overlooked–the checklist.

If I’d had more time, and had not given over to panic, I would have studied that checklist intensively, and noticed that one of the very first things it said was to have the clients sign the documents in blue ink

(They signed in black ink).

If I’d had more time, and had not given over to panic, I would have studied the documents, flagged all the places where a signature or initials were required, and not just assumed I’d see where signatures or initials were required while I was on the job (And when I was on the job, I let the client rush me, even though she was nice about it, which I should never have done. I should have said, “I’ll move as briskly as I can, but we don’t want to overlook anything, because you’re going to be pretty unhappy if something gets missed...”. But I failed to “take charge” of the situation, because I wasn’t in charge of myself).

(I missed at least three signatures.)

And this last bit wasn’t my fault, but I felt badly about it nevertheless–While we were on the phone, I asked Ken (The Signing Agency guy) if the documents needed to be legal-sized, or “regular”, and he told me “regular” was fine.

So all right then–I downloaded the documents on regular, letter-sized paper, and that’s what I had the clients sign.

But when I got home–after 45 minutes of driving around my neighborhood for parking–I saw I’d gotten an email from Ken, at 11:37, over a half-hour after my appointment time, saying the documents needed to be on legal-sized paper after all (He said he’d sent the email out right after we spoke, but I didn’t get it right after we spoke, so it didn’t exactly do me much good).

So basically, it didn’t go well (I’d say “failing miserably to do the job” would describe the job I did). It’s been years since I’ve had an experience that made me feel that all-around miserable.

And I got absolutely no sleep that night (Which was particularly bad, because I had the ArcLight “group interview” at 10:00 am the next morning). I just thought about how I was going to have to call the “Signing Agency Guy” and tell him I’d fucked up. And I thought about the clients–a married couple–who were going to have to be told that the whole thing was going to need to be done over again. And I thought about all the money I’d spent on this shit, only to realize, after the fact, that I’m just not “Detail Guy”, or “Guy You Want To Depend On In An Emergency Guy” (I’ve had a couple experiences recently where I’ve fucked up on forms and applications, and thought “And I’M going to be the one to make other people’s documents official? What was I thinking?”).

But the Notary stuff is not a done deal, even though this experience really made me feel like shit, and makes me want to give up altogether

This particular place will never hire me again, obviously, but I’m still on four or five other Signing Agent registries, so I have a few more chances to get this right (Cause as stressed and downright panic-stricken as I might have been this time, it probably won’t be as bad next time. I hope not, anyway, cause I just hated how this made me feel).

And even if the Signing Agent stuff is not a great “fit” for me, there’s still the basic “Mobile Notary” stuff. Less lucrative, but probably less stressful as well.

And besides, I can’t give up on this stuff-- Kay just designed and printed 1,000 business cards with my name on them. I’ve got to at least use those up before I can say “Well, I gave it a good try...”.

____________________

Well, believe it or not, I’m wrapping this up without saying everything I wanted to say (Didn’t have time to address my “nail fungus” issues, for example. For which I imagine you’re supremely grateful).

In short, it’s been quite a week.

A week to remember.


 

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