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5:30 pm - Thurs 3/18/04
Another Lost Weekend

Another Lost Weekend

Thurs 3/18/04 (10:10 a.m.)

Listening to Mozart, a two-cd compilation that was one of ten free "promos" I grabbed at the bookstore recently...

Mostly due to these "promos" (And my $30 monthly "credit"), I'm developing quite the eclectic music collection (In this latest haul of freebies, I picked up everything from Kid Rock and The Roots to A Charlie Brown Christmas and Carmen).

Promos are particularly nice in terms of classical music, because I know next-to-nothing about it--My musical upbringing was more Lawrence Welk and Hee-Haw than Bach and Beethoven–and as an adult (A poor adult), I've been hesitant to spend money on music when I didn't know if I'd like it or not. But take money out of the equation, and why not grab that promo Chopin cd, or use my credit for Rachmaninoff's "Greatest Hits"? Why not give it a shot?

(Semi-interesting factoid: Oddly enough, considering my aforementioned ignorance, I used to fantasize about being a Conductor. I liked how dramatic it looked)

Anyway, when I was putting my haul in my backpack that night, I thought about the things I like about the bookstore...

The free stuff is definitely a selling point, but I always end up going back to "the people" as the main thing I like about the bookstore (I would have said the same thing about Schulers, the bookstore where I worked back in Michigan. I think there's just something about the kind of people who end up working at bookstores that appeals to me. Maybe because I'm "the kind of people" who ended up working at a bookstore).

Borders is never going to feel like "family" the way the gang at Schulers did–I'm too ambivalent about "Borders Inc.", there's too much turnover, and I'm too excited about moving on to "the next phase" of my life–but by and large, it's a very pleasant group to work with. It's nice to be around people who read, and are verbal, who are basically like-minded (I'd say the majority of people fall on the "liberal" side of the political spectrum), and who share some of my geeky interests (movies, comics, action figures, etc). I like some people more than others, of course, but on the whole, I could do a whole lot worse.

Sometimes I worry–as if it really matters–that I'm not painting an accurate portrait in here of how I feel about Borders.

And it's hard, because it isn't "black and white". On the one hand, there's the free stuff, the pleasant, like-minded coworkers, and the fact that it's a fairly easy job (Most of the time); on the other hand, there's the painfully low wage, the rude and/or thoughtless customers (That's when the job doesn't feel so "easy"), and edicts handed down from corporate that foster a distinct "Us against Them" environment.

Some time back, I wrote an entry that I thought, after the fact, suggested my only problem with the job was the corporate stuff, the low wage and suggestive selling and frequent cutbacks in hours and whatnot.

But that's really not true. I think the fact that I'm working for a big corporation that doesn't give a fuck about me is probably my biggest issue with Borders, but even if they paid me twice what I'm making and had someone from corporate chaffeur me to and from work every day, I think I'd be ready to put this part of my life behind me.

Part of it is those "rude and/or thoughtless customers". They aren't in the majority, no matter how it seems sometimes, but it doesn't take a majority to ruin your day. A few scammers here, some teachers abusing their discounts there, a couple people yakking on their cellphones as you ring them up at the register (News flash, folks: I'm not a fucking ATM), and five or ten people leaving utter devastation in their wake (The other day, I watched a guy pull twenty-three real estate books off the shelf. And yes, I counted. And of course, he left them in a big pile when he was done), and it can be hard to remember why you ever wanted to work in a bookstore in the first place.

(I truly have a hard time understanding, or excusing, the "leaving a mess" thing. I mean, I'm a terrible slob myself, but in my own defense, that's in my own house; I wouldn't dream of walking into a store, leaving shit all over the place, then walking off. I think I've said it in here before–It may be part of my job to clean up after you, but that doesn't make it okay for you to take a dump on the floor.)

And after 13-plus years (fourteen in October), I think I can say I've given it a good shot, but it's official–I'm never going to be great at this job.

I'm not terrible, mind you (I'm good with people, by and large, and I probably know where more of the books are than anyone else in the store), but there are just too many elements of working in a bookstore that are never going to be strong points of mine, too many things that bore me to tears, too many things I just don't want to do (One reason, amongst many, that I've never went for a management position, at the old store or at Borders, is that I listen to the things management has to be concerned about, and just being in the vicinity makes me want to lapse into a boredom-induced coma).

So I want to be done. I want this to be my last year.

It's way past time.

In the future, I want my relationship to "the public" to be when they watch me on tv, see me in a play, or go to the movies.

And as far as bookstores go, I want to go back to being a "customer". When I leave Borders, I never want to see the inside of a bookstore again unless I'm buying something..

Or else signing my latest book....

____________________

(4:00 p.m.)

Earlier today, I saw an interview with Ben Affleck on a repeat of The View, and it struck me, not for the first time, that he's become another one of those actors I like better on talk shows and interviews than in movies (That said, I will probably see Jersey Girl, because I liked him in Chasing Amy, and I'm always willing to give a Kevin Smith movie a shot).

Anyway...

I really wanted to have an audition over my "weekend", which didn't happen, but I did get paged about an hour ago for something tomorrow afternoon (Something for X-box, at Westside Casting).

In spite of my desire to be "grateful" for all the convenient auditions I've had so far this year, knowing it wouldn't last, I was a little bummed when I heard this one was at 2:15 tomorrow; if it were at the casting place on LaBrea, it wouldn't be an issue–that would basically just involve stopping off on the way to work--but because it's at Westside, I had to call work to let them know I'd be late, and I'll have to drive (But no big deal, really–I don't have to do this too often, so they're cool about it at work, and everybody knows about my parking thing, so they let me leave the car overnight when I have to drive. It just means losing an hour-and-a-half off my paycheck).

It's been another one of those long, lonely weekends...Nothing to do, and no money to do it with.

I've been in my apartment all day. All I've done is read (Zen In The Martial Arts), surf the Internet, watch tv, and write in here (I know–To many of you who lead way too busy lives, that probably sounds like heaven. But if that's all I do over a weekend, I end up feeling lonely and depressed).

I've ventured out to lobby a couple times to check the mail, but that's been pretty much it.

I think I'm going to go down to the Hollywood video and rent something. At least it'll eat up some time, and give me something to do later this evening...

9:39 am - FRI 7/4/03
The Weekend In Review

The Weekend In Review

THURS 7/3/03 11:30 am

Yesterday, I had one of those days off; I woke up feeling really tired and cranky and physically out-of-sorts, and I let that (along with the fact that I didn't have any big plans, aside from maybe seeing Terminator III), cause me to just piss the day away, holed up in my apartment like a shut-in.

I didn't have any fun. I didn't get anything done. I mostly just dozed and watched tv.

Yet another day in my life that might as well never have happened (Though I did start reading Life Of Pi in earnest, which I'm enjoying).

But the thing that bothers me is that I know better; By the end of a day like that, I end up feeling depressed and lonely, antsy to do something, desperate for conversation, some human contact, but at that point it's too late, and there's nothing to do but settle in with the "electronic teat" and vow to do better tomorrow.

I know how a day off can "go wrong" for me if I let it. So why do I let it?

Anyway...

In a little more than an hour, I have an appointment to see an acting "career counselor".

I'm hoping for a couple things from this... The guy is a casting director, so there's that, but he also can supposedly get you in an agent's door, and that's very big for me; The thing I want more than anything at this point is to be sent out on tv/movie castings the same way I've been going out for commercial stuff, because I honestly feel that if I were going out on these things, I'd get something...eventually.

I'm also hoping for a little more of a sense of direction. I know there are other things I should/could be doing–Other than going on commercial auditions and looking through Backstage--but how to "prioritize"? With a limited budget, what should I be focused on, and what can wait?

In short, how can I get where I want to go?

But speaking of going...it's early, but I should get going for this thing. I don't want to start off with this guy by being late (This first meeting is free. I have to assume the subject of money will come up at some point, but I'll worry about that later).

9:17 pm

Well, the meeting with Keith Wolfe, the casting director/career consultant, was somewhat anticlimactic, but I guess the overall feeling was a positive one.

I got there about ten minutes early (He has an office at Sunset & Gower Studios, where they apparently shoot Six Feet Under, amongst other things), but he was with someone else, so I waited outside–there was no lobby, so "waiting outside" meant waiting on a folding chair just outside his door, in the hallway of the building–until maybe ten minutes after 1:00, when the person he was seeing was ushered out, and I was ushered in.

Like my last interview with a casting director–Danny Goldman–Mr Wolfe was a heavyset fella with bad hair, but at least he looked dry. And he seemed like a decent enough guy; Whether he was genuinely interested or not, I'm not sure (I've quickly lost my sense of being able to accurately guage people's sincerity out here), but at least he was able to effectively feign interest.

He started out by asking for my headshot, and he seemed to approve of both the picture (He said something like "Now there's a commercial face!") and my resume (He commented on all the theatre–which I guess could be a backhanded way of saying "Not a lot of film credits..."–but he also said, kind of offhandedly, "some good stuff here").

He asked me to tell him about myself, so I gave him the Cliff Notes–twenty years in Lansing, lots of community theater, a life-altering conversation with Jane, and here we are.

I told him money's been a challenge, and that I have some money now–Mark and Jane's "scholarship"–but have this fear of "throwing it down a hole" (What do I do? Voiceover demo? Commercial workshop? Film acting class? None of the above?).

I told him that I didn't come out here thinking I'd be "commercially viable", but the commercial thing has been what I've ended up feeling best about so far.

I told him what I basically wanted was to get a theatrical agent, and go out for movie and tv stuff like I've been going out for commercials.

Blah blah blah. Etc and so forth.

He gave me a scene, and told me to go out in the hall to look it over (I believe he also took that opportunity to enjoy a little snack). So I went out in the hall to look it over–a scene where a guy is trying to convince a judge that he's not guilty of murder, even though the police busted in on him holding a gun, with the dead body in hand–and was embarrassed, when he came to get me, that I had to ask him where the bathroom was, in order to take a potty break; I'd had a badly-timed Diet Coke on the drive over.

When I got back, I went in and read the scene with him (He's done it enough times that he was able to at least paraphrase it pretty well without looking at the page). I thought I was okay–I'm a pretty good cold reader–but could have been better. But he seemed to think it was good; He said "Well, you're certainly ready for an agent" (One bit of advice a lot of acting books give out is not to go searching for an agent before you have anything to show them, because you'll probably only get one shot at impressing him or her).

He wrote my various numbers on the headshot I'd given him--My voicemail, my pager--then told me he has agents come in periodically, and while I wouldn't be able to "afford" his class (Or "seminar", or whatever he called it), he'd let me know when an agent was coming that might be of particular interest to me, and I could just come in for that, for $25 (Actually, I could just afford his class/seminar, but I don't want to spend all my money on one thing if I don't have to, particularly since I can't be 100% sure anything would come of it).

He also said he'd keep me in mind for anything he might be casting coming up.

So there it was. Basically, I got what I paid for. Maybe a little bit more.

I was somehow disappointed afterwards, but when I thought about it, I did a pretty good job of short-circuiting any advice he might have offered with my cries of poverty–Anything he would be likely to advise me on (Classes, workshops, showcases, mass-mailings, etc) would cost money, and I suggested that I had a "couple hundred" to work with, and a job that wasn't going to be providing anything "extra".

Feel like I'm babbling...Anyway, I motivated myself enough to make the call, then go see this guy, and now there's at least one more person who knows I'm here in LA. He may not have offered me a job or given me an agent's number right then, but who knows what might happen in the future?

All in all, I've gotta say this was a good thing for me to do.

Even if it did feel...anticlimactic.

____________________

Recently, JS forwarded a message he received from LA Casting, saying they were looking for more people.

(This is the fairly new online service that's quickly becoming the way actors are submitted to casting directors for commercials; Eventually, it will probably be the way actors are submitted for just about everything here.)

Since they pay $10 an hour to start--After two years at Borders, I'm making $8 and change--and since they were sending notices out to agents (Implying that they were prepared to deal with actors schedule conflicts), I gave them a call.

I didn't know exactly what the job would entail, but I assumed it would have to do either with helping actors get their information into the computer, helping casting directors access the system, or both. Boring stuff, basically, but I didn't feel like I could dismiss this opportunity to improve my financial situation.

So I called. Asked for "Lainie", and we weren't two minutes into the conversation before I got shut down; They aren't looking for actors who "go out a lot" (on auditions).

I don't know if I go out "a lot"--Isn't feeling like it right now!--but that's certainly the goal, so I don't want to sign on someplace where that'll be a problem.

Again, kudos to me for being willing to make the leap when a potential opportunity presents itself.

But I sure wouldn't mind if this "willingness" of mine had more of a payoff now and again!

 

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