Friday, November 20, 2009
It's like the difference between being a freelancer and having a 9 to 5. Yeah, sometimes 9 to 5ers just don't want to go to work - it's predictable, boring and can feel like you're just marking time while those freelancers hop from job to job, sleeping late between gigs and racking up stories.
But here's the thing, a freelancer is always hustling and right around the time they're running out of money and wondering how it got to be 4 months between jobs, the 9 to 5er is strolling into work, relaxed and taken care of thinking how much they appreciate steady and reliable.*
Now I'm not making a blanket statement about being single versus being monogamous in general- both have their benefits. I am saying that if you like to have sex, regularly, being in a relationship seems to be a better bet because as far as I can tell, the swinging single is a myth. Being single just means you get to potentially have sex with more people less often - whether you're a guy or a girl....but especially if you're a girl. And if you're willing to have lots of stranger sex then you're really taking a risk in the quality department. Not a worthy trade in my opinion.
Sex is on the brain. Why? Well, I just read a book called The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, for one.** For another, it's probably been two weeks now since I last did the dirty despite being coupled up with the baby daddy. I would say that this blows my theory out of the water, but two weeks is still a distant cry from 6 months. Ugh. I'm so annoyed with sex right now.
*This is a somewhat elaborate and not entirely successful metaphor for sex. Obviously.
**Gave me an entirely new perspective on the Swedes. It was good, but I definitely felt a little blindsided by the content to be honest with you. It was disturbing.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
OK, phew, I feel better. Thanks for listening. I wanted to write without it being a bitchfest whine-athon, but I couldn't. I am glad I got that out of my system. I should be good for a couple of weeks.
And now to add to my fears, I am including a scene from a short play I submitted to a play write contest. Nothing like putting your work up to public scrutiny to get the nerves active.
The play is called Unnatural Selection. It takes place in a waiting room where people wait to see if they will be selected to sacrifice themselves in order to preserve the future of the human race.
I hope you enjoy.
The room is again silent. LEON sits down next to DARRYL a middle aged, working class black man reading a newspaper.
LEON- Thank god for the silence, huh?
DARRYL- Impending doom!
DARRYL- Impending doom. It’s what drives people like them to chatter so much. (He points at GORDON) That man wants to connect to someone before his time comes today. She wants to as well but she is too paralyzed with fear to realize it. Your little girlfriend wants to be remembered, hence her outburst at the old woman. I think the same goes for you too. If you meet your end today you want us all to remember you and your ideals and how you went out with a fight. (LEON laughs.) There’s a woman in front of us who hasn’t stopped praying since she got here. (Pointing to CATHERINE.) It’s all just another way people deal with impending doom.
LEON- What about you?
DARRYL- I observe the human condition. Distracts me from my own fears, from my own emotions.
LEON- What about the bag lady?
DARRYL- She just fucking crazy. (They both laugh.) What’s your name soldier?
DARRYL- Like Leon Spinks. Names Darryl, like Strawberry.
LEON- I never really followed sports.
DARRYL- Well, fuck you then. (He laughs.)
LEON pulls out his flask and takes a swig. He offers it to DARRYL.
DARRYL- Oh, no! Haven’t touched the stuff in quite some time. My wife made me quit. You a married man, Leon?
LEON- (Laughs) Yeah, right. That’s what I’ve been thinking about as this whole thing crumbles apart around us. How can I create a family and bring more people into this hellhole? No offense.
DARRYL- None taken. My wife and I have been together long before things started falling apart. No kids. Just her and I surviving together. It makes it easier, you know? Having someone to live for, to fight for, survive for. I wouldn’t have made it this far on my own.
LEON- Well, you’re a better man than myself. I feel like I would destroy anyone I got close to with my anger and disappointment. This shit isn’t getting better.
DARRYL- You’re right. I will take a swig off that. (He takes the flask.) It ain’t getting any better. (He drinks) But we are. Human beings are programmed to rise above their natural operating potential in times of crisis. Our physical strength increases, our tolerance for pain increases and so does our compassion. We are built to survive no matter how hard we try to destroy ourselves.
LEON- I guess. Like the mother lifting the car and that kind of shit.
DARRYL- Exactly, that kind of shit.
He takes another drink and hands the flask back to LEON who takes a long drink. ANGIE exits the restroom and crosses back to her magazine. She doesn’t even look toward LEON.
DARRYL- I think she likes you. (He busts up laughing again. LEON chuckles with him.)
The BUZZER sounds as the main door is unlocked. The PROCTOR enters with MR. NORFOLK. NORFOLK walks quietly to his seat and sits down. PROCTOR looks down at his clipboard.
PROCTOR- Mr. Robison. Darryl Robison, would you please come with me.
DARRYL stands up.
DARRYL- Wish me luck Leon Spinx.
LEON- Good luck in there. Hope they like sports.
DARRYL takes a deep breath. He walks toward the door. He kneels by CATHERINE.
DARRYL- Include me in one of them. She nods and touches his face. He walks over to the PROCTOR who escorts him out.
PROCTOR- Right this way please.
The door shuts and is locked.
Friday, October 16, 2009
An acquaintance (okay, so it was my ex-boyfriend's fiancee) recently asked me what I thought was "my soul's intention." That is, the purpose that my consciousness had entered this lower vibrational plane to fulfill. And whether or not I would have phrased it quite that way, it's a question that would have been really easy for me to answer a few years ago. The answer would have been along the lines of wanting my life to be an example and inspiration for other people to do what they love for a living and not settle for anything less. That's something that I felt quite passionate about as a young(er) woman: not settling. For me that meant that I was going to move to LA, be an admired and wealthy actress of the stage and film living in my Richard Neutra dream home, playing in a rock and roll band when I wasn't traveling all around the world, having fabulous dinner parties with my luminary friends, looking fabulous (always) and learning to knit in my spare time. And that's just the short version!
But now I'm 28 and when I look around at my life it seems like along the way I've done a lot of settling for things that were not quite what I had always imagined. It actually turns out that I was willing to settle all along. And although I'm not unhappy ( my general disposition is happy and grateful) I'm definitely aware of the discrepancy between the afore-mentioned not settling lifestyle and the life that I'm actually living. I've also been very aware in the past year or so since I got pregnant and had my baby that what looks like "settling" from the vantage point of 17 or 21 looks like a really fucking nice life at 28.
My priorities have changed...Somewhat.
Because tucked away in there amidst being a really good mama and taking care of the car transmission and the health insurance and the laundry and all the other myriad chores that multiply and shapeshift into other, new important chores is still a desire to perform. A desire to create something. A desire to be recognized for that creation and a desire to be paid ridiculous amounts of money for it as well. Oh, and a desire to look H-O-T while I'm doing it! (Which, in my post-baby world is as daunting as winning an Academy Award. Maybe if you're lucky I'll tell you about why I've now added getting a pornstar bikini wax to my beauty list of To Dos in a future blog.)
But here's the thing. I don't know how to fulfill all those desires and take care of my baby and do the chores and be a good girlfriend and open up an ice cream shop and get enough sleep. Even though I spent 7 years in LA settling for not-quite good enough, it always felt like the possibility of the dream life was still there if I would be willing to step into it. And now I don't have the time or energy to step into anything but sweatpants and hand me down purple Uggs. So what's my soul's intention? I don't know. I'd like to figure it out right now, here with you, but I'm tired and the baby always wakes up at 1am which is just 40 minutes away...
Who asks their fiancee's ex-girlfriend that kind of question anyway?
*1) You will discover that I love footnotes and use them often whether it's appropriate or not. 2) This intro is basically me saying that for the next 5 or 6 paragraphs I fully intend to be a whiny bitch and hopefully you still like me when I'm through.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
It's good practice, I guess, for being a successful anything but especially an actor/writer. Although at a certain level of success people just tend to hire a personal assistant. But it's not just learning how to run your life and your p.r. at the same time - it's also about learning how to love the good feedback, let go of the bad and not at any point buy into your own hype. It's about accepting that everyone has a life story and a point of view that makes them say things that have nothing to do with you. It's funny that Jon-Barrett and I have been able to begin learning these lessons in a matter of weeks (even with our very full life!) and Jane Adams still hasn't learned it in 24 years of working in Hollywood.
*I bought a used 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid 2 years ago and it's always been a little wonky when it comes to accelerating and deccelerating but I just chalked it up to a new model design flaw. And I never had any real problems with it until last week when my car began shuddering violently while braking and starting from a stopped position and then died completely the next day. I had it towed to the nearby dealership that I brought it from where they proceeded to keep it for 4 days before informing me that it was going to cost $5000 to fix. Yep, that's right, $5000 on a car that I still owe $9000 on. Awesome. So I called another mechanic (to whom I definitely should have taken the car in the first place) who found out that the transmission on my year, make and model had been recalled by Honda for exactly the problem I'd been having and that they would fix it for FREE. He printed out all of the documentation for me and after numerous calls to the now disgruntled service reps at the dealership my transmission is being replaced on Honda's dime. So a big shout out to Dave at 60 Minute Tuneup on Balboa in GH!!! Sometimes really shitty stuff happens in life and just when you're asking "Really? Why would you do this to me Life?" Life steps in and responds, "Just Kidding!"
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I came to Los Angeles with a dream. I went to school to study theatre and film with a dream. I worked at Barney Greengrass with a dream backing up my every move. With the amount of industry heavies who came in and dined on a regular basis, there was a hope I held onto that somehow someone would help me get closer to my dream. Now, this doesn't mean I was sitting around waiting to be discovered. I would regularly go out on auditions. I would do plays in and around LA. I worked on short films. I took classes. I wrote my own plays. I am producing my own webseries. I submit myself daily to projects and casting directors and agents. I did what a struggling actor/writer in Hollywood is supposed to do, try and sell myself. It was my hope that if or when one of the producers, or directors, or casting directors, or managers, or agents who ate at Barney Greengrass saw me in something they would think, for five seconds, "I know this guy. Where do I know him from?" That five seconds could be all that I needed to help me stand out above the other guy. That was what I WANTED to happen from me working at Barney Greengrass.
What I got instead are thousands of supporters wishing me well and getting my back and a bunch of other people scoffing at how stupid I was to write anything about my work or my customers in the first place. I want to respond to both sides. To those of you who are sharing your feelings of injustice for me, thank you so much! All the messages and retweets make me feel like I did the right thing and make my consequences a little easier to deal with. To the other side, I have to admit that what I did might not have had my own best interest at hand. I did not think anyone, other than the 22 people following me, would read what I tweeted. That was my ignorance to the power of social media. I understand the concerns my management and Barney's corporate had with clientele wanting to shop and eat with discretion. I don't know if being fired was what I deserved, but it happened. I tweeted, I lost my job, I lost my health insurance and I accept that as the consequences to my actions.
This is what my five years at Barney Greengrass has brought me and I honestly wouldn't change it. I have no money, I have to move out of my house and my family and I have to stay at a friends house until I can get back on my feet or until Mimi's ice cream shop opens, I am behind on bills, every restaurant I apply to isn't hiring, but I wouldn't change that. Thousands of people are reading what I write. Any struggling writer would kill for that publicity. In a way I may be killing Jane Adams' reputation, or maybe more people know who she is than ever before. You're welcome Jane.
I have no idea what happens next. I can't even imagine, which is so strange because my entire life has been spent imagining what my entire life would be like and now every day is a new surprise. Not good, not bad, just something new.
For those interested.
I started writing a book four years ago as a way to create my imagined life and prevent catastrophe from happening. The book is about an actor on the verge of success (my imagined life) enjoying the benefits that come with success. He finds out that an ex lover has a five year old child that is his. (I was hoping that writing about it might prevent it. Turns out two years after starting this book Mimi and I had an unexpected pregnancy.) I am going to share a little bit of it. Justin, the main character, just finished a film "Silent Woods" that has the potential to win him acclaim and possible awards. I thought this segment would be appropriate due to Justin's philosophy on tipping.
!Warning! Adult content!
'Marissa is a 19-year-old pop star whose existence is based entirely on the success of her sister. She is marginally talented and completely unoriginal. Her two assets are the size C’s on her tiny-framed body. And for me, her insecurities of not living up to her sister gives me ample opportunity to take advantage of her without emotional remorse. After Clarisse and I broke up, Marissa started sending me letters telling me how lucky I was to get away from her psycho sister. To be honest both of the Donnell sisters are a little off. I think it might be a dirty daddy or dirty uncle complex. She would send me tickets to her shows and invite me to the MTV awards. She was seventeen, and while the image of penetrating that illegal twat tempted the hell out of me and kept me up late at night with visions of her tits in my face, I had to think about my career. If it ever got out that I was fucking a minor even if she was a superstar, it would destroy me. I did not want to be an R Kelley or Rob Lowe. It was actually Tegan who facilitated her and I coming together.
During the gestation period of Silent Woods, he would invite me up to his house off Coldwater Canyon to smoke some herb and talk about the film. We would mostly talk about music and who our dream-leading lady would be and how we would take turns dating her. On one occasion Tegan’s girlfriend Allison, daughter of one of the most influential directors of all time, was swimming in his pool with her friend Marissa. We went outside to smoke and as soon as we got to the pool I was blinded by the sun gleaming off a wet pair of amazing breasts it took me two minutes of staring at before I realized whom they belonged to. Marissa looked up shaded her eyes and screamed “Justin!!” She jumped out of the pool and pressed her wet little body against mine. The four of us spent the day swimming and smoking and I eventually found myself in Tegan’s pool house fucking little Marissa Donnell from behind without hesitation.
“I knew you were going to be there that day. Allison told me Tegan was meeting with you and she invited me over.” I hate the way she acts like she knows everything and always gets what she wants. Her smug little attitude confounds me. I don’t know whether to fuck her or punch her in the face. I’ll probably end up fucking her. I am not that violent of a person. She takes bite of my steak asserting her control over me. Trying to appear aloof, I drink my wine and stare around the restaurant. It’s a hapless venture. Every time Marissa and I meet in New York, we always eat at the same steak house and sit in the same dark secluded booth to keep our relations to ourselves. The only ones that interact with us are the maitre d' and our server who has been working here for the past 15 years taking care of some of the highest profile celebrity and political figures of the time. I am not trying to say that I include myself in this group even though the media would love to know who’s foot is creeping up my leg right now. I am fortunate enough to have met the owner of the restaurant at a party almost a year ago in the Hampton’s.
Marissa drones on about some designer offering to design something for a video or something. I am not quite sure what she is saying. Her voice turns into this dull hum interrupted by her annoying giggle. Is she on her phone or is she talking to me? I haven’t responded in at least twenty minutes. I drift away to this silent corner of my mind. The emptiness consumes me and I feel alone, isolated in this existence. The reality of who I am, what I am doing and whom I am with are just an illusion. They are a piece of a dream I held onto years ago. None of this seems right. Something is missing and I can’t figure out what it is. Everything I have ever wanted is here, right in front of me waiting for me to grab it. Success, money, fame, respect, I have it. I am the master of my world and the course of my existence, yet I am still alone.
Marissa’s foot presses against my dick snapping me out of my contemplation. Looking at her big brown eyes staring back at me as she sips on her Belvedere and cran and feeling the pressure of her foot longingly caress my crotch brings a smile to my face. This is my life. People would die to be where I am. Sometimes we need to control our sub-conscious before it takes control of us. I finish my wine and lean over the table and take her head in my hands and kiss her firmly. “I can taste the wine.” She giggles. I lean to her ear and whisper, “Let’s get the fuck out of here.” I lay down three one hundred dollar bills. I don’t even know how much the check was, but I assume it was less then that. They usually end up at about $150-$200, the rest goes to our gracious hosts. It’s strange how in my life hundreds are the new twenties. I always throw down $300 if I am eating with someone else. Add another $150 for every person at the table.
Only once have I miscalculated. I had dinner with Adam Sandler to discuss a project he was producing. We were going to play brothers from a dysfunctional home who reunite at their father’s funeral only to find out their father’s final wish was for them to follow this crazy treasure map he drew up years ago, filled with clues leading them to his hidden fortune only to find out his fortune was the two of them. Kind of a cheesy family pic with some funny bits of us on the treasure hunt. We bought a couple bottles of wine, dinner, I threw down $300 and we left. The waiter ran out after us. He was embarrassed to tell us that the bill was $325. I gave him two bills and apologized. Adam said something funny and gave him another two bills. The picture didn’t go through. Adam booked the new super hero trilogy, and I got “Silent Woods.”'
Monday, September 28, 2009
I'm opening a business with some friends and we've been in the process for oh, about 7 months. And after 3 (or 4?) tentative opening dates I still have no idea when we're actually going to open. There have been many, many , many...many setbacks. And mistakes. A lot of them on my part which brings me to the crux of things.
I can't remember the last time I did something that I'm really good at.
How did that happen? It used to be that I only, exclusively ( with the exception of math) did things that I was good at and luckily that was a pretty long list. I won awards, got straight A's, had my name in the paper, got the part, got the guy and looked good while doing it. Certainly things started to change when I moved to LA, but there were still some things I excelled at. At least that's how I like to remember the past.
But as soon as I peek over the rose-colored glasses I can see that no matter what I've been doing or how much outside praise I've gotten, I've always been plagued by insecurity during the process. No matter how many roles I've done, each one is a new experience that leaves me completely humbled. Ditto that with pretty much anything challenging and/or worthwhile. I don't know why I thought opening up an ice cream shop would be any different. (I've actually always really wanted to own my own business. It was a childhood dream that started even earlier than my desire to be an actress, but my first entrepreneurial foray is not quite everything I pictured small business owning to be. Of course, then again, neither is being an *aspiring* actress.) Perhaps if I would set my sights lower then I could constantly feel in control. Which is oh, so tempting! But also totally lame.
So the discomfort of having to stretch oneself and grow in pursuit of a higher goal is clearly worthwhile - or at the very least necessary. But even if I accept that, what do I do in the meantime to get that occasional and very important sensation of being a Bad-Ass?! Take up kickboxing? What if I suck? In fact, learning anything new is completely out. So what does that leave? I just watched Julie & Julia this weekend. Maybe I should consider taking up baking again as I was always quite good at that...
I guess what I'm saying is that I have an idea in my head of the kind of person I want to be, the difference I want to make and the life I want to live - but what it takes to actually become that person...well, stay tuned.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
For a few days after the incident, I was filled with a righteous indignation. I had been wronged by Jane Adams and Barney's New York. I wanted the world to know. I wanted the powers that be to see the can of worms they had opened. So I wrote and rewrote on my blog, on Facebook, and on twitter. There was a response. My friends and friends of friends came out in support agreeing how f-ed up the situation was and how I was the victim. It was brought to my attention that Michelle Focarazzo, the VP of customer service for Barney's, had been following me on twitter (@MMF0607) and that she was the one, after Jane Adams complained, who requested my managers let me go. I had to delete and block my mangers, some of whom are good friends, from my Facebook page because they were continuing to "monitor" my pages after I was no longer employed. I found out that they are prohibited to talk to me or have any contact with me, again these are friends of mine, some of them. The situation was serious it impacted my life. I needed it to be serious so I tried to sell the story and when that failed, I tried to give it away for free. No response.
I then started getting messages from those who believed I was at fault. That I should expect to get fired for writing on twitter. That I should lay off Jane Adams and Barney's. They were only reacting in accordance to what I had done to them. I started feeling guilty. I was the bad guy. I was the asshole, fixated on this poor woman who felt like I infringed on her privacy. In lieu of the numerous urgings from friends and strangers alike to publicize the incident and seek legal recourse, I kept quiet and tried to go on with my life. The internet buzz fizzled out, my time for vengeance had passed and I returned to being a guy who has been fired. I searched online hoping someone else would keep the flame burning for me so that I wouldn't feel fully implicated but still know I was supported. There was nothing.
I sent out resumes, I enjoyed my free time with my daughter and I waited for whatever was going to be next. I couldn't get away from the story, though. Aside from constantly thinking about it, I had to retell it to those who hadn't heard. Everyone I would run into wanted to know, "What happened?" I felt pathetic retelling it, even when their sympathy and support would pour out after hearing. I felt like those closest to me wanted me to stop talking about it. I wanted to stop talking about it even though it had only been a week since my termination. The financial implications of not having a job started to set in. I lost my health benefits, I couldn't afford to eat out, I had to stop bills from being automatically withdrawn from my account. I signed up for unemployment not thinking I would be accepted because of being fired. I was embarrassed at my situation.
Three things reinvigorated me. The first was getting a call from a reporter from LATimes.com to interview me for their technology page. My righteous fire ignited and I explained the whole story. Surprisingly he was sympathetic. He saw, I think, the ridiculousness of her complaining to get me fired. He asked me if I would have written what I had again knowing what the outcome would be. Of course I would! If I could, I would complain about every cheap, or nasty customer whom I had the displeasure of waiting on. My fire was raging. The story was going to be published. The second thing that got me going was reading about NFL players tweeting and how a policy had to be put in place to prevent the players from tweeting during a game. I wasn't alone anymore. Chad OchoCinco and I had a common quest, to freely express our opinions on a public forum. Although my 52 followers (which is more than double what I had before getting fired) does not compare to his 100,000 plus, our voices are still heard. The third thing was a combination of things. I returned to my acting class this week, having a lot of free time, to find support from my teacher and fellow students. I found out that other students working in the food industry in Beverly Hills had to sign confidentiality agreements before being employed, I never did. I also heard a story of a student who got drunk at his place of employment on his birthday and showed his penis and got a warning? I couldn't believe it. How ridiculous that he got a warning for that and I was fired for writing about a $3 tip.
Now, instead of being just another guy who got the axe, I have re-become the guy who got axed with a bigger axe of his own to grind. Look out Barney's New York! Beware Jane Adams! Where is the number for my lawyer? Where is that LA Times article? Where is my unemployment check? Where is my retribution?
Don't worry folks, this roller coaster is not over for any of us. Not as long as I have a voice.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I got in yesterday morning at 8:55 for my 9am start time and was immediately called into our managers office. They sat me down with somber solemnity. I knew what was going to happen, I just didn't know why. I had been called into the office before. Being late, thinking I was cut when I wasn't, writing the bar temps down in the wrong place. But this was different. The attitude was delicate and ominous. I knew this was the end and I was racking my brain to figure how I had screwed up. My boss said the word "Twitter" and pulled out a printout of all my Tweets. I had written about being attracted to actresses not wearing bras and comedians who were nice guys and TV couples whose real life mirrored their scripted life. I had also written about Jane Adams, from HBO's Hung, who neglected to tip me until she read my Tweet (read also http://howtosucceedasafailure.blogspot.com/2009/08/tipping-twitter.html) All in all there were ten Tweets about celebrities on that print out. I was told that Jane Adams and "others" had complained to Barney's New York corporate (the department store my restaurant is located in) and they were forcing my management to let me go.
Let me remind everyone that we are in a recession and jobs are not easy to come by. Especially if one has been fired. Let me also remind everyone that I have a 10mo old daughter and I am trying to move into a baby friendly location with her and her mother. I sit silently in my car wondering, "What the fuck am I going to do?" As a waiter I make cash to pay my bills. I don't get pay checks. The money I make each week covers whatever I owe. It always works out. Now, there is no money.
I think about how f-ed up the situation is. I got fired for complaining on a public forum with no link to Barney's New York or Barney Greengrass about a successful actress not paying a bill and not tipping. My Tweet had no ill effect on her, on her TV show, on HBO, on Barney's or on Barney Greengrass. My little Tweet did nothing to stop people from shopping, eating, or watching her show. But her complaining about it cost me my job, my health insurance, my stability. So I decided to Tweet about the whole thing.
After numerous, sympathetic people Tweeted and re-Tweeted, it came to my attention that I could sell this story to some tabloid. Here is my dilemma, sell the story and contribute to the Jon and Kate gossip crap that I refuse to pay attention to in order to make a buck and ensure a little negative press hopefully for Ms. Adams and BNY, or forget the whole thing and look for a new job finding someway to spin how I got fired in my favor. Does anyone know the number for TMZ?
Monday, August 17, 2009
They are all people, some nice some not. I recognize them and that's about all the thought they get, unless they are engaging. Most of the people I end up having a connection with I don't recognize until a co-worker points it out. "That's who that is? They're pretty cool."
It's a strange place to be, serving the people who are doing what you want to be doing, living how you want to be living. I want to connect on some other level, that as a peer. I want to say, "I really admire your craft. I would love to work with you someday. Any advice?" They have to know I am here attempting what they are successful at. All waiters in LA are trying to be something else. But that connection doesn't come. That understanding doesn't show. There is no memory or recognition of the life they lived before IT happened for them in the life I am living in front of them. I am the friendly person with no story, no depth, sent to take care of their needs. The ones I do connect with appreciate the challenge I have set up for myself here in LA and they admire my courage to attempt it. They get it. They remember.
Last week an actress came in and sat in my section. She seemed like someone who would get it. Someone who would remember. I think she is a very talented actress and have a lot of respect for her choices. She has done numerous indie films. Some cult favorites. She is on a cable TV show that seems to be doing well. I enjoy it. I love her in it. She sat by herself at a table. Very polite and unassuming. I tried to convey recognition and approval in my eyes without saying anything more than taking her order.
It was a simple, modest meal at a reasonable rate. $13.75 which is reasonable for where I work. I dropped off the check. She looked at it and opened her bag. Her face went beet red. "Oh my God!" She shuffled through the contents. "I left my wallet in my car!" It happens. I could feel her embarrassment radiating off her. "I am soo Sorry!" I felt like I was watching a character in one of her movies. This would totally happen to one of her characters. "It's alright. Why don't you go down to your car and come back up and pay. I trust you." I was smiling amiably. Her face was plastered on billboards all over town. It's not like I wouldn't remember who she was. She wanted to let the manager know she would be back to pay. I knew she would be back. She had to be...
She never came back. My shift ended and her unpaid check was transferred to two different waiters before the day ended and the check was voided out as a loss of $13.75 to the restaurant. Not a big deal to anyone involved but a definite surprise to all that knew the story.
Two days went by, and I was working a full day at the bar. One of our managers received a phone call from the actress' agent wanting to pay the bill. They said she had left town and they were going to pay the bill. I got to process the payment since I was there and it was my check to begin with. They paid the bill, $13.75, no tip. Not a big deal to me financially but the principle of the thing was ridiculous. I put my neck on the line by letting her leave without paying and end up getting screwed. And she couldn't have even screwed me herself she had her agent screw me. Granted the screwing was painless and undetectable.
I decided to Tweet about the incident. I know nothing about Twitter. I follow 21 people and 22 follow me. Mostly hot young girls that want me to look at their webcams. I had only posted five Tweets prior. I would talk about whatever celebrity came in that day. I figured the 40 people following me might find it slightly amusing. There wasn't much else in my life that felt Tweetable. I Tweeted about the actress and the leaving and the agent not tipping. Got it off my chest. Interesting litle anecdote. I went back to watching her show and enjoying her career choices.
She came back in a few days ago. She didn't sit down. She walked in with indignation and stood at the host stand telling the host, who knew all about her and what happened, how her agent or business manager neglected to leave a tip and how she was here to right a wrong. She had him do the math trying to figure out %20 of $13.75. He came up with $3. "Three dollars?" she said proudly, "Can you break a twenty?" The host sent her to the bar for change. The manger at the bar gave her change and she fished out $3. "This is for my waiter from last week." He pointed to me and said, "He's right there. You can give it to him." With her head back and her face beet red she walked over and gave me $3. "Sorry my agent forgot to tip you." The bitterness was saturating every word. It was clear she could not believe she was here for $3. She walked away without smiling. "Thank you." "I'm sorry!" more scorn than apology. She walked off and exited the restaurant. I felt bad for some reason. I was a big fan of hers and I wanted her to know how much it meant that she came back. That gesture said a lot about her character. I chased after her. "Thank you again for coming back to give me this." She stopped and turned her head with disgust and said, "My friend read about it on Twitter!" She turned and walked off.
I wanted to start laughing. I was more surprised that someone read my Tweet than I was by her behavior. Than I started thinking about her and how removed she was from this whole situation, which was her fault, until she was forced to participate by her own vanity. I wasn't a peer to her, I wasn't a fan, I wasn't even a person. I was a nuisance to her routine. I was her fly circling her head. She had no apology. She had no remorse. She couldn't see the humor in the whole thing. She made a big deal about fishing out $3 from her massive cable TV pay check in order to hopefully make herself look good. I gave her what she wanted. I Tweeted good Tweets praising her and her talents. She goes on making a living doing what she loves never having to go back to taking anyone's orders with a smile and I go back to taking it.
Twitter is a powerful tool! If I had the patience and time I would learn how to better let it serve me.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
"Hi, I'm St. Sparrow . I'm 28 years old. I've been pursuing acting in Hollywood for 6 years. In that time I've gone on 67 commercial auditions and never shot a single one. I've done 3 plays and 2 independent feature length films. I've taken headshots with 7 photographers, spent unknown amounts of money, wasted incalculable gallons of gas and been scammed at least 2 times. I am (and here I would pause to gather myself) an under-achiever." In a way, this blog is a meeting of Under-Achiever's Anonymous. And Non-Achiever's Anonymous. And Does Not Live Up to Full Potential Anonymous. This is for all of the great thinkers, bright bulbs, erstwhile inventors, and dazzling talented creative people out there who are still working behind the counter of Starbuck's. Or folding t-shirts at Urban Outfitters. Or buying their more successful employer a latte at Starbuck's and a t-shirt from Urban... This is for all of those people with extraordinary minds doing menial work and wondering "what the f*#$ happened to me?!"
My turn. I graduated from college 8 years ago (and by graduate I mean my family and friends came to watch me walk across the stage at a graduation ceremony to receive an empty cardboard envelope due to my lack of completing two classes.) I write BFA on my resumes because, really, who cares? I am an actor and there is not a lot of training or education needed to call yourself that. I was dropped by my agent this past year due to the recession. For those of you who don't know having a client costs an agency $0, but due to "the failing economy" they couldn't afford me. I have worked as a waiter and a bartender for the last 7 years having numerous people tell me, "you've got a great look," or "I know something is going to happen for you." Nothing has happened. I call myself a writer as well. I have started writing three screen plays, six episodes of a TV show, one stage play, a musical and a novel. I have finished none of them. Maybe that's why I am writing this blog. Maybe I am trying to fulfill some sense of accomplishment. Maybe I just want to know that there are others out there who want to rise above but struggle just to stand. Life is hard. I make it a lot harder for myself.
Hi, it's me again. I also thought you should know, we just had a kid (Aha! The plot thickens!) A 10 month -old beacon of light with red curls and bright blue eyes. This unexpected event is not a failure. In fact, so far, little bright eyes has been the rare, unqualified and exuberant success that I've been looking for elsewhere my entire life.
Her arrival into our lives has been such a success in fact, that it's a reminder of why we keep going at all. She's the reason to go on a 68th audition. Or to start a new writing project. Or to stay in a city that constantly holds up the brass ring while emphasizing how far away we still are from grasping it. So,ultimately, although this is a blog about failures of all kinds - small, large, important and not, funny and so serious they hurt...this is also a blog about how to succeed anyway. In spite of and because of all the disappointments that litter the road behind us. Welcome.