I have got to start moving away from working promos.

Sounds funny coming from the person who said, “I’ll pass out one million free pairs of sunglasses before I fetch one more saucer of ranch dressing for international tourists – or wait another table in general.

The side hustle among side hustles has gotten old. The gig that I just worked, a popular marathon for women, gave me night terrors about my future. Dreams where I woke up in the body of a sixty year old woman and ate old cheese on toast while I scoured the darkest regions of Craigslist for staffing companies who would hire an old lady with no traditional job experience. Think of the stereotypical elderly Vegas cocktail waitress; with deeply ingrained wrinkles, a raspy voice, and a disposition that makes you drink your watered down gin and tonic and appreciate your retail job that much more. I was weathered, alone, and completely unfit to do anything except show up to a random address and beg strangers to take free key chains. These are the night terrors of a college graduate who makes a living telling people how walk in a line. (FYI: It’s always to the right.)

Without going into too much detail, I worked back to back events in San Francisco this past week and a half. One was fantastic and well run, with the sweetest women in the world handling the staffing coordination. The other was a prime example of why “Those who can’t do … teach,” has become, “Those who can’t do anything … promo.”

It got to the point where I was on the verge of losing my voice to a combination of screaming and fending off a sinus infection. In my Sudafed fueled stupor, I observed the oblivious crowd before me and watched in horror as they all blended together into a colorful, amorphous blob.

I turned and looked over at “Mr. Pep-Guy,” a promo lifer near the entrance, jumping up and down and screaming into the air like a silverback guerrilla, high fiving everyone who tried to pass him. If they didn’t want to high five him, then he found a way to high five them anyway. He had been doing this for eleven hours. He was pissing me off with his blind enthusiasm and he was pissing off consumers because he was screaming at them to get in line without telling them what they were getting into line for.

“You really should tell them to make sure they have the correct buttons to scan,” I said, trying to push him without being overly condescending.
“Yeah yeah I hear you, but the agency said to get them pumped and to make sure they see as much of the event as we can! Gotta funnel ‘em in, funnel ‘em in!”

He was the worst kind of idiot: if the boss said dance, he’d dance and be the best. If the boss said yell, he’d yell and be the loudest. If the boss said, “Now make every single one of them get on their knees and wait as you make your way down the line and shoot them execution style,” he’d do it and sparkle until the very last one.

I turned my gaze back to the crowd, now doubled in size, and to the promo worker at the other line who was literally standing there and swinging their arms in front of the entrance, causing a huge traffic obstruction in the process.

“Oh my god,” I whispered, “I am surrounded by morons.”

It’s easy to become jaded over the way I make the majority of my money.
“My brain is turning to rot,” I say. I have become so paranoid about my mind. I suffered a head injury a couple of years ago and certain things haven’t been the same. Factor in a job that rarely requires any kind of critical thinking skills and constantly surrounds you with people who are absolutely fine with that and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a train wreck.

However. That is a very negative way to look at it. That’s a depressed way of looking at it.

A sane person sees promo work as a means to an end. Promo work is what keeps me out of restaurants and bars. Promo work is how I have met some truly awesome people and a great connection or two. Promo work pays the bills. Promo work makes sure that Taxi cat gets fed. Promo work is the reason that I have a limited edition Conan O’brien Celebri-duck.

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True, my venture in San Francisco ended on a sour note. However, I must remind myself that I am fortunate to be able to make ends meet by doing this.

Also let’s be honest – I do have a morbid fascination with collecting Sedaris-esque material about my jobs and my life. I also enjoy coming up with new and interesting ways to describe the world’s worst.

Silver linings.

What about you? Do you have a day job or a side hustle that you fear might rot your brain?

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San FranPSYCHO.

If you had asked me 24 hours ago how I would respond to a homeless man attacking me, I probably would have said something like,

“I’d defend the shit out of myself.”

Because what woman doesn’t want to be in control when faced with danger?

Who actually wants to admit that they don’t have incredible self defense skills? I grew up imagining that deep within my soul lived a secret ninja whose physical prowess rivaled that of the Power Rangers. Watching them every single day counted as training, right? I sure felt that way when I was seven.

Some people store visual information in such a way that it seamlessly translates to physical expression. Case in point: dancers who can watch a routine, practice it once or twice, and then perform it mark for mark. Maybe those lucky souls can watch a few episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger and master the round house kick, but I have never been so lucky.

The first fight that I remember losing happened at Emmanuel Episcopal Church. I got into a scuffle with this kid Andy – a boy whose rough and tumble disposition probably had nothing to do with the fact that his father regularly picked him up by his head. Like this, except Andy’s head obviously remained attached to his body:

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I forget how the fight started or what it was even about, but I remember that it ended when Andy slammed my head into the cement. I remember seeing a white flash and then Andy, sobbing in the corner while a small group of adults and older kids tried to get him to say what happened.

I have gotten into physical altercations off and on throughout my life, but rarely anything that called for skilled hand to hand combat. Then I took the night bus to San Francisco.

The trip was fine. I rode in the double decker MegaBus – which I totally admit to being excited about. We arrived in San Francisco at 7am and I started my short journey to the Moscone Center area on foot. A homeless man walked briskly past me and then slowed down about six feet later. He abruptly turned around, pushed me, and walked back the way he came from. He startled me, but I decided to keep walking and picked up my pace.

Then I heard loud stomping noises behind me. I turned around and there he was, too close for comfort. I stopped and looked at him. He mirrored my expression. I tried to walk around him. He blocked me. I tried to keep going. He followed even closer. Finally, I said,

“Please stop.”

He walked closer to me. I made eye contact with a passing jogger – the kind of eye contact that says, “Please. Help me.”

The jogger kept going.

The homeless guy then lunged at me, kicking my suitcase and swinging at me, saying,

“You better watch where you’re going, lady!”

I wish I could say that I didn’t start crying, but I did. I was about to push my suitcase at him and stand my ground when the jogger circled back.

“Sir!” I yelled to him.

The homeless man looked at us both before taking off down the street, his pace a bit more hurried than before.

“Are you OK?” the jogger asked me.
“Yes, thank you.”
“I’m so sorry for not stopping earlier. I couldn’t tell if you were trying to signal me or what.”
“It’s OK.”
“Where are you going?”
“The Moscone Center.”
“I think you’ll be OK, but I’ll walk you if you want.”
“No, you’re right. Thank you for coming back.”
“No problem.”

I dislike the fact that I cried, but I felt so many things at that moment. The fact that the man pushed and chased me in the first place, the fact that he felt that he could get away with assaulting me, and the fact that he only left me alone when another man got involved left me feeling shaken and stirred. San Francisco has a reputation for a gregarious homeless population. What if he had bit me? What if he had meth-strength? He couldn’t have been younger than 50, but drugs can make even a gaunt pile of flesh and bones like a jacked up teenager. What if he had managed to get a good swing in? He certainly tried.

Perhaps I should rethink that improv class and take Krav Maga instead. I know that I technically didn’t “lose” this one, but if I were put into the situation where I could possibly lose – and very, very badly – I would prefer to emerge the winner.

 

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Video: No, you are not excused.

You know. For the people who’d prefer not to read the written version.

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I started reading The Nectar Collective a couple of weeks ago. It’s a lovely blog run by a woman who taught English in Japan for a couple of years and traveled her heart out. She’s a fabulous writer and began to host a link-up every Monday called Weekly Wishes.

It’s simple: write up your wishes – the shit that you want to get done – and put it out there. The following week, you report your progress in “last week’s wishes” and you log your wishes for the upcoming week. A ton of bloggers participate and it seems like a good way to cheer your fellow bloggers on.

Seeing as how I would like to work on my own motivation, I’ve decided to partake!

The Nectar Collective

______________________________
last week’s wishes
______________________________

This is my first week.

______________________________
this week’s wishes
______________________________

1. Go to the Samuel French store and find at least three plays that contain suitable scenes for workshops.

2. Finish Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris.

3. Pre-write two more blog entries so that I can keep content going while I’m busy working Dreamforce and the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.

4. Take the time to enjoy being with my friend Anna and her new husband, who booked the Dreamforce convention with me. We will be working such long days in addition to rooming together and I want to make sure that we have time to have fun and socialize in addition to supporting ourselves.

5. See that damn Golden Gate Bridge. I have worked so many events in the bay area and it’s just hateful that I haven’t made it over that way yet.

What about you? What would you like to get done this week?

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No. No, we are not excused.

I recently attended a wedding where the bride and the groom fought significantly during the weeks that led up to the ceremony. I assume that this happens to all about-to-be-weds, but I don’t know many married people on a personal level and my general experience with weddings leaves much to be desired. I’ve only been to two since legally becoming an adult.

The fighting culminated in a phone call where the groom laid out all of the reasons he felt that the marriage wouldn’t work. From my understanding, he felt that the bride took advantage of him and took him for granted. He felt that his efforts to build a life with her and provide for her went largely under-appreciated.

The next part blew my mind.

“But I laid out all of my problems and baggage when we first started dating,” the bride exclaimed, “Why is this happening?”

Quite the loaded statement/question combo.

Similarly, many of the women in the Super Secret Girl Club, a closed Facebook group that I joined in an effort to become more in-tune with “LA girl culture,” frequently make epic posts that flaunt similar quandaries.

Some of my favorites include:

“I told him I had a problem with lying,” said one girl who consistently lies to her partner about silly shit, “but he’s the one who chose to stay with me!”

“He knows that I have been cheated on before. He shouldn’t be so surprised that I have trouble trusting him,” said a girl who looks through her partner’s phone on the regular.

“I told him that I have issues with overspending,” cried one woman with horrendous credit, “so why is he pretending like it’s this new problem?”

I’m not excused from wanting to be excused, either. I have been known to think things like, “They knew that I have issues with depression…  so why won’t they stick around?”

Quite the loaded statement/question combinations.

Instead of transferring the blame of our own shortcomings to the ones who refuse to indulge them, why don’t we ponder the following: you don’t get a free pass just because you alert your partner to your emotional baggage and bad behavioral patterns. It doesn’t make you a better partner and grant you a pardon from the negative things that you do. In fact, it makes you a worse partner because you are aware that your issues negatively effect those around you and, yet, you fail (or refuse, take your pick) to do anything about it.

Sometimes I feel like the saying, “Love yourself, the good and the bad,” gets thrown around a bit more than it should. It hurts people more than it helps.

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People should absolutely love and accept themselves. Confidence is one of many key ingredients to a satisfying life. That said, I feel that a person can over-accept themselves. They say, “Here I am, the good and the bad!” when they should really say, “Here I am! The good – and the parts that I am working on!”

Not once did I hear the bride say, “But I am actively putting forth the effort into eliminating these destructive habits from my life and my relationship.”

Never did the girls from the secret group say that they were trying to improve upon themselves and their flaws. The “us” that should be implicit in every relationship was reduced to a resounding “me, me me!”

There’s no “us” in “me.” Friendships, relationships, any kind of ship that involves two or more people will fail when one person expects the world to bend over backwards to work around their individual problems.

And really, when it’s all about us and how others can accommodate our flaws, I fail to see how trouble can be surprising.

We have got to stop acting so surprised that the crappy things that we know we do – and continue to do – affect our lives in such a horrible way. Instead, let us actually do something about it.

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See-sea-seattle.

I think I first wanted to visit Seattle when I saw that Dr. Evil’s headquarters in The Spy Who Shagged Me resided in a Starbucks atop the Space Needle.

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The motives of a small child are pure indeed.

Since my moratorium on waiting tables to support my habit, I have gotten by any which way I possibly can: promoting brands and products, subtitling obscure Jeff Daniels films, subtitling in general, and assembling and disassembling photobooths for all kinds of events.

I am very fortunate to live in a world where everyone wants to take their photo and blast it out on the internet, particularly fashionable women, middle school aged girls, guys in high school who play football, and guys who work at tech start ups that drink their weight in free bourbon at holiday parties. It is because of these people that my favorite side hustle, The Photobooth, thrives.

The company that I work for sends their photobooths all over the world. Because of them, I have been able to visit Dallas, the outskirts of Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, and now Seattle. They were so kind as to schedule my flight back to LA at 8:30pm the day after the event to give me enough time to explore some of the city.

Also noteworthy of the trip: I got to hang out with Tony Gasparetti – AFTER ELEVEN BILLION YEARS. Not really eleven billion, but a long, long time. Tony and I went to elementary school together in Georgia. I had piss poor social skills as a child, but I remember Tony being very easy to communicate with and he and his friend, Tyler, would let me play with them during recess. Also, his mother was always so nice to me whenever she was at the school. Tyler stayed in Georgia and grew into a person who would fit in well with the Westboro Baptist Church, but Tony moved around the country with his family until they settled in Seattle, Washington. He now works in video production with a cluster of friends. I had searched for him and Tyler on Facebook out of a random curiosity to see what happened to them. As it turned out, he remembered me as well and we would chit chat periodically. Naturally, I hit him up when I landed in Seattle and he and a friend of his met me for a late night dinner and drink after my event.

This is Tony. We went to elementary school together.

Tony!

I really want to find our third grade teacher and show this picture to her! She would love it. Mrs. Smith was always so patient with creative kids.

This morning I woke up and set off the explore as much of the city as I could by foot. I walked to Fremont  district to downtown to Ada’s Technical Bookstore (where I am writing this). I’m about to hop a bus to downtown and take a quick stroll through the market before catching the train to the airport, but I do want to show you this sick picture that a couple of ladies were kind enough to take for me:

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No one side-hustles like me.

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I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for the past month and a half, but I promise I have good reasons. I really do know fantastic people.

My significant other wrote and directed a feature and his fellow graduates from Florida State University rallied and helped knock out principle photography in seven days. Seven long, sweltering, tiring days – but seven amazing days. I feel like I have a better understanding of why so many of them stuck together after grad school, even after they trickled into Los Angeles one by one.

Even more amazing than the fact that shoot went as well as any of us could have hoped for was the fact that we came in under budget. That’s quite a feat when you consider that the budget was a mere $3,800 dollars.

Yeah. $3,800. To shoot a feature. A feature that will clock in at 70 – 75 minutes and look like it cost way more than that. And we came in under budget because our producer was just that good.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 9.19.33 AMA mock-up poster from the look book that we sent out to people
when we were originally gathering funding.

We were able to shoot so cheaply for a number of reasons. Dustin and Corey (writer/director and writer, respectively) planned the script around locations we knew we could get free access to. We shot for a day and a half on top of a small mountain-hill in El Soreno (below) in the Los Angeles heat. Our producer ran around with ice packs and held them to the backs of our necks so that the cold might circulate throughout our body faster.

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Producer George would drive his superior off-roading vehicle, a 2000 Buick Convertible, up the mountain with water and crafty. Kyle drove a truck full of as much equipment as he could fit. Both wore the hats I gave them all week.

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DP Devin still carted the camera and much of his equipment up the mini-mountain in a red wagon, though. Respect.

We shot a significant chunk in our respective apartments. If you thought the idea of shooting on top of a hill in the LA summer was bad, check this: I live in a studio that would be luxury sized by San Francisco standards, but it’s still a tight fit when you stuff it with 8-10 people, light stands, sliders, and high-powered lighting equipment. If there exists a word besides “love” that describes people who are willing to work in a small, enclosed, PIPING HOT space for 10+ hours to make sure that their friend’s movie happens, then I don’t know it.

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Our DP owns the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, a wonderful little piece of equipment that produces an image that looks like 16mm film (below.)

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Dem dailies, tho!

Oh, our DP is just the sweetest guy in the world and I assume that everyone who works with him wants to give him things and shower him with gifts. Case in point, of the key grips from Shameless, his main paycheck show, heard he was making a movie and offered to lend us almost ALL of the light stands and other equipment.

It also helped when most of the cast agreed to work for a minimal day rate – if that. A couple of us worked for back-end only. The best part? We get to have our wrap party at The Magic Castle when we finish pick-ups. One of our actors/producers used to teach at FSU and now sits on the Magic Castle board. He’s pretty fantastic.

In other news, I found out that I am a finalist for this year’s Sundance Lab. I received an email in early September from a woman who works at the Institute saying that she had noticed that I hadn’t touched my application. Apparently they still wanted to consider my script.

I replied saying that I had no idea I was even being considered and that I had received no e-mails or letters regarding the Lab since I first submitted in June. I also tried to log into my account and found that my email had been cleared out of the system.

Apparently there was a glitch. They had originally sent out my letter in August, but I never received it. She then included my original offer to submit the full script and said they were extending my deadline to the 15th of September. How awesome is that?

So I holed up for two weeks and worked on nothing except the script. I don’t expect much to come of it beyond this point, but I welcome any and all challenges. When I submitted, my goal was to get them to ask for more – and they did. For those of you who know me and what this past year has been like creatively/mentally, this was huge. Anything beyond this point is extra. And I’m ready to hit the ground running.

Blammo.

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Post-It! Comics: The Secret Club of GIRLS.

Sometimes, when I’m temping at an office that doesn’t give me busy work to do, I spend my time wisely and work on my serious writing projects that I will hopefully use to further my career.

Other times I make comics out of Post-Its.

photo 3

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Maybe it’s just the times that are changing, but since I moved to Los Angeles, I find myself surrounded more and more by women who repeatedly date the most ridiculous men and then complain to other women about how “there are no good men.” Women will post their horrendous experiences with their men online and say things like, “I know he loved me,” or “He’s acting this way because he’s hurt but I know he loves me,” or some variation thereof. Not so hidden in the details, however, are blatant indicators that these guys never were good news. So here are some helpful tips and hints for ladies who seem to have trouble distinguishing between sketchy males and not sketchy males:

1. If he, in a serious manner, uses the words “friend” and “zone” in this order: “friend zone,” do not date him. If you have to question whether or not he is serious, forget it. Not worth it. Ain’t nobody got time for this jacked nonsense when there are plenty of good men out there who’ll say, “WTF Friend zone whaaaaat?”

2. If he regularly gets a table and orders bottle service and has a ton of girls all up in his business at clubs or makes it “rain” ANYWHERE, do not date him. I mean, I get that people have money, but I don’t understand those practices. Also, I have never met a person that threw singles and shots of Grey Goose at me that made a great impression. I wouldn’t date him.

2a. If he dances behind you and presses his body against yours without permission and you can feel his penis, do not date him. Also: rude. Also, ew. You may think it’s like this:

oldmaninclub But I personally think that it’s more like this:

 Either way, both suck.

3. If he got a big boy job and the first thing he did was buy an expensive car without proving that he could keep said big boy job, do not date him. Who the hell buys a car without knowing they have the financial ability to keep it for more than the time being? Not someone you want to date, that’s for damn sure. bmw
4. If he insists that white/hetero privilege or “the 1%” aren’t “a thing,” do not date him.

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5. If he calls casually women “bitches,” do not date him. If he thinks that pictures like this are funny, do not date him.

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6. If he calls you “baby,” or any other super familiar term and there’s no way you know each other well enough to warrant those names, do not date him.


7. If his friends are douchebags, do not date him – even if it seems like he’s not a douchebag. Sorry not sorry; he’s probably a douchebag.

douchebags
8. If he laughs at your accomplishments and says things like, “That’s so cute,” then do not date him.


9. If he gives you the “uh oh” feeling, at all, then do not date him.


I think that this is pretty simple. Indicators and clues are real things. I find that there is a higher ratio of douchebags to these telling details. Besides, I personally feel like you’re more likely to find someone with a heart of gold OUTSIDE Supper Club than inside and you’re more likely to find someone you can engage in a meaningful relationship based on common interests and mutual trust out there in the real world than in the LA party scene.

Seriously. These dudes are only good for hook-ups – if even that. Remember: just because he looks good and you guys danced together while one or both of you both were wasted, you don’t OWE him anything. Just because you guys are hooking up or have hooked up, you don’t OWE him anything. There is no need to keep that going for any extended amount of time unless you really want to and have nothing or no one else better going on. Chances are he can’t connect or communicate well enough to sustain anything remotely worthy of your time. (Or fuck well.)

Feel free to add your two cents.

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Headshot prettiness, everyone.

I recently had some new headsots taken with a wonderful, wonderful lady named Joanna DeGeneres. She loves showtunes and takes fantastic photographs and I had an absolute blast shooting with her. I tend to photograph on the serious side and she definitely pulled some warmth, smiles, and general goofiness out of me. If you’re in LA, I highly recommend her. She’s got the mad skillz.

To see all of the picks, head over the the ACTORING page!

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