Heavy heart.

The tests came back and Taxi has progressed large cell lymphoma. It’s a malignant, terminal cancer. He is just three years old and doesn’t have feline leukemia. It doesn’t make any sense.

I am devastated. Taxi is one of the things that I love most. He has such a personality and has become such a huge part of my identity.

“Tell me the three most interesting things about yourself,” someone once said to me. I’m pretty sure that I replied,
“Well, for starters, I have a cat the size of a small Shetland pony.”
I love how I offered up my cat instead of a so-very-catching detail about myself. It was a good answer, but it was also my way of saying, “Why the fuck are you asking me this ridiculous question?”

I don’t know if any of you have issues with depression, but I have days where I don’t see the point in anything anymore. Then I think, “Well… Taxi needs me.”

I cry at random points in the day. I cried at the vet when I went to go pay for the test that would, essentially, reaffirm what we already knew. They gave me tissues and a cup of water and told me how sorry they were. They gave me pills to make him eat and, for now, they are working. The pills will run out, though, and he will stop eating and drinking as he becomes more and more sick. He has already stopped playing and chooses to rest in his cat carrier or in a secluded area of the apartment, coming out only to snuggle while D and I watch television or just to sit with me.

I cannot afford chemotherapy. It’s around $1,000 a month. Chemotherapy isn’t administered to animals to eradicate the cancer; rather, it is administered to prolong and improve the quality of life. The cancer always comes back. In a cat where the cancer has grown as fast and furiously as it has in Taxi, the treatment would only prolong his life by about four months.

The day is fast approaching where I will have to make the call to end his suffering or wait it out until he passes on his own.

I don’t know what to think right now. I’m making him as comfortable as I can and just loving him as much as I possibly can while I still have him.

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 12.30.53 PM

2 comments

Taxi Cat might be very sick.

Right now, Dustin is waiting in the lobby of Taxi’s vet waiting to see if he has a virus – or if he has cancer. A few days ago I noticed that he was eating significantly less. Then he tried to eat litter. His coat started to look a little lackluster and his overall energy level seemed lower. I did a little bit of digging and found the best possible vet that I could afford.

I was not expecting, “He’s got a virus or cancer.”

I thought that it might be anemia or blockage of some sort, but no, apparently my sweet Taxi boy might have a tumor. A virus doesn’t make much sense because he is strictly an indoor cat and I don’t really hang out with other animals too often.

t1

He is one of the best parts about Los Angeles and he is way, way too young to have cancer.

t2

The vet bill was $400. Hopefully I can apply for Care Credit and they will work with me. According to my research, they’re the best. I’ll tell you what, though. I feel way better about my $400 going toward Taxi’s health than to fucking Casting Networks or Actors Access.

Dustin said that he was so good at the vet and that he made a lot of new fans.

Please keep my fuzzy butt face in your thoughts. I love him so much.

t3

4 comments

I promised myself less Actor Rants. They just make it easy to foster negativity and, let’s be real: nobody actually cares. That said, I have kept said promise to myself as of late, so I’m going to grant myself a teeny weeny pass for this one.

Because Casting Networks, the second of the two largest online breakdown distribution systems, just raised the price to upload a head shot by ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

Let me first tell you why it’s necessary to have multiple head shots and why this absurd price hike pisses me off so damn much.

The internet has made it ridiculously easy for 1000’s of actors to submit on a single breakdown. Let’s say Casting Director X needs to figure out who to bring in for a Blue Cross Blue Shield commercial by 5pm. The client wants a “Well Meaning Nurse” and a “Drug Addled Runaway.” The only specification given to them by the client was “Female.”

Now, assuming that they make the breakdown open, which they sometimes do, this means they will most likely receive head shots from 10,000 + female actors of all races, ages, and body types. Hell, even if they make the breakdown accessible exclusively to agents, they still receive a huge number of submissions. They don’t have the time to look at your two basic head shots and wonder if you would look good as a well meaning nurse or a drug addled runaway. You need a head shot that makes it almost offensively clear that you can be what they want. I hope I’m not too out of line with this statement, but I think that imagination is a luxury in today’s casting industry – especially commercials.

I need a head shot that says I can be the friendly Best Buy/Pet Smart/AT&T employee. I need another head shot that says “People want to have vampire sex with me, I promise!” I need another head shot that says I can be a Young Mom/Nurse/Teacher. I need a head shot that supports my claim that I actually run on the regular (I do. Promise.) I need a head shot that says I live in Silverlake, raise chickens, and listen to musicians that only three other people have heard of.

I need these head shots posted on my LA Casting and Actors Access accounts.

A head shot session with a good photographer and makeup artist is around $400-$900 dollars by the time everything is said and done.

How much is it to upload 5-6 distinct looks onto your LA casting profile? I thought it was bad when the first picture was $15 and each additional photo was $25. Now the price is $25 for the first picture and $30 for each additional picture.

That’s around two hundred dollars just to have some pictures on your profile. That’s more than a third of what it cost to take the photos in the first place.

Capture

Casting Networks, Inc. is a private company with under 200 employees. It’s run out of an office on Wilshire Blvd. It’s a website. I find it difficult to believe that a 100% increase on the price to put a low-res version of your head shot on your profile is necessary. I get a charging fee. I do. What I do not get is charging a thirty dollar fee to post a photograph.

The average actor is poor. The diligent average actor puts nearly all of their spare money towards acting class, improv class, head shot prints, producing their own material, going to casting director and agent workshops for $40+ bucks a pop and crossing their fingers that the person they are paying to see actually intends to bring people in and not just make some quick cash, and keeping their online profiles current so that, God willing, they have a photo that corresponds to a breakdown that fits them.

And I know you’re probably thinking, “Tough luck. You’re the one who wanted to be an actress. This is the price of wanting that career.”

And deep down I know you’re probably right.

But ugh. Just ugh. The separate industry of making money off of actors pisses me off so damn much. 

1 comment

One of my first real memories happened in the Emmanuel Episcopal Church nursery. I was almost four. My mother had just dropped me off and was on her way out to “Big Church” when I walked over with one of the baby dolls and said,

“I have one of chocolate babies.” 

It still makes me cringe a little. Then I remember that I was four and had no real context for, well, anything. But boy, oh boy; did Gloria Sams then give me some context. In my mind, this was the look on her face:

“Excuse me?” she asked. Her brow furrowed and she lowered herself to my level, a position she frequently took when deciding whether or not to administer a spanking.
“Would you like it if I said, “This is Jas and she’s a vanilla baby?”
Again, I want to reiterate that while four year old me did not quite understand what was actually so terrible about being associated with a flavoring, but I did understand that I had done something bad by my mother’s tone, so I replied,
“No.”
“And why do you think that is?”
“Because… I am not ice cream.”
Mom paused for short, internal debate over whether or not this answer was something she’d be OK with. I think at this point I started to cry because the pressure was too much.
“Yes, but also because it’s rude. It’s not nice. People come in all colors and shapes. It is very rude for you to say that the baby doll is chocolate colored. The baby dolls are baby dolls. Do you understand?”
I nodded and went to join the other girls. I filed my experience away under “Things That Made My Mother Instill the Fear of God In Me” and there were no more issues concerning the baby dolls of color.

Then, some years later, the American Girls happened.

My mother always had a thing for American Girl dolls. This was back when American Girl was still a free catalog that came in the mail once a month. Back then American Girl was all about making history fun, so each doll came from a specific era that children studied in school. Each one had a set of books that highlighted the trials and tribulations of growing up in their respective time periods.  Mom loved them and she really wanted my sister and me to share her love. She talked them up, particularly Molly and Samantha; probably because she likes Samantha’s clothes and Molly’s glasses. Don’t ask me to explain to explain the psychology behind the attraction between full sized humans and dolls with their tiny, tiny accessories.

g

In the months leading up to Christmas, Mom began to hint that Santa might bring an American Girl doll on Christmas morning. She began to bring up the dolls in conversation to get a feel for which one I might want. We were on our way to get Christmas photos taken at the mall when she asked,
“So which American Girl doll are you going to ask Santa for?”
“Addy.”

I could tell by the lengthy pause that my answer surprised her. American Girl dolls were pricey and the fact that I was getting one was a big deal; she wanted to make sure that I would actually play with it. Girls tended to want dolls that look like them. In other words, it seemed unnatural for me to want the black American Girl.  Though my mother would never use those words exactly, she did ask me on a couple of different occasions,
“Why is it that you want Addy?”

My answer was a less eloquent version of the following:

I was an avid reader. By the time mom asked me which doll I wanted, I had checked out and read most of the American Girl books from my school’s library. Addy’s story was, hands down, the most complex and the most emotionally driven, though back then I simply said, “Hers is the best one.”

I’ll break down the options for you:

In Meet Samantha, Samantha’s biggest struggle is whether or not she will have petite fours at her birthday party. She also has to come to terms with the fact some some people take milk with their tea. For some reason, the fact that some people put milk in their tea really bothers her.

In Meet Molly, Molly sits at the dinner table for hours because she refuses to eat yams. In the end, her mother relents and uses some of the spare cinnamon, which is rationed because they’re in the middle of World War II, to get her to stop bitching and eat her supper.

Got it? Now get ready, because Meet Addy starts with:

A) Addy recalling the time when she had to watch a plantation owner whip her older brother until he bled;
B) Addy’s father and brother getting sold to another plantation;
C) Addy being forced-fed worms after she overlooks a few of the crops since she can’t focus because, oh, her father was just sold and she may never see him again.

This is all in the first chapter. The book really gets going when Addy and her mother must leave her baby sister with relatives on the plantation so they can run away. They forge a river, take shelter with people that they have no idea if they can truly trust, and Addy even has to masquerade as a boy in the middle of a Confederate campsite. This is one of the original illustrations depicting part of their journey:

For a children’s book, this is some next level shit. With all of this in mind, I concluded that Addy was the ultimate American Girl.

“People might ask you why you picked her,” Mom warned me, “Are you sure she is the one you want?”
“Yup,” I replied.

On Christmas morning, Addy sat under the tree and I lost my shit. I was so excited. I brought her everywhere and played with her all the time. I read all of the books. A couple of children did ask my why I had her, but I told them the same thing I told my mother.

That’s what I like about children. Children don’t know racism unless you introduce it to them. Children can eyeball basic differences like skin color, but unlike adults who have been influenced by society and racism, children tend to ask questions rather than make assumptions. When a child asks why people have different colored skin, you can say, “Because people come in different colors and shapes, but it doesn’t matter what color they are because people are still people,” and it’s that simple. That’s the answer. That’s all they need.

There was a period in my life where I was terribly influenced by racism. If you’ve read Smile Big and Pretty recently, perhaps you remember this entry about the enduring effects of an abusive relationship. The man from that piece was not only offensively misogynist, but he was blatantly and just as offensively racist. Shaking off his influence after I left was a complicated, messy process. It’s embarrassing and I hate acknowledging it, so I won’t go into vivid detail. I will say this: one of the best things about having parents who put effort into making sure that you didn’t grow up to be a hateful, racist toolbag is the foundation that they gave you. You can fall back onto it if you lose your way.

I’m so grateful that Mom called me out in the nursery.

I’m grateful that she was down to let me pick Addy.

I’m incredibly grateful that in doing those things, she helped provide me with a foundation to hold onto when I wanted to be the kind of adult that the seven year old, Addy toting me would have been OK with growing into.

6 comments

VIDEO: Imaginary (Best) Friends.

So I want to share this film with you. My talented friends Anna Fleiss and Gary Sundt not only came up with this idea in the last 72 hours, but executed it in just as much time. I had so much fun working on this with them and hope to work with them on all the things they ever thing the thing to again. Check-chk-chk it.

1 comment

This past new year, a chunk of the populace donned flashy dresses and dapper digs and partied until it was 2015. Me? I took pictures of them.

I put on my black “just in case something nice comes up” dress and I would have worn some heels, but mine broke. So I used tap shoes without the taps and told myself that it would be a great story later.

D came to help me set up because the client only allotted one hour before go-time. And also because he’s a stand up guy.

My favorite part of set-up is testing out the kiosk to make sure it’s taking the pictures and e-mailing the files. You can take a picture of yourself and say, “Oh, it’s for work,” instead of not saying, “Oh, it’s for me. Because IT’S ALL FOR ME ALL THE TIME.”

Also, it’s pretty much the only reason that D and I have any pictures together.

jas 1

Once the event officially starts, I must get as many attendees to take pictures at the kiosk as humanly possible. I could walk up to people and demand that they stop by, but most of the time I just cycle through a few sessions on my own. People see someone make a wacky face in front of a camera and they can’t help themselves. They must do it. 

NOTE: The following is comprised of experiences collected from countless, different events and does not necessarily pertain to the actual event that I worked this past New Years Eve.

One of my favorite things about this particular side hustle: it gives me a front row seat to the raw, unhinged side of “civilized” society. I once saw a woman beat her husband over the head with her handbag because he kept making a silly face in their picture. Have you ever seen a girl yell at another girl because she’s tired of waiting her turn? Have you ever seen someone burst into tears because they feel that their selfie didn’t turn out like a Vanity Fair cover despite the fact that they tried every pose known to humankind? Have you ever seen a combination of BOTH of these scenarios culminate in a brawl?

Yes, photo booths have the potential bring out the cage fighter in all of us. Please believe me when I saw that I have witnessed people fight each other over the following props, which I will model for you since most people get way too drunk to remember how they gave me permission to use their photos.

Rabbit ears.

jas3

 

Top hats.
jas4

 

The the Face Feather Mask Thing on a Stick.

jas5

Out of these battles will emerge a victor, but only sometimes. As is the case with most fights that shouldn’t happen in the first place, there are rarely winners; only smudges of mascara and the sound of lessons being locked away behind the door labeled, “Demons to Confront When I Get Around to It.”

The Dark Side of Humanity is only my second favorite part of the job. First place goes to the friends, individuals, and couples that take fun pictures and have an awesome time.

jas2

0 comments

sams

12/24/2014 – Jas Sams of Los Angeles, CA switched the privacy settings surrounding her birth date on Facebook from Public to Private.

Sams, whose birthday happened on the 27th, said, “This girl kept saying, ‘If I don’t get at least 100 people to tell me Happy Birthday on my wall… I’ll die. I’ll just die.’ It was just awkward since she seemed to be in otherwise fine health.”

Things progressed when a banker at Finance Capital, where Sams occasionally works as a temp, refused to share leftover office party cake. He cited an utter lack of well wishes on his Facebook wall as the reason behind his decision. When asked for comment, the banker confirmed his devastation: “Two hundred people is f—–g nothing. Yeah, I took the cake. I deserved at least something on my birthday.”

Sams claims the breaking point occurred after she witnessed a group throw themselves in front of the Red Line after what they deemed to be “not enough people” sent them birthday wishes over the popular social media site.

“It was so weird,” said Sams, as Metro employees cleared the splattered remains from the tracks, the walls, the platform, the survivors, the wiring, the train, the advertisements, the PSA boards, and the trash bins.
“I said I was taking off my birthday entirely and they were shocked. They said I was being pretty drastic.”

Sams thinks she made a good call: “After a few hours went by and I didn’t feel any different, I realized it wasn’t Facebook messages or wall posts that I cared about. It was money.”

When asked if she had plans for her birthday, Sams replied, “Well, Greg from accounting just had his 5 year anniversary luncheon. I think I’ll probably eat the leftover cake and just hope that banker’s done being a d-ck.”

newspaper

 

2 comments

I was supposed to go back to the east coast this holiday season. My significant other and I had planned to meet each other’s families. I intended to present him to my mom and dad and say, “Look. See. This is the person who has managed to not make me sigh of indifference or fear for my life.”
And my parents would say something like,
“Oh, thank God!”

I haven’t met anyone’s family in quite a long time. My dating style consistently sticks to the following pattern:

1. Jump all in.
2. Hang around for a year or so at most.
4. Jump all out.

It was a vicious, constant cycle. This accurately sums up me in most of my past relationships:

jd1

I partially attribute this to an abusive relationship when I was 18.

I graduated high school, went off to college, and immediately started dating someone embarrassingly older than me. He was the sort of man who limited my visits home. He cornered me into ending most of my friendships and cut me off from people in general. He insisted on “total transparency,” which is code for “Tell me every single thing about your day, or I swear to God, we will sit here for three hours until I feel satisfied that you didn’t tempt another man to look upon you.”

He obsessed over his ex girlfriend to the tune of several times a day. He consistently talked down to me. He forced me to quit jobs so that my funds and income were extremely limited. Not only did he find it acceptable to hit women, but he thought that women secretly enjoyed being hit, saying things like, “It’s all for you,” on more than one occasion. He never went ballistic because he got carried away; he went ballistic because apparently I needed him to. That was how he saw it.

After a year and a half, I got it together enough to ask for help from my family and the friends I had managed to not alienate. I packed a small bag and, after one last confrontation during which I told him that I was leaving, I drove home. I was supposed to fly north with him for the holidays the next morning. Instead, I drove back with two friends and moved all of my stuff out of his house. With the exception of a frightening drive home when we passed each other on the road, I have not seen or had any contact with him since. I got out, but not before I almost gave up or lost everything.

It would be nice if I could say, “… and then it was all over and everything turned back to normal and I was completely fine!”

Discussions around domestic abuse tend to focus on the aspect of leaving. You don’t hear as much about the aftermath, but it exists and it’s ugly.  Nobody becomes magically “all better” just because they get out. Your brain was basically re-programmed over an extended period of time. You can’t just undo that. Getting out is only the beginning of a long and arduous healing process.

Leaving doesn’t make you a saint. It doesn’t make you a strong, impenetrable beacon of goodness, strength, and hope. Leaving just gets you out.

No one tells you that your judge of character becomes severely compromised while you’re in an abusive or very controlling relationship. When you get out, all you want is friends and to be around people. You can now interact with everyone you weren’t allowed to before. So you do – with whoever will tolerate you, regardless of their character.

No one warns you about the onslaught of panic attacks and the countless triggers that you didn’t know existed. No one tells you how good you will become at excusing yourself before you make a spectacle – or the weird tricks you learn to taper your anxiety. There’s also no way for you to know that sometimes you won’t make it completely out of eyesight or ear shot before you hyperventilate or break out.

No one talks about the selfishness you experience because you can finally be selfish. You wreak havoc on yourself and everyone around you because of it. You might rekindle a good number of the relationships you lost, but then you alienate them all over again because you understandably want to act out, have fun, and do everything you can to avoid thinking about what you have experienced. That or forget it entirely, even if it’s only temporary.

No one talks about the embarrassing things you do in the name of your new found freedom. You feel robbed of time and experiences and you desperately want to catch up. You want to be able to identify with your friends and other people who have led normal lives during a time of significant growth and change. So you party. You hook up with people. You try to do as much as you can as fast as you can. You are ridiculous.

No one warns you that you are about to do and say a lot of stupid, hurtful things.

At first you get a small grace period to adjust where people will look past your foolishness and your mistakes, but a small grace period is just not enough time to deal with the onslaught of psychological fallout.

That brings me to the element of shame. You feel ashamed that you allowed yourself to get into a situation like that in the first place, you feel ashamed that you didn’t leave sooner, you feel ashamed that you turned into a crazy person when it was over, and you feel ashamed because you have difficulty relating to other people. Eventually, you constantly feel ashamed just because.

No one ever tells you that you will probably deal with these things for years after you leave. Your feelings and instincts regarding relationships have quite possibly been changed forever.

I never went to therapy for a couple of reasons. For one, I could not afford it. For another, I refused to admit that I needed it. I just blundered around my life and wasted time and took no care in bettering myself. I just festered. I made excuses for myself. I took no initiative to repair any of the damage. This carried over into the relationships that I entered into.

I don’t want to throw around specific periods of time, but this past November marked a significant anniversary of me leaving. I felt like enough time had passed that I should have eliminated every single remnant of him. Yet, when an old friend who I have known since before, during, and after the situation came to visit, I couldn’t help but talk about it. It continues to impact my life. There is not one day that goes by where I don’t think about it.

I sometimes wonder if I would have been better at picking partners if I had never experienced that situation. In the years that followed, I picked partners whose goals didn’t match up with mine. I often picked partners who were clinically depressed – a terrible idea when you, yourself, are also depressed. I dated people who lacked motivation.

Oddly enough, I also found myself strangely attracted to people who displayed the same suspicious, manipulative characteristics as the crazy man from years prior. I once dated someone who could not move past the fact that I had a bunch of guy friends. They had trouble understanding that my friends were more like actual brothers and less like actual brothers that I wanted to have sex with. To him and many others, if I place myself in the company of men, I must want them to screw -me.

I dress like this most of the time.

I’m not wearing this beanie and flannel because I need my friends to give me their undivided sexual attention. I don’t flounce around and sit on people’s laps or talk in a baby voice. I hate getting picked up. I don’t want them to want to screw me, so lay off.

I once dated someone who told me, “The only reason you want to go dancing with your friends is so men will hit on you.”

It’s a far cry from playing whack-a-mole with my face, yes. It is common, yes. However, this idea that we must want to get hit on if we choose to go out with our own kind (women) and have fun (dancing) is indicative of a controlling and predatory nature that affects much of the male population. It doesn’t need to be dangerous; for me, having experienced what I have experienced, it is unacceptable.

Sometimes there would be nothing wrong with them at all; I simply could not be in a relationship without feeling stifled. However, I digress: what I’m saying is I’d hang around and have fun until it wasn’t fun anymore. Then I’d realize the following: I had not grown as a person, I had made no significant progress with my career, and I felt trapped in yet another relationship. I’d simmer in my own self pity for a period of time. Sometimes I’d make shitty decisions. Always I’d leave.

It went that way for a long time. I have wanted to explain to people. I feel judged all the time. I feel like people think that I’m weird, depressed, or difficult. I want to say, “If you had any idea at all,” but I don’t for a couple of reasons.

For one, it’s how people as a majority react to a revelation of abuse. People don’t want to hear about it. The word “abuse” triggers an eye roll and an accompanying thought like, “Oh my god, not this again.”
Either that or it’s this fashionable cause to get loud about – something that you can post a few articles about on Facebook and then pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Sometimes I feel like the only people who are ever going to truly get it are the ones who have actually been there.

For another, there’s the aforementioned shame factor; the idea that you shouldn’t be the way you are in the first place, that it doesn’t matter that anything happened to you, and that you are weak for even giving this issue the time of day after so much time has passed.

I recently took well over a year off from relationships. Well, serious ones. I tried the whole “casual” thing that the kids are doing these days.  I believe they call it hanging out. Except hanging out is dumb. You essentially spend time with someone you don’t know if you could ever be serious with who has no idea if they could ever serious with you. You sit and kind of enjoy each other’s company for a while, but the stale conversation and lack of momentum build up and, ultimately, you find yourself with your head in your hands as you stare at the table and mutter, “What exactly is the point of all of this, again?”

Which, if you’re into hook-up culture, is fine. I’m not into hook-up culture, though. It’s unsatisfying. There’s no requirement for a real beginning or a real end; things taper off or fizzle out and I hate the uncertainty. I like the idea of relationships. It’s just that I forgot how to be good in them. I forgot that they are supposed be quite wonderful. I became engulfed in the failures of my own and the failures that I constantly felt surrounded by. Divorce, break-ups, couples that hate each other, or people who resent or will resent the sacrifices they have made for their relationship practically ooze out of our society. That last one especially strikes a cord with me: I have to deal with the fact that, on some level, I still think that relationships are traps.

I want to make this clear: as of right now, I think that my relationship with D is great.

I was friends with D for a while before we started dating. After it became apparent that we were into each other, I said no to dating. He had been with his previous girlfriend for over five years. Something that significant can’t end without producing emotional baggage – which I didn’t want to deal with.
“You were in your last relationship for how long? Over five years? Oh, no no no. You need to chill out.”

Fast forward: we actually make a good couple. We can talk openly about nearly anything. D has seen the inside of the toilet after I forget to flush and he still wants to be with me – that’s saying something. He knows that I’m great with children but completely and totally respects that fact that I do not want to be a mother. I never have to worry about him becoming upset if I want to be alone or with my friends or make new friends. We joke and talk openly about attractions to other people that we experience. I tell him when I think he’s being an ass and he tells me when I’m being a crazy person. He is ridiculously helpful. We are both poor, but I’m not really dating someone to be taken care of, so that aspect doesn’t bother me.

I’d rather not screw it all up because of my pent up issues from something that happened years ago. But I’d also like to stop feeling like every single relationship that I enter into is stopping me from other things. It’s difficult to write, network, make friends in the improv community, and create your own projects when you have a significant other that you spend the majority of your time with.

Then again, maybe that’s how I have conditioned myself to feel about relationships. D doesn’t stop me from doing anything; he encourages me to do anything I can think of. The only reason I even submitted something to the Sundance Lab was because he hounded and hounded me until I did it.

The relationships never stopped me; I stopped me. I can’t let that kind of negativity control my professional and personal life. I can’t continue to blame it on other people, especially if I’m surrounded by people who want to see me succeed.

How do you go from feeling weighed down, cloudy, and anxious to feeling motivated, clear headed, and excited? I want to make a New Year’s Resolution, but to say, “I promise myself I’m going to do better!” with no real idea how to actually do it – well, it seems pathetic. How do I feel confident in a relationship and feel confident as a person and a performer at the same time?

So let’s just start here: I’m with someone who I get along with and supports me in what I want to do. When I say, “I want to go to shows or get to know people well enough to work with them on an improv team,” he says, “Yes! Do it! I absolutely support you.”

What’s in the past is in the past. I’ve wasted so much time worrying about the past and how the past has affected my life. I’m the one who affects my life. I have a feeling that if I could see a therapist, they would tell me something similar.

“Sorry that some guy slapped you around and screwed with your head A MILLION YEARS AGO, Jas. However, it’s time to make a concerted effort to let it all go. You’re the only one holding yourself back at this point.”

They would be right. To give myself a little credit, I’ve come a long way. I just know that I can go a lot further.

 

11 comments

Office Laps (The Christmas Temp.)

I am spending Christmas at an Office.

I’m not in this picture because temps don’t deserve to be in pictures.

My temp agency understands my need for flexibility and, as such, rarely sends me anywhere that needs a temp for more than a day at a time. Occasionally, however, the boss du jour is so taken with how I arrive on time and answer the phone that they insist I am the only person who can temp for them from that point forward. I always raise an eyebrow when I hear horror stories involving bad temps. It never occurred to me that people might be bad at answering the phone. It never crossed my mind that someone might overflow the coffee brewer because it only lets you brew the CORRECT amount. No one just takes a full pot of coffee, places it under the drip, and thinks, “Well, let’s just see what happens!”

At least that’s what I thought, but apparently enough people make these mistakes that I seem super-human in comparison.
“Oh, thank God it’s you,” one office said, “I walked into the break room and the girl that they sent us yesterday was eating the Keurig hot chocolate powder straight from the K-cups.”
I smirked. If you’re going to eat powder straight from a K-Cups, just take it to the bathroom like a normal person. Good lord.

My temp agency will call me, knowing that I am not available, and say:

“Jas, the firm called back and really wants you on Monday. Are you sure you can’t make that work?”
“I can’t. I have plans on Monday.”
“Gotcha. I’ll call them and let them know.”

Then, a few minutes later:
“Jas, the firm called back and really, really wants you on Monday.”
Now it’s really, really – as if that extra emphasis changes everything.
“They won’t take anyone else?”
“They said that they would prefer to have you since you’re already trained.”

Suddenly I am trained. Here is a rundown of what I do at the office: I answer the phone. I transfer calls. I also have a velvety smooth phone voice that puts the bankers at JP Morgan and their pal Stanley at ease whenever I speak, though that is more of an added bonus than a requirement.

I digress. In short, an office insisted on having me for all of December. I obliged for financial reasons. I can’t afford to go home this Christmas because a film that I worked on this past summer NEVER FUCKING PAID ME the events industry slowed down, so it’s off to the office I go. It’s OK, though; auditions slow down in December because Christians and Jews.

Every office has its own quirks and eccentric characters, but this one seems to boast more than others. No one has gone on vacation yet, but the office manager insisted that I be here all month. She bares a striking resemblance to Nasim Pedrad’s Kim Kardashian impression in both looks and voice.

1411724720696.cached

She is the sort of person who says things like,
“Could you not put the red poinsettia there? I have a floor plan for the flowers,” or,
“Could you put post-its labeled ‘step 1, step 2,’ and so forth in front of the catering trays? I want to make sure that everyone knows the waffles go BEFORE the chicken.”

She also thinks that the bankers invest personal feelings in matters like whether or not their stirring spoons rest upon doilies from William-Sonoma. I get it; she wants her life to feel like a living Real Simple catalog. However, most of these bankers are approaching their seventies or come fresh out of grad school. I’m assuming some of them were alive during World War II and the rest have snorted cocaine off of a human being at some point. I highly doubt they care if their spoon sits upon a frivolous piece of paper.

Because the office is not actually short staffed, I sit up front with the receptionist and stare at things while she does actual work. I basically wait for the FedEx man to come and give me something to rip open and put away.  Occasionally I go to the kitchen and make fresh coffee and listen to the strange problems that men who make well over six figures a year experience.
“We love having MiMi over for Christmas, don’t get me wrong. But she just doesn’t want to have anything to do with her grandchildren. And they don’t have to have anything to do with anyone. At least Marta can work through the holidays. Can you imagine cooking for that many people?”

The receptionist has grown tired of me sitting awkwardly near her. I’ve tried to make my presence lively and fun with small talk.
“Don’t you just love it when you can see snow on the mountains?”
“Are you taking your new baby to see Santa?”
“Would you look at the smog over downtown? It’s amazing that people aren’t dropping dead in the streets!”

She wanted none of it. She resented the fact that I’m getting paid to do nothing, so she has started to find busy work to keep me away from her for as long as possible.

“Go check the conference rooms and make sure that we have eight of every plate, glass, mug, and stirring spoon.”
“Go see if any of the glasses need to go through the dishwasher. Even if it looks like they don’t need it, wash them anyway.”
“Go move the reams of paper from our printer room to the other.”

We weren’t really short on paper in the other printer room; she just saw me bite my fingernail one too many times and decided to move me to a place where civilized people wouldn’t have to look at me.

Each ream of paper weighed as much as a Shetland pony, so I lugged them individually. One after another, all the way around the office to the other copy room; just laps around the office with massive stacks of paper. After I sat the last ream of paper down in its new home, I returned to the first copier room even though I knew there was nothing left to carry. Then I walked back to the second copy room with nothing.

Then I did it again.

“How many times can I just walk around the floor?” I thought to myself. I walked around again. No one looked up from their computers. Then I walked around four more times. No one noticed. The receptionist said nothing.

That’s when I decided to shake things up a bit. At first I just dragged my left foot and limped around the 18th floor.

I made it all the way around twice like this with no one noticing. Undeterred, I decided to see what else I could add to my repertoire of office lap styles. I kept the limp, but this time I contorted my face into a ghastly “DERP” expression.

I made it around the office three times this way, and was about to embark on one more, when someone handed me a stack of checks and said,
“Hey.”

I turned around, fully expecting her to ask me if I needed to go to the emergency room.

Then, without really looking, she said,

“Could you staple these to the expense reports?”

The crazed grin melted from my face as I took the checks from her. Defiantly, I turned and walked one final lap in the weirdest, most mangled way that I could think of.

“Thanks!” they called after me, “And Merry Christmas!”

I busied myself for the rest of the afternoon by stapling the checks in slow motion, for I am a temp at Christmas.

3 comments

Filming in Bishop, CA.

I have such a cushy place in my heart for student films. I worked on one with several talented MFA students at Florida State University before I moved out here (you can watch the film here) and became good friends with everyone. Now they let me come around their house and do my laundry in their garage. It’s a beautiful thing we’ve got going.

About a year ago, I auditioned for another thesis film at Loyola Marymount University by a young writer/director named Kelsey Taylor. We ended up not working together on that project, but a month or so ago she reached out and asked me to audition for another thesis film. She had written it with her friend and director of the film, Chris Jones, and she was also producing. I wanted to audition to begin with, but after I did a little searching and found the film’s Indiegogo campaign, I thought, “Damn. I really want to do this.”

Luckily, they wanted to work together and a few weeks later Chris picked me up in a U-haul full of equipment. We drove two and a half hours through the LA rain to the mountains. The van had no tape deck or CD player, so we listened to the radio. The only station playing by the end of the trip was the local Christian station. So we just listened to C-pop and laughed about the fact that we were listening to C-pop.  Shared experiences bring people together.

Filming took place in two different small, California towns:

Trona …

IMG_0289

And Bishop.

IMG_0291

Bishop is one of the coolest places I have ever worked in. We had to hike everywhere to get to our shooting locations…

IMG_0374

…which were equally as gorgeous as Bishop itself – like this old pump house. We had to hike a mile and a half into the gorge just to get to it:

IMG_0362

And the crew? Awesome. All of them. If anything had happened and we were trapped in the mountainous regions of California for an unknown amount of time, I feel like we would have made it until the rescue helicopters finally found us without killing or eating each other. And then we would joke about it later.

Chris’s parents, who were lovely and brought down a fully equipped RV/horse trailer to cook meals for the cast and crew (his parents are pretty much the best), hiked down into the gorge to bring everyone lunch on the final day of filming.

IMG_0364
Here’s more of our hike. I took so many pictures of people carrying things becuase if I was hiking down into the gorge with expensive equipment, I would probably die of anxiety before I reached the bottom.

IMG_0337

It was 30 degrees in the morning when we started the hike, but it warmed up.

IMG_0332

We would stop periodically to grab shots and various crew members would have to grab footing wherever they could find it.

IMG_0329

We shot along the actual 395 South highway as well. It crosses the huge water pipeline that brings all the water to Los Angeles.

IMG_0294

 

And the crew ate together in gorgeous locations like the side of the cliff that overlooked the gorge.

IMG_0297

 

The film centers around an aspiring young writer, Jake, and the beginnings of his journey to find something that inspires him. He meets a young woman named Casey who is about to see some big changes of her own and their chance encounter leads to a day that inspires them both.

This is Cole. He played James! This is us goofing around in the truck where much of the film takes place.

IMG_4718

Actually, the whole experience was pretty inspiring.

IMG_4707.JPG

IMG_4710.JPG

I’m putting together a little video blog about it, too. Staaay tuned.

 

0 comments
Design by: