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I recently read an article that made the social media rounds during SXSW. You probably read it, too. It featured quotes from casting directors about their process; specifically about how talent only accounts for 7% of significant casting decisions.

The other 93% is made up of connections, overseas popularity, social media influence, and good old fashioned nepotism. Of course actors vigorously re-posted, re-tweeted, and shared.

“Good to know what really counts!”
“Glad I’m investing so much in these ACTING CLASSES!”
“Me angry!”

I felt all of this and more for a split second. It reminded me of when the Blurred Lines music video came out. Emily Ratajkowski strutted around naked for three minutes and then David Fincher put her in Gone Girl. That was all we actors saw. That was all we really needed to see to start beating ourselves up. I’m embarrassed to admit that I literally cried when I read that. I think I posted something silly on Facebook to the tune of, “I swear, Mom, I’m really trying!”

It was one of my many lower moments.

The SXSW article went viral because it highlighted everything we creatives love to blame for our own lack of success. Our parents aren’t in the industry. They aren’t bank rolling us. They didn’t get us involved as children and now we are stuck with a resume lacking in anything that people care about.

Then I realized the following: this is nothing new. No one has ever cared, no one cares now, and no one will ever care. (Also, what on earth was I thinking, mentally putting myself on a level playing field with Emily Ratajkowski?)

There will always be beautiful girls in Robin Thicke Videos who aren’t afraid to get naked and have bigger Twitter/Instagram numbers and more connections than you have. You don’t know them, you don’t know their story, and you are so far removed from them that there’s no point in dwelling on it.

Why on Earth would you continue to beat yourself up over things beyond your control? You know what isn’t beyond your control? Work. Putting in work. 

I don’t know what to tell you. Sorry your parents aren’t in the industry. Sorry you don’t have a wealthy family bankrolling your actor life by paying for your apartment, phone, and insurance so that you can take that unpaid internship or lower paying entry level position. Sorry your parents didn’t get you involved in acting as a child. Sorry that you lack the status, wealth, and privilege that affords you opportunities beyond a 7% bracket.

What are you going to do? Move home? 

No. You are going to wait tables. You are going to promote stuff. You’re going to temp. You’re going to tend bar. You are going to do whatever to can to make your own damn money.

Then you are going work out a budget for classes and workshops. Then you are going to make the time to work on your own material. You’re going to work. Then you’re going to go to wherever the hell it is that people who actually make things happen in this industry drink and beg the bartender to pour water and a lime wedge into a cocktail glass so that people don’t know how poor you really are. You are going to act like everything is fine – and you are going to make some friends.

All the while, you will continue to see others get ahead. Most will have the money and the connections, but some will get lucky and skip ahead and you won’t be able to wrap your head around why it didn’t happen to you. But again, what are you going to do? Leave?

Nothing is free and nothing is fair. How much do you really hate how things are done? Enough to move home? If you truly hated it that much, you would have gone elsewhere by now. You’re sticking it out. Toughen up a bit more, discipline yourself a bit more, meet everyone that you possibly can, keep your negative opinions to yourself, and work harder than everyone else. I don’t know what else to say.

Talent may account for only 7% of a casting decision. That doesn’t mean that you should give up trying to come up with ways to make up for that 93%.

This industry is WEIRD. It’s absolutely rewarding when you get to do what you want to do, but good lord; it’s weirder than that news story about that child that claims he can recall his past lives.

Actually, now that I think about it, that child is probably more poised to fare better in the entertainment industry than I am.

Hell, I bet he has more Twitter followers.

He figured it out.

Good for him.

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The dumb way I start my car.

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Like a wet piece of bread: Resisting gossip.

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I used to fire off any terrible opinion about someone with reckless abandon. I thought it made me look like a badass! I thought that it proved to everyone around me just how much I didn’t care! I thought that it made me gritty, real, and honest!

Flash forward to me now as I struggle to learn how to resist the powerful urge to dish some dirty deets because, as it turns out, blurting out random, negative, and sometimes unfounded opinions makes you miserable and doesn’t do much to convince people that they should hire you despite your severe PMDD.

That said… I have a love/hate relationship with the mutual friends feature on Facebook. It’s the ultimate trigger for opinions that no one asked for.

“WAIT, YOU KNOW SO AND SO? WE WENT TO KINDERGARTEN TOGETHER!”

“WAIT, YOU KNOW SO AND SO? OH MY GOD, I HAD CHLAMYDIA, TOO!”

It’s great if you happen sing their praises, but it sure feels awkward when one of your mutuals is someone best left … well, not discussed.

I ran into a classmate the other evening and they immediately pulled out their phone, pulled up my Facebook page, and demanded:

“How do you know So and So?”
“Oh!”

Oh, indeed. On one hand, I was dying to know why my classmate so passionately wanted the details of our shared connection. On the other, pretty much every major conflict in Mean Girls could have been avoided by a refusal to indulge gossip. Also, when I was in middle school my mother paid this woman named Miss Lasseter a lot of money to teach me manners, the foxtrot, and how to eat with multiple forks. I figure it’s better late than never to take her investment seriously.

So I fibbed a tiny bit and said,
“Oh, So and So works with someone I worked with. I actually don’t know them very well.”

The truth is I do know So and So – and this accurately sums up my feelings:

liz

However, I have lately come to believe that it is in your best interest to avoid going on the record with opinions like this. You look petty because, most of the time, you are being petty. It demonstrates poor impulse control. It lets people know that you hold grudges and that you have trouble letting things go. It’s like a built in siren that whistles: “GOSSIP QUEEN! GOSSIP QUEEN! GRRL’S A GOSSIP KWEEN!”

Indifference, even if you must fake it, is really the only way to neutralize the situation. Saying, “I really don’t want to talk about So and So,” or some variation thereof won’t cut it. That’s basically saying, “I could say something terrible, but I won’t because I’m trying out this new thing where I’m above it all.”
This only makes interested parties egg you on until you spill the beans or get angry. Either way, you lose.

A few things tend to happen after you feign indifference toward someone you don’t like. Your conversation partner might take your words at face value and drive the subject elsewhere. Perhaps they might understand that you just spoke to them in code and drive the conversation elsewhere and try to come back around when you least suspect it. Occasionally, however, they forge on in the direction they had approached the subject from in the first place. My classmate took this route when they rolled their eyes and said,

“Oh. You’re not missing much. They’re such a … wet piece of bread.”

I felt relieved that I had kept my mouth shut. Partly because I had triumphed over my own sense of negativity and partly because there would be no opportunity for my opinions to come back and bite me in the ass.

But mostly because “wet piece of bread” is the most perfect description I have ever heard of another person ever.

Clearly my intentions could use a bit more integrity.

(For the record: I have never had chlamydia.)

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An infection is not cancer.

I will never publicly lament a personal tragedy on Facebook again.

Scroll down a few entries and you’ll find a piece about my sweet cat – both in the adorable sense and in the tubular Bill & Ted sense – mysteriously getting an aggressive and sudden case of large cell lymphoma.

The vet took one look at him and said, “Yes, this cat most likely has cancer.”

They took his blood and did a $400 test to determine that he most likely had cancer. They also gave me a generic antibiotic – just in case it was a virus.

“But we’re pretty sure it’s not a virus. He definitely has all the telling signs of cancer.”

Then the results came in and they said, “Well, your cat most likely has cancer, but before you can take him to an oncologist for chemotherapy, we need to do another $350 test to determine that he actually has cancer. However, your cat has cancer and he will die in about four weeks if he doesn’t get chemotherapy.”

Two things. I knew knew full well that I could not afford weekly chemotherapy treatments. Also, even if I could afford them, large cell lymphoma is the worst cancer a cat can get. It grows rapidly and it kills fast. Even with chemo, cats rarely live more than an additional four months.  I researched ways to make Taxi comfortable until he passed away or had to be put to sleep. I researched all of the terrible things that would start to happen to his body as the cancer worsened.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 11.55.36 AMSince he refused to eat, I propped him up on my knees and squirted high calorie fat-paste into his mouth. I fed him like a baby four or five times a day. That guy was living off of fat-paste and special cancer-cat food. His coat was ratty and he was sleeping through the night – something he never used to do. Normally he’d sleep all day, gathering up his strength and making a list of things to knock over or destroy as soon as D and I went to bed.

I don’t know the exact moment I realized that Taxi was getting better. I had opened a pack of Tuna to snack on and Taxi walked over. He ate the tiny piece I put in his bowl. He hadn’t eaten on his own in a while.

Within a week he was up to half a pack a day! Yet, even though his energy levels even perked up a bit, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Then his test finally came back in – negative. For cancer. The vet called and left me a message that basically said:
“I mean, it still looks like he has cancer, it just looks like Dog cancer. You should still take him to the oncologist and they will still recommend chemotherapy.”

Something wasn’t right. Within a week, Taxi graduated to human baby food because he was still being a dick about that fancy dry food I bought. The swollen lymph nodes in his neck had vanished. He even began to unleash the spirit of the hunter in the night! In other words, Taxi never had cancer. An malignant, 100% fatal cancer does not magically vanish because you funnel fat-paste and pure love down their throat.

While on a run to get more supplies, I went to vet in the back of the Pet Smart and described the ordeal to the vet-tech at the counter.

“Well, were there black specs in his urine?”
“Yes!”
“Uh-huh, see, that’s most likely a kidney thing. He probably just had a kidney infection. Didn’t they ask you at the other vet?”
“No.”
“Huh,” the tech said, popping a zit on her chin, “that should have been … like… the first thing they asked you. How old you said he was?”
“Three.”
“Like cat years or human years?”
“Human years.”
“Eh, either way. Still too young to have cancer. They definitely should have ruled out an infection first. First thing any vet should ever ask you: is there weird stuff in their pee? Could have saved you a lot of trouble and damn near a thousand bucks. Those tests are … like… $400 a pop.”

She wiped the zit on her pants and I nodded in agreement and paid for the paste. I’m sorry. The zit thing just really sticks out in my memory. Mostly because this girl who pops zits behind the counter of the vet in the back of the Pet Smart knew what was wrong with my cat by asking a simple question, yet a vet with an amazing reputation on Yelp led me a cancer goose chase.

I felt mighty sheepish telling everyone that I made a huge deal over what turned out to be an infection. That’s what I meant with my opening statement.

Taxi grimaces when I bring the syringe out. He hates the Fat-Paste of Life, but he muscles through it like a champ. I hate that I spent the last month thinking that he was going to be dead by now and I hate being extra-extra poor, but I’m muscling through it like a champ (or trying to.)

My little wiener cat doesn’t have cancer.

He also just knocked over a chair.

He could knock over all of the chairs, though, and I’d still be happy because I’ve still got my little Siamese Shetland Panther.

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pinup

 

It’s not nudity that bothers me. I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with getting naked for film and that it’s a choice that an adult can make for themselves.

What bothers me is the demand for female flesh and its constant objectification. The constant barrage of breakdowns that say, “Nudity required. Character must get naked. Non-negotiable: nudity required.”

For student films. For low budget films. For no budget films.

Prostitutes. Hookers. Girls getting taken advantage of.

“Nudity required: 18 To Play Younger preferred.”

Boobs just because.

And no fucking dongs. I have to stare at the actress who plays the rape victim’s breasts, but God forbid you tell the actor playing the rapist that he’d better be prepared to show his penis? Why?

“With boobs you kind of know what you’re getting. But with dicks you have no idea.”

Oh. Ok. Because the fact that it’s so well hidden means it will be more disappointing when it turns out to be much less than the 7 inch pillar of masculinity we’re supposed to think all men on screen possess? What a luxury it must be, for your normal to be clothes that leave the size of your private parts a mystery! Wah, wah, wah. I don’t care. Whip it out. Get on screen and wiggle it around a little for NO FUCKING REASON at all.

Don’t you sit there and try to tell me that cable television is doing a good job representing nudity from men as well as women. Don’t say one word about Game of Thrones. It’s not that there are too many wieners, Butters. It’s that there aren’t enough. Let’s say you’ve got a see-saw. On one side you place a bag of all the Game of Thrones dicks and guy-butts. On the other side you place a bag of all the Game of Thrones boobs, girl-butts and vaginas. Which side will outweigh the other?

I’ll give you a hint: the answer rhymes with shmoobs, shmutts, and shmaginas.

I don’t have a problem with nudity.  Boobs are awesome. So are vaginas. Butts are wonderful. And women rock at all three!

I’ve got a problem when you tell us your bullshit student, low budget, no budget, or fucking terrible movie or show “requires” them.

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I caught Taxi Cat doing something adorable.

And I have to show you.

taxicatHe is chugging along. I have been hand feeding him and he has perked up a bit, which we weren’t expecting, but are incredibly grateful for.

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I know that it’s probably not the most productive habit in the world, but sometimes I jump onboard with hashtags a bit more tenaciously than the average bear. Feminist hashtags tend to ruffle my feathers the most.

I don’t know if you watched the Super Bowl, but the commercials featured a spot called “Like a Girl” that confronted this idea that doing anything “like a girl” meant being weak and/or silly. You can watch it here:

This commerical isn’t exactly new, but airing it during the Super Bowl ensured exposure from new demographics. Unfortunately, this includes the “Male Supremecist Douchebag” demographic. On second thought, this might be fortunate after all;  exposure is the first step in realizing that the views you were raised with might be ridiculous and hateful.

A handful of men watched the commercial and tried to start a pro-male hashtag revolution.
“Why isn’t there a likeaboy commercial? #likeaboy”
“Feminists need to stop making everything about them! #meninist”
“asfdablfdsaaf serrrrrrrrrrrfartfartfartfartfart #likeaboy #meninist”

Then an avalanche of reasonable people responded with a variety of answers, all of which basically said:
“Because the term ‘boy’ is never used to label things as ‘weak’ or ‘stupid.”

Then the handful of weirdo men said something about irony and how feminists couldn’t understand it and jokes or something. Basically it’s a cop out.

It’s that child who cheats at a game and then tries to convince you that there were rules you didn’t know about. It’s that kid who puts his toes over the edge of the doorway after you told him not to leave the house because he’s just got to show you he is in charge. It’s every fat, racist, biggoty, sexist, awful character from film and literature that acts like a total buffoon to people who think that everyone should be able to vote and enjoy the same privileges and freedoms.

In other words, it was never an issue of irony and they know it.

I know that I shouldn’t have, but I chimed in with a tweet that said, “Cry, cry, you babies! #IwillDrinkYourTears, #meninist. #IdrinkThemUp!”

Within minutes, this happened:
tweet2

Ah, the anti feminist had something to say. Luckily, I was more than happy to have them tweet at me. Actually, I invited their whole, nonexistant army to tweet at me, too. You see, I have a Klout account. Klout measures how much you influence people on the internet. For those who exude a significant amount of influence, Klout awards them with perks. Perks can range from discounts on popular shopping sites to a free night in a nice hotel. The higher your Klout score, the more perks you earn.

I happen to be a few points away from another perk – and one of the best ways to encourage interaction on your Twitter and Instagram accounts is to ruffle a few feathers.

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Unfortunately, the angry feminist didn’t feel like feeding my addiction to free stuff.

Oh, well. Another time.

What about you? Any ways that you deal with trolls you’d care to share?

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I was making my way home from my temping job when the battery light lit up in my car. Then every other light began to light up in my car.

I contemplated the possibility that I could blow up at any second, followed by the idea that maybe blowing up wouldn’t be such a terrible thing. I quickly dismissed the idea as it would be shameful for me to vanish in a pit of fire before Taxi Cat passed away and also because I really like the breakfast sandwich they make at Paper or Plastik and it’s difficult to enjoy those when you don’t exist.

Still, I have irrationally feared that I might meet my untimely end in a car since I was a child. If I get into a car, there is a chance that the car will explode. All of those little lights coming on one by one seemed to count me down to the inevitable end.

The car didn’t explode after the last light flickered on; the car merely shut off while I was driving. I say “merely” because I managed to get it into the buffer zone by the exit ramp before it croaked. Otherwise I would say, “the goddamn motherfucking sonofabitch fuckface queefing bullshit vehicle shut the fuck down in the middle of rush hour traffic.”

Context and whatnot.

I took a second to remind myself how fortunate I had been to evade harm. Then I sat and had a minute (or thirty) to myself. I texted D to let him know the situation and then I tried to call AAA so that I could renew my membership and get some help.

The thing about the representatives at AAA is their constant, chipper attitudes:
“Oh, your car started smoking? I’m so sorry to hear that! What is your AAA member number? We’ll get you taken care of in a jiffy!”
“Oh, you’re car broke down in the middle of a sink hole? I’m so sorry to hear that! What is your AAA member number? We’ll get you taken care of in a jiffy!”
“Oh, you locked your keys inside your vehicle and you’re on alone on University of Virginia campus soil and it’s dark outside? I’m so sorry to hear that! What’s your AAA member number? Do you have a rape whistle? We’ll have you out of there in a jiffy!”

Mine was no exception, so I felt bad when I had to cut her off in the middle of the transaction. Turns out I didn’t need AAA. Los Angeles has a team of roadside assistance workers who regularly patrol the freeways and give complimentary assistance to those in need.

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Fast forward a couple of hours: I’m alone in a Metro parking lot holding a car battery in a reusable grocery bag, telling a stranger that they aren’t allowed to call me Snow Baby as I wait for D to pick me up. Fast forward another hour to the register at an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts where one of their mechanics tells me that my alternator needs to be replaced. Fast forward to the tiny me inside my brain screaming, mercilessly, and knocking everything in the store to the floor.

Fast forward to today, where I temp in a small sports publication office. My boss has a nasally voice and looks like the doctor who gave Thurgood all that weed in Half Baked. All day he has been paging Heather on the intercom system to come into his office and walk him, step by step, through basic computer functions. At one point, he had three women surrounding him, each coaching him through Microsoft Word. I witnessed this grown man ball his hands into little fists and hit his desk repeatedly.

“It won’t let me copy and paste! I don’t understand why I can’t just copy and paste!”

Male tears.

“Why doesn’t it show the pretty pictures when it goes to sleep? Why is it just showing a black screen? Goddammit, why?”

MALE TEARS

“Dammit, it’s not letting me put the thing by the picture! Why is this computer made like this? This is stupid! I hate this!”

Man baby In a perfect world, I would march into his office and slap him across his face and say,

“You either get it together or just go home right now – because you’re acting pathetic.

It’s not a perfect world, though. My sweet cat is dying, my alternator is shot, the commercial industry is slow, I currently have no real career momentum, and there are things going on in the world that make me want to wipe the earth clean and just start over.

I know that in the end I’m going to be Unsinkable Motherfucking Molly Brown, but I have no idea what to think right now. However, here is what I know:

I will continue to temp here for the rest of the week. I will make money which I will put toward my car.
My car will get fixed somehow. An alternator is a thing, and things can be replaced.
D is ridiculously supportive and sweet.
I will have a career. I will work harder and harder and, eventually, I’ll make something happen.
Taxi will pass away and I will grieve and remember how much I love him. Then, one day, I will adopt another cat and I will love them, too.

Life will go on.

(Except for my Boss du Jour, who seems to be stuck in a perpetual state of thumb-sucking toddlerhood.)

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