Temping and the passage of time

Sometimes you finish all of the given work at a temp assignment after a long, hard day where you forfeited almost five hundred American dollars to get your car registered in California so that you can safely travel to Arizona for your friend’s wedding.

Sometimes you just need to stuff your face with gum and pretend that you no longer exist.

Never leave me alone with a pantry stocked with #orbit #gum. #temping #chewing #sidehustle #disgrace

A video posted by Jas Sams (@jas_sams) on

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This morning, as I left the women’s restroom, I noticed one of the men in the office walking my way. We made eye contact, gave each other a nod, and then for some reason I instinctively held the door open for him – to the women’s room. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know why. Stop it with the “why.”

He closed his eyes and gave me two tiny shakes of the head with a curt smile as if to say,
“Oh, none for me, thank you; there’s another room where those with penises go to pee.”

This reminds me of the time I took a greyhound bus from Atlanta to Savannah. I had never taken the bus before and it reminded me of a time when experiences still felt brand new – like being seventeen and going to Target by myself for the first time. Ads that promised free rides home to teenage runaways covered the Greyhound station walls! The food court was a nacho stand! Someone beside me tried to recruit me into their MLM scheme!

It all seemed so exciting.

I made it halfway to Savannah before I had to use the restroom. A bathroom on a bus! What an adventure! Or at least it would be once I figured out the mystery of the door that wouldn’t open! I tried for a couple of minutes before I turned to a man who had decided to sit in the seats by the toilet. He was a laid back Latino guy in a sweatshirt and cowboy hat. A traveling soul getting from point A to point B, just like the rest of us.

I made eye contact with him and motioned to the bathroom. It was a gesture which, at least to me, obviously translated into, “Do you know how to open this door?”

He looked to the door. Then he looked to me. He looked me up and down.

Then he shook his head as he held up his hands in refusal.

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jas

Me – at the ripe old age of NOT HAVING A CLUE. 

My childhood concept of adulthood clashes so violently with my current reality that I wish I could go back in time and shake myself as I scream things like, “STUDY HARDER! LISTEN TO MORE CLASSICAL MUSIC! LET GO OF YOUR ANGER! START WATCHING SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE BEFORE YOUR MENARCHE!”

As a child, I dreamed that I might one day have a house. I would fill that house with a TV and a lifetime supply of chocolate croissants. That house would have a yard that I would fill with hundreds of cats and dogs – if not thousands. I thought a house was something you got when you graduated from or dropped out of high school. It would be my house! I wouldn’t have to share it with anyone!

That was a a simpler time. A time when I once saw this old documentary about a building that collapsed on a giant ballroom full of people and said to my mother, “I don’t see why everyone is panicking. All they need to do is hide under a cardboard box.” A time when it never occurred to me that things like toothpaste actually ran out. A time when I was five or six years old and a tube of toothpaste was infinite. 

I survived childhood and became an adult in the technical sense of the word. True, I can rent a car; but I still feel like a novice in in an office full of grown women with real world gripes. They’ll sip their coffee in the kitchen and share horror stories about husbands, boyfriends, and bosses and I try not to feel like an impostor as I laugh along and sigh something like, “Oh, men!” out of lack of anything substantial to contribute to the tribe.

However, I now know that toothpaste can’t last forever. I no longer believe in a world where cardboard boxes provide adequate protection from a 17 story building collapsing around me. There is no house; only a studio apartment that I share with my boyfriend and my cat, Taxi.

A studio apartment is an awfully small space for two adult humans and a cat the size of a small Shetland pony.

Housing is one of the trickier parts of adulthood, especially when you live off of side hustles. I adore my significant other, but the cost of living living in LA is why we moved in together. It’s also one of the many reasons I do not have a house full of croissants and cats.

It makes no sense to pay rent for two apartments when you spend the majority of your time at one of them. It was nice that D always had a place to go in case we fought, but we never did and he rarely went home. The clothes he brought over began to accumulate. His things began to find homes among my things. He slept over every night. He began to say things like,  “I left it at home,” and it was understood that “home” meant my apartment.

I haven’t really elaborated on his personality here, but D has obsessive compulsive disorder of damn near Howie Mandel like proportions. Perhaps this is why I first toyed with the idea of living with him when he didn’t cry and/or break up with me after I forgot to flush the toilet. This was after a particular grizzly exorcism. Dirt and unwashed hands are bad enough, but the contents of a toilet bowl after a lapse in flushing? That’s like kryptonite. So if he could get past maximum grossness… well, maybe co-habitation could work. Besides, having him move in meant I could pay off credit card debt instead of accumulate it. It meant we would both have significantly less money to pay. It meant that now both of us can complain to the landlord about the weird grunting noises that my neighbor makes in the middle of the day!

That’s some medieval logic right there. Combine the two kingdoms. Love and strategy, hand in hand! It’s far from the idea that everything magically falls into place once you leave the 12th grade.

I tell myself that it’s OK; that adulthood is a work in progress.

And hey – at least I have a more realistic understanding of human mortality than I did when I was six.

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Purina Cat Food VO spot!

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A few weeks ago, fellow Atlanta Rockstar + director/photographer Chris Wong messaged me and asked, “Do you do British accents?”
My response: “I’ve only seen Spice World eighty-seven times.”

And so it was that I got to record a Purina Cat Food voiceover! Check it out!

PURINA | Gibson from chriswithcamera on Vimeo.

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country

I recently had a discussion with someone with regarding the Indiana and the RFRA.

Back story:

The governor of Indiana signed a bill into law that ensures religious freedom to companies, which could allow them to deny people service. Most businesses don’t really care what you do as long as you pay them, but apparently enough do that we still have to have laws like this. This law has been active in over half of the USA and, for reasons I can’t even, states are STILL passing it today. I suppose I shouldn’t act so surprised. Women often get paid less, black and Hispanic people are still looked over in the job application process for being named something other than John, Michael, or Ted; and birth control is still considered a “controversial issue” despite over population and a culture where ridiculous amounts of people rely on entitlements because, as it turns out, it’s fucking hard to raise a child as a single parent who makes less than 24k a year. Hell, it’s hard to be two parents raising a family on 50K a year.

I digress: my point is: America is progressive, yeah, but it’s also ass backwards on so many things. , I shouldn’t be so surprised that the RFRA is still a thing.

One of my friends disagreed with me. They brought up a gay couple that wanted to pay a bakery a pretty sum of money to bake them a cake for their wedding day.

PAUSE: This happened in Colorado. Not Indiana. I don’t know why the cake example continues to come up, but it does and since it did, let’s continue.

The people who ran the bakery in Colorado *basically said, “You mean for a gay wedding? No. We will not serve you. We are against gay people because Christianity is all about being a butt queefing shit rag to people we disagree with. OUTLAW COUNTRY.”

Back to Indiana and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – an act that would make situations like the one I just mentioned way more difficult to deal with in court.

I joined the millions of people in raising an eyebrow and muttering a crass phrase of disapproval of the governor’s actions. I laughed when Gen Con said, “Bye, Felicia,” and Salesforce pulled their expansion plans out of Indiana.

“I don’t think that’s right,” my friend said.
“How?” I asked, “Salesforce has every right to pull whatever they want to from wherever they want to for whatever reason.”
“Would you sue a Muslim restaurant that won’t serve pork to cater to non-Muslims?”

Of course not. However, this isn’t about pork and it isn’t about what you do or do not serve, but rather whom.  Muslim restaurant owners aren’t going to deny their services to me because I am not Muslim. I can go into any Muslim owned restaurant I want and order whatever I want off of their menu. I happen to know that Muslims aren’t all about pork products, so I don’t go into their restaurants demanding bacon.

Even if I did, they would say,
“We don’t serve pork because… Um… Well, I don’t know how to tell you this without sounding like I’m talking down to you, but we have never eaten pork in the history of ever, so we don’t serve it in our restaurant. We can definitely serve you something else, though, if you want to stay.”

The people who ran the bakery told the gay couple, “No cake, no way, we will never serve you. Period. OUTLAW COUNTRY.”

Unlike the hypothetical Muslim restaurant that doesn’t even keep pork products in their building because the bulk of their clientele won’t order it, the actual, real life bakery had cake. They just, you know, refused to make the cake for the gay couple. Good grief. Just sell the damn cake. Let the couple take care of the cake toppers (which is what usually happens anyway, if I’m not mistaken) and sell the damn cake!

Why. Is. This. A. Thing.

I fail to understand. Even Chik Fil-A will serve gay people. Chik Fil-A, a company that funnels money into gay-rehab camps and may have funded organizations that bombed women’s health care clinics in the 90’s, will still serve homosexuals.  

I’m not religious, but I don’t need some intangible authority figure to tell me that you shouldn’t be a butt queefing shit rag to other people. Isn’t that easier? People can eat cake, people can live without bring ostracized, and people will be able to travel somewhere without fear that they will be abducted and brutally murdered on camera.

Actually, I’m pretty sure that Jesus said something similar, albeit in a much more pleasant way than I just did.

You should treat other people well. You should lead by example. You do that by living and loving well yourself.

You don’t do it by pitching a hissy baby fit over other people and the way they live.

My friend disagreed with me. Whatever. I didn’t yell at my friend. Instead I explained my position, listened to theirs, and the universe didn’t collapse. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU AREN’T AN ASSHOLE.

Don’t be a butt queefing shit rag. It’s just not that hard to be decent.

Edit: There was no appropriate place to write that I think this is all a huge distraction to keep the USA from focusing on a covert operation to nuke something. There is a bomb. We are all going to die. And they don’t want us to focus on the fact that humans only have about 200 years left before we all kill each other.

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3_SeekingTalentA_CastingDirector_bw1

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. Except there were a bunch of other factors that we didn’t care to think about because “she got naked and BAM! David Fincher!” was all we cared to see. Anything that could make us feel better about why we weren’t in the position to audition for David Fincher movies became fair game. 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. You’re not going to network, you’re not going to use people; you are going to be a genuinely nice person and make lasting relationships that will motivate you. Awesome people can empower you just by being around them. When I surround myself with motivated, lovely people, I begin to feel motivated and lovely as well.

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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