Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Signs and Songs, Angels and Bitches

Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key . . .

Sometimes, on your chosen path, you look for signs to acknowledge you made the right decisions. Something to say, you are going the right way.

Yesterday, I had my first model casting call. I was broke. Like BROKE. On Saturday, I used all the change I could find in my car and combined it with the $1.98 made from recycling my sister's wine bottles and was able to put $5.89 in my gas tank. That was enough to get to and from work that weekend.

I had one check from working CSI that I could cash in first thing Monday morning. It would be close, but if I cashed it right when the bank opened, that would leave me just enough time to get to the casting call in Toluca Lake at 9:45am.

First, I drove to the nearest bank, a Chase. They only cash Chase checks.

Then, I rolled my car on gasoline fumes down the hill to the closest B of A.

When making it to the head of the line, I handed her my paycheck and asked for a stapler so I could staple my business card to my 2009 zed cards (The Modeling World's version of a headshot). There were no staples in the stapler. I asked for staples just as she informed me my driver's license expired during my birthday. I begged them to consider my Bank of America credit card and my medicinal marijuana card as valid ID. She checked with her manager and refused.

I told them I only had enough gas to make it to the closest gas station. My bank was a few towns over.

The manager refused to look up as the clerk apologized. In front of everyone, I looked the manager square in the eye and said, "Would it hurt to be human?" She looked up. Silence. Exit.

End scene.

You know what really burns me? I never got those fucking staples.

I sputtered my car into the nearest gas station and cried. My first thought in my patheticness was, this is a sign that I shouldn't be modeling/acting. I should just give up and go home. I pressed my head against the steering wheel . . . my gut was in protest. I won't let bad mojo hold me back. This was my first modeling call and after 8 years of America's Next Top Model anxiety dreams, I was going to make it to this fucking thing!

I kept saying, "Its going to be ok, think!" Abe was going through whatever he is/was going through. I didn't want to lay anymore of my problems on him.

What do I do when my love is away.
(Does it worry you to be alone)

None of my friends were nearby. I called up my credit card company and asked if there was any room. No, she said and did I know I was past due.

"Yes . . . (sobbing) look I was laid off over a year ago. I am just trying to make my rent here. I have a job interview right now and no gas to get there. Please help me. (more sobbing) Please? Just $5 or $10 to get me to my bank."

She put me on hold for a long time and then said she couldn't extend my credit without a payment. So I gave her a check number knowing I didn't have the funds. She then extended my credit line $10 more dollars. I hung up, sniveling and exhaled. Holy Fuck, did I just find another way?

I would love to add here that this is an example of what a great actress I am, crying to gain a credit card company's sympathy. But I was really crying.

While pumping, I saw the gas tank spin past $10 and let it creep up to $15. I got in my car, looked in the mirror and saw that I cried off all my make-up. My lips and eyes were swollen, my skin was clear and I thought for the first time in a long while, I looked pretty.

Then I took off with 5 minutes til my casting call.

I drove like the wind to Toluca Lake, found the address only 15 minutes later. It was a PO Box. I read the email wrong, this was the booking agency's address, not the casting call. The casting was all the way out in Woodland Hills.

So in a mini skirt, black tube top and heels, I stumbled back into my car and texted Em. She wrote back, "Just breathe and go. It will be alright darling. They might not even know."

Do you need anybody?
I need somebody to love.

The thing about Em is if I am feeling emotional, she just tells me what to do and it always ends up being the most practical, positive thing to do. I trust her.

So I went. Now I was half an hour late.

I clack-clacked my heels through the lobby and saw a heavy set African-American woman there. After asking about the model call, she shrugged her shoulders and said she didn't know where or what that was. I saw the sign in sheet and put my name down.

I also saw the stapler on her desk and asked her if I could use it. She said, "They have one in the show room." I am not going to walk in to casting late and ask for a stapler.

I said, "Please, can I just use that one right there?"

She said, "I would head down there as soon as possible if I were you."

I reached for the stapler, "I have had a hell of a morning, you know?" She nodded.

She is not an ally.

She said, "Look for Robert, and he will tell you where to go."

As I walked down the hallway, I saw a tall, African-American gay man walking towards me.

Ally.

Robert led me into a showroom and I sat down next to several other girls.

The Casting Agent was in the middle of a speech, "I need a red head to complete the show. Would any of you be willing to dye your hair red? This is the color." She opened up a book to show us, and a girl quickly volunteered. I asked the girl next to me, "What did I miss?" In a thick Russian accent, she responded, "Not much."

The Casting Agent said, "Ok, that is all the people I need for the runway show. That is all booked up, but we still need people for the workshop. I am going to go around and feel your hair. If it doesn't fall below your shoulder line, thank you for coming out but we can't use you for this particular show."

She came around and tossed our hair around like salad. I just sat there. She came back and asked to feel my hair again. She said, "Ok, I am going to book you, but you desperately need a trim. Your ends are Thr-hahaha-shed."

She said, "Your ends are thrashed." But the state of my hair, and the sad fact that I can't even afford a $12 trim at Super Cuts, was so amusing to this woman, that she couldn't finish her sentence without laughing. Thra-hahahah-shed. Ha. Ha. Thrashed.

After we filled out the paperwork, we got in line, got our picture taken and left. I booked that job for $100.

I went to Em's afterward to grab some coffee and maybe go through lines before our Reservoir Bitches rehearsal. She fed me pie, I smoked a couple cigarettes, she read my face and said, "Everything is going to be ok." I nodded my head, "Everything will be ok."

She dyed my hair, got dressed and finished the blocking summary and contact sheet for the play since no one else was going to do it.

I hung out by her pool while nursing my coffee repeating, "Everything will be ok. Relax." The last few mornings, I have woken up with a sore jaw. I think I am grinding my teeth in my sleep. I kept thinking, how fucking lucky am I? I got the money, got the gas and booked the job.

How do I feel by the end of the day
(Are you sad because you're on your own)

It always feels with the best and worst luck, that my Guardian Angels are wrestling over my fate with demons. I survived a drunk driver whose car split in half over mine. I survived my car igniting in flames in under 45 seconds. I have . . . made it this far with no money . . . it has to mean something.

What do you see when you turn out the light?
I can't tell you, but I know it's mine.

At rehearsal, we were blocking out the "heist" scene. Em, Evie and I will be doubling as police officers in this one scene. We shoot out with Brown, Blue, Blonde and White.

Mitchell was on the rag, "Alright, QUIET! NO ONE SHOULD TALK when I am talking. I need your full attention. Focus!" He always has this annoying way to make you feel like a child. I hated being a kid when I was a kid for the exact same fucking reasons.

In one rehearsal I didn't attend, he came in and said, "Wow, its quiet in here. Usually when I walk in on rehearsal for this show, girls are like (using both hands as mouth puppets) Cluck-cluck-cluck . . . cluck-cluck-cluck and then I am like, 'QUIET' and they start crying and ask me why I am so mean to them. (snort)"

Yeah, thats us . . . a bunch of clucking hens. Thanks, asshole.

We listened. We did the scene. When I was shot at, I performed three different deaths in sequence.

First, the blast through my chest, dying almost instantly

Second, a moment to acknowledge I was shot and then trailed off in sweet thought of my family before passing on.

And finally, being shot at so many times, my body flails against the wall like a fish dragged out of water.

That last bit got Evie laughing from her gut.

Mitchell, "STOP IT! I want to see how you really are going to do it. No goofing around."

Em said, "She is just having fun with it now."

When we did the scene for him (to prove my worth in dying on stage) I dropped like a sack of potatoes to the floor. He said, "Very nice."

We were all so fucking grouchy with him. We couldn't master the final scene because there was no direction.

Blonde asked where she should stand. No answer.

Evie decided to sit, he said, "You just lost your best friend, you don't want to sit down."

Then Pink burst out with, "Where do you want us? I mean specifically. WHERE?"

He instructed us and then followed up rehearsal with a speech, "I am not telling you where to move to see if you can move on the stage intelligently. Now, I am not knockin' anyone's intelligence here, so take it easy."

I turned to Em, "What's the name of this playhouse?"

She just shook her head in surrender.

Evie, "I was going to memorize my lines, but I had to work like 20 hours this weekend and then I was going to get off book last night but Sex in the City came on."

After rehearsal, we burst through the glass door outside, where all the smokers eagerly finger through their pockets. Evie said, "I am going to ask my Sugar Daddy to buy a bunch of tickets to give away so people will just go."

I said, "Your Sugar Daddy? Do you have to sleep with him?"

She gave me an outraged look and said, "Hell no. I haven't had sex since April."

I had to meet a friend quickly for a hand off in Hollywood. He ended up filling up my car with gas and giving me a Trader Joe's gift card and an out of print, collector's edition copy of Reservoir Dogs.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends . . .

Then, I hopped a few blocks over to an audio meeting on my pilot, where Lana gave me a purse full of tampons. I don't have a dollar to my name for a box at the 99 Cent store.

Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends . . .

When I was at TJs picking up some groceries, I was glowing. My mother and friend's TJ gift card would keep me fed for another month. Stopping by the coffee grinder, alittle girl, about 6, popped her head around and said, "You're beautiful."

I said, "So are you!" We both smiled. Something was so wonderful about that moment.

The morning sucked, ok. I felt fucking pathetic. But, I just smacked down my odds, bitches. Luck was going to flip me over and fuck me but I won.

And, my friends. Jesus, have I ever had friends like this before? That day, they fed me, gave me gas and gave me tampons. Sometimes I wonder how I make it month to month, by the skin of my teeth, somehow happier than I was before. Its because my friends believe in me, and I believe in them. They are my guardian angels.

Oh, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends . . .

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