Monday, January 17, 2011

The Storm Drain

I have been on a weird vibe lately. Today was a good day for me to get on track. I had three appointments:

1) With an agent
2) Rehearsal/Audition for Reservoir Bitches
3) Audition for a Paid Role

I drove on up to The Agent's office in North Hollywood. I mean, WAY North Hollywood. Finding an outfit that is appealing at all three appointments was fairly easy. Tight jeans (so tight my socks don't fit underneath), a black off-the-shoulder top and black boots with pink heart-shaped sunglasses.

I walked in confident; my friend referred me and he already watched links to my work on-line. It was a small office, about the size of my bedroom. It was just him, me, a laptop and a microwave.

He didn't like my headshot that I just spent 40 minutes waiting for at Kinko's so one of two employees could take a break.

He mentioned my formmatting was wrong. Yeah, I know.

Before pulling papers out from a folder, very slowly, he asked if I had questions.

I said, "You came from management?"

He spoke with a heavy Japanese accent, "Yes, I used to manage, for a long time. Then I start agency. I quit for a while, this agency, over here-" He motioned to the wall directly behind him. "I own. Then I have to stop because of my blood pressure. My health was bad."

I said, "Oh yeah, the stress was bad, huh?"

He said, "The doctor said I would end up in coffin."

Then he said, "I am all better now. I own this agency, that agency and a production company." He motioned to the east end of the building.

He pulled out sides and asked how much I have acted. I said, "I have done over 20 projects, so. . . a decent amount."

He said, "Ok, because you say you do over 20, I will give you the hardest one."

It was a monolgue of a girl in a mental hospital whose abusive boyfriend died before she could kill him. Delicious.

He told me at each point where there was a "(transition)" to do something new. I did. You see, when I start reading a character, she comes in like storm clouds, crawling over my head until she covers me entirely.

When the read is over, the storm is still in my eyes. I usually take a minute or so for the character to fade. He watched me with that curiosity people have after your read, weighing in how good you are, if you're crazy. They watch the water rise then withdraw from your eyes like a storm drain.

While nodding his head, "You cry on cue?"

I nodded, biting my lip. She was still in me. Shake it off!

He mentioned that my headshot needed to be changed. I logged on to Facebook and showed him my pictures.

He said, "Here- you look sexy but useless."

I said, "Useless?"

He nodded and said, "I can't use."

There is a picture of a guy's face buried in my butt. Maybe the shot is ridiculous, but I like my expression and hair. It looks like a perfume ad. He laughed and said, "You . . . very open."

I said, "Yeah, I am." After that, he laughed at everything I said, pretty much.

He said none of these photos showed my personality but one Sarah took of me late 2009 would work the best. He said, "Then you can save up and my guy will do pictures for $125. Two looks."

Thats a good price.

We reviewed the contract. Its a 2 year contract with the ability for me to drop them/him if there is a 4-month period of no work.

I said, "Can I use your template for my headshots?"

He said, "Well, you have to sign with me."

I said, "Oh. . . well . . . thats rude of me. Do you want me?" Then I saw a stray hair on his desk and picked it up. "Is that mine? Yup thats mine." I dropped it on the floor.

He laughed and pulled out the contract. "Yes. Review and schedule a time to come back. Your hair red? Brown? Red?"

I said, "Auburn? But I want to get the red out of my hair, it just won't go away since I dyed it for a film last year."

He said, "No, you keep. Keep. I don't have enough red hair."

Then he wrote on my headshot, "You . . . 5'9?"

I said, "And a half."

The thing with agents is you never know what you are going to get. This is what I knew about him:

-He wasn't sleazy

-He didn't hit on me

-He mentioned he books people for all sorts of things, including catalogue modeling and once got someone on as co-star on Lost

-He will use my photos and quoted me very low prices on his photographer, which was optional

We scheduled the signing for my birthday, which I thought was appropriate. I showed up with Abe, who introduced himself and slipped out for a cigarette.

The Agent motioned to the only headshot pinned to the wall behind him, a beautiful brunette and said, "This was your competition. She very experienced. (he took her headshot down so I could have a closer look. I didn't need one) I tell her honest, go to Abrams. And I take you."

I studied her face, she looked like a pro.

He pinned the headshot back over his desk. I said, "You are going to put it back up there?"

He laughed, "Yes, as a reminder."

We got out all the paperwork and signed.

I said, "You know, today is my birthday." I felt like an asshole almost immediately. Why would someone say that unless they were cornering a person for good wishes?

He said, "Next year I wish you a good birthday. But I can't this year. My oldest son died September 11th. My religion says no celebration for one year. So no Christmas, no New Year, no birthdays. One year."

I am once, twice the asshole.

"I am so sorry for your loss."

Once again, I heard the lecture that he needed high resolution commercial photos of me (aka one of me smiling without the lower third of my face diminishing).

I motioned to that bitch's headshot pinned to the back wall, "Like that one?"

He said, "Should I take down?"

I laughed, "No . . . keep it up."

Walking out of his office, I didn't feel celebratory. My birthday was depressing this year and I didn't know why. I was hoping the signing would perk me up.

When I called my mother to tell her I was signing with someone, she said, "Well . . . whatever." She doesn't intend to be cold. She truly believes that discouraging me will save me from disappointment and financial ruin. But, I don't need protection from my dreams.

Abe did my laundry below the theater house during my rehearsal. Mitchell was directing another production's rehearsal at the same time as Reservoir Bitches, so me and Ms. White broke off to work on lines in the lobby while I heard Em scream through the theater door. Her ear was getting cut off. I always hated that scene.

Ms. White is a 22 year old, white, brown-haired, slightly meaty, girl-next-door-type. I wouldn't be surprised if she still hasn't had her first orgasm.

Me: "By the way, how's Alabama?"

Ms. White:" Alabama? I haven't seen 'Bama in over a year and a half."

After a few read throughs she says, "I don't know nobody who can move ice. (slower) I don't know nobody that can move ice. This script is so hard to read."

I said, "I know, its not traditional format."

Ms. White said, "I just think he typed it while watching the movie."

I laughed hard, "Thats why some of the lines are wrong."

She lowered her voice, "The way he is directing this is like so the opposite of what I learn in acting class."

I said, "I know." And shrugged my shoulders.

She said, "I mean, he hasn't even carried us through blocking at all. Guh, he just annoys me."

I said, "I know, and what is with him telling me not to take my small purse with me in the scene? How am I supposed to pay for breakfast if I don't have a purse?"

I have a J Lo Original purse Abe got for me at Out of the Closet. Its small, pink & black plaid and my only purse.

Ms. White said, "I think its just too petite for a crime boss. If you want a big purse like mine, to sling over your shoulder, I can get you one. I have one in canvas."

I leaned back and said, "I don't need no big purse. I am a crime boss. I don't carry shit. I got people to carry shit for me."

She flickered a smile like she didn't quite get it. Then she said, "I think you should read this scene slower. Cause your like explaining it to me and we're old friends."

Oh, we are directing each other, are we?

I said, "Hm. Ok. (beat) You should decide how you feel about Alabama. Do you feel affection or are you upset?"

She said, "Oh, I decided I am just over it. I broke up with him and am totally over it, just don't care."

Em's husband said, "Yeah, that will read great on stage."

No kidding.

I said, "Well you character is sentimental. I mean, you bonded with Orange so fast, disclosing personal details, protecting him. And that was just one day. Think about a few years with the same partner."

She said, "Thats a good point. I don't know. I just don't think White cares one way or the other."

You can lead a horse to water . . .

I said, "Have you seen the movie?"

She said, "I did . . . for the first time last night. Honestly, I didn't really like it."

I covered my face with my hand. Behave.

Into my hand, I muttered, "Its actually an amazing film."

She said, "What?"

I removed my hand and said, "Its a classic film. Perfect, actually."

She said, "No the acting was good. I don't know. I just didn't see the big deal."

After rehearsal, Em, Abe and I went to my favorite restaurant, Real Food Daily.

My 2011/Age 33 depression was weighing heavy on my vegan nachos and burger. I just couldn't shake it.

We went to Em's for some patio chat and acted out stories from our day. It was delightful, but it wasn't a landmark birthday. It was like any other day. Does it need to be special just because its my birthday?

And, Gesus, it wasn't the worst birthday. When I turned 31, I got drunk, fought with Not-for-Profit and ran off with some hipsters I met at a bar to Silver Lake where I listened to them have sex, puked in someone's garden and lost my mother's phone. Did I mentioned I cried? . . . yeah.

Driving home at 33, I saw the full moon and wondered why it couldn't be special? I am 33 on 2011. Its a full moon, I am in love with someone who loves me back and is sane. I just signed a talent contract.

Maybe its the New Year.

At the Doggie Daycare, when I am sitting along in the break room, every once in a while people talk to me about their lives. They will just pop in and the right question turns the dishwashing station into a confessional.

A receptionist told me about how she ended a four year relationship that went nowhere. It was long distance, and she shelved her acting career, gained a few pounds and then didn't notice years of her life went by. She is just starting over now, trying to find herself. She only got misty once while talking about "him". She was mourning a death, letting go and rethinking her entire life.

Another Kennel Attendant told me the night club he manages at Universal City Walk is closing down. He is in the midst of a quarter-of-a-life breakdown. He went home to the Midwest and realized he spent 60 hours a week working and he still has no real career or girlfriend. He asked, "Whats the point of living in California if I am not going to really do anything?"

In the movies, you move to California and drive your convertable up on the beach and somehow, everything falls in place.

In real life, you don't understand how anyone gets by with the inflated food and gas prices, not to mention the rent and having to buy your own refrigerator where ever you move. Cost of living is so outrageous that you must justify being here with some ambition. If you aren't rich and aren't going to get rich, its not worth it.

There is a woman who lives at the Daycare, lets call her Meredith. She sleeps in one of the bedrooms and is paid extra to sleep with specific dogs. She showers there, eats there, sleeps there and spends most of her off time smoking just outside.

Recently, we were alerted that someone caused a scene in the lobby and were encouraged to call the police if we saw him again. He was a Hispanic male who was close with Meredith. A couple days ago, I saw her falling asleep in front of the computer between the doggie playgrounds and the breakroom. It was several hours into my shift, when I put my hand on her back and asked her if she wanted to go to the bedroom to sleep. She lifted her head and mascara was smeared down her face. Like a child she said, "Uh huh."

I said, "Ok, up we go." She didn't get up. She waved me off, muttered a few words then logged into Facebook. That has break-up written all over it. I've been there before. I just didn't have to sleep in a hallway at work when I did.

Abe is even going through something. He texted me that he needs time to center himself. "Without driving away all the time. I need a job and a life." I wrote him back "Of course" . . . "Anything I can do" . . . "I will always be there." I wouldn't respect him if he didn't fight for a life of his own.

We all make promises to ourselves with the New Year, whether we admit them out loud or not. Whether we leave behind old lovers, old habits, old lives- its a change. Change is kind of sad.

I miss school.

I miss laying flat on the bough of sailboats in the morning, while my (ex) husband moved them from marina to marina.

I miss that old dumpy apartment I lived in for 3 years in Mar Vista . . . just because. Frances (my cat) was alive with me then. I got my Master's Degree and divorce papers there. Life felt simpler even those couple of years ago.

I miss Not-for-Profit, waiting for me on my living room floor even though he drove me crazy with moody unpredictability.

I don't want to go backwards, but I miss them. What do you do with all these little memories, clamoring in your pocket when ever you walk forward?

Signing that contract means I am going forward with this crazy life. Instead of going to a temp agency, which my mother has been nagging me about for over a month, I went to a talent agency.

Oh 2011, you bring good, you bring bad . . . but bring it on!

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