That Time I Knew Something About a Car

This is how the last week and a half has gone:

(Natalie breaks down that one Saturday.)
ME: Something’s wrong with the car.
DAD: (fixes it)
ME: Yay, thanks!
(Drives short distances for a day. Smoke no longer comes from under hood. Happy, appropriate-for-summer music)
NATALIE: I’m not feeling so good…
ME: Something’s wrong with the car.
DAD: No, it’s just bad gas.
ME: I don’t think so…
DAD: No, really. Driving is the only way to fix it.
ME: …Okay…
(Drives. Natalie gets sicker.)
ME: Something’s wrong with the car.
DAD: No. Drive it. Nothing’s wrong.
(Drives to places very far away, like auditions and book signings in other states. Natalie gets premium gas and feels a little better. Then I get home from New Jersey)
NATALIE: (hears swan song, cries tears of oil)
ME: There’s something wrong with the car.
DAD: No. It’s bad gas part two.
(Today, I drive to the gym. On the way home:)
NATALIE: (goes to meet maker in the middle of a busy, busy main road.)
ME: There was something wrong with the car.

So, needless to say, it wasn’t bad gas. Also needless to say, I was not happy that Natalie broke down in the middle of the road. But I was kind of happy that she broke down in general (and that it didn’t happen in Jersey) because my dad never would have believed me that something was wrong until it was proven by something as big as that (the fact that my car wouldn’t go more than 40 mph when I was flooring it wasn’t enough.) I also got lucky; not ten seconds after my car stopped moving, a policeman came along. This was good because when my dad fixed the car, he purposely disabled the window mechanism for the driver’s side, so I couldn’t power down my window and wave on cars behind me; I kept having to drape myself across the car and flap my hand outside of the passenger’s side window. He looked at all of my documents while I was on the phone with AAA and my father. Another officer showed up, and with one driving in front of me and one pushing my powerless car from behind, they got me onto the shoulder of the road.

It was both lucky and frustrating that my car broke down pretty much right outside my apartment complex. I could have been at my front door in five minutes. But I couldn’t leave my car, and AAA wasn’t going to be there for at least half an hour. So I sat in the car and read, waiting.

When I was on the phone with AAA, I had told them that the tow truck driver only had to take my car the .2 miles to the parking lot of my complex. But then my dad called and told me to have the car taken to the garage recommended by my uncle, who lives in the area. So when the tow truck driver showed up, I gave him the address… and he flipped out.

“Where’s this?!” he demanded. “Uh… Lansdale,” I said, thinking that was obvious from the address I had scribbled on the back of an old audition sheet (you know you’re an actor when…) “Yeah, but WHERE? How many miles is it from here?” “I don’t know. I’ve never been there.” “You’ve never been there?” he repeated, almost mockingly. “No,” I said. “I’m not from here. I usually take my car to my hometown to be serviced.” “Well, how am I supposed to find it? How am I supposed to know the milage? I thought I was only taking you there.” He pointed angrily toward the apartment complex. I explained that yes, that had been the original plan, but this would be better than a useless car sitting in a parking lot. He practically rolled his eyes at me. ‘Well, you’re gonna have to pay,” he said finally. “Um… how?” “Cash or cheque. It’s $4 a mile.”

I had $15 in my wallet, and my chequebook was in my apartment. But even if I had had it… $4 a mile, on my non-budget budget, could be disasterous. He insisted that we go to my apartment building so I could run upstairs, get my chequebook, and pay him. As I climbed into the truck, I thought back to the car breakdown last summer, and how dangerous it is for girls on their own to have no choice but to get in cars with these strange men. I had taken the gate sensor from my car so I could let us into the complex. His truck was much bigger than my car, and the gate wasn’t picking up the sensor. He impatiently inched his truck up. “Why isn’t it working? Why isn’t it working?!” He was acting like I was doing all of this as a funny joke.

I had texted my mom that the guy wanted a cheque from me and she texted back, “NO!” She called and demanded to talk to him. He got on the phone with AAA. At one point, I was on his phone and my phone at the same time, one to each ear like a comedy sketch, except in real life it was not funny. Eventually, it was worked out that I could pay by credit card to AAA, and he got directions to the garage, which was only fourteen miles away. His reaction to having to drive those miles was akin to someone having their arm sawn off. Isn’t that his job?

It has been pre-diagnosed that it’s the transmission, and it might be the end of Natalie. Thankfully, I don’t require a car this week except one time when it would be helpful. But the general fact that the car might be dead is not so good.


Geez Louise

When it rains, it pours, as they say.

This morning at 9:30, I had a training session for my new tourguiding job. I woke up late, which meant my breakfast was a sad granola bar instead of something more filling. The tour was really fun, though. I had been thinking that if I had to give up a job, this one might be it, but after going on the tour, I saw how much I would enjoy it after the awfulness that is memorizing tours.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had an interview with a restaurant on Friday. It went very well; I was quickly passed to the second round, then asked to stand by to attend a third. In a way, it seemed almost too good; I felt like I was saying all these negative things and they were seeing them as great. I’d be like, “I have another restaurant job, so I’m not really that available,” and they’d say, “It’s so great that you have restaurant experience!” It was to the point where I felt I could say, “I’m a murderer,” and they would have been like, “What an interesting and unique pastime! That really sets you apart from the other applicants!”

The third round happened today, after my tour training, with the owner of this restaurant (as well as about half of the restaurants in the city.) It didn’t start out well, simply because I went to the wrong location, then was sent from Location #2 ro Location #3 and arrived there flustered, which caused me to babble at the secretary. When I finally took my seat, I was sitting with three other girls and one guy, all very well-dressed. I had been pretty sure the job was mine until I saw them. But as it turns out, we were all there for different jobs. The secretary was annoyed because the restaurant hadn’t told her I was coming, so I was a nuisance from the second I walked in the door. But the boss didn’t seem to care. Before I went in, the guy who was also interviewing came out and said to me, “Are you good with eye contact?” “Yes,” I said, because I am when I have to be. “Look him right in the eye the whole time,” he advised me, and as soon as I was brought back to the boss’ office, I saw why the guy had given me that instruction. The boss’ eye contact was almost painfully intense, and the sort of interview that would usually take ten minutes took him five as he fired questions at me. Even so, he was a nice guy and I didn’t feel like I was being tossed to the curb when my interview was over in two and a half minutes (literally. No one else was any different.)

When I left the office, the secretary told me to go back to the actual restaurant where I’d applied; they’d be expecting me. When I got there, I was told that the manager had stepped out, but I could wait for him at the counter. He was out for awhile, though, and the other manager very apologetically insisted that he treat me to lunch there. I thought it might be kind of awkward- what if the manager came over and I was chewing or there was grease on my hand?- but besides the fact that he was very, very insistent, it was also 2 p.m. and the only thing I’d had to eat was the granola bar, so I ended up ordering food. When I was about halfway through, the manager came over and said that he was sorry, they hadn’t expected the boss to send me over today, but to keep an eye on my e-mail because Cameron was going to write me about training sessions. “Congratulations,” he said, and we shook hands, sealing the deal on my fifth job.

So now I have more jobs than is sane. After talking to my mom today, I’m going to keep all of them for now, since my other restaurant job is still slow, but eventually, something will have to give. I don’t know what it’ll be, but no matter what it is, I know it’ll be hard because I’m always afraid people will take it personally. But we’ll see what happens.

Then tonight, I checked my e-mail and found a message from a guy who is in the film department at the school where I’m doing my next film, as well as the one I did in November. He said that he had liked my work in my last film, as well as my audition for the upcoming film, and was offering me a part straight up; no audition. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can take it because I have conflicts on at least one of the days, but it feels pretty amazing to be offered a part straight out. I’ve never had that happen before.

Things, to say the least, are crazy.

Too Many Opportunities?

Is that possible? I think it might be.

As I mentioned two posts ago, I just got a new job with a tourguiding company. After I officially had the job, I debated cancelling all of my interviews that I had that week. But I decided to go to them, in case the tours didn’t work out (I think my last job traumatized me; I seriously don’t trust anyone anymore.) I don’t think I’ll get the last box office job I talked about, simply because they didn’t like how clear I was that I wanted to have an acting career. It seems weird that a theatre would have that reaction, but that’s their prerogative, and it’s not an ideal position for me because of all the numbers.

I had another interview on Monday for a house management position at a big university in this area. To be honest, it’s not the type of job I usually go for, for the exact reason I never go for other non-acting theatre jobs: house management hours are actor hours. I expected the interview to go much like the box office meeting had gone. But the whole feeling of the interview was different. I sort of felt like I was being ganged up on at the box office interview; at this one, I had an actual conversation with the manager, who liked me because I was early, friendly, and wore a blazer (she told me this.) “As far as I’m concerned,” she said, “The job is yours.” I was stunned and shockingly excited. I didn’t think I actually wanted the job, but as it turns out, I really do. I get to use the natural bossiness I usually try to hide to direct a staff and I get to be in a theatre setting, even if all of the gigs aren’t of a theatrical nature. I got my hire letter today and I fully intend on accepting the position. I don’t think it’s enough money to allow it to be only one of two jobs, so as of now, I’ll be serving and touring as well as house managing. But it’s nice to feel enthusiastic about a non-acting job for once.

Then yesterday, I got a call from a restaurant I applied to a week or two ago. I was thrilled to be called, but I felt it would be wrong to interview when I had just been hired at the tours AND (unofficially, at that point) the university. So I said, “I’m really sorry, but I actually just got a job this week. Could you maybe keep my application on file, just in case?” (Again, I trust no one anymore.) I thought he would be miffed that I was giving up an opportunity, even though I couldn’t have known I would be hired elsewhere when I applied at this restaurant. Instead, he said, “We’d really like to bring you in. Can you come in this week?” So on Friday, I have another interview.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do if this restaurant job is genuinely attractive to me. I’m a very loyal person, and I would feel bad quitting the serving job I have now. I like my coworkers and my managers, I like singing, and I haven’t even been there a year. But if I want to take this new restaurant job, the serving job will have to be the one to go, because their hours will be the same. Honestly, it may come down to pay. I get paid very well at my serving jobs, compared to most waitresses, and I never forget that. But if this restaurant job pays better, and it’s a stationary workplace, and I wouldn’t be serving… that’s pretty alluring. Of course, I may be getting ahead of myself; this new restaurant might not want to hire me. But if they do, I’ll have some decisions to make.

Just to make things more complicated, today I found out about the PERFECT job for me. It’s so perfect, I don’t even want to say what it is. Suffice it to say that I got a headrush after reading about it, crafted my cover letter in a way that (I hope) screamed “HIRE ME!!!!” without the frothing-at-the-mouth enthusiasm I felt, and an hour after I applied, I worried that they had already put my application in the “no” pile. I’ve been driving myself crazy all day wondering whether they’ve gotten the email/read it/thought about it/were thinking of replying. If I don’t get this job, I’ll be truly heartbroken.

And then there’s the job I kind of doubt will ever pay me enough to be considered a job: I was hired by an online newspaper as a freelance writer, covering arts-related events at my alma mater. My first article was accepted and published on the site, but we’ll see how much of a job it ends up being.

None of this is anything to complain about, of course. In this economy, to have one job is lucky. To have this many opportunities is insane. I’m grateful for all of them, but I will have to pick and choose, and that kind of thing is hard for me. I don’t like quitting and I don’t like letting people down, even if it’s to take advantage of a new and/or better opportunity. What I need to remember is that I need to think about myself, not how I might hurt other’s feelings, especially since I think people usually understand when someone needs to move on.

Again, this could all be premature. But I am hoping that soon, I’ll be working jobs that are closer to what I love to do while still allowing me to do what I actually love to do.


Poor Natalie the Nissan is injured (hopefully not dead.) She let me know this on the way to work this morning by filling the inside of my car with smoke. I showed up for work (by train, and subway, and foot) almost two hours late to find out that I was serving a special needs cruise, where I covered ten tables.All I can say is, thank God they cut me from tonight’s cruise. Besides being unable to get home had I stayed, I was not in a mental state to work a double. One day, I dream of dealing with a situation in a non-hysterical manner.

Application Anxiety

I should be memorizing my lines for the film. That’s what I came to this cafe to do, besides pass the time before my serving shift starts. But I am just really, really tired, which makes it hard to concentrate on something like that. I shouldn’t even be tired; I let myself sleep until ten this morning since I’d been up before the sun the two mornings before. But though I woke up refreshed, my job interview today really stressed me out, and now I’m exhausted again.

My interview- one of three this week, in addition to the ten applications I walked around the city distributing; I now know the true meaning of “pounding the pavement.”- was for a theatre in the city that I greatly admire. Though it seems natural for an actor to work in a theatre in a different capacity than onstage, I actually never have, save for when I did an internship a few years ago. It’s actually something I’ve kind of avoided, simply because box office and front-of-house people (for which I was applying today) keep the same hours as actors, making it impossible to do the box office job AND be in a show at the same time. But I decided to apply anyway because I really would like to work in a theatre, and who understands an actor’s schedule better?

When I got there, I was handed an application, and the paper that was stapled to the back made my stomach drop. It was a math problem. My fear of math is such that I actually almost handed the paper right back and said, “I’m sorry, I won’t be applying for this job anymore.” Instead, I reminded myself that I worked in a box office before and I do handle money when I waitress. As it turned out, it wasn’t a very hard problem, one that most people could probably do in their head, and I was able to work it out without much trouble.

When the manager came out to talk to me, she was not happy with my availability. At first, I thought how stupid I was to, basically, be honest about my schedule, but later in the interview, when it was revealed that if there is no show, their employees don’t get many hours, I was happy I had been honest. That’s actually one of the hardest parts about job interviews for me. I don’t want to have a full schedule that my potential employer sees as a huge problem; I just want to write over the blank schedule, “I CAN DO ANYTHING!!!” But the fact is that I have a job already, and while I need another one, putting the first in jeopardy is not the way to go about it. It got to the point, in this pre-interview interview, that the manager left to ask the other manager if they should even bother going further with the interview because of my schedule. Even though this was a product of my being honest, I felt horrible, though if I’m honest, my feelings probably had more to do with not wanting my name on this theatre’s general blacklist than potentially losing this job.

But to my surprise, they decided to proceed and the interview itself actually went quite well. Even so, it was really draining. Pretending to be peppy for that long is exhausting, especially while the inside my head is a jumble of commands: ‘Keep looking at her; she’s talking,’  ‘Don’t get distracted by that person on the other side of the window. DO NOT LOOK AT THEM!’, ‘What is your body language saying right now? Keep it open,’ ‘Be an active listener!’, ‘Don’t get nervous and lie and say ha ha, you were just kidding on the application, you can do any hours they want OHGODPLEASEHIREME.’

Of course, I’m not as desperate as all that anymore, for the simple reason that I got another job! This past Tuesday, I had an audition/interview for yet another touring company (my new motto is, If You Do Tours, I’ll Be Yours.) It went very well, and I could tell they really liked me. It’s honestly not the touring job I wanted- I’d actually prefer the company I auditioned for yesterday- but at this point, I just need a prospect; I can focus on the dream day job (as if there were such a thing) later, once I can actually pay my rent. Plus, it pays fairly well, I might get tips, the hours are good for any rehearsals I might have as well as working with my serving job, and I’m a good tourguide. I debated whether I even wanted to go on these other interviews, but since I still have to memorize and participate in some unpaid training for this new job, which could take awhile, I figured I might as well try to get something even for a little awhile, and if I can hold three jobs, then I’ll have to quit one of them. I just want to see if I can do it, especially since I have no idea where I’ll be living come May. I thought I had it all worked out until yesterday. I went to look at my high school friend Ashley’s apartment last weekend, and the situation was perfect; besides it being a really nice, in-the-city apartment, I think Ashley and I would make good roomies, and she needed someone exactly when I did. So I agreed to live there, but when she went to tell her landlord that she had someone to take her current roommate’s place, he informed her that he was demolishing the apartments at the end of the student year. Because she’d have to move to a one-bedroom a year from May (she’s getting married), Ashley’s decided to just look for one now and avoid the extra move. So now I’m back to square one.

It’s funny how I’ve only been not-even-actually-unemployed for two weeks, but it felt like months because I was so stressed about getting something. I really wish I had quit the tours earlier so I could be working my second job now, instead of basically starting it when my serving job is picking it up, but what can you do? I’m just too trusting of my employers sometimes, though I wish we lived in a world where we could trust every employer in the world. As it happens, my leaving the touring job was only the start of a flurry resignations from that company; Beth quit less than a week after I did, and my other friend who works for them, Olivia, has seen the light, too, not to mention that Jane is thinking of quitting, as well. Hopefully this shows our boss how irresponsible she’s being.

Since I haven’t been working steadily for a few weeks, going back to work, even for one day, has proved to me that it is all this walking that causes my injured foot to hurt, which I guess is obvious. Even after just one shift of constant walking (and stupidly forgetting my shoe insert), I was limping from my car to my apartment building. Of course, I had been walking around much of the day, including dancing in the morning during an Emperor’s New Clothes show, but it was definitely work that aggravated it. These past few weeks, I kept thinking to myself how great my foot felt. Well, I guess it didn’t feel great, it just felt like a foot, like a part of my body that was working the way it’s supposed to. But there’s no way my life- or anyone’s, really- allows them to rest it as much as I was able to during the last month.

But as much as I know my foot will be hurting by Sunday night, I’m very grateful for this Valentine’s Day weekend; beginning last night, I am working five shifts in four days. During the summer, this scheduling would be something to complain about, but besides the fact that I need the money, I’m really glad to be doing something to earn that money, instead of sitting around worrying.

That Acting Thing I Do, For Better or Worse

Sunday was a terrible day, one of the only acting-related bad days I’ve had in a long time.

Around Thanksgiving, I auditioned for a production of Hairspray. It was my first audition at that theatre and it was a little intimidating simply because I only knew one person and we were two twenty-somethings sitting in the middle of a sea of giggling, show-offy fourteen year-olds who were all the director’s cronies. Nevertheless, the audition went very well, and I was asked to stay for callbacks that night. I wasn’t called back for any specific character, but Hairspray would be a great show for me to be in, even as a chorus member; it’s not often I get to be a dancer. I had a great time at the callback and picked up the dance pretty well. I felt good.

Skip ahead two months and my friend Facebooked me and told me that the director had stepped down and everyone who had been cast (not that a list had been released) was no longer in the show and they were redoing the whole process. She and I both signed up for new audition times. Probably a week or two later, we both received an e-mail saying that the casting committee had been very impressed with our talent and wanted us to come straight to callbacks. My friend and I told the casting director that we had already signed up for times, and the CD said to come to those times, we’d be invited to callbacks, and all would be well.

So on Sunday, I went to my audition with a different song. It’s a pretty standard audition song, but the pianist did not handle it well; he was playing something completely different than I was singing and I had to start over twice, which I hate doing. When I was finished, the director said, “Thank you.” And nothing else.

Thank you means “thanks for coming.” Thank you means no callback.

I was confused. The old committee wanted me to stay, but if the new one didn’t want me to, I didn’t want to show up somewhere they didn’t want me to. I asked the monitor and he said he would check when there was a lapse in auditioners. An hour later, I was still waiting. And it’s not that I wanted them to service me right away, but if I was taking up space when I could go home and have dinner there instead of eating it out of a tupperware container, I much preferred that. But I didn’t want to be a diva, so I kept waiting. My friend arrived and we were chatting, but she was getting distracted by all of her Tracy competition and I was getting distracted by the growing number of people arriving for callbacks and taking up space in the tiny room. It got to the point where I thought I was going to scream if someone touched me again. I saw the monitor and worked my way through the crowd to him. “Should I stay?” I asked. He barely looked at me. “Uh… yeah, sure, stay.”

This was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted a callback, definitely, but I wanted them to WANT me at callbacks. I didn’t want a perfunctory, “sure, honey, if it’ll make you happy” invite. I spent a good few minutes trying to decide which would be worse: leaving before a callback to which I was technically invited, or staying when I knew I wasn’t wanted. In the end, I chose the latter, and later wished I hadn’t. The last callback had been full, but this one had double the number of people- I think the final count was fifty-five, mostly girls. The old director’s cronies were loudly miffed that they had been downgraded from older teen character callbacks by actors who were, you know, over fourteen. And the dance was really, REALLY hard. The last one was hard, too, but I picked up on it. This one was harder, and I looked five times worse because most of the girls were unbelievably incredible dancers. My mood continued to go lower when the director split us up into character groups and I wasn’t on the list for any of them.

But I stayed. And I danced, which usually makes me feel better, even if I’m bad, but it didn’t. In the end, because I had been put in the Council Girls group (and because they didn’t want me there), I was sent home and I couldn’t have been happier about it.

I arrived home in a terrible mood and threw myself on my bed to check my e-mail… and saw that I had an e-mail from the director of a student film I had just auditioned for. I got the female lead. And instantly, my mood turned around. This was amazing, because even before the awful night, I had been having a terrible, crying-for-no-reason day. But getting that part in a super-cute film really made everything better. So thank God for that. We shoot the first weekend in March!

on getting older

Tessa is a vlogger whom I’ve followed for about two years now, and she makes some great points in this video. From the start, society glorifies people who achieve things at a young age, and in a way that makes me, at least, feel that getting older devalues you and your accomplishments. As Tessa points out, maturing is an important and essential part of life.


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