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.


Failure is Not Fatal, So They Say

Today has been quite, quite awful.

I got up this morning very excited- at four this afternoon, I was planning to go to the first rehearsal for my play, and I could not wait. After I got ready to go to the gym, I figured I’d check my e-mail while I ate breakfast. That’s when I saw the message:

“It is with a heavy heart I must tell you that we can no longer accommodate your play in our festival. In the past two days we’ve lost 5 actors, 2 replacements, and a director. Due to scheduling conflicts, we found no way to cast your show in time with a director who could take on the piece. I’m so sorry about this.”

I was shocked and really, really upset by this e-mail. I was also embarrassed. I’d told so, so many people that I was being produced, from my parents to my professors to my college friends to my friends that are themselves very successful playwrights. They were all excited for me and a handful of them were even going to come to see the play. And now I had to un-tell them.

I think the worst part of this whole thing is that I can’t blame the theatre company. As you can see in the message above, what happened was completely out of their control. Even as I was driving to the gym to work off my frustration and desperately thinking, “But I know a ton of actors and directors. I am an actor! I can make this happen!” I realized that the writer of the e-mail was right. The festival is in ten days, and that’s not enough time to cast the right people in the roles with a director who is enthusiastic or at least appropriate for the piece. And, I decided after this realization, I would rather wait and have the piece produced with care then demand, or try myself, to have it produced so quickly. It would probably be worse for a half-baked piece to go up than to wait for the right time for this play to be done.

And it could be done. The company has asked to hold on to not only this play, but another one I sent them for the same festival. They said they really like them and “will definitely be in touch.” I’m taking this all with a grain of salt; in theatre, there are no promises. I may never hear from these people again. But I hope I do.

I sent out an e-mail to everyone (well, almost everyone) that I had invited to the festival, telling them that if they came, they would not see my piece onstage. It was really painful. But I did get an encouraging message from my playwriting mentor, who told me that these things happen (it’s happened to him four times, he wrote, and on a much bigger scale) and that it was not a small thing for my play to be considered ready to present publicly by a theatre company who knew nothing about me. This, more than anything else, made me feel a lot better.

But my day was not over yet. Oh, no. When I got home from the gym, I looked around my messy side of the room and decided to be productive and clean it. I threw all the stuff off my bed to make it and picked up my phone to see if my mom or anyone else had texted me, since I was in the middle of two conversations. What I found were two messages, from two different people, with information about my tourguide job. Oh, yes. It was 1:10 and apparently, I was supposed to be leading a tour that started at 12:45.

My mind has never been filled with more bad words, and I can’t believe they didn’t tumble out of my mouth when I called Beth and asked her what was going on and she said, “Aren’t you leading a tour right now?” I was practically convulsing on my bed as I said, “oh my God” over and over again as tears poured down my face. It only got worse when she told me that when someone misses a tour, they usually get fired. Awesome. So in addition to NOT being a produced, I was also going to have to tell people that I got fired from my job, and also deal with the monetary repercussions of losing said job. (The best part of this is, my mom texted me the other day and asked me to bring some chocolate home for her when I met up  with my family for Thanksgiving and I thought, ‘How sad that I don’t have a tour this week. That would have been so convenient.’) Beth assured me that she would talk to Jane and they would call me by tonight.

I spent a good portion of the day crying; my eyes are very, very dry right now. I was just getting over the embarrassment of suddenly not being produced and then this happened… and I couldn’t even blame it on anyone but myself and my dyscalculia. Because, just as I spent the entirety of every math class doing, I had written a number down wrong, and now I was going to be fired for it. Every time my phone made a noise, I would rush to check it. Finally, I got a message from Jane, saying that Beth had explained what had happened and everything was fine; I still had my job. THANK GOD.

However upset I was today- and still am, about the play- I constantly tried to put things into perspective. No, I wasn’t being produced. But I hadn’t lost any money on the play. It wasn’t rejected because of the quality of the writing or anything else that I did. There was no marquee that I was suddenly being taken off of. While I was in employment limbo, I told myself that I do have another job. And every time I was tempted to think or say, “THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER,” I reminded myself that not only have I certainly had worse days, but that one of my friends lost her mother today, and that my situation could certainly not be called worse than hers; my mother was texting me encouraging words from work. And as if it was meant to be, I just happened upon the following quote, which gives me hope:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston Churchill