Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Unexpected benefits of volunteering

So I've mentioned I volunteer for the SAG Foundation. I've also mentioned that I've been actively taking classes at the SAG Conservatory. Recently, I signed up for a class at the Conservatory to orientate (?) new volunteers there, and ended up getting added to the roster of volunteers as soon as that class session ended.

Just before March began, the schedule of all classes that needed volunteers was emailed out, and because I responded immediately, I was booked for 4 classes, two on the same day but with a long break between them, and then the other two later in the month. Then on the 1st of March, I got added to another class (which is actually tonight).

I was booked for work on set last week, on the day that I was scheduled to volunteer twice. So I had to "call out" and get a replacement. I know they replaced me for the evening class (I honestly knew beforehand that they would, because that instructor is my favorite, and that's probably a consensus amongst students there). I hope they found a replacement for the morning class. I was bummed that I had to miss both of those, because I'm nervous about my first time. I have to set up the camera and record all the sessions and then play those back and give people copies on their cards or drives, and although I took copious notes in the training sessions, technical stuff is not necessarily in my immediate wheelhouse, and I haven't had a chance to "practice". So wish me luck that I don't completely #FuckItAllUp tonight!

*** Also, #ICYMI (because I neglected to actually STATE it), #AnyDayOnSetIsAGoodDay and I'm #Blessed to have missed my volunteerism for work. #SetLife #WorkBegetsWork #WorkIsAGoodThing

Ennyhoo, let's get to the really good stuff - the title of this post!

At our very first orientation class (there were two, actually), we were shown upon arrival where all the goodies were kept. Snacks. Beverages. Folders and tins of mints and plastic luggage tags and notebooks with nice pens and phone chargers. SWAG (Stuff We All Get). Good, cool, free stuff, just for saying "yeah, you can have my time". I ended up with a few of those phone chargers. They're great when you're on a set that has limited electrical outlets. They work for both my phone and my tablet. It's awesome. #Grateful #GreatFull

Near the end of last week, an email went out to ALL of the volunteers looking for participants in an AFI student film "loop group". I have taken a few looping classes at the Don LaFontaine VoiceOver Lab at the SAG Foundation, so I (of course) immediately signed up to participate.

*Looping is the recording of voices for a film or show, done after principal photography, to either replace onscreen dialogue or fill in dialogue that wasn't shot on-the-day. It can be the background conversations of random people on the street or in the restaurant, or it can be PA announcements in a train station or hospital, or it can even be grunts, moans, and breathing. It can be a lot of things. It's all recorded at full volume, and then edited in very quietly. It adds to the scene we see, without overtaking it.*

At any rate, the six of us who replied most quickly were picked, and we showed up to a home studio in the middle of nowhere to record all of ^that^ kind of stuff for about an hour/hour and a half. The home studio was amazing. It made me a bit jealous (#TotesJelly), because it was so well constructed, and it exists in someone's house. Because it's a student film, none of us will be paid for our work. But we will all receive credit, and I'm going to find out whether that "day" "on set" counts towards my health eligibility. Because I think it might!

... And I wouldn't even have known about that opportunity (to practice looping, to network with other loopers, to network with up-and-coming filmmakers), had I not signed up to volunteer.

Now I just have to survive tonight.

What about you? Do you currently volunteer for anyone? What unexpected blessings have you received from it? Let's chat!

Friday, March 1, 2019

A back-pedal catch-up

I hate winter. I think y'all may already know that. I grew up in Miami, at a time when the Great Outdoors was just as good at watching your kids as the boob tube was. Maybe better. I dunno. Mommy didn't let us watch television, as a general rule (we had to ask to watch a specific show and could turn the set on as that show was starting), but boy howdy were we allowed to go outside and play. So, in Miami, it's always hot. ALWAYS. If you're a kid, you get used to that. If you get thirsty, you drink from the hose. You learn pretty early that on the hottest of days, you have to let the water run a little so you don't drink HOT water from the hose. But seriously, there's no such thing as winter in Miami.

After childhood, we lived in North Carolina. Where winter happens. And since it's East Coast, you still get high humidity, which means hot weather feels hotter, and cold weather feels colder. Did I mention that I hate winter? I think I did. In case you missed it, I hate winter. #ICYMI #IHateWinter

Now I live in "sunny" California. This is the view outside our front door, today, March 1st, at 3:30-ish p.m.:
It's not sunny today. It's cold (-ish). It's overcast. It's gloomy. It's #IHateWinter.

My POINT being (yeah, I know, get to the point already! Sheesh!) that when the weather begins cooling in the Fall, my body reacts like that of any warm-blooded mammal: I gain weight. I put on extra body fat, as if I'm going to hibernate. Part of my hatred of winter is a hatred of having to wear extra layers of clothing. Having to find clothing that still fits well, over the new layer of fat. Not being as active, because hibernation is a real thing.

So the real point is (I know, I know, this has all been a big tease. Shut up.) - at some point in late January, I decide to start walking more. I'll replace the battery in my nonFitbit thingy. I'll see if it'll talk to the app in my phone (it won't, but I still hold out hope). I start walking more.

In February, I made a concerted effort to add 1000 steps per day to my previous day's step count. It was hard, at first, because going from sedentary to a lot of steps in a week or so is hard, ya know? So I walked to the Y, figuring maybe I'd use the treadmill. I did. But the treadmill I tried out was non-traditional. It had a slope to it. It was self-propelled, rather than electric. I ended up walking only about 1000 steps on it. I'd find the sweet spot of where to walk, and it would somehow speed up. I'd lose my balance, grab the handlebars and step outta the sweet spot, and it would slow down (a lot). I gave up.

Also, I think I injured myself because it was so difficult.

A couple days after that trip to the Y, I was on set and developed a limp. My right Achilles tendon hurt, but only while walking. So I tried to walk as little as possible. But our holding space was uphill from the street level. The set was a different uphill from the street level. Craft Services was downhill from street level. The portajohns were a little hike down the street. Catering was a long hike down the street. I couldn't NOT walk.

It was a good day on set, overall, considering. But not what I was expecting. And then basecamp and crew parking were on an ungraded dirt lot. By the end of my day, I was in serious pain. Got home and found every remedy I could, and over the course of the rest of that week, I had applied them all. Heat. Ice. Elevation. Ace wraps. Epsom salt baths. Epsom salt foot soaks. Ibuprofen, of course. Topical analgesics. I bought a compression sleeve, Dr. Scholl's insoles, and a sturdy(-ish) OTC ankle brace. I tried a lot of things in conjunction with each other. The only thing that seemed to help with any regularity was the compression sleeve. I had a couple of days where I would try to walk, but my normal 3-3.5mph speed was drastically slowed to 2 mph. This is misery.

So I started walking by jogging on just the balls of my feet. I looked and felt silly, and also uncomfortable. No way I'm going to "jog" a couple of miles at 2mph! So I shifted. Left foot, step normally. Right foot pointed, land on toes first and gradually adjust the step to incorporate more of the foot. In fewer than 100 steps, I was back up to speed! Hallelujah!

But I didn't want to reinjure myself, so I popped in at a local Foot Doc. Made an appointment for a free consultation. Continued carefully taking longer and longer walks. At the consultation, I was advised to

  1. get rid of the insoles and brace. They were doing no good, and possibly harm
  2. keep wearing the compression sleeve, but for no more than 12 hours at a stretch. It's helping
  3. do specific stretches before getting out of bed and then throughout the day. (I gave up on these after about a day, because they're not easy, especially if you have to pee immediately upon waking and then the cats want belly rubs)
  4. ICE potentially throughout the day, but especially at bedtime (and then Don't Get Back Up). (This was hard at first because the ice pack leaked that first night. It's been easier with a re-freezeable gel pack in its own soft sleeve). No More HEAT!
  5. buy New Balance walking shoes, or at least something with a) removable insoles AND b) firm, unwavering, untwistable heel/ankle support. I love my cheap Filas that I got at Costco (#WalkingSamplingLunch, baby!), but they're completely wrong for a power walker, which I apparently am
  6. get orthotic insoles. He gave me a link to get GOOD ones off the rack, as it were, or suggested I come in to get fitted for bespoke. I now have an appointment for the bespoke
Basically, what he told me is yes, I may have injured myself on that weird treadmill. Also, I have very high arches. And scoliosis. And a longer right leg than left. And good posture for someone with scoliosis, high arches, one longer leg, and tendonitis. So I need to not exacerbate my condition. Walking is good for me. Powerwalking is fine. But not if I keep using the tools I had tried. So I'm gonna get custom orthotics, and probably some new sneakers. Sheesh.

And OH, I just remembered... in the month of February, I DID hit 20,000 steps one day. But I also stepped in a crack in the sidewalk instead of on it, and took a header. I'm grateful I didn't get a concussion or bite my tongue or break my teeth or jaw when my chin hit the sidewalk. It sure did hurt, though.
The evening of the day it happened. A slight scrape under my lip, but this lovely contusion just past the bone of the jaw

Today. There's still a little knot of flesh right at the front, but the bruise seems to have moved down to my neck?

... so that's just some of the catching up I wanted to give ya. Specifically in relation to "how many steps I took this month", wanting to work my way back into my beach-ready body, hurting my ankle, and hurting my chin, and all the ways those things relate to each other.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I've been busy - how 'bout YOU?

I got sleepy in the middle of the day today, so I took a nap (read: snuggled the furbabies in a reclined position in the bed), and whilst there, I made BIG PLANS for a blog post today.

But I have too much to say. Too much to catch you up on. Too many feels!

So I'll just leave these little morsels here:

  • I'm happy and grateful that I get to make my living on set. My goal is to also make pension and health insurance every year, starting with this quarter. So, yeah! Three days of work per week! Let's do it!
  • I'm happy and grateful to be walking my body back to lookin' and feelin' great! Beach body before winter ends! Yeah! 5000 steps or more per day, please and thank you! Let's do it!
  • I'm happy and grateful to be in an acting class that covers not only acting or auditioning technique, but also technical stuff like websites. I HAVE A NEW WEBSITE! Check me out! emelle4real.com Yeah! Self-promotion like a boss! Let's do it!
  • I'm happy and grateful that I'm actually reading for pleasure and growth. I recently checked out from my public library "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert and "The Slight Edge" by Jeff Olson, and I liked both of these books well enough to purchase copies for myself. Yeah! Read at least 10 pages of a good book each day! Let's do it!
  • I'm happy and grateful to be recording audiobooks (kid lit), so far just for the listening enjoyment of the niblings. Could it lead to a contract with a major publisher? Why not? So, yeah! Keep reading to the kiddos! Let's do it!
  • I'm happy and grateful to be on the roster of volunteers at the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory. This (school) year is the first time I've taken advantage of the tens of thousands of dollars' worth of acting/business education offered to union members at the low, LOW price of $45/year, and I've gotten so much out of it so far, I'm ready to "give back". Yeah! Help a sistah (or brotha) OUT! Let's do it!
There's still too much to tell you, and maybe I'll get to it tomorrow or the next day. I might be back on set tomorrow, so we'll see. But THIS post needs to be published before I head out to this evening's class, so... YEAH! WRITING MORE BLOG POSTS TO STAY IN TOUCH! LET'S DO IT!

How can it POSSIBLY get even better than this?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Last night, I had a “Princess and the Pea” moment. Typically, when I go to bed, I’ll pull the top pillow down to the foot(-ish) of the bed, and get in, lying on my back. Typically, I have to shoo Smokey and/or Cocoa off the covers and top sheet so that I CAN get in bed. The reason I lie on my back (at first recline) is for feline belly rubs.
Smokey comes up my right side, crossing or perching on my chest and ribcage 3 or four times before finally settling into my right armpit. I’ll start his belly rubs, while he rests his head on my diaphragm, watching Cocoa attempt to settle in on my left side. She wants to walk all the way up to my face, and if I reach for her At All (to scratch her head or whatever), she’ll back away toward my feet. She does this three or four times as well, sniffing or licking Smokey’s head in the process, and then she’ll eventually plop down (very ungracefully) against my left ribcage, throwing her back leg over my hand for optimal belly rubs.
Cocoa would honestly rather have me to herself, so she typically hounds me for her personal belly rubs throughout the day, or she’ll wake me (too) early for one-on-one snuggles. This means that she also tends to depart the bedtime belly rubs pretty quickly; within five minutes, Smokey has me to himself.
After ten or twenty minutes (just about when I’ve fallen asleep), Smokey will depart, as well. I don’t blame him; what’s the point of perfect belly rub positioning if you’re not actually getting your belly rubbed? Once I am sans feline, I’ll roll over to one side and curl up, semi-fetal position, and go to sleep for the night (until Cocoa decides to wake me {too} early).
Last Night, when I curled up, I felt a pain in my ankle. It wasn’t a sharp pain, but it did feel like, if I didn’t do something about it, I would end up with a stone bruise. On My ANKLE. So I lifted the pillow I use as weight on my feet, and discovered a mouse.

No, it wasn’t a live mouse. Nor was it a dead mouse. It was a stuffed catnip mouse. When the mouse was new, it was vibrantly colored and had a purple felt tail. It still has the bell or rattle or whatever it is inside it that makes it an appealing toy (the catnip doesn’t hurt its appeal). It no longer has its tail. The ears are frayed. One eye is frayed. Most of its surface is frayed. It seems to be leaking stuffing through its muted-in-color, no-longer-vibrant pelt. Stephen often calls it a FISH (because the ears look like fins, and it has no tail).
Smokey is ALLOWING me to photograph FishMouse
But it’s well-loved, and the bed is honestly the best place for us to store the most-well-loved toys belonging to the cats, so they don’t go “hunting” in the middle of the night, while we’re sleeping. They can “hunt” all they want during the day, as long as we remember to bring the toys to bed with us.
*note to self: don't forget to return FishMouse to the bed, when this is posted
At Any Rate… the bell or rattle or whatever’s inside that damn mouse felt like a stone. It wasn’t a pea at the bottom of the stack of mattresses, it was atop the covers but under a pillow. And it was bugging me, y’all.
#ImAPrincess #ImaFuckingPrincessYall #ImaFuckingPrincessAndDontYouEverForgetIt

Monday, January 21, 2019

New stuff is new

I've been "doing" a lot of educational stuff to move my career forward. The other day, I had to film myself for a couple of auditions for a student film. Not all auditions are in person, unfortunately. Not everyone can coordinate schedules in an appropriate audition space. So sometimes we self-tape. My experience the other day was my first time self-taping in California (I had done one self-tape on the #WrongCoastForMe, and it was really really horrible.)

The other day wasn't as horrible. It still wasn't particularly good, but I ended up with two clips where you *can* see and hear me, and I *did* perform the lines that were given. So we'll see. The good news about all of it was that it'll no longer be "new" if when I have to self-tape again. #HowDoesItGetAnyBetterThanThis?

But sometimes, new stuff is actual stuff. Yesterday, Stephen and I took a little walk, just to get some steps in and also to get some fresh air. As we exited our building, we noticed a complete chest of drawers sitting in the alley. So we walked past it, discussing where we'd put it, in our tiny apartment, if we were to think about adding it to our furnishings.

Stephen's been a touch under the weather for the last few days, so when we got back in from our walk, he sort of "wound down" so he could go to bed relatively early, since he'd have to go in early to work today. So I assumed the chest of drawers would end up in someone else's apartment. But just as he was heading to bed, he suggested I go down and take some measurements. Hmm...

It's 4'4" wide, which was the biggest detriment to us bothering to bring it upstairs, unless it was also #SuperFuckingHeavy. While measuring it, I also removed all the drawers, so I could investigate the pulls and the tracks, and lift the damn thing as well, to gauge the weight. The drawer pulls were mostly tight enough but could use some tightening. The tracks were all in great shape. The dresser itself had one front leg that needed some tightening, and the center-back leg needed some realigning. The only detriment I found in the alley was the 4'4". But my favorite number is 4, so could we find a "home" for this piece?

I measured the wall in the kitchen next to the fridge: kind of a snug fit, and where would we relocate the stack of bins to? I measured the hallway wall, and figured that would work, at least temporarily. But what will a chest of drawers hold in a hallway? Hmm... Stephen eyeballed the living room wall with the entertainment center, and mentioned some rearrangement there. That would definitely give the piece "purpose" (hiding all the not-currently-in-use electronics, etc.), but would also require moving the two small toy chests elsewhere, so where? I told Stephen to sleep on that one, and I planned to spend today doing the tightening/cleaning that it would require.

Which means, YES. We brought it in last night, set it in the hallway with drawers sitting on top, so the cats could give it a good investigation and approval overnight.

And I've spent my morning listening to educational stuff whilst cleaning and rearranging and tightening and sorting and whatnot in the kitchen. We'll see what Stephen thinks before we put anything in the drawers, but I'm pretty happy with the idea of it holding Corningware or serving dishes or other kitcheny stuff, kinda like a china cabinet would (but having no Chinaware, we have no need of a china cabinet).

What do YOU think of our NEW thing? Are you a procurer of new stuff that's actually someone else's old stuff?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Blargh. It's already the 18th day of the new year!

As if "time" were a real thing, or "years" or "dates". I'm kicking myself because I haven't blogged since the 30th of December, or since the 364th day of the "old" year. Like it matters, in the grand scheme of life, how often you "hear" from me (or not).

I have been busy. I dunno why I'm kicking myself for not posting ideas I'm kicking around. #GratefulToBeBusy #BlessedWithWork #NoSADSoFar #WooHoooo #Hashtags

It's been Awards Season(TM), and you're probably aware that I've been receiving

  1. invitations to screenings
  2. physical screeners in the snail mail
  3. access to streaming screeners online
so of course, I've been watching and absorbing and enjoying all the movies and television/internet shows. I've also been back at my crocheting. I have been busy, creating tons* of beanies, mittens, and Moebius scarflets, as well as a pair of fingerless gloves for my mail carrier, PitBull.

*not LITERAL tons, just, ya know, a "shit ton" or possibly more than that, like maybe a "fuck tonne"

 I mailed out 22 items for family.
Bill "cheated" - opening the gift early, so he could wrap for the boys. I'm okay with that. ;)

I filmed a webseries of crocheting and movie reviews with a friend. I attended classes, at the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory and online and elsewhere. And I managed to have some days on set, and days where I walked again, and got groceries shopped for, and hung out with friends.

But I have, once again, neglected my blogging. I'm sorry. Forgive me?

Oh, yeah. Also, I need help choosing a name for my personal website. It will be a site to host my "business" of acting and other film/television production "stuff" (headshots, resumes, voice clips, demo reels, that web-series, and anything else pertaining to ME in the world of show biz). I looked into "emelle dot com" but that one got snagged when domains were first available for snagging. A broker called me the other day to tell me that the "owner" was willing to sell me that domain for, oh, say, SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS? Sheesh. No. #FuckYouVeryMuch, "owner" of "my" domain.

So I'm tossing around "therealemelle", "realemelle", and "the-real-emelle" dot com. I know that most of my "audience" will not have to type it out or fear getting it wrong, but there are a BUNCH of "e"s in any of those combos, so I want it to be fairly intuitive, which is why I'm considering hyphens. I've been told by a few beta-testers that hyphens are the only phone-friendly appropriate punctuation, and I get that anyone I send to my site via phone will appreciate not having to hunt for the underscore. What are your thoughts? IF you were to "check me out" without a hyperlink, which address makes the most sense to you?

Once I've bought the domain, I'm going to need help building the site, too. I'm not planning on investing in additional webhosting with a template, unless y'all tell me that I have to, because there's no other way for a semi-Luddite to do it. And frankly, if that IS the way, what company will give me the best value for hosting/building? Yes, I get that it's an investment in my career. No, I do not want to spend thousands of dollars, particularly when right now, I have mediocre headshots and an OLD resume (remember, I've been working in the background for fifteen years). I'm emotionally ready (and trained, so mentally ready, as well) to jump into the foreground, but I just don't have the materials necessary to build a kick-ass site.

Ennyhoo, that's where I am these days. Too many things on my plate to be able to keep up with blogging or blog-reading. At least the cats are healthy. Oh, and, I had to disassemble my keyboard to clean it (sticky keys and soooo much cat hair!) - when I put it back together, I swapped two keys, which only matters if I actually LOOK for the letter I need. Can you spot my mistake?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas is Over. Is it Easter yet?

As you may remember, for many years after Mommy died, I didn't have much Christmas Spirit. I mean, I would break out my Santa hat and ornament earrings, and start wearing all that shit, including my jingle ball necklace, starting on December 1st. But every year, that was the extent of my Christmas Spirit.

When I married Stephen, we would buy a little potted rosemary "tree" each year, which he would decorate with lights and ornaments, and he'd hang lights and garlands around the living room, and the place would look festive. I mostly didn't help with the decorating. He mostly didn't need help, and he always "got it" that I just wasn't emotionally in a place where I needed to decorate. I appreciated it being done, but I think not having it would have been fine, too. I dunno. It was always his "thing".

When we moved to the wrong-for-us coast, we acquired a fake Christmas tree, so no more rosemary "trees". It's probably for the best, at least for the rosemary. We never could keep those little things alive a full year. I'm #Grateful that Lowe's always took the poor, pathetic dead things back when we bought a new one. But once we got the fake one from his dad's house, we stopped buying and killing rosemary.

Two years ago*, I put up the tree and decorated it. He didn't ask me to, but he was pleasantly surprised that I had done it. There were still garlands and lights and other things he could do, so the apartment was festive enough. And I personally had some Spirit. *I really thought that this happened last year, not two years ago. Apparently, last year, I was fighting SAD again. #DepressionLies

Last year, we were back to Stephen doing it all. He didn't need my help, so he did it all on his own. This year, I probably offered to help, but by not jumping up into it, he again did it all on his own. But possibly because this year he's an actual orphan,  he ran out of steam after hanging all the lights and garlands and getting the tree up and lit. I wore my Santa hat, ornament earrings, jingle ball and socks once or twice this month. We spent the whole month of December with a box or two of ornaments under the tree, waiting to be put up. Never happened.

Until today, when Stephen took down all of the decorations and packed them away. The ornaments have been put up, if where they are stored until next year is elevated in any way. Christmas is over. He's even sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping the kitchen floor (not that our fake tree sheds needles or anything, but the floor needed the mopping). He's a hero, kids.

So, since I have spent practically every day of this cool-weather season crocheting gifts for family and friends, including after I mailed out the family gifts, I've gone back to Jo-Ann for more yarns. They've got the bright pastels out, so I guess I'm working on Easter eggs... maybe Easter baskets? Hmm... I do have a pattern for some "catch-all" crocheted basket thingies. I guess I know what to start on next! ... besides blogging, reviewing movies for you, ramping my acting career into a higher gear, and loving on the cats, of course.

How have YOUR holidays been? Looking toward 2019 with eagerness, or dread? Let's talk about that!