Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Fuuuuuck... time for a bitchfest!

 So, yeah. I'm super-happy about being super-busy, because #AnyDayOnSetIsAGoodDay. But there are drawbacks to being super-busy, one of which is time-management.

Usedtabe, I'd open Quicken semi-daily, reconcile all the accounts, pay a bill or two as soon as there were sufficient funds to do so, and get on with my life. It doesn't take any time at all or even a helluva lot of brainpower, if you do it every coupla days or so.

Once I got super-busy, I had to find time to open Quicken and have it talk to the accounts. Not that I ever let anything get paid "late", mind you. But certain cards are used more frequently or regularly than other cards, and a weekly check-in feels insufficient when you've been doing near-daily.

One of those cards was ready for a payment this weekend. Having just deposited a coupla paychecks from setwork (#KaChing!), I went ahead and paid the card. Unfortunately, the only way to make deposits on the weekend is either at the ATM or via the mobile app, both of which only "credit" the first $200, leaving the balance to wait until one full business day has passed. Or, at least, that's how it works at the SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union.

So even though there were technically "SUFficient funds" in the account, those funds weren't technically available until today, so when the credit card cleared the influx yesterday, the bank called it "INsufficient funds", automatically transferred the less-than-a-hundred bux it would take to be "SUFficient", and charged me five bux for the privilege.

I am sick to death of businesses charging me nickel-and-dime fees for the PRIVILEGE of working with them!

First off, if I had known that the funds were going to wait until today, I would've waited to pay the fucking card. Secondly, I thought credit unions were supposed to be #BetterThanBanks, because "Membership has its Privileges" or some shit like that. Thirdly, no, really, actually, this should be first-point-five-ish, after one day of having withdrawn less than a hundred bux from the overdraft account, I already accrued THREE CENTS in interest! One Fucking Day equals three cents in interest on a loan, but how much interest does my hundred bux earn in savings, hmmm? Significantly fucking less.

I called the credit union. They explained it to me like I'm a fucking moron, and after "reviewing my records", they credited me the five bux. Because she was so fucking condescending, I wasn't going to ask for the three cents. But it's all such bullshit. And really, this was just the straw that broke this camel's (i.e. me/mine) back.

I've already been truly pissed off by our new utility billing. Usedtabe, water/sewer and trash were included in our rent. But #BecauseCovid, more people are home and so the landlords decided to split them "proportionately" among the tenants, and the company they use to bill us has the gall to claim that this type of billing encourages conservation. Bull-fucking-shit. But on top of that, they charged us ten bux to set up the bill (that we never requested in the first place), and then another three bux every month for the privilege of being billed that way... and if you want to pay it with a credit card, that's another two-fiddy!

#NickelsAndDimes... It's not that I can't afford these bills. I just shouldn't have to pay these ridonkulous fees. No one should. It's all just a big steaming pile of bullshit. 

Thanks for letting me rant (like you could stop me if you tried) - I'm feeling much better now. #MontyPythonForLife #ImNotDeadYet

Please use my comments section to tell me about your #NickelsAndDimes reason to bitch. I'd love to think I'm not alone in this particular irk.

Monday, September 13, 2021

A Spoiler-free review, and ... more?

 We went to the movies, y'all! At the Movie Theater! It was on a day we were both not working, this month, but honestly, my brain is pretty fried from all the busy I've been, so I don't recall exactly when it was. But I do know what it was, so let's proceed.

We're fans of the comic book and superhero genres, so of course we've seen every Marvel and DC film and show as they are released. Shang Chi is part of the Marvel universe, but like so many of the characters in that universe, I was completely unfamiliar with his story or how he tied in, prior to our viewing. 

This flick has a ton of action/fighting scenes, and when they take place in urban Macau, China, on temporary bamboo scaffolding 50 stories up the side of a huge corporate building, they are very reminiscent of Jackie Chan's fight choreography. This is not a bad thing. When they take place in mystical villages and people get to leap over each other, they are very reminiscent of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". Also not a bad thing.

And when Michelle Yeoh fights, it gives me hope that there's still time for me to get to experience some wire-work (not that she did any wire-work in this film, shut up).

Beyond the fighting, there's the story. There are the characters. There's AWKWAFINA, who is amazeballs. And there's the Marvel tie-in, courtesy of Wong from the Doctor Strange part of the "world" (and, well, the whole "Ten Rings" thing that I'd forgotten they'd mentioned).

Having no foreknowledge did not impede my enjoyment of this film. I'm curious as to whether actual comic book fans enjoyed the film as much as the ignorant masses (<== I include myself in the latter group).

Overall, the story flows at a decent pace, and in the right order to allow the audience to keep up. The writing, direction, and acting is all top-notch (as one expects from Marvel these days). We laughed our asses off, quite frequently. If you like all the same stuff I've just mentioned, then make sure you go see it!


And now, to the "more" of the title:

I was keeping myself out of the world of background acting for most of the pandemic for a variety of reasons... COVID, a "lack" of work, wanting to focus on auditions for foreground acting, and the whole audiobook side of my career. Also, Stephen and I were house-hunting for a bit, thinking we'd be upgrading our lifestyle from that of renting. Right around the beginning of August, though, because pretty much every audition I had was a self-tape that I could "fit" into my schedule, I gave my calling service the "go ahead" to find work for me.

And "find work" is what happened! For the past six weeks, I have been averaging four days per week where I have someplace to go (and get paid for going)... COVID tests, fittings, actual days on set, working. Most of the work days have had added "bumps" like mileage, overtime, or meal penalties, and I've been pulled from the background to the position of stand-in, which is actually more of a "crew" position, with a higher base pay and a better level of treatment.

I had the privilege of working on a very high level project, and since the woman I was standing in for was not a blonde, I decided to buy a few wigs. Once I started wearing the appropriate wig for that job, it made me that much more valuable to the (very high level) director and cinematographer. Then just yesterday, my car worked for 10+ hours while I waited with the other 100 background artists back at basecamp, on a show that had some stuntwork on a freeway. And tomorrow, I'm back to standing in on another show (this time for a blonde, so whilst allowing this post to "stew", I've also been touching up my roots)!

Have I mentioned how busy I am? Have I mentioned how #Blessed I feel? I love my job. I love my life. #ActorLife #SetLife #Grateful

They say that if you find work you love doing, you'll never "work" another day. I feel that. How 'bout you?

Sunday, September 5, 2021

It's September Already! Time to head Back To School!

Well, not for me, per se... although, if I'm honest, I headed back to school prior to the pandemic. I've been a consumer of additional training like a starving person heads to a buffet table! I've mentioned this already, in the post titled "Hello, is this thing on?"

So, in addition to being nice and busy in my industry (showbiz: in front of the camera, behind the mic, and as recently as this weekend, BEHIND the camera), I've also been back in school, as it were, consuming and sharing a five webinar series to up my VO game. I'm sure you remember, from my "catch-up" post titled "Where to begin?", that I began my VO career with a relationship with a Kindle Rights Holder, and have been producing his audiobooks. I'm consuming and sharing this week's free webinar to make sure I'm still doing everything the right way (I am, thanks for asking).

So I want to make sure, if you have an interest in a VO career for yourself, or if you know someone else with an interest in a VO career, that YOU (or that person you know) has visited the link I shared and watched the five videos. Here's the deal: this free webinar, while being a complete free educational opportunity, does lead you to a full curriculum and a whole year's worth of education! Last year, I opted in for the curriculum and the community, just like SCHOOL (although online, because of the pandemic, of course).

The curriculum covers so much more than audiobooks. There's just so much more training and workouts and coaching and feedback and all questions answered, by the coaches or the community... it really does feel like heading back to school, but without any of the negative connotations that "school" may imply. Sure, you can sharpen some new pencils or grab a new notebook (remember the Trapper Keeper(TM)?), but you don't have to. You don't need to buy a uniform or any other new "back to school" clothes or figure out which bus to take or how to get to class. In fact, since everything is on mic and not on camera, you could very easily attend every lesson/workout/training sesh in yer birthday suit, if ya wanna! #FreeToBeReal

This year's curriculum is available to you as early as TODAY. The free webinar is still available this week, so you should definitely check it out - go to www.bit.ly/voheroes-emelle-sent-me - and click on the thumbnails at the bottom of the page (1 through 5), and then look at the final video, which walks you through registering for CoolSchool

I've gained so much over the past year of attending this #CoolSchool, both in the training I've received from David H. Lawrence XVII and the other coaches and also in the community of my "classmates". We're all in different places in our lives, educations, and careers. Some of us are brand new at VO (and everyone is, at some point), and others of us are nearly expert at one or more areas of VO. We all have something to contribute, including asking questions publicly, in case another classmate has the same question!

Do YOU have an interest in starting or improving your VO career? Do you know someone who does? Have you visited the link (www.bit.ly/voheroes-emelle-sent-me)? Do you have any other questions for me? Comment below!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Assumptions based on personal history, UPDATED

If you've been following me for awhile, you know that one of the ways I *try* to stay fit is by walking 10,000 steps each day. I'll go days at a time where I don't get close - like, if I stay in the apartment and never venture past the mailbox, I'm lucky to hit 1,000 steps. And then I'll have weeks where I average 12k-13k per day. It's no big deal, either way; I'm not bragging about my successes nor complaining about my "failures". I'm just saying - I'm a human being who has found a way to feel good about fitness through walking, and I have good days and not-so-good days.

One of my favorite reasons to get out of the house lately, is when I "win" a "give" from my local Buy Nothing group. If you're on Fakebork At All, you may know about the Buy Nothing Project. "Give Where You Live" is the motto that drives it, and it's a FREE marketplace where you can meet your neighbors. Have a sectional couch in decent shape that you don't need anymore? Post it as a "give" in your local group. Need new hot or foam rollers because your hair is long enough to work on "period" film/television and just don't have time to shop for a new set? ASK for them! Chances are, you have a neighbor who wants to unload their old-but-still-functional steam rollers! Or express your appreciation for all of the neighbors who contributed single china tea place settings for your bridal shower garden party in a "gratitude" post! It's amazing. 

Because the "marketplace" is hyper-local, receiving a gift is a very good excuse to take a walk. I don't always get 10k steps out of it, but I've learned my local routes well enough, and I do wear my Disney princess non-Fitbit thingy, so I can calculate where I need to go to get those 10k. So I get out, pick up small "gives, sometimes meet the neighbors (not always - COVID has made a lot of exchanges socially distant), get my steps.

Most days, whether I'm able to walk at my 3.5 mph pace, or I'm much slower due to foot, ankle, or knee pain, I'm walking by choice. OFTEN (far too often), some random dude in a car will pass me, honking or slowing down, to "check me out". I do what I can to ignore them. If they're blatant in their rude gawking, I'll turn to face them and angrily yell "WHAT?"... at which point they'll usually offer me a ride.

I've been stewing over this random-dudes-offering-me-rides issue for awhile. I do not know how to make it clear, once and For All Time, that I am taking a fucking walk! If I wanted to be in a car, I'd be driving!

So. Yesterday, after I was wrapped from set, I had a pick-up to make. Walking home, a car approached and slowed waaaaay the fuck down. I was already in angry yell "WHAT?" mode before I realized the driver was a little old lady. After I passed, another pedestrian couple stopped at her passenger window, and she told them that I looked exactly like her mother did, when she (her mom) was my age.

Not what I was expecting to hear. My personal experiences with walking through my neighborhood have only allowed me to assume that the driver is some rando... a horndog dude. And so I finished my walk, chastened for having yelled at a little old lady who was missing her dead mom, and I cried, missing my Mommy. 

When you assume, you make an ass outta you and me.

What's walking in your neighborhood like? Do you participate in the BNP, or anything similar? Do you still miss your dead Mommy, 15 years later? Talk to me, peeps. I've been gone awhile. I miss you! (Comment below)

UPDATE: I got home from set today, did some "stuff", and then headed out for a nearby pickup from my BNP group. Easy peasy 10k steps today. Then, as I'm reaching my block, I allow a turning car to travel before I cross the street. I know that as a pedestrian, I have the right of way, and I will often exercise that right, but just as often, I'll yield, so I don't piss off a driver enough to have him knock me on my ass with his car. So I yielded, and walked down my block towards the apartment building. Dude must've been watching me, and turned around. He traveled down my block, slowly, and asked if I wanted a ride. PLEASE say it with me: "No, I don't want a fucking ride! If I wanted to be in a car, I'd be driving!"

Fuck these fucking assumptions. I hate being right so much.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Where to Begin, to "cover" two years?

5:51 p.m. I suppose the smart thing to do would be to re-read the 16 posts I made in 2019. Yeah, that's what I'll do... hang on... BRB, as the kids say...

7:38 p.m. I can't just re-read my words. I have to re-read them aloud, because I'm more actor than writer, y'all. Sorry it took me 1.5 hours to read 17 posts. #ImADumbass #IIncludedTheOneFromThisWeek

2019 ended with plenty more work and plenty more volunteerism and probably a Christmas party or a dozen, notably at the SAG-AFTRA offices, among other places. We worked and earned some money and made some contacts and lived our fucking lives. All of us did. None of us knew.

2020 began and I continued booking background acting work. I was on set, photo-doubling for Cloris Leachman in scenes she was not able to shoot (yes, I was wigged and dressed and absolutely not shot in such a way you'd know it wasn't her)... and then the world learned of "The Chinese Virus"... and the production did everything right from the word "go"... masks and hand sanitizers and temperature checks and no more communal buffet-style catering or craft services... and I had one last day to go, which got cancelled without notice, but I guess "Finger of God" is sufficient excuse not to pay anyone for that day of work, so at the beginning of April, I filed for unemployment. By June, I'd lost my health insurance coverage (as I'd lost my eligibility by the end of March).

At some point early in 2020, Stephen was hired by Dodgers Stadium. The hiring process took some time, what with interviews and assessment tests and start paperwork and getting uniforms and such. And then the stadium cancelled the season for the foreseeable future. So every week, we'd get a direct deposit of $0.00 from Dodgers Stadium, so we'd know that Stephen still had a "job" he couldn't go to. So he filed for unemployment.

I don't remember when our apartment manager Marge died, but her husband Jack, who'd been the handyman for the building, became the manager by default, and then he got very very ill... in March or April of 2020. And then he died. We have no evidence, but we believe COVID got him. We were all pretty sad to lose Marge, but we were hit hard when we lost Jack. Everything was shut down! Everyone was home, all the damn time! Keeping our distance and wearing masks and stuff! Jack probably contracted it doing a small repair in someone's apartment, or working in his garage on somebody's car. He was probably ready to be reunited with Marge, but I hate to think how he probably suffered in his last days. And none of us knew.

Once I knew I wasn't going anywhere, I dyed my hair purple (temporary dye). Got new headshots in August.

Then it grew/washed out a fun streaky silver. Got new headshots in November.
Then I dyed it purple again. Then it grew/washed out a less-fun streaky silver but mostly dirty blonde. Got new headshots in February of 2021.

*short tangent* Then in April, both of us qualified to get vaccinated. So vaccinated we got. When they ask us to get boosters, we'll get 'em. #CrushThisFuckingPandemic *end tangent*

Then I went back to "my" blonde, but did not return to my pixie cut. Got new headshots in June.

... and "life" went on. We were staying abreast of developments, and that meme showed up, and I dove headfirst into online training, since in-person training was "over". And unemployment was supplemented, and extended, and supplemented again, and extended again, and so on. And there were stimulus payments. And God Knows, if there had been work for either of us to do that could have been done without risk of contracting a killer disease, we'd have gone back to work. We didn't stay unemployed because it paid more than employment. We stayed unemployed because it was all we could do.

I honestly don't even know how I managed it, but I got us out of debt, y'all. #Blessed and #IAmAMoneyMagnetThankYouThankYouThankYou ... got us out of debt, paid off the car and EVERY single credit card, and bought a lot of online trainings. Got set up in my home VO booth and connected with an author ("rights holder") on ACX and started producing his audiobooks. I set my finished hour rate, he agreed to it, and he just keeps throwing "one more" book at me. #VOActorGettingPaid #18BooksAndCounting

Still and all, our income tax return for 2020 looks like we're just out of college and newly married. The lowest income - TOGETHER - that either of us can remember making, in our personal histories of filing earned income taxes. And no real hope of an end to the pandemic in sight yet.

BUT the Dodgers returned to the stadium! And Stephen now gets more than $0.00 deposited most weeks, because he is gainfully employed (part-time, but still)!

I somehow got "found" by a manager in January of 2020, and after a longish "false start" to that relationship, something compelled me to reach out and figure out how to improve that relationship (get new headshots when you dye or otherwise change your hair). I've become a go-to actor/intern/technology goddess, and I have had more auditions since 2019 than I ever had in my career prior. No bookings yet, but I have at least two casting directors who invite me repeatedly to audition for their projects. Which means it's just a matter of time. #WhatsForMeIsForOnlyMe

... and in the last month or so, I've finally told my calling service (for background acting) that as long as auditions are self-taped and not live (whether in-person or virtual), there is no reason I can't be working on #SafeSets. Which means, because of COVID testing protocols, for the past 4 weeks, I have averaged ONE day per week where I didn't have somewhere to go for a production (which means I'm averaging 4 paid days of "work" per week). And because my hair is not a pixie cut, I'm back to working on "period" pieces, where I have fittings and personalized hairdressings and makeup not my "norm".

ALSO in the last month or two, Stephen and I decided that it was time for us to own a home. We started house-hunting in earnest, working with a realtor to see what we could likely afford, and reaching out to lenders to see what "the system" thinks we can afford. 

Unfortunately, because of that just-out-of-college level of income for 2020, we've had to put real estate on hold until we can compile all of our verifiable 2021 income. In the meantime, we stay busy with work, we certify for unemployment (because part-time income and/or dayplaying, as I'm doing, is still not fully employed, and therefore underemployed, even if either of us earns too much in a week to be eligible to collect benefits). The last known "extension" ends by September 11th, and neither of us is even in that extension, so unless the pandemic brings government back to addressing unemployment extensions or supplements again, when either of our "banks" runs out of money, so do we.

At least we're out of debt, yo. #ImNotWorried #ImNotEagerEither

And I think you're now caught up! Which means that I just have to not get so busy that I neglect you again! What shall we talk about next? Comment below!

Friday, August 27, 2021

Hello? Is this thing on?

HELLO FRIENDS! I know it's been forever since I visited my own blog or even those of the brilliant bloggers I used to read with any regularity. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission, though, amirite?

Here's the thing. I got lazy. Then the globe got shut down by a pandemic, and I was stuck in front of my computer with no inspiration (sound familiar?). Then I saw a meme that hit home - I just went looking for the image, which took me down a long rabbit hole, thanks, Google - "This ends in Death or Divorce". (I didn't find the meme, and I absolutely do not encourage you to search for it either)... and so, to avoid that ending of the pandemic for me, at least, I dove headfirst into online training. I was going to do everything possible to move my acting career forward!

I spent a good bit of money and time. Almost every class I invested in started with a freebie - a one-or two-day webinar that "wet my whistle", so to speak. Not every free webinar was worthless, although most were 100% a sales pitch. Some of the classes I paid for were worthless!

But joy of joys, I hit the jackpot when I found the free webinar series from David H. Lawrence XVII on Voiceover from Home. I got so much good info from the freebie, I enrolled in the yearlong curriculum and joined his merry tribe of VOHeroes. And once I had absorbed enough information to get started, I found an Amazon/Kindle author who wanted to turn his collection of e-books into audiobooks on Audible. I've been working with him since that humble beginning, and we are currently in BOOK #19! I can honestly say that without the VOHeroes free webinar, I wouldn't have found the paid curriculum, and I'd have suffered my way through COVID-19 cabin fever, and I'd probably be significantly less stable right now, both financially and mentally.

Not to suggest that DHLXVII (as I like to call David) saved my life, or anything. But I can say with absolute certainty that the course of my life was changed for the better when his webinar found me.

Do you, or does someone you know, have an interest in Voice Acting? Maybe you'd like to read audiobooks, like I do. Maybe you'd like to be a cartoon character. Maybe you'd like to be the "fast-talking legalese expert" at the end of car and drug commercials. Maybe you'd like to be the guy or gal who says "for English, Press 1". Maybe you have one of these, or other VO interests, but you Just Don't Know how to get started. I can help you with that. It's time for the annual free webinar series! 

I love David and the VOHeroes curriculum and platform so much that he's made me an "affiliate partner" to promote the free webinar series. Click Here to gain access to the five free, FULLY-LOADED webinars called "Mastering Home-Based Voice Over". The first lesson dropped yesterday at 10 a.m., and includes a Q&A covering questions asked by early registrants. It's SOOOO good! Access the video, take notes during it, add your questions in the comments section following the video, and then David will answer them in the next video.

The videos drop every other day over the course of nine days, so watch them when you can (you don't have to try to watch them "live" at 10 a.m. PST). Seriously, if you want to get started in VO, or you just want to get better at VO, you don't want to miss this five-video series. Did I mention it's FREE?

I know it's probably shitty of me to be gone so long and then come back all "sales pitchy". I'm sorry about that. Please forgive me. I really have been super busy, and in the coming days, I hope to be able to fill you in on all of that stuff. In the meantime, though, I didn't want you to miss out on this free webinar series if you have interest.

So, a question for you, as I used to always try to ask something at the ends of my posts: How have you been surviving the pandemic?

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Adulting, Part the Third (Now with Pictures Added!)

Cocoa says "hi"
I beg your pardon, is that your colon or a rose garden?

Purty, innit?

Smokey says "whut?"

yes, I know I'm cute and sassy, but...
It's So Short!