Monday, March 30, 2015

OMG, y'all...

I didn't book any work for today (obvi) but also haven't booked any work for tomorrow, yet (altho I did submit myself for rush calls and will update my admin resume at the temp agency tomorrow if not otherwise engaged). So once Stephen headed off to work, I looked in the DVR queue for any movies he wants me to watch first.

I watched Maleficent and was left with a feeling that the story could have used a good trim before committing to film. Not that it wasn't interesting or well done; it just seemed like they wanted to tell too big of a piece of the puzzle.

Then I looked for the oldest thing in the queue, which happened to be The Book Thief. OMG, y'all. I cried my eyes out. The damn thing's set in Germany during WWI, and I cried my eyes out. I counted at least five places where they could have ended it, and I cried my eyes out.

I'm not saying it's a good film or well-made or anything like that. The story could have seriously used a tighter edit. But I cried my eyes out.

Now I gotta put sheets on the bed so I can sleep in it, 'cuz I'm about wasted.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

My days are returning to "normal"

Stephen went to work; I went to Trader Joe's.

Picked up almost all the groceries we need at this point... came home and built a good salad.

Stephen came home, and as I was finishing salad prep, the fan jumped out of the window (it does that). I re-set it and went back to the salad.

Went to set the table, and my flowers jumped off the shelf. Caught them all and the vase, but not before all of the water dumped all over me and everything on the shelf. Stephen stepped in to help clean up the wet everything, while I finished setting the table and tossing the salad.

We ate; re-set the flowers on the shelf and started cleaning up the dinner stuff. Opened the refrigerator for some wine, and Stephen's salad dressing jumped off the shelf. That one did NOT get caught. So I stood exactly where I was and picked up glass shards to drop into the trash, while Stephen pulled out the vacuum.

Dishwasher's running; we're drinking wine and watching Marvel's Agents of Shield. Nothing else jumping off shelves at this point. I'm back!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

WELCOME, Namibia!

I didn't know where you were before today, but by process of elimination, I've determined that you're that decent chunk of green near the bottom of Africa. Also, to India and Spain, Welcome Back! And to the rest of you, I love having you all here - I will definitely be posting with more regularity going forward, now that I've left my most recent job.

What a #FirstWorldProblem, huh? I haven't blogged enough because I've been burdened with employment that was less than perfect. And now I'm moving back into the uncertainty realm, #OnPurpose and #ByMyOwnChoice. You readers in these green countries who have boosted my stats this week have just now made me aware of how blessed and privileged I am to live in the dark green country on this map.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for logging in from all points of the globe. Thank you for reminding me of my status on this planet. I hope that your lives are as blessed as mine.

It has been my honor and pleasure to know you

Yesterday marked the end of my dance studio career. It was both a long and short tenure, and this past week was also both long and short, and also quite bittersweet.

Me and my replacement ;)
I've been training the new girl, who didn't like it when I called her my "replacement" (because she thought it sounded like she was kicking me out) so we kept using phrases like "picking up the mantle" and "passing the torch". It's all good - semantics - potato, potahto. She's going to be great, but she has a little fear about her first day without me. I have faith; she'll be fine. She's got my contact info if she needs it, but I doubt I'll hear from her right away. I had a good week to train her, and anything we didn't quite get to, she'll figure out. Or, she'll be given an unclear task with unclear instructions, she'll muddle through it and end up fucking it up, and then they'll be clear in how she could have done it right the first time, which, as I've said before, is the SOP for that place. Then I'll hear from her! ;)

My last week was short in the "train the new girl" aspects of it and long in the "students are hugging her goodbye and giving her gifts and acting like they've been best friends all this time, and won't she just go home already?" vibe I felt from certain members of the staff. Tough noogies. I did make a lot of good friends, and no, we did not "fraternize" offsite while I was employed there, but yes, I did honestly say to just about every student who needed a goodbye hug, "It has been my honor and pleasure to know you".

I had wanted to take a lot of selfies yesterday. Most everyone didn't get a selfie with me, just hugs. Thanks to Julie for playing the waltz so that Dr. Joel and I could dance our goodbye.
Sweet Melissa had crocheted a lovely scarf for me, so I did get a selfie of the two of us plus scarf.
At the end of the day, most of the staff had to fly out to San Francisco for a big competition, so a handful of the students said, "hey, let's take emelle out for drinks, since it's no longer considered fraternization, since once she's off the clock, she's not employed here anymore!" to which I responded "Yee-Ha! Let's go!"
A friendly bunch
So we did. We were a small but lively group. I apologize to any present that my salty sailor talk may have offended. Ya didn't know I had a salty sailor's mouth when you only saw me behind the desk, didja? I do. I'm pretty unapologetic about having it, but last night, I may have shocked you, and for that, I am sorry.

(and thank you, Matt, for the foxtrot almost to the door.)

the lawsuit that's waiting to happen

So no more feeling like I'm going to be part of the "lawsuit waiting to happen". No more spending a day in my car for every week I work. No more feeling undervalued for the work I do. No more feeling like my position is not. actually. necessary. It was a good run; it really was. But it is time for me to move on.

When I got home last night (around midnight), I stopped in at the Chuck-E-Cheese parking lot to see if I could meet the 2nd AD of the production that's been base-camping there, and offer my services as a BG actor or PA or anything for the last two days of their shoot on Monday and Tuesday. She was in the production trailer, building her call sheet for Monday, so there obviously (or isn't it obvious? I guess only to those of us in that world), there wouldn't be room for me on Monday. But she did stop long enough to have a short, polite conversation with me, looking at me, and said that I was "EXACTLY" the sort of BG they needed for Tuesday, and wouldn't I just contact ____________ over at Central? (Yes, of course. That was exactly why I walked over to that production trailer in the first place!) So I might be working in the industry already by Tuesday, and I'll have to walk literally one hundred steps from my front door to the lot. Woo Hoo!
my apartment building on the left - base camp in the middle - Chuck-E-Cheese on the right

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My last dance party was today

I've told you about how I get to dance on Saturdays, because the dance party (or "practice session") happens during my lunch break. Last week, we were closed on Saturday. Next week, we'll be closed on Saturday (which is why my notice runs through next Friday). Today, we closed early, so I only took a 30-minute lunch break rather than an hour. So I ate a little something during my first (on the clock) break, two hours into my day, and then I danced for 30 minutes of the 45-minute dance party (or "practice session").

The class beforehand was hustle, so I made sure to be on the floor when the party first started, so I could hustle with Hattie's husband, Matt. Then Natalya's husband, Moshe, asked me to dance a foxtrot. Then I sat out a swing. Then Diego waltzed me around before he had to leave. Then I led Melissa in a rumba. Then I salsa'd with Moshe. Then I sat out a Viennese Waltz. Then I led Mandana in a merengue. Then I had (what will likely be) my last good tango with George. Then I cha cha'd with Moshe and rumba'd with Matt, and Moshe waltzed me back to "on the clock". It was quite the bittersweet final Saturday.

I didn't get to dance with Janis' husband Yoram today, because he's been in Israel, I think. I got to dance with Theresa's husband, Mark, last night, and even though I usually have had to only dance non-travelling dances near the front desk on Friday nights, I had COVERAGE, so Mark foxtrotted me around the room. Oh, btw, I started training my replacement yesterday. Yay!

Only five more days at my dance studio job. They've made it clear that I will be working those last five days. It is also clear that this departure is a good move. My replacement is a bright girl who will learn as much as she possibly needs to in her first week. I'm glad to have the opportunity to give her a better start than I was given, but I'm also incredibly grateful to have only five more days.

Stephen knows that I'm moving towards better things. I know it, too. I'm grateful for the last four months at the dance studio, and I'm grateful to be able to leave there with the knowledge I've gained in that time. I just hope I manage to get to dance here and there, while I'm at all the rest of my fabulous life.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Some good, some bad, and some... meh

Yesterday, I had to go in to work early, because we were celebrating three staff birthdays with Chipotle take-out, and since it was on my way, I had to pick it up. No big deal; just part of the gig.

Got to work and tried to log in to the computer using my personal password for my laptop. I guess that means that mentally, my last day on my job was Wednesday. Hmm.

The staff that were there set up the tables and started distributing meals. The other admin asked me where all the "on the side" stuff was - I told her that all I got was the one big box. So no salsas or guacamoles or tortillas for anyone who'd ordered them. Rut-roh.

They had their party anyway; I stayed at the front desk and my meal got cold. Not that I was hungry for it yet, but there was never a moment that anyone said, "hey, shouldn't emelle get to partake in this levity? I'll go cover the front desk for a bit." See? I'm already non-existent.

Once they'd cleared the party, I went to get my meal. It was COMPLETELY wrong. Since I knew they hadn't gotten their sides, I showed the manager the email that confirmed the order she'd placed, and what pissed her off the most was that they'd been charged a couple bucks for every order of guacamole. I didn't WANT guac but got it as part of my COMPLETELY wrong meal. So the other admin called to get a credit on the credit card, since so many orders were at least a little bit wrong, and she embellished a bit (I think) about the food not being hot, etc. We were laughing about her phone impersonation of the boss, but she ended up taking the credit card physically to the store to get the credit. Meanwhile, my meal was inedible, and since I wasn't actually hungry yet, I just set it aside for my actual lunch break.

At which point, I drove it over to the store, with a printout of what I had ordered (making sure not to include any of the other orders or the total, in case they remembered having credited my meal already). Got in line; presented my WRONG meal with my printout, and the chick sent me to the end of the line to have a supervisor process it. Without even the slightest argument, they replaced my meal, and they threw in a drink and chips. "All that, and a bag of chips!" It was good. My patience paid off.

Got home last night so tired that I only had time to eat some of Stephen's excellent day-old (homemade) banana/coconut/chocolate chip ice cream and check one or two things in my personal internets before I fell asleep over my computer while sitting on the couch next to Geoff, our houseguest. Twice.

Finally went to bed by midnight, and was allowed to sleep in until 8:30-ish, and I'm much more coherent now. I've started creating "how to do this job" documents at work, since I have no idea if there will be an actual person for me to train before next Friday. But considering that I've been dog-tired and I didn't actually exist at work at all, I'm going to have to re-read yesterday's doc. Who knows what I said?

I've been saying good-bye to more and more of the students, most of whom have not heard through any grapevine that I'm leaving. I've been giving and getting lots of hugs. I may not exist for my boss or some of the staff, but at least I do for the students. It's getting more difficult to work my notice, not because the job's getting harder, but because of all of the "I'm/We're going to miss you"s and the heart-to-heart hugs I've been sharing.

Side note: a "heart-to-heart" hug is one where your face goes to the left shoulder of the other person, aligning your hearts. This is a VERY difficult thing for ballroom dancers to learn, because ballroom frame puts your head to your own left. Betcha didn't know that, didja?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A few nice things to say.

Started training my replacement today. Haven't yet met my replacement, but since I managed to get some pictures of the last event loaded onto the studio's website, I was tasked with "updating" the instructions. I didn't "update" anything. There were no instructions, ever, except in handwritten notes to myself. So today, I taught the newbie how to post anything to the website. One task down, eleventy-seven umpteen to go.

Started saying goodbye to more students and co-workers. I may be at the point where I'm repeating myself now. In fact, one of the students told me that she had asked me (at whatever point I had told her, last time) how I'd managed to be there so long. Then later, as I was saying goodnight to the newest-hired dance instructor, I discovered that she had managed to keep her ear off the grapevine, so it was a bittersweet moment.

Tomorrow, I'll hand out more flyers at Central, and I may or may not be "training" another gal on how, exactly, to do that gig. Then I get to drive in to the dance studio a tad early so I can stop and pick up our staff lunch on my way in. Once a month, we celebrate birthdays with Chipotle. It is EXACTLY on my way in; I may add all of 2/10 mile to my drive just dealing with the parking lot. Only reason to be early is so I won't be late getting in to work.

LOTS of "check your availability" emails coming my way lately for film industry stuff. So far, NO availability! But there will be, soon enough. Keep your positive vibes comin', kids!

Geoff the houseguest is trying to sleep off a new bug, so I think I'll let him. I gotta get up early tomorrow, anyway.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

If you can't say something nice...

Welcome, Hong Kong!

You've come at the perfect time - I think I'm back to blogging! Feel free to peruse my archives to catch up, and when you visit again, bring friends. Thanks for joining me on my little journey here.


Monday, March 16, 2015


content to sit on the couch for a belly- (and neck-)rub, we are.

Have started a new "gig"

Ten more days at the dance studio, and I have yet to greet a potential replacement candidate. Dunno if they're planning on moving the girl from the sister studio over and letting her train someone new for that location or what. Doesn't really matter. If they want someone to start without any carryover, so be it. If they want me to help train, so be it. I just have to keep living the next two weeks one day at a time.

In the meantime, I've started "recruiting" people who are registering (or re-registering, as the case may be) for background work at Central Casting, to join my calling service, which is essentially the background actor's "agent" - someone who helps find work on a daily basis, and a service for which one pays a modest monthly fee.

I love the film industry but I have always hated having to market my (obvious) skills for any of the work I've been asked to do. If I could find an agent to book my Script Supervision or Assistant Director gigs, I would pay for that service in a heartbeat. As it is, I pay my calling service to find background acting gigs for me. Even with my schedule at the dance studio, I've maintained my ties with the calling service, because somehow I must have known all along that I'd find a way to get back to it.

So what I've been doing since last week is talking to folks who are waiting to sign up at Central, and handing out flyers to the youngish, hipster-looking or professional (white-collar) looking folks I talk to, and I give them advice on how to be a professional background actor, and I make suggestions about film careers in general, and I hope that some of them will follow-up with my service, and that I will have spoken to the service's actual target market. If I can help to increase our roster, it makes the casting directors' jobs easier, and in turn, my service will likely try to get me booked FIRST. Luckily, they still have two weeks of me distributing flyers at Central before I'm fully available for them to get me booked anyway, so it's a great transitional period.

I'm going to want more naps over the next two weeks. But it's only two more weeks. I think it's gonna be great! And I'm already "back"!

... I'm just not sure about this "monovision" thing... I might have to swap out my left contact for an appropriately-corrected-for-distance lens, and pick up a pair of cheap readers at the drugstore to deal with the short-range.

In the meantime, here's Cocoa, for your viewing pleasure:

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I. Am. Blessed.

... to have good genes and intelligence and discernment and a sense of humor and a laid-back plan of attack (can one have a "laid-back" "plan of attack"?).

I love that we made it back to California. I love that we've both got really good friends who want to help us "succeed" as long as it doesn't impede their own lives. I love that I was able to get right back into the film industry when we first got home, and that I was able to get my admin job when things slowed over the holidays, and that for the first time in a long time, I have health insurance. And dental insurance. And vision insurance. And life insurance for both of us.

I love that, when I started grinding my teeth about a year ago, it was only a stress reaction, and that it didn't weaken my whole mouth ecosystem. Yes, when I finally saw the dentist last week, he found an infection in ONE tooth, and he recommended a gum irrigation as an immediate treatment, to be followed by a root canal and crown. No, I won't be getting the root canal or crown. I've begun a regular regimen of coconut oil-pulling in the daytime and brush/floss/rinse at bedtime, along with any additional brushing/rinsing I may do, and already, I can see that the infection is healing. And I'm grinding less. And the rest of my mouth is at 100% healthy! Yay for good genes!

I love that, back in the day when I considered LASIK surgery, the eye doctor fitted me for monovision contacts, and that, after I concluded I wouldn't be opting for that surgery, I started doing vision correction exercises. I've been wearing glasses instead of contacts in that time, and for awhile, the exercises yielded noticeable improvement. NOT doing them brought me to the point of using my vision insurance today. Here's what I look like today!

I only had to spend $10 for the eye exam and $55 for the contacts fitting, and insurance covered the cost of the next six months of contacts. I'm using my long weekend to see if my brain can still handle the idea of monovision. I can keep wearing my glasses if need be, or get new ones for cheap through, since I now have my new prescription, and if I get back to a "new normal" I can start doing the eye exercises again, and who knows what my vision will be in six months? Plus, the eye doc told me that my eyes are super-healthy (just like the tooth doc said about my mouth), so it doesn't bother me in the slightest that my vision and dental insurances will run out at the end of this month.  Stephen should really find time to go get his mouth cleaned, though. It's not like we don't have coverage.

I love that I got to wear shorts and a sportsbra on Pi Day. I love that the fabulous Jody Jaress invited me to come sing some jazz/standards at the North Hollywood Farmers' Market today before I got my eyes checked. I love that I was able to reconnect at that time with a friend I'd made way back in the day (i.e. when I first moved out to LaLaLand and lived in the Oakwood complex near Warner Brothers' Studio). I love that our houseguest Geoff keeps wanting to buy us great meals and coffee and whatnot, and is willing to lend me a teaspoon of saline solution for my new contacts to sleep in tonight. I love that my neighbor Bennie puts up with the teasing way I ask him to not smoke in the courtyard, since now that we're living with open windows, the smoke blows in. I love that we're now living with open windows.

Did I mention that I Am Blessed? I think I might have. Let me add that I'm grateful, too.

Friday, March 13, 2015

So much for my "I'll probably post weekly" post... LAST MONTH.

I awoke from weird dreams that have nothing to do with anything, composing a blog post even while recalling snippets of the weird dreams. I had to blog today. I'm hoping that that feeling of "having to blog" will return, fast and furious, like it used to be.

Fair warning: today's post is another bit of a rant (with "foul" language). Hopefully, there's sufficient "positivity" in it that it doesn't sound like I'm wallowing. Whatever; so be it; it is what it is. It's MY blog. ;)

I love my job. You know this; I've said so. I also love the film industry. Stephen has felt "guilty" for taking me "out" of it. You know this; I've said so.

But (so?) I've given notice. The studio hours, on their own, are not a big deal for a sometimes-lark-but-usually-night-owl. The commute, on its own, is not a big deal, having driven twice that daily when we lived in North Carolina for twenty months. But put together, I'm too old for that shit. So I gave notice. The last Friday of this month will be my last day of employment at the studio.

Since giving notice, I've become acutely aware that I am undervalued in my position anyway. There are many redundancies that I've been unable to address/correct, as the response is always the same dreaded "that's how we've always done it". I am required, by law (allegedly), to take an hour off the clock for my meal break, and two fifteen minute breaks on the clock, preferably at some point near the "halfway through that half of the day" mark. Mine is the only position without any real backup. If every instructor is with a student and the counselor is counseling and the manager is working with anyone, then my break gets pushed. It's both up to me to make sure I take my breaks, so that the studio doesn't get penalized by the law, and to make sure I've got coverage. Weirdly enough, my meal breaks are set in stone; I don't have to worry about who will answer the phone or greet walkins or anything. Whatever; that wasn't where I was going when I started this rant.

YESTERDAY was a day where I honestly felt "I could just grab my shit and walk out - fuck them - because I can't seem to do this job today anyway. What are they going to do, fire me?" As of today, I will have eleven more days of work. But not one of the three weeks of my notice will be a 40-hour week. I gave sufficient notice to help my replacement get a good feel for the day-to-day bits of the job; I can't help anyone learn how to cope with the "here's a task - go do it; you'll probably fuck it up, and then we'll tell you how you could have done it right; oh, and it's REALLY important that you don't fuck it up, because we'll be in serious legal or financial shit if you do" aspect that has pervaded this job from the beginning... because "that's how we've always done it".

Yikes. I didn't realize before I typed that how little I love my job. Hmm... let me say what I do love about my job; maybe that'll help this not sound too whiny.

  • I love the teaching syllabus. Watching instructors work with new students or with the "old pros" is a delight. The steps and techniques and flairs are all expressed so beautifully, and in the right order.
  • I love most of the staff. There are a few whom I merely tolerate; mostly, they are wonderful people whom I will miss, and with whom I hope to maintain friendships, even if only through social media.
  • I love a great number of the students. There was one older gentleman who had asked his instructor how I was doing (in my position) the day before I turned in my notice, and when she told me what he'd said and what she said, it absolutely broke my heart. At his lesson yesterday, I confessed to him that I was leaving, and we both teared up. That poor man has been there longer than almost the entire staff, so he's "trained" his share of admins. Thankfully, he's also got a great sense of humor, so he was able to tease me through my broken heart.
  • I love that I get to dance during my set-in-stone meal break on Saturdays. So many of the male students, no matter what level of skill or experience they have, ask me to dance, and seem to genuinely enjoy that I genuinely enjoy my Saturday meal breaks. I only have one more Saturday meal break this month, and the theme is "orange" (yikes). I intend to make the most of it anyway.
  • I love that I have been able to make a small difference in the bottom line. I may not say the exact right thing at the exact right moment, but my position as an assistant gives me plenty of opportunities to assist both staff and students.
But the differences that I have been able to make will be gone if they don't hire my replacement soon. And yesterday was such a mind-blowingly-stressful day, I had waaaaaay too many "I'm outta here!" momentary thoughts. I just have to live one day at a time, and not worry that I won't get 40 hours or I won't get to dance or I won't get to break in the new kid or I'll lose a ton of friends. One day at a time to get back to my real life and back to ME.  And back to You, too, probably.

Thanks for letting me vent. Your advice/input/suggestions are always welcome. Even if it's just to say "Suck it up, Buttercup!"

And now to find something vaguely "red" to wear for the Friday theme "party"... :/