That Time I Tricked Myself into Going to the Gym

To stay up-do-date on all of Short and Feisty’s posts, click the Follow this blog button at the top right of this page.

Recently, as in within the last couple of days, I decided that I would stop wasting the gym membership I am paying for and actually take my happy ass to the gym. Except, describing my ass as “happy” is inaccurate because I’ve been doing a lot of sitting around on it and it’s tired and annoyed that I refuse to pry myself out of my computer chair in search of physical activity.

That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about my ass, but you all knew what you were getting in to when you started reading my blog.

Short and Feisty, keeping it real.

Anywho—I have a really hard time getting motivated to go to the gym. I know, I know, who doesn’t? (…beyond the freakshows that live every day just so they can go to the gym after work and be amongst their people. I dated one of those about 7 years ago, and I’m only still a little bit bitter that the call of the weight room was almost always stronger than the call of my company)

But lately, the thought of getting my out-of-shape-self into the neighborhood YMCA had gotten me so anxious that I began to panic. My best friend, a former trainer, asked me to pinpoint what is was that was making me so anxious, and my predictable response was, “I have no idea.”

Was it fear of failure? Fear of looking ridiculous? Fear of tripping on the treadmill and falling flat on my face?

No! None of those! Which makes the presence of those stifling feelings even more frustrating! Which then leads me to berate myself for having them! Which in turn makes me more anxious!

Hooray for anxiety and panic disorders!

Whatever it was, when I would drive passed the gym, my palms would start to sweat, my heart would race, and I’d floor it until I’d cleared the next intersection.

But the fluffy bits around my midsection have started to jiggle—something I’ve not yet experienced as a previously fairly athletic person. I played a lot of team sports, ran 5ks and half marathons, and supplemented all of that movement with my hyperactive nature. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling any love from my newly developed love handles.

Back to the gym I go, then.

“What if,” I told myself a few days ago, “you just go to the gym to pick up the group workout schedule? You don’t even have to stay to workout.”

“That’s pretty low stakes, I think I can manage that.”

“Yeah, I think we totally can. And so you don’t look too out of place, why not throw on your workout gear?”

This was when I started to get a bit suspicious about my motives.

“But wait, you said we didn’t have to workout—“

“Yeah, I meant it! Just get in the clothes so you can get used to the feel of the spandex on your skin again. Then it won’t feel so strange when you put them on tomorrow to workout. It’ll feel like second skin.”

“I guess that checks out, but your wording also creeps me out in a ‘Buffalo Bill’ kind of way.”

I threw on my spandex running pants and a t-shirt from the film I worked on earlier in the year. I’m usually not someone that would wear workout clothes for anything other than their express purpose, but my inner monologue was making a lot of sense.

“Ok, hop in the car, drive to the gym, and remember—under no circumstances are we to work out today!”

“Got it.”

Drove the 2.5 miles to the gym and got out of the car. Without the pressure to actually perform, there were no panicky sensations or attacks threatening to incapacitate me in the parking garage.

Since it was the middle of the day, there were a plethora of older men and women working out in the pool, soaking in the hot tub, and participating in “chair aerobics”. They didn’t seem to be having such a tough time, but I was still convinced that the goal of my day was to pick up that piece of paper—which I did.

I turned to leave when my inner monologue made me pause in the gym lobby–

“You know,” says me, “we do have to pay for parking, even if we’re only here for 5 minutes.”

“UGGGGH, I didn’t even think of that! I’m trying to penny pinch now that I’m not working full-time. Now I feel like this whole trip was a waste!”

“Why not just go for a quick walk? On the treadmill?”

“YOU SAID NO WORKING OUT—“

“And would you really count a quick walk on a treadmill as working out?? You who has conquered 13.1 consecutive miles more than once??”

“I guess not.”

I head upstairs, put my purse on the ledge underneath of the screen and above the handlebars that monitor heart rate, and hit the green “go” button.

I had my headphones in my purse so I popped those in, connected to the gym wifi, and turned on the Spice Girls Pandora station.

And then I walked.

I walked until halfway through the song “Spice Up Your Life” where my 5th grade self took over and kicked the walk up to a jog. I made it through the end of the song, huffing and puffing and slowed the pace down again. I wasn’t even supposed to be jogging, so there’s no shame in returning back to my walk.

A ton of 90’s dance songs and 2 miles later, I had walk/jogged my way to the end of my workout—the workout that I promised myself would never happen but the one, both physically and emotionally, I desperately needed.

IMG_0140

Advertisements

“Getting My Life Together”

To stay up-do-date on all of Short and Feisty’s posts, click the Follow this blog button at the top right of this page.

I currently find myself in a transitional period, the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

I’m out of debt, I have an agent that I’m hoping will score me some sweet auditions (nothing yet), and I’m acquiring income by piecing together any freelance opportunities that come my way.

I’m staying afloat, paying my own way, and not starving for my art.

YET.

For those that know me in person, or have been reading this blog from the very beginning, you may be asking yourselves how I’m managing to live this new lifestyle while keeping depression and my anxiety disorder at bay.

The short answer is: I’m not.

I’m not.

That’s the honest truth.

I’m terrified, and I’m worried, and I’m anxious, and not an hour goes by each day when the ticker tape in my head doesn’t stream:

I NEED TO GET MY LIFE TOGETHER. 

In fact, whenever someone asks me how I’m doing or what I’m doing or where I am in my journey, my response is always, “I’m getting my life together.”

That single phrase both kills my confidence and my motivation in one foul swoop. It makes me feel guilty for not having full-time guaranteed income, makes me feel impotent (not in the sexual definition–the other one–google it, you dirty minded person) for not being able to control my career path, and just generally drives me insane because it implies that I AM NOT DOING ANYTHING.

[The shouty capitals are off the chain in this post because that’s what my subconscious is doing 24/7–it’s yelling at me. Sorry for taking it out on you, but misery loves company.]

But then, I stop and think about what it is that I am doing and I try to cut myself some slack:

  • I’m showering almost regularly (don’t judge!)
  • I’m accepting the work that’s being offered to me without thinking that I’m “taking a step back” by nannying or doing cashier work or menial assistant tasks
  • I’m really trying to meet up with friends more now that my schedule is flexible (which is hard when income is tight)
  • I’m not spending all day in bed depressed…at least not every day There have been quite a few in the past months where everything hurts and life sucks and I just need to try and sleep it off.

Other than that, I’m reminding myself to breathe.

And really utilizing the emotional support systems that I have because, MAN, this is tough. I’ve been talked off the ledge more times than I can count by my closest friends (who happen to be thousands of miles away).

I’m shaking while writing this because this is a “no income week” so far and I’m wondering if anything will pop up.

I’m looking ahead to March and my 30th birthday and wondering what I have to show for the three decades I’ve been circling around the sun.

I am not in a happy place, or even a good place for that matter (The Good Place on NBC is a great show that’s been helping me get by, just gonna plug that. 1st season on Netflix, 2nd season happening now).

It’s hard to be creative and to write when survival is looming over your head and you feel selfish for pursuing these astronomical goals and not abandoning them for stable work.

It’s lonely being a spinster sometimes, and modern dating makes it even harder to find and form an emotional/romantic connection with someone without the threat of being “ghosted” or ending up in a dead end relationship.

Things suck right now. Yes, they could always be worse, but HOLY CRAP, you guys!

But I’m always open and honest when I write on these pages, so there you have it. Things are ugly right now. But I know that once you’ve hit the bottom, you can only go up. And I’m thankful that my “bottom” hasn’t found me starving and homeless.

YET.

I wanted to end this post on a high note, but that would feel really disingenuous.

So here’s a pretty picture of the sunset that I took at The Grove last night.

Just because.

 

22730175_10101348566458877_4730342313627559984_n.jpg

Here.

4 months!?

Has it really been 4 months since I sat down to type something on this thing?

I guess it has–and it’s no coincidence that that long drought of words coincided with my bout of full-time unemployment.

One would THINK that with all of the time afforded by not having steady work, one would be able to crank out some impressive prose.

Alas, I have found that when one is stressed about such trivialities as rent money and scraping enough together to resist the ever present threat of car repossession, one’s brain isn’t quite ready to dive into writing the Next Great American Novel/Screenplay.

So what’s happened during what I am now dubbing “The Great Silent Period”? Here are some bullet points I’ll hopefully get to over the next few weeks.

  • I found a nanny job–my “unicorn nanny job”, in fact. I won’t be going into detail about the kids or family, but it’s a nanny job with a 48 hour shift starting at 9am on Saturday and ending at 9am on Monday. This schedule is AMAZING for writing and auditioning and I’m already setting myself up to take full advantage of it.
  • I got my first root canal. It was as horrific as you would expect it to be, can’t wait to share the details with you.
  • I took some beginner magic lessons at The Magic Castle and it was awesome.
  • I went to SUNDANCE 2016! It was all sorts of amazing and awesome and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you here.
  • I survived the last few months panic attack free, which is probably the most significant feat of all. I had plenty of opportunity to completely lose my marbles, but I held it together through the grace of mid-day napping and Netflix.
  • I witnessed my first drug deal while apartment hunting.
  • I went in for a nanny interview with a celeb and came out with a PT writer’s assistant position. There won’t be a ton of detail on this one, either, but I will regale you with the tale of our serendipitous meeting because it’s honestly something out of a movie.
  • I finally got the wherewithal to sit my butt down and update this blog. So get ready for some wild stories.

61081524.jpg

To stay up-do-date on all of Short and Feisty’s posts, click the Follow this blog button at the top right of this page.

Surprise! You’ve Got an Audition in Less Than 24 Hours–Part 2!

*Read Part 1 over here*

Ahem, where were we? Oh, yes. I began my walk down the corridor towards the casting offices. On my way there, I saw a bathroom and quickly ducked into it. I wanted to make sure I didn’t look as disheveled as I felt.

I “took care of business” in the restroom (I’m pretty sure y’all don’t need details), and exited. A little further along, I came across a sitting area with several tense looking adults in various states of nervousness. Some were sitting mouthing words, others were walking around, gesticulating to no one.

I knew I had found my people.

I painstakingly wrote my information on the sign-in sheet and saw that, though others were reading for the same characters, no one but me had the one I had been assigned. I took that as a good omen. The reader and casting director wouldn’t be hearing the same old piece when I went in to read. It would be a breath of fresh air. At least, I hoped so.

I put my things down and sat on a couch opposite a few other actors. One was dressed in a full suit while the other was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. I have no idea if they were matching their clothes to the part they were reading, or if this was their normal audition attire–just goes to show that an industry like this has very few solid guidelines.

After sitting in a pretty comfy armchair for about five minutes, I needed to stand up and readjust my clothing. As soon as I got to my feet, I knew that sitting had been a bad idea as my entire body had contorted into one very tense ball of energy. I needed to get up, stretch, and stay standing. Even if that meant I was up for the 30 minutes between then and my scheduled audition time.

I moved over to the adjacent hallway and took my friend Marina’s advice to do a “power stance”. You raise your arms above your head and spread them apart, while also spreading your legs apart (your body is basically shaped like a star).

Joy from Pixar’s “Inside Out” in an upside down power stance

In combination with deep “belly breaths” this is an incredibly effective way to calm your nerves and boost your confidence before an interview or audition.

Then I stretched, paced, and went over my lines for what seemed like an entire lifetime.

Just when I thought that I couldn’t wait a second longer, I was called into the audition room.

I was introduced to the reader and the casting director and found my “mark”–a piece of tape–on the floor in front of the camera.

My delivery was a blur. I knew that I’d gotten all of the lines right, but my performance started on such high energy that I had no where to go. I plateaued as soon as I started.

Woops!

The casting director noticed. I thought I was done for.

“I like what you did,” she said, “but this time, I want to see more levels. I want to see you start off a little softer so that you can grow throughout the piece. Let’s do it again.”

HOLY CRAP. She gave me an adjustment–that happens SO LITTLE in this industry. It’s usually a “one and done”. I knew I couldn’t screw it up this time.

With a renewed sense of confidence, I started over. I made eye contact with the reader through out–I matched her tone and intonation and it was as if we were actually having a dialogue (shocking!) instead of me reciting some meaningless lines. Most importantly, I sloooooowed dooooooown. You’ve only got them held captive for as long as you’re in the room and doing your lines. Milk it. (But don’t get crazy.)

After we had finished, the casting director gave me a very generous, “Great job, that was a nice adjustment” with such sincerity that the people-pleaser in me knew it would never get better in life than this moment.

Walking out of the audition room and out of the ginormous studio building, I felt good about my audition, which happens very rarely.

What happens next?

I forget it ever happened.

No, seriously. In this industry, if they like you, they’ll call you. If they don’t, you’ll never hear from them again. Ever. That’s how it works. So, instead of stressing about “will they, won’t they” you train your brain to forget that there’s even a possibility that you may be chosen.

Happy ending….right?

To stay up-do-date on all of Short and Feisty’s posts, click the Follow this blog button at the top right of this page.

Surprise! You’ve Got an Audition in Less Than 24 Hours–Part 1!

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”–John Lennon.

“Now that I’ve come to grips with the fact that my career in the entertainment industry isn’t entirely in my own hands, I’ve decided to switch my obsessive-control-focus…” —Short and Feisty Finances

I was so dead set on exclusively blogging about finance for the next handful of blog posts. But then the entertainment industry comes along and smacks me on the tush! Normally, I would think HOW RUDE, but I’ve been dating the industry for a while and I’ve been waiting for a sign that he’s just as into this thing as I am.

I was babysitting for a former family on Tuesday when I got a call from a North Hollywood number–I assumed it was the library calling to inform me that the books that I had placed on hold were ready for pick up. Answering the phone to numbers I don’t recognize (strangely) triggers my anxiety, even for a robot call, so I let it go to voicemail.

I LET IT GO TO VOICEMAIL.

I understand that an actor automatically excludes themselves from opportunities by missing “the call”, literally; however, in my defense, I hadn’t submitted anything in weeks and wasn’t expecting anyone to come ringing.

“I wonder what book waits for me in the library stacks,” I mused as I checked my voicemail.

“Hello, this is So-and-so calling for [Short and Feisty] from [Major Network]. We want to schedule you to audition for our Talent Showcase, please give us a call back.”

GAAAAAAHHHHHHH.

I furiously dialed the number, reached So-and-so, picked what kind of genre of a side (that’s the short blurb of dialogue you perform) I wanted to read, and scheduled my audition. Minutes later, I received an email with my side, directions to the building on the studio lot, and a short breakdown (description) for the character I would be reading for.

I then went and changed a dirty diaper, prepared fish sticks for dinner, and washed several crusty bottles just patiently waiting for me in the sink.

Talk about your Cinderella story.

I mentally smacked myself on the forehead over and over, playing the “what if you hadn’t checked that voice mail??” scenario in my head.

Rest assured, I have now been answering every call I get, even the ones I know are robots, in an attempt to not miss out on my Big Break.

I read over my side that night after a relatively easy commute home (it was obviously my lucky day!). I noticed that the dialogue was noticeably stereotypical for a minority: fresh out of prison, returning to a life in a broken home, with lots of family drama thrown in there.

BUT I DIDN’T CARE.

I knew that this wasn’t the time to feel slighted by Hollywood’s ability to pigeon-hole actors of color. This was my time to finally get my foot in the gold plated door.

So I read that side and pretended like it was a back story for one of the prisoners in the hit TV series “Orange is the New Black.” That show may play on certain ethnic tropes, but it’s for every ethnicity–every girl, no matter her color in that show, has broken the law to get sent to prison and one isn’t “better” than the other (though, they do argue about that).

This particular side had moments of anger, frustration, and sadness all rolled in to a few short lines.

When you’re given material before the audition, you have to try your best to memorize it, or at the very least, become incredibly familiar with it. You’re allowed to hold the side in your hand while you’re auditioning, but constantly looking down to reference it takes away from your performance.

I’ve never had trouble memorizing lines. I started memorizing the words from story books that my mother would read to me at bedtime starting around age 3 which eventually lead me to learn to read at 4. That wasn’t the hard part for me.

The toughest part of my audition process is keeping my anxiety at bay.

As a classically trained actor, performing on stage after weeks and weeks of rehearsal makes me feel incredibly secure in my abilities–I never get stage fright. On the other hand, having less than 24 hours to prepare for ONE SHOT at doing a dialogue with a scene partner that I’ve never met or rehearsed with sends me into a nerve induced tizzy.

The next day, I made my way to the studio 1.5 hours early even though the trip would’ve taken 20 minutes, tops (I knew where I was going). One way my anxiety manifests itself is to make me paranoid about being late. This is particularly ironic considering I live in LA, the land of the “Fashionably Late”, and in an industry that is constantly running behind schedule.

Unfortunately, for me, the parking lot was subterranean, so I couldn’t relax with my windows down and go over my lines. Instead, I spent a good 15 minutes sweating my butt off, wondering if there was seating outside of the audition room.

I threw in the sweat-soaked towel 45 minutes before my scheduled audition and went up the elevator and in to the behemoth of a building that the network casting offices are located in.

I passed security wearing the ID badge that I’d been given when I pulled on the lot. I pushed the button in the elevator that would take me to the second floor and waited the split second it took for the elevator to travel upwards to my destination. When the doords opened, I stepped out into the light of a brightly lit corridor and took in a deep breath as I looked at framed photos from the movies and television shows the network had created.

And then I turned my body in the direction of the casting room.

duh, Duh, DUH!

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2!

To stay up-do-date on all of Short and Feisty’s posts, click the Follow this blog button at the top right of this page