A little over two weeks ago, on my twenty-sixth birthday to be exact, I resigned myself to the fact that I must step back from performing professionally, stay at home, find a "real life" job, save up money, and reevaluate. This isn't at all a bad idea. In fact, it is a completely rational one. An idea that had my brain grinning from ear to ear, patting myself on the back, and saying, "Way to be a grown up." So then why did it feel so awful? Well, because my heart was being forced back into its cage, screaming, "No! No! No! I don't want to go back to cubical cell walls and lackluster office jobs that will certainly be killing me softly!" Alright then. The two of them compromised and agreed on a full-time job in the educational arts field, along with some community theater on the side. A step back, surely, but not a fall back. Okay, we can deal. I spent the next week applying to jobs, never once hearing back from anyone, except for the occasional "Thank you for submitting your application." Ugh.

Then one day, the threat of being not only a former actor but a BROKE former actor really got to me, so I caved in and planned to apply as an administrative assistant to a very large Internet company (HINT: It rhymes with "noogle" and is also the company that supports the program which this very blog is hosted at.). But just as my cursor hovered over the "submit" button, I realized I wasn't ready for that yet. I was too afraid of committing myself to a job, career, and work environment that I knew I would love (I had interviewed with this company right out of college, so I knew what it would be like to work there) and potentially walking away from a career that I ultimately know I was meant for. So instead, I resubmitted to a cruise line agency that I had sent materials into about a month and a half ago. I didn't suspect anything would come of it, as nothing had happened the first time around, but I noticed that the job I originally applied for was being reposted, meaning it either hadn't been filled or a new and similar position had just opened up. There was no harm in reminding the agency of my interest, and I had new performance material to include. I emailed them without a second though and without much expectation.

The days wore on, and eventually I did end up applying to the aforementioned Internet company, much to my dismay. Then, on a fateful Tuesday afternoon, in the middle of my first jazz piano lesson (I recently signed up for piano and guitar lessons to reinstate a sense of purpose in my life as I face unemployment), my cell phone began to vibrate in my back pocket. Embarrassed at the disturbance, I nonchalantly tried to switch it to silent while intently nodding my head, indicating to my instructor that I was listening, when in reality, I was cursing my sister for sending me what surely must not have been a very important text message.

Now, at this point in my story, I have already accepted the fact that I would be staying home for a long time, a year or possibly more, during which I would be working a steady job and performing on the side. It wasn't what I really wanted, but I knew it was the smart thing to do. I could save up money and consider alternate career paths. Because the truth is, I'm not getting any younger. And if I want to do all the grown up things I'd like to do - primarily raise a family - I need some security. I began to think that maybe a little bit of sacrifice is necessary now; I've accomplished many goals in the last few months, and perhaps it's the time to start working on another. It was heartbreaking to think that I might never perform professionally again, but I urged myself not to think about that and take it all day by day.

Okay, back to that text message. Which turned out not to be a text message at all. As I left my piano lesson, I noticed a missed call from an unknown number. Then it hit me - FINALLY! Someone is offering me a job interview! I dialed the voice mail, and eagerly waited for the details.

And that's when everything changed.

My jaw dropped as I listened to the message. It was the cruise line agency, expressing their interest at signing me on as a vocalist. I immediately called back and got the details. I would be signed on with the agency, who in turn would submit me to one of eight cruise lines they work with. Contracts would begin immediately and last approximately six months. I would get an impressive benefits package (relatively speaking, from the vantage point of a non-union performer), and I would be traveling to far off and exotic places for free. I agreed to the terms of the partnership, expressing my sheer excitement for this opportunity.

The following morning, I woke up to yet another call from the agency. They had an offer waiting for me, for immediate placement as a vocalist on Carnival Cruise Lines. I accepted, submitted the contract, and am currently waiting on placement details, which are pending a series of pre-employment requirements. I'll know within the next week or so where I'll be going, and I should be shipping out within a month.

I cannot believe my good fortune. Just a few days ago, I was lamenting the fact that I didn't have any money and possibly wouldn't be performing for a long time. Then this opportunity came along and changed it all. Not only will I be performing for a living for the next six months, but the job is such that I will be able to save a lot more than I had on previous acting jobs. At the end of it all, I will be back on my feet and better than ever!

Sometimes I wonder how it is possible that I am so incredibly blessed. I have successfully started a career doing the thing I love most in the world, and I have encountered and befriended such beautiful, generous, and intelligent people in the process. The relationships I have with people from the past are stronger too, rooted in compassion and gratitude. Not to say that my life has been without hardship; in fact, the archives of this now seven-year blog will attest that much of my life has been highlighted by frustration and sadness. I have made some significant changes in the last year that have positively affected my outlook on life, most of which I will address soon in later posts.

I'll continue to enjoy all this goodness while it lasts. And when the next storm comes, I'll remember what it felt like to be in the sunshine. I'm sure it'll be enough to keep me hanging on until I see it again.


change of plans

Okay friends, here's the deal: I'm staying in California.

How'd that happen?

Well, let me break it down for you. I've kind of been on the fence about this job from the beginning, and the primary reason for it is finances. The theatre I previously was contracted with hired locally, meaning they did not have the budget to support housing or transportation for out-of-town actors. Now, seeing as I did not have an official place to live at the time the job offer was made, I thought it would be entirely possible to move to Ft. Lauderdale on my own and make a living there. Turns out, I was wrong. So very wrong. When I actually sat down and analyzed my finances, I realized there was no way I could feasibly manage the move. Because I'm poor. Dirt poor. Everything that has happened this year - sublet fiasco, student loan payments starting, bouncing between acting jobs with just a few hundred dollars to tide me over until the next one begins - has drained my bank account down to the last meager drops. The time for dreaming is over.

That means I'm stuck in California indefinitely. It's not a bad place to be, believe me. The weather is nice, I don't have to pay rent, and I've already got a ton of friends to see and do things with (although most of them are employed, so I sit around and wait for them to call me after work is over and pray they aren't too tired to hang out for a little bit). My family is supportive of my career and the choices I have made to sustain it. I had a long talk with my parents about my decision to become an actor, which helped dispel some of their worries and, thankfully, helped me gain their trust and support. The only real trouble is that I don't have access to the auditions that will help me build my career. Also, the acting gigs that pay here don't pay very much. If I want to get back to New York, and I really, really, do, it will require some sacrifices.

Lord almighty, I don't want to sit behind a desk. But that seems like my only viable option if I want to get back to New York quickly. Suck it up for a year, make a ton of money, and start all over. The alternative means staying away for much longer, though I'd be doing what I love. Pick up acting jobs here and there, work in performance arts on the side, and slowly but surely save up that cash. Geez Louise, that is going to take FOREVER!

There are other things I have to consider and take care of before I head back to New York. Like the fact that I am now 26 years old and have no health insurance. Or that I have to save up money to pay the income taxes that weren't deducted from my 1099 acting jobs. Or those loans that need to be paid off. Or that I don't have a car to get around the suburbs, and if I'm going to stay as long as I think I am, I better buy one soon. Ugh. How is it possible that I missed the lesson on being a grown up?

I want to believe that this is the right choice, that this will eventually bring me back to where I know I belong. I wish I had a crystal ball at my disposal, one that would assure me that success is guaranteed somewhere down the line, provided that I stick around here for x amount of time. I really hope I don't regret this.