----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: June 2005

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Class Notes

Last night, I had my first acting class at the S.F. Acting Academy. Although I really liked working with my old coach, his last class had a lot of beginning beginners, so I was looking for something at a slightly more advanced level. I need to be pushed so that I can stop freezing up during auditions and start booking some work. I don’t think my true personality has been coming out in the auditions I’ve been on—I’m afraid I come across as too meek, or uninteresting, or something.

Anyway, I think this new class will be really good for me. Several of the students have already done extensive work in the industry and our teacher has really good credentials. I like the fact that she’s planning to go over every aspect of the auditioning process with us, from our headshots to what to wear to figuring out our type to relaxing and being comfortable with ourselves on camera. Last night, we just slated our names and had a little on-camera chat. We only had time to watch and give feedback on two people’s, but I think our teacher offered some very insightful comments. I am almost afraid to watch my tape, though. I don’t think I came across as very sincere, and I know that sometimes my face goes blank when I’m standing up there not doing anything. Also, she had most of the women turn around for a full body shot, and I’m really not excited to see what my rear view looks like when magnified by the camera lens. Time to get motivated to stop eating chocolate and start hitting the gym more often!

This week, we are supposed to watch television and give some thought to our character types. I really don’t know what my type is. Young mom? Girl next door? Quirky friend? I know whose career I’d like to have…Samaire Armstrong’s. She’s got a great recurring role on Entourage (there’s the obsession again!), plus she had those guest-starring episodes on The O.C. last year. Pretty good to have parts on two such hip shows. Problem is, I’m not that young any more. Ahhh! I think this is why Mr. Pink is sometimes not so thrilled with my desire to be an actress. I get all insecure and self-absorbed and spend too much time thinking about the way I look. But appearance is a big part of the deal.

Okay. I have to watch TV this week and find realistic examples of my type. Anyone want to help me out here? Suggestions for the types of parts I could play are welcome.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

My New Obsession

I am admittedly behind the curve on this one, but if you are not watching Entourage on HBO, you should be. It has been described by Entertainment Weekly as “Sex in the City for guys,” but it is so much more than that.

The series is executive-produced by Mark Wahlberg and the story goes that it’s loosely based on his life. Essentially, it follows the Hollywood exploits of one actor on the verge of stardom, his washed-up brother, his dumbass friend and his best friend/manager. I think guys like it because there are a lot of hot girls, some nudity and swearing. And I like it because it’s a fictional inside look at Hollywood, combined with some pretty nice eye candy. If you’re into the pretty-boy thing, you’ve got the lead character, Vince, played by Adrian Grenier. If you like your men a little older or if you get off on power, you’ve got uber-agent Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven. (So funny, as always. Apparently, I was one of the few who liked his old TV show, Cupid, since it got cancelled after just a few episodes in 1998.) And if you just want a little slapstick, you can enjoy the characters of Johnny Drama and Turtle.

This is one of the few shows that my husband and I enjoy watching together. He rolls his eyes when I watch Desperate Housewives or Gilmore Girls, and I could never get into Nip/Tuck or The Sopranos. But now we can watch Entourage (and Lost, but that won’t start up again until fall), and pop-culture happiness reigns.

The only problem with Entourage is that it kind of makes me wistful for the L.A. scene. But I try to remember that since I have no SAG card, no reel and no connections, going back to L.A. to try to advance my acting career would be pretty much pointless. I’d just be doing what I did before…auditioning for student films that might never be made or getting cast in no-budget horror films where the actors are instructed to bring their own fake blood. (Seriously, that happened. Most of the actors, including me, walked off before the film ever got made. We think the director may have been delusional. But that’s not particularly unusual in the industry.) Sure, L.A.’s great if you’re a hot young actor taking in a few million per film. But for most of the wannabes, the industry can be a soul-sucking grind, causing lots of bitterness and burnout. Maybe one day, I’ll give it a shot again. But not until I’ve got a more established resume and reel to back me up. After all, I can't trade on my looks...I'm short, dark and flat-chested in a sea of leggy blonde silicone.

Anyway, if you’re sick of reruns and you want to do a little California dreamin’, rent the first season of Entourage, or watch the second season on HBO on Sundays. I bet you’ll be hooked.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Worst. PR Agent. Ever.

Okay, this is sort of about work, but it's not about anyone in the office, so I'm risking it. We don't have an official receptionist at my office, so when the phone rings, whoever's available grabs it. On Friday, that person was me. And that's how I found myself speaking with the worst PR agent ever.

First phone call:
Me: "Hello, X Publications."
PR Guy: "Um...hi. Um...this is Jeff from Leopard Communications. Um...you're a publishing company, right?"
Me: "Yes, that's right."
PR Guy: "So, do you have a dental magazine?"
Me: "No, we don't."
PR Guy: "Oh. Um...so what do you cover?"
Me: "We have three titles that mostly deal with construction."
PR Guy [panicked]: "Oh...okay. Um...I have to call you back."

He called back a couple hours later, and lucky me! I was the one who answered the phone again.

Me: "Hello, X Publications."
PR Guy: "Um...hi. This is Jeff at Leopard Communications again. I think I spoke with you earlier?"
Me: "Yes."
[awkward silence]
Me: "How can I help you?"
PR Guy: "So, you publish magazines, right?"
Me: "Yes."
PR Guy: "Okay, well, um...I'm from a communications agency? And we have a lot of stories on a lot of different topics?"
Me: "Yes? What sorts of stories?"
PR Guy: "Well, like, retail merchandisers. We have a story about Saks, and you know, they're a major retailer."
Me: "We don't cover retail."
PR Guy: "Well, what about guns? Do you have any gun publications?"
Me: "No."
PR Guy: "And you don't have any dental publications?"
Me: "No."
[awkward silence]
PR Guy: "So, um, what topics do you cover? I'm sure we have something of interest to you."
Me: "We have a Web site. Maybe you should do some research on our publications before you try to pitch us anything."
PR Guy: "Oh. Um...okay. Um...what's your Web site?"
Me: "It's XPublications.com"
PR Guy: "Okay, um...wait a minute. I have it right here. [Pause]. Wait...it doesn't work. Does that need a www in front of it?"
Me: "Well, it is a Web site, so yes, it does."
PR Guy: "Oh. Um...okay. Thanks.
Me: [Click]

Okay, now I know that PR agents are people, too, and that they are just trying to do their jobs, but as I understand it, their job is to get coverage for their clients. And in order to do that, shouldn't they try to be as ingratiating as possible to journalists? I mean, please. Would I call up a magazine that I wanted to write for and be like, "Um, yeah. Can you tell me what kind of topics you cover, because I'm far too lazy to actually do any research on my own or even do a basic Google search on your company"? No. I would not. Not unless I never actually wanted to work for that magazine.

And another thing, while I'm on the subject of annoying PR people. If you call me to give me your great pitch and I sound interested, make sure you can follow through. Because nothing annoys me more than thinking I've got a great interview lined up, only to call at the appointed time and have the person I'm supposed to be interviewing NOT BE THERE! Come on! These are your clients! Supposedly, they want the attention! Sure, they're high-powered executives, but I'm busy, too. I have deadlines! So if you set up an interview for me, make sure the interviewee is actually available. Otherwise, why should I trust you the next time you call?

Actually, there is something that annoys me more. Don't pretend like your pitch totally fits what I'm writing about when it clearly does not. If I'm writing an article about, say, oh, I don't know, high-tech cancer treatment facilities, DO NOT try to pass off your "medical spa" that offers microdermabrasion to bored housewives as a viable treatment center. Yes, cancer patients need pampering, too. But I think chemo patients are more concerned about, oh, I don't know, LOSING THEIR HAIR and puking their guts out rather than where to get their next Endermologie treatment. Oh, and just FYI, cancer patients aren't supposed to have any invasive cosmetic treatments while they're having chemo. Not even manicures. The risk of infection is too great.

So come on, PR people. Earn your money. Spend your time doing some research on how you can actually help my magazine. Don't call me three or four times to find out if I got your press release. Instead, spend the time writing a press release that's actually relevant to my audience. And hey, I do get busy, so you can call once to follow up. But usually, if I'm interested, I'll call you.

This has been a public service rant for PR people. Thank you.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Audition News

I was trying something new. I thought that maybe I was jinxing myself by blogging about my auditions as they happened, so I didn't write about either of the auditions I had last week. But it seems to make no difference, as I still have not booked a part. Now I shall tell you about them.

On Wednesday, I went in for a national Jet-Dry commercial--you know, the dishwasher soap. I was told to look clean-cut and "natural" so as to appeal to "middle America." The casting director would also need to see my hands, so I rushed out the evening before to get a manicure. I dressed in khakis and a thin blue cable-knit sweater for the audition and I thought I looked very housewifey. So I went it, slated my name and showed my hands. Then it was time to interact with the Jet-Dry cap. You see, most of the commercial was going to be animated, with Jet-Dry acting as a type of dishwasher superhero. The actress was only going to be in the first few seconds of the shot. So, I had to examine a glass and be exasperated with its water spots, even though it just came out of the dishwasher. Then, I hear a voice saying, "Jet-Dry can help," and lo and behold, the dishwasher soap dispenser is talking to me! So, I had to act very surprised, but also make it funny. Well, reaction shots are tough when you don't have anything to react to. I have new respect for all those actors who are working with green screens and special effects characters to be added in later. Anyway, the callback was on Monday and I didn't get called back. I didn't feel like I did too well, though, so I wasn't expecting a callback. I think I need to work on my facial expressions. Also, this was a SAG commercial, and I'm not yet a SAG member, so in order for the directors to choose me over someone already in SAG, I would have had to have been phenomenally better than everyone else there. And this time, I wasn't.

On Thursday, I went into my agent's office to record a voiceover audition for TV Guide. It's a good thing it wasn't an on-camera audition, because it started to rain and I had no umbrella, so I showed up all damp and disheveled. But I digress. Basically, the audition was to be the voice of TV Guide's automated phone service, like if you want to call up and change your address or something. They were looking for a young, friendly, cheerful voice. This audition I actually felt pretty good about. I went into the booth and read through the whole script, and Tom, the associate agent, told me that I did an excellent job of conveying customer service and friendliness without being too over-the-top. He didn't even want to do a second take! But I haven't heard anything back from that one either, so I guess I didn't get it.

Now I have to be on the lookout for the Jet-Dry commercial with the animated cap, and I'll have to call TV Guide in a few months and see what type of voice they chose. It's so odd to just never get any feedback. The only way to know what they were looking for is to see the finished product!

This week, no auditions. Zip, zilch, nada, bupkis. Maybe next week. Or maybe it will be another dry spell. But I start a new acting class with a new coach on Tuesday, so maybe I'll get some valuable insight from that. I like acting classes--I think I need all the practice I can get!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Marriage Advice

My in-laws were in town this weekend to celebrate Father's Day with us. We had quite a crew, and we set out to terrorize the Napa Valley. It was me, Mr. Pink [my husband's new alias--he knows why!], Mr. Pink's parents, the Blacklabels, my parents, my two brothers [now they need aliases, too--Esquire and Crafty, perhaps? We'll give it a shot] and one brother's known associate.

First, we set out for a quick tour of our property. Most of the grapevines are planted right now, but they just look like sticks in the ground. However, if you peer inside the protective cylinders, you can see some grape leaves beginning to unfurl. So in about three years, we'll have our first harvest, and in five years, we should have some very drinkable wine. And then we can be fabulous, like the Steltzners! They're great people, and they make great wine, too. Plus, parties by their poolside are none too shabby...that's how we chose to end the night. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We made a brief stop at the Stetlzners' to drop off Esquire's new puppy for the afternoon, and then we were on to Duckhorn. Those Duckhorns do things right. Whether you want pinot, cab, merlot or even sauvignon blanc, they've got a delicious option for you. My mom, who doesn't drink much, discovered that she's more a white wine type of woman, thanks to our tasting of Duckhorn's sauv blanc. And what trip up the Silverado Trail would be complete without a stop at Rutherford Hill? They make some very nice wines, but the highlight is always the port, served with chocolate-covered blueberries.

We had dinner at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena, which I highly recommend, particularly if it is a beautiful afternoon and you can sit on the shaded patio. But what does this have to do with marriage advice, you might ask? Simply this: Do not underestimate the importance of in-laws to your marriage. If you can manage it at all, make sure that you get along with your in-laws. And for extra bonus points, make sure your parents get along with the in-laws. That way, everybody's happy and it's like you've just added some close friends to your immediate family. Our Father's Day weekend excursion would not have been nearly as much fun if my family and the Blacklabels didn't get along. But they do. And a good time was had by all.

I really think that choosing your in-laws carefully is second in importance to choosing your spouse carefully. Of course, once you've chosen the spouse, you don't get much say about the in-laws. But be prepared: if they don't like you or you don't like them, your marriage will not be as happy as it could be. Take my mother, for example. My father's parents never forgave her for not being Greek, and it always cast a pall over the extended family gatherings. I'm not saying you shouldn't marry someone just because of his or her family. I still would have married Mr. Pink, even if his family was not so great. But the fact that they're really cool, and that my parents like them, too, just makes everything so much easier and more fun. Just a little something to keep in mind, for those of you out there who are still looking for "the one."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Lessons From My Father

My father amazes me. He came to this country with nothing when he was 12 years old. Before that, he lived in a shack in northern Greece with his parents and his younger sister. He was a shepherd and his parents were farmers--his mother (my Yiayia) picked okra faster than anyone else in the village.

Once in America, his parents worked in a hotel and my dad learned English from the television in the lobby. He shined shoes to supplement the family income. He grew up in Watts and went to Manual Arts High School, where he was one of the few white students. He excelled at his classes and won a scholarship to Pomona College. There, he studied economics, but in his senior year, a professor encouraged him to go study law. "Mama, Papa," he said, "I've decided to go to UC Davis to law school. I am not going to be an economist after all." Well, his parents had never learned to speak English very well. "Son," they said, "We love you and we would support you no matter what you do. But we came to America to escape the old ways of life, so we are very glad that you are not going to be a communist."

It was at UC Davis that my parents met and fell in love. And while my father was not a communist, he certainly did have a liberal streak. I remember being 5 or 6 years old and asking my father what the difference was between Democrats and Republicans. He likened it to the story of Robin Hood. "You see," he said, "the Democrats take from the rich and give to the poor. But the Republicans take from the poor and give to the rich." And even now that he is in the highest tax bracket, his support for the Democrats has never wavered. And he never forgot his roots. His old shoeshine brush still holds a place of honor on his desk at work.

My father also taught me the importance of proper English. When I was very young, it was he who set me on the path to become a copy editor and writer. I remember asking him some childish question that began with, "Daddy, how come..." He said to me, "Never ask how come. Always ask why. How come is not proper English." And to this day, my father speaks better English than many who were born to the language.

Although he always worked hard, my dad always made time to be with his family. He made it to my dance recitals and spelling bees and awards ceremonies. And he always pushed me to do more. Sometimes I didn't appreciate it when he would ask why I got an A- in class instead of an A, but I know now that he always had my best interests at heart. To him, education was the most important pursuit in life. After all, it was education that took him from being a poor shepherd in Greece to being a successful lawyer in America.

My father believes that a true measure of a generation's success is whether the next generation will be able to surpass it. I worry that I may not be able to meet that bar, but he keeps me striving for success. I've taught him some things, too. Several years ago, he asked me what I thought it meant to be successful. I told him that I thought being successful meant living life with as few regrets as possible. And now, every so often, he'll raise his glass of wine to me and say, "With no regrets." I know just what he means. He has taught me that life should be lived with passion and gusto. Excessive caution has no place in a well-lived life.

I know that he wishes I had gone on to law school, but I hope that my chosen path is enough to make him proud. After all, he's worked hard to give my brothers and I the best life possible. The least I can do is attempt to live up to his standards. All I know is that when he walked me down the aisle at my wedding last year, I felt like I had the best father in the world. He has given me comfort and support throughout my life, both spiritual and material. I'm just glad that I had a dad who was able to enjoy life with his family. And I'm glad we still spend so much time together, even if he does have a tendency to become dramatic and sulky if everything is not exactly to his liking. (Gee, I wonder where I got that from?) He has guided me when I needed guidance and set me free when I needed my freedom. But no matter what, I can turn to him, whether I need advice or just a good laugh.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Here's to living life to the fullest...with as few regrets as possible.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

At Least I'm Not That Desperate....

More fun with Craigslist! This is a posting from the "talent" section of the San Francisco board.

Actor; your bike for role in my film! :) (READ CAREFULLY)
You: Actor between 5'7" and 5'11. You must be able to handle a horse and also have a great sense of comic ability. This is a major motion picture romantic comedy being shot entirely on location in New Orleans. I am the Director, Producer, Writer and I live in San Francisco. SAG member, not necessary. If you are, than you will sign "financial core" status with Union. By the way, you will get paid. The bike barter is to show me you want the role. Description of the character: Lanky, energetic with Charisma. Many lines. Supporting role to lead actor. This individual should be between 29-40 years of age and be in great shape. The Bike: Must be anything over 650 cc. You will sign the title over to me. You will provide me with a written estimate of what the bike is worth. I will take delivery of the bike now, you will get paid for the bike when you show up on location in New Orleans. Anticipating an August or September shoot. Email jpegs, resume and bike details. I expect a lot of responses; so don't delay. I am taking this film to the Oscars! When we have a deal, I will send you the script, synopsis, director's notes and of course a Terms of Service Agreement. Show me what you are made of! Time to get off your bike and get your career going! Good Luck

Well, call me cynical, but it sounds to me like this guy is just looking for a free bike. You'll sign over the title, he'll take delivery now and you'll get paid when you show up in New Orleans at some unspecified date? Honey, this scam artist and your bike will be long gone by the time that happens!

I know from first-hand experience that the entertainment industry is full of people who are morally bankrupt, but usually they're a lot more subtle about their scheming ways. I can't imagine wanting a part so badly that I would fall for something like this! I pity the poor, dumb, desperate actor who actually thinks he might be able to get a part by bribing this guy with his motorcycle.

Oh, and just in case any of you out there were confused, directors/writers/producers with "major motion pictures" who are capable of "taking a film to the Oscars" don't do business this way. They don't hand out roles to unkowns, even if those unknowns are willing to give away a bike in the process. Good thing the title of the ad cautioned me to read carefully...otherwise, I might have missed this glaringly obvious scam!

Weekend Getaway

On Monday, I returned from a long weekend at the shore. It sounds so romantic, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it wasn't--at least, not for me and my husband. We went to attend a friend's wedding, which was extremely beautiful and romantic. For us, though, the weekend turned into a comedy of errors--one that wasn't all that funny at the time.

Things started inauspiciously when I had to get up early on Saturday morning to set out on my journey. (I love sleeping late, and weekends are my only time to indulge.) But I was driving up with two friends, so I thought we'd all have a good time. We did...until we came to the windy mountain road that would lead us west. My backseat passenger started feeling carsick, and even fresh air and beautiful scenery didn't help. Luckily, we made it to our destination unscathed, and no one threw up.

We were supposed to be meeting up with the bride and several other ladies for a bit of hot-tubbing before the big day. We were mostly on time, but then we couldn't find the spa anywhere! Finally, we asked for directions (we're not men, after all...we know when we're lost) and we found the place, but no one was around but a snooty receptionist who claimed she knew nothing of our party and told us the spa wouldn't even open for another hour. Finally, she pointed us toward the back of the property and told us to have a look for ourselves. And there, we found everyone soaking in a big old redwood hot tub...the spa had opened an hour early just for us. They were all taking advantage of the "clothing optional" policy, so we did, as well. The bride was looking radiant and relaxed, which was good to see. We had a nice, relaxing soak, but once the clock hit 12, we were back in the locker room. The spa was coed, you see, and we weren't feeling open-minded enough to share our clothing optional state with perfect strangers...men strangers, that is.

Then we set off for a hike and a picnic, all of which was lovely. Well, except for the picnic part. All the sandwiches had mayonnaise AND cheese...my worst nightmare! (I have an aversion to most white foods...cheese, mayonnaise and eggs in particular.) I managed to take a sandwich apart and nibble at some of it, but by the time we returned to our motel by the sea, I was famished.

Our male counterparts had driven up separately and checked into the motel just before we returned from our hike. Our room was fine. It had a king-sized bed, as promised, and a view of the ocean, as promised, but that was about it in the way of amenities. But what can you expect for $109 a night? We were on a budget! Anyway, at about 4:00 in the afternoon, we set off in search of food. We were attending a beach bonfire that evening, but I couldn't wait for sustenance.

We were staying in Fort Bragg, which is north of Mendocino. I hadn't been to the area since I was a very young child, and my main memory was of it being windy. It was still windy. What I didn't remember was that Mendocino was very charming and quaint and welcoming, while Fort Bragg...well, Fort Bragg is sort of like the ugly redheaded blue-collar stepchild and Mendocino is like the beautiful and accomplished favorite daughter. One of the main problems with Fort Bragg is that all of its eateries have extremely limited hours during which they serve food, and 4:00 in the afternoon is not one of those times. We ended up at Denny's.

The best thing about our excursion was that we went to Starbucks first and I got to try the decadent new chocolate drink, the Chantico. It is served in a little six-ounce cup, which looks like a shot glass compared to some of the grande venti or whatever they're called drinks. And I think it's made from cacao butter and heavy cream. There are probably a thousand calories and 60 fat grams in one little cup. (Okay, I just looked it up on the Web site...it's 390 calories and 21 grams of fat, so it's not quite as bad as I feared.) It was deliciously rich, but I could only finish half of it. If you like chocolate and you have an addictive personality, I would strongly recommend that you NOT try this drink. It's like chocolate crack.

Okay, onward. That night, we went to the beach bonfire. It was a cool concept, but the weather did not cooperate. We got so sandblasted that I didn't even have to use my exfoliating body scrub the next day. And I think I got plenty of fiber from all the sand that wound up in my food and drink. Wait...sand is just silica. That's not an essential nutrient! I got to make a s'more...delicious! Also, I saw a girl that I hadn't seen since 8th grade. That was kind of a trip. We tolerated the windstorm for a while, but then one of our party got a grain of sand in his eye and couldn't get it out and that pretty much cut our evening short. The beach was beautiful and the fire was hot, but not hot enough to warm the whole crowd. So we went back to the hotel and warmed ourselves by drinking copious amounts of vodka. Then we went and bought an eyepatch for Mr. Sandy Eye, but he refused to wear it.

That night, I nearly froze in my sleep, despite the copious amounts of alcohol. I might have been warmed up by some good lovin', but unfortunately, although I brought the sexy lingerie, I overindulged in the devil's drink. My poor husband! It was not until the next morning that I realized our room had a thermostat, and it had been set to 60. We had a delicious restaurant at Eggheads, the one establishment I can recommend in Fort Bragg, although they do get a little carried away with their Wizard of Oz theme. The wind had died down then, so we lolled about on the beach for a while. And then we got gussied up for the weddding.

The ceremony took place at a quaint community center in nearby Caspar. It was full of Jewish traditions that the couple had tweaked to make them more personal, and everything was very lovely and touching. We had been told that we would be hiking to a cliff so that the couple could say their vows overlooking the ocean, but alas, it was too windy. (Damn you, wind!) Luckily, the bride was still radiant and relaxed, so everyone just went out into the back field for the ceremony. But first, the men hung out with the groom and drank whiskey while the women mingled with the bride and drank fruit punch. Isn't that always the way? Then we learned a song in Hebrew that signaled the men to come in and join us. The couple signed their marriage contract, which was beautifully illustrated, and then it was out into the field and under the huppah for them. They had written their own vows, and we all got a little teary-eyed.

The reception turned in to quite a party. We were all seated at long tables, family-style, but unfortunately, Mr. Pink and I were at the edge of our group, and some other wedding guests started talking to us. Now, I'm all for making small talk and meeting new people, but this was a little strange. This older couple wanted to know Mr. Pink's life story. It went far beyond small talk and into prying. Then, they gave us a business card and asked us to come buy vitamins at their health food store! Odd. But then Mr. Pink got an asthma attack and we had to go back to the hotel to get his inhaler. Fort Bragg just seems to bring out the maladies, doesn't it? But we rallied and returned for a bit of dancing, and we got to see the bride and groom pour from a methuselah of champagne (a really, really big bottle) and drink from ginormous glasses. The cool thing about this wedding was that it really reflected the bride and groom's personal style.

After the reception, Mr. Pink and I were still hungry. Others in our party were headed home, but we had our room for one more night. Once again, we headed out to find food, and once again, we were stymied at every turn. If you ever do go to Fort Bragg, against my advice, be sure that you are only hungry before 2:00 p.m. or between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. After that, you're out of luck. We tried restaurant after restaurant, but we were always turned away. We didn't want to go back to Denny's, so we drove down the road a ways and came to a place called Perko's. It was open, and that's about the best that could be said of it. By that point, it was 9:35 and the restaurant closed at 10:00. We could have foraged further, but we didn't want to take the chance of having nothing to eat at all. So we stayed. Perko's is like Denny's, but worse. At least Denny's is a franchise!

After our terrible meal, we didn't think things could go much more awry, but of course, they did. We were maybe a mile from our motel when Mr. Pink noticed a police car stopped behind us at a red light. "They'll probably pull us over just to put a great capper on this night," I said. And that's exactly what happened. The cop claimed we were going 50 in a 25 zone. In my little Prius? Yeah, right! It's not exactly a speed machine. He asked why we were going so fast and I told him I wasn't feeling well and we were just trying to get back to the motel. (You wouldn't feel so hot, either, had you sampled Perko's fried chicken.) Then I made the mistake of expressing my opinion that we couldn't possibly have been going so fast. "Are you calling me a liar, ma'am?" the cop asked, real menancing-like. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, no one's calling anyone a liar," Mr. Pink intervened. He gave the cop his license and then said to me, "Just relax, okay?" But the cop overheard and returned to our car. "What did you just say?" he asked. "I was just telling my wife to calm down," Mr. Pink said. And then, after all that confrontation, the cop let us go with a warning, probably because he tagged us at a total speed trap. He pulled us over right where the speed limit changed from 45 to 25.

Luckily, we were able to put all that unpleasantness behind us and have a nice breakfast the next morning back at Eggheads. I had the "Kansas cakes," which were pancakes full of blackberries. Then we headed back away from the ocean, and we resolved that if we ever returned, it would only be to visit the more glamorous Mendocino, where perhaps the cops aren't as eager to hassle the tourists. But at least we have good stories to tell--and the bride and groom looked so happy together. And that's really all that matters. Already, we can look back and laugh.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Today, I was set to do a phone interview with an architect for an article that I’m writing about cancer center design. I never expected that phone conversation to brighten my mood and give me so much to think about, but it did. The architect was so passionate about his work, and he was able to articulate his ideas so clearly. Also, he is a cancer survivor, like me, so we talked about how important it is for medical facilities to become less scary and more nurturing. And that’s what he does in his work.

We veered off the subject a bit to talk about our cancer experiences. I don’t have too many cancer survivors to talk to, especially ones who are about my age, and it’s nice to be able to swap “war stories” sometimes. I know that my husband and my dad would like to forget all about the “dark period,” but cancer had a big effect on my life, and I think that sometimes it’s good to talk about it. You never know what you might learn from other survivors. For instance, this architect told me that he’s a workaholic stress case most of the time, but he drinks two cups of green tea a day, and he says that has helped him feel a lot stronger and more energetic. I am going to try it, because I could definitely use some more energy!

I’m glad to know that there are people like him out there, trying to make cancer treatments just a little more comfortable for patients. There’s a whole philosophy associated with the work he does, and it can apply to any project, really. It’s called “Double Green Design.” He has worked on projects that incorporate gardens and courtyards for patients to use, along with decent cafeterias and comfortable lounges. He talked about “architecture of emotion,” where designing a building isn’t just about functionality. It’s also about how the space makes people feel.

Now, cancer centers are designing chemotherapy suites that overlook gardens or streams and allow patients to have total privacy or to chat with others, if they feel like it. In some cases, patients can even sit outside in a courtyard with their IV poles. And the treatment areas are starting to use natural daylight, not ugly overhead lighting. When I went in for chemo, I got to spend eight hours on a little bed in a small room with harsh fluorescent lights and one grimy window. A nice view sure would have helped my mood!

Anyway, doing this interview with a total stranger got rid of my blues for awhile. He’s actually designing all these cool centers, and I’m just writing about them, but although I’m not doing as much as he is, I feel like at least I am helping by getting this new information out there. I realized how nice it is to be writing about something that I actually care about. Sometimes, the oddest things will cheer you up. Thank you, KMD!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Emotions

My husband is starting to be not so thrilled with my acting pursuits. Last week, I was in a great mood because I had three auditions. This week, I'm wan and depressed because I haven't booked any work and I don't have any more auditions on the horizon. "How can I make you happy?" he asks. But there's really nothing he (or anyone) can do to brighten my mood. Right now, everything is just tinged with sadness.

It's not just about the acting, though. I'm having a rough time at work, but of course, I can't write about it here because I learned the hard way that you never know who might be reading. Suffice it to say that my standards and the standards of the publication are not entirely in sync.

I also feel like I have no friends in the area. I've tried to get out and meet new people, but I think that once the college years are over, it's really difficult to meet new people. I went to an event through Bay Area Linkup that was a gathering of women who wanted to make new women friends, but although everyone was very nice, I didn't feel like I had much in common with any of them, since they were all over 40 and divorced. There is an upcoming event for writers that I might check out, though.

Anyway, tonight I tried to make myself feel a little better by using that time-honored feminine pick-me-up...shopping! I just went to Ross, but I found a really cute, cheap pair of shoes that made me smile. They slides with a little heel, and they have sequins all over the front. I also decided that I was in desperate need of comfort food, so I made pasta for dinner. It was sort of a "half-homemade" recipe, but it turned out really well. I browned some extra lean ground beef and then added chopped onion and garlic and fresh basil and oregano and one tomato. Then I poured in a bunch of wine and a bottle of Classico marinara. I let it all simmer for about an hour, added some red pepper flakes and served it over that pasta you can get in the refrigerated section of the grocery store..Buitoni. It tured out really well. Of course, I didn't write any measurements down, so I may never be able to replicate it, but having a comforting meal helped me feel a little better.

Anyone else have any tips for getting over the blues? I'd love to hear them...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

And Then, The Deluge

I have another audition! All right, all right, so it's not really a deluge, but three in one week is pretty good, especially after I thought I had been abandoned by my agent. Tomorrow, I go in for the part of a young bank teller at Wells Fargo. This is just for an industrial film, meaning the general public will never see it, but hey, it would be a paid part and I could get some material for my reel. It's not glamorous, but it's better than a sharp stick in the eye!

The audition on Wednesday went pretty well. It was for a promo for Discovery Channel's "Shark Week," and it was all improv. I tried to come up with some funny lines so that I would be memorable. The whole thing was sort of a spoof on the town hall meeting from Jaws, where everyone's all upset about the killer shark. We were just acting crazy and throwing out wild inaccuracies about sharks. Then, the two "myth busters" say, "You want the truth about sharks? Watch Discovery Channel's Shark Week," blah, blah, blah. It was fun! But, as usual, who knows if I'll ever hear back? I'm glad things are picking up, though. Wish me luck!