----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: March 2006

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, March 29, 2006


I just booked my first-ever paying on-screen acting job, and I have a speaking part. Drumroll, please...I will be playing a waitress in a training video for Ghirardelli Chocolate! That means that the only people who will ever see it will be new hires at Ghirardelli. Not exactly a star-making role. And I'm not going to live off the residuals or anything--it pays a whopping $150, but it's only shooting for four hours, so that's not too bad. Better than working for free! This job is what's known in industry parlance as an "industrial film." Yah, Dieter, bring out the sprockets. (That's a little inside joke for Mr. Pink.)

Ah, the glamorous life of a striving young actress. But hey, maybe I'll get some free chocolate! (Don't get me wrong...I am really excited about this. But I don't want to make too much of it, because probably most people won't think it's that big a deal. I've got to start somewhere, though!)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Anyone Know a Good Accountant?

I started doing my taxes tonight with TurboTax, and I was shocked--shocked!!!--to learn that for the first time ever, Mr. Pink and I owe taxes. How can this be possible? It's not like we make a lot of money--far from it. I was expecting a refund, and instead, we owe close to $2,000 in state and federal taxes. It's a nightmare. I don't want to evade taxes. I know that it's my duty as a citizen to pay. But it just seems like we owe so much, especially since the government already takes a big bite out of every paycheck. And that's after taking my deduction for my beloved Prius! At this point, I'm just hoping I made some sort of error. But I've checked and double-checked, and I can't find anything wrong.

I guess the moderate-income people like us get no tax relief. But if you're a wealthy George Bush crony, you probably have so many tax breaks that you end up paying nothing at all. I bet that somehow, this is all the Republicans' fault, although I am not sure how. They seem like good people to blame, though. Stupid Republicans and their tax cuts for the wealthy!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Indecent Proposal

I know there is a lot of crazy stuff posted on Craigslist, but this is the most sickening thing I've seen. (Granted, I never look at the "adult" section, so who knows what depravity lurks there.) Maybe this is all just a big hoax. I certainly hope so. But it is chilling nonetheless. I just can't believe that anyone would actually take such a job. Read it for yourself:

Young Actress Needed for Edgy Film
I am a young filmmaker who has worked on several public television documentaries as a writer/producer, and am now working on an independent project. I am seeking a bold and creative actress with a true love for the craft for my latest project focusing on the challenges facing young, pregnant women in today's society.

I am a member of the "new realist" school of filmmaking. This format is not to be confused with documentary filmmaking. All scenes will be outlined, if not scripted.

This film will focus on the horrors of the 21st Century (specifically the warlike, capitalist system that George Bush has imposed on the world). It will be political, and it will be provocative. It will begin with you playing a hopeful, young, religious woman seeking happiness and fulfillment. It will conclude with you shaving your head and having an abortion.

Please note that all actresses must be willing to become pregnant, have an actual abortion, and be willing to have the procedure filmed. All associated medical expenses will be covered. I believe that this sacrifice will make a powerful message about the inhuman, fascist world we are beginning to see.

Please send a professional head shot and a list of references.
I look forward to hearing from talented and excited women for this project.

no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Compensation: $5000

Now, I am absolutely pro-choice, but getting pregnant for the sole purpose of having an abortion and allowing the procedure to be filmed is absolutely beyond the pale. It's like making a snuff film. I can't imagine why this filmmaker thinks that such a tactic will bring to light the "inhumanity" of the world we live in. Such an act is inhuman in and of itself, and is most likely to backfire. In my view, all this stunt will do is prove to abortion foes that women are getting abortions solely for the sake of convenience, and cause them to argue that abortions are too easily accessible. Sure, it will provoke an outcry, but I don't think it will be the one that the filmmaker intends. Is there anyone who possibly thinks that it is ethical to get pregnant and have an abortion just to be in a movie? I really am disgusted by this. Perhaps I am just giving this deluded filmmaker what he or she wants--attention--but I had to speak out about this. Again, I certainly hope this is a hoax. Otherwise, I think of it as proof of the depravity of this filmmaker.

Postscript: I found this posting at about 4:00 this afternoon. It's now almost 9:30. I would have provided the link to the actual ad, but it has been removed by the Craigslist community. So I guess I was not alone in my outrage.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

If You Sprinkle When You Tinkle...

I have never understood women who feel the need to hover over public toilet seats, rather than simply sit their butts down. Even if paper covers are available, some of these women will still squat, rather than sit. The result is pee all over the toilet seat, which of course they can't be bothered to wipe up.

I have small bladder capacity, so I frequently make use of public facilities, and this pee all over the seat troubles me. Why? What's so bad about sitting? Are these women worried that they are going to catch something from a public toilet seat? Pee is sterile, for the most part. While it certainly is an icky sensation to sit down on a damp seat, you're unlikely to contract some dread disease by doing so. And it's also unlikely that any other germs could survive long enough on a toilet seat to infect you. Besides, unless you have open, oozing sores on your thighs or bottom, your skin is enough of a protective barrier to prevent infection. So what's the deal? Does anyone know anyone who has actually gotten an infection from a toilet seat? And I mean an infection that was confirmed to come from a toilet seat, not just apocrpha or an urban legend. If this has actually happened, I would like to know about it. Until then, sit your butt down and stop spraying pee everywhere!

While I'm on the subject, what is the deal with women who refuse to flush the toilet with their hands? So many women seem to flush only with their foot. I can kind of understand this, because there are probably more germs on the toilet handle than there are on the seat, but come on! Aren't you going to wash your hands before you leave the restroom anyway? That should get rid of any germs you might pick up by touching the toilet handle. Honestly, people. Use a little common sense.

Actually, I prefer the manual flush toilets, even if people do tend to flush with their feet. Those automatic flush toilets never work for me. Either they flush while I'm still on the toilet, giving me that oh-so-pleasant bidet effect, or they refuse to flush at all, so I'm stuck in the stall, waving my hand in front of the electronic eye and jumping up and down to try and get the damn thing to flush. Sometimes there's a little manual override flush button to use, but sometimes, it's impossible to find. So either the toilet flushes two or three times while you're in there (a waste of water), or it won't flush at all (aesthetically unappealing, to say the least.)

And one more thing, while I'm on this bathroom rant. I hate it when there's a long line for the bathroom and one of the toilets hasn't been flushed. This means that most of the women in line will refuse to use that stall! Not me. I'll go in and try to flush the toilet. If it doesn't flush or is clogged, I won't use it. But if it flushes, everything is fine. It's ready to use. But most women won't even bother to try and flush a soiled toilet. They'll just avoid using it. And when there's a long line and only three stalls and one hasn't been flushed, that just means everyone has to wait longer.

So here are my rules for using public bathrooms:
1. Don't pee on the seat. If you really, really feel the need to hover (and why you would, I don't know), at least wipe up after yourself. Don't be inconsiderate.
2. Just flush with your hand. You're going to wash them anyway, aren't you?
3. Don't automatically avoid a soiled toilet. So the last person forgot to flush. That doesn't mean the toilet is contaminated for all future uses!

Seriously, people. Get a grip. I would venture to guess you're more likely to pick up an infection from shaking hands with someone than you are from using a public bathroom.

Thank you for indulging me in my rant. Oh, and another thing...if there's a long line, you can zip up your pants and tuck in your shirt after you vacate the stall. This is particularly applicable at intermission during a play or other performance. We all have to go. Get in, get out, and get on with it. That's what I say.

Monday, March 13, 2006

February Book Report

This is my very late February book report! I spend most of my day on the Internet, so by the time I get home, I have lost my motivation to turn the damn computer on again. That's why my so-called "adventures" have been lagging a bit lately, in case you were wondering.

Wickett's Remedy--Myla Goldberg
If you have any concerns about what the next pandemic (bird flu?) might be like, read this fact-based novel. Set in the early 20th century, it starts out as a love story and evolves into something completely different. It explores the devastation of the Spanish flu pandmic, but despite some of the heavy subject matter, the story moves along briskly. The book actually intertwines two narratives, and various "bit players" are allowed to have their say in the side notes on the margins of each page--a clever device.

The Position--Meg Wolitzer
Remember when you first saw The Joy of Sex? Remember the thrilling feeling of a slightly dirty discovery? Now imagine how you'd feel if your parents not only wrote the book, but also posed for those ridiculously dated pen-and-ink illustrations. How would it affect you for the rest of your life? This novel tries to answer that question, and comes up with a satisfying, although not necessarily happy, conclusion. I actually like Wolitzer's novel The Wife better, though, because the story had a more interesting twist.

The Thing About Jane Spring--Sharon Krum
A very light, fluffy read. Your typical "makeover" story, where a woman who's unlucky in love changes her look and personality to win people over. The twist here is that Jane Spring doesn't just change her look for a guy. She also uses her new persona to get ahead in her career. Wholly unrealistic, but somewhat entertaining.

Everyone Worth Knowing--Lauren Weisberger
Also wholly unrealistic, but not particularly entertaining. The Devil Wears Prada was much better, although it was also irksome to me. Do these people seriously not know where to draw the line between their personal and professional lives? In this novel, the main character's transformation from clueless banker (or something) to sophisticated event-planner-about-town just didn't ring true. I mean, she was living in New York. How could she never have heard of Bungalow 8 or not know what a Birkin bag was? I mean, I live in the suburbs on the other side of the country, and I know those things. Making it all the more unbelievable was the fact that the character did, in fact, read US magazine, so she couldn't be totally ignorant of pop culture and celebrity lifestyles. This novel had no real point. The main problem seemed to be that our little protagonist got too fabulous too fast and didn't enjoy being used as a pawn in her event-planner boss's quest to keep a high public profile. Oh, how terrible! Yawn.

Chasing the Devil's Tale--David Fulmer
Jass--David Fulmer
Rampart Street--David Fulmer These three novels are all mysteries/crime stories set in early 20th-century New Orleans, with a private detective named Valentin St. Cyr as their protagonist. They are grounded in history, and I enjoyed reading about the long-past New Orleans. The novels have a spare, downbeat tone, and they don't exactly offer nonstop action, but they do an excellent job of evoking a certain mood. Once I read the first one, I was eager to read the others. I would definitely recommend reading them in order (Chasing the Devil's Tale was published first), because certain characters recur throughout all the books. These were the most enjoyable novels I read in February. I read them all in quick succession, and now I'm a little sad I've finished them, because Rampart Street was just published, so I will have to wait a while for the next installment.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Stultifying Atmosphere

For the past three weeks, I have been working full-time in an actual office. Yes, my days of sleeping until 8:30 (okay, sometimes 9:00) and then spending the first two hours of my morning working in my pajamas are over. Now I'm getting up at 6:30 to battle traffic so I can be at my desk by 8:30. All I have to say is, thank God I have the exemption stickers that let me drive my Prius solo in the carpool lane. I feel SO much better whizzing by on the freeway at 17 miles an hour when all the other poor schmoes are only doing about 7.

But here's the big, dirty secret. I come into the office, sit down, check my office email, and then, for the next seven hours and 55 minutes of the day, I have nothing to do. Well, last week was a little busier. Some days I did actual work for probably three whole hours. And it's not like I haven't tried to find tasks to occupy my time. I've told my co-workers that I am happy to help them out with any projects they have. But at the same time, I don't want to make too big of a deal out of my idleness, because I am filling in for someone who is on family leave, and if this person actually has some sweet setup where he's getting paid for doing very little, I don't want to be the one to rat him out. Plus, I'm supposed to be here for another few weeks, and I would like to keep collecting that paycheck.

On the other hand, I am beginning to be bored out of my mind. There's only so much online news I can read, you know? And I'm already checking my email obsessively. Luckily, my cubicle is in a back corner where no one can really see what I am doing, but it just feels wrong to bust out a novel or a crossword puzzle to pass the time. I know, I know. We should all have such problems. Seriously, though, I've got to find something to fill the empty hours. And blogging at work is out, since we all know how that turned out last time. Any suggestions?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Alone Time

What do you do when you're alone? I had time to ponder this question last weekend, when Mr. Pink went down to Mammoth to go snowboarding with some friends. He left Wednesday night and he didn't get home until Sunday afternoon, which is the longest we've spent away from each other in our short marriage (coming up on a year and a half!).

At first, I was looking forward to being alone. After all, before we got married, I lived by myself, and I loved it. I loved only being responsible for my mess, I loved staying up as late as I wanted, I loved being able to keep every single back issue of every single magazine that I subscribed to without someone threatening to throw the whole pile in the trash, I loved the fact that if I was out of Coke or some other staple (yes, I do consider Coke a "staple'), it was no one's fault but my own. But then I got married, and although living with someone else was an adjustment, I started to love that, too. Yes, even with Mr. Pink's chronic inability to put away his clothes, thus creating what I like to not-so-lovingly call the"laundry mountain" in our bedroom. And his dislike of "quiet time"--the TV must be on, even if he's not watching it.

The first thing I noticed about being home alone was how quiet it was. And that wasn't a bad thing. Seriously, the constant drone of the TV is a low-level stressor for me. I know other people don't like it when it's really quiet, but I am just not that good of a multitasker. When I want to sit and read, I want to sit and read, not listen to some inane sports patter on the television. The second thing I noticed was how much I missed Mr. Pink. Like, immediately. I knew I would miss him, but I didn't realize that I would miss him so completely just in the first few hours that I was alone. And the third thing I noticed was what a "neat sleeper" I am. When Mr. Pink and I wake up in the morning, the covers and the pillows are strewn about this way and that. When I sleep alone, I turn back a corner of the bed, climb in, and sleep peacefully until the alarm goes off. Well, that's if you don't count the two or three trips to the bathroom that I make every night. But still, when I get up the next morning, it's very easy to make the bed. Simply fold the corner back up, realign the pillows and go.

The best thing about being alone was that I got to indulge in all my guilty pleasures without any disapproval from anyone. I could eat chocolate in bed. I didn't have to throw away any magazines. I could read without the accompaniment of the television. I got to lounge on the couch and watch the entire first season of Grey's Anatomy on DVD without anyone making exasperated comments about the "stupid chick show." (Sacrilege, I tell you! It's really good. And the episode recaps on TVGasm are even better! I'm also way into Grey Matter, the Grey's Anatomy writers' blog.) I didn't have to cook dinner--I could subsist on potstickers, microwave popcorn and Coke with grenadine if I so chose. Actually, the Pater Familias was all alone that weekend, too, so he fed me a couple of times. We had a delicious breakfast at our favorite spot, which I am not going to name because too many people go there already, and then he cooked steaks that night. I tried to get him to watch Grey's Anatomy, but he just fell asleep

I got to indulge myself over the weekend. I even had a facial. But then, on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Pink came home, and I was so glad to see him. After all, he's happy to share the microwave popcorn with me, and he always lets me place my icy hands and feet on his warm body to warm them up in bed. And he makes me laugh and laugh. No one else made me laugh while he was gone. Still, I do enjoy a little alone time now and then. So spill. What do you do when you're alone?