----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: September 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.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

At Last!

I have very exciting news, but I didn't want to share until I was sure that everything was going as planned. Are you ready for this?

Today, I had my first prominent role in a national television commercial!

Okay, so it was a non-union job, and the commercial will only be on the cable channels, so I'm not going to be raking it on the residuals or anything like that. Also, none of us had speaking parts. Instead, it's one of those montage-type commericals with a voiceover narrating over images. The footage is for Countrywide Home Loans, and the company is actually going to create a series of commercials out of what was shot. The first commercial will air in December, and the others will air starting in January. Not all the footage will be in all the commercials, but be on the lookout for me...I'm the girl in the white T-shirt standing on a lawn in front of a sprinkler.

The shoot was really fun and low-key. It was just down in front of a house in San Rafael, so I didn't have to commute too far. I got there at 8:30, and I went into makeup soon thereafter, because my little vignette was one of the first to be shot. The only glitch came when I checked in with the shoot coordinator/wardrobe person, and she said, "Okay, you're 'Girl in Front of Sprinkler.' They wanted you in a bikini swimsuit top, but I talked them out of it and you're just going to be in a T-shirt and shorts instead. So, show me the stuff you brought." Well, that was a problem, because the information I'd gotten said to bring slacks, sweaters, blouses and casual shoes. I had one stretchy T-shirt and a pair of jeans I'd thrown in at the last minute. Everything else was more upscale casual. But, in the end, they found a plain white T-shirt and a pair of khaki capris for me to wear. Well, they were supposed to be capris, but since they were two sizes too big, they were full-length, and they barely stayed up around my waist. I was told that mostly only my head and torso would be in the shot though, so it didn't matter.

Anyway, once I was in the makeup chair, the makeup artist spent a long time lining my eyes and blending my eyeshadow and powdering my face and lining and glossing my lips. Then, once I got in front of the camera, the director decided that I looked "too polished," so it was back into the trailer so she could take most of the makeup off. Then the director decided that it was supposed to be a hot day, so I should look a little sweaty. So, my hair was gelled and spritzed with water and mussed up, and my face was dabbed with glycerin to make me look all dewey and hot. Also, there was a brief, terrible moment where I thought I was going to have to wear a really ugly cowboy hat, but luckily that didn't happen.

Here's how the shot went: "Okay, look behind you at the sprinkler. Now turn to face the camera. Now shift your weight from foot to foot. No, not so much like a dance, just like a little shift. Okay, good. Now look down. Now look back at the camera. Now pretend you're hot. Now look around some more. Okay, good. Cut." Setting up the shot took about an hour. Shooting it took about a minute. And then they brought in a photographer to do some still shots, and I was done. The makeup artist told me later that the client was very happy with me because I was "so pretty."

They asked me to stick around in case they needed me for something else later, so I hung out with the rest of the talent, sat in the sun, enjoyed a really good catered lunch, and read my book for a while.

Then, at three o'clock, the coordinator said I was wrapped and could take off. I signed my contract, changed back into my regular clothes, and gathered up my stuff. Then I drove off, $500 richer and happy knowing that I would soon be making my TV debut. Unless they cut me, of course. But I really hope that doesn't happen. When you next see a Countrywide commercial, look for me!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

This One's For You, Mrs. S.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a comment on my blog from my 7th-grade English teacher, who wrote that she was "mighty proud of my efforts to maintain a grammatically correct generation." I looked her up in the phone book after that, and we had a nice chat. Her devotion to pounding grammar into impressionable young minds was one factor that led to me becoming a writer and copy editor. (The acting and real estate stuff I came up with on my own.) She's retired now, but my friends and I still reminisce about how scary we once thought she was, and how much we learned from her. She really was a fantastic teacher.

Anyway, I will continue to point out grammatical errors on this blog, even though the number of people who care is dwindling. Case in point: this ad for Sarah Jessica Parker's perfume, Lovely. The ad, which I found in my October issue of Glamour, reads "Experience a new way to wear Lovely. Liquid satin perfume seum leaves a delicate baby soft finish that begs to be touched. A perfect scent accessory to backless, strapless and skin bearing fashions."

Let's leave aside the issue of hyphenation, which is a whole other story. How can ad copywriters expect us to read their ads and buy their products if they make such egregious usage errors? Skin bearing? Seriously? What does the skin bear? It sounds to me like it might be time to visit a dermatologist if your skin is bearing something. Skin-baring fashions, on the other hand, that I can understand.

I want to find the ad agency who did this ad and chastise it for its sloppy work. Ad copywriters get paid decent money. They should at least take the time to proofread their copy. And if they can't, then I'd be happy to do it. For a fee, of course.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This Is Serious

I have friends who are now experiencing every parents' worst nightmare. Their 4-1/2-year-old daughter is seriously ill with aplastic anemia. She will need a bone marrow transplant, and no one in the immediate family is a match.

I urge you all to visit this site and help in any way possible, whether that means making a monetary donation or being typed as a possible bone marrow donor. To get on the donor registry, all you need is a simple blood test or cheek swab. If you are a match for someone who needs marrow, you will be given anesthesia while doctors use needles to extract marrow from your pelvic bones. Your marrow will regenerate in four to six weeks, according to the "ABCs of Marrow or Blood Cell Donation" on the National Marrow Donor Program site. I only wish that I could be typed as a potential marrow donor, but my past history of cancer means that I am ineligible to donate.

There is also an auction that will be happening on the site soon, and we will be coming up with other ways to aid Isabel and her family in any way possible. The more help we can give, the better chance this little girl has of being a survivor.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Five years ago, our world changed. Let's all take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in the September 11 attacks, and to thank those who have sacrificed to fight the war on terror. Let's also remember those who are dying needlessly in Iraq, a country with no weapons of mass destruction and no ties to Al-Qaeda. Finally, let's take a moment to grieve for innocence lost.

I remember a time when I didn't think it was possible for America to be hated by so many. I remember a time when I didn't believe a president could repeatedly lie to the American public without being held accountable. I remember a time when it seemed unthinkable to me that the CIA would run secret prisons or torture prisoners of war. I remember a time when it was illegal to hold prisoners without charging them with a crime. I remember a time when civil liberties were of paramount importance, not something to be handed over lightly. I remember when reasonable discourse, not "with us or against us" rhetoric prevailed. Alas, those days are gone.

September 11 shattered our national psyche. For some time afterwards, many Americans were glad to follow wherever the president led. I hope that now, five years later, we are beginning to see the light.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Hiatus is Over!

Even though the new year technically starts in January, September always feels like a fresh slate to me. And with all the changes I've been through recently, I'm ready for a new start. It's been more than a month since my blowout birthday bash, and in that time, I have:
  • engaged in the most horrendous moving process ever;
  • participated in a groom's last night out (good times at Captain Cream's!);
  • attended a wedding where grown men in their late 20s started a food fight;
  • gone to a christening;
  • attended two other fabulous 30th birthday parties; and
  • changed careers.

So, I've been a little busy. But to be fair, the career change thing has been in the works for a while. I just changed offices recently. I am now an officially licensed REALTOR for a well-known firm in my county, and I am hosting my first big open house this weekend! It is exciting and scary at the same time, especially because I don't know when I'll receive my next paycheck. I am still writing and copy editing, but because Mr. Pink and I want to own a home, and because that would be impossible if we were both only making "creative people" salaries, I decided to take a new path. Of course, I have impeccable timing. I am getting into real estate just as the market is cooling off. But I have faith that I can be successful!

In our efforts to save for a home, Mr. Pink and I took a hard look at our finances and income (or my lack of income for the time being), and we added up how much we had spent in rent for the past two years. That made my stomach hurt a little bit. So, we took my parents up on their very generous offer to let us move in with them. That's what precipitated the most horrendous moving process ever. We had a long weekend of partying for my birthday, and then we went right into the move. I have no idea how we accumulated so much stuff in just two years, especially since we were living in an apartment that was less than 1,000 square feet! But that's all behind us now. Living with my parents again is a little strange, but it's a big house, so I think it will work. And it's only temporary. With housing prices the way they are where we live ($650,000 for a small 40-year-old home!), we have to make some sacrifices.

That's your Astera update. Stay tuned for more madcap hilarity on the next episode of "Living With the Parents: Thirtysomething."