In South Florida, you’re always an extra.

IGNORE ME.

“Will Corey Feldman be there?!”

That’s not a question I’ve ever heard before, but screw it. First time for everything. There were models strutting around in very little clothing, and I was helping my friend’s band load in for an odd scene with a little boy and a beer can. People were milling around, often having issues staying out of the way of the film crew. I doubt many people knew how to act during a film shoot, because they certainly liked walking in front of that camera.

We had been invited along to extra in some slasher flick that apparently stars the aforementioned Corey (hopefully not the other one… could get tricky) and some random girls that seemed confused and good at being pretty. They did that job well enough, and the muscle-bound “killer” of the film had some hard-hitting dialogue such as “What… wanna go for a ride?” and … well, that’s it. That’s all I heard him say.

One of the bar girls kept taking off and putting on her jacket, trying to determine which made her boobs look better for the shot. She was hidden behind other people anyway, but that one little possibility of her left breast being in a movie appealed to a deeper part of the brain, it seemed. I took my jacket off because I was warm after moving the equipment, which was taken as an invite to inspect my breasts. I declined.

There was nothing but beer to drink, which I hate, so I sipped on a Monster for a while and smoked more cigarettes than necessary. My friends were hyped up and excited since this was going to be exposure for them, and I was proud. I remember back as they were just getting things together, so this was a nice event for me to witness.

There was an eight year old child with fake tattoos and a cigarette wandering around, preparing for his scene where he hurls a beer can at the band. The director seemed extremely thrilled with his decision to include this scene, and everyone egged the kid on to aim for one band member or another. Kid did manage to peg the singer at one point, so I guess he took it to heart.

I eyed their lights and cameras, trying to get an idea of how it all works for them. I’m the kind of asshole that stares at the equipment during a show, losing track of the show I’m supposed to see or be part of. Bad, but tech-fueled, habit. Despite my lack of an attention span, I did as I was told and stood here or there as needed. Move to the left. No, a little less. Perfect. Ok, now, pretend to rock out. Good! Guys, keep rocking. Guys. GUYS. ROCK OUT, GUYS! … Yeah.

So as the night went on, people kept wandering off without direction as the film crew never told us when they were coming back or if not at all. Eventually about ten of us remained, and even the director stood in the background to fill in some gaps along the way. He was an odd fellow, showing us the poster options for the film and basically calling the location and the people inside the dirty aspects of South Florida, something gritty. I wasn’t sure if he was insulting or not, so I didn’t care much.

Walking. Walking. LOOK INTENSE. Walking...

There was a Bentley rushing out from behind the building numerous times for the shoot, nearly crashing into a friend’s van, then an unsuspecting car that was just trying to leave. They didn’t really have anything blocked off, so nobody knew for sure what was going on. I wandered around, talking shop with some various guys on the set. There wasn’t much else to do at the time.

Now look like bar sluts. GOOD!

I had done extra work before on small-budget flicks, so it was kind of cool to get back into it. There’s always something like this going on somewhere downtown, and that’s one of the beautiful things about my city. What got to me, though, was that some of the other extras with me had no experience and decided they had to ham it up for the camera. They missed the point that nobody is here to see them, and we’re just filler. That’s all. A few people were given dirty looks for trying too hard, and others came dressed as if they were the stars. The people that gained the most notice didn’t do much of anything at all– they just were cool. Acting natural is apparently hard for a lot of people to do, it seems.

It was pretty fun really, and doing the rest of the shoots will be cool too. I just wish more people understood the idea of acting casual in situations like this, not waving your boobs around like a crazed animal.

Then, we started a fire. Because that's normal.

 

Advertisements

No Decency? No Problem!

I haven’t been writing as often as I would like, due to the last week being rather… different. But hey, it was full of things to write about, so here’s the most important and first thing to set it all off.

Years ago, I was working for a coffee place where I had been rapidly promoted after my trial period, and from then on it was smooth sailing. I was repeatedly called in for overtime to cover for missing workers, and the main duties of the manager fell to me daily. I pretty much ran the place, and nobody questioned it– I was good at it. We had been facing troubles with the upper management, and went through four in the time I worked there. By the last manager, I was worn out and getting sick from my later diagnosed Crohn’s. I ended up being so sick that I was hospitalized five times in three weeks, and had to take time off. I had never used vacation or personal days, so I didn’t see a problem. The new manager that randomly disliked me, however, did.

So, shortly after his arrival and while I was sick, he started sniping at my performance. I didn’t do anything right by his standards, even though I followed the books more than anyone. Slowly, he began eliminating workers to place people he knew in their positions. They didn’t follow the rules, but he didn’t care. They kissed his ass, and that was the important factor.

During my sick time, he began calling me daily to berate me for not being at work. The time had been approved by the district manager, so I decided not to add fuel to the fire and rat on the manager for harassing me. Our store had been through enough turmoil without me making it more difficult, and for love of my job, I kept my mouth shut.

Due to this, within a week of my return I was left with the choice of quitting or being fired due to “three strikes on the dress codes.” Apparently, if it’s hot and you roll up your sleeves to show a possibly offensive (a bird of paradise adorns both my wrists) you can be fired. But, if you’re the managers friend and have magic mushrooms and a tripping caterpillar on your leg for the world to see, it’s fine.

I quit that day and didn’t bother returning for my last of the week. I was fed up, still sick, and hurt. I had poured myself into that job, forgoing social life and personal. It was brought down by one man with a grudge, for no particular reason other than I happened to be there. I lost the last health insurance I have had, right before a double diagnoses of two very problematic illnesses.

These adorable kitties make this part less depressing.

Fast forward now to a week ago. I started to see the familiar signs all over again, but this time not with my job– a worker with a grudge, trying desperately to infuriate  my husband on a daily basis. He’d come home angry and exhausted over the constant verbal abuse from this guy, but for the sake of keeping the peace, never bothered to report him. He figured it would blow over, and I tried not to let it get to me. He worked his ass off daily only to be yelled for no particular reason.

 

Luckily, he was spared for two weeks and managed to work with another crew that enjoyed his company and work ethic. They constantly complimented his quick ability to learn, and how much he had already accomplished. They even shared a dislike for his other co-worker, as everyone had problems with the guy. He was all around not someone anybody wanted to bother with. Things seemed to be going well. As all good things tend to end, he was put back on shift with the wonderful man we’ll call Earl. So Earl keeps up with verbally assaulting him, badmouthing everyone (including the upper management) and being rather vague as to what he wanted my husband to do. Still, he did his job and worked as hard as he could.

Some might think I am biased. Truthfully, it could be my own mother doing a bad job and I’d still fire her. I don’t look at friends as friends when we’re working together. I have been in such a position, and despite my own like for the person, did what had to be done if they just refused to work. If I have to boss you around, I will. If you’re doing something wrong, I will correct you. Work is work, it’s not personal. With my husband, I’ve seen his work ethic and his abilities. I’ve personally watched an old boss beg him to stay because he was such a fine employee. So when he came home and let me know he was fired for not doing a good enough job, I called a big fat bullshit.

Apparently, Earl had been quietly going to the bosses and complaining about his laziness and inability to work, none of which anyone has ever seen before and probably never will. This was, in fact, a job he had hoped for. To go out of his way to screw it up would be a stupid move on his part, and stupidity isn’t something he’s good at.

Without speaking to my husband at any point or the other workers, he was let go, all thanks to one guy that likes to kiss some ass. Now, to make a point, he was the third guy this man has worked with that magically didn’t make the cut. Nobody bothered to notice this trend, apparently.

It’s practices like this that truly bother me. All it really takes is one person to come along and ruin someone else’s job record, financial situation and desire to do well. While we’re lucky this came during my work season, it still hits hard when we were just finally catching up.  There’s nothing good to come of losing your job in this economy– except now, there won’t be more constant berating and we can move on to better things without this holding him back.

My job, however, is still awesome.

As if by sheer luck, while I was thinking of writing this my husband turned to me as we exited the highway and pointed out the work truck and his ex co-worker driving back at about 6:30 pm, alone, and a long way from the warehouse. Obviously his productivity has gone up, being three hours behind already with another 40 minutes to go. Unlike this man, though, we’re not going to stay bitter over it all. It does solidify my distrust in people offering a stable job, and it absolutely reminds me that there’s always someone who can and will try to fuck you over.

For now, I’ll enjoy having him home with me more often until we can get things straightened out. When that time comes, if someone decides to be abusive at work, it’s getting reported. People like that don’t deserve to keep coasting along screwing up everyone else’s day just because they can.

Faking the Voice

I’m not very special, but I hope to be one day.

Hunter S. Thompson was special. Ian McKellen is special. People that devote a lifetime to their work (and even lose that life for it) are amazing individuals. They deserve to be noticed, heard, and even praised. What have I done? I write in a blog seen by, tops, a thousand people. I write stories people don’t see. Does this make me amazing? Hardly. Should I ever take it as far as I’d like, perhaps. But that’s quite a long way off.

It’s that sort of knowledge that I hope to see out of the actors I meet, the dancers, musicians… there’s no denying they are talented… sometimes. Just because they’re in a play doesn’t make them a Broadway-worthy name. There are a lot of very gifted people there, though, and I respect them. Not all of them are egotistical, it’s only just enough to make you cringe.

You want to chase a dream, and that’s wonderful! Give everything you’ve got and run for it. But it’s not cute even in the greatest of stars to be a total dick, no matter what kind of draw you have. So when it’s a kid in an acting class sauntering up and treating everyone around them like an abused dog, there’s no way to take them seriously.

For real, bro.

There are others I’ve met in various situations (I hang out at coffee shops, where everyone is a future artist/writer) that seem to take on their air of importance before anyone even knows they exist. Do I know talented writers with aspirations? Oh, yes, and many other kinds of artists. They’re wonderful people with amazing works that ought to be seen. Then there are the others, the ones that magically haven’t written a word or painted one canvas, but damn it, that’s part of the process. You just don’t get it, man. Don’t tell me nobody gets it. Even serial killers will have some crazy guy “get” them. No, I get it. You need an excuse to wear a cool hat and smoke while brooding without ever holding down a job. HOW YOU GET SO COOL BRO?

Also, poets. Dear god, poets. Some are truly master wordsmiths. Some… look, I’ll reproduce your work right now.

She looked upon my suffering, unending and pure

I gazed into her empty soul

There was a moment of utter void until, I demurred 

“Did you replace the toilet paper roll?”

Now I’m a fuckin’ poet! Suck it, Robert Frost. Emily Dickenson. E. E. Cummings fuck it, I’ll say the Vogons, because the ones up there were actually good.

To my friends that neglect normalcy, forgo lives, stay up all night working on that piece or that put themselves on the line for a craft, good for you. Again– I stress this. There are millions of beautifully talented people out there, and I’m so glad to know many. Hell, there are folks I know where I just don’t get their work, but it’s theirs, and I respect that. It’s those bastards that don’t do a anything at all who ruin it for the rest of us legitimately trying to be heard. You’re faking it for an image you don’t even deserve, one that people don’t even like too much.

I want to believe that the truly talented will someday be noticed for what they are and worked for. It’s a nice idea, but with so many in existence it is even harder to be seen waving your arms above the crowd. It takes a true dedication to your work, and utter belief in yourself that you can get there.

To that dude three tables away from me at Starbucks rambling on about that screenplay he’ll totally write (if you’d send me some cash, ma, c’mon! I’m an artist!)  I kindly refer you to this bag of dicks you can enjoy eating.

I made this handy image on my phone, if you didn't know what a bag of dicks looks like.

I am a failure and I don’t finish stuff, yeah!

"But how many times can you really be tricked by ladyboy before it's gay?"

So, I have the short story completed… in writing, in a notebook. Work has held me off from actually making sense of my scribblings (I’m sure I can post it up as-is, but that would be… concerning. Most margins contain doodles of dicks with hats) and I’m still stuck on some article stuff for the magazine. So what I’m saying here is that fuck you, I will get back to that thing later. I didn’t mean that fuck you. I really like you.

In the meantime, here are some random photographs, punctuated with odd things I heard at work recently. There’s no end to weird crap to be overheard backstage, especially when dancers are involved. For example: There is an interpretive dance about the plight of sex-slave children. … Yeah. That.

So! Have some pictures.

"I'm kinda sad today. I feel like my dancing isn't... heavy. Y'know?"

"I need to really feel like you're owned by that pimp. Make me feel it."

"Someone left poop paper in the bathroom."

"Everyone is walking around like it's 'Free Anal Rape' day. See? That guy? He's walking funny too. What the hell?"

It also occurs to me to tell you about the homeless, urine-soaked man with the twitch that was at my bus stop today. Upon my arrival, he started cackling and (presumably) adding to his urine aroma. I didn’t really want to deal with that so early in the morning, but I doubt he wanted to deal with himself either. Sadly, this bus runs every forty minutes, and I had just missed the last one. He’s taking up the whole bench– which is fine, I didn’t want to sit next to the guy anyway. He flailed a lot, and it’s a rude day when you’re slapped by big hands that have been playing in pee.

So UrineMan starts to stare. I don’t think he’s so much staring at me as he is through my very bowels, because his gaze was centered somewhere around my small intestine. He started digging in his bag, which I was terrified contained the last public transportation victim of the day, but no. It contained, of all things, a pack of pornographic playing cards. Alright, I can deal with that. A guy needs to see some boob in the morning. I do every day for free, so why can’t he? Thankfully, the bus arrived shortly thereafter, because I didn’t really want to witness his intent with those… especially since he resumed staring at my digestive system. The combination of pornography and my poop area wasn’t something I wanted to entertain at 7:30am. Actually, I usually don’t at any given time if it also involves urine and men with muscle spasms.

It dawned on me while I was entering the bus to work… no matter where I am, at what time, or for whatever reason… there will always be someone nearby ready to excrete on me. And that just plain makes me feel special.

I’ve lost track.

This weather isn't helping.

I’m trying to commit to balance.

The theatre season has begun, and right now I am enjoying one day off out of nine at work. I have writing due every night, and people to attend to. There’s art I have to create for shows, and no sleep on the horizon.

While there’s something brutally rewarding in the fact that my world is saturated in the arts, I’m seeing how some people go crazy in the process. (The owner of this blog in no way, shape or form is stating that she was not already crazy.) There’s been so much going on around me that I am unsure what is keeping me awake or thinking.

 

It hit me earlier, as I was pushing myself further than usual– I thrive on this. I am the kind of person that needs to be shoved, tossed, and made to perform without rest. I get bored and anxious easily, so this makes for a fine distraction. I’m not afraid of burning out… I’ve avoided that for some time, now, and I think I can keep it up. I just don’t need to know what day it is or where I am, and I’ll be fine.

I gave up meat, I’ve committed to trying to sleep at least three hours a day, and I drink healthier things. That’s not going to work for very long, I’m sure, and I’ll find myself in a corner stuffing Mountain Dew and pepperoni pizza into my mouth, screaming “WHY ARE YOU SO FUCKING GOODMUFFMUFMMMMF” and crying. It seems like a natural response to stress, right?

There is one thing I have gained from driving myself over the edge that I didn’t expect: Pride. I’m proud of the things people have said about all of this, and the compliments I’ve received for the work I’ve put in to the magazines. It’s not something I’m used to, at all, because I’ve always been far too critical of myself. I think it’s time to let that go, if only for a little while, and realize that maybe I can do something right.

Again, that won’t last long, and I’ll have an epic movie-like scene of tossing about my notebooks and sketches, rambling on about how I’m a failure. Usually in those movies some older mentor comes around to try and assuage those feelings, but I’ve yet to find my professor figure. Maybe I’ll pay some guy that looks vaguely like Sean Connery to just stand around me and grumble out slightly biting, but useful, words of encouragement.

Nooo, don't go down the doom staircase.

Until that cool old dude shows up, I just have to rely on myself to keep moving forward. I’m seeing changes in myself as this progresses, and realizing some things that need to change. I have a solid goal now, and any roadblocks have to be dealt with accordingly. I can’t be afraid of it anymore.

Here’s hoping I can keep up.

 

Enter title here, preferably life-affirming cliché.

He was a bulky kid. People figured he’d be prized for a sport, football especially. There wasn’t much else going on for him– not only did he posses an apathetic attitude towards his own well-being, but the neighborhood was bad enough to only offer drugs or gang activity. He would saunter around, knocking over the smaller kids, taking precious time from them that could be spent doing anything but getting your ass kicked by some loser.

I remember scaring him off with our family dog, JJ, who had a severe distaste for “dark” people, as my aunt would say. The reality was he had been abused by a black kid, and didn’t trust them. I felt like an utter racist using him as a deterrent against the kids that chased after me (if I made him home faster than they made it to me) but you do what you have to.

So ghetto boy was walking down the street towards me, one day. We were all leaving Crystal Lake Middle, known for the welcoming environment and lawful behavior (lie) and I knew what was coming, so I ran. Luckily for me, I was very small and quick. It only really helps if you have a fine escape route, but I usually did. The school is near Sample and Dixie Highway, so I had to run to Copans and Dixie near the funeral home to get home. It’s quite a trek when a kid with two fists for you is chasing behind rapidly.

I knew some routes to take, but today I noticed cops by the old folk’s neighborhood. I made for a mad dash across Copans when it happened, because running past the cops directly is never advised unless you’re into batons and handcuffs. I was only twelve, so that sort of enjoyment didn’t come til later.

I heard a thunk and this weird sound, almost like a dying cat. The kid managed to get himself hit by a car backing out of a driveway. He wasn’t dead, he was hardly hurt, but he was weeping like a baby and flailing at any attempts to help him. I stood there in the median of the road and watched him convulse in sobs. I only had three thoughts of note before walking slowly home:

“Good.” — “Should have been hit harder.” — “He’s a waste of life.”

That was simply one of the many moments that made me pause and evaluate some things about life. First, despite the attempts to indoctrinate me that came from my grandmother or other members of the family, I didn’t think he’d be going anywhere after he died. I also realized how few of the people in this neighborhood would ever amount to a thing in their lives. The last thing I remembered was most important to me– I still remember this kid, to this day, for being an utter moron. That’s his claim to fame in my mind. He could be dead by now, in jail, or just sitting on a couch doing nothing. Maybe he is something, I don’t know. Chances are pretty slim, though.

It was after these times that I realized how easily it is to be remembered as a waste of time and a waste of flesh. I vowed never to simply sit still and be a nothing, to never look back and think “shit, I’m a loser. Why am I alive?”

I feel like this when I stay home and stare at a TV, even though that’s a highly unlikely event. I get this way if I am not actively challenging myself to something, mentally or physically. Some people take pleasure out of doing absolutely nothing. Good! You get pleasure from something. That’s for you to decide. I probably won’t join you, but that’s me. And that’s what we have as a collective. We have the ability to decide what is worth our time, what isn’t, and what makes us happy. We’re alive, and that’s only for so long. Not taking advantage of that is one of the biggest affronts to nature you can give. Maybe you think God put you here. Maybe you think you’re just a collection of symbiotic organisms that make you walk and talk. Doesn’t matter. You’re still alive.

Yep. Gonna die.

We’ve been born into a society that likes it when you do nothing with your free time. Then, TV shows get ratings. Things get bought from the commercials. That’s cool. We need consumers to keep society as we know it alive. If you can show me one thing I’ve bought due to an advertisement within the last ten years, I’ll give you my wallet. I’ve seen things and thought “cool, I like it” and moved on. Some people are like that, some are not. I personally don’t care which you prefer to be, since it’s not up to me to decide that. The only thing I care about is that the people I associate with bother to step up and say no, I won’t be lazy and useless, because I’ll be dead soon. (Even if you’re into TV.)

If you feel like it’s boring, stop doing it. It isn’t worth it. If you HAVE to because it’s your job, get a new one. Can’t do that? Make the best of your free time. The absolute best. Go do the things you keep saying you “hope” to do before you die. Don’t sit around hoping or waiting for some excuse to not do it. There’s always a way, unless it’s beyond human science or reach. No, you can’t travel to the sun, unless you’re a fucking scientist with the ability to build a rocket … to go die. It’s hot. Don’t do that. You’re stupid.

I keep hearing people say they envy this, wish they could be that. Why not? Worst you’re going to do is fail, but if you never tried, you fail anyway. At least you did something. Nothing is so impossible that it’s completely out of your reach, and other such self-help bullshit.

And like I said above, within the realm of science, before I get a comment about “but if the paralyzed comatose guy wants to go skiing, hurrr” … yeah, that guy is fucked. I know.

The point is this: If you’re unhappy with your life, nobody is going to come rescue you. Believe love will fix you? That’s nice. And when they’re gone, then what? They are going to leave you, or die. Unless you happen to die at the exact same moment, you’re going to be heartbroken. Maybe you’ll die and leave them feeling alone. Love is a wonderful thing, but it won’t keep you alive for very long. Eating your loved ones is not recommended for sustenance.

Think that new job is great? Cool. Now you have more bills. Now you’re broke again. You’ll possibly lose that job. Do something you at least like, or that you have a passion for. Or hell, even if all it does is pay for the things you want to do, keep at it. Maybe find some awesome free shit to do. Make your own entertainment. I’ve met plenty of freelance or jobless people that are absolutely content with their choices, since life is more than how much money you have.

There’s nothing in this world that has more say over you than yourself. People have successfully overthrown regimes, escaped totalitarian countries, started over and made the world their bitch. Once you read about a guy crawling and starving to get out of his shitty life, you’ve lost your excuse.  Even if you die trying, at least you had the balls to put forth the effort.