Heath

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Homepage: http://www.heathallyn.com/


Posts by Heath

A New Adventure

It all began two years ago after a sudden, blindsiding breakup that shattered me into a thousand pieces and made just want to go to sleep and never wake up again. In an effort to find a more positive channel for that energy, I had the desperate desire to “Run away and join the circus” as they say. Join up with a touring band or some touring play. Something to get me away from my life, out of my mind and out of this city whose every inch was supersaturated with associations and memories. On a whim, I looked at jobs on Carnival Cruises. There was an opening for an “Ensemble Guitarist” to play with the house rock band. I culled together whatever crappy videos I could find of me playing guitar live with bands and cobbled together a demo. I submitted all my materials and the website said I should hear back within 90 days. 90 days cam and went so I assumed that was the end of it.

Then months later, I had a response. For round 2 they wanted me to video myself play guitar to the backing tracks they sent me for “Le Freak,” “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” I did so and submitted those along with an automated video interview where I just recorded answers to questions on my webcam. More months went by. I got another email now wanting me to take the “sight reading” portion of the interview. Gulp. I don’t sight read. Or really read music much at all. I can read music very slowly but I learn everything by ear. If I hear something I can generally play it very quickly. Well luckily for me, this “sight reading” test, wasn’t really “sight reading.” I downloaded the music I was supposed to “sight read” but then could take as long as I wanted with it. I’d heard that there wasn’t really much sight reading in this position so I hoped I could still do the job despite that not really being a skill I had. The emails also said there was no deadline and that you could do the interview at your convenience. Well, apparently there was a silent, invisible “within reason” appended to that because when I finally got back to tackling this beast many months later, my application had expired and I was told there was no way to resume it. I’d have to start from scratch again.

I was little disappointed in myself for procrastinating so badly, but decided it was actually for the best, as now I could watch for the “Acoustic Soloist” position instead which would pay more and would mean that I had my own cabin instead of sharing with someone else. And I’d be a solo acoustic act, which would be fun. Eventually that position opened up so I went to putting my solo acoustic demo together from the videos I had online, though they weren’t really appropriate as they were generally me solo in my room doing songs and not live performances with an audience which is more what they wanted, but I hoped my talent would shine through. By the time I went to submit, the position had closed again.

So again, I went to checking the listings periodically again. The next appropriate position that opened up was “Rock Band Vocalist.” A male and a female singer front a 4 piece cover band (the one I initially would have been playing guitar for had I got that position). So once again, I went to putting together demo as quickly as possible and submitted. And again, many months went by before I received an email inviting me to the second round, once again consisting of an automated recorded webcam interview, as well as 4 backing tracks I was supposed to sing along with and record via video. You can see those videos here if you like. When I was initially learning and practicing the songs, I noted how they were all fairly challenging. I figured they did that thinking “Well if someone can handle these four, they can handle the rest of the set.” One Saturday, I tried to record them but after learning and practicing all day, I was pretty vocally fatigued after the first tune, so I decided to put it off to another day so I can learn them more thoroughly first and then just record them in one day later hopefully. Strangely I also find that I can sing much better, higher, and longer live with a band, but in this solo recording at home scenario, I get all in my head and everything seems more difficult somehow and notes that I could normally hit with ease, seem shaky. I took a couple of voice lessons on a whim after a friend randomly posted recommending Megan Sherrod. I’d been singing professionally for 30 years but I knew I had some bad habits and no matter how long you’ve been doing something, you can always learn and better your craft. Megan was awesome, and I felt like a total newbie tearing everything back down to basics like I was re-learning to walk. I only got to take two lessons before I completed my audition, as I really wanted to get it done.

I uploaded the videos and all the rest of the video interview, and figured, like every other step, I’d probably not hear anything for months. 15 hours later I had a contract offer via email. I was in shock. Now it was real. Two years later, here was this opportunity to “Run away and join the circus.” I immediate set in motion trying to get all my affairs in order. There was much to do. Firstly, I had the rare animal that is a steady acting gig. I was the Lead Actor/Director/Stage Manager for the Suicide Prevention program at Fort Hood every Wednesday. As an actor this is like a minor lottery win. I play in 8 bands, 6 of which are fairly active and had gigs on the calendar. I have directors and theatre troupes who contact me directly to offer me cool roles and opportunities. I have an agent who submits me for film, commercial, and television work. I did ask Carnival is there was perhaps a later contract I might take so I could fulfill all the various things I had on the calendar through the end of the year, but they couldn’t offer me anything specific, just keep me in the “talent pool” for future contracts that might come up, so I figured I better take the “bird in the hand.” I set things in motion and sent several difficult emails. As a freelancer, I’ve spent years growing roots, expanding my network, building a professional reputation, and now I’d be leaving that all behind (at least temporarily). I feared losing my momentum. That there would be nothing for me when I came back as the world would have moved on and forgotten about me. I hated leaving people high and dry as I take pride in my work ethic and professionalism and when I make a commitment, I take that very seriously. But I felt like I had to take this opportunity for so many reasons.

Firstly it was just an amazing opportunity. I’d be making a very nice living as a singer. Doing one of the things I love, for an actual good, steady paycheck. That’s like a major lottery win. This would be chance to finally knock a huge chunk off my credit card debt that’s been looming over me for as long as I can remember. Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to make a “living” through my various and many irons in many different fires without a day job for many years now, but not enough to hammer that debt down. I feel I need a spiritual reboot. I’d be living on a ship (vocalists also get their own single cabins I found out, much to my surprise and extreme happiness), with no food expenses (one of my biggest expenses). No constant hustling and wondering where my next audition, gig, job would come from. I could just turn off my mind, sing to packed houses 6 nights a week, eat for free, see ports of call, continue my health goals with the aid of the gym on board, and hopefully meet all kinds of new people. I’d be pushed outside my comfort zone and routines in a way that I think will be good for me. And who knows what opportunities could come my way during this adventure? It just seemed like something I could not say “No” to. Something that I need and will indeed help me grow and heal and come out of it a much deeper, better, more textured and layered person.

Also, when I really analyzed all the things I was leaving behind, as much as I love them and have great gratitude for them, none of them were anything I should be basing life decisions upon. Most of them will most likely never be anything more than they are now. That’s not an insult, that’s just their nature. Of course, they could lead to other things, but in and of themselves, they most likely will not ever grow in any way. The money hasn’t changed. The venues haven’t really changed. And like pretty much everything in life, they all had their own set of cons along with the pros. I tend to be a very nostalgic, sentimental creature of habit, so it was definitely hard to let go of all these things, even temporarily. But when I really took a hard look at everything, I knew I had to go on this journey.

It’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s likely the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m trying to just be present, grateful, and to just focus on all the positives, which are numerous. I will miss you all, I will miss my bands, I will miss acting, I will miss nature, I am almost depressed by the fact that I will literally miss all the good weather. I will leave just before it’s gets cool and come back just when it’s getting hot again and that really hurts me. I don’t know what the future holds. So I will try to simply enjoy my present and let go of the pain of the past and the fears about the future. I will use my time to read, sing, play guitar, meditate, and find other ways to better myself. There’s a Learning Center on the ship where you can learn languages or study other things. I will have internet to some degree though it may be painfully slow at times and I do have to pay (a discounted rate) for it, so I won’t be completely off the grid or anything.

My apologies to anyone I disappointed or had to bail on. Hopefully you all know me well enough to know that is not my way and this is truly an exceptional circumstance. And there is never a “good” time. There’s never a period where I just have nothing on the calendar for 6 months. I’m still in shock. There is still much to do (Medical exam, dental exam) before I go to Florida for a month for rehearsals 6 days a week before shipping out on the Carnival ship “Liberty”, sailing from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas which will be my home for six months. I’ve collected a ton of names who want me to send postcards (if you would like one, add your name and address here). I don’t think it will seem real until I’m there. I’m a believer in surrendering to the universe and letting it take you where it will. And this process has demonstrated that for me. Out of the 3 positions I applied for, I think I ended up with possibly the best one. I’ve never sung 6 nights a week so I’m hoping my voice holds up. I’m studying better habits and routines for voice health.

As Buckaroo Banzai says, “No matter where you go, there you are.” I don’t know where I’m going, but here I come.

Adventure

A new path begins
Both exciting and scary
I will grow from it

Dream 44

In last night’s dream I was staying at my long time friend, Andy Hunter’s house (a fictional dream house in a fictional dream timeline that doesn’t necessarily match current life details in way). A bunch of us were going to be playing some tabeltop RPG in a little bit so we were just killing time. Andy had some kind of model clamp contraption that had multiple little arms and clamps to hold pieces for gluing and painting and such, and was constructing a cool, small crossbow type thing (probably 4 inches) for his not so miniature mini to represent his character, totally from scratch from various pieces of stuff he had and was re-purposing.

There’s a part of the dream that’s fuzzy for me now, but I know that I had a borrowed car and for some reason was going to try and find/move it. I was clicking the key fob to make the alarm beep so I could find it. I was starting to get worried someone had stolen it, then finally there was a beep. But then that car reversed and drove off. It had just been a coincidental beep. I think I eventually found the car to my relief.

Later I was in the spare bedroom where I was staying, just laying down for a bit. My phone rang. It was my ex who hasn’t spoken to me for a long time. My heart jumped. I answered. She said something but I didn’t catch the last part so I said, “Sorry, I didn’t get that last part.” She said ti again, but again, I didn’t catch it and told her so. There was a long silence. I asked if she was still there. She was. More silence. I asked if she was just silent because she was thinking, and she said yes. So we sat om the phone in silence. It was both a silence filled with some tension, wondering why she had called, but also just a comfortable silence, just being. I got out of bed to do a few things, still on the phone in silence. I had to go to the bathroom. I was just in my underwear, and the bathroom was right next to Andy’s sister’s room (fictional dream sister, not his actual sister). I didn’t feel like getting dressed so I just dashed into the bathroom. Still on the phone in silence. Then I wanted to get back to my room, but I could see the shadow of his sister folding laundry. I waited until it seemed like she was out of her door way and dashed back to my room. Still silently on the phone. The game would be starting soon. There was so much I wanted to say, but we just sat on the phone with each other in silence.

Then I woke up.

Dream 44

Long awaited call
Signal problems or just thought?
Meaningful silence

Dream 43

If you know me you probably know I have a collection of great coats. In addition, I feel this dream is RIFE with psychological layers. Like a psychological onion. Especially for actors or anyone in the movie/Television business.

In this dream, I was on the set of a very big movie. I was only an extra, but my friend, Brian Villalobos was one of the four main stars (that alone is a loaded psychological onion ready to be peeled). I believe it was being directed by Sean Cain who I worked with when he directed Terror Birds. The production had me bring all my sweet coats as possible costume options, but had ended up not using them so I had hung them all in an unused closet.

After filming had wrapped, the 4 leads had to do a photo shoot for the movie poster. As I was walking out to the holding area, I saw all my coats in a pile on the floor. Apparently, they wanted as many possibilities for costuming as possible for the photo shoot so they had just went around the entire place grabbing everything they could find including my coats from the closet, and just thrown them on the floor temporarily while they were collecting. I was furious! Those were my personal coats and were stashed in a non-production closet! I went to a table where one of the costumers and a bunch of other crew were sitting and explained the situation. They all agreed with me that it wasn’t right but also didn’t really know what I could do about it, and told me if I raised a stink it would just look bad on me and give me a bad reputation.

I was fuming, but I was also worried about pissing people off or having a bad reputation. I walked back in the studio to see if I could see what was going on. On my way some water dripped on me. I looked up and saw that a bunch of trash bags had been somehow attached to the ceiling and were holding water for a amateur and precariously-rigged rain simulator. Wait, were they getting the actors wet? Were they getting my coats wet? Placed on floor under any place there was a leak were these little fizzing sponge-pucks that somehow soaked up a lot of the water. I got close to the set and saw several wardrobe racks. From where I was, I couldn’t see my coats, but was slightly comforted by the fact that at least they were hung up on racks. I was happy for my friend Brian that he was a lead in a major film and was going to be on a movie poster, but felt very lonely, disconnected and “so close, yet so far” from my career hopes and dreams.

Then I woke up.

Coats

Too many great coats
Especially for Texas
Don’t mess with my coats

Dream 42

Such a simple dream. Just a moment with my ex, being behind her, maybe sitting in a car or something. Maybe a couch or hammock or something where she was more lying down but I could still be “behind her.” I put my chin on her shoulder from behind, right in that soft spot where her shoulder meets her neck. Our cheeks pressed together, we both smile and nuzzle up against each other. And in my dream I thought “This is where I belong. Nothing has ever felt this safe and right. This is home.”

Then I wake up. And I can still smell her. Her scent lingers in my synapses from the dream.

Dream 42

A simple moment
Yet so deep and heartbreaking
My brain’s an asshole

Dream 41

The ex and I were in my car. At an intersection, some crazed drugged out people ran up to the car and pulled her passenger door open. They started throwing money in the car frantically saying we had to keep this safe for them. I tried to floor it but Since one of them was holding on to the passenger door handle, my car skewed that direction (dream physics don’t have to make sense). Eventually I got loose and we sped around a corner and into a dark area behind a building. We were trying to figure out what to do next, fearing these people would be trying to find us.

Something that has happened to me many times in real life, is that I’m having a bad dream and in the dream I’m trying to yell or scream but can’t so it’ just comes out as a kind of weak moan, and then it turns out the reason is that the exact same thing is happening in real life. I”m trying to yell in my sleep but am just sort of making weak noises. As has happened in the past, she’s next to me in bed and gently nudges me, saying it’s just a bad dream and snuggles up close to me. I’m comforted. Our bodies are close with our arms tight around each other.

Then in that moment, I start to realize that this too is a dream. I start to cry as I’m ripped from the dream world into the actual real world where my face is wet with tears. I try to pull myself together, grab my phone to distract myself for a moment and put on an audiobook as I try to forget my heart re-breaking, come back to the present, disengage from these emotions and just breathe. It was just a dream. But then it was just a dream.

Dream 41

Dream within a dream
One bad, one seemingly good
Except it’s not real