The Cheese Shoppe
Because life likes to taunt us, I received a call to be a PA on a VH1 show filming for 5 days here. Well, not only would I have to quit my job to do it, but I have a band gig one of those days, so I couldn’t do it no matter what.
Don’t you hate when Opportunity knocks and you have to tell it “Sod off you bloomin’ Opportunity! I’m not home!” and then Opportunity goes next door, and you hear it having tons of fun with your neighbors as they drink and yell, and scream bad songs together (although they erroneously sing “fire all of your guns at horses” during “Born to be Wild”), and then Opportunity is like “Yo dudes! We’re out of queso! Let’s hit the store!” and they all pile into someone’s car with the stereo cranked through the crappy car speakers, and screech off down the road to get more queso, and other party supplies, and you go to sleep grumbling under your covers until you are awakened by Opportunity and your drunk neighbors bellowing more hits from the 80’s as they come back from the store and order a pizza just as the pizza place is about to close (but it’s O.K., they tip the driver very nicely) and you eventually manage to tune out the euphoria and get a few winks because you have to work your crappy job the next morning and as you leave for work you see through the bay window that Opportunity and everyone are crashed out on the couches and floors amidst pizza boxes, queso stained upholstery, Queen albums, and swim suits (from the sojourns in the jacuzzi), but it’s all O.K. because you have your red stapler.
Not the good kind. Not as in “We want the funk. Gotta have the funk.” Funk as in, I’m in one. I can’t shake it. Yes this is yet another entry of Heath whines about his dissatisfaction with life in general, so feel free to move on to more enlightening reading.
The usual stuff. Job is miserable. Which generally makes it hard to really enjoy anything even when you’re not at work. I’ve come to the realization that even if I get a better job, I’m just trading one prison for a more comfy and acceptable prison where you can at least enjoy your life outside of prison. However, it would still pretty much prevent me from really pursuing the things I want to be doing. It would still be a step up though.
I kinda feel like maybe my moment has passed. I’m too entrenched in the machine of life to break out and do what I want to do. Time to wrap up the dreams in a shoebox and put them in the closet with old photos and such. Perhaps I’ve dabbled in too many things and mastered none. I just don’t feel like there’s any chance of doing any of the 100 things I want to do barring some random chance at life’s lottery.
As much as I love Austin, I still think that if I really wanted any chance of acting, voice acting, or film crew careers I would have to go to L.A. Take, for example, this excerpt from voice acting 101:
Equally important is that you really should live where the jobs are; in North America, this means Los Angeles, where most of the cartoon voice work is cast and recorded. Some actors such as David Kaye and Stephanie Morganstern are based in Canada, but they are exceptions. No one will hire you if you live in New Jersey or Texas, no matter how talented you are. When a casting call comes, you need to be there, sometimes within the hour.
I feel like I need to get to a destination that’s 5000 miles away with no vehicle, no maps, and no clue.
Ahh, enough whining for now. Trying to corral my personal mental Charybdis and put it into words just ends up as a rambly mess. I just feel bad that my frustration, and moreso my current job prevents me from really enjoying anything anymore. I have a great wife, and want to be able to not be a big bummer around her. I hate that she has to suffer due to my frustration.
Two weeks of great fun and vacation really makes you realize how much you hate your job when you come back.
Argh dammit and all that. Yesterday I get a call from an infomercial company here in Austin (actually an L.A. company who have opened an Austin branch) wanting to know if I’d be interested in being an office production assistant for the next week for $100 a day. Of course I want to, since it’s actually something I want to do, and it’s decent money. However, there’s no way I could do it without quitting my current full time job. I felt like I was being tested, as if this was the moment where I symbolically choose to either follow my dreams or live a life of wage slavery. On the drive home I kept thinking “if only I had some kind of sign, or a potential interview at NCSoft (the gaming company I want to work for here), or any other potential job then maybe it wouldn’t be so crazy to just quit my job for this opportunity”.
I got home to find an email from NCSoft telling me that there were still some Level 1 Technical Support positions available and who to contact if I was interested. Exactly the sign I had asked for. I emailed my information to the contact, and then he emailed back asking for my resume, which
I then sent him. I called the infomercial company to get the details, and I explained to them my situation. I asked how quickly they needed an answer, and she said that I could get back to her the next day. She seemed impressed by my eagerness and told me that she had some calls out to some other people, but that she would wait until she heard back from me.
She also told me to send my resume on over either way, as they would probably have some on-set gigs coming up in the future and such.
So now it’s the next day, and I’m fairly sure I’m going to have to say no, and it just kills me. There’s no way work would let me take a week off (I’m currently still a temp technically, and they’re already short handed next week due to several people going on vacation), thus the reason I would have to quit to take this one week Production Assistant job. There are two equal parts inside me fighting for dominance. One is the part that says how stupid it would be to ditch a full time decent paying job (even if it is nothing more than a paycheck and gives you no job satisfaction) for a one week job that “may” open some doors and lead to new opportunities on one of my chosen paths. The other part thinks that these are the kinds of risks you have to be willing to take if you really want to make it, and that if I don’t then I’m just being a big coward and taking the easy, safe path which is steady but unfulfilling.
Well at least the NCSoft job may come through. There is some solace in that. Life is hard.
So I’ve been going through another phase of intense life restlessness and all that. I’ve whined about it before so I’ll save it for now. Firstly, as some of you may know, I had interviewed twice at a video game company for a great job being in-game support. The interview went really well, I thought. Last week it was announced that the Austin office will be closing. This is a double whammy in that a) there goes my freakin job opportunity, and b) the market will now be flooded with video game industry people looking for jobs, thus greatly decreasing my chances of getting on with the other company I really wanted to work for.
I really want to start pursuing voice acting some more, so I tweaked my character voice demo. Feel free to listen and critique it here.
I may send out a bunch of my radio voice demos too, and see if I can’t get on with a radio station again (I was a DJ for a couple of years). I have no job satisfaction right now, and worse, it has completely sapped all my time and energy to do things I want to do (of which there are too many; acting, music, writing, directing, etc). Life makes me want to scream ARGH! or some other such exclamation. Feel free to suggest your favorite.
In other news, we have no social life. We’re like prisoners of our apartment. No one ever calls us to do anything, and about the only social interaction we get is the rare occasions when we manage to get a hold of my cousin and book some time before someone else does, or when my friend Andy actually stays in town for the weekend (which is pretty much never), and we can’t seem to crack the barrier to being included in anyone else’s activities. Thank goodness I have my wife to keep me from going totally insane.
Now scroll back up and go critique my character voice demo.
So tired. I’m not used to this working crap. So I spent the week training for my new job doing phone support for lottery ticket machines. All in all it doesn’t seem like too bad of a job, but I’m not jumping for joy either, except for the fact that we once again have money. I’m just so frustrated at the whole job thing. It sucks so bad that so many of us have to do something we’d really rather not do, only because we have to survive. More than anything I just want a job even somewhat related to something I love. I can’t think of any job in the entertainment industry that I don’t think I would love. It’s amazing how you can do the exact same job in two different industries, and you may hate it in one instance, but love it in the other merely because it’s related to something you feel passionate about. I feel like I have so many varied talents that could be put to use, but all the things I do aren’t things you can just apply for. I have friends who are movie and sitcom writers, Creative Executives, game level designers, TV/Film crew positions, and so many others. I would kill to be able to pay the bills doing something vaguely creative, or interesting, or just in the general field. So once again, I find myself gainfully employed, yet tired all the time with seemingly no time for anything else but a job that I do only because I have bills to pay. I try to remain an optimistic and happy cheery person, but as of late I find it so hard. I feel so much urgency in getting to where I want to go. I feel like I’ve wasted too much time already and now I’m trapped. Sometimes I feel a bit cheated by life and wonder why fortune has not smiled upon me as it may have on others who may not even really appreciate it or feel the passion for what they’ve been given. Sometimes I feel I deserve more. I always realize afterwords how silly and selfish that sounds, but never the less, I feel like this undiscovered treasure packed so densely with potential that may never be discovered. I just wish that everyone, not just me, could make a living doing something remotely related to their inner passions or interests. Grrrr! Frustration!
I would happily move just about anywhere if an opportunity presented itself. I think I may resume what I call my “Lottery Ticket” technique. This is where I write letters to celebrities I admire hoping that my words will be infused with enough magic to perhaps sway them into taking a chance on me and giving me a job of some sort. Production Assistant, Personal Assistant, Secretary, Creative Consultant, whatever. I’m not picky. Anything. I know Mike Judge is a local here in Austin. I love his work. If anyone has his address, let me know. Robert Rodriguez is a local too, as well as Sandra Bullock sometimes. If you see them, give them my information. I think I’m going slightly mad. er…madder. Well, mad in the not cool and fun way. Damn you life! Where are my just rewards! Cough ’em up!
So in a turn for the worse, I took Jess to work tonight, only to find that when I got back in the truck to go home, it wouldn’t start. I turns over, and occasionally will sputter for 5-10 seconds and then die. Seems to be fuel related, like the fuel pump or fuel filter or something. So Now I’ll have to call the Mobile Mechanic to go to my truck and check it out, which we can’t even come close to affording at the moment since I’m currently wondering how we’re going to pay rent. Must…find…job…NOW!
Le sigh. Does anyone besides my wife and mother even read this any more?
So I’ve found myself to be very distracted and on some underlying level frustrated lately. I would say “unhappy” but I don’t feel comfortable with that word as it seems to convey to grave a nature to my state of being. I’m not depressed or anything like that, but there is a bit of grumpiness at life in general. I just can’t seem to shake it. I was thinking about it today trying to figure out how I could remedy this situation, and was quite displeased to realize that I can’t. The frustration will only be alleviated by actually having some degree of success in my chosen vocational areas. Now some would say that I do have some degree of success, and this is true, but my stress and frustration will only be alleviated when I am making something resembling a living doing the things I love. This worries me because it is not directly under my control, and everything I’m trying to do is just this side of fool’s folly. I mentioned today that to stay sane as an actor (and it applies to music, and crew work too) you almost have to be daftly, and blindly egocentric to a point. You have to believe that there is something so special about you that you will succeed where scores of others fail. This is a hard facade to keep up, but it is absolutely vital. I believe that if you think “Ahhh, I’m not any better than the teeming masses of other people trying for the same dream” then you’ve already failed from the start. It’s like actually convincing yourself each week that you’re going to win the lottery.
The problem with having gigantic, vivid, and vibrant dreams is that it can make reality very painful. I’ve found that making a career out of film crew work is only the tiniest bit more likely than making a living as an actor. Here’s hoping I can sell my screenplay for loads of money and make a deal to direct and star in it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been closer to being really happy and on my path, but I’ve also never been more frustrated and felt so close and yet so far. Part of me has wondered if Austin is really any better a place than anywhere else, or if you really have to be in L.A. to even stand a chance of any kind of entertainment career, be it in front of or behind the camera.
The other day I was an extra on “The Ringer”. There I was, sitting on the set all day long next to Johnny Knoxville, Bobby Farrelly, and Luis Avalos, who among many movie roles was also “Luis” in the long running children’s show, “The Electric Company”. I sat there, ecstatic to be on set (and one of only three extras), and yet feeling a bit down at watching this world I want so desperately to be a part of in much more involved capacity. I feel so many walls keeping me from where I want to go, and I don’t know how to bypass them. They never even ended up using us extras either, but at least I got paid to hang out on the set all day. We even had a trailer. Argh! I want it all, and I want it now!
The title just seemed appropriate to my current life mood. I’ve mentioned this feeling before, but it’s never been stronger than now. The feeling that I know my destination in life, but yet I seem to find my way there. I took the wrong exit, and there is no maps.yahoo.com equivalent.
I’m not even talking about my ultimate goals of fame and stardom as an actor and musician, I’m just talking about my more feasible goals, although admittedly even my “feasible” goals are still pretty outlandish. I can’t even begin to remotely express my thoughts so I’ll ramble as best I can. For example:
Working as a Production Assistant on Film/TV projects. There is a decent amount of work in Texas in this field (although less since so many productions are going to Canada now), and yet it seems as out of reach as anything. One thing I’ve learned more and more in every aspect of life, is that it’s much more who you know, and not what you know. I submit my (albeit tiny) resume for every project that comes up, and I get nothing. I’ve even called camera rental businesses, props places, and any other production related businesses here just to try and find a job that’s at least involved in the industry, but none are hiring of course, and many are actually just basically kind of one or two person operations. There’s even an actual studio complex in Austin. Hard to break into the biz as it were. You basically start out doing anything and everything you can, a lot of it for free just to get experience and contacts. My uncle is a professional Director Of Photography and has been for over 20 years, and even he has found work to be lean lately, but I admire him so much because he is doing it for a good living. He has worked and raised a family strictly doing freelance cameraman/DP work. However, as previously mentioned, he paid his dues early on. He didn’t’ just jump into immediately working full time in the film industry. Now he has lots of contacts from all his years of work, and that gets him more work. The few production assistant jobs I have done have been as a result of his recommendation. Of course if I get a “real” job, that pretty much makes pursuing these types of things impossible.
There’s also a decent gaming industry in Austin. As far as “real” jobs go, I could dig working in the gaming industry. Of course, this also follows a similar pattern to the one above. Knowing the right people. I’ve actually seen 2 jobs which I’ve applied for. One as “Assistant Community Manager” for Star Wars Galaxies, and one for an “in-game support” position with another game. Chances of getting either are only slightly more than my chances of winning the lottery, and these are entry level positions.
Almost all accounts I’ve read about people getting jobs in the industry were things like “back when I was flipping burgers I played D&D with this guy who wrote a Zork parody, and this guy who worked for a game company hired him. Later after working for several game companies in progressively better jobs, they needed someone and he called me”.
Then there’s the music thing. Now being a musician in Austin is basically like being an actor in L.A. It’s a great place for music, but it’s also super saturated with musicians. Again, it’s a long term hang around the scene, get to know people, make contacts, and get your name out. Not something you’re going to accomplish overnight.
Now while I may sound all frustrated doom and gloom, there is an upside too. Since I’ve been here I’ve been on several auditions, sent out tons of acting and film crew resumes, and I’m going back in the studio tomorrow for another session of work on our new CD. Basically the only real chance I have is if Jess can get a good job, and thus allow me to be a slacker (financially) until I can get established. I really don’t think anything I want to do is possible when working a full time office job that’s in no way related to what you want to be doing. Especially for the acting/crew work, since you need to be available for the jobs, and if it’s a paying job it’s most likely not just an “after business hours” job. If it weren’t for the need for money, I wouldn’t even really mind my state of affairs. I don’t mind the auditions, and the working your way to where you want to be. It’s all the need for money to pay bills that creates the tension. Oh, how I do NOT look forward to getting another “job” I don’t really care about except for the paycheck.
My mind is quite a jumble and expressing this all coherently is becoming more and more difficult as I try to put it into words. Basically, life is good, Austin is good, and the world is my burrito, but it’s just a frustrating time. It’s like I can see exactly where I should be. In fact I can see several options of where I should be, but I’m trapped in one of those crazy entrapment mirrors, like General Zod in Superman. I can see everyone else there, and there’s a me-shaped space of emptiness. I’m a nuclear bomb of potential, undiscovered in a sealed box buried next to Jimmy Hoffa, underneath the secret bungalow where Elvis lives with Amelia Earheart.
Grr. Argh. Jane, get me off this crazy thing.
Hmm, someday, maybe I’ll finish my damn screenplay. It’s really going to be good, if it’s not killed by laziness. Right, well it’s always good to end on a random trail off long after you’ve lost all momentum and readers…
Have you ever felt like maybe your life is out there, but you’re just not living it? This is my best attempt and a describing how I sometimes feel. I’ll try and explain, but it’s one of those things that’s at least semi-intangible so it’s difficult.
Todays particular episode came from scouring the Styx website, and the website of Styx drummer, Todd Sucherman. As I looked at all the pictures from the road, videos, notes from the band, and such, I just felt this longing. Like I was seeing something that I was supposed to be a part of, but wasn’t. It was as if I was seeing the life I should be living or something similar to it. It was sort of like looking out from a prison cell and seeing people having fun and laughing, and knowing you should be out there with your friends doing the same. A bit of a strong and melodramatic example, but it seemed to fit. I even toyed with the idea of becoming a roadie, but realistically knew that like any other industry, you have to work your way up and pay your dues before you get big gigs like that. Besides, I also knew I’d be compromising myself, since that’s not really what I want to be doing with my life.
This same thing happened recently when scouring the “Weird Al” site. In fact, I wrote Al a letter praising his new album and offering myself as a backup guitar player, personal assistant or anything else he might need. I figured, hey, what the hell. It couldn’t hurt. It probably has about the same chance of getting results as a lottery ticket, and I buy those.
This feeling often haunts me. When I watch the Oscars, I feel so strongly that should be there. There are just so many times when I know the life I should be living but aren’t, and I wonder if I ever will. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I have lived that life in the past perhaps, if you believe in that sort of thing. Maybe that’s why it feels so right and so familiar, and yet so impossible and far away.
Sometimes I just want to give up on it all, settle into a “real” job and just drown myself in escapism by watching lots of movies and playing lots of video games. It would sort of be a self-inflicted lobotomy, Stepford Wives kind of thing. Just be a happy, ignorant denizen of The Matrix and forget about it all. I can’t do that, of course, but it’s damn appealing sometimes. I think it’s just all compounded by the stress of the impending move, and good old money woes.
Again, my biggest problem is that I’m a dreamer. A lazy one. And despite this entry’s tone, a pretty stubborn optimist most of the time. Well at least I still have about 46 years to accomplish something, according to The Spark’s Death Test.
So after the great weekend, I find out today that UPS left $300 worth of new video cards for our computers laying on our doorstep last night at about 9 pm. This package then apparently disappeared between that time and 11:45 pm when we got home. My neighbors said they saw the package, and then saw that it was gone later. Then in the midst of my frustration over this issue, I notice that apparently at some point during the weekend, my cousin’s cat decided to use the back of my leather jacket as a scratching post. There’s now several small little chunks out of the surface leather. I just want to go to bed now.