Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Uncommon Cold

Pretty much everyone gets colds now and again. Our lives are less pleasant as we snorfle and sneeze. But usually they move on in a few days and so do we.

Cutting a wide swath now seems to be an Uncommon Cold. It lingers much longer and makes many of us feel sicker. I think I know where I got mine, despite liberal application of Lysol wipes on items used by the UC harborer and keeping as much distance as possible in close quarters.

I suffered from unrelievable congestion and also laryngitis, the bane of an actor’s existence. Many victims also have coughs and/or sore throats.

I tried: chicken soup, Vitamin C, tea/honey, assorted over the counter cold meds, Zicam, the neti pot (ew), resting, even wearing a scarf. All to no avail. Many friends/family offered to bring me supplies, but we couldn’t think of additional remedies. The cold would make its way through my system as it pleased.

Because I had several upcoming on camera and VO auditions, a VO narration job for a major retailer and so I wouldn’t pass this on, I stayed home, canceled many social events and missed a day of my internship at a casting agency. To save my voice, I communicated via text/email and barely talked on the phone.

I finally felt a bit better six days after the UC hit.  I went to my internship and fortunately was given a computer assignment so I didn’t have to talk much. At an on camera audition, I thought I sounded scratchy and stuffed up, but the agent thought I sounded ok. I went to chorus rehearsal and followed along instead of singing so I could hear the director’s notes and become more familiar with the complicated piece we’re working on while saving my voice.

Sick people in small spaces usually lead to more sick people, whether it’s co-workers, family members, or friends. So if you’re sick, please stay away as much as you can so you can rest and not infect other people. However, they say you can be contagious a couple of days before symptoms appear…

For info on contagion and remedies:

Mayo Clinic

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Do you often make a decision, then question whether you made a good one? Do you dwell on regret, talk yourself into believing you made the right choice, or see if you can retrace your steps, undo them and decide differently?  Or do you waffle and see-saw for weeks before taking any action?

Though I'm thinking about major life choices like changing jobs, moving, or whether or not to stay in or start any kind of relationship from business to personal, I'll use the example of buying a new pair of glasses.

I didn't make a snap decision, but did my research. I visited a handful of shops among the myriads. Then I brought a friend to two places to help me choose. I must've tried on over a hundred pairs, from over the top funky to boring, in all price ranges.

I finally settled on a frame with my friend's and the opticianista's (that's what it says on her card) assistance and encouragement. Given my prescription, the thin lenses with no-scratch, UV coating, etc., cost quite a bit. In the moment, I thought I'd found what I was looking for. Mission accomplished!  And another item checked off my to do list.

But when I went to pick them up a week or so later, I wasn't quite as pleased. I wanted my new glasses to give the message: this person is creative, fun and interesting. The message I saw instead: weird and quirky, but not in a good way. I didn't think they were all that flattering, either...the tortoiseshell was darker than I remembered and makes me look a little Harry Potter-ish. But I hadn't gone to Lenscrafters, which offers a 90-day unconditional satisfaction guarantee (I bought my last pair there, though overall I found their frames a bit too traditional for my taste). I'm still investigating my limited options.

I'm going to focus on decisions I've made I know were and are good, not suffer too many regrets, and see if I can learn anything from this experience.

How do you resolve decisions you're not happy that you made?

More info:

5 Tips to Feel at Ease with Decisions

5 Ways to Stop Second-Guessing

How to Stop Second-Guessing Decisions

Break the Curse of Second-Guessing

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sketchfest, anyone?

Chicago is home to many things…from deep dish pizza to amazing restaurants, museums, architecture and theatre. You may not know that Chicago is also home to Sketchfest, the largest sketch comedy festival in the country. Over 8 days, more than 120 groups perform. Often there are three simultaneous shows. It's popular with attendees and the media.

For several years, I’ve contributed behind the scenes, doing the program (including graphics, fake ads and appropriate Bible quotes) for one group: Best Church of God. This year, I’m also performing…with Funny Bones.

FB is an improv troupe that performs at hospitals for sick children, their caregivers and staff. (It's heartbreaking to see kids with IVs in their arms or those who are attached to machines, yet rewarding and fun to bring smiles to their faces with our antics or as they participate in our games.) For Sketchfest, we put together a written show featuring some of our improvisers and those from FB New Orleans.

What it takes to put on one 35 minute performance…
--Sketches had to be written and agreed upon. There was at least one writers’ meeting plus however long it took to complete the sketches.
--Several two hour rehearsals, one four hour rehearsal, and a tech rehearsal on the stage the day of the show.
--We supplied our own props and costumes (from our closets, borrowed from friends/family or purchased on the cheap. Actors never know what they might need to wear in a show, so I’ve kept a lot of odd bits and pieces, just in case. Which came in handy: I needed a ninja costume, and fortunately had a perfect maroon kung fu-ish pajama/lounging set my great aunt had given me more than 10 years ago--who knows how long she had it; another ninja had two cheongsams.)
--FB’s founder interviewed a few of us and some kids answering zany questions and created several short videos to intersperse between our scenes.
--Our fearless leaders spent time making arrangements with Sketchfest and other decisions.
--However long each of us needed to learn our lines.

We don't get paid, but there's one great perk: a pass allowing us to see any other show that isn't sold out.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Tomorrow is another day....

Some people may be reluctant to return to work after the holidays (perhaps those who received paid vacation days). Not me. While I enjoyed the slowdown, attended a variety of fun social events and actually read several books (which I haven't made time to do in awhile), when my phone isn't ringing or e-mail isn't buzzing with auditions and/or jobs, I confess to getting a bit apprehensive.

As with the cliches of "out of sight out, of mind" or "don't call, us we'll call you," I worry that the supply of opportunities I've been fortunate to receive has for some reason dried up. Could be anything from the state of the economy to no work at this precise moment for my type to being submitted by an agent but the client goes in a different direction....there's no way to know. There's also very little I can do about it, aside from keeping in touch with industry contacts and making new ones. And of course, booking jobs...because work seems to beget work.

Yes, I know that worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of it's troubles, it empties today of strength. Yes, I have other things to do and think about. But the nagging thought "what if I don't get any more work?" still surfaced now and again as I sipped champagne or caught up with friends. It's just harder for some of us to trust the universe to provide or stay convinced that our exisiting product portfolio will keep us in the lineup for future projects.

So it's a relief that already this week I've had a VO audition, have an on camera one tomorrow and another next Tuesday, and have my first narration job to record. The opportunities are still rolling in. Whew.

New Year's resolution: Let it go. Control the things I can and not worry about those I can't. Etc.