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January 25, 2001

Earning a Living

Okay, I love house-sitting. It's one of the dozen or so jobs I work so that I can pursue my acting career. So, when I complain about things that go on while I house-sit, I do so with the understanding that I'm really hypocritical, since I wouldn't give up the gigs for anything.

However, at this moment, I have a pug on my shoulders. Yes, a pug. Moses, the coolest, smartest, ugliest, snortiest pug on the planet, is hiding from Ruby, the prettiest, dumbest, most-in-need-of-Ritalin Sheppard/Lab mix puppy on that same planet. These two, supposedly, peacefully co-exist, but while I'm here, I'm not seeing any of that.

Of course, I don't understand dogs to begin with, so maybe it's a sweet, friendly thing when one clenches its mighty jaw around the snout of the other. I just know that that's the sort of behavior that gets me escorted out of trendy LA clubs. Maybe I go to the wrong clubs.

Anyway, while house-sitting, I usually get depressed over the fact that I surrender my free time during the most popular travel days of the year to pick up poop or scoop litter and live in a palace I could never afford. This time, I'm not depressed, despite the fact that I've been hearing constant messages on the machine, congratulating said palace-owner on her recent Golden Globe nomination. I'm not jealous. No, not at all! Even though I was sure that my birthday would be listed on Entertainment Tonight by the year 1990, I still believe that it shall be in 2001. That doesn't make me unreasonable, it means I have goals, dammit.

One of my goals, when I house-sit, is to take bubble baths. I have only a stand-up shower in my crash pad of an apartment, so this is a biggie. Other goals include watching cable TV (since I don't have cable) and using the kitchen (since I don't have one of those either). Even though I don't know how to cook, it's important to me to do more than microwave a frozen dinner, since I can do that much in my crash pad. Here, I can heat up Spaghetti-Os with Meatballs on the stove (which I did yesterday, for breakfast -- yummy).

Last night, after tiring out the puppy and convincing the pug not to carry away my socks, I began filling the bathtub with the usual water and some delicious smelling imported bubble stuff. I lit candles, put on some music, and eased into the tub. I thought the water could stand to be hotter, so I let some of it out, and began to add some more, full-blast on hot. I began to relax and breathe in the aroma of mango or whatever when I realized the water entering the bath was ice cold.

"Hmm," I wondered aloud, as I changed the temperature to the extreme other direction, figuring I'd somehow become inept at reading "H" and "C" and knowing what those letters mean. Nope, the water was still cold. "Well, this sucks," I told Moses, who was eying the bubbles, playfully. Figuring that the water heater just needed to replenish itself, I began washing my hair. Yeah, that was smart. I had to rinse this stuff out eventually, and, you guessed it, the water never heated up.

What a disaster! I'm now taking a tepid bath, rinsing my hair with icy water, not giving a shit about the mango stuff and all of this in front of a snorting pug. I'm outraged! Is this what I'm getting paid for?

Oh, wait... no, it's not. Duh! Back to cable TV.

Posted by bonnie at 2:11 PM

January 22, 2001

Temping in LA

Originally found at Wolfesden.net In Response To: Who else here has a day job? Do you still act? (Cami)


What follows is part of an email I sent to someone who contaced me for advice on the subject of freelancing and temping (back in July, 2000). Hope any of it is of use to you. Good luck!


When I first got here, I was the office manager for a small temp agency in Hollywood that sends folks out exclusively within the industry. What I learned while there was that the temp agencies are getting a TON more for you than you get. You would be much better off, hourly, by getting your own gigs. Of course, that requires that you be entreprenurial.

The down side to working in "big" industry jobs is that you don't want to get known as the receptionist - you want to get known as the wacky neighbor (or whatever part you'd play). I've found it's better to work in "fringe" industry settings - like the trade papers, the magazines, the production houses - that support the industry, rather than the studios and networks. That way, you can still get time off for auditions, remain in an entertainment setting, but not get pigeon-holed as a temp (or, if you do, it doesn't really matter as much).

Freelancing requires a good bit of organizational skill and a great memory for names, faces, etc. You don't ever want to "drop" a contact. You have no idea how valuable it can be, down the line.

Of course, I don't know you, so I can't give you specific advice, but I can tell you what worked for me. I know a lot about computers, so I started doing freelance work, teaching old ladies how to send email to their grandkids, installing software for the technophobic, building the occasional webpage. People will pass your name around until you're having to turn people away! That's a great feeling! But, it takes a while. I had to get VERY poor between temping and freelancing. But I wouldn't trade it!

One of my clients is a college textbook publishing company. A very mom-and-pop place, extremely casual, and the most flexible company I have ever encountered. They hire everyone at $8/hr. to start (which sucks), but raises come very, very fast, once they find out they can count on you. Jobs range from packing books into boxes to copy-editing from home. Some folks that work there come by once a month to get assignments and do everything by email and phone, billing whenever they need a check. There are clerical jobs, data entry, phone work, billing... on and on. They are always looking for people, as the company is really growing. Many actors work there. We run lines together in the break room!

A local actor's trade paper started calling me in to do as-needed data entry work when people went on vacation back in November 1999 (I'd sent in my resumé for a one-day-per-week typesetting job in September), then they asked me to transcribe some interview tapes, and now I have my own column. The beauty of freelance is, no matter what, you pick and choose your work. I was happy to just be in that environment - and now, just by being reliable and flexible, I'm getting to interview people I would PAY to see, and instead I get paid to do it!

I also tutor kids, house sit, babysit, petsit, design webpages, create educational software, etc. I used to be a paid studio audience member, a substitute teacher, and also taught traffic school for the Improv Comedy Club, but quit b/c it became the lowest-paying / most time-consuming job I had, and I had enough to choose from to get really picky. Again, that's really nice!

A book I can recommend (one that I bought just two weeks before leaving the temp agency) is "Survival Jobs". They sell it at Samuel French and on Amazon.com, probably everywhere else too. It's filled with ideas for ways to make money while leaving you with time, energy, and passion to follow your dreams. I think it lists 154 jobs (and I've worked about half of them). ; )

If you're sticking with temping, register with multiple companies. Be available. On the days you don't temp, ask the agency if you can come in and improve your skills on their computers. They will notice the effort and reward you with the best jobs. Also, you'll get better paying jobs when your skills improve.

Job Factory is a service you pay for, but it pays for itself with the first job you get, which is guaranteed. If you take in The Working Actor's Guide and a headshot, you get like 20% off (making it $45, I think). Tell them I sent you, if you go. They love me. I haven't been a member since December 1999, but I worked SO much while with them, they still know my name.

I don't know that the money is much better than with temping, but there's certainly more listings there than with most temp agencies on any given day, mainly b/c the companies DON'T have to pay for the service, like they do when they hire you through Apple One. Most companies pay cash on the day you work. That's a biggie! Most of it is "one day" work, meaning you won't have to deal with taxes or anything. They have long-term stuff, too, but it's all very non-traditional. The guy who started the company was an actor, frustrated with the temp scene in LA. So, they're very understanding. Again, though, it working relies on your ability to be proactive.

One lady I worked with (for $12/hr., teaching her how to use her computer -- I charge $50/hr. now) in September 1999 headed her own casting service and gave me tons of free "insider" info after we'd worked together a few times. Now, she's a casting director on a film and asked me if I could come over again. I had to say no, but we'd made such a good connection last year, she asked if I'd read for a part in the film. You can't really put a price on that kind of thing!

Okay, I've gone on and on and on and on! Tomorrow's my birthday and I think I'm trying to be all wise and grown up or something! It'll pass, I'm sure!

Take care, good luck, and let me know if you'd like me to walk your resumé in to any of the companies where I work!


If you get to the point where you want an "in" for any of these joints, just let me know.

One benefit to working freelance with a dozen or so companies is that, at any given time, you can hook friends up with jobs of some sort.

Good luck to you, and just stay focused. You have a passion to follow. The day job thing is just a way to make sure you can live that dream.

Posted by bonnie at 7:21 PM

January 11, 2001

Delta's Dirty Secrets

Now, I know better than to put this "out there." It means my pass-riding days are over. And trust me, I do fear the Delta Gods. But there is something that only members of the Delta Royal Family share and it's time the rest of you knew.

I have a kinship with fellow Delta Brats that I didn't discover until college. See, we've been socialized to keep this lifestyle to ourselves. Now I know why.

I realize that people will not feel sorry for me when they know that my complaints relate directly to my lifetime of free flights, often in First Class. Okay, I'll admit it; it sounds petty to gripe about the rules when you're getting something for free. Still, it's time the truth is told about my childhood and Delta Airlines.

One important note, in case you Delta Spies are reading this and want to tell me that things have changed: I know things have changed. I still ride on pass, albeit a three-cents-a-mile version of the pass, and I know that now things aren't as strict, but the past did still happen the way I remember it, and it must be exposed!

When I was a child, even a teenager, taking a Delta flight meant putting on my Sunday Best. A nice dress, uncomfortable shoes, and always, always pantyhose. The idea behind the dress code is simple: We want those who fly Delta to appear as classy as the airline itself. If we can control the appearance of a percentage of the passengers, the other passengers may begin to show up in clothing other than ripped up jeans and flip-flops. Yeah, that's logical.

Well, when you're riding on a pass card, you know you might not get on the plane at all. You fly "space-available" and that means you only get on the plane if there's a seat not occupied by a paying customer. This is why I often end up in First Class - those are the seats that don't sell out, generally. Okay, but since I'm basically in competition with my fellow pass-riders for those coveted empty seats, I like to size up my competition. Here's how: one of my favorite games to play at the gate is Pick the Pass Riders. It's an easy game. You just look around the gate and sift through the sweat-pants-wearing, backpack-carrying, Walkman-listening passengers to find the suits, the ties, the dresses, the pantyhose, and you've found your comrades.

Not that you could ever talk to them. My dad made it perfectly clear that we were never to speak about our "free ride" to anyone. And as I meet fellow Delta Brats as adults, I find we share stories of our terror that anyone would find out we were flying for free, our experiences with getting "bumped" in strange cities, being told there were no meals left for us to eat on long flights, and how we were all taught that you never, never ring the Flight Attendant bell. NO MATTER WHAT.

Of course, I've now begun talking with my fellow pass-riders to compare stories of woe. Again, I know no one will feel sorry for me here, since these stories of woe come as a result of flying for free everywhere. Okay, okay, get past that and just imagine this experience.

I was in college, feeling bold, and visiting a friend for the weekend. I checked in at the ticket window wearing a sweater, skirt, leggings, and boots (hey, it was 1989 - this was accepted fashion). A Delta agent approached me, walkie-talkie in hand, and escorted me to a tiny room off the main terminal. "I know you must have pantyhose in your bag," he said, and closed me in the room while he waited outside for me to change. I'm not sure what was wrong with leggings. I mean, my ankles were not exposed in any way. But, I dutifully changed into the black pantyhose I'd tucked into my carry-on bag and emerged from this secret room for a final inspection from the plain-clothed Delta agent.

"Okay," he said. "That's better." And with that, he disappeared. I'm not sure if he lurked behind a nearby plant to know that I was a pass rider or if the ticket agent pressed some secret Dress Code Button, but I was humiliated, just the same. I understand that we're looking for a "classy" thing with this dress code, but COME ON!

Maybe Delta and L'eggs had some sort of corporate deal that no one knows about. Whatever. Point is, I'm almost positive that the relaxed dress code is not a result of years of research showing that extreme over-dressed-ness does NOT contribute to the improved look of those paying full fare but instead is a direct result of the end of the corporate deal Delta made with L'eggs in 1950. Look it up! I bet I'm right. Okay, maybe not, but still, think about it the next time you check in at the ticket counter and see some guy with a walkie-talkie, checking out your wardrobe.

Posted by bonnie at 2:12 PM

January 3, 2001

A Tribute To My Mother

Charlsie Simonds Weaver
11 May 1933 - 28 December 2000

I want to thank each and every one of you for your prayers and support during my mother's battle with pancreatic cancer. She is missed as much as she was loved, and that's enormously.

We are all born with a quest for knowledge. We hunger for an understanding of the world around us. Charlsie's was a passion for learning. Learning anything and everything.

To be in Charlsie's life was to learn from her. Her every interaction left you changed forever. She was fascinated by what new things you'd been learning and how she could learn more about you by listening to your stories.

Charlsie leaned in when she listened. She squinted to read every word. She took notes in the margins of her books and asked questions to be sure she understood.

Many in her life consider her a teacher. She took thousands of us on journeys through a Course in Miracles, Sunday School, Reiki Healing Courses, Cub Scouts leadership, and the countless hours spent one-on-one, shining a light on the path we walk. Charlsie could make the nonsense of our lives seem logical. Her thoughtful explanations gave us hope that our journeys were in fact fated, and we were learning exactly the lessons God had sent for us.

Somehow, Charlsie taught us to see ourselves more deeply, with the richness of texture she saw in us, all with a simple analogy she shared so generously.

Charlsie passed her love of learning on to her children. Each of us believe that we can do anything, simply because she never let us doubt that fact. She climbed into bed with her children and read to us with the enthusiasm and passion that she felt, as she took the character's adventure right along with him. In a way, she received her formal education with us, as we shared our class notes with her, explaining concepts and theories she delighted in consuming.

When Art attended continuing education courses, he would be greeted at home by a woman ready for her lesson. He would experience class all over again, as he shared his class notes with Charlsie. The two of them attended spiritual workshops with The Sparkies group here in the mountains, thrilled to have connected with fellow seekers in their new community.

From her childhood habit of counting columns and columns of numbers to learn about addition to her most recent class in knitting, Charlsie found her thirst for knowledge quenched, but never satisfied. There was always another new thing to learn.

--from the Eulogy, by Bonnie Gillespie

Posted by bonnie at 7:33 AM