The subject is a quote within a quote from the introduction of my former acting coach, Scott Sedita's book "Scott Sedita's Guide to Making It In Hollywood". In the intro, he tells the tale of running into a former student. This student got distracted and off his path only to run into Scott 3 years later. As Scott tells the tale in his book, he says "You wake up one morning, it's three years later and you say to yourself 'What the hell have I been doing with my time?'"
Now, I worshipped this book when it came out in 2008. I was studying at Scott's studio at the time and even went to the book launch/signing party. Little did I know that I would somewhat become that cautionary tale from the introduction. Only in my case, it was almost 5 years and while I've done stuff with my career....just enough to get by in some cases. I could've done more. I did wake up and have that "what the hell have I been doing with my time?" moment though. I hit almost every single distraction and pitfall described in his book I'd just get over 1 distraction and the next one would rear its ugly little head. Some at the same time.
2008 is also when things started to unravel for me....I met a guy who didn't respect me one lick, but I was so sick of being lonely that I didn't respect myself and let him treat me like dirt...time and time again. I stupidly kept going back to him time and time and time again. He was never going to call me his girlfriend, but I stupidly believed if I kept hanging out with him, kept bumping into him at the gym, drinking way too much with him and making a lot of bad decisions regarding him that he would magically change his mind. I ignored friends who kept saying "dude is a player. stop letting him treat you like that". This douche even went so far as to tell me i looked fat and constantly fat shamed my friends if they were more than a size 4. I would skip acting classes or blow off student film auditions to hang with this assclown or get so drunk with him the night before that I was a complete hungover shitshow the next day. Like the time when I was working Vh1's "New York Goes to Hollywood", getting free acting classes in return as payment and got so horrendously drunk the night before that I was throwing up too much to go to one of the classes being filmed for the show. Or the time I was so hungover at my private coaching for a showcase audition that I was taking breaks every 10 minutes to keep myself (again) from throwing up....nice use of that one hour of private coaching with my scene partner and looking back, pretty selfish as well...go figure, he got cast in the showcase and I didn't. Wonder why (well not really). yeah that was mistake number 1...wasting a year on this douchenugget. It took one of my best friend issuing the ultimatum of "him or me" to finally kick this assclown to the curb.
Then there was the whole matter of letting my thrival job start to become a career when really I should've just realized a restaurant job is just that...a restaurant job. A means to an end. They are a dime a freaking dozen and while it might be harder than hell at times to find a decent one, it's possible and you shouldn't put one at the top of your priority list or probably even in the top 5. This is what happened to me at Hard Rock....i let it takeover my life. I was so enthralled with living the "rock star server" life that I put more effort into than having a modeling/acting career. Sure, i got myself to auditions & shoots and scrambled like hell to get shifts covered for those situations, but the second they offered to make me a trainer, I jumped at it and then became obsessed with being a corporate trainer and traveling the world doing cafe openings. Sure, I got to go to Aruba and open a cafe there, but nothing kills momentum faster than bolting out of town for a month. I'd just signed with a manager, just did a really awesome play, but my manager (who is now my current agent) couldn't really cash in on the great review i got because well...there I went....out of the country. I also had the opportunity to go straight to producers/celebrity panel for the modeling reality show "She's Got the Look" but the audition was when i was gone, so missed opportunity there. They didn't extend the invite to me the next season, i had to audition at an open call just like everyone else and didn't even get past the first round of the cattle call. Nice priorities, Amy.
And what was my reward for shuffling off to the Carribean? Fired 6 months later. Then that put me into yet another pitfall...money issues. no more acting classes, thankfully my headshots were kinda new. Every single dime I had was survival mode. Especially since the next job I got was crap on top of crap...sometimes only making $20 on a shift if I was lucky. Add to it, the mounting medical bills because I kept having eye infection after eye infection after eye infection that started in 2008. Little did I know, at the time, that my eyes were rejecting contacts much like a transplant patient can experience rejection. I wasn't having infections at all...just major irritation as if I was rubbing sandpaper over my eyes day after day after day if I wore my contacts. I couldn't wear makeup, going to the gym was a bitch wearing glass & it was making auditioning an unreliable game of hit or miss. The worst was when I went to an audition from my modeling agency for a GAP holiday campaign & lost out on it because of my eyes. Of course, no agent is going to be happy about that and despite me finally getting LASIK (thanks to my parents), my modeling agency dropped me. In a matter of 4 months, I lost my job & my agent and almost went freaking blind (I would've done damage to my eyes had I kept trying to wear contacts). Every day I was wondering...."great, what's next? how much more can I take?" and then my dad got diagnosed with cancer....treatable but uncurable cancer caused by a drug he was taking for another condition. Wipe 2009 off the table.
2010, I just tried to deal with my dad being sick for most of the year. I threw myself into the gym...1 hour workouts became 2-hour plus workouts simply because it was a place to forget all of my pain. Pain because my work sucked, pain from all I lost the year before, pain knowing my father was dying and I was 2500 miles away from spending what precious time I had left with him. And, because I was constantly broke, I pretty much just sat a home all the time on my couch watching a lot of tv and wasting time on twitter & Facebook. I did blow up on Twitter though....got a lot of followers especially during baseball season and within the Cleveland Indians organization. They even invited me to a game for their then-brand new Social Media Deck (now Suite). And again, loneliness was leading me to make really poor decision regarding guys....like flirting with and actually hooking up with a minor-league player in the Indians organization. At least, I didn't answer the booty tweet from the professional football player. It got so bad in August/Sept 2010 (especially after going home to see my father & he wasn't doing well), that I was begging my family to help me move back to Ohio or move to NYC. I had every intention of moving back at the end of October but my father put his foot down and told me that I moved to L.A. to "do something" and that I needed to "do it" and not worry about him.
Then magic happened....I started getting a few more auditions and, most importantly, I met Brendan. I truly believe that he was brought into my life to keep me in L.A. and also help me with life getting even harder for me as my dad got worse and worse. Still, when you're newly in love, it's still a distraction to an acting/modeling career. You want to do all the couply things that you've been dying to do, but couldn't do because you were single. The gym fell by the wayside again & if an audition came my way, sure I was going to it, but my mind was elsewhere. It was "how fast can I get back to Brendan" I even feel bad because I would spend so much time at his place that an aging Niedermayer rarely saw me...usually enough to feed him, pet him a little, grab some fresh clothes and go. Little did I know I had mere months left with him...I still feel guilty about this at times.
2011 was miserable from the very first day....in fact, even before the very first day. I was watching college football bowl games on the couch with Brendan at my apartment when Kelly called me to say that our friend Chris (not to be confused with my ex-bf Chris) had passed away in his sleep. Complete freaking shocker!!! I mean, dude was barely 30, what the hell?!? sure he had some health problems, but he took good care of himself...didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't party. He was one of my first friends in L.A....first, I worked with him at California Pizza Hell and then at Hard Rock. No, this couldn't be happening. On the bright side, Brendan asked me to move in with him when his lease was up in June. So I had that to look forward to so I wasn't completely down. I just get starting dealing with Chris' death though and the next shoe drops.....Niedermayer!
Brendan & I went to baseball spring training for a couple days in March and Niedermayer was fine when I left. When I came back, though, he had stopped eating & just wasn't his normal self. We rushed him to the 24-hr vet & I was already having a bad feeling about things. They thought he had an infected tooth. He had to go to his regular vet who said I had to remove some of his teeth (at the cost of $3000), but when they got a look inside, they found some masses....this is when I knew this wasn't going to be good at all. I knew from the second that the vet called that he had cancer, she didn't even have to tell me. He kept getting worse and worse and I felt horrible because I had put him through all this suffering including removing one of his beautiful fangs that had punctured me so many times in both play & aggression. I tried to take him to pet oncologist to see if there was anything I could do, but she basically told me that the cancer had already spread to his brain, leaving him blind, messing with his equilibrium and leaving him really dehydrated. The only option was to put him to sleep ASAP....not even a chance for my former roommates to say goodbye to him....which broke their hearts. I couldn't even stay in the room with him as they did it...i was a wreck. Brendan stayed with him so he wouldn't die alone and he sent me to the wooded area by the vet's parking lot. I agonized for weeks over decisions i made regarding him....in fact, i didn't even accept his ashes when they arrived. Brendan had them delivered to his apartment. I just couldn't deal with it.
Acting-wise....i tried to keep it together. I tried to stay motivated. it just didn't happen. I started a webseries project with the intention of getting myself and some friends union-eligible. I did the paperwork, had Brendan as my token SAG member to make it a union project. We had scripts, we had rehearsals & we had me half-assing stuff. First, it got sidetracked by Brendan & I moving in together and all the drama that comes with moving. Then, we couldn't film because Brendan & I were jetting off to Ohio for him to meet my father (dad said that if I was living with a guy, he had to meet him and well, he was doing kinda better. The cancer was in a stationary state). In the meantime, I booked my own gig that made me SAG-eligible so we had to do some paperwork scrambling so as to not make me a must-join by doing 2 union projects. Also, I got a new job, so I couldn't ask for any weekend time off for shooting purposes. Finally, i thought we'd finally nail down a shoot date....and then it all went to hell.....my dad took a nosedive health wise. He started chemo again to yet buy some more time away from the Grim Reaper and it was all downhill from there. he started having blood problems and the cancer got more aggressive. He had enough and decided he was just going to let nature run its course and enter Hospice care. I was so mad at him at first.....he wouldn't let me quit and come home, so how dare he quit on life, our family, me. Thus began the month or so 2-week cycle of me flying out on a thursday morning staying until Wed, flying back for a class I was taking on Wed nights, staying in l.a. for week working, class the next wednesday, fly back to ohio on Thursday. My father and I had a heart-to-heart and after I had a panic attack during one of his bad spells where we had to call the Hospice nurse in the middle of the night, he decided that he didn't want me there when the end came. I was his baby and he didn't want to put me through seeing his final breaths. I understand why he made the request. He also made me promise I wouldn't cry, so that I would stay strong for my mom. Finally, he made me promise that I wouldn't start anything with his estranged granddaughter (aka my non-existent niece). As much as I want to give her a damn piece of my mind for only visiting my father ONCE while he was sick and then it was only because she was FORCED, I obliged (looking back, I shouldn't have and I will not make that promise ever again, but the reasons for that are for another day). Shoot date postponed indefinitely....and after a lengthy fight with Brendan, I at least sent in the paperwork so everyone wouldn't be screwed by my procrastination and lack of foliow-through.
After my father's death, i was a wreck....in and out of doctor's offices, urgent cares and ERs. stress-related stomach issues, panic attacks, anxiety issues, weight loss, weight gain, sleep deprivation, test after test after test. I was in no condition to be auditioning whatsoever, yet I kept trying to make lemonade out the lemons life had given me. Finally after my 2nd trip to the ER in 3 months, the ER doctor laid down law....rest and nothing but rest for a month. Nothing that would over stress me. This meant no auditioning. Just going to work (after all, I had to keep my job and I was remarkable in the fact that through all this, I only missed 1 shifts and that was the first trip to the ER). Outside of work, just going to therapy, getting better & relaxing...it meant a lot of trips to Disneyland with our annual passes. At first, I hated it...especially since the very next day, I got a casting notice to go to a casting office I had been trying to get into for at least 2 years...and I had to decline the audition. The one time in the ER, the doctor said I did 4 of the 5 most stressful things a person can do in life in a matter of 6 months: move, change jobs, lose a pet/child, lose a parent. Yay meeee....the only thing I didn't get was get a divorce.....oh but I almost did that too...in a sense.
Everything took its toll on my relationship with Brendan. We fought CONSTANTLY and over EVERYTHING. And finally....he'd had enough...he left. I thought we were done for good...he was gone and he wasn't coming back. He wouldn't pick up his phone, he wouldn't answer texts. Hard to focus on anything when you feel like your heart is being ripped out because you're losing what you think is the most important thing in your life. Eventually, with a lot of begging by me, he came back after like a month at a friend's house, but we still weren't better. He kicked me out of the apartment 2 days after Christmas in 2012, but only to need me come back due to a combination of the cat having a bad reaction to her vaccinations and he messed up his back. Thankfully, we were able to get out of the country via the cruise I'd been gifted by Kathy Ireland while working on an informercial with her. No phones, no email, no text, no social media....It was the perfect thing to start to get us back on track....and me as well (along with a personal empowerment class I was taking with a life coach).
It's took me a while, but I finally got things back on track in 2013 & I'm still improving. I already posted how awesome 2013 was. It's back to lists and goals. Classes and workshops. My accountability group has been a big part of this. I'm still kind of annoyed that he makes me to go to therapy (all they want to talk about is "how did your parents screw you up"....um, they didn't), but if it helps us...it helps us.
So that's what the hell I was doing with my time. Good to know. Now it's back to focus. eye on the prize.