Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Fancy Pizza Parlor Part 1

After getting fired from Hollywood Video, my best friend/roommate/boyfriend/psycho ex-boyfriend (never sleep with best friends...) hooked me up with my first real restaurant job. I worked as the phone dispatcher and hostess since I was forbidden to serve tables until I reached my 21st birthday. "Fancy Pizza Parlor" is inherently an oxymoron, but this joint really was quaintly fancy; a cute, dim little Venetian-style alcove tucked in a nook of a casually elegant business hotel/high end office building. I felt like a full-on big shot. Newly nineteen, I took the 45 minute train ride from the North side of Chicago into the heart of downtown, packed next to mid-level lawyers, hungry half-yuppie ad execs, and very often one of the many Red Line celebrities; either the one with the eye-patch and fingerless hand, or my favorite, the blind, raggedy Bible toting black knight complete with gauntlet and chain-mail (but no shoes...sad). The Blind Knight always started with the same announcement through every car in perfect robotic intonation: "Excuse Me. Can. I have your. attention. please. I am blind. And home...less... "

I loved the smell of the train; a dusty, reluctantly human smell, so dry you could peel it like old paint or dead skin; it softly annoyed and comforted me and made me feel at home. Chicago at that time was my utopia. The behemoths of downtown, both flesh and mortar, served as my constant aspirational compass. Battling the indifferent severity of the wind on mornings when the sun stuck frozen under bitter clouds, my goals were cemented for my future: I am going to be magnificently successful. I am going to be filthy rich and one day, I'm going to own this town. I warmed myself with these affirmations as the frostbite crept up my toenails while trying to inconspicuously lose the homeless man following me. "I'm going to own this town," repeated through my brain as I walked into the pizza place, phones ringing off the hook and customers hungrily lining up to be sat at tables and place to-go orders. "Excuse me?! Don't you work here??" a rosacea-faced woman squawked at me. She was shaped like a hamburger. I was still fully adorned in coat, hat, and gloves; very obviously not on the clock. I had fifteen minutes before my shift started so I offered her a barren smile. "I'm so sorry ma'am, but I am not on the clock, someone will be with you shortly," I turned away to take off my winter garb and hang it in the employee closet which inappropriately rested just five feet away from the woman. "I've been waiting here for at least ten minutes and no one has helped me! Can I get some service please? This ridiculous!!" As usual, tumbleweeds littered the dining room and the bar area was a ghost town. Where are my co-workers?? I slowly clocked in (early) and gave her my best high fructose smile. "I am genuinely sorry about this ma'am. I would be happy to take your order and will do everything in my power to not make you wait like this again. What would you like today?" She sighed and unloaded her order on me. I watched her red splotched cheeks jiggle as she spoke and thought over and over, "I'm going to own this town. I'm going to own this town..." 

College is a Dirty Racket

College's are like drug-dealing pimps. Banks own the entire drug cartel and the students/graduates are all the little whores going out studying and working to pay off their bloodsucking pimps and thus the cartels. I hate it. Colleges are always pimpin' their hoes: "If you don't work fo' me baby, you ain't goin' nowhere. You can't do nothin' without me, baby. You need me." And it's true. No matter how worthless your degree actually is (Sorry, University of Phoenix Art History majors) most worthwhile jobs require them, even though students are graduating not knowing a damn thing.

Ok, now pump your brakes. I know college is important. I know it is basically impossible to procure a decent job without it. I know it makes people more analytical, cultured, knowledgeable, blah, blah, blah. I am completely aware of and understand it's inherent value. However, I do not understand its value at $100,000 per Bachelor's degree (the average cost at a private university). No matter how that is explained to me, I will never understand it. It's a racket. The Man* (yeah, he's still around!) is trying to trap us (the bright, promising youth) into demonic amounts of debt before we're old enough to drink away our sorrows and I for one say "No, thank you, sir!"

Unless you're headed for a career in a hospital, law firm, or some other specialized career that requires loads of specific knowledge, why on earth are you taking four years (two of which are high school nostalgia) of crazy expensive courses that often have little to do with your major? Don't give me that 'to make students more well-rounded crap.' Becoming well-rounded is the purpose of high school. It's to make The Man's* wallet more well-rounded. College is to provide one with real skills for the real world, i.e. a real job, making real money, paying real bills. I refuse to pay to be refreshed on all the crap I was forced to learn for free in high school (even though my high school wasn't free, I'm speaking for the peasants,) only to graduate from Idiot State University and work in a cubicle, barely affording my loan payments with my insulting entry level salary. I work at a restaurant and about 80% of my coworkers hold Bachelor's degrees. Out of that, I'd estimate that around 10% of them have Master's. And trust, not all of these degrees are in creative writing. There's a bartender with a Master's in chemical engineering! He makes minimum wage plus tips.

I am not against education, I am against college and the degree system as it stands. It is inefficient, manipulative, unethical and just about evil. Plus, there are other ways to learn and obtain education outside of college but the system refuses to place real value on anything other than the trap of the racket.

I am one of those debt-free people that proudly checks "some college." I attended colleges for 2 1/2 years total. I came to the conclusion that unless you're going to a truly excellent college (like, top 20) you can learn all the things you would learn at a lackluster school for free reading at home on your couch. (That is, if you are naturally smart and studious).

I chose to forgo college mainly because I am a genius who follows her own lead but also because I am an artist confident in my ability to generate income through the merits of my unique talents that cannot be taught or learned in a classroom setting. Sure, some people deem artistry as worthless and that's fine, I get it. I would just rather study at my computer, read books, and pontificate than use a fancy business degree to kill babies and destroy the world. The business degreed baby killer might make tons of money while I make peanuts (big ones!) waiting tables, but my conscience is clear and I aspire for greater things beyond my current state of being.

So why am I waiting tables? Why am I not starring in my own sitcom, movie or BBC drama? Why don't I have several novels, books of poetry, heady non-fiction books to my credit on best-sellers lists? Don't you dare even think it must be because I'm not good, because I'm effing brilliant. It's just because I am lazy. No, I'm crazy. No, I'm afraid of success...or all of those things. But that's a whole other story...don't get me started. But really:


My parents were planted in very humble beginnings but blossomed into successful business people. I grew up under the impression that there was a trust, college savings account, bonds, stocks, a stuffed mattress, or some kind of money somewhere that would fund the beginnings of my adult life, including my higher education. I went to an expensive all-girls high school, thus I just knew that my parents would pay for college as well. Junior year, I told them my college of choice was the University of Southern California, as I was going to study Film (screenwriting). While my classmate's parents were beating them for getting B's and paying etiquette coaches to train them how to interview for Ivy Leagues, my parents panned my USC plan saying they had no idea who was going to pay for a school like that. See, my parents' higher education was paid for by their companies' very generous tuition reimbursement programs, so they could not relate to people, notably me, who did not have fancy jobs that would finance their overpriced education.

So I settled (excitedly) for a private film/art school in Chicago: Columbia College. I went to my classes the first day of the first semester, at the end of which I took a visit to the Financial Aid Department. Why do they even call it the "Financial Aid" Department? Those bastards told me I wasn't eligible for real aid (you know, the free kind) because my parents "made too much money" and I didn't have a bushel of welfare babies while I was in high school. Instead, the aid I was eligible for were loans. In my logical mind, aid is not a loan. Aid is help. Help should not be a game of Russian roulette with your financial future. I was handed a contract that detailed my agreement to borrow $15,000 for one semester of classes, and that in less than six months, I agreed to borrow another $15,000 to finish my first year of college courses. At that, I put down the pen and walked out of the office. 

Columbia College Bachelor's Degree: $120,000
Dropping Out and Seeking My Own Education: $0

Textbooks cost loads of money. LIBRARIES ARE FREE.

College is a dirty racket. If you know what you want to do and it's something you can learn on your own or at a community college or through some other educational outlet, do that and start working for yourself. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS. College is for those that truly need specialized knowledge that can't be obtained elsewhere or for teat-sucking tools that cannot survive unless someone hands them a job. I'm a horrible employee so I ditched college. I may be a self-righteous waitress trying to be a movie/tv star/entertainment mogul but I have a point. Go figure.

*The Man: A nameless, faceless, masculine entity who is at fault for all ills in the world and whose eternal goal is to diabolically take advantage of the vulnerable.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Did This Happen?

As a child I knew that I would one day move to Hollywood and be a movie star. I came to the conclusion that the reason why God ordained that I spend the prime of my childhood in Bolingbrook, Illinois, a town where cornfields go to die, was because I needed to be able to truly relate to my fans, i.e. the little people. There are enough self-indulgent, prodigal actresses whom could care less about their audiences or making a real difference in the world. God knew that if He birthed me in Los Angeles, I would become one of them; another sick, spoiled slut who carries animals in $1,000 handbags and pays someone to manicure her pubic hair. So instead, He graciously decided to plop me in middle America, have my parents forgo saving for my college education, and humble me by preoccupying my best years serving others. It's really quite a blessing if you think about it. Devoting your life to serving others is beautiful; altruistic. It may not be my first choice in vocation but I have learned an essential lesson: there is substantial value in developing the skill to subjugate your ego and maintain a gentle demeanor no matter how someone treats you. It's the whole Gandhi, Martin Luther King business. There are few greater lessons in humility than waiting tables. Of course, it would be easier if so many people in LA weren't worthless, cloven-footed monsters whose goal in life is to crush souls since they don't have them. People too often bring their shit to dinner at restaurants and wanna dump it all over me. I don't like other people's shit on me. But no matter what, I have to eat it with a smile on my face because "that's my job." Bollocks. My job is not to take people's shit. It's simply to be pleasant while I find out what they want to eat, bring it to them, and make sure they pay with a smile. Because I'm awesome and slightly care about human beings, I might throw in a few extra smiles and corny jokes. However, if I had not learned the essential lesson of stuffing my ego, I most likely would have strangled someone's grandmother by now. So how did this happen to me? If I don't like my job, why don't I just quit? Read on...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Introduction to The Wacktress

I have long prided myself on being:

1. A genius
2. Gorgeous
3. Funny
4. A Great Actress whom exudes effortless confidence, grace, and class.
5. Absolutely certain that numbers 1 through 4 would afford me the luxuries of budget-less vacations, handsome wealthy suitors, and posh homes in hills with yuppie neighbors I both loathe and resemble.

But somewhere between moving to Los Angeles and a bottle of vodka I became one of those nauseating Hollywood "actresses" who is better at balancing martinis than billowing bank accounts. I meant to start this blog ages ago to vent all my frustrations stemming from being a waitress/actress in LA while charitably advising future generations of Hollywood hopefuls. Fortunately, I've just stopped drinking long enough to be able to sit up straight at my computer (alcoholism: one of the many symptoms of "Wacktress Syndrome" to be explained in detail later) and tell you all about the trials and tribulations of following one's dreams of stardom no matter how stupid they may be.

Take note: this blog is not to deter anyone from pursuing their dreams; on the contrary, it encourages the chasing of them with reckless abandon just, however, with awareness of all possible and likely consequences. It is meant more for amusement than warning (but don't get it twisted, it is a warning). It is also to air all past events and every day occurrences that get on my nerves; the list of which is limitless.