“On July 29th 2008, at 11:42am, a 5.4 earthquake shook Los Angeles. It was centered near Chino Hills, about 30 miles South East of downtown L.A. Throughout the day there have been 50 aftershocks, the largest measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale. It was the largest quake in a populated area in 14 years. We’ll be keeping you updated throughout tonight’s news broadcast.”
As an actor in L.A. the best advice I was ever given was, “Make sure you have at least three skills under your belt to help get you through the hard times.” Because as an actor, there are LOTS of hard times.
I took that advice, and have become skilled at more than three things to support myself. Currently, one of those skills is in a field of construction called Seismic Retrofitting. “What is Seismic Retrofitting?” you ask. Well, it involves working in the crawl space of houses (i.e., crawling on your belly or back for 8 hours a day and digging a hole to piss in) and connecting the house to the cement foundation, thus making it current with California standards. For those of you who can’t – or don’t – want to picture the working conditions, I’ve included a photo of me at work.
Nice, huh? You get used to the spiders, darkness and the occasional dead, or – shudder – living things that you run into on a daily basis. This brings me back to the topic of “Earthquakes.” When the quake hit I was at work.
I started house bolting four years ago, and have been very fortunate to never experience this natural disaster that is synonymous with Southern California. I don’t know how many of you out there have ever been in an earthquake, but if you think it’s scary inside a house, try being under it.
Luckily, none of us on the seven-man crew were injured in any way, other than emotionally. Our boss gave us the option to “call it a day” and get paid for half a day’s work. Only one of us took him up on his offer: the one guy who had never experienced an earthquake before. He was so shaken up (no pun intended) that when he came into work the next day, he told me that he had gone home and done some serious “soul searching.” Earthquakes have a way of bringing up that kind of inner soliloquy. I’ve known many people in my 16 years of living out here who, after an earthquake, have just packed up and moved back to wherever they came from, leaving their hopes and dreams behind to pursue another day. I, too, did some “soul searching” of my own after our little shake up. “Maybe it’s time to move on to another one of my many skills? Or maybe learn a new skill?”
Don’t get me wrong; my current job was shitty even before the quake. Everyday I feel as if all the creativity is being sucked from my body, oozing onto the ground I’m laying on, in a puddle for someone else to crawl through. Lucky them. The only reason I do it is for the same reason everyone else on the crew does it: auditions. We’re all actors, and as actors it’s hard to find a steady, well-paying job that not only allows us to come and go to auditions freely, but also allows us to take time off for the “golden ring”: the occasional acting gig.
Normally, I would’ve quit by now. But between the current state of the economy (thanks, George) and the fact that I have a kid on the way (thanks, fast-swimming sperm) I don’t think that’s the best idea. What to do? What to do? To be honest, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. But I do know that I want out from under the house more than ever.
I’ve thought about putting my acting on hold until things settle down with the Screen Actors Guild and the AMPTP (look it up) renegotiation’s. The writer’s strike really hurt us struggling actors, and we haven’t yet fully recovered.
What to do? What to do?
Time to think outside the box. My resume’ is available upon request.
Nothing like a good earthquake to provoke a little “soul searching.” (Thanks, geology)
Reporting from under a house… For now. I AM A Purple Dino Type.