"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quite the Few Days

I'm finally recovering from one of the most awesome and hardest weeks I've had in a while. I postponed two social engagements and skipped class because I was just too freaking exhausted. And it felt GREAT to be so busy!



EPIC MONDAY consisted of being on set for 13 hours and acting for 11 of them. Because I was away on vacation in August, the director of the webseries Hollywood & Highland had to schedule the majority of my stuff for the last two days.

Usually on set, my experience has been: arrive, check in, go to makeup/wardrobe, hit up the craft service table (nom nom nom) and hang out in my designated area for a few hours while the other stuff gets done. Then I get to act! And take a ton of breaks.

Epic Monday had me arrive, check in, go to makeup/wardrobe and immediately go to set and work, work, work until lunch, then work, work, work until I was done. And on Monday it was 113 degrees in the valley.

Don't feel bad for me. Feel bad for the crew. They worked longer than I did.

The apartment we shot in had a/c wall units and Director Kevin Fukunaga had the wisdom to take the room tone with the a/c ON so that with the lights, the extra people and the sunlight streaming in from the windows, it never got hotter than 95 degrees. I'm not kidding, if he didn't do that, allowing us to keep the air conditioning on the whole time, it would've been around 130 or higher.

Our poor makeup artist had to keep running around blotting sweat off our upper lips and powdering our faces. I drank three bottles of water and a can of soda and only had to use the restroom once because I kept sweating it all out.

Too much information?

I gotta learn to censor....

The next day we were off from shooting, but I had a callback for a product I signed a confidentiality agreement for and it was at an ad agency that I had been to a few months before where I had to wait two hours to be seen. This was no exception. Ad execs and casting are both in the callback session and they TAKE TOO LONG in the beginning. They give direction, they redirect, they let the improv part go on too long, and I can't tell you how frustrating it is to get the callback notice with the monologue sides only to get to the callback and learn there are new sides, and then FIFTY minutes later are told to ignore the sides you'd been studying the whole time because you're going to improv the whole thing in the room and GET NO PRODUCT INFORMATION UNTIL ONE MINUTE BEFORE YOU GET INTO THE ROOM.

I mean, seriously.

And because they're now an hour and a half behind schedule, and actors are in the lobby calling their agents, they are now RUSHING through the rest of us.

"They might have second callbacks two hours from now too, so please be around."

I almost banged my head against the wall. This is an hour away from my apartment. If I don't stick around, they could call me when I'm almost home and it'd take me another hour to get back.

FINE. I audition, they tell us to hang around, I go a nearby mall, but I don't have any band-aids for my fancy shoes and there aren't any place selling flipflops so I get into my car and drive home cause I also have class in an hour and need to leave NOW.

Traffic on the 405 at this time of day is terrible, so I take the side street Sepulveda, where they are doing road construction. I'm exhausted. I'm cranky. I only had a single piece of toast for breakfast 4 1/2 hours earlier because I didn't think it would take me so long to get home. I have low blood sugar.

I am at the point where if you just happened to glance at me, I would take it as an insult and sob hysterically.

I call my acting coach letting him know I have to skip class because my brain and body are just too tired to learn. I rain check my friend who I was supposed to meet after class to check out her new place because I have to learn my lines for the scenes I'm shooting the next day.

I finally get home. I can barely function.


I'm tired, but feel very lucky.

The next day on set is not as hot and we're way more relaxed. Things are still going smoothly as we finish the last of my scenes, one of which is where I get a sandwich thrown at me. We did this 20 times. They kept saying I was a trooper, but seriously, getting a sandwich thrown at you is FUN! And it's funny! And I would rather be taped getting sandwiches thrown at me than serving them to people for lunch. I can't wait for the behind the scenes footage I know our director will cut together featuring every take of that. Yippee!

In the last scene we shoot, I'm on the phone and we use my actual phone for it, so in between takes and set-ups, I can take a picture or two.

Want to know what you see when you're an actress on a small set?

Lights! Camera! Boom Mike!

So today is catch up with life day. I get to pay bills, schedule playdates, write and go to the gym!

I'm almost caught up. :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

You Try to Make Sense of Health Insurance

So you graduate from school with a degree in pretend and move to LA. Awesome! Now you need a part-time job which will allow you keep your days open so you can go to auditions. You interview at a restaurant, are hired and look over your manual. They only give insurance to those who have worked over a year at a consistent 30 hours a week. You are consistently scheduled for 20 hours a week. You scrape by.

You are non-union. Then you become Aftra. Awesome, good job! But you don't work enough Aftra hours to become eligible for their insurance.

You get sick.

You don't go to the hospital because that's expensive. You don't even have a primary physician, so whatever, you know? Who cares.

You get worse.

You get strep.

Now you have to go to the hospital or the emergency care center so that you can get checked out and tested for what you already know you have because you had it just a few months ago; you can barely move, only want to sleep, and it hurts to talk, swallow and even breathe. Your ears hurt too.

You pay the $80 to see the doctor and get the prescription for what seems like a simple antibiotic. But it aint simple. It's $60.

So what are you? You're an uninsured, starving artist who can't get enough work to qualify for insurance, and aren't making enough to buy it on your own. Then you get sick, miss work, and now have a gaping hole in your wallet.

Oh, and your fiance is also a freelance artist, meaning there's no insurance plan for you to marry into either.

And that is why you are excited about the new federal health care plan, even though you don't really know what it is, except that you will most likely be able to afford some sort of plan, or even, (Awesomesauce!) check ups and vaccines might be Free!

So you find a video that clears up a lot of questions and pass it along to all your starving artist friends.  Cause you're cool like that.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Eeeek! How Did I Not Know About This!?

After I book my next commercial (hey, three callbacks from the last four auditions I had...I'm on a streak and oughta book something soon!) I am booking myself a Happy Hour Blowout!

Dry Bar JUST opened in Studio City a few days ago (literally, three!) and if I schedule my appointment between 5-9, I get a complimentary cocktail with my straightening! And it's only $35!!

This isn't a sponsored post (but, oh, how I wish it were!) and I'll definitely take pictures of my before and after!

Oooh! I want the Southern Comfort.

And look! You can get giftcards for your friends!

Also, I need a root touch up. Can anyone recommend their favorite drug-store brand?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm Famous in Japan

A while back, I got an email from someone asking me for some personal information like my birthday and what schools I went to so that he could create a wiki page for me because he was shocked I didn't have one.

I was shocked he thought I needed one.

After some off sounding emails, I did some digging and realized oh! He's not trying to steal my identity! He's just European!

I'm kinda big there. My huge television debut, "What Should You Do?" (not a game show, despite Leeza Gibbons hosting) sold overseas, and god knows how many other recreated events shows I did ended up across the pond as well.

And all the way over to the Land of the Rising Sun!

Someone in Nippon loves me. See?

Yeah. I'm kind of baffled too. But appreciative, none the less!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Bright Orange Swirls? Is anyone else dreaming of creamsicles? I'd visit my grandmother and she usually had fudge popsicles, which were also great, but man, did I love it when she had creamsicles....

I'm still trying to hop around the internet seeing if there's a template out there I'll like. I'm not so sure I'm feeling this.

What are you feeling?

But I Love Him!

I developed a crush on nerdy cute George Michael in "Arrested Development," before I learned how old Michael Cera was. When I finally discovered he was like, 16 at the time, I realized in sadness that I was a pedophile.

But seriously, I still remember the opening of the brilliant series:  Jason Baton as the dad said, "what's the most important thing?" and Michael Cera answers "Breakfast." That just seriously cracked me up and I was in love with him and the show.

So of course I thought THIS was hilarious.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The "BEST" Headshots

Info@actingnews.biz somehow got my email address and sent me the following:

Hey Actors!

Here are a few companies you should check out!

HEADSHOTS! Actors are saying this pictures are the best in town. 50 dollars per look with a free retouch. Take a look at this website! http://www.fiveminutephotos.com/ 

PLEASE click on the link! Oh, for the LOVE of god, please click on the link! and click on the "women".

First off, if you're going to claim randomly that a non-named group of "actors" are "saying" these photos are "the best in town," did they just move here? And why aren't you proofreading your ad?

The lighting is terrible, and why on earth did they crop all those pictures to look like mugshots? You could take a better, more flattering picture of yourself by yourself! Remember myspace? We ALL know how to take great pictures of ourselves!


File this under CRAP.

And go see my friend Tanya instead.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Update Your Wardrobe!

Every struggling actress needs to keep updating her wardrobe in order to look current for commercial auditions so that it looks like she's working and making money. Keeping up appearances is expensive!

But this weekend JC Penny is having a sale!! Go get em!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Twenty Open Spots!

Remember when I talked about how I went out for the role with 8 lines and casting called my agency wanting to book me for another role?

I ain't gonna lie - Billy O'Leary helped me with it.

Taking classes with him and getting coached has been hands down the best thing I've done for myself this year.

He is offering TWENTY spots for another FREE CLASS!

Collective hooray, right?

Find my email on the right side over here ----->

and let me know you're interested!

It's gonna be two classes of ten each so let me know if you want to be in the am or pm spots, include your phone number and full name.

Wed Evening class 9/22, from 7-9pm and Thur Morning class, 9/23 10-12noon.

I am once again super excited to help my readers obtain their goals!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Choose Your Family!

2009 "Fire of Fire"Temple via Jade Keller
At Burning Man last year, I was drawn to the temple, not only for its architectural beauty with its intricate laser cut lace patterns, but also with the immediate connection I felt to everyone there. I was surrounded by people celebrating love and releasing their sorrow, and have never felt so connected to a group of strangers in my entire life. THIS was a place where I understood we were all one, all in this together, that we all share the same histories, are experiencing the present together, and will have the same futures. With no roof, God/Allah/The Universe could see us clearly and she could see that we were good.

Whoa, right?

2010 "Temple of Flux" via
The Temple this year wasn't any different. It's not the structure itself, but what it allows us to do: grieve and celebrate, and people are able to do that because people love. We love. We wouldn't know the most intense pain or the most euphoric happiness if we didn't know how to love, how to lose, and how to be reminded that we are loved, right now, at this very instant.

You are loved.

Feels good, right?

The Love of My Life, Anthony, has a younger sister who is a year younger than me, who he is very protective of. He has to be. He's Italian. It's their thing. Her name is Marialina, and when he was four years old, he could only make out what sounded like Marilyn, and he has called her that ever since, and she loves that her older brother has a special name for her that only they share in together. A reminder that their sibling bond is different from all the others they will have in the lives.

Need I mention they're close? He even shortens the name sometimes to Mare.

Unfortunately, Anthony had to move to the opposite coast to follow his dreams, leaving his family 3,000 miles away and if we scrimp and save, we can afford to visit them at Christmas. He misses them.

At Burning Man this year, Anthony asked if I wanted to go to the Temple so we could write notes to our sisters. I have a younger one I'm fiercely protective of too and also miss her so much. I agreed, thinking how lovely he is to want to write a note to his baby sister who is also pregnant with her own baby. Soon-to-be-Uncle Anthony and I go to the Temple Sunday morning.

We arrive and there are now blocks of wood you can write on and then place on the slats that jut out, and I uncap my Sharpie and am so thankful for everything; for the Love of My Life, for my friends La La and Pear Bear who designed and made our camp possible and who have repeatedly showered us with love, for my family, for the blue sky, for the people around me, for everything.

"I'm going to go around to the back, okay?" Anthony said. "Okay," I said, writing a note to my dad:
Thank you Dad, for showing me how to receive love. Anthony trots off and I look at my note. If it wasn't for my dad, I wouldn't have known how much I was worth in this world. That I deserve someone who respects me, and know what respect is.
I write a note to my sister:
Hey Vanessa, our lives really sucked in the beginning, but I want you to know that I am super proud of you. I love and miss you. 
Then I start thinking about a conversation I had had with my friend La La/Glow/Gloria, where I had told her that I sometimes wondered how I had managed to have such incredible and amazing friends, and she held my hand as we walked and told me that she had chosen me. That sentiment was something I just loved. We chose each other. We get to do that.
I started writing:
You DO get to choose your family. 
Anthony arrived as I was writing and watched me finish the rest: Remind them you love them. 
He asked me if I'd like to see what he wrote to his sister, and reached out for my hand.

We walked to the back of the temple towards the note.
It's a little hard to read, so here it is:

 Hey Mare! It's me, Ant. I am at Burning Man and I thought of you and missed you. I can't wait to see you and the baby (and Tim of course). Hey, my future niece or nephew, I can't wait to meet you and tell you how awesome your mom and dad are and how proud I am of my baby sis. 
Love you Mare!

Isn't that sweet?

But there's also a post script:

 I finish reading and think, YAY! I can expect a proposal in maybe as soon as a month or two! I grin like a fool and turn to Anthony next to me.

He is crying. He is really crying. He's practically bawling. And when you love someone so much, their crying is like other people yawning. You have to cry too. The water was leaking out of my eyes before I even registered what was going on.

"I love you so much. You are my favorite. I want to marry you." He is hugging me now, saying more things but I can't understand him because he's sort of blubbering and he's talking into my neck. Whatever it is he's saying, though, I'm sure is pretty nice. Then he stops. We're still hugging.



"Let me get this straight," I managed, "Are you asking me?"

Anthony and I have had this joke for about the last year or so where I can't even talk about marriage, or wedding stuff or anything until he ASKS me to marry him. My thought was that it was inevitable, so why not talk about it, but he was adorably stubborn about his rule and would tease me whenever I brought something marital up.

We are still entwined, still crying, still tightly holding onto each other. "Yes." he said.

"Then, YES!" I cried. He lets me go and we are both grinning with wet salty faces. "Can I draw you a ring?"

A few weeks before we had left for our trip, I had told him, "IF you are planning on asking me anything that involves jewelry at Burning Man, don't you DARE bring it out there. Not only will it probably get lost, but it'll get really dirty." I think he had rolled his eyes at me, as I was always bringing up engagement stuff. His eyes might not have seen the floor for months.

"Of COURSE you can draw me a ring!" He gets down on one knee and draws me a Sharpie ring in my favorite color with the biggest flesh diamond I've ever seen.

We are both giddy. We are children. We are too excited to stand still! We walk this way, we walk that way, and our love and excitement conjures up three giant white out dust storms in a row! We put on our goggles and dust masks and slowly seek out shelter of a nearby art piece and sit holding hands and leaning on each other. About ten minutes after giggling and laughing and feeling happy contentment, we agree to head back to camp to tell everyone (PearBear/Perry and La La/Gloria were already in on it!) and on our way passed a camp playing some kind of European waltzing or tango music - neither of us can recollect what it was - with all the camp mates dancing together, and so we quickly parked our bikes and dashed to the dance floor where they were all couples dancing and Anthony took my hand and we danced, laughing and happy. When the song finished, we learned it was the last song the camp played to celebrate their successful week and they then started tearing down.

We walked our bikes back to camp and told everyone.

We're Getting Married!!!!

Is This Real Life?

It wasn't ironic that I wrote that you DO get to choose your family only mere minutes before Anthony asked me to start our own family together. 

We constantly remind each other with kisses and hugs and actual spoken sentiments that we love each other.

So go, tell your friends that they actually your brother, your sister, your family and constantly remind them that you chose them for a reason. They are loved.

You are loved.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Is This Real Life?

"Is This Real Life?" seems to be my slogan for 2010, and I'm not minding one bit!

Remember the audition notification I had for a network comedy less than 24 hours of signing with my new agency? The one that had EIGHT lines (!!!!) and then my new manager said I'll never go out for roles that small ever again? Well, I went to it!

It was at a casting office I had never been to before (because I have never gone out for network shows!) and the appointment was at 10 sharp. I get to the building the office is in and immediately have two choices once inside the anteroom. The door on the right looks like a normal door, the door on the left looks like a bank vault.

Thankfully, there was a sign saying "Hey! Casting is on the left door! Ring Buzzer!" So I do, I'm buzzed in, up the stairs I go, smiling like an idiot cause I'm a secret agent actress.

At the landing, I'm warmly greeted by an assistant and, wait for it, they DON'T need my headshot. They don't need my headshot! But the assistant says he'll gladly take it so the office has it on file. I'm beside myself and hand it to him, cause yes, this office should have it on file cause you never know.

A few more girls come into the waiting room and all I can think is: uh oh. The role is for "Waitress." She doesn't have a name. All I know is that she works at a hip and trendy restaurant. I take a slice from my own life and dress in all black with some small jewelry and light makeup and my hair pulled back so you can see my face. The girl directly across from me is wearing a glittering sequin top suitable for a night of clubbing and showing off the goods, the other is dressed in skin tight jeans and heeled knee high boots. Their makeup is heavy but pretty.

I am not like them. I am me. I learned in that instant that everyone is more glamorous on tv, including lowly waitresses. I need to up my game in both wardrobe and makeup. Aren't you glad I get to do all these things so that you learn from my mistakes? You're welcome!

So there I am, looking like I actually wait tables to make money instead of act and I find myself staring at these other girls for clothes and makeup details and tips and notice that my stomach is floating in my body like a soap bubble. I'm nervous! I don't get nervous! I mean, I do, but only when I'm grossly unprepared. But I AM prepared! I'm nervous because I feel like I'm out of my league. 

Ugh. I don't feel worthy. I'm THAT girl again. Blech.

Then I suddenly remember my manager's comment that this role, this unnamed waitress with only eight lines, is beneath me.

It's beneath me.

That, for some reason I am extremely thankful for, popped my soap bubble stomach and it found its way back in front of my pancreas, and I was no longer nervous. Hooray!

I am the first to go and the CD calls my name and puts her arm around me, squeezing a bit, like a hug, thanking me for coming. "Oh no!" I thought, "She thinks I'm someone else!" But instead of correcting her with a "No, no, we've never met!" I just say, "Thanks for bringing me in!" and go into the audition room. We do the scene. "That was great!" she says, which I know is synonymous with "You sucked balls! Leave!" but she gives me a minor redirection and has me do the scene again. (Which is always GOOD.) After we finish the second take, she asks me about my name as she walks me out and anytime there's chitchat after your audition is also a very good sign.

I walked back to my car feeling Zen. I had an audition. I did it.

And I learned a new fun way to combat nerves when thinking I'm unworthy (which I really need to stop doing anyway.)

I didn't hear anything and I wasn't surprised, but I still felt that I had done a good job but just wasn't right for that role. And now that office knows who I am.

Then I had my two week vacation! Yay! No cell phones or email for almost all of it!

When we drove back to civilization this last Tuesday, I had voicemail from both my agency and my manager from the previous Friday. The casting director for the show liked me a lot even though they had chosen someone else for the role I had gone out for, and would I be interested in a different character that worked the following week?

Is this real life?

I know full well that the new role could have been a one line role such as "Excuse me," but I also know that the casting director could've chosen a whole bunch of other actresses to do the role, but had liked me enough to remember me and want to book me. 

Unfortunately, I was still out of town for the day they needed me to work it, but still, isn't that great? Isn't that amazing?

The first audition I have with my new agency and although I wasn't right for that role in particular, I was offered another one.

I am feeling pretty fantastic.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Still Decompressing

I was gone for almost two weeks and am still trying to adjust to life back home - running water, flushable toilets and central air! I want to tell you all about my experience, but I have so much to prepare! I have ADR for The Lost Tapes tomorrow at 1:30 and then head back to the valley to shoot two scenes for one of the web shows I'm in AND have a date night with a friend after her acting class. I also need to prep my scene for my own acting class for Tuesday night, AND I'm shooting another episode for yet another web series on Saturday! Can we say super busy?

I'd also like to take a second to thank my lovely guest bloggers Brandi, Mariel, Caitlin, Robin and Tracy for their hugely inspiring and lovely posts. You guys rock! Thank you so much for putting in the time and effort to entertain my readers with your very poignant articles. I'll bet you have a few new fans yourselves! <3

So where was I? Burning Man!

I had a great time with my friends La La, Pear Bear, Antne, Amy, Blake, Gary, and Tracy and new friends NoNo and Mars.

There was much cause for celebration and solemnity and La La invited the SuperFriends to her lovely memorial at the Temple to honor her grandmother with shots of Tequila (a Nana favorite - she, like me, preferred to sip it) and dancing from the waist down, a Nana requirement for any good time.
La La wrote a lovely note to her grandmother and when the Temple burned on Sunday night, the message floated in ashes up to heaven where Nana was able to read it.

The Temple is my favorite place, and I'll share a story later in the week that solidified my love for it, but this place of worship hosted memorials, weddings, and is created just so you can take the things in your heart that you need to release and write it on the walls. Sharpies are plentiful and love is palpable. You read everyone's messages and you can't help but be so affected that your own eyes water with the love and pain that unites everyone together in the universe. You read the messages about love and forgiveness and same things you went through and are going through in other people's handwriting and it reminds you that we are all together in this world.

One night, as we, the SuperFriends were out in the deep playa experiencing the art, I said to La La, sometimes I don't know why I've been so lucky to have the friends I do, and she replied that she chose me. I was so taken with this concept, that on the morning the Temple burned, I wrote "You DO get to choose your family. Remind them how much they are loved." And there will be more on that sentiment later this week.

I'm still settling back in, albeit slowly, and am enjoying life. I hope you are too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Voice in My Head

Sometimes I'm asked the question, "Why did you move to LA?" "Oh," I reply, "because I love waiting tables, and this is what I want to do." Okay, not really. I'm in LA because a voice told me to go here. Am I crazy?  

There were two instances in my life where I distinctly heard a voice telling me what to do.The first time was my junior year in college. I was going to go on an all expense paid trip to Israel and let me tell you, I was pretty darn excited. We were going to go to the Wailing Wall, the Dead Sea, and I was going to be surrounded by people who would immediately accept me simply because of the way my hair curls. (It's sort of a give away, apparently.) On the day after our deposit was non-refundable, I heard a voice say, "Do not go on this trip." "Psh!," I said, making sure no one was watching me talk to myself, "The plane's chartered. It's totally safe. They do this every year!" "Do not go on this trip." Not louder, not forceful, just there. "But I'll lose my $250!" I'm a Jew. We like to save money. "Do not go on this trip." I frowned in response.

"Do not go on this trip," the voice kept saying the next day. "Aw, come on! Can't we work this out?" "Do not go on this trip." "Fine! Fine. I get it." I called up the lady in charge. "Hi, I'm going to have to take myself off the list. I'm not supposed to go." "What do you mean?" "Um. I don't know. I just know I'm not supposed to go on this trip." "You don't get your deposit back." She was Jewish too. She didn't want me to lose my money either. "I know." "Okay, well, please come back next year."
Two weeks pass. The plane of the trip I'm not supposed to go on leaves tomorrow. My dad calls. "Hey Lira! I just wanted to wish you a good trip!" Whoops. I had forgotten to tell him. "Oh, yeah. I'm not going." "What? Why not?" "I don't know," I said, "Something was telling me not to go." My dad mulls this over. His voice changes tone. He sounds tired. "I didn't want to tell you this, because I didn't want to ruin your trip," I grip the phone tighter, anticipating, "but your mother tried to kill herself. She's in the hospital."

I hang up the phone, pack my bag and drive the 6 hours it takes to get home in only 4 and quarter. Instead of halfway around the world, where I thought I wanted to be, I was right back at home, where I needed to be. I was told not to go on that trip to Israel because my dad needed me to be there for him. Going back to the motherland was actually going back to my father. He spent his wedding anniversary with my mother in the psych ward, a place where they lock people in to protect everybody else who's out.

The second time I heard The Voice was about a year later. My college roommate and I were discussing our post graduation plans. It seemed everyone was moving to New York or back home and we didn't want to do that. "Move to Seattle with me!" She said excitedly, "There's a huge theater scene up there, and it'd be so fun!" "Okay!" I squealed. I had visited before and fell in love with it. And like that, done deal. That's what we were going to do.

And then that calm even voice made itself heard again. "Don't go to Seattle." It said. "Aww, come on!" "Don't go to Seattle." Same tone, not forceful. "Is my mom going to be okay? Can't you just warn me about her instead of being all cryptic?" And its answer changed. "Move to Los Angeles." "Move to LA?" "Move to Los Angeles." I mulled it over. I knew no one going to LA. I'd be by myself in a metropolis I barely knew. About a week later, I sat my roommate down and told her I couldn't go to Seattle with her. "Why not?" she asked, pleading. "I don't know," I sighed, "But something's telling me I'm supposed to be in LA."

I've had a very happy life here so far, and I'm content and peaceful, but I'm pretty sure that the reason I'm supposed to be here hasn't been revealed to me just yet. I like to think I'm still waiting for that. A huge opportunity will come to me, and my career will skyrocket and I'll look back over my life and think, wow. So glad I listened to that voice!

Why are you in LA? What made you move to NYC? Did you hear a voice? We could have fun dissecting this all day and have fun predicting our futures. In the meantime, though, I wish both our families good health and long life.

And I wish us both super strong hearing so we'll always be able to listen to the Voices in our heads.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mariel's Guest Post: 'Holllywood of The North' Bound.

 Mariel says "sorey," when she's apologetic and "eh?" when she didn't quite catch what you said. 
And she just moved from A to B  to follow her dreams, leaving her live in boyfriend and puppies back home.

For some of us, leaving what we know and embarking on an adventure clear across the country all by ourself, isn't a mere daydream, it's a necessity. Mariel shares her tale of leaving everything she knows to follow her dreams in a new city, with new people, new roommates, new everything.
Find out why.
xoxo, Lira
I am a 23 year old wannabe-actress from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada where I have been raised and now live with my wonderful boyfriend and our two huge dogs in my own little dream cottage. This fall I'm embarking on a 4 month hiatus from my life here to Vancouver, BC "The Hollywood of the North". I'm leaving everything in my life behind to chase down my dreams of acting at Vancouver Film School.
Lira asked me what many may find a simple question, "Why?" and to be honest, I had to scratch my head about how to answer it. When it comes right down to it, I guess the answer is fear. I am settled into a life I love, but I have dreams I have never chased. I can see myself finishing off my BA, getting married, having kids... living life. The terror of it for me is that one day a little hand will reach up and tug on my sweater, asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up and me saying that I always daydreamed about being an actress but that I never did anything about it. How can I ever tell my children that they can become anything they want to if I don't prove it to myself?
When I was eight years old or so, I watched the Oscars with my mum. I fell in love with the world of acting as I saw them play clips from different scenes and heard them talk about all the work that goes into bringing these stories to life. When my Dad got home that night, I promised I would take him with me one day to the Academy Awards, that I would be the best actress he'd ever seen. And it stuck.
I love to act, and as much fun as you can have interacting with a live audience for me nothing compares to film. I love movies, L-O-V-E. My boyfriends harps at me constantly when he comes home and finds me curled up, "How many times have you seen THIS one?" I love re-watching movies, digging for the intracies that build characters into the lives the scripts hold for them. I love bio-flicks, dramas, the endless laughter that comedies bring me to, watching epic heartbreaking scenes with tears filling my eyes... I love being drawn in.
Ever so much more than that, I love being part of that process. In my hometown, there is so little. We have one theatre company and one theatre. To get to a serious film/tv or even web series audition I have to drive four hours EACH WAY. To get to a student film audition I have to drive anywhere from an hour to two, three, or more. And that's just for the "if" of trying out... If I get a role, you can imagine the scheduling nightmare it becomes trying to coordinate actors & crew across two or three provinces (not to mention it hits the gas tank pretty hard). Choosing to be an actress and choosing to stay here are just counterintuitive choices.
On top of that, I need to train. I am, by no stretch of however strong an imagination, a very talented actor. I need to learn and I'm craving that. I need to work with others, and here, no one does anything on any ongoing basis but community theatre productions.
So the bottom line is that really I HAVE to move to chase this dream, and the truth is that I really have no choice in chasing it. I've always known this is the path I should be on and while helping my inspiring boyfriend to make his dreams a reality (to great successes I may add) I realized I could no longer keep my back turned to my own passions. He recognized that need in me, and he's behind me 100 per cent telling me to go get my dreams and make them happen; that our love is strong enough to weather the distance and that he believes in me.
It's my turn, and I have to do this.  
You can find me any time at http://daydreamingactress.wordpress.com for the undoubtedly bumpy ride I'm in for over the next four months.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Brandi's Guest Post: You Can Have Both

Most young women who pursue an acting career understand that they have to put earplugs in every morning of their life so that they can't hear the ticking of their biological clocks. If you're an actress, you're in it for the long haul - 10 years at least just to get started - and you have to put your maternal instincts on hold because you can't feed a starving child when you're a starving artist yourself, and acting is one of the most expensive career you can pursue.

So, most of us agree to choose one or the other. I personally am surrounded by friends and family who are getting married and starting families. The Love of My Life's sister is pregnant and I would give anything to be pregnant too and trade stories of morning sickness and cravings.

Instead, I'm fake pregnant on TLC reruns. Oh, the irony.

Then there's Brandi Ford. She's an actress/mother of two, who goes out for 22, and is producing and starring in her own webseries, Diary of a Wedding Planner, which she also SAG'ed herself on. Can we say force to be reckoned with?

She didn't want to have to choose, and is setting an example for her children that they can be whatever they want to be as long as they put in the work. At the end of a grueling day, sitting on the 405, going from one audition to the next, she gets to come home to sloppy kisses and hugs from her family. Brandi says life is better this way. And for those of us thinking it's a choice of a career or a family and certainly not both, Brandi proves us wrong.


Family Versus Career

Family? Career?
Family? Career?
One or the other…Family? Career?

In many occupations society/the media/the powers that be, want women to choose between starting a family or advancing in their chosen vocation and acting is no different. As a young twenty-something with 2 small children I’ve heard it all…

“I thought you wanted to be an actress?”
Translation: You’ll never make it now.

“Oh, but you’re so talented!”
Translation: What a waste!

“Hollywood is no place to raise a child!”
Translation: You’re only thinking about yourself and not what’s best for your kids.

“LA is expensive, especially with kids. Maybe you should just stick to regional theater.”
Translation: No more major league hopes for you honey! Stick to the minors.

And my personal favorite: “Well we all had dreams once, but now that you’re a parent it’s time to get realistic.”
Translation: Give up this pie in the sky fantasy and get a real job!

Now I realize most of the people who spoke these words meant well but I never let them deter me from pursuing my dream. Despite the objectives of some family, friends, classmates and even strangers, I left my well-paid corporate job and moved to LA just over a year ago and I couldn’t be more happy!

Being a wife, a mommy and an actress makes for a very full schedule. I am constantly juggling networking events, coffee dates and auditions with being the family taxi, doing the laundry, helping with homework and still finding quality time with all 3 guys {husband included}. On top of that I have a part-time job to cover all of my acting expenses so you can imagine how exhausting it can be at the end of the week. And yet, this is the most exhilarated I’ve been in my entire life! Finally, I am actively pursuing what I’ve dreamed about for years and having my family along for the ride is incredible but it does come with a price:

--Kids are expensive, to my surprise they don’t eat love!  And LA is one of the most expensive cities to live in so combine the two and you’ll definitely be living on a budget. While most of my college friends who have started a family have bought nice spacious homes outside of California, our small LA apartment cost more in rent than their mortgages. When these same friends want to plan a trip like a cruise or weekend getaway, I’m usually the one to decline, opting to put that money towards acting related purchases instead.

--When industry pals want to meet for lunch or last minute auditions pop up, I have to make sure I have reliable childcare ready to go. Yes, I have heard stories of girls bringing their babies with them to auditions but my boys are too much of a handful to ever do that. Besides, you really want to be focused before you go into the room and nothing can pull your focus more than your child. So if you can swing it, childcare is the way to go!

--When I do book something {YAY!} I usually end up on set for 12-14 hours and get home long after the kids have gone to sleep. Since only A-Listers have nannies who can bring their children to set and I’m not quite that high up in the alphabet, I sometimes miss out on moments that I wish I could’ve been around for.

--And of course, if my boys are ever sick, the whole world stops while I tend to their needs- I am Mommy after all.

With so much on my plate I do find myself envious of my childless actor friends from time to time, however I wouldn’t change things for the world! After all, there are quite a few blessings that come with being an actress/mommy…

--I have a very long-term vision of my career. With every role that comes my way I am reminded that my sons (and their friends) will one day be able to watch my performance so I don’t want to do anything that I’d be ashamed for them to see as they grow up. That doesn’t mean I won’t take risks, but it does mean I won’t do anything I’m uncomfortable with just for the money.

--I’m extremely focused and don’t have time for the Hollywood Bull. Partying is great, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not wasting away precious time & money hopping from one Hollywood hot spot to the next hoping to be discovered by a director or producer who’s really just there to look at eye candy, not cast his movie. If I’m going to spend time away from my family, it better be for something that will truly be productive.

--I am a better actor because of them. Have you ever played with a small child? Their imaginations are so beautiful to behold that they force you to be creative and completely open to all the possibilities their little universe holds…dancing with them is even better!

--I’m teaching my children not to settle for less. Though they’re both too young to really understand what it is that I do, they see mommy working hard, going to class and doing what makes me happy. In turn, they know that I want them to grow up and pursue what makes them happy as well. Currently, my 5 year old wants to be a Rock Star/Soccer Player/Fireman and what mother wouldn’t support that?

--Most importantly, I’ve learned that acting is a big PART of my life but it’s not the whole thing. Though I fully believe and expect to one day become a household name, I know that if that never happens, I will still be a star to my kids. And this is most clear to me when I come home and am greeted with big hugs & sloppy kisses despite just having had a bad audition or an off day in class.

Family? Career?
Family? Career?

Yes it would be much easier to just choose one, but my God, my life is so full and richly blessed because I have and want both. And if any of you readers out there want the same one day, just know that it can be done! Trust me, the unconditional love from your kids and the support of a loving husband/wife/bf/gf or even your own parents  will make your acting journey even more worthwhile.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Robin's Prescription for Struggling Actresses

I asked Robin if she was interested in sharing her insights with my readers on why she does what she does. She kindly obliged. 

 This is the first time I have ever guest posted for anyone ~ ever. Oh no. Are your eyes glazing over in anticipation of complete and utter boredom? My style isn't anything like Lira's (but you knew that already) because she is one-of-a-kind. When she asked me to guest blog, I almost wet my pants and then started bouncing up and down on my bed like I was 12. Fortunately, no one was home to witness this horrific display. Unfortunately, I just told you about it, so that is nearly as bad as the event itself. In case you are wondering, this is how my blog goes a lot of the time.

However, today is going to be different, as in better, because Lira asked me to stick to a topic. I call my blog "Your Daily Dose" and refer to it as "Blog Therapy." That means that on my actual blog anything goes. But here, today, we are going to tackle ONE topic. Whew. And possibly variations of that one topic.

Lira asked me to share with you why I started blogging. Why you start something and why you continue to do something are not necessarily the same reason. In my case, that is definitely true. I started blogging sporadically, and for fun, on myspace a while ago. As in years. I have had migraines for about ten years now. Seriously bad since 2003. I have been into prescription narcotic drugs, depression, denial, unemployment, living with my parents, and now I am applying for SSD. None of these places have been kind. They have all been enlightening. When I finally accepted that SSD was my last option, that is when I committed to the daily blog. Or as daily as possible. I refused to be just a waste of space. I majored in English. I could still think some of the time, and by God when I could, I would write. People need to feel productive to retain their sanity. Let me rephrase: I needed to have something to keep my sanity. It turns out that it was my blog.

My daily blog started on facebook. My readership was primarily my friends and family. Sometimes. Not all of my friends would read my blog. Doesn't that sh*t piss you off? It did me. Of course, anger only notches your my migraine up. Anyway, I had visions (at that time) of becoming a published writer. If you're going to dream, dream big. I knew I needed a bigger forum for "The Amazing Writing of Robin." So, I opened a Blogger account and I waited for the masses to show up and follow me. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited.

I hope you're laughing right now, because it's hysterical, right? I started writing to maintain my sanity. That is still true. It evolved into a dream of becoming a famous writer of non-fiction short stories, because I never could finish a novel. When the masses didn't come to me I had to change my plan. I still don't understand how to navigate this site. Hand to God, I don't. I found my way via the backdoor into some fantastic sites. I found Phoenix. She was the first blogger who wrote, to my way of thinking, like me. Through her, I found Lira, and the list goes on. I have back doored my way into every good site I have found. It has been dumb luck all the way down the line.

Here's the thing: there are TONS of excellent writers out there who are not getting published. I read the blogs of many of them every day. And here is where my motivation changed yet again. I found writers, published and non-published, on here and they are all teaching me how to become a better writer. (So much so, that I am actually writing a novel. Can you believe it?) The thing that I never expected was the gift of what they give each time they write. I get to read their stories. I look forward to reading the blogs I follow as much as I look forward to writing my own. I never saw that coming! In the beginning, it was all about me. My sanity. My needs. My plans. Those things are still there, but I opened myself up and let all of the wonderful things that they have to offer come in. I didn't expect that when I started this journey. Of course, usually the best parts of any trip are the surprises.

I know that many of you are actors, so I have spent some time thinking about what I could possibly tell you that I have learned that might have some crossover value. This is what came to me. This was posted on a literary agent's site. It was something that one of her published authors said to her. I am not going to get it exactly right, but this is the essence of the thing:

I wish that I had enjoyed my time more when I was still non-published. I could write when I wanted, what I wanted, and how I wanted it. There was no one breathing down my neck telling me how to do it or making me write on a deadline. I wasn't having to do all of that and fit in book signings, interviews, and still write. I didn't appreciate the freedom that I had when I was non-published. I spent all of that time worrying if I would ever get published instead of just enjoying the writing. 

I know that as actors you are hustling all the time for that next audition, hoping for that big break, and super stardom. I say to you: enjoy your time of non-super stardom. You are free to do what you want, when you want, and how you want to do it. The day may very well come when you are a superstar ~ and these will be the good ole days.

Anytime you feel like some Blog Therapy, drop on in. You are always welcome! This is me (in case you were curious). I know... I look fairly sane for a crazy person. Spooky.

***Thank you, Lira, for sharing your blog space with me. ***

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Caitlin's Guest Post: How Being an Actress ADDs Up

I opened up my electronic mailbox one day and found an email I had sent to myself back from the past when I was a senior in college. Upon closer inspection, however, I found that this was NOT an email from myself, but from Caitlin Coons!

This young actress emailed me with a few questions and I was absolutely just taken with her excitement and happiness. I asked her to write why she's an actress and had no idea I would get such a personal and amazing post. 

She is finishing up her last semester and then her "real journey" begins. I would watch this one if I were you. We're meeting for the first time in late September, and I absoutely can not wait. I'm already in love with her. I know you will be too.


Why I'm an Actress

I love writing. It comes easy to me. The words come spilling out of my brain at an ungodly speed, much too fast for my poor fingers to keep up with.
Not this time. When Lira asked me to write Why I’m an Actress I could wait to get started. So I did...and then, I started over. I started over again and again aaand again. It's tough! Explaining why I am an actress is like explaining how my brain works.
So, I suppose I should first explain how my brain works.
I have ADD, or attention deficit disorder. I’m the inattentive type, and ever since I was a toddler (my parents have stories) I have been stuck in my own head. My brain is filled with what is commonly described as “chatter.” ADD differs slightly in everyone, just as any other condition would, and for me “chatter” describes the million and one thoughts and voices that are screaming in my head at any given second. Think of me like Sookie from True Blood, and acting is my Bill. The first time I stepped onto a stage in second grade to perform a few songs for teachers and parents with my classmates I suddenly heard silence. I left my head and was able to focus my attention on something else. The best way to describe it was that I was in the moment. For the first time. Ever.
After that, my life as an actress took off. I took acting classes, attended acting summer camps, transferred to a performing arts high school, and was accepted into a preprofessional theatre group for teens. While I wasn’t training I was auditioning, auditioning, auditioning, and even getting to perform sometimes! I also worked hard learning the other side of my craft. I interned backstage for several summers, and stage managed and crewed a few shows at my high school.

I've never really been outgoing. My shyness is debilitating at times, but when I act I transform. It brings me peace, and I feel like I actually have control over the way I think.
These feelings got me hooked. Beyond hooked! I was completely devoted, I loved not having a life outside of the theatre! When it came time to look at colleges I was touring conservatories and schools with well respected BFA programs. One of them, Emerson College, also had an awesome film program.
If you’re seriously considering a life of acting, you’ve probably had someone tell you “If you can do anything other than acting, you should do that instead.” I’ve had countless people tell me this, and I always scoffed at the notion. “Be anything other than an actress? Oh, puh-leaaaaaze.” But buried deep inside of me there was the knowledge that I was smart. I could do other things easily. And some of these other things, well, I found them fun too.
This feeling surfaced three days before my Emerson application was due. That combined with a million other little reasons caused my extremely impulsive self to completely redo my application to my dream school for the film program. I got in. And for the past three years I turned my hobby of film into my life.
It has been great, and I learned so much that I am so thankful for! But college was also the first time my slight problem with ADD became an issue. It’s a common misconception that people with ADD are just lazy. Oh, I can be lazy sometimes and I’ll own up to it, but this is something different. When you have ADD (I’m speaking in generalizations, but this is pretty much the defining characteristic of this disorder) you literally do not have the ability to do something that isn’t 100% stimulating to you. It’s not that you choose not to because you would rather do something else, it’s that no matter how hard you try you can’t make your brain work. I’m sure everyone reading this has experienced a mental block at some point in his or her life. Now, imagine that when you’re trying to check out a camera from your school for a film project. It’s easy enough; you go to a desk and tell the person working there what class you’re in, what you’ll need, and how long you’ll need it for. Later, you pick up said camera and sign a piece of paper. So simple! But my brain froze. ADDers think divergently, we having trouble going through the steps involved in a process. I had to go there I knew, but that seemed wrong, I had to be missing something, but what? I would mispronounce my own name. I would forget my class. I never knew the dates. This started happening more and more frequently, and not just with checking out equipment. Everything I was doing was giving me panic attacks. I started having anxiety and sleeping problems. The “chatter,” which I kept at bay with theatre pre college, came back and was worse than I had ever experienced before. I couldn’t even hear myself think.
I was miserable.
I was prescribed stimulant medicine. I cried the first time I took it, because it was also the first time since I had been on stage that my brain was quiet. I remember it kicked in when I was riding in a car and I suddenly realized I was hearing the music on the radio. I wasn’t thinking about a million different things, I was simply listening. It sounds crazy, but that’s really what it’s like to have attention deficit disorder.
My medication has helped me get through college. I have a semester left, a semester which I will be spending at Emerson’s Los Angeles campus. Half of the program includes taking a couple of classes, and the other half is working at an internship for school credit. As I prepared at the beginning of this summer for the program it was time to ask myself “What do I want to do? What do I want to be?” That’s the whole point of this program; to get an internship and familiarize yourself with the field you hope to work in upon graduating. I always knew there was a good chance I would want to continue with acting after college, and when I asked myself those questions I confirmed that “I AM an Actress.” You could say I have an extreme case of ‘do what you love.’ It’s like my doctor said during my last visit, “Find something that interests you, and you’ll discover you need your medication less and less.” Acting is my passion. When I’m in my zone, doing what I love, my issues with ADD disappear.
There is a major benefit to my ADD brain. It’s called hyper-focusing. I may have trouble doing other things, but when I find stimulating I commit my energies to it 130%. So when I made my declaration to myself and to the world that I was going to try IT (acting as a career) I decided to get back in shape. I started searching online for any hints to the business. I found Lira’s blog, and read through the entire thing in a few days. After I finished I started emailing her (best decision! She is super nice and helpful if you didn’t already catch that from reading The Struggling Actress). I found other blogs. I read them too. Interviews and articles from a certain casting director kept popping up, and I decided to email her my cover letter and resume. By doing so I secured my internship for the fall. I’ll be working with CD Risa Bramon Garcia. She cast the pilot for The Cape which got picked up by NBC, and while I’m interning she will continue to cast their episodes. Acting is a hard business, and it’s constantly changing. Blogs are a great resource because you can hear from pretty much every perspective. You can find out what it’s going to be like for you when things aren’t going well, or when they are. You can prepare yourself, learn from other people’s mistakes! It’s also a great opportunity for you to hear from the other side. So many casting directors have their own blogs or facebook pages, and they’re constantly doling out AWESOME advice!
Now if you’re interested I have a few resources! First, go read The Element by Ken Robinson. It’s an interesting look into the education system, but more importantly, if you aren’t absolutely sure what you want to do in life this will help you. Even if you are absolutely sure, go read it. It was life changing for me. I knew I wanted to act, this helped me realize I had to. We all have our doubts, this will put yours at ease...or make you see that those doubts are coming from a very true place and you need to reevaluate what you’re doing.
I’ve also been reading The Actor’s Art and Craft (William Esper and Damon DiMarco) which has helped me tremendously. However, unless you have studied some of the Meisner technique before I’m not sure this book would have the same benefit. I’m also a firm believer in the Grotowski method. I think it’s lesser known, but if you ever find a good class I would suggest TAKE IT. It’s all about physical acting which I’ve always connected with. As for the business side of things, Lira’s blog has been great insight. I also occasionally pop over to The Working Actress and dream about what it would be like to one day enjoy that level of success. Websites which offer some great articles include Brains of Minerva, Kill the Door, and The Actor’s Voice. On Facebook I’m connected with a few CDs’ pages, including Risa Bramon Garcia’s and Marci Liroff’s which are both awesome and updated often.
In addition to all that, I just started my own blog. Right now I don’t have too much to say, but come September 9th, I’ll be in Los Angeles working at my internship! (And don’t you want all these insights I'm going to be gaining from inside the casting room? I think yes :)

If you’ve made it through this whole thing I want to thank you. Being an actress means the world to me, and if you cared enough to read about it then that means the world to me too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tracy's Guest Post: Innovation = Rebirth

I've known Tracy since our freshman year in college and it wasn't until our sophomore year that we realized, holy crap! we have a LOT in common!
I asked her to write a post because 1) I love her and her writing style and 2) I think she's going through a major life shift right now, and believe that what she is going through will resonate with a lot of artists who feel stagnant and scared to power through.

I didn't know that I was a major force in it; I just figured if I yelled at her loud enough, she'd realize that I was just saying the same things she already knew: that it's time for a change.  An innovation - the same Tracy, only better.

A Rebirth.

A Phoenix



Hi. My name is Tracy. I'm an actress, a Gemini, and I hate change.

It came to my attention one sunny day, as my friend Lira was shrieking
hysterically at me while helping me pack up my apartment, that a change
was needed in my life. I was with the same representation who had not sent
me out on auditions for quite some time; I had the same "please don't
notice I'm alive, thanks" haircut I'd had since approximately 7th grade; I was treating my acting career as little more than a hobby; and I was
possibly wearing the same t-shirt from the day before.


We all get stuck in ruts, right? Life hurls lemons at our heads so we sort
of duck into the recess of our sofas and stay there for a couple years. We
just want everything to be quiet and in its right place and change is
scary and uncomfortable and it requires energy and time and re-arranging
our lives and occasionally our furniture. There's also always the
uncertainty that the changes we do make in life aren't going to be for the
better but for the worse, and we'll end up looking longingly at the past,
wistful for what we once had and kicking ourselves that in our ingratitude
we didn't see what we had until it was gone.

Do you know how baby eagles learn to fly? (I'm going somewhere with this,
this isn't me trying to avoid the subject.) They learn to fly because the
mother eagle, after a few weeks of being patient with her little eaglets,
decides to put rocks into her nest, making it so uncomfortable for her
little babies to be stuck up there that they decide, "hell with this" and
bail, their little wings furiously flapping because they are pretty damn
sure (and correctly so) that nothing can be more uncomfortable than a rock
lodged into your backside.

Lira is one of those rocks. Or possibly a mother eagle, I haven't decided

She pushes me, time after time, to go to metaphorical places in my life
that I find strange and uncomfortable, places that I have worked hard to
avoid ever going to, and to have those difficult conversations with others
and to do what scares me most- to change, to adapt, to cope and thrive,
instead of hiding in my cave and consuming large quantities of frozen
yogurt while watching re-runs of Buffy.

Most of all, Lira pushes me to believe in myself. I'll be honest here,
kids: my faith in myself is at an all-time low. Because the worst thing
about never changing our lives is that slowly but surely, we start to
believe that we don't even have the POWER to change our lives. That we
don't deserve it. That we aren't worthy of the good that will come when we
take those initial steps to change what we do not like about our
ourselves, our relationships, or our situations.

That's when a real friend steps in, helps you pack up your apartment while
you're completely overwhelmed, then raises her voice at you about why
you're still in the same place you were in five years ago, then raises her
voice some more when you comfort your now hysterical cat who doesn't
understand why there is screaming going on.

Thank you, Lira. A million times thank you. I'm going to be great someday
and you're gonna be beaming and nudging people and saying, "Did I tell you
about the time I yelled at her?"

swan dive,