Thursday, July 15, 2010

Si te Vas, Vaya con Dios

Before I left for Ecuador I was an anxious mess. For weeks leading up to the trip, I prepared myself by spending hours a night pouring over blogs and reviews written by those who had gone before me. Their stories regarding "bad" cabbies parked outside the airport and camera thefts on buses gave me the impression that I would be robbed the second I got off the plane.

So when I finally got to Guayaquil, I yanked my suitcase off the baggage carousel and went into paranoia mode, gripping tightly to my belongings until I reached an official looking taxi stand outside the airport.  There, I hoisted my heavy luggage into a cab by myself and took a quick ride to the bus terminal.

The second I arrived there, hundreds of fast talking Guayaquilians urged me to get on their bus. It was the exact opposite of Port Authority. What little Spanish speaking skills I had at the time allowed me to purchase a ticket for a seat on a bus headed to the Ruta del Sol. While chickens chirped next to my suitcase in the luggage compartment below my seat, I held on to my backpack as if it were a giant balloon ready to fly away.

As soon as I got to my school in Montanita, I recieved my schedule for the week and was led to my shared room in the cabanas.  There, I was finally able to let go of my baggage.

Later that night some of the other students at the school and I went to dinner. We talked about who we were and why we were there. With so many people from so many different countries the conversation never got dull. Slowly, the clouds of doubt I had about the trip lifted from my mind and floated into the atmosphere. They stayed there for the next 5 weeks, blanketing the sky like a soft gray shroud. FYI- Ecuador in June is cloudy and mild. So much for my hopes of a sexy tan.

Obtaining bronzed skin was not why I left the United States for 5 weeks though. My biggest reasons for embarking on this journey were to surf and learn more Spanish. The immersion program I enrolled in was no joke. Those who didn't do their homework or study quickly fell behind. The surfing was frustrating at times too, especially when the waves weren't strong or consistent enough for me to advance. But luckily the teachers all loved their jobs and kept it fun when I was stuck.

Between classes I talked with the locals to keep my conversation skills sharp and better understand the culture of the coast I was on. From dusk till dawn I got schooled on how to let loose. Even though it was the off season, the Montanita nightlife lived up to the hype. Dancing like crazy in my red "ladies night" dress, circled by foreign friends was something special. Whatever problems our countries may have had with each other didn't matter to us as we moved to the beat of our favorite songs in the clubs.

Days turned into weeks and flew by, a mix of learning, surfing, studying by the pool, lazy Sundays with bootleg movies containing Spanish subtitles and group dinners all blurred into each other. If I was lucky, the clouds would clear up long enough so that I could surf into a sunset or gaze at the million stars that punctuated the dark night. What does it look like when both hemispheres crowd the same sky, fighting for my undivided attention? Unreal.

What also stood out was the memory of my last Sunday in the small town. I sat in the ocean with some of my closest friends, just bobbing around on our surfboards, talking about life while enveloped in something greater than all of us. The ocean had a way of putting things into perspective while we anticipated the next great set of waves.

During my final night in Montanita, I sat in the common area of the cabanas feeling oddly unsocial. City of Gods was playing in the background and fresh faces cropped up all around me, telling the other newcomers about who they were and why they were there.

Suddenly I felt lightheaded and sick. At first I feared it was the triumphant return of my 24 hour stomach bug. But then I realized that the odd feeling in the pit of my stomach stemmed from the sadness that comes with leaving people and a place you have come to love. I had enjoyed my stay but it was time to go. Montanita is a transient town and I couldn't help but feel that another version of myself would arrive the second I left. The next special guest star in a never ending series of backpackers, rastafarians, students and surfers.

It's true that when everything feels like the movies, you bleed just to know you're alive. Sometimes things just didn't seem real, like at any second I would wake up in Astoria reeking of pickle martinis, blackberry in hand. But every time I hit my leg on an exposed pipe, scratched my many mosquito bites into scabs or got stung by a jelly fish my mind snapped back to reality and allowed me to live in the moment.

I'm so glad I went.

This blog is dedicated to Martin, my newest blog fan who has been anxiously awaiting a list of the following songs:

(thanks to all my fellow montanita spanish school friends who have helped me add to it!)

1. Verano Azul- Juan Magan
2. Magalenha -sergio/mendez
3. Rap Das Armas(Parapapapa)- Cidinho & Doca
4. Stereo Love/Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina
5. Memories - David Guetta f/ Kid Cudi
6. Chinguele - esquadron 138
7. que tengo que hacer - omega
8. Pose - daddy yankee
9. Rise Up - Yves LaRock
10. Calabria - Enur feat. Natasja
11. Calle Ocho - Pitbull
12. Comenza el Bayu - Don Omar
13. Sexy Bitch - David Guetta ft. Akon (thnx Martin!)
14. Na de Na - chris and angel
15. Virtual Diva - Don Omar
16. La Gota Fria - Carlos Vives
17. Can't Stop - Noel G f/ Adam Joseph
18. Waka, Waka (esto es Africa)- Shakira
19. Hotel Room Service - Pitbull
20. Mi nina bonita - Chino y Nacho (dance mix invierno 2010)
21. Shut it down - Pitbull ft Akon
22. Llamdo de Emergencia - Daddy Yankee
23. Te Amo - Makano

this is what ladies night sounds like... Courtesy of Martin ;) !

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Prelude to a Trip

I'm freakin out man!
The experience I'm about to embark on has caused the anxiety demons I used to struggle with to stir. In order to quell my fears and better prepare myself for the trip, I've been reading the travel blogs of those who have gone to Montanita Spanish school before me. Unfortunately, the memoirs of travelers past all confirmed my biggest worries: Loud noises will keep me from getting a decent nights sleep, I will most likely get food poisoning, and hot surfer boys will be going at great lengths to win my heart. Woe is me.

To others it may seem that I have a devil may care attitude about heading out alone to a foreign land. But honestly, I'm more nervous than I am excited right now. Reasons? I am a light sleeper and solid shuteye isn't possible where I'm headed. Sleep deprivation makes me sick. The thought of being sick or hurt far from home petrifies me. What if someone steals my belongings while I'm in the hospital? How can I deal with that? One way is to drink. If I choose to cope that way, I'm headed to the right place.

Apparently, Montanita Beach is the Miami of Ecuador. Citizens of the country flock to the town on the weekends to fiesta 48 hours straight. Friday afternoon, stands set up in an alley lovingly nicknamed “calle cocktail.” Lucky for the vendors, a beer olympic champion is about to arrive.

I must keep my eyes on the prize though and not forget the reason I decided to finally jump head first into this adventure. If I wanted to drink all summer long and recline in the sun I would have got a stress free share at the Jersey Shore. But my goal is to finally be fluent in Spanish. I believe the skill will give me the edge in the job hunt. I also enjoy the respect I get at Casa del Pan when I order pan de queso blanco en Espanol.

However, before I get to learning and lusching, I have unfinished business to attend to here. Bills to pay and memberships to freeze. My cobra expires the day after I get back from the Galapagos. I need to find healthcare stat. What if I hop off the plane and one of my teeth go flying out? It's happened before and it nearly drained my savings account.

And the money thing in general... it's been flying out the window lately. Bug repellent, hiking shoes, charcoal pills and suntan lotion all add up. It's ironic that I can take a trip like this because I don't have a permanent full time job. But because I don't have a permanent full time job, it's hard to relax and buy the things I need to enjoy it. When I return to America, I'm going back to being the cheapest recessionista in town. Guard your bread Cosi, I'll be sticking my hands in your freshly filled, free bread basket before you know it.

Volcanos erupting, thunderstorms causing flooding, shark attacks, theft and health insurance. Many things are weighing on me right now and the stress of trying to deal with them all at once is keeping me up at night.

In order to prevent my anxiety disorder from ruining my educational safari, I've opted to channel my inner Jack Shepard, letting the demons in for five agonizing seconds and allowing them to take over. By the fifth count, my fear has diminished and I start making a to do list. Writing each individual task rather than trying to attack it all at once reminds me to drink the world in one day at a time. Life is one crazy cocktail.  Enjoy responsibly.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Evolution of Cara

I was standing on a crowded train stalled somewhere under the East River at a quarter past midnight on a Wednesday. Since my mp3 player battery was dead I had no choice but listen to two female strangers strike up a conversation. “I'm kinda awesome one said to the other.” The other quickly replied "yes man sir" in an phony southern accent so vexing that it would have caused Emily, my favorite Texan to scream “get AIDS!” had she been there. When the train suddenly jolted out of it's brief slumber the two hipster rejects continued trying to prove who was the funnier one by making goofy faces learned in their respective level 1 improv classes.

After one of them lifted an eyebrow while saying “did you just hear that awesome thing I said? boom that just happened,” I almost snapped. But luckily, their exchange was cut short when a voice from the back of the car yelled, “are you ready for this?”

When the bass kicked in a second later and a double jointed break-dancer started pop 'n locking next to me I realized the answer was yes, yes I am ready for this - this being the chance to flee the city during one of it's hottest months and finally go through with the Spanish/surfing immersion program I've been dreaming of since being laid of from MTV and traveling around Costa Rica on my own.

I remember thinking, "I wish I could stay longer but I need to be back in NYC to start searching for work." It took 6 months to find something long term. Had I known then what I know now, I would have used my severance to stick around the country and study Spanish.

In four days I will be unemployed again. My current casting gig has a built in 2 month unpaid hiatus. Therefore, I could either A. sit around trying to find work during that time or B. use the opportunity to become bilingual.

Luckily, I have enough money saved (my accountant is amazing) to escape NYC's trademark smell of day old garbage and sidewalk pee simmering in the sun to choose option B.

The scary part is that two months from now I may be living on free samples at Fairway once again. Being asked back for the second half of the What Not to Wear season is not guaranteed, so I shouldn't expect to be working soon after I return. In television, there are a million reasons as to why you might not be asked back after a hiatus. It's nothing personal, it's just business.

Wondering if in the long run, spending my entire tax return on this little adventure was a wise move I checked in with my Bubby and Pop to get their 92 year old perspective on the situation. They said “go for it blondie.” My bubby added that my great grandmother Eve (who I was named after in Hebrew) would have approved since one of her motto's was “Save a little, spend a little.”

So I'm spending, nay, I am INVESTING in a journey that will result in me being a tan, bilingual surfer chick. I can't wait to see the Galapagos Island and witness first hand how animals had to evolve in order to survive. As someone who had to adapt to the rapidly changing TV industry's needs in order to get a job, I can relate.

Hopefully when I return I'll be asked back to WNTW. The travel is fun and my co-workers rock. I also feel amazing when I see the “afters” of people I've cast. The show is like one big mitzvah. For me, the catered breakfast and lunches are icing on the cake.

However, if I find myself job hunting again sooner than expected, at least this time around my resume will have one more valuable skill on it – Bilingual in English and Spanish. So, to everyone who saw the pink slip in my hand and told me “everything happens for a reason,” you were right. If I hadn't been laid off over a year and a half ago, all my travels, invaluable language/camera/editing skills and this blog would have never happened.

In case you are curious, this is the program I am enrolling in –, and this is the boat I'll be taking around the Galapagos Islands

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ring the Alarm

If I thought my hotel would catch fire at 3:30am on a Monday morning I would have taken a few seconds before nodding off to do things differently. Because when an alarm goes off in the middle of the night and a voice over a loudspeaker tells you to immediately make your way over to the closest emergency exit, your mind tends to quickly fog up like a windshield at a drive in.

So, to prove that not all Phillies fans are vomit spewing assholes, I would like to take a moment to channel my inner Fire Martial Bill and offer some info that may one day save your life. - that was my situation.

From My Own Experience:
* If you sleep sans clothing, keep an outfit close by your bed that you can jump into quickly.
* Avoid wasting precious minutes searching for you cell under your bed. Keep your essentials (wallet, blackberry, room key) in one bag that you can easily grab and run with.
* Going down 13 flights of smoky stairs will make you feel ill. Wet a washcloth or something similar to keep the toxic fumes from getting into your lungs.
* Don't be that guy who risks a domino effect of people falling down the stairs by bringing your hastily packed, oversized luggage along with you. I'm so sure those Tommy Bahamas boardshorts are worth more than my life... jerk.

Expert Advice:
* On the back of your room door there is a fire evacuation plan. Make sure you locate the two exits near your room.
* No matter how high up your room is, always use a stairwell, never take the elevator.
* If the fire is not in your room, leave if it is safe to do so. Be sure to take your room key with you in case fire blocks your escape and you need to re-enter your room.
*To check the hallway for fire, touch the door with the back of your hand to test the temperature. If the door is cool, get low to the floor, brace your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. Be ready to close it quickly if there are flames on the other side. Crawl low in the smoke to the nearest exit; the freshest air is near the floor.
*If your room door is hot, do not open it. Instead, seal the door with wet towels or sheets. Turn off the fans and air conditioners. Call the fire department to give your location. Signal from your window.

Luckily the fire at my hotel could have been a whole lot worse, a fact which makes me appreciate my life a little bit more. Hope you are never in that situation, but if you do find yourself waking up to an emergency, try to keep focused and stay safe!

I would like to dedicate this blog to the W rooftop bartenders who are out of work till the beach bar is back up and running in full force.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fight the Powder!

Snow days. A chance to sit back with hot cocoa and watch white flakes fall to the ground, blanketing the landscape outside your bedroom window.

But beware of wishing for a big bad blizzard. Much like a wolf in sheep's clothing, those things are not as serene as they may seem. Those peaceful looking drifts are dangerous and crippling to the fragile economy around you.

So rather than lazily work from home during Snowpocalypse 2010, I put on my boots and braved Arctic winds in order to get to my office.

Why did I risk falling on black ice? Because I'm lucky enough to have a job. A really cool one at that. Long gone are the days when I thought a whiteout just meant things came to a stop so I could go sledding. Post-layoff I'm much more sensitive to the long term effects of a frozen economy. Here's to hoping it thaws out soon.

Speaking of employment, it's shameless Casting Plug Time!


Citizens of Nashville, San Diego, Houston, New York tri state area, D.C. and Omaha, lend me your eyes! I am looking for people to SECRETLY nominate a friend, family-member or co-worker who is DESERVING of a COMPLETE FASHION MAKEOVER!

If you know someone whose wardrobe is outright unflattering, scary, skimpy, outdated, too tight, wacky, or just plain terrible...I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Candidates will receive a trip to New York City where they will receive $5,000 in clothing, shoes and accessories as well as a complete hair and make-up transformation.

To nominate a deserving female, please submit the following:

We need AT LEAST 2 pictures of her that show her bad style and the following information to either


Include your info, your name, phone number and relation to the nominee!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Puddle's a Doozy

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered? It really could happen. Just ask an unemployed person.

When you don't have a boss to report to or clients to please, your life begins to feel meaningless. You could try to be productive by searching want ads and sending your resume out into the black hole that is the Internet. But usually that just results in feeling like an alienated failure.

Each passing day gets to feel exactly the same, the only distinguishable difference being a greater sense of restlessness and frustration. So, you could exacerbate the situation by sleeping in and then spend the rest of the day mixing beer and wine on the couch. Or, you can treat unemployment like a unique opportunity that only 10% of Americans are currently allowed to experience.

For inspiration on what to do, watch Groundhog Day. Phil Connors had a similar dilemma. When he realized he was forced to repeat Febuary 2nd over and over again, he took full advantage the wrong way – eating junk food, robbing banks and driving on train tracks. It was all fun, but it wasn't helping him graduate to Feb 3rd.

Bummed out and bored, he took the advice of Rita, his sweet vermouth on the rocks (with a twist) drinking love interest. She advised him to stop wasting time on things that could bring him pleasure in the now and begin to use each, (umm new?) day as an opportunity to improve himself. What I admire about Phil is that he took Rita's advice to the next level, using the repeating day to help the people around him as well.

Alas, in the real world you can only have fun or wallow in misery for so long. Eventually unemployment runs out and you're going to have to get a job. So after the initial shock phase of your lay off is over, it's important to start doing something productive with your time other than job hunting.

I'm writing this right now because I have a confession to make. I've been in unemployment denial. I refuse to accept the situation I may have gotten myself into (pleeease pull through for me Beeb, please!). Until this morning when I woke up early to take a spin class, I have been incredibly unproductive. Cleaning my room out Monday and filling two laundry bags full of clothes for poor Africans has been the only thing that I have done. Those bags are still sitting in my living room, much to the dismay of my roommate.

Wanna guess what unremunerative things I have actually been up to for the past few days? Have I been doing crossword puzzles while my friend bar tends? Bing! Have I been stalking you on Facebook? Bing! Have I been watching old Lost episodes nonstop? Bing again!

None of these things have been of help to me or anybody else in the world. Unless I want to start blogging for darkufo, there is no reason for me to waste 8 hours a day researching my theories about Lost. But seriously though, why was Jack's neck bleeding?

I promise to put down the remote, shut my laptop and take these bags to Times Square today in addition to a few other bags my charitable friends have been kind enough to donate. On the train to Times Square I'm going to review some Spanish Flash cards. 19th century French poetry isn't my thing, but I consider becoming bilingual to be one of the best things I can do right now to improve myself.

I'm not in a rush to learn how to perform back surgery anytime soon (sorry Locke) but I can google places to refresh my CPR skills at for free. There are a ton of things you can take part in that will take your mind off an unsuccessful or stressful job hunt. Just think about what you can do - finding free cooking classes, attending free lectures or volunteering at an animal shelter - to feel like you have done something today. Make a list and actually follow through with it so you are ready to tackle something new tomorrow. This goes for people with jobs too.

People do place too much emphasis on their careers. And unemployment can seem like a long winter in that career - "bleak and dark and bereft of hope." But there is always something you can do to make your world a better place come spring. It would be nice if we could all live in the mountains at high altitude. But that's not where I see myself in five years. How about you?

*Dedicating this blog to Jen in honor of our Punxsutawney escapade through the frozen Pennsylvanian tundra. Oh, and Amy for letting me sit there drinking beer samples and seltzer while doing sudoku and crossword puzzles.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Time to Donate!

Everything about laundry puts me in a bad mood. Throwing it in the hamper, hauling it to the laundromat, folding, sorting, putting it all back in my dresser... you get the point.

While trying to stuff gym shirts into a drawer today I had a thought: I have way too many workout shirts for someone who at best makes it to the gym 5 times a week.

So I dug out all my clothes, threw them on the beast (my over-sized bed) and sorted my wardrobe out, putting everything I haven't worn in years to the side.

3 bags full of shirts later, I asked my roommate if the hotel she is a manager at had any clothing drives going on for her co-worker's family in Haiti. Turns out there isn't anything going on at the Doubltree Hotel to help Haiti, but there is another co-worker of her's who always takes donated clothes with her on trips back to her impoverished hometown in Africa. She goes there several times a year.

It's frigid outside guys. You might as well stay in and assess what's in your closet. If you have a few things you don't want anymore and you don't have the time to bring them to some sort of red cross or homeless shelter, take them to work with you.

I will use my unlimited metrocard to ride around the city, pick up your unwanted items and take them back to the Times Square Doubletree. I can't give you $5,000 and a makeover in exchange for your things, but I can promise you will feel better about yourself on the inside.

If you realize just how heinous your fashion sense is, get a friend to nominate you for What Not to Wear. Hopefully I'll be able to cast you someday. If not, I'll settle for just taking your clothing castoffs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Connecting the Dots

For the first time in a long time, Sunday has that strange hollow feel to it.

While the absence of football is certainly adding to the emptiness I'm feeling right now, it's a return to unemployment that's mostly at fault.

Almost two weeks ago, What Not to Wear offered me a job as Casting Producer that seemed too good to be true. I was worried that I would have to leave my job at Discovery without notice, burning bridges in order to take it. Luckily, I was able to give my 1 week notice to an understanding production staff. Unluckily, WNTW is still waiting for budget approval and has yet to establish a start date for me. I'm kind of worried that there may never be one.

I thought I had caught a break last Thursday when mtvU called me out of the blue with gig for this week. But before I could breathe a sigh of relief I was told there still wasn't a definite start date to that project either. Why? You guessed it, budget approval.

TV Production... it's an uncertain, competitive world full of "hurry up and wait."

So why would I leave my rewarding, long-term freelance position for another one that wasn't 100% during a recession a year after being laid off? Because being laid off isn’t like getting chicken pox. Getting downsized once doesn’t give you immunity to being downsized again down the road. It's important to always look out for #1 and grab opportunities that will help you network and grow professionally. For me, casting WNTW is one of those opportunities.

Vicki Salemi, one of the many talented people I met while networking in the 405 club, wrote a book that I'm mentioned in titled "Big Career in the Big City." I read the advanced copy and found it to be full of good advice for both newcomers to NYC and unemployed veterans alike. The book contained one quote in particular that eased my mind on this uncertain Sunday:

"You can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever--because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference."

That little gem was a part of Steve Job's commencement speech to Stanford's class of '04.

I'm sure something equally awesome was said at my own graduation, but Bobbie Jo Solomon, the Blue Sapphire, was sitting next to me. Needless to say I was too excited to listen to what whoever was speaking was saying. I was focused on Bobbie Jo, hoping that she would pull three batons out of her gown, light them on fire and start doing toss cartwheels down the aisle.

Before that graduation day rolled around I had already prepared myself mentally for the real world by memorizing Conan O'Brien's commencement speech to the Harvard class of 2000. Conan's story helped me to stay positive during my own rocky start in the entertainment industry. His last words on the Tonight Show were equally inspiring and are helping me deal with the situation I've gotten myself into right now. "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

The calls I have been getting over the past few weeks have proved that statement to be true. I'm glad to know that there are people out there who know what a driven, dedicated team player I am. I still have a long career ahead of me though, and I can't wait to one day look back at all the connected dots and see the big picture.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Wild Thing

Those who watch sports know all about the madness that ensues right before the playoffs. There are many situations in which a team can either get into the post-season or blow all their hard work for the year.

Right now, I’m hoping I don’t ruin what I have worked so hard for all year (à la Eagles) by clinching a berth into 8 months of employment.

Yesterday, out of the blue, the BBC called, wanting to draft me onto What Not to Wear. The Exec in Charge of Production loved my go-getter style and recommended me for the casting producer position. The job would be a great opportunity for growth - I would get to travel around the country and learn how to edit the casting tapes I produce.

That noise you just heard was my mother screaming – she has been begging me to cast her on that show since my first TLC gig in ‘05. You can’t have your Boyd’s and get Stacy too mom… sorry.

Anyway, here is the problem: I’m already employed. I’ve been working on a new show for the Discovery Channel since my last gig at the BBC ended in October. How did I get it? The casting director/boss I have now was the casting director/boss I had on my last show. Since she brought me with her to the Discovery Channel, I feel a sense of loyalty towards her and don’t want to burn any bridges.

I would love to give my boss two weeks notice, but the BBC doesn't know when production will start. If they start Monday I would have to be in the office for What Not to Wear starting my digital outreach. The only way to know if I could leave this job and start the new one so quickly would be to ask, guaranteeing that next week would be my last week at Discovery. I wouldn't blame them - would you want to keep a free agent on board if they have showed they were making a move somewhere else?

So how will this all play out? I’ve come up with four possible scenarios:

Scenario 1 – My boss is understanding of my situation and let’s me take job immediately. I keep one job.
Scenario 2- I play it safe and don’t tell my boss I ever thought about leaving. I keep one job.
Scenario 3 – My boss makes me wait a week to leave. This defensive holding eliminates my ability to work on WNTW. I loose both jobs.
Scenario 4 – My boss lets me go, but wildcard TLC decides they don’t want the BBC to produce the show for them. I loose both jobs.

Giving in my resignation without knowing the start date on What Not to Wear would be like throwing a Hail Mary. If I hesitate too long or make the wrong decision, I'm going to be sacked. Right now I’m leaning towards taking a chance on scenario 1, but am intentionally grounding my resignation till this afternoon, hoping that the BBC gets back to me with a start date. I'm pretty sure there will be a penalty for that.

It’s funny that the boss who told me about Saturn Return had me looking to the stars for my answer, because this is what I found.

“The presence of Venus in Aquarius means that relationships with co-workers should improve. There is plenty of opportunity to negotiate at all levels. You may have been offered a new contract, or discovered that one ongoing effort had to be cancelled. Whatever the scenario, the changes taking place are encouraging you to move ahead with your career and not to stay stuck in a rut. The cosmos is pushing you to step out into the unknown and expand your horizons.”

Two minute warning coach.... the clock is ticking down and I need to make a decision. What's your call?

(situation 5- boss reads this...)

*This blog is dedicated to all my friends at Conan who took a risk, Rory who encouraged me to use my blog as something to fall back on, and my pop who get's out of heart surgery today. I know he'll have some great depression era advice for me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The season of giving is finally upon us. The last time I was unemployed during this time of year was in the fall of 06’. I was supposed to be the host’s assistant on a reality show in Fiji. The plan was for me to arrive mid-November in LA, get my shots, prep the host and 3 days later depart for the South Pacific.

Unfortunately, due to a Fijian coup d'état the show was put on hold indefinitely and I was stuck in LA, fully vaccinated with zero income and a rental car. Thanks to the kindness of the freegans who took me in until the show's fate was decided I was able to remain on the west coast, well fed (that’s a whole other story) with a roof over my head.

When my straight edge hosts realized that I had nowhere to go on my first Thanksgiving away from my family they invited me to their friends mom’s house. There was just one condition – I couldn’t say anything about the pictures of John Candy everywhere.

Um… what?

Turns out Rose Candy, John Candy’s widow invites all the friends of her son and daughter to come over and celebrate American Thanksgiving with them (they are from the Great White North, our Thanksgiving is like any other Thursday to them).

When I showed up on 2 hours notice, Rose opened the large heavy oak doors to her Beverly Hills mansion, gave me a kiss on the cheek and welcomed me into her home with a sincere hug.

The mixed group of 20-something vegans, vegetarians and carnivores that filled her kitchen was dubbed “Rose Candy and the LA Orphans” by one of the 15 other guests. Rose cooked a wide variety of mouth-watering food to accommodate us all.

As the speed at which we shoveled the food into our mouths slowed down and pant buttons were surreptitiously undone, the conversation turned to the man who was responsible for buying the house we were all sitting in.

Rose and her kids Chris and Jen told tales about John Candy. Their stories weren't about red carpets and name dropping. They were about a husband and father who liked to tell jokes and take his family on road trips. It was all really touching and made me eager to head home and give my own dad a hug.

The only thing that was really "Hollywood" about the whole experience was eating dessert with my feet in a hot tub, 50 feet from the Olsen Family’s mansion (one of the twins has been obsessed with me ever since), overlooking downtown LA.

I’m grateful that this Thursday I will get to spend Thanksgiving in Philly and witness how much my cousins’ kids have grown up. I’m grateful that my parents, aunts and uncles will all be surrounding me too, not judging me for filling my plate with both dark meat and tofurky.

Finally, I am grateful to you for reading this right now. Every time someone new tells me they love my blog it makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for those who feel they are alone in their unemployment situation. It's kind of like what Rose Candy did by treating 15 lonesome strangers as if they were family on a night they needed it most.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm one of You now.

Did i want it? NO. Did I need it YES.

To all the Blackberry and IPhone toting people out there, I did not want to be a part of your world. Sure I wanted to ask you for directions on how to get from A to B or what the name of that old Dave Coulier show was from time to time (Cut-It-Out!), but I didn't want one permanently glued to my palm.

But then my lack of ability to open up email attachments and Google on the go threatened my new freelance job only two days in. While my associates could freely roam the streets with their hand held devices, (we are scouting businesses in need of renovation assistance), I was tied to my computer. I didn't want to carry around my expensive laptop in a rainy Nor'easter so I had to keep running home to stay in the loop and avoid costly pit stops at internet cafes. As a result I kept falling behind on my work.

Faced with potentially loosing a long term gig (16 weeks!), I knew my wireless plan needed an upgrade. Before investing in a smartphone of sorts I threw my dilemma out there to all my smart people to see which type I should get. Thank you again for all your input by the way. Since I needed to open attachments more than I wanted to Shazam, I decided to go with the blackberry.

Right before opening the doors to the Verizon store I paused with my hand clenched tightly around my wallet. $30 more a month just for service? Really? The reality was that I could spend extra money in order potentially make more money or I could live frugally like a detached hermit. Hermits don't have jobs to my knowledge. So I opened the door and walked in...

I think a big part of being unemployed is learning how to distinguish your wants from your needs. My steady paycheck enabled me to indulge in all my ($10 pinkberry) wants. When my severance pay stopped I barely had enough to support my basic needs. As my savings account began to dwindle, spending cash on anything not necessary for survival gave me a huge sense of guilt. Getting an I-Phone just to find out where I was (it's hard to get lost while blogging on my bed) was out of the question.

Long gone are the days when clunky Zac Morris phones were considered a luxury item. The newest models are now a necessity in order to compete with the best in a time when jobs are few and far between. So I got a one, and yes, it does like to accidentally dial all the wrong people.

I'm proud to have matured from being a Pinkberry addict to Blackberry addict. Pricey frozen yogurt is still ok for me to splurge on every now and then. But by limiting myself to just one Pinkberry trip a month SHAZAM! - I am able to invest in something that will give me an edge. Totally worth it.

Now send me your bbm pin #'s!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Causes for a Celebration

Birthday Wish List:
*Headphones that don't break after 2 months
*A hug from my little brother half a world away
*Cupcakes with zero calories
*A weeks rest followed by another job.
*Facebook birthday appreciation - (check!)

Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone! It means so much - and if you are reading this, it means even more because you are probably one of my blog readers who have shared in my hectic journey over the past year.

This time last 9/10 I was alone on a shaky plane coming back from a casting scout in Arizona. Little did I know about the real turbulence looming in my life.

Now that I'm about to be unemployed again I will have plenty of time to organize a party. Mark your calendars - it will take place December 4th, somewhere in NYC.

Date sound familiar? 12/4/08 was the day I was laid off from mtvU last year, kicking off my Saturn Return and making me a much stronger person with a longer resume and High Def shooting skills to top it all off. I would say that it is something to celebrate.

Also, in honor of my quest to be trilingual, the party's theme will be "Cara's Bat Mizvah's Quinceañera". So everyone, wear your favorite bar/bat mitzvah t-shirt (if you don't have one, I still have extras from mine to give out) and get ready to party like an animal.

I may also be departing for a trip to South America for a surfing/Spanish immersion course soon after the party, and I hope to see you all before I salir de NYC.

That all being said - see you at my 3 month belated birthday, 1 year laid off anniversary, Bat Mitzvah's Quincienera and possibly going away party. Don't forget your shirt!

And again, thank you so much for the birthday wishes and blog reading!


Monday, September 7, 2009


My job is ending this week and I neglected to plan accordingly. Damn denial.

12 weeks of working like a mad woman deluded me into thinking that I was back to the good old days of steady paychecks and personal trainers. So instead of heeding my own advice of packing my lunch I was getting gourmet takeout and Pumpkin Spice Lattes (they're back!). My new dirty martini addiction hasn't helped to pad my wallet for the rainy days ahead either.

Considering I was casting women in debt, I really should have known better.

My upcoming unemployment is nobodies fault but my own. I was turning down jobs left and right during my gig at the BBC thinking things would keep coming my way the second it ended. I was looking forward to enjoying time off after working so hard and was planning a vacation instead of polishing my resume and letting my old contacts know I was available. On a related note, old contacts who may be reading this - I'm available.

I'm also turning 28 years old this week. According to my boss, my birthday is the root of all my problems. She enlightened me to the fact that I'm entering the Saturn Return.

Saturn Return is an astrological phenomenon that occurs between the ages of 28-30, as Saturn "returns" to the spot it occupied at the time of ones birth. During the Return, a person supposedly crosses over a major threshold into the next stage of life.

Threshold crossing isn't easy. According to my research, the first return is a tumultuous time of self-questioning where job loss is common. Considering the fact that the blog you are currently reading is called "My Unemployment," the cosmic theory seems to hold water.

Saturn Return has also been known to help people better identify what it is they want to do with their lives, often causing a switch in careers. This has been true for people like my friends Danno, Veeder, Beth, Genshaft, Stacey and Vincent Van Gogh.

Still with me on all this? Cause there is more. Not only am I entering Saturn Return, but Saturn is also currently in Virgo (my sign). This means that until July 21st, 2010, cosmic forces are REALLY causing me to buckle down and get serious about one thing.

But do I really need to settle down into one career in order to "grow up"? Can't I be a tri-lingual travel writer who casts shows too? I don't want to risk falling victim to a self-fulfilling prophecy by getting that answer from a horoscope. So rather than try to tap the universe for answers I will just listen to my heart.

As of now I have no idea where my next paycheck will come from. Hopefully that won't cause me to panic and choose a path that will lead to misery. However, if the Saturn Return theory proves legit I will finally be able to identify and nurture my natural strengths; bringing out the best in my career and most importantly, myself.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Murphy's Law, Miley's Song

This time was supposed to be different. I knew I was facing inevitable unemployment. Only this time, I was looking forward it.

Not only was I welcoming it with open arms, I was plotting a relaxing mini surfing escape to enjoy after it occurred. Then the unexpected happened – we were faced with the threat of shutting down a month early. After our first cast dropped out last minute, the casting department was told that if we didn't produce a new nuclear family to replace the other in one week, production on the show would cease.


That would definitely put a damper on my relaxing plans. Especially since I still have a bunch of wedding party expenses to pay for.

Fortunately, unlike the last time, this time I could actually help to prevent the lay off. If I worked smarter (AND harder), finding more outgoing ladies in debt with eager to help out parents I could continue planning the mini surf vacation I had been working so hard on earning.

But in order to fulfill my goal of paddling into the ocean, I have to first battle the waves at work. New deadlines keep rushing towards me one after the other. There is no time to rest. Because for every 50 girls that don't work out 1 will. If I actually set up an appointment to meet someone in person, it means that they have impressed me enough to work a full 13 hour day. Believe it or not- those are actually the days I love laboring through the most.

What I'm doing on a daily basis is finding/asking girls and their family members to put their situation out there just like I am now, but on national television. I understand that isn't an easy thing to do and hope that by being on the show, they can get the same positive feedback from girls in debt that I have received from people out of work. I also genuinely want them to get out of debt. Debt blows.

Hard to cast shows like this are a time consuming challenge and I haven't worked with any of the production team members before. Those were the reasons that I picked this job over the other ones suddenly offered to me over a month ago. Professionally this is just what I needed – an environment where I would be able to improve my basic camera skills while demonstrating my rock star work ethic to new contacts. So far my rusty skills have been brushed off and tested, brutally criticized, then tested again. A lot of extra dirty martinis have been drank along the way.

My theme songs are currently a mix of “The Climb,”and the WOO! Song, Infinity (happy birthday Courtney!). On another random note, I have no idea where the time goes when I'm casting. One minute it's 4:30 and the next it's 7:10. All I can do is hope that I have something to show for those few hours.

But here is the thing- I have a job. And despite the crazy stress, this is what I have been fighting for. No matter how hard work gets, at least I have something to work on. I can't complain or give up, because if I stop trying then the show will be pulled due to a lack of cast, and then about 100 people will loose their jobs. That would suck.

So I need to keep riding these challenging times out like a Maverick. Because when it's over this time around I want it to be on MY terms. This way, I will once again feel like I earned a vacation... otherwise known (by freelancers) as unemployment.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feast or Famine

Having only a few short gigs spanned over 6 months and then finally landing a longer term job is like starving yourself all day for Yom Kippur and then pigging out to break the fast. You do a lot of soul searching and complaining while you are starving for something, and subsequently pig out as soon as you get to the feast. Then you kvetch about how stuffed you are.

Feast I did my friends - in more ways than one. Donuts, bagels, chips and cupcakes runneth free at the BBC. And as soon as my mission was established (finding ladies in debt) I devoured it. Constantly hungry for my next big lead, I've worked 10 hour days for more than two weeks straight.

Am I almost burned out? Not yet. But I need to watch myself. I've been down this road before. I believe my record is 6 weeks straight working at the casting career bootcamp which is Wife Swap. Meet or Delete and Engine Room weren't much better (time commitment wise). But my hard work resulted in talented kids getting some exposure while uniting them with other amazing peers from around the world. How can you regret that?

I can't get sick though, because I have a mission to complete. And in 5 weeks, it's back to my unemployment.

I think the show I'm working on now will do some good. I believe I will actually be helping these girls get out of debt while doing some family bonding on the side. Yes I drank the Kool Aide. I know what's in there, I spiked it myself. Tastes like victory and chopped gala apples.

On days that I am ready to quit early, I think of all the people who are unemployed and would kill to be in my position. Then I pick up the phone and call one more newspaper to get my press release turned into an actual story to attract new candidates.

Financial lessons learned from my unemployment have regrettably not stuck with me. This is ironic considering the subject of the show I'm casting. I've slipped back into the $15 lunch habit. I'm also shopping and actually keeping the goods, rather than shamefully returning them soon after. This needs to change. It's increasing my belly while decreasing my checking account.

Unfortunately, the frustrated place I was at in my life 3 weeks ago seems distant, and it's hard to draw from my past experience when it seems like what I went through was just a dream. Surely I can buy low-fat vegan banana brownies for $2.50 a day and it won't matter right?


What lies for me come September is uncertain (my turning 28 and watching lots of college football aside). I have no idea when my next gig will come around after this one ends. I could very easily be in the boat of the girls I am casting if an emergency occurs, or if I'm asked to be a bridesmaid in another wedding. All that I can count on right now is myself, doing the best I can do, to cast this show the best that I possibly can.

My new schedule of waking up at 7am to squeeze in a workout in a futile attempt to counter the free carbs stalking me in the office pantry has left me exhausted. But I still wanted to put my new thoughts out there. The times I work are just as important as the times I spend in the job hunt. And so, I write.

Thanks for the push Ben!