Scars, Jobs, and Underpants

SCARS: My stitches are out! Of course, the wounds still look kind of angry. But I did get hearty kudos at the dermatologist’s office — they said I’d done a great job with my wound care, and had kept everything (everyone’s favorite word) moist. The stitches came right out, smooth as silk.

All that for a little mole. Seems a bit drastic!

The good dermatological news is that on all three things that were excised, the margins are clear — they got the whole mole out on all of them. I go back in three months for another lookie-loo, then settle into an every-six-months visiting schedule. Most people go once a year, but because I’m so massively freckled, I get to be part of the more frequent group.

Please note that the dermatologist’s office won’t “except” bills larger than a $20. With picture, in case you’re not sure which one is the $20. I was excited to find an except/accept gaffe, because they’re one of the more rare homophone mixups. (Are they really homophones, though? I pronounce them slightly differently.)

JOBS: It’s still kind of amazing to me how many places I applied to that haven’t said one peep to me. I’m sure they get tons of applicants, but even a quick e-mailed “Thanks but no thanks” (like I just got from Best Buy, to whom I applied 3 months ago) would be nice. I mentioned earlier a “working interview” I did at a vet clinic, wherein a woman brought in her deceased pet and called us all motherflippin’ beaches. Only she wasn’t that coy with the cusswords. Anyhoo, they never called me back with a yea or nay. Seriously, there were probably only a scant few people who went in for their half-day interview process; why not a word back?

This is my last glorious weekend of unemployment. On Monday I go in for orientation at my new Disney job. I’m scared and excited at the same time. This is going to be very different from the rest of my Disney experience — entertainment is such a separate beast from everything else. But I can’t wait to get into the front lines, actually talking with guests directly, going by my own name (And wearing my name tag for the first time!), and helping make the guests’ vacations better.

The hardest thing is finding shoes. Disney is very strict about footwear — my job requires “dress shoes”, black, polishable (no suede or stretch), no contrasting or decorative stitching, and no decorations (buckles, buttons, bows). You try to find shoes that meet those requirements. Not that easy! Every pair of plain flat mary-janes seems to have white stitching, or a big button or buckle on the side. I did find a pair that I think will work; they’re a little pricier than I’d hoped, but I have to remember that when you’re on your feet all day, good shoes are an investment.

UNDERPANTS: Those cold-hearted jerks at Victoria’s Secret have stopped carrying the hipsters I liked. Besides which, their entire underpant focus these days seems to be on being “cheeky”, which appears to mean showing the bottom edges of your butt. Which strikes me as damned uncomfortable. Exhibit A:

In what universe is that full coverage? Look at how much cheekbottom is showing! Even on that model, with her model-sized butt! That thing would practically be a thong on me.

So on a whim, and because they were having the same 7-for-$25 deal that VS often has on their underdrawers, I stopped in at Aerie. It’s part of the American Eagle family, and I used to think it was just for the young people. BUT NO! Not only do they have a great selection of undershorts with great ass-coverage, but they also are my new brassiere purveyor of choice.

Usually at VS, there are two models of bra that come in my “weird” size. Which is 32C (if you’re a 32 band, they expect you to only have size A or B boobs). That’s two models out of the what, 40 or 50 in the store. But at Aerie, they had eight models of non-pushup for me to choose from in my size. Add in pushup and other styles, and I could have chosen from 15 brassieres. They fit great, and cost less than VS.

Aerie is, right now, doing their 7 for $25.50 sale both online and in-store. So if you’re blessed with a junk-rich trunk, check out their boyshorts and boybriefs. Although I can’t imagine any boy or man I’ve ever met wearing underthings the shape of any “boyshort” I’ve ever seen.

A Labyrinth in My Head

Medical update time! To put it simply, my left saccule is wack. Ooh, that sounds dirty!

I went to the ear-nose-throat doctor today for two tests, wherein they checked the functions of my inner ear. One of them was not so bad; the other one sucked rocks. For both, the administrator was pleasant enough, but had me put my purse so far away that I couldn’t grab my phone to take pictures. Which is a shame, because they both involved some goofy stuff attached to my face.

The not-so-bad test was a Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP) test. I had electrodes stuck to my head — one in the center of my forehead, and one on each side of my neck, just under the ear. I got earplugs put in, then I had to hold my head up and to the side (while lying down) as they broadcast a series of really loud clicks into each ear. You never realize how heavy your head is until you have to hold it up like that. My neck muscles got a great workout.

Off we went to another room for the second (rock-sucking) test: videonystagmography. I got to wear these goggles:

My left eye was free to look at stuff, while a camera recorded my right eye. I felt like a SCUBA-diving Borg.

I had to track a red dot with my eye while sitting up. Then I had to watch the red dot while shaking my head back and forth, or nodding it up and down, to a specified beat. Which got faster. And faster. And gave me a headache and an awesome case of the dizzies.

Then, I lay flat on my back, they closed the little window over my left eye so it was completely dark, then … stuck a tube in my left ear and blew cold air in. It doesn’t sound that awful, probably. But what it’s supposed to do (and totally what it did) is to make you feel (a) lightheaded, like you’re flying, and (b) like the world is spinning around you incredibly fast. I was so thrown by how violent the spinning and floating felt, I started hyperventilating and tears squirted out of my eyes. It was horribly intense. After a calm-down period, I got the cold air in the right ear (it was easier, knowing what to expect). Then the same process was done with hot air (which didn’t make me anywhere near as dizzy).

After that, I was stuffed up, headachey, and really dizzy. I sat for a while to settle down, then the doctor came by to go over the results.

Turns out the videonystagmography was perfect. My reactions to red lights and air in my ears were totally normal. But the first test, with clicking, showed exactly what the problem is.

I have Labyrinthitis, in which the saccule (the part of the inner ear that deals with gravity) in my left ear is messed up. It’s frequently caused by a virus — something as simple as a bad cold, maybe even one that I had long ago — that settles into the comfortable environs of the inner ear and hangs around to cause trouble later. I’ve been given a 3-month course of really intense antihistamines (to be taken at bedtime, since they’re a relative of Valium) which should somehow reset the gravity sensors in that ear. The doctor says that within two weeks, I should be feeling close to normal again.

The funny thing is, this also explains my hospital visit last October — the earliest signs of Labyrinthitis aren’t necessarily felt in the ear. Often the first sign is a panic attack, which can involve chest pain, hot and cold flashes, sweating, light-headedness, and a tingling sensation. It describes what I had last year perfectly. Although at the time, I never would have ever thought it was a panic attack, because I wasn’t panicking.

It’s awesome to have a doctor tell me flat-out exactly what the problem is. And since we have no idea how long this gravity-sensing problem has been hanging out in my head, after this treatment I may have an easier time on roller coasters, swings, and high-rise elevators. Fingers crossed!

Healthstuffs and Jobstuffs

I’m still currently unemployed, my friends. But good things are on the horizon!

I’ve had a number of interviews here and there, and I’ve been sitting on the waiting list at Disney since I was laid off. Incredibly, Disney is the company that’s come through first. In two weeks, I’ll be training for a part-time spot at one of the resorts. I’m still on the waitlist for full-time; hopefully it’ll come through in time for busy summer.

I’ll be on the front lines, directly helping guests, instead of my old acting job. I’m not upset about it — I know more than one actor who felt that going into a “regular” Disney job was beneath them, but I don’t feel that way. I’m excited to get the real Disney experience. I get to wear my name tag! And I get to directly help make sure that people’s vacations go well. That’s why I moved here, and that’s why I always wanted to work for Disney.

Not that I wouldn’t take an acting job if they gave me one. I know it’s something I’m good at, and that I enjoy. But no such jobs are available right now. Onward, to a new adventure.

Of the other interviews, one of them offered me a part-time job right afterward. They scheduled me to come in two days later for fingerprinting and the background check. They called the next day, saying they didn’t quite have all their ducks in a row, so I didn’t need to come in the next day, they’d call me. A few days later, I was called up again, was told that they had to go back over all of the candidates with management, and they won’t be offering me a job at this time.

On the one hand, I can understand — they most likely had too many people for the number of spots available. And while I did well at the interview, I didn’t have any prior experience in that specific field. But still, it’s not the nicest thing to offer someone a job and then do take-backsies.

Another interview was for appointment-making and front-deskery at a veterinary clinic. It was a “working interview”, in which I went in for three hours and shadowed the job itself. I learned some things about myself — number one is that I’m not a huge fan of dogs. Especially dogs in large numbers. Number two is that I’m probably too tender for such work, as evidenced by how shocked and upset I was when a woman stormed in with her dead pet in her arms, screaming obscenities at the desk staff. I don’t think I’m hard enough to deal with that now, and I don’t think I ever want to become that hard.

I have two interviews next week, including one on my birthday. Both are for more part-time stuff, which seems to be all that’s available in Orlando these days. But if I can find a way to balance two part-time gigs, that wouldn’t be too awful. Fingers crossed!

Now, onward to the health side! This time off has been a good time to tackle a couple of issues. One is a visit to the dermatologist for the full-body freckle check. I had this tiny dark spot show up on my upper arm:

Small, but much darker than my usual freckles. Of which I have a lot. Turns out this, along with an equally dark little pinpoint spot on my calf, is a “blue nevus” — a slightly abnormal mole. Nothing cancerous, just … abnormal. Both spots were shaved off, but I’m going back next week to have them both dug out a little further. This means a multi-stitch spot on my arm, which will result in what I told the dermatologist better be a “bitchin’ scar”.

Meanwhile, up in my head, something’s been amiss for a while. I’ve been having dizzy spells and occasional ringing in my ears. A few weeks ago, the dizziness kicked up a huge notch and became a daily problem. I felt roughly 5 to 10% more discombobulated than normal, with occasional surges of the world becoming disconnected from where it should be. Off to the doctor I went!

We started with a full battery of bloodwork (everything’s totally normal) and an MRI of my brain (again, nothing amiss), so now I’m working with an ear-nose-throat guy. Next week I get to go through a couple of tests to see if it’s a problem with my inner ear. There could be too much fluid, or too little, or little calcium stones in the inner ear fluid that rattle around like the marbles in a can of spray paint, causing the vertigo. The tests should be entertaining; they appear to consist of having various electrodes, goggles, and/or cameras attached to me while they wiggle me around in different positions.

I think the eyeballs are the most awesome part of the MRI images.

So it’s a busy week next week. Monday: interview. Tuesday: interview and birthday. Wednesday: ear and balance testing. Thursday: mole surgery. Friday: Brazilian steakhouse for meat orgy.

I think you can guess which one of those things I’m looking forward to the most.

Home, Work, Life

I think this item stuck to the fridge describes my January perfectly:

That’s right. The week before I lose my job, I get to go do jury duty. And it’s not even on a workday, so it’s stealing away one of my weekend days. I’ve been called for JD four times in my life, while Scott’s never been called. Where’s the fairness, I ask you?

So yeah, I’m losing my job. You may already know that the game show I host at Disney was on a three-year contract with the corporate sponsor, and that contract expires on February 5th. Right now there’s nothing else in the acting/entertainment areas available for me, so as of the 6th I’ll be unemployed. I have an appointment to interview with a casting rep, to see what other Disney jobs I might like, but that’s not until the 10th. So hopefully my unemployment period will be a short one (if you’re rehired within 30 days, you don’t lose benefits and seniority). Cross those fingers!

We’re all moved out of the old apartment, and turned in the keys yesterday.

I documented all of the clean-ness. I shouldn’t have to do that, but a previous landlord back in Seattle has made us a bit gun-shy about trusting apartment management. We’ll see if we get our deposits back — the cat deposit is pretty much toast, because of the barf stains on the carpet. Why do all cat foods have to be dyed in such crazy colors? Can’t they make cat food in the color “apartment carpet beige” so the barf is easier to clean?

Meanwhile at the new place, I was able to sit out on the deck in the mid-70s weather yesterday. (Of course, today it’s raining all day. I feel bad for the vacationers. But at least it’s mid-60s and rainy, instead of Seattle’s mid-40s and rainy.) Trouble came out to join me, while Commie just sat in the doorway and sniffed the air.

He’s still doing all right, by the way. No significant changes.

The new apartment is coming along. We still have a few boxes to unpack, but most of the boxes are empty and ready to be broken down. Wall art still needs to be hung. With luck, I’ll only have to do one day of jury duty, and can spend the next day getting most of the rest of this crap squared away.

I’m in a reading void right now — I still have a list of 10 or so books from December that I need to write up. The library warned that an address change would take a week or so, so I waited that out before ordering some new stuff. Nothing’s been delivered yet. I think on my way to work today I’ll scout out our new library building, which is apparently over on the other side of Unversal. Maybe I can pick up a couple of things there.

I’m also doing great with Gluten-Free January. I’m staying low-carb for the most part, although I’m not avoiding French fries if they come my way. I also bought a single-serve bag of these:

But haven’t eaten them yet. I’m kind of scared to. Although Archer Farms (a Target house brand) made a really kick-ass lemon-pepper potato chip a few years ago, so I should trust in their flavorings. Any snack food that needs both yellow #5 and yellow #6 must be a delicious orgy of yellowness.

An Incredibly Busy Week

Wow, what a week this has been. Busy, busy, bizzay.

First off, of course, was the night I spent in the hospital. We learned that my heart is in phenomenal shape, so no worries there. The mysterous chest pains have mostly abated, just twinging now and again. Also, the sporadic dizziness is completely gone. Regular doctors will be consulted, but it’s entirely possible we’ll never find out what this was. Strained muscle? Sudden-onset GERD? Swollen chesticles?

Right as I was getting released from the hospital, I got an email from my manager letting me know about a last-minute cast meeting the following night. Not mandatory, but attendance was recommended. I figured this was the news we’d all been waiting for — the corporate sponsor of our little show originally signed on for a three-year contract, which will expire in February of 2011. We’ve been waiting for many months to find out if they’d be extending that contract.

The answer is no. The last day of our game show will be February 4, 2011. None of the actors yet knows if we’ll be offered spots in other shows; it’s too early for that. We may start hearing in late December or early January. But it’s nice to have over three months’ notice about the closure.

Then, since Scott has linked to a couple of my posts lately, my web host started getting fussy. I started getting hourly notices that I was going over my traffic limits (partly due to my penchant for photo-heavy posts, no doubt). The big mystery was that when I went to the control panel, it would always say I was at zero for my outgoing traffic. Which it’s always shown.

I’m coming near the end of year 7 with this particular web host, and while they haven’t been mind-blowing, they’ve been OK for my needs. But clearly not anymore. Because seriously, just over 3,000 unique visitors hit my site on Wednesday. That shouldn’t be enough to overwhelm anything. (And a big thank-you to those 3,000 for their care- or curiosity-filled visits.) Since I haven’t received any upgrades in storage space or traffic or anything in that 7 years, what was a good package in 2004 is now one of the worst packages available in 2010. Since that host’s offer to fix my issues was to have my upgrade to a more expensive plan, I moved to another host instead.

Which turned out to beone of the high points of the week.

Seriously, this was the easiest move I’ve ever done. The blog runs on WordPress, and I was able to export the whole thing, import it at the new place, and with a few other file uploads and tweaks, it was exactly as it was before. Also, redirecting the domain to the new host took about 5 minutes, instead of the old school 48-72 hours. So two hours after deciding to change hosts, I did my research, picked a host, bought some space, moved the site, transferred the domain, uploaded files, and had a perfectly running site with much more traffic, storage, and perks.

I think this karmically makes up for the fact that every time we’ve moved Basic Instructions, it’s been a massive headache full of problems and extra steps.

I also learned a couple of things this week: first, here in Orlando, the only place to get Corelle plates that aren’t in a boxed set is Wal*Mart. That’s right, the city of a thousand outlet malls doesn’t have a Corningware factory outlet. BOO! Second, I learned that Adam Savage of Mythbusters has great taste in tee-shirts:

And that makes my chest hurt … with SCOTT-PRIDE!

My "American Idol Experience" Experience

So as some of you may know, there’s a new attraction coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios — “The American Idol Experience”. It’s scheduled for a grand opening of 2/14/09, but of course, they need to run it with audiences and contestants and such before that happens, to work out all the bugs. As such, the past three days have been “cast member preview” days, where cast members can audition, participate, and watch the shows. I had today off, so I figured I’d head over and audition.

I rolled into the park around 9:30am or so. Auditions were scheduled to start at 9, but I didn’t think they’d be very busy. The shows happen in the old ABC Theater, but the audition queue is around the back of the building, across from the Sci-Fi Dine-In theater/restaurant. I got in the very short line. A dude with a microphone and another dude with a video camera came out and interviewed some of us in line, letting us know that some of the interview footage might be used in shows if we made it through.

We went into the audition building (ah, sweet air conditioning) three at a time. They only had two audition rooms open (there are four of them total), but I got in pretty fast. The initial audition was 30 seconds or so of a song, a capella, in front of one guy with a computer in a room the size of a walk-in closet. I chose to do a classic — the chorus from Duran Duran’s “Rio”. Figured they hadn’t heard that yet. The guy liked my peppy attitude, and sent me on to the next level — choosing a song and singing it for a producer.

I went down the hall to a Coca-Cola themed room — all red and white and black all over. There were a bunch of chairs, and next to each, an iPod (inside some awesome locking mechanism to avoid any getting stolen) with really nice headphones. I got a list of songs, a release to sign, and a number to pin to my shirt. We all had to pick two songs for the producer. It was a tough list — lots of stuff I didn’t know (country, recent pop) and stuff I didn’t want to do (anything Disney). My first choice, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”, proved popular and was removed from the running (in other words, some other chick who made it into the show had it as her first choice, so nobody else could use it).

The decision process was a toughie — many of the songs were in a tough key, or just weren’t rocking my world, or I didn’t know them well. I finally settled on “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” and “You Really Got Me”. Neither of which I’d ever sung before, but the key seemed OK, and I was familiar with both. I went into the producer’s room (a slightly larger walk-in closet) and she let me try out the first bit of each song, to see which one I wanted as my primary choice. I got a microphone, the karaoke track, and even the lyrics shown on a flat-screen behind the producer. I settled on “Natural Woman” and ran through the whole thing.

The producer clicked a couple of keys on her computer, then told me that there was going to be a message on the TV behind her head. Up popped Ryan Seacrest (looking really tired), with a prerecorded bit about how most people who auditioned for the real Idol wanted to hear the words, “You’re going to Hollywood.” Well, I wouldn’t get to hear those words, but he did have five words for me: “You’re going to the show.” Hooray!

The producer scheduled me for the 4pm show, and as an alternate for the 1pm show. There were only three shows — 11am and 1pm were 3-person shows, and the 4pm show was a 7-person “finale” show. When the attraction is up and running, there will be 7 regular 3-person shows, with the winner from each one competing in the finale. But since this was a shortened day, I got sent right to the finale. No pressure there, right? I was given a yellow card on a lanyard to wear around the park, with “VOTE FOR ME!” on it, and told when to return to the backstage door.

I had a little time to wander, so I went and got some peanuts for a snack. Then I made it back to the theater a little over an hour before the 1pm show. The three people scheduled for that show were all there, but I still got to stick around in case one of them chickened out or broke a limb or something. They all got to rotate through hair/makeup, vocal coaching, and time to sit with yet another iPod. Then we all went out onstage (and it’s a beautiful stage) and they walked through where to stand and where to go. Then the show commenced, and I watched it from backstage. The winner for the show was a guy from guest show (custodial) who did an awesome job with “Superstition”. Since I knew he’d be coming back for the finale show, I actually felt less nervous, because he was a shoo-in to win the whole thing.

I went off to the cafeteria to have lunch with some of my former co-workers who now work at Idol. The salad bar at the Studios is actually quite a bit better than the salad bar at Epcot. Just sayin’. Then it was just about time to head back to the theater to get ready for the finale show. I managed to meet up with Scott and give him the VIP ticket they’d given me, so he could get a premium seat (he’d had an appointment earlier in the day).

In we went, now seven of us. We rehearsed where to stand, when to leave, what to do. We all got fitted with a little device that clips on your shoulder — the spotlights are hooked into this doodad, so that no matter where you go on stage, the spots follow you beautifully. Awesome! We all got to sound-check our songs, and they had a great amount of reverb and echo and other tricks that made everyone sound really good. Then it was back to hair/makeup (of which I had little done) and a few minutes with a vocal coach.

And suddenly, showtime! We filed backstage and sat on the couches back there, watching the show on another flat screen TV (they have a TON of really nice HDTVs everywhere). The host introduced us, we all filed out in a line, then we all went backstage again. The judges were introduced (three types — hip, sympathetic, and caustic [but “Disney” caustic, mind you]) and then the show was on. The first two guys went up, then it was my turn.

I sang my song (which is, oddly, much easier in front of a huge audience than in front of one person in a walk-in closet), got some good comments and a nice response from the audience, and headed backstage. The best comment was from the caustic judge: he likened me to a flatulent elephant. Because he didn’t envy anyone who had to follow me. Nice!

I finally got my first chance to relax all day, after stressing out about the whole darn thing. The last four singers went, with the custodial guy totally rocking the house in the headliner position. Then we all headed out and took our seats on the side of the stage. We got to sit on the same stools they use on the show, and I have to say — not particularly comfortable. I felt like I was going to slide off the entire time.

The host read off three names; those contestants stepped forward, and were sent back to the stools. Then two more; one of them was safe, one of them got the boot. Then it was me and custodial guy. I got sent back to the stools, so it was down to custodial guy and a nice boy who looked like Buddy Holly who’d done a delightfully schmoozy job with “Sway”. Of course, custodial dude won. Cue the confetti cannons! We all got to go onstage, and the judges joined us.

Then we went backstage, and all of the judges came back and shook our hands. I knew two of them already; the third, oddly enough, was the host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: Play It! when I made the hot seat three years ago, on our anniversary trip. Small world!

All in all, it was a fantastic experience. I don’t care that I didn’t win — I didn’t expect to win. Heck, I didn’t really expect that I’d make it into a show, but I had to try while I had the chance (once it’s open to guests, we cast members can’t even audition). Scott didn’t get to take any pictures of me onstage — not only are they big on all of the “no photography” signs and speeches, but one of his former co-workers who now works at Idol sat right next to him. Sad, but oh well. I still had a great damn time.

Updates

I haven’t been watching the presidential debates — I know who I’m voting for already, and watching the other guy talk would just make me angry. But I have to ask — what the hell is up with McCain’s tongue? All I’m seeing online these days are screencaps where it looks like he’s hacking up hairballs.

Today is the last day of the first week of rehearsals. We’ve gone through blocking, and working on character development. Now the big challenge is to get all the memorizing done, so we can be off-book next week.

It’s already awesome working in one of the theme parks. I get to see guests during daytime hours, out having fun on their vacations, and they’re not drunk. What a change! We’re eating in various Epcot locations for dinner, and I’m becoming a master of the kids’ meal.

It turns out that I’m not at rock-bottom on the seniority ladder at this new job; the guys they’re keeping from the old cast are newer to the company than I, so I’m a mere third from the bottom now. The good news is, since both Scott and I opted for non-popular days off (Wednesday and Thursday), as of the 26th, we’re both able to be off work on the same days. Yay!

Stuff

Here’s a LOLcat that actually made me laugh out loud. Which rarely happens.

Of all of you out there watching Dancing with the Stars, is there anyone else who dislikes Cloris Leachman? I feel like I’m in the minority here — the reality round-up I read has an author who’s all, Cloris is still in it! Yay! I just find her irritating, and desperately trying to amuse us, and there’s just no joy in her for me whatsover.

I’m meeting up with some Comedy Warehouse folk this afternoon at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Most countries also have beer, however. Which is good for us wine-haters.

We took a videogame break from shooting people in Venezuela (yay, Mercenaries 2!) so that I could go shoot people in Rapture (yay, Bioshock!) for a while. I upped the difficulty to medium, which is a first for me in FPS games. Usually I’m all about the easy. The game is awesome as ever, and even more awesome with all the lights out. If I finish up Rapture too quickly, I may then go run around Whispering Rock Summer Camp (yay, Psychonauts!) for a while.

And … Venue.

Wow, what a weekend. I feel really deflated now.

The closing night shows on Saturday were great — the crowds were huge, and they treated us like rock stars. I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would; everyone was just too upbeat, and treated it like a party instead of a wake. Which was great.

We went out after the shows to a coworkers house, where all of the adventurers and warehousers and alumni could mingle and such. I made it home around 5am.

Sunday, management threw a party for everyone. So back out to island we went, and noshed on some good food, watched a documentary about the history of the island that they made for us, and celebrated one last New Year’s Eve on Pleasure Island.

Now I have two weeks off, in which I’ll most likely just kick around the house and do a lot of sitting on my ass.