Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Family Tour Vans and Cheap Disney T-shirts

My next audition is coming up in a few weeks. Make that two and a half. This one is for a singing group. Alert: I haven't done any real singing except in the shower or car in about 5 years. So the practicing has begun. Sorry to my neighbors who hear me screeching at the top of my lungs trying to push out a high-C note, but by the end of these couple weeks, I promise to have my vocal strength back.

On this excursion of training my voice, I needed some music. Both to practice and present to the judges. I really only venture out of the house when I have a real errand, minus the time I simply went exploring. The gas prices, though somewhat cheaper than Indiana, are high enough to keep me busy at home. On my travels for the perfect vocal performance sheet music book, I discovered that I am in very close vicinity to TOURISM. (Link: notice the red flashing road, this is tourist central). Guess what? I DON'T like it. Between the lost family vacation vans of fun and the words GIFT SHOP: CHEAP DISNEY T-SHIRTS, my patience with the general public in certain areas lasts about 5 minutes. These 5 minutes are spent relishing in the palm trees I drive by and the fact that I drive through Orange County almost every outing. Once I come back to reality, I realize I hate everyone. I probably drive like a maniac due to my Chicago-style upbringing, so I suppose there are mutual feelings between me and the tourist population.

I did find a book after figuring out a place where I could avoid the tourism-infested streets. In fact, it was a pleasant drive through the Floridian country, complete with orange groves. My favorite thing, which off-sets the tourism annoyance: rolling the windows down, opening the sunroof, and breathing in the citrus-filled air while blasting the tunes on the open road. Little did I know that I would miss the open fields of the Midwest. I do miss Chicago, which is obviously not a field at all. But everyone drives correctly (according to me and, well, other Chicago drivers) and at least there is legitimate architecture. They shot The Dark Knight in Chicago and seeing bits of Navy Pier, Wacker Drive, and the curvy Lake Point Tower brought a smile to my face and a tiny tear to my eye. Now, I've yet to explore downtown Orlando. I'm looking forward to discovering new places besides the typical chain restaurant in a strip mall with a discount ticket store.

Today was the first day I went to Disney, besides my interview. My auditions were held at a facility on the outskirts, so I haven't walked on Disney property for the sole purpose of enjoying it. I went to Downtown Disney because it's free and they have a Ghirardelli Ice Cream shop. And it was delicious. It was evening, so the families were looking tired. The kids were worn out from a long Mickey-filled day, the moms were exhausted from keeping track of the family, and the dads just looked tired of spending money. In fact, a man was standing outside one of the biggest stores SCREAMING at his wife, who seemed to be spending the last of the money they will ever have, according to his behavior and lunatic tendencies. I don't know if he was kidding around, but he certainly turned heads. It made me glad my parents are not the type to argue/yell in public. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Tomorrow I'm heading back to Disney to go to Pleasure Island with the fam. I walked around PI a little today, so I'm really stoked to go back and experience the nightlife.

Some short news items: I love having a pool, which I think you know, so this is a reminder. I have started my 8th book for the summer: Little Altars Everywhere. That means it's time for a job. Seriously. I'm applying for some writing gigs, from which I'm looking forward to hearing back. I miss Chicago. And my sister, though talking to her almost every day helps. :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

You Passed the Audition!

So this week was eventful. I laid by the pool. I laid in the pool. I read a good portion of The Devil Wears Prada, thanks to Grandma's book collection. I worked out with Gilad on FitTV and swam every day. I ventured out some, too.

I decided to take a drive to get a good feel for my surroundings. I'm near Clermont; it's about 10-15 miles north. There's not a whole lot in downtown Clermont except a big lake and an interesting looking restaurant called Pasta Vino. The little Italian I know leads me to believe they may have a decent wine selection, and those of you who know me well know that wine always catches my attention. I continued my journey east, heading toward Orlando, when I ran into Winter Garden.
Downtown Winter Garden is covered with brick roads to match the brick buildings to match the cute gazebos in the middle of everything. They had a French bakery, a cute-looking salon, and more than a just a street's worth of places to explore. Needless to say, I loved it and can't wait to go back to investigate the little town of Winter Garden.

Then, audition time came. Audition One: Disney Fairy Look-A-Likes. I walk into the rehearsal center at Animal Kingdom to find that I am not the only girl who thinks she has what it takes to be a Disney Fairy. By the way, they are opening a new exhibit-type area in Magic Kingdom to house Tinkerbell and all her friends, hence the audition to find this group of fairies. I'm number 153 measuring at 63 inches. The cut off is 65 inches, so that's one step in the right direction for me. The place is crawling with girls. You have to be at least 16 for this audition, so yes, I saw my share of stagemoms. It was loud in this warehouse-type room with the typical girl attitude of 'look at her and how she compares to me.' It sounds bad, but I haven't been in a situation like that since high school. So I loved it. This audition made for a great people-watching experience. There are at least 200 girls there (I hear there were 400 at the other audition time). They break us up into groups of about 50 or so. My group happened to be towards the end, so we were about 30. We get lined up in a room and are told Disney is looking for girls with 'pixie eyes, a squared jawline, and a general pixie-like look.' I smile brightly at the judge as she walks past me and chooses 4 girls from the 30 in our room to go on to the next part of the audition. And that's it for Audition One. I can't very well change my facial structure, so no harm done. It's just time to prepare for the next one.

Audition Two: Disney Princess Look-A-Likes and Character Performers. Same place. Men and women. Mostly young, like myself. I'm number 54, measuring at 63.5. I either grew a whole half inch over night (boy, that yoga sure does wonders!) or it was due to my hair being up. 55-65 of us get called to cram into this rehearsal room to learn a quick dance routine. We are to move across the room while doing it, repeating the routine 3 times, to a tricked-out version of "It's a Small World". The energy in the room is great, we are excited to show our stuff. During the 3rd repeat of the routine, my face is beaming as I misstep. My energy was too much for my brain to handle, thus my feet doing whatever they wanted. But, I pressed on. And for audition portion two, my number was called. This was the silent improvisational portion. The energy, again, is nothing but excitement. We have to pretend, to music, that we are waking up 2 hours for something, and act it out. Silently. Big gestures and facial expressions a must. When they line us up in numerical order, they take out a group of about 10. These women looked like Disney used them as models when drawing the Disney Princesses, so we learn very quickly who the judges are choosing for that. Again, my lack of cartoon tendencies leaves me with the regular human beings, which, if you saw these girls, you would know you didn't have a chance at becoming Cinderella. I suppose there's always hope. Anyway, I give it my all during the improv section. Then we wait. I have no idea how long, since I left my phone next to my computer at home. I overhear a girl talking about how she just picked up and moved here from Iowa, simply needing a change. It was nice to know someone else was as brave and crazy as I was. Then, they pull a group of us into the hallway. This hallway, as we observed, was used to tell people, sorry about ya, but you're not working for Disney in the entertainment department. Of course, we're all nervous and a little pre-maturely bummed. The guy jokes with us that it's conveniently set next to the exit, but we won't be needing that today because we PASSED THE AUDITION!!!!

Here's the BUT: all of us were about the same height, which seems to be a popular height in the Walt Disney World Company. Right now, they have no space for us. We are in a 'hiring pool' for 6 months. In that 6 months, we can audition for other things if we'd like, but once they have space, they will call us for Character Performer jobs. It's been 4 years since I've auditioned for anything, so I feel pretty proud of myself.

In the meantime, I'm in hiring pools for a couple other jobs at Disney, retail and attractions. Retail is, of course, working in the stores; attractions could be running rides, emceeing, that sort of thing. I'm also wait-listed for the Food and Wine Festival in September, which would be equally awesome. Now I wait.

I'm lucky to have family here who are so supportive and willing to have me tag-a-long for things! Last night, I went to see the batman movie, The Dark Knight. I was giddy when I went in and just as giddy when I came out. I highly recommend it. Heath is really as amazing as everyone says he is. Next week I might be going to Pleasure Island, which is also cool since I've never really been. I've never been of age to go, so I'm looking forward to a fun night out.

And be proud: I got up today and cleaned the whole house. Living alone with not a whole lot going on right now makes me motivated to keep the place looking fresh, so I spent a good hour vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning my bathroom. I might count that as my workout today.

Side note: if anyone is concerned about me being alone here, don't worry. Not only are the Geigers and Annie keeping tabs on me, but the Jehovah's Witnesses come calling every so often.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Meredith in Wonderland

I made it!

I'm officially here in sunny Florida. And it's raining.

The flight was uneventful (always excellent news for Mom) and I met a couple nice ladies who wished me well when we parted ways. One was at least 90 years old with a broken pelvic bone, but determined to visit her son at Daytona Beach. Being me, I immediately picture Spring Break, but I don't think she was interested in Spring Breaking. The other woman was in her early thirties heading to Melbourne Beach for a dance conference. We snacked on pretzels, drank Cokes, and swapped stories. That made for my easy transition from emotional sissy to motivated woman on the verge. Grandpa's cousin came to get me at the airport. It was so nice to feel such a warm welcome from family. Being the new girl in town, it's great to know I have relatives nearby who are happy to hang out sometimes!

I went to Wal-Mart last night to find some nourishment. This was the busiest WM I'd ever seen. It was worse than the students coming back in August to Purdue and getting everything they need for the school year. There were lines everywhere. The whole time. Apparently Lafayette life has spoiled me in that I assume a busy store will have a lull, probably two, while you're shopping. Mel told me they are preparing me for what's to come with lines at Disney. She's probably right.

Fear not: I did have an interview after packing up and leaving the Midwest. After many hours of much needed sleep (who knew moving your life 1,000 miles away could be SO exhausting?!), I awoke in my new home with a bit of surprise. I had actually forgotten where I was. Now, some may assume this is due to too much intake of a spirited beverage or two the night before, but for me, it really means that I slept AMAZINGLY. I haven't been sleeping well at all, so I had forgotten what good sleep is! I got myself all ready and headed to Disney Casting. While driving through, I felt happy that this could really be home for me. I haven't been down here for over two years and being here by myself as an adult trying to live and work, it's different. A good different, though. I arrive at Casting and it's calm and quiet. The people are very nice and helpful. We watch a movie about what it's like to work at Disney, you know, to make sure you know just how magical Disney is. If their video is true, then Disney takes good care of its employees. It's hard work, but they know that and appreciate you. I go to my interview to find out that jobs are slim other than Character work, which I anticipated with the upcoming close of one of their many busy seasons. But, they seem to need a lot of people to work in that department. I'll be attending two auditions next week and if all goes well, I'm hoping to start within a couple weeks after that. That leaves me just enough time to familiarize myself with my surroundings. And utilize the pool as much as possible.

If anyone has Skype, let me know. It's my new favorite thing!

Friday, July 11, 2008

"The time has come," the Walrus said.

Well, the Chicagoland area is not the scene for me right now. I've submitted my resume to everyone there, but nothing is turning out. It's either my dream job that I don't get or they want me to do door-to-door sales (which, by the way, I DON'T want to do). I have to be out of my apartment in one month, so time is ticking. Then I remember: the house in Florida.

Grandma and Grandpa told me around graduation that I could live in their house in Orlando and use their car while looking for work/working. They are in Indiana right now, so I'd have the place to myself with little to no bills to pay (that currently trumps an expensive, tiny one-bedroom in the Loop). This friendly reminder was brought to my attention this week and I've decided to take advantage of it.

On July 17th I'll be embarking on a new journey. With the help and emotional support from great family and friends, I'm packing up a suitcase or two, my computer, and heading south. I'll start with Disney World for my job hunt. I plan to walk right in and demand Cinderella's ballgown. Ok, not quite that simple, but my first day there I'll be heading to Disney Casting to apply for whatever they'll let me do. I'll also be auditioning for some Character Look-A-Like jobs, you know, walking around the park and making little kids' dreams come true because they met a Disney Fairy or (maybe!) Cinderella. I plan to keep my resume going around Orlando and going on interviews, too. Basically, my job hunt is going poolside.

Here's hoping I'm employed sooner rather than later. Oh, and I'm pretty excited too :)