I always have a hell of a time finding jobs. The conventional wisdom is that it's easier to find a job if you have a job, so take whatever you can get and keep looking. Unfortunately, the McJobs of the world don't want me. Employers who just need a warm body who can show up sober-ish and demonstrate a basic skill do not call me back. A temp agency got me an interview once -- once -- with someone who needed a phone dispatcher. It went very confusingly until the hiring manager and I compared paperwork and realized that the resume the agency had sent him was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the resume I had sent them. He then told me, and this is an actual quote, "You're too smart to be here," and that was the end of that. The only time I ever managed to get one of those jobs was by volunteering to work graveyard, which everyone else hates, and by lying on the application and telling them I'd dropped out of college.

I've been bidding on pet-sitting on Care.com for months and gotten nothing. They are massively, worthlessly underpriced in my area anyway -- they want to give me $12/hr (minus their cut), when cat-sitting in the Camberville area runs more like $35/day, more for a plurality of cats or if they need any special care. I could probably charge more than that, since I have long experience with cats and even the psycho ones tend to like me, but I have a hard enough time with this already.

I'm also signed up with Lessons.com, but they're equally useless. I made an account and promptly abandoned it when I discovered they wanted to charge me up front for submitting quotes. They emailed me asking me why I wasn't using their service and I promptly bitched them out for demanding money for giving me the chance to maybe possibly investigate the opportunity to get hired by some rando I had never met with no references. They comped me a few credits. It did not help, because they keep sending me requests to teach ballet to 8-year-olds 25 miles away, all boxes which I have left unchecked on my profile for a reason.

On the other hand, once I finally run into a job that plainly needs me, I can get hired more or less by showing up. I've just been hired on by the Boston branch of the Murder Mystery Co, run by American Immersion Theater, which I think is going to be great. There were three very good signs right off the bat: One was that the earliest audition slot I could even sign up for was 1:30 in the afternoon. I do not function before brunch so I liked them immediately.

Two was that they do not schedule you. You indicate availability and are cast for shows accordingly. Whatever job I get needs to have either a perfectly regular schedule that I can predict and work around at all times -- which lets out retail and food service -- or a gig-based schedule that requires people to ask if I can work at any given time -- which means contracting everything. There is a very hard limit on how much work I can do. I can choose to overextend myself for short periods of time, essentially borrowing against future effort, but I also need to know exactly when that will end, and be able to schedule recovery days afterwards that cannot be interrupted. I can't do that if I'm always waiting on a manager who may or may not care much about my health and sanity to hand me a weekly roster. Historically, asking if I can be excused from shit I cannot handle has not worked out very well, so now I just tell people I won't be doing the thing and let them cope accordingly. I have had to quit jobs in a hurry because the stress and exhaustion led me to an actual, medical collapse. My main goal for the foreseeable future is to not have any more breakdowns.

Three is that it is an acting job that pays in actual US dollars. Don't underestimate this. I have never found it that difficult to get myself on stage (or on the radio, or in front of a camera) but apparently other people do, and a lot of them derive some sort of visceral emotional validation from being there, so they'll throw themselves at any chance to do it, even if it means wading into a cesspool of abuse and exploitation for free.

This murder mystery gig is largely improv. The mysteries are all fair-play, and it's expected that at least some of the guests will solve it correctly, but there's very little script and most of the time the actors are roaming around playing the suspects. The main point is to be entertaining while giving out a few very specific clues. I don't know how other people handle this, but for me, that means the gig is about 20% knowing how the event runs and 80% just showing up and chattering at people while pretending to be someone else. I will never have to think about this if I am not physically at work, and frankly I don't have to think about that much while I'm doing it either. Working a room is energy-intensive, so I will have to limit how many shows I do in a given span of time, but it's not mentally stressful for me. Doubly so if I'm in character and don't have to give two shits about what any of these people might think of me if I run into them in CVS later.

I get the feeling that I am an acquired taste. I get surprisingly little work from open auditions. I'm on the list with a couple of general casting services, but almost all of what they put out are 'cattle calls' -- auditions or film extra gigs that want to draw hundreds of people who can act as background scenery for long hours and very little pay. I have learned the hard way that they, and large dance companies, do not want me, I suspect because I cannot make myself look generic if I try. I auditioned for a corps-style modern company downtown once and I was the only person in the room wearing turquoise eyeliner. In a room full of modern dancers, who have a well-earned reputation for weirdness. Also the only woman there with noticeable boobs. I got a lot of compliments from the other hopefuls, but I was clearly not what they were looking for.

[There's also a local event staffing service I'm signed up with, which provides promo models and smiling reception staff for premieres and club events and so forth. They, like Lessons, keep sending me notices for things that are a million miles away and not what I indicated interest in, so they're of basically no use.]

The lion's share of my paid work comes from people hunting me down and asking. I still sign up and audition if that's how they're casting the production, because they haven't necessarily seen me do that specific thing yet, but I know about the audition because they have asked me to be there. Dance and acting I usually audition; modeling is because someone's seen one of my profiles and wants a model who fits vintage/art fashion or has crazy long hair.


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