Official Voice Over-er

Remember back in June when I joked around about that Groupon I got for that voice acting workshop and I was all like This could be my side hustle ha ha ha? Yeah, so fast forward to the next few months when I find myself deep in commercial and narrative scripts and on three separate phone calls devoted to learning about the industry and my own voice. Yeah, that’s right. I signed up for the course.

Fast forward to October. Instead of a phone call, I was up for a face-to-face session of recording several of those scripts using the voice I’d been working on for those few months. Voice Coaches set up some studio time for me on a Friday  as per my request to make it “before the snow comes.”

Now,  you may remember the last time I drove upstate for a reading at Bright Hill Press and Literary Center. That’s located in  Treadwell, NY. Do you know where that is? If you’re answer is “no,” then you’re not alone because the GPS didn’t know where the heck it was, either. There was a lot of drive-crying when I missed a turn and wound around some mountain roads and double-backed a few times until taking myself to Oneonta via the road to Delhi because the road to Oneonta from Treadwell was closed. I mean, the reading was totally worth it. And I also ended up drive-crying on the way home when I didn’t even get lost; yes, there was drive-crying because I was so proud that I didn’t get lost on the way home.

That little refresher is to inform you that there was no drive-crying on this trip! There was a case of Wow, I forgot to bring extra deodorant so let me find a CVS to buy some because the Great Natural Deodorant Experiment of 2018 sometimes doesn’t pan out so well. But there was no drive-crying and there was no CVS-crying or Where’s The Deodorant At-Crying. Overall, no crying. The studio was in Albany, so the GPS knew where that was and it also found the CVS without a hitch.

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Instead, there was a whole lot of being completely psyched to be recording my demo. When I got to the studio, I was even more psyched because they had awesome mints and fun fish.

Then we recorded. Oh, btw, “we” is me and the producer-tech-voice-over-er-instructor Josh. That guy is the definition of pumped up. Like, every phone call started with Christina, are you ready??!!??!! The same thing with the demo. Christina, are you totally ready??!?!?!!!When I got into the booth after a tour of the absolutely gorgeous studio and found the mic magically at my height, I asked him how short the person before me in the booth had been. He probably wasn’t expecting this question, but I notice when things are actually my height because that rarely happens. Turns out he lowered it a whole lot after briefly meeting me in the waiting area. Ha! Stealth. Also we found the smallest headphones because short gal’s got a small head, too, yo.

We plowed through script after script. Every take was exhilarating. It went by so fast. Seriously fast. I can read! Out loud! All those years of being an English Professor, paying off in a little booth in Albany.

After we finished recording, we started talking about when my demo would be ready, how to land jobs as voice talent (that’s me! I’m the talent!), and networking. The conversation derailed into hockey and tiny towns where there’s nothing to do. We got back around to the voice stuff and then it was done. And done!

I knew I’d get the downloads for the demo in a few weeks. I knew I would get demo CDs in the mail around the same time. When the email arrived with the link (it’s here!), I was excited. When the CDs arrived, I was thrilled.

But then? Then! I got a certificate! It’s got my name on it and everything! Okay, okay, so I have diplomas and certificates for stuff I’ve completed. Usually, I’m like, oh that’s nice, here’s a frame. This one, though, was totally unexpected. I didn’t know I’d get a certificate, so I squealed like a five year old and danced around my kitchen when I saw what it was.

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And that’s the story of how I’m now an official voice over-er. Thank you, Voice Coaches, for the motivation, the fun, and the voice adventure.

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A World Of Color, or Everything Worth Doing Ends With A Ball Pit

Another day in NYC, another pop-up museum. But not just any other. Color Factory NYC stands as my favorite pop-up museum, temporary exhibit, and all around way to spend an evening. Immersive in color from room to room. Adding sweet treats along the way. Some poetry. Some movement. Some drawing. Some drumming. Some spinning. Some labyrinth walking. Something for every sense and then something more. Throw in some banter with a factory worker about guessing how old I am (we agreed on anywhere between 28 and 52) and that same worker letting S and me grab an extra marshmallow before heading to the next room, and throw in a free coat check that would hold my great big orange bag (courtesy of S — 45% of our friendship is giving bags to each other that we have to then hold for the rest of the time we hang out), and throw in a map of NYC that shows where to find colors specific to NYC, and there you have it. My fave by far. Also, a ball pit. I didn’t get stuck, but when I got neck deep, I also go claustrophobic and had to get out of the ball pit quick. Ever try to get out of a ball pit quick? It’s kinda slow. But still, my fave.

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These balloons flew around.

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Dancing!

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There’s a long explanation of this photo but I’m going to let the psycho scare speak for itself.

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Listening

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Drawing

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Choosing A Path

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And for the record, pre-claustrophobia:

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Tesla, My Neon-Bright Love

IMG_1068Nikola Tesla invented. From his mind circa the 1880s came electricity. Okay, not exactly, but his inventions harnessed power and revolutionized technology. Also, he’s been popping up in my life in various ways. Remember that time my brother and I went daytripping in StonyBrook and stumbled across the Tesla exhibit? Remember that time I trounced around NYC and stumbled across the random street sign for Tesla? Remember that time I was on vacation and the hotel tv was playing a series about Tesla non-stop? Remember that time Tesla opened for Def Leppard at Jones Beach? Okay, different Tesla, but still. And but really? Is it different? Anyway, Tesla needs me. Maybe I need him.

In fact, if you’ve been at any of my recent poetry readings, you know I need him. I’ve been writing about him. If you know this, then you also know he’s the basis of my next collection. Poetry needs Tesla, too.

The best way to discover why our mutual affinity has been growing was to attend his birthday celebration. You might say, But wait, isn’t he, like, no longer among the living? To that I say, What’s your point? Wardenclyffe is still standing.

Out in Shoreham, Tesla did some things. His lab is there along with the remains of his tower of power–just the base squares in a circular pattern on the ground. The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe plans to reopen the grounds as a science center. Right now, it’s still kind of desolate, but it serves quite nicely as a place for a birthday celebration.

This year, they held the Neon Birthday Expo. The expo included tours of the grounds, robotics demonstrations, tables of local artists and science-related clubs and organizations, a neon tent dedicated to neon things, and a PSEG table from which I scored another new pair of free sunglasses. All my sunglasses are now sponsorships. Tesla cars lined up and showed off.

I was in my nerdy geeky techy love glory. Moseying along the nature path. Moseying around the perimeter of the grounds. Moseying through the neon tent and then moseying quickly out because it was about 1000 degrees inside. (All the moseying was due to the day being really hot and we were all in direct sunlight. Which is actually a good thing because it was a birthday celebration and birthday parties should be sunny. )

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Find Clayton Orehek for all your neon art needs.

The keynote speaker was Gregory Olsen. Um, you guys, he’s an astronaut.  This totally made up for my not being able to find the astronaut at BEA. 

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Kyle Driebeek played Happy Birthday on the theramin. If you don’t know what that means, click this link because the link is better than any way I might attempt to describe it.

Then, there was cake. I shit you not. They had two sheet cakes complete with Tesla’s face on them.

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I’m looking forward to the day when we can head out to Wardenclyffe when it’s all decked out as a science center. It’d be one step closer to meeting the man himself. In the meantime, there’s always Belgrade.

Oh, and this. Because I like to amuse myself.

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Gifted

It’s the last week of classes, and I was collecting piles of portfolios yesterday from my two creative writing classes. It’s been a long semester. I even took a mental health day a few weeks ago. I’ve never done that ever in my career, so you know it had to be a real need. What did I do that day? I graded and made sure all my grade books were up to date. That made me mentally healthy.

So yesterday I walked into the classroom and immediately I got the sweats. For those of you who know already, the sweats are really part of who I am. However, this time it wasn’t the Nervous Sweats or Sweats Of Great Jubilation or Swearing Through The Awkward. This time I started sweating because the classroom was 80 billion degrees, give or take a few. Because I teach in a building that’s a hundred years old—one of two that didn’t get closed down while the other one that didn’t seem worse but I suppose was actually did. Get closed down that is–the heat doesn’t regulate itself to adjust to the temperature outside. Now that it’s a typically cold season, the heater stays on no matter what’s happening outside, like the 50 degree weather. Unless of course you go to the bathroom, and in there it’s a balmy negative 2.

Side note: last year, one of the bathrooms stopped working in the building that did not get closed down this semester. It was the only lady’s room available unless you went to the third floor. Fact: I didn’t know there even was a third floor. One of my students came back to report it was creepy so the next time someone had to go, I yelled out, Bring a buddy! And they brought buddies, and I told them if they weren’t back in ten minutes, we’d all come up there looking for them, which back then was for their own safety, but right now I realize I could have caused extra  distress for anyone having digestive afflictions. Thankfully they were back in under ten minutes and no one got murdered on the mysterious third floor. This is the building that remains open. This is also the building that currently has a gate and plywood and caution tape across a set of formerly automatic doors that led out to a ramp. There is now a makeshift ramp on the other side of the building, precariously build over dirt piles, blocking off any steps to the entrance, and not wide enough for a wheelchair to make a turn or for two people to cross paths. Again, this is the building that’s open.

I settled in to the 80 billion degree room as any adult would: by shouting Omigosh, you guys, it’s so friggin hot! Then I peeled away layers of outer wear and then a cardigan and then fanned myself down with brochures for the Writing Center that have been stacked on my podium all semester. At least this room has a podium, and at least the podium faces the class.
We got into greetings and salutations, and one of my students indicated a shiny red bag that I’d spotted sitting on my desk when I walked in. I rarely sit at that desk because of said podium. He was like, this is for you and you can open it now if you want.

And my reaction was, Really? Are you sure?

Once in my teaching career I’ve been given a gift. It was a journal and it was very sweet. Since then, I’ve mostly been given handshakes after which I Purell and the occasional awkward hug. I’ve also fended off both because germs don’t understand affection. Still, I’ve been open to big hugs and handshakes for those who really truly genuinely react that way. FYI: I never instigate the touching, even though sometimes in my mind, my normal reaction says to me, I’d give this person a hug in a different situation. Sometimes I’ll say something like, this portfolio was so good that I want to shake you OR your writing was so fantastic that I want to punch the wall! They laugh because the ones I say that to understand what passion is.

So now here’s a gift bag with a gift in it, and it’s guaranteed that it’s mine. Hmm. Whenever I see a name on a roster for an upcoming class that I recognize as someone who has taken a different class with me previously, I always assume they don’t remember what went down and probably enrolled with me again by accident. I know I’m a good teacher, but that means I really challenge my students at a college level, and I’ve been known to be a bit too sarcastic, which I genuinely have tried to tone down over the years because a lot of young people don’t get it and think I’m serious and rude.  I can be all three but still I’ve tried to convert my sarcasm into some sort of dad joke vibe. Basically I’m a closet stand-up act, and I have a captive audience. This is the power that professors yield.

Back to the gift. I was like that’s so sweet! I’ll open it after we go over a few things to ensure you don’t want to take it back.

See? I’m funny.

We went over a few things, and he didn’t take it back, so I opened it, and it was a mug, and I said thank you about 8 billion times as we all sweated together, and I noted how I could drink my tea from it. There was a card, but I kept that for after everyone else had gone. Then he asked to take a picture with me, and because I’m now high off of being the recipient of a gift, I think I’m a pretty big deal, so I say yes to the picture, making sure he acknowledges that we will both look sweaty and gross, and I sit on the radiator that’s 80 billion degrees, and he leans back against the radiator next to me so that we’re the same height, which shows how he’s really the sweetest young man ever and his friend counts down the photo and then counts down a second, and I’ll point out again that I’m clearly a pretty big deal.

It’s probably one of the highlights of my teaching career not because of the gift itself but because lately I’ve come pretty close to giving up faith in everything about teaching and my overall institution.

Then in That’s About Right fashion, I walked into my next class bogged down with my rolly bag filled with portfolios, an armful of outerwear, my water, and the gift bag, sweat evaporating from my head and face. I plopped everything down and sat at the desk I haven’t really sat at a lot because the computer in this room is in a small metal box in the other corner, facing away from the class, and that’s where I conducted most of the lessons, but this was the last day, so I kept the desk where it was and sat on the other side of the room, which felt weird because I was facing them for once instead of twisting my body around.

One of my students was like, Is that a gift for me?

And I was like, someone gave that to me.

And they were all like, a student?

And I was like, yeah.

And they were like, Really?

And I was like, I know.

And they were like, Really?

And I was like, I was as confused as you.

Clearly I was not the only one. Several of them were convinced it was to get a higher grade but the gift-giver is super smart and doesn’t need bribery. There were two more students who came into my second class late, saw the gift, and then asked if they could go buy me something. I was like, I’ll take whatever you give me, but it won’t make your grade higher, and they responded with, never mind that’s cool I’m sure I’m fine.

And they’re all fine for the most part. This profession is fine for the most part. Sometimes, however, a little pick-me-up goes a long way to really change a perspective that’s been drowning in the part that hasn’t been so fine.

I Don’t Know Why I Thought The MoMA Wouldn’t Be Crowded

The Friday before Easter, I was like, Hey, let me hop on a train and go into the city to see art because I feel like ending my Spring Break on a leisurely relaxing jaunt. I was even able to drive my car to the station and park instead of walking there like I did on my last (sweaty) museum adventure. I got in enough walking through the museum, though it was more like being pushed along with throngs of people than actual walking.

The Travel Zoo discount pass I had instructed me to go to the counter for entry. Easy enough. I walked into the MoMA. I had thought that there would be a lonely counter waiting for me to walk up to it for entry. I don’t know why my mind creates such ideas.

First off, there are many counters. Secondly, there are also many lines. Thirdly, there were many, many, many people. Wall to wall people. People everywhere.  I found a line for special ticketing and showed my printout and a woman told me to go ahead and get on that line, which was shorter than the others, which made me happy.

I’m pretty good with crowds. I’m used to being jostled because people don’t look down. On this line, however, I was clearly on it, standing there, taking up existence in space. The woman behind me did not seem to care about that. There was some bumping. A bit of elbowing. Some more hovering. I kept standing and breathing and telling myself I was not being annoyed. Then she hit me in the head with her museum map. This annoyed me. I turned around and looked at her. She looked at me. I turned back around, satisfied that this eye contact would solve the issue.

The map hit my head again. I turned around again and gave her my “quit it” face, which is a pretty powerful face if you ask any of my students or strangers who have annoyed me like this before. It didn’t seem to phase her. So naturally, I did the very adult thing of putting my hand on my hip and jutting out my elbow to create space, and also so that when she bumped me again, she’d get a pointy jolt. She continued to bump and hit me in the head.

This is the point when I thought to myself, I am about to get into the first fist fight of my life. And I don’t think I was joking to myself. I was literally thinking about how she was taller than I was and how I wouldn’t cause much damage. I also thought about how people don’t get into fights in museums. Then I thought that I could be arrested if I got into a fight, which is when I really stopped thinking about punching her. Yes, that’s the reason I didn’t get into a fist fight at the MoMA. And then I was called to the counter and allowed entry. She’s so lucky.

I went to the top and worked my way down, meaning I did what everyone else did, and it was crazytown. I knew I was done looking at a piece of art when the people around me were also done because we all moved together, being pushed and pushing each other from room to room. This was a different kind of pushing from the waiting-in-line pushing. This was more like a flow of artistic mesmerization.

The non-permanent exhibitions were Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. That exhibit came with a warning before walking in that not everything there was suitable for all ages. The first thing I saw was a photo of a penis, so, agreed. Unless you’re European. This one does not have a visible unit.

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The Hug, New York City, 1980 — this reminded me of a Vettriano painting.

Nearby was Teiji Furuhashi’s Lovers: a dark room with a motion-sensor projector in the middle that projected silhouettes of naked men wandering from and to nowhere.

In non-nakedness, there was How Should We Live?, an exhibition that felt like a fancy showroom in IKEA. This is not an insult.

Dust Gathering was another, though I didn’t really know what it was about other than there was a helicopter floating from the ceiling.

I spent most of my time moving through rooms and rooms and rooms of permanent exhibits, or what I think were permanent but I’m not sure.  I just kept moving through rooms.

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Paul Chan: The Body Of Oh Marys — because anything with writing on it draws my attention

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Barnett Newman: Vir Heroicus Sublimis — because I think it’s pretty neat that someone can paint the same color across a canvas that size evenly

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This isn’t the artwork, but I loved it. It’s a shadow of Aleksandr Rodchenko’s Spatial Construction #12.

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Shirana Shahbazi: Composition 40-2011

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Giorgio de Chirico’s The Serenity of the Scholar — because I’m a scholar, right?

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I don’t know what this was. I was amusing myself because of the reflection.

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This is Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World. I’ve always loved this painting for obvious reasons until I actually read what it was about–this lady has polio and is movement impaired. It’s less whimsy, more tragic.

At one turn, there was a huge mob, bigger than the other normal mobbing from room to room. Then I realized why.

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This is Starry Night.

Oh, I also got admonished by a security guard who asked me to step back from a Dali painting. Heh heh. Where was he when I almost decked that woman on line?

I stood in the sun for a while when I got back down to the ground floor.

Then I decided that the museum itself was art.

I headed home just in time to miss the non-running-train catastrophe at Penn Station, which meant I got to have a leisurely train ride home with a seat all to myself.