Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Week of Three Big Shitty Things.


Last week, on Thursday (8/30), we lost power in the apartment. I ended up going to Ikea and Barnes and Noble with Justin. While reading magazines at B&N, my brother called and told me the power was back on. So it had been a few hours. The next day, Friday (8/31), the power went out again and we took in a showing of Death Sentence. When we got back, the power was back on, so it had been a few hours again. The next day, Saturday (9/1), we spent the whole day driving around doing fun things and running some errands. After we got back and got settled in, the power went out at 6:15pm. It stayed off for hours. Eventually, we went to get dinner and when we came back, the power was back on. It had come on at 10:30pm, so that was a 4-hour-15-minute blackout. The next day, Sunday (9/2), I was mentally prepared for a fourth blackout, but it didn't come. That is, until 8:45pm. We were so pissed, we just wanted to get out of the house, but unlike all the other blackouts, our garage door was frozen shut. So we were prisoners in our own home. Not that there would have been anywhere to go on a Sunday night. The power didn't come back on until 7:15am the next morning. So that would be a 10-hour-30-minute blackout.

It seems that these started out as power-company-triggered rolling blackouts that evolved into uncontrolled outages caused by blown transformers and shit, because of the heat wave that settled over the city last weekend. The power company was good enough to leave constantly-updating voice messages on their customer service line, informing us that they had no estimate for when the power would come back on (even during the blackouts they themselves engineered). If you have four straight days of blackouts and at no point do you ever have an estimate to give people, what's the point of even acknowledging the idea of an estimate? Okay, you can't make any realistically educated estimates. MAKE SOME UNEDUCATED ONES. WE'RE NOT CALLING YOUR VOICE MAIL EVERY FIVE MINUTES BECAUSE WE LIKE THE SOUND OF YOUR VOICE.

The next day, Monday (9/3), we lost power for about a half an hour during the late afternoon. Whatever. My biggest problem with this whole thing is the idea that rolling blackouts and blown transformers are a common thing during big city heat waves, but the power company doesn't feel the need to establish a scheduled protocol so that people's lives are not thrown into turmoil. Imagine if every year in Florida, when the hurricanes started coming, everyone just sat around saying, "Oh, shit!"


When it comes to Halloween Horror Nights, the people at Universal Studios Orlando know what they're doing. They've been at it since 1991. But Universal Studios Hollywood is still working out the kinks. They started doing HHN in 1997, then stopped after 2000. Because of money reasons, or 9/11, or something, I'm sure. But then in 2006 they started up again. I didn't think to audition at that time because I'm an idiot, but I remembered to do so this year, which, on paper, is their 6th year, but really, is more like their 2nd year. Mentally, I was very prepared for this audition, thanks to the audition I bombed back in March for their year-long House of Horrors. I even made a resume with a headshot and everything.

I love working HHN. As an incentive, they make you an employee for the entire year, so you can enter the park for free and get employee discounts until the next HHN rolls around. And above all, it's just a fun job. Instead of waking up in the morning and sitting at a desk, you go at night and put on a costume and scare people. I was a little disappointed at the audition when they said HHN was 10 nights. I was expecting more, because I was used to Orlando. I later found out they had made me a part of the elite Chainsaw Brigade. This part is a little more demanding than all the other scareactors, because it is more interactive with the guests. And you're operating a live chainsaw.

At my orientation, I found out that my employee status would not be year-round, but rather, I would only be an employee until the last day of HHN; October 31st. This just sounds like a lot of bullshit. What are they gaining by not offering me year-round employee status? On top of that, I won't be able to get free passes throughout the year to give my friends like I did in Orlando. Maybe Hollywood doesn't need the caliber of incentives that Orlando does because it's so overflowing with actors and variety performers who are dying for a job. But if that's the case, why is the Hollywood HHN still short of several tall males to fill all their scareactor positions? Maybe next year they will rethink their list of incentives. So that was kind of a shitty thing. But the main shitty thing here is that I was really hoping to ride Back to the Future: The Ride before they closed the Universal Studios Hollywood version forever (the Orlando one has been closed for some time). BTTF: The Ride closed its doors forever here in Hollywood on Labor Day, September 3rd. My orientation, where I officially received my employee status, was September 4th. It's like they couldn't have picked a worse date.


I passed my California driver's license test in August of 2006. I didn't have a passport to show them at the time, so I showed them my citizenship certificate. Because of this, they said it might take a little longer for me to receive my driver's license. Like, 8 months. I said that was fine. It has now been over a year, and I still don't have my driver's license. What they have been doing is periodically issuing me temporary paper licenses that expire within months. They usually send them to me in the mail, but sometimes they will just forget and I have to go down there and get one. Earlier this week, I noticed that my temp license was expired, so on Friday, I decided to go to the DMV and get a new one.

According to Google Earth, in order to get to the DMV, I had to take the 110-S and take the exit to Flower Street. So I was driving down the 110-S. At one point, I passed an exit called Exposition. I thought, "Hmm, that sounds familiar." But I kept driving. By the time I hit LAX, I realized I had gone too far. So I called my brother and asked him to confirm the directions that Google Earth had given me. He checked, and indeed, Google Earth's directions were to take the exit to Flower Street. But then he checked on MapQuest, and MapQuest said to take Exposition. Apparently, Google Earth knew I needed to take Exposition, but instead of calling it Exposition, it decided to call it "the exit to Flower Street." How the fuck am I supposed to know that Exposition is "the exit to Flower Street?" Typically the name of the exit is the street it leads to. This was all the more infuriating because I know in the past, Google Earth has told me to get off at Exposition. Because that's how I knew that exit in the first place.

So I got off somewhere, turned around, and got on the 110-N. As I was approaching Exposition, I realized that I only knew how to get to the DMV when coming from the other direction, so I consciously decided to pass Exposition, so I could come around from the other way and take the exit I was supposed to take in the first place. This meant I got off on Adams. I turned around and got back on 110-S. But as I was getting on, I realized that I had entered a special lane that was 110-S for CAR POOL ONLY. Total horseshit, because I hadn't seen any "car pool only" signs before getting on. Then I started freaking out for two reasons. One is that if a cop saw me, I would not only be driving in a car pool lane by myself, I would be doing so with an expired license. Two, since this lane was separate from the regular 110-S, it took me waaayyyyyy past Exposition before it gave me a chance to merge out of it. Almost all the way back to LAX. So I exited again, turned around again, and got back on the 110-N. Again.

As I was passing Exposition on the 110-N for the second time, I momentarily reconsidered my decision to pass it so that I could take the exit coming from the other direction. But I decided I should take the time and do it right, because I couldn't afford to get lost. Then, as I was passing the actual exit, I saw the DMV right in front of me. This served to let me know that I could have easily taken the 110-N Exposition exit at any time and arrived at the DMV with no chance of getting lost. But of course, I only saw it as I was passing the exit.

So I got off at Adams again, turned around again, and this time, I did not get on the car pool only 110-S. As I drove past, I tried to see if there really was a sign indicating that it was car pool only. All I saw was an arrow pointing to the lane with the word ONLY. Next to that was a SEPARATE SIGN with a diamond on it. Yeah, that's very clear. I don't know what I was thinking. I then realized there was no entrance for non-car pool vehicles to get on the 110-S. I was going insane. You have to imagine, dear reader, that this entire time, I was dealing with unbelievable traffic, and the knowledge that I had wasted nearly an hour going in circles while people were getting off work and creating a mad rush for the DMV before it closed. So I was screaming and cursing and having a mental breakdown.

Finally, I recognized where I was and just drove to the DMV without getting back on the 110-S. And the stupid thing about this DMV is that there's about 1000 people who need to be in there at any given time, but they only have about 30 parking spaces. So their teeny parking lot is just an ongoing carousel of cars, and getting a spot is just the luck of the draw, depending on where you happen to be when someone comes out and vacates their spot. You could be circling for an hour, or you could pull in and immediately find yourself in front of a vehicle that's pulling out. In addition to this, there's always some genius who gets a feeling about a spot and stops the carousel with no room for anyone to get around him. Eventually, I somehow got a spot and went inside.

I explained to the guy that I needed a new temp license and he said I needed to have my legal presence with me. Meaning my citizenship certificate. I told him I'd gotten the thing renewed before without having to show them anything, and he responded by underlining the text on my temp license with red marker. Oh, okay! Then he asked the lady manager, but he presented the case to her before I had a chance to, and she immediately took his side. I asked her why I didn't have my real license yet, since they had promised I would get it like 5 months ago, and she said it can take anywhere from 1 to 2 years for my identity to be confirmed. What do they need to confirm? I'm obviously me. So after accepting the fact that I would have to come back with my goddamn legal presence, I asked when they were closing, and she said 5pm. It was 4:30. Great. So, I'll see you guys, what, Monday? I'll be sure not to drive my car until then. I will flap my arms and fly home. Then I will fly back on Monday, of course. Why would they put me through this hassle when they usually send me my temp license in the mail? They don't send me a bitchy asshole who comes to my house and asks to see my legal presence. They send me a fucking temp license, because I passed my fucking license test and I should have a fucking license.

Anyway. What a shitty week.


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