Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guess Where I'm Gonna to Be?

 On a boat! That's right everybody,


Here's the email I got yesterday morning:
Thank you for your recent attendance at the Carnival Cruise Line information session and interviews for Entertainment Staff.

We are delighted to offer you a position as Entertainment Staff with Carnival!
Rest assured, the delightedness is mutual!

So, now what?

Well, I'm currently in the process of trying to arrange and pass the epic (and surprisingly costly) pre-maritime-employment medical examination before my little road trip back to Florida at the end of the month. Yes, I'm still going to Florida; not because I have to but because, with a large chunk of my family there, it'll be a good place to use as a base of operations. (Plus, it means my car will be close if I need it.  Also, dude... my parents have an attic. I'm not gonna pay for storage.)

At the interview, they said the earliest they'd need anybody to start training would be August 8th. That means I should have at least a month for my cross-country drive, more than enough time to visit some friends and do some camping.  Carnival's contracts are 6 months at a time, after which I can take a few weeks of vacation before starting a new contract. Won't know until after training which boat I'll be on but, like the representative from Carnival said at the audition,
"It really doesn't matter.  They're all big, white and go someplace warm."
Love it.

As for how it's actually going to be on the ship - aside from the description of the job I shared with you in my last post - I know as much about it as you do.

But I do have a few ideas:

Artist's Rendition

One thing's for sure, it'll be an adventure. I'll keep you updated.

Until then, I've got some packing to do...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pausing Mid-Leap


It's now just over two weeks into what's supposed to be my epic, slow-paced, vagabondingesque traversal of these grand United States and I'm quite certain you're just DYING to know what I've been up to! So, where am I?

Camping at Yellowstone?
Blogging from what's left of the top of Mount St. Helens?
Tweeting from the edge of the Grand Canyon?


I'm in Seattle. (Sad trombone.)

"Seattle," you're thinking, mouth agape, "But Matt! Why are you still there??  It seemed like you had finally achieved the necessary escape velocity! What happened? What about leaping?? You were supposed leap!!"

OK, yeah... I know. But, here's the deal:

As my departure time of "early morning, June 1st" quickly approached, everything was going according to plan.
  • Final Mad Science shows were performed.
  • Last day at work was completed.
  • Goodbye party was thrown (see above photo).
  • Moving sales were endured.
And, aside from my complete inability to sell my bed (which, by the way, is still available!), things were moving along quite swimmingly. Sure, it would have been nice to have some more time to reduce by 2/3rds the amount of crap I was attempting to shove into my car but, come hell or high water or other cliché, I was going to be out of Seattle and barreling headfirst into My Next Big Step™ (whatever the hell that would be) on schedule.

Then, on Memorial Day, literally TWO days before I was supposed to leave, I awoke much too early in a panic at all I had left to do. Before attempting to squeeze in an hour or so more of sleep before another day of packing and filling my vehicle, I figured I'd check my phone to see if I had gotten any e-mail. What was sitting in inbox that morning ruined not only any chance I'd have of falling back to sleep, but would guarantee that I wouldn't be leaving Seattle when I'd planned.

Flashback! January 2011!

It's the dead of winter and yours truly is battling Seasonal Affective Disorder and a severe case of depression over having to endure yet another miserable Seattle winter.

To feel like I was at least doing something to eventually get me out of this city were I to ever get this book finished, I searched the Internet for job opportunities. My expectations were kinda low: it had to in some way use my performing background and it had to be somewhere warm. That's when I came across the Carnival Entertainment website.  One of the positions they had listed was:
Entertainment Staff 
Become part the award-winning entertainment staff aboard Carnival’s “Fun Ships.” Carnival is looking for fun-loving, energetic individuals to be part of our team and help our guests create a lifetime of vacation memories by hosting activities, shows and special events. Full training is given but a strong theater background and some microphone technique are essential. The primary role of a entertainment staff or hostess is to assist the cruise director daily to create a fun and entertaining environment for the guests, as well as help cruise director and assistant cruise director in the overall management of the entertainment department. Entertainment staff are charge of running majority of the activities that happen around the ship and are often called upon by both guests and crew to answer questions involving all facets of the ship, including schedules, safety, concessions and ports of call. As such, prospective entertainment staff must possess interpersonal skills and must be organized and motivated. Essentially, middle management in the entertainment department, entertainment staff are often responsible for ensuring information and e-mails are properly communicated, essential paperwork is complete and meetings and drills are attended by all members of the department.

Totally what I was looking for, right?

Besides, I'd always been interested in working on a cruise ship but never seriously considered it because I could neither sing nor dance.  But here was a position that required neither!

Carnival was also the only cruise line was that accepted video auditions via the internet so I fired up the ol' Sony Vegas and edited together the following:

Not bad, huh?  I gotta say, I surprised even myself with how well it turned out.  Plus, after feeling out of my element for so long, it was good to be reminded that I'm actually qualified to do more than sell books and entertain small children.

I submitted the video to Carnival on February 13th and, less than a month later, I received the following e-mail from them:
Dear Matt,
Your job application for Entertainment Staff was reviewed and one of our Supervisors will be in contact with you for the interview.
Carnival Entertainment

Goodbye short days and gloomy weather!

Hello cloudless skies and crystal blue water!

This was going to be great. Plus, don't worry, I wasn't going to put all my eggs in one basket (he said while putting all his eggs into this convenient wicker carrying case).

Then, I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

As the weeks passed, my enthusiasm waned.  It seemed this would be yet another in a series of disappointing "could have beens" that started the minute I decided to be an actor.

Since I'd put so much work into editing the video, I went ahead and posted it over on my Vimeo page and got a lot of great feedback. It really encouraged me to look more into other cruise ship and performing opportunities.  I needed to get moving again.  I needed to get in front of larger audiences.

And hey, if Carnival wouldn't call me, maybe I should go to them! Since they're based out of Miami, I'd found yet another reason to head back to Florida. Now, while I didn't want to move back for good, that goofy little peninsula has always been a great jumping off point for me. Plus, a lot of people I care about are there (along with a lot of my old stuff). Also, my former employer, Universal, is still there but, more importantly, so are all the cruise lines.

I needed to get back.

So, I finished the first draft of my book and starting planning my road trip.  I also prepared resumes and applications for all the different cruise companies.  My plan was to submit everything right before I left Seattle and, that way, instead of me sitting around and waiting for a response, I'd be doing something really fun, something for me.  No rush guys, I'll just be over here road-tripping.

This was gonna work.

Cut back to Memorial Day and I'm checking the e-mail on my phone when I find a message from someone named Eric from Cast-a-way Casting.  He was wondering if I could make myself available for an interview...

For Carnival...

In min-June...


DUDE. I was overwhelmed with the cautious joy of a nerdy teen who's just realized he'd have to miss that Lord of the Ring marathon he's been anxiously waiting for because he just might actually have to go to the prom. With the girl he thought had rejected him, no less!

Obviously, I was thrilled they'd responded but I now had to change all of my plans at the last minute. Thankfully, my studio apartment hadn't been filled yet so my landlord was more than happy to get another month's worth of rent out of me. Plus, my friends at Mad Science said they'd do their best to keep me busy. And remarkably, it seemed I now actually had the extra time I'd wanted to get rid of some more stuff and (dare I say it?) enjoy Seattle.

My phone interview with Eric was last Monday (June 6th) and it went well enough for me to get an official invitation to the interviews, which were Wednesday. I don't have time at the moment to get into too much detail but let's just say it went extremely well. I'm still planning on leaving Seattle at the end of the month but there's a pretty good chance that, when I eventually get to Florida, I might actually have a job waiting for me.

Hot damn.