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Silent Fucking Night

If only I could feel as glamorous about this as Sophia looks...

If only I could feel as glamorous about this as Sophia looks...

No calls December 24 and 25, just one call today so far… Oh, this winter holiday slump. I don't know if it's industry wide, but I know my boss frequently brings it up. Of course, it's tax season in April, and the weather's nice after that, and then school's out… there is always going to be some reason why the calls aren't coming, and there is no reason whatsoever why, on other days in the same season, the calls are flooding in.

If there were a formula, we'd all know it, and she'd only keep the lines open for those days, and we operators would only sign up for those hours. But there is no formula, and she needs to present the illusion that she has *Girls*Girls*Girls*, a huge selection at all hours of the day and night, so I cover my shifts and then some, and make sure to dress warm and stock up on coffee on a regular basis, because if this is the way it's going to be, I have to stay on call in the hopes of making the bills.

Sigh.

I have a line in my play Phone Whore, where I talk about this perennial being-on-callness:

"On a slow day I can make an apple crisp and do three loads of laundry, but I can't really leave the house. If I leave the house I'm not getting calls, if I'm not getting calls, I'm not making any money. [PAUSE] I feel trapped sometimes."

To this day, five years after I began rehearsing Phone Whore, that line remains one of the truest things I have ever written about doing phone sex. It's the one that makes me almost want to cry sometimes, right in the middle of performing that play, because I know when I'm off tour I will go back to being trapped.

And this is the problem with the on-call thing: I'm trapped only by the possibility of getting calls. If I were actually getting calls, like, that steady stream that everyone imagines that I must be getting, then I'd be grumpusing about Extreme Top and about not having a chance to make that apple crisp, but at least I'd be making strides toward making rent next month. The way it's been for the past few days, I went out only to spend a lot of money (on car repairs), and then came back in to earn a lot of nothing.

I try to shift out of this scarcity mentality by reminding myself that this is my job, not my career, and I pour myself into getting the next Sidewalk Smut collection together, sorting out the tour calendar for next year, corresponding with venues and producers and wannabe-producers, procrastinating on the scriptwriting, scheduling the rehearsing… This is the thing that I need to be doing anyway, right? This is my actual career. I need to be focusing on this. Silent nights like last night, like today, I actually need some of that to keep my performance rocket in orbit.

But still, at the end of the day, I must eat and stay fed, and phone work is still the way that happens when I'm off tour, and oh dearie me, these slow days, these dead days, to the outside eye they are quiet, but on the inside they stir the little puddle of panic that is always there, until it is sloshing around inside me making everything taste like fear and not enough food.

And because it is a silent night, I have enough room in my awareness to really feel it.

Ow.

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