Disclaimer: I apologize for the length of this post. This is mainly a journalistic post to commemorate my one-day-adventure. Feel free to skip to the end…
It was an early Monday morning. I’ve just gotten off the plane accompanied by men clad in their business attire and women with their high heels and coffees in hand. It was weird to think I would have class in a few hours; and here I was, sipping on hot tea and reading a Spirit magazine, feeling extremely rejuvenated and ready for the day. Even just a mere two and a half days back home was enough to leave me feeling great. There’s something about interacting with numerous people early on in the day that makes you feel more “alive,” in a sense. I think that’s something to take note of… I’ve never been more awake at 8 o’clock on a Monday morning.
A few hours later, as I was settling back in my room, unpacking my luggage while happily placing more posters on my walls and stuffing another pillow in my bed, I receive messages from a couple notable people. “Rachel! Check out Dia’s latest update/status: you should try to go if you can!” … “[Tagged in status update] Rachel Ann Cauilan GO REPRESENT!”
The message I see is this:
Who is Dia’s greatest fan in L.A? Must be available to audition tomorrow, October 16. Please respond with picture and contact number to email@example.com -Team DF
Are you a fan of DIA FRAMPTON from SEASON 1 of “THE VOICE”? Want to meet her and hang out? $400 AMEX gift card and great NBC gift bag, if selected. Auditions tomorrow, Tues., 10/16 in Sherman Oaks. Shoots on Thurs., 10/18 and possibly one other date. Send us a picture and why you are DIA FRAMPTON FAN ASAP to: firstname.lastname@example.org!
I could feel the butterflies start to rise in my stomach as I experience a huge adrenaline rush. I immediately drop everything that was on my mind–my weekend back home, my unpacked luggage, my shaken feeling from leaving home, my unfinished work–and immediately say YES to auditioning for this opportunity. I feel like I could’ve peed in my pants! There was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t attend this. I’d do anything to make it there. Even if it was unplanned, I’d go catch a train, take a cab, haggle for someone’s car. My attitude to this was: There’s no questioning whether or not I’m gonna do this. (And to look back at this, it’s weird how I can just drop everything and do this…) I guess I was given an opportunity of hope and something to look forward to in the midst of a boring academic life, still high off my escapades from an expired Disneyland pass and Kariktan dance performances. It was a chance opportunity I couldn’t miss. Flying back that Monday morning made me want more excitement.
It makes me happy to see that so many people think of me first when anything Frampton-related is brought up. Then again, I think 99% of the time, they misinterpret why it is I look up to them so much… (But, that’s a story for another time.) With the event happening only the next day, I was having trouble finding people who would want to drop everything they’re doing–possibly skip classes, sacrifice money, time, and patience–and to merely find someone remotely interested in Dia Frampton. With L.A. being an hour to an hour-and-a-half away, it’d make no sense to make the trip in the middle of the week on a school-day. (That’s no excuse for me!) Luckily, my two awesome Otero friends (roommate and hallmate) were gladly interested in this and thought it a fun, new experience. (How many times do opportunities like this come up?!? You only live young once!) The said plan was to head for L.A. and catch a 12:30pm AMTRAK train after my 11-12pm class Tuesday morning, then catch a cab the rest of the way to the studio in Sherman Oaks. This would be all our first times traveling public transportation in L.A. Adventure time? Woooohoo!
We ended up missing the 12:30pm train ride by a mere minute and resorted to waiting for the 1:40pm one. We killed time gallivanting around a gas station while eating a $1 buck ice cream bar while my friend, Kara, went to get fast food (which, ironically wasn’t very fast as they had us park and wait and pick it up inside about 10 minutes later with about 10 minutes to our next train. Hello time crunch!). Because of that little setback, we barely made our train and bought our tickets while the train was arriving at the station. With my friend, De, carrying his sax, me lugging my guitar on my back, and Kara with her backpack, the attendants told us to hussle over the bridge (the train was on the other side of the track!) so we don’t miss it. I was panting up and down the towering stairs, my two friends way ahead of me–to the point of no return! Right when they got to the front, the attendant was closing the doors. De was telling them to wait for me, as I hurriedly made my way there, clumsily power-walking/running lopsidedly to the front. “Go go go!” the attendant said to me, as I barely made it on. Boy am I out of shape!
The train ride took about an hour. We all sat in our seats for a good 5 minutes panting and catching our breaths. There was a 24-year-old man next to us who laughed and asked, “Are you guys okay?” We ended up having a nice conversation with the guy throughout the whole trip. He was an average-sized, stocky man of mixed descents–Hispanic, European, Filipino–and, although he was a bit awkward, he was a genuinely nice guy and we loved the company. We learned he was a culinary student who was visiting his friend in the O.C., was a Sacramento native, and was going home to his “annoying” dog (that he secretly loved) after a long day. He held an attitude that critiqued modern society, yet he loved it at the same time–culinary school is grueling, traveling for his work life is mundane, his dog is annoying… But, after some lengthy conversations about hometowns, NorCal vs SoCal, the different ethnicities in different areas, he seemed to really like us, telling us later that he thought we were awesome people. I think he saw some light in us that he missed from his college and youth days (he said he graduated culinary school at my age, 19). We talked about our hometowns, how he’s a Sacramento native, and how it took him a little getting used to public transportation down here, as he helped us a bit with navigating our ways down here. He then showed us pictures of his dog, his niece, some foods at this upscale restaurant he works at which he would hook us up for discounts if we mentioned we know Mikey in the back. Such a cool guy! After getting off the train, we took some bathroom breaks as I quickly snapped some shots and photos inside of the Union Station. This was my very first time being immersed into the L.A. city life, aside from vacation trips and set places to go to with my family… How did I find myself in the middle of L.A. mid-afternoon in the middle of the school week?!?“Hey! I’ve seen this place in the movies!” … “Haven’t they filmed here before?!?”
Already being almost 3pm (audition calls were between 2 and 4:45pm), we went to find a cab quickly. We went to the first one we saw, realized all the rates were the same, and made it to the building by 3:25pm. Surprisingly, but to no surprise at the same time, the studios were located in a some ordinary office building hidden between shacks of buildings and restaurants down a street.
We went upstairs and followed the monitors, looking into the waiting room, which was clad with an open window overseeing the street, furnished with comfy, somewhat worn-down studio chairs, couches, and other things lying around. We signed the sign-in sheet and waited. The girl before us was some marketing person auditioning, though when the casting agent came out, he seemed a bit annoyed by her. He came out for a “pre-interview” with us and, with all 3 of us being excited throughout this whole process (as it was something new, fun and entirely weird, awkward, and foreign to us), we all were having a bit of “fun” throughout the whole process. The guy, named Michael again (donning gray jeans, a fitted heather gray t-shirt with a gray beret, scruffy shaven 5 o’clock shadow and bald-cut head), asked us for our names, where we came from/how we know each other, what we’re studying, etc. He mentioned to me that he studied English in college as well and told me that you can never go wrong with it, as it’s a great thing to study in college. He added, “It’s surprising to see how little people there are out there who can actually articulate things really well… It surprises you.” He was very easy-going and seemed to, maybe, get a little bored with his job and thus “played around” with it a lot by making it interesting with conversations and poking fun at people. He was very chill and laid-back about the entire process, which definitely made us feel more welcome. We could feel the nerves coming up when we first entered, as we realized this was an actual, legit audition for a casting agency (I thought this was just a fan promo video!), and did little preparation (though, it seemed that a young woman who came after us felt just the same way, as she said her casting agent just told her to go down here today!). As the newbies we were on some outrageous, spontaneous L.A. adventure, we managed to take some pictures:
As we were waiting, I noticed another audition was taking place. Groups of little 12-year-old girls or so with their moms, all young, skinny, fair-skinned and blonde, kept coming in-and-out of the room, prepared with a monologue of some sort, a professional headshot, sitting quietly (and nervously) in their seats next to their mom prepping themselves, as their moms quietly crossed their legs and panned their eyes over some empty magazine. It was a bit strange to see that process, as it just reminded me about the truth of Hollywood. One little girl managed to talk to us a bit, asking what we were auditioning for, and she and her mom mentioned they (in reality, her) were auditioning for a small role in a movie, playing someone’s younger self.
Kara went first. De went second. I went last. Kara sang “Sunday Morning” as her talent piece, which the guy was happily impressed about, saying he “wasn’t expecting a voice like that to come out of [her]”. De played his infamous “Forget You” by Cee-Lo Green on his sax, which everyone easily loved (man it’s such an impressive and groovy song to hear on the sax!). As I went in for my audition, not knowing what to expect, I nervously–carrying myself with some artificial ease–walked in with my guitar tightly slung across my body and tried to make conversation with the guy. The room had all the electronic equipment–computer, screen, keyboard, video equipment, a desk–right up across the wall of the door, while the other half was covered in reddish-brown-maroon carpet with white tape marked on it, with a blank wall behind, lit up with a generally warm light throughout, shining towards the said “auditionee”. I stood where the tape was as the guy asked for my name, where I’m from, etc etc. He couldn’t locate my name on the list (weird, since I sent in my app last night and got a reply) and had to re-enter my information. Then, out of nowhere, he would start recording as he had me recite my name again, where I’m from, what I’m studying and what I hope to do with it someday. I, awkwardly, talked mid-casual mid-stuttering mid-I-don’t-know-how-I-should-talk-right-now-since-my-thoughts-are-all-over-the-place-from-a-long,-spontaneous,-out-of-it-day-of-traveling… I recited my name into the camera, not sure if I should say Rachel, Rachel Ann…. Rachel Ann Cauilan…. (Yes, I said it exactly like that.) My answers were jumbled inside of my head, as I knew what I wanted to say, yet what came out was–I think–gibberish! (Next time, I should remember to take a second or two after the question has been recited to process it in my head, and then say it, rather then feebishly answer right when he says it to prevent gaps!) I threw in there that I knew Dia and her band with her sister for about 6 years now, before recording. After that, he decided to get down to business and ask me the questions. He asked what it is I like about “The Voice”… which I answered, maybe a bit tangled in my thoughts… He asked me what I would do if I were to spend a day with Dia, which I casually answered, just to jam and play music and just hang out, get some cupcakes ’cause I know she likes them, and just do what we both like to do and just hang out. (What else can you do?!? … Yes, I know, maybe show her around to a couple places, go shopping, thrift, bake, cook, I don’t know..!) It all happened so fast in a mere 5 or so minutes, that he then proceeded to having me play my song, which was only for about 30 seconds. I played the intro (well, most of it) of Heart’s “Crazy On You”, my fingers getting a little caught up at some points as some of the harmonics weren’t executed right and my fingers stopped on some notes at some points (eeeek!)… I mentioned I messed up and he said he thought it was great as he played it back, and then added he hasn’t even watched “The Voice” before! All in all, he said I did a real great job and said I was really sweet. He said I was great and seemed to really like me (nonetheless, he really liked all of us for some reason… We all had the chance to have some really good chats with the guy, as we formally introduced ourselves to him after our auditions before we said goodbye. He even said we could loiter around for the rest of the day if we wanted, hah!). And, that was that.
Before I was leaving, a woman with a younger blonde female mentioned to me, “Are you auditioning for ‘The Voice’ thing? … You really look like Dia Frampton.” Hah. Kara smiled and said, “Yeah, she gets that a lot,” as De agreed, and I replied, laughing, saying, “Hah, yeah I get that a lot!”, rubbing my chest and smiling, looking down… Everyone was thinking I’d have a leg-in all because of the advantage I could be her look-a-like! (Why is it at all these “The Voice” functions, people always tell me I look like her? It’s a sign!!!!) After that, I ran into a Meg & Dia-boardie–Stephanie–who was about to audition as well. It was my first time meeting/seeing her, but it was nice to have finally formally met. It’s so nice, random, and somewhat comforting to run into these Meg & Dia-boardies, people we would’ve never known if it weren’t for the band, in the randomest of places on a random day in L.A. Hah! Upon leaving, I ran into another hopeful auditionee who said it was her first real casting audition as well, and I gave her the gist of how it went and to “just have fun” since it was a very chill process!
We cabbed it back to Union Station, caught our 5:10pm train, filled with tired workpeople and regulars drinking their alcohol in the “cafe”… I had a bit of fun walking up-and-down through all the cars while clumsily latching onto people’s chairs trying to keep balance. It was like a plane on wheels!
What a long day!
After $64 spent on public transportation–each–we arrived back in Irvine just before 7pm. But, after a long day, the adventure continued…. My R.A. from last year–TimTim–was performing at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney up in Anaheim at 7pm. He and a handful of my hallmates were going to be there, so De and I wanted to drop by and catch him there. To keep things short, I’m terrible at relaying directions and, trusting the car’s handy GPS, we ironically got stuck taking the backroads for hours. Going back and forth from free Disney parking to another parking lot (he forgot his phone/wanted to park closer), to getting lost getting back home (even though I’ve been to Disneyland 14 times in the past year) I still can’t seem to navigate–HAH! (Sorry, I’m a new driver….) But, we were safely able to catch up with my R.A., even if we were all kind of out of it, and I munched on some beignets with him. It was so nice to spend just a little time with him again. An infectious character indeed. A family is really embedded in all of us.
A day full of 12 hours running around with my guitar to catch the LA Union Station train from Irvine to taxicabbin’ it up to Sherman Oaks, to meeting two Michael’s and auditioning/chatting with some nice audition-ees, to getting lost taking the backroads around Anaheim, all to have a 5 minute audition/interview with hopeful “Dia’s biggest fan”-goers? What a day. What a life. And what a great $64 spent on public transportation. Adventure is INDEED out there, my friends. It is. Sometimes, you just gotta let go and let your gut, your instincts, and your weird uncanny ways take you on an adventure. Traveling really does reveal character.
I feel that one can learn the most, feel the most, and be happiest the most when one has something to look forward to. Don’t deprive yourself of little things because of the distance, or the seeming “impossibility”… Wildness in moderation is key. Let your living life itself speak great volumes.
It puzzles me how so many people may have “liked” my status, or even “liked” my picture from the day even more. Many people would come up to me on campus saying things like, “You’re crazy!” “You seem to be doing so many things with your life!” “I can’t believe you went out there today.” “That’s so cool that you did that!” I think that it’s those weird, uncanny, spontaneous, yet posed-in-dedication-fashion kind of acts that people are so attracted to… Surrounded by people who pursue mundane, money-making degrees, I feel that their coming across my hopeful, laid-back and stress-free attitude lured their interests. They see my will for pursuing anything writing and music, and possibly find something admirable in it (especially when surrounded by a school where only 1 out of every 100 people really seem to be doing something related to creative pursuits).
To me, it felt like an obligation for me to go out there. It seemed like a chance opportunity I couldn’t deny. I was both extremely excited and interested, and dedicated to this little ongoing ‘years of support’ I’ve had for the Frampton sisters. (Of course, as I’ve grown older, I’ve been letting go and doing things more for me now.) It didn’t seem anything outrageous. Yes, it was spontaneous and unreasonable, but, was it an exciting, engaging, and exhilarating experience for my friends and I? That is a definitive YES. An adventure? An escapade? Yes. Was it something exceptionally special? Not at all. But, it was a memorable experience. It reminded me just how desperate I may be for a little chance, and taste, of that dream of mine… It was something that spoke volumes to me, and something that will stay with me… for a long, long time… What better way to make my first audition, something of this nature?