I think the idea of having to “pay your dues” to become successful is an interesting idea. As if struggle is a necessary step in the scientific order of success. I wouldn't say I've struggled in Los Angeles. No. I've been lucky. I've been lucky to survive.
My family. Mom was a bookkeeper, teacher, and all-star Mother. Dad, a veteran and a physicist. Bobby was rich, then saw he was poor and became a priest. Debbie, an accountant and mother of four. Scott, an engineer, dedicated coach, and father of four. Jennifer, a PHD and mother of two. Sarah does impressive math…stuff with NASA. Even with this gross simplification of their accomplishments, you can get the idea that looking up to my parents and my brothers and sisters has been like looking at a Pish family Mount Rushmore of success.
And me? Just since I've moved to Los Angeles three years ago, I've been a comedy management intern, a comedy club maintenance man, a running shoe specialist, a movie dialogue transcriber, a driver for Uber AND Lyft, and a background character in dozens of TV shows and movies. I've been a server at a hotel, a server at a restaurant, a server at a television studio, and a server at more than enough ritzy parties. I also broke down a festival at a children’s school. Oh and I can’t leave out that I've been Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Captain America, and Darth Vader for children’s birthday parties. …Not exactly enough to chisel my head into a crowded Pish family Mount Rushmore. But definitely a mouthful.
I spent five years completing a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I have that college degree, and I spent an entire afternoon by myself at a comedy club cleaning up a pungently-overflowing toilet for class credit. I have that college degree, and I worked for nearly a year with a boss that hated me because my car was broken into — I called into work to ask off so I could file a police report, was told I could, and then the next day was told that “I couldn't be trusted.” I have that college degree, and I worked at a restaurant where every day my boss looked over my shoulder to remind me to grab a fork before grabbing a knife because doing otherwise would be inefficient. I still have that college degree, and yesterday, I worked at a party where I picked up trash and only realized after grabbing said trash that the paper-napkin looking thing was actually a cold ball of mushy mozzarella.
I’m not saying any of this to say I’m better than it. That’s the point. I’m a college graduate and a willing fixer of toilets because I have a dream. I have a dream to become a paid actor. I’m not far away from realizing that dream. I truly believe that. I will continue to sacrifice a lot to realize that dream. I willingly submit myself to condescension. My bosses can condescend to me as much as they want. Call me “Andrew Pish — defeater of overflowing toilets” and condescend away, bosses of the future! I don’t mind. I’m successful.
For now, my success can’t be measured by the acting jobs I've been paid for, but that’s okay. Maybe my success can be measured by the consistent amount of effort I expend every day to wake up with my head held high and hopeful. Maybe by the amount of times I've bit my tongue as I've had a boss scold me. Maybe in the strength of my belief that I will succeed. Whatever it is, I’m loving every step of the journey.
So. These are the things I've done and do to survive in Los Angeles. “Survive” sounds drastic. But “thrive” sounds pompous. Maybe these are just the things I've done to live in Los Angeles.
Crap. I have to wake up for work in four hours.