How often has anyone sent off an application at the 11th hour?

Yesterday I picked up two recommendation letters for a competition application that needed to be posted yesterday. All I had left was to print out a resume, a headshot, burn a demo CD and label it (thank you, Memorex!), and take it to the post office. I'd done it all before. Easy, right? Sure!!

Until the Gods somehow wanted to demonstrate to me that I need a lot of patience and perseverence to do what I do. I have an audition coming up so I printed out 3 headshots instead of 1. Absentmindedly, I unplugged the printer from my computer while the 3rd one was print out. 1 sheet of expensive photo printing paper down the drain. I hate wasting paper, especially expensive photo paper. That lead to promising myself that I'd get a wireless printer in the very near future! I printed 3 resumes. Well, at least I tried: the printer grabbed the 3 sheets of fresh paper and printed one on all three of them. It could have been a flip book. After I'd crumpled up all the paper and hurled it across the room, it didn't look like a flip book anymore. It took a stack of paper in the printer to create enough of something for 3 resumes to print out correctly. Done.

The Gods were testing my patience. Really hard.

On the desk I discovered a demo CD I'd made a while back but with some old contact information on it so I printed out a new label. Piece of cake! Worked like a charm. Things were really looking up. Thanks, Gods! Much better. Karma was shifting, I was sure of it.

Before I labeled the demo CD with the new label, I threw the CD into my trusty, 12-year old Sony Discman to check it. It didn't work. It didn't work in the CD player of the big stereo, either. Uh-oh... Quick back on the internet I ensured that the post office at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport was open late; it was indeed, until 11 pm. Phew. I was safe, at least for now. I googled the problem with the CD; Google told me I needed a different type of CD, CD-R. I was using CD-RW, which doesn't work in stereos. Exactly one CD-R was left in an old box! Once upon a time I'd labeled it "new CD," meaning it was empty. Hurray!...No! No hurray! The computer didn't recognize it as a blank CD. Now there was no time to be angry: I made a mad dash to Target while calling sound engineer friends all panicked--what kind of CD did I really need to buy? CD-RW or CD-R? And what is CD+R? The two friendly employees at Target ensured me that CD-R would work. I picked up a new pack of Memorex labels, too. A sound engineer friend called me back: CD-R. Another sound engineer friend called me back: CD-R. I paid and hitched it back home. Problem solved!

Easy-peasy!

That was indeed the problem, the CD-R was the format I needed. I burned the demo in a matter of seconds, dropped it into my trusty test Discman and voila! It worked! Demo done! I slapped on the label, put the packet together, and made the trip to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport Post Office. The employee cancelled the stamps with yesterday's date on it right in front of me. It was like she knew that would help calm me down! Home again I headed.

On the drive, I considered what it takes to get an application together and how I can improve the process for next time (I'm sure there will be quite a few 'next times.'), as now would be a very good time to improve that process. Applications are pretty normal, whereas burning my own demos is relatively new to me; but a wonderful discovery I've made in the last year or two. I really enjoyed creating my own demo! With all the technology we have at our fingertips, it's easy to do quite a bit of self-publishing and self-promotion. Plus, with digital recorders, it's easier to make our own recordings and considerably less spendy than hiring someone with a DAT recorder, like in college. That was pretty expensive.

The first person I hired to create some promotional materials for me was expensive, too. After I had my stationery, I hired him to make 50 demos for me to send out. Turns out he wasn't exactly what one might call 'proactive' when it came to getting work done, something that worsened as the project lagged on, and when he finally got the demos to me about a year and a half after we'd started the project, he didn't even charge me for them. That was a good choice on his part, but really: I wished I had learned how to do it myself. It would have been much, much faster. Now I'm happy to say that I can do it myself and I do it myself. This is simply the right option for me. Other people prefer to hire someone else to do it: also a great idea!

Satisfied after a dinner of pizza and wine and plenty of TV (a rarity in my schedule), I settled into bed last night, thinking nice thoughts about all I had accomplished yesterday, including the application. Suddenly: a realization! I burst out laughing at the absolute absurdity and utter humor of an application incredibly well conceived and stressfully executed:

I forgot to sign the cover letter.

Next time.