Tuesday, September 07, 2010

concrete jungle where dreams are made of

Note: I wrote this on my last night in NYC with the intention of putting it up here - the face that it's taken me a month to post this should give you an idea of how busy I've been. A full explanation will be coming shortly; all sorts of new fun stories, people!

I moved to New York just over eleven years ago. I vividly remember my first night unpacking all of my things, hooking up my computer to a phone jack by stringing a telephone cord across a hallway, being afraid to open my windows, and not believing that I was finally living here.

Tonight is my last night in New York. I don't know how much my feelings about this place have changed; I just know that I'm changed. And all that enthusiasm I had for subways and traffic and crowds is now focused on sky and trees and grills and dogs and space.

Much like that night, I know that I am on the precipice of an extraordinary adventure; an undiscovered country lies ahead of me. But I am so much of a better person for the life that I've lived here, the experiences I've had, the things I've seen, the people I've met...oh, the people. So many that have touched my life in so many different ways. I am grateful for them all.

Sometimes I feel as if I should be sad, mostly when I say goodbye to someone I care deeply about, like my sister-in-law, or the Flying Squirrel, or my brother - the only one who has been here every step of the way with me. But the goodbyes come, and my eyes stay dry, because in my heart of hearts I know that this is right, that I have to leave, to have new adventures and experiences. It's my time. I have to seize it.

I am excited to be going forth, but I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the imprint this city had on me. Has. For better or worse, New York City has made me who I am, and I am proud to carry that forth. I always will be.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

so you want an update, huh?

I'm permanently leaving New York and moving to...

Sleepy Hamlet.

How's that for a shocker, huh?

I'd write more, but I'm too busy packing up my life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

ten things i learned on vacation

1. I'm good at traveling

I went on a ten day excursion to Sleepy Hamlet and Las Vegas - two very different climates and two very different atmospheres. And yet I managed to fit everything into a carry-on-sized bag. Winner.

I also left my laptop at home, relying on my Palm Pre and iPod Touch, and had no internet access in Vegas other than my phone. If you've ever met me, you know that's a minor miracle.

2. I can't treat my body the way that I used to

One of the few positives of my crappy temp job is that since I don't take lunch breaks (because I don't get paid) I bring healthy food to work. I've kind of shifted into a grazing mode: a handful of almonds and cranberries here, an apple there, a turkey sandwich at lunch. Occasionally I'll have a bag of chips or some chocolate, but that's the exception to the rule. Dinners have been pretty light - mostly chicken or fish with some vegetables. I've also been working out pretty consistently these days, and I've cut back on the drinking.

On vacation?

Multiple drinks most nights. I got completely hammered at least three times, and had one of the worst hangovers of my life. On a different morning, I woke up still drunk from the night before. I ate loads of red meat and greasy food. Salt. Fat. Sugar. Very little exercise (unless you count "twelve ounce curls" as working out).

Five years ago, I could eat that without skipping a beat. Now? I feel sluggish, bloated, slow. I went grocery shopping tonight and I've never been so excited to buy fruits and vegetables. This must be a sign of me getting old.

3. I'm ready to go back to Sleepy Hamlet

The first leg of the trip was spent in my old stomping grounds, and I had a great time. My man Leprechauna Jones and his lady came up from LA. I stayed with an extremely cool chick who we'll call The Prodigy (another story for another time). I saw all my old peeps. Everyone had such nice things to say to me, and more than one person said, "They need to bring you back here." Normally I just laugh stuff like that off...but this time was different.

I hate admitting that I want acting jobs, because that opens up a whole can of worms, but I really want to live there again, to work there as an actor. Never thought I'd say that.

We'll see if it happens.

4. I miss having a community

One of the reasons that I love Sleepy Hamlet is because of the network of friends I have there. Not only do they know me, but they know and like each other. I feel like I have a real clump of people who have my back. I love them like family. It was really hard to leave them this time...but then I went to Vegas and met up with my actual clan...

5. My family is remarkable

I had a great time in Sleepy Hamlet, but it was exhausting. I really wasn't looking forward to spending four days in Vegas for a birthday party/family reunion. I've got some crazy family members who get on my nerves, and I was afraid that it was going to be a disaster.

Instead, it was delightful.

I spent some quality time with several cousins that I hadn't seen in years. We ate, we drank, we gambled, we sang, we prayed, we laughed. And I was really reminded of my legacy. I am related to some remarkable, talented, intelligent people.

One experience stands out. We had a Father's Day brunch on Sunday, and my brother had already agreed to sing one of his songs. As always, my cousin who generally plays the MC tried to get me to perform something. My attitude is generally, "Why? Who wants to see a monologue out of context?" But she kept badgering and badgering, and finally I relented. I got up in the little room we had reserved and busted out forty lines of my best Shakespeare.

I have never received such an ovation in my life.

If you've never had the change to have several generations of your family applaud you and give you hugs and pounds and kisses, you really have to do something to make that happen. It's an amazing feeling. To be able to share your art with your own flesh and blood - and to have them get it, really get it...wow.

The coolest part was that my brother played after me, and then my father got up and said that he was proud of us, and proud of the whole family for working to make it possible for us to get to the place where we're able to share our gifts. He talked about talents of previous generations who didn't get the chance to shine due to various circumstances, and said that my brother and I are reminders that you can really do anything you want to, if you're willing to work hard. It was really great to hear him verbalize that. I don't know that I've ever been prouder of my dad.

So yesterday was a great day. Then I hopped on a redeye back to New York, got home at six, crawled into bed at eight, and couldn't stop my brain from racing. Because, over the past few hours, the following realization had crept over me:

6. I'm not in a good place

While the validation from my family was great, in some strange way it magnified the misery I've been feeling lately. I hate this temp job with a passion, and I feel like it's keeping me away from doing what I want to do. I had just spent ten days with two great communities that I belong to...only to come back to New York and realize that I don't have one here. Sure, I have great friends here, but they're all individual friendships; there's no greater connection to a whole.

On the female front, I've been rejected by girls I liked twice in the past two weeks, and I kept having this visceral reaction in the pit of my stomach whenever I would see couples holding hands, or kissing. At first, I thought I was just turned off by PDA a little more than normal, but as I thought about it more and more, I kept returning to the horrible conclusion that I first blurted out to my therapist a couple of months ago, which is:

7. I want to be in a relationship

It really hurts me to admit that. I feel like I'm supposed to be independent right now - after all, I was with Maxine on and off for almost eight years, and during most of those "off" times I usually had someone around. I feel like I'm supposed to be ok with being alone. But I have to face facts, and confront the truth: I would really love to have a partner.

You know what the worst part of this is?

8. It's logistically impossible for me to be in a relationship right now

I realized that truth last night, after reading an e-mail from The Prodigy telling me that she wasn't interested in having a relationship with me. Now, there's a bit more to the story than that, but nevertheless my feelings were really hurt. After thinking it through, however, I realized that my travel schedule over the next few months and my economic condition isn't so conducive to a healthy relationship. Sure, I could make something work long-distance, but I've already done that, and I don't know if that's the kind of relationship I want right now.

9. I don't know how much longer I'm going to be in New York

Something else I realized in my talks with The Prodigy (it was an intense few days) is that I'm not sure how much longer I want to be here. I'm not living the kind of life I want to lead. My competitive nature is the one thing keeping me here; I feel a need to prove that I can compete with the best actors in the world, and land parts in high profile projects. But I'm broke, working a lousy job for lousy pay, and I'm not auditioning right now, and my apartment (while a great deal for the city) is tiny and expensive. I just keep thinking, "Why am I doing this? For what?"

Why shouldn't I move to a smaller regional city, like San Francisco or Seattle or Washington or Denver or Minneapolis and work a lot and teach on the side? I could have an apartment, get a teaching job, meet a nice girl and settle down and get married and start a family. Why not?

Because, if I never gave New York a fair shot, I wouldn't be able to live with myself. I don't want to be 55 looking back and saying, "Oh, I could've done this and that, blah blah blah." I want no regrets. So, every though I deny myself pleasure after pleasure, I have to keep pushing. It's immensely frustrating.

So, in summation, what did this week teach me?

10. I have no clue where I'm going

For most of the past decade, I've been able to tell you what I'm going to be doing five years from now. Not with any freakish degree of accuracy, mind you, but I could say, "I'm going to be an actor based out of New York, and I'm going to be with Maxine." Breaking up with her last fall changed all that. Suddenly my life had no anchor. I was free to move in any direction I wanted. Sometimes that has been pleasant, but most of the time I've felt paralyzed. I suppose, however, that recognizing this is some small victory. You have to know where you are before you know where you're going, right?

Two things to close with. Yesterday, I was sitting with my mother in the hotel room. She was trying to give me money, as usual. As usual, I was trying not to take it. But my poverty trumped my pride, and I relented. My mother bent down, cradled my face in her hands, and said, "I just hope that you find whatever it is that you're looking for."

I almost bawled. I have no idea how I held it together. I think I muttered thanks and looked away quickly, but I was just in amazement that she could see right through me like that. I guess that I shouldn't be that amazed. She is my mother, after all. She just wants the best for me.

Which brings me to the other thing.

We got goodie bags for the whole weekend, and much of our swag was cancer-related. (Several of my family members have battled cancer, so many of us are involved in cancer fighting charities.) This was the night of my massive hangover, so I was feeling particularly crappy. I took the bag from my cousin, who pointed out something in their that she didn't want me to lose. Perched on top of the purple tissue paper was an elastic bracelet wrapped in plastic. In the center of the bracelet was a grey bead with a single word printed on it.

It spoke to me. It was just what I needed. I ripped open the plastic, and put it on my wrist straightaway. I'm wearing it now.

It's a reminder. Things may be tough now...but tomorrow brings endless possibility, of brightness just around the corner.


That may be all I have, but it's a pretty powerful something.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

changing the paradigm (i need a nice girl)

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I tend to experience...ahem..."girl drama".

If you know me in real life, you would probably agree that I tend to date CRAZY women.

It's true. I don't deny this. I tend to have a weakness for icy, bitchy, beautiful women, who are mean and/or selfish. Or flaky, flighty women who have random mood swings and do irrational things that freak me out. Like print t-shirts with my name on them. Or plan spontaneous trips to visit me when they know I'm dating someone else.

Yeesh. It looks worse when I type it.

Anyway, I'm trying to actively change the type of woman I date. Some of the qualities that I'm looking for can't be changed; for example, it is impossible for me to date someone who hates theater. Or who isn't honest. Or has a flat butt. But I'm trying to put more of an emplasis on women who value some of the things I do: family, courtesy, tact.


Above all, I'm looking for someone who is nice. I used the phrase "big-hearted" recently - not sure that I've dated someone like that since high school.

I had an encounter a few weeks ago that showed me I'm making some progress.

I'm in Brooklyn on a Friday night, and I passed a beautiful woman with an Afro on her cell phone. I am intrigued. I get to my destination, and as I wait outside I see her again. Still on her phone. She smiles. I smile. She approaches me.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Excuse me, can I ask you a question?

ME: Of course.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Would you mind doing me a favor?

Uh-oh. Alarms bells going off.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: I'm trying not to run into my ex-boyfriend, and I think he may be inside this bar. Would you mind going inside and checking to see if he's there?

Now, obviously, I'm thinking BULLSHIT. Obviously, this woman is just looking for an excuse to talk to me. It's a lame one, but I'm kind of impressed that she came up with something so...so...dumb. And, you know, having a pretty girl make dumb excuses to talk to me is kind of awesome. It makes my ego feel good. So I decide to play along.

ME: Uh...sure.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: He's got dreadlocks. He's really corny-looking.

"Corny-looking"? Really? What the hell does that mean?

ME: Uh...ok.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Oh, thank you. You are so nice!

I go into the bar. It is Buppie central. (Black Urban Professionals, for the uninitiated.) I walk the length of the bar. There is exactly one guy in the place with dreadlocks - and he's the DJ. And, if a girl's ex-boyfriend is a DJ, she's going to say, "Look for the DJ."

Armed with this information, I return to the front, where she is still standing (and still on her cell phone).

ME: The only guy in there with 'locks is the DJ.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Was he real corny-looking?

ME: Uh, I don't know...sure.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Yeah, that's him. You are so nice! Thank you!

We exchange names and chit-chat for a bit, and then she moves off to finish her phone call. My friends arrive (The Flying Squirrel and her friend). We walk through the club, decide that it's not our scene, and head across the street. I see my new friend walking away down the street. Too bad, I think. I had been planning on asking her to join us.

We go to the bar across the street. As we enter, I'm thinking, "She was cute, and she was obviously interested in you. And it's New York, so if you see someone you like, you need to go for it!" I excuse myself and head back out into the street.

No sign of her.

I walk in the direction where I last saw her.


I walk around the entire block.


Oh well, I think. I cross the street and prepare to head back to my friends...when I see her coming towards me on the street. Still on her phone. I approach her:

ME: Excuse me, Pretty Woman W/Afro?

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: (to person on phone) Hold on a minute, Darnell. (to me) Yes?

ME: I just wanted to ask you if you wanted to get a drink or coffee sometime.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Hmmm. Well, I don't know. You were acting kind of stuck up back there.

Um, what?

ME: I don't know what you mean. I was waiting for my friends to arrive, and when I turned around you were walking down the street. I was going to ask you to join us.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Hmmm, I don't know. Well...how old are you?

I tell her my age.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Okay, okay, I'm thirty, okay, that works. Well...what do you do?

It is at this point that I seriously consider walking away. These are pointed questions. I feel like I'm being interrogated. But, hey, I am a guy who follows through. In karate, as a kid, the tenth rule was ALWAYS FINISH WHAT YOU START. I must finish this. This is how I roll. So, against my better judgement, I answer:

ME: I'm an actor.

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Okay, okay, so that means you must be creative. You look like someone who can sing.

Um, what?

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: Okay, okay, I could go out with you. Yeah.

ME: Well, how should we do this? Should I take your number, or do you want to give me yours, or can I give you my card...?

PRETTY WOMAN W/AFRO: A card? That's just so impersonal. (to person on phone) Darnell, I'm going to have to call you back.

Yes, that entire conversation took place WHILE SHE WAS ON THE FUCKING PHONE.

We exchange info, I go inside and hang with my friends.

I tell this story twice over the next two days: first, to a group of female friends, who are vehemently opposed to me going out with her. "If she's going to make you jump through all those hoops now and play these games," one friend says, "she's going to do that the whole time, You don't want to mess with that."

The second time was at our annual Mother's Day brunch: my brother, sister-in-law and I drove up to New England to have brunch with Voice & Sandwich, Grandma, my aunt, and my cousins. After the story, my mother looks distressed. "I just don't like this," she says.

ME: So you're saying you don't trust my taste in women?


We all laughed. It was kind of shocking, hearing that from my mother. And eye-opening.

So, of course, I call this woman on Thursday night, as I'm headed out for the evening.

At this point you're probably thinking, where are these changes? This seems like another pursuit of crazy.

Well, yes.

But as the phone was ringing, I found myself hoping that she wouldn't pick up. When she called me back the next evening, I didn't pick up. And a couple of days later, I deleted her number from my phone, without calling her back.

If she treats a stranger like that, is she really the nice girl I'm looking for?

It took me a while to get there, but I consider this progress.

Monday, May 03, 2010

working boy

Hey y'all.

I've been wanting to write this post for several days, but...I've been working.


Unfortunately, I'm working at a temp job.


It's at a "financial services" company, and it's not great. Why?

- I got one day of training, from the nice woman who had the job before me. This consisted of going through a two page list with her, filled with things like, "Order water when it gets low," and "Make sure we have enough paper." This in-depth tutorial was occasionally punctuated by my teacher exclaiming things like, "It's my last day!" alternating with, "I'm moving to Hawaii!" Good for her. Really. Abso-fucking-lutely GREAT for her.

- The office is SILENT. Like a monastery. The people are nice, but biting into an apple feels like you've just farted in church. My brother called me at my desk today, and I could barely have a conversation with him because I felt like the whole office was listening in and judging me.

- I'm working with a lot of concepts that I'm not quite comfortable with. There's always a learning curve with a new job, and it always feels like Mount Everest when you start. Right now I'm just starting the climb, sans Sherpa. Because my Sherpa is moving to Hawaii, you see.

(Side note. I have a feeling that one of the reasons that this job is "not great" is because, whenever I'm asked how I'm liking it, I say It's "not great", you know what I mean? Perhaps we have a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy on our hands, youknowhatimsayin?)

Anyway, the one bright spot is that I do have unsupervised computer access, so I can read the occasional e-mail and check out the odd web page now and again. Despite my deep reservations, I'm committing to staying at this place through mid-July; we'll reevaluate the situation then. Let's hope that I land a fabulous acting job...

For now, I'm headed to bed. Why? Because I had to get up at six to get a workout in before heading to the office, that's why. See how hard my life is?

(Less whiny in the next post. Promise.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

the welcome home whirlwind

It's amazing how quickly things can change. One minute, you're on top of the world. The next, you feel like life is kicking you in the face. Repeatedly.

With that said, here's the basic timeline of my first 48 hours back in New York.

appx 3:45pm: Plane touches down at LaGuardia. I briefly consider kissing the tarmac, but remember that I'm back in the city, and decide to pass.

3:50pm: My bag is heavy. My bookbag broke last weekend, so I'm stuck carting around my computer and my other essentials in my gym bag, which was not built to carry heavy stuff. My shoulder hurts.

3:55pm: Luggage arrives.

4:00pm: Get into a cab to take me home. The cab driver is a cheery African who smokes a cigarette and blares loud reggae music. I am so excited to be home that I don't mind.

4:30pm: Home! I open the door to my apartment and am greeted by the sound of my smoke detector. This means I need to buy a battery. My apartment is very dusty, and my bathroom smells funny. I chalk this up to my month-long absence.

4:45pm: Talk to the Brooklyn Squirrel on the phone in front of a drug store. It is a perfect day. There are beautiful people everywhere. I am so happy to be back in my neighborhood.

5:00pm: Equipped with batteries (on sale!) and some frozen yogurt (also on sale!), I return home. I feel like I am floating. There is no tension in my body. I am only slightly anxious about running into my ex-girlfriend. I think to myself, Perhaps this represents a turning point in your life. Perhaps things are going to totally go your way over the next few weeks. Perhaps your life will transform for the better, right now!

In retrospect, I totally jinxed myself.

5:15pm: I investigate the smell in my bathroom. It smells faintly of vanilla. I notice that I have left my vanilla-scented candle jar unscented all month. Maybe the caged-up vanilla smell goes bad when it is trapped in a small space, I think. I open the lid to my toilet. I realize that the candle has nothing to do with the smell: sewage has backed up into my toilet. It is truly disgusting. It will not flush. The only description I will give you: a layer of mold is on the top.

5:20pm: I call the front desk. They tell me that no one is around to fix it, but they will submit a work order. I will have to use the public restrooms in the building. I decide to not worry about it, and turn on the TV to watch some playoff hoops as I dust.

5:22pm: The cable goes out.

5:45pm: After two phone calls to the cable company and several attempts to reboot, I am informed that there is a problem with my cable box, and that technicians will have to come out to fix things. "How is Thursday afternoon?" the cheery cable lady asks. I wish that I could punch her in the face.

6:00pm: I dust. I call my parents. They tell me that things will get better. We talk sports.

8:40pm: I arrive at The Hot Wing's house for dinner - she has agreed to cook for me. Her cat is happy to see me.

8:50pm: I play with the cat. I don't like cats, but I'm a nice guy. We play gentle, then a little rough, then gentle.

9:30pm: We eat. We catch up. The Hot Wing is awesome.

11:30pm: I go home to work on sides for my audition. I only found about it on Friday. I am worried that, even though it is only two pages, I am not prepared enough.

12:30am: I go downstairs to use the bathroom. I feel like an idiot. There is no soap in the bathroom. Or paper towels. I feel gross.

1:30am: Sleep. I am happy to be in my comfortable bed.

9:15am: Rise and shine. I notice that I have bug bites on my right hand and left arm.

11:00am: I arrive for my audition. I endured train trauma, but this is already a long post.

11:10am: I perform my audition. The response is enthusiastic. I am elated.

11:15am: I speak to my temp agent, who has a job for me on Tuesday. I am elated.

12:00pm: I hang out in my building's new workout facility, where my sister-in-law is showing people how to use the equipment. We catch up. My sister-in-law is awesome. I check in with the maintenance guys, and they tell me they will be by at four to fix the toilet.

2:30pm: I buy lunch and go grocery shopping. The bug bites still itch. I put anti-itch cream on them. I check around my bed for spiders and around my ceiling for mosquitoes. I find nothing.

4:00pm: Maintenance doesn't show up.

6:00pm: I meet The Flying Squirrel for coffee. We catch up. The Flying Squirrel is awesome.

7:30pm: We eat dinner at a cool new restaurant. I keep scratching my hand. This bug bite is really bothering me.

9:30pm: Home. I resort to watching games on the internet. My bites are itching like crazy. The cream is not helping.

11:30pm: I try to get myself ready for bed, because I want to work out in the morning before my temp job. I set my alarm for six. I have to go downstairs to use the bathroom. There's still no soap or towels. Fortunately I have brought hand sanitizer. I feel slightly less gross. I search the bed and sheets again for bugs or spiders. I wonder if I was bit at my Heartland apartment.

1:15am: I finally get in bed. My hand and arm itch to the point of pain. I reset the alarm for six fifteen.

3:50am: I wake to my hand throbbing. I look at it and notice that it is swollen to a ridiculous state. I start to panic. I debate going to the hospital, but decide that I am being a wuss.

4:00am: I research spider bites online. I gross myself out.

4:30am: I remember that The Hot Wing's cat, while playing with me, nipped my hand. I wonder if that is the cause of the pain. I put ice on my hand and arm and that helps somewhat.

5:15am: I finally go back to sleep. I scrap my plan to work out at 6:15.

8:15am: Rise and shine. I am exhausted.

8:30am: My hand is so swollen that I cannot bend my wrist. Under my skin I see a red streak that extends from my wrist to my elbow. The lump on my left arm is now the size of a mini candy bar. This makes getting dressed in my fancy temp clothes difficult.

8:50am: I leave for my temp job. I decide to tell them upon arrival that I will have to go see my doctor. I call my mother, who confirms my decision.

9:30am: I arrive at my temp job. I am told to wait. I sit down on the couch.

9:35am: The other employee from my temp agency arrives. She has been informed that the job has been cancelled.

9:37am: I check my phone. There is a voice mail. It is from my temp agency, telling me to go home because the temp job has been cancelled.

9:45am: I call my doctor's office. They initially tell me that there's no way to see the doctor today, but after I explain my problem they tell me they will call back.

10:00am: I eat breakfast at McDonald's (I didn't want to go all the way home, ok?). I talk to The Hot Wing, who is on a break from jury duty. She is mortified and apologetic. I tell her that it is not her fault. Or her cat's.

10:10am: The phone rings again. It is the doctor's office. My doctor can see me at one.

11:00am: I arrive home. I change out of my fancy temp clothes into my regular Rover clothes. My toilet is still not fixed. I call the maintenance guys. They say they will come up.

11:30am: My temp agent calls to apologize. During her call, the maintenance guys arrive. The toilet is fixed. The maintenance guys are awesome.

12:50pm: I arrive at the doctor's office. My doctor sees me quickly.

1:00pm: I am examined on the table. The red streak now extends from my wrist almost to my armpit. The doctor excuses herself.

1:10pm: The doctor returns. You have an infection from the cat bite, she says. We're going to start you on antibiotics, and I'm going to give you a tetanus shot.

Great, I say. I can still work out while I'm taking this right?

My doctor gives me a withering look.

Um, NO, she says. You have a VERY bad infection. You need to rest for a few days before you start exerting yourself.

My doctor is awesome.

1:50pm: My prescription is filled. This is the fourth time I am on antibiotics in the past seven months. Ironically, I still have four pills left in my pack of probiotics, which, you know, you take after a course of antibiotics. I find this hilarious.

2:15pm: I eat lunch with my brother and his drummer. We make fun of various and sundry things, including: the drummer, for her slow lunch order; the burger joint's soundtrack; internet videos and websites; the sheer size of my antibiotics. We take a picture to document the growth of my stunning man beard. It is a beautiful day. My hand and arm have stopped itching so much. I am drinking an Arnold Palmer. Things are better. My parents were right. They usually are.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


We had a brush-up rehearsal for our show tonight, which meant that we ran through the thing at about half the emotional intensity. I'm usually starving after work, and I don't have a bunch of stuff at the apartment, so after the run I went to IHOP. I kept thinking about eggs as I drove over, and I was determined to order something (a) healthy and (b) inexpensive.

So what did I order?

Chicken-friend steak with three eggs and three pancakes. And a carafe of coffee (decaf). Seventeen bucks with tip.

And...I feel like crap.

I always do this. I always try to eat with the idea of eating healthy foods that will fuel my body and keep me slim. My taste buds, however, somehow seem to circumvent the process and take control just as I'm ordering. That's why I've been on a fast-food jag the last week or so.

It's a constant battle. I love food. I love eating out, and I love cooking, and I love watching cooking shows, and I love reading restaurant reviews...I just think all of it is great. I wish I could just eat what I want all of the time.

Then, I snap back to reality.

First of all, I'm single. I think that my chances of finding an attractive mate rise as my stomach flattens. So there's that. There's also a history of high blood pressure in my family. Most importantly, right now, is that men in my family, when they reach their early-to-mid-thirties, tend to put on weight. And I can't play the kinds of roles that I'm playing now if I'm carrying around thirty extra pounds.

So I try to watch what I eat.

And I try to go to the gym.

And I beat myself up when I fail at those two tasks.

This week? I've been to the gym once (yesterday) and I've had fast food multiple times. You can guess how my psyche feels.

Time to drink water and cleanse myself...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

life in the heartland

I've been trying to get this post up for the better part of a week, but free time has been in short supply. I'm playing a pretty big role in the show I'm doing here, so I have to kind of line up my day to make sure that I get enough rest, food, sneak a workout in, etc. This leaves precious little blogging time. But here I am, staying up late for you, dear reader. See? I care about this blog!


I'm currently working at a small Midwestern college, located in an even smaller town in the middle of nowhere. Until my parents came last week, I thought that this town didn't even have chain restaurants. Fortunately, they were staying at the other end of town, where all of the "stuff" is located. So my experience has improved in the last week quite a bit - I'm ashamed to say this, but it's amazing what Starbucks can do for one's psyche.

It's been really lonely here, as I alluded to in the post below. And the work, at times, has been frustrating. Two of the students that I rely the most on in the show have been disasters. One can't learn his lines to save his life; the other has a very laissez-faire attitude. As we've moved closer to opening, they've been better - if you consider "paraphrasing whole swaths of text" and "missing an entrance during dress rehearsal "better. They're very nice, though, so it's really hard to kill them for anything. I keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be a learning experience. To be fair, most of the students have really good work ethics, and the young woman who plays my love interest has been a delight. That helps immensely.

Another strange phenomenon here is the publicity for the show. Basically the top half of the posters they've designed is a big color photo of my now-bearded face, staring intently into the viewer's soul. (Which is kind of hilarious, because when they took the picture I was looking directly into the sun, and my thoughts alternated between, "Can I shut my eyes now?" and "I wonder how much damage this is doing to my retinas?") These posters are EVERYWHERE on campus - the cafeteria, glaring at me as I eat; the gym, watching me on the elliptical; and standing guard at seemingly every building entrance on campus. It's really really freaky. It becomes hilarious when I walk past the poster when someone is nearby - invariably they'll glance back and forth between the photo and me. I really wish I could record people's reactions - they're that entertaining.

Anyway, these posters have kind of made me infamous on campus; everyone seems to know me. Now, very rarely is anyone actually talking to me, but more often than not I'm getting that flicker of recognition when I walk past someone. I guess I know what it's like to be famous. I don't like it.

I know that there have been several inquiries (or assumptions) concerning my current status with the ladies. I'll save that one for the next post...coming this weekend...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

why am i back?

Interruption my orgy of television shows on Hulu to post - see how dedicated I am to this comeback?

I'm not quite sure why I stopped writing in the first place. It was probably a combination of several factors: burnout from blogging every single day in 2008, depression from the end of my relationship, not having internet at home for a couple of months, being really really sick for three months.

I also think that, when I don't have a whole lot nice to say, I tend not to say anything. And 2009 was really quite horrible for me. A week and a half ago, on my last night in New York, I ran into a close friend of mine from grad school at a bar in Brooklyn. I hadn't seen him in over a year, which is super strange, because he's one of the few guy friends I have in the city. He's a great guy, he's super fun...and yet I couldn't think of a good reason why I hadn't called him. Well, here's the reason: I was just in a funk, and I really didn't want to deal with anybody, save for about a half dozen of my closest, closest friends. This is all fascinating to me in hindsight.

Anyway, part of the reason why I'm writing now is because I'm in a tiny tiny town with no one to talk to. I spend my days doing one of four things: eating, surfing the internet, rehearsing, or working out. Life is simple. It's simple because I really don't have any other options, or ways to complicate my life. I'm working with a bunch of college students, so I can't really hang out with them. My director and producer, while nice, have their own families and are both at least fifteen years old than I am. And the people in this town...well...not to get all racist on you, but they're kind of the definition of "redneck", and I don't feel like I have a lot in common with them. I'm kind of afraid to stroll into the bar by myself, know what I mean? Making matters more difficult is that I'm living in a basement apartment, which means my cell phone service is practically nonexistent. I have a hard line, but I can't make long distance calls.

In a word, I'm isolated. Which I actually think isn't a bad thing for me right now. But it does mean that this blog becomes a window out into the world for me again, and I actually find that kind of exciting.

I have all kinds of things I want to write about: this town, the show I'm working on, the freaky experience of literally seeing your face staring at you every where you go, and (of course) my female situation (which is probably most important to those of you who know me in real life). We'll get to that. For now, I just want to say thanks for sticking with me. More to come...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

we're back, bitches

With a mini-vengence, let's hope.

I'll start things off gently, by sharing with you one of my favorite websites. Happy browsing.

I'm in the Heartland for the next few weeks, and I'm bursting with stories, so hopefully you'll be checking in on the regular.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

epic fail

Yeah, that once-a-week blogging thing? Not going so well.

I have an excuse for two weeks ago: I had an audition four out of the five days of the week, all of which required preparation; I had to go to my great-uncle's funeral; my parents came into town for said funeral; a friend showed up at my door on Wednesday afternoon and stayed until Saturday. There was a lot going on, so I'm not going to beat myself up over that one.

This week, though? No excuse. I thought I was going to be working a temp job Wednesday through Friday, but it ended up getting canceled Tuesday afternoon, so I had three free days. And while I was able to accomplish a wide variety of things (laundry, signing up for a gym membership, getting my hair cut, cleaning my bathroom), this blog sat, untouched.


Maybe there's just not a lot for me to write about. I'm waiting to hear if I'm getting an acting job in the spring (I already have one lined up for late March/early April). I have a date on Sunday. I'm starting a hardcore push to push my career to the next level. Otherwise...not a heck of a lot to report.

I promise, though, that there WILL be a post next Wednesday. It's my anniversary. I have to celebrate that with a post, right?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Last night I went on a date. (Ah, the excitement of single life.) The date was with a young lady who...well...let's just say that she deserves her own post. We saw Up In The Air, which is a fantastic movie - but maybe not one you should see on a date. One of the central themes of the movie is about connections, and whether or not a person really needs a partner.

This movie really hit home for me for several reasons - it's essentially an exaggerated version of my lifestyle - but especially because of this idea of partners. I've been thinking a lot about partners lately. I kind of had a horrifying breakthrough in therapy last week:

I want to be in a relationship.

I was actually kind of shocked by that discovery. I mean, I just got out of an on-and-off situation that lasted for almost eight years! I've been single for only a few months - well, eight...but that doesn't seem like that long! Shouldn't I be on the prowl every night? Shouldn't I be sleeping with everything that moves? Shouldn't I be looking to hook up with young women who don't have a care in the world? Sure, those things are all fun...but I want more than that.

And that makes me feel incredibly weak.

My therapist, when I mentioned that to her, reminded me that human beings are designed for companionship. And, logically, I know she's right. And I also know, logically, that while I do want a female companion - a "plus one", if you will - that I'm not ready to jump into marriage and children and all that stuff right now. But emotionally I feel like they're all interconnected.

I'm in an interesting place right now.

I feel like there's more to share about this, but I can't really form the words right now. Let's come back to this after I've had some food...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New Year's meme 2009

OK, as we've established, 2009 sucked big fat donkey balls. But before we forget about it forever, why not get a little bit more in detail about the (occasional) ups and the (numerous) downs of the year? I mean, I didn't share a lot of it here. So consider this like the recap of 2009. You know, before we start 2010.

Here we go. Thanks, belle chanson, for giving me the idea.

What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
I flew a plane and steered a boat in consecutive days. That was pretty awesome.

Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Well, here's the list, if you're so inclined. I did pretty well, actually, except for the debt thing.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Melissa did! And her baby is awesome!

Did anyone close to you die?
Yes - my friend's father, unexpectedly. Very sad. My heart goes out to her and her family.

What countries did you visit?
I stayed home in 2009 - but I went all over this grand country of ours. So I think that counts.

What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Oh my God, this list could break the internet. I'll oversimplify this and say that I'd really like a bit more consistency in my life.

What date(s) from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Probably the two worst days: April 16 and September 24. But I do have fond memories of February 1 (the Steelers, people!).

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I'm tempted to say, "Getting up in the morning," but that would be overly flip. Probably moving into my own apartment...that was really exciting. I also think that walking away from my relationship was a really difficult - but necessary - decision, and I have to continually remind myself to give props for that.

What was your biggest failure?
Obviously, the relationship is up there, and all of the stuff around it. Funny that it can be both.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Um...yes. A bacterial infection severely disrupted my life for two months, culminating in a four day hospital stay in late September. Turns out that it's really been affecting me for years; just not to this degree. I had a wicked sinus infection in January. I also pulled a hamstring for the first time, strained a quad, and injured my shoulder (the last two thanks to flag football). Good times.

What was the best thing you bought?
Since I don't actually own my apartment, that can't be it. I'd say the flat-screen I bought on December 29...except that it arrived broken on the 31st.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
My family and my close friends. They got me through the year.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Personally, I don't really have an answer for that. How about all of those angry people who emerged AFTER the election? The time to have an effect on the process, people, was during the Presidential election in '08.

Where did most of your money go?
Probably to coffee shops so I could get online, and booze.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Doing my show in the first few months of the year. Moving into my new place. Spending lots of quality time in Sleepy Hamlet. Coming back to Brooklyn at the end of the year.

What songs will always remind you of 2009?
John Legend & Kanye West - "It's Over"
Keri Hilson & Lil Wayne - "Turnin Me On"
Jamie Foxx - "Blame It"
Black Eyed Peas - "I've Got A Feeling"
Drake - "Best I Ever Had"
Jay-Z - "Empire State of Mind"
Owl City - "Fireflies"

Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. Happier or sadder?

This answer kind of shocks me...but I think I'm happier.
II. Thinner or fatter?
Thinner, but not by much.
III. Richer or poorer?
Poorer, because I'm unemployed.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Working, I guess!

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Spending time online and at home.

How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas in California with my family - very nice.

Did you fall in love in 2009?

How many one-night stands?
Zero. I'm not really a one-night stand kind of guy.

What was your favorite TV program?
The Wire narrowly edges out Mad Men. They're like 1A and 1B.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

What was the best book you read?
I read this play that literally left me sobbing at the end of it - and, of course, I can't remember the name of it. I also really loved a book called Free For All by Kenneth Turan and Joseph Papp, about the creation of the Public Theater in New York.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Maybe Drake? I think he's really great.

What did you want and get?
Independence, I guess.

What did you want and not get?
Several jobs I really wanted slipped out of my grasp, or just blew past me. I didn't land a new agent.

What was your favorite film of this year?
Up. So great. Pixar is highly underrated.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old?
I turned 32, and I had a fantastic day. Had some one-on-one time with a few good friends and my brother. It was low-key, and totally awesome.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think landing a summer job would probably have done the trick. This is a tough question to answer.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Growing up slowly.

What kept you sane?
My friends. The Steelers and Penguins both winning championships.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I have a major-league crush on Kristen Bell.

What political issue stirred you the most?
I guess health care? After the excitement of the 2008 election, I didn't emotionally involve myself too much in politics in '09.

Who did you miss?

Who was the best new person you met?
Haha...this is a tie. I met several people while volunteering this summer, and as a group they are kickass! But I also have to give props to the woman I dated this fall - she is super fun.

Was 2009 a good year for you?
In a word - no.

What was your favorite moment of the year?
I don't know that I have one. There are certainly a few that I treasure:
- arriving in Old Village with the rest of my cast, and stepping out of the airport into near-perfect weather on New Year's Day
- getting In-N-Out Burger at midnight after the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII
- seeing my mother like a little kid at the Grand Canyon
- moving into my new place
- volunteering and getting to "work" at the beach for a week with a great kid
- meeting a girl I really liked and feeling flip-flops in my stomach for the first time in ages
- seeing my best friend in her biggest production to date - and watching her crush the role
- going back to my Alma Mater and being put up in a ridiculous hotel
- my friend's wedding bringing so many Sleepy Hamlet cohorts together
- being congratulated by dozens of kids after a week at a high school and seeing that we had made a difference for them

Despite it being a lame year, there were some great moments.

What was your least favorite moment of the year?
It's a tie. The night/morning that I broke up with Maxine was horrific. And going to the hospital after throwing up all over myself (I don't know how I didn't get the paramedic) and laying in a bed in the ER feeling the worst pain I've ever felt in my life.

Where were you when 2009 began?
At Melissa's house.

Who were you with?

Where will you be when 2009 ends?
I was at the Flying Squirrel's house.

Who will you be with when 2009 ends?
With my friends.

What was your favorite month of 2009?
January and February were pretty good, but October was the best, despite feeling like crap.

How many different states did you travel to in 2009?
Twelve. But I won't tell you which ones. (Nice try, but I'm not ready to blow my cover yet.)

How many concerts did you see in 2009?
A couple of small ones, but nothing huge - which was nice for a change.

Did you have a favorite concert in 2009?
I went to a fun one in Sleepy Hamlet in October.

Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?

What was the worst lie someone told you in 2009?
Ooooh. I don't know...probably something from my agent.

Did you treat somebody badly in 2009?

Did somebody treat you badly in 2009?

If you could go back in time to any moment of 2009 and change something, what would it be?
I'd probably end my relationship with Maxine sooner, honestly.

What are your plans for 2010?
That's an excellent question! I'm still figuring it out. I know that I need to put myself out there personally and professionally. I guess I just want to continue the healing process, live a healthy life, and continue to make myself happy.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 01, 2010

my 2009

I started this post on the subway last night, thinking that I would put it up online once I got to my friend's house, before we began our low-key New Year's celebration. I figured that, for once in '09, I'd follow through with something I'd said I'd do on the blog.

Didn't happen.

I suppose that's kind of fitting, because 2009 was not the best year for me. I'm reminded of the '80s children's book, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day".

OK, maybe I'm being a little dramatic. But I did have a rather dramatic breakup, ending an almost eight year relationship. I also suffered from declining health all year, resulting in a four day hospital stay the week of my birthday. I went through the worst financial crisis of my life - I actually had to borrow money from my parents to pay my rent more than once. And the father of one of my best friend's - someone who I considered a friend - unexpectedly passed away. And that's just the big stuff.

On more than one occasion last week, I mentioned that I just wanted to get out of 2009 "without anything else bad happening to me," which is why I wanted to wait until the year ended before writing about anything. I thought I was going to make it through unscathed...until my brand new HDTV died yesterday afternoon at 3pm, ONE HOUR after I hooked it up.


It just wasn't my year.

I have cause for optimism, though.

Yesterday, on the subway, I was listening to my iPod, which was shuffling through my top rated songs, and up popped an old jazz tune by Charles Mingus, called "Freedom". It's one of my favorites, and it's the only song on the album that has lyrics. The words are actually pretty depressing - but the song struck a chord for me. Even though all of those bad things happened to me last year, I managed to free myself from some unhappy and unhealthy situations.

And I suppose that's what's got me feeling the tiniest bit of optimism for 2010. I feel like an astronaut on a spaceship just launched into orbit. Everything familiar to me has fallen away behind me, like the earth disappearing behind me in the rear view mirror. Ahead of me: the beautiful, great unknown of space, in all of its splendor and majesty. My future feels like a blank slate - anything is possible. If I wanted to pick up and move to Kenya tomorrow, I could. Sometimes when I think about that fact, it makes me sad, but most of the time I just have a sense of excitement and possibility, because I know that I can fully take advantage of any opportunity that comes my way.

One last note. I don't know how this blog factors into my future. The quasi-anonymity that I've got going on here can actually be stifling at times, and, even though I love writing, I hate feeling like I'm obligated to post here, especially when I'm not sure how many people are still reading. But I'm so close to the five year anniversary of the creation of this blog, and I feel very strongly that I should follow through to at least that mark. I'm going to go back to the attempted model for 2009: one quality post a week. I'll post on Wednesdays, with an occasional something in between. I make no promises for anything past February 3.

Hope that you all start off this new decade in a positive way. See you in a few days.