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3:00 pm - Thurs 1/20/05
The Stuff In My Head

The Stuff In My Head

Looking over an original draft of a recent entry--where I questioned what kept me from becoming a serial killer--I thought part of it was actually more interesting than what I eventually put in here:

Take away Mrs DeHaven, take away my acting talent/desire to use that talent, take away 50 IQ points, maybe add some more abuse, and I could very well be walking the streets, looking for the next victim to take my rage out on.

I don't think there's much of a "moral component" there, that I am "better" or "stronger" than Aileen Wournos, or any of the other people who are abused and neglected, unloved and unwanted, who then snap, lashing out at an indifferent society. It just seems like "The luck of the draw" to me–I don't feel like I'm "better" than those people, I was just luckier.

I had something of a tough childhood, but people have had tougher, to be sure (For a brief time, I was in touch with an online group of former foster children, and some stories there made my life seem like a relative "walk in the park").

And maybe more important than anything else, at a formative age, I was loved. And because of that, I think all my life, no matter what happened, I was able at some basic level to say "I know I am loveable, because somebody loved me once".

And I had reading, which took me away to other times, other places. I read a lot of biographies when I was a kid, and could see that a lot of great people went through tremendous adversity, and not only survived, but went on to do great things, and I could dream of someday being one of those people.

And I had acting, which let me escape into playing a character. It gave me a chance to feel special, to get "strokes" that life hadn't provided me up till then, and made me feel like I had something of value to offer to the world.

Comic books. Action figures. Movies. TV. Keeping a diary. Means of escape. Fantasy empowerment. A way to "vent".

And while romantic love has been hard to come by in my life–and I didn't seem to know how to handle it when I had it–I've almost always had at least one good friend in my corner. It's been rare, as much as I've struggled with feeling lonely, that I've ever been completely alone.

Something I did that was maybe not that good for me, but was very good for society at large, is that I internalized my anger to a great extent. I might have had, at some level, the knowledge that "I am loveable, because I've been loved before", but for the longest time, it was buried under tons of "Something must be wrong with me".
"I must be bad" I thought to myself, "Because why else would they have rejected me?". I wouldn't say I had no anger at "the world", or at specific individuals (My biological mother, Mr Pupo, the women who rejected me romantically, etc), but I was always angriest at myself.

It took a long time to start asking myself questions like "Jim, exactly how do you think you caused yourself to be a baby? Were you somehow a ‘bad' baby? Were you some sort of ‘demon seed' it was impossible to love?". Once I realized that I was blaming myself for something that happened before I could walk or talk, it started feeling a little silly.

And it took even longer to realize that, as much as I might like there to be (It would make my life seem more "dramatic"), there were no "villians" in this piece, just people who were more or less trying to do the best they could.

Thurs 1/20/05 (12:15 a.m.)

I'm not writing in here lately as much as I want to.

My answer to struggle is usually to quickly give up. And lately, I've once again felt myself struggling to figure out how to communicate a dozen different things that are in my head.

In her January 10th "Last Word" column in Newsweek, Anna Quindlen has this to say (About the current political environment):

Authentic leadership is in short supply. Republicans would have it that the President provides it. I don't see it. This is a purported regular guy who is the scion of privilige and whose resume owes more to the family tree than to the grindstone. A fiscal conservative who has blown the deficit and government spending sky-high. A candidate who said he was not interested in nation-building undertaking it aggressively. It all reminds me of the punchline to that old joke: who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes? Look at the upcoming Inaugeral, close to $40 million worth of parties, pageantry, and canapes paid for by corporate largesse and said to be in honor of our troops, troops whose families are struggling to get by. A triumph of style over substance.

The column, as a whole, is not an anti-Bush diatribe. Far from it. She castigates the Democratic party for totally rolling over on Iraq (Voting for the war wasn't "rolling over" if you believed in it, but most Democrats didn't. They just had elections coming up)–and for putting the immediate needs of the party ahead of the long-term needs of the country (For not "taking the long view", as she puts it).

Bush is not the leader I want, but who's stepping up to provide "authentic leadership" in the Democratic party? Who's going to say what they believe is right, and not just what they believe will get them elected (Being "Republican Lite" doesn't seem to be working anymore)? And when is the party going to stand behind that candidate, stand behind what it actually believes, instead of running from it?


(10:01 a.m.)

Got a voicemail from JS, calling me very early this morning. I have an audition for "Ask Jeeves" at 5:00 p.m. (I don't like same-day auditions, and think I've expressed my desire not to do them. But it's my day off, so there's no problem with doing this one).

I've been thinking a lot these days about commercials. How fun it is to have auditions to go out on (And how dependent I've become on them for "something to do"), how exciting it is to make money, how I've enjoyed having people be excited about seeing me on tv.

I like winning, when it happens. I like the feeling of confirmation ("I can successfully compete out here..."), I like the feeling of validation. I like the sense that I've finally "put myself in the game".

But have I, really? "Put myself in the game"?

There's something gnawing at me, something that came to the fore recently after seeing 21 Grams (Another movie chock-full of great acting. Though if you look to movies for happy-go-lucky, escapist fare, this is not the movie for you). Renting that movie, and Sexy Beast and Monster before that (And seeing any number of great movies in the theater in the past year), it strikes me that I am a long, long way from where I want to be. And I still don't know how I'm going to get from "here" to "there". And if/when I do "get there", will I have the stuff? Am I "the real deal"?

I've spent the past couple years pursuing something that is sort of like acting, that resembles acting in many respects, but that is, for the most part, not acting. And I've had a pretty good rationale for doing it–"Jimmy has to eat, and this just might be my ticket out of dead-end ‘straight jobs'..."–but lately, I've been feeling a little like I'm still ducking my "destiny" out here. And creatively, I feel like I'm surviving on pretty thin gruel (On the days where I'm getting any "gruel" at all).

But again, I don't want to spiral into putting myself down for what I have or haven't done the past couple years, particularly not when I'm presently making a concerted effort "to get where I want to go" out here. The idea of becoming a Mobile Notary and doing commercials isn't an end in itself, by any means. And getting out of retail, as appealing as that is, is not the main goal either; I want that stuff to "free me up", to give me more time and energy (And hopefully money) to pursue real, honest-to-God, "Let's-See-If-I-Can-Take-This-To-Another-Level" acting.

I want to be what I came out here to be.


This could, and and maybe should, be an entry unto itself, but from a couple of different quarters–from John Shelby Spong, Pema Chodron, Your Owner's Manual, and from my own mind–I seem to be being asked to explore the idea of "Groundlessness".

Both Spong and Chodron, in recent things I've read, suggest that the lesson of the recent tsunami is that life is fragile, that there is "no ground beneath our feet" (Literally, in the case of the tsunami victims), and that in spite of all our hopes and dreams and desires, in spite of whatever we believe, all we really have is each other. And that being the case, we should really treat each other with a lot more "loving kindness".

I've thought about this a lot since coming out here to L.A.. I wouldn't say it's risen to the level of obsession, but I am definitely feeling more "groundless" than I ever have in my life, and more fearful as a result.

Whether it's worrying about a terrorist attack or earthquake, thinking about something happening to Mark and Jane, worrying about my income (Namely, not having enough of one, now or in the future), or fearing that I won't live long enough to reach my goals out here (Due to illness or injury), I worry a lot that "the ground could go out from under me" at any moment.

But there is no "ground" under me. Under any of us. Wishing there were, or being fearful because there isn't, doesn't change that.

And I don't want to be afraid of that anymore. Rather than being fearful or angry because the world isn't what I wish it were, I'd rather learn how to celebrate what it is. And appreciate that while I may not have tomorrow, or next week, or next year, I have today, and a whole world of people to enjoy it with.

And who knows? Maybe it's when you realize there's no ground under your feet that you finally learn how to fly.


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