10:36 PM - Mon 7/4/16
I recently posted a picture of myself on Facebook with my favorite Zumba instructor, Thea.
After I survived my first Zumba class, and started going on a regular basis, I would tell people that my goal was to eventually be able to go through the class and perform the routines perfectly, as if I were in an hour-long dance recital.
However long it's been now - I started at the Y a week or so after shooting "The Scene" on Shameless, so however long that's been - I've never had that "perfect" class, where I hit all the routines so hard and so well it's like a hour-long performance.
I have individual numbers I do very well, or I have a stretch where I'm really on top of things, but I'll get tired or distracted, or there'll be a relatively new routine I'm struggling to get, or - and this one is tough to admit - there'll just be something that might always be a little beyond me, because I'm older and/or my body doesn't want to move the way the routine requires (ex. The other instructor I go to, Alfredo, does some routines that involve "twerking", and I never feel more like an uncoordinated, clumsy old white guy than when I'm trying to do those).
Sometimes I get a little frustrated when Thea "retires" a routine I'd learned, or introduces something new I find difficult (The other thing I'd tell people early on about Zumba was "I want to do the routines as well as the instructor", to which people would say, "But Jim...she's the instructor". And yeah, that's just not gonna happen, particularly with Thea - She's half my age, demonstrates more energy in class than I've ever had in my life, and is a really good dancer).
But recently, I've had something of a change-of-heart - Zumba is not a "performance" I should be aspiring to "get right", it's exercise...and that being the case, it's good for me to have to adapt to new routines (That's mental and physical exercise), and move in ways that challenge me.
And my experience with Zumba is a microcosm of the way I've experienced life - I want there to be set "routines" that I can learn and feel good about "performing" well.
I want to be perfect. And I get very frustrated when I'm not.
But that's not the way Life - or Zumba - works. If you're doing it right (Or in Zumba, if you have a good instructor), there are always new routines, new moves, new challenges, and some things you intuitively grasp, while others feel difficult or impossible to master.
And it feels good when you grasp something you've been struggling with, and you achieve some level of "mastery", when - in the case of Zumba - you go from just trying to get the steps down to actually dancing...but I don't think that's meant to be a "static" thing.
There should always be another thing to learn, a new challenge to be met - I don't think life is about "climbing a mountain", and if/when you get to the top, just sitting there the rest of your life (Even though that's basically been exactly the way I've viewed life, for most of my life).
But beyond "climbing mountains" and "mastering" situations and all that, I think I'm just looking for what makes life more meaningful, and more fun.
(I've been struggling mightily for awhile now - I certainly have my good moments/good days, but if you asked me, "Jim, in general, does life feel 'meaningful' to you? Is it fun?", I'd have to say "No, on both counts".)
And it hit me recently that something Thea says at the beginning of each class - "Don't worry about getting the steps right. Just keep moving, and have fun!" - is a good prescription for getting through life.
I need to "move more", and worry about it less. To not worry about being "perfect" (It's corny but true - "Perfect is the enemy of 'Good'"), but just enjoy "moving" for its own sake. To embrace learning and growing, instead of being frustrated by it (The phrase "beginner's mind" just popped into my head).
To not see "perfection" as a goal, but just "being better than I was before".
I think if I can move more in that direction, and away from "I want to learn something, become really good at it, and have that be the end of things", I'm going to be much better off when all's said and done.
Shot my first Shameless of the new season this past Thursday.
I went in with a slightly sour feeling I haven't had in previous seasons, because of having to shave and not getting a raise and all that.
But that said, it was nice being back (Though on a different sound-stage this year - we're actually split amongst two sound-stages this season).
I always tell people that, after years of doing one-day roles on this show or that, it's been nice to have "someplace to call home" as an actor. It's very meaningful to me to have someplace where people know me, and I feel like I belong.
There's definitely an appeal to comfort and familiarity, of feeling some small measure of "security", in a world where "secure" is pretty much the last thing you feel most-of-the-time.
And it's nice to feel like "I know what I'm doing" as Kermit - It took awhile to get over my anxiety about "screwing up" somehow (It was a real revelation to think, maybe a year or two ago, that short of spontaneously crapping my pants during a take, I can't really "screw up" in the role anymore - because I have, along with the writers, established who "Kermit" is).
There were two scenes, so it was maybe a little longer of a day than normal...but while there were moments of tedium - there always are - it wasn't arduous or anything (A side note - I couldn't take my eyes off Izzie, a.k.a. "Svetlana". She just looked really good).
It was, by and large, a very pleasant day (Went a little nuts with "crafty", though - which was one of the reasons my weigh-in at Weight-Watchers on Friday was not a happy occasion).
My main "issue" with the show at this point, is that I've "maxed-out".
I like it for what it is (And what it continues to be), but basically "that's all there is, and there ain't no more" - It's not going to become a bigger role, there's (probably) not going to be any more money (beyond just being in more episodes), and I think if it were going to be a "launching pad" for bigger, better things, that would have happened by now.
I like the show, and I like being part of the show...but I want more.
I want to be a series regular, with all that entails - the bigger role, the bigger responsibility, the bigger money, etc.
I want more to do, and I want to get paid more for doing it (And - I hope this goes without saying - I want it to be a great role on a great show).
In a world where, not only am I not getting those auditions, but am barely getting TV auditions at all (And not booking the ones I get), it feels like an increasingly tall order.
But nevertheless, that's my order...so let's get cracking, Universe - Okay?
Ryan texted me recently, asking about my journal (I'd told her previously that I'd written about her in here, and she'd expressed some interest in reading it).
I was nervous about her reading it, because I like her and didn't want her to be upset or angry about anything I had to say (On the other hand, I thought she might find the account of events from my point-of-view interesting, and maybe informative).
Turned out, she was really taken with it. She admired my honesty and said I was really funny, and a good writer. And she did seem to appreciate the client's-eye view of our encounters.
She even asked permission to link to my journal from her website (Later she asked if she could pull quotes from it, which makes more sense to me, but I basically said whatever she wanted to do was fine).
I appreciated her looking out for any privacy concerns I might have, and not wanting to cause me trouble.
...unlike someone else recently who very much wanted to violate my privacy and cause me trouble.
(WARNING: Adult Content Ahead)
Sometime after my first session with Ryan, I started playing around a little on a site called Chatroulette.
If you don't know, it's basically a website where you can connect, and be connected to, people's webcams, all over the country or all over the world (It's got a free service that limits how many "connections" you can make and doesn't let you specify what cameras you want to see - male or female - or you can pay X amount for X many connections, and specify which cameras you want to come up on your screen).
It has something of a gamy rep, but emboldened by my recent experience, I was "taking a walk on the wild side" (The mild side of "the wild side", granted, but still).
Very quickly, it was clear I didn't really belong - The site's clientele seemed, for the most part, a couple decades younger than Yours Truly - and people would either pass me by altogether, or stop just long enough to say "How old are you...?" (I amused myself, in one instance, by saying "Very old. Almost dead. Might not make it through this chat").
Very little happened, and what did was pretty innocuous - I remember listening to one woman play piano for a bit, someone listening to me as I strummed on my guitar, giving "thumb's up" to a guy's choice of music, and chatting about nothing in particular with a few people.
But a week or so ago, I got on, and after a bit, started chatting with "Elena" an innocent-looking young blonde woman from Morocco.
We hadn't gotten much beyond "What time is it there?" level conversation, when she asked if I "wanted to have some fun", or something along those lines.
And I said, "Yes. Yes I would".
And she showed me her boobs (Which, to be honest, were only so-so).
Were alarm bells going off at that point? I don't know - Maybe...but when she said she wanted to "see that dick" before she showed me anything else, they definitely were.
I'm not an idiot, and I've been an ugly old guy for a long time now, so I know if some young woman is showing me her tits and saying she wants to see me naked something has to be up (I actually said to her, "I'm not going to do this, then have a bunch of your friends pop up and laugh at me, am I?", as if she would then "fess up" and say, "Yeah, you got me. We wanted to get an old guy to show us his dick, then make fun of him for being old and ugly and pathetic - Sorry").
But loneliness and horniness overrode my better judgement - I took off my clothes...and showed her my dick (Giving it a couple strokes for good measure), exposing myself on camera for maybe five seconds.
She professed enthusiasm for what she'd just seen (Again, I should have been thinking "WTF? That can't be true...", but instead, in the moment, I actually felt a slight exhilaration over the "crazy" thing I'd just done).
She then said Chatroulette was moving slow, and suggested we Skype instead.
Since I've only Skyped once or twice in my life, it took awhile for me to figure out how to do it, but eventually got it going...
...only to watch a five-second recording of me exposing myself on camera.
That's when "Elena" said to send her money, or she was going to send the video to all the people on my contact list.
(There's actually a warning about this very thing on the Chatroulette home-page - and nudity is "prohibited" on the site, though from what I've seen, there's really not much reason for the site to exist otherwise - so I can't say I wasn't warned.)
I was angry and humiliated, furious at my potential blackmailer, but even more furious at myself for being so stupid.
And I had a moment of pure terror, as I imagined this little video going out to all the people it could go out to.
But almost as quickly, it struck me - Beyond being embarrassing (And I wasn't so much embarrassed that people were going to see me naked - that ship's kinda sailed at this point - as uncomfortable at the thought of making other people embarrassed and uncomfortable), there wasn't much going on here.
I might have broken the website's rule, and it was kind of gross and skeevy, but beyond that, I hadn't done anything wrong/illegal, and I really had to strain to imagine any real "repercussions" coming from it (I'm single, so there's no relationship to destroy. I can't see any way WW would/could fire me off it. And if anything, it would probably enhance my standing on Shameless - It seems the kind of thing the writers would then promptly work into an episode).
So to her threat to expose me exposing myself (And she did the whole dramatic "You have one minute to decide..." countdown thing), I said "Fuck you! Send it out - Who gives a shit?".
I wouldn't say all my power "flowed back to me" at that point - she could still send it out, just out of spite (though I don't think that's how blackmailers work) - but I immediately felt worlds better. I still felt like a pathetic old perv, and was embarrassed at how easily I'd let myself be duped, but it now felt like a "live-and-learn", "no harm, no foul" situation, and I could live with that.
(Yes, I'm officially "sadder but wiser" - No more showing my dick to strangers on the Internet.)
"Elena" The Blackmailing POS is still working Chatroulette, last I checked, even though I reported what had happened (And blocked her from my Skype), so I'm troubled by that, but I don't know what else I can do.
I would rather not have had this situation happen, and shame on me that it did...but it did, and I'm actually kind of intrigued that I've gone from a guy who didn't want to take his shirt in public, to a guy who now responds to a blackmailer by saying "Fuck you! Send it out - Who gives a shit?".
I don't know if that's power...or just a demonstration of how little I have to lose in this world.
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