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11:08 am - Sun 8/10/03
Jim's Harmonica Blues (Cont.)/A Letter To Mark Z.

Jim's Harmonica Blues (Cont.)/A Letter To Mark Z.

Fri 8/08/03 2:21 pm

Had the casting for McDonalds earlier today...

It didn't go well. I doubt I'll get it. But more on that later...

I went on and on about the harmonica in my last entry because I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and what I've been thinking about it says a lot, in microcosm, about who I am.

I'm a pretty talented guy, who can kind of do a lot of things, and isn't great at any of them.

I'm hungry to be really good at something, to "be all I can be be" in general, to quote the old Army recruiting slogan, but at the same time, seem to lack the wherewithal to truly apply myself.

I want to be exceptional, but often as not feel like I'm not only not exceptional, I'm actually below-average in about every way I can think of (Where's my wife, children, money, home, nice possessions, career, etc and so forth, on and on and on?)...

And I feel in my heart–I know–that it's only by doing something exceptional, by being a great actor, writer, harmonica player, whatever it is, that I'll matter, that anyone will care about me. And by the same token, I know that if I can't shake that belief, I'll never be happy, because ultimately, you have to know that you deserve the same happiness as anyone else just because you're you, not because you're the smartest or the prettiest or the most talented (Maybe that conflict explains, at least in part, exactly why I can never fully "apply myself" to anything; I feel like I have to "perform" to get people's attention, and while at some level, it's very gratifying, I also resent it. I want the unconditional, parental love that I never got, and am never going to get).

I want success, because it's the only way I think I'll "out-run my past". And I know that's wrong–It's not "success" that will make that happen, but the love I can freely give and happily receive from others–but I can't seem to shake it. If I don't succeed in life–and it's not happened yet–that means the circumstances of my life early on beat me, that I'm not going to be a story of triumph, but just another of the faceless nobodies that folded under adversity.

More later...

Sun 8/10/03

Hi Mark,

I've been torn whenever hearing about Kevin's progress as an actor; I'm pleased for him, and for Lansing theater in general, but frankly, jealous as hell too; There he is, becoming an honest-to-God actor, while Yours Truly basically sits on his ass and stagnates here in Tinseltown.

(By the way, I think you'd have been great as Cobb in his golden years...)

But anyway...

(I just woke up to some sad news: Gregory Hines died Saturday. He was just 57...)

I was thinking about not remembering a show you were in when I saw Riverwalk was doing Bus Stop; I was in that show years back at the Civic Players (With Marion Stutes, Guy Sanville, and Sam Tallerico, amongst others), and couldn't tell you much about the show other than it had something to do with a "bus stop"!

Not a lot of big news to report from here...Had my first commercial audition in two weeks on Friday. Unfortunately, I don't feel like it went very well; this time out, I was ready to give them the "deadpan" reaction they specifically wanted (while watching an odd scene play out in front of me), but when I did, the casting guy started saying "Okay, look like you're really confused, like you're trying to figure it out...".

I wanted to say "You guys don't really know what 'deadpan' means, do you?" (I was told they were looking for a deadpan reaction when I got the call from JS). And I was frustrated, because I felt like I did what was asked of me, and ended up looking like a bad actor as a result.

I haven't gotten off one audition that's felt good in quite awhile, between "Numbnuts", bad direction, and just not figuring out the right thing to do till I'm walking out to my car afterwards.


Trying to tell myself at this point, "Okay Jim, you had a nice streak there where you were getting callbacks every couple of auditions or so, so it can be done. You can figure this out".

The trouble is getting used to the constantly shifting ground beneath my feet; Sometimes you have lines, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you go in knowing what you're doing beforehand, sometimes you don't (Or sometimes you're led down the wrong path by what you get told before going in). Sometimes the casting person doesn't give you any idea what they want, and sometimes (Unfortunately, sometimes), they tell you something that just "muddies the waters", and you feel like you have to do something "in spite of" the bad direction you were given.

I guess you just have to try to be flexible, and stay upbeat about the whole thing. I got one, after all, so it stands to reason at some point that I'll get another. And while I may really want it now, there's no need to panic--I've still got time(Based on my experience so far, I'd have to say that getting the job is actually harder than doing the job!).

That said, I'm feeling in serious need of some "deliverance" from my Borders/straight job situation.

On a personal level, the new GM seems fine--He's not twirling his handlebar mustache a la Snidely Whiplash, laughing maniacally over his misdeeds--but he's a "company man" with a capital C. He's the second of three GM's at this place that I would label "not a 'people person'", which is starting to make me think they actually look for that in a GM. He's obviously not here to "inspire" us, or to be "liked" by us; He's a "numbers cruncher", a by-the-book guy. He's here to make the trains run on time, and if that means some workers fall off the train, or get run over on the track, that's just the way it is.

There's lots of unhappiness, lots of tension.

Two people have already left, and I wouldn't be surprised if more are to follow (And the idea that I might be left there with a bunch of company drones, while all the rats I like desert the sinking ship, is not a happy thought!).

In terms of my own relations with him at this point, they've been fine. I feel like he's quickly gotten a sense that I'm "one of the good guys" (And in this context, I actually am. I never call in, staff and customers alike like me, and I do a good job). But I'm not kidding myself here; I haven't had any run-ins with him only because it's been very slow in terms of the commercial auditions; Every indication so far is that he doesn't have any understanding or sympathy regarding other jobs, outside interests, etc. (And the idea of doing theatre, which is rising up again as something I really need to be doing, seems to recede further into the distance than ever).

But I've already laid it out in Diaryland--I don't feel like I have anywhere else to go. It's frustrating to feel like I have to keep "starting over" with these people, but how much more of a "starting over" feeling would I have if I left the job entirely? To go where? To do what? To go from the frying pan of Borders into the fire of Barnes and Noble? To start an exciting new career in the field of video rentals at Blockbuster?

It's always my tendency to get anxious, to worry, to tye myself up in knots over potential disaster that may never actually come. I'm trying not to do that this time out, but it's hard--I feel like I'm swimming upstream against an unhappy tide. But what else is there to do? I may never feel like I'm "top of the heap", but one way or another, I've always gotten by. No reason to believe that won't continue to be the case here.

Well, I could go on, but I think you've probably had enough...

I hope you and Jane are having a good trip. Looking forward to seeing a couple weeks now!



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