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8:59 pm - Mon 10.12.2009
Parallel Tracks

Parallel Tracks

I'm in an odd place...

And I don't mean Hollywood.

By and large, things have been "going my way" for the past couple months - I booked The Mentalist and Mad Men, had a successful stand-up showcase, just shot a national commercial, and right now, am getting about as many auditions as I can handle (I have a commercial audition tomorrow afternoon) - which is kind of "odd" right there.

And my two shows just aired, within a week of each other, to great excitement and acclaim from "the folks back home" (And getting past the visceral response I have every time I see myself onscreen - "Wow, I am so ugly...!" - I thought they were both effective appearances).

Sounds good, right?

So what's the problem?

Well, there's not really a "problem", so much as there's a lot of "cognitive dissonance".

One thing I still haven't gotten used to - because I haven't worked often enough - is the "lag time" between shooting something and when it airs; I shot The Mentalist and Mad Men the first week of August, meaning that while they were new for the people who just saw them, for me, they're things that happened two months ago now.

I'm interested in the finished project, and enjoy the attention, but mentally, I'm pretty much onto the next thing (Or at least "the next thing I'm hoping to book") while everyone else wants to focus on this "thing".

It's not really that big a deal, it's just...odd.

A bigger "deal" is bumping up against one of the essential conundrums of my life; I want applause and acclaim and lots of attention, but when I get it (Like I've been getting it on FB the past week or so), I realize it's great fun...but it's not terribly substantial.

That was brought home to me the night of the comedy showcase.

It was very exciting, to get up and do my first stand-up routine ever, and be successful. I enjoy making people laugh, and being the center of attention, so what was not to like?

It was really scary beforehand, and really fun while I was doing it (And it's turning out to be scary again afterward, but that's stuff for the next entry).

But after I did my thing, and the show was over, the only people waiting for me were Brett (My manager) and Katie H., a Lansing transplant I hadn't seen in 14 years (And to be honest, don't really know all that well), While my fellow comics had girlfriends and boyfriends and family members and the like there specifically to see them.

(For the record, I have something like 275 Facebook "friends", and had invited every LA-based "friend" on my list to attend. The fact that one person showed - Brett was a given - suggests to me that "the folks back home" are, for the most part, still the only folks I have, and that's after eight years of living in LA.)

An audience - whether watching you in a comedy club of seeing you on television - is a great thing...but when the show's over, they're gone.

And you're alone.

Which prompts the eternal question, "How do I find meaning in the part of my life that isn't about playing make-believe?".

Which is, when it comes down to it, likely to be the majority of my life, whether I like it or not.

I've gotten more notice and attention from other people recently than I have in quite some time. Which, ironically, has served to make me feel, in a way, lonelier than ever.

Clearly, if I want to be "happy" or "fulfilled" or whatever it takes to feel good about life, acting alone isn't going to do it, even if I actually, against all odds, succeed at it.

But what else is there for me?

And then there's money...

During my time in Lansing, I thought I was poor, but in fact, I didn't know what "poor" was; I actually had all the money I needed - I just didn't need very much.

Here, on the other hand, the lack of money has been the root of all evil.


I had one year where I was financially successful as an actor. But that one year was enough to tell me that, yes, life with money is better, by far, than life without.

So talk about "cognitive dissonance" - It's very weird, to have people watching me on tv twice in one week, joking about how they "knew me when", to have just shot a national commercial, to be having auditions up the wazoo, to actually be succeeding these past months, and at the same time be trying to get into a free clinic to get my teeth looked at (Cause I'm working on at least two cavities right now), and feeling guilty because, a couple times at the grocery store recently, I bought the thing I liked more instead of the thing that was cheapest.

(That's a strange phenomenon; I can be stressed about finances, with cause, but if I book something, even if I know it's not enough money to make a real difference in my finances, even before I've seen the money - or in the case of a commercial, even if I have no idea how much money is going to come in - my spending inevitably starts creeping up. Consciously, I know I don't have money - right now, for example, I still haven't received the shoot money from the commercial, let alone any residuals - but clearly, I have a powerful urge to enjoy my life, which most of the time, seems to involve spending at least some money.)

And there's the frustrating feeling where, when I do get a good booking, I'm hard-pressed to feel like it's good enough, considering all the financial "heavy lifting" I want/need it to do (So there's a great deal of stress involved in not knowing if the commercial you booked will be a "game changer", or just another gig that keeps the wolves from the door for a little while longer).

I'm afraid I've made this sound like "Woe is me - I'm having success...and yet I'm miserable".

And if I have, that's just bad writing on my part.

All that success I've mentioned? It's pretty cool - I came out here to be an actor, and here I am, being an actor.

And just because getting a lot of attention can't really substitute for the "deeper satisfactions of life", whatever they may be, that doesn't mean it's not gratifying at all (There's something to be said for people being so excited about your little bit of success that they post clips of your work on their Facebook pages, saying "Hey, I know this guy...!").

And yeah, the "after" of the stand-up showcase was pretty deflating, but I got onstage, by myself, and made people laugh.

And it was good.

So it's not really that "I should be happy, but I'm not".

It's more like "It's cool being me right now...and it sucks being me right now".

And it's exciting to be succeeding...but scary to feel like that might not be enough for me (Not to mention my continuing fear that my current level of "success" is going to be where I get stuck, which is not a level of "success" I can live on, which then makes it feel more like "failure" than "success").

And long story short, it's tough to realize, basically, that "wherever you go, there you are" - That whatever happens to me, good, bad, or indifferent, I'm still going to have to deal with...well, me.


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