11:35 a.m. - Sun 01/02/2022
Listening to a 2021 "Greatest Hits" compilation of Talk Heathen (Or as I like to call it, "Atheist Sunday School")...
I don't really know how to start...
While I haven't done it at the start of every new year, I've usually made some effort to "wrap up" up the previous year and write about my hopes for the coming year.
Because that's what one does, right?
So while I'm hard-pressed to think of what to say about the year that's passed or the year ahead, I feel compelled to try...for both our sakes (Cause somebody is reading this, right? Anyway, wish me luck...!).
I think the biggest development of the year, in terms of its impact on my day-to-day life, was Jane R. taking up part-time residence here in LA.
It's really hard to say when I last had anything approaching a social life, or had friends.
Or, for that matter, a friend, singular.
(And I'm defining "friend" here as "Someone you like who you hang out with on a regular basis", not "work friends" or "Facebook friends" or "friends from back home" or any of that).
So it was a pretty huge deal when Jane came out here in February to live part-time because, for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long, I had someone to play with on a regular basis (Of course, getting used to her being around means missing her when she's away, but I guess that's "the price you pay" for this sort of thing. But even when she's back in Santa Fe, we are in pretty much daily contact, calling and texting and occasionally Facetiming).
As long as I'm on the subject of Jane R., a less happy development in 2021 was her spate of physical challenges - From cancer surgeries, to heart stuff, to a pulmonary embolism, to her Diabetes running wild (Her blood sugar's spiking off-the-charts, in spite of a concerted effort to control it with medication).
I might be biased, but to me, it seemed like a lot for one person to have to deal with, and in a very short period of time.
I could probably spend an entire entry on the twists-and-turns I've gone through around Jane's health issues - Worrying about her, about us, about the film (Pretty much in that order), my worries about being in an unfamiliar role (I've rarely been required to be "the supportive friend", and never in such serious circumstances, and I didn't want to "fall down on the job"), etc.
But the biggest surprise, considering the seriousness of her issues and my propensity for fearing the worst, is that I haven't been in a constant state of terror, fearing her immiment demise (Though I've certainly had my dark thoughts) - Apparently, my mind simply won't let me stay in "that place" too long.
But what my mind will do is let me think, "This isn't the thing that's gonna 'get her'...but shes' gonna 'get got' sometime..." and worry about when fate will finally "lower the boom", on one or the other of us.
So "mortality" is very much on my mind these days - My own mortality, first and foremost, but also the mortality of the few people I care about enough, like Jane R., that it would up-end my world to lose them.
(Speaking of Jane, just got off the phone with her, where a delightful conversation was had regarding all the things.)
One thing that didn't register much in 2021 was, interestingly enough, the film.
My work on the film was over years ago - All the time since has just been "the longest wait ever", between shooting the thing and having it see the light of day (It's not been "a thing that's happening to me" for a long time - It's "a thing that happening to Jane" that she updates me on from time to time).
But as we quickly move toward Year 4 of the project - which I think is done at this point (Though I'm not 100% certain about that) - 2022 is looking like the year where it will once again be "A thing that's happening to me".
(More on that in a moment...)
2021 marked an entire year without a day job (I got laid off from Weight Watchers in May of 2020, so it's actually been a year-and-a-half at this point), which makes it the longest period of time I've not had a day job in my life.
This is another subject that could have its own journal entry - Debating if this period of unemployment/not having a day job has been a good thing, a bad thing, or a "something somewhere in the middle" thing.
(Spoiler alert: The answer is "yes".)
Going into 2022, I'm feeling a building anxiety around unemployment - I'm in my second round of Unemployment, down to my last couple thousand in benefits, and I don't know if I'm going to get a "Round 3" when the time comes (To date, between Unemployment, the money earned around Unemployment - residuals, Cameos, two commercial jobs, etc - and my savings, I haven't experienced an appreciable loss of income thus far. But take Unemployment away, and things might start to get a tad...stressful).
And I, 1. Don't want to have to get a day job, 2. Don't know what day job I could do that would actually pay the bills, and, 3. Don't know if there will be a way back into "the job market" should I want/need to get back in (Aside from the fact that, beyond acting, I don't really have "job skills" per se. And I have hit the age where "age discrimination" in hiring is a thing).
And tying into those anxieties is the fact that, after an 11-year run, Shameless wrapped back in March.
For 2022, I'm hoping a new long-term acting job happens - preferably, one that has me moving further up the callsheet than Shameless (With a commensurate increase in salary, so I can finally put all that "needing a day job" bullshit behind me), where I'm playing a meaningful role on a great show.
(While I'm tremendously grateful for Shameless and all it's given me - an 11-year long gig is not something that happens for the vast majority of actors in Hollywood, I felt well-paid for what I did, and a great deal of fun was had - it wounded me to know I was not an important part of the show, to know when the bosses or the regulars talked about "The Shameless Family", they weren't talking about me, to never be a part of publicity for the show, to never be mentioned in the wrap party speeches, to not get the traditional "...and that's a wrap on _____" that the regulars got when we completed the final episode, etc. I want another show to happen for practical concerns - I need to be working and making money still - but also because, before it's all said-and-done, I want to be on a show where I matter. I want to be able to tell myself, before it's all over, that Shameless was not an accident, that I came out to Hollywood, stuck it out for decades, and had an actual career.)
(But back to 2021...)
A really cool thing that happened in 2021 (Which may or may not become a more important thing moving forward) is that I "came out" as an artist.
(Very hard not to put "artist" in quotation marks...but the way I see it, at least at present, is that it's not for me to say whether I'm a real "artist" or not.)
I've told people it goes back to shooting a scene of me drawing for the documentary (A very rudimentary, vaguely kinda-sorta "self portrait") - While I wasn't exactly dazzled by the artistry on display, it did seem to unlock an urge to once again put pencil to paper (I've drawn, intermittently over the years, since I was a kid) .
While I think I actually "went public" with my drawing prior to last year - and was gratified at the positive response - 2021 was the first time I actually sold some drawings, which, in my mind, is a pretty amazing turn-of-events.
So for 2022, I want to get better at drawing - being more systematic about learning, and just plain drawing more often - and making it easier for people to buy my drawings, should they wish to, by setting up an online "store" (It's really hard to imagine this becoming a big source of income, but I've made a couple hundred bucks so far, so it's certainly possible there might be more where that came from).
And this "circles back", not just to the film, but to my being unemployed - Having all the time in the world, it was almost inevitable I'd eventually find my way back to drawing.
It struck me earlier today: Over the years, one of my favorite things has been to surprise people with something they didn't know I could do, whether it was singing, dancing, or playing harmonica.
And I thought I was done surprising people, that I didn't have any more rabbits to pull out of my hat, which has made it great fun to have people see my drawings and say, "He can draw too...?" (In my mind, I'm not really great at anything - though acting comes closest, in my estimation- but again, I'm not the judge. If I have a "job" here, it's to "put myself out there" and let people make of it what they will. And at this point, it doesn't feel like there's much "downside" to it).
And speaking of "not much downside"...
While I've been losing my shit over how long it's taking for the documentary to be a thing, I've been starting to feel a great deal of anxiety at the thought of it becoming a "thing" in 2022.
Right now, it feels like there's nothing but uncertainty around the documentary - Which film festivals will take it (And will they be "live" or "virtual")? How will it be received? Will Jane make her money back (At least)? Will it do my career any good? And so on - but there's no actively negative consequences to it coming out that I can see (Well, I'm neurotic, so give me enough time and I can gin-up some "negative consequences" out of thin air. But it would take some serious work).
In my mind, the "worst" thing that could happen...is nothing.
(Or in other words, as I've sometimes joked, "What if you throw a 'Jim Hoffmaster Party'...and no one shows up?")
It wouldn't exactly be fun to have "my life story" be out there and have the result be a collective shrug...but I don't think that's going to happen (I feel like I don't really know what is or isn't going to happen, and that it's kind of foolhardy to have a lot of expectations around it. But while it's hard to imagine it winning an Academy Award or anything - I don't think I'm an important enough "subject" for that - I just don't think nobody's going to have any response to it).
As I'm sure I've said in here before (And it strikes me as important to reiterate this as the documentary becomes an actual "thing") - On my end, the big "reward" of having done the documentary is the friendship that's formed with Jane, and the fact that someone thought my life was interesting and important enough to document.
And on that delicious note, I think I'm done here.
Till next time...