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4:21 pm - Thurs 9/18/03
Jim Sorts It All Out

Jim Sorts It All Out

(Have a favor to ask of all you regular readers--Since I don't have cable, and it looks like I'm never going to find out when the HBO thing's gonna air, could you let me know if/when you happen to see it? Just an email or comment in my guestbook or something? I'd appreciate it.)

WARNING: This entry goes on for days. It could stand some serious editing, I know, but I kind of think the "ramble" is... interesting. Anyway...

Wed 9/17/03 (8:05 p.m.)

(Watching Ed. A repeat of last season's final episode, which was one of my favorite hours of tv last year.)

On my way to work yesterday, someone tried to sell me socks from the trunk of their car.

It's good to be back in L.A...

(Socks? What kind of criminal deals in stolen socks? It hardly seems worth the effort!)

When I realized I could have taken one more day off and not have had to go in to work till Friday, I was mildly annoyed at myself for not thinking far enough ahead. But this might actually work out pretty well; A little "taste" of Borders, then a weekend, before having to get back into it for real might be just what the doctored ordered to stave off "the post-vacation blues".

The day at work was fine. People made appropriately happy noises about my being back, Pat was amused by the Michigan refrigerator magnet I bought him (He'd gotten me a small Statue Of Liberty snow globe when he went to New York recently), and I didn't feel upset or anxious about being back at Borders until I pooped out with about two hours left to go (I've thought this before–Being chronically sleep-deprived doesn't mean that much until you're trapped someplace you don't want to be, doing something you don't want to do. Then it's kinda like hell).

(Just saw a Washington Mutual commercial I auditioned for a long time ago. The really fun one I got a callback for. Ouch...)

On Monday morning, while still at Cary and Kay's, I called JS, to let him know I was back in town, and by day's end, he'd called me for a Discover Card auditon the next day.

This morning, I went for a Verizon print ad; I hesitate to call it an "audition" since all I did was stand there while they took a couple pictures of me, but at least it was good to have something to do on my day off.

The Discover Card thing is another Biscuit production. They didn't call me in for it–that would be the callback part of the program--but hopefully, they still have enough residual good feeling for me that they'll have me back in once they see the tape. And it would be nice to actually get this one; I've squeezed a lot of juice out of the HBO thing–especially during my recent vacation--but I'm feeling like it's time to put another one in the "Win" column.

(West Wing is on. The final episode of last season, which I missed when it was first on, because I'd thought the episode the week before was the season-ender.)

Thurs 9/18/03 (12:15 p.m.)

"If you're not the lead dog, the view is always the same."

In Mystic River, the book I just finished reading, there's a passage, a passage I'm too lazy to try and find right now, where a character wonders when exactly life sped up, when everyone else picked up the pace and he was left behind, staring at the backs of people's heads.

In another passage, a character recognizes that he's not the kind of person people ever think of going to in a crisis, when they're in trouble, when they need comfort or reassurance.

In both cases, I felt like I could have been reading old journal entries. Or for that matter, journal entries I could be writing today.

Not sure why I'm crashing today...After feeling a tremendous sadness at the idea of having to come back to LA and resume my unsatisfying, unsuccessful life, I was kind of surprised at how quickly I got over it. I went back to work on Tuesday, and other than pooping out before the end of the day, as I often do, it was actually quite a pleasant day. And in terms of the acting stuff, I thought there might be some "lag time" before JS started submitting me for things again, but I've had two auditions since being back (Though one barely qualifies as an "audition"; A print ad for Verizon, where they basically took a couple pictures of me and sent me on my way). I didn't have any particularly positive feeling about either audition, but who knows?

But I should have bought a Backstage yesterday, and I didn't. And today, it's been an epic battle just to get myself dressed and out of the house. I just don't want to seem to go, but I know if I don't, I'm going to be very upset and unhappy with myself when it's time to go back to work tomorrow.

I'm going to backtrack for a moment, and copy what I wrote in my "book journal" a little bit earlier today. Then I'm getting my lazy ass out of the house, and down to Skylight books for that Backstage.

Sun 9/14/03 (6:40 pm)

(At Capital City Airport, waiting for the flight to Minneapolis to leave at 7:31)

"No big tragedy here, Jim", I've had to tell myself throughout the day. "Nobody's dying or anything. You're just going back home after a nice vacation".

I've been feeling weepy all day long. It was all I could do not to start bawling in front of Mark and Jane, then in front of Kevin as we had a nostalgic Sunday morning breakfast at the Flapjack Shack (I think it's officially the "Flapjack Family Restaurant" now, but it's always going to be the "Flapjack Shack" to me).

I didn't want to cry in front of anyone. I even forced myself not to cry when I was in the shower, afraid that if I let myself start, even if I was alone, I'd have a hard time stopping myself.

And I didn't want anyone's last memory of my time in Lansing being me crying like a fucking little baby


Thurs 9/18/03 (10:45 a.m.)

For some reason, I'm really feeling my limitations as a writer bumping up against my desire to write. I want desperately to communicate, but am having a hard time cutting through my own internal static. I can't seem to cut through all the snaps and crackles and half-heard words, through all the noise that's competing for my attention.

The vacation really "stirred me up", making me feel things I've tried to keep tucked away on a high shelf somewhere.

How truly lonely I am here, for example. How uncomfortable and anxious and afraid. That early-on, unhappy feeling I had of having succeeded in doing nothing here but creating a shabby copy of the life I already had back in Lansing, a bad Xerox of the life I wasn't satisfied with in the first place.

Here's something I think is sort of interesting–More than once, while back in Lansing, I said "People have asked me if being back in Lansing makes me want to come back to stay" (Though to be honest, I can't actually remember anyone saying that to me now), and how that was stupid, "...because the point of comparison is not ‘daily life in LA' versus ‘being on vacation in Lansing', it's ‘everyday life in LA' versus ‘what things were like for me before I moved'".

But even though I knew that, even though I was saying it out loud to anyone who would listen, I was still seduced. I had to remind myself, many times over, that day-to-day life in Lansing wasn't about having lunch dates with people five days a week, constantly having things to do and people to see, and having people be excited that I was around, as much as I would have liked that to be the case.

Daily life in Lansing was, in the latter years, a time when my social life had become Sunday mornings with Kevin, Monday lunches with Mark and Jane, and very little else. All my friends–except for Kevin–had "coupled up" and really didn't have much need or use for me at all. If I wasn't at work, and I wasn't in a show, I was, more likely than not, alone (One thing that struck me when I first got out here; While I struggled a bit with loneliness, it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd imagined, because for one thing, I was in almost constant contact with Jane and Kevin via e-mails and instant messages, and for the other, I'd had pretty good practice being lonely the last number of years I was in Lansing).

In hindsight, my time at Schuler Books has turned out to be the "Golden Era" of my time in retail. In every way, it was a happier experience than the one I'm having at Borders right now (Though I continue to like most of my coworkers at Borders a great deal). But when I was actually at Schuler Books, I was often bored, and I felt almost as "stuck" as I do now at Borders; I didn't feel like I wanted to spend the rest of my life as a bookstore clerk, but I had no interest in being a manager, and what else was I going to do? And I didn't feel good about the quality of the work I was doing–I could reel off a list of at least a half-dozen coworkers who were better "book people" than I was–but I couldn't seem to find the energy and motivation to do any better.

Probably the most consistent happiness I experienced in Lansing the last number of years I was there was in theatre. For at least the two years before I left, I had a number of great roles and pulled them off pretty well, more often than not (I was particularly proud of the "Thespie" award I got for Big River, that mentioned my "first-rate work" in both of the other shows I'd done that year. It was the first and only time I've ever been well-reviewed for a "body of work").

But even there, I was feeling a sense of dissatisfaction. I was happy with what I was getting to do, at one level, but I was also feeling like I wasn't being sufficiently challenged (I rarely did anything I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to pull off). And I also had a sense that, even though I'd been in Lansing for many years, and certainly had established myself as an actor on the local scene, that I wasn't "in the right club" somehow. I didn't feel like I had very many "alliances" in local theatre. I never got asked or invited to do anything, and even though I was leery of trying out new groups, afraid they wouldn't be very good and I'd end up being embarrassed and angry at the results, I was, secretly, hurt that no one ever asked me to join in their reindeer games.

(3:35 p.m.)

Just tried to take another shot at finding out when the HBO commercial will air. Called HBO, then called Biscuit, to no avail; got a machine at HBO (And I've left messages twice already, to no effect), and the person at Biscuit said, pretty definitively, that they have no idea when the commercial will air.


For the longest time, I've been surprised at how few of the commercials I've auditioned for I've consequently seen on the air. But then, while I was back in Lansing, I saw two–One for Bacardi, and one for Yahoo–and of course, last night there was the Washington Mutual one (Of the three, that's the only one I'm truly sorry I didn't get). So it looks like the "turnaround time" for these things is just longer than I'd thought.


I was thinking earlier today that, boiling it down to the basics, the difference between Lansing and LA is, for me, the difference between "comfort" and "possibility". I was more comfortable in Lansing, but that apparently wasn't enough for me, because I spent a lot of time being lonely and bored and anxious, feeling like my life was passing me by.

Here in LA, life is more difficult in pretty much every way, but there's the chance, however remote, of very exciting things happening. The "dream" that was never going to happen in Lansing could actually happen here.

And I spend a lot of time being lonely and bored and anxious, feeling like life is passing me by.

Obviously, what I want in my life is LA and Lansing. Only better.

Wish me luck...


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