8:22 PM - Sat 1.23.16
But feeling the urge to try, so here goes...
Had the "conference call" with nieces Ashley and Brittany on Wednesday (I'd somehow thought I'd also be talking to Chelsey and Chas, the two younger kids, who I've had no contact with yet. Turns out that might not be in the cards. But I'll get to that in a bit).
In a sentence I could never have imagined writing ten years ago, I'm always nervous when I connect with relatives I've never met for the first time (When I said that to a friend recently, they said, laughingly, "Jim, you should be an old pro at it by now...!").
But it was a very nice call (I'm not sure how long we spoke, but it was easily over an hour).
We talked about their Dad (My brother Chuck), about their Grandmother and their kids' Great-Grandmother (My Mom), about their lives growing up, and of course, about my favorite subject, me (Though again, compared to their Dad's past, I felt like a distinct also-ran in the "Miserable Childhood" Sweepstakes. And it's interesting how that "throws me" a bit - like it or not, my "sad childhood" is part of how I identify myself. But anyway...).
A lot of conversation centered around my Mom (Or "Betty", as Chuck prefers to call her), and the fact that she's never told Chuck who his father is, and is resistant to seeing her grand-kids/meeting her great-grand-kids (Which, as I've said before, is a mystery to everyone - Chuck has said, I think each time we've talked, that he's prepared to "force the issue" and just show up at her doorstep with them, if need be).
With a father who did time for a good chunk of their childhood (And was a "functioning addict" the rest of the time), and a mother who basically abandoned them, their childhoods were not exactly idyllic (We all agreed - To one degree or another, we're all examples of the havoc drug & alcohol addiction can wreak on a family).
Brittany had some drug issues, but has cleaned herself up (It was one of the few times a bit of anger and resentment toward their Dad came through - When talking about getting clean while she was still in her twenties, she or Ashley - I don't know which - contrasted that with her father, who didn't get clean till he was 50, "After all the damage had already been done...").
On the whole though, they seem to have a lot of love and sympathy for their father - sympathy because of his tough childhood in foster care, because of his struggles with addiction, and because of current mental and physical issues stemming from years of addiction and PTSD (It's a little worrisome that, while Mom is starting to "lose it", as Tony has said, Chuck is demonstrating similar "losses" in short term memory and the like at just 57. Selfishly, I'm hoping it's all because of the years of abuse they put themselves through - being able to think is one of my favorite things about me, and I'd hate to imagine that going away because of shitty genetics).
And the love for their Dad, I guess, is just because he's their Dad. And whatever his limitations, he did his best to keep a home for them.
They're both very excited to have relatives on their father's side - They were very impressed with "Uncle Tony" when they talked to him, and the three of us seemed to feel very positive about each other as well.
There was talk of having a "get-together", perhaps in the summer (Can't really call it a "reunion" if we were never together in the first place, can we?)...but beyond that, we ended the conversation with a little bit of a "What now?" feeling between the three of us, with the general consensus being "That's the part we'll just have to figure out moving forward".
I don't know if or when I'll have contact with the other two kids - Chas was young enough when his dad went to prison that he doesn't really remember him, so I can see where my existence wouldn't mean much under the circumstances.
And Chelsey, maybe by her nature, maybe as a coping mechanism - who knows? - has kind of "gone her own way" and isn't that "connected" to the rest of the family (So again, what difference would it make to have me in the mix?) - and I don't see where there's any reason for me to "push it". At this point, I feel like I have a "whoever wants to know me, cool - I'm up for being 'known'" attitude about all this.
Sun 1/24/16 (1:35 pm)
Heading out in a bit, to have dinner with one of my former WW coaching members at the Chart House, a seafood restaurant in Redondo Beach.
I'm excited about the outing, but I'm almost as excited about it motivating me to put together the StuckUp (TM) "Window and Vent Mounting Kit" for my smartphone that I bought for just such an occasion, months ago now (Which goes back to the day I discovered the full capacity of my WAZE app. For a directionally-challenged person like myself - And I've never been to the place I'm going today - that was a glorious day indeed).
I'm tired as ever today...but other than that, it's been a good day. Which is nice, because other than the recent call with Ashley and Brittany, I've been having "a long stretch of bad road" emotionally - stressed about "career stuff" and "money stuff" and "health stuff" and "I'm-gonna-die-alone-and-probably-sooner-than-I-want-to-without-ever-realizing-my-dreams stuff".
To give you a sense of "where I'm at" regarding the last stressor on the list - Was saddened recently by the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, two artists I admired.
But sadness turned to anxiety when I learned they were both 69 years old when they died - I'm 54, which means there was 15 years age difference between us...and 15 years is about how long I've been in LA, trying to be a big-time professional actor.
Clearly, it doesn't really mean anything...but it lent a certain specificity to the matter I found somewhat alarming - I know it's pushing it to think "I'm in the second half of my life" (doesn't feel likely I'm gonna live to 108), but I'd like to think I'm at least in the last third instead of the final quarter (And at this point, even saying "I'm in the final quarter of my life" feels like assuming a lot).
I don't know how I'm gonna get off this death kick I'm on. I don't like it, I don't think it's particularly productive or healthy (Not if all I'm gonna do is fret about it all the time), and I think my time and thoughts might be better spent on shit I can actually do something about.
Tues 1/26/16 (10:10 pm)
Went to the Eye Doctor today for the first time.
I've had episodes of blurred vision - often upon arising - that I've found somewhat alarming (Since, as I said on Facebook, "I like looking at stuff").
Was nervous leading up to the visit, fearful that I'd be told I had some terrible disease, or that my vision was a lost cause, or both (Honestly, I would have been bummed just to hear it meant I now needed industrial-strength reading glasses, or had to wear glasses all the time).
But turns out my eyes are in pretty great health "for someone my age" - I have some presbyopia, normal in middle-aged/old-people , but it's not bad (The Doc suggested 1.50-2.00 "cheaters", depending on light, distance from the computer, and my "personal comfort level"). Other than that, he gave my eyes an over-all clean bill of health (He asked about a "scratch" on my cornea - I had no idea - but said that it was in an area that has no effect on vision).
So the likeliest culprit for the blurred vision is "Dry Eye Syndrome", which - again - is common as one ages, and the eyes don't produce tears as well as they used to (It might also be - or at least be exacerbated by - my CPAP, and/or the fact that I've been wearing a sleep mask of late).
With the feelings I've been having about age and mortality lately, I'm not completely down with these intimations of aging...but I'll take "having to make eye-drops a new part of my routine" over "being told I'm going blind" any day of the week.
See my beard
I have a (relatively) new beard.
I grew it partly in hopes of "shaking things up", casting-wise - auditions have dropped off precipitously in the last couple years, and it seemed like something worth trying (This thinking was largely inspired by my manager telling me the problem was I'm too old for 40-something roles, not old enough for 60-something roles, and too much of a "character" for most 50-something roles. So yeah - He's a fucking ray of sunshine sometimes).
And partly, I grew it just because I wanted to (But I never would done it if that were the only motivation - I'd like to shave my head, for that matter, but I know that would totally kill me commercially, so I don't do it).
The general consensus has always been that I look better with a beard (Even when I was a child). And while that bothers me, for some reason - Guess I'd rather have decent bone structure and a non-fucked-up face than the ability to grow a rocking beard - I've gotta "go with the majority" on this one.
So, for me, the beard is "fraught with peril".
I've already spent $170 on it - for a head-shot session, and to put pictures up on LA Casting and Actors Access/Breakdowns - and I'm not done (I probably need to put some up on Casting Frontier, on my IMDB page, and get some hard-copies for theatrical).
Hundreds of dollars, when all's said-and-done.
For the privilege of growing hair on my face.
And while I like it, and the general public likes it, I have no idea if it's gonna fly professionally. Maybe it makes me look smarter, more "professorial", and gets me more auditions...or maybe it just puts me in an even-smaller "box" than I was already in, and my auditions disappear altogether.
Or maybe it just doesn't do anything one way or the other.
Clearly I want it to "do something", but am afraid it'll "hurt me". And this will all basically happen in a vacuum - It's not like casting people are gonna weigh in on the matter, and let us know whether the beard's a great idea or a non-starter.
But if it seems like my fortunes are no better with the beard - or, God forbid, worse - and it either has to go because of Shameless later this year, or just because casting doesn't dig it, then I'll have to deal with my very least favorite part of having a beard, which is "eventually having to shave it off", and having every single person I know say "Jim! OH NO!!! Why did you shave your beard? You looked so good!".
So if you see me without a beard at some point this year, don't act like it's a tragedy - It's hurtful to do that to someone who's sensitive about his appearance in the first place (Especially since it will not reflect my personal choice).
But personally? I hope it works out - It would be nice if looking better in my day-to-day life helped me in my career as well.
(And on that hirsute note, I must depart...)
0 comments so far