Epilogue Post #3 Build Something Where You Are

August 19, 2013

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 5.06.44 PMI woke up this morning to the yells of “Daddy-o! Daddy-o!” Through my morning grog I saw my towhead, nearly two year old son, Elias, reaching up, grabbing a fistful of bedspread as he pulled himself up on our bed. He crawled up to me and sat on my chest looking out the window. Michelle was leaving for work, and it is now my job to take him to daycare across town. Today was no fun, it’s his second day at a new place and he was crying for me not to leave. Excruciating. When I get off work I’ll head home and do with him the things he enjoys like bulldozers (“bulls”) and dump trucks (“mucks”) that are down the street building a hotel, or playing t-ball in the backyard, or laying on the floor playing with trains (“choo-choos”).

Things are quite different for me now from when I last posted two years ago, or three years ago when I was in Los Angeles hustling to make it in Hollywood. I’m a parent in Missouri now and I can barely remember what life used to be like. My only impression of my previous life was an abundance of time and sleep. When you become a parent you enter a world of cliched warnings come true, “you’ll always be tired,” “it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it’s totally worth it.” Although my anxious side tries to debunk it, things have fallen into place pretty nicely. I’m working for the local FOX affiliate doing random on-air personality things and creating funny videos for a YouTube channel. I’m also freelance writing quite a bit. Plus, if you read my second to last post you’ll know that I turned my once stage-only late night talk show, The Mystery Hour into a TV show.

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 5.11.06 PMI look back at that post I made announcing that at marvel at the between-the-lines naiveté. I wrote that before we had shot anything and that first season was so much work. We’re now on the eve of starting the 4th season of the show and I’m really proud of it. Here’s a short synopsis of what brought us here. Season 1 was an experience in figure-it-out-as-you-go. It was a chore and way too much work. Season 2 was a much more fun experience. Season 3 we moved the show to Saturday nights at 9:00 pm on FOX-KRBK and the 1,000 seat historic Gillioz Theatre. At first, I had a TV show, but didn’t really want to encourage anyone to see it because it wasn’t good yet. Now, I actually tell people about it. I’m proud of it. It’s half hosting and writing a late night talk show and half being a small business owner. I kinda hate the small business owner part, but I do it for the hosting and writing part.

You guys who were around for all of my journey in Los Angeles, I have to tell you, it’s a neat and strange thing to have reached a goal in one sense–having a late night talk show of my own on television, while also not making any money at it and doing it in my spare time. Who knows where this goes, but it’s exciting to have keep the dream alive while back here. Mostly I’m just happy to be doing work I’m proud of.

Here’s a video of The Mystery Hour in Under 3 Minutes

You can check out more videos on our website http://www.themysteryhour.com

So, here is the ulterior motive part of this post. We’re crowdfunding to support Season 4 of The Mystery Hour. My least favorite part of making the show happen is the money. We don’t get any money from the TV station, so it is up to me to sell sponsorships that are included in the content of the show. This season we decided to give crowdfunding a shot to pay for the production of the show as well as the venue expenses.

Head over to our crowdfunding page to have a look.

Here’s the video:

One of the great lessons of my journey from Springfield to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles back to Springfield is that pursuing what you want doesn’t require a location. There are advantages to being in a place like Springfield, for instance, creating a late night talk show and getting it on television. I think this idea is true for all smaller places. There’s a slight inferiority complex that runs through smaller places, I know I have felt it. However, I think it is built on a false premise. Things aren’t necessarily better in bigger places, take some pride in where you’re from, build something where you are. If you want to donate to our cause, do it. If not, don’t worry about it. Mostly I thought it would be fun to show a glimpse of what life looks like more than two years later. I’ve got to head home now to my son that calls me Daddy-o. He made it up and he calls me Daddy-o.

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Epilogue Post #2 Swimming Fish

The journey that started the last year plus began quietly and innocently enough. It was a normal life progression sort of thing. Michelle said, “So, I think I’m actually ready to have kids.” It wasn’t too unlike many other conversations we had had about the subject, it was just that this time, she meant it, and I knew it. I also knew that I was ready too…

Except for one thing.

I needed to go to L.A.

When Michelle and I had that first conversation, I understood that for the first time. It was maybe the first time that I realized that we aren’t here forever. You can ask the litany of friends I have had honking in the driveways of my life that time hasn’t been a set in stone reality for me most of my life. This was the first time that I thought, “If I don’t do this now, there won’t be a time that I get around to it.”

So, there I was stuck squarely in the definition of ambivalence. There isn’t any real drama here, though. I summoned the courage and went to L.A. and then summoned the wisdom of knowing when it was time to come home.

While in L.A., I experienced an evolution, as thoughts and conversations of having kids transitioned from feelings of unmet adventures to feelings of excitement and anticipation. I couldn’t wait. We couldn’t wait. You know when you’re a kid swinging, and you end up getting in sync with the person swinging next to you? When I was growing up, we called that being “married.” In real marriages, the timing on things such as when to have kids isn’t always in sync between spouses, but every so often you find it, and you are “married.” Those are good times. It’s good when you’re married married.

At the time I announced I was coming home, I wrote:

I’m going to go home to my wife…

To try to make babies…

I don’t know how long it will take…

But we’ll keep trying…

And trying…

And trying…

And that sounds like a lot of fun…

Junior high Jeff would even call the act of trying a dream realized.

So, I came home and we started trying. And by trying, I mean, well, you know, you’ll have to read between the lines (Seriously, squint your eyes, I have implanted a Magic Eye Kama Sutra between the lines of this post). I started learning a lot, like that you can only fertilize an egg in a few day window each month. That was news to me. How statistically unlucky are unwanted teen pregnancies? We, as adults, should keep the mantle of not letting this information out to the hordes of horny teenagers out there.

With that information, and the doubts that my body could do anything right, I was certain it was going to take forever. It takes forever for normal people, and I am not one of them.

But then…

On a Sunday morning in late January, I was awoken by Michelle’s squeal. I recognized it through my grogginess. It was the same as when I proposed. She was squealing and giggling and running back and forth, just like when I proposed.

She was pregnant.

We were pregnant.

Well, she was pregnant.

She is pregnant.

Am I more than a little freaked out? Yes. Am I mostly excited? Yes.

Here is a picture of Michelle that we took tonight. I told her that she transitioned from hot to gorgeous as a pregnant woman.

In that same post where I announced I was coming home, I wrote:

We tend to think that dreams have to be nearly unreachable and exciting to be worthwhile. I like the thought of driving three days in a car to reunite with my wife being a dream fulfilled. I like the thought of my future kids being worth sacrificing something for.

I still think that, and I’m still on this side of actually meeting those kids, but I’ll get to know one soon.

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To answer your questions:

-Yes, she was sick, but has been feeling better for the last few weeks.

-No, we don’t know the gender, and we won’t for a few more weeks.

-No, I haven’t heard of that. What? Gross. Really? That’s a thing? How is that possible? Please stop telling me things.

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Oh, also, I knew about the pregnancy before my official last post of the year, and it was killing me to not put it in the last post and/or video, but we couldn’t announce it yet. It would have been a storybook ending to the completion of the blog. This was the secret post that I alluded to, knowing that I would have a few epilogue posts. Several people guessed correctly from that post. Congrats.

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Epilogue Post 1: Mystery Hour on TV?! For Real?!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sometimes things work out strangely, and sometimes they work out exactly backwards.

It turns out I had to move from Hollywood to Springfield to get on television.

This past summer, as I was hustling in LA, surviving on crackers, not sleeping, and missing Michelle, all for the shot at making it onscreen, a television station in Springfield was undergoing changes. KSFX, the local Fox affiliate was losing their Fox affiliation, due to a new station acquiring the rights to the affiliation. KSFX was now left to continue as an independent station, with a new approach. Thus, KOZL was formed by the company that was once KSFX. This presented a lot of new obstacles, but also some new opportunities. Most all of the KOZL programming would remain the same, they would keep their local news broadcasts, and it would remain in full HD, but now they could do something not normally afforded local stations constrained by their affiliation, they could produce original local programming.

I heard about all of this going down in late summer because I would still read the local newspaper online. In September, I came home for a week for a wedding and a visit. It was during this trip that Michelle and I had the it’s time to come home conversation, and we decided on December. Fresh off of that news, I e-mailed the general manager of the station saying, “Hey, I hear you’re looking for original programming, and it just so happens that I have a show you might be interested in called The Mystery Hour.” I also said, “I’m leaving for Los Angeles within the week, so we’ll have to meet soon if you want to discuss it.” Lo, and behold, he read the e-mail and agreed to meet.

I met with him and someone above him from the corporate offices and they loved the show from the clips I had sent them and from people around the building being familiar with it. It turns out that this meeting was less about me selling them on the idea, like I had assumed, and more about talking about how it could work. I told them I would probably be home around the new year. We kind of left it at that and agreed to keep talking. As I was in LA preparing to move back home, I took comfort in knowing that a possibility awaited me.

Now it’s official.

That show that I started more than five years ago.

That show that I, myself, have derided for being a fake TV show.

That show that I have sweat over, holding on to the notion that it may actually be worthy of broadcast.

That show, that show, is now going to be a half hour, weekly show on KOZL, airing at 10:00 pm on Saturday nights.

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I’m going to be a realish late night talk show host, on a realish late night talk show.

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Hey, I recognize that it is a local show, that will be seen by thousands, not millions, but I am excited. It makes me wonder if I had the choice, would I choose to have a tiny role in a nationally popular show, or my own show, on a local station? My ego side would want the national show, but my creative side would definitely go for my own show, but my wallet would go for the national show, but my wife would go for the local show. Local show wins.

It excites me, and it stresses me out a bit too. I have been working my butt off getting the crew for the show, getting equipment, and handling all of the details of getting the show off the ground. Yes, I had this show I was really proud of before I left, but when I came home, my video guy was now unable to help, my camera guy sold his cameras, and my venue, The Skinny Improv, moved to a smaller location. So, now I was a guy with a commitment to a show and, well, I had me, and I still had my desk, I guess. So, I’ve been working my tail off getting the band back together, as it were, plus all of the new things about having a show on TV that I’m ignorant to. It turns out it’s not just setting cameras up.

The show will now be at Randy Bacon studio, an art gallery/concert venue downtown, that oozes cool. I would have loved to keep doing it at The Skinny, my comedy home, but the new space, which is wonderful for improv, is not as equipped for this show. I’ve also been getting sponsors for the show. Don’t ask me how many I have yet because I will pretend not to hear you, but I’ve had meetings and we’re close on a couple (although, if you know of anyone, let me know). It’s been a perfect continuation of my year, jumping into things and figuring them out as I go.

Here’s the basic info:

The first show is scheduled for Friday, April 13th, ominous, I know.

Airing
10:00 pm
Saturday nights
KOZL
(Will also be available on http://www.themysteryhour.com after it airs)

Taping
8:00 pm and 10:00 pm
2nd Friday of each month
Randy Bacon Studio

People will purchase a ticket for one of the showtimes for $5.00, where we will tape 2 episodes in a row. They will have the option to get into both for $8.00. We will tape 4, one month’s worth in one night.

I feel so lucky, really. There are very few places that have late night talk shows outside of the big ones on national television. I would venture that there are only a handful or fewer in places the size of Springfield. It reminds me of when I moved to Springfield initially, I would always pinch myself that there aren’t many places that have successful and sustainable improv theaters, but Springfield happened to. Then, I moved to LA and back, where I learned so much about the industry that will help me so much as I do this show, and I feel lucky again to be in Springfield.

It’s impossible to predict the twists and turns and where you’ll end up I guess.

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I have revamped The Mystery Hour website as well. Go look at it, so that I can say I actually did it for a reason. For real though, after each episode airs, they will be available online at TheMysteryHour.com, so all of my friends outside of the area can see them.

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I’m not going to lie, I’ve missed this whole blogging thing. I miss the process of writing. I miss the feedback. I miss feeling connected to you guys. I will start a new one. It won’t be one I update everyday, but semi-frequently, I hope.

Things are similar on the job search. I’ve had a few good interviews, including one this morning, but nothing big yet. I have just started substitute teaching, which is great blogging material, by the way. What else have I done to make money recently? I have made a website for someone, cleaned out an apartment, been in an infomercial, done improv shows, done stand up shows, I would even consider celebrity boxing at this point if I was a celebrity.

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I realized in the official last post  that I could do the thin line dividing segments in the blog thing. I like it. It took me 365 days to realize it.

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Oh and here’s a commercial I made for the return.

 

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Day 366. The Last Post

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

This night a year ago, I was laying in a motel room in Amarillo, TX staring at the ceiling. I had no idea what lay ahead, the plan was completely open ended. The next day I would continue driving further from my wife, and closer to my dreams.  I think that is what has set this journey apart from others who move to LA with dreams of Hollywood success. It was all bittersweet. We always knew the situation was temporary, one of us would be moving at some point, we just didn’t know who, we didn’t know where, and we didn’t know when.

If I’m writing about this year, I have to write beyond the realm of chasing dreams, because it’s more than that. Really, this is also a story of love and marriage, sacrifices, fear, uncertainty, and coming home. I can’t encapsulate that in one post, the list is too lengthy.

And I’m still on the wonder side of conclusions.

Truthfully, I’m still looking for a job. I’m fairly stressed out about the money situation I put us in. I don’t know how the whole pursuing a full time job with part time dreams versus pursuing a full time dream with a part time job plays out. Honestly, I sometimes feel like I’m in a more difficult place currently, than I was last year. This year was a trade off. I traded heart and dreams stress and financial satisfaction for financial stress and heart and dreams satisfaction.

Ultimately, though, it’s not close, the worth it argument wins in a landslide.

It was simple. I had to do it.

I would not have traded this year for anything.

Anything.

The stresses I listed above are temporary, but the experience and the memories of it will last a lifetime.

Yet, here I am, on the wonder side of conclusion.

I don’t have any great platitudes or declaratives to stamp anything with ink and say, “This is how it is.” Mostly, what I learned this year had to do with uncertainty, and uncertainty doesn’t operate in the realm of declaratives and platitudes. Last year, before I uprooted everything, I had certainty. I had a steady income, a house, a wife, and a routine. I stripped all of those things off and cannonballed into the pool of uncertainty. To me, that is the remarkable thing. I jumped. Naked. You can substitute acting dreams for another dream, and Hollywood for another place, and the through line remains the same, jumping into uncertainty.

Now, I sit, back at my home, with my legs under the coffee table, and my back up against the couch, sitting on a pillow, while I look at my last blog post and try to summon conclusions. I’m not sure I have any, for me, or anyone else. I gave myself a year for this blog, and surely after everything, you would think I would have inspiring, thoughtful, or even sobering conclusions, and yet, they escape me.

I’m still on the wonder side of conclusions.

The closest I can come to a conclusion is a statement on the lack of value in conclusions and certainty. That statement is this: Uncertainty need not equal fear.

Think about it, how often do our worries, trepidations, and angst come directly from uncertainty? I know mine do. I’ve trained myself to think they’re synonymous. We’re constantly searching for patterns, padding our lives with uncertainty insulators, checking in with retrospection, and hoping for conclusions. We strive to reach a place where we have arrived, where the uncertainty problem is solved, the practical things are taken care of, and we have wisdom in spades. I don’t know exactly where that place is, but I know that it always exists right outside of my grasp.

This fictitious place is only necessary if uncertainty is frightening. Yet, there is nothing inherently frightening about uncertainty. The bleak imaginations we associate with uncertainty might just as well be rosy, because they’re just that, imaginations. I would rather sacrifice conclusions and certainty for the sake of living than sacrifice living for the sake of conclusions and certainty.

I like security as much as the next guy, I’ve just seen that the pool of uncertainty can be approached. It is just a part of life. You can spend your life trying to dry all your wet clothes from your previous dips in the pool scheming ways to avoid it in the future, or you can jump in and swim. Life is a pool party, and the only way to enjoy a pool party is to jump in. Truly, I say all of this just as much to convince myself as anyone else. I’ve had a year in the pool, and I may not spend all of my future time in the pool, but I’ll always hang out nearby. The water is warmer than it looks.

Yet, I am still on the wonder side of conclusions. 

I’ve been dreading writing this post, however it was to end up looking. I think I’m mourning the loss of the blog. I feel like I’m breaking up with the best listening girlfriend ever. In a year of loneliness and adventure, this blog was my companion and my tether to the feeling of home. I’m actually really proud of myself that I made it this long. At a certain point, this blog went from being the conduit of passing along the story, to being a part of the story itself. I found myself prioritizing it more and more. I’m a writer now. I was a guy who wrote things occasionally before, but now I see myself as a writer who writes.

Mostly, though, it’s just been a chance to share. I wanted to share my journey and how I saw it, and lo and behold, there were people who wanted to share in it as well. I’ve always thought that internet relationships seem a little false, but I don’t know if I buy that anymore. Sure, they’re limited, but the support I’ve received in numbers of views, comments, and real life conversations about the blog have sure felt like real support.

So there I was, in a motel room in Amarillo, TX. After a few months of fretting about the move and agonizing about if I was the type of guy who had the guts to actually pull it off, I lay there with half of my life in the car downstairs. I had no idea of what this year would bring, I just knew I was doing it. That was the night that I transitioned from leaving from a place, to going to another. In my first blog post, two days later, I wrote, “I feel like a braver version of myself…”

Maybe that’s the real transition that took place.

Maybe that’s who I am now.

Thanks for being a part of that.

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Now, I sign off for the last time with my classic sign off phrase that I have used each post. What’s that? I don’t have a sign off? Really? Oh, man, I should have come up with one, like a long time ago.

Until tomorrow…no, that’s dumb.

From my blog to your heart…stupid.

Ummm…

These are the blogs of our lives…I give up.

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*I plan on having three more blog posts, as I know of a few things on the horizon that I will have to share. I don’t know when they’ll be, but you can be sure I will make it known. As I said, I’ve liked this connection most in this whole experience, and I don’t want this to be a break up. We can still be friends, you should follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/themysteryhour.

Also, I think you’re not supposed to talk number of views for a blog, it’s a little like talking about income. However, on this last day, the total views for this sits at exactly 99,400. How cool would it be to hit 100,000 on the last day? Very cool is the answer. It is within reach, just keep coming back to the site every few hours.

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Again, from both Michelle and I, thank you.

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Day 365. One Year! The Mystery Year – The Film

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I’ve always loved documentaries. In fact, in a couple of weeks, Michelle and I will be going to a documentary film festival that we excitedly go to every year. I’ve always said it would be cool to make my own, but I lacked the skills, time, equipment, money, and focus. Then, I got some skills (Mac), got some equipment (iPhone), and became part of a story worthy of telling. I left home. I left my wife, dogs, friends, and job to pursue my dreams. Occasionally, as I went, I videotaped things, and took a lot of pictures.

Then, I decided that I wanted to actually put it all together in a short video. One of the things I learned in Hollywood was you say film, not video. Also, you say what you want to be, not what you currently are. So, let me rephrase that, I made a short film of our adventurous year because I’m a filmmaker.

Honestly, I spent more time than I would like to admit on this, and stayed up until an hour I don’t care to acknowledge, so I will have one more post after this one. I lacked any semblance of coherency when I was done making this film. This year was a giant leap, so I might as well make The Mystery Year a leap year.

The film is nearly fourteen minutes long. I made it for people to see, but mostly I want those people to be future Jeff and Michelle.

Enjoy.

Thank you for all the support.

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Day 364. Video of My Stand Up at the Comedy Store Finally

Monday, February 20, 2011

1 post left.

I’m not really a stand up in the classical sense, but one of my highlights in LA was getting the chance to do stand up quite a bit. See, when you’re pursuing acting, you don’t get much of a chance to be seen, and it’s frustrating. Stand up gave me a chance to get up in front of people. Don’t get me wrong, I really like doing stand up and feel pretty good about how it goes for me, I just do it differently. I had the chance to go up at the Comedy Store four times while I was out there, three times in the Main Room, and once in the Original Room.

I wrote about the first time I went up, here.

Since then, people have asked me if I had it videotaped for them to see. Well, I did have my November show recorded. You aren’t supposed to record in there, so I had to get lucky, when one of my friends recorded it secretly. This one went pretty well, and was pretty typical of how the shows went. Performing at the Comedy Store, and having it go well was definitely a big thrill for me. I even had a surprise heckler this night.

Part 1

Part 2

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Day 363. One Year Anniversary

Sunday, February 19, 2012

*Two posts left.

This is the anniversary of the day I left for Los Angeles. It was the hardest day I’ve ever done. I’ve had harder days, but nothing that I instigated. I’ve been watching some videos we took of the day, and they are devastating. What an amazing year, but, man, oh man, what a horrible day.

Here is a list of things worse than leaving your wife, house, dogs, friends, job, and life in one day. There are very few things.

-Tripping and falling face first into an open blender that is pureeing lemon juice and salt. The open wounds hurt, but more so the acid and salt now on the inside.

-Realizing that the “Wear an Offensive Costume, Costume Party” was held at the other Ramada. You had gone to the one holding the ACLU national convention.

-Finding out that your brother is also your father.

-Realizing that the “Wear a Deer Costume, Costume Party” was held at the other meadow. You had gone to the one holding the NRA national convention weaponry and coffee breakout session.

And, that’s it. There are only four things worse.

Things that are better than leaving your wife, house, dogs, friends, job, and life in one day.

-Everything.

 

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