Monthly Archives: February 2012

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.

______________________________

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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Day 362. My Worst Post Yet

Saturday, February 18, 2012

*3 posts left.

I’m not sure what I’m going to write about today. I mostly did stuff on the computer, then put on my storytelling show, So There I Was, in the evening. I’m just going to start writing and see what happens. One year ago today was the night before I left for LA. I did not sleep well that night.

I am a good sleeper though, generally, a really good sleeper. 

Is it possible that I’m getting writer’s block with just a few posts left?

Oh my gosh, it might be happening. My dad has pointed out to me how prolific I have been this year a lot, and I haven’t thought much of it. I wonder if it’s like running. When I run hard and have a finish line, I always think that I have exactly enough energy to make it to the finish line, no more, but truthfully, if the finish line was moved back further, I would think that I could make it to that point, no further. I think that we can do more than we think, with a lot of things.  I wonder why we put a false finish line out there, when we could make it further. I bet there is some sort of protective instinct in there.

I know creatively, particularly with improv, that some of the best things come from a place when we think that we don’t have anything left.

So, let’s just keep writing and see what happens. Here is the inside of my head. I feel like this may be one of my worst posts of the year. I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to have a stellar last few posts, I think that may be what is the root behind a bout of writer’s block. I also think that I don’t want it to end. Even though it has been a lot of work, I have really enjoyed it. I don’t to get into points I want to make on my last post, though. So, I will end that line of thinking.

I will be doing a story for the magazine I freelance for on area breweries. It sounds like a fun article, I even have to go to the middle of nowhere to a tiny brewery. I like beer alright. I don’t love it like some, though. It took me a long time to acquire the taste. I actually did not have my first sip of alcohol until I was 21. I didn’t like it. My first drink was a Jack and Coke, and I thought, “Yuck, they made a perfectly good Coke taste horrible.”

Then, beer was another step. I guess I just prefer sweet things to bitter things, which is why I don’t like coffee.

I’ve figured out that I mostly like wheat beers, and if they have a hint of fruit, the better. Beer snobs scoff at me. I will try to remember to not bring that up when I’m interviewing the brewmasters. I want to do a job with “master” in the title.

Fruit, I can’t get enough of that. Nature made candy for us! And it’s good for you, too!

That is all.

Maybe my theory about awesome things coming from when you think you’re out of ideas is wrong.

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Day 361. Honest Job Interview Video

Friday, February 17, 2012

*4 posts left.

Today, I had lunch with a friend, then I did the job search dance online. After that, I went to the visitation of my friend’s grandfather. I came back from that and did an improv show at a church, then did a long form show at the Skinny.

I was thinking about it the other day, with all of the interviewing/auditioning that I have done in the last year about how you have to use interview speak BS.  What if you could just be honest in an interview? You know, what if you could say what you mean, and not have to use interview speak. So, I looked up the 10 common interview questions on Monster.com. Here is a video of me answering 7 of those questions honestly in an interview.

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Day 360. Sammy’s Blog

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I have occasionally written about my dogs before, I have two of them, Sammy and Lucy. Lucy is a rescue dog that Michelle got about three months before we got married. I had already decided to propose, and wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit myself to a dog for 10 years. Michelle, wanting to already be married, just wanted something to commit to her. So, when Michelle told me that she was getting a dog, the conversation went like this:

Michelle: So, I think I’m actually going to do it. I’m going to get a dog.

Jeff: Are you sure you want a dog?

Michelle: Yeah.

Jeff: You know, they’re a lot of work.

Michelle: Yeah, why?

Jeff: I don’t know, I’ve just heard that they’re actually a lot more work than you would think.

Michelle: Yeah, okay, whatever, I’ve thought about it. I’m excited.

Jeff: Yeah.

Michelle: You want to grab some lunch?

Jeff: Are you sure you want to get a dog?

Michelle: Dang it, Jeff, yes. Why are you so concerned?

Jeff: No reason.

So, two months before I proposed, Michelle picked out Lucy.

Sammy came around about a year after we were married. He just started showing up at our front door basically. He had a raggedy collar and really liked affection. Michelle took him in (this was before we made an official policy about not taking them in). We tried to find his owners, to no avail. For a long time, I refused to give him a name, we just referred to him as The Corgi. Then, he grew on us, I mean that emotionally, and by shedding, and thereby claiming our clothes.

Sammy is the mysterious one, we don’t know what his life was like before we got him, he had been on Earth for about 5 years before, and probably went through a lot. He only alludes to things from his past in hints and riddles.

Then, five years ago, he started a blog. http://www.corgilicious.blogspot.com

Like most blogs, it only lasted for three entries. You can read it and get a sense of his personality. He is a very proper dog, coming from British aristocracy probably.

For Sammy’s blog, click here.

Obviously, I did not write this, because I started a blog and wrote everyday for a year. Of course, I had nothing to do with his blog, but I hope you enjoy it.

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