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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Day 359. Delving into Anxiety

Wednesday, February 16, 2012

*Not many days of this blog left, six to be exact.

Let’s talk about real stuff today. Let’s talk about anxiety, stressfulness, the “aaarrgh” times. I, for one, am at once carefree and anxious a lot of the time. I also vacillate pretty wildly. Last week, I was on the stressed side of he spectrum. I’m listening to the Avett Brothers in my ears right now, and I guess it’s kind of like their music. One song is simple, sweet, and carefree, while the next is fast, with some good shouting. I come from a long line of people with a good amount of anxiety, on both sides. We euphemize it as good at analyzing. I write about this, because I always like it when someone else articulates my thoughts. Maybe you can relate.

My anxiety is a many layered thing really. I’m not entirely sure what is the foundation of it, but all the layers interplay.

1. I just have too many ideas for the time and energy constraints of my life, of anyone’s life, really. I wrote about “Creanxiety” here awhile back. Creanxiety is a term I made up for the intersection between creativity and anxiety. I just have a lot of ideas, whether it be for shows, videos, blogs, hanging out with friends, songs–I have song ideas–me–I do, outrageous ideas for helping the world be a better place, business ideas, or any other randomness. At any one time, I’m thinking of probably 20 projects. The ideas don’t go away, I’ve still got ones from 10 years ago floating around up there.

2. I think that I can pull anything off, or rather, should be able to pull anything off. You know the term, “Thinking outside the box?” I don’t have a box, and that is problematic. All the ideas are out there, and a more realistic, box having person, would eliminate a lot of them because they are too out there, too big, or too undoable. For me, they all seem equally possible, and equally risky if I fail at them, or more accurately, fail at trying them.

3. I often feel like I am behind, or that I’m not doing enough, or I should be doing more. “Should” and “Enough” are the operative words here. I don’t know what the root of this is, quite frankly. However, I have the impression that I am capable of so much more. I have the impression that others are ahead of me. I have the impression that doing anything short of complete and thorough is some sort of tragedy. The ideas that I have are out there, I think that I can pull them off, and I think that I am failing by not having completed them yet. There is some deep stuff in this one I haven’t fully extracted. It’s one of those straight up insecurities.

4. I have a hard time being settled with unfinished things. In college, I was similar, but college life fit with it better. I could be stressed about a final, and then, that final would arrive, and be completed. Real, adult life does not allow you such beginnings and endings. Most everything is open ended. That approach doesn’t work in my real life.

5. Living with uncertainty is tough for me. Forcefully transitioning things from uncertain to certain is my main tool for dealing with anxiety. The problem is, there are so many things that are not that way. Take the job search for example. I can work really hard and really try to make things happen, but landing a job is only one part hard work, the other parts are time and luck. That is why this last year was so amazing for me, nearly every aspect of my life was uncertain, in an industry whose defining characteristic is uncertainty.

6. I assume negative things about how things are going to turn out. This is the root of most anxiety, I think. I look at my future projects, or deadlines and think, “This is not going to end well. What if…” Really, if the “What if” part of that is completed it’s, “What if I don’t get it done, or done well, or something unexpected happens.” Truthfully, though, the future is up for grabs. The future only exists in our heads, it hasn’t been born into existence yet, and when it does, it will be something altogether different, the present. I don’t find the present scary. If the future is something that only exists in our imaginations, then we get to decide if it’s good, bad, or neutral. It’s clearly a choice and I nearly always choose bad.

7. I erroneously think that I will reach a place where I won’t have to think about these things. Currently, the thought is, “Yeah, I’m stressed out, but I have to have that now, because when I get a job that is creatively and financially fulfilling, I won’t have to worry about anything.” The secret is though, when/if I reach that place, I’ll have the same hangups. Also, there is no “place” to reach. That is BS, and always unhelpful.

8. I think that I can figure things out. I think that if I just think my way through the things stressing me out, I can fix it. It’s a weird thing. The problem is really over analysis, and my solution to the problem is to analyze as much as I can, thereby creating more over analysis, thereby creating a reaction to analyze…and so on and so on.

So, those are the layers. It’s a strange stew. I throw in a bunch of ideas, mix them with the thought that I can accomplish all of them, toss into into the insecurity that I’m behind, but should be able to do more. Let it sit. Then, add in some uncertainty, a healthy dose of negativity toward how things are going to work out. Sprinkle in the lie that there is a place I can reach and that I can get there by just thinking extra hard about how to get there.

Then stir.

Because stirring is exactly how it feels. This mix of stuff is circulating around and around. It’s like I have a window into the side of the pot, seeing the things pass by as it is stirred. Each time something else passes by, I think, “Eek, I need to worry about that too.” I think that I need to do something about it, but every time I touch the pot, it’s hot, and I jump back scared. This plays out in my real life because I feel like I have a million things that I’m worrying about that are taking up a lot of real estate in my mental capacity. When something new comes along, a request from a friend, a detail, or something Michelle needs me to do, I think, “Oh no, I can’t handle that, I’ve got too much going on (in my head). Ooh, stress, stop it. I can’t.” The reality is that, I do not necessarily have an abundance of actual things going on, I have an abundance of things going on in my head.

Here the thing: I know the solution to this.

I realize that my stew/stirring pot analogy has already reached a limitation, I gave it a window, might as well add something else to it. This pot full of anxiety soup spinning around that has a window on the side, also has a trap door, leading down into nothingness. It doesn’t make sense? I don’t care, it’s my made up analogy.

I often think that distraction is what I need, after all, it quiets my head, and is easy. For me, this is TV, or the internet. It is a fine and entertaining short term solution, but when I turn off the sound, the spinning anxiety stew remains. Another solution is exercise, which I love, and it distracts me, tires me out, and gives me some endorphins. It works for longer, but I end up in the same place.

Sometimes it feels impossible for me to process, let alone solve. Is there a process? Is there a solution?

For me, it’s writing.

I don’t mean writing this blog, which has it’s own purpose, I mean writing for myself, that only I will see. I do this entirely too infrequently, but when I do it, I absolutely love it. I sit in a quiet room with a pen and a notebook. I just write out my thoughts, all of them, the good ones and the bad ones, the rational ones and the irrational ones. I just write them out. I’ve tried not writing before, just sitting and thinking. It doesn’t work for me. I can’t think in a straight line. Back to the analogy, my thoughts spin around. If I’m just alone in my thoughts, I go in a million different directions, following no path further than the first thought. When I write, I can follow a through line. One thought can lead to another along the same theme, which can lead to another along the same theme, and so on. What I’ve found is that the further the thoughts go along a line, the less fearful and reactive they are, and the more helpful and positive they become. The thoughts continually dig deeper toward the things that are really going on. I don’t know what it says about me, but I have a hard time mustering that same thing using just the interior of my mind.

Writing is like magic to me.

What starts as agitated scribbles reflecting the feeling of my anxiousness of my thoughts become slow, reasonable reminders. Writing is the tool that unlocks the trap door below the stew. It is the only way to flush them away. It is the only way they escape my head. It truly feels like a flushing, or an emptying.

Afterwards, the circumstances are the same, but they come at me more slowly, and seem more doable. It gets me to a place of reminders. I’m reminded that those things aren’t so scary, as the surface would want me to think. I’m reminded that the present is a wonderful place to be. I’m reminded that things aren’t about successes and failings. I’m reminded of trust. I’m reminded of stillness. For me, it is where I most reach God, as well. If God communicates in our hearts, then reaching my heart is meaningful beyond a mere anxiety cure. In fact, despite some of the ways I’ve stated things on here, approaching it as a cure doesn’t work. It doesn’t work as a goal oriented process. It is anti-goal oriented. It is about the process more than the conclusions.

You know, I never actually come back to those writings, they are just for the present, and truthfully, aside from the names of things, they are strikingly similar. If I was a more routine type of guy, I would do this routinely. I wish I did, it would be really helpful. Instead, the stew slowly rises again after the emptying and I take care of it as it comes.

I get more excited than I should when people reveal their insecurities, anxieties, and doubts. I also get excited when people say, “Oh, that’s how you are? That’s understandable.” I think everyone likes those things. I write this, in part, for that purpose. I tend to think that everyone else has their crap together and that I’m the only one like this.  I’m not stressed out an anxious all the time, by any means, but this is what it looks like inside when I am. It’s kind of nice to communicate this thing that feels incoherent at times, with some coherence.

I know my mom, and a few other friends can relate to this. I wonder if anyone else can.

Let’s eat some stew.

Wait, that further screws up that analogy? Never mind.

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Day 358. Valentine’s Excuses

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day!! My favorite day of the…day. I have to be honest, when Michelle and I were first dating I saw it as an opportunity to be creative and show how much I appreciate her. It’s not to say that I don’t do that anymore, it’s our first Valentine’s Day was 10 years ago now, I used up all my good ideas around the height of the NSync era. Ladies, it’s not that your husband doesn’t care, he’s just out of ideas.

My best ideas come last minute in pressure situations…just like my bad ideas. I’ve been staying up a lot later than Michelle, because I’m a night owl and she has to get up early. So, around 2:30, I went outside, where it had snowed a couple inches. The temperature was perfect for the snow to be good packing snow. I started rolling some of it, more like a disk than a snowman ball, laid it on it’s side and shaped it into a heart. Then, I went to the garage and and grabbed some leftover spray paint so I could color the heart, and write, “Happy Valentine’s Day” in the snow.

Michelle left for work pretty early and was pleasantly surprised at the sight as she went to her car. Success!

Then, I took part of the day to vacuum, do the dishes, sweep, mop, clean the fireplace, clean the toilet, clean the bathroom sink, do laundry, etc. Michelle loves that kind of stuff. Also, I ain’t got the money for a fancy gift. Success!

Then, I looked outside.

The snow that had been around last night and in the morning was gone. It was a warmish sunny day, and the only thing that remained was a pink blob of snow that used to be a heart, and where I had written Happy Valentine’s Day in the snow were red blobs in the grass. Failure!

My Valentine’s Day surprise had turned into me looking like a crazy person who spray painted his lawn red…during the winter when no new grass will grow to replace it.

And that, my friends, is what happens when you’ve run out of ideas for Valentine’s Day, you have to get creative, so creative that you stop using your learned and innate critical thinking skills.

My buddy, Jeff J went on TV this afternoon to banter about Valentine’s Day. Before he went on he Facebook chatted me up asking about funny Valentine’s things he could talk about. We decided on things to say to your girlfriend/wife the moment you realized you’ve forgotten about Valentine’s Day.

Here are the highlights:

-Remember how I got you that extra gift for your birthday? It was an early Valentine’s Day present.

-That’s not a blank piece of paper, it’s a DIY Valentine’s Day card.

-I’m pregnant.

-You mean it didn’t arrive? I’m heading to Walgreen’s right now to complain about their gift delivery program.

-I hired a plane to fly by with a birthday message sign…should be here any minute…if it’s not, it’s probably the terrorists…just like them to ruin what was sure to be a great Valentine’s Day.

-I got you Tom’s Shoes, but I sent both pairs overseas.

-I gave your present away to a homeless man, we can both agree that he needed it more. On an unrelated note, beards are scratchy when you kiss them, huh?

-This year, I decided to get you compliments…here we go…

-Who likes magic?!

-I scheduled a Valentine’s date with our neighbors, let’s go see what they’re cooking…I mean, making for us.

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Day 357. I’ve Reached the Entering Contests Stage of Unemployment. Vote!

Monday, February 13, 2012

While watching the Super Bowl, I saw my favorite commercial, and it was a local one. You know, the point when you’re watching and they switch to local ads for a segment and somebody says, “How did So-and-So Local Business pay for a Super Bowl ad?” Everyone pretend laughs and has a grand old time. This year, the biggest commercial laugh came from a local car dealership. They are called Youngblood, and they’ve run commercials on local stations for years, mostly forgettable, except for the purpose of getting their tagline, “What A Place” across, everyone knows it. This commercial, however, was actually good.

The commercial served another purpose, announcing a competition to have viewers come up with their best “What a Place” video. The makers of the video with the most votes gets $1,000. I thought about if I had enough time with work, and everything, to come up with a video, when I remembered that I don’t have a job, and although it is just a contest, the outcome could closely resemble income.

So, I went about thinking of an idea.

Nothing came to me.

I talked to my friend, and temporary boss, Frank.

Then, at 10 o’clock pm, we just decided to shoot the half of an idea we had come up with.

I’ve embedded it so that you can watch it here, however you have to go to their website to vote. Show the world that dreams are possible, and by dreams, I mean, splitting $1,000. You can vote once everyday through the 23rd. One of the suckers has like 1,100 votes already. We must show them that dreams can’t come true. I think if you have Facebook, you don’t have to register or anything.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

K

K

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

To all my friends, yes, I acknowledge that it would be funny to vote for the other entries, just don’t be a jerk.

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Day 356. Grammys Best and Worst Dressed List. Regina Style

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Another Sunday night, another awards show. Tonight was the Grammys, the music industry’s night of celebration that they’ve fooled people once again. As with all awards shows, there was the red carpet. As with all red carpets, there were outfits. Anytime all of those factors come together, we bring in our fashion correspondent to the Mystery Year, Regina Duphrene. Regina is not me, she is a real, sassy lady, who is definitely not me.

Let’s get it started.

2012 Grammy’s Best and Worst Dressed List.

Bonnie McKee–Worst

Oh dear, Bonnie, your dress done got a sinus infection. Girl, stop what you’re doing right now, go get your dress some Amoxicillin, plenty of rest and fluids. When it becomes yellow and drippy, you’ve got a problem. Oh, and get me some carpet cleaner, I’m going to have to be on my hands and knees on this red carpet, just trying to get this out. This breaks Regina’s Fashion Rule #21: If your dress is sick, just stay home, or all of the other dresses will just end up getting sick too.

Snooki–Best

Some women wore Versaci, and Vera Wang tonight. My girl, Snooki, wore M.C. Esher. $20 says she never made it to the ceremonies because the stairway she was on leading up, suddenly lead down, then when she got to the bottom, it was actually leading up. This follows Regina’s Fashion Rule #3: If your body ain’t great, just wear an optical illusion (This is why after my first baby was born, I wore a magic eye poster for 4 weeks).

Rick Ross-Worst

Rick, honey, if I turned the picture sideways, everyone would think they were watching a TV with technical difficulties. This breaks Regina’s Fashion rule #18: Simply, don’t wear something that will make everyone think they are watching a TV with technical difficulties.

Esperanza Spalding

As any committed reader knows, I have been at the forefront of the movement to bring Hypercolor clothing back. Well, my girl, Esperanza heard the call and answered. Dang, she looks good doing it too. With Hypercolor, you can say that you’re hot, and then have the wardrobe prove it. This follows Regina’s Fashion rule #41: Fads from the ’90s that encourage weird groping are gold for red carpets.

Jessie J–Worst

I’ve got 6 words for everyone around Jessie J tonight: Keep this woman away from a microwave. I’m serious now, no matter how much she pleads, don’t let her in your microwave, she will ruin your microwave, metal is just not meant for microwaves. This breaks Regina’s Fashion rule #23: If at any point, you look at yourself in the mirror in your dress and you think, “I look like the backside of a high quality party balloon,” change clothes.

Fergie– Worst

Fergie, Fergie, Fergie, spilled Tang on a doilie does not a dress make. Listen, I understand, I’ve been there. You’re standing in your grandmother’s underwear in the dining room when you inadvertently spill your space juice on the doilie you set out to wear that night. Breathe, do not wear it, in fact, just don’t ever wear a doilie of any color over underwear. This breaks Regina’s Fashion rule #11: Accidents don’t create fashion. Fashion creates accidents.

Sasha Gradiva

Oh, Regina is going to have some fun with this one. Hey, Sophia, remember that surgery you had a couple years ago when they replaced your shoulder and wrist with metal rods? Yeah, those were magnets. Hey Sophia, this is what you get for taking Robocop as a date, gun corsages. Hey, Sophia, remember to change clothes before going to LAX, you’ll never get through security like that. Hey, Sophia, were you just trying to distract Ted Nugent from looking at your chest? Hey, Sophia, the Men in Black headquarters called, they just finished doing their yearly inventory and they’re down two guns. Hey Sophia, remind me not to sit over your right shoulder, I can’t afford to be collateral damage. Hey Sophia, you just made all 4.3 million straight members of the NRA faint. This breaks Regina’s Fashion rule number…never mind…it’s awesome.

Nicki Minaj-Worst

Well, it’s original, I’ll give you that. And, it’s sinful. So, it’s clearly the personification of original sin. I get it Nicki, I get it. Most people Vatican’t see it, but I Vatican. The only way this outfit is palatable is if it is foreshadowing popping and locking monks in your performance during the show.

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