Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Where Am I Going? Where Are You Going?

Last week before class, I was eating lunch with an improv classmate. He's 22 and on the verge of graduating from Northwestern, and we were discussing life in general. At one point he asked me why I'm in the conservatory program. "Why are you doing this," he asked repeatedly. He knew I was an intellectual of sorts, but at the same time he seemed to think I was wasting my natural abilities on just improv. I explained to him my job situation and my passion for improv and comedy, but he kept asking "why." Eventually he settled on my desire to write comedy professionally and possibly pursue a future in theater. He wasn't totally placated, but it was the best answer I could give him.

Less than fourteen months from now, I will be turning 30 years old. In a slightly less intimidating sense, I will be turning 29 in about seven weeks. I suppose I feel neurotic about my birthday because I thought I would be established at this point. That can be a loaded word, but that's how I feel. For all my accomplishments in improv, my burgeoning Twitter feed, not to mention a smattering of published articles, that pretty much sums up my first 5 1/2 years since graduating college. I feel like I've achieved a few things but accomplished so little at the same time. The career that I aspired for disintegrated a little over three years ago, and my current temp job is nowhere near a career. In the last year I've garnered two job interviews out of hundreds of job applications. I don't know if I'm doing something wrong or if I'm just another member of an increasingly lost generation of Americans.

Judging from my accomplishments in the previous paragraph, one might assume my primary issue is a lack of motivation or direction. That is not totally true. Since my career in radio came to an abrupt halt I've been trying to parlay my improv "hobby" into something greater. I've been marketing myself as a comedy writer first and a comedic actor and improviser second. What people don't realize about improv is that there's very little money there; that ability to think on your feet and create scenes and situations from thin air is meant to progress into bigger and better things. My monologue-style jokes aside, most of what I've written lately has been based on scenes I've performed in class with my conservatory ensemble at Second City. I had some part in the creation of four short films in 2012, and though my 2013 output so far pales in comparison I'm still banging away on the keyboard. I have a better idea of how to market myself than I did two years ago.
In a nutshell, Rome wasn't built in a day. Some of us are late bloomers. As long as you're in my corner, I think I'll be alright.

Other notes:

+ So it turns out my father has B-Cell Lymphona. In a nutshell, it could be Hodgkin's Disease or it might not; it's literally 50/50. With that said, it was caught early and there is an 85% survival rate, so some type of radiation or chemotherapy is imminent. This will not be an easy path to take, but there's room for optimism. I'll keep you posted.

+ The NSA is tapping our phones?! Wow, I'm so shocked... in 2006. Heck, even Stephen Colbert was joking about it when he famously grilled President Bush at the White House Correspondents' Dinner that year. It scares me too, don't get me wrong, but at the same time our collective memory...

+ That was probably one of the best finishes to a hockey game I've ever seen. Congratulations again to the Blackhawks.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Child is Father to the Blogger

After three months and multiple delays, my father finally had his brain surgery on Friday. We were informed two days earlier that the growth in his skull was spreading again, and that it would have to be removed sometime in the next 10 days or so. On Thursday the hospital scheduled the procedure for 9:30 AM the next day; I was forced to request a day off work on less than 24 hours' notice, a personal first. I spent most of Friday morning and afternoon with my mother sitting outside the ER; she nonchalantly skimmed through a magazine while I tried to get some writing done for class. For all intents and purposes, she was a complete trooper.

Judging from first impressions, the surgery was a success. The growth was removed, but it's still not clear if the tumor was cancerous or not. (Yes, it was a tumor.) At the same time, the aftereffects are yet to be determined. He doesn't seem to have any sensorimotor issues, and his speech is not slurred. However, my dad might have blurriness in his right eye --he's already very nearsighted-- and possibly some short term memory less. When I visited on Saturday, there didn't seem to be any noticeable permanent damage; he was watching TV and conversing without any issue. At the same time, he was a little tired and still feeling quite dizzy.

Thank you again for the thoughts and good vibes and may you all have a Happy Father's Day.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Through a Third Freshman's Eyes

Get ready to feel old again!

For the third year in a row, I present my assumptive Mindset List for graduating high school kids/incoming college freshmen. This year's high school grads were born in late 1994 or early-to-mid 1995, mere preschoolers at the turn of the millennium. I can't speak on behalf of Americans ten years my junior (!) and these observations may not be totally representative of all 18-year-olds, but it's certainly something to wrap your head around. Besides, why should we wait for Beloit College's annual list in three months?

(NOTE: if anything may appear to be missing, I was just trying to avoid overlap from last year's list. Click here for said blog entry.)

With that said, if you are an incoming college freshman...

...there has never been an Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
...with the exception of a four-year gap in the late 2000s, the GOP has always controlled the House of Representatives.
...women have always been able to captain a space shuttle.
...your British friends have never invested in Barings Bank.
...Michael Jordan has only retired twice.
...there has always been at least one NBA team in Canada.
...there has never been an NFL team in Los Angeles, but there's always been one in northern Florida.
...Kevin Garnett, Jerry Stackhouse, and Kurt Thomas have always played in the NBA.
...the Major League Baseball season has never been shortened by, nor subjected to, a strike or work stoppage.
...you have never seen a sporting event inside Chicago Stadium or Boston Garden.
...the San Francisco 49ers have never won a Super Bowl.
...Cal Ripken Jr. has always owned the record for all-time consecutive games played.
...Connie Chung has never co-anchored the CBS Nightly News.
...you never saw Chris Farley or Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live.
...classic kids' shows like "Ghostwriter," "Legends of the Hidden Temple," and "Tiny Toon Adventures" have existed only in repeats.
...Jon Stewart has never been on any cable channel besides Comedy Central.
...Jay Leno has always beaten David Letterman in the ratings.
...you have never had a sip of Coke II, and you don't know what it used to be called.
...you have never seen a first-class postage stamp below 30 cents.
...Mickey Mantle, Jerry Garcia, Ginger Rogers, Selena, Ed Flanders, Michael O'Donoghue, Shannon Hoon, Easy E, Wolfman Jack, Orville Redenbacher, Peter Cook, Donald Pleasance, Elizabeth Montgomery, Dr. Jonas Salk, and Bob "Happy Trees" Ross have always been dead.
..."The Far Side" and "Calvin & Hobbes" have never run in your local newspaper.
...you've probably never read a newspaper.

If you have anything else to add, let me know. Writing these lists are both inspiring and depressing.