My New Years Resolution this year-and every year-is to make this years success bigger than the last one. Every year, I've been able to do it. Last year I was a bit worried because 2012 was particularly good to me- (un)missed connections was in Planet Connections, Standby was in the Fringe Fest, I was in a Jenny Craig commercial, I acted in Duncan Pflaster's Taint of Equality and Rachel Foote Baccus's Strange and Separate People...I was on a high...How to beat that? ... I must say, though..2013 has been the year of moving forward.
People ask..."when do you sleep?" The answer is "I sleep normally. I just don't play. Or waste time. " I can't. THAT is settling. I can't do that. Not when I've tasted what it's like to have a non-stop barrage of dreams coming true. Years ago, before I moved to NYC, I dreamed of words like "Fringe Festival, NYMF Festival, playwright, lyricist..." and suddenly...its all happening.
I write every day. I have to. My mind works that way...I have so many stories and I have to write them down or I get antsy...I sing every day too (even if its alone in my living room or shower.) I plot. I plan. I rehearse...I can't imagine a life without these things.
I believe in storytelling. Sometimes when I listen to people tell me a story about an event in their life, I fade away. Because I'm restructuring their story in my head...Is that weird?
Maybe I've been lucky then that I've been able to tell my stories. Whether on the stage myself, or behind the scenes- behind my laptop, I've been able to tell my stories all over the country.
This year has been amazing, so far. My Novel "Little Corner" had its first chapter published in CCNY's literary journal. I won a slew of writing awards. Then came the summer gauntlet. Starting in May- (Un)missed connections performed in part of a fundraiser for Dreamcatcher Entertainment. I graduated City College and got my BA (finally), the next day, The Holy Cows of Credence, South Dakota opened in the planet connections theatre festivity. During the cows run, Facing East announced that it would be in concert in Texas in August. I was the lead in the short film, Bliss. Standby opened and sold out its run at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, Holy Cows was nominated for five awards and won three...It has been the busiest of times.
I've never had the attitude of "I hope I get it." I've always had the attitude. "I know I will achieve it. Maybe not today, but I will." It got me through school, it kept me from losing too much hope in the face of rejection, and it kept me moving. And for the most part, its true. Most goals I set for I've achieved.
But I don't know what next year holds. I raised the bar pretty high. Yet, I still have high hopes. I will say this...
...I am certainly not through yet.
The Question- "Are you doing what you believe in?" I can answer with a yes...mostly, because I can't understand doing anything else.
To me, creating is the thing that makes me truly happy. It's always been that way. Recently, aside from working out, I have been spending a lot of time going over some old creations of mine. You see, I found my the video camera my Dad gave me for Christmas in 1996!
I'll be honest, since I was 16 years old -and had my license and an eagerness for growing up- I was expecting what all of my other 16 year old friends were getting...a car. So it was a bit out of left field to unwrap a present and see something that I hadn't even thought of asking for. But my Dad, who is one of my closest confidants as well as my father, obviously knew me better than I knew myself. That camera was at my side for years. I filmed EVERYTHING. My best friends, Graham and Amanda, as well as my brothers Kenny and Greg were constantly filming skits, and parody movies, and scenes and stories...we were constantly creating.
You know, 14 -17 is when some kids get into trouble. I know I had my fair share (I'll be honest, the majority of it had to do with girls - one in particular) But-aside from one particularly bad alcohol experiment- I pretty much managed to steer clear of the bad parties, the questionable behavior, drugs, and overall teenage shenanigans that others got into-at least for a while. Perhaps its because I had two hands and one eye in a camera, and a mind on other things. Who had time for that when there were movies to be made?
I was happy creating. Going over the footage, I saw snippets of conversations with me and my friends. I saw quick little ideas beginning to form that would later become projects. I saw a snippet of who I would ultimately become, and who I am still working to be.
Even now, its all I want to do. There are times I sit down to write in the morning, and get up and realize that the day has gone by. But I love it. I love living in the worlds I create. I love performing in the stories that others have created. that makes me happy. that is all I have ever wanted to do.
Telling Stories. Creating. Acting. Writing... Happiness.
If I can keep doing what I'm doing, I will be the happiest guy on Earth.
Oh, and those videos...15 years ago, our ultimate project was to film a series of clips that looked like a person changing TV channels. It was to be called "Channel Surfing" It was to show everyone who we are, what we liked, what we laughed at, and what we wanted to be.
And, seventeen years later, 33 years old, the project is now nostalgic...but complete.
And you know what? It's everything I intended. Its who I was. It's who I am. It's what I like. It's what makes me laugh. And most importantly, it's who I continue wanting to be.
so I present to you- 15 years in the making- "Channel Surfing"
A deep question to think about...and it was running through my head during INSANITY'S PURE CARDIO...in the end I couldn't catch my breath for two reasons...one for the physical ass whipping I was getting from a DVD and two because changing the world is not an easy thing to do....but here goes.
If I could change one thing about the world...I would give everyone the natural ability to ask themselves "How will this action, or words, be received by others?"
We don't think enough of other people. In our aggressive climbs to the top, in our ultrafast walk or drives to work, in our cars, behind our iphones, between our headsets, behind our email addresses and text numbers, and facebook names...We say, and do, and look and purposely disconnect and disconnect and disconnect...
"How was that shoulder check received by the person I just ran into?"
"How was that cut in line received?"
"How was the lane blocking, that newspaper stealing, that tip shorting, that dog kicking, that kid scolding, that mouthing off, that face slapping, that racial profiling, that gay rights stealing, that sexism based hiring, that snide comment, that back stabbing, that envy, that cheating, that crowd pushing, that web bullying..."
The list goes on...but if those people had just a little bit more human compassion, a little more empathy...well...the world might be a little bit better of a place.
And now I can breathe again.
About eight to nine years ago, I was at the finish line when my mom ran the LA Marathon. She was breathing heavy, stumbling, but incredibly triumphant. As I had barely begun my weight loss journey, the idea that my mother, or anyone, running 26.2 miles was incredibly impressive. As I pulled my mom into a hug to congratulate her, she spoke aloud.
"I will never do that again!"
Which makes it safe for her somewhat overweight son to say "Aw...I totally would have done one with you."
She leaned back and said "Really?"
I nodded. It was safe.
So when she reconfirmed with me online later, I agreed, again not taking it seriously...but when she sent me an email confirming my registration in the San Diego Marathon I though...Oh shit...I gotta run!
So where am I going with this story? Well, flash forward a few months...to an early June morning in San Diego, where my mom and I are waiting for the race to start. My mom turns to me and says something that will change my life forever...something that I have said to many many people.
"If you ever feel like you can't go further, turn around and look behind you and see how far you've come."
The marathon began, and footfall by footfall, mile by mile, around mission bay, with sea world in the back ground, amid cheers of the San Diegans and before I really knew it...I was doing something that few people have ever done.
Hours later, at twenty miles...I hit a big hill. The only real hill in the marathon and, for a moment, I thought, "what if...I just stop."
My mom's words came back to me, and I turned around and gave myself a quick glance behind me and just saw a sea of people all running, all with me...it was amazing. But even more amazing was the feeling of accomplishment...a sort of a "look how far I've come."
There was no way I was stopping. There was no way I was turning around. What would I do if I stopped? What would I do if I turned around? No...."Look how far I've come."
I finished that marathon. And the following year, when my mom and I ran that marathon again, those words still stuck with me.
Now whatever I do..., writing theatre, performing theatre, writing my book, losing weight, writing this blog...Whenever I feel like I cannot type another word, sing another note, memorize another line, take another test, do another sit up, run another mile...I think about how far I've come.
When all is said and done, will I have said more than I have done?
No, because my mother taught me to always recognize where I came from, and how far I've come, and to use those accomplishments to push me forward.
I know what I have done. Furthermore, I know it will always move me forward.
If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
That's a serious question I am asking myself all of the time. - "Do I REALLY want to do this?"
These past few years, between work (weight loss) School (BA in theatre) Shows (about 11 this year) and all the many many things I do with my life...its hard to find time for things...and if I DO find the time. Last semester I worked full time, took 16 units of classes, and did a LOT of theatre...and I have to say.. I wanted to do ALL of those things. I will say it was my most productive year. I was in a commerical about weight loss. I was in the NY DAILY NEWS for it too. I filmed my first independent movie, and my first big web series, originated my first stage role, did a damn musical again. EACH of my writing projects got some kind of production this year...I am DOING what I want to do.
That is FUN for me.
Yes I absolutely love to go out and party. I love to meet for drinks at bars, see movies, hang out, go on vacation...but those little breaks are not want I want to DO. They are just things to do.
People sometimes ask...how do you pass the time? But...who has time to pass? With all that I want to do with my life, I don't really have time to "chill." That's just not me. When I leave work, or school, I am usually heading directly into some theatrical adventure or other something to push me forward...and if its not something that is going to challenge or change me...I probably won't do it. I just don't have time.
I'm not the time who can just sleep all day. I am not the type who can party every night. I am not the type who can just...hang out....
I have life ADD. I can't focus on one thing...
Call me driven. Call me cold. But don't call me a time waster.
(steps off soap box)
I feel bad because I haven't blogged enough...honestly I haven't had a lot of time..but I will make up for it because this blog is something I really DO want to do. Fitness wise, mental health wise, life wise...
As for fitness..so day one of INSANITY was yesterday...and man...my ass is kicked. My entire body hurts. But its worth it..abs will be worth it. Being the best I can be is worth it..
so until tomorrow.
Question number two on my questions to open my eyes.
I actually set down to write this blog earlier and couldn't quite find the words today. It was out during my jog that I found the words.
To me, that question is a no brainer. Up until I thought about it, I thought it was a no brainer to everyone. How could anyone even compare the two? But then I thought about how many people there are out there who never even though about trying.
How may people have written stories or poems and thought "well that was fun, but i'm not really a writer" and put it away. Or the weekend football players who never ever considered trying out for fear of not making the cut. Or the community theatre actor who says, "I like acting" but never considered going big time because they might fall on their faces. Some people are happy to settle. Some people are just born that way. Some people want to never see their limitations that way they can continue believing that they don't have any.
I am in no way saying this is wrong. Not at all...it's just not for me. Maybe those people think that failing is worse. Safer. Easier.
Once, I was applying for a writing school. I had to gather three pieces of my best work. I had to put together a packet and send it by August 1st of that year. Now the stakes were high because this was the best of the best of the musical theatre writing schools. People all over the country would be aiming for very few spaces in this workshop. Well at least those who believed in trying in the first place...
So I gathered all my work, made my cuts, and to be safe decided to send it overnight express, even though I had weeks to spare.
I got to the post office and was met with a huge line. Having little time before needing to be at work, I went to the automated mailer and followed the instructions on the screen. Got my stamps, applied them, and put my packet into the machine and went on my merry way.
The next few weeks were weeks of insane waiting. Starting august first I began checking my voice mail, my email, my house mail...everything. I couldn't wait to hear either way whether or not I made the first cut. But then something interesting happened....nothing. No word. Nothing...Then I got a nice little letter in the mail from the post office on August 7th. Turns out I had filled out the information wrong, in my rush to get it in the mail. The packet had never left my post office. It had never made it to the school by the deadline. It was dead in the water.
I went home that night and, honestly cried. And to be even more honest, I went out to a bar alone. I got drunk, plastered, tore up. Basically 5 hours of long islands then somehow stumbling home. Hung over, I went to work the next day and cried. My coworker asked what was wrong and I told her the story. She didn't get it. "Maybe you wouldnt have made it anyways. This saves you the heartache."
"But I at least want the OPPORTUNITY to fail!" I cried.
The story has an epilogue. I managed to get a hold of someone in the school offices. I managed to plead my case. She told me if I got the packet in by 6pm that night (it was 2pm when we spoke) I could get it in the system. I think she was convinced when i said that same line. "I want the opportunity to fail."
I left work early and picked up the packet and got it in by 4 pm. and you know what? I failed. I did. I didn't even make the first cut. And yeah, it hurt a little. But no where near as much as when I thought I wasn't even going to be seen and heard. Furthermore, I learned a few lessons. First. Never trust the automatic post office machines. Two: Breathe. Take my time. Make sure things are perfect before taking a step. Rush jobs never work. And Three: I learned something about my values. I value opportunity. I value chances. I believe that if you fail, and learn something, then you aren't really failing at all.
So bring it on, failure, at least I got up the nerve to take you on the first time. And I'll get up again...and again...and again....
There's a little bit more about me revealed, a little more of my bikini.
There is a fantastic series of questions called 50 questions that will free your mind. Google it. Read it. Answer it.
It's about balance. health, and mostly...revelation. Because what is a bikini but a reveal? So in the midst of my crazy working out, I am going to also take a look at what makes me tick. Perhaps 50 days from now, when I've gotten a chance to get to know myself through these questions I'll also be able to reveal a bikini ready body.
That's a still shot from the web series "Pioneer One" where I played a Astro-Biologist named Richard C. Hadfield. I used to play a lot of sidekicks and scientists. It's kinda my thing. Anyway, judging from the pic here....if I had to guess my age...I'd say, about 34-35.
Now I'll do some analyzing here. Those crows feet are killing me! As well as my forehead...botox time! Yeah right! Once, at a photo shoot, I did have a make up artist once tell me that. "That's nothing a little botox wont cure" I'd love to say I am totally against the stuff...but my first response was "Do you have any in that magic bag of yours?"
I have an obsession with running out of time. Or looking that way.
It's one of the reasons I try to pack so much into my days. Exercise, Acting, Writing, Working, Practicing, Blogging, Running....there is so much to do. There are many things I want to do with my life. It's impossible to be everywhere. I know this.
The pressure's on if I already am looking mid 30s, because there are so many things I want to have done by then. I wanted to have finished School. I wanted to be a published playwright. I wanted to have kids. I wanted to get married. I wanted to have written a book. I wanted to have given a truly noteworthy performance. (with actual noteworthy notes) I wanted to have abs. I wanted to ride a Llama. I wanted to eat star fruit. I wanted to go to Europe. I wanted to learn my family tree. I wanted to learn to dance and sing. I wanted to run another marathon.I wanted to learn to let go. I wanted to...
My God, there are so many things I wanted to do by mid thirties. I'm so far behind.
So that's what I would be thinking if i didn't know my age. Looking at myself and knowing that I look older than I am (which stings a little) reminds me that I do still have time to hit some of those goals. So that's what these questions are for....
Gives me something to think about as I go exercise. I mean...just because my face looks mid thirties doesn't mean my torso has to.
See you tomorrow.