Character

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One of the nicer things about the internet is that you can quickly learn about things you never could as easily before.

A while back, I was able to find a track from an obscure album that my friend bought just for its absurd title and send it to him by doing a search on YouTube.  My sister passes time with my infirm father by locating songs he knew in India growing up, and playing them through her computer – he’s 72 years old.  Just by entering the parts of song lyrics I know, I can locate a song, and as you can see above, I can even show you the cover to my one published comics work.  For all of its faults, I think the internet is pretty amazing.

Something I like to do on the internet is find the titles of episodes of old TV shows I watch on Antenna TV, and then go to the Internet Movie Database (which has television information too now for some reason – what a country!) and find out the names of people who appeared in them.  Oftentimes, I will see character actors and actresses I really liked growing up, and used to be disappointed when I’d look up their credits and discover that at some point they called it quits.  That is until today, when I realized that I don’t think “making it” means you made it – doing what’s right for you does.

See, I’ve spent my whole life – and I can honestly say that, because I dreamed about it since grammar school – trying to break into entertainment.  IMDB also has an entry for me which, with Robotech: Escape, pretty much represents how far I got.  I’ve been on the top radio call in show (which I won’t name, because I might lose friends) twice; I was on TV after I got an organ transplant from a coworker, been published in Time Magazine, and done a lot of other groovy things, none of which made entertainment into my permanent career, just as few of these character actors’ experiences made them stars for life either.  I spent most of my life feeling like a failure because I didn’t make it, but it dawned on me that if you appeared as a regular on a TV show that ran for multiple seasons and still called it quits, “making it” means nothing.  Just ask this guy.

So what is “making it?”  Though I don’t know any, I imagine all of those character actors would tell you they reached a point where having a life exceeded “the dream,” and that’s why they gave up acting.  Don’t get me wrong – I am sure people like Tom Hanks or Sandra Bullock or Eddie Murphy have few regrets about how things turned out for them.  The thing is, they represent a small number of talented people in entertainment, which I know for a fact from when I was making no budget shorts, and actors who were just as talented would show up and do our silly little shorts for no pay.  One of them was a friend of a friend of mine, and when I learned that he moved back to where he was from, I was heartbroken, because I thought he really was amazingly talented.  I now realize that he likely decided that he wanted to have a stable life for himself and his family, as he was very happily married.  So he left, and likely found something that he could do.

And that’s what I’m planning to do now.

I’m not leaving Southern California, because I just love Southern California.  Instead of beating up on myself for not making it in entertainment though, I’m going to take my writing ability, originally intended for me to “make it” in comics or some other entertainment medium, and channel it toward getting a regular job.  Why?  I’m 40, and now I know better.  I don’t see that as failure or selling out, because I’m not looking for a job that just pays the bills, which I’ve wasted many years doing.  Instead, I’m looking for a job where the primary function is writing and / or public speaking because I know for a fact that I’m genuinely good at doing those things.  The extent to which I “made it” confirms that.  But becoming Sandra Bullock is really hard, and when you’re not healthy or young anymore, it’s not terribly practical. Better to be able to say that you know you could if you had the opportunity, but in absence of that, use the skills that would have made you great at that and let them make you great at something else, something that you can actually get.  Will it happen overnight?  No.  But it will happen a lot sooner than making it in entertainment would.

I’m old enough to realize now that being an adult means being able to let go of what’s beyond your reach, hang on to the part that isn’t, and move forward, not on.  I like to believe that all of those character actors and actresses who threw in the towel went on to something else that they were just as good at, but it took them much further and gave them more satisfaction than acting did.  To me, that’s success.  It’s not as big or as glamorous as what I envisioned, but it’s life.  And I can deal with that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost Famous

not-quite-human

Well, I’ve been able to admit it to Twitter, at least.

The bane of my existence is the simple fact that I am good – no, let’s get away from self-deprecating false modesty, great – at exactly two things: writing and public speaking.  But you couldn’t tell that from my resume.

The quality of the resume itself might suggest it, but I think these days people assume that people get professionals – or people like me – to help them craft their resumes.  So the effort and care I put into crafting mine, a different one for each job I apply to, goes largely unnoticed.  From my resume, you can only tell that I graduated with high distinction in English by reading that line item – the resume doesn’t indicate what it might mean to a potential employer.  Yes, I list a bunch of my writing achievements, but not all, like that aforementioned Twitter account that has 500 followers now (and has been vetted for ‘bots).  I don’t list the published articles I’ve written on my resume, because those publications aren’t to be spoken of (I was young and needed the money).  I don’t mention the website I currently write for because again, it came about because of those unmentionable articles.  All it lists is that I did a gang of customer service jobs, have some legal training, and did well in education, both professionally and as a student.  It doesn’t mention that I can write just about anything, in any writing style, but did all of the above grunt work just to survive.

So how are we going to change that?

At a recent Meetup I went to, the ladies in the group all strongly felt that I really should put some work into getting a job that draws from my considerable writing and public speaking talents, and in accordance with that, I decided that I really should compete in public speaking contests.  Various club leaders (because I’ve been in and visited several clubs at this point) have urged me to do that for years, but because I’m good at public speaking, I’ve been lazy about it.  I already know that I’m good, and have thus far felt no urge to prove it, as I’m just not a competitive person.  It’s also why I’ve done so many jobs just for the money they offered.  Some call that low self-esteem, which might be mixed up in there, but I call it a lack of interest in making money.  Like Mary J. Blige, I just want to be happy.

The second things I’m doing to try to do work that draws from what I’m best at is getting in touch with Syracuse’s alumni career services network, and see if we can alter my resume / network better to get myself a decent entry-level writing or public speaking job.  “Decent” because again, I don’t care how much it pays at this point.  As my sister pointed out, SU needs successful alumni to donate and raise the cache of the school.  When I first moved out to Southern California with a credit on a television show coming out the gate, it seemed I was going to do just that.  Then my health took a dive, so I just worked enough to collect health insurance and live.  Now that my health is better, I have no excuses.  I want writing and public speaking to become a regular part of my job, and I want that next job to lead to a career that focuses on writing or public speaking.

I know I can do it, because I’ve done it before.  As long as I can survive long enough to do so on limited money, I’m set.

What’s Good?

After my ex broke up with me, she told me she’d started journaling things she was thankful for.  Since that time she’s gotten married  and had two more kids. I figure there’s something to it.

I joined a dream interpretation Meetup, and one of the thing the leader of the group recommended was never to use my journal for venting.  I’ve found that this has helped immensely, as it’s allowed me to do what my ex did and sure enough, my life does feel better.  Even during the period when… wait, let me get to my list.  Usually I do this on paper, but it’s late, I’m tired, and I just want to get it done.  So here goes.

 

What’s Good (This Past Week):

Got my laptop fixed for $50 from an honest shop, not for the $150 Best Buy was trying to charge me for a new one, after saying they’d have to charge that much just to look at my old one.

My temp assignment is going into its fifth week, and they’ve frequently said they like me.  They are teaching me new skills that I can add to my resume, which has given me plenty of work.

I had a great conversation with the pretty lady from the other Toastmasters club.  Slowly but surely, I can feel her softening toward me.

I found a great new cheap dry cleaner, so my work clothes are finally getting washed properly.

I found some Nestle peanut butter / chocolate combination spread, and it’s delicious.

I’ve notice two things from recording my dreams: 1) I’m frequently doing things I feel guilty about, as though I shouldn’t be doing them, and 2) I have a lot of dreams where I’m watching something on TV and then somehow it spills into real life.

My friend and I are going to go see a new movie together, after months of not being able to do so because everything blew. After that we’re seeing the South Park exhibit at the Paley Center, the day before it closes.

I noticed and paid my public storage bill just in the nick of time.

I realized that the idea that religion has to make literal sense is a Western concept, both from the Good Muslim / Bad Muslim podcast, and from this article.  The rituals and rules of Islam are the religion – not the concepts of it, or put another way, actions speak louder in Islam than words or ideas. So in its own way, it does “make sense.”

Bill Clinton had one of his best interviews, IMO, on “The Daily Show” this week.  He totally seems to agree with me, that our problems are not the other guy, but painting the other guy as the enemy.

All in all, a pretty good week, I think!🙂

 

 

Podcast #9: Should I Try to Be Happy All the Time? Healthy vs. Unhealthy Emotions — Feeling Good

In previous podcasts David and Fabrice have discussed HOW negative feelings are created and how to change them. In this podcast, they address another question—when we’re feeling depressed, anxious, or angry, should we accept our feelings or try to change them? Dr. Burns describes his confusion when he was an insecure Stanford medical student and […]

via Podcast #9: Should I Try to Be Happy All the Time? Healthy vs. Unhealthy Emotions — Feeling Good

The title of this reminded me of things I’ve read on here / discussions I’ve had lately, so I figured it was worth a share.  Can’t say “enjoy” exactly, but…

The Eternal Struggle

Demotivated I’m so glad the agency called today.  Because I really wasn’t feeling like doing anything.

When people keep bothering me about why I haven’t cashed in on my “talent,” I often want to scream that it’s not that easy!  To do something right takes a gang of effort, and there are so many steps along the way.  When you’ve spent over half your life popped up on prescription drugs or drained of energy due to illness, you have to do everything one step at a time.  And if you’re trying to do something new and different, you need twice as much energy and effort.  It’s maddening.

As I’ve said many times before, talent, good looks, athletic ability, intelligence – these are all traits.  By themselves, they have no value.  Like anything else, they have to be cultivated, and cultivating them takes time and energy.  On some days I have that energy, or am able to break down the task into steps that are so simple I can gradually make way, and in fairness to myself, I did make a little bit of progress today also.  Once I hit that road block though, all of the energy drained out of me.  It’s Wednesday, and I spent Monday running errands during this heatwave to finish up after my latest defeat, and then yesterday helping my friend write her appeal so she can continue receiving funding for school.  Today was supposed to be the day I really made a giant leap forward toward turning my career toward what it should have been from day one.  I hit the wall though, as my resume doesn’t reflect what I want to do, and I lack the knowledge or energy to get it there.  And then I started moping.  It was downhill from there.

I don’t know how to break myself of this going forward, when it really counts and there isn’t a temp agency to save me, but I really need to.  Right now I have huge opportunities with my writing, my “night job,” as it were, but I have to execute.  If I can’t find the energy to get myself a day job that sustains me through that, I feel like I’m toast, and I’ve never been able to change that.

But I know that I sure as Hell need to work on it.