Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dear Gene the Brain Tick

There’s a slightly engorged tick that lives in my brain.  He feeds off of my jealousy, my insecurity, and the tasty little bits of my rejected pride.   Years ago, I named him Gene after one of the biggest pricks I knew.  Gene slobbers up all of these feelings, chortling to himself as he grows fat and happy, then excretes out a crippling feeling of failure and malaise.  Gene is excellent at his job.  

There's the stigma that any good entertainer, be it a writer, actor, comedian, singer, whatever, has a lethal amount of ego and/or a spectacularly messed up sense of self.  I would fall into the latter category, which makes Gene a very happy brain tick.  If there's a bad thing to be said of me, I probably started the chant.  There's no defining moment, no single thing you can point to and say "That's why he's this way."  I had a normal childhood, loving parents, and I was rarely touched by strangers.  Somewhere around high school or college, I grew a fairly unique sense of humor, mostly as a way of coping with the fact that I am wound tighter than a coke head's watch.  At some point, I just stopped censoring myself, and I found out people thought that was funny.  So, I found self-worth there, and that's informed my writing ever since.

I touched upon this earlier, but I tend to get very envious of other artistic types that have succeeded where I have failed.  This exclusive group includes almost every person that has ever done anything creative, because, to this point, I haven’t gotten very far.  As my twitter bio says, "Failed actor, failed writer, failed director, excellent at making sandwiches."  Mostly, I've failed because I have always allowed myself to be talked out of things.  I was told I couldn't make it as an actor, so I stopped.  Same with the other things.  My podcast had about twenty listeners an episode, so that went away.  This blog, running on almost three years now, marks the single longest commitment I've made to anything that wasn't smoking cigarettes or the tv show LOST.  Why have I kept doing it?  Two reasons: I'm good at it, and more importantly, it makes me feel good to do it.  This particular letter is roughly the 150th I’ve put out.  We’ve basically hit novel length at this point.  That’s plenty of feel good for me.  

Why did I write all of this?  As my friend Spike says, "I told you that story so I could tell you this one."

I noted on the blog's Facebook page that I went to see Danielle Ate the Sandwich the other night.  This is fitting to the blog, because Danielle actually has a tie to its history.  For the first year or so I wrote this, I would write while listening to a Youtube playlist I made of artists like Danielle, Julia Nunes, Lauren O'Connell, and others, the majority being female singers, mostly ukulele players, who can really sing.  Most play happy songs, because there aren't a whole lot of sad ukulele songs.  It may seem antithetical, but for whatever reasons, this playlist always got me in the mood to write this blog.
Some time early last year, I sent out emails to several of these musicians.  I offered a trade of sorts.  I requested each artist cover a song for this blog, and in return, I would write a letter of their choosing, or write anything really.  It was a bad idea, for certain, and clearly only benefited me as it would get my name out to their largely superior audiences.  These artists are smart, and they saw through that.  In fact, the only two to respond were Lauren O'Connell, despite her cover of "House of the Rising Sun" hitting national acclaim on American Horror Story at that same time, and Danielle Ate the Sandwich.  Lauren offered a thanks but no thanks, and Danielle was gracious, asking only that I write her again in the fall after her current tour ended.  Danielle keeps herself very busy, and was unable again in the fall, but was needlessly polite throughout.

The shorter point to that whole story was that Danielle, in email, seemed much like her on camera self.  This notion was proven when I met her this week.  I said hello to her, gave her my card, and talked with her for a bit.  She remembered my logo off the card, and the emails, and I tried to to fanboy gush on her.  The show was exactly what one could hope for had they seen her videos: funny, earnest, and charmingly self deprecating, three tenets I strive for, but feel like I generally miss as a trio, with my blog.  Moreso, she represented something I could have been.  She did what she loved doing, and she's taking every chance to make her living at it.  For once, though, I didn't get sad about it, or regretful, or any type of typical reaction to something I am envious of.  I was just happy.  I went home, sat on the porch, and smoked a cigar while watching a rainstorm come in.  I may have even smiled, which tends to look like I'm having a stroke.  This was almost a revelation, because normally Gene would have eaten well after I watched someone so happy at succeeding.  Maybe I am getting better as I get older.  Maybe Gene just had a stroke and his carcass is blocking off the bitterness sector of my brain.  Maybe it's something else entirely. 

My friend Cindyloo who gave me a DVD of the movie About Time for my birthday this year, because she thought I would like it.  I made the decision long ago to never apologize for something I like, and I will gladly say I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Without going into the nitty gritty on the plot, one of the characters makes a statement near the end, "I just try to live every day as if I've deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it".  

For whatever reason, that stuck with me.  Maybe it’s because it was near my birthday, a time where I was already evaluating where I am in life.  Maybe because at this point, I’ll cling to anything that offers a chance at clarity.  Regardless, I’ve loosely adopted that idea.  Every day, I try to do at least one thing that makes me even the slightest bit happy.  It can be listening to a particular song on the ride home, windows down and enjoying the breeze.  It can be letting myself cheat and have pancakes for dinner or sitting on the deck and having a cigar after work.  Before I go to bed, I jot down each of the things I did to be happy that day.  Some days, it’s hard to find the good things that happened, and other days you can fill the page.  The point is, I have to make a concerted effort to be happy every day, even just for a little bit.  Maybe, then, it’ll happen more and more, and Gene the Brain Tick will shrivel up and die.  

So, this has been my way of half assing my dream.  Maybe one day it'll lead me on a book tour, city to city like Danielle Ate The Sandwich, or maybe I'll give up a month from now.  The point it, I've chosen for once to do something that makes me happy, and to keep doing it even when I don't get positive results.  Life rarely gives you positive results, so screw it, and just find a way to be happy, or else your brain tick will burst out of your nose. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I appreciate your comments. I appreciate them even more if you sign in or let me know who you are. Otherwise I get paranoid trying to figure out who you are, and that ends up with me having to watch The Sandlot to calm myself down.