“Not-bad.” was the hyphenated comment I got from Chadd. “Still, I don’t think I like a show that the message is ‘everything will be ok because I have my blog.”
Rob Malone had been prodding me for a while to make some sort of web-series version of my blog, in our now in-frequent meetings. I hadn’t seen Rob at my writing group for a while and now our once-upon-a-summer Monday night Karaoke sessions had been fairly vaporized by both my movie theater employment and Planet Rose’s new down-graded machines.
All-in-all, Rob was hiding out in Brooklyn and Pennsylvania alternately and even the scene he appeared in in the “Feitelogram Film Blog” was a scene of us video-chatting over our GMail accounts, where my virtual attempts at cross-chat beard stroking go poorly.
It was tough, I guess, not to hang out more, a thought pounded into my head by an impending improv class I’d be taking solo, when I’d taken the last one with him in tow.
But still, we talked enough and like I said, he’d encouraged me to write something, so when push came to shove and I was hosting someone (hostage) at my house who was expecting me to show up with something written to this “writing group” I had told him so much about, I wrote out the pilot and it got a few laughs over beers.
“Conflict!” Andy Roehm had told me, after sharing his promising start at a media-age domestic-thriller. “I mean it’s a testament that I’m not just annoyed at reading about someone writing their blog, but we need some conflict to keep us engaged.”
“What about where he says ‘I’m 23 and I don’t know what to do with my life’?” I asked.
“That’s pretty much the baseline.” Kent Hu replied from next to me at the bar table. “You gotta have something more than that.”
Kent for his own part had been solacing me in my audition process, dealing with bad copy, false starts and the sense that despite my “freelancer” status, my life was going nowhere. Despite his similar sense of angst, he tried to reassure me.
“You’re a funny guy.” He said. “A unique individual. You just have to find something that’s right for you.”
But what was that even?
I had fled a job that was killing me to work in a movie theater where people viewed me as somewhere between incompetent and over-qualified. The other day I was chastised twice for making a bad joke to a customer and putting away food too quickly toward the end of the night.
When the same Andy came over and joked about with me about my previous hubris at my “cafe skills”, I told him to leave me alone or I’d “punch [him] in the fucking face”.
“Not a characteristic statement.” I later told John Beamer, my erstwhile housemate (and aforementioned hostage), describing my angst at the day.
And when my girlfriend canceled our lunch plans to, reasonably, study for an exam she had later in the day, I just felt my whole world tumble.
What was I doing with my life? What am I of value? Why can’t I gain insight, or some discipline?
J.D. Amato, who once mocked my portrayal of him here as a nascent success, told me today he treated writing like a job, scheduled from 10-5 on weekdays, a thought that only enforced my inner guilt/conflict over my father’s statement that I was “fooling” myself if I wasn’t writing everyday.
And I guess when Chadd gave me his non-negative comments, it only stirred me more, since I was struck simultaneously with the defensive righteousness of defending a character who blogs to survive, and also the need to immediately go write.
Will this be worked out tomorrow in therapy? Probably not.
I’m glad though at least that the HBO show “In Treatment” is coming back on. I’ve seen Gabriel Byrne at the theater a few times, hanging out and talking to the security guard, who says he’s a nice guy. I wanted to talk to him there, but that would mean singling him out in the theater and not only did I know that was wrong, but I checked with the security guard who looked at me like I was talking two-kinds of dumb.
I blazed through both seasons of that show in the spring, at my old job, when I tried to think about what I could get out of it.
That’s one of the biggest questions for me, that other people ask, about therapy: what do you get out of it? What does it do?
Answer: it gives you the opportunity to get your life seen from a distance, to have someone reflect it at you, to give you a release and a sense of inner-satisfaction.
A hand-job for sanity or the soul?
Too crass, I apologize.
I’m not sure about it, I’m not sure about it all. And I know this is even more free-form than I usually am.
But I guess, like I said earlier, I do believe that I am at my best when I’m writing myself. And that writing myself illuminates things that are universal for at least some people. And that there is some worth in that.
And let me be chastised by fate or failure, or my own shortcomings: but this is what I know how to do right now.
And damn well, I’ll do it.
To talk about this lunch almost seems passe.
The place that gave me it was a ramshackle shack in the middle of a street near a park.
But for a time, it filled me and perhaps that is enough.
“Do you have ketchup?” was the first question I asked the man at the counter after getting this far, pictorially speaking, with my food.
“No.” He replied, cheerily.
“Well do you know where I might find some?” I asked him.
“No.” He replied again. “But doesn’t it taste good without that?”
It did. I had ordered the “Phoenician Combo Meal” at the Illili restaurant booth in the foodmarket off Madison Sq. Park. It consisted of a thin but flavorful pressed chicken sandwich, filled with whipped garlic-yogurt, pickles and tahini, and some “Phoenician fries” covered in parsley and sea salt, the source of the previous ketchup askance.
“Satisfied?” The cashier asked me after a few bites.
“Yeah,” I replied. “I just think in the next few outings you might consider bringing ketchup.”
“Nope.” He told me flatly.
I was dumbstruck.
“Well, Jesus, why?”
“Not Lebanese. We’re a Lebanese restaurant.”
I didn’t stick around to ask about frites-sauce mayo, considering any further conversation worthy of negative karma towards my own efforts at a customer-service job.
Still, the sandwich and fries were both portable and unusual and they appetized me enough that I came back a few other days for putative seconds.
After all, I later learned that Shake Shack has a lenient policy on condiment stealers.
ILLILI RESTAURANT SHACK (possibly defunct now?)
Pressed Chicken and Phoenician Fries “Combo Meal”- $12
Broadway bet. 24th and 25th St, as part of Mad Sq. Market.
NR to 23rd St. FM to 23rd St- 6th Ave.