Periods of Frustration

What are you supposed to do when you no longer know why you’re at a place?

Me, I go try to find food.

I’ve been at this “internship” for quite a few months now, hooked up by my mom, as a bulwark I guess, to doing nothing.

My dad keeps on insisting it’s for the best, that these people are “connected” and that somehow, they’ll find some way to “hook you up”.

My experience has been though, that internships never “hook you up”, they use all they can out of you until they use no more, or failing that, hire you out of desperation for everyone else quitting.

One might call this cynical, but considering that a woman I worked a year for, for free, didn’t cast me as “Sleeping Roommate”, a part which would have gotten me signed to my agency, you’ll forgive me for having a dim view of internships.

At this current one, I don’t even know what I’m doing or why I’m there, failing even the pretense of “advancement in my industry” which appeals to so many people who seek these things out.

At some point, I just wanted to get away.

So I went to Buffalo Wild Wings.

It’s true, I didn’t mean to. I wanted to go to the Empanada cart, staged over by Atlantic Terminal, that gives good-fried-packets for just around 2 dollars, but they were gone, maybe driven away by whatever frost there was that day and so I tried the place I’d heard about, thinking that if they advertised Chicken, they might not be so objectionable.

I was pretty wrong.

The nuggets I brought back (“boneless wings”) to the office, were crispy, sickly-sweet and over-spiced. Frank, my best friend, a Brooklynite, had tried them before and mocked me for thinking they’d be anything else.

“McDonalds is better.” Frank tossed around harshly.

I told him I thought they were better than the McDonald Chicken Nuggets (which now contain no chicken), but not by much.

I was excited for some celery that came with it, which I dipped a little in the bleu cheese dressing.

I did some research that day at the internship.

But I don’t know what for.

***

When I went to Union Hall last night to meet Eva to see a comedy show, she sent me a text message that I got when I was two blocks away and I sent one back in reply.

Just checking in with each other, seeing where we were.

The comedy was good, some funny people. Eugene Mirman, A.D. Miles and Mike DeStefano, whose fame from his recent “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast seems to have given him a worthy boost in a career that seemed doomed to pigeon-holing, playing wise-guys.

I kept looking over at Eva though, checking to see that she found the same things funny as me, seeing that she liked her drink, or the atmosphere.

Wanting to know that she liked being with me.

“Sure, I saw my ex plenty of times after we broke up.” Andy told me, changing in the locker room. He had gotten off to a bad start that day, combating the hangover he seemed ever-locked in struggle with.

“It’s the same sort of thing every time. They dance around the decision they made. ‘Did I do the right thing? Was I right? Is this better?’ Until they realize: ‘Oh wait, I guess I did make the right decision. Cool then.”

“I’m worried.” I told Andy, “I’m worried I’m not ready for this.”

“Well, you already said you do it.” said Andy, straightening his shirt. “Just be aware of it. See if you’re getting in to the same routine. Realize she’s not that for you anymore. She’s just an acquaintance.”

I wanted to say when Andy said this that I couldn’t do that, but he was out, gone to fresh air, to feel better, away from work.

And of course I couldn’t feel like Eva was acquaintance, just another friend. How do you look at someone who you shared so much of your life with, taste and trust, someone who accepted you fully and you helped them– how do you look at that person and see them as anything else?

In the end I couldn’t. I made jokes and enjoyed the comedy and drank too much and bought her a few.

I told A.D. Miles “a toast to red-heads”, when Eva told me he was pretty sure his hair was blond, a testament to my color-blindness.

We talked and took the same train and played the same games as she kept trying to pay me for drinks and I kept trying to hide the money in her bag and down her dress.

Yeah, she wore a nice dress and looked very pretty.

We talked for a bit about the dating websites we were on and looking for other people and she told me her “headless body” had gotten a lot of messages, while I told her I hadn’t been too happy with what I’d found.

I gave her my stand-up set, I laughed at her jokes, I admonished her when she self-deprecated, or said people didn’t think she was pretty.

“Well, they’re going to see your face eventually.” I told her. And she agreed.

We sat together on the train and talked some more and right before her stop, I had already started crying, though I don’t think she noticed.

The whole night had gone through and there I was with her about to leave, still not loving me.

It’s hard to see someone’s face, their same face, their same expressions and know that their happiness is no longer for you.

I cried home, on the subway and in bed. To the public, I blame the whiskey.

In bed, Dan Pleck got on the phone with me, texting fast, telling me that trying to recapture first love is like “chasing the dragon”, a high that never comes again.

Mostly, I just felt like a junkie.

I woke up and watched the second-to-last episode of Deadwood and was fine.

***

When I introduced myself in my Writing for SNL class, I blew myself up a little bit.

“Well, I’ve interned for The Colbert Report, pitched some web videos and acted in one, have done some web comedy, was on Letterman, made a short film, that kind of stuff.”

I then followed that up with: “All of this might sound like I’m a pretty good sketch writer, which unfortunately is not the case.”

In fact, I’m a terrible sketch writer, much worse at it than I am even at improv, which I once also felt terrible at.

In my Writing for SNL class, people have started to come around to me, but in my arguably more important Sketch Level 2 class at The Magnet, where some of our sketches will end up in a show, I’ve written something new every week and brought it in, only for it to die.

In some ways, I’m grateful for this. I understand the necessity of learning a craft and, particularly, learning from failures, as early successes can bolster you towards levels of confidence unearned.

It also afforded me chances to run away from class during breaks, where I found a nice Italian deli for a low-cost Chicken Parm, some consolation.

When I went out this past week, with some co-workers after a long shift, I told a beautiful young lady I work with, still in college, not to be so hard on herself, as she told me of her depression and her art.

“What’s there to feel sorry about?” I asked her. “What you do now might not be what you do later, might not even be what you want. As you change, so do your desires, naturally. And there is no shame in that. So for now, take the gift that’s offered you and experiment and try and work hard, as you can and enjoy yourself. The stakes are low, or only as high as you set them, so live with the passion you have.”

Or at least what I hope I said. I had drunk a couple beers at that point.

Anyway, I was ok with dying in that class every week, though I felt like I let my teacher down, Armando, who said he saw in potential in me: “the funny midi-chlorians”, as he put it.

So I wrote him an email, which I got a reply to last night on my… I don’t want to call it a “not-date”, with Eva.

I had acknowledged that I had much to learn about writing sketches and that it was frustrating, given that I felt more confident about my other forms of writing. I told him I knew I had to learn, but that I was worried about the upcoming show and writing something that was good enough.

“Isn’t there anything I can do,” I asked him. “To learn this faster, to be better at this, in time?”

“Nicholas,” He replied. “There is a time in any learning process where there is a period of frustration. The key is to keep plugging away. Eventually comes the day when you wake up and it comes together. But all you can do is keep at it and have faith. There is no special step, just persistence.”

Not to make a metaphor out of a molehill, but I think you see what I mean.

***

SALUMERIA BIELESE

“Small” Chicken Parm- $6.50

SE Corner of 29th St and 8th Ave. (near The Magnet Theater)

ACE to 34th St- Penn Station. 1 to 28th St.

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2 Responses to Periods of Frustration

  1. Lisa says:

    be very careful, my dear. this is a dangerous, a very dangerous game you are playing with your most precious asset–your heart.

  2. Matt says:

    My friend wrote this re: artists — you should read it because, well, she’s smart and knows what she’s talking about

    http://wishverse.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/thought-like-animagus-except-not/

    Aside from that — well, lets put it this way. I think its a good idea for you to try to be friends with Eva and I support you decision to make that attempt. However, be sure you take care of yourself first. Do only what you can handle.

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