I wandered around town on Wednesday looking like a million bucks, or at least that’s what I thought before my dad told me my blazer wasn’t a blazer but a suit coat, which I had borrowed from my friend Frank and failed to return on the occasion of his sister’s wedding some several years previous.
If it means anything, when I got my get-up on, my quasi-roommate john Beamer told me: “You look like you’re ready for spring.”
Which I felt like taking as a compliment.
After all, I don’t think I look like that normally.
In the week since I quit my job, I’ve gone stir-crazy almost once, for about 5 hours (12-5) in which I felt imprisoned in my house with nowhere to go, nowhere to see, bored by semi-completed video games, movies and television options, paralyzed by choices and the lack of accomplishment associated with any of them.
As noted when asked for film or food recommendations, online or in-person on the street (as has been happening more frequently as of late), I do poorly with general inquiries like “your favorite movie/place to eat” and better with questions like “Where’s good for down-midscale Indian in this general neighborhood?” or “What’s out this week that seems half-way-decent?”
When not presented by these questions, to give readers a viewing into my mind, I am not so much flooded by a barrage of choices, but left staring a blank, as if my mind were an enormous sorted file-cabinet system and without a prompt I would have no idea where to start, just gazing at closed cabinets for hours.
As mentioned, the same goes for my life, job-less, where I have been subject to the sort of paralysis documented here on this blog, the sense of knowing ideas and ways to rouse one’s self, but lacking the capacity for it, or the prompt. This could be the difference between “self-starters” and “hack writers”, or just the sum of experience/training of knowing what to do with yourself.
Or just the manifestation of my own neuroses.
Any of these ways, it’s why I fear unemployment for the lack of structure and for the sense that who knows what I’ll do in my life.
What I have done is this: I’ve gone on food writing expeditions (the reason for the suit), I’ve had a meeting with my agents (whose will, like God’s, seems inscrutable), I’ve emailed a Sports Illustrated model who seems interested in at least meeting with me (One of my agents: “Well, she’s really hot, so you could spend a worse 30 minutes of your life.”) and I’ve tried to improve my writing packet, asking people for advice like crazy and meeting up with folks for the usual drinks/dinner.
It’s gotten me out of the house, for a while, but I guess I still live in perpetual fear of the moment that opportunity will dry up, that this obviously fleeting reality-fame will recede leaving me a joke or worse, an after-thought, condemned from any meaningful work in the future, forced to relive a mostly-forgotten image of having a pretty decent number of twitter followers and a couple moments on TV that made people wonder about my mental capacities.
Basically, I used to be able to tell people I was a movie theater employee, which for all of it’s mundaneness, carried with it an identity, a service performed along with recognition. It was a narrative I could fit myself in, someone struggling scooping popcorn, but maybe writing and pursuing their dreams on the side.
Now I am a former movie-theater employee, buoyed by my last paycheck and some help from my parents, answering a manically gleeful “I don’t know” upon people asking me what I’ll do next in my life.
There’s the PBS job that may or may not materialize, a couple writing gigs that occasionally email me and the sense that maybe something might come of being funny one day.
But for now I’m stuck in the present, a place of uncertainty and attempted self-improvement.
Which is not to say I’m not having fun, feeling the flush and freedom of initial joblessness, just as I felt the sense of responsibility and pride (however small) when I started my movie theater job coming out of unemployment.
There’s a sense that with both that freedom and structure, they’re equal parts of your life, both enjoyable. As the great Jon Bander told me, who I still have this friend-mentor (frien-tor?) crush on, most people in their lives have Clark Kent and Superman parts of their days, the part where they work and do the job of an ordinary man, and the part where they live their aspirations and fly. If you’re too much Clark Kent, you feel crushed and if you’re too much Superman, you lose touch with your humanity.
My agents were impressed by this analogy as were the people I’ve told.
For now though, it’s amusing to be a spring-suited Superman.
Let’s hope I don’t go terrorizing innocents, anytime soon.
I don’t know why Teddy wears a sweat-shirt with my sister’s name on it (Cec). He couldn’t have possibly known that it’s her name (I’ve never mentioned it) and I don’t know too many things with those initials.
He said something about cooking, but I forgot it quick.
Anyway, I love my practice group.
If you look up in that picture you can see some blog-stars and friends:
The aforementioned Teddy, who I found in my Sketch level 1 class bizarrely repping Central Jersey and coming up with the strange racist names that the Jersey Shore-rs come up for black people.
Jon Bander peering out from the back, coaching our group and giving notes while I played with my phone.
Quasi-roommate John Beamer grabbing his cheek in dismay while wondering how he’d make it through the next improv scene.
And Joe Cozzo, mugging for the camera, a stand-up from my 301 class, whose first time coming was that week.
I never was sure that the writing group I ran meant anything until this past week when I was forced to put together a packet of comedy stuff (which still might be terrible) and realized that all of the b.s. drinky-times I’d had with friends at Sophie’s discussing how Russian roulette would work with Zombies in a post-apocalyptic dystopia (Alex Hilhorst, Mark Zhuravsky). The point is, every time you go in and bring something, or talk, or be a part of that filmmaking/writing world, you’re learning something, getting imperceptibly better.
But you’re also having fun.
Which is the great thing about improv practice groups, when you know, enjoy them.
You get to have fun with the funnest people you’ve met, mashup your friends together and see them play doing cool scenes, the sort of vibe you get at a party just without the awkward attempts at hookups (uh, sorta) or the weird hangover the day after.
We did crazy scenes including secret agents, shadow-economy labor-disputes and me playing a guy with two girlfriends who both want to cast him in things, with only an anatomical explanation to blame (pulled that one out).
Afterward, we walked down 8th avenue like a posse of Park Slope middle schoolers, miming 40s and enjoying the weather.
We talked comedy, talked shop. talked whatever we could.
We had fun, I guess, is what I’m saying.
And for the moment, the inter-dependent mess that I am, found satisfaction in that feeling that I most desire: that all the people I’m chilling with are most def. cooler than me, but they don’t seem to know it, just yet.
Yes, it’s the return of the d-bag Andrew Parrish and his hot girlfriend, Kelly Hires (or “Kallie Tires”, according to my Google Voice email transcription).
Kelly (whose last name only got me 14 points as a first move in Scrabble) had been pimping out free invites to me to Playwrights Horizons shows (where she’s a Literary Resident, whatever that means) and Andrew had drafted me to accompany him to one of these shows.
Douchebag, am I right?
Anyway, the play was a mess (the discussion of which after Kelly, amazingly, stood through my ranting of/about) and even the initial dinner choice proved somewhat disastrous as Shake Shack (who goes to midtown Shake Shack????) had a grease-fire and so was able to produce for me neither french fries nor Shroom Burgers, the two items I had planned on.
As consolation, Kelly took me to her Midtown West spot, the newly opened Peter’s on 9th Ave. Her claims of it being better than my nearby favorite Good N’ Plenty to Go were not substantiated, but well… look:
While I was the only one who got the meat off the rotisserie (a BBQ Chicken Sandwich) which is their specialty (the place resembles an upscale/less-sad Boston Market), the sides were huge and enjoyed by all.
Macaroni and Cheese (made with a different pasta daily, according to Kelly), were huge Ziti, dripping with caked-top cheesy-goodness and the authentic chewiness that comes from shunning pre-made sauces or dips in favor of real non-processed milk-products. The creamed spinach was real spinach, not glop from a can, which tasted a bit seared, cutting nicely the sweetness of the cream, though I have to admit, I usually prefer unadulterated vegetables.
As for the Sandwich itself: Huge and moist, thought perhaps it coud have been a bit spicier. The pickle that it came with was well-appreciated though and the price (under 5 dollars!) was nigh unbelievable.
As we sat there together in the shadow of 42nd St, I felt like the family-style meal made us a family for a bit, until Andrew Parrish started talking about tutoring kids and getting a raise.
“Taking children and their parents for all they’re worth. Despicable.” I mumbled through mac and cheese.
“Were those some passive-aggressive cheese-comments I heard Nick, I wasn’t sure?” Andrew asked.
“No, those are just my eating noises.” I replied. “In morse code they spell out: Fuck you.”
BBQ Chicken Sandwich- $4.92 (Sides additional)
9th Ave bet. 42nd and 43rd Sts.
ACE7S to 42nd St- Port Authority