The Cheese Shoppe

Anxiousness

So I’ve found myself to be very distracted and on some underlying level frustrated lately. I would say “unhappy” but I don’t feel comfortable with that word as it seems to convey to grave a nature to my state of being. I’m not depressed or anything like that, but there is a bit of grumpiness at life in general. I just can’t seem to shake it. I was thinking about it today trying to figure out how I could remedy this situation, and was quite displeased to realize that I can’t. The frustration will only be alleviated by actually having some degree of success in my chosen vocational areas. Now some would say that I do have some degree of success, and this is true, but my stress and frustration will only be alleviated when I am making something resembling a living doing the things I love. This worries me because it is not directly under my control, and everything I’m trying to do is just this side of fool’s folly. I mentioned today that to stay sane as an actor (and it applies to music, and crew work too) you almost have to be daftly, and blindly egocentric to a point. You have to believe that there is something so special about you that you will succeed where scores of others fail. This is a hard facade to keep up, but it is absolutely vital. I believe that if you think “Ahhh, I’m not any better than the teeming masses of other people trying for the same dream” then you’ve already failed from the start. It’s like actually convincing yourself each week that you’re going to win the lottery.
The problem with having gigantic, vivid, and vibrant dreams is that it can make reality very painful. I’ve found that making a career out of film crew work is only the tiniest bit more likely than making a living as an actor. Here’s hoping I can sell my screenplay for loads of money and make a deal to direct and star in it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been closer to being really happy and on my path, but I’ve also never been more frustrated and felt so close and yet so far. Part of me has wondered if Austin is really any better a place than anywhere else, or if you really have to be in L.A. to even stand a chance of any kind of entertainment career, be it in front of or behind the camera.
The other day I was an extra on “The Ringer”. There I was, sitting on the set all day long next to Johnny Knoxville, Bobby Farrelly, and Luis Avalos, who among many movie roles was also “Luis” in the long running children’s show, “The Electric Company”. I sat there, ecstatic to be on set (and one of only three extras), and yet feeling a bit down at watching this world I want so desperately to be a part of in much more involved capacity. I feel so many walls keeping me from where I want to go, and I don’t know how to bypass them. They never even ended up using us extras either, but at least I got paid to hang out on the set all day. We even had a trailer. Argh! I want it all, and I want it now!

Roadblock to Destiny

The title just seemed appropriate to my current life mood. I’ve mentioned this feeling before, but it’s never been stronger than now. The feeling that I know my destination in life, but yet I seem to find my way there. I took the wrong exit, and there is no maps.yahoo.com equivalent.
I’m not even talking about my ultimate goals of fame and stardom as an actor and musician, I’m just talking about my more feasible goals, although admittedly even my “feasible” goals are still pretty outlandish. I can’t even begin to remotely express my thoughts so I’ll ramble as best I can. For example:
Working as a Production Assistant on Film/TV projects. There is a decent amount of work in Texas in this field (although less since so many productions are going to Canada now), and yet it seems as out of reach as anything. One thing I’ve learned more and more in every aspect of life, is that it’s much more who you know, and not what you know. I submit my (albeit tiny) resume for every project that comes up, and I get nothing. I’ve even called camera rental businesses, props places, and any other production related businesses here just to try and find a job that’s at least involved in the industry, but none are hiring of course, and many are actually just basically kind of one or two person operations. There’s even an actual studio complex in Austin. Hard to break into the biz as it were. You basically start out doing anything and everything you can, a lot of it for free just to get experience and contacts. My uncle is a professional Director Of Photography and has been for over 20 years, and even he has found work to be lean lately, but I admire him so much because he is doing it for a good living. He has worked and raised a family strictly doing freelance cameraman/DP work. However, as previously mentioned, he paid his dues early on. He didn’t’ just jump into immediately working full time in the film industry. Now he has lots of contacts from all his years of work, and that gets him more work. The few production assistant jobs I have done have been as a result of his recommendation. Of course if I get a “real” job, that pretty much makes pursuing these types of things impossible.
There’s also a decent gaming industry in Austin. As far as “real” jobs go, I could dig working in the gaming industry. Of course, this also follows a similar pattern to the one above. Knowing the right people. I’ve actually seen 2 jobs which I’ve applied for. One as “Assistant Community Manager” for Star Wars Galaxies, and one for an “in-game support” position with another game. Chances of getting either are only slightly more than my chances of winning the lottery, and these are entry level positions.

Almost all accounts I’ve read about people getting jobs in the industry were things like “back when I was flipping burgers I played D&D with this guy who wrote a Zork parody, and this guy who worked for a game company hired him. Later after working for several game companies in progressively better jobs, they needed someone and he called me”.
Then there’s the music thing. Now being a musician in Austin is basically like being an actor in L.A. It’s a great place for music, but it’s also super saturated with musicians. Again, it’s a long term hang around the scene, get to know people, make contacts, and get your name out. Not something you’re going to accomplish overnight.
Now while I may sound all frustrated doom and gloom, there is an upside too. Since I’ve been here I’ve been on several auditions, sent out tons of acting and film crew resumes, and I’m going back in the studio tomorrow for another session of work on our new CD. Basically the only real chance I have is if Jess can get a good job, and thus allow me to be a slacker (financially) until I can get established. I really don’t think anything I want to do is possible when working a full time office job that’s in no way related to what you want to be doing. Especially for the acting/crew work, since you need to be available for the jobs, and if it’s a paying job it’s most likely not just an “after business hours” job. If it weren’t for the need for money, I wouldn’t even really mind my state of affairs. I don’t mind the auditions, and the working your way to where you want to be. It’s all the need for money to pay bills that creates the tension. Oh, how I do NOT look forward to getting another “job” I don’t really care about except for the paycheck.
My mind is quite a jumble and expressing this all coherently is becoming more and more difficult as I try to put it into words. Basically, life is good, Austin is good, and the world is my burrito, but it’s just a frustrating time. It’s like I can see exactly where I should be. In fact I can see several options of where I should be, but I’m trapped in one of those crazy entrapment mirrors, like General Zod in Superman. I can see everyone else there, and there’s a me-shaped space of emptiness. I’m a nuclear bomb of potential, undiscovered in a sealed box buried next to Jimmy Hoffa, underneath the secret bungalow where Elvis lives with Amelia Earheart.
Grr. Argh. Jane, get me off this crazy thing.
Hmm, someday, maybe I’ll finish my damn screenplay. It’s really going to be good, if it’s not killed by laziness. Right, well it’s always good to end on a random trail off long after you’ve lost all momentum and readers…

Wanted: One Life

Have you ever felt like maybe your life is out there, but you’re just not living it? This is my best attempt and a describing how I sometimes feel. I’ll try and explain, but it’s one of those things that’s at least semi-intangible so it’s difficult.
Todays particular episode came from scouring the Styx website, and the website of Styx drummer, Todd Sucherman. As I looked at all the pictures from the road, videos, notes from the band, and such, I just felt this longing. Like I was seeing something that I was supposed to be a part of, but wasn’t. It was as if I was seeing the life I should be living or something similar to it. It was sort of like looking out from a prison cell and seeing people having fun and laughing, and knowing you should be out there with your friends doing the same. A bit of a strong and melodramatic example, but it seemed to fit. I even toyed with the idea of becoming a roadie, but realistically knew that like any other industry, you have to work your way up and pay your dues before you get big gigs like that. Besides, I also knew I’d be compromising myself, since that’s not really what I want to be doing with my life.
This same thing happened recently when scouring the “Weird Al” site. In fact, I wrote Al a letter praising his new album and offering myself as a backup guitar player, personal assistant or anything else he might need. I figured, hey, what the hell. It couldn’t hurt. It probably has about the same chance of getting results as a lottery ticket, and I buy those.
This feeling often haunts me. When I watch the Oscars, I feel so strongly that should be there. There are just so many times when I know the life I should be living but aren’t, and I wonder if I ever will. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I have lived that life in the past perhaps, if you believe in that sort of thing. Maybe that’s why it feels so right and so familiar, and yet so impossible and far away.
Sometimes I just want to give up on it all, settle into a “real” job and just drown myself in escapism by watching lots of movies and playing lots of video games. It would sort of be a self-inflicted lobotomy, Stepford Wives kind of thing. Just be a happy, ignorant denizen of The Matrix and forget about it all. I can’t do that, of course, but it’s damn appealing sometimes. I think it’s just all compounded by the stress of the impending move, and good old money woes.
Again, my biggest problem is that I’m a dreamer. A lazy one. And despite this entry’s tone, a pretty stubborn optimist most of the time. Well at least I still have about 46 years to accomplish something, according to The Spark’s Death Test.

Great weekend, craptastic Tuesday.

So after the great weekend, I find out today that UPS left $300 worth of new video cards for our computers laying on our doorstep last night at about 9 pm. This package then apparently disappeared between that time and 11:45 pm when we got home. My neighbors said they saw the package, and then saw that it was gone later. Then in the midst of my frustration over this issue, I notice that apparently at some point during the weekend, my cousin’s cat decided to use the back of my leather jacket as a scratching post. There’s now several small little chunks out of the surface leather. I just want to go to bed now.

I’m lazy, and that sucks.

However, on an up note, I started working on my screenplay again. The one I started in 2000, quickly wrote half of, then got lazy. I have so many dreams and such, but I’m a dreamer at heart, and not someone who does everything they should or could be doing to get where they want to go. I often feel guilty that I’m not recording my songs, or writing on my screenplay. It’s a vicious circle too. Everyday, I think “I should write on my screenplay”, but just don’t feel like it, then I feel guilty, and then I feel even less like doing it. I was thinking about this the other day, and realized that I think acting is the most suited to me. Writing (screenplays or songs or whatever), getting a band together, recording songs, all these things take much more motivation, at least for me. Acting is something that comes naturally to me, and seems more suited to my lazy nature. Sure you have to prepare, have headshots, find and go to auditions and such, but somehow this all seems easy to me. You get handed something written by someone else, and then you just do it. You act. You emote. I’m not saying it actually IS easier than anything else, but for me personally it is. It’s what I think I’m best suited for since it *seems* so easy to me, while the rest feel like effort (though very rewarding effort when I actually do them). I feel like I have so much potential, and yet do nothing with it. I feel age creeping up on me everyday, and wonder if I’ve wasted too much of my life already. I think about all the years I had when I was younger that I could have really been busting my ass for what I want with much more ease than I can now. Yet, I can’t go down that road mentally. The doubt road. I have to believe that I can achieve my dreams. The dreams I’ve had for as long as I can remember. The dreams that make me feel like I have a purpose, and drive the very being of my soul. I can’t believe that it’s too late, or that what I want to do is impossible, or else suddenly everything seems very gray, lifeless, and zombie-like, like the world stops in a color snapshot and all the color slowly drains from it. Sometimes what I want seems so unattainable, and yet I must. I can see my destination, I just have no idea how to reach it. It as if I can see the start (me) and the finish but can’t see anything in between. It sucks to be a dreamer. I’ve always been an “idea” person who needs to work with others who are better at the actual getting stuff done portion. Well, enough rambling for the moment.