12.31.2007

Advice From a Homicidal Maniac...

I’m feeling Lost.

That’s really the only word I can think of for this feeling. I know where I am, I know what I want to do and where I want to be, and continually taking little steps to get there. (I’d take larger steps… but its hard to do that with your pants around your ankles. Metaphorically speaking, of course.)

Yet, despite this self-awareness of my situation, I’m feeling Lost.

It’s no secret that the last 2 years have been tough for me. (If I’m trying to keep it secret, I’m doing a bad job.) After my last lousy year in Los Angeles, I came back East… and the past year hasn’t been that much better.

For one… I’m living with my parents. Oh dear Jeebus, I’m a stereotype… a 32-year old man living in my parents’ basement. *shudder* At least I have friends that are kind to point out that I was living on my own for 10 years. (Yeah, I made it to the double-digits. Before either of my older brothers, too. A fact I was kind of proud of.) And before I left, some friends I knew who were from Europe said it was “No big deal. In Europe, everyone lives with their parents until their 30s or even 40s… usually only moving out when you’re married, but not always.” (Oh man, the thought of living with them even when I’m married? Uh… no thank you. Either way, it didn’t really make me feel better.)

Yet, I knew that was going to be the case when I decided to move back. And I accepted it as a “necessary sacrifice” for my Plan. Yes, I had a plan. I refused to swallow my pride and come back without one. Because I was in L.A. for a reason… I’m a storyteller. And I want to tell stories. I’m a writer and an actor, and I don’t feel productive unless I’m creating or presenting. But throughout my time there… I never got noticed. I did several plays, got great reviews from all, compliments up the wazoo… but ultimately nothing. Even the last film project I did there (I even had the title character) has, to my knowledge, NOT seen the light of day… and I actually hope it doesn’t. Not that it was completely dissuading me. Hell, I knew it was going to be a long, tough battle, and I was feeling resilient. That is, until the OTHER reasons I left L.A. came to the forefront… well, it just kind of became the “Anvil-That-Broke-The-Camel’s-Back”. I just came to the conclusion that I needed a “break”.

So, I decided to return to my roots… back near all my family… and make my own stinkin movie.

Yeah, I decided to thumb my nose at the System. (Not that the System would get the insult… face it, the actual “thumbing your nose” cut-down kind of went out of style in Shakespeare’s time. Nowadays, if you try it, people think you’re just picking your nose in public.) I was feeling a bit inspired by Robert Rodriguez (based in Texas), George Romero (based in Pennsylvania), and others that don’t need Hollywood to make their movies. I was particularly inspired by the movie “28 Days Later”… a high-octane zombie movie, made with a Mini-DV camera that cost peanuts (relatively speaking)… and a festival winning Time-Travel movie called “Primer”… made for $7,000. Yeah, for the price of a used car… a guy made a movie… and a GOOD one. Its things like that which really inspire you and make you realize, “Hey… this CAN be done.”

I figured, the best way to show that my writing CAN work (as Hollywood is very effective at keeping out new writers), is to actually SHOW it working on film. And the best option to be able to make it… lay back on the East Coast. With the high cost of living, California was not exactly conducive to saving money. Not to mention that many of the story ideas I was having (mostly for scary movies) were all set in geographic areas “like New England”. Face it, there’s a good reason that Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft set most, if not all, of their stories there. So rather than try to find a half-assed location in So-Cal… it would look better to actually BE and FILM in New England.

So, even though I never set out to be a director… I decided to do it. That was my plan. Well, it was the goal of it, I should say. The actual plan was a bit of a loose one. I was going to get a decent paying job (I was told the market back here was much better, with higher pay)… save up money. Get down the debts, and save for the money and film, while writing a script that is good, and can be done within the resources of myself and friends. And by the time I got to one year after returning I had hoped we could be filming. Well… actually, I was shooting for the Spring of 08… I’m not filming in the freaking cold.

For a good while… it was working. When I finally found something decent paying (through a temp agency), I was socking away a good amount of money. Every week, I put away a portion of my paycheck aside… and that started to build fairly quickly. By early July, I had gotten to just over half of what I needed. My mental time-table was working out nicely… that’s where I hoped to be at that time.

THEN… my car wouldn’t start one day. I took it in to be looked at. Never a good sign, right? Well, in this case, they only needed to replace ONE thing to fix it.

The Engine.

Replacing the engine (a more affordable option than getting a new car outright) took almost EXACTLY the amount of money I had saved up to that point for my camera. I guess I could be thankful that I *had* the money handy to be able to get my car back… because I needed one to get to work… But I couldn’t help feeling a little depressed all the same.

So I went back to square one. Undaunted, I continued. DETERMINED to film come Spring. Every week, putting aside some money (a little more than before to try and catch up)… until I got back to over the half-way point in October. And THEN… the place I was working at (a company in Burlington, Massachusetts that makes medical equipment) has to get rid of all their “contract employees” at the end of the month. Of which, *I* was the last one. I liked working there, everyone was really nice, and they seemed to like me… but the higher ups wanted to pinch pennies at the end of the year. So, I had to go. I was back on the market. No problem, right? Just tell the Temp Agency, and with my record and rave reviews (hell, I made “Temp Employee of the Month” on my FIRST month with them…. I got a mug), something should come soon, right? Well, it did take a few weeks… with the holidays coming, the demand for Temp Employment went down. The only thing I got was a 2 ½ week gig at a Marketing Research company at a neighboring town. (Well, at least the commute was shorter)

2 of us were brought in. One of the clients of this company was having a big trade show and they needed the potential customers (or “leads”) entered into the big fancy database. I was selected for it because I had experience with their big fancy database… the same kind of big fancy database that I worked with in Burlington. This would just be time-consuming, non-difficult work… I didn’t see a problem. So, they were happy to have me there. The other guy seemed intelligent enough… a decent sort of fellow. We were told the whole job would take about 2 ½ weeks with 2 of us working.

When I went in on the third day… I noticed the other guy wasn’t there. I casually enquired as to where he was and was simply told he “wasn’t going to be coming back.” I didn’t push for answers, figured it wasn’t my place. Well… wasn’t my place to get answers from THAT person. I called the agency at lunch… now I didn’t know if the guy just said, “I quit this bitch” or he made a pass at the Boss’s husband or what. Frankly, I didn’t even care, but I was wondering if that meant I was going to have to do this 2 ½ week job by MYSELF, or if someone else was going to come and take his place, or what? Apparently, the Marketing company told the Temp Agency they didn’t want him back… they were just going to go with me. Apparently, they were VERY happy with how I was doing, and the other guy didn’t seem to “get it”. So… I was indeed going to have this 2-man-2 ½-week-job to myself. I figured, “Oh well… I can only do the job at the pace I can. If they get behind, its not my fault.”

Well, they didn’t get behind. In fact… that second Friday, on day 10 of this 14-business-day assignment… I only went in for 2 hours to finish everything up, and then was sent home. I finished a 2-man-2 ½-week-job… by myself, 4 days ahead of schedule. I saved them about $1300 in labor alone (the other guy’s salary, plus the days I was supposed to work, but didn’t need to) and *literally* worked myself out of a job.

Holy Cripes on Toast… why the hell do I have to be so fast and efficient??? I never thought I’d hate having a good work ethic and a high level of competence.

So that brings me to now. The next interview for an assignment is after the New Year, so the holidays are off for me, unintentionally. My savings for the camera was OVER the half-way mark… but then I sprung for a new suit, as I desperately needed one. (Hopefully, it’ll be a good investment to help get a better, more permanent position.) So, now I’m not OVER the half-way… I’m AT the half-way point.

Why do I feel Lost? Partly because I seem to perpetually be at the “half-way” point… and can’t seem to get closer than that. I’ve been “home” for almost a year now… and it doesn’t feel like “home”. This is a town I had at one time promised myself I’d never come back to… not a lot of happy memories for me. I never knew who I was until I left. Yet, here I am.

I often wonder if I made a mistake leaving California. Oftentimes, I hear about things, that feel like reasons I should have stayed there. The idea that “I’m where I’m supposed to be” doesn’t help.

Not to mention the fact that (he says while turning a can-opener on another container marked “Worms”) I have been feeling INCREDIBLY lonely.

When my last Ex and I first started dating, we had a conversation in which I mentioned the fact that I “took a long time between relationships”. It wasn’t a line… and I wasn’t lying. On average, I took about a year or so between a break-up, and starting a new relationship. Its now been over 2 years.

Now, my longest dry spell for sex is about 3 years and 3 months. So that part isn’t such a big deal for me… but its definitely the longest I’ve gone without companionship. During those 3 years 3 months, I did have romantic relationships… and during shorter dry spells, I did date… just nothing came about.

This has been 2 years without really ANYTHING. And I’ve been looking. When I finally got comfortable with the idea of dating again (a little longer than a year), I started slowly looking… and haven’t found anything. I don’t mean that I’ve had interests and they didn’t want to date ME… I haven’t met ANYBODY that *I* want to date. I meet some women… fine, decent people… and I just really don’t give a shit. And by “met”, I mean actually, physically MEET in person. I have tried going the route of the Internet, and I have now sworn it off completely. No more not for me. See the blog entry “I’m tired of this shite” for one such example. There was another after that… someone I was getting along with very nicely online and on the phone… and I wanted to meet, she said SHE wanted to meet. Guess what? We’ve never met. Make sense to you? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The few people I *did* physically meet from online introductions? Didn’t exactly work out. The two that readily come to mind were both a little on the… overbearing side. Very upbeat, high energy, mile-a-minute kind of demeanors, etc. As I was waiting in a Barnes & Noble café to meet one, she called me on her cell phone, as she was a matter of minutes away, and as soon as I say, “Hello?” I hear in a very peppy tone, “ARE YOU NERVOUS?!!”

Well, I wasn’t “nervous”, but I was suddenly wondering if I *should* be… and then I actually WAS nervous. That probably wasn’t the best choice of words to use with me at that time… it was a little on the steamrollerish side. Now there’s nothing wrong with upbeat, high-energy… the girl was very lovely, and seemed nice. Maybe it was that first beat that just jarred me off the mood… but since I’ve been out of it for awhile… I don’t want to be steamrolled with a “fantastic, high-energy, extreme Type A personality”… I want the first meeting to be a little on the mellow side. Relaxed, non-pressure… because I’m not wanting to give any pressure, and I’m not looking FOR any pressure. Show me your Type-A personality LATER. For now… take a breath, please.

I do understand that talking about a “dry spell” can start to sound like one is a bit on the desperate side. Hell, I’ve even stopped myself and tried to contemplate if I was in fact being “desperate”. But I think that if I was desperate… I would have probably gone for one of the SteamRollerGirls, or still be in a Binary Courtship with one of the “Never Actually Meet” ones.

I think I *am* desperate… for good conversation. Doesn’t have to be witty, or super-intelligent… you don’t have to be a worldly, well-traveled, go-getter. Just be someone I can talk to. Someone who can be genuine over a cup of hot cocoa… who smiles only when she’s happy. Who knows how to listen… I mean REALLY Listen… and knows how to be listened to.

These days, I don’t get to talk to my friends as much as I like… the ones that are good to talk to, especially. And I actually miss going to therapy… it was so nice to have someone that just listened to you, without giving judgment, advice, or just waiting for a pause so they could talk.

I’m desperate for someone to trust. Because I’ve been having such a hard time doing so for so long.

When I was growing up here in New England, I had so much difficulty finding someone to date.

Then I moved to California… and it got HARDER. Almost a whole new culture to get used to. Then Southern California got even harder than that.

Now I’m back in New England… and it feels harder than ever. Is it my age, my personality, or just too used to Los Angeles? I can’t meet people the “regular way”. I can’t go to bars… I don’t drink. And yes, I’ve tried going to a bar and not drinking. It doesn’t work. The alcohol is actually the noun and verb that brings people together. It makes them vulnerable (in a sense). When I’m vulnerable, I don’t like interacting with people that AREN’T vulnerable themselves. I feel like they have an unfair advantage. I can only imagine that’s a subconscious reason why I’m usually left to my own there.

I’m alone… my destination seems so far off… and I keep hitting delays, detours and speed bumps. Any wonder I feel “Lost”?

Oh yeah… the title. Probably should make some kind of sense of that, huh?

Well… I’m trying to remain hopeful. I force myself to smile and constantly look forward to the future and TRY to remain upbeat about it, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how much disapproval I get from those that disagree with my plan… all of that. Though sometimes it feels that I’m barely hanging on, I have to keep doing it. And to help I try and keep some “inspirational” bits of philosophy around me that are always within sight.

And my inspiration sometimes comes from odd places. Because us true philosophers… True “Lovers of Wisdom” know that you don’t always have to look at Kant, Kierkegaard, Plato, Nietzsche, or whoever to get the best words of wisdom… you take them wherever you find them.

And one of my favorites comes from Jhonen Vasquez, a writer and comic artist who created “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac”… a very bloody, satirical comic book.

A lot of people have told me their own favorite parts of the book… such as “Dear Die-ary, I appear to be dead.” Or other such macabre gag. But my favorite comes at the very end. On the last page… in fact, it’s the last thing written, and frankly, the whole point of the story that Vasquez wrote. And its something I agree with completely… and will leave this blog entry on that. It’s not funny, it’s not bloody or disgusting… its just correct. It helps keep me going, and actually hopeful for the New Year, and that I can make 2008 better than 2007 and 2006.

Here it is.

“Dear Die-ary,
There’s nothing terribly wrong with feeling Lost, so long as that feeling precedes some plan on your part to actually do something about it.
Too often a person grows complacent with their disillusionment, perpetually wearing their “discomfort” like a favorite shirt.
I can’t say I’m very pleased with where my life is just now…
But I can’t help but look forward to where it’s going.”
-Jhonen Vasquez
“Johhny the Homicidal Maniac”

Happy New Year. Take care of yourself, and someone else.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

BEHOLD...a comment!!

I hope this little note finds you well, and I hope you are feeling much better.
I'm sure 2008 will be a great year for you! Chin up!

Hayley

fritz said...

As far as financial speed bumps and detours, that sounds perfectly normal. We had lots of those. After we finally got our debts paid down, the car was dying. After we resolved that situation, family needed cash for medical emergencies. After that, we moved. Rinse, repeat. Very, very, very frustrating. And that was with 2 incomes! It doesn't mean you're not going to get where you want to be; it's just not going to be the shortest, quickest journey.

And the whole loneliness thing? Yes, culture shock/adjustment plays into it, but I think most of it goes back to a later post of yours where you wrote about being different. Different isn't bad. It's just different--which makes it not normal/average, which means that, yeah, most of the females you meet aren't going to be right for you. But it is so fabulous that you're still willing to meet people, to see if they're right for you (b/c if you weren't at least willing, then it'd be damn near impossible).

I don't know if this'll make you feel better or worse: my uncle (actually my grandfather's brother) lived with his mother until she died. He cared for her during a long illness. When she passed, he got the house. So he's lived there his entire life (minus the stint in WWII). He never married until he was 62 (several years after his mother died). He married the "girl" next door (who was also living at home, caring for her mother; they didn't get married until her mother passed, though).

From that perspective, you're not doing so bad! Also, consider the geography--there aren't a lot of housing options where you are (especially compared to LA). Plus, it's temporary. It's finite. It will come to an end within the near future. It's not a death sentence...you're not stuck in an episode of the Twilight Zone, where you _can't_ leave your parents' house.

fritz said...

And about the drinking thing...I don't drink either. Bottom line--I don't like the taste. There are only 2-3 drinks out there that I like, but I'll go a year or two sometimes without imbibing at all...another one of those control freak things, I suppose. And during those years when I do drink, it's like maybe 2-3 drinks a year. Just not my thing.

I have been tipsy once or twice, and it's funny when you're in safe company and everyone's having a fun time (say, a foursome at a restaurant, or you and your SO at home), but the thought of getting smashed (aside from the inherent loss of self-control and the potential for yucky physical side effects) in public totally icks me out. I don't like to put myself on display at any time, but to do so while not sober just seems to be the epitome of stupidity.