Archive for March 2014

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Martini GlassI work as a bartender now. Because that’s what being an actor in New York means. And like any new job,  it has taught me a few things. Surprisingly though, not about alcohol (I already have a little too much firsthand knowlege.) This job has actually taught me a lot about play writing.

I like this job for a lot of reasons; free food, good pay, flexible schedule. But, number one on the list, is the people watching. It’s really like a non-stop character study. It is truly fascinating to watch people on first dates, next to someone meeting up with a long time business partner. A museum clerk, a lawyer, a grad student, they all come in, and get a little bit drunk; on a Tuesday.

These interactions are how plays are born. I mean, it is like the live taping of a TV show. Each night I work, I get to see all the regular characters and plenty of guest stars. Each night I meet a new face with a different story than the last one, and the old stories continue. Some are millionaires, some are slobs like me.

Each night, my bar is littered with characters to write about.

Some people literally grab my arm, and tell me about their day. Other people talk to each other, and I get to listen in. Either way, it is entertaining and enlightening. And each shift adds a page to my latest play.

People ask if I get to drink for free. And yes, I do. But, most nights I just sit and watch other people drink. And with each beer I pour, I get a little closer to finishing that play.


Too Big to Fail

Sun Cloud

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to change the world. Not because I think the world is inherently bad (that’s a whole other topic), but because I see massive potential for the human race to become a better version of itself.

As a child, I dreamed of a schoolyard where everyone could have fun without bullies and bad weather. As an adult, I dream of a society where people choose jobs based on their strengths and passions rather than pay and convenience.  Unfortunately, the more time I spend in the post-college world, the more I realize that society does not cater to idealism. Many people don’t, and probably never will, enjoy going to work. Surprising, right?

And yet I still hope for a life of joy, hard work, and humility.

This hope, as nice as it seems, becomes more of a burden every day. Yes, you heard me right, it’s tough being a Pollyanna. I’ve had close friends become upset when I tell them that they are capable of more. What I perceive as deep respect and hopefulness, they perceive as judgement and a lack of acceptance.

This miscommunication has occurred enough times that I find myself hiding my idealism. Instead of talking about my dreams, I focus on my frustrations. I have become an idealist hiding among cynics. Honestly, It’s exhausting.

But after Austin’s Pollyanna post. I’m starting to rethink my decision to hide my dreams and idealism. Being a dreamer isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s a valid thought process that requires a large amount of discipline and discernment. To succeed as a dreamer, you have to love people so much that you refuse to give up on them. You have to be willing to sacrifice convenience to chase after the lost and broken.

So I will continue to dream, because dreaming is valid. Because when people get pushed down, they need a voice to tell them that everything will be okay. I intend to be that voice, and I hope you’ll join me.

Own It, Use It

PlayingCardWebIt hasn’t been a very good week for us here at GiTH. Dan is fighting against what may technically be called a slumlord. Clark is seeing the reality of a field that may not be all it’s cracked up to be. And this week I got the feedback that I still may not be where I need to be to succeed as a counselor.

Funny how crappy things come in threes.

But even here, at the darkest moments of 2014 (so far), its important to take stock of what we have, and what we can do going forward. I can’t speak for Dan or Clark, but I can say a whole bunch of cliches. Nothing worth having is easy. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be the change you want to see in the world. Nothing is constant but death and taxes (and student loans).

Getting the picture?

I am beginning to face the full brunt of responsibilities I will have as a counselor. It’s scary, and I will have to face that fear to grow. But there’s something universal in that, I think. Everyone faces make-or-break moments in their lives. Problem is, in my work, I’ve seen it go both ways. I’ve seen people rise to challenges I couldn’t imagine. I’ve seen what happens to a person when they don’t. And the reality is, these make-or-break moments do break people. So now I have to go without a proverbial safety net, and trust in myself to not fall.

It’s a situation I’ve seen before, only now I’m on the other side of it. A bitter pill, and probably one I need to take to be competent.

So now I (and the other two at GiTH) have to rise to the challenge. I don’t know how yet, but I do know why. Because growing and overcoming challenges is what humans do. I think I’m looking forward to surprising myself as I puzzle this one out.

Stay tuned, you just might learn something.

Life Lessons in Woodside, Queens

Sunset Web

This is the part where the kid from Montana learns that he is in “The Big City” now, and things aren’t like back home. That, and that sometimes people yell about legal action and threaten to deport other people over a few boxes and unanswered text messages.

Here’s what happened.

My roommate and I have been in our apartment for a month now. It is a cute place, all utilities included, in Sunnyside Queens (a safe area with lots of restaurants and bars.) We are subletting this place from a young woman on a month to month basis.

The location is great, the price is ok, and today the locks were changed on me while I was out.

My roommate and I had recently asked our lease holder, if she would be able to move the rest of her belongings out of the apartment. In the month that we had been there, she still had a desk buried under boxes and books, and closets full of shoes and coats. And no body wants to live in a storage unit.

So, we asked if she could move it. Or, if she could not, if she would knock our rent down a little, since we do not have full use of the space. And she reacted like anyone would. She stopped text messaging us, and paid the building management to come over and change the locks.

The scene I came home too was a mix of icy stares and silence, followed by threats of legal action if changes were not made and promises that my roommate would have the lease holder deported if she did not conform to his demands.

So, my roommate is moving out, and I am staying. The belongings that are in my way are being moved, and the rent will remain at the agreed upon rate. And I have learned one very valuable lesson.

People are ridiculous.

If our lease holder had just been willing to talk, face to face, and address our issues, an understanding could have been reached. But, why do that? Why not cut off conversation completely and then just show up and change the locks? Why try to talk things out like adults, when you can make threats?

This week long power struggle has been exhausting. And my head still aches just writing this. But, if I were to put the trade mark “Gold in them Hills” optimism on this post, it would be this.

At least I’m only here until May.