Archive for September 2014

New Job!

Today I started work at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch. I kept it under wraps because, well, don’t count on anything until the check clears.

About five things off the Life Stressors Test go into a new job, from taking on new responsibilities, to the pleasant surprise of finding my net worth going up. You know, instead of my usual debt spiral.

Good stress is still stress, and I can feel the initial numbness of shock starting to wear off.

I seem to have a bad habit of putting myself into make or break situations. Going to grad school in a strange land. Taking what people told me was one of the hardest internships in that strange land. And now working with the population that I swore I would never work with? Forgive the humblebrag, but after kicking my own butt for going on two years now, I think I’ve earned it.

This new job is equal parts exciting and terrifying. Before two weeks ago I had never imagined working with any kids, never mind kids in need of a residential treatment facility. The color of my life has changed drastically overnight. I remember what one of my mentors used to say.

“Whatever you don’t want to do, go and do it.”

I was squeamish about the idea of working with kids, in part because of how tough my own childhood was. And once again, my old mentors have a point. If I want to grow, I have to step outside of my comfort zone. In the Austin Logan way of no half-measures, I took that step and turned it into a flying leap. Let’s hope I land on my feet and not my face.

Something’s Coming

I love reunions, reboots, and resurrections. Whenever a canceled TV show, a band getting back together, or a sequel finally getting green lit, always thrills me. And in a little less than a week, one of the greatest duos in history will be getting back together.

No, not Simon and Garfunkel.

Clark and Dan.

That’s right. After a two and a half year break, my former roommate will become my current roommate. CLark is taking a huge step in his life, and coming to New York City to chase his dreams. And when he gets here, he will be setting up shop in our apartment, and not just to “crash.” His name is on the lease.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “Dan, you’re married now! Won’t that be weird for you and Courtney, a newly married couple, to have a roommate? That will put your friendship under pressure as well, and in six months you’ll hate each other! Why would you do that?” Believe me, I know that it seems like a bad idea. But, frankly, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Clark is a great friend, an excellent collaborator, and a damn good roommate. He is responsible, charitable, fun, and does not sweat the small stuff. Living with him was a blast the first go around, and now it will be a even more fun because my wife will be here too! (Right?)

No one in New York wants a roommate. But, no one could live here without one. When Courtney and I started looking at apartments together before our wedding, we could find no good options in a 1 bedroom that we could afford. And at that same time, Clark was beginning to search for a place to live in the city. It all came together rather nicely. So, we got a month of extended honeymoon, and Clark got a furnished apartment when he arrived. Win-win.

I’m thrilled that one of my best friends is going to be living with me again. Even though things have changed drastically, I remain confident that we will have a blast. In fact, we will have so much fun, that Austin will move out here just so he doesn’t feel left out.

Build Up

Great roller coasters use tension and release to thrill their riders. Like a horror movie, they build up suspense 75% of the time, and use the remaining 25%  to make the rider feel disoriented, scared, and out of control. Despite a near-zero risk of being injured, riders are convinced for a split second that they might not survive.

Many people love the thrill of the fall. Me? Not so much. I have a hard enough time stomaching the smaller bumps and twists leading up to the big fall.

Yet, this year, I’ve set myself up to ride a gamut of emotional roller coasters. From leaving Missoula, to being more emotionally vulnerable with friends, to trying to find my way in New York City, I’ve ensured that every second of downtime will be met with proportional feelings of sadness, confusion, and fear.

I got a sample of those feelings today when I received a rejection letter for a job I really wanted from a company I truly admire. While I’ve received plenty of rejection letters over the last couple months, this one stung more than usual. It’s frustrating to build up so much excitement for a potential situation, just to be let down in such a short amount of time. It’s even worse when it’s the 4th time this month. Yet in the back of my mind, I know these are just small bumps – reminders that I’m moving forward.

So with Oct. 1 drawing near, it’s time for me to make a decision. When the bottom drops out and I find myself in NYC with no job, am I going to cling on desperately for control, or will I put my hands in the air and enjoy the ride? Will I freeze up like I did this Spring, or will I apply all the lessons I’ve learned and loosen up?

I think, this time around, my hands will be waving.

- Clark

Being Grateful for the Sunshine

Dan and I have noticed something. There’s only a certain amount of luck in the world, and it can’t go to both Dan and I at the same time. As a result, when one of is doing pretty well, the other is struggling. And as Dan continues to wrestle with his own creative instinct, I find myself having a great week.

In the meantime, let’s hope Dan stays miserable. You know, for my sake.

One of my professors once told me that helpers were made, not born. One of the most important things that helper could do was to cultivate a sense of gratitude. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it certainly wasn’t built by one guy. Likewise, as I reflect on my good mood, it’s important to give credit to the people that helped me get there. In fact, it will be those people, my friends and my family, that will push me even further.

I was talking with Alyssa earlier today, and she was telling me about her new commitment to write more. Apparently November is write a novel month, and she’s participating. She also asked if I would join her. Funny thing is, I honestly haven’t thought about writing fiction for fun for a couple years now, and now I’m seriously considering getting back into it.

That’s exactly what I mean. My friends, like Alyssa, Clark, Dan, and I have cultivated a place where we can both support and push each other. And while now is a time for me to bask in the proverbial sunshine, it is also a time to support Dan.

I’m sure, in the way of the universe, that eventually the roles will switch, back and forth forever until one of us dies. The survivor of course, will live forever.


Under Pressure

Since I got married, I have been incredibly anxious.I wake up feeling anxious and I go to sleep feeling anxious. It’s been driving me mad, and I couldn’t figure why I so worked up all the time. Was it financial pressure? No, for the first time in a long time, money is good. Relationship woes? No, we are really happy and having a great time together.

I keep thinking that something in my life must be wrong.Turns out, something is terribly wrong, but it has nothing to do with my marriage.

I have not been pursuing my passions. Writing and performing are my life’s works and I have not been actively pursuing either of them in ernest this whole year.

I am in New York City, but I am not going to auditions. I have a laptop and mountains of notes, but I have not been writing, save for this blog. My free time was spent on the wedding planning, and the money I have been earning has been going towards survival in a harsh city. But with the wedding behind me and my new life begun, I am still in old patterns of behavior that don’t yield the results I need.

I learned while I was at school, if I am not writing and not performing, I will get depressed. Very depressed. In the past, I have corrected this by self producing a show, landing a paid contract, and starting a blog.

But now that I am married to the love of my life, my inaction has not lead to the depression I was used to. I am so happy most of the time, that there just doesn’t seem to be room for it. But my new friend, panicked anxiety has started to fill that role quite efficiently. And so the time has come again to relight the fire of my passions.

I am pleased to announce that on Oct 1st, my second blog will launch. Co-written with my dear friend Adair Rice, we will be posting ridiculous correspondence to each other every week.

I am also beginning to search out auditions for performing gigs (along with my wife) and finding a renewed passion for comics that I hadn’t known I’d lost.

It’s not a quick fix, and I know from past experience that when I am unfulfilled artistically, it reeks havoc on my mental state. But, I am confident that with the help of my wife and collaborators, I’ll be back to chasing my dreams until I run out of breath in no time.


Starting Blocks

My last month in Billings has been very, very stable. My needs are met; my heart is full. But with less than two weeks before the big move, it’s time to start collecting the random thoughts and belongings I’ve scattered around the house. The time for daydreaming has come to an end.

It was fun while it lasted.

To be honest, spending the better part of two months in a low-pressure environment just reminded me of how much I need deadlines and challenges to lead a productive life. In absence of expectations, I’m quick to take the path of least resistance – to sit around and eat ice cream. I worried that I would take on old habits when I moved to Billings, and it looks like my worries had some validity. Like Austin said, nothing makes you backslide faster than coming home. I’m not happy with this reality, but I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

Luckily, New York offers thousands of new challenges, and approximately none of them will be solved by eating ice cream. I realize that moving away won’t change my core behaviors, but it will offer clear-cut problems (figuring out the subway system), and clear indicators of progress (being able to find my way home).

But before I get ahead of myself, there’s still work to be done at home. My challenge for this week? Cleaning and organizing a room that contains all of my belongings from the last 6 apartments I’ve lived in.

For many, this is a standard step to moving out. For me, it’s putting my feet against the starting blocks of a grand new adventure.

Nerd Herd

Two years ago, around this time, I introduced myself to the people who would become my cohort. My first words to them were, more or less, “Hi, I’m Austin. I am a colossal geek.” I was really saying “I defy you to tell me I don’t belong here” was what I was saying. Luckily, it got big laughs instead.

Back then, I wasn’t sure nerds, geeks, introverts, and other part time social pariahs had a place in the helping professions. I still struggle with the idea sometimes. After all, what difference could one awkward nerd make?

Except, it’s not a problem unique to me, or even to all of nerd-dom. We all struggle with enough-ness, as one of my old teachers called it. I can promise you that every person in the history of creation has wondered whether or not they are enough. It took me a year’s worth of client’s and a life’s worth of self-doubt to teach me that.

But this isn’t about every person ever, this is about me. Am I enough to actually get out there and help others, despite being a bit (a lot) geeky? And the bigger question, does the helper need to figure themselves out before helping others? As I see it, the answer is a resounding “no”.

Wounded healers are still healers, maybe more-so because we at least have some perspective. The truth is that none of us have our act together. Maybe we should celebrate that instead of trying as hard as we do to hide it. So, I’m a nerd, a geek, and at times cringe-worthy. Probably going to keep that up.

Let ye who is without awkward throw the first stone.


Constant Change

Being married is different than dating. Living together, making life plans and financial decisions, are all things that couples of all stages do together. But once you are married, you are transitioning from a state of change to a state of constancy.

I have had ten roommates over the course of my life. Now, I will have one for the rest of my life.

When my wife and I were dating, we were constantly adjusting to our own changing lives. Where we were, what we were doing, who we were with, were all changing every day, and independently from each other. Now that we are married, those things are still changing ever day, but we have each other as a constant. We never had that before.

I was expecting everything to change in my life when I got married. And a lot of things did. But really, it’s the stability that no one warns you about.

All of a sudden, you have someone to be with, always. You have a partner in crime that isn’t going anywhere. While this constancy might scare some people, I have found it to be an awesome experience.

In a world of terrorist, super viruses, civil wars and street violence, I am so glad I have a steadfast partner. Regimes will fall, presidents will leave office, and gas will go up, but I have a friend, confidant, lover, and drinking buddy to stand with through it all.

Yes it’s forever, and yes, that can be a little scary. But life is scary enough alone. I’m glad I have such an amazing partner to go through all the change life sends our way.


Take Your Time

Tonight’s the kind of night where all I want to do is sit back, drink wine, and listen to some Downtempo. No overthinking, no anxiety, just being in the moment and watching the rain.

So I’m going to do just that, and I invite you to join me. Put on some headphones, kick up your feet, and find a window to gaze out. You have my permission to relax. Heck, you can even go back for a second glass – I won’t judge.

As always, thanks for reading.

– Clark

Ties and Smiles

So, I have some interviews this week.

I’ve always thought I was pretty good at them. The last three rounds of jobs I had I got after one interview apiece. In other words, the first people to interview me usually hire me. Pretty cool skill to have, unless you’ve recently become a lot more genuine since the last interview.

See, interviews are all about being selectively authentic. Whip out the good clothes and the small talk, and you’re half way there. It’s a game, one that’s been studied by sharper minds than mine, but one I’m pretty good at anyway.

It’s funny for someone like me, who struggles with authenticity, but the awkward barriers in an interview start to work to my advantage.

Let me give an example. Back when I was interviewing for my old internship, the lady that would be my supervisor made a mistake. She forgot she was interviewing that day, and just kept doing paperwork in her office. As a result, I was kept waiting for over an hour. When she finally remembered I was waiting, I was all smiles and understanding.

Funny thing is, I was just too chicken to leave. The (broken) moral of the story is this: don’t be yourself, and maybe a freak turn of events will put you in a bass-ackwards position of power.

Fast forward to this week. Now I’m doing what I thought I was good at, but I’m doing it with all this pesky new confidence and authenticity. I worry that these might work against me in an arena that values feigning perfection. On the other hand, my hope is that the people interviewing me value authenticity, seeing as how it’s one of the most important traits a counselor can have. The gray areas seem scarier now that I know mine better.

At least I can rely on this- my confidence and my experience have taught me that I’m a valuable person to know. Selling that like I used to is the tricky part.

Thinking about it, interviews aren’t really unique in that. Interviews are just regular first encounters, but bigger. And more formal. And the other person may or may not be giving you money in the future based on that one conversation. So yeah, just like any other day.