Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sweet Home Chicago

First, may I say that if you've never tied a tarp over half of what you own, then you're not good at it. Try and take that tarp 938 miles, however, and you can become a pro REAL fast.

It took a day longer than we thought it would to get here, but we gained some experience for the journey. Poor kitty didn't have enough sedatives for the whole trip, and grape flavored children's Benadryl she just won't eat. Phooey.

We made it here about 11:00 a.m. Thursday morning. We were *nearly* done unloading into the lobby four hours later before I heard two words I never expected to hear: "Tornado Warning". We got everything inside in time, but the heavens opened, flooding was rampant, and trees were blown into the streets all over Chicago.

Incidentally, Chicago drivers are some of the rudest people I've ever witnessed.

Our apartment holds all of our furniture with room to spare (not much, but more so than any other one bedroom apartment I've ever known), so we didn't feel bad about grabbing a comfy chair and little table from the dumpster area earlier tonight.

I've reconnected with friends I knew from college and since, and got some notions about where to start looking for a job as well as some actor resources. The people in our building are quite friendly, and some of them even helped us move the heavy stuff. Not bad for two days in town.

Tomorrow is Blue Man Group, and Monday is the start of the job hunt as Heather starts class. Soon, I'll be in touch with the family I have up here. And some time before Christmas, I hope to be unpacked.

Of course, I hope to have a job by then, too.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Goodbye, Dallas

In less than a day, I'll finally be leaving here and going there. "Are you excited?" I'll hear. "Are you scared?" others say. I don't really have an answer to those questions. I got depressed after losing the opportunity for Moscow. I know this probably means better things are on the horizon, everyone says so. But what things can match what I lost?

Here's what I mean. I screwed up a chance—a very good chance—to study at UCLA for my masters degree (see a blog I wrote last December or so for the details on that one). I'd have graduated by now if I had gotten in. At any rate, when I got the opportunity to go to Moscow, I was handed the chance to make up for that error, so I went at it full force. Yes, there were other graduate schools I could have tried for, but they were more expensive, and honestly—they weren't in another country.

The biggest part of going to school in Russia was actually going to RUSSIA. And not just going, but living there for three years, learning another culture, another language, another perspective through which to view the world. Everyone here teaches method acting, somehow or another based on Stanislavski's teachings. In Moscow, I'm learning Stanislavski's method from Stanislavski's school, his theatre, his students. Essentially, I'd have been Stanislavski's grandson (maybe great-grandson), learning the Russian technique in the Russians' house from the Russians themselves.

What local opportunity can compete with that?

I didn't lose Heather, which is wonderful. I didn't lose a job, not really, for who can't get a job in Chicago with eleven years of restaurant experience? What I lost, what was my favorite part of going, was the chance to live in a country whose culture I've romanticized and held enthralled since I was a kid.

DAMN it.

I have no idea what awaits me in Chicago. I know what my plans are, which include a) unpacking and helping set up our new home, b) getting a job working at/taking improv classes from Second City, and c) getting ready for grad school auditions in February.

Yes, I'm excited. Yes, I'm scared. But I can't tell the difference.

Does that answer your question?
When I get depressed, or lost emotionally, I always turn back to one story: Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman. The first book is all I had to read this time (though, of course, I'll finish off the entire series again). The main character, Dream, is captured and imprisoned for a period of several years. After breaking free, he takes revenge on his captor, then begins a quest to obtain the items stolen from him during his incarceration.
Once he's done, he's left with a sense of great emptiness, and loss of purpose. Smacked in the head with a loaf of bread, he's told to quit feeling sorry for himself; if he wants to find something else to do with his life, he should DO it. But don't sit around and complain that there's nothing to do, nothing to be done.
I built up so much momentum and purpose and focus for Russia that once it was taken away from me, I felt empty. Now my target has changed, but my purpose has not.
We must adapt and change as the world changes, or we will die. For all of us, there is a limit to how much we can change. Perhaps between now and death, I shall find that limit.
And now that I'm merely philosophizing, I shall go to sleep.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Nearly Done

After more than nine years working at Magic Time Machine, my time there is nearly done. I can't say I'm too sad about the prospect. I have some measure of pride for being there so long, and having affected so many people's lives. I've had a few regulars come in over the last few weeks, writing me lovely messages of farewell and thank you for the good times they had over the years. It's nice to be recognized for a job well done (nicer still to be paid for said job).

Magic Time Machine is a place that no matter what you thought of it, you'll always remember. Every customer I talk to remembers exactly how old they were and what the occasion was every time they've walked through our door. They remember the waiter, what they ate, what jokes they heard. Some people love us and some people are thoroughly unimpressed, yet we still make an impression on people's minds that lasts, literally, a lifetime. I'm honored to have been a part of it for as long as I was.

Nonetheless, I'm over it. It's past time to move on, and move on I shall. Heather and I found an apartment in Wrigley Park in Chicago, and we move in less than two weeks. I have a few preparations to make before I go, but there's a week in-between my last day at MTM and the actual start of the move. I regret to say that I'll immediately be looking for a job at another bar/restaurant, but it's not a permanent thing. Most of my time in Chicago is going to be spent making an actor out of myself and preparing for grad school auditions in February.

Life as I know it is about to change more drastically than ever before, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't been losing sleep over the prospect. I'm excited, I'm scared . . . . but I'm no longer docile. No longer complacent with my lot in life. No longer depressed. By the time I turn thirty next summer, I expect my life to look very dissimilar compared with the one I have now. Or, at least, it goddamn jolly well BETTER.

My last day at Magic Time Machine is this Monday night. The move begins eight days later. Parties and such will happen in-between. Call me, my number hasn't changed. Write me, and we'll make plans. Otherwise—perhaps I'll see you this Christmas.