Thursday, November 24, 2011


Yesterday I met with a friend out of town who was meeting with a few Hollywood bigwigs (or at least midwigs, but definitely not lil'wigs). It was at a fancy multi-star hotel in a bar looking over the ocean serving delicately prepared food in tiny portions on fancy-shaped plates. Basically, it was the kind of setting a boy who grew up on a farm does not usually encounter.

I've had a few experiences like this so far as I am so determined to take the biggest baby steps possible. I parked half a mile away in some day-lot (I have never used a valet in fear that they would not know how to handle a car made in the late 90's). As I trekked up the fancy hill and up the fancy drive with fancy trees covered in fancy lights I mentally repeated to myself "I am good enough to be here." This was the first time I've psyched myself up that way, and it is something I think I will be doing for quite a while.

I know I'm a person just like anyone else, but I do feel my bumpkin background something fierce when surrounded by people who are monetarily capable of impulsing buying cars. I really did self affirm that I was (and am) good enough to not only enter such a fancy place, but to eat and drink there on the patio overlooking the sun seting on the Pacific Ocean with people whose paychecks can put my whole family through college (and I have a huge family). As it turned out, I was good enough to be there. I connected on a personal level. Apparently a lot of people like talking about their farming roots, and I can quip comedy when relaxed and feeling all belonging.


Earlier that morning I read something on the forum I have with my longest/best friends I felt a strong urge to respond to. It would not be noteworthy had it not been something relating to religion and politics. You see, I fundamentally disagree with the group of friends I've known the longest and care about the most. I rarely share my personal political opinions with them as a group in fear of being pounced upon, devoured whole and excommunicated. Something must be happening to me because I responded openly and frankly. I kind of said screw it to my silence and spoke my peace. I know that open and honest communication, though it may cause ripples, creates much stronger bonds than silence. However, knowledge and action are two separate things. I finally acted upon my impulse to say "wait a minute, think about this other thing." Though still scary, it felt good.

In short, through these two incidences I moved beyond the misplaced need to apologize for who I am. Yes, I am good enough to not only schmooze with "powerful" people, but I am also good enough to have a point of view that other people disagree with. I've always had an opinion and enjoyed meeting people, I just had opportunities to exercise these things in a new way that I can feel as real growth. So my large baby steps fall into the "just bein' myself" category. This makes me happy.

This evening I had the most comfortable conversation with my parents and family on the phone, no doubt in relation to the confidence I got from letting go of my useless insecurities. I hope this means I will stop feeling the need to apologize when I ask my dad for money...I mean...what?

So yeah--confidence--something to be thankful for this year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Learning to love [comedy] again

I need a new comedy. Or at least a different kind of comedy. Or maybe a new perspective on what I am seeing. In short, I am disappointed.

The Upright Citizens Brigade is kind of the place for comedy in LA, namely the improv-based variety. I am currently in level 201 of the program and seeing shows every chance I can get. Here is my problem: I keep seeing the same thing. Every show can be summarized as two white guys talking at each other, generally whilst talking about shitting their pants. Sometimes it's one of their characters who's done it, sometimes it's another person who's done it, sometimes it's the monologist who is talking about a time it really happened to them, but when it comes down to it, at every show I saw this week, they talked about someone shitting their pants.

All I know is that I am frustrated when every show turns into heads talking at each other about feces. I feel insulted, like my intelligence is not being respected, though I know I am guilty of the same act, more or less. My sin is referencing the fact that we are in an improvised scene by calling out inconsistencies in the scene while I'm still in it. Nobody is guilt free.

UCB has some of the most heady comedy in town, so maybe that's why they feel it's okay to continually talk about that stuff because they are approaching it intellectually. They've spun so far around the intelligence wheel they're back on the lowbrow side. Maybe I'm being an ass and missing the forest because of all the crappy trees. I do see them adhering to the format and surprising me with unexpected bits of humor and perspective.

On the plus side they have the most realistic characters, especially compared with the Groundlings where if you don't have a combination of a silly voice, a silly walk and a silly wig, you don't have a character. That's right, I'm crapping on the whole town.

When it comes down to it, it seems the honeymoon just ended and right now I need to discover where my love for improv comes from. Now THAT is a life lesson in a journey.

What did I love most about UCB when we first met? Their quick wit, and how they could say no while still saying yes. Here I am learning to do just that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

No room for haters in my family tree

Compton can't be as rough and dirty as it claims to be--my mom grew up there!

It's true, I just found that out today. My mom spent the first few years of her life in Compton. Admittedly it was before the gentrification and gangs and whatnot, but the fact remains that my mom grew up in Compton. Take that all you haters!*

Another old old old relative on my father's side was another kind of roughneck. When Oregon was still a territory (or thereabouts, all I can say is that it was long before the Oregon Trail was a popular game), one of my relatives lived in a tree. What do I mean lived in a tree? I mean he hollowed out a tree and lived in it. For two years. He left his family on the east coast, trekked west all the way to rainy Oregon, and spent the next two years clearing out a plot of land to farm while living in the hollow of a giant tree trunk. I don't care who you are, but that is pretty bad-ass. He then sent for his family and built a house for them to live in on their newly hewn farm.

As far as my family history is concerned, I come from pretty hearty stock. On one side I survived the (future) ghetto, on the other I lived like Tom Hanks in a Pacific NW version of Castaway.

Conclusion: wherever I end up in life (both rich and famous with a Nobel prize winning family) nobody can say that I did not earn it. Not even by using reason and facts. No haters, ya'll*

*by "haters" I mean socio-economically down-trodden.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Man and his Meat

Here is the Doogie Howser style ending to my day. I will leave out the driving and the rain and focus on the food.

Tuesday there was a great sale on meat at the California version of Safeway (Von's). This is me with my proud purchase:

I believe the camera somehow managed to remove my lips. Either that or there is so much meat in this one picture that the gravitational pull from all that awesome protein created a gravity well that proved too strong for my lips and they were sucked into the red, meaty black hole.

I was so excited to find a roast on sale, over half off! I've been looking forward to today's meaty feast. This morning I dropped some baby carrots and bay leaves along with potatoes and garlic and half an onion into my awesome, MANLY crock pot. I got it for free a couple years ago from the job where I used to pick up dead people. It's not a long story, I just don't want to tell it right now.

If you have a hard time finding where the crock pot is, I'll tell you right now that it's camoflaged.

I added half a bottle of wine, some hooch (good stuff) a can of cream of mushroom soup, and then I questioned myself and added way too much water, thus the little cup of brown "crock juice" to the right of the cooker to prevent it from boiling over...which it seemed determined to do no matter what I wanted.

I then had to leave the apartment for a few hours handing the reigns over to my apart-mate Luke. Aparently it began to bil over so he turned it to low heat before leaving for a movie...though he later discovered he turned it off, so when I got home I was justly saddened to find the meat not so much flaky as uncooked. I turned it back to high at 8pm and lurked around the cooker for most of the evening. Finally at 11pm I turned the slow cooker off and a wave of sadness crept over me. I should have been happy to finally be able to dig in to a load of meat that had spent most of the day simmering in it's own juices, but I felt like I had a loss since it did not happen when and how I had hoped it would for so many days. That's my strength and weakness all wrapped into one: perfection. I had an ideal and did not meet it. I told myself to forget it and I dug into it with my apart-mate, who had tried to cook some brownies for the occassion...but apparently overcooked them. It was still flavorful, except for the edge.

The good news-the pot roast was flaky and delicious and I am going to bed with a full stomach and the aftertaste of delicious meaty success on my lips.

(What success looks like from above)

(What success looks like from the side)