Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recarpeting Over My Memories

I made the mistake of driving past my parents' house the other day.

Actually it's not owned by my parents. They sold it. They don't live there any more. But my car just instinctively drove down their old street. It was like I wasn't even controlling the car. As soon as I got in front of the house and saw the strange, unfamiliar vehicles in the drive-way, my first reaction was "who's car is--"

Oh. Right.

A weird feeling washed over me. There are strangers living in my house. There are strangers walking all over my memories. There are strangers sleeping in my parents' room.

I wasn't upset when my parents told me they were moving. Or when they put the house up for sale. Or when they packed up or sold all their furniture and belongings. I wasn't sad when they drove their moving truck down to Florida to close on their new condo and move some of their furniture into it. But just driving past the house in which I used to live made me super emotional. But why? I'm happy for my parents. They deserve this new stage in their lives. They've earned it. Why am I so upset?

Well, there's the living room. My brother and I used to practice wrestling moves on that carpet when we were little. We would jump off the couches like they were turnbuckles. I still remember when the walls were orange. I remember moving the kitchen chairs into the livingroom when my mom would wash the kitchen floor. I would set up the chairs in front of the television like they were seats in a car: Two in front, two in back. I would sit in the "driver's seat" and pretend I was at the drive-in. Of course this drive-in always showed Sesame Street.

The kitchen was that one place where my family would always get together. No matter where we were and no matter what we were doing, we always met at that table for dinner. My friends would make fun of me because i needed to be home for dinner. And to be honest, it annoyed me. Why couldn't I just eat at my friend's house? Or later? Of course I get it all now. And it wasn't always just us four around that table. Sometimes my friend Mike would join us. My parents knew he didn't have the best home life. And to this day, he still remembers all the meals he ate in my parents' kitchen.

But now someone else is eating in that kitchen. Someone else is sitting in that living room. And they are parking their car in the garage that my father and grandfather built. They built it with their own hands. They cut the wood and measured the space and put it all together. From scratch. That might not mean anything to you, but it seems like a miracle to me. They made something that never fell down and never needed any major work for over twenty years. It wasn't some pre-made, pre-assembled make-shift garage. And these strangers are just taking it for granted.

You're welcome, strangers.

They'll mow the grass and they won't know anything about all the summers of playing Freeze Tag and TV Tag in the back yard. They'll know nothing about all the snow ball fights my neighbors and I had. All the games of Whiffle Ball we played mean nothing to them. (And that old maid who wouldn't let us get our ball back when by some miracle one of us hit a home run.) These strangers don't know about any of that.

And why should they? They're strangers. Strangers living in my house. Strangers walking and painting and recarpeting all over my memories. Strangers making their own memories at that house. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I feel like such an old man, so I act like an old man.

Last night/early today I woke up around three in the morning to use the facilities & get a drink of water and I heard all kinds of people yelling or laughing outside.

I realized they were stumbling to or from the bars. Because at three in the morning the bars would still be open for another hour.

And I had been asleep for hours.

What an old man I've become.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seventeen-Twentieths Life Crisis.

Last night I tweeted this: "I feel very... I'm not sure. Like I'm missing out on something."

I'm not sure what brought it about, but I just felt sad and anxious and... empty-ish. I was sitting at home flipping the channels and I stopped on a movie on AMC. It took place in a New England town-- there were a bunch of people in a dirty old bar, all in flannel, drinking beers and laughing and having a good ol' time-- My heart sank. I don't know if it was deja vu or jealousy or hunger pangs, but I just felt my life was running away from me. I felt like I missed opportunities that I should have taken. I feel as though I'm missing out on something.

I have a job I love. I'm helping people who are trying to help themselves. But every day I sit here and I think about how much this job doesn't pay the bills. I have mentioned this before, but I hate money. And at the same time I need money. It's a vicious circle. Well, that's not really a circle, is it? But it's a horrible relationship in any case. I wish I could just live comfortably with the job I have now. I wish I didn't have to worry about the bills every five or six days. I wish I had a house and a couple-few kids and a car that didn't stress me out and enough money to go out a couple days a week. I don't need anything fancy. I don't need the latest technology. I don't need fancy suits. I just want to be comfortable.

But I'm not comfortable. And I look back at those things I would love to have, and it feels like it's too late to reach those things. A house? Well first I need to figure out where I want to live. Kids? Yeah right. I'm pretty sure I missed my window for that (unless a couple of teenagers come knocking on my door!). And a car? Jeez. if I can't pay my bills now, how am I supposed to get a nice car? How am I supposed to do anything with the job I have now?

And so I apply for other jobs. I apply for higher paying jobs. I apply for anything and everything. I had an interview the other day at GNC for christsakes. Have you seen me? I am not the best spokesperson or salesperson for a musclehead/vitamin shop. But if they'll pay me, I will do it. I wish I had a job that I went to school for that would allow me the opportunity to use social media and other technology. I wish I could teach creative writing. I wish I could work on my Great American Screenplay. Or maybe it's a stage play.

Sometimes I wish that I could afford to just hole up in a cabin and write and write and write and just do that. I would emerge from my lonely writing garret a changed man ready to change the world with his words. But that can't ever happen because even just typing about it makes me think of all the bills I would need to pay.

Let me take a moment to explain the title of today's post.

Most people have a "quarter life crisis" around age 25, because, I guess, life ends at 100. If we're lucky. But the thing is, when I was 25, I was loving life. I don't remember having any crises with money or my car or anything. The other problem is that when I was 16 years old, I was stumbling around a beach in south Florida and a woman read my palm. She told me that I would not live to see my 40th birthday. At the time, I was cool with this. Hope I die before I get old.

But now, I, well... I could use a time machine. I wish I could go back and fix all the mistakes I obviously have made with my life. Would I go to film school right out of high school? Probably not. Would I spend years and years at jobs I was unhappy at? Definitely not. Would I follow in the footsteps of someone more successful? Possibly. Would I be where I am now? Hopefully not. The problem with going back and fixing all of the problems I have is that the good things in my life would also disappear. I wouldn't have met my best friend from college because I met him in film school. Would I be even more unhappy because I went to school to get a job that would have just made me lots of money? Possibly. But maybe I would be more comfortable.

God. I hate this. Where do I go from here? Do I just try to fix the mess I'm in now by taking a part-time job that will help me pay the bills and continue to feel like I'm missing out on something? Or do I try to start over eighty-five percent of the way through my life?

It feels like a no-win situation you've gotten yourself into, chaz.

Yeah. Tell me about it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Summer In The Theater Over

It feels like the end of an era.

I spent the last two months working on a theater production as Prop Master and Back Stage Manager. The final performance was Saturday evening. It was stressful. It cut into my sleep schedule. And I loved every minute of it. But now it's over, and not just for the summer. At the end of the run the cast was informed that the production company was putting an end to their summer musicals. The director and producer have a two year old daughter together and they want to spend more time being parents. The producer has been doing these summer musicals for eighteen years and it just felt like time to end it.

Of course that's when the water works started. Stage make-up was running all over the place. It's kind of a let-down for a lot of these kids. They don't have an outlet to perform or sing or dance. Sure, they can do it at school, but what do they do when they graduate? Or what do they do if they go to a school with a piss-poor drama club? Then what? These summer musical productions had been a constant in many of their lives for their entire lives. For me, I had worked with them since I was in high school. Nearly every summer I would work on these shows-- usually free of charge. I literally grew up in the theater.

I became who I am in the theater. And although I never sang or danced on stage, I still loved every minute of it, no matter how much I complained or stressed myself out or cursed and swore about what I was doing. I learned so much in these productions. And I guess, at the end of the day, that is what these productions were all about. The producers didn't assume that the cast and crew were going to be around forever. The producers and the directors were inspiring everyone to go on to greater things. Many of the people who were involved in the summer musicals have gone off to New York City or other places to be bigger and better, whether as performers or teachers or dancers or producers.

And now that these summer productions are over, maybe that's my sign to do something bigger and better. Do I try and find a larger theater group to join? Do I look to go to school for theater production? Do I start my own production company?

There are so many options.

Either way, it is the end of an era and I need to figure out what my next step is going to be.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Is What It Is

The saying "It Is What It Is" seems like such a Western New York thing to say.

My problem is that I haven't really lived anywhere but WNY. I've lived in Niagara Falls, I've lived in Rochester, and I've lived in Buffalo. And although Rochester isn't necessarily Western New York, it's close enough. My point is that WNYers, on the most part are pretty defeatist. It is what it is. Don't bother fighting or trying to change any thing. It is what it is. And that's all there is to it.

Maybe it's not just a WNY thing. It would be really great if there were people out there that didn't just let life happen to them. People who take control and do to life. Is it really just WNY that lets life walk all over them? Because if that is the case, I really need to get the hell out of here. Maybe you don't say "It Is What It Is." But I bet you say "whatever." Or even more likely, you are extremely sarcastic. That is definitely a WNY defense mechanism. We're all so sarcastic. And self-defeating. Why? Because it snows nine months out of the year? Because our sports teams let us down? Or maybe it's because nothing seems to go our way.

Western New York is so sad. Growing up in Niagara Falls, you live with the fact that the Canadian side of the falls is so much nicer. The Canadian side has the better view BECAUSE THEY'RE LOOKING AT OUR FALLS. The American side is so crappy looking compared to the other side. Buffalo has some prime water-front real estate, but we can't seem to do anything with it. Meanwhile, EVERY SINGLE TIME you go to Toronto, they have more and more things built up on their water front property. It's not fair! Why can't we have nice things? Is it because we're not Canadian?

That can't be the reason everything Is What It Is. Can it? When I lost my job last summer I didn't just say "whatever" and give up. I woke up every morning around 9am and I sent our resumes and filled out applications and pounded the pavement. I tweeted and sent messages and status updates out. I did that for three months with no responses. People on twitter and facebook and other social networks are always saying how close knit we are because of these websites, but when the going gets tough everyone disappears. All of a sudden you lose all your contacts.

Maybe this is just my point of view. Maybe I'm bitter. Maybe I've been in WNY too long. Whatever. It is what it is, I guess.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Woes of Being Propmaster

As a handful of you may know, I have been working on a local production of "Hairspray" for the past month or so. I am the Propmaster. I am also in charge of back stage. I love working in the theater. I love being a part of this production.

That being said, I probably will not volunteer to be Propmaster again. It sounds like an easy job in theory: Figure out what kinds of props the show needs, go get them, and BAM! you're done. And while that may be part of the job, the other part, the part that frustrates me to insanity, is the fact that to get the props, you have to go shopping. At stores. Where other people are also shopping. Many of these stores are discount stores and thrift stores. And while I do not have anything against shopping at these kinds of stores, I do have something against the people who work at these stores. They act like everyone who shops in their store is poor, homeless, or on drugs. Because, honestly, why else would you be shopping at the Good-Will unless you were on public assistance?

Another awkward part of shopping at these stores is that the employees are very adamant about catching shop-lifters. The way they do this is by following "sketchy" looking shoppers around the store at a very obvious distance. They watch what they pick out and they make sure they keep these items in full view. Because god-forbid someone steals an iron that probably doesn't work for two dollars! One day I was evidently looking sketchy and was being followed around the shop. This was of course the day I needed to find very large women's underwear. So what would you think if you saw some guy in his thirties browsing the "granny panties"? After about twenty minutes I left and decided to shop elsewhere.

One of the bigger problems I have with being Propmaster is that the job never really ends. This past weekend was our first tech rehearsal. You'd think that I would have gotten everything we needed. But I left rehearsal with a list of other things I need to purchase. Things just come up. I'm not blaming the director by any means. It's just the way this job is. And even though our show opens tomorrow, I still have things to get. Some people may have no issue with this, but I like to have everything way ahead of time. This is the biggest source of stress and anxiety. This causes me to want to drink. This is why I haven't been sleeping very well.

I just re-read that last paragraph and it just hit me: THE SHOW OPENS TOMORROW.

Oh my God!

It's Go Time.

If you're interested in seeing this show, it runs August 11, 12, 13 and 18, 19, 20 at 7pm at Niagara Falls High School's Performing Arts Center. Check the flyer below for more information!