Category Archives: Friendship
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This was a post I originally wrote for Seven Sentences. Which is why it’s only…seven sentences. Comment. Share. Enjoy!
I want to dismantle status.
I learn from my students every day. I’m excited to see them charge forward to discover on their own! Even if – no, especially if – it means disproving my preconceptions.
Leadership is a process of service, not command. It’s a product of vision and inspiration. Look at the moon, not the finger pointing to it.
My college pal Kendra wrote a hilarious and way-too-true blog post – 10 Ways Being a Theatre Major Ruined My Life. Read it here first, and enjoy my point-by-point rebuttal below.
Then go back and read all the posts on Kendragarden.com – she’s a whiz!
1. I was fortunate to have an amazing teacher and mentor in Larry Hovis. The primary key to success he imparted was being “On time, prepared, and sober.” It seems simple, right? But so much of my success in life occurred because I showed up ready to rock when other people didn’t. I’m not always sober, so I show up early and spend a little extra time preparing. Rest In Peace, Larry. We miss you.
2. In the business world I am as quirky as they come. As a theatre student at Southwest Texas State University, I couldn’t even medal in the Weirdo Olympics. But after all that time with my freak flag unfurled – I can’t pull it down. I learned who I am, flaws and all, and fuck anyone that can’t hang.
3. I got it all out of my system. I hate karaoke, dancing, and anything that draws attention to me. That stuff is for stage time. When I’m not on stage DON’T look at meeeeeeeeeee… (Curls into a ball and slides under the table (that draws *more* attention to me? Oh god…I *am* dramatic!)).
4. I have real (as in tangible) life skills. If you think majoring in theatre involved blow-off classes and lots of booze, pot and sex – you are 100% correct. But it occasionally involved difficult classes, like Lighting Design and Theatre History, taught by brilliant (if somewhat stoic) professors who found actors to be the least useful creatures on the planet. I was in no way funny or charming to them. I learned to do the hard work and not fall back on my amiable personality and rugged good looks sense of humor. I learned to work well with others in high-pressure situations. I learned to get up in the morning no matter how late I was up the night before. I did have to learn all of the “real” life stuff after college, but fuck other peoples’ definition of real life anyway.
5. I can’t enjoy passive entertainment without casting a particularly critical eye toward the acting. I’m irritating at movies, plays, and in front of the TV. But in real life, I know when I’m being bull-shitted. This comes in especially handy as a father.
6. A couple of times a week, I have a variation on the same nightmare. Either it’s opening night and I forgot to memorize my lines or I’m all of a sudden on stage in a corset but I don’t know what play we’re doing and no one will tell me. Then I remember…I can improvise my balls off! Let’s make this dream about my wife in nerd glasses on a skateboard…rrrrrrrrrrawr!
7. I memorized lines. At parties. While drinking. So now, everything that enters my brain sticks. Songs, movies, the way you weren’t 100% sincere when you congratulated me. All of it. This one is somewhat dubious when you watch a lot of The Wiggles. Beyond that, though, I remember it all. Useful? Occasionally. Impressive? It beats talking about the weather.
8. I am incapable of taking a normal picture. In Kendra’s list this is meant to be negative somehow. I don’t see the problem. I am incapable of taking a normal picture!!! Wheeeeee…!!!
9. I can totally play it cool around minor celebrities.
10. When people ask what I majored in at college, I “act” and say, “business.”
“A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.”
- PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
“I think we are living in selfish times. I’m the first one to say that I’m the most selfish. We live in the so-called ‘first world,’ and we may be first in a lot of things like technology, but we are behind in empathy.”
- JAVIER BARDEM
8PM. Time to go to work.
I’ll make a few mistakes tonight. I always do. “The master weaver incorporated the mistakes of his students into a larger pattern.”
A pair of Master Weavers. I get to work with awesome people.
Time to head home. At least I got to wear sneakers tonight.
Late night cut-ups & hiccups. Nonstop hustle. All for the love of the game.
I want to write about the great and powerful thing that listening is. And how we forget it. And how we don’t listen to our children, or those we love. And least of all – which is so important, too – to those we do not love. But we should. Because listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.
Brenda Ueland, from The Art of Listening.
Please take a moment to read this short and compelling essay. It’s great! A big thanks to Melissa Cathcart for turning me on to it. Enjoy!
“My posse’s in effect and we’re doin’ the do
And we got more rhymes than your damn crew” - Beastie Boys, Posse in Effect
I have a posse. Why are you laughing? My posse is beautiful. For the purposes of this entry, “posse” isn’t my friends. It’s the people I interact with frequently. More specifically, the ones that enable me to do what I do; my dry cleaner, my bartender, my hairstylist (hate that word, but trust me – she ain’t no barber. Haircutress?), etc.
So, my posse is…people I’m paying for goods and services? Well, yeah. At first glance. But the difference is in my attitude toward them. I’ve made them an important part of what I do. They are my Posse. My Business Partners. My Team.
Figo owns three Devrim Cleaners locations. He keeps my shirts crisp, my suits sharp, and he’s fun to chat with. I’m sure he and his family provide personalized service to all of their customers. But when Figo is tailoring my suit, it’s not just A suit. He’s tailoring JAY’S suit. That’s an important difference.
Joe mixes some amazing cocktails. He makes me a cherry coke (cherrys + grenadine + whatever high fructose Coca-Cola approximate they sell) to get me fired up at the start of a long night of comedy. Joe makes devastatingly strong drinks to put a nice cap on the end of a long day of hustle. I tip well, he pours heavily, and we both benefit.
Stevie has cut my hair for ten years. She’s had to listen to stories about every single time I have vomited in public, yet she still takes personal pride in sending me out into the greater world looking my best.
“Got my hand in my pocket and my finger’s on the trigger
My posse’s gettin’ big and my posse’s gettin’ bigger” – Beastie Boys, The New Style
With the birth of our son 4 years ago, my posse has exploded. We have a pediatrician, preschool teachers, and a cabal of ultra-capable babysitters. All people who I trust fully (or mostly) with my son’s health and well being. Without them I couldn’t leave the house to make the funny without worrying about the little guy. And trust me, my son is always on my mind – so my posse allows me to leave with secure, happy thoughts.
In improvisation, we put a strong emphasis on creating relationships on stage. A scene in which two strangers meet and haggle over the price of a taco can be the most excruciatingly unfunny thing in the world. But two characters who know each other, sharing their lives and opinions and philosophies while *not* discussing that taco? That will be at least interesting, with strong potential for hilarious.
Because I’ve made these people an important part of my ability to create comedy professionally, I’m interacting with members of my team; my co-conspirators in world domination. Because of them, I can be in front of an audience or workshop and feel confident about looking competent. That makes my job a lot easier. And all I had to do was focus a little time and energy on creating basic relationships with my goods and services providers. My POSSE.
The temptation to moralize is strong; it is emotionally satisfying to have enemies rather than problems, to seek out culprits rather than the flaws in the system.
William Sloan Coffin, Jr.
I’m not sure why I was staring. Big, dumb, racist motherfuckers aren’t exactly rare in Texas. Especially in the nowhere parts. And they all look the same, like a sheet of construction paper that’s been folded and unfolded, India ink running all over, pooling into homemade skulls, vague biblical notions, and delightfully misspelled racial epithets. I’d seen these goofs up-close often enough. Our circles overlapped on occasion back in Houston. Rock shows, mostly. A menacing row of shaved heads, flak jackets, and ox-blood Doc Martens at the Social Distortion show. Even on their very best behavior (never) they made the one black guy I knew uncomfortable. Actually the one black guy I knew was a skinhead, too. S.H.A.R.P. – Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. Yes, that was a real thing. Maybe still is? I’m not Googling it in case my computer is ever seized in a federal investigation.
Anyway. In one of the innumerable gas stations that light up I-35 between Austin and Dallas, I’m staring at this walking crevasse as he waits to pay for his Bud tallboy (Miller Lite is for Mexicans). And he’s staring, too. Not back at me, thankfully. But something had his attention and I didn’t need to ask because he let me know. He let the whole dozen or so of his fellow travelers know, “Whoa! That van is on fire!” It’s not often you get to use the word pandemonium in everyday conversation, so I need to take advantage. Pande-fucking-monium! At the absolute nearest gas pump is a white passenger van (propers to church youth groups everywhere), gas pump still in it, and flames are pouring out. No, flames are shooting out, like, even they don’t want to be around for the explosion that’s about to happen. And everyone in that gas station fast-forwards a hundred million years on the evolutionary timeline and teleports the fuck out of there. BAMF! Gone. Except one dumbass. You guessed it – Me. Skinhead is gone. My ride split so fast he left his wallet spinning, cartoon-style, on the counter. And there I stood, fogging up the window twelve feet away from a white, ten-passenger bomb. And the only thought running through my head was “Whoa that van is on fire!” A smart dumbass would have stuffed cans of Dr. Pepper down his pants on his way out the back door.
Profound moments of enlightenment are difficult to find and even more difficult to face. Kernels of truth can be tough to swallow, especially when my particular truth is – I am too fucking stupid to save my own life. Or worse, I’m just not that interested. It really shreds one’s hard-fought self-esteem to realize that in a disaster situation you’ll just…go with the flow.
“Yeah, it’s beautiful isn’t it?”