Welcome to 2008

Happy New Year!

We are officially back from the year-ending honeymoon, and I gotta say that being on your honeymoon in New Zealand is a great way to end any year. Lots of good stuff happened in ’07, and I’m very excited to see what happens in 2008.

We’re working hard on priority goals 1 and 2: pick out all the wedding pictures and get them printed & published to the web; and pick out all the honeymoon pictures and get them published to the web & share them with everyone. Other than that, all the wedding/honeymoon hoopla is officially over… which is definitely a sad truth, but a bit of a relief as well. Time to turn our attention to the rest of our lives.

First on my list is training for the marathon. If you read the last post below, you saw that I registered for the BSIM on April 26th. Since that post and this one, my dear friend Choi has decided to pick that exact same day for his wedding reception. (He’s getting married in March, in Seoul, Korea, but having a reception for his gaijin friends that can’t make it to the land of fermented cabbage.) He’s lucky that I love him like a brother, because I was very excited about & already committed to this marathon… but the right thing to do, in spite of the fact that the marathon was booked first, is to go to his reception and forfeit my registration. Though apparently I may be able to sell my number on eBay – anyone ever sold or bought a race registration from someone else? So while I may not be training for Big Sur at the end of April, I’m still going to train and will book one in the same basic timeframe very soon.

Runner-up to that is to keep going with Improv stuff. Roadblock there is that BATS isn’t offering the next class in the series until April (at the earliest)… so that means I gotta go find another school or another pursuit and jump in just to keep momentum going. I’m kinda okay with that though – as much as I love what I’ve been doing at BATS, some of it isn’t indigenous to their school or their way of doing things. I’ve actually had two out of three of my classes disappoint me in some way or another, and have noticed that their crew’s performances (the long-form ones I’ve seen) are not what I really want to do. Those particular performances I saw, and what they seem to preach through their classes, purport that improv is funny by way of being improv… meaning that the funny bits are pleasant by-products of improvisation. I’m starting to think that my preferred method of doing this would actually be to marry the two together. IMPROVISE FUNNY STUFF. Obviously you can’t be funny all the time, especially when it’s completely spontaneous, but … for me, the whole point of this is to get the laugh; that’s why I do it.

BATS is typically not about the laugh… or at least the teachers I’ve had thus far don’t emphasize it at all; indeed they sometimes dragged me away from the laughs, kicking & screaming. And okay, I understand that improvisational acting is more than improvisational comedy, and that the skills involved in the first certainly augment your endeavors of the second but not necessarily vice-versa… but that’s not really what I want to do with my time or money right now. I want to be funny, and I want people to want me to be funny, and then I want to learn about how to be funnier. So I’ll shove off to find a way to do that very soon and will update you accordingly.

R, on the other hand, is about to kick off her first knitting class at Atelier Yarns over on Divis. She put that on her Xmas list, and ’twas a gift certificate that she received from my wonderful parents that paid for it & her supplies. She starts Monday & is very excited. It’s also something that’s going to help her keep one of her resolutions: to make/take more time for herself. Work has been summarily taking advantage of her for a few months now, and she’s had enough and is committed to getting her time back. Let’s all help her keep that one, okay? She’s excited for learning a new hobby, and she’s hoping it’ll turn out to be a therapeutic one – one that will calm her down as opposed to giving her more fodder for her task lists and the cute little heart attack that she knows she’s got half-baked in the bottom of her ventricles.

I’m all for a relaxing hobby, because, love her as I do, I still can’t keep her from being this big ball of stress for a larger-than-fun portion of time. I may still have a talent for talking her out of a complete frenzy like no one else could, but it’s akin to saving someone from drowning but still being stuck in the middle of the ocean – I can swim for both of us only so many miles, and then we both have to figure out how the hell to make it to dry land for beer and crab cakes. (I would only ever get stuck in the ocean in an area where the coast would supply both of these things a-plenty.)

The honeymoon was great for letting both of us totally forget about anything other than being married, being in New Zealand, and being twentysomethings with respectable salaries and slightly modest tastes for food & wine. We had a great time – I’d write a full post about it, but I still haven’t finished the Wedding post, and feel obligated to finish that one first – and now we’re back, trying not to get stressed out by America, by corporations, by what little obligations we do have.

But we’re trying not to think of 2008 as another year of obligations to things that don’t make us better or make the world better… I’m trying to make sure that I invest my time better in ’08. I even toyed with the idea of resolving not to watch ‘Friends’ any more. The amount of time I spend in front of the TV is easily 30-40% consumed by re-runs of episodes I own on DVD. So not only is it not productive time, it’s a REPEAT of a non-productive time. (In my defense, it’s a great show that won Emmys for a reason… but that is not excuse enough.)

I want to invest in this year so that ’09 is easier for both of us. More time out of the apartment, more time taking advantage of living on the West Coast, more time exploring new restaurants/activities/creative pursuits… do away with the days that go by because we’re too busy planning other things. And if we make the effort to take time for doing & enjoying new things, I’m less likely to need that time in front of the TV, laughing at lines that haven’t been said yet but that I know are coming. (There’s nothing inherently wrong with that at certain points in your life, but I’m past that point for now.)

One thing I’m definitely looking forward to doing is finding some open mic nights. Gonna start spectating a few first, build up the ol’ confidence, work on my own material, and eventually make a debut. I’m on the fence as to whether or not I want people I know to be at my first one or not… I’d love to think I’d be funny enough to have my friends & family laugh at me out of getting my jokes instead of loyalty, but am worried about being able to tell the difference. And if I DO bomb, I certainly don’t want everyone I know there to see it or to try and make me feel better about it… If they come and help me feel great my first time, when I go out again & less of them are there, I could bomb & not have that salve of loving ego-strokes with which to dress my wounds. But rest assured, I’ll blog about it either way.

There are LOTS of other things that should happen in ’08, but it’s 6:30 on Saturday night and I’m going to head out to catch I Am Legend at 7:30. (R doesn’t particularly want to go, so I get to go and drink all the soda & eat all the snacks I’ll pick up from BevMo! on the way.) So for now, I will leave you… and I promise I’ll be back in less than the 4 weeks it’s been since my last post. Plus I just bought us a new laptop yesterday and am happy to have a second tool so we can both be productive while at home.

Did learn a lesson though: make sure to ask R before any final decisions on large purchases. Both my Dad AND hers have a tendency to get single-minded on these types of purchases (computers, cars, TVs, dogs, cable packages), and they sometimes neglect to ensure the whole family is included in the decisions… it’s got a lot to do with the way women communicate their apathy about technology or TVs or whatever, but even if they don’t care to know an LCD from a labrador, it doesn’t mean that leaving them out of any decision that affects them is an okay thing. I’m sure this won’t be the last time something like that comes up, but I’m still ruminating on my response/philosophy related to it, so I’ll just let it go at that for now.

PS, thanks to those that have been commenting. I’m trying to respond in the comment threads more quickly than I can post, so if you’re looking for shoutouts or thank-yous, be sure to go back through the comment threads too, kay?

List #1

I’ve spent the first two hours of my day thinking about the following list. I think about it in spurts, so it took a while. Luckily blogging about it should move quickly. Below is The Top 50 Realistically Alternative Jobs That Would Be More Fun Than Corporate America. Qualifications for this list include:

-has to be something that I would actually do. Being an adult film star would PROBABLY be more fun than Corporate America, but I wouldn’t actually do it, therefore it won’t be on this list.
-has to be a JOB, not a career. Again, porn star would probably get excluded here, but so would Architect, Real Estate Agent, Race Car Driver… basically anything that would occupy my time FULLY and preclude me from having another job at the same time. Actor does not get excluded, for instance, because while it could be a CAREER, it would most likely just be a part-time thing, at least until I can get to a gym often enough to stop looking like Chunk from the Goonies and more like Tyler Durden.
-has to steer me away from the doldrums of desk work and at least feel less routine.

So, without further ado, I give you The Top 50 Realistically Alternative Jobs That Would Be More Fun Than Corporate America. These are in no particular order, because I just don’t have time to prioritize them right now.

50. Skydiving Instructor

49. Line Cook – not chef, too much responsibilty & looks more like a career option.

48. Movie Theater Owner/Operator – not too careery; could sell out at any time.

47. Phlebotemist – not a full-on nurse, just the guy who takes your blood and/or plasma, like for Red Cross.

46. Actor – duh.

45. Comedian – double duh.

44. Movie Quote of the Week Administrator – LOVE that sh!t.

43. Video Game Tester – would probably get bored eventually, but hoo-boy would it be fun.

42. Homemade pastry chef – think bake sales, not Kara’s Cupcakes.

41. Carpenter – so what if I know nothing about it now? I can learn. Carpenters need math skills too, right?

40. Cashier – working in Martin’s Grocery Store #32 in Waynesboro was one of the least boring things I ever did.

39. Croupier – as in the guys who work the craps tables or roulette tables in casinos; must be non-smoking casinos.

38. Sailing captain/instructor – of course I’d have to learn how to do it myself first. Details, people, details.

37. Blogger

36. Movie critic

35. Restaurant / Food critic

34. Travel writer

33. Improv teacher – believe me, my profs make next to nothing at this, but dammit do they have a good subject to teach.

32. Opinion leader – as in people actually come to me for my opinion on something, like socks. How many socks opinion leaders would you need? I’d be the Oprah of socks.

31. Oprah’s chauffeur – realistic because I drive REALLY REALLY well.

30. Jerry Seinfeld’s assistant – realistic because I look Jewish, even though I’m not.

29. Lewis Black’s best friend – realistic because I’m just as angry, and will probably end up just as ugly, as he is.

28. Julia Roberts’ smile consultant – realistic because … um … I have teeth too.

27. Movie Theater projectionist – much less responsibility, all the fun, half the money.

26. Courier – getting paid to ride around on a bike and drop sh!t off for $30 an hour? Hell yeah!

25. Marketing consultant (part-time) – helping a friend or relative get their business/restaurant/career off the ground by helping promote it in new/creative ways. I’d be AWESOME at this.

24. Student – could be a career, but I can probably only afford to do it for a few years. Hated papers & tests while in college, but now think I’d appreciate it more & would learn more.

23. List maker – seriously.

22. Part-time book editor – for instance, why do I care enough about punctuation & grammar to make sure that every note on this list has some form of punctuation at the end of it?

21. Charter pilot – SERIOUSLY.

20. Child wrangler – as in the guy who works at the day care center but is really only responsible for not losing the kids & making sure they learn / have fun. No need to change diapers.

19. Lifestyle guru – if I could just give up all this financial security crap and just go after doing what I want to do, I would love to tell people how to do the same thing. Plus, guru is just a cool title.

18. Counselor – as in not a full-blown self-help diva or psychiatrist/ologist, but just someone people can lean on / trust / talk to about their issues. I do this now for friends & family, but wouldn’t mind doing it for others if earning a buck or two.

17. Hotel critic

16. Hotel reception

15. Wedding Maitre’D – this guy basically gets paid BUKU dolares for being super-organized and efficient for 5-10 hours a day, maybe 3 days a week.

14. Landscape “architect” – as in the guy who plants shrubs & maybe even knows a thing or two about how to design a landscape. Did this for a summer – Best Job I Ever Had.

13. Consumer advocate – put my sense of respect and duty (as well as temper) to good use by helping other people fight against The Man, without getting into politics.

12. Deep sea charter boat captain – my grandfather seemed to have the most fun in his life when he was out on the open sea, trying to catch big fish. Would love to bring that experience to people.

11. Customer service representative – obviously prefer to do this for a company/product that people LIKE, but could handle just trying to solve people’s problems with their bank, credit cards, etc.

10. Waiter

9. Bartender

8. Speech writer – not a career one, but a personal one; some people make a decent go at writing wedding/bar mitzvah/Oscar speeches for people, and I know speeches.

7. Founder of ‘Friends’ Fan Club – maybe that’s less-than-hetero, but I seriously love that show. Maybe my sister & I could run that sh!t together.

6. Board game designer – this one borders on career, but holy Hannah, if it was for a small/independent/family company with minimal bureaucracy, I’d be in.

5. Caterer

4. Greeting card writer – along same lines as speech writer, only potentially more lucrative/stable.

3. SNL writer – only Al Franken and Lorne Michaels have done this their entire life, but the difference is that I would be GOOD AT IT.

2. Presentation skills consultant – these people make lots of money for just telling folks how to present better; whether it works or not, they still get paid. Plus I’m not bad on stage.

1. Church founder – new type of church that’s based on humor and the healing power of laughter. Check out Tom Robbins’ “Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates” for a looksee.

I could combine a few (dozen) of these and still bring home the bacon, but I’d probably have to give up a lot of ‘free’ time or personal time… and I do love my free time… but I might be able to survive with less of it if I got to do these types of things all day long. It might start to feel like my whole day was free time, y’know? Wouldn’t that be sweet.

Any thoughts on this list, drop a comment. And if this post, or ANY post, particularly inspires you, PLEASE let me know. That’s what this is about people!


Last night R & I were out and about at some happy hours (I’m still a bit sick, but dammit it was Friday) with some work friends of hers and then a few former work friends of mine, then finally just Mr. & Mrs. Iwamura-Smith.

R gets along professionally with everyone at work. But only Mrs. Smith, whom she works with (not baking pies), is someone that she hangs out with socially & on a regular basis. I brought them over to Harry’s and hung out with another BH and Timmy V., who used to also work for Big Red Healthcare. We’ve hung out & shared stories, but not frequently, and neither of them would be dudes I’d call on any random weekend to see what was going down. But Mrs. Smith’s husband, Mr. Smith, is pretty much that guy, in spite of the fact that we’ve been too busy to really hang out on any random occasion. So we officially hang out as couples, and then the Missus hang out at work and on other occasions, such as Jeans sales.

What I don’t understand, and what we discussed briefly last night at our third watering hole, was why things click with the Smiths, but not with Timmy V & BH, or with R’s colleagues Jai and Swop. It’s no revelation that relationships are different, that you get along better with some than others. But does anyone know WHY?

Here’s why I ask: I’ve been hanging out with BH & Timmy V off and on for, oh maybe 3.5 years. They’ve invited me/us on multiple camping trips, trips to Tahoe, Vegas stuff, etc. We have never gone anywhere with them, save for the occasional b-day party or Happy Hour. And no, we’ve never really invited them to go anywhere with us – not out of spite or obvious feelings of inadequate adventure, but mainly because I/we just don’t think of them when we consider hanging out with lots of people whilst being involved or traveling to take part in other activities.

It’s not like we have nothing in common. Worked for the same company, doing essentially the same things as one another, for 3 years each; lived in the Bay Area for 2+ years each; all like hiking, camping, exploring, traveling, drinking, etc.; all straight males in their mid-20s; all fairly humorous guys who just enjoy a good time.

But without a poker game, a sports event that I actually want to go to, or some other occasion that calls for a night of extreme drinking, I rarely hang out with these guys, and when I do, it’s usually them inviting me, and I rarely feel … comfortable, I guess. Almost like I’ve been invited to hang with the cool kids but don’t know any of the stuff that cool kids talk about. It’s not that juvenile, but it’s early and my analogy-of-the-day calendar is still sleepy, and my electrical metaphor producer hasn’t sobered up yet. But I go and have a good time and usually get left out of conversations so that I can nurse my beer. We didn’t invite them to the wedding (feel bad for it, but we didn’t) mainly because I don’t feel like we know them, or that we would remember if they were there. They just aren’t people that stick out in the mental family photo. (You have one of these too – when you sit and think about your friends & people that you care about, there are TONS of people there, but only a few of them are making “Oh!” faces or mooning the photog, and for me, those are the people that I recognize when I scan that photo, because they’re the ones that want me to notice them.)

Without admitting to having some sort of social anxiety disorder (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I want to leave clinical psychology out of this), I can’t expect to be one of only a few people to have these types of relationships around him. So I’m open to conjecture: what makes relationships like the ones I have with BH and (to a lesser extent) Timmy V. so uncomfortable compared to the ones I have with Shorty, Mr. Smith, Seth, Cermak, Bob, Choi, Moatzy, Sobotka, Charles, Priyesh, Danny, Dani, Erin, Meg? (Uncomfortable is an unfair word. But if Shorty, Mr. Smith, etc. are the cast of Christmas Vacation, BH & Timmy V. are the cast of The Station Agent. Or for a more direct analogy, Shorty et al = the cast of Friends; BH & Timmy V. = the cast of Monk.)

My first excited conclusion is that I’ve gone through very similar things at the same time as everyone in the latter group, and during that time we leaned on each other in one way, shape or form. Can’t think of what the psych term for that is, but it’s the whole “misery loves company” idea. Problem with that is that we didn’t just one day decide to lean on each other – we were ALREADY the sort of friends that lean on each other. Knock that idea down.

Second: drinking. But I drink, at times heavily, with all sorts of people and can’t call lots of them the same type of friends as Shorty, Priyesh, etc. Throw that baby out with the bath water.

Is it sense of humor? I can say to a great degree of certainty that the people I’m way close to are people I’m always totally comfortable laughing with, laughing at, or causing to laugh. But it’s not like BH or Timmy V DON’T have senses of humor. Though I can’t say that I ever saw either of them actually laugh to the point where they’ve bared part of who they are, or that we’ve ever shared a laugh that had its own harmony of hysterics to it———-
SIDETRACK: if it’s not already out there (Google says no), watch this ‘blog for a new theory on Laughter Harmonics – the concept of simultaneous laughter and its impact on social relationships. I believe that when you truly share a laugh with someone, you kinda transfer a part of who you are on to each other, and that makes it slightly less awkward to be socially present together. More later, now back to original programming.———-
so I won’t go so far as to completely eliminate the idea that our senses of humor are tilted just far enough off of each other that we can’t easily transition in the medium that I’m most comfortable (which is comedy… C’MON PEOPLE!).

But I also don’t really know what it was that Mr. Smith & I laugh(ed) about that has made us comfortable around each other. And the only other thing that he & I really have in common is being (almost) married and having (almost) wives that work in the building at 1 Post. Yeah, we’ve found similar interests such as Wii & running & great food & watching stand-up, but at least half of those things we found AFTER we got “there”, meaning wherever we got to that let’s us know we can just hang out and enjoy life in the same space.

I realize I was harping a bit about BH & Timmy V., but this does happen often enough that I think about it – it’s not like they represent an anomaly or anything. Attribute the focus on them only to recency of incident. But it is something I’d love to understand a little more. It’d just make me happier to know what I need from a person in order for us to be comfortable, hanging out & enjoying life in the same space.