I got some shit to say. And I'm lazy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Stonecutter

“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
-Jacob Riis

ed. note: This is not a basketball post. Swear.

This is the mantra that hangs on the inside of the Spurs locker room. In five different languages at any one moment, for all the nationalities of players that compromise the team. The team uses it as their guiding philosophy, which is more or less, that you can skip no steps on the road to success. Every championship banner hung was put in the rafters with hours upon hours of practice, strategizing, drills, deliberating over how to handle late game situations, and so on. Every free throw Manu Ginobli hits in high pressure situations came from 10,000 before it in the gym after everyone else had gone home. Or anyone else's. You get the point.

I find this quote comforting, even though Riis was a social muckracker of the late 19th century who was possibly sexist and racist, because he was referring to what European immigrants had to overcome to gain livable housing conditions and wages at the turn of the last century, before unions and the rights of the individual masses. I cling to this in times of bleakness, which for some reason or other seems to be the purveying mood of 2008 for me, although according to some, I am always operating at this frequency. I don't believe this to be true, but time will tell. What I'm trying to say, this whole ascent into my thirties isn't at all how I envisioned it back in Austin, in my cool cheap apartment, listening to Luscious Jackson, Lauryn Hill, R.E.M. and The Afghan Whigs, thinking both L.A. and N.Y.C. were mine for the taking. I got the worst possible news yesterday from my boss. I was called into his office, and as always, automatically assumed I was in trouble, because that is yet another mindset at which I have always functioned, only to be told that I had received, because of my seniority, a mandatory pay raise of 5% over my already implemented standard of living 3.5% increase in May. For some this would be joyous; if you knew what I make, and what little difference it would make in terms of my legitimate standard of living, you would understand my dismay.

I never thought I would be in the situation I've been in this long. I thought by now something would break, some turn, some rough magic, some Dumbledore would come chugging down the tunnel of my dreams and tell me the dealie', yo. Such are the thoughts of children and drunks. I am most likely one, but probably both.
Everything I do, the job I keep, the apartment I stay in, the way I just carry on, is all so tied into one another, sometimes I can't make heads or tails of any of it. I keep the job so I can jolt for auditions, of heavens to betsy actual work; I stay in the apartment cuz' its cheap, and allows me to make so little money; I have refrained from big life choices because...well, why have I done that?

As I was watching JUNO tonight (forgive me, I am truly the last person in North America to have seen it) I got totally dusty during the last ten minutes, what with the montage of the baby being born, Michael Cera rushing to the hospital in his track duds, Juno's dad giving him the 'mutual respect for the enormity of the situation' dude shoulder grab, Jenifer Garner taking the baby and starting a new life, and then the two kids winding up together as the movie ends, at least for the time being. Oh yea, and lest we forget the orange Tic Tacs in the mailbox. Jesus. I thought it was because the whole thing was so sweet and true to the spirit of true love and what not, but I realized now, as I've been working on the mix to end all mixes, it's a certain longing and anger within myself. And not just for love, although that's totally part of it, but more so for the stuff I haven't done.

I was supposed to have a informal reading this week of a play that's been on my brain for far too long. It wound up not happening because I got cast in a staged reading, and I literally couldn't get out of it. Why? Because I couldn't get off of work one day and wanted to have two days off during the rehearsal process. Having been so desperate for so long for something to work on, I wholeheartedly acquiesced on my reading and only asked to be excused from rehearsal on the day I would have to be at work. This is not why I moved to New York. Which leads to wonder, have I given up?
Not in any immediate sense, but in a real, subconscious way. Have I decided somehow that this is the best thing for me? To work at a demeaning yet velvet glove like job that affords me paid time off, medical benefits and the off but regular chance to meet and charm celebrities? And do I think so little of myself, my talent (in the abstract) that I had to, just HAD TO, act in this staged reading? And more over, do I think so little of this play I've written that I'm content to let it sit and rot, happy enough to be told by the few that have read it that it's a great idea and should be heard aloud, rather then barrel ahead and make it be heard, by actors I want in it, consequences of people's reactions be damned?

Well I just don't know.

I fear sometimes that I'm too nice. I let myself be told far too often what's wrong with me and let it bleed at that, rather than sticking up for myself. I do it with my friends, lovers and with the work I care about. Oddly, I have no problem telling any ole' anybody at work off whenever I goddamned feel like it. Maybe it's because I care so little. Although, obviously I do, or I wouldn't be afraid to play hooky. So why do I play hooky in so much of my outside life? I don't want decisions made for me, by any stretch of the imagination, but at the same time I keep waiting for a little hoodoo voodoo to come my way. In the last year I've gained something like 30 pounds, which embarrasses the shit out of me, but I can't be made to do the things I should really do to shed some of it, like stop drinking all the time and cut out the smoking. Oddly I have no problem going to the gym everyday, but that's only part of it. Not to be pithy, but this struggle, internal and otherwise, grows super seriously tiresome.

I recently read this book on a lark, and I have to say it was, while certainly not life altering, rather spiritually consuming. It deals with mythologies, both personal and universal, and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. It deals with the roles we assign to people in our lives, and the roles both religion and magic play in forming our worldview. It's also deliciously sweet and completely funny. I think it came along at the right time. It was written by this old coot:

and I can't recommend it enough.

I also just saw the fourth season of 'Rescue Me' on DVD, and there was this great moment in one episode that I was hoping was on You Tube, but no luck. What happens is Tommy Gavin, played by Denis Leary, goes to check on his firefighter buddy who has been injured and is on sick leave. He fears he is suicidal, so he breaks into his apartment, and finds him in a massive state of self-pity. He then drags his friend's sorry ass up to the roof of his apartment and forces him to jump. Of course his friend won't, so Leary then rattles off a long monologue about life, and how great it can be, and then how it sneaks up and disappoints you, and how it rights itself, and love comes through, and then guess what, the whole damn thing happens over and over again. More happens after that, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you. It was some really, really powerful shit.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, well, maybe these things are a few strikes on the stone of disappointment and things are coming around? Or do I even know how to pick up the proverbial hammer?


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