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Friday night I was bouncing around from thing to thing. I started my night at a birthday party and ended up in a friend’s living room very late at night/early in the morning, where I was made to listen to Swedish House Mafia while everyone laughed at the judgmental, scornful old man faces I was making. Somewhere in between I briefly joined up with four female friends at a bar, who were there to meet up with some guy that one of them knew and about 5 or 6 of his bros.
And make no mistake, they WERE bros. They were the khakis and free-t-shirt-they-got-from-a-thing set. They looked to be about 18 years old, like college freshman embarking upon their first frat party, or their first local bar with a doorman that turns a blind eye to clearly fake IDs. I was fairly shocked to learn that they were 24, because it immediately sent me into a spiral of “oh my god, I must be a million years old if they looked like teenagers to me.”
But this was different. They were young to me because they were a pack. A pack of wolfbros out to troll for some ladies. Here’s how a night like this goes down: Alpha bro will inform betas that there is a place where girls are going to be, often times “hot” girls. Bros will then roll as deep as possible to said place and divide and conquer. And divide they did, in the most impossible and clumsy of combinations: two of them talked directly into the ears of the least single girl (read: lives with boyfriend), two scrolled on their iPhones in opposite dark corners, one was putting some major moves on a friend who was just laughing at him, while a sleepy guy who was described to me as looking like “the deformed guy from Goonies” (even though he didn’t) sat across from them, staring into the void, having waking dreams about Taco Bell and his, I’m assuming, race-car bed.
I can’t tell if I was a threat or merely an annoyance to them, as they seemed drunk enough to be undeterred by anything when I arrived. I don’t think I was, to borrow a phrase from bros, cockblocking, because it was plain to me that my female friends were not interested in any of them, and had decided to hang out with them almost as a goof. Whatever the case, it wasn’t stopping them from swarming these women, who just laughed at them long after last call, until the lights came up and we all spilled onto the sidewalk.
When we were all accounted for outside, the bro-pack mobilized and started following my friends to their car. Everyone was laughing, but I noticed a slight turn at this point. They weren’t frightened, or even threatened, but they seemed a little more cautious then when we were inside the bar, with it’s decent lighting and dozens of strangers within arm’s reach. Their laughter and their pace more hurried, their smiles a little more forced. They were entertained, but their night was ending, and this gaggle of tall skinny baby-men weren’t tired and weren’t ready to say goodbye.
At the car, the wolfboys started trying to plan a second location, but the ladies weren’t hungry, or thirsty, or, if my powers of perception were correct, interested in sex with any of them. At this point, hugs were given out, and then taken, and then we were all in the car. I was parked a block away, but wanted to ride with them in case something weird happened. And it did happen. The ringleader started to get into the car through the passenger’s side window, onto my friends lap. Everyone was laughing so hard. Losing their breath. But he wouldn’t get out of the car once the joke was over. Classic comedy mistake. Never overstay your welcome. I started to softly say, “come on dude, you gotta get off of her,” and then a little louder, “okay dude, goodnight” and then he finally relented. As we pulled away, they were all standing on the sidewalk of this side street in Los Feliz, waving and shouting at the car.
Everyone in the car was laughing, having successfully been entertained by a bunch of silly, possibly terrible sub-men for the evening. I however, wasn’t, because the only other times I’ve been that close to a display like that, I was the one making it. I’ve been that drunk guy climbing into the car at 2 AM, whispering something through hot whisky breath, thinking that maybe if I pushed the joke one step further, or said one more thing, some girl would think I was the greatest. It’s a delusion that exists in most men, especially single ones. A sweaty, desperation-born delusion that can turn a fun weekend night into a mission. It’s gross to watch or reflect on, but in the moment, it’s just Friday. I said goodnight and went on to my fourth location. I wasn’t tired.
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and the truth is that no, i haven’t been writing here that much lately. not because i don’t want to, but because i honestly think that i have not been behaving or feeling in such a way that other people might find compelling. i think i’d be venturing dangerously close to the common person’s perception of what blogging is, namely “ate a sandwich today,” which used to really infuriate me. hey, i’m interesting and vital! i matter! and if i want to talk about a sandwich i ate, you better believe i’m going to sell the hell out of it. you’re going to know just how great this sandwich was. however, i can’t even think of the last great sandwich i had. i had a bad burrito yesterday and some great noodles before that, but that’s not anything. the real deal is that i’ve been working a lot, and i’ve been drinking cans of beer on the weekends, and thinking about taking trips to places but mostly staying close to home. i’ve been writing professionally and i really like doing that, and i think about all the great people in my life and how i’m lucky to know them, and how i can’t wait to see the ones that don’t live near me as soon as possible. how fucking boring is that? answer: trick question! it’s not boring, it’s just not inspiring me to write a thousand words. it’s not a story. it’s a life. and just because i’m living it right now, doesn’t mean i won’t think about it in a month, or a week, or a year, and want to write something really electrifying about it. something that would make my hands and your eyes explode!
you know what was really strangely beautiful, though? this weekend, two friends came to visit from new york, and on their last night in town, i watched them both instagram a sunset from my balcony. and it really made me think that we’re all connected. it was like that song somewhere out there from an american tail. except, you know, with iphones.
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June 4th, 2004
I was living in Allston, MA, and was walking to get a copy of my apartment key made at a place a few blocks from me. When I approached a crosswalk, I saw a brown sedan waiting to make a left onto a side street. I acknowledged the driver and kept walking. Suddenly, a beat up white pickup truck peeled around the sedan and collided with me, sending me flying about six feet back, hitting my head on a parked car. I braced myself with my hands, and after noticing that I was bleeding a little, I sprang up and started pacing around like a lunatic. Like “no problem here, just a minor set back, off to the key store!” A man came rushing out of a nearby diner to help me, urged me to sit down, and went to talk to the driver of the pickup truck, a man in a dirty tank top in his fifties who just kept repeating over and over “aw geez, man, I just didn’t see ya.” After I had gotten all of his information (which turned out to be 100% fake, by the way), I took a cab to the hospital, because my dad told me I could have internal bleeding when I called to say I was fine. A doctor looked at me, took a few x-rays, and when I told him I felt okay, he said, “well, tomorrow’s going to be a whole lot worse.” And he was right! I was a pathetic mess the next day and I could barely move. Thankfully, no bones were broken, but I still resent that piece of shit who hit a kid with his truck and gave phony insurance info in front of a group of concerned onlookers.
June 4, 2008
I was sitting in the driver’s seat of my little red hatchback. My girlfriend at the time sat next to me. We were parked next to her apartment, as both of her roommates were home. We needed to talk. We had known it for a while, but this was the most proactive we’d been about it. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but as we sat there for the better part of four hours, it was clear what was going on: we were having the longest and most surprisingly amicable breakup conversations in recorded history. Howerver, sometime around hour three, when I thought things were wrapping up, they took a turn. Thus began what felt like the second act of a John Cusack movie. You know, like right around the time he gets all emotional in the rain? Anyway, I’ll spare the details, but it got way ugly, way fast, and it wasn’t ‘til I got home, newly single and devastated, that I noticed it was exactly four years since the last car-related shit sandwich happened to me.
June 4, 2012
Bring it on, asshole. It’s been four years. I went out to a meeting earlier today. I drove on a street. I parked in a garage. I went to the store. I came back. So far, nothing. I’m alive and well and I’m not afraid of you. It’s only seven at night. I’ve got five more hours before I’ve successfully Final Destinationed myself. I don’t need to cheat death, I just need to cheat whatever horrible fate awaits me tonight. I’m not scared. I am older and wiser, and I’m avoiding all manner of confrontation. Also, I’m keeping to the sidewalks for the rest of the day. So fuck you.
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Recently, I’ve started hiking several times a week and watching what I eat. I’m not lifting weights or running (I made a feeble attempt and hurt my grandpa knees), or even really dieting, I’m just suddenly incredibly conscious of what I’m putting into my body and how I’m treating it. It could be my age (I look incredibly well preserved for 46), but it could also be that after several years of living in Los Angeles and working in the entertainment industry, I’m just trying to regain some control.
That’s all anyone living here wants: some control! Almost every aspect of the professional lives of actors, writers, directors, musicians, and comedians (I guess I need some physicist friends, huh?) is out of their immediate control. So much of this business is waiting. You can write the funniest pilot of all time, but the lag time between finishing it and finding out if someone powerful likes it/wants to buy it can be an eternity. You can nail an audition, but then you have to kill your callback, and sometimes your second callback, and even then you have to bite your nails and hope the producers like you enough not to fire you. You can submit to direct a film, sign on the dotted line, complete a shot list, and pick out your favorite baseball cap (directors wear baseball caps a lot, right? I’m not just thinking of Ron Howard? I’m probably just thinking of Ron Howard), and THEN find out that financing fell through and the whole thing’s been put on hold. It’s totally out of your hands, and it happens all the time!
I was up for a really crazy writing job last year. I didn’t even know if I wanted it, but it paid so much money that all I could think about was my amazing new life and my soon to be unlimited pizza budget. The hours were weird, my sleep schedule would be completely disrupted, and the nature of the job seemed vague and only tangentially related to comedy. But, I submitted, and once I heard that I was a “favorite,” I started to really want it BAD. I came in for an interview, completed some sample work, was told I nailed it and everyone loved me, and then… nothing. A string of emails followed, which were answered each time with “still figuring some things out,” and, “just hammering out some details, but everything’s still great!” And then, several weeks later, I was told that the job was canceled. Not that I didn’t get it, that it didn’t actually exist. At all. They had decided to go with… no one. The position had vanished like so many zeroes in so many checking accounts.
So what did I do in those weeks between applying and finding out? A lot of noodle eating and hand wringing. But since then, I’ve started realizing that if I can’t control my professional life, I can attempt to go inward and control my personal life. I can set goals for myself and strive to meet them. I can make checklists and physically mark off the little boxes, and I can exercise. And I’m now realizing that a LOT of people do this out here. I don’t think I’d ever heard the terms “cleanse,” “juice fast,” “raw diet,” or “cacao” before moving to this place. I’d heard of yoga as a punch line in movies about LA (LA Story was probably the first, actually), but never as something people I actually knew engaged in. All these pretty, neurotic weirdos are just grasping at straws for a way to feel like they’re not completely powerless to an industry that could chew them up and spit them out just as easily as it could shoot them to the top.
So, that’s why your cousin who lives in Van Nuys and edits The Amazing Race goes to a Reiki healer. That’s why your neighbor’s brother, the guy who dances with a kangaroo in that beer commercial, is on a steady diet of kelp and placenta. That’s why anyone who lives here ever engages in lively, spirited conversations about kale chips. Seriously. I’ve heard many. So, does this mean that Los Angeles is making everyone insane, doomed to live a life of therapy sessions and repeating phrases like, “is this fair trade?” every time we open our mouths in exchange for the possibility of some huge opportunity we’ll have to wait months for? The answer, I guess, is… namaste.
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The picture was of a friend of mine and you can sort of see her bra through her shirt and someone commented “sweet nips,” and in that moment I was REALLY hoping that the commenter was female. Nope. It was a guy. Now, I had/have no context for this comment. For all I know “sweet nips” could be an inside joke between these two people. They could be dating and that’s his pet name for her that she picked herself. Her shirt could be by a designer I’m not aware of named “Sweet Nips.” I doubt it though.
I guess I just got a gross image of some dumb dude/grown man refreshing his Instagram feed on his iPhone (*OR DROID, fine), and seeing a girl’s bra through her shirt and thinking “Heh, oh man! Bra time!!! You know I just GOTSTA say something about this! Because that’s something that I do! And that’s okay!” And then he did it. I don’t know. I think that everyone, regardless of gender, is pretty gross. We’re all weird animal people who get turned on by smells and want to bone almost everything, but the difference is that a lot of us can turn it off.
I hope sometime soon, a girl goes up to this sweet nips guy at a bar and says, “Cool shorts, I can see a tiny dong outline, bro,” and then flicks his nuts. Because you know that guy would laugh self consciously and play it off like a cool joke and then immediately sweat through all of his clothes and get really tongue tied and order a double Red Bull/Vodka to drink in a stall in the bathroom alone. That’s what I hope.
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So I don’t know if ADD is a thing. I mean, it’s clearly a thing, but how real of a thing? All I know is that I got up at 9 to write and I have spent literally three hours on the internet doing nothing. I watched some music videos. I picked up the smaller of the two cats that live in my apartment. I put her down because she bit me. I can’t get the fuck out of my own way today. I desperately want to get some stuff done. I used to write a long run on sentence to job my brain into getting ready to write, but I have decided that I like syntax too much to do that anymore. I’m struggling to keep typing but I really want to keep going so that I’ll eventually start writing the things I need to write. Here is a list of things:
Okay, now I can start actually writing.
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It’s like daring the universe to keep you from achieving happiness for the rest of your life. “If I say this out loud, there’s no way it’ll ACTUALLY come true, right?” Fuck you. The universe doesn’t owe you shit. You don’t have to go out and The Secret your way through life, loudly proclaiming, “I deserve to be happy” in the vitamin aisle at Whole Foods, but you also don’t have to take pictures of your Hot Pockets and write about how you’re in love with your TV.
Aloneness shouldn’t be a movement, or a meme. If you like being alone, fucking own it. Read all the books in the world, and do it without audibly saying that you’re doing it as a substitute for human companionship. That’s a cop out. Don’t get in a wedding dress (or tux) and get a marriage license for you and your cat. Unless the justice of the peace is a puppy, and then all bets are off.
Everyone spends time by themselves here and there. Some take a lot of time between relationships, some take a lot of time to start dating at all, and some never do. But most of them have the good sense not to define themselves via other people. And it might be funny to talk about all the “Pizza for One” you eat, or how you walk around with Cheez It crumbs in your cleavage because the only human you interact with all weekend is the delivery guy, but it’s really transparently covering up the fact that you are lonely. And you don’t have to make your whole life/persona/mental state into a sad sub-Liz Lemon joke because of it.
Also, go outside every now and then. That’s where a lot of the people are.
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It’s 1:30 AM. I just woke myself up. I tried very hard, and it finally worked. Trying to pry your eyes open in the middle of a dream (or nightmare, or any other kind of ambiguous mental state) is exceedingly difficult for reasons I don’t know.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had some form of sleep paralysis. It’s a sensation where you’re dreaming, and the setting of the dream resembles the room you’re in, even if only slightly, and usually it seems as though there’s a figure standing over you.
Just now, I was dreaming that I was reclined on a couch, staring at the blinking display of a VCR. I would drift in and out of feeling like I was actually awake, and soon I heard an alarm faintly going off. The next thing I knew, I was face to face with two figures, who were standing over me, holding an object a few inches from my face. I didn’t know what was happening, I just knew that I HAD to wake up.
Whenever this happens, I have to focus very hard. I have to just pretend like all I have to do is open my eyes, even though my eyelids feel like they’re being held together with superglue. It’s always a situation like this, where I feel like if I don’t pry my eyes open I’m going to die.
Except, I’m never in any danger and nothing is ever wrong. I experience a violent kind of full body vibration feeling that I can’t shake until I’m fully awake, but that’s as bad as it gets in the waking world. I’ve tried to read into this stuff and it mostly confuses me, but who knows, maybe there’s a book out there that makes more sense than my scrambled subconscious. The real story is that I’m writing this so I can be awake for a while before I go back to sleep. There’s usually less of a chance that this will happens again immediately if I can keep myself up for a few minutes.
Okay, back to weird, weird sleep.
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I took this picture with my phone. My fucking phone! My new iPhone. I have a new iPhone. And I have a new apartment and a new bed and it’s not a fancy bed but it’s comfortable and it’s new and that means I’m it’s first owner. And I have some great friends and I had a good year of work and I got to write for a television show and I got to find out that that’s what I want to do with my life and I still have other projects I’m working on/excited about.
And I have Louis CK’s new special on my desktop and I’ve watched it twice and I’m so happy that he exists and I’ll never forget the time that my friend Zeph and I saw him at the same club I started at and we had to stand and he did an hour and half and my sides and stomach hurt the next day from laughing. He was so funny he HURT me. And I remember he said something incendiary about God and someone gasped and he looked at them, then he looked up to the sky with his middle finger up and said “Fuck you, God, you can’t hurt me.” And that memory was so great and so vibrant and bright that even after probably 7 or 8 years I still remember it even thought I can’t remember my parents anniversary. I’m happy I have that memory.
I’m happy about so many things that they all gang up against the things I am unhappy about, like being unemployed for the first time in a while even though I know it’s temporary. Like being worried that I might be allergic to cats, after having just moved into an apartment with two of them. I am 28, I’ve never felt sick around cats, but now I sneeze in my own house. But you know what? They make Claritin and Allegra and vacuum cleaners and I have a HOME.
Any time I get sad or worried about this stuff I’m going to think about being at the Unemployment office yesterday, in the rain, trying to re-open my old claim. As I waited there on one of their greasy old phones, I watched a woman with a Disney Adventures backpack (probably free from the magazine they sold at supermarkets when I was in 6th grade) and the most beat up purse I’ve ever seen. She was BAWLING her eyes out because she left the purse in the bathroom and someone stole all the money she had in the world. It sounded like it was around $100. Everything rattling around in my brain felt so small.
Everything is fine. Everything’s going to be okay. Because the zit on my forehead and the saltwater in my eyes from a possible cat allergy will be gone eventually. In 10 years, none of this is going to mean anything. I hope I don’t remember writing this in a decade, but I hope I remember Louis CK flipping God the bird until the day I die.
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