Sunday, October 30, 2005

10... Plus One

So I was catching up on my blog stalking this morning when I came upon this reflective anecdote by the I-can-only-assume-she's-lovely-since-we've-never-personally-met Miss Blaise K. It made me reflect, more so than I usually do. I don't think any of our lives turn out the way we want. It's like Prison Break; you can have a plan where you account for every contingency you can think of, but something comes out of the blue and just fucks it all up.

I came back to Chicago eleven years ago with my mind set on being a comedian and writer. But all the comedy clubs went out of business when I got back. I also discovered that being funny in a social setting and being funny onstage are two completely different things. I went to my first poetry slam at the Green Mill. Ground Zero of the slam poetry movement. Enjoyed watching it, thought I could do better. Asked Slampapi about it. Turned out he's a bloviator: "If you want to be a poet in Chicago then this is the place to learn." Never was a fan of popularity contests or arrogant pricks, so fuck him. Came upon the Unofficial Soup Kitchen by reading a flyer at Blackout Records. Much more my speed. So I wrote and performed poetry with them instead. You can't make a living doing that unless you're Maya Angelou, a tenured professor, or a dealer. And my family essentially defines the term "po'" so I couldn't sponge off them. I had to find a job with a quickness, but having worked in engineering for six years I didn't want to do that anymore.

So Hello, Radio Shack! You sure as shit weren't the answer to my question, except for that one about the paycheck every two weeks. But you were a start. Old friends felt like strangers. Others I hadn't seen since high school became my best friends today. Made new friends, the kind that will say great things about what a stand-up guy I am at my funeral. Remembered I wasn't in the military anymore and let the hair grow. The first time my stepfather saw me with the long hair he said I looked like Lorenzo Lamas in "Renegade". But he was drunk and I was carrying my Navy weight on me.

916 W. Belmont was our epicenter. A party every weekend. Eventually we stumbled into careers and relationships. Some, like me, stumbled longer. It wasn't the booze. It was the insticntive need to keep the party going. Eventually stopped writing. Left Radio Shack. Got a job where I had to cold call factories and mills looking to sell off their old equipment. Wished I was back at Radio Shack for a while.

Bridgeport was the last resort. If I can't make it here, I can't make it. Seeked therapy after receiving an ultimatum from my roommate. Started figuring some things out. Tending bar helped me figure more things out. The idiocy of other drinkers made me cut down on my own. Fell in love with bicycling. Rode from Minneapolis to Chicago one year. Started writing again. Found out I'm actually pretty good at it. At least better than I was years before.

Eventually began to act my age. That brought greater responsibilities. Found out I have the tools to handle them. Started planning for sommelier certification and finally concentrating on the writing. Through it all, the friends stayed. And grew. There was really no need for Friendster or Myspace or Tribe when you can still shake a hand and engage in conversation with people.

In short, like Blaise, everything is better now. Except for the neocons running everything

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