Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hope springs eternal.

I have been in something of a funk lately. I would have thought with so many things going right, that the last thing I would have to deal with is being in a revolving blue mood. No, it's not the economy that bothers me, though it does impact me in some ways. It's not the stock market tanking worse than the Buffalo Bills did this season. It's just this odd feeling that I am not progressing as fast as I would like with my writing business, and in part that I need to get out of my current place of employment. Fast. Like, yesterday. Yes, I know I have expressed this opinion in the past, but the need to find a healthier work environment has never been more dire. It will mean giving up the nice, cushy environment of telecommuting every day, but at this point my mental health is of far greater importance. I'm just sick of my brain turning to goo every night that I log on to my work VPN and deal with the same stuff over, and over and over.

To that end, I have stepped up my job search efforts through relentless networking. I did get hooked up with a recruiter who was very supportive, and very impressed with my resume. They specialize in IT and healthcare, and this was the first recruiter that I have ever met that truly seemed personally interested in helping me. I need to follow-up with her today or tomorrow, but I am somewhat hopeful that she will be able to crack open some doors in places that I have not been able to get into in the past.

I also have needed to step up my business efforts. It's been a difficult transition to learn how to be a businessman, and I know a lot of it is my fault. I have been concentrating far more on the writing aspect, which is no less important, but I also need to concentrate on how to effectively market myself. I'm going to start next week by attending a local networking organization for small businesses to try and make more contacts and get better ideas.

I found some inspiration in my friend Sonia. She is a dynamic British transplant that has been living here in Rochester for many years, though she did a stint in Atlanta for a few years. She moved back here after deciding that two hour commutes was just not her thing anymore. Sonia was big in the PR community and film community here, as well as having an incredibly good outlook on life. We talked a lot about self-motivation, how we change and mature through different stages of life, and that she is going to use whatever contacts she has to try and help me out. We met at a local Starbucks, and between her and the cup of Sidamo, it was a much needed shot in the arm.

I have accomplished a great deal in the past year or so. I gained a great deal of traction in taking charge of my life again, like I used back in NYC. I lost a lot of that drive over the past few years, and worked like a dog to get it back.

I don't want to lose that momentum. I think it is time for a retread.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The night sportsmanship and humanity were revived.

A-Rod admits to steroid use. Fighting in hockey games is epidemic. Parents at Little League games beat up on each other. Large salaries, bigger egos. Welcome to sports, 2009. While this is not a new phenomenon, it still makes one long for the days when playing for the love of the game, whatever it was, and not only the money, was what made sports so good. Even the most dedicated fan has an edge of cynicism about the state of sports.

However, every once in a while, a story comes along that restores your faith, even if it is only for the moment. I can't say anything more than what has been reported here, so read on and enjoy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Under normal circumstances, the title of this post would refer to chocolate, today being Valentine's Day. For the pessimistic amongst us, they view this holiday as a contrivance, something made up so that certain corporations, the greeting card industry amongst them, can increase their profit margin. For the romantics of the world, this is their day to celebrate. For me, it is a day that results in an emotional rollercoaster. On this day, in 1988, my dad died.

In 1984, I was in my junior year at college. I was living off campus at the time, right outside downtown Buffalo. It was a great apartment, though far removed from campus life. It was a Saturday morning in April, and I got an early morning phone call from my mom. Dad had a heart attack. I still remember very vividly slumping to the floor, overcome with emotion. I was working as a paramedic part time while away at school. They say too much knowledge can be a bad thing. In my case, it turned my life at that moment into a horror show.

My first reaction was to hop in my car and run down home, but my dad was not having any of it. He told me, through my mom, that he didn't want me coming. He said he was okay, and didn't want me to lose any time in school. I was extremely conflicted, but acquiesced to his wishes. However about four days later , though he was stable, it was determined that he would need double-bypass cardiac surgery. This time, I was the one not having any of it, and I told my mom I was coming down. "Don't tell him I'm coming if it is going to upset him." I said.

Driving down, as it turns out wasn't an option, so I quickly arranged to fly out of Buffalo into Newark. My brother picked me up, and we went to the hospital the day of the surgery. It went well, and he came out of it with flying colors. During the surgery however, he did need to have a unit of blood transfused. Not unusual for this surgery. Unfortunately, this was 1984, and in 1984, having a blood transfusion was anything but normal.

The signs of it should have been obvious to me. Denial is a powerful tool, and I probably was using it far more unconsciously that I would have cared to admit. It wasn't until a short time before he died that reality came crashing down.

Dad had AIDS. He contracted it in the transfusion. It was six months before the screen had come out. It was now 1988, and he was laying in a hospital bed, on a ventilator after going into cardiac arrest while undergoing a bronchoscopy. They revived his body, but his mind was gone. On February 13th, I kissed him good-bye for the last time. I went home, (I had graduated and was working in Brooklyn at this point.) crawled into bed, and was awakened by my brother the following morning. Dad died around 6 am, Valentine's Day, 1988.

It would forever alter what should be, under normal circumstances, a pretty happy day.

Last year was the worst it had been in a very long time. Twenty years was a bit of a milestone. This year was was better. Mrs. Nighttime and I went to dinner at a great Italian place near our home last night, and tonight we went to an improv comedy show that had a couple of friends performing in it. It was a good way to keep my mind off of it, not that I was forgetting about dad, but trying to counteract the sadness that in the past has overtaken me. Dad loved a good laugh, gave me some of my best jokes, so I think it was a rather appropriate thing to do.

So, the bittersweet feeling may not be from the chocolate that is consumed today, but it does have the same effect. In the end, you accept it for what it is, and try to enjoy the good parts, the parts that satisfy.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Broadcast me a joyful noise.

" We're sick of being jerked around
We all fall down."

I have a friend I will call "Sam." Sam is one of those people that look at life as something that is constantly out to get him. Mind you, he's had some rough going in recent years; multiple moves within a 2-3 year period, a job that he thought was going to be far better than it is, and dealing with a whole host of other ills. He's a friend that I have needed to step back from a bit, especially after a nasty incident last year that tested my patience. I can be a very loyal friend, but when I feel that friendship is being abused, I do not take it well.

All this aside, he is simply not an optimistic individual. It is not in his make-up, and therein lies the problem. Negativity. It seems as though over the past several years, I have been encountered too many people in my life that are of the "glass half empty" variety. It is especially difficult when I am trying hard to keep focus on carving out a new career, or rather an old passion that is turning into a new career.

The yin and yang that is life requires us to accept that which is inevitable; people in our lives come and go. They can energize us or depress us, but it is how we react to it that molds our outlook. I think that what partially fueled my depression in past years was the fact that all too often I paid too much heed to those that swung too far in the direction of that which is dark. It was easy, as misery does indeed love company. There was a certain solace in the fact that others were in an even more screwed up state than I was, which is pretty amazing looking back on it from a distance.

"Its been a bad day.
Please dont take a picture
Its been a bad day.

After going through my illness and transplant experience, you might think that it should be easy to look at life more positively, and on the whole, I do. Coming close to death (twice now, actually) made me understand that truth that I always knew, but never fully realized; life is fleeting. Enjoy your life now. One of my heroes, Joseph Campbell was asked by Bill Moyers, "You mean you are describing the search for the meaning of life?" "No." was Campbell's reply.
"I think that what we're searching for is an experience of being alive."

I think that this is what has allowed me to shift my view of who I am keeping company with these days. I don't deny the existence of the negative elements of my life, as this would be too Pollyana-ish of me. It would also go against the realistic, cynical part of my nature, which helps keep my common sense in tune. I do think though that it is far more important for me to maintain and nurture those friendships that help me keep focused on the energy that is positive, that will drive me towards making what I want to do a reality.

"Broadcast me a joyful noise unto the times, lord,
Count your blessings."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I feel guilty.

Is it normal for bloggers to feel guilty for not posting as often as they were in the past? It certainly isn't by choice on my part. I just have been so busy over the past two weeks, that every time I sit down to write something, my brain freezes, and I am not really sure what I want to write about. One thing is for sure; I must be hallucinating. I could swear when I sat down in front of the computer the other day, I heard it say to me (in a Jewish mother kind of way), "Nu? You couldn't pick up the keyboard and blog a little? What am I, chopped liver?"

Either I was dreaming when I thought I heard this, or I need to up the meds.

Well, let's see; on the good news front, that friend of mine, the actor who was let go from the improv troop, has just about secured an interview for a professor position at the local community college for early childhood development. I helped edit her teaching philosophy statement, and I'm crossing my fingers for her. Everyone who knows what happened to her was shocked, and I think it is going to hit the fan at that improv team. They need more oversight from the theatre they work out of, and this might be the straw that has broken the camel's back.

However, she has also invited me to help her teach an acting class for adults and another for high school kids. The one for high school kids came out of a discussion we had one day where we both agreed that doing the school play isn't really learning how to act. Most high school kids aren't taught the tools of acting; how to break down a scene, what is an action, what is an objective, how to stay "in the moment." This will be a first for me, but she feels I am ready to go for it.

It is 3:16 in the very early morning here, so I am off to bed.