Friday, October 18, 2013

5 things I listened to that make headphones worthwhile (that aren't music)

It's two posts in a day, but I figured why the hell not. I haven't done anything new in almost a month.

I listen to a lot of podcasts and radio shows and the like. The comedy ones are fun, but I've sprinkled in some extremely good ones that aren't necessarily serious, but they take more serious approaches, and can be incredibly emotional. This week happened to be a particularly good assemblage of things I decided to listen to. Here's 5 of my favorite, and I hope you take the time to listen to them too.

1.) "Yes, There Is a Baby" from Babysitting - This American Life
This American Life always starts upbeat, with a fun little story about the theme, and then somewhere it takes an incredibly heartbreaking turn, before either staying that way, or leaving you with a bit of hope.
Either way, it's fantastic, and this one of the best realized of the rough formula of a typical episode. Listen to the whole thing, but the third act is ridiculous in the best possible way. It still stands as one of my favorite segments I've ever heard on the show.
This American Life - Babysitting

2.) "Henry and Jane" - Strangers
Similar in style to This American Life, Strangers operates under that single, loose theme. What happens when people encounter each other, for the first time, or in this case, re-encounter each other on a new level? Henry and Jane had been married for a while, even had kids, before Henry suffered a dibilitating stroke that left him unable to move and talk. With the help of Jane, his loyal wife, he's managed to restore some sort of humanity to himself. The question of course is, is this a life really worth living? Is everyone truly happy? You may find the answers surprising as you listen to this amazing episode:
KCRW's Strangers - Henry and Jane

3.) "Papa Was Not a Rolling Stone" from Music Lessons - This American Life
Another American Life episode, another classic. This one is all for the first act, which is the incomparable David Sedaris, reading a story about his childhood. Sedaris is my favorite modern storyteller, and his timing, eloquence, and earnestness will make you laugh and make you cry every time.
This American Life - Music Lessons

4.) "Missed Connection" from Being Invisible - WireTap
Jonathan Goldstein is incredible. He constructs the WireTap episodes as if they are This American Life episodes, with what are seemingly real interviews over the phone or in person, interrupted by interesting, quirky characters live in his studio. Everything revolves around a particular theme and this one is very interesting, with some pieces, one read by Jason Mantzoukas. This piece though, I read somewhere before I heard the audio and it's a great little short story. It's called "Missed Connections."
You can read the short story here:
Craigslist Missed Connection.
And listen to the audio (as well as the rest of the episode) here:
Being Invisible - Show Notes

5.) Culture Is Not Your Friend
And finally, I don't remember where I heard this originally, but Terence McKenna's name came up recently, and I remembered this piece. The video added to it is pretty cool, so I decided to use this version. Enjoy!

A return to form

It has been a crazy few weeks.

I had to take some time off from writing the Blog for a few reasons: a new job, a new place, and that new place lacking internet.

So yeah, since I last wrote in here, I celebrated six months in New York City. It was a quiet ceremony, only the loved ones in my head attended, and we all drank a bottle of wine, curled up in bed, crying into a beanie.
I can't imagine being someone who moves on the fly. I really don't think humans are naturally nomadic, whether by nature of evolution, or it was just never a particularly advantageous lifestyle for us. I think connection makes it difficult. We want to have ties to somethings and someones, and we want to feel like we belong.
If I didn't have a really good friend like AJ in the city, I don't think I could've just stood up and done it. I needed a place to stay, no matter how crappy it might have been. Now, mine is not the worst New York apartment living situation I've ever heard, but it certainly wasn't "living the dream."
Most famously, my friends know that for the past 7 months or so, I lacked a door to my room.
If what we were in were a real house, the best way to describe to you the room that I was living in would be to say right in front of the front door, that weird not quite a room, but wider than a hallway, where you can leave your shoes before you go into the family room. Essentially, it wasn't a room. It was in the basement, down the hallway from the a/c and heater which apparently had to click on four or five times before it could start and was the loudest thing on earth. I had just enough room for my bed, wedged between a window (out of which I saw nothing) and a door that lead into the hallway where all the meters are. It lead an outer door which led to the street and it was broken. So needless to say I kept my door as locked as it could be, with as much stuff as I could put in front of it.
The rooms in Hell look like this.
My room had enough space for my bed and that was about it. For about less than a month, I slept on AJ's spare airbed, which sprang a leak. I went and got myself a cheap one which turns out was too cheap.
It's difficult for me to explain what happened, because I don't know how it happened. Here's what a regular airbed looks like:

See those ridges? They're like molded that way, but I guess over time, the air stretches it and they begin to "pop", so there formed this bubble. When it was just one, it was fine. I just slept on the other side that was still fine. But as the months went on, a couple more popped, and I was sleeping on this huge, uneven bulge. There was no comfortable way to lie on it.
Thankfully, I went home for a brief weekend in May for my girlfriend's graduation and got a really nice airbed from my parents that they'd been using in their apartment in South Carolina while my dad was working there. It was one of those huge queen size beds, normal bed height, and all that. That lasted me until we moved, but right about a week before we moved, it sprang a small leak that I plugged with duct tape.

I have a bed now. It's an IKEA mattress handed down from a friend's boyfriend, with an IKEA frame, and it's my only piece of furniture in the new place, but you forget what it's like to sleep in a real bed until you've slept on a fake on for 8 months, only now to return to an actual mattress, albeit an IKEA one (which I've never minded). Needless to say, despite it being my only piece of furniture, I am happy to have a bed, and a door, and a window that actually looks out on something.

On top of that, I have a living room I'm happy to spend time in, a bathroom I'm not scared to use, and a building that's not scary to walk to.
Moving in New York just should not be a thing. It's hell. Absolute hell. It's miserable and takes all day. The city is not designed for any moving vehicles, for furniture larger than a nightstand, or for a move to go without some sort of meltdown.
So yeah. I drove the truck all day in a city that was not born of driving like any city on the west coast. It's also impossible to park anywhere because street sweeping happens every day at the crack of dawn and there's no parking anywhere between the hours of 12am and 12am the next day.
Let's say AJ's slightly more high-strung than I am, and let's say that I enjoy pushing his buttons a bit.
The number of times we probably almost killed each other was astronomically high for it just being a single day.
But we moved in, and moved up in the process: an easy three-story walk-up, a wonderful rooftop view of Brooklyn (which is really beautiful when you're not in the middle of its squalor), and for the first time, I feel like I can breathe, and enjoy the world I now inhabit.

And part of that has to do with me finally getting a much better job.
I didn't hate Front of House. In fact, many times I talked about some of the other staff how, if it was paying what they should be getting paid (significantly higher than what it is), it would be the only job I'd want to do. It was flexible, relatively easy, and always interesting.
Despite my difficulties in La Jolla, I applied for a box office position here at the Public and got hired. It's been about a month now, and I'm having a lot of fun. There's significantly less to be stressed about here, despite having a pretty busy show schedule, that includes staggered start times (this week, we go to 3 separate matinees, at 1, 2, and 3).
I greatly prefer it and given the choice, I would always prefer being in a box office rather than working front of house, where people can...touch me...
The frustrations, at least for now, are few and far between, and even with the hectic schedule, nothing has been too chaotic yet. I'm looking forward to further adventures from behind the glass, and am grateful for the new opportunity. And like I said before, it's given me a marvelous opportunity to breathe.
Front of House, while usually fun, was stressful, not high-paying, and the hours were horrific. Even though I was more than lucky to get a job like right as I arrived in New York, I worked every single day, trying my best to scrape together what little money I could.
I hadn't planned well to leave San Diego, despite knowing well in advance that I was leaving. I left with very little money. I had to ask my parents once or twice for some money just to cover my ass. So I was constantly on the look out for something new, but it was remarkably hard to look for a job or set up an interview when I was working all the time. That's why when the chance presented itself, as sad I was to leave my newfound friends and the first job I got in New York, I had to "jump ship" and move behind the glass again.

NCT turns 2000 shows old this weekend too. With the more set schedule, I've been able to request Wednesdays off for rehearsal, and Saturdays off to do shows at least on that night.
NY's NCT struggles like crazy. Fridays don't do all that well, Saturdays do slightly better, and it feels like where NCT San Diego was a few years ago. I don't know that it could do what San Diego somehow (kind of magically) did and became a sellout show, but the cast is talented and funny, and the shows that we do manage to have are always good.
So I just hope there's a good number of shows still left after 2000. It's a relatively unimportant milestone to anyone but us, but it's still a good reason to celebrate. There really aren't many improv shows that can claim to make it to so many.
My home away from home is sometimes extremely frustrating, but rarely is it because I'm not having a blast, as I always have, doing an NCT show.

A lot of my really good friends have managed to make it out here to the east coast to visit for a few days, and it's been wonderful to see them. It's a nice connection to see important pieces of home in a place that doesn't feel quite familiar yet.
They, along with other friends I keep in contact with, have been extremely supportive and helpful and encouraging. For a guy who's questioning every single moment, that's unbelievably important to be surrounded by.
First was my girlfriend, Maggie, who came out to see her sisters and me shortly after she graduated. Steve, who's become a Mainstage player in San Diego on NCT, came out to visit and play at NCT NY so it was a nice afternoon. Then I got to see my friend Bradley for some drinks when he was in the city for the first time by himself. Then Jason who has, for some reason beyond either of us understanding, has become my best friend, and his girlfriend Petra came in August. I got to see Bennink after that, along with Chris and Haleigh who live here. And Joan came a couple months ago and even before that her and Ivy's mom Francie came out to visit and I got them tickets to see Shakespeare in the Park. Somewhere in there, Gracie came out to visit the city and Thomas, so it was wonderful to see her. And just today, I got to see Katie and meet her new boyfriend, and a mini-reunion of the College Team commenced with Christine showing up too.
And I'm still convincing more and more of my friends to at least come and visit me, if not just move out here.

That being said, it's nice to have a trip home to look forward to. I'm excited to see everyone who's there, and perform at NCT San Diego again, and meet Maggie's new puppy Nico, and have some San Diego food again!
I also get to perform an improv show with what I hope to be is another small College Team reunion. We did a show like this last year, to raise money for a well in India. And now we're doing it again, with a bit of a longer show, so we can plan a little more this time around. It's going to be a nice little vacation for me, though. It's weird to now have a vacation in a place that's basically still home in my mind. Just an interesting feeling.

I feel like Io being photographed with Jupiter in the background...