Going In Circles and the Actor

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with something to write about in this here blog without being repetitive. And then it dawned on me that it doesn’t really matter because so few people read my blog.  So then I thought I might just keep complaining about the same things I’ve done in the past. But when I went over all the possibilities, something even more soul-punching dawned on me: I’m bored. I’m bored with complaining about acting, and I’m bored with my bit-player career. And I’m bored with finding silver linings in my struggle. I don’t want to keep looking for silver linings.  Silver linings suck.

And there is no silver lining to the black cloud of constantly turning the other cheek in order to find a goddamn silver lining.

The other night I went to my friend’s house. Materialistically speaking, his house makes me jealous because he has all that I want. His windows look nice, his house looks great from the outside, his interior is all new with a great kitchen and dish washer and a separate dining room, and as if that’s not enough, he’s got this great man-cave in his converted garage. I don’t secretly despise him for any of these things and I would never lash out at him for being more financially…sound, I guess…than I am. (Nor do I despise any of my actor or writer friends who have become more successful in their careers.) The fact is I love this guy, and even if he has what I don’t, I couldn’t be happier that he in fact has. (I attribute this quality in myself to be the reason I did not find Bridesmaids all that funny, as opposed to the idea that it is a “chick flick” and I have a penis.) I’m sure I have some wonderful material possessions he doesn’t, anyway. Like my Panini maker. I love my new Panini maker.

But I digress. We got together the other night so I could watch the movie Boogie Nights. I wanted to see it again because I am preparing for a podcast I’m going to do about porn films and movies about porn films in a month and a half. I wanted to watch it with him because when the movie first came out (fourteen years ago…!) the movie made me angry and it was one of his favorite films of all time and we wound up getting in this silly drunken argument about it at The Chimney Sweep Lounge in Sherman Oaks. He was excited to watch it with me too, and for the first time ever on Blu-ray. He still loves it. And while it no longer makes me angry and I completely agree it is a well-made picture, it was still kind of an unpleasant viewing experience simply because I found it sad. It is a depressing movie. It is a movie about American sexuality, and you can say it is about pornography and therefore not truly sexual, but our current sexual culture seems defined by porn as far as I can tell, and not just hardcore movies, but the sex on the billboards and in the pop music and in the movies. And how does Boogie Nights end? With an immense amount of graphic violence. And that has always bothered me about American movies that dare tackle anything sexual…it always seems to end with violence. I don’t know precisely what that means, but I can’t help but find it depressing. My friend focuses on the movie’s postscript, where the “family” of pornographers get back together after all these horrific events to start all over again. And that’s what I love about my friend. He focuses on the themes of family in a movie about porn. I focus on the sexuality and violence. If I could be more like him…well, then I wouldn’t be true to myself, would I?

But again I digress. The point is, after I had this visceral emotional reaction to this movie I had seen before, I had a few beers and wound up talking to this poor guy until two in the morning. And it wasn’t just my usual social talk motifs, movies and pop culture and making jokes about my career and being a father, but I told him things I really haven’t told anybody about the way I’ve been thinking lately. I’m 39. 39 is the number that comes right before 40. And that’s got me in a place. I’m told life begins at 40 (which begs the question, what the hell do you call the 39 years that precede life’s beginning?) And if that is so, I’m tempted to give it a real chance. I’m tempted to wash my hands of everything and just let life happen to me. I told my friend this. And I told him I’m genuinely tempted to stop everything I’ve been doing. Stop the podcasting and the internet sketches and the books I’m writing and my bit-player acting career and even this blog. Just go out and get a job, any job, to fill the hours of the day, and just come home to my family at night. Accept the fact that I am not wealthy, and I’ll be scraping to make ends meet no matter what I do…so it would be nice to scrape by without all this thought, without all this fighting, struggle, whatever you call it. To just be.

Which is funny because I would be lucky in this market to even find a retail job, and retail was a job I worked before I made any money as an actor and I hated every minute of it. But if I went back now? Just resigned myself to the forty hour week? It’s like forty hours of prison a week and then I’m out on furlough the rest. I wonder if it would have the soul-crushing effect as it once did on me, or if it would be enjoyable to get back to. Just simplify everything. Make it about the bare necessities, and fuck everything else.

And you know what my friend said? And this is a guy who in the past when I have daydreamed about quitting acting has always said to me, “never give up.” This friend of mine said, “I know what you mean.” Because he does the same thing. He’s got a family and a day job and he struggles to work on his artistic projects with the rest of his time. But for him, like me, it’s always a fight. And the older he gets, like the older I get, that fight gets harder and harder to pull off.

Because we’re going in circles.

And then you know what he said to me? He said, “I just feel so damn tired.”

And I told him I felt the same way. And then you know what I said? “I just want to find it in myself to grant myself permission…permission to just feel sorry for myself.” I’ve worked my ass off, and I don’t regret it, but I have yet to throw my arms up in the air and do a victory dance. In my adult life, as far as my career and my artistic voice is concerned, I have never felt triumph. But I’ve always found that silver lining, and with it hope, because that’s what I was brought up to do. No matter what, never give up. But I want to. I want to give it all up. And I want to be free to feel sorry for myself. And then get through that, and just see. See if maybe the world wants me somewhere else. Because I can’t say it seems it wants me here.

But then, like an addict and his heroin, I’m terrified to give it all up. Because I’m terrified of what the world might look like without it.

And that terror…that is what keeps me going in these circles.

About this entry