Archive for December, 2013

The Popeye Feeling

December 30, 2013

Sunday December 29th, 2013 – Tucson, AZ

This is the best I’ve ever felt on the inside in my entire life. I am finding it difficult to describe other than it feels like Popeye after eating a case of spinach. There’s an unbelievably pure energy that is coming alive within me like someone turned on a power switch and I am now plugged in.

I feel an inner confidence like I’ve never felt before, and my self esteem has risen dramatically. If I could bottle this up and sell it I’d be a millionaire by the time I got back to Chicago, but I am not worried about that. I’m going to be the millionaire I always thought I’d be, even though I am not exactly sure how I’m going to do it just yet. I just know that the ingredients are all in place.

There has been a fire lit in me that I never had lit before. I’ve had some great moments, but this feels like a whole other level. I feel like I’m finally behind the wheel of a giant space ship to take me absolutely anywhere I want to go, and all I have to do is fill in a destination and I’ll get there.

I’m thinking with crystal clarity, and ideas are flying into my head faster than I can write them down. I’ve always been an idea person, but now it feels like I turned the blender up two or three notches to the right and it’s now on ‘puree’. All cylinders are firing, and the feeling is amazing.

Whatever ‘the zone’ is, I’m soaking in it. I’ve been here before, and recognized it then as well. When I’m in it it’s great, but then it goes. Maybe that’s a euphemism for ‘bipolarity’, but I don’t think I’m going to get anywhere close to being as down as I used to get. I’ve addressed my pain.

It took a long, hard and rocky lifetime, but I feel like I’m right where I need to be at exactly the right time. All those difficult roads led me here, and this is the starting line for me to do whatever I’m going to be known for in a positive way. I am already known for a few things I am not proud of, but those will fade away as I get used to this. I feel like “The Jeffersons”. I am movin’ on up.

Last night’s early show at Laffs in Tucson was a perfect example. The crowd was rather snug, and in the past I may have gone off on them or even verbally insulted them. I’ve been known to do that on occasion over the years, and it’s bad business. Some audiences are better than others, and yes once in a while there are flat out bad ones. This wasn’t one of those, but they were slow.

Instead of launching into cocky comedian mode, I took a step back and decided I was going to give them my absolute best performance no matter what. If they didn’t like it it was their choice, but it wouldn’t be for lack of effort. I had to work really hard, and I didn’t get a strong response.

When that happens, my first reaction is to not make myself available afterward like I try to do after most shows, and just assume they were all stupid. I didn’t do that last night, and set myself up at the exit to see what kind of reaction I’d get from them – if any. I was blown away by all of the positive comments I got about how much people enjoyed the show, and I saw they meant it.

I thanked every one of them, and meant that too. I also remembered to offer business cards for anyone that might want one, and I quickly mentioned that I’m starting a newsletter soon and also write this diary of what the life of an entertainer is like. There were a lot of people who took one, and by the end of the second show I was totally out. Little by little, I can feel it coming together.

Whether I do standup comedy or inspirational speaking or any other variation, this will be what I need to do for the rest of my life. Not every audience will enjoy what I do, but I’ve been able to handle that for years. Rejection goes with being a live entertainer, and my skin is elephant thick.

What I haven’t perfected is the business end, but I can feel that falling into place this week. I’m consciously making it a point to talk about it on stage but not overdo it. Right around ten minutes before I’m finished, I make a quick mention that I would like to stay in contact with them if they liked what I did, and promised I wouldn’t sell their names to Amway. It doesn’t feel forced at all.

Maybe subconsciously before I didn’t think I was good enough or that my merchandise wasn’t worth buying, but I’ve always felt uncomfortable trying to push anything. I’ve sold CDs over the last ten years or so, but I never enjoyed it. Now I have a whole new view. I’m offering them their opportunity to take a little souvenir of their evening home. If they don’t want one, that’s fine too.

I guess I have never given myself credit that I entertained them and they might actually WANT to take something home with them or maybe even share with someone else. This is something to change immediately, and I can feel it already has. I know I’ve got a solid show, and I’m going to let people make up their own mind. If they want to take something home, I will have it for them.

The great James Gregory told me this several years ago, but I wasn’t ready to hear it then. My heart and soul wasn’t in it, but it totally is now. I feel it. James is a master marketer, and he told me most sales are made out of impulse right after a show. We have worked hard to put our show together, so why not take advantage of it by making merchandise available when people like it?

I knew he was right when he told it to me, and then he told it to me again earlier this year as I sat in his house in Atlanta. He doesn’t have to tell me a third time. I’m finally there, but what put me there was freeing myself inside and that came from initiating contact with my brother Bruce to initiate contact with my other brother Larry and sister Tammy. That’s what has been the key.

This is totally The Law of Attraction in action, and there are countless books written on how it really works. I’ve read or partially read so many of those books over time I’ve worn off most of my fingerprints turning pages, but it’s only now that I see that it really does work. It took one big event to open my eyes, but now they’re wide open and I’m seeing things with 20/20 clear vision.

I can’t say how long this powerhouse feeling will last, but it doesn’t matter. I know eventually I’ll have some setbacks, slumps and unforeseen hurdles to jump, but life is like that for everyone. What I’m so excited about is that I’ve identified the cause of what was holding me back so long, and realizing just how toxic and unproductive it has been. I’ve lost a lot of golden opportunities.

I also see that I’ve got a whole lot more of them ahead, and I’ll be able to use my mountain of mistakes as building material to construct my own books and programs to help others who might be having the same problem I did. Nobody I’ve ever seen or heard has dug deep into this topic.

Even if they have, there are enough dented cans to go around for us all. This goes way beyond the boundaries of just making people laugh. There’s depth here, and it’s taken a lot of struggling for a lot of years to acquire this ability to see clearly. This is how I always wanted my life to be.

I'm in a life groove that I've never been in before - and it feels fantastic! It's like Popeye after he ate a case of spinach.

I’m in a life groove that I’ve never been in before – and it feels fantastic! It’s like Popeye after he ate a case of spinach.

The Law of Attraction really works. I'm going to use it like never before in 2014.

The Law of Attraction really works. I’m going to use it like never before in 2014.

James Gregory aka "The Funniest Man in America" is my marketing mentor. I am FINALLY ready to listen to what he's been telling me for years. www.funniestman.com.

James Gregory aka “The Funniest Man in America” is my marketing mentor. I am FINALLY ready to listen to what he’s been telling me for years. http://www.funniestman.com.

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The Polish Princess

December 29, 2013

Saturday December 28th, 2013 – Tucson, AZ

I’m still riding sky high and then some from all that’s been happening in the last few days, but I’m not naïve enough to think my problems are over for good. Life will still go on – troubles and all – and I’ve still got lots of work to do in a lot of areas. The thing that will make it better is that I will finally have an opportunity to live my life without the tumor that’s been there for so long.

I called my radio friend Max Bumgardner to tell him what’s been developing. Max is a dented can too, and we’ve really bonded because of it. He totally gets my situation, and I get his. We’ve often talked each other off of the ledge, but today I called to tell him how thrilled I was that all of this is happening. I couldn’t get through it without weeping openly, but they were all tears of joy.

There is such strong emotion here, it’s almost scary to talk about it. These feelings run so deep I’m not sure where they end. These are feelings we’re all born with, and the need to bond with a family is something we all share. When it’s been amputated early, there’s a lot of damage done.

This all feels so good I can’t fully describe it in words. Even if it blows up in my face – and for all I know it totally could – I’m not going to let it defeat me. I don’t think it will at all, but I have a thick skin about it since it’s been a source of pain for so long. I assumed it would be permanent so this is nothing but a huge bonus. I am loving every second of it, and it’s been a blissful event.

The other thing that’s been missing in my life is the closeness of a family of my own. Now that the healing process has begun on one end, the next step will be to find someone with whom I can build a lasting love relationship. I’ve always been guarded in this area, and the reason is obvious.

That blockage is gone now, so there’s no excuse for me not to have someone special in my life to share my adventure with. I’m not sure who it will be, but I know there’s someone out there for me and I’m putting it out there to allow it to happen. I never thought it was possible for what has begun to happen with my siblings, but it has. If that can take place, anything else is a possibility.

When I was about 21, there was a girl named Kim who worked at a bank that totally did it for me. She was 18, and what a knockout. She had beautiful eyes, a mane of hair that always looked great and a dazzling smile. She was a Polish girl, and had a pair of pierogis that were hypnotic.

I was totally smitten, and would wait in line at the bank to have her wait on me. Sometimes the line would move to where I’d miss her, but then I’d pretend I forgot to fill out my deposit slip or something and go back to the end of the line so I’d get to talk to her. Geeky yes, but so worth it.

Through the miracle of Facebook, I was able to reconnect with Kim a couple of years ago, and we’ve written back and forth and even talked on the phone a few times. She’s divorced with two beautiful kids, and of all the women I’ve ever met she’d be my first round draft choice if I had to choose just one. She still looks great, and there’s just something about her that rattles my cage.

I wrote her a letter and told her of what’s going on in my life. I’m not sure what her situation is but I told her if she’s single I’d love to get together at least for lunch and just talk a little. Maybe she’ll blow me off, but that’s ok. If it’s not her, someone will eventually say yes. I’m ready now.

When I was 21, the hottest woman I ever saw was a Polish girl who worked at a bank in Milwaukee.

When I was 21, the hottest woman I ever saw was a Polish girl who worked at a bank in Milwaukee.

Life Begins Today

December 29, 2013

Friday December 27th, 2013 – Flagstaff, AZ/Tucson, AZ

Today was flat out the absolute single happiest day of my entire life to date. How often can one honestly say that? But it was. Knowing that there is a super strong possibility of me meeting with my three siblings after decades of separation and extreme hurt feelings has made me feel like I’m finally alive and on the same playing field as everyone else. It took forever to happen, but it has.

All day today my brother Bruce and I exchanged emails, and every one was more encouraging than the last. We’ve opened up the deep river of communication that has never been there in our adult lives, and I can feel the healing vibes already flow. This is EXACTLY what I’ve hoped for since I was a kid, and it’s a feeling of sweetness I’ve never felt before. This is my biggest dream.

It feels like I personally won the Super Bowl, the lottery and got a key to the Playboy Mansion all in the same day. I feel bullet proof emotionally for the first time ever, and I know I will never have suicidal thoughts like I have in the past. THIS is what was hurting, and I found the source.

The feeling of giddiness that’s racing through me now is pure ecstasy. I seriously doubt a heroin high would be able to make me feel as good as this. It’s like the biggest boil in history has been lanced, and all the pus is draining away forever. For the first time in my life I feel I have hope.

I honestly never expected this to happen, at least not how it has. It seemed to be the impossible dream, even though it’s what I wanted more than anything in the world. This means more to me than getting on The Tonight Show, my own sitcom or a ten picture movie deal. If I had to choose between the Packers winning every game they play from now on or this, I’d take this in a second.

This is where the pain in my life that has hurt so badly for so long has originated. I knew it as a kid, and it has bothered me since then. We’ve never been able to sit down and talk about it in any way, and there have been festering emotions rotting away for eons. I’m sure my siblings feel it as well. For whatever reason, this particular time is turning out to be right for us all. We are in sync.

It hasn’t happened yet obviously, but I’m supremely confident it absolutely will – much sooner than later. Bruce and I are to the point of narrowing down a date in February or March where the four of us can meet for a meal at a restaurant to start the healing wheels in motion. I am ecstatic.

Bruce gets more and more excited with each email, and says Tammy and Larry are up for it as well. We all need this, and it will be a wonderful experience to come together as a – dare I say it – family for the first time. We’ve never ever had that relationship, so this is new ground for us.

I was on an emotional rocket ship as I made the gorgeous drive from the Motel 6 in Flagstaff, AZ to Phoenix to have lunch with my old friend Pete Christensen. Pete is a really good soul and knows me about as well as anyone. He’s had radio and TV shows forever and is also a comedian. He knows my family situation, and could see how excited I was that this is all finally happening.

I got back in the car after lunch and drove the rest of the way to Tucson with the window down and my spirits up. It seemed like every song that came on the radio had personal meaning just for me, and it was uncanny after a while. The first I noticed was ‘Ooh Child’ by The Five Stairsteps.

The lyrics “things are going to get easier” resonated deep into my soul. After that Sister Sledge ‘We Are Family’ came on. I turned the radio up as loud as it would go, and just let the vibes flow through to my innermost core. I wanted to let all that pus from the past drain out, and it totally is.

This doesn’t guarantee everything in life is going to be “Hershey bars and Archie comics” like Gramps used to say, but it puts me on an even playing field for the first time and lets me become as close to a whole person as I’m ever going to become. This was the first step that needed to be taken decades ago, but never happened for whatever reason. Now it is, and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s going to open up so many positive doors. I predict that if I’m allowed to live and continue the life path I’m on I’ll be married or at least have a solid relationship within two years. THIS is what has held me back, because I was in so much pain I was never able to commit emotionally.

I also predict I’ll have a major career breakthrough in a short time – mainly because I’ve given up caring. My whole mindset has changed, and it’s no longer about ‘proving myself’ or ‘showing someone’. A big reason of why I got into comedy was for approval, but this is the approval I was really after. Why should I care what a room full of drunks in Duluth thought? That was all I had.

Now I have the golden opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with the only three other people on the planet that can truly relate to the source of my pain. It’s the source of theirs as well so this will be a win/win/win/win. I’m as excited as I’ve ever been, but also completely realistic.

We’re all still four broken and hurting people, and that won’t ever change. There will be scars, and deep ones at that. We’re all very different, and we’ve got to get to know each other as adults all over again. We’ll have quirks and soft spots, and we’ll all have to navigate around all of that.

I’m not saying we won’t have disagreements, but what we will have is a chance to heal. That’s the reason I’m feeling so exhilarated, and I know it will be a major turning point in my life. I had a similar experience with my grandmother before her brain was stolen by Alzheimer’s disease.

As warm and uplifting as Gramps was, Grandma was an ice queen. She was German and angry at life in general. She’s the source of a lot of pain and dysfunction too, and at one point we didn’t speak for about ten years. We got back in contact when she was in her mid 80s, and we forged an absolutely amazing relationship that lasted a couple of years – and that’s how I’ll remember her.

I would drive up to Milwaukee from Chicago about once a week and bring her a hamburger or Chinese takeout and she’d act like it was filet mignon. She never drove a car, and to her it was as big a deal as it got. She’d tell me stories of her and Gramps’ early life, and it was our best times.

We’d had years of anguish and sadness, but we ended up on a super high note that stays in my memory even now. I can absolutely see the same happening with Tammy, Larry and Bruce. We are all ready for this, and all on the same page as far as letting the past die and moving forward.

I had two absolutely MONSTER shows at Laffs in Tucson tonight. This will provide me with a secret weapon for the rest of my life. The approval I was seeking for so long I’ve now got, so the laughs I get on stage are pure. My life is about to explode, but finally in a good way. Stay tuned!

It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders. I can't put into words how wonderful it feels.

It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders. I can’t put into words how wonderful it feels.

The Merriest Christmas

December 27, 2013

Thursday December 26th, 2013 – Amarillo, TX/Flagstaff, AZ

This year is going to go down as one of my favorite Christmases ever – diarrhea and all. At the start of the year I made a goal of wanting this to be my best year ever, and it sure looks like I will get what I asked for. 2013 was also rough in many ways, but after today I know I got my wish.

I had about 100 funny Christmas cards laying around that I bought several years ago, but never sent out. I discovered them during my move last month, and decided to send them out to people I like and respect or that did me a solid this year. I also had bought a roll of stamps so it didn’t cost me anything other than the time to address the cards and add a personal note. I sent them all out.

I received all kinds of emails and phone calls from the people who got them, and it put me in a really super mood as I drove from Amarillo, TX to Flagstaff, AZ today. I tried to add something personal to each card, and it totally worked. I got the reaction I was looking for and then some.

I also texted a ton of people yesterday that I didn’t have addresses for, and that also got a very positive reaction. Just making that small personal contact worked wonders, and it helped to make my long drive a lot shorter. Hearing back from so many I like and respect made me feel special.

On a total lark, I sent my younger brother Bruce a Facebook message wishing him not only a Merry Christmas, but to hope that at some point my older sister Tammy and older brother Larry would be able to all get together and start communicating again. That would be good for us all.

Our family makes The Sopranos look like Ozzie and Harriet. We’ve taken dysfunction to new heights, and it’s the source of my pain for Christmas and all that it’s supposed to mean. We were never allowed to be kids, and our innocence was taken way before it should have been. It stinks.

I really didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to take another stab at trying to turn this horrific situation around. I’ve heard of siblings having ‘squabbles’, but this is a whole lot deeper than that. Tammy and I haven’t spoken in twenty years, and it’s at least ten years since Larry and I saw each other. Bruce and I were never close, and have been at odds since childhood.

The whole situation has been a big oozing sore for decades, and I’d have to think even Dr. Phil would scratch his bald head and wash his hands of it. There are a lot of hurt feelings and broken spirits, and we were never close to begin with so we’ve stayed apart. Actually, they stayed apart from me but that’s how it has always been. I was raised by my grandparents, and they were not.

This whole disgusting mess has lingered on into adulthood, and has been a huge source of pain for years and years. I’m not without blame, and never claimed to be. I had an enormous blowout with Tammy in 1993, and said some things I’m really sorry for. I’ve tried to apologize, but it has not worked. I feel horrible about it but that was the amputation of our communication and still is.

Well, to my delighted shock and surprise Bruce wrote back and said he would be willing to try and get all four of us together in a room somewhere for a chance to if not reconcile at least let the healing process begin. We’re all broken inside from our horrific childhood scenario, and only the four of us can relate because we all survived it. This will be something only we can appreciate.

Just the thought of hope that this long overdue meeting might actually happen put me in a place of sheer ecstasy. THIS is what is hurting and always has been, and there is finally some attention being paid to the source of all that pain. Comedy has been something to cover it up all this time.

All kinds of performers look to numb their true source of agony, but it’s never what truly ends it. Fame and fortune might help to cover it up, but deep down inside there’s still that smoldering little ember that can easily turn into a raging fire at a moment’s notice. That’s where it all starts.

That’s where it starts with me too, and getting the response from Bruce was like a healing salve for my psyche. He sent a long detailed letter and made some terrific points. He is very intelligent, and has had plenty of his own demons and hurdles to jump. He’s doing an outstanding job, and it would be beyond words to be able to finally develop an adult relationship with the three of them.

This is far deeper than comedy or marketing or anything else I can think of. I know I’m not the only one with a shaky family relationship, but ours has been unbelievably volatile. Being able to finally start to heal would be my greatest Christmas or any other wish. It’s seemed so impossible.

Nothing has been set up yet, but Bruce wrote back and said he talked to Tammy and she would be open to the idea of getting us all together in one place. Even knowing that the possibility of it is being talked about is making my deepest inner child do cartwheels and jump for joy. It’s what I’ve been hoping for forever, but haven’t had the opportunity. The time finally seems to be right.

I wrote to Bruce and told him how excited I was that this was even being talked about, and told him also that I was coming into this with a spirit of extreme humility. I don’t claim to be without reproach, and I’m sure I’m going to catch an ear full from everyone for the mistakes I’ve made.

I’m willing to accept that, and although it’s never pleasant to admit one is wrong it’s necessary to let the healing begin. Most of the idiots in our family were so dysfunctional they would never accept responsibility for their actions and that was a huge source of the problem. They were not ever wrong in their eyes – not even once – and blamed everyone else for every problem at hand.

Now they’re all dead, and they left their toxic residue behind for us to clean up. That’s what we will hopefully do, and it will take the rest of our lives to do it. It will be a process, but if we don’t start it somehow we’ll all go to our graves with giant gaping holes in our souls. This is crucial.

We’ll never have that ideal family bond I see so many have, but like a burn victim we’ll have a second chance at life. There will be ugly scars, but at least we’ll be alive to talk about it. We will appreciate life a lot more, and it will be a major source of joy for us all. I see nothing but good.

I can totally see myself getting out of the standup comedy game and not looking back. I’d still want to perform, but in a MUCH more meaningful way. Maybe I could be a counselor to broken families, or help others patch up their lives. I know we’re not the only family to experience this.

I’m giddy with excitement right now, and I will have a wonderful run of shows in Tucson. This may be the end of the comedy club chapter of my life, but I feel a much better one beginning. It’s what I’ve always wanted, and if it happens it will be the greatest Christmas gift I ever received.

This is how my inner child feels today. I don't ever remember it feeling that way before, but I know I love it.

This is how my inner child feels today. I don’t ever remember it feeling that way before, but I know I love it. What a rush!

Jingle Bowels

December 26, 2013

Wednesday December 25th, 2013 – Rolla, MO/Amarillo, TX

And what did I get for Christmas this year? Diarrhea! How does one gift wrap that? In my case it was in underwear, and it was the gift that kept on giving for most of the morning. I stopped for a Chinese buffet lunch in Normal, IL yesterday, and something I ate gave me the old rocket ass.

I could feel my stomach gurgling a little before I fell asleep, but this morning is when it kicked in and hit the jackpot. It was a bizarre morning all around actually. I was awakened by the sound of cops knocking on the door of someone down the hall. Apparently, an escaped felon was at the motel holing up and someone turned him in. There were four cops at his door with pistols drawn.

I’ve had some unusual Christmases in my day, but I must say I’ve never had this. They tried to get him to come out, but at first he wouldn’t. I was only a few doors down from the action, and it occurred to me that bullets could start flying at any moment. I was trying to think of where I’d be the safest, and I thought the bath tub would be best. Before I could go there, the guy surrendered.

I’d parked right in front of the motel office, and I was concerned about my rental car. It would be absolutely my luck that bullets would fly and I’d have to pay the deductible out of my pocket. It ended up ending peacefully, and no damage was done to anything other than the guy’s record.

I don’t know what he did, but by the look on the faces of the cops it was pretty serious. It took two pairs of officers in Rolla, MO to get it done, and I have to believe there aren’t many more on the entire force in a town that size. I bet none of them had expected that on a Christmas morning.

I wasn’t able to go back to sleep after all that excitement, so I packed up and began driving but had to stop every few exits to find a bathroom. Only Mr. Lucky would get a green apple splatters attack on the ONE day of the year when 99% of businesses are closed. It would be very funny if I didn’t have to live it. I don’t need any more jokes. I’ve got enough to last for multiple lifetimes.

Eventually the volcano stopped erupting, and I settled in and just tried to get some miles in the rear view mirror. I haven’t been to this part of the country in a while, and it brought back a lot of memories. When I first got bitten with wanderlust, I came this way several times in my travels.

Back then it was a thrill to set foot in places I’d never ever been before. It felt like an explorer discovering a new world. It was gritty adventure. Now it’s just more hours behind the wheel of a car, but at least it’s a much better car than I’ve had in the past. I used to take beaters on the road.

I’ve left several dead cars in several states through the years, and it’s a good thing I was young and full of piss and vinegar then. I don’t know where the vinegar went, but the piss is still here. I have to stop a lot more frequently because of it, and that’s another reason I’m not thrilled by this lifestyle anymore. It was new and fun in the day, but I can feel that I’ve matured a lot since then.

Now I’d like to have a different kind of adventure. I’d like to settle SOMEWHERE, and allow some roots to grow. Whatever I was running from or trying to catch all those years is not what is my priority now. I’ve been through the buffet line a few times, and I’m not hungry anymore. It’s time for dessert, and that would be a family and steady source of income. This is a farewell trip.

Diarrhea is HILARIOUS...when someone ELSE gets it.

Diarrhea is HILARIOUS…when someone ELSE gets it.

I would have been delighted to get this for Christmas this year. I'd have put it to good use today.

I would have been delighted to get this for Christmas this year. I’d have put it to good use today.

Christmas For One

December 25, 2013

Tuesday December 24th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Rolla, MO

Here comes the tough stretch, and I’m gritting my teeth looking to just plow through it and get ready for 2014. It’s only two more days, but these are the hardest of all. These are supposed to be the best days of the year, but for me they’re the worst torture I can imagine. It’s gas on the fire.

What would stop the pain would be a family of my own to love and that would love me back. I have been searching for that my whole life, but the older I get the farther away it seems. I got off course early in my trip, and I’m wandering in the woods trying to find life’s highway but I can’t.

I’ve always felt like the outsider, and I still do. Other people’s lives just seem to work out, but I have to struggle like hell just to survive. I know other people struggle too, but it’s a different type of fight. I never felt like anyone was in my corner other than my grandfather but he died in 1981.

Some unconditional love would be SO sweet right now, but I have no idea where to go to get it or I would have years ago. I try to help people whenever I can, because I know in my heart I will not screw those people over. I make an effort to be nice to those who I don’t have to just because that’s what I’m looking for in my own life. It’s the Golden Rule theory, but where is the return?

I have a very delicate psyche when it comes to relationships. I have a hard time putting myself out there emotionally because it hurts so much to get my heart stomped on. There’s a woman I’m totally smitten with, and she took a big steamy bowel movement all over my life and I’m hurting even more than usual. My self esteem was shaky before, but this kicks it right down the sewer.

I’ve known her for many years, and we’ve gotten along really well. Things were going so well that I thought she may finally be ‘the one’. She said she wanted to travel, and I asked her to come to Tucson with me and she said yes. Then she went back with some guy she was with before and that was it. She stopped talking, texting and calling and it was like I never existed. I am history.

All I want is a solid woman to build a great relationship with that can give me a feeling of what I always thought life should be and what I see others around me have. There’s some vibe missing that I must not have been born with, or it’s so deeply buried it’s not getting out there to attract it.

I know a lot of women that I like, but they’re either married or with someone else or they don’t want anything to do with me. Casual dating is great, but I’d really like to find one that I can build something with before I’m either dead or too old to enjoy anything. I’m not looking for a partner to eat oatmeal with at the old folks’ home. I want someone to be able to share my life adventures.

That’s not an easy match in my case. It’s like trying to find a leprechaun riding a unicorn at the end of a rainbow. I’m such an eccentric wackadoo, I’m not the average run of the mill singles ad type. I’ve had a very unusual life, and taken a rare path most never try. That makes it even harder to find someone that will be willing to be with me through thick and thin. It’s time for the thick.

If I’m going to do anything at all, it’s going to be in the next little stretch. I’ve paid dues upon dues, and the slot machine of life is full and ready to hit a jackpot. It won’t mean a thing without someone special to share it with, but right now that doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to happen.

I don’t write about this subject very often, only because people take it upon themselves to have to play matchmaker and try to ‘fix me up’. What a nightmare. They find the most beat up old war horse that happens to be single and think because I’m the ‘nice guy’ I’ll make the perfect match.

It’s a funny premise for comedy, but SO not fun to live through in person. I have had countless encounters set up by ‘friends’ that have been disasters from the first ten seconds. I can’t believe I am so low on their list they’d think I’d be interested in dating a sea hag like that. It’s a big insult.

My cousin Brett has a similar problem. We talk about it all the time. The women he dates have traditionally been psychotic nut jobs because there’s some vibe we put off from growing up how we did that attracts that into our lives. We say we don’t want it, but subconsciously we attract it.

I don’t want to go through analysis for years, because I don’t have time or money for that. All I want is to meet a woman that trips my trigger and wants to be with me. There are women that are one of those, but that’s not enough. The magic lottery winner has to have both. So where is she?

Part of the reason it’s been so difficult is that I’ve been constantly traveling for thirty years. It’s hard enough to have a ‘normal’ relationship, but put a full road schedule between it and it’s over before it starts. That’s one of the reasons I got into radio. I wanted ‘stability’. Ha! There’s a joke.

In all the radio jobs I’ve had, I would meet a nice woman and start dating for a few months. It would be going fine, but then out of the blue I’d get fired and have to move and it would be over. It’s been a lifetime of this, and I didn’t bring a solid family background to begin with. That’s the reason I’m still single, and it’s getting really lonely. I do want to find someone, but it’s SO hard.

Most women want stability, and I totally get that. Unfortunately, I’ve been anything but that as long as I’ve been alive. I’m never going to be a 9 to 5 corporate slug, and I surely don’t have the skills to be a plumber or a mechanic or anything close to that kind of gig. I live the creative life.

It would be nice to find someone in that field, but that’s probably asking for trouble. We’d both have the same strengths and weaknesses, and that would be bad. This last woman I like was not a creative type at all. She has a stable job, owns a house and is the exact opposite of my whole life.

Maybe that’s why I liked her so much, but it just felt like we clicked. I guess she wasn’t feeling it like I was, so here I sit alone for another Christmas. I make all kinds of people laugh the whole year, then they go have fun with their families on Christmas and I am alone with all my thoughts.

This morning I sat in with my old radio partner Spike Manton as he filled in on WGN radio in Chicago. Actually it was WGN.fm, but it will still fun. Wouldn’t you know it, the topic that was brought up was relationships. It was an ice pick to the heart, but I opened up and talked about the torture of trying to be an entertainer and find a mate. The crew found it funny, but I was in pain.

Then I got in my rental Nissan SUV and headed west for Tucson. I’m going to have some time to clear my head and think about what to do next. I got to Bloomington, IL and saw the stores all closing and knew those people were going to be with their families. I gassed up and kept driving. I made it to Rolla, MO and got a cheap hotel room. This is not what I envision Christmas to be.

"Dear Santa..."

“Dear Santa…”

Here's another one on my list.

Here’s another one on my list.

Ho Ho Holy Guacamole! There has to be ONE woman on this planet that likes nice guys. RIght? Where is she?

Ho Ho Holy Guacamole! There has to be ONE woman on this planet that likes nice guys. RIght? Where is she?

A Driving Force

December 24, 2013

Monday December 23rd, 2013 – Island Lake, IL

I’m getting ready to drive to Tucson, AZ for shows at Laffs Comedy Café this weekend and on New Year’s Eve. At first I wasn’t thrilled about driving, but now I’m looking forward to it. It’s a chance to disappear on Christmas, and get back in touch with my thoughts. I love the quiet time.

Driving across America is something I think everyone should do at least once a decade. It’s an incredible mental enema, and every time I’ve done it before I’ve felt cleansed. The last time I did it I was coming back from Salt Lake City to Chicago in 2003, and it wasn’t a happy time for me.

I’d lost my radio job there, and had also bought a house and lost that too. I had a girlfriend who wanted me to convert to be a Mormon, and she ended up dumping me to go back with some goof she was with before. That always seems to happen to me with women, and adds even more pain.

She didn’t think enough of the guy she was with to stay with him, but then after going out with me she decides he’s not so bad after all. That’s a kick in the teeth, but that’s life. I guess I would like to be the goof she goes back to for once, but that doesn’t happen. Once I’m gone, that’s it.

All that’s over now, and I’m just trying to make it through life the best I can. I hope I’m at least a little smarter than I was then, but I know I’m definitely older. I do feel my wanderlust leave me as the years pass, but I’m looking forward to this particular trip. It’s happening at the right time.

This trip is going to symbolize my farewell to the road dog lifestyle I’ve lived for so long. That was all I wanted to do when I started as a comedian, but I’ve had my fill. Unfortunately I’ve seen all the places I’m going to be going on this trip, and that takes a lot of the thrill out of it. It’s not a bold new adventure like it used to be, so I’ll use the experience to think and explore new options.

I was supposed to take a woman I really like on this trip, but she went back to some goof she’d been with years ago as well, and now it’s just me. We were going to fly at first, but I decided I’d drive to disappear for Christmas. I’ll be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on the road, and for me that’s about the best place I could be. I won’t have to talk to anyone, and I’ll be fine.

What’s good about it is that I can have some free time to make plans for whatever future I have left. Nothing is guaranteed to anyone, but if I do have a while remaining I need a reinvention as I move forward. I may still have to travel, but I don’t want to drive all over like I’ve been doing all these years. If I travel as a humorous speaker, I’m going to fly or I’m not going. I’ve had enough.

At least for one time I get to be in a warm place in the winter. Tucson is a wonderful place, and I love both the city and the venue. Laffs is a fun club, and the staff is really nice. I have friends in town, and it will be a pleasant experience all around. If I’m going to go out, this is the way to go. I’ll relax and let my thoughts flow as I drive south and get out of the snow and into the sun belt.

I stopped at Enterprise Rent-A-Car to exchange the Ford Fiesta I drove yesterday up to Harris, MI and got a Nissan SUV instead. It will cost me more in gas, but it’s a lot more comfortable to have to sit in for a long trip so I did it. I’m not going to nickel and dime myself this time. I’ve got a lot of miles ahead of me, but I’m glad. It will let me make it through Christmas one more year.

Tucson, AZ is one of my favorite places to both visit and perform.

Tucson, AZ is one of my favorite places to both visit and perform.

I'll be headlining six shows at Laffs Comedy Caffe this weekend and New Year's Eve. www.laffstucson.com.

I’ll be headlining six shows at Laffs Comedy Caffe this weekend and New Year’s Eve. http://www.laffstucson.com.

Gramps’s Watch

December 24, 2013

Sunday December 22nd, 2013 – Harris, MI

For whatever reason, I have always been pretty good at remembering dates. I don’t claim to be perfect, but I am better than the average male in keeping up with birthdays, anniversaries and the like. It’s just something I have always thought about, and why that is I have no clue. I just do.

Today happens to be the date my grandfather died in 1981. I know that 32 years is not a ‘round number’, but it was still cause to bring up memories we had together. He’s been gone a whole lot longer than I had him in my life, and to have had the kind of impact he still has really says a lot.

When my uncle died in January of 2012, my cousin Leah and her husband Rob cleaned out his possessions and came across a watch Gramps received when he retired from his job as dispatcher of garbage trucks and snow plows for the City of Milwaukee in 1972. They weren’t sure what it was, but they knew I was close to him and would probably want it. I recognized it immediately.

There was a retirement party for Gramps, and he received the watch as a gift. He rarely wore it, but I remember it meant a lot to him when he got it. It was also the symbol of his freedom to do what he wanted, which was get into show business. He’d put in his time at work, now it was fun.

For the few years left in his life, Gramps was a wild man when it came to chasing his dream of being an entertainer. He would sign up to be in any kind of show he could – most being put on by the Washington Park Senior Center in Milwaukee. He became a whale in a tiny pond, but he was as happy as I’d ever seen him. Being on stage was what he lived for, and he savored each second.

When Gramps was in hospice care, he told me he wanted me to have that watch. I wanted it as a memory of him, but when he died it got lost in the shuffle. I never knew what had happened to it, and whenever I’d ask I’d never get a straight answer. After a few years I just stopped asking.

I was thrilled when my cousin Brett told me Leah and Rob wanted me to have it, and I brought it to a jeweler to see if it could be gotten into running order again. It’s a Bulova Accutron, and is apparently a collector’s item according to the jeweler. He said the parts were rather expensive to replace, and it could cost up to several hundred dollars to fix should I decide to go that direction.

I told him it had more sentimental value to me than anything, and it wasn’t important to me if it ran at all. I was just curious to find out what it was and how much it might cost to fix. I had put it in a drawer, but recently rediscovered it as I was moving. To my surprise it was actually running.

Having the jeweler look at it must have gotten the parts moving again, but sure enough there it was working again. I set it to the right time, and it’s been running since. It loses a few minutes on a regular basis, but that’s ok. Just having it is a great memory of someone who meant a lot to me.

Tonight I had a show in Harris, MI at the Island Casino. I decided I’d wear the watch on stage as a tribute to Gramps, and it made me feel bullet proof. I knew it was there, and knew that I had a little bit of Gramps on stage with me all these years later. He would have LOVED to be able to do standup comedy, and this is a small symbolic way I can honor his memory. I plan on wearing that watch from now on every time I perform for the rest of my life. Nobody else has to know.

This is the watch my grandfather got when he retired from the City of Milwaukee in 1972.

This is the watch my grandfather got when he retired from the City of Milwaukee in 1972.

The inscription looks like he was in the Mafia, but in fact he was only a dispatcher of garbage trucks and snow plows.

The inscription looks like he was in the Mafia, but in fact he was only a dispatcher of garbage trucks and snow plows.

Wasted Worries

December 24, 2013

Saturday December 21st, 2013 – LaGrange, IL/Milwaukee, WI

One of the very best pieces of advice I ever got was from a guy I worked with in radio in Reno in the ‘90s. His radio name was Bob Garrison, but his real name is Marty Beimer. It’s funny how many radio people I know by both their radio and real names, and how totally different they are.

I remember discovering that at my first radio job in Lansing, MI in 1990. We had our checks in envelopes to be picked up at the receptionist desk, and as I was rifling through the pile looking to find mine I saw a bunch of names I didn’t recognize. They were all the real names of everybody.

People ask me all the time if Dobie Maxwell is my REAL name. Well, that’s a tricky question. Is that the name I was born with? No. I don’t hide the fact that I changed it legally in 1991. So, is Dobie Maxwell my “real” name? Absolutely. Actually, it’s Dobie J. Maxwell. I thought it would sound classier, so I added the J. Whenever someone asks what it stands for, I tell them “genius”.

Only about one in fifty get it, but those that do laugh out loud. The other forty-nine idiots think I actually don’t know how to spell the word genius and that ruins the joke. It’s too late to change it again, so at this point I’ll just live with it. The only exception would be to “King Of Uranus”.

How funny would that be to have that on a driver’s license or credit card? I wouldn’t do it until I achieved at least a modicum of fame as that character, or I’d be just another kook bag. I think it would be hilarious to sign a tax return or car title with that name, but that’s a ways off just yet.

I digress from the point I was trying to make about Bob/Marty. I was going through the hardest stretch of my life, and I was right in the middle of the whole bank robbery fiasco. It looked bleak to say the least, and there were no guarantees that I wouldn’t be doing significant prison time even though I wasn’t the one that robbed the bank. My lawyer told me that really didn’t matter much.

There were all kinds of horrific scenarios playing out in my head, and life was really a bummer on every level. People were giving me all kinds of cockamamie “advice”, but Marty laid it on the line better than anyone I’ve ever heard. He said “I know you’re scared to death, but 95% or more of all the things you’re worrying about will never become reality. Remember that.”

It was exactly what I needed to hear and it really got me through the jungle at that time. He was totally correct, and almost none of the terrible things I had feared ended up happening except that I had to testify against my lifelong best friend in court. That was a bad experience for sure, but it wasn’t nearly as life ending as it looked at first. Worry can add a high level of stress to one’s life.

I have to admit I was more than a little concerned about the possibility of rough weather I’d be facing today as I drove to my gigs, but it ended up coming off 100% hassle free. I made it to the afternoon party in LaGrange, IL and the people were really happy with the show. It was a big hit, and I was able to easily drive up to Milwaukee with plenty of time to spare for the shows there.

The audiences tonight at Northern Lights Theater were terrific, and were really into both of the “Schlitz Happened!” shows. I’m ready to take this to the next level, and excited about what 2014 will bring. Unfortunately it’s not what one prepares for that’s trouble, it’s the surprise problems.

Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman says it best.

Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman says it best.

Weather Worries

December 21, 2013

Friday December 20th, 2013 – Island Lake, IL

Hear that sound? That’s my bung hole slamming shut. There’s supposed to be nasty weather on the way, and it’s really scaring me. I know it goes with the territory this time of year living in the place I do, but I happen to have a lot of places I have to be in the next few days and I’m worried.

There are buckets of money in those places, and if I don’t get there live and in the flesh to pick them up I don’t get paid. They’re not huge buckets and they’re not filled with money, but there is enough at stake to make me risk driving through a blizzard to get it. I do hope that’s not the case.

Tomorrow I have to be in LaGrange, IL at 1:30pm to do an afternoon Christmas party show for Marc Schultz. I performed for this group before several years ago, and they were very nice. They hire a comedian every year, and they wanted me back. That’s very flattering, but LaGrange is far from where I’m living and if there’s ugly weather it could be a nightmare getting there on time.

After that I have to be in Milwaukee for two more performances of “Schlitz Happened!” at the Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino. On paper in ideal conditions there shouldn’t be a problem and I will make it with plenty of time to spare. Life isn’t lived on paper. I’m concerned.

On Sunday I have a booking at The Island Casino in Harris, MI which is near Escanaba. That’s in the Upper Peninsula, and that’s never an easy trip even in the summer. It’s a two lane highway north of Green Bay, and last time I did it it was winter and it was white knuckles the whole way.

The people at Island Casino are very nice to the comedians, and I enjoy working there. I enjoy working at Potawatomi too. They treat us about as well as anywhere I work, and the last thing I’d ever want to do would be to give them less than my very best show. I want to get there on time so I can relax and do what I was hired to do. Right now, I have no idea how the weather will play out.

Allegedly, the nasty weather is supposed to hit Wisconsin in the early evening and last through the night into Sunday morning. The Chicago area’s weather reports say if anything it will be later on Saturday as well. I’m going to be leaving the Chicago area in the afternoon, so I hope I’m ok.

But nothing says the snow can’t show up earlier, later, or even not at all. Usually they can get it halfway accurate that we’re going to have some kind of snowfall, and that’s what’s making me a nervous wreck. I need all of this money very badly, and I don’t want to miss any of these shows.

The biggest risk looks like on the way to Harris, but then I have to get back and start my drive to Tucson, AZ where I’ve got shows on Friday, Saturday and then New Year’s Eve. I have a few days of a cushion to get there, but not a lot. Who knows what kind of horrors await on the roads?

I wasn’t able to get a cheap enough flight to make it worth my while, and ones I did find were in and out of Phoenix so I’d have to rent a car anyway. I decided to rent a car and make the drive across country so I could spend Christmas by myself and not have to bother anyone. Again, that sounded great on paper but there’s not a lot of paper between Chicago and Tucson. There’s road, and about 1800 miles of it each way. I’m hoping I’ll be able to make it by Friday, but there’s not any guarantee. I’ll do my best, but Mother Nature has the final say. I’ll earn every penny I make.

Hopefully this won't be me in the next three days as I have to get to some shows with nasty weather in the forecast.

Hopefully this won’t be me in the next three days as I have to get to some shows with nasty weather in the forecast.

I'm fine with a White Christmas, but this is a little too white for my tastes.

I’m all for a White Christmas, but this is a little too white for my tastes.

Parallel parking is hard enough. Perpendicular parking is out of the question.

Parallel parking is hard enough. Perpendicular parking is out of the question.

These are the only blizzards I want to see for the rest of 2013.

These are the only blizzards I want to see for the rest of 2013.