Posts Tagged ‘Archie comics’

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.

Princess Stephanie

August 14, 2013

Tuesday August 13th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I am still working every day to pare down my piles of clutter. I took two boxes of accumulated trinkets and baubles to a friend of a friend that will hopefully be able sell it all on Ebay, and then brought a couple of bags of clothing to a Salvation Army store. Little by little, it’s getting done.

   I witnessed something at the Salvation Army store that disturbed me greatly. There was a cute little curly red haired girl of maybe six or seven who was with a war pig that I assumed had to be her grandmother. Judging by her sour demeanor, it would be a major stretch to imagine any man sleeping with her recently enough to be the mother of this angelic little sweetheart. What a bitch.

   She was constantly scolding the kid as they walked through the store, and heaven forbid if she wanted to stop to look at something or play with a toy. I really felt for her, and could clearly see the look of hurt in her eye get worse every time the older woman would start getting on her case.

   She was a little kid. What kind of harm could she do in a thrift store full of donated junk people didn’t even want anymore? So what if she would have dropped a glass or something. How much would it have cost to replace it, a quarter? The old lady made it seem like it was a museum of art.

   Unfortunately, this was all too familiar of a scenario. My German grandmother had a similarly icy cold domineering persona, and I remember walking through stores with her catching the very same hell when I was that age. I couldn’t touch or look at anything or have any fun whatsoever.

   My grandmother was a dented can herself, but it wasn’t an excuse in my opinion to turn around and be so cold hearted to a kid. What’s the reason? I’ve read where people do that because it’s all they know, but one would think it would be the exact opposite – at least I would. But it isn’t so.

   I remember having my infamous one on one with my father when I was 31, and he told me that he’d had a face to face with my grandfather when he was the same age and told him he was upset about the way he was treated. Then he said something that chilled me to the bone. “And I turned right around and did it to my own kids. Isn’t that odd?” Odd? Uh-uh. Uncalled for? Absolutely.

   It has always scared me to death to have children because I was afraid I’d carry on that hideous tradition that has been so prevalent in my family. I’m sure it’s in every family to a certain degree, but mine takes it to a high level. I can’t think of any relatives who got to enjoy a childhood filled with Hershey bars and Archie comics – which is exactly what childhood is supposed to be about.

   After several minutes of watching this poor kid get yelled at, I felt like I had to somehow break the tension. I wanted to punch the old bag in the face, but I knew that was the wrong option so all I could think of was to drop a glass on the floor when they weren’t looking and break it. That got both of their attention along with a store clerk, and I immediately put all of the blame on myself.

   “OOPS!” I said aloud as the clerk came quickly over with broom and dust pan. The girl looked up with her pretty blue eyes as if she’d expected the old lady to spank us both but I said “I know a good kid like YOU would never break something like that, would you? That was MY fault.”

   I know how that works from when I was a kid. Someone else screwing up was a relief in that it took the heat off of me for at least a little while. I wish I wasn’t so familiar with this concept but I totally am. Life was full of constant tension as we waited for what would set the old man off.

   I figured that I would take some of the heat off the kid at least for a few minutes. The glass that I chose was only fifty cents and already had a crack in it, so I figured I’d make the investment for the kid’s sake. I knew it was none of my business – but it totally was. I could feel that kid’s pain.

   “She’s a BRAT” snapped the old lady when I said the kid was good. I wanted to kick her in her two ax handle wide ass right there. “NOOO, I think she’s a sweetie pie. I know a good kid when I see one and she is IT! Look at all those BEAUTIFUL red curls and those PRETTY blue eyes!”

   I could see the kid’s face start to light up as I said it, so I kept going. “Are you a PRINCESS?” I asked. She laughed out loud and said no, but I knew I had her going. “Well, I think you’re the prettiest girl in this whole place, and from now on you’re my new Princess. What’s your name?”

   “Stephanie,” she said barely audibly and with a slight lisp ala Cindy Brady. What a sweetheart.

   “Well, from now on you are PRINCESS Stephanie!” I said as I bowed low in front of her. “All hail the BEAUTIFUL Princess!” and I grabbed her hand and kissed it. The store clerk spoke very little English, but she was smiling as she finished cleaning up the glass. The old lady didn’t smile once, and grabbed Stephanie by the arm and they went on their way. I wanted to cry right there.

   I took a lap in the store to gawk at all the junk, even though I’m trying hard to divest myself of as much useless garbage as I can. I guess it’s force of habit, as I’ve gone through thrift stores for as long as I can remember. It’s cheap entertainment, and I had a few minutes to kill before lunch.

   As I walked out of the store I saw the two of them in line to check out. Stephanie smiled at me as I passed by, and I bowed low in front of her once again and waved good bye. She waved back but I could see that it was irritating the old lady so I didn’t say anything else. I did what I could.

   This whole scene really bothered me all day. I’m sure the old lady had a closet full of problems of her own, but she had no idea that she was in turn making Stephanie’s life miserable and giving her unpleasant memories that would last a lifetime. That age is so impressionable for every kid.

   Who can’t look back and remember something that happened when we were six or seven like it was yesterday? Good or bad, memories at that age are very vivid, as often it’s the first time we’re experiencing something. How good did the candy taste then? How fun was it to go down a slide?

   On the other hand, how scary was it to awaken from a nightmare or get chased by a mean dog? That age is supposed to be filled with golden memories on which we build our lives, not hellish torture we spend the rest of our lives trying to forget. Nobody’s childhood is perfect, but some of us have it happen like it’s supposed to. Dented cans spend our adulthoods overcoming our pasts.

   My heart goes out to all the Stephanies of the world – and unfortunately there are MILLIONS. Most of us start out as that cute kid, and then life starts happening and we go our separate ways. Everyone reacts differently to both heredity and environment, and thus we’re all individuals.

   I don’t claim to know everything, and never have. I know that I struggle on a daily basis to get over many unpleasant aspects of my childhood as do all dented cans. Some choose to drown the pain in drugs or alcohol. Others become entertainers to become someone else. Either way, we’ve all got a Princess Stephanie somewhere inside but if nobody tells us we’re good we’ll never have the fun in life we’re entitled to. I do hope I made that kid feel good today. She’ll need it later.

The Cockroach Mindset

May 3, 2013

Wednesday May 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   New month, new motivation. I just finished slugging out a pleasurable productive month doing ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows, regular standup comedy shows and teaching comedy classes, but the money I made from all of it is gone like Madonna’s virginity. It was fun to do, but I need money.

   It’s SO disheartening when every penny one works so hard for has to go to non sexy things like speeding ticket fines or credit card bills, but that’s life – at least for most of us. I don’t know who has money to burn these days, but nobody in my immediate circle. Everyone I know is struggling just to stay afloat, and that has a way of cranking up the stress level and sapping fun out of life.

   Sometimes I feel like I’m almost there, but then I look at my bills and know I’m not even close to where I need to be. I focus on the journey and enjoying the moment and all that claptrap that’s splattered all over greeting cards and motivational posters, but at the end of the day I’m BROKE.

   Life can be so cruel and unforgiving, and mistakes from one’s past have a way of coming back like a cosmic boomerang. I know it’s worked that way for me. I’ve been trying to wisely handle my finances, but every time I start to get ahead a little a tornado comes along to wipe it all out.

   It’s not like I’m spending every spare dollar I make on “Hershey bars and Archie comics” like my grandpa used to say. I’ve been making a practice of saving 10% off the top of all I make like I’ve read in several financial books, but then a crisis comes along or a gig falls out or something else falls off my car and I have to use that money in a pinch to bail myself out one more time.

   A major problem with the entertainment business or being self employed in general is the lack of a consistent income. Some weeks or months or even years are flowing with cash, but then the pendulum eventually swings the other way and it’s all over. It never lasts forever, but during the slow times it seems that way. I feel myself headed into a slow time, and it’s getting my attention.

   I’ve been here before, so I’m not afraid. I’ve had to piece together a living my whole life, but it does concern me I haven’t figured out a way to reach a higher financial level by now. I know I’m better than this, so now it’s time to prove it. I’m backed into a corner, and I don’t have a choice.

   What I’ve been doing obviously hasn’t worked to my satisfaction, so what are my choices? I’m either going to change my tactics and make something significantly better happen, or I’ll stay the same and continue to produce the mediocre to poor results I have been cranking out for so long.

   I understand what the options are, and I’m choosing change. This is not where I want to be one, five or twenty years from now. Whatever I’ve done in the past to lead me here I intend to change dramatically and not keep ending up with empty pockets for all my hard work. This is a mistake, but one I think I can change if I make the correct choices. I don’t want to keep living like a bug.

   I reached out to a few bookers today to obtain some work for the immediate future, and I hit on a couple of random dates. That’s a good thing and much appreciated, but not something for long term. I won’t crawl out of my financial hole doing one nighters in sports bars, and that’s the rub.

   I need to take my business sense to a completely new and much higher level, and that’s hard to do after a lifetime of squeaking by. It’s easy to get into the cockroach mindset, but that’s not how I want to live anymore. I never wanted to, but I thought it would lead to a payoff. Was I wrong.