Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s Eve’

No Complaints

July 19, 2014

Tuesday July 15th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I am by nature a complainer. I think most comedians are to some degree, and that’s a large part of why many of us are attracted to the concept of comedy in the first place. Our minds tend to go that way anyway, so why not pick apart life in general and point out the flaws and absurdities?

It’s hilarious when done right, and I became skilled at it early. I used to pick apart school lunch every day in grade school, just because I thought it was funny. It was funny, at least to the kids in my class. I used to get them rolling to the point they almost choked on the food, and that’s about the best compliment I could ever imagine. Killing a kid would have made me a comedy legend.

Then one day out of the blue one of the lunch ladies got in my face and said she was sick of my smart mouth and told me to shut it once and for all. She said how hard they worked every day on a limited budget to feed us, and then I’d walk in and get all the kids laughing. She said it hurt all the kitchen employees, and they dreaded seeing me enter into the cafeteria. I felt like a giant ass.

I didn’t realize that my bitching had hurt those ladies, and that day I walked in the kitchen and said I was sorry to each and every one of them. I told them I was only trying to get the other kids to laugh, and I didn’t realize that I was hurting their feelings. I don’t know if they believed me at the time, but I absolutely meant it. I still do. From that day forward I never made another joke.

Granted, I’ve done jokes about school lunch on stage but that was decades later and in another state. The chances of any of those ladies being at my show would be astronomical. My luck they would be having a convention or reunion in the town I was playing, and I’d infuriate them again.

I often use this very forum to tee off on something or someone that grinds my gonads, and I’m sure I’ve turned people off with that too. I would love to paint a perpetually sunny picture of the world, but from my vantage point I just don’t see it. There are circumstances that befuddle me.

A big one I am painfully reminded of every day is my roommate Sheri. What a horrible hand she has been dealt off the bottom of life’s deck, and it sickens me to see all the pain and suffering she is enduring. She is out of the hospital after her stroke on New Year’s Eve, but her life is hell.

I am delighted that we were able to pull off a benefit comedy show for her, and I see the direct result of it every day. She has a chair lift that takes her up and down some stairs, and our event is what paid for it. Most of us don’t need to think twice about going up or down any single flight of stairs, but Sheri can’t do that by herself anymore. It’s a major deal for her just to get out of bed.

She has nurses that come over on most days and help her do the simplest things, and she has to take all kinds of medication that is very expensive. She’s on disability, and some of her medicine comes out of that. My rent money really helps her, and I do all I can to help her in any way I can.

It’s extremely sad all around, and sometimes I look at her situation and wonder why somebody so nice has to suffer such a cruel fate. Sheri is a kind soul and would never hurt a baby flea. I’ve known her twenty years, and feel an obligation to help. Yet through all this mess I’ve yet to hear Sheri complain even once. I’d bet few of us could take it so well. It’s time to shut my yap. Again.

It's easy to complain about just about anything. That's a habit I need to break.

It’s easy to complain about just about anything. That’s a habit I need to break yesterday.

Unplanned Sadness

January 8, 2014

Saturday January 4th, 2014 – Normal, IL/Island Lake, IL

I had a strong feeling before 2014 started that it would be a year full of dramatic changes. What I wrongly assumed is that they’d all be as positive as the vibe I’ve been in of late. That vibe took a serious hit as I received word my roommate Sheri suffered a major stroke on New Year’s Eve.

I got a text message out of the blue from Sheri’s friend Debra as I was driving home, and I had to pull the car over so I could make sure I was understanding what it said. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, but I don’t think Debra would make something like that up. She and Sheri go way back, but I’ve only met her a couple of times. There’s no reason for her to play any jokes on me.

Apparently, some friends had tried to call and text Sheri to wish her a Happy New Year but got no response. That’s not like Sheri, and they eventually got worried and went to see if she was ok. From what I’m hearing that’s when they found her unconscious on the floor and called for help.

I wouldn’t have expected this scenario in a million years. Sheri is a few years younger than me, and I’ve known her at least twenty years. She was a waitress and bartender at the Zanies Comedy Club in Vernon Hills, IL, and was even the manager for a brief time. It was down to her and one other person and the other person got it, but she still worked there on and off for years after that.

The staff at that particular Zanies was and is one of the closest knit workplace groups I’ve ever seen anywhere. Those people were more like family to me than my blood family the last twenty years, and there’s something very comforting about that. I love those people, and they love me.

The last three living situations I’ve had were all with former Zanies employees who had houses and rented me a room. The first two lasted three years each, and that’s pretty rare. I can’t say that I’d live at Sheri’s that long, mainly because it’s out in the sticks and difficult to get into the city.

Sheri inherited some money several years ago, and decided to buy a house. She asked me what I thought, and I told her it was her money and she should do what she wanted. It wouldn’t be my choice, but that’s not the issue in question. She decided she wanted it, so that’s what she chose.

Over the time she owned it she got and lost a couple of jobs and had a few roommates move in and out, and she always told me I’d have a place there because she knew I would pay her rent on time and not trash the place – which was true. I told her the location didn’t fit my needs but I was still thankful for her generosity. Sheri was always a giving person, to the point of getting used.

That happens with giving souls, as I’m one too. There are always those few scumbags that ruin it, and that’s just how it is. I would never abuse Sheri or anyone else’s kindness, and she knew it. When I needed a place to crash at least temporarily in December, I knew Sheri would let me stay until I decided what to do. I knew she could use the rent for Christmas, so it worked out ideally.

I had no idea how long I would stay, but my plans were to not make it long. Now, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I have no idea how long she’ll be hospitalized, or how bad the damage is from her stroke. Hopefully, she’ll make a full recovery. Whatever she would need from me I will gladly do. If I have to leave, I’ll do that too. It’s all about her needs, but what a shock this all is.

I couldn't be any sadder after hearing what happened to a friend I've known for many years. Life can be SO unfair.

I couldn’t be any sadder after hearing what happened to a friend I’ve known for twenty years. Life can be SO unfair.

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.