Posts Tagged ‘Sears’

Embracing The Struggle

June 23, 2014

Friday June 20th, 2014 – Sparta, WI

Yet another life lesson I continue to learn is that life lessons never stop at any age – and neither do problems. I’m sure my grandfather told me that at some point in my youth, but I was probably preoccupied with thinking I would be the exception to the rule and missed it. We all think that.

When we’re kids, we assume that life gets better and at some point everything is problem free. I remember being around seven or eight and knowing a couple of families in our neighborhood that had a house full of kids that were all older than me. The Lutes family lived on my block and the McCauleys lived across the street. They were friendly to me, and I knew most of them well.

I still remember walking around in the neighborhood talking with them and thinking how great their lives were. They all seemed so much older and fully matured at the time, but in reality they totally weren’t. They were regular people going through the same problems everybody else does.

Tim Lutes worked at Sears. I remember thinking he was a borderline celebrity because I’d seen him there on the sales floor with his name badge on when my grandparents were shopping. I was really impressed, and in my mind he had totally ‘made it’. He could buy all the candy he wanted.

His brother Cliff was into cars, and that was my greatest love besides sports. Cliff would work on his old Ford Fairlane in the driveway, and I would often wander over and keep him company. Looking back, he had the patience of a saint and would answer my deep probing dumb questions about how cars worked. He could have chased me away, but he didn’t. I thought he was a genius.

The McCauleys were my sports connection, and they were the first ones to let me play in their baseball games. I’m still not sure how many there were, but I do know they were all boys. I liked them all, and again they didn’t have to be nice to me but they were. They showed me how to not bat cross handed, and how to field a ground ball correctly. To me, they were all sports superstars.

They were all bigger than me, and could run faster, throw harder and hit better. I assumed they would all not only play Major League Baseball, but end up in the Hall of Fame. In reality, it was just a bunch of average kids that played baseball in summer just like the kids everywhere else.

Tim Lutes was never named CEO of Sears, nor was Cliff at Ford. None of the McCauleys ever played Major League Baseball, and as far as I know they’re all still alive and facing the same life problems everyone else does. They might be different problems, but they still need to be solved.

If and when they are, there will be a whole new set just around the corner and the process starts all over again. It’s the perpetual pile of problems that wear us all down, and I don’t see anything on the horizon to break the chain other than death. And who knows if that’s the end of the line?

The current lesson I am in the process of learning is that I will always have problems, and that I might as well learn to embrace them. The obstacles I faced as a kid seem pretty tame compared to what I’ve gone through in just these past few months, but they seemed insurmountable then.

I didn’t realize all I had going for me along with what I was trying to overcome, and I see now that none of us ever are without struggles – at least not for very long. Life is process of perpetual change and evolution, and then we each have to make our individual adjustments accordingly. It may not be fair, but that’s just the way life works. I’m receiving a new batch of problems. Yay!

Welcome to life, where everyone has problems to overcome. NO exceptions.

Welcome to life, where everyone has problems. NO exceptions.

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March 25, 2014

Monday March 24th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I know I’m supposed to be showing inner grit and mental toughness right about now, but one’s lowest point is the hardest time to do that. All the Hallmark cards in the world can’t disguise the fact that I’m in a major funk right now, and all the “hang in theres” there are aren’t helping any.

I’m trying hard to objectively examine what set me off and when, and I’m tracing it back to my birthday weekend in Springfield, IL at Donnie B’s Comedy Club. I love working with Donnie B, but it was a slow weekend in a grubby town and that started it. I knew it was the last little run of a spurt of decent work, and I hoped it would be a busy week of jam packed hot shows. It wasn’t.

I know it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and all that. Blah blah blah. I’ve heard excuses for an entire lifetime, and it just gets old. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere on a hot weekend. It’s either the off season, a holiday or the weather screws us, blah blah blah. I’m sick of hearing it all.

This is the time to exhibit mental toughness, but it’s exactly the most difficult time to remain in a positive mindset. There are times when I feel bullet proof and can walk through walls no matter what obstacles I may be facing. Then there are times when I can be knocked over with a feather.

I’m in one of the feather times right now, and that always scares me. No matter who tries to tell me I have even the slightest hint of self worth, I am not able to see it for the life of me. I just feel pain. The scariest thing of all is I thought I found where the source of the pain was coming from.

I guess it was only a part of it. I’m thrilled I was able to get back in touch with my siblings, but there are still a few other holes to fill apparently. That was beyond huge, but now I’ve got to sort out what I’m going to do to survive physically. It boils down to money, and I’m not making any.

My DNA is wired for me to be a creative entity. Period. Working at a ‘real job’ would send me over the edge in two weeks or less. It always has. I hated every job I ever had in high school, and my father, grandmother and even my beloved Gramps used to get on me about being a lazy bum.

Ha! Far from it. I just never wanted to waste my time counting mufflers at Sears (which I really did for several torturous weeks in high school) or working at a fast food greasery or anything but being an entertainer. I love the process of being on stage or on the air – and that’s what I do best.

If someone would just leave me alone to create, I’ll be fine. Every radio job I’ve had has come to an end because some pinhead in management decides to tweak something that doesn’t need to be tweaked, and I’m out. Comedy is the same way. I’m banned from places by people that never took time to know me personally. They only heard about something I did second and third hand, but that was enough to vaporize me from their venues into perpetuity. Stability is only a dream.

Wait, I take that back. Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago have been one of the very few places that have backed off and let me do my thing. The results? ZERO problems! Gee, who’d a thunk it? I show up, do my job – very well – and go home. No issues. No politics. No hassles. I love it.

The rest of life doesn’t seem to be able to figure that out, and I’m getting sicker of trying by the day. I’ve never thought I was better than anyone, and I still don’t. I realize I’m one of those artsy fartsy creative types, but it’s who I am and I can’t help it. I wasn’t made to manage a Walmart.

I regularly have self righteous pompous crusaders telling me to “stop being so negative in your blog.” Sorry, but I don’t think it’s their business or anyone else’s. I write about what I feel inside, and sometimes that can be all over the place. I’m human with feelings, and I refuse to sugarcoat.

I know not everyone can relate to being a dented can and what kind of pain that brings, but I’m not writing for everyone. I started just writing for me, but over time I have pleasantly discovered I have a loyal audience that do relate to what I’m going through – and it’s exactly why I persist.

I’m not looking for sympathy or a handout. All I want is to find a way to apply the gifts I have been given to do good and bring happiness to people. That may sound corny, but I mean it from the deepest part of my soul. I want to be known for what I gave, but if I can’t manage to hack out a respectable living how can I do anything worth anyone’s while? All I’m asking for is a chance.

Lewis Black reached a point where he thought he would never make it, but then he got a break on Comedy Central and it launched him. I’m to the point he was, and I’m sure he wasn’t feeling any different than I am right now. From where will my break come? If I knew that, I’d be there.

It used to be that going to New York or L.A. was the answer. I’m not up for that right now. It’s a bit late in the game to go to either one of those places and sleep in a car. I’m almost there here. I’ve been beaten up by life so much, I think it’s affecting my judgment. What to do? I just don’t know. People tell me all the time “Hang in there pal, it WILL happen for you.” But it never does.

All I can feel is the pain and loneliness of a lifetime of wandering – hoping to find my place in a world I never asked to be born. I have always been the outsider since my earliest memory, and that role gets old in a big hurry. Sometimes I think I may finally be hitting stride, and then it’s all an illusion and I’m back at where I started. I’m feeling a lot like Wile E. Coyote right about now.

And don’t get me started on dating. I have gone out with several women in the last few months but nothing has clicked and I feel that’s never going to happen either. The women I like most are either married or not interested in me, and the ones that like me don’t happen to float my boat. It would be terrific to find someone special, but I’m having a hard time just trying to survive life.

It’s all intertwined, and right now everything is a mess. Three months ago I felt like a new man ready to slay all dragons. Now I feel like a piece of crusty dragon poo. These extremes are killing me, but I think I picked the wrong profession to expect stability. What do I do now? I am totally at a loss, and have no idea who to ask. Mental toughness sounds great in theory. I can use some.

What else is there to do but keep slugging? I could swallow a bullet, but I’m not looking to do that. I just want to find my audience and work steadily in top level venues I can sell out with fans that are there to see me. A quality woman in my life would sure be helpful too. Blah blah blah.

Mental toughness sounds great in theory, but at one's lowest point is the hardest time to have it.

Mental toughness sounds great in theory, but at one’s lowest point is the hardest time to have it.

Nobody wants to hear about someone else in a slump. Blah blah blah.

Nobody wants to hear about someone else in a slump. Blah blah blah.

I had a blast appearing on the Craig Ferguson Show. I'd love to do it again.

I had a blast appearing on the Craig Ferguson Show. I’d love to do it again.

Here's a potential slump buster. Can someone clone her please?

Here’s a potential slump buster. Can someone clone her please?