I’m back in my hometown of El Paso, Texas and it just doesn’t feel the same. I live in Tucson, Arizona now and that inevitably doesn’t feel like home either. What’s the saying? Oh yeah, a rolling stone gathers no moss. I’m starting to get it now. I think.
Coming back to my hometown feels like every city and town I’ve been to in America. I get to a place, I perform, then I leave. That’s the extent of it. I never settle in. Sometimes, I don’t even sight see. I do what I have to do and eventually hit the next town. It shouldn’t feel this way in the place I grew up in. It shouldn’t feel that way in the place I actually call home either.
Maybe I am meant to be a rolling stone? Is that a bad thing? I see things and places few people ever get to witness in a lifetime, so what’s my problem? Am I still looking for my right place? I have a feeling that it’ll always feel that way for me. I think I’m okay with it. Maybe not…
I’ve been sick as a dog since Wednesday. I stayed home from my teaching job that day, to recover. I had to drive 300 miles to my next gig the following day and I didn’t want to have to cancel it. I had chills, congestion, and a fever on Tuesday night. I was determined to beat the illness in one day even if it killed me. Well, honestly, I just stayed in bed all day.
To make matters worse, I had just gotten back to the gym this past Monday. I had a really good workout and hit the weights working out my chest and triceps. On Tuesday, I felt no pain, so it looked like I was going to beat that lactic acid at its own game! It didn’t turn out that way. On Wednesday, my sickest day, I couldn’t bend my arms at all. I could barely lift them to a 15 degree angle. Do you realize how terrible it is to have to feed yourself your medication or even drink water? I was like a Tyrannosaurus-Rex! I had to place my meds on a table and lapped them up like a dog. I had a couple of straws, that I bought when I was adamant about saving the turtles, in my cabinets, so I used those to drink water from my glass. Don’t even get me started on having to either put on or take off my shirt as I went from chills to fever back to chills and back to fever again. I was living a real-life episode of Mr. Bean.
I felt somewhat better on Wednesday, all be it, a little weak, and got ready to make my drive from Tucson to Kingman, Arizona. I felt okay, but not great. I was hoping to get to my hotel room by at least 2pm to rest, but that was not going to happen. There was a major accident on the two-way road I was on and it backed up traffic for hours. I sincerely hope the people involved were okay. I got through eventually and made it to Kingman by 4:30pm. There was not nearly enough time to nap. I still have to get myself ready to report at the venue by 6:30pm. Time goes by extremely fast when you’ve got somewhere to be.
I made the show on time and met the owner of the venue. Art was excited to see me and warned me about the “redneck” vibe in his establishment. I told him, “No problem. Just tell me where to wait.” He pointed me to a stool at the bar and handed me a check for a show I had yet to perform. No pressure! Jas Clay, the Feature for the night, walked in the door two minutes before showtime. The poor guy was stuck further back in traffic than I was, on his way in from Phoenix. But he made it and we were ready!
Jas did what he always does and got the audience laughing. He worked the crowd like the seasoned vet I’ve always known him to be. I started in standup in 2006, right about the time that Jas was nearing his first year of comedy. He has been one of my favorite comics ever since. I love having to follow him because he leaves so little on the bone for me, which is challenging but fun!
It was my turn. Jas had an incredibly warm and nice introduction for me. I didn’t give him one and just knew that at his level, he wouldn’t need to have me tell him what to say. He introduced me as a “friend” and that meant the world to me. I went up. I hit them with my first joke, and bam! Laughter. I hit them with my second joke, and boom! more laughter. I wasn’t even feeling any of my symptoms any more. I was alert, awake, animated, fun, and in my element. I got my first applause break after my fifth joke and I coasted for the remainer of my set. Just about the time I was going to wrap things up, I said, “Well, I think that’s it?” Joe, a guy in the audience who was such a good sport throughout the show said, “No! Keep going!” I did. I ended with two of my favorite bits, said good night, and walked off to roaring applause.
The minute I walked out of the venue, I felt sick again. I drove back to my hotel, with my head buried in my steering wheel. I got to the room, took off my clothes and burrowed into my hotel folded sheets. I honestly don’t remember how I mustered up the energy to drive home today, but I made it. I got tired of laying down all day, so I started blogging. I’m gonna go lay down again.
When I have trouble sleeping, I can never determine if it’s because I have too much on my mind or nothing at all. There’s no reason why I should be waking up at 3:30am for nothing! Maybe it’s because I’ve got a new bit I’m working on and it’s nowhere near the way I want it to be?
Who knows? But it’s irritating! I want to sleep. I want to fall into the deepest sleep possible and wake up at noon like I did when I was a kid!
I didn’t lay in bed like I should have when I woke up at 3:30am. Instead, here I am… blogging. Oh, and not only that, If I’m awake, I HAVE TO HAVE MY MORNING COFFEE. Jeez, I sure know how to make things worse.
Today, I’ve got a book festival to attend with one of my freelance marketing clients. That’s what old people do on the weekends. We go to book festivals. This one is at least paying me. After that, I’ll come home and work some more on some jokes. I’m currently working on a premise about atheists and how they sound more believable only when they have British accents. If you’re going to try to convince me that there is no God, I’m more prone to give you credit if you sound like Simon Cowell and not Larry the Cable Guy.
Anyway, it’s 7:21am and I’m still not sleepy again. UGH!!!!
I suffer from “Imposter Syndrome”. I have suffered from this most of my life. I think that’s why I never stay put in one profession. I have never settled very long at anything I have ever done. I have had approximately twenty-two jobs over my lifetime. Not to pat myself on the back, but I have been pretty damn good at all of them. The longest position I have ever held was as a District Manager for a world-wide security company. I was employed by them for seven years. Be that it as it may, despite the fact that I have held so many jobs, I have never gone hungry.
There is one job which I have held for seventeen years; Standup Comedian. Yes, it is a job. It is a trade I have cultivated and honed for a significant amount of time. I have abandoned it and come back to it several times over the years. I am good at it. I know I am good at it. People pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to bring me to their cities or town, or book me on their cruise ships. I am good at it.
When I started out, I thought that making it in standup meant that I had to become famous. I thought that I needed to measure my success by the amount of actual comedy clubs who were booking me. I am now discovering that measuring my success by those standards was not very fair to me.
I remember having a conversation with a comedy club owner who asked me, “What do you want from all of this? What do you hope to accomplish in comedy?” I answered, “I just want to be a working comic. I want to be on the road doing what I love.” Here I am, almost thirteen years later and I am actually doing it. I have begun to book comedy dates again. I have got agents reaching out to me for my availability. I have left a world wide web fingerprint, complete with access to my body of comedy work, online.
I have allowed others to convince me that this wasn’t a job. I have allowed others to convince me that I needed a 9-to-5 to succeed in life. I have allowed others to minimize what I am doing in the world of comedy. I won’t allow that anymore. People have come and gone in my life. I have felt the loneliness of the world. The only one that has never abandoned has been this business called comedy. I am doing it. I am a working comic.
Earlier this month, another substitute teacher I work with, invited me to a storytelling event that was to take place on the next Saturday morning. I told him I’d be there to check it out, and at the cost of $Free.99, why not?
On Saturday morning, I woke up to and jumped online to gather information about the event but found absolutely nothing. I looked up the venue to see if the venue had posted it on their website or social media pages, but still, nothing. I wasn’t even sure if the event was still going to go on? I got ready and went anyway.
When I arrived, there was no indication on any of the posters on the venue’s windows that there would be a storytelling event held that morning, but the place was open, so I walked right in. There was a gentleman working in an office inside and I asked about the event and he half-heartedly directed me to the showroom area. I walked into the showroom and was warmly greeted by what seemed to be approximately 10 people. They were so excited to see me and I was excited to see them! They each introduced themselves to me and as it turns out, they were all members of the Tellers of Tales Tucson organization who was hosting the free event. They were all so nice and from the animated way they conducted themselves, I could tell instantly that these were THE storytellers.
I wasn’t wrong. When the event began, some of the storytellers took the stage to tell an original story using the month’s theme, “Haunted”. I’ve been performing standup comedy for 16 years and as a comedian, my goal is to get a laugh every 5 to 6 seconds for 45 minutes straight! I don’t mince words or waste any, for that matter. As I sat there and listed to each storyteller, I was mesmerized at how descriptive their stories were. I was taken by how calculated each detail was. Each storyteller took my mind on a journey I never expected to be taken on. They captivated my attention with only their words and also with the enthusiasm they poured into each and every word. They weren’t trying to hit a Laughs-per-Minute scale. They were capturing my attention with each and every syllable.
I was entertained, and at the same time, saddened. I was saddened by the fact that the only people in attendance were the people of the group and one invitee; me. I couldn’t stop thinking about what a tragedy it would be to lose this type of art form. Groups like these have to contend with the digital world of YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and, well the list goes on and on.
Their next storytelling event is on Saturday, November 5th and I, for one, am not going to miss it. I will also share the event across all of my social media platforms in hopes that I can intrigue at least one or two people to come out and experience the amazing feeling I got from listening to these seasoned storytellers take me to worlds I never thought I’d be a part of. My mind lives in a world it is familiar with, but these storytellers took it to worlds its never thought of. If that isn’t intriguing enough, I don’t know what else is.
Here’s an update for the 1 reader of this blog; I’m no longer heartbroken! The love of my life and I made up and talked things through. We hit a bump in the road but were honest enough with each other to sort through it and address some issues that needed attention. I won’t drag out what was said, but just know that we are stronger for it and on our way to a continuously growing relationship.
On a professional note, I’ve left the cruise ship comedy work. I have too many things going on at home and need to be on land when the people in my life need me. It was a great experience, but I had to hang up my sea legs.
I’ve started substitute teaching to supplement my comedy income. I don’t have very many comedy days scheduled to close out the year, so I have to make do and go to work. It’s been a struggle to get a marketing job, for which I hold a Masters degree in, so I’m going to take it as a sign to continue pursuing booking gigs and working when I’m not on the road.
I’ve been a prison guard before, but that doesn’t compare to what I had to experience as a substitute teacher for a 1st grade class. Don’t get me wrong, both experiences were terrible. One guy threatening another for being a snitch, another stabs someone with a shank made out of a pencil, people stealing food, gambling at every table, someone is tattooing people in a corner, shouting obscenities at me… oh, the inmates at the penitentiary were just as bad.
I come here to air my grievances. Things aren’t well. Financially, I’ve reached the point where I’ll have to get a job to support my standup comedy career. I’ve run out of cash flow. I have a few bookings left for the end of the year, but nothing that’s gonna really pay the bills. Oh well, that’s life. It’s time to get to work.
I’ve applied to almost every marketing job I can think of. I hold a masters degree in the field, but for some reason or another, the employer fish aren’t biting. I’ll have to resort to day labor positions. I’m not above working hard, so I won’t be playing that “woe is me” routine.
More importantly, my relationship of 2 and a half years ended today. Rather than go into detail about who did what or who failed to do this or that, I’ll say this, I’m torn up about it. My first inclination is to go to social media and play the, please feel sorry for me role, but I’m done with that silliness. I come here because I can express myself better in written words than having to reach out to a friend to tell my tale of woe.
In the last year, I made a move from one city to another, from one state to another; and I did it for love. I thought I had met the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. No, I knew I had met the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. They just didn’t feel the same way. When you know, you know, right? I think I felt enough to know.
They say that you are in a relationship to get married or to break-up. I don’t know who said it, but I’ve heard it before. In my case, there was no light at the end of that tunnel. I felt like I was in limbo. Feelings were just not reciprocated.
Now what? Now, I keep on living. What else is there to do? I need to make an income. I need to further my standup career. I need to continue to be self-sufficient. I need to do what I’ve always done; survive.
We all must start somewhere, and the bottom seems like the only logical starting point. I started in my current profession more than 28 years ago when I was hired by a staffing agency. I was hired as courtesy patrol staff for an apartment complex where I was to provide security type services and observe and report as I walked around the property on hourly patrols. I was 19 years old at the time, making $4.25 an hour in a position I thought would lead me nowhere. Now, 28 years later, I’m a District Manager with a worldwide security company and let’s just say that I’d prefer to remain modest about my current income and keep that to myself. No one likes a bragger.
So, how did I get to where I am now? Here are the 5 way I have learned to grow in any profession:
5. Just Get Started
This one seems easy, but you would be surprised how many people hold themselves back from starting anything because they fear the unknown. Everything you start is unknown, but if you don’t take that first step, how will you ever know? Remember when you were a kid and got your first set of LEGO’S? You didn’t know what you wanted to build, yet you just started putting those blocks together and before you knew it, you were ambitious enough to contemplate building LEGO Cathedrals. Keep that same spirit and just go for it!
4. Grow When You’re Ready to Grow
A mentor of mine once said, “You are where you are, because you want to be there.” Those words have echoed in my mind for years and have always motivated me to move on in life or profession. There will come a time when you will know that you have the skills and experience to improve your professional situation. When you do, take that step and either find opportunities to grow within the company you are working for, or venture out and find a position suitable for the value you offer now. If you want more responsibility, go get it. If you want more money, go get it. If you want to stay where you are, there’s nothing wrong with that either. “You are where you are because you want to be there”.
3. Get More Training
We all have room to grow. We never know everything there is to know about what we want to know. Companies love to invest in the knowledge of their employees. Often, employees do not realize that there are learning opportunities that they can take advantage of. Some of these opportunities are just as beneficial as going to school to learn them. Employers know that offering these learning opportunities to their employees makes their employees that much more valuable, so it is in their best interest to retain that employee and use their new knowledge to benefit the company. So, be on the lookout to advance in your position. Even if advancement opportunities are not available within the company, take those new skills and knowledge and seek employment where you can put all that new knowledge to work!
2. Stop the Rinse-and-Repeat Cycle
Pick a profession and continuously be good at it. I have held several positions in my life. I have worked at call centers, convenience stores, factories, retail, fast food, you name it, but I have always gravitated back to my security roots. The more I deviated from any position, the more times I had to start over. Try not to get stuck in Rinse-and-Repeat cycle. If you are in search of finding the work you love, that’s fine, but do not spend too much time trying to figure out what you want to dedicate your life to. Spend that valuable time honing and perfecting a skill you enjoy and use that skill or position to keep reaching new heights.
1. Love What You Do
On average, people work until the retirement age of 65. Some people leave retirement to continue working, whether out of necessity or out of sheer love of continuing in a profession that brings them joy. Whatever the case may be, it is important to realize that we all dedicate ourselves to a profession for a huge portion of our lifespan. Find a profession you love and want to improve upon. Then, and only then, will you find room to grow and reach a level of professional contentment we all deserve.