I’m a few months into my second stint at freelancing and I’ve been able to observe some of my patterns with regards to how I spend my days. I loved reading Fran Lebowitz and Jessi Klein’s day in the life pieces in their books. Though, I’m starting to think that it’s funny when they do it because their success is taken for granted. I, on the other hand, in collecting my thoughts on my laziness, have come to realize that, sadly, I am actually lazy. I am quite capable of doing very little. Whatever the opposite of a workaholic is, I’m that. Part of the work temperance movement? A work teetotaler?
I am also struck by two things. One. I am really privileged to live this way for however long it lasts. I’m sure a full time job or, at the very least, an office is in my future. Two. I’m actually working about as hard at home as I do when I’m at a full time job and as you will shortly see, that’s not particularly hard. If you were to boil down the amount of things that you get accomplished at your desk job during a so-called eight hour day, how much work would it actually be? Like two hours? Three? Am I projecting?
Perhaps. So, anyway, here’s what my daily life has been like for the past few months.
My alarm goes off and I hit snooze while going in and out of a strange dream in which I have to accomplish some task whose completion is signaled by a really annoying buzzing noise.
Wake up. (Yes, that is correct. I hit snooze every day for an hour and forty-five minutes. Go ahead and judge that.) I do my morning pages because The Artist’s Way. In morning pages I siphon off some petty grievances from my mental space then mention how tired I am and how much I’m looking forward to breakfast.
Begin making breakfast. Grind French Roast coffee beans in my burr grinder (two clicks to the right of medium). Boil water in kettle. Add coffee and water to French press. Set timer for five minutes. Scramble three eggs. Cook eggs in my cast iron skillet. Timer goes off, pour coffee.
I put more care into the morning ritual of breakfast preparation than I do into my taxes.
Take eggs and coffee to living room to watch weather on the ones. Wonder if Pat Kiernan and Jamie Stelter are flirting too hard and if their spouses watch them every morning.
Vow to start doing some sort of useful work and not turn on Netflix for a 30 Rock episode.
Turn on Netflix for just one 30 Rock episode because I’m not done with my coffee yet and can I really start working if I’m not done with my coffee?
About five to ten minutes after hitting play on my third consecutive 30 Rock episode, I start getting down to the real work of my day: existential angst. In a state of meditative contriteness over not having pursued anything resume building, nor having set up any auditions or looked for any paying work, I do what any rational adult man would do and start a rambling interior monologue about the utility of effort.
What is success really? What is it that I’m striving for? How would I measure my success? Monetarily? If I wanted that wouldn’t I have gone into finance or law or something? You know, like everyone with whom I went to college? And also what time is it? Didn’t I just have a handful of parmesan pita chips? Another right away would be gluttonous, yes? Should I put on pants or no? Perhaps success is a self directed sense of satisfaction. It’s the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done your best. I read that somewhere. The UCLA basketball coach, the guy who coached Kareem. [Quick google search] John Wooden.
What is the ultimate goal of my life? I don’t know. Should I be upset that I don’t know? Aren’t I a little too old to not know? There are all of these articles that show people achieving success at different ages, like 40, 45, 50, etc. But at some point don’t you just, like, not become anything? [Quick google search] John F. Kennedy was president at 43, the youngest elected president. Elected? [Another quick google search] Roosevelt was 42 but he took over for McKinley. McKinley, assassinated in Buffalo. I’m 39. I think I need to let go of the possibility of becoming president. I mean, it wasn’t really a goal nor did it take up that much mental space but it was, like, nice to keep that option open? Tina Fey was already starring on 30 Rock – yeah, I’ll watch another – at my age. I’m a failure. But maybe I would be one of those guys who got on TV and was still depressed? Like that dude from Suddenly Susan who killed himself? [Quick google search] David Strickland. Man. He died in Vegas. Is it better to die in Vegas or Buffalo? He was 29. I’m 39. I’ve already got an extra decade out of life. An extra decade, that’s what Carver’s poem “Gravy” was about, wasn’t it? He should have died at 40 from alcoholism but he made it to 50. [No need for a google search, that’s right off the top of the dome.]
What if I’m, like, one of those people for whom success never manages to mollify my inner demons? What if I’m like one of those people who achieves everything really fast? But then, just when everything looks like it’s going so great, I’m found in the garage of my Malibu home in my Porsche dead of carbon monoxide inhalation? Oh cool, this is the episode where Jack is like Bruce Wayne and Liz is like the Joker! I should include this in my Favorite Episodes blog post that I’ve been planning to write for the past eleven months.
Wake up from nap non-ironically proud that I didn’t hit snooze on my alarm. Re-commit to doing something with the day. Make a mental list of possible things to begin working on.
- Write – a blog post, a sketch, a short film, a play…
- Read History of the Personal Essay for inspiration
- Submit for auditions through Casting Networks, Backstage, Actors Access…
- Come up with ideas for future articles
Alright, some direction! Let’s make something of this day.
After I make my afternoon coffee.
Afternoon is for stovetop espresso in my IKEA RÅDIG coffee maker which is one of my all time favorite purchases and, according to IKEA’s website, makes 6 cups of coffee. Either Swedish people drink coffee out of thimbles or I’m the Richard Burton of coffee because this is just one cup for me. Switch burr grinder setting to the very first for finely ground coffee and think that if I took any career as seriously as I took my coffee, I would be a CEO.
I’d be a VP. A VP at, like, a big company where they just give you the title after a few years. But still, VP!
Think about my list. Get overwhelmed because I can’t decide which thing to work on. Instead I add to the list.
- Start a podcast about… something.
One episode of 30 Rock while I contemplate…
Christ, I’m going to have to go back to web development, aren’t I? Would that be so bad? I have a skill set that many people would love to have. Is it selfish to not want to do this thing that I’ve been doing? On the other hand, it’s my life, isn’t it? [Continue on navel gazing train of thought much like the one started at 11:05 AM]
Start making some Kraft macaroni and cheese. It’s unhealthy but cost effective. Here are some mac ‘n cheese tips. First, cook the macaroni al dente. Second, toss the macaroni so all of the steam evaporates. This is a very important step. If you let the pasta (heh, “pasta”) stay wet, you end up with soupy mac ‘n cheese. Third, melt the butter first, then add the macaroni, then add the milk. Finally you are ready to slowly – slowly! – fold in the packet of “cheese”… which is brown.
I check the box and it expired in May 2016. Well, at least it was this year. Thai fried rice it is.
I leave the house for improv rehearsal or show or coaching or storytelling or whatever it is that I have that night and while I’m on the subway, I realize that whatever it is I’m heading to is the thing that is going to give my day meaning. I’ve never regretted being part of an improv rehearsal or a storytelling show. Whether I get paid or not, this is what I do.
11: 45 PM
Get home. Brush teeth while watching five to ten minutes of a Friends / Seinfeld re-run. Get to bed.
Drift off to sleep thinking, “Man, what’s it like to have ambition?”