a priori/a posteriori

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New York Struggles, Part 1

New York has knocked me down. Bigtime. In a way, I knew it was happening almost as soon as I got here. And in a way, I’m just realizing it now. New York has absolutely kicked my ass since I moved here.

That’s what’s weird about it. It’s so easy to just survive here and feel like that’s an accomplishment. So you convince yourself that even though you’re not doing anything...hey, at least I’m doing nothing in the big city!

I think the big mistake I made moving here was forgetting that I’m not just a comic. I think that’s what comics forget when they move here.

I put off moving to New York for years because I wanted to feel like I was ready as a comic. I finally found that peace last fall, and I realized I was fully ready to come up here and take whatever the New York Comedy World had for me: failure, frustration, indifference - whatever. I knew why I was doing comedy. I knew why I loved stand-up. I didn’t just know I was ready - I knew why I was ready.

But I was so excited I wasn’t afraid of failing at stand-up anymore, I forgot that there were plenty of other things that could still overwhelm me. When I decided to move, I felt like McCauley Culkin in “Home Alone,” conquering his fear of his basement, and running out the front door to tell the world. "Hey! I’m not afraid anymore! DID YOU HEAR ME?? I SAID: I’M NOT AFRAID ANY-"

And then right as I was most confident, the non-comedy parts of life showed up and put me in my place, just like Kevin’s neighbor Old Man Marley and his shovel.

I’m realizing as I’m writing this that while I’ve gone through some pretty stressful life changes the past six months, that really doesn’t explain why I’ve been avoiding going out and doing stand-up since I moved here. So let’s just call this “New York Struggles, Theory 1” and try to be more honest with myself.

I’m not saying this isn’t a legitimate point - moving is always crazy, and moving to New York multiplies the shock to your system. Updating, shifting, changing, canceling, forwarding, signing, moving, setting up, settling down...it’s just a logistical nightmare that weighs you down for months. And that’s not to mention the emotional element of a move - you leave the life you were living behind, and have to basically start a new social life from scratch. Almost every job people get now is through someone putting in a good word for you, so when you move somewhere and don’t know anyone at first, it’s tough to find a job that isn’t pretty shitty. Especially if, like me, you’re so embarrassed by your uninspiring resume’ that you don’t follow-up on half the opportunities you do get.

Oh yeah - and in addition to all that, when I moved here, I started living with my partner, which I’d never done before. She and I are still together, but if you’ve never co-habitated with your significant other, let me just say that it’s an...intense shift. You just don’t realize how different your life is. Most of it is positive, honestly - but it’s just another big shock to how you live your life.

So, yes. All of the overwhelming, life-is-hard crap has thrown me off some. But I knew that before this week. In fact, before this week, that was the bullet I had in the chamber of my Excuse Gun, ready to fire it at anyone who asked how New York was going. There’s more to the story, though. New York has knocked me down in a different way. It’s not as easy as I want it to be. As much as I’ve been trying not to admit it, I’ve just been scared.

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