Tag Archives: actor

64. James’ Defense For Not Knowing What the Fuck You’re Doing

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“A Bitch and His Hoe” or “How To Hook A Man In 3 Seconds” or “How To Make A Man Blow His Load With One Look”

Lemme give you a brief history of James-Up-To-This-Point:

When I was little, I would watch Ace Ventura when I wasn’t feeling well. I thought Jim Carrey was the funniest bitch there ever was.

Then in middle school, I did this weird play, but it was super fun because all of my friends were in it. I had a blast. I got to see my friends every day, and we got to be freaks on stage.

Then I saw Moulin Rouge, and I thought, ‘This is the worst piece of shit I have ever seen. WHY won’t they stop singing?! STOP SINGING AND DIE, SATINE!’

Then I realized that I actually really liked singing. My best friend Dalila and I used to listen to my cassette tape of “My Heart Will Go On” on REPEAT. I would go over to boombox, press play, lay down on the ground next to Dalila and we would SCREAM along with Celine Dion. And when the song was over, I would get up, rewind the tape, and do it ALL over again. I’m sure my babysitter was somewhere in the house begging God to please explode my boombox.

Then in intermediate school I was throw into the school musical where I got the leftover parts. Well the JOKES ON YOU, because the leftover part was Buzz Lightyear, and I got to sing, “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” with a complete fucking stranger. This was my real first foray into acting as I pretended to be able to care about anyone but myself and Kit-Kat’s.

Then in my middle school choir we sang “My Heart Will Go On”, and I auditioned for the solos because CELINE FUCKING DION GOD DAMNIT. I don’t remember if I got it, but I’m positive that I sounded like a fucking superstar in my audition. A gay-ass, prepubescent, definitely gay, someone-please-love-me superstar. God, I was a fierce fucking alto. #neverchange

Then my friend (read: friends, plentiful and bountiful, for I was super popular at all points in my life) and I would sing the high soprano part at the end of the song “Phantom of the Opera”, and I used to be able to screlt those high notes (note: “screlt” is a portmanteau of “scream” and “belt”, which is a word for “to sing as high as Jesus”). I would screlt those notes ALLLLLL the time. Again, I think this was another point in my life where my mother begged God to please send a chupacabra to ravage my voice box.

When I was 14, I started dating people over the internet, because I was gay in my head but not out loud and I needed to talk to SOMEONE about it so I did the logical thing: I turned to complete strangers. I used to go to gay chat rooms and talk to other people like me. Sometimes we would become boyfriends, and that was pretty cool. But one day spikyblueeyes88 stopped logging on to AIM, and that was the first time that I had ever been ghosted. I’m sure I handled it appropriately: opening my journal, picking up a pen, calmly pushing my bangs out of my face, and then SCREAMING into my journal until the pain went away/ I fell asleep out of utter exhaustion from having so many feelings come out of the hole in my face. My heart said, “Rest, you weary son-of-a-bitch. It won’t get better, but someday you’ll have a blog to put ALLLLL your emotions in!” (Yeah, I end sentences with prepositions, because I’m a boss-ass bitch (with).

Anyway, back to internet dating. So I was 14 years-old, and my prospective internet boyfriend was 17 or 18. I had to woo him to be my One True Love. We were chatting, and it came up that he was a singer.’I’m a singer, too!’ I thought to myself. ‘I scream along to EVERYTHING I hear on the radio. I love singing; I’m a singer, god damnit!’ Well, Prospective Internet Boyfriend wanted to hear me sing. So he called my home phone and I picked it up on the first ring. He had a hot, sexy adult voice. I had a closeted, insecure 14 year-old boy voice. He sang first:  “Amazing Grace”. It was the most amazing thing I had ever heard. He was a professionally-trained angel, and he was going to take me to the Promised Land. “It’s your turn,” he said. Well, I had to pick a song I knew all the words to. At the time, I was SUPER into Evanescence. I knew every god damn word to every song, and it was my favorite music to cry to. So I decided to sing “Going Under“. If you don’t know it, go listen to it. It’s tragic. It starts with her growling these super depressing lyrics. I gave my Future Boyfriend my best Amy Lee:

“Now I will tell you what I’ve done for you
Fifty-thousand tears I’ve cried
Screaming, deceiving and bleeding for you-”
*CLICK*
“….Hello? ….Hello? Are you there? ….”

Yes, he hung up on me. And I didn’t even get to sing the chorus which is the best part and the part that really shows off my vocal ability! I sat there blinking, clutching the phone to my ear for a few minutes, and then I calmly replaced the phone on the charging dock.

‘He hung up on me because of my singing voice…’

So I recorded myself singing, and then I played it back to myself. I was DISGUSTED with myself. ‘JESUS CHRIST, JAMES, YOU SOUND AWFUL! I WOULD’VE HUNG UP ON YOU, TOO! YOU SOUND TERRIBLE! NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE YOU SINGING LIKE THAT, YOU GAY IDIOT BITCH.’

Then I realized that I even hated my speaking voice. I was hitting the “s” consonant too hard, and THAT’S how everyone at school knew to call me a “faggot” and throw batteries at me! Eureka! Mystery solved! Also, I kept finding myself walking around with limp wrists. ‘HIDE YOUR SECRETS, YOU GAY T-REX!’ So I trained myself to walk with my arms glued to my sides as if they were stapled there. ‘Ha, now they’ll NEVER know!’ Then I spent HOURS recording myself talking and trying to adjust my voice to sound less gay. I dedicated so much time towards trying to figure out where to place the consonants in my mouth to sound less gay. Recording my voice, playing it back to myself, banging my head on the desk hoping my tongue would fall out so I would never have to say “s” again, and then doing it all over again. Funny enough, I feel like my “gay speech” calmed down after I came out of the closet. Alright, Jesus… I see you.

Also, after this experience, I saw Evanescence in concert FIVE times. I would go to their concerts and jump up and down with the biggest smile on my face screaming, “I WANNA DIE, TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

Also, this story about the “Amazing Grace” guy hanging up on me singing “Going Under” is Kelley’s favorite story, and if we are EVER on the phone and I start singing she will ALWAYS hang up. She’s REALLY funny….

Also when I was 14, I auditioned for a production of Seussical the Musical. I was cast as a panther, and I was surrounded by so many talented people and that was the moment I decided I wanted to pursue musical theater.

So I went HARD. During Seussical, I met Miss Sara, and she started an all-men’s beginner tap class. I started tapping with her when I was 15, and I’ve been tapping ever since. I started auditioning like a motherfucker. I would go to the library and check out every CD for every musical they had and I would INHALE THEM. I knew every lyric to every song. I would do all the school shows, and I would audition for musicals in the community as well. I started taking voice lessons with Wendy when I was 15, and she changed my LIFE. (More on her later.) By my senior year, my schedule was jam-packed. I joined the Madison Youth Choirs, I played bassoon in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, I took voice lessons, I took tap class, I took an acting class through UW-Madison, I worked at a bakery, I worked at the movie theater, and I performed in shows. There was a point where this was my schedule: School 8:15-3:25, School musical rehearsal 4:00-6:30, Madison community theater musical rehearsal 7:00-10:00. I was eating, breathing, sleeping musical theater. I felt like I was finally doing something I really cared about with people who really understood me.

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Word of advice: don’t every try to out-do Katie in a selfie. Just be blessed to be in her presence and do your fucking best.

When I was auditioning for colleges, I went all in once again. I auditioned at NYU, Carnegie Mellon, University of Michigan, Western Michigan University and UW-Stevens Point. While I was auditioning, I was so scared and I felt suddenly inadequate. I was having a breakdown in one of my voice lessons, and Wendy listened to doubt myself and cry. When I was done, she had the best fucking response ever. She started singing Evanescence to me: “Fear is only in our mind, taking over all the time. Fear is only in ours minds, but it’s taking over all the time.”

*MIC DROP* BY WENDY. Did I MENTION that she’s the coolest ever?!

So I went to UW- Stevens Point, and I STILL went hard AF. I took the maximum credits allowed. I took some of my pre-requisites over the summer at a community college so I would have more room during the year to take theater and dance classes. I took every class I could get my hands on. I weaseled my way into modern dance, jazz dance and tap dance classes usually reserved only for dance majors. I auditioned for everything, even the dance shows that I felt underqualified for. And in the summer, I would do summerstock theater. I worked my ass off.

I graduated college in May 2011. I lived at home for the summer and performed in a musical while waiting tables. Then I hosted a benefit concert to help me raise money to move to NYC, and I moved here in September 2011.

When I first got here, I went to every damn audition. There was one time where I went to five auditions in the same day. I hustled like a motherfucker. It took me a while, but I finally started getting cast. I’ve been here for  four years now.

Now here’s the one event I can’t quite pinpoint. There was a moment where I didn’t want to eat/sleep/breathe musical theatre anymore. I started putting on Eminem instead of Sweeney Todd. I wanted to talk about music and comedy instead of my favorite Elphaba riff or which role I could play in Wicked. I wanted a life outside of musical theatre. To be frank, I didn’t want what I had always wanted. I didn’t want to do the things that I should do anymore. I didn’t wanna take ballet class or acting class or classes with casting directors, and I didn’t want to go to auditions for shows that I wasn’t right for just so I could get seen by a prominent casting director. I didn’t want to hang out with actors anymore. I didn’t want to sit in a holding room anymore. I didn’t want to do any of the “shoulds” anymore.

Last week, I was on a bus to Boston and since no one was around me, I started listening to the Hamilton soundtrack again in private. I listened to “Wait For It” three times in a row, and I started crying to myself. I thought to myself, ‘What happened to the Old James? Where did he go? Why don’t I love musical theater as much as I used to? Why is it no longer my life source? It used to be my EVERYTHING. I was on this path with my nose to the pavement for the past 12 years; what am I supposed to do with myself? What am I supposed to do when I wake up one day and realize that I don’t love this thing like I used to. I don’t want to spend my time and money on things I don’t love. I don’t wanna network for something that doesn’t fulfill me. I don’t want to know the lyric to every Broadway show. I don’t care to know every actor in every musical. I don’t care to know the career paths of musical theater stars. But why?! Where did Old James go? GIVE HIM BACK TO ME. I NEED HIM.’

Loss of clarity is horrifying. It’s scary. I don’t want to think, ‘Well I’ve spent 12 years becoming someone I don’t wanna be anymore; what now?’ I don’t want that. I want my certainty back. I want my fire back.

But I can’t have certainty, because it doesn’t exist. Certainty exists in the same imaginary world as control. But I don’t want to wander aimlessly. I don’t want to be lost. But then I looked around at my friends. One of my friends knows exactly how I feel: went to school for something completely different than what she’s currently pursuing. Another one of my friends worked at a job she fucking hated, and now she’s doing something she loves. One of my friends studied psychology, and now she works in finance. So. Okay, James. You’re not alone. Actually, you’re in the perfect company to be lost. But if “lost” terrifies you too much to be included in your vocabulary, then choose something else: curious, wandering, interested, well-rounded.

I’m letting go of the “shoulds”. I started taking tap class regularly, because it makes me happy. I only audition for projects I want to be a part of. I let myself listen to whatever music I want, and now I have a music soulmate at work and we could talk about FKA Twigs and Rihanna and Jai Paul for hours, and it’s some of the most fulfilling conversations I’ve ever had, because I don’t feel so alone. I’ve accepted that I’m good at hospitality, but that doesn’t mean I need to be a Career Server. I’ve looked into classes at Upright Citizens Brigade. I bought a guitar so I can start learning to play Evanescence/Celine Dion mash-ups. I went to a Zedd concert, because I felt like it. I spent a week in San Diego by myself. I stopped auditioning for an entire summer, and let myself have a life outside of theater. And the most exciting thing? I’ve started writing a comedic web-series with a friend. We meet about once a week and we sit and we write and laugh so loud that people stare. And when we don’t want to write our web-series, we write comedic sketches. I feel like I’m finally doing something I love. Oh. And I write my blog. Because I love writing.

I’m letting myself be who I am, and I’m not trying to make myself fit into whatever the Successful Musical Theatre Professional mold is. I’m letting myself exist, and it’s terrifying and liberating and I’m so proud of myself.

My baby sister recently told me she was jealous of me, because I knew exactly what I wanted and I’m finding success in doing exactly what I wanted to do. Leah, I would like to apologize to you for fooling you so fabulously. I wrote this blog to set the record straight. Some people dabble in different things, looking for something they care about and freaking out that they don’t have some fiery passion that “everyone else” has. And some people are me, and you’ve been working your tits off for 12 years for your passion only to realize that maybe you don’t want it anymore. Both are horrifying. But both are okay. Just do things you fucking like to do. Work at a job that either fulfills you or pays you enough that you can do things you enjoy doing. And don’t judge yourself for the things that you like. There is value in doing things for pure enjoyment. I promise you. Don’t judge yourself for listening to Fetty Wap twice a day, everyday, for two weeks. It’s okay. It’s okay to take a hip-hop class once a week even if it doesn’t further your career. You are more fun to be around when you’re having fun.

Now excuse me, Trap Queen is calling.

“Baby girl you’re so damn fine though. I’m tryna know if I can hit it from behind though.”
~”679″ by Fetty Wap

you’re okay.

JAMES

P.S. After posting this blog on Facebook my mother commented: “Clearly I didn’t know all this. But I’m relieved to know that when I suspected you were surfing porn sites in your teens, you were only attempting to find a boy friend.”

NOTHING’S CHANGED MA. STILL SURFIN’ THE WEB LOOKING FOR THAT WIFEY DICK.

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Her only goal every day is “Be 7 years-old” and she’s doing just fine. #selfieinception

55. James Is Not That Kind Of Gay

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So I’ve been realizing lately that I’m a bit different than many of the gays around me. Let me give a few examples:

Sex Parties: Someone was telling me about this sex party that they attended. My first question was, “Now… what makes this party a ‘sex’ party? Does everyone wear party-hats on their wieners? Does everyone use glitter as lube? Does everyone throw confetti when they ejaculate? Or like…. Ooooooh, a sex party; like sexuality, like a celebration of the broad spectrum of sexuality where all persons are all welcome? Oh okay, I’m down!” But then I was informed as to what a sex party really is. This same friend, recovering from the all-night sex party, said, “I am so full of cum that I could vomit.”

My response was a long silence followed by some very violent vomiting. I could not relate to the way my friend was feeling, but, using my powers of empathy, I’m assuming he felt similar to the way I do at the end of a free buffet dinner or when I’m at the movie theater alone finishing my third bucket of popcorn. Also, I know someone else who went to a sex party and got some juice in their eye! And no, I’m not talking about fruit punch… although it was technically punch from a fruit, if you catch my drift. Listen, I don’t need to be losing my damn eye sight for no sex! And I definitely don’t need to be basted like a Thanksgiving turkey until stuffing is pouring from every orifice! I mean, my thirst is real, but DAMN, y’all! A Costco-sized package of Gatorade couldn’t QUENCH your thirst; that’s how real it is!!! I applaud you all on your bravery and sexual gumption, but I just couldn’t! I would be asking everyone if they’d been tested recently while they impatiently pistol-whipped me with their peepees. Or asking everyone if they had a pleasant day while they hurriedly put on their… “party hats”. It’s just not my scene. But party on, friends!

Grindr: Okay. So I have never had a Grindr ever. Ever. If you are unfamiliar with Grindr because you are so old you sneeze dust or you don’t have a smartphone because you’re afraid the government is tracking your every move, Grindr is this app for gay dudes who want to get laid. You make a profile, the app uses your location and shows you where the closest horny gay dude is. It literally tells you how many feet away they are from your current position. And then you can message each other and meet up and then pound each other like you’re tenderizing a chicken breast. Or whatever. So this is all secondhand knowledge, because I’ve never had it. Again, it freaks me out. So I made a Gay explain it all to me a la Clarissa:

I said, “So, do they just come over and you just bone?”
He said, “Sometimes.”
“Wait, please explain it to me. Like, do you have a conversation when they come over? Or do you just get naked and wrestle like sweaty pigs?”
“It really depends. Sometimes they come over, I’ll ask about their day and then we’ll go to my room and turn off the lights and then do it. And then sometimes they just come over, we say hi and then go to my room.”
“But like, afterwards… do you keep talking? Like, do you see them again?”
“Eh, sometimes. But most of the time I don’t talk to them again.”

Well, I clearly couldn’t grasp this concept. I can only imagine how this would go for me…

I would invite them over with a message FULL of inappropriate emoticons, including, but not limited to, the poopie emoji. When they got to the door, I would try to greet them with a kiss. Remembering that that is an inappropriate greeting for a hookup situation, I would play it off by biting their ear while honking on their dick too hard. They would gasp in pain, and I would smile back seductively, not knowing that a piece of their earlobe is stuck in my front teeth. I would try to take their coat to hang it up. But they would be confused by my generosity so I would overcompensate by throwing their coat into the kitty litter over my shoulder. The cat (that I don’t own) would promptly shit all up on it. I would slowly lead them to my room, stubbing my toe a minimum of three times. Limping into my dark room, I would close the door behind them. I would be too eager in the pitch black, and I would attack them with kisses, attaching myself like a koala bear going in for some juicy eucalyptus. Of course, it would take me a minute to realize that I was making out with the coat rack. I would recover by crawling all sexy over to them. I would try to pull their pants down, but they would confuse me for my feral cat and they would kick me in the face. I would lose conscious for 5 minutes, tops. Eventually, we would make it to the bed, and it would be so, so, so….awful. So awful. I would accidentally say, “I love you,” a few times, and I would try to cover it up by giggling their name aloud. But there’s no way I’d remember their name. But it doesn’t matter, because I’m positive that I would call them one of my ex-boyfriend’s names anyway. They would look perplexed so I would make some very scary, guttural gorilla sounds to simulate me reaching climax. But it would suddenly hit me how bad I wish this person flopping on top of me would just love me. I would burst into ugly tears with all the snot a la Viola Davis in the movie version of Doubt. I wouldn’t want them to know that I was crying, so I would tell them that my face is ejaculating and that it’s a New Age thing. It would finally end. There would be a deafening silence while the wreckage from our colossal car crash smolders on the abandoned highway before anyone’s registered what’s really happened. I’d be covered in snot, tears and regret; he’d be covered in… “fruit punch”. I would ask if he wanted to stay and watch a movie. He would try to make a hasty exit. I would try to salvage it by wooing him with my singing, but the only song I would be able to remember the words to would be “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. He would run out the door with his shoes in his hands while I howled out my sad ballad, the whole time my imaginary cat peeing on my face in an effort to make me shut the hell up. And I would lie there, staring at the ceiling, smelling like ammonia, wondering if I could get a second “date” with that mysterious man who left me alone with my persnickety pussy.

I can’t do casual sex. I can’t. I would be terrible at it. I’ve actually tried it. I’m pretty sure I cried. I just want something substantial. I feel that there was a window of opportunity that I could’ve learned to be good at relationships based on sex, but I don’t want that anymore. I want some sort of stability in my hectic life. My whole career is based on flexibility. Sometimes I have less than a week’s notice to prepare for an audition and to find someone to cover my shift at work. Most theater gigs happen outside of New York for just a few months.  I leave my job and all my relationships to learn an entire show and cultivate brand new friendships in an excruciatingly short period of time. I’m grasping at stability like straws, man. I’m already bopping around from city to city and relationship to relationship for my career; I can’t be hopping around from dick to dick, too. I would love to be with the same dick for an extended period of time. Like a long time. Like, 3 weeks or so… Or 3 months. Whatever, I’ll take whatever.

I’m 25, man. I don’t wanna do the “sexually adventurous” thing. That’s not my gig. I wanna do the “go to dinner and smile across the table” thing. The last time I went to a gay bar, I pushed a dude who tried to grind up on me. Perhaps if he had presented me with a rose, I would’ve responded with more courtesy. But instead, he decided to rub his weird little boner all over my leg, and my Hulk rage took over. I’m not that kind of gay. I’m looking for somebody to stick around and have dinner. Or go walking. Or just be my friend who I have sex with. Repeatedly. Isn’t that what a relationship is, a best friend that you have sex with? I mean, we can turn it into a sex party. As long as it’s just the two of us. I’ll bring a cake. No, I’ll bring three cakes; one for me, one for him and one emergency cake. And we’ll eat our respective cakes, and then just have sex with each other. Or we can sleep off our sugar hangovers. And we won’t do the Grindr but we can grind—Never mind. That’s just filthy, James.

I’m just not those things. I’m this thing. And I’m totally okay with that. I’m sure there’s another gay out there who is horrified by the thought of a sex party that doesn’t have an emergency cake…

And I’m gonna find you.

#dontgiveup

JAMES

“I could tell you was fantasizing that you would come slide in me and confide in me.”
~”Buy a Heart” by Nicki Minaj (feat. Meek Mill)

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I wanted to use this really cute picture of my grandparents when they were younger, but I realized that I talked about someone vomiting out cum…. so it didn’t feel appropriate.

 

48. James’ New York Survival Guide

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Alright so I’ve been in New York almost three years now, and if you’ve read any of my blogs since I’ve moved here then you know that it’s been a roller coaster ride for me; I’ve had my ups and… Bitch, I has had my downs. But I’m finally grasping what it takes to survive here in all facets: financially, emotionally, mentally. So I thought I would comprise some tips for anyone who is struggling HARD in New York. Or think of it as a comprehensive guide for anyone moving to New York. I think of these things as the basics for survival. (As a precursor: I am in no way perfect, and I still struggle. But these things help me get through.)

Also, I’m catering this specifically towards actors but it can ABSOLUTELY be applied to any frield. Whoa. That was supposed to say “field”. But it’s such an amazing typo that I’m leaving it…. “Frield”….hahahahahaha.

Ready Set Go-Hoe

1) Eliminate Money as a Stressor: I know this probably seems impossible, especially for actors, but it’s very possible. And there are many things you can do. If you want to live in NYC as an actor or any sort of freelance artist and you want to make the most money while having the most flexible schedule waiting tables is really the way to go. I’m sure there are other possibilities but I’ve discovered that waiting tables offers good pay and a flexible schedule. Yes, it is grueling emotional labor, but just shake it off! Honestly, catering is the most flexible but the work is extremely varied, and it’s not always constant. For example, catering is very busy in the summer months for weddings and at the end of the year for Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s/Office Holiday Party events. But it’s a little difficult to make a budget. You can also save money by sharing your room, like me! I share my room, and I wait tables. I rarely worry about money. I’m not rolling around in bathtubs full of cash, but I’m comfortable. Now, if you don’t want to share your room and you don’t want to wait tables, then you can just choose to live off of less money. You can choose not to go out to eat and to pack a lunch. You can choose to brew your own coffee instead of getting Starbucks. You can decide to pregame before you go out to the bars. It’s all about choosing which  luxury you want. I try to incorporate all three of these rules; yes, I make good money at my restaurant and my rent is cheap, but I still try to live off of less. The secret to wealth is to keep living like you did when you had less money even when you’re making more. I save my money for the luxuries that I value: dance class, voice lessons, eating yummy food with friends, plane tickets to go home and….clothes… 🙂

2) Be the Motherfucking Boss of Your Life: Know which sacrifices are worth making and set boundaries. Don’t let your survival job run your life. YOU run your life; nobody else. If you want to audition during the day, tell your job that you are only available to work nights and weekends. Also, don’t work yourself to death because you feel like “your job really needs you”. Your job is a business; it does not need you. Your boss does not need you. The business survived before you, and they will survive after you. To put it harshly, you are simply a cog in a machine. Yes, you are expendable to their business but DON’T FORGET that they, too, are dispensable to you. You can find a job ANYWHERE in NYC. Now I’m not saying that you should have no qualms about burning bridges left-and-right, but I am saying that keeping your job isn’t a matter of life-or-death. You can find something else. Maintaining good connections is EXTREMELY valuable, but you need to set boundaries. If you don’t need to work 40 hours-a-week to survive, then don’t. I’ve started asking off for arbitrary days at my job, because they’ve been scheduling me too much. They don’t need to know why I’m asking off, but I need to set boundaries. I am the boss of my life, and I am not working 40+ hours every week when I don’t need all that money. And if you’re laughing at me for saying “I don’t need money”, just remember there is a difference between desire and necessity.

3) Establish a Supportive CommunityI cannot even begin to stress how important this is. This is one that I struggled with a LOT when I first moved here. When you move to a new city, it’s very easy to feel lonely. And when you live in a city like New York where almost everyone is specifically driven by their career goals, it’s VERY easy to feel lonely. Also it’s important to not have only actor friends, because it’s not always easy to be supportive of each other. Sometimes they lash out their own insecurities on you. Sometimes their insecurities start to seep their way into your own mind. And sometimes they just brag a lot and you want to choke them. So it’s important to find friends who don’t do theater. OR find theater friends who can go five minutes without mentioning: an upcoming audition, a past show they have been in, various casting directors, getting an agent, their favorite Elphaba riffs, etc. I am extremely lucky because two of my best friends from high school (soon to be three!!!) live in NYC. I realize how rare that is, and I am thankful every damn day. Neither of them do theater, and it’s amazing. Now if you aren’t as fortunate, there are still many possibilities! Go to church, volunteer, join a book club, join a sports team, join a meet-up. One of the great things about NYC is that so many people here are transplants from other cities; everyone is looking for a community. Starting up a conversation with a stranger is terrifying but as long as you’re not a creepy bitch, I’m pretty positive they’ll talk back to you! (Hint: don’t stare at their titties/pee-pee.) I also have a very supportive home community here. My roommates are amazing. We are all each others’ cheerleaders. I feel very loved and comfortable in my home. Also, I’ve made an effort to see friends on a weekly basis. My friend Jian Li and I try to hang out once a week in whatever way possible: coffee, dinner, whatever. And now my friend Stephanie and I just made plans a few weeks in advance to see a couple shows together. Sometimes having fun in NYC takes a bit of planning, but it’s be worth it! (Another typo that I find too funny to delete.)

4) Make a Home: Find an apartment you like and stay there. It will not be perfect, but you can still make it your home. Hang up some cool lighting in your room. Get pictures of the people you love, and tape them to the wall. Cook yourself your favorite meal. Get comfy shit for your bed. Get roommates that you like coming home to. Live somewhere you don’t hate, or learn to love where you live. For example, the window in my room opens into a courtyard where I regularly see my neighbor stick his dick out the window and pee. I don’t get much sunlight, and I see the same crusty dick every day. BUT my room stays cool in the summer, because I don’t have the sun shining through my window. And it’s easier to sleep in.  Just make your home a place that you like to be. Make it your safe haven on the days when you want to light bitches on fire.

5) Be More than an Actor: This is very important. My roommate Caity the other day was telling me that she read this thing about how freelance artists always pressure each other to be extremely busy, and they brag that they spent their day-off doing laundry. But that’s disgusting! For some reason, we as a society admire those people who go-go-go and never take a break. They seem invincible. But that’s not sustainable. Where’s the self-care?? Like Caity said: there are many other parts of you besides being an actor, and all these parts are equally as important and deserve to be nurtured, acknowledged and valued. My mom told me that it’s ok to take a break from auditioning sometimes. It’s hard for actors to accept this, because so many of us are thinking ‘WHERE’S MY NEXT JOB?!?!?!?’ But it’s okay to take a day off from auditioning and taking class and looking for the next audition. It’s okay to take a day to sit outside and read a book. Or to take a day to write a blog. Or to have a dinner party. Or to take a ceramics class. Or go hiking. Or go dancing in a club with your eyes closed. Or go on a date with someone who prematurely asks if they can fist you and then pee inside you (true story). Be a well-rounded human. Don’t be a theater bot; because you may be the life of the party for theater kids but you will be intolerable to everyone else.

6) Know When to Leave: I was in therapy last year, and my therapist helped me identify the signs of  being burnt out (which I feel like I am slowly approaching once again). For me, I know I’m burnt out when I’m crabby all the time, when I want to decapitate slow-walking strangers on the sidewalk, when I’m crying all the time, when I’m depressed, when I feel like a zombie just moving through the actions of my life, when I have no desire to do anything, when I have regular desires to not be here. It’s healthy to take a break from NYC (permanent or temporary). And while going home would be ideal, it’s not always financially feasible. It’s much more affordable to take a Megabus to Boston for a weekend. Or to take a train to D.C. and explore! Or to rent a car and drive to Upstate New York or the Jersey Shore. It’s super cheap to take a day off and ride the subway to a beach. Or go to Fire Island! Oh my god, these are amazing ideas, and now I’m super excited to go on a mini-vacation. There are little getaways all over. Escaping the concrete jungle is not impossible! Don’t become one of those people who start rotting from the inside out; go away and recharge your batteries every now and then.

7) Make Your Own Art: You don’t need to be cast in a show to be creating art. Don’t wait for a casting director to grant you the right to create. DO IT NOW, DAMNIT. Get a guitar and learn to play it and sing songs and then go play at an open mic or in the subway terminal. Find a scene you want to do with a friend, and DO IT. You don’t need an audience! You’re making art even if you’re not getting paid for it, and if that fulfills you that’s how you know you’re an artist. But whatever you do, USE your art. Don’t let your creativity go to waste. Your creativity is an energy, and it cannot be destroyed. If you don’t use your gifts, they don’t just leave you. They sit inside you, begging to be expressed. And if you ignore these creative urges, they’ll eat away at you. You’ll start hating your friends for using their gifts. You’ll start tearing down the people around you to make yourself feel better about squandering your talents. Then you’ll start to think that you suck since you haven’t been practicing your craft. It’s an awful downward spiral. So just express your creativity. Grant yourself permission to create. It’s never too late.

8) Do Something: New York has boundless possibilities for you. And yet sometimes it’s easy to feel immobilized by the countless opportunities. For me, I feel like there are a million things I could do. I could pursue stand-up comedy, I could try drag, I could pursue musical theater, straight plays or film, I could pursue modeling, I could pursue writing, I could pursue something philanthropic. There are so many possibilities that sometimes I don’t even know where to start! And so I do nothing. But here’s what I should do instead: pick something I like and give it a shot. Pick one thing and go violently in that direction. Give it your all, and see what happens! If it doesn’t turn out, then pick the next thing on the list. There are a billion available back-up plans in NYC! So it’s okay to “fail” at shit. That’s fine! Just think of the amazing stories you’ll be able to tell when you’re an old whore! Just pick something and go. Just move in a direction. Any direction is forward.

9) Compare Yourself to No One but You: This is essential. If I spent my time comparing myself to my friends, I would never get out of bed. My friends are amazingly talented humans, and they have some really awesome things happening for their careers. But their success does not negate mine. I am not any less talented just because my friends are talented. It’s useless comparing my journey to theirs. They have totally different life experiences than I do. They have different skills and different goals. So why would I compare? It’s like comparing a fork and a spoon. They’re both awesome, but one is meant for frightening bar patrons while the other is for binge-eating Frosted Flakes. I want to only compare myself to me. Have I made progress since I first moved here? Have I honed my craft since moving here? Am I better equipped to survive in NYC than I was two-and-a-half years ago? YES, YES, YES A MILLION TIMES YES! (That was an orgasm. Thank you.)

10) Believe in Something: I know this is hard. I know this is very, very hard. But this is what keeps me going. I am imbued with these gifts for a reason. When I feel like everything is against me and I think, ‘Should I give up? Should I just try something else? Are these signs that I’m going the wrong way?’, I just remind myself: ‘No. I wasn’t given these gifts for nothing. I am navigating a difficult path, but I will have retribution. And it will  be sweet as fuck.’ Know that not everything happens for a reason, but every event has significance. I don’t think there is a reason that my grandmother died. But I do know that it was like having a bucket of ice cold water thrown in my face. I was reminded that I don’t have all the time in the world. I was shown what sacrifices I’m willing to make. I don’t think that it happened in order to teach me these lessons, but this is what I’ve learned because of it. I believe that I have a specific purpose on this earth. I believe that I am here for a reason. I don’t think that my desires and skills are an accident. I believe I’m supposed to do something with them. This fuels my fire on the days when I feel like everyone is taking a diarrhea-dump on my fucking face.

 

New York City is an adventure. I don’t know if it’s the city or if it’s the age that I’m at, but I’m learning a lot about myself. I’m learning what’s important to me. I’m learning what I’m willing to let go of. I’m learning what battles are worth bleeding for. I’m learning who I really love and the types of people I need to be around. I’m learning about the capacity of my heart. I’m learning what success means to me. I’m learning my breaking points. I’m learning where I want to go.

These are my guidelines for a basic New York City survival guide.

And remember: it’s okay to be a little bit selfish at this point in your life…

Just don’t be a fucking douchebag.

😉

Don’t give up,

James

(Look at these awesome pictures!!!!)

48.1

This is a picture of my mom with my nephew, Jackson. I had a rough night a few days ago, and I looked at this picture for a good twenty minutes.

48.2

I’m trying to get started in modeling. My friend Reeves Watson took this picture. I like to call it “Hey Good-Lookin’, You Look Like a Bucket of Chicken that I Wanna Stick My Dick In”

 

43. James Stops Drinking

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I have mastered the art of bamboozling other twenty-somethings living in New York; I gave up alcohol. Just ‘cuz.

“Wait, did something really bad happen? Did someone, like, die?”

No. Nopey nopes. Nobody died. I just don’t really like drinking. Don’t get me wrong, I think some of it is DELICIOUS: Jack & Ginger, Pinot Noir, Captain & Coke, ANYTHING WITH MALIBU. But I hate everything else that comes with it.

I don’t like feeling altered. When I drink, I don’t feel completely myself anymore. I understand that some people really enjoy that feeling of escapism, but I don’t. I want to be me. I don’t want to drink to make myself more tolerable to other or myself, and I don’t want to drink to escape my life. I’d rather deal with it head-on, because all my bullshit will still be here when I come down. People used to tell me, “You’re so funny when you’re drunk.” And I would think, ‘Bitch, I’m a spitfire when I’m sober, too! But when I’m sober, I’m making intentional humor with my wit and my story-telling instead of when I’m drunk and you’re just laughing at my googly-eye.’ Drinking makes me feel slightly less aware, and I don’t want that. I want to feel my life. I don’t even like taking medicine when I have a cold or ibuprofen when I have a headache. All of that weirds me out and makes me feel like I’m not getting the full experience of every day. I want to be here.

I also felt like I was drinking to satisfy other people my age. Because twenty-somethings LOVE to drink. What do twenty-somethings do for fun: DRAAAAAAANK. What do twenty-somethings do after work: get a cocktail. What do twenty-somethings do on the weekend: go out drinking, go to bed, wake up for brunch and then DRINK SOME MORE. I realize that this is a generalization, but this is what I’m finding to be true for a majority of the people I see in NYC. But when I would go out with my friends, I ended up drinking to make them feel less self-conscious. You know how if you and a friend go to a diner but only they are hungry, they won’t want to eat because they’ll feel self-conscious? Drinking is like that but times a MILLION. I would go out with friends, and I wouldn’t intend on drinking. But if I’m sitting there not drinking while they are, they feel judged. As if I’m judging them. Then they start questioning themselves, which is NOT my intention; I just came out so I don’t have to be alone; I did not want to make all these people second-guess their life choices. So then they’ll say, “Come on, James. Just have one drink.” And being the people-pleaser that I am, I’ll have a drink. And then on the train ride home I’ll feel something similar to self-loathing as I realize that once again I’ve done something I didn’t want to do to please the people around me. So I realized my solution: don’t go to bars. Now, as a 24-year old gay actor living in New York City who doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs, I have significantly decreased the amount of social gatherings I am likely to be invited to and, ultimately, attend. In layman’s terms, I am fucked when it comes to making friends.

(As a sidenote: I do not judge people who like drinking or smoking or do drugs. It’s just not for me.)

This is an example of a conversation I’ve had:

Potential Friend: Hey, do you want to go out for drinks later?
Me: I don’t drink.
PF: …Why?
Me: I don’t like it.
PF: Oh, but you, like, smoke, right?
Me: Nope. I don’t really do anything.
PF: Oh, but, if you were at a club you would do Molly, right?
Me: Nah.
PF: So what do you do when you go to bars then?
Me: I don’t really go to bars.
PF: Oh, that’s…cool…

But a typical day-to-day conversation goes like this:

Potential Friend: Hey.
Me: Hey, what’s up?
PF: Damn, you’re tall.
Me: I know.
PF: Wanna get a drink?
Me: I don’t drink.
PF:………why?!!??!

As if I’ve just told them that I like to chew the gum from under the seats in the movie theater. I realize that I’ve added limits to my social life. And when I talk about how it’s difficult for me to make friends, people say, “Well, can’t you go out to a bar and not drink?” And I say, “Is it fun to go out to dinner with your friends and watch them eat?” But having this conversation on the daily makes me feel like an aberration. And maybe I am.

After writing my last blog about saying goodbye to some of my besties, the loneliness really started to settle in. Not only do I have fewer friends in the city, but I also am struggling with how to make friends with people my age. So I really hunkered down on furthering myself in my career. I started going to ballet class about three times a week. I’m practicing songs in my book, and I’m adding new songs to my book. I’m auditioning. I’m looking into getting into modeling. But even though my career won’t wake up one morning and tell me it doesn’t love me anymore, it won’t hang out with me at the end of a long day, make me giggle, pick stray boogers out of my nose and tell me it loves me. And I’ve found the fundamental source of my suffering: I don’t respect myself.

My lack of self-respect has consequences that have really hurt me. I did things to appease other people who I realized wouldn’t do the same for me. I’ve engaged in emotionally abusive relationships, and I’ve let myself be used physically. And I let those things permeate my being. And I’ve said, “ENOUGH, GOD DAMNIT. I WANT MY LIFE BACK.”

I’m starting therapy tomorrow. I was nervous I wasn’t going to be fucked up enough to qualify for sliding-scale therapy. She asked me if I started fires and I thought to myself, ‘If I say yes, am I more likely to receive care?’ But I told the truth, and she accepted me and called me “high-functioning”. I blushed and took her evaluation of my mental health as a compliment.

This is my life, god damnit, and I’m done living it for other people.

Seize this day, Jesus,
James

(As a sidenote: I am trying to strengthen my relationships with the friends that I do have in the city, so please don’t feel marginalized if you are one of those lovely people.)

39. James Prepares His Going-Home Speech

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There are a few things to expect if you are moving out to New York to follow your dreams of becoming an actOR. For example, whenever you come home people will ask you, “So, have you done any shows lately?” That’s the first thing to expect. The second thing you should expect will be your sudden impulse to make your life sound super cool. Like this:

“No, but I smiled at Fred Armisen the other day and then he looked back at me like he saw dried blood between my teeth.”

or…

“No, but my neighbor got murdered so that reeeeeeally sucks for me.”

“No, but I waited on the executive producers of this hit reality show and they yelled at me and some of their spit went in my mouth.”

“No, but I cater for this company and they only hire pretty guys so I’m, like, pretty and stuff.”

“No, but the other day this stranger told me I was handsome and then kept walking.”

“No, but I accidentally sat on this girl on the subway and she called me a ‘tall, skinny motherfucker’ but she also called me ‘skinny.”

“No, but I walked out of my apartment the other day in shorty shorts and someone said, ‘LEGS!'”

 

I get all nervous, because when someone asks something as simple as, “How’s New York?”, I automatically hear, “How successful are you?” When people ask how New York is,I feel like they want to hear about how awesome it is. And how fun it is. And how fulfilling it is to follow your dreams. I feel the need to say, “New York is super awesome! Every day is a success! And the only reason I’m not currently cast in a show is because all the casting directors fought over me and it ended in a bloody massacre with zero survivors. Gr! Doesn’t that suck?” But what I really want to say is the truth:

“New York City is my abusive boyfriend to whom I’m addicted.”

“I was released from my show, because I am too tall to play the role of myself.”

“The other day I totally embarrassed myself in an audition, because I didn’t have a suitable additional song when asked.”

“Everyone in NYC is so gorgeous it makes me wanna stuff my underwear just so I feel more confident.”

“The other day I was waiting tables, and I got so desperate for food that I ate cake out of the garbage.”

“One day while waiting tables, I started crying because I couldn’t find any clean forks…. FORKS, FOR FUCK’S SAKE!”

“I go to the bathroom to talk to myself in the mirror when I’m feeling shitty.”

“When I get up in the middle of the night to pee, I turn on the light in my room because I watch too many scary movies.”

“The other day at an audition, I ran into a guy who I was seeing that randomly stopped responding to my calls and texts. And then I HAD TO MAKE AWKWARD CONVO IN THE ELEVATOR WITH HIM.”

(True stories. All around.)

This time when I came home, I was on the plane thinking about what my plan of attack was gonna be. How am I going to make my life sound super flawless and totally sin-tacular?! What will my angle be? But after much deliberation, I decided to be honest without making people wanna cry for me Argentina. When asked about New York, I was vulnerable and truthful: “It’s hard. It’s really, really hard and really, really expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of fun. But it’s hard. I have a good network of friends who have become my family, and I love them to death. I’ve realized how important it is to come home to people who make you want to come home at the end of the night. Because being away from Waunakee, my HOME home, it’s easy to feel lost. My apartment isn’t the physical symbol of home like my house in Waunakee. But coming to my apartment at the end of the day to people who are excited to see me and vice versa, that feels like home. And my friends have become my home. So blah! It’s hard work but I love it for the most part. And I’m not giving up.”

And you know, the phrase I’ve heard most since being home is:

“James, I’m proud of you.”

I’ve heard: “James, it’s not easy but you’re still sticking it out. You’ve been out here for almost two years, and you’re still going. It’s really hard in a city like New York not to be dragged down into the dumps. So good for you. I just want you to know I’m proud of you.”

I’ve been feeling pretty lost lately. But you know, I feel like when I look at my life since moving to New York, I think, ‘Well, James, keep going and maybe you’ll eventually accomplish something worth being proud of.” But the people I love are already proud. It really warmed my heart, and it gave me the inspirational fuel I needed to keep going. Because I should be proud of myself. I moved out to New York one-and-a-half years ago. I can now afford groceries. I’ve booked 5 jobs so far in my field. I have a nice apartment. I have an amazing group of friends. I’m finally catching fire with certain casting directors; they’re remembering me by name. I’m still auditioning. I’m taking dance class and voice lessons. I’m taking care of my body. I still care about being  a kind person. And I try really hard not to sit on people when the bus suddenly jerks forward while I’m trying to plant myself in a seat.

Oh, and I’m not giving up.

And then all the really cool things about my life in New York come to mind:

I can wear the gayest outfit in New York and not give two shits.

I can go wherever I want whenever I want.

I get to pursue my dreams.

I get to ride the subway with Vanessa Bayer.

I have a manager who believes in me.

I have an acting coach who believes in me.

I have a voice teacher who believes in me.

I have friends who believe in me.

And I have a million people in Wisconsin rooting for me.

 

Bitch, I’m still fighting and working and serving up body-ody-ody, Jesus. And I is not giving up. And that is something to be very proud of, James.

 

“Kendrick have a DREAM!”
~”Backseat Freestyle” by Kendrick Lamar

#DONTGIVEUP

JAMES

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38. James Waits Tables and Flashes Nipple

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Y’all. I haven’t flashed a nipple….yet. BUT I WOULD. Cuz I work hard for the money.

So let me just rewind a little bit.

I haven’t blogged in awhile. And I’ve been feeling super lost lately. But tonight, I helped this young lady carry her two heavy suitcases up two flights of stairs today and I thought, ‘This is me.’ So I’m trying to get back to me. I’m gonna start blogging every day again. Perhaps this blog project will end when I am successful artistically. Until then, I will be blogging about my life and my trials and tribulations, Jesus, until I get there. So what I’m trying to say is: this blog may be a little rickety. Like a dick pulled out of a dirty butthole, I’m a little rusty. So please bear with me.

Back to the hot mess that is my life:

I’m not telling you what restaurant I work at. But I will tell you it is in New York City. It is near Times Square. We get lots of tourists. We get lots of foreigners who pretend to not be able to read and pretend to not know about tipping.

Ok. So. If you’ve never waited tables, you better THANK GOD. But. You also be a nice fucking person. Because if you HAVE waited tables, then you have dealt with the rudest of bitches, and you know how awful people can be. You know that people can make you feel like less than a person. If you’ve waited tables ever, this is me giving you a long-distance hug. Or a long-distance blow-job. Whatever would be more comforting for you. If you plan on waiting tables in NYC: this is the blog for you. If you never plan on waiting tables but you constantly hear how waiting tables helps you be a more appreciate person: this is the blog for you.

First: tips for people who want to make tips.

1) When there is a party of at least 6: ADD THE FUCKING GRATUITY. For most restaurants, when there is a party of 6 or more, you can add gratuity to the bill automatically. I say: ADD IT. I don’t care if you think the table is gonna tip you more than the automatic gratuity (also known as “auto-grat”). ADD IT. Cuz I have been fucked (in the bad way) by tables that I trusted. You’re not waiting tables to make friends; it’s business. So be a good businessperson. And make dat paper. You gotta take care of you. Add the grat.
2) Don’t take it too seriously. It’s just food. And your table is just a table of crabby bitches that you’ll never see again. Don’t run. Don’t pull a James and cry in the kitchen when you can’t find clean glassware. Take a deep breath, find the object that most resembles a cup, and deliver it to your table with the sexiest, toothiest smile you’ve got, baby. It’s just a job. And if you get fired, you’ll just get another one that makes you less suicidal.
3) Be nice. To everyone. The nicer you are to the bartender, the faster your drinks get made. The nicer you are to the food runners, the faster your food gets delivered. The nicer you are to the busser, the cleaner your tables are. The nicer you are to the host, the better your section is maintained. The nicer you are to the manager, the more accommodating they are to your fucked-up schedule. The nicer you are to your table, THE MORE YOU CAN MAKE IT RAIN AT THE END OF THE NIGHT. It’s money.
4) Do what it takes to make that paper. Flirt. Just flirt. I don’t care how nasty your table is. I get foul people all the time. And they flirt. But girl, it’s MONEYSSSSSSS. No, I don’t want to suck your dick. I don’t even want to smell it. But I will pretend that I do because I know you’re gonna leave me a bigger tip. Do what it takes y’all. It’s business. Waiting tables can be soul-sucking. But you can also make really good money. Is it worth it? It’s up to you. But in the meantime  put your dignity in a box and play the game. And pull out a nipple. Or a ball. Whatever makes your table wet.
5) Make your table feel special. Try to accommodate their special requests. And when you do, make it know that you went out of your way. Say something like, “I’m not supposed to do this but…. here you go.” Or, “Don’t tell on me! Sh!” They love it. They love feeling special. And they might even leave you a few extra dollars.
6) Look pretty. It may not be right. But it’s business.
7) Ask for help. If you are slammed, ask another server for help. My manager’s have helped me before when I have suddenly exclaimed, “I’M DROWNING,” in the middle of a brunch shift. Ask the host not to seat you until you catch up and get out of the weeds.
8) Don’t steal from the tip pool. You may think it’s your money. But you’re fucking over everyone else. Cuz you may be keeping “your money” but you’re still getting all the money that the other servers are bringing in. You’re stealing from their pockets.

Alright. Here are a few pointers for people who go to restaurants:

1) Tip, god damnit. Your server is literally living off your tips. In NYC, the minimum wage for a server is $5/hr. I can’t live off that. You are literally paying their rent. Maybe it’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. And when you don’t tip your server, you’re basically fucking them over. They basically just worked for you for free. And that’s not fair.
2) Here are a list of things that aren’t your server’s fault:
Your drink took too long to make
Your food is cold
You food has a hair in it
Your server has too many tables and doesn’t have enough time for you
There is no more champagne
There are no clean forks
You can’t take boxes home at an All You Can Eat
Your drink isn’t strong enough
Your food is taking too long
You don’t like how your food tastes
It’s not happy hour
Alright. Understood? So. If these are one of the reasons that you don’t tip your server, that’s wrong. Because unless your server sucked, there’s no reason for you to not tip.

3) Be a nice fucking person. Because I can shit in your food. And it’ll still taste delicious. Maybe you had a bad dinner experience. But I’ve been dealing with buttheads like you for 6 hours. So pull it together for like 30 minutes and be nice.
4) Don’t rip up your napkin into a million pieces and then leave it on the table. What the hell y’all? Literally. What the hell. It’s a mess. And I don’t have time to clean up after your strange obsession with shredding your soiled napkin into a million fluttery pieces. Just don’t do it. And if you do do it, clean it up. Eat it. I don’t care. At least you’ll shit it into a toilet in one confined mess.
5) Don’t grab your server. They will turn into the Hulk. Or they will move slower. Either way, you won’t like it…
6) Educate your friends about tipping . I was hanging out with a girl from France and she was about to leave the crappiest tip. I told her that 20% was appropriate. Her response: “TWENTY PERCENT?!?!?!?!?” Yes. Yes. So I’m glad I saved her server that day. TWENTY. If you’re eating in NYC: TWENTY. FUCKING. PERCENT. 15%??? Ok. Remember this: after you tip me, I have to share that money with the bartender, the food runner and the busser. So if you tip me 15%, you’re actually leaving me much, much less. TWENTY. Say it with me: TWEEENTTTTYYYYY. Because lately, I’ve been making about $13/hr waiting tables. That’s ridiculous for a server. Caterers make $20/hr and they don’t do ANYTHING. I should be making $30/hr AT LEAST. So. Pull it together. If you can’t afford twenty percent, don’t go out to eat. I’m sorry, it may hurt your feelings. But it’s business. And if you can’t afford to pay me for my services, go to McDonald’s. Boom. I said it. Drown your sorrows in a McFlurry. You may shit yourself on the way home, but at least you didn’t fuck me.

Alright. I hope you learned a lot. I hope you were touched by this. And if you weren’t, go touch yourself. I hope you giggled. I hope you farted. I hope you’re currently farting.

Fart away, you weird bitches.

#DONTGIVEUP

James

37. James is Unraveling

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Hello. My name is James, and I am extremely insecure.

(*in your most convincing monotone, uninterested voice*: “Hi, James…”)

I feel like I used to have a really good handle on all of this. I felt most confident about myself my senior year of college. I was blogging every day about things that made me happy. I was spending a lot of time with people who really cared deeply for me. I was getting a lot of positive feedback on my blog. I felt like I was helping people; I felt like I was serving a purpose larger than myself. When I finished my Happiness Project 365, I felt happy, content, grateful. It made me teary-eyed how joyful I was. So that ended September 2011.

Flash forward to now. March 2013. One-and-a-half years later. I’m standing on the subway platform covering my face with my scarf, talking aloud to myself: “There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m perfectly fine the way I am. I’m beautiful. I’m sexy. I’m talented. I’m kind. I’m important. (*Repeat from the beginning with increasing speed, making me look like someone literally trying to fight off the Devil)”

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Well… “fallen” sounds too graceful. How bout “Oh, how the mighty have flown from their bikes and landed on the ground with a broken collarbone, a body full of abrasions, stained with black road rash and embedded all over with dirty rocks from the pavement.” Yes, that sounds more accurate.

I feel myself becoming someone I’m not. Someone who I don’t want to be. And it literally feels like the war of my life. Dramatic, I know. The last time I felt this bad was the beginning of my senior year where I literally felt like I was gripping to my sanity by my fingertips, reeling from the worst break-up of my life. And it wasn’t all in my head. I was remembering it aloud once with Jian Li and I said, “I literally felt like I was losing my mind.” And she said, “I know. I was there.” And I’ll never forget that conversation with her, that feeling of validation, that feeling of Wow, that was real… that was close.

And here I am again, but this time I’m not recovering from a break-up. It caught me by surprise. It’s not fun looking up from the bottom of this stupid well, mentally feeling as busted as Samara (yes, that little demon girl from The Ring). And I’m not sure how I got here. And I’m not sure how it snuck up on me so quietly. But the other day it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I realized… I feel so inadequate. Like I’m not enough. Or I’m just not right.

My chest isn’t big enough.
My arms aren’t big enough.
My abs aren’t defined enough.
My ass isn’t big enough.
I’m not masculine enough.
I’m too tall.
My feet are too big.
I’m not rich enough.
My hair isn’t thick enough.
I’m not talented enough.
I’m not brave enough.
I’m not sexy enough.

I had just read Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and it really woke me up. I’m waiting until I have more money, a better body and constant theater work to love myself. Subconsciously, I told myself, “James, I will love you when you complete this list. I will love you then.”

When I realized that, I felt like a dementor had put their “lips” to mine and sucked all the air out of my lungs. And immediately after that feeling, I felt that sudden sink of dread in my stomach. It felt like I had eaten a bowling ball and it was starting to rot in my stomach. Because at the moment I realized: “James. We have a problem. And now you have realized it. You have addressed it. Now here is the moment where you decide: Am I going to do something about this? Or will I be content with feeling incomplete?”

It took me a while to do something about it. I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling. I’m a 23 year-old gay man who is struggling with masculinity, trying to bulk up to look more like a “man” while constantly missing my family so much it makes me cry… I wasn’t about to further undermine my masculinity by saying aloud, “I feel unpretty. *cue the Lucille Ball wail* WAAAAAAAHHHHHH!”

But I hit my lowest point two nights ago. I cracked. And it really starting eating away at me. I felt the beautiful parts of me corroding while the ugly insecurity took over. It started  to interfere with my personal relationships. And I realized it had been eating away at me for a while. It had been fucking up my relationships for a while. I had been waiting for someone else to make me feel complete. I was waiting for someone else to make me like myself. I think part of me knew that this insecurity was there all along. But I wasn’t facing it head-on. I let it throw wrenches in the gears of my friendships and I didn’t hold my insecurity accountable. I let myself take the blame. Because I was too ashamed to talk about my insecurity. I felt like, “Oh, how cliche. An insecure, gay actor. Why don’t you just go cry about your pirouettes and really seal the deal.”

But I’ve had it. In the words of the drag queen Detox: ” I’VE HAD IT. OFFICIALLY.”

Lately, I’ve felt myself unraveling. And it’s fucking terrifying. It feels like I dropped a spool of thread and it’s falling out of my heads faster than I can gather it all. But I’m not gonna sit here and take it anymore. And I have a few strategies.

STRATEGIES FOR COMBATING THAT ASSHOLE VOICE IN MY HEAD
1) Journaling. Whenever I feel myself really struggling with something, something that I really want to get to the bottom of and understand more clearly, I pull out my journal. On the subway mostly. But sometimes I can’t take it anymore. I can’t stand knowing something is deeply bothering me and not understand the root of it. This really helps me discover the little hole into which insecurity is sneaking. It helps me truly feel like I’m getting a handle of the situation.
2) Talking aloud to myself. This is maybe the most successful. It helps me shut up that asshole voice really quickly. Whenever I start to feel like I’m not good enough, I just starting talking aloud. I don’t say the awful things aloud. I only say the kind things aloud. Because those things are true. “I am important. I’m perfectly fine the way I am. I matter. I’m beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with me.”
3) Self-help books. They really help me change my perspective. They help me see myself in a different light and I start to really believe myself. I plan on getting back into this this week.

I refuse to wait for other people to make me feel good enough. On the same hand, I refuse to let other people determine my self-worth. I am good enough because I say so, god damnit.

This war starts today. I won’t win every battle, but I won’t give up.

Bring your A-Game, Asshole-Voice. Cuz I’m coming for you guns-a’blazin.

#DONTGIVEUP

I’ll need y’all more than ever:

37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 37.5 37.6 37.7 37.8 37.9 37.10 37.11 37.12 37.13

I love you.

JAMES.