Feb 262010

…It’s been a while. Where should we begin?

Ok, I own up to it. I’ve utterly and completely neglected my personal blog because I’m all over social networking and any time I feel like expressing my thoughts, feelings, or what is going on in my life I do so using 140 characters or less.

Wheew. There, I said it. Acceptance is the first step towards recovery, is it not?

Although I’m not entirely certain I really WANT to recover.

Really, I’m enjoying the hell out of the whole social media thing these days. I like being in contact with an interesting bunch of people all throughout my day, and it reminds me of the old days that I used to sit in MIRC chat rooms just to talk to people. That said I realize it sounds kind of sad and pathetic if you really scrutinize it (“So you sit on a computer all day in order to be social, huh?”), but I think that it’s safe to say I have a fairly active social life outside of computer world so I’m not worrying too much about it.

I’ve been doing a lot of introspection of late trying to sort out who I am as far as an artist and what I can do to make something more of my talents, and the whole social media world is one place that I feel I can develop my skills further. I’m working on a solo podcast that I’ll hopefully be launching after this weekend, and of course there’s always the writing that I do for sites like ShrinkGeek. I’ve thought about doing some kind of video podcasts as well, but for now maybe I’ll just stick to the audio stuff.

This is all based off of the VERY Generation X attitude that the entire world should think that what I have to say is extremely important. Fact of the matter is that I’m sure most people just don’t give a shit.

And yet I shall carry on.

I seem to have developed a fan club among my sons teenage friends after they found out that I set up a Formspring account. I am, apparently, the coolest dad ever. One of his friends added me as a friend on Facebook and engaged me in a conversation on IM there Wednesday night that was actually quite entertaining and lasted for about an hour (my son is not, apparently, the only teenager with a brain that can carry on a conversation with adults. Who knew?). All of this simply goes to show that I’m not as “old” as I feel I am. The kids! They still think I’m cool!


I’m happy to say that my life has finally gotten back to some kind of normal routine now that I’ve wrapped up my involvement in two concurrent productions with Jobsite. I’m not complaining about being involved in two shows in a row, mind you. I’d happily do a whole season if they wanted me to. It does take a whole lot of my time to do them, though, and there are only so many spoons one has to take care of things in the course of a day. My weight is often one of the things that suffers during those times, and I put back on about 8 of the pounds that I lost during my big push last year. I did not, however, completely slack off on the exercise front and I’ve already taken off some of that eight already. I’m still running about 3 times a week, too. I still have a hard time getting my head around THAT particular phenomenon.

Last weekend I took Alex to audition for the Pinellas County Center for the Arts, which is the same arts magnet program that I graduated from 20 years ago. As a matter of fact, according to the administrator that runs the program (the same man who ran it when I graduated), if he is accepted and chooses to attend the program he will be the first second generation PCCA student. That’s pretty damned cool in my not-so-humble opinion. He’s still on the fence about it, though, as most of his friends are going to St. Petersburg High School. I really hope he decides to go to PCCA, but if he chooses not to that’s cool too. He has to do what makes him happy. I personally think he’d be happiest at PCCA, but that could just be me.

There’s more I could write about but I need to jump in the shower and head to work so I think I shall cut this here. An exciting post? No, not really. But hey, life is what it is.

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  8 Responses to “Hello my friends we meet again…”

  1. That’s really cool about Alex, Mike.

    I go back and forth on the social media thing. I do have frequent pangs of “isn’t it pathetic that this is my social interaction.” And I am particularly frustrated that my hyperfluency (a symptom of my bipolar disease) often leads me to post comments that, after reflection, make me cringe. Sometimes I’m just embarrassed to spend so much time on it.

    When I’m feeling forgiving of myself, however, here’s what I think (do you mind if I explore this a bit? Don’t mind if I do!): I think for most adults, their off-time socializing revolves around small communities of mutual interest — in the case of you and me and many of our friends, off-hours socializing is a natural outgrowth of work friends or theater friends; the workday, or the rehearsal, blends somewhat naturally into time at a restaurant or bar. It’s far less common that we make specific arrangements to play together in ways that do not naturally proceed from another activity.

    That scenario presents a variety of challenges for me. I think like many actors, I often feel like something of an imposter at my day job. I’m an artist, I think, but I put on grownup clothes and go to a cubicle far too early in the morning and pretend to be someone I’m not in order to earn a living. That feeling is ego bullshit, of course; I AM an artist, but I have spent far more hours in other professional endeavors, and those endeavors have as much to do in shaping who I am as anything else. Still, I often fear that I really don’t have much in common with co-workers, that I’m always faking the time I spend with them and we have not much of a basis for off-hours fun. I don’t mean that as condescendingly as it sounds — many of my co-workers are brilliant, creative people, and artists with superior “I’m so different and creative that they can’t possibly understand me” attitudes make me stabby. Still, although I’m far more open at work about being an actor than I used to be, it’s hard navigating the assumptions people make about your character as soon as they hear that. I was once told I was denied a promotion because I was too “theatrical” and wondered if my behavior would have been interpreted differently had they not already known I acted. All of which is a way of saying that off-hours fun simply doesn’t evolve naturally from my day job, and I’m just not motivated to force it.

    That leaves other actors. And social activities with actors tend to concentrate around people who work very often with the same group of actors so that they are in regular contact (often because they have a formal association with a specific company), or people who, for the moment, share a show. Actor friends do collect outside these situations, but it is far less common. And that’s natural. If the cast of a show gathered at the Hub, sure, if they knew me they’d welcome me if I showed up, but they wanna talk about the show, or the business of company putting on the show. I have no basis in the conversation, I am a fifth wheel. So I do not seek out those situations; I feel awkward, and it shows. That lack of commonality is exacerbated by other ways my life differs from theirs; almost none of my theater friends have children, few are married. Many of my actor friends are not interested in that 90% of my life — some have made a very conscious choice to avoid my lifestyle, and surely aren’t interested in hearing about it. That’s OK — I’m plenty happy to talk about what they want to talk about. But it does broaden the chasm.

    As you know, I have a four-year-old daughter who lives with me, and two teenage sons who do not. Whenever I do a show, rehearsal and performance hours come straight out of the bank I save up for family. I still act — I HAVE TO act — but I limit myself, for the time being, to one show a year. That’s a couple of months a year I have something genuine and current in common with the group. And even then… I’ve never been comfortable hanging at a bar late at night without Jo… I’ll do it now and then, and Jo’s perfectly cool with it, but it feels wrong, it feels neglectful, at least if done often. She can’t join me — four year old. And most of the socialization takes place late at night when a sitter is an impossibility. Sitters are a problem at any time, because they want $10+ an hour, which makes an evening out pretty costly and makes a movie at home even more attractive. Friends sometimes sit for us in emergencies, but we really try not to abuse that privilege.

    Add to that this: Although I am outwardly gregarious, I am, at heart, a homebody, and I feel so awkward in social situations that I lack much motivation to overcome the other hurdles to socialization — it’s so easy to just let it go and go home.

    SO…. Social media. For me, facebook — and only facebook. I can enjoy the company of people I know here, and many others I’ve known elsewhere. It can happen when I am anywhere, at anytime. We can engage with one another only in those areas where our lives intersect, and not feel like we are butting in where we don’t belong. We can discover things about each other that bring us closer, reveal common ground, that might never come up in another social setting. When I have nothing to say, I can say nothing. (Although it’s amazing how often I say something anyway — bipolar. But at least I don’t have to look at the puzzled/annoyed faces across the restaurant table when I do.)

    My family is the best company anyone could have. But everyone needs friends. And the particulars of my life, and of the people who most naturally would be my face-to-face friends under different circumstances, make frequent contact with friends simply impractical. Once a year, I do a show, hang out a little, often get to know people I already liked a little bit better, usually meet some young people, which is always nice. (Although this year my 1 play is a 1-man show, a very poor choice from a social perspective.) The rest of the year I enjoy my family, casual workday time with work friends, and I engage with cool people from all over the country on facebook. Much as I try not to, I do embarrass myself there now and then, even get into the odd argument, but I’m getting much better about avoiding both over time, and those things would happen in person, too, with possibly worse consequences.

    So for me, Facebook = good. It = fun. I like it. I’m not gonna feel bad about it. That is all. I’m eager to hear your thoughts if you’d like to share them.

    What’s the word limit for comments on this thing anyway?

    • A few brief comments here – perhaps more later.

      For one I had no idea you were bipolar. Changes nothing in my opinion of you, but coupled with your explanations about hyperfluency explains where you were coming from when I’ve seen you exhibit the behavior you talk about above in the past (comment a lot then apologize and back away).

      Two – I could have written a LOT of this myself.

  2. Thanks Mike. For the record, I don’t make a secret about my bipolar, but I don’t make a big deal out of it either. It’s been my experience that if I’m open about it, I find out 1/2 my friends suffer from some sort of mental illness and have been trying to hide it, and are relieved to have a chance to come out of the closet. (It’s like miscarriages — you never hear about them until you experience one, and then suddenly you find out everyone you know has had one too.) So I think we should all be open — secrets make people feel ashamed. That said, it’s important not to define yourself by it or use it as an excuse. I’m a grownup, I’m responsible for my own choices and behavior, being bipolar does not get me off the hook for making bad choices. But knowing I’m bipolar sometimes can help me understand partly why I do something, which can lead to improvement. And can allow me to forgive myself, which is not the same thing as not taking responsibility.

    FYI, while I have always struggled with my weight and my eating habits suck, my HUGE weight gain over the last five years is largely the result of medication I take to manage my bipolar. So I can be fat but better balanced and better for my family, or I can be skinny and crazy. I choose fat. One day there’ll be a better medicine and I can have a girlish figure again like you. 🙂

  3. I was taking Lexapro, Lamictal and Wellbutrin. I dropped the Lexapro a year ago. Maybe this year I can let the Wellbutrin go, I dunno yet. I’d like to be clean one day but I’ve been warned the Lamictal may be forever — it’s the one that “evens you out,” treats the primary symptom. This is the regimen I started five years ago after earlier (unsuccessful) attempts with other treatments, such as Effexor and Topamax. (FYI, Lamictal and Topamax were both developed as anti-seizure drugs, but it was discovered that they also level out bilpolars.) There’s lots of disagreement about which of these if any cause weight gain, and when. But there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that they can cause huge gains in certain people, especially in combination — people who were thin their whole lives report their weight going off the charts after starting these. It’s a real problem, because some patients get so upset about the weight gain that they go off their meds, because we live in a culture where thin and impossible to live with is favored over balanced and fat. (God though wouldn’t balanced and thin be nice?)

    Let’s put it this way: Look at the American Buffalo pics — that was my last show before I began treatment. In fact, I had just started treatment — and was adjusting to it — during Boys Next Door. (That was FUN, let me tell you! I don’t remember much of it.)

    Anyway, you asked. YES I know I answered your whole question in the first sentence. Whatever.

    NOW — I’m sure your readers would appreciate your blog being about you now.

    • I was taking Wellbutrin for a while to deal with depression in the wake of my divorce. Through therapy I eventually got myself to a place where I felt I could function without it and I went off. I never really felt all that different when i was taking it, but man..coming off was a nightmare.

  4. Pills are funny… they affect everyone differently. I saw a psychiatrist for the first time in the wake of MY divorce, and was put on Prozac — which put me into completely debilitating crying jags which I had never had before. Wellbutrin helps some people, doesn’t help others. I’m really happy that you landed well. 🙂

  5. Mr. McGreevy mentioned me in his blog?!?!?! Surely, the rest of the fanclub will be jealous. I will be a prophet for their idol, a messenger for their god! I will be elevated to super star status! Now all I need is a lock of your hair to show them that I am the true Prophet! I mean… What?

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