This Is All Completely Backward

I haven’t blogged since my mental break, and that’s because I’ve been picking up the pieces. But something truly mind-blowing happened to me the other night, and I want to tell you about it.

I’ve spent the last month getting back to the start. Reconnecting with the things that got me excited about being a writer and the people that I do it for. I binge-watched both seasons of Sports Night and realized I still want to hug Josh Charles. I finished that Chris Ryan novel I hadn’t had time to start. I discovered Human Target is back on cable TV and then went and thanked Mark Valley for putting up with me.

Then I wrote a random feature at about 4AM Tuesday morning. It’s one I’ve had in my head for a couple of months, but kept delaying because I was sure nobody would care how passionate I am about a character, an actor and their confluence. But I finally published it because I had to say it, like I was going to turn blue in the face if I didn’t. Okay, there’s me being weird again, we can all ignore it and move on.

But in the middle of me having the most loner moment ever (sitting at home, eating my TV dinner, binge-watching CNBC) my cell phone goes off. That would be the person I’d written about, who also happens to be one of my good friends, texting me because he’s seen the feature. He tells me how much it meant to him. He also says that he got it from his boss, who no less than five minutes later is tweeting me to thank me for writing it.

And I can’t tell you what happened in The Deed: Chicago because I spent the next 45 minutes texting with my friend, just enjoying catching up with him and being overjoyed to know I’d done something that mattered.

I spent too long getting caught up in the business. I was busy trying to make my optimum number of posts (all 100 of them per month just on One Chicago Center alone), hitting all of my deadlines, checking my site traffic to ensure I was making money off all my 16-hour days. As my friend Patti Murin once pointed out, we all have bills to pay, and even with all the work I do, I once did the math and realized I’m just a few hundred over the poverty line. That plus the fact that I still look like a 96-pound shell of my former self, and you can see why I had a breakdown.

But I never got into this for the money. I got into it because I’m hardwired to be a storyteller. Seriously, I think it’s built into me, because my daydreams are of having conversations with actors on set, going over my script. I once burned my hand in the oven because I was also having an argument with myself over who was the best lawyer on Law & Order (that would be Linus Roache).

And I stayed in it because I have had the pleasure of working with some exemplary people. I can’t tell you how it feels to watch one of my favorite shows and recognize that I know the person I’m watching. I’m still confused that Linus Roache knows my name, let alone talked to me twice and said he missed me at that Vikings party History forgot to invite me to. Every time Jeff Hephner turns up in something I literally squeal in delight (sorry, Jeff). There’s my pal Damon Gupton, who’s both an actor and a fantastic orchestra conductor, because obviously. How does Colin Donnell even care who I am? And I’m watching Philip Winchester give a career-redefining performance every Sunday, while remembering that I’m friends with Philip Winchester.

But I’m finding myself becoming more and more jealous. Thinking about how much I wanted that random cameo on Chicago Justice. Thinking that they’re off doing these awesome things every week, and what am I doing? Most likely I’m home, alone, talking to myself with an Excel spreadsheet of deadlines.

I turn 32 in a couple of months, and I don’t want that to be my life. I want to have something more to show for it. I’m incredibly passionate about telling good stories that are hopefully going to change the world, and I love doing that with great people. I want to be at the next party and not hear about it later. I want to spend more time with the people I care about and not stuck in my own head. I want more of what they’re doing, and not to have the magic all reduced to lines and numbers.

I play my part in everyone else’s story, but what’s my part, exactly? What are the stories they tell about me? (I’m seriously asking. I have no idea if anyone even tells any stories about me. I hope they’re good.)

So that’s what I’m focused on now (that and still fighting this respiratory illness, fuck you whatever you are). I’ve changed my cell phone wallpaper to that one good picture of me with Adam Levine so I have to look at it every day and remind myself that I’m friends with Adam Levine. So that somebody I care about stares me in the face every day and that’s what I’m constantly reminded of.

And I’m going to do a better job of keeping in regular contact with the people I love, whether it’s sending a text or a Twitter DM. Keep those people in my life, and be there for them, and allow them to be there for me. Because there’s no way I can be upset when I’m talking with the likes of Philip and Jeff and Damon and Colin and Patti.

But I’m probably still going to have the above expression on my face. Because I don’t think I’ll ever understand why.