The Housing Crisis - Part 1


Renting out one's apartment is an awful, tiresome, and frustrating task.

Refinancing one's mortgage is a process so convoluted, confusing, and frustrating that it should be reserved as a punishment for war criminals.

In April of 2012 I decided to try and rent out my apartment and refinance my apartment at the same time.

This was a poor decision.

I started by trying to sell my apartment. Or I thought I was going to sell my apartment. I had a broker come in and take a look at it, he said I could get my money back for what I paid for it. He said he'd call me to start the process.

I never heard from him again.

I invited another broker to look at my apartment, he was not as optimistic about me getting my money back... Because he wasn’t lying to me.

When I asked him how much he thought I could get for it he made what some people would call "a poop face" and started telling me about the real estate market.

It was at that point that I realized I would not be getting my money back.

Real estate broker suggested I rent out my apartment. After some thought and private counsel with my trusted board of advisers, or as I call them: mom, I decided to go ahead and try to rent my place.

My broker was excited. "great" he said. "when can you be out and have it painted?"

Ummm after you rent it for me?

Apparently my profound confidence, snappy dress, and impeccable grammar led apartment broker to think I was some sort of Vanderbilt who could afford to keep several homes around the city in which to stay in when I become bored with any of the others.

I told him he would have to rent my apartment with my stuff in it.

Well, its gonna be a lot harder to rent if its not empty.

Well, that's why I am not doing it. That's why I have you apartment broker. I didn't say you had to rent my apartment to a gnome, a red head, or Australian royalty, I just said rent it. I don't care how hard it is, just make it happen. When I go to a restaurant and I order a dish the chef doesn't come out and tell me how hard it is to make.

So apartment broker begins the process. He complains that it’s tough showing the apartment only at night and he could show it more if he had the keys. And there is nothing I love more than giving strangers keys to my apartment.

Regardless, I give him my keys.

Apartment broker complains that what I am asking in rent will be too high and we should lower the price. I tell him I NEED to get that rental price to cover my mortgage which I acquired in the spring of 2008 when the mortgage rate was just under 437 percent.

I realize I need to save some money somehow.

So now I go to see a new broker. Mortgage broker. He explains to me I can save a considerable amount every month by refinancing my mortgage. All I need to do is fax in several documents and forms to begin the process. I am excited. I begin the process.

Meanwhile every time I talk to apartment broker he tells me how my kitchen is too small and before they rented out a similar apartment they had to show it 35 times.

First of all, I start to loathe him.

Second of all I want to scream at him that I don’t care if he has to show it 100 times. You have the keys. That's why I gave you the keys, so I wouldn't have to care. Again, the chef doesn't come out of the kitchen and go

Oh geez guys sorry but I am having a hell of a time chopping this onion

No! He chops the fucking onion and makes me my dinner. You on the other hand insist on telling me all the minute intricacies of apartment renting that I have never once cared about until now. And looking at it now, I still don’t care about them.

Every time I get on the phone with him he wants to tell me everything about every prospective person. I ask him how its going and it’s like he hears me say “Hey, ramble for five minutes.” Every conversation sounds like this:

Ya know its tough we got a lot of traffic in the office and then we post ya know but we gotta make sure we get the right people because and then ya know I gotta deal with the board and you don't even wanna know what I gotta deal with.

You’re right. So please shut up and just rent my apartment.

Meanwhile after faxing in my forms, my mortgage broker explains to me that I have to have somebody assess my apartment to tell me what it's worth.

Good. I was hoping I could invite a stranger into my home to place a value on the thing that I own but no longer want to so must rent except at a lower cost than what I am currently paying now so that I could potentially lose money to not live in the place where I live.

Getting in touch with the, I don’t even know what to call him, apartment assessor, is like trying to track down a missing child but I finally succeed. This bozo calls me back and asks if he can come by my apartment at noon the following day. I tell him no because I have a job, like other adults. I ask him what times he works. He says

Monday to Friday 10 to 12.

Oh. Good. I was thinking this might be a challenging experience but if you work ten whole hours a week this should be a piece of cake.

Naturally, I should have anticipated what would happen when he showed up at my apartment.

To be continued…

Window Pain

I spent a lot of time staring out my window growing up. It’s just another thing dogs and I have in common (overeating, drooling, barking in our sleep). And I was reminded of that last week when a hurricane hit New York.

Granted by the time the hurricane arrived it was more of a tropical storm. But either way, I was pretty mellow until it hit. I kept playing it down about how I wasn’t that worried and it wasn’t going to be a big deal. Nonetheless I picked up some items from the grocery store and settled in for the weekend.

Friday and Saturday brought nothing much but when Sunday morning hit, the winds were blowing like crazy and the trees outside my top floor apartment were swaying and blowing in a way that kept making me worrying about what kind of insurance I had.

The trees kept swaying dramatically. And seeing how my apartment is next to trees that are probably 100 feet tall I suddenly realized…

I have a very good reason to be concerned.

The trees were bending and swaying so severely that I thought I might be a good idea to not sit so close to my window. And that is tough, because my computer is right next to my window. So I just sat on the opposite side of my living room being afraid of what the hell might happen to my window.

But the windows of my life have not typically been a happy entry point.

I remember being in college where I lived on the first floor of my dorm.  It was the handicapped dorm (a story for another day) and there was a window that went from floor to ceiling, about 8 feet high.

My bed was against the same wall as the window and the foot of it lined up just with the edge of the window.

Typically I would stay up late downloading songs from whatever service Napster had given birth to and watching MTV because I had never had cable before and I was absolutely stupid with excitement about it.

Most nights I would fall asleep pretty soundly, sometimes waking up to hear people being loud in the hallway as they stumbled in from being drunk at some frat party or other location that served alcohol to freshmen.

I shared a bathroom with a guy who was also the only person in his room and he was a nice enough kid, an artist who I didn’t talk too much and didn’t think much about.

My roommate had a friend that we’ll call Sara. I liked Sara; she seemed interested in my life and had big nice eyes and an easy smile. We’d interact maybe every other week and that’s about it.

Halfway into my stay at this dorm I was sound asleep in my dorm when somebody started banging on my door like they were part of a S.W.A.T. team. I woke up instantly and pulled my NY Yankees comforter around my neck.

I was terrified. Was it the cops? A robber?

If I had time to actually contemplate I would have realized neither of those could possibly have been true, but when its 2:30 in the morning and somebody is continuously banging on your door all you can think about is whether or not you are going to have to wash your sheets the next morning.

I didn’t move from my bed.

The next morning a kid down the hall came up to me and told me he thought he might have knocked on my door late at night because he wanted to hang out.

I didn’t ask him if he might have been completely out of his ever-loving mind. I just said,

Oh I’m not sure I heard it.

In fact, several people had a predilection for banging on different parts of my dorm room. It was as if there was some sort of notice that had gone out that said:

The Freshman in 1D is insecure and extremely paranoid, please take advantage.

Not too long thereafter I was lying in my bed sound asleep when I somebody started banging on my window like a savage looking for a meal.

Now there is a big difference between somebody banging on your door and somebody banging on your window.

If somebody bangs on your door it could be a variety of explanations. It could be people in danger, police, security, fireman etc.

But when somebody bangs on your window all it can be is somebody who is completely out of their mind or somebody who is trying to kill you.

Mind you it is 4 am. And whoever is outside my window is banging on it over and over again. I am terrified. I am clenching my blanket so tightly that there is no blood left in my hands.

The banging stops and my heart slows down, but just barely.

It is hours before I fall back to sleep.

Several days later I run into my roommates friend Sara. She tells me:

Yea we were hanging out pretty late the other night. I took my friend’s aderall and was banging on peoples’ windows. I think I banged on yours.  Did you hear it?

I panic and not wanting to make her feel bad… for scaring the shit out of me while on drugs at 4 o’clock in the damn morning, I say: 

No I don’t think I heard anything.

Thankfully, those were the only incidences of people expressing high interest in interacting with me late at night. But regardless of whether I am in a dorm or my own apartment, a loud bang or noise in the middle of the night still makes me wonder when I wake up:

Should I change my sheets?

No TV

I don't watch a lot of TV. I used to, but not anymore. I’ll watch the games during football season, but that’s about as regular as it gets. People make fun of me for this. A lot of people start conversations with me that go, "Hey Rich did you see.... oh yea, of course not."

I don't watch much TV for several reasons. First off, I don't have cable so I only get like 8 channels (not including the 15 Spanish channels my TV receives). My TV is also a monster. It’s from my parents’ old basement. And it’s like a 46 inch TUBE TV, so it weighs about 23,000 pounds.

But really the main reason is that when I am watching TV, I am not doing anything else. I don't write as much, I don't consume as much culture I just kind of… exist on my couch.

Since I rarely watch TV, when I do watch it, certain things get burned indelibly into my brain. Things like commercials.

And what bothers me about commercials is that they suck. Not just that they are bad (although most of them are bad) but the fact that the story telling is so falsified.

I mean I know believing everything you see or here in commercials is dangerous. And I don't do that, but even still, they are so way off that I can't even handle it.

For example, take commercials for paint. I have painted before. I painted my entire apartment. I know what it’s like, how long it takes, etc. But TV paint commercials are completely misrepresenting how difficult it is to paint a room. The people in paint commercials are freaks of nature.

First of all they always paint in khakis, a polo shirt, and a do rag. And they always just kind of look around the room in beautiful reverence paint a little bit, and then cut to them admiring their work they finished on the same day.

And they never have any paint on them! Not a drop. There's no paint on the floor, there are no drop cloths, no painters tape. It's just time to start, oh look let’s paint perfectly together beautiful spouse of mine, oh look at that we’re done.

Oh and how about that, our clothes are still in perfect shape. Oh wow and we just painted 12 walls and our backs don't hurt and hey look its still light outside. Let's go for a jog!

Now if that were real life it would be pitch black outside, those people would have paint in their eyelashes, and they would be curled up in the fetal position on the floor holding a beer and a slice of pizza. But no, paint commercial couples look at each other, grab each other’s hands, and skip off into the sunset.

Shaving commercials also piss me off. Like most people, I have very important things on my face... like my mouth. And if I shaved my face as fast as those guys in commercials do, I would have shaved it off. They shave so fast that at the rate they show, every man should be able to shave his entire face in 29 seconds.

People in commercials shave while smiling and looking at the camera instead of at the BLADE IN THEIR HAND! Hello! That is a blade, or in the case of today's razors, 12 blades. Be careful with that shit and stop telling me how I can swipe it across my face the same way I might wipe chocolate sauce off my cheek. It is a sharpened piece of steel, not a napkin.

And all these commercials where they “surprise” men in gym locker rooms shaving their face to challenge them to use a new razor. First of all, nobody believes that’s real. And second of all, do you know what the legal ramifications would be for sneaking up on somebody holding a razor next to their face?

Every shaving commercial should have the same message:

Hey guys, do you have hair on your face? Do you use our razor? Well be careful! Our razor is ridiculously dangerous!

But shifting to non-violence, my last commercial frustrations are those for laundry detergent. Apparently the science behind laundry detergent has really come leaps and bounds the last couple years because it is so concentrated now it seems like you can go 20 years on the same bottle of detergent.

It’s 3 times concentrated, not it’s 5 times concentrated, no 10. Use a half a cap full, no a teaspoon, no a drop, no actually just wave the bottle of detergent above the washing machine and it will do the work magically. You don't even have to open the bottle. On bottle will last you a lifetime.

I fully expect to walk into the detergent aisle of the store and just see some product that comes with an eyedropper for you to dispense your cleaning liquid.

I have a hard time believing all of these claims since when I do my laundry and start to pour the tiniest bit into the machine I almost always doubt myself and say, no you know what, I should add more. I just feel safe with too much as opposed to too little.

But I suppose part of it is my own fault since I buy the unscented detergent, I can’t tell if my clothes smell clean just… not dirty. Who knows, maybe I am not the target clientele for these advertisers. Maybe there is some other breed of super human to whom these products apply.

But then again if you can shave your face in 29 seconds and paint your entire house effortlessly without spilling a drop, you probably have no need for detergent anyway.

Jerk.

What the Beep?!

What makes you crazy? I’m not talking about disgruntled or upset. And I’m not talking about just a little bit crazy. I’m talking crazy crazy. So crazy that you want to physically express your crazy in a way that is not socially acceptable. I’m talking so crazy that you want to rip a manhole cover out of the street and chuck it through the display window of a GAP.

Is it something that people do to you?  Is it rudeness? People who are impolite? Maybe its poor manners or poor hygiene that makes you want to lose your shit so badly that you turn green and rip your purple pants.

Maybe it is a combination of things. There are dozens if not hundreds of things that annoy us as human beings, and I am no exception. I get pissed off over dumb stuff. I’ve mentioned many of them here, but most of them I’d rather not admit because, well, I like to pretend I’m a better person that I actually am. But there is one thing that I cannot deal with.

It is not an emotion, or a behavior, but a sound. It is a sound so detestable and awful that it makes my blood pressure spike. It makes me want to clothesline bikers as they ride past me and knock out crossing cards with my backpack. It’s not nails on a chalkboard, or breaks screeching, or a baby crying. No, the sound that makes me bat shit crazy is the sound of horns honking.

Now I haven’t had a car for several years now and it has been equally as long since I drove regularly. And as I have mentioned several times before, I really don’t mind not having a car. Looking for places to park, general maintenance, paying for gas; I don’t miss any of that. But I didn’t realize until recently is being a regular driver had given me a kind of immunity to horns and horn honking.

But being a pedestrian, a human not protected by the security of a 4 wheeled transportation device, has made me realize how much I hate horns.

I could be having the best day ever, crossing the street wearing an Armani suit while eating a free ice cream cone given to me by a Victoria’s Secret underwear model I met on a first class flight back from Bali.

But if in the course of eating that ice cream cone, some superturd leans on his horn for more than an 1/8 of a second, my immediate reaction is that I want to kick in his window and jam my ice cream cone (cone first) into his eyeball.

It brings forth an anger and intensity in me that should be reserved for chucking a keg over a 20 foot wall in a strong man competition or fighting off Orcs in Middle Earth.

It is like an “instant crazy” button I don’t know exists until it’s pushed and then all I can think is;

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I think the large majority of the population has come to see the horn as a necessary part of driving, kind of like a hand gesticulation, as opposed to something that should be used sparingly.

I can understand that in the beginning of cars, there was not much technology so the horn could only do so much. But we have come so far over the year. I think its time we made some changes. I have a couple I would like to see put into play immediately.

1. Every car should come with a horn max limit. This limit would be certain time limit of horn honking a month. Let’s say 10 seconds. So every time you hit your horn, the amount of time you stay honking your horn is deducted from your monthly limit. If you don’t hit your monthly limit, you are fine, and perhaps the National Transportation Bureau mails you a little ribbon.

But if you however pass your 10 second horn limit… your car automatically explodes.

I think this would keep people to more honest horn honking. Right now there is wasteful horn honking. If you know you only have so much horn to honk, perhaps you would ration it better and not go honking willy nilly.

Also, the threat of imminent death helps.

Now I know that there are times when you don’t always want to honk. The sound of the horn, no matter how quickly it is pressed can be quite abrasive, and you might not want to use it if you are a kind and decent human being that doesn’t suck.

Sometimes you just need to give people a little nudge to wake up or pay attention.

That is where my second suggestion comes in.

2. I would implement a new button on the steering wheel. This button would be called the “Suggestion Beep.”

While the horn might be used for alerting civilians when you are about to crash into a bicycle with a basket full of golden retriever puppies, or if somebody is bearing down on you on a one way street, the Suggestion Beep would be used in situations of lesser danger.

Perhaps the light turns green and the person in front of you is not paying attention. Then you could push the Suggestion Beep and your car would see in a delightful British lilt;

Pardon me

Or

Hello there

Something nice and light just give the car in front of you a heads up.

But I am aware that the Suggestion Beep could be abused as well. Kind of like somebody who says excuse me is nice, but somebody who stands next to you saying “Excusemeexcusemeexcusemeexcusemeexcuseme” is someone you’d like to slap.

That is why we must create a reward system for the Suggestion Beep as well.

Those people that have a positive ratio of Suggestion Beeps to regular horn peeps would receive a ribbon in the mail every month.

Those people that overuse the Suggestion Beep, well… their cars would explode too.

And forgive me for not knowing what the limit of Suggestion Beeps is yet, this is an imperfect system and we are working on a trial and error basis. I would just recommend you take it easy on the Beeps until we have ironed out all the kinks.

And oh yea if your car explodes and you happen to survive it, you have to ride a unicycle. With a flag on it. No exceptions.

Pore Decision

The funny thing about a bad idea is it doesn’t always immediately seem like a bad idea. On the contrary, it is not until you are in the middle of implementing that idea that you realize… this is an awful idea.

I started a new job this week. It’s a whole new position in a completely different industry. I was looking to feel refreshed and rejuvenated so I didn’t roll into my first day of work looking like this:


Yikes.

I didn’t have time for a vacation or a getaway. So I thought if I couldn’t actually feel refreshed and renewed, I might as well appear so. I will get a facial!

And yes I am aware this can be added to the least manly things I have done in my life. But hey, celebrities get facials and I am planning to be really ridiculously successful so this is basically just planning ahead.

Way ahead.

I heard it might be a little rough and there might be some discomfort but I could handle it. After all I had been to the dentist earlier that morning. I had dealt with my pain threshold for the day.

The place I chose was bustling with many eastern European women with dazzling skin, escorting (mostly but not all) female clients in and out of tiny rooms in a large labyrinth of facial care.

I checked in and was escorted by one blonde eastern European woman to a tiny room 6 feet wide and 12 feet long with an accordion door. She looked at me and said:

Is this your first time here?
Yes
Top off, robe on, and make yourself comfortable.

And she slid the door closed and left.

The confusion immediately set in. Robe? What robe? I looked around the room and noticed a full massage table and what appeared to be a dry cleaning steamer.

Why did I need to take my top off? What were they going to do to me? Did every man’s facial come with a complementary chest wax? I did not want a complementary chest wax… I did not want ANY chest wax. I tried to ignore this thought as I spotted a large green silky robe hanging on the wall and traded my shirt for it.

Fact: Dressing like a Hogwarts Professor is not my idea of “getting comfortable.” I was reminded of my time at the dermatologist, but comforted by the fact that this time I got to keep my pants on.

I sat down on the bed, and then decided to lie down and fold my hands over my chest to try to appear as nonchalant as possible. (Read: Not very nonchalant at all) Eventually a tall eastern European woman with dark hair and large dark spectacles entered the room. In her thick accent she introduced herself.

My name is Madonna and I will be your aesthetician.

But what she SHOULD have said, was,

My name is Madonna and I am about to squeeze the shit out of your face.

I asked her how my skin looked thinking I did a good job of face maintenance.

It’s a little dry and a little clogged.

Dry and clogged? So the face that I was proud of had the exact same qualities as a dorm toilet. Awesome.

I’m not sure why my skin was clogged. Perhaps I had spent 1 too many nights pretending I was a dirty pirate.


Who knows? As she was getting herself setup she also said to me:

We put on hat gloves.

Hat gloves? I tried to imagine what a hat glove looked like? Was she going to put a winter hat on each of my hands? Or was I going to have to put my hands inside of a hat on my head (which she had already wrapped in some sort of shower cap/ turban combo).

She must have seen the look of confusion on my face because she repeated.

We put on hot gloves.

Ohhh hot gloves ok, sure. I’m not sure what this has to do with a facial, but sure.

She then coated my hands in a lotion, covered them in tissues and slipped them into a pair of plastic/aluminum oven mitts that were plugged into the wall.

I was a bit concerned about being PLUGGED INTO A WALL like a toaster. This is something I try to avoid. She said:

If they are too hot, just take them off.

I had no idea how that would be possible, considering I was bound and plugged into the wall like some kind of electric mental patient. But luckily I was quickly distracted by something else.

She began rubbing lotion on my face and covered my eyes with a wet towel. I then felt the sensation of a dry cleaning steamer on my face. I started to feel claustrophobic. I think she noticed because she pulled it back before she left me me lying on the table to... steam?

After about 10 minutes she came back in.

How was that?
Good, very relaxing.
This part won't be. (Small laugh) Now I clean out your pores. Let me know if it is too hard.

I thought this was just a courtesy, a way of making me feel comfortable.

No, she was serious.

Madonna went to town. I'm not sure if she was using her nails, or actual carpentry nails, but I think she was mad at my face. Like, really mad. So mad that she was trying to ruin it. I was not prepared for this amount of pain. I was wincing and wondering why I didn’t hear screams coming from the other rooms? If other people were experiencing this much pain shouldn’t I be hearing swear words and blood curdling screaming? Because I tell you, that was my inclination. Was I just a wuss?

I must be bleeding I thought. There is no way I am not bleeding. SURELY she can see the blood coming out of my face right? Why does she continue to squeeze if I have a bloody face? Just because her name was Madonna didn’t mean she had to turn this into the Passion of My Face.

She finally finished and it was all I could do to not actually scream out praise for the actual mother of God.

Then she said,

Do you see the light?

And I really panicked. Oh shit I am dead. I died. I knew it! The mother Madonna is here to escort me into heaven after squeezing my face into an early grave.

As it turns out, what she actually said was

Are you alright?

I mumbled yes as she took the towel off my eyes.

And that is when I felt the tears spill out and roll down the sides of my face. The pain had been so great that I hadn’t noticed my eyes welling up.

She had finally managed to unclog my face, and I managed to moisturize it myself.

She did give me a bit of advice as well.

Next time, shave.

Ha! Like there’s gonna be a next time.

I'm Done

I've come to a decision: I'm ready to retire.

Now I know what you are thinking. "Rich you are too young and full of pep and zest to head south for the rest of your life!" But I really don't think I am. I've taken stock of the things I enjoy in my life, and the things I would be able to do as a retiree, and aside from the fact that I have no idea how I would be able to support myself financially... I really do think it is about time for me to retire.

As I cross the hump from my early 20s into my late 20s, I have started to wonder: shouldn't I be a millionaire already?

When I was in my teens I looked at 25 as the pinnacle of my life. That would be the year of my prime, the year in which I was wanted by gorgeous women, making tons of money and reveling in my success.Well since rounding 26 and heading deeper into this decade of my life, I realize the only gorgeous women who want me are those who need a jar of jelly opened. I certainly don't make tons of money. And after some unmet expectations, I have redefined success as getting through the whole day with my fly closed.

So if I can't have the life I had anticipated, I might as well fast forward to the end of this movie and head right into retirement. I think it is really the best option at this point.

My parents are retired and living in South Carolina. This is a fine place to retire. Visiting them makes me realize that while I may have to give up certain things I enjoy to live in a place like they do, the benefits to my life would far outweigh any losses I would suffer.

Here is why I think I should retire.

While I enjoy an active and engaging lifestyle I also really like doing nothing. Not the kind of nothing that involves bumming around the house, fiddling with this and that. No. I mean nothing! Staring out the window at a tree kind of nothing. Doing so much nothing that I fall asleep because I am so relaxed. That is the kind of nothing I can really sink my teeth into.

Here is a rough itinerary for the days I typically spend visiting my parents.

Wake up, eat, golf, eat, nap, eat, watch TV, read, eat, sleep.

This is by far the most beautiful schedule I have ever seen. Picasso couldn't have painted a better schedule if he put its nose on the side of its face. Now the activities may switch place or occur in a different order, and once in a while there will be something additional like "shopping" or "visit Savannah" or "eat thirty cookies" thrown in. But for the most part, the schedule here is pretty accurate.

I would like to take this moment to point out that the golf is not a fixed structure on the calendar. While I generally enjoy golf I am so bad at it I really do question why I continue to play. It is a sport that entails a fair amount of adding. And the way I swing the club I have to do a lot of adding. The ball never goes in a straight path. And I usually end up spending half the day walking around the woods like I'm trailing Sacagawea.

Retirement relaxes you... I'm guessing. At least I feel relaxed when I am pretending I am retired. The only reason I even wear my watch when I visit is to make sure I didn't miss my tee time. Otherwise who needs a watch? What was I going to miss? It is always time to eat a cookie and take a nap. Always.

And as for my phone I just leave it in my room. Nobody calls me. The only person that calls me is my friend Megan and I'm pretty much the only person that calls her. So if we both walked around without our phones the only thing we would be wondering about is what the other person is doing.

In fact a lot of the time I turn my phone off. Why not? Nobody is going to call me to ask me to have dinner or hang out or anything like that. All my friends are 800 miles away. Who is calling me? Phone, you can be turned off.

I want to lead a life like these dogs I saw in the backyard of one of the houses on the golf course.


Any place where dogs hang out on lounge chairs has to have something really special about it.

Now maybe you think I am going to miss out on some really important things by skipping right to retirement.

Like what?

Working for 40 more years? Pass. Fighting commuters, crazy cab drivers, and mass hordes or tourists? Pass. Battling the freezing cold? Really pass.

The only concern I have is how I will support myself financially. And to be honest I really don't know how I will do it. But I'm sure there is a lot of money to be made in the untapped market of opening jars for old ladies. And as long as my fly stays up, I will have all the success I need.

Stress

My body breaks down once in a while.

Whether because of sickness or otherwise, it almost always coincides with major events in my life. This will be an event that is usually preceded by a long period of anticipation and heightened excitement, followed by a very intense, exciting day or week, which immediately is followed by the complete and total collapse of my body.

Some might call this being stressed out.

I went through a short period in college where I convinced myself that stress didn't exist. I read some magazine article that said stress was only another word for fear. I decided it was the gospel truth. I started proselytizing to anybody who would listen that stress doesn't exist.

Like so many other times in my life, I was wrong.

It was perhaps because the word gets so overused that I tried to limit my reliance on it. Everybody is always stressed. This is stressful, that is stressful. I was so fed up I just didn't want to listen to it anymore. I wanted to prove to people that stress didn't exist. I could prove to them stress doesn't exist.

It did not work. And years later things have changed a lot. In fact, I have been feeling stressed lately. But in all fairness it's actually kind of a good stress.

Kind of.

Through my own personal stroke of brilliance, I made a decision this summer that I had way too much free time and I wanted a project. So, as a direct result of that thought, in exactly 3 days from now, a 2 night run of short plays that I wrote and directed will be performed at a small off, off, off, take a left and keep going, off, Broadway theater in New York City.

The plays, presented in collaboration with my friend Andrea, are pretty much self-everything'd.

And by that I mean we have rented the theater, found the actors, set up the ticketing, arranged the rehearsals etc. I started writing the 2 plays in July. And then there were multiple drafts, and editing, and reworkings and discussions before we picked and booked a theater and a date for the performance to be held, thereby giving using a deadline we could not miss.

A deadline that has been increasing my heart rate the closer it comes.

Since then we have put a tremendous amount of time into getting all the different aspects of the show together that will be necessary to make it a success. And while I feel very much that I am on the eve of the thrill of my life, my body is well aware that the end is near, and is not handling the stress too well.

In fact, a hive or pimple (we are not sure yet) the size of a hobbit house has appeared on the side of my face.

Awesome, I know.

This is not exactly a normal occurrence for me, but I can't say I'm completely surprised either. My body has a history of reacting poorly to stressful times.

When I was in high school I spent 4 days at a convention in Orlando as part of my involvement in a student organization. I was running for the highest elected office in this organization. Every day was an early morning followed by a jam packed schedule and ending with a late night.

It was crazy, it was amazing, and it was exhausting. I was so sleep deprived, and nervous, and excited, and stressed that 2 Armageddon sized zits appeared on my forehead instantaneously.

I mean I went to bed looking like snow white and I woke up looking like, well, a stoplight.

We are talking very obvious red marks. So big that it looked like I was in the sights of a pair of snipers getting ready to shoot me in the forehead.

The following year was my senior year and was capped off by the last convention I would ever attend. Emotions ran high that weekend. It wasn't stressful in the same way it had been the year before, but still there was a familiar feeling there. Again nerves, and sleep deprivation crept up on me.

That last morning I had to give an introduction speech at the closing session for a distinguished guest who had become a good friend of mine. My speech was only 2 minutes, but my body just couldn't hold it together.

My left eye, not both eyes mind you, but my left eye ONLY, decided it needed to blink by itself. Frequently.

So for the next 120 seconds, my left eye closed by itself seemingly every 3 seconds. It looked like I was trying to flirt with every single person in the audience.

Perhaps it wouldn't have been so embarrassing if my introduction wasn't being projected on a 50 foot high screen behind me... in front of an audience of over 2,000 people.

In college stress got the better of me as well. My junior year I was on the homecoming committee and after a week of sleep deprivation and late night events full of intense physical activity requiring mental alertness, my body broke down. And I got shingles.

Yes I know it is an old man disease. That didn't make it any less worse for me.

In fact, I realize that staying up late and not sleeping has caused most of these horrid outbreaks and reactions. In high school and college I was never able to pull an all nighter. My body refused to do so.

I mean I tried. I made valiant efforts to work very late into the 1 am hour, but I would put my head down on my arm for a second and then boom! Next thing I know it was morning and I had a page full of derivatives stuck to my face.

In the recent weeks people keep asking me if I am excited for the plays to get put on. And I am. A little bit. But mainly I'm terrified.

Sure it is an exciting thing, and it will probably be a very unique experience to see the words that I wrote coming out of other people's mouths on a stage in front of of dozens of friends that I had to convince, coerce, and cajole to come to my show.

And I have a feeling the end will justify the means. But I have something else to worry about.

Crying.

And let me assure you, when I cry it is never a pretty sight.

To be continued...