Why did I watch the same movies over and over again? Three things: summer, sleeplessness, and VHS. During the glorious months of summer, when bedtimes went the way of the video store, I would regularly shake hands with the dawn. From the comfort of my childhood bed, I'd watch movies taped from HBO, cartoon marathons, and The Simpsons over and over on VHS. When they'd end, I'd just rewind the tape and start them over. It was easier than getting out of bed. The test of anything worthwhile is infinite repeatability. I could watch this forever. And it made me love acting. Many times there were scenes that, despite knowing the words, I couldn't get it quite right. The actors were too good. When I said the words, there was no magic, meaning. But when they said it, it was magical. I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to learn to do what they did.
As I got older, I shelved my dream. Work, school, bands, and girls elbowed acting out of the spotlight of my eyes. I didn't think about it again. The cognitive real estate was leased. But movies still blew my mind. They still do. I don't cry much in my real life. But I bawl my eyes out at movies. I cried three different times during the new Star Trek.
In my mid-twenties, after finishing college a second time, I found myself starting a business. Surely this would make my father proud as he could tell my grandmother his son was an entrepreneur, thus validating his work as a father and lending credibility to the notion he was her finest offspring.
At the height of its popularity, I shut the business down. It didn't make me happy. I hate business. I wanted to give everything away for free. And my concept of a fair price is wildly different than the markets'. Owning a business felt like what I ought to do. I gave up teaching philosophy because I couldn't deal with student apathy. I loved those big ideals too much. So I found myself working the same retail job I'd worked since the summer I graduated high school. And while it never bothered me when I was touring, or getting my Masters, or using it as a means to jumpstart my business, it devastated me as the defining feature of my life. I was without the get-out-of-responsibility-free card of being in school. I wasn't doing anything worthwhile. And I got bummed the fuck out.
Then I decided I would move to Chicago to pursue improv, acting, and writing. This would probably be the last time I had nothing to lose and no debt. If there was ever a time for a massive failure, this was it. No more than a month passed between the day I decided to move and the day my mail was forwarded across the country.
It took me a couple years to learn I sucked at improv, and I nearly gave up when I didn't make an iO house team, something I'm only now learning means almost precisely nothing. At the time, it felt like the holy grail of opportunity, and it took a heavy toll (Cf Minor Grief). But thanks to some great friends, some fortunate opportunities, and my dad's encouragement, I'm making my ten year old self proud. I'm acting and writing plays in Chicago.
Thank God for VHS and its need to be rewound. Without which I might not have discovered my predilection for remembering lines and never noticed the subtle beauty of acting and writing. So play it again, Little Nick. To living childish dreams. Da capo!