I live a charmed life.It wouldn’t work for most people I don’t think, but for me it is a skin tight glove, molded and designed to fit perfectly.My schedule is hectic.There are planes, and hotels, and stages, and radio stations, and studios, and rental cars, and so many different skylines that the whole world begins to bleed together like a chalk drawing in the rain.
I’m actually writing this in the airport waiting on my flight to Atlanta.I’m people watching at 4:00 am, wondering why I haven’t written anything here at TNB since March (and why I booked a flight for 5:00 in the goddamned morning).Even now, sleepless in this terminal, my finger clicks over to the site.I’m comfortable here, amongst friends (I am intentionally mushy-ing some of this up to make Becky nauseous).
My mind hops between ideas frequently.One project can easily derail another.A typical day starts with me opening Photoshop and Cool Edit and Word and Firefox and iTunes and seeing which one waves me over first.I have radio events to attend and jokes to craft.Somewhere in the middle of it all I actually travel and tell them to rooms full of people.And, I write.
My story is no different from hundreds of thousands of others, really.Since high school I’ve written.Old notebooks full of stuff, almost all of it useless, the musings of an easily distracted teenager.I came late to the web with my posts as an adult.I launched my website in 2004, and then very soon thereafter found MySpace.It’s a digital ghost town now of course, where pixelated tumbleweed blows through the profiles of amateur rappers, but it was the Emerald City at one time for a comedian that wanted to try to become a better writer.I never stumbled on Brad Listi’s corner of that sprawling Neverland though.I instead found all those people here.
I got an email from a friend one day suggesting that I submit to write for The Nervous Breakdown.Because I never clear out my account, I actually still have the emails.On January 15, 2008 I sent an inquiry to the posted address here and then totally forgot about it.I got an email back from Brad around mid-August (though he responds to my emails much more quickly these days), welcoming me aboard.I had no idea the impact that moment would have.
Now, three years later, I can’t imagine where I would have landed if TNB had not been gracious enough to embrace me.I am astounded by the talent here.Writing, for me, was for so long just a hobby.I did it as an extension of what I did onstage.It was always a chance to churn out ideas without having to worry about the laughs-per-minute ratio the way I have to onstage.Still, I wrote casually with complete disregard for what was actually coming out.I didn’t get the “art” to it.I didn’t see how crafting the perfect sentence was exactly like painting or sculpture or even joke writing.Economy of words, the RIGHT word, the order, the rhythm, the flow… these things began to matter.
And it wasn’t some divine epiphany; it was the result of consistently seeing it in action.The writers here are fucking good.Watching Rich Ferguson or JM Blaine string together a sentence is like watching the Cirque du Soleil of writing.These people were from another planet.I was making coins disappear for children while people here were vanishing the Statue of Liberty.One cannot help but rise when the people around him are so incredibly gifted.It has by no means made me great, but it has made me better.Watching as author after author gets published has made me write so much more often, and while I haven’t posted here in months, I haven’t been idle either.
I promised myself this past year that I would finish my book.Finishing it, of course, also meant that I would have to begin it.A combination of things posted here and elsewhere – expanded upon, played with, added to, rewritten – and a host of new stories that I have left off the web on purpose, all got piled into one huge document.It may never be read anywhere but on my laptop, but it’s virtually finished.And I wouldn’t have done it had I not been in this insanely gifted (and sometimes just plain insane) little community. I stand, quite humbly, in the company of giants.
I haven’t met a lot of people from TNB in person despite my travels (LA and NY seem to be the two places I continuously dodge), but I have met a few.Simon Smithson and Zara Potts came to Texas, and Richard Cox and I are good buddies.Megan DiLullo and I talk A&C editor-talk somewhat often.I’ve put Erika Rae in an arm bar and played the bongos while Uche Ogbuji danced.Aaron Snyder and I have shared a beer or four in an Irish pub.
But that’s about it.
The rest of it is never seen – the constant smaller impacts, the little ripple effects.The Walkmen are on my iPod.That’s Duke Haney’s doing.Ben Loory’s new book is in my backpack, to be consumed on my flight this morning.Joe Daly’s rock-your-face-off playlist thumped in my ears while I flew helicopters in Iraq.It’s a huge extended family really.Some of the people make me smile ridiculously and some bore the fuck out of me.I’ve sparred and jabbed, and cut up and acted like an immature child with too many of you to list.I love and hate people here equally.But I’m grateful for all of it.It makes me better.Even when I don’t comment, I’m most likely reading you (yes YOU), and your words inspire me.
So to all of you – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the uglier – I say “thank you”.
And especially to you Helmsman Listi.
I’m thrilled to be a part of it.Happy Fifth!