March 18, 2013

I predict unpredictability

"The future depends on what you do today" - Gandhi

Thirteen degrees.

Windchill: four below.

That's the MSP International Airport official temperature at this moment as I type another blogsterpiece.

This day last year saw a high of 79.  In 2011 it was 40.  2010: 64.

A year ago I ran 4.5 miles in shorts and a t-shirt.

Today, the ground is buried beneath a foot of snow.

The high temperature in the Twin Cities on March 9, 2012, was 39 degrees Fahrenheit.  It was the last day of the 2011/2012 winter in which the high temperature topped out below 40.

This year?  Not a predicted high above 32 over the next seven days.

The weather here is volatile to say the least.  Three months from today, we could hit 100 degrees like we did last summer.  Tomorrow night, the low may dip below zero.

Minnesota weather, like my roundabout path to a point in each blog entry, is maddening.  We have spectacular moments throughout the year, especially late spring and early fall, but we have to bear that sadistic Jack Frost's fury far too long.

Life is like Minnesota weather.

Holy underwear, that's cheesy.  I may as well plop myself on a park bench with a box of chocolates and wait for a feather to float to my dirty sneakers.

But I'm going with it.

As someone whose mood is affected profoundly by the weather, I'm struggling today.  Seven weeks ago I rejoiced as the oozing pustule of a month, January, finally retracted its numbing grasp.  Then February, with its unreachable back-itch annoyance, retreated to the hell from whence it came.

In comes March, the last ice dam blocking the infusion of April's showers, May's flowers, and June's 15 hours of sunlight each day.  I know you, March.  You bring snowstorms.  You bring cold.  I've met you before.  But what you're doing this year is just cruel.  Not even a sprinkling of relief amidst the torturous nether of white, lifeless ground and red, runny noses.

Oh, we probably deserve this after last year.  The string of upper 70s, low 80s we were gifted 52 weeks ago certainly couldn't become a trend.  Even the global warming alarmists didn't expect Minnesota Marches to suddenly become the new May or September.

But that doesn't help me today!  Or this week!  I want good weather!  And I want it now!

And I want to make movies with budgets!  And I want to be a series regular on a popular TV show!  And I want Forrest's box of chocolates!

And I want the exclamation point to replace the period as the preferred sentence-ending punctuation!

Like the weather, we can try to predict the lunch we'll eat tomorrow, the movie we'll see next weekend, the project we'll undertake next month, or the better job we'll accept next year, but inevitably, something will prevent us from fulfilling at least some of our self-prophecies.

My 22-year-old self wouldn't have predicted where I'd be today, and my current self has all but given up making predictions.  The best we can do is work toward a satisfying goal.  Along the way, there will be 2012 Marches with little to no snow, record highs, and ice-free lakes; but there will also be 2013 Marches sucking the very will to breathe.  Nay, sucking the very ability to breathe.  It hurts.  Oh how it hurts.

We can't change the weather (unless we're Steve Martin in LA Story), so we need simply accept it for what it is, knowing it too shall pass.  Today is nearly over and tomorrow is predicted to be -- um -- even colder.  But then the next day is -- colder yet.  But maybe - just maybe - next week will bring a few hours of above-freezing temperatures.  Then the 40s, 50s, and 80s aren't far behind.

My career may be stuck in 2013 March, but it can't last forever.  While I'm here, I can whine about the frozen expanse of emptiness or I can continue planting seeds in preparation for the thaw. Even if I'm stuck in the cold a while longer, eventually it will warm up.  Right?

Life is like a box of Minnesota weather alright.

March 11, 2013

When you got a job to do you gotta do it well

"Whatever your life's work is, do it well.  A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

The regular delivery of my neighbors' mail in my curbside box is annoying, but tolerable.

Watching her clench a letter in her lips before putting it in my box is gross, but not deplorable.

The breaking of my and my neighbor's mailbox flags is a nuisance, but I suppose it happens.

And the time she refused to bring a package to my door last winter because I hadn't yet shoveled the inch of freshly fallen snow from my walk was flabbergasting, but I got over it.

But now she's making Newman look good.

My neighbors and I do our best to clear the snow from the curb beneath our mailboxes, but our latest powdery cloud dump left a pile of white fluff that was admittedly an inconvenience for the stubby little truck with the steering wheel on the wrong side.

An inconvenience.  Certainly not an insurmountable obstacle.

After a day without mail, we received this note:

As did several neighbors.

Just the note.  Not our mail.

Our lovely carrier managed to get to our mailboxes to drop these notes but opted to keep our mail at ransom.

Oh well.  Not the end of the world.  I had intended to make a clearer path anyway.

So I did.

And did she deliver our mail the next day?


How 'bout the next?


I finally got to the post office and explained my displeasure.  I wasn't alone.  Nor was I offered an apology or an adequate explanation.

Turns out the carrier, that very day, delivered a package to my neighbor's door and explained that the snow wasn't adequately cleared.

Luckily, my local newspapers are delivered via Sherman Tank so they're able to get through the vast dam of snow - nay - frozen rock without leaving behind tactless notes.

Was there a time when people would do their jobs without manufacturing excuses and blaming others for their decision to underperform?  Or have we always been this lazy and unappreciative of actually having work?

There are countless folks who would absolutely love to have my postal carrier's job.  Is mail delivery a life passion of many?  Probably not.  But it's a job.  A good job.  With benefits.  How many people don't have that luxury?  And here is a woman who refuses to bend an inch when saddled with even a minor inconvenience.

What is this rant's relevance to a blog supposedly centered on a guy's journey from small-town Minnesota to Hollywood?

I'm glad you asked.

Well, I'm glad I asked.

In my efforts to establish myself in the entertainment industry, I have been burdened by more than a Crayola crayons' box worth of menial, uncreative projects or parts of projects.  Putting finishing touches on a video of drying paint in the middle of the night isn't exactly living the dream, but doggone it, I don't want to phone it in on anything.

(For those literalists out there, I've never actually done a video of drying paint.  It was a metaphor.)

The end results - drying paint videos or otherwise - don't always prove I gave my all, but it's not for lack of effort.  I have a hard time investing anything less than 100%.  Usually.  I mean, sometimes I vacuum lazily or buy canned chicken stock or run at a slower pace than I'm capable...

I digress.

My point - no, really, I have one - is that work is a privilege and should be treated as such.  And lest I write myself into a corner here with implications that I really am committed 100% to everything I do, the full disclaimer here is that I'm reminding myself to appreciate any work I get.  If it helps pay the bills and buy Barbies and Matchbox cars, it's a blessing.

We don't have to love what we are doing, but whenever we have something to do, we should be thankful.  As Harry Connick, Jr. croons in Hear Me in the Harmony, "There's a whole lotta hard workin' people that could take my place."