progress

Progress

Around this time of year I usually start thinking about my resolutions for the new year. As silly as it seems, I’ve always enjoyed setting goals each year.

This past week I was flipping through old notebooks and found a list of goals I made way back in college, over 10 years ago. The pages were dog-eared and coffee stained, full of doodles in the margins and faded post-its sticking out at odd angles. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve opened this notebook since I wrote in it.

But there was my short list of goals staring me in the face, a prehistoric TimeHop back to less stressful times. It was like opening a time capsule that forces you to confront your personal progress.

When you work at something every day, progress is incremental at best. Yes, sometimes there are fantastic days that feel monumental, but mostly you take tiny, imperceptible steps forward that go unnoticed at the time. Often it feels as if you haven’t achieved anything at all.

I’m super hard on myself. I always strive for perfection or think I could have worked harder. And I never feel like I’m where I should be at any given time.

That’s why I love setting goals. It gives you a chance to stick a pin in a particular moment so you can come back later and remind yourself of how far you’ve come.

It could be a month later or maybe a couple years. Or it might be over ten years ago, back to a silly list of career goals you made late at night in your college dorm room. And maybe you might scan that list and frantically search for a pen, realizing that it’s time to cross off every single one of those goals.

That’s what happened to me this week. Turns out I was right, I’m not where I thought I should be right now - I passed that place a few years back. Those early goals weren’t quite big enough.

I won’t tell you what’s on my list of resolutions this year but I already put them in a notebook and they’re on my shelf. In the meantime, I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and I’ll let you know when it’s time to cross them off again.

Almost Ready

A year ago I submitted my show to the Chicago Fringe Festival. It was my first festival and a nerve-wracking experience.

In the span of four days I went from ZERO pre-sold tickets to SELLING OUT.  I only did three shows but I got bit by the fringe bug. And I began planning The Mystery Tour.

Around the same time I had a bunch of personal stuff happen all at once. I lost a friend to suicide and my apartment flooded. It was a rough several weeks. Being onstage gave me a respite from the realities of life and I channeled any stress I was feeling into my creative projects.

Flash forward to this week and I’ve come full circle. It took a full year - A FULL YEAR - but the new floors were finally finished this week.  I’ve been living out of boxes and bags for months, sleeping on a pull out sofa, and unable to get in a routine.

But somehow, over the last two months, I wrote the fragments of a new show.

I storyboarded ideas onto post-it notes on the back of a door. Then, when the door came off the hinges I moved the notes to the floor.

I wrote several new monologues for the show - really personal, cerebral stuff that I’m still not quite convinced anyone will care about but me. Somehow I discovered a thru-line and tied all the stories together.

But last week as I was tearing boxes apart in search of a prop, I literally freaked-the-fuck-out because I couldn’t find what I needed. I eventually found it but not before I had a full-on mental breakdown. The stress of the home renovation, the exhaustion of traveling, and the rigors of working in this environment had finally gotten to me.

It was time to come to terms with my situation. I had to be honest with myself and admit that the show is finished - but it’s not ready.

It’s 50%, maybe 60% ready, but it’s not up to my standards. When it comes to my show, I’m a perfectionist. And it’s hard to get the show where I want when I’ve been living in a construction zone for the past six weeks.

With another two weeks of rehearsal in a less chaotic environment I would probably be ready to debut the new show in full. But, this is the reality of living where you work and working where you live. When you live a creative life you learn to be satisfied with how far you've come even if you aren't quite satisfied with where you are.

A year ago my fringe show was a few lines in my notebook. But now, a year and 100+ performances later, I’ve written not one - but TWO - completely different shows. And I’m putting the greatest hits from both shows onstage seven times over the next ten days at the 2017 Chicago Fringe Festival.

After that, I’m going to perfect the rest of my new material on my new floors at home. And once it’s ready, I’m going on tour all over again. You’d better get ready, too.