The Dumping This Cognitive Load Blues

Good (morning/afternoon/evening/middle of the night when you can’t sleep because you never know if ninjas are watching you).

Last week at this time, I was a bundle of nerves and adrenaline. Today, I’m still a bundle of nerves and adrenaline but I’ve managed to brush my teeth and shower before a reasonable time so success!

My name is Brian and I’m an amateur local comedian. With determination and great material, I will strive to become a professional local comedian. Who knows? Right now, I’m just having fun. I’m learning to create jokes (as opposed to writing jokes… I’m told that’s the mindset to take). Some of the jokes are funny only to me, while some jokes are funny to others as well as my. I’m an outlier in that I think every-fucking-thing I say is funny.

The trick is not to think about it too much. But that’s what I do. I think. A lot. There’s a lot of time spent in the head. And I’m not just talking about making jokes or writing. When I hop upon an idea, I tend to over-analyze, think, rethink, post-think, etc., things. This leaves me with living in a constant state of confusion, unable to make decisions or choices because, well, it’s just hard.

And then there’s just the utter bliss of being poor in this American moment.

What I am sure is that I’m currently not making a lot of money at the moment. There are a couple freelance gigs that I do but they’re not much in terms of making me tons of money. I can cover my bills and that’s just about it. Anything else, groceries, toiletries, clothes, are considered a very heavy expense at the moment. Which kind of sucks. And since it sucks and I’m always thinking about it, it kills any and all creativity process. Y’see, when you’re worried about where your next paycheck is coming from, it severely restricts the brain. Being poor isn’t exactly a boon to your health but even worse is how poverty changes your brain. Constantly running figures in my head (“If I may $X this week, I can pay my cell phone bill and my internet, but I need some groceries stat…) is a cognitive load that could be freed up for other uses. Then there’s the general existentialism of giving meaning to our lives but still side-eyeing our bank account. Basically, things kind of suck at the moment head-wise.

I don’t like how this feels because it isn’t productive and staunches the creative flow. And when the flow is dammed up by obsessing over the money I have in my bank account, it’s makes it more challenging to create that which, with diligence, lead me to more lucrative projects and not have to fuss so much about the number of pennies in the jar.

None of this goes into the act, of course.

I did research a couple weeks ago for an article on instant ramen I wrote for another site. Though I do have a package of some nummy Nissen noodles, what I found out about what goes into instant ramen is kind of horrorshow. No protein, bad for your heart if you eat it more than once a decade, all sorts of scary things that give me pause when I reach for a pack. One article I found suggested that because instant ramen is so cheap, one could live an entire year on the stuff for just $150. If you can make it the entire year and no drop dead from heart failure, you should qualify for some sort of prize. Like fresh ramen noodles for the rest of your life or something. Or a better healthcare plan because you’re going to need it.

In two weeks, I’ll be doing an actual show. It’ll be the same location and I’ll be doing ten minutes instead of the open mic five minutes. I’m heading out there tonight to watch other comedians perform so I can see how a show runs and get the DVD of my performance last week.

Yeah, I’m on DVD, yo. And I got a show, yo!!

More later. Time for an invigorating game of cerebellum rugby.

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I Came, I Saw, I Comedied!

Wednesday night went off pretty much as I had hoped, even better than expected. I didn’t dry (I had words on a note card to jar my memory), I didn’t speed through my act, and I pretty much killed. If were to use a picture to sum it up, it’d be this one.The Author standing triumphant outside Legends Bar.After I got off stage, I got a lot of compliments and feedback from the other comedians there, including a veteran local comic or two who said that I should stick with it. The best part was that the guy who organized the night told me to see him after the show. So I now have a gig lined up for the 25th. I get ten minutes. Time to create more jokes.

It seems I have a good side as a stand up comedian, which I can add to my current gigs as a freelancer and (hope-to-be-published) writer. Things are aligning and I just have to keep at it.

Special shout-out to one of my readers, Lisa. She couldn’t make the gig so she sent me a Doctor Who thermal mug. As far as gifts go, this is awesome! Thanks, Lisa!

Here’s a picture of my mug with my mug.

Dalek t-shirt on point.

Until next time…

Pre-Mic Jitters.

The latest from the Magical Orangutan Laboratories

Tonight, I dip my toe in Open Mic comedy. Five minutes of material that’ll hopefully lead to fame or free drinks. I’m good with either. So long as I’m not tarred, feathered, and tossed into the Ohio river, I’ll be good.

I’ve always been naturally funny, someone who could riff off one-liners “in the moment”, but I always had trouble writing a stand up bit. This is one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to even venture on stage to tell jokes. Writing comedy is a lot harder than regular writing because not only must you come up with ideas, you need to come up with funny ideas. Thankfully, there are many resources, like books and websites, that help you play around with structure, formulas, and the like to produce material. Also, writing stand differs from regular writing because you’re writing what is basically dialogue for yourself. It’s a different form of narrative than you would find in your basic third-person narrative writing. It helps to write dialogue like Faulkner, I suppose.

One joke less. One joke less.

Tonight’s open mic is happening in my home town of Cheviot, OH. I had a joke at one point that went like this:

This is a bit of a homecoming for me. I’m from here — not the bar, but Cheviot. Cheviot was my home, Cheviot was where I grew up, and, judging by your response so far, it looks like I’m going to die in Cheviot.

In the end, I took it out. However, if I’m not getting the laughs I hope I do from the rest of my material, I might slide it back in.

Cheviot can probably be considered a Conservative neighborhood, and since I’m pretty leftie, my act is steering clear of politics. Hopefully, what I’ve written is funny, it’s definitely me, and with the help of a note card, I won’t blank on stage.

Will report back tomorrow.

Mucky Snowy Saturday Update

Greetings from the Magical Orangutan Laboratories. We’re getting ourselves one last blast of snow here but since the temps aren’t going below freezing, it’s just leaving slushy slush snow. Regardless, it’s enough to cause hours and hours of bad driving decisions. Which doesn’t affect me much since I’ve no car or no plans to head out of my warm abode, especially when I have hot tea, homemade bean soup, and Sparks playing on Google Music.

I’ve been in a flurry of activity with lots of writing, some freelance work, and crippling poverty. On the writing side, there’s this:

  • I’m working on a short story based on the old fable, Belling The Cat. If all goes right, I’ll submit it for publication.
  • I’m also polishing up a bit of flash fiction that I’ll probably submit to flash zines or something like that.
  • I’m pondering a rework of a novella-length short story wrote a long time ago, The Road to Rigor Mortis (to the joy of some of my friends, I’m sure).
  • Also, there’s a thing that I’ve been scribbling in my journal. Something tells me its name is poemanifesto. I’ll probably be posting that here.
  • Recently, I’ve been blogging for a local group called Cincinnati Bloggers and have two articles up there:
  • I’m freelancing as a virtual assistant but slowly meandering my way towards freelance copywriting & proofreading. If you need something written or read & edited, I’m your In Person.

Add to that a recently terrifying decision on my part: signing up for an open mic comedy show.

Comedy Open Mic at Legends Bar & Venue

After years of people telling me to be a standup comedian, I’m taking the dive. And no, I’m sharing my act here. Yet.

Back to the writing…

 

 

 

 


* Footnote

I got to see Neil Gaiman courtesy of tickets won from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Fiction: Write Hard

The Author felt uninspired. The empty page on his computer stared back at him in blank indifference. It was, he thought, going to be hard to get some words out today. This wasn’t a new feeling these days. Moments of empty creativity were frequent and he often had a hard time pushing through. He likened it to Sisyphus’s plight with the boulder: a writer without inspiration was its own Hades. Stare at the screen long enough, a moment of inspiration might appear. He would manage to get a few lines out and then, well, the boulder would simply roll back down the hill as he realized that what he was writing didn’t click. He hated writer’s block. It meant that he wasn’t writing and he hated not writing very much. It was his raison d’être: he was a fiction writer. He loved it and he spent many, many hours finessing his craft. Writing was also his source of pride. At parties or on dates, whenever somebody asked what he did, he would tell them, “I am a writer.” Writing was what he did, it was what made him happy. Writing melted his anxieties away. If he was not writing, he was not living the life he wanted. If he wasn’t writing, he felt a fraud.

There was a time when writing was effortless for him. He knew a keyboard so well that he could just shut his eyes and begin typing and the words would just come, flowing from out of his head through his arms and onto the keyboard. It was like osmosis in its simplicity. He enjoyed the act of writing and creation and always fancied himself to one day live by writing professionally. In fact, after he had been fired from his previous job in customer service for spending more time writing than actually doing what he was hired to do, he decided that it was time to stop working for “the man” and become the author, the professional writer, that he knew he could always be. He began to submit stories to magazine. He saw more rejections than publications but when he did finally get into a few periodicals, he made some modest coin from that. It wasn’t enough to cover his bills, so he started doing freelance work with a few friends. They enjoyed the way the words seemed to come naturally to him and were astounded at his prolific abilities. It still wasn’t enough to completely keep him afloat month by month but he managed somehow to find ways of writing and, by proxy, make money.

Until recently, that is. He started noticing that the rejection letters became more numerous. Guessing that he was perhaps in a rut creatively, he tried writing in different ways, switching to poems and non-fiction essays. Though he had some success with those, it wasn’t what he enjoyed doing. He was a fiction writer and he ached to return to the world of imagination. So he decided to go all in and try to create a whip smart cracker, one that no publisher could deny. That’s when the writer’s block began. That’s when the writing stopped being fun.

He decided to make a sandwich, so he ambled into the kitchen. He sliced a tomato, buttered the bread, added sliced turkey and cheese. Food is fuel, he thought to himself. Why, halfway through this sandwich, I’m sure an idea will come. As he bit into the sandwich, he chewed, he imagined, rather thoughtfully. He closed his eyes, enjoying the tastes roll over his tongue, creation by mastication. He swallowed the bite and opened his eyes.

Nothing.

He took another bite. And another. And one more. Each time, he’d close his eyes and try to imagine something, anything, just one word, that could entice him. He took one last meaningful bite and bit the inside of his mouth.

He sat down on the couch and read a book. Perhaps this would inspire me, he thought. As it happened, his mind wandered as he struggled to get through two pages of the book. In frustration, he flung it at the floor, got up, and sat down at his laptop. “Brute force it has to be,” he grumbled and began typing.

As Gloria got out of the taxicab, she couldn’t believe her luck: dinner at one of the most lavish restaurant in the whole of the city, Chez Nous, with one of the most handsome, not to mention the most successful, sales associate at her company. It was, well, she thought to herself, the most. As she walked towards the entrance, a doorman welcomed her and opened the door. She took in a breath.

He decided that he didn’t like that particular idea and started again.

Sun-spotted, misbegotten son of the holy Earth, Rokko Molloy, wiped sleep out of his eyes and gave the finger to another besotted day. Thinking second thoughts, he switched from finger to thumb in hopes of a passing mystical plane would pick him up.

That wasn’t working either. He still felt hungry so he had an apple. Then he made some coffee. Hours passed. Then he made another pot of coffee. Very soon, he had to go to the toilet. Which he did.

The economic anxiety of not having anything published, much less written, was starting to creep up on him. He hated looking at the balance at his bank account. It made his guts rumble and feel like liquid. There was the $20 charge for a dinner out with friends. There was the $10 he spent on a six-pack of good beer. Groceries, for he loved eating fresh foods, were always a constant purchase. His balance stared back at him, the dwindling numbers plastering him with a baleful, judgmental eye.

He sniffed under his right arm and decided that he needed a shower. Lots of people took showers and had great ideas while doing so, he thought to himself. So he turned on the water, undressed, stepped in the shower and scrubbed and scrubbed some more. He drew words on the shower glass door. Then he made squiggly lines, smiley faces, and even a duck. He got out and robustly toweled his body dry. He brushed his hair, dressed, and checked the time on his mobile.

14:47

It was getting late in the day and still not one idea had came calling. No matter how hard he tried, it was all for naught. He felt himself beginning to stress. The tension he felt in his stomach growing unbearable. His insides burned, tears welled up in his eyes. He was frustrated. His fists closed shut so tightly that he heard his knuckles. He closed his eyes and felt the warm dribble of a tear down his face. It was too much, this feeling of failure and loss of his ability. His chest felt like he was being squeezed, his shoulders hurt all the way up his neck.

He let out a scream of frustration and resignation and just hitting random letters on the keyboard

as;dlkfja;sldkfja;sdlkfna;wdljfhnqa;dfjahnsd;fjnwef’odsbnxc,amwehfo;i lwae;dfjawnsdv.zmb nr.fjm,aew

This wasn’t as cathartic as he had hope so he erased it and started again.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Zip Dingworth and this is the story of my life.

No. He have it another go.

Once upon a time, there was a hack writer and he was just so fucking useless!

He started once more but all he typed was

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK AND MORE FUCKING FUCK

Then he typed

FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So many exclamation points. He highlighted the word and changed it to bold, then to italics, then to bold italics. Then he just erased it.

He hated this. Desperate, he wanted to just puke the first words that popped into his head but all he could type was FUCK. One final time, he deleted what he wrote and typed the first word that popped into his head.

FUCK

This wasn’t wholly original, he thought, but it would have to do. He tried to think of another word but blanked, so he thought of a number.

69

No, godfuckingdamnit! too obvious. Make it another number. With great originality, he wrote

70

He deleted it and rewrote it as

SEVENTY

So he had two words. He thought of another

WAYS

Ways? Can you show me the way to… and then he typed

TO

To where? Make up something, for Christ’s sake. Anything. Success? No. Omaha? God, no. He let out a sharp breath and closed his eyes. Rolling his head, he felt the ache in his neck from the tension. He slowed his breath. Allowing himself to calm, he began thinking of directions he would, personally, like to fuck. Breathing in, breathing out, he felt a calmness. His eyes closed, he began to just type the first words in his head. Words that could come naturally, words that expressed a concept as weird as fucking seventy ways towards it could be. He went for it: his fingers dancing sightless over the keyboard and finally hitting the ‘.’ with a resounding thump.

He opened his eyes and looked at what he had written.

FUCK SEVENTY WAYS TO TRANSCENDENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS USING THE LIMBO CHEDDAR TECHNIQUE.

He sighed dejectedly as his ringer finger began drifting towards the backspace key. He chuckled at the futility of the phrase. He laughed again when he realized the absurdity of what he wrote. It was all silly, but it felt somehow right. Something in the phrase sang to him and he smiled. He began typing.

Excuse me, miss. I have a favor to ask. This isn’t a pickup line. Well, maybe it is but it’s not that kind of pickup line. I’m a traveler between dimensions. And right now, I’m lost. In truth, I’m committed to an experience in this current form.

Recognizable sensations were firing in his head. It an electric prickle that he had almost forgotten had existed. As he continued typing, the hairs on his head stood erect. He was writing again and it was easy. The words rained unhindered the page. It felt triumphant, it was ecstatic, it was creation.

The Author had returned. He was writing again. It may not be the story but it was a story. And for now, that was good enough.

So it was that the Author continued writing well into the evening. And he kept writing more and more until finally he had reached

The End