3/20: The Diving Board

by Nick Smith in


Today is Kofi's birthday, so happy birthday, Kofi! Oregon is really way too far. Everything is way too far. I realized the other day that I basically have not left the city of Madison all year long as far as I can remember. Back when I lived in the northeast, people were far apart, but also kind of close together. I don't mind a five hour drive to spend the weekend among friends. But now that I am here in Wisconsin, everyone's too far away. I need to take four days off of work just to go home for two. Everyone is swamped with grad school stuff to the point where I have a hard time reaching out for fear I will disturb their fragile grad school equilibrium. Basically, the prospect of going to graduate school frightens me so that I am convinced that all my friends in grad school are so busy that a phone call will throw off their whole fucking education. I fully acknowledge that this is unreasonable behavior. But I have enough phone anxiety that this is totally sufficient for me to not dial numbers. I achieved at a modest level today. The clothes and sheets and aprons from work are laundered. I got started on the dishes. If I actually finish them, then maybe I'll have a goddamned party. I have a schedule this weekend that will probably test my limits, as I have a split shift on Friday that will result in a completely unprecedented DOUBLE clopen. Closing Thursday, morning Friday, closing Friday, morning Saturday. I'll make it. Especially since Saturday night I'm off to some random small Wisconsin town to catch a concert with Stefan's dad. That will be a nice treat.

I have failed to achieve in other ways, though. I still have not touched a microphone since that debacle at Amy's back in February. I've got a little bit of material that I've been working on piece by piece, but I still am struggling to throw myself back into comedy. I've got a good chunk of material together about Snooki's pregnancy that actually feels like it has real live jokes in it, which is a refreshing change.  I'm starting to worry she's going to have the fucking thing before I get a chance to tell it. It may be a little overly topical and hacky, but it least it is jokes, and not just me editorializing without any sort of punchline, which is a problem I felt like I was running into with my older jokes. I was talking an awful lot and only setting up one or two laughs. Also, it's gonna be a little weird when I go back, because I can only assume all the other comics figure that I've quit. And I haven't quit. I'm just trying to regain my focus, because if the debacle at Amy's taught me anything, it's that I have to be prepared to go up there or I will bomb. So if I'm not focused and ready, then I'm going to keep banging my head against the wall.

When's Phish tour again? I don't want to wait until the end of June. That feels like forever, but it feels like June right now.

Where do I belong again? These days off where I basically don't have social interaction really fuck with me. This country's too goddamned big. And I struggle with feelings that I'm wasting a lot of potential. Almost all of my friends are in grad school, or are on their own fun adventures. Today I was driving and my brain was digging and something went clank in the thought mine, and I unearthed a big shiny thought that said, "Hey, Nick. You might actually be the single least successful member of your graduating class so far." I was unable to cite specific examples to debunk this argument. Maybe I can turn this train of thought into a joke somehow. The joke would probably only work in Boston or New York because anywhere else there isn't that base of knowledge that is familiar with Middlebury College, and it would drag the joke down to explain it.

But I dicked around with the guitar again today and came up with a neat little chord progression. I miss feeling like I could write lyrics. I feel a bit of a disconnect between the way I write music and my voice as a lyricist. I always feel like things don't fit right.

Also, I want to be in a band again.  It's not something I was ever opposed to, but it's not a thought I've actively had in a VERY long time. I want to play guitar rock. Holy shit, do I want to play guitar rock. I don't even care if I'm playing guitar or bass. I want to just let it fucking rip. What all this means is that I will probably troll Craigslist musician pages with the same look-don't-touch cowardice I have with OK Cupid.

IN WHICH I ATTEMPT TO DEVELOP A METAPHOR FOR MY LIFE STRUGGLES EPISODE #324: At my parents' house we have a pool. That pool has a diving board. Often times when I am about to dive in for the first time, I will freeze on the diving board. As best I can tell it is rooted in some anxiety about the shock of the water being cold. Even though I've been in that pool hundreds of times. This can happen even on a hot day when I know the temperature of the water is a temperature I am perfectly comfortable in. I just can't dive in. Eventually I do, but it's fortunate that gravity is there to take me the rest of the way. Unfortunately, unlike the pool, all of the things I need to be throwing myself into feel like they are constantly throwing me out.

Jesus Christ I need to stop torturing this metaphor and go the fuck to sleep.