Love.

30 06 2017

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If kindness beholds itself to random acts completed in its honor then love is the scraping and molding of deliberation – no randomness here.

Planning.

Struggling.

Acting.

Today, I witnessed a scene that I have seen numerous time as it occurs on my street – a gentleman walking to a special transport for the county to help a loved one walk down the steps of the bus.

For him, this is probably a daily occurrence but he ..is …there – every day – the same time.

Who is the woman walking down – clearly older but with the smile of a 10 year old – innocent, kind, warm and slightly greying hair in a bob and held back by two barrettes? Is she his daughter? A relative? A friend?

Love is deliberate.

Being there.

Holding on to the best of another person despite what your hopes might have been.

Doing the hard work.

Being ok with how things are and not how things “should” be.

This takes thought, fortitude and a commitment to another person based on where they are and not where you need them to be to maintain certain optics for your own sake.

Love is cruel and ugly and requires things of us we may never have imagined and damn if that isn’t beautiful.

Kindness is easy.

Maybe it costs $2.35 on the Turnpike to pay for the car behind me or someone’s coffee at Starbucks. That’s nothing.

But love is grueling …and so necessary.

Because there is no living without those moments. The ones that have you waiting for the silence to befall so you can talk yourself into another day with the hopes it gets easier.

And it will.

Love is not Hugh Grant in “Love Actually”.

Actually, that was romance and some pretty good lighting.

Love is snot and sweat and changing diapers – and not always on a baby – and being there to help her down the stairs of the bus though your dream at one time was to play with the grandkids she gave you.

That’s love, but you better be ready.

Until next time,

Marc





Staging a Life

2 09 2015

Whatever you do - don't live...it might mess things up.

Whatever you do – don’t live…it might mess things up.

Today, I had the realtors in my house this morning to take photographs to get ready to list it for sale. As some of you may know from earlier blogs, I am getting ready to put my house on the market as part of Marc 2.0.

I spent a lot of time over the past two weeks cleaning, patching, caulking, painting, weeding and generally making the home look more like something you would see in a catalog than where two kids with little propensity for closing a drawer let alone concerning themselves with Feng Shui harmonization principals would reside.

The realtor brought along a photographer and a stager. For those who may have not had to sell a property in a while, the stager is the one who moves things around and places things, removes things etc. such that prospective buyers can imagine themselves living in what will soon be your past home. 

It was interesting because upon exiting, the realtor said “the stager said there really wasn’t much for her to do – you did a good job.” I know this was meant as a compliment but as someone who reads meaning into almost anything, I found it an interesting metaphor for this turning point in my life and the life of my kids.

I have been spending so much of my time over the past year or so reflecting on how I got to this point in my life and trying to derive some sort of positive meaning or learnings from it. The one thing that has been an incredible discovery is the chasm that exists between the self we want everyone to see and the self that we actually are. Perhaps it is the self we don’t even want everyone to see but that we feel, out of fear (see past blog post), we are expected to portray. 

How much of our time are we staging our life for the catalog version of who we are, what we do, how we engage? Sure, there is a need to stage parts of our life, if for no other reason, than out of respect for those around us who either do not want to be privy to the cluttered, more realistic version, or more likely, have their own version to deal with. However, just like the staged home, expecting that we are going to live within that version is a dangerous proposition for us and especially those around us.

My house will never ever look as organized, clean and approachable as it will in photos posted on line. My life will never ever come close to the staged version that so many people are more comfortable with seeing. That’s just life. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t take pride in those moments when the staging matches the reality…those moments when it just seems to be going right; the times when a glance in the mirror tells you that you don’t look so tired today or the ride to work was as close to a traffic-free car commercial on a winding terrain as it’ll ever get it. Those are good days.

I don’t look forward to having to keep the clutter hidden and the beds made for the next few months while strangers “imagine” how their lives will unfold in my current home. It’s not the work so much. It’s the sterile detachment from life, from the messiness of life in particular, that depresses me.

I have never been jealous of homes that look like they are straight out of catalogs. I think it looks amazing and wonderful but it also strikes me as removed from what a clinical home is versus a house with stories to tell. Maybe that’s just my excuse for never being able to get things perfect. I’m not sure. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not comfortable with something straight out of “Hoarders” either. I think you get my point, though.

Tomorrow, the photos of my perfectly staged home go up on line and people I don’t know will picture themselves and their lives in my house – maybe their yet to be kid sitting at the kitchen counter doing homework or a family game night in the living room. It is the way relationships are built, brands are marketed and homes are sold. Behind closed doors, the un-staged version is much more appealing to me. It says “welcome to your new home – it’s going to be a wild and messy ride.” What are you staging?

Until next time, Marc

Thanks again for reading. I appreciate it. If you haven’t already, please consider enrolling to get my blog posts delivered straight to your inbox through this site, email me at marckaye91@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @marckaye91. (Better yet, how about all 3). Also, through October 15, for every new follower I get, I will be donating $1 to Nechama, a disaster relief agency, in honor of my daughter who is raising money and awareness for this great organization for her Bat Mitzvah project! Thanks again, Marc





In this corner, Anxiety. In this corner, Fear.

29 08 2015

Man, this fight sucks.

Man, this fight sucks.

I have written about fear enough times in this blog in the past but when something occurs that reminds me of how powerful this really is, I feel compelled to write about it again.

Just to reiterate what I may have alluded to in the past, I am not speaking of fear associated with flight or fight – the fear of walking down a dark alley in the city at 2 am or being diagnosed with something horrible. I am talking about the fears that we wear as a coat ourselves – either real or imagined – that become part of us without even knowing it and ultimately mold us into who we think we need to be rather than who we are.

I have to admit, that even after seeing that scientific pinnacle of the psychological community “Inside Out” with my kids, I wasn’t sure if fear was truly an emotion. According to Wikipedia (which is not scientific but I trust more than, say, Donald Trump), fear “occurs as the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable” and is related to but “should be distinguished from” the emotion of anxiety.

I also realized that I took for granted that I thought I understood exactly what an emotion was. It is defined as:”an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced.”

This is starting to gel now. If my effective state of consciousness is an anxious one, then the resulting experience is fear. If, on the opposite side of the spectrum, my effective state of consciousness is one of contentment, joy is the resulting experience. Makes sense. (Interesting to me how, out of all the experiences referenced in the definition, 75% of them are not so great – necessary but not necessarily great to feel. Had to be written by a Jew – just saying. It’s how we’re wired.)

For many reasons, I had socialized myself to live in a state of anxiety about comedy or anything creative for that matter. I had always done music and that seemed more acceptable but admitting to stand-up always gave me an uncomfortable sqeamish feeling that was hard to ignore. 

Today, my kids and I met long time friends (past neighbors of ours) for brunch and it was just terrific. They have known my family before my kids were even born and I had lost touch with them as I did with many others during this weird 2 year hiatus when I was just trying to get through without anyone knowing what the hell was going on.

In any event, toward the end of our breakfast, they asked me if I was still doing comedy and after replying that I am basically squeezing it whenever I can as long as it doesn’t disrupt the kids etc. – they said something to the affect of “but you’re not giving it up” – almost like holding me to not quitting. It was subtle. Perhaps I read into it. But it was sort of what I needed.

Here’s why. I lived with real and perceived threats around this comedy thing for so long that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy and I became more anxious leading to more fear. It was a cycle of craziness. I had real threats – it was a threat to my marriage in some ways because I just never was able to articulate why it was important and not some sort of low class “hanging out” proposition. It was a perceived threat because I was too worried about what people would think – friends, family, work colleagues. Hell, even to this day, most of my work colleagues don’t have any idea though I am not deliberately hiding it but I’m not going out of my way to advertise it either.

Fear. It can really be crippling.

The one great thing about divorce is that eventually, you can’t hide from it no matter how much you try. Someone has moved out. Someone doesn’t show up to a family function. Some one leaves a ton of crap on your front lawn. It gets noticeable and quick. It’s a good thing. Once that happens, there’s no more anxiety. No more wondering “what if”. There is only the present, and hopefully, the future.

It’s been a great lesson for me for comedy. Some people say comedy ruins people’s lives. I have to say it has only helped mine. I know other comics probably feel the same way. Anxiety may lead to fear but action can lead to contentment. And the circle is complete. Hakuna matata.

Until next time,

Marc

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My Comedy Uniform

28 08 2015
No live bananas were harmed in the taking of this photo.

No live bananas were harmed in the taking of this photo.

When I was a kid, I used to stay away from my mom when she had no make-up on and a rag in her hand. I knew that in her “cleaning uniform” there was probably a good chance she wasn’t going to be in the best of moods. And after spending a lot of time cleaning my own place in preparation for selling, I definitely understand why.

On the corollary, she had her “going out uniform”. That meant hair, make-up, nice clothes – it meant we were probably going shopping but out of the house anywhere where there wasn’t a laundry list of things yet to be done was a good thing.

I often categorized myself in the same way and for me, it was just normal, but I realized that it was a big reason when I went from “work uniform”, (clean shaven, decent outfit, quaffed hair to the best of my ability) to “home uniform”, (jeans, t-shirt, unshaven and unruly hair). This latter was what was to become my “comedy uniform” for better or for worse.

As much as I read about comics who stand apart with their wardrobes (Jerry Seinfeld, Sinbad, Amy Schumer), I haven’t exactly gotten to any other separate uniform for comedy yet.

Yesterday, I did an outdoor show in New Jersey. It was great. I had a great time despite being relegated again to the spot of going on first. I still don’t know if this is a compliment or a nice way of saying “we still think you’re funny but just in case…”. Anyway, it was great.

One of the best moments of the night, though, was talking with the comics after the show. I met a new comedian who, like me, has had a corporate career (and I still do) and got her MBA, as well. We were talking about how much more comfortable we are with other comics, how these are “our people”. It was so amazing hearing my thoughts come out of someone else’s mouth – from the perspectives that we have about being around people who claim to be self-aware but are anything but to living within the mental confines of suburbia. It was so refreshing.

It occurred to me on the ride home that I never really had a comedy uniform. My “comedy uniform” is really the authentic me. I have been wearing other uniforms – dad at the baseball game, dad at the school play, dad at the bus stop, husband, employee – you get the picture that were different than my real one.

The more and more I “do comedy”, the more I realize that this isn’t about an end game at all. It’s about wearing the uniform that fits me best. And it feels right. What’s your natural uniform?

Until next time,

Marc





My Grandpa’s 100th Birthday.

28 06 2015
Me and my grandpa.

Me and my grandpa.

Today would have been the 100th birthday of my grandfather.
He passed away almost 21 years ago but I can say that I still think about him almost every day.
This is a man who never went to school beyond the 8th grade, having been pulled away from school to work on the farm and then, himself, worked harder than anyone I probably ever had known.
He was a great grandfather. He wasn’t a 21st century grandfather like you would see today, perhaps, but in his own quiet way, you knew he loved you. He was no nonsense but not in a self-righteous way. He was simple but not dumb in any respect. He was old-world and strict and yet open minded for someone of his generation.
I have been thinking about him a lot today. The world that exists today is greatly different politically, environmentally, socially and financially than the one he left in 1994 and how would he make sense of it – this man who cranked up his first automobile and drove a school bus after retiring from the farm?
While I would not want him to endure his grandson going through a divorce, as I know it would pain him greatly, I would be willing to have him live through that if it meant the opportunity to meet his grandchildren, one of whom he is named for. That would be a real hoot. I can see his wide, dentured smile now laughing at some of the shit that comes out my 14 year old and the rosiness of his cheeks that was prominent around pretty ladies, like my daughter. I picture him reaching for a plastic bag full of Brach candies to offer them to my kids. (It’s funny what you remember.)
It is easy to lose your way on the journey to and during adulthood. I can’t figure it out. I am really struggling right now – but I am ok with it. It is exactly where I need to be and there are lessons that still await me. My grandfather was never affected by what did not concern him. He was a family man through and through – not necessary easy, not necessarily “enlightened”, not necessarily progressive but reliable, true, honest and forthright. These qualities are sorely missing in our ego driven world where it is as much around perception as it is around authenticity. I don’t know that I can live up to that standard myself but am willing to try.
He was not without his struggles, of which I will never really know as there are walls that remain between child and adult either for the sake of the child or the sake of the adult. However, I can tune into those frequencies better now of what they may be as many might be my own today.
100 years old. That would be something.
I remember his funeral on October 6 in New York state. It was the most beautiful, peaceful autumn day. The light from the sun was crisp – the type of yellow hue that is captured in a painting and was accentuated by the calmest winds and it smelled like fresh autumn leaves. I knew that for all his illness, he was at peace.
He came to me a few days later in what was more than a dream. For those of you who have had dreams that were beyond “seeming so real” but yet unexplainable, you will know what I mean.
I never told too many people about it but it was so vivid that I knew it was not just a dream.
I was looking into a mirror that he and my grandmother had in their hallway when I saw my grandfather walk up behind me. But he was not the grandfather who had grown so frail over the past few years. Rather, it was the heavier, mafioso looking guy with salt and pepper mustache and wavy thick hair, shirt with pocket that always held his eyeglasses case, big belt and slacks.
I was incredibly startled to see him, having just buried him.
He was standing behind me and had a wide grin laughing at me as if had just pulled off the best episode of “Punked” that ever existed.
And then, he was gone and I woke up in my bed.
There was a hazy transition from sleep to wake state and I stared at the top of my bureau with my alarm clock.
I knew he was ok.
Happy Birthday Grandpa. Until next time….
Love, Marc
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The “Comedy” Divorce

16 06 2015

marriage-divorce-ecard

It’s been almost a year since I officially started my journey of single “fatherdom”. To be honest, it hasn’t been easy but my kids are incredibly resilient and that was and will always be my first priority.

This seemed like as good a time as any to reflect on this “momentous” anniversary of sorts and I wanted to put something to rest. There have been some that, upon finding out that my wife asked for a divorce, have assumed that it was “comedy-related”. The rationale goes something like this: “well, it’s hard being a comic and being with someone unless they really understand it and are supportive. Comedy can be like a drug and it can tear families apart….blah, blah, blah.”

WHOA!!!

The idea that myself or anyone would do anything to jeopardize their family because of a love for stand-up seems a little far-fetched. Comedy is my golf. It never took the place of family activities or priorities. It is one of my personal passions but never once have I thought of compromising relationships for comedy. Comedy may have highlighted already existing issues but they were always there. For those who insinuate otherwise tend to be both over-simplistic and quite frankly, insulting.

For sure, there were parts of my routine that did not sit well with my wife, which I modified and then after vigorous debate, withdrew completely. At one point, I was directed to NOT talk about being a husband or a father at all because it could reflect negatively on the family. So, for a time, I spoke only about being Jewish and other stuff. I wasn’t about to talk about dating, college or my fast food job because it wasn’t authentic. It wasn’t me.

I don’t understand how comedy gets such a bad rap. I have met some of the most real people ever doing stand-up and writing. I have played in bands and been to plenty of “professional” events and let me tell you, people are people and any one who thinks that income, social status or vocabulary is a measure of how trustworthy or authentic a person is- well, you’re dead wrong. I could never get this message across to my wife because she simply refused to believe it and then I got too upset that she would not listen. That is what contributed – a fundamental lack of respect for who I was – not comedy, itself. I was willing to “quit” comedy. I still would if it meant being able to have my family in tact. That is not the issue.

I am now trying to turn this pivotal event in my life into some good material – not an easy thing. Every time i bring it up on stage, I can hear a hallowed gasp among some in the audience. I am not quitting though. I know that talking about what is really happening in a way that is truthful (and hopefully funny) is really who I am.

The one thing I have learned in all of this is that whatever image I was trying to hold onto was just a fallacy. My “secret” is out and it has given me incredible freedom to just be me – like it or not. I really do not care.

There are plenty of people who politely say hello while judging and they will always be there. I will continue to say hello to them. Believe me, nobody knows what really happens among two people other than those two people…unless one of them happens to be a comic…that’s when the fun begins and believe me, I’m working on it….stay tuned!

Until next time,

Marc





The Truth about Caitlyn, Transitions & Comedy

10 06 2015

image

There’s been a ton of press about Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn Jenner. Too much press.

I don’t really care which side of this you might reside on. I can’t understand it the same way I can’t understand what it’s like to be a reality TV star or an Olympian. To me, it’s not part of my experience. For me to make fun of it sort of just reflects back on me the way I see it. Making fun of something and finding humor are two different things.

To go to those lengths that people like Caitlyn must really reflect an internal struggle that could no longer be sustained. To me, that represents severe pain and who am I, or anyone, for that matter to get all self righteous about it? Something tells me though, that even Caitlyn has found some of the humor in it. I only say that after watching his interview with Diane Sawyer, which seems to me a painful exercise in and of itself.

It’s been enlightening, to say the least, to read the very predictable comments that people have to say. What is interesting, however, is the slew of positive support that has been pointed in Caitlyn’s direction. Anyone who has come out – for anything – gay, lesbian, transexual, agnostic, divorced – faces a fear that they will not be accepted and then….miraculously feels freed.

There have been plenty of graduation speeches and essays written about living your true, authentic self. I don’t think most of us really do this. I know I don’t. I am trying more and more each day. This is what has drawn me so much to comedy. There are very few “pretender” comedians. In fact, some comics take upon themselves to be so “authentic” that it can fall in the category of “TMI”.

Getting to a place of no fear and true authenticity – that is the greatest transition of all.

I don’t know Caitlyn Jenner. I don’t have the right to comment on her struggle one way or the other. I do know, though, that if she could kill at an open mic night – that’s all that would really matter to me.

What’s your transition?
Until next time,
Marc

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