Tag Archives: Comedy

The Great Escape

“The Hobby Hoarder project began as an escape from negative thoughts, from regrets, from fears, from worries, from sadness. But then my project began to teach me something I couldn’t have expected: how to live a balanced life of struggle and success. I’d like to invite you to step a little closer into my hobby year, to know a little more why this project has been so important to me, and to learn the real heartbeat of the project and myself.”

What you need to know before you read this entry is that it’s not just another hobby post. I hope you’ll stick around.

——————-

racecar

As I prepare to ride along in the racecar, I can hear cars motoring around the track.

Vroom.

Vroom.

Vroom.

There are a number of spectators watching their friends and family members take on car racing for the first time.

I stand off to the side. While they cheer the drivers on to their first black and white checkered flag, I get ready to head out to the track, to have that checkered flag waved for me. This new experience will mark the completion of my 100th hobby, a goal I’ve been working towards for the past 81 weeks.

Helmet – Check.

Yellow sunglasses – Check.

Motion sickness medicine – Check. Pre hobby jitters … Check

Ten minutes later, I am in the racecar buckling up and high fiving my driver Mitch. Before I know it, we are whipping around the track at what feels like 200 mph. The engine roars throughout the car. We speed up and hang tight on the bumper of another car on the track before swiftly swerving to the right and lapping him. I give the camera that’s attached to the deck a thumbs up.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 8.20.30 PM

And before I know it, three short laps later, we pull back into where we started.

“That was awesome!” I exclaim to Mitch and then ask him how fast we were going, “175? 180?” He laughs at me, “No ma’am. 75 mph—but it feels much faster on a short track like this.”

My jaw drops. 75 mph!? I’ve reached that speed on the highway—but it doesn’t feel like that! I mean driving 75 on the highway isn’t exhilarating—it doesn’t feel dangerous—and it doesn’t feel thrilling. This ride around the track felt exhilarating–felt dangerous–and was definitely a thrill. Mitch gives me a congratulatory fist-pound and I exit the vehicle, still in awe.

I head over to the spectator area and patiently wait for another race of cars to begin. Ten minutes later, cars begin entering the track.

I listen as the cars accelerate and I raise my yellow sunglasses to the top of my head. I breathe in the fresh air. I decide to stick around the track and watch the other cars as they continue to race around.

I begin to think of the hobby year in laps. During each lap, a racecar driver must deal with significant elements—navigating around the other cars on the track, knowing when to accelerate, when to slow down, when to take the inside corner (or the outside), knowing when to take a break to refuel, when to have maintenance done on the car. During each of my hobby weeks, I had to understand when to slow myself down so I wouldn’t wear myself thin, I had to know when to take a breath and refuel for the next week, and I had to know when I could really press the pedal.

I get distracted from the track and I think about what it took to get me to this place—not only this racetrack—but this place in my life.

I’d like to invite you to step a little closer into my hobby year, to know a little more why this project has been so important to me, to learn the real heartbeat of the project and myself.

Because the truth is—the hobby hoarder project has saved my life.

I found myself wondering the past few weeks if it was me that was keeping the Hobby Hoarder alive – or the Hobby Hoarder that was keeping me alive. And the answer? It’s both. I’ve been keeping the Hobby Hoarder alive to keep me alive.

Only a few months before the hobbying began, I hit a tremendous low in my life…a low that eventually became a turning point.

The truth of the matter is I’ve spent years feeling depressed. Stuck. Bored. Over critical. Sad. Anxious. Nervous. Sometimes, I felt more alone when I was with people than even when I was in the comfort of my own home.

I tried to run from feelings I was having. I thought if I moved away from my college town—it’d get better, so I moved to New York. When that wasn’t working, I bought a plane ticket to Italy and said arrividerci to America. And when that didn’t work I returned to New York City full of hope that I could do better than I did the first time I was here—full of hope that the sadness wouldn’t return.

I was wrong.

Despite living in a great apartment, working in the field I wanted to work in, and enjoying the single-life in the biggest city in the world- I still felt a void. It was a sadness I couldn’t put words to. I had everything I thought I was supposed to and yet, I didn’t have the one thing that I thought all the “supposed to’s” were going to bring me: happiness.

I wish I could say this was a new feeling for me, but it wasn’t. It was a feeling that had simply escalated over time. I was depressed for nearly six years. I refused to talk to anyone about it.

I knew that on the surface, I played things off well and I seemed alright with my friends, but deep down inside, I wasn’t alright. I wasn’t even okay. I was ready to throw in the towel. I was ready to call it quits. I was ready to disappear.

It’s taken me a long time to put this down on paper—to tell my family and friends about it, but the truth is,  I didn’t want to live.

I struggled through smiling. I found it hard to laugh. I didn’t wear yellow sunglasses to try and brighten up even cloudy days. I went through the motions of eating breakfast, boarding the train, going to work, leaving work, eating dinner, sleeping. I was stuck. The way I saw it—there was only one way out.

I could remember trying new activities as a child. I drove my parents insane asking them if I could try them all: kayaking, sailing, basketball, ballet, clarinet, baseball, field hockey. Gosh, I can still remember the first time I held a field hockey stick—the way it turned in my hands, the awkwardness of having to roll it from side to side to dribble down the field. I can remember the rattle of my thin wooden stick as I’d go to drive the ball down the field the first time and the excitement I felt the first time I dodged a teammate during practice.

ehms

I wanted to feel that joy, that excitement again. I wanted to be passionate about trying new things the way I had as a kid. I needed to feel that curiosity–that desire to know everything, to learn anything. It wasn’t so much that I stopped wanting to, but I stopped getting as excited, I stopped looking for the opportunities, I stopped doing what I loved to do.

And I was angry about it. And the anger drove my depression even deeper. I didn’t want to be like this. I WANTED to be excited about waking up each day. I wanted to feel motivated enough to go out and do things. I wanted to enjoying being alive.

I battled my depression as best I could, slipping back and forth between wanting to see tomorrow and not being sure it was worth the struggle, until I met someone who took me under his wing and who sat with me for endless hours in coffee shops and taught me the craft of stand up comedy. He reminded me how good it felt to laugh and how good it felt to make others laugh as well.

For the first time in years, I had tried something new and given myself up to it, completely and fully. I hit a turning point, and started to find clarity at last.

standup3

I took up drawing and acting along with the comedy. As I stimulated my mind, the negative aspects of my life started to seemingly fade away because I had started to focus my energies on much more positives ways of living. I was focusing my attention on the physical world outside, and allowing myself the chance to see past the dark insecurities and thoughts that raced through my mind.

The Hobby Hoarder project began as an escape from the negative thoughts – an escape from regrets – from fears- from worries – from sadness. But then my project began to teach me something I couldn’t have expected–how to live a balanced life.

After a handful of hobbies, I began to see these new experiences as much more than gimmicky adventures. I started to take on a new frame of a mind. As the Hobby Hoarder I began to understand that we don’t have to run from our problems. Instead, we can face them head on. Though the hobbies started as an escape, the project actually gave me safe a way to face the very real issues I would normally feel strangled by each day: body image, confidence, sexuality, self- love.

I was finally able to recognize and admit to myself how I truly felt about my body by spinning around a pole at a pole dancing class and by taking on group fitness classes—something I once ran terrified from. I gained confidence by giving myself permission to take lessons in activities that once seemed impossible. And I began to love myself more each and every day as I conquered—and struggled through–an assortment of activities that ranged from birdhouse making with my mother to piloting a plane around Manhattan at sunset. I learned what it meant to take off, accept the struggles, to re-balance after severe turbulence—and what it meant to let myself land every once in a while and refuel—because we don’t HAVE to be on the go all the time. Life’s a balance between the struggle and the success.

And because I gave myself permission to struggle in controlled environments week after week, because I raised the stakes, because I gave myself opportunities, because I refused to quit, I experienced 81 weeks of life that I never would have, if I had given up when I wanted to—when I had planned to.

And even though for five of the hobby months I was working 60-hour workweeks, I didn’t care. Because I knew at the end of the day—or the week, I’d be rewarding myself with something that felt productive towards living a healthy and balanced life—and because I knew at the end of the day or the week that I was going to have my chance to really live the life I wanted to live after sacrificing hours to pay the bills.

After returning from my cross-country road trip in March, the 52nd hobby on my list, I feared the feelings of restriction and depression might come back after having so much freedom on the open road—after having no obligations for fifty days. And at first they did—not necessarily to the same extreme as two years ago—but I felt bubbles of sadness boiling through me. I lacked energy. I lounged on the couch and questioned how I’d ever get back into the groove of things in New York.

And then, as I’ve written about before, I started finding a respect for what was happening. I started to accept my sadness as part of a cycle—that sometimes our sadness is a result of something that made us incredibly happy. In this case it was a road trip. In someone else’s case it could be getting to see a good friend for the first time in years but also having to say goodbye again.

I thought I’d end the hobby hoarder project after the trip, but instead of ending the project– I continued it. I treated the trip like a landing—and took off again, because I recognized that I found great happiness through new experiences—that the activities I jumped into gave me a chance to learn not only the lessons at hand, but life lessons too. And like a racecar going around a track—I continued on my journey.

BUT that doesn’t mean the hobby year and the hobbies cured me of all feelings of anxiety—or sadness—loneliness—or depression. I’m not immune to these feelings at all. But I now have a better handle, for myself, on how to control them—and take them with stride.

We all experience depression and sadness in different ways—and it’s important that we take time to recognize how and when we are affected—and reach for help when it’s needed.

It’s also important that we discover healthy habits and methods for coping—and that we retain those tools for later.

So the next time you feel like you’ve had enough—when you think there’s no more out there and when you think there’s only one way out, I invite you to take a walk around the block and photograph at least one thing that grabs your attention. I invite you to go to the gym and give yourself 15 minutes to see how your energy and mood has changed. I invite you to turn off the lights and meditate for one, two, or ten minutes. I invite you to write down five things you are grateful for and I invite you to make a list of all the things you can do—all the things you WANT to do. And just try ONE.

And I invite you to share your stories and progress with me. As always, you can find me @ thehobbyhoarder@gmail.com, Twitter, and Facebook. I’d love the chance to know more about you, what fears you have, and how you’re able to move through them.

___

Please remember:

When you think you’ve had enough, when you think you can’t go on,  you can. Know that you are capable, and above all, know that you can live. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 6.25.22 PM

Advertisements

48 Hour Film Project: NYC

Posted on

I am staring at the clock. It’s 3:23 AM. Traffic is moving in a very specific rhythm outside. I watch as lights cast shadows through my friend’s living room, and I restlessly try to catch some shut eye. I close my eyes, but like a kid waiting for her birthday, I can’t fall asleep. I’m too anxious. I’m too excited for what’s ahead. We are only eight hours into the 48 Hour Film Project (NYC), a competition that asks groups of filmmakers to create a 4-7 minute short film in under 48 hours. Filmmaking. THIS is the HOBBY and CAREER I moved to New York City for. And while I’ve done much of my own filmmaking and video work–I’ve never ever taken part in a film competition. This is what we call: Awesome. As I open my eyes again and stare at the ceiling, I can feel my excitement only growing with each echo of each car that passes under the bridge outside. We’ve finished our our script, we’ve plotted our shot list, and in three hours we are going to wake up to shoot a movie. And all I am thinking in my head is “Hell. Freaking. Yah.”

***************************

It can be very lonely in New York City–especially when you first move here.

 I moved to New York City in January of 2010, and I can remember, very vividly, two months into my move, walking out of my internship, calling my best friend on the phone, and crying to her for an hour about how lonely I was–how I didn’t know if I could make it here–how I wanted desperately to be able to make friends who were creative, who were ready to collaborate, who were passionate, who were looking to make things happen–BIG things–earth shaking things-friends who were ready to take on the world as if it were Mount Everest and fight hard earned battles to make it to the top.

What I’ve learned from that loneliness is a lesson in persistence, and in patience, and in passion.

I realized that I couldn’t make these friends that I was seemingly struggling to find if I didn’t put myself out there, if I didn’t take an initiative to start and to create myself. This city is comprised of 8 million people–I can’t break down the stats for you on where they are all from–or how they all got here, but I can safely say that many of these people are searching for a light in a tunnel that leads to success–a light in a tunnel that may perhaps lead to a Broadway Stage, or a credit on a feature film; a light in a tunnel that may lead to a sold out concert at SummerStage or a part in Shakespeare in the Park; a light in a tunnel that leads to a metaphorical pot of gold symbolizing that all dreams did indeed come true.

I knew that within those eight million people, amidst all of the skyscrapers, all of the Broadway shows, and all of the chaos of the city that these people were out there. I just had to be very clear that I too was one of these dreamers.

And then it happened.

I made a good friend through my internship, who could see my passion and my drive as I shared my latest projects and or films with her. She could also see my willingness to put myself out there and to openly express my interest in “making it” in order, not to be famous, but rather to make an impact on another person’s life.  And so she introduced me to many of her friends in the Big Apple.

She, herself, was a young makeup artist who was working on TV shows and movies. And her friends? Young cooks, young  chefs, young musicians, young actors, young filmmakers, young producers, young directors, young writers, younger performers, young singers. Most of them worked shifts at Ruby Tuesdays to pay the bills. But what stood out more than anything to me, was that like me–they were all dreamers. And they still are.

Since that first year of living in New York City, I have maintained many of the friendships I have made with these friends. And I am proud of that. I have seen each of them do amazing work. I’ve seen dreams transition to realities–and I’ve seen passion and persistence and patience, all the things I needed in order to make these friends, play out in extremely rewarding ways.

Our conversations extend from general “How are yous?” to endless banter, debates and smiles over all things creative.

“You liked that movie? But it didn’t have this, this or this….” and “But his acting in this was far superior to his acting in…” “I just think he should have never made that film.”

I always wondered when I’d get the chance to sit down and work with some of the people I connected with when I first moved here.

That answer was this weekend, for the 48 Hour Film Project, in which a team of 14 of us, organized by my good friend Kim, took on the aforementioned challenge to create a 4-7 minute film in just 48 hours.

On that team were  6 individuals from that initial group of friends that I forged friendships with founded on a common love of film, television, and theatre. On that team were also 7 individuals that I had never had the pleasure to meet before–but who I can’t imagine not surrounding myself with again.

Each team must enter with a team name, and when the festival kicks off each team must select at random a genre. After the genre is chosen, EVERY team must then make sure that they include three specific details within their film: a specific character, a prop, and a line (Genres differ but specific details remain consistent for all teams). All of this is noted here.

Our Team: Ruby Squared Productions
Our Genre: Dark Comedy
Character: Cat or Cam Dean–an ad executive
Prop: Trophy
Line: When do you expect her?

In less than 48 hours, we scripted, we crafted, we envisioned, we executed, we edited, we composed, we exported, and we delivered a 6:30 minute dark comic film; a 6:30 minute film that gave us all a little reminder why we came to New York, why that patience and persistence in pursuing our passions mattered and what we are truly capable of when we take on a challenge and attack it together, and lastly a little reminder what happens when the talking stops and the making of films starts: Magic.

In his book, Here is New York, E.B White writes: “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”

Here’s to the settlers that I had the brilliant opportunity to work with this past weekend:
Alex Zingaro, Brandon Jacobs, Brandon Opel, Brandon Pro, Chris Grady, Kimberly DiPersia, MaryLynn Suchan, Matt Van Vorst, Megan Magee, Nate Smith, Robert DeSanti, Sean Gallagher, and Shannon Kendall.

And here’s to being patient, persistent, and passionate.

Here are some stills of the production process:

IMG_1779Photo Credit Megan Magee

IMG_1796Photo Credit Megan Magee

IMG_1792Photo Credit Megan Magee

sound Photo Credit MaryLynn Suchan

PreproPhoto Credit MaryLynn Suchan


RoofPhoto Credit MaryLynn Suchan

AND basically how we all felt after:

mattPhoto Credit Shannon Kendall

The Hobby Hoarder Returns to the Subway

Posted on

On June 5, I headed out to the subway to do my first subway performance ever. I enjoyed it so much–I just had to go back. This time I was joined by my good friend Katie Haller who is a brilliant white, African, British, American Jew that does stand up comedy and improv on a regular basis. Since the next hobby isn’t until this coming Saturday (Stunt Jumping–woo), I thought I’d share this fun video.

 

%d bloggers like this: