Entry 1

Editor’s Note: This entry was written Monday, May 24.

I have never crossed every item off a to-do list. I’d like to think it’s because I make ambitious lists. But it’s not. I’m unfocused. With things like “Figure out one-man show” and “Fix Web site” on my list, I’m kind of set up for incompletion. Sometimes I cross out something and put “1/2” next to it—because I almost did it. Other times I remember something I completed earlier, so I write it down, just to be able to cross it off.

This week has started early for me. My plane landed at JFK at 6:05 this morning. I had a window seat: 33A. The window shade was stuck open, which I discovered at sunrise because half of my face was really hot. I tried to close it. It didn’t budge. I tried harder; my hand slipped, and I cut the cuticle of my thumb on the window frame. That made me mad. So I tried harder still. This time I gave it so much effort that my head started to shake a little from the exertion and I could feel it in my stomach muscles. It still didn’t close. “Son of a bitch.” Those were the first words I uttered to start this week. The old lady sitting in front of me turned around and glared at me. I guess I shook her seat in my struggle against the light. “Sorry.” That was the fifth word of my week so far. I sat back and let the sun beat on my face. Man, I hate being defeated by inanimate objects.

I live in New York. I was in Los Angeles for the weekend to audition for an independent film. I don’t think I got the part. They put me on tape Saturday with a couple of actors. Sunday was my big scene with Juliette Lewis—an appointment I mentioned way too many times last week. I worked it into conversations that had nothing to do with Juliette Lewis or acting. (Friend: “What are you getting for lunch?” Me: “I don’t know. I’m not that hungry right now because I have to learn some lines.” Friend: “For what?” Me: “Oh nothing.” Friend: “Do you have an audition?” Me: “Actually, yeah. It’s with Juliette Lewis.”) It’s funny how sometimes when you’re being a douche bag, you’re aware of it while you’re doing it. And still, you can’t help it. I think I was just nervous about the audition and talking about it a lot seemed to diffuse that. You see, I’m mostly a comedian. And lately, a writer. Acting is a newer area for me. That made the audition thing kind of a big deal. I built it up to be this big shot or something. The beauty of it all is that Juliette Lewis didn’t make it back to L.A. in time. So, no scene. No audition. No story.

Probably the most intense moment of the trip was not auditioning for the role, but returning my rental car. I hit a pillar in a parking garage on Sunset, leaving a white scratch and dent on the side of the once-pristine maroon Dodge Stratus I rented. My big acting moment was acting like “I didn’t do it” when it came time return the car.

Traveling, for me, is an excuse to eat awful food. On the way to the airport, I stopped to put gas in my rental car, and I got these things called Zingers. They are like Twinkies but they have a strip of thick yellow icing on top. Nasty. I ate both. Somebody told me once that Twinkies are not cooked. They just come into being once the ingredients are combined. I don’t know if that’s true, but I didn’t see any burn marks on my Zingers. Before leaving the gas station, I took out my electric toothbrush and tried to clean the scratch off my car. It worked a little bit. From a distance it also probably looked like I have unorthodox vehicular cleaning tendencies. Nobody noticed. I returned the car. They didn’t notice the trauma. Good.

I divided my time on the plane between sleeping, writing, and thinking. We’re having a pitch meeting today at work. I have to have some ideas for sketches by noon. I’m performing tonight at 11 and showing a short film I made in October. So, I need to figure out what I’m going to say on stage. And bouncing around the back of my head is my one-man show. The show opens on Saturday, and I haven’t written it yet. Sh–. I have a structure, but it’s far from anything right now. I still have to write and record the music for it, too.

I finally got home at 7:16. I stopped at the deli near my house and bought some cookies and milk for breakfast. I got these soft-baked, chocolate-chip-and-caramel cookies. I live in a six-floor walk-up. Six flights make you more decisive. I forget things less because I don’t want to climb. And everything I think of buying I first picture in my arms going up stairs. It makes me want to buy things like helium balloons because if I had enough of them it could make it really easy to go up.

When I get to the sixth floor, the cookies are my reward. It turns out the caramel doesn’t go that well with the other flavors. Buzz kill. It’s now 7:30. I should get some sleep before heading to work at 11. Instead I play my electric piano. Maybe I’ll figure out some music for my show. I record some stuff into my computer. I add some guitar. As it approaches 9, I find myself sitting with a kiddy snare drum laying down the fifth track of my song. I play it back before I fall asleep. It sounds like somebody falling down stairs with instruments. I’ll figure it out later.

I wake up late for work. When I get there I go right into the pitch meeting. When I get out of the meeting, I find out that I’m late on my Slate diary. I finish typing it up as the rest of the writers meet in the room next to me. I’m supposed to be in there with some “Celebrity Survey” ideas. The writers’ assistant comes to tell me to go to the meeting. I say “Sorry” for the second time today. I’m tired. The Zingers were a bad idea. My cuticle still hurts.