Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Episode 28: My First Marathon

Episode 28 on my last day of being 28! What are the odds?!

Highlights since my last blog (basically my instagram /  just follow me on instagram):

Christmas again
New Years
Protests Attend First Broadway Musical

The start of the greatest improv team of ALL time!

March 5th 7AM was the start of my first marathon in Napa Valley, CA. Let's take a look:

*Every 2 miles was a water stop and I drank at each one but only took one gulp at each station until the last 6 miles when I was trying to keep my legs from cramping up.
100:09:33             We wanted to stay with the main group for the first 2 miles to warm up.
200:18:25 (8:52)  Then Chris, Nate, Fish, and I are like, "nevermind"
300:27:00 (8:35)We start easing into our own pace and I find a glove.
400:35:02 (8:01)I personally wanted to stay at 8 minute mile pace until the half and then reevaluate every few miles
500:42:53 (7:51)We hit our first real hill here and we cruise through it. (eat an energy gummy)
600:50:51 (7:58)I notice that we negative split the last mile and I try to ease it back more in preparation for the the next  20 MILES!
700:58:34 (7:42)Fish starts surging so we decide to hang back.
801:06:25 (7:51)Nate unfortunately has to drop back so it's Chris and I
901:14:11 (7:45)We are cruising and I'm feeling good
1001:22:00 (7:49)I'm talking way too much during this first ten miles trying to find the owner of this Saucony glove. Spoiler alert: we never do (eat 2 energy gummies)
1101:30:08 (8:08)Cruise control.
1201:38:09 (8:00)Cruise control.
1301:46:02 (7:53)I get a Palatine Illinois Cheer (eat energy gummy)
1401:54:32 (8:29)Chris has to stop and tie his shoes.  When stopping I could tell how gooey my legs already felt which was a good warning sign for miles to come.
1502:02:25 (7:53)Start noticing a little chaffing in my armpits
1602:10:40 (8:15)Cruise control. (eat energy gummy)
1702:20:29 (9:48)The vasoline that saved lives. Chaffing Problems resolved for rest of the race.
1802:28:24 (7:55) I get a "Go Pirates" Cheer. (Palatine Pirates)
1902:36:58 (8:34)Starting to feel a little cramping in the right calf
2002:46:02 (9:03)We are hit with the biggest hill of the course, hail, and a drastic temperature  drop. I have to stop because of cramping in my right calf.  Man on bike tells me, "Hey don't give up now" and that PISSED me off. It felt like a backhanded cheer and I wasn't having it. (eat 2 energy gummies)
2102:54:50 (8:48)We catch Fish (eat 2 energy gummies and an energy bar)
2303:17:23 (22:33)I miss the 22 mile marker and start cramping up really bad causing me to stop so Chris starts pulling away. (I cover my legs in icy hot in hopes that'll do something to help and I start accepting fruits at water stations)
2403:28:17 (10:53)My right calf and quad are cramping up so I can't make it more than a mile without cramping
2503:38:25 (9:58)I'm pissed that my breathing is perfectly fine but my legs just won't stay together
263:49:00 (10:43)At the 26 mile marker I cramp up in both calves and I have to stop and stretch out.

FINISH 26.2: 3:51:36

I am extremely happy that I finished my first marathon and I hope that I learn from my mistakes. I assume my main problem was that I didn't take time to drink more water during water stations and eat much earlier during the race.  It also didn't help how much I trained for it either.  I could give you a bunch of excuses but I just didn't get in the miles that I needed to.

The feeling of running a race is something I didn't know I missed and running past all the volunteers and random people cheering was amazing.  Getting that constant, "you can do it!" or "You're looking strong" really pumps you up to give you that extra bit of energy that you could use.

On another happy note:  Lili Gu played odds bet with me on wearing my medal for a month.  I said "1" so we both win!  EVERYONE will know that we're participants!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Episode 27: Love is in the air. Not my air... everyone else's air.

"I came home tonight and got into the elevator to go to my apartment. An hour later, I got out of the elevator and Brinkley and I moved out. Suddenly everything had become clear. It's a long story. Full of the personal details we avoid so carefully... Let me just say, there was a man sitting in the elevator with me who knew exactly what he wanted and I found myself wishing I were as lucky as he."

No, I did not decide to start watching my favorite romcom You've Got Mail at 1AM... okay maybe! That quote just spoke to me though!
It's been 4 months since my last blog post and there have been many events that have lead me to reflect in general.  

In late September I had my 10 year high school reunion.  I was reluctant to make the trek back but was convinced by old friends to make the trip to good ole Palatine, Illinois.  While I was home I decided to go through old yearbooks, reading old passages, comparing where people were now.  Reading passages made me think of past friendships and relationships and how crazy most of those connections are just distant memories now.  If you asked 18 year old Don, "Where would you be in 10 years?" and receive an honest answer he would have said, "I would be teaching math at my old high school coaching cross country married with maybe the second kid on the way"  and obviously that's not where I'm at today.

Please do not assume that I am regretting my choices because I'm far from that.  Sure, everything above sounds nice and comfortable but the choices I've made have lead me to meet so many amazing people. It's astounding to think about "what if" scenarios in each of our lives.  How one choice could lead you in such a different path comparatively to the others.

Looking at all my old classmates now we all left high school in a relatively common place but now it is clear how many different paths have been taken since then where no one path is the "correct one".  What is important is that we continue to make these choices to create our own lives and to realize that people might have different outcomes but it makes it no lesser, just different.  Yeah, some deep shit.

I look forward to our next reunion.

In my blog post "Episode 22: The Wedding Blog" (click here to see old post) I spoke about all the weddings I've been to and I think now is a good time to review the weddings since then.

Jenna and Ryan Jarvis
Waterworks (When I got emotional): Ceremony, Ryan watching Jenna walk down the isle
Relationship: I met Ryan through Tuesday Night Pick-up!
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Tie: Purple/Silver bow tie
Say what?! moment: GOT THE GAURD! Take that tall white men...

Jeni and Johnny Lam
Waterworks (When I got emotional): Ceremony, Declaration of Intent
Relationship: Random Pick-up games throughout LA.  I first really got to know them during One Love Beach Tournament in San Diego.
Location: Alhambra, CA
Tie: Skinny Black Tie
Say what?! moment: I had the honor to be their Minister!/I busted a move right through my pants... butt seam to be exact

Eileen and Alex Carey
Waterworks (When I got emotional): Ceremony, Vows
Relationship: I met Alex at Mira Costa High School during Thanksgiving pickup in 2010.  I remember Chuck Aramaki talking up Alex on the sideline and me on the sideline thinking, "Pshh... yea, whatever."
Location: Kapolei, HI
Tie: Purple/silver bowtie
Say what?! moment: Being Alex's best man!  I will argue that being the best man is the pinnacle of any "wedding career" that one might have besides winning the "championship".  I'm like the Derrick Rose equivalent to weddings.
Honorable mentions 

Emily and Doug Daube
Relationship: Old ultimate teammates at Illinois State University
Reason I Could Not Attend: Too much money to make it out there.

All these weddings were amazing but at the same time I can't help but think about my current status and my own feelings about dating... and it sucks.  There haven't been many, but there definitely have been, girls where I've met and I've had an assuring gut feeling that I was truely excited about them and that doesn't mean the feelings were mutual.

Honestly, most of the time when I'm "interested" in a girl we have some things in common and she's cute so I say I'll give it a try.  Call me crazy but the romantic in me needs there to be more than just that.  I have a friend from college who always told me that I put "pussy on a pedestal", and she was and still is right. Everything I'm saying could totally be unfair creating this impossible depiction of love from all the personal love stories I've heard from friends; so I'm a walking romcom hoping to happen.

I challenge any married couple or anyone that believes that they are in "love" to tell me when did you know?  How did you feel when you first met?  Comment on this post, personal message me, direct message me or whatever you want to call it.

BUT once again to these wonderful couples, thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your special day in some way.  It's an honor and privilege to just be apart of your lives.  I have the best friends in the world and if you don't think so I will fight you. It's 3:30AM I'm tired, goodnight (/I woke up at noon to edit this).

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Episode 26: My Perfect Improv Team

That D!
Since the year started I've been really focusing on improv.  I started my internship at the Upright Citizens Brigade in February this year and finished on July 21st which is really fast according to EVERYONE but I really don't care.  Sure, I could have strung it out to 15 months as some people do but that's not my style.  You could say I "yes, anded" whenever someone asked me to cover for them...

I enjoyed every moment of it and I got to know a lot of different people very quickly. It's not like I'm going anywhere either because I hangout at the theater so often anyway.  Now I'll have time to focus my efforts on other projects while still having a bunch of credits to use for classes.

One of those efforts is the new team I'm on, That D.  We are now performing every LAST Tuesday of the month in Westwood at The Improv Space from 9PM - 10PM.  If you need updates of when our upcoming performances are make sure to check my website

Now on to the title of my blog, "My Perfect Improv Team".  That D comprises mostly of classmates from my UCB 401 class with Todd Fasen who performs with Convoy Thursday nights (highly recommended show).  We have been consistently practicing since March which is good but I feel like we haven't gotten past the point of being "just a bunch of people who perform improv together".  My perfect team wouldn't consist of the best improvisers but a group of friends who just want to get better together and are willing to hangout.  That's the most I can hope for in a team and I think this team will eventually get there.

For the past week I've been really focused on just thinking about the September Harold team auditions, at the UCB, which is kind of ridiculous.  For one, I'm not even eligible to audition yet!  It is all up to my current teacher the awesomely great fantastic magnificent majestic Will Hines (I hope somehow he's reading this).  Do I expect to make a team? No. But I want the experience of the audition and if I make a team WELL THAT WOULD BE AWESOME TOO.  

Today I also just finished Will Hines' "How to be the Greatest Improviser on Earth" and I can tell you he teaches the same way in class and if you're taking an improv classes I highly recommend it.  He talks a lot about not "fixing" the problem in scenes, embracing silence, and letting scenes come to you but what I liked most is how to not put so much weight on your performance and to look at the positives.  You get to read about the insecurities of a lot of REALLY funny people and it's refreshing to hear that everyone has their off nights too.

The book is extremely easy to read, he even has a list of pet peeves.  In a scene during my most recent class with him he had me change my characters name from Jenkin's to something that wasn't a "J" name.  Sure it wasn't an improper move but in his book he clearly states that "J" names are the most common improv names and now I know why he had me change my name.  But anyway, after reading the book it's made me realize to make sure to continue to have a life outside of improv so naturally immediately after finishing I signed up for the 2017 Napa Valley Marathon. Yeah, I'm an idiot.

Today I also went to watch Don't Think Twice, a film directed by Mike Birbiglia.  Here's the synopsis:
Turmoil strikes a New York improv troupe (Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia) when one member leaves to star in a television show.
 If I was on a successful improv team I'm sure that's how it would probably go down too.  I can honestly admit I cried during the film and it was early on. SEMI-SPOILER ALERT:  Chris Gethard's character is worried that his father, who was involved with an accident, will die thinking that he is a failure since he doesn't have a "successful" career.  3 years ago my dad underwent heart surgery and it was a scary time for my family. I could easily put my feet in that characters shoes and it's somewhere I hope I don't find myself in the near future again.  I respect both my parents and they support a lot of what I do which is why this part of the film had such an affect on me because I want my parents to know that they're making the right choice by supporting what I do.

Overall I enjoyed the film and if you do improv you'll probably catch stuff the normal eye wouldn't.  What I took away from the film is that you should continue to do what you love and what makes you happy. "Chill the fuck out." [Stated advice from Chris Gethard (Hines, 171)]

Hines, Will. How to be the Greatest Improviser on Earth. Upright Citizens Brigade, 2016. Print.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Episode 25: The Push

February I started my internship at the Upright Citizens Brigade and I've been taking full advantage of the opportunity.  The best "perk" is receiving classes for my work but what I've been enjoying the most is being part of the community.  Since taking classes, in 2011, this is the first time I've really felt a part of it.

From working at the theater, taking two classes, and being part of two practice groups where one team consistently performs is a lot of time out of my week where I'm not being paid. So I've decided to start resubmitting myself to agencies in search for a theatrical and/or commercial agent.  I've done a lot of prep this weekend which includes how I sort of revamped my website a bit in preparation as well:

I technically have a commercial agent but I'm not signed to them and she hasn't gotten me an audition in YEARS!  I'm tired of contacting her with the response, "sorry nothing is coming up"  because there are auditions out there for me JUST LOOK AT ME HOLD THAT SUN UMBRELLA I'M FREAKING ADORABLE.

I've also made a video for an application for BuzzFeed that is ready to be submitted early next week.

I have a few other projects to release and film soon and needed this to just get my thoughts out and give myself a breather.

Also I just want to state how in love I am with the PNG format... Don't judge me.

P.S. Hopefully I have a lot of good news coming up soon.  Take this as the calm before the storm BECAUSE HERE I COME!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Episode 24: The Focus Awakens

I sit here at O'hare airport reminiscent of my past year.  Comparing my plans from last New Year to  my current reality.  It can simply be put as an “out of luck” kind of year but I do not feel so inclined for simplicity, so you're getting the long version.

This year I pushed hard into acting, submitting for roles daily hoping that something would stick; while I drove for LYFT.  I must have used the wrong adhesive because I got cast for zero productions and can count my auditions with my fingers. 

In May I was "forced" to quit LYFT. My insurance threatened to drop me but it wasn't a big deal.  It was always my plan to eventually get out of LYFT.  I figured if I continued to drive with them I would just have been in the same situation as I would have been before but without a car.  I decided that it was time to start looking for a full-time job, hopefully entertainment based.  I was then graciously given the opportunity by friends to work with a company that created language applications for children, video editing as a private contractor.  It was a lucky break but it only lasted for a month before they decided to not ask for me back.

Light side Is that I got to go on a family vacation:

After my brother's wedding I continued to search for new opportunities and returned to the Upright Citizens Brigade to take classes in October.  I got lost in my “studies” and figured I would apply for the work study program for free classes and networking opportunities.  I then opened up my job search to internships and BuzzFeed happened to be one of them.

BuzzFeed video application:

I contacted as many people as possible that would make sure that my application was given a second thought at BuzzFeed.  I had multiple people look at my application video, including my improv teacher.  She loved the video and unsuspectedly forwarded it to a friend at BuzzFeed.  I fortunately heard back and interviewed with them about 3 weeks ago.  

December 30th hit and I found out that BuzzFeed chose to go with someone else.  It was quite a blow.  But nothing like a Rocky quote to pump you up...

My biggest worry is to be in the situation before my fishing boat job in an endless loop of working, eating and sleeping.  My plan?  Get up.

Now to all my friends and family.  I will always remember that " man is a failure who has friends."  I love you all and let's have a great year!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Episode 23: Finding My Game UCB

I recently just got back into the improv scene, starting my 3rd 401 improv class with the Upright Citizens Brigade.  I believe I have a different outlook then I previously had with past classes.  I've always looked into getting better and learning but with the thought of "passing" or "success" lingering in the back of my mind stunted my growth.  I still care whether or not I "pass" but it's just less of a concern to me but I really used to depend on that mindset.

This reminds me of high school.  We take classes to get good grades and with those good grades we'll hopefully get into a good college instead of going to class to actually learn something.  Now I'm not saying that EVERY class in high school was a waste of time but everyone has had that class where it's just a means to an end.  

Last night after our "mid-term" class show I had a long conversation with classmates on the topic of "success" and astrological signs but as excited as I was to learn more about astrologic signs I'll be focusing on the former.  "Some of us have spent thousands of dollars on taking classes at UCB and have "nothing" to show for it", was said by a classmate of mine.  She is somewhat right but that all depends on your perspective.  I believe I go to class primarily to learn and to collaborate with other people that have the same interests as I.  Getting onto a house team would be a bonus but it's not my main concern.  There is much that I've gained; my stage confidence from my 101 to now has taken leaps, my understanding of whether or not improvisers are playing the game in the scene or just trying to get a quick laugh is transparent to me, and my questions in class are more in depth into the material.  But along with that there are a ton of aspects I know I need work on; I
want higher energy when I'm on stage, I need work justifying, and I need to play more characters on stage.

We have to stop viewing these experiences as "successes" or "failures" but instead as "learning experience". So let's go.

NEXT SHOW: Graduation Show
When: November 22nd 4:30PM
Where: UCB Franklin

Improv 101 UCB

Improv 201 UCB
Improv 401 w/ Jessica Eason

Monday, October 5, 2015

Episode 22: The Wedding Blog

A week ago I was a groomsman for my brothers wedding so I think this is a better time then any to have my wedding blog!

WEDDINGS, I LOVE WEDDINGS! I am always extremely honored when I'm invited.  To me they're saying, "we want you to be part of our special day, the day we announce that we are taking on the world, together."  Romantic,  I know.

In the movie 27 Dresses Katherine Heigl's character mentions that her favorite part of a wedding is watching the groom watch the bride walk down the isle and I couldn't agree more.  When watching the groom you really see how they're on a totally different world from the rest of the room.  All attention is literally on the bride at this moment which leaves the groom all alone thinking this is it, this is the moment they've been waiting for and it's finally here.  They're in a place where I cannot fathom but can only imagine.  If you can guess, this is the part of the wedding I sort of lose it.

There are just so many moment's that put you in awe;  The bride walking down the isle, their vows, when they're pronounced husband and wife, their first dance, speeches, and the list goes on.  I've probably teared up during most of those event's, but whose counting?

All of this builds up for the dance floor which really makes weddings flippin' awesome.  You're celebrating the "most special" day of your friends while surrounded by other friends ending the night in a heated dancing mess.  I LOVE HOT MESSES!  When I'm on the wedding dance floor you're just surrounded by people you love.

Congrats to all my friends who have gotten married throughout the years!!!

Craig and Maureen Maulden
Waterworks: Ceremony, Craig watching Maureen walk out.
Relationship: Met Craig at Illinois State University Freshman preview and we lived on the same floor Freshman year of college. Maureen and Craig met during math classes and they studied at our apartment occasionally Junior year.
Location: Ottawa, Illinois
Tie: Skinny Black Tie
Say what?! moment:  Random kids pulled me aside to talk to them to help them with problems they were having at the wedding.

Steve and Lisa Huizenga
Waterworks: Reception, their first dance.
Relationship: I played ultimate frisbee with Steve and we were roommates senior year of College.  I've only known Steve while he was dating Lisa.
Location: Steger, Illinois/ Munster, Indiana
Tie: Gold Plaid Self-Tie Bow Tie
Say what?! moment: Someone stole Eric Reynolds

Ryan and Mariana

Waterworks: Ceremony, reading of the vows.
Relationship: Ultimate frisbee teammates.
Location: Rockford, Illinois
Tie: Star Wars Self Bow-Tie
Say what?! moment: awesome Mariachi Band

Kyle and Mallory
Waterworks: Ceremony, Kyle watching Mallory walk out.
Relationship: Lived on the same floor freshman year, math study buddies, got me hooked on How I Met Your Mother, and the man he got me hooked on boardgames.
Location: Lake Forrest, Illinois
Tie: Black Math Equation Bowtie
Say what?! moment: Fresh off the boat wedding

Elaine and Mark
Waterworks: Ceremony,  my Uncle handing walking down Elaine to the alter.
Relationship: Elaine is my cousin.
Location: Maui, Hawaii
Tie: Pink and Black plaid skinny tie
Say what?! moment:  It was in flippin' Hawaii

Kristen and Doug
Waterworks: Reception: first dance.
Relationship:  College friends, started off of friends of friends.
Location: Wheaton, Illinois
Tie: Declaration of Independence print self bow-tie
Say what?! moment: Bagpipes for days.

Tom and Erin
Waterworks: Ceremony, watching Tom tear up as he watched Erin walk down the isle.
Relationship: Ultimate frisbee teammate.  Long late night talks about Christmas and relationships.
Location: Kenosha, Wisconsin
Tie: Skinny White Tie
Say what?! moment: "Teaching" parents how to whip and nae nae.

Honorable mentions
Karen and Brian
Relationship: Was good friends with Karen in High School and went to school with Brian since grade school.
Reason I Could Not Attend: Funding was tight and I didn't have the money to fly out.

Trevor and Michelle 
Relationship: College ultimate frisbee teammates.
Reason I Could Not Attend: Worked on a damn fishing boat!

James and Becca
Waterworks: Ceremony,  reading of the vows.
Relationship: Brothers
Location: Chicago, IL
Tie: Skinny Black Tie w/Tie Clip (Groomsman)
Say what?! moment:  Cousin's MCing the wedding and getting my cousin's kids to dance for the entire night. DAYUMN those late night sliders were awesome!