The Overload

I have too many things to do today:

1. I need to write an article for Funny or Die

I applied to write for them full-time, but I did not get it; other people who had more experience got the job. This depressed me, because I felt like if I could not get that job, I could not get other jobs. In general, the dynamic of “getting” things frustrates me; I would prefer to do things, regardless of rewards I am given or not.

This month’s issue of The New York Review of Books had an article on Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People. We live largely in the world described by Carnegie.

[His] engineering of the self constructed of a model of modern individualism composed entirely of serial images, with no sturdy commitments or beliefs, no firm moral standards, no authentic and rooted core of self. It consisted only of a pliable personality eager to please others and to advance socially and economically.

James Watts, the author of the book on Carnegie, quoted first in the article about his book by Ian Frazier, then quoted by me.

I obviously prefer the former to the latter. But, realistically, I get my food, existence, and freedom partly through the power of others who have advanced socially and economically to secure a position that they can transfer to me. So I sometimes find myself in conflict. I always feel that it is the right choice to focus more on an authentic self, to ignore the reward structure, and opt out of pleasing others. But we live so much in a Carnegie world that I often feel social and economic insecurity, and dip the other way.

Funny or Die seems in some ways the essence of How to Win Friends and Influence People in the comedy world. They actually ask the audience whether or not they like each piece; the will to appeal seems clear. But the organization also contains some writers I know to have very strong personal beliefs, on moral, philosophical, and aesthetic levels, and I have seen some good work done through it, especially through The Occasional, its magazine. The editor of The Occasional is heavily involved with the news project.

So my hope was to get into the organization, and, secure in having the job, root myself as much as possible in my ideas of what makes worthwhile comedy, and see how it worked. Now in this more liminal state, I find myself worrying more about whether ideas are approved, whether they will sell, whether I will eventually have a job. It’s not the fault of the organization, but of my inability to reconcile my role with the general role I want in the world.

The idea they approved is one I find inherently interesting, and I hope I can execute it well.

2. I need to transfer money between my two bank accounts, and pay for my health care
I used to have a bank account with Citibank, but they began charging me a lot of money for not having enough money. I then opened a bank account with Charles Schwab, and transferred all my money to it. They do not have branches, but have a good website and you can deposit checks by mail; they also refund all ATM fees.

I had a lot of coins, and have no car, so I opened an account with Capital One, which is just around the block from me. I deposited my coins, and since I had an account with them, I did not have to pay the 15% penalty.

I lost my Charles Schwab ATM card and cancelled it. I can call to get a replacement during business hours, but have not yet done so, because it would be a hassle.

I signed up for ObamaCare when I quit my job, but need to pay the bill online with a credit or debit card.

Capital One does charge me if I go below a minimum, and is the only company with which I have a card. So I need to transfer money from my Schwab account to my Capital One account such that I have enough money to pay the health care and stay above the minimum.

3. I need to rewrite a few sketches
My sketch team, Blizzard of ’96, is having a show on October 12th, and this week we’re rehearsing the nine sketches that will probably be cut down to 7 for the 30-minute show (it might end up being 8). We have five that we’re decided on, and we’ll add two.

I want to write punch-ups for two of these bubble sketches before this week’s rehearsals. Our first one is Tuesday night.

4. I need to write sketch ideas for tomorrow
One of my friends told me about “National Sketch Writing Month,” in which people try to write 30 sketches in a month. At the time, I had just written 19 in a day (having already written the ideas), so I decided I could commit to writing 30 sketches in the last 30 hours of the month (with ideas pre-loaded).

But between Monday improv class, Tuesday rehearsal, sleep, and eating, I will be squeezed to around 10 hours. So I need to make sure I have 30 ideas I can write in 20 minutes each.

5. I need to memorize my lines for Tuesday’s rehearsal
I can’t do this much tomorrow, because I will be writing the 30 sketches.
There are plenty of other things I want to do.
I have a tough comedic prose piece I want to work on; I have some serious prose pieces I’ve wanted to workshop forever; I have non-fiction I want to write; I’m going to start teaching sketch class, and want to plan out syllabi; I want to come up with something to promote the upcoming show; I have a podcast I want to launch.

I have family and friends to keep up correspondence with.

I want to go exercise; I need to clean my room; I need to do my laundry; I need to do the dishes.

I need to buy equipment for my podcast; my TV is broken; I have computer speakers that I either need to return, or buy a matching unit for; my cable box is busted, and I need to return it to Time Warner while my landlord, who owns the account, is still in town.

I need to buy new shoes (my current pair is nearly two years old) and buy rugs (for my floor). My parents have offered to help me pay for both, if I can find the time.

If I have time, I’ll cook food so I don’t have to pay for it.

I need to apply for more jobs, get resumes together.
And yet I’m writing this. I decided it would be good for me to write every day about something that happened that day. I decided that of all things to make time for, this would be a good one. It is something nobody will ever read. This is called a diary, a journal, or a blog. Taking the outside view of this activity, it instantly seems obnoxious. But I don’t think I can tolerate my existence from that outside view. This is what I want to do.


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