Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why Can't I Have An Exciting Life?

For a long time I've realized that most people think their life is boring.

I'll admit I feel that way a lot.

On the surface my life seems very exciting. I travel all over the United States doing comedy. I'm on performing on stage and get paid to do it! People actually PAY to listen! You know those morning radio shows that you listen to? I work on those to.

I own a comedy club, that's got to be glamorous. Right? People come to my club to have a good time and pay me for the privilege. There is lots of laughing, food and a drink or two whenever I want. That sound fun, doesn't it?

Then there are the other 3 businesses.

A video store, I own 8,000 videos and can watch them whenever I want. How many do you have? Then there's the Internet service. You think your service is fast, you've got nothing on me. I have more T1 lines than I can count into my house. When I click a button, I wait for no web page. And don't forget the computer store. What are you using to read this blog with. Trust me, I probably have something newer or faster and if I don't, it's only because I don't feel like taking the time to get one out of the back room.

And don't forget that people think when you own a business you make a lot of money and you can work whenever you want.

Well, it all sounds good but the truth is something else.

Remember that performing on stage thing I was talking about? It sounds glamorous doesn't it? Up on stage, people laughing at your jokes and getting the star treatment. Well that's all true but ... that's only for about an hour a day. You have to get there to and that part isn't much fun. In the past 10 years I have put 420,000 miles on my car. That's comes out to about 7,000 hours or 292 days. I have spent 10 months out of the last 10 years in my life in my car just to get my shows. Now those are 292 24 hour days and since I can't drive while I'm sleeping (although I can tell you it's happened by accident a few times) I really should figure the number of days using the amount of time I'm awake, 16 hours. That would make it 438 days or 1 year and 2 1/2 months, that makes it sound even worse. And I don't even want to tell you how difficult it is to get booked to work. Besides, I'm sure I'll be blogging about that in the future.

Owning a club sounds pretty glamorous, doesn't it? In reality there is a lot of hard work that goes into giving our customers a fun experience. And don't forget the other 3 businesses. There is so much to do in them, I can't even begin to go into it. Let's just take the Internet service. It's a 24/7 business. Any time I want to work on any of my equipment I have to do it at 3:00am because that is when the least number of people will be inconvenienced. If something breaks during the day it is catastrophic. You cannot believe how intolerant people are of things that are beyond our control. The phone rings off the hook with pissed off people until whatever it is gets fixed. It is very stressful.

So yes, you may hear me complaining about my situation. The truth is that whenever I think I have it bad I think about the millions of people that would step into my shoes in a heartbeat. My life is tons better than theirs.

So I'm just saying, look at the positives and be happy. There's always someone out there worse off than you are.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Longest Marathon Ever

And I'm not kidding ...

On Sunday January 15, 2006 I ran the PF Chang Rock N' Roll Arizona marathon. This was my 5th marathon and it took me 5 hours and 40 minutes.

So I'll take you through the marathon experience.

It started 16 weeks ago when I ran my first training run. The way it works is you get a training program that has all the runs scheduled. You know what days and how far you will run every day from the day you start until the marathon. It's actually very easy and nearly guarantees your success. Even for someone like me who is far from athletic.

It starts out easy enough with a 3 mile run and you run shorter distances throughout the week. Every Sunday there is a long run scheduled. Week number 1 is a 6 miler, but by week 11 weeks you are up to a 20 mile run.

So I got through my runs just fine and I came down to Phoenix a couple of days early to relax and hydrate as that is important. If I stay home I know I'll never be able to stop, I've always got something to do when I'm home. I stayed in Phoenix with my friend Craig who is the most orderly and organized person I've ever met. He lives in a house that reminds me of a model home. Everything is perfectly in place; nothing is ever out of order. Good for him, I like clean to but even I have trouble living that way for an extended period of time.

The great thing is once I told him I was coming down for the run, he went online and researched the entire Phoenix marathon and had a complete itinerary set up for me by the time I got there. He even signed up to do race support at a water station because he figured it would be a good use of his time since he was taking me down to the starting line anyway.

I literally had nothing to worry about the entire weekend. That would prove to be my downfall.

Craig picked me up at the airport and after taking me out on a little business with him (see the previous blog entry) we had a nice relaxing evening. Friday was good to. All I had to do was get downtown to the runners expo and pick up my race packet. It includes my race bib with my number, my timing chip, my race t-shirt and a goody bag. The goody bag has a bunch of give away stuff. Most of it is not worth anything.

I signed up for a pace group, something I’ve been wanting to do since I started running marathons. It is a group of people that run together with a goal to finish in a specific time. It is led by people that have run many marathons and know how long it will take them to finish. I signed up for the 5:00 (that's 5 hours) group as I had run my other 4 marathons between 5:10 and 5:20. My thinking was I'll just tag along with these guys and not worry about it, another big mistake.

So everything went well Saturday, I went out on my final short run and relaxed the rest of the day. I figured I had everything under control and nothing to worry about.

I had to be up by 5:00am to get ready and get to the starting line by 6:30am. We made it easily as Craig had mapped out and driven the route in advance. He knew exactly how long it was going to take. Now the marathon had 33,000 participants so it was quite a site. All those people milling around and because it's the Rock N' Roll marathon, they had a band playing some great music while we were waiting for the start.

My first sign of trouble was when I went to try to find my pace group. The leader of each pace group carries a sign with the time on it. They are very easy to see as they carry a pole with the time on top that sticks up way about the crowd. I had no trouble finding every one but mine. I saw every one from the 3:00 (that's 3 hours, are you kidding me!) to 4:30, but no 5:00. I tried to find a race official that could direct me to the right place but no luck. Since so many people are in the race at the same time they line you up in groups with the fastest in the front and the slowest at the back. I took my place with the other 5 hour people figuring I may find the pace group there, I never did.

I ran the first 5 miles of the race thinking I was a little ahead of them. So I slowed up a little thinking they would catch up. That was my biggest mistake. I ended up slowing my pace up, never seeing them. I was not emotionally prepared because I thought I would be just following a bunch of people. That is why I ended up running a 5:40. But the truth is, that's OK with me. I was just glad to finish. I ran every step of the way and heard some great music. They have a different band at every mile. And it's hard to describe but you really feel like you are a part of something. Because it doesn't matter whether you are running a 3 or a 5 hour marathon it is the same for everyone. You have to train and the marathon itself is hard.. When you hit the finish line you really feel like you've accomplished something and you know you did it all by yourself.

Now that is something to be proud of. I hope you can have moments like this in your life.

I can't wait for my next one.

Friday, January 13, 2006

I Should Have Taken the Bus

That's right, I said a bus. I should have driven to Phoenix, it would have been a lot less hassle and almost as fast.

You see I don't fly very much and for good reason. With all the crap I'm responsible for I have to travel with quite a bit of stuff. Plus with my need to be connected to the Internet to conduct business I spend very little time in the condo hanging out and I don't get to sleep in. There will be more about condo life in future postings.

We will now take you back to your regularly scheduled whining which is already in progress ...

I'm in Phoenix right now resting the day before the Rock N' Roll Marathon. Yes I'm running it but that's not the point. The point is I could have made it here driving in about the same amount of time it took me to fly.

Let me explain.

I flew out of Denver International Airport (DIA) which is 2 1/2 hours away from my home in Florence. Now Denver is only 2 hours away but in their infinite wisdom the people in the know decided to put DIA nearly 24 miles (that's what MapQuest says) northwest of downtown. I've heard you can actually see people in Kansas waiving at the planes taking off from the control tower.

My plane took off at 11:20AM but because of all the new security in affect I had to be there by 10:00 to make sure I passed through security, etc in time to board my flight.

Getting to the airport is yet another issue. Fortunately I have a place to stay in Denver so I drove up the night before. But because I don't want to spend $50 to park my car while I'm gone for just 4 days I have to either get a ride into the airport or take the RTD airport bus. Well a ride is out of the question. "Mr. Stress" stays up until way into the night there is no way I'm going to get him out of bed at 7:30 to pick me up and drive me to the airport through rush hour traffic. There's also no way "The Bulldog" can do it either. During the day she is busy taking care of their grandchild.

So that left me with a 20 minute drive to Westminster so one of the club staff could take me over to the Park N' Ride to catch the bus to DIA. So I left at 8:00 got dropped off in time to catch the 9:15 bus to DIA (which cost $10) and made it to DIA by 10:00AM.

So just to review, if I would have stayed at home and left in my car spending the same amount of time I would have been able to drive 4 hours and I would have spent $40 on gas. That puts me in Sante Fe New Mexico, just 1 hour from the Albuquerque airport.

So now that I'm at the airport I have to find baggage check in. Usually not too hard except the airline my ticket was purchased for (America West) was bought out by or bought out US Air. Since I don't care to keep track of these thing I’m pretty sure I was the only one in the airport wandering around wondering why there were no ticket counters for America West.

So after I checked my bags I made through security by talking my shoes off. Because I forgot to take my laptop out of the case I got to watch them swab my computer case out with some cloth to detect bomb making material. Then it was off to the underground shuttle to my concourse and made it to my gate (which is ALWAYS the at the end of the concourse) just in time to walk on the plane as it was boarding. The flight was smooth and I actually touched down in time at 1:25 and was out of the plane in the terminal by 1:30.

That means I have now been traveling to Phoenix for 7 1/2 hours. If I were driving I would have almost been to Gallup New Mexico which is very close to the Arizona state line. I wouldn't have spent any more for gas yet. After all, I drive a Honda!

So my friend Craig picks me up at the airport at around 2:00. I'm staying with him and he lives about 30 minutes away in Chandler so I know at this point you're thinking "that means you'll be there by 2:30 which means you spent 8 1/2 hours getting to Phoenix". Well reader that may be true except Craig figured since he was out anyway he would take me out on some business he had to do. This involved driving all over Phoenix and I of course had to buy him dinner because I was starving as I had no time eat today. I had a cookie for breakfast and 6 miniature pretzels for lunch on the plane. We ended up getting to his house at 6:00PM.

So just to put it all in perspective ...

Flying cost me $80 for the one-way ticket and $25 for Craig's dinner (he's a cheap date) for a total of $105. I took me 11 hours to get to his house. If I would have drove, It would have taking me 12 hours to drive and cost me $60 in gas plus about $15 for food for a total of $75.

Flying is not as cheap or as fast as it seems.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

What About Me?

Since you've read the previous blog about my "Cast of Characters" so it's only fair I say a little something about myself.

At the time of this writing I'm 47 years old. I grew up in a town of 550 people in down state Illinois. I am the father of three great children; "The Ponderer", "Miss Sensitivity", and "The Keeper". If you want to learn a little more about them read the entry before this one.

I'm divorced from their mom and have been for about 10 years now. I remain single and date very little as I seem to make really poor choices in women. Actually it's kind of scary.

I try to be as active in my kids life as possible (much to their disappointment at times) and enjoy spending any time I have with them.

I'm a touring comedian and work somewhere between 12-20 weeks a year. Something I hope to increase. I also am half owner of a comedy club in Denver called Wits End. I've been involved with the club for around a year and half now. It's been an interesting experience so far.

I also own a video store, computer store, and Internet service. I've been in those businesses since 1987. They aren't much fun any more but they pay the bills and keep a roof over my head.

So there you have it, me in a nutshell. If you follow this blog, maybe you'll learn a little more.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Cast of Characters

So since this blog is going to be about my life I thought it would be a good idea to introduce you the "Cast of Characters" that are the people in my life. Since this is all public, I'm just going to use nicknames for everyone.

So for your "edification", here they are:

"The Ponderer" My son and my oldest child.
At the time of this writing he is 18 years old. He's a smart kid that is in college, his goal is to get a degree in music. He seems to spend the majority of his time watching TV and playing video games. I think he's a pretty typical 18 year old.

"Miss Sensitivity" My oldest daughter and my middle child.
At the time of this writing she is 17 years old and is a Junior in high school. Even though she would let you know it, she is usually worried about how other people feel and it is easy to hurt her feelings. She is a very smart young lady.

"The Keeper" My youngest daughter and youngest child.
At the time of this writing she is 15 years old and a Sophomore in high school. While my other daughter plays sports as well I think this one is the athlete in the family. She is on the basketball team and in just her 2nd year of playing soccer is the Varsity goal keeper. Of the 3 she is the most adventurous and has the potential to get into the most trouble.

"Mr. Stress" This is one of the 2 partners I have in the Comedy Club.
He's also one of the best friends I've ever had. Always the pessimist there is no situation he can't find the negative in. Even so I can't help but love him and you couldn't ask for a more faithful friend. I'm lucky to know him, much less be in business with him.

"The Bulldog" My other partner in the club and the wife of Mr. Stress.
A very easygoing person it takes a lot to get her upset. But when we need someone to make a point she has no problem doing that for us. God help anyone that gets on here bad side. Just like her husband I love her to and could ask for a better or more faithful friend.

Pops My father who at the time of this writing is just about 91 years old.
A Hungarian immigrant he came her at the end of World War II to establish a new life for himself and his brothers and sisters. Unfortunately once he got here and got established, no one wanted to come over here from Hungary. So he ended up staying here anyway and marrying my mom. He was a Doctor for 50 years and retired in his mid 70s He spends his time working in the yard, making my mom crazy and watching the weather channel to see what kind of weather I'm driving through on my way to an appearance. Apparently he needs to worry.

Mom Real original isn't it?
My mom has always been there for me and what else can I say? She's my mom!

So there you have it. I'll probably have to add a few more over time but this will be a good start.

Coming up ...

What else do I do?