Let’s Talk About Drinking

No, we’re not talking about water. Though if you are drinking a lot, you really should stay hydrated.

Old Style Friends

Question: How do Red Sox fans and Yankee fans be friends?

Answer: They don’t. But sharing beer helps. 

I graduated college almost four years ago. Translation: I don’t drink as much as I used to. Despite this, I challenged myself to give up drinking for the entire month of January. I was this close to finishing the month off, but a party came up on the 26th. I caved. Between the challenge and some trial and error over the past few years, I’ve learned two big things when it comes to alcohol:

 1) We make up excuses for why we need to drink. Let’s play a game. Drink if you’ve ever said the following: “I had a bad day at work. I need a drink.” Or, “I had a really bad day at work. Boy, do I need a drink.” Or, “I’m so stressed out over this thing that’s coming up. I absolutely need a drink.” To one extent or another, I’ve said all of these phrases. And I honestly believed I needed a drink. What I learned during my no-drink-January was that these were merely excuses. There were many days after work this month where I was stressed and needed all the drinks. Yet I still managed without.

God, I sound like an alcoholic and we’re just getting started.

2) Only drink what you want, when you want. Drinking should be fun. It’s not fun if other people are dictating how much you should be drinking, or how you’re not drinking the right things. Tell them to shut up and do what you want to do.

Sometimes you’ll find yourself surrounded by drinkers when you’re not drinking. Others are going to inquire why you’ve made the incredible decision to be sober for the evening. For whatever reason, there will always be someone who challenges him/herself to get you to drink.  You’ll likely hear one of the following phrases:

-“You have to do [something important] tomorrow? Oh please, I have [this thing that’s even more important] tomorrow! I’m still drinking.”

-“You have to get up at [very early time] tomorrow morning? Oh please, I have to get up at [even earlier time] tomorrow morning! I’m still drinking.”

-“But you can have one and still go to _______ tomorrow, can’t you?”

What the person asking fails to realize is that we all have our own process for whatever it is we have the next morning. Sometimes we’ll choose to drink the night before. Sometimes we’ll choose not to. Whatever our choice is, it’s literally our choice. We get to keep it. We don’t have to listen to the person who is comparing themselves to us.

Not only do we have our own process when it comes to getting ready for “that big thing” the next day (that’s what she said), but we also have our own bodies to consider. Some of us get hangovers. Some don’t. Some get hangovers very easily (which is so unfair). Others don’t. That person yelling to take another shot might not get hangovers as easily as you. Just make sure to know what your body can handle. No one else is going to say, “Oh hey! You get hangovers easily? Maybe you should just stick to beer and avoid that Malort shot, as well as the mixed drinks that are about to be passed out.”

(NOTE: If you have never had Malort, please see me after you read this for Malort shots).

I could keep going, but I have other things to do tonight…that unfortunately don’t include drinking. I’ll end with this: Do I miss being out late with my friends? Of course! But am I happy with the way things are going in my life right now? YES. Since I’ve started drinking less, I’ve been exercising more, eating better, and have (wait for it) experienced fewer hangovers. It makes me more productive. The more productive I am, the more work I get done. The more work I get done, the closer I am to not waiting tables ever again. That’s a dream for another day.

Now I’m done. But I’m serious about the Malort.

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Challenge Update: Being Creative through Technical Difficulties

I don’t know what I did to you, WordPress. I’m assuming it was something bad, judging from the way you’ve been treating me lately.

Day 6 was posted, but to the wrong blog. My apologies if you’re subscribed to Green Room Blog and got an email from The Chicago Actor about a challenge that seemed to have started on day six.

All that being said, there will likely be days where I don’t update the blog with my creative activity for the day. On those days, I’ll try and update twitter. Be sure to follow me @_tonyrossi where I’ll be using hashtag #30daycreativechallenge. In fact, follow that anyway.

Just so you don’t think I was slacking off yesterday

Day 6: …wait for it…another handwritten letter. You guys who inboxed me on facebook are luckyyyy!

Day 6

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I wrote this one in my gym lobby. I provided QUITE the show for any observers when I realize my post had gone to the wrong blog. 

And then for today, Day 7: Journaling! Five straight minutes of uninterrupted writing:

Day 7

Sorry for the tease. I feel like posting the whole thing defeats the purpose of journaling. Should you find yourself in my apartment, maybe I’ll let you read it…

There you have it. Days 6 and 7 complete. Only 23 more days to go!

Day 5: Handwritten letter (3)

I’m really enjoying writing letters. It’s quick, easy, and fun. This will be my third, as well as the third state I’ve mailed to. Love it.

Letter 3

Envelope 3

Three weather related things I’m grateful for:

1) I woke up and it was SUNNY! At 7:00 am!

2) Also when I woke up, it was 27 degrees out. This is not a complaint.

3) It was still sunny when I got home!

I’m always in a better mood when the sun is out. Obviously it’s ideal when it’s not windy and cold. But getting to see the sun all day? I’ll take it.

Day 5 complete. Only 25 more days to go!

Day 4: Catching a show at Stage Left Theatre

Stage Left has quickly become one of my favorite theatre companies in Chicago. They put on free staged readings, offer affordable workshops, and, of course, great theatre.

Their current show, “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg,” is currently running until February 16th at Theatre Wit.

Stage Left

I don’t think I’ve ever brought a ticket/program home with me in good condition

Quick side note: Normally on Fridays, I post an actual blog about life and the thoughts of Tony Rossi. After planning on doing this, I decided it didn’t feel right interrupting the flow of the 30 Day Creative Challenge in its early stages. Check back next Friday for an actual blog post on life. And the thoughts of Tony Rossi.

Also, I thought of another thing to try and add on to this challenge: I started the project as a way to stay positive and creative during this brutal weather. Something I’ve been trying lately thanks to Courtney Rioux is to find three things I’m grateful for every day. Well what if I found three things to be grateful for that had to do with the weather?? Crazy, right?

Here are mine from today:

1) The weather jumped up TEN DEGREES between 12:00pm and 2:00pm.

2) I didn’t have to wear my ski mask outside for the first time in several days (though I probably should have)

3) The wind was blowing north, so the walk home to my apartment (which is conveniently located north of the theatre) was quite pleasant…compared to the walk to the theatre.

Aaaaand that’s it for the day. Check back tomorrow for day 5.

Day 4 completely. Only 26 more days to go!

Day 3: Writing out character descriptions for “Guys Night 7”

I got a little nostalgic during this one.

I have a group of friends back home called “The Slurve Crew.” Most are people I went to high school with. While we did lots of silly things together, there was one ritual that I particularly enjoyed (for completely biased reasons). I started writing skits about us. (I know, right?) The first one, titled “Guys Night,” was written back in 2007. It just featured the boys of the group, and made fun of us lots. In addition, I included a “character description” to further humiliate the group as a whole.

Fast forward to today. One of my friends, Paula, is getting married this summer! This sounded like the perfect time to write a new script about her special day. I’ve already asked Paula if we could incorporate this into the wedding itself. She has yet to respond.

In any event, I took on just a small part of this script as part of my 30 Day Creative Challenge by writing the character description for the men. Depending on time, I may start the descriptions for the women. But this is what I have for now, and I definitely don’t want to post my creative action for the day at 11:00pm every night.

Here’s a very teasing snapshot of the character description (because I can’t actually show it to you before the wedding! That’s bad luck.)

Character Description

Oh dear. I forgot that by posting this I would have to explain something embarrassing. So I indicated the name of the character with capital letters. You’ll see on some of them there’s another name in parenthesis. That’s because, in an attempt to make this a very silly skit, I changed all our names to fakes that rhymed with our real names.

Shut up. I was nineteen at the time. And may or may not have stolen the idea from someone in my drama class.

And here’s an old picture of our group of friends at our annual day-before-Thanksgiving-Feast at Fuddruckers. This was taken in 2009, and was sadly the last day-before-Thanksgiving-feast I’ve joined them for 😦

Fudss

Day 3 complete. Only 27 more to go!

Day 2: Another Letter

30 Day Creative Challenge: Day 2.

Man, these hand written letters are much more popular thing than I realized!

I’m not going to do 30 days of writing letters (although there is nothing wrong with that). But I do want to send a letter to everyone who has requested one so far. If I get too many requests, then I’ll reconsider. But I don’t think that’ll be an issue =)

I chose to write another letter because it was a very busy day and writing letters don’t take much time. I am pushing it VERY close to the 12:00am deadline for getting my creative challenge in! (I didn’t mention this in my original post, but think it’s a fair deadline).

Here’s the letter!

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I am dreading dropping this off in the mailbox. Granted, it’s about ten steps from my front door. But it’s 2 degrees out right now…..though I really can’t complain about the weather. Were it not so cold this week, I never would have thought to do the challenge.

Day 2 complete. Only 28 more days to go!

30 Day Creative Challenge

Hey friends! I know, I know. It’s not Friday. Fear not, there will be another post on Friday. However, I got an idea tonight that I’m really excited about.

I was at my desk attempting to be productive. It was proving difficult, so I took a break. Instead of the usual facebook browsing, I decided to try something different. I opened my journal and started writing about everything on my mind. I’ve been meaning to do more of this and less facebook browsing anyway. I wrote down a few random thoughts: Goals I want to accomplish, how much I miss drinking (more on that later), and other things. There was one theme that kept coming up: I hate the cold weather. It was the first time I was honest with myself about this. I’ve been trying hard to stay positive when it comes to Chicago winter. This is very difficult. It’s more difficult when everyone is complaining about the weather on facebook – or worse, pointing out what the temperature and wind chills are. Seriously, we all know how cold it is. There’s no need to reiterate how awful it’s going to be…

…okay I’m doing that right now. I’ll stop. But first, here’s a snapshot of what our forecast looks like for the week. (After this I’ll stop.)

stupid weather

I’m not gonna lie. There have been updates since I last checked this. The fact that we have three days in a row where it hits twenty degrees has improved my spirits drastically.

However, you get the picture. The cold weather combined with the whole “WHY IS IT SO DAMN WINDY” factor has made me extremely unmotivated.

Oh, and just so I have my bases covered:

-The Starbucks at North and Wells is my usual creative/productive spot. But waiting for the train in negative wind chills is not my thing.

-Drink if you just said “It’s windy because you live in the windy city.”

Tangent over.

During my journaling, I wrote this down:

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And wouldn’t you know it, the answer came to me. On the next page.

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I’ve challenged myself to do something/see something creative every day for the next thirty days. Starting today.

This includes:

-Journaling

-Blogging

-Auditioning (yes, I’m counting this)

-Classes/workshops

-Writing letters

-Catching a play/show

This does NOT include:

-Watching television shows or movies (Don’t get me wrong – film counts as something creative. But I already watch too much netflix)

-Writing letters to friends and then letting them sit on my desk for several days (Letters must be mailed out the day of for them to count)

-This blog post (Blogging counts. Just not this post. That’s cheating)

I’m going to post an update every day with what I did. Hopefully with a picture or image. Starting…TONIGHT! (Because why procrastinate and start tomorrow? That’s just silly).

To start, here’s a letter I’m about to mail out. I don’t want to spoil the letter itself, but I included the date and “Day 1” to show where I’m at on the project.

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So there you have it. Day one complete. Only twenty nine more days to go.

Check back tomorrow to see what happens on day two!

I’m Sorry for the Stupid Things I’m Going to Do Later

Think of something that makes you angry. I’m talking really angry. When it happens, you’re like, “WHAT?! Why is this happening?! The universe must be mad at me because, god, what the HELL did I do to deserve this?!?!”

If you actually talk like this, message me. We should have started hanging out long ago.

pirate picture

This is the angry face I’m looking for. Just without the gun. Which is a fake. I promise. 

I’ll give you my example: I hate when the internet isn’t working perfectly. I realize the internet is a luxury that not everyone has. When it isn’t working, it’s not the end of the world. I still have a job, still can pay my bills, and still have time to pursue acting and writing. However, when the internet does go out at our apartment (aka “Tango Sur North”) you’d think that someone told me I just lost all of those things. Without getting too detailed, my reaction usually involves a lot of cursing and sometimes throwing things.

The most recent time this happened, it was fairly late and I was getting ready for bed. The internet went out. Not only was I unable to watch the rest of my show on Netflix (this is a big deal before bed) but I also would have issues starting my day the next morning. This was clearly unacceptable. I stormed out of my room into the living room, where my roommate Eric was playing video games. I proceeded to furiously work on our router. *Insert lots of cursing and sighs of exasperation here.* An hour and a half later, still no internet. I went to bed in a very unhappy state.

The following morning, I apologized to Eric for my childish behavior the night before. This wasn’t the first time I had to apologize to a roommate for something like this. Yet every time I did apologize, I would end up doing the same stupid thing in the future. And that, my friends, is where we need to be careful.

Apologies lose meaning if you know you’re going to be unpleasant again later. It doesn’t mean apologizing doesn’t help. But if you go right back to your old ways and continue to be unpleasant, it doesn’t bode well.

I’ll give a couple of examples. I used to work for a manager who was extremely unpleasant. He was verbally abusive and sometimes made other employees cry during shift. Once I was sitting down with him for my year-end review. Before it even came time for me to give my thoughts, he told me he was well aware of his flaws and was sorry for his behavior. At the time, I actually believed him. Yet he was back to his barking ways the very next day. After this, his apology became useless.

Another time I was on a very expensive film set. The director gathered everyone together before the shoot to give us a pep talk. He was so nice and friendly! I got really excited for the shoot itself. He also warned us that he could get cranky sometimes and not to take it personally. This was an understatement. He was constantly yelling at his crew, sometimes actors. By the end of the day, I didn’t care about his pep talk anymore. I just cared about leaving so that I would (hopefully) never have to see him again.

So guys, next time you find yourself apologizing for that stupid thing you’re going to do later, think about the “later” part: Is your friend really going to accept your apology? Or is he going to ask you to move out because you keep breaking other people’s possessions every time the internet goes out?

…I swear I don’t actually break things. Or possessions.

How to #MakeSomeonesDay when you’re having a bad one

There are two absolutely miserable things that are affecting Chicago right now. One is the weather. The other is Ventra.

You’ve probably either heard about our weather or experienced it yourself. On Monday, Chicago’s temperatures stayed around -12 degrees Fahrenheit for the entirety of the day, with wind chills around -40. I personally stayed indoors, got a ton of things done, and then eventually went crazy because I couldn’t leave the apartment.

Speaking of going crazy, let’s talk Ventra. A couple of months ago, Chicago got rid of its well working Chicago Plus Card that many public transportation riders used and replaced it with a Ventra card. They have had a lot of issues since their launch and Chicagoans are not happy. Google “ventra chicago” for some of the lovely stories.

Combine the weather together with Ventra and you have a very dangerous duo. Here is my story:

On Tuesday we had reached positive temperatures, but they hovered in the low single digits. I decided taking the bus would be best to get to the gym. As I was heading home after my workout, I got a very rude greeting from the Ventra reader on the bus. I had insufficient funds…despite the fact my card was set to automatic reload. I apologized to the bus driver and got off at the next stop. Following this was a series of frustrating interactions. They involved a CVS, cashback, multiple transactions, but no single dollar bills to use for the bus. I decided to walk the rest of the way home.

I was pretty livid that my Ventra card was the reason I was walking home in the cold. As I was almost home, I was still angry and had no feeling left in my hands. I noticed a mail truck trying to get out of some pretty obnoxious snow. It didn’t look like the driver would get out anytime soon. I desperately wanted to go back to my apartment to warm up.

But I decided there was no reason for two people to have a bad day.

I got home and checked our basement to look for some shovels. There weren’t any. I was about to give up, but saw some shovels sitting by the window of the convenience store right below my building. I went in, explained I lived upstairs, and asked if I could borrow the shovel to help the poor mailman. And off I went.

I greeted the mailman and started shoveling. After several attempts of digging and driving, we had made significant progress, but hadn’t quite got the truck out. As we were working, most cars kept driving by. Eventually there was one that stopped. The man put his car in reverse, parked, and ran out to help us. Upon seeing this, a third man stopped his car – right in the middle of the street – and came to our aide as well. Together we all pushed until the truck was back on the road. It felt pretty awesome.

When I first started trending #MakeSomeonesDay, I was focusing on people working customer service jobs. This was also during the holiday season when we were surrounded by the “spirit of the season” and wanted to do good. Now that we’re in January and are focusing on how to avoid this god awful weather, most of that do-good feeling is gone. But what if we found a way to get that feeling back?

I used a quote in a blog last month that’s very relevant here. It’s from my friend Matt Kuhlman who posted this on facebook: “If the World was always as positive and polite as it is around Christmas or when an amazing person dies, it would be a much better place. Maybe we should think about these things 365 days a year, not just 40 or 50 days a year.”

Here’s my challenge to you: Anytime you find yourself going out of your way to go that extra mile for someone else, sum it up on twitter using the hashtag #MakeSomeonesDay. Or if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, find other ways to use the hashtag. Once you get others to start showing gratitude, it really is contagious.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering if the Ventra problem was really my fault the whole time (this thought definitely crossed my mind), I’ve left you a screen shot of my account from Tuesday. Note that the “Transit Autoload Amount” is ON, yet my balance reflects otherwise.

Ventra 2

Go #MakeSomeonesDay, everyone….just do it without Ventra.

What to do when you really, really want something

How do you act when you want something? Like, really, really want something?

Some people invest all their time and energy into it. Others like to talk about it. Sometimes I’ll hear the phrase, “If this doesn’t happen, I’ll just die!”

First off, let’s avoid saying this. There’s no need for anyone to die.

Second, I learned something awesome this week on the particular topic.

I recently started a program called “My Big Year” with Courtney Rioux. Courtney is a life coach for actors. I started following Courtney when her blog popped up on my twitter feed one day. I only recently started working with her on “My Big Year” – 12 weeks of group coaching, plus some other fun perks.

We kicked off on Monday night with a “Year End Review.”

my big year

My outfit makes it hard to find me in this picture

my big year 2

This one too. 

In addition to doing various exercises, Courtney imparted some of her wisdom onto us. One thing in particular that stuck out was how to go about our goals – You know, those things we want? Like, really, really want?

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All photos were stolen (with love) from facebook.com/hubbardcoaching

Courtney taught us a trick: Ask for these things that we really want – and then let them go. This doesn’t mean we don’t want them anymore. It means we did our part of asking, and now we’re letting the universe do its thing. (For the record, Courtney didn’t use the example of the universe. That’s just me watching too much “How I Met Your Mother.”)

She gave us an example of when you have a big crush on someone. If you come off really eager to be around them and please them, you’re likely going to scare them off. Just ask for it, and then let it go.

How often do you find yourself doing this? When you’re looking for a new job, hoping to meet someone, or maybe just hoping to get cast in this great project that would change your life forever – how often are you thinking about it? I can’t tell you how much I’ve exhausted myself thinking about how bad I want something. There are a few things I really want right now that would make my life so much better. Even though it’s tough “letting them go,” I definitely feel better and less stressed out knowing that I don’t have to think about these things 24/7.

Oh, and just to be clear, this doesn’t mean that we don’t take any action towards our goals. I certainly hope you’re taking action if you want something bad enough! For that, I’ll let Courtney do the talking. Here’s a blog post she wrote on “How to get what you want – right now!” I reread this earlier today after sharing it with a friend. Check it out, and even try the exercise. I try to do mine daily.

What is something you really want? Are you thinking about it all the time? If you are, just let it go! (Unless it’s for me to be successful and married to Heidi Watney. In which case, you should ask for it a second or third time.)