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Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2003 02:20 pm

Grace about town


I guess it's a good time to reflect upon the past year. It was an OK year for me, all-in-all. I didn't get killed when my mom tried to capsize her fishing boat by crashing into a tsunami and I fell backward and hit my head on the bottom of the boat. I organized all the stuff in my storage unit, the place where I'm keeping everything I brought back from LA until I decide to buy an actual house, or until I decide to throw all the stuff away and start all over. I finally got a prize in a film festival for the movie I made several years ago, and at least 14 people actually saw it. My friends in LA bought me a plane ticket to visit last summer, and I was only in two car accidents in one weekend, and I didn't get hurt at all.

But now I'm much more interested in looking ahead, starting afresh and anew and agog.

My resolutions have always been a little on the lame side, like losing that five pounds that I do eventually lose but then it always finds me again. But today I've been giving resolutions a lot of thought, for at least a half an hour, and I've come up with some pretty compelling ones:

I want to enter a loaf of French bread in the Illinois State Fair. When I moved from LA, some of my friends acted sad to see me go, but I know they were really just unhappy because I wouldn't be there to bake them French bread. Those who know the bread are always pleading for it. Spurred on by our gingerbread house second-place ribbon ("Most Original") at the Festival of Trees this year, it's time for me to fly solo, try a contest on my own.

I'm going take a vacation in the south of France. A few years ago a man I know stayed in a vacation home in the south of France, and it was delightful and unbelievably cheap, something like two hundred bucks a week. I've been carrying the Web site for the vacation home around with me wherever I go, thinking about planning a trip. But too many years have passed, there's no reason not to go, no time like the present, etc. This year, I'm going, no matter what.

I resolve to have at least one non-horrible date. I don't think this is an overly-ambitious resolution, but you'd be surprised at how many horrible dates I've found myself in the midst of. So I think the goal of just one of the non-horrible variety is reasonable and prudent.

My final resolution is something I've managed to avoid mentioning to anybody for quite a while, but I figure if I write about it, maybe I'll actually finally take action. OK, so here's my secret desire in life: I want to be a stand-up comic. When I lived in LA, I took a stand-up comedy class and got over my fear of talking in front of an audience. I've been in billions of plays and got over that kind of fear years ago, but it's a whole different thing when it's just you, saying stuff you thought up and hoping people will think it's funny.

I started going to open mic nights all over LA, including one at the famous Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard. It was frightening to be on the Comedy Store stage, even though nobody was in the audience. I had to wait around a long time and watch other wannabe comics, and they were strangely awful. One guy was dressed as a nun, with big balloons taped to his chest, and he clutched a toy parrot. He attempted the absolute worst ventriloquism I've ever seen, with his hand over his mouth so you couldn't see his lips moving. You'd think it would be funny because it was so awful, but he went on and on forever and I was deeply embarrassed for him even though I'm sure he never will be.

I finally got tired of all the waiting around watching freaky and/or horrible other comics, so I quit going to open mics. But now that I'm back in Springfield, I think I should try it again. What do I have to lose? I don't think there are nearly as many aspiring comics here, so I probably wouldn't have to wait around for hours. It's a lot less likely that a Hollywood Power Broker will be in the audience, waiting to discover me as the next Hot Comic, but it's a good way to start. I'm terrified at the thought of it, but what's the point of life if you can't face a fear now and then?

It's going to be a busy year.

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