Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Jealousy Rears Its Ugly Head

Yesterday's Lunch - Lemuria (mp3)

Now - Mates of State (mp3)

Lord, I'm Discouraged - The Hold Steady (mp3)

One of the very few side benefits of being marginally ambitious is that I rarely find myself envious of another person. Do not mistake my lack of envy as a lack of covetousness -- sometimes I covet what others possess without wishing I could be more like them -- and do not mistake it for smugness, as I'm not nearly satisfied enough with myself.

If life were, well, The Game of Life, I rolled low numbers and got the shitty teacher salary while all of my friends went straight for the high-paying stuff. Lawyer. Pharmacist. Engineer. Then my little Life car filled up with two additional pink sticks and one surprise blue stick. My car hasn't hit any Promisory Notes, and it's not piling up with catastrophic debts or anything, but I haven't exactly hit any of the lucky lottery spaces or any of those other cool ways to stumble into cash.

So basically I'm puttering down the highway of Life like James Cromwell in "Revenge of the Nerds" ("Got the ol' cruise control set to 35!"), paying my monthly bills, earning my monthly salary, accepting my fate to pull into the retirement home at the end of the game rather than the mansion.

Totally cool with that. The friends who are on that Life board with me, well, I'm rooting for them. I'm proud when they succeed. I relish in their success as I putter my own way down the road. They're gonna vie for that mansion, and my only sadness comes from having to comfort some of them for not winning the big prize.But then this sumbitch comes screaming down the highway in his Lambourghini, these two supermodels draped all over him, practically running my damn minivan off the road because he's too busy counting his money.

Normally I'd have my little spat of semi-comedic road rage, like Clark Griswold in the family truckster on his way to get a Christmas tree. But then I start replaying this guy's picture in my head, over, and over. He looks familiar. Holy shit, I think I know him. He's not a friend, but I went to school with him. He was a good guy. Partied a lot while I studied.

He's become modestly successful professionally and worked his butt off to do it. However, I found out from none other than the man on the other side of this Glass Bottom that this guy had one of his screenplays picked up by DreamWorks.

He teams up with this guy out West, and they collaborate on Skype, and they write screenplays. And they didn't just sell the options to one. Or two. Or three. This former classmate of mine has SIX SCREENPLAYS currently in some stage of development with Hollywood. Finding out he'd sold one screenplay made me proud of him. I was, like, Duuuuuude! Someone who graduated with me sold a screenplay! How freakin' awesome! Hard work really does pay off!! But six? SIX?? That's not awesome. That's disgusting.

That much unbridled success serves only to remind me how much creative energy I've let fester in the corner of a Humane Society cage, unadopted, doomed to be gassed by the careworkers because its owner never showed up to rescue it.

To rub salt in the hacked-off limb, this guy shows up in the weekend newspaper. He's part of this new-wave fitness group that engages in all these really cool team fitness competitions. This he squeezes in between his very time-consuming full-time job and his never-ending development of screenplays Hollywood drools over.

Sure, the comforting rational side of me says I get my children, my marital bliss, two things he definitely has sacrificed in order to focus on his fitness, his screenplays, his profession. And even the jealous side of me admires the guy. He must be busting his ever-lovin' ass to achieve all this, and I don't care whose butt he had to kiss -- if he had to kiss any at all -- to get there. If he kissed butts, then he did a damn fine job of it, and it just shows he played one helluva game.

And then there's the other thing.

His success has reminded me why I really can't relax too much, be too content. Not because I need to match him, but because there are unwritten accomplishments with my name on them. First I've gotta go rescue them from the pound. And I'd have to feed them, and nurture them, and groom and love them. They'd take a ton of my time, and maybe it's time I couldn't sacrifice with the life I've built for myself, but I should at least find out, so that I'm not haunted by what could have been.

As long as I don't have to sacrifice this fun little blog...

"Now" is from the Mates of State's latest album, The Re-Arranger. "Lord, I'm Discouraged" is from The Hold Steady's latest, Stay Positive. "Yesterday's Lunch" is from Lemuria's latest, Get Better. All three songs are available on both iTunes and's mp3 site.


jennifer said...

Well, if Diablo Cody can go from blogger to Oscar winner, I believe there's hope for something fabulous in your future.

Besides, you're only thirtysomething. Tolkien was over 40 when The Hobbit was published. There's time for a masterpiece from you yet...or even smaller, just as entertaining, but still hitting-the-mother-lode kinds of things. I'd pay money for your work.

Bob said...

Was he in your class? He wasn't a "good guy." You're being kind.

Tommy D said...

Depends on how you measure success doesn't it? In my book, it's not about how much you consume (lambourgini, big house, etc) but which you give back. And I'll bet you a million won that the quality of your blog entries are better than all six of his screenplays put together. If you're going to use conspicuous consumption as the success geiger counter, then just consider are in the top 5% when it comes to wealth in the world. Imagine if you could get your vespa to Addis Ababa ("but m'aam, it's virtually the same SIZE as a suitcase"). You zip by a 60 year old Ethiopian widower who is carrying 70 pounds of sticks on her back down a mountain road, which she will sell for $1 to feed her family of 6 for the day. It's all relative dude.