Tag Archives: Workaholic

Cloverfield vs. Matt Fried vs. Guilty Consciene

cloverfield

So, I finally saw Cloverfield last night. A little late at a year and a half after its release – I know – but better late than never. Suffice to say, I loved it. There is nothing better than a good, old-fashioned monster movie when you’re trying to relax on a day off. That’s what yesterday was all about; one day where I’m not: answering e-mails, going to the gym, doing comedy, thinking about comedy, going to comedy shows, writing comedy. I wanted to make Wednesday all about comic books, vegging, and monster movies.

Okay, I admit that I achieved 50% of my goal. I broke down and answered some personal e-mails, and marketed the blog for a little bit. Does this officially make me a workaholic? Probably.

In my hosting class, we watched an old Dick Cavett interview with Jack Benny (who at the time was in his late 70s to early 80s). Benny commented that he loved to work; he loved entertaining people. I love to work, too. Mostly because, I work from home. That means I am writing this from my work desk (i.e. bed). My work fills me with a sense of self-worth. It let’s me get just as stressed out as every other New Yorker. However, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the work, or the stress of work, that gets me up in the morning. The fact that I have a typical schedule – packed with busy work activities and steady progress towards the achievement of a larger goal – makes me feel like a valid working individual. Similarly, if I don’t complete any of these tasks by the end of the day, I feel like I’ve wasted all my time. So that means: I will forego the gym, breakfast, lunch, laundry, vacuuming, showering – all in the name of working. Because without my work, I truly feel as if I’m just another lazy slob.

So, to be precise: yes, I am a workaholic. I’m the worst kind of workaholic. I’m the guy with high productivity and a guilt complex.

How does something like this happen? I guess, when you really care about what you do and you live in NYC, it just does. Ever since I started writing professionally, it seems like not much else matters. Which is why – though I do long for human interaction – I can get through a whole day or two without talking to someone else in person. I do recognize that this is unhealthy. But I can’t seem to help it, either.

For example, I’m writing a screenplay right now. I started writing it in one of my classes. It started as a 16 page treatment, that I then sat down with over Easter weekend and sought to revise as a bullet point plot outline. Just as I was passing the three-quarters mark, the Monday of a show week came up. Historically, the week of my talk show is always busy, and I’m forced to set anything else I have aside. Before I finally got to resting on Wednesday, I had to take care of various loose ends on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Then, it is AT LAST Wednesday. For the last 11 days, my script has been sitting on my dinner table, unfinished.

But I’m telling myself “You’re resting today.”

But the script needs to be finished.

“You’re resting today.”

But the script –

“You. Are. Resting. Today.”

But –

“…”

Next thing I know, it’s 3:00 in the morning, and I’m pouring over the final details in my script. The sad fact is: I can’t relax until this thing is done. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I can’t let it sit and collect dust. It needs to be done. The script. My work. Sanity be damned.

I’m a workaholic. That’s just the fact of the matter.

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A.K.A. Clark Kent

2228443709_8d7b9db2d6 Photo Credit

I’m sad to announce that I am not Superman. I know this comes as a great disappointment to all of you, but mostly to me. Imagine my surprise to find out that I am not, in fact, invincible. I’d like to extend a few apologies before I write any further. First, I’d like to apologize to my mom – Mom, you’re not the problem, I am. Second, my apologies to my stepfather – Dan, you were right, I should’ve gone into agriculture. Third, to my high school guidance counselor – Mrs. D, I’m sorry, I won’t be able to invite you to my Oscar premiere. Fourth, to that very cute girl from Collingswood I met the night of my high school freshman dance at Ponzio’s Diner  – Megan (I think), I’m sorry my Robin Williams impression didn’t lead to us hooking up. And lastly, to all my unborn children – kids, I’m sorry. Your dad is being crushed by this world.

For the past week, I’ve learned the importance of not overextending myself. In my zeal to be a comedy writer, I signed up for five writing classes in a row – not realizing until later that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Without going into too many extraneous details, here’s what happened: five writing intensive classes + fledgling comedy career = Matt Fried goes slowly insane. Taking on such a heavy course load sounded great around Christmas, when all of these classes became available. However, so did drunk-dialing my senior prom date to ask if she wanted to play bored holiday hook-up. I was able to make it to the fourth week of March before I started falling behind on work and losing sleep. So, I after weighing my options, I sucked it up and dropped one of my classes. I never drop a class. At least, not a class that I enjoy.

I enjoy writing funny things. Right now, I’m struggling to figure out how to get paid to write funny things. When I say “get paid”, I mean in a satisfactory amount that could cover the expense of two utility bills. So, being the eager student I am, I jumped into a weighty schedule when I already had a full set of professional commitments. In April alone, I already had five comedy shows booked.  However, none of that stopped me from putting the cart before the horse. This is a pattern I’ve developed in the last three years. It’s beginning to bother me. Because, it makes me wonder if I’ve turned into one of them. The overworked, undersexed New Yorkers who are more focused on professional satisfaction than personal happiness. To be straightforward: yup, I have.

But I can’t help it. It just happened. I feel that – if you take your career seriously here – it always will happen; there’s no way to avoid it. This is dangerous for me, because my best source of validation has always been in a classroom environment. I was that kid in high school who, knowing his strengths and weaknesses, took AP History and Lit courses and “not quite remedial” Math and Science classes. I didn’t want to be bothered by what wasn’t important to me. Good grades kept me sane. So, when I was considering a set of writing classes, I just assumed that my imminent excellent results would cancel out the imminent exhaustion. Nothing in any of this rationale seemed unhealthy until I decided to write about it.

Since I got into entertainment, I just assumed I was going to be famous; whether through performance, writing, whatever. I just figured that – as long as I did what I needed to do – everything would work out. But with that assumption came the idea of all work and no play. As a result, I sometimes worry about what opportunities I wasted to travel, see a concert, lost friends, possible girlfriends, etc. I’ve learned to not regret, but I still can’t help but look back and think “Dude, you were only 23 and just out of college. You could’ve taken time off if you needed it.” A work ethic has its pay-off, but not when you’re sacrificing your personal needs. Even Superman found time to go see his parents.

So, I guess that’s the great compromise of being a workaholic: your life or your career. Right now, I want to indulge myself and pretend that it does all fall into place. That, once I do sell a screenplay or publish a book, all of this work will have been worth something. And then, I guess after that, the wife and the kids will show up, too. Until then, I’m still on my own, still trying to not get ahead of myself. Always remembering that I’m still young, and I have plenty of time to do everything I want.

“Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Maybe one day, I will be able to save the world.

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