Monday, January 23, 2012

laid off and determined.

About three years ago, during my last year at the bar, I started to go through a crisis. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. After I graduated college I had several career jobs where I used my degree doing advertising, PR, marketing and was pretty successful at it. I did this while keeping the bar job on the side. Three years ago I was laid off from my last day job, which was relevant to my college education with the 401K and the stuff you’re told you’re supposed to want. Near the end of that job, on a daily basis, I wanted to stab myself in the eye working there (metaphorically and not literally). I was hoping they would add the shotgun or knife to my stock options. That never happened, which was good because while I love a good suicide joke, that was not what I wanted. I was feeling numb to working there and not sure how other people did this and found happiness. I would come home while financially successful, buying stuff, helping my mother, father and anyone who needed it when I could, I would cry almost every night and not know why. I was making enough money to be happy. I grew up poor so anything above the poverty line was rich to me. After a year at a good company, working 40 hours a week for good people, daily pushing papers I was laid off. The day I was laid off, it happened in the middle of the day. It was after lunch oddly, 2:30pm to be exact. I was sad but not lost like I should have been. I went to a happy hour that day and drank. After an evening of drinking sarrows away, I went home drunk, alone, a bit teary, but not sad and wrote. I wrote about my life. I realized that all the books I had read about San Francisco talked about an idealistic world that may or may not have existed in the 60s, 70s but nothing like what I had seen there. I wrote until I couldn’t write anymore. This was about a 4 day period. I didn’t really shower much during that period, only to go work at the bar and to eat a half-gallon of ice cream.

I went back to full time at the bar again and entered crisis mode again. I go through one of these every 3 or 4 years depending on the economy of course. I decided to go see a therapist after having a moderately unsuccessful time with one on campus during my last semester of school, I decided to give it a go.

This time around the question I focused on with my therapist was “what now?”
He asked me one of those hippy, therapist, granola, I shop at Whole Foods and sold out years ago questions. “Yuri, in an ideal world, what would you be doing with your life?”

I told him write, but there is no money in that so how would I live? He pried more. I then told him I would like to be a comedian, but wasn’t funny.

He suggested I start a blog and post some stories. This way I could see people’s reaction to my writing and see if anyone even likes it. The following week I enrolled in a comedy class.

That week I started a blog where I posted stories about my life in San Francisco and the bar I had known as home for 5 years. The stories, while based on truth were what I created blending different experiences together to create a good story. It was my story through my big eyes and my journey to be told. I instantly got good traffic to the blog and people were emailing me all the time trying to figure out what was real from the stories and what wasn’t. If my grammar were better I would have figured out a way to finish a book from the stories right then.

The first open mic was like the first time having sex. I got lots more laughs than expected. After the first laugh I had the courage to keep going. It was the first time I felt at home. It was like the way the junkies on intervention made heroin sound, but without the track marks.

After a few months of both the standup and the writing, there was a buzz about the bar apparently about my blog. People would ask me, “does Charlie know? He won’t like it”

I didn’t see the big deal. What was Charlie Big Brother? It was like they thought he was a part of the mafia. I have been raised with that mindset so wasn’t phased by it. My Russian father, like most Russian men and Wayne Brady thought he was black and a member of the mob. Second, I never really talked negatively about the bar. The stories while based in truth were about my life, my experiences that happened at a bar I happen to work at. It was and is my story and no one else’s.

Ironically I was “let go” from the bar that I worked at for 5 years almost 2 years ago. I was sat down by Charlie himself and told that while I was an amazing bartender that they were making changes and my services wouldn’t be needed anymore. I was laid off with a severance from the Labirinth. It would take six months before I heard a rumor that my blog had to do with my dismissal. I didn’t think it did, couldn’t care less, but would like to entertain that idea. In my mind it would just add another layer to the story to eventually be a best seller.

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