I wrote a bad version of this before, so I’m going to try again.
My name is Adam Ston. Currently I’m alive in Chicago, Illinois, during what is probably going to be one of the first big pandemics of my lifetime. I have a job with an internet company that I won’t even make a joking pass at naming, but rest assured you’re maybe only a user and not really a fan. Unless you are, in which case I’d like to have a talk or two with you about corporations and what they think of you and the like just to see if you have an understanding of it all that I don’t.
I’m American, by which I mean I was born, raised, and have always lived in the United States. I had it impressed upon me by some people from Mexico once that the U.S. is, in fact, not the only nation on the American continents and thus it’s not totally accurate to lay claim to the nomenclature of being ‘American’ because of it. Makes sense to me, but it doesn’t really drive me to stop people from describing me as such, or from me accepting it. We all know what we’re trying to say, which might be the problem.
I went to public school. It was not fun for me. I thought I was bullied. I mean, I think I was bullied. I have examples of it, you know: being spat on on the bus, being teased for being weird, so on. In the times we live in now though, I think my experience was considerably mild. I mean, I never had to deal with the ridicule of my peers following me back to my home through my cellphone unless they had my phonenumber, which considering my small group of friends then it’s fair to say they didn’t.
I went to community college, then finished out at a four year arts school getting a perfectly fine degree in theater acting. It was only meant to serve me being a better improv comedian, which it may have but really is that worth the price tag? As you can gather, I’m not a hundred percent on that. Not that I have regrets in doing it.
I got out of school in 2012, so yes nine years ago. Since then its been a lukewarm sort of experience I’ve had in Chicago comedy, mostly I think from my own behavior and inaction. This is a city where you can certainly do stuff and be successful, but you have to do stuff. I did, but in my opinion not enough and not with great enough skill. Maybe talent, but if I’m honest (and I’m trying to be), I wasn’t undeniable. Not that you have to be, but if it’s going to be a linchpin of your success you probably should.
Now I’m in my mid thirties, blonde-brown (more brown nowadays) hair and green eyes and white skin from a family of college academics. It’s not that I think these things are traits that I am super excited to share with you, they are just ones that inevitably affect how I view and interact with the world, which I think is valuable information to know as I start this with you. By ‘this’, I mean the blog you are reading.
Now: why am I doing it?
I was hoping that this would be the start of some kind of great journey for me.
I feel like that every time I start a new creative project: that this is just the very beginning of what I have been waiting to happen all along. I want to gain some sort of clarity from everything that I do, but it’s rare that I’ve found something that does. So far only three of the things I’ve regularly done throughout this pandemic have provided that: meditation, journaling, and cooking.
Trust me, it was obnoxious just writing that out, so I feel you if you’re sick of hearing me talk about how my dharma is going. Tell me more, Adam, about your mental health. The world is dragging itself through a pool of broken glass to try and make it to solid ground, but please tell us how being a basic American white guy has given you an inroad into clarity.
First off, let me apologize for implying I know what you’re thinking – I know it’s presumptive, but I’m hoping you’ll give me the freedom to form a narrative here. Thank you, you’re very kind.
Second, I can’t say it really has. I think maybe I’ve gotten some insight into myself and my own bullshit, but its more given me a kind of habit to have that makes me feel a little better and doesn’t cost anything but time and paper with ink.
Third, to kind of throw my previous point under the bus, I think it has given me insight into what matters. Somewhat and sometimes. And one of the things that doesn’t matter that I maybe naïvely thought did is improv comedy. More narrowly: success in improv comedy.
I used to have in my head that I was going to be very limited in what my avenues to Success™ were going to be, and to me it was obvious that improv comedy was the way for that. I got started doing comedy at fourteen with stand up classes at a club in Royal Oak, Michigan, some forty minutes from where I lived in Commerce Township, which if I had my pick would have now been the thing that I leaned more. Yet, at sixteen, I started taking improv classes in Hamtramck and from that point on I was very, very honed in on that being my way out of state and into being an comedian.
I don’t ever recall being a kind of person that saw improv as a philosophy/way of life, mostly because I realized somehow early on that this was a business I was trying to be a part of, albeit as a creative person. Or at least that’s how I used to justify my lack of success. But it was an option – making improv my zen, if you’ll let me – all throughout the last nearly eighteen years of being involved in making jokes as a career goal. It never stuck with me.
It always has weirded me out how people will take musings about a business that isn’t really on the up-and-up and take it as being gospel for how people live their lives. Even operating within it, there’s this imposing question I’ve always had of ‘is this how it really is?’ that was never satisfactorily answered to me. Mostly, I think, because that answer is always going to be subjective, since no one has the same exact story as the other. And from my very introductory understanding of philosophy there have to be some steadfast rules.
I suppose that’s what I’m trying to get out of this project: to develop some kind of life philosophy. I don’t have a whole lot of a reason to do it publicly, mind you. But I am a (unpaid) writer, and writing – not by necessity, but certainly popularly – is a public pursuit. It’s partly to figure things out, sure, but it’s also meant to be shared. That’s part of the nature of language.
I call it a project in my head, but that implies to me that there is an endpoint. Maybe calling this a practice will make more sense. A very public, probably painful but hopefully insightful and rewarding process that will hopefully provide some value to everyone involved. That’s what people in marketing would call a ‘pain point’, my desire to be of value. It’s one I think a lot of us as people share, and I hope it’s something we can all talk about and try to figure out as this goes on.
That’s all I have for this right now.