Wednesday, September 22, 2010


  If you believe that the Universe works purposefully then you know that people come into our lives for a reason.  We learn things, some big and some tiny, from everyone we encounter in our existence.  Someone may expose you to a band you've never heard before.  Another person might teach you how to hula hoop.  And then there are the truly special ones.  We know who they are because when you're in their presence they make you feel like a million bucks.  When you see them in pictures you can't help but smile.  And, most importantly, as you get older their importance to you continues to grow.
  For me, one of those truly special souls was my sensational Grandma, Tillie Futernick.  The light of my life.  The anchor of our family.  A woman so tough and proud to be who she was that she never shied away from expressing her feelings, a less than popular trait in the Futernick clan.  A vivacious spirit, she laughed just as much as she cried.  Even if it meant being the butt of our family's jokes, she was never afraid to be touched by the beauty of life.  Never too proud to bawl her eyes out, simply because our family had gotten together for Sunday afternoon pizza in her small Brooklyn apartment.    
  Oh and she was slick, too.  She often came with us on our summer vacations and she always pretended to be frail to get a good seat or get special treatment.  "I'm an old lady," she would announce, followed by a subtle wink.  Grandma Tills knew how to work the system.  She needed no special treatment, though.  We were in London and she tripped and fell on her face in front of a pub.  She was cut up and bleeding and at 80 years old she exclaimed "they're gonna think I'm ferschnoshked," the Yiddish word for "drunk."
  Her husband, my Grandfather, who passed away a year before I was born, was the original David namesake.  And because of this we always had an extra special bond.  I think she saw me as a blessing that had arisen from her husband's untimely death.  A ray of light that "Dapper Dave, "as they called him, had left in his tracks.  
  Grandma Tillie was a few months shy of her 95th birthday when she passed away peacefully late Tuesday night.  People would always ask her what her secret was for living such a long, healthy life.  If I had to guess I would say that she was comfortable being herself and grateful for the life she was given.  These things added up to complete and utter happiness.  A product of The Depression, she would always say things like "I'm a rich woman."  Tillie Futernick could see what mattered most in life.  I will always feel blessed to be a part of her riches.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hey, Aren't You That Guy?

  Today I was in the middle of ordering my burnt coffee at Starbucks when the barista interjected.  "You look really familiar.  Are you on TV?  Commercials and stuff?"  "Yes,"  I replied, smiling.  Maybe she actually recognized me or perhaps she confused me with one of my more conventionally successful dopplegangers (i.e. Simon Helberg or Adam Rose).  Either way it didn't matter.  
  Something I've been trying to incorporate into my life is to not judge myself by anyone's feelings about me whether they be negative OR positive.  It was super cool of this barista to speak up and stroke my ego.  The thing is, the only person that should be making me feel any sort of way about myself is me.  When you live by this rule no one can bring you down...and that's way more empowering than someone remembering your face. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Promised Myself I Wouldn't Cry

  Heartbreak.  We all suffer through it at some point and in some form(s) in our lives.  For some of us it's the death of someone close to you.  For others it's a dream you had that may not be coming true the moment you wanted it to.  For me it's arrived the last few months in the form of love lost.
  Now this isn't going to turn into some therapy session (and if it does just smack me through your computers or future phones).  I refuse to ask for pity like I have so often in the past.  But Heartbreak, this feeling of pain from deep within our souls, doesn't just appear.  In fact, nothing does.  We are presented with all of our obstacles in life to learn something.  Whether you believe in God, Buddha, Allah or Lady GaGa, there is a solid truth in the purpose of life and that is to learn.
  Every day is chock full of lessons.  We must be open to the idea, however trying, that these lessons are present for a reason.  I think there's a common belief that once you get to a certain age you are an adult and, thus, have less to learn.  But there is always more to gain from life.  I've found that in the last few months the more self-aware you are, the stronger you grow as a person.  There is a lot to be learned from others, but there is even more to learn from ourselves.  Fighting the obstacles in our lives will give you a serious sense of accomplishment and empowerment.  It's easy to break down, mope around and feel bad for yourself.  A good cry never hurt anyone and a wise teacher once told me that crying is actually just a release of tension and nothing more.  So cry away, just don't wallow in your misery.  It accomplishes nothing for those around you and causes emotional harm to yourself.
  This year the first love of my life, whom I was with for four years, fell in love once again.  The initial pain hits you when you hear this.  Ideas flow through your head like "he's better than me" or "she's moved on and doesn't care about me anymore" or "they have lots of crazy sex with each other now."  But this is all a world you've created in your head.  Emotional pain or Heartbreak is all a product of your brain chatter.  These messages are then sent down to the rest of your body and it shuts down.  It tenses up.  It suffers.
  It's at moments like these when we must remind ourselves to become pillars of strength.  Say to yourself "Not this time.  This time I won't let the obstacle overcome me."  Lift your chest up, breathe, and put everything into perspective.  Life is beautiful if you let it be.  Only you can decide to be happy or not.   As I'm getting older and wiser George Harrison is slowly becoming my favorite Beatle.  His beautiful album "All Things Must Pass" had it right.  All things do pass and all of our worries relinquish into dust.  It is important to see the value in living presently in your current life.  Don't be upset by the cards you've been dealt.  Be happy that you have the cards at all.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My First Year As An Angeleno

When I was a kid nothing was more important to me than being an actor and living the rest of my life in some sort of Woody Allen/Spike Lee/Seinfeld-esque utopian world in New York.  There was no other option but this place.  It was in my blood.  It was where my parents grew up and fell in love.  It was where their parents grew up and fell in love.  Pizza, Bagels and Chinese Food (especially on Sundays) were as essential as air and water.  My ears were fed Simon & Garfunkel and Billy Joel and Broadway Showtunes.  Every 22 minutes 1010 Wins gave me the world.  Trips to see my Grandparents were like looking through telescopes aimed at a history class scored by George Gershwin.  New York was in my blood.  It was the setting for my rollercoaster college experience.  The Triboro Bridge (I will always call it that) was the backdrop when I first kissed the first love of my life. I called Mid-Town and The Upper East Side and Astoria home for so many years.  I spent sweaty nights dancing in unairconditioned apartments. I drank in dimly-lit bars.  I cheered for my heroes at Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium.  I wandered the streets on weekends, sometimes walking past miles and miles of stores and markets and subway stations and parks.  My young idea of a life had gone completely as planned.  And it was beautiful.
But one day my fire died…and you must never EVER let your fire die. 
So I did what I always said I would NEVER do…I moved to Los Angeles.  I traded in crowded subway cars for a Honda Accord.  I left behind Pizza and General Tso’s for Burritos and Fish Tacos.  This, the place that Woody Allen and Sex In The City always warned would be the end of me.  And the thing is…it was.  It was the end of me being:
  • lazy
  • anxiety-ridden
  • negative
  • angry
  • bitter
  • creatively blocked
  • spiritually unmotivated
  • unhappy
  • out of shape
  • ungiving
  • insecure
  • stuck in the past
  • worrisome
The list could continue…but it doesn’t have to because all of these things are connected to one another.  
The point is that the life that we had planned for ourselves as youngsters isn’t always going to be the right journey for us.  It takes self-awareness and maturity to accept this idea.  I moved to Los Angeles, the forbidden place, exactly one year ago…and it has been the single most rewarding year of my adult life.  
I thank the Universe for being so kind to me and I promise to give even more kindness back.  Even if the pizza here sucks.