Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cleveland Rocks

For those of you who know me already, you probably know it's been a long-standing item of contention between me and my lovely wife where we should live. As a native to Northeast Ohio, her vote has always and forever been for Cleveland, whereas as a non-native to Northeast Ohio my vote has always been for Anywhere But Cleveland.

(Who can blame me? It's a city that inspires its own residents to create things like this.)

Eventually, after many months of discussing, bickering, kicking and screaming she finally convinced me, Mr. Bi-Coastal Snob, to pursue relocation to her beloved Midwest. The primary bargaining chip in this negotiation was her quitting the lucrative government job that had been holding us in the DC area, thus leaving us with no actual rational reason to stay there.

The snarky side of me wants to complain about the lack of free museums, lack of political figures of national significance, lack of Ethiopian restaurants and lack of gigantic marble obelisk landmarks in this city, but here's a brief rundown of what's actually happened for me since we moved to Cleveland:

  • I got a great day job with great benefits
  • I got signed with a talent agency, the Talent Group
  • I got cast in the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival
  • In general, I've been winning or placing in competitions, making it to callbacks or booking on auditions, and just generally kicking butt way more than I had in DC
Why is this? Well, obviously the pat explanation is that Cleveland is a smaller pond than DC -- and certainly smaller than LA, where I was based before my wife and I got together. Another explanation might be that I have, in fact, consistently grown and matured as an actor in all the time that it felt like I was struggling uphill trying to make inroads in voiceover and in stage acting during my time on the East Coast. And it's true the combination of reaching a new plateau skill-wise while jumping into a smaller pond can feel like a breakthrough.

But in a lot of ways, despite everything I loved about DC, I was in a rut there, and a change of physical scenery can often be enough to break a lot of the mental and emotional habits that hold us back from taking the chances we need to take.

I never thought I'd say it but I do like a lot of things about Cleveland over DC -- I like the nonexistence of the Beltway, the lack of seething crowds of tourists, and the fact that I rarely if ever meet anyone who actually goes to a bar or restaurant after work still wearing a freaking tie and plastic ID badge in order to assert their social status.

But mainly I simply like that it's different, and that by being different it's allowed me space to be different -- to look at all the things I was doing and the limitations on myself I was unconsciously accepting beforehand and seriously ask myself what about myself I wanted to change.

And for that opportunity, I will always be grateful, even if the city does smell kind of funny.

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