Creativity & Paying the Bills: Dave Rhodes Interview

Far too many people take themselves too seriously (I should say ourselves and include me in that), so it’s a good thing that people like Dave Rhodes (aka, the Rhodester) is out there keeping it funny. Dave can always be counted on for coming up with the left field response to Tweets and blog posts. Of course I just had to find out his take on Someday Syndrome – and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Enjoy!

Dave RhodesWho: Dave Rhodes of The RhodesTer Chronicles, Shadow of a Troubadour and Armchair Paparazzi.
Dave is an unemployed humorist currently living in the desert and plucking out those pesky alien implants while seeking the meaning of life but trying not to bring the word “existentialism” into it, because it’s too long and he gets bored easily. Like you’re starting to already.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
Gosh, I’ve had so many of those moments, I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite. I wouldn’t want all the others to feel bad. I’ll go with the incident from a few years back wherein I was fired from a dead-end job that had me working too many hours anyway, and I was just in it for the money. The boss fabricated a reason for dismissal and actually forged my signature when I refused to sign it, so that I’d be denied unemployment benefits. That was rather depressing, and I harbored some anger toward him for a while. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was the kick-in-the-pants I needed to quit working 13-hours a day for them and move on, otherwise I might still be there. So I took off the trench coat, put down the AK-47 and proceeded with the rest of my life. I’m speaking metaphorically here, so please don’t call the cops.. or a shrink.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
When I was really angry, all I could think about – for a very short while – was stalking that boss and doing something to make him extremely miserable. But that’s not me – I’m passionately non-violent and not in the least bit confrontational – so I had to come to grips with these feelings and let them go. I think today I’d buy him a beer and thank him for helping me move on, although I wouldn’t buy him a good beer.. just a can of Budweiser or something.. because I’m still a little pissed off.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I have to credit my wife of almost 19 years (June 2nd, hint hint.. we need new towels) Dorian, who often brings a rationality to the table that I overlook. I’ll be putting out all the fluffy stuff – the cupcakes, candy, soda and so on – and there she is with her rationality, serving it up on a big old silver platter. It’s always the best thing for me and there when I need it, plus it’s filling and nutritious.

It seems that whenever I have a silly idea, like stalking the boss I mentioned and lighting his hair on fire, she talks me out of it by using common sense. She’ll say things like, “They’ll just call the fire department and have you reported for boss-arson and you’ll go to jail, then who’s going to make me tea in the evenings? Michael T. Weiss, that’s who, Buster! So if you want to keep Michael employed in the entertainment business rather than being my man-slave, you’ll leave that horrible boss dude alone and just get on with your life.”

By the way, Michael T. Weiss is this really handsome actor she likes. I would have used someone who’s a little more well known like George Clooney, or a new current favorite, Jon Hamm from “Mad Men,” but she’s honestly not that into either of them.

Oh, and I digress a lot. We’re working on that.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
With the boss-arson incident, like so many others, I just had to come to the rational conclusion that it’s futile to harbor resentment and that moving on and hopefully up is the best thing to do. I moved on but I have yet to move up. I think. The problem is that people define “moving up” differently because it’s really a matter of perspective. I know a guy who sleeps in a cave somewhere out here in the desert (he’s never invited me over for a visit, thank goodness) and he plays his guitar in front of Target for handouts. To him, moving up is having enough to get a motel room at the end of the week and thus a shower. Whenever I’m standing close enough to have a chat with him I’m always hoping he’ll achieve that goal.

I know someone else who drives a Mercedes, and his idea of moving up is to eventually trade-in his CL-Class coupe for a current model year SLR-McLaren Class Roadster. That, and the eventual acquisition of half the state of California in real estate holdings.

I like the company of the cave-dwelling, guitar-playing Troubadour better.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
My entire life has been centered around making people laugh, and I’ve always had something to do with the arts in one form or another. I’m turning fifty in June – just a week after our anniversary – but at least I’ll have new towels to cry on thanks to all of you.

Someday, and hopefully sooner than later, I want to – nay, need to – be published. Truth is I think I’ve been a writer all along, but I’m just now realizing it.

I’d like to have a book out that’s creating a buzz, and to have people asking me when the next one’s due. I want to have someone from the publisher email to ask me to pick up a pound of good coffee for them since Powell’s Books in Seattle is the first stop on the book tour. I figure if Dooce could do it with two kids, two dogs and a husband, I can do it with two cats, no dogs, a wife and a platter of piping-hot rationality.

I’m not seeking fame because that can be kind of a drag, and fortune is a curse. I just want to get a bit of myself out there for whoever is open enough to listen and laugh. Making a moderate living at it wouldn’t be bad either. God, I just KNOW someone on Barbara Walters’ staff is going to find this in a few years and she’ll be throwing it at me when I’m rich and famous. She can be such a bitch.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
When one is inclined toward creativity and the arts, there is this never-ending struggle to actually get the bills paid and eat that conflicts with what one *really* wants to do. I’ve experienced another kick-in-the-pants situation recently in being laid-off from a local hotel where I was employed as a manager-on-duty, which just means you’re the guy people yell at when they have a problem.

This was due entirely to the current economic recession (or so I keep telling myself.) The hotel is basically a ghost town right now, with tumbleweeds blowing through the lobby and a Sergio Leone score playing mournfully in the background. But the boss got me on unemployment and I’m biding my time collecting that nice little check every two weeks while looking for a local job because they say you have to do that or they won’t send you any more checks. Yesterday I applied at a yogurt place where I’d be scooping vanilla and strawberry libation into little cups and sprinkling it with gummi bears for eight-year-olds to get high on. I didn’t get hired, so the store manager must have read my blog.

I’m also writing, and trying to write that book. My unemployment benefits run out in December, so if I’m not gainfully employed or published (or both) by then, you may find me with my Troubadour friend in front of Target, where I’ll be providing rhythm on tambourine. I tried freelancing for a while but I’m terrible at it, which my friend James over at Men With Pens tried to warn me about. I actually landed this job where I’d be writing all of the content for a new website on Rhinoplasty, which is the French word for nose-job, but I quit after one day because all I wanted to do was make jokes about it, like, “why hasn’t someone thought up Rhinoplasty for horses? They’d make a fortune!”

I didn’t say they were good jokes.

The point being, I can write but I have to write for myself, or just go and scoop yogurt. Freelancing, copy-writing and/or writing sales-letters aren’t options for me, because if I have to be bored I’d rather have people around instead of just slaving over a hot keyboard in loneliness and obscurity all day while shorting it out with drool.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Stay true to yourself. Don’t compromise or seek fame and fortune, it’s all just fluff. I haven’t always been broke – I’ve actually had money, but it’s true that it doesn’t bring happiness. When you’re rich you don’t know who your real friends are. I’m lucky in that I can count my real friends on one hand while using the other to sign those unemployment checks.

With all of these “Internet marketers” and “experts” who are popping up everywhere and trying to point you toward wealth, prosperity and abundance, I’d say.. why? What are you hoping to achieve? Security for you and your family? A nicer, bigger place to live? A newer car? None of us are secure.. it’s an illusion, and the Spelling Mansion would be a bitch to clean. And I’m not impressed with the driver of an SLR-McLaren Roadster until he gets his ass out of the car and helps an old lady cross the street.

The greatest time-clock punching job I’ve ever had was as a mime at SeaWorld in San Diego, twenty years and twenty pounds ago. I’d actually punch in, get made-up and do 4-7 shows a day, depending on what day it was, then punch out and go home. I didn’t make a lot of money but I made people laugh, and I’m sure I left behind a few good memories in there somewhere. At the risk of coming off as completely corny, during that time I was the wealthiest I’ve ever been.

I’m at an age now where I’ve realized that I can never be monetarily wealthy, not with a good portion of the world living with starvation and children dying because they don’t have clean water. If I’m ever so fortunate as to make a decent or above-average income again, I’m inclined to only keep that portion we need to get by – the world can have the rest.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for? You might be tempted to provide a cheeky answer, but stop and think a moment about what would really help you.
You might have noticed that I’m not adverse to giving a cheeky answer here and there.

Encouragement goes a long way with me, but only if it’s sincere. I’d ask for blogging support in subscribing, stumbling and otherwise promoting my efforts, but again, only if one wants too.

The RhodesTer Chronicles (My snarky, observational blog that’s kind of like Dave Barry but not really because who likes copy-cats?)

Shadow of a Troubadour (My foray into fiction – humor, drama, mystery, science fiction, fantasy and more, all presented as short stories and serials. There’s plenty there to choose from, but only if you visit a year from now. In other words it’s just getting started. Oh, and it’s all copyrighted so don’t go getting any ideas, buddy.)

Armchair Paparazzi (Celebrity parody because I had to do SOMETHING to counteract blogs like Perezhilton.com and TMZ.com. It’s my view on how we should really see the entertainment industry, at least until the lawyers send me a cease-and-desist.)

It’s a hard thing to ask for encouragement, because it means so much more when unsolicited. It’s like the friends who tell you how great you were on karaoke night when you really sucked, but they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Once in a while I get a note from someone who doesn’t know me, yet tells me they can hardly wait until I get a book out someday, saying that they’d be the first in line to buy a copy. That kind of momentum can carry me through an entire week or more.

I’m also not adverse to criticism, but only if it comes from someone qualified and it’s constructive. A blog comment that’s there just to be spiteful doesn’t do anyone any good, but if a literary agent or someone in publishing were to contact me and say, “You’d do a lot better if you wrote about vampire-nurses from Venus because there’s a really huge market for that right now,” well, that’s something to bank on.

Job offers are welcome too, as long as they don’t involve selling life insurance, identity theft protection or extended auto warranties.

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18 thoughts on “Creativity & Paying the Bills: Dave Rhodes Interview

  1. […] So, here you go.. the RhodesTer Interview. […]

  2. Jenny Ryan says:

    Fun interview-I’m going to check out your blog right now.

    Jenny Ryan´s last blog post..Week In Review

  3. RhodesTer says:

    Thanks Jenny. Drive carefully and don’t forget to tip the waiter.

    RhodesTer´s last blog post..A flaming bag of poop

  4. Great interview! Going to check out the blog now… 🙂

    Positively Present´s last blog post..the power of adversity: a book review

  5. Scott says:

    Good stuff Dave!

    Scott´s last blog post..Fat and Happy

  6. Alex Fayle says:

    @All
    Glad you enjoyed the interview and Dave’s blogs are a blast to read!

  7. RhodesTer says:

    You guys are too much. And Alex is dreamy.

    RhodesTer´s last blog post..A flaming bag of poop

  8. Karen Swim says:

    Alex, this was an excellent interview. Dave floors me with his talent. I envy his ability to inject humor into every situation. He really does have a gift and I am on the sidelines rooting for him to get published and make a living from what is clearly his purpose.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..Breath of Life

  9. Patricia says:

    Dave,
    I know what you mean by encouragement…the best affirmation for me recently was when Alex and Urban Panther wrote entries for my contest..I knew I was going to be ok…
    Job offer….you could write to one of my contests and make $50…cause I bet the judges would like your humor! Not a lot of $ but something!

    Alex and Dave,
    I really enjoyed the interview and it tweaked a couple of ideas for me and heaven knows I need to lighten up

    Off to check out the blogs
    thank you

    Patricia´s last blog post..I Love Flowers

  10. RhodesTer says:

    Will do Patricia, thanks! If’n I get me fifty dollars I kin marry Ado Annie, cuz her PA said so!

    RhodesTer´s last blog post..A flaming bag of poop

  11. Alex Fayle says:

    I’m dreamy! Yay! 😉

    @Karen
    Dave’s humour abilities are fantastic!

    @Patricia
    Yes, Dave should enter – his story about Coffee Sister would be a great read I’m sure!

  12. RhodesTer says:

    I’ve seen Karen rooting from the sidelines – she looks cute in that little cheerleader skirt.

    RhodesTer´s last blog post..“Cool”

  13. Karen Swim says:

    lol, @Dave you continually warm my heart! I am doing an extra set of lunges today just cuz, you are such a love! Whoo hoo, shaking my pom-poms!

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..Down the Rabbit Hole and into the Archives

  14. Dare I admit I was a cheerleader?! Before you spend too much time trying to picture that tho’, rest assured it was only in 8th grade & simply because it got me out of P.E. ^_^

    @Alex – Dave doesn’t tell enough stories about me, does he? ~_^ Sooo, that‘s the form your encouragement takes!? Good thing I’m impossible to embarrass. Of course, I may get so impressed w/myself I start expecting him to wait on me hand &.. oh, wait.. he already does. 0_0

    (|_|*cheers*|_|)
    “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me, and I may be forced to love you.” – William Arthur Ward

    Dorian aka coffeesister |_|)´s last blog post..YOU so silly!

  15. Alex Fayle says:

    @Dorian
    Dave’s obvious adoration of you is so delightful it could melt the heart of even the Abominable Snowman! (Great quote, btw)

  16. Karen Putz says:

    Wow, this is the first blog entry I’ve read since I started my job and what a great read. Dave and Alex always brighten my day on Twitter (and yes, Alex is dreamy but Dave is studly).

    I have no doubt I’ll be reading books authored by both of you.

    Karen Putz´s last blog post..Deaf Nation and SOBCon’09

  17. Alex Fayle says:

    Welcome back Karen! I missed you!

  18. […] So, what I’m getting at here (almost 500 words in) is that I’m going to write, and a lot. I really have no choice. That makes it sound fatalistic, like I don’t care for it or something, but that’s not the case. I simply mean I’m going to freelance like crazy, despite what I said in the interview at Someday Syndrome. […]

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