A Decade of 10Q: 2010 – 2019

A Decade of 10Q

Now that we’re in a new decade, it’s time to look back. Thankfully, I’ve got the personal archives of 10Q to help discover what was happening in my life a decade ago. 

If you’re not familiar with 10Q, it’s a website/movement/practice where every day, for 10 days, you’re emailed a question. Ten days, ten different questions. The answers are then sent to a secure online vault. One year later, your answers are unlocked and returned and the process begins anew. 10Q is a project of Reboot, an arts and culture non-profit that reimagines and reinforces Jewish thought and traditions.

If you haven’t participated, you should. It’s free and provides a lot in terms of capturing a slice of your life in time. 

Rather than share all 10 years worth of answers — it’s 96 pages of printed text — I’m sharing answers and years chronologically. There are 10 answers for 10 questions spread across 10 years. Got it? Good. Let’s go!

2010 – Day 1: Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

The past year has been marked with subtle realizations regarding the world and myself.

Turning 25. My 25th birthday was less a celebration and more a moment of reflection with family. Thinking about the 24 years I’ve lived, what I’ve done, and where I want to go caused me more concern than celebration. Part of me finally realized that I’m not getting any younger. Another part realized that I am the only person that can cause my dreams to become a reality.

The relationship I was in ended in June after I realized we were each wasting the others time. She doesn’t want children, I do. If after a year’s time we can’t see eye-to-eye on such a crucial issue, why are we together?

In November I was given the opportunity to co-teach a film acting class. While I had considered teaching children in the past it wasn’t until I was placed in front of my students that I realized how much passion I have for sharing information that’s become second nature. I love teaching and look for more opportunities to share my passions with others.

2011 – Day 2: Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?

If I could do it over again, I wouldn’t have moved out of the condo.

In late 2010 I was terrified and ashamed about the impending “foreclosure.” I reasoned that if I could be approved for a loan modification through President Obama’s Home Loan Modification Act I would have a reduced mortgage payment. With a reduced mortgage payment I would be able to rent out the condo and set the rental rate high enough to cover the mortgage and the home owner’s association fee. I began the underwriting process in November 2010. It wasn’t until June 2011 when the Wells Fargo underwriters finally reached a decision on the file.

When I initially began the underwriting process I was behind on my mortgage by a month and a half and owed the home owner’s association nearly two-thousand dollars. I turned to my parents for help. After a lengthly discussion with both Mom and Dad, they agreed to loan me $6,000 to cover my expenses. I was 25 years old.

I’m 26 now and have finally begun to repay the loan incrementally. It will likely take nine years until they’re paid back. I don’t want to ever borrow money from them again. I appreciate knowing that I can come to them with my problems, but I’m an adult now. These problems are mine.

I wish I hadn’t borrowed that money from my parents to “save” the condo that now, a year later, is now up for bid at a Sheriff’s sale.

I’m proud that I auditioned at the Twin Cities Unified Theatre Audition. For years I had put so much stress and pressure into those auditions that I just didn’t audition. Fear froze me and I refused to audition with a piece I hadn’t workshopped or felt 100% comfortable in.

Even all these months later, when I go back and think about my monologue – it wasn’t perfect, but it was better than nothing. Next year I’d like to audition again. Perhaps do two monologues, maybe a song. Or not, I don’t know. My career depends on auditioning, so I’m gonna keep doing it…

I’m also proud that I’ve begun repaying my parents. It’s a long road ahead, but every epic journey just begins with a simple step.

2012 – Day 3: Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

In mid-July shortly before 2AM I was at a bar drinking with Ryan. We were at Muddy Waters on the patio. It was a relaxed moment. My phone rang. It was my brother, Daniel. Knowing my brother there were only two reasons for his call: 1) he was driving his big-rig and needed company to stay awake, or 2) something terrible happened.

When I answered the phone call first thing I heard was my brother crying, “Mike, I need you! If I’ve ever needed you before in my life I need you now!” Something terrible happened.

At first I thought my brother had been in a car accident. He was so upset I couldn’t tell at first what the problem was.

The short story is that my brother needed his spare keys.

The long story is that my brother and his friends were camping in Wisconsin along the Apple River and after a long day of drinking frustrations escalated shortly after 11PM and he needed an exit strategy. Apparently my brother attempted to leave the campground, however, a woman climbed into the cab of his pick-up and he pushed her out.

A young man saw my brother push the woman out of the pick-up and angrily approached my brother. Then the young man’s friends gathered around my brother and my brother was feeling cornered.

Just then, the wife of the couple my brother was rooming with, told everyone to leave Daniel alone, but her husband saw his wife in the middle of all those guys and assumed my brother was getting his wife involved in a fight. So the husband started fighting with my brother.

The police were called.

The police broke up the fight and told my brother to “sleep it off” in the cab of his truck. However, they also confiscated his keys. My brother wasn’t allowed to access the cabin he paid for and wasn’t allowed to leave the campground on his own.

So he called me.

Ryan and I cabbed home from the bar. I borrowed Ryan’s car and drove to my brother’s house 40 miles west of Minneapolis, retrieved his spare set of truck keys and drove back to the Twin Cities and onward to Sommerset, Wisconsin. For more than an hour I spoke to my brother on the phone calming him down and listening to him as he vented.

It scared me to hear my brother so upset. Not just angry, but deeply saddened — like he didn’t have a friend in the whole world. Like I told him on the phone and like I know in my heart — my brother was my first friend and he will always be my best friend. We may not always get along or agree with one another, but we love each other and there isn’t much we wouldn’t do for each other.

I arrived in Wisconsin shortly after 4:30AM. We talked and he asked if I’d go get his stuff from the cabin. So I drove down to the cabin, snuck in and retrieved his most precious belongings: a cooler full of beer.

Afterward we went to a deserted Perkins. Then Daniel farted in the booth and it smelled like he shit his pants. We laughed for a long time in that empty dining room.

I love that guy.

2013 – Day 4: Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

(10Q for 2013 was not completed due to a crisis happening with a loved one in Zibo, Shandong, China.)

2014 – Day 5: Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

I am so thankful for the spiritual connection K and I share.

When we were separated during the 2013 winter/spring/summer for five months we emailed everyday, multiple times a day. We chatted on Skype for hours each day. We were separate, but together — or working on growing together. During that time we often talked about astral projecting ourselves across the world to snuggle in bed.

From September 17 – October 2 we were a part. I was in America. She was in China. And it was difficult. But there were so many moments where I felt her spirit with me. I felt her presence.

At Courtney and MJ’s wedding — a bit after midnight, long after most wedding guests called it a night — I was standing looking up at the thousands of twinkling stars in the night sky. I felt K’s love. I felt her presence.

And I thanked God, the Holy Wow. Thank you for You. Thank you for K. Thank you for allowing our souls to have found each other. Thank you for all the heavens above. Thank you for allowing me to look up and see her. Thank you for helping us not feel so alone. Thank you for helping us and working on us and being with us through all we’ve struggled with. Thank you for being ever present.

If I hadn’t gone to China, I wouldn’t have noticed all the natural beauty of where I grew up. Realizing this was its own nugget of gold. Things seemed to click a bit more. The “why” about why I needed China made sense. I needed China to find K. I needed China to appreciate home. These were moments that rocked me, slapped me on the ass, and helped me.

Performing Courtney and MJ’s wedding ceremony was another moment of grace. Another spiritual experience shared intimately on a hill on a beautiful day overlooking Mud Lake.

Courtney and MJ didn’t want a religious ceremony, but when you look at the text of the service and the setting, it was probably more religious than some church weddings. It was a beautiful day and the ceremony really came together and seemed to fit the surrounding and couple. I am honored to have been asked — despite the distance traveled to be at the wedding and being away from my wife — and look forward to helping other couples begin their own spiritual journey in marriage.

2015 – Day 6: Describe one thing you’d like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?

Booking of the China Show on a college campus.

If I can get one, I can get two.

If I can do 12 a month, I could do 120 a year. That would make me a full-time artist and enable me to provide for K and start a family.

2016 – Day 7: How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

Be a warrior for love. -A

Tackle the motherfuckingshit out of your life. -A

Quitting smoking. Riding the bike again. Writing. Creating. Painting. Picture taking. Hanging prints.

Make Cool Shit.

2017 – Day 8: Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in the coming year?

Owning a dog.

Storytelling.

2018 – Day 9: What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

Being alone. Not capable of holding down a relationship with someone who is kind to me. Not progressing the relationship, not getting married, not starting a family.

These things limit me by placing the focus outward rather than inward. I should be looking inside myself first and finding and learning and knowing that I am enough. For myself. For others. Start with what I have — me — and be happy and confident with it. I am amazing. Yes, a work in progress, but I deserve a relationship that brings both of us joy — and not constant pain — and ultimately, a child or children.

The only way I can let go of this fear is to be alone. I am alone right now. I am not going to relationship-hop. Date, maybe, sure. But not from one to the next. Sammi and Dan both told me I need to be alone for 3 months. Focus on me and my inner world/life. Get comfortable with myself.

And when it’s the right time, someone special will find me and I’ll be ready.

2019 – Day 10: When September 2020 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you’ll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you’re at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?

I hope I feel somewhat accomplished. I’m tired now. It’s 11PM on October 13th. Hopefully next year I’ll be like, “Holy wow, there’s been a lot of growth since then. I’m proud of you, me.”

I hope my house is more put together. The trim is up and the walls are painted and the kitchens been updated and the basement sealed and there’s money in the bank and the backyard is gorgeous and —

I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

I hope I’m doing something I love which helps make the world better and brings joy to other people.

YOUR THOUGHTS