47 I Have Been Many Things



When I was four or maybe five I lived across the street from a park in LA. I don’t remember much about it except that it had a massive iron rocket ship and it was the location of my first bee sting. It was also a popular filming location.

So one day, filled with all the gumption of a cocky little fucker who believed the world really was mine, I interrupted the filming of something that had a bunch of kids and asked the director if I could be in whatever it was he was filming. 

He said, “no.” 

He also told me I needed parental permission to be in anything so, I walked across the street and interrupted my dad’s Dodger game. 

Dad thought I was full of shit. I assured him that my shit was in the toilet, flushed just like I was taught. 

Eventually, I was able to pry him from his recliner and drag him to meet the director. 

I have no idea what they discussed, I just know that two weeks later I was filming a commercial for back to school clothes. 

I was officially an actor.

I did a couple of commercials, some background work, then… well, I really don’t know what happened to my fledgling acting career.

When I was thirteen I wanted a guitar because I was going to be Eric Clapton. So, my Uncle Charlie bought me a nylon acoustic and I took guitar as a freshman (California public schools, bitches). I got a D. But I knew my scales and had long hair so I was asked to play bass in a metal band. 

Did you know that there are some chicks who cannot tell the difference between a bass and a guitar? They just know you were on stage “playing guitar” and will let you do stuff to them? Even played for a time in the Air Force. Didn’t pay much, but it was fun and the drinks were always free.

For years I did comedy. Like, on stage. For money. It was weird to me to get paid to do the thing that so often got me talked to by H.R. 

In between all of that I have had an assortment of adult jobs. Clerked for various law firms, worked in libraries, built a remote monitoring system for a chain of grocery stores. I even worked for National Geographic. And yes, I served my country in a couple of war torn countries. Got paid to write a few things here and there. Hell, I even wrote a screenplay (if you want to buy it, let me know). 

All of it paid the bills and got me experience I still lean on. Some of it paid well. Some of it not so much.

But I have never had a career in the traditional sense. Never wanted to be any one thing when I grow up.

I started my own company in January of this year and I have had to shut it down as I prepare to move to Paris in April of next year where I will have to start all over again. 

I do have a point. 

The least interesting thing about me, you, any of us, is what we do for a living. 

I mean, unless you’re a rock star or a thespian on the big screen.

That’s not to say that what any of us do is not important. Every single person who wakes up every morning and contributes to society is doing something important – whether you are mopping floors or saving lives. And, honestly, cleaning is every bit as paramount to saving lives as doctoring. 

My point, dear reader, is that you do not have to be defined by your jobby-job. If you are as fortunate as I have been and can afford to be many things, do it. If you are on the cusp of turning 50 and you want to try going back to school and get that English Lit degree so you can try your hand at writing, do it. If you want to take up and instrument and start a band with your girlfriends, do it. You want to get on stage at the local open mic and try to sling some jokes, get your ass up there.

Being any number of things is every bit as valid as, say, traveling is. It allows you to lean in and truly experience being alive. And isn’t that really what life is for?

Pay your bills, handle your business by all means.

But you are so much more than that. You’re not crazy for thinking, “can I really…?” 

Fuck yes you can. 

Whether you want to design the sets, work the lights, or be front and center; this life is your stage, too.

Copyright 2022 Rudy Martinez
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