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The Cards of Life

by 'Mean' Mike Duffau (writer), I'm the boss!, April 16, 2008

Credit:

The cards of life.

I remember when Ed Attanasio wrote that article called '12-21-12'. That article has always haunted me because it touched me in a way that I don't know really how to explain it. It makes me feel serene, and then I think about my life in the past when I was growing up to the present. It's like I'm in my death-bed recalling my life experiences with moments before my last breath. All the memories come to me in a flash and I would remember things that I couldn't remember when I was young and fiesty. Ever since I was a little kid, the thought of the end of the world always bothered me. "I will never live long enough to become something great!". I couldn't share these feelings with anyone at that time because it was too deep for a little punk like me, and nobody was going to take me seriously. So I dealt with it the best that I could, and still... Dealing with it.

I remember when certain things in my life that came to me like opportunities, and being young and not knowing with what I know now, I didn't follow though. I believe they were opportunities because when I look back at things and if I would've follow through on them, my life would've been different. I think I would've been something great! I would've been somebody that people can look up to in a positive way. I could've had the respect as if I was a King.

The year was 1988 and I was 15 years old and my brother was 26 years old at the time. I don't know how it all started but as soon as I turned fifteen, my brother felt like it was suppose to be a turning point in my life. I believed him coming from someone who already doubled my age. We began to do roadwork, which is boxing terminology for jogging or running. We would jog down this one street which seems to go on forever. We reached the dead-end and jogged back. This would prepare my lungs for better stamina. I'd be so winded afterwards and I could feel that burn in my gut. I was tired but it was a good tired. In my brother's garage he had set-up a speed bag area in one corner. He'd had me hit that thing until my arms would fall off. He was the first person to show me how to hit it with timing, and with more practice it would build up to a rhythm. I really enjoyed hitting the speed bag and still do today. There was also a weight bench and I would lift weights, and I would work up a good sweat. I don't remember how long this training regimen lasted and we've been a fan of boxing ever since I could remember. My brother used to take me to the movies and he told told me that there is this new one about boxing that just came out. For some reason I didn't want to go. I should have gone! The movie that my brother wanted to take me was Raging Bull back in 1980. I didn't get into LaMotta till a few years later. Still, I should have gone with my brother to see it. Now, that I think about it... He was begging me to go, but I would budge. That movie would have changed my life and I would have pursued boxing more seriously. I would've started to train at 10 years old if I knew then what it all meant. I was too young to have any regrets.

The training with my brother ended maybe six or seven months later after all that hard work and by then my lungs were developing. I wasn't getting tired quickly. I was in pretty good condition, but like that dead-end sign I used to see I would turn around and start all over again. Again, I was too young to think about regrets. Every now and then, I'd go to my brother's garage and smack the bag around a little and lift some weights, but I didn't work up a sweat like I used to. And just like that... I quit! I just didn't think about it. It didn't serve a purpose anymore.

During that time I didn't think about the end of the world! I naturally felt invincible. With a few street fights here and there and nobody really hurt me, it was just an ego boost. In the back of my mind the thought the end would bother me. If I was still alive the next day, I'd just move on.

Two years later I would get my first job at the nearby Albertson's bagging groceries, and soon after a series of dead-end jobs would follow till this day. I always think about that dead-end sign while doing the roadwork with my brother. Turn back and start over.

I was about 24 years old when I thought about acting. I was at some job doing work in a printing factory when that thought hit my mind. At that time I was studying films of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Marlon Brando. I was just doing it for kicks because I really enjoyed it. Through the Arts Council I found an acting class that was near my house. I looked them up and I joined. I had some good days and some off days, but I remember the teacher would tell me that I HAVE TALENT! Hearing that a few times and especially from the other people in the class, I'd thought I really had a chance to be an actor. A couple of years later I just gave my two-weeks notice and packed my Honda CRX with whatever essentials I could think of and drove to Los Angeles. This was 1999.

I'm still here! I've done a gang of extra work to get my feet wet of what it's like being on set, whether it be in a studio or on location. Extra work is like a dead-in job. I wasn't getting anywhere with it. I've joined a few acting classes out here and did a lot of theatre work and it's just like with boxing. You send action to the other guy as if you're throwing a punch, and receive action as if you're getting hit, react to it then adjust and send back. I've always gotten good feedback from people after a show. It was great! Too much of it gets boring and you got to move on. I've had some speaking roles here and there on film and television, but nothing to brag about. It just didn't seem to get me anywhere like my teacher in Florida who had hopes for me said I would. I didn't connect well with industry people because they would promise me something then not follow through and that's been happening ever since I been pursuing the acting gig. I don't remember when my last gig was? It was a few years ago for sure and I quit taking the acting classes because I was making somebody else rich. I recently believe that life's dead-end sign came to me and It's time to turn back and start over.

I dabbled with writing since High School, but nothing serious. I would write poems and journals, things like that. I kept it a secret because I didn't want people to think I was a sissy. When I got to Junior College I submitted one of my poems to the school's writing contest and the winners would have their poems published in some yearly book event or something to that nature. I didn't get published. It bummed me out and also I was having problems with the reading class that I had to take. I was put on academic probation until I past the reading class. I told them to stick it! I quit! I never went back to school again.

I've been writing journals since living in Los Angeles off and on but that's just to keep the chops up. Now that I'm a little older and maybe a little wiser I really think about when the end of the world would come, because I don't ever want that to happen. I haven't made my mark yet when I have something that people will remember me by. I feel that I need to accomplish something great that stands apart from the other guy, then I can go.

I've taken writing more seriously now and I like to see my work published in books or magazines around the world. Maybe have the chance to sell a few screenplays. That hasn't happened and I don't know if politics are involved. Being published on the internet seems like a pretty good start and that's how I came across with this Broowaha gig. It's been pretty good to me so far. Just as long as there is no politics involved, I'll stick with it. I don't know what it can lead me to, but I hope it's a promising writing gig that I can make a decent living off of. So I can tell my job to stick it!

In 2002, I picked up boxing again at age 29 and haven't left it. I might do some amateur shows when my trainer feels I'm ready. I'm too old for a career in boxing but I can still do it for the fun of it. If I had stuck with it when I was fifteen I may have been a great pro-fighter. I probably would have fought for a world title and become the light heavyweight champion. Today, I would've been retired and signing autographs. I would have like that better. Eventually, I would discover Broowaha and begin on my new career as a writer if that's what's in store for me.

I can't escape how I feel about the end of the world but now when I look back as I'm doing my roadwork with my brother I don't see the dead-end sign like I used to. And hope to keep writing long enough to make my mark before the end of the world does come. One day I'd like to say that "I lived long enough and admit that I did something great!"



About the Writer

'Mean' Mike Duffau is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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11 comments on The Cards of Life

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By Lila M. on April 17, 2008 at 03:55 pm

Nice piece, incredibly geniune.  A lot of people go through these same emotions you describe, but are so afraid to reveal them.  You’ve gone a step further and talked about it in a public forum.   You are one of the bravest people I’ve ever read.   It was a refreshing read, almost like a short story or a chapter in a book, hopefully you’ll pursue something like that with this piece further.      

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By Venditto on April 17, 2008 at 05:26 pm

sweet stuff Mike.

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By 'Mean' Mike Duffau on April 17, 2008 at 05:45 pm

ED: heartfelt huh? thanks for the kind words and keep inspiring me!

J/T: good to hear from you and thank you!

Lila M: i got nothing to lose by telling these stories. i don't mind putting myself out there. i'm glad youd dig it!

Venditto: thank you, champ!

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By superhottie on April 25, 2008 at 01:38 am

you're a great writer. keep it up!

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By 'Mean' Mike Duffau on May 06, 2008 at 08:46 pm

superhottie: thank you, i will keep punchin'!

craig b: thanks for lookin' out!

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By L DeSilva-Johnson on May 11, 2008 at 01:14 am

This is wonderful, pure, personal journalism, and refreshing to read on hear. Knock em out of the park, champ. Out of the park. Thank you.

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By L DeSilva-Johnson on May 11, 2008 at 01:14 am

dur. on here.

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By Edward on May 11, 2008 at 01:58 pm

You're a braver man that me.  Regrets'll eat you alive champ: "I believe they were opportunities because when I look back at things and if I would've follow through on them, my life would've been different."  Trust me, I know.  Good story though.  I just know there's an Edward R. Murrow saying about it.

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By Edward on May 11, 2008 at 02:03 pm
You're a wise champ!! Here's an Edward R. Murrow saying: "Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar."
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By icanluvulongtime on May 24, 2008 at 06:09 am

Mike, I thought your talent was in interviewing but I really liked this because you reveal thoughts and feelings that have been unshared until now.  Liked hearing your happy memories with your brother.  You know, it has been said to never regret anything you did because at one time it was exactly what you wanted.  I don't think that there are "if onlys" in God's universe.  Each experience takes us on a journey and creates another piece of who we are.  And that needs to be good enough, because....  it contributes to the whole person we become.  I think, (just my opinion), that the sum total of who YOU are/what you become still has some time to churn, and continue to grow into an interesting and insightful person with a very unique perspective.  I really enjoy your work.

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By 'Mean' Mike Duffau on May 27, 2008 at 05:08 pm

l desilva-johnson: thanks for the cheer!! i still dont know what 'dur' means?

edward: you have a way with words and thanks for the advice.

mark the champ: what are you doing up so early to post this great comment of yours? youre one of the best there is with your sincerity.

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