A New Adventure

It all began two years ago after a sudden, blindsiding breakup that shattered me into a thousand pieces and made just want to go to sleep and never wake up again. In an effort to find a more positive channel for that energy, I had the desperate desire to “Run away and join the circus” as they say. Join up with a touring band or some touring play. Something to get me away from my life, out of my mind and out of this city whose every inch was supersaturated with associations and memories. On a whim, I looked at jobs on Carnival Cruises. There was an opening for an “Ensemble Guitarist” to play with the house rock band. I culled together whatever crappy videos I could find of me playing guitar live with bands and cobbled together a demo. I submitted all my materials and the website said I should hear back within 90 days. 90 days cam and went so I assumed that was the end of it.

Then months later, I had a response. For round 2 they wanted me to video myself play guitar to the backing tracks they sent me for “Le Freak,” “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” I did so and submitted those along with an automated video interview where I just recorded answers to questions on my webcam. More months went by. I got another email now wanting me to take the “sight reading” portion of the interview. Gulp. I don’t sight read. Or really read music much at all. I can read music very slowly but I learn everything by ear. If I hear something I can generally play it very quickly. Well luckily for me, this “sight reading” test, wasn’t really “sight reading.” I downloaded the music I was supposed to “sight read” but then could take as long as I wanted with it. I’d heard that there wasn’t really much sight reading in this position so I hoped I could still do the job despite that not really being a skill I had. The emails also said there was no deadline and that you could do the interview at your convenience. Well, apparently there was a silent, invisible “within reason” appended to that because when I finally got back to tackling this beast many months later, my application had expired and I was told there was no way to resume it. I’d have to start from scratch again.

I was little disappointed in myself for procrastinating so badly, but decided it was actually for the best, as now I could watch for the “Acoustic Soloist” position instead which would pay more and would mean that I had my own cabin instead of sharing with someone else. And I’d be a solo acoustic act, which would be fun. Eventually that position opened up so I went to putting my solo acoustic demo together from the videos I had online, though they weren’t really appropriate as they were generally me solo in my room doing songs and not live performances with an audience which is more what they wanted, but I hoped my talent would shine through. By the time I went to submit, the position had closed again.

So again, I went to checking the listings periodically again. The next appropriate position that opened up was “Rock Band Vocalist.” A male and a female singer front a 4 piece cover band (the one I initially would have been playing guitar for had I got that position). So once again, I went to putting together demo as quickly as possible and submitted. And again, many months went by before I received an email inviting me to the second round, once again consisting of an automated recorded webcam interview, as well as 4 backing tracks I was supposed to sing along with and record via video. You can see those videos here if you like. When I was initially learning and practicing the songs, I noted how they were all fairly challenging. I figured they did that thinking “Well if someone can handle these four, they can handle the rest of the set.” One Saturday, I tried to record them but after learning and practicing all day, I was pretty vocally fatigued after the first tune, so I decided to put it off to another day so I can learn them more thoroughly first and then just record them in one day later hopefully. Strangely I also find that I can sing much better, higher, and longer live with a band, but in this solo recording at home scenario, I get all in my head and everything seems more difficult somehow and notes that I could normally hit with ease, seem shaky. I took a couple of voice lessons on a whim after a friend randomly posted recommending Megan Sherrod. I’d been singing professionally for 30 years but I knew I had some bad habits and no matter how long you’ve been doing something, you can always learn and better your craft. Megan was awesome, and I felt like a total newbie tearing everything back down to basics like I was re-learning to walk. I only got to take two lessons before I completed my audition, as I really wanted to get it done.

I uploaded the videos and all the rest of the video interview, and figured, like every other step, I’d probably not hear anything for months. 15 hours later I had a contract offer via email. I was in shock. Now it was real. Two years later, here was this opportunity to “Run away and join the circus.” I immediate set in motion trying to get all my affairs in order. There was much to do. Firstly, I had the rare animal that is a steady acting gig. I was the Lead Actor/Director/Stage Manager for the Suicide Prevention program at Fort Hood every Wednesday. As an actor this is like a minor lottery win. I play in 8 bands, 6 of which are fairly active and had gigs on the calendar. I have directors and theatre troupes who contact me directly to offer me cool roles and opportunities. I have an agent who submits me for film, commercial, and television work. I did ask Carnival is there was perhaps a later contract I might take so I could fulfill all the various things I had on the calendar through the end of the year, but they couldn’t offer me anything specific, just keep me in the “talent pool” for future contracts that might come up, so I figured I better take the “bird in the hand.” I set things in motion and sent several difficult emails. As a freelancer, I’ve spent years growing roots, expanding my network, building a professional reputation, and now I’d be leaving that all behind (at least temporarily). I feared losing my momentum. That there would be nothing for me when I came back as the world would have moved on and forgotten about me. I hated leaving people high and dry as I take pride in my work ethic and professionalism and when I make a commitment, I take that very seriously. But I felt like I had to take this opportunity for so many reasons.

Firstly it was just an amazing opportunity. I’d be making a very nice living as a singer. Doing one of the things I love, for an actual good, steady paycheck. That’s like a major lottery win. This would be chance to finally knock a huge chunk off my credit card debt that’s been looming over me for as long as I can remember. Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to make a “living” through my various and many irons in many different fires without a day job for many years now, but not enough to hammer that debt down. I feel I need a spiritual reboot. I’d be living on a ship (vocalists also get their own single cabins I found out, much to my surprise and extreme happiness), with no food expenses (one of my biggest expenses). No constant hustling and wondering where my next audition, gig, job would come from. I could just turn off my mind, sing to packed houses 6 nights a week, eat for free, see ports of call, continue my health goals with the aid of the gym on board, and hopefully meet all kinds of new people. I’d be pushed outside my comfort zone and routines in a way that I think will be good for me. And who knows what opportunities could come my way during this adventure? It just seemed like something I could not say “No” to. Something that I need and will indeed help me grow and heal and come out of it a much deeper, better, more textured and layered person.

Also, when I really analyzed all the things I was leaving behind, as much as I love them and have great gratitude for them, none of them were anything I should be basing life decisions upon. Most of them will most likely never be anything more than they are now. That’s not an insult, that’s just their nature. Of course, they could lead to other things, but in and of themselves, they most likely will not ever grow in any way. The money hasn’t changed. The venues haven’t really changed. And like pretty much everything in life, they all had their own set of cons along with the pros. I tend to be a very nostalgic, sentimental creature of habit, so it was definitely hard to let go of all these things, even temporarily. But when I really took a hard look at everything, I knew I had to go on this journey.

It’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s likely the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m trying to just be present, grateful, and to just focus on all the positives, which are numerous. I will miss you all, I will miss my bands, I will miss acting, I will miss nature, I am almost depressed by the fact that I will literally miss all the good weather. I will leave just before it’s gets cool and come back just when it’s getting hot again and that really hurts me. I don’t know what the future holds. So I will try to simply enjoy my present and let go of the pain of the past and the fears about the future. I will use my time to read, sing, play guitar, meditate, and find other ways to better myself. There’s a Learning Center on the ship where you can learn languages or study other things. I will have internet to some degree though it may be painfully slow at times and I do have to pay (a discounted rate) for it, so I won’t be completely off the grid or anything.

My apologies to anyone I disappointed or had to bail on. Hopefully you all know me well enough to know that is not my way and this is truly an exceptional circumstance. And there is never a “good” time. There’s never a period where I just have nothing on the calendar for 6 months. I’m still in shock. There is still much to do (Medical exam, dental exam) before I go to Florida for a month for rehearsals 6 days a week before shipping out on the Carnival ship “Liberty”, sailing from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas which will be my home for six months. I’ve collected a ton of names who want me to send postcards (if you would like one, add your name and address here). I don’t think it will seem real until I’m there. I’m a believer in surrendering to the universe and letting it take you where it will. And this process has demonstrated that for me. Out of the 3 positions I applied for, I think I ended up with possibly the best one. I’ve never sung 6 nights a week so I’m hoping my voice holds up. I’m studying better habits and routines for voice health.

As Buckaroo Banzai says, “No matter where you go, there you are.” I don’t know where I’m going, but here I come.

Dream 44

In last night’s dream I was staying at my long time friend, Andy Hunter’s house (a fictional dream house in a fictional dream timeline that doesn’t necessarily match current life details in way). A bunch of us were going to be playing some tabeltop RPG in a little bit so we were just killing time. Andy had some kind of model clamp contraption that had multiple little arms and clamps to hold pieces for gluing and painting and such, and was constructing a cool, small crossbow type thing (probably 4 inches) for his not so miniature mini to represent his character, totally from scratch from various pieces of stuff he had and was re-purposing.

There’s a part of the dream that’s fuzzy for me now, but I know that I had a borrowed car and for some reason was going to try and find/move it. I was clicking the key fob to make the alarm beep so I could find it. I was starting to get worried someone had stolen it, then finally there was a beep. But then that car reversed and drove off. It had just been a coincidental beep. I think I eventually found the car to my relief.

Later I was in the spare bedroom where I was staying, just laying down for a bit. My phone rang. It was my ex who hasn’t spoken to me for a long time. My heart jumped. I answered. She said something but I didn’t catch the last part so I said, “Sorry, I didn’t get that last part.” She said ti again, but again, I didn’t catch it and told her so. There was a long silence. I asked if she was still there. She was. More silence. I asked if she was just silent because she was thinking, and she said yes. So we sat om the phone in silence. It was both a silence filled with some tension, wondering why she had called, but also just a comfortable silence, just being. I got out of bed to do a few things, still on the phone in silence. I had to go to the bathroom. I was just in my underwear, and the bathroom was right next to Andy’s sister’s room (fictional dream sister, not his actual sister). I didn’t feel like getting dressed so I just dashed into the bathroom. Still on the phone in silence. Then I wanted to get back to my room, but I could see the shadow of his sister folding laundry. I waited until it seemed like she was out of her door way and dashed back to my room. Still silently on the phone. The game would be starting soon. There was so much I wanted to say, but we just sat on the phone with each other in silence.

Then I woke up.

Dream 43

If you know me you probably know I have a collection of great coats. In addition, I feel this dream is RIFE with psychological layers. Like a psychological onion. Especially for actors or anyone in the movie/Television business.

In this dream, I was on the set of a very big movie. I was only an extra, but my friend, Brian Villalobos was one of the four main stars (that alone is a loaded psychological onion ready to be peeled). I believe it was being directed by Sean Cain who I worked with when he directed Terror Birds. The production had me bring all my sweet coats as possible costume options, but had ended up not using them so I had hung them all in an unused closet.

After filming had wrapped, the 4 leads had to do a photo shoot for the movie poster. As I was walking out to the holding area, I saw all my coats in a pile on the floor. Apparently, they wanted as many possibilities for costuming as possible for the photo shoot so they had just went around the entire place grabbing everything they could find including my coats from the closet, and just thrown them on the floor temporarily while they were collecting. I was furious! Those were my personal coats and were stashed in a non-production closet! I went to a table where one of the costumers and a bunch of other crew were sitting and explained the situation. They all agreed with me that it wasn’t right but also didn’t really know what I could do about it, and told me if I raised a stink it would just look bad on me and give me a bad reputation.

I was fuming, but I was also worried about pissing people off or having a bad reputation. I walked back in the studio to see if I could see what was going on. On my way some water dripped on me. I looked up and saw that a bunch of trash bags had been somehow attached to the ceiling and were holding water for a amateur and precariously-rigged rain simulator. Wait, were they getting the actors wet? Were they getting my coats wet? Placed on floor under any place there was a leak were these little fizzing sponge-pucks that somehow soaked up a lot of the water. I got close to the set and saw several wardrobe racks. From where I was, I couldn’t see my coats, but was slightly comforted by the fact that at least they were hung up on racks. I was happy for my friend Brian that he was a lead in a major film and was going to be on a movie poster, but felt very lonely, disconnected and “so close, yet so far” from my career hopes and dreams.

Then I woke up.

Dream 42

Such a simple dream. Just a moment with my ex, being behind her, maybe sitting in a car or something. Maybe a couch or hammock or something where she was more lying down but I could still be “behind her.” I put my chin on her shoulder from behind, right in that soft spot where her shoulder meets her neck. Our cheeks pressed together, we both smile and nuzzle up against each other. And in my dream I thought “This is where I belong. Nothing has ever felt this safe and right. This is home.”

Then I wake up. And I can still smell her. Her scent lingers in my synapses from the dream.

Dream 41

The ex and I were in my car. At an intersection, some crazed drugged out people ran up to the car and pulled her passenger door open. They started throwing money in the car frantically saying we had to keep this safe for them. I tried to floor it but Since one of them was holding on to the passenger door handle, my car skewed that direction (dream physics don’t have to make sense). Eventually I got loose and we sped around a corner and into a dark area behind a building. We were trying to figure out what to do next, fearing these people would be trying to find us.

Something that has happened to me many times in real life, is that I’m having a bad dream and in the dream I’m trying to yell or scream but can’t so it’ just comes out as a kind of weak moan, and then it turns out the reason is that the exact same thing is happening in real life. I”m trying to yell in my sleep but am just sort of making weak noises. As has happened in the past, she’s next to me in bed and gently nudges me, saying it’s just a bad dream and snuggles up close to me. I’m comforted. Our bodies are close with our arms tight around each other.

Then in that moment, I start to realize that this too is a dream. I start to cry as I’m ripped from the dream world into the actual real world where my face is wet with tears. I try to pull myself together, grab my phone to distract myself for a moment and put on an audiobook as I try to forget my heart re-breaking, come back to the present, disengage from these emotions and just breathe. It was just a dream. But then it was just a dream.

Dream Theatre 38-40

I haven’t documented a lot of the dreams I’ve remembered but there’s 3 I wanted to try to document before they totally fade. Hopefully, I can still remember enough details even though it’s been a little while since they occurred.

Dream 38
I was at a party at someone’s house. I think it was most likely a house occupied by several (or more) college students. I was saying goodbye to a few people sitting at the dining room table and I remember one was a (fictional) girl who I think I kind of had a crush on so it was kind of that awkward excitement type interaction where you also want to hug someone but also totally overthink it and wonder if you should or if it’s weird or something. I said my goodbyes and left but as I got outside I realized I’d left my phone somewhere inside. So now I was faced with the more awkward reappearance and “Oh, hey, just me again. Forgot my phone,” type explanation. I went past the table into another room that was extremely and strangely packed and cluttered in an almost M.C. Escher-esque way. There was a stairway that went up the right wall then turned 90 degrees and continued up the front wall but it was totally blocked off with furniture and shelves so I had to climb over it and then walk along the hand rain squeezed up against the wall. When I reached the second part of the staircase, there was a couch on it that extended up the stairs and through the doorway at the top so there was just barely enough room between the couch and the top of the door way to squeeze through and drop down. That’s all I remember of that one.

Dream 39
My mind has been extra cruel with constant dreams about my ex. One standout was that I was watching some “hidden camera” TV show on TV and much to my surprise, suddenly there was some “night vision” footage of my ex wearing only a button down shirt and glasses having sex with someone.

Dream 40
In a more subtly cruel dream, my ex and I were driving around revisiting some places where she had gone to college. It was night and she was driving and pointing things out like “Oh that’s the building where…”, etc. At one point, she pulled over and seemed really sad and I saw tears welling up in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong.
She said “I just don’t want you to ever leave me.”
I looked at her with love, surprise and reassurance, tears in my own eyes, put my hands on her face and said “I’m not ever going to leave you. I love you,” and kissed her.

Yeah, that was fun. And ironic. I haven’t figured out of cruel dreams about your ex count as sadism or masochism.

Heartbreak Vs. Death

I find it interesting that in general I am very hesitant to post things of a darker, heavier nature. It’s always more pensive and philosophical in my head, but I fear it sounds more depressed or depressing when expressed. I find it also interesting that this is why I am am expressing these particular ruminations here on my blog. Because, generally, not many read it and people are pretty hesitant to leave the walled gardens of Facebook and such to read things externally. SO in a weird way, the fact that my website gets next to no traffic makes it a safer, more private space. And yet, if I’m writing something publicly then why do I care about “privacy” at all? I could not write it or write in a private blog or journal. I do not have an answer for that question. I just know I want to express these thoughts, but not necessarily to the widest audience possible but I’m also not afraid of anyone finding or reading this. So, in short, I don’t understand my brain either, but here we are.

I’ve discovered that, for me, heartbreak is worse than death. Death as in losing a loved one, not as in my own death. Because while I don’t fear death and have on occasion, kind of wished that my time was up, that’s a very “permanent solution to temporary problems,” as I’ve heard it put. Now I feel there’s a few very important facts related to this highly individual and personal opinion:

  1. I have lost people I was very close to including my father, so I do know that kind of loss.
  2. BUT, I am also someone who deals with death very well. I am very zen about it. It’s a part of life and I know that my loved ones would not want me to be sad or suffer when they’re gone, just as I wouldn’t want that of others. I believe our culture really fears it and feels that we should be utterly shattered and devastated by it. This is really a whole other can of worms, as I believe we have far more choice than we think we do about our feelings, but I also know that it’s not as simple as “Well, hey, just don’t feel that way!”
  3. This is simply an expression of my thoughts and opinions and not at all an attempt to sway anyone else’s opinion. However you feel about it all, your feelings are completely valid and there is no “right” or “wrong” here. This is in no way meant to diminish or trivialize any loss anyone has felt or feels. It’s all so personal and individual.

In death, someone leaves this plane of existence as we know it. We miss them. It sucks. Depending on your personal beliefs on death and what, if anything, happens afterward, your experience with it will likely be completely unique from anyone else’s. I’m not sure exactly what I believe, but the scientific law of Conservation of Energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms. So nothing is ever “destroyed” or completely gone. Our energy continues to exist somehow. Maybe it gets reincarnated. Maybe recycled into stars, trees, rocks, gas, everything. Maybe there’s ghosts, souls, spirits. Many possibilities, but it is science that our energy will definitely continue to exist in some form, whether it be sentient or not.

In general, we are not given a choice about it. My father didn’t choose to die of pancreatic cancer. He most certainly didn’t choose to die of pancreatic cancer because I was somehow not a good enough son. I don’t think I even shed a tear (again, I”m pretty good at dealing with death). Sure I miss teh hell out of him and wish he was still here, but I’m at peace with it, as he would want me to be.

Now in a heartbreak, especially and particularly a non-mutual breakup, someone makes the active choice to no longer be with you. Now there can be any number of reasons that this supposedly has nothing to do with you or your worth. They just need to “figure their own shit out,” or sometimes despite you both being great people, you just aren’t compatible as a couple. I’ve heard many different, totally legitimate reasons from people who weren’t just full of shit or making excuses or whatever. And to be clear, I’m talking generally, not about just my own personal experiences.

But in the end, that person chooses not to be with you. People will tell you, “They’re an idiot. If they don’t see your worth, you deserve better any way,” or any other number of platitudes. The thing is, even if you know your self worth, even if you have great self-esteem and love the hell out of yourself, it doesn’t change the fact that the one person you choose, does not choose you. And that one indisputable fact lodges in the back of your mind like a little, black, poisonous seed. It infects your subconscious.

“I’m very happy with who I am. I think I’m a good person!”
But not good enough for them.
“I am special. I’m an amazing partner. I am seriously a magical unicorn of a catch.”
Hmm, and yet they had no problem moving on and deleting your existence from their life.
“What we had was true love. Magical. A bond beyond this world. No one will ever compare to me!”
Except that new person. And probably a bunch of other people. Maybe you’ll wind up in the top 10.

It will fuck with your self-esteem. Like Wormtongue to King Théoden of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings books (and films). I consider myself to have a very strong mind. A very strong mindfulness and meditation practice. An extraordinary sense of self-awareness. Yet even my tools and defenses are not enough to make me impervious to this insidious poisoning. You question everything you think. Everything you know. Unlike a death, this is a choice. And you know this person is walking through life everyday. Without you. Each day, a constant reminder of their choice to not be with you. Might as well set a Calendar alert. “DING! Tuesday: [person’s badly mispronounced name] still chooses not to be with you!” Because somehow you fell short. You were deficient. You were not good enough for them to want to continue sharing a life with you. It doesn’t matter if they’re “wrong,” “blind,” “stupid,” “self-destructive,” “delusional,” or any other adjectives anyone wants to apply. The end result is the same. They do not choose you, Pikachu. It’s almost like reliving a death daily.

I think this is compounded by the fact that I’ve never really “dated.” It’s really rare for me to connect with someone on that level so I only really bother when it feels like something really special that might last a lifetime. So if that ends, it feels like a tremendous loss of something exceedingly rare and precious. A loss of a huge part of life. So much time and history invested and now you’re back at square one.

“Buck up, Buddy! Time heals all wounds!”

Shut yer platitude hole. I know them all. Yes, I’m working on “me” and self-improvement. Yes, whatever I feel is valid and okay and I don’t beat myself up.
The Law of Attraction says you can manifest any reality you want by just picturing the way you want it and then genuinely feeling the feelings and gratitude of having that thing! Live and think as if it’s already reality!
But Eckhart Tolle says all pain comes from resisting what is and not accepting the now and living in the past or future. Now I quite like both the Law of Attraction philosophy and Tolle’s writings but these two things seems directly at odds to me. (Please keep any disparaging opinions on these or any other philosophies or new age ideals to yourself; my intent is not to bag on them but to point out that sometimes even our own beliefs can be contradictory and confusing). Can a person walk in two worlds simultaneously? Not giving up hope while also continuing forward?

I know it’s all about perspective and so much is just the lies that our egos and fears use to feed themselves but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier. So, while I understand it may be a controversial statement and not true for many others, for me, heartbreak is worse than death.

Well, shit. I don’t know how to salvage this into some cheery ending. Go Google some cute baby animal videos or something. Those are always awesome spirit lifters!

Dream Theatre 37

This dream was very much like an ’80s John Hughes movies or something. There was a girl I was in love with (portrayed in the dream by an actress I know who shall remain nameless because I don’t know her well and I’m old enough to be her father probably). We were all at a big party and Will Ferrell was there too. It was no secret how I felt about her, but she walked up to Will and said “You wanna go bang?”

Will looked over at me, kind of sheepishly and was like “Well, I mean, that might be kind of awkward…he really likes you.”

And so, in a truly ’80s movie kind of way, I delivered some noble monologue along the lines of “Look, any guy she wants to…” I paused, starting to say “make love to” but hesitating, wondering which term to use.

She enthusiastically jumped in with a thrusting hips motions and said “Bang!”

I continued, “…bang, is the luckiest guy in the world and would be a fool to pass that up.”

He kind of shrugged and then off they went together, presumably to “bang.”

I started to walk out of the party totally dejected feeling like “This is what you get for being a good, noble guy.”

Then I slapped my forehead and felt like an idiot realizing that I should have said “Hey, look, Will is married with children, so that’s not really cool.”

Cue credits to some ’80s music as the camera cranes up.

Processing The Surreal Physiological And Psychological Experience Of Winning An Award

I want to write about this because I want to process it and get it out of my brain and yet I’m also hesitant as I don’t want to come off as over-important or anything of the like. But maybe some of you will find this interesting or familiar. At the very least, it will be mildly amusing, I hope.

Tonight I had the great honor of winning the 2016-2017 B. Iden Payne award for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy for my performance of Magnifico in La Fenice’s Death race Inferno. From the moment I found out I was nominated to…well even still now, I find the whole experience surreal and interesting. Whenever I’m nominated for something like this, I’m always excited and honored but I try very hard not to get to hopeful. You’re up against talented people and odds are that it will not be your name that gets called. So you try to be cool. Frosty. Zen. But there’s always that part of your mind that goes, “Ah, but wouldn’t that be cool…but I mean probably not. Forget about it. It’s totally an honor just to be nominated. But wouldn’t that be cool…no, no, stop it.”

In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, your brain occasionally wanders to “So what would I say if I won? Don’t be an ass. Don’t be so presumptuous as to construct a speech or something. But I mean, you should be at least mildly prepared, just in case, right? An actor should always be prepared! Now I feel kind of douchey. Nothing wrong with getting a general idea!”

Now I also had the honor of being nominated last year for playing Orin Scrivello D.D.S. in Little Shop Of Horrors, which I didn’t win. I mean, there’s been plenty of other awards I didn’t win, but I say that to say that I was specifically acquainted with not winning a B. Iden Payne. The lead up process was pretty identical. And again, you try to let it go and not be too attached to it, but when that name isn’t yours, I firmly believe that no human is so zen as to not be at least a little bummed. Last year I at least had the extra boost of happiness that my friend, Jonathan Itchon won and I was legitimately happy for him while being a little bummed for myself. So this year, I really tried (unsuccessfully) to detach. I’m a pretty zen guy and stuff like this doesn’t ever really get to me on anything more than a shallow, very temporary level, but still, there’s always that part of you that wants to win. To be recognized for the work you create so passionately from your soul.

The night finally arrives. Thank the universe I can stop thinking about it at all after tonight. The same battles wage inside. Trying not to care. Knowing you (not so secretly) want it. My category is about half way through the night. Such…a…long…time (not really). The moment arrives. They read the nominees. My name is first on the list. “Heath Allyn as Magnifico in Death Race Inferno by La Fenice.” Silence. Not a single clap. Oh god. I’m humiliated. Everyone hates me. Oh wait…that’s right…they specifically asked that no one applaud until all the nominees were read. I’m an idiot. Oh crap, they’ve read all the nominees, I should be clapping now. Well, here goes nothing. Brace for impact. And the winner is…WHAT? THAT WAS MY NAME! I THINK. I was sitting with Aaron and Genevieve (cast mates from the show) and Aaron grabs me. Maybe says something, I don’t remember but it’s apparent that it was definitely my name they said. I get up, probably looking completely stunned and in shock, though elated (A woman would later tell me in the lobby that she was sitting behind me and could feel my energy as I got up). The applause seems like the most clamorous din I’ve ever heard. I’m humbled and a bit overwhelmed. Man that is some thunderous applause. Now, of course, I know that the applause would have been there regardless of the winner but in that moment, just as the previous silence had been deafening, so seemed this applause and I felt like I could fly.

I make my way to the stage and jabber like a speed freak for a bit and make a fool out of myself (in the absolute best possible way, i.e. being pure me). I race along worrying about taking up too much time but also knowing I’m a verbose guy who always has a lot to say and trying to remember what important things I want to say. Or what utterly silly things I want to say. Tomato, tomato. I get emotional. My voice starts shaking. I have no idea what reality was, but in my mind, at least, I finished strong and got off the stage.

I was greeted by Kate and other well wishers and I hugged and gave thanks and floated through this strange dreamlike haze, probably seeming like a shock victim. I had some photos taken. Actually drank a glass of champagne (I never drink). Sat down for a minute and collected myself. After the massive adrenaline rush, I crashed hard and had a headache and felt exhausted but I stayed for the remainder of the show and mingled with all the amazing, talented people there. Eventually I made my way home and picked up some celebratory Whataburger.

I’m still buzzing. processing. Humbled. Honored. Elated. I don’t know exactly what I said in my acceptance speech, but I do know some major themes that are important to me that I want to reiterate here. Winning this award for this show is particularly meaningful to me for so many reasons. This was a collaborative show where we all created it together. We all created our characters, our own dialogue. I had such a strong vision and mission for this character, so that makes this even more special. I’m so thankful to La Fenice for first inviting me to play with them all those years ago and continually inviting me back. And for this show, for specifically wanting me for to create role. So much so that they didn’t say “Here are the dates, are you available?” They said “You have to play this role. When are you available?” I hope I lived up to the faith you had in me and this award is definitely all of ours as Magnifico would be very little without everyone else and their brilliant characters, writing, set design, props, et al. It was truly a 7 way collaboration. A completely original, crazy, wonderful show.

I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t thank my mother who was in community theatre before I was born, and was immediately toting my bassinet to rehearsals as soon as she was able. She has always supported me in everything I did or wanted to do and never pressured me to “Go to college,” or “Get a job.” She always allowed me my own path and supported it with nothing but love.

And then there’s my standard “awards” manifesto that I’ve written on several occasions and at least paraphrased at the ceremony tonight, but I feel it’s important. Every time these (or any) awards come up, a lot of people feel hurt or left out, and that sucks. I’m certainly not anti-awards. Celebrating and recognizing excellence is not a bad thing, but I always say to let those kinds of things be the dessert and not the sustenance you need to feel full or validated. Keep you head down, do good work and let that be the reward. Let the journey, the honing of your craft be what drives you. And if you’re lucky enough to be nominated or to win, yes, enjoy the hell out of it. Be grateful. Just don’t let that be the end all be all or let the lack thereof trigger your ego into thinking you aren’t a talented, amazing being. Because for every one person up there giving an acceptance speech, there are countless unrecognized geniuses and virtuosos out there. Maybe some are your friends. Maybe you know a few in passing. Most you’ve probably never even heard of. Enjoy your dessert but let the work itself be your sustenance.

If you’ve actually read these 1400+ words, then a) I’m surprised as hell, b) That means more to me than I can say as well and is its own reward. I feel like I should give you an award for that. I hope this doesn’t seem self-important, or…

Whatever. Enough self-conscious, self-deprecating disclaimers. This is me. I have shit to say. I know this isn’t life changing, or “The Oscars” or what-not and all my troubles and problems still linger as much as they did before tonight, but this does mean something to me. And I’ll enjoy the extra dose of happiness while I eat my dessert. Thank you. To the universe, everyone I’ve ever worked with, all those who continue to repeatedly work with me, and you. Yes you. I love you.

The Magic Of Radio

I can’t remember the last time radio was a part of my life. I got my first vehicle somewhere in the mid-90s and from that point on it was CDs, iPods, iPhones, and podcasts. The last real, strong radio related memories I have are laying in bed on Sunday nights during high school and listening to Dr. Demento from 10 until midnight.

Recently, my friend and band mate, Karl, was espousing the SiriusXM Beatles channel and I was intrigued. I have the capability in my car but have never subscribed since I have more than enough podcasts, audiobooks, music and Spotify to fill all my time. However this Beatles channel sounded cool and I wanted to check it out so eventually, after encountering a mountain of annoyances and technical problems in the research and signing up stages alone (bad form, SiriusXM), I finally managed to sign up for a free 30 day trial of their streaming service.

I found myself lying in bed trying to drift off to sleep to all things Beatles and feeling a little of that magic again. Feeling a connection to the world as these waves streamed in to my bedroom live. I had no control of what played (though there is on-demand content as well if you like) and no idea what would come next. I found it especially appropriate to be reliving this with The Beatles as they often spoke of the influences they heard on the radio that had such a hug impact on them. I felt a kinship knowing that John, Paul, George and Ringo probably spent many a night listening to these magical sounds of rock and roll streaming into their bedrooms.

I’m not sure if I’ll actually subscribe when my trial is over (I also hate the fact that they still use the outdated annoyance model of making customers call if they want to cancel), but the content of The Beatles channel has been cool enough to at least make me consider it.