On Being Alan Alda (But Nicer?)

There has been at least one child in this home suffering intestinal problems for the last seven days, as well as at least one person in this house suffering body aches.  It’s been a blur of panic, clean up, comforting, laundry, bleaching, washing, praying, hugging, holding, and not sleeping.  I won’t thrill you with my tales of my intense emetophobia or how every squeak, dog bark, tv noise, or mechanical sound I’ve heard for the last week has startled me…all the little mews in my life sound like one of my children moaning in pain/pre-barfing/having bowel issues.

It all comes to a screeching halt at times like this.  My brain is fuzzy, but when has that ever stopped me from blogging? (Answer: Never. C’mon. Like I’d give you a hard question when I haven’t slept and my baby has diarrhea.)

I’ve had quite a few screeching halt moments, it feels, in the last nine years.  After 10 years of teaching (and almost 15 preps), I left what was a successful teaching career that held, I believe, significant promise. I was burnt out, and the NCLB hands were starting to tighten around my neck.

Ok, great, time to try something new.

I went into improv, with the hope of working on shows that were politically savvy and silly as the Second City shows I adored. (I had no clue how improv led to all these other comedy destinations in writing) I was told, repeatedly, that I am not good at improv and that other members in my class were “superstars,” and that there was no way I was going to get anywhere near writing/performing a Mainstage show (or anything similar) because my improv was terrible.

With that went my dreams of being Alan Alda/Woody Allen/Jon Stewart/Steve Martin/Stephen Colbert/Madeline Kahn/Amy Poehler.

The Frankenfunny Writer/Performer/Director/Comic.  Minus being a dick, as some of them apparently are.

Ok, great, time to try something new:

Script writing. I’ve written several scripts over the past few years. Uniformly terrible, mostly because they have been done for someone else — part of a job, part of a “trial process” to join a performance troupe in a specific niche, for contests.

I used to write a lot of good scripts, things that got performed earlier in my life. Scripts and shows I was proud of because I didn’t worry about the audience or the selection committee. They were weird and wildly paced and unfocused at times, but they were me. They were topical, sometimes historical, and never stupid, although often quite silly.  I was raised on Monty Python and Woody Allen (I know…but I’m speaking about his work. If you’ve not read Without Feathers, you are missing something.) =. If you didn’t know me, I’m sure that a blind read-through of the script was…bizarre.

I’ve been working on a musical every spare moment I’ve had for the last four months. It was something that was going to be a cooperative effort with a friend and tremendously talented person who passed away the first week of 2015.

I’ve written two drafts, now as part of a competition to get it produced.

And I’m going to let it sit and miss the deadline.

It’s not going where I want it to go.

It’s not what I want it to be.

It’s not me.

I miss feeling ok being totally weird and silly in a script and not worrying about it being selected for something or about it being too “out there.”

That’s pandering. That’s fear. That’s awful.

So it will sit and not be submitted for a local contest and I will not let myself feel I’ve wasted four months. I will let it sit until I can find the parts of it I love and then love the rest of it into better shape.

Ok, great. Time to try something new.

I’ve been working a lot of short stories. That’s been getting me back into the writing groove I remember bringing me joy and personal success (i.e. I like the work.) They are my naughty little children right now, misbehaving, immature, all over the place. But God, I love them. They need some structure, some guidance, some room to mature.  And time, that unicorn. Time they get when my kids heal and tummies are settled and tushes are back at school.

It’s hard to be 42 and feel so behind professionally. When I went into improv/theater at 37, I was seen as An Old, and was older than some of my teachers at that point. I had to fight for feedback. I wasn’t just following my own drummer, it was an extended drum solo and I was frugging while it felt everyone else was doing a really funky electric slide.

It’s wonderful to be 42 and feel invigorated and on the right, new path.

It’s hard to be seen as a novice at this age.

But it’s better than being the expert at not following your dreams.

These are not new thoughts for either this blog or humanity in general. But they’re mine today.







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