Monday, January 27, 2014

Get On

Hey. Its been awhile. Last I wrote I was about to embark on Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. Well I did. It happened. It was incredible. It was frustrating. It was beautiful. It was exhausting. Now the dream is over. I’m so full of stories and thoughts and experiences I want to share with you all that there is no way a blog post would do it justice. So, if you ever want to hear about the whole thing and how it affected me, let me know. Lets head to a bar, grab a drink, and swap some stories.

In the mean time, let us get on with life.

When I left home for the first and last time in 2008 I made a promise to myself that I would never move back in. Not because I didn't love my supportive parents or my stupid brothers, I love them all very much, but I made this promise more so for myself so that I could  force myself to take risks and find my independence. So I moved to Dubuque and lived there for 4 years, working at various jobs every summer and living and various home and rooms. I managed to support myself through school by taking on work-study jobs. By the time I hit my final semester of senior year I was working at 4 different on campus jobs just to save up to move to New York.

Now that I am here I have managed to pay rent every month. My goal remains the same, don’t move home. I could very easily give up, fly home, and live in the basement playing video games and watching movies all day long, dreaming of the day when…. But I’d rather be here, broke, unemployed, and struggling than at home, comfortable, and hating myself.

A wise person once said: “If you don’t have a job, your job is to spend eight hours a day finding one.” I am in that situation now: completely and utterly unemployed. I also find myself at a crossroads with four paths ahead of me, and one, twisted and winding, behind me. I like doing four things: Photography, Theatre, Film, and Writing. I am struggling on trying to figure out how to fit all of them into my life, and pay the bills.

ISPA 2014 Awards Dinner
Photography has been my most plentiful when it comes to making money AND being artistic. I am usually doing one or two headshot sessions a week to bring in income. Last week I had the extreme honor of being the event photographer for the 2014 ISPA conference, which was a blast. I was able to photograph the Keynote Speaker Tan Dun on Tuesday, a red-carpet-esq “Step and Repeat” on Wednesday, and then the awards banquet later that night. I got to meet some interesting people and, most importantly, flex my photography skill. It felt really good to have the weight of the camera around my neck and my eyes moving, looking for the next best shot, capturing it, and then running around looking for the next. I realized that I love that feeling, the intense feeling of trying to capture an entire story in one frame, in about 3 seconds. I walked away from it all with some awesome photos which will be on Facebook very soon.

Directing Theatre and Film are my favorite mediums to tell stories in. They are also my least plentiful in terms of opportunity and paying the bills. I apply to any and everything that comes across my screen, but as of yet I have not been hired for anything. The “Catch 22” is that people hiring directors want people with years of experience, great schooling, tons of references, and to pay them next to nothing for it. That last bit is part of a greater problem when it comes to paying artists and undervaluing their work, but I don’t want to get into that with this post. The point is that either I have to work hard at playing this application game, or just start making my own films and theatre with my brothers. I am more partial to the ladder.

Writing is something completely new to me. I started working on Marley a year ago, and have since completed writing the first draft of that musical that was produced last summer. I’ve also had 2 short plays produced in New York and had 2 short stories published in a digital literature magazine. I have found that I really enjoy writing and telling these stories that I feel I have to tell. Now when I say I enjoy writing, I don’t mean the process. The actual process of putting words on a blank page sucks so hard a black hole would say, “Nah bro, that’s not within my event horizon.” Writing, like everything else, is hard work. Anyone who thinks it fun and easy has never tried writing. That said, I enjoy everything else about it enough to make the hard work with doing. Having actors sit down for the first time and be excited to do a read through of your work is better than any high I have experienced so far. Seeing on stage is even better. So while I continue to write almost daily working on plays, poetry, short stories, and even a novel, it has yet to pay any bills.

While logging countless hours on Midsummer, I had lots of time to think. One of the biggest things that weighed on me was my innate ability to put others before myself and put my wants and needs down, as if they are unimportant and stupid. I care a lot about what other people think about me and I’ve found that it not only hinders my life but more importantly it hinders my art. If there is one thing I am walking away from Midsummer with, it is now the drive to find work, creative work, where I can pay rent AND be myself… Mostly because I don’t want to cut my hair.

So, thought it’s a bit late, here’s to 2014! A Year of No Excuses. A Year of No Self-Putdowns. A Year of Paying The Bills.A Year of Long Hair.  A Year of Creativity.

“I've got a mountain of dreams to climb
'Fore I get to that house on the hill.”

Ozark Mountain Daredevils - It Probably Always Will