After the Curtain Call

For the past weeks I have been directing a play I adapted – the adaptation process is, like all writing, infinite so I can never say I finished it. But I’m done with directing the show. On Saturday evening, after the final show, the set was taken away, the lights and curtains down, the floors painted back to black. In three weeks, another play will be performed in the same place, another world created, different audience, different lights, set, even soundtrack.

And of course this is expected – this is the life led in the theater. As comical as Ian Mckellen’s spot on Extra’s was, he did have a good bit of truth when he stated that acting was illusion. Like all illusions, though it is temporary; if it weren’t, it wouldn’t hold our interest, or it would simply be life but on a stage and no one wants to see that. So I can come to terms with the delicate necessity to be able to build a world with the knowledge that it’ll vanish before you had time to explore all of it.

Because for a brief moment we were kings of that world – my cast, my staff, my designers, myself. We controlled it, organized it, built it, had meetings to decide its color, its sound, and if we could have, probably their taste. But more important and more sad to see disappear was the fact that while we were working on this show we did so in the ultimate form of unity. Everyone had to do and be exactly what they were to create the show. Even down to everyone changing their facebook profile picture to the show poster. and now, we are back to our lives, our evenings free(ish?), and our old profile pictures. And it’s sad to watch it go, but it was a choice we made to build for a moment that would, granted, last as long as moments do, but a moment that was truly ours – not mine and hers and his – ours.

The question remains of what to do, but that is not our problem – that is each of ours. For now, I’m hanging my poster up on my wall. It’s not leaving my side, because that memory is not temporary.


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An Open Letter to my former Music Instructor

Dear M—–,

I’ve thought about writing this for a while – I waited 4 weeks before doing so, and now, before I finish my time here at UChicago, I want you to know something.

I dropped your class. This much you know, but what you don’t know are the reasons. You may think that it is because I saw the error of my ways and dropped out because I didn’t have the prerequisites or because I realized I didn’t have the background necessary to take intro to composition.

That’s not it. That’s not it at all. I left because I don’t want to be in a class where the teacher has no faith in me. I don’t want to be in a class where the teacher says “you can’t”. I am graduating from the University of Chicago in 2.5 years, I have received numerous grants and fellowships, taught myself to play the guitar and the piano, have trained my voice, am in a professional a cappella group, and arrange music and have written/co-written six songs. I’m not dumb. I’m actually rather smart (and it took me a while to be able to say that and not feel like an arrogant ass), and I’m not new to music (I started playing the saxophone when I was 8. Twelve years I’ve had it). So telling me that I can’t learn the necessary music theory because I hadn’t taken the prereq’s (which were never mentioned anywhere in the literature about the course), is ridiculous. I was taking three classes, was deeply interested in taking your class, and then left, because you didn’t think I could do it. I knew I could, but I didn’t want to be in a class with a teacher who doubted me. If you get nothing else from this letter, hold on to this, since you will be teaching in the future. Have faith in your students. If they say they can do something, chances are, they can do it. Give them a chance. Believe in them as they do and then some, because if you don’t – and you don’t have to tell them you don’t for them to know that you don’t (although that certainly doesn’t help) – you will lose them and a teacher without students is just a person talking to themself about things they already know.

I’m taking another class – still working on doing catch-up work and I’m actually doing rather poorly in the class. But the TA’s and the professor seem hopeful that I’ll be able to pass and go on to graduate this quarter. You didn’t even think I could do that.

What I’ve learned from this whole thing is that I should never give in. I shouldn’t have just backed out and said it wasn’t worth the fight. Every fight like that is worth it. Even if I had spent every night sleepless, learning music theory in 10 weeks, while concurrently learning how to apply it, it would have been worth it, because while I didn’t need to prove it to myself that I could, I would have been able to prove it to you. And now you will never know. I will know. But you won’t, and that frustrates me.

I’ve learned to pick my battles. Hindsight’s a bitch, but then again, now you won’t get a chance to see what I can do. Your loss.


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Teaser Tuesday

There was a deer in the kitchen that shot lasers out of its eyes. Having lived on the edge of a national forest for my whole life, I was used to deer, although not in the house. It was the laser part that threw me for a loop, especially when it used them to set fire to the mantelpiece. I didn’t know whether to save my late grandmother’s collection of porcelain replicas of the animals of the Serengeti or pee my pants. After ducking and huddling, because laser deer are like nuclear bombs, I caught my breath long enough for me to realize if the flames spread, that would’ve been problematic, especially considering my parents never left their room. I ran to the garage and grabbed a fire extinguisher. On my way back, I crashed into the deer; the collision sent one of its legs skittering back into the kitchen. It was then that I realized something was drastically wrong, because, frankly, that shouldn’t happen.
Okay so it wasn’t a deer so much as it was a robotic death machine parading as a deer, but I didn’t have time to freak out about that yet, because the fire was already at the bookshelves next to the fireplace, where there were pictures of Tony and I, back before he went the way of my parents and locked himself in his room for the most part. I sprayed the fire until it was nothing more than a wall of snowy white gunk covering the lions and giraffes. By the time I turned around, the Robo-Rudolph had hobbled its way out the door, but its leg was kicking the pantry door.

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The Tour Day Two!

After some oh so very much needed rest, Run for Cover (Greg Squad) awoke to Michael doing vocal warm ups (loudly) on a slightly out of tune piano. After Sam forgot multiple articles of clothing, we managed to get to the car, and off to our first gig – a 12:45 performance at CJ and Greg’s school. It went totally wonderfully, although I was wondering if Rudy was having a seizure during his solo but then realized it was Rudy so everything made sense. After that, we booked it downtown to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Greg missed the exit twice. Three times? I think it was twice. Regardless, we got there and got our visitor badges then went and sang at the playroom which was nice – small audience but some of them got really into the music. We then went to the front lobby area which drew a much more varied and transient crowd, but they were wonderful as well. Props to CJ’s mom for coming out to see us (Greg’s mom is going to watch and – maybe? – record us tomorrow so we’ll see).

After a full day of singing, what better way to wrap it up than with some eating of copious amounts of Italian food. I got calamari and cheese things. Also about 30 pieces of garlic bread. Currently regretting that decision (thank god for prilosec, amirite?). After that it we traveled to CJ’s house for video games, a cappella enrichment/ here’s how to arrange or different approaches to arranging workshop, and Chronicles of Riddick(ulous): Pitch Black.

Some noteable quotes/my favorite moments from the day:

1) Amirah, one of the little girls in the playroom, singing along with Beard to Sweet Child of Mine then asking us all to give her our autographs and asking me to write “from Run for Cover with a big heart next to it.” The best audience member ever. Hands down.

2) “No but they didn’t have no evidence or nothing, man.”

3) MattBatt and Ely’s game of strip-air hockey.


5) “There wasn’t enough in our budget for more than one colorings.”

6) “Word Rape” “This entire movie is word rape” “No – this entire movie is logic rape.”

7) Rudy losing his shit to the sheer existence of this movie.

8) Space trannies – wait for reals.

9) Rudy’s seizure dance.

10) Beard and Storm 4ever.

see y’all tomorrow!

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In the Beginning

Howdy folks! So this here’s now gonna be a travel blog, regaling you with tales of hooliganism, shenanigans, and singing in the best way possible – a cappella style!

That’s right – Run for Cover – the a cappella group that I’m president of – has decided to go on tour to the south to visit St. Louis, the home of two of our members, CJ and Greg. With third and fourth years at Greg’s house (sans MattBatt and Dileep) and first and second years at CJs, this looks to be an entertaining trip, especially when looking at what happened on the five hour busride down here (just kidding it was 4.5 hours because Megabus got there early – WHAT?).

Moments of interest:

1) Ely discovering, at a truck stop, an erotic arcade game. Mostly puzzles. We almost had to leave him behind.

2) Rudy discovering he has the ankles of a dachsund.

3) Ian begging for crumpets from passersby as we waited for CJ and Greg’s moms to save us from the cold.

4) Sam trying to convince me that Mila Kunis, Sara Jessica Parker, and Kim Kardashian are essentially the same in appearance.

5) Finding out Greg’s house was built over the mines of moria.

6) baby greg. Cute? or the cutest?

7) Me forgetting my laptop charger. Woops.

I’ll keep y’all posted as the tour goes!

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I realized something yesterday, which was something that I’ve had a lot of trouble accepting for a very long time. It is an assumption that I have forced myself to make, although I’m not sure why. Here is my conclusion:

It is not selfish to want. Nor is it selfish to say you want.

It’s simple, right? Not groundbreaking, not mind boggling, nothing like that. But it is for me. For the longest time, if two people wanted something, I would be the one to bow out. Sure – you can have that apple. Or that job. Or that spot in line. Because it seems like you want it more. Or maybe you deserve it more. But I shouldn’t want it because you want it and so I’ll give it up.

But that’s not the case. That’s not me. I don’t HAVE to back out of wanting things. I don’t HAVE to give up on fighting for things. And while I don’t necessarily agree 100 percent with this statement, if you want something, you’ll fight for it. I don’t think fighting for something needs to be a stipulation, but I have found something I’m willing to fight for, and I will do so as much and as long as it takes. Because it’s worth it. Sometimes it’s worth risking everything for to get everything.

And that’s. Not. Selfish.


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What what YA?

This post is partially inspired by a discussion I had with a colleague at work, and partially by a blog post by the brilliant Hannah Moskowitz. And I promise it relates to MFA applications.

So. During a discussion I had with an admissions counselor (I work in UChicago Admissions office, I am popular yes what no I can’t get you in stop asking) about MFA programs, since she attended a low res in Vermont, and I wanted to hear what that was like, I mentioned my interest in YA. She kindly told me that I probably shouldn’t mention that in my application, which confused me. Upon further prompting, she explained that YA was taken much less seriously, and it was only at specific programs like Hamlin or Seton Hill that I should be like “I LIKE WRITING FOR TEENS LOVE ME PLEASE ACCEPT APPLICATION FOR WANTING TO BE IN YOUR SCHOOL”. Or whatever it is I’m writing. I might show you my statement of purpose later in the week if you ask. Please comment on my blog?

This news, however, was really concerning. Why is YA taken less seriously? First of all that seems like bullshit. Second of all, if it isn’t bullshit, why is that the case? People who write for kids are the most important writers out there (i might get some flack for this), because they are the people who get others interested in writing in the first place. True, someone might not read until their 30’s or 40’s. At least not for fun, anyways. But in all honesty, everyone reads or gets read to at a young age. Someone, I’m sure, can easily list the first books they read or remember reading, or their favorite bed time story. To summarize what I could talk about for a really long time, Kid Lit is just as important if not more so, as adult lit. It makes no sense that it should be taken less seriously. And I can tell you I’m going to mention it in my applications, because I’m damn proud of that fact – that I write for young readers and just starting readers and I’m just getting bar mitzvahed readers.

This got me thinking about Ms. Moskowit’z post. She said that YA writers are becoming very cliquish. Or perhaps that’s the wrong word. She fears (i’m summarizing but if you want to get a full on understanding of it, you really should read her post. And her blog. And her books. Fanboy froth) that YA writers are becoming a very tightly knitted community writing for each other rather than the kids – everyone knows each other and everyone’s agents, everyone talks to each other and tweets at each other and blogsand guest blogs for each other.

So this got me thinking, like I said, which is an unusual state of being for myself. What if YA is like the group of kids who plays dungeons and dragons. We have our own culture and our own society and system, but we band together because the football players don’t want to talk to us because they think they’re better than us? WHat I’m trying to say is, yes, YA writers do seem to be intensely connected with each other, which isn’t a bad thing (although I’m not sure if it’s a good thing. I like talking to YA writers online, but I do think Hannah expressed some pretty good concerns for what it might do to the actual writing and stories) but what if it’s more a product of our environment? What if it’s because MFA programs don’t think YA is serious enough for them, or because adult fiction writers don’t picture YA as important, or this reason or that, but whatever it is, YA writers have been ostracized. So, like the wayward nerds, we group together and we cosplay together at comicon or whatever the writerly analogy would be?

Suffice it to say, what’s so bad about YA that I shouldn’t include it on my MFA application, and is that a sign of a similar trend of thought throughout the writing community?


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