Lately, I find myself thinking a lot about the past. Where I was. How it pertains to where I am. And just where the f*ck I’m going. 2022 has proven to be a taxing, and quite unexpected year, and not in the greatest of ways: A year filled with challenges and limit testing. Not all bad of course. Some good. But many of the trials have been less-than-savory. I won’t delve into the particulars at this time. If you know me outside of this Blog, you are aware of them, and if you really don’t know and want to know more? Reach out “offline” as we say in Business Development. Or “slip into my DMs” as we say in the Social Mediaverse. God, that sounds even more off-color when I type it out, and slightly pervy when it’s an invitation. Apologies if anyone is offended.
This little piece of Mental Flatulence is not about what’s going on in my life, and the lives of those I care about on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence in 2022. As I said in the first sentence of Paragraph Uno, it’s about the past. My past. How it is affecting my “now” and how it might affect my “soon-to-be.” And maybe what is on my mind this beautiful April day under an endless deep, blue sky (with just a hint of cloudiness on the horizon) applies to you, as well. We’ve all got a past, right? And some of us think about it more than others. Hell, some of us live in it. I try not to. I’ve always endeavored to focus on my present but every so often, something triggers a memory. One memory leads to another, and the next thing you know your old buddy the Madchronicler is halfway down the rabbit hole without a rope to grab onto or a parachute attached to his back. Falling. And the only way to slow that fall is to write about it. Enter? Blog post.
In roughly two weeks my oldest minion is auditioning for a musical at her school. “Annie JR.” She’s 12 years young going on 16 some days, as you’d expect from an almost full-fledged teenager. This is not her first audition. She’s been in a number of productions to date–“Moana JR” last fall and “Aladdin JR” before that to name a few–but this particular audition holds special significance for her given that she is entering 8th Grade and at her school? Every 8th Grader, regardless of skill level gets a part. Or so she tells me.
Don’t get me wrong: The kid has skills. Mad ones. A voice. The ability to be dramatic (like all pre-and-full teens sure, but better… or worse depending on your perspective) and act. The ability to dance. She’s honestly the complete package and I’m not just saying that because I’m her father. She’s a bit shy but who isn’t at that age? I was, and I know that eventually, she’ll come out of it. But despite what she considers a guarantee, she’s nervous. She has her heart set on playing Miss Hannigan and for those of you unfamiliar with “Annie?” Take a moment and Google, Bing or Safari/”search up” (as my kids say) Carol Burnett Annie. You won’t be disappointed.
Now, I understand the need to keep a child motivated. But I further understand the requirement to set achievable expectations with them, and while I firmly believe she has what it takes to not only win the part of Miss Hannigan but knock it out of the park, there are… Considerations. Competition to be specific. And she has some. There are a number of girls in her class that are also blessed with mad skill, not to mention boys, and I wouldn’t put it past her school to introduce a Mister Hannigan versus a Miss. This is, after all 2022. I’ve been working with her… Keeping her level and assisting her in whatever limited capacity I can to keep improving/keep getting better. And while I’ve been doing this–and here’s where I get to the part where I tell you why I’m writing this Blog post–I’ve also been remembering my own time “in the theater.” God, I hope that doesn’t sound conceited because when I wrote it, I heard Mister Howell from “Gilligan’s Island” in my head (I was going for Danny Kaye from the “Choreography” number in “White Christmas”).
I won’t delve too deeply into the particulars of my experiences as a member of The Royal Masque, Barricade Productions and the short-lived Ogontz Theater Company (abbreviated OTC; yep! I came up with that one) because A) I hate to come across sounding conceited and like a braggart–Mister Howell I am not–and B) I don’t want to make anyone associated with those fine companies of talented actors and actresses, many of whom who have gone onto great things embarrassed that I’m referencing them. But… As Norman Osborne/The Green Goblin once said in “Spider-Man” and recently said again in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Ya’ know, I’m something of a scientist myself.” Replace “scientist” with “actor/singer” and you’ll get where I’m coming from. And over the decades since my last, utterly forgettable appearance as a member of the chorus in “They’re Playing Our Song” (save for an unauthorized and substance-induced, staged bar fight on closing night that got me and a handful of others forbidden from ever acting in a Penn State then-Ogontz, now-Abington production again; ah to be 19 again, sarcasm fully intended), I’ve dabbled with the idea of getting back into it. I even went so far as to schedule an audition with The Swarthmore Players a few years back to be in their spring production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” But I never went. Life interfered, as life seemingly always does and I cancelled. Yet the itch… the desire has never gone away and to be honest with y’all? I don’t think it ever will.
Which places me in an all-too-familiar pickle. Not just with “the theater,” but with other instances that I have been faced with in the past ranging from school to writing. If my past is any indication–and it is, else I would not be writing these words right now–I always… get close. I pull a Prometheus and fly just close enough to the Sun to touch it before the wax upon my wings melts and I plummet back to the Earth and my… say it with me guys and gals, my once-and-still “mundane, routine existence.” As Catherine sings in “Pippin,” “I’m your average, ordinary kind of woman.” Replace “woman” with either “man” or “the Madchronicler” and you’ll smell what I’m cooking. God. That didn’t sound right either, did it?
Do not get me wrong. I would not trade my life for anything. Not my family or friends, not my job or… sh*t, anything. But I can’t help but feel–as the day creeps closer toward afternoon, the end of my lunch break and 80 degrees for the first time this year–that there has to be more. It’s blatantly obvious to me at the ripe old age of 46 pushing 47 that I’m not achieving, and honestly never have achieved whatever potential God instilled me with. My skills? Never fully utilized. Hidden behind responsibility and a steady paycheck. Is it too late for me to… I don’t know, become what I was supposed to become? Or is this my destiny: To exist as an average, ordinary member of the societal hive mind and pass on my once-dreams to my children in the hopes that they will achieve their potential in the days, weeks, months and years to come? And would that be so bad? To teach them as I was taught, and sit as a proud member of the audience watching them? After all, I’m a few years shy of a half a century–God it pains me to write that–on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Isn’t the future theirs?
Perhaps this is a mid-life crisis. Or perhaps I’ve simply had too much time lately to think and… I’ll say it: Regret. Regret never following through on my dreams. Regret settling (man I hate that word). I can’t shake the thought that in some universe, perhaps closely adjacent to this one I did write the next great American novel and made it into Oprah’s Book Club. In another one? I am the bearded, suit-jacket-with-the-patches-on-the-elbows wearing college professor that I envisioned myself becoming. And in another? Jesus Christ. No, literally Jesus Christ, starring in a touring production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Well, maybe not Jesus. His range is too high. And not Judas–same problem. But Pilate? Herod? Perhaps either/or. Whether these alternate realities on other sides of the proverbial wormhole of existence exist or not I will likely never know in anything more than a fictional, musing (random musings, perhaps?) capacity. There is only here. Now. And what I do with this life in this universe. And really? What remains is a decision. My decision.
Everyone still tells me that I have the power to become whatever I want to be. But how truthful is that? In life, we the people make choices. And with those choices? Rewards. But also risks. I’ve shied away from the latter in my recent past because there is no margin for error any longer. When I was 19 it was easy to get fashnookered (AKA f*cked up) and stage a bar fight in an amateur production of a little known musical from the 1970s. I like most 19 year old’s gave zero f*cks about anything. But now? I have kids that need me, family and friends that count on me and clients that I support. Not to mention creditors that I answer to but who doesn’t? Sometimes, adulting sucks. But throwing caution to the proverbial wind does not come naturally anymore. One slip and I may find myself without a roof over my head, water to drink or food in my belly. And I would not wish that upon anyone, least of all my minions. So? As T. S. Eliot wrote and Prufrock intoned, “how should I presume?”
Sadly? My aforementioned decision is not forthcoming right now, as much as I might want it to be. And my past is little more than a distraction. I have chosen and choose not to live in it. I chose and choose to focus on my now and if, perchance, an opportunity presents itself in my “soon-to-be” to become more than the guy writing this piece of Mental Flatulence in the waning moments of his lunch break (damn… this only took an hour?)? Well, I guess I’ll simply have to cross that bridge when I come to it. But I can’t help but feel–as the morning segues slowly into the afternoon and I measure out the time left between now and when I have to go pick up my minions at school with coffee spoons–as if my time is running out. Godd*mn that sounds bleak. What can I say? This Blog is supposed to be filled with “the sometimes insightful, but many times inane observations of a self-proclaimed Sh*thead living on one side of the proverbial wormhole of existence.” You may agree with me, and you may not. But despite the bleakness inherent in the words I just wrote? Somehow… some way I feel better.
Thanks as always for tuning in, my oft-times casual readers. We’re a long way from Denis Rodman and a thunderstorm this afternoon. Booyakasha. Respect.