Saturday, October 31, 2009

Autumn in Central Park '09

On Friday my friend Mandy and I spent two beautiful hours in Central Park. I don't remember the last time I spent so much time in the park. Fall is my favorite time of year. The colors and smells are the best. The days are crisp. The cool air alive. October is my favorite month. The leaves change from green to yellow, orange and red. Pumpkins become jack o'lanterns, become pumpkin pies. The photos in this blog were taken with my Blackberry. I took 50 of them. Some of them were blurry once I got them on my computer. A transfer that took me more that 24 hours I might add. Thank you Blackberry and your inability to stay connected to the "largest 3G network."

Mandy grabbed a pumpkin spice latte and I a regular coffee with cream and we set out to explore and enjoy the park. With these photos, you can enjoy it too. Grab a hot cocoa, something with cinnamon or nutmeg, maybe a coffee with french vanilla creamer and enjoy the colors of the oasis in the middle of New York City we call Central Park. Don't forget your sweater!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Freedom is the Connection

I've spent the past few days trying to figure out how to connect the two films I recently watched. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, an exploration in realizing that what you really want is right in front of you and AMELIA, about drive, determination, freedom, never giving up.

Amelia Earhart was a woman who realized at a young age what she wanted and was fearless in achieving her goals. That's not to say she wasn't scared at times, but she didn't let anything stand in her way. Least of all the fact that she was a woman. I'm scared too. I'm progressing though. Even if it's just a little bit, it's progress. Even talking about what I want is a step closer to it. I refuse to be a victim of laziness and/or fear. I refuse to feel trapped. Amelia wasn't a victim. She wanted to fly and she did. She found the freedom of the sky. Max in WTWTA found the freedom to run around, be loud, smash things, and be unruly, surrounded by creatures that not only let him do what he wanted, but happily joined in and encouraged the merriment and mischief. He also found the freedom to go home. As Dorothy said, "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with." Don't get the idea that I want to move back home to KY. Backyards can be anything and anywhere.

If we create our own destiny, if we make our own luck, then there is never an excuse for feeling like we can't do whatever our heart desires. How can I ever let anything bring me down? How can I do that to myself? How can I let negativity block the positivity? How can I lose sight of all the good there is to gain in the world?

As I was walking home after seeing AMELIA there was a knot of dread just under my heart. The dread was going home. The previous night, my neighbor upstairs had had a gathering. Thankfully, the music wasn't loud, but the conversations were loud enough that I could understand them. I had such dread about what was going to be happening in my apartment building that I couldn't fully enjoy the present moment. Wow, I fluctuate so much. I know that I've written in previous blogs about living in the moment. It's hard to practice what you preach. Back to the walk home. I kept repeating out loud, "I'm strong," "I'm not a victim," "I can handle this," "I can do anything I want," "Release the knot."

I have moments that absolutely shine with positive energy and then there are moments so mired in the negative that it's hard to function. Saturday, October 24th, I was frustrated, upset, and angry about my upstairs neighbor from the night before. I let it affect my entire day. I let it! Me! The one person who could choose to let it go, didn't!

Maybe the only connection between the two films mentioned above is freedom. I need to learn how to be free. Free to sing at the top of my lungs, free to walk in my apartment, free to "let the wild rumpus start," free to take to the air, free to love and be loved, free to speak my mind and give my opinion.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 26, 2009

Yesterday was a monumental day for me. I came out to my dad.

It's been on my mind for a very long time. It's been intensely on my mind for days. Sunday, while at work, I was thinking of the right words to compose an email. A co-worker of mine told me his story about sending certified letters to each parent and sibling to come out to them. So I thought maybe I could pour out my heart in a letter to my dad via email. It seemed wrong for me. It seemed a little less personal, a little "Dear John." It also made me feel cowardly. I will admit that I have always been afraid of telling him and telling him to his face makes me nauseous. The next best thing was finding the courage to tell him on the phone. A phone conversation is present, in the moment, and as personal as you can get if you're not there in person.

I was in the shower, saying out loud the words that I could put into the email. Then it occurred to me to call. I got out of the shower, dried off, and put on some clothes. I walked into the living space of my apartment. I grabbed my Blackberry then put it back down. My hands were shaking. I grabbed my Blackberry again and went to the address book and found "Dad". I put the phone to my heart, hands still shaking, and took a deep breath. I then lifted the phone back into view and pressed "Call Mobile". He answered on the second ring.

After the hellos were out of the way, I asked him if he had a minute because there was something I needed to talk to him about. He said yes. I immediately began to cry as I told him that I had needed to tell him something for a long time, but had been consumed with fear about it. I apologized for crying. My emotions overflowed like a Coke that had been shaken and put back on the counter just waiting for someone to come along, open it, and release to pressure.

I said, "I'm gay."

He said, "I know."

I said that I knew he knew, but that I needed to tell him. In my heart I needed to respect him enough, face that fear, be courageous, and tell him the truth. He told me that he loved me and that I was always welcome in his house. My greatest fear about coming out to my dad has always been that he wouldn't want me to come home. That fear was alleviated yesterday.

He told me that as a follower of the Bible, he didn't believe it was right. I acknowledged his beliefs and then told him that I had always felt this way. I brought up the two girls that I dated in high school. I told him that I never slept with either of them and that I never wanted to sleep with them. I dated them because it was something I was supposed to do. I told him that the feelings I have right now are the feelings that I've always had. There was never a moment of choice. The feelings are inherent. They are from birth.

I told him that I remembered Christ convicting my heart and me asking him into my heart to save my soul from hell. I can see that in my mind even as I type these words. I don't believe salvation is something you lose and neither does he. I was gay when that happened and Christ still saved my soul. He did not turn his back on me. He loved me just like my family. That is a gratitude moment!

When I was born my parents were very young. There has been much discussion over the years of my dad's lack of presence in my young life. I told him that he is not to blame for me being gay. I asked that he please believe that and not take on the guilt of feeling if he had been in my life more as an infant that I would have been straight. It doesn't work that way. He took me hunting and fishing as a child. I didn't like it. I always liked clothes and jewelry and perfect hair much more. Always!

The last part of our heart-to-heart was me telling him that I was tired of the relationship that we have. I was tired of just calling him on his birthday and Father's Day. I was tired of it being "okay" that I didn't have a close relationship with my dad. I said to him, "I don't want to wake up one day with you gone and regret that I never had a relationship with my dad." The time for change was yesterday. The first step was admitting the truth and as my mom said to me later, "Now we can move forward as a family."

In 1997 I had the courage to tell my sister. In 2006 I had the courage to tell my mom. On October 26, 2009, I had the courage to tell my dad.

With the pressure released, the Coke is normal again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

For Now

Avenue Q opened at New World Stages Wednesday night. What an exciting day. This little show that could started at the Vineyard Theatre 6 years ago. It played a successful run of a few weeks and the producers that put seed money into the show eyed a transfer to Broadway. The transfer happened and the show received rave reviews. When it came time for Tony Award nominations, the show racked up 6 nominations. It was the darling of the 2003-2004 season. On Tony Award night Avenue Q won 3 Tony Awards beating Wicked for the coveted Best Musical Tony Award.

Flash forward six years to the ending of the show's successful run on Broadway. The producers announced that the show was only ending it's Broadway run and would continue anew at New World Stages, the Off-Broadway venue where I work, starting October 9.

The show never skipped a beat. It's a known property with a recognizable name. Ticket sales took off right away. It was very exciting for us. It was busy with money coming in to the facility when it was much needed.

The opening night performance, October 21, went smoothly. There is always a lot of energy surrounding an opening night. It's usually an invited performance and there are usually stars involved. For this opening the stars were those of Broadway. Sutton Foster was there. Julia Murney, Stephanie J. Block. The cast of [title of show]. It's always so much fun. Some of the people I've met before so it was a reconnection and chance to say hello. For others it was a first time meeting. Being in the box office is the perfect opportunity to say hello when I'm giving out the tickets. Just the other day I met Dean Pitchford, lyricist of the song Fame, screenwriter of Footloose, and lyricist of the musical Carrie. That was quite exciting for me.

The post performance party was held at Glass House Tavern, a theatre district bar and restaurant on 47th Street. I love a good opening night party. Free hors d'oeuvres and an open bar. I enjoyed the Cabernet Savignon. Several glasses actually. I mingled with people from work and people who formerly worked at New World Stages. As is often the case, I was one of the last people to leave. I must say that I haven't figured out how to make an exit while the party is still going strong. I guess I'm afraid I'm going to miss something. I missed nothing and wouldn't have missed anything. Hindsight 20/20.

There is a song in Avenue Q called For Now. It's about things in our lives that aren't forever, only for now. I've been feeling very unsettled lately. I know that I'm the only roadblock standing in my way. I have to find a way to make the sweetest, best, most refreshing lemonade possible out of the lemons that I'm finding in my life right now. For Now. If the only thing constant is change, then none of the things I'm calling problems, the lemons, will last for long. There will be a change. I have to make the change. I have to take the leap. I have to be the change that I want to see in my life.

I was in a very sad, hater frame of mind today. Hating my journey right now. I am so afraid to make changes in my life. The changes that I need to make sometimes seem overwhelming. I know it's one step and one day at a time. I can't fix everything at once.

Today I was talking to God like he was in my apartment. I was asking why after all the asking for help I've been doing do I still have the issues. Why don't they get resolved. Why can't I fix them. Why are "you" not helping me? Why indeed! I'm trying to keep my eyes open to see and ears open to hear the signs that might be presented to me so that I can get my life on the road to happiness.

It's only For Now

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nashadena Weekend ~ Back To Reality

Day 4 - 10/19/09

I hate the return travel day. The anticipation of the flight as the minutes tick away toward the departure time. Everything that I had been excited about has come to its end. The weekend was fantastic. It was everything any of us could have hoped for. Now it's time to return home. Get back to the life that is mine in NYC.

Having the room to spread out in Casey and Whit's two bedroom, two-and-a-half bath, two level apartment makes returning home to my studio a little less than desirable. The saving grace: it's my studio. I don't have to wonder if my roommate took care of things while I was gone. It was in the same shape in which I left it.

Yesterday, we sent Leah and April on their way. I was still in Nashville with Casey and Whit. Today was my day to be sent home. The end of a moment so filled with joy and happiness that it's the memories of those moments, and the photos, that eased the pain of departure.

Let's go back to the beginning of my day. I woke on the sofa after Whit had gone to school and Casey had gone to work. I made a small pot of coffee and covered myself with four blankets as I sat on the chaise and watched Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice from last Thursday. I had a full day last Thursday that started with work at noon and ended with bowling until 1:30 am. A short nap and two hours later I was heading to the subway to start my journey to the airport. So there was no opportunity to watch any of Thursday night television. Having a quiet moment, or couple of hours in this case, was just what I needed today.

Casey and her boyfriend, Matt, came home for lunch. Whit joined us shortly thereafter. We baked a pizza and watched multiple episodes of Amazing Wedding Cakes. Mindless television, perfect for taking my mind off the fact that I was leaving today.

I have to admit that flying does make me nervous. Sitting in the airport waiting to board the flight home always aggravates those nerves. The pit of my stomach is usually a big knot. Pair the nerves with the sadness of leaving and you've got me sitting in the Nashville airport. At least two of us found ourselves wondering this weekend how life would be if we all lived closer together. Would these moments lose their power? I don't know the answer. It wouldn't always be an event, but we enjoy each others company. We would probably start to take each other for granted. Who knows. Right now that is a question that can't be answered as we don't all live close together.

Not long into my wait my Blackberry began to vibrate. Facebook message from Casey. It was a quote from Modern Family. This was just what I needed to lift my spirits. It went back and forth three more times. We used these quotes all weekend. We all have a similar sense of humor.

The flight was scheduled to be 2 hours and 3 minutes from take off to landing. We landed at 9:10pm, 30 minutes earlier than I thought we were supposed to land. I was excitedly wrong about the time. I managed to finish my Vanity Fair by reading the last two articles I had any interest in: Marc Dreier and Norman Rockwell. An intersting contrast as one is a criminal having stolen millions from hedge funds and the other a beloved artist. Of course I had to return to the life of Mrs. Julia Child. She is so funny. I had a couple of shake-the-seat laughing moments thanks to her as we made our descent into JFK.

I am so grateful that I have a family that I care enough about to want to spend time with them and a boss gracious enough to allow me the days to do so. This weekend was everything I imagined it would be. The only thing it wasn't was longer.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Nashadena Weekend ~ Arrington Vineyards

Day 3 - 10/18/09

Awake at 9:10 am and ready for some coffee. There were no other sounds in the apartment yet so I figured I was the only person awake. I went downstairs to make the coffee and Whit got up and joined me in the kitchen. I thought I heard movement upstairs, so I went to see if the girls were awake. April was in the bathroom and Casey was sitting in her bed deleting emails from her Blackberry. I joined Casey in her bed followed soon after by April.

We headed downstairs where I made my mocha coffee concoction for April and Casey. It's half a pack of hot chocolate mix, sprinkled with some marshmallows, add french vanilla creamer then fill mug with dark roast coffee. Stir and enjoy! It's a little too much for summer, but it's perfect for a crisp, fall morning.

We sat around the table drinking our mocha coffee's and eating oreos for a hot second before we remembered that we were in the midst of watching Christmas Vacation last night when everyone got too tired to continue. So to the living room we went to finish. Lines were quoted, laughs were laughed, and emotions brought a little tear of happiness at the end. Okay, so we're a bunch of saps. At least we know what's important - family! Be it Griswald or Dunn, being with family always brings out emotions. Our family watches Christmas Vacation every year (so I'm told) when they get together to celebrate Christmas. The gathering is usually the weekend before or after Christmas. I am not usually there since I'm blessed if I can get Christmas Eve and Day off. So the opportunity to sit and watch the movie on Sunday morning with my sibling cousins was a treat and a joy.

In the car on the way to Arrington Vineyard, we had an interesting discussion about facebook and how posting photos, etc. gives people too much information about us. We talked about how we have to filter our lives because of people we're friends with on the worlds largest networking site. I choose not to filter. This is my life. I don't set out to offend, but this is my life. My life.

The Arrington Vineyard was one of those art imitates life moments as there is a vineyard on Brothers & Sisters called Walker Landing. We spent about an hour-and-a-half hanging out at the vineyard. We ate, drank a bottle of wine, and took many pictures. The comedy of the situation was, a.) finding a place to put the camera so the timer could be set then, b.) the photogs (April or Casey) running to join the pose already in progress. In an ironic twist, we stopped to get our lunch at McAlister's, which happens to be the last name of the character played by Rob Lowe on B&S! Not planned, just coincidence.

We dropped Leah off at the airport and began the goodbye process. She was the first to depart from our weekend. We returned to Casey and Whit's and gave Whit a call to find out where he was and asked him to come home so that April could say goodbye. She was the second departure of the day. Whit had a football game and was unable to go to Arrington Vineyard with us. There was no sweetness to the sorrow of the parting.

We went to Kirkland's at the Cool Springs Galleria, TJ Max, and Bed, Bath & Beyond in search of pictures frames. We took many pictures this weekend and all of us are going to want to frame at least one of them. It would be nice if we all had the same frame, but being individuals, we will probably all choose a different picture and will need a frame that compliments that picture.

No picture frames were purchased!

When we got home from shopping, we ordered Domino's and settled in to actually watch Brothers & Sisters. Not everyone was still there, but our "Walker" weekend culminated in Casey, her boyfriend Matt, Whit, and I actually spending time with the Walkers.