Wednesday, January 25, 2006

From Africa: The Events of the Birth of Jason

Good Morning on January 25 from Africa.

It is your birthday here...We get to celebrate it first. It's 6:15 a.m. here…[at this same moment 31 years ago] I was having labor pains and standing in front of the dresser holding on in pain....and saying, "I think I need to go on to the hospital."

Dad said from bed, "I thought you were going to wait as long as possible before we went to hospital."

I said, "I did, and I think I have waited as long as I can."

So we went on to hospital in a bit and you were born at 10:15 a.m. So when you decided it was time to come, you decided to come!!!! And come you did.

The doctor told dad it would probably be all day before I delivered. Dad decided to go home a while (since he could not be with me in delivery).....he did and then came back in a bit because he thought, "He just might end up coming and I won't be there."

He came back to hospital...some one calling over loud speaker for a minister....he went to answer that call and pray with someone...........and then heard HIS name....and came back to my room and I was getting ready to go to delivery room.

So he almost missed your birth....and he would have been so sick because he had had such great anticipation.

Well, you arrived and you have been kicking ever since.

God has blessed you with love, family, friends, health, great abilities, insights, laughter, enthusiasm, height, a great personality and a great work ethic. And most of all, you have known the love of God and His great salvation for you. So there have been great days in the past and you have great days ahead. And we pray that today will be a very special birthday and one with anticipation and joy, plus excitement at what God wants for your life.

We love you and are so happy to our YOU....OUR SON....OUR FIRST BORN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reflections on My 30th Year / LOUDER THAN WORDS

What a year…my 30th year seems like it has been one long adventure.

Since turning 30 I’ve…celebrated despite an Atlanta ice storm…gotten a small tattoo…saw my parents off to Africa…completed my concert/cabaret trilogy…packed up my entire life into a rental truck…left a fabulous apartment…left a wonderful job and dear co-workers…drove for two days with my friend Greg riding shotgun…moved hundreds of boxes into a four flight walk-up in Spanish Harlem with the help of Greg and my NYC friend, Damon…got a job…quit job…repeat that 3 times…got through mononucleosis…survived the heat of a sidewalks in a New York summer…sold my car…rode the train to Richmond, VA to celebrate Thanksgiving in my brother’s new home…Discovered a renewed sense of humanity during the transit strike that crippled New York City for almost a week…Watched the ball in Times Square fall on New Year’s Eve (from the warm comfort of my living room)…and SO much more. It has been a full year.

I remain so grateful. Grateful for the journey and the dreams. The love and the homesickness. Grateful for ALL of it.

A few weeks ago I came across a song by Jonathan Larson. Jonathan is best known for the Broadway show RENT which he wrote but never got to see Open on Broadway (he died of a brain aneurism on my birthday 10 years ago). He wrote another show, tick..tick BOOM!, that was finished and produced after his death. I wasn’t familiar with the show until recently.

One song in particular, Louder Than Words, has completely engulfed my days. I listen to it daily.

I listen to it as an affirmation.

I listen to it as a prayer.

This song has awakened the questions and answers that have driven and I hope will continue to drive my life and dreams. I decided for my birthday to share the lyrics of this song with you. I hope, if you’re able, that you will go online somewhere and download this song and bask in its beauty and truth.

The spirit of this song is letting your LIFE be your ANSWER to every question


by Jonathan Larson

Why do we play with fire?
Why do we run our finger through the flame?
Why do we leave our hand on the stove-
Although we know we're in for some pain?

Oh, why do we refuse to hang a light
When the streets are dangerous?
Why does it take an accident
Before the truth gets through to us?

Cages or wings?
Which do you prefer?
Ask the birds.

Fear or love, baby?
Don't say the answer
Actions speak louder than words.

Why should we try to be our best
When we can just get by and still gain?
Why do we nod our heads
Although we know
The boss is wrong as rain?

Why should we blaze a trail
When the well worn path seems safe and
So inviting?
How-as we travel, can we
See the dismay-
And keep from fighting?

Cages or wings?
Which do you prefer?
Ask the birds

Fear or love, baby?
Don't say the answer
Actions speak louder than words

What does it take
To wake up a generation?
How can you make someone
Take off and fly?

If we don't wake up
And shake up the nation
We'll eat the dust of the world
Wondering why

Why do we stay with lovers
Who we know, down deep
Just aren't right?

Why would we rather
Put ourselves through hell
Than sleep alone at night?

Why do we follow leaders who never lead?
Why does it take catastrophe to start a revolution?
If we're so free, tell me why?
Someone tell me why
So many people bleed?

Cages or wings?
Which do you prefer?
Ask the birds.

Fear or love, baby?
Don't say the answer.
Actions speak louder than words

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I’m celebrating that I went to the audition, sang, got a callback, went to the callback, and did…my best. I got an email this morning that I was not cast in the show.

The callback was last Friday night and lasted almost 2 hours. It was gloriously harder than I could’ve imagined. It was a dance callback. In a callback of 40 there were probably 5 truly non-dancers. I took 2 years of movement and it prepared me for the callback but I still couldn’t keep up. The choreography was intricate and fascinating. I loved attempting to learn it.

I had a wonderful time meeting other actors, dancers and singers. It was interesting to swap stories and listen to how people “make it” or how they just survive on a daily basis. It was also extremely to watch those there who were trained dancers. They could see a step twice and then do it perfectly…watch it a third time and they could teach it if they had to. It was beautiful…people so in tune with their bodies as instruments or tools that they can move precisely and make it all look so easy.

I’m also celebrating that I’m Atlanta-bound for a long weekend!

I turn 31 on the 25th of this month, so the weekend following my birthday (the 27th – 29th) I will spend in Atlanta seeing family and friends. I confess that just booking the flight put a lump in my throat. I miss everyone SO much.

This visit will be good for my heart.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I GOT a CALL BACK! (and, oh yeah, need a Root Canal)

What a day…I almost don’t even know where to start.

Yes, I do. I’ll start with yesterday.

Yesterday at lunch I thought I’d cracked a tooth. I was eating a new toasted sandwich from Subway when I felt something shift and crunch toward the back of my mouth that didn’t feel or sound right.

I got back to work and my fears were realized. I was missing a chunk of my tooth in the back of my mouth. It wasn’t terribly painful but it did start throbbing about an hour later.

So…this morning I was up and out early and on my way to Bellevue Hospital (which is manned by NYU students). There has been an on-going miscommunication about my health insurance, so Bellevue is the only place I could afford to go. I didn’t mind going there I just didn’t want to take advantage of a system that is designed for those with no benefits. This go around…I was one of those with no benefits.

It took a couple of hours – waiting with students without insurance, convicts from jail, immigrants, etc. – but I got seen. Ends up I need a root canal. I didn’t know exactly what that meant but I knew it would be expensive – wherever it was done. At Bellevue they could remove the tooth but could not perform the root canal. I could go to Dental School and have it done and pay on a sliding scale – but it would still be expensive. Of all my teeth, this one tooth has the longest root. The root runs up into my sinuses. It would take a while to heal and would leave me breathing out of a hole in my mouth for a couple of weeks. The tooth, on a whole, is still great and can be now it's onto getting it fixed.

I left and went to work where I was greeted with an email announcing a Call Back from my audition on Sunday. They liked my audition and want to hear me sings again and see me work with their choreographer.

First audition, first callback.

I’m thrilled. If it works out or not, I’m excited to be getting this far my first time out auditioning. In this city of thousands of actors it is hard to get in to a lot auditions and when you do it can be a challenge just to be seen. If you do get seen, it is rare that you get a callback.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My First NYC Audition...YEP...Finally

Well…FINALLY…today I auditioned for my first gig in New York City. Actually in Brooklyn – but it still counts, right? It’s an Off-Off-Broadway theater with a great reputation and looking at the season line up I’m really impressed at the show’s they’ve done and are planning to do.

The show I auditioned for is the musical, Side Show. Side show is a beautiful musical about two conjoined twins who were a Vaudeville in the 1930's - I believe. The same team behind the musical Dreamgirls, wrote this show just a few years ago. I love the music in the show - but I've never seen it staged. It was a hit was critics when it opened on Broadway but it still didn't run for long.

Elizabeth and I found out about the audition just a couple of days ago…so there wasn’t a lot of time to prep. I was thrilled about the audition because it was on a weekend and I knew I could go. Last night…at 10:00 she and I were in a rehearsal studio in Chelsea working out the music we would use to audition. The notice said that you could sing full selections. With the rehearsal space closing and the audition today, I decided to go with a song I knew that I knew.

The song was Elaborate Lives. I’ve written about the song before. It’s one of the songs that followed me around Atlanta and a song that people expected me to sing anywhere that I would be singing. So…I decided to stay true to a song that has treated me so well.

We were both up early and on the train heading to Brooklyn and the audition. The audition was an Open Call, so there was no telling how many people would show up. The audition was open to people who weren’t Equity (members of the Actor’s Union), so that alone insured that the turn out would be big.

Elizabeth and I were there almost 2 hours before they would open the doors. There was only one person in line ahead of us. We made an Unofficial sign-in list and began the process of waiting.

Once we got inside…and had our names on the Official List – we started the next round of waiting. Every Equity actor who showed up was seen straight-away and the rest of the Non-Equity actors we moved down the list.

The wait wasn’t too bad. A group in the corner discovered a set of Uno cards and began a game, others listed to their iPods to relax or rehearse, Elizabeth pulled out sewing, and I went outside. I was uncontrollably nervous…it felt like I had never sung in front of people before. I walked the block and sang out Elaborate Lives to parked cars and the sidewalk.

It felt like a short trip to crazy and I was half way there.

I went back inside and just before my name was called they went from accepting full songs to hearing only 16 bars.

That was just the shot of panic I needed. Elizabeth was in auditioning when the decision was made. She came out and an Equity actor went in. She and I sat down and tried to find 16 measures that would work. If we counted 16 measures back from the end of the song, there wasn’t much to show. No money note. No range.

There was no choice but to lift 16 measures out of the middle, cold – and just hope for the best. So that’s what we did.

I walked in and everyone greeted me warmly. I was still marking my sheet music as I walked to the piano. I handed it to the pianist (also the show’s musical director), set a tempo with her, then turned to the six faces looking at me, waiting to see what I could do.

It was an odd place to start but I jumped in...and the piano caught up with me. I sang through my 16 measures and though I didn’t get to the end of the song, I found a nice place to bow out.

I left the audition glad that it was over, glad that I had gone and feeling good about how I sounded. Who knows what will actually come of it…but it feels good to get my feet wet.

Elizabeth headed to a babysitting job and I went to Target and met up with an old co-worker from Peachtree, Ivory. It was SO good to see her and catch up. We took a picture together at the entrance of the store, so I’ll have to post that later.

We had lunch and caught up. She’s living in Brooklyn and though we’ve talked a couple of times since I moved here – I hadn’t actually SEEN her.

Good times!

Ivory & Me...Inside Brooklyn's TARGET Store

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