#66Kicks: An Epic Trip on the Mother Road

In a stroke of uber-Throwback Thursday-ness (and some might say self-indulgence), I am celebrating this #tbt with a retrospective of my epic road trip west.  I departed Belleville, IL for San Diego, CA one year ago today.  My itinerary would be as whimsical as I pleased.  My course would be Route 66 as much as was possible.  My philosophy would be to embrace adventure everywhere.  I wanted to taste road food.  I wanted to see kitsch.  I wanted to take in both the natural and man-made wonders of our country.  I wanted to see the guts of America.

And I wanted to start a new chapter of my life.

Travel–when done properly–changes you.  I don’t think anything could have prepared me more fully for the transforming experiences of this past year than last August’s cross-country road trip.  If you find yourself at a crossroads in life, take a journey.  You might discover loved ones waiting for you at the end.

If you’d like an extra large helping of #66Kicks, check out the full gallery.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Something’s Coming: Part 7

This ends–for a little while–the story of the journey towards choosing SDSU.  A year ago last week, I was auditioning in San Diego, and a year ago this week, I was being offered a position in the 2016 MFA class.  Wild, right?   So, here are a few final journal entries that retell a small part of my process.  Sharing it has provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the events of the past year, consider how I make decisions, and revel in those who have helped me along the way.  As I’ve stated in previous posts, if someone out there in cyberspace is also considering a big change, hopefully reading about my journey has showed him or her that he or she is not alone.  

March 2014--The SDSU campus on a cloudy spring audition day.  Little did I know I'd be there every day one year later.

March 2014–The SDSU campus on a cloudy spring audition day. Little did I know I’d be there every day one year later.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Wow.  Having a little freakout.  No, not freakout…just struck with reality that all of this might actually happen.  Lots of thoughts, no order.  Here goes:

I kicked off the singing/acting auditions today at SDSU.  I nailed it.  Was ready.  In the zone.  Felt amazing.

The people have been really nice so far.

Saw Pal Joey last night.  Impressed with some individual performers, but all together not a whiz-bang show.

Still amazed at all of the vegetation that in Illinois would be considered “houseplants” and here is just plunked in the ground.

Strolling the campus:  gorgeous.

They are dedicating a new student union this week–which is where I’m writing–which is also gorgeous.  Everything is buzzing.  It feels good.

This is a bigger school than I imagined.  This is way bigger than Lawrence.

People actually ride skateboards here.  Like to go places!

How am I going to pay for this?

As much as I have been dreading the question “What do I do if I don’t get in to this school?” for some reason the prospect of uprooting and moving to San Diego for two years suddenly feels scary as well  I would probably be skeptical if it didn’t  give me butterflies, though.

If there’s times, Jared is going to take me to their new house in Escondido.  I think I still want to live with them.  I wonder if they feel the same.  It is a stressful time for them right now, too.

I should learn Spanish if I come here.  That would be fun.

As I’m walking around, I am wishing loved ones were here so I could show this to them.  I think that is a good sign.

And here are a few excerpts from writing on the plane home the following day:

Yesterday’s audition was exceptional.  The whole day simply felt good.  After my individual audition and my own stroll around the campus, I returned to the Musical Theatre Archive for the “group interview.”  This was a time for all of the candidates to sit and hear a little more about the program.  Everything they related resonated with me.  Paula Kalustian–the MFA director–has had a long career as both artist and educator and she–like me–said that they have always grown together.  She’s not been able to let one or the other go, and so the program is also geared towards that.

The individual interviews came after that, and once again, I started.  It was at this meeting that I was able to convey how much it seemed like the philosophy of the program gelled with my own.  Paula expressed the same.  She asked about my professional goals.  I said I wanted to “kick it up a notch.”  We talked St. Louis theatre; she had done some work at Webster.  She asked about my dream roles and about my type.  I said that as I’m about to turn 34, I would like to play Bobby in Company.  She said she has directed it four times, looked straight at me, and nodded, “Yeah.”

In summary, I felt a real click with these people.  I think this could really happen.  And…I should know in a week.  How crazy is that?!

I feel a sense of peace in that it is now out of my hands.  I have done everything I can.  Now we wait.

On March 7, 2014, I was auditioning for the  MFA Musical Theatre program at SDSU.  On March 7, 2015, I was receiving the President's Award for the Arts at the Student Research Symposium.

On March 7, 2014, I was auditioning for the MFA Musical Theatre program at SDSU. On March 7, 2015, I was receiving the President’s Award for the Arts at the Student Research Symposium.



This is the blog for people who share more than two cents.

This is the blog for people who relish casual musical theatre references.

This is the blog for people who spell it ‘theatre’.


Thank you, Department of Motor Vehicles

To admit that my inaugural blog–“7 1/2 Cents”–took shape at the DMV requires a certain amount of humility.  I don’t like feeling beholden to the DMV.  The DMV embodies emotions like rage and desperation.  It is a place where even-keeled personalities can transform into document-wielding warriors.  Even in the most ideal situations where one possesses all the proper paperwork, a decent amount of time, and a knowledge of deep-breathing skills, this individual can still fall prey to the mere anxiety of the environment.  Put simply, the DMV can change you.

As it turns out, so does the theatre.

The Day of Reckoning, err…Registration

Through a series of errors–some mine, some not–I was sitting at the Poway DMV for the fourth time.  Imagine the stakes.  I was armed with every document I would need to complete my vehicle registration for California citizenship.  I was ready with contingent plans should something go awry.  By all accounts, this would be as close to an in-and-out errand as a DMV visit could be.  And yet, that little flutter in my stomach was a-flutterin’.  Hindsight allowed me to recognize that it was actually the same feeling of waiting at an audition, but in the moment, I couldn’t see the correlation.  When the employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles handed me my paperwork and an envelope containing my new plates, I exhaled a “Thank you” akin to one I use to conclude every audition.  I came down from the adrenaline rush on the drive home as if I had just nailed a callback or something.

And then I opened my envelope.  I was prepared for the alphabet soup of typical California plates.  But I somehow instantly deciphered these runes from a smattering of alphanumerics into a series of rather significant messages for me and my life right now.  I am not a student of numerology, but sometimes these things are too curious to be coincidence.  Even in the split-second of reading my plates, I found myself judging my split-second reading of my plates.  “Maybe I’m reading too much into this…this is weird…but this is totally the name of the blog I’ve been wanting.”

I’d been looking to start a blog to document some of my thoughts on the theatre, some of the discernment process of how I came to the MFA Musical Theatre program, and some of life in San Diego…and I was looking to wrap it all in a snappy title.  The first four letters of my new plate were ‘7HAF’.  Even though The Pajama Game is nowhere near my top ten list of favorite, influential, or–let’s face it–quality shows, the nod to “Seven and a half cents doesn’t buy a heckuva lot,” seemed like the perfect name for a blog for someone like me who usually has about 5 1/2 more cents to say beyond the usual two.

The next two digits were 34–the age I am nearing and the age I will be for the majority of this MFA program.  Though 34 is not terribly significant to the lay person, a musical theatre geek will recognize 34 as the age that Bobby turns in Company.  It is the musical theatre age of mid-life crisis.  Or rather, it is the musical theatre age to be okay with yourself.

The final number was 4.

“4…what?” I silently asked myself.  Mind you, this question only came in the third nanosecond.  In the fourth nanosecond, the question became the answer.

“For what…did I move across the country?”

“For what…am I trying to accomplish here?”

“For what…will I seek in this new life chapter?”

“For what?” is a question I must ask myself often during the next two years.  I think the answers will have lasting consequences.

And so…

True to form, this might be five and a half cents more than what is necessary to explain the name of a blog, but without further ado, I am thrilled to share “7” and a “HAF” cents, presented by this nearly “34” year-old who is going to keep asking “4” what?

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