Sam @CUSP Conference 2015

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Express Yourself (Been there, done that)

Seeing "Billy Elliot" really struck a cord with me this week. Sure, I was there to review the show and analyze all the creative and technical aspects of the show as a theater critic. But, this production really spoke to me on a much more deeper level.

The show made me analyze my life and where I have been and where I want to go.

One moment in particular stood out to me. It was the point in the show when Billy's best friend, Michael, tells him to live the life he dreams of living. He tells Billy not be afraid to live outside the box coming from a manufacturing town sometimes puts you in during the song "Express Yourself."  I understand that, completely, coming from Detroit where the autos still outnumber the artists and if you work for one of them you should be happy because you have a "good job."

First of all let me say that I LOVE Detroit. My experiences here have molded me into who I am . As a theater critic and performer I know firsthand the amazing artists and creative community here that is thriving, and full of talented men and women. Every time I go to a local theater company's production and/or witness the amazing work being done at the Detroit Institute of Arts or MOCAD, I am overwhelmed with a heightened sense of hometown pride.

I'll be the first to tell you that if you are going to just sit and complain about all the problems in the city, you need to shut up and leave or do something to give back. Hence my new job as a theater teacher at the YMCA Boll. I am SO excited!

On the other hand, I am honest. And, I will truthfully tell you guys that I am struggling with what to do next.

I am blessed to be working and have health insurance. I did the starving artist thing for years and told jokes when I could while working odd jobs. Did a play here and there, but worked retail to pay my rent. I have worked as a freelance journalist to put food in my refrigerator, but I still had to go to a temporary staffing agency to pay some of my bills that were always late because my ends never seemed to meet as a starving artist. It feels good to be able to go see my doctor and whip out my insurance card or pick up a prescription if I have a cold instead of just praying it goes away sooner than later. Yes, being gainfully employed is wonderful and it is something that I will never take for granted.

I have to tell you, honestly, it is not enough. I can cure my colds, but I can't cure the desire that lives in my heart to write and perform. And, I don't know if I can do it to the degree that I want to do it here in Detroit.

I want to write movies. I could do that here, but my dreams are bigger than a local movie will allow. Or, I could perform, but I am not sure I could do that to the degree I want to do it here. I can find a stage to act, but the stages only get so big here.

I've worked every job you could possibly work here from radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, customer service (SUCKS!), retail (SUCKS MORE!), public relations, insurance, a government job, an auto job....BEEN THERE DONE THAT, and I am not sure where that has gotten me but here-- wanting more and not getting it.

I'd love to be a screenwriter and have my film go to the Toronto Film Fest or Venice Film Fest or some big festival. I'd die! And, I don't know if I can that here.

I've dealt with a boss tell me that my job at a radio station was 'not a stepping stone to a career in broadcast.' Huh?!!! to having no voice or opportunity to use all the ideas that live in my head and heart because of corporate politics. And, some of the personal struggles I have had in my life like my dating tsunamis which have destroyed some, if not all, of my faith in love. Sidebar: I kind of feel like, on a dating level, Detroit is Siberia. Sorry, but, that is my experience. --All of these things are pushing me out the door, or into my car to head out West.

There is a big part of me that wants to move.

There is a piece of me that wants to stay. You can be a big fish in a little pond here, and I have a really solid creative business plan that I would love to give to this city.

I just don't know....

In the meantime, I am going to focus on my teaching which is the thing making my heart beat these days. Did I mention how excited I am?! And, try to accomplish some smaller goals of mine like taking the GMAT and seeing if I can get into grad school somewhere. If I stay here, I want to be a Wolverine! Go Blue!

Time will tell what happens over the next few months. The great thing about life is that you never know what can happen and maybe I am wrong and all the great things that I want that I think can't happen here for me. We'll see...

Fingers crossed.



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