Saturday, July 21, 2012

Is Today the Day I Die?

I woke up this morning and wondered if today is the day I should write my obituary. Maybe I watched too much coverage of the tragic shooting in Colorado last night, or it's the crazy show Rob turned me onto, 1000 Ways to Die, or something like that, but I started wondering how to put my affairs in order.

I have a will, a power of attorney, living will, insurance, etc... All the adult stuff, but what about my obituary? How do you sum up a life in 150 words? Would it read something like this?

Richard Alan Flynn, 47 of Dayton, died unexpectedly this morning. He leaves behind a loving partner, Rob, and a host of family and friends. He also leaves behind some outstanding credit card bills, a car payment, the cable bill, DP&L, an almost completely edited novel, a few dollars in a coffee can under the stove, many unreturned emails and phone calls. Directions to program the universal remote (Rob will never figure it out). He owes several coffees and lunches to friends he's put off. A lot of unexpressed gratitude and love. The memory of a first kiss. An apology for a huge misunderstanding, and lots of hugs.

I know we're supposed to live each day to its fullest, but there will always be something undone, or unsaid. How can we do it all?

We can't live our lives in fear, but I don't know if I'll ever be ready to go. Maybe in fifty years, but I don't know. When you look at this crazy world and all the ways one can die, the real miracle seems to be that we're still here. I'm writing it and you're reading it. A piece of space junk could be falling in our direction at this very moment, but we have now.

As for those credit card bills, who cares? I do hope I find the courage in my heart to express that gratitude and love though. Lunches and coffee sound like an excellent idea as well. And hugs. Lots of hugs. They make my heart smile.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mid-life Crisis.....or Just Plain F*cking Tired

We all know the symbols of a mid-life crisis. The man with the new little red sports car or the woman who suddenly leaves her marriage to have an affair with a younger more exotic man. We know the symbols. We make the jokes. But do we really get it? I think I'm beginning to.

I've held some level of adult responsibly since I was eleven years old when I had a paper route and babysat for my brother and sister. I had one of those morning routes where I had to get up at 4am to stuff my papers and get them delivered in time to get back home and get ready for school. The only time I ever got help was on the morning of January 26, 1978. Why do I remember that? Because that morning began what was called The Blizzard of '78 and I was the only carrier in a four county perimeter who delivered that morning. I had some help because my dad came out into the blizzard to find me and help me finish my route.

I've held some kind of job ever since (except a four month period of unemployment in 2008 which I didn't enjoy nearly enough). Now I'm tired!

I'm tired but not in the I-need-a-nap-before-dinner tired. I mean down to the bones and soul tired. Not just of work, but of adult responsibilities. I'm tired of paying bills and showing up for work on time. I'm tired of walking my dogs and picking up their poop. I'm tired of being nice to people who give me nothing but grief. I'm tired of closing doors and turning off lights and then wondering if we'll have enough money to pay for running the air in 100 degree temperatures. I'm tired of waking up in the middle of the night remembering I forgot to pay the phone bill. I'm tired of bank fees and carrying car insurance. I'm tired of deductibles and pre-existing conditions. I'm tired of hearing about wars and elections. I'm tired of employers and companies acting like they give a shit. I'm tired of big bonuses and corporate greed. I'm tired of dieting and failing. I'm tired of worrying about having enough money for retirement. I'm tired of car accidents and people driving drunk. I'm tired of wearing a seatbelt and using condoms. I'm tired of cancer killing my friends.

I'm just so fucking tired!

So the little red sports car and the affair with an exotic younger men are symbols. Symbols of being tired of being responsible and worrying about consequences. Is that what a mid-life crisis is?

I can't afford the little red sports car and I don't know any exotic younger men who would gave me the time of day. It seems that I am stuck.

Just for a little while I want to say, "Fuck it."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

And the Award Goes to....the Other Guy

We've all seen the award shows where a presenter announces the nominees in a category and the cameras zoom into the faces of the hopefuls as they wait to hear whether or not they've won.

"And the Oscar/Tony/Emmy goes to.... the other guy."

Everyone smiles politely for the camera and does their best acting of the night because they really want to scream, "WTF?! I worked my ass off on that role." Susan Lucci made a career off that polite face as she was nominated nineteen times for the Daytime Emmy for Best Leading Actress before she finally won.

It's not New York or Hollywood, but we have a very active theatre community here in Dayton, Ohio. We also have our own version of the awards called the Daytonys. We also have the one theatre critic in town's Best of the Year column he writes for an e-newspaper. Yesterday it came out.

I've been doing theatre off and on for twenty seven years in Dayton. Some professional, but mostly community theatre or in college. I've worked with a lot of great people over the years and I've had a lot of fun doing it. I'm a character actor and I haven't lost out on too many of the roles I've wanted. I even had my first leading role a few years ago in Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue. I loved it!

The work itself has always been the reward. I love being on stage. I never did it for the awards, but occasionally I've hoped this might be the one that gets me some attention from my peers. That's what I thought when I went to the Daytonys the year I did Prisoner. As we all sat there and the names were called out I heard my leading lady's name get called as a winner. My heart pounded in anticipation because it might finally be my turn. The names continued to be called and then they moved on to the next category. Wait! Where's my name? I was there too.

If you know the show you know it's basically a husband and wife show until the second half of the last act when the family comes on stage. I just didn't understand how she got an award and I didn't. Its not like the Tony's where only one male or female can win in each category. Everyone deemed "worthy" gets an award. Apparently I wasn't worthy, I thought.

I swallowed my pride and went back to work on other shows. I did three or four after that. After all, it really wasn't the awards that motivated me.

This year, after a four year break, I jumped back on the stage and did an unprecedented (for me) three shows this year. Two of the roles really stretched me as an actor. For that I'm grateful, but is it enough? Here's the thing about acting on stage, you can't see yourself. The only way to know if you're doing a good job is the feedback you get from your peers, your director, and the audiences. And we actors are hungry for that feedback.

So yesterday the Year in Review came out. I scoured the listing looking for my name. It wasn't there. Not even as an honorable mention. Okay. Whatever. One person's opinion, right?

Yes, I'm being a needy self centered actor but I'm doing that because I wonder if it's time to give it up. Its fun, but I don't know if I'm any good at it. If I'm not I've got other things to do.

If awards do one thing they make wonder, do I suck?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Who is in Charge?

One of the first things you'll hear in an AA meeting, or any twelve step group, is that you must believe in a power greater than yourself. That's easy. Pretty much anything fits the bill here. Most choose God, or some similar deity, but aren't we at the mercy of pretty much everyone else? Someone is always ready to take charge of our puppet strings.

The government is always taking our money and telling us what we can and cannot do. For example the government tells me I can't marry my partner of sixteen years. Even though I don't have the same rights as others and am not being represented in government I still have to pay taxes. I believe our forefathers called this taxation without representation.

Corporations are greedy powers greater than ourselves. CEOs make the decisions every day that affect their workers and their livelihood. If the profit is looking less than desirable the company lays off workers. The CEO is then rewarded with millions of dollars in bonuses. I'm sure that will trickle down to the poor people he fucked over eventually. At least that's what the Republicans would like us to believe.

Television executives wield their godlike power based on ratings. Ask Ann Curry if she felt in control of her fate when NBC fired her from the Today Show because Good Morning America beat them in the ratings a few times. NBC execs are used to having their heads up their asses though. They are the same idiots who cancelled one of their highest rated shows, Harry's Law, because it wasn't scoring well with the 18-49 age bracket. Apparently no one over 49 spends money.

If you work in customer service you know you're at the mercy of the customers. Companies are so scared of being blackmailed by bad Yelp reviews or blog complaints they bend over backwards with angry, and often wrong, customers. It's the customer service professionals who take the brunt of the abuse on this one.

You can't make it through your day without coming in contact with someone who has more control of your fate than you do, or at least it seems so. Banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, bill collectors, landlords, bosses, police officers, teachers, and many others seem to have power over us. Some control.

As we approach the 4th of July and celebrate the independence of our nation, I wish to declare my own independence. I'm tired of feeling powerless in my own life and at the whim of every wind that blows my way. I hereby declare myself the sovereign state of Rick Flynn. One person under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I may not be able to control everything that's going to happen in my life, but I'm nobody's victim either. I need to stop feeling like it. To the tyrannical "England" I say Fuck you!

May we all find the independence we deserve.