Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

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Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

Postby jamesmb113 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:53 pm

I've been on these boards before, I just can't remember the old username. Oh well, I'm back, and loving some of the new format. A few wishes came true since I was last here. 1. Work backstage during a Broadway musical. As usual, I was kind of banging my head against the wall, trying to find some work around here. At the local college (Cal Poly) there was an advertisement for part-time stage hands at the performing arts center. My heart leapt out of my chest like the Kool-Aid Guy and said "Ooohhhh yeah!!!!" I didn't hear anything, so I gave up and looked for more "sensible" jobs. I found one reading meters for the Gas Company. I was ambivalent, I didn't really feel one way or another about this job. I did welcome the opportunity to get away to L.A. for 2 weeks of paid training. The weirdest thing happened. As part of training, you have to read literally hundreds of simulated meters within a given time frame. The first few days were easy. The next few were hell. I just could not get it! So, that Thursday, it looked like I was going to wash out. My cellphone rings. It's "Jane" from the Performing Arts Center. Everything on the application looks great. Can I do an interview? This afternoon? They liked me, I was hired, I said goodbye to the Gas Company. As an on-call, you're generally only called if there's a big event. But I was calling for everything. Set up a banquet? sure, no problem. Cut lighting gel for 2 hours? Heaven. Everyone starts on carpentry. So if say, Anne Murray comes to town, you're helping hang her wide variety of attractive curtains and drops, assembling her band's platform, setting up their music stands, etc. While trying not to trip over the lighting and sound people. After they know you're a trustworthy worker (and after you volunteer to do things like, cut and set gel for the Chieftains, without whining too much about how you want to see them), you're generally moved into lighting and/or sound. Then one day, "Hairspray" came to town. Now there are shows - and there are SHOWS. It might surprise you that Elton John's "Aida" is a show, for example. It can be loaded in and completely set up in about 4 hours, run by the crew of about 5 tech people that tour with it, then torn down and loaded out in about 1.5 to 2 hours. Smoke up if you've got em, fire the truck up, cue up Bob Seger's "Turn the page". Cats, on the other hand is a SHOW. We won't even talk about "Phantom of the Opera" (You can't HANDLE the Phantom! 6 full trucks, plus a 7th where some evil genius controls everything.) So, here comes a SHOW called "Hairspray". 4 trucks, 2 days of load-in, and everyone on the home crew gets called back to do everything from costumes to props. I worked as a prop man on stage right. We actually had to rehearse. And we had lengthy booklets of cues. There's quite a bit of "stand-by" time. No time for modesty - dancers are likely to strip to their skivvies, come stage right to do some backup singing, then head backstage to resume costume changes. Then there's a huge surge of energy and adrenaline when you hear your cue approaching. At one point, I had to help lift a bed onto a rolling platform, then tie a young lady to it. For the big finale, I helped a man in drag step into a giant hairspray can, get him packed in without wrinkling his dress, then shut him in. Roll the whole mess onstage at the proper vocal cue. It was a 3 day run. The 3 happiest of my working life.
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Re: Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

Postby jamesmb113 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:54 pm

2. Finished my degree I left college in a hurry. I told myself I was going off to graduate school. I was really running away from home. I had worked 4 years, done my Junior and Senior recitals, done my Concerto performance...not bad for someone with ADD and a Non-Verbal Learning disability (both undiagnosed). So it especially irked me when I found out that my degree was NOT being conferred. I had failed my last 3 hours of French. Off to North Texas. Get my graduate deficiency courses taken care of as I finish off those last 3 hours. Done in a summer, right? Riiiiighht. Met someone, shacked up with someone, got a job, blah blah. Very grateful for all of this, btw. But no progress on the degree. Until 2008. October. I have heart-attack like symptoms. I'm in the hospital 3 times. Each time, tests come back equivocal. That's medical-ese for "most likely not, but who the hell knows? You might wanna throw out that bucket of extra crispy, though." So kids, what happens when we can't explain it, and Uber-Scanner Dr. House isn't there with his team of "Diver" lackeys to get to the bottom of it? That's right boys and girls - Psychiatric referral! It's probably "just stress". Or you're completely off your nut. Either way, you can't do your normal fallback job anymore. Or any physical labor. Good luck. So now I'm at home ALL the time, got 2 kids now, chase 'em all day (Yeah, no physical labor. Good one, doc. Almost as funny as the one about the half-deaf genie and the 9 inch pianist). More as excuse to get out of the house than anything else, I start checking courses at the local community college. Just for grins and giggles, I call the registrar at my old university. Just what would I need to transfer to finish? Original answer - 12 hours. 3 hours of French, 6 of science, 3 more of English. My gut told me to double check that with the new Dean of the Music department. She said she'd check back with me in a week or two. Two weeks later, I see her number on the caller ID. Cool. Let's see what she says. She was actually calling to congratulate me on the eve of my graduation with a Bachelor of Science in Music. You see, I scanned a lot in college. Took extra courses in the summer, just so I wouldn't have to go home and listen to the "when are you going to buckle down and settle on a direction" lectures. "So, Mr. Burkeen - those "silly" psychology classes you barely passed? Your science requirement. That random, out of nowhere 400 level American lit class? So what if it's not composition, I'll accept it. Which leaves 3 hours of foreign language. "Now, these days, if we have students with ADD or other learning disabilities, we let them substitute multicultural studies classes. That "waste of time" international cinema course? That's exactly what I'm looking for." Well I'm paraphrasing, but... I could badmouth the ex and in-laws at this point. But that's not the cowboy way.
Last edited by jamesmb113 on Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

Postby jamesmb113 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:02 pm

3. Meet a famous person. I got a curt nod from David Copperfield after his show at the PAC. I almost literally ran into Lou Reed. But I was going for more than a nodding acquaintance. I wanted to make brief conversation at least. When I was working internet tech support, I got a call from " (company name), Maine". The customer was somewhat miffed about his email connection. His voice bordered on the nerdy, but also had great self-confidence. I pictured a guy with glasses and dark hair, speckled with gray. I had to break the news that there was an outage in his area, we were working very hard to get it fixed, etc. He sighed, then asked to be transferred for a credit. I asked the name. "Stephen King." I sought to lighten the moment. "Any relation?" I wouldn't say he was amused. But I did detect a hint of a sly grin: "No, and I'm going to kill the next person who asks that." "So is that spelled with a v or a p?" "Look, I know you''re just doing your job, but get me the hell out of here, Ok?" I put down v in the record, it went through under that spelling, I transferred the poor guy to whatever hellish billing negotiations he was about to undergo. A week or two later, I checked out a book on CD of Stephen King reading his own stories. I nearly wrecked the car. It was the same voice. To a T. I've also met Diane Lane twice, doing deliveries. The first time, I guess I woke her up. She came out in bed clothes, yawning. I thought she was the house-sitter.
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Re: Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

Postby jamesmb113 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:15 pm

Ok, one more, then I'll shut up and let someone else talk. 4. Be quoted or discussed in a Self-help or Psychology book. This one's brief. I made this wish somewhat cynically as I was making my tour through those psychiatric referrals the Doctors gave me. Now, I mentioned that I had been on these boards before. As in way back. As in, when Barbara Sher was writing "Refuse to Choose". I had made some sort of offhand remark about liking to lift weights AND loving books. "What am I supposed to be? Conan the Librarian?" I was very impressed that Barbara took the time to write a lengthy response. What she said helped me in so many ways in the interceding years. Fast-forward to 2009, when I finally get around to reading "Refuse to Choose". There's my quote! I didn't think much of it when she had asked permission to use my quote or story. Sure. Why not? But writing a book's a big endeavor. I'm sure she sees about 20 people more interesting than me in a morning. But there it was.
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Re: Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

Postby Unity » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:16 am

Hi James, I enjoyed reading your posts and think they will inspire others. I've found in life that many people who say they want to achieve a certain goal, fall at the first hurdle because they believe that in order to do anything, you need special requirements that everyone else seems to have and it's obvious that they don't have, so why bother to try anything as it will inevitably lead to failure. A common one is they wish they were clairvoyant and see every step of the road ahead so they know it is worth starting. Or have a permanent group of supporters and approvers encouraging them all the time. So I think it's helpful for others, that you have written about your challenges and how you overcame them.
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Re: Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

Postby Scenario Thinker » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:59 am

jamesmb113 wrote:I've been on these boards before, I just can't remember the old username.
Was it JamesMB?
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Re: Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

Postby Scenario Thinker » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:52 am

jamesmb113 wrote:As in, when Barbara Sher was writing "Refuse to Choose". I had made some sort of offhand remark about liking to lift weights AND loving books. "What am I supposed to be? Conan the Librarian?" I was very impressed that Barbara took the time to write a lengthy response. What she said helped me in so many ways in the interceding years. Fast-forward to 2009, when I finally get around to reading "Refuse to Choose". There's my quote! I didn't think much of it when she had asked permission to use my quote or story. Sure. Why not? But writing a book's a big endeavor. I'm sure she sees about 20 people more interesting than me in a morning. But there it was.
Or was it eucharius? I think I found that exchange ... viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1038&p=10655#p10642 Although the Conan comment might have been in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4188
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Re: Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

Postby jamesmb113 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:06 pm

S.Thinker, you're amazing. It's like being in a time machine, wanting to yell at yourself "Just do it!!" "Oh and in 2008 you'll become disabled. Both the rehab lady and your in-laws will hammer you to just give up the idea. Ignore them. The demand for that type of librarian will continue to go up, though in increasingly specialized fields, like archives and legal libraries. Remember your friend high school friend "Hailey"? Now that Jerry Garcia's dead, she's going back to finish HER degree. By the time you meet her again, she'll be a program director for a public library in Kentucky. Ask her. She'll confirm it."
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Re: Worked at a musical, Finished Degree, and a few other things

Postby jamesmb113 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:51 pm

Unity - A big pattern in my life has been "hurry up and wait" - but DON'T give up. Wanna know one of the things that saddens me the most? How often we pass up on a dream or on success itself, when all we had to do was ask a question, take a step that seemed odd yet somehow "right", or just take put in 5 more minutes in the practice room. Do you like irony? Or believe in synchronicity? When I finished the above paragraph ("Wanna know..etc."), the following line came through on my iPod: "Some often times it happens that we live our lives in chains And we never even know we have the key" The Eagles - "Already Gone"
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