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Maybe This Time

Adair,

It’s odd how January never seems like the new year to me. I’ve mentioned how my birthday is usually my marker for the beginning of a new year, both because July is a more optimistic time than the dead of winter, and it’s in line with my inflated ego to reorient the calendar around me. But there are other moments, my anniversary, the beginning of the school year, and Christmas that also make me pause and think about the year past and the year ahead.

If I had to look ahead right now, I’d be thinking about another year in New York. Another fall that just makes me feel like I’m in When Harry Met Sally, a winter that snows us in just once, a spring that begs for pictures in parks, and another summer sweating in the subway and longing for relief.

The next year is going to see a lot of new projects, and a push like never before to create things on my terms. Working with you has opened me up to working with other partners, and those relationships are beginning to blossom into new ventures that may well be “the project.”

Another year will bring another year of marriage and the wonderful joys and inevitable hurts of a life long partnership. We are also striving to create together, which brings us back to the army days of our friendship working together. This summer’s production of The Last Five Years reminded me of the importance of our creative connection and what beautiful richness that adds to our lives.

My apartment is changing layout and design, I’m changing my diet, having a car is changing our transportation, and the relationships in my life keep changing the creative means I have at my disposal. The next year is going to be one for the record books, no matter how it all turns out.

But why am I looking ahead in the middle of September? What marks this as a moment of reflection and resolve? I’m giving pause right now because in a year we won’t be writing these letters. At the end of this month, we will be finished with this project and moving on to another. I won’t begin to tackle what that means in this letter, but I know that whatever comes next, we’ll still be bothering each other about it every week.

Same time next year?

-Dan

The Artist

Dan,

I grew up in a house filled with music and voices discussing said music. I grew up in a house filled with laughter and doors opening and closing as my family wandered in and out of our vast backyard. I grew up in a house that smelled like coffee percolating and vegetables being sautéed. And I grew up in a house where the walls were never bare, a house filled with art that remains vibrant in my memory

I can play piano (not particularly well anymore but still), I can write a story or a poem with some ease and I can even break into song on occasion. But I have zero skill when it comes to the visual arts. This fact bothers me because I love art; I have a decent collection of original pieces for a 28 year old even.

I would love to draw the images I see in my head, capturing the essence of how a view inspires me or leaves me with my jaw dropped. Unfortunately I can only admire the work of others or attempt to capture the image with my words. Perhaps this is why I’m drawn to poetry, it allows me to paint a picture of a moment using the most beautiful words my vocabulary has to offer. This doesn’t quench the thirst I have some days to sketch a face though.

I’m lucky to have artists in my life, people who make my photos into oil paintings or take instruction so I’m able to have a unique image on wall. People who don’t see sketching as complicated and messy, but as second nature. I cling to those people in the hopes to have the pictures in my head eventually put down on paper so I can share them with the world.

Yes I could probably take classes to develop a basic skill, but I would never capture things as beautifully as I see them in my head. I would end up disappointed. So instead I will leave the visual arts to the skilled people who can make simple things beautiful and I will do my best to create a masterpiece with my words.

Typing along,

Adair

I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues

Adair,

If there is one thing I know about myself, it’s what I can’t do. The list is long and includes welding, drawing, tailoring, Russian folk dancing, and writing jokes in Braille. I’m not great at making lists either, but it seems odd to mention that now.

I’m accomplished in a very finite definition of the word. I excel at using grandiose words to describe my leviathan-esque inferiority complex, but I have trouble spelling my own name. I’m okay with these facts, because I have done many of the things I want to do in life, and I’m working towards others.

But for all my attempts at humor and striving towards some sort of excellence, I know I do lack certain skills. Some, like cooking, I’ve managed to pick up and become competent. But there are some skills that either age, inclination, time commitment, or another excuse have kept me from pursuing. And one such unobtained skill haunts me above all others.

I wish I could play piano.

I sing like I’m trying, I read music like a toddler, but I still perform a fair amount. But I have never had the patience or the diligence to acquire any real level of piano proficiency. This is much to the chagrin of my various piano teachers over the years. Oh yes, it is not opportunity or specialist training I lack, but the wherewithal to focus in an academic setting to master a skill. Because who likes practicing, am I right?

I am reminded of another hack, Kanye West. The man cannot sing, but he still wanted to make music. I can’t play, but I want to make music. If bands still had “front men” I might be in luck. And if I never compared myself to Kanye again, I might actually get ahead in life. But here I sit, barely able to hit the right keys on a laptop, and counting black keys when I find a key signature in a song.

If I could, I’d play the entire Billy Joel catalog. And if I get my life together, over the next 50 years I could get there. But I had a couple shots at gaining skill at piano playing, and I wasted them. This is par for the course of my life, but something I am actively trying to correct as we speak.

Some day, I may play Root Beer Rag with the greatest of ease, but it is not today or tomorrow or five years from now. The truth is I should be a piano player and I am not. But someday I might be better, I might push harder, I may even play a song I love and sing along as if I had been doing it for years. Today, I hunt and peck around middle C and sing songs nice and loud.

Plunking out his part,

-Dan

I’ve Been Failing You

Dear Adair,

So much is going right for me this year. I’ve reached a new level of creative involvement with my peers, new opportunities after a few years of stagnation. So many new things are happening that giving the rundown of “what’s new” to people I don’t see on a regular basis has become a monologue listing these projects. But, this is only half the story.

I am involved with a lot of projects, but I am failing at even more. Half finished scripts, ideas only outlined, a rewrite badly needed, an audition blown off, and a Shakespeare monologue I really need to memorize, are just some of the items in my unfinished business folder.

Just since I started writing this post, I have checked Facebook, looked at The Black List, researched a film financing company and texted my sister. Should I have just sat here and finished this piece? Absolutely. But my attention is something that can be captured or even held for any long period of time (expect by stories of importance and science of all kinds).  My mind can create at the speed of thought, but my thoughts rattle around and trap me in a cycle of thought, attempt, failure and distraction. Rinse and repeat over the last twenty years.

I struggle on a daily basis to make my ideas manifest. Sometimes, my fingers fly and the words fall in the right order and the idea makes it through to the page. A thought comes from my head and into the world and like a demon being driven from my body, I’m freed from the unyielding locomotive of my own consciousness. And sometimes, I watch cartoons and make a sandwich because it is easier than trying to live up to the spark of creativity that won’t shut up for five minutes.

I would say that I’m getting better. And with smaller, more easily created projects and ideas, I am. The poems that used to clog my mind and prevent my sleep are safely in my hard drive. The TV series that would span ten seasons and end with with a roar is still a one page outline, but progress is progress. Every day when I hit the keys and let my mind seep onto the pages of something that may never live beyond the binary coded tomb of my expelled ideas, I am better for it. But those days are hard fought.

I failed to write every day this year. I’ve failed to finish my novel, or even share my play with anyone. But I did start a production company and launch a podcast. I have written thirty poems. And I’ve begun many new and interesting ventures that I can’t wait to share with the world. And if I can keep trying and succeeding to bring some ideas to life, I might one day push myself to having more days like today, where my mind makes the words happen in real life.

Getting better (I hope),

-Dan