Monday, April 7, 2014

Up in the Air...

While I was in high school I participated in the drama club. I don't think I was all that great an actor, but I could follow directions and I could sing. My big role came when there was a character who was basically me. When the directors decided to do "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," I was excited. I auditioned for the role of Linus, which I thought was perfect for me. I didn't get the part. I was a little bummed, but I wasn't really too sad because I was cast as Charlie Brown. Yep, I was the star of the show. It was a fun production and I really enjoyed it. 

I still identify with Charlie Brown. A lot. Charles Schultz created an everyman that just could not get his kite to fly. He could never actually kick the football out of Lucy's hands. He never pitched a winning baseball game. He never successfully defended his little sister from the playground bully. 

You know what my favorite Peanuts story is? It's a Charlie Brown story, of course. Linus and Lucy have a little brother named Rerun. In one series of strips, Rerun plays marbles against a no-name marble shark. Rerun is using the marbles his grandfather gave him. The marble shark wins and, after the game is over, declares that the game was, "for keeps." Rerun is devastated. On his way home, he bumps into Charlie Brown, who asks him what happened. When Rerun tells Charlie Brown of the kid who took his marbles, Charlie Brown goes into his house and comes out with his own bag of marbles. He walks up to the marble shark and challenges him to a game, "for keeps."

Charlie Brown wins. He wins not only Rerun's marbles, but the shark's as well, which he then gives to Rerun. Now, if Charlie Brown had been trying to win for himself, I don't think he would have. He probably would have lost not only his own marbles, but probably had all his clothes knocked off by a particularly strong play. Since Charlie Brown was sticking up for a younger kid who had been taken advantage of, he won. Handily. Every time I read that series of comic strips I sob. 

Anyway, back to drama. My senior year the drama club performed "Anne of Green Gables." I played about 50 different roles in the play. Well, really, I played four. There were two scenes from that play that were particularly memorable. The first was not in the script. 

Jason, who played Matthew, was supposed to go on stage with Nathan, who was playing a farm hand. There they discover the remains of a party Anne had with her friend Diana, who gets drunk on raspberry currant. Right before this scene is set to go, Nathan steps on a cement screw, the head of which gets impaled in the bottom of his foot, which the point sticking out the bottom. Since Nathan went to the Emergency Room, Jason had to improvise alone in a scene meant for two performers. He did so brilliantly. Nobody in the audience knew that anything was wrong.

The second memorable scene happened later on. Matthew has passed away and Anne, played by Mariah, is talking to Marilla, played by Sara. After a few lines have gone by, Anne turns to Marilla and says, "Oh, Marilla, what are we going to do?" I remember this line because Mariah delivered it perfectly. Her voice and demeanor showed that she was on the verge of completely breaking down. It was a voice on the edge of despair; true emotion from the melodramatic Anne. Every time I saw this scene it felt as if my heart had been ripped from my chest, stomped on several times, then shoved back in upside-down.

This scene has come to mind a lot recently.

Last fall I started applying to graduate schools. My goal is to become a professor.  I applied to six schools. 

All six have said, "No."

Graduate school has been the goal and the plan. My wife and I have been working towards me going to graduate school for a couple years. 

What are we going to do?

I honestly don't know. I feel lost, adrift on an unknown sea, no visible landmarks or stars to guide my path. So far I've managed to keep my depression in check, mostly by avoiding thinking about the future. I have to stop avoiding it and start thinking about what's next. 

Wish me luck.


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