We pick up my moments of oh-kay in July 2010. This was one of the better months, thanks to a little trip to Minneapolis, where I visited with my friends Josh and Tom, posed with bronze sculpture versions of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and other Peanuts characters, and saw Streetcar Named Desire at the Guthrie Theatre. Loved the city, especially its cool indie scene, clean streets and beautiful lakes. There was no better way to say, "Happy Birthday America."
August wasn't as cool as July, but I did enjoy several days of lounging in the sun of Brighton Beach and Jersey Shore. I drank a shit ton, and while drunk and dressed as George Michael alla Wham, I found out that my one-act play, Smiles to Saturn, was going to be produced Off-Off Broadway, marking two productions in one year. Plus, Recovery was honored with two Planet Connections Awards, and I got to make an emotional speech that made people cheer and cry.
September was a pretty quiet month, mostly getting ready for my big trip to Europe, and starting rehearsals for Smiles to Saturn. It was one of those months that went away quietly, with maybe a few emotional blow ups here and there.
October was a bittersweet month. Europe was a blast (see my previous blog entries for more details) and one of the best trips I have ever taken. But when I returned, I had to pack up and leave my apartment in Brooklyn, and New York City. I moved to Stamford, CT, where I now have a room (and office!) overlooking a roaring river. Often, I feel like I am in rehab--only with plenty of wine readily available. Plus, I'm still in the city more often than not.
November was highlighted by Smiles to Saturn at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre. Two of the three nights were sold-out and the play was very well-recieved. My parents and a lot of close friends came, and that was awesome. I loved earning a reputation as a playwright who sells out theaters, and hope it leads to more.
December has been a quiet month for the most part, lots of holiday celebrating, and trying to figure out what will come in 2011. Regardless of still being unemployed, I look back at this time last year and realize how miserable I was. So, I'm way more content with my current state of affairs. Happy, even. Last week, a friend of mine asked me to sum up the year with one word. I answered, "unpredictable." And regardless of what 2011 offers, I hope its equally so.
Thanks for sharing my thoughts in 2010. Happy Holidays!
This year, I said oh-kay to a lot of things. Some decisions weren't the best, but as we know, I find it hard to say no. While others left me smiling days and months after the fact. And since this is the time of year where everyone seems to look back on the year and wonder where the fuck it all went, I figured I'd get in on the act. So, here is a month by month account of my high's and low's. And by high's, I mean enthralling experiences, not drug trippyness.
January -- I got "let go" from a job that I detested. Pro: Freedom, restored sanity and dignity, not having to work for a loser bitch. Con: No more health insurance or steady pay checks. Get through my slump by drinking my face off with some friends in a house upstate. Thanks, friends.
February -- A way better month. My play, Recovery, gets accepted into the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, marking my first Off-Off Bdway production of a full-length play. And no job means more time to do what I was meant to do. Turn 32, and have a fun Three's Company-themed party. Plus, my friend and I go to Savannah and Charleston, where we strolled through historic squares, sipped on sweet tea, and ate a shit load of BBQ. Also decide to treat myself to some Broadway shows: Billy Elliot, Next to Normal and Jersey Boys, all of which were awesome.
March -- always my least favorite month. No exceptions this year. Hit hard by the ones I lost, and unexpected twists make me sad. No need to revisit that.
April -- Better than March. Recovery starts to take flight. I learn what it means to be a "producer." Begin spending most of my days in Prospect Park.
May -- Recovery rehearsals in full-swing. That keeps me busy. Also have a fundraiser for the show, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and that makes me feel loved. Annual Memorial Day at my friend Josh's house enables me to play my favorite game, "Ball Slap." It's not as dirty as it sounds, more like a combo of dodge ball, volley ball, and kickball with very few rules. I am surprisingly good, and that makes me happy. And I finish my novel, which has yet to be published, but I'm still proud of the achievment.
June -- Recovery opens with a bang. Sold out show, and most of the audience loves what they see. The five-show run goes really well, and I am thrilled with the responses. The experience reaffirms that former job can suck it, and I am meant to be a playwright for reals. Also, an article about me appears in my hometown paper, and I'm reunited with a doctor who first treated me for leukemia when I was five on the closing night of the show. That one makes me choke up a little. I've taken aback, in a good way, by the magic of theatre.
Given recent terroist attacks in Stockholm, it seems only fitting that I blog about the last leg of my 2010 European tour, specifically how much I loved the city. Stockholm is an amazing place. It's impossible not to feel at home in Stockholm. During my first ten minutes there, a pretty blond woman waved hello through a bar window, and it was a hell of a greeting. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in Stockholm was gorgeous. Even the homeless people. And, they were all nice, too.
The city itself was clean beyond comparison, and you could swim in their main lake. Imagine being able to do that in the East River. The air was light and crisp, the bars were fun (until someone farted and broke a glass), and the city was beyond accepting. And did I mention all of the breathtaking royal buildings, and the charm of Old Town. I'd give Stockholm a 9 out of 10. It loses a point because I couldn't pronounce the street names. Though translating "Tyrkse Steade" to "Tyra Banks Street" was a highlight of the trip.
So, despite recent occurances, I'd urge everyone to still go for a visit. It's sad that these things happen, and I guess I'm fortuante to having visited two months ago, but we can overcome them by continuing to live. Stockholm, like most of Scandanavia can be a little pricey, so here are some tips for my fellow broke-ass travelers:
1) Stay at the Rex Petit Hotel. Small room (with bunk beds and no window) in a luxury hotel in a great area of town that's half the price of others.
2) Explore the restaurants of Vasastan, a large, mainly residential area which recently has attracted a younger crowd. They are much cheaper than ones in tourist areas.
3) A tour of the Stockholm archipelago is a little pricey, around 35 bucks, but very worth it. Get there half an hour before, though, or the boat will leave without you!
4) Avoid the club, "Manhattan." Not worth the price of admission.
5) Contrary to popular belief, Stockholm isn't a small city, but you can see evrything in 2-3 days. You'll want to avoid the metro (it is pricey) and stroll stroll stroll to your heart's content. The best areas are Gamla Stan (Old Town), Soldermalm (trendy, and a little gay), and Normalm (shopping galore).
I've been to London a few times, and the third time was not the charm. The train ride from Manchester on a Virgin Express had left me sour, thanks to two hours spent next to a smelly, shifty man, and then we had trouble finding our hotel. I was even far from relieved, however, when we arrived at our location, The Langland, which was dirty, creaky and made me feel like I was sleeping in grandma's attic--if grandma was Norman Bates. To save money, we booked a room without a bathroom, so needless to say, I was not a happy camper. I debated peeing in our sink in the middle of the night as to not have to put on shoes and walk down a dark, scary hallway, but decided against it. It's one thing to be desperate, another to be classless.
I woke up the next morning, having not slept at all, and just wanting to say hello to Big Ben. So, off we went, but on the way, got distracted by the half-price ticket booth in Leicster Square, where we scored 14 pound, obstructed view seats to Priscilla: Queen of the Desert: The Musical. Nice. At least we'd get to see a show.
What followed could have been filmed for the Amazing Race. Ernest and I were worried about checking our bags on budget airline Ryan Air--they only allow one carry-on and we had way too much shit, so he came up with the wonderful idea of getting a cheap-ass laundry bag. Well...London isn't cheap, so the odds were against us, and we circled Chinatown until we were dizzy enough to give five dollar hand jobs, but came away with nothing. We searched and searched and searched, until finally, twenty minutes before the show as about to begin, we found the most hideous looking green plastic bag for six pounds. It looked like someone had vomited all over it, but did the trick, and we snatched it up, ran around town some more in search of an Internet cafe (to find a new hotel) and then ran to the theatre.
Wiped off the sweat, had a little photo shoot, and headed inside, where a handsome usher in a little red hat informed us that the section we'd purchases seats for was closed. "Oh fuck," I thought. Now we're not going to get to see the show on top of everything." Before I could spew, "bugger," the happy little man told us we'd receive an upgrade--and we ended sitting in the orchestra, in the seventh row! It was a theatre miracle. The show was great, too. Man in drag, glitter, sparkles, camp, pop music, over the top wardrobes, and even a kangaroo here and there. How could you go wrong?
We were thrilled after the show, and felt like London has paid us back for the crappy hotel and raping our wallets. We went back to the hotel, collected our stuff, and headed for the airport. Easier said than done. First, the metro broke down, and we had to wait a long time for a train. I worried that we would run dangerously late and miss our flight. When we did get on a train, ut was crowded, and hotter than hell. Sweat dripped from every part of my body, and I introduced Ernest to the phrase, "swamp ass." Then he got his stuff caught in the doors, as everyone looked at us like dumb American tourists, and when we arrived at Victoria Station, we had exactly one minute to catch a train to the airport. We made it, thankfully, but I think I lost a lung in the process.
So...if you are going to take a trip to London...
1. Buy the cheapest theatre tickets you can find to a weekday matinee, odds are you will be upgraded to primo seats
2. Don't stay at the Langland Hotel. Cheap and inexpensive are way different.
3. Don't go looking for certain kinds of "spas" down dark alleys. You will be disappointed.
4. Drink at your hotel, then walk around town plastered. You'll save money, and it'll be way more fun.
5. Expect to bleed money, even for the little things.
Next up, Stockholm!
Mark Jason Williams
I find trouble wherever I go