The back end of this year has been pretty good to me.
For the first time, I earned a living wage while performing on stage. The opera (at least, Chicago’s Lyric Opera Company) pays on multiple scales, and I was in the category that compensates for having skills above and beyond “wear this” and “stand there”.
Because I performed with the Lyric, I joined a union. I am now a member of the American Guild of Musical Artists, which means I have health insurance through my job just like a real-life adult.
I got married. A small ceremony in our living room was wonderful – there were only eight people in the room, including my Lady Love and I. Because we handled it so small, we got to have it faster than if we’d planned a big production, and we got to do the whole thing cheaper than most people spend on invitations alone.
I got cast in a film. It’s called Thrill Ride, and hopefully it’ll be released in a reasonable amount of time. The story was written by the son of the director, who died from a brain tumor at the age of ten. This film is not only a father’s way to remember his lost son, but funds from the movie are going to research the rare disease the boy had. To be asked to help tell his final story is an unique kind of honor.
Because I’ve had enough on-camera success lately, I joined another union. I’m now a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild / American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which means I’m now permitted to swim in a larger pool. I’ve succeeded in this industry to the point I now have people looking out to ensure a minimum standard for my work and compensation. This is finally starting to look more like a career than a hobby.
I got an extremely part-time job as a standardized patient with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. It pays well and it’s honorable. I’m not a healer, but this work helps me to train future medical professionals to practice empathy and professionalism. Hopefully I’m helping doctors to not just heal their patients, but allow them to feel respected and cared for.
I got cast in a role that has nothing to do with my physicality, but rather because of my talent – Akvavit Theatre’s Blue Planet. The majority of roles I’m asked to audition for are named things like Tall Man or Burly Guy. There’s usually a height requirement. Of course I should audition for those things, but I rarely get opportunities like this one where people ask me to analyze text or access vulnerable emotions like I practiced doing for three years in graduate school.
Most recently, I finally got to actually sit down and watch a production of A Klingon Christmas Carol instead of immersing myself in performing it. It was pretty neat to know the show so well I didn’t have to read the translated supertitles.
These things have come together to remind me of a few important lessons. Whether for love or for money, the things that come into my life won’t stay, but neither will they stay gone. Success is not linear, and failure is not permanent.
Now I bet if I can lose five pounds before the year is out, I can lose the next fifty, too.