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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

by John Paul Sharp November, 2011

Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Table of Contents:

1. Effing Facebook and the Damned Internet

2. Best Performance and Broke as Hell

3. Addiction ʼs a Bitch and So Am I

4. I Hate Amateurs.

5. I ʼ m Getting Fat!

6. I Owen Pallett

7. Car-less is not Clueless

8. #occupypolitics

9. A Noose or a Gun Gets the Same Job Done.

10. I Hope I Get It!

11. I Blame Skyrim.

12. I Blame Skyrim.

13. I Blame Skyrim.

14. The Desire to Escape.

15. Men ʻn Me

16. Reverse Racist!

17. Online Bad-Asses Are Anything But

18. People Aren ʼt Disappointing, Are They?

19. My Brain ʼ s On Fire

20. Things I ʼ m Grateful For

21. Make Your Own Kind of Music

22. Only in My Dreams

23. 2012 is Gonna Be CRAZY

24. I ʼ m Stuffed Like That Turkey

25. My Heaven Has Cats

26. Looking Ahead to the Next Year

27. So Proud of Myselfs

28. The End of the World

29. My Obituary

30. Silence is Golden

Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Day One: Effing Facebook and the Damned Internet

I ʼ m taking a hiatus from Facebook, Google+, Twitter and all those social

networks that I ʼm connected to. I tend to do this every year around this time. There ʼ s something about November that brings me to a place where Iʼ m just fed up with the personas that people, myself included, put out there in the great world wide web. Usually what triggers my hiatus is that Iʼ ve pissed someone off or they

have pissed me off about something. If there ʼ s anything that social networks do, they show you how disappointing people can be. Let me tell you what started it this year.

I was rather active on Facebook yesterday. I posted lots of random

thoughts about how I almost left the house with slippers on and how sunny it was and how I ʼ d listen to RuPaulʼ s Champion music album. I also happened to post another simple, random thought, which happened to stir up some emotions within

a specific person, a former music professor of mine who Iʼ ve worked a lot with over the last few years.

I stated the fact that I didnʼ t care if singer Chris Brown hated gay people

and that I still thought his voice was yummy. My old professor commented on my status update: “Ummm, he also thinks itʼ s okay to hit women.” Uh-oh. I had forgotten all about that. You see, I recognize the media has a tendency to oversimplify events and situations that occur between celebrity figures. This, in turn, allows me to easily

forget fundamental issues the media decides to cover that don ʼ t necessarily have

a direct consequence for me. Chris Brown hitting Rhianna doesn ʼ t directly affect me as much as his anti-gay comments he keeps putting out there. My response to her comment was an attempt to explain Chris Brownʼ s violent behavior. I believe that Chris Brown is probably gay himself and because he ʼs steeped in an extremely homophobic community and held to a higher standard much like bacteria under a microscope, violence is his way of acting out.

My former professor responded with something to the effect of: “No. Sorry. You can ʼ t rationalize hitting a woman. Itʼ s unacceptable whether he ʼ s straight or gay or whatever.” My attempt to explain his actions were construed as a way to justify his actions and that was not what I was trying to do at all. In my mind, she was saying to me that I should not find Chris Brown ʼ s voice to be yummy and at the very least, I should not be posting on the Internet that he provides anything of value to the world because of an incident of his domestic violence that the media blasted for months.

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Before I read her response, I had also posted another status update about how I need to fulfill one hundred hours of volunteer work in a counseling-related capacity and whether anyone had any ideas of a good organization I could work

with in Seattle. During all these interactions, I was actually on the way to the admissions department of Antioch University as I ʼ ve been seriously considering getting a second masters degree in Drama Therapy. The one hundred hours are part of the minimum requirements of becoming admitted to the college.

I received a response to my inquiry almost immediately from someone

about how I should volunteer for a domestic violence helpline. I didn ʼ t put together the connection that this other person responded because of my Chris Brown conversation held just minutes before this status update. It wasn ʼ t until I got home that I saw my old professor liked this domestic- violence response that I made the connection that the person who offered the suggestion was also reacting to the Chris Brown conversation. It ʼ s so easy to forget every little thing you post on Facebook is truly being broadcast to

hundreds of people, especially when you have 2500+ persons on your friends list like I do.

I responded to my former professors comments about how she felt I was

rationalizing hitting women. I bluntly posted that I did not find violence or hitting anyone, regardless of gender, was an acceptable situation at all. Realizing that I might have pissed her off even more by implying that women and men should be treated equally in regard to violence, I became ever more frustrated with the day ʼs online interactions.

I then posted a rather intellectual and passive-aggressive statement on my

Facebook and Google+ page, because, yes, thatʼ s what we do when we don ʼ t

want to just be direct anymore, isn ʼ t it? It went something like this: “As a life-long learner, I have been trained to view events and situations from several, almost unlimited, angles. Because of this, I think I am misconstrued as someone who is overly accepting and not able or willing to take a stand on important issues. While this may be true, to an extent, I find it difficult to follow black and white reasoning when I suspect there might be color involved.”

I think what I find most frustrating about social interactions on networks like

Facebook and Google+ is that black and white reasoning truly trumps any type of explorations into the more colorful aspects about anything. In some ways, these social networks are a reflection of what I believe is a move away from critical thinking on behalf of society and people in general. After all, this was just about Chris Brown ʼ s yummy voice. I can easily separate his personality and personal life from his artistry, but I realize many others cannot and wish not to tolerate others who do. My natural instinct is to feel defensive and possibly come up with a list of all sorts of artistic personalities that

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are immoral, but whose work my former professor might enjoy - just to say something like, “You know Frank Sinatra was said to have ties to the mafia, but I bet you don ʼ t care about that, do you? Even though the mafia kills people for some of the most trivial reasons! Lots of people praise his work, regardless of this fact, don ʼ t they?” But then, whenever I actually take the time to look up that information, I lose energy with the whole thing and just feel dejected. What follows my feelings of dejection are the more logical thoughts that tell me, “Wait a minute. Let ʼ s see if we can fix this.” I then decided to send a direct message to my former professor with an apology. “I ʼ m sorry if I offended you today! That was not my intention! I tend to separate the personality from the artist, but you are right. What he did is unacceptable.” I just left it at that. After all, I have admired this person for many years and have always wanted her to think well of me. Also, we have done business together every year as I have transcribed and arranged music for her choirs. This amounts to at least five hundred dollars of income doing something in the realm of music and that is also very, very important to me. Within minutes of sending her the direct message, I saw that I had received numerous likes to my passive-aggressive posting about having a hard time following black and white reasoning. I immediately regretted it, thinking that

she would most likely see this posting if I were to keep it up - if she hadn ʼ t seen it already. I decided right then and there that I needed to delete everything: the chris brown conversation, my passive-aggressive posting and even my inquiry about volunteer opportunities in a counseling-related capacity. Though, I ʼ d say that last one was deleted due to my own embarrassment attached with the entire day ʼs interactions. When all the content was deleted, I made up my mind that it was time to take a hiatus from all the social networks until at least Thanksgiving, so I posted an announcement stating my decision. I would take the whole month off, but I have to promote my theatre shows in December about a week before hand. After all, my main reason for social networking has always been about promoting my work as an artist. I just wish, sometimes, that was all my only purpose for having

a persona online. If your head is spinning after reading all the words above, donʼ t worry. It

should be as my own is. It ʼ s the reason why I ʼ m taking a hiatus, because when all

is said and done, it ʼ s just a bunch of unnecessary nonsense and drama that can

be as preventable as not expressing or acting out online in the first place. I think many of us who use Facebook multiple times a day are simply addicted. I knew before I made the decision to take a break that it would be difficult. Within an hour of signing off and removing the social networking applications from my phone, I was already wondering how many notifications I ʼ d

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received or if my former professor had responded to my apologetic direct message. When I woke up today, I had to fight the urge to open my laptop and check all the sites. I check my Facebook more than I even check my e-mail most of the time. Just in general living, there are moments every now and then where my actual brain thinks in terms of status updates. Itʼ s like my thoughts are sometimes formed in how they can be posted online. I know, as I have done this in previous years, that the more days that go by that I don ʼ t check, the more I ʼ ll find other, better things to do. But, like any addiction, there will be a period of angst, a detox of sorts, that must take place. Unfortunately, Facebook isn ʼ t like some illegal drug out there where complete removal is the best course of action. Eventually, I will need to get back on start posting again. As a performing artist, the only good way to promote a show these days is by making others aware of my events online. However, by taking this three week break, I ʼ ll have more time to do other things and perhaps rework my brain so it doesn ʼ t feel so attached to checking in. Hopefully, when I come back, I will be refreshed and more thoughtful about the comments and status updates I put out there in the world. Hopefully, I ʼ ll come to realize it is not so crucial to post every little thought that pops into my head. I want to relearn the idea of holding back and only posting quality over quantity. Not everything that comes into my thoughts and experiences needs to be shared. Some moments hold more value when they are kept to myself and held sacred through their isolation. Instead of posting random thoughts and experiences online this month, I ʼ ll write my thoughts in the more structured form of essays. Perhaps, in this new method of reflection, I ʼ ll come to a better sense of self; a self that is more careful - not out of fear of offending anyone, but through the strength and solidarity of having learned more about what I want to share with the world. Thirty thoughts in thirty days. One down, twenty-nine to go.

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Day Two: Best Performance and Broke as Hell

Last night, I went to the Writers and Actors Reading and Performing (W.A.R.P) group for their “Bumper Night.” Every Tuesday night, they meet at the Odd Duck Studio in Capitol Hill, Seattle, where budding playwrights bring their scripts to be read and critiqued. I ended up being involved in this group when I went on my first audition after moving here. I chose to audition for their Halloween show because it only involved cold readings and I wasn ʼ t in a place where I wanted to memorize a monologue yet. They cast me in four plays and the experience on the whole has been great. Let me explain the Bumper Night. All the playwrights brought one to five minute scripts to be read by their chosen actors. Iʼ d say about five of us were

there simply to act and not have any scripts read. I ended up having six scripts in my hand and one of my fellow actors only had two. I went ahead and gave him a few of the scripts that I had which did not call out to me. When all the scripts were passed around, the titles were called out and someone wrote all of them down. Once they were noted, someone would call out

a random title and the actors would come up to the black box stage and cold-

read the script. After all scripts were read, there were about twenty of them,

everyone in the audience voted for their top three scripts and their favorite actor performance.

I had four plays in my hand. One was a one page script between two

turkeys. Another was a longer script between a cat and a mouse. Then I had two monologues, one being a guy writing a poem while waiting for a Roger Daltry concert to end and another being a man explaining to an officer what happened at his family ʼ s Thanksgiving dinner.

I have a process that I ʼ ve developed when I do cold readings like this. I

read the script and figure out what type of voice my character has. I believe this

is the difference between myself and a lot of other actors. While others might

think about what type of personality a character has, I do the same, but I do it by determining what type of voice the character has.

I had a specific, theatrical, almost British voice for the cat. I chose a

garbled voice for the turkey. I decided the man talking to the officer had a southern, slightly redneck dialect and a deep voice. The only one I couldn ʼ t put a specific voice together for was the man writing a poem. It ʼ s probably because there wasn ʼ t enough information for me to gather about what type of man was writing this poem, so I did my best to have a neutral voice for him. Surprisingly enough, the neutral voices are the hardest for me to pull off because in some ways, I struggle to relate to the character ʼ s experience in whatʼ s written for the script.

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Needless to say, you can probably deduce the fact that I received the Best Performance vote from the crowd last night. The person counting the votes said I blew everyone out of the water. All the scripts that I read, with the exception of the poem writing script, were in the top three, as third place had four scripts tied. My southern rednecked voice helped put that particular script into first place. I ended up getting a big bag of Mars bars as my prize. As I was leaving at the end of the night, the guy who wrote the top winning script asked me if I was going to stick around. I responded with, “What - right now?” He said he meant to ask whether I ʼ d be sticking around for the long haul. I shrugged and told him that I probably would. I ʼ m pretty sure I know why he asked. W.A.R.P. is a great group and Iʼ m grateful to them for giving me my debut theatre experience in Seattle. However, most of these playwrights are in their sixties and not all of them are the best writers. Also, in my experiences with the many, many rehearsals I had, not all of them are the best directors either. I can understand why people with great talent end up moving on because they get better roles in more professional venues. Most of my rehearsals for W.A.R.P. were in people ʼs homes, not an actual theatre. I believe I ʼ ll always do my best to stick around with W.A.R.P. when I can, not only because they gave me my debut experience but also because one of the directors paid me $25 at the end of the Halloween show. Thatʼ s something I have to respect because it is such a rare thing for actors to get paid anything when it comes to theatre. In fact, I have no idea where the paying jobs are for theatre. The only way I could fathom getting paid to act in theatre is to 1) write your own show, 2) be the only actor in your show and 3) take all the money for yourself after paying for the venue. Having written and produced my own shows, I know how difficult it is to just break even, let alone make extra money. My first musical, My Big Phat Gay Musical, raised over $1000 for one weekend, but thatʼ s after paying $600 for the venue, $100 for the sound guy and I did not pay my actors at all. Of course, I did not make $1000 either because it was all for charity. It ʼs frustrating for me, because out of all the things I can be really successful at, so few of them actually earn any money for me. How can I be such a great actor and be unemployed and living off of school loans? I like to think I have a lot of skills that people could benefit from, but every job I apply and interview for leads to rejection. Every audition I go to leads to a new show that I don ʼ t get paid to act in. I keep hoping that if I just dive into acting, eventually it will lead to paid positions. I think, in the back of my mind, this line of thinking of probably a pipe dream - but I don ʼ t know what else to do, really!

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When I went to Antioch University the other day, to investigate with their Admissions department as to the probability of me getting admitted to their Drama Therapy program, I had a conversation with a woman in charge there. I mentioned to her that I had been unemployed since May of 2010 and that I couldn ʼ t even get a job as a barista with Starbucks. She looked taken aback and basically told me that I shouldn ʼ t even be applying for those types of jobs with my education level. But what jobs do I apply for, then? I have a bachelors degree in Vocal Performance. I ʼ m about to finish a masters degree in eLearning implementation and design. All the jobs I ʼ ve seen for eLearning require that I have so many years of experience designing instruction or training in specific fields. Most of these jobs require that I have a bachelors degree in anything but vocal performance. Part of the problem is the economy, I think. There probably aren ʼ t enough jobs to go around for employers to take a chance on someone like me. The only people getting jobs today are the people who are 100% fits for the positions.

Also, I am an actor and I can ʼ t be available 24/7 for any top of job. I need to work during the day time because rehearsals and performances are always at night. I don ʼ t want to apply for a job and tell them Iʼ m completely available when the simple truth is that I ʼ m not. The employers I ʼ ve applied to and interviewed for aren ʼ t hiring people who are less than 100% available, day and night. What am I supposed to do? Give up theatre so I can have a job? If it were even that simple, what type of job can I have in this economy? Iʼ ve even applied for jobs that I said Iʼ d never work again, like waiting tables. Still, not hired. So, will I be there for W.A.R.P. for the long haul? I guess it all depends on how long I can keep paying rent. For the last few years, I ʼ ve been paying rent with school money and unemployment. Unemployment runs out before 2011 is over and eventually, I ʼll graduate.

I ʼ m thinking that I ʼ ll do what I can to get admitted to Antioch University,

though the obstacles for this are somewhat high. I need to fulfill one hundred hours of volunteer work in a counseling-related capacity and I also need to take Abnormal Psychology and Theories of Personality before I can even attempt to apply.

If I do all these things, including recommendation letters and essays and financial aid, I ʼ ll be a therapist by 2015 or 2016. If I thought that I could make this a reality, I ʼ d actually do it. I ʼ m not sure if Iʼ m the best person to give therapy, but I am talented as a writer and actor and I could see myself having a job and a career where I ʼm helping people. However, I have to take into consideration that Iʼ d be in school for ten years by 2015 and I ʼd probably be about $120,000 in school loan debt. I just don ʼ t know what to do anymore when it comes to a career that could provide any

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type of sustainability for myself or my family. I know my mother is tired of waiting to hear that I ʼm getting a paycheck of some kind. I honestly don ʼ t know what to do.

For now, Iʼ m just following my heart and going where my successes seem to be. So far, in Seattle, my success seems to come from acting. Iʼ ll just keep on going to auditions and do as many shows as my schedule will allow. Iʼ ll keep living off of student loans and apply for jobs that I think I might be good for. I ʼ ll just pray that someday, everything I ʼ m doing will make sense and pay off in a way that will provide some sort of financial security. But most of all, I think Iʼ m learning how to embrace being poor. I just don ʼ t want to be so poor that I don ʼ t know how Iʼ ll pay rent from month to month. I want to find a way to make enough money to just take care of the essentials. That would be much easier if I didn ʼ t have a mountain of school debt and credit card balances, but then, that is another thought for another day.

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Day Three: Addiction ʼ s a Bitch and So Am I

I ʼ m only on day three and Iʼ m struggling to decide what thought to drive

into the ground. I have a lot of options I ʼ m thinking about, but I wasn ʼ t sure which one to go with next. I suppose addiction had to come sooner or later, so why not

get it over with? I ʼ ve spent my whole life being addicted to stuff. I don ʼ t know if I ʼ m to blame my DNA, my parents or, quite simply, myself. In regard to blaming DNA, from what Iʼ ve heard, both my grandparents on my father ʼ s side were alcoholics and pretty much died from it. My Aunt Mary has done pretty much every drug under the book and my father has had his own run ins with beer and DUI ʼs. Even my sister was said to have had a drinking problem in the six months leading up to her suicide. Addiction is definitely in our blood. I, myself, have never had a drinking problem. Well, I had a drinking problem for a month or so when I was 18 years old. But I got so sick from drinking countless shots of Yukon Jack that I never really was able to get a tolerance that would allow for something like a habit of drinking. My addictions have almost been exclusively related to smoking. If I could smoke it, I ʼ d make a habit out of it: cigarettes, weed, meth, coke, etc. Anything I could smoke. My parents divorced when I was three years old and all throughout my childhood, I craved attention and love from anyone who would give it to me. This is probably how I became a good actor in life and on stage. Itʼ s also probably why I ended up having sex with hundreds of men from my teenage years until my early 20 ʼ s. Of course, this behavior led to massive drug use, or perhaps, more accurately, sex and drugs came along, hand-in-hand. The older you get, the more you just have to blame yourself for any addiction. After all, once you ʼ ve recognized the fact that you are indeed addicted to substances, you eventually have to acknowledge that you are the only one with the true power to stop yourself from continuing the cycle. While that is easier said than done, the truth of the statement does not falter in anyway. Only the addicted can break free.

I ʼ m a person that has never been known for temperance. I am a man of

extremes and it ʼ s a curse and a blessing. My extreme personality explains why I earned a 3.94 GPA for my bachelor degree. It explains why I ended up singing the National Anthem at my own graduation. It explains why Iʼ ve done as much as

I ʼ ve done in my late 20 ʼ s. Of course, it also explains why I earned a 2.67 GPA in

high school and it explains why I ended up in the hospital in my early 20 ʼ s with psychotic paranoid delusions due to a six day meth/marijuana/crack bender. It explains how many times I ʼ ve put myself in situations to be raped and it explains how I survived all those incidents.

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I ʼ ve survived a tremendous amount of traumatic moments in life and I can

honestly say that I willingly put myself right into each and every one of them. I don ʼ t blame my DNA - well, maybe a little bit. I certainly don ʼ t blame my parents - hell, if I were to go in that direction, I might as well blame their parents and their parents and so on. No, I just blame myself. So, how addicted am I these days? I haven ʼ t touched meth in several years. I ʼ ll be reaching ten years without that stuff pretty soon. Iʼ m actually pretty amazed that I was able to smoke as much meth as I did and come out of it with my life, my mind and my general health. The one permanent damage that meth scarred me with is my wonderful H.P.V. Yep, that ʼ s right. I ʼ ve had anal warts for ten years. The anal warts were a gift from a Vietnamese man who basically raped me in his apartment. We hung out for an entire weekend and I even hung out with him a little bit after he raped me. He decided he wanted to fuck me hard and I decided it hurt and when I tried to push him off of me, he just kept going even harder and harder. I eventually left my own mind because I couldn ʼ t take the whole thing. I don ʼ t know what you would call that. Itʼ s some kind of defense mechanism. I just remember him pulling off of me when he was finished and I was laying there on the floor, unresponsive, watching a video game in my mind. Ahh, good old meth. A day or so later, I went to the clinic because I couldn ʼ t poop. Everything down there had pretty much shut down. I felt like I had to poop and I ʼ d sit down and push and nothing would really happen, except for some small bleeding. The doctor at the clinic told me I had such a chronic form of HPV, with torn fissures in my ass, that Iʼ d never be able to get it under control. I mean, no one ever loses HPV once you have them, but my warts were not just on the outside, but inside as well. I ʼ d have to have major surgery and it wouldn ʼ t even guarantee that they stayed away. After all, it ʼ s a virus. This is not a big problem for me. It does affect my sex life. As a single man, I rarely put myself in sexual situations with men again. Even in my relationships before my current boyfriend, I never told them and never allowed them to put their thing in my behind. Needless to say, that leads to awkward questions that remained unanswered for my ex ʼ s. My current boyfriend knows about them and doesn ʼ t care, but I know he ʼ s probably a little disappointed since he loves to eat ass and my ass has a few warts winking back at him. Let ʼ s just say, he doesn ʼ t try to eat my ass. I don ʼt even let him put his thing in my behind very often because he ʼs got a big one and I ʼ m a small guy and itʼ s just not the most pleasant experience for me. It ʼs not totally terrible, but it ʼ s not something I would want to do every day or even once a month. It ʼ s more like once in a blue moon. The poor

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guy - but he loves me anyway - and for that, Iʼ m eternally grateful. I try to please him in other ways, but we have a ways to go on our journey of sexual enjoyment. I was a major weed smoker for several years. I like to think I transferred my addiction from meth to marijuana. Even in Denver, I had a medical marijuana card and used to drop an easy hundred bucks every week and a half. Oh, my credit card balances are as awful as they are because of a good six month fantasy world where all I had to do was go to the store to get my drugs. In some ways, I miss those days, but for the most part, I ʼ m glad I moved because who knows how much farther I would have dug myself into debt from all the marijuana I was buying. It wasn ʼ t until this past summer - just a few months ago - that I finally quit buying marijuana. Because I could not get a card here in Seattle, or at least, it was really difficult and expensive, I made it my summer mission to find a marijuana dealer who could supply me the way I used to supply myself. For a few months there, I did find someone, but he dicked me around so much that I eventually gave up and decided that I was no longer going to let my peace of mind be dependent on a drug that was becoming harder and harder for me to access due to the new 2nd class status of having to deal with stupid, goddamned dope dealers. Don ʼ t get me wrong; I love marijuana and if I were rich and had lots of access, I ʼ d probably get high every day like I was doing for so many years. This is not the case, though, and so, as a man of extremes, it pretty much had to be an all or nothing kind of thing. A nothing kind of thing, really. And I ʼ m happier now that I don ʼ t smoke weed every day. I get out of the house more often. I ʼ m doing more shows. Iʼ m heading somewhere in my life because I ʼ m not so agoraphobic. Yes, I ʼ m kind of a bitch sometimes, a little more intolerant than normal, but in general, Iʼ m happy. And on the occasions when someone else happens to have marijuana on them and offers to share, it ʼ s so much more exciting when I partake. It ʼ s like an actual, real treat! Plus - I can remember my dreams now. Iʼ m dreaming every night and I think my brain is coming more alive. I seem to have no problem memorizing large amounts of lines that I ʼm not quite sure Iʼ d have such an easy time with had I not stopped smoking like I did. So, now, all I have left are cigarettes and soda. I drink way too much soda all the time. I can ʼt help it. But I ʼ m not worried about soda as much as I am cigarettes. The cigarettes have got to go and sooner than later. Iʼ m trying not to stress too much about it right now because I did just quit marijuana. One step at a time. I ʼ m getting there.

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John Paul Sharp

Like anything in life, your own situations and life circumstances are, as I mentioned earlier, both your blessing and your curse. The goal is to make them more of a blessing as you get older and older. I think I ʼ m getting there.

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Four: I Hate Amateurs.

John Paul Sharp

I ʼ m really not trying to make this book full of angst-ridden vents, but when I

think of what I want to write about every day, the things that come to mind are the matters which are currently affecting me the most. As of today, it ʼ s amateur theatre people. Ugh, they just get under my skin! So, as of right now, I ʼ m in two theatre productions: 1) Herb & Jennifer (H&J) and 2) Sweet and Decent/Dark and Twisty (SD/DT). I was cast in H&J first and I have the principal role of Herb in this 45 minute play. I also have the principal role of Roger in SD/DT. Both shows are at the Ballard Undergound

theatre back-to-back. I had a feeling it might be stressful, but I thought perhaps I could juggle both shows.

I ʼ ve worked very hard on my role for Herb. I ʼ ve memorized the entire play

before the second rehearsal because I knew I might get cast in the other show.

What ʼ s truly frustrating is that I received my rehearsal schedule for SD/DT before H&J decided to get theirs together. This may not appear like a big deal to you, but let me try to explain it. When I was cast in SD/DT, I told them right off that I was already cast in H&J and that the only major problem would probably be in time conflicts. Lucy, one of the directors of that show, let me know that it was fine with them and they would work their rehearsal schedule around the one I had for H&J. Only problem is that H&J never got a full rehearsal schedule to me so I could only send Lucy the tech, dress and a few other rehearsals that had been scheduled. So, Lucy scheduled me for SD/DT around what I had at the time. I sent my rehearsal schedule to the stage manager for H&J, who is supposed to be in charge of figuring out everyone ʼ s schedule. She knew, if she bothered to read the e-mail, what my full rehearsal schedule would be for SD/DT. Well, yesterday, I finally get an e-mail with the schedule for H&J and almost every new rehearsal is schedule back-to-back with my rehearsals for SD/DT. This is a problem because I can ʼ t magically go from point A to point B in a few seconds. I also take the bus, so it takes at the very minimum thirty minutes to get from point A to point B. Now, I ʼ m in the awkward position of telling Lucy that

I ʼ ll have to leave 30 minutes early or be thirty minutes late to about four

rehearsals. Thatʼ s not even the main problem either, because the folks at H&J

don ʼ t even know where all their rehearsals are going to be - so I donʼ t even know how long it ʼ s going to take me to get to a point A or point B that has yet to be determined.

I ʼ m doing everything I can to be accommodating for H&J, but they are so

disorganized, that they are making it quite difficult for me to do so. Of course, I could have always said no to SD/DT, but since I am unemployed and I ʼ m

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supposedly diving into the theatre, I should be able to do both shows. Itʼ s so ridiculous! I have every weekend nearly completely free. It ʼ s almost like they

decided at H&J to purposely schedule rehearsals right after and right before all my rehearsals with SD/DT! They even scheduled one rehearsals right smack at the same time as one I already have. I could probably safely assume that the stage manager never read my e-mail or glossed it over without comprehending anything there.

It ʼs just so confusing to me. Why have a director, a stage manager, a

producer, and all these people to do every little thing, if you can ʼ t even get a rehearsal schedule together or figure out where rehearsals are going to be? It ʼ s amateur and I hate it!

I keep hoping that these free acting gigs will lead to better opportunities,

but at the current stage I ʼ m in, Iʼ m just so frustrated. Itʼ s not like SS/TD is totally professional either. Half of their rehearsals are in one of the director ʼ s homes. Just once, I ʼ d like to get into a play or a musical where all the rehearsals are actually at a theatre. Wouldnʼ t that be something? Iʼ d love to be cast in a show where the rehearsal schedule is made *before* casting! Doesn ʼ t that make sense? And, of course, it would be totally amazing if I could just get into a show that paid their actors something - anything! Then there ʼ s the production companies who hold auditions for shows they don ʼ t even know are happening for sure. Yes, Iʼ m serious. I went on an audition for a musical called Bare that was supposed to benefit some LGBT youth suicide prevention organization. Oh, it sounded so legit - so professional! The auditions were held at a gay bar called Neighbours. I should have known from that point that there was something fishy going on. I auditioned two songs that they had sent sheet music for ahead of time. They played the music on a CD player and asked me to sing the parts three feet in front of them.

I had no problems doing any of that, but after I auditioned, I asked them

when their performance dates were. That ʼ s when one of the guys explained that

they are still looking for funding and sponsorship before they secure a venue. Are you kidding me?

I should have stopped them right there and said, “How dare you waste

people ʼ s time having them audition for a show that may or may not even happen!” But, of course, I didn ʼ t. About a month later, I got an e-mail saying that they didn ʼ t want me for any roles. That pissed me off too, but I was mostly relieved. I mean - how could I say I would agree to perform in their show when they don ʼ t even know when and where the show will happen? What would I be expected to do? Keep my calendar open indefinitely? Ridiculous. Amateurs. I hate them!

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You know, the more I think about it and the more I bitch about it, I begin to wonder how much of an amateur I must be. I mean, after all, most of my experiences with theatre over the last few years have had some type of

amateurish thing going on. If, after two years, I can ʼ t seem to get myself into a more professional group, perhaps that says more about who I am than the groups I keep getting involved with.

I think the key is to just keep my attitude positive. I have to remember that I

am the one who auditioned for two shows back to back. In some respects, I ʼ ve asked for this headache and perhaps, Iʼ m bringing that headache to others. Itʼ s

easy to blame everyone and be super critical, but itʼ s less easy to blame yourself and see how you can find solutions, rather than focus on what ʼ s not working.

I ʼ ll just keep doing these shows and perhaps keep going to W.A.R.P. on

Tuesday nights when I ʼ m free. I ʼ ve also been invited to check out my friend Tom ʼ s Seattle Theatre Readers on the third Monday of every month. That sounds like a great time, especially because there are no rehearsals! The performance dates are set every month and there ʼ s no need for any kind of scheduling. You just show up, read through a script and then perform it in front of an audience! Sounds like my kind of acting!

I also want to write another musical for 2012, but Iʼ m just not sure how

that ʼ s going to pan out. A young guy named Bryan has approached me to collaborate with him and his friend to write one, but from the sounds of it, his idea is in such an early stage, I ʼ m not sure if it will happen or not. I ʼ m getting pretty close to just doing it all myself like I did the first time when I wrote My Big Phat Gay Musical. Hell, I could always just do that show again, too. The only problem is coming up with the money, time and energy needed to secure a venue, get a cast and a rehearsal schedule and space. I do know all of that is akin to hell on earth and so after all this bitching, perhaps I should remind myself how difficult it was to produce a musical and be a little more tolerant of the

crews I ʼ m working with now. We ʼ ll see. I mean, after all, I have done it myself, so I do know what ʼ s involved. In some ways, that gives me a right to be a critical bitch, right? Right??

I ʼ ll just figure out how to get through these two shows, go on some more

auditions and then once Christmas hits, I think Iʼ m going to put on the breaks a bit and really figure out what the hell I ʼ m going to do with my life in 2012. I keep playing around with this idea of becoming a Drama Therapist and the more I keep doing these shows, the more I feel this urgency to get myself on track for some type of career. No one ʼ s going to pay me much money to act on stage and so while the experiences I ʼ m getting as an actor are probably good, they are not the end-all for where my life should be going -- not unless I want to be homeless someday.

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So, I guess the next logical step is to figure out how to get these one hundred hours of volunteer work in a counseling-related capacity realized. Part of my soul-searching must including finding that demographic of people that I want to help. I think Iʼ ll cover that thought tomorrow or the next day.

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Five: I ʼ m Getting Fat!

John Paul Sharp

I ʼ m starting to get that super-pudgy belly. Well, starting is wrong - Iʼ ve got it

now. I ʼ m not getting fat, like the overly dramatic title states, but if I don ʼ t start exercising more and eating better foods, I probably will get fat!

I ʼ ve always enjoying seeing old boyfriends and classmates I hated from

high school on Facebook. Most folks who stayed in Wichita, Kansas did nothing but have babies and get fat. It ʼ s always been a pleasure for me to see that one pictures that says, “Uh-oh! You got me! I ʼ m fat!” and thinking to myself, Thank God that ʼ ll never happen to me. Well, the older I get, the more I can tell that being obese may not happen for me, but being chunky and holding on to blubber-like skin is definitely in the cards for me. I can tell right now when I look down and see this ugly belly staring back up at me. I want you gone! I yell to myself, but know that the fuckin ʼ thing is gonna ʼ stay there until I proactively do something about it. As I type this, I ʼ m watching that Fork Over Knives movie. You know, I used to like these types of films. I used to think these documentaries were out there to reveal all the truths that the media and other sources try to keep us from knowing about. But really, over time and documentary after documentary, I ʼ ve come to realize that they don ʼ t reveal mysteries we ʼ ve never heard of, they tell us a bunch of stuff we already know but refuse to care enough about to do anything. And, a lot of the time, doing something is easier said. This movie says, “Stay away from animal-based foods! Stay away from processed foods!” I ʼ d like to say to myself that starting tomorrow, I ʼ ll only eat plants and vegetables, but then I realize how expensive vegetables are and how much time it will take to cook and prepare everything and then I just order a pizza from Pizza Hut. (Which, coincidentally, I have actually done this evening!) The last time I ate Pizza Hut, I literally ran to the bathroom and expelled water from my ass. I do that more often than I think is probably a good thing these days. It makes me think I should go see a doctor and get a general physical. After all, I haven ʼ t even had a physical in like ten years. I ʼ m easily due. But then, do I really want to go see a doctor? I know I should, because I finally just got on my boyfriend ʼ s health insurance as his domestic partner. If there was ever a time to see a doctor, now is probably it. But, I worry, if I go see a doctor, I ʼ ll only find out about health problems I probably can ʼ t afford to fix. Even as I write that thought, I call bullshit on it! Those worries are not strong enough to not do get a physical. I suspect what keeps me from doing it right now is how lazy I am to do other things when nearly every evening, I have to be at a rehearsal somewhere.

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Most likely, I ʼll keep drinking coffee laden with half and half and sugar, or even more likely, aspartame. Aspartame is something I definitely want to cut down on, but I have preferred it over much of any other type of sweetener, even more so than regular sugar! In fact, I bought some of that expensive blue-agave syrup with low-fat half and half and my coffee just tasted like watery shit! I hated it!

Then there ʼ s the soda. Soda for me is a real, living addiction. It ʼ s nearly up there with cigarettes. You know you ʼ re addicted when 1) you drink soda straight

out of the 2-Liter, 2) when you see that you ʼ re on your last 2-Liter and itʼ s running low, you get anxious, thinking that you ʼ re not going to feel ʻ right ʼ if thereʼ s no more soda left in the house. Then you make a trip to 7-11 and bring two 2-Liters home and you suddenly feel a hell of a lot better. Sad, I know, but itʼ s the truth and I ʼ m not here to type 50,000 words to feed you a bunch of bullshit and lies. I ʼ m here to type the truth and hopefully learn more about myself in the process.

I ʼ ve tried to buy other things instead of soda. For a good month there, I

was only drinking sparkling water with less-than-natural flavors. Somehow, in my mind, I thought it was probably better than soda, but really itʼ s no better. Less sugar, but still riddled with aspartame. Also, I was watching that other documentary about how bad plastic is to drink out of and that was really making me feel sick about my addiction as well. And please tell me how in the world are we all supposed to stop drinking out of plastic bottles when just about everything is sold in plastic bottles these days? It feels like, in order to do things right, you pretty much have rail against society ʼ s rules and conventions every living, breathing day of our lives. Also, Steve Jobs died of cancer and he was one of those guys who believed in healthy foods and holistic health. Part of why he died was because he refused some kind of surgery in order to seek holistic options. You know why I think he died of cancer? Because of all those electronics. Iʼ m sure these smart phones, laptops and tablets are all exuding cancerous radiation as well. I mean, just about every where you look, thereʼ s some normal, regular, daily practice that is suddenly discovered to be killing us slowly. It ʼ s enough to make your head spin! I wonder if Facebook is cancerous too? Ha! I wouldn ʼ t doubt it has some type of psychological cancer. You know, being pudgy is really not all that big of deal. Not until you start watching shows like The A-List: New York, or even worse, The A-List: Dallas. It ʼ s sickening to see how materialistic and physically-driven all those gay guys are. But, as sickening as it is to watch, I have to admit that simply watching it is nearly contagious in that after 45 minutes, you begin to look at yourself and surrender to the idea that you just simply would not measure up to those guys and would never be considered in a circle like that. Even if you don ʼ t care for the circle,

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you ʼd still like to think you could be accepted into it. Sad, I know, but that ʼ s America, ain ʼ t it? There ʼ s so many things out there that we ʼ re supposed to be worried about, I tend to always come to that idea of, “Well, everyone is going to end up dying of some type of cancer or some damn thing that we have such little control over, so why not just live life how you want to live and not worry about it?” Of course, even that idea is easier said than done. Sure, itʼ s easy to go around and eat everything you want and smoke all day and drink bunches of soda, but at the end of the day, you find yourself looking down and seeing an angry, ugly belly staring back at you. So then, is that really living life how you want?

The more I think about it, the more I wish I hadnʼ t have eaten those three (maybe four?) pieces of pizza. There ʼ s that familiar heavy feeling in my stomach,

as though I just ate a small boulder and itʼ s sitting there. And the best way I know

how to fix that feeling, albeit, temporarily, is

cigarette! And maybe a nice hour or two laying down on the couch, watching television. Oh, you ʼ d think I was just a big hot mess, and maybe I am, but really, I think I ʼ ve got a decent head on my shoulders. Iʼ ve just got some issues like every other American out there. Maybe tomorrow, I ʼ ll stop eating meat and dairy. Maybe Iʼ ll stop drinking aspartame laden drinks. Hell, maybe Iʼ ll even quit smoking! But the truth is, I won ʼ t stop any of those things. I ʼ ll just keep doing what Iʼ ve always done, except maybe, I ʼ ll do a little less every day until I get to a better place health-wise. But I ʼ ll be damned if I eventually become the healthiest person in the world and then find out at age 60 that I get cancer anyway. Isn ʼ t that how the world works? Whatever the most ironic situation is what you get handed to you at the end of the day. Even my grandpa, who ate plenty of meat and even smoked for several decades before quitting as a young senior, didn ʼ t have his first known heart attack until he was in his late nineties. Although, they did say he probably had some minor ones and just never did anything about it. Still, he seemed to live

life how he thought he should live it and he ʼ s still alive at a grand old ninety-eight years of age!

wait for it!

Smoking a nice, long

I ʼ m not sure Iʼ d really want to be that old. Not a whole lot of great things

happen to you at that age, I don ʼ t think. But I also don ʼ t want to die some terrible, slow death at age sixty-something either. Whatever age I am when it ʼ s my time to go, I just want to be able to close my eyes and go to sleep and then make my way to through the solar system peacefully. Or if my death has to be painful, I hope it is so quick, I barely knew what happened. Actually, I want to know what happened, but I hope it ʼ s quick. I hear if you don ʼ t know what happened, you become stuck like a ghost and that seems like a real drag. Iʼ d like to know Iʼ m

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dying so I can make my way to wherever Iʼ m supposed to go, but I don ʼ t want it to be hellishly painful (as if I were creating some choice by typing these wishes!) Well, I ʼ m not getting fat, but Iʼ ve gotten a belly. Maybe by next year, I can say that this belly has gone away. Wish me luck!

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Six: I Owen Pallett

John Paul Sharp

I spent the last two hours attempting to get to Ballard from my home at

18th and Union in Capitol Hill. It is Sunday, so Iʼ m hoping and praying thatʼ s why

it took so ever-loving long to get here. Otherwise, we ʼ ve got a real effing problem over the next few weeks as I attempt to be at two places nearly at the same time, thanks to the H&J show scheduling all their rehearsals right around the SS/TD show. Ahh, I ʼ m trying to keep it positive, god damn it!

I had plenty of time to listen to my tunes on my iPhone as I waited for and

on all the busses to get to Ballard. First, I listened to the new Björk album, Biophilia. Geeze, I just love her work! Itʼ s the kind of music that you can listen to over and over and nearly every time you ʼ ll hear something new. That ʼ s my kind of music.

Owen Pallett is very much similar in the sense that there is always something new to hear when you listen to his music, whether itʼ s on one of his self-named albums or on his former pseudonym, Final Fantasy. All of his music is heavily orchestrated with an emphasis on the violin that he plays. A lot of what you hear in his music is repeated violin lines that he translates to stage performances when he tours, employing a repeat pedal. The first time I ever heard him, I had discovered him by searching out Final Fantasy game soundtracks. I absolutely love all the music thatʼ s created for that video game franchise, especially all the stuff that Nobuo Uematsu composed. If you ʼve never heard any of it, you should definitely look it up. You ʼ ll be happy if you like modern classical music. What Owen Pallett does is he creates these large, original classical works and he sings to them in such a way that it becomes the perfect balance between

singer/songwriter, pop and classical. He ʼ s not afraid to use and play with a large amount of dissonance, which is probably what makes me so happy. I ʼ m just not one of those guys who likes to listen to a song and be able to understand everything from the first listen.

I like a song to be so complex, whether subtly, or outright, that I have to

listen to it at least thirty times before I feel like Iʼ ve heard everything. I mean, don ʼ t get me wrong, I love a simple song too, but the ones I come back for are the recordings and compositions that are intricate and, I guess you could say, high-level. It drives me crazy when I profess my love for artists like Owen Pallett and Björk and if I ʼ m lucky enough to be speaking to someone who has actually heard their work, I usually get responses of disgust or even confusion. In fact, a few weeks ago, I was talking about Björk with a good friend of mine who is what I

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would consider a Top 40 connoisseur, and he said he listened to Björk ʼ s new

album and said it was pretty boring. I was like, “What? Are you kidding me?” But, I guess, different strokes for different folks.

I think her work was painstakingly thru-composed and her efforts have not

gone unnoticed with me. It ʼ s just a shame, I think, that someone with so much musical experience would not recognize the quality that comes from the newness of her music. After all, she ʼ s offering something you havenʼ t heard before - not something that ʼs been rehashed and rehashed by countless artists over the years.

That ʼ s what gets me so much about Lady Gaga. All these people think

she ʼs so innovative and artistic. Iʼ ve heard her stuff and every one of her songs reminds me of something I ʼ ve already heard before. She offers nothing new in terms of musical or lyrical concepts. The first and last time I heard her album, I was on a road trip to San Juan Island and the whole time, I kept thinking, Is this an homage to the 80 ʼ s and 90ʼ s? I was sincerely confused as I could swear she was borrowing hooks from a bunch of songs from the Top 40 of the last few decades. Several months ago, I had mentioned to this same friend that I really loved Owen Pallettʼ s work. He told me he thought he was good and everything, “but can you really remember anything he ʼ s ever done?” He was insinuating that Pallett has no memorable hooks or sense of pop. I, of course, would be to differ. But then, again, different strokes, right?

I can hear the pop hooks in both Owen Pallettʼ s and Björk ʼ s songs. They

are not immediate. You may not pick them up on the first listen. They become obvious after the third, fourth or even fifth time of listening to a song. But when it clicks, you can ʼ t get them out of your head. They are absolutely intoxicating to me.

I love music that demands more out of you than passive interest. I love

music that says, “I don ʼ t care if you don ʼ t get it. Youʼ ll have to try harder.” Any kind

of music that shocks me or confuses me or makes me

kind of music. Listening to Owen Pallett today inspired me. It made me want to go straight back home and work on my own music. Of course, I can ʼ t do that. I ʼ m at Ballard writing this message and waiting for 4:30 to come around so I can start another rehearsal for H&J. Actually, I just got a text saying rehearsal was cancelled because my co-actress may have gotten glass in her ear and might need to go to the hospital. Maybe I ʼm just a stickler for grammar, but if you ask me, if you may have glass in your ear, you should go to the hospital. Otherwise, how does one know you truly have glass in your ear? I guess I should stop being such a bitch, but I ʼ m

think! That ʼ s my

gasp

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John Paul Sharp

a little annoyed that I made a two hour trip up here for no reason. I guess I could go shopping for some clothes - as I do desperately need them - but Iʼ ll probably just finish my thought for the day and head back home. I probably should be worried about my co-actress. I surely hope there is no glass in her ear. As I was saying, Owen Pallett inspires me. Björk does too. Whenever I listen to their music, it makes me want to go home and make amazing music too. My self-confidence says, “You could never put together anything like they

can!” And reality says, “Technically, thatʼ s true.” And then the optimist in me says, “But, you never know! People have made some amazing music with very little resources or updated equipment.”

I haven ʼ t actually sat down to record a serious album since this past

summer. This may seem like recent times to most of you, but for as prolific as I

used to be, itʼ s like a world away. Iʼ ve got that itch to sing and make new songs.

I ʼ ve spent so much time in what I call straight theatre (theatre without music), I ʼ m starting to feel claustrophobic and boxed in!

I do have ideas for some songs and musical concepts. I got one great idea

from playing Myst the other day. Remember that game? Ha! Itʼ s on the iPhone

now. There ʼ s one clue in the game that shows a musical interval pattern starting at low C, then an octave up, then to the Eb, then Low F, then down a fifth to the Bb. My musical memory is so good that once I played the intervals, they were immediately stuck in my mind and I did not need to refer to my notes later when needing to use that clue in the game.

I played the sequence on my keyboard to memorize it and it sounded to

beautiful with harps that I wanted to tuck the idea away in my head so later I

might be able to use it. Since my rehearsal was cancelled, maybe I will just go home and see if I can make any magic happen. My boyfriend is supposed to be home all night tonight, but I won ʼ t let that stop me.

I ʼ ve let it stop me before, as often my dear boyfriend can make a lot of

sound around the house. It ʼ s just part of his own personal music, making sounds, interacting with the world in clunky, resonating way.

I also have my friend Sabrina ʼ s music to work on too, which is what I

probably should focus on instead. She ʼ s sent me 12 songs of hers that she ʼ s been working on for the last year or so. Before I moved to Seattle, I told her I ʼ d produce some of her tracks and she finally took me up on it. I ʼ ve already worked on one and it was truly a fun experience. It ʼ s too bad I haven ʼ t heard back from her on it, but I ʼm also not surprised. She participates in NaNoWriMo every year and she ʼ s probably on 70,000 words by now. Ha! At any rate, there ʼ s no hurry, but I suppose if I were to have priorities with making music, her tracks should come first. I don ʼ t want it to be 2013 by the time I get them back to her.

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Well, I guess Iʼ d better get the hell out of this stupid Starbucks and see how long it ʼ s going to take me to get back home. Then I can worry about what I ʼ ll actually do with my time when I get there. Until tomorrow

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Seven: Car-less is not Clueless

John Paul Sharp

It was around the year 2004 that I decided to sell my car and stop driving for good. What sparked my final decision was a mixture of things, but I always think of these articles I kept reading in the New York Times about global oil peak. Something inside me said I might as well stop driving now before it really got crazy.

Also, I was experiencing problems with flat tires and getting to work anyway, and I just thought it was high time I figured out how to get around without depending on a car. My good friend John Maxwell, who helped me buy the same car, and spent a few thousand to fix it up and get it roadworthy from Wichita, Kansas to Denver, Colorado, ended up buying the car back from me. I should have just given it to him, but he was always wanting to help me and at the time, I was always wanting help, so it worked out for me. It all seems a bit

ridiculous now, when I look back on it, but oh well. What can I say? Such is life.

I ended up learning how to ride a bike to three miles to work and back

about five days a week for a good six or seven months. I remember realizing that

if there was a bit of mist outside, it probably meant that I ʼ d be soaking wet by the time I got to work. I ended up losing a good amount of weight and having my legs get super strong. Most of the time, I felt really good about having sold my car. Then I got into an accident. It was not my first tumble, but it was my most devastating one. I was only a few minutes from my home too, flying a good twenty miles an hour through a curving road in Cheesman Park. The bus in front of me was heading right into my part of the lane, which forced me to head over closer to the curb. I had my iPod and earbuds in, listening to Eric Carmen ʼ s Make Me Lose Control. (How fitting, right?) Well, when I edged closer to the curb going downhill as fast as I was, the tire on my bike ended up hitting a deep groove in the curb and my front tire immediately turn and I flew several feet.

I had no helmet on and I ʼ m lucky that I didn ʼ t die or end up with severe

brain damage. What saved me? A six-pack of 20 oz. Diet Pepsi in my backpack. Somehow, due to some type of physics I still can ʼ t understand, my backpack ended up swinging me around and it took the majority of the impact.

I remember being completely shocked. Luckily, it was a Saturday afternoon

and there were lots of people at the park. One guy saw me and asked if I was okay. He had that sound in his voice like he knew I probably wasn ʼ t okay, but I, being so proud, said I was fine. Then I felt my shoulder and knew, by the unnatural indentation, that I was not okay. I said back to the man, “I think I need an ambulance.” And boy, did I ever. I had severely dislocated my arm right out of it socket. Within six minutes, I was in an ambulance and on my way to the hospital.

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There were lots of doctors. They ended up giving me morphine, which totally freaked me out. As long as someone was talking to me, I was fine, but as soon as people left my field of vision, my heart would start racing out of control. Eventually, they gave me some drug that didn ʼ t put me completely out of consciousness, but it did something so that I would not remember what was going on. I remember waking up and seeing several doctors above me. I asked them if they put my arm back in and they all chuckled and doctor said, “Well, we tried, but you put up a pretty nasty fight. We ʼ re going to try it again.” Apparently, I was not having it. I blacked out again and then came to later. My friend Elizabeth came and helped to take me home from the hospital. I was extremely emotional and weepy and nauseous. When I wasn ʼ t puking, I was crying. I think it was the morphine. It was a crazy time for me and I never rode a bike again. If I ever do ride a bike again, which I may, I will always have a helmet on. I know for sure that a bunch of soda saved me from dying most likely. But I digress. My thought today is about being car-less. For the most part, I prefer this lifestyle. I don ʼ t have to pay insurance or a monthly parking space. I have no maintenance to pay for, no oil changes and no accidents. And perhaps,

the biggest thing is that I don ʼ t have to pay for $4.00 per gallon gas. I can ʼ t even imagine how people can afford to do that. It totally blows my mind and from what

I can tell, it will only get more expensive with every new year. I ʼ m thrilled that I don ʼ t have to be a part of all of that. However, on nights like tonight, I just wish I had a car. Iʼ m currently sitting in this Decent community center waiting to perform at an audition for A Chorus Line with the Seattle Musical Theatre group. This community center building is smack-dab in a large place called Magnussen Park, which is located in the deep

northeast section of Seattle. I left way too early to get here because I had no idea how long it would truly take me to arrive. I had to take two busses to get here and

I was leaving during rush hour, and being very early is much better than being a

little late. Well, I ended up being a whopping hour and fifteen minutes early. I arrived to the park area in the dark and it took me awhile to find where I was supposed to be. Because I was so early, I decided to take a walk around the soccer fields and watch these young kids practice. As I continued to walk past them (there were no seats, so I thought it was weird for me to stand there, some Decentr dressed in black, watching kids at night!), I ended up getting lost in some Decent field area. I kept walking, thinking I ʼ d eventually find a cut-away road to get me back into the direction of the community center, but no. I ended up turning around and finally came back to the community center about forty minutes early.

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I still wasn ʼt even sure I was in the right place. Thereʼ s nothing here that

says, “Theatre this way.” But then, I realized, “Of course not. I ʼ m so early that the theatre people aren ʼt even here yet.” And I was right. They finally just showed up a few minutes ago and I ʼve got about fifteen minutes until I have to go up there and sing a few 32-bar songs and perform a one-minute monologue.

I just have nights like tonight where I kind of wish I had a car so then I

could have just driven up here on my own and instead of leaving my house at 4:30 so I could get here by 5:45 - waaaay too early for a 7:05 audition that will literally last about five minutes long. But then, in reality, I am really glad I don ʼ t drive. And at this point, I ʼ ve whittled down my lifestyle to the point that I could not even afford to get a car, let alone keep it for very long. Of course, it would definitely help my acting career if I had a car. If I had a car, I could do mystery dinner theatres for private parties. Or, I could go around and teach kids stuff and entertain them at schools across the city. Or, I could promote products for different businesses in the region. Those are all paid acting gigs - all of which require that you have a car to get around as every gig is in a different part of the metro area. But, I still believe that global oil peak is a reality we will all soon have to deal with. I ʼ m glad to say that I proactively kept myself from contributing to the mess which is America ʼ s oil addiction. Sure, Iʼ m still going to have to pay exorbitant prices for regular food and every other cost which is attached to oil, but at least I won ʼt be paying $10 for a gallon of gas. I ʼ ll just keep paying my $2.50 per trip. UPDATE: Well, itʼ s 8:00 p.m. now and my audition is over with. It went really, really well! The audition was held in a small gymnasium, which made me really happy because you can really hear your voice with the acoustics bouncing all over the place. I sang both of my 32-bar pieces beautifully and my monologue was okay too. The monologue was okay because it was the first thing I did and the director lady who was right in front of me did that thing that makes you so nervous: she sits there with her body perched forward with a big, planted smile on her face with eyes that never moved away from your gaze. Because my monologue is such a conversational piece, there was little room for me to look anywhere else but right in her face. My goodness, it started making me nervous for sure and it ʼ s so hard to stay focused on what you ʼ re doing when the only person you can look at it is not looking away from you for one moment! The first 32-bar piece I sang was from the musical Bare, a song called Best Kept Secret. It ʼ s not my favorite piece and not even that amazing for an audition, but it was something I had just memorized for the other stupid audition I had about a month ago - you know, for the show that still didn ʼ t have dates or a

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venue? Ugh. Well, I figured I might as well sing it because it is much different than my other piece. The second 32-bar piece was something I wrote myself from my first musical, My Big Phat Gay Musical. It ʼ s the song, Gut Feeling and I ʼ ll probably always use it for auditions because it ʼ s full of in-your-face belting and most of the time, I can sing it really well and I definitely did tonight! As soon as I finished, the director said, “Well, there you are!” Ha! It just felt so good to sing again. It ʼ s been way too long since Iʼ ve gotten to sing like that. That is my real passion, singing! I ʼ d be poor for the rest of my life if it meant that I could sing on stage every weekend. Someday. Someday. And I take back wishing I had a car. I figure that I ʼ m just working my way to downtown shows. Eventually, I ʼ ll start getting shows that have paying gigs. I just have to keep at it. Before you know it, Iʼ ll be singing on 5th Ave. Just wait and see!

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Eight: #occupypolitics

John Paul Sharp

You knew it was coming. Eventually, Iʼ d have to plumb the depths, or more accurately the lack thereof, of the ridiculous circus which is known as American Politics. Lately, I can ʼt help but make correlations in my mind about the way supposedly less sophisticated countries behave and how our country is starting to behave. As far as I can tell, we have no viable candidates on the Republican front.

Herman Cain does not exude intelligence or meaning-making in any of his conduct with news media. All I get is one sensational byte after another, but I ʼ m not hearing anything from him about how we ʼ re going to create jobs or fix the economy. While most of what comes out of his mouth is at first thought funny, really it ʼ s all oversimplified and terrifying. He doesn ʼ t know much about how the constitution works, nor does he know a lot about foreign policy or modern world history. It seems like he ʼ s most concerned with protecting human fetuses ʼ rights to be born, but he doesn ʼ t seem as interested in making sure that the quality of

life for future generations will be much worth living. After all, once you ʼ re born and in this world, his motto seems to be: “If you ʼ re not rich, blame yourself!”

I don ʼ t even really know much about the other candidates. What I know

about Rick Perry is that he seems to be cracking under pressure. Rick Santorum completely went off the media map. Michelle Bachman is supposedly a crazy bitch with an in-the-closet husband who, together, attempt to harm children by

ʻ making them straight.ʼ Then there ʼ s Ron Paul, who, frankly, is far too old to be

running my country. Sorry. By the way, I ʼ m also totally pissed at the idea that Obama is our only choice on the Democratic side. I really feel our country could use a lot of options

right now and while Obama isn ʼ t a terrible option for president, I don ʼ t feel like he ʼs the ultimate candidate either. Donʼ t get me wrong, he ʼ s done plenty for the country, but I also feel our country is in a place where we need more than plenty. We need a hero!

I wish we had someone vying for the presidency who is a real balls-to-the- wall person ready to shake up the system and fix the broken parts of our

government. Perhaps someone with a little Shirley Chisolm energy, mixed with some Steve Jobs ingenuity, but someone who cares about our country and not just making personal profit.

I wish our country would view the idea of finding alternative energy sources

with the same type of energy that we used to put a man on the moon. America could be on the forefront again if we were able to find a way to produce sustainable energy. Why couldn ʼ t it be a race to never need oil again?

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Also, it ʼd be real nice if we were to put more resources on creating better

transportation systems for our larger cities and creating systems that don ʼ t depend on or cater to drivers. Our neighborhood need to be self-sustainable, meaning that no matter where you live, you can walk to get your food and you can take a bus to get to work.

I want a president who demands that corporations put limits on how much

influence they can have on government. I want a president who is ready to change how senators and legislatures are brought into office. I really do like

Warren Buffettʼ s idea that if our countryʼ s budget is in a deficit, any current senators must step down if they cannot find a way to get us back on track.

I suppose we mostly have ourselves to blame for getting into the mess that

we ʼ re in. After all, it ʼ s us, the American people, who vote these idiots into office. It ʼ s us who keep them there. It ʼ s us who would prefer to stick our heads in the sand and not pay attention to the fact that people are getting arrested all over the country for protesting on behalf of us.

I don ʼ t watch much television news. I only watch three programs for the

most part: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Countdown. It seems to me that the one news program that really follows the occupy protests is Countdown

with Keith Olberman. Otherwise, I don ʼ t think I ʼ d know half of what was going on with that movement.

I am excited for the protestors. There have been many moments over the

last month or so that I wished I had the balls to get out there on the streets and join them. I mean, it ʼ s not like I have a job. Iʼ ve been unemployed and living off of unemployment and school loans for the last year and a half. If anyone should be out there protesting, it ʼ s me - but Iʼ m afraid to join them. Why? ʻ Cause Iʼ m afraid I ʼ d go off the deep end if I did. And knowing my luck, the one day I got out there with a protest sign, I ʼ d end up getting interviewed or plastered on some local news station or something. Iʼ m afraid of the repercussions involved with being labelled as a protestor. I do want to work someday and I have been trying to get a job here and there. The only problem is that no one seems to want to hire me. Either I have too much education to be a barista or retail sales person, or I don ʼ t have enough experience and the right education to be a project manager or other higher level jobs. And I ʼ m 32. I really don ʼ t know what Iʼ m going to do career wise.

I ʼ ve spent so much time in the last ten years being the best artist that I can

be that I didn ʼ t stop and think about how the hell I could fit myself into this deteriorating economy. While I ʼ m very grateful for all the experiences I ʼ ve created for myself, unfortunately, none of them ever panned out to create any type of sustainable income. Iʼ m your regular, average, unemployed artist. The only thing

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that ʼ s kept me afloat is unemployment and school loans. Iʼ m a slave to government money. Sooner than later, my unemployment will run out and then Iʼ ll be left with

just school money. I absolutely am going to have to get some type of job by next summer or we ʼ re gonna ʼ be in real trouble. I have no idea what to do either.

I ʼ m currently finishing an M.A. in eLearning Implementation and Design. I

have no idea how this will get me a job. I ʼ m creating this portfolio that will basically consist of a small educational website as well as some other educational and technological projects. Most of the jobs I ʼ ve seen related to eLearning are positions like, “LMS Manager” or “Instructional Designer.” LMS management usually wants a few years of experience managing learning systems that I ʼ ve never managed before. Most instructional designer jobs want me to have a bachelor degree in science or math or english. My B.S. is in Vocal Performance. (Wah, wah, wah, waaaaaah) In this economy, it ʼs totally an employer ʼ s market and if you donʼ t fit these higher level job descriptions to a tee, you ʼ re probably going to get shuffled down to the bottom, where no one cares and no one offers jobs. I feel like I have extremely good technical skills. I can usually manage my way through any type of computer program rather quickly. I can type 90 words per minute on my best day. I ʼ m personable, for christʼ s sake! I am an actor, yaʼ know! But no matter what job I apply for, I end up getting rejected. My friend Tiffani showed me some positions at her job that I was interested in, but most of the qualifications on the jobs I don ʼ t exactly meet. Like, for example, one wants me to be proficient with Microsoft Sharepoint. While I ʼ ve never used the program, I feel pretty confident that I could figure it out - but is that really the kind of thing you ʼ d want to say on a job interview? No. Also, the jobs are in Bothel, WA and while I don ʼ t exactly mind commuting that far, I ʼ d pretty much have to give up all the acting Iʼ m doing and Iʼ m not sure Iʼ m really ready to do that just yet. Sorry to say, I want it all. I want to continue to work on my craft as a performance artist and I want to work in the Seattle metro area. I don ʼ t even care if I have a 20-hour per week job making $10 an hour either. I just want something to sustain my family after my unemployment runs out. It seems to me like in order to get a job today, you have to lie. At least - I do. Like, for the barista job, I should have removed all my education and said that I got a GED or something. Then, I should have said that I could be available to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I think, then, I could have gotten a job there. But instead, I told the truth and showed my level of education and said I couldn ʼ t be available at night because I ʼ m an artist. Sorry. I may be an actor, but Iʼ m not a liar!

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So, the drama continues. Will I ever get a job? Will I ever have some sort of career? I have no idea. I just hope I donʼ t lose my apartment and end up homeless someday. I suppose when that happens, I really will have to join those protestors - but for now, I ʼ ll just focus on school and acting and hope that something good comes out of all of it - and pray that we donʼ t end up with a president who will throw us all into the dark ages. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Day Nine: A Noose or a Gun Gets the Same Job Done.

Well, it ʼ s technically day ten already. It ʼ s 1:11 a.m. and I ʼ m finally just sitting down to start typing. The time I had allotted to do my daily writing was originally reserved for the hour or so that I had before my H&J rehearsal tonight. Just as soon as I began typing in Starbucks, my Co-Actor, Ali, showed up and saw me.

I thought it was Decent that she happened to come to Starbucks so early,

since she does have a car. For whatever reason she came early, we ended up chatting. She apologized for the fact that we did not have a rehearsal last Sunday because she thought she might have glass in her ear. She ʼ s a waitress at a breakfast/lunch joint and I guess one of the bussers there stacked hot glasses and one of them exploded right next to her face. Yikes! She told me she went to the ER and had her ear checked and flushed and luckily, there was no glass in her ear. But that was not the only news she had. Unfortunately one of her close friends from San Francisco lost a younger sister to suicide. Because this friend is like a second family to Ali, it was clear that she needed to leave town for the funeral and be there for her friend. While itʼ s completely tragic that this fifteen year old girl hung herself (for reasons I was not told and did not ask about), I was actually relieved that our rehearsals would be cancelled for the next week. I was scheduled in back-to-

back rehearsals and now I won ʼ t have to be late or leave early and can just go to one rehearsal at a time. It saves me stress, but I am deeply sorry to hear about the news of this tragic suicide. There ʼ s really nothing good about that at all.

I myself have had experience with suicide. My only sister shot herself in

the head when she was thirty years old - on the day before my 28th birthday. I clearly remember being at work and seeing my father call me. I rarely ever pick up my phone when my dad calls, let alone when I ʼ m working. He left a message,

I checked it and I heard something Decent, but I didnʼ t understand what it was that I had heard.

I called him and we spoke for a few minutes. It was all very confusing to

me. I had never experienced it before - when someone tells you something and it

just doesn ʼ t register in your mind. I got off the phone with my dad and continued to wait tables for another thirty minutes.

I was completely distracted. I remember customers getting snotty and

impatient with me because it was like I was walking around in some type of dream, like I wasn ʼ t even really there. I don ʼ t know what it was that triggered me to finally let the fact sink in, but I finally went to my coworker and told her that I thought I needed to go because I thought my sister was dead. As soon as I let the words escape my own mouth, I completely broke down. I sat down outside in the alley behind the restaurant and just cried for a

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good half hour. I remember how the bread vendor tried to console me and how my coworker, who I happened to hate and despise, attempted to console me.

I hadn ʼ t seen my sister in years and we talked on the phone under the

most random moments - probably three or four times a year. She used to always call me at the bar because she ʼ d want me to talk to one of her friends so they could hear how gay I was. My sister came out as a lesbian when she turned twenty-five years old and because my dad is also gay, I have a feeling that this was probably a common topic, how gay her family was, so when she called me at the bar to talk to one of her friends, I acted as a validator for all of that. Other times she would call me was on Motherʼ s Day. Those were the worst conversations and they never lasted very long. You see, my sister had a baby in

her late teens and gave it up for adoption to the baby ʼ s father ʼ s parents. My sister would be raging drunk on this holiday and when she called me, I had a hard time understanding the words she was saying. All I could really hear from her voice was confusion and pain. She was trying to reach out incoherently. Because I was younger and always consumed with my own life and my own bubble, I always felt at a loss as to how to help her. I don ʼ t think I ever made her feel better after those Mother ʼ s Day calls.

I spent my 28th birthday making lots of phone calls. I spoke to my mother,

my friends and some family members. I was trying to figure out what I should do. I had no idea how I could afford it, but I eventually decided I had to go to Reno, Nevada to figure out what happened to my sister. At that time, we didn ʼ t really know that she committed suicide. In fact, we still don ʼ t totally know if that ʼ s what really happened. Her current girlfriend at the time was with her when it happened. There was a fight and a scuffle. I actually spoke to this woman, Kathy, and she told me exactly what happened, less than 24 hours afterward. She sounded so emotionless through the whole recount of the event. The only time she started getting emotional was when she started talking about how she wanted to keep my sisterʼ s stuff - because that ʼ s all she had left to remind her of my sister. She said that my sister and her came home from the bar and as they were heading to bed, my sister grabbed her gun and calmly told Kathy that she would be taking her own life and she ʼ d be taking Kathy with her as well. Apparently, Kathy tried to get the gun out of her hand and they scuffled and then I guess my sister shot herself in the head. I ʼ m still not really sure and I really wished I had recorded that phone call. Apparently the story was good enough for the police because Kathy was never viewed as a suspect at any point. Of course, the cops did not treat this event like you would see in CSI. There were no photographs for us to see and the police did not give us a lot of information.

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When I arrived in Reno, I interviewed several of my sisterʼ s friends, in the tens of them, really. Many people suspected Kathy killed her because this woman had been convicted of nearly beating a girl to death several years previous. I know I sure thought she did it because she came to one of the memorials riding my sister ʼ s motorcycle with some girl on the back. I thought it was rather quick for this Kathy woman to have a new woman consoling her less than a week after it happened. I even had a few female police officers who were friends with my sister who told me they would do whatever they could to investigate the situation, but nothing ever came of it. I honestly believe everyone just moved on a few weeks after she died. After all, that ʼ s what we do. It ʼ s what life does. We all just move on.

Most of her close friend said that when my sister started a relationship with Kathy, she stopped communicating with a lot of people and started drinking more heavily than ever. Whatever relationship they had was extremely unhealthy and whether or not my sister did indeed commit suicide, I ʼ m pretty sure that Kathy was so emotionally abusive that she helped bring my sister to that dark place. In the end, if my sister is the one who pulled the trigger, she only had herself to blame. We suspect my sister was bipolar and had been suffering from some type of mental anguish most of her life. She was always very private and internalized her emotions. If anyone could have ever helped her, she rarely reached out and asked for anyone ʼs help. She would be too proud and frankly, too distrusting of most folks to ask. She ʼ d had her run-ins with abusive men for much of her younger life and that may or may not have had any influence on her coming out as a lesbian. I ʼ m still not sure to this day. It does explain to me why she may have spiraled as when she turned to women to have relationships, not much changed in regard to how she was treated - I suspect because she was never in a good position to have a healthy relationship. Whether she killed herself or Kathy did it matters not much anymore. Either way, she ʼ s dead and there ʼ s nothing to be done about it. I have a feeling that no matter what, Kathy will be haunted by this event for the rest of her life, no matter how much she may try to justify or rationalize the experience. If she was guilty in some way, it will eat her alive and that ʼ s enough justice for me. Losing my only sibling was hard. It doesn ʼ t quite get easier, but I find myself becoming less affected by her death as I reach my birthday every year. The first three years were pretty difficult because as summer came along, I would become quite infatuated with the idea of her death and the reminder of my own birth. In some ways, her death was a gift to me from God because as I get older

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each year, I now have a reminder of how precious life is and how easily we can all just disappear - and how easily people can move on after you ʼ ve died. It reminds me of the urgency of now and how I should try to do whatever I can to make the most out of every day. Her death really inspired me to take my performance art to the next level by writing and producing three musicals and acting and performing in countless theatre shows and composing for film projects. I was so hardcore about trying to make an impact on this world that I nearly burned myself out as an artist. As more time passes, I think Iʼ ve learned to take a little more time with everything and not press my own sense of urgency on others around me. I really became intolerant of people who complained about little things or people who say they want to do something and never actually try and see if they can. I still have to work on being patient with those kinds of people, but it ʼ s not quite as bad as it was when my sister first died. No, life is a little easier, but the hole my sisterʼ s death put on my heart will never go away. I find myself really feeling the pain of this loss unexpectedly in moments where Iʼ m either really happy or really lonely. It ʼ s those moments when I think and say, I wish she could be here with me now. Itʼ s those moments when I think I almost hear her voice or I wake up from a dream in which we were hanging out together and I temporarily forgot that she died. The fact that she probably shot herself in the head doesnʼ t help me sometimes either, especially if you believe in souls. You can take it two ways:

either her soul is watching over me and helping me in my life or her soul is stuck in some type of purgatory as she haunts the house she shot herself in. I prefer to think that she watches over me, but I still canʼ t help but question it from time to time. Someday, I ʼd very much like to visit the house she died in to see if I can feel her presence or meet with a medium to see if I can get messages from her. I still have a tough time watching those types of shows on television because it makes me crave communication with her. Until then, I ʼ ll have to come up with my own messages.

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Ten: I Hope I Get It!

John Paul Sharp

I got a call from the folks at Seattle Musical Theatre today. When I picked

up the phone, I got silence but then I had a voice mail. Thanks, AT&T! I found out that I made callbacks for A Chorus Line and that I should be expecting an e-mail today with more instructions.

I ʼ ve been watching the Opening of the musical on YouTube because I

knew if I were to make callbacks, Iʼ d want to have an idea of what we might be

doing - which is a lot of dancing! I ʼ m the first to admit that I am not the best dancer, but I would never let that stop me!

A few years ago, I was in the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It

had a lot of dancing and singing and I must admit that I ʼ m not sure I ever got

those dance steps right. Of course, we were dancing in a very small space with a lot of chaos around us and I think that might be why - other than the fact that musical theatre dancing is not something Iʼ m accustomed to.

If I ʼ m going to get cast for this show, I had better get these steps at least

rudimentarily for the callbacks. I ʼ m not going to lie. Iʼ m a little terrified. Iʼ ve been working on doing the steps for the opening number and while I think I ʼ m getting it down, I ʼ m not sure Iʼ ll have it down enough by Saturday, which is about 24 hours from now. Also, I ʼ m super clunky and not that graceful. It ʼ s a little difficult to see exactly what these dancers are doing from YouTube videos, but I figure if I keep working on it, I might be farther ahead than some others who show up. Perhaps if the director sees that I ʼ ve already taken efforts to figure this opening number out, she might have the confidence that I can get it together by opening night in February. This is all assuming we ʼ ll be working on the opener for callback (though, I have a feeling we will be.) Because dancing is so difficult for me and because it is such a challenge, I now want to be in this musical more than ever. I tend to get bored very easily and quickly. If I ʼ m not being challenged, I ʼ m not growing and when Iʼ m not growing, I feel like I ʼ m wasting time. I know this is the right show for me. Also, if I were to do well with A Chorus Line, that would increase the chances of getting cast into further musicals with Seattle Musical Theatre. I believe there is a chance that the actors will receive a stipend for this show and that ʼ s all the more reason why I should try to work with this production company. Paid shows (however small the pay might be) should lead to more paid shows. If

I ʼ m going to dive into theatre like Iʼ ve been doing, I need to be focused with my goals and make sure I continue to move towards shows that pay something - anything! When pay comes so rarely to actors, our time truly becomes our most valuable asset. Thatʼ s why it ʼs so important to choose which productions you

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involve yourself in. If you ʼ re not getting paid, you ʼ d better be learning new things and continuing to hone your craft. Otherwise, you truly are wasting your time. So what I ʼ m going to do is go over this opening number over and over again until Saturday morning and just hope for the best. A lot of my friends in Denver just finished with a production of A Chorus Line and from what I can tell, they weren ʼ t the best dancers! Ha! Perhaps I do have a chance with this. I have a feeling if I put in enough work now, it will pay off. The director told me at the original audition that she saw me for the roles of either Bobby or Greg. Bobby ʼ s character uses jokes to disguise the pain behind his conservative, slightly wealthy upbringing in Buffalo, New York. I actually saw his monologue on YouTube and I thought it was really quite hilarious. I found the script for the show and have printed out his bit so I could rehearse it before callbacks, yeah, ʻ cause I ʼ m crazy like that! Greg ʼ s character is a sassy jewish gay man who talks about the first time he made out with a woman. It ʼ s pretty funny, but not as funny as Greg ʼ s piece. For someone reason I could not find Greg ʼ s part in the script I found online, so Iʼ ll have to look harder and see if I can find it somewhere. Somehow, though, Iʼ m probably going to end up working on Bobby ʼ s part a lot more anyway. This could work out for me if there was no one else at auditions that she saw for Bobby, but if there ʼ s anyone else there that does his character better than me, I ʼ ll probably have wished I spent more time on Greg ʼ s part! By the way, if you ʼ re practicing dance steps at home without any shoes or socks on, make sure your toenails are well-clipped. Ha! I ʼ m so clumsy that I accidentally sliced skin off of one my little toes cause one of my snarky toenails ran into my other foot. Ugh, silly me. I now have toilet paper sticking out between my pinky toe and itʼ s newly defaced neighbor. Sigh. Either way, if I go to this callback and end up failing miserably, I still have another audition this Tuesday for the production company Quiet ʼ s entire 2012 season. I know they are doing some musicals as well, so if I don ʼ t get into A Chorus Line, I still have some options to get into another musical in 2012. I ʼ m just more interested in A Chorus Line because it seems so much more challenging. I really like how the show truly is an ensemble show. There ʼ s rarely any parts that I ʼ ve seen which are more or less than others. Thatʼ s a good thing sometimes because it forces you to try and be cohesive as a group, rather than trying to shine when it ʼs your turn. I have actually never been part of a chorus or ensemble in a musical as I ʼ ve always been cast in principal or particular character roles. This would be a good thing, for sure! The only disappointing thing about this show is that there really aren ʼ t any amazing singing roles for men. One of the reasons why I am hoping to get into more musicals is to sing, but the challenge of the dance is what intrigues me

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most. I ʼ m sure I ʼ ll find other musicals in the future that will give me great singing parts.

For my other audition, I have to prepare a 32-bar song and two monologues, one contemporary and one classical, both only 90 seconds long each.

For my classical monologue, Iʼ m doing a condensed version of Luciferʼ s monologue in Lord Byron ʼ s Cain. I really love these old pieces because the words are so articulate that it feels like you are painting as you speak. Each word comes out so deliciously! I only hope I can do the monologue justice in 90 seconds. Somehow, Iʼ ve got to channel Satan at the flip of a switch, basically! Ha!

For my contemporary monologue, I ʼ m just going to keep doing the Group Therapy and the Undead monologue for the gay vampire James. It seems to do well for me, so why fix something that isn ʼ t broken? And on the same note, Iʼ ll be singing my original musical song, Gut Feeling, as it seems to be a real hit with my auditions. I figure I can sing my own music better than someone else ʼ s, right? So I just finally got my callbacks e-mail and they have all the sides and the music in PDF form for me to print out. At first, I only printed out what was pertinent to Bobby, Greg monologues and music and the ʻ All Chorus ʼ stuff - but then, I realized that there might be some chance that they ask me to sing or speak for other characters, so I went ahead and printed out all the other male roles as well. The last thing I want to happen is for me to get called to perform something and completely fall apart due to being unprepared. They have a warmup at 9:30 a.m. and then dancing from 10 - 12. Iʼ m glad we get the dancing out of the way, right off the bat! I just hope I don ʼ t fail so miserably at the dancing that it completely destroys my ego for the rest of the day. God, the more I think about it, the more I want to just keep running that opening instead of sitting here typing away! I guess Iʼ d better get to it. Until tomorrow!

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Eleven

Twelve

John Paul Sharp

AND THIRTEEN!!: I Blame Skyrim.

Well, lordy, lordy, look who left nanowrimo behind and stopped writing for

the last few days. That ʼ s right - me! I blame Skyrim, the new Elder Scrolls video game. It sucked me away for a few days.

I wasn ʼ t even going to buy the thing. I was going to be sensible and wait

until sometime next year when everyone else had forgotten about it and the price dropped down to something more reasonable than sixty some dang dollars. Iʼ m also so busy with writing, rehearsing, auditioning and performing that I really don ʼ t have a reasonable amount of time that I know playing that type of video game would demand of me. But then everyone on effing Facebook was chitty-chatting about how fun it is to play and how they are so glad they are playing it and by 2pm the day it came out, I found myself walking to the nearest GameStop to surrender to the consumer blitz and spend nearly seventy bucks that I don ʼ t really have on a game I don ʼt really need. Ahh, America, God shed her grace on me. The game has been pretty fun so far. It ʼ s just like the last one, except the graphics are cleaner and more updated in terms of design. Itʼ s one of those games that you can play for awhile and then you blink your eyes and you think, what time is it? And you look at the clock and five hours have passed by. And you

think - I should stop playing

blink your eyes and look at the clock again and another three or four hours have wasted away and you think - I should be much farther than I am. Ha! Playing these games are fun, but they probably are a lot like smoking too much weed. You start preferring not to leave the house and you don ʼ t really want to engage in any types of conversations with anyone who isn ʼ t actually a character in the game. In fact, today, I did not want to leave my house to go to

rehearsal at all. I just got really grumpy about the idea. Then I remembered I was so behind on writing these daily journals that it was probably a good idea for me to get out of the house, get into a Starbucks and start typing. So, here I am!

I think what I ʼ ll do for this journal entry is write through three different

thoughts or topics for today ʼ s entry. Iʼ ve got a lot of catching up to do, but thereʼ s no way in heck that I ʼ ll be able to write five thousand words about one single thought. It ʼ s just not gonna ʼ happen. Not with any quality, anyway.

but I don ʼ t want to, so I ʼ ll keep going and then you

Thought #1: Who ʼ s My Demographic?

So, like I ʼ ve said before, I ʼ m seriously considering the idea of applying for Antioch University ʼ s M.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Drama Therapy.

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Why? Because I have no idea what kind of career I can have where Iʼ m 1)

helping people, 2) meet some kind of demand that 3) fits for someone like me.

I ʼ m an artistic person. Sorry. I just am. I have lots of education and Iʼ m

really great at school. I graduated with my bachelor ʼ s with highest honors and ranked #4 out of 100 some students. However, when your B.S. degree is in Vocal Performance, it basically makes you unemployable.

I ʼ ve followed many of dreams. One of my dreams was to become a singer.

Before I started my B.S., I could not tell someone I was a singer and feel genuine about it. By the time I graduated, I could definitely do that - heck, I even sang the National Anthem at my own graduation. If thatʼ s not complete validation that I ʼ m a singer, I don ʼ t know what is! And that is totally worth the thirty thousand dollars of school loans I took on to complete the program. I also had a full-ride scholarship my senior year, which wasn ʼ t bad at all! I also fulfilled dreams I didn ʼ t even realize I had - like writing and producing three musicals. However, fulfilling dreams does not always equate to filling up your bank account. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. When I graduated from school, I had zero credit card debt. Two years later, I had over ten thousand dollars in credit card debt. A nightmare, I know, but most of that money went to 1) buying musical equipment, 2) producing musicals for the stage and 3) marijuana. I fully take the blame. Also, several thousand dollars of that credit card debt went into moving expenses in Denver and to Seattle in this year. Iʼ m one of those fools who thinks, don ʼ t worry about all the reasons why you can ʼ t or shouldn ʼ t do something - go ahead and do it anyway. And thatʼ s why Iʼ m broke and up to my neck in school loans and credit cards. In 2010, I decided to start the Educational Psychology program at the University of Colorado Denver. I did this purely out of fear, because I realized if I kept going on my artistic train, I ʼ d be homeless. All the time I spent not being paid to act and sing and dance was really putting a toll on my part-time waitress job and my cash flow in general. Because I am so good and school and my academic background is so stellar, it got me into the program without any trouble at all. The only problem is that the decisions I make are all the more important. It took about six months for me to realize that Educational Psychology was not for me. The main thing that triggered this realization is when I was in a multicultural diversity class and we had to fill out a survey on the first day that asked, “What is your sexual preference?” I was so shocked because I hadn ʼ t heard that term used seriously in at least ten years. I began to see that much of the educational psychology field literally is about ten years behind the societal climate of today. Becoming an educational psychologist is very much like putting

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on a military outfit, grabbing a gun and heading into a war. There ʼ s a huge battle ahead for people who are gay in that world and I wasn ʼ t really ready or willing to be part of that battle. Eventually, a couple friends of mine from school chose me as their subject for their senior music marketing class. I was so surprised and honored that anyone even cared that much about me or my music career. A few months later, they both determined that I ʼ d have more success and opportunity if I moved to a city that had more of an international scene. Hearing them say that was all I needed to know that I wanted to move away from Denver and start over. This is easier said than done. There aren ʼ t a lot of cities I would move to in America. I ʼ ve lived in San Francisco before and I truly loved it there, but I knew how expensive it was and it would have been impossible for me to move there with my boyfriend and our two cats and me with no job. It just wasn ʼ t going to happen. I hate L.A. and New York City is even harder to move to. I had almost considered NYC when I was in the process for applying to the Tisch School of the Arts. After many intense discussions with my boyfriend, I ended up backing out of that whole thing and I have a feeling I may regret that decision every day for the rest of my life. Or not. I mean, I could have left my boyfriend and my cats behind to struggle in NYC and that all could have paid off, but it ʼ s not really what I wanted. I love my boyfriend and my cats and I wanted to be able to do whatever it is that I would do with them, not without them. So, Seattle basically was the only other option I was considering. After realizing that I had a lot of friends there who used to live in San Francisco, I decided that was where I would take my family. And in late March of 2011, that ʼ s exactly what I did. This whole move is what led me to get out of Educational Psychology and start the eLearning Implementation and Design program at the Information and Learning Technologies department of the School of Education and Human Development. It ʼs a mouthful to basically say, “This degree is about as useful as Vocal Performance.” I ʼm not sure what kind of job I can really get with this degree. I ʼ m sure there are jobs out there, but I have no idea if someone with my background can really convince an employer in this economy that I ʼ m absolutely the right choice for their eLearning implementation needs. Most of the jobs I ʼ ve seen out there want you to have a bachelor ʼ s degree in something reasonable, like math or science or marketing or human resources. They want you to have a bachelor degree in whatever classes or materials they want you to implement into a distance learning situation. Unfortunately, there ʼ s just not a lot of companies or schools who are desperately seeking anyone to create eLearning for vocal performance. No, the whole reason someone would

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get training in singing is for the personal, face to face instruction. Sure, there are online classes out there to teach people how to sing, but basically that market has already been tapped and I donʼ t know how or why I would want to try and place myself in that world. But, I ʼ m going to finish this M.A. anyway. I mean, even in my application essay to the school, I basically said I wanted to get into the program because Iʼ d already dumped thirty thousand dollars in the Educational Psychology M.A. and I couldn ʼ t just walk away and not have a degree. So, by the end of Spring or Fall of 2012 (I ʼ m still not sure which yet), I ʼ ll have an M.A. in eLearning. Woo hoo. But no career as of yet. So, now I ʼ m Seattle and I ʼ m still jobless and still following my artistic dreams while I depend on unemployment to keep me afloat. I still need to find some type of career and the only thing I ʼ ve seen that remotely suggests I ʼ d be a good fit is the Drama Therapy program. I mean, Iʼ ve spent so much time in theatre that I might as well find a way to make this work into a career of some kind.

There was something other than fear that attracted me to psychology. I ʼ ve been in therapy before and I do think Iʼ d be a good therapist if I could get the training for it. It seems like I could make it work somehow! When I met with the admissions lady, I asked her about the minimum qualifications to get accepted. They ask for 100 minimum hours of volunteer or

paid work with an organization in a counseling-related capacity. I have zero hours like that. I asked her if I could mention that all my years as a waitress and teaching people how to sing is very personal growth oriented. She said that ʼ s a no-go. No, I have to actually work in a counseling-related capacity that is overseen by someone who helps to train me to help people in crisis situations. In fact, one of my recommendation letters should come from someone who oversees me while fulfilling these one hundred hours. Yikes!

I asked her what type of organizations are out there for me to get these

hours accomplished. After some discussion, I basically learned that she cannot

tell me what organization to check out or try for. I need to pick a demographic to work for. My demographic will tell me what organization to approach.

I made the small mistake of telling her that I didn ʼ t really care who I was

helping - as long as I was helping someone. I guess thatʼ s a no-no. She said if I were to apply to the school and say something like that, I wouldn ʼ t be admitted. As a therapist or someone in the helping industry, I must have a demographic that I specialize in and there should be some type of reason as to why I do this. So what demographic should I latch on to? The first thought that immediately came to my mind was gay youth and teenagers. I could apply to work for the Trevor Project ʼ s helpline. They have an intensive training with

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someone who oversees my work and would definitely be able to give me a letter of recommendation. But - do I really want to help that demographic? After all, I was a gay youth and I know what that whole world is like. How can I help those kids who are suicidal? Do I really want to work with a demographic that is so close to my own identity? I guess to some people that would definitely make sense, but for me, Iʼ m not so sure. It kind of feels like I would feel boxed in or claustrophobic about my work. I also know how convoluted the gay teen world can be and as a gay man, Iʼ m not sure how

quickly I ʼ d want to jump into that whole world. Lots of trouble can come your way by helping that demographic.

I ʼ m actually more interested or curious about working with veterans. I figure

there are so many men and women out there who have fought these senseless wars and they need as much help as they can get. They are leaving Afghanistan and Iraq and coming back to an America with less jobs than when they first left. They have traumatic experiences they now need to process in the safety of their homeland. Iʼ d be working with all types of people who join the armed forces and yes, some of them would be gay, but they would be all different kinds of people with different stories. But what kind of organization is out there to help veterans that could train me to act in a counseling-related capacity? That ʼ s the big question. I also considered taking seniors and/or the terminally ill as my demographic. I think it would be a great thing to help people process their end days. Then I thought about how absolutely draining that might be. I ʼ m just not sure.

One thing I am totally sure about is the amount of thinking I have to do before I ʼ m really able to pick a demographic that I feel comfortable with. I would like to help veterans, but how do I know that I have a background that would work well with that demographic? I suppose the only way to know is to try and give it a go. I guess I ʼ ve got a lot more to think about than I realized. It ʼ s not as easy as just trying to apply for a school. I ʼ ve actually got to try and live a lifestyle before I can say with genuine honesty that I ʼ m ready to get the training needed to become a therapist. Antioch does make me very excited though. The open house I went to made me wish I was student there so badly. For one, you know that the closer you get to graduation, the more you ʼ re actually practicing the work of therapy. You ʼ d basically have to be a complete idiot not to find a job after participating in their one-year minimum internship. The idea that I could go to school and be on my way to having a career sounds so completely amazing to someone like me, where the closer I get to the graduation, the farther I get from actually having a paid job. Ha!

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Thought Two: You Can ʼ t & Shouldn ʼ t Be Amazing at Everything!

Yesterday, I did something I had never done before in my life. I straight up walked out of callbacks for A Chorus Line. I had such high hopes for myself and this show, but those hopes were not grounded in much reality, unfortunately. I felt so bad the entire day - I was a QUITTER! What? Me? The insane over-achiever? How could I ever walk out of anything? Ugh. I just felt so sick about it. But here ʼ s the thing - there were like sixty dancers at these callbacks and at least 95% of them had actual, real dancer shoes and dancer outfits. I was in cheap pleather dress shoes and some sweats. All these other dancers were actual dancers. They were doing the splits and caught onto the dance moves about as soon as the director showed them. About halfway through the initial dance we were learning, I had decided I would leave and it was just a matter of figuring out how the hell I could get out without being noticed by anyone. The director kept saying through the first dance, “Okay, now this one is

easy, so I ʼ m going to want to see a lot of precision!” Precision? I couldn ʼ t even figure out what I was supposed to be doing with my feet for the whole 32 bars, let alone what I was supposed to be doing with my arms and hands. I had no precision to offer whatsoever. So after we practiced the first dance and we were given a few minutes before breaking up into smaller groups to actually audition the dance, I grabbed my bag and my jacket and I headed for the stairs and hoped no one noticed me. Every passing minute as I was leaving, I kept saying to myself, “What are you doing? Are you sure you ʼ re just going to walk out? Aren ʼ t other people like this and not someone like you - someone who follows through and doesn ʼ t quit, even when the going gets tough?”

I found myself calling my boyfriend and then calling my friend Paul

because I needed to be able to talk through the decision I was making of leaving the callbacks. I needed to be able to rationalize and justify my actions. Of course, my boyfriend and Paul could not tell me that what I was doing was right - because they both weren ʼ t there. I could only tell myself that. When I got home, my boyfriend kept wanting to hug me and by that point, I

was like, “Whatever.” Ha! But really, I was feeling super guilty and didn ʼ t want to feel like a loser. And I did feel a little bit like a loser, unfortunately.

I decided to go to Trader Joeʼ s with my boyfriend and stock up on a bunch

of food so I could perhaps eat my pain away. So much for me losing any weight! As soon as I got home from that, I emailed the director and explained to her what had happened:

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John Paul Sharp

Just wanted to say sorry for disappearing today! As I was practicing the beginning dance, it was just painfully obvious to me that I was not at the dance level needed for this particular show and so I thought it was best if I not waste any more time for either of us and took off! I was going to tell someone but there were so many people around that I didn't want to take away someone's attention just to tell them I was leaving. I normally don't do that kind of a thing, but I was having trouble just getting down the footwork, let alone knowing what to do with my arms and hands - so I would have had no precision whatsoever.

That being said, I actually did enjoy the experience and hope I might be considered for future musicals - perhaps some that aren't so dance heavy. I'm also considering taking some dance classes as the movement was enjoyable.

Sorry and thanks again,

JP

I then went back to playing Skyrim and after a few hours, I began to feel very tired. I fell asleep and had dreams about being a disappointment to people. I woke up and checked my e-mail and I had gotten a response back from the director:

Oh, thank GOODNESS!

I thought I was going insane. I knew I had seen you! Well, I am sorry I did

not get to read you for Bobby. I know you would have had fun with the part. Dance is important in this show, but singing is, too. And the show is nothing without real people in it. Courage, my friend!

I really enjoyed meeting you and do hope we get a chance to run into each

other again! I am directing Forever Plaid later this year at Second Story Rep. It's a fun show!

Thank you for the note!

Boy, was I relieved! I was just terrified I would be blacklisted for just walking out. But, it seems to me that she wasn ʼ t upset by it and was actually hinting that I should try out for Forever Plaid. I love the show and I would totally audition for it when it came up, but I did see that the show is east of Seattle, on

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the other side of the water, and I have no idea how I ʼ d get there for rehearsals and performances and also get back to Seattle. Still, I thought the director was a neat, professional and passionate woman, so I might consider it if I can find a reasonable way to make it work. If anything, this whole experience has shown me that yes, it is important to try new things and to push yourself and see how far you can go - but when you see a wall coming, it ʼs not necessary to run right into it, either. We donʼ t have to be amazing at everything we try and it ʼ s okay if Iʼ m not an amazing or even particularly good dancer. I am a great singer and I know I ʼ m a great actor and that can absolutely be good enough for right now. And it ʼ s not like I didnʼ t enjoy the dancing. I think moving around like that is fun, but because I was in an audition rather than a dance class, I felt like it was best if I not follow through the whole way, especially in the company of so many other real dancers with experience and training. But - all is not lost. My boyfriend wants me to check out some dance classes and see if maybe we can do some together. So! My audition actually inspired him and well, thatʼ s totally worth it to me!

Thought Three: I Like to be Disturbed.

Oh yes, I like to be disturbed! But only through film, in the fantasy medium. Because I have access to a large database of movies, over the last year, Iʼ ve made it kind of a habit to find out and research all the most disturbing films ever made. And oh, you ʼd be surprised what ʼ s out there! There are all kinds of disturbing films out there. The most recent one that came out that was really disturbing was A Serbian Film. Itʼ s about an aging porn star who gets reeled into ʻ acting ʼ in one more film so he can get more money for his wife and child. What happens is so beyond anything I myself could ever imagine. But that ʼ s why I watch these things - because I could not imagine them myself and itʼ s just so shocking! There ʼ s an older film from the seventies that is pretty effed up too: Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom. With a title like that, how could you not be disturbed? Well, I had no idea how disturbing it truly was until I watched it with my boyfriend. Every ten minutes, my man would look at me and say, “You really love to watch this kind of stuff, don ʼ t you?” Yes, yes I do! And itʼ s not just limited to crazy sexually disturbing films, but really, any film or television-based program that features real-life horror. I am fascinated by tales of people surviving the most horrific situations, whether itʼ s getting lost in the mountains or stranded in the oceans or whether it ʼ s people getting slashed in the throat by random Decentrs or raped in their own houses.

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I ʼ m really not a sick psycho-path, I promise! I ʼ m just fascinated with this

kind of stuff because 1) I feel like the more I learn about these type of stories, the more I know what ʼ s out there and what to be careful of and 2) perhaps if I am ever stuck in a horrific situation, I might know what to do to survive since Iʼ ve learned how other people have survived before. So, in case you ʼ re like me and you love to be disturbed by films and television, I have some great suggestions for you:

Films:

A Serbian Film - mentioned earlier.

Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom - a bunch of aristocrats, including the president of the nation, gather up a bunch of teenagers and abduct them for a long vacation at a mansion where storytellers initiate insane acts of abuse of different kinds. It doesn ʼ t end well.

Martyrs - a film about revenge, child abuse and torture.

Cannibal Holocaust - one of the first forms of ʻ mock-umentary ʼ set in a jungle. Obviously, it ʼ s about cannibalism, but also, there are other crazy things that happen.

Men Behind the Sun - this is a film about real experiments that were done on people during World War II in Japan. One of the hardest parts of this film is what happened to the poor cat.

Irréversible - a french film about the realities of seemingly senseless violence. And boy, does this film get violent. It ʼ s gripping because of how real it seems.

High Tension - not so much disturbing, but it is such a good scare, I had to mention it. Well, on second thought, itʼ s probably disturbing for some people. It very much follows a Dean Koontz type of psychological horror, but it doesn ʼ t skip out of the gore either.

Megan is Missing - if you find yourself watching this crazy effing movie, you might actually find yourself terribly bored and confused through the first seventy-five percent of it. But let me tell you, the last twenty-five percent nearly made me pass out.

Television:

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John Paul Sharp

I Survived

episodes on Hulu. I can ʼ t wait until it comes to Netflix. These are stories from people who have survived horrific situations. I like to play these as I go to sleep. Okay, maybe I ʼm crazy!

- This series is seriously hard to find, but sometimes they have

Wicked Attraction - I kind of like these stories from Investigation Discovery. It ʼs a lot of stories about couples who go on crazy killing sprees.

I Shouldn ʼ t Be Alive - These are usually stories of people surviving the wilderness under miraculous struggling. It would be better without the dramatic reenactments, but alas, it is made by the Discovery Channel, I believe.

There are way more films that I did not mention and thatʼ s mostly because I can ʼ t remember all the titles. But, I figure I named enough to get anyone started on their journey through some of the most disturbing images and stories ever told. You ʼ re welcome. Don ʼ t judge me. Oh, and if you thought Scream 4 was scary, I ʼ d avoid seeing anything Iʼ ve mentioned above at all costs.

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Day Fourteen: The Desire to Escape.

There are often times that I catch myself wanting to escape. When I was younger, it was much more of a prevalent feeling. Now, it just happens every

once and awhile and especially when I ʼ m listening to music that inspires me.

It ʼs not that kind of wanting to escape where you wish you weren ʼ t in your

life or anything. It ʼs more of this feeling of wanting to be enveloped into a whole other world - one in which physics and the conventions of nature are not part of reality.

It ʼs hard to explain, but I felt it yesterday when I was on the bus. I was

listening to one of my favorite artists, one who Iʼ ve mentioned already in my writings this month: Owen Pallett. When I listen to his strings, I can imagine them being physical forces that have shapes, almost like wings, but perhaps more like broad strokes of a painter. These shapes have color to them, almost metallic or neon gold and I can imagine myself using these shapes to fly across the city skyline. It ʼ s like that type of escape. What I love about great music is that is sparks this feeling within me.

Sometimes, it ʼ s more simple. I ʼ ll be listening to the song Pluto by Björk with my iPhone with my earbuds in and I ʼ ll find myself stomping along the street, as though I ʼ ve become this other, more powerful person that perhaps is a character of a film. I like to escape in my own imagination as I go about my daily business.

I think it ʼ s this escapism part of me that has given me the dream of

someday being a filmmaker. I think I could make some pretty cool films, but I have a feeling they would rarely have dialogue. What really moves and inspires me are images set to music. I think music says more than dialogue could ever say.

One song in particular that always gets my visual imagination going is Radiohead ʼ s The National Anthem. I remember the first time I ever heard it. I was walking around the streets of San Francisco and when it came on my earphones, I became so excited and lost into my own imagination that I found myself running and probably making guttural sounds. Iʼ m sure I looked like a crazy person to everyone around me, but the nice thing about San Francisco is that the Decentr you act, the less likely people are going to pay any attention to you in the first place.

I had a similar experience the first time I heard Björkʼ s Selmasongs: Music

from the Motion Picture Dancer in the Dark. The music for that film is so highly creative and imaginative, it was easy to get completely lost in the experience of listening. Even her new album, Biophilia, is similarly fantastic in the way it can create an atmosphere far removed from the dullness of my daily routines. I could probably spew and profess my love for her work until the cows come home.

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There ʼ s a recent film that just came out that truly stole my heart and I think it speaks to this sort of escapism. It ʼ s called Melancholia and it was written and directed by Lars von Trier and starred Kirsten Dunst and Kiefer Sutherland amongst some other folks. The whole opening lasts several minutes and is accompanied by music from Roger Wagner ʼ s prelude to his opera, Tristan und Isolde. There are a lot of slow motion actions and stills with the most beautiful imagery I ʼ ve seen in a long time. Oh - did I forget to mention that Lars von Trier also directed Dancer in the Dark? There ʼ s a reason why I like this guyʼ s work so much!

The film is science-fiction drama with the premise that a sister planet was discovered to be orbiting the other side of the sun and could possibly be heading straight for Earth. It ʼ s not your conventional sci-fi and it is actually a very touching piece about mental illness and the struggle to cope in our world. The last part of the film is so gripping in an emotional way that I am truly surprised I haven ʼ t seen more people talking about it. But then, that ʼ s America, right? I swear, if a movie doesn ʼ t have formulaic bits and pieces neatly tied up at the end, Americans just don ʼ t care for it. Then again, I am American and I absolutely adored the film. I loved it so much, just talking about it makes me want to watch it again. If I were to be a filmmaker someday, I would probably be a mix between the imaginative and creativeness of Lars von Trier and the darkness and intensity of Darren Aronovsky. Hell, there might even be some Sam Raimi in there for gore ʼ s sake. I do love some shocking gore, after all! Until then, I ʼ ll just keep listening to my songs and escaping in my mind. I keep hoping that the more I work on my own music recordings, I can create imaginative atmospheres like the artist I love to listen to the most. I don ʼ t think I ʼ m quite there yet, but I ʼ m not worlds away either! I know I can do it! So, before I go for the day (I am trying to make todayʼ s thought a littler shorter and sweeter than the thoughts for the last three days or so), I thought I ʼ d post some artists and albums that really get my imagination going and inspire me to create truly fantastical music. And without further ado:

Björk: Vespertine, SelmaSongs, Medulla, Biophilia, Homogenic

Radiohead: OK Computer, Kid A

Kate Bush: Hounds of Love, The Dreaming, Aerial

The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Owen Pallett: A Swedish Love Story, Heartland

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John Paul Sharp

(as Final Fantasy): He Poos Clouds, Plays to Please, Spectrum, 14th Century

Aphex Twin: Drukqs

Dot Allison: Afterglow

Enya: Watermark, Shepherd Moons, The Memory of Trees

Imogen Heap: Ellipse

Ira Stein: Bach Improvisations

William Orbit: Pieces in a Modern Style

And pretty much anything by composers Bach, Elgar, and Satie. Ok! Happy listening!

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Fifteen: Men ʻn Me

John Paul Sharp

I was inspired by a fellow G Plusser who posted a short message about his

experience with feminism. It made me think about my own conceptions as I ʼ ve

grown into the person I now am today. I ʼ m not sure Iʼ ve ever quite identified with feminism, but I have had a pretty severe distrust of men in general, which, of course, is not the same thing.

I grew up without a father. I never developed a relationship with the man

who is my biological father until I was about 22 years old. Ten years later, itʼ s still a struggle to maintain contact and to even understand what type of relationship I have with this man. I don ʼ t really know what it means to have a father and son relationship as the idea seems so foreign to me. By the time I hit puberty and became a teenager, my experience with older men became sexual at best. My first experience with an older man was a guy who lived someone in my neighborhood who I talked to on AOL or eWorld or one of those online services in the mid-90 ʼ s. He came over to my house, we jerked off and then he left and I never saw him again. I ʼ d say this man was in his mid to late 40 ʼs and I was about 14. Today, we ʼ d probably call him a pedophile. I know I sure felt weird about it. My next sexual experience was with a man from the military. He was also in his 40 ʼ s and I was nearing or had become 15. My mother used to go on conventions all the time and would be gone for two or three days. By this time, my sister had left the house for several years and so I was accustomed to doing my own thing since I was about 12 years old.

I used to chat this guy up on AOL and then on the phone, usually later at

night when my mom was asleep. He used to ask me all these questions about my body and I remember being so nervous and wondering why he was so curious about how developed my ʻ pecs ʼ were. I had no idea what those were and I remember struggling to answer most of his questions, but still being intensely curious and wanting to meet him. Sooner than later, I let him know my mom was going out of town for several days and he decided he was going to come to Wichita from Fort Worth to visit me. I remember he kept saying how happy he was that he had several days with me. Oh, was I nervous! That was my first anal sexual experience and it went on for quite awhile. I don ʼ t think I would call it rape because I consented to the whole thing, but I might say that I was heavily manipulated into situation altogether. I remember how painful it was. After he left, I did not want to see him again and I was deathly afraid of my mother finding out. He would call all the time and I wouldn ʼ t pick up the phone. If

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he called when my mother was home, heʼ d just hang up on her. He eventually came to see me at my bussing job and I said hello, terrified, and he tried to ask me why I wouldn ʼt talk to him and I just said that I couldn ʼ t talk to him anymore because my mother found out. That was all he needed to know and I never saw or heard from him again. By the time I was sixteen, I was messing around with all types of guys who were twice my age. I had a fake ID that I had made myself and would go to the gay club, Our Fantasy Complex, quite regularly. Iʼ m pretty sure everyone knew I was underage, but I don ʼ t think most of them cared. On my sixteenth birthday, I brought one of my girlfriends with me to the club and she was in her early 20 ʼ s. She was very aggressive about ʻ finding me a man for me ʼ that night and she did find a guy from Kansas City. He was a horse jockey and was very good looking. I ended up going to his hotel that night on the east side of town. Iʼ d say this was my first experience with rape. It was consenting to the degree that I let him put his thing in me, but because it hurt so bad that I was screaming and he wouldn ʼ t stop until he was done and he was quite rough, Iʼ d say that there were elements of rape there. He was nice enough to take me all the way back to the west side to my girlfriend ʼ s house, but we mostly rode in silence. By the time I ʼ d even had the opportunity to have a ʻ normal ʼ or ʻ healthy ʼ relationship with someone remotely close to my own age, I was pretty screwed up. I was head over heels for this 18 year old kid from El Dorado and we had a few wonderful months together, dating and doing those things that teenagers do when they date. However, it was doomed because I was this guy ʼ s first boyfriend and he had just come out of the closet and by the ripe age of seventeen, I was doing crazy things like cocaine and getting tattoos and stealing gas for my car. This poor kid did not know what he was getting into when he was getting with me and after we started going to the club together, he got the single bug again and cheated on me with some other guys and then dumped me around Christmas time. Needless to say, I didnʼ t handle it well - especially because he ended up moving to Wichita and entered as a senior at my high school. Oh, I did all sorts of mean things to him. I spread rumors that he used to hit me and I told people that he thought about having sex with animals. I did whatever I could to make his life a living hell and in the end, I think I just made myself look like a crazy person. I ʼ m pretty sure he thinks I ʼ m crazy to this day, but hey - I was an at-risk teen with at-risk aspirations. I did apologize to him about a year ago when I found him and added him on Facebook. Most of my truly traumatic experiences with men took place in my early 20 ʼs when I lived in San Francisco. After losing my job with PlanetOut, I developed a seriously intense addiction to smoking methamphetamine for about a year and half. During that time, I had sex with countless men of all different

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ages and backgrounds. Most of the time, I had no idea who they were or what their names were. All I knew is that they had drugs and wanted to have sex and I wanted drugs, so I would have sex with them. My first real experience with insanity was when I hung out with a Philippine man who dealt all kinds of drugs. I stayed at his apartment for over five days and did not sleep the entire time. He fed me all kinds of drugs - meth and crack and other stuff that I didn ʼt even know what it was. He was extremely manipulative in interactions with me and I was in a very vulnerable position in my life. There came a point on the second or third day where I felt scared to leave. Don ʼ t ask me why as the whole experience is pretty blurry to me now, but by the morning of the sixth day, around six o ʼ clock in the morning, he had me smoke some weed out of a homemade aluminum pipe. As soon as I took a few hits, I began to hallucinate. I was hearing several voices in my head and seeing these wild, electric hieroglyphics in my vision. Something triggered inside of me and I bolted out of his apartment, ran down Market street to the BART station, got into a train, hid under the seat, and when I made it to Daly City, I caught a cab up to my apartment and laid on the floor for a few minutes before I grabbed my roommate who was in the shower. I told her I needed to go to the hospital because at that point my heart was thumping so hard and fast that I was scared I might have a heart attack. Oh and did I mention that this entire time I thought the man I ʼ d been staying with could hear my thoughts and see what I saw and was tracking me down to come and kill me? I spent the next 24 hours at the hospital after having a doctor tell me, “If you keep entertaining thoughts like you have, you may lose your mind forever.” And then shooting something in my ass which made me pass out. I woke up the next morning and just left the hospital on my own. I remember my head felt like a ton of bricks and being zombie like for the next week. While many of these encounters were emotionally disturbing to some degree, I would say there were only a few times I was raped. One man that I remember in particular was an intense Vietnamese man who hung out in his apartment all the time. He used to message me on the computer all the time and I finally met up with him. We smoked meth and chilled all day long and when we finally went to have sex, he was extremely rough and hurt the hell out of me. That was an experience I would call rape because I told him to stop and I told him to get off of me and it just made him go harder and faster. I remember him pulling off of me and I just laid there on the floor, my mind had drifted off somewhere, unable to process what had just taken place. These were the worst of my experiences as a young gay man in San Francisco. There were other times when I connected through drugs and sex with all types of men. Some of them were pilots, some were millionaires with multiple

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companies, some of them were fucked up kids like me. In most of these encounters, I often found myself taking on a paternal role. Many times, these men found themselves dumping their emotions on me, crying with their heads on my chest. In some ways, this was part of my addiction. But I rarely maintained contact with any of these individuals, save a few of them that I happened to stumble upon from time to time, even online in my late twenties and early thirties. Eventually, I realized if I didnʼ t leave San Francisco, I was going to die. I came back home to Wichita and underwent intense weekly therapy for nine months thanks to the fact that one of my motherʼ s life-long friends took a sincere interest in me and payed for the therapy out of her own pocket. I would also have lunch with this woman mostly once a week and she would ask me lots of questions about my life and what I wanted. I really owe much of my growth to this woman and I should call her way more often than I do now. I began to see my father more often and our initial gatherings usually involved me going to a bar with him and drinking lots of pitchers of beer. He took me to my mother ʼ s house (that ʼ s where I was staying at first) and I was so drunk that I puked all over the bedroom floor. This just goes back to how the men in my life have always seemed to lead me into trouble and the women in my life have always tried to lead me out of it. It wasn ʼ t until my mid-twenties, living in Denver, that I actually started dating men in a healthy way. Even the first three boyfriends I had were what I would call emotional stunted and intimately unavailable. It wasn ʼ t their fault and they never really did anything wrong to me, but I was finally in a place where I wanted and expected more out of a relationship and I ended up dumping all of them for different reasons. The first cheated on me, the second had a bad attitude about life and the third, well, he was just all over the place and unable to be a boyfriend. He needed a mother and a father. Finally, in my late 20 ʼ s, I visited Wichita for Christmas and I ran into this man that I used to have a lot of attraction for in my late teens. I never got the opportunity to get to know him because he was always on the outside circles of my friends. Little did I know he had been fascinated with and attracted to me as well. When I saw him at the club, something in me became very aggressive and I gave him my phone number. We had lunch that weekend while I was in town and we talked for hours. As we left, we hung outside of our cars and then started making out for a half- hour. The day I left for Denver, he had breakfast with my mom and my good friend (or perhaps more accurately, my ʻ god-friend ʼ ) John. It was like I subconsciously knew that we ʼ d ended up being together for many years and I wanted him to meet my family as soon as possible.

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Within a few month, he ended up leaving his life behind and moved in with me in Denver. A few years later, we both packed up our lives and left for Seattle

and we ʼ re still together today. It hasn ʼ t always been the easiest relationship and it hasn ʼ t been completely perfect, but it has been the best relationship Iʼ ve ever had with a man. My man is someone I can trust. He doesnʼ t lie to me and he isnʼ t manipulative. I ʼm not sure I would even appreciate him as much as I do had I not spent my entire life dealing with men who were completely the opposite. However, sometimes I think I could show my appreciation even more than I do. He inspires me to be a better man.

I could myself growing old with this guy. He has an emotional intelligence

and a sense of loyalty that is hard to find in most people in general, let alone guys. I look back on the rest of my life before him and see myself as a totally

different person. I ʼ m forever changed and for that, Iʼ ll be forever grateful.

I still distrust a lot of men out there - especially, those who are in positions

of authority. I try to keep it in check, like I try to keep lots of toxic thoughts in check, but it can be hard. After all, the majority of my experiences are that men want to 1) have sex and 2) be in control. I know not all men are like this, but one only need to watch the latest national news to know that it is a common thing Herman Cain anyone???

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Sixteen: Reverse Racist!

John Paul Sharp

Along the same vein as my last entry, I ʼ d like to explore my own reverse

racism. For many years, I have not been comfortable in situations where I am in

a room with mostly white people

twenties, I was extremely untrusting of white people, even though Iʼ m white myself. Let me explain. I grew up in Wichita, Kansas as an overtly effeminate boy. My mother used to take me to garage sales and I would try on women ʼ s hats and check out the barbie dolls. I loved ʻ girly ʼ things and I loved being ʻ girly.ʼ This led to a lot of traumatic bullying for me as soon as I passed the third grade. Also, because the public school system struggled to place me based on my learning abilities, I had other strikes against me. I was labelled as having a behavioral disorder and then I was labelled as gifted, then I was labelled as normal and then labelled as gifted again. I ended up in a ʻ transitional ʼ first grade class and later ended up skipping fourth grade altogether. By the time I was in the fifth grade, I had lost any friends I had previously. I remember being seriously bullied by two kids that would follow me and taunt me all the way through high school. Most of the white kids in my classes treated me horribly. But there were these four black girls in fifth grade that took me under their

wing. They liked me because I wasn ʼ t normal. They like the fact that I ʻ talked like

a girl. ʼ They thought I was funny and we used to hang out during recess and I

found protection from them. No one messed with me when I was with these girls

- in fact, it was really quite the other way around. A lot of the kids who were picking on me were scared of these girls because they were unafraid when grouped together and enjoyed themselves, being loud or being goofy or whatever.

even though I ʼ m white myself. Throughout my

I did not realize at the time how much this would shape my attitudes about

race. All throughout my childhood, I found comfort in black women - though, my experiences with them were never at home, but in public institutions. I had a gifted teacher who was a black woman and she really believed in me, but was also stern with me when I needed it. I looked up to her so much because when other authority figures were confused or complacent about my education, she always seemed to know my potential and expected more out of me.

I think what made me learn to distrust large groups of white people were

hearing some of the things they seem to be unafraid to say when other people of different races aren ʼ t around. I ʼ ve had white people say some of the most racist things to me simply because I was also white - as though there is were some

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unspoken rule that being racist was okay as long as non-white folks didn ʼ t hear us.

Because I was separated as ʻ differentʼ from the rest of the group early on, I

might as well have had a ʻ gay skin color ʼ instead of white. I didn ʼ t get the full privileges that white males normally receive because as soon as I opened my mouth, my peers and authorities immediately saw me as a gay child and reacted to this. So, I identified more with racial minorities who received similar treatments that I received. This whole distrust thing has not gone away as much as I would like it to. I realize that being a reverse racist is not better than being a normal racist. Both views are pretty ignorant and they can create feelings of toxicity that are just not conducive to living a life that is without fear or unnecessary limitations. However,

I am still more comfortable in social situations where there is a good mix of

diversity. I ʼ d probably be uncomfortable in any group that had too much of any race, to be honest. But the whole thing where white people say bad things because thereʼ s only white people around still happens all the time. Just a week ago, I was in a rehearsal where there happens to be only white folks in the show. I think the director might be mixed, but mainly, the group is full of white folks. One of the girls made a comment about how some scary black man came to her place of

work. She didn ʼ t say anything outrightly racist, but itʼ s the way she said it that makes you know she would never have said it the way she did had my partner been in the room. Even during my baccalaureate education, I had two situations in which a white male said the “N” word and no one did anything but laugh nervously. When

I made a fuss about it, that ʼ s when everyone got really uncomfortable. Because I

demanded that we all have a conversation about why it ʼ s not okay to use that word so casually and why those two men would not have used that word so casually in the presence of a black person, the rest of the group were uncomfortable with the idea that they may need to examine their own reasons for not being upset with the whole situation. I was so upset with both instances that they led me to tears. The tears were out of frustration that no one else felt as passionately as I did about it. It happens all the time. When I was a part-time waitress at The Delectable Egg in Denver, Iʼ d have conversations with the Mexican-American busboys about how you can ʼ t always tell where someone ʼ s background comes from. My partner looks black, but his mother was Mexican-American and his father was from Puerto Rico. When I would explain this to the busboys, they would always say, “He ʼ s not latino or hispanic. He ʼ s just a n*****.” If they ever wanted to rouse me

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John Paul Sharp

up or get me upset, that was usually their first way of doing it - because they knew how much that word upset me. The manager of this restaurant would always seat me black customers, because she knew my partner was black. There were times when we ʼ d be busy and it would look so Decent because all the black people were in my section. I ʼ d have times where my customers would even ask me what it was about. I could never say why, but I think they knew. It ʼ s one of those things you can tell without having to ask. Racism is still well and alive in today ʼ s American social climate. Don ʼ t fool yourself. It ʼ s all over the place. The real challenge some of us have to face is not to become reverse racists. We have to learn how to treat everyone as individuals and not avoid others or cling to others because of the color of their skin. At any rate, I try not to judge someone too much because I hear them say something like, “a scary black man.” Though, I will say that those types of comments will make me more wary about someone. I try hard not to judge them, but I also get excited for the day when I will get to introduce my black partner to them. Hopefully when that happens, they might be forced to ask themselves if they ʼ ve said anything around me that they might regret. However, I doubt people are as introspective about their words and actions as I think I am about myself. So I guess my point of today ʼ s entry is for all of us to ask ourselves: “Am I a reverse racist?” And if you think the answer might be yes, think about how you can moderate those thoughts so that they don ʼ t control how you live your life or who you choose to associate with. Our beliefs should not control us so much that we miss out on the beauty of others and the potential for relationships. Even if you do meet a racist or someone with slightly racist beliefs, you never know how much you might be able to influence them to turn their thoughts around. Also, if you see yourself as a reverse racist, you never know how much someone might surprise you. We all have such a tendency to judge before getting to know each other and the slightest comment could easily be misconstrued or even misunderstood. Give each other a chance. And one last parting idea that I must get out is this: If you do see someone who makes a racist comment or says a horrible racist slang word simply because everyone in the group is of the same race - say something right away! My biggest regret is that in most cases where this has happened, Iʼ ve said nothing at first. I always let the situation stew in my mind and then I would have to do something about the next day or a couple of days later. One ʼ s objectives lose power and steam the longer you wait before you say something. In those cases in my college days, if I had said something the moment it happened, it would have had a much greater impact. Instead, I waited and then tried to mediate with the teacher in both cases. By the time any issues

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were addressed, most of the attention was put towards me and my own frustrations rather than on the person who made the comment in the first place. So, yes, say something right away if you feel it is serious enough. In the case of the young woman who said, “scary black man,” well, I didn ʼ t say anything because it wasn ʼ t overt enough for me to make a big deal out of it. However, if any other comments were to come out of her again, I would definitely say something. You ʼve got to fight the right battles and the battle should be big enough that you don ʼ t just cause a stir that people aren ʼ t going to understand. But if someone says something serious enough and you do speak out, you ʼ ll probably be speaking out for others who feel the same way but can ʼ t find the courage to say something themselves.

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Day Seventeen: Online Bad-Asses Are Anything But

Okay, so last night (or, really, a few hours ago) I was reading +Sterling Kʼ s rants about how the media was not covering the Stop Online Piracy Act and everyone on Google+ was ranting and raving about their music beta site that just went public in America. I figure he has every right to be angry about it as corporate media outlets often overlook the stories the American public should be aware of. But instead of venting that frustration properly, he tends to use words like f***** and n***** and tells everyone to eff off. Because I have agreed with some of his views and feel he is a pretty intelligent guy, I have loosely followed him and sometimes respond to his posts. While his online persona is rather aggressive and overtly aloof, I tend to gravitate towards people like that because they keep me entertained to a degree. But the

ʻ n ʼ word is where I draw the line. Now, if he was black and using that word, itʼ d be one thing. I mean, he uses the ʻ f ʼ word a lot and that doesn ʼ t bother me because he ʼ s gay and I feel like he ʼs got some room to use it. But, sorry, you ʼ re only allowed to use words that are used against you - not words used against others - to make your point. I just feel like people who try to be super bad-ass online are really probably rather pathetic people in real life. I have always used my real name in all my online social networks for the past ten years because I feel like if I ʼ m going to have a persona online, it needs to represent who I am as much as possible. When using your real name, you are forced to stand up and stand by everything you put out there in the world. When you ʼ re anonymous, you can pretty much say anything you want without fear of consequences. Being an American, we have the right in our constitution to say pretty much whatever we want without fear of being jailed or put to death. I fully realize that other people in other countries are not afforded these rights and so they should have the protection of anonymity in order to express real truths that are pertinent to their lives. But this Sterling guy lives in Hawaii and does not really need to protect himself this way. He spends a lot of time talking about how brainwashed everyone is and how if you don ʼ t take a stand on anything, you ʼ re a waste of space. He talks about how the majority of the population is full of stupid people. While I think there might be a dash of truth to these resentful statements, ultimately, I think they are the opinions of a privileged white man who has probably had his way for most of his life and therefore has little tolerance for differing opinions or views. It ʼ s probably also why he thinks it ʼ s edgy or smart to use extremely racist and ignorant words meant to bring harm to people who are and have been

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oppressed. In this sense, he is no better than the people he thinks are such idiots.

When I shared his post about “Why is everyone in Hawaii a f****** n*****?” it was meant to expose his behavior to other people he might not have intended and to perhaps show him that this type of expression is unacceptable. Do I think sharing it was entirely effective? No. But, I stick with my last post about how if you see something that ʼ s wrong, you should point it out right away and make it known. Yes, I could have un-circled him and just pretended that he didnʼ t exist like some others have stated they did in response to my share, and I understand the point behind that is to make the choice to see what you ʼ d like to see and ignore what you don ʼ t. But, I feel that not saying something or not putting some light to it is, in a way, saying that it is acceptable. The silence says, “Hey, itʼ s not for me, but some people might like it.” People should be shamed for using those types of names. Public figures who use words like that lose jobs, lose business and have severe consequences for being idiots who vomit unproductive negativity. Why, then, should any of us be an exception? Just because youʼ re online, doesnʼ t mean you should be able to spout out hate speech. I do believe in Karma to the extent that we put out energy through our thoughts, spoken word and our actions. In that energy, we are putting out to the world messages which in turn bring us responsive energies. Just because you ʼre online and you are using an anonymous name doesnʼ t mean you are safe from the response to the energy you ʼ re putting out there. You never know who is out there reading your stuff. You never quite know who out there knows who you are and who you might actually meet someday. If you spend much of your time putting out seething, hateful messages, you really have to be careful to make sure that your online persona remains anonymous because otherwise, the consequences could be irreversibly damaging. If the only way you feel you can get your point across is by calling people hateful names, you ʼ re really no smarter than the people who bother you so much. In some cases, you ʼre probably dumber than the people who bother you, especially if who you ʼ re angry at is someone you ʼ ve never met or don ʼ t know. This guy is so angry about corporate media, but what he doesnʼ t realize is that the people who are in power who really are out to control what we receive are counting on people like him misdirecting their anger. People who are unable to process their emotions appropriately are easily controlled by their own emotions. What would be more powerful is to take all that energy and direct it to more productive outlets to find real solutions to the problems of our world.

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If people could learn to put their ideological difference aside for the great good of mankind, there would be no stopping the power of the people. Competition is a healthy way for people to get out their aggression and frustration of opposing views. Cooperation and compromise is an even better way for people to get together on the issues that affect all of us, regardless of our views. So many people out there get focused on democrat or republican and if the powers that be really are connected and chained to corporate greed, that ʼ s exactly how they want the American people to be. They want us to to treat politics like sports and root for our side or our team, regardless of whether anything gets done in Congress. If we ʼ re more concerned with identifying as a Democrat or a Republican, we become less concerned with the future of our country. Debates that are centered in this dualistic type of thinking absolutely lead to nowhere. Mostly what happens is both parties get upset or angry by the end of the ʻ conversation.ʼ I ʼve seen it happen a million times because there ʼ s no way to win when there ʼ s only two sides to an argument. Real life has more than two sides. Every instance of reality has at least three sides, if not more. We live in a three dimensional world where everything has different shades of colors. We aren ʼ t living a two dimensional, black and white world - so why in the world should we treat politics that way, especially when politicians tend to have so much control over the quality of our lives? So, I guess what I ʼ m saying is that if you feel you need to use words like f***** and n***** to get your points across, perhaps you ʼ re looking at life with black and white spectacles. Take those glasses off and see the world for all the colors it has and maybe you won ʼ t be as angry as you think you are. Maybe you ʼ ll actually see how you can be a positive contributor to the world and not just a misdirected reactor to the world. Reactions are great, but they don ʼ t go far enough to bring us all to a better place. Just sayin ʼ . An online bad-ass is probably anything but.

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Day Eighteen: People Aren ʼt Disappointing, Are They?

I ʼ m sitting on the 2 bus, stalled at Broadway and 10th Ave. There ʼ s some

sort of car wreck in front of our bus and I guess the bus driver doesn ʼ t make adjustments to his routes. I think weʼ re going to sit here until the wreck gets cleaned up? I sure hope they get it done quickly. I mean, I could just get off and walk a few blocks down and grab the 11 or another bus that will get me downtown. I did, of course, already pay bus fair and don ʼ t feel like getting out. I was planning on going to Starbucks early before my double rehearsal day today

to get my writing done, but I thought, what the hell - Iʼ ll just get it done right now, while I ʼ m on the bus.

I ʼ m feeling a tad stressed out today. I have a three hour rehearsal for H&J

in Ballard and then I ʼ m going to be thirty minutes late to my next rehearsal at 85th & Aurora. I don ʼt like being late to anything and I do not like people having to make exceptions for me, but I did tell SD/DT that this was going to happen. I tried to ask my co-actor if she could give me a ride to my next rehearsal, but she has plans to go see a movie and so, it ʼ s gonna ʼ be the bus for me! Part of me wants to hate her, but then, really, itʼ s not her fault that I am

double booked today and it ʼ s no one ʼ s fault that I don ʼ t have a car, so I just push down those feelings and move past it. Iʼ m working on being more positive even though I ʼ m mostly upset with H&J for scheduling so many rehearsals back to back with SD/DT. If they were both at the same building, it ʼ d be fine, but they ʼ re not. Even if I did have a car, this was going to be a huge issue. But I ʼ m trying to work my immediate feelings of negativity and turn them around into positivity. Both shows are going to end up being fantastic and hilarious and Iʼ m sure Iʼ ll feel great about the whole thing when it ʼ s all done and over with. It ʼ s just the whole thing with getting *through* the whole thing that can be so difficult.

I think one common thing I go through in all my shows is that I tend to

detest the rehearsal process. I think I get super critical about how the whole thing works and I focus a lot of my energy to how my time doesn ʼ t seem to be valued or how my time seems to get wasted by other ʼ s sense of disorganization. This is something I really need to work on because in most cases, by the time the performances come, I really love being involved with shows and I don ʼ t necessarily regret the time spent rehearsing.

I try not to put a lot of expectations on other people because I find myself

becoming extremely disappointed with the results. I know that sounds horrible - and that ʼ s probably because it is horrible. We ʼ re not supposed to think that way. There are, however, so many times when I expect people will try their best and I

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guess it is Murphy ʼ s Law that dictates those experiences to always seem to fall flat.

I figure if you don ʼ t expect anything from anyone, when they do well, you are all the more happy about it. Of course, the problem is that when you don ʼ t expect anything from anyone, you have to work really hard to do everything yourself and life kind of sucks when you canʼ t depend on others for help. I know,

ʻ cause I ʼ ve lived that kind of life for many years and it ʼ s just not fun. Life is brighter when you have folks around that you can depend on and expect help from.

Having said all of that, I think the key to being happy with people is to find some sort of balance where you hold a minimum level of expectations from those in your life. If they can ʼt ever meet them, don ʼ t get upset, but make note of it and focus your energies around people who are helpful and reciprocative to whatever is going on in your life. Also, it ʼ s important to examine what you ʼ re doing to help the people around you as well. If you ʼ re not there for folks or not helping them, how can you expect others to help you? But then, I guess I also want to say that you should never help other people thinking it ʼs some type of investment for when you need help. Thatʼ s is a sure way to disappoint yourself unnecessarily. Sure, it seems like a reasonable idea, but it is really not reasonable to expect other people to be available, physically or emotionally, at some undetermined point in the future. Just help people to help people. Because it ʼ s the right the thing to do. That has to be enough.

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Nineteen: My Brain ʼ s On Fire

John Paul Sharp

Well, I have a bit of catching up to do again. Not sure what it is about these weekends that makes me stop writing so much. Itʼ s not like I have a job or anything. I think itʼ s because I donʼ t have as many rehearsals closer to the weekends and I start playing that effing Skyrim game and before I know it, it ʼ s a couple of days later. My best, or rather, most productive writing happens when I leave early for a rehearsal and I head to a coffee shop, usually Starbucks, and I just sit in a public place and type away. When I ʼ m at home, I have too many options for distraction, namely the television or my cats, ʻ cause, ya ʼ know, they are just so cute and starved for attention. So, my brain is on fire lately. Iʼ ve been in all these theatre shows and they

are fun, but I ʼm kind of getting that producing bug again. I really want to write and produce another musical and perhaps try to raise money for a local organization here in Capitol Hill, Seattle. My boyfriend just got started to volunteer for Gay City Health, which I believe helps people with HIV/AIDS. Iʼ m not really sure, but it sounded like a good organization to promote in producing my first Seattle show. I never try to make money or profit from producing shows. Why? Well, because I rarely have made enough money from a production to pay actors or anything. If you can make sure to get enough ticket sales to pay for the actual venue, you should count yourself lucky. Usually, the case is that the person responsible for putting the show together ends up paying a bunch of money out of pocket just to see it happen.

I ʼ ve been thinking about it and part of me wants to put My Big Phat Gay

Musical back on stage. If I were to do something like that, the show would need to be completely reworked to where it was truly an ensemble show. Because I originally did it for my Senior Recital for college, my character had to be singing in most of the songs. I think it could be really hilarious if a few songs were cut and some new ones were added to give all the rest of the characters more depth - like the Bitch and Customer #1 and even Savala the Cook. Because Iʼ ve already done the show and know how it goes, I think it would be pretty easy to pick up where I left off and just evolve it a little. But then I keep thinking about a new musical too. I have this idea for a Drag Queen Murder Mystery that could be tremendously funny. The scene setting for the show could be at a gay bar with basically two different set ups: 1) backstage and 2) the stage for the show. The dressing room tables could be reworked into patron tables when switching between scenes. It would require some logistical thinking to make it work, but I don ʼ t think it would be impossible.

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So the story would have a bunch of drag queens getting ready for their regular weekend show. There ʼ s an MC, some drag queen who ʼ s been there for

years - and its her last night doing the show. Perhaps there is another queen who

is supposed to take her place and

out a plot in my mind for murder. Iʼ m just not sure. What about if there ʼ s no murder, or how about we just put murder to the side for now and perhaps I could do like a Drag Queen Chorus Line show.

Perhaps It ʼ s the MC ʼ s last night and they are going to have a competition to pick

oh, I just don ʼ t know. It ʼ s so hard to figure

her

successor that night. Then all the queens could have their own songs and the

plot

won ʼ t have to be such an integral part of the show. Every night of the

performance, a random queen could be chosen to be the winner, so each night, the show is never quite the same. I wonder what kind of queens we could have. There ʼ d have to be one who was a hot mess and not very well put together, but never stops doing drag because her heart is so invested in it. Then there could be a rookie queen and it could be her first night and everyone gives her conflicting advice and perhaps

treats her like a dog or something. There ʼ s definitely gotta be a ʻ big-girl.ʼ Another queen could be the ultimate bitch who ʼ s slightly dangerous and likes to throw ashtrays when she gets wasted. Another queen could be high out of her mind.

Oh, and a backwoods, country girl. With the MC, that would make up seven girls.

Maybe add a gothic girl - oh, and definitely a slut-whore! Can ʼ t have a show without one! If you take out the whole murder mystery aspect, it could easily be a show with a different song for each queen, where she explains why she should be the next MC. Of course, there would have to be some type of secondary conflict happening underneath the basic premise. Perhaps two queens really hate each

other and keep getting on each other ʼ s nerves until a big fight ensues at the end of the show. On top of that, there could be two queens who like each other and finally end up making out at some point. Perhaps the MC is secretly sleeping with

one of the contestants and that ends up being a huge scandal. This person could

be randomly chosen each night as well, since the person who ʼ s sleeping with the

MC should probably be disqualified.

It ʼs not a bad idea at all and could be really, really fun to put on. It would, of course, take a lot more time and work to put this type of show on and I already have so much groundwork done for MBPGM, where I already know the set, the characters and would just have to do some editing and adding. This other show idea would be completely from the ground-up. I also already know how funny MBPGM is and how much people loved it. Of course, I also want to release a new album in 2012 and I donʼ t know how I ʼ m going to do all of this. But, I figure I don ʼ t have a real job and my school

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work load next semester is going to be a lot less than it is this semester. I don ʼ t have any shows planned for after December, so Iʼ ll definitely have time to work on some stuff.

I already have some songs going for my new album. I wrote a fair amount

of songs that I never officially released this past summer that I want to rework and rework until I am completely satisfied with them. I want to take a lot of time to make them special songs. I ʼ ll keep them all to myself all the way up to the album ʼ s official release date. This time, Iʼ d like to release it like regular labels release music: by hyping it up and not letting anyone hear anything until it officially releases. Perhaps, when everything is finished, I can pick one song to be a single. Either way, I don ʼ t plan on releasing it until late 2012 and my process for finishing it is just visiting the songs here and there, fixing one thing here, adding something new there. I ʼ m making myself ʻ sit ʼ with the songs so that I become extremely familiar with them by the time they are released. In the past, Iʼ ve always released songs just as soon as I put them down into recorded form and while I think thatʼ s a fine way of being a music artist, itʼ s not exactly the most profitable way to get music out there. When people have instant access to everything you do as soon as you do it, you ʼ re probably not

putting out your best work all the time. Also, people are just a whole lot less likely to buy your music when they have such easy access to everything through Facebook and your website.

I put all these musical theatre ideas out there on Facebook today and got

some great feedback from my friend Woodstock. She said that I should focus on this new idea because it is so exciting and because, since I ʼ ve already done MBPGM, I could always pick it up again and the longer I wait until I do, the more

perspective Iʼ ll ultimately have for how it should be done. Iʼ d agree with that and plus, a whole gaggle of drag queens sounds like such a great time! Of course, finding a bunch of drag queens who would be able to commit might be difficult, but I ʼve never let that stop me. There ʼ s so many other things to think about too - like which venue to go with and how to do the music. I ʼ d love to get a small band and do live music, but

I ʼ m just not sure how feasible that would be in regard to the budget and rehearsal

time. I don ʼ t know how I ʼ d coordinate all of that by myself. Of course, with drag queens, they would all have their own makeup and costumes, so thatʼ d be a whole lot less to worry about! Anyway, my brain is on fire! I ʼ ve got a lot of stuff to keep thinking and dreaming about. Until then, I ʼ ve got a few performances coming up that I should also focus on. I don ʼ t want to spread myself too thin mentally at this point. So! More on all of that later.

Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

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John Paul Sharp

Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

Day Twenty: Things I ʼ m Grateful For

John Paul Sharp

Well, you ʼ d think I ʼ d run out of thoughts to think about, but somehow, I keep

coming up with them. It ʼ s a good thing too, ʻ cause I still have ten more to go after today. Phew, this project is turning out a little tougher than I thought it would be!

I ʼ ve been thinking a lot about how Thanksgiving is coming up. It ʼ s slightly

ridonkulous, but I actually have a rehearsal on Thanksgiving day. Yes, I know, really? Even my friend Alan, who invited my boyfriend and I to eat dinner with him and his partner, said, “Effing really?” Ha! Yeah, I know - but my fellow actor had to leave town for several days and we missed a few necessary rehearsals, so we ʼ re having to make them up where we can and I guess Thanksgiving day is one of them! Anyway, I don ʼ t care about doing regular stuff that day. Thanksgiving and Christmas have rarely been normal holidays for me anyway. For so many years, I waited tables on Thanksgiving. I remember that was always a good money day at Village Inn. My last restaurant always gave us the day off and sometimes, I ʼ d attempt to cook food but most of the time, I think I just stayed at home and smoked weed. This is the first year in many that I won ʼ t actually be going to Wichita, Kansas for Christmas. Honestly, Iʼ m relieved. Traveling to Kansas has never been easy or cheap. Most of the time, I ʼ d end up renting a car and driving Paul and Jeff down and I ʼ d find myself stressing over I-70 because there would usually be snow or sleet or something scary to deal with. And then, once Iʼ d get to

Wichita, I ʼ d find myself having to go to so many different places that the biggest stress would be juggling my schedule between my mom, my dad, my godmother and my friends. No one would ever be at the same place. Everyone would be

talking shit on each other. Just stressful

This year, we ʼ re just going to stay in Seattle and do our own thing. It sounds like we ʼ ll be having Thanksgiving dinner with Alan and Patrick and that

sounds like a great old time to me. It ʼ ll be nice to just relax and kick up our feet. So, I ʼ m leading to wonder what Thanksgiving really means to me. I remember hearing on TV the other day that originally, the puritans (I think thatʼ s who they were) who celebrated thanksgiving actually did not eat a bunch of food like today ʼ s modern consumer-driven Americans. They fasted! Yes, imagine that!

and expensive!

I could probably do with some fasting myself. Iʼ ve gained too many pounds

and my body has become soft and just not what I had ever hoped for. You can

grab on to too many parts of my torso and my skin will collect and bunch up. Itʼ s just nasty. Anyway!

I guess Thanksgiving is a time to be extra-grateful for the things we have

and what ʼ s going on in our lives. Since I have made a point in my own life to be

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grateful for what I have every day, it seems a little redundant to me, but heck - I ʼ ll

just go with it and try to come up with a top-ten list of things Iʼ m super-grateful for. Okay, ready? Here we go! Number Ten: Unemployment. Jeeze, I tell you what - the unemployment I have collected since June of 2010 has kept me right over that line of falling into the financial hole I ʼve been digging over the last several years. I don ʼ t know how we do it, as Americans, but it seems to me like life without some type of debt is nearly impossible.

I mean, if you think about it, the only way you can get a house is if you ʼ re

rich and have lots of cash or if you ʼ ve got a job and are willing to pay it off for thirty years. Most of the time, you can ʼ t even qualify for a loan unless youʼ ve already got a regular history running up and paying off debt. Consider someone like me - I have an amazing credit score because Iʼ ve been steeped in debt for years, yet I ʼ m never late making payments on anything. The credit companies love me because I ʼm not afraid to become a slave to their credit limits. I don ʼ t know how many times I ʼ ve had a credit card company bump my line up to $6,000 all the way up to $10,000. When that happens, you think - how crazy! Why would

I ever need that much of a credit line. Well, before you know it, you end up using it and using it until you realize that ʼ s how they get you.

I ʼ m just thankful that I ʼ ve had unemployment for as long as I have. I know

it ʼ s almost up. Iʼ m just hoping that it doesn ʼ t kill me that I won ʼ t be getting that extra $340 every two weeks. But itʼ s probably a good thing. Hopefully it will force me to get some kind of job. I think Iʼ ve been too picky because I ʼ ve been able to count on that unemployment to keep me afloat. Eventually, I ʼ ll probably end up a part-time waitress again, god forbid, but for now, I can focus on theatre and just be glad. Number Nine: School loans and the ability to go to school. I have always enjoyed being a college student. I ʼ ve technically been in school since 2005, with about a year break in 2009. I didnʼ t really start racking up the loans until 2010 when I started my M.A. degree. My senior year in college was a full-ride and I

didn ʼ t take out any loans then, but now, I ʼ m taking twenty grand every year. I think

I ʼ m up to 80 grand now and there ʼ s no job in sight. So ridiculous, but I can say that I am a much different person than I was in 2004. Now I can proudly call myself well-educated. Too bad no one pays you to be smart.

I am grateful for the privileges Iʼ ve had in regard to going to school. I ʼ ve

learned how to sing and act and be a great performer. I ʼ ve learned a lot about psychology and instructional design. Iʼ ve been able to get computer software and equipment at great deals because of my student status. I ʼ ve met lots of people and made great relationships with them. I have a lot of great memories from my time as an undergrad too. I fulfilled a lot of my personal dreams through college.

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Number Eight: The ability to move my body. Iʼ m glad that Iʼ m able to physically do things that allow me to act in theatre. Itʼ s easy to take movement for granted. You don ʼ t realize how valuable or even seemingly essentially moving your body is for most daily routines. Not until you lose that ability. So, for now, Iʼ m absolutely grateful. Number Seven: The ability to sing. They say singing is the highest form of

spiritual praise. I can say, for sure, that when I sing, I think Iʼ m the most spiritually connected than at any other time in my life. I love being able to sing and Iʼ m so happy that I ʼ ve learned how to sing in a way that other people can appreciate. This gives me opportunities to sing on stage and continue to work on my craft as

a singer. Number Six: Not having some chronic or terminal disease. Iʼ ve met and had friends who suffered from diseases that really affect their daily lives. The mental and emotional toll this takes is perhaps the greatest challenge for them to enjoy their lives. It ʼs hard to say if we are strong enough to deal with this type of life situation and for now, I ʼ m just grateful that god or the great cosmos above have not given me an opportunity to find out if I am strong enough or not. Number Five: Having a roof over my head when I sleep at night. Paying rent has and probably always be my greatest priority financially. I never take any chances as to whether or not I will be able to pay rent. Being homeless sounds like the most terrifying way to live a life. There was one and only one time in my life where I was late paying rent and the person I was subletting to made my life a living hell until I could get the money to her. I went to so far as to ask my mother for help, which is something I never ever do and will never do again. While I would never wish any harm on anyone, I can probably say that I hope the decision that woman made to make my life a living hell still haunts her to this day. I have a feeling, though, that it probably doesn ʼ t and that sheʼ s mostly forgotten about me. Karma ʼ s a bitch, but she ʼs also flaky sometimes. At any rate, I am always aware that I could lose shelter at any given month

if I ʼ m not careful and so I ʼ m always very grateful that I havenʼ t struggled so much

that rent couldn ʼ t be paid. I do, however, chalk that up to the fact that I ʼ ve made it such a priority in my adult years. Number Four: My friends. Who are you without friends to love you and miss you and want to know how you ʼ re doing? I think if I never had any friends throughout my life, I wouldn ʼ t have much of a sense of identity. I know what my best and worst qualities are because of the interactions I ʼ ve had with my friends. My friends are responsible for who I have become and so if I love myself at all, I owe much of that to the love of my friends. Friends are what keeps you from

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feeling invisible - from feeling like if you disappeared, there wouldn ʼ t be a void where you left. Number Three: My cats. My cats are like my children. They keep me stable because I have them to care for. They give me a sense of responsibility much like those who have actual children, except my cats rarely talk back and rarely get themselves into trouble. Well, okay, Sylvester likes to find unique ways of getting into trouble, but it ʼ s not like I ʼ ll ever have to pay for him to go to college or get piano lessons or anything. They are simple, soft and usually always ready to receive love. I also like that they are different from dogs in that you have to earn and maintain a sense of trust with your cats. You can ʼ t expect your cat to always be around for you like a dog will. Dogs will take attention no matter what, but a cat, you must continuously respect. I like that about them and Iʼ m very grateful to have them in my life. I can ʼ t imagine what itʼ s going to be like when they pass on. I just can ʼ t think about that at all!

Number Two: My family and my boyfriend. Even though my mom can be unassumingly overly critical about my life and even though my father can be

unassumingly neglectful about my life, I ʼ m grateful I still have them alive today. I may not always agree with either of them, but I ʼ ll always appreciate the fact that I can pick up the phone and talk to them. I love how night and day they are. It ʼ s an amazing thought that they ever got together, had sex and bore me. I think thatʼ s what makes me so interesting is that I come from two starkly different individuals.

I ʼ m also completely grateful for my boyfriend, of course. Heʼ s like my

husband except I have troubles calling him that since we can ʼ t legally get married. But if anyone were to be anything like my husband, it would be him. We ʼ ve been through a lot together and are still in love. I canʼ t imagine what my life would be like without him. I know I would not be as happy and would probably be getting into a shit-pile of trouble. Being single was never a great thing for me and my man makes me whole. I just hope I can be as good of a boyfriend to him as he has been to me someday. I ʼ m eternally grateful for him. Number One: My life. Without this life, there wouldn ʼ t be anything to talk about. I ʼ d be an energy particle or a salmon or a stepped-on spider. Enough said!

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Day Twenty-One: Make Your Own Kind of Music

Well, here I am, sitting in the Seattle Center House and trying to catch up on nanowrimo again. I don ʼ t know if they picked November because it seemed convenient for them, but having participated in this for my fourth year, I can honestly say it ʼ s one of the most horrible months to try and accomplish writing fifty thousand words in thirty days. My Novembers have always been jam-packed with activities and deadlines. This year is no different. Iʼ ve got my masters work which is taking

more time than I would like - as in, it ʼ s actually taking time to do. Ha! I spent the majority of the day today trying to get the content together for my edWeb, or educational website. This whole eLearning degree is really strange for me. I don ʼ t necessarily know how I ʼ m going to make this degree work out for me. All I can really do is just do my best. Iʼ ve probably talked about this before, but a lot of the jobs I ʼ ve seen for eLearning require that you have a bachelor degree in some type of basic field like math, science, marketing, etc. There ʼ s just not a lot of vocal performance majors who end up meandering to eLearning like I did. But screw it. I got myself into this mess and by God, Iʼ ll make something shine out of it. I ʼ ll just keep working on my edWeb and try to make it look as good as possible. I ʼ ll get my portfolio together and perhaps someone will hire me to do something related to eLearning. At this point, Iʼ m just ready to have a job! I was looking at my bank account today and gritting my teeth. Iʼ m so close to not having enough money to get me through to the end of January. December and January are always tough months since I ʼ ve depended so much on student loans to get me through. If I keep getting unemployment (itʼ s supposed to run out any time now), then I should be okay. Otherwise, we might be late for rent in January. Fun times!

I ʼ m not blaming anyone. Iʼ ve gotten myself into this whole mess. I just keep

telling myself that all the decisions I ʼ ve made were made for some good reason or another and that I shouldn ʼ t be so hard on myself. I ʼ m not some vagrant or anything. I ʼ m a hard working, highly ethical individual who just wants to do the best I can at whatever it is I ʼ m supposed to be doing. But that, my friends, is the rub - what am I supposed to be doing? Yes, Iʼ m talented at acting and singing and I can write a good tune. I have a lot of potential in the performance world, but I ʼ m just not sure how to make it work without a day job. And if it were as easy as just getting a day job, I wouldnʼ t have anything to complain about. Iʼ d be like everyone else - doing something Monday through Friday and then living my dreams in the theatre on weeknights and weekends.

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I could do a bunch of stuff. I could start a nonprofit theatre organization and just do my own shows. Of course, with no income other than stupid school loans and unemployment, that ʼ s way easier said than done. It is, however, a great option to think about when I finally do get out of school. I hear if you ʼ ve got a nice nonprofit going, it can help you if you donʼ t have the money to pay off student loans. And I ʼ d be helping the community! So, I was all excited about downloading Kate Bushʼ s new album. I finally did a few nights ago and I gave it a listen. I can say that it was about what I expected, but not quite what I was hoping for. I suppose that when we reach a certain age, we kind of stop making intense music. Kate Bush has always been great for making intensely imaginative, dream-like music. This album does that, but in a much slower, soothing and atmospheric way. It ʼ s not exactly attention-grabbing. Itʼ s the kind of music that would best be heard in the background, really, and I can ʼ t hide my disappointment. I wanted so much more!

And what is it with my favorite artists bringing their kids into the mix? Tori has her daughter singing on her new album and Kate ʼ s got her son singing on hers. Both of their children ʼ s voices are really quite beautiful and it makes me more excited to see if these kids will blossom into their own music journeys. Of course, they have such big shoes to fill, I wonder if they would really go for it in the end. Who knows how much their mothers dragged them into it! So, I don ʼt know if it ʼ s older age or having kids that does it, but both those ladies put out some rather sleepy songs this year. I ʼ m a little sad because I ʼ ve been craving new music by them and was so happy and surprised when I found out they were. I guess you can ʼ t have everything. At least Björk put out some amazing work this year, though, I might say, it was also a little sleepy in comparison to her previous work. But still - her music is wildly awesome regardless. The more I think about it, the more it makes me look at my own music that

I ʼ ve made. I haven ʼt released anything in 2011 and won ʼ t. I have a gaggle of unreleased songs that I ʼ m not totally happy with. My goal is to get them reworked and in a better place so I can release them next year. I also want to take more time to perfect the overall sound and make some touches that show maturity and skill in recording. In the past, Iʼ ve always released music as soon as I put it down. It was always good enough for me because I was in the frame of mind that I had to prove to myself and others that I had what it took to not just write some songs, but to be prolific. And prolific I was. Twenty albums in five years is no game, but I can tell you there are a collection of songs in those twenty albums that I probably could have and should have kept to myself.

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I do look at those five years as a documentation of sorts, like a journal of my musical journey. So, in some ways, every one of those songs should be out there for the world to hear and see. You can listen to my music chronologically and hear a real progression in my work. That ʼ s been fine for five years. Now, I want to do more. Now I want to work on an album that Iʼ ve sat with for at least a year. I want to spend so much time on it that I know the music backwards and forwards. I want to rerecord vocals over and over again until I get that one magic sound. I want to build the songs up, break them back down and build ʻ em up again until I come up with a sound that I am truly proud to share with the world. And I ʼ m going to keep all this music to myself. I ʼ m not going to listen to outside perspectives and opinions, though I know they are valuable. I want an album that reflects my own perspective over the course of years. I want to create a masterpiece of sorts. Something I could possibly tour with - you never know! These are the things I think about as I wait for rehearsal to begin. Sometimes, I feel like I spread myself out so thin that Iʼ ll never get anything done in my life. I ʼ ll just be known for trying a lot things, but perhaps never known for being really great at anything. I mean, who has a wiki that says, “After he produced three original musicals, he began his journey in eLearning?” Really?

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Thirty Days and Thirty Thoughts

John Paul Sharp

Day Twenty-Two: Only in My Dreams

Ever since I stopped smoking marijuana several months ago, I have been

having vivid dreams every night. There ʼ s really not a morning that I don ʼ t wake up and remember whatever dream it is that I had. I suppose that ʼ s a good thing. I ʼ m not really sure if it means anything at all, other than the fact that my mind is probably more aware than it has been for several years.

I suppose life without good ol ʼ marijuana is better. I ʼ m not going to lie.

There are some rainy days when I don ʼ t have anywhere to be and I get that itch.

But it ʼ s not the kind of itch that absolutely has to be scratched. I donʼ t get all crazy about it - I just kind of think to myself, “Thatʼ d be nice,” and move on with other thoughts.

I have dreams with recurring characters, most of them from my childhood.

A lot of the time it ʼs my long time friend, Jeff, or his father. My mom and my own dad often show up in my dreams. Then, of course, there ʼ s brief visits from my sister. Those are the stranger ones because during the dreams, I kind of forget that she died. Itʼ s not until I wake up and a few minutes pass that I remember and take a sigh of disappointment. I then try to think about what stuff we talked about or what happened in my dream because I wonder sometimes if thatʼ s really her spirit visiting me.

A lot of the time, my dreams deal with some type of guilt. Usually Iʼ ve done

something to get myself in trouble and I ʼ m trying to work a way out of the problem. Those aren ʼ t my favorite types of dreams. Other times, I have these incredible dreams where Iʼ m on a plane that

almost hits a building or I ʼ m on some strange roller coaster that flies off the rail. I love those kinds of dreams. I remember another dream where the Earth had lost its orbit and was heading towards the sun. That was pretty darn amazing, but also had this feeling of sadness as I remember I was trying to find people to be with for the end and, of course, you know the way dreams work - I wasn ʼ t able to do that.

It ʼs funny how in our dreams we have these goals and objectives that

always get derailed, whether it ʼ s because something else happens or because

the dream itself changes entirely. I guess dreams represent real life that way.

If I had more wherewithal, I ʼ d totally do what people say you should do:

make some kind of conscious decision to dream about something, go to bed, then wake up in the morning and write down everything you can remember. That ʼ s fine if youʼ re one of those people who can focus and develop habits easily, but that ʼ s not me. I ʼ ll do something like crazy for three weeks, burn out and then move on.

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John Paul Sharp

You know, I was watching The Dead Files from the Travel Channel. Itʼ s not the best show Iʼ ve ever seen, but it is interesting. This lady named Amy walks through houses and talks to dead people and then some cop guy does his own independent investigation. Then they come together and see how much they find out and what similarities were discovered. There was this one episode where one of the clients of the investigation said that she speaks with all these spirits in her dreams. Amy told her that before

she goes to bed at night, she should tell the spirits that itʼ s okay to talk to her, but not through her. I thought that was a real interesting thing and wondered if I might be able to do it myself. I think maybe tonight, I ʼ ll say something out loud about how spirits can visit me in my dreams and talk to me - but not THROUGH me! Ha! I ʼ m not trying to get possessed or anything. It would be fascinating if it worked. If it does, I probably won ʼ t tell anyone for fear of people thinking Iʼ m absolutely bonkers. But I sure as heck would write those interactions down! It makes me wonder what types of spirits might be in my apartment building. I ʼ