True Confessions

“I’d like to thank the academy for this honor, and everyone who’s encouraged me over the years, and my parents, for having faith in me no matter – ”

Wait a minute. Academy? Honor? What the hell are you blathering on about now?

OK, I have a confession to make. I think I mentioned this before here at the Crisis, but it came up again in a more vivid way as I experienced another in a long series of literary setbacks. Back in December, I applied for a grant from the state of Connecticut, similar to one I received last year from the Greater Hartford Arts Council, which allowed me to go to New Mexico and work on a new play. After that validation, I was feeling a wee bit cocky this time around: I had that work from last year to submit for this grant, and I felt good about it. Why wouldn’t the judges want to give me money so I could finish it?

Well, maybe because more playwrights apply for this particular grant, which offers up to $5k. And maybe because this one is statewide and draws a higher caliber of applicants, including one guy I know (or know of) from an online playwrights’ group. He of the highfalutin’ MFA program in NYC taught by very well-known, successful playwrights, and of the numerous NYC productions of his own. I had actually seen one of his short plays in Chicago and realized his talent. Yeah, I really hate him. Especially now, that he got my grant.

My grant. Haha.

No, no, I don’t hate him. I realize there are lots of folks out there who are better playwrights than I. He and the other four or five grant winners surely deserve their prizes. And I did not. But getting this grant, I was sure, was going to be another step in the process of fulfilling a dream I’ve had more than half my life. Of winning some huge award for my creative work – an Oscar, a Tony, hell, even an Obie.

This dream-slash-fantasy first filled my head when I was 25 or so and trying to write my first screenplay. I, of course, knew nothing about screenwriting, but hey, I had seen a lot of movies. How hard could it be? Uh huh. I imagined myself in a tux, standing in front of the audience with statuette in hand, thanking all the people who had helped me reach that podium.

Nothing if not grandiose, eh?

Then, just a few years ago, I had a dream – a literal dream. I was in a tux again, in a theater where an awards ceremony of some kind was being held. I was up for one of the awards, and an attractive blonde was by my side. She stood and kissed me, or at least beamed with pride, as my name was called and I rose to walk wobbly-legged to the stage. Must have been one of the actresses, I thought upon waking, since the Ex would of course be with me at any important event such as that. Of course. Now, I try to use her absence and the blonde’s presence as a sign that I am not destined to a single life. Maybe the blonde was my new love, my next wife, my…soul mate! Or else the blonde was just an actress and the Ex was home sick, or had some more important event to attend, or was washing her hair…

I know I can’t/shouldn’t take my sleeping dreams as prescient. The other kind, the daydreams of long-held wishes fulfilled – I’m not sure what to make of them. Delusions, or inspirations to keep going, keep writing, even in the face of setbacks and disappointments? I try to make them the latter, but as years pass and the awards ceremonies seems more elusive, I realize I can stop worrying about having to rent too many tuxes.

Thoughts of another, much different unfulfilled dream have filled my head the last week or so. Well, not a dream exactly – more of an achievable goal for most folks that I have mostly decided I did not want. I have spent a good deal of time with friends who are parents, who have raised great kids. Kids that maybe at times had them pulling their hair or cursing under their breath, but whom they love and receive love from in return. As I age, and particularly as I enter this phase of my life alone, I think about the positives of parenthood I will never know.

Oh, someone tells me, you never know what will happen; you could still be a father, or a stepfather at least. Maybe. But step-parenthood has little appeal, unless the child were young enough that I could feel like I might be a lasting, positive influence. Little seems less satisfying than being “that weird guy my mom’s dating” to some sullen teen. No, I think the reality is, I will never fling a toddler over my shoulder in a playful romp, never explain the intricacies and simple pleasures of baseball to my 10-year-old, never have an adult conversation with my adult child. I never thought I would miss any of that, in those younger years when I insisted I was not father material. Funny how wrong you can be about some things.

Many things.

(Though perhaps I was right about the father-material bit. We will never know.)

So, there are my true confessions for today. A perhaps-silly fantasy of great success achieved; a much-less-silly regret for an easily attainable goal that will now never be reached. Unless I actually meet that blonde…


~ by mburgan on May 14, 2011.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: