A Farewell to my Uncle By Gregory Jacobs-Roseman (Composer-Lyricist)
Hello dear readers of Crazytown. So, you may or may not have noticed my total absence from the blog a week ago. That was due to the unfortunate circumstance of my family having to bury my now-deceased uncle. Jews by tradition bury their dead as quickly as possible. I’m sure there’s some scriptural reason for this, but I’m no expert. All I could do was feel and live through the loss.
My uncle David, a man who stood taller than any concrete building or ancient tree was taken by cancer at an early age. These are the remarks I wrote on the train while heading home to Delaware for his funeral:
When I was younger I wanted nothing more than to get out of Delaware and away from my family. I wanted to go off to college, get the hell out of dodge, be independent and on my own. I suppose being the only gay kid I knew in Delaware in the 90’s had a huge part in that. What I didn’t recognize back then was how unconditionally my family loved me, and how my feeling of being out of place had nothing to do with them.
In my life experience death isn’t something that became a reality until I was away from the place in which I grew up. I lost a grandfather before I was old enough to form memories, and two great-grandparents during my early teens, but I still didn’t possess the maturity to fully comprehend the loss.
My aunt Cheryl died of cancer my senior year of college. It happened during the Boston blizzard in January of 2005 and I couldn’t get out of the city. I felt helpless – and it is that feeling that defined the major losses I have experienced ever since. I lost my grandfather in April of 2013. That came out of nowhere and was a stark lesson in how people can be here one minute, and then leave this existence overnight.
My uncle David Freschman was in his early 50’s when he passed away from pancreatic cancer yesterday. He was a large presence, a man who was not lacking in firm opinions or tough love. I grew up with him. I spent a lot of time as a young boy at the Freshman house wishing to be anywhere else. I looked after my baby cousins and basically waited until my mother would pick me up from her sister’s house to take me home.
When you’re a kid you don’t think that being stuck at your aunt & uncle’s townhouse will become a cherished memory when you’re in your 30’s. When you’re a kid you’re not aware of the way life can be cut short – how sometimes no mater how strong and virile a man may appear on the outside, we’re all at the mercy of our bodies, and a couple of malignant cells can bring down a man who seemed bigger than an oak tree when I was little.
Cancer is awful. I wish I were smarter – I wish I were some brilliant doctor who was actually doing something to stop it. But unfortunately I never inherited my family’s talent for medicine. I can only feel, think, and try to put it all into words and onto paper in an attempt to communicate with any other human willing to listen. It’s the only thing I know how to do. It’s the only way I know how to get the helpless feeling out of my brain and body.
I sit here now on an Amtrak train 40 minutes behind schedule heading home to Delaware to bury my uncle. If you told me back during my teenage years that I would one day be anxiously anticipating the hugs I’m going to receive from and give to my Jacobs relatives I wouldn’t have believed you.
This isn’t forever. Be present. Do what you can to be happy. And tell the people you love that you love them. I said it when I delivered my grandfather’s eulogy and it remains as true today as it was then: there’s no such thing as saying “I love you” too many times.
This is my contribution this week. I can think of little more to say, except this: get yourself checked out often and early. I have no business giving medical advice – but you don’t fuck with cancer. If your body is telling you something is wrong: get a professional to look at it.
GREGORY JACOBS-ROSEMANis a composer/lyricist and theatrical sound designer. His musical Save The Date: A Wedding Road-Trip Musical won the Overall Excellence Award for a Musical in the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival. gregjr.com EMAIL HIM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | OTHER POSTS BY THIS AUTHOR
When dealing with factors beyond your control... By Alan Winner (Performer, Writer, Producer)
Getting anything done while you have the flu is beyond me.
Add to that the loss of a friend in a motorcycle accident and a harrowing tornado storm, and who knows where your head will wind up!
There's no telling what you'll come up against when starting a business. But when trouble comes knocking, you must have a plan.
I've been lucky when it comes to being sick. I've usually had a family member or boyfriend around to bring me medicine or to draw me a bath, but when I left Drew in Tulsa, I knew I would be on my own for a few weeks. I didn't know that this was the precise time that my body was going to turn on me.
What I thought to be a cold, turned out to be much worse. My fevers were intense, constantly peaking and breaking... I have been exhausted, and not able to take care of very much on my end.
Drew calls often to check on me, so when he calls I usually bitch and moan about how horrible I feel... A couple days ago, his phone call was not about me at all.
A close friend of Drew's was killed in a motorcycle collision. He was in his late 20s. The moment I heard what happened, my fever suddenly felt more manageable. Everything stopped being about me, and how shitty I felt, and the bigger picture came into view.
When young people die, you automatically analyze the way you've been living your own life. You wonder about the thread that keeps us alive and grow deeper in your understanding of what it is to be alive.
Now my fevers are gone, I'm left with pain all over my body from my immune system working double time. Without that pain, I won't heal. While Drew mourns his friend, it is a different kind of pain to manage. Emotional pain can be far more crippling than any physical pain you experience.
Then another phone call... While I was expecting to hear an update on funeral preparations, this call was about the Tornados threatening Tulsa. Well shit. It really seems like Drew and I shouldn't let each other out of our sights. Luckily the tornados kept to the south of him, but there were moments of legitimate worry along the way.
There are times when business partners have to be in different cities to get everything accomplished. That is all made much harder if your business partner is also your boyfriend. We knew theoretically how hard it could get, but it is impossible to know the full extent until you're in the thick of it.
There will be more obstacles in your way than you can possibly imagine, but the good news is that you can learn from all of them.
We wouldn't be starting Nodding Donkey Studios if we didn't strongly believe that this country needs it. That belief is what helps us weather the storms, literally and figuratively.
Time apart gives us time to further value our partnership and shared vision. The time we spend together builds our strength to face our challenges head-on, whether those challenges are directly related to our business, or our personal lives. As important as it is to have a clear line between the two, they are not altogether inseparable.
The funeral is today, and Drew will be back in my arms by Sunday at the latest. I push aside my selfish need for my boyfriend as he is handling a much more delicate situation.
The trials we've seen together all pale in comparison to what we plan to accomplish. If your dream for you business isn't vast enough, there's little chance you'll survive.
So say "Fuck off" to all the haters and surround yourself with people who support you. In the 21st Century, it's impossible to do it alone.
A look into this writer's struggle with gender expectations, character development, and "womb lit." By Annissa Omran (Writer/College Student)
A couple of weeks ago, I was in workshop for one of my creative writing classes when I had an experience that rocked my tiny, notebook-carrying world. My professor called me out for having a "one dimensional female character" and I was thoroughly confused. She was a peripheral character, and through the free indirect discourse I thought I was employing, it was pretty clear that her characterization was superficial because that's just how the male protagonist saw her. I was actually taking a dig at my leading man's lack of originality by having his perspective distort this woman into a stereotypical piece of ass.
Now, it is QUITE possible that I simply did not succeed in expressing all of that in the draft that I'd submitted. It is possible that my complex layering of perspective and perception did not come across because I, as a student, am not yet adept enough with my techniques.
However I also noticed that there were a multitude of one dimensional, peripheral male characters that were written about in that class and this professor said nothing about them.
That's when things started to feel kind of fishy...
A woman’s place is on the money. By Rachel James (Treasurer/Writer)
When thinking of what to write for this week, I realized that I had almost let Women’s History Month slide without a single mention. So... hey ladies! Go us!
In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to share a movement with you that has recently come to my attention. It’s an organization called Women on 20s, and they’re campaigning to have a woman from American history placed on the $20 bill.
Oh, and in case you forgot who’s on the $20 bill, it’s this guy:
How are your favorite spring stories racking up so far? By Juliana Adame (Critic, playwright, performer, designer)
Spring has offered a slew of awesome new shows- the CW is really killing it. Let’s see where they stand, at the moment. Spoilers ahead! (For the original list, see my previous spring TV article here)
The Last Man on Earth: Promising, but questionable
Why? I have at last come to the conclusion that I hate Kristen Schaal. Here voice is annoying and her humor if iffy, to me. But January Jones has arrived, what now? But, I am behind an episode, and questioning whether to return. Like I said previously, I could watch a show of just Will Forte, but every show needs new characters. But is the title determinately limiting?
Important predictions: None yet. I mean, sadly what’s her face isn’t going anywhere.
Girls: possibly in its best season yet
This was the most eventful season, by far, and was littered with great guest stars- also, who else is waiting for the Elijah spinoffs? (#butseriously) Happy it seems Hannah ended up, for now, with Fran, and happy that it seems Marnie and Desi are over (how can a guy with such a cute name look like such a homeless werewolf??), but hate to see AW sad, even though she's not-so-secretly the worst most of the time. The whole tub birth was a little much for me (Gabby Hoffman is a great performer, but a little too a natural for me), even more so than Maude Apatow's horrible piercing scene or the Q-tip scene of old. GAH LENA STOP!! Anyway, I'm actually really excited for next season, and sad to see it go this year- usually, I'm relatively indifferent, but the tagline of this year could not have been more on point.
This week at Hillside, a stolen necklace means trouble for Janice and Courtney, a bet between the guys means trouble for Arseman and a steadily loosening grip on reality means trouble for Billy. By Owen Panettieri (playwright, lyrcist)
Previously on Fifteen: Arseman became lead singer of Dylan’s band. Billy became entirely unglued from reality. Matt became enraged at the attention all the guys have been giving Ashley. Courtney became Janice’s one true friend. Brooke, Stacy and Dave became temporarily invisible. What will become of the kids this week? (Unfortunately, this one episode was posted without an option for hilariously incorrect closed captions. They will return next week!)
SEASON 2: EPISODE 10 – ARSENIC AND OLD NECKLACE
Hillside – Stairway to Nowhere. Ashley and Dylan walk and talk about Matt’s crazy outburst at the end of last episode. Dylan has always believed Matt was a total jerk, but now Ashley’s eyes are opened to the depths of his suckitude. All hope for friendly reconciliation between them seems lost. Meanwhile, Dylan and Ashley remain JUST FRIENDS, but I wonder. Chris slithers over to Ashley and is pretty gross to her as he says hello. Both Dylan and Ashley openly tell him to leave her the fuck alone. Chris has more pressing business than freaking out Ashley. He wants to make sure Dylan has secured Arseman as their lead singer. Dylan has not managed to do it. Chris wants them to lock her in before Billy can scare her away with his insane ramblings.
Speaking of which, Arseman comes down the hall with Billy in tow. He is telling her some absurd story about his made-up history with drumming. Arseman is barely nodding along to whatever he is saying paying the least amount of attention possible to maintain being in the scene together. Dylan and Chris come over and ask her about whether or not she’s gonna join the band. They are standing in a very unusual spot that allows you to see all the way up the stairway and at the top there is TOTAL DARKNESS. It truly is a stairway to nowhere as I’ve been saying all along! As we try not to stare directly into the existential void, Arseman finally accepts her place in the band and they all agree to rehearse at 4pm that afternoon. Jerry is coming over to hear them and see if they’re good enough to play at the Avalon. Billy is concerned that they haven’t practiced enough together, but Chris told Jerry they were still breaking in a new singer. Arseman and I both roll our eyes over his use of, “breaking in.” So gross.