Taxes, cancer, a play and gratitude

Taxes, cancer, a play and gratitude

April 15, 197something. Tax day!

I’m old school or maybe just old? I go back to the days before Al Gore invented the internet. You had to have your tax returns postmarked on this day OR ELSE! Scary AF!

I remember driving downtown to the main Chicago post office. The cars would get in a queue. You would be constantly checking your watch, hoping you’d get to the front before the midnight deadline. When you finally made it up there, someone would take your envelope. They would stamp that postmark on it and eventually deliver it off to the IRS. You’d check your watch one more time to see that you made with a couple of minutes to spare. PHEW!

I know how much easier it is now, thanks Al for the internet, but I miss the trip downtown with my friends.

Good times! We usually went to a bar or a restaurant afterwards. A couple of the folks who made this yearly journey are no longer with us. I miss them, but they’re remembered with fondness. I’m grateful for all the fun we had together.

April 15, 2015. Cancer day!

I started the day with Melanoma in my body. Scary AF!

It was two months earlier that I found a gnarly looking mole on my upper back. It was one month earlier that the mole was diagnosed as Melanoma. This was the day the cancer was going to be removed. Surgery day! My first time getting cut up!

I checked in to the hospital at 8 am. By 10 am, I was under the knife. By noon, it was done. By 1 pm, I was home and cancer free. It was that simple….at least for me.

It’s amazing that someone has a disease that could end your life and in less than two hours, it’s completely gone. Whenever I think about this, and I do often, I shudder a little because I know how wrong it could have gone. I know this because I know a couple of people with Melanoma who weren’t as lucky. They went through years of Hell before dying. There’s a lot of why me/survivor’s guilt. It’s not unusual. I hear it a lot.

This was a good day. A good day to remember and celebrate. I’m grateful for all of this.

April 15, 2019. Play day!

It’s time for the third annual Homeless Monologues. Again, I’m going to write a large portion of this production. That’s not so scary. Again, I’m going to pretend I’m an actor and have a role in this production. Scary AF!

Three years ago, I wrote a piece for the first edition of The Homeless Monologues. I decided that I was the one who should act read it. When I finished, I grabbed the hand of the actor sitting next to me and said never again. Never lasted until year two.

After writing most of the monologues, I was content to watch the professionals do the acting. Hey, writers write and actors act…and never shall they meet? Yeah, we know better, right? What happened was there was one piece that I liked, that wasn’t going to make the final cut unless they had someone to act it out. Guess who? Yep! Moi!

So after two years and no one being injured by my performances, except my ego, there was no pretending I wasn’t going to be involved. I knew I was coming back for year three.

I gotta tell you something about this….IT’S ADDICTING!

I have a fair share of readers for this blog and some of the other projects I work on. I appreciate this and try not to take it for granted. But this is different. There’s something about watching trained actors read your words that moves you. There’s something about watching an audience laugh and cry over the performances and words that moves you even more. It makes you want to do it again and again. I guess this is heroin for a writer.

As for last nights production, I was concerned that it couldn’t top year two. I was wrong! During the rehearsals, I was concerned about a few of the pieces. I was wrong! I was concerned that some dude who doesn’t act would screw it up for the seventeen others who do act. I was wrong about that, too. It does help that the words are directly in front of you to read. It’s true that reading is fundamental. It works for me.

Once again, The Homeless Monologues turned out great. It’s because of our producer, Laura and our director, Harsh. I hope I got your names correct! HA! It’s because of all the actors that donate their time. You watch them on stage and if you didn’t know better, you’d think they were telling their own stories. It’s because of all the folks that are either homeless or have been homeless and are selfless enough to share their stories. It’s because of the Goodman Theater, who lets us use their stage for free. It’s because of the folks at Lincoln Park Community Services, who support this artistic endeavor, which is now a labor of love for a lot of us. In return, we made a lot of money which helps to house, feed and support people living through homelessness.

The Homeless Monologues is a lot of hard work, but is worth all of it. As the saying goes, if it was easy, everyone would do it. There’s not a project that I work on that has a much meaning to me. Nothing that makes me feel as proud. I’m grateful to have a part in this. I’m grateful to everyone who makes it possible.

Another April 15 has come and gone. Three distinctive events that have helped shape my life and have nothing to do with each other except that they occurred on the same day…and I’m grateful for all of them. I look forward to future April 15s. I’m not sure what they’ll bring but I imagine gratitude will play a role in them.

Related Post: There’s acting homeless and there’s being homeless

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    My so called friends think it's time to edit this section. After four years, they may be right, but don't tell them that. I'll deny it until they die! I can't believe I've been writing this blog for four years. It started as a health/wellness thing and over the years has morphed to include so many things that I don't know how to describe it anymore. I really thought this was going to be the final year of the blog but then Donald Trump came along. It looks like we're good for four more years..God help us all! Oh yeah...the biographical stuff. I'm not 60 anymore. The rest you can read about in the blog.

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