Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tick...tick...boom!

I was in my mid-20s when I saw tick, tick... BOOM! and as with Jonathan Larson's more famous musical, Rent, I also resonated with this one. Even if I wasn't even pushing 30. Around that time, I felt I was headed nowhere as a writer--I wrote newspaper supplements, had an editor who provided zero training, couldn't see beyond a week of my life...whine, whine.

Now that I'm in the final year of my 20s, I find myself thinking more and more about Jon, the musical's main character (brilliantly portrayed by Jett Pangan!) who's turning 30 soon and worried he made the wrong career choice by sticking to the performing arts:

JON: In one week I'll be thirty. Three-zero. Older than my Dad was when I was born. Older than Napoleon was when he ... did something that was probably extremely impressive at the time – I'm not a historian. I'm a composer. Sorry, a "promising young composer." I should have kids of my own by now, a career, but instead I've been "promising" for so long I'm afraid I'm starting to break the fucking promise.

Even if the space I am in right now is nowhere near Jon's, I find myself going over the things I spent my 20s on. It's not always a happy trip down memory lane. Sometimes I cringe, sometimes I feel the urge to bury chunks of it deep in the pit of forgotten things, sometimes (a few times) I want to go back and relive some moments all over again. And sometimes, I just want to go back into time and whip somebody's ass. Hehe.

Ultimately, though, I have no regrets. Well, actually, that's not really true. I do have some regrets, but not the kind that bears down much on my 29-year-old self. Mostly, I wish I hadn't wasted so much time holding back. But that's the past now. And where I'm in, it's all about looking forward by being in the present.

One of my best friends, Sherwil, turned 30 last weekend. That's two out of four already, because Emily turned 30 the month before. We had dinner last night at 20/20, the resto bar on the 20th floor of Bellevue. As a toast to the new decade, Sherwil had a cosmopolitan. Em and I have weigh-in early this week, so we just had coffee.

On Sherwil's birthday, thinking of Jonathan Larson and his autobiographical character namesake, I texted her: "Today you say goodbye to being young and promising, and say hello to being relatively young and accomplished." It was sort of a message to me too, because I'm also preparing the stage for my own dazzling show.

Initial plan of attack for 2007:

1. Slay dragons
2. Be financially responsible
      2.1. Get a steady job
      2.2. Open new savings account
      2.3. Pay outstanding bills
      2.4. Start investing
3. Take care of self
      3.1. Join gym
      3.2. Update hairstyle
            3.2.1. Get a haircut
            3.2.2. Have hair relaxed
      3.3. Reach ideal weight
4. Finish graduate studies
      4.1. Finish thesis
      4.2. Pass thesis defense
5. Have thesis published into a book
6. Find a loving, lasting, committed relationship
7. Travel out of the country

Looking at the plan right now, it looks so simple and doable. And it really is, when I shut my own unconscious chatter up. In tick, tick... BOOM! Jon asks himself, "Cages or wings? Which do you prefer? Ask the birds. Fear or love, baby?"

Wings! Love! And, like Jon, except that in my case it's prose:

JON: I want to write music. I want to sit down right now at my piano and write a song that people will listen to and remember, and do the same thing every morning for the rest of my life.
When you know what you really want, the "ticking" is really easier to deal with. And you're more than happy to pay the "price" for pursuing it. Grateful, even, that you have the opportunity to.

One last quote from the libretto:

JON: The tick tick booms are softer now. I can barely hear them, and I think if I play loud enough I can drown them out completely.