A New Feature Film
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I was sitting in the office and heard a kind of high pitch screech, kind of high pitch yelp. It happened only twice that I heard. I got up to leave the computer for a moment and glanced out the glass office wall. Everyone was still in their seats listening to what’s her name deliver the workshop 411 all the while I’m guessin’ those passing by were callin’ the 911. The building was on fire.
Everything looked normal to me. Returning to my desk I cracked my fingers real good as I often do. It just feels good and regardless of what grandmother used to say, “My knuckles aren’t big.” “Well they will be. You just wait,” so she would say.
The article was almost finished. In fact, “Yes, there it’s done.” Sometimes I talk to myself a little when I work. Saying the words, taking them off the page.
“The building’s on fire man. What are you still doing here?”
I didn’t say that. That was Lawrence. The John Hancock Center was on fire.
“Oh, really?” I say rather nonchalantly and then after about seven seconds start to think, “terrorists.” I guess this is happening. Get your iPad, grab your bag and what else do I need? “Get your coat dude and let’s go.” I grab my coat and make my way to the hallway where I see two others and security waiting calmly. I gathered from the fact that JHC security was sticking around (in addition to our taking the elevator down) that either the building was not under attack or this was a really stupid evacuation procedure. Yet, I’m not an architect; I wanted to be once upon a time. I teach acting and singing at this place called Chicago Performing Arts, otherwise known as IPAA.
Lawrence started the company on the 13th floor of the John Hancock Center, one of the two main places for which I work. My opinion of him has changed greatly over the years. I was walking out with a curious quartet. Lawrence, Andrea and … I totally forgot her name. We get downstairs. Lawrence fills me in a bit. “Fire started on the 54th floor. That’s a residential floor,” he shares.
“Oh, o.k. So, more than likely it was a kitchen fire or someone fell asleep with a lit cigarette in their mouth or something random.”
I turn and look. The fire crew are there with building security. Some lady is resting on a bench wearing an oxygen mask. Finally, here it comes, the stretcher. That’s never a good sign.
Shortly thereafter they roll a man out wearing another oxygen mask. At least that means he’s breathing. Guess he lives here. Wonder how much it costs to live here? I couldn’t live here right now. Lawrence does. He lives on the 91st floor. Hard to live here when I work here … and at the little robot store.
Then of course, I have side gigs. Every actor has to have side gigs so they can convince themselves they are too busy to go on auditions. You know, too busy making money instead of acting for free. I’m thinking about being bitter even though I was just in a burning building about five hours ago.
After being made to leave the lobby we all took shelter from the snow at a nearby building where Lawrence has a corporate apartment unit or something. We walked in and there was this big refreshment table with warm cider and a spread of goodies. Immediately, I poured myself a glass and sat down to call my father as I had already phoned mom. He didn’t even know I worked in the building.
I go back to get more cider. “We’re not supposed to have that,” Ally says. “You’ve already poured it. It’s fine.” Everyone loves Ally.
The last parent (it was actually a big brother) arrives to pick up the final student. I initiated taking a group photo or two, some selfies are taken and we all depart. Erika asks if she can walk out with me. She smokes; I decide to not and we walk to the train together all the while talking about how crazy the whole day turned out to be, checking out articles on ABC and NBC all showing flames bursting from the side of the building. “I saw that when we were inside the building. I was like, gone. Why would you stay in a building like that?”
“I had no idea.” Thus begins the fire with talk.
Allow me to begin by sharing, “I am not an economist.” I look at the national debt from relative intelligence, as an individual man. “Debt,” to us is allowing a value to drop below zero with a potential for return.
There are those who would say, “You cannot have less than nothing.” How is this possible?
You cannot have less than nothing.
When I was an early, twenty something I got my first credit card and thought it was the greatest thing in the world. I immediately got a new Mac desktop, a very nice video camera and some additional equipment. I was a few grand below zero. No big deal. Right? Everyone around me had debt, student, personal, credit card, etc. Why not me? I figured, of course, “I’ll just pay it off later.” When does later come for the national debt?
During my late thirties I moved to Chicago and after a few years of decent employment I found myself unemployed for a year. Thank goodness for that credit card so I could still go out and party like an American when I needed it. My already amassed debt of an estimated $8,500 seemed like such a large number. What did an additional 20 or 30 dollars at the bar matter? Perhaps that is how many of our leaders look at the national debt. It is an astronomical number that will never go away so why should 1 or 2 more million matter?
At my lowest low of credit card debt I was near negative $14,000. Yet, as ashamed as I was to have nothing to show for this debt I felt lucky when I heard friends talk about student debt over 100 grand. It is monstrous that we view our students, our homeowners and our working Americans as items of profit rather than items of investment. Profiting from a student going to college is incorrect. We, as a nation should profit from their becoming intelligent, productive members of our work force, business owners and developers unburdened from their quest for knowledge. The true profit rests in the individual minds of potential contributors to the conversation, such as this conservation to “fix the debt.” We will not “fix” the problem until we all acknowledge it as both our individual problem and our collective problem. Most if not all of those who possess and horde the vast amounts of wealth in this country will never view this as a part of their individual problem.
What of the individual debt? “Pay it off tomorrow.”
Pay it off tomorrow.
The problem with this American thought is the vast majority have little to no concern with how long they exist below zero. Most Americans are either very knowledgeable of the travesty concerning distribution of wealth in America or they simply have no way of seeing it through the veil of delusion placed over their faces by unseen hands (which is sometimes their own).
After working every day for about nine months, I continued for the better part of three years working most days (across three or four jobs), while developing a personal budget and learning how to manage money. I came out of debt on 12/13/14. While I considered bankruptcy early on I could not get away from the awful feeling of not paying what I owe and regardless of my ignorance as a twenty something year old man I entered into an agreement as a card holder. Ever heard “money is power?” To be whimsical, in close, entertain a quote from the great Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Spider Man.
With great power comes great responsibility.
Those with the money can contribute to making America a debt free nation. I did. Will you?
like a dark rift, scattered so long so far,
I fell, a part here a part there, like a robot
I feel apart from myself
sucking up all the light I could without knowing from whence it came
that light wasn’t good for me…
a part, apart, divided indeed, that little angel fell from the sky
and then the next, and the next and the next and the next
left and lost without feeling me.
Your passion reminds me to be me and to be loved as I have loved me and thee.
when I listen to your voice I feel inspired to move.
would standing to dance in public be such a scene?
it tingles up and down, starting with a smile…
a flirty smile from far away
feeling like a boy who flirts with a boy before he thought it was a bad thing
just wanting you and everyone and every moment
make me feel, make me feel me again.
a choir of angels lean down to wipe clear the clouds
foggy clouds pressing down
your face lights like a sun, wish your eyes invite like open pearly gates
I see you with her and know it’s a love that love allows and it’s a very good thing…
no green eyed monster or one eyed monster makes me stray from just feeling good
feeling good when I shake from the sounds you make
making me feel me again.
just one more beat, one more note, one more vision
it’s all it will take
away from the cheap touch, launched into the sun
I feel warm again so careful you don’t get burned my lovely
it’s just me and you, make me, making you
making you feel me, making me feel you…
making me feel me again.
Sing for us you lovely angel; sing for us all.