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BWW Blog: Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (Part 1)


1. Carving Yourself Out of The Stone
BWW Blog: Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (Part 1)

Musical Theatre hasn't always been my first love. Hell, I saw my first show when I was twelve-ish, which is relatively late in a "theatre person's" life, and that show was Spiderman Turn Off The Dark. Not the best show to get bit by the theatre bug according to the musical theatre zeitgeist, but that show propelled me to learn more about this "theatre thing."

I was a kid that first got introduced to music in the third grade by learning how to play the recorder and parlayed those skills to learning the alto saxophone in the fourth grade. I would always get jealous when I saw my peers and peers from other schools get into music way sooner than me due to private lessons. My parents and I never knew that I could take private lessons, despite a music studio being near a popular Dunkin Donuts near my house, because I thought I was going to be a scientist.

I was confident I was going to be on the team that discovered the cure for cancer. My family actually use to affix "Dr." to the start of my name, as I was so adamant on that goal. My grandfather first started to call me that and I would always get embarrassed, but it wasn't until he died from cancer that I understood his pride and joy in calling me "Dr. Bailey." Things obviously didn't pan out as getting rejected from my school's Science Research team twice was enough to damage my confidence and drive in anything scientific. I still managed to follow the science research team to get a taste, but it was obvious that I didn't belong. Before I graduated high school, one of the teacher advisors told me:

"I'm happy that I didn't let you join our team because you do so much better in the arts."

In my elementary school years, for recess, I took refuge in the basement where the school kept its very small art and music department. Recess, for me, was always a struggle as I wasn't cool enough to play basketball with "the guys" or wasn't fast enough to secure a place on four-square. If I was fast enough to obtain an inscribed square, I would get eliminated immediately as if they didn't want me to play; they had plausible deniability for their disdain of me under the guise of the rules of the game. Plus, not to mention the countless bullying I endured and still endured to this day from girls teaching me "how to be a boy" by mixing my chocolate milk/applesauce/fruit cups with my pizza or whatever the food of the day that was on my little, cheap Styrofoam tray to side comments made by my peers which ranged from homophobic to my speech impediment. This made me eat lunch alone in the corner where the lunch table met the wall decorated with discarded pieces of gum.

I rushed to eat my lunch, a habit that I would carry on to high school, almost to the point of nausea so I can have a seat in the dusty, almost church-like mildew catacombs of my school instead of going to recess. Near the ceiling of the room, there was a small window, frosted over from years of wear and scratches, that showed a slither of light that was mandated to be there for safety reasons. On really warm days when the sun was not obstructed by clouds, the asphalt near the windows created these cool waves almost like an acid-trip. Sometimes, I would stop playing and peer my head up to be hypnotized by the cacophony of my peers' footsteps as they were playing tag, walking and etc. I wished I could play with them and have thirty minutes of fresh air, but I chose to be down here.

My music teacher, who was one of very few male teachers at my school, at the time would eat his lunch as I intermittently practiced so he could supervise me. The teachers were fearful of letting any child alone (apropos since George Bush's No Child Left Behind was a big mantra and slogan in my school) in any capacity let alone a room where there were thousands of dollars of instruments ripe to be broken. When he saw me stop playing and look up, he would slowly bring down the tattered blinds of the window and asked: "Play me a Concert C major scale."

To be continued...

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From This Author Student Blogger: Michael Bailey