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Catch Up

As the years pass and I approach the somewhat arbitrary milestone of turning 30, I have begun to feel the way my brain holds memory change in real time. The nights out, the plays, the bad days at work have begun to shift around as sand, while certain core memories of childhood and particularly eventful happenings rise up like rocky islands against the erosion of time. It takes concerted effort to remember if a given play reading or production was in 2021 or 2022, and there are whole weekends down the shore people will mention that I straight up forgot happening. As someone with anxiety, I find the prospect of loosing even the smallest amount of footing in regards to my memory existentially horrifying. So I'm choosing to write some of this down.

2023 was a year of some mental and emotional strain. While on a family vacation abroad, I suddenly began experiencing extreme physical symptoms of anxiety, prompting an ER visit in Austria and culminating in a full blown panic attack the final full day of vacation. I began to feel my head spinning, I was unable to process information or eat properly, and I became acutely aware of my heart rate. I lost roughly ten pounds in ten days despite drinking beer and eating some of the richest German fare you can imagine. I returned home and went back on anti-anxiety medication almost immediately, and over the course of the summer my panic attacks went from once a week to once a month, and now they are hardly a concern. The fact these symptoms overwhelmed me only a month after I had COVID for the third time often gives me pause. I am still on my medication, and sometimes feel my head spinning for no real reason.

These developments are hardly related to playwriting, but I wanted to share them anyway to give context to how I've progressed since. In July, I felt anxiety creeping up like cold tendrils when I tried to read or write. I have since read at least a dozen books both fiction and non-fiction, and have continued writing and editing at a consistency that only improves with time, but this progress was hard earned. I have had to work to feel safe doing activities I put importance on. I had to drop multiple responsibilities at once so I could focus on my jobs and eventually graduate school applications, and now I feel far more at balance than I did this past spring. I am celebrating every opportunity that comes my way.

In the summer of 2023, I watched my play And Every Creeping Thing performed by the Alpha Arts Players at Sussex County Community College. The student cast was absolutely fantastic, and the director and professor, Allison, was a joy to work with. It was a wild experience to see a group who didn't know me look at my play and agree they all wanted to perform it. I will keep their signed poster in my office forever. A week later, I had the privilege of participating in the Samuel French Off Off Broadway short play festival with my one-act play A Sprinkle of Grace. The team organizing the festival from the opening night party to my play's presentation made me feel so welcome into the environment. The communication was top-tier, and each play and its playwrights was inspiring. To be included in such a group was an honor I did not take lightly.

Come the fall, I was given the opportunity to participate in the SOOP to Nuts Short Play Festival with my play The Spaces Between. I then directed a production of Annie Baker's The Aliens at Chester Theatre Group. Just last week I presented a reading of my play Moth, the Missionary at the Maker's Space as part of their intimate artist night series, and in two weeks my play So You Bought a Fiddle Leaf Fig will be presented at Mercy University for the Irvington Theater Arts Incubator Short Play Fest. I have applied to 16 graduate programs and have had multiple inquiries for interviews.

I am told progress is not linear. Where I am now compared to where I felt I was in July are miles apart, and yet I can see every mile I traversed to get here in order to catch up. Catch up to where I want to be by 30. Catch up to where I know I can be. And if my anxiety hits again like it did this summer or worse, I know I can catch up again. It just takes rest, dedication, support (oh my god, so much support, but that's it's own blog post), and patience.

And that's what I've been up to.

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