It’s June 25th 2014. I’m sitting across a desk from Michael Wood in a Russian Language classroom in Murkland Hall. It’s hot. We’re both sweating profusely. I admire Mr. Wood’s beard and the strength of his resolve to remain bearded in this ineffable summer ‘swelt. I had only just recently and begrudgingly shaved my head clean in a futile effort to escape the heat. Like manly men, we went about our business without even a passing mention of the scorch; it wasn’t even addressed in the slightest in our small talk and introductions. He reminded me of Ernest Hemingway and I felt the need to earn his respect as fellow hard-MAN. However, as we sat down to pick my fall schedule, his kindness, candidness, and passion took me by surprise and more powerful than the heat, his sincerity quickly melted away my ultra-masculine posturing.

It was only a month or two before that I had learned that I had been accepted into the Theatre and Dance Program at UNH following my tour-de-force of an audition back in April. It was the theatre equivalent to watching somebody fall down the stairs. As Caesar had said as he marched on Rome, “Alea Iacta Est.” The die was cast. And right then and there in the oppressive summer heat, choosing my classes with Mr. Wood in Murkland: the Rubicon was crossed.

I told Mr. Wood that I had two goals in transferring to UNH from Emerson College besides simply graduating and getting my under graduate degree: I wanted to learn how to play the piano and I wanted to learn how to dance. I thought the first would be much easier than the second because I was classically trained and could read sheet music and had been playing instruments (violin, trumpet, guitar, kazoo, etc.) all my life. Music had always been a passion of mine; and one that I continue to furiously pursue. Dancing, however, was going to be a challenge. Mr. Wood said that I did, in fact, need a dance credit, which I was so happy to hear because previously at Emerson I desperately wanted to take a dance class but I was denied over and over again. My choice was between Theatre Dance I and Ballet I. I deliberate chose Ballet I because I thought it was going to be the more difficult of the two. I thought that if I could learn ballet, then I could learn anything in dance. At that time, I remember also a big reason why I chose ballet without hesitation was because I was reading Tupac Shakur’s biography and I learned that he had taken ballet in high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts. I really wanted to be like Tupac. That summer before my first semester at UNH, I was obsessed with Tupac Shakur. To me, he was an American Hero and somebody to look up to especially because he went to school to study to be an actor and a dancer and I wanted to do the exact same thing. Besides the obvious differences between TUPAC: a poor, Harlem-born, son of a Black Panther and TEDESTEN: middle-class, super white, film-skool dropout and semi-professional agent of chaos, we were both from New York and both classically trained in the fine arts and that was good enough for me.

“Tupac did ballet, so I’m gonna do ballet! This is gonna be rad!” That was precisely my line of thought and, oh boy was it rad.

But why is chronicling my experience stepping into the world of ballet important to me? Simply put: this class has meant more to me than I’ve gotten a real chance to acknowledge and think about. Emotionally, mentally, and physically, taking Ballet I has been by far the best decision I’ve made in 5 years. From mess to success, I seriously doubt that I’d’ve been here at the end of my first semester back in college/first semester at UNH and be feeling actually proud of myself. I feel good for the first time in forever and I really can’t believe it.

It’s been a busy semester all the way through from start to finish and the last few weeks have been aggressively taxing. I haven’t had a minute to breathe, let alone think or feel. I really wanted to take this opportunity to write a final essay about not just what I’ve learned and experienced taking this class as an introduction to the fine art of Ballet, but also I wanted to write something personal and thoughtful because writing is where I feel I can express myself and take the time to reckon with my feelings. Sometimes I only have feelings when I write about them. If I don’t take the time to write I lose myself. My world spins out of control and I am gutted. This class represents something greater to me than credits on my transcript. Long before the semester started, there were times when things got out of control and all that I had to hang on to was counting down the days until the first ballet class. Ballet was the first thing I’ve had to look forward to in a long time. I’ve had a very hard time looking forward to things in the past because I’ve so often been let down. It is rare that I can look forward to something and simply be excited and feel joy. Ballet came through for me during a time when most things don’t, haven’t, or won’t.

Mrs. Endrizzi, I know this essay is late, but I have learned that I would rather fail a project than pass in an incomplete and hollow effort when I know that I had much, much more to give. I started playing baseball when I was 3-years-old and nothing hurts more than walking off the field at the end of a game knowing that you didn’t give everything you could give and you didn’t give yourself a chance to do your best with everything you had. Even when my team won, I felt badly if I personally had a bad game—even if it wasn’t to the over all detriment to the team. If I didn’t give my best effort I wouldn’t sleep til the next at bat. The cliché they tell kids even at 3-years-old is, “leave everything on the field.” I’d like to take this opportunity to leave the field with my greatest effort.

Amidst the frenzy that has been the end of the semester, I have finally found the time to push myself into a sentimental and thoughtful moment (which is never easy for me). Your confidence in me and patience with me have meant a lot to me and I wanted to end this class by sharing and detailing my experience accurately and unequivocally in my preferred form of artistic expression: writing. Your passion for ballet, Susan, has imbued me with the inspiration and self-esteem that I thought I had lost years ago and I cannot thank you enough for sharing your passion for this fine art. More than anything has in a very long time, your class has stimulated my imagination and intellectual curiosity and I wanted to express my deepest appreciation and gratitude.

To give this self-indulgent twinkle of verbosity some semblance of a final project, I would myself categorize said twinkle as a written mirror image to a chapter out of Gelsey Kirkland’s memoirs as a professional dancer. This is a chapter out of my own memoir (titled “Someone’s Gonna Die Tonight!”) about my kamikaze introduction to the fine art of Ballet and what the experience has meant to me. Throughout all of the lectures and all of the readings about all of these fascinating and eccentric figures who make up the rich history of Ballet, I wanted to know who they were and what they thought on a more personal level. I have loved the quotes you’ve shared with us and the couple of videos of interviews with performers that we have seen. I have not read Kirkland’s memoirs, “Dancing On My Grave” and “The Shape of Love” but I am dying to just having learned about her and her struggles as a professional ballerina. She’s a fighter and I think it is always interesting to read an artist’s first hand account of their life and work. I love history and biographies and autobiographies. Especially books about or authored by artists and entertainers. This is the world I exist in myself and I always think there is something to learn from these people.

The most fun I’ve had this semester is writing essays for this class and I am very happy that you like my sense of humor because a lot of people HATE it. For me though, poking fun is my own personal highest expression of flattery. To me, it means there is fun to be had in whatever I’m writing about. If I can’t find substance or fun or intellectual stimulation in a subject, I do not make an effort and thusly I do not try to find the entertaining side of it. I bite down hard, put my head down, and get through it painlessly as I can. If my paper on a topic isn’t wordy, then I did not try very hard because I did not care for the topic. I find that as I get older, it becomes increasingly more painful and difficult for me to put even the slightest bit of effort into something I’ve got absolutely no passion for. Especially when it comes to WRITING about something I’ve no passion for because, like I said, writing is my favorite form of expression. So all of that being said, here is my final essay: my own Gelsey Kirkland inspired, ballet themed memoir chapter.


I remember vividly the moment I realized I was living The American Dream. I was driving home from baseball practice with my brother in our 1998 red Honda Civic. It was a gorgeous and brutally hot spring day in Toledo, Ohio. I pulled into the driveway of my mom’s apartment. My parents had gotten divorced just a little over a year before and were living on opposite sides of town. My mom was living in a swamp just south of the city out in the soybean and cornfields that surrounded Toledo. My dad was living in a project downtown in Southwyck—the crack neighborhood of Toledo and the original home of the gang known as the Glass City Mafia. My dad’s place was just down the street from my high school, between the demolished remains of the old mall sitting in the middle of a parking lot overgrown with weeds, and an abandoned Clarion Hotel, the tallest building for miles in this low-slung section of the city. Southwyck staggered on into infinite oblivion in the shadow of the abandoned hotel. Under the watchful eye of the Clarion. It wasn’t literally bombed-out, but figuratively, the whole city was bombed-out. Whenever I drove to my dad’s, I always made a point to park next to the Jeep with the bullet holes in the door. I figured nobody messed with whoever owned the shot-up Jeep. It was the Wild Wild Mid-West. Even though I was born in New York, raised in Massachusetts and only lived in Toledo (the Glass City) for just my four years of high school, I like to say I grew up there. This sad rust-belt city was the backdrop to my time in high school.

It hit me as I pulled into my mom’s driveway in the swamp that I was quite literally living the American Dream: it was the second semester of my senior year at a wicked expensive, high-class, swanky, private high school in the Midwest—the heartland of America—I was playing Varsity baseball, I was dating a beautiful, blonde cheerleader, my brother (also a Varsity baseball star) was my best friend, my mom was the principal of the school, I had million friends, I had my own car, I got into my number one school of choice: Emerson College, and I was going to be off to Hollywood in no time at all! I was THE MAN!

And then I was about to get out of the car and follow my brother into the house when I realized that all of this was garbage. It was the American Fever Dream—it was a nightmare. I hated it. I hated all my friends. I hated my school. I hated my parents. I hated my brother (and he hated me). I hated my beautiful blonde cheerleader girlfriend (and she hated me). I hated baseball. I hated my car. I hated myself and I hated this fraudulent life I had out of nowhere ended up living. This wasn’t me and this wasn’t my life. I never wanted any of this. And I started crying. I just shut down the engine and sat in my car with the door open and the keys still in the ignition making that awful beeping noise to remind you to take your keys out of the car before slamming the door shut and walking away in a rage. I just sat there and cried. I kept saying over and over to myself the same thing I’d been saying since my parents got divorced: what the hell happened? Nothing made sense. Everything hurt. All I could do was ask that question, “what the hell happened?” knowing there wasn’t going to be an answer coming anytime soon. I got hysterical and I said to myself, “I’m not Heathcliff—this isn’t Wuthering Heights—I’m Don Quixote! I’m Don Quixote!” and when I realized I was Don Quixote, living a fantasy life as a fraud with my shitty, fat, unwilling sidekick brother as my Sancho Panza, my girlfriend who hated me and who I hated back was my make-believe love Aldonza Lorenzo, I was living in a wasteland just like La Mancha, and my shitty car was just like Don Quixote’s back-broken, shitty horse, Rocinante. I had spent four wretched years punching at shadows and fighting with windmills, living in my own private fantasy world. Reality struck. It struck hard and fast out of nowhere in the driveway. But I only had to endure a few more months of this nightmare before I could escape it and start college in Boston. I collected myself and told myself I could make it through just a couple more months. I was wrong.

This was just the first of several successive complete nervous breakdowns. From there, it was nothing but one meltdown after another. I didn’t do anything about these episodes. Every morning when I woke up, I’d cry over having to decide what to wear to school. It wasn’t about anything other than having to wake up and make a decision. I couldn’t handle it. Sometimes, I’d just wake up crying—I’d literally wake up in the middle of sobbing like I would be crying in a dream and I’d wake up to find myself crying in real life. And I stupidly kept going. I just limped through the days counting down to my departure to Emerson where I hoped to find solace. Day one, I walked into Emerson emotionally crippled. Two years later, I was wheel-chaired out and into an ambulance headed straight for rehab. Everything that happened in between, to put it into one sentence, was the most fun that I never want to have again.

I was discharged from McLean Hospital in Arlington, MA on October 21st 2013. It was the best 5½ days I’ve ever had in my life. If I wasn’t happy then, I never will be. The Short Term Unit at McLean was the only place I could go to get a chance to start over. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and (specifically) severe Alcohol Dependence. Until then, I had spent almost every single day drinking for what was probably a little over two full years. I was a fucking disaster. I had burned every possible bridge at Emerson. My world was in a perpetual state of chaos characterized by violence, drug and alcohol abuse, petty “crime”, and every form of social deviance. I came to a point where I figured that since the world around me was spinning out of control, there’s no use in trying to approach it sober. I decided that if my world was going to be on fire then the only way to put it out was with cheap vodka. It was this disturbed line of thinking that ultimately led to my self-inflicted demise.

Before they let me out of the hospital, I needed to come up with a plan for what I would do with myself upon my discharge. I needed to let the doctors and staff know where I would go, where I’d find a therapist and a psychiatrist and what my long term plans were so I’d have something to work toward. I had three options: go back to Emerson, go live in DC with my dad and transfer to University of Maryland, or go live with my mom in Dover and transfer to the University of New Hampshire. I chose to live with my mom and work toward enrolling in UNH and finishing my undergraduate degree. At the time, the only reason I chose that option was because I had spent the previous summer in Dover and all my stuff was at my mom’s place so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad and UNH seemed nice enough to me. I walked out of McLean nice and sober with bright hopes for the future. This was good—but it wasn’t good enough.

My first priority was getting a fucking grip. My last drink was September 10th 2013 in an Irish soccer bar in Dorchester, MA called, “The Banshee.” I went absolutely nuts in The Banshee. The USA was playing Mexico in for a spot in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and I spent two full hours shouting at the top of my lungs sucking down Guinness after Guinness like it was Coca-Cola. I had only just turned 20-years-old but two years straight years of constant drinking, Camel Blue 99 cigarettes, daily victory cigars, chewing tobacco (a foul habit I picked up on the baseball fields of Ohio), and doing bad things to good people took a toll on my face and body and I looked like a divorced, scum-bag, 35-year-old absentee father. My freshman year, I once told a teacher I was late because, “my kid was sick” as a joke and she believed me. I was only 18 at the time.

I had tried in vain to quit drinking at that point a few times before and every time I tried to quit I managed to screw up monumentally. Each screw up became exponentially worse than the last. I once ended up walking out of an H&M in a $500 suit I didn’t pay for under my coat and sweatpants and did a Superman-phonebooth-move and tossed my trashy clothes on the street and went to a party in a penthouse in the Ritz Carlton. It was election night and I proceeded to mix a bunch of Benzedrine (speed) with Nyquil (the kids these days call that “sizzurp”) and drank 3 bottles of champagne and went home with friend of mine who was an Icelandic Horseback Riding journalist whose boyfriend was a 36-year-old international fugitive hiding out in Iceland wanted for statutory rape. On our way back to her house, I made her buy me peanut M&Ms and condoms. During Mitt Romney’s concession speech, with the glow of the TV the only light on in the otherwise uninterrupted darkness of her Backbay apartment she told me she loved me. I promptly pretended to be sick, scrambled around furiously in the dark to put my stolen suit back on, and ran as fast as I could in my Italian leather Beatle Boots back to the emotional safety of my dorm at Emerson. It wasn’t until I was deep in the Boston Garden that I realized I had left behind my favorite pair of boxers—ironically the only thing other than my Beatle Boots that I hadn’t stolen that day. We never spoke again and I never got my boxers back. This was just another catastrophic stab at quitting drinking. But even at times like that, at 4AM running around the empty streets of Boston commando in a stolen suit, even though I realized I had a problem, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

So it was at the Banshee I had my last drink. It was almost a full year after my Election Night romp. I thought that by comparison, this belligerent night at the bar watching soccer was progress. But a month later, I was hospitalized for attempted suicide.

Now that I’ve been sober for 15 months I feel great but when I first got out of the hospital and got real help for my alcohol abuse and mental illness and got professional help, I was scared and alone. It was psychologically difficult to accept that I had not only an alcohol abuse problem but also that I was mentally ill. It was also hard to accept that in order to stop using drugs and drinking, I was going to have to start taking medication. I was terrified of going on medication for depression and anxiety because I didn’t know what it was going to do to me. I always had alcohol to help deal with my depression and anxiety and in my warped thinking, I thought I needed to drink to deal with these issues. That was why I failed so many times before when I had tried to quit drinking. Within two months of sobriety, my depression got unbearable. The world was too disturbing and sad and my future was too bleak to come to terms with sober. I knew I had to take a year off from school because I needed to practice being sober and get a grip. College was the absolute worst place to try to sober up. So rather than go back into the storm, I decided to sit in seclusion and get better so I could come to UNH the next fall in good shape. I knew it’d be hard, but to make a boring and awful story short, it was the worst ten months of my life sobering up and waiting to start over again.

Flash forward to June 25th 2014 in Murkland with Mr. Wood. I had gained 75lbs. after coming out of McLean. I was in appalling physical condition on top of being an emotional and mental train wreck. I had been accepted into the UNH Acting Program but none of it felt real. My grasp on reality was non-existent. The world seemed much more real to me when I was drinking. Sober, everything seemed way too grim and empty to be real. I didn’t want to accept it. Subconsciously, I think I chose to take ballet because it made going to UNH seem real to me. It gave me a real sense of a future. Ballet gave me something to look forward to. I went home that day with my schedule in my hand and I knew that the first day September 2nd at 8:40AM I was going to be starting off my second chance en pointe in Ballet class.

I took an expo-marker and wrote down on the mirror in my bedroom the number of days until my first Ballet class. For me, I didn’t count down the days til I got to UNH, I counted down the days to ballet. I finally had a real goal. I had to get in shape. I was going to learn how to dance or die trying.

I went to the gym at the school my mom worked at; she’s the principal of Berwick Academy in South Berwick. I spent probably four hours a day running in the gym on the treadmill and the elliptical and then I’d go outside to the basketball court and work on my shot. I suck at basketball but I made myself play basketball for about 2 hours a day in the sun because I wanted to get not just physical exercise but mental exercise as well. Basketball was always frustrating to me because my brother and my dad were always taller than me—both are 6’5” and was only 5’11”—so they always destroyed me when we played and I never thought it was fun. I purposefully practiced my shot because I wanted to simulate what it would be like trying something new physically that was frustrating and that was mechanics and discipline based like ballet. It’s mentally demanding to keep practicing something you’re atrocious at especially on your own but I kept at it in anticipation of being frustrated by ballet. I also wanted to work on my coordination and focus on self-discipline where attention to mechanics were concerned. I also knew that I needed to lose a lot of weight as quickly as I possible because my feet and knees were killing me with all the weight I’d put on since coming out of the hospital.

It was an ugly and brutal regime but I reveled in it. All summer I thought about what that first day in ballet class would be like. I wanted to be in peak physical condition. I wanted to be able to learn fast and not be frustrated by the challenge of learning something new. I stuck with it and lost 75lbs. in almost no time at all. My basketball game got really good too. The Athletic Director even took notice and said I was the hardest working man on campus. That’s the first time anybody’s said that about me and meant it. I got back in shape and I got my confidence back. I was on medications that worked and got me to “normal” and I was making progress in therapy. I finally felt ready for my new start. For the first time in forever, I was sober and I was motivated. I felt I was ready for any new challenge.

A week or so before the first day of school, my mom took me to see BILLY ELLIOT at the Ogunquit Playhouse. It blew me away. I desperately wanted to dance like that kid on stage. The kid who played Billy was insanely talented to point where all I could think was, “damn, I hope he doesn’t turn into another one of those child-star tragedies.” It was a good omen. My new adventure was going to be nothing but a success. My head, for the first time in forever, was screwed on straight.

I knew nothing about Ballet before this class. My only previous interaction with the art was limited to Kanye West’s 2010 music video for his song, “Runaway,” which is beautiful. Kanye’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which the single “Runaway” was on, came with a poster of a ballerina from the music video. I’ve always put that ballerina poster up in every room I’ve lived in over the last four years. I’ve moved six times into six different bedrooms in the last four years but every time I moved into a new room I made sure to pin up that poster. I never had a real reason other than that I loved the song and the music video and I thought it was a beautiful image. Some things take time to reveal their deeper meanings. If you hang on to them long enough, eventually, what these things symbolize becomes clear and more powerful than you could have imagined.

I never consciously realized that ballet had always been there for me. Subconsciously, it was always there, secretly acting as the connecting thread that strung together this series of tragedies and triumphs in my life. There it was, hanging on my wall. Or written on my mirror in expo-marker. On the treadmill counting my progress in miles. I didn’t realize any of this until I saw Anna Pavlova’s “Dying Swan.” I cried. I had been trying for so long to push away all these feelings because I couldn’t handle them. I had spent a full year trying to erase from my memory all those horrible years of good, bad, and ugly. But when I saw Pavlova, it all came back. I couldn’t hold it back anymore and I just let it consume me. I couldn’t remember the last time I cried. I hadn’t cried in so long that every time I’d felt tears coming on it just all of the sudden stopped all together; before that moment crying had felt just as strange as the sensation of a sneeze coming on and then just disappearing. Frustrating and physically uncomfortable. But I finally could cry again.

The music touched me from the moment the first note was played. And then when Pavlova danced I felt as though all my senses were shut off and I were watching with my heart. I felt my heart again. I hadn’t felt it in years at that point. My whole body froze and the music and dance consumed me as if I was actually there watching her. I can’t describe that first experience watching her. It was like a dream. It was surreal. I had to watch the video over and over again to truly understand that Anna Pavlova was a real person and that she was really dancing. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine a song being that beautiful. I couldn’t imagine a human being moving the way she did.

I didn’t know exactly why it touched my heart that way at the time. Now, thinking about it for the first time since seeing “Dying Swan,” I know exactly why it brought me to tears of true joy: it was real. It was all real. I had struggled for so long trying to get a grip on reality. I had spent so much time feeling like I was living in a dream world. I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. In my darkest moments, everything was a nightmare. And when the drugs were working, it was hard to accept the banality of life and my own pathetic existence. The two poles between which I careened disenchanted, frightened, and alone were at one end a nightmare world of infinite terrors, and at the opposite end a world of the cold and harsh reality that was defined by frustrating and debilitating internal and external limitations. And everything in between was nothing more than the second hand of the clock’s ticking echo; a cruel reminder of being condemned to mortality and the inevitability of death from which the only freedom was the choice put an end to this miserable existence on your own terms and on your own time. “Dying Swan” destroyed my depression. Anna Pavlova freed me from this bleakness that I had tried so hard for so long to free myself from and yet had time and time again failed. Anna Pavlova’s “Dying Swan” reminded me how beautiful life truly is and how magical life can truly be.

You can say it to yourself over and over and over and never believe it until you feel it, “it is a pleasure and a privilege to be alive.” I’ve had to tell myself that so many times but it is difficult to feel that it is true. Anna Pavlova made me believe in life again but it wasn’t just her, it was all of Ballet that reminded my why I’m still here. There are so many lovely things to experience in this world just waiting to be discovered. For me, Ballet has been a beautiful discovery.

Since this class began back in September, I have finally felt that I have both my feet firmly on the ground and my head screwed on straight. I no longer wake up crying or wondering whether the world around me is real or not or if I am still dreaming. It’s been a good and successful semester and I am proud of myself and genuinely I feel happiness. It hasn’t all been easy though. There have been many moments of self-doubt and time spent wondering, “what in the HELL am I doing here??” I came here to prove to myself that I could still live without alcohol. I needed to prove to myself that I could feel like myself and be myself without alcohol because when I quit drinking, I felt like a part of me was gone and I could never get it back. I wondered if I would ever be able to act again or even pursue a career in the arts. But through the small moments of self-doubt and feeling out of place, Ballet has been the axis around which I revolve. Ballet has been my constant this semester.

I’ve found, since getting out of the hospital a year ago, that the best way to figure out who you are is to completely step out of your own element. Early on when I quit drinking, I ended up dabbling in Evangelical Baptism and boy oh boy was I out of my element—“out of my element” doesn’t even describe TEDESTEN’s dinking around in the ol’ Evangelicalism; it was more like stepping into the completely wrong habitat or biosphere. Like a drunk-ass, belligerent gorilla crashing a funeral, it went about as poorly as any idiotic and half-hearted stab at reformation can go—sadly, however, it was not my worst effort. But where other efforts have failed, this has been a success. By taking ballet, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and find myself.

In Ballet, I’ve felt like myself—which is rare. Ballet’s forced me to take an emotional inventory of what I’ve got going on upstairs in my head. I know I’m not very good at ballet yet but I really have come to love dancing and I know I’m getting better every time I step into the studio. I like that feeling. I like knowing that every time I dance, I’m better than I was the last time. It’s also marked a lot of progress for me. At the beginning of the year I thought, “wow, there is NO WAY I could do this drinking.” But now, I think to myself, “wow, I actually don’t need to drink to do this.”

It wasn’t until taking Ballet I that I realized I could anything on my own without drinking. In Ballet I, I realized that not only did I not need to drink to be engaged in the arts but also that drinking would be to my detriment. This class reminded me that I was a creative person who could do anything they wanted to. This class made me finally realize that I didn’t need to drink to be creative. I didn’t need to drink to have feelings. I didn’t need to drink to just go about my day and stave off depression and anxiety. I’ve stayed sober and I finally feel good about that.

I want to stick with Ballet and I want to get good at it. This class has been a gift and Ballet is something I will continue to pursue. Susan, I can’t thank you enough for helping me start from nothing in this class and also giving me the amazing opportunity to be in “Don Quixote.” It’s painfully funny that life has come full circle. Four years later, after my Don Quixote-themed Midwest Meltdown, here I am in the ballet “Don Quixote.” But this time, I’m not the Maniac of La Mancha—I’m a toreador! That’s progress.

I can’t thank you enough, Susan. I hope that my gratitude and appreciation have come through at least in some way in this deranged account of my life. The pleasure has been all mine.


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