INSPIRATION EXPRESS: This Blog Comes To You From A Cross Country Train Ride

Holy balls. Holy fat, sweaty, icky, stinky, stinky, stinky balls…

I was on a train for 3 days. I spent all 3 days wide awake… my total sleep count for all three days was 9 hours. I’m awesome. What’s more awesome is that the trip was spent productively doing a few things… First and most importantly, courageously battling my fear of public bathrooms, because when you’re on a train for 3 days straight options are VERY limited… you must poop where others have pooped… It ain’t pretty. Real talk. (picture proof)

The file name for this photo is "pooptrain." That says it all.

The file name for this photo is “pooptrain.” That says it all.


Secondly, I shared this adventure with a fellow (M)oron, great friend, and frequent collaborator, Mr. Alex Brightman, and we used the trip as a writers’ retreat. Our musical “MAKE ME BAD” has gotten a gorgeous overhaul and we’ve also written a first draft to a sitcom pilot. WE are awesome. The trip wasn’t just for us to be writing and/or filling an Amtrak train with our large amount of totally neat-o farts, but it was to get us somewhere… We traveled cross country from NYC to CA to teach a Masterclass on performance for a theater company in San Jose! (It’s at this moment I’d like to thank CMT in San Jose for having us teach your wonderfully talented group of kids). In the past, I’ve done plenty of travel in order to get to where I’m teaching a Masterclass… nothing like this, however. Train travel is unlike anything else. Train people are like NO ONE else.

Train people are a very specific breed. On the first night, I was wide awake and high fiving Mr. Brightman because we’d had such a productive first writing day. It became that hour suddenly. That haunting hour happens every night on the train.  The night train people come out. Night train people are even stranger than train people. We met a girl who was 19, missing a few teeth, and had a very friendly, “howdyado?” kind of attitude. Some of the most interesting things about train people are their stories as to why they are on the train in the first place. This 19 year old version of “aimless” was spilling her story to us. Here is the short version of her journey towards AWESOME DECISION MAKING: She was 19. Just broke up with her drug addicted boyfriend in Chicago to move to Colorado in order to live with her new boyfriend who she’d known for a mere month (mostly via a pen pal relationship) and he is 44 years old. She’s moving to Denver not only to live with her new man BUT also to help him find a job. Seems he’s having trouble because he is a felon who is fresh out of the clink. A 19 year old who’s story was so amazing to me, and it was after all this that she told us that she too was essentially un-hirable and the way she could afford a train ticket was because she sold jeans… Let me make this clearer… she sold OLD pairs of her ICKY jeans… BUT SHE HAD DRAWN STARS ONTO THEM, you know, to give them some pizazz. Hmmmm… I should give my little sisters a call to check in and make sure that they are happy and staying in school and not trying to afford a train ticket to move in with their much older felon boyfriend by selling their own pants that they’d ruined with drawings of stars, or moons, or clovers, or red balloons. HASHTAG LUCKY CHARMS REFERENCE!!! Boom. Tragic life stories lead to a children’s cereal reference… I am awesome. Who wants to make out? ONWARD!

On my second sleepless night I met someone whose last sentence to me was “I’m 14 and my mom loves crack.” That was her response to me saying “You take trains often?” And once she gave me that over-share of a response I said, “You should probably go to bed.” Off she went. It was a short conversation but still, I’d never met a talking goat who can tap dance before…………… okay I may have hallucinated that part. I really needed sleep.

Every day and every night, amidst the writing that we were doing, it was a perfect bombardment of hearing and even witnessing the strange and different stories from each passenger on the train.

Most of our time spent on the train was spent in what is called the “viewing car”… It is exactly what it sounds like. A car that is dedicated to looking out a big windowed area to notice just how flat most of America is and also, at the same time, how stunning it truly is. I’m thankful for this trip not only because of the writing I was able to accomplish with my collaborative, idiot friend (sup, Alex?), but because I’ve never seen our country like this before. Since sleeping wasn’t happening, I was able to see the sunrise 3 mornings in a row. Each morning was absolutely different. It was beautiful. It was therapeutic. I’ve never been so in touch with my own thoughts, my own ideas, and whatever it is that drives me to succeed in this god forsaken business. It was the perfect adventure to have right before teaching a masterclass to a bunch of great talent with great hunger for the art. Why do we thrive? Why do I write and perform? Why do certain shows and characters and songs move us? Story. If you want some good stories, take a train. Meet some people. Listen to their stories. If they ain’t talking… you can read their story just by looking at them. What a trip it was! Although… I will say, that by the end of your trip your balls will be ripe. You also learn to appreciate a great shower. Okay, that’s all. Till next time. DREW OUT!

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