After a great deal of introspection on a three mile walk tonight, I came home and wrote the following email to my immediate family, my grandparents, and my aunts and uncles.

Dear Family:

I have pissed away the past year of my life.

That's about the only way I know how to begin this email, because that thought is what led me to turn a hard introspective gaze on myself, and led to the thoughts that I am going to share with you in this email.

Back in October, the weekend of Grandma and Grandpa W----'s 50th Wedding Anniversary, I quit my job. Just up and quit. No reason can be offered, no explanation. I quit. This will come as a shock to most of you, because as far as you know -- and I let you all believe it, and even lied to some of you to keep you believeing it -- I still am working at Science City. But I'm not. I don't have a job at all. And I have not had one since then.

What I told myself was that I could just live off of my savings account for a month or two, and then get another job; my heart just wasn't in work. And then I let a month or two become a few months ... and a few months became several months. I kept telling myself, "I'll get a job soon enough, I deserve to take time off after all the time I put into school." And now I find myself broke -- looking for a job, and hopefully soon to have one, but broke nonetheless.

I have always dreamt big: even in the seminary, I had dreams of being a bishop, even cardinal. Once the acting dream really took hold, I had dreams of being lauded for my work on stage, in film, on television. And so I dreamt my dreams ... and lived my life in a world of fantasy. I did not ground myself in reality. The little day to day things -- and in this I would included a regular old boring job -- I ignored, preferring instead to dream. And I became a lazy person because of it.

I am also a liar -- Dad, you already know this, and have even called me on it. Most often, it's been about my financial situation, and things related, including a job. And each time Dad called me to task for it, I was contrite and seriously thought to do better. But I guess there was a safety net there of some sort, or perhaps it was my dreaming and laziness, and I never did do better. I have lied to family members: "Yes, I have a job. And it's going well. And I enjoy it." And on and on and on. I smiled and I lied.

I feel like I have somehow let down dad and, yes, mom. After mom passed away, I heard some of you talk of seeing her as an example for the raising of your own children. And by God, both mom and dad were excellent parents: they encouraged us to be hard-working, solid, respectable people. They modelled excellent values to us. And now, here I am: a broke, unemployed, lazy dreamer. Society would tend to say, where did the parents go wrong? But mom and dad didn't go wrong; in fact, I'd say they were spot on. So then the question is begged: where did I go wrong? How did I end up a unrealistic, ungrounded dreamer?

When I was in grade school, I was always the gawky, geeky, loser of an outsider. And so to deal with that, I created a fantasy world in my own mind for me to escape to, a world in which I was cool, hip, popular. This eventually developed into my love for acting: "I can play these various characters who aren't me, who I can escape into, and I don't have to be myself when I am them." And this fantasy life developed: soon, in my own mind, as the acting dream grew, I was being interviewed on talk shows; I was winning numerous awards; I had piles and loads of cash. And so I became an unrealistic, ungrounded dreamer.

In a way, I've always felt a bit like an outsider in both the W---- and M------ families. This is not to say I've felt unloved; quite the contrary. But into these families of pragmatic, hard-working, straight-forward, no-nonsense people I was born: a dreamer, an unrealist, an artist. When I look at so many of you, I ask myself, how come I am a part of these families? I don't really belong.

I feel like one of the characters in Stephen Sondheim's musical "Follies." Ben sings a bright, upbeat song-and-dance number, a smile plastered on his face, the lights bright, the costumes glorious, the music lush -- but underneath, he's in a downward spiral. And try as he might, he's unable to keep it buried: slowly it creeps up into the song, which becomes discordant, and he forgets where he's at in the song. The past year of my life, I've been Ben, gamely going through the motions, smiling and apparently happy, while deep down, it was all slowly going down the drain. And now it's burst forth onto the surface.

I guess you could say I've hit a sort of rock bottom; very little seems right in my life these days. And for the most part, I've only myself to blame for that. But it's something that has, in a way, been building for many years, though I certainly never suspected it.

Let me assure you all that I am in no way contemplating suicide, though the harsh self-accusatory tone of this email might suggest otherwise. I needed to take this long hard look in the emotional and mental mirror, and having seen what I have seen, I know that I need to change, to grow, to become new.

This is not to say that I will no longer be a dreamer; I don't think that could ever change, and I don't want it to change. I still want to have a life in the arts. But I realize now, more than ever, that I while my head may be in the clouds, my feet must be firmly on the earth. I'm not going to achieve any of my dreams by sitting back and not doing anything, even if it means having a "bland" job to have a source of income.

Lest you wonder, there is one definite bright spot in my life right now -- my boyfriend. I realize that for some of you, this is my "coming out," and I suppose doing it via email is a bit detached, but I so rarely think about my sexuality as being a "topic" for discussion any more. I realize, too, that some of you may be put off by this, upset by this, in some way negatively affected by this. But this is part of who I am, and it's something I am comfortable with and have accepted, and I hope that all of you can be and do the same.

Anyway, his name is also Jason. We are a lot alike in many ways, in terms of interests, but we are also different in many ways, in terms of our views of the world and of life. But we complement one another, and we are happy with one another. His having come into my life has brought me a sense of peace and security, and has, in a way, also been a catalyst for taking this long hard look at myself; I need to know and admit who I am, who I really and truly am deep down inside, down where things have been buried, if I am going to be in a positive, healthy relationship.

So why have I written this email to all of you? I guess that I felt a need to make a "confession" to you all, to present the real me to you, warts and all. As I said above, I have never felt unloved, and I write this email to let you all know that I am at a dark place in my life right now, and that if you all know of it, and will love and support me as I get through it, then the getting through it will be more bearable.

Dad has often said that you judge a person by what they do, not what they say. I've talked a good talk to him before about how I mean to do better, and then never did. And once again, I am saying to him, and I am saying to you all, that I mean to do better. Words, words, words right now, I realize -- give me time, and I will back them up with deeds, deeds, deeds.

All my love,