LOS ANGELES - I am a person of the theater. I love theater, I make my living from theater, and I find fulfillment in theaters - on both sides of the footlights. Theater is my life. Fittingly, the year 2005 was book-ended by theater trips. It began with a trip to snowy New York in January and it ended with a trip to the West End of London in December. Every night and every matinee afternoon, I lived in theaters.

The past year will be forever defined for me by a single theater experience - my eight-month gallop with the East West Players as psychiatrist Martin Dysart in Peter Shaffer's modern classic, "Equus." The role was challenging, the drama was powerful theater, the director was terrific, and the company of actors gathered for this production was uniformly gifted. "Equus" was a profoundly fulfilling creative experience.

To be sure, the year was filled with many memorable experiences. Without doubt, the most talked-about event in my life in 2005 was my "coming out" interview in Frontiers newsmagazine that was covered by news media outlets worldwide.

I shared some of my thoughts about this in my November 2005 blog, and my partner Brad Altman and I will continue to speak out for gay and lesbian equality in 2006 and beyond.

My autobiography, "To the Stars," was published in Japanese translation in 2005. The promotional book tour for it took me through Japan from Tokyo to the ancient capital of Kyoto to the historic city of Hiroshima. Seizing the opportunity, we also took in the World Expo at Aichi. I served as a panelist at a U.S.-Japan Symposium in Tokyo sponsored by the Japan Foundation in conjunction with the Japanese American National Museum. From my service on the Independent Task Force on Television Measurement, which included travels to many of the nation's major cities, I learned a great deal about the dynamically changing demographics of this nation's diverse viewing audience and the many technologies being developed by Nielsen Research to accurately measure its viewing habits. There were trips to Honolulu and Lakeland, Florida, to narrate symphonic concerts - a musical performance arena that seems to be developing for me. Of course, there were Star Trek conventions with fans, now of many decades, gathered to share old memories and new experiences.

I even did a cameo performance as, of all people, General Douglas MacArthur, in a traveling musical from Japan in its southern California run. All the songs, dances, and dialogues were in Japanese - except for those of General MacArthur. His role, very authentically - and conveniently for me - was in English.

My deepest gratification and greatest commitment, however, was to "Equus." From April, when Tim Dang, the artistic director of East West Players, offered me the lead role of Dr. Martin Dysart, until December 4, when the play closed, "Equus" became my all-consuming dedication. I ate, slept, and lived Martin Dysart.

I had first seen the play in a provincial theater in Leicester, England, back in the 70's and I was blown away by it. The drama of a psychiatrist's struggle with a demented youth who had blinded six horses with a hoof pick was, at once, awful and compelling. Muscular men wearing hoof-like lifts and sculptural horse heads played the horses. The metaphors were powerfully theatrical. It was theater in all its elemental and electrifying force. "Equus" was a play that I could not forget. It haunted me long after I saw it.

A few years later, I saw the same play on Broadway in New York with Tony Perkins, and again, in Los Angeles with Anthony Hopkins. Then I saw the film version starring my idol, Richard Burton, who had played the role on Broadway right after Hopkins. Friend and Star Trek colleague, Leonard Nimoy, had followed Burton into that part on Broadway. The role had impressive pedigrees. There were huge shoes to fill. Now I had that opportunity. I was cast to play the psychiatrist, Martin Dysart.

The first challenge was the memorization involved. Dysart is a talker. There were a lot of words with the role - six long monologues, many extended scenes and Dysart is on stage from start to finish. He is a conflicted man who verbalizes on his anguish eloquently and extensively. I began work on the script from the day I accepted the role. I ran lines daily with Brad. No matter where we were in the world - in New York, in Tokyo, in Waikiki, or in Bison Ridge, Arizona - we ran lines. So much so that I joked that he knew the lines so well that he could be my understudy - if he only he could act!

Then, there is the very complex character of Martin Dysart - an accomplished professional but lacking in personal initiative, charming and witty but uneasy with deep relationships, eloquent but emotionally inarticulate, brilliant but profoundly envious of his patient, the demented boy. Dysart is a psychiatrist struggling with many demons.

Rehearsals began on October 20. We gathered in a huge warehouse in the industrial district of downtown Los Angeles. I knew some of the actors from past works; others I was meeting for the first time. First on the agenda was the table read. We felt the thrill and excitement of hearing the words being spoken by actors for the first time. Some of the actors already had a good handle on their roles. It was promising. We had only four weeks before we would be performing before our first preview audience.

The rehearsal process can be the most engaging, most trying, most frustrating, and ultimately the most gratifying part of the process. The director, Tim Dang, challenged us with probing questions. He made us explore areas of our characters we had failed to see. I love this part of the process. It is like sculpting a character with your imagination, your voice, and your body. I would come home exhausted but feeling great. We actors have to love what we are blessed to be able to do. That love, hard work, dedication, and, of course, talented artists delivered a production of "Equus" of which I am proud to have been a part.

East West Players' production of "Equus" opened on October 26 to glowing reviews. Daily Variety called it, "Striking and highly erotic." The Los Angeles Times deemed it, "A compelling revival gripping power." "Equus" was listed as the L.A. Times' Critic's Choice for our entire run. Our production became the fifth highest grossing box office success in the East West Players' forty-year history.

I was blessed to have worked with so many talented actors. Trieu Tran, who played the demented boy driven by his passion to commit the horrific act of blinding horses, is an impressive talent. Jeanne Sakata, the magistrate who is also Dysart's friend and confidant, delivered a nuanced and moving performance. Cheryl Tsai grew throughout rehearsals to create a charming and poignant character as the boy's girlfriend. Alberto Isaac and Dian Kobayashi, as the boy's dysfunctional parents, were at once touching and chilling. And, the six muscular young men who became the very theatrical embodiment of the horses were magnificently equine.

One of the gratifying aspects of the run was the many friends and fans that came from near and far to see me in "Equus." Star Trek fans that have become friends over the years traveled, not only from other states, but also across oceans to see me in the play. Ena Glogowska crossed the Atlantic from Staffordshire, England, and Sachie Kubo and Shingo Mizuno came across the Pacific from Japan to see me. I was so touched to have my Star Trek colleagues come to see my Martin Dysart. The night Nichelle Nichols came, I knew in advance that she was in the house because, when I stepped into my dressing room, an enormous bouquet of flowers from her greeted me. Leonard Nimoy, who had played Dysart on Broadway to great acclaim, came backstage with his wife Susan Bay Nimoy after the performance and embraced me with a hearty congratulatory hug. I asked him, "Well, how'd I do?" Always the gracious diplomat, Leonard smilingly said to me, "You were better." How can you not love a guy with that kind of graceful wit?

When I was cast in April, I thought the October opening of "Equus" seemed so far off. But, opening night galloped up on us before we knew it and soon closing night was approaching. The ride on that horse dashed through the year with amazing energy and speed. The year 2005 is now past. Time is such a precious and fleeting commodity. But, it was spent productively last year. I will always remember 2005 fondly as my year of the horse.

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Now that college has become a standard requirement for so many jobs and careers, there is a massive push by high schools to get their graduating students accepted and enrolled at an undergraduate college.

On the whole, that's undoubtedly a great thing. A more educated workforce will be prepared to solve the most complex issues facing human beings in the next several decades.

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Image by Gianni Crestani from Pixabay

*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.

The person on the other end of a 911 call has a truly remarkable job.

For those who don't play that professional role, we hope to never encounter the 911 call interaction. But if we do find ourselves making that call, the moment is an anomaly in our lives.

The chaos, the panic, the racing heart, and the desperation are all emotions we, ideally, don't experience on a regular basis.

But for the operator on the other end, our call is one in a long line of calls they've received all day, and all the workdays before that one.

It's difficult to imagine being embedded in those uniquely urgent, emergency moments all the time.

Some Redditors who are on the other end of that call shared their experiences on the job.

WhimsicalxxButcher asked, "911 dispatchers what has been your most creepy/unnerving call?"

For a few, the most unnerving moments were the calm callers.

There was something just so eerie about how level-headed the faceless human being on the other end could be through such a desperate, tragic moment.

Almost Clinical 

"I had a friend who worked as a 911 dispatcher and he always said the worst call he ever had was a ~20 year old kid who committed suicide by mixing a bunch of chemicals together in his car to produce hydrogen sulfide gas."

"He said that the most unnerving part was hearing him calmly listing off the chemicals, the type of gas produced, and the effects of hydrogen sulfide on the body (namely the almost instant death it causes at high concentrations)."

"He ended the call by providing the address of the parking lot he was in and saying that nobody should approach the vehicle without hazmat equipment."

"Apparently after that there was a whooshing sound as he dumped the last chemical into the mix, and then the line went dead silent aside for a quiet fizzing noise."

"I know that call screwed him up because he almost never talks about stuff that happens to him on the job. He quit a few months later to go into construction management, and frankly I can't blame him."

-- iunoyou

Planned Out 

"A woman called me, saying she was going to kill herself. She was gassing herself. Gave me her name & address then said she was just going to lie down and 'go to sleep.' And stopped responding to me."

"I kept the line open, trying to get her to speak to me, and eventually heard officers forcing their way in to find her body. I guess she just wanted someone to find her body."

-- mozgw4

Before It Set In 

"When I got a call from a 6 year old who got home from school and laid down to take a nap with his dad. His dad never woke up."

"The kid was so calm when calling it broke my heart."

"I ended up leaving dispatch shortly after. I was good at compartmentalizing the job for the year I was doing it, but it would've broken me in the long run."

-- tasha7712

Other 911 operators were unfortunate enough to receive a call from the very last person they wanted to hear from: a loved one.

These dispatchers' unique position gave them the unexpected access to a family member or friend at their most dire moments.

No More of That 

"My family member is a long time first responder, and 'retired' into doing dispatch. He heard the address (someone else was taking the call) and realized it was his daughter's house."

"He rushed over there just in time to see them wheeling her body out. Overdose."

"Five months later, he was called to his ex-wife's place because his grandson (son of the daughter who recently passed) had his door locked, lights on, but wasn't responding to his grandma."

"He broke the door down and found him deceased in bed. Overdose."

"He's very stoic after years of all sorts of traumatic situations but my heart hurts whenever I think of what all of this must have felt like. Like sand through your fingers."

-- bitchyhouseplant

Knowing the Address

"Not me, but my grandma. I was sitting in the dispatch office, (very small one only 2 dispatchers including my grandma) but she put out a dispatch that there was a gun shot from my best friends address."

"My heart sank to my stomach and broke later that day. He committed suicide."

-- OntaiSenpuu

When it Happened 

"My uncle passing away. Worked as a small town dispatcher for a year or so. Had a bunch of messed up stuff happen on shift, but this call came in in the still hours of the night. Small town, so not many calls after midnight."

"I answered and recognized the name and address on caller id. Aunt was in a frenzy so didn't recognize my voice. I remained calm and got ems and fire rolling to them, but by my aunt's own words he was already blue."

"I went thru debriefing and mandated therapy for a couple other things that happened, but never really talked to anyone about this. I just try not to think about it."

"That was the call I figured out I needed to find a different job."

-- dangitjon

Finally, some simply had a front row seat to sudden tragedy.

These operators were flies on the wall when disaster struck. They never asked to witness what they witnessed, but sometimes that came with the territory.

A Holiday Tragedy 

"My mom is a 911 dispatcher. Early on she said one Christmas Eve while working she got a call from an elderly lady who's husband had just collapsed(and died) from a heart attack and in the background Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas music was playing on blast."

"The lady was screaming and crying and begging for her husband to wake up but my mom could hear his gurgling in his last breathes. She doesn't listen to or watch Alvin and the chipmunks since."

-- Blueflowerbluehair

What is it About Christmas?

"Christmas night. 911 call with crying child on the other end. A neighbor had run her car over her mom during a domestic."

"The mom crawled to the porch bleeding and the child saw the car coming back. I had her hide quietly in a closet with the cordless phone."

"The 10 year old child was crying and screamed that she hated Christmas. She was afraid of the police when they got there."

"I kept her on the phone until she felt safe enough to give the phone to an officer. I almost fainted after that call was over. Had nightmares for a while."

-- 2FunBoofer

Close to Home 

"Not a dispatcher but I handle radio communications for the Coast Guard. One night I was on the radio and got a call from an 11 year old kid whose boat had started to sink. He was out with his dad and 6 year old brother."

"They had been hit by another boat and his father got knocked unconscious. I remember the entire conversation up until the radio had gone underwater."

"They ended up finding his dad floating on his back alive but the two boys didn't make it. That one really fu**ed with me because my two littlest brothers were around the same age as the youngest."

-- HIRSH2243

A Horrible Clock 

"Another one that stays with me was the man who called in. It was the anniversary of his adult son having hanged himself. He'd now come home to find his wife had done the same."

"That date is always going to be a black day for him."

-- mozgw4

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

Again, we hope you never have to use the 911 call in your life. Nobody wants to be involved in a sudden emergency or a tragic incident.

But hopefully, if you do, an operator like one of these thoughtful, sensitive Redditors is on the other end.

Image by Nguyen Dinh Lich from Pixabay

When I was moving on from middle school to high school my parents had me tested for the "gifted" program. By some miracle I passed and was accepted. And then I turned it down. Everyone was irritated. "This will pave the way for any college you want! You'll learn so much!" his path will set you up for life!" Every adult tried valiantly to sell me this merchandise but in my gut I just wasn't buying it. So I "settled" a level below, merely advanced classes. And upon reflection... it was the best choice I ever made.

Redditor u/dauntlessdaisy was wondering how far some in life got by asking... For those of you who were considered "gifted" in school, what are you doing with your life now?
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Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay

There's a million things that can happen to you while out on on the road.

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