February 28, 2013

A Perfect Life

"Dear God, please give Denise and her family more money so they can have a perfect life like we have." - P. Overlander


Heart melting.

Perspective granted.

Remember Rolf and Leisl chirping back and forth about being 16 going on 17 in The Sound of Music? My oldest is 7 going on 17.  She speaks of a boyfriend.  She demands a cell phone.  She begs to wear makeup.

This little girl, anxious as she is to grow up, has always had a heart of gold.  From her delicate way of prefacing criticism with: "I don't want to hurt your feelings, Dad, but..." to "I don't want to hurt other dads' feelings, but you're the best dad ever," she has me wrapped ridiculously tightly around every one of her fingers.

Yet she still floors me from time to time.  Like the night she said her table grace and threw in the above request.

Denise is a little girl from the Philippines that we sponsor through Compassion International.  She's been a remote part of our family for a few years now, sending notes and drawings regularly, occupying our prayers daily.  I've heard my girl pray for her many times.

It's impossible to know the exact image of Denise's family my daughter holds in her heart, but it's clear she understands that Denise's isn't a life of prosperity.

But how can my little girl think ours is a perfect life?  Doesn't she know that most months our bills are greater than our income?  Doesn't she know her dad is lustful of a bigger home, a lake home, a California home?  Doesn't our worn, stained carpet torment her like it does me?  What about our toilet than runs unless we lift the tank lid and wiggle the doohicky connected to the thingamajig?  And don't get me started on our yard.  And kitchen.  And my wardrobe.

Lest I paint myself a materialistic covetous whiner, please know I appreciate my blessings of which there are many.  Too many to count.

But I dwell too often on the have-nots in my life.  We all do.  Except my little 7-year-old.  She has it right.  In this instance, the student has outclassed the teacher by a mile.

My desire to be a professional actor and writer and director and producer is still there and always will be, but if life is already perfect, what more could a career in those fields add?  New carpet?  New shoes?  A steak dinner?

I want to close this entry with a pious spiritual claim that if nothing were to change in my career path I would be content in this already perfect life.  But I can't.  Doggone it, I can't.

Eventually my 7-year-old will tot's be 17 like for realz.  Is that how 17-year-olds talk?  Um probs not.  Anyway, she'll have a new perspective on this 'perfect' life.  Hopefully she's able to find a middle ground between the perfect life she perceived at 7 and whatever melodramatic malady she's burdened with at 17.

At any rate, if the life we live today is perceived as perfect by my 7-year-old, it brings sunshine to my periodic pessimistic pity parties.  And that's close enough to perfect for me.

February 16, 2013

Cereal Suicide

"A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds."- Sir Francis Bacon

The morning was an anomaly.  We had five boxes of cereal open at the same time.  Not a practice I promote since cereals go stale readily in our house.

Enter my 3-year-old.  He's cute as can be - after he's had time to wake up.  But in those first minutes of the new day, he's John McEnroe down 40-love.

If I want my head bitten off, I simply need to offer him suggestions for breakfast.  You see, whatever he chooses to break the fast of night has to be his choice.  My jumping the gun can send him into a ten minute thrashing I'm certain registers on the Richter scale.

With the five cereal choices beckoning from our pantry, he decided he wanted all of them.  Mixed together.  He met my attempt to persuade him otherwise with a look that would send even Napoleon retreating.

Remember soda suicides where you'd mix a bunch of carbonated sugar water together?  This particularly fizzy morning, my son had a cereal suicide.

Corn Flakes.  Raisin Bran.  Grape Nuts.  Quaker Oatmeal Squares.  Froot Loops (actually, it was Tootie Frooties or something like that).  With milk.

Mmm.  What a combination.

And he ate it all.  Afterward, the monster had shed his horns and the angel with the blue eyes emerged.

In many ways I feel like I'm in the middle of a - forgive the analogy - project suicide.  I can't settle on just one attack, so - predictable analogy warning - I'm holding many irons in my fire.

Such is the way of the creative mind.  I need to have Corn Flakes ready if Corn Flakes are the breakfast of choice for the Movieland Monster.  But I need to keep Grape Nuts nearby on the chance that the Tinsel Town Titan craves tasteless crunchy nuggets.  And I'd sure be in trouble if the Hollywood Hooligan demanded Froot Loops but I didn't have any Super Frootie Tootie Circle Wheel Donut Puffs.

If analogy overkill is ever demanded, I'll be a Total success, raking in the Chex.

It's been more than a year since I raised money through Kickstarter to support my efforts to produce my Christian screenplay, Away.  When I launched the campaign, I had hoped I'd be shooting the movie by the summer of 2013, but that isn't going to happen.  Momentum is building finally as the screenplay was a semi-finalist in the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays and was nominated for Best On-Screen Chemistry by the Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition.  If nothing else, I now have validation that it's a quality screenplay.  If that translates to selling the script or securing $1 million investment, we'll be Golden Grahams.  Sorry.  That one snuck out.

On television and movie sets there's an oft spoken phrase: "Hurry up and wait."  The phrase carries weight in every stage of development.  If there wasn't so much down time between contest entries, producer and agent responses, financier leads, and talent courtship, I could find contentment focusing solely on Away.  But I have to keep busy through the down times, too.

So I produced a micro-budget feature that is wrapping in a few days.  I'm developing a television pilot.  I'm putting together a presentation based on Matthew 22:34-40.  I'm helping produce a hunting show.  I'm considering producing a documentary on homelessness.  I go to auditions and act in other projects as opportunity presents itself.  I'm cast in two feature-length movies to be shot within the next several months.  I'm raising my kids.  I'm listening to my wife.  I'm bathing when I can.

Granted, my talk of projects on my pallet carries a little less weight than, say, JJ Abrams or Steven Spielberg's to-do list.  I'm closer to the street-corner derelict with my unsolicited phone calls to industry connections who likely consider changing their numbers each time I harass them.

Still, I wouldn't slow down if I could.  I won't back down even if I should.  We only get one chance to live this life.

This Cinnamon Life.