~A Dream Bigger Than Me ~

Photo by Ade Santora on flickr
Photo by Ade Santora on flickr

It’s funny how life and timing play out when it comes to your dreams. Take me for instance, I wanted to be a ballerina and tell stories through the fluidity of my movements, without the need of words, to convey meaning with my body, however, we didn’t have the money growing up, so I choreographed my own. I wanted to be a Broadway star and tell stories through the infliction of my vocal cords, the expression of my voice and pantomime of motions, but again, we didn’t have the money to further this aspiration, so I learned through others, tempered my voice and tone to match who I was listening to to teach me pitch and tone and control. I would whisper before I would belt to learn the note inside and out before I attempted to be its master. I played greats in my bedroom, basement, and before a plethora of friends, family and stuffed animals. I even wrote my own at the tender age of tween, “Love Sucks”, about a disenchanted young woman, cynical to the over-commercialization of romantic love. Then dabbled in with an adaptation called “Sorta Gypsy” about a female director putting on her first production of Gypsy, integrating the songs in a new way well adding so of my own original pieces. Then a murder mystery – as yet titled – where a lesbian couple works to free their wrongfully accused friend of murdering his newly wed wife.

Yet the stage would have to wait, for quite unexpectedly a new love entered my life, and all because I was being a good older sister and keeping my brother company while he cleaned his room. As it turned out he had a discarded comic book that had come with an action figure. That action figure just so happened to be Gambit. That comic – X-Men.

I would say the rest is history, but as I am still alive and breathing I guess I’d better keep up the type and tell, after all we have yet to hit the main characters struggle to triumph arch.

Well, it’s safe to say that I fell in love. Comic Books became my thing. They seemed to marry everything that I had ever been interested in! Fighting (Thank you Hercules and Xena) Powers (Sailor Moon and Power Rangers) adults ( I never liked ready about children or kids my own age, never!) and real life. I always loved the intricate detailed nuances of interpersonal relationships and the psychology behind interactions/reactions the the multitude of ways the same situation can turn out depending on the people/persons involved (that’s why story telling never gets old even with the same ideas repeating themselves!).

Me and my brother would play like we were part of the team, running around battling, creating new characters and powers ( I never liked being another character, I always wanted to be a part of, so I tended to always make up a new character/background). The more I read the more this game started to take on a life of its own. It wasn’t just one off battles that were played in the back yard. This was a daily episode, story line, continuity, that continued its sequential events where it left off.

I was obsessed with X-men starting from the beginning and working my way chronologically through, that is until I ran out of materials. This was before Marvel was a household name and slow-cooker – you think I kidding?

SLowcooker

So I tried out different series runs, Extreme, Series 3, Ultimate – oh how I hated ultimate! Turning them all into petulant children. When it came to Ultimate X-men vs the Ultimates…well I was rooting for the made-over Avengers. Especially when Magneto had Captain America pinned against the wall by his own shield and Cap didn’t break eye contact telling Magneto how he was going to fail. DAMN!

Long story somewhat shortened I began reading Avengers, but not just Avengers, Captain America and Iron Man as well. I began collecting these titles scoring big on so many fronts (I own almost the complete runs of each!), and as my collections grew so too did my own world’s sequence of events.

I almost couldn’t believe that I was that good at it, I had always though of myself as an idea person. That I didn’t have it in me to see the details of story telling through. I thought I would make a better producer then a writer. HA! so young…but then I read Avengers Disassembles and my opinion changed.

Nothing about that graphic novel felt right to me. The characters, the motivation, the sequence of events. I thought it was just because I hadn’t gotten that far in the original series, in the lead up to this devastation, but I had to cut myself so credit. I know good writing – by this point I had read enough to know. It just didn’t sit right. I could do it better…me, but I’ve never been one just to bitch or brag. I had to put my money where my mouth was.

This was no longer a game I was playing with my siblings, this was a series all on its own. Especially after I was betrayed by some friends, left like I was nothing and this world was throw away. I’m a passionate person, so don’t dick with me and what it is I am passionate about. I destroyed that world as a duel story line. Recreating it in an alternate dimension that reshaped the my characters (a whole teams worth or original characters) and the way they interacted with/in Marvel’s own established universe.

I was older (an official teenager) and my work reflected my growth. It was grittier and more grown-up in its approach. I began to write down these stories as they happened. Mind you I never really went into it with any established idea or story board of what or how something was going to happen. I allowed the events to play out according to each character. It was a free flow of improv and imagination. It was their “real life” unfolding according to their interactions/reactions and how they define what happens next. I might have an idea, but was constantly being surprised by its ability to evolve and grow from there.

Well in between this I was dabbling in script writing, thinking that an X-men television series would be kickass! (Again this was riiight before the Marvel Studios, superhero movement). I established where this continuity would pick up, wrote a pilot (two parter) and then three episodes after that.

These worlds were my life line, for as they grew m,y outer world shrank. My parents were in a precariously devastating place in their marriage, my older brother was lashing out, my sister was shutting down, we continued to move all around without any roots or extended family to remind us where or who we came from, and I got sick.

It’s hard enough being a teenager, but you add your own body breaking down around you to puberty and you have a recipe for disaster.

My worlds became my escape. They became a refuge and a reliable consistency that I didn’t have anywhere else in my life. My characters were my family and their stories my home.

When I was seventeen I challenges myself to write outside of my comfort zone, just to see if TBM (the being method, the method of acting out your stories before story boarding or pen touched paper to get a better inside feel for character and worlds, atmosphere and situation) would work outside my sequential action series. I decide on a drama screenplay. Now known as Homecoming, set in 1960’s America, a young couple faces the challenges and changes of war and what it means to come back to a life you never had a fair chance to live.

Without proper editing (I was so go-go-go, again the precious invincibility of youth) it placed second round at the Austin Film Festival – my letter even had a handwritten note from the competitions director about how realistic my characters and descriptions were. I’m actually good at this.

It was an incredible high…

Too bad life was the low.

I bottomed out. Chronic illness and the depression that often goes hand in hand with it took over. I had been fighting it for over seven long years. Fighting writer’s block, physical parallelization, emotional fallout, separation, abandonment, perpetual loneliness, and the lack of any kind of direction or stability in my personal or familial life. I was an island. I was a child. I was lost.

If only we could know then what we know now…I never would have given in or given up all that I had fought so long to preserve.

But I did. I walked away.

No one came after me. No one seemed to notice or miss me. No one…but me. It took some time to realize that that was really all who mattered. Hadn’t time showed me that I was meant to be?

I may have known a lot of set backs in my time – I mean it is a bit demoralizing to finally send your portfolio into Marvel’s open submissions platform a week or so before they announce they’re closing it and all current submissions will be disposed of unread, oh yeah and Marvel Studios is a thing and Iron Man the movie will be coming out! Can anyone say bad timing! Those kinds of ironies kept seeming to happen every time I would put myself out there. I could never quite be on the curve I was always just ahead or just behind. Even my age/birth seemed to lend itself to the too soon too late paradox.

Nevertheless, I was being shown by something outside of myself and far bigger than conventional standards or timing. I had to get over the plans I had pout into place from the age of thirteen on. I had to let go of the should be, could be, would be’s. I had to get over myself and the wounds I inflicted on myself because of others own lashing out.

It was probably – all tallied up – about three years I went completely MIA from my creative lifstyle. A nomad complete, emotionally, physically, mentally, a recluse. I had no identity and no direction. I had deleted, stopped, packed up, and turned my back on every outlet I had ever had. I was the fallout of Chernobyl proportions. Until I sat down and I forced myself to face it.

Face the fact that it wasn’t going to be like riding a bike. I wasn’t going to jump back in and be who I was. I would never be that girl again, the one I had idealized in my memory. I couldn’t go back there. It was going to be uncomfortable, frustrating, and lacking. Something once like breathing was going to be hard and forced. It was going to feel unnatural. I was going to constantly be trying to compare myself, my place, my career, everything to someone else, but I had to stay the course. I had to face front and get back to reestablishing me.

Yes I felt scattered and undisciplined, going from one subject, one format, one project to the next. Stabbing in the dark and seeing what blade stuck in where. It sucked, I wont sugarcoat it. Even my taste in music (MUSIC!), what makes my world/s go round, suffered. I was grounded in nothing, foundation devastated by trying to be conventional, forcing myself to be acceptable, and noticeable. I was disgusted with myself but I had to be the first to embrace her, to forgive her, and give her the recognition for still being here after walking through hell, to still be standing despite my intellectualized want to recoil into the fetal position. To still being capable, or at least open to being capable again. To still showing up for me, the me I still believed I could be.

Well something stuck, and here I am, one the second edit of the first installment of a completed trilogy. A whole new world and set of characters. After I said I could never write a book or be an author.

what a difference time makes when your willing to see it through, not on your terms, but for the love of what it creates when you let go of definition and surrender to its illusive synchronicity’s intention.

 

 

 

 

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