Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dreamers & Storytellers

When you were 18, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?

My adult life began with a video camera. I received it as a gift when I graduated from high school. It was something I really, really wanted. After 18 years of quietly watching the people around me, I wanted to tell their stories, and mine too. I wanted to make films.

I also wanted to study marine biology, continue making art, be a mom and deliver babies at home as a midwife. As one of my friends has pointed out, I wanted to be over-worked and exhausted... but I'm ambitious.

Unfortunately, I was "ambitious" but lost. I've been watching the raw footage I collected that first year with my video camera. I went to the local city college and joined the theater there, spent a lot of time just hanging out with my friends drinking too much coffee and really didn't think about much beyond the moment in front of me. But, I managed to capture many moments that happened in front of me within a youth subculture in the mid 90s. That's kind of fun to think about, you know?

The main stars of my videos tended to be my girlfriend (Tracy), my best friends (Jonathan & Janise), and the rest of the "Tower Rats" (not this kind), a bunch of misfit youth who spent their days drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes in Fresno's artsy Tower District, who I spent all of my free time with. They were artists, musicians, poets and amazing people who were just as lost as me, give or take a bit, but talented and underappreciated all around. I loved them.

Fast forward 17 years to now. Almost divorced with two kids and an undiagnosed disability that is slowly testing my sanity, I am still ambitious. I have a full homestead that includes 11 animals in the middle of urban Oakland's Fruitvale district. I am working on my doula certification, looking into grad school for a degree in art therapy, raising two very different high maintenance kids, testing the waters as a writer through this blog experiment, working as a self-employed seamstress, knitting like crazy and offering lessons and then I pick up these tapes again and start watching them... I start setting up the means to finally edit them and upload them to the internet... and I am reconnecting to a lot of those people again (thanks Facebook)... and I remember why I wanted to make films.

It's kind of like "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie".

So, what do you do if your dreams require cloning yourself in order to achieve them?

What do you dream about? Are you living your dream? If not, why not? You may never get another chance than right now.


  1. I never could make up my mind. I vaguely remember sitting in a first grade classroom on the verge of tears because we were supposed to be writing about that and I kept thinking things like "If I decide to be an astronaut I can't be an archaeologist".

    See, this is how fear of commitment is born.

    I really want to see that footage. Except I really don't want to see teenage me. I mean, I find myself embarrassing enough now, seeing how I was then might just kill me from sheer mortification!

  2. Aww... Give your teenage self a break. You were cute and naive with a dramatic flair that I found charming.

    I definitely get that place where fear of commitment is born. "If I choose this, I lose that..." But the ideal, in my opinion, is to get past that fear of choice. Today I choose this, tomorrow I choose that, maybe next Wednesday I will choose both. Grab it before you're gone.

    Sometimes I think my problem back then was fear of losing one of my options while I was stuck in the deciding. So I would blindly leap without enough thought. Then, feeling another option slipping away, I would blindly leap again... and again... and again... Leaving unfinished projects, confused hearts and a very bad track record in my wake.

    From where I stand, I see you as a writer. I may be just getting to know you again, Jonathan, but I saw it back then too. You're made of awesome. Conquer the fears, don't get lost in the finity of choice, and wear your awesomeness. Find the place of infinity and then write about it.

    I'm looking forward to showing you the footage. We can laugh and be embarrassed together. Some of the shots of 18-year-old me give me jolts of mortification too.

  3. Looking back I remember early on realizing that we were considered to be 'poor' and deciding to become a lawyer. Before this (I know this because my mother kept my school wishlist hjournal goal page) I wanted to be a millionaire by 25 or so. I missed that mark by a bit. By the time I was in junior high school I was interested in becoming a lawyer and then after a big consciousness shift and becoming a third grade teachers assistant I decided I wanted to become a teacher or a counselor to help people who had social problems like I had growing up and also because I love working with children. I also at this point in my life chose happiness as my primary value.
    I still maintain this investment in living a full life and maintaining joy and appreciation for what I have, even the challenges and difficulties (as much as possible).

    Now, as far as some long term or medium term goal for my future... I have some vague ideas and feel as lost in many ways as I always have. I have always been somewhat of a gypsy traveller who LOVES engaging new communities and learning about people in theior ome environments and from them personally as much as possible.

    I find people to be amazing and always surprising and often meeting new people helps me to keep my life and the world in perspective. Its very easy for me to, if I am not engaged with a community of people, live in conceptions of the world and lost the subtler aspects of living day to day and the challenges and stresses and the realities beyond the theories and practices.

    I also recognize the value and truth to the practices and theories and stories and mythologies and love being a thread ion other peoples stories, A thread that adds some colro and hopefully does not mar the beauty already there.

    I appreciate reading what you write here because I see myself here in this in terms of how I am and have been prone to also move between worlds and relationships awkwardly and I think that often times I have bowed to inhibition and aprehension rather than risking living in new ways and exposing myself to new experiences that perhaps could have been really rewarding.

    Thanks for the food for thought.