My Imaginary Life

When I walk around campus with my headphones in and my music blaring, I wonder if anyone notices that I’m walking in time to the music. I like to think that they don’t. But then I like to think that if they did, they would all know exactly what I was listening to and start flashmobbing all over campus so it looks like an expertly choreographed dance scene. Then I imagine a tracking shot that follows me listening to the music and singing along and seeing these crazy people dancing to my beat. Then I get to a main drag with lots of space and I stop walking, throw my backpack off to the side, and I lead everyone in a reenactment of the best dance moves from Michael Jackson.

Thriller

“HAAAAAAAAAAY!”

When I walk to and from the restroom at work, I pretend that I’m Tony Stark flying around in my Iron Man suit. Or maybe I pretend the floor mats in the break room are colossal edifices and I use my superhuman agility to jump the huge distances between them. I absolutely play air instruments and under-the-desk drums. Sometimes when I’m driving in the car, I’ll construct menacing conversations in which I am both the protagonist and antagonist. Or I’ll put on some bumpin’ tunes and imagine I’m in a high-octane chase. I think about what I would want to say to various famous people if ever we met. Then I think of what would actually come out of my mouth in that scenario. I almost constantly have in my mind’s eye an idea of where the cameras would be if my life were a movie. I still play with the GI Joes I keep in an old shoebox. I let my hand parkour off of desks, chairs, walls, handrails, and generally anything it comes in contact with (I try to keep it away from people, don’t worry).

Thing

I’m a weirdo.

I would describe myself as having an active imagination. Sometimes I think that makes me immature, but then I realize that being immature and being child-like are two different things. My last post was about how much I had changed and the success I’ve had this year, and it’s resulted in me feeling more adult. I worry about keeping my child-like qualities as this progresses. But then I think about how Joely’s going to be born soon, and how I’m going to a) have a sense of wonder about her, and b) I’ll get to see things with the same wonder she’ll have as she experiences them for the first time.

Childlike wonder

I really need to find a way to meld these two areas. Get some discipline into my imagination and some imagination into my discipline.

Delicious creative discipline.

Delicious creative discipline.

On a lighter note, I just have this week of school to get through, then we go to Indiana for our baby shower! (We’re registered at Babies R Us and Target, if anyone’s feeling generous.) That’s right! One week of school including one test, a couple of rehearsal days, a discussion paper, and an academic advising session, and then Spring Break! I don’t have to work this upcoming weekend, either. It’s going to be a lovely vacation.

Sleep

What crazy stuff do you do when you think nobody’s watching?

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Tasty Success

Last year, my wife and I found out we were pregnant after struggling with infertility for roughly three years. In my experience, that kind of news tends to bring the best out in people.

One of my first accomplishments since learning I would be a father was to quit smoking. That had become such an ingrained part of my life, I wasn’t sure I would be able to quit. I never wanted to be a smoker. There are people in my life that may not know I ever was a smoker. I certainly never wanted to be a father who was a smoker. I’m happy to announce that I was able to quit cold turkey, and haven’t had a cigarette since Halloween.

surgeon_general_warning_b

Whether quitting smoking seems like a small thing or a big thing to you, I believe it’s meant all the difference to the direction my life has taken since then. It was, has been, and sometimes continues to be a practice of self-discipline. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. A sense that I can do things that are hard. A sense that I have control of myself.

I had intended to go back to school for the Fall 2012 semester. I didn’t get things taken care of in time to ensure financial aid, and once again, my academic career was put on hold. I decided that wouldn’t happen again. I got readmitted for the Spring 2013 semester, completed all the necessary paperwork for aid, met with an advisor, got a schedule put together, and am currently enjoying full-time student status. Since school started, the lowest grade I’ve received has been an 85. This is another goal I never would have believed I would achieve even two years ago.

This is all while continuing full-time employment at the same job I’ve had for almost five years. That’s cost me in the sleep department, but I look at it as practice for when the kid arrives.

cryingbaby

My health has improved since I’ve been taking medication for high blood pressure. I’ve been drinking primarily water (and lots of it), and since my university is situated with a giant hill in the middle of it, I’ve been getting lots of built-in exercise just by going to my first class at the top of the hill, my second class at the bottom of the hill and on the side of campus, and back up to my third class at the top of the hill (and on the third floor).

How I feel walking into class.

How I feel walking into class.

I haven’t missed a single class, though. And I’ve known when all my assignments were due, and when tests were coming up. I’m not ducking my teachers like a guy who owes his bookie. These may seems like no-brainers to you, but to me, this is like deciphering the hieroglyphs of How to Not Suck at College.

I’ve also kept up with my writing on here (except for last week, but we don’t talk about that). So far, I’ve done very well with my goals this year. I think part of that was actually making goals this year. I’m in school doing something I love, I’m providing for my family, and I’m the healthiest I’ve been in a decade.

This 2013 model Colin really is the must-own version.

Writers Reading Readers’ Writing

Writing is gonna come up a lot. After all, the reason I started this blog was to get myself writing regularly. This is the first stretch of time since <saves draft, checks posting history> May of last year that I’ve posted with any semblance of regularity, and I’m giving myself credit for that. Allowing yourself to be proud of your accomplishments is just as integral to personal growth as realizing what your weaknesses are.

Nailed it.

Nailed it.

Lately, I’ve felt like one of my opportunities for growth lies in reading more. I’m a writer, and I want people to read and like the things I’ve written. I’m a terrible reader. I know in our day and age, the reader has largely been replaced by the viewer, and if that’s the case, I’m an excellent modern-day reader.

If I haven't seen it, it's new to me.

If I haven’t seen it, it’s new to me.

I’ve been frequenting our local library, and I find I’m too ambitious when picking out books. There are books I know I should read (or should have read by this point in my life), so I get about five or six of them, start reading two and finish none. If I wrote out a list of books I’ve never read, I’m sure some of you would shake your head at me. So I’m going to do just that. Because I hate myself. (Keep in mind these are books I haven’t read)

  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Call of the Wild
  • Brave New World
  • Slaughterhouse-Five
  • 1984
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Atlas Shrugged
  • War and Peace
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Don Quixote
  • The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Animal Farm
  • Moby Dick
  • Watership Down
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Paradise Lost
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • The Red Badge of Courage

I’m surprised I made it through LOST.

That list is only 25 (more, considering the Tolkien) of the books I haven’t read. I’m sure there are literal volumes of books, stories, essays, and documents one might consider essential reading on which I have never laid eyes. I’m sure if I wrote out a list of must-see movies or must-hear albums I’ve never consumed, the reaction would be much the same. But as Mark Twain said, “A classic is something everybody wants to have read, but no one wants to read.”

MarkTwain

“Yes sir, I have read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.”

There’s a shelf at my workplace full of what management decided would be helpful reference/resource books. I work in IT, so they’re mostly to do with networking, programming, or software. They’re books that employees may have gotten from college courses, acquired for themselves, or have left over from software purchases. Among them is a Literature for Composition book. The first chapter is entitled “The Writer as Reader.” It begins with an excerpt of an interview with author Toni Morrison.

Interviewer: Did you know as a child you wanted to be a writer?

Toni Morrison: No. I wanted to be a reader.

The chapter continues by stating that “learning to write is in large measure learning to read.” The heading on the book’s back cover reads, “Inspiring great writing through studying great writers.”

There’s a whole book saying that to be a writer, you have to be a reader first.

FreewaySign

– The Universe

I used to watch movies with the attitude (probably more like the excuse) that I was studying for my future career. I should be reading like that now. I may not want to write novels or poetry, but just like it takes seeing many good movies to know the good from the bad, it takes reading many books to know the difference between good and bad writing. Subsequently, understanding what makes writing good will help you write well.

Fortunately, I’m taking a Literature course this semester as part of the prereqs for my film degree. That will help me read in an analytical way. It will help introduce me to new material, authors, and writing styles. I also have 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library and 100 Books to Read Before You Die (not counting overlapping entries, this list cuts off at 85) that will give me a list of books to read from to expand my literary horizons.

"Here you'll see the required reading for Wednesday."

“Here you’ll see the required reading for Wednesday.”

There are plenty of lists to tell me what to read. Knowing what to read is not the problem. Knowing I ought to read is not the problem. Just like I know I should exercise every day. Or I ought to take the garbage out when it’s full. The point is, there is a massive difference between knowing what needs to be done and actually doing it. Actually doing it requires effort. A failure won through fervent effort is easily vanquished; a failure won through laziness or apathy is neither forgotten nor overcome.

"Listen to us on this, Lydia. This is something we know a lot about."

“Listen to us on this, Lydia. This is something we know a lot about.”

It’s not enough to know. I have to do. Read. Write. Put in the work.

I think I’m ready to do that for the first time in my life.

Just look at me, posting a blog for <saves draft, checks posting history> three weeks in a row.

The Cape and the Cowl

Batman has always existed.

I know that Bob Kane created The Bat-Man in 1939, and that his first appearance was in Detective Comics #27 in May of the same year. I know that there was a world that existed before Batman was created.

But I can’t remember life without Batman.

I don’t remember learning Batman was Bruce Wayne. I don’t remember learning about the fateful night of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murder. I don’t remember learning about the Batcave, the Batmobile, or the infamous Rogues Gallery.

I just know.

There are works that have defined Batman. Shaped who and what Batman is. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. Jeph Loeb’s Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and Hush. Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. A Death in the Family. Batman: The Animated Series.

In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne realizes he can’t fight injustice as a man:

People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed, but as a symbol… As a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.

Batman is a symbol. He is legend. He is modern myth. A god in the pop culture pantheon.

With the power of myth comes the ability to have different incarnations, live different lives, have completely different universes surrounding you. DC does a fairly good job of keeping their continuity in line with the Infinite Crisis arcs. It’s basically a giant bookend that closes the door on what has been so it can open the door to what will be.

I watched the 60s Batman. I watched Super Friends. I watched Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. I watched the animated series. I watched the animated movies. I even watched Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.

"Never leave the cave without it."

That’s right. This…

Holy Dancing Robin, Batman!

…and this…

They were defenseless against Mr. Freeze.

…and these.

So much for an incorruptible symbol.

Batman never lets me down, and I’m able to embrace the character with all the flaws that have been heaped upon him through the years. Most recently, Christopher Nolan took the helm of the film franchise and revived it amazingly. Batman fans can once again hold their heads high and say they’re proud of their hero.

"You've changed things."

If for no other reason than this scene.

We all need heroes, someone to save us, despite our protests. We need people and ideals we can look up to, that can help us be better than we are. Even if these people and ideals are flawed, it’s important to have them. The day you stop trying to make yourself better is the day you start to become worse.

That’s one thing about Batman from which we can all learn. He is never satisfied with where he is or how good things have gotten. He strives to a higher standard,  and always pushes himself further.

"Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now."

“Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.”

Be the version of you that the world deserves.

Be the version of you that YOU deserve.

(20)13 is a Lucky Number, Right?

It’s Two Thousand Thirteen.

"That's 2-0-1-3."

“That’s 2-0-1-3.”

A new year, with new challenges and new opportunities. I’m proud to say that I’m going back to school to get a bachelor’s degree in Film. While it’s not far off from my Theatre major, I’ve always loved making movies and I’m excited at the prospect of becoming more technically proficient at it. I feel different about school in general, too. I don’t feel like I’m squaring off against an adversary, but rather like I’m meeting an old friend. I’m sure there will be times that are harder than others, but I’m looking forward to classes, and I feel like I want to be there, which is honestly not a feeling I’ve ever had about college.

So yes, 2013 is a new year, with new outlooks, new opportunities, and… newborns.

That’s right, everyone. I’m going to be a father.

Whoa. Just reading that made me gleeful, terrified, anticipatory, stressed, excited, worried, teary, “and a little gassy.”

"Aaannnnngaaaannnnnngaaangggg!"

“Aaannnnngaaaannnnnngaaangggg!”

Seriously. The wife and I just talked about how we’re officially in the third trimester. Our little bundle of awesome mini-us is due in late April, and her name is Joely Jane. I’ve seen pictures of the kid, and I must say, she’s pretty cute.

"It's Shake-n-Bake, and I helped!"

“It’s Shake-n-Bake*, and I helped!”

Now all I need is a shotgun, and I’ll be set. Well, not exactly. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but when you learn you’re going to be a parent, there’s a shift that occurs that lets you see the world in a way that’s different from any view you’ve had before. It replenishes the wonder. You start looking at everything with this strange mix of professor/bodyguard mentalities.

“That’s so fascinating!”

“That’s SO dangerous.”

“I want to look closer.”

“Do you want to DIE?”

Like that.

Really, I just can’t wait to meet this little girl. Hold her in my arms, kiss her sweet face, smell that heavenly fresh-baked smell. She’s going to rule my world with a chubby fist. She’s got throngs of family and friends who are eagerly anticipating her arrival as well. Everyone we’ve talked to about the kid is so excited for us, which is awesome. It’s multifaceted, I’m sure. Everyone loves a baby, everyone loves someone pregnant, and everyone loves an underdog.

For a long time, Aubrey and I weren’t sure we were ever going to get to be parents. We tried for three years to conceive, with no luck. It was heart-wrenching and exhausting. We had seen doctors at our local women’s health office, and they referred us to a reproductive endocrinologist last summer. After a few months with little progress, we looked at each other and really accepted the possibility that we might never have kids. We decided that it wouldn’t be the end of the world. We loved each other, we had a great life, a great marriage, and we could make our future whatever we wanted. After three years of suffocating under infertility’s weight, we were finally breathing again.

That’s when we got the wind knocked out of us by a positive pregnancy test.

PositivePTest

“Good thing you just peed.”

The amazing thing we thought would never happen to us happened! We had no choice but to laugh and shake our heads about the timing. Of course we would get pregnant right after we decided we would be fine without kids. When we announced the pregnancy, the outpouring of love, encouragement, and congratulations was overwhelming. Most of the people in our lives knew this was something we were dealing with, so their investment in our struggle only added to their payoff from our victory over it.

We’ve been excited for all the ultrasound appointments we’ve had, getting to see our little girl move around, suck her thumb, and even look straight “into the camera.” I’ve loved that Aubrey’s bump has been growing more and more noticeable. I rub it, talk to it, sing to it, read to it. I know my little girl is just below the surface, listening to me and kicking her mom in the guts when she gets excited. (Sorry, honey.)

All at once I feel like April can’t come soon enough, and like there’s not enough time in the world between now and then. So much to do to get ready for this kid. Our baby shower (that’s right, OUR baby shower; it’s coed and we’re both really stoked for it) isn’t until March, which is good because we haven’t finished registering yet, and bad because we won’t know what we have and what we still need until about six weeks before Joely hits the scene.

"Welcome home, sweetie!"

“Welcome home, sweetie!”

I’m not really worried about it, but it would be nice for Aubrey to have something to nest with during her nesting phase. What I am worried about is the crazy rush to get everything home, take stock and buy whatever’s missing, and put it all together before the Eagle has landed; not to mention that this will all be between Spring Break and Finals.

“Worrying is like a rocking chair.”
“It give you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
“Write that down.”

This year will be rife with opportunities for personal growth. One of those will be to personally shrink a little. I know, it’s a cliché goal, especially at the onset of a new year. But I have medical reasons for it, and I think it can only help me to be more active with Joely once she becomes mobile. I have goals to write a blog post every week, write more in general, read more, cook, create something with my hands… It’s an impressive list. That was important to me when compiling my list of goals for this year. I want to shoot for a lot of big things, so that even if I fall short, I can look back at the year and say, “I did some cool stuff.”

I was watching the show Dinner for Five, and in one episode, someone says, “Whatever you do, you do better when you have kids.” That was very inspiring to me. I want to do what I do better because I’ll have a little one looking up to me.

I don’t want to disappoint her.

2013.

That’s a lucky number, right?

TotallyJason

NextIssue copy

Entropy

Well, I haven’t written in a while.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… Gosh, a lot’s been happening lately.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been in a creative way. I seem to get stuck in this loop of getting ideas and breaking them down before I start any real work on them. I thought I had fixed that a while ago when I decided to write some screenplays based on stories I was already familiar with (comic books, games, even other movies), just to get the rhythm and process practiced. But I haven’t even done that.

I’ve been watching lots of movies and TV shows, which I used to pretend was studying, but now I’m pretty sure is just mindless consumption. There’s no analysis or deconstruction, it’s purely entertainment.

“INPUT!!”

That might be because a lot of my TV/movie viewing is done while I’m at work, which means I’m watching them by myself. I’m neither currently in any kind of class that requires me to analyze the material, nor do I have a fellow audience member with which I can launch a discussion about the themes, styles, or messages behind what I’m watching. That being the case, it’s easy to identify things that catch my attention, and just as easy to let those slip from my mind.

More and more, I find myself challenged to form an idea that I feel strongly about, let alone strongly enough to develop it into a cohesive story. When I do have ideas that I get excited about, this happens:

Now, I don’t have a General Disarray, nor was it actually the Simpsons who did it. This is just the tiny explosion that happens in my brain when I realize one of my ideas is too similar to something else.

There are some old sayings that are good to keep in mind during times like these:

  • There is nothing new under the sun.
  • The way you tell a story makes the story different.
  • I’m Henry the Eighth, I am. Henry the Eighth I am, I am.
  • Second verse, same as the first.

Heh.

But no amount of Patrick Swayze references are able to quell this defeating feeling of “You just came up with an idea that’s already in existence! Feel good about that all day.”

But I’ve got to get past that. To progress, I’ll do what I mentioned before, and instead of creating new ideas, write stories about things I already know. That way I’ll know someone else has already done it, and I can focus on the process of writing. Once that’s down, then I can stress over writing something more original.

Until next time, true believer!* Keep your sword sharp, and your wit sharper!**

*Not an original phrase. ** Also not an original phrase.

Creative Juices; aka – “Where the beer flows like wine.”

Hello again!

First of all, let me apologize for my delinquency in the last month. In another universe, there are four or five more blog posts that I actually wrote that I’m sure would have tickled your fancies. I don’t plan to repeat this neglect in the future.

Or you can eat my shorts, man.

Anyway, I’ve been busy in the past month. It was my 30th birthday, so my wife wanted to take me on a big trip that we would always remember. It was one for the books. We got an awesome rental car, which really helps to set that “vacation” vibe. We visited both of our families, and I got to spend a day at Kings Island with a dear, bearded friend of mine.

We had a portrait made.

I smell an heirloom.

Then the wife and I trekked up to Sandusky, Ohio to spend a few secluded days at The Great Wolf Lodge.

It. Was. Amazing.

Pictured: Seclusion.

Seriously, it was awesome. On the left, you’ll see our own personal hot tub. What you won’t see is the huge water park they have down the hall from our room. That was right next to the arcade. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

While we were there, we spent a day at Cedar Point. Well, half a day really. We got rained out.

“Nah, let’s stay. It’s starting to clear up.”

Needless to say, we’re hoping to make a return visit in the future. Long story short, I had a whopper of a 30th birthday, and it’s all thanks to my awesome wife. Aubrey, when you read this, I love you more and more every day.

Since we’ve been back, exciting things have happened.

I got busy making new iTunes art for the movies I’ve made, or been a part of making, because I get tired of having to look at the titles to see what it is. I’m an At-A-Glance kind of guy. So I made three posters (links to the videos included):

  1. Fistful of Bullets (a western)
  2. Die Aria (a horror flick)
  3. Textual Healing (a musical)

If you haven’t seen them, go ahead and do that. The whole pack won’t take you more than about 20 minutes (I make no considerations for your connection speed or buffering), and they’re really cool movies (I am biased).

The posters:

This is where the creative juices have been going lately. I’m just a big enough braggart that I shared these with one of the directors, and he said he wants to print them off for his office. He also said that when he does that, he’ll print me off a couple as well. So before too long, I’ll have full-sized one-sheets of posters I created for movies I helped make hanging in my house.

So that’s cool.

Moving along within this vein, Aubrey and I have talked about it, and we’ve decided that I’m going back to school in the fall! I’ve been maybe a semester or two away from graduating for a while. But now, Western has a Film degree. So instead of returning to finish my B.A. in Theater, I’ll be going back for Film. It’s not that I don’t have a love affair with the stage, but I’ve always loved movies and I get seriously amped when I’m involved with making them. It’s 35 credit hours, which is about the same time I would have left for Theater, and I should be able to use the Theater credits I already have to complete a minor.

Ever since we decided on that, my mind has been a-buzzin’ with ideas, camera movements, and a hunger to dive back into absorbing film in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

“Not better.”

It’s good to be back, and in so many ways. Thanks for reading, True Believer!