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At the moment I am sitting in my office, waiting for a few more people to pick up their copies of "The Red-Headed Menace," the short we made this summer. Of the people who have picked up so far, 75% have also bought a copy of Smalltimore, and I got an email today for an order of 4 more copies. Nope, I haven't gotten any further in the Amazon/UPC mess, but I haven't tried, either. Probably this weekend when we're snowed in.
This time of year people get very strange. Everyone is stressed out in one way or another, and I think this year especially people are feeling the pinch. In the last couple weeks I have had friends who had their car broken into, one even had his car stolen, and last Saturday when I was walking out of the Creative Alliance after teaching my class there, I saw an actual fistfight. You always see strange people when walking around this town, but lately they have been coming out of the woodwork. It makes sense, though. Naturally this is the time of year that people take stock of their lives (and their bank accounts). Some people don't have much to be happy about, and being bombarded with this holiday crap probably doesn't make their lives any easier. That Lexus commercial where the voiceover guy debates whether the traditional big red bow on top of the car, you know, when you are GIVING SOMEONE A LEXUS, is passe or not, really gets on my last nerve. It doesn't annoy me because I want a Lexus, I think they look very boring and aren't half as hot as my 2000 Mustang convertible. It annoys me because it is flat out obnoxious.
I find this time of year a little tough, too, because so many people focus on what they don't have instead of what they do have, and I don't have a lot of patience for that crap. It's almost like everyone got all their gratefulness (is that a word?) out of the way over Thanksgiving, so now they have to focus on the negative. Most of the people I hear moaning and groaning don't really have it so bad. Are you healthy? Have a roof over your head? Friends? Then stop borrowing trouble and realize how blessed you are.
Personally, I am probably going to lose my job as well as my apartment in the next 6 to 12 weeks, through no fault of my own. Due to the movie, my credit cards are all maxed out, and I will likely find myself unemployed during the dead of winter, when people aren't hiring waitresses or retail employees, let alone anything that pays more than minimum wage. I just spent $600 at the vet, and one of my dogs is probably on his way out soon. He is 14, almost completely deaf, and more than half blind. Okay, that part makes me really sad, and now I am crying, but, I will enjoy his company for as long as I can and try to focus on the positive. As for the other stuff, I've been deep in debt before and I've pulled myself out. I have friends and family who won't let me end up living in a cardboard box. I always land on my feet. It is kind of exciting, actually, to see what happens next.
That's what I am likely looking forward to in the coming year, some good stuff, some bad stuff, some challenging stuff. I'll survive it all, I'm not worried. Looking back over the last year, well, the last two years since I really dove headfirst into this movie business, I can honestly say I don't regret a moment or a penny of it. There are events or periods of time, choices I have made or things that have happened beyond my control, that I can reflect on and see that when I came out on the other side of them, I was a different person and I could never again be the person I was before. Like after I moved from D.C. to Baltimore, or after 9/11, or after my Dad died. And definitely after making this movie. It might sound strange, but this experience has been as life-changing as any of those that I mention here. And in a very positive way.
There is not enough bandwidth in the internet to go into every detail of it, but if you have been following me along my journey, you already know a lot of what I am talking about. The bullet points are:
1. I made a frikkin' movie. After I decided I was going to do exactly that, every time I watched a movie and more importantly, all the credits at the end of a movie, my heart beat faster and I felt like someone was sitting on my chest. Look at all those names! How the hell am I going to get 100+ people to help me on this thing? How does anyone EVER make a movie? But, I did it. And there are over 100 names in my credits, too.
2. I'm not scared of anything anymore. Not that I was scared of a lot to begin with (hairy spiders, deep water, and Ann Coulter not withstanding). If there is anything I am hesitant to believe I can accomplish, there is a DVD case within reach that says otherwise. The most surprising benefit of all this is that I am SO much better at meeting and talking to strangers. It's exciting and has opened a lot of new opportunities to me.
3. I accomplished exactly what I set out to do with this movie. I know that not everyone in the world is going to "get it". This is a different side of Baltimore. To outsiders they might think it is the "underground" Baltimore, but if you live here you know it is the every day. My friends as well as strangers I have met at the screenings, the people who are artists, writers, musicians, the creative community of Baltimore - they love it. They tell me I did them proud. I don't have delusions of grandeur that this movie will ever receive a theatrical run (unless I am renting out the theater). But through all the changes the script went through, what I wanted to manifest onto that screen was all there. I am so proud and lucky to know these incredibly talented people, and this very special place where we gather, and I wanted to show that to the world. I believe I did.
4. And most importantly, I found my calling. I had no idea. But now I have no doubt. This is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. And I can't begin to explain how exciting that is.
Anyway... my holiday advice, for what it's worth... try to focus on the positive. One thing that drives me a little crazy about a lot of people in this town is that they would rather complain about their lives than get off their butt to do anything to change it. No one is going to do it for you. Take some chances, be fearless, and don't think you're going to get anywhere without paying your dues. And probably maxing out your credit cards.