Many Happy Returns

By this time tomorrow, I will be on my way to Philadelphia.

I haven’t been to the east coast in almost five years to the day that we’re leaving. The last time I went, I was invited there as an official filmmaker in the Philadelphia Filmathon for my short, “Son of a Beach”. Looking back at that short, I’m not sure I should have been invited to be a part of that, or any film festival at all. The animation is incredibly crude and the sound is atrocious. The saving grace of that project was perhaps the fact my neuroses were laid bare (so to speak) for an audience. It was funny and honest, which is what probably got the notice of Stephanie Yuhas, who left favorable comments on the video long before the festival was opened for submissions.

When I finally got my acceptance letter, I had spent an entire day in the hot wastelands of eastern Colorado building barbed wire fences. I won’t bore you with how a barbed wire fence is put together, but I will tell you that pounding a mile of “T” posts by hand and stringing four strands of “devil’s rope” as temperatures top 90 degrees is a huge buzz kill. I hadn’t even considered actually attending the festival and was simply happy that someone outside my family and friends saw value in a thing I had made. If you have dedicated your life to art, but have to spend 10 to 12 hours a day doing manual labor or another occupation to pay bills, things can get a bit bleak at times. Although, I do believe that these experiences and jobs make us better people and artists, it is easy to get discouraged. Those of you who have slaved away at day jobs and make art in your free time know well the thrill of small victories. These are the little boosts that give you the confidence to continue.

It was my ex-girlfriend (now wife) who forced me to attend the festival despite travel expenses and my crippling fear of success/failure. She has a Homer Simpson-like quality sometimes; a blatant disregard for planning and good sense that comes in handy against my often pragmatic nature. There is no doubt that we have been good for one another. When we first arrived in Philadelphia, rain was coming down in torrents, and I had just saw the face of oblivion thanks to bad weather and airplane turbulence. I smoked the quickest cigarette ever on our way from the front gate to the parking garage, where Denise’s uncle Ken would drive us to his house in Delaware. It was 1 AM. It wasn’t until our drive to the International House for the film festival the next day that I realized how close together everything is in the east. On our twenty minute drive there, I could see Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

The festival was wonderful and everyone was warm and welcoming. The audience for the screening was tiny, but I managed to get a few laughs anyway…I think…And then it was over and I was back to eastern Colorado in hardhat and steel-toed boots not expecting anything further. I would be married a short time later and on our honeymoon to California, after having made three episodes of Victorian Cut-out Theatre, a lunch with a friend would land an episode on, and a month after that Cinevore would contact me to make more episodes for them. Five years, thousands of cigarettes, hundreds of “T” posts, tens of nicotine patches, and 23 episodes of VCoT later, I’m heading back there to visit family and friends. It will be nice to see the east again, I think. This time my crew will roll deeper by one. Weird.

In short, I am really glad I attended the festival. But I am ever more glad that I didn’t stop making things.

More than anything I’m hoping to relax on this trip…Actually, more than anything, I’m hoping my son doesn’t freak out on the airplane. Secondly, I’m hoping ALL OF US can relax a bit on this trip. I look forward to meeting the newest member of the family, my son’s infant cousin. I look forward to helping new parents if I can, as we have been helped before. I look forward to eating waffles off of a truck and a cheese steak of some caliber. I also look forward to a visit in person with Stephanie and Matt. It has been five years of emails and phone calls. It’s like having intimate pen pals.

If you would be so kind as to wish us a good journey, without baby freak outs and blowouts. Wish us laughter with family and friends. Please wish us safety, because I can’t get Terror at 20,000 Feet out of my mind. And if there are any wishes in you left, wish that our inconsiderate neighbors maintain some semblance of law and order while we’re away.

Take care,