Dear Dad

My Dad and his dad

Dear Dad,

They’ve passed. The first two weeks of my life without you. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you are gone because we talk about you all the time.

Somebody was tailgating me last night around the round-abouts. I decided that I’d had it, and I started going slower and slower and slower. And you know what that tailgater did? They just got closer and closer until it was like we were one car.

I told Mom about it and she laughed and said, “Dad would be proud.”

But she would’ve said that whether you were here or not. So I’m wondering if we’re talking about you more because you are gone, or if I am noticing how much we talk about you because you are gone. Maybe it’s both.

I tried to call you last week, but it went straight to voicemail and it was that computer voice that doesn’t even say your name. What’s up with that, Dad? I’m gonna plug your phone in and change it, I swear.

Did you ever lose somebody like this, Dad? Did your chest hurt with the loss? Did you sit and wonder why, stupidly, it couldn’t have been someone else, someone less awesome, less important, less loved, less talented, someone expendable, why couldn’t it be someone expendable? But no one is expendable.

You did all the things, Dad. I still remember when we took down the shed in the back yard with a sledge hammer. One minute I’m thinking, “my dad couldn’t get any cooler” and the next moment you’re swinging that sledge hammer at the wall and I was like, “I take it back.” That shed didn’t stand a chance against you.

And props to you for dealing with the weird kid who had to have a knife all the time just in case she needed to whittle some sticks. Those were some ugly sticks, I tell ya. Props to you for spending several early morning hours combing a field for that tiny, finger-sized flashlight that I lost in the dark when I was 9. You even found me a belt hook for it so I wouldn’t lose it again. Almost 20 years later, Dad, and I still have it.

I took a fancy flashlight from your office last week. Mom said it was okay. It’s like the best flashlight ever. A snob flashlight, dude. Ain’t nobody touching that flashlight but me from here on out, you hear me?

Everybody keeps asking me how I am. Dad, I don’t know what to say. What would you say if your Dad died? I know you talked to him like every day.

I had a really good weekend, Dad. Better than I’ve had in so long I can’t remember. I was the cinematographer for a short film. Mom was in it as part of the crowd. She was so happy to be a crowd person and hold a stupid sign for 2 hours. Mom was happy so I was happy and maybe she was happy because I was happy, I don’t know.

It’s getting easier, the other grief, Dad. I know you would say, “Good.” There finally seems to be light in my life, again. I wish you were here for this.

I’m gonna go boarding now. I promise if I get hurt that I won’t call Mom all hysterical. I’ll call D instead and she’ll be my paramedic for you.

I miss you.




My Dad Loved Movies

My Dad passed away early in the morning last Monday. The following is what I read at my dad’s memorial service this past week.


My dad loved movies. He loved movies before I ever loved movies. The main reason my siblings and I quote movies all the time is because of him.

There is a quote from the movie Inception that goes like this,

“I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can’t imagine you with all of your complexity, all your perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real wife. You’re the best I can do; but I’m sorry, you are just not good enough.”

I couldn’t think of anything that would fully encapsulate my dad, so I’m just going to share some highlights.

I was in an antique store a number of years ago and I found a set of tiny dolls from Mexico. They looked like a variation of Worry Dolls except they were all different. So I told my mom, “I’m going to buy these and hide them around the house and let dad find them.”

We got the dolls and went home and I proceeded to hide these things all over the house – in his medicine cabinet, in his office, by his bed, on the counter, everywhere. Then we waited for dad to get home. When he got home we said hi and let him do his normal thing. As he walked around he house he would pause.

Finally, I heard a shout from the bathroom – “there little people everywhere?!”

And we all laughed, dad included.

Around that same time dad found a Halloween hand at a garage sale. It was one of those rubber things that’s slightly hideous and creepy. So I took that hand and I stuck it in his medicine cabinet.

“What is this?” he said.

But he got his revenge. He hid it in MY bathroom later. And so the war began – me hiding the hand in his truck or his office or his drawers and him responding in kind. He was far better at coming up with hiding spots – sometimes it took weeks for me to find the hand.

He knew how to laugh.

He watched every single one of my films. He wasn’t always positive about them. He told me his likes and dislikes. He told me his true opinions. I trusted that his reactions were real, and when he said he loved a film or that it made him laugh I knew it was true.

My parents often helped with my movie making chaos. They offered their house, food, errands, feedback and even themselves when they fit the role. In 2013 I produced and directed my first 48 hour film – which is a competition that requires you to complete a new film in 48 hours. My parents both delivered several items and offered their house for editors to sleep at. At the end of the filming first day, both my parents told me, “I am so proud of you.”

It didn’t matter that the film wasn’t finished being edited, it didn’t matter that we went on to win absolutely no awards, it didn’t matter that the film was pretty nonsensical – they were proud. I looked back at some of my blog posts over the past year and you can still find my dad’s comments saying, “I am so proud of you.”

Dad, I never thought I did anything worth you saying that, but you did so many things that made me proud. You were a paramedic who was kind to people, even when they hit you. You were infinitely patient with your grand children even when they were being nuts. You went back to school twice. You stayed faithful and kind and loving toward my mom. I knew if I needed anything that you would come as soon as I called, and you often did.

Dad I’m so proud of you.

I was going to tell y’all the story about how my dad and I discovered Steve Irwin, but my brother said we only had 45 minutes up here. I will say that dad loved finding things to watch with us, and I think that we both enjoyed watching it together more than the actual show. I can’t imagine that he was a super fan of Veronica Mars, but boy did we get excited about that movie.

I don’t know how many hobbies or likes he acquired because of wanting to hang with us, but I know that I love movies because of him. All the midnight showings, repeated viewings, quote sessions – if I say something that sounds weird it’s probably a movie quote and it’s all his fault.

I haven’t seen Black Panther yet, but when I do, I’ll be thinking about how I would tell him all about it.

So here’s my last thing. Last spring was really harsh for me. I was talking to my dad about traveling, and we decided that in 2018 we were going to Vietnam. He really wanted to go there for many years. So a few weeks later he gave me a tiny package. He said, “this is for the trip.”

You know what it was? A tiny scorpion earring. Just one.

I don’t think that there are even scorpions in Vietnam.

But it was absolutely the coolest earring I’ve ever been given. Because it was from my dad.

My Year the Music Died


Someone once said to me that “silence is the acoustic form of darkness.”

There’s been a lot of darkness lately.

There was no funeral for my husband. No one got a chance to come up to me and say nice things, to take turns giving me hugs and saying how sorry they were that he was gone forever and that I would never see him again. I didn’t get to speak about his good points to all of my friends and family. I didn’t get to post on Facebook about my loss.

Public loss is only acceptable in death.

Abuse doesn’t negate love and affection.

2017 was my year the music died. I lost a lot of people. A lot of good people. Silence is all I have from them now.

But in silence and darkness we have the opportunity to create music and light.

Many years ago I was rescued out of darkness into light. I was given a new life. Hope in Christ is not a false hope. After a year in silence, real hope is the only thing that keeps you going.

So for this year, 2018, I have made a resolution to give hope to someone else. Life is not about me.

This year I’m gonna get set up to foster in 2019. I’m going to take classes. I’m going to move into an appropriate space. I’m going to get prepared to be a mom.

My year the music died will not be the death of hope.

When I Grow Up


“This way,” Dad said, inclining his head to the left.

I followed him up the sidewalk, him on the outside by the street. He refused to let me walk on the outside – that was his job. He was the first line of defense in case a car jumped the curb.

Cold burrowed into my neck. I always forgot to bundle up enough for these walks. The sun crept over the trees, but its slow ascent would remain the background of our walk. The dew hung in droplets off of the tired grass. Tired, because it was still green and this was October.

“I have a new business plan,” I said. “About a social network for truckers.”

“Huh,” Dad said. “What does that mean?”

“I’m not sure yet.”

I smiled. He smiled too, and we segued into talking about our family and the latest problems we had run into. We walked slowly, which was hard for me to do. Old habits. It helped that the street was a good uphill terrain. The houses we passed lay quiet. Too early for chaos yet. Just wait till we got around the bend – children would be waiting for the bus, parents watching from the porches.

Always seemed too early for people that age to leave for school.

Dad listened when I talked. He asked questions. He gave insight. Sometimes he made sarcastic or funny comments. Mostly we just relaxed our speech, focused more on just spending the time.

It was Tuesday. Breakfast with Dad was on Tuesday. My 3 sisters and their kids would gather at my parent’s house for pancakes or eggs and bacon every Tuesday morning. Dad always made the food. Sometimes other people brought tasty things as well – not me though, I lived the farthest away and used the extra time before my siblings arrived to walk alone with my dad.

Alone time with my dad kept me going in a very dark time.

The summer had left me bereft of my closest friends. Due to work schedules and a nasty breakup between some of them, the entire group left me and my spouse in the dust. Accustomed to meeting once every week for 2 and a half years, I found myself lost. Introversion is a curse, not a strength. It is a terrible thing to depend on a small group that decides to fracture and leave you behind. An extrovert could make other friends or have other friends, but I didn’t have anyone really present in my life except family.

Not that family isn’t a joy and a comfort.

My family, however, was suffering. My sister was in the middle of a lengthy, aggravated and combative divorce. Despite her best efforts to peaceably separate herself and her 4 kids from her husband, he was unwilling to yield.

We were unprepared.

My other older sister was carefully and diligently helping her youngest child of 3, a girl barely 1 year old, recover after a second surgery. Baby A was a miracle that almost left us the year before, but the prognosis was starting to look up after all the hospital visits and surgeries. It is strange how much you can love someone you’ve only known for such a short time.

My younger sister and her husband had serious, re-occuring health problems. His daily struggle kept him from a normal work schedule, and she was picking up the slack as best she could. The next few months ahead would see them moving out of their house for weeks in order to eradicate mold, all while dealing with special diets and multiple jobs.

My older brother had the least of the burdens, but his life wasn’t easy. At that time he was in a beautiful relationship with a lovely woman, one he wanted to marry, although I’m not sure she knew that yet. But he had been this close before, and things had gone very badly for him. Instead, he focused on his job and helping out his family as best he could.

My parents cared for my in-process divorcing sister, her 4 kids residing happily in my parents’ small home. At the time the oldest was 7, the youngest 1. Too young for their own suffering.

And I…my suffering was different. I was married to someone I loved, who apparently didn’t want to be married to me. Instead, he was quietly pushing me to unravel everything real about myself and morph into the person he thought I should be. He had moved me away from my family and my church. He was in the process of starting a very intense affair with a very young person. He constantly flirted with other women in front of me. He told me I wasn’t living up to his expectations, but he refused to tell me what those were. He shut me out of his thoughts and when he wrote future goals, none of them included me.

He asked me to marry him, but he was giving up on me.

But when I was with my dad, I felt valuable. In a sea of suffering and chaos, Dad took the time to just walk with me. Just be.

It is more than a year later. We haven’t done Tuesday breakfasts in about that amount of time. It just became too much of a hassle.

This past spring my former husband’s many affairs came to light. Instead of facing the truth about himself and his actions, he chose to give up and shut me and my family out of his life. He is not regretful. He is not sad.

In the middle of the summer I found myself displaced, but eventually, with the help of my grandparents and family, I am now in a stable living situation and moving up in a job that I love. The week I moved into my current place, I had no bed. I didn’t think I even had the money for a bed. Instead I placed my camping pad on the cement floor of my place and layered some blankets on it. It hurt my back a bit, but I was free from the constant emotional and mental prison, so who can’t deal with a little back pain?

Dad and mom insisted that I have a bed. Not only did they find me a mattress, they bought a frame and came to my house to assemble it. Mom also brought me numerous household items, as I had left my old living situation in a hurry, without any dishes and most cooking utensils.

A few weeks later, Dad came over to help mount a curtain rod in my room because the outside lights were keeping me awake most of the night. When I had a housewarming party, Dad volunteered to buy pizza when he figured I didn’t have enough food for people. There are too many other things to list.

As this past fall progressed, Dad felt worse and worse. His work back injury was taking a much harsher toll in him. His stomach was hurting all the time, and his blood pressure was suddenly off – something that had never happened to him. Finally the pain was too much, mom brought him to the ER. Several unfruitful days passed – they sent him home with no news. He went back and was committed again as his health deteriorated.

A few more days passed. My sister came over to my house to make food with me. Mom called and asked where she was. Then she said she was on her way.

I knew then.

When mom came in I was quiet.

“They have discovered that he has tumors in the lining of his stomach,” she said. As she explained the rest of the situation I just stood there, silent, controlled, watching her and wondering how long I could keep it together.

I hugged her at the end. So did my sister. As she left, she told us that she was headed to our other sister’s house, then the next. She had already called my brother, who had moved 10 hours away upon his marriage to the lovely girl.

We could fight this, still. There were home remedies. Treatments. Options.

As the options are exhausted, the home remedies rendered impossible due to increasingly complex problems, I see Dad suffering. At first all he could say or think about was all of us.

“Let me walk you out to your car,” he said to me when I was leaving his hospital room. He was attached to multiple machines and beeping up a storm. I smiled and told him I would be fine.

He bought the neighbor’s car when he found out they were getting rid of it, because “your sisters might need it.”

He talked to a guy a church and asked him to check on my car if he had time.

In one year, I have experienced the complete definition of a selfish man and a self-less man. The selfish man chose to leave and continue his him-focused life. The self-less man is suffering every day and chooses to live his self-less life for his family.

When I was 9 I told my dad that when I grew up I wanted to be a writer.

Dad, when I grow up, I want to be you.

Grief Isn’t Normal

Picture of the ladies

Grief takes you by surprise.

Lemony Snicket says it best:

“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”

Lemony Snicket

I recently read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis as well, and he had some powerful things to say about grief. About how to reconcile God being good. And a lot of thoughts about coping, understanding and continuing life with grief.

One of the strangest things about loss and grief is the fading of memory. We forget how a person really was. Dom from Inception talked about that when the phantom of his wife haunted him:

I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can’t imagine you with all your complexity, all you perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real wife. You’re the best I can do; but I’m sorry, you are just not good enough.

Dominic Cobb

The people we lose are never really true in our memories anymore. They leave a piece of themselves with every person they know, and those pieces can almost be combined into an image of who they were when they were here.

My friend was a wonderful person. She was also occasionally annoying, like every other human I know. She was also brilliant. Funny. Welcoming. Awkward (although not anywhere near my level).


I think my grief became stronger the more I learned how many others were grieved.

But as the weeks have passed, the grief is less harsh. The loss, while still felt, is not as daily. I have her film to complete, and it is nearly completed. I was gifted her lovely dog, Bella, and she is a constant reminder of joy.

There are no magic words to help someone through grief. The most comforting things that people did for me in the early days were this:

  • My brother, though he had never met my friend, said he was grieving with me for her.
  • My sister brought me two plants – 1 for my eyes and 1 for my stomach.
  • My friend saw my post on Facebook and called immediately to see what had happened.
  • My husband accompanied me to a film group meeting where I had to ask for post production help and try not to cry.

Grief isn’t normal. It’s part of life here on earth, but it isn’t normal. There is nothing normal about losing the chance to chat or see a friend for the rest of your life. There is nothing normal about the ache in your heart when you see something that reminds you of someone you loved who’s gone forever.

But normal or not, to feel grief is ok.

And as always, love the people you have. Focus on the good. These connections may not last long, so enjoy them while you have them.

Once Upon A Goat

We frequent a coffee shop that uses a goat emblem. I always call it goat coffee. In honor of my students from this week and my Dad, I’m going to write a short story for you every time I end up at the goat coffee place.

I’ll try, anyway.


North Wall Vines


Brighton nestled deeper into the prickly vines. Thorns and sticks scratched her face and hands. Gloves. Next time she would remember her rough gloves.

Right. Next time she had to randomly jump into the vines on the North wall to avoid The Boys she would definitely remember gloves. Maybe carrying gloves should’ve been her go-to action all along, since avoiding groups of people seemed to be her lot in life.

“Come on,” Samuel called out. “She doesn’t want to talk to us.”

Brighton listened to the six retreating footsteps. There should really be seven, Brighton observed. Someone was hiding. Probably Marius. He was always working harder than the others for her affections.

Give up now, she thought, while you still have half a day left to explore the world.


Brighton’s breath caught in her throat. She bit her lip to keep her mouth closed. Don’t cough, don’t cough.

The cough broke free, throwing her head forward into thorns, her hands back against the rock wall to steady her. Coughing and coughing and more coughing. Air seemed in very short supply suddenly.

Hands reached through the vines, parting them like curtains. The hands gently settled on Brighton’s shoulders and pulled her out of the green chaos into the golden hour of twilight. She couldn’t think but coughing, her body shaking, her eyes closed. A flask of water pressed to her lips. She gulped.

Heat surrounded her. She sighed. She opened her eyes to The Boys. All smiles. All aglow. All offering shy pats of encouragement and care, all ready with another flask of water, all focused on her comfort.

She took a deep, free breath. Closed her eyes.

They only want your good, she told herself. And that’s the problem, isn’t it?

“Are you alright?” Samuel asked, the chosen leader. He stood beside Marius, whose hand was still softly gripping Brighton’s shoulder. Samuel might be the speaking leader of The Boys, but Marius was definitely the bravest when it came to winning Brighton’s affections.

Brighton sighed again. She offered a smile. Smiles in return. The group relaxed again, happy to be released from any guilt. They only wanted her attention and her comfort, after all.

The slimmest boy, Peregrin, stepped forward to offer a handkerchief for Brighton’s bleeding face. The thorns had caught her harshly and left an angry stain of red across her cheeks. It isn’t queen-like, she thought, to hide from my own subjects. Especially when they simply want my company. Selfish.

“Samuel,” Brighton said. “Must you always follow me?”

He grinned.

“Only when you lead us on such good adventures.”

Brighton had to smile at this. The rest of her life would be leading them on adventures, as dictated by her tribal leaders. Queen. Warrior. Adventurer.

And yet.

“Well, let’s be off,” she said, knowing that every boy would follow her. Knowing that every single one of them longed to be chosen. Knowing that no matter who she chose, she would have their loyalty until her last breath. Knowing that no matter how many vines she hid behind, none could stop the future of a Wandering Queen, even if that queen was only thirteen years old.

She accepted the offered handkerchief for her face and strode away from the wall, Her Boys falling into step behind and around her.


Voices In the Dark


Celebrating every type of person does NOT give you the right to bash or exclude certain types of people or a gender simply because they have historically had more power or more impact or more of a voice.

My voice shouldn’t drown out my husband’s voice. My black and awesome friend Marcellus’ voice shouldn’t drown out mine. My bi friend Sally’s voice shouldn’t drown out his. And my Hindu friend Kiran shouldn’t drown out Sally.

Every time individuals come together to promote one gender, one “race,” one differentiation of humanity as more important than another…Well you’ve successfully become just like the racists, misogynists, homophobes and all the other haters.

We. Humans. Are all equal in worth.

I don’t need a gender or a skin color to tell me how cool you are. (Although some gages and tattoos let me know we might be good friends. Possibly some unnatural hair colors, too.) The way we look shouldn’t divide us. The way we speak shouldn’t divide us.

Instead, we are divided because of our own selfish pride and need to be right. 

It’s great to show support to people who are suffering or being mistreated. It’s great to stand up to acts of brutality or obvious unfairness. It’s commendable to show friendship and love to people who hate you or are different from you.

But don’t do any of that at the expense of other people.

I’ll use my husband, Joshua, as an example. He grew up so poor that he lost out on 2 growth spurts because of malnutrition. He suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Because of the malnutrition he was taken away from his parents and put into the foster care system, where he bounced around a lot of different homes before being placed in a boy’s home. He was adopted as a late teenager by his great aunt on the condition that he work a part-time job while finishing high school. At 19 he joined the military and was deployed to Korea for a year and then to Iraq. When he was discharged from the military he tried to use the GI bill to pay for school, but ended up with lots of debt due to the bill only covering his first year of college. He works full time now in basically a data entry job and does artwork and comic books on the side (working toward this becoming a career).

He never had real supportive parents, although his parents weren’t the worst. He never got hand-outs. He was so poor at points in his adult life that he was washing his clothes in the bathtub.

He has white skin. His lineage is Irish, which is why he burns instantly in the sun.

He falls within the type of people on this planet that receive the most vehement hatred on this thing called the Internet. Most people would define him as a straight, white male and write him off as privileged and, by nature of his gender and skin color, a waste of space, a potential rapist, a hater, a misogynistic creep…many more.

Throughout his entire life Joshua has supported women, including the wonderful lady who finally adopted him and his fabulous Aunt Tina. He has made friends with people from all different backgrounds and nationalities, including a close friend from Korea. He has maintained healthy friendships, dialog and support with people with all different sexual orientations. He has never hated anyone simply for their looks.

Joshua has pale skin.

Joshua is a man.

Joshua is straight.

Joshua is a loving, real, suffering, genuine human being.

He is no less important just because there have been humans before him who were selfish tyrants intent on squashing anyone who was different.

When you devalue certain types of people as a group, you devalue a bright and beautiful man who has always striven to include the downtrodden, the different, and the rejected.

When you step onto your soapbox and blast an entire group in order to build up your own group, you become the thing you are criticizing and insulting. Welcome to the Nazi brotherhood, the Ku Klux Klan and the rest of the haters.

You’re just secured your membership by grinding a human being under your words.

Technological Revolution, Anyone?


I do a lot of research for my job. I read a lot of business news on sites like Forbes, Inc; market forecasts on BI sites like IBISWorld; and world news on sites like The Guardian. I’ve gotten used to scanning Info like a demon possessed junkie and living off of the high-lights instead of truly digesting the writer’s words.

It’s sad.

Sometimes a subject catches my attention and I lose myself in the article. All reality disappears. I jolt awake ten minutes later and realize I was transported to another world.

It’s unhealthy for my job. But it’s the most exhilarating experience I ever have researching.

It’s been said to stop and smell the roses. Instead, I’ve been stopping and smelling the technological revolution we all should’ve seen coming, but I think we were wholly unprepared for.

While Americans are still trying to sort out their mobile payments and shop online, the majority of the rest of the world is cashless and never had a credit card. The next generation may not even know what physical money looks like. They will take for granted that every purchase or payment they make is recorded. The adoption of the bitcoin will decimate some economies and create stabilities for others, maybe even countries that we view as “developing” or “third world,” such as Nigeria.

The technological revolution will even some playing fields that haven’t been even since the 1700s.

And in this incredibly connected global economy, we are experiencing a level of cultural transfusion that is unprecedented. Technology is not just changing the way we move capital or interpret worth or affect the global economy. Technology is creating a world culture that mirrors fictional realities such as the Star Trek universe.

Connections are no longer enough. Adaptation is the future.

I recently researched WeChat, WhatsApp and LINE. These are all messaging apps that connect users through text, talk, images and video. LINE specializes in offering an insane amount of sticker sending and games. WhatsApp was bought by Facebook for $19 billion dollars, one of the largest tech acquisitions in history. And WeChat is the most popular social media platform in China, where Facebook is banned and email never really caught on.

Each of these apps is starkly different from the others, even though they were all created to do the same thing – connect users. WeChat is now an all-purpose eCommerce platform that allows users to pay for taxis, pizza, doctor’s appointments and more. LINE has created an entire merchandise base including TV shows based on their user-created stickers. And WhatsApp continues to offer no interruptions and no adds, free for life.

Each one is based on a distinct culture.

And each one is striving to be globally adopted.

I’m sure you know what that means at this point. We’re looking at a global culture that seeks to unite individuals through technology, and those individuals are making the decision for unity themselves.

The technological revolution is self-motivated and looks like it will result in the largest nation in history.

WeChat, because we can.

September the Road to Recovery: Sidewalk

There’s a moment in life where it suddenly dawns on you that every plan has gone hideously awry, you’ve tripped over a random crack in the sidewalk and are about to slam your chin to the cement. Pain is inevitable. Blood maybe. Possibly some laughter, depending on how many people are watching you try to make out with the sidewalk.

Sidewalks are not good kissers, believe me.

A few weeks ago I took a literal tumble on the sidewalk that left me shaken, laughing at myself and soaked from the wet grass I rolled in to get up. I spent an hour or so in wet jeans and a silly smile on my face. Taking a silly tumble like that was funny. Momentary. Fleeting.

No harm done.

But when you take a tumble in life, when all your best plans suddenly fail in the most dramatically traumatic way, it’s not as funny.

Or as painless.

September happened. I’m sure we all remember the gorgeous weather and increasingly tense election. Amidst all that, I had no sugar. I followed my candida-killing diet. I made food. Lots of food.

I made progress.

Then my plans kissed the sidewalk and I’ve been in pain ever since.

Progress report? Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go straight to jail.

I know, this would be such a better read if at the end I suddenly jumped in with, “But wait, everything is cool because I found this magic cure!”

I didn’t. I don’t. I haven’t. I might not ever.

But that, my friends, is okay. Because the sidewalk hit me and it hurts, but I’m on my feet, thanks to God’s grace and all my peoples.

I spent the morning trying to console crying babies, while working off of 4ish hours of sleep and absolutely no caffeine because I’m not allowed to have it. I spent lunch at a fabulous vegan restaurant with some friends. I spent the afternoon saving Paleo and Candida-diet recipes and making plans.

Maybe some adjustments will help.

Plans and more plans. The sidewalk may grab for me again, but until then I’m gonna keep limping along.

Where there’s life, there’s hope.

~JRR Tolkein

Filmmaking is for Warriors: Teaching


“Do you know any famous people?” the tiny child asks me.

“Famous people?”

I don’t know what else to say. I’ve been a filmmaker for 10 years, but most of the people I know aren’t plastered on the cover of People Magazine. I do know some actors who have been plastered all over the billboards in Kansas City, which is pretty cool. Mostly just because those actors are totally awesome, and it’s nice to see them achieve new things.

Inevitably, it doesn’t matter if I have an answer to her question, because there’s a half dozen more questions flooding my way. I wave my hands at the brood of small people and do my best to change the subject back to the class I’m teaching and away from my filmmaking career.


I started teaching theater and acting when I was 19. I shouldn’t have, really, because I had no idea how to teach. Those first few years my head was under water and the kids drowned with me. I’m sorry, kids, I didn’t know what I was doing.

But like Dory the fish said, “Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!”

So I kept pushing my way through teaching, class after class after class. I taught basic and advanced acting, improv, film acting, film production, costumes, musical theater (as a sub, ’cause I don’t do music), black box and radio theater. I’ve assisted in directing shows. I’ve subbed for ages that I would never have chosen to teach – 4 year-olds are not my buddies. I’ve taught subjects I knew very little about and had to research – radio.

And then I was burnt out. And I didn’t want to do it anymore.

Kids take a lot of energy. Kids need a lot of attention and help. Kids are SO MUCH FUN TO TEACH.

Plot twist.

I love teaching. I love talking to those kids. I love playing games with them and seeing them grow. I love seeing how kids learn to rely on each other in theater. I love seeing how theater changes lives for the better – confidence, friendship, coordination, memorization, basic theater skills, communication, trust, loyalty, diversity and a host of other things. I’m sure people learn this stuff in sports, too, but I was a theater kid so I can’t speak to that.

I had a screenwriting teacher who loved his job. He really did. He loved interacting with his different students. I had another film teacher who loved her job. She was the most understanding teacher I think I ever had, always open to giving students a second chance to learn.

And I think to myself, why don’t more people teach?

Because every single person who loves teaching, also hates it. At the end of the day you feel wiped out, left for dead and drained. Your job is to push other people into greatness, whether that is in theater, writing, math, science, robotics, music, computer, filmmaking or military training.

People push back.

Sometimes they do it on purpose. Sometimes they’re just too scared, as some of the 8-year-old students in my class the other night.

The better you are at being a teacher, the more you hold yourself accountable to the things you are teaching. Your students are pushing back, and you are learning more than them.

That’s a cliche. I hate that cliche. It’s obnoxious. Obviously if you’re teaching a child multiplication, you already knew how to multiply. Duh. That kid didn’t teach you that.

But while you were teaching multiplication, that kid was teaching you patience, kindness and long-suffering, because that kid’s probably an aggravating little dude with a numbers complex that needs a reality check.

I subbed for a theater class this week and last. I haven’t taught in a very long time. It was hard work corralling all those little people. I was hungry and my throat hurt and I wondered why I would put myself through all this when I was still in my month of recovery.

But when I went back last night to teach, the kids told me I was an awesome teacher. Their words, not mine.

And I thought, I love teaching. Why don’t more people do this?