Freedom from Expectation


I consider myself a creative person, but of all of the jobs I’ve had, I was most content working as an artist’s assistant realizing someone else’s vision.

It was the summer of 2001, which fell between my freshman and sophomore year of college, and I was home in New York City and living with my parents. I had largely avoided looking for a job but, through a former colleague, was offered one as a studio assistant to an artist named Miriam. She did Verre Eglomise, which is the process of gilding precious metals like gold and silver on the reverse side of glass, and etching in a design. My job, basically, was to trace Miriam’s designs by erasing the excess gilding until the pattern she had designed emerged. (read more…)

Love: a 4 Letter Word in 4 Parts


I don’t have a memory of love before I was twenty one.

True, I grew up in a close-knit family where the words “I love you” were regularly spoken. But, for me it was a statement of fact or obligation. It was not the joyous, deep body feeling that I now know as love.

The person I dated for a over a year in college was rightfully angry that I told my friends and family that I loved them, but I never said it to her. It is only in hindsight that I see how immature I was. I didn’t know what love was really, what it felt like, or that I was responsible for it. I thought it was a thing that would simply come to me, like Tinker Bell, and sprinkle me with a magical dust. I worried that I would never love someone, that something was wrong with me that rendered me undatable and incapable of love. For years, I was comforted by Melissa Ferrick’s “Love Song.” She sings: “How strange at twenty one, never even had one.” If Melissa Ferrick felt this way too, maybe I was ok. (read more…)

Learning to Forget, Overlook and Ignore


When I was in middle school, we were always given a packet summer assignments that were due in September. It constituted probably two or three total hours of work, and I’m sure most kids did theirs the weekend before the first day of school. I always did mine on the first or second day of summer vacation.

I’ve never been someone to put things off. It’s not just the schoolwork of childhood; errands and work projects as a grown-up get the same treatment. Sometimes people tell me they wish they could be more like this, but it’s not some great virtue to be admired. It’s just what I am compelled to do to manage anxiety. Doing things ahead of time doesn’t make me do them better or more carefully, it just makes me feel better in that one moment. In this way, it’s actually no different from procrastination. (read more…)

Albert Einstein, Bill Gates… and Me


In 7th grade, my parents told me I was adopted by my dad, meaning the man I knew as my dad up to that point was not my biological dad.  My reaction was to put in our VHS copy of Look Who’s Talking. Movies were a language for me from an early age. When Kirstie Alley softens her heart to John Travolta at the end and lets him essentially become the talking baby’s father, I realized that the dad I knew was my dad, and this new information actually didn’t matter at all.  It never upset me again.

The movie Goodwill Hunting came out in 1997 when I was a senior in high school—and it blew my mind.  As I remember it, I was the most charming guy in school and everyone — my fellow students, my teachers, the school’s administrators, local politicians– just adored me.  As we all know, memory is 100% accurate so you will have to take the previous sentence as concrete truth.   Goodwill Hunting was a Dead Poets Society drama bred with the crude comic stylings of a Kevin Smith movie.  It packed an emotional punch unlike anything I had experienced.  It reminded me of how connected to movies I was and how much I wanted to make them.

I will go off to a prestigious film school, I told myself, and I will take the movie-making world by storm!

Approximately three years later I dropped out of college. (read more…)

My Natural Voice Didn’t Come Naturally


“How did it sound?” I asked my husband on the way home from church – fishing, as usual, for compliments on the reading I’d given that day from the podium. I have served as a lector at every church I’ve ever belonged to, for as long as I can remember.

“It sounded fine,” came the usual retort. And then, something different: “But….”

“What?” I responded, intrigued. “But what?”

“You… um… ” A considered pause. “You didn’t do your voice.”

He wasn’t talking about my regular conversational speaking voice, the one I would use in an unguarded moment with a friend. He was talking about what I have come to think of as The Voice. The Voice is mellifluous, precise, projected, vaguely British, dark around the edges, with an air of maturity and authority. It is the aural equivalent of a mask, something I can put on regardless of the situation or my own state of mind.

(read more…)