My parents died many years ago. My dad when I was 25 and my mom when I was in my early fifties. I may have forgotten to thank them for a few things they instilled in me. So… I hope they will see this and know how much of my success in life and business I owe to them. You see, they told me that not only could I be anything wanted to be, but I was also expected to be as independent and self sufficient as humanly possible.
I remember the summer of my junior year in high school when my father insisted that I take typing at the American Institute for Business because, “a woman always needs a marketable skill”. I did it. I failed typing which has left me the fastest two finger typist on the west coast if there was ever a contest. As I rose from the depths of typing failure, I was left with the message my dad was giving- be my own person and don’t depend on anyone to be your financial support.
My mother left me with a different and much more flamboyant way of looking at the world. She prided herself on having been a teenage actress on the Chautauqua Circuit in the 1920’s. To think that my grandmother let my adorable mom travel the midwest with a band of magicians, actors, singers and dancers is amazing. Her ability to be an Iowa housewife with a hidden desire to be a Tony winning actress told me that I needed to follow my passion and embrace it because she didn’t.
Well, dad and mom, I am a bit of a late bloomer but I have done exactly what you taught me. I put my desire to be a playwright and filmmaker on the back burner when I was twenty. With that came my decision to put my attraction to the homecoming queen and the girl behind the pharmacy counter at Bauder’s on a shelf. I married a lovely man and had the expected 2 1/2 children (I’ve always marveled at this national statistic. I think they count my dog as the 1/2). Then, decades and I do mean decades later, I decided to be the me my parents told me I could be.
I made three major life changes. I divorced. Then, I bought my first pair of rainbow flag socks at a street stand in Berkeley. I was proud but not loud. Finally, I wrote a play called Three Women in a Box. It was eventually staged with each woman from three generations of this “only tell me good news” family residing in a box. Lots of metaphors there. Lots of my personal experiences. In the last decades life got in the way of the dreams. Falling in love with “her” and this ridiculous need to pay bills took me away from what I really wanted to do with my life.
Then, yes, there is another then, I discovered filmmaking. Movies. Lesbian films, documentaries, LGBTQ inclusive films, heterosexual love stories. I was like a kid in a candy store. I read the scripts. I hung out with the Grip. How many of you know what the Grip does? I watched actors take those words on the page and make them real on the screen. I saw how hard filmmaking was. At times like watching paint dry. And OMG, the stress of raising money to make them. I think the DSM-5 should include a new diagnosis- Film Funding Effective or Ineffective Disorder (FFEID)
Having witnessed the entire process from Director hair pulling to over cooked chicken lunches on set, I of course heard my mother saying, “Write a screenplay. Take your play and turn it into a screenplay. But, put in the things I told you when I was dying. The surprises.” Well, mom, I’ve done it and now I have become one of those people I watched. I’m the person praying our story is on the big screen. I may end up with FFEID, but I’m doing what you taught me- do what you love and desire. And just go for it.
So, for all of you out there who came out as a lesbian a bit later in life like me, be proud and loud if you like. For all of you in the last half century of your life I ask this. What are you waiting for? If you’ve posted FIND YOUR BLISS surrounded by lotus blossoms on your Facebook page but haven’t made any attempt to find it, get out there and start the journey. Now. You may not make a film or write a screenplay, but you may just find that your independent and passionate self can do what you want and be exactly who you are.
Now I’m in negotiations with a well respected female producer in Los Angeles and I’ve started a pre-production indiegogo campaign. You can read more about it on the THREE WOMEN IN A BOX Facebook page. In advance, thanks for helping this late bloomer succeed.