Shooting

Generations back, the women in my family prepared massive quantities of food for their hungry husbands and sons returning from the fields or for the influx of families after church on a Sunday afternoon.

My variation was feeding a cast and crew of nearly 30 on a film set — three meals a day for five days. For the most part, I enjoyed the process. It was the least we could do for people volunteering 16-hour days in an over-heated house under blazing lights. It saved us considerable cost (I did the entire thing for under $900, thank you very much) and David could rest assured knowing that everyone would be well fed. We decided early on that this was a preferable option to me stressing him out as a second-crunching production manager.

We’re coming off nearly three weeks of 5-6 hours of sleep a night. But there’s been no time to crash as we both jumped immediately back into catch up with work and freelance. I found myself more tired after the night I got 7 hours than after waking up on 6 once again. Perhaps my body has gone into a lower-performance mode for efficiency’s sake. My brain may be too muddled to acknowledge this.

But overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew. The cast was the easy part, and our leads came through the talent development company for which David works. We broke the cardinal rule–never work with kids or animals–by casting an 11-year-old lead (plus his 9-year-old brother as a body double) and a 6-year-old supporting actress … not to mention the guinea pig. Those kids had a work ethic more solid than most adults I know. Long days in debilitating heat, and still going strong. (The sugar our AD doled out may have helped.) The parents were fantastic, too. Patient and supportive in lending their kids and their time to allow us to get what we needed, finishing up late Sunday evening when the boys were set to begin school Monday morning!

Our crew was a challenge. We started two months out with only one or two roles filled, and no idea where the rest would come from. By God’s grace–worked out through SCAD job boards, mandy.com and craigslist, we landed an entire crew of professionals and experienced students willing to give us five days and more of their lives on the basis of David’s script and his portfolio on our web site.

From the start, we knew this project was far greater than we could handle alone, and that drove us to prayer. The results showed. Our production wasn’t perfect, but so many people commented that the atmosphere and spirit of the set. No grousing or grumbling, despite the hours. People treating each other decently and professionally. Apologies when tempers ran thin. I am especially proud of my husband, who kept a level head and stayed 100% focused to steer the entire project — even during day 2 of 5 when it appeared there was no way we would make it through the entire schedule.

Saturday evening, I concocted spaghetti and garlic bread and such. The entire cast and crew sprawled out around the downstairs lounge area, chatting, dreaming, considering. People who never would have connected without this project.

This film took all the energy and focus and grit and manpower of a good old-fashioned barn raising, and more. It’s not done yet. So much work for David in the editing suite. Some final close ups to shoot. A film composer to find. Festivals to research.

But nonetheless, it’s in the can.

And it was good.

Profoundly Lost

Yes, I’m a LOST geek. It’s the only television show I’ve ever watched from start to finish (picking up in Season 2). Though it’s been far from perfect, I believe the show found its salvation in setting a finish date and working the last three seasons with an end game in mind.

Lost has espoused and explored some fascinating threads of philosophy and theology—but it’s never purported to be a Christian show, no matter how many sermon illustrations are drawn from it or how much time our Wednesday night small group spent hashing out the implications of the previous night’s episode.

Still, the finale moved me in a way that only a few other story endings have:

• The Last Battle (the final book of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles; and this despite the fact it’s one of my least favorite stories in the sequence)
• The film endings of The Two Towers and The Return of the King
• The final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (holding my breath to see if the film will pull it off)

A pat “Christian” ending to Lost would not have been effective or believable—the show wasn’t set up that way, and to twist it that direction at the end would have been cheating and ultimately unsatisfying. But the choices made in the final episode created, in my view, the most profound sense of and longing for heaven that I’ve seen on television.

In the Lost-world, the characters are able to get to their heaven through any path of choices or faiths. Clearly, that’s not the Gospel. But the essence of the heaven created on the show got some things right:

• Time lines as we understand them on this earth mean nothing in the big picture
• The people and relationships in which we choose to invest mean more than anything else we will ever do; career, possessions, position, you name it; these are the gold that will last rather than the dross that will burn away
• We are each created and placed here for a purpose, and fulfilling that calling is vital to who we are in an eternal perspective
• Death for the believer is a beautiful thing

Of course, I’m placing my Christ-centered worldview on the episode. Most won’t. But I can’t help believing that, as is the case with well-crafted stories, people will be mulling over this, asking questions.

The last 30 minutes of the episode haunted my dreams last night, have stayed with me since waking. I suspect they will be haunting many.

“He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Innocent, Your Honor

Six weeks ago, I parked on the street directly in front of my favorite coffee shop, just off the Marietta Square. I park there regularly. So does everyone else who can nab the spot. There are no signs to indicate it’s verboten. No yellow paint along the curb.

Nevertheless, I walked outside a few hours later to discover a mute and unhelpful parking ticket tucked under my windshield wipers (just over the long crack that’s been holding out below my line of vision for years. I keep anticipating a windshield replacement, but so far the crack has remained surprisingly docile and out of sight).

I came to the court building to dispute the matter. I garnered my court date. I went back to the scene of the crime and took photos to support my innocent plea. (There was an unticketed car sitting in the spot. Please Note Exhibit A, Your Honor.)

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An hour and a half ago, I arrived in court.

The lights are dim, the mood mildly annoyed but submissive. We sit, lulled by the monotone of legalese poured into our ears.

If I cared to admit guilt and plead for forgiveness, I could simply go up to the judge right now and negotiate my fine.

But innocence is more difficult. I am required to sit it out and wait until the city solicitor can meet with me—and the several dozen other self-proclaimed innocents—so I can present my few photos and make my case.

All of this for a $25 fine. Only unemployment makes the value of this time debatable.

The walls above the wood paneling are a depressing mustard yellow, a perfect color match to the dress of the lady currently speaking with the judge. Her garb features a riot of fleur-de-lis and swirls in black, white and something akin to the by-product one might find in an infant’s diaper. (Sorry: there are few other similes for this particular color.)

But there are no fashion cops here. Only one bored policeman ferrying in orange-suited inmates trying to post bail for their petty crimes, their wrists coupled in silver cuffs so delicate they might be finely wrought jewelry.

Disorderly conduct. Marijuana use. Solicitation.

Why am I here? Oh, right. $25. About a dozen cups of Caribou coffee.

I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning, and it’s wearing on me. David informed me yesterday he’d read (posted over a movie theater urinal, no less) that eating an apple does a better job of stimulating wakefulness than does a cup of coffee.

I heated up a mug of apple juice this morning to drink before I left the house. Tomorrow, I’m reverting to coffee beans.

Coming up on two hours. Still sitting here. Haven’t spoken a word but “pre-trial conference, please.”

PLEASE.

********************************************************

2.5 hours total wait time.

They knocked my $25 ticket down to $10.

Figure in my wait, the photos, the phone calls, the trips downtown…comes to about $3 hour. I’m gonna choose to be okay with that.

Dodge This One

We rarely watch television, but it’s Olympics season and we’ve had the tube turned on far more than usual.

Which means I’m actually watching enough commercials to be annoyed by them. I’m particularly adverse to this one for the Dodge Charger.

It exemplifies the worst in western views on manhood and relationships. If men dutifully endure henpecking and then bust out in supposedly-deserved immaturity when they can’t handle it any more…of course we’ll be a society of torn up marriages. No surprise there.

Your life is miserable, so you deserve a stuff-laden, mid-life crisis, by golly!

This morning I walked into the bathroom as Dave finished up shaving. “I shaved,” he said. “I got up at 6:30 to let the dog out. I put the toilet seat down. I like your Mom. I watched ice dancing with you last night. And I’m gonna drive the car I want to drive.”

“Really?” I inquired.

“The paid-off Honda Civic in our garage,” he affirmed.

I got a good deal on a husband.

Freebies

oreos

I like free stuff. Yesterday I managed to score a coupon for a free bakery item at Caribou Coffee by filling out a survey on their service, plus nabbing a free hot cocoa from the gal who was doing test drinks for her certification. Then I used a handy coupon at Kroger for free golden oreos (double stuff!). And when the cashier at Old Navy neglected to ask me about opening up a charge account, I landed a $5 gift card.

Not too shabby for a one-day haul.

But none of my no-charge sugar rush compares to the ultimate freebie: God’s grace.

Free, yes. But as Deitrich Bonhoeffer reminds us: it’s not cheap.

That daily dose of grace I so desperately need doesn’t require me to go out and earn it. It isn’t contingent on whether I spend 12 minutes reading scripture or refrain from nagging my husband about the cobwebs hanging from our chandelier (we ARE rather past Halloween) or dispense words of wisdom to 2.5 friends during the course of the day.

It’s grace. By definition, I can’t earn it.

But it IS costly. It requires that I take it seriously. That I never forget God’s cost in the matter. That I place myself in a space to be changed, molded — frankly, to give up my self-ordained right to my own personal comfort zone.

Those free oreos don’t require much of me but a willingness to overlook the ingredient listing.

Grace requires nothing. And everything.

Le Coup

man-on-wireThat’s what Philippe Petit called his breathtaking high wire walk between the Twin Towers, a quarter mile in the air. The coup.

The documentary “Man on Wire” tells the story of what was essentially an artistic crime, trespassing and entering, rigging the wire cable from rooftop to rooftop. But more fascinating than the drama is the man himself. Philippe was obsessed of a single glorious idea from the moment he saw a sketch of the planned towers in 1968 until he finally danced between them in 1974.

The towers existed–or would. That was enough. He had to do it.

Philippe knew no fear in pursuit of his goal, though apparently those around him sure did. And the 45 minutes he spent suspended in mid-air were a miracle to the people who watched. Even one of the cops who arrested him once he was back on terra firma couldn’t call him a wire walker. No, he was a dancer. Fully alive in the face of easy death. Scorning the consequences.

I want to live so fearlessly. To walk out on wires where each step is a miracle, a beautiful act of balance, hovering on the rim of the unknown.

That would indeed be a coup.

Merry Christmas!

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The waiting is over. Christ is born! Of course this is true of every moment…but I love the yearly reminder.

We have a white Christmas in Pennsylvania, but we had an even whiter Christmas last weekend, traveling to Virginia. The 9 hour trip ballooned to 31 hours when we were stuck on the interstate in the teeth of a blizzard!

I am still a Christmas card slacker, but the Hansen year-end update will be coming your way soon. Until then…take joy!

on becoming antique

One of the handy side-effects of unemployment is a chance for field trips (when I can be pried away from the online job boards and script projects).

This morning I volunteered a couple hours reading to second graders at Park Street Elementary near the Marietta Square. The favorite pick was Little Bunny Foo Foo and The Good Fairy, which I was required to read three times. Who knew that ear worm of a tune mom sang to me as a kid would come in so handy?

Little Bunny Foo Foo, I don’t wanna see you, catching all the field mice and bopping them on the head.

(The moral of the tale, for those who don’t recall, is: hare today, goon tomorrow.)

But I couldn’t help feeling, well, a little old. We breezed through a cute tome about a boy who takes his various pets to the library. When the frog landed in the card catalog, though, the kids’ glazed eyes reminded me that these kiddos don’t have a clue what a card catalog is.

The card catalog always held a certain mystique for me, the scent of polished wood and yellowed cards, a sort of massive paper brain housed right in the center of the library. I always wanted to take one of the cabinets home so I could place it in my room and fill up each of the fascinating little drawers with who knows what.

And forget Google, youngsters! We were our own search engines, with a little aid from Dewey. Was it elephants I looked up for that very first research paper in grade school, sorting through the cards and matching them up with worn spines on the shelves?

Oh, and we walked uphill both ways to school. In the snow. Barefoot.

At the end of the story, the library problem was solved when the boy left his pets at home to be read to by his well-behaved elephant. I suspect the second graders thought they were being read to by a dinosaur.

sick, injured, and unemployed

A depressing heading, to say the least, but despite this less than enthusing trio, we’re doing quite well. I keep being reminded that people DO read this blog and appreciate updates, so this is a bit of a laundry list rather than anything particularly creative or crafted.

As for a): Both Dave and I have been victims of a nasty cold for the past week, and we’re only now beginning to see the end of the tunnel. Our “adventures” this week have been trips to Walmart for Sucrets and a late-night walk yesterday to the Rite-Aid for some handy Rite-Tussin. It is almost insulting when reveling in illness to have a dog who is rather sickeningly healthy and enthusiastic to get out and run.

b): Despite being sick, I’ve been determined to keep on top of my marathon training schedule. This may be partially responsible for the illness in and of itself as I did 13 miles in a downpour last week… Logical conclusions aside, I took a nasty trip on the sidewalk during my long run yesterday and ended up with scrapes and bruises all along my right side. I’m eternally grateful for bandaids, neosporin, and a sympathetic husband.

c): Since the funding sources that kept my job alive finally dried up, I’m working a part-time/as-needed basis at Art Within for September and October, with guaranteed salary during November to help with an Art Within Labs. After that, our movie funding kicks in – or doesn’t – and it’s time for Plan B, or C, or… We trust that God knows what He’s about. The extra time is allowing me to explore other writing possibilities and to finish up my script for Act Three. Cool Beans coffee shop down on the town square has become my new office. David and I also have a passion project script we’ve been tossing around for months and hope to start on soon. More on that later…

We didn’t know whether Georgia was a temporary blip or long term. And we still don’t know for certain. But we are so grateful for everything God has worked in our lives this past year, from our finances, to our marriage to our skill and craft as artists.

Oh, and we have an official spare room with an actual (well, futon) bed now, so come visit y’all…you hear?

frosty

Remember summer as a kid, when the time between grade levels was a young   eon? I still envy teachers who get that lazy summer change of pace (even though I know perfectly well how hard won and well deserved the time is). My summers were sadly marred by the TWO HOURS per day of garden work in which my sister and I were required to participate. Yes, of course it was character building. But just how much character does one need, anyway?

At any rate, as I marinate in the Georgia humidity, I find myself popping back frequently to those grade school summers in Virginia. Last week, we had a minor catastrophe at work. (Hang with me. I’m going somewhere. Promise.) The office mini-fridge freezer had formally frosted over, making it impossible for the freezer flap to shut properly, and thus, forcing the fridge door open. The result was a lot of weeping coke cans and quickly defrosting microwave lunches. And after the thawed-broccoli incident last fall, it was clearly a matter to be dealt with swiftly. I took on the icy build up with the most formidable weapon at hand: a paring knife. As I hacked away and the ice chips flew, I couldn’t help contemplating the lack of worker’s comp for my job.

Still, the cool snowfall was welcome, and it hauled me instantly back to the circa 1950s kitchen in the old farm house we rented while I was in grade school. The refrigerator was a venerable old Frigidaire, and, unless my memory is playing tricks, it lived in the back of the rather large pantry. It had a freezer, but that freezer had issues – as in the thick coating of ice that would slowly take over any actual freezer space. I’m sure it was a royal headache for my mother, but for my sister and me, it meant one thing: shaved ice.

When the time arrived for the inevitable defrost, my mom would scrape away at the ice, whittling it down, and depositing the shavings in a bowl. These ice shavings were for quick savoring before the Virginia heat reduced them to mere droplets. Those spoonfuls were pure, cold bliss, especially in a house less than aptly cooled by window units.

I’ve had a fetish for ice ever since – especially shaved or slushy ice – and my summer freezer is never complete without a box of corn syrup saturated flavor ice. I secretly covet a fridge with an automatic crushed ice device.

True, this may have something to do with that iron deficiency. But I prefer to attribute it to the Frigidaire.