Here is the piece we just finished for Highlands County Economic Development Commission. This piece aims to attract large business to the beautiful and centrally located county in south Florida. The Avon Park Air Force Range procured the grant to fund the video. They are a big part of the community and go to great lengths to keep it pristine. I enjoyed my time with the folks down there. They are a great group of people. I wish them much success.
…and this is the way I’ve been formatting pieces since as long as I can remember. I guess that is 1988. Please don’t say out loud how many years that is. I am doing this piece for the Highlands County Economic Development Commission along with the Avon Park Air Force Range. I have met a great group of people who are looking to expand business and industry in a beautiful section of Florida. My favorite part of my job is learning. I am really looking forward to putting this one together.
We shot a little political message to be used on social media a couple of weeks ago. Greg Seidel ran and won the first seat for the Winter Park, FL City Commission. It was shot and edited pretty quickly so Greg could get it out before the election. I love Winter Park. Greg and Valerie are doing great things for the city. I’m happy to help in some small way…
For as long as I can remember I marched forward. I never looked back. Sure, I looked at pictures – because I take a lot of them!! – but my focus was always forward.
I was in a video 33 years ago. I didn’t watch the video for many many years. It played on VH1 and ultimately YouTube. My friends and family were entertained by it, but I honestly get very embarrassed seeing photos and video of myself so I’d slink out of the room whenever they played it.
I was in high school at the time. After that life brought one change after another. I wore many hats. I marched and I marched. I have good memories and some bad — though I wouldn’t waste any time focusing on those.
A few weeks ago I was asked to surprise the singer songwriter Bertie Higgins on a talk show. It was the first time we have seen on another since filming the video in 1982. The show segment was taped Tuesday and aired today.
This has been a year of looking back. All of my marching came to a halt for half-a-second last year. And for some reason my past started to catch up with me. Old friends and co-workers suddenly started calling. I was getting together and speaking with people I hadn’t in decades. Whatever/whoever is in charge of this universe wanted to remind me of something. Myself? I’m not sure. But all my younger me’s started showing up again.
The producer and the hosts of the show asked me to remember the filming of the video. I’ll recall as much as I can here. I was 17 years old and a senior at Tarpon Springs Senior High in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I was editor of the yearbook, and I did not put a single photo of myself because I was incredibly camera shy. There was a yearbook convention that spring which played host to my first bout of trouble! My childhood friend lived in the town where the convention took place. He was two years older than me, but we were close friends as our mothers were tennis partners throughout our elementary school years. The legal drinking age was 18 at the time so my friend Tommy and his friend Hogey ordered beers while we were visiting at the hotel pool. My yearbook advisor was also at the pool and I thought nothing of bringing my friends over to meet him. (I actually am that dumb.) The s*#t hit the fan within minutes. My parents were called. The principal was called. “Boys and beer” was all I heard. My parents weren’t upset with me which was a relief. They didn’t understand why I was in trouble. I didn’t have a beer and the boys were drinking legally in public. Still there was a threat of suspension and having my yearbook title stripped of me. (The yearbook was already done!)
Two days later the principal walked into my psychology class and asked to see me in the hall. My teacher Mr. Felicione looked sympathetically at me as I got up to leave. He had taken me aside the day before to let me know he didn’t agree with what was going on. When I got to hallway the principal was standing with two men. One was staring at my face with his index finger beside his mouth the way people do when they are thinking. They said they were casting for a video. They started touching my face and then my hair. I didn’t understand what this had to do with the hotel incident because I was SURE that’s why I was taken out of class. The principal had to explain to me that I was being considered for a music video for the song Key Largo sung by our high school alum Bertie Higgins.
I thanked them for the consideration, but explained how camera shy I was. Meanwhile I was leapt for joy on the inside because the principal was nice to me. Surely he wouldn’t circle back and suspend me after that. I told the men that there were many pretty girls at the school and they would not have any trouble finding what they needed. They said they would call our house that night to speak with my parents. I didn’t say a word about it when I got home, and we all went out to the movies.
The director called the next morning. My mother spoke with them. By the time she told me they were already knocking at the front door. They offered me $100 and said the video would be used to promote the song in Japan. I liked the director a lot. He was in my closet picking out clothes before I knew it. It’s a good time to mention he was gay. (My best friends through the course of my life have been gay men.) We hit it off immediately. He told me about his visions for the video and before long I was hooked by the process.
After packing up a pile of my clothes we set off for the grocery store. Ted, the director, purchased Vasoline so my hair could look wet all day long. He explained what he wanted from me which was mostly sadness! The story of the song was that the relationship had failed. The singer is trying to convince his partner to try again. We were to have a few happy flashbacks and a hopeful ending, but principally I was to look discouraged and done!
We went to Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs for our first shots. That is where I met Bertie. One of our first shots were to run up the stairs of Spring Bayou. We were holding hands. I thought we were going in one direction but Bertie went the opposite way. My feet got crossed up and I looked completely pigeon toed in the shot. We didn’t film another! (There were a lot of YouTube comments about my gimpy feet years later.)
Bertie was very professional and kind. He was over a year into his fame at this point. Key Largo had been a hit and he had appeared on just about every show. We shot on 35 mm film which I found very cool. Whenever I wasn’t in the shot, Ted let me look into the camera as we filmed. I was completely excited by Ted’s job. I thought for the first time that day that I would love to be a director.
We went down to Howard Park Beach next. Bertie, the cameraman and myself road on the back of a pick-up truck while it road across the parking lot. The palm trees moved behind us making it look like we were on a boat (a very smooth boat – ha).
I feel like we went on a boat next but I know we ended the day back in the Howard Park clothes at Sunset Beach at sunset. Did we shoot a second day? I honestly cannot remember this part. But we did shoot on a boat. And that is when Ted heaped vasoline on my hair. He did this himself and combed it through. My hair did look wet!! We shot the scenes on the boat and I was to look miserable with Bertie. They were happy with my “performance” but the story might have been lost somewhere in the editing.
At Sunset Beach I went into the trailer that was onset for Bertie. I met his wife Beverly and I mistakenly stepped on her foot. I am clumsy. I was falling and I came down hard on her foot. I wanted to die. I am completely embarrassed.
We wrapped production before we got to film the happy scenes. I look a bit like a sour puss in the video, but I was having a blast in reality. We all said good bye and I was sad to see it end. I didn’t tell many people I did the video. I didn’t watch when they sent the tape to our house. March march march. I didn’t think about it again for many years. And then…. VH1 hit the air. I was working up in New York City at ABC by then. More to come on that…
Yesterday was long day filled with the usual ups and downs. My favorite line of the day came from my assistant Anthony who showed up around dinner time. “You are really racking up victim’s rights pamphlets!” he said, as he looked at the paperwork Officer Escobedo left on my kitchen counter.
My second bike stolen in two weeks. Might not seem like a big deal to some, but I live for my bikes! I ride every day. I ride for fun. I ride for transportation. I ride just to think. The first one stolen was my favorite. I had it for 21 years. I moved it everywhere I moved and it moved me. I felt like my legs weren’t complete unless my feet were in the peddle cages. I had that bike locked up fairly well to a stair rail right outside my kitchen door. My yard is enclosed with electronic gates and this area is not easily visible from the street. I locked the second bike in the same place. (losing reader confidence – not smart I know) But this time I used a huge intimidating cable, the largest I could find. My brain told me that the robber had probably moved on and even if he didn’t “he would never want to deal with this size cable.” My brain also thinks everyone is a nice person deep down so “naturally the robber probably feels very badly that he stole my first bike. He won’t return to hurt me again, but I’ll lock the bike really good to block any temptation.” My self dialog is kindergarten.
I woke up happy yesterday morning. That’s usual for me. I am always an optimist in the morning. Every day has the potential to be a great day. I put on my yoga clothes, packed my bike trunk and strapped my mat to my back. I said good bye to the dogs and hopped out the kitchen door. I saw the super large cable lock in the driveway before I even noticed the bike missing.
The work day went fine. I shot some real estate photos. I had lunch with some great friends. I furthered my relationship with the Orlando Police Department who tried (I am sure only to please the bicycle nut that is me) to dust for finger prints on scrap metal left at the scene.
There was only one choice for dinner. Yup. Tijuana — the feel good place.
Then Anthony and I played around with light and filters for an upcoming shoot. I laughed so much when I saw this picture this morning. It looks like I could not keep my eyes open. I look exhausted. Modeling is my least favorite thing, but necessary for the job of making others look good. (Not even I could ask Anthony to model this one) The woman who will actually model for these shots will be perfect! She is a super talented and beautiful actress, singer and dancer. I thought it would be fun to show the before (me!) and the after (Blue Star). I am looking forward to the shoot.
I haven’t opened the victims right pamphlets. I hope they tell me that the best thing for me is a new bike or a massage or even a mani/pedi. I hope they don’t just tell me about the judicial process, prosecution and stuff. I’ll choose my self dialog this time. It’s usually way more optimistic!
Happy Birthday to my son who turns 16 today!! One of downsides of having a child attend boarding school is that we can’t always be together on a birthday. Though, I do get to see pictures of him having a great time his friends online, and that makes me very happy!
One of his friends took the shot above this past fall. I love this picture because it shows him doing what he loves best — taking pictures. He is the sports photographer for the weekly school newspaper. He is as committed to that responsibility as he is to his academics and his own sports. It is pure joy for parents to watch their children pursue the things they love.
I tried as a parent to provide all the resources my two kids needed (needed not wanted!) but I stood out of the way whenever possible. Their homework, their school life, the activities they chose to focus on. That was all them. I was surprised by how many parents were laboring over homework, assessments or projects. I told the kids pretty early on (1st grade) that it is up to them to decide what type of student they would like to be, and what kind of life they would like to live.
I suppose there are as many approaches to parenting as there are children. I can only say this method worked for me. They made choices I couldn’t have dreamed up. I provide the food, clothes and plane tickets, then I sit back and enjoy them and their enthusiasm. They have pride in themselves and their decisions.
One of those decisions my son made was to apply to boarding school. Trust me when I tell you this is the LAST thing I would have planned. But he is getting an education and an experience that is life changing. He loves it. I am thrilled for him.
He didn’t fly home this weekend because he was concerned the weather might delay flights. Good call on his part. Another two feet of snow is falling on his school as we speak. I guess I can’t argue with that decision either.
I miss you son! Have the best birthday possible! Knowing you are smiling makes me incredibly happy!
In unrelated news, I spent the day on conference calls. Tomorrow I have two shoots. Yay!
Maybe Sundays are the most emblematic of the empty nest change of life.
Look at my Sunday (which is only half over as I write). I woke up late. That in itself is a major achievement and something I never thought could happen to me again. (big win!) But when I looked at my phone I realized I had only half an hour to get up, feed/walk the dogs, ride my bike to church, find a seat and be ready for service to begin. My good friend Larry Watchorn was to preach for the very first time. No time to make coffee.
Larry’s sermon was spot-on for what I needed to hear today. He used himself as an example. Like many of my friends just past 50, Larry is hearing his calling more clearly than ever before and has decided to become an ordained minister. He said he feels like Scrooge waking up and realizing there is still time!!! Those words gave me goose bumps. There is still time! It is a reminder we all need to hear. He talked about seeing signs recently (actual ones) saying “Do What You Love.” It was a sermon for all of us to live our truth. Larry has a wonderful professional career and is a seasoned marathon runner. With all the awards in his trophy case, I am certain his mother was never more proud than she was today. She ran to the alter to give Larry a huge tearful hug after his sermon (and while service was still going!) and then proceeded to hug half of the congregation on the way back to her seat. I was weeping as I witnessed.
After the service, I spoke with Joel Ogburn, the music director for Joy Metropolitan Community Church. He told me he recently left his successful career/business as a hair dresser to work for the church full time. I was looking at a man who looked 10 years younger than he had a month ago. His joy was all I needed to see to understand. Joel’s enthusiasm during the service had me raising my hand to purchase two pet calendars for 25 dollars when 1 pet calendar costs only 5 dollars. That’s what enthusiasm will do for you!
Two minutes later I phoned a girlfriend who is finding herself again after turning 50 and after divorce. I shared Larry’s sermon. Life is like that: good things have a ripple effect that never end.
I rode my bike home and pressed a quick pot of coffee (a girl can only hold out so long), and then jumped back on my bike to go to Yoga in the Park, a popular and well attended Sunday tradition here in Orlando where a group of great yoga instructors teach a donation based class. People bring their kids and dogs to their practice while drinking in the gorgeous blue skies, the aroma of flowers and the views of swans swimming in the reflective Lake Eola.
I thought about Larry’s words as I practiced today and wondered what I will do with my own realization “there is still time!” That brought me to think about Patricia Arquette’s character in “Boyhood.” I could write volumes praising Ms. Arquette’s performance, which is precisely how I can focus on the character of Olivia as if she were a real person! Olivia breaks down emotionally when her nest empties. She had made a life of providing for her children. Her life is suddenly as empty as her nest. I want the movie to go on a little longer. I want Olivia to understand “There is Still Time!” and then I want her to “Do What You Love!”
I ate lunch – you guessed it – at Tijuana Flats! That makes the day pretty perfect, and played right into today’s theme. I can do whatever I want!! I’ll head to the bike store this afternoon to add a few accessories on my bikes. I may also do some yard work. I’ll leave work work for tomorrow and enjoy this single empty nest Sunday doing what I love. (Camera in hand!)