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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

no one wears white


Dick Rogers leaned in, right up to my face.
"No one wears white." He said, the words separated by angry pauses.
I swallowed, embarrassed.
"No one." He added, his hand waving around with a flourish.
My cheeks ran red. I could feel every hair, right up to the top of my head. I suddenly felt like I smelled terrible. My stomach made an empty noise. A pen hung limp from my hand, then rested on my notebook.

Later in the hallway, he smiled at me. A tiny encouragement.

The film was about my father and my brother, as much as myself. There were heartfelt sessions in front of the camera, the film whirring slowly, the microphone perched just out of frame. There were trips home to shoot my father ice fishing, or painting, or just having a coffee alone at the big kitchen table. Then my brother, doing chin-up after chin-up. The story was wandering, turning blind corners.

In the end, I animated a story that my brother mentioned. A parable.
A deer and a lamb are in a field, eating fresh green grass. The deer's antlers fall off at one point, and he puts a bag over his head, embarrassed. And then the bag falls off. The sheep looks at him for a moment.
"You aren't as important as you think you are." He said.



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