Dear Annie Mae: It’s my cake and I’m eating it, too


It just occurred to me how much I look forward to doing this blog, that I can feel myself processing everything better after I write about wherever I am with my journey. Yeah, that’s what’s up. As I was saying in the last post, I tell myself that my life is a movie in itself about my rise to becoming an accomplished filmmaker. What’s a story without setbacks and low points, right?

The whole issue with my son’s car was the crack in the surfboard I’ve been riding many a wave on. Coasting over: “You’re just a creative writing professor. If you haven’t made it in some artsy field by now, you’re only good at teaching it… You just ain’t lucky like that. The job market is crap for regular 9 to 5’s, what makes you think you can go even further against the grain? You have a family, your dreams are done. Besides, you don’t have time and resources like that.” A quarter of a shoestring budget and a band of folks who just believed in me, in the message, in each other, seemed to be enough. Coasted through each and every wave.

See, now I’ve got some real tension, forces bearing down for their say.  Time to throw in the thought of giving it all up to secure things around the household. (You know the deal with the kid’s car… Well, she paid for it – which bothered me; I felt like this was going to be a father-son thing. Me straightening things out with the car. Success coach Derek Dodd told me to suck it up, that my wife and I need to be a team. I move with a “the man handles everything he can” mode. It’s hard for me to figure out when it’s “be a man and handle everything” mode and when it’s “we’re a team in this” time. The result: it’s harder to engage in small talk and easy humor; I stay deep in my own thoughts, trying to figure out how to get me and my family out of this situation. A simple bump on the shoulder is startling because I’m so far into my head. Never said I had it all figured out, folks. Oh, to make it more interesting, my wife and I just had our 18th anniversary. The lil I have for a decent celebration isn’t enough for the complete spelling of the word “little.” Corny I know. Just chill, I’m working through something here.)

Ah, now we’re cooking. Now we’ve got some compelling drama. Cue some damn, pensive music please.

So, of course, the next part of this has to be me coming out of it all having it all. The happy home and finished film. Well… there is a funding opportunity out there that is still pending. A brother’s fingers are crossed. Still going over the script with fellow filmmaker Akil DuPont, per Ayodele Vassal-Gore’s request as well (which could garner funding if she signs on as a producer). That’s two contingency plans right there.

Oh, check this out, North of the Grove’s director Fred Baptiste called me. It’s been a while since we talked; two men working like maniacs to keep households and projects afloat, you know. He says be careful with cutting the script down while beating the pavement to get funding. He says I could burn myself out like that. Hah! He’s got jokes. Like I have the luxury of burning out. By the way, I worked that volunteering at the Boca Raton auction well. I continue to amaze myself in those settings. I play it smooth. I don’t go talking people and cramming business cards in their pocket, I play my role and wait until some bored, pampered soul meanders my way for bottled water. When they ask if I’m from Africa (because of the Mohawk), I kindly correct them and emphasize the power of the hyphen in African-American. They seem floored when I tell them I’m also a professor.

Victims complain, compare and gossip. Creators just focus on what they want. I want both. I want my home my and film. That may be an awfully simple cake, one that’s dry with no frosting. I’m not even a fan of sweets – at all. Whatever the case, it’s mine. I want my cake and eat it, too.


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