Biggest Dreams & Worst Nightmares

I think it’s interesting how often love and fear collide. And I guess it makes sense, since if nothing is at stake, then what would there be to fear? And truly, what is the absence of love? It’s fear. And if love and fear are connected, then obviously so are our biggest dreams and worst nightmares. Unfortunately dreams and nightmares go hand in hand, far too often.

When I was younger my biggest dream was to be on the silver screen – in a movie. I also wanted to do TV, but movies were the pinnacle for me – the biggest dream I had! But then I discovered photography, and my passions turned toward art, and my dreams evolved – and it happened long before I even got close to seeing myself on a movie screen. I got on TV in a couple of VERY minor ways – once as an extra in a crowd scene in 1989 on Simon and Simon, a cop show on CBS set in San Diego. And then in 1992 I was on the local San Diego NBC News on election day – dressed in royal blue, making phone calls for my candidate of choice, I got the full treatment with the microphone cord under my shirt, and I was instructed when to start and what to do – it was more “making” news than anything else, but I thought it was great!

But I never made it to the big screen, until this year. It started with an interview for a local cable program called Life in California. I had shot a photo documentary of the Fallbrook Film Festival, and this TV show was doing a segment on the festival, and somehow it ended up that they wanted to interview me. Cool! So I show up for the interview dressed in my most flattering best, with my hair as fabulous as is possible, and I tried hard to forget how I looked, and focus on what I had to say. I mean who cares what I look like? It’s my images that count – right? Not my looks. But for anyone who has ever been an actress, that’s hard. It’s hard for anyone, but for an actress, even harder. And just because I’m now an ex-actress, doesn’t mean that the old fears don’t still exist. And when I saw where they wanted to do the interview, I cringed inside, but didn’t let it show. What could I do? They planned to have the camera placed below me and the interviewer, pointing up, which is the best way to make me look fatter. Oh, and I was to be in profile, which is the second best way to make me look fatter. And to top it off, we were to be seated – which is of course, the third quickest way to make me look fatter. It was my nightmare scenario. Truly! But I had two things going for me. One, deep inside of me, the actress part of me who had the big dreams still exists, and two, I have great passion for the subject matter – my art – so I just plunged right in and did it. And it was fun!

The interview ended up lasting close to thirty minutes – it was really in-depth, and it’s fun to talk about art, especially your own art. I did panic a little the next day, and called the producer to make sure I’d done okay – that I wasn’t too gushy, or too dorky, or too over-the-top enthusiastic. He told me I’d been “great” but that didn’t reassure me much, since I’m sure they tell every trainwreck/hot mess/loser who appears on every reality show just how “great” they were – good TV doesn’t always mean yes, you came across as classy, talented and hot. Sometimes it means you were a total mess, but hey, it was entertaining!

But even with all the worry about how I looked and how I sounded and how I came across, I was still actually looking forward to seeing it on TV someday. On TV.

Then I found out they were going to have a premiere of that particular episode at the local movie theater. And that’s when the fear really stuck me down. Appearing on a little TV screen was one thing, on the big silver screen was just another thing all together. The idea of me, looking ugly and fat, on a HUGE screen? It terrified me. At that point I didn’t even care what I said. I could have been spouting off pure nonsense and I would not have cared. All I could focus on was ugly, fat, and thirty feet high on a movie screen.

I came so close to not going. I wouldn’t let my family go, and none of them could understand why? Who could understand? But it was my worst nightmare – I just knew it!

But…. somewhere deep inside, I was still aware that it was also one of my biggest dreams about to come true. And if I missed it, I might be missing the only time I would ever see myself on a movie screen. Did I really want to miss that? Yeah, it might be awful, but still, it was a dream come true…

So on the big day I went with my mother, who would not be dissuaded, and the theater was much bigger and much fuller than I would have liked. We took seats near the front – I figured that if this was IT for me, the big dream come true, then I wanted to be really close and get the full experience. Even if it killed me! But surprisingly it didn’t kill me. They showed lots of my images from the Film Festival, I sounded fairly smart and what I said made sense, and while I did look fat, it was okay. I started to breathe again, and to actually enjoy it. The segment on me went on much longer than I expected, and my mom kept squeezing my arm, she was so happy. Experiencing that with my mother was very very cool, and it made me sad that I’d denied the rest of my family. What was I thinking? It was a fun and cool thing, and they only wanted to share that with me. I kept the little ticket stub from that day as a memento, and I came away feeling really glad that I’d made myself go, and made myself face that huge horrible nightmare, because honestly it wasn’t so bad, and seeing myself on a movie screen, talking about art? That really was a dream come true!

My mom called me last night – she’d been flipping through the channels on TV and came across the episode with my interview, except that it was different than the version we’d seen in the movie theater. This version featured some of my images of rock stars and musicians and models, instead of just images from the film festival. And she said they showed different parts of the interview, and matched what I said up to particular images. We saw the premiere back in October, so I’m surprised her memory of it was that detailed – for me it went by in a big blur of stress and love and fear and happiness – I don’t remember the specifics of what I said! But she’s my mom, and she did!

It’s blows me away to think about how close I came to giving up something that had been one of my biggest dreams, just because it collided with what could be my worst nightmare. And I certainly haven’t kicked that particular nightmare – I’m still fearful of looking ugly and fat and all the rest. I fear that on a daily basis! But I don’t want that fear, or any other fear to stand in between me and my dreams – even an old dream that I’d nearly forgotten. It may have been an old dream, but seeing it come true was pretty sweet…

2 Replies to “Biggest Dreams & Worst Nightmares”

  1. I have tears in my eyes reading this, you are so beautiful, so real, and one of the best people I have ever known. You are also an incredible writer. I miss our time at Pallomar sharing ideas thoughts and big dreams… I am so glad you stuck with photography you are truly gifted!
    Friends Always,

  2. Tanya, you always knew how to make me feel good! I’m so glad you found this old post – and that you commented – you totally made my night!

    And yeah, I miss our time at Palomar in the photo lab, and then afterwards in the parking lot, talking foooorrever and ever! We closed down that parking lot so many nights! It was a very special time, and I’ll never forget it!

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