The Biography of a Dreamer: How Did I Get Here?

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For my entire life, I’ve been a wanderer.

I was lucky to grow up in the 80’s and 90’s, the last generation to really have the freedom to roam neighborhoods on our bikes, walk to the local cinema, venture alone to build forts in the nature preserve nearby, and so on.

Is it just nostalgia that makes it seem so ideal? Maybe (probably!) a little bit. I think childhood inevitably ends up more carefree in our memories than in real life.

Lil' Anna: A Portrait of a Girl Passed Out with her Toys
          Lil’ Anna:   A Portrait of a Girl Passed Out with her Toys

However, my imagination definitely had plenty of fuel and my world, as small as it was then, in retrospect, provided all of the playground necessary to foster it.  Add books to the mix, and my mother is lucky I ever stopped to breathe.

A lot of life has happened between that starry-eyed kid and this sleep-deprived (sometimes, make-believe) grown-up, though.  I’ve lived in  Chicago and New York City and travelled around the world. I’ve explored from the emerald jungles of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to the markets of Istanbul and beaches of Malta.

I channelled a lot of that imagination and energy into the theater, where I found a like community of odd ducks and outcasts. This led to a decade working in and teaching theater in Chicago, Florida, and elsewhere.

Anna in Santorini
              In love with Santorini, as you do.

At age 30, I was a little heart-bruised and eager for new chapter in this biography (because settling is for REAL grownups, not make-believe ones). I sold off most of my belongings, quit my job, and moved to New York City. And here I’ve been headquartered for the last five years, riding the high high HIGHS and low low LOWS of this insane, messy, glorious, mixed-up basket-case of a town.

To a lot of people, my job now is quite glamorous. I work in the art department for film and television, helping the production designers and set decorators on a variety of productions.  I even have an IMDB page! Like everything, it is far less shiny and fancy when you actually get close-up. While I have been able to meet celebrities and watch some great artists work, I also spend many hours staring at spreadsheets and arguing with Teamsters.

However, one happy side-effect of a life in film is that every job only lasts between 4-8 months. That gives me an enormous amount of freedom and opens up the world to me in a way I had never fully appreciated before.  Granted it also means I have to hustle for work and am often broke, but let’s focus on the happy bits for now, yeah?