One of my favorite quotes from “Doctor Who” is “wibbly wobbly timey wimey.” There is no way I can explain it properly. It always pops into my head when I think about the future. My future, always seemed clear when I was a teenager; I would work in television, it was that simple. I didn’t know in what capacity, but I knew I would end up in TV somewhere.
When I started playing around with TV stuff, I had great teachers. Smart people who helped influence my direction. Having a purpose and a sense of direction isn’t easy when you’re a teenager. The daily teen-angst can be overwhelming. Everyday presented newly discovered end of the world drama. Through these great academic minds, I still found my focus.
When I entered junior high in upstate New York, I found the Cortland Video Club. A program ran by the school district. They had their own television channel on the cable system. The club was ran by only one man, Jim Forshee, it was his entire life and he loved it. Jim, quite naturally, was a former engineer. Back in the late 70’s he was handed a bunch of TV stuff and told to make something out of it for the school, and thus the program was born. Jim taught all the TV classes, they were fun, creative, and held the line on the importance of TV.
For a turbo television geek like me this was heaven. I spent all of my free time there, soaking up as much as I could. Sports were the focus of programming for the channel. We would broadcast live football games every Friday night. Basketball season brought the same schedule. We also covered: volleyball, softball, gymnastics, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey. As I developed my skills behind the scenes, I learned the more you knew the more valuable you were. Jim told me that almost everyday. It was the most important lesson he ever taught me. I took that nugget and ran with it. I would shoot, edit, direct, technical direct, and even call the games.
Certain games were sacred. Only the best could anchor football. I generally ran audio or did camera on those nights. That was fine by me, there was a lot of pressure on football nights. I just wanted to blend in the background. I learned a lot by doing so too. I was usually given the commentary jobs no one wanted. I would handle girls’ basketball, softball, volleyball, gymnastics, and field hockey. I was around the age of 15 when I started doing more commentary. I was a TV geek, not a sports freak. I had no clue what I was doing up there, but it was still fun. I tried to be cool when I was on air, but that got away from me pretty quickly.
I spent about two years doing CVC. Then I moved to New Hampshire. I was sad to leave it behind, but life got in the way. My folks had gotten divorced and I needed to live with my Dad, who had a good job waiting for him in New Hampshire. This was the fork in the road in my life, the tricky “timey wimey” moment that set me on the life I live today.
When I talk about teachers who helped mold me, my dad is number one. He encouraged me to go after the things I wanted. He told me “find something you love doing and make it your career.” The school in New Hampshire had little to no video program. I came in and submerged myself in all that they had. Once again I built my schooling around what I could do with video. It was a smaller school so being “the video guy” made me stand.
The school wasn’t exactly what set me on my path though; it was my chemistry partner. The very first hour, on day one, I walked in to Mrs. Hopkins chemistry class and met my new chemistry partner. The blonde girl in flannel was my entire future, and I was clueless. We became friends quickly. For a while she was my only friend. She introduced me to others and soon I made more friends. She was a senior and I was a junior. At the time, I didn’t really look at her in a romantic way. She thought I was funny and she made me laugh too.
She graduated and enrolled in Lyndon State College in Vermont, under protest. Her mother had fantasies of everyone singing atop the green mountains like the Vonn Trapp family. So off she went, planning on a career in education. She was a brilliant writer with an exceptional command of the English language.
She discovered the education classes didn’t jive with her. She never saw eye to eye with the teachers. While looking for other options, she discovered the schools Emmy-award winning TV. She met with some of the teachers and quickly changed majors.
Back in New Hampshire, I was trying to decide if college was in my future. Boston was only an hour away, and Emerson College was looking good. Sadly, Emerson didn’t want me. Next in line was the University of New Hampshire, who also didn’t want me until I took a math class. So I started a general math class at UNH, while I sold shoes at Red’s Shoe Barn. I was stuck, out of high school, big dreams and nowhere to go. My plan was to keep knocking at Emerson’s door.
My old chemistry partner sent me an email talking about this impressive TV program in Vermont. My dad and I took a trip up to check it out. To both of our amazement, this was it. This program was everything I had been looking. Finally, the clarity I had been hoping for!
Through Lyndon I worked with teachers who held great influence over me. Brilliant minds that knew how to reach me, I had a jumble of knowledge collected over a combined 6 years of jr. and sr. high school, and they put it all right.
Meanwhile, I discovered my chemistry partner was meant to be a life partner. After all these years still giving me the best advice. Where would I be without her? What kind of a life would I be living?
Since graduating, I have worked in TV for 8 years. So now what? TV is becoming a dinosaur. I still love it, but just not as much when I was 15. I am not exactly thrilled with where I see TV going. What does my future hold? Where can I go? My gut tells me its time to give back and become the type of teacher that guided me to where I am today. Do I go to high school, or college? Will I even like teaching? I have always felt, you need to have a plan. So far, I have always had one. I turn 30 this year, and I am ready for a change. I could go back and teach in Vermont, but I don’t want to live there. So it’s up to me to define my voice and figure out what’s next.