Sunday, July 22, 2007

Relative Nightmare

So last night I had a very relevant, symbolic nightmare. It was about this amazing new ride that was a fairly tame glide up to the top - but the highlight of the ride was being dangled from the very top a few hundred feet above a small, empty ceramic pool. The ride arched the crest one row at a time, and certain people could sit in these contraptions and feel somewhat secure and strapped in, but about a dozen people (one per cart) would dangle from the front of the ride from a singular pole with no harness or safety net. The ride would stop at the top, and a few seconds to a minute later, when the timing was right, the music would stop and everyone dangling would have to let go and plunge toward this empty pool - but in the last several seconds, jets of water would spray upward and ease the freefallers down into the pool, which would be full of water by the time they landed in it.

My row of twelve freefallers were among the first to ever ride this attraction (or at least I hadn't witnessed the ride before going on it myself). We were like test riders, or guinea pigs - so of course, the first time the music stopped, and everyone else let go, I was too afraid and held on, thinking I would surely die at the bottom. But as I saw the water spray catch them all, I lost my fear and let go (although because I wasn't coordinated with the spray, I had no easement into the pool so it was a bit of a rough landing). We were all supposed to ride it again, and this time I was eager to do it the right way, so we reached the top, dangling from our poles, and the music stopped and we all fell. However, this time, one person did not fall quite right, and somehow they missed the jets and survived, but ended up breaking several bones because the water was too shallow for a proper landing. By the time the rest of us reached the pool we saw the condition this person was in and every single person vomited everywhere. It was a grotesque site.

Somehow despite this, the ride was deemed a success (I think we had to try it yet again after the cleanup, and all went fine), so there was a ribbon cutting with the corporate folks, and a large rock concert with some really famous band, and an open bar with these clever Cubans mixing really special drinks for the riders. As far as I know, I was the only one looking to ease my nerves with one of their drinks, at least at the moment, and I watched a guy shout to the back about the specialty drink, and then he reached through this small window where another guy behind the scenes handed through it the most colorful, iridescent, sparkling beverage you've ever seen, complete with a pink umbrella and fruit garnish. So I indulged in this drink and in no time, it was as if all of my cares left me - my brain tingled and all I could do was look down at the hazy, empty glass and the blurry pattern on the tiled bar, and I felt completely drugged and wavering, and at ease. The front of my head tingled and I was completely relaxed for a time that only felt like a few moments, but it must have been much longer. When I came out of it, many people had left (including the band), the bartender was wiping the inside of my glass with a rag and looking at me unremorsefully, and I noticed to my right that my purse with my money and ID and everything else had been taken. To my left, I discovered someone had taken the engagement ring off of my hand. And, most embarrassingly, they had pulled down my skirt and I had been on public display the entire time I was in this hallucinogenic state.

That's where the dream ended and I woke up in the middle of the night.

Why is that relevant? Last night I came to the realization that I didn't want to go any further with my short film in its current state. Earlier this week I figured out that I had created a situation that involved a lot of rework (based on my keying of the master control during the layout phase, and now trying to block everything by deleting the master keys and redoing the actions with all the other character controls). My scene file has become so riddled with errant keys that I'm almost certain I'd rather start over rather than to try to recover this file.

I haven't had this problem in prior animations and I can't explain it, other than to say I'm in the midst of planning my wedding among other things going on - but I'm trying to figure out the best way to 'work with the now' - and a lot of me wants to take inspiration from Brad Bird taking over the Ratatouille project and redoing a lot of things from scratch. I've set myself back three weeks with this realization, and my remaining options are to plunge forward with class with a new production schedule I'll have to create, or to take a short leave of absence for the remainder of the term, and come back armed and ready for steady production. Although a LOA is tempting for mentality and financial reasons, I don't want to be disconnected completely. Having recently moved away from family and friends, the Animation Mentor community is very important to me and I feel strongly about staying connected to my peers and continuing to give and receive feedback on progress.

To me, this dream directly correlates to how I feel like I'm embarking on a career quest that is dangerous; I've never been much of a risk taker, but somehow I've launched myself into a very risky industry with so much uncertain outcome (at least on the entry level). It's an enjoyable, thrilling ride, but when you're approaching the top, it becomes necessary to let go even if a gripping fear is causing hesitation. If the timing is right, you'll land okay. But if it's too soon or too late, you could end up breaking yourself. And after taking the plunge, if you turn to the wrong kind of comfort, you could end up broke, alone, and embarrassed of yourself.

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