Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

"Invictus" - William Ernest Henley

Life, Death, and Voiceovers

It’s difficult to write this blog. 

Normally, I pick a blog subject that is right in my wheelhouse and knock it out. But this is one that I decided to talk about because the three titular topics have converged into an epicenter directly over my lap over the last fortnight. 

So…

Life Is Good

A couple of weeks ago, I was riding on cloud nine. I had just finished a really great project, our apartment was finally situated to have more than a single guest over, and I was working on several workshops that I was helping to organize. Things couldn’t be better on the homefront, and life was good.

The video game is for Sony and is due out mid-October. In order to stay within the constraints of my NDA, I will say that it is for the Playstation Move, and that’s all I can say. It was one of the most fun experiences of my career. A great director, engineer, and casting director. The material was fun and well-written, which all of us know is not the case with many projects out there. There’s not much more to say than it was one of the most fulfilling projects I’ve ever participated in, and that, dear readers, is more than enough.

Our apartment is complete. That’s quite an accomplishment. Everything that I own (that’s still worth owning) is out of storage and now has a cozy place in our digs. It’s so nice to have enough space and furniture to host a dozen people. About bloody time, I say. Talk about fulfilling. 

The workshops? Yeah, there’s been hushed whispers that I have been producing voiceover workshops in Dallas. It’s true, and so is the ‘hushed whispers’ part. There have been forces at work to try and keep my workshops from happening. I won’t go into the gruesome, petty details, but I will say that it’s ridiculous and laughable that this city has reached critical mass for voiceover coaches. *rolls eyes*

Yup, life was good just a couple of weeks ago. Then the news came…

The Death of Friends

I was sitting in the studio on June 30th, catching up with some paperwork. I, as many of you do, got bored and started eating up time on Facebook. Soon after, I saw an update that made my heart skip a beat: “this is cassandras mother. cassi has passed away,” the update to Cassi Hodges’ account read. 

The immediate denial gear kicked in, especially when hearing about a random person dying on Twitter every other day. The day before, I had read the latest rumor, which was voiceover artist Billy West, and my immediate anxiety gave way to being convinced that some wacko had hacked Cassi’s account.

Yet I sat, glued to the screen. For the next hour, the updates went from threats of violence at whomever started this cruel joke…to disbelief of fact. When more details popped up, the gravity of truth felt like a loaded punch. Cassi was gone, never to return. Never to call or chat about anime or video games again. Never to step behind a microphone and make magic with her voice again.

It tore me to shreds. My wonderful wife stood by me and cared for me all that weekend when I wanted to crawl into a corner and not speak. Thank God for my wife. She put me back together, and encouraged me enough to want to attend Cassi’s funeral. But this event was just the first one to jar our reality.

Last Monday, I found out that my regular client put the agency under review. That put a lot of questions into the future of their ad campaign, and thus, my place within that campaign. What else could happen?

The Wednesday of Cassi’s funeral arrived, and to keep my mind off the evening’s event, my wife and I went to have lunch with my Dallas best friend and his daughter. It raised my spirits and made me feel much better about going to remember Cassi. This all came to a screeching halt on the way home from lunch.

My wife got a call with news that her best friend and former roommate, Shannon, had died. I rushed home as my wife cried so hard that she could barely breathe. I hate to hear my wife sobbing and there’s nothing I can do to help. I decided to take my wife to her aunt’s house, where my in-laws and the extended family were. I sat for most of the rest of afternoon, holding my wife in my arms, wishing I could ease her suffering for even a minute.

I decided that I would not leave her side, and sent word that I would not be going to Cassi’s funeral. My grief was nothing in comparison to my wife’s. My mind drifted to how tough things were becoming.

We both made it through a very trying time, and hopefully we will heal with time. My wife and I are doing the best we can to remember our lost friends in times of joy and laughter, and I have to say, so far, so good. But now, it’s time to bring our reality back to normal.

Voiceover = Normality

So Monday morning, I’ll get back to my voiceover practice. I’ll start my day by talking to my client under review. I’ll work sessions. And I’ll answer emails. I’ll audition for about half a dozen gigs that don’t suck. I’ll text my friends and read up on the latest industry scuttlebutt. I’ll make sure that my routine doesn’t deviate from the formula that helped me achieve the goal I set on my Faffcon postcard…halfway through the year.

I’ll post some information about the workshops that I’m working on. Then I’ll check to make sure that Peter O’Connell is still my Facebook friend. And as I read the words of others, I’ll make a list of the people that I should call. Or visit. Because Facebook allows me to keep people close enough to keep tabs on them, but not be motivated to do anything else, and that’s sad and wrong. It makes me a terrible friend, and if there’s one lesson to be learned from the ordeal of the last two weeks, it’s that I need to be a better friend. And this I promise, friends.

And Peter, I promise I won’t bore you.