Chapter 97: “Promises of Pardon”
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Just when I thought that my creative juices had evaporated, I discovered yet another outlet. I was evolving into an allegorical electrician, and at the same time, a fundamental change in my health insurance threatened the fragile layer surrounding my internal wiring.
Eastern Maine Medical Center changed their insurance providers so they wouldn’t have to pay as much of the frontloaded costs. The new company offered a $1,000 “Choice Fund” at the start of each year ($2,000 for families). This ostensibly optimistic offering paid one hundred percent of any bills up front, and after, it was exhausted, then the policyholder would pay one hundred percent until their deductible was met. Then, and only if the person spent past their deductible, the insurance company would pay the expected eighty percent.
Most people benefited from such an adjustment, but for people with costly pre-existing conditions (myself, for example), the bills amassed into a never-ending tower of debt. With every appointment I scheduled to tick off another hypochondriac trepidation, I added to the overwhelming red in my ledger. I began to second-guess myself at every turn and was forced to consult my old oncologists with generic health questions (instead of paying my Primary Care Provider) to abate my anxiety.
I tried to ease my valetudinarian brain waves by diving deeper into film projects. Luckily, this spring semester I had enrolled in an Audio for Video class. I was always fascinated with the creation of Foley audio in films. Foley artists are the people who create sound effects for nearly every audible element in films, from punching, neck cracking, thunderstorms, and millions more. It’s an art form that was bleeding out at the bloody hand of surmounting digital libraries of canned audio files, but that new iterative could never hold a candle to the old-fashioned way.
One of our first classes was to create our own library of files using common household items and vegetables in our school’s television studio. I had never had so much fun with vegetables in all of my life– and I LOVE them. In an alternate timeline, I could easily see myself encroaching into this exclusive profession.
By the time my yearly check-up had rolled around in August, I had already emptied my Choice Fund and was well into my “No Choice Fund.” And to make matters fiscally worse, this was yet another year of the bi-annual echocardiogram to evaluate my heart.
I knew my heart was healthy (the results reassured me every time), but the fear perpetuated because of what the doctors told me all the way back those formative years ago: “Chemotherapy weakens the heart.” Still, my heart was aching for more passion in my work, and I asked Brandon if there was anything I could do on his short film. He didn’t need any help with the making of it, but he did need an actor for a crucial part at the end of his short film, Promises of Pardon.
Now, let’s be clear: I wasn’t an actor. I did one high school play with a dozen or so lines, and even those were hard for me to memorize. My lack of experience, however, didn’t restrict me from saying “yes” immediately. I was so hungry for any part in a short film’s production that I would have wiped the sweat off of their brows if it meant I could be on set.
I needed a suit, so I used the brown suit from “Cyanide Surprise” which was around two sizes too small at this point. When I arrived, I was given the script, and I began to attempt to remember the lines as the guys set up the first shot. Brandon, Jim, and Spencer (again, the “New Triplets”) were the leads of the production as writer/director, Cinematographer, and Gaffer respectively. Our friends, Conner and Stew, had been helping them (with the latter acting as well). My nerves got to me, and as we began to film my scene, I kept flubbing up the lines. When I performed in a Guttersnipes video, I had a knack to do okay on the first take, then get progressively worse for about a dozen takes, and eventually, get it right.
This was the case on this day. I made small strides over time, and finally, we nailed the scene. Even when we went from different angles, I still unearthed a few sticking points where I fumbled.
At the end of the shoot, I had this great part in an even better short film, and I could not be more proud of the team.
Pardon brought Brandon and me closer, and we discussed The Guttersnipes again. We both missed it, and when we would mention it to the other guys, they all missed it too. We wanted to tackle the project that we were supposed to shoot the night we shot “Sex-Ed for the Sexually Immature.” We gathered the guys, and signed out one of the audio studios at NESCom for a night and voilá, “Six in the Chamber” was born.
This project was an absolute blast, and we had our first meeting in months to discuss other potential video ideas. It’s funny how even the loudest, nastiest fights between good friends can be water under a future bridge. Huh, I suppose we “pardoned” each other.
Promises of Pardon was a wonderfully alliterative title. Since it also worked so well for the Guttersnipes Gang, I mused on how it could pertain to my own life. I thought that when I survived Leukemia that I would be able to live a comfortable existence, but as the years went on, my medical trauma left scars – both emotional and physical – that cost me precious moments of happiness.
Then, I realized comfort isn’t always happiness. I wasn’t guaranteed an easy life after my ailment, only one filled with a new perspective, however long that may have been.
But here I was, healthy so far, living in 2012.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.