I have a golden Ticket... I have a golden twinkle in my eye...

A few weeks back I spoke about how when I was a kid I really loved that movie Willy Wonka.  The reason I bring it up is Camille wasn't feeling well over the Christmas vacation. An upset tummy sent my nine-year old to rest in a big fluffy bed filled with pillows and a need for stuffed animals. She asked for a couple of movies to watch and in our house one of the movies we put on when we need things to be calm is Wonka. It works on all of us. I realized something though. I was just kissing her forehead looking for a fever when a thought popped into my mind. There was a time I had actually once found my golden ticket.

At the age of 13 I was going to a little high school in Lincoln Ca, The Art teacher there saw my love and passion for art and helped me a lot. Mrs. Lohman, honestly I wish I could find her and thank her now. I have tried but I have never found anyone who knows where she went after I graduated. Half way through the year she brought me an application from a news paper about a place called Cal Arts. At the time this petrified me. I had no idea she brought me a path to find my Golden Ticket.


If you do not know it its a huge art school on the west coast near LA, it's tied to Disney in certain respects as the animation program was founded by Disney there to cultivate new animators.

She helped me build a portfolio, and talked me into getting the courage to tell my parents about the summer school, one that is an entire semester or art school rolled up into a course for high schoolers. An expensive one. The last part was a massive weight on me. *Cue the music from Wonka in the laundry shop.* Every summer I had asked to go to some type of summer program. because things were always so tight I was never able to go. The looming thought of missing out on something so big enveloped me. I was not even sure if I wanted to try to talk to them.

Putting Skin in the Game

Eventually after enough encouragement from her and from the rest of Damage I sat at the kitchen table with my mom and dad. This was back in the year before everything fell apart. The year before they would never ever recover... Dad had a legitimate job, mom was a nurse. It was a brief respite from the addiction and the waves of drama soon to come. Thinking back it was a precious time.

We filled out everything, it was heart wrenching to tell them the cost. I remember not being able to look them in the eyes. There was no internet back then so all we had then was paper, and at the bottom I had not noticed there was a box requesting financial aid applications...

My mom did. She checked it and sent everything off, the first packet that came back had a ton of questions about me, and we had to go through it, adding the data from how many children were in the house the money made etc.... Then we had to send a check for the application fee. (A check that I thought there was no way in hell would get into that envelope.)  Once again each step I was afraid it was going to crash down and dead stop. Weird thing though, despite my overwhelming fears, it didn't.

A few weeks later another letter came. One I was both in desperate need of and hopelessly in fear of. They waited to tell me it arrived until my dad was home and we opened it together.


...Full Scholarship


You know that part of Animal house where John Belushi is reacting to the horse?

Holy crap...

I am writing this part with tears in my eyes... What happened next is difficult for me to willingly remember. Not because its sad, but because its so happy. It was my dad's reaction. We went to a party celebrating me being awarded the governors art scholar award. He brought my grandma and my family because he was proud. They took pictures as I stood up with several others receiving our awards, and scholarships from the Governor. Dad may as well have gotten up and danced singing the Golden Ticket song.

He scraped the money together to give me new clothes so I wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb at the school, he borrowed my sisters nice car took me to see my grandma, and my aunts kind of celebrating what I had done, and drove me down to Los Angeles just he and I. He took me to Disneyland. The only safe place I can think of from my childhood. and let me explore the park with him however I wanted, We watched Fantasmic, only leaving the park after the fireworks. After a breakfast at a cafe the next day he took me to the dorms.

He didn't leave till I was settled and I was scared out of my mind. I had not turned fifteen yet and Iw as going through a full-blown college experience. Part of me wanted to run because Iw as so sure I didn't belong. I had never been away from my family for more than a couple of days, but here I was at Wonkas factory, surrounded by art students. Celebrating not only my favorite things in the world but being immersed in a part of my dreams. It was not easy I was the youngest person in the animation course ever. At the time I didn't see that as a compliment I saw it as a hindrance. God was I wrong.

What I found at the Chocolate factory

When the summer was over my skills had jumped so much that I was a different person. My trip to the factory had changed me. I wonder some times what would have happened if my family had not-self destructed that Christmas what things could have been like, but that's an empty worry.

I told my kids about this the other night. Parts were fun talking about Art college made both of their eyes light up. Though Camille was saddened that they do not also teach culinary arts and Marine Biology so she can't triple major. Some of it was hard and more rushed then my normal bed time pace. It's still hard to talk about Dad.

The lesson here was not that I was a kid who was afraid that our financial limitations would crush me. The lesson was that despite that fear my family helped me through it, my courage overcame my fear, and as a result I got to go to the chocolate factory, and more importantly they can too.

Damn I wonder how many times in my life I missed other golden tickets because I was shaking on the inside, or overwhelmed by the thought of what might fail. That's a dreadful thought.

It is easy to forget what it felt like to find the ticket. To hear the song. When your dealing with all the baloney that happens in life, and fighting the good fight it gets very hard to remember finding the ticket. Its easier to shake your fist at the sky and curse the gods. That curse though doesn't help you find your path to the next ticket.

Why everyone should look for their Golden Ticket:

Right now I am thinking about how great it felt to get that letter, my Golden Ticket. To hear the pride in my father's voice. I am not thinking about the fear as much. This last week I applied for a program to get new hardware for Damage on a payment schedule, I'm going to be teaching a digital art class soon, I have a Damage inc. kickstarter to keep building towards in April, a paper-doll project to make with my son, my daughter needs help with a pine derby car rally, and teach my kids how to play role-playing games


Wow it's going to be a busy spring...

It's so going to Rock, I am so going to sing that I've got a golden ticket song with Maricar and our kids in the living room now...

I'm showing Brain

When is the last time you found a golden ticket? Are you forgetting to look? Are you afraid of looking for it?