This is the Life of a Redhead

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Family Musings

A rough draft of a short, personal essay. Currently untitled.

The family is enjoying this Pixar thing too much.
It’s my favorite studio, the home of my dream job: animation coordinator, or production supervisor, or assistant director. Really, the logistics are not as important as the prospect of working at that studio. So far, in my college days, I’ve submitted five internship applications in four years. Every summer of my studies and one spring. There are countless possibilities for Google searches from potential bosses, so I constantly look myself up on the internet, wincing at embarrassing information and urging people to click what is important. Never once have I gotten an interview, not even a halfhearted phone call from a recruiter.
I’ve been convinced that Pixar has ignored me. My existence to them could be no more important than the presence of a mosquito in the bedroom; a nuisance, if anything. Because I had written my life off to the minds of the Pixar creative team, I was shocked when they unveiled the new lead character for their 2012 release, Brave. Princess Merida's head is full of frizzy red curls. It’s my hair circa Birth – 2010.  I’m astonished by the hair choice not because of the likeness—no, her head is too round. She doesn’t have my cheekbones—but because of the difficulties a 3D animator has to go through to animate hair. Fiber effects, dynamics, ray tracing. All this at a level beyond my slightly-above-basic understanding of computer graphics.
            Uncle Randy starts an email sent to all the Reizmans. “OH – MY – GOD. It’s Renee!” He does not accent my name. My father jumps on board. My other uncle does, too. All three Reizman brothers send me different emails, all encouraging me to send headshots to Disney-Pixar. My theatre experience and distinct looks could land me the role of Princess Merida in Disney Land parades. I’m moving to Los Angeles anyways. I shake my head and file away the emails in my “important stuff” folder, which is more intended for amusing exchanges and not pressing conversations. I’m not beautiful in the Disney Princess way. I don’t send any headshots.
            The frenzy continues to phone calls. My father is discussing logistics of my stolen car. We talk about buying a new one. He suggests a PT Cruiser. I say that I only want on in purple. He, my father, suggests blue. I say purple again. We find one in South Carolina, surprisingly affordable, and only two hours away form Atlanta. My dog growls and interrupts my father’s train of thought. He drops the subject and talks about Pixar.
            He tells me to send in my headshots.
            I scoff.
            My mother starts screaming in the background.
            “They stole your likeness!”
            She talks about me applying to Pixar three times. She doesn’t know it was five. She says that they have found me on Google and they stole my appearance to make this character. I try to point out the rounded face, the lack of defined cheekbones. There are thousands—millions?—of redheaded, curly haired women in this world. I’m not the blueprint.
            “Call Steven Spielberg!”
            The obsession with Spielberg started in 2006. In that year, my mother left a greeting card on my desk chair. His phone number was inside. She claims that she found his phone number and address on Google. She hadn’t been taking her medicine. I never called the number. It is now 2011 and she still asks me to call Spielberg and request a job. I don’t think she recovered.
            My father is sitting calmly in his recliner chair with the dog on his lap. He is trying to cover the phone with one hand as he mouths to my mother to shut up. I cannot see this, but this is the scene witnessed from home with my brother in the position that I’m in now. The family is stuck in a recursive loop. I think about the endless fights I try to start with potential and previous significant others and I feel sad. I try not to think about ending up like my parents.
            Spielberg. Lawsuit. They stole your likeness!
            My father wrestles for the phone. The call ends abruptly.
            The dream of working at Pixar, which has floated in my brain since I was 17, is slowly diminishing. It wanes while my phone remains silent after an application is sent. It circulates slowly, dully, after days of eagerly checking my email, searching for a follow up to the automated “thank you for applying to Pixar,” and the blood flow stops when I get the cold feeling in my chest when the equally lifeless rejection appears in my inbox, months later, like clockwork.
My mother’s hysterical voice distorts the fantasy and makes me dread the possibility of working at the studio. I imagine myself coming into work every morning with my mother’s words imprinted in the back of my mind, threatening the artists, urging me to call Spielberg and call for justice. I would not be able to face my coworkers, knowing that my dream job has been associated with my mother’s mental illness. The fantasy becomes tarnished, just as so many other things I have strived for, by my mother’s paranoia and criticism.
So I grimly search for a new direction, half-heartedly, with passion unequaled by that I felt for the dream job at Pixar. I awaken other passions. They come slowly, and I have to nudge them out of my heart, but I raise them with determination and shelter them from the consciousness of my family. 

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