screen time

I have weird eyes -- "Barkey Eyes," I'm told -- that are kinda slanty on the side.  Although I'm unaware of any Asian influence in my lineage, a quick Facebook search reveals some Filipino-esque Barkeys. I wonder if there was some crossover I'd missed, but it doesn't matter because my eyes still feel weird. There's this faint tugging at the corners, like they're tired of all this screen time I'm subjecting them to; so I turn off the computer, pull out a pad and pen, and start writing all this down.

How do people handle it -- this all-day computer-staring? And how did I get myself into this?

After college, the former School Year Book Editor, Josh Dunford, offered me a job with his fledgling design company Burnkit if only I would learned the Adobe Design Suite and I said, "No thanks. I don't wanna look at a computer screen all day. I'm going to Nicaragua to save the world with agriculture-based community development, speak Spanish, and take weekend trips to the beach."

I drove off south in my peeling-paint Jetta, pleased that unlike most people, I had some real direction right out of college.

In Dallas, when my car broke down and I got the word that the clowns responsible for fundraising for the Nicaragua thing had dropped the ball, a brilliant artist-guy I knew offered to show me the Adobe ropes -- teach me Photoshop and Illustrator and all that -- and I said "No, thanks. I don't wanna stare at a computer screen all day. And besides, Dallas is pretty much a fiery, soul-less curse word, so I'm just gonna get this car fixed and roll off down the road and figure it all out, later."

It's later, now. 

I've been married, procreated, and divorced. I've done forming, framing, fireplace installation, and "background atmospheric performance" for film and television. I've mucked out horse stalls, fed chickens, served explosively caloric food to overweight Canadians and Americans, and foremanned and supervised treeplanting crews and camps across Canada. I've reclaimed oil sites, taught Art and Photography to high schoolers, and generally done anything I could to not spend all day looking at a computer screen.

But here I am, years later, spending my days looking at a computer screen. I'm writing and rewriting film scripts and hoping that someone, somewhere is gonna buy one -- that the years I've invested in my mind and craft will pay off with a career in the most exclusive writing club there is: professional screenwriting.

And did I mention that my eyes feel weird?

Dunford built Burnkit into a design-industry powerhouse and became a bajillionaire, I've got plenty of friends banging out the big bucks doing freelance computer stuff with the skills I didn't learn in Dallas, and here I am: thirty-three years old, writing another blog post down on paper that I'm just going to have to go back to the computer to type up. Another hour spent staring at a computer screen, hoping somebody'll notice my work and pay me for it before the money runs out.

That's some kinda irony there, Barkey.


I wonder if there's a film script in that.


  1. Yes, there is a screenplay there, a 21st century On The Road.

  2. There are some eerie parallels to my own life in there. Replace Nicaragua with Cuba, Dallas with DC, a peeling paint Jetta with an old Triumph Bonneville, and Adobe with wireless mesh networking protocols.

    There's something off about our generation, or our generation-in-between-generations. I'm glad I'm not the only who sees the irony in where our paths have taken us. Teaching robotics to kids in rural Cuba, somehow, still makes way more obvious sense to me than working for the Canadian Federales writing media copy all day. The only thing they have in common is that neither of them pay nearly as well as what my mesh-networking-tech-policy brethren have gone on to make in DC. That shouldn't matter, should it?

    Hope you and the clan are well.

  3. I've not read ON THE ROAD, Mark, but since the MASTER Walter Salles just filmed the movie, perhaps I can watch, absorb, and bang out my own iteration.

    Steven... 'tis true. Are we a generation of failed idealists? I don't know. It feels sort of dirty that my Great Plan to get back to the ideals I set aside for family and stability is hollywood screenwriting, but who knows? Sometimes good presents do come in overly-glittering packages.


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