Having a Bad Day? It’s all a matter of perspective.
I was talking with a friend yesterday and relaying a traumatic experience where I was stalked, robbed and severely beaten while traveling overseas. I knew the attacker and was able to provide photos, passport number and personal information to the authorities, but he fled the country before the police were able to apprehend him. That happened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 28th, 2009. Over a year has passed and I’ve pretty much gotten over the incident with the unfortunate exception of permanent hearing loss due to ruptured ear drums.
As I told the story, there was quiet attentiveness on the other end of the line. When my friend finally spoke it was to compliment me on how well I had recovered from the ordeal.
Sure, I’m a survivor and always will be.
In the past whenever something bad happened I would make an effort to find the good in the situation. I’m sure that sounds ridiculously trivial since in this particular case I was fortunate just to actually be alive, but… in the interest of my emotional and spiritual well-being I considered it a necessity. I decided to turn the experience into a project where I would share my story with a group of creative individuals and we would work together to find a happy ending.
I’ve been immersed in the entertainment industry for over 20 years and when I returned home from SE Asia and shared the news of my perilous adventure, friends and colleagues encouraged me write the story which they considered to be Oscar-winning material. Also, I felt compelled to warn women about the dangers of being swept away by seemingly harmless and charming men. After all, I’m an intelligent and insightful woman, if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. My ego was bruised and my heart broken but I was lucky my injuries weren’t fatal and I had the chance to move forward with my life.
That’s how Noni’s Happy Ending came about.
It’s a true story and one that I could never have imagined (Even as a creative writer and filmmaker.) I spent the next 12 months researching, reading and immersing myself completely into transmedia (cross-platform) or ARG (Augmented Reality Gaming) entertainment. With a limited knowledge of Dreamweaver ® and stubborn determination, I created a mock-up of a website for the purpose of attracting a team to produce the project. I wanted to do something that had never been done before. I would invite people to manipulate my story and send me on an adventure to find an ending that even Hollywood would love.
I got overwhelmed at times… there were mountains of information to absorb and an ever-expanding world of social media sites and game jargon to master. The first step was to create a character (Brand) to represent myself. I’m fortunate to know Martha, a wonderfully talented artist in Venice CA who knew me well and came up with a logo and concept that truly captured the essence of my personality. I’d always loved her work and knew she was the right person for the job.
As for the name, Noni… well there’s a bit of a story attached to that.
I became a grandmother at a very young age and couldn’t face the prospect of being called, Granny or Grandma or Nana… wrinkly, gray-haired, hunched-over images pass through my mind at the sound of those names… I was far from fitting that description. I did some digging on the internet and found that in some European countries, Noni was often used. Noni… I liked the sound of that. No one need know what it meant and my cover would not be blown. To this day, when I am out with my wee ones, I’m usually mistaken for their mother and am greeted with shocked disbelief when they discover I’m a generation past that.
There’s no debating; I’m not your typical grandmother.
For that matter, I’m not your typical mother either. Born and raised on the west coast of Canada, I moved to California in 1995 to continue pursuing my career in film and television. I spent 13 years living by the beach in Venice and working at a variety of jobs including producer, technical director and freelance camera operator. I grew tired of the toxic grind in LA and was ready to broaden my horizons by heading overseas to establish myself in the UAE as a producer for film.
Unfortunately the industry was in its infancy and not established enough to support my dreams of making features. Without the ability to speak Arabic, I was limited as to the projects or positions I could fill. On a more positive note, the geographic location of Dubai opened a whole world of travel possibilities for me so I took advantage of the opportunity and hit the road. Besides touring through some Middle Eastern countries, I visited Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore then Europe.
I’ll save those details for later, but wanted to place things in context since I am now back in Canada close to my family and an ever-expanding roster of grand kids. (Six of them ranging from a few months to 13 years old) I love hanging out with them and it melts my heart to hear them call me Noni!
So… getting back to my conversation of yesterday…
I always worry about focusing on the turmoil in the past and giving it power over my emotions. People often compliment me on my cheery attitude and the way I chose to recover from my mishap by turning it into something entertaining for others. Hey, if we can’t laugh at ourselves who can we laugh at? I feel blessed to have the chance to explore the adventure from a creative point of view. Even writing this now, I am trying to stay open and honest while not bowing to the ugly power that could easily consume my humor.
As far as I can figure, there’s nothing left for me to lose. I lost a loved one, my hearing, my suitcases (containing all my clothes and personal possessions) my money and my security. Thankfully I regained that security with the help of some amazing friends (Special thanks to Art Young) and I discovered that the most important things in life can never be taken. I still have; my pride, my dignity, my memories, my intelligence and most importantly, my friends and family.
Things that used to annoy or upset me no longer have consequence. I’ve been given a second chance at life and intend to take full advantage of it. When I was 7 years old, Canada celebrated its 100th birthday and I made the decision to live until 107 to participate in the bi-centennial. That may seem a lofty goal to some but it’s one I feel confident in reaching. Heck, I’m almost half way there! I intend to make the next 57 years count more than the first 50 by living each moment to the fullest.
This morning I left the house excited to attend Emma’s (#3 Grand child) sport day at school. I had my camera slung over my shoulder and hot tea with lemon in my travel mug. I opened the door to my car and was immediately struck with a sense that something was wrong. The contents of my glove box were strewn on the seat, $20 mad money normally kept in the ashtray was gone and cup full of change emptied as well. My seat was pushed back way too far (must have been a tall thief) and the cover for the fuse box lay at my feet. A wave of violation swept over me then subsided just as quickly.
Hey, it could have been worse!
I decided to wait until later to notify the police (I would dial the non-emergency number to report the incident. It seemed important that the local RCMP knew about criminal activity in our quiet little neighborhood) because I had an important date to keep.
I started the car, put on my shades (the sun was finally making an appearance) and headed off. Nothing was going to keep me from the fun of Sports Day!