When I was a kid, my life revolved around three things: comic books, Star Wars movies, and all things Disney. It’s no exaggeration to say that I would have gladly pursued a career that allowed me to work in any of these industries.
As a kid, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I took art classes over the summer. I bought the definitive book on the subject: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, by Stan “The Man” Lee and John Buscema. But no matter how much I practiced, I remained unsatisfied with the results.
In high school, my English teacher made us write a letter, as if we were applying for our dream job. I wrote to Lucasfilm and begged George Lucas to let me pen the next series of Star Wars films (this was a good 15 years before the prequels). I never sent the letter, but I did get an A on the assignment.
As I finished my last year of college — pursuing a degree in English and communications — I decided to move to Florida after graduation. I had long dreamed of working for “The Mouse” one day, so I decided to strike off on my own and get a job at Walt Disney World. To everyone’s surprise, I did just that.
For the record, at the time I had no idea what job I wanted to do. I had heard of “Imagineers” at Disney, but I thought they were engineers and artists who created the attractions at the Disney Parks. I was a writer, not an engineer. So I decided to try for an entry-level job. (I have since learned that what I really wanted to be was a “show writer,” but that’s another story.)
After graduation, I made the trip to Orlando and spent the majority of the day in the Disney Casting Center. I filled out my application, waited, and waited some more. Finally, someone took me into a room and told me that I was overqualified for their current openings. I told them I’d take anything. At the end of the day, I had a job working on the telephones. I was ready to be a Disney castmember.
To make a long story short, life in Florida didn’t turn out so good. I lived there about six months before my savings ran out. To make an even longer story short, I ended up returning to Kansas and working at the Disney Catalog for a couple of years (yeah, the call center was in my hometown of Overland Park).
But something magical happened.
While working at the Disney Catalog, I met the woman who would one day become my wife. At the time, she was married and had a family. But more than 10 years later, we managed to connect again. She had divorced several years before, and had returned to the area to live. She gave me an instant family with two great kids. After all those years, Uncle Walt finally gave us our “happily ever after.”
I don’t know what the universe has planned for my life. As a kid, I couldn’t have imagined the journey I would take. I couldn’t imagine the directions life would lead. But I’m here now, and this is life… until our next adventure begins.