PART ONE: BACKGROUND
My name is Jonathan McNally Lekrib. I was born on April 19th, 1982. I was raised in Salem, Oregon. My father is Randy and my mother is Maryann Elizabeth.
What's in a name?
I was named after the protagonist in the novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach. In the novel, a bird is bored with the daily squabbles over food and spends his time mastering the art of flight instead. This unwillingness to conform to society results in his expulsion from the flock. The reason I love this book is because I identify with Jonathan. In America, people care about dumb things: property, power, popularity. But my passion is in learning; my art is philosophy. Unfortunately, this puts me at odds with my peers who believe I should get a normal job so I can have a big house.
My middle name comes from the map maker Rand McNally. Because my parents had a passion for traveling, they instilled in me the desire to explore new places and learn about different cultures and languages.
To respect the privacy of my family, I have decided to omit my last name from this story. Thus, my real last name, ______, means bar tender (my family has a rich German history associated with wine). It's also associated with the birch tree. This is important because I reference these symbols when referring to myself in my stories.
I was named after the protagonist in the novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
The pseudonym that I have used since childhood is Lekrib. In French it means "fence for babies" and is associated with the Greek god Apollo (whose name means "fence for people"). Apollo is the god associated with creating societies... but he's also the god associated with the fall of civilization (Rev. 9:11).
A house of boys
I have three brothers: Jason, Judson, and Jamesen. No sisters. This environment helped shape many of my attitudes regarding gender: Girls are from Venus; boys are from Earth.
My brother Jason is a year younger than me. For this reason, he is featured in most of my earlier movies and plays a key role in my stories. As children, we were best friends but only as long as there was a clear separation between his property and mine. Today Jason works as a podiatrist (a foot doctor).
For a while, Jason was a model. (Pictures taken by Adam Grimshaw.)
A media centered home
My father loved watching movies. For this reason, when I was young, he bought a VHS camcorder and filmed much our childhood. This is relevant because, unlike today, when most people have a camera in their pocket, back then, people were not use to being on film. This access to the media helped differentiate me from my peers. It changed the way I viewed the world and myself.
My first experience with film occurred when I was four years old. Three Little Pigs (1986) was directed by my father.
A Christian centered home
I was raised in a Christian home. My family and I were active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).
Mormonism is not a passive religion. I went to church every Sunday. I lived according to a strict moral code. I did not date until I was 16, and I was only suppose to date girls who were Mormon, like me.
Both Christianity and Hollywood fought for the center position in our household. Thus, when stripping away the layers of conflict, our home was centered on storytelling, old and new.
Not a Typical Child
At an early age, my teachers recognized that I was different. In the first grade, a specialist came to our school to test me for the Talented and Gifted program (TAG). I scored 99% on the test and was accepted in to a special school.
A year later, my family moved to Salem and my second grade teacher recognized my gifts as well. In one class the teacher asked us to color a picture of a Tyrannosaurus rex. While all the other students colored their dinosaurs brown, like the teacher's, I colored mine purple. When the teacher asked for an explanation, I told her that no human has ever seen a dinosaur. Therefore, we don’t know what color they are. However, the T-Rex is the king of the dinosaurs and purple is the color of royalty. Therefore, the T-Rex was, probably, purple.
A sketch of a deer. Drawn when I was ten years old.
The teacher had me tested for TAG, again, and I scored 100%. Then, I was told by the analyst that I do not think as other children think. I do not view the world as other people view the world. Because of this, I would probably be misunderstood in life and made fun of, but when I grow up, I might be able to solve problems that other people cannot solve.
Sometimes, I have dreams...
As early as I can remember, I have had a recurring dream about a girl with purple hair. Because I did not know her name, I called her Violet. I referred to her as my mother, but she was not my mother, she was more like the sister I never had.
In the dream, Violet and I are in a white field. There is a red line on the ground and all the people of Earth are dividing themselves and relocating to one of the two sides. Violet and I want to stay together, but we believe that we can’t. In order to preserve the human race, we had to separate on each side of the line. However, as we parted, we look back at each other, and that's where the dream always ends.
In the Bible, prophets have dreams that predict the future. In psychology, dreams can be interpreted to better understand underlying issues in a person's life. But sometimes, a dream is just a dream. Once, I tried talking about my dream in Sunday school, but everyone laughed at me.
Nonetheless, what struck me about the Violet dream was that it kept reoccurred throughout my life, as though my subconscious was trying to tell me something. But I learned at a young age to keep those thoughts to myself.
This is a picture of Violet that I drew in high school. She has no mouth because we communicated through thought.
As a child, I was fascinated by dinosaurs. My wish was to become a paleontologist, but that changed when I was eleven years old.
In 1993, Jurassic Park was released in theaters across America. At the time, I was entering puberty and my perspective of the world was changing. It was while watching the Jewish puppet master Steven Spielberg that I realized, I didn't really want to dig in the dirt for old bones. I wanted to travel back in time and ride dinosaurs.
After much consideration I realized that my passion was not in paleontology at all, but instory telling. I realized that even though I could never, really, ride a dinosaur, through the entertainment industry, I could make it appear as though I did. This realization changed everything.
A passion for moviemaking
At the age of eleven, I began writing scripts and directing movies. I used the family VHS camcorder. The actors were me, my brothers, and my church friends. The location was my back yard.
My first movie was Time Head. It's about three boys who find a decapitated head in a tree and realize the head has the power to send the boys back in time.
Today, it is not uncommon for an adolescent to play with cameras and editing equipment, but in the early '90s, it was unusual.
Time Head (1993) was the first movie I ever made.
When I told my church bishop that I wanted to be a movie director he told me I couldn’t. Bishop Frank said that Hollywood was controlled by a group of people who do not live according to Christian standards. If I chose the entertainment industry, I would be required to abandon my moral practices to make the films that producers wanted me to make.
Bishop Frank said, Hollywood tells stories in movie theaters. Christians tell stories in church. So long as this separation exists, I should avoid watching Hollywood movies, and I was forbidden from becoming a filmmaker.
My observations of Hollywood supported my bishop’s beliefs. In the '80s and '90s, movies were full of foul language, violence, drugs, and sex. At the time, I did not understand why Hollywood did not censor their stories.
However, because my love for moviemaking persisted, I decided to make it a hobby until I discovered a different occupation that I was passionate about.
This clip from E.T. (1993) is a clear example of content that might be found in a Hollywood story but would not be found in a Christian story.
Girls are from Venus
Mormons believe that one requirement to enter heaven is that one must be married. Furthermore, your spouse must be of the opposite sex. Personally, I’ve never had the desire for marriage, but I wanted to get into heaven. Therefore, I knew I had to get married.
My main problem with finding a female companion was that girls were not passionate about moviemaking. In the '90s (before cell phones and YouTube), most girls were embarrassed to be on camera. I concluded that moviemaking was a boy thing, like football and chess. If I was ever going to get married, I had to accept women and their differences.
The Lunchbox Puzzle
In the fifth grade, my teacher gave my class an assignment where we had to create a puzzle (like a crossword or a word search) and put it in a special container. Then we drew each other’s names and solve our partner’s puzzle.
I was excited about the project but I didn't know which puzzle to make. Therefore, I made them all. I created 14 challenges. When solved, each challenge revealed a letter and the letters combined to reveal the answer.
I stuck the challenges in a Wuzzles Lunchbox. The Wuzzles was the first animated television show created by Disney. It featured hybrid cartoon animals.
On the day of the activity, my friend Wendy drew my name, but she couldn't solve the puzzle because it was too complicated. As other students finished their puzzles, they helped Wendy until, eventually, the whole class was working on my puzzle. In the end, they could not solve it before school ended. Therefore, the teacher made me tell everyone the answer: WUZZLES ARE COOL.
This experience is relevant to my story because it demonstrates my love of puzzles and riddles, which was a prerequisite to understanding the writing method used to create the Bible.
The Wuzzles is the first animated television show created by Disney. It features hybrid cartoon animals. The show is about an island where things get mix which are not usually mixed.
A deal with God
When I was 15 years old, I was taken to the doctor because my legs were swelling with fluid. At first, the doctors thought I had lupus and that my body was attacking my kidneys. The doctor said that unless they stabilize the threat, I had less than one month to live.
Later, in the hospital, as I thought of the possibility of death, I felt sad because it seemed that I had not lived my life to its full potential. I was a good Christian. I followed the rules. But I had not done anything worth remembering. So, that night I prayed to God and made Him a deal. I said that if He lets me live, then in the future, after I die, when I meet him at the pearly gates, I will come with a good story to tell Him.
The next day, the doctors discovered that I had Minimal Change Disease. They stabilized the threat, and I was able to continue my life. But I never forgot about my promise to God. From that day forward, I tried to live a life that was worth talking about.
Minimal Change Disease is a kidney disorder in which large amounts of protein is lost from the body. The disease gets its name from the fact the unhealthy kidney cannot be distinguished from a healthy kidney when viewed under a normal microscope (the difference between the two kidneys seems minimal).
The near death experience changed who I was, as a person. I was no longer burdened by the dumb things that most teenagers are worried about. I decided that I was going to live my life as though I was in a movie, and I had to make the movie worth watching.
To continue my story, click here.