A Day In The Life: Pam Colby


Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Name:  Pam Colby

Age: 58

Where did you grow up? Floodwood, Minnesota (population 528) and Hanlontown, Iowa (population 226).

Where do you live? On Park Avenue, Central neighborhood, in Minneapolis.

Who do you live with? I live alone, but it’s complicated. I’m in a duplex, in the unit above me is my ex-partner and her partner and in the basement unit is our 20-year-old son and often his girlfriend. I venture to St. Paul on the weekends to stay with my girlfriend Nora.

What is your occupation? Filmmaker, storyteller, and I teach Cinema and Documentary classes at Film North. 

When did you come out? I came out 35 years ago in 1983. I was politically active, and during the AIDS epidemic, coming out became a political act. There was a slogan at the time: “Silence equals death.”

How’d that go? Coming out has been in waves, and it never ends, a life long endeavor, over and over again. I really appreciate the evolving understanding of gender and gender fluency.  

When do you wake up? 7:00 a.m., with some variation.

Phone alarm or old school alarm? Phone alarm.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Read emails on my phone, trying to break that habit.

Breakfast? Oatmeal when I have time, hardboiled egg in a hurry.  

Coffee? Tea.

Cream or no? I haven’t been doing dairy and that, along with living in Minnesota, equals low Vitamin D for me. I’m taking supplements.

How do you spend your commute? Books downloaded on my phone, or NPR.  

If your job were like a yearbook, what would you be voted? Since I would be the only one voting, I’d have to say “Best Dressed” and “Most Likely to Succeed.”

What inspires you? I’m inspired by impermanence. Things change, and as a queer person, I have seen a lot of positive change in my life.  

Do you eat your lunch while working or take a break? I take a break.

Is your work space tidy or a hot mess? Hot organized mess.

What’s been your favorite job? My current job, working for myself at Pam Colby Productions (www.pamcolby.com).  Previously, I served as the Executive Director of the Minneapolis Telecommunications Network, the public access center in Minneapolis. I loved that job as well.  

Who are your heroes? Karen Clark and Andrea Jenkins. Both are featured in my new documentary film.

Favorite weeknight meal: Go out, take out, or cook in? Cook in, tempeh, sweet potato and broccoli. One of my regular staples.

Most embarrassing moment: In high school, it happened after winning a volleyball match in a rival town. In the cloak of darkness, I led the team out of the locker room for a victory dive in their outdoor pool. I was the only one to climb the fence and dive in. The pool had been drained for the season. I was embarrassed and did need some stitches, but was very lucky and not seriously injured.  

On a usual weeknight, you are doing what? Each night is different but here is my current rotation: teaching at Film North, taking an acting class at the Guthrie, yoga, meditation at Common Ground Meditation Center and hanging with a friend when I can.

Bedtime: 11:00 p.m.

Favorite weekend activity: Spending time with my girlfriend Nora. We like to go to movies, local theatre, snowshoe, hike and kayak. On Sunday afternoons my sister Karen and I take my mom grocery shopping. I’m grateful to have my mom nearby and in good health.  

What are you most proud of and why? My sons Joah (26) and Theo (20), they are thoughtful, caring and compassionate young men.  I’m very proud that I’ve just finished a feature-length documentary that explores the impact of marriage equality on artists, activists and politicians. I serve as narrator and storyteller, www.NotinMyLifetime.info.

Words of wisdom to share: I began to meditate about ten years ago, and have become more dedicated to the practice and Buddhist teachings in the last few years. It has been very good for me. Self-compassion makes life easier. I do believe that undoing white privilege and racism is good for everyone, I try to stay aware and to work for change.

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