“Somehow I’m leading someone else’s life.” Man, I couldn’t find more fitting lyrics if I tried. I’m still waiting to wake up from this dream, because it can’t be real, can it?! I’ve gotten the green light from my boss Ken, the showrunner, to talk about my new gig to my heart’s content so long as I omit any plot/story details, so here’s the skinny, kids: I went from writing assistant to contributing writer to THE writer of the pilot episode that we’ll be pitching to certain networks and production companies. WHEEEEEE!
My career has gotten a lightspeed boost I never imagined. Okay, so I’m wildly inventive and ever-so-slightly narcissistic when it comes to writing, so maybe I did dare to imagine it, but I never actually expected it to happen. Not this fast. This project I’m working on is so enthralling, I spend nearly all my time researching and learning more about the world we’re writing about, and I’m more invigorated than I’ve ever been. I don’t even want to sleep at night because I want to keep working, learning, exploring, interviewing! “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Touché, Confucius.
I’ve been in Los Angeles for 30 days, and I’ve accomplished more than I expected to in a year. Is this real life?! To be honest, the odds are stacked against us. It’s terribly difficult to get a show picked up. Worst case scenario, I got an amazing experience and an invaluable networking opportunity out of this. But, ever the optimist, I have a really good feeling about this one. The story is so unique and compelling, and the contacts that my boss and his partners have are just insane. Ken is such an amazing character, he’s both endlessly fascinating and frequently frustrating to those around him. For some reason, I’m incredibly patient with people like him, so I just adore him and all his oddball quirks. He has Asperger’s, so it’s a total rollercoaster to be around him, but I get such a kick out of the guy. Together, breaking out the story and developing the characters, we make an excellent team. He made a totally weird request today, though: he doesn’t want me to wear dresses or make-up anymore to our meetings. He says that if I look more like a boy, he’ll be more comfortable discussing and breaking down the sensitive nature of our subject matter.
Now, here’s the thing: I love dresses. But not nearly as much as I love make-up. I friggin’ LOVE make-up. My stepmom bought me the most bitchin’ lipstick sampler from Sephora for Christmas and it gave me the squees. It’s not that I can’t be seen without “my face” on. I go out all the time without make-up. I just really, really love the stuff. Even if I know I’ll be home alone all day, I’ll still put my face on just because I enjoy it. What I mean is that it’s not for anyone else, it’s for me. You guys think I look like Shrek without it? Take a flying leap and use your opinion to cushion the fall, I don’t care. I put it on because I enjoy the routine, and who doesn’t like having your best features played up and your flaws played down? That’s just plain old-fashioned good sense. Sure, my relationship with make-up may be rooted in some weird mommy issues (my mom forced me to start wearing make-up way early, and she’s so obsessed that she, honest to gods, puts make-up on before bed in case there’s an emergency in the middle of the night. How her skin hasn’t worn off Queen Elizabeth style, I have no clue.), so it makes the fact that I’m being specifically requested to not wear make-up even harder to swallow.
At first, I was a little offended, like it was some sort of judgment that a writer can’t look too put together (because, let’s be honest, most of us rock jeans that could do with a wash and crappy t-shirts). Then it seemed like maybe he was implying that a woman can’t be taken as seriously as a writer, so toning that feminine look down would make me more legitimate. And THEN, I snapped out of my cultural-feminist bullshit and realized that Ken’s oddball request was to be taken at face value and nothing more: no innuendo, no hidden agenda or message. Just an honest to goodness Aspy statement that developing our story will be easier for him if he doesn’t feel like I’m a woman who will be offended by the things we have to write about.
So, going forward, I’ll be rocking the Lesbo Chic look: loose shirts, jeans, blazer, sneakers, glasses, messy hair. I’ll be what Liz Lemon would look like in real life.
So, confession time: just typing that little blurb above about my mom washed the smile right off my face. She and I have had a major, major falling out, the worst one to date (and trust me, there have been some doozies). Part of me feels like a bad person, or an icy bitch, or an emotionally retarded sociopath, because I should be worrying myself into premature greys over the total breakdown of my relationship with my mother, but I can’t bring myself to agonize over it any more. I’ve been dealing with this for over ten years, and I’m drained. The woman has emotionally exhausted me. Over the past week, I’ve really started to come to terms with the depths of my mother’s trauma and her ensuing mental illness, and recognizing its effect on my life and my psyche has been like getting a decoder ring to my life. Luckily she doesn’t read this blog, because if she ever knew that I’d revealed family confidences publicly, she’d disown me for good (as opposed to the temporary disownment we’re currently in the midst of). But here’s the way I look at it: this blog hasn’t become the whimsical outlet for funny little adventures I thought it would be. It’s a living document that’s a record of my experience, good and bad, and this happens to be a milestone. To leave it out would cheapen this exercise for me, make me feel like I’m hiding from my own life. And if there’s one thing you can’t accuse me of, it’s an aversion to confrontation.
But I don’t want to write entire posts about that…not yet anyway. When I was telling my boss about this little catastrophe, he was giddy and told me to use it as a tool to give my writing depth and emotional scope. FALSE. You know why I want to be a television writer? It’s not because of the paychecks, or the success, or any of that. It’s because I want to make people laugh. I want to make it easier for other people to get through their own lives by providing a little ray of sunshine. What better way to reach out and make people laugh than through a weekly infusion of giggles? I know that the one thing that’s consistently gotten me through my years of emotional and mental abuse has been comedy, and if I distill my life’s goal and purpose down to its purest form, it’s that I want to make people happy through humor. So, at the end of the day, I don’t want to write about gritty emotional trauma.
Which brings me to the challenge presented by the project I’m working on now: it’s rooted in gritty emotional trauma. Awesome! So, of course, I’ll be tapping into my own personal mama-drama for inspiration, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it! You’re not the boss of me, Emotions. Don’t tell me what to do, you’re not my dad!
I know I promised a review of the fall television line-up, but right now I’m a little more preoccupied with creating content for a future line-up right now. *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*
Tune du Jour: Phone Song by Magic Kids