Wednesday, October 27, 2010

30 Years To Life

In my household, I’m the master of the TV remote, so it’s up to me to determine how best to waste away the evening.  Every once in a while I allow my husband to express his opinion.  It’s always a risky move – he has questionable taste in television.  Even when I point out all of the good reality competition shows that are on, he’ll end up choosing a four-hour documentary on the history of weapons.

Recently, we compromised and started watching The Good Guys.  It’s basically the cop version of The Odd Couple.  In one episode, the detectives must track down a criminal who is stealing technology and reselling it.  Lucky for them, the careless criminal leaves behind a vital clue: a single drop of BBQ sauce!  It turns out that the thief is actually a struggling food blogger who resorted to stealing in order to finance his dream job.

At first, it seemed like a ridiculous premise.  I mean, why would anyone risk jail time to sustain their blogging lifestyle?  Then I thought about it some more.  Would the guy really have been better off slaving away in a job he despised for thirty or forty years?  A job can feel an awful lot like a prison sentence.  Maybe worse. 

After all, I hear that in certain minimum-security facilities, inmates are guaranteed at least two hours for outdoor recreation and weight-lifting.  When I worked in finance, I hardly ever made it to the gym and was only allowed outside for one five-minute coffee break.  And I might actually prefer an orange jumpsuit over those ill-fitting button-down dress shirts.  Not to mention, if I went to prison, I’d get more exposure to Hollywood celebrities, which would be invaluable for my screenwriting career.

Not that I’m going to start stealing any time soon.  I already struggle with an overactive guilt reflex.  I constantly feel guilty for things I haven't even done.  Imagine how bad it would be if said crimes were real instead of imagined.

The point is: maybe it’s crazy not to take risks when it comes to doing what you love.  I’m not just talking misdemeanors and felonies.  There are all sorts of reckless things you can do in pursuit of your dream job.  Take me for example.  I quit my paying job on a whim in order to pursue an unattainable goal while squandering my life savings. 

It just occurred to me that my loyal followers might be concerned that I will eventually run out of money and give up blogging.  Rest assured, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep you entertained.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

He Said He'd Call...

Last night, I finally had my pitch meeting with the big-shot studio executive.  I had precisely five minutes to convince him that my little comedy script was far superior to the forty other scripts he’d been pitched that day.

I was feeling pretty confident.  I was totally prepared.  I had planned out exactly what I was going to say so that I wouldn’t go off on any tangents.  I had carefully chosen an outfit that said, “Hello, I am the epitome of cool. I am hip and trendy and have my finger on the pulse of today’s youth.”  And I was feeling funny.  Already that day, I had made like three really hilarious jokes at my husband’s expense.  I was ready!

It’s amazing how quickly five minutes goes by when you’re in a potentially life-changing meeting.  Overall, I’d say it went pretty well.  He was surprisingly down-to-earth, and he seemed to like my concept.  At the end of the meeting, he said he would “definitely follow up with me.”

So now I’m like a neurotic teenage girl all over again.  I’ve been compulsively checking my e-mail every ten seconds.  How long will he wait before contacting me?  Two days?  Ten days?  He did say “definitely.”  I mean, you don’t just casually throw around the word “definitely,” right?  Maybe my internet isn’t working.  Maybe his internet isn’t working.  What if he meets another script that he likes better and never e-mails me?  How long do I wait before I give up and move on with my life?  It’s already been eighteen hours and twenty-four minutes.

I’m reminded of the time in seventh grade when what’s-his-name said he would hold hands with me after school by the buses, and I had to stand there and wait.  And wait.  And wait.  He eventually showed, but then a week later, he said he didn’t want to hold hands with me anymore.  I spent the next ten years trying to appear aloof and uninterested at all times.  It actually worked out pretty well for me.  So with that in mind, I think I’ll step away from the computer and get back to my super cool life.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Most Embarrassing Career Moments

Back in my finance days, I strove to be a serious and professional business lady.  Capable.  Competent.  Composed.  Unfortunately, I never quite pulled it off.  Perhaps it was my forty-dollar power suit.  Or my unconvincing business voice – I typically end every statement like a question?  Or maybe it was the fact that I embarrassed myself on a regular basis.

As an aspiring humor writer, I’ve learned to embrace my embarrassing moments.  They’re my gift to share with the world.  So here are my top 3 embarrassing career moments, painfully relived for your enjoyment...

#3  Inappropriate Contact with the Intern

I was working at an investment bank on Wall Street.  It was the last day of the summer intern program, and a female intern, who I barely knew, approached my team to say thank you and good-bye.  With all of my co-workers watching, I made an unusual decision to forgo the traditional business handshake and instead ambushed her with a hug.  Now normally, in social situations, I go to great lengths to avoid the awkward hug, so I have no idea what possessed me to initiate one in a workplace setting.  It was the most awkward hug in the history of awkward hugs, and I have since vowed to never hug anyone again.

#2  Wrecking the CEO’s Office

When I was 24, I went on one of my first business trips.  The client that I was visiting had me work out of the CEO’s office, since he was away.  I was having a really great time swiveling around in his fancy chair and pretending to be a very important businesswoman… until I got up for coffee and accidentally knocked over a stack of framed artwork that had been leaning precariously against the wall.  All of the frames shattered.  The secretaries came running and found me standing in their boss’s office in a pile of broken glass.  I dealt with the situation by pretending it never happened.

#1  Worst Conference Speaker Ever

My boss was scheduled to speak at a conference in Holland but was unable to go, so he sent me in his place.  I was one of several speakers, all of whom were middle-aged men with intimidating qualifications.  I was a 25-year-old girl with limited experience as a cocktail waitress, shoe saleswoman, and gas station attendant.  Needless to say, I was nervous.  Very, very nervous.  Throughout the presentation, I kept hitting END instead of PAGE DOWN, so I would have to flip all the way back to the current slide.  I did this ten, maybe fifteen times.  The people in the audience found it hard to watch and stared down at their hands, thinking “Please God, let her find the PAGE DOWN button.”  After the presentation, I was supposed to go to a dinner honoring the conference speakers, but I was too mortified to show up.  Being the mature business lady that I was, I snuck out the back door and hopped a train to Amsterdam, where a Dutch friend took me out and got me wasted.  A few months later, I received my conference speaker evaluation forms in the mail.  Let’s just say that I will never be invited back.

Believe it or not, I’ve witnessed a few embarrassing career moments that topped even these stories.  At one work party, my co-worker’s wife announced that she had been with another woman, much to the surprise of her husband.  At another work function, a client of ours, whose wife had left him earlier that day, decided it would be a good idea to get hammered and grope the female consultants.

Just another reason to switch careers every few years.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Inspiring Friend #3: Beth

Since today is the 30th birthday of my good friend Beth, I thought I would dedicate this blog post to her.  Also, I missed getting her birthday card into the mail before the 3-day weekend, and online cards don’t cut it for milestone birthdays.  Beth and I have seen each other through quite a few milestones.  She came to my birthday sleepover the year I turned ten (although she threw up and had to leave early).

I think one of the reasons we've managed to stay friends over the years is because we have so much in common.  We’re both good in a fight (Beth because she has a black belt and me because I’m a giant).  We both grew up to be surprisingly attractive female statisticians.  And we both married a co-worker.

After college, Beth got her security clearance and went to work for a government contract company.  I’m not at liberty to say what she was doing, but I will say that I’ve always admired her ability to rock a scarf with a pantsuit.  A couple years ago, Beth started feeling restless and said she needed a change.  I interpreted this to mean that she would grow increasingly disgruntled, complain incessantly about her job for a few years, and maybe eventually send out a few resumes.  In the past, this has always been my strategy, but Beth is a lot more proactive and resourceful than I am.  While training for a marathon, she took the GMATs and began taking MBA classes at night.  Then she went to a local career fair and got a cool new job at a luxury car company.  I always thought career fairs were for college kids looking to score free candy and trinkets.  Who knew you could actually attend one as an adult and walk away with a job?  Apparently they even have career fairs now for the 50+ age group.  Because you’re never too old for a career crisis!

When Beth got married just a couple of weeks ago, the groom said he was marrying “the most capable, competent woman in the world.”  I couldn’t agree more.  I often feel lazy by comparison.  I’ve had to purposely seek out other friends who are slackers just to even things out.

I like to think that Beth inspires me to be more proactive and that I inspire her to take more breaks.  So Beth, wherever you are, I implore you to stop being productive and do something fun and irresponsible on your birthday.  And I will do something fun and irresponsible in your honor.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Crunch Time

You may have noticed that I haven’t been sticking to my every-other-day posting schedule.   It pains me to imagine my tens of readers constantly refreshing my website in the hope that I’ve published a clever new post, only to be disappointed.  But I want you to know that it’s not because I’m lazy or because I’ve run out of funny stuff to write about.   I’m under a serious deadline.

Exactly two weeks from today, I have a five-minute pitch meeting with a big-shot in the film industry.  I won’t reveal his name in case he routinely Googles himself like I do, but trust me when I say that he’s a person of influence.  So I have 14 days to come up with the perfect pitch and make my script Oscar-worthy.  I’ve known about this meeting for quite some time, but I do my best work in full panic mode.  In college, I would chug a 2-liter bottle of Diet Mountain Dew and crack open my textbook 24 hours before every exam, and I graduated summa cum laude.

Of course, waiting until the last minute with creative endeavors is a bit more risky.  Believe it or not, I do go through periods where I’m just not feeling very witty.  I’ll keep re-writing the same line of dialogue and asking my husband if it’s funny, and he’ll keep saying, “No!”  My husband is brutally honest and has a real knack for ignoring my feelings.  Sure, it's helpful and improves my writing, but sometimes I just wish he would lie.

Whenever I feel discouraged, I call my mother.  I could read her the worst thing I’ve ever written, and she’d praise me for hours.  I have no idea if she actually enjoys my writing, because she’s so damn convincing.  I myself am more like my husband.  Our kids will always know when they suck at something.

Maybe I should send my mother to my pitch meeting, pretending to be me!  She can sell me better than I can sell myself.  I can hear her now, "This is the funniest script EVER WRITTEN!"  How could he possibly argue with that?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pro-Kiters hits newsstands!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I wrote a humor piece for this month's issue of skirt! magazine.  You can now read it online as well.  The piece is about the first time my husband and I went kiteboarding.  Based on the feedback I've received, the funniest lines are the ones that make fun of my husband.  That's not surprising; I think all wives are skilled at making fun of their husbands.  But I should probably thank him for providing me with such great material.  He's the best.