The Story of Me
I've had a few drinks in me, so not sure how this post is gonna go, but I wanted to take the time to reflect.
It's odd when both friends and strangers read one's blog. On one hand, this is the only way I keep in touch with friends/acquaintances that I'd rather not speak to over the phone. On the other, I hesitate to update on personal things because I figure most of you "strangers" don't care. You're here for the free mp3s, and once you see long blocks of words without blue links, you won't be stopping back as often. And losing traffic makes me sad. I say "you", but what I really mean is "me," cause I do the same thing, "give me the free shit and leave the venting for your therapist." But you see, therapists are expensive.
By the way, my therapist says I overanalyze and talk too much. Throw in neediness, and I'm quite the catch.
At any rate, here's my solution. I open this post with an mp3, and if you choose to read on, this song will serve as a fun, little soundtrack to this story. Here ya go:
"Keep It Together" - Guster [buy album]
*by the way, went to the guster show last weekend, amazing. check out the pics. review to follow.
Anyways, this is just my journey to where I am now. It's all about me, and some of you will find this overly self-indulgent. If you are one of these people, I do not care for you, I only care for me. But take everything with a grain of salt, I have no real experience, this is just the route I've taken as a baby writer.
DISCLAIMER: For a funnier, more concise, yet out-dated version of this story, check out my writing partner's blog. That being said, let me start at the beginning...
OCT. 2, 1981:
I'm born in Seoul, S. Korea... with a Jew-fro, foreshadowing all the Jewish friends I will make in my lifetime.
Let's move ahead a bit.
SEPT. 1999-MAY 2003:
I join a collegiate a cappella group. No one takes me seriously ever again.
I hate all my finance and business courses and approach my honors program counselor, when the following conversation ensues (seriously this conversation actually happened):
COUNSELOR: Sonny, you're really struggling with these courses. I'm afraid you're not quite cut out for the honors program.
ME: I know, I'm so sorry. I'm just not passionate about business.. I think I'm going down the wrong path.. I can't imagine being an investment banker. Can you please help me? You know, counsel me?
A few uncomfortable beats.
COUNSELOR: Um. What are you interested in?
ME: Honestly? I guess movies, music.. and God?
COUNSELOR: Have you considered seminary?
I run outside and throw myself at oncoming traffic. I live. God exits.
I graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Economics, pretty much wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars my parents sacrificed. Mom, that Porsche is on its way, I promise!
I spend the rest of the month networking and watching Swimming with Sharks. At one point, I even take a trip to LA, handing out resumes to every office on that stretch of road in Santa Monica. I take a picture with Ozzy Osbourne at a Coffee Bean. Much like Kelly Osbourne, I realize Ozzy's touch is not a fool-proof harbinger for success.
I have no health insurance. One day I begin coughing up blood. Pretty sure that's how Nicole Kidman died in Moulin Rouge, so I freak out. Med School Friend tells me it's probably walking pneumonia. Drug Friend hooks me up with antibiotics. I live. God exists.
JUNE 2003-DEC. 2003:
I wander like a nomad, moving to about 6 different apartments in 7 months. Two big low points happen during this period of time... let's pretend I'm a muppet. I most resemble Beaker.
1) THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER OF '03
Finally deciding to move to NY, I pack my Honda CRV full of most of my belongings. Before leaving, I decide to spend one night at my friend's apartment, parking my car right by her window. Keep in mind, earlier this week, I had my tires slashed, cell phone die, and was thus forced to take trains for every interview in NY. Anyways, my friend and I wake up the next morning/afternoon, jonesin' for some Wendy's. I walk to my car and notice one of my ties strewn about on the snow. Shit. Balls. The back window is shattered and everything in my car is missing. EVERYTHING. My Martin acoustic, my Gibson SG, my bag of important documents which included my diploma, my entire CD collection, they even took maps. I stand there in complete and utter shock.
No joke, it actually starts raining. My friend can attest to this. This is winter, mind you, so it was the kind of rain that hurts your face. We call 911, three hours later, nothing. It's not until 11 pm that night when campus police finally arrive to get a statement, where they essentially tell me they will be doing nothing to find my possessions.
I proceed to listen to the one CD the robbers left behind: Good Charlotte. Fine, I made this last part up. But they would have if I had owned Good Charlotte! Fine, I did own Good Charlotte and have since repurchased twelve copies, ensuring I will always be reminded that there are worse human beings out there.
2) THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN
I finally arrive in the great city of New York, park my car in a garage, and am billed the remaining amount left in my bank account.
One of the apartments I subletted was on the UES, where I lived with an older woman, who I will refer to from here on out as "Bitch." My sublet ended at the end of November, I had a place lined up in Brooklyn starting on December 1. I had planned on moving out of Bitch's apartment on December 1, we rarely communicated because she was a bitch, so I assumed this was fine. I come home from work on Nov. 30, and she tells me I have to move out that night since her boyfriend is moving in tomorrow afternoon. I ask her if I can please move out tomorrow morning, as I won't even have the keys to my new apartment until the next day. Bitch bitches as bitches do. I sigh. And begin getting everything I own together and packing it into my Honda CRV. At 2 am, I leave, never saying bye to Bitch, and drive around aimlessly. After witnessing what I'm pretty sure was a drug deal gone awry, I decide to just drive to my new place. It is locked. I park my car on the side of the road, take out a comforter, and shiver myself to sleep. Again, this was in December, so it was f-ing cold. If symptoms of hypothermia are shitting and pissing yourself, then I had hypothermia.
I begin the NBC Page Program. Pretty much the happiest time of my life. Met some life-long friends, amazing memories, smiles all around. I could tell a million stories, but I think these pictures, and these pictures capture everything.
I begin working at the Today Show. The worst job of my life. Every day I came in at 1 pm and left around 1 am. Sometimes 5 am. Basically, the opposite schedule of every other soul in Manhattan, aside from the pimps and clockers... who are good people and have helped through many a rough nights, thank you pimps and clockers, I salute you. I tried to make up for this by going out every day of the weekend and drinking myself silly. This did not make up for anything.
I also found myself becoming a horrible human being. The week that Terri Schiavo and the Pope both passed away, I angrily shook my head at God and made damn sure I got paid overtime, while the rest of the world solemnly mourned.
I'm driving home from the Today Show at 3 am over the Queens Borough Bridge. I ask the driver to stop. I step out, take a long, hard look at the water below. I step back inside and call my friend and fellow former Page, Pat Walsh, asking him if he wants to do something with our lives. We decide to write a pilot together about the Page Program.
OCT. 2004-SEPT. 2005:
A lot of drinking. A lot of ice cream. A lot of lonely nights watching the Notebook. We justify it by calling it "method writing." Our characters are tragic.
Something spurs us to finally finish the pilot, an hour-long dramedy. We like it a lot. We pass it around to former Pages who are now climbing the ladders as assistants to more important ladder-climbers. People like it, people laugh, but many return with the common note of "you should make it a sitcom instead."
We revise and package it into a sitcom, which actually did indeed make it much stronger. Through connections, the script ends up on the desk of a Development Exec at Network B. He reads it, likes it, but tells us it's not really in tone with Network B, and thinks Network F would probably love it. We rack our brains trying to find connections at Network F.
Two weeks later, we start getting congratulatory emails from friends with a Variety article attached. The article states that Network F has picked up a pilot of the exact same name and premise as ours. The kicker, this pilot was being produced by the studio of aforementioned Network B. We naturally wonder if anything shady is going on...
Fate steps in and a new co-worker starts at the Today Show, who used to work for the head of Network B, as well as the Head of Comedy at Network B Studios. She reads our pilot, loves it, and emails her former boss asking what's up. Former Boss says he's never heard of us of course, but trusts her judgment, and asks to read our pilot anyway.
We don't hear back from Former Boss.
We make New Year's resolutions that are quickly broken. We also read that Former Boss has been promoted to head of Comedy Development at Network B. Hmm.
Former Boss calls us out of the blue, saying he finally read it and loved it. He asks if we have agents and other material. We lie and say we're 'working on other specs.' He kindly offers to introduce us to a handful of agents he personally recommends. We rejoice for a good minute, then realize we have to start those "other specs."
Above agents read our material, love it and schedule meetings.
Pat and I fly out to Los Angeles to meet with these agencies.
At the rental car station, we excitedly tell the counter lady why we're in town, she smiles and says "well you guys seem fun, let's upgrade you to a convertible, no extra charge." Expecting a Ford Mustang, Pat and I high-five and yell "Look out, City of Angels!"
We find ourselves cruising down Wilshire in a Chrysler PT Cruiser. Senior citizens laugh at us as we drive by.
Meetings go extremely well, we get a handful of offers by the end of the week, we decide to go with the William Morris Agency, we get a set tour of the OC. We ride down Wilshire singing Californiaaaa, Californiaaaaaaa, here we-
Senior Citizens continue to point and laugh.
Staffing season begins. Pat and I fly out again to LA for a week of executive meetings. They go extremely well, with execs making praising calls to our agents that people "work all their lives to hear."
Bags of money/women are assured in our futures. Plans are made to move out to the coast with the mostest.
I'm again packing everything I own into my trusty Honda CRV. This time covering all my belongings with a blanket. Yep, that'll stop 'em.
I drive cross-country, throw open my apartment door as a perfect breeze blows through my hair. I still have all my belongings. Ah, good times ahead.
Weeks go by, we don't hear from our agents. Panic sets in, sweating problem begins, buckets of Xanax are bought.
Finally, our agents call to tell us that this season didn't quite go as planned. Comedy is dead. I shove my head into the above bucket of Xanax.
JUNE 2006-SEPT. 2006:
As Elton once said, "it's the circle of life and it moves us all." Well, it's moved me to a new city, same point.
I find myself again with no health insurance. I sleep on an AeroBed that deflates through the night, causing me to wake up every night at 4 am to re-inflate. My roommate's girlfriend hears this every night and sympathetically brings me her foldable army cot.
The heat wave hits Los Angeles, breaking records left and right. I sweat out my soul on the new army cot and somehow get bronchitis. I freak out. Drug Friend hooks me up with antibiotics. I live. God exists.
Pat and I decide to bring on a manager from Principato-Young. He also quickly becomes a great friend.
Through random connections, we meet with a semi-known Actor in Asian circles. He hires us to write his passion project, a gritty drama of sorts. We toss our comedy hats to the side and shake hands. We realize that we will not get paid until much later and our handshake grows very weak.
We spend the rest of our days temping, writing, drinking... and repeat.
And we wait.
We've finished the above work-for-hire movie. We wait for our check.
We've finished an original comedy feature (by we, I mean Pat, he did 99% of the work). We wait for money, cash, hoes/rejection.
We wait for next staffing season.
I wait for the hangover that will follow this night of drinking.
At the end of the day though, I'm actually optimistic. I'm grateful to have agents and a manager, grateful to have our first movie project actually be in development, grateful to have a hilarious writing partner, grateful for amazing friends, grateful for the coolest blog readers in the internetiverse. You guys rock my socks for reading this blog.
Things may be turning a corner. I'm getting a glorious pillow-top queen-sized bed this Friday, two good friends from NY are in town this Saturday for the birthday throwdown, and we start hearing back from studios about this comedy feature in the next two weeks or so.
I recently watched this high school graduation speech given by Conan O'Brien, and it reminded me to keep having my silly pipe dreams, and that many have already come to fruition.
I hope this was as therapeutic for you as it was for me. Leave a comment. Love you, mean it.
In the words of Guster, "let's keep it together, can we keep it together. we're singing a new song now, and everything starts today."
...to be continued...
OCT. 6, 2006:
I receive a pillow-top, queen-sized Serta bed for a wicked price from the Mattress Store. I don't wake for 36 hours.
OCT. 7-13, 2006:
Friends from NY visit. I throw a birthday party. I realize I have more friends in LA than I had thought, the ice around my heart slowly thaws. Check out the pics. Many drinks were had, I don't wake for 36 hours.
Upon waking, I find positive news arriving on the writing front. My writing partner and I are in the process of pitching a movie to my old boss, he liked one of our ideas, so talks are continuing. We've also begun to hear back on our comedy feature and pilot floating around town. The thing about this industry is that it is so rare for someone to read something and say "here is a bazillion dollars." Everything revolves around meetings. The meetings aren't relevant either. It's pretty much like dating. Forty-five minutes of trying to charm their pants/wallets off, not listening to a word they say while coming up with your next hilarious anecdote.. and sweating profusely. The positive: people are liking our stuff, the meetings are rolling in, and it's getting a little chillier in LA. Charming people's pants off happens to be our forte too. Only in this realm though, in the dating world, the pants stay firmly on. Damn you, pants. So say a little prayer for us.
...to be continued...