I got back from Los Angeles yesterday. LA is not just my hometown, but also the place where most of the television business occurs, so being there is always a whirlwind. I jammed in meetings and meals with writers, studio execs, network execs, my 90-year-old dad, my middle daughter, my brother, my cousins, errands, movies, shopping, reading scripts, giving notes and writing into six adrenaline-fueled days. I never know if these trips will be fruitful, or just wheel-spinning and exhausting, but this was a great trip. I was going a million miles an hour... and I was loving it.
The best part was spending quality time with my middle daughter… who has thankfully made a complete recovery from this summer. We ate. We laughed. We hung out. We shopped. We even got mani/pedis.
I flew back to Hawaii feeling really happy that my trip was so productive and fun, but I was starting to run on fumes.
My husband and youngest daughter picked me up from the airport. My daughter had just finished playing tennis in a Juniors tournament, but was anxious to play more with me when I got home.
Let me stop here. This never happens.
My husband and I love tennis. We each play four times a week. We play socially and competitively. Our youngest daughter has had a racket in her hand since she was three years old. Now, at 13, she is an excellent player but she has never “loved” it the way we do. She takes lessons and plays in tournaments, but is almost never interested in just going to practice or play socially. So when she says, “I want to go play tennis,” I take that invitation very seriously. No matter how exhausted I am.
So, in spite of getting up at 5am to catch my flight, I went home, lathered on my sunscreen, put on my tennis clothes and packed up our gear to go play a match with her. We had a great time. She came very close to beating me for the first time (which was the best part).
I raced home afterwards, because my husband had made arrangements us to play in ANOTHER tennis match later that afternoon. After our match, we stopped to have a cold drink at the bar with friends. It was after sundown and I desperately wanted (and needed) a hot shower. But by the time we got home, I needed to get dinner on the table and then I got my long awaited shower.
Around 9pm, I went to check on my daughter’s progress with her math homework. She needed to go to bed. I needed to go to bed, but algebra was standing in our way.
An hour later, I finally crawled into bed. I had been up for 20 straight hours. I worked the entire five hours on the plane. I played four hours of tennis after I landed, and then I had an evening of making dinner, doing dishes and solving math problems. You would think I would have passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
My anxious little (dare I say manic) mind started racing with all the things that I still needed to do:
I forgot to start the laundry.
I needed to coordinate the carpool schedule for my daughter’s volleyball matches this week.
I needed to go to the grocery store.
My husband and daughter did do some grocery shopping while I was gone, but they only bought a few important items: Pop Tarts, ramen, tortillas, and cheese.
Not kidding. Not a fresh vegetable, fruit or protein in sight. (Okay, cheese is a protein, but my daughter doesn’t like cheese except on pizza, so I’m not counting it.)
Why is it when I leave for a week, my family eats like they live in a college dormitory?
I had to fight the mania to get out of bed and do all of these things right then. I could still feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins from all the stimulation over the last six days. I needed to close my eyes, but there was one other thought keeping me wide awake.
While I was in LA, I got the call telling me that my “studio deal” is about to expire and they are not renewing my contract. That means, for the first time in 31 years, I will not have a guaranteed income next year. I will now be a freelance producer (and writer). BUT it will be entirely up to me to figure out how to get paid for that privilege.
I was (moderately) prepared for this. That’s the life of an independent producer. But suddenly it just became very real.
My husband refers to me as a “belt and suspenders” kind of girl. Someone who likes EXTRA security. The “belt" has been my years and years of working in corporate life. The “suspenders" have been a dozen different multi-year contracts at various companies. Ironically, in spite of all of those “contracts,” I have NEVER felt secure in a single job that I have had over my long career.
So come January 1st, the “rubber will hit the (proverbial) road.” I will officially be on my own. I will no longer be wearing a belt or suspenders. I could argue that I hung up my "business suit" over a year ago. and I am now wearing my yoga pants to work.
Yoga pants may not say “power suit,” but I am infinitely more comfortable than I ever was.
I just hope the elastic holds up… and I can continue making a living in my new life as a writer and a producer.
If not, at least I am dressed and ready for an impromptu "downward dog,” meditating and writing this blog with a blissful smile plastered across my face.