Thursday, November 29, 2012

The How-Many-Good-Eggs-Do-I-Have-Left? Freak Out


Last night's episode of NEW GIRL was called "Eggs" (baby, not breakfast-maker variety), and it raised an important/scary issue that many women approaching their 30s experience.

Can you tell me how many viable eggs I have left? 
Or, in the words we actually mean, can you tell me exactly 
how soon I need to start thinking about having a baby? 

SPOILER ALERT: Jess and CeCe enlist their newly pregnant, lesbian gyno friend to perform a test that determines how many viable, baby-making eggs they have left. Jess is panicked about the whole thing (shocker), while CeCe could care less (same). Then, wouldn't you know, Jess' results come back very positive (high numbers of remaining, very peppy eggs!) and CeCe's come back very negative (not so much). Jess is happy (she has tons of time to find the adorkable man of her dreams!) and CeCe is freaked (she was basically told to start having kids immediately, if she's going to have them at all).

NOW, I realize this is a sitcom, not an after school special. I realize they don't have time amongst the jokes to really explain what this testing is, and what it really means. BUT, I was still irked by the way the CeCe storyline was treated. She has the test, and the only results we hear are, "the doctor told me I need to start having kids immediately, if I'm going to have any." Whoa. Wait. What?? A. Doctors don't provide advice in quite those terms. And B. Way to exaggerate a prognosis sos to pander to female fears through comedy. (I'm pretty sure that sentence doesn't make sense, but I'm really worked up here you guys).

Couldn't CeCe have said, "the doctor said my egg numbers are unusually low, and if I want to have a baby I should start to think about it sooner rather than later." Then Jess could sing, "OMG CeCe, that's nuts, how soon?!" and CeCe could say, "She didn't say. She can't really say. But it's bad up in there Jess." Whatever. I don't know. Just anything other than, "the doctor said I need to start immediately."

I went to bed thinking about this whole issue. I woke up thinking about this whole issue. I actually contemplated calling my gynecologist here in L.A. this morning, then getting a second opinion from my former gynecologist in New York so I could write a thoughtful blog post about how everything that was wrong with NEW GIRL'S depiction of this testing process.  

Then I realized that the episode irked me because it scared me.

No, the exact details of this fertility test were not explored in the episode. No, the CeCe storyline wasn't handled as well as it could have been handled. But bottom line, I was annoyed because the issue hit home, and instead of saying, "yes, that is a scary issue that has real-life ramifications," I got defensive about the way women's issues are treated in comedic television. There are way bigger issues to be mad at surrounding the way women are treated in comedic television than this episode od NEW GIRL. Properly handled or not, the "viable eggs" issue is a real issue.

I literally have a pit in my stomach right now thinking about the fact that a simple test could determine if I should start having children this year or if I can wait four or so years from now. Would the results of that test change my life? Yes. Absolutely. Would they mean I should have children immediately if the results show that I'm running out of time? I don't know.

I'd like to curse the fact that this test exists, but I think that's a defense mechanism as well. If you ask a 40 year old woman who can no longer conceive whether or not she would have liked a warning around age 30, what would she say? I'd venture to guess she'd say yes. Give me that warning. Scare the crap out of me.
 

These are real factors that we really need to consider as women, and as many of us inch toward and into our 30s. They're no longer the stuff of Busch Lite-induced promises made between girlfriends on the dorm-room couch (I'm not having kids until I'm at LEAST 34! Screw that! I need time to establish my career!). Now they're the stuff of expensive wine-induced sob-sessions between girlfriends sitting at the bar (OMG what if the doctor told me I should start having kids right now?? What would I do?? What should I do??).

I don't know what you should do. I don't know what I would do. I don't know what I will do. But I think it's okay to be freaked out about the whole situation. I think we might actually be lucky that we can be freaked out about it versus remaining stubborn, defensive or blind to the realities. Knowledge equals power, and if there's anything in your life you want to be empowered over, it's your baby-making.

Now for the after school special section:

There is a wealth of information available on the Internet about these tests that NEW GIRL referenced and fertility testing in general. Here is one article from the UK Daily Mail and here is another helpful resource page from a very well-respected fertility clinic.

These tests are often referred to as tests of "ovarian reserve" for your Google searching purposes.

And finally, It would be nice to have a reliable test to determine how many eggs remain and how good the eggs are in an individual woman at a point in time. At this point some screening tests exists, but they are not perfect. Do a little research on your own (if you'd like) or talk to your gynecologist (if you're more comfortable with that route). 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What It's Like To Be Off-Line All Day


Since the day I started my first full-time job, I have been online all day every day during the work week. That's five days a week, approximately nine hours a day, approximately 250 days per year for a total of eight years, or in other numbers 2,250 hours spent online (don't check my math, just know it's likely wrong).

Yes, there were times when work took me out of the office (read: away from the Internet), specifically the thirteen grueling days of the Tribeca Film Festival. I was fully off the grid during that insanity. But other than that, I have sat at a desk in front of a computer to do my work, and that computer has been connected to the Internet. 

I didn't sit on Facebook or Gchat all day long...exactly, but I popped in several times throughout the day for long conversations with friends all over the country. Some days I would have my Gmail open all day long so chats would just come in as I worked. On those days R and I would chat all day long about the myriad things you have to talk about when you share a life: christmas gifts, dinner plans, cleaning supplies we may or may not need. I became an insanely adept multi-tasker able to follow along with a friend's devastating break-up story and a pre-production conference call at the same time. If a "major story" hit, I knew about it from my thrice-daily check of my favorite online "news" portals (Deadline.com, TheDailyBeast.com, Gawker.com). There was very little that I missed, and that includes both social and actual news (if there's any difference any more).

Since the day I left my last full-time job three weeks ago, I have been online one to two hours per day, if that.

Yes, there are times when I sign into Gchat to check my mail and get involved in a 45 minute convo with a friend, but those are fewer and further between these days. Now R comes home with a mental list of all the things we would have talked about during the day. I've contemplated taking notes at the dinner table.

Part of the reason I'm not online all day is because I am busy working on a few projects, and I've (blessedly) never been able to multi-task while writing.  But most of the reason I'm not online for longer period of time, even when I'm not specifically writing, is because it feels weird to be sitting at your home office (read: kitchen table) on Gchat or Facebook or Twitter. Like somehow when I was at work it was totally fine to blow hours at a time reviewing the weddings of everyone who got married within the past month, but now that I'm home charting my own independent life, it's outrageous. How could I waste my time like that!? What if someone sees me just sitting her wasting my time?! The guilt! Oh the guilt!!

And so, for the first time in the two years since I moved to LA, I feel lonely.

People told me this would happen. They warned that your first few weeks of writing full-time are a weird adjustment, and that the main feeling you'll have is loneliness. They advised that I set up lots of coffees and lunches throughout the week to diversify my time. They even suggested I allow myself time every day to sit online and Gchat with all the people I used to talk to every single day. I've started to do all those things, and I'm sure the "culture shock" will pass in time. But it's all got me thinking about how connected I really was when I was connected all day long.

Last week I called Carly on the telephone because I wanted to check in on her and Baby Zadie. I used to talk to Carly on Gchat four out of five days a week. Now we are both home (her with a baby, which seems way more legit), and both offline. We talked for 20 minutes, and it was awesome. I think I'll call her again today, actually.

I have a feeling that I'll eventually like this new version of my non-online life. I think the clutter I didn't realize was cluttering your brain will slowly start to dissipate making it easier for me to focus (sometimes I have an urge to jump on Facebook while I'm writing, and I have to fight that urge like whoa). And I think I'll find ways to stay connected to everyone I used to "talk" to every day. I have a feeling that may involve actually talking to them, which seems like it could be really nice.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Annual List of Thanks: 2012 Edition


Hello from my first Los Angeles Thanksgiving. The turkey is the smoker (that one up there. It's R's masterpiece), the apple fritter is in my belly (my fave way to start a holiday day), and I'm nestled in to watch the mini bits of Broadway during the parade (slash wait for the Rockettes. I used to want to be a Rockette. I sort of still do). Life is very good, and here are a just a few reasons why:

13 Things that I am thankful for this year

  • The love and support I received from friends and family, far and wide, after deciding to pursue my writing full-time. Some of them probably think I'm insane, but they didn't tell me they feel that way, and for that I am grateful. 
  • $18 pedicures at Satin Soles on Fairfax. It is an necessary, unnecessary indulgence. 
  • Gchat, without which I would not have Dani, Sara, Geanna, Katie, Carly, and Abby at what feels like an arm's length. 
  • Facebook, without which I would not know what Alex is up to every second of every day. 
  • My Dad's wildly thoughtful e-mail responses to my blog posts. I save them all in my "SuperSave" folder. 
  • My Mom's quote-of-the-day e-mails. She sends them every single day to our entire family with a little comment on the quote. It is remarkable, and I look forward to it every day. 
  • Evernote for iPhone. Super helpful tool for remembering the thousand plus thoughts I have per day. Extra helpful this time of year for remembering the thousand and one plus Christmas gifts I want to add to my list.  
  • My Poppop. At 90 years old he is still the strongest, smartest member of the family, even though he said, "what the heck did you quit your job for?!" when I told him I quit my job. 
  •  Sushi by Haru on San Vicente near Maryland. So good. So affordable. And Haru is there every time. 
  • The West Hollywood Public Library. Great view. Great space. And you can work there all day long without having to buy a $5 coffee. 
  • My health, and the healthy of my family. It is not to be underestimated or under-appreciated, any time of year.  
  • Forever 21 - without which I could never say, "oh, this old thing? It's just from Forever 21." 
  •  R. He keeps on loving me despite my growing number of antics and outfits. 

Have a family, food, and fun-filled day everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How To Be a TV/Film Writer: How to explain to people what it is that you do



Just one week after leaving my paying job to be a full-time writer, I attended a beautiful wedding. At that beautiful wedding I met many lovely people. Most of those people asked me what it is that I do. Here's how that typically went:
  • Person: So what is it that you do?
  • Me: I'm a writer.
  • Person: Oh very cool. What do you write?
  • Me: Mostly television so far, but I just finished a feature, so we'll see.
  • Person: Wow. That's great. Anything I might know?
  • Me: Um...no. 
  • Person: Oh. 
  • Me: I'm just at the beginning of my writing career, really. 
  • Person: Good for you. 
  • Me: So right now I'm going on a lot of general meetings, but I'm also working on a few pitches for my own concepts. 
  • Person: So you'll sell your own show?
  • Me: Probably not, but if you have a pitch worth taking out it can be helpful to position you as an idea generator for staffing season. 
  • Person: Uh-huh.
  • Me: That's the time of year when all the new television shows get picked up and they hire all new staff writers for the shows.  I mean technically with cable shows are getting picked up year-round, so I could really get a job any day now, but I stand the greatest chance during network TV staffing season.
  • Person: And when it that?
  • Me: Like June or July.
  • Person: Oh not until next Summer?
  • Me: Yeah, but you've really got to get ready very early because it's an extremely small window and the odds are completely against you. 
  • Person: Wow. 
  • Me: Yeah. 
  • Person: Well maybe you'll sell something before then. 
  • Me: Probably not, but we're getting a good response off my pilot, so that's really encouraging. 
  • Person: Oh then maybe that will sell?
  • Me: Oh, no. It's not out for sale. We're just positioning it as a sample.
  • Person: Alright well...
  • Me: It's tricky, you know. You sort of have to suspend the idea of being paid to do what it is you're spending 95% of your time doing for a few years until you lay all the groundwork to actually get a paying writing job. I like to think of it like attending college again, except this time it's free and I'm sober!... Not that I was, like, an alcoholic the first time around. Also, my parents paid for my college, so... I'm sorry. How rude of me! What is it that you do?
  • Person: I'm a lawyer. 
  • Me: Nice.
  • Person: Won't you excuse me? I need to run to that...other area over there. Really nice chatting. 
  • Me: Likewise. 
Several minute later.

  • Person: So what is it that you do?
  • Me: I'm signed up to substitute teach at a local school, and come January I'm going to try to pick up a few babysitting gigs. You?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Turns Out People Aren't Hooking Up As Much As You Think They Are


Katie passed me a link to this very interesting article yesterday afternoon.

Here's the gist:

"Being intimate with multiple partners while in college has become so expected that it has become a stereotype. And, after a crazy weekend of partying, students love to gossip about who ‘hooked up’ with who. 

But that’s not to say every college student is participating in risky sexual promiscuity. In fact, a new study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says quite the opposite.

The study finds students talk about ‘hooking up’ so much, they begin to believe their peers are ‘hooking up’ more than they actually are."

So people who say they get lots of action actually don't get much action at all?? It feels like we should have been on to this considering sex and false bravado have gone together since the beginning of sex and false bravado. And yet, I was surprised.

My perception of my own college peers was that they were all hooking up. Granted this was in the early otts (sp?), so there's a chance hook-up culture has changed in the - gulp - eight years since I left college.  But if I go back in time and try to count the actual, proven hook-ups had by my closest girlfriends, it's really not that many. Then I tried to think about the actual, proven hook-ups had by my closest male friends, and it wasn't that many either.

When I was in college we said no one dated and everyone hooked up. It is true that very few among my closest male or female friends went on what adults would consider a legitimate date, but in my little accounting process around the hook-ups, I also re-counted the relationships, and turns out there were more of those than I thought.

So all these years all these assumptions around hooking up were just based on rumor and sensationalism? You mean to tell me that people exaggerated about something that was sexy, edgy and exciting?? Could it possibly be that we (and that's everyone from sociologists to students) made a mountain out of a molehill because it was a hot topic of conversation???

The numbers don't lie folks: "Ninety percent of college students thought peers were hooking up two or more times per school year. The truth — only 37 percent of students reported two or more hookups in a school year."

But are those 37% of students lying about the true number of hook-ups they've racked up? Or are we simply assuming that the hook-up chatter equals hook-up numbers?

That's the piece I'm interested in uncovering. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Desperate House-girlfriends of Beverly Adjacent


As you know I now spend my days as a sort of stay-at-home Mom minus the kids. I'd call myself a housewife, but that's wildly un-PC, plus I'm not a wife. "Freelance writer" is technically the term, but that doesn't get to the core of the 10,000 other things I feel obligated to do during the day on account of the fact that I'm home.

Maybe if I had an office in our apartment, I thought, I could go inside there and pretend it's another building. That way I won't feel like I need to dust the really dusty ceiling fan directly above the kitchen table slash my work space.

Or, I thought, I could spend two, three hour sessions every day writing at some local coffee shop. 9am til noon then 2pm til 5pm maybe? No time to do a load of laundry because they're expecting me at the Coffee Bean on Robertson at Beverly by two o'clock. I tried that the first few days of my new situation only to find the tables already occupied by hundreds of other Macbook Air owners trying to avoid dusting their ceiling fans.   

And so I decided to suck it up and dust the ceiling fan. I did it after completing a tricky paragraph of a TV treatment I've been writing. It looked really clean after I was done, and that made me happy. Two hours later I finished writing up all the character descriptions for that document and decided I'd go through my drawers to find some clothes to donate. That took about 30 minutes, and then I was back at the table proofreading what I'd written earlier. Around 4pm I took a break to go to the grocery store. I got these strange green mussels at the farmer's market Sunday and decided to try out a curry sauce recipe I found online. I came home, wrote until 6:30, and then tackled the recipe. When R got home I had dinner almost on the table, and I was super proud.

I don't know why I'm conditioned to fight the domesticity of my new situation. Maybe it's the ideas of what an independent woman should be? Maybe I'm just being stubborn about having to do more now that I'm home to do more? But I'm not less independent than I was before, and R isn't expecting me to do anything different than I was as a full-time employee of at office outside our apartment.

I think somewhere I've developed the unfair feeling that chores around the house are less important than working as hard as I possibly can all day long. That work is "old-fashioned." But the more mini breaks I take to tend to my office slash home, the more organized I feel, and the more clear head space I have to approach the next writing task. This is probably on account of my mild to mid range OCD (or severe when it comes to smudges on the mirrors), but whatever.

I work from home. I like to clean. I really like to cook. My boyfriend works long hours, and it's nice to cook us dinner. I cannot possibly write for nine straight hours a day. So what if I cleaned the bathroom floor by hand in my jammies this morning? Who cares if I re-arranged R's dress shirts by style and color (surprise Boo!)?

I like to consider all these tasks like little thank you's to the universe for allowing me the opportunity to pursue my dream...or at the very least really good experience for when I have to resort to cleaning houses for cash.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How To Spend A Day As A Full-Time Writer


Yesterday was my first official day as a full-time writer.

Well, technically it was Friday but I had to celebrate being a full-time writer all day Friday, so things officially kicked-off yesterday.

Here is how I organized my endless hours of freedom.

6:30AM: I was awoken by R who had been up for a half an hour already. He tried to start talking to me but I said, "I wake up at 7AM now," and went back to bed.

7:30-8:00am: Did a series of exercises culled from tear outs of Self Magazine fitness moves stolen from the dentist office. I thought about also running outside for a bit, but decided that was too aggressive for day one. 

9:30am: Left the house for my morning writing session right on time. I've been debating which of the dozen plus local cafes to award my first session of my first day as a full-time writer for a few months, but finally landed on Paper and Plastik because it has the best table space to pretentiousness ratio. 

9:30am to noon: I re-read the feature script I've been writing for the past two months, decided I like 10-15% of it, and started to re-work the entire thing from the beginning. New pages written: 7. Intagrams posted: 4. Coffees consumed: 2. Dollars spent: 6.

Noon to 12:30: I made myself some left over salad and wrestled with the idea of giving myself a full hour lunch break to watch TV. Side note: part of my neurosis around being a full-time writer involves guilt for doing anything "lazy" or "very fun." This makes little to no sense, so I can only hope it will wane after a few weeks. In this specific circumstance I decided to allow myself 30 minutes of DVR'd SNL, in the name of "comedy research." An hour and a half later, I got up off the couch.

2:00-2:30: Prep for my 3:00pm general meeting + e-mail response + gchatting. Respective percentages: 10% general, 25% e-mail, and 150% gchat.

3:00-4:15pm: General on the Paramount Lot. Yeah, I just name-dropped a lot.

4:15-8:00pm: Back home to work on the feature script; do some laundry; practice a hair up-do for a Saturday wedding; flip through Vanity Fair; call my Mom; re-arrange the candles in the bathroom; and drink a glass of wine as a toast to my first day as a full-time writer.

All in all, here are the stats:

Total pages re-read: 95

Total pages re-written: 15

Dollars spent: 8 ($6 coffee, $2 meter)

Outfits worn: 4 (exercise, coffee shop, general meeting, evening lounge wear)

Total time spent on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: 45 minutes?

I'm going to call this a successful first day. Despite being no closer to actually earning money off this profession, I can officially spend an entire day doing it without going stir crazy, which is good considering I quit my job for this.


And now I will use the rest of this space to remind you to VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Today Is The Last Day Of My Current Life


...dramatic, but true.  As of tomorrow, I am officially/finally/hopefully forever, a full time writer.  

GOD it feels good to type that.

For the past two years I have worked nine to five, six, and sometimes ten as the Director of Branded Entertainment at a LA-based production company. Before that I was a branded content producer at a NYC-based media agency, and right after college I worked in PR for a wedding website and as a sponsorship account manager at the Tribeca Film Festival. That's seven years of jobs that were fulfilling and interesting, but not my ultimate passion. I did them to earn money and gain experience in an industry while I chugged toward my writing career.

Today thanks to a combination of the money I've saved, the progress I've made with my writing, and the courage I've somehow harnessed, I'm leaving that behind to start an entirely new chapter. In a way it's just a full-fledged version of a chapter I started a very long time ago, with this little blog.

My goal is and has always been to write for a living. I now believe I will achieve that goal.  Those seem like two simple sentences, but they are probably most difficult conclusions I've ever made.

I have a million and one thoughts about this decision and what's to come as a result, but I'll explore those here over the coming weeks (with ALL the new time I'll have on my hands!). For now I just want to say THANK YOU.

Starting this blog gave me a reason to write every day. Writing everyday defined my voice as that writer.  Sharing that specific voice online resulted in friends encouraging me to write plays, television and film samples. Experiencing those forms of writing made me realize my passion for that medium. My passion for that medium inspired me to move to Los Angeles where more friends and contacts shared my new writing with their contacts. One of those contacts were literary managers who now represent me as a television and film writer. It's crazy to trace it back just that simply, but those are the steps, and you can make them happen too.

I truly do not believe I would have kept going if not for the amazing audience of readers - YOU - who reach out and encourage me to keep going.  And for those of you in my life both inside and outside of the blog, that's true times 1,000.

I'm not sure exactly what's around the bend. I have some projects in play, I have some ideas on the horizon, and I have back-up freelance work if none of those pan out.

But as of tomorrow I am a writer - first, foremost, and (hopefully) forever.