Monday, July 25, 2011

Dogs Rule

Ahhhhh, I am back. Back with my favorite dogsitting dogs. Back for a GOOD LONG TIME with Ginger Puppy and Basil Diva Dog.

There are many reasons why I love these dogs the most. They don’t eat things that aren’t already in their kibble bowl. They don’t smell like pee, nor do they pee in the house. They are content to watch movies with me in the media room.

But I think I love these dogs the most because Ginger Puppy likes to sit by my feet while I write on my laptop. Looks like this:

Her owners say she’ll go under that desk when she’s scared of loud noises. Yet she’s there curled around my tootsies when there’s not any loud noises. Like tonight. Nothing going on outside but the errant helicopter making it drop off and pick ups from Children’s Hospital down below. This may be a case of Your Dogs Act Differently With Me Than They Do With You.

I can’t tell you how comforting it is to have a dog by your feet. I read Rick Springfield’s memoir this weekend, and a large part of his book talks about the dogs in his life. He brings them into the studio when he’s recording, he had them running around backstage when he did the EFX show in Vegas for two years.

If I had to take a stab about why it’s nice to have a furball at your feet that you must be mindful of when you try to move your rolling chair closer to the desk, I think it’s about comfort and acceptance. This dog is simply content to be at my feet. Ginger Puppy doesn’t care what I’m writing. She’s a dog, she’ll never learn to read, so she’ll never judge the quality of my writing. If I hit my writing deadline or not, she’ll be happy either way. Because she’s with me. And I am happy that she’s with me.

Dogs rule.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Magic Phone Call

I think I may have said this before, but what sucks for Christians and screenwriters and Christians who are screenwriters is that we spend an inordinate amount of headspace anticipating that magic phone call.

Maybe the call’s from God, inspiring us with a vision of what we’re supposed to do with the rest of our lives (go build schools in Africa, go work as a bank teller in Florida, go wrangle blood drives at your church), or giving us an answer to a particularly thorny problem (what do I do with the guy? What do I do with the crazy boss? What do I do with the friend who needs help?)

Or maybe the call’s from a creative executive wanting to take a meeting and shoot around some ideas, or the call’s an email from an exec responding to one of your loglines.

In either scenario, it sucks because you can’t sit around and wait your whole life for the call. You gotta go out and live your life, try out different roads, freeways, on and off ramps. You gotta sit down and write some stuff.

It’s a tricky line to walk between doing your part, and looking to God, hoping He’ll meet you where you’re walking. Because when you don’t get any call, you’re wondering if you’re supposed to keep going, because it’s now learning to persevere in faith, or whether no call means you’re not on the right road to begin with.

So in the middle of Damien’s Reign Of Terror a few weeks ago, I got the call. Except I didn’t know it was the call. In fact, I grabbed the ringing phone off the counter as I was chasing Damien around the first floor, because he had an oven mitt in his mouth in another one of his misperceptions of Catch Me! Catch Me! Catch Me If You Can! Because This Is A GAME! I answered the phone completely distracted, literally on the run, because my number one priority was Get The Oven Mitt Out Of Damien’s Mouth.

The assistant on the other end of the phone was talking a mile a minute, probably because it was nine p.m. and he desperately wanted to go home, and I think my call was the very last on his list of priorities.

But his mission was to set up a breakfast between me and his boss. I didn’t know why, I didn’t ask. The executive and I had been trading emails about a potential project, so I assumed the breakfast would be about that. I quickly checked my calendar, said what date worked for me, and that was that. We hung up, I wrestled the oven mitt out of Damien’s mouth, and life went on for another week.

I prepped my notes on the project, I prepped my list o’ other ideas in case she wanted to hear what else I had in my bag of tricks. I didn’t bother to stress, because I still didn’t really know what the meeting was about, and I was too embarrassed to call and ask the assistant a week after the fact, when I should’ve asked him when I had him on the phone the first time had I not been dealing with Demon German Shepherd jaws.

So I go to breakfast all cheery and ready with my iphone notes app, and pens and a pad o’ paper just in case we’re kicking it old school. The creative exec shows up, all laid back and cheery, and proceeds to pitch ME an idea. That she wants ME to write. And they will pay ME money to do so. All I have to do is say yes.

This is not how I was imagining this meeting was going to go. AT ALL.

Turns out that harried assistant was supposed to send me a pitch document before the meeting. Oops. BUT! It just so happens that the idea is about…


… a Golden Gecko who does Gymnastics.

And while I didn’t have the pitch document in my hot little hands, while I didn’t have a WEEK to prepare my responses, one thing I DID know is gymnastics. Because I was a gymnast as a kid. And if your main character is a Golden Gecko who enters the crazy world of competitive gymnastics, then yes, I can totally relate. YES I CAN.

So I talk to the exec about how I think the story would go. About how this little Gecko already has the deck stacked against it because while this Gecko isn’t flexible at all, this Gecko has no fear. Which is totally how I was as a gymnast, and it was surprising how far courage could outweigh an inability to do the splits.

As I’m talking to her about how your choice of music to do your floor routine to can reveal so much about your personality (my routine was mostly to the non-speaking parts of New Order’s “Shellshock.” Totally true. Just take a listen: It was impossible to keep up that pace.)

… And I see the light bulb go off in the Creative Executive’s eyes. It’s the look you want to see the person on the other side of the table get. Because that lightbulb, that look is the person on the other side of the table seeing what you’re saying playing out on a screen. And liking what they’re seeing.

Even so, I thought it would go poof, as so many other opportunities have. There have been many people who have come alongside me, promising this, that, and the other thing, and then blip out of existence without so much as an explanation for why they went poof. They just went poof. Poof is a part of life here in Los Angeles. You learn to live with it, and even though you saw a lightbulb go off across the table, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. She pays for breakfast, she tells me not to start writing on anything until we sign a contract. Oh, okay. No problem. I’ve got a bunch of other things I’m working on anyway.

Then a month goes by. And just as I’m about to chalk it up to Poofery, a contract comes through the email. For me. With a writing schedule and a payment schedule, in four steps. And an email from the Creative Exec wanting another meeting, where we nail down a few story details about the Golden Gecko.

That meeting happened. The contract is signed. And my outline, the first step, is due on Friday. I am officially a professional writer who’s getting paid for writing.

I can honestly say that Golden Gecko Gymnasts are the last thing I thought I would be writing about. And I’m not quite sure why God wants me to write about them. But this has unfolded in such a bizarre manner, that it can’t possibly be anything but God pulling the strings behind the scenes.

I just hope He likes what I come up with.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Things are Afoot!

There are at least two things I wanna talk about, good and bad, but I have to wait until the dust settles in order to have the full picture. But needless to say, both the good news and the annoying observations prompt the following reaction:

Stay tuned...

Monday, July 04, 2011

Hickory, Dickory, Dock

These are two of my three newest dogsitting clients. Let’s call them Hickory, Dickory and Dock. In this photo is Dickory and Dock. Yes, they do have eyes, and no, they don’t bump into walls. Dock, the white one, also the youngest, and you can see his eyes pretty easily. He’s also a SuperSnuggler, and sleeps on the bed next to me, which would be lovely if he didn’t think that 4:30am is the perfect time to get up, and if he didn’t smell faintly of pee. They all small faintly of pee, thanks to their dreadlocked fur that drags along the ground, picking up dirt, twigs, and errant pee drops.

Initially, I was gonna post picture of the house, and all the stranger than strange Southwestern deco, including a life-sized Mexican mannequin and a life-sized cowboy statue at the top of the stairs. But then Paranoid Brain took over and fears that someone out there is going to recognize the creepy life sized Mexican mannequin sitting in a rocking chair across from the life sized wolf statue across the room from the authentic Indian ponchos and then the jig is up. For all I know, going this far incurs some Navajo Indian protector ghost, but that would actually be kinda nifty, so bring it on, Navajo Skinwalkers! I ain’t afraid of YOU!

So the dogs smell, the d├ęcor also smells, (I’ve been existing on allergy drugs for the past five days.), the washer and dryer are on the far side of the garage, and it’s a little difficult to make your way past two cars to get to it, but this tour of duty ends with them tomorrow, (though I’m back with them next week for another few days.)

This is the part where my Dad, the Great Stoic Wonder, bellows, “Why are you doing this if it’s so miserable!?” (I’ve never understood why half the advice my Dad gives me is to quit when facing an uncomfortable situation. But the other half of his advice are good stock tips, so it all comes out in the wash)

But in facing this uncomfortable situation, some things become clear - while Dickory is a total yapper of a dog, especially when you get home from work, I discovered a HUGE ASS bottle of Patron tequila in a drawer next to a wine refrigerator. Patron tequila makes everything easier. These dogs are fine snoozing on the floor while I type on the computer. And if you really wanna get down to it, I’m getting paid to be inconvenienced first, and taking care of faintly-pee-smelling dogs second. Which is reason enough for me.

This is Hickory. She’s the only girl in the group, she’s the eldest, and she’s the one whose eyes I have not been able to locate on her face, because she won’t stay still long enough to lift up the dreadlocks to see them. I’ve found her ears, right where they’re supposed to be. But no eyes.

I did find the tag on her collar that says this:

I have no idea how useful a therapy dog she could be. She’s pretty aloof. Not a snuggler, not a comforter. Not a leader, not a follower. The only notable thing I’ve seen her doing is patiently suffering as her brothers take turn humping her. And I don’t think that’s advice that would be considered useful in any situation.

But, regardless of what my Great Stoic Wonder Dad says, no situation is as bad as you think it is. In this case, it’s that none of these dogs are a two year old 110 pound German Shepherd named Damien.

ThankyouGodthankyou. ThankyouGodthankyou. ThankyouGodthankyou. ThankyouGodthankyou.

I can survive anything that’s not that.