I just wanted to write. I have always wanted to write. I didn't know what that meant, and I still don't. But I'm closer now than I've ever been, and I recall - vividly - the day I was done with television production.
It was never meant to be a career in the first place. But, like life does, it just kept rolling on. I was decent at it, and I kept getting new shows, and as a freelancer I was hesitant to rock the boat.
I landed my first job television job through a sorority sister's uncle's ex-girlfriend's brother. I did not make that up to be cute, that was the actual connection. It's all who you know, no matter how you know them.
I was an office manager/assistant-type on an MTV special with a very small crew. I never saw one second of the actual shoot. But I loved it. I loved the pace, I loved the work, I loved the shock value to my friends and family in Oklahoma.
This was in October of 2001. I had moved to Los Angeles during the summer and walked like a zombie through the motions of moving across the country and September 11th. This first small job was a reason to get up and get dressed in the morning. A reason to make my first new friend. A reason to start a life on the west coast after several months of fumbling.
I followed the Executive Producer of that MTV special to a Paramount feature he was working on. It was not my type of humor, but I gained a small promotion and was ecstatic and somewhat floored to be working on a real film that would be in real movie theaters.
I met The Gorilla and ended up working for him for the next two years. It was all very serendipitous. I fell in love, got fired for doing so, and kept a defiant chin up. I moved on to a new network on a wholesome family show that didn't embarrass my parents. I stayed almost three years there, happily. The group of people I met on that nanny show are still some of my closest friends in LA and are the reason I stayed in television production as long as I did.
Because by that point, the novelty had worn off. I never tired of actual shoot days - they are an adrenaline rush that is hard to explain - but I was on a production track that was lucrative, yet not very creative. My job consisted of prepping the million little tasks that come before a shoot, then coordinating it all to make it happen. It was hard work, long hours, and after five years the only things keeping me in it were laziness, fear of starting over, and the relationships.
If you're on a project with good people, the time will fly by. Working on a show or a movie is the ultimate magnified experience. Like summer camp or a religious retreat. Every emotion is BIG, everything snafu a CRISIS, each small victory a TRIUMPH. You emerge from these things bonded to the co-worker beside you.
Conversely, if you're on a project with not-so-good people, you consider stabbing your eyes out with a dull pencil to be a better alternative to another shoot day.
My last project was the stabby kind. I was recently engaged, and took this show as a demotion because the timing was right and the overall shoot was short and I thought it was the perfect project to be working on while preparing for a fall wedding.
I knew from the start that it wasn't quite the right fit for me, but I was determined to put this square peg into a round hole because so many factors seemed right that I convinced myself to get over the things that were so very wrong.
But somewhere towards the beginning of production, after I made a flippant comment about all reality tv and how it was just a job, I was asked by my superior to take a walk with him. When he stated, "this is not just a tv show, this is a career," I knew I was done. Really seriously totally done.
It wasn't my career. I didn't care about it enough, or at all.
That show turned out to be the hardest thing I'd worked on in my six years of reality television. Each day was a reminder of why it would be my last, and by the end of the summer I didn't doubt my decision for a moment.
Less than a month after I packed my desk, I married The Gorilla and became a professional Mrs. This was so far from what I had predicted for myself - the daughter of a woman with the the glass corner office - but I have enjoyed what our crazy life has become.
My husband's successful career awards us all sorts of opportunities that I used to miss out on when we were dating. And I am busier now than I've ever been in my lifetime. The difference is that it is with projects and people that I love and that I choose.
I admit that I often wonder if I'm doing the right thing for the arch of my life's story by not pursuing a traditional career during these important years. But when I daydream about power suits and a personal assistant, it's not a return to television production that I'm picturing.
I've been there, done that.