I am not here to lie to you nice people: there are few things better than going to lunch and a movie with one of your favorite friends in the middle of the afternoon on a perfectly sunny Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles. Ask me how I know this, and I shall regale you with a story of the secret wonders of unemployment. But don’t tell anyone else, because when you’re not working, you’re supposed to feel bad about it. Because of the Puritans. You know who they are? They founded this country. They imbued it with an aptly named “Puritanical work ethic.” They’re also the ones who make you feel guilty any time you have sex, AND they’re the reason you STILL can’t buy alcohol in New Jersey on Sundays. But those are two other entries for two other times. GOOD entries, by the way.
In Los Angeles, you’re either working all the time or you’re not working at all. And, right now, pretty much for the first time since I’ve lived here, I am really, REALLY not working. This is not like me. Working a job that sucked the soul from my ever-living body was my first ever order of business in LA, and complaining about how much work I have to do on any given day is a sport I’ve always played by rote addiction. But taking some time for myself and deciding to feel okay about it is brand new. And you guys? It’s awesome. I know I’m not supposed to admit such things, and if pressed on this tomorrow, I will swear that this entry was written by my non-neurotic-Jew doppelganger (who has some totally generic, non Jew-y name like “Wilson” or something), and that, in real life, I am a tangle of fear that 1) because I am not working now, I will never work again and 2) I will slip into abject poverty as a result of my six weeks off and 3) I don’t have time for this conversation anyway, because I have to write yet another script AND I could be called back to work early at a moment’s notice AND, anyway, I have, like, sixty meetings set up for other prospective jobs AND I’m not a lazy wastrel who isn’t contributing anything to society so STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.I started my current job in November of 2004. I had never worked a television job before, though writing about television for six years provided a better education than I ever imagined it could have. So I decided to swim instead of sink, because I had moved back and forth to LA seven times in three years, and I’d be damned if I were going to fail, slink back to New York, and have to reforward all of my magazine subscriptions AGAIN.I was told initially that my season was going to end in January, so I sublet my New York apartment and found a place in LA for three months. I lived with two very, very straight men (who were so typically straight that their names simply couldn’t be anything other than “Matt” and “Chris,” which was, in fact, what their names were) in a Spanish-style apartment across the street from one of my favorite bars in LA, and I curried favor with them the same way I do whenever I’m trying to make straight men forget how not straight I am: by drinking them under the table. Which I did. Christ, I miss beer.January turned to February and February to March, and my work partner was a delightful old lady who enjoyed homeopathy and ate a lot of lentils and had a Harvard degree but did not love her job or, in fact, perform it with any tremendous gusto. So Heather asked me to stay on longer, and stay I gladly did. My last day of the season kept coming and going, until such time as the three remaining members of my formerly twelve-person department were removed from our offices and shoved into a spare editing bay to make room for the incoming production team working on the next season. As our final end date finally loomed, the few stragglers from Season Four were celebrating their impending freedom with clarion cries of, “Hiatus is coming! Hiatus is coming! I’m going to London! I’m going to Paris! I’m going to Tahiti! Dan, what are you doing?” Pause. “I’m going to temp, I guess!”As I’ve pointed out many times before, moving across the country seven times makes you poor. I had worked for five straight months with no break at all, and I didn’t have much of a dime to my name. I finally got to New York for a week, and, while I was there, I managed to shoehorn in an informational meeting with an executive at a network I cannot in good conscience mention here (so you can play along at home, it’s a network which, when it first came into existence, was the adult-contemporary cousin of MTV, and was seen as “Number 1” in playing “Video Hits”), and, completely by accident, walked out of her office with a ten-week job in New York. Beginning the following Monday. So I flew back to LA, arrived at Long Beach at 9:45 in the morning on a Monday, went straight to the office, worked all week, wrote this recap, which is probably terrible throughout the night on Friday, flew to New York on Saturday, got in on Sunday morning, and went to work at an entirely new job on Monday morning. All the while commuting from my mom’s house on Long Island alternating with life at poor David and Miranda’s, because I had a sublettor in my place. And somehow managed to do this as well, while working fifteen hour days as the only story editor on a completely doomed pilot. I got really sick and fat and I can’t possibly understand why. I was in my own city, and I didn’t do a thing or see a person.I finished that job on June 14, flew out on June 15, and went back to work at my LA job on June 16. And love my job out here as I do, the first month of the season is pretty much a full-court press, work all weekend, sleep on the office couch X-game. Just as things started to settle down, it was September and the season was over again. I immediately left for New York for this, flew back to LA, wrote two scripts, and started work again in November.I’m totally not playing this exciting game of “A Peek At Dan’s Planner” to show you how awesome and driven I am. I swear. It’s mostly for myself, as a survey of the last year and a half, to help rationalize my plan for Hiatus #3: I’m going to stay in LA, go to New York for a week for purely social purposes, read a book or two, go to the empty Arclight in the middle of the day without feeling the slightest bit guilty about it, host Darren for a week and go to Disneyland with Erinn, listen to the same two albums over and over and over again, see the friends and family I often find myself neglecting during the season, and spend as much time with Eric as the basic constraints of the time-space continuum will allow.All of which — especially that last one — will make me so much nicer when it starts all over again in May.