Crispy Phoenix

Musings on life in LA while chasing a Hollywood writing career

Who Has Time For 8 Hours of Sleep?

I woke up today to this:

Ariana Huff Sleep Quote

I lay in bed this beautiful Saturday morning pondering this Facebook meme. Here’s what came to mind:

1. I just slept 9.5 hours out of complete exhaustion
2. It is entirely impossible for me to get eight hours of sleep a night and pursue my career as a writer
3. If I were to get eight hours of sleep every night, I would miss out on making new friends, reading at storytelling events, getting scripts and/or essays written, volunteering, taking classes, or even going out to dinner

Here is a 24-hour breakdown of my typical day:

5:45am: Alarm goes off. Keep hitting it until 6:10am
6:10am: Debate hitting snooze again. Decide I hate traffic more than lost sleep. Moan and roll out of bed
7:00am: Sun is not entirely up yet. Do not have to wear sunglasses on commute
7:15am: Shout at at least one driver that they’re a dick
7:30am: Arrive at work – if stop for gas, arrival is 7:45am in which there will be another shout at a passing driver and I’m not even going to get into the number of assholes that run stop signs in Beverly Hills
7:40am: Arrive at desk
12:15pm: Stand for five minutes in courtyard at work so I can claim I saw the sun today
12:25pm: Eat lunch at desk
4:45pm: Begin to panic that I will not be able to leave at 5 and wherever I’m going, I will be late
4:55pm: Boss has additional project duty to hand over
6:00pm: Race out of office
6:15pm: Hit gas and brakes all the effing way down Olympic. Sun is gone for the day. Do not have to wear sunglasses on commute
7:00pm: Arrive wherever I have to be that night: Writing / Screening / Volunteer Project / Spin Class / Cooking dinner then writing / Writing Class
10-11pm: Arrive home – if already home, end writing. Make lunch. Shower. Get into bed
10:40ish: Amp down. Make task lists before I forget the things that are floating into my head right now. Read until sleepy
11:30pm-midnight: Lights out

I average 5.5 to 6 hours of sleep a night during the week. On the weekends, it’s always more than 8. And even then, I’ll take a nap at some point during the day.

I went to my sister’s for two weeks over the holidays. The first night I was home I slept a solid undisturbed 13 HOURS. From midnight until 3:00pm that day. The rest of the first week I slept 10 hours each night. Only during the second week did it lighten up and I could sleep 8-9 hours every night. Also, my natural night owl circadian rhythm took over and I was sleeping 3am to 11am. It was blissful and with that, I agree that I did feel more productive, more inspired, and more joyful. This last part is within reason of course because… FAMILY.


But definitely PRODUCTIVE (Got six essays in to writing a book)
And inspired – I repeat… STARTED WRITING A BOOK.

Moved to Weebly – er well… I was

confused emoticonI was all set to move over there but they’re so new that their capacities are VERY limited still. It’s a great place to build a site or blog but they’re not far enough along yet to make me happy.


Here’s the post I had set to open today on Weebly at Rebel With A Laptop…

Reason for this blog:
To keep a record of my progress towards my writing CAREER goals for the year 2014. I highlighted the word “career” because the writing goal includes intangibles such as researching and practicing pitching, searching for a mentor, researching managers, watching shows/movies, taking classes, and of course, reading scripts.

Goal for 2014:
To have a complete writing portfolio that includes: 1 TV spec, 1 or 2 TV pilots, 3 sketches, 2 essays for storytelling, and 1 feature.

That is not an unfeasible amount of work to complete in a year. I am slightly behind at the moment, but there is also the ALMIGHTY LEARNING CURVE involved here which I am damned and determined to crest in the next several months.

I read about this “writing portfolio” somewhere online and although I was high on morphine at the time, it’s turned out to be an awesome idea. I was in the hospital on New Year’s Eve with appendicitis and it seemed like as good a time as any to not only rid myself of an unnecessary organ, but to also lose my shitty attitude along with it. I’d been wallowing in my own self pity for long enough so I decided to get my ass in gear. Be proactive.

How I intend to complete the goal:
I have an MBA that is relatively unused with the exception of the beautiful powerpoint presentations I build for the CFO at work. When I thought about what it is exactly that I want out of this writing career and what I want to build on it as I get older, I realized that I should be approaching my career as a business.

I got a good tax return this past March and decided to dedicate the entire check to my career just like putting it into a business. So I wrote out a budget for each quarter. Then on a flight back to LA after a too-short-time at home, I saw in my head exactly what I want so I began writing it down and since I am an entrepreneur at heart, those things I want began to form into a business plan; my plan of attack.

Now that MBA is a life-saver. Which is good because I’m a person that abhors wasting time and there was a while there where I would look back on that time spent studying through Saturdays and Sundays and the multitude of midnight panic attacks and thought not only did I waste THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS but also TIME. Have you ever felt the enamel on your teeth hurt? That’s what it felt like when I would think about those three excruciatingly hard years.

But no more. It’s worth it. I’m putting it to work.

…So… back to it.

I will complete the goal by taking classes (and more on that later – this post is already too long), two of which I have started (a 10-week TV writing course and a Storytelling course) and a third (feature writing) to begin in a week from this Thursday. Classes are good because they institute deadlines and deadlines make you show up. Well, they do for me anyway. Might not be true for everyone.

I guess you could say I’m giving myself my own MFA because seriously… I haven’t had this much work while carrying a day job since those MBA days. Also, I haven’t been this happy in many years, either.

Progress so far:
The TV spec is a 1/2 hour multi-cam comedy called “Mom” starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney. Story is loosely plotted and that’s all at this point.

The TV pilot (#1) has broke story and is structured (as of this morning!) in a grid I made in Excel. Outlining tonight. First draft by next weekend. In addition, I have a professional consult booked to read this script at the end of June so it’s imperative that it be in good working order.

Storytelling essay #1: idea and first and last sentences with theme (competition) are written out as they were workshopped a week ago today. Expect to begin writing on it no later than tomorrow. Requirement: One and one-half pages beginning and ending with the sentences written and read to the instructor and class.
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Somebody Walks in LA

And yes, that somebody is Me! I’m having some car problems at the moment so I’m walking around town until I get the money to have my brakes fixed. [Disclaimer: I will attempt to draw for you in this post].

Today, I walked to the library (3 miles), twice to CVS and once to Trader Joe’s (2 miles). I expect to be the size of a reed of grass soon, which Library drawingof course, would be an awesome byproduct of having a broken car. I take the bus to work. It’s not so bad. The ride in the morning is quiet and filled with sleeping passengers. By the time it gets to my house from downtown, there’s nowhere to sit. I don’t mind standing. After only a week of riding at 6:35am, the driver knows me. It’s interesting to watch him. Some crazy dude wanted to get on the bus yesterday morning but we were at the light and not the bus stop across the intersection. He just looked at the dude through the glass and shook his head no. The guy on the street did a weird dance and then laid down on the concrete. The bus driver’s a cool dude.

Before all the walking today, I went to work. I know. I made a friend at work recently and we discovered we live very close by each other. She had to go in today and I went with her since we’re working on the same project. But no sooner did I sit down at my desk did I get sleepy.

I like what I do as a day job. I’m a project manager. It soothes the non-creative side of the brain; the part that likes to compartmentalize things. I’m good at it. But, my hours are out of control – as if you couldn’t tell. I just said I went to work on a Saturday. I know I’m not the only person to do that, but one Saturday has now become many. I’m tired all the time. My pace at work is so fast I never change out of my sneakers. That’s right. I’m in a suit with sneakers. I’m like Ellen. Except without being gay or owning Santa Barbara or having a wildly successful talk show and looking fab while aging.

The other morning I seriously thought I was losing my memory because I couldn’t remember completing certain tasks the day before. After sneaking outside for a few moments of fresh air, I realized it’s because I’m tasked with so many unrelated assignments all due at the same time, it’s impossible to remember the little steps. I felt so scared that morning. I read a note I wrote myself and couldn’t remember writing it or what it was about. So naturally I hit up Google for symptoms of early memory loss and remedies. Luckily, I couldn’t find anything pertaining to myself specifically memory loss due to project management of a sinking ship.

My boss has always been supportive of me since I started in the department early this past summer. He even went to my old manager to tell her how wonderful I am. So, when the brakes went out on my car, I sucked up my pride and confronted him on his plans for my future since he’s always hinting bonuses and raises and promotions. That’s what has kept me going all this time. I’ve busted ass; put in LONG hours; taken on additional work. I’ve been there in the time of need. Eager. Hungry.


I told him my situation and then asked for an advance. So now he tells me that I’m low on the list of raises and the bonuses at this Company are really small, but all I hear is that I should get a job somewhere else.

Banktanic It’s no secret the company is going down in flames but I thought I was… well… I don’t know what I thought. Maybe that I was an important cog in his factory wheel. I closed his office door on my way out and that, my friends, is when I finally, finally, finally checked out of this job.

I scurried to the ladies room to flush my feelings of betrayal because this is business and glass and steel and marble don’t have feelings. I ran into a coworker who stops to tell me she just gave notice. We talk. I blob out my story to her. She wants to help me she says. I tell her where I want to work and guess what? She knows someone there!

This is a first for me in LA. No one ever seems to know anybody anywhere here. So stay tuned as this new job search is fueled with passion and confidence.

And… I know that what my boss iterated is done daily and others experience it and maybe I shouldn’t have expected anything, but I just thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel of being broke; that someone finally recognized my skills and talent and felt strongly that I should be rewarded for it. Indeed, I was crushed but I also knew profoundly where I stand and all at once I became strong.

In my mind, I’ve already quit and the relief is unequivocal. I look forward to walking out of this chapter.

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