Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spelling counts, dammit.

The other day I had the pleasure of wielding what little power I have in the entertainment industry.... and what may in fact be the only power I have in this industry for the next year or so. Although my last job was writing for a home makeover reality show (yes, reality shows have writers. surprise!), it was very desirable to fellow writers and up-and-comers alike. Primarily, because it was a job. Secondarily, because it was a writing job. So, when unemployed friends and friends of friends heard that I was leaving, a few jumped at the chance to get my job. (And no, not anyone can write reality. It takes years and years of training, a brilliant mind, and of course extreme talent. Extreme!). One such friend of a friend got my email address and wrote to inquire about a meeting. His letter began "Hey Jacklyn." For those of you who are aware, my name is spelled Jaclyn and more importantly, hardly anyone calls me by that name. I go by Jackie in these parts, and all other parts. What was even more absurd about the misspelling was that the correct spelling of Jaclyn is part of my email address. All this kid had to do was pay a little attention to detail.

Needless to say I did not forward this guy's info to my former employer or anyone else, for that matter. Instead I took delight in responding to his email. And this is what I wrote:

Hi [Douchebag],
While normally I would be happy to recommend one of [my friend's] friends, you misspelled my first name in your email (even though it's part of my email address), in addition to another spelling mistake. So, to be honest, I don't feel comfortable recommending you if that's the type of attention to detail you put into your emails.
Best of luck,

Maybe that was bitchy of me, but chances are that guy is never going to send anyone else an email with a misspelling again. I must say, it gave me great pleasure sending that email. I'd love to have followed it up with something cliche like, "you'll never eat lunch in this town again," but honestly I don't have all that much power, which is lucky for him. And who says that, really?

What fun! Adios, television industry, I'll miss the false sense of power you give to those you employ.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Your Integument System is Showing.

Today I bought my first text book! The cover alone makes me cringe at how academic-looking it is. It brings back flashbacks of my pre-med days 12 years ago. But, what freaked me out more than the book was that today I also received my schedule for my first course: Intro to Biomedical Sciences, or IBS, not to be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which I will probably get as a result of that course.

Why did the schedule scare me? Well, for one, it's 10 days long, seven hours a day, but I knew that when I signed up for it. The second reason is that I have no idea what the title of first section (meaning 1:15 PM to 4 PM on day one) even means. Apparently, I will be studying the "Integument System". Yes, I had to look up the word integument. For those of you equally as ignorant as me, integument has to do with all things outer-layer related... skin, hair and nails (I know all about those!), sweat glands and whatever else is on the outside. Tattoos? Maybe. The Integument System section will be followed up in the afternoon by an overview on wounds! Wounds! Woohoo! I'm giving up comedy writing for a year for... wounds!

Okay, maybe I should be less cynical about all this. Perhaps cynicism is how I project my fish-out-of-water nervousness. Speaking of which, I believe the Nervous System will be covered on day two. Maybe the more nervous I am, the better I'll do in that part of the course. We shall see. If so, A+ for me!

In other news, my "Hopkins: The Show" viewing has been progressing nicely. I caught up on the last two episodes last night. What amazed me about the last two episodes is what lengths and expense doctors and hospitals go to save one life. On a recent episode, a team of doctors flew to Puerto Rico for a set of lungs. (The comedy writer in me would make an inappropriate joke here about the origin of the lungs, but alas, I'll refrain). Meanwhile, according to "The Wire", my other Baltimore television obsession, there are kids dying daily on the street in random gunfire. I don't know what it all means in the scheme of things, but the juxtaposition of a team of doctors, nurses and pilots flying to Puerto Rico to save one life versus one person using one bullet to take one life away in a split second.... well, I don't know. Something to think about. Another thing to think about: A lot of my information comes from television. Hmm... Maybe I can buy the Public Health degree set on DVD? I should look into that.

Another interesting, or frustrating, tidbit is that on another episode, the pilots who took the doctors to South Carolina to pick up a heart for a patient in Baltimore, could not bring them back to Baltimore because according to FAA rules, pilots are only allowed to fly for a limited number of hours at a time. Why? Because they'll get tired... and that would be bad as they have people's lives in their hands. And the limit on how many hours a doctor can work at a time? No limit. Doctors can operate on someone on zero hours of sleep... and often times they do. A doctor once raised this point to me a long time ago, probably coming off a surgery on no sleep, and last night it was touched upon on "Hopkins", but not explicitly. A doctor was literally holding someone's heart in SC, needing to get it back to Baltimore, while the pilots who flew the doctor there were on their way to bed, to avoid any chance of falling asleep at the wheel (or whatever pilots use these days). Eventually the doctors coerced other pilots to fly them back to Baltimore in time, but come on. Where's the logic, people?

Speaking of logic, now that I no longer have an income, it's time to treat myself to a big expensive meal with a dear friend before I say goodbye in a week. (Yes, this is the second link to a restaurant in two posts. If I had time and a bigger ego, I'd have a food blog, too. But one blog is more than enough.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

So long for now, TV

I have two more days left at my current job, which in the TV freelance world isn't usually a big deal, as jobs come and go so frequently. Going away parties are rare as everyone goes away at the same time. But this time, it's different and it didn't just hit me until today. In two days, I'll be done with my work life, done with freelancing, done with TV writing, and done with paychecks, at least for the next year. I actually love working, so leaving my current job and the working world is proving to be more bitter than sweet. Plus, right now I have the greatest job I've ever had. There is absolutely no stress, my phone never rings, I get to write and be creative, there is plenty of time for Scrabulous, and I'm making a nice chunk of change. It's actually absurd and pretty unheard of in the TV world. And I'm leaving it.

How many people can say they actually love their job? Not many. I'm one of those fortunate people and I'm giving it up to go to school and study things like epidemiology and biostatistics. Yes, my co-workers think I'm insane. I think I'm insane. But then I remember my reasons for leaving. One, that freelancing has always been and will always be uncertain. For the last eight years, I've gone from gig to gig, always knowing that an end date was imminent. Even my current job wouldn't have lasted much longer. Two, is that it's ridiculously easy. The other day when I told my dad how easy my job is and that I was sad to be leaving it, he gave me a good piece of wisdom, that no job is worth doing unless it's a challenge. It's true, I have indeed been unchallenged lately in my current job. I'm always much more satisfied when I've worked hard at something, than when I'm complacent. But, the primary reason I'm leaving, however is I'm no longer fulfilled by the shows I've found myself writing for lately. What I actually write and produce gets seen by very few and helps even fewer, if any. I can't in good conscience make writing reality television a career. So, I'm setting off to do something that will hopefully prove to be meaningful. Meaningful with a solid paycheck, ideally.

There are several other reasons why I'm leaving, but they're hard to keep in mind when I'm in the final days at a job that I love. And so, despite my co-workers' raised eyebrows and comments like, "Public health. That's random," "Hopkins? What's that?," "You'll be back here in a year" and "Have fun making no money in the non-profit world!," I'm actually leaving.

And for the record, no, not every public health student works for a non-profit. Especially not this one, if I can help it. I'm all for saving the world, but a girl's gotta eat.