Tuesday, September 13, 2011

CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE

If I want to feel young, all I have to do is call my parents.

Alas, it doesn’t make the lines on my face fade away or zap the gray from my sideburns, but I’m thirteen again. Sometimes younger.

In their eyes, I’ve never grown up. Three university degrees, a published novel, a position of leadership...none of that matters. I lost a library book when I was seven. And another when I was eight. Maybe two the following year. Not sure. I’ve repressed much of the past. Too bad my parents never mastered that skill.

Somewhere in my childhood, I left the gate ajar and the dog got out. He was found ten minutes later, sniffing doo in a neighbor’s yard, but that meant 600 seconds of worry that an intruder had stolen our bad-breathed, tinkle-prone, yappy terrier. (They were in high demand back then, I guess.) My fault.

In grade one, I took my dad’s album of “The William Tell Overture” to school for Show and Tell and Randy Simpson tripped over the turntable plug, scratching and then cracking the beloved LP. If my teacher had been more aware of the cord hazard or if Randy hadn’t been so consumed with digging for a booger, the album would have survived. All ifs were off. I was to blame for the damage. (If I’d asked and received permission, wouldn’t the disk’s fate have been the same?)

I was irresponsible; therefore I am irresponsible.

A couple of weeks ago, I announced to my parents that I was quitting my job. In July 2012. (If you thought for a moment that I’m bound for Olympic glory in London, I am flattered. Cramped-calf muscle hobbling is not even an exhibition sport.) I plan to move back to L.A. where I lived for five years before heading to Vancouver. I have screenplays and TV specs completed, others in progress, and Los Angeles is the center of the entertainment universe, particularly for television writing. I may be too old in an industry that targets teens and twentysomethings, but I have only one life and I need to give everything I’ve got in trying to realize a dream.

In recent months, my parents and I have clashed during phone conversations as they’ve tried to direct my unsuccessful home renovations and hectic work schedule from that giant, overhyped piece of Oz behind the curtain: Texas. “You should...” “You should...” “You should...” The solutions are so easy. Obviously, I’m not trying hard enough.

It was refreshing when my parents barely reacted to the announcement of the upcoming career and life change. Finally. They’re willing to listen and refrain from unsolicited advice/judgment. We’ve reached the Age of Enlightenment!

Not so. When I called this weekend, we talked a few minutes about the weather and they seemed in good spirits as I wondered aloud why my sister couldn’t edit the emailed photo albums of her weekly hikes. (Does every trek warrant 200+ pictures? Ooh,...another cactus!) And then my mother turned the phone over to my father, an act that only occurs on Father’s Day and his birthday.

“So you’re thinking of moving to L.A.”

“Uh, yeah.” What was coming next?

“What happens to your pension?” He asked as though I’d never considered this circumstance in changing jobs. After all, we all remember the William Tell incident. From there, he quoted unemployment stats for California and then quizzed me on the mileage of my aging car. He mentioned the sun in California, something I have to avoid. (Oh, how had I forgotten this song?!) He reminded me I’d been shot at during my last stint in the City of Angels. (Yes. The Rodney King riots. I didn’t point out that Vancouver’s most recent riot was only three months ago. Why quibble?) And then he almost dropped a bombshell. He didn’t quite press the red button, but his fingers hovered above it. My relatively quick return to the U.S. depends on an American relative vouching for me. Might I jeopardize their retirement savings if I wound up a burden to society, writing abysmal scripts on the back of discarded bus transfer stubs on Skid Row?

I got a paper route to pay for my lost library books, didn’t I?

I let it go. I am irresponsible.

And yet the planning continues...

2 comments:

Rick Modien said...

Wonderful post. The writing is fantastic. I'm so impressed with how you express yourself.

And I found all the family stuff interesting, too. I have very different relationships with my parents--my dad and I don't talk (we went fifteen years without talking before I contacted him, only to wonder why I'd bothered), and my mother stays out of my business. I guess I'm luckier that way. Or am I? Makes you wonder, huh?

Anyway, I know you don't need my encouragement to follow through on your writing dreams, but you have to do it. I can imagine how important this is to you. This is premature, but I sincerely hope everything works out--the return to L.A. and writing success. I really do.

canoetoo said...

I know exactly what you mean about your parents making you feel like you're 12 years old again.

I think mine gave up early (well, maybe not my mother) trying to tell me what to do. I'm sure they were shocked when in the 1980s I gave up my government job to study broadcasting. Everything worked out very well in the end and I was glad I took the chance.

So congratulations on your big decision. I wonder if it was like some of mine where the idea kicks around for a time and then one day you realize you've made your choice almost without thinking about it.

Best of luck in L.A. I hope you'll keep blogging so we can share your adventure.