The Employment Pages

I. I had Death Cab’s CD on repeat for three months during the winter I was studying abroad in Italy. We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes. It was February of ’03 after we attacked Iraq, and my first time below freezing temperature. 30. 20. 15 degrees. Then 29 days straight without seeing the sun. I wrote a lot. Stories about my dad, songs abouformer lovers. Talked politics  and everything thats wrong with America over wine and hashish-laced cigarettes with my Italian roommates.  I dated long-distance. Whether it was the thawing snow or the close of that relationship, that Death Cab album went into hibernation when I got back to the States in June.

A few days ago I brought it back into the playlist rotation. It’s like meeting your best friend from 6th grade that you never see anymore. Its like getting a piece of myself back. That missing corner piece of the that table puzzle. It’s fueling this barrage of words right now. It feels good. Whatever your lost soundtrack is – go out there. Find it. Listen to it.

II. I take the 405 everyday. Crisscross through the Sepulveda canyons into LA to reach Venice. Walk up to my desk. Pour some coffee into my head and words words onto pages. An hour later I’m halfway decent. I’m in the groove.  2 hours pass by. It’s 11:30.  Hunger. Get snacks. Annoy my partner.  Look at notebook. The products of my morning stare back at me. Wait. Wait. No. You suck. You really suck. Now it’s 3:30. Where the fuck did this day go. I haven’t accomplished anything today. They’re gonna find you out Small. This is a business. This is it. You’re through Small. You’re a phony, we knew it, you can’t cut it here.

Move ahead four hours. The drama all gone, I can finally think. Five scripts, four different ideas. One will get killed by my creative director. Two will get reworked until they’re unrecognizable. But one will last. Right? One might live until Thursday, when its gets presented to the client. Its been changed dramatically. Like a Beverly Hills newspaper editor who undergoes a makeover and now looks like a crackwhore. But it’s my idea, my baby, and no matter what happens to it, I can’t let it go. I’ve got parenting issues. Issues of any kind are usually dangerous.

III.  My mom converted about 30 mini-cassette tapes to DVD. They’re old family videos – some of the footage so grainy you’d confuse it for the intro to The Wonder Years – we go through them after dinner on Friday nights. They’re short, quick snapshots of what life used to be like back then. We were five – in diapers and tanktops, crawling on the floor, enjoying the magic of Lego and the poppiness of Cheerios, laughing at our own nakedness. Anthropologists could study the video, of us and them, and hypothesize: are they all that different?  They’d study footage of me at my 3rd birthday. I’m on my mom’s shoulder, blinking a lot, nervous from all the activity. Soaking it all in. Then smiling when my cousin Barak lifts me up in a chair four times. I’m up in the air, hiding my face with my small hands and brown curls, teasing the camera and my dad, the mustached operator behind it. That’s me at three. You know what? Not much has changed.

IV. We’re taught things as children, instructions on how to live happy. We follow the code, do everything we’re supposed to, put in effort to get to the place where things are right. Then we arrive – only the circle, surprise, surprise–equals fiction. I’m on the floor, stunned and looking at the carpet. I’m here.  I made it. Things were supposed to work out. How many times must I face lessons and stories where nothing is what it seems. Where faces shift into shapes unrecognizable.

Everything is so sad and wonderful.