5 Ways You Know You’re A Hollywood Assistant

As if it’s the kind of thing you wouldn’t notice…

1) You have spilled coffee…all over the roof of your car. And the passenger seat. And every floor mat you own, including those in the trunk. When you do a coffee run almost everyday with anywhere from 4-14 orders and you transport them in your car a fair percentage makes it outside of the stupid containers. Doesn’t matter how much you think you’ve perfected the art of balancing the trays and making them all support one another while you drive, it’s going to end up everywhere. Speed bumps arise out of nowhere and all your planning is for naught.

2) You have forgotten how to sleep. This is not to say that you don’t sleep- we’re not some breed of insomniac vampires. But you no longer get that way under your own power, with any kind of forethought, or with any regularity. You work more than twelve hours a day – how much more being entirely dependent on your boss(es)- which means that the moment you get somewhere where you don’t have to be alert to the needs and whims of everyone around you, you basically collapse. You’re body has run the marathon and there is nothing left. I’ve woken up a few times (luckily, I seem to make it to my bed most of the time) with one leg of my jeans still on and my bra unhooked, but still more or less in place. This is because sleeping becomes an involuntary and sudden loss of energy and control that results in unconsciousness as opposed to anything you’d actually get ready for. Thus, the art and practice of ‘going to sleep’ is lost on you entirely.

3)All of your stories about going out and seeing your family start with “So there was this time a while back…” because you haven’t actually seen anyone on a social basis that wasn’t also an excuse to network in years. Or at least the equivalent of years because you’re awake so goddamn much.

4)You’ve done things deemed ‘strange’  by the world at large because it’s your job. Jack (of all trades) is a lazy asshole compared to all of things that you do. Feeding, dog walking, nursing, typing, calling, faxing, cleaning, running errands, answering phones, running for no apparent reason, researching funny names for cat shelters, filing, coddling, and coloring. And then there’s the odd tasks. Somehow all of it is entirely normal until you realize that other people’s ‘water cooler’ stories actually have something to do with a water cooler.

5) You have regularly scheduled nervous breakdowns. Your main focus is to organize and operate the lives of others, therefore, taking care of your own life is tertiary at best. I’m lucky if I have time to deposit my own paycheck. The stress levels, sleep deprivation, and constancy of awareness all add up to an unavoidable nervous breakdown – most likely more than one. But you can’t afford to have that kind of loss of control when you have other things and people to worry about. So you find ways to stave them off and very conveniently schedule blocks of time in advance in which to irrationally cry and break things and imagine yourself being sucked into a void of blackness. And then you get over it and go back to work.

Because we are the future of LA goddamn it. And one day we will have our own assistants to subject to all of this while we concentrate our obsessions and intelligence verified by $100,000 degrees on worthwhile problems like why our characters keep cheating on one another. And we love every minute.

Day One

I’ve made it in Hollywood! Kind of. Sort of. Hopefully… 

I got my dream job on a cable show that I can not expressly identify because I would get in trouble, but mostly because I don’t need you people stalking me. Now, more than ever, I know the massive difference between convincing your self that everything will work out one day and having had it work out – thus justifying all of that hope. Suddenly I can join the ranks of the “There were only those 9 months between graduating from college and getting the job I hoped I’d get”  and finally leave behind the all too large club of “It’s been 9 months since graduation and I’ve accomplished exactly nothing- I’ll have to go to the reunion with a bag on my head”. Granted, I’m not actually on a writing staff or anything, but knowing that many people (including not a few who will read this) want to kill me and take over my job is satisfaction enough. Writers’ PA is still a PA and there is lots of getting of coffee, lunch, and other foodstuffs but I’m definitely one of the better paid coffee runners in the world, and obviously those aren’t my only responsibilities. The Show Bible- the mythical document they told us about at TV school that holds inside it all that you ever need to know about a given program is not only available for me to lay hands upon, but is now written by me. It may not end up on the air, but it’s pretty freaking amazing.

Not to mention the obvious advantages of being the conduit to the writers for everyone on set and in production, thus meeting everyone and making myself invaluable. I’m now 10 feet away from the writers’ room, which is significantly closer than the innumerable miles (both literal and metaphorical) that separated us when I was substitute teaching.

My whole universe has flipped on its head as a result of this momentous shift- most definitely for the good- but the whole whirlwind is a wee bit overwhelming. Within two weeks I have the job I’ve wanted since the fateful day I said goodbye to my English major, and I’m on the verge of moving out of my parents house for the second, and hopefully more permanent, time. I’m also leaving the few friends I have back home, but to be entirely honest between 12 hour work days and my propensity for sleeping I don’t know when I’ll have the time to talk to anyone anyway.

I’d write more, but my current state of semi-consciousness is only being maintained by taking over the part of my brain that forms words. Going non-verbal until I get a nap.