Golden: part 9

It took time to recover from the journey home. It was the weekend and I didn’t return to work until Monday. I went to the local brewery and people were curious about my trip, wondering if I was going to be moving anytime soon. Samantha, one of the bartenders and a friend at the time, asked about the trip and all I could do was shake my head with a look of disappointment. She asked if I had seen the space needle, the troll under the bridge, Pike place market… the list went on and on. I continued to shake my head.
“What the heck happened?” she asked, thinking I was going to have this great story.
I wen through the process of obtaining a passport a few weeks prior to leaving with the hopes of going a few places and starting to see the world. Things were opening up for me and yet I was still at home. That passport still sits in my dresser, unstamped and soon to expire.
I told her everything, all the things you read until now came out. I never saw the one place I wanted to go and the places that any tourist would have been taken to remained a mystery to me after a week. After drinking my beer, I went home feeling like a disappointment to myself. I sat at my computer in my dining room turned writing studio, and looked at a blank page. Instead of working on the show I decided to focus on something different, my next book.
Later that week, after going back to work and returning to the grind of cleaning courtrooms and offices, we had another Skype meeting.
“We are scrapping the season. We’re going to focus on the pilot and make sure that is fine tuned to perfection.”
If I had hair, I would have pulled it out. The cameras were off. Skype was a glorified conference call. I shook my head in disbelief and wondered why the hell I was brought all the way to the other end of the country to begin with. We were literally backing up to a place before my trip to Seattle.
Even with my frustration I decided to stay. The extra $300 a month wasn’t bad for a few hours of work but I would learn later how much Nick was expecting from me. What was a few hours a week turned into more meetings, more projects assigned and soon he was trying to add more shows when we couldn’t get one moving along.
Nick wanted to add more characters, add some random thing for no reason here and that’s what we were working with. Everything had to be in the first season. Before I knew it was working more hours on the show than I was on my own books, the real money makers and I wondered what the heck I was doing. A script writer was brought in and Todd was in charge of writing the pilot episode. I felt bad for the man, not knowing what he was getting involved in. during our meetings a came across as a good man, someone who was agreeable but didn’t stand up to unrealistic expectations. He was a father with two kids and while he was trying to become a television writer, he worked other various jobs to get by. What he was being paid wasn’t worth the time he was putting in. during our emails back and forth on certain topics I tried to warn him about what he was getting into but like me when I first started, he was promised the glitter and glory of Hollywood. Neither of us could see the forest for the weeds.
It was around this time that Nick started to have the project funded by his girlfriend, the wealthy soon to be divorcee, he had met on a cruise the year prior. She was unhappy in her marriage and started shacking up with Nick to get away. California laws were tricky so they kept their affair a secret until the final papers were signed. She received a 3-million-dollar payout along with annual alimony. Convinced by Nick to invest some of the money they started a company that only existed on paper and payroll was set for the next few years. Nick had finally corrected his mistake from decades before by nailing a rich woman to set him for the rest of his life. At the time it appeared that the project would move forward and we would eventually sell everything and move along to something else. As time went on the expectations became unrealistic and we here running around with our heads cut off trying to figure out what the hell Nick wanted. He was becoming harder to contact and when he did pop up there were frustrated tirades about nothing being done. Meetings would go on for hours, the majority of the time spend listening to Nick talk about some story in his life we had already heard several times before. I didn’t want to hear about Norway, the textile factory, the production company, his AA meetings. That ended up being the last straw.
After 2o minutes of hearing Nick talk about the everything but the project he started discussing his time in AA and how it turned his life around.
“Glad it worked for you. It doesn’t work for most people.” It was three am and I wanted to sleep. I knew that AA would be another 20-30 minutes and my time was being wasted.
“It works. How would you know if it works or not?”
“the success rate is 13% and AA wouldn’t know that because anyone who doesn’t stick with the program isn’t tracked. They have false statistics to make themselves look good.”
“that’s bullshit. You don’t know what you’re talking about. I needed a higher power to get me through and come out sober in the end. AA saved my life and you think you know better than someone who was in it? Where do you come across saying these things?” Sam and Todd were silent. A button had been pushed and all I wanted to do was go to bed already having nothing to work with from the meeting.
“You said yourself you had to stop smoking to stop drinking. That’s not a higher power, that’s thinking.”
There was an eruption on the other end. Sam jumped in trying to calm Nick down. While Nick went on a rampage I sat back and listened. It was the only joy I would get out of this meeting and it all happened because he could only focus on himself and not the show.
“we’ve been on this call for three hours and for the last 30 minutes all you have done is talk about yourself. I don’t know what you do during the day but I need some sleep and I have to go to work tomorrow. Stop wasting my time!” I finally said it. I was expecting to be fired. I wanted to be fired. I was begging to be let go. For once Nick listened.
“You’re right, I’m not respecting your time. Let’s wrap this up and start again in a few days.” There was a sigh of relief from Todd’s end and I signed off without saying goodbye.
The next morning, I started receiving the emails. Nick had added me to his carbon copy list at the beginning of the project and I would receive emails about everything from bills to be paid and the show. It also included messages back and forth with Sam. Shit was starting to get real.
“If that son of a bitch starts that shit again, he’s gone.” The messages continued all day as Nick and Sam discussed what to do with me, and I read everything. I wasn’t the only person they were talking about. Todd was viewed as the suck who was working for less money than he was worth. Nick started looking for other writers to replace me, and I was glad. I would continue to receive payment until the last day, at least that was the plan.
“I’m bringing another writer into the project,” Nick said at the next meeting. He was in contact with a woman from the Seattle area that he wanted to hire. The next day he was bitching through email that she had told him to contact her agent to arrange a deal for the job. Nick lost his shit when he demanded to negotiate with her directly and she stopped responding to his messages. He didn’t handle rejection very well. I was still the only writer he had to work with and the demands I was making were viewed as obscene. Don’t waste my time. Focus on the show. Finish one thing before going onto the next. No, I’m not writing your books for a show that hasn’t been thought through yet. If I’m working on more than one show then you are paying me an equal amount for each show. we had come to a crossroad and neither of us would budge. We stood there going nowhere and that was where the show would stay until something changed.

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Golden: Part 1

The money in my bank account was starting to trickle down into numbers I was not comfortable with. I had left my job at the hospital for greener pastures, of which there were many, and was living off my savings while continuing my career as a writer. In three months, I released three books that had been shelved indefinitely while my editor/ girlfriend ignored me, and started to see other people for the last six months we were together. She thought of herself as an actress while her talents rested in the B to C categories, a few steps behind ________ (insert crappy soap opera here).
July had started and while I had been gone from the work place for three months I was still sleeping on my old work schedule. I had a set routine of things to do during the day trying to make a living from self-publishing but I would not see the fruits of my labor for another three months. I needed to get out of the house. I applied for a job with the County and I was told at the interview that I was over qualified. The last time I heard this it was a bad thing and I was never offered the job at Stryker. This time around the county was excited to hire me with little training needed to get me started.
I was checking my E-mail and shorting through messages on Facebook when I discovered a hidden file of messages that I didn’t know existed. There was the usual spam and junk mail, women claiming to find me sexy and guys saying I somehow inherited a million dollars from relatives I never heard of. There was one piece of mail that stood out, it came from a man I’ll call Nick Golden.

Hey Matthew, Have just last week discovered your writing skills through your ‘After the Day’ novels. Also, I’ve enjoyed your blog & FB page. I’ve assembled and am adding to my writing team on a TV Web Series. I took my writing training at Writers’ Workshop at Iowa U. in the mid-sixties; my filmmaking experience was mainly in Scandinavia. This series, is a near-future (2029 start date in pilot) account of an American Dynasty family, with five generations still alive and living on the post-collapse America. The politics and base assumptions seem to be aligned with yours. An economic collapse based on dollar collapse and aquifer death are principle inciting incidences. Then China comes in to collect on their collateral for their defaulted loans. If you have an interest in a ‘work for hire’ project which is right down your alley, pls be in touch. I think your character development, ear for dialogue and plot savvy, can work well within our Saga long-arc story-line. (Whereas your novels treat the domestic scene, we couple domestic with Commune-building. competition to rescue the Dynasty’s legacy, and rescue America, with international intrigue.) I’m at my S. CA home right now. I alternate between here and “Walden Lodge,” a log hunting lodge on five acres near Bellevue, WA.

I called Nick and he answered on the second ring. It was the first phone call I had in months that wasn’t a telemarketer. Nick started talking and that was the end of my side of the conversation.
“You are a hard man to find. I couldn’t find anything about you online. I was about to send a private dick out to search for you.”
I didn’t know what he was referring to, my email and Facebook page were public, there was also the comment section of my blog that could have been used.
“If you are interested in working on the television show I can email you the contract right away. This is going to be big. I’m looking at selling it to Netflix. Everyone is going to want a piece of this. I used to run a production studio in Norway. No one is going to want to pass this up.”
“Ya send me the contract and I will have my guy look it over.” My guy was my friend Judd who had just started his own company from home and worked as a freelance writer for a short period of time.
While I was trying to figure out how I was going to start balancing a second shift job, writing, and working on a TV show, my “girlfriend” sent me a text. I had not heard from her in 10 days. The last time we spoke she was asking me for money. Did I mention she worked as a nurse and made $40+ an hour. She had made several financial mistakes during the three and a half years we were together and now debt collectors were calling and she wanted to be bailed out.
“How much do you owe?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Well the first thing I would do is sit down and figure that out.”
“It’s more than I have.”
“How do you know if you haven’t added everything up?”
“I just know. Don’t you trust me?”
“It’s not about trust, it’s about numbers. If you want me to sit down with you and make a plan I will do that but I’m not just going to give you money when you won’t even figure out what is going wrong.”
“My mom gave me $400 dollars without asking any questions. Why can’t you do that?”
“How much do you want?”
“$800”
“How are you that far behind? You make four times what I did at the hospital. What are you doing with your money?”
“It’s none of your business.”
“Then you’re definitely not getting any money from me. Figure out what you’re doing wrong then call me.” I hung up the phone.
This time around she wanted to have lunch. This was something we would do several times a week and these days I barely saw her, never received text, and when I did try to contact her she would say everything was fine and that she was really busy. She never had the balls to break up with anyone.
I sat down across the table from her in the hospital cafeteria. It was a safe space, one that people wouldn’t start a conflict in, normally. She was in her scrubs and already had her food, French fries with ketchup.
“You’re mad at me,” she said eating her food.
I shook my head like I didn’t know what she was talking about. “It’s been ten days.”
“I’ve been busy,” she said. Then went ahead telling me about putting her house on the market, the bathroom remodeling job that had been taking forever (because she was fucking the handyman), putting the house on the market, the kids, the other guys kids, refinancing the van… eventually I droned her out. I didn’t care. She had no interest in me anymore and I just wanted her to say it was over so that I could move on, but that wasn’t how she worked. “So, what have you been up to?” she had a look on her face like she was expecting me to say that leaving the hospital was the worst choice I ever made, I was miserable, and that there weren’t any jobs out there. Everything I told her was the opposite.
“I have a job with the County now, Union, and full benefits. Same pay as here but no fingers or blood to clean up from the floor. I was contacted by a Hollywood producer to start writing for a showing being produced for Netflix. He wants to fly me out to Seattle to work with his group. I’m trying to schedule an interview with a Kurdish Sniper who fought ISIS in Syria for a spy thriller based on the War. A girl from Twitter is helping put it together.”
“Who is this girl? Do you like her? Why are you talking to her?”
I sat back in the chair, this was what she had been waiting for, something to use to turn on me. I had never cheated on her, always did as I was asked and now was her moment to make me the bad guy, regardless of how ridiculous it was.
“She works as a journalist on the side in Norway,” I said.
“So, you like this girl,” she said working herself up. “That’s nice. That’s really nice. So you’re leaving me?”
I tried really hard not to laugh. This was becoming absurd.
“I haven’t seen you in ten days. You appear out of nowhere asking for money because you can’t get your shit together and this is what you can come up with? Ya I’m leaving. It’s obvious you don’t want me around.”
“After three years your leaving me?”
“Take care, Kelly.”
There were messages after that. Mind games to act like she was the victim. She wanted to ultrasound for the child she had aborted early on in our relationship. I told her she could have it but of course she never showed up. She would send questions about other stupid things, excuses to write me. I told her if she wanted to talk she needed to call, I was done with this texting bullshit. She never called and I never heard from her again. A week later she posted pictures on Facebook having dinner with the Handyman who looked like Sloth from the Goonies. It was finally over.
The contract had been printed out and Judd went over it explaining that there wasn’t anything to worry about.
“Don’t talk about your books while working for them. Anything you bring up becomes property of the company. Also, whatever you create for them they own. You can’t talk about the project outside of the group for three years. It’s standard stuff.”
I signed on the dotted line and faxed it to Nick. It looked like I was going to Hollywood.

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So much to watch and nothing on

I watched Jaws for the first time in years, possibly decades, because I wanted something different from the rest of the catalog on Netflix. I wanted to watch something good. I have been diving back into the classics these days, the types of films that influenced directors and changed movies for years to come. A few weeks ago, I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A few days later it was Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I heard a story today about the director for Roma going on stage at the Oscars and making an acceptance speech. Jaws was the first movie he had seen that made him want to become a film maker. The audience laughed and he looked around wondering what part of his statement was a joke. People do not understand what great films are anymore. This is how we ended up with Michael Bay, J. J. Abrams, and a long list of wannabe film makers who try to fix everything with CGI and don’t have an original bone in their bodies.
I watched Overlord the other day. I should have known better picking up a J. J. Abrams movie well known for lens flares and bad acting. His movies lack direction and like his hit TV show Lost they are poorly written and leave more plot twist left unexplained than the entire series of Unsolved Mysteries. What I had read about Overlord was that it took place on D-Day and followed a group of soldiers sent to destroy a tower with a radar system. It was the typical WWII movie. Only a few minutes into the film I noticed that it was a lot like Band of Brothers, except for all the good stuff you enjoyed in Band of Brothers. The characters were horrible, the acting lacking, the plot thin, and the usual twist that are no longer twist and leave nothing to the imagination. This is what I hate about todays movies. Everything is CGI to the point where nobody is creative with shots or how to make things look real for the camera. No need for blood splatter these days we can use a computer to add it in? why use makeup when you can digitally create the look you want? Hollywood has become lazy. Was that a damn lens flare in the middle of the night inside a burning plane? If I see one more damn lens flare I’m throwing my television in the trash.

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