I Sold a Screenplay ... And I'm Still Broke

Yesterday, I finally hit send on a screenplay I've been WORKING on since March and thinking about since way way before that even. So why can't I afford lunch?
Publish date:
October 12, 2011
career, money, jobs

This post was supposed to be written last night, but I was too exhausted to think about anything other than Blair Waldorf's baby and a bottle of Whole Foods red. A friend texted, "Where the hell have you been?!" I struggled to peck at my iPhone, "Working like a whackadoo!" She shot back, "Pfft! Please!!"

No one I know thinks I actually have a job. Probably because most days this is the view from my desk.

This isn't a side-of-the-street couch. That spot's worn down for a reason. Things have been accomplished there. I wrote a book in my jammy jams in that spot. And yesterday? Yesterday, I finally hit send on a screenplay I've been WORKING on since March and thinking about since way way before that even. I was sorta excited (the soft lighting Hollywood glow wears off by the zillionth draft) until I hit refresh on my Gmail and saw this.

Exactly. First thing crazy people ask me after they find out what I "do" (highjack my life for a living) is where I hide all my millions. Reminds me of a party joke I used to tell when I was 12: Where does Sadaam Hussein keep his armies? Dramatic pause. Up his sleevies! That killed during Desert Storm. Seventeen years later and I'm still slanging one-liners for my dinner.

This one girl on Twitter told me she'd finished my book before she realized it was actually a memoir, then she paid me a sincere compliment by saying it wasn't "ghetto." This particular Twitterer also totally related to "the character in the book" because she seemed so "real," which is uber meta because "the character" she read about is the real me just pressed down into pages, which then were read by a Hollywood producer, who then told me to turn that me into a character in a movie.

Anyway, hitting send on that 117-page behemoth put my brain in a place between hyper and hibernation mode. I don't know what to do with myself anymore. Thankfully, the homeless man who hangs out in the alley next to my building has some suggestions.

"Let your hair grow out," he said from his concrete sitting room. The eerie thing is my hair is growing out. I have no clue what his hair is doing because I assume his life sucks and I therefore avert my eyes out of respect and sympathy when I pass him on my way to "work."

I spend most of my 11 to 7's at a Smithsonian museum because they have free bad coffee every Wednesday through Sunday along with electricity and wifi. It'd be a freelancer's dream if not for all the smelly bums. This make me sound like a snooty rich bitch, of course, if not for the clear examples to the contrary above. How can I have my nose in the air when in the end I rarely bathe until around noon -- on a very productive day.

People without permanent residences need disgusting free caffeine too, perhaps even more than I do. A decent cup of joe makes everybody feel like a real working stiff. Still, whenever I sniff HomelessSanta Sans Pants -- so named because he looks like Santa Claus and because he only wears booty shorts -- I get so pissed off, which perfectly describes the top notes of Wandering Biker Chick's perfume. And the 60-year-old lady who tells me every day that she's working on a grant proposal? I'm positive she playing solitaire.

All this is to say I spend my days trying to avoid being homeless while also being surrounded by them which infuriates me because, in the end, we're not all that different. I imagine their days are pretty similar to mine -- wake up, figure out how much I can't spend on lunch, stalk the streets of DC looking for a place to sit the hell down and then harass people for money. With one foot out of the foot out of the workforce and the other playing eeny meeny miny moe with mounting bills, at almost 31 sometimes I've never felt further away from being a real live grown up.

Perhaps all this sad sacking is probably just screenplay withdrawal. Because in the end I do indeed have a job. A job no one can technically fire me from. Being myself and then telling anybody who gives a care is a steady gig. Everyday me and my ramshackle band of freelancers hit the streets right alongside Vagabond Sassoon and his band of freeloaders, each group hoping to eek out a living with whatever's in their pockets.