I’ve yet to meet anyone in the trailer business in D.C.; although, working at home, I don’t tend to run into too many people other than the folks from FedEx. When I first moved here, it took a while before the novelty of not having to go into an office wore off. For a good four months, I stayed in my bathrobe every day until noon. One day, a morning doctor’s appointment forced me to get dressed. When my friendly FedEx guy showed up at 10:30, he looked confused for a second, then smiled, handed over my package and said he didn’t recognize me with my clothes on. I’ve been getting dressed ever since.
The pros and cons of having a home office quickly became apparent. Advantages: Wear what you want, eat lunch whenever you want, shower when you want (up to a point), and when work is slow, go to the gym, meet a friend for coffee, shoe shop, play FreeCell, the sky’s the limit. When I’m busy, I’m not interrupted or distracted as much as I was when I worked in a noisy, active trailer house. But when my son was a toddler, it didn’t take long to see that I’d need a sitter if I wanted to get anything done. Two-year-olds simply do not keep office hours. One day, at the age of 5, he wandered into my office, answered my business line, and told my client I was out shopping. I know he was just trying to help, but I told him he was fired.
Still, there are definite drawbacks to being far away from the action. When I was in L.A., I did more than write copy. I produced radio and TV spots, directed talent, and also wrote featurettes—behind-the-scenes documentaries that show how a film is made while promoting it. They got me out of the office and on location to conduct interviews with stars and directors. For one half-hour behind-the-scenes show, my boss Andy took me with him to London to work on a film being shot there. (See yesterday’s entry.) Since he only traveled first class, so did I, which was a first for me. I was too excited to sleep, so I spent the time chatting with a flight attendant and knitting the sleeve of a sweater. At one point, Andy awoke from a deep slumber, narrowed his eyes at me and asked what the hell I was doing, so I told him. He took one look at the narrow rectangle of wool on my lap and said, “Better hurry up.”
Sometimes, I find it hard to do my job in a vacuum. I’ve worked with some amazing people over the years: editors, producers, writers, many of them remarkably creative, funny, and talented. Collaboration often leads to better material. I used to try out lines I wrote on my husband or ask him for a synonym when I got stuck. He’s a whiz at crossword puzzles, so he always had a few ideas, but they usually contained more syllables than I thought I could get away with. Generally, copy has to stay simple, a guideline I wish the legal profession would take under consideration. But when I see what he has to read and write for his law profession, it’s clear he’s the one with the grown-up job in the house. What he calls a “brief” contains more words than I write in six months.
I miss my colleagues, many of whom became great friends over the years. A lot of them started out when I did, in their early 20s, so in a sense, we grew up together. Now, we’re the older generation. Occasionally, I get calls from potential clients I’ve never met and they often sound so young. I try my best to make a good impression, but there are exceptions. Recently, some kid called and demanded to know what I’ve done and what I charge. I guess I was tired or didn’t want the job badly enough because I told him to ask his mother. He didn’t call back. Maybe his mom will.
Speaking of moms, my husband took my son to the pool, but they’re going to come back hungry and it’s my turn to fix dinner. We’re having catfish—the only fish my son will eat. Maybe it’s because we have a cat. I’m not sure. I try to cook it so it’ll seem like chicken fingers, but he isn’t fooled. The cat won’t even eat it. Fortunately, we’ve got ketchup, which, in our house, is a mom’s best friend.