2014: YEAR IN REVIEW

Here it is: my 14th annual Year in Review blog post! I’ve written one of these things on New Year’s Eve (or thereabouts) every year since 2001. Some years, it seemed like I was almost in the same place when the year ended as when it began. This is not one of those years!

– As the year started, I was beginning my 12th year of living in New York City, and my 8th year working at Dancing Classrooms — although I had cut down my hours to 25 a week so I’d have more time to write. I was working on Obscenity (as always) and listening to podcasts about TV writing — I had decided not to pursue screenwriting years ago, but writing Rocket had been such a great experience I was changing my mindBesides that, Caroline and I were basically wiling away the winter by finishing our Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse marathon.

– Entered the TV writing fellowships and several screenwriting competitions with my writing partner Teresa, using our first pilot script Rocket, as well as a spec script for Elementary, the CBS Sherlock Holmes series. In the end, we didn’t get any of them, but we did get some very encouraging feedback from some professional writers in Hollywood, and from one of the contests. This made me start to think about moving to LA to really try to start a career in TV.

– At the end of April, I was laid off from my job, which I knew was coming. One less tie to New York.

– At the beginning of May, to celebrate my new freedom, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for several years — take a week-long hike on the Appalachian Trail. I walked for nine days, starting at the Massachusetts/Vermont border and walking south, crossing Massachusetts and most of Connecticut before exhaustion set in and I hitched a ride to the Metro North. As I headed south, I got to watch winter change into spring. I walked 120 miles.

– In June, I traveled to LA for two weeks so Teresa and I could plot our next moves. We outlined a draft of our second pilot script, Penitent, did research for a spec script for the following year’s fellowships, hatched a plan for our third pilot, Bordertown, and met with a TV writer about Rocket and how to break into the business. Got to know LA much better, and finally decided to give the move a shot.

– Enjoyed one last New York summer. Many walks in the park. A wonderful beach trip with Caroline, Liz and Talitha. Bob Ross painting party. A couple lousy temp jobs.

– Visited my mom in Suttons Bay in July with Caroline and her parents, David and Alice. This was the first meeting of the parents and it went wonderfully. We went to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, sampled the local wine (it gets better every year), hit the beach, worked on a puzzle, and caught a performance of Brahms’s 4th Symphony at Interlochen. The Traverse City are in the summer time gives Michigan a good name!

– In August, I went for a hike with Ryan and his brother Trevor to do the 107-mile section of the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park. Rain on the first few days caused a lot of blisters, but afterward the park became absolutely beautiful. Extraordinary views from the Blue Ridge! We saw a black bear and a buck up close. We had some delicious blackberry ice cream at the many waysides — this is the way to hike! It brought my final number of AT miles in the last 3 years to nearly five hundred (493 miles, 227 of them in 2014).

– I spent the last few weeks of August culling the stuff I had accumulated in three years of living with Liz. I sold books and furniture, threw out bags and bags of garbage, and put the rest of my stuff into storage. After a few last weeks, in which I stayed with Caroline, I said some tearful goodbyes, and headed to LA.

– I drove with my dad from New York to Michigan, where I acquired my mom’s old car for the cost of the trade-in. We drove west across the northern part of the country, visiting eight states I’d never been to before in the process: Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. We stopped at Badlands National Park, Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, Bozeman (where we were hosted by Dana and Justin), Yellowstone, Salt Lake City (briefly), Arches National Park (where we camped for a whole day and explored one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen on foot), and Las Vegas (which was depressing).

– Caroline sent one of her stuffed bunnies, Bunny Number Three, to share my adventure in LA. As a joke, I created a Twitter account, @BunnyThree, so Bunny could share his impressions of the trip and living in California. I might be an Internet naïf, but I was amazed when Bunny attracted a small following of strangers. Twitter! *shakes head* 🙂

– Arrived in Los Angeles on October 2. I was very lucky to get an apartment with one of Teresa’s friends, Priscilla, on the border of Hollywood and Los Feliz (no one seems to agree which neighborhood it’s actually in). Joined a writing group with some new friends — Peter, Alex, Hayden, Dianne, and others. Started attending a French discussion group in Century City parce que le français me manque, il fait trop longtemps que je ne le parle pas; also attended a Sunday free writing group led by Ivan, and tried a few hiking groups though nothing struck. Went on a number of hikes in Griffith Park, alone or with Julie, started an LA newbies “support group” with Jenny, went to DW screening at District Pub, found a part-time job as a personal assistant.

– In less than a month, Teresa and I wrote a draft of our second pilot, Penitent, nearly from scratch (we had tried a draft over the summer but only come up with a few worthwhile scenes). We workshopped it with our group in December and were very encouraged.

– Threw a surprise birthday party for Caroline at Bareburger in New York, then spent Thanksgiving at her parent’s house in DC. My mom and Aunt Mary also attended. The families officially melded this year.

– In December, Teresa and I created and outlined our third original script, Bordertown, and began writing the first draft.

– After another brief trip to New York to get my stuff out of storage and send it to LA, I went home to Michigan for the holidays. I spent Christmas with my dad and Kris (for the first time in years), then headed up to Suttons Bay to spend New Year’s with my mom, Aunt Mary and cousin Erik.

New Year’s Resolutions: Nothing major. Work really hard, try not to become too boring. Work towards becoming a professional writer each day, drink less diet cola, get a little more exercise, maybe some bigger hikes and not just Griffith Park over and over. Basically, just continue in the direction things are heading right now, because I think it’s a good one.

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