First, I will catch you up on the story. Then I will catch you up on some other events in my life since I’ve been sharing them.
“Come on in,” said Nancy.
A quick recap. Norman and I wrote a few television episodes with the intention of pitching the idea of turning his book into a TV show. We wanted to pitch it to my boss Nancy, the owner of the production company that I worked for.
Nancy was a phenomenal business woman, boss, and mentor in her own way. I learned a lot from her leadership style. She knew how to build a team, knew when to challenge her employees, and knew when to exert a little muscle. In addition to all of that, she was a black belt and could easily beat the crap out of most of us.
She lead with her door open. She only ever closed it when she had important calls and so she expected her employees to take advantage of that. If she wasn’t in her office, she was walking around checking in. Again, a great leader.
But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t nervous. I was very nervous. Sweaty nervous. Big deals make me nervous but I hide it well until I get comfortable. Then the nerves disappear. I sat down in front of her.
“I’ve been meaning to connect with you. You’ve been here a bit now. How are you doing?”
“Great,” I said. “Everyone has been very good to me as a newbie. Showed me the ropes and now mentoring me, teaching me the ins and outs. I’ve learned a lot. And then learning more when writing the episodes. Thank you so much for giving me the chance.”
It was a true statement. Yes I got the chance to write because they were stuck for options. But they still gave me all the support I needed.
“Well I’m glad everyone’s been good to you. We have a very solid team here. Not only do they create amazing content, but they support each other. Remember that as we get bigger.”
“Yeah. Bigger. We’re going to create a bunch of ancillary CDs for Harcourt’s high school history books. Do you like a challenge?”
I leaned forward showing my interest.
“Good. How’d you like to produce the entire CD series? They’re all history and from what I’ve heard that’s your strength.”
“And my passion,” I said.
“It’s settled then,” she said.
“Yes it is. Add series producer to your title. Now, you knocked because you had a question, I presume.”
“I did? I did. Yes, so speaking of growing, I have something I’d like to pitch you. A series idea. Kind of out of our element, but worth exploring.”
“How about this”, said Nancy, “how about I give you thirty minutes to pitch me instead of pre-pitching me. Next week. Monday. A week from today.”
“Really?” I said. I thought it was supposed to be difficult, more of a sale. It was too easy.
“Yes, but go before I change my mind. Get focused on your new series. We’ll send you more details today.”
I jumped up and headed for the door. “Thanks,” I said to her.
She was already working, but she looked up at me. “Thanks for your passion,” she said.
I walked to my desk and grabbed my phone and ran outside and down the street by the river. I called Norman. “Norman, we’re in. We have to pitch her next Monday.” I hung up and stood there, staring at the water and wondering how I’d gone from scarping barnacles to becoming a series producer and writer. To this day, I always remember my start – living below the poverty line. I had a phenomenal support system but I never wanted to rely on others.
It just dawned on me that during this same time – the few years between meeting Norman and getting the job as a writer – Brittany and I also adopted Patty, our adorable mutt from New Orleans. I use the word adopted lightly. Standing outside of Pat O’Brien’s, I gave forty-bucks to a shady guy. She was tiny and spray painted green. We learned from the police that she was a bait puppy, hung over fighting dogs to get them ready for battle. We paid for her, had a vet check her out, got her brother, and broke up a dog fighting ring. Then we flew home to New Jersey. She was part of our family for fifteen-years. Recently, her health deteriorated. Starting in early July, I slept on the couch every night, so I could hear if she needed help. I’d carry her down the stairs off the back porch and walk the yard with her, usually spending about an hour or so awake from 2 am to 3 am, just the two of us in the quietness of the early morning.
We said our final goodbye last Monday. Brittany warned me that that would be the worst day of my life. I should have taken her seriously. It was. I haven’t cried that much in a long time. I’ve realized all the little things I habitually did because of having a dog – checking the backdoor to see if she’s outside, checking my watch to see how long we’ve left her home, looking at her bowl corner to see if she needs water. I’m still doing this. And dammit if I don’t cry each time.
Looking back now, it’s amazing how much the few years from 2004 through 2006 impacted so much of my life moving forward. And I’m glad it did. We’ll miss you, Patty.