Don’t ask me what my favorite new tv shows of this past season are. I haven’t seen any of them.
In fact, in the past year, I have picked up exactly one new television show, and that is Top Chef, a show that has been on for eleventy bajillion years.* And now that it is over, I basically watch only one television show with any semblance of regularity.
As a statistic, I’m weird. Americans spend about 2.7 hours a day watching television compared to my half hour or so. But what makes all this even weirder is that I used to work in television. I went to comedy shows at night. I read TV scripts on weekends. I watched terrible pilot after boring pilot after not-so-bad pilot.** Television was my life.***
And now I barely watch it.
I can’t say exactly that I miss watching television … if I missed it, I’d watch it more, and the reality is that at this point, most evenings, I’d rather read the New Yorker or my blog feed or dick around on the Internets. And I don’t miss the work that much either, although I value and recognize the skills I gained from my years in the industry.
What I do miss though, palpably, is this feeling of belonging, of knowing my place in the world of Hollywood. I miss knowing who the presidents of every studio and network are. I miss keeping up with the petty industry gossip of who was leaving what agency for what managerial opportunity. I miss that feeling that everyone was just a couple degrees apart. Perversely I even miss the things that I used to hate, like the industry drinks**** and the constant shop talk.*****
For a while, I would make isolated stabs to keep up with it all. Just because I didn’t work in television didn’t mean I couldn’t read Deadline Hollywood. I could anticipate the fall slate of television shows. I could even follow the ratings.
But it wasn’t the same.
And gradually, my memory of Hollywood, and its memory of me started to atrophy.
I defriended agency assistants who I had met once or twice and vice versa. I forgot the names of writers and agents who I used to call on a regular basis.
In the industry, of course, I was only ever a bit player. For all but a few that had become my friends, I was forgotten in weeks if not days.*******
Now of course, I have another life.******** In a different city, in a different type of job, in an industry much more diffuse. People don’t know me the way that they used to, even bit player that I was. My network of connections is small. Ironically, San Francisco, tiny as it is, feels large and anonymous compared to Hollywood where I felt intrinsically tied to so many people.
I’m not sure if all this contributes to my general meh-ness about San Francisco. I do know that sometimes I have felt frustrated by the feeling of having to find my way in the world again. Of having to start over and learn new jargon, new people that matter. Of having to build my web of connections all over again?
Didn’t I do this already, I think to myself.
I don’t regret my choices past, or present. TV was the right place for me then, and the nonprofit/policy sector is the right place for me now.
A lot of the time I am proud of myself for having taken the path less taken.
But some days I miss that sense of rootedness that comes from spending year after year in an industry. And I wonder how much longer will I continue to feel like an Angeleno transplant on San Francisco soil.
* Technically speaking, this is an exaggeration as eleventy bajillion isn’t a number.
** This sentence omits the reality that some of the pilots were quite good.
*** Television was not literally my life. This metaphor is intended to suggest that television was a very large part of my life.
**** While this statement is true, it masks my deep inner conflict about industry drinks. I’d say that to be completely truthful, I’d have to say that I miss industry drinks only a very, very little most of the time, except for the industry drinks that were really drinks with actual friends in the industry, which I miss much, much more.
***** Okay, this is kind of a lie. It would be more accurate to say that I loved to hate on shop talk. Or that sometimes I would get tired of shop talk. But I loved shop talk. We all did.
******* Please note, I cannot actually vouch for the complete validity of this claim. While I would assume that most everyone forgot about me very quickly, I don’t actually know this for fact. If you would like to test this theory, I would recommend sneaking onto the CBS lot. If you ask people if they know Ruchi and they say, “Who?” well, you will then be in the unenviably position of asking them to figure out when they forgot about me if they ever knew me in the first place.
******** This is not literally true as I did not die and experience reincarnation.