The 80’s were-
After getting the news that Wednesday was going to be our last full day at Ringer, me and a handful of my fellow discharged writers went to an impromptu lunch at Akasha in Culver City.
Akasha is an upscale health food restaurant and cafe. For months, it had been in our rotation of takeout places. I had gotten used to their tasty but cold tempeh sandwich, soggy from steaming itself inside its takeout container. I had gotten used to eating it, with no particular relish, in our windowless writers room, while we were collectively locked in some seemingly intractable story problem or another. All year long, “Akasha” was to me that soggy sandwich; a piece of laminated paper in our office’s menu binder; and also, more exotically, as an occasional candidate for a shooting location: At least five scenes from this season were shot inside the restaurant or its cafe section, including the climax of my first episode.
But when my plate arrived at our table yesterday, my conception of Akasha shifted. My usually drab sandwich was fresh, hot, delicious, and elegantly plated. Just as we had escaped the airless box of the writers room, the tempeh sandwich had escaped its soggy takeout box. This sandwich, I thought, can only be a harbinger of good things to come! Possibilities for rejuvenation, personal renewal! The world outside was so much brighter and shinier than I, locked in the gears of my job, had been noticing!
I looked around, realizing how beautiful Akasha’s space is. How nice the weather outside was. I was suddenly staring down the reality of the hiatus in front of me, the time I would have to read and think and have fun and work on other projects—tunnel vision no more!—and I was excited.
My perception dilated, I then noticed how many famous and well-established industry people surrounded me, eating. Screenwriters. Directors. Executives. How well dressed and expensive they looked. Actors. Models. To these folks, hot, well-plated Akasha dishes were not revelations, but mundane occurrences: a nice lunch here, a nice lunch there, everywhere a nice lunch. I noticed one of our show’s stars a few tables over, eating with a famous and long-working director. I became increasingly aware that the conversation me and the other writers were having was all about staffing season, and a big part of that was talking about who we know: at the studios, at the networks, among the writers who have pilots in production. As my fellow writers then got up to say hello to some of these people they know, my epiphany died in my throat. I knew OF some of these people, but I didn’t KNOW any of them. I grew increasingly quiet as the conversation continued. I thought to myself: this is not my world! I don’t know anybody! I don’t even have a job anymore!
But my anxiety gradually subsided.
The actor joined our table and we chatted with him about the show for a while before hitting the street together. We made our way back to the lot for the remainder of our last day. Once I’d worked about thirty pounds worth of “Ringer” scripts into the locked, slot-topped shred bin, the contents of my office fit into the bottom half of a small box. I said my goodbyes to some people and then held off on saying goodbye to others, reasoning that I’d stop by at least one more time before production wraps.*
*(It took writing this post to realize it has absolutely no point, so if you’re wondering what the takeaway is: Akasha’s tempeh sandwich is really good.)