Awards season is over. Long live the Academy.
It was the morning after the Oscars. 8:00 am. I was supposed to have been up an hour ago. Were any of last night’s attendees up yet? Had anyone even gone to bed? Who among the nominees was jumping in to their next project? Who among the winners was sleeping in? Why was I so dehydrated?
These thoughts accompanied me, the non-Oscar participant, whose next project was to get out of bed and ready for work.
The morning sun was positioned just enough beneath the horizon to avoid major disturbance in my bedroom. I laid in bed, deflated after a low-key weekend despite living a stone’s throw from Sir Elton’s annual viewing party. Spine pressed heavily into the mattress, my toes, then fingers, twitched to life underneath the duvet. Turning my face towards the ceiling, my eyes tugged in their sockets, like pebbles in a slingshot. God, I don’t want tooooooo.
My phone blinked to life on the nightstand. Perhaps San Vicente was still closed to thru traffic and I’d get to work from home, a notion retracted the moment it was thought. San Vicente isn’t the 405 freeway, idiot. There’s life outside of Weho, remember?
My brain had a point. I grabbed my phone and swiped at the lock screen.
Happy new year, Lindzz! DID YOU SEE? Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay last night… will you be next? Only one way to find out — it’s go time!
My teeth clenched as a fire cut through knots in my long intestine. Gary was on to me in the most encouraging of tones. It had been four years since I agreed to work on the script, and I admired him for trusting me. I wondered how much longer it would last. Putting the phone down, I rolled onto my side and stared off into nowhere for another five minutes.
I’ve got 26 days, I thought. I can do this. I’d yet to type the first page of the draft. The farthest I’d gotten was a Google search on how to write a byline, falling down a rabbit hole with vegan, royalty-free YouTube at the end of it. I’d spent too much time there rather than on the script and building a high-definition dream life of my own. I knew better. Vegan YouTube didn’t promise me a rose garden. But neither did Gary. He just showed up, every time.
“I can’t stand awards shows. Such a bombastic parade with the intent to sell more shit that people don’t need,” Gary remarked, running a thumb along his scruffy jawline. We were at a coffee shop near my apartment that had a deal on vanilla lattes during the 3pm slump. Saturdays we used to flee there with Evernotes in tow, trying to get something done. But mostly we just talked smack about the industry. “I mean, come on, Nicholas Cage has an award. How’s that for politics? I’ve always felt that if you’re doing it for awards, for the fame, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.”
I uncrossed my arms and dipped my gaze into my coffee cup. I loved him, my little brother, and his subtle, impassioned exhibition, ripe with hard truth. But it all sounded like something a loser would say.
Gary was no loser — if anything, he was a realist, young, a storyteller and visual craftsman. Sometimes I envied his arrogance, which both drove and grounded him, and how he moved with instinct, leading with his manhood. Save from the silver hammer of time, nothing was going to stop him and his dream of being a director. But even he knew that faith and a great idea wasn’t enough, not here. Not in next-generation Los Angeles.
Me, well, I was just tired, and getting old. Tired, and living in the matrix. Comparison was killing my dreams. I needed to learn how to lead with my tits.
“All the politics, Hollywood royalty, the uber-elite. Once you make it about awards, or money, all credibility goes out the window. All of it.” He shifted positions slightly, getting a little fired up on the subject. I let him go on, noticing the indentations his shoulders had left in the booth’s upholstery. “If that’s what you really want, though, then why not?” Pausing between breaths, he continued, “Just remember that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. That statue will not be the heaviest thing you carry in this lifetime.”
Would it ever get old, living someone else’s dream come true? My thoughts, soggy and falling to pieces, floated to the bottom of my cup.
That was it. I turned over and reached for my phone, a piece of ceiling fan dust narrowly missing my eye. Blind with resolve, I wondered how long it would last.
Heeeyyy, Gary. I’m on it. It’s go time.