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<editorsnote> Hi, I'm Jen Friel, and we here at TNTML examine the lives of nerds outside of the basements and into the social media, and dating world.  We have over 75 peeps that write about their life in real time. (Real nerds, real time, real deal.) Sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the stories!! </editorsnote>

 

 

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Monday
Dec182017

#RealDeal: Here's what it's like to have your life turned into a TV show (& then to have it actually sell) PT 2 

I feel like the title says it best, but here's how Jerry Bruckheimer bought my life rights, and how my life was turned into a put pilot for CBS. This is part 2, here is part 1. 

Needless to say, I had quite a bit of adjustment in August to Mid-September 2015. I had come back to LA in a "big way," but I was still adjusting myself to the physicality to being here. To my surprise, I didn't go back to "Talk Nerdy" friends, I didn't need to talk about things in the same way that I had for all those years; I not only no longer wanted to be the center of attention, I wanted the exact opposite. I purposefully put myself in positions where I had more of a "supporting role" (I discovered it was more fulfilling)

Once I had developed (from my perspective) true confidence and less of a show of bravdo, I stopped needing to prove things to anyone else (or most importantly to myself). How did I get this far with this project? Because I don't give up on anything I believe in, and even when I THINK I've given up on something, it was more likely than not a little "universal push" and a quick smack in the face of a "told ya so! You got what you wanted, just not how you expected, but aren't you glad you listened???"

I think of those "universal pushes" like those corny "let go" memes people publish. It's easy to publish a picture, harder to actually do it. 

Alrite, alrite onto the post ... January 2016 quickly rolled around, and as did the pilot announcements. While I was blissfully unaware of the commencement of pilot season, I was surely not going to make the same mistake twice. The only entertainment website I knew that had "up to the minute details" was Deadline, so I set an auto refresh chrome extension on my browser to refresh every 5 seconds in the hopes of seeing the EXACT moment any sort of announcement was made. 

Here were some of the pilots Talk Nerdy went up against ... 

That's us at the bottom sans the red font and update.

Oh but one website actually considered us one of the top pilots picks ... 

I did not pay them to write this.

As anyone could imagine pending theoretical life changing news, the waiting game turned me into a basket case with eyes as wide as saucers for just shy of 30 days. I obviously knew there was nothing I could do, but that didn't mean that I mentally wasn't trying to will the powers that be into submission. 

Clearly this is not productive, I thought one day hopping on airbnb. Remember, Talk Nerdy was just one of my projects at that time. I still had my startup, and was still consulting (startups pay peanuts, and I wanted to "financially up" my $10 hustling game). Bottom line, I couldn't afford to be a crazy pants. 

I settled on an airstream in the middle of mountains in Malibu, and chose to stare at actual stars and not anything Hollywood had to offer. 

See this post, and this is the actual airstream ... 

I realized in that moment that ignorance was truly bliss and man did I miss island life. The project actually selling couldn't be further from my mind, again, I was just happy that I could leverage the line "Jerry Bruckheimer bought my life rights." Being back in LA changed everything. My phone wouldn't stop with texts, or social media messages from friends who knew Talk Nerdy was front and television center. 

I joked with my agents saying that this is a form of sadomasochism. I asked how they do this multiple times a year, but then quickly realized that it must be different from their side of the table. 

Nevermind. 

After a full month of waiting for a decision, on February 9th, I got another email: 

Instead of responding, I called asking, "what's a Les Moonves?" I didn't even think to google it because I wasn't even sure if it was a person or a french dessert. 

I got directly through to my agent who was surprised at the question, but also very quickly answered, "he's the chairman and President of CBS." 

"That makes sense," I said brushing off my naive nelly nature. "So what are the next steps?" 

It got down between Talk Nerdy and The Great Outdoors, and Les picked The Great Outdoors. That doesn't mean you're out for the rest of pilot season, another network could still come into play, she said.  

Which made sense from my perspective because the other networks had also placed a bid. 

I had also been told that if Talk Nerdy DID make it to a pilot order, it was top pickings for having The Big Bang Theory leadin. From my perspective (and to continue a narrative), I thought it was super badass, I realized if it did end up in the slot behind Big Bang that EVERYTHING WOULD HAVE COME FULL CIRCLE!! This website STARTED with The Big Bang Theory!! 

When I started Talk Nerdy back in 09, I set up our SEO to be found by the ORM of the show. I wanted to be aligned with the show digitally, but what I got was even more than I could have ever imagined. 


<tangent> When I was physically packing the six little boxes that I had in the back of the Ford Fiesta (from when I was moving into it) ... 

... I got a call from my buddy Noa, who said I had a new fan of the blog. 

Oh yeah, who I asked?

Do you know the show The Big Bang Theory? 

Not needing to hear anything more, I began uncontrollably sobbing as he finished the fourth word. I quickly made it down to my knees (that's what she said) inside the garage overhang sobbing sobbing sobbing.

And when I say "uncontrollably sobbing" I literally mean uncontrollably sobbing

Kaley Cuoco - he said confused. She's a fan of yours, can we get her and the whole cast a shirt or something? 

I couldn't speak, I continued to sob, and concurrently turned a former Italian gangster into an equally blubbery mess. He then began tearing up and said "I don't even know why I'm crying?
Why are you crying?
WHY ARE WE CRYING??" 

Barely able to speak I explained that in this exact moment I was putting bins inside the Ford Fiesta. I didn't know I needed a sign, but the fact that you are calling me in this exact moment can't be a coincidence. I need to keep going with what I'm doing, I just can't see it all yet. 

We cried it out for another minute or two as I thanked him for the call. 

"I love you, Friel. You're a good one," he said.

I think I said I love you too, I'm assuming I did, I was just verklempt with all of the emotion. Give me a moment, talk amongst yourselves ... 

Four months later, Noa proved to do more than just give the cast shirts ... that I didn't have because I couldn't afford them ... he called asking if I wanted an exclusive of Kaley and (then boyfriend) Chris French singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" benefiting the humane society. (I had originally shown Noa how to use Ustream, and also shown Kaley how to use social media, as she had up until 2010 been resistant.) 

Here's the feed & here's also the original post from 2010 (mind you the poor dear had just broken her foot in a horse back riding accident, but what an awesome human being for giving the exclusive and shout out) ... 

Click the black box (it's going to ask you to authorize flash)

Within less than a year of starting this website, I got to the CEO of AOL, the CEO of Ford, and the cast of The Big Bang Theory (who again, were directly my target). At this point, everything and nothing surprised me.

The first night sleeping in the Ford Fiesta wound up being (still to this day) the best night sleep I've ever had. I knew I was moving towards a direction that was "my future" and I was willing to temporarily risk physical hunger in exchange for the feeding of my soul. </tangent> 

Alrite, so now you have the back story. So when I say it was a true disappointment not getting that spot, I really fucking meant it!! 

HOW COULD THIS NOT HAVE HAPPENED!!!!! NERD SHOW! NERD PILOT NAME!!!!! COMMON SENSE!!! 

Instead of getting (/waiting on) any more updates via my agent, I reached out to my network of friends (one of whom I met at the Wonder Woman orgy) asking for an independent evaluation of my situation. 

Two days later I had a response ... 

I thanked her for the research and was then told by another friend that Les (we're on a first name basis now that I know he's not edible), is notorious for taking a long time to make a decision on pilots just so other networks can't get whatever he passed on. Even though I had a put pilot (aka the holy grail of both talent attached and financial commitment), the project clearly wasn't going to happen in its current form. 

Being back in LA meant that I'd continue with my own networking, and I actually found on Tinder the guy who made the decision to let CBS take the bid for Talk Nerdy. 

"You became too expensive," he said over drinks upon the forming of a newfound friendship. 

I also met on Hinge the guy that physically wrote my life rights agreement. I didn't believe him at first, so he pulled up my contract on his computer ... 

I then told him about the back story of Talk Nerdy and he couldn't believe it ... 

 

How could Bruckheimer have bought my life rights, I thought and people involved not know the back story? I found that strange but again ...

... not that any of that mattered because from my perspective, it was like having a kid go to college. The fact that they wanted it was great, but it also made me question what they were pitching, and if I could do it differently. 

I emailed my agents on February 12th and asked for the pilot that they presented. I knew previously that Morgan had sold the concept based upon her name, Bruckheimer's, the name of the website, and a log line, but I didn't know much else. 

Upon receiving the draft, I posted this photo in social ... 

I knew that the show at that point wasn't going to go forward for this pilot season, but that didn't mean I was willing to give up on the faint shot of a potential hail Mary. 

I can't give up, I kept thinking. There has to be a miracle in here somewhere, this is all too close. 

Oh yeah, no miracle. At least, maybe not that day, week, or month. 

I put the pilot out of my mind as best as I could, and if anyone asked about it, I pulled the LA producer card of "it's in development." 

In July, I had emailed my agents asking if they had any updates on the option being renewed. This would be the third renewal, and the third time has to be the charm, right? I mean, RIGHT??? 

After 15 years Bruckheimer and Warner Brothers decided to part ways ...

So NOW you decide you're just not that into each other I thought?? Ah, fuck. I didn't even ask my agent what the partnership termination meant (while I was historically pretty clueless I could for the first time pretty clearly see the writing on the wall, er monitor)

Like any good nerd will tell you, the game is only over if you run out of lives. As long as I was still living and breathing, why wouldn't I just try again? Albeit, I'm not a Bruckheimer, but I know a lot of really random people. 

In July of 2016, I got my life rights, trademarks, and intellectual property back. Jerry Bruckheimer basically just put a stamp of approval on this website, my name (technically career), and I was blessed with a whollleeee lotta press and intellectual property that was still considered hot (as long as nerds were still a "thing")

Time to tag in new players, I thought, only this time I have the home court advantage.

Click here to read part 3


#nerdsunite 

Noa also has a podcast, btw. Not only is it good content, but listen even if you just want to fall asleep. He's got a voice like Morgan Freeman. 

Sunday
Dec172017

#RealDeal: Here's what it's like to have your life turned into a TV show (& then to have it actually sell)

If I didn't actually live this story myself, I'm not sure I would believe it. I've purposefully included as many screenshots as possible (which I'm fortunate that I talked to my agents mostly via email). The truth really is stranger than fiction and this little fucking nerdy website is the little engine that could. 

Maestro ... 

In 2012, I fell into my first of many clichés - after 3 years and thousands of blog posts, I had finally gotten everything that I had wanted and realized I didn't want any of it.

I started this website on November 3, 2009 after seeing with my own eyes the trend that nerds were going to finally be considered "hot." Intelligence was going to be the "new sexy" and I wanted to time stamp my ideas in the space to use as a resume (of sorts) to get whatever job I was after.

Life had other plans (giving me a career - not just "a job") and with a tremendous amount of hard work and hustling I grew with my bare hands what is now a "brand." As any entrepreneur will tell you though, that tremendous amount of hard work came with a side of sacrifice in the form of family and friends. 

Putting blinders on with my head down, I didn't know it at the time, but began executing the "influencer marketing trend" seven years before others. I chose to (what I called) "barter" social media to live for a year (getting to 12 states with $10 to my name). During that year I lived in a car and couch surfed purposefully never staying with family or current friends (I called it the unapologetically awesome 2010 tour, since I wasn't sure people would want to sponsor someone without a home); I was only interested in meeting/ connecting with people who "got" social media like I did and could see that the way we were receiving our information was going to change - rapidly. 

My commitment to this website lead to "internet fame" (which let's be real came from the fact that I had the balls to do a lot of dumb shit that would get the majority of people either arrested or six feet under).

Either way, I took pride in the growing traffic but as my own honesty grew with each post I wasn't sure how happy any of it made me anymore. After having a nervous breakdown in 2007, I knew I couldn't survive doing anything that didn't make me happy - even if it was something I had built myself. 

The straw that broke the camels back was when I had (by my own definition at the time) the best night of my life, and had no one to share it with. I spent so many years in single player game mode that when it came time to tag team player two, I had no options. 

Six very long and frustrating months later, I was introduced to Oprah's Love Ambassador (that's an actual thing, but don't consider this an endorsement of any kind), who was interested in conducting a nationwide search for one of her "very eligible" and wealthy bachelor clients (she reached out to see if I could help her with her social media strategy)

At the time, I had a lot of (truly) random offers. Books, TV shows, new sponsors ... I was taking what they call "generals" with studio heads, show runners, executive producers, and agencies. Even with all of the other shiny things, there was something about this woman and this situation that my brain wouldn't/couldn't shake. 

I called, texted and emailed this woman, and while I was standing in a lingerie shop on Hollywood Blvd (I was going to a Playboy Mansion party that night) she finally called. 

She had asked what some of my initial steps were (in terms of marketing) and I said I need a one sheet on the type of woman he's interested in. For me to be able to do the job right, I'd need to reverse engineer her personality type to be able to target accurately. 

"How old are you?" she asked. 

"I'm 28," I said. 

"Do you want to get married and have children?" 

"Yes," I said. 

"You might be the person I'm looking for." 

Ha.Ha.Ha. I thought. Like I'm going to just be the type of person that "falls in love" and gets "swept off her feet" by an international man of mystery who's apparently fully loaded (and I'm not talking about his wallet)

At this point I dated half of Los Angeles and was still single so clearly, I did not know what I was doing and here was this person that could help; I'd be an idiot not to accept.

As a lifelong, card carrying member of the "workaholics" club, it shockingly started to make sense that I would meet someone through working together in some capacity. Besides, I thought, there was no downfall. If we meet and fall in love, great! I'll have found my second player. If we meet and there's no chemistry, great! I can get to know him and have a better idea in terms of the kind of woman he's looking for. 

I then went through the "bachelorette onboarding process" which included a questionnaire and back and forth email communications done through the matchmaker (that was done to protect the public identity of her client)

On April 6th, I was then flown out to Bal Harbour (just outside of Miami) and was sent the confirmation for my hotel reservation at the St. Regis.

Mind you, I had no clue who this guy was, what he looked like, all I had to go on was the research I had done on the matchmaker and the word of my manager that this was legit. He laughed when I called him from the town car on the way over to the hotel (they even sent a car service)

"This really is normal for you isn't it?"

While the blind date part was new, the "destination dating" wasn't.

<tangent> I still laugh at getting ditched in my bikini in Miami. THAT story was priceless. </tangent> 

"I'm open to whatever comes my way in terms of love," I said. "There's no downside." (Plus being internet famous meant safety was a tweet away, which based upon the level of engagement at the time - TNTML had proven itself to be faster than 911.

To my surprise, I realized after our first date that I WAS the type of person that could "fall in love" and be "swept off my feet" by an international man of mystery who's in person EVEN MORE extraordinary than he seemed on paper. 

Dating someone who was independently wealthy meant that my own concept of time began to change. I didn't have to wait for anything anymore. Removing any sort of waiting period from two naturally ambitious people lead to life going into overdrive. 

I then went from having $10 to my name HUSTLING for every last BIT of anything I needed to survive, to having (quite literally) "it all."

Yes, the private jet adds for good storytelling, but the "it all" I'm referencing was the fact that I finally felt like I had a connection with someone (which, outside of a job, was all I was really after in starting this website). While I was proud of what I had built, it was a no brainer that my new life was more fulfilling than my last one.

Gone were the days of sitting behind my computer with my headphones on for hours publishing my deepest thoughts and then (hilariously) attempting to get up from the desk barely able to walk (due to not noticing that both feet had fallen asleep)

I instead sat in a bathrobe cuddled on a comfy couch drinking wine (of course while practicing the crane - see below), talking about the universe, and reading while he played video games; I had found my version of heaven operating in two player mode, and was ready for Talk Nerdy's game to end. 

Look ma, I'm capable of intimacy!! 

I then ghosted Los Angeles, this blog (out of respect for the relationship), and moved to an island in an income tax free state. To say it was an adjustment at first was an understatement. I had previously spent my entire adult life in big cities where the follow up question to "what's your name" is "what do you do?" People on the island didn't talk about what they did, or anything pop culture or tech related (my two biggest passions). It was less "world domination" and more about the closeness of the community.

Much like my perception of time being altered, so did my concept/ understanding about what really mattered. The icing on the cake was that my parents were a mere hour and some change away, so not only did I begin to understand and truly respect small town life, I also learned to respect (even more) the people that gave me said life. 

I'll keep the details of our relationship private, but after less than a year of dating, we broke up. While I absolutely don't regret it, it was (still to this day) my second worse life experience.

To put it in a frame of reference, the third worst life experience was losing everything I owned in the massive cockroach infestation. 

Leveling up to becoming a person and not a persona meant that the last thing I was willing to do was give a hard reset and change the game back to Los Angeles. I was having so many new and weird life experiences on the reg that there was NO WAY I was willing to give that up just because I was back in single player mode.  

My resume "special skills" now include: senior levels of IRL socialization, light breaking and entering (more on that in a moment), box jumping, archery (which I still need to develop strong enough biceps to pull back the compound bow - I'll get there), fishing, jumping off roofs into canals, cooking on a toilet seat inside of a garage, and many more adventures that I was too busy living to document. 

I was no longer going through the motions, I was truly living and experiencing life for the first time - all for myself.   

I then got my own place, and while each step of the process was painstakingly difficult, I got by with the help of my friends (and card games ... lots of card games)

Single but rarely solo, I rang in the new year, and was finally clear headed enough to start consulting again (which is great because I can do my job from anywhere). Six months into the beginning of my "new life" (whatever that meant - because for the first time in my life, I had not a fucking clue what I was doing), I received an email from my agents at CAA. 

I vividly remember standing in my kitchen when I read this ...  

It reads, AND I QUOTE:

"Hi Jen – How are you? Big plans for the 4th? We have some great news – Warner Bros. TV would like to make an offer on your blog! My brilliant colleague, xxxxx, in our TV group has more info but I wanted to chat with you about it. Great news!! I’m around this week and xxxxx and I are both around next week. What’s best for you?

X"

But, I walked away, I thought ...

But, I committed INTERNET SIN by ghosting the blog ... 

But, I spent YEARS taking generals, developing various shows with nothing working out ... 

But NOW ... NOW on an island in a 4,000 population town ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY, I somehow manage to ACTUALLY get an offer?

I used being in shock to my advantage and instead of articulating any sort of excitement, I remained cool as a cucumber responding that I was happy to hear from them, thanking them for all the hard work (which I assumed happened). Taking the sale as an opportunity, I knew that my agents would look at me differently. I on the spot pitched them another idea (I had pulled out of my ass) asking if we could discuss that opportunity as well. 

<tangent> I'm an idea factory, even if I have no idea what I'm doing, I'll come up with something. I was ABSOLUTELY made to be a content creator/ producer. </tangent> 

They agreed, and then followed up with a series of questions which revealed the producer that had also attached himself to the project. 

The content in the email is irrelevant, but see that line? "Warner Bros. and Bruckheimer would like to propose ..." 

UBER PRODUCER JERRY FUCKING BRUCKHEIMER HAS ASKED TO BUY (technically option) MY LIFE RIGHTS, TRADEMARKS, AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. THIS CANNOT BE REAL LIFE!!!

Oh no, it was absolutely real life and fortunately (due to the gentleman I had previously dated) I had an attorney from a very reputable firm (if this was a David and Goliath style conversation, I was prepared to go into negotiations heavily armed), so I messaged asking if he could work on a contingency (which I'm sure is a hilarious question to someone who charges four figures an hour)

I'm not sure if it was out of respect to the man who introduced us, or WTF style curiosity, but he agreed to take me on as a client and after just shy of a year of negotiations and paperwork the dust had settled. It's standard for an option to last for a year, so even though the paperwork/ negotiations had taken the duration of the initial contract, I wound up winning again with the option then being accepted for a renewal. 

Bruckheimer didn't buy my life rights once, he bought them twice. 

Living on the island at that time was helpful because I didn't really let a lot get to my head. I knew that with consulting I could leverage the fact that "Jerry Bruckheimer bought my life rights," and that was truly good enough for me. Having been around the rodeo previously with a show that sold to MTV, I knew how hard it was to not only sell a show but get it to air. The fact that I had even gotten this far with the blog that I walked away from was good enough for me. 

During that time, still wanting to write, I started the blog xoxoyourmom.com knowing that anything that I published on Talk Nerdy from this point on would be owned by Bruckheimer. I had purchased that domain years ago knowing that I wanted to keep Talk Nerdy young and not age to a point where I ended up alienating the audience.

Now that I had discovered what intimacy truly felt like, writing became a bit like getting back on a bike after a fall. What was I willing to reveal? What was mine? I began going through an emotional puberty of sorts (which ended up lasting a few years)

Nine months after my breakup, I wound up dating a second gentleman on the island. The first gentleman was a very very private person. Clearly wanting to go in the opposite direction (I'm assuming for protection of my ego), I wound up dating a guy who is universally considered "the unofficial mayor." While he didn't understand Hollywood, or tech, he did know the name Bruckheimer and wouldn't stop beaming with pride over my successes. 

"How involved will you be in the show?" people would regularly ask. 

I fought (tooth and nail) for the credit "based on the blog by Jen Friel" (knowing that TV credit would indefinitely change my career and life) and I'm a consulting producer. 

"So, what does that mean?" was traditionally the follow up. 

The only way I could relate what I was experiencing was to picture it like having a kid go to college. I gave birth to the thing, nurtured it, watched it grow, gave it a little bit of independence, and now it's time for it to go to college. The only thing I can hope for is that it "makes good decisions." Outside of that, it's none of my business. They bought it (again technically optioned), so it's their right to do with it as they see fit. 

But, it's your life story that's going to be on TV, they would typically say. 

That's if it sells, I'd say laughing. 

Less than a year into dating (spot the pattern), the second gentleman and I parted ways. While I was grateful to both guys about the business and general life skills I had learned, I knew I was still in a building mode. I wasn't ready to be a wife and pop out babies (even though I thought I was). Before we had officially broken up, I had pitched an app idea that I had to producers back in LA.

<tangent> The casting said "calling all entrepreneurs for a new reality show!!" While the idea of going on a reality show in general freaked me out (let alone season one), the fact that it was done via a producer that I had also worked with on Deal or No Deal, NBC's 21Q, and had run into him in the offices of Bertram Van Munster (back when I was personally managing his ORM and writing his online bio). Bert and Bruckheimer produce the Amazing Race together (totally unrelated). Either way, I knew this man was legit and this casting was for something big. </tangent> 

As you all know, I wound up on Seasons 1 (and two) of the West Texas Investors Club. While living on the island, I saw that the way people received their information was still through a newspaper. I built a glorified proof of concept and talked to "the powers that be" (which was handy dating the unofficial mayor) asking if this is something they'd be interested in. They were absolutely on board, and before my appearance on the show I had my very first (and very large) advertiser attached. 

The concept around the app was going to be that subscribers would charge $2 for each event listing. It was a calendar of sorts telling people what was going on in niche tourism driven markets. They would include happy hours, clothing sales, kid friendly activities, etc. To build up the subscriber base, I offered to the local places of worship free event listings, and for the schools, free sports/ general school updates. 

It worked, and I got the investment on the show including a cash offer for a buyout when I came back to the island.

<tangent> Here's what Rooster and Butch said about the app ... 

... and here's the follow up on season 2. I still hate breakups but man can you see how much happier I am in season 2. 

Oh and here's the version the show posted as well </tangent> 

Due to the connections I had made (directly and indirectly) from the show, in August of 2014, I wound up getting a consulting gig as a social media ghostwriter for a big celebrity. I was then invited on his press tour, and went to NYC following him around assisting in whatever way he needed (just not like "that," obviously - I'm single at this point, not stupid). I got to see behind the scenes of Access Hollywood, Sirius XM, business morning shows that I wasn't yet awake enough to be able to remember where I was exactly, and the Today show. 

<tangent> Contrary to what's been said in the press, I thought Billy Bush was super nice. While it could have been a quick moment of time on someone's best behavior, he said I looked like a hybrid of Katy Perry and Jenny McCarthy. Obviously, I took that as a lovely/unexpected compliment. </tangent> 

<tangent> Oh and, I couldn't find the itinerary I knew the PR people sent back in the day, but here's an email to Troy Carter. (I met him in the green room and was introduced by the celeb that I was with with the exact phrase "you two need to know each other.") </tangent>

I didn't care to post in social where I was, nor could I (out of respect) take any photos unless it was of the celeb and whomever he had met (that I could then turn into social content).

Throwing myself back in work not only helped me emotionally go through yet another breakup, but from a physical sense it also got me off the island. 

<tangent> See, unless you "import" when you're on an island, you kinda just keep dating each other. They say down there, "you don't lose your girlfriend, you lose your turn with your girlfriend." As someone who considers themselves deeply loyal, I couldn't imagine going back and being in a THIRD relationship with someone else. I already knew everyone, and had no idea where to go or what to do next (other than exactly what I was doing in supporting this celebrity). </tangent> 

While leaving the Today show (in that first week of August), I got a call from my (now) ex saying that he had a death in his family (it very unexpected - alive one day, gone the next). Without thought, I finished up the last of my meetings and changed my flight to go back to the island.

I didn't tell anyone I was working with what was going on while it was happening. Certainly it was upsetting since I knew this person as well, but all I could do was my job and stay as strong as I could for this person that I had loved that was going through a tremendous loss.

I'm not the kinda person that will just say "I'm sorry," I'm the kinda person that actually shows up and does whatever needs to get done to help. 

I continued to stay at my parent's house (again a mere hour and some change away) and went back down to the island as often as I could to support his family. Not that there is ever a "perfect time" for something like this to happen, but I also had to be conscious of setting hard boundaries. While there was a back and forth during the initial breaking up stage, I knew I was going to continue building whatever it was that I was building and that (at least for a short period of time) this could no longer be my home. 

When someone passes suddenly, unless they happen to have a will or some sort of legal documents dictating what they wanted - the family is left to decide which ends up taking weeks and sometimes months. In this case, it meant contacting members of the family that my ex had only spoken to when he was a child. 

I need to find this family member, he said one day. It's in the address book in his house, but the house was locked up (and the owner couldn't be reached - I can't remember why)

Let's pop the lock, said one of his friends. 

I can't go in that house, he said (obviously still very shaken)

If you can pop the lock, I said to the friend, I can go into the house. Having never been in there before, I knew I would stay calm and find what was needed the fastest. 

We all piled into the pickup truck, and moments later I added "light breaking and entering" into my resume special skills. It was shockingly easy, but I'm hoping to never have to do that again. 

I then entered the home and found the book. We locked everything back up (the best we could) and headed back to my ex's home. 

The family decided to have the celebration of life on August 21st. I had just finished setting up the tables for food when my own tables turned with another email from my agent. 

I had been so focused on helping out my ex, that I COMPLETELY forgot that my show was even being considered. 

Knowing how supportive his family was, I knew they'd be THRILLED, I just wasn't sure if this was an appropriate time to say anything. 

I must have had a look of pure shock on my face, because as I was still looking down at my phone, his sister asked what was going on. 

Talk Nerdy got an offer from NBC, I said, not believing the words that were coming out of my mouth. 

To my surprise the news lightened the mood as everyone started cheering and clapping. I wanted to celebrate, but again, I was here for a different kind of celebration so I felt conflicted. 

Four days and one mental state later, I was at my parent's house when I got this email. 

Talk Nerdy was in a four way bidding war with all of the major broadcast networks. 

Three days later, the results were in and a one way ticket was booked ... 

Knowing if all of this could happen from an island, I could REALLY make waves this go round on the entertainment rodeo. 

The email saying the show finally sold happened on a Friday, and that Sunday around 9pm ET, I got a tweet in social media from my friend Brian congratulating me on the sale. 

Much like the entire process up until this point, I had no idea what was going on, or that the announcement was even happening. I then stayed up that night until (at least) four am answering every tweet, email, and Facebook comment. Had it not been for this community keeping me alive for so long, there is no way that this would have happened. I wasn't just grateful, this was just as much their moment as it was mine. 

As the cliche goes, when it rains it pours, and as the announcements continued throughout the trades, so did my appearance on the CNBC show. (My episode aired 8 days after Talk Nerdy's announcement.) 

I'm not quite sure what a "normal" reaction is in this scenario, but instead of "popping bottles with models" or celebrating in anyway, I instead put my head down and worked even harder. As someone who consistently leverages any slight chance of a door being opened (or even popping the lock myself), I was aware that all of this was just the beginning. Talk Nerdy was just my first idea of being able to document a trend (or technically a series of them)


While back in LA, I continued consulting and even started working for a startup. I thought that coming back to LA would be easy, and to my surprise it wasn't. Sounds really affected me (you have hurricane windows in South Florida), as did the crowds. I remained a bit of a hermit in those first few months, but as January 2016 came around, so did the pickups for the upcoming pilot season.

I had never really paid attention to pilot season previously, but the fact that here I was this little nerdy chick that had $10 to her name, and TOLD PEOPLE FOR YEARS THIS WOULD BE A TV SHOW  ... I was firsthand watching my internal vision become my outter reality in a big, big way. 

Stopping here as this post is long enough and needs a part two. I'll keep writing tonight so it'll go live on asap. Thanks for reading nerderinos! As you'll continue to see, it's a totally strange series of events that all became connected in a way I never could have predicted/ planned. As a strategist, I wish I could take credit for it, but as is the 2017 theme of my life, I just had to learn to let things go and take their natural course.

Click here to read part 2

#nerdsunite  



Tuesday
Dec052017

#NerdsUnite: An algorithm for happiness (an understanding of expectation vs reality)

Saturday night, I went to the Night Vale podcast with the Modern Day Shaman. Before the event, we met in downtown so I could take him to my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE BAR ON THE PLANET.

"It's like Cheers," I said, "but in LA, and not a lot of people know about it."

"I know I've driven by but never been in." 

I have some of the most randomly intelligent conversations with people here. No one cares about what you do or who you are, which means they don't want anything from you other than temporary company. I come here when I kinda want to be social, but don't know if I actually want to talk to someone; it's a case by case determination of companionship. 

"This place is incredible," he said staring at the non-ironic decor. 

As we were going to leave, I got stopped by one of my temporary company acquaintances (that I acutally like)

He asked what we were up to, and I told him about the Night Vale podcast. 

What's that? he asked. 

Nerd thing, I said. 

"You're not a nerd," he said. 

Eyes like daggers I shot back to the shaman and smiled. 

Have a great night! I said with a hug. 

Now onto a story with a polar opposite approach.

I went to an event last Tuesday with with two intentions: 1) I wanted to meet high level automotive executives and 2) I wanted to consume good food and an open bar. 

Maestro ... 

Last Monday, I sent out over 200 invites to my "non-birthday party." Everyone that knows me knows that unless it's a big birthday number, I have zero desire to host a birthday party, have a dinner, or do anything anyone tells me to. I spend 364 days of the year making sure shit gets done for other people, that I take my birthday as THE ABSOLUTE ONE DAY for myself. Parties are work, and as someone who works a lot - I'm good.

This year, however, my parents are coming into town (something that has only happened one other time in 12 years) and I wanted to introduce them to people they have heard a lot about.

I created the Facebook event and as I went through clicking people to invite, I thought well, if this person comes then I have to invite that person.

Fuck it, I said I'm inviting everyone.

I don't care if we haven't talked in years, I don't care if you don't even have my current cell number, if you've been in my life, you've been in my life! And as the non-birthday girl this is my fucking party and I can have it the way I want it.

One of the invites that went out was to my buddy Josh whom I hadn't seen in years.
He DMed me on Insta ... 

I don't normally do the "Hollywood event scene" anymore, but considering I'm part of an automotive startup, I viewed this as an opportunity to get a face to face with the executives. (Chevrolet was launching their new Corvette.) I left work early on Tuesday to get my glam game on.  

One super puffy/ furry coat, retro looking skirt, and heels (I could actually walk in) later, I grabbed an Uber and headed over to Bootsy Bellows to meet the group. I left with plenty of time to catch the shuttle (which was our ride to the party)

I was slated to arrive right on time at 5:45 and to my surprise, the driver got us there 15 minutes early. Since the club was far from being open, the "soon to be group" was instructed to wait outside.

Not a problem, I thought literally being the first person there. A few more girls arrived moments later and as we briefly chatted, we discovered none of us had any idea what was going on. Clearly, good free food and an opening bar is effective enough marketing to get any woman to your party. 

Color me every shade of WONDERFUL!!! 

My friend arrived about a half hour later, along with the other seven people in the group. By 6:30 (an hour of sidewalk standing later), the crowd grew to around 150 people as two big tour buses pulled up. The herd of randomly dressed 20 somethings gathered by the door as I purposefully stayed on the fringes. (I absolutely hate crowds.) My ADD went through the roof as I saw lots of shiny things, and forcibly had to keep my mouth from dropping when one gal showed up with her ... uh ... own show in tow.
To put it in proper perspective, let's just say her shorts were so short that I could tell she wasn't on her period. 

<tangent> I give people like that a lot of credit, man. As per the invitation I received this was a "red carpet" event. You've got the balls (er, technically lack there of in this case) to show up in THAT? 

Good on ya! </tangent>

Anywho, back to my own business, the busses quickly filled up and we were informed that they would not send more, or come back.

"Why can't they just come back?" we all wondered. 

Typically when you are offered a shuttle to the party it is because it's in the hills and they don't want the traffic. Considering we were at Bootsy Bellows on Sunset, (at the base of the hills) this was the most logical projection given the available information. 

My friend then texts HIS friend (who was one of the promoters) asking what to do. I'll give you the address and you can drive straight there. 

Done, we all thought. 30 more minutes later, (time is now close to 7:30pm, TWO FULL HOURS OF sidewalk standing later), we received the address and noticed it was downtown. No way, I said, grabbing my phone and walking over to the managing "wrangler."

This address can't be correct, I said. 

Oh it's very correct, he sharply replied. 

We're taking shuttles all the way to downtown???? (In rush hour mind you.) 

Yes, he said. 

Fuck me, I thought wondering if I should just ditch the event all together.

Before I finished the thought I heard, "I can take you in my car," from one of the girls. 

There's gotta be a life experience here, I thought. Keep saying yes and just do it. After all, this is a lot of makeup and it would be a shame to be wasteful ... 

We then make the trek up the hill to my new friend's car, and I could tell within .25 seconds we were going to be friends. Out of everyone in the group, I could tell how down to Earth she was, and could intuitively tell she was going to utter the same sentence of "this isn't really me." I entered in the address quoting that we would arrive by 8:30 (FUCK ME, I thought but didn't say ... my stomach growling, I just want a burger ... and a glass of wine ...). Before we hit the highway we had discovered that we're both obsessed with our dogs, and are both from back east (she happened to be from MASS and I'm from CT).

The majority of times you meet people from either Massachusetts or Connecticut, they've summered in either Cape Cod or Lake Winnipesaukee, I used that as a lead in. 

We drove through Massachusetts all the time as a kid when we were en route to the lake. 

Which one, she asked?

Lake Winnipesaukee. 

I've been there too!! she said. 

I smiled and continued ... 

Yeah, you have Weirs Beach and Funspot. 

"I cannot believe you are mentioning Funspot right now. Have you seen the documentary on Funspot?"

"WHAT?! I said matching her enthusiasm. THERE IS A DOCUMENTARY ON FUNSPOT???"

I immediately began googling and found this ...

I found it, I said. 

She glanced over and said no, that's not it. It was an actual movie. It had something to do with Donkey Kong. 

I then googled "donkey kong funspot documentary" and found this ... 

I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE IMMEDIATELY, I said upon completion of the trailer!!!

The now genuine conversation we were having made the hour long car ride feel a whole heck of a lot shorter. 

"I'm so excited for a burger and a glass of wine. I got there at 5:30, it's been almost three hours and I purposefully didn't eat a lot before the event knowing the level of expected food quality.
I only have so much room, but now I'm borderline full blown vacancy and I'm not sure how much longer I can last." 

I tried to stay as calm as possible in front of my genuine new friend. The clock had long been ticking, and I don't think people understand when I say I get hangry, I actually get hangry. I've discovered it's from being anemic that I get extremely curt, dismissive, and singularly focused. I go into like a nerd survival mode where my body knows what it wants, and it's my brain's job to get it. Anything and everything in between COMPLETELY disinterests me - I just want that. A burger. Food. Preferably something with iron. Popeye me a can full of spinach, I don't care, but I know I. need. to. eat. or something really, really bad is about to happen. 

By 8:30 we arrive at the event. We were past downtown and somewhere borderline East LA, but I didn't care. Again, my focus was on food. Good food. Good food I had waited THREE HOURS to consume, and was now a mere moment away from actually consuming.

As we went to park, one of the drivers came out to help us with his flashlight (as we couldn't confirm if the sidewalk was red or yellow). Once we were good to go, I thanked him for his help as I introduced myself. 

"I just dropped off these reporters from Detroit. This is apparently a car event." 

Yeah, I said, that's about as much information as we all have too. It's the unveiling of the new Corvette, but I'm really only here for the food. 

Enjoy, he said as we walked down the super creepy looking alleyway into the event. 

Now at the door, the very intense security asked us for the QR codes. I scanned back and found my friend who invited us and asked him for the info. 

As he endlessly scrolled through his email the crowd grew yet again (both busses had arrived at this point) and we were asked to stand against the wall. 

NO ONE IS GETTING IN WITHOUT THE CODE, shouted the security guard. 

Personally, these types of people are my favorite to mess with. I truly do live by the mantra of "where there is a will there is a way" and events that announce their "security" with such "command" are typically the ones I can find the easiest way into. (See this post on Crashing The Grammy Awards.) 

This scenario however, wasn't my rodeo. I wasn't willing to put my friend's connection on the line, nor did I logically think I could get all seven, SEVEN of us snuck in. Whatever was going to be was going to be, and I had to just let it go. 

My stomach however, couldn't handle the laissez faire attitude and as I watched my friend try and talk his way into the event ... I secretly began crying on the inside ... just ... wanting ... food. Any food now. Food. Food. Need food now. 

No one is getting in without their QR code announced security, and we're at capacity, so you guys should figure something else out. 

Wondering if this is what thirst is like in the Sahara, I drifted away into a barely coherent hunger bliss as I watched the 20 somethings throw a fit. 

"I can get you bottle service at 1OAK tonight. Come by, ask for John. I'll take care of you." 

"WHAT?! she scoffed back. I can get bottle service at any club, anytime. I came here for this party, and now that's ruined." 

Not that I was capable of responding or being involved in any capacity, but the only thought that entered into my mind was "god, I'm so glad those years are over." 

"How about we head over to The Standard and first round is on me," said my friend. 

My own hunger aside (WHICH IS REALLY HARD TO DO), I felt bad for my buddy. He was just trying to be nice inviting us all to this event and for one reason or another the gatekeepers decided to deny entry. Totally not his fault! 

"I will take you up on that offer," I said to my friend as we got back INTO the car and Butabi-ed our butts over to the Standard. 

Immediately upon arrival, I darted up to the rooftop and ordered a $16 burger that independently would have tasted like shit, but in that moment was the most wonderful thing I have put in my mouth (in recent memory)

While experiencing a current state of actual bliss, my new friend told me that there is this "super trivia" game over in Santa Monica that I should check out. It's all run by Super Champions on Jeopardy. 

THAT SOUNDS AMAZING, I said with a full mouth, finally showing accurate levels of energy and excitement.

Mouth still full I continued, done - let me social engineer the team. 

There are two winners each week. One winner from the Jeopardy side (you compete with people who have been on Jeopardy before) and one from the team that hasn't ever been on Jeopardy. 

I look forward to winning, I said, and by winning, I mean getting one question right the first time and working our way up from there. 

Once I was done eating, I grabbed an Uber heading back home and to my surprise, I was satisfied. 

I somehow had BY DEFINITION survived own version of personal hell (the club scene, crowds, idiotic people) and chose to not focus on what I couldn't control in the evening, rather accept that and be genuinely happy for what did happen - ALL IN REAL TIME (which was a first)!!!! 

If you would have told me that I would have gone on an adventure where I'd spend the evening discussing Lake Winnipesaukee, Funspot, dogs, learn about "the world's most difficult trivia game (and gain acess to it), oh yeah and at the very end of it, I'd eat a burger ... I'd say that's a pretty fucking awesome evening. 

I was immediately reminded of a video I saw on Facebook a while back from a google exec ... 

"Happiness is what you think about the world gives you." 

My current version of happiness? See realization above. Oh, and then there's also the fact that this is complete ... 

 

Just because Les Moonves picked (the now cancelled) "Great Outdoors" in 2016 over Talk Nerdy To Me didn't mean that I was going to stop.

What's a "Les Moonves?" you ask. I had the same question, and will explain (finally) how everything happened in the next post. 

#nerdsunite  

Oh, and I'm also hiring for a project. See below and please tag your friends in my Facebook post. I'd love to look at their work. Thanks nerds!! xx 


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Friday
Oct132017

#NerdsUnite: The cost of "whatever it takes" ... is it actually worth it - (Part 2)

Click here if you haven't read part one 

Here is the actual text for part two & I love how much you can tell about a person by the restaurants they choose. These series of texts are why Rosanne and I are friends ... but more than that later ... 

Maestro ... 

<editorsnote> 1. If you haven't heard this song, do yourself a favor cause this version is incredible. 2. 9/10 there is hidden sub text in the songs that are posted within each blog. 1/10 times I just like the beat. Anytime I write though, I listen to the same song over and over on repeat to set the mood. Listen if you so desire! xx </editorsnote> 

Wow that was fast, Rosanne said upon arrival. (When people who aren't in the hills say you're heading back to the hills they just assume it will take forever. I'm good at finding shortcuts.) 

"I get really overwhelmed by the menu here. Like legit anxiety over having so many choices," I admitted.

"Yeah but their menu is their money maker. They rank in 25K each month strictly from ad revenue," she said. 

"Wow, just wow. I mean good for them ... but ..."

Wow is right. Ads are so expensive! lol (She typed the lol in text when I confirmed the ad revenue. Even in a flashback, I'm still shocked at how much they make.) 

So, what happened to your parents? 

Oh! Yes, let me continue the story.

Cue flashback sequence ... 

I got the news that my test was "unremarkable" (which is the MRI term for you're all good in the hood) on a Friday. I chose to work from home since I had absolutely no idea which was the pendulum was going to swing.

Out of all of the theoretical outcomes, the "you're good" made it worse in my mind. I recognized that I had allowed stressors to overwhelm me to such a point that it had finally (as predicted) affected my health.

I wasn't okay with that, and knew I had to immediately make life changes.

It started with closing my laptop and taking a nap that afternoon. 

Somewhere in between what is normal sleeping hours, and the late afternoon I got a call from El Boy-o. 

"What do you want to do this weekend?" he asked. (It was Labor Day weekend.) 

"I want to not think. I want to stay home, and not be responsible for anything or anyone (other than Buster, my dog)."

"I had a feeling you were going to say that. What if you took an actual vacation and come over to the island?:

(My previous version of "Vacation Jen" wasn't Vacation Jen. I really believe in Chalkin' Social aka the chalkboard hats, and was running around all weekend handing them out to people. They're also not a sponsor or anything, I don't do that anymore.) 

"I don't think I'd get a ticket on the boat," I said knowing that the previous weekends (during season) were absolutely packed.

Even though the boat doesn't look at full capacity, it is. They go by weight and I've had to talk my way onboard (on more than one occasion) justifying that I am a small person with a small bag. (I never carry more than a laptop backpack.) 

"Then, what if I put you on the helicopter?" 

"I've never been in one before." 

"WHAT?! Don't your business partners own multiple helicopters?!" 

He is right, I do hang out in a helicopter hanger while kicking it with Rooster, Butch and Gil - but I've never been there when they were taking them out ... 

"Well then let's change that. I'll get you a ticket." 

At this point, I wasn't about to refuse a ticket specifically one based on the ONE SENTENCE I HAVE LONGED TO SAY (with proper reference) FOR TWENTY FOUR YEARS!

The next morning I woke up, packed a bag, and called Uber. (I'm lucky that Buster has people that come in our home to take care of him.) As I got in the car, the arrival time was doubled (plus 10 minutes). I had (luckily) allowed myself enough time, but somewhere past the point of no return, I looked down and noticed I didn't have my wallet. 

Stress head and me do not get along. Anytime I am stressed I will forget very very simple things. I have walked out of the house without shoes not once but TWICE.

It takes so much more energy to focus that I become oblivious to my good friend Captain Obvious. 

I texted El Boy-o ...

I knew once I was on the island I was fine (between El Boy-o and the fact that people around town knew I wasn't a douche meant that if I needed an I.O.U I would more likely than not get it). The getting on the chopper was the variable. I had no idea what kind of identification they required and what was mandated in "helicopter land."

In that moment, I had two choices - one, go back and miss the flight.
Two, pray that I can be quick witted enough to talk my way onto the chopper. 

Given previous history, I was willing to take the calculated risk. 

I arrived on time, and immediately approached the counter, taking a deep breath.
It's a guy! I thought looking down at my outfit thinking out of all of the days to dress like an actual girl, I was glad I picked today!! 

I didn't have to say much. He was just REALLY happy to see me.

One weigh in, 30 seconds, and one apology for using my IMDB page as my form of identification later, I got clearance to fly. 

There were approximately nine people in the small waiting room for the flight. We placed our life vest (of sorts) on as we watched the information video detailing the dos and don'ts of helicopter safety. I was pumped to say the least, but most excited for my own moment of truth (24 years in the making).

While standing in line, my arm is grabbed. 

Fuckkkkkk, I thought. This is it, I've failed, and couldn't talk my way on. 

"You can ride up front with the pilot," said the attendant. 

"Wait, WHAT?!" I thought split seconding myself out of a place of fear, and climbing into the cock pit like I owned it. 

 I then introduced myself to the pilot, and explained that this was my first time riding in a helicopter. 

"What a coincidence, he said, this is my first time too!" 

When you sit up front you get a special kind of headset that allows you to have direct communication with the pilot when you are in air. I immediately took advantage of this. 

Being separated from the other passengers meant that I unfortunately couldn't say MY ONE SENTENCE 24 YEARS IN THE MAKING, but instead of being sad about it, I seized the unpredicted special opportunity ...

"I have three questions," I said.  

Go right ahead, he said with genuine enthusiasm!

Number 1. How many times a day do you say this exact sentence ... 

That's where this post came from ... 

He immediately burst into laughter thinking I was kidding.
I wasn't.
I moved onto my follow up questions ... 

Number 2. Does this ever get old? 

He smiled and said, "never." 

I reciprocated the gesture - that made me happy. 

Number 3. Tell me everything. What do all of the buttons do? 

The pilot then gave a general description of each of the control panels while I snapped away replying with wow after wow, followed by a "that's so cool!" 

Struck by the hilarity of the situation, I sent this text ... 

The flight lasted a very productive 15 minutes. Upon landing, I met up with El Boy-o at the local watering hole. His friend joined moments later.

"YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS!!" I said practically jumping out of my skin. I opened up my iPhone showing them the controls and explained (as best as I could) what each one did. 

They paused, before saying "You flew in the front seat of the helicopter and all you did was take pictures of the control panels?" 

I said still TOTALLY excited. 

All in all, I had a phenomenal Labor Day weekend, which was fitting considering the intended nature of the holiday.

I thanked my friends and headed back on the boat.

THANK YOU ISLAND LIFE!! 

I got back into the office on Tuesday, and saw that the intensity behind a hurricane (Irma) was increasing. I had previously texted my friends on the OG Island (located in the Florida Keys) asking if everyone was okay. They all admitted to being scared but since the "cone" prediction regarding landfall was still a few days out, there wasn't really much anyone could do. 

Wednesday morning, I got a text from my parents asking if I was okay with them giving their pet sitter my phone number. 

I completely forgot that they were even traveling, let alone potentially within the path of the storm. 

The Bahamian government shut down the airport two days earlier than they were "supposed to" which cancelled my parent's flight back to Miami.

As official "Emergency Contact" for their animals (two dogs and one Bengal cat that acts like a dog), it was my call/ responsibility in terms of decision making on their behalf. 

 

 

Here is Buster high pawing Luci to the face - I am an awesome dog auntie (and still can't believe I captured this on video)

 

Buster high fives luci to her face. #happybirthdaymom #bdaydinner #familytime

A post shared by Jen Friel (@talknerdytomelover) on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:54pm PST

 

Anywho, since the phones systems in the Bahamas aren't the greatest, we continued texting throughout the day ... 


TAKE THAT IRMA! A few hours later, (much like the storm) the tide had begun to turn ... 

The storm shifting to Miami landfall meant that places of business were already beginning to shut down. The vet cancelled all boarding options, and with my parent's pet sitter also getting the eff out of dodge - that meant the animals would be alone (fending for themselves) which puts Noelle, Luci, and Blanquito in the animal kingdom version of the Thunderdome.

My money is on the cat. When that little thing was a kitten it attacked the shit out of Buster (70 lbs). As you saw, Luci cried getting bitch slapped. All bark, little bite. 

All joking aside, I've been the Emergency Contact for my parent's animals for half my life. While I've never been called to the floor, this was WITHOUT A DOUBT a moment in need, and I would do whatever it took to keep them safe. After all, that's my job. 

I needed to get my parents off that island. If the main airport is closed, does that mean charter airports are closed as well, I wondered? Having friends in the Keys meant I had heard all about the charters into various parts of the Bahamas.

I placed two phone calls, and approximately 20 minutes later I had my answer. 

Since the storm's landfall was still on shaky ground, my parents decided to wait and not take a charter. (This is where that whole having more money thing would have come in handy. You'll see why in a minute.) 

As a family, we settled on the idea of me coming in on Monday (after the storm) instead of Wednesday (before the storm) because no one with a sane mind would want to put themselves in the middle of a CAT 5 hurricane. 

 

On Thursday morning, I shot out of bed like a bullet, turning on the news to catch the latest information on the storm. They were predicting landfall in the Keys with Miami also getting a direct hit. 

This was not good. 

 

I immediately got on the phone with the hotel and asked for my parents room. The operator said the entire hotel has been evacuated and now she had to go as well. 

Not knowing what to do, I quickly texted, and fortunately got an answer from my parents ... 

 

I don't know what scared me the most in that moment. The fact that my parents were getting on a plane not knowing which COUNTRY they could be going to, or the fact that my mother seemed so calm in the process. 

As I put down my phone, I lost it. 

My parents are on a plane going to a destination unknown, a cat 5 storm is heading towards Miami and the animals I have sworn to protect could now be in danger ... could I live with the guilt if something happened to them?

Did I have a choice? 

WHY DIDN'T I JUST PUT THEM ON A FUCKING CHARTER, I thought?!?
THIS IS WHY I NEED TO MAKE MORE MONEY (and have access to it in emergencies)

End flashback sequence ... 

"So, what about your parents? Did they make it out okay?" 

Four hours later I got a call from my father saying they were in Miami. Their resort spent a solid 24 hours on the phone with the government pleading with them to open up the airport and take their guests to a safe place. (Funny again considering where the storm was predicted to hit.) The government allowed one more plane to leave - it held 58 people and my parents were among the first 58. 

FIVE STAR YELP REVIEW, I said jokingly, but also serious. 

They were obviously shaken, but they could go home and protect the animals. They would all be able to wait out the storm together, and whatever was going to happen was going to happen. It was too late to evacuate (the roads were clogged), and with the storm projected to hit all of Florida there really wasn't a "safe" place for anyone to be with such short notice. 

"Did you go back?"

Not yet, but that's another story. Should we order some food first?  

#nerdsunite  

Wednesday
Oct112017

#NerdsUnite: The cost of "whatever it takes" ... is it actually worth it? 

I said something out loud to my girlfriend a few weeks back that I had yet to admit to another living being, and said statement was followed by a solid understanding that my life is coming full circle. 

Maestro ... 

"So what has Jen Friel been up to?" she asked as we sat down for an impromptus happy hour (my office happens to be across the street from her building)

With a straight face, and little to no emotion I said, "I've experienced a fundamental shift in the last 30 days, I'm ready to get married and have babies." 

YAY!! She said super excited. 

My actions weren't mirrored, and without an actual mirror, I'll just have to assume that my face looked something like this ... 

"What happened, what made you come to this conclusion?" 

"My health," I said. "It's no big deal, but I had an 'episode' a few weeks back."

I might have been capable of admitting that I was ready to start a family, but that still didn't mean I was capable or willing to admit what the "episode" actually was. 

Cue flashback sequence ... 

Back in July, I was warned by my doctor that if I didn't start to find balance with my work and actual life, it would start to affect my health.

That's where this post came from: 

Four letter words are becoming a trend - my favorite of them being "sold." Remember that "other" TV show I mentioned during talk nerdy's relaunch? It sold. (I'm in front of and behind the camera on this one.) Upon finding out the news, the handful of people I told asked, "how are you going to celebrate?" Celebrate? I thought laughing. I have to get ahead of the announcement, and push along xyzabc123 projects. Then yesterday, I went to my doctor (unrelated), and he told me if I don't take a break it's going to start to affect my health. "You look like shit," he said, "which must mean you sold something." Mind you, not only does this man have a successful practice, he's also the bassist for Ryan Adams (even has a thank you note in his waiting room from @taylorswift ). Before I got back into my car, I reached out to my buddy Hugh and asked if I could accept a standing invitation to Catalina. Not a problem, he said! So now I'm on a boat heading to an island to hang out with my second favorite Irish family. Fingers crossed we end up on @lisavanderpump Instagram again ... #nerdsunite

A post shared by Jen Friel (@talknerdytomelover) on Jul 27, 2017 at 1:07pm PDT

I took his words very seriously, and once I found out a project had received a pilot order (a big deal in TV), I left for an extended weekend vacation on an island (not far from LA). While there, I had met someone who I was not only attracted to, but in his previous life, built homes. THAT'S PERFECT! I thought knowing I wanted to renovate my apartment. 

<tangent> See, I want to take the money from both TV projects and invest in homes. (This is how my parents made their money.) Since I don't own a home yet, I figured why not build a design portfolio using my own apartment (which could later translate into a career in staging homes). I have no idea if I'd be any good at it, but I viewed it as a calculated risk with the plus side of creation satisfaction in a tangible realm. Everything I build professionally is online. I wanted to find balance between both worlds. </tangent> 

I then purchased all the supplies required (which was hilarious because it was the first time I went to the hardware store and actually bought supplies for my home).

I've previously bought a 3 gallon bucket for an ayahuasca ceremony, chicken wire for the sliding mechanism on my freelance Charlie Chaplin costume ... 

The costume needed the stache and to keep it on I used fishing line and chicken wire which allowed me to slide it left or right and still keep it on.

The sign on the back made it a little weird past midnight. I did not anticipate people taking me seriously.

Freelance Charlie Chaplin meant that pants were optional.

... and spackling (bought to mimic frosting for my Katy Perry costume). That was a fun adventure!!

Anywho, we began painting one Saturday and somewhere in between the long strokes and reminder of wet things, we began tearing each other's clothes off. 

There were no lonely trees in this picture. There was wood however ...

The sex was incredible (sex really does change as you get older and become more comfortable in your skin), and close to my own climax we switched positions to the back of the couch. (A fun perk of home renovating is all the new angles you can utilize with your newly placed furniture.) 

As I began arching my back sticking my butt out (this makes your butt look amazing before doggy), time began slowing down - rapidly. I took a handful of deep breaths but before I could process what was happening, the world began moving in a circular motion like a fast/ forceful stream of water being sucked down the drain. 

My body then involuntarily fell forward (thankfully onto the back of my very soft couch), as I felt a "spark" inside my brain. I tried to speak, and realized I couldn't. It wasn't until my arm began violently shaking that el boy-o realized something was wrong.

He was coming in hot from behind, so there was no way he would have noticed something any sooner. 

When I was finally able to speak (the entire "episode" lasted a handful of seconds), I said "I'm okay, I'm fine. I'm okay, I'm fine," only, I wasn't. I just couldn't stop trying to take control of whatever situation I had involuntarily found myself in. 

"You are very clearly not fine or okay," he said immediately going into action grabbing towels from my bathroom, cooling them down with water and placing them on my body. (He's been trained in the military so if this was ever going to happen to me, I was glad it was happening with someone logical who could help and not freak out.) 

Not knowing what to do, I put on pants figuring pants were the minimum requirement should I need to be taken anywhere. 

Cautious to make sudden movements, or really any movement, I was immediately reminded of my doctor's prediction. 

"I need to make more money, and I am going to work less," I said. Everyone knows startups are notorious for paying peanuts, and my problem is that I'll be the last one to take. I'm a stubborn asshole who has survived off of bartering, but I can't continue to gamble with my own life. 

This was a full blown wake up call that I need to add balance in my life and if I chose not to listen, my body would do what it needed to do. 

I waited a full 24 hours before emailing the founder of my company.

You feel this weird residual after effect with an "episode," and I wanted the email to not come from a place of fear or disorientation, but rather a place that was honest and grounded (or as grounded as I could be)

El Boy-o was surprised. "You've got a lot of balls emailing the founder on a weekend saying you're going to take more money and work less." 

I smiled knowing that I am going to make a lot of money at this company (something I am going to need if I end up down the road being a single mother), but what good would all that money do if I'm not alive to enjoy it?

I created my own bottom line realizing that if I am going to stay I would have to have those needs met. If not, I totally get it, I wouldn't take any of it personally - I fiercely admire the people I work with. 

I arrived at the office on Monday (a little later than I planned). The founder and I walked outside as I began telling him what happened. "Zero history of this. Nothing in my family. Nada. It has to be stress, just like my doctor warned."

He asked why I wasn't in bed, and I explained that I had a big meeting to focus on (I know ... I know ... but I really did relax the rest of the weekend, but relaxing to me is also doing whatever needs to get done so I can stop thinking about it). "Whatever you need, we'll take care of it."

He then connected me with a doctor friend of his, and I immediately broke down what happened (including the previously received warning). It all felt so cut and dry in my head that this was stress related, but his response caught me off guard ... 

The doctor sent that email at 2:38 pm. By 2:45, I was out the door sobbing the entire ride home. 

I don't know why it upset me so much the idea of having an MRI, but it was this jolting reality (literally) that I wasn't in control of my life. As a strategist/ planner, I can quickly assess possible outcomes but this time I forbid myself from "going there" and feeling sorry for myself. Whatever it is, I will handle it ... quite frankly, I have no choice. 

When I got home, I googled low cost MRIs. I didn't want to go through insurance and the reality that I need to see this doctor to get the referral to that doctor who is going to hand the results off to this clinic where I can get tested on even numbered days that aligned with the return of Halley's comet. 

I had already lined up three doctors who agreed to analyze the photos (one of whom works at Harvard). I just needed the photos done well, and fast. 

Three days, and $275 cash in hand later, I arrived at the testing facility and signed in with a fake name (no ID was required). I had no reason to use a pseudonym, but I figured if I was in the process of going full blown cray, I might as well be authentic and just start doing weird illogical shit on the reg. 

A very long hour and some change later (someone moved in the machine causing them to have to redo the exam), I entered into the back room. For a cash place that lets you get an MRI without showing any form of identification, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and inviting everything felt. This experience shook me to the definition of my core, yet here I was questioning what kind of Lysol they were using. 

 I removed my earrings and placed my bag in the locker adjacent to the exam room. I grabbed the key and placed it on the table inside. On a scale of 1-10 my fear was ranked at a 100.

I didn't expect the trajectory of my 32nd year to potentially include the word "tumor" or "cancer," said every person that has said those words ever. 

 

I was placed on the table (which was actually quite comfortable), and given a blanket. I was instructed not to move. I laughed thinking movement wasn't an option as my body was already paralyzed with fear. 

The operator went back behind the partion as the procedure began. Surprised by the sound of the machine, my body continued to involuntarily shake. (Enough to know I was shaking, not enough to disrupt the exam.) It was the sound of the machine that surprised me. 

For some reason, I expected it to sound like a dot matrix printer ... 

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Here's what the machine actually sounded like ... 

... only in the one they were using the sound wasn't constant. Every time I attempted to lull myself into some form of advanced meditation, the high pitch pierce would come back providing that additional reminder that yep, this life moment is happening. 

To make matters worse, the clinic was blasting KOST 103.5. Normally, I love that station, but on this particular day, in that particular half hour, I resented their every being ...  

FTR, I'm not crazy or unwell Matchbox 20!! 

SHUT UP with your, "I want something just like this" Chainsmokers & Coldplay. 

This isn't my fight song Rachel, but if I make it out of this I will be taking my life back (whatever that really means).

30 minutes later, I emerged a grumpy mcgee pants. I was scared, angry, and sad. I executed the motions, but still couldn't handle the e-motions. 

After the test, I drove back to the office where I attempted to have a meeting. Fortunately, it was with a guy I had previously dated, so when he asked if I was okay, I felt comfortable enough admitting that I wasn't. I sobbed in his arms saying I could barely even drive back. 

"YOU DROVE YOURSELF TO THE CLINIC?" he asked shocked. 

"I know, I said, I should have taken an uber." 

"With all the people you know, you didn't ask someone to go with you?" 

"I didn't expect this kind of response. I normally stay eerily calm when I'm nervous or scared. I'm also a stubborn asshole who needs to learn it's okay to show/ admit any sort of vulnerability to another living being." 

I paused for a moment. 

"I have zero problems showing vulnerability in relationships now. I guess I still need work on extending that outwards to my friends." 

"What about the guy you're dating?" 

"He offered to take me. I told him no." 

"Why?" 

I paused. 

"Fuck, you're right. I'm causing all of this. I have the help all around me, and I'm not accepting it." 

He then gave me yet another big hug as we agreed to postpone the meeting to the following week. 

End flashback sequence ... 

 

"Wow," she said. "I don't think I've ever seen you stressed." (We've all known each other for over a decade.) 

I laughed saying I feel stressed all the time. 

"That's when you know you're good at what you do," she said. "Even if you feel that way, it never shows." 

I thought about it for a moment, and wondered if that was a good thing. 

"So, you're okay now?" she asked. 

"You can say that. There's no going back from that kind of a wakeup call though. Everything came back 'unremarkable,' which is ironic because on the contrary I thought the experience was quite remarkable." 

"All that made you realize you're ready to start a family?" 

"No," I said. "This was just the first part. The following week, my parents got on a plane not knowing what country they were going to, and for four hours I had no idea if they were safe or not. And then the week after I rescued pussy on Hollywood Blvd. Out of all three experiences, that one impacted me the most (from a maternal perspective)." 

"WHAT?!" 

"First, let me go and take care of Buster (who was still hanging out at the office). Let me drop him off at home, and I'll meet you for dinner."

DONE! she said. This I have to hear. 

Me too, I thought. 

click here to read PT 2

#nerdsunite