To begin: a moment of honesty. The only reason I became an environmental studies major was because I had ruled out everything else. In July 2007, I attended IntroDUCKtion at the University of Oregon in Eugene. This clever spelling immediately sent the message that this school was about the mascot, the Ducks, and the football team that took that mascot to the national stage. Ducks, ducks ducks. That was the priority. I skipped the mixer taking place in the Erb Memorial Union (abbreved to EMU, yet noticeably lacking the obvious artwork and play on that Duck mascot it was begging for). Instead, I stayed in the dorm room I was assigned to and went down the list of majors in the front of the course catalog. Human Physiology? Chemistry? Sports Business? Medieval Studies? No thank you to all of the above. Journalism? Maybe, but there’s that whole miserable application process. So, ultimately no.
This left me with English and Environmental Studies. Having learned what I needed to learn from high school English classes (namely: I only read books on my own terms thank you very much and no, I do not really want to answer a slew of nonsense questions about the plot and character development, I want to enjoy the freaking book) that was out quickly. So Environmental Studies it was.
It seemed like a great idea. A multi-disciplinary major that would let me take classes from many different departments and learn all kinds of exciting things. Plus, environmental studies jobs were on the rise. Green jobs were so hot. I’d be set. I could hike for a living if I played my cards right. So I took classes like “Sustainable Development,” “Geology 310: Renewable Energies” and “Urban Economics.” The latter was taught by the delightful Silke and her thick German accent. I threw in a Geography minor because it would only take one extra class to achieve and dropped out of the honors college almost immediately thanks to an in-class viewing of the Amanda Bynes classic She’s the Man and thirty or so of the most annoying wannabe Ivy League students you have ever met in your entire life. To get that BA distinction, I took German 201, 202, 203 and 311, writing classic sentences like this: “Ich wache auf und ich laufe für eine halb Uhr mit meinem Mitbewhoner, Zach. Er ist schneller als mich, aber wir haben viel Spaß.” That sentence might say that I went running for a half hour with my roommate, Zach, but I can assure you that he was the only one running. I remained in bed accomplishing the daunting task of watching every single episode of The Larry Sanders Show. A sign of things to come.
Spring break my junior year, I visited my screenwriter uncle in Los Angeles. He happened to be friends with a lady who worked at The Late Late Show, and we were added to the VIP guest list, spending one afternoon of my trip in the greenroom and live audience. There were snacks, and since I was still working on that environmental studies degree, I couldn’t help but notice the sign from the caterer declaring “we use organic and local products wherever possible.” How thoughtful, yet convenient, of them. The experience was a lot of fun and reawakened repressed feelings for television.
Before my senior year of high school, the grand plan in my head had drawn me to schools like Emerson and Ithaca, where I would study creative writing and/or television. I was television obsessed for the duration of my childhood and was the kind of person who’d watch episodes with the DVD commentary on, hoping for information about how making a show really worked. This plan changed when, in July before my senior year of high school began, my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He died during my sophomore year and my trip to LA was in part a way to get out of Eugene and have a little fun.
So with these television dreams alive once again, I wrote a post on my then blog. It was in open letter form, directed at Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show. A week or so later, a call came in from the producers and they wanted me to come be a intern. At this point, I was miserable in Eugene, unhappy with my living situation, grouchy about my major, and sick of the college experience. So from August to December 2010, I was a production intern, from January to mid-March 2011 I wrapped up my final Environmental Studies credits and moved back to LA a week after turning in my final college paper. It was titled “Sustainable Agricultural Communities Through Cooperative Farming in Tillamook County, Oregon. Real riveting stuff. I even quoted my grandfather.
A year in to my long term relationship with Los Angeles, it turns out what I really want to do is write. So here we are. I write this and this and this and these. And now this thing. Maybe soon someone will start paying me but until then I will accept the free coffee refills from kind baristas and add “stressing about money” to the list of things I do everyday. It joins writing, napping, brainstorming names for my future cat, painting my nails, bargain hunting at Ross, and eating shrimp tacos. Perhaps it’s also time for revisiting the environmental studies background to be added to the list as well. I did spend three years of my life on that stuff. It can’t have been for naught.