Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Worthy Endeavor

The little girl sitting behind me on the plane Tuesday night said it best as we landed at JFK.

“I want to go back to California right now!” she declared.

“Me, too,” I muttered.

Not that I’m complaining. Well, yes, of course, I am. I had no desire whatsoever to see my vacation end since I had an absolutely fabulous time visiting my Uncle Joe and his wife, Sara.

I soared to new heights on this trip, as I tracked the migration of monarch butterflies in and around Monterey, hiked around the space shuttle Endeavor, met up with some of my West Coast cousins, and, craziest of all, took part in a “Pitch Slam,” where aspiring screenwriters like yours truly sit down with producers for a five-minute rundown on what they have to offer.

I was only in LA for one night before we hit the road and headed north in search of the migrating monarchs. These amazing creatures cover thousands of miles as they make their way to their winter home.

It’s just about impossible to photograph the monarchs without special equipment and the sharpest image I got was of an injured butterfly, which is kind of a cheat I suppose, but it’s still a nice shot.

Getting a decent shot of the Endeavor proved to be difficult as well. I took some photos at the shuttle’s location in the California Science Center, but you really need to see it for yourself.

It was amazing to look up at this spacecraft and think of what it’s been through, how many miles it’s traveled. You just can’t capture that with an I-phone.

In the Slammer

And then it was time to put pleasure on hold and take care of business at the Pitch Slam. I often go through guilt trips when I go on vacation, scolding myself to stay at home and write or make a short film like I’ve been threatening to do for too many goddamn years. So I felt good taking out the time to do something for my career.

As one of the hosts explained, the slam is like speed dating for writers. I have never done anything like this before in my life and for that alone I consider the event to be a first class success.

I was very nervous at the outset of this thing—like I am at speed dating nights. And just like speed dating and other singles affairs, I was tempted to run out the door before the show even got started.

But I held firm, going from one studio rep to another. I was very nervous at first, speaking too quickly and stumbling over my words. There were close to 30 reps in the room and I wanted to bail after talking with the first three.

However, as my confidence grew, so did my desire to speak with more people, so by the end of the day, I had run through all the tables like Minnesota Fats on a billiards blast.

I was initially wary of the other writers in the room, but then I realized that we were really allies, not adversaries. Everybody in that room wanted to see their dreams come true. I met some really nice people, including an 85-year-old man on a walker. It was a real slamming day.

I saw this little ditty about advice from a butterfly. Among other things, it suggests that you let your true colors show, take yourself lightly, take time to smell the flowers, and look for the sweetness of life.

I think I accomplished those goals.

When I went to get my luggage at JFK, some guy actually hit me up for change, proving beyond a doubt that I was back in New York. I was going to tell him to get lost, but I decided to slip him a buck. Even though vacation was over, life still tasted pretty sweet to me.


bonnie said...

Oh, monarchs! It's wonderful paddling in the fall - they seem to follow the coastline and so we see them a lot out over the water. It's amazing watching them - you're paddling along at a good clip and along comes a monarch, flutter flutter flutter, looking so sort of light and decorative, and then flutter, flutter, flutter, they blow past you like you were standing still.

I have gotten a couple (as in two) of good monarch shots over the years. I also have some good memories of living in Mare Island, California; there was a park with eucalyptus trees where the monarchs would congregate at certain times and it was amazing to see.

Pictures here - click on each one for a larger version!

Ron said...

Yaaaaaaaaay, you're back, Rob!!!

Welcome home!!!

This post made me smile from ear to ear, reading about your trip and the Pitch Slam. It sounds to me that this trip was exactly what you needed and got.

"I saw this little ditty about advice from a butterfly. Among other things, it suggests that you let your true colors show, take yourself lightly, take time to smell the flowers, and look for the sweetness of life."

And yes, you DEFINITELY accomplished those goals and I am sooooooooo freaking happy for you!


Isn't something how just taking a break and getting away for awhile, brings us back to center?

Have a SUPER weekend, buddy!

Bijoux said...

Wow! Sounds like quite a variety of activities in one trip. And good for you to do the Pitch Slam. That sounds intimidating.

Welcome back to reality and bad weather!

Rob K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob K said...

Hey, Bonnie! The butterflies are incredible! I was never particularly interested in them before this trip, but that sure changed now.

Rob K said...

Hey, Rpn, how's it going? Yes, getting away can really clarify things! Take care!

Rob K said...

Yeah, Bijoux, it was a great trip. I just wish it didn't have to go back to work

CrystalChick said...

Welcome home! Sure sounds like an amazing trip, Rob! Visiting with family, monarch butterflies, seeing the Endeavor, AND meeting with all those studio reps. WOW! You fit a lot into a vacation. I need a nap now. ;)
Really happy that you got to have those experiences. Hope you're enjoying a nice weekend.

Stephanie Faris said...

Pitch slam!!! I like that. It sounds terrifying, but like one of those things that gets easier once you're in it. About three weeks ago I got a call from the local SCBWI prez, telling me an author had canceled at the last minute and they needed someone to fill in. I had two hours to get myself together and get across town to pitch to about 25-30 school librarians who (hopefully) will carry my books in their libraries. It was definitely terrifying, but I was SO glad I did it afterward. That's how these things are--you have to make yourself do them because afterward, you're ALWAYS glad you did. (Except when you schedule a booksigning and absolutely no one shows up--you always regret those!)

Anonymous said...

I have to say you are so unbelievably inspiring. Even when you take a vacation you do something unbelievably adventurous to further your career. Seriously good for you!

Rob K said...

WHy, thanks so much, Shae! This trip really was a great combination of business and pleasure! It can be done!

Rob K said...


Wow! That last minute librarian pitch sounds so frightening! I give you all the credit in the world for taking on that challenge! And you're so right--afterwards you're always glad you did it!

Rob K said...


I was pretty tired myself, but in a good way! Thanks so much for your kind thoughts and do take care!