Today, I was gobsmacked with a wave of nostalgia. I went to a new restaurant for my office’s lunch run, Belcampo, on 3rd Street in LA, and it was there (in the Verve coffee shop next door) where I spent many a day typing away at my creative endeavors. Whether the focus was My Cancer Story, a screenplay, or the then-numerous blog posts (yeah, sorry about that), I spent my free time (of which I had ample supply then) ticking away at my form of expression. On November 8th, it will have been three years since I moved into my first apartment here, the temporary room rental on Blackburn Ave.
Last night, I experienced the worst flare-up of my Crohn’s Disease yet; the third instance of 2018. The kicker? All of these were following my revelatory dietary changes via the Whole30 Elimination Program. And no, this is not an attempt to correlate the two, but only to shed light on how Crohn’s Disease can strike no matter how much one arms themselves with preventative measures.
Read along as I describe these flare-ups (two of which occurred on film sets) and general tips on how to best prevent them, and ask YOU, the reader, about some of your worst Crohn’s battles.
“Set a goal. Accomplish it. Set another goal.”
Many of you have expressed interest in the hardcopy book version of this ongoing first draft of My Cancer Story, and have asked me the title question verbatim. Well, I’m here to answer that for you, today.
My Cancer Story will experience drastic changes as my first draft will soon be beaten into shape to achieve its final form: a finished novel. There is a lot of editing, rearranging, tweaking, and cutting to occur before that moment. But, my goal is to arrive at the finished tome and have it released to the public on December 7th, 2018.
Why that date? Well, because that’s the day Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be released, and I’ll have no time for both the book or the game at that point! (I know; if you’ve been reading, I tend to discuss the series a tad excessively. What can I say, passion is a large part of this book.)
Okay, truth be told that’s not the ONLY reason. I also aim to commence my book tour before the end of the year. Ideally, I’d like to visit a few hospitals in the Los Angeles area (especially the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles), and then travel around the country visiting children battling cancer in as many cities as I can.
This book is the first step in a long line of goals that I have to help as many people as I can in the time that I’ve been afforded. My Cancer Story will hopefully be there for others who are experiencing cancer in some form as a method of companionship and of hope.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.
Jump to a Chapter:
Chapter 100: “Love Off-Key”
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Winter break was upon us, and from Scriptwriting 101, I got an ‘A’ and better yet, a feature-length first draft. Instead of delving back into this script for revisions, I decided to push on and get more of my ideas out there. I mean, I can always go back and edit them later, right? Plus, my focus had now been diverted to another project: a short film, and I had a plan.
My goal was to write the script during winter break, rewrite as much as needed, and secure a location & the props, all before shooting it during the Spring Break in March. It was foolproof. But what to write?
Yesterday, June 23rd, 2018 was the first year anniversary of working my first day as a Set Production Assistant on American Horror Story (AHS). While this day may fall two days before my birthday, I’ll forever remember it because it turned the tides of my life in Los Angeles into that of a favorable one. Let me share a truncated recap of that year working in Hollywood.
Before this fateful day, I had been utterly depressed; struggling with looming financial obligations that, frankly, were egregious for any city, let alone Los Angeles. Nevermind the medical bills I had yet to pay off or the cost of the gimped & laughable health care plan I had just purchased.
I had just passed six months in LA and was filled with rage and sadness, with no way to expel the negative energy swirling around me at all times. I kept my faux happy face on as I drove Lyft just to pay the bare minimum of my costs, knowing full well that this immediate income would never touch the detrimental effects that these thousands of miles had upon the life of my car (on which I still owed $15,000).
I took this first day with the utmost gratitude and worked as best as I could to ensure that I would get another. And I did. That second day, we worked in Orange, CA, and I was late. I thought for sure that I would never work a day again. A friend of mine had once said that “If you’re early, you’re on time; if you’re on time, you’re late; and if you’re late, you’re fired.”
Luckily, they kept me around, and I spent the next few months working a day here and there, slowly weening myself off of Rideshare Dependency. I didn’t drive as much when I made TV money, and so, I was able to work more on my writing. I lived like a pauper: eating the bare minimum, rarely going out to do anything – and regretting every penny spent if I did – and having zero savings of which to speak. The biggest blunder I committed was buying a Nintendo Switch with the one time I did have savings and paid for it dearly when the work dried up momentarily.
The same Assistant Director (AD) that gave me my first shot on AHS, got me some days on Legion, and I thought that was one of the coolest shows I had ever experienced filming (to be fair, it was the third ever). The visual style and the set design were something to truly behold. I had worked one day on the American Horror Story production company’s follow-up, 9-1-1, but hadn’t heard from them in a while.
Then, I got a request in November to work on 9-1-1 again. They were onto episode four, and there was an airport scene that was filming at the Ontario Airport. I was entirely nervous (as I am on any new production), but I didn’t let it get to me. I saw a lot of familiar faces here which helped the matter.
This day kept me working with Ryan Murphy TV for several months until we wrapped in March of the following year. I became the unofficial fifth staff PA, except that I was treated as a staff PA. I received wrap gifts and was invited to the wrap party.
I had planned on taking a week off then visiting my family – especially my newborn nephew – after we wrapped, but was asked to work a four-day stint on movie reshoots for Skyscraper right before I departed. I had always wanted to work in films, and even narrowly missed a reshoot gig for Dwayne Johnson’s last film, Rampage. It occurred the same day as that airport shoot in Ontario for 9-1-1.
I went home for two weeks, and unfortunately, received a lot of calls to work on other production during that fortnight. When I got back to Los Angeles, I expected many more calls, but the work proved tepid once more. Ahh, the ebb and flow of the freelance life. I had to resort to driving Lyft again.
I hated driving in Los Angeles.
Luckily, some of these jobs eventually came back around, and I even continued to work with the same AD from Skyscraper, and a few of my fellow PAs from there. That job, Kidding, was the first show Jim Carrey had starred in since his In Living Color days. I was and still am a huge fan of his work, especially his more serious roles like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Man on the Moon, and my all-time favorite, The Truman Show.
And that’s where I stand now! I’ll work with the Kidding crew until I return to 9-1-1 in the middle of July, rejoining my first group of wonderful people. That’s the best secret of Hollywood: most people who work in the business are good people – or at least professional – sure, there are bad eggs, but the majority of crew members are hard-working and lively folks. It’s a pleasant surprise that many outside of the business wouldn’t discover based on the stereotype that perpetuates surrounding the industry.
If you take all of my music videos (as PA or 2nd AD), days in television, commercials, and movie reshoots, I worked 150 days in my first calendar year.
That’s one hell of a year. Here’s to this year and my personal growth within the industry.
Thanks, Mike and Michelle,
The downside of being a duteous Production Assistant is that Jamie doesn’t get to write as often as he would like. As of now, he’s taking a breather before he rewrites his Cancer Story, and hopes to write and talk about movies again soon. But when he has a moment, he continues a rewrite of a screenplay he hopes to sell one day! Never stop working on what you love! Jamie won’t!
With four days left (including Wednesday), I found out new things about me and the stupefied healthcare providers that currently “support” me.
My “Crohn’s” cramps came back with a vengeance this week, and I had to get to the bottom of them to move forward. Okay, so maybe I’ve been eating a lot more potatoes and watermelon at work (the latter being a running gag with the Production Staff), and after my antibiotics, I could see myself potentially feeding the Candida overgrowth. I didn’t have this much watermelon at my disposal during January’s Whole30 run.
I took the day off from “Kidding” to recover from my cramps, and attempted a doctor’s appointment. When I called at 9:00 AM, I was notified of the once impossible-to-schedule doctor’s office’s amendment to their stuffed system; replaced with a walk-in option from 9-11 AM. I drove over by 9:15, and waited until 10 AM for the doctor to show up.