If you’re lucky, there are times in your life when someone comes along who changes everything for you. Usually, it’s when you least expect it. This chapter, and the month of May 2009, is about that person. But let’s backtrack a bit.
Back in December 2008, I added lots of new followers on Twitter. One of them was a producer whose username was @alliecine. We didn’t really chat much at that point, neither of us were tweeting a ton yet, and I didn’t know her from anyone else on the site. I think I found her on Twellow when I was doing filmmaker searches for people to follow.
Perhaps it was her avatar at the time that seduced – I mean interested – me.
Speaking of avatars, here is the progression of mine over my first year on Twitter.
I suppose it would have been more drastic if some of my avatars had hair and then there was some progression from hair to no hair, but the “no hair” thing was really an overnight whim that involved me and a razor. Occasionally I think about growing it back, but I’m so used to it by now I think it’d be weird to have it back. Also, when I’m under @kevinrieplmusic‘s desk, he likes to rub it while I…. nevermind.
It’s important, especially if you’re selling something or yourself on Twitter, that you stay somewhat consistent with your avatar. Your followers will get used to seeing what you look like, and if you change the avatar, it throws them off for a bit. If your Twitter account is a personal account, it’s not a big a deal. But if you’re a business of some kind (even porn stars, I don’t want @ce54r feeling left out), you want your customers to find you, and you want to “brand” yourself. Try and keep avatar changes to a minimum.
OK, back to me.
In March 2009 (three months prior), I got an email from @alliecine. She’d come across a lead for a scoring job and wanted to pass it on to me. I was surprised; it was the first time Twitter had potentially monetized itself. It was the first lead I’d received, and unsolicited at that. I emailed the director she recommended (For the record, I didn’t get the gig; I don’t even remember what film it was at this point. I’m sure the film suffered because I didn’t score it. Yeah, I’m cocky like that.), but I decided I should meet this @alliecine person and find out what she did in the industry so I could recommend her as well, and maybe get some more work out of her. We set up a coffee meeting in North Hollywood at the Coffee Bean on Lankershim and Chandler at 11am, Friday, March 13th.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember that March was not a great month. For anything. The ex-girlfriend and I spent the week before my meeting with @alliecine talking about whether things were fixable and if she was interested in working things out. The 12th of March it was decided (not by me) that it was definitely over. The next day, I took her to the airport for a trip to the Midwest that she’d planned the month before, and I went straight from LAX to my meeting with @alliecine.
I’ve always said, in hindsight, that the timing of that meeting was not the greatest. I was really not in a place of creativity and taking on new work, I was in a place of wallowing and rum. But because I never say no, I took the meeting. Ask @angelobell about my inability to say “No.” I’ve scored like eight projects for the man, including the feature “Broken Hearts Club,” where I had to write 80 minutes of music in 10 days. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when the stakes are high and the time is short. My best scoring comes from those kinds of projects.
But, after writing this chapter of the book, I’ve realized that the timing could not have been more perfect. It was the epitome of “one door closes, another one opens.” It just took me a few months to figure it out.
I remember the meeting like it was yesterday. I was early, since I came right from the airport, she was slightly late. We sat outside, right next to a location where a film crew was shooting.
And we talked… about business the entire time.
It was a one hour meeting that lasted 2 ½ hours. We covered my projects, hers, how long we’d been in the industry, the only “personal” conversation we had was where we’d grown up. I’m wordy, and with coffee I’m really wordy, but she was matching me in the convo.
But there was no flirting. Because of where I was emotionally, I approached the meeting without any agenda, no “rebound” thoughts, no ulterior motive. I do remember thinking she was a beautiful woman, but I reminded myself why I was there and kept the convo on the topic of film and music.
At some point, locked in conversation, I remembered I had a lunch with @kevinrieplmusic. It had already been over two hours, and it felt like five minutes. I wanted to skip the lunch with Kevin so I could keep talking to her. Fortunately for Kevin, I didn’t. I waited until the last possible moment to leave, with literally 10 minutes to get to my car and drive two cities away. We said our goodbyes, and vowed to keep in touch.
I made the lunch on time. It was a “wallow in a sea of margaritas over my breakup” kind of lunch at Casa Vega. Kevin’s a good friend. And almost as good a composer as I am. Almost.
After that, @alliecine and I started tweeting back-and-forth on a regular basis, and more than I was tweeting with anyone else. It’s not so much that I was smitten with her (yet). I was still in a bad place relationship-wise, and not thinking at all about finding someone new. She was just so damned interesting, and had more things going on at one time than I did, which I didn’t think possible. She was also hot, and I had to concentrate not to drool on myself, or at least hide it well. She was more driven to succeed than any woman I’d ever met. And that was both interesting and incredibly sexy at the same time.
Our tweeting was, in hindsight, like two 5th graders on the playground who call each other names because they’re not smart enough to figure out how to tell the other person they like them.
OK, maybe that was more me than her.
The above tweets are a good example of how @alliecine and I communicated. And because of our near-constant interactions (I didn’t write squat musically in May, I’d stopped looking for scoring work in March and was content spending all my time thinking about how miserable I was), I started to gain followers, some of hers and some just from the fact that I was tweeting A LOT, and more of it was from interacting with other people rather than talking about myself, something I still do today. But make no mistake, I was still miserable. Talking to @alliecine made it slightly more bearable. Unlike taking to @christinacheney, which leaves me feeling like I’m leaving the interaction with an Apple sticker stuck on my butt and, during the conversation, she had goons break in my studio and destroy my PC.
@alliecine and I started talking by Facebook chat as well, and then we moved to AIM. It became a nightly ritual, talking to her at 11pm for an hour or so, going on about our day until one or the other of us passed out. She used to chat on her laptop sideways, lying on her bed, and would occasionally just stop chatting because she fell asleep. It was cute.
No, she did not fall asleep because of the conversation.
I was fascinated by her; I’d never met anyone going 200 mph that still managed to get stuff done really well. I am very much a juggler when it comes to work. I love my ToDo List. There is never a time when my ToDo List is empty. By the time I finish things, I’m already thinking about what I want and need to do next. She worked the same way. Sure, I’ve worked with lots of driven people. But everyone has there own way of proceeding with projects and getting things done, and Allie was the first person I’d come across that did it the same way I did.
By the time May reared its ugly head, I had a problem.
We’d become friends. I was starting to feel comfortable confiding in her, in a way I didn’t confide in other people. And I was talking about her to @kimberlyprendez all the time.
Me: And then Allie said this, and I said that, and then SHE said this, and I laughed. And then SHE laughed. (pause) You had to be there.
Kim: You’ve got a crush on her.
Me: Yeah, right. That’s ridiculous.
Kim: Are you stupid?
Kim: You are if you don’t realize you have a crush on her. You talk about her all the time. You talk TO her all the time.
Me: No I don’t. We chat in the morning when we get up, then we tweet during the day, and then we chat for a few hours at night, but that’s it.
Me: OMG, that’s exactly what Allison says! And then I say-
Kim: You are SO crushing on her. HARD.
Kim: Tell her.
Me: And screw up the friendship? No way. I’ll get over it. I don’t think she feels the same way.
Kim: She’s in Europe with her sister for 2 weeks, right?
Kim: How often do you talk to her?
Me: We email once a day.
Kim: How many of her guy friends do you think she’s emailing with while she’s in Europe for the first time?
Me: (meekly) All of them? (pause) That doesn’t mean she feels the same way.
Kim: It’s amazing you ever dated anyone in your entire life.
Me: I don’t have to take this abuse.
Kim: It’s time. Ask her out.
I wasn’t sure yet. Then, a few days later, at 2am in morning, Allison texted me from the Dallas airport during a four hour layover. We chatted until almost 6am, and I realized that she wouldn’t be talking to me for this long, at this time of the day, if she wasn’t interested. So I asked her out.
I wasn’t very clear that it was a “date,” even though said “outing” was dinner and a movie.
Yeah, I was that dense.
In any case, two days after she got back, we went on our “date.” I called Kim on the way to Allie’s house and she told me I had to find out, before the night was over, if this was really a “date.” We went to PF Chang’s for dinner and saw “Star Trek.” Then we went back to her apartment and…
Talked. For about four more hours.
It was literally an eight hour first date. I talk a lot. When I’m nervous, I talk fast. It’s a lethal combination. But Allison talks fast too, so there was this surreal moment on the couch when we were immersed in conversation, both of us weaving in and out and going a million miles a minute, when I realized that she was the female version of me.
I also realized, about seven hours into the date, that I still hadn’t determined whether or not it was a date. So I decided to lay it all on the line.
Me: Yo, baby. You so fine, you wanna be my boo?
Allie: (blank stare)
Me: Don’t leave me hanging, baby, gimme a little sugar.
Allie: (reaches for gun)
OK, it didn’t go quite like that. I told her how I felt about her, and she told me the feeling was mutual. I was overjoyed.
But there was a problem.
It was at that moment I realized there were some things we hadn’t discussed that we really, really needed to discuss. Like the small, insignificant, not really important fact that there was a teenage boy living with me, a teenager that shared my genetic imprint.
Like I said; nothing important.
Author’s Note: This next section of the book is brought to you by @alliecine, who thought it should be included. At first I said no, and then she persuaded me by holding a pillow over my head until I started to twitch, which convinced me that she was right. None of this appeared on Twitter, so you’re getting the exclusive scoop right here.
There were two reasons this never came up in conversation.
First, during business meetings, I don’t talk about family unless it comes up directly. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my family; it’s that I try to separate the two. When you’re applying for a job, family is not the first thing you talk about, sometimes it doesn’t even come up until after you’re hired, and a lot people don’t like to mix the two. I’ve worked with over 50 directors in my job as a composer, and a good lot of them don’t even know that I was married or have children. But I don’t know personal details about them either. It’s just the way it works when you freelance and you have different bosses that come and go quickly. Some people I work with I become friends with, and then that kind of stuff comes out as you get to know them personally. Like @1111Movie’s Rocky Costanzo. We’ve spent hours and hours talking about relationships and life, things that had nothing to do with the score we were working on together. Very few people know that Rocky has five wives and 16 children scattered all over the country. I told him I’d never tell a soul.
The second reason I hadn’t said anything about kids is… well, it’s a ridiculous reason. When you’re a single father and you’re dating, two things generally happen. You either have the women who think it’s admirable that you’re raising your kids and date you, or the ones that are like “You have children? I’ve gotta go.” There was a point during which I realized I was crushing on @alliecine and that the topic of children hadn’t come up “naturally.” My brain decided, in its infinite wisdom, that there was no reason to rush telling her. We weren’t dating; we were still “composer” and “producer.” It didn’t really matter if we were just friends as long as you didn’t lie about it if she asked you directly.
I listened to that part of my brain.
Fast forward to the first “date,” and literally the moment I realized we were actually on a date. Then THAT stupid part of my brain was like, “Yo, man, I gotta go. I got some things to take care of, peace out.”
Then the logical part of my brain, which clearly had been on vacation, showed up, suitcase still in his hand and lei around his neck going “What the hell is going on here? Who made this mess? You didn’t tell her about the kid? What were you thinking? I’m gone for a month and this is what happens?!”
So I told her. And she was shocked. Not that I had kids, that part of the whole scenario, ironically, didn’t make any difference in the way that she felt about me, which is something I should have already guessed. The part that shocked her was the fact that I’d been keeping it from her.
I didn’t make any excuses, I told her how it had happened, why, and took full responsibility for screwing it up. On top of everything else, I didn’t want her to think I was lying to get out of it. She listened and nodded, and said she needed some time to process the information. I said “I understand.”
And the next day, she said we shouldn’t date anymore.
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