A while ago, John August posted a link to this very cool site, where you can find out how popular names are throughout time. It can be quite useful for picking character names. Even beyond the practicality of finding out what’s popular in your script's time period, it can be very poetic to give someone a common name, a unique name, a name that’s before its time, or a name that sings of the past.
My name was the 3rd most popular female name in the 1980s, when I was born. It kind of sucked always being Amanda P amidst all the other Amandas, but when I took Latin and found out what my name literally translated to (“must be loved”), I found a new appreciation for it. What strikes me about the website's graph, though, is the huge downslope my name takes after the 80s. Amanda gave way to Emily and Madison, and those names will surely hand over the tiara to others. It got me thinking. When I was a kid, practically all of my friends’ mothers were named Linda. Seriously, LOTS of Lindas - but I didn’t know any Lindas my age. It was a mom name. And someday that’s going to happen to me; I’m going to be a Linda.
Moving onto a blog lesson I've been thinking about: LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY. Or, at least don’t spend it, so that you actually have money to manage.
Hollywood lesson #1: There is a lot of money to be made here.
Hollywood lesson #1B: You will not see any of it for a very long time.
Hollywood lesson #1C: (You’d better really want this.)
Hollywood lesson #1D: (And if you’re in it for the money, I don’t think you’ll last. Go work in investment banking or something, where being 23 might mean a BMW and an expense account, not a job as a secretary, I mean assistant.)
I got a scholarship to college, which was the best and worst thing that ever happened to me. Okay, mostly best. Without the scholarship, I never would have gone there. I never would have studied TV. I never would have studied abroad, never spent a summer in NY or a semester in LA. I never would have moved here. If my life were told a la Sliding Doors there would be two very different stories indeed.
But it was the worst thing because it let me live without worrying about money. Each semester I’d get more money for books, housing, etc. When I moved off-campus and stopped munching my way through all-you-can-eat meal plans, I got even more money. I didn’t save anything. Essentially, I had an allowance until I was 21 years old.
And now I am poor. I am poor and sitting in Starbucks, my ass getting numb from this hard wooden chair, using a tmobile account that a generous blog reader shared, drinking Diet Coke (from one of those cost-effective 12-packs) from a plastic Starbucks cup that I’m reusing in the hopes that it looks like iced coffee. In reality I’m sure none of the other patrons care that I'm a mooch, and I’m sure the employees probably have other things on their minds, like how being a barista is giving them lots of material for their pilot but that it’s also driving them crazy. Still, it puts me at ease; I can sit here, free to ignore my writing and instead eavesdrop on the high schoolers I’ve come to realize are regulars here.
It dawns on me that Sherman Oaks is a lot like Clarence, the suburban town I grew up in. We had dirty snowbanks instead of palm trees, but Transit Road was a lot like Ventura Blvd, and in high school (or on those strange breaks from college) we didn’t have many other places to go than Starbucks. In fact, after about sophomore year, I started avoiding the place since I didn’t really want to run into those sort-of-friends you stalk on facebook but haven’t actually talked to in years. If I really needed a green tea frappucino I’d drive a few miles down Transit to some other high school’s Starbucks where no one knew me.
And I’m doing the same thing now. 3,000 miles away, I'm sitting in some other high school’s Starbucks. The scruffy boys and leggy girls get up and go outside to greet more of their own. But I’ll be here ‘til close, my ass getting number, my Diet Coke running out.
In a few years I'll be their Linda.