Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Job… New Semester… Newt Gingrich

I have nothing to say about Newt Gingrich other than the obvious: is he going to run, how’s his hair these days, and will he shake-up the Republican primary?

Moving on…

I’m thrilled to report that I’ve begun a new job at a dynamic Danish TV development company. It’s nestled within a larger reklamebureau (or “advertising agency”) and has developed several credible programs for Danish TV (such as Laudrup Høgh and 2900 Happiness). Thus far, I couldn’t be more content, challenged or inspired in this new position. My title (in Danish) is Projekt Assistant. If you translate that into English, it means: high-ranking person. The K in projekt is a legitimizing letter outside the English language, lending instant credibility. I fall somewhere below the CEO in the chain-of-command (how far below doesn't really matter) .

This job is a striking departure from my activities at university this past year in Denmark. And it’s only mildly, hugely different from the position I held in the Governor’s office. Where my title had “Senior” and “Executive” in it. I know it’s ghastly arrogant (and pathetically wistful) of me to mention that point, but I do so only to make a larger one. A former hang-up on things like title, position and ‘career path’ has been called into question in the week+ that I’ve been a member of the Danish workforce. That is because the Danish office is constructed much more laterally, as opposed to the rigid hierarchies you’ll find in the US or the UK. Assistants will often share the same office as their superiors, and bosses will fetch their own coffee. In Denmark, its okay, even encouraged, to question those in authority. I still find that point quite strange, the fact that... those under me, like my stapler, can snap at me.

It feels like a homecoming, of sorts, back to my creative roots in television. This time around, my “first days” have been no less memorable than when I began in Hollywood, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, out of UCLA's film school. At Fox, my first day saw me tipping too far back in my squeaky office chair, and falling on my derriere – legs splayed – staring at the fax machine I had been instructed to watch. At the Paramount lot, on my first day at Roswell I got to zip around the studio in a golf cart, which was exhilarating until I rounded a corner too fast and entered the camera-shot of an actor performing a monologue on "New York” street. The actor, Al Pacino, stared back at me, daggers in his eyes matching my own shocked stare as I trembled, hiding behind the steering wheel. I was certain my ass was fired.

Somehow, I’ve managed to squeak by those first fretful days which we’ve all experienced in new jobs. Where you feel clueless, moronic and over-dressed. I told Anne Louise after my first day at CO+TV that I felt like the new kid in school. Only someone, by accident, dropped me off in China, and I don’t speak Mandarin. The language barrier has provided another intrigue angle into this struggled I’ve faced, learning the ropes. My ear must tune in to much more Danish than ever before, and at a company of 50, there are only two of us who don’t speak it fluently. Or even, not fluently.

My mother began an exciting, new job a few months ago, and she was ever the ace when I made my tearful phone call home last week. She described feeling lost, confused and hopeless when she first began her job. Her heart would race rapidly every time they asked her to work the cash register.

Even my mother, with her Mensa IQ and her illustrious medical degree, felt lost when she began her part-time gig at The Pottery Barn at Arden Fair Mall.

What a peach, my mom is. So I’m letting her words be a lesson of forgiveness for the idiotic moves I’m destined to make, like when I cheerfully asked the young CFO if he was an intern. If my mother had only known how many cocktails her once-classy daughter would throw back with her new colleagues, just days after that phone call, she would have issued a sterner pep talk.

But again, as I suggested, the "Danish office" is a liberal and open-minded place. Progressive,
if you will. And by getting drunk in their company I was making a bold statement: “I belong here.”

Or at the Betty Ford Center. I haven’t decided which one.

The fact that the “Danish Company Party” (where said drinking occurred) often ends in monster hangovers, expensive dry-cleaning bills, minor felonies, Donald Duck tattoos, jail-time and paternity tests, doesn’t make the office any less advanced.

I’ve officially been initiated into the European workforce, but I’ll write the party entry another time. Perhaps if I get bored at work.

(The other Bridget Jones. Not a mentor to young girls everywhere).