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  • Morning Diaries: Meenakshi Ramamurthy sells an RV 🚐 & meets with her writers group

Morning Diaries: Meenakshi Ramamurthy sells an RV 🚐 & meets with her writers group

The pressure of getting "pages."

Hi friends! I’m going to be doing a new series called Morning Diaries, where writers I admire recap their mornings from when they wake up until noon. Today’s diary is from Meenakshi Ramamurthy, a writer for the Annie Award-winning children’s show Ghee Happy, which reimagines Hindu deities as little kids discovering their powers in a deity daycare. Take it away, Meena!

It’s 7 AM and I wake up. I went to bed early, well I intended it to be earlier but I stayed in bed rewatching the first My Big Fat Greek Wedding on my phone. The first movie is a comfort to me, but the new one was not very good. I wonder what happened? Was it the studio? Did the writer run out of autobiographical material? Anyway, I’m up early to desperately put together some pages for my Saturday morning writers group. I’m working on a comedy pilot about food and it’s coming along very slowly. Not for lack of ideas, but life stuff keeps getting in the way.

Today coincidentally is also the day the handoff is occurring for my first private car sale. During the pandemic my dad went deep on YouTube and became obsessed with RVs. He bought one, and then quickly realized how challenging they are to drive. Fast forward to a few months ago, we decided it was finally time to call it, and posted it online to sell. RVs are much more difficult to sell than traditional cars. Dealers wanted to offer us half the price of the car. Rude. The site I put it on would get maybe one hit every few months for an interested lead. Even then, I would get lowballed. I’m not really a fan of the back and forth of doing a sale-- I prefer haggling when it’s about fruit. Plus, people are so fickle when it comes to purchases, if they don’t get a response within a day they lose interest. I regret not having a 3rd party handle the sale online, but all the websites looked shady.

The buyer of our car was a retired teacher from Florida, a nice enough guy but still a Boomer. If you asked him more than one question in an email he got flustered. Selling a car to someone in a different state is tricky and I am getting quickly distracted from writing because the Texas DMV website is a pain. For some reason it wouldn’t issue a temporary permit for the new owner, so now I have the headache of this guy using our license plates. I fill out the title transfer paperwork online so at least some liability is reduced. I send the buyer an email with the paperwork and check in with him. His flight got delayed but he’s arriving soon. I have to tell him twice my parents will meet him in an hour. Boomer can’t handle texts with too much information. I call my parents to prepare them to meet him and my job is done. This has been a headache for me for months, and I’m glad it’s over. When I told a friend of mine about the whole situation she asked me, “Why is this your job?” I knew my parents wouldn’t have been able to handle all the emailing this took, dealing with websites, and that they would lose at least 7k+ selling with a dealer. Why is it my job? I guess the answer is when you have older immigrant parents, you just fill in the gaps. 

I eat an RX bar, a banana, and drink some water. It’s about 8 AM and my writers group is at 9. An hour to come up with things. Thankfully my group is understanding and any progress is progress. I’ve been researching a Korean American character that works alongside my lead. My group has advised me not to do a sassy best friend/Awkwafina type, so I go on a dive to really understand what type of upbringing this character came from. I think about how I can make this character based in an authentic reality. My research tells me about the late 19th century, when Christian missionaries recruited Korean agricultural laborers to work the sugar plantations in Hawaii. After their labor contracts ended many Koreans went to the west coast to buy land and farm, but the California Alien Land Act of 1913, prevented all Asians from owning land, so many immigrants had to just stay as laborers. Crazy to learn about all the shitty ways generational wealth was prevented. I love reading about these early stories of Asian immigration because the first wave is often forgotten and not taught. I’m thinking more about my character and decide I want her to be an expert at plating. I think she’s an abstract artist who applies studio art techniques to plating design. She’s sort of a Jane from Daria -- not really caring about school, but always busy doing her own thing. To figure out this character’s journey, I’ve basically charted her lineage from her grandparents to the present. This is satisfying to me, and although it’s not ‘pages’, I’m hoping my writers group will feel I have done something.

It’s time for my writers group, and only one of us has real pages. I’m relieved but also expect more from myself. It’s on zoom and we spend the first few minutes catching up and talking about life and deadlines we are trying to hit. Part of me is over all these diversity initiatives and I just want to write on my own schedule, but I know I need some semblance of structure. We start with the writer that has pages and she has a fun YA comedy set in the 90s. It’s a joy for me to read her pages because of the gems of 90s references -- blockbuster, skipped discmans, etc. It’s a fun read and we don’t have many notes. I feel like I should be telling her something more thoughtful, but I need to see her outline to see if her scenes are coming together towards what she wants. She gives us an overview of the YAs whose structure she is leaning towards and of course Mean Girls come up. Interestingly, Aaron Samuels doesn’t enter Mean Girls until page 20-something. My mom calls me in the middle of the group, so we take a short break. Thankfully, it’s just to tell me everything went well with the handoff of the car. Finally we get to my work and discuss my character. I’m writing this scene where the lead meets influencers at a politically conservative event and I want to paint some of the influencers in a positive light. Could one of them secretly have some higher point or agenda in this toxic space? I ask my group for suggestions and one of them asks why I want to paint them positively at all. This feels like therapy in a way where I have to examine my thoughts and intentions. I decide to just make the influencer character appear liberal and later reveal themselves to be conservative. A good enough fix for now. Some things you only figure out in pages.

My writers group ends and I quickly get ready. Today there is a Holi celebration (the Hindu festival of Spring) on Redondo Beach, and my friend has offered to drive if I meet at hers. During Holi it’s traditional to throw colored powder at each other. I take a quick shower and try to find clothes I don’t mind ruining. I want to wear white so the color shows up, so I find a white shirt I probably like too much to get ruined, but wear it anyway. I pack up a change of clothes, some flip flops, sunscreen, and some snacks. I decide I’m going to be hungry by the time I get to my friend’s place, so I whip up a quick egg with spinach on an english muffin. I love merging sweet with savory, and relish spreading jam on my English muffin. Ajit helps me cover the seats of our car with an old sheet in preparation for my messy self on the way back, and I’m off. 

The rest of the day was pretty much spent at the Holi fest. Getting there and back was a full day typical SoCal journey. Afterwards I took a bath and got most of the color out. Funny enough all my friends realized we had the same problem  - the powder had snuck in and stained our boobs. I make a joke on our group text in reference to the new Netflix show the 3 Body Probem - that we are having a ‘3 Booby Probem’. Then me and Ajit ate some takeout and I hit the hay.

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