I sat down to write this “About Me” page. And even though I could outline the highlights of my career as an entertainment host or talk about my time at UCLA in both the “Drug and Alcohol Counseling” and “Architecture and Interior Design” programs, (in an attempt to qualify myself as an expert on related posts) I realized, “those are things I’ve done, not who I am.”
So I bring you an excerpt of an epiphany I had awhile ago that I feel best describes me, how my mind works and just who I am at the core.
Below, “At 8.”
SOME THINGS ARE NOT MEANT TO CHANGE. We often come to the ah-ha moment in a flashback of our childhood and we’re reminded, “we are who we are.”
My 3rd grade teacher would write the numbered list of “tasks” we were to carry out for the day. I’m assuming “agenda” would have been too sophisticated for tender 8 year olds. It went something like this:
Math worksheet, ( don’t forget to carry over the “1”).
Writing practice sheet, cursive letter M and lower case l, (piece of cake, I was practicing cursive when I was five).
Science worksheet, (fossils again?)
English worksheet, followed by reading groups.
Make a birthday card for _____________ (someone was always turning 8 in third grade).
In my mind, if I could race through the worksheets, I could take my time making the most beautiful birthday card ever. I creatively took it to the level of, “Hallmark would kill for this.”
I’d start by selecting the prettiest colors in my deluxe box of crayons, (you know the kind that had grass-green and mint green) and always started with drawing a cake which was detailed with three balloons, (pretty standard). Yet, when you’re 8, three balloons seems original.
I’m assuming that by noon, I was ready to socialize and that is precisely what I did. I would quickly turn in my “work,” and then spend forever crafting the most ornate masterpiece Crayola allowed, on rough construction paper, and then search out my “victim.”
Someone had to hurry up and finish too, because I needed someone to talk to, which subsequently gave me the most brilliant idea any 8-year-old could have: HELP THEM FINISH THEIR WORK, SO THEY CAN HANG OUT AND TALK TO ME. It was a master plan.
The teacher, however, wasn’t a fan of this. I thought I was being helpful. I just wanted to help them finish so I wasn’t alone staring at the pale yellow bulletin board decorated with tiny silver staples and poster board cut outs of animals and seasonal calendars. The room was too quiet with little minds working away and I was uncomfortable.
I walked around watching kids work; measuring their progress, with the repeating thought, “who is going to be done first?”
And that is about the time when the big, bad teacher’s assistant would ask me if I had completed all of my work, to which I replied of course, “yes, do you want to check it with me, because my card is amazing.”
And she would reply, “Melana, you need to go sit at your desk and read until everyone is finished.”
Read? I had thoughts. A lot of thoughts. And I needed to share them.
I was a nice child, so I held back my retort and slowly walked toward my desk…until I discovered someone had just finished all of their work too, (cue the victory music, flashing lights and disco ball).
Conveniently forgetting what the teacher had asked me to do, I quickly made conversation with the 2nd finisher of my socially charged race to free my mind of a monologue that I thought should be a dialogue. I was tiny, but I always had a lot to say, (which probably turned into me verbally accosting someone who didn’t care about unicorns or my extensive strawberry shortcake collection).
So, now I work at E! and when I finish shooting a story, I have this intense desire to go chat with people, at their desks, in their offices…NO ONE IS SAFE.
I need to realize that they are diligently working and I’m still that 8-year-old who is dying to chat. I try to refrain. I’d hate for my parents to be called into a parent/producer meeting where they remind them that their child is a social butterfly and that I need to work on this.
I’m 4 times 8, but for once, I feel like I’m making progress.