I look back and see tomorrow…

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Well, so tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I’m sitting in a Hotel room in Vancouver counting the many blessings from the past year. I’m here visiting the set of Supernatural, and having an all around good time. Ironically, today is Family Day, a provincial holiday in Canada. Yet, my own family is far away from here. Amanda, our dog Pablo, and our upcoming bundle of joy! I’m going to be a FATHER soon. What an incredible and amazing chapter of my life that is about to come into being. As I think about the future that waits for my wife and I, all the moments that we’ve built upon come into mind. It’s only been a year and some months since we’ve first said our vows.

With so much happening in our lives, the fact that we are still in fact newlyweds can be overshadowed at times. That’s life, you live it day by day and you try to never lose sight of the important things… if you can manage it. You can bet that on Valentines Day I will not lose sight of just how lucky of a man I am. Last year I had planned to write an OPEN LETTER to Amanda on the night before our wedding, and post it online for the world to see. Being a bit of a private person with certain things, and because I am always writing about so many other things other than my feelings about her specifically, I wanted to put something out there in the world that would fully display exactly what she means to me.

As it turns out, I was in Austin, TX right up until the night before our wedding. I was on set as a Writer for American Crime Season 2 and I had made the choice to let the work interrupt my personal life. There’s no excuse, I had the option of backing down. I know there was more than capable people around me to take over, correction: the people around me were extremely capable where as I was still learning. So I wanted the experience, and I wanted to enjoy all the success in my professional life I had worked so hard for. Amanda flew back with me the day after the wedding; it was a magical weekend with lots of joy. We had our honeymoon in Italy during the winter hiatus and will forever carry that time together in our hearts. But you know, that open letter to Amanda still needles at the back of my head sometimes.

That open letter to my wife was something I really wish I had taken the time away from everything going on to accomplish. I wanted to just write about the woman I love, and let the world know about it. So today feels like as good a day as any. Family Day, Valentines’ Day, and two months before our son arrives. I can’t remember exactly what I was going to write, it was probably going to be long and over written anyway. So I figured maybe I should just post on here the weddings vows I said to her on our special day. I’m not the best poet, so I apologize if the language comes off as over gilded. I wrote these on a two-hour flight from Los Angeles to Austin, and tried to edit over the next week before the wedding. I even ignored Regina King for most of that flight to get the bones of it down. The prose may be sloppy, but it sums up how I felt, feel, and will always feel about my wife. So, here it is out in the world, my weddings vows. Happy Valentines Day baby… I love you:

Amanda,

The Universe, in its all-knowing wisdom, put you here with me.

From that first spark of energy between us, both of us standing there by the windows of a second floor mezzanine, I can still see that gleam in your eyes today, and my soul still dances with joy.

You have taught me something valuable. You have convinced me that I am lucky and that I am blessed. All the proof of this is standing right in front of me.

What promises can I make to the person who changed my life? What oath could I speak that explains this song inside of me?

Only God can know my happiness, my gratitude, all that it means that I will have the privilege of saying to the world that I am your husband.

You know me as a man of actions. So my vows to you are simple. I pledge to give you all of myself and never expect anything in return.

I will continue to grow, to listen, to share, to be gentle in spirit when you require kindness and to be strong of heart when you desire comfort and security. I will be your rock, your pillow, a confidant; the one who challenges you, at times a humble servant and when you need it most, a proud champion.

I will be your everything because you are my everything.

Alpha, Omega, from this point in time, in every far corner of the infinite cosmos, we are together. We are one. We will live this life, and go on to dream of many others, forever bathing in the light of our union on the Elysium Fields of eternity.

This is my vow: with all that is me, I exist to love you.

My second writing gig: SUPERNATURAL

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The last two years have been nothing short of life changing, both professionally and personally. Many lessons have been learned and others are still on the horizon. And now, here I am making a big step forward in my writing career. I am going from an apprentice to a journeyman, the contract term is a “Writer Employed in Additional Capacities”. On the credits it will say: Story Editor.

It’s a bitter-sweet victory. To take this plunge I leave a place that has always felt like home, ABC Studios. The place that gave me my first entrance into this career, and I don’t mean just the first writing job, I mean way back when I was an associate getting coffee and answering phones. The Disney Lot in Burbank has grown to a be a place of great comfort to me. Having never graduated from a University, I can only imagine this is perhaps what it might feel like to leave a hallow ground that has educated you.  Knowing that I make this move with the full support of the people who have helped me to this point is a great reward unto itself. Writing on American Crime is a once in a lifetime experience, I’m one hundred percent aware that I may never find a room like that again in this town. It’s unique in its make up, its leadership, execution, and trust. John Ridley looked out to all of us on day one of the first season (a room mostly made of women and people of color, yes you heard me, more than just one woman in a writers room…) and said his sincere hope was to see all of us rise to be Showrunners one day.

It is because of John Ridley and  EP Michael McDonald’s empowerment that I am even in the position that I am in today. Because of ABC Studios and American Crime I am able to take a leap forward and work up the chain. I began as an Associate at ABC, after a long road was selected as a Writer Fellow, and was asked back to be a Staff Writer. Because of that and the trust that John and Michael had in me to write episodes for the show, I’m in the machine now, I’m a working writer, hireable, I am able to diversify my credits. I’m not one of those “diversity hires” that gets bounced around like a bargain basement fire sale to round out a room, I am just a writer doing his thing. And knowing that American Crime is going to continue excites me to see what brilliant stories will come out of that genius factory for next season. I move forward knowing that I leave a place open for another young voice to come show their skills and prove that we are here, the inclusive talented storytellers are here, just invite us in. Taking a job as a Story Editor for a show with a full season order is another step towards that ultimate goal, that challenge John himself put upon on all of us: be a Showrunner some day.

The next step begins Monday, and I am excited to the umpteenth degree. I am going from writing about our real world monstrosities to a show about brothers who fight monsters in the real world. Horror and Sci-Fi are the two things that brought me to the written word in the first place. It’s in my blood, I’m literally born on Halloween. To tap into this other side of my creative self and plunge head first into a different kind of show feels like the first day of school all over again. Considering I was kicked out of four High Schools, that might not be the best analogy…but I think you can see my drift. Right now from the way I see things it is all gravy. To have the privilege to do what you love as a career, it is a huge blessing and I am forever grateful to anyone involved with me being able to do that.

It’s all a dream come true. To make things even more fantastic, I could not have asked for a better second job in television.

SUPERNATURAL

http://www.warnerbros.com/tv/supernatural

What a strange and wild time…

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So I may not post often, but when I do, it’s because there’s usually some things noodling at the back of my psyche. To be fair, there is always some things noodling at the back of my psyche. But I try not to write in public until I’ve got them worked out to the point that the words don’t sound like the ravings of my inner lunatic.

This past year has been another interesting and monumental chapter in my ongoing journey. Bigger than the privilege I have to create stories for a mass audience, is the joy that being a married man brings to me. It’s been six months since I said my vows and each day they only seem to sink deeper and deeper into my skin. Maybe it’s the Vicodin (I had oral surgery yesterday, I don’t pop pills recreationally) or the fact that my sweet wifey took care of me like I the achey drugged out puppy that I am right now, but whatever the case may be… I look at her and I just feel a warm glow of energy that is beyond me.

Being a part of Season Two of American Crime was something that really pushed me to places I did not know were within me. In a good way, I was challenged and inspired all at once. I see now that during the writing and production of Season One, I didn’t realize how much I still don’t know. I was just so glad to be there, and at times feeling like maybe I was an outsider and at any moment they would put me on a flight back to L.A. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and if anything I was embraced fully, made to feel that I was among peers.

This year, I was definitely aware of the things that I don’t know, but that’s okay. I’m surrounded by amazing talented people who are more than willing to help show me the way. The flip side to that is that I was confident in the things that I do know, more aware of the process around me. My whole life, I’ve learned by doing. I’m just beyond grateful to be a part of a show that lets it’s creative team do just that, do and be involved.

After working my heart out during the fall, the Roman Holiday my wife and I took for our Honeymoon was a much needed refreshment for both of our lives. For a boy from East Los whose travels mostly included road tripping it up and down the Cali coast and trips down to Mexico, walking the ancient streets that gave birth to Western Civilization was a life changing experience. My world is getting bigger everyday, and I dig that.

There is good energy in the ether. I’m meeting some amazing artists who inspire me and push me to elevate my game. From working under Noah Hawley as his assistant during that seminal first year of Fargo, to being in a writer’s room with an amazing group of talented playwrights and filmmakers… did I mention John Ridley? I don’t name drop for the sake of feeling legit, it’s about the strange wonderment that I have. These last three years I’ve been around artists working at the top of their game doing things I hope to emulate. That includes the people I’m now coming into contact with as my career progresses.

For the long haul, I don’t know where exactly it will all end up, but right now it feels like it’s going in all the right directions… at least right now. I’m an artist and we all know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, there is not always a crunchy lollipop at the end. Like I said, there’s a reason I don’t post in public very often… I’ve got a personal journal for all that other junk.  But for today, I think the lesson that really hit home this week was to remember to be real, be me, and seek my truth. I don’t need to prove my truth, just live in it, and lead with it. Lucky for me today that truth is I am loved and in love with an amazing person and I get to tell stories for a living. Not bad.

And yes, my ever diligent servant Pablo is sleeping soundly next to me: Cave Canem.

Existential Gratitude

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It’s been a fair amount of time since I’ve posted on here. This could be because I’ve been legitimately busy or just flat out lazy, the verdict is still out on that one. Looking back at some of the milestones I’ve achieved this past year, it’s been an interesting one. I figure now is as good a time as any to kickstart my heart, sorry, I meant restart my blogging… Motley Crue can get stuck in your head sometimes with those catchy hooks!

There is a year’s worth of ups and downs (mostly ups) to go over, so I don’t intend on cramming them all in this one post. But I did want to put it out into the universe how incredibly lucky I feel to be where I am in this moment. I’m about six months away from being married to an amazing woman, and 12 hours away from seeing the premiere of a Television Show I had the privilege to work on (American Crime 10pm on ABC).

As my little dog, Pablo (who is also part of the greatness of this last year), lays in the sun next to me, basking his tiny furried body in the warm glow of UV and Vitamin E, I  too must allow myself some time to pause and let the positive nature of all things wash over me. It’s easy for us as artists, struggling and otherwise, to look at the hill we have yet to climb. Too often we forget to look back at the miles of road we’ve traversed behind us. So this is me thanking my friends, family, strangers, supporters, former bosses, future collaborators, and everyone else on this planet for every interaction that has allowed me to be where I am in this moment, and do what I love.

More to come…

My first staff writing job: AMERICAN CRIME

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After a long journey, and one I almost quit at times, I find myself at the dawn of my professional writing career.

Technically, the career started back when I first stepped on a stage and felt the urge to be a part of a story. But, I am not here to be technical. My point is that I’m now going to be paid  to do the thing I am most passionate about (to the point that I get into foul moods without it).

It’s a dream come true, and a dream that is just starting to weave itself into something tangible. To make things even more fantastic, I could not have asked for a better first job in television.

AMERICAN CRIME

http://abc.go.com/shows/american-crime

I’m a writer

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Okay. So 2014 is turning out to be a pretty good year so far. And last year was amazing, so I’m still grateful for that.

I’m enjoying this time while I can, and getting myself adjusted to moving up another rung; one step closer to being a working writer. It’s a mental shift in how I do and see things, but a very welcome one! It’s one of those moments in life where you’ve been working so hard at something, trying to convince others to give you a chance at it, and then someone calls your bluff. Now you have to make good on all of those promises that you have the talent equal to the task.

Getting my name shouted out on Deadline for the first time is kind of cool (read it here: http://www.deadline.com/2014/01/disneyabc-writing-program-announces-2014-participants/ )

Of course, I got over the stigma that comes with being a creative person a long time ago… so I wasn’t looking for a stamp of approval. I also rightfully abandoned that feeling of self doubt that comes with telling people “I am a writer” at parties and events. You know the feeling that waits inside all of us whenever we dare to dream. It calls you a liar and often pinches knots at the base of your stomach until you cover for yourself saying “well… I haven’t written anything yet” or “some things, but you would have never read or seen them” that’s the one I am talking about. It’s a real nasally bastard of a voice. But like I said, I got over that feeling all on my own. So I’ve known for some time now that I am a writer.

I’m just excited to know that others might learn that about me too. Even better, if I can tell those people a story on screen, and then manage to get paid for it, well that’s not a bad way to spend my time I would have to say.

The Night Stalker

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So a few days ago Richard Ramirez died… I say good riddance. When I was a young boy I remember being gripped with fear by his murder spree. But I was also very fascinated by the way he was cornered by a whole community, literally chased down, and captured. Years later I wrote the following short story. I suppose now is  an appropriate time to share it.

L.A. Fever
By Davy Perez

       It was not your typical Saturday morning for Manual de la Torres. San Diego was in a grueling match-up against Montreal and being slaughtered 6 to 0. This could only mean one thing. It was going to be a good day for Dodger Baseball.

“Manny!” The woman’s voice came from the kitchen of the small tract home. Angelina de la Torres kept a clean living space but the house was always in need of some sort of structural improvement. It was located on the 3700 block of Hubbard Street, in the heart of East Los Angeles. “Are you gonna finish that fence today?” Her question was more of a spousal demand than it was an inquiry.
“Ange, the Game.” Manual winced as the Padres advanced a batter to second base and scored their first run. The score was now Expos-6/Padres-1, with only one out and three more innings to play.
“What time are you going to start it?” Angela was late for her nail appointment but she was not going to let up. That fence needed to be constructed as soon as possible. It would help to make her feel safe. Manual could sense the frustration in her voice as he turned to face her.
“Babe. Tailgate today, ‘member?” He asked politely, “Please?” Now Manual was pleading. Begging his wife’s permission with chocolate brown puppy dog eyes and every bit of his manhood in check. If any of the neighborhood regulars could witness this private moment, they would have slapped him in his face for acting like a ‘puto’.
“Mañana then. But for sure though Manny.”
“For sure,” Dodger Dogs, Manual could already taste the tangy mix of salty fat and mustard dripping on his tongue. “Ta’morrow.”
“Right after church”
“Right after church. Yeah.” He could hardly contain himself. “I love you babe. You’re my angel”
“Yeah, I love you too.” Angela walked out the door to begin her errands for the day.
“And it’s a DOUBLE PLAY!” Manual now turned his complete attention back to the warm glow of cathode ray tubes that was his television. He had ‘Blue Fever’ and it was indeed looking like a good day for Dodger Baseball. There was no better way to experience it than by having a tailgate party up at The Stadium with lifelong friends from the neighborhood. Across the street a Mustang engine roared and then rumbled.
“Tino finally got his pony up and running.” Manual mused to himself. “I wonder if he got that Muncie tran–.” The screech of tires and a woman’s scream stopped him dead in his tracks. A cold shiver trickled down his spine as he took to his feet. His only thought was “Angela.” Outside people began to shout. Manual ran out the door as fast as his feet would carry him.

The day was hot. Bright and hot. The sun beat down upon Richard with an un-abating eye of judgment. For Richard Ramirez, only the cool soft embrace of the night was ever any comfort. It was then that the voices in his head would speak clearly to him. Telling him which way to go, which house to enter…whose life to take. For Richard, the voices were a direct link to Satan; his very own personal communication with the master. The women he tasted and defiled were merely presents given to him by the Devil, and he used the voices to guide him. In the darkness of night the voices protected him. In the evening The Night Stalker could be courageous, treading the paths of inequity without the fear of retribution. But this was not the nighttime. In the sun there was only confusion, a haze of uncertainty. The voices became muddled during the waking hours, leaving Richard in disarray. He entered a strange driveway and walked towards the back of the house looking for a vehicle to take. His name was all over the newspapers now and there was not one person in the whole of California who did not know that Richard Ramirez was a killer. But this was of little concern to him at the moment. All he wanted to do was to find a car and drive it far away. Far off into a deep dark hole somewhere. Dank and moist, to hide from the ever prying eyes of society, away from the ugly faces of humanity. He longed to be isolated, but above that, to be out of the hot light of the sun.

“Hey!” The man’s voice jarred Richard back to reality for a brief moment. “What’s going on?”
Richard did not wait to respond but instead quickly decided to hop the nearest fence. Once on the other side he found himself starring at a beautiful manifestation of American engineering, a cherry red Ford Mustang. He could not believe his luck as he discovered that not only was the driver side door unlocked but the keys were actually in the ignition.
“Thank you Satan,” Richard smiled. Sparkplugs lit and the motor engaged as he turned the key.
Faustino Pinon was in love with his car. ‘Tino’, as he was known by the locals, would often joke to his friends that he would like to be buried in it, as if he where some ancient pharaoh attempting to take his wealth and worldly pleasures with him into the afterlife. He had just spent the last few months of his life personally rebuilding the engine and had not taken her out for a spin in almost a year. Parts for his baby were not cheap, but no expense was spared when it came to his prized possession: a 1968, Candy Apple Red, Ford Shelby Mustang, GT-350. On this particular morning he was underneath his beloved “Sally”, installing a new Muncie Performance Transmission. As he was about to screw the last bolt into place when there was a noise followed by the entire machine briefly jerking forward. Tino was not shocked by the mixture of oil and transmission fluid that squirted him in the face, nor was he surprised by the deep rumble of his mighty 302 Boss engine cranking over. The fact that someone would actually be in the driver seat and dare to ruin the sanctity of his Sally, turning the key with their strange foul presence, appalled him the most. Especially now that she was practically a virgin again.
“Some stupid punk really gonna try to steal my ride?” He thought to himself. “I’ll fuckin’ kill ’em!” Faustino grabbed the heaviest wrench in his arsenal and shot out from underneath the car.

Manual de la Torres ran out the front door of his house but could not at first make sense of what was happening. Mustang Sally was rammed hood first into a telephone pole and Tino himself was running from the passenger side towards Angela. That is when Manual noticed the man about to assault his wife.
Although in shock, Angela would still not give up her car keys. Richard was going to punch her in the face and take them anyway.
Manual grabbed the nearest weapon he could find, a three-foot aluminum pole of the type most commonly used as a fence post. He could see the man attacking Angela had a wild and vicious look in his eyes, a terrible look of evil and violence. This drove Manual to act with even more resolve towards his wife’s protection.
Richard looked beyond the yard he now stood in front of and learned that his next potential victim had a protector. He decided to continue running. That is when someone yelled, “It’s him!”
“The Night Stalker!” Someone else shouted.
“That’s the guy!”
“Get him!” The entire neighborhood was alive now.
This was all Manual needed to hear. At that moment his adrenaline and courage increased even beyond its already accelerated rate.
“This was the man who murdered all those people;” Manual began to recall the recent news reports as he took his first swing. His swing was high and away. He missed Ramirez by just inside a few inches. “This was the freak who did all that crazy devil and sex shit to all those girls”, Manny wanted to knock his head clean off. The recent attacks had struck terror into the hearts of every single person in the City of Los Angeles. Richard Ramirez was the reason why in the middle of a heat wave, Manual couldn’t leave the window open at night and had to sleep in a sticky pool of his own sweat. “Fuckin Assshole!”  Another swing and a miss. Strike two.
Ramirez turned his head, taunting his pursuers as he stuck out his discolored tongue at them.
This was not a man in Manual’s eyes. This was a monster before him. The Night Stalker. The right hand of Satan himself. The piece of garbage who just moments ago almost knocked out his innocent sweet Angel. Manual swung hard and fast. In his heart, this time he knew he would not miss.
Tino was right next to Manny as the aluminum pole slammed against the killer’s face. Tino gave a follow up blow with his steel wrench. Three brothers who had run from their homes were now joining into the fray, as was every other able-bodied male in the neighborhood. They pummeled Ramirez until teeth and flesh mangled into one. Hot deep red and blackish liquid flew up into their faces.
The crowd cheered. As they knocked his skull against the hard cement of a concrete curb, a loud crack was heard over the jeers. Some people began to chant, calling for his total dismemberment. It was a Roman carnival, a circus of mayhem.

Manny could feel his heart racing. He was alive with excitement. Swift vengeance was a game and it was fun to play. Manny wanted nothing more than to kill this man. Not for the crowd, not for God, not for anything else but his own personal satisfaction. In his mind the thoughts were clear as day, “I am going to kill the Night Stalker.” Manny sank his fist further into the soft purple mass of bulbous and bruised cheeks which no longer resembled Richard’s face.

Manual did not hear the sirens approaching. Nor did he stop attacking his victim when the police arrived. He was made deaf with violence. As he was being restrained, the police knocked Manual de La Torres’s torso to the ground and his face met the blank stare of the half-dead Ramirez. Richard was still barely clinging unto to a shred of life but no longer responded to stimuli. In those dark sinister pupils, glazed over with tears, Manual could see his own reflection was staring back at him. It was an angry blood soaked face. Manual’s eyes housed the wild and vicious look of a killer. Upon recognizing this, his spirit broke in half. The rage drained from his mind and Manual’s body instantly went limp in the arms of the arresting officer.

Manny did not end up watching any more baseball that Saturday. He spent most of the day in a jail cell downtown. By evening, the California Angeles had lost to the Yankees and Los Angeles was shut out completely in an upset, five to zero, Phillies over Dodgers.

In the somber hours just after midnight, Manual entered his silent abode. After an immeasurable amount of time wasted on interrogation, processing, and even more questioning at the police station, he was finally back in the privacy of his own home. As he prepared to make his nightly rest, he captured a glimpse of himself in the hallway mirror. Manual stared at the reflection of his own face once again. Now it was freshly cleaned and showered. For a brief moment he watched himself in the mirror. Then he looked down at the hands below him. He stared down at them with their bruised knuckles and tiny scrapes. Investigating their intricate shape he recognized their hidden ability. He stared down at them, the hands that nearly took another man’s life. His own hands made of flesh and blood. He could not muster up the strength to look back towards his reflection and into his own eyes. His knees buckled as he slid to the ground. He covered his face and lay there in a fetal position. The clock struck three. Manual wept.

– Davy Perez  © 2007  –