Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Lost On Jeopardy!...No, Seriously, I Did

One of the obvious drawbacks to my freelance existence is that I don't always check the calendar to see what the date is. This can create myriad issues--from allowing deadlines to creep dangerously close, all the way to letting anniversaries and special days pass by unnoticed.

And when I looked at my BlackBerry and noticed that today was the 19th of January I realized that it has been about a year since my taped episode of Jeopardy! was on television. I was home in Minnesota when it aired so I was able to watch with my parents which was exciting. The entire odyssey had started on a whim with an online test I took the day after I was laid off--literally. From there I went to a casting session in Boston in May and then Jeopardy! called in October of 2008 and invited me to LA for a taping in November of 2008. And by the way, there's no preparing you for how you'll look on television, or how annoying your little nervous habits can be--putting your hair behind your ear or pushing up your glasses--over the course of 22 or 23 stressful minutes. VERY stressful minutes.

Everyone at home who yells out answers to Jeopardy! questions from their davenports knows that some days the category gods are with you and other days they are just plain cruel. In the days leading up to my flying to LA to tape the show I was practicing, as they suggest you do, with a clicky ball-point pen and answering questions along with the TV show. (Yeah, that's how I roll...MANY nights spent in front of the TV watching Jeopardy!, religious devotion to the NYT and WSJ crosswords, and friends emailing pop-quizzes.) More often than not there were categories I liked and felt confident about--and that should have been the first clue, the first little pebble from the universe that things might not go my way. (Come on, I'm Catholic, Scandinavian, German and Irish, what in that mix prepares you to think positively?!) In the theatre a rotten dress-rehearsal means a good opening night...and in Jeopardy! (in my experience, at any rate) good practice sessions did not mean a good show performance.

During those "practice games" at home, though, there was SO much possibility. Maybe I'd become a long running Jeopardy! champion a la Ken Jennings (okay, that was NEVER a serious possibility, but it was a fun fantasy to entertain) or I'd win enough money to buy part of a racehorse or the world's largest collection of Hermes scarves, custom riding boots, and Barbour jackets. Maybe I'd win enough to buy an old ChrisCraft or Garwood run-a-bout (think the Thayer IV boat in On Golden Pond.) And if I had won oodles and scads of money, I'd have started my own publishing company--one comprised of all the great and talented friends who had been laid off with me--and we'd bring together our favorite authors to have fun and do great work. All fun and frivolous things to contemplate, all still fantastically possible.

I think it was that pie-in-the-sky level of possibility, the realization of what today was, that got me thinking. How easy it was to see possibility then and how much harder it is today--with the incredible devastation of Haiti and the disappointing election in Massachusetts, possibilities are more difficult to focus on.

And that's the trick, I suppose. To find a way to see beyond the fog of disappointment and sadness to the myriad options, choices, and opportunities waiting off in the distance. I know all the possibilities are still there, even if I can't reach out and touch them at the moment, or even see them through the muddiness of my brain today. The extravagant monetary windfall surely didn't materialize, but the possibilities of those dreams--both silly and serious--live on as things to strive for, opportunities to continue to work for, Quixotic quests worth embarking upon.

Oh...so how DID my Jeopardy! day go? Well, not as well as I'd have liked--it was the first time the returning champion was too sick to return for the next game so I went on in her stead. It was all a bit frazzled and last minute, but it was great fun. The categories were not really up my alley and I never did really get the hang of the buzzer. I did, however, correctly answer a Daily Double and I did very well in the Potent Potables category (no shock there) and in a word category and I answered Final Jeopardy correctly. And happily, the young man who did win my game went on to win several more games, deservedly so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bravo! for the Jeapardy showing!