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How My DVR Ruined My Life

As I’ve written before, I rely heavily on my DVR. I can’t watch two shows at once, nor can I sit in front of the television all day and catch everything I want to see, so it comes in handy. But sometimes, it can also let you down.

This is as much a story about my DVR as it is about my hopes and dreams (wow, way to sound dramatic). Writing this felt like a therapy session, so if you read all the way through, I’ll send you my co-pay. 

Last year, I interned at a major entertainment magazine in New York City. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had, from working with awesome writers to interviewing people I admired (like Ann M. Martin – my inner nine-year-old passed out) to seeing pieces I wrote for the website get picked up by other major outlets. I have always dreamed about working for a magazine, and while I worked for a newspaper for two years after graduating from college in 2006, it just wasn’t the same experience.

One day about halfway through my time at the magazine, I was sitting at my desk, typing away, when my cell phone rang. It was my mother. She knew not to call me between the hours of 9 and 6, so I picked up, figuring it was important. It was.

“You’re on TV!” she said.

“Huh?” I uttered cleverly.

“You’re on TV! You’re on MSNBC! The story you wrote!”

It turns out that my father had taken the day off and was watching MSNBC when Tamron Hall started talking about Hello Kitty wines. The segment was based on a story that I wrote for the magazine’s website about those wines, and she said my name multiple times. There was even a pull quote, with my name in big letters. I may be 26, but I still love Hello Kitty, although I’m not as obsessed as I was when I was six and it took my mother hours to drag me out of the Sanrio store. This was phenomenal.

The next few minutes were downright hilarious. I had my dad rewind the segment and blast the volume, because I was dying to hear my name. I couldn’t really hear anything, but that didn’t stop him from rewinding it about 9,804 times. They knew they had to record it, both for my sake and theirs, but my parents, bless their hearts, are not the most savvy when it comes to technology. For whatever reason they couldn’t find the red record button on the remote. Luckily, my brother-in-law came over and pushed it, thus saving the day.

I was ecstatic the rest of the day. I had been on TV! I was the authority on Hello Kitty wines! The world was mine for the taking!

Needless to say, the three-minute segment didn’t turn into me becoming editor of the New York Times or co-host of the Today show, but it was still awesome. Sadly, my time at the magazine came to an end a few months later, without a full time gig. I worked as hard as I could, and I was appreciated, but there were no jobs. It hurts being told that you’re one of the best interns they’ve had in a very long time, but there aren’t any openings, and who knows when there will be one. I knew it was most likely going to happen that way, but it stung.

I still had my Hello Kitty brush with fame, though. When I went back home, I watched it and smiled. I felt like I had made it. I thought about recording it with my digital camera, just in case something happened, or taking a photo of the screen frozen with my name on it. But, I didn’t. And now I regret it, because it’s gone.

I don’t know how it got erased, but it did. I made sure to select the setting where the only way it could get deleted is if someone manually deleted it. And who would do that? Everyone on Earth (or, at least, my family and friends) knew how important this was to me.

Like most people looking for a full time job in a market where there are zero jobs, it can get frustrating. 99 percent of the time, I am OK. I am so thankful for the regular contracts I have with magazines and newspapers in my area, and I am proud of myself for being reliable and getting extra stories thrown at me from my editors. But I still have bad days where I think, “What if?” What if I’d stayed in New York City; would I have been able to at least freelance write for the magazine still? Would I have a job at another publication? Am I ever going to get on somewhere full time?

So, on those bad days, when it was hard to remind myself how much I have to be grateful for, I would watch that clip. It showed me what I was capable of: capturing a story that someone thought was interesting enough to be shared. Was it curing cancer? No. Did it help a family who lost their home? No way. But it might have entertained someone in the hospital or waiting for relief in a shelter. It was OK to write something purely for entertainment’s sake.

On one of those days, I turned on the TV, and it was gone. I scrolled up and down the menu at least ten times, but it never appeared.

I cried. I cried hard. I cried because I wasn’t at the magazine anymore, because I had been replaced, because with every day that went by, it seemed like I was moving further and further away and new people were starting and I was never going to get back in. At least the segment proved that I had done something awesome. Without my video, I felt utterly defeated.

I don’t know who deleted it. My parents can barely turn the TV on, so I know it couldn’t have been them. My sisters, niece, nephew, brother-in-law, and anyone else who comes over regularly would have no reason to use the DVR. I know that whoever it was didn’t do it on purpose, and perhaps it was some weird Verizon FIOS glitch. But still, I was inconsolable for the rest of the day.

It’s been a few months since Catherine’s Massive Mental Breakdown. I sent an email to MSNBC asking if they could send me a copy of the segment (I would think they keep everything on file, because of potential lawsuits or something). So far, no response. I’m going to call, too. I haven’t really had any down in the dumps days lately, because I’ve been extremely busy with assignments, which I am so, so, SO grateful for. I’ve been approached out of the blue with two job offers, which haven’t worked out due to me not being able to move back to NYC at the moment, but it’s still an ego boost to have people reach out to you. I’ve also talked with one of the connections I made at the magazine, and he told me a lot of stuff about work and jobs and myself that I already knew and had been told by others, but it really resonated when it came from him; for some reason, I had to hear it from him for it to click. It just works that way sometimes.

I know that I was extremely fortunate to get the opportunity, and I look back on it fondly. No one knows where they’ll be in five months, five days, five minutes from now, so I remind myself that I could have the perfect job any day. The day I graduated from grad school in 2009, I didn’t know that six months later I’d be at the magazine. I know something awesome is in the works, but I’ve never been patient, and I highly doubt it’s a virtue that I’m going to get overnight.

The moral of this long story can be summed up pretty quickly: Don’t trust your DVR. Don’t trust other people near your DVR. Don’t give up your dreams. Be grateful for what you have. Oh, and try Hello Kitty wines!

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

4 replies on “How My DVR Ruined My Life”

That’s awful. Even more awful is now you have me paranoid that my brief brush of fame when I was on Anderw Zimmern’s Valentines special shaking my head when my friend suggested bacon as an erotic food. My parents have it on DVR but I haven’t checked recently to make sure it’s still there!

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