Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I love Thursdays.

Last year, my mom started watching one of the new series on ABC and asked me, "Diana, do you write the scripts for this show???" because the main character remidned her so much of me.

That character?

Betty Suarez.

I don't think my mother was hinting that she thought I was ugly, and after I watched an episode or two of Ugly Betty, I immediately saw our similarities. There are a few obvious ones...we both lost a parent when we were a kid, and have an older sister that people often describe as the "pretty" one. (I'm okay with that! Really! I would much rather be the quirky and weird sibling!) We are both quite clumsy and insecure and rather young and innocent for our age...we both have really crazy memories and have an endless supply of completely useless facts. Above all, I think Betty and I both, almost always, MEAN well, and try to do the right thing, even if the result ends up disasterous.

(Sidenote...a few years ago, I was at Seth's Chatterbox...that's the Inside the Actor's Studio of theatre people...and America Ferrera was sitting across from me. I whispered to my friend, "That's the girl who is going to be in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants !" My friend had NO idea who or what I was talking about. I was working in the children's department of Barnes and Noble at the time, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants film was MAJOR news. I really regret that I didn't say anything to America that day, because I bet if we had, we would be very good friends by now.)

I had a particular Betty experience with my last job. For a full year, I was the little office slave. I did everything people asked of me, always had a smile on my face, and took every demeaning order with said smile on my face!

I started the job on my 24th birthday in 2006. One of my duties was planning office birthday celebrations for my coworkers. I always made sure I got JUST the right cake and card for everybody, even people I didn't know very well or didn't like very much. (Well, you can't love everybody, right?)

Just as my 25th birthday rolled around, I got laid-off.

I am pretty sure they timed it this way just so they wouldn't have to buy me a cake or a card. It was raining the day I lost my job (isn't it always?), and I had tickets to see Les Miserables that night. (That is a VERY bubbly show to go to when you're already depressed.) I wandered up 42nd Street, juggling all the junk from my desk, crying to myself and wondering what on earth would ever become of me.

What would Betty do, I asked myself.

Betty would keep her head-up and make that place ever regret letting her go. Somewhere out there, I told myself, was my Mode magazine and my Daniel Meade who would appreciate me while my last office failed to.

When I started interviewing again (love that whole interviewing and jobhunting process. Love it. Builds character.) I had an interview for a company that shared an office with a modeling agency. I was in the elevator with two models, both about a foot or so taller than me, and I stood between them, never feeling so Betty Suarez in my life.

Two weeks ago, Betty started taking a writing lesson. Now I feel even more a kinship with the fictional Queens girl.

I have realized that I'll never be a 5'10 supermodel, will always be a bit of a spaz, and will probably never really grow the thick skin and the barracuda attitude that seems to be needed to succeed in this city.

However, just like Betty, I am learning to be okay with that.

Diana Rissetto