Saturday, September 24, 2016

Eleventh Inning

It is virtually impossible for me to stay awake till the eleventh inning--often, whether I've worked a whole day or I've got to go in for an overnight day, even making it through the ninth is a challenge. But when you're watching baseball, the outcome often comes down to what happens in the last inning. Fall asleep before that, and you can miss the most exciting part--and misjudge the outcome. 

I can always read about the game, or even watch highlights, the next day. But it's not the same as the edge of my seat, nail biting experience of watching it while it happens and wondering what the result will be.

I suppose that's how life is though. It is always more exciting to be right in the thick of things. It's just impossible to be in the thick of everything all at the same time. So we choose--do we throw ourselves into work, or into our children's latest endeavor? Do we immerse ourselves in what is exciting to our partner, or in our own favorite hobbies? Do we focus on what is, or do we devote our time and attention to what could be?

Each time, there is a choice to be made. There are nights when I bail out well before the ninth inning, so that I can manage an overnight or an early morning. And there are nights when I give up the idea of a good sleep so that I can have that down to the wire experience. And each time, I hope that I am making the right choice for the moment. We can never really know. But I guess that's our challenge--every time we step up to the plate...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

But That's Not How I Do It

My son did a complete backpack overhaul today, consolidating papers and folders and assorted other "who knows what" into a single binder, complete with dividers and labels. The conversion process, complete with the room-wide explosion of numerous pieces of paper and plastic, took what seemed like several hours. I can't say exactly, because I was too busy stressing about his process even to keep track of time. I couldn't help thinking that critical pieces of schoolwork or homework or class rules would get lost in the shuffle, or that he would find himself lost when he tried to find each subject within his giant consolidated location. I guess I should have handled it differently. But part of parenthood, perhaps the hardest part, is backing off and letting your kids do things not your way, but their own. And so it was that several exhausting hours later, he slid his nifty new binder into his bag, and I slid my stressed out old self into bed.

I should know about backing off and letting people do what they do. More times than I can count, a producer has sat in my edit room and questioned my method for everything I did. I know firsthand how debilitating second-guessing can be, and how empowering being given time and space can be. I am far from knowing everything, but I learn the most when I am given the time to figure out, rather than being judged on my process of figuring out. The fact that I do something differently doesn't mean that I do it wrong. Likewise, the fact that my son assembled his binder differently (not the same way I would) didn't make it wrong. It just made it different.

I have high hopes that the hard-fought, and carefully organized, binder will accomplish everything it needs to accomplish. If it doesn't, I will likely spend a few more hours watching my son regroup with a different set of school supplies. And maybe then, I will do a little better with realizing that "how I do it" isn't the only way it can be done.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Normal Life

I wake up before the sun, but that's okay, because I have slept all night. It is the start of a week of daysides, during which the world and I will be on the same schedule. It is confusing, and thrilling. It is exhilarating and wearying. It is the change we all need to shake things up a little. 

I am constantly being told how great it would be if I worked "a normal schedule," so that I might sleep when others slept, dress when others dressed, communicate when others communicated. But what I am realizing, even more on these dayside days than during my overnight days, is that "normal" is really just a word we use to understand on our own terms. The people on the buses at midnight remind me that for many, overnight IS normal. My kids' developing morning skills remind me that at least for now, my working while they sleep IS normal. So, this week, as I face masses of commuters and an early morning wake up, I realize that "normal" is just a way to differentiate what happens in our lives. Perhaps this week is normal. Or perhaps it is the least normal part of my life, simply a diversion to help wake me up. Either way, my job is to adjust to it. Either way, my sense of balance depends on believing it is normal. And I suppose that is what "normal" really means--that which we can manage to balance, when everything else shifts.

Is this a normal week? Perhaps in your world, but not as much in mine. Because normal is as much about how you catch life as it is about what life happens to throw at you. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Good Landing

I recently heard the line on a cartoon "Any landing you walk away from is a good landing." Now, I have to admit, some of my favorite life lessons over the years have been from cartoons, so this was not so surprising to me. But in the moment I heard it, it rang remarkably true, and relevant to any number of things I have experienced in my life...

Being fired from One Life to Live may have felt like a crash landing, but I walked away and landed on a sitcom that taught me a ton and generated opportunities, not to mention connections and friendships I have to this day.

Handling my children's rejections from assorted kindergartens certainly felt like a bumpy ride at the time, but I, and they, walked away, and into good kindergartens, good high schools, and good colleges.

The end of the New York soaps felt like a slow, agonizing descent, but I walked away with good memories, a reasonable nest egg, and the freedom to explore new adventures.

Unemployment felt like circling forever and often landing at the wrong airports, but I walked away, more than once, and found my way out of wherever I was and to wherever I needed to be.

Not being asked felt like the crashing and burning of my professional reputation, but I walked away with my reputation, and my skill set, not just intact, but broader.

In among the smooth rides are more crash landings than we'd ever want to experience on a plane. But more often than not, we don't just walk away, we run, and jump, and soar--which sounds like a pretty good landing to me.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week End

It used to be that weekends were all ours. Between weekday work, and kids who were young enough that we could plan their schedules for them, we could pretty much choose how the weekends would go.

But times change, and these days, our weekends are a constant negotiation. Will we be working? Will one or more of our kids have a school project or a weekend class? Will we all agree on how to spend our down time?

And so it happens that the weekends become just an extension of the week, rather than a break from it. But this weekend, times and commitments (or lack of commitments) converged, and we accomplished an actual weekend--a real break from the mundane week. Was it an earthshattering adventure? Not really. It was simply a little time out of time, a chance to escape from one week and regroup for the next, an opportunity to be away and together. Such a weekend may not happen again for a long time--it is not often that all the necessary factors converge. But this weekend, we enjoyed a much-needed break. This weekend, we enjoyed each other. This weekend, we were reminded, just a little, what a weekend can do. And perhaps now, we are a little more equipped to start a new week.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Playing Catch Up

By the end of my time on the soaps, we were taking off whole weeks on a regular basis, as it was a huge money saving measure. We shot numerous extra scenes daily to make this work, but each time we returned from a dark week, there was some feeling of playing catch up--of getting back to that comfortable number of weeks ahead, and of getting back into the swing of many-item days.

These days, my life, whether punctuated by down time or not, feels like a game of catch up. I try to keep myself in the loop of my kids' schoolwork, but there always seems to be a subject or a test that falls through the cracks. I am (knock wood) working and generating income, but much of the time, unexpected expenses eat that up before I know it. I carve out the time to do, to help, to write, but sometimes, there are just not enough hours.

Playing catch up is frustrating. It undermines our feelings of control and accomplishment, and it makes us feel less than ready for situations we face. And yet, just as it was in soaps, we manage to right ourselves and move on. It may take a few extra steps, but we get back to where we need to be. And maybe somewhere in there, playing catch up motivates us to work ahead when we are able.

Playing catch up doesn't feel good. I would rather be on schedule and on top of things every day. But when I play the catch up game, I learn a few more of the rules of getting ahead. When I play the catch up game, I get to roll the dice for my next big chance. So maybe catch up is not so bad at all. Because as long as we're willing to play the game, we might actually come out winners.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pushing Through

I still remember the words of one of my earliest producers--"you're out for the week." I had coughed my way through early morning rehearsal, and probably looked terrible. As has continued to be my M.O., I was intending to work right through what that time turned out to be bronchitis. I argued with her--it wasn't that bad, I said. But she held firm, and for a week, I padded around my apartment. It was one of a very few times when I gave in and missed work. And if she hadn't forced the issue, I have a feeling I would have kept barreling (and coughing) right through.

And so it is that the week's whole Hillary Clinton pneumonia uproar has really struck a chord with me. I, too, still go to work, even when I am coughing. I, too, still do the necessary errands and pickups, even when a fall or a strain has pummeled me. I, too, say "yes," even when it might be a whole lot easier to say "no."

Am I right? Who knows? All I know is that that is the way I roll, and, I would venture to say, how many of the people I know roll too. Obstacles are obstacles, not complete roadblocks. Challenges are challenges, not invitations to failure. Life goes on, and if we don't push through to go on with it, we miss things. And I for one would rather not miss anything.

So I push through, as often as I can, and I can't help but understand, and respect, the people who do the same. There will be times when I have to accept "you're out for the week." In the meantime, you will find me, very much "in" for the week, pushing through.