Friday, October 21, 2016

It Never Gets Easier

It never gets easier to say "no" to family in favor of a gig.

It never gets easier to say "no" to a gig in favor of family.

It never gets easier to schedule life in the face of, well, life.

It never gets easier to accept rejection.

It never gets easier to trumpet success.

It never gets easier to choose celery over chocolate.

It never gets easier to choose working out over sleeping in.

It never gets easier to get dinner on the table at the end of a long day.

It never gets easier to agree on what the dinner on the table should be at the end of a long day.

It never gets easier to ensure that all items can be seen in a refrigerator that's not flat.

It never gets easier to eat all the leafy greens before they disappear to the back of the fridge to die.

It never gets easier to dig past the leftover cheesecake to find the fresh fruit.

It never gets easier to make the right choices, when the wrong ones are so available.

It never gets easier to accept the results of your choices, when little decisions can create such big consequences.

We may get smarter, and stronger, and braver, and wiser. But still, sometimes, it feels as though "it," whatever "it" is, never gets easier...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What Goes Around...

For most of the time I worked in soaps, I was part of a rotation. As a PA, as an AD, and as an Editor, I worked as part of a team, alternating where I'd be, and what hours I'd work, on any given day. I worked with people who arranged their lives months in advance to conform to the rotation, and were intent upon keeping it regular. As for me, I never much cared whether the rotation was altered. As long as I could manage a handful of personal events, I never minded doing multiple long days in a row. And if rearranging my schedule would allow me to work with a director I particularly liked or on an episode I wanted to be a part of, all the better.

Fast forward all these years, and I am still living the irregular life. I am part of a different kind of rotation, and my days and hours of work change from week to week (and sometimes from day to day). I wonder, is it that same ability to handle, even embrace, irregularity that has allowed me to survive what have been up and down years since my soap life? While I give up a planned life, does the irregular rotation of things keep me present and on my toes--almost like a scheduling version of crossword or sudoku?

For now, I know that just when I think I am following the rotation, it will change. But after so many years, I guess I'm used to it. I suppose, in an odd sort of way, what goes around just keeps going around...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Just Because

I had a largely "because that's how it is" childhood. It's not that I didn't get to do what I wanted, or that I didn't ever speak up. But there were certain things that were non-negotiable--not up for discussion, just part of how life was going to be. Perhaps I was just a malleable, accepting kid. Or perhaps there really was something fundamentally different between my childhood and the one I am giving my children.

From the time my kids were toddlers, I have joked that "we teach them to speak up, and then, by golly, they do." There is little in our household that is not a topic for discussion. Often to the point of exhaustion, I must be prepared to hash out almost every decision. "Why are we doing that?" "Do we have to?" "Can it wait a few minutes?" Clearly, I have done my job teaching my kids to speak up. The question is, how well do I do my job when they do?

Often--perhaps more often than I'd like--I fall back on the "because that's the way it is" explanation, which I would like to be enough.  Sometimes, it is. And sometimes, those things that are done "because that's the way it is" turn out to be good things. Sometimes, they expose a kid (and a parent) to experiences we might not have chosen, and sometimes, they open new doors we couldn't even see.

When I allow for conversation, however, when I open the "just because" up to include "why," I sometimes discover that my argument, as well as my own understanding of why, become stronger. I may want "just because" to be enough, but reasons, logical or not, why I care can be the most compelling arguments of all.

I wish sometimes that I never had to explain, that "just because" would be enough. But I taught my kids to speak up, and by golly, they do. So, they question, and I explain. And they argue, and I learn. And along the way, "just because" becomes a little deeper for us all.

Why, you might wonder, do I let them do this? Because, just because, what we question today may end up being the very thing we learn to embrace tomorrow.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I Will Never

I will never be a size 2, but I will never give up hope of someday wearing skinny boots.

I will never be one of those people who seems to be everywhere, when nobody can possibly have the time to be everywhere, but I will be there for as many people and adventures as I can.

I will never be young again, but I will keep trying to feel young, no matter how old I am.

I will never be a movie star, or a bestselling author, or a concert clarinetist, but that's okay, because I never really expected to be any of those things.

I will never be comfortable taking cabs too much or taking trains too late, but I will not stop moving.

I will never get used to overcrowded subways and overdark sidewalks and overcooked eggs, but I will manage them all if that's what I have to do.

I will never forget, even if I don't quite remember, where I've been and how I got to where I am.

Perhaps we should "never say never." On the other hand, perhaps a little acceptance of "never" is just what we need to get to "someday."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Through College-Colored Glasses

When your kids live at home, you may see glimpses of yourself as a child of their age. But I am discovering that it is college that really brings the memories flooding back...

Through college-colored glasses, it really is possible to change the world.

Through college-colored glasses, each home meal is a big deal--because it is familiar, and not on a tray, and, well, part of home.

Through college-colored glasses, the people of home fill a very particular place in your heart, even if you now see them only for moments at a time.

Through college-colored glasses, the days are built of class schedules and good times to take a shower and dining hall hours.

Through college-colored glasses, there are countless hours, and countless new ways to fill them--and times when they just feel countless.

Through college-colored glasses, independence is both a blessing and a curse.

Through college-colored glasses, sometimes the world looks rosy, but sometimes it looks gray.

Through college-colored glasses, the future suddenly seems close--and yet, very far away.

Through college-colored glasses, you are 18 going on forever.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all have just a little more time looking through college-colored glasses...?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Sync Lock

Among the challenges of video editing is ensuring that the video and audio stay in sync. Whether the two begin as separate pieces or together, they can easily become separated in the editing process, so that before you know it, your characters look as though they are part of a badly dubbed foreign film. You can be the fanciest, most talented editor in the world, but if your product is out of sync, no amount of fancy or talented will matter.

Thankfully, there are tools in most editing software to help you maintain sync. So, as long as you use these tools, you will likely be fine.

Sync in life, while perhaps not as potentially jarring as sync in video, is just as important. When our lives are out of sync with our own beliefs and expectations or out of sync with other people's lives, the result can be disorientation--as if we too are living in that badly dubbed foreign film. The beauty may be there, but we can't see it because we are too busy looking at oddly speaking mouths. The truth may be there in our words, but when those words are out of sync, they become hard to understand.

It is not always easy to feel in sync when your path doesn't run the same way as everyone else's--when your work time is others' sleep time, when your focus is in completely different areas than other people's. But just as editing software provides tools to "lock sync," we have tools at our fingertips to hold on to sync in our lives. We can listen--both to our own needs and to those of the people in our lives--and find the common ground between them. We can speak up--so that we can hear the sync breaks and correct them. And we can stay vigilant, so that a loss of sync doesn't get worse as our story goes on.

As any editor knows, keeping the elements in sync is a crucial part of telling a good story. When we take our life sync just as seriously, we too can maintain a good story--not to mention the clear head we need to live that story.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


So, I go to this concert where the composer is a genius, and the music is fantastic, and the singers have voices that come from I don't know where. And I walk out thinking "wow." But I can't help but follow "wow" with "I'm a hack." Because while the composer is stringing together intricate music and lyrics, and the singers are tuning their magnificent voices, I am buying groceries and working to make sure there is money in the bank, and imploring, cajoling, and yelling at children to get enough sleep. At the end of their days, they have a song or a video to show for their efforts. At the end of my day, I have still awake children, a still edgy bank account, and a body that just wants to fall into bed. 

The reality, I suppose, is that if "hack" is defined as I am using it here, a great many of us are hacks. I am, by no means, the only one out here just trying to make things work, with not a lot of time for genius and beauty. And yet, the world works because people like me are just out there doing what we do. Children make their way, stores sell what people need, mail gets delivered, clothes are cleaned, all because people like me do their part each day. Is it fantastic to hear good music or watch good theater or read a book that moves you? Of course. So, I am grateful for the artists and the geniuses who do what I can't do. But when I think about it, I am also grateful for the bank teller who takes my check and the doorman who welcomes me home and the corner fruit man who makes it easy to have a steady supply of bananas. Perhaps we are all hacks, but perhaps we add just a little bit of our own genius and art--in what we do every day, or in then moments when what we do makes a difference in someone's life.

I may always have that feeling, when I see or hear something great, that I could be doing more with my life. In the meantime, I will just keep getting my kids to bed, and getting dinner on the table, and making little differences in little ways, like the fruit seller and the bank teller, and the doorman. And maybe that's not being a hack--maybe that's just living life.