Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Where Working Meets Middle School

It's hard to be a grownup, isn't it? A working grownup, especially, whether the working is at home or caring for kids or at a workplace or simply looking for work.

I have begun to realize, however, that being a grown up working person is not that different from being in middle school...

1. No matter where you're working, and what kind of work you're doing, you almost always have to please multiple people at the same time. Kind of like the English teacher and the math teacher and the science teacher, each of whom expects that you can spend your whole evening doing homework for his or her class.

2. The people you talk to matter. When you're a grownup, you call it networking, but it's really not so different from thinking about who you're gonna sit with at lunch.

3. The amount of money you have in your pocket can really affect your outlook . Sure, for a grownup, it's about paying the bills and for a middle schooler, just about getting a snack with the group, but either way, it matters.

4. People can say harsh, even mean, things. Do your best, and develop a thick skin, and you will hold up better for the long haul.

5. Sometimes, the travel back and forth is the hardest part.

6. Social media may help you stay in the loop, but only as long as you don't let it take over your life.

7. In both work and middle school (well, at least middle school in NYC), getting in seems like the hardest part. It's not easy, but it's just the first step--and hopefully, it gets better from there.

8. That feeling of wanting (needing?) to be the best, the fastest, the funniest, the most liked doesn't go away, does it?

9. Middle school is temporary. Turns out, many times, so is work. In either case, if you've loved it, you can walk away with good memories. And if you haven't, well, it's not forever.

Think you're far beyond middle school? Think again. It's middle school, all day, every day. Hopefully just with a little more experience helping you to handle it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Open Mind, Insert ______

In the last few years, I have had more new experiences than I can count. In addition to parenting (which, I suppose, is a new experience every day), I have ended up in a variety of work (and not working) situations, each of which has come with its own set of rules and challenges. How is it that you take what you know and adapt it to handle what you don't know? How do you take what's old and adapt it to something new?

What I am learning each day is that an open mind is the best thing I can take into any new situation. I used to think that I had to have a font of knowledge. Perhaps, to a certain extent, that is true. The knowledge from previous experiences can certainly help with the new ones. But rely too much on the old, and you are likely not to adapt to the new. Keep looking for what you knew somewhere else, and you are likely to miss seeing what is in front of you.

What I am learning, perhaps slowly, is that one of the best tools in my bag of tricks is an open mind--open enough to try something new, open enough to support the people who are new, open enough to see what might work and what can change. It's not about throwing away what came before. It's about really seeing--and working with--what is coming now.

With an open mind, just about anything is possible, and as far as I can tell, that's a pretty good way to think in a freelance world. So if you're filling in that blank, perhaps it's "Open mind, insert possibilities." Yep. That works. Until it's time to open your mind again and try something else.

Monday, December 15, 2014

All The Difference

There are days when I know first thing in the morning exactly what to write. And there are days when it takes until the very end of the day to have any idea. Today, it took until the very end of the day to realize that what was most blogworthy was what had happened first thing in the morning.

It was a productive day, full of working at home and cleaning (both the short-term and the long-term kind). It was a day of finding things (cleaning will frequently do that for you) and discovering things (when you work without the presence of tech support, you learn to troubleshoot yourself). It was a day when I could say, and see, that I had done a lot of things. But when it came to writing, I wondered what all--or any--of that meant.

And then, I thought about what had started my day (well, not quite started, as I began working quite early, but you get the idea). In the midst of the working and the cleaning and the "oh, my gosh, how will I get it all done," I met a friend for coffee. And, in the words of Robert Frost, "that has made all the difference."

Now, you could argue that it was the jolt of caffeine that gave me the spring in my step and the energy to accomplish the work and the cleaning. I'm sure that the caffeine didn't hurt. But what really carried me through was the having met in the first place. In the scheme of a busy weekend, it would have been very easy to say "another time." In the midst of so much to do, it would have been logical not to go out at all. Yet, in defying ease and logic, I invited support and understanding and laughter. In spending an hour drinking coffee, I infused my day with the feeling of being accepted--no matter what I accomplished, thought about--even when so many days leave no time for thinking, and important--even when what I do doesn't always seem important. The "all the difference" was not about a hearty dose of caffeine. It was about the dose of friendship that we all would do well to take each day.

I would venture to say that I accomplished more today than I would have, had I not taken the hour for coffee and the chance to see a friend. Sometimes the road you take in the morning makes all the difference...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It Seems Wrong...

...that children who stay up later than they should and sleep less than they ought to still have enough energy to talk their tired parents into just about anything.

...that takeout meals happen more during the week, because you're busy, than on the weekends, when you're relaxing.

...that all the things you never learned haunt you and many of the things you did learn escape you.

...that having a person come to clean your house requires getting your house clean enough to be cleaned by someone who doesn't live in it.

...that when you're working, you have the money, but when you're not working, you have the time.

...that it takes more time to clean up from the home-cooked gourmet meal than you spent eating the home-cooked gourmet meal.

...that you're so busy seeing to it that your kids have opportunities that you sometimes forget to take the opportunity to see your kids.

...that the only way you seem to be able to accomplish enough on the weekends is to get up as early as you do on the weekdays.

...that in order to get rid of the dust that's making you sneeze, you have to get eye to eye (and nose to nose) with the the dust that's making you sneeze.

...that working faster doesn't necessarily give you more time to play.

...that there aren't a few more Saturdays in the week.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"But You've Only Done..."

Over the last few years, I have joked many times about the difficulty of moving from one genre of TV to another. It's often as if potential employers are saying "You've only ever done 22 minute shows, and here we do 23 minute shows. How could you possibly understand what we do?"

Clearly, this is an exaggeration, but while no one has actually said those exact words, the attitude is out there, making it hard to transition between genres. There have, I'll admit, been moments when I realized that certain production models really wouldn't match up with my skill set. But there have also been many times when I could see the same patterns across multiple genres--where clearly, "someone used to 22 minute shows" could perfectly well deal with "23 minute ones." And my recent weekly travels between news editing and sitcom audience switching (how much more different could those genres be?) have provided some great examples of that...

Does making sure the news stories are edited in time for the broadcast really require so different a skill set than making sure cameras have their shots in time for the action of the scene?

Does making sure you have the pieces you need to edit the story properly really require so different a skill set than communicating constantly with audio, video, and post to make sure you have the pieces for the shooting of a show?

Does looking for ways to generate edited news clips faster really require so different a skill set than looking for ways to make studio production more efficient?

Does choosing the most compelling shots to show assorted world chaos really require so different a skill set than choosing the shot that will best show the the star's entrance, the stunt, or the joke?

There have been times when I have realized that perhaps I can't make every possible leap between productions, but thanks to some lucky opportunities, I have also realized first-hand that the so-called "23 minute shows" have a a lot more in common than their "22 minute" counterparts than one might think. The bridges in between are there. Perhaps someday, it won't be only the lucky opportunity that allows us to cross them.

Friday, December 12, 2014

In and Out of Sync

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What You Find...Sometimes

Sometimes, celebration is found in the small moments, just as much as in the big events.

Sometimes, happiness is found in the effort made, just as much as in the result accomplished.

Sometimes, peace is found in the cacophony of togetherness, just as much as in the quiet of solitude.

Sometimes, learning is found in the day to day interactions, just as much as in the scheduled courses.

Sometimes, friendship is found in the little emails, just as much as in the well-planned get-togethers.

Sometimes, warmth is found in a real hug, just as much as in a giant parka.

Sometimes, appreciation is found in the on the run "thank-yous," just as much as in the cards and the pronouncements.

Sometimes, love is found in the little words and deeds, just as much as in the grand gestures.

Sometimes, what we're looking for can be found in the places we wouldn't expect, so it's important to keep our eyes open. All the time. For the big things, and the small.