Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Day Before The Day Of

It is hard to get around, whether you work in news or not, the fact that today was the last day our current president inhabits the White House and the day before our next is inaugurated. It was hard not to have the feeling of dread or anticipation or whatever pieces of the "day before" feeling you might have. Obviously, this is a highly significant "day before." And yet, it is also a "day before" the way so many others are. You see, on the day, whatever that day is, we forge ahead--happily or not, resigned or angry, but moving ahead. But on the day before, we cannot yet "forge ahead." We simply have to wait until the day, with that queasy feeling of not knowing and not seeing and not being able to do anything about what will happen because it hasn't happened yet. So, while many of the "days of," this one quite included, might be horrible, the days before the days of might actually be worse. On the day of, we can see a little better and possibly plan to do a little more. On the day of, the time for nervous anticipation gives way to the time for determined action. On the day of, we stop standing paralyzed and attempt to move forward.

I can't yet say how I will feel on the day of. But I can say I will be glad when the day before the day of is behind us all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Battles We Fight

As I battle through the effects and needs of a head cold (or whatever I am calling it today), I can't help reflect upon the battles that I--and all of us--fight every day. I'm not even talking about the biggies, really--as I am lucky to have little firsthand knowledge of war or serious illness, I wouldn't presume to discuss those. The battles to which I refer are the smaller ones--the day to day struggles that consume us, and that direct our choices about where and how we will use our precious time and energy.

Some days, the battle is for our time--how do we strategize to be able to accomplish everything that we need and want to do?

Other days, we battle to make sure our kids are succeeding, whether by checking their homework, talking to their teachers, or simply harassing (I mean, encouraging) them to focus on the tasks at hand.

Some days, our battle is for our weight and fitness. We set up resistance against the cookies and try to march firmly toward the gym.

Other days, at least for me, the battle is staying awake through an overnight shift and awake enough (but not too much) during the day that follows.

Some days, we battle to hold on to what it is we said we wanted.

And other days, we battle to hold on to what we have.

And some days, we try to fight all of these battles at once.

And then a head cold (or whatever we are calling it today) happens, and we realize that certain battles can wait while others are fought...

Monday, January 16, 2017

On Occasion

I spent my childhood celebrating occasions--birthdays, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs, graduations. This tradition carried into my time at ABC--in my first weeks there, we ate cake in honor of someone at least once a week. It's fun to recognize a person's occasion and enjoy a sweet treat in the process. 

As I have made my way through life, occasions have certainly not gone away. I still organize kid birthdays and celebrations commemorating other events. But what I have discovered along the way is that our regular days can be just as festive--and important--as our occasions. Once upon a time, I planned way ahead for s special meal out on a special day. These days, some of our best outings are spur of the moment, with no planning at all. Once upon a time, I stressed myself out making sure cards and gifts and arrangements were all set for the "big day," whatever that "big day" was. These days, I see that sometimes life gets between us and the "big day." And a lot of the time, a celebration deferred, rather than shoe-horned in where there's no room, is the best celebration of all.

I have not lost the value of commemorating the events that are important in our lives. I have simply recognized that the commemoration can sometimes be separate from the occasion, and that the occasion is sometimes less important than the feelings that go along with it.

So now, I celebrate feelings, not just occasions. And I try to remember to find new occasions in the everyday. Because you never really know when an ordinary day will become am occasion.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Road Not (Usually) Taken

I have walked when a cab would have been more comfortable.

I have worked when sleeping would have felt better.

I have cooked when take-out would have been simpler.

I have chosen the harder answers when all I wanted were some easy ones.

I have arrived earlier and stayed later when I might have chosen to watch the clock.

And then, one day, I took a car, and made a food-ordering call, and slept as many extra minutes as I could. Because sometimes, we're allowed to put aside the days when we had not enough money or not enough time, not enough freedom, not enough voice, not enough luck.

Sometimes it's okay to take the road not usually taken...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What's Up In The World?

You would think I would know what is up in the world. After all, I am working in news, bombarded by the latest presidential updates, international conspiracies, and weather emergencies. I am informed, up to date, aware. Right?

This week, I had the privilege of attending Prix Jeunesse Suitcase, an encapsulated version of the international children's film festival that brings together children's content from all over the world. In the several hours I was there, I saw documentaries of child refugees building lives, with or without their families, in storage containers and tents and public parks. I saw stories that made clear that not all schools in the world operate the same way as U.S. schools. I saw despair and hope and new ways to think about childhood and about the world. And very little of this was anything that I had seen in my work in news.

At the event, I also spoke with various children's media professionals I had met when way back when I had more time to attend events regularly. Even just brief conversations made it clear that my place in the world is quite different than it once was. Once, I connected. I could see a particular future. I fit. But this time, the fit was gone. I had clearly walked so far away that it might take many days, even months, to return. 

What's up in the world? Clearly, a lot more than I am seeing each day. The people I once knew have moved on, and, I suppose, so have I. But my time at Prix Jeunesse Suitcase allowed me to see, in more ways than one, the importance of looking at "what's up in the world" from a vantage point other than our own window or the computer screen in front of us. The films reminded me how many stories are waiting to be told, and that someday, perhaps I will tell one of them. And the people reminded me that, while I may not be who I once was, I am not just the person that I am today, and that I could be someone else tomorrow if I so chose.

What's up in the world? If we look around us, rather than just straight ahead, it may be a lot more than we realize.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Domestic Goddess

By day's end, I have created Swedish meatballs, new potatoes, Brussels sprouts, eggplant Parmesan for one child's lunches and pasta for another's, and maybe-they're-healthy date-nut brownies. If I can't even believe it myself, I have the dirty dishes to prove it. It occurs to me that the people who create these recipes have whole staffs to clean up after them.

It is, to be sure, a domestic goddess kind of a day, the only real problem (aside from the dirty dishes, because who wants those?) being that the domestic goddess day is followed by a "bring home the bacon" overnight shift of work. 

I am often touting the advantages of working overnight--it affords me daytime hours for human being appointments and involvement with my children. But like all advantages, these are advantages with risk. Without a great deal of sleep vigilance, those daytime hours are readily consumed with daytime activities. If I am at home, it is hard not to feel that I am, well, at home, and therefore available for a certain amount of domestic responsibility. Once day breaks and I have made it through another night, the new day presents all sorts of missions to be accomplished. And in the light of day, memories of the fuzziness of the night before and thoughts of the night to come are about as reliable as the "always hotter than necessary" flame on my stove.

Thankfully, overnight work or not, home during the day or not, I don't have the desire to be a domestic goddess all of the time. Even if I were to survive, I don't know that my kitchen would. So, I work, and I manage. And I remind myself that one person doesn't have to use all twenty-four hours in every day. And that it is possible to work a few of the goddess qualities without committing to being a full-time domestic goddess. It's time for a little take-out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

But What Does It MEAN?

My son is obsessed with how arcade games work. Does that mean he will be an engineer?

My daughters are walking Broadway encyclopedias. Does that mean I will someday see them on the Great White Way or with bylines in the Arts section?

I got extra work hours today. Does that mean I did something particularly good last week?

If I walk in one direction, does that mean that is the path I will follow forever?

There was a time when I was at One Life to Live--a long time, actually--when I let everything mean something. Getting directing assignments meant I had done something right, being left off the directing schedule meant I was on the outs. Not being chosen to edit a piece meant I was a bad editor...you get the idea. But the truth was, and is, things don't always mean what you think they do. Sometimes, how you are treated has more to do with how someone slept last night or what someone ate for lunch than with anything about your performance. Sometimes, the path you take is just a path, not a highway to your future. 

There's nothing so wrong with looking for meaning--we want the things we do to feel important, to tell us something, to give us clarity. But when we allow--or expect--events or results to mean too much, we keep ourselves from exploring the options and taking the chances that might be meaningful to us down the line.

What does it mean? Sometimes, we don't know, can't know, won't know. So, we search. And then we just keep doing...