Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Front Row From The Back Row

In my current job, I spend a fair amount of time in a place called "The Back Row." Unlike the back row in a soap control room, this "back row" is not full of producers and network executives. It is the home of technicians and tech supervisors who edit news feeds and send clips to the network server. It is apparently a standard newsroom term, but as I have not spent most of my life in a newsroom, it is one that is new to me.

What's interesting for me about the "back row" is that, while it may not be in the front, it still provides me with a view of news that I wouldn't ordinarily get. Because I sit in the "back row," I see and hear news feeds about primaries and debates and natural disasters that might barely be on my radar in my regular life. Because I sit in the "back row," I watch clips and packages put on the server by stations all over the country, giving me insight into the world that I might never otherwise have.

When I was sitting in the control room front row, it was hard to think about being anywhere else, for while I may have wanted to produce, I was hesitant to leave the excitement of the trench that was the front row. These days, I'm learning about a different kind of "back row." And along the way, I am discovering how a little change of angle can really affect how I see the world.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

36 Hours

It would be easy to define our little getaway by the train delay on the way back. It would be easy to define the time away as time out of time--simply a grand escape from the mundane responsibilities of every day. It would be easy to define the 36 hours out of town as just that--36 hours somewhere else.

None of these definitions would be inaccurate. It was, to be sure, a short getaway, punctuated by a stopped train and a change of venue. But more important, it was the following through on a plan. It was almost complete immersion in a world other than the one we experience daily. It was quiet enough for real hearing and loud enough to counteract the quiet of boredom. It was 36 hours of time well-spent in a life that can contain many, many hours not so well-spent.

We can't always be on vacation. We can't always just leave behind our surroundings or our responsibilities for a day and a half.

But when we can, maybe we return better able to face reality, or at least with a head full of sights and sounds to counteract reality. When we can, maybe we come away with a little more insight into what makes us tick and what makes us happy. When we can, maybe we come home with not just souvenirs to surround us, but with memories that prop us up when we need them.

In a daily life, 36 hours is often just a blip that is behind us before we know it. But when we take hold of our 36 hours, those hours can feel like so much more.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Living Up To

When I started working at One Life to Live, it was a wish come true. I had been watching the show for years, so the idea that I would actually be working there was amazing. And while the reality didn't always match what I had imagined, and while there were certainly bumps along the way, it pretty much lived up to (and went far beyond) my initial expectations.

Not everything in life works out that way. Whether it is a long-anticipated trip or an eagerly awaited book or movie, sometimes the reality can't live up to the imagination. So, given that, do we restrain our expectations? Do we keep ourselves from getting excited, so that we won't be disappointed? Do we avoid the soaring highs so that we can avoid the crushing lows?

A few times in my life, I have tried that--to aim in the middle, so that there's not so far to fall. The problem is, doing so often makes for polite smiles rather than hearty guffaws. Doing so can make for little victories rather than huge successes. Doing so can leave you meandering pleasantly through life without allowing yourself to celebrate it very much. So, while on a day-to-day basis, I may be a little cautious and responsible, I remind myself of the twenty-plus years of a life that came out of following a dream. I remind myself of the laughter and really tasty baked goods that have come out of letting go a little. I remind myself of the friendships and family ties that have grown out of risks taken and time spent and selves revealed.

We can live down to what is safe, or we can live up to what is possible. Which would you rather do?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Two Hours, Seventeen Minutes

I walked in the door at 6:30am, after one of a long string of overnight shifts. No kids to wake for school, no lunches to prepare, and within moments, I was asleep on the couch. For exactly two hours, seventeen minutes. Awakened by a child in search of office supplies, I arose from what had been an enormously deep sleep, and I barely sat or lay down again for the next thirteen hours.

As I write about it, I am exhausted. How is it that I could get through a day, after being up all night, on just two hours, seventeen minutes of sleep? How is it that I could walk miles and accomplish errands and laugh with my kids on just two hours, seventeen minutes?

The two hours, seventeen will surely catch up with me. But on a day when there was much to do, and life to embrace, two hours, seventeen minutes was enough. Enough to build a bridge between work and home, enough to clear the eyes and the head and recharge the feet. Enough to make me ready to face and manage and enjoy the day ahead of me.

We may all strive for our straight eight or our luxurious eleven or even our standard six. But sometimes, if the day is right, two hours, seventeen minutes is just enough.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Taking Back

We give our time.
We give our talents.
We give our choices.
We give our energy. our work. our children. our families. our communities.
We give because that is what we are supposed to do.


But once in a while, we have the opportunity to take back... take back our time. take back our energy. take back our choices. take back what we want to see and feel and hear.


And if we take that opportunity, we find that what it gives us is the strength to give back when we need to without giving ourselves away.

Taking back isn't about being self-centered. Taking back is about re-finding ourselves in the midst of all we give.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Where Are They Now?

Television work being as transient (more so now than ever) as it is, you are constantly saying "goodbye" because a project ends, or a company closes, or simply because new opportunities come along, for you, or for other people. Perhaps these days, it is becoming true in other fields as well. People don't necessarily stay in one place forever, so you can spend a lot of time wondering "where are they now?"

For me, the question remains present with my One Life To Live buddies. It continues to interest me where people have landed. But as I work in more places, I have an increasingly long list of "where are they now?" When I feel as though I'm standing still, someone's always moving. Sadly, the "where's" are not always a good thing--landing in a place that works can take a long time. But sometimes, "where are they now?" is answered when I show up at a gig, only to find former colleagues there too. After a project, people may scatter, but the TV world is smaller than you think.

I have been lucky to land over and over--not always right away, but in a string of interesting places. When people have asked "where is she now," I have had a long list of answers--not always good ones, but, I suppose, ones that have continued to move me forward--whatever "forward" means on any given day.

I am constantly asking "where are they now?" It is a sign, I believe, that I have worked with people whose lives matter to me. And a sign that we're all still moving. And sometimes, in this business, remaining in motion is all you can do.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

By Its Cover

I found myself in a school cafeteria, with over an hour to wait, and nothing in particular to do. I could simply have passed my hour playing Candy Crush (if I played it) or poring over old emails (which I do far too often). But before I knew it, I found myself reading my son's English class assigned book, a small volume presenting The Iliad on a middle grade level.

I'll admit, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I'm not so much into battle, and my life tends to be fairly grounded in the language of today. Yet, as I read, I began to feel (as if sitting in the school cafeteria hadn't done this already) a little bit of what my son goes through every day. For, while I might eagerly ask about his day, and genuinely be interested in the details of his daily adventures, I do so largely as an outsider--one who makes sure the books are in the backpack, but doesn't know what they're about. One who comments on the grades, but doesn't sit through the trauma of taking the tests.

In my hour and a half, I learned (relearned, I suppose, as I read about it in multiple forms as a kid) a little bit about the Trojan War. But more important, in my hour and a half, I learned a little bit about my son, or at least a little bit about his daily life. It's an exercise we all should probably do more often. Because sometimes, you can learn a lot about the reader of the book by going beyond the book's cover.