Friday, July 25, 2014

Powerless

Sometimes, when I am accomplishing many things, or learning something new, or just have had a good day, I feel very powerful. And then, I realize...

I may be able to talk about math homework, but I am powerless when it comes to making sure the advanced high school problems are correct.

I very diligently forward job postings and proofread resumes and give advice, but I feel powerless when it comes to making my unemployed friends employed.

I am fine when I comes to avoiding chips and dip and assorted other high-caloric treats, but I am powerless when it comes to chocolate or eggplant Parmesan or a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

I work hard to process the mail and the hundreds of new pieces of paper and assorted stuff that enters our apartment daily, but I am powerless when it comes to maintaining consistent control over the clutter.

I am very fast at turning around news video clips to go on the broadcast, but I feel powerless when I realize that I can't do anything to help the people and situations in the video.

I suppose the best that any of us can do is celebrate the powerful moments, and work on at least some of the powerless ones. And enjoy a little chocolate and eggplant along the way.



Thursday, July 24, 2014

What Time Is It?

For most of my career, knowledge of time has been a huge factor. As a Booth PA, I carried a stopwatch (the old-fashioned kind--round and silver, with a clicky button for starting and stopping and resetting), and was called upon to estimate the times of scenes, time the taping of scenes, add and subtract time, and know how script changes would alter show time.
 

When I became an AD, while I no longer carried the stopwatch everywhere, I remained time-obsessed. How much time would come out in the edit, how much time was it taking to shoot a scene, how much time would we lose by making a double camera move?
 

And, of course, when I have edited, there has always been the issue of "cutting to time," and delivering the final product on time.
 

Given all of this, you would think I would be acutely aware of time--at all times. And yet, this morning, as I was having coffee with a friend, I wondered at least once if I was okay for time for getting to work. Our conversation was so consuming that I pretty much lost track of time--no sense of (PA-speak) how much time we had used, how much was left, how long or short we were running. And that was a glorious feeling. As useful and satisfying as time management may be, there is nothing like losing all track of time when doing something you enjoy. Sometimes in life (not in PA, AD, or Editor land!), the best time management is about immersing yourself and counting on the time to work itself out. Not always the safest bet--you may end up with a lot of "post-production fixes"--but certainly one of the most enjoyable.
 

Oh, and if you're wondering, the time all worked out--the coffee was not cut short, and my arrival at work was right on time, no cuts or editing necessary.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Live--And Other Successes

When One Life to Live did its "Live Week" (one of my favorite career experiences--ever) about fifteen years ago, there seemed to be some disappointment from the audience and the press that there weren't a bunch of screw-ups. Apparently, doing "live" well wasn't nearly as interesting to them as was the opportunity to see the regularly taped and edited professionals mess things up when they couldn't be edited. The thing is, we, as professionals, wanted to do things right. And through a combination of hard work and dedication, we pulled off five really good "live" shows, complete with all sorts of bells and whistles that went on virtually without a hitch. Or so I remember.
 

I think back on that week sometimes. I remember how exciting it was in the moment, and I also remember how great it was to live up to our own expectations, rather than down to those of the people who wanted us to mess up.
 

It seems that in life, there will always be people who expect the worst. Who almost delight in the mess-ups, who can't--or don't want to--anticipate success. As I learned during that "Live Week" (and honestly, have learned throughout my career), the people who get the most done, both in terms of quantity and in terms of quality, tend to be the ones who think the opposite--who go into a possibly impossible situation and believe that it is possible. Who may start with the worst and, with hard work and dedication, make it the best. Who aim for success, because that's what they expect, not screw-ups because that's what other people expect.
 

As far as I can tell, most career--and life--experiences can have a little of that "Live Week" excitement in them. The question for us is--are we ready to make them not just exciting, but successful as well?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New York Minute

I heard someone say this today. I did. I mean, I had heard the expression before, perhaps in movies or newspapers from way back, but this was the first time, I think, I had ever heard a real person actually say it.
 

It kind of stuck with me all day. What exactly is a New York minute? (I looked it up later--it's an instant--because things go so quickly in New York City, a Texan in the 60's was said to have observed that what might take a minute somewhere else takes just an instant in New York). In any case, the expression made me observe "New York minutes" all day...
 

Like the lady who, out of the corner of my eye, looked as though she was carrying a giant banana. Turns out she was. It was a two-foot long blow-up banana. Don't ask. I didn't.
 

Like the, I think, less than five minutes it took me to go to the bank, deposit my check, and return to work, since there are so many banks in a block radius of my work.
 

Like my walking past the bakery worker giving out samples before I could think about passing up something highly caloric, but free.
 

Like the few steps it took for me to walk past a bus that was stuck in traffic (and get a little exercise without even going to the gym).
 

Things happen quickly here (and, despite the expression, in a lot of other places too). Keep your eyes and ears open--or you're liable to miss a lot of somethings--in a New York minute!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Picking

One of my favorite summer activities is picking fresh fruits and vegetables. I am no farmer--I don't think I could grow the stuff if I tried. But take me to a "pick your own" farm, and I am happy for hours.
 

Would that all the "picking" we do in life be as straightforward as the picking of produce in a field. You see, when picking at the farm, once you learn which plants are which and what "ripe" looks like for any given fruit or veggie, it's really just a question of reaching or bending to get what you want.
 

In life, there's plenty of reaching and bending. The difference is, "ripe" tends to be much more subjective, the reaching often way beyond the length of your arms, and the bending frequently more than you can handle. While the carrying of bags of picked fruit may be hard, it is nothing compared to the baggage we carry along with the choices we make in life. And though we can pick veggies alone or with others, picking in life often ends up being a more solitary endeavor. Anybody can pick ripe blueberries once the "ripe" guidelines are clear. But only we can really know what's right to pick in the rest of our lives.
 

I came home this weekend with bags and containers of yummy produce--and a bit of a bending-and-reaching sore back to go along with them. But the glorious simplicity of the picking--I'll be trying to find that again all week long.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Informational

Used as a noun (and not to be confused with infomercial), an informational is a meeting with a person in your field (or in a field you'd LIKE to be your field), not for the purpose of asking for a job, but for the purpose of finding out more about the field so that you might know where and how to ask for a job. Oh, and to provide the person, and hopefully therefore, the person's "people," with information about yourself so that THEY will ask YOU about a job.

I have not been on a lot of informationals. It's hard for me to find that middle ground between "having coffee" and "going on an interview."

Would more "informationals" be useful? Of course. But I'm realizing that what I am missing is not so much the ability to gather information. Rather, I am missing out on the practice of putting out information about myself, and that is a skill that I (and pretty much anyone) can't live without.

Don't we put out information about ourselves every day? Isn't there information about ourselves in the work that we do, in the conversations we have, in the choices we make? Of course. The problem is, this information might define us quite well (or not well at all), but it is more than anyone who doesn't know us (and some of the people who do know us) can process. Information, in the sense of an informational, needs to be the boiled-down version--the five-minute summary of who we are and what we want, which may encompass years of work and conversations and choices, but takes only a few moments to convey. It's not easy. We're used to working things through over coffee. We're used to saying "yes" to so many tasks and defining ourselves as so many different people during the course of the day, that it's tricky to nail down just one person. But giving information, in a way and an amount of time that people can process, is a skill unto itself, and one that we would all do well to master.

Who am I, and what do I want? I'm not sure, and it depends on the day. Clearly, I have work to do before my next informational.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Close To Home

Among the elements that I formatted for tonight's Arise News Now broadcast was a photograph from the wreckage of the Malaysian plane that crashed in Ukraine. As I zoomed in on the picture (which I do for almost every photo I use), I realized that, among the stuffed animals and other items indicative of parents and children on the flight, there was a copy of a book that was familiar. While the title was in Dutch, the cover art was clearly that of Diary of A Wimpy Kid, a series that my son has loved for years and read over and over. There was a child on that plane who was reading it too, just in a different language. And now that child won't get to read the next book in the series when it comes out this fall. That child won't go to school, or play Minecraft, or annoy his sisters the way only a sibling can do.

Some days, working in news is learning about countries I've never known much about before. Some days, working in news is about helping to explain with pictures what is going on in the world. And some days, working in news is simply about realizing how similar we all are, whether we live half a world apart or not. About realizing that it could be us, or our kids, on that plane. Us or our kids clutching a stuffed animal or reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid one moment, and gone the next.

Some days the news feels very far away. And sometimes, even when it's far away, it feels very close to home.