Friday, August 31, 2012

What "Not Working" Means to An 8 Year Old

When I first stopped working, my then 7 year old son offered to take a little time off from school to help me find a job.  No, I told him, school was his job, and much as I appreciated his offer, everything would be all right.  I think quite often about that offer, and about what it means to a now 8 year old boy to have his mom, who has worked practically every week of the year for his whole life, suddenly be at home and present for a lot more hours of his life.  So here goes--in my order, not his.

1.  When Mommy's not working, we can't have sushi because she always says it's WAY too expensive.

2.  Now that Mommy's not working, we never take taxis anymore.  Which is good, because the bus is WAY better.

3.  Mommy takes me to school and picks me up every day now instead of a babysitter.  Mommy asks WAY too many questions.

4.  When Mommy was working, Daddy made dinner more often.  Sorry, Mommy, but Daddy is a WAY better cook.

5.  Mommy is on the computer WAY too much, typing emails and resumes and blogs, which really cuts into my video game time.

6.  Sometimes Mommy is sad, but she always feels WAY better when I give her a hug.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Miss My Cameramen

On both soaps and sitcoms, I worked largely as an Associate Director, a job I often described to my non-TV friends as a traffic cop who watched numerous camera monitors and coordinated the moving and shot framing of a group of cameramen while shooting a TV show (and made sure what we shot was editable.  But that's a different story).

The cameramen were, across the board, older and more experienced than I.  And despite the low, steady voice that I had worked to develop for talking to them over their headsets, they were, perhaps not surprisingly, not necessarily eager to trust my choices.  They had been creating shots in their viewfinders for all the years when I was still making coffee and answering phones for the producer--what could I possibly have to add?

And yet, with my lowered voice, designed to be easier on ears that had to handle so much yelling and chatter, and with my genuine respect for how much they brought to the process, we found common ground, a collaboration that made me excited to go to work every day.

When I think about what I miss most from working, it is that collaboration, the energy born when the men (no sexism here--they were mostly men) who had pushed heavy cameras and made pictures for years learned to respect the work-her-way-up pipsqueak who appreciated their efforts and their creativity and wasn't afraid to say so.  The energy of building a story while joking over headset.  The energy of reacting together as things changed.

Learning to work with and earn the respect of people coming at the process from so many different directions has been one of the high points of my career, and I look forward to having more of that soon.

Because I miss my cameramen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Last Week

The world, or at least the city, is on vacation. It is the last week of August, and I see it in the gym, on the less than packed streets, even on the subway.

But after more than 7 months of job hunting for many hours every day, I refuse to accept that nothing will happen today.  I refuse to give myself over completely to what my kids want and need to do in their last full week before school starts.  A job hunter, it seems, is never really on vacation.

Even when I was still working full time, I looked in anticipation. I scoured job boards and made lists of contacts to contact.  In this, perhaps the deadest week other than Christmas to New Years, will anyone read my emails?  And if they read them on the beach, will I stand out as a go-getter or fade from their memory and their inboxes before they ever make it back to the office?  Would I be better off just diving into the kids' last week of summer and returning to the job of job searching once they are seated in their new classrooms for 7 hours a day?  Or will waiting mean missing an opportunity that only comes up this week?  The job hunter's job,  it seems, is never finished.

With the exception of the early morning hours, when I am up and the kids are still sleeping, the decision is at least partly made for me.  While the desire to have a job is urgent, the child standing in front of me needing help with summer homework is more urgent.  While the knowledge that having coffee with movers and shakers and, well, anyone who could connect me to anyone, is important, making sure that my son can see past his overgrown bangs when he starts in his new school is more important.  And while training myself on the 15 new computer programs potential employers expect me to know is valuable, making sure my daughters entering high school and middle school know that they can talk to me about their new challenges will, in the long run, be more valuable (even if not to my bank account).

So for this week, I grab my morning hours and an email here and there--and, well, the time to blog--but then enjoy our last week without schedules.  Next week the whole city, myself included, will be back from vacation.  And I am fairly sure that the job hunt will still be there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Blog?

I am out of work.  People say I should say I'm freelancing, but the truth is, after 23 years of steady day in, day out work in soaps and sitcoms, 4 weeks of work in the last 7 months feels to me like "out of work."

Believe me, I am not sitting home eating bonbons.  In the last 7 months, I have learned a lot of things about a lot of things, ranging from the words that make a difference on a resume to how my children behave after school, from how much focus it takes to work at home to how much it costs just to walk down the sidewalk in New York City.  And somewhere, in all of this, it occurred to me that what I have been learning is actually worth sharing--with other job hunters, with other parents, and with other former soap opera employees (whose ranks, sadly, have grown tremendously over the last 10 years).

And thus, my blog, "Not Washed Up Yet," is born.

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment.