Friday, November 30, 2012

Where's Right to Write?

When I started writing this blog, many people asked me how I would possibly have an ongoing stream of things about which I could write.  I grant them, there definitely are days when it's a bit of a struggle to settle on a topic, or to flesh out a topic that seems like a good idea.

What I didn't think about so much when I started was WHERE I would write.  I figured I had multiple blank notebooks, so, whether it was on a bus or on my couch, I'd find a place to write.  These days, as I have been writing later in the evening, the presence of a notebook, or even an iPod with a "Notes" feature, isn't necessarily enough.  Between kids needing help with homework and a husband and kids practicing piano and the making and clearing of dinner, my home is a noisy place, not necessarily conducive to thoughtful writing.

So, where to write?  This week, it has become the kitchen floor. Let's face it, after dinner, when pots have to be scrubbed, and icky plates have to be scraped and put in the dishwasher, my kids disappear awfully quickly, so my kitchen, a city kitchen, with floor space just 3 feet wide, is a relatively quiet spot. Even if I hear the craziness, I'm not in the middle of it.

Thankfully, there are still some days when I get my post idea early and grab "alone time" while waiting for a school bus, or traveling from Point A to Point B.  But on the days when the great idea waits until 8pm to arrive, I've found that the kitchen floor does pretty well.

And when I'm done writing, I know exactly which spots need to be mopped!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


When I worked at One Life to Live, while I considered myself fairly persistent at finding answers, the reality was, help was often just a phone call away.  Editing computer crashes--call the Post Producer.  Control room mike too loud--call Audio. Spill dressing on your pants--call Wardrobe (yes, lucky us, they really helped with stuff like that!)

Now that I am often working from home, on editing projects, writing, and plain old networking and sending out resumes, it's just me.  Well, my husband does jump in sometimes, and the aforementioned Post Producer did say I could call him any time with questions, but these are busy people, and so, as a part of my freelance education, I have become a whole lot more savvy about troubleshooting.  

It's a little funny that troubleshooting would ever have been a problem--not only was I an AD who was called upon to troubleshoot lots of things, I am a mother who has figured out childcare for three kids, simultaneous pick-ups at three separate schools, and making pasta both al dente enough for my husband and mushy enough for my kids.  Nonetheless, when I look at my reaction to a computer program crash or video exporting specifications now versus what it was a year ago, I am actually amazed.  I search for answers, I watch tutorials, I try different possibilities.  There is a kind of fearlessness bred from either hours alone or a need to get things done or simply a drive to move forward from where I was back then.  

When One Life ended, I could see that what many of us would miss was the structure it provided--not just a place to go every day, but a set-up that we understood.  Departments that accomplished separate pieces yet worked together. Contact sheets that told you exactly where to call for just about anything.  A net below the daily production tightrope.

Well, guess what, folks?  The net is gone.  Or at least it's a whole lot farther from the rope I'm on now.  And from where I'm standing (teetering?), I guess I'm doing okay.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chasing Buses

The title of this post would be most interesting to my son, who is a bus fanatic, and since, as he put it, "most of the exciting stuff in your day today was about me, right?", it seems only appropriate.

And why was the most exciting stuff in my day about him?  Well, one COULD argue that from the point of view of an eight-year-old boy, anything done with him would HAVE to be more exciting than anything a mom would do alone while her kids are in school.  Today, though, I might be inclined to agree with him.
After all, I DID have to go to his school to retrieve him when a mixup had him not end up on the school bus (thus, the title!)
And he and I DID share a mighty tasty doughnut from the gourmet doughnut shop that we never go to after I retrieved him.
And, because of this "retrieval," we DID take a bus we wouldn't ordinarily take.
And because of the resulting delay, I DID have to alter the errands list I had planned for while he was in Hebrew School.

And because I felt bad that the mishap had left him waiting in the school office for almost an hour, my errand list DID come to include a number of his favorite foods.
Oh, and the most exciting part for him?  He was able to show me his brand new, in a fancy cloth case, third grade recorder, on the steps of his school as soon as we left the building.

When I started my day, I thought perhaps the most exciting thing in it would be finishing a music video I was editing.  Or making the apartment a lot cleaner.  Or having a yummy afternoon cup of coffee.  Exciting stuff, huh?

Thank goodness there is an eight-year-old in my life to remind me that excitement can enter your day just when you least expect it.  And that we are all a lot better off when it does.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Soap Opera

As I pondered what to write about today, I found myself thinking about two things--first, my former One Life to Live producer talking about soap operas needing to be big (like an opera) in their emotion and intensity, and second, several highly emotional songs I had my daughter listen to in preparation for her poetry-writing assignment.

Okay, where to go with all of THAT?!

When my daughter came to me with drafts of several of her poems, I was genuinely impressed with much of them.  I haven't written poetry for quite some time, and they reminded me of a time when I did.  But the note I gave her
(hard to lose that soap director language) was "dig a little deeper," and, by golly, she went away and came back with words that really moved me.

I am not an overly emotional person.  When I was at One Life to Live, I used to tell the directors and producers that if I cried at something, it really was moving, and if I laughed, it genuinely was funny.  I didn't "fake it."

Freelancing and job-hunting are not endeavors that favor the emotional.  Too much of a rollercoaster for the job-hunter, and really, what interviewer wants to meet with someone hugely emotional?  And, should you ever walk into a freelance assignment wearing your heart on your sleeve?  Those are things best left for a place where people know you (and perhaps a place where your boss thinks in terms of intense, operatic emotion!) and for blogs like this one.

So, where exactly was I going with the opera and the songs? "Lucky me, I started a blog so I have a place to express emotion while looking for a job?"  Well, yes.  But, no.

The truth is, the emotional rollercoaster of the job search has allowed me to discover all sorts of things about what I like and don't like, what I need, life-wise and work-wise, and where I might fit in the world.  The relatively unemotional part of me may send out the resumes, but in those moments of soap opera and emotional songs, I figure out what the resumes and the interviews and the gigs all mean.  Those are moments I didn't have a lot of time for during long days working on the production of a daily TV show.  Which makes those moments among the very best--and most valuable--parts of this otherwise crazy job search/freelancing adventure.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Something New Every Day

Following an interview I had today, I decided a brush-up on certain computer program skills was in order.  There was a time that would have meant searching for a teacher or a class, and then figuring out how to schedule the chosen educational scenario into our family calendar.  Now, however, I needed to look no farther than my computer itself.  There were so many online tutorials to help me, I could literally pick one based on my response to the sound of the narrator's voice.  I am happy to report that my chosen voice and I spent several hours today having me practice the program, "homework" and all, and we'll continue with "class" tomorrow.

So--this could be a blog extolling the wonders of the internet, and it certainly is amazing how much you can find there.  But my point here is somewhat bigger.  Each morning, I put my children on buses to schools where they learn new things every day.  I have been out of school for quite some time, and yet, without sitting in a classroom, I find that there are new things I too can learn every day.  Some days, it's a breakthrough in the kitchen (for a person who most of the time has no business being in the kitchen!).  Others, it's knowledge acquired from a conversation with a friend.  Sometimes it's just reading something in a book or newspaper.  And, on a day like today, it's an online tutorial.

It would be incredibly easy at this point in my life and career to say that I've spent enough time in school and learning on the job, that my years of acquired knowledge are enough.  But would I ever encourage my children to stop at what they know now?  Of course not.  And if I'm not willing to learn every day, I cut myself off from new experiences, and particularly from new opportunities.

So, I'm very happy to have been given a reason to find my online tutorial, whether I get the job or not (gosh, I hope I do!).  I have learned a great deal today.  And I will learn a whole lot more tomorrow.  And, no doubt, every day, for many days to come.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Day Well Spent

When we emerged from our apartment today, after most of the long weekend spent inside, we had two things planned--seeing kids from Broadway's Annie singing at Dylan's Candy Bar and spending my daughter's Claire's gift card at South Street Seaport.  Simple goals, but plenty for my first outing after days on the couch trying to kick a cold.

Little did we know when we started how different these two things would be.  At Dylan's, we were surrounded by colorful candy of all kinds, bright displays, and 6 little girls singing "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" as if they'd been on Broadway for every minute of their young lives.  It was like being in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."  If you had enough money, you could practically live there, feasting on all manner of sweets (including my daughter's favorite--bacon-flavored chocolate), and sleeping on pillow facsimiles of different candies in pajamas with pictures of cupcakes, made happy every day by the vibrant colors surrounding you.

A long, winding bus ride later, we found ourselves at South Street Seaport for errand number two.  Those New Yorkers among you might already be laughing at my miscalculation, because, alas, when we got off the bus there, we were hit with the reality that South Street Seaport is still long from "back in business" after the hurricane we thought was behind us.  Dark stores, boarded up windows, emergency management trucks, and signs everywhere saying "Closed--Do Not Enter."  From the colorful, carefree feeling of Dylan's Candy Bar and Annie the Musical, to the gray reality of stores and restaurants that may never fully recover.

As we returned home from part two of our outing, I thought about how lucky we were, both to live in a place where we have largely been able to move on, and to have had not just part one of today's expedition, but part two as well.  We can all use reminders that there is a world outside our own, that the view from our own window is not necessarily the full view.  It's just the view we happen to be in a place to see.

I know that I won't soon forget my first reaction when we walked from the bus to the Seaport today, the realization that whatever darkness I might be choosing to feel in my life was actually pretty bright compared to the dark windows we saw and the challenges that would be ahead for the people there and in lots of other places affected not just by the storm, but by challenges a whole lot harder than a bad cold.

A day well spent.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Out of the Woods and Into the Cabin Fever

Day Three of our city weekend, and I am finally feeling as though my cold will end.  Not the way I imagined our city Thanksgiving, but what ever is exactly the way you imagined?

Had I written this, beginning to end, a few hours ago, I would have been marveling at the fact that the five of us had managed to find 5 separate, peaceful corners of the apartment for most of the day.  So, probably, I should have buckled down in my corner and written about my perfect, tranquil family.  But, alas, a few hours have passed, we have emerged from the five corners, and it is clear that, while my cold may be getting better, cabin fever has begun to set in.

I used to think that if we lived in a ginormous house in suburbia, just the mere size of the place would make us get along more of the time.  We could go to our separate rooms--after all, each child would have his or her own room, AND my husband and I would have rooms of our own in addition to our bedroom.  The piano would be separate from the TV, and the spaces for working would be separate from both the piano and the TV.  And when we all wanted to be together, we could be in any room, including the kitchen, which would be big enough for all of us to be preparing parts of dinner at the same time (yes, that's right, everyone would have a part in preparing dinner).

No, I am not feverishly delirious, nor am I currently medicated.  But a girl can dream, can't she?

What I realized today, though, is that, while the big suburban house might separate people's messes and give us more places to find some quiet, no amount of space makes a family of five get along all the time.  No amount of space makes kids practice piano or do their homework the first time you tell them or keeps them from arguing about who has to go first.  And no amount of space, I'll bet, makes staying inside for most of a 4-day weekend a recipe for harmony.

So, for now, and tomorrow, I will put aside the ginormous suburban house fantasy and settle for an escape from cabin fever--an expedition in the city, hopefully with stops that will please everyone.  And soon enough, we'll be out of the woods completely, no doubt wishing that we could crawl back into bed in our 17th floor cabin.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cleaning Closets

In honor of Thanksgiving, or perhaps because I can't stand that stuffed feeling that goes with Thanksgiving, or maybe, just because we're here and it's a thing to do, I am emptying my closet.  Well, not completely emptying, but doing a pretty major purge of the clothes that have been with me for 20-plus years and the "give as gifts" things that are no longer appropriate to give to anyone we know.  All that, and some odds and ends along the way.

It is a scary process. (To be honest, a lot of stuff has been bagged so far, but nothing has actually left the apartment!). It means eliminating parts of my past, acknowledging that things change enough over 20 years, that I likely don't fit into many of those clothes (three children later), and that, even if I do, they will not be my friends in a job search or a new job.

Acknowledging that my children are growing up, and that their friends are now too old to receive early readers and picture books as gifts.

In a time when I am avoiding spending money, it definitely feels weird to get rid of "perfectly good" things that might be useful and might help us to avoid spending money.  But are they actually BEING useful?  Well, no, not really, unless you count their role in making it impossible for me to get to the things in my closet that would actually BE useful.

Flash forward to the end of the day.  Closet not perfect, but way better.  And the bags-- they've almost all gone out, either to the trash chute or to the big charity bin downstairs, where you drop stuff through a trap door and gulp as you realize your stuff is really gone.

There IS a sense of accomplishment--a closet at least temporarily more usable.  A triumph of me over stuff, which, I suppose, is how it should be.  And, I would like to think, people out in the world benefitting from my things.

Tomorrow, or next week, I won't likely even remember what I got rid of.  I will have moved on to the here and now.  And, in the end, my memories are not about seeing the clothes I wore 20 years ago, or every piece of paper I ever wrote on.  They are about how I felt and the people I knew, and those things don't need to clutter the shelves in my closets.

So, whether I continue my Turkey Day cleaning for the rest of the weekend or move on to other activities, I feel as though I've taken a big step into the here and now.  Not to mention a giant leap toward a clean closet.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Guest Bloggers!

Today our mom, your most faithful blogger, Tracy, is kind of under the weather, stuffed up, laying low, with a head cold perchance. Soooooo, we have stepped in to fill the void. Ships ahoy, mates, it's time! (For us to write the blog! And write it we will!!!!) She says, and we quote, "You could write about being proofreaders all this time," in her weird, tired, sicky voice. But we think that we should write about being under the weather, because that is most definitely (Italics indicates sarcasm here) what she would want to be right now. :P

First, there's that time when you feel completely fine, and you're watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade on television, seeing the Kermit the Frog and Charlie Brown balloons, then mid-afternoon your head starts to spin, your eyes begin to water, and you suddenly can't smell anything. By Thanksgiving dinner in New Jersey, you just want to crawl into bed and sleep for eighteen hours. Believe us, we've all been there.  

Now here's the part where our mom connects this to something job search and/or work related. We haven't worked at a job before, so we can't really do the relating. However, we can say that we know that she wishes she was writing to you guys right now, and we hope she gets better soon!

--Your bloggers, for today,
Emily and Audrey :) 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Night Before Thanksgiving

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving,
and all through the place,
We weren't rushing off
as if in a race.
No driving upstate,
we did that before,
No watching balloons inflate,
my feet get too sore.
No frantically baking,
our job is just fruit,
Driving just to New Jersey,
we'll map out the route.
We'll go and we'll eat,
and after, come home.
Having seen lots of family,
we'll then be alone.
And Friday, come Friday,
we'll shop our hearts out,
or stay in our PJs
and just wander about.

Turkey Day weekend in the city,
it's been oh, so, so long,
Not quite sure what we'll do
as the days just go on.
Then before we even know it,
it'll be Monday again.
Back to school books and buses
and seeing our friends.
And, then, in a jiffy,
it'll be vacation once more
this time with a trip planned,
so no city in store.
But for now, so excited
to stay here in town.
Watch the parade on TV,
Have time to slow down.

So I close this blog poem,
(I don't poem too much)
With a wish for you all
For good food, friends, and such.
May your belly be full
And your weekend be bright.
Happy Thanksgiving to all
And to all, a good night.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ducks and Rollercoasters

This morning, I made what used to be a without fail yearly trip to Macy's Herald Square to buy the holiday stuffed animal.  This year, it is an Aflac duck, sold in two sizes.  Times have changed since I bought my first Macy's holiday animal over 20 years ago.  You used to have to buy something else just to be able to buy the animal, and I spent many hours over the years figuring out what to buy in a store that mostly just overwhelmed me.  Then came a time when you could just buy the animal, which I did, just about every year.  But at this time last year, as my job was close to ending, I certainly couldn't justify spending money on a stuffed animal.

Today, I was also without a job. But, armed with a gift card I had unearthed, there I was, buying a duck (and a few as gifts).  And when I ventured to the Cellar, just to look at all the fancy foods and pots, what should I happen upon but one of last year's ducks, essentially the same animal as this year, but dressed differently, and saying 2011, a year when my spirits were low and my bank account was about to be low too.  But the rollercoaster goes up and down, and today, gift card in hand, I was not feeling so low.  There were no other 2011 animals.  I had come upon this one for a reason.  And, courtesy of my gift card, I came home with last year's stuffed animal and this year's.

I am sure there will be many more twists and turns on this rollercoaster of mine, days when a duck will help and days when it couldn't possibly.  Days when I believe there is no time or money for frivolous things, and days when I know that, despite the circumstances, there needs to be room for fun.

If I can weather the downs on this rollercoaster, I know I will get to the ups.  And the ducks.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Dentist

Would that I could do a hysterically funny monologue about the dentist, like Bill Cosby's from years ago.  This won't be that, but sitting in the dentist chair definitely does give a person a lot to think about.  I mean, there you are, fairly well incapacitated, mouth open in ways it never otherwise would be, drool either drooling down or half-choking you.  And you're there for the duration, however long that is, until that part is over and you come to the part when the dentist asks you about all the the things you should be doing but aren't.  If you're brushing just once a day, why aren't you brushing twice?  And if you are faithfully brushing twice every day, why aren't you brushing after you eat lunch?  And have you kept up with the flossing?  Oh, and you really should come see us every six months.

No offense to dentists.  Really.  It's just that, when you go to the dentist, it always seems as though whatever you've managed to do just isn't enough.  Which is particularly debilitating when you're between jobs AND you're a mom and you ALREADY feel as though what you're doing is never enough.  If you learn three computer programs people seem to want, you then find out there are two others you're expected to know.  If you've faithfully updated your LinkedIn, you find out that people are really viewing you on MediaMatch.  And if you give Child One ten dollars for the book fair, you'll be hearing about it if you give Child Two any less.

Today, it turned out, the whole dialogue about brushing more and flossing was all in my head.  The only thing I was asked was why it had been close to a year since my last visit, so I guess I got off easy.  And, as usual, I will try to do better between now and the next visit.  And I will also try to applaud the things I have done, tooth-wise and otherwise, rather than beating myself up for the ones I haven't.  Things are going to fall through the cracks (and with teeth, maybe that means I'm flossing enough!). And in the end, the efforts that I make will matter, even if I can't get to all of them.

And even if I have a full-time job come six months from now, I will make time to get to the dentist.  Really.  I promise.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

On This Day, One Year Ago

A year ago today, One Life to Live shot its last scenes in the studio.  While I, as an AD/Editor, continued to work for several weeks after, editing and clearing for air our last group of shows, for most people, November 18 was the last day. THE LAST DAY.

For months before that, I had listened to people bemoaning the show's coming to an end, but couldn't grieve myself.  I didn't feel sad exactly, just somewhere between numb and excited about being thrust into the world.  This would be the start of great new things for all of us, right?

And then November 18 came.  And as I walked into the studio, and the most unlikely people hugged me, it hit.  And as a crowd of people gathered after the very last scene, it was real.  This was the last time we would shoot anything here. The last time I would walk among this group of people, share the daily inside jokes, feel that kind of belonging, in a place where even the most unlikely people would hug you on the last day.

Though I continued to edit for weeks after that, I couldn't go back to the studio and the control room--the emptiness there was just too overwhelming.  I'd found my voice in the One Life to Live studio and control room, and now both places were quiet.  No voices at all.

Many of us have moved on.  A year has passed--so quickly--and some days I feel I have moved on, other days, not so much.  I guess the fact that I'm writing about this day means that today, it's "not so much."  It was a special thing we were a part of, and a special day we shared a year ago.  So when a day comes when I feel I have "moved on," I will make sure that "moving on" doesn't include forgetting the laughs and the hugs and the voice I found there.

Happy November 18.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Snow White Christmas

For those of you who read about my early Thanksgiving and late Halloween, it is perhaps no surprise to hear me mention Christmas in November.  But it's not what you think--at least not exactly.

This weekend, my daughters are performing in a show called A Snow White Christmas, an interesting mixup of the Snow White story and every Christmas carol you've ever heard (and since we don't celebrate Christmas, some we'd never heard!)

Their being in this show was a lucky break of sorts--a production close to home and with limited rehearsals, something we could reasonably manage, even when their schedules necessitated putting them in separate casts (meaning different rehearsal times each week for the two girls).

The casts of the show are large, which meant that much of the rehearsal time was spent just keeping the kids, who ranged from 5 to 18, all on the same page.  What amazes me is how my kids, and the rest of the kids, were able to find their place in the crowd.  How many times do we, as adults, walk into a crowd situation and find that we are unable or unwilling to make a place for ourselves?  Yet, these kids, cast as snowflakes and forest animals, Santas and queens and even a mirror, took a leap of faith (did many of them even know what a leap of faith is?), dove right in, and with just a few rehearsals, worked together (or at least separately in a group) to create an enjoyable short musical.

Think how much we could accomplish if we adults took that leap of faith, knowing that if we could do our part as well as possible, we might be surrounded by people doing the same, and the group effort could create something great.  Perhaps easy to do with a cast and crew you know, not so easy when you are surrounded by strangers.  But if these kids, some barely able to read, could do it, surely I and all of us walking into new situations every day can do it.  So, the next time I walk into something new, whether an interview or a show or a networking event, I will try to remember those snowflakes and forest animals.  And leap right into my next adventure.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Train Trip to the Bronx

Today was pretty much spent transporting children.  In the course of a few hours, I went from the Lower East Side to West Midtown to the Bronx, back to West Midtown, then, finally, back to the Lower East Side.  The things we do for our children!

I resisted doing it all.  My original plan for the day had me doing the Lower East Side part and someone else doing the Bronx.  But plans are just plans, and reality is reality, and today's reality was me on the Lower East Side and in the Bronx.

Today's reality turned out to be the best thing that could have happened.

A year ago, when we convinced my oldest that her best high school choice was a place in the Bronx, it was really an abstract.  Though she had visited and liked the school, the reality of going there and coming home every day couldn't possibly hit until she was in the middle of it.  Flash forward a year, and she is handling it fine (she stays up too late doing homework, and sleeps through much of her weekend, but what teenager doesn't?).  I, who, until today, had seen the school only once, have not been so sure.  It might still be New York City, but it takes a lot to want to make the trip to the Bronx for meetings and conferences and events.  Had we chosen the wrong school if I never wanted to make the trip there?

So today, as I sat on the train, and as I walked from the train to the school with the help of my Google directions, I realized that, because plans changed, I was getting to see my daughter's school in action, even if just for the few minutes it took to pick her up early.  I made the train trip to the Bronx, and I survived, still intact to make my second trip to the Lower East Side.

I may still not make frequent trips to her school, but hey, this is high school--it's not as though there are regular publishing parties and family math events.  If she can manage the day-to-day travel, and I'm no longer afraid of the trip, that's enough for now.

All thanks to a train trip to the Bronx.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Veruca Salt

Tonight, my daughter made her Middle School Play debut as Veruca Salt (the one who says "But Daddy, I want it now!) in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Over the last month of four day a week rehearsals, I have rarely heard her practice, so my idea of what I might see was based solely on my memory of the movie (the Gene Wilder version), which may be my most watched movie of all time.  And tonight, when I saw her strutting and screaming at her onstage dad and wriggling herself across the stage as if 100 squirrels were dragging her, I was impressed--and surprised.  I don't know what she's channeling to be that spoiled, screamy person--hopefully not something that I have done wrong as a parent--but how lucky is she to get all that out on stage!

As a mom and a worker and a person interviewing for jobs, I am not really allowed to scream and writhe on the ground when something doesn't go my way.  My saying "I want it now," doesn't mean I will get it.  "I want it now," said to a hiring manager, doesn't get you the job.  "I want it now," said to a mortgage company doesn't get your debt reduced.  Sad, isn't it?  We grownups are expected to go with the saying from the oft-seen sign "Stay Calm and Carry On."

So I will happily watch my daughter "get it all out" on stage (surprisingly, the famous movie line "but, Daddy, I want it now!" is not actually in the stage play) while I "stay calm and carry on.". The good news--I won't get thrown down the rubbish shoot by squirrels in a chocolate factory.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coming Out of the Dark

I returned to the gym this week.  Though the hurricane's effects lasted only 6 days in our buildings, it took me more than a week after that to do what it took to go back.  Somehow, the darkness at 5am seemed darker, the park that I walk through to go to the building with the gym had blown over trees, and no matter what I was doing, I seemed to be tired every morning at the time that I'd have to go.  So, day after day passed, with us in our once again lit, functional apartment, but instead of getting up and out, I wasted time on the internet or re-set the alarm and rolled over for an extra half hour.  It was as if I couldn't come out of no-power mode.

I wondered, would this be the end of my several-month stretch of an exercise regimen?  When it got colder, would the challenge be even greater, perhaps insurmountable?

Monday, I forced myself into shorts and a t-shirt, and sleepily made my way to the elevator, headphones borrowed from my daughter (where did mine go?)  The blown down trees were gone, but one of the basketball hoops was secured with tape.  And miraculously, my legs still remembered how to do the elliptical.

I have gone each day since, and today, I wore my full-length coat over my workout clothes.  I guess I really will be able to do this once it gets colder.

Now we just need to re-fill our refrigerator, so that I don't counteract all my exercise with takeout meals and junk food.

I guess I--and we--are finally coming out of the dark.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Going Back to Nassau Hall

This weekend, my brother called me while he was walking on the Princeton University campus.  He was in Princeton for a conference of sorts, and he couldn't resist enjoying the scenery of the place where both he and I spent four years of our lives (my first two overlapped with his time there, which was good, because, as I recall, I spent the better part of my first year as rather a trauma queen, much in need of assistance from an older brother).

While I now live much closer than he does to our "old stomping grounds," he ends up there far more than I do.  My interests and friends have changed so much since my college days that, while I certainly have fond memories of a cappella singing groups and beautiful stone buildings and a dorm room that was my haven from the world, I find it hard to connect any of it to my daily life now.

I guess that's mostly how I am in general.  It's not that I'm unsentimental.  I just tend to get far more caught up in the "what is" and "what will be" than in the "what was."  Which makes it good that I kept diaries of my kids' first years.  And good that I have yearbooks from high school and college and many, many pictures and tiny videotapes that I never look at, but could, if I'm so busy moving forward that I forget everything that came before.

And when it comes to my Princeton reunion in the spring, will I go, and if I do, what will looking back mean to a forward-thinking person like me?

For now, there are parent-teacher conferences and job hunting and re-filling our refrigerator post-hurricane.  So, while I may be forward-thinking, I'll leave thinking as far forward as my reunion for another day.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I like sleep.  My second daughter would likely disagree with me, since a lovely, long sleep has me waking up at 8:30am, and she can sleep until 1:30pm if no one forces her to get up (which she did on Saturday).

Most days, I don't get my lovely, long sleep.  With children who need to get up starting at 6 for school buses that pick up starting at 7, I wake up closer to 5, so that I can answer emails, go to the gym, and, on a good day, shower and start making lunches before I get anyone else up.

No wonder I like sleep, I'm exhausted already.

In the first few months of my freelance/unemployed life, while I didn't succumb to hours of TV during the day (except for research), I'll admit that I enjoyed a nap in the afternoon sun, which hits right on a particular spot on my couch.  It didn't necessarily help my nighttime sleep, but it felt like a wonderful luxury, never available to me in 20-some odd years of working.  (we always talked about putting a nap item on the One Life to Live "order of the day," but it never actually happened.)

Recently, there's barely enough time for sleeping at night, much less, indulging in sleep during the day.  And I guess that's a good thing.  It must mean that enough is chugging along in my life and my kids' lives that, without being "back to normal," we are back to normal, at least sort of.  I do a lot of work, either at home or somewhere else, we have only as much babysitting as we absolutely need, and I'm scrambling to make sure that everyone is gotten home at the end of the day, and that there is somehow dinner on the table, in time for me (and the gang) to go to bed so that we can be prepared to start all over again tomorrow.

Again, no wonder I like sleep, I'm exhausted already.

And on that note, blog written, kids mostly settled in, I will begin my weekday version of a lovely, long sleep, more like a short, intense sleep started as early as physically possible.

Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

One Small Voice in the Universe

Over the summer, my daughters performed in a production of Seussical the Musical, an interesting conglomeration of pieces of Seuss books, complete with the crazy, colorful costumes you'd think of from your favorite Dr. Seuss classic.

One of the show's songs has stuck with me all these months, particularly this lyric--"one small voice in the universe, one true friend in the universe, who believes in me."

There are lots of days when I feel that I am a very small voice. After talking non-stop in a control room for years, having people react to what you say, it's hard to think your voice is big when you send resumes into the Internet universe and there is little response.  It's hard to think your voice is big when some days you can't quite tell what your next step will be.  But I have been struck these last few days by the second part of the lyric, the part that makes me think of the people who, though they now haven't worked with me for close to a year, are still keeping their eyes and ears open for me, still writing references for me, still following what I do--including this blog.

So when I begin to feel small in the universe, these people--my true friends in the universe--matter, and their belief in me helps me believe in myself.  It is they who will help ensure that I end up in places where my voice can be heard again--in a big way.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lego People

Tucked into the frame of my son's bed is a constantly growing collection of Lego people.  They range from Star Wars characters to robots and Minotaurs to Little Red Riding Hood (you never know what you'll get when you buy a mystery pack).

While I have been aware when he's acquired some of them, I hadn't realized the extent of the collection until tonight, when I sat in my kids' room, just craving a few minutes of quiet. (It's rarely loud in there--the kids tend to make noise in every OTHER part of the apartment!)

What struck me about the Lego people, in addition to their sheer number and their feet (I just love those Lego feet!) was the fact that they are so unbelievably adaptable.  Almost all of them have hair or a hat which makes them a particular person, but since these items are largely interchangeable, a Star Wars guy can become Little Red Riding Hood, a construction guy can become a fireman, and I suspect the robot can become a Minotaur.  And it's amazing how the fiercest looking Star Wars storm trooper starts to appear pretty powerless when you take off his helmet, leaving him bald.

Now, I don't aspire to having Lego feet--I like walking, thank you very much--and these guys' hands have fairly limited ability, but I do like the adaptability thing.  There are some days when I am happy to be baking and delivering treats (not that I have a red hooded cape), and other days when it would be hugely helpful to wear a mask that both protected me and made me look scary.  And once in a while, I certainly wouldn't mind having my only responsibilty be to spend my days hanging out on the edge of a kid's bed until someone decides what hat I'll be wearing.

For now, I will continue to wear my multiple hats--or heads--each day and just enjoy watching the Lego people collection grow.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Yes, for those of you who read my post about Thanksgiving a week ago, Halloween.  Really.  Halloween was blacked out in much of New York and New Jersey last week, remember?  You can't exactly go trick-or-treating in a 21-story building when the elevators aren't working and the stairwells and hallways are pitch black.  But, thanks to a community-spirited building, Halloween was just postponed, not canceled (turned out, two of my kids' schools did the same).  So tonight, my children donned their costumes and, armed with the famous "who's giving out candy" list, set off to fill their treat bags.  And, in the tradition I started last year, they went door to door in the building, while I stayed home to give out candy.  (I actually forgot to sign up on the famous "who's giving out candy" list, but spent several hours sitting in my doorway, listening for groups of kids and giving out treats. Turned out the woman at the other end of my hall had forgotten too, so, as trick-or-treaters exited the elevator, they were met with a stereo version of "I'm not on the list, but I have candy!")

I knew I'd enjoyed this last year, but I was reminded of one of the reasons why when a group of tweenish girls saw my Emmys from the doorway (my living room is a disaster area, but what they saw were the Emmys!), and literally wanted to have my autograph.  I let them take turns holding one (heavier than they expected) and take pictures.  I actually think they were going to Google me (at which point, they'd either realize I'm not THAT exciting or discover and start reading my blog).

Funny how, as much as I seemed to "make their night," they kind of made mine too.  I don't know if I'll ever win an Emmy again.  I'd be excited if I did, but who knows?  Meanwhile, they reminded me that I did once--well, three times--and that it's a pretty darn exciting thing.  I guess I like Halloween more than I thought.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jealous of the Man With the Bibs

I was doing laundry at 10:3opm--thankfully, not the full family's weekly load (translation: 6 loads)--just the whites that turned pink a few weeks ago (bleach didn't magically fix the problem) and the dress that my daughter needs for her school play costume for tomorrow's dress rehearsal.  So, as I waited for the dryer to finish, thinking how crazy it was that I was standing there at 10:30pm, my blog unwritten, I looked at the man next to me, who was folding tiny pink items, including bibs saying things like "don't forget the cupcakes."

Now, I fully acknowledge that he, too, was doing laundry at 10:30pm, and by the looks of the shirts he was hanging, this was probably the end of a long day for him too.  I resisted the urge to tell him to enjoy the little teeny clothing age, but I found myself thinking how simple things were then, when I chose what the kids wore and the toys they were begging for (actually at that age, they were too young even to be begging) were smaller and cheaper and simpler to say yes or no to.

If, of course, I really think about that age, in my household, it was an age that I saw only part of--I was working many hours, with a full-time nanny who was with my small people for 10 hours a day, five days a week.  Oh, and did I mention, she was the one generally doing the tiny laundry, even when it was poopy?

It's not that I don't like my children--I definitely do--just in that moment, the simplicity of bibs and onesies and baby smell, and children who are not wide awake when I'm doing the 10:30pm laundry seemed so appealing.  But we can't go back in time--gosh, if we could, so many things might be different.

The other day, I had a phone conversation with a person who is researching One Life to Live's history, and it was fascinating how, as I talked to him, I could actually feel that every part of my time there had its advantages.  I guess kids are like that too.  Every age has its own strong points.  My kids can now help with chores and have interesting conversations, and not be dangers to themselves every minute of the day.  They just don't wear onesies and smell like babies (which probably keeps them a whole lot better adjusted at school!)  So these days, I will have to settle for enjoying tiny clothes vicariously, with the help of people like the man with the bibs.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Patience to Boil an Egg

As I made my hard-boiled egg lunch today, I chuckled, thinking about how my husband always tells me that an egg has to be in boiling water for 10 minutes before it is hard-boiled.  I, on the other hand, choose never to set the timer--I'll just put it in the water and have it boil for a while.  That'll work.  Which is fine when I have things to do and I let the egg boil for more than ten minutes before thinking about it again.  When, however, I'm in a rush, for myself, or for a child who needs to eat something before racing to the school bus, more often than not, my method results in not quite hard-boiled eggs, so unappetizing that the child would rather run to the bus hungry.

Why do hard-boiled eggs matter?  Well, they don't, really.  They just struck me as a way of thinking about how creativity, great as it is, often needs to go hand in hand with practicality in order to be fully realized.

When I was at One Life to Live, I was a little bit of both--the practical person, who made sure we did as much as possible with our studio time, and the creative person, who tried to find the best performances or camera angles to tell a story.  In either case, I worked side by side with the other type of person--as the practical person, I could say to a director or producer, "that egg won't be hard-boiled in six minutes."  As the creative person, I had to listen when a producer said to me, "if that egg can't be hard-boiled in six minutes, you should figure out a different kind of egg to make."

As a freelancer, particularly on jobs I do from home, I have to be both people, often without benefit of the "other type of person." It is up to me to say, "Much as I'd like to, I can't make you that kind of egg with that amount of time," or "what about trying this other kind of egg?"

I have to say, I really miss having my side-by-side people.  While I certainly enjoy both the creative and the practical sides of what I do, it is tremendously hard to do them together and alone, to be both the reminder and the remindee, both the creator and the technician, both the editor and the assistant.

Today's hard-boiled egg lunch turned out fine.  I was so busy working that my creative approach left them cooking just long enough to be good for egg salad.  But I was so impatient to eat them, I skipped the bread and went right for the bowl!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Civic Duties

I should have ventured out to vote when I woke up at 6:30, but somehow, with no school buses to make and a whole lot of video to edit, I never made it out.  So I went many edits later, two kids in tow, and waited for about two hours.  It's a good thing that I had a bunch of work under my belt at that point (never enough, but a bunch), because two hours of trying to explain the long, slow-moving lines and the importance of voting to two kids left me pretty wiped out.

Not wiped out were the kids from the school where I voted, who tirelessly hawked baked goods and Halloween candy, all to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  This is the same school that is staying open till 8:30 each night to give people without power a place to be, meaning that the "victims" include families from our neighborhood.


It's not easy to raise good citizens.  So many things compete for our interest and attention, and sometimes, even for an adult, it's hard to see how our efforts make a difference.  If it's a leap of faith for us, how can we make our kids understand why it matters to wait on line to vote?  Somewhat easier, I have found, is to have them help make sandwiches for the food bank when our synagogue does that or donate extra blankets and hats to hurricane victims, knowing that the cold we are feeling on our way home from school is much worse for the children without heat or housing.  As with making good TV, the key to success is creating a truly relatable story.

I'll admit, I didn't do a great job occupying or convincing my children during our time on the voting line (though they've been quite interested in the election coverage on TV, so maybe their waiting time did make an impression).  I can only hope that
tomorrow, when we drop off blankets and winter gear, my kids will understand, in some small way, that the little things they do DO matterWhether it's lining up or dropping off or spreading on (the PB&J on the food bank sandwiches)--those little things, even when they're done by little people, CAN make a real difference. 

I'll have to remember that myself.

Monday, November 5, 2012


The day we walked down 18 dark flights of stairs to leave our dark apartment, I wore my $10 Kmart sneakers.  An obvious choice--no reason for any additional instability when walking down stairs in the dark.  And since those were the shoes on my feet, they continued to be what I wore for our days of "camping out."  In all my years of working, I have worn non-novelty (I have an excellent pair of peace sign high tops that spent many a day on my feet) sneakers to work so few times, I could count the times on one hand and have fingers left over.  My husband, who wears sneakers every day to work in his lab and teach at a university, is amused at the number of different pairs of shoes I wear, but has given up commenting, except if I wear shoes that make noise.

We are now back from our travels, and I once again have access to my shoes (we're not talking a huge collection here, just a little variety).  And what have I worn since we got back?  My sneakers.  Granted, I worked from home today.  But when we went to a concert tonight, while I considered changing into something more "concert-worthy," in the end, I went in sneakers.  There is somehow a level of security, stability, preparedness that they provide, and I guess some part of me is not ready to give that up yet.  If I need to run, I can run.  If I need to climb stairs, I can do that too.  And if I just need my feet and the body they hold up to be on stable ground, no other shoe I have--casual, dressy, or novelty--does the job quite the way my sneakers do.  And sometimes that is more important than appearance and perception and decorum.  Sometimes security just trumps them all.  At least for a few days.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Obvious, right?  The first day back, really back (not just climbing 17 flights to feed the fish) in our apartment after almost a week of our nomadic life in the Bronx and upstate.

What should be a tremendous relief--and don't get me wrong, it is--is filled with so much more.  We were, of course, faced with the cleanup of a defrosted refrigerator and toilets I don't even want to talk about.  Messes we just left when we escaped from our dark, non-functioning apartment.  I guess, in hurricanes, as in life, you may be able to run from the messes for a while, but you always end up having to return to clean them up.

For close to a week, we were expected to deal with the ramifications of this event, but in a rather shell-shocked way, with leeway given for slow transportation and with the job of managing our kids' school lives removed.  Now that we are home, there are so many expectations that I am shaking just thinking about them.  I would like to find a newly cleaned and purged refrigerator freeing, but I find myself nervous that it won't contain the foods my children want to eat.  I would like to be happy that my children, who have been rather stir crazy and missing their friends for a week, are going back to the structure of school, but I find myself worried about managing the complicated transportation logistics and homework that come along with getting them educated.  I would like to be thrilled to go back to an easy trip from home to work instead of an odyssey that includes multiple boroughs and 30-40 block walks, but I find myself skittish about going back to my die-hard crosstown bus.

Billy Joel wrote a song (which a friend sang at my wedding) called "You're My Home," in which he talked about home being less about a place and more about the people who are with you, and I'm realizing that perhaps that has been true this last week.  Despite all the craziness, I have been surrounded by my husband and kids, and an extended family of people who helped us get through it all, by refrigerating our food, and giving us beds, and distracting us with great conversation.  So, while it might be nice to sleep in my own bed tonight, perhaps, in a way, I've had a home all week.  Maybe not my own, with the ridiculous numbers of toys and books and plants and stuffed animals, but a home where we could all just be.  Settling back into this one may be a bit harder than I'd imagined.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


You might think this is going to be a post about all the things I am thankful for after the hurricane. And it may yet be.  But the reason I'm writing it is that, for us, today actually was Thanksgiving.  My in-laws, our resident Thanksgiving hosts, are heading down to their winter home early this year, so they rescheduled the holiday--or at least our observance of it--turkey, stuffing, corn pudding, and all.  The only things missing were the Macy's parade and dog show on TV and the several day weekend for eating the leftovers and shopping the outlet sales.

I am not a stranger to rearranged holidays.  My other in-laws used to invite us for Christmas in July and Halloween in September at the campground where they vacationed.  The truth is, if you assemble the people and the traditions, it ends up not mattering much what date the calendar says.  And at One Life to Live, we always taped the Halloween show around the beginning of school, the Thanksgiving show around Halloween, and the Christmas and New Year's shows just after we came back from Thanksgiving weekend.

So on this, the 3rd of November, when we haven't even changed the clocks to "fall back" yet, we sat around a table eating too much food, talking about family and politics and what everyone's been doing since last year.  We read last year's "I'm thankful for" feathers (an activity my daughter started a year ago) and laughed at how easily we could pair thankfuls and people.  And when two loads of dishes were done, we continued with pie, as if it were well into November.

I have no idea what we will do a few weeks from now, when we are faced with a four-day Thanksgiving weekend and are surrounded by people talking turkey.  Who knows?  I might think it should be Christmas vacation by then!  In the meantime, this turned out to be a nice time to be thankful. And I imagine it wouldn't hurt to do it all over again soon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Campout Conversations

Camping out with relatives this week provided us with some very interesting conversations.  I found out a whole lot about my husband's back story (oops, soap opera term, I mean family history) and a whole lot about growing tomatoes in an apartment (really!)

One of the most interesting conversations, though, was a proposal to devote the next week of school to a multidisciplinary exploration of the hurricane, from the math and science of how and why it hit to the history of natural disasters here and elsewhere to the art generated by the kids' seeing things they'd never seen before to them writing about how the pieces of the situation affected them and their families.

Such an exploration is unlikely to happen.  With five lost school days, it will be all the schools can do just to catch up with their scheduled work.  Given that my kids all go to schools that draw from wide geographic areas, though, I imagine they will get a great deal of education from their fellow students, from those relatively unaffected to those who evacuated by choice or not by choice to those whose lives might be affected for a long time.

I know that once school resumes, we will get caught back up in the everyday chaos of plain old daily life, but I have hope that, even if we never get around to talking about the science or the math or the history, we will take the time to process what happened, both the downed trees and deep water and darkness parts--and the kindness of relatives part.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Skies (And Minds) Are Clearing

It will be a long time before the fallout of the storm fades away. For many, it will be months or more before their lives return to normal.  But tonight, for the first time in days, my head is starting to clear. Which is good, because any day now, I'll be scrambling to catch up on the home editing our power failure brought to a standstill and, oh, yeah, looking for a new gig.  Amazing how fast a few week gig goes--even when a hiatus and a hurricane spread it out!

I met my "showrunner" today, a non-New Yorker who commented on how friendly and helpful she saw New Yorkers being in the aftermath of the storm.

Perhaps that was the beginning of my head-clearing.  To hear from someone who could observe that the city I call home will come out okay was oddly reassuring, and her excitement about moving on to her next place was a reminder to me that when one challenge ends, another can begin.  I have a feeling that will be my job search mantra this time out.  That, and the knowledge that, given the chance, I can learn a whole lot of things.

This week alone, I mastered walking down 17 flights of stairs (well, not mastered, but got a whole lot better), learned how to cook okra (it was about to be a casualty of our freezer defrosting--what else could I do?), and, oh, yes, figured out how to put a paint effect on track 2 so that it does exactly what I want it to do (don't worry, if you're not an editor, you don't need to have any idea what that means!)

We can all bounce back, in one way or another, from one thing or another, whether it's a storm, or a job loss, or anything else that changes our life.  Because life will change. It will.  But if we're lucky enough to happen upon (or surround ourselves with) people who give us the time to change, and learn, and--this part is key--we embrace the changing and learning, we're likely to bounce back so well, there will be no bringing us down.