Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do You Speak My Language?

(co-written with my daughter)

One of my daughters takes French in school. I was pretty excited when she chose French--while I might not be able to help her sister with Spanish or either of them with advanced math, I figured I could handle French.  After all, I did take French for 4 years in high school and several years in college (and spent a very quiet week living with a French family). How hard could it be to help my daughter, particularly with her first year?

Tomorrow, she has a quiz.  A little verb conjugation, days of the week--things like that. So she came to me for studying help.  After all, I'm the one who took years of French. And even if I barely spoke to my exchange family, I did survive, so I must know something.  Right?

I'm good with the days of the week. But how do you conjugate the verb 'avoir'? Uh, oh. Is this the same French?

We were fine, but it did make me think about how, as one navigates job changes, one of the challenges is reconciling the language barriers.  Is something called a Voiceover or an OTF? Depends on whether you're working in scripted TV or reality (and terms even vary from show to show).  Is the schedule called the Order of the Day, Way of the Day, or Rundown?  When you're editing, are you pulling up or trimming?  Sliding or rolling?  Depends on the edit system you're using.  And these are just terms within a specific field. What about when you're exploring a brand new field?  You may think you know your native language, but do you, really?

So, this year has been a series of language lessons for me, and not just brushing up on my French to help my daughter.  It's hard to visit new places without learning the language first, so language learning, it appears, will be an education that lasts a lifetime.  And while helping my daughter might make me ready for a trip to France (ooh, that'd be nice!), learning the assorted languages of work will help me too--for some interesting journeys a little closer to home.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Don't Feel No Ways Tired

My husband would take exception with this title, as he, a night person, rarely sees me, a morning person, NOT tired. But no matter, a title is a title, and since I am, in fact, writing today before I've gotten tired, it works, even if it bears no resemblance to how I talk.  Or write.

The title is actually a line from a song used on One Life to Live. Many years ago, in an effort to attract a more diverse audience, the show introduced rap and gospel music storylines.  I don't remember much about the rap story, but the central song from the gospel portion, sung at the time by the fantastic Valerie Pettiford, has stuck with me for close to 20 years.

"I don't feel no ways tired. I've come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy.  I don't believe he's brought me this far to leave me."

Say what you want about the religious part (it WAS part of a gospel storyline).  The rest of it is empowering both on good days and on bad ones.  It celebrates what you've already accomplished, and how that can keep you going to the next step.

All too often, we focus on the shortcomings of now, rather than the strengths of days past.  Chances are, no matter where we are today, we HAVE come a long way, either personally, professionally, or both.  So, to stop now, because we've wearied of the current journey--that would be like giving up all that progress.  And whether you consider "I don't believe he's brought me this far to leave me" religious or not, it is a reminder that we all have company--supporters in our daily journeys and struggles.

So, I imagine I will still be singing this song another 20 years from now.  It resonates as strongly for me today as it did back then.  The road may not always be easy, but I've got friends and good music to keep me company.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Feeding Your Audience

Yesterday, in the midst of traveling home from afterschool, my son announced that he would be making dinner.  He is 8.

"What are you making?" I asked, to which he replied that it was a surprise.

"What if not everyone likes what you decide to make?" I asked.

"You guys always make things I don't like, and I just find stuff in the fridge.  They can just do that."

And then and there, his battle was won.

At the age of 8, my son is an excellent negotiator.  He knows what he wants, and he knows what words to use to sway his audience.  And in life, often that's half--no, more than half--the battle.

Freelancing, particularly freelancing in multiple arenas, is a lot like that.  On a daily basis, I find that I am redefining how I present myself, based on the people I'm approaching.  On the down side, it sometimes makes me unsure of exactly who I am each day.  On the up side, it reminds me that if I can sell myself to so many different audiences, my skill set must pretty big.  So, while my powers of persuasion might not be QUITE as good as my son's, I can say that I taught him at least a bit of what he knows.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, the dinner my son made was bacon/hot dog/cheese/lettuce sandwiches.  And while some people did supplement it with trips to the fridge, it was generally considered a success.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

One Short Day in the Gray, Snowy City

I woke up this morning to The New York Times reporting that companies actually give employees incentives to refer friends for jobs--incentives that make it virtually impossible for an unconnected job seeker ever to get in.  The article went on to say that job search sites can actually put applicants in an even worse position, since many company recruiters practically disregard these applicants without a second thought.

I could have let this article ruin my dayIt seemed so bleak in terms of job searching and in terms of humanity.  Instead, I let the article turn my day around.

The day began (well, began again after children were off to school) not with reading numerous listings, but with emails to friends and former coworkers.  And saying yes to a volunteering request.  And what came out of it was, well, just what the article was focusing on--conversations between people who knew each other. Who could reel off each others strengths and weaknesses without a resume to help them.  It was the kind of referral that the article said companies thought made for the best employees.

I won't attribute my productive day to a newspaper article. Maybe it was saying yes to the volunteering request.  Or the crisp snowy air.  Perhaps it was the accomplishment of laundry started at 6am.  Or maybe it was just some unexplainable good karma.

But the article did make me think.  And look at things in a different way.  It's kind of great how something you read or someone you talk to can do that.  Hey, the days are short.  So you may as well do anything you can do to make the most of each hour.  Your next referral--and your next job--might depend on it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Dinner With...

Last night, I had dinner with a bunch of former coworkers. Each is at a different place in his or her life, some successful, some searching for success, or, at least, answers.  I would say I fell somewhere in the middle.  It is both exhilarating and sad to reunite with a group of people who shared your daily life for so many years.  It took me a while to recover from both the up and the down.

When in the company of people looking for work, or perhaps more fulfilling work, it is hard to avoid talking about the job search process in between reminiscing about old times. And so it was that I found myself talking to one of the people there about resume words, and quantifying, and translating call sheets into spreadsheets.  It was all very smart, really, it was. And yet, there was something kind of sad about taking the creative out of it all.  While I knew she was right about people understanding numbers more than stories, and while I knew that she was only talking about playing the game as it needed to be played, I couldn't help but resist the idea.

And despite my resistance right now, when I sit down at the computer tomorrow, I will probably take her words to heart and draft yet another resume, this time making me the person who has edited x-hundred episodes of television and saved x-many thousands of dollars by being a proactive crew manager. And perhaps this new resume will land me a job in a field I never imagined. The stories behind all that television might matter to me, but the skills I used and honed there are what the recipients of my emails and applications need to see.

So, thank you, my dinner companions, for sharing an evening complete with laughs and lots of hugs.  And thank you too, for pushing me to keep moving forward. I imagine that's something we all have to do.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

You Can Bank On It

We spent a large part of today at the bank.  Okay, that sounds insane, but a new bank opened by us today, and the opening day festivities were the best free entertainment we've had in a while.  There was music, and a dancing woman on stilts (who, I think, danced on stilts for four hours straight).  There were free hot dogs, and scratch and win cards (we didn't win money, but we now have enough squishy apples to take care of a LOT of stress!)  To top it all off, the neighboring office supply store joined in with all sorts of one dollar goodies.

And, as I often ask, why is this blogworthy?

I am sure the bank calculated the cost of its grand opening against the extra business it would get.  But, the truth is, no matter how calculated it may have been, it gave us a good feeling about that bank that will likely last a long time.  Meaning that, if many other people walked away feeling as we did, it was money well spent.

Making people think you appreciate them, whether by giving them praise or by giving them free stuff, tends to make for happy people.  I still smile when I put on one of the many pieces of show logo clothing I was given when I worked on Cosby.  And I still smile when someone totally gets what I do or gets what I have written, and thanks me for it.  The cost of appreciation may vary, but what it buys is almost always worth it.

Sometimes I wish I were a boss, so I could be the one in a position to give the appreciation.  When I worked in TV control rooms, I always announced the end of the day with, "That's it everybody.  Thanks very much." And though what I said was the same each night, perhaps as if pre-recorded, it was as sincere the last night as it had been the first.  Just as the bank worked to make sure people today walked away happy, I really did believe people should walk away happy after working hard all day.  And that walking away happy would mean walking back happy tomorrow.

So, someday, when I am a boss--whether in television or in cookie-making or in who-knows-what, I look forward to finding lots of ways to appreciate the people who make things work.  You can bank on it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Kids at Heart

I love the Muppets.  I love marshmallows and stuffed animals and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus.  I guess you could say I'm a kid at heart.  And I know that this has guided my exploration of children's media.  There is a warmth in so much of the content made for children that I can't help responding to, on a deep, gut level. You may not need to be a grown up kid to make content for children, but I'm sure it doesn't hurt.

The kid at heart thing doesn't hurt when you're a parent either.  It's far more fun to read picture books to your kids over and over when you love them yourself.  And you're a much more convincing hero or villain in a game of pretend when you can happily throw yourself into it.

The only problem is, kids need more than just picture books and pretend, and making content for children requires more than just loving cute, furry characters.

In the course of my job exploration, I have looked into many things, those that spoke to my heart and those that spoke closer to my bank account.  What's great about having to search is that your world opens up.  You feel that suddenly, there are so many possibilities, so many opportunities to do what you always wanted to do.  But, as in parenthood (or perhaps because of it), what "you've always wanted to do" is not the only consideration.  Children need more than just picture books and pretend, and, it turns out, "kid at heart" parents need more too.

When I stepped onto the set of One Life to Live almost 25 years ago, I stepped into "what I always wanted to do," which was a tremendously lucky opportunity for someone just starting out.  And, while those "stepping into" opportunities are amazing, parenthood, even when you have to be a grownup to do it, is pretty amazing too.  So, if my next "what I always wanted" opportunity has to wait a little, that's okay. My kids and I will still have our picture books and our marshmallows, our stuffed animals and our Muppets.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Did you ever notice that children can see or hear something, not react at all, almost as if they'd never seen or heard, then start discussing that something three months later? Clearly, they are processing, making sense of what they heard or saw, and it is only months later that they can articulate their reaction.

I have found that this is not a phenomenon only for children.  As I sit down to write a post every day, I often think that a topic will be obvious.  It will come from a conversation or an observation or a significant event from the day.  Yet, as I sit down, sometimes those things overwhelm me.  Just because you've had a revelation doesn't mean you've had a chance to process it, particularly to process it enough to write several hundred witty words about it.  So, like a child, you focus on other things, as if the revelation had never occurred.

The result of my need to process could have been a post today about buses or running or band concerts or the cold. But since I've covered most of those areas before, and, by golly, I'm not using this blog to talk about the weather, what you're getting is a glimpse both into my process and into my processing.  These days, as I straddle the worlds of work and motherhood and transportation coordination, a tremendous amount of information comes in daily.  While at some point, the conversations I've had these last few days may provide hugely insightful blog content, they're still in the processor. And when I least expect it, I'll just start discussing them. (Hopefully not like a young child bringing up a dead relative while standing in a grocery store checkout line). 

So, in the words of those very wise (or just wise-sounding) deep-voiced soap opera announcers, stay tuned, and probably not just till tomorrow, to see where my process--and my processing--will take me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Units of Measure

My son started a new math unit in school today.  His homework asked things like "what tool would you use to measure a fence around a basketball court?" and "what tool would you use to measure the strap on your backpack?"  It seemed to me somewhat odd to be focusing on the tools, rather than jumping right in and measuring stuff, but I guess it is important to know how you'll be measuring before you just try to do it.  In any case, all the talk of measuring got me thinking about how I measure things--not lengths and weights, but things like pros and cons, and time.

Today, I spent several hours as part of a group of moms waiting for kids, some of us friends, some just acquaintances.  I'm not used to spending hours that way, but it didn't really seem like hours. It just seemed like time.  How do you measure that?  In what you could have done had you not been sitting there?  In the pages you could have written, or the errands you could have run, or the money you didn't spend?

And for pros and cons--
Once upon a time, my life was at least partly on autopilot. The same job, the same bus/train commute, the same babysitters.  Nothing to do but forge ahead.  But, when the autopilot is turned off, when every decision comes with pros and cons, what tool do you use to measure those?  Is it an Excel spreadsheet, or columns on a scrap of paper?  Is it the voices in your own head, or the advice of people you trust?  And when measuring, do the pros and the cons start holding equal or unequal weight?


Clearly, as my son is learning, measuring is a lot more than numbers and lines on a ruler or scale.  Whether you're a third-grader or a grownup, how you measure matters at least as much as what you find when you do.  Today, my sitting for hours could be measured as a waste of time, but, with the tools I'm using, it was actually hours of new knowledge and connection flowing in, and no money flowing out.  As for the pros and cons, I can't say which holds more weight, and maybe that balance changes in every situation, just as whether I chart them in Excel or on scrap paper will change.  And while the lists will always be useful, for me, they will always go hand in hand with friends' advice and my own heart.  My units of measure might not be the most scientific, but sometimes the pieces of life aren't so scientific either.

I guess maybe it's good I don't have turn in worksheets to a teacher every day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What A Year It's Been

It would be hard to write today's post without acknowledging the day's casting announcements for the new One Life to Live.  After all, without One Life to Live, there would be no NotWashedUpYet. I might be writing, but I would surely have chosen a different blog title.

Both core and supporting actors have signed on.  It appears that what was once just an idea may actually become a reality.  A year ago, it would have been hard to imagine, but, as I know better than anyone, a lot of things can change in a year.  And while I and many of the other cast and crew members may join together to make a show that has the same name as before, I imagine it will be a new show in many ways, a show infused with the experiences all the people involved have had in the last 12-18 months. Because that's how life is.  What happens each day matters, and informs what will happen the next.

My high school history teacher started every year by showing an episode of Star Trek in which the smallest change in a civilization made radical changes in the future of that civilization.  His point, that every event, even a small one, in history, could impact countless things after, was pretty powerful.

We are not the same people we were a year ago.  But as dedicated as people were, right up to the end of that One Life to Live, I am sure that the new One Life to Live team will be just as dedicated. To working together, to learning together, and to telling great stories, stories that can't help but reflect what a year it's been.

Monday, January 21, 2013


In my early days working on soaps, there were no days off, except on rare occasions when the show was preempted for a news event, like today's inauguration. (Okay, perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but there was a year when my family had Thanksgiving in my small Hoboken apartment so that I could work the next day.)

By the time my soap days were over, production had been consolidated so much for cost-cutting purposes that there were weeks off all over the place, once in a while in sync with my children's school schedules, sometimes completely not, so even at the end, it was rare for me to be home with my kids on a weekday.  They'd be sleeping, enjoying the benefits of a school-free day (which they'd spend with a sitter or at vacation camp), while I headed off to work, business as usual.

I always thought, "I wish I could be home with them and do something special for the day off." But today, as we are making our way through Martin Luther King Day, there has been no earth-shatteringly special event or outing.  Just some homework, some jockeying for computer time, and lunch together.  Not so different from what we'd do on a normal weekend day.  Yet, for me, it is special.  I know that I will soon be back to not sharing their vacation days, back to getting them up early to drop them off at vacation camp or leaving them sleeping while I race away.  So today, I am relishing our nothing-special day together.  There may be a whole lot of perks I'll be happy to have with my next job, but, for now, I might as well enjoy the perks of this job (or lack of one, depending on your point of view).

So, sorry, folks, your regularly scheduled day has been preempted.  Tune in tomorrow for the next chapter in the continuing saga of "Not Washed Up Yet."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

More Than Just Dust Bunnies

Today, as a part of cleanup in my kids' room, my daughter shimmied under her sister's bed to see why her trundle wouldn't push all the way in. What she found included practically a full load of assorted laundry (no wonder they never have any pairs of socks!), a book or two, random earrings, and, of course, a few dust bunnies.

I suspect that almost all of my weekend blog posts involve some cleaning-related topic--we tend to spend at least some part of Saturday and Sunday recovering from a week's or multiple week's worth of chaos.  But in the case of the under-bed discoveries, the standard "why do we have to clean?" moans turned into "oh, my gosh, I was wondering what happened to that!" gasps.

Sometimes it takes a lot of digging to find what you've been missing.  Whether it's a sock or a new path that you need, days and weeks of highly efficient excavation don't necessarily do the trick.  Sometimes it takes looking at things from a completely different angle.

As I watched my daughter, who is now almost too big to fit under the bed, throw items out from the abyss, I laughed at how obvious a place it was to look when we were missing things, and yet, how it took needing to solve the "bed won't move" problem even to think about looking there.

Which means I should probably not sit in the same chair every time I job search.  And not take the same path every time I pick up a child from school.  That I should mix up my routine and work to fix the little things, both so that they'll be fixed, and so that I'll get to see things from a different angle. As I discovered today, sometimes that really makes the difference.

And for another angle change,  eating breakfast while standing on my head.  Okay, never mind.  You can shake up my routine, but, whatever you do, don't mess with breakfast.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Network/Net Worth

It's easy to feel very alone in the job exploration process.  A friend of mine said recently that Americans, more so than people in any other country, define themselves by their work. The by-product of this phenomenon is that when we are not working steadily, or at something we are proud to call our own, we are a little bit lost, unable to define exactly who we are and where we fit.  So we try to fit in a lot of places, reworking our list of skills and keywords so that it lines up with the things that come along.

The good news is that, every so often, you come across people who help.  Who, either because they know you, or because they recognize parts of your background, know exactly where you fit.  Sometimes it's exactly where you fit before, and sometimes it's someplace new, but either way, it is a welcome change from the square peg/round hole status quo.  In a culture where we are defined by our work, this is more than just a gift of employment.  It's a gift of identity.

For quite some time, I have been forwarding job leads to many people with whom I've worked (to the point that many of them suggested I work in Human Resources).  I can't say that most of my leads have actually gotten anybody anything, but I keep doing it.  Why wouldn't I want to share the talents of people I've enjoyed working with?  Why wouldn't I want to share whatever I can with people who have made my work life better?

And, in some ways, that's what networking is all about.  It may not replace handing out business cards and working your LinkedIn account, but it comes much closer to putting forth the real you than any handshake and 2x3 piece of card stock could.

So, I will continue to play "agent" (as people have called me), and I will continue to thank goodness for the people who "get me" and "get me in." No amount of keyword matches will ever match that.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Another Week End

It's Friday again.  We made it through another week, school bus strike, cold weather, and all.  We used to go to karate on Fridays, but these days, we've taken to collapsing. It's the weekend, after all, right?

This particular Friday, I decided to shake things up.  Risky, I know, but sometimes you just have to.  And sometimes, despite the fact that you train your kids to speak their minds, you have to remind them that a family is not always a democracy.


I'll admit, it wasn't easy to get all three kids to Shabbat services.  But where there's a will, there's a way, so a bus ride later, we were there.  As two kids dozed on my arms, I drank in the familiar and unfamiliar music (nowhere but our temple is the music reminiscent of Broadway).  And I then I heard the words that would ring true in the moment and stick with me even after.  "This week is done. There's nothing you can do to change it.  And next week hasn't started, so you don't have to worry about it yet. Just be in the moment here, now."

As a person who is always juggling family schedules and trying to execute them, and attempting new challenges that don't necessarily work out, I am always both looking ahead and glancing back.  So, the invitation to let it all go, to look neither forward nor back, was practically earth-shattering. And while the feeling didn't necessarily last through the whole evening, for just a moment, I forgave myself for the week's failures. I let my mind stop racing about next week's challenges.  And I just appreciated the fact that children were sleeping on my arms.  Sleeping on my arms, but there.

I'm glad we had that moment, and that we had it together. It's the week's end, and it's a weekend.  This week is over. And next week will just have to wait.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Glasses Half Full of Lemons into Lemonade

In light of the New York City school bus strike, my scooter-obsessed son has taken a break from the scooter.  You see, now he has a student MetroCard, given only to kids who don't ride the school bus. He had been begging me for months to buy him his own MetroCard (to which I'd replied, "Where are you planning to go by yourself?"), and now he has one (even if I hold on to it for safekeeping between dropoff and pickup). So, despite the fact that the bus strike forces him to get up and out earlier, and to be part of picking up his sister, who doesn't have a bus either, he is happy, because he has his very own MetroCard.  Without even trying, he has happily turned lemons into lemonade.

Would that it were so easy for us grownups to do the lemonade thing.  I consider myself a generally "glass half full" kind of person, but there comes a time when putting a positive spin on things that aren't so positive is just HARD. Not having enough work may mean more time with my kids but also means less money to keep them "equipped" and less feeling of self-worth to keep me sane.  For better or for worse, I've become too much of a grownup to see just the positive. So I settle for finding little positives, like a laugh with a friend, or an excellent hot shower, my cousin's blog "Virtual Jar," or a bag of cookie crumbs falling right side up rather than all over the floor.  And some days, the little positives add up, and by day's end, the glass actually feels half-full.

So, while the bus strike continues, we will likely take lots of buses with my son's prized MetroCard. And courtesy of all of it, my networking days will start later and end earlier (which I actually might be able to spin as a positive, since I tend to accomplish more on tighter deadlines).  I guess maybe I am that "glass half full" person after all.


Make my half-full glass lemonade.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I have spent many years being the person who was running around so much, no one ever saw me stand still long enough to ask me to commit to anything.  I showed up when I could, and that was enough.  It HAD to be enough.

Now that I am not just dropping off and running or picking up and running, people are asking me to commit--to take a part in what's going on.  Nothing terribly huge, but a commitment nonetheless.

It's not that I never wanted to commit before.  It's just that there was never any time. I was committed to my family and committed to my job, and there was not much more of me to commit to anything else.

Now that I have slowed down enough to be asked, I almost don't know how to react. Will I keep moving this slowly and still have the time for the commitment? And is it possible that even if I don't keep moving slowly, I should be committing anyway?  Is it simply part of being a responsible adult?  A part that I have somehow avoided in my mad dash of work?  I look around and see how many things get done because people, no matter what their circumstances, commit to making sure they DO get done.  So, who am I to stand on the sidelines, waiting for what might be, instead of engaging in what is?

For years, I have committed to my work and my family, and I will continue to do so. But now it's time to start committing to a few other things.  To take this slowed down time as the opportunity to say yes, to commit to being part of the rest of what's around me. To being a part of how things get done.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Interview Bag

When I was pregnant, I was constantly reading about how, when it was close to the end, you should pack a bag of necessary supplies--your "hospital bag"--so that when the time came and you were in no position to think, you'd be ready.

Having had an interview today, I have decided that I should pack an "interview bag," so that on interview days, when I may be thinking about the company or the person I'm meeting, I don't have to worry about whether I get what I need into a respectable looking bag.

How, you might ask, would an interview bag differ from my day-to-day bag?  Well, in my case, it's a bag.  I have, you see, finally perfected the art of traveling around the city bag-less, my important things in my pockets.  After years of carting a backpack just about everywhere, I have realized that I actually don't need a backpack full of stuff (and it becomes full very quickly!) everywhere I go.

So, back to the "interview bag."  What would be the necessary supplies that would live there in preparation for "the big day" (or "big days," since interviews, unlike childbirth, generally happen more than once!)?

1. A hard copy resume (will need to be checked regularly, so that a resume from three months ago doesn't go to the interview and make people wonder what you have been doing for the last three months).

2. A pen.  Yes, you can take notes on a smartphone, but a pen probably makes more sense.

3. A small notebook (to go with the above pen).

4. A hairbrush. As good as you might look when you leave the house, you never look quite like that once you've taken a series of buses and trains to get there.

5. Tissues.  Because when you're rushing from bus to train to interview location, you will likely either sweat or sniffle or both.  Enough said.

If I thought a little more, I'm sure my "interview bag" would end up quite full.  But as far as I can tell, these five things will have me (and you) showing up at an interview ready for anything.

Now, if only an interview could hand you a fairly definite payoff the way childbirth does...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Still in the Game

Today, my former colleagues and I put together our entry for the Daytime Emmy awards.  Hard to believe it's been a year since the last time, and even harder to believe that we are doing it on our own, without the assistance of a producer assigned to Emmy coordination (though, with only 10 One Life to Live episodes having spilled over into 2012, there weren't huge decisions to make).  We have all moved on in the last year, each in our own way, yet the process of gathering information for the entry has brought us back together, even if just to exchange addresses and war stories.

When we were all working on the show, it was we, the editors, who helped every other department, particularly the ones who could submit pieces from multiple shows, to organize their clips for the Emmys.  It was one of my favorite jobs--not only could I use my technical expertise to edit a nice-looking reel, I could have a real say about the clips they chose to use. In addition, I got wonderful insight into how different departments worked, and how they made their decisions. What made the costume designers choose certain clothing items over others, and how did they make their choices work when the show was so often shot out of order?  What best showcased the work of the lighting or scenic designers, and how could the casting directors best demonstrate how well they had chosen actors for the show?

It's different to do our own editing submission in a vacuum. Obviously, we hope to win--doesn't everybody?--but being part of so many other submissions had us invested in the winners of many categories, and that was a good feeling.  So, today, although we are still in the game, the game has changed from football to gymnastics. Back then, we worked with many teams, each with a purpose, but now, our achievements are more individual.  While I have no doubt that we will all congratulate each other on Facebook or by email, it won't be the same as having invested time and talent to make sure ALL the submissions are as good as they can be.

I am excited about all the things we have each accomplished since the last Emmy submission deadline.  All-told, a whole lot of us are still in the game--even if the game is different-- and that's great.  I just sometimes wish we were still playing on the same team.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life of Work, Work of Life

For years, I came home late many days a week, often just in time to eat, hug my kids, and go to bed. The babysitter who shepherded the kids all day kept our apartment orderly and made sure that the kids' clothes were bagged when they got too small or were out of season and left us piles of our freshly washed clothes every Monday.

Those days seem like a long time ago.  The kids are older now, less in need of constant babysitting, and I'm here most days, working from home or looking for the next thing I'll do. After a life of work, I am now surrounded by the work of life. The organizing of three small (well, not so small anymore) beings.  Laundry and cooking and disposing of dead fish and making sure the clothes are bagged (these days, long after they are outgrown).  It's not work--my bank account would know if it were--and yet, it is. Work that I have fought against, some days with more energy than I can afford to spend on such a fight, but work that has to be done.  And, on a day like today, work that lets me escape from what's missing and focus on what's not.  My family is healthy. I have friends with whom I actually have time to talk.  I have a husband who has been ridiculously patient with the working out of this new situation and children who know (well, at least sometimes) when to hand me their stuffed animals to make me feel better and when just to leave me alone to work it out.

I wish I could say that doing the work of life each day was resulting in a home worthy of Martha Stewart or at least as organized as our sitter always made it.  Not even close. But, unlike a life of work, the work of life goes on daily, so who knows, there may be hope for me yet.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Note

New Note. That's what the notes app on my iPod says when I start writing a blog post there.  When I started this blog, I was a die-hard write it by hand first person.  Little by little, however, I have begun to compose electronically. Perhaps I've been inspired by my daughter's composing hundreds of stories on her own iPod, or perhaps I've been motivated by the need for efficiency, when many days, I don't write until late.

Whatever the reason, I start by looking at a screen blank except for "New Note." On the days when I haven't yet settled on a topic, it's overwhelming.  On the days when the idea is already living in my head, my thumbs fly on the tiny keyboard, faster even than when I used to compose on paper, barely even aware of "New Note."

The truth is, every day starts as a "New Note" in our lives, if we let it.  Each day, we have a chance to start something brand new.  For me, there are days when that's exciting, and days when it is terrifying. On the one hand, it would be nice to know exactly what I'd be facing each morning--where I'd be going, who I'd see or talk to, how I'd define myself, who'd call or write.  On the other hand, there's something very freeing about being able to start over each morning, not bound by the failures of yesterday.  And not resting on yesterday's successes.  This blog may be a daily reminder to do something new, but if I have been using my time well, there have been many "New Notes" in my day before I ever sit down to write. Because starting a new note each day is not just about writing a blog.  It's about a way of living.

Oh, and speaking of "New Notes," notwashedupyet crossed the 7000 pageviews mark today.  Thanks for reading And may your tomorrow be full of "New Notes."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Stop, Look, and Listen

Tonight, I had the privilege of seeing an early version of a documentary film called Alive Inside, which showcases the work of Music and Memory, an organization trying to get iPods with personalized music selections into the hands of nursing home residents and Alzheimer's patients across the U.S.  The effects of personally relevant music on the lives of the older people in the film were staggering--people with little access to their memories could be almost taken back in time by listening to music they loved in childhood.  Clearly, as the film asserted, music is able to reach beyond the ordinary pathways of brain or memory function.

Now, I am not a nursing home patient, and aside from forgetting sometimes where I put down my cup of coffee, I have a reasonably good memory. Yet, the power of music to evoke feelings or times past definitely resonated with me.  A piece of music popping into my head often prompts a blog post. A song on the radio can make me cry in two seconds flat.  Even at my synagogue, where I saw the film, I am struck on a regular basis by how the liturgical music transports me back to my childhood going to services with my family.

So, why am I writing about this? Well, I can't help but hope it will lend support to the really good people who were involved with the film and the people who are affected by getting music in their lives.  And, it was something that transformed the tone of my day, which made it blogworthy.  And, it was a reminder that it's really good each day to stop and hear the music, stop and see what's around you, stop and think about what you can do to make something outside of yourself just a little better.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

One Day, Many Me's

I put my kids on their school buses this morning, as I do every day.  Then I took my dressed-up self to a screening program called Prix Jeunesse Suitcase, where I spent several hours watching children's television shows from all over the world (thinking great thoughts about how I might someday be involved with making such programs), pausing every so often to read or answer a job search related email.  After a brief stop at home to process a bit more job search stuff, I met my daughter to take her to her Guys and Dolls rehearsal, then spent the time she was there acquiring a multi-part birthday present for her friend.  Then home to serve dinner, and, oh, have a phone conversation with an editing client and another with a former co-worker about the state of the OLTL online venture.  So, who exactly was I today?

The day that I have described is probably no crazier than that of any working mom, and I am certainly no stranger to crazy days.  What was interesting to me about today was not so much how many things I did, but how many different people I was during the day.  From mom, to children's media professional, to mom again, to personal shopper, to chef (okay, not really, I did takeout!), to freelancer, to used to be soaper. Oh, and now, to blogger.

There are days when the "me's" flow seamlessly together. Today, it felt almost as though I was living separate days, completely in one world, then completely in another. Which, I guess, is evidence of my dedication to each, AND is the reason I'm a bit tired.  If each of these things was like a different day, it's been hundreds of hours since I got up this morning!

The glory of having so many "me's," however, is that they allow me to learn about and experience an enormous variety of things.  Were I not a children's media professional (at least an aspiring one), I would never even know about children's TV in other countries and how I can see some of it here.  Had I not spent this last year freelancing, I would not have had the mind-opening, edit-stretching experiences, (not to mention, between-gig stress) that I've had. Were I not a former soaper, I would not have the enormous base of friends/coworkers who, I am reminded every day, helped make me who I am.

On a day like today, I re-decide many times where in the world I will end up, usually starting the decision process all over again tomorrow.  It is too late tonight to decide anything.  I'm just glad to see I still have many "me's" worth of options.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Small Worlds

Congrats to my friends on Days of Our Lives, which was just renewed.  For years, the world of soap production (even when there were many shows) has been oddly small, so people I worked with early in my career are there now, and I'm happy to hear that they still will be.

The small size of the soap world always struck me as interesting--how producers and writers from one show would end up on another, and another, and another.  And, as I explore the non-soap universe, I'm discovering that many other worlds are small too. There may be hundreds of reality shows, but the same names come up over and over as working on them.  There are certainly a large number of children's programs, but they seem to be run by a small number of people whose niche has long been children's programs.

I guess none of this is all that surprising--people look for people they know for sure can do a job, and what better way to know than to see that a person has done a very similar job somewhere else?

How, then, does a person travel from one world to another? Yes, the worlds are small, perhaps with good reason, but how does a  person take what he or she has learned in one world and use it to travel into another?

I read an article today about how criteria in job postings are not only un-diversifying the workforce, but also causing companies to miss out on some of the most qualified candidates.  In many cases, if a candidate doesn't have the requisite number of working years or the desired number of keywords, no one even looks at that person's accomplishments or special skills, so a potentially excellent employee is left sitting at home, sending resumes into the ether, unable to travel from one small world to the next.    

I have seen firsthand the desire to have a new hire just be able to jump in to a job, and, believe me, I have been right here when no number of words translating my skill set to another medium lets me travel from World A to World B.  I can't say I have the solution, but I do hope that, having now seen it from both sides, I will be more open to newcomers in the worlds I inhabit.  The worlds may be small, and getting smaller every day, but that doesn't mean there can't be room for new ideas and new talent alongside the regular inhabitants.

So, congratulations to Days of Our Lives, and to all those who keep working and start working, I hope your small world is the best it can be.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Soap Towns and Villages

It's hard for anyone from the soap world not to feel a little excited today--our medium made it into the New York Times, which has, in my experience, not happened very often.  And, to make it even better, there will be new production in the New York area, a cause that is near and dear to many soap folks' hearts.

I don't know what this will all mean for me.  But today, after many days of approaching my job exploration in an often isolated way, I was reminded that I am part of a community, or perhaps several communities.  Just as it takes a proverbial village to raise a child (and, believe me, I've seen that over and over with my own children), it kind of takes a village to do a lot of things--at least if you want to do them well.  So, while I have been exploring new villages of children's book writers and moms who pick up their kids and reality show staffers, I forgot a bit about the villages I already had, villages that sustained me for years and brought people into my life that I'd love to share a village with again.  The great thing about both the people who help you raise your children and the people who help you raise your career is that they never really go away.  They leave a mark that stays with you.

I imagine that there will still be hours filled with the isolated work of finding exactly where I fit in these days.  But it is nice to remember that I am no more alone than I have ever been as a parent.  It takes a village to raise a child, and it sure doesn't hurt to have a village when you're the one who needs the bringing up.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Exercising Muscles

Thanks to a non-gym-related injury last month (let's just say, unstable chairs and kids don't mix well), I haven't set foot on the elliptical in many weeks. Though I am much better now, each day away makes it harder to walk to the gym in the dark early morning hours. I'm hoping that my desire to go everywhere on foot and my need to keep up with my son's scooter will keep the muscles from going completely south. It's hard to keep up anything you don't do regularly.

My husband and others often wonder how I can come up with something to say in this blog every day.  I'll admit, there are days when it's a challenge, either to have a topic, or to express what's going on in a way that's bloggable--that is, appropriate for reading by the assorted friends, relatives, and potential employers who might check it out on any given day. And yet, like making sure homework is done or starting the dishwasher (wow, those sound mundane!), it is something I commit to doing each day, and my ability to craft a topic, even on a day when no topic is obvious, has increased, just as my time on the elliptical was increasing when I was still going to the gym every day. Muscles get stronger when we use them regularly, and, while I have considered myself a writer for years, these days, I am a writer with stronger muscles because I have pushed myself, even on the days when I don't know what to say, or on the nights I'd rather just fall into bed.

While I accept that my stronger gym muscles are unlikely to turn me into a personal trainer, I would like to think that my stronger writing muscles will help me push open some new doors (pun intended).

One of the interesting things about this past year, a year that began with the end of One Life to Live and ended with what appears to be the show's new beginning, is that I've had the time to exercise some new muscles--leg, head, and otherwise. And, one way or the other, no matter what crazy direction this new year takes, I can say that I'm starting it with my muscles exercised.  And with stronger muscles, how can the rest of me feel anything but strong?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Full Week Ahead!

I'm a little nervous tonight.  After a week and a half of kids on vacation and a shortened school week after, we are heading into a full-blown five-day week.  All the pieces of a real school week, plus the added challenges of new play rehearsals, a few hard tests, and a Friday with five events on the calendar.  And all of that is outside of any job related interactions, interviews, or bookings.  I'm trying not to be exhausted already.

I used to spend a chunk of Sunday typing a detailed email outlining the week's activities for our babysitters, then replying when they asked for clarification (or more often, reminded me of things I'd forgotten).  There was something very comforting about having "members of my team" for the week's adventures.  If they believed all the transporting, however complicated, was possible, then I could believe that too.  These days, I am a captain without a crew, here now, doing each day's transport, but without a crew to celebrate with me when it works and help swab the deck when it doesn't. This is, by no means, a new situation this week, but after a few weeks of slower seas, this captain's just a little worried about rough waters.  Will we really be able to keep up with all the commitments we've made?  Will we get places on time and have time for homework too?  Will this be the week that does us all in?

More likely, it will come and go quickly, just as so many weeks have before and so many will after.  We will quickly forget that 5 days is long.  We will do what needs to be done to get everyone everywhere on time AND home again at the end of each day. And at week's end, we will celebrate AND swab the deck with each other, because that's what families do.

And then, maybe we'll all collapse until the next full week begins.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sleep and Sweden

I met a woman who is visiting her family in NY for a few months because in her native Sweden, during these few months, it gets light at 9am and dark again by 3.  She said that when she's there, she sleeps a lot.  Who wouldn't, when so much of the day was dark?

Who wouldn't?  My kids, that's who!

Now, my oldest is a "don't want to sleep" kid from way back. When she was a baby, she needed rocking to sleep, and if you put her down before her little legs were completely asleep, you'd be rocking her all over again.  But my second welcomed being put down in her crib for the night--as if she'd had enough of us for one day.  And my third spent most of his first few months sleeping in a carrier on my chest (I remember, because my friend, who had had a baby at the same time, could never get her baby to doze off for more than fifteen minutes at a time, for what seemed like ever).

So, why is it that nobody in my house wants to sleep now?

Sometimes, it's homework, I get that.  But most of the time, it's independent of that, AND independent of any knowledge they have of needing to wake up early the next morning.  Can these really be MY children, when I totally relate to the Swedish woman?  Darkness is a step toward sleep.  (Perhaps I could just shut off lights inside to reinforce that).  There are nights when I can barely stay awake long enough to finish the blog that I should have competed earlier in the day, yet, there are my children, awake, perhaps fearing that they'll miss something.  What could they possibly miss besides the "Momster" me I become late at night?  Or the nagging me who interrupts their sleep when I wake them up the next morning?

For tonight, I ask only to finish writing. If I don't have to wake them to go somewhere tomorrow, they can awake away. As long as they don't disturb my snooze while they're doing it.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Let's Put on a Show!

My daughters are both musical theater fanatics.  So much so, that there is almost always a musical theater selection being sung or played in our apartment.  So much so, that one of them wanted only theater tickets for Chanukah (which didn't really happen).  So much so, that that they are both in rehearsals for musical theater productions.  Different musical productions.  Different locations, different performance dates, different rehearsal schedules.  Even when they were in the same show in the fall, their school schedules required that they be in different casts of the show, so again, different just about everything.  And with new opportunities popping up every day, there are times when there are multiple shows for one or both of them.

Now, for a family who has juggled 3 different schools for, well, all the years we've had 3 kids in school, this shouldn't seem too unusual.  But as I sat at the dinner table laying out next week's transportation needs for all the various rehearsals, needs that could easily fill up a flow chart, I was struck by how complicated things can get when you let your kids--not just let, encourage--your kids to do all the exciting things that are put in front of them.  

There was a time when I barely participated in all of the logistics, except for making up a full page note detailing the week's needs for one or more babysitters who would do the daily carting of children.  Oh, and doing damage control when a sitter fell through at the last minute or a pickup time changed.  These days, I tend to do at least some of the schlepping myself, which, you would think, would make me think twice about letting the kids take on activities.  

Apparently, it has done the opposite.  Is it "Supermom" complex--my desire to prove that I CAN do it?  Is it Mommy guilt--a desire to make sure the kids miss out on nothing (even when there are far too many possibilities for any kid ever to do it all)?  Or is it my uncanny ability to leap into what sounds good without first analyzing all the ramifications of the leap?

I'm not sure, but I am fairly sure I'm not alone in this.  Given the number of mothers I see running around daily, I think we probably all try a bit too hard for our kids, then absorb the consequences, some weeks with a smile, others, well, not so much.  I figure for me, there will come a day when either I once again can't participate in the schlepping, or when the kids will be too old to need any schlepping, so if I can do it now, I want to give the kids as much of the advantage of that as possible.

And hey, I like musical theater too, so if I can see a show (or 7 performances of a show) and make a child happy, isn't that a win-win situation?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Obsession and Diversion

The process of getting oneself noticed in the world is not an easy one, and there are days when I am nothing less than obsessed with making that happen.  Unfortunately, while obsessions sometimes lead to successes, they very often just remain obsessions, which is why it's very important to have diversions, to stop obsession in its tracks (of course, only during the times when success is not coming!)

To that end, I have adopted a pet (children are certainly diversions, but they go to school, and sometimes I need the diversion during school hours.  I would like to say that housework is a diversion, but it hasn't consistently worked so far.)

So--the pet.  While my kids and husband have been lobbying for a cat for years, that would be more of a responsibility than a diversion.  We have fish (and a lovely crayfish!), but I have never spent a lot of time doting on them (is it even possible to dote on a fish?).  I had a bad gerbil experience as a child, and dogs aren't allowed in our building without special permission.

My pet is a Webkinz--this furry little stuffed animal who came with a tag entitling me to set up and furnish a virtual house and play games to earn virtual money to buy the little guy presents.  I believe it took me longer to choose a name for my pet than it took to name any of my children.  But now named, he is a mascot of sorts, and when I am frustrated or at a loss as to how to proceed, a little petting of his fur or playing one of the games is an excellent diversion.  Which leaves me able to return to the task at hand, somewhat less obsessed.  Which is very good.

As long as I don't become obsessed with any of those games...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


My kids went back to school today.  It wasn't easy.  After ten days of sleeping in, 5:00am for me and 6:00am for them was really early, but we did it, and with the exception of one bus being late and one being early, it all went pretty smoothly.

I thought I would be glad to have the apartment back to myself for the day.  No computer game sounds, no sibling fights that I had to mediate.  And the desk and the computer all to myself.

So, I came home from bus dropoffs, my son's scooter in hand, sat down at the computer, checking in with job sites and Facebook friends.  It was really quiet.  Really, really quiet.

It was a productive day (well, not according to my written schedule--I didn't follow it too closely), but as lunchtime passed, and I ate alone, I found myself watching the clock for when it would be time to meet buses.  I was finally free of kid chaos, and I couldn't wait to have it back!

When everyone was back from school, there was some chaos, but judging by the fact that the kids largely got along and were happy to do assorted projects at home, I think maybe they missed me (or at least the vacation togetherness) a little too.

Before we know it, we will be inundated with activities again, and I am sure that then, I really will appreciate the quiet.  But for today, I'd much rather appreciate my kids.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Poster Lessons

I spent a good part of today helping my son make his winter break social studies poster.  I expected to learn a lot about Weather and Climate in the U.S.  And I did.  But what surprised me was how much the process taught me (well, at least reminded me) about people skills.  A whole lot of facts might have resulted in a perfectly fine poster. It was the people skill stuff that made a poster both my son and I could be proud of.

So, here are a few of the things I learned:


1. A little patience goes a long way.  A lot of patience keeps you going when the way is long.

2. Always remember to praise what's right, even if you also have to correct something that's not.  We all know how disheartening, even debilitating, it can be when our best efforts aren't received as perfect, yet we are very quick to correct the efforts of others. And there I was, zeroing in on the witch vs. which and the were vs. where, before I said anything about the interesting weather content.

3. If you're amazed by something, say so.  It makes everyone feel better.  I spent my own poster-making youth barely able to draw a straight line with a ruler, much less, fit all the necessary big block letters on the straightish line.  My son wrote his six-word poster title across the top of the poster, freehand, and ended up with equal white spaces on either end.  Wow.

4. Take a time out (not a punishment, just some time out). Again, it makes everyone feel better (and in the end, it often gets the job done faster than struggling right through).

5. Congratulate your co-workers when the job is done.  (A high-five works too, especially with 8-year old boys.)  No matter what you've been through on the job, this generally makes you want to work together again on the next job.

So, back to school my son will go tomorrow, rolled up poster in hand (2 days ahead of the deadline, because he's worried, and rightfully so, that it will get lost or destroyed at home!). While we were working, he talked about wanting the poster to be really good, since it was not just his first poster at his new school, but his first school poster ever.  Add that to the "what I've learned" list.  Even at the age of eight, it's important to make a good first impression!