Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's Always Day One Somewhere

Tomorrow morning, my daughters will start theater camp at the place where they've gone for the last bunch of summers, and my brother will start a new job at a place clear across the country from where he's worked for twenty-something years. As for me, I will be making the trek to Stamford that is not new anymore. But clearly, it is always Day One somewhere.

For a year, I experienced a lot of Day Ones. Day One at Bayou Billionaires, Day One at Deceived, first interview at one place, first interview at another (somehow, no matter how many interviews you have, each is like a Day One). It always seemed to be Day One somehow, heart in my throat, trying to appear much less "deer in the headlights" than I was.

So, while tomorrow will be just a normal day for me, I will be feeling for the Day One'rs. I remember the anxious feeling, the excitement mixed with dread, the eagerness for it to start but the desire for it to be over. And if this last year taught me anything, it was that in this day and age, you'd better start surviving Day Ones, because there are going to be an awful lot of them. Day Ones at the series of new jobs you start when you realize that jobs don't last forever any more. Day Ones when your kids start new grades and new schools and new activities, all of which (well, at least most of which) will be great once Day One is over.
Tomorrow, as I walk through my Day 76 (made up number--I just know it's more than 1 and less than 200), my heart will be in my throat for all the Day One'rs.  Because, while I know from experience that 1 very quickly becomes 76, I also know from experience that 1 can be the longest day of all. But, in the end, it just makes us more prepared for the next Day One we have to face.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Am What I Am

Okay, I saw a summer stock production of La Cage Aux Folles today, what can I say? And anyhow, don't many of our life truths come to us in musicals? "The sun'll come out tomorrow," "Oh, it's time to start living, time to take a little from this world we're given," "Can't regret what I did for love," "I thought that you'd want what I want." The list goes on. And I am grateful to have seen enough shows in enough versions to meet a steady stream of sing-worthy emotions. As far as I'm concerned, if a musical leaves me with a few memorable, singable, relevant songs, it's done a pretty good job as a musical.

So today, I got to walk away remembering a passionate performance of "I Am What I Am," which made me think a lot about how much time (or how little) we spend being who we really are. And how rare it is even to have those moments when we know who we are.

I spent most of a year trying to reinvent myself (or at least find the self I wanted to be). Yet, even now, though I do feel I have made some discoveries, I can't really say I know who I am every day. You could argue that I am a lot of different people, changing to fit the circumstances. Perhaps even the character who sings the song is that too. But, despite the roles we play each day, it's not a bad idea to take that time to reassess, and not just when we're between jobs, as I found myself doing, but even when we're working. There are always ways we can pursue (and hold on to) the people we really are. As long as we know who it is we really are.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Good Day, Good Job

In the year that I was sending out a hundred resumes a month, I read constantly that resumes were being read largely by computers, and I worked hard to make adjustments so that I would hit all the right keywords. But the truth is, so much of what a person is worth doesn't show up in the keywords. I may know every desired computer program, have "producer" in one of my titles. I may have numbers galore to quantify my accomplishments. But none of these things really gives a full picture of me. I've got "tricks up my sleeve" that just can't be conveyed in the words.

Today, I checked my email, only to find pictures of my son fishing. I had left home in the morning with some thoughts about possible activities for the kids and some money for executing those thoughts. Believe me, fishing was nowhere on that list. But my babysitter jumped off from my list, did a little research, and came up with something my son would like a whole lot more. She had "tricks up her sleeve." You can't put that kind of creativity on a keywordable resume, but that kind of creativity makes the difference between a mundane day and an exceptional one, and wouldn't we all rather go for exceptional?

I will not be able to change the job market system so that it rewards the creative. All I can do is remember that "creative" when I participate in the other most powerful part of the job process, networking. Then, perhaps, we'll all end up appreciating--and rewarding--the creativity around us.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

And, We're Off!

Summer Vacation, Day One. I have decided to take the day off so that I can sleep in with my kids, which I don't, since my body is completely programmed to get up early, so I take the car in for its State Inspection, only to find a mostly still sleeping household when I return home, so I have to cajole people to get up so we can go to the movie that we talked about last night when I decided I'd better make plans so we wouldn't schlump through the day, and I manage to get us all there and out of there without spending too much on claw game machines before we go home to have lunch in the apartment we then try to clean before we can go out for frozen yogurt (a post-doctor's appointment treat), which makes  it a good thing that I don't cook dinner till late, leaving us still with ample time to play Legos and watch reruns, since there's no homework and it's not a school night.

And thus begins summer for a person who has a very hard time sitting still and getting nothing accomplished. (Though, perhaps it's good that it's summer, since no teacher I know would ever, ever, allow a sentence as long as that one above.)

But we're off! (Well, at least they are!)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Farmer's Market Graduation

At this time last year, we were dressing up and hosting family members for not just one, but two graduations. This year, there are no dress-up graduations in our family. But today, as I watched my son man his school's farmer's market for the very last time (only his current grade does it), it actually felt like a graduation of sorts. After I'd bought my requisite lettuce, spinach, and kohlrabi from my son and his classmates, I stood with a bunch of other parents, all of us captivated by how much older and more confident our children are than they were nine months ago on their first days manning the market. Obviously, it was not a real graduation, but it felt largely the same as one, for isn't that what you do when you sit in hot auditoriums watching kids in caps and gowns walk across a stage?

While we so frequently mark occasions with ceremonies, it is often the seemingly unceremonious moments that are the real celebrations. So, today, as I watched little vegetable salespeople and heard about every witty word in my daughter's yearbook, I thanked goodness for all of the no dress-up graduations that let us celebrate each and every day. I can see exactly how much they mean--and I don't have to get dressed up to do it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Time Passages

When I began traveling to Stamford, people told me how much I'd be able to get done on the hour-long train trips to and from the studio--reading, and networking, and writing, and sleeping. But as the weeks go on, I find I am doing less and less each day. Almost every reading or writing activity leads to my falling asleep, and when I manage to stay awake (either because I'm full of nervous energy or because I'm terrified of missing my stop), it is an uneasy awake, full of thoughts about all the things I've left undone or unresolved.

So how is it that so many people do the daily train trip without losing their minds? (And clearly thousands of people do, whether suburbia to NYC or NYC out like me). Because if this Stamford thing is to last (and we certainly all hope it will), there will need to be a long-term plan before it feels as though half a lifetime has been lost on the train rides.

So, what can I do?

1. Become addicted to apps. Nope.
2. Take up knitting. Nice thought. Unlikely.
3. Strengthen my stay-awake-while-reading muscles. Promising.
4. Get more sleep so I don't need to sleep on the train. In what lifetime?
5. Make lists and check things off. Perhaps then, I won't always feel that things are undone. (Or, I will have written proof that, yes, they are undone).
6. There's that app thing again. Fight it, fight it.
7. Commit to writing my blog on the train every day, and don't give myself dinner if I haven't. Okay, that's just mean.
8. Observe and take notes on all those people I think are making such good use of their train time. Creepy, I know. But don't writers observe human behavior all the time?
9. Start driving to work. Yeah, and kill time as well as stress myself out. No way.
10. Accept that in every lifetime, some hours will just be lost, no big deal.

I'll have to think some more on all of this, and I'll have this blog post with me on the train to remind me of the options. It will be well worth it if it's part of the continuing saga in Stamford, Connecticut. And perhaps the thinking will use up some of the train time.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Last Week

No, this is not a retrospective of last week. Nor is this my last work week. It is, however, the last week of the school year, a week that felt impossibly far away for so long that it's almost impossible to believe it is now upon us.

In the weeks leading up to this one, just about every drop of household discipline has evaporated, from piano practice to regular reading to any sort of consistent meal or bed time. I guess perhaps the summer vacation of the mind started a few weeks ago.

Yet, despite the fact that all of this should have left me well prepared for this last week, I woke up today with a kind of melancholy about it all. When this school year began, I was an out of work/freelancing mom who met school buses, went to school events, even did round trip transportation and carpooling during the school bus strike. Now as it is ending, I am very much the working mom that I was for years, now with a commute that makes attending school events, well, challenging. Making me feel as though I somehow completely missed the back half of the year. Somehow, my kids went from new situations to a new status quo, I guess while I was on trains.

Years ago, when my kids were babies, a friend told me that once they hit "real school," things would go unbelievably fast, and this year has certainly demonstrated that. As we "got through" one project or test after another, we also "got through" a whole year. For, you see, time doesn't care that you are on the train. It doesn't care that your energy is going into a new job or new responsibilities. It just moves, and with it moves a whole school year.

I am sure that when we (well, at least some of us) stop having to get up and out early and stop having homework and practice and racing from here to there, we will all appreciate the arrival of summer vacation. But, for now, I am saving snapshots in my head of this last week. Nine months ago, we were starting so many things that were new, and in two days, those new things will be over. But I will hold on to both the new and the over. Until we start new once again.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Finder's Fee

Today, after driving myself crazy looking for something I was sure was somewhere in our apartment, I announced a "finder's fee." After all, sometimes it's worth paying to keep your sanity, or, at least using the resources at your disposal. And sometimes people are just more motivated when you offer them, well, motivation.

In the end, my item was found when one child angrily moved the mess of another child and accidentally made the discovery. Had the child with the mess cleaned up, the finder's fee would have landed with the mess child, but, fair being fair, the child who chose to push through is now a few dollars richer, and I have my item, and my sanity, back.

Will the no finder's fee child do something differently next time? Maybe. We often change how we do things more because of what we've lost that because of what we've gained. Perhaps I have gained a cleaning up ally. Perhaps just someone who will jump a little quicker the next time. Either way, I've got my item back. And my sanity. Which today was worth every single penny of that "finder's fee."

And sometimes, that little outcome, without need for some big, deeper meaning, is more than enough.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Laughter and Distance

In an almost surreal turn of events, we ended a long busy day by meeting friends who used to be neighbors to go to the theater. The theater, all 15 of us, including children ranging from 6 to 15, quite grown since the oldest of them were neighbor playmates.

I could talk about the show (which, by the way, had me laughing so hard, my face still hurts). But as one of my daughters pondered on our ride home how things would have been had we all remained neighbors, that quickly became the focus of my thoughts.

At the age of three, my daughter pointed to a girl in the park and said she wanted to play with "that girl," a child who, at the time, was a year younger and barely spoke. But from that day, a friendship was born that has extended over time--and distance. We are the only ones left in the neighborhood we all shared. And this friendship is one between kids and between mothers, because along the way, the mom of "that girl" became one of my own best friends, even now that the friendship consists mainly of phone calls, emails, and time to time visits. It is one of a few friendships in my life that has lasted despite distance and changing circumstances. Neighbor friendships may be easy to maintain. Long distance ones, at least for me, not so much.

So, when my daughter wondered what it would have been like if "that girl" were still living here, I couldn't help wondering too. But as with so many things in our lives that change, we can't really know what would have been. We can only do our best with what is. Which, in this case, means more phone calls and emails, and perhaps a little more effort to bridge the distance. And a whole lot of gratitude that the friendship can actually withstand that distance.

Tonight, my family and I went to a show that made me laugh so hard my face hurt.

And, even better, our friends were with us to share it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

So Long

Many, many people have left work for hiatus over the last week, the hiatus that changed and changed again, and may change one more time before all is said and done. There have been some hugs, but mostly just a whole lot of "see you in a few weeks." I am not good at saying "goodbye," you see, much better at just "so long."

It's not that I've never done this hiatus thing before. When I worked on Cosby, not only were there weeks off between three or four week cycles of production, there was a full-blown hiatus from April to August, during which time you assumed you would be "invited back," but were never quite sure until that phone call in July. And while I missed my Cosby family for those months, I spent time with my own family (one of my daughters was a "hiatus baby," so I was pretty occupied that year), my ABC family (I freelanced a bunch), and with making an educational video. It was time off, but time well spent.

So, now, hiatus is just about upon me again. But this time, it is not a whole production team leaving at once. It is daily goodbyes and corridors that get emptier, and a same, yet different, anticipation of the family getting back together again. And if I think back to the hiatus months from Cosby, I can remind myself of all the great things that can come out of a little down time. There won't be any hiatus babies here, but perhaps there will be another independent project or some freelancing or some trips to amusement parks with my kids. Because we're not saying "goodbye." We're just saying "so long."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Somewhere Out There

Today, in a rare early return to the city, I visited the subway lost and found, a small room behind a door marked "Lost Property Unit" on the lower level of a subway station.

Behind that mysterious door, in that tiny room (that, I'm sure, leads to a much larger room if you work there), there are four, yes four, computers on which visitors to Lost Property fill out a form describing the property they've lost on a train or bus. For me, it was my cell phone, a more than five year old flip jobby that no one could possibly want, full of pictures of my kids that I'd really like to have back.

So, despite the fact that I figure my phone has evaporated into the New York City air, I needed to leave no stone unturned. So, "Lost Property Unit" it was.

During the time I was there, I saw a woman get back a wallet complete with the seven dollars and two cents inside. I saw a woman who left her tablet on a bus come in because the Lost Property folks had emailed her and every contact on the tablet to say they'd found it. And I saw a man who'd lost a briefcase full of papers leave empty-handed. As for me, I left empty-handed as well (except for the claim form I was told I could use to follow up in a few days, which perhaps I'll do).

The point is, behind this door, little miracles must happen every day. Perhaps not for me, but for hundreds of other people who also might assume their stuff has evaporated, then walk out of that room having it back.

I don't think I'll end up getting my phone back--I've resigned myself to reconstructing both my contacts and my memory of the mediocre quality (but highly sentimental) photos I took over more than five years. I was just glad to see today that for some people, what is lost actually can be found.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ready For My Closeup

Today, as a part of the More Show's Daytime Emmy wrap-up, my fellow editor and I were interviewed about winning the editing Emmy last Friday. Each of us dressed for the occasion (not formal, just a few steps up from "edit room casual.") And each of us brought one of our previous Emmys, large, heavy things, which accompanied us on the NYC to Stamford train ride.

Truthfully, I really hadn't given the whole thing a lot of thought (except for the Emmy-schlepping part). Yet, when I saw a small lighting crew arrive, and a cameraman I've worked with setting up to shoot us, and when the audio man had us put on microphones, the whole thing began to make me a little light-headed. Where to look--at the camera or at the producer or at my fellow editor (who was behind me)? What to say and how to say it? To be myself or to be some on-screen persona who might sound a lot better than the real me? I found myself wondering what the framing was showing of me, and thinking about all the times I'd heard a producer say "we're paying for her eyes" when an actor turned away from camera. And, of course, wondering how the things I was saying would translate into the sound bites being used for the show. Clearly, I have not been trained in speaking in sound bites, but I do think my fellow editor and I came across as friendly, intelligent, and very excited about our Emmys. I guess we'll see, when the episode goes up on Hulu this Friday.

I never imagined that being "on" in that way could be so exhausting, but I found myself completely drained (and still needing to work AND get the Emmy home!!) afterward. Maybe it's good it wasn't actually a closeup. And maybe it's good that most of the time, I remain firmly on the other side of the camera.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It Must Be SOMEBODY'S Birthday!

Today, in honor of a co-worker's birthday, other co-workers brought in fried chicken lunch for the skeleton staff that remains during our hiatus. It was a welcome surprise in these days of no catering and craft services, and a nice excuse to take a break from work and actually have lunch as a group (well, actually a bunch of subgroups). And in the middle of it all, someone suggested that one of us should have a birthday every day, so that we could have an excuse for shared lunch on a regular basis.

All of this made me recall my first month at One Life to Live--the ABC version in New York. I was fresh (fresh, as in, less than a week) out of college, and in addition to having the job of my dreams, I arrived amidst a flurry of birthdays and a major show anniversary. So, during my first month working, there seemed to be cake almost every day, and less than two months in, I was going formal for an anniversary party at Tavern on the Green. Not a bad way to start your first job out of college.

Now, 25 years later, I am "breaking bread" with a largely different group of people on a largely similar (yet oddly different) production. I am no longer that week out of college kid, but the feeling of being part of a group--both during the stress of production and during the down time of a festive meal--is still a feeling I enjoy. So if someone wants to claim each of these days as a birthday, I'm all for it. Let the daily impromptu production party begin!

Monday, June 17, 2013

An Honor To Be Nominated

One Life to Live's winning the editing Emmy was quite the talk at work today. It was an exciting thing for me and my fellow editor Teresa there to bridge the gap between what was and what is, and to talk about getting our shiny new statues in the mail this summer.

I have often written about how the recognition of what I do tends to be less important to me than the actual process of doing the work, and the team with whom I work, and by and large, I do find that to be true. But in an odd way, winning an Emmy, and talking about winning an Emmy, put a spring in my editing step today. Don't get me wrong, it was absolutely an honor to be nominated, but winning felt like a validation of both our work and of the life still left in the shows.

As I was watching online updates during the Daytime Emmys last night, I kept coming across a headline "What is an Emmy worth?" While I never got around to reading the answer to that question, I suspect that it talked about recognition, credibility, and possibly money. I can't say that this new Emmy will be worth any of those to me, but even if it's not an indicator of what WILL be, it is a reminder perhaps of what COULD be. And "could be" is often the thing that keeps us going when things are difficult and times are uncertain. So, I figure, if this Emmy can be my reminder of the "could be's," I'll take it (okay, yes, I'd take it anyway). Because we all need to keep sight of the things that COULD be in our lives. They will help us survive the uncertainties and frustrations--and we all have those--of all the things that just ARE.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Well, I am happy (I guess) to report that Father's Day was just about as much of a blur as Mother's Day in our household. And in honor of the (almost over) holiday, a brief comparison of these two lovely occasions--

1. Sadly, all the things you didn't have to do on Mother's Day come back to haunt you on Father's Day. After all, since you didn't want to plunge toilets and clean up broken glass on Mother's Day, you can't really expect the dad in your household to want to do it on Father's Day. So glass and toilets it is for you.

2. Being married to someone who almost never wears a tie leaves the gift field wide, wide open. Perhaps not any more original, or any easier, but definitely wide open.

3. It occurs to me that what both mothers and fathers really want on their appointed days is essentially the same--a lovely, drama-free event with their kids, a big chunk of peace and quiet from their kids, and a single day of the year that they do not have to be responsible for things like those listed in #1.

4. No matter how hard I try, I never manage to do right by all of the fathers in my life on this day. By the looks of my Facebook friend group, a lot of people do a whole lot better.

5. Did you ever notice that the major drug store chains have a huge gift display for Mother's Day, and just a few cards and the tools of summer fun and barbecuing for Father's Day? Does that mean Dad is supposed to be thrilled with a cooler and a bag full of charcoal briquettes?

6. Yes, I know that Mother's Day and Father's Day presents are not really supposed to be bought at the drug store, but when you're a father or a mother, sometimes that's the only place you can get to when you're up against the clock.

7. Sometimes you're really better off leaving the gift-giving to the kids. After all, it is about their mother and father, and they have much more open minds about gifts and much cuter artwork than we grownups do.

So, thus ends another whirlwind family holiday. Can't wait to see what we'll do for the Fourth of July!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Who Knew?

Who knew that a year and a half after ending work at ABC, I and a group of fellow ABCers could win an Emmy for the work we did there? (Multiple Camera Editing for a Drama Series).

Who knew that a group of people, scattered for a long time, could rally as a team to go for a nomination and in the end, come home with a win?

Who knew that a kid who grew up thinking how great it would be to have one of those cool gold statues would now have four of them?

Who knew that a college student who would likely not have had the focus for psychology graduate school and got lucky enough to land an entry level TV job would still be working in TV (well, at the moment, Internet TV) twenty-five years later? (Thank you, Paul Rauch, Charlotte Weil, Lisa De Cazotte, Michael Schnessel, Larry Auerbach, and all the other people--way too numerous to mention--who believed in me all those years ago).

Who knew that it would still be exciting, not just to win those statues, but to be a part of telling stories and collaborating with creative people?

Who knew that when looking back on my career so far, I would have so many, many people with whom I have shared it?

Who knew that I would continue to cross paths with so many of these people, in new places, new situations, new contexts?

And who knew that the news of an Emmy would prompt quite so many "Who knew's"?

Friday, June 14, 2013


Tomorrow, we will be returning a cello and a flute to their home at the instrument rental company. The cello, a sort of casualty of the flute, stopped being played when my daughter was required to take up a new instrument for school (only brass and woodwinds), and the flute--well, the flute just never took hold. So with the requirement over, she will move on to other things.

Taking the instruments back will surely be a step toward decluttering our apartment, and clearly we can use MANY such steps. But I can't help feeling a little sad about seeing them go. She was good at them, and with the cello, for a while, there was a passion and dedication that was inspiring. There was a feeling of possibility, that playing it might take her somewhere, that she might become especially good, and it might be lovely for us to introduce "our daughter who plays the cello." The possibility won't REALLY go away, just because we return the cello, but it will go away for now. And losing possibility--that's a sad thing.

The flip side is that quite often, passion and dedication don't necessarily just go away. They often just move to other things. The flute and cello aren't going back because my child has decided to become a professional couch potato. There will be piano and singing and dancing and acting and....and many, many possibilities. It doesn't mean I won't be sad handing back that giant case she schlepped on her back when it still stood taller than she did. But sometimes you have to give up one possibility to discover another. Sometimes holding a bow makes your hands too full to grab on to what's next. And what's next might be the best possibility of all.

Great Power, Great Responsibility

When my oldest child was thirteen, my husband began to quote to her, "With great power comes great responsibility," which, for her, meant that being the oldest might have its privileges, but it also had its duties. If she was old enough to travel alone, she was also old enough to share laundry duties. If she was old enough to merit extra computer time, she was old enough to be expected to help her siblings with computer work if necessary. There were many such tradeoffs that were part of the "great power, great responsibility" mantra, and I am happy to report that she quite often embraces both the power and the responsibility.

We, as adults, have the "great power" part, well, kind of automatically. Whether we feel powerful or not, somewhere in our lives, we are the powerful ones. Yet, how often do we demand the "great responsibility" of ourselves? How often do we rise above our own needs to focus on the needs of one of our kids? (Okay, well, most of the time. Next!) How many times do we hold ourselves to the standards we set for our children and our coworkers?

Fast forward to child number two, who is already hitting the "great power, great responsibility" age (second children do tend to do things sooner, don't they?). She is quickly learning the "great responsibility" part, as I am tough about her making an advance plan (something I am often doing at the very last minute), and tough about her being late because she didn't watch the time (when, way too often, I arrive late from work, late from an event I was enjoying, late from a conversation at the end of a playdate pickup). Wow, this "great responsibility" thing is hard.

I'm finding that the power/responsibility dynamic, which you'd think would be the most significant when your kids are small and you are big, is actually even more present as you're trying to teach it to them as they get older. Thankfully, I feel fairly sure that, with some work, my kids will get it. I just hope I do too.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stage Management

Tonight, my daughter was a stage manager for her 6th grade class play. Which meant that last night, she was scrambling to find or make the props that had somehow fallen through the cracks during the weeks of rehearsal. And that this morning, we were discussing how she could follow her school uniform requirements and still wear the "show black" befitting her stage manager position.

A few weeks ago, as I began to think about how I would get to the show, which started earlier than many local working parents could make and MUCH earlier than a working-in-a-different-state parent could ever HOPE to make, I resigned myself to the fact that I could try to do it, but that between work schedules and train schedules, I would likely arrive huffing and puffing, and I would just as likely arrive late.

And then, everything changed. With the early taping hiatus in Stamford, my days became shorter and my time more flexible. And I was able to be back in the city with enough time to make my way to the far reaches to get to the school. Basically on time. Which made me realize that the current shifting of work is really just a temporary stage, one that, at least today, turned out to be useful.

So, while my daughter was stage managing, I got to thinking about stage management too--for me, the managing of the stages of my work and family and career. Even when I was in the same workplace for years, there were different positions, different producers, different dynamics, each of which created a different stage that I needed to manage. Just like the cues my daughter executed to enable tonight's play to succeed, I change up the cues every day to match the situation. It's all about assessing the needs and gathering the resources. And making the daily "performance" a success. It's just a question of managing the stages. Stage management, that is.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


No, I did not get a promotion.  I am still happily an AD and Editor. Here, I'm referring to the other kind of "promotion," which is perhaps not as personal, but in many cases, is just as important.

One of the things I have learned during my 25 years working in television is that no matter how hard you work on the product, and no matter how special that product may be, it becomes almost worthless unless it is promoted--presented to the audience, ideally a wide audience, as a "must-see." As the saying goes, if a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

I have been fascinated with the whole promotion aspect of the soaps online venture. While there has been a great deal of buzz created by the work of publicity and promotion departments, a lot of the "spreading the word" that I've seen has been Facebook posts from members of the creative and production teams. There is a personal attachment, a personal stake in it all, which translates into that often elusive promotion. People are proud of the product, and they have found ways to be part of making it a "must-see."

Personally, I have never been all that good at promotion, self- or otherwise. It's not easy to toot your own horn, though, heaven knows, it's useful in both networking and job searching, which I've spent a lot of time doing this past year. But the success of promotion in the case of this soap endeavor is a reminder of how important it is to get that word out. Otherwise, no one will hear that tree fall. And no matter how great you, or your projects are, no one will see them stand tall.

Monday, June 10, 2013

You Know It's Almost Summer When...

You Know It's Almost Summer When...

1. Your children suddenly have half days of school when you wonder how it is that a working parent is supposed to want to send the child to school and retrieve him or her a mere three hours later.

2. The giant textbooks that have been an obstacle course through your apartment are suddenly gone, returned, yes, returned to school for the summer.

3. Almost every dinner table conversation involves some mention of camp--either the ones you've already signed up for, or the ones you haven't yet and should.

4. The bicycle that has been basically a coat rack for months has to be cleared for riding!

5. There is a school event almost every day or night, causing even the most dedicated of parents to go a little crazy trying to keep up.

6. A working parent begins to wonder if working will be easier in the summer when the kids are either in camp or sleeping later or both. Or if it will be harder, because it will mean missing an opportunity to sleep later too.

7. We all begin to wonder what's worse--95 degrees in June, or cold and rainy in June.

8. You wonder how it is that practically a whole school year has passed since that day when you nervously watched everyone starting something new.

9. You suddenly go from the "stay in and clean all weekend" mindset to the "where are we going this weekend" mindset.

10. You don't have to count all the way to ten--hey, it's almost summer!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Family Days

Living in a family means you often end up doing not just those things you choose to do, but a whole bunch of things that are the choices of your fellow family members. Today was that kind of a day in our family.

Today, there was a piano recital, which became two when the original one conflicted with a playoff little league game. Today was watching that little league game, and taking a long train ride to get there. Today was pausing from housework to share the Tony awards with under-18 theater geeks. Today was refraining from removing a 3 day old, still in progress Monopoly game, even if that meant refraining from vacuuming (we wouldn't want to suck up a house, hotel, or Scotty dog!)

I could say that every family member who made sacrifices for the others did so without question or complaint. Which would be a lie. There were sore feet and tired kids, dinner too late, and a week that will begin with a chaotic apartment and laundry that is still dirty. But today, we were there for and with each other. And that's what really matters. The laundry and the apartment will get clean, and we will all eventually catch up on our sleep. And because of days like today, we will remember that, above all, we are a family.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Work in Progress

This morning, I got an email from a friend, commenting on the difference in my posts since my starting work in Stamford. While I knew I was no longer writing all the time about the challenges of looking for work, I don't know if it had occurred to me that my tone was so different. For, you see, I really do live--and write--day to day. So, just as parents don't necessarily notice their children's day to day growth, I never really stepped back to see the writing change. It just happened.

I also don't think I ever thought when I named this blog "Not Washed Up Yet" that the soap portion would be part of my present. It would simply be reminiscences mixed in with the moving forward to a totally different life. But when you leave yourself open to all the possibilities that come along, sometimes the things that do come along are, well, not what you expected. The good news is, the unexpected can be really great, whether just as a step or as a new place. And it can give you a new set of things for future reminiscing. This week, I was reminded of how excited I was to explore the world of other work when the soaps ended at ABC. And while this exploration didn't lead quite where I'd imagined it would, it, and this blog, are clearly works in progress. Which is really pretty much what our lives are anyway, if we allow them to be. And, as for me, I'll take any and all input on this work in progress. It's all part of the exploration that continues every day.

Friday, June 7, 2013


So, what am I doing at the end of this rollercoaster of a week? Going out? No. Indulging in a bottle of wine? Nope. Why, Monopoly, an activity my son actually loves more than TV and video games. Our apartment may be full of any number of board games, but when we sit down to play a game, it's pretty much only Monopoly (though we do mix it up with different versions--a great tag sale acquisition).

So, as I played tonight, my son trouncing me with his clearly newly learned buying and building strategy, I began to wonder what makes this game so appealing to a kid who is normally much more interested in screens (and to the millions of other people who play it too).

So, here goes--

1. You get to make money without even doing any chores. (hey, that's not bad, even if you're a grownup!)

2. You get to buy stuff (kids love that!) and charge people for stepping on your stuff (see above about making money).

3. You make collections of like colored things (my son is a huge collections person, from mugs, to rocks, to Lego figures). And these collections don't even fill up your shelf space.

4. You benefit from making smart choices. But you also benefit from sheer luck. Who among us hasn't wished to win the lottery (or a beauty pageant or the free parking jackpot)? And hey, in NYC, just having a space that says "free parking" is kind of a big deal.

5. You get to pick a little figure to represent you. Kind of like in a video game (except in a video game, I would imagine few of us are represented by a hat or a wheelbarrow).

6. It's one of the few toys your parents might let you leave out. Because it never finishes, and they want to buy and build and win too.

I could probably go on and on. But I'd best call it a night. The Monopoly's still all over the floor waiting for me to do some more rolling, buying, and building in the morning!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


The soaps went on hiatus today, well, studio hiatus, which means that I and many of the other inhabitants of "soap camp" were in attendance--editing, writing, designing, organizing. But like camp when the summer is nearing a close, "soap camp" today was a shell of its former self, the catering accoutrements mostly gone, the loudspeaker announcements absent. It would have been a little like a ghost town, except for the fact that so many of us were there, and not ghost-like at all. When I was editing (which is in a room separate from all things studio), it was almost as though today was no different than all the others. And yet, we all knew otherwise. Today, though many of us were working, it was as if someone had hit the "pause" button.

Today, there were actually many pauses. Pauses to chat with co-workers in your normal circle and those to whom you might usually say only "hello." Pauses to consider how the work you were doing would fit into the big picture. Pauses to reminisce about long past other jobs in television and people worked with years ago. And, I have to say, on all these levels, it felt good to pause.

In our day to day lives, well, at least mine, there is "stop," and there most definitely is "go," but there is rarely "pause." Not often do we stop to take it all in, to process before we pick up the pace again. And sometimes the "pause" is what helps us make the most of the "go."

So, while this soap "pause" had its unsettling elements, the accompanying opportunity to pause, at least for today, was a useful opportunity. Who knows what tomorrow will hold? But today, we got to pause. And because of that, no matter what happens, I feel as though I'll be a whole lot more ready to hit "go" tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New and Different

When I was working on my series of children's books in earnest, one of the imperatives was to create something new and different, a kind of story, or a kind of teaching through the story, that had never, ever been done before. It was a daunting task, filled with hours of creation and revision, research trips to the bookstore and searches of online booksellers. All to make sure that this thing in my head, this attempt to create something new and different for children and parents, was actually as new as I thought it to be. As it turned out, even keeping it feeling new to myself was a challenge, so, at the moment, it sits not on a shelf in a bookstore, but on a shelf in my mind (and in a file on my computer).

Creating something new, and keeping it new, is not easy, whether it's a soap or a blog or just life in general. It requires fresh eyes in the face of daily drudgery, fresh ears in the face of agonizing quiet and deafening noise. But when a person who creates can find those fresh eyes and fresh ears, something new can be born. And that is my challenge every day--to keep from losing myself in the routine of life so that somehow, in some form, this blog can be new and different, and my experience (and yours) of the world can be new and different too.

It used to be said that soap operas moved so slowly and were so formulaic that you could miss days and see virtually the same thing in another episode. Having worked in soaps for quite some time, I would actually say that even the same scene performed multiple times is not the same--it is affected by all sorts of random things--the temperature of the studio, the previous night's sleep of the cast and crew, the placement of a prop. So, if we (people, not characters), in lives lived in a much wider world than a TV studio, can't find the new and different each day, there's more looking and more listening to be done.

For me, the commitment to a daily blog is my reminder to keep my eyes and ears open to discovering new things every day. But each one of us can stand to be reminded to look for the new and different in a life that feels the same from day to day. You, too, can find the new and different. The question is, what will your reminder be?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Moving Forward, Looking Back

This morning, Facebook took the liberty of reminding me that exactly one year ago, I finished four weeks of editing work at Bayou Billionaires. It was all at once surprising (well, who wakes up to that?), disturbing (has it really been that long since that leap into reality?), and encouraging (as I am now on a job that has lasted more than just a few weeks).

In our efforts to move forward, we seldom take the opportunity to look back--there's just not time, and looking back (if we do it honestly) requires revisiting failures as well as successes. Who wants to do that? So while I might have been shocked by Facebook's presuming to make me look back, I was also kind of grateful. It matters to what I am doing now, who I am now, that I worked four weeks of Bayou Billionaires a year ago. It matters that there were weeks of no paid work after that and another reality show a few months later. Whether in a slow work year or a very busy one, each thing that happens informs the next. So, when I, largely thanks to Facebook, look back on that Bayou Billionaires experience, I remember how empowering it was to teach myself new things because, well, I had to. How humbling it was to be a stranger--an experienced stranger, but a stranger--in a strange land. How exciting it was when the pieces of this new thing came together, and how great it felt when producers appreciated my sense of story.

A year, and many, many experiences have passed since then. And new experiences will continue to pass. I just have to make sure that while forging ahead, I remember, with or without Facebook, to look back.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wins and Losses

My daughters and I went to a screening of a documentary about the musical "Annie" tonight, a screening followed by a talkback with the filmmaker, the show "orphans," and members of the current creative team and a "hi" from the original writing team. Needless to say, for me, a person who works in the performing arts (even if not in theater), and for my daughters, self-professed theater geeks, the experience was exciting, and magical, and memorable. Not only did we get a window into the creative process (both of musical-making and of filmmaking), we got to do it in the presence of theater celebrities. Some might call it a win-win situation.

And then, on the way home, we (okay, I) realized that my cell phone had disappeared. And, in an instant, the win-win high of the night was crushed by the overwhelming feeling of loss. Loss not of the thing per se, but loss of a way to be in contact while commuting, loss of pictures (lousy quality pictures, but pictures taken on the fly, that live nowhere else but in the phone), loss of contacts and voicemails saved for sentimental reasons. Loss of confidence in my ability to keep track of things.

If I am lucky, the phone will turn up tomorrow, with just the challenge of going to get it. And then many of the losses will be rectified, at least by a day later. Many, just not the one about confidence. Because, for every string of wins that makes us feel great, it often takes just one loss to make that winning feeling go away. Will I get it back? Sure. And hopefully with a healthy dose of common sense to go along. And then, maybe, just maybe, I can go back to the win-win that tonight was supposed to be.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Smoothies and Spin

After several months as a recipient of catering and craft services, a person comes to expect things.

Okay, that's not entirely true, but it is true that on a hot day, I did expect to be able to get a cold shake-like, smoothie-like drink. Yet, on the block where we were today, we went to multiple places where all the machines to make such things were broken (and, it appeared, had been all day, but with no posted sign to say so). Puzzling, and certainly disappointing, but mostly just very, very funny (especially when we conjured up a picture of the repairman relaxing on the beach and, therefore, unavailable to fix ice cream machines).

To be fair, the iced drink adventure was just a little blip in our day. But it was a great opportunity to realize the power of spin. Spin--the thing that makes the good into the super-amazing, the thing that turns a disaster into a good laugh. The thing that keeps the employee loyal and the fan attached. After years of watching the use of spin in assorted workplaces, I've gotten pretty good at using spin to get through a day of parenthood. And today, several iced coffees later (oh, is that why I have wide awake children?), and with the picture of a repairman on the beach still in our heads, we'd been successfully cooled. At least we thought so. Probably because we'd been successfully spun.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Where I Am and Where I'm Not

This weekend, I am not at my major college reunion wearing all manner of school color attire. I am not at the film festival where a sitcom I edited is being shown. I was not at my son's school craft fair or at a Broadway matinee or at the first performance of my friend's new show. And you would think that with all the places I wasn't, I must not have been much of anywhere. And you would be wrong. Because for every hundred possible things to do each weekend, there are hundreds more that end up coming first. And the hundreds seem to increase exponentially with the number and age of the people in your household. So, while I was at none of those places above, I was in multiple boroughs supporting biking and baseball and musical theater. I was at assorted train stations and bus stops traveling up, down, and across. I was at a grocery store stocking up for the week. And I was at a party of dressed-up grownups, where I realized I can actually be a dressed-up grownup.

Did I miss things in the places where I wasn't? Absolutely. I will never get that reunion (and the accompanying "hi, how are you, what are you doing now?" conversations) back (not to mention all the wacky clothes I would have acquired). I will have to wait another year (or at least until the next fair) for my fill of crafty stuff. I will have to rely on reports from the film festival.

In exchange, I saw my son score the tying run and helped him go biking with a friend. I got my daughters to sleepovers and auditions. And yes, I was a grownup, perhaps not among the grownups who were my college past, but the grownups of my present. As my daughter pointed out, "Mommy, you have friends!"

And that's just how life is. Which is why sometimes, no, most of the time, really BEING where you are matters a whole lot more than bemoaning where you aren't. I will live without orange clothes and handmade earrings. And I will get to live WITH the memory of a child running to home and so much more.


It appears as though my personal Friday cliffhanger (and yours, if you read faithfully every day) is whether I can stay awake on a Friday, after a week of work, to write the day's post. Thankfully, a blog isn't quite like "making air."

Just as the idea of a cliffhanger has changed with the evolution of soaps (it used to be that you'd do the best ones on a Friday so the audience would come back on the Monday, but now people watch anytime), the nature of a cliffhanger has changed in our real lives as well. With so many plates spinning at a time (I can't believe I'm the only one who feels like that circus guy with the poles and the plates), there are so many things that can change, succeed, fail, or smash in a million pieces at any given moment, it's hard to know where the next cliffhanger will be. Which keeps life interesting (you kind of have to tune in every day), and extremely challenging. And yet, we go on, spinning those plates, living our lives, facing those challenges.

And if a blog written late is the biggest cliffhanger for today, I guess the plates are actually spinning pretty well. It just means the next one will come that much sooner!