Saturday, May 31, 2014


I recently had to rebuild the settings in my edit computer. While I had been happily using and adapting someone else's for quite some time, computers being how they are, the settings were becoming corrupt, causing weird and unexpected errors. So I gave myself a "new name" and started to recreate from scratch all the the things I have taken for granted on my keyboard and screen.

Seems simple, right? I mean, I have done versions of this process many times before--adding keyboard shortcuts to make my process more efficient--and uniquely mine. Since I barely missed an editing beat after the change, I figured I must have gotten pretty good at it.

There was just one thing that bothered me. Perhaps it was coincidence, but one thing was appearing just a little differently on my screen. I found, however, that I could make adjustments to work around it. It made things a little slower, perhaps, but not impossible, so I pretty much let it be. What else was I going to do?

Then, this morning, it occurred to me--could it be that one little button that had been clicked on (or off) for all the time I had been using default or preselected settings suddenly have changed when I created my own? Could some little piece I had neglected to check be causing this ever so slightly inconvenient situation?

On a daily basis, we don't do much to "check our settings," much less adjust them. We are who we are, and how we function each day reflects that. Yet, changing a setting here and there--where we are, what or when we eat, the time we set on our alarm--can affect how we work, and how we see things. Perhaps our current settings are working just fine, but perhaps tweaking them once in a while could open our eyes to something new.

As I began exploring the settings options in my editing computer, looking for something that might have created my problem, I fairly quickly found a list of checkable boxes that seemed relevant. I checked one of the boxes to enable a particular setting, and sure enough, the problem was solved. Sure, it took a few minutes to search for the fix, but that few minutes was nothing compared to the minutes--and sanity--that I saved later, when I was seeing things the way they needed to be, rather than having to adjust each one.

Clearly, as on a computer, in life, it's a good idea to check your settings every so often--to make real choices--your own, not someone else's--about which boxes you check and about how you see things. It may take pausing your routine and spending some of what you consider your very limited minutes, but if it ends up preserving your time--and your sanity--it will have been well worth it.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sometimes It Takes

Sometimes, it takes coffee with a friend in the morning to clarify your perspective.

Sometimes, it takes chocolate to get through the afternoon.

Sometimes, it takes having pasta for dinner. Or burritos. Or both.

Sometimes, it takes old work situations to help you understand new ones.

Sometimes, it takes stepping away from the computer to figure out what is wrong on the screen.

Sometimes, it takes putting aside everything you know to understand what you don't.

Sometimes, it takes sifting through everything you've ever learned to help your kids with their homework.

Sometimes, it takes forgetting everything you've ever learned to keep from letting your kids' homework drive you crazy.

Sometimes, it takes reading kids' books to understand how kids--and grownups--think.

Sometimes, it takes staying up just a little later to keep from missing all the late night conversations you realize you've been missing.

Sometimes, it takes just a little laughter to help you sleep a lot better.

Sometimes, it takes just a little more sleep to see things a lot more clearly.

Sometimes, it takes sleeping on something to be able to write about it.

Sometimes, it takes writing about something to see that you will live through it.

Sometimes, it takes realizing what you can live through--and have lived through--to show you that you're ready for the next thing that comes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Knowing When to Walk

There was just a fifteen minute window between when I could leave work and when my daughter's performance would start. I'd hop a cab and be there in five--no problem. Except ten seconds on the sidewalk told me I wouldn't get a cab, and another ten made it clear that, with the traffic I was seeing, a  cab wouldn't get me there in five, or even in the fifteen I had. There was no choice but to walk it.

Sometimes, the hardest thing in life is to see what is right in front of you, face it, and react accordingly. It's often much easier to see what you'd like, or wait to see what you'd like. Had I held on to the idea that I would take a cab, I would have found myself standing in front of my work building, cab-hailing hand in the air, as my daughter's show began. If I always waited for my kids, or my work, or just life in general to be exactly the way I expect, I'd do a lot of waiting, and not a lot of doing.

Believe me, there are days when I don't know when to walk--days when I would miss my daughter's show, or miss an opportunity awaiting me if only I had walked. It's hard to know all the time. I guess it's just important to make sure your feet--and your head--are always ready.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Elephant and Piggie

I spent the better part of today (well, not really that much, even though my arms would say otherwise) carrying around 21 Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie books. You see, I bought them from an online school auction, and then had to retrieve them. And since every part of my day tends to intersect with every other part, the books went with me to the subway, to a photo printing place, to work, and through about 20 walking blocks along the way. The books were heavy, but now they are home, and I think I would do it all over again.

My children are far out of the target age range for Elephant and Piggie. How is it, then, that I ended up buying the whole set in an auction, especially knowing full well that I'd be carrying it all over the city? It clearly wasn't a gesture of Supermom-hood, as many of my daily adventures turn out to be. Was it my fascination with auctions, or my desire to support the school? Or was it simply that sometimes, you just have to treat yourself to a good laugh? I could have supported the school by bidding on fancy handbags or theater tickets, or by writing a check. Instead, I chose Elephant and Piggie.

As I began to look through the books, I was reminded of what I love so much about them-- their ability to take relatively normal events and make them funny--and their ability to come back--always--to sharing the funny (or the stressful or the sad) with a friend.

That's a lot of adult stuff thrust upon some really adorable kids' books. Maybe it's just that the pictures crack me up, and that the words are pretty funny too.

In any case, I am now the proud owner of quite a few laughs, purchased not really as a gift or for my kids, but for myself. If you hear me chuckling, or quoting a small but powerful elephant or pig, now you'll know why.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Moments of Clarity

1. The moment in which you know that you must eat lunch outside, because there may never be another day like today.

2. The moment in which you realize that the job you do doesn't necessarily have to change the world. It just shouldn't change it for the worse.

3. The moment in which you are able to help a friend figure out how to say something coherently, even though you can't even decide what to make for dinner.

4. The moment in which you discover something about your own writing while editing someone else's. 

5. The moment in which you figure out some of your own dreams by supporting someone else's.

6. The moment in which you begin to understand that being a responsible human being doesn't make you responsible for every single thing anyone does around you.

7. The moment in which you can feel that people are on your side, even when it sometimes feels as though they are coming at you from all sides.

8. The moment in which you realize that even if where you are might not be as good as where you thought you'd be, it's a whole lot better than where you were.

Thank goodness for moments of clarity in an often fuzzy-headed life!

Weekends and Holidays and Work, Oh My!

For the last few years, holiday weekends have been among my most stressful, as I combed through job postings, believing that I'd find something perfect and gettable, but knowing full well that no employer would actually look at anything during a three day period full of sun and barbecue.

When I woke this morning to an inbox that included my normal job site emails, I was filled with relief as I quickly deleted them. For, at this moment in time, I know that when the sun and barbecue are over, I have somewhere to go. I know that my week won't depend on resumes sent or networking accomplished or bills I'm struggling to pay. (Okay, the bills don't go away. But you get the idea). I know that instead of being wound tight about one fewer day of applying, I can be relaxed about one fewer day of every member of my family running somewhere. Perhaps I can even take a moment to remember what the holiday weekend is about. None of this was really possible these last few years.

It's funny how perspective can change when you least expect it. Knowing that, I think I'll enjoy a little sun, a little barbecue (well, maybe not, in the city), and get ready to go back to work.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Trash and Treasure

We are back to tag sale season. I can't help it--I find it irresistible to turn what someone else no longer needs into something we can use. It's not just about cheap stuff (though that's not a bad thing). It's about the adventure of finding and recycling. The trick, however, as I see it, is knowing what really is a treasure--and what is destined to become trash in our hands as well. A few thoughts...

1. If the child who says "ooh, cool, can I get it?" tries it on and wants to keep wearing it all day, you're probably on the right track. If you say "we should get this," and the child just smiles and nods, you're probably not.

2. If it's big, and you know EXACTLY where you're going to put it, you're probably on the right track. If you're thinking it's too great to pass up, and you'll find somewhere to put it, you're probably not.

3. If the craft kit or game is still in the plastic it was born with, you're probably okay. If not, you're probably not.

4. If the craft kit is something you'd like to make today, it's probably a good idea. If it's "for a rainy day," beware. You might end up with plenty of other things to do on the rainy days.

5. If the sellers are trying to throw in a bunch of extras, it may certainly sound exciting. Just remember--one person's trash can be another person's treasure. It can also be another person's clutter.

6. If you can't plug it in, beware. Except when it's a cheap, cool mini-appliance that allows you to make tiny cupcakes for a year.

7. Books are still readable after years on someone else's shelf. Computer games and videos are often another story.

8. Have a budget, but make exceptions if you can still follow all--or at least most--of the above rules.

9. Remember that whether something fits in your car should not be the determining factor. Unless you're planning to have it live in your car.

10. Enjoy the treasures without getting lost in the trash. Tag sales can be a mixed bag of great things unused and not-so-great things over-used. Know the difference, and stick to the great things (which is a pretty good motto for life, don't you think?).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Two Days By Ten

Early this morning, I drove my daughter to school. It's a weekly treat for her, on a day when her traveling companions have a different schedule. I would like to say that it gives us quality mother-daughter time, in which we can talk through problems or logistics or feelings. Mostly, I just drive and she just sleeps. But I digress. When I continued my day by going to work, I had the odd sensation that the driving to school had been another day. Even two days ago.

I read an article once about the five (or six or ten--I don't remember) things that successful people do before 7am (or some early time). I remember thinking that, though I am an early riser, and often an early accomplisher, I might never be successful, since the list included things I never even think about doing, before 7 or otherwise. Yet, today, as I was walking, feeling as though I was already on Day 2 at 10am, I felt kind of successful (and perhaps a little tired!). While I had not gone to the gym, answered all my emails, and whatever else I could have done before 7, I had a lot under my belt by 10, and my day (or Day 2 or 3) was just getting started. And coffee in hand, I figured I'd do pretty well in the success column.

With mornings like this, it's no wonder I'm tired at night!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Editing Words

Oddly, though I edit every day, this post is about a different kind of editing. As I've written before, I am working on a children's book chapter. The writing of that is challenging, to be sure, but I am finding that there's perhaps an even more challenging part of the process--the editing, both of my own chapter, and of other people's. The project is a group effort--among about twenty people--so in between writing our own chapters, we edit the chapters of others, with the idea that, in the end, we will have a far more coherent whole book.

As an video editor, I have become fairly used to following my gut. Years ago, a fellow editor reminded me that editing was much more about feeling than about rational decisions, and I have taken that to heart ever since. Editing writing, I suppose, is not all that different--while fixing grammar or spelling is included, what we are really looking to do is beyond the spell-check and grammar-check functions of a computer. It is up to us to feel our way through, so that down the road, our (hopefully many!) middle grade readers will feel something too.

The difficulty with "feel" editing is that what makes one person feel is not necessarily the same as what moves someone else. And, while correcting spelling and grammar might be expected, editing for feeling cuts a whole lot closer to the heart of the writer. I know that a part of me went into my chapter as I was writing, so I assume it was that way for my fellow writers. So, when I edit for feeling, I know that it is as if I am editing the writer's emotions. And though my fellow writers may not be my best friends, I know that each has put some part of her/himself out there for this project, the same way I have.

So, in this case, editing is about what more than what the reader will feel--it is about what the writer will feel as well. Someday, when we are all published writers, we'll be able (and compelled) to survive something more. For now, it's editing for feeling--and editing my editing for feeling as well.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Beyond My Control

When I first became a booth PA, I quickly learned that I was to be judged, at least in part, on things over which I had no control. You see, a large portion of the job was predicting, based on rehearsal, how long scenes would run when they were taped. That information would allow producers and directors to make cuts in material that was too long or add to material that was too short early in the day, so that cast and crew had time to process the changes. In the days when editing was linear, and therefore more cumbersome, it just wasn't that cost-effective or artistically effective to "fix it in the edit," so the PA's predictions, and then timing of the taped reality, were important.

The problem was, quite often rehearsal bore no resemblance to performance on tape. Actors were unlikely to run a fast scene at full speed in a basement rehearsal hall or to shed tears and take halting breaths in an emotional one at seven o'clock in the morning. And, as I used to say, the time of even the most basic scenes could change based on what the actors had had for lunch. Yet, it was up to the PA to predict what would happen, and I took that responsibility very seriously.

Flash forward a bunch of years, and I am still taking seriously both the things I can control and the things I can't. These days, it's not so much about how an actor will play something, but I continue to be surrounded by pieces and parts that are beyond my control.

The difference, I suppose, is that after all these years, I am a little more able to see that things are not my fault, and a little more able to move on once I've apologized and learned something. The lunacy of PA time prediction may be a funny story now, but back then, it struck fear into those of us entrusted with a stopwatch. These days, there is still a serious work ethic, just not as much fear (and a whole lot more perspective).

I guess we learn over time that "out of our control" is just how some things are. And that the best that we can do is predict, adjust, learn, apologize when necessary, and then JUST MOVE ON.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On The Steps of the Palace

Okay, it wasn't exactly the palace, and I didn't leave a glass slipper. I just couldn't resist the Sondheim reference.

It was actually the New York Public Library, the big, fancy branch with the steps and the lions--where the Between The Lions lions lived.

On this bright sunny day, I planted myself for an hour, hoping that the sun above me and the giant literary trove behind me would provide the necessary inspiration (or at least captivity) to finish (or at least start) revisions on my children's book chapter.

I was far from alone. People flanked me on all sides, with busy Fifth Avenue in front of me. Yet, in a little chair, at a little table, with my little manuscript before me, I might as well have been in a dark, isolated room. For close to an hour, my companions on the library steps disappeared, as I became completely immersed in the world of my chapter. I can't say whether it was some mystical power of the library or the lions, or just the power of having taken myself out of my daily routine, but in that hour, I made progress on things that have eluded me for weeks.

Will sitting on those steps work every time? I don't know. All I know is that for this one moment in time, they provided a form of solitude that I needed. A place new enough for me (though I see it many times each week) that I could put aside the rest of my life and just focus.

It's not easy to put aside the rest of life. There are many things daily that demand our attention and care. Yet, taking ourselves away from those things--physically and emotionally--even for an hour, can open us up to all sorts of new experiences. For me today, it was a little clarity in my writing. Who knows what it will be next time?

All I know is that I'll be heading back to those steps, and to other places that "take me away." It may not be tomorrow, but count on it being some time very soon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Video and Paint

As I sat and watched the video for a project I am editing convert ever so slowly on my computer, I found myself thinking a lot about "watching paint dry," and how similar that was to watching the "percentage of job done" move on the screen. And thinking about how both video and paint create colorful images--but only if you're willing to do the work to make the images.

Working on freelance projects has given me a speedy education in all of (well, at least some of) the things we "video editor artists" take for granted when we work at networks or companies. At a network, you don't set up and do tech maintenance on your own edit station. There are people for that. You don't ingest your own footage from the cameras. There are people for that. You often don't even output your own finished products. There are people for that too. When you're working on your own, it's a little like being a painter with no staff. You buy your own paint. You pick the colors and carry the heavy cans. You make sure you have the correct supplies, and you suffer if you don't. You "watch the paint (or primer, or whatever) dry," because that's part of the job. In the end, an awful lot besides painting becomes your job, leaving you remarkably little time for the part of the whole process that you really like to do.

I am slowly learning to see the "paint-carrying" and "watching paint dry" as steps in my being able to edit on my own. It doesn't mean I don't long for assistants, as my eyes glaze over that "percentage of job done" box during ingesting or rendering or exporting. It just means I've realized that sometimes, you have to carry your own paint in order to get the colors that you want.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Take Me Out To...

It feels as though we are always buying tickets to some theatrical performance, often with one of my daughters in it. There is always an imperative to sell tickets, or buy tickets, or both. To show up for the big day (or, as with most shows, days). Today, there was no theater. There was baseball--little league, to be specific. Through a combination of promises and timing, we all went to my son's game. As he threw and batted and ran on a field we could see only blurrily, we ate concession food and talked a little about baseball and a lot about assorted other things. He seemed barely aware that we were there. Yet, we clapped at the good parts and held our breaths at the tense ones, perhaps not so different than at the theater (except squinting in the sun instead of squinting in the dark).

As his team left the field (victorious, yay!), and he walked across left center to meet us, I watched as he noticed our little group. While he might have known all along that we were there, in that moment, he really saw us. Just the briefest pause and smile, but a moment of clear happiness at looking up and seeing his family there to cheer him on.

Don't be fooled into thinking it's always about buying the most tickets. Even when there are no tickets involved, it's often just the showing up that really matters.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Worth The Smile

Why is it that I manage to smash the "make you smile" mugs and glasses, and not the boring "get the job done" ones?

Yup, another character mug bit the dust on my kitchen floor today, preceded by a slow-motion flight off the counter, and a similarly slow-motion "nooooooooo!" from me as it traveled. I was unable to change its course, merely able (and forced) to clean up the shards once the event was over.

I scooped with the efficiency of a person who has done this way too many times before, and with enough speed to make me try to forget, or at least put aside, what I'd done. Dwell too long on the broken pieces of Snoopy and friends, and I might fall apart. After all, it was only a mug.

Why, I wonder, do I surround myself with things  that make me happy, when breaking them (which is remarkably easy with small counters and a tile floor) makes me so sad? Wouldn't it be better just to have things that were serviceable, but not emotional, so that we wouldn't miss them when they broke?

I don't think so. You see, eliminating the "really good," so that we don't have to mourn when it's gone leaves us with a world of "just okay," which might be okay, but just "okay." Isn't it better to have "really good," even if we know it may not last forever?

Sure, I am sad that one of my "make me smile" mugs is gone. But it made me smile while it was here. And that was worth it. And things like that, as far as I'm concerned, will continue to be WELL worth it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I Don't--I Mean, I Didn't--Know

"I'm embarrassed to say," I said, "that I've never done that before. But," I quickly added, "give me a minute. I'll figure it out."

It doesn't matter too much what "that" was. As an editor, I am always coming upon things, technical and otherwise, that I have never done. Different projects have different requirements, and short of spending days just trying things, you will not necessarily encounter everything in the projects you do. But I digress.

So, I made this confession, feeling, for just a moment, unqualified at my edit station. And then I Googled my question, and called a fellow editor, and within moments, I had not only learned the "that," I had also repeated it ten times and taken a screen shot of it for future reference. In the course of fifteen minutes, I had taken something I was embarrassed not to know, and turned it into something brand new for my bag of tricks. All because I was brave enough to say I didn't know, quick enough to look up a solution, and humble enough to ask for help.

Sometimes, the key is not how long you've been doing something, or how much you know. Sometimes it's how you handle what you DON'T know that is the true test.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Soap Lingo and Life

Did you ever wonder whether "tune in tomorrow" really meant "we're tired of writing, we'll write more tomorrow"?

Did you ever wonder whether "cliffhanger" really meant "we'd like to throw someone off a cliff but we will exercise some self-control"?

Did you ever wonder whether "back story" meant "all that stuff you create to justify why what's happening in the present makes sense with what happened in the past"?

Did you ever wonder whether "leaving town" or "in a coma" meant "We really just need a little break from the action here"?

Did you ever wonder whether "storyline" was really "story circle" or "story curve," since nothing ever happened in a straight line?

In life, as in soaps, things aren't always exactly what they seem--or what you call them. The trick is making it watchable. And then scrambling behind the scenes to make it make sense.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


There's a restaurant in NY called Serendipity. It's a dessert place mostly, which would lead one to believe I have been there. I have not.

Yet, there is non-dessert-bearing serendipity just about every day of my life. When I leave later than normal for work, and run into a neighbor I wouldn't have seen had I left on time--serendipity. When I wait for my son's school bus to pull away, rather than walking away as soon as he's on, and then encounter a fellow parent I never get to see--serendipity. When I decide to walk on certain blocks and happen to pass an eager coffee shop employee handing out doughnut or smoothie samples-- serendipity. Serendipity is like the world's antidote to "the sky is falling." It reminds you that sometimes, the things that seem bad turn out well, rather than the things that seem bad getting worse. It places little surprises in your path, and turns a mundane or even an annoying day into a satisfying one.

These last few days, serendipity was on my side. I had a free doughnut hole, and a great conversation. I followed links in an article online, and ended up reconnecting with old contacts. I went to the library looking for one thing, and discovered three others.

You don't have to go to a special restaurant to experience a little serendipity. You just have leave yourself open to what's around you, and to the fact that, most of the time, the sky is not falling. Serendipity's there--you'll find it. You just might be on your own for dessert.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stories and History

Today, someone I'd just met asked me where I'd worked before. I, of course, launched into my whole history of soaps and sitcoms, of directing, ADing, and editing. Did he really want to know any of this? I'm not sure. But it is my history, and he did ask.

Some days, I feel as though all of that history is drifting far into the past--as if a long time ago really is a LONG time ago, and as if all those places I talk about coming from are places long gone. I am a person committed to moving forward, not dwelling in the past, but it made me a little sad to see the past becoming just a story to tell, almost as if I were talking about some other person.

I sometimes think that's because I'm not currently working on the production side, or because I'm not currently working in drama or comedy. The reality, though, is that, no matter where I am working, what I have done before will always be the past. It will always be a story of "what was" talked about from the perspective of "what is." Just as we have to deal with our kids at the ages they are now, not the infants or toddlers they were, we can't help but handle our professional lives by dealing with what we are doing now, even as we celebrate what we have done, and how it prepared us for now. It wouldn't work if we were constantly thinking about our kids as babies while we were helping them with math homework or term papers. Likewise, it is not that helpful to let our past professional accomplishments get in the way of the path we are taking now. In either case, where we have been and what we have experienced can (and should) INFORM today--as long as it stays in its place and doesn't ECLIPSE today.

It was a lot of fun talking about where I have been over twenty-something years. It reminded me to be proud of what I've accomplished, especially when some days, it is easy to get caught up in the daily challenges and forget. Yet, as much as I love and embrace those stories, I realize that they are just chapters. Many, many chapters.

And I am grateful that they are part of my history--and chapters in a story that continues.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Does A Cap Mean You Made The Team?

I came home today with an Arise News baseball cap. Now, I'm not much of a hat person, but I was kind of excited. Just as excited as I was when we got Arise News pens a few weeks ago. It's not that I can be bought. (Though I remember some of the gifts at Cosby being pretty darn good). And, if I could be bought, I suspect it would take more than a pen and a baseball cap. What made it exciting was the idea that a production set-up that started just over a year ago (and started for me less than eight months ago) seems to be thriving. And the idea that I am part of the team thriving with it.

One of the best things (besides steady work and good pay) about ABC, and then Cosby, and, to a certain extent, Soap Camp was the feeling of being part of a team. Perhaps it was purely a function of endurance. Because these shows lasted a while, and I lasted with them, there was time to forge real connections--professional and personal. There was time to understand how the pieces and people fit together. Which meant that logo gifts were not just gifts--they were symbols of being on a team. These teams did not last forever, but I felt a part of them. As interesting as freelancing may be, there is something comforting about landing--at least for a while. Stopping long enough to be a part of something. Long enough to get a hat, and, with it, a feeling of belonging.

Don't expect to see me playing company softball any time soon. For now, it just feels nice to have the hat.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thinking Like...

Having gotten past my technical issues and shot reasonable masters of two casts worth of a youth musical, I was now intent upon using my long developed multi-camera skills to make the recordings more than just reasonable masters. I mean, how many years did I spend in a control room, encouraging directors to keep the shots coming, because it was just more interesting that way?

I knew that there were moments I wanted to shoot tighter. What I didn't realize, until I was in the moment of shooting, was how instinctual thinking like an AD or an Editor had become. You see, I wasn't just shooting tight shots. I was shooting inserts and shots to bridge between parts and between casts. I wasn't just watching the show. I was watching the things that would make it come together on video. In that moment, I suddenly realized that, technical savvy or not, I had a skill set that was different from others who might have been in my shoes. While the recording might be just for the archives, in my eyes, it wouldn't--couldn't--be just archival. It had to be multi-camera, even if I didn't have a multi-camera setup, and it had to be editable, even if I didn't have that much footage with which to edit.

Sometimes we forget how ingrained our skill set or our training has become. And sometimes, we are reminded that the skills we have acquired can be pretty useful. They can have us--no matter where we go--thinking the sum of everywhere we've been.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pushing The Boundaries

In my interview for the AD job at Cosby, as I have probably written here before, I was told that in the job, I would always be expected to say "yes." Whether I thought something was possible or not, I was always supposed to say "yes," and then work like crazy to make it happen. 

Whether I had that mindset before that job, or whether I acquired it there, it is a mindset that has put me in all sorts of situations that seemed too big to handle, but too hard to pass up. 

This weekend, it was shooting video of my daughter's show--not for myself, but for the production company. It's not that I've never shot video before, but it is usually just for myself. Professionally, I am more often the person working with shooters--either describing shots or editing them together (I once had a nightmare about working camera on a soap--and woke up in a cold sweat!). So this was a stretch for me, both in terms of preparing the equipment and knowing tech specs, and in terms of putting my camera skills on display for a whole lot of other people. 

While there has not been quite the cold sweat from my "camera op for a day" nightmare, there has definitely been some sweating. There have been nerves, and false starts, and wishes that I were just editing someone else's footage. But I am pushing through, and in the process, learning a few things I didn't know before. And gaining even more respect for what camera people do to "get the shot." They endure uncomfortable positions and lots of time on their feet. They anticipate things that, if you don't, it's too late to capture. They combine knowing the technical with capturing the beautiful. 

It has been a "pushing the boundaries" experience for me--at times, painful and difficult, at times, immensely satisfying. I am hopeful that the product will be good. In the meantime, I will concentrate on the experience--and my newly expanded boundaries.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Winning Bids

Yesterday, in a free moment at work, I visited the online auction being run by one of my kids' schools. I bid on a few items, and I thought about some others. Since my kids were eager for me to support their schools in this way (and who doesn't like the thrill of a little online bidding!), I figured I should at least do something before bidding ended last night. I could always revisit my bids or place others right before the auction's end, but at least I could say I'd done something.

I woke up this morning to find (via email) that I was the winning bidder on three items. I hadn't broken the bank or anything, but I was completely surprised by the messages, as I had completely forgotten about the auction, last minute bidding and all, once I'd gotten home from work. It is only because I jumped on those free moments earlier that I ended up "in the game" at all. Would I have lived without the things I bought? Sure. I just would have endured the ire of kids who has wanted me to show some school spirit.

The point here is not school spirit, though I am happy to show some when I can. The point is that free moments, well used, do matter. Our lives are unquestionably busy, packed with work and family commitments, and we are challenged just to keep up, and often able to do little more with our free moments than catch our breath. But when we use those free moments for a little more, we end up with a little more. It may not be anything earth-shattering, but it is something that might not fit into our normal schedule, but that we managed to do, simply because we used a few free moments.

It was fun to wake up to the surprise of winning bids, but it was even more fun to know that the use of my free time had made a difference. Whether it's for self-improvement or for bettering the world, or for something in between, a little time can make a difference. If we use it well.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Roller Coaster Practice

Last summer, during one of those "between jobs" (translation: "out of work") weeks, I took my son to an amusement park. The kind with the rides I would never choose to ride, but did, because I was going for Supermom that day. As I recall, I blogged about it then. I went out on a lot of limbs in those eight hours.

One of the "limbs" was a roller coaster. It was nowhere near the biggest (I never made it to those)--its gimmick was surprise. For, you see, each time it would take you in one direction, so that you knew exactly where you were going, it would then suddenly jerk you back and take you on a completely different path. Each time, even if I thought I knew what would be happening, I felt that jerk back. Even after multiple times, I was startled by the change in direction. It was unsettling.

Sometimes, life is just like that roller coaster. Even those of us who have no five-year plan (or even five-month, or five-minute plan) ride along a track. It can be a crooked, curvy one, but it is a track. A path of some kind, leading to, well, someplace. We are aware that the track will have ups and downs, and we understand that sometimes, we'll get that sinking feeling on the downs and that breath-holding feeling on the ups. And that is okay. Well, at least it's manageable.

It is that jerk back at the corners that creates the real challenge. You can plan for the ups and downs. But even if you can know that the jerks back will happen, you simply can't plan for them. You just have to be prepared to change where you're looking. To change what you are thinking and planning, because now, your direction (and, therefore, your view) has changed. The best you can do is to dust yourself off and try to appreciate the new scenery--until your next unexpected turn.

I don't intend to go on that roller coaster again--at least, not any time soon. It was a Supermom moment in time that I am somewhat proud of, but that I don't need to repeat. Besides, when you've got all the effects of a roller coaster every day in life, who needs the real thing? You can get plenty of roller coaster practice--ups, downs, and jerks back included--just by living.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Telling A Good Story

Tonight, my daughter came across a copy of the video I Can Do That, which I made close to fifteen years ago to introduce girls to non-traditional careers. When she wanted to watch it, I wondered what she would think. Even more, I wondered what I would think. While certainly the making of it and its distribution to thousands of schools were things of which I was and am proud, I wondered if its content would hold up all these years later. I held my breath, and she pressed "play."

As I watched, I noticed technical things I would do differently. I noticed things that today's video equipment would improve and things about pacing that would closer match the attention spans of today's music video/Twitter/Instagram kids.

What I noticed more, however, was how relevant the content still seemed. Career women discussed math education and communication skills and the importance of believing in yourself and your dreams and abilities. They discussed the difficulties of getting where they are and the rewards of doing what they do. And as I watched, I realized that all of these things are just as relevant now (for young girls and for seasoned professionals) as they were all those years ago. What is considered "non-traditional" may have changed, but the skills needed to break boundaries and to move ahead are essentially the same.

What also remains the same is the power of good storytelling. For, whatever its technical shortcomings, the video tells a story. Just like the blog I write each day, or the chapter I am penning, or the news feature packages I am learning how to craft. If you tell a good story, it will hold up--and it will hold the viewer/reader.

Watching the video reminded me of the offices and rooftops and outdoor gardens where we shot all of its parts. And it reminded me that when you believe that you can and should do something (and surround yourself with the right team to do it), you really can accomplish great things.

Tell a good story--I can do that.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Do The Math

I currently find myself between two children who are doing math that is ever so slightly--okay, full disclosure--more than ever so slightly--beyond anything I remember from my own math education. They are scribbling and calculating away, and I think to myself, "how did I ever do any of these things, and if I did them, how did I forget them so quickly?"

I remember when I trained as a Booth PA, I was struck with how math had returned to my life with a vengeance. There was no calculus involved, but on a daily basis, I was called upon to think and calculate in base 6 (how else would you add and subtract time?). These days, most PAs I know have time calculators, but back then, it was good old-fashioned math. If you could do it quickly in your head, all the better. And since you were calculating not only how much show time you had used, but also how much was left, and what the time would be if you cut a page and a half of script, you needed to do each calculation forward, backward, and upside down. It was challenging and stressful and exciting, and it is a skill that I still have, though it has been years since my last Booth PA job.

I could explain to my kids how facility with at least the mental gymnastics part of math has actually been an essential part of my work. While it wouldn't help them do their daily homework, it would remind them that math really does matter, and that mental gymnastics, in math or otherwise, is a skill that will always help. For now, I'll just let them finish their homework. After all, we're running over on bedtime by at least 37 minutes, meaning we'll have to take cuts in sleep time. Even if we can give back 12 of those minutes at wake-up time, we'll still be over by 25. And, when it comes to sleep, no number of even the cleverest edit cuts can get that time back.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Do you ever wonder whether anything you do makes a difference? Has a lasting impression on someone, or a bunch of someones, anywhere? Whether you leave any footprints in the world except your huge carbon one?

We tend to spend our lives just keeping up--doing what needs to be done each day, without devoting much time to wondering what effect we will have.

Today, I got an email about an educational video I made almost fifteen years ago. It seems--from the email, that is--that the video is still being used. It is not Sesame Street, with a life in products and on the internet and on the tip of people's tongues, but my video is still out there--still being used to help people, at least in this one place in the country.

When I made that video, I did so with a passion--a true belief that what it had to say was worth hearing, and that I could, in some small way, help improve girls' lives. A lot of time has passed since then--time in which I have been focused on a million other things. Yet, the email today reminded me that what I did all those years ago still has a footprint somewhere--perhaps even a lot of somewheres. In some small way, the work I did is still making a difference.

Never underestimate the effect you can have when you follow a passion, when you work on something you just KNOW needs to be out there. It may continue to leave footprints--even when you think you are walking in a completely different direction.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Is It Just Me, Or....?

Is it just me, or do other people get only about thirty percent of their scheduled weekend tasks done by Sunday night?

Is it just me, or do other people long for the weekend (more sleep, more family time, more sleep) all week, then end up getting no more sleep and not enough (or way too much!) family time once the weekend is here?

Is it just me, or do other people volunteer first, then scramble around like maniacs, figuring out how to accomplish the things they volunteered to do?

Is it just me, or do other people find themselves drawn more to cupcakes than to apples?

Is it just me, or do other people feel they are never doing enough for their kids' schools or activities, no matter how many games and performances they see, and how many foods and tickets and auction items they buy and sell?

Is it just me, or do other people find themselves constantly looking for "what might be," instead of just being content with "what is"?

Is it just me, or do other people keep the clothes that work, but also the ones that don't, and then wonder why some days, their clothes just don't work?

Is it just me, or do other people sometimes wish they could live in a world of cartoons?

Is it just me, or do other people get to Sunday night just not ready to start all over again?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

9 to 5

My daughter is performing in a production of 9 to 5 this weekend and next, and I couldn't help thinking, as I watched it, how lucky I have been in my career and workplaces. (Bear in mind here that no job I have ever had has been 9-5. Ahh, the joy of TV production!)

1. I have never been called "one of the girls," though early on, producers and actors did refer to me and the other front office PAs as "the kids."

2. I have been lucky enough to have friends at work (and lucky enough never to have chased a dead body in a hospital with those friends).

3. I used typewriters like the props they are using when I was first working. And yes, the quality of correction tape and correction fluid DID matter back then.

4. It is, in fact, true (at least in the places where I have worked) that getting along with your coworkers is often at least as important as doing your job well.

5. I have never kidnapped or almost poisoned a boss (and I would be hard-pressed to find a garage door opener in the city to use for this purpose). But planning adventures with friends at work can be a lot of fun anyway.

If you're confused by any of these references, feel free to do a little 80s movie research. Better yet, see the musical next weekend. Believe me, it'll make your workplace (no matter where it is) look pretty good.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Keeping Up

When people ask me about my kids, I tend to reel off the many things that they are doing and add that "I am just trying to keep up."

It's true--there are a lot of things going on, and sometimes, it does feel like a constant race, in which I am not entirely sure which direction to run at any given time. If it is a relay race, and I "pass the baton" to the wrong person, the race changes completely.

What is interesting, however, is that, while I may not literally "keep up" with every detail of what they are doing, just the fact that they DO at all, and that I am simultaneously DOING work to sustain their various DOING, means that, in some small way, I am keeping up.

When you run a race, do you remember every detail the next day, or weeks later? Perhaps if it is a short race, or if you are a professional runner. Most runners (of whom I am definitely not one), I suspect, remember the high points--the difficulties, the small leaps, the finish line. And that is kind of how it is with life. If, in keeping up, I see the performances and games, and share and remember small victories and defeats along the way, perhaps that really is "keeping up."

And perhaps, sometimes, just keeping up is quite enough.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Emmy Nom Day

I thought I was past this. After all, I no longer go each day to a place where people are agonizing over choosing their submissions and scrambling to make copies and awaiting the announcement day and distributing the Television Academy press release listing all the Daytime Emmy nominees. I didn't even remember that said document and the announcement were even happening today--until I started getting emails. First entertainment news alerts, then Facebook post alerts and congrats messages.

For, you see, in the midst of all of it, One Life to Live and All My Children--the online, "Soap Camp" versions--were each nominated in multiple categories (OLTL-7, AMC-4). And, lo and behold, I am part of the OLTL directing team that was nominated.

It is a nominations list full of my friends from twenty years in soaps. People are all over now, but the soap world was, and is, a small one, so the nominations included people I worked with last year, and ones I worked with twenty years ago, who are now at other soaps across the country.

Despite my having been aware of the judging process, it somehow didn't occur to me that I'd be reading today's list, much less finding myself on it. "Soap Camp" feels like a long time ago now, and we move on. And perhaps that's what made today kind of exciting. We all like to believe that things we did mattered--made some kind of lasting impression. And, at least for this small moment in time, it feels as though my involvement in "Soap Camp," the online soaps adventure in Connecticut, DID matter. It may have been short-lived, but, in some small way, it did matter, both in terms of the content we made, and in terms of the ground we broke that put online content right next to network TV content. And, lucky me, I got to be a part of it. And got to be nominated for an Emmy to boot.

Which, I guess, is what sometimes happens when you stick around for the cliffhanger.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Follow Up

As promised, a second post inspired by yesterday's networking event..,

Just when you think that a networking event is about meeting new people, you realize that it is also about reconnecting with old ones.

I thought I might be standing around, nervously awaiting six-minute meetings that could change my life. (Is it really possible for a six-minute meeting to change your life?!) Instead, I found myself catching up with old friends and trading work/life tips with people I'd never met before. In doing so, I discovered not only the words for my six-minute meetings, but a little life perspective as well. In isolation, it is easy to bemoan the difficulties of our situations. When we network, in any way, we remind ourselves of the other challenges that are out there. In isolation, we may think we have a clear picture. When we network, we discover that the picture isn't always what it seems.

I am following up on all the connections and re-connections I made last night. As exciting as networking with people, new and old, may be, it is only a blip in time if you don't follow up to extend it past that.

It's no wonder the term is "follow up." Six-minute meetings may not lead to anything. But following up is how we make sure we're looking forward. If we follow through on those connections we've made, it can't help but make us look UP from our isolation. And move up (wherever our UP may be) from where we are now. Reminiscing about the past, perhaps, but always, always looking forward. And up.