Monday, June 30, 2014

And Summer Begins

How is it that you define summer? Is it by the calendar, a hard and fast June 21st? Is it by the last day of school (which means that summer starts at different times all over, and even at different times for different kids in the same city)? Is it by the weather, so that summer really begins on the first hot day (which would mean summer might start in early May)? Or is it by the first day of camp?

For me, it has been a little bit of each of these, but none more so than today, when some of my kids headed out of town for their summer adventures. These days, my summer has become defined by a smaller household.

When I was out of work, the exodus came with a mixture of agony and relief. While a quieter household allowed me to focus on my job search, it also made the empty emptier and my purpose more unclear. Certainly, I was looking for work, but since I was not working (translate: bringing in money) or consumed with child activities, I found it hard sometimes to see quite where I fit in. Yet, I was glad to know that my kids could escape from my often somber mood, even if just for a short time. When I have been working, it has taken me most of the summer to get used to not racing each morning for early school buses, and used to returning each evening to the very different home dynamic.

Few of us grownups have the real summer/rest of the year split that our kids enjoy. But as my children "began their summer" today, I realized that what I see as summer has begun too, a time that has looked different to me each year. What will this summer bring? Hard to say--except for some ridiculous heat, a bit more quiet, and perhaps a little more sleep.

And from time to time, thoughts of having the noise and chaos and sleep deprivation return when everyone's back for the fall.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Sounds as though it could be the name of a TV show, doesn't it? I'm not sure how the show would look, but my life--in which I imagine many things by living vicariously through others' experience--now, that's something I can see...

As I navigate through the city streets to handle a car maintenance errand, I think about how much simpler the same errand must be in the suburbs.

As I trek along hot streets, choosing my destinations based on how many blocks I feel like walking, I think about my friends who have driven hundreds of miles today to reach their destination--vacation.

As I go to and from the basement doing our large pile of laundry, I think about my friends and relatives in houses, who can do their laundry daily without ever leaving home.

As I arrange for a summer for my kids, I imagine what the summer might look like if money were no object.

Clearly, we cannot live our lives completely vicariously through the experiences of others. I will not be moving to a house in the suburbs or embarking on a long road trip any time soon. Our circumstances are ours, and ultimately, we have to live our lives within those circumstances. But if we can live vicariously, just a little bit sometimes, we open ourselves to what could be, instead of feeling stuck with what is. And sometimes, we realize that "what is" is really pretty good.

So what exactly would that "Vicarious" TV show look like? I'll get back to you on that. I'm busy living vicariously through that person who's eating the hot fudge sundae.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Getting Ahead...Falling Behind

We all spend our days trying to get ahead, right? Ahead in our careers, ahead on life tasks, ahead for our kids. Unfortunately, sometimes there's a very fine line between ahead and behind. A few examples...

Ahead is getting up early to accomplish things before other people wake up. But when you can't stay awake and end up re-waking to a house of chaos, you are most definitely behind.

Ahead is having screen in hand at night to write a blog post early. Behind is being led to use that screen to play a video game you don't even understand with your child.

Ahead is working hard all day, every day. Behind is realizing that what you've accomplished isn't always enough.

Ahead is buying fresh fruits and vegetables so that you and your family can eat healthy. Behind is having to throw many of them away because they spoil before anyone can eat them.

Ahead is making a schedule. Behind is straying from the schedule so much that all you're left with is a list of things undone.

Ahead is getting home on time (whatever "on time" means today). Behind is realizing that since you didn't plan dinner in the morning, "on time" arrival won't result in "on time" dinner.

Ahead is having the wisdom to buy more milk in the morning. Behind is realizing afterward that you are out of eggs too.

Ahead is giving clear instructions about things that need to be done. Behind is falling asleep before making sure they are done. And imposing no penalties when they're not. And finding yourself doing them the next day.

For every few steps ahead, there always seem to be a few more behind. Clearly, I have to work on my directional skills. That is, when I get ahead enough to have time.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tourist at Home

Today, I happened upon a giant Cracker Jack box. You know--that sugary popcorn and peanut stuff that would make you smile and your dentist cringe? It was huge--a replica four times my size--and I even walked away from the promotion with a box of the sweet stuff. It was like being a tourist in my own city.

Living in New York City means I am constantly surrounded by tourists and tourist destinations, yet, most of the time, my kids and I are too much in a rush even to think about enjoying any of the attractions. Between school and work and the various other commitments that go along with them, it sometimes feels as though we could live anywhere, since we don't have time to stop and see what's around us. When I was out of work, I thought I might do more "seeing" in my newly free time. But out-of-work free time doesn't go too well with paid entertainment, so the weeks came and went, no tourist days among them.

What I realized yesterday at the Cracker Jack box was how many opportunities there are to be a "tourist" at home, just by looking around rather than racing, head down, from place to place. Being a "tourist" isn't just about paying admission to see the sites. It's about getting a feel for a place, enjoying what it has to offer. And I am lucky to live in a city where many of the things "offered" are just out there to be seen.

There won't always be a giant Cracker Jack box in my path. And I won't always have the time to walk slower or take alternate routes. But if I can look up from time to time, I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot more sightseeing. Here at home.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Tonight at 9pm, I found myself traveling across town with my son to buy a birthday present for a party to which he was invited. Crazy as it sounds, this is not the first time I've done a late night odyssey like this. When you know that every day is filled to the brim, I figure it's important to use every moment, wisely or not, to make sure things get done.

We came home empty-handed, having not found what we were looking for, and refusing to settle for something else.

As I settled back in to my not-so-quiet evening at home, a period of time I usually spend decompressing from my day (and sometimes decompressing so much I fall asleep on the couch), I wondered, had we just wasted an hour or more of our time, time we would never get back? We might simply have ordered online (which we ended up doing anyway), and saved ourselves time and sweat and frustration along the way.

The more I thought about it, however, I realized that what we gained in our odyssey far outweighed what we lost. We, of course, got some exercise, as the entire journey was on foot (and scooter), at a pace appropriate for getting to stores before they closed. We also gained talking time together, which is rare in a family of five. And we gained the shared experience of our quest, and the experience of working together, even if our work produced not that much--okay, zero--result.

Sometimes, odysseys are like that. Sometimes a journey, no matter how long or how far or how fast, is important just for the journey. (Okay, that's a little deep when the journey is in search of a birthday gift, but go with me here).

In small ways, we go on odysseys almost every day. Our assorted quests may not always produce glorious results. Most of our odysseys, in fact, end in a bit of exhaustion and a lot of sweat. That doesn't mean we should never go on an odyssey. Our challenge is to make sure that when traveling, near or far, we find worthwhile sights to experience along the way.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Endings and Beginnings

As a parent, you are no stranger to beginnings--first steps, first words, first days of school. You quickly learn that you will constantly be faced with situations you have never before encountered, and be expected to handle them safely and wisely. And you do your level best to meet the expectations.

What nobody ever really mentions is the endings. In addition to being good at the beginnings, you need to be good at the endings too--that is, if you are to survive as a parent. Endings of books, endings of good (and bad) play dates, endings of parties and vacations and school years.

As we come upon the end of another school year, I am questioning my "ending" skills. Have I made sure my kids got enough from the year, right up to the end? Have I appreciated the year for what it was--whether a big transition or not? Have I made sure that we would all be ready for the next step, whether by test prep or hard work, by learning new skills or creating new adventures? Have I made plans for the kids' summers that will actually work, so that the ending will glide right into the beginning, or has the ending so caught me by surprise that I will be playing catch-up all summer? And, perhaps most of all, do I really need to be melancholy about an ending, when my kids are off and running to their next beginning?

The truth is that we can't ever begin anything unless we are able to get through the endings. Whether it's school, or work, or a great book, endings are what give us the opportunity to start something new. We can't explore what's in front of us without in some way leaving things behind. So, if we are to move forward, to the next grade or the next job or the next place, we have to survive--perhaps even celebrate--the endings, as much as we do the beginnings.

In just a few days, another school year will have ended. I'll be taking--well, at least trying to take--a big gulp, and moving on to the next beginning.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who We Once Were

As people began to know about my Emmy, I found myself explaining how it was that I went from being part of an Emmy-winning dramatic directing team to editing video at a news channel. It wasn't that the Emmy itself made this transition unlikely. Rather, the Emmy was a conversation starter with people who didn't really know where I came from. And a way into where other people came from as well.

Early on in your career, it's easy to hear people's job stories. When you're the newbie, people are more than happy to regale you with tales of how they got to where they are. And when you continue to work in the same area, you begin to be the storyteller. And when you come up through the ranks, you find similar stories along the way.

Later on, and as you transition to other areas, as I have, moving forward becomes the focus. It becomes far more important to do well in your current role than to look back on your past ones. And somewhere along the way, it's easy to put aside those past roles, and redefine yourself in the new ones. It's a matter of adaptation. Of survival.

Today, because of the Emmy, I had the opportunity to talk a little about who I once was, and along the way, I got to find out a little bit about who some other people once were. It was a lovely eye-opener.

There's nothing wrong with adapting to who we are today. That's practical, and it's healthy. But sometimes, it's nice to be reminded of who we once were, and in the process, find out who the people around us "once were" as well.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gifts That Keep On Giving

Tonight I won a Daytime Emmy. "How is that possible?" you may ask, since I haven't worked in Daytime for close to a year. Well, Emmys operating the way they do, this was for work from a year ago, specifically my part on the directing team of One Life to Live's online version.

I did not go up on stage in LA, wearing sequined clothes and a giant smile. I watched the win, courtesy of live streaming, on my phone, at my dinner table, with my children, but even across the country, my colleagues could have heard my kids--and me--scream when the winner was announced.

I won't lie--it will be exciting to have another golden statue arrive on my doorstep. But as I watched a director with whom I've worked for years give the acceptance speech, I was thinking about more than just the statue. For that handful of months in Connecticut, at the place I fondly referred to as "Soap Camp," I was part of a group of people who came together and believed we could create something great. Something familiar, and yet new. There were late nights, and long train rides, and moments of utter confusion, but mostly, there was the coming together of a bunch of people dedicated to continuing--and furthering--the soap medium.

It has been almost a year since all of that finished. But as I watched tonight, I was reminded of what a gift it was to be a part, not just of that winning directing team, but of the One Life to Live/All My Children effort as a whole. It didn't just give work to me and hundreds of other people. It gave new hope and a new home and new excitement and a new challenge to us all.

The Emmy is thrilling, to be sure. But the gift of what got us to that Emmy is one that I will never forget. It's a gift that keeps on giving.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Word of Mouth

I have learned  in my job searching that personal connection generally does more than any amazing cover letter that you can send. It's simple, really--if someone knows you or knows someone who knows you, you become instantly more interesting than if you are just a bunch of words on a piece of paper.

It turns out that most of life operates the same way. Tonight, my daughter and some friends performed the cabaret act that they have been preparing for weeks. The concert ran just an hour, but it was the result of fierce dedication to rehearsal and an ongoing belief that something like this was possible and necessary.

As I looked out into the audience, I saw not only family and friends of the kids participating, but the faces of many of the people to whom my daughter and I had spoken about the event. At that point, I realized what "word of mouth" really means. Whether in job searching or in life, no sign, flyer, or resume really holds as much weight as a person saying, "You should come," or "This is a person you should meet." Pieces of paper might create awareness, but word of mouth creates attachment.

I was happy to see that my daughter's event was a success, both in terms of performance and in terms of audience. It was a fantastic evening of song. It was a tribute to dedication and friendship. And it was a reminder to both of us of everything that can happen with a little word of mouth.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Heavy Lifting

As I walked to work, carrying heavy audio equipment I had just purchased, I saw a woman hailing a cab, a toddler in her arms, and a not much older child by her side. In the moment I noticed her, I felt relief at not having a child young enough to need constant lifting (not to mention another child alongside, but essentially dependent).

By the time I'd walked past her, I was laughing at myself. You see, the equipment I was carrying, which probably weighed almost as much as the toddler, was for a project for my daughter. So, while I may no longer be carrying heavy children in my arms, clearly my schlepping and taking responsibility for children is far from over.

The woman with the kids would be vigilantly watching her kids all day, making sure they were fed and safe and asleep on time, and in that moment, I was in awe of her. I've been there, and it's not easy. But, as I realized, I too would be spending the day worrying for my kids--just in different ways. Would I get the heavy packages home safely to my daughter? Would the project for which I'd bought them work out for her? Having spent the time buying the items, would I be home in time to deal with dinner or whatever else was needed? Would I be making enough at work to justify having made this purchase to help my child? The immediate concerns may look different than carrying a child for a day at the park, but in some ways, they are very much the same.

I am happy to report that the packages made it home in one piece, and that my arms survived the journey. I hope that the woman with the two small children can say the same. For both of us, the "heavy lifting" continues tomorrow. Because, no matter how old our kids, that's just what we do.

Friday, June 20, 2014


As I read friends' posts about graduations from every level of school, I am struck by how quickly life goes. While we are struggling just to manage the day-to-day, big things change--elementary turns to middle, middle to high. Kids go to college, and then out into the world. All while it seems we are still trying to figure out what to make for dinner.

All these graduation notices made me stop and think a little about timelines...

It has been a year since the full-blown "soap camp" ended (Ironically, co-workers of mine are headed to the Daytime Emmys this weekend on behalf of those shows).

It has been more than three years since ABC announced cancellation of the soaps, and closing in on three since my time at ABC ended.

It has been two and a half years since I filed for unemployment, believing at the time that I wouldn't collect for long because I'd be back to work quickly. Quickly turned out to be not so quickly.

It has been two years since I spent a month on Bayou Billionaires, which, at the time, was like a miracle in my job search.

It has been two years since the summer of 99 cent pizza and cheap burritos.

It has been almost two years of writing blog posts.

In the middle of all of this, there have been graduations and shows, births and deaths and a hurricane. Timelines almost separate, yet ultimately part of the same life.

Time does go quickly. It's easy to miss the big while we're managing the small--and to miss the small as we get caught up in the big.

It is up to us to finish deciding what to make for dinner, and make sure we don't miss everything else while we're cooking.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Living in Cyberchase

I feel as though I am living in Cyberchase. You know, the cartoon show where the kids are constantly saving Motherboard from The Hacker (and learning about math along the way)? Okay, not really, since I am no expert on the inner workings of the computer, but between editing early morning at home and editing all day at work, it feels as though the computers and I have become one, almost as if I enter the computer in the morning and come out for dinner at night.

I have been editing for a long time. Why is it, then, that I suddenly feel this way after all these years?

1. Learning curve. While I have certainly been learning things all along, I finally have the time and curiosity and necessity to learn more. So I am exploring the "whys" and the "hows," things for which I just used to pick up the phone and call a troubleshooter.

2. Material. Whether it's news at work or music and theater at home, I am fascinated by how many ways I can tell a story with editing. And the more fascinated I become, the more deeply immersed in the computer I find myself.

3. Exploration. Just like those little Cyberchase kids, I find myself always trying to work out a new problem. And I hesitate to walk away before it's solved (risking being late to work from home editing and late home from work editing).

4. Slight disorientation in the non-computer world. Hard to imagine the Cyberchase kids just living in a regular world, right? Some days, I find it challenging to transition back from living in what the screen and the keyboard are telling me.

I figure all of this is just a really good education--in editing, and also in kids' TV. Today--Cyberchase. Tomorrow--hmmm, we'll just have to see.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Multi-Job Life

A friend of mine is job hunting. Several others have just started new jobs (knowledge I have courtesy of LinkedIn). It's funny--I assume that people were moving around just as much as when I was working in soaps, but I certainly don't remember it. Is the world different now, or am I just more aware of it because of things like LinkedIn?

I imagine that it's a little bit of both. In the last few years, I have discovered a world that, at least in my industry, has "gone freelance." Not only is moving from job to job happening, it has become the norm. With reality productions that last just a few months, and talk shows that take long summer breaks, and small or large projects accomplished within the confines of small and smaller budgets, moving around has simply become a part of the equation.  We TV people just have to be ready to move.

I think, however, the movement of my non-TV friends fascinates me even more. From a company's perspective, does productivity really improve with the movement of employees (or with the long hiring processes that I watch my friends go through)? From an employee's perspective, does it enhance a career--financially or creatively--to be on the move every year or two? I can't really say--I have never been through--or conducted--a long interview process, and the moves I have made have been out of necessity, not just by choice. And while I can say that each of the jobs I've done has taught me something, and that being out of work has taught me a few things too, I have to weigh the learning against the insecurity and the against the "first day of school feeling" at each new job. Is the learning worth it? Depends on the day.

I continue to read LinkedIn, fascinated by people's movement and progress. Even if the job market is no different than it was back then, it's fun to be able to "watch" it. Clearly, it's not a one-job life anymore. I suspect it never will be.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Not The Same, But...

When I was an AD at ABC, I used to tell people how I loved the fact that my job had two parts--the studio, where I worked with the show as it was being shot, and the edit, where I fixed and tweaked episodes that were already shot to make them ready for air. Though parts of the same show, the two jobs were as different as night and day--the studio put me in the middle of a people-filled, sound-every-minute, fast-paced atmosphere, while the edit had me in a dark room, alone for most of the day. In the studio, my job, by its very nature, had me talking all day. In the edit, I could go hours without talking to anyone. In the studio, decisions needed to be made split-second. In the edit, decisions were often thought and re-thought, tested and retested.

As I talked to people about my job, I realized how rare it was for someone to be doing both parts of it. In most places, there were Editors and there were ADs. Two completely different people, two completely different skill sets. I came away from that job wanting to have that split again--editing, but not sitting in a dark, quiet room all day, every day, and production, but not having the noise and chaos and talking all day, every day.

I had all but given up ever having such a situation again. I have multiple resumes that highlight my different skill sets. In the comfort of my own home, I read about editing AND production, but I currently have a job that is just editing, and a side project at home that is just editing too.

But are they? What I have begun to realize is that while my titles may say "Editor," what I am doing is actually the closest I've come to the split I used to have. Maybe it's just me, gaining confidence in my post-soap world, finding ways to combine my skills in the jobs I do, carving out places that work. For, while no two jobs are the same, there are always shared elements, and it's when we find those shared elements that we can truly transfer our skills.

Today, I'm an Editor with a keen eye on the pace of production. Tomorrow, I may be a 
Producer or Director with an eye for the edit. Not the same, I know. And yet, maybe they are more the same than I thought.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Can Do

On Friday, as my son and I made our way to his bus stop, we passed a neighbor taking her daughter to school. She was carrying a large open box, surely, I thought, some sort of "end of year" class treat. As I peeked into the box, however, I saw that it was not baked goods at all. Filling the box were containers upon containers of home-cooked food, and the woman and her daughter were headed to the supermarket to add bread and flowers to what seemed already a heavy load. They would be dropping the box, she said, with a family in which the mom had just had surgery. Through a signing up website, she and others were making sure that the dad and kids would be well fed each night as they handled the difficult situation.

I thought about how all I ever carried while getting my kids to school was their backpacks or a class treat. I thought about how I have a hard time just getting dinner on the the table for my own family some nights. And I thought about how moved I was to see someone who had not just recognized someone else's difficult situation, but had taken her time and energy (the box she carried for blocks seemed quite heavy) to make that situation a little better. While she couldn't change what the family was going through, she could make things just a little easier for them.

Mostly, I think about looking out for my own family. Probably that's what most of us do. Though we surely feel for other families' difficulties,  how often do we take that next step--carry that heavy box--to make another family's situation better? Yet, when I think about the little things that have helped me through situations big and small, I am grateful for people like that neighbor, who seemed to think nothing of the time or the schlep, and everything of what she was able to do to help.

It's not always about your resources-- time, money, or otherwise. Sometimes, helping make things just a little better is simply about seeing that you can. And then turning "can" into "do."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pre-Summer Weekend

"It's a summer weekend," thought I. "Why aren't we immersed in some summer-worthy something?"

First of all, it is not officially summer yet. And second, I learned today that you can still channel summer, just a little, with no travel, no beach, and no watermelon. Sometimes summer (well, pre-summer) is just about not following a normal schedule, and on that score, today was the perfect summer day.

It all started with a later than 6am wake up. This is not unusual for my kids, but it's positively luxurious for me.

Next came a huge urge to go somewhere. But there was nowhere we were required to go. What?! Nowhere required? That sounds like summer!

So we took a walk. Just to enjoy a little fresh air and sunshine. (Thank goodness it was "pre-summer air," not summer humidity!). Which led to bags brought home (though just from the library, not from a tag sale or farm). Which was followed by hours of watching library videos (because the school year has wound down enough to have homework-free time). And a return to the gym (made possible by our having no place to go) and a dinner full of leftovers (what's more "summer" than not cooking?).

I thought that we were giving up a bit of summer this weekend. Turns out, you can find a bit of summer (even before summer actually starts), without really going anywhere. Even without the corn, and the sunscreen, and the watermelon, summer's about having the time just to enjoy. And that's possible, no matter where you are.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Taking Out

Normally, no matter what time it is, or what kind of day I've had, I'm willing to throw dinner together with whatever's in the house. It's not guaranteed to be good, but it is almost certainly guaranteed to be cheap. It's partly a remnant from my time out of work. It's hard to forget the counting every penny and the fear of going out anywhere, lest I spend money I wasn't bringing in.

Now that I am "bringing in," I'm a little more willing to take out. It's not that we're suddenly millionaires. We never were anyway, and after the last few years, any thoughts of that are far away. No one tells you that once you've been out of work, you never truly recover, financially or psychologically. The feeling of being at risk never really goes away, no matter how many days you work.

Thankfully, along with that feeling of risk comes a feeling that you can't always live as if the sky is falling. A feeling that if you can't include some fun or specialness into your life, it doesn't matter whether you're "bringing in" or not.

So, some nights, like tonight, I do "take out." It adds a little zing (and subtracts a little work). It costs a little (or, it being New York City, a lot) more, but it also reminds me to celebrate what I do have. The risk may live on, but the celebration should live on too. Sometimes with a little Thai food on the side.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Eye On The Ball

That's important, right? In tennis, and baseball, and life, if you don't keep your eye on the ball, you're unlikely to get a hit. Worse, you're likely to be hit. Hard.

The problem is, in tennis and in baseball, there's one ball at a time. In life, there are many. So, how exactly do you choose which ball your eye should follow at any given time? If you focus squarely on your career, doing your best where you're working or your cleverest when you're searching, you are likely to miss a school event or the test prep that you should have scheduled for your kids. If you choose to follow the "kids" ball, are you missing career opportunities that go flying right past you? And even if you choose the "kids" ball, it turns out that there are many. Have you chosen to watch the "kids and school and standardized tests" ball, or the "kids and health" ball? Or the "my kid's passion" ball? And clearly, each kid has a whole different set of balls to throw, so is your eye on Kid 1's or Kid 3's? Because you had better believe there are balls related to each whizzing past you at any given time.

I am not much of an athlete, but I have watched sports enough to know that I'm trying to watch a whole lot more balls than I would need to on a tennis court or a baseball field. It's clear that every day, we have to take our eyes off many to watch many others. There are surely days when we will swing at the wrong one. We just have to hope that more often than not, we'll be watching just the right ball at just the right time. So that we won't strike out or be hit really hard. And so that either we'll be walking in the right direction, or we'll have an out-of-the-park home run.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I had a sudden awareness today that I had no idea what I was wearing. I had met a friend for coffee, and we were so intensely in conversation, that I became completely unaware of how I looked.

Though there are days when I agonize over my clothing choices in the morning (often in the dark, so as not to wake anyone in my apartment prematurely), I have a feeling there are many days when I experience this phenomenon. I become so engrossed in work or conversation or both, that I genuinely forget (until I'm taking off the clothes at night) what it is that people have been seeing me in all day.

One could argue that this means I am not putting my best foot forward. I choose to believe that I am actually putting my best head forward--being there, completely, in whatever I am doing, whether it's a conversation with a friend or a task at work. Am I this single-minded all the time? Absolutely not. The realization that I had today about not remembering my outfit doesn't happen every day. The point is, we can multi-task with the pros, but if we can't also have focus enough for each task, what do we really accomplish?

The feeling I had today was largely a tribute to the power of friendship, and how friendship can make all the exterior stuff disappear. But it was also a reminder that single-tasking, whether in work or in life, is a worthwhile goal--sometimes, perhaps, even more worthwhile than its "multi-" partner.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Seeing Past

Whatever just happened is the worst thing that ever happened, and if don't get results today, I never will, and I must be incompetent and worthless if they chose someone else for that job instead of me.

Sounds a little over-dramatic, doesn't it? Yet, who among us hasn't thought at least one of those things at least once? And at the moment we are thinking them, they are not overly dramatic at all. On the contrary, they are hard and fast truths. Worse yet, they are truths that won't change. At least it feels that way when we are feeling them.

I am finding that one of the hardest things to do, in work and in life, is to see past the moment to realize that much of the time, the thoughts above, and many others like them, are not even close to true, and more important, not even close to permanent. And that some of the time, these moments are actually the ones that propel us forward to things we can't even see.

When you're out of work, it very quickly becomes hard to see yourself working again. Not only are you surrounded by the new shape of your days, you have nowhere to picture working. And you are faced with places where you try to picture yourself working, but have to give them up when resumes and interviews don't work out. If you could see past, you'd see a place where you do land, and how it turns out to fit quite well with the rest of your life.

When you are working, and things change, it becomes very easy to believe that change will be dire--and unchangeable--and that what seemed good will be bad and what seemed workable will be impossible. If you could see past, you'd see that sometimes rules are just guidelines. That sometimes the unchangeable actually can be changed.

It's a little like that "hindsight is 20/20" thing. Most things end up looking better after the fact than they do while we are experiencing them. The challenge, then, is to find some of that 20/20 hindsight while we are in the moment. To stop and see past to the good that will come out of what feels awful right now and the strength that will come from what feels like weakness right now.

We do all sorts of exercise for ourselves-- from the elliptical for our bodies to crosswords for our brains. Perhaps it's time for some eye exercises. So at least once in a while, we are able to see past.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I Thought...What Was I Thinking?

I thought I'd go right from soaps to children's TV. But life doesn't always go in a straight line, does it?

I thought that I would keep in constant touch with my former co-workers forever. But day to day life intervenes, doesn't it?

I thought that once you lose touch, you can never get it back. But once in a while, an unexpected phone call or email reminds you otherwise.

I thought that I'd never have time for friends outside of work. Turns out that being out of work was the best way to fix that.

I thought that friends outside of work would fall away when I was working. Turns out that doesn't have to happen.

I thought that parenthood would he simpler when I was no longer changing diapers and providing accompaniment for my children's every move. What was I thinking?

I thought that I would never work in news. It turns out that news is just telling a different kind of story.

I thought I'd be settled more in something by now. Oh, well.

I thought I'd be more upset about being unsettled. But, on a good day, "unsettled" just means "still exploring." And exploring is a good thing.

I thought that by now, I would know who I was when I looked in the mirror. Some days, I do. Others, I'm just not sure.

I thought that knowing who you are at every moment was necessary. Turns out that when you're not sure, you find out you're a whole lot of things you never thought you could be. Which helps with the parenting and the friendships and the exploring and the zig-zaggy lines. And, well, with just about everything.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Suit Shopping

A friend of mine is shopping for an interview suit. I told her I'd be hard-pressed to find a suit for myself if I needed one. Working as a video editor doesn't exactly call for spiffy professional attire. If I look fairly "together," and matching, and am basically comfortable both at work and in my travels around town delivering children, I figure that's enough.

Talking about my friend's suit search, however, made me wonder--if I ever did need to buy a suit, what kind would I buy? Would it be a very traditional color, or something trendy? Would it be tailored or more forgiving in shape? Would it identify me as in charge or in line? Apart or approachable?

The more I thought about it, the more I began to realize what a range, both of suits and of people wearing suits, there could be, and what a range of messages a suit might send about the person in it. What I was picturing as a strictly dark-colored, tailored suit might not fit my body. But the truth is, it might not fit my attitude either.

I suspect that if and when I buy a suit, it will be one that accommodates the shape of my body and the shape of my life. If it says, "I'm in charge." it will likely add, "What can we work out together?" While acknowledging a "suit culture," it will also acknowledge the culture from which I come--a culture of comfy clothes, and show black, and funky sneakers.

For, you see, a suit is not just a uniform. Like so many things, it's merely a different way to express ourselves. What kind of suit will we wear? It depends--what are we trying to say today? It's not all black, and brown, and blue, and it doesn't have to confine us--it can define us as well. Who are we today? Chances are, the suit will give you some idea.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Learning The City

Many years ago, when I was a production secretary (do they even call them that any more?), fresh out of college and the suburbs, I spent hours traveling around the city doing errands for my boss. I used to say that I learned the city that way. (If I recall correctly, I also learned a tremendous amount about gourmet foods, which were often part of the "pickup list.")

But I digress. All those years ago, I learned the city from the comfort of a cab, or sometimes even a car service. If I was schlepping stuff back, it was quite often with the help of a driver, and, of course, both the schlepped stuff and the ride were at my boss's expense.

I was reminded today that while I am still, all these years later, learning the city, it is now at my own expense, mostly on trains, buses, and foot. These days, I am rarely schlepping gourmet foods or production supplies. Instead, most of my travels have me schlepping children--and their stuff. If I am going to the four corners of the city, it is rarely--okay, never--in the comfort of a "town car." Rather, it is on the series of trains that HopStop told me to take and on the walks before and after the trains. If I am running late, I'm worried not about whether the only store with "red cabbage in jars" will close, but about whether my child will be waiting alone at a baseball field. If I pick up the wrong thing, I'm concerned not about being fired for incompetent errand running, but about whether all of tomorrow will be spent getting what I didn't get today (which is needed for school on Monday).

It has been a long time since I "learned the city" as part of my first job. I know a lot more than I did then, but I am still learning, perhaps even more, now that the trips are via "ankle express," and my "bosses" are younger than I am. Learning the city is a process that doesn't stop--these days it just has a literally steeper learning curve.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Making Up Words

This morning, I used the word (words?) "yuckish-sickish" in an email.

Do you know how hard it is to get a smartphone to let you use the word "yuckish-sickish"?

But I needed to use that word, so I persisted, and now, I can use the word as often as I like. I am even offered that word when I'm trying to say something else.

Sometimes, it takes making up words like that to express how we really feel. Sometimes it takes doing battle with a device, or a person, or ourselves, or making time where there is none, or even surviving feeling a little yuckish-sickish in order to move forward and accomplish the things we'd like. Sometimes it takes all of these things to make us stronger, and smarter (even if we make up words)--and happier.

And not so yuckish-sickish anymore.

Friday, June 6, 2014

An Hour At The Library

When I was little, I spent a great deal of my summer at the library. There was story hour, and there was the summer reading program booklet to fill up with books read, so there was always a good reason to go. Besides, it was free and air-conditioned, which was a good thing in the humid South.

I don't imagine that I have spent that much time in a library since. (Well, perhaps I did in college, but with shelves upon shelves of research books, that library just wasn't the same).

I have recently rediscovered the library, a little for the books, but a whole lot more as a respite from the rest of the world. In the library, you are not called upon to spend money. You don't have to talk--rather, you are likely NOT to talk. There is a silence and a stillness that is a rare find in the city. And, on top of all of that, there are thousands of books of all kinds to explore, without any long-term commitment (except returning them on time), and without anyone judging your choices.

Why this new discovery? Well, it happens that there is a large library near my work, and with a daily "lunch break" not really at lunch time, I am faced with a free hour, five days a week. I could do errands, but only ones close by. I could schedule appointments, but only if I believe that any doctor's office will run on time all the time. I could meet friends for coffee, but only friends who have the same random hour free. I could go shopping, but only if I want to have no money left by the end of the week. And so, at least some days, I go to the library. There are days when I check out or return books, for myself or for my kids. But there are many days when I just sit--reading, writing emails or blog posts, or simply absorbing the quiet. No matter what I do there for all or part of my hour, I return to work refreshed from my library visit.

In New York City, as in many other places, I'm sure, public libraries are struggling to stay afloat in a world of e-readers and online booksellers. I hope they win the fight. So that all of us continue to have not just free books to read, but places to step away from the world, even if it's just for an hour.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Building Party

Several times a year, my building has a party. It's a time to see people whose paths haven't crossed mine in a while, to see how tall people's kids have gotten, and to eat dinner without cooking or ordering in. I consider it a win-win.

There were many years when I missed these parties. They are, of course, geared toward people who are either home or working normal hours. Thus, many years, I would come home from a long production day to the sight of caterers carrying away the supplies, the dinner and the hundreds of guests long gone. And then there were a few years when the party was the highlight of a day when I'd spent hours alone, sending resumes and waiting for emails.

Tonight, I was grateful to be home early enough to partake in dinner and some reconnecting, but not so "home" that I headed down to the party early, just to have something to do after a day alone. I was grateful for the no-fuss family dinner, and for the fact that my kids, like so many of the others I've watched grow up in my building, are doing fine. And I was grateful to be part of a community that goes on, even as my life has shifted over the years.

The building party is over for another six months--I'll be back to making dinner tomorrow. But it was nice, even for a short time, to be reminded that neighbors do matter, even if you see some of them just a few times a year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stranger in a Strange Land

Tonight, I heard a writer speak about how her travels to assorted countries led her to create books for children.

Okay, that is a huge oversimplification of her talk. She had written before her travels, and it was more than just the travels that caused her to create the books and work to get them published. Her message, however, was that when you are in a place where everything you experience--language, culture, food, daily life--is new to you, you are more able to open yourself up to seeing things and to taking the risks needed to make yourself heard.

As I walked home on a street I'd rarely walked, I thought a lot about her talk. While I haven't traveled (and am unlikely to travel) to the places she has, or to anyplace nearly that exotic, I have walked into new situations a lot in the past few years, and the world being how it is, will likely walk into a bunch more. Have I, I wondered, used those new experiences to see more, hear more, experiment more?

Certainly, there have been places where I have been too "deer in the headlights" to do anything more than survive. Yet, there have also been places where what she said was true--where being a stranger allowed me to experiment, to try new things, to test my abilities. And to generate work and skills I might never have found, had I stayed in one place.

It's scary to be a "stranger in a strange land." For her, that included communication in languages she did not speak. While few of us may have that experience, any new place does come with "language immersion" of sorts. We can choose to be silent, or we can choose to turn being a stranger into the greatest inspiration for developing our talents. "Stranger" experiences are out there everywhere, particularly in a world where work and life can change daily. It's up to us to turn them into experiences that make us feel at home--and comfortable and uncomfortable enough to risk and grow.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Monday Morning

This morning when I walked into work, Monday weariness all over me, I saw a graphic designer retrieving her chair, which had, I suppose, been appropriated for a meeting when she wasn't there. It was funny, actually, the idea that you'd have to retrieve your own chair when you arrived at work, and I chuckled with her about it as I said "Good morning."

Mondays aren't always easy. So much always seems undone at the end of my weekends that it can be hard to return to work, knowing that all the personal stuff will have to wait for another weekend. Yet somehow, this little humorous interaction about the chair welcomed me back to Monday. Somehow, it was a lovely reminder that it's okay to transition from the undone at home to the undone at work. That it's okay to leave the comfort of home when you realize that you have some kind of comfort--or at least camaraderie--at work. That perhaps you are not the only one struggling to make that home to work transition (and at least you have a chair waiting for you when you get there). And that having somewhere to go can be a whole lot better than facing Monday alone.

Monday morning quickly fades into a week full of whatever happens before the next weekend. I've survived it for another week. I'll get back to you, weekend. For now, I'm happy to say, I've got places to go.

Monday, June 2, 2014

What I Am (And What I'm Not)

I started writing a post about the nature of jobs and job searching, and how both have changed over my years of working. Deep stuff, huh?

About a third of the way through, I heard myself sounding like half of the job boards and newsletters I receive in my inbox, and I stopped typing. While this blog may have grown out of my job searching experiences, I thought, that's not really what "Not Washed Up Yet" is about. It's about change and adaptation, and about finding the good in the lousy. I am in awe of my friends who change jobs regularly, by choice or out of necessity, but I am no expert. I am finding my way--as many of us are--from a work life that ran in a straight (well, fairly straight) line to one that twists and turns on a daily basis. I am finding my way through a home life that changes each day. And on the good days (and on the bad ones too), I am sharing a little bit of what I've learned--or a laugh I've had--along the way.

I'll leave the job blogging to the job bloggers. I'm just grateful that I'm not washed up yet.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


I can't help it--weekends throw me off balance. No alarm for early morning wake up, no lunches to be made or school buses to catch, no set schedule to follow.

Now, you might argue that this is all good. Everyone can use a little down time, right? The problem, however, is that down time really isn't down time. During the week, there may be lots of expectations-- work and homework to be done, lessons and classes to attend. But on the weekends, there are completely different expectations--home maintenance, quality family time, preparation for the week--and no one gives you a schedule for those. You're just supposed to fit them all in on your own. Which, most weekends, leaves me feeling a little--or a lot--off-balance.

If it's a nice day, is it terrible to spend it inside de-cluttering the apartment? If family members want to do different things, do you force "family time"? If you don't do the laundry or the grocery shopping, will people make it through the week dressed and fed? And if you don't wake up to an alarm, will you ever have enough hours in the day to get everything--or anything--done?

You see? Weekends might be designed as a respite from the week, but they can really leave a person feeling a little wobbly.

How, then, do I find balance? Well, mostly I don't. Mostly, I accept the off-balance, balance the expectations as much as I can, and land on firmer ground (usually with clean clothes and a stocked fridge) by Monday. Have I had extra sleep or some quality family experiences? Maybe. But I consider it a success as long as I haven't completely lost my balance and fallen on my face.