Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cleaning For Guests

We are (no surprise here) cleaning. What's different this time, however, is that we are cleaning in preparation for the arrival of guests. I am realizing that cleaning for guests is entirely different than cleaning for yourself. Perhaps more effective, perhaps less, but entirely, completely different...

When you clean for yourself, you leave some of the obstacles, because you are so used to walking around them that you hardly see them as obstacles any more. When you clean for guests, you immediately move them, horrified at the thought of your company tripping over that shopping cart (or chair or umbrella stand) in the middle of the entry way.

When you clean for yourself, you can't bear to put away the mementos (photos, kid artwork, old show programs) that you kind of like seeing every day. When you clean for guests, those things look like clutter, so at the very least, they get shoved into a drawer or cabinet.

When you clean for yourself, you work around the toys and the games and the balls for every possible sport, because you want your kids to be able to play when you're not at home to help them find things. When you clean for guests, you are sure they should think that your kids put away their toys after every use, so you try to make the living room look as though kids don't even live there.

When you clean for yourself, you are unphased by the fact that five people somehow have twelve toothbrushes. When you clean for guests, it's one per customer, thank you.

When you clean for yourself, you put away all the clean sheets and towels that have been sitting out since the last time you did laundry. When you clean for guests, you make sure to leave out those and more, so that your company won't dare look in the closets that are now overflowing with all the stuff you put into them while cleaning for the guests.

When you clean for yourself, you accept the fact that clean today will be dirty by tomorrow (or even later today). When you clean for guests, you truly believe that some of your efforts will last beyond the length of the guests' visit.

So, perhaps there is hope....

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ice Packs on the Feet of Life

There are days when I come home wanting ice packs for my feet. I am not a ballet dancer or a high-heeled runway model. I am not a construction worker or even (at least currently) a stage manager. I am not on my feet all day, but that ice pack sure does sound nice.

Chances are, most days, I would be able to stand the ice pack for no more than a few minutes. What I really want, I suppose, is a magic potion that will remove the stresses from my feet, and the physical and mental stresses from everywhere else. A virtual ice pack that numbs today when necessary, preserves--or resets--me for tomorrow if needed. The soothing thing that says "You're home now, you made it, congratulations, relax." And that, above all, forces me to stop, and just enjoy.

Most days, we manage fine without that ice pack. We make it through the daily challenges, and mostly, our feet and our psyches survive intact. But when that's not enough, a virtual (or even a real) ice pack is immensely helpful. It forces us to stop. And it has us up and running again in no time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Takeaways and Nuggets

I read a blog post today in which the writer said he was told that every post should have a "takeaway" and a "nugget." I've been reading his blog posts for a while, and I kind of think they usually have plenty for me to "take away," but the comment made me wonder how my posts would stack up in the "takeaway and nugget" contest. What do people take away from reading about someone else's experiences? I wonder.

As I reflected on both my own posts and the other person's, I realized that what I take from his posts is not necessarily something he holds out to me, as if to say, "Here, take this." Rather, my "takeaway" is the meeting of my thoughts and opinions with his thoughts and opinions. I take away something, or store some "nugget," because something in there rings true, or gives me insight I might not otherwise have had. Only a strictly instructional blog post (and what fun would that be?) would hand something over that you could just take without thinking. Most of us, I imagine, continue to read because ideas strike a chord in us. If the blog post makes us think, or feel, or understand, then we bloggers have done our job--takeaway taken, nugget delivered. Which is not so different from any learning or growing experience we ever have--what we bring to the table is a huge factor in how much we take  away.

And that's the only nugget I've got I've got to give--at least for today. Go ahead--take it away!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Creatures of Habit

One of the biggest life lessons I have tried to teach my kids (along with laundry sorting and getting up before the cereal turns to mush) is flexibility--the idea that life is not necessarily going to hand you what "should be," and that you'd best be able to handle "what is." It's an ongoing life lesson, but one that I believe will be even more important than how to keep your white laundry from turning pink. (Okay, perhaps not MORE important, but just as).

Anyhow, flexible person that I am, so flexible that I am qualified to teach life lessons on the subject, I should be able to roll with anything, right?

Mostly, I have to say I am. Hey--I have juggled kids at multiple schools and managed unemployment with grace (well, at least sometimes). But what I realized this weekend is that all of us, flexible or not, count on having little things that stay the same, so that even if all around us changes, we still have things that are familiar. These things can be as simple as a toothpaste flavor or the pillow that we love, but some sense of habit grounds us in the face of what is sometimes constant change. We can roll with a lot, as long as we have something that isn't rolling. Sometimes, it can be important to fight for the little things, even more than for the big ones.

The next time I'm teaching "life lessons," I'll have to remember that. Because all the lessons in the world may help, but having something you don't have to learn--something that just is because it is--will make for much more teachable students. And a happier classroom and household all around.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tennis Lessons

I played a bit of tennis today with my family. Nothing fancy--just hitting the ball back and forth, and, given my level of ability, chasing the balls all over. I don't think I got any better at tennis,  but I did learn a few things...

1. You don't have to chase every single thing that comes your way.

2. There will be times when things are way beyond your reach. There's nothing wrong with stretching for them. But it stretching doesn't mean you'll get a hit. And it might make you a little sore later.

3. A little laughter during something challenging goes a long way.

4. It's important (and useful) to recognize other people's strengths (and weaknesses), not just your own.

5. Sometimes just getting yourself in the game is the hardest part. But it's usually worth it--win, lose, or draw.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shelving It

We collect books. Not fancy books or old books or cookbooks or some other special type of books. Just books. A lot of them.

Among the challenges of keeping a lot of books in a small apartment is having shelves to house them. Thus, today was a shelf-finding day, a day on which to find shelves sturdy enough to hold the books, but affordable enough not to make us want to throw the books out the window.

Success was not to be. You see, the intersection of sturdy and affordable is a tiny one, and is not an intersection we encountered in our travels today. Our overflow books will remain in piles and boxes for a little longer. But the endeavor was far from a complete failure. It began with hope and teamwork. Along the way, it included discussions of dimensions and spaces and types of wood. And it ended with the meeting of other household needs--needs revealed only in the process of stepping back to try to meet the bookshelf need.

Accomplishing anything often takes more than just following a straight path. But when we embrace the twists and turns, we discover that the journey was about more than just the straight path anyway. Which means we would miss out on a lot if we just shelved it.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Sometimes, when I am accomplishing many things, or learning something new, or just have had a good day, I feel very powerful. And then, I realize...

I may be able to talk about math homework, but I am powerless when it comes to making sure the advanced high school problems are correct.

I very diligently forward job postings and proofread resumes and give advice, but I feel powerless when it comes to making my unemployed friends employed.

I am fine when I comes to avoiding chips and dip and assorted other high-caloric treats, but I am powerless when it comes to chocolate or eggplant Parmesan or a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

I work hard to process the mail and the hundreds of new pieces of paper and assorted stuff that enters our apartment daily, but I am powerless when it comes to maintaining consistent control over the clutter.

I am very fast at turning around news video clips to go on the broadcast, but I feel powerless when I realize that I can't do anything to help the people and situations in the video.

I suppose the best that any of us can do is celebrate the powerful moments, and work on at least some of the powerless ones. And enjoy a little chocolate and eggplant along the way.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What Time Is It?

For most of my career, knowledge of time has been a huge factor. As a Booth PA, I carried a stopwatch (the old-fashioned kind--round and silver, with a clicky button for starting and stopping and resetting), and was called upon to estimate the times of scenes, time the taping of scenes, add and subtract time, and know how script changes would alter show time.

When I became an AD, while I no longer carried the stopwatch everywhere, I remained time-obsessed. How much time would come out in the edit, how much time was it taking to shoot a scene, how much time would we lose by making a double camera move?

And, of course, when I have edited, there has always been the issue of "cutting to time," and delivering the final product on time.

Given all of this, you would think I would be acutely aware of time--at all times. And yet, this morning, as I was having coffee with a friend, I wondered at least once if I was okay for time for getting to work. Our conversation was so consuming that I pretty much lost track of time--no sense of (PA-speak) how much time we had used, how much was left, how long or short we were running. And that was a glorious feeling. As useful and satisfying as time management may be, there is nothing like losing all track of time when doing something you enjoy. Sometimes in life (not in PA, AD, or Editor land!), the best time management is about immersing yourself and counting on the time to work itself out. Not always the safest bet--you may end up with a lot of "post-production fixes"--but certainly one of the most enjoyable.

Oh, and if you're wondering, the time all worked out--the coffee was not cut short, and my arrival at work was right on time, no cuts or editing necessary.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Live--And Other Successes

When One Life to Live did its "Live Week" (one of my favorite career experiences--ever) about fifteen years ago, there seemed to be some disappointment from the audience and the press that there weren't a bunch of screw-ups. Apparently, doing "live" well wasn't nearly as interesting to them as was the opportunity to see the regularly taped and edited professionals mess things up when they couldn't be edited. The thing is, we, as professionals, wanted to do things right. And through a combination of hard work and dedication, we pulled off five really good "live" shows, complete with all sorts of bells and whistles that went on virtually without a hitch. Or so I remember.

I think back on that week sometimes. I remember how exciting it was in the moment, and I also remember how great it was to live up to our own expectations, rather than down to those of the people who wanted us to mess up.

It seems that in life, there will always be people who expect the worst. Who almost delight in the mess-ups, who can't--or don't want to--anticipate success. As I learned during that "Live Week" (and honestly, have learned throughout my career), the people who get the most done, both in terms of quantity and in terms of quality, tend to be the ones who think the opposite--who go into a possibly impossible situation and believe that it is possible. Who may start with the worst and, with hard work and dedication, make it the best. Who aim for success, because that's what they expect, not screw-ups because that's what other people expect.

As far as I can tell, most career--and life--experiences can have a little of that "Live Week" excitement in them. The question for us is--are we ready to make them not just exciting, but successful as well?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New York Minute

I heard someone say this today. I did. I mean, I had heard the expression before, perhaps in movies or newspapers from way back, but this was the first time, I think, I had ever heard a real person actually say it.

It kind of stuck with me all day. What exactly is a New York minute? (I looked it up later--it's an instant--because things go so quickly in New York City, a Texan in the 60's was said to have observed that what might take a minute somewhere else takes just an instant in New York). In any case, the expression made me observe "New York minutes" all day...

Like the lady who, out of the corner of my eye, looked as though she was carrying a giant banana. Turns out she was. It was a two-foot long blow-up banana. Don't ask. I didn't.

Like the, I think, less than five minutes it took me to go to the bank, deposit my check, and return to work, since there are so many banks in a block radius of my work.

Like my walking past the bakery worker giving out samples before I could think about passing up something highly caloric, but free.

Like the few steps it took for me to walk past a bus that was stuck in traffic (and get a little exercise without even going to the gym).

Things happen quickly here (and, despite the expression, in a lot of other places too). Keep your eyes and ears open--or you're liable to miss a lot of somethings--in a New York minute!

Monday, July 21, 2014


One of my favorite summer activities is picking fresh fruits and vegetables. I am no farmer--I don't think I could grow the stuff if I tried. But take me to a "pick your own" farm, and I am happy for hours.

Would that all the "picking" we do in life be as straightforward as the picking of produce in a field. You see, when picking at the farm, once you learn which plants are which and what "ripe" looks like for any given fruit or veggie, it's really just a question of reaching or bending to get what you want.

In life, there's plenty of reaching and bending. The difference is, "ripe" tends to be much more subjective, the reaching often way beyond the length of your arms, and the bending frequently more than you can handle. While the carrying of bags of picked fruit may be hard, it is nothing compared to the baggage we carry along with the choices we make in life. And though we can pick veggies alone or with others, picking in life often ends up being a more solitary endeavor. Anybody can pick ripe blueberries once the "ripe" guidelines are clear. But only we can really know what's right to pick in the rest of our lives.

I came home this weekend with bags and containers of yummy produce--and a bit of a bending-and-reaching sore back to go along with them. But the glorious simplicity of the picking--I'll be trying to find that again all week long.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Used as a noun (and not to be confused with infomercial), an informational is a meeting with a person in your field (or in a field you'd LIKE to be your field), not for the purpose of asking for a job, but for the purpose of finding out more about the field so that you might know where and how to ask for a job. Oh, and to provide the person, and hopefully therefore, the person's "people," with information about yourself so that THEY will ask YOU about a job.

I have not been on a lot of informationals. It's hard for me to find that middle ground between "having coffee" and "going on an interview."

Would more "informationals" be useful? Of course. But I'm realizing that what I am missing is not so much the ability to gather information. Rather, I am missing out on the practice of putting out information about myself, and that is a skill that I (and pretty much anyone) can't live without.

Don't we put out information about ourselves every day? Isn't there information about ourselves in the work that we do, in the conversations we have, in the choices we make? Of course. The problem is, this information might define us quite well (or not well at all), but it is more than anyone who doesn't know us (and some of the people who do know us) can process. Information, in the sense of an informational, needs to be the boiled-down version--the five-minute summary of who we are and what we want, which may encompass years of work and conversations and choices, but takes only a few moments to convey. It's not easy. We're used to working things through over coffee. We're used to saying "yes" to so many tasks and defining ourselves as so many different people during the course of the day, that it's tricky to nail down just one person. But giving information, in a way and an amount of time that people can process, is a skill unto itself, and one that we would all do well to master.

Who am I, and what do I want? I'm not sure, and it depends on the day. Clearly, I have work to do before my next informational.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Close To Home

Among the elements that I formatted for tonight's Arise News Now broadcast was a photograph from the wreckage of the Malaysian plane that crashed in Ukraine. As I zoomed in on the picture (which I do for almost every photo I use), I realized that, among the stuffed animals and other items indicative of parents and children on the flight, there was a copy of a book that was familiar. While the title was in Dutch, the cover art was clearly that of Diary of A Wimpy Kid, a series that my son has loved for years and read over and over. There was a child on that plane who was reading it too, just in a different language. And now that child won't get to read the next book in the series when it comes out this fall. That child won't go to school, or play Minecraft, or annoy his sisters the way only a sibling can do.

Some days, working in news is learning about countries I've never known much about before. Some days, working in news is about helping to explain with pictures what is going on in the world. And some days, working in news is simply about realizing how similar we all are, whether we live half a world apart or not. About realizing that it could be us, or our kids, on that plane. Us or our kids clutching a stuffed animal or reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid one moment, and gone the next.

Some days the news feels very far away. And sometimes, even when it's far away, it feels very close to home.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Small Victories

It is easy, sometimes, to feel defeated at the end of a long day. Yet, even on the most trying or overwhelming of days, there are small victories.

If you made a phone call you've been putting off making, there is a small victory.

If you successfully cleared off a shelf that has been accumulating clutter for what, based on its contents, is over a year, there is a small victory.

If you remembered to buy the kind of bagels your son likes but he hasn't had in weeks because you haven't bought them, there is a small victory.

If you showed grace in a situation where you could have been, well, less than gracious, there is a small victory.

If you accomplished dinner, and the cleaning up of dinner, by 9:30, despite not getting home till 8:30, there is a small victory.

If you appreciated the fact that your comfortable shoes allowed you to walk to work, even if you didn't feel up to going to the gym, there is a small victory.

If you spoke up, even just once, and were heard, and listened to, there is a small victory.

If you reminded yourself, even just once, that your life choices are in your hands, not just other people's, there is a small victory.

Life is full of things that can make you feel powerless and defeated. The key, as I see it, is making sure to recognize the small victories along the way. Even on the most battle-filled of days, they often stack up pretty well--and make you feel like a winner after all.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Happy Anniversary OLTL

Thanks to Facebook, I was reminded that today was the anniversary of One Life to Live.

I started at One Life to Live right around an anniversary. A significant one, actually, which had me wearing a formal dress for a party at Tavern on the Green about a month into my first job. Pretty cool, huh?

As exciting as my first few months there were--meeting actors I'd watched on TV, celebrating someone's birthday practically every week (or so it seemed), flipping through scripts while delivering them or marking cuts and changes in them--I don't think I imagined then that the place would be my "home" for as long as it was. I was there through producer changes and there through the move to another building. I was there on 9/11, and there during an NYC blackout. I was given a wedding shower and a baby shower there. In some ways, the show became as much of a family to me as my own family. And then, it was gone. Revived briefly, but gone.

Thankfully, like family, it left me with a head full of memories. Some are captured in albums full of pictures, others in the friends I still keep in touch with, still others in stories I tell my kids. It was a place that gave me some of the best times and experiences of my life--and in so many ways, helped to shape the person I am now.

Thanks to some friends, I was reminded that today was the anniversary of One Life to Live. Happy Anniversary to a show, and a place, that led me, in all sorts of ways, to where--and who--I am today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Making. And Un-Making.

We are on a mission at my house. Well, a few missions, actually. There are things to be found. And things to be organized. And along the way, perhaps the most important of all, there are things to be eliminated.

It seems as though every day, there are missions. We wake up and spend our days trying to accomplish. Perhaps a few of our missions are successful--we put things and people in their places. We make progress, or contacts, or widgets, or whatever it is we are supposed to make. Yet, at the end of the day, we return to all the clutter that was left when we went off to make those widgets. And since widgets (and contacts and progress) have to be made every day, the clutter tends to go untended. For days. Or years.

So we are on a mission at my house. Aside from whatever it is we make each day, we will attempt to un-make some of the clutter of years of making. It is not a simple process. Un-making, I have quickly discovered, involves a great deal of time reminiscing about the making. While our making each day may go (by choice or by necessity) in a straight line, un-making tends to be zig-zaggier, involving making what never got made (phone calls and letters about bills, decisions about supplies), reminiscing about what got made (wasn't preschool great?), and ultimately, hard choices about what is worth the space it is taking.

This mission, I suspect, will be a long one. After all, years of making don't --and shouldn't--get un-made overnight.

But there is still making to do--every day--so we'd better get the un-making going.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What To Expect

Do you ever see in advance what your day will look like? Imagine the conversations you'll have? Know that it's gonna be a lousy day? Or a great one?

I don't very often have the time or energy to do any of this, which I'm beginning to think is actually okay, since most of the time, days end up not a whole lot the way you imagined them. Much of the time, you walk out the door, raring to go, only to get rained on when you've forgotten your umbrella. Or you drag yourself out the door, hoping you will just make it home in one piece, only to find that the day turns out to be your best all week.

The truth is, we don't really know how our days are going to turn out until we're in the middle of them. We don't know how much we'll be able to handle. We don't really know whose paths we'll cross. And we don't know when we'll find resources within ourselves or out in the world that can completely change the day.

So, I don't spend a lot of time guessing. I bound out the door when I can, and drag myself out when I have to. And I hope that when I return, there will be people who either listen if things didn't go well or celebrate with me if they did.

And that's about all I can expect.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Way It Once Was

I had a moment today of not being ready to face Monday, of not being ready to start a new work week and all the structure that a new work week entailed. And then I thought about how Mondays were a few years ago--completely devoid of structure, unless you counted filing for weekly unemployment and scouring the internet for new job postings and worrying about, but not making, the dinner that seemed to be my responsibility, since I was not working, and, of course, being on time to meet a school bus. On those Mondays, I didn't have to report to work. I just started another week with nowhere to report and the enormity of the search once again in front of me. It was daunting.

And thus, my moment today passed quickly.

We'd be crazy not to enjoy our weekends and the time away, or with our families, or even just sleeping that they give us. But returning to work on Monday--I can't help but remember that, at least for me, that's a good thing. It has to be. Because I can't help but remember the way it once was.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Time Away

A friend of mine just returned from a vacation with her family. Her reports "from the road" made it obvious that vacation was good for them all. For a short time, all the stresses of work and school and daily aggravation were put aside. The result, it seems, was a few day period of close to pure joy--that is, as far as I could tell from her emails.

Having been a freelancer for years (even when I worked at ABC, I was technically freelance), I have always found it hard to take time off. As a freelancer, time off means no income, and no income means stress once the vacation is over and the bills come in. So, while I have certainly taken days, it has always been with freelancer's guilt in the back of my head.

What I loved about my friend's emails from vacation was how clearly they conveyed the healing power of time away. And of real appreciation and enjoyment of that time. We can all make the choice (or go along with someone else's choice) to take time off. What we often forget is to immerse ourselves as deeply in our time off as we do in our work--to let time away be worth every day-- and every penny--we invest in it.

I am constantly learning from how people handle work. What I found out this week is that it's also good to learn from how people handle time away--vacation as it really ought to be.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ahh, Perspective

What I've been doing recently is editing news footage--you know, the video that you are seeing when the newscaster is talking about things happening in places all over the world. Some days, it's amazing that we pull together the elements in time for them to be played for the newscast. Pretty much every day, it's amazing to see what's actually happening in places all over the world.

I am a person who enjoys process. I enjoy putting together the puzzle pieces of a story. I enjoy the urgency of getting the pieces together in time. Many days, I am so consumed by the process that I almost don't register the content. But today, I saw one too many neighborhoods buried in rubble, one too many children wandering among dead bodies, one too many countries where epidemic has taken over.

And as I walk home in a city of what now appears like relative normalcy, and drive on highways lined with green, I realize that my perspective has changed, at least for today.

I can't fix what is happening in all those places. I can just keep doing my part to help people see it. So that we all, little by little, get a bit of perspective.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Out Of My League

I thought I'd be out of my league. I went to a networking event this week, and I was sure I'd feel really small and inexperienced and, well, just really small.

Turns out I was wrong. Sure, I was surrounded by lots of people who have done bigger things and have had bigger jobs than I. What I found, though, was that what makes people interesting--at least the people I talked to--is how they've handled feeling small and inexperienced. How they've made their way, and walked into rooms full of strangers, and believed in their projects, and strived for the best in the face of the fear of being the smallest person in the room.

I thought I'd be out of my league. Turns out, most of the time, we're all kind of in the same league, just at different stages. Sometimes we feel a little bigger, sometimes a little smaller, but we can always learn from the others in the league, and that's worthwhile, whether you're big or small.

I thought I'd be out of my league. Turns out my league is a lot of people's league. And I fit in pretty well.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Babysitting Machines

I'm a parent. I'm used to child care--both the kind where you're actively involved and the kind where you're just there doing your thing, but there so that if the child in question needs your help, you're there. I'm pretty good with either.

I became aware this morning that I was babysitting a machine.

I should explain. You see, I like editing at home. Well, at least sometimes, when it is for a project that at least keeps me interested and at most gives me joy. The thing about editing at home is that there is no middle-of-the-night assistant or media manager who sets things up for you. There is no one who ingests all the footage when you start or renders and outputs the final product when you are done. Editing at home means you're generally doing it all.

Thus, I found myself this morning, as my edit system converted several hundred files for my project, watching that little percentage bar move for clip after clip after clip. After clip. Did it need me? Not really. But if it hit a glitch, stopped for no reason, or needed first aid, or just a little jolt, I would be there. It's not that I didn't do other things. But I did find myself drawn to its progress, and protective of its actions, much as I would if I were looking after a child. Would someone trip over a cord and cause irreparable damage? Would a switch be flipped and change the whole course of the project? Would something overheat and create a hazard? None of these things is really so different from the process of taking care of a child, is it?

And yet, while I am quite accustomed to looking out for kids, I felt a little silly babysitting a machine.

The thing is, sometimes the babysitting is what it takes in order to get to the exciting part of editing. Just as parenthood includes both the exhilaration of first steps and first words and the responsibility of getting kids to brush their teeth, editing (like many jobs, frankly) includes both the creative and the mundane. And so I sit, babysitting my machine until it's ready to take the first step and render the first word. And produce the moments that will make me laugh and cry.

It's a lot like parenthood--and it's definitely worth it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Joy of Working

Got you thinking, didn't I? Am I being sarcastic? Will this be a riff on the famous cookbook? And if it's work, how could it possibly be in the same phrase as "joy"?

I have done a bunch of jobs over the last few years, and a bunch more over the last twenty years. I have a family to support and run, so when I look for work, there are always considerations of salary and logistics. It's hard to get around that. So on some level, work is work--a way to make money and feel useful and fund the parts of life that simply need to be funded. Meaning that some things that I might like to do get tabled until that time in the future when I've won the lottery and paid off the mortgage and sent children through college.

But sometimes, opportunities come along that put the joy into the work. Whether it's a story that needs to be told, or a new skill that needs (and not just because it's marketable) to be learned, sometimes there are opportunities to step out of your comfort zone, while stepping into your spirit-lifting zone. You may always need work to feed your household. But at least sometimes, you need joyful work to feed your spirit.

It's not easy to find the time for both. And if a choice has to be made, it's usually the "feed the household" that wins. (What can I say? My family has a thing about eating.) But as I make my way through this Notwashedupyet world, I am finally opening my eyes wide enough to let in the joy. It feels good. And who knows? A little joy may end up leading me to some new kinds of work.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Small Worlds

I discovered tonight that two people I know from completely different parts of my life are working on the same musical. And this musical is part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, which also includes a production that involves yet another person I know. I guess it really is a pretty small world.

I used to think that soaps were a small world, where creative people and production people moved from show to show, so many (and yet, so few) moving around, but staying within the genre. Who knew that even post-soaps, with genres emerging daily and giant abysses where resumes are sent and lost, the world would still end up small?

I could say that creative people eventually land in creative places. Or that after a certain number of years working, I just know a lot of people. I'm not quite sure which it is, but I am very sure that it's nice to people with so much creativity to offer being represented, whether it's in theater or television or both. It may have seemed a small circle when I was working in soaps--understandable, particularly as that genre began to evaporate. Turns out the circle may include a lot more areas now, but it's still small. Small enough to say, "hey, I know him!" And small enough to know that the opportunity for opportunity is still out there--sometimes a lot closer than you think.

(Oh, by the way, the above mentioned musicals are Wikimusical and Cloned. Check them out if you can--I hope I'll get to!)

Monday, July 7, 2014


When I took both Latin and French in high school and college, I thought I was pretty hot stuff. These days, though I'm happy that I can understand some of what the French tourists on the train are saying, and that I can often figure out the definitions of words with Latin roots, I don't quite remember enough to help my kids with their language homework, and I definitely couldn't read The Aeneid if I tried.

I am realizing, however, that in order to survive, both as a parent and as a professional, I kind of have to be multilingual. I need to understand and speak Teenager and Video Game and Theater Buff. Not to mention Networking, Creative, Manager, and Technician. And I guess, since I'm still standing, I've picked up a few of these.  Mind you, I am more fluent in some of them than in others. But the better I master the language, the better I relate to the person trying to speak it. And that's good for everyone.

Perhaps it would have been better to have become fluent in Spanish or Mandarin. It might have made me more current or more globally marketable. But on a daily basis, multilingual ends up being as much about learning to speak your home and work companions' "language" than about learning to speak the language of another country. You may not have to use a dictionary or master conjugating verbs, but it requires at least as much "mental gymnastics," and definitely keeps you from feeling like a foreigner in your own home.

These days, I'm working on competence, not fluency. These are languages that may be crucial right now--but ones that will likely be useful for a much shorter time than even partly remembered French or Latin.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Recycling Stories

I went to tag sales today. A lot of them. It's my summer thing on Saturdays (and Sundays too, if they'll have me). It's the thrill of the chase, of finding something for nothing, of giving new life to something that has outlived its purpose with its original owners.

So, today, off I went. There were barely used binders for a dollar (never too early for back to school, right?) There were character glasses to add to our collection (who says meals shouldn't be fun?) There were books (always books, though our bookcases are already overflowing). And then there was jewelry. In this case, parts of jewelry. I thought this would be interesting. For just quarters, we could buy jewelry parts and make all sorts of interesting things.

Turns out some of the parts weren't just a quarter. When we asked, we were met with a price not huge, but above our usual tag sale budget. We were also met with an explanation of how the seller found the pieces for and made each item. By the time she was done, perhaps I should have felt inspired. Instead, I felt overwhelmed, and just a little bit stalker-ish. Clearly, either she thought the history was a selling point (perhaps sometimes history is), or she was reluctant to part with the items and was reminiscing about their origin. Either way, her connections to the items made me walk away. They might be nice, but it was okay not to have them come home with me. Anyhow, they would certainly find a home with someone else who appreciated the story.

I guess we kind of recycle on our own terms. We make choices about which containers we're willing to rinse for the recycle bin, and which items (and at what price) we are willing to purchase used. Some things fit in to "our story," while others will just have to wait for someone else's.

There'll be more tag sale shopping next week. Opportunities for cheap reads, a quirky kitchen item or two, and another chapter in "our story."

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why'd Awake

Sometimes I feel guilty about going to sleep early. I leave children doing homework, I leave bills unpaid, I leave conversations un-had, all in the name of a good sleep before an early alarm. After all, what kind of parent, or even grownup, am I, if I so easily abandon responsibility in favor of sleep?

Truthfully, most of the time, I don't feel guilty at all. I like sleep (and how often does a parent get to do something just because she likes it?). Even better, I do need to be "on my game" for the day, starting quite early. There are breakfasts and lunches to be made, notes to be signed, buses to be caught
, and a going-out appearance to maintain. As all of these things take some energy, it's only reasonable that I bed down, whether I'm abandoning nighttime responsibilities or not.

Tonight, as I write, I am forcing myself to stay awake until midnight in order to pick up a child from a theater job. I would rather be sleeping, but I'm not. Because when it comes right down to it, whether it's about sleep, or about anything else, we do what needs to be done. We stay awake when we'd rather be in bed. We do for our kids and our jobs when we might rather be doing for ourselves. We don't need to feel guilty all the time, because we do the right thing most of the time. Even if it means sleeping some other time.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Clouds. And Silver Linings

Life is full of cloudy days--actual and figurative. Thankfully it really is true that some of them have silver linings. A few that I've discovered recently--

Wearing the comfortable shoes instead of the really cute ones may feel like a cloud in the morning, but it definitely feels like a silver lining when there's a downpour on your walk home.

Change in routine may make you feel very cloudy. Thankfully, the new things you get to try because your routine has changed can shine a whole lot like a silver lining.

Kids going away for part of the summer may make you feel that there's a cloud that just won't clear. But your resulting ability to focus on everything else can be a very worthwhile silver lining.

Not being able to find caramel swirl ice cream is a cloud. Buying caramel sauce to go on vanilla ice cream gives you a silver lining that lasts way past that original carton of vanilla.

Feeling always a little in limbo may be a cloud. Keeping alert in the limbo game--and in life--is the silver lining.

Every so often, responsibilities (even writing a daily blog) can feel like a cloud. Three (reasonably) happy children, interesting work, and almost 700 posts later, I can say for sure that some of the best things happen when you clear the clouds--and look for that silver lining.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Reading

Recently, I have taken to reading middle grade novels. It started as a way to encourage my son to read. Then it seemed like good research for the book chapter I was working on. As I finished one last night, however, I realized that no matter how much reason I attach to what I am doing, the reality is that I am just enjoying the books.

It's a bit ridiculous, I know. Why read about kids in elementary and middle school, when I have kids of my own who can show me enough of that drama, and I am way, way past that stage myself? The thing is, as traumatic as elementary and middle school may have been in elementary and middle school, they are a welcome relief sometimes from the traumas of adult life. I mean, seriously, when you're trying to figure out how to get kids here and there and at the same time figure out how to make sure you are making enough money for them even to do the things for which you are getting them here and there, it's a whole lot simpler just to read about other kids doing the things. And when you're wiped out from being the parent, it's pretty nice to be the kid for a little while. And with all there is to do each day, the length of a middle grade novel fits in a whole lot better than that of a giant book with many hundreds of pages (easier to carry around too!)

It's a little wacky, I know, and I'm sure at some point, I will move on to the books people will be talking about at the proverbial water cooler. For now, I'll enjoy my little vacation back to my youth (no, wait, not mine, someone else's!).

And isn't vacation what summer's all about?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sitting Still

Sometimes I think that the reason I work so well is that I am terrible at sitting still. The sitting is not the problem--it's the figurative "still"--not doing anything to move forward--that I can't stand. So, put me in room with things to be done, and I will likely start doing them, whether they are in my jurisdiction or not.

This quirk of mine was useful when I was an AD--it helped me to move the days ("well, if we can't tape Item 46 because we're waiting for a costume change, let's tape Item 64, since we have everyone here for that.") It is useful now, as I'm editing footage for the news ("we don't have the video for the explosion yet, I can do the video for last night's storm.") It's useful for raising children (so far, I've found no age that doesn't require chasing--either the child or the child's schedule). My inability to "sit still" adds value, both to me as a worker and to me as a parent.

You would think that my aversion to  "sitting still" would be a good thing, right? Problem is, when I am left in a "holding pattern," unable to do or move forward, the result is more stress than most people find when they have too much to do. Being out of work certainly caused financial stress, but in some ways, the "sitting still" stress was worse. Even now, when I am faced with a day when I have an unexpected break from work, I have to work hard to accept not doing anything that moves me or something in my world forward.

A few days ago, I visited a household that was beginning the month of Ramadan. I was struck then by the phenomenon of sitting still. It wasn't that the family was doing nothing. Yet, despite their accomplishing the work of their household, there was a calm about them. It was hard for me at first, but I walked away appreciating the moments when I had to be still. It doesn't mean that being stuck won't still bother me. I will still be trying to fill empty spaces with getting things done. It just made me see, if only for a moment, the value in sitting still.

But no more time for that now. There are things to be done.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

First Day of Camp

Someone I work with asked me today when I work on the soaps (that I won the Emmy for). I explained that the Emmy was for work I had done a year ago, on a show that aired in 2013, which made him feel better, since he couldn't figure out how I could possibly be doing that at the same time as I was working as intensely in news as I am now. As far as I can tell, in his mind, it was not a matter of the news/dramatic thing. It was simply an "hours in the day" thing.

It does kind of amaze me that a year ago, I was doing something so radically different, both in terms of its content (soap vs. news) and in terms of its effect on my lifestyle (train out of state vs. walk to work). But things change, and the most we can do is change with them. And sometimes along the way, realize that there are advantages and disadvantages either way.

When I was starting to write this post, my son lobbied for me to write about the first day of camp, which, of course, would have been the description of his day. Yet, as he described the day, what I saw was pretty uneventful. He liked it, despite whatever adjustments to his daily life it was having him make. He learned some new things and met some new people. And he ended his day at home, the same as on any other day.

So, as I struggled to find what about the first day of camp would be "blogworthy," I realized that it was not so different from my changes from last year to this. He rolled with the changes to his day, much as I have rolled with the changes to my work. Which probably means that he'll do okay in life. Whether it's the first day of camp or not.