Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Laughter That Lives On

Like so many other people, I was saddened to hear about the death of Gene Wilder. Having grown up on yearly (and more than yearly with the advent of VCRs and DVDs) viewing of Willy Wonka, and enjoying immensely his roles in assorted other movies, I couldn't help but think "end of an era," "everybody's dying," and all those things we think as we cull through numerous tributes and obituaries posted online.

Perhaps it is the end of an era. But perhaps, in some ways, an era of sorts ends every day. Gene Wilder's movies are no less alive and part of our collective culture than they were before he died. He leaves to us a body of work that will keep people smiling and laughing for years to come. If any of us were to die tomorrow, but could say that we were leaving behind contributions that would help enrich the lives of so many, wouldn't we call that a life well-lived?

I didn't know Gene Wilder personally. I simply enjoyed his movies and enjoyed reading both his autobiography and that of his wife Gilda Radner. But, as the world mourns his death, I give thanks for his life--and for the reminder that any of us, whether on a big scale, like his, or on a small one, can leave behind gifts that make a difference. Whether we are creating art, or supporting charity, whether we are giving laughter to many, or simply time and love to the people close to us, we have the opportunity to leave things that matter, to make a difference, simply by doing, and sharing, what we love.

RIP, and thanks, Gene Wilder. As Wilder's Willy Wonka put it, "Want to change the world? There's nothing to it."

Monday, August 29, 2016

The First Four Years

Four years ago, around this time, inspired by writing a piece that won me a membership on a job-search site, I began to write a daily blog. I had a lot to say, I guess--about what had happened over my years in soaps, about what was (or wasn't) happening in my job search, and about how my family figured into all of this. In some ways, the blog four years later looks nothing like the blog I started. There is not soap in every post, and the kids I write about these days have become people with their own sets of interests and goals.

But while the day-to-day may be different, a great deal remains the same. Four years ago, I was reminding myself, and the world, that change didn't have to break us. Four years ago, I was reminding myself, and the world, that a good story was worth telling (no matter how many, or how few, people read it). Four years ago, I was reminding myself, and the world, that celebrating the past could go a long way toward moving on to the future.

So today, four years later, the words may be different, but there are still words to write, and the message is still the same--as long as we are willing to do, and to explore, to try and to challenge, it doesn't matter how far we go from where we started--we can still believe that we are not washed up yet.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

If I'd...But...

If I'd left earlier, I wouldn't have had to spend money on a cab...but I wouldn't have said that one last goodbye.

If I'd slept more, I wouldn't have been as tired...but I wouldn't have seen a child's latest interest or most recent accomplishment.

If I'd gone alone, maybe I would have left quicker, or walked faster, or not have had to talk anyone into anything...but I would have missed out on my most honest conversation of the day.

If I'd spent more time getting dressed, or putting on makeup, or brushing my hair, perhaps I would have looked better for work...but I would have lost the time to talk to, to work with, to do for at home.

If I'd said "yes" more, maybe I'd be making more money, or having better titles, or climbing the proverbial ladder faster...but I would have had to say "no" to all sorts of things that matter.

For every "what if," that we might feel as though we should follow, there are multiple "but's" that remind us that what we do is often as important, or more so, than all the things we feel we should have done.

What if? We don't always know...but what is? Sometimes that's just as important.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Two Plus Two Equals Three

I've learned enough math to know this isn't true. I've also lived enough life to know that sometimes it is...

Multiple hourlong naps may add up to five hours. But they will rarely make you feel as though you have gotten a five-hour night of sleep, particularly during an eight-hour overnight shift.

Doing the work on schedule, with care, and to specifications doesn't guarantee that anyone will like the work or ask you to work again.

The meat plus the potatoes plus the salad in front of you may fill the plate, but may not fill your stomach.

What you earn this week plus what you earn next week should cover the bill you have to pay the following week. But freelancing doesn't always produce the paycheck you expect. And life tends to produce one more bill than you expect.

One hour of cleaning plus one hour of cleaning does not necessarily yield two hours of clean.

Math is one thing, but life is quite another. And sometimes, in life, two plus two really does equal three.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Summertime, And The Living Is...

I remember TV game shows and sitcom reruns. I remember board game marathons and walking to 7-11 for candy. I remember sitting by the radio for the daily trivia quiz and dialing over and over to be the right-numbered caller. I remember those corn holders with the spikes that could seriously wound you if you missed the corn. I remember staying up late and sleeping late. I remember trips to the library, but summer reading at the last minute. And somehow, I turned out okay. Somehow, with many hours of TV and no daily refreshment on math, I survived. Somehow, with hundreds of unscheduled hours and no scheduled bedtime, I survived. Somehow, despite appropriately kid-like procrastination and appropriately kid-like belief that I could win the contest every day, I survived. I wandered through any number of childhood summers, and I survived.

Perhaps the stakes are higher now. Perhaps my kids face greater competition for the good opportunities and many more screens calling for their attention. Perhaps they are less easily entertained and more easily distracted. But I can't help but wonder, as we drift toward the end of our least planned summer in years, whether unplanned is exactly what they needed. I can't help but long for those summer days of my childhood, when doing what I wanted was perfectly ok, and when summer education was beating the quiz show contestant to the answer or dialing a phone just fast enough to win a contest. Forgive me if I'm not diligently enough preparing for September--we're busy enjoying the break. Forgive me if my school year pushing and prodding is on a delay--I'm busy seeing what choices my kids will make when no one is telling them they have to. Forgive me if I'm not counting and controlling screen hours--those hours are no more than those I spent watching every episode of The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family, multiple times--and practically every game show that filled the morning.

Enough of now seeps through, as I talk about getting online math done, and about showing up on School Day One prepared, really prepared, to approach the year, about accomplishing things daily, about getting back to a regular bedtime. But each day, for at least a moment, I remind myself that I turned out just fine. And in that moment, I'd like to think my kids will too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Through The Tunnel

The entrance to the tunnel tells me that we are almost home. I feel a mixture of relief (who wouldn't be relieved after a day of driving?) and dread (because with home comes the work and responsibility of home). But the tunnel is quick, and before I know it, we are on the other side, for better, for worse, for now.

There can be a great many tunnels in our lives, some of which feel not nearly as quick as this one on this day. We enter, hopeful about our ability to reach the other end. We brave the darkness, the unknown, the trapped feeling. Sometimes, our time in the tunnel feels endless--will we get through the experiences that challenge us, frighten us, make us sad? Sometimes, though we know there must be light at the other end, it feels as though it will take forever to escape the darkness and reach that light. Once in a while, if we take a deep breath, we manage to speed right through. And once in a while, we find ourselves stuck for longer than we'd care to admit.

The problem is, just as I have to brave a tunnel (ok, I can do a bridge, but still) to get me home to New York City, we all have to get through the tunnels sometimes to get through our lives. We have to make it through the tunnel of loneliness to find companionship. We have to make it through the tunnel of despair to find our way to hope. We have to make it through the tunnel of failure to see the light of success. And we have to make it through the tunnel of fear to feel the strength of confidence. Staying in the tunnel, whether it's the one between New Jersey and New York or the one in our heads, is not an option. And that, I suppose, is how we know we can survive the tunnels. We will make it through to the light on the other side because, well, we have to.

The tunnel is over and we are home. Which doesn't mean I'm not facing plenty more tunnels. But, one way or the other, I intend to come out on the other side.

Great Expectations

There is nothing like the anticipation of something big. You lay the groundwork, you imagine the result, and most of all, you allow a feeling of unbridled excitement to fill your body and mind. It was like that when I was directing on One Life to Live, it has been like that when I have approached milestones for my kids, it is like that when I start a new project or take a new trip. And I suppose I have raised my kids to be not so different from myself, because I see them experience the same thing. Expectations can be huge. They give us an excitement that simply trudging through life can't match. They let us imagine and dream. They show us the top, not just the muddy middle. And I am proud that I have shared an ability to have great expectations with my kids.

But I would be kidding myself if I didn't realize that I had also shared with them the result of great expectations--that sometimes, when expectations are great, reality can't possibly keep up. When we allow ourselves to imagine and dream and feel that unbridled excitement, we leave ourselves open to the crashing feeling when expectations are not met. 

It is a hard lesson to learn--how to be both open enough to expect and self-protective enough to insulate ourselves when we have expected too much, to be both attached enough to be excited and detached enough not to be dashed. They are learning, and I guess I am learning right beside them. Because I won't stop having expectations. But maybe someday, I will be better at surviving those great expectations.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Change Of Scene

I am constantly amazed when I go to a show and the scenic, prop, and costume changes between scenes are quicker than seems humanly possible. There is, in fact, not much that drags a show down for me as much as having to wait too long between scenes while a set piece is being dragged off or a series of props are set just so. And so, I suppose it is not that surprising that an effective change of scene in life makes me pretty happy too.

We don't travel much. Somehow along the way, with the ups and downs of work, and with the adventures of parenthood, the hours of life got largely taken up with just getting by--financially, logistically, and even emotionally. All of that doesn't necessarily leave time or energy for hefty vacation plans. What I've realized, however, is that just as a show can impress me simply with fluid scene changes, life can satisfy me with not just with the extravaganzas, but with the occasional change of scene. When we spend a few days with different people, we gain a new outlook. When we eat different meals on a different schedule, we satisfy a different hunger. When we walk out the door to different surroundings, we see that we can fill our days differently than we thought.

Just as in the theater, the change of scene has made a big difference. The show goes on. And I am eager to see what will happen next...

Tradition And Change

It is not hard, when part of a family, to fall into certain traditions--what you eat on Sunday nights, where you spend Thanksgiving or Christmas, what you do for vacation. Traditions are great--they give you a direction, and a sense of security in an ever-changing world. But what happens when a tradition changes? When your go-to restaurant is no longer there, or one of your group is not with you, or time or distance just don't allow you to do what you always do?

As the years go by, and my children age, and our circumstances seem to change daily, we are learning to let go, a little, of certain traditions, and to embrace new ones. It is not easy. There is the moment of "what?" There is the moment of "but we always..." There is sometimes a pit in the stomach or a moment of paralysis in the face of change. And sometimes, there are tears for what once was. But then, there is picking ourselves up, and accepting change. There is taking a deep breath and starting to create a new tradition.

Traditions are great--they give us direction and a sense of security in an ever-changing world. And maybe, just maybe, having them gives us the strength to change them when we need to. So that we can make new traditions, and find the new direction and security that keep us going.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Getting In, Part 15: Move-In Day

I have thought at a number of points, each of them a random number, that this series of posts was over. And yet, clearly this is a longer process for all of us than I imagined. And so, on this first day of my first child living at college, a few things that I have learned:

1. It becomes clear how little you can live with (as opposed to how much you DO live with) when you are suddenly sharing a small room with a stranger.

2. There is nothing like carrying bags up to the second floor to make you glad you were prudent about the number of bags you brought.

3. There is nothing like carrying bags up to the second floor to make you grateful that your child's room is not on the third or fourth floor.

4. That case of water that you carried up to the second floor becomes well worth every pound after a few hours of moving furniture and unpacking bags in that small (and un-air-conditioned room).

5. The pretzels and doughnuts don't hurt either.

6. It is a good thing that teenagers have opinions, because after the first few decorating decisions, you are happy to hand over responsibility for where any item is going to go or any poster is going to be hung.

7. A dorm room across from the floor's bathroom can be a very convenient thing.

8. A dorm room floor may not be soft, but it is perfectly fine for an impromptu nap after enough trips up and down the stairs.

9. Plans are good, but leaving room for things just to unfold can be better.

10. Goodbye is hard, but as it turns out, it is survivable...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Getting In, Part 14: Community

As we packed the car to drive my daughter to college, we ran into one of her preschool teachers, who happens to live in our building. She, of course, congratulated my daughter, and asked where she was going and what she'd be studying. And then she continued on our way and we continued with our packing. I couldn't help but be moved, though, by the full circle feeling of it all, which, I suppose, has struck me throughout our preparation process. We are surrounded by people who remember the tiny curly-headed child all those years ago, and who, in their various ways, share this milestone with us.

In a city where it is often easy to feel anonymous (whether you choose to or not), there are times when you are not so anonymous at all--when you are reminded that you are part of a community, because of where you live or what you've done, or simply because you have crossed paths with the same people for what has turned into years. There are the people who fill your everyday life, who are actively involved in your choices and your emotions. But there are also all sorts of people at more of a distance for whom your life matters. And I suppose this gives me hope as we send that now grown child out into the world. If there is such a community that surrounds her now, surely there will be all kinds of new communities that will, seen or unseen, help to surround her as she continues on her path.

We will go home to questions from relatives and friends, and from all the people we simply see on the elevator or to whom we say "hello" on our daily paths. Because, whether we have chosen it or not, we are part of a community--many communities, actually--and they are part of our journey too.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Some days, my world seems so small--sleeping in preparation for work, sleeping to recover from work, watching the time, preparing food. What is the importance, I wonder, when the focus seems so narrow?

But then I realize that what feels narrow is just a microcosm of what is not narrow at all. A great deal of life is preparation for what we want (or need) to do--whether you are a gymnast training hours daily, or a pianist practicing into the wee hours for a concert, or a just a mom juggling family by day and work by night. And for all of these people, recovery is an equally big part, whether recovery means icing down limbs or resting fingers or grabbing sleep when possible.

It is easy to feel less than accomplished when we look around and see that others' endeavors are bigger, or brighter, or seemingly more important than our own. We appear just to be muddling through the everyday, while they seem to be soaring toward greatness. Yet, when we break it down, our steps, while perhaps smaller, are no less important. We are doing what needs to be done, and we are taking the necessary daily steps to do it. For some, there will be applause or a medal, for others, simply a paycheck or a hug. But the steps in the process continue, a microcosm of the steps that are being taken all over to keep life moving.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Fixer

I see job postings all time for "fixers," people who facilitate a production company's work, generally in a remote location. They know the rules, know the people, know the lingo, and in general, they help get things done.

I have no aspirations of working as a "fixer" (my high school and college French and Latin wouldn't get me too far in most countries!), but I find that my role in day-to-day life is not actually all that different.

If a child is sick, I negotiate medicines and doctor visits.

If we are missing ingredients, I either find, buy, or substitute for what we need.

If there is writer's block (for me or for others in my household), I work on unblocking activities.

If there is discord, I provide humor.

If there is misunderstanding, I look for common ground.

If there is a language barrier (more common than you'd thing between family members who supposedly speak the same language), I translate.

Sometimes, in fact, quite often, "fixer" is not a paid position at all. But even for no pay, it is one of the most important jobs a person can do--whether for running a show, or for simply running a family.

Monday, August 15, 2016

But What If?

When I was about to graduate from college, I interviewed for an entry level job at a well-regarded regional theater. It became clear at the interview that, though bright and interested, I was woefully under-qualified. Sure, I had written (and even staged) a play of my own. I had taken some English courses in which I had read plays. And I had gone on every Broadway show bus trip that had been offered during my four years. But, while I may have been eager, I had no deep sense of what went on to get a show to production. While I loved almost every show I saw, I did not run home and read the scripts or analyze the direction. More often, I watched my favorite programs on TV, and talked about what my soap characters were up to this week.

Now that I live in a city full of theater, with children obsessed with theater, I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out if I'd done differently in that interview--if I'd known more, and said more, and understood more. Might I be working in the theater now, or might I have ended up in television anyway? Would I have had kids sooner, or later? Would they love theater, as they do, or would they have run from it since it was too close to their lives? Would I be working every night and constantly dependent on ticket sales to know whether a gig would continue?

I suppose all of us have "what if's"--moments in our lives that began to make us what we are now, without which we might have followed a very different path. For me, the day of that theater interview is one of those. Within days of that interview, I interviewed at One Life to Live, where I felt as though I was among friends I'd never even met, because I'd watched their work for so long. And the rest, as they say, is history. Within a week, the beginnings of my life path were created, and perhaps certain other paths were closed off as well. 

What if? I have no idea. But sometimes, it is interesting to wonder...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Gulping Of Life

I have always been impressed by the people around me who seem to me to be gulping life--grabbing and devouring every possible minute and opportunity. They don't just make the most of their time. They actually gobble it up, whether they are doing what they always do or trying something they never have. They are unfazed--so it seems--by illness or setback. There are roads to be traveled, so they travel them. There are foods to be tasted, so they taste them. There are people to meet, so they meet them.

While I tend to like doing rather than watching, I never really gave myself credit for being a life gulper. Not fast enough, I suppose, or not open enough, or not aware enough of how many things you can miss when you don't gulp. What I am learning, however, is that there are actually many ways to gulp. You can try all kinds of things that are new, or you can passionately share what you already love with others. You can run after every opportunity, or you can jump excitedly toward the ones that speak to you the loudest. You can throw yourself headlong, or you can simply forge ahead on every path.

I am still discovering how to gulp life--in whatever way I can. Some days, I am happily quite full, and others, I am left still hungry. It can be a daunting task. But like any learned skill, it takes watching the people already doing it. Like anything that is worth doing, it takes practice, even when practice makes you tired. Like anything that looks better on the results side than on the execution side, it takes a leap of faith (after all, what if you gulp something that's not good for you?).

My gulping friends are right though--you do taste a lot more when you gulp. You see a lot more, and you hear a lot more. And best of all, you feel a lot more. And there is always time for that...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Year Of Little Steps

It has been a year since I walked into CBS for my first paid day of work there, one that I wasn't even sure was paid at the time, as it was to be training for all that I would have to do. A year ago, I had no idea that I would be looking back on twelve months of work. A year ago, I had no idea that I would have worked almost every shift time imaginable and adjusted my body to almost every sleep amount and configuration I can think of. A year ago, I had no idea that I'd have new attachments and a little more financial security and a set of completely new skills. A year ago, I was simply looking for a new chance, perhaps a new challenge, and most definitely a new paycheck. And day by day, as a year has gone by, I have found a bit of all three.

We don't always know, as we take the little steps day by day, what a year's worth of those steps will look like, or amount to. Which means that sometimes, it's important to take the little steps, and to leave the big picture to paint itself. A year ago, I was in a much different place--in so many ways--than I am now. And while it seems far away, it has really just been a series of little steps. I guess you can take a lot of them in a year...

Friday, August 12, 2016

But We Stayed

Having brought up, housed, and sent to school three city kids, I have spent years wondering, and listening to others wonder for me, why we haven't moved out to live in a house with a garage and a yard, where everything would presumably be easier (not to mention, cheaper).

And then today happens, a day that is so hot that sweat blinds me within moments of my leaving home, when all I'd like to do is go from an air-conditioned house to an air-conditioned car to an air-conditioned mall. Instead, we walk, trying to stay on the shady side of each street, to the park where Broadway actors are performing for free, to one of the many stores where we can buy a drink for the walk, to the grocery that is just steps from our building--no need for car keys or parking, to our lobby, where a long time doorman welcomes us home. And though I am sweatier than I might be, and I come home to a space that is smaller than it might be, and I shop at stores that are more expensive than they might be, it is on a day like today that I see why we stayed. It's not always easier, but there are Broadway performers in the park. It's not always prettier, but there is exercise without even trying. It's not always perfect, but it is home. And for now, for today, that makes it worth staying.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Face In The Picture

The man in front of me on the bus, clearly at the end of his day, not the beginning, examines a pencil drawing of himself, which he slides in and out of its plastic bag, multiple times over the course of the handful of blocks during which we share the bus ride. I can't blame him. It is a remarkable likeness, capturing both the specifics of his hat and facial hair and the smile and wrinkles that make him seem like a friendly person. I, of course, have no idea about the friendly part. All I know is that the artist has chosen to represent what appears to be the best of his or her subject.

As the man, and his portrait, get off the bus, I wonder what he will be doing with the drawing. Is it for a friend or loved one?. Or is it simply the result of a whim upon seeing a street artist, a whim that has given him a permanent reminder of a moment when he was happy, or a little inspiration for him to see the best in himself? Has the artist simply done his or her job--that of representing the person in the chair--or has he or she given, for his or her fee, just a little bit more? A likeness to inspire the man when he is not feeling quite as happy as he was (or at least was drawn to be) on this night? Or a picture that will cheer his friend or relative when the man has gone home (I can't help but think he is just visiting)?

My own trip ends at its usual destination. There is no embellishment here--just another bus ride to another night of work. It wouldn't hurt some days to have on hand an artistic representation of what was or what might be to help me through some long hours or some moments of uncertainty. He is a lucky man, that man going home with the drawing. Sometimes, it takes a stranger to show us what we really are or might be...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mars At Midnight

I make my way to work. It is a path I have traveled many times now, at an hour that went from feeling strange to feeling normal. Yet, after a few days away, I suddenly feel as though I am traveling to Mars at midnight. I walk past patrons spilling out of bars and men and women of all ages clearly heading home after their shifts. I wait for buses whose schedules are much lighter than they would be during the day. I glance around, assessing my safety on each block, and on almost every corner. I hope against hope that the sleep I forced upon my brain and body during the day will have been enough to get me through the night.

I am getting used to the overnights, I really am. I value the daytime hours, at least on the days when I am conscious enough to use them. I have developed strategies and coping mechanisms. I am making this latest chapter work, to the point that many nights, I leave home almost as if I were heading off to a nine-to-five, backpack loaded, lunchbox in hand, and I return at 9am, proud of having worked my "day" already. But it is on nights like these, when I have slept a few nights at home, and looked at the dark only through a window, that it suddenly feels again like Mars at midnight. Perhaps there is some part of it all that will never be normal, no matter how long I do it, no matter how well I manage it. And maybe that's just how it is when you redefine yourself each day. There will always be new, and different, awkward, and difficult situations. We travel to Mars, if necessary. We travel at midnight, if necessary. And hopefully, we view the journey as more than just another odyssey. Hopefully, we see Mars at midnight as just another opportunity to spread our wings for a little flying.

To Be Clear...

There are times when life is crystal clear--when you know what is ahead and what is behind, and when you are fairly sure that the decisions you are making are the right ones, at least for the current moment.

These times make up about 10-20% of life.

More often, clarity is seen only through the foggy filter of circumstance. What is ahead and behind changes daily, since most of the time, our circumstances change daily. The "right" decisions may be clear in the moment when we make them, but they don't stay that way for long.

I used to pride myself on my clarity--I used to be sure so often about people, about choices, about life. But sometimes, clarity is more about compromise than about certainty. We can't always be sure about what we are seeing, but we can choose to look closely enough to to find our own clarity.

To be clear, our choices must incorporate not just the expected, but the actual. To be clear, our decisions must recognize the changes that are inevitable. To be clear, our view must include not just what we see, but what we can't yet see as well.

Clarity isn't the simple matter that it used to be. But that doesn't have to leave us fuzzy headed. Rather, the difference in clarity can leave us even more opportunities to be clear. With a shout over all the chaos, we can choose to be clear. With a step away from some of the confusion, we can decide to be clear. With a push through the obstacles, we can choose to be clear.

Well, at least 21% of the time...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Deja Vu

We had a guest with us for the weekend. And while we mostly did what we do, and went where we go, we did so with a particular awareness of making sure we showed her particular things about our weekend experience, I guess much in the same way that you might take your city visitor to the Empire State Building and Central Park. What I noticed, however, as we traveled to our favorite country places, was that our guest seemed to be showing us as much as we were showing her. As we drove, she reminded us about how startling the country scenery and sky are. As we relaxed between adventures, she reminded us how special the space to spread out and the grass between your toes can be. As we got lost on winding country roads, she reminded us that getting lost is okay, as long as you have good company.

Sometimes, the things and places that we see all the time are completely different when we see them through someone else's eyes. What we have already seen (deja vu) is new again, because we are able to appreciate it as if for the first time. We may think that we are giving our guest the gift of sharing what is special to us, but it turns out that our guest actually gives us more of a gift--that of showing us all the things in our lives that we have forgotten to see.

Having a little deja vu? Maybe you have already seen, but chances are, it wasn't in quite the same way.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Years of school notebooks and papers made their way out of our home and into the recycling bin this week. Mine? No. Mine (well, at least some of them) are still alive and well in my childhood home. Thankfully, as we live in a NYC apartment, my children are much less attached than I am...

In a NYC apartment, you can't really hold on to every essay you ever wrote (even if your mom wants to hold on to every toddler sentence you ever scribbled).

In a childhood filled with Instagram and Snapchat, you're not used to saving forever. And, I suppose, you actually relish the thought of eliminating the reminders of moments you didn't really like that much anyway.

In a world that has Google, it will clearly be much easier to find a country's capital with a few keystrokes than with a search through several semesters worth of notes.

In a life that goes so quickly, sometimes it's just easier to store less and enjoy more.

Years of school papers and notebooks made their way out of our apartment and into the recycling bin this week. But the memories from them (well, at least the ones we'd like to remember) are still right where we left them.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Those Recent Summers

As I arrive home from an overnight shift and sleep through half of my summer day, I can't help but think of all the days of summers past. At this time some recent summers, I was bemoaning the end of a job or agonizing about a too-long stretch of no job at all. At this time some recent summers, I was sleeping through half of my summer day, not because I'd been working all night, but because I couldn't face another stretch of brilliant cover letters followed by deafening silence, or another stretch of uncertainty about whether I'd be working, and whether I'd be paid.

There are days when I question a life that has me sleeping, or sleepwalking, through my days. But when I look back to those other summers, the sleep looks pretty good. When I look back to those recent summers, I am reminded that a little perspective goes a long way. When I look back to those recent summers, I am grateful for a summer that, most of the time, gives me something of value, both in my bank account and with my family.

I am close enough to those recent summers to know that they were not "the good old days." Maybe, in some ways, there is no such thing as "the good old days." Those recent summers may have had their moments, but today, I'll stick with this "right now" summer--sleeping when I can, and appreciating the relative stability that no recent summer has shown me.

Until this one, like all the others, becomes just another recent summer...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Loosely Planned

In soaps, what aired was the result of weeks, if not months, of writing, pre-production, production, and post. While changes might sometimes occur close to air, stories and scenes were largely well-planned, starting with tiny sentences in a long story document and ending with, if necessary, shifting of scenes to make sure that all shows ran the correct length and that the most dramatic content would air on the most watched days.

Such planning trickled down to my life. Efficient planning made for some years of free, or short, summer Friday's. Advance planning had us shooting Christmas episodes before Thanksgiving (and by the end, closer to Halloween!). A cost-conscious calendar laid out dark weeks way in advance, and invited cost-conscious vacation planning (that is, whenever I actually took vacation).

News, where I live at the moment, is a much less planned endeavor. While certain events live on the calendar, many, many just happen, requiring more staff or less, lots of hours or not so many. And, as I am discovering, the lack of planning trickles down to me too. I am rarely sure when I will go somewhere, or for how long. I allow a lot of room for recovery sleep, which I sometimes need and sometimes don't. I am slow to make plans, as I am never quite sure when and how things will change. It may not be better or worse--it is just different. A different way to think, a different way to live. Just different.

And so, I meander through my less planned life, managing today, and tomorrow, and when possible, next month. They are all just more steps. Steps in the ongoing saga of being not washed up yet...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Getting In, Part 13: Practice

My college-bound child (okay, adult, but still my child) has been so busy that I joke that we are practicing for her being away when she leaves for college. One fewer plate at the table, one day that doesn't get discussed, one fewer set of whereabouts to track. And practice is good. Practice makes us better. Practice, as some would say, makes perfect.

I talk about our "practice" with a smile and a laugh, but I don't feel better, and I certainly don't feel as though I am perfecting anything. When it is time for the real thing, I imagine I will be grateful for this trial run, but right now, I just miss the plate at the table and the day we're not discussing. When it is time for the real thing, perhaps it will feel not so unreal for us all, but right now, it feels unreal, and too real, and just a little more dizzying than I'd like.

Once again, I--we all, actually--are faced with the fact that "getting in" isn't really just about "getting in." Today it is about "letting go." And "hanging on." And "working out." And today is just the practice...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Passing The Torch

You worry that you're not doing enough, not being around, not making yourself available. And then you see how much happens just fine--maybe even better--without you.

You worry that you haven't taught enough, listened enough, shared enough. And then you see how many ideas have grown all by themselves (perhaps with the help of the teaching and listening and sharing that you did do).

You wonder if you should have hovered more and yelled less. And then you discover that with or without the hovering or yelling, things have turned out just fine.

You fear that you haven't encouraged enough, accepted enough, understood enough. And then you learn that there will always be more encouraging, accepting, and understanding to do.

You think that maybe you haven't been the grownup often enough. And then you see that those little people you were the grownup for are managing just fine becoming grownups themselves.

You believe that there is so much left to do, and maybe there is. But you've done more than you think, and the torch is in good hands.