Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Still Getting In: Looking and Finding

When I was graduating from college, I found myself trying to figure out--was I to be a psychologist or a writer?  Was I to be a theater person or a TV person? When I landed at One Life to Live shortly after graduation, I soon found myself trying to figure out--was I to follow a writing path or a production one? Was I to ride the waves of where I was or move to other shows to get more varied experience? In each case, I made choices that created my path. And I suppose that with each choice, I little by little found myself.

Now, years later, I watch my kids beginning to find themselves. They are neither close to graduating from college nor several years into their careers. They are just kids. Yet, as we negotiate the current "getting in" process, I can't help but wonder how kids just beginning to find themselves are supposed to find the path that is right for them. They are just beginning to figure out what matters to them, yet, they are called upon to write and talk, with passion, about what matters most to them. They are just figuring out what is right for them, yet they are supposed to know, or at least guess at, the places and journeys that will be the right ones for them.

I know that they will "find themselves" many, many times over the years. And, while the "getting in" path we are walking now sometimes feels as though it requires that the self-discovery happen now, I remind myself that finding oneself is an ongoing process--it certainly has been for me, and it will be for them too. So we keep looking. And we work on the "getting in." And we hope that the "finding" will find itself somewhere in between.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Lifer For Life

I ran into a former One Lifer in Central Park this weekend. It's not particularly surprising--there were quite a lot of us over the years (and I was there for quite a lot of those years!), and despite assorted retirements, moves to LA, and untimely deaths, many, many have stayed in New York. I see some, not regularly, but when someone organizes a gathering, or when we network through the crazy world of NYC production. Yet, the surprise encounters, whether on a street I always walk, or in a place I rarely go, always manage to make my heart skip just a little. There is a connection, both in the history, and in the loss. There is the feeling of it all being just yesterday, and a simultaneous feeling of it all being very long ago. There is an elated feeling about how far we've come, and a winded feeling about the effort it sometimes took to get there. But I guess that's what history and memories are all about--they force us to look just a little farther down that street that we might walk every day. And they let us see not just where we have been, but where we are going, just a little more clearly.

I ran into a former One Lifer in Central Park this weekend. And, as always, that little step back is helping me move forward.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Still Getting In: Along For The Ride

I admit it--being up all night for work makes me a little over prepared (translate: obsessive) about school admissions processes. During the day, a person can act on seeing schools, asking questions, bouncing ideas off others. But overnight, a concerned parent is left to her own devices (translate: hopes, fears, paranoia). The results can be miraculous--registration for a tour before the rest of the world even awakens, discoveries on a website I've viewed and re-viewed, ideas that simply wouldn't come about in the noise of a busy day. I have learned a lot of things about a lot of things. I have made lists and plans and calendars, and I am ready. The problem is, while I can create the agenda, while I can draw the road map, I am really not the driver. I may be the travel agent, but I am really just along for the ride.

Getting in starts quite early for a New York City family. When we explored schools for two year olds and four year olds, and even 10 year olds, I actually was the driver. While I might interpret a child's behavior as like or dislike of a certain school, and take that into consideration, I was the one writing the essays. I was the one determining what time we would have to start our days and how far we would travel. I was the one deciding which way to turn.

This trip is different. I can suggest, even push for, a different route. But in order for us to get to what is really the right place, I have to respect the driver's opinions. I can bring all the maps and program the GPS, but it is not my foot on the gas pedal. I can reach for the steering wheel, but if I do, I will mostly just create chaos.

So, this time, even if I have laid out the trip, I am mostly just along for the ride. It's a little young, perhaps, for a kid to be "at the wheel." But I suppose it's never too soon to start learning what it takes to sit in the driver's seat...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What Would Viki Do?

I sometimes wonder whether the Viki multiple personality storyline on One Life to Live was popular simply because it made for good drama, or also because it was so relatable to those of us trying to survive being different people every day.

It's not that I am making less of the mental illness or trauma involved in the story. Clearly, the plot line was about far more than balancing the different aspects of one's life. Yet, on a day when I spend the early morning working (but also texting home to check on my kids), the afternoon pursuing a creative endeavor (but also grocery shopping to make sure we have dinner), and the evening trying to prepare for the early morning work (and my family's following day, week, month, and future), I can't help but feel a little of that headache Viki used to get when she was crossing from one personality to another. I can't help but forget, at least sometimes, who I was at one part of the day when I have moved into another. And I can't help but let things slip through the cracks as I transition from one "me" to the next.

I am a fairly regular person, leading a fairly regular life, one not nearly as dramatic as Viki's (or, frankly, as that of ANY soap character). But once in a while, when that regular life starts to feel like SEVERAL regular lives, I remember a little bit of why we loved Viki so much. Whether her life was regular or not, she muddled through, for years, and somehow, managed to keep it together (often quite literally). So, if all I have to do is play a few different people each day of my life, I figure I can handle it. Because, hey--isn't that what Viki would do?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

From A Distance

When I first started this blog, I was careful not to write ahead, careful not to plan or censor too much. Somehow, writing in the moment, on the day, felt authentic. Genuine. Real. It was exciting, and invigorating, and sometimes very stressful. But most of the time, the nearness and the immediacy worked.

Yet, as I head back into the endeavor, I am struck by the value of a little distance. From a distance, the battles may not seem nearly as exciting, but they are still part of a daily effort to make and keep life better and more secure. From a distance, the characters of the story may not seem as funny, as daring, as evil, as heroic. But they are no less part of making each day look and feel the way it does. From a distance, the emotions may feel a bit less raw, but they are no less the fuel that powers the choices and decisions that keep life status quo or turn it upside down. From a distance, the friends who picked us up still do pick us up, whether literally, or by text or email. 

The bottom line is that whether we act--or write--in the moment, or from the distance of careful thought, we are still living, and telling, a story that matters. And up close, or from a distance, it is that story that keeps us all, well, not washed up yet.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Still Getting In

Sometimes, it feels as though we spend half our lives "getting in." Getting in to the right preschool ("Can you play nicely," "Do your parents fit in?"). Getting in to the right kindergarten ("Have you learned to use scissors and to place beads in size order, and to know what pictures are not like the others?"). Getting in to the right middle school ("Are the grades and test scores you weren't even thinking about good enough for our school?" and (hey, this sounds familiar) "Can you work well with others?"

And just when you think you've managed pretty well, despite all the potential calamities, you are faced with the "getting in's" that some might argue REALLY matter--high school and college. I mean, who in the world really cares where you went to preschool, right? Or even middle school? But somehow, high school and college feel a lot closer to life. Mess one up, and you're messing with the life of an adult, not a four or ten year old. Mess one up, and you change the course of someone's history.

Okay, that's a little dramatic, but I guess that's my point. At each stage of life when we are faced with jumping through hoops to get what we want, we really do believe that our performance and our decision at that point will change the course of our history. And not just change it for next week, but change it permanently, irreparably. It's not untrue--each step we take builds the path we travel. Yet, at each point, whether it's school, or work, or life, we have the chance to alter our steps. The "getting in" may decide a lot of things, but it doesn't have to freeze in time who we are and what we might become.

So, as my family and I hunker down for more rounds of "getting in," I try to remember that it matters, but that it doesn't define us forever. I try to remember that it's worth a lot of time, but not too, too much trauma. And I try to remember that on the other side, there will still be steps to take, and futures to create. And a whole lot more "getting in" still to get through.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Typecast

I have worked with all kinds of people during the course of my career. But what I am beginning to realize is that all these types break down into just two types--those who start with the idea that you are less than competent and don't know nearly enough, and those who, once they know you, start with the idea that you will do your best (which is pretty good) for them. For the first group, what you know and do is rarely enough, no matter how hard you try. And for the second, as long as you bring your best game, there is a level of respect that makes that best game even better.

It has taken a long time for me to realize that what I believed to be deficiencies in my own ability were simply interactions with this first group of people. After all, unless you are one of those rare people with unbounded self-confidence (and if you are, I applaud you!), it's not easy to believe in yourself when a co-worker or superior outwardly exhibits doubt. I do some of my worst work when there is someone over my shoulder, figuratively or literally, questioning my every choice. On the contrary, when left to do what I do, when allowed to follow my instincts and employ my years of training, I deliver even in situations I've never faced before. That second group of co-workers and superiors get what they have chosen to trust that they have--a hard worker with the chops to do what needs to be done. I don't expect blind faith in my ability. But I do thrive under trust of the work in my hands.

So, as I continue to make my way through an ever-evolving freelance life, I learn how to handle the first type of people, and I thank goodness for all the second types whom I come across. The second ones are the ones who make me, and all of us, better. And, in doing so, make the work better as well.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Back

In a time that seems a hundred years ago, I returned to One Life to Live after having been gone. This was long before OLTL left ABC. I had left--okay, I had been fired. Yet, through a fair amount of luck and a great deal of kindness from people with whom I'd worked, I spent the time away discovering wonderful new opportunities, and acquiring a myriad of new skills. I worked on a sitcom, I made and distributed an educational video, I co-wrote a spec script and pitched to head writers, I started having children.

And then, sooner than I could have imagined when it all started, I went back to One Life to Live. It was the same place--but it was very different. I was the same person--but I, too, was very different. There were years upon which I might look back, but mostly, I spent my time looking forward--using what I'd learned in my time away to do the same job better. Using my memories of the cold world of unemployment to remind myself, and the people around me, just how lucky we were to be employed, and challenged, and united, even on the hard days. I went back, and I moved forward. It was a place full of memories and attachments for me. But, in going back, I didn't simply reconnect to those memories and attachments. I allowed a place where I had made them help me be not just employed, but stronger, and smarter, and better.

All those years ago, I could have chosen not to go back. I could have decided that "back" was the wrong direction, that having moved on, I should only be going forward. Had I made that choice, I might have worked on bigger projects and more varied endeavors. Or I might have spent days unemployed and hours insecure. And I wouldn't have experienced both the years of soap days and the camaraderie that came with the end of those soap days.

Sometimes, "back" isn't all about "backward." Sometimes going what feels like "back" is actually just our way of moving forward. 

So, as I write this, am I back? I can't say for sure. Because even if I'm back, I'm too busy looking forward to be sure what "back" really means. But, hey, I've gotten pretty good at going forward. And I've kind of missed being here. And I'm still not washed up yet. So, at least for now, I guess I'm back...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Multitasker/Dental Disaster

I sat in the dentist chair, after an overnight of work, for an appointment I didn't imagine would be good. After all, life's adventures had made me cancel, or never even schedule, a year's worth of visits, and an upside down body clock had unhinged any personal care routine I had ever managed to have.

And there, in the dentist chair, it was all that I imagined and more--the disappearance of the hygienist mid-cleaning, notes being scribbled, whispers behind my head, some pain, and far more than the requisite amount of rinsing. Oh, and firm words and an appointment to come back "sooner than later" to fix a series of problems.

I survived, and have focused on my teeth far more than normal in the few days since. But I can't help but think, as I did in the chair that day--isn't it enough that I fairly reasonably manage three children while managing overnight work and off-hour sleep and dinner for people who like meat and people who don't and projects at home and...? Isn't any of that enough, or does being a dental disaster mean that ultimately, I have failed?

After the dentist, I went back to the managing and the running and the multitasking that usually make me feel pretty accomplished. I will brush my teeth more. I might even floss regularly. I will attempt to make sure that my next dentist visit has a little less pain and a lot less whispering. But along the way, I will also try to remember that while being ANY kind of disaster is not ideal, having a little disaster sometimes, while having a fair amount of success most of the time, is actually not so terrible. I'm still a darn good multitasker. And in six months (no, wait, I am now required to go every three), I will be a multitasker with much better teeth.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I Drove To Pittsburgh

I make my way, white-knuckled, along the narrow, winding highway to our destination. I am usually a passenger (generally white-knuckled in that seat too), but, circumstances being what they are, I am driving, knowing that I just have to make it happen--my vision, my stamina, and my eye-hand-foot coordination just have to work.

And then I remember--I drove to Pittsburgh. When, in the midst of college decision making, my daughter needed to visit a school in Pittsburgh, I drove her, 6-plus hours each way, with not much sleep under my belt, in pre-dawn darkness and full daylight. I drove to Pittsburgh, because no one else really could. I drove to Pittsburgh, because there was no easier or more affordable way. I drove to Pittsburgh, because, well, it had to be done. And while I may not have done it as fast as it can be done, or as well as it can be done, I did it. I did it.

So, as I prepare for and handle the narrow road and the tight turns and the impending twilight and the eventual darkness, I repeat over and over in my head, so that no one else could hear, "I drove to Pittsburgh." And somehow (though perhaps not in record time), I make it. We arrive, in one piece, my hands even recovered from the white knuckles.

Sometimes, doing what we worry we can't do simply requires reminding ourselves of the things we HAVE done. I drove to Pittsburgh. And with the thought of that in the back of my head, who knows what else I can accomplish...?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Turning On A Dime

As I found myself pondering how quickly life can change, I looked up the expression "turn on a dime." From the idea of a car being able to turn, quickly and accurately, on something as small as a tiny dime, the expression, I found out, is usually used to describe the capability rather than any actual action. I'm not actually so sure about that part--in my life alone, the announcement of the cancellation of One Life to Live wasn't just ABLE to happen quickly, it actually DID happen. My quick, and sometimes out of the blue shifts from unemployment to a new gig--and back to unemployment again--weren't just ABLE to happen, they actually DID happen. Changes in my friends' lives weren't just ABLE to happen, they happened. And so, because things actually do "turn on a dime," we, like quick-reacting cars, learn to turn the wheel, put all our energy into the turn, and change course, just when we might think we are destined to continue in a straight line.

So, what does this "turning on a dime" do for us, other than putting stress on our "wheels" and the rest of our bodies? It reminds us of the (perhaps not often used) capabilities that we possess. It opens us to new paths and opportunities that we would likely not have explored if not forced to. 

When we say that a car can "turn on a dime," we are appreciating its useful feature. Shouldn't we, then, appreciate our own abilities to do so, even if the world's ability to turn quickly can sometimes put us off balance? Sure, the world seems to spin us around like an unexpected u-turn, but shouldn't we celebrate our ability to right ourselves, rather than be buried in the difficulty of change?

Our lives can turn on a dime, it is true. Prosperity and security one day can turn to unemployment and uncertainty the next. But if we can view these changes as we do the origin of the expression that describes them, we can begin to see the advantages they give us. Who wouldn't want a car that can "turn on a dime?" If that is the case, we may as well celebrate when we learn to do the same.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Digging In

Anyone who has had a toddler knows how firm--no, insistent--well, annoying--such small people can be when they want--or don't want--something. As I was reminded this week, this is no different when those small people become bigger. Well, actually, it's a little different. They have a better grasp of language, and they tend to be tall enough to argue with you eye to eye, which can make you more than a little convinced (less of a risk with a toddler) that they actually know what they are talking about.

And so it was that this week, I almost undid a partial Summer's worth of plans that I had painstakingly worked to create. The child dug in, and I almost caved. The child dug in, and I began to question my thought process, my agenda, my parenting skills. The child dug in, and I found myself on the brink of digging us out.

Yet, somehow, I dug down deeper and dug in myself. And, in a way impossible to see from the hole we'd dug on Day 1, Day 2 was better, Day 3 better still. One might even say that the child is "digging it," or digging in to experiences he would never had experienced had I given in when he dug in.

Sometimes, digging in because of our fears or our preconceptions, or allowing our kids (toddler or otherwise) to dig in to avoid theirs, deprives us and them of digging in to the best things in life. So, sometimes, as parents, and as people, we have to dig in too, so that we don't miss digging in to the good stuff. Dig in to dig in. Dig it?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Don't--Stop--Thinking About Tomorrow

Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone?

That's what I began to think, when work and life and new projects started to take every ounce of time and energy and creative juice I'd always managed to summon to accomplish a daily blog. Things change, I thought. Nothing lasts forever (nor, perhaps, should it), I thought. Sometimes, it's just time to move on.

Problem is, yesterday may be gone, and tomorrow may be here (better than before?), but today has to work too. And it turns out that, busy or not, I still want the opportunity--and commitment--to reflect on the past and how it affects my present and future--and maybe other people's too.

When I began this blog almost five years ago, there were many days of relative inertia--days when, even when I wanted to get things moving, the job world just wouldn't cooperate. There were far too many hours on the couch, far too many hours reaching into the online job abyss, far too many hours wondering if I was simply on the wrong path. Five years later, the world and I both look very different. But "not washed up" is not just about moving on from a soap life. It's about moving on, no matter what life throws at you. These days, happily, that's more balls than I can actually field in a given day. I am busy, and lucky. But busy and lucky don't mean that I, or any of us, should stop thinking--whether it's about yesterday, about today, or about tomorrow. Because that's how we can make sure that all three stay "better than before."

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It's Not About You

I nap. I could say that it's a treat in which I indulge, just like a hot bath or a weekly massage or a bonbon before bed (none of which--except the occasional bonbon--factor into my life). But for me, napping is not a treat. It is a survival skill. It is a device that gets me from one night of work to the next. While it might sometimes feel decadent to be snoozing while the world is moving, and to be in my pajamas while everyone else is dressed, my nap routine is less a choice than a necessity, less an indulgence than a part of my job prep. So, when I am home, but not available to solve every problem and make every phone call and do every errand, it's not about you. It's about me, and right now, it has to be.

I take stocking cheese sticks and apples and coffee very seriously. These are among the items that get me through the night, so that chocolate bars and tortilla chips don't, and if I don't have them, they are either tricky or expensive or impossible to acquire at 1am. So, when you eat the last cheese stick or the last apple, and I go a little crazy, it's not about you. It's about me, and right now, it has to be.

I like to see things that need to happen happen, so I push for homework to be done in daylight, and dinner to be eaten on time, and instructions to be followed the first time I give them, or at least, the second. So, when it feels as though I am interrupting your free time or your preferred schedule or the pace of your day, it's not about you. It's about me, and right now, it has to be.

We are not always used to doing for ourselves, standing up for ourselves, putting our own needs first. It's always about someone else's schedule, someone else's choices, someone else's needs. So, perhaps that is one of the greatest lessons to be learned from working overnight. Making it work--and making many things in life work better--requires the ability to say, at least sometimes, "it's not about you. It's about me." So, when I make dinner at lunch time and ask you to brush your teeth in the middle of the afternoon, consider me crazy if you like, but please understand--it's not about you. It's about me, and right now, it has to be.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nannies and Dragons

I recently found myself thinking about Pete's Dragon--the Helen Reddy version movie of my childhood, in which a ridiculously cute animated dragon befriends a lonely young boy. By the end of the film, the boy has found a loving home, Helen Reddy has sung one of my all time favorites, "Candle On The Water," and the dragon has gone off to find another child who needs his help.

It's a familiar theme. At the end of Mary Poppins, the title character leaves the children in the able hands of their newly enlightened parents. Basically, the children in question just need a little help on their path, and once they are headed in the right direction, the magical helper, no longer so desperately needed, moves on to another mission.

Now, few of us have an animated dragon or a babysitter with a lamp-holding carpetbag to help us. We do, however, have friends and family, who often prop us up and guide us along. And, perhaps just as important, we have strategies we develop ourselves to make our paths clearer. 

For me, those strategies have included writing (thus, this blog), daily (often multiple times daily) emails with a coffee pal, and new perspectives from my kids. Do I ever find that I'm ready to let go of my Mary Poppins, or my Elliott the Dragon? Sometimes, perhaps. But just like those kids in the movies, I can't help but appreciate whatever makes the path a little easier and a lot friendlier. And unlike those kids in the movies, I have the power to hold on to the things that help me through the rough patches. I just have to split my focus between "within myself" and "in the world (or maybe the sky) nearby." And when looking for a little guidance, those are--with or without nannies and dragons--two pretty good places to find it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What I Did For LinkedIn

I suddenly begin to get emails congratulating me on my work anniversary--for a gig I haven't really done since...I'm not sure when. Guess I forgot to put an end date on that one. LinkedIn is a tricky tool for a freelancer--when a person can have many small jobs that start and end all the time, its representation of a freelancer at any given moment is only as accurate as that freelancer is vigilant about updating.

Don't get me wrong--I love LinkedIn. It is my go-to for researching all sorts of people. It is my way to keep up on what friends and former co-workers are doing (or, if they are freelancers like me, what they have done at some point). And, while I have rarely been actively recruited through LinkedIn, it is a way to keep myself "out there" without lifting a finger (kind of like that business I always dreamed of having that would, once up and running, create income on its own).

But when I get those congratulatory messages, I am reminded that LinkedIn, much like anything else in life, is only as good as what you put into it. While we all might long for that business that makes money on its own, mostly, we make money because we scramble, and create, and work hard. While we all might want to be seen and understood, mostly, we become visible when we speak up for ourselves. And while we all might wish for a LinkedIn profile that makes us appear dynamic and talented and professionally desirable, that LinkedIn profile is only as good as what we continue to put into (and take out of) it.

I am happy for the congratulations--they remind me of the things I've done, and of the people who still know my name. But they also remind me that social media is still only as good as what we make it. And that perhaps it's time to update my profile.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

End Of/Start of

When we stop seeing, do we forget to look?

When we stop hearing, do we forget to listen?

When we stop finding time, do we forget how to make time?

When we stop thinking outside the box, do we trap ourselves inside it?

When we stop thinking of anything but now, do we stop being able to dream of anything but what we already have?

When we accept defeat, do we stop being winners, or fighters?

When we accept what is, do we give up what might be?

When we misstep, can we find our way back?

When we have made choices, are there still choices to make?

When we look again, are there still things to see...?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Line Drives and Fly Balls

It sometimes seems as though my soap career was a straight line--entry job to Booth PA to AD to Director. Except that at some point, I aspired to be a writer and gave that up in favor of production. Except that at one point, I was fired and worked in sitcoms. Except that when it was all over, it wasn't really over at all. I guess straight lines aren't always as straight as you think.

Nothing much about my more recent life has been a straight line. Rather, I spend my life looking up, to anticipate what comes out of the blue, looking down, to make sure of my footing, looking ahead to avoid getting caught up in looking back.

The straight line--the line drive--might be more dependable. A line drive executed strongly is an almost sure base hit, while the fly balls can easily lead to outs. But sometimes, hitting a fly ball is all you can do. And sometimes, that fly ball turns into a home run.

I suspect that there are few straight lines left--for me, or for anyone. Which, I suppose, makes the game more interesting. So, I keep swinging, keep hitting, keep running when the opportunity arises. Life might not be a line drive, but it's still worth stepping up to the plate--every time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Out Of The Box

I try to think creatively--about work, and about life. And most of the time, I do. But often, just thinking creatively, in any given part of our lives, is simply not enough. Often, thinking "out of the box," at work or at home or in the world, leaves us still challenged to accomplish all that we'd like. What I am discovering is that "out of the box" isn't just about how we view solutions. It is also about how we view ourselves. During certain hours of the day, I may be an editor, or an employee, or a neighbor, or a writer, or a parent. But putting myself only in those boxes at those particular times gives up the most important part of my thinking creatively. If I forget that I am a parent when I am writing, I give up a key part of what could inspire me. If I separate myself completely from being an editor while I parent, I am losing the skills of listening and looking for tiny cues, which might be helpful in parenting. If I think only about my work when I am working, I sacrifice the humanity that ultimately makes me better at my job.

We can build walls around the various parts of our lives--I certainly have--to keep them safe from each other. But when we clear away those walls, and try living "out of the box," we allow each thing we do to enrich the others. And make all of our life boxes just a little more comfortable.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Time Of My Life

In the wee hours of my overnight shift, I find myself drifting back to the few days, twenty-ish years ago, when I worked on the overnight news. Recently unemployed at the time, I jumped at the referral for work. At the time, it probably could have been any kind of work and I would have jumped.  But truth be told, my constitution at the time did not exactly lend itself to the shift I had been hired to fill. And within a few days, through either fault of mine or (more likely) vagaries of the universe, my stint with the overnight news was, well, over.

My head returns to my current overnight work, and the fact that it actually works pretty well, which, given the flashback I have just had, is kind of amazing. But twenty years ago was a different life. Twenty years ago, overnight work would likely have meant my children wouldn't exist (or at least wouldn't be the ages they are now). Twenty years ago, overnight work might have meant my never working on a sitcom or a symphony concert or editing projects at home.

Today, the 14-hour pre-dawn to post-sundown days I worked in the soap world--and loved--might be the thing that wouldn't work. Today, the traveling to another state or the late sitcom audience tapings might be the  things that brought me down. I guess maybe there really is a time for everything, or at least for most things. It's just a question of knowing when it's the right time of your life...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

More Presents...Or Not

When the employment becomes more present than the creativity...

When the test grades become more present than the life lessons learned...

When the white walls and the tidied rooms become more present than the beat of the city...

When the doing becomes more present than the feeling...

When the how becomes more present than the why...

When the texts become more present than the text...

When the words yelled become more present than the words written...

When the words written for instruction become more present than the words written for understanding...

We must be careful that we don't just accept every present...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Guts and Glory

It took guts to believe, as One Life to Live was being cancelled, that I would have a new, and glorious, life in children's media. It took guts to believe, as this didn't happen, that something else would happen. It took guts to go on interviews, with people who turned noses up at the soaps, to make something happen. It took guts to continue my children's lives as unchanged as possible, when I wasn't sure when or where I would work next. And it took guts to walk into each next work situation with people who might respect my skills, or might not. It took guts to learn new things and to stop (at least sometimes) looking back at the old. And it took guts to try--new formats, new software, new space, new hours--not knowing where trying would lead.

These days, it takes no less guts to jump into, battle through, and emerge from all sorts of situations. But along with refining the guts it takes to survive, I would like to think I have refined the gut that helps me edit. The gut that gives me the answer after all the thinking through has just left me bewildered. The gut that helps me help my kids and tells me when I need to sleep in order to stay awake.

The guts that get you to the glory come in all kinds of ways--from necessity, from trusting yourself, and from seeing that others believe in you. And while it may not always be about the glory, more often than not, it does seem to be about the guts.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Ready

Many, many years ago, I was a Booth PA at One Life to Live for what seemed like forever. While I loved the job (except, perhaps, the parts of it I was responsible for but couldn't control), I saw the culture of promotion all around me. The Booth PA job was a stepping stone, to ADing, to producing, to stage managing. Yet, multiple times, I saw my possible promotions taken by other people, as I continued to estimate scene times and distribute actor script changes and notes. The bottom line was that, at each of these points, I wasn't really ready. I might have been interested in stage managing, but had I stepped foot out of the control room enough times to see what it really was? I might have made a fantastic AD, but had I actively practiced looking at shots and thinking about what was editable? And ultimately, was I really psychologically ready for a new step, a new role?

When the time was right, I did get that promotion, to AD. In the interim, I had worked hard to learn about it, and having missed earlier opportunities, I wanted it more, which probably didn't hurt.

We try to believe that we are capable of anything, and perhaps we are. But, along with being capable, we also have to be ready--ready to handle new challenges, ready to make time where there isn't any, ready to take risks and take chances. All those years ago, it took me time to be ready. These days, I try to face each day ready, but I also try to understand that "not ready" the first time doesn't have to mean "not ready ever." So, I work, and I watch, and I avoid nailing my feet to the ground or my mind to just one thing. So that when the next opportunity comes along, there's a good chance I'll be ready.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

5:30

It is light, but just 5:30. It feels like a long time since I experienced 5:30 in my own bed. 5:30 is part way through an overnight shift in a room with no windows. 5:30 is dead asleep time on a day recovering from overnight shifts in rooms with no windows.

But today, 5:30 is the immediacy of new light, a new day, and new words.

It has been days since new words, and longer than that since words with immediacy. When days blend together, and words and brain are expected elsewhere, and around the clock, and for so many things, it is hard to have any left at the 5:30s or the bedtimes or the free moments on the bus.

It is light, and it is just 5:30. But in this moment, 5:30 is more than enough.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Technically Speaking

Last week, I tried to be creative. What I mostly was, however, was technical.

In this world--at least in my corner of it--there are all sorts of opportunities for creativity. Whether in my work, or in parenthood, or in simply navigating through the personal, I enjoy thinking great thoughts and trying new ways and discovering new paths. 

But sometimes, it takes a lot of technical to get to the creative. Sometimes, each great thought is met with an inability to find the right words. Sometimes, each new path is blocked by obstacles that have to be moved. Sometimes, being creative simply isn't enough--a person must be technical as well.

So, last week, I learned a little more about a little more on the technical side. Last week, I battled the digital dragons and harnessed the energy of my technical brain and (rather desperately) clutched on to the patience to get me through it all.

This week, I am looking forward to the creative--a few more great thoughts, a few more interesting paths, a few fewer obstacles to be deconstructed. I may still have to think--and speak--technically. But a person can dream too, can't she...?

Monday, May 22, 2017

I'll Do It Myself

Early on in my editing career, there was a post-production producer who offered to jump in to do any sequences that were complicated. Music montage? He said he'd do it. Complicated effect? He was happy to take care of it. The thing was, I didn't want him to do it. I wanted to learn how to do it myself. 

Because of my stubborn resistance to the post producer's jumping in, sometimes, things took me a little longer. Sometimes I was extremely frustrated about what I didn't know how to do. But because of that stubborn resistance, I know a lot more now than I once did. More important, because of that stubborn resistance, I have been able to walk into any number of situations since and find my way through them. Can I always figure out the solutions on my own? Of course not. But I don't always go running for tech support either. Tech support simply breeds more tech support. Figuring it out on your own breeds knowing a little more the next time around. And out here in the post-soap freelance world, there seem to be an infinite number of "next times around." So, I try to remain stubbornly resistant and  endlessly patient. I'll figure it out. Or once in a while, I'll ask for help to figure it out. A lot may have changed since those early editing days. But stubborn resistance? That is very much the same. And just as worthwhile.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Greeting Card Holiday

There were a few moments when I was eager for a card. And maybe I thought about breakfast in bed. But on the day, I was up earlier than anyone who might have made me breakfast. And on the day, I was mostly too busy to pore over cards or sit with a box of bonbons.

This was a Mother's Day when I was very much, well, a mother. I walked with one child who had places to explore. I helped make breakfast for another child (and her assorted friends). I talked with the third over her interests and mine. And mixed up in it all, I discussed parenthood with friends at a slightly different stage of the same adventure.

Was I "feted," as I had intended to be going into the day? Yes, a little. But mostly, I was reminded of what I like about being a mom--those moments apart from the nagging and the too much laundry and the negotiating conflicts, when I am simply able to share time with people who change and evolve every day. And that, I suppose, is what makes Mother's Day more than just a greeting card holiday--when we are able to remember why we ended up celebrating it in the first place.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Shot From A Cannon...Or A Camera

As I set up assorted equipment to shoot my daughter's performance, I chat with an audience member who asks if I do this professionally. "Yes," I think, or "No," because despite years as an Editor, AD, and Director, I have never actually been a professional shooter. But, I wonder, do I say "No," because it's the truth, or do I say it to protect myself, just in case anything should anything go wrong?

The show begins, and I glance back and forth, between the camera on a tripod, which is calmly shooting the whole show, and the camera in my hand, which is following the action in closer shots, guided by my years of AD and Editor experience of knowing which shots will tell the story in the most interesting way. And, as the show goes on, I begin to realize that, despite never having been the person manipulating those big studio cameras, I do "do this professionally." Despite being a bit out of my element while setting up the shoot, I am oddly in my element while shooting it.

Do I do this professionally? I guess I would have to say I do, as I experience that feeling of being shot out of a cannon, all while being the shooter behind the camera, who is capturing the story and preparing to put my own stamp on it, with the shots I take and the way I will edit them together.

And the show goes on...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Staying Up Late

I detour from my normal morning path home. Today, I am "staying up late" rather than rushing home to sleep.

While it is true that Fridays are prime time for such a diversion, as I am simply recovering from one overnight, not also preparing for the next, I don't often make plans, except those that involve a cozy bed. Yet, on this day, I find myself "having coffee," and staying far longer than my post-overnight body generally allows. On this day, engagement outweighs exhaustion. On this day, I am like a kid who can't see the need of going to sleep when there is so much exciting stuff out there still to do.

What I tell people about my overnight work is that it works great--as long as I am vigilant about managing my sleep. On this day, however, I am reminded that vigilance must sometimes give way to involvement. On this day, I remember that sometimes, what we experience when we stay up late (whether "late" is in the night or the day) fulfills us as much as the sleep we are missing. I accept--no, celebrate--a "stay up late" conversation, the memory of which invigorates me, even when I am tired.

As any energetic toddler or teenager will tell you, sometimes, you just HAVE to stay up late...

Monday, May 15, 2017

On Any Given Day

Did you ever notice that soaps almost never had specific days? Sure, there might be an episode that didn't advance the story much, and, therefore, aired on a Tuesday. And there might be the requisite Friday cliffhanger. But you never quite knew what day it was in the characters' lives. Even Christmas, which might take place over several episodes, never aired on Christmas (a network preemption day). And it never, ever seemed as though there were weekends.

Life isn't like that, and consequently, neither is blogging about life. While some moments lived or lessons learned are the same whether on a Monday or a Friday, others could only happen on the day when they happen. So, if I am scrambling to catch up, I am given away. And if I am attempting to process life in "real time," but two days later, it shows. Were I living in Llanview or Pine Valley, this would all be "to be expected." In real life, we don't have that luxury.

So, we bound up toward, or sleepwalk through, our Mondays. And we live for, or scramble to finish in time for, our Fridays. And we relish the change of, or dread the inertia or chaos of, our weekends. And we look at life both as a series of days whose names don't much matter and as a series whose names make all the difference in the world.

It is...whatever day it is, and I am reminded that some stories are worth telling, even a day or two after they happened...or mattered...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Soundtrack

For all the diehard One Lifers, a trip down memory lane...

There was a time when the soundtrack of my life was "Let The River Run," as I commuted in sneakers (and changed into heels) for a job that was just the beginning. Soon, it became "Kokomo," as I marveled at watching a group to which I'd listened for years perform right in front of me at work. In an instant, the soundtrack changed to "Here's To The Shows," a campy anthem poking fun at, yet celebrating, the medium where I was lucky enough to spend my (sometimes very long) days. Social issue storylines reminded me that "There Will Come A Time," and music-driven ones made me feel "No Ways Tired." I bopped down the street humming about "Cheerleaders in Hollywood..." (actual title left out for obvious reasons), and as a parent, I cried tears of joy through "Where Do We Go Now?"

These days, my soundtrack is a little different. After all, news is not too full of music, unless you count quick opening titles and coverage of the latest pop or rap singer. If I'm not listening to tunes from musicals I have seen, or may be working too much to have time to see, I'm likely to be humming "Last Night, I Couldn't Get To Sleep," "Fly By Night," or "Midnight Blue." I guess overnights will do that to you.

Do I miss what my soundtrack used to be? Perhaps. After all, how many people get to go to work where the tune changes so much over the years? But the soundtrack of my past fills me with all sorts of good memories. And it reminds me that, no matter where you end up, there can always be a reason to sing.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Present and Protect

One of the trickiest parts of a freelance world (or, perhaps, any work world that changes) is the need to be both eager in the face of opportunity and self-protective in the face of disappointment. Do you want (or even just need) whatever is being offered? If you don't appear as though you do--really do--you are unlikely to get it. You research, you prepare, you practice, you anticipate. You are ready--in appearance, in attitude, in availability. Yet, odds being what they are in the job market, all of your top-notch preparation and unbridled enthusiasm may be met with no result at all. And, while rejection is rarely a good thing, the fall you take from that high limb you put yourself out on can be a long one, its impact literally crushing.

So, how do we present our best selves while protecting our best selves from the blow?

We commit to the possibility of life change, but don't change our lives until someone commits to us.

We do our homework, but we don't allow our well-being to depend on the grade.

We smile when we go in, and we stay smiling when we come out. Because smiling isn't just about how we present ourselves to others, it's about how we live with ourselves when there's no one to present to.

And we don't change ourselves for real until there's really something to change for.

Between presentation and protection, there is a best self that we can live with. And in a world in which we are regularly called upon to choose one or the other, we can be far more content when we opt for both.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Getting In, Part 365: Moving Out

It has not been a whole 365 days since my daughter began her first year of college--college doesn't work that way. But it has been just over a year since we made her going official. After months of applying and waiting and visiting and agonizing, we made the decision that began the path on which she has spent her last eight months. And I think it is fair to say that it has been a success.

I think back on all the moments and months of stress and uncertainty, and I can see now that they were a blip--though, admittedly, a powerful blip--in the long sequence of life.

I think back on all the moments when the process felt as though it would never end, and I can see now that while it may have ended eventually, it was really more of a beginning.

I think back on how all-encompassing the year of "getting in" felt, and I realize now that those months of "all-encompassing" were just preparation for the life changes that are, well, all-encompassing.

I suppose that "getting in," whether it's into kindergarten, or into middle school (yes, we do that here in NYC), or into high school or college or the work force, is never just about the "getting in." Ultimately, it's about how you manage when you're finally in. And here, in what might feel like "Getting In, Part 365," I am happy to report that both the "getting in" and the "being in" could be called a success.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Don't Stop

I blink, and a week has passed since we were surrounded by people from near and far, sharing a celebration that was so long in the works, I barely remember its beginnings. A week has passed since the moments of anticipation and the moments of last-minute details and the moments of joy. And, because the week has not so much "passed" as "flown," I have not actually paused much to consider it. As usual, there have been other matters to handle, other decisions to make, other endeavors to chase. And little time to stop and process before the week flew by. 

And, as I finally stop--or pause, because a stop is rarely a full stop--I wish I were in motion again. For, while it is good to appreciate, and warming to remember the smiles and imprint the snapshots in your memory, it is practically unbearable to realize that what was in the future for so long is now in the past. While it is invigorating to have done, it is practically paralyzing to BE done. 

And so we move on--to the next event, the next excitement, the next challenge. We look at the pictures, and we retell the stories, but not without creating new stories at the same time. We celebrate, but we don't stop, because that is how we keep going. Glancing backward, but looking, and moving, forward. Because that is how life goes on. And who would really want that to stop...?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

And We Grow

We achieve milestones that, for so long, seemed so far away. And we grow.

We accomplish what we weren't sure we could. And we grow.

We smile a little, and cry a little. And we grow.

We celebrate the passage of time, and we mourn it as well. And we grow.

We learn from the last time, and try to do better this time. And we grow.

We watch children get bigger, and smile over pictures taken when they were littler. And we grow.

We yell a little (or a little too much), and we hug a little. And we grow.

We let go a little, and hold on a little. And we grow.

We support and encourage, and then step back a little. And we grow.

We get through the great things, and we get through the not so great things. And we grow.

We live each day, and we make it to the next. And we grow.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Break In The Routine

For years, I took the same train to the same place at (mostly) the same time to be with (mostly) the same people. It was comfortable. It was clear. It gave me a sense of security in what can be an insecure world. And when it was over, it wasn't just the work and the income that I missed--though I most definitely did miss those. It was also the routine. The knowing, each day, where to go and how, knowing almost even without knowing.

I have been lucky to find a few more routines along the way. After all, routine can turn up in all sorts of places, at all sorts of times. Whether the routine is at rush hour or at 2am, whether the routine is based on home life or on work life, routine continues to keep me "on track" when I might easily "go off the rails."

But sometimes, life intervenes, breaking up our routines, forcing us to function outside of our comfort zone, and to make up the rules along the way. The breaks in the routine aren't all bad. They might be occasions in the midst of everyday life, celebrations that break up the mundane, surprises that change things for the better. But, no matter why they happen, they inevitably up-end how we operate and what we get done. 

We could wish never to have breaks in our routine--it would certainly make life simpler. Yet, ultimately, it is the breaks some days that ensure that the routine most days is enough. It is the allowing ourselves to see and experience more that helps us appreciate "the same." 

So, I am grateful for the breaks, and for the world they allow me to enter. There will be plenty of time for going back to the everyday, for doing what needs to be done. For just a moment in time, it's a welcome change to have a break in the routine.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wait--What?

Wait--what? It's Wednesday? Wasn't it just Sunday?

Wait--what? Soaps are back big-time and I'm not working on them?

Wait--what? Did I miss the boat? Or did I just stand and watch it sail without me?

Wait--what? Marshmallows don't fall into any food group?

Wait--what? Older kids are more challenging than younger ones? How did that happen?

Wait--what? There's no such thing (and will never be such thing) as a "put-away" assistant to help with groceries and dishwashers and junk mail?

Wait--what? I'm not supposed to be able to catch up?

Wait--what? There aren't really beginnings and ends, just a lot of middles?

Wait--what? Have I missed anything, or actually nothing at all? Sometimes, it is hard to tell...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

And It Was Enough

I slept just a few hours, because that's all the time I had. And somehow, it was enough.

I chose the simpler solution, rather than the perfect one, because there were other things to be done. And somehow, it was enough.

I went from making lunches to leaving lunch ingredients to assuming my kids could mostly manage their own lunches. And no one starved, because somehow, it was enough.

I spent years working fairly comfortably, and years unemployed rather uncomfortably. So, these days, I am grateful for both work and time. And somehow, what I end up with is enough.

I cook when I can, and order when I need to. And somehow, either way, we sit together and eat. And it is enough.

Cleaning what will always be too much stuff in too little space may always be impossible. But we straighten, and eliminate, and try to stay ahead of things. And somehow, it is enough.

How it is may be nothing like how it was, or how I thought it might be. But somehow, how it is turns out to be is enough.