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


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


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


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.