Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Life & Death & Change

Today it rained.  Rain of course is not a common occurrence in Los Angeles.  It was a cold rain (my least favorite of all of the rains).  It caused my world to change... ever so slightly, but change it did.  Minor alterations.

I had to wear long pants today.  And a sweater.  And I kept my doors and windows closed.  I enjoyed my coffee a bit more on this nippy morn and I postponed some errands to avoid going out in the rain.

Bradley had to walk in the rain (which he hates) and it further necessitated my juggling an umbrella along with his leash and my iPod.  I even wore a sweatshirt.  (Bradley, by the way, it not a fan of rain either... he avoids puddles and walks close to me to stay under the umbrella).

Later in the day, Steve Jobs died.  (To paraphrase a friend of mine who posted this: "Thank you for knowing what I wanted before I knew I wanted it.")

Shortly after that, I got a call about a temporary job offer that could last a few months.

What does this all mean?  How do these relate?

As the day wound down, I realized that in retrospect, this day was not really unlike any other day.  It was merely your average routine day, but on any given day the routine is hardly that.

We face weather daily and adjust to it.  We hear news that's good or bad... about politics or money or life or death.  This might cause us to think about something differently.  We receive phone calls that change or alter what we do... an invitation, a request or just a conversation that causes us to do something.

These changes - no matter how big or how small - alter the ripples of our world. 

My point is, we are all on a course that is not set in stone.  Our course can change from moment to moment.  It is all fleeting and temporary and very fluid.

Just keep that in mind the next time something is not going as you hope... it could change a moment's notice - it might be changing now and you've yet to realize it.

Open your eyes.  Breathe.  Relax.  Smile.  Enjoy.

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. -- John Lennon

=October Job Hunt=
10/01 (Sat) - Applied online as a Production Coordinator for E! Entertainment Television.
10/02 (Sun) - Answered an ad for an Executive Assistant to two show runners for a television series.
10/03 (Mon) - Answered an ad for someone with mad Excel/Word skills for a project in Glendale.
10/04 (Tues) - Reviewed Job Boards for NBC, Paramount, Warner Bros., DreamWorks Animation, Sony Animation, and the Walt Disney Company,   Applied online for the Universal Pictures Leadership Program.
10/05 (Weds) - Receive a call about a temporary position covering for a Maternity Leave (four months).  More details to follow.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Taking A Step Back

The World is a very big place, yet most times we only see a small portion of that world.  Most people cannot see beyond the edges of the bubble they live in.

A few years ago I was chatting with a Photographer.  He was having a problem focusing on his work.  He took lots of pictures and wanted to be a Photographer, but was lost as to why he took them.

I told him that there must be something singular in what caught his eye or he wouldn't be snapping away.  He just needed to recognize it.

An objective eye can do that.  You really just need to be able to step back and look - that is the talent... stepping back.  Be able to do that and it will become your greatest asset if you can master it... most people can't.

The next time you are in the supermarket take a look around... watch the people.  Most are oblivious to the world around them - trapped (naively and stupidly happy) in their own little bubble.  They probably won't even notice you watching them.  They will continue this way through the rest of their lives until they die.

They are unable to step back and see the bigger picture.

And that's OK... the big picture is not for everyone.

I went on to tell the Photographer to take a look at a pile of his pictures (and to have some post-it notes handy).  Look at each one and jot down the FIRST thing that catches his eye.  Write it down on the post-it then look at the series.  I bet him that the common denominator would reveal itself. 

Sadly, I know not the outcome of this exercise, but I bet today he's a better, focused (no pun intended) Photographer.

We all need to learn to take that step back.  Don't simply continue to go through the motions of your life without taking that moment to assess the world around you.

See the bigger picture.

=October Job Hunt=
10/01 (Sat) - Apply online as a Production Coordinator for E! Entertainment Television.
10/02 (Sun) - Answer an ad for an Executive Assistant to two show runners for a television series.
10/03 (Mon) - Answer an ad for someone with mad Excel/Word skills for a project in Glendale.


A Singular Symbol of Strength

The Tree.

A singular symbol of strength. Visually simplistic in design from afar, this ever-growing structure of life is nothing less than admirable in its complexity.  Such is life.  Both are a fascinating and mesmerizing thing.

Consider the humble trunk.  This thick, strong cylindrical base rises up from the soil and supports what rises above.  Yet as solid and strong as the trunk may appear, what lays beneath the soil may be a twisted confused mass of roots - from thick tendrils to wispy hairs.  But these not only anchor the tree firmly to the Earth, they reach out to absorb a constant supply of nutrients and fluids to sustain that which is more visible.

Not all trunks emerge as gracefully from the ground, though.  Some actually give us a glimpse of the turmoil that lays below the surface.  From twisted chaos grows singular strength.  There may be conflict there, but its future will be an eventual resolution into a majestic, living and breathing entity.  What comes next is - for me - where the magic lies.

Socotra Dragon Tree
From the solid and stoic trunk emerges a network of branches that dart out in every direction, oft times in what may appear to be a haphazard and random way.  But random is rarely what the tree actually does.  

Its seeming randomness tends to be necessitated more by outside forces that cause it to adapt.  A branch may suddenly change its course - alter its direction - possibly due to encountering a shadow it wants to avoid as it continues to reach skyward.

And what we encounter up there is nothing less than magical!  Ever-growing paper thin little sprouts that unfurl into a complex design that not only add an entirely new dimension of beauty, but engage in complex processes triggered by the warmth of the sun.  They breath in our excess waste carbon dioxide and exhale the absolutely vital oxygen needed to sustain our life.

As I said, to me a tree is a fascinating and mesmerizing thing.

Life is often like a Tree.  Our tangled and seemingly chaotic beginnings (roots) come together into our singular identity (trunk) which in time can diverge in very many directions as life throws us variables that cause us to adapt and change (branches), ultimately rising above it all to unfurl ourselves into the majestic entity we show the world (our leafy canopy).  This is what we are meant to be

I - like the tree - am a singular symbol of strength... from twisted chaos grows that singular strength. 

=October Job Hunt=
10/01 (Sat) - Apply online as a Production Coordinator for E! Entertainment Television.
10/02 (Sun) - Apply online as an Executive Assistant to two show runners for a television series.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Stalled Life?

As October begins, I find myself with a sense that my life has stalled... and it needs a jump start!

There is one over-riding cause for this malaise... unemployment.  Thus far, 19 weeks of unemployment and the sense of freedom that initially permeates one's life when the shackles of a 9-5/M-F work week are removed, has long ago worn off.  Tedium as set in.

Each morning when I rise I think, "Now what?"  I've lost a sense of purpose.  Where do I turn?  What do I do next?  Mild depression like a coat of dust in a empty house begins to coat everything.  

Things I used to find enjoyable are no longer worth the effort.  Weekends have no meaning for me... everyday is a weekend!  I'm irritable, grumpy, short-tempered and blah - all on a regular basis.  My passions are gone and have been replaced with silent stares, sighs and lots of sitting.  Projects are half completed, everything is an effort, and nothing seems to give me a feeling of accomplishment.

How do I shake this?  How do I move forward?  How do I break the spell of complacency and kick-start my life once again?

Well... .  I don't know.  But, I'll start with trying to force myself to do something consistent on a daily basis.

Therefore, welcome to "Blogtoberfest 2011" - a daily blog similar to Blogapaloozza from July 2009.  This will be a reason to complete at least one task a day, exercise the creative mind and spend some quality time thinking.

I will NOT dwell on my employment situation, but as a curiosity and as a sort of a diary, I will document my daily job search actions and results in an ongoing listing at the bottom of each blog... they may not be much, but may become and interesting and telling track record of one man's attempt to find a job during this ongoing 2011 Recession.

I hope you find it at least mildly amusing and entertaining.  Until tomorrow...

=October Job Hunt=
10/01 - Apply online as a Production Coordinator for E! Entertainment Television.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Perhaps A Crossroads?

It isn't often in life you find yourself at a crossroads.  I'm not talking about simple choices like 'do I go to the gym or do I go get ice cream' - I'm talking the big, life-altering choices that don't present themselves every day.

I presently find myself at just one of these junctures - this one being career related.

If you don't know me (or to recap it for those who do), I've spent:
  • Four years in the US Navy on Submarines as a Yeoman;
  • Six months as a Fashion Jewelry Consultant (ick);
  • Six years in Music Retail (including work at one of Long Island's first "CD Only" chains);
  • Six months as a Costumed Party Performer ("Hi boys and girls... I'm Barney!");
  • Three years as a Production Associate for Television Documentaries and Children's Specials;
  • Nine years as a Paralegal in Animation; and 
  • Six years as a Production Coordinator and Supervisor for Feature Animation Production (phew!).

But what to do next?

Do I continue in Animation Production?  Do I try my hand at Writing?  I would love to work with Children.  What about my passion for Food (albeit, mostly the eating of food!)?

Decisions, decisions.  A wonderful yet frightening position to be in. It isn't often that we get an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.  Most of my past career shifts were necessitated by circumstances beyond my control... selling Jewelry so not for me, the CD Experience closed, a Party Performer is only paid so much, the Documentary company was purchased by Disney and then phased out... although I will say that the shift from Animation Legal to Animation Production was me seizing my own Destiny and I have zero regrets for that one.

Is this now one of those times again?  Will Destiny disguise herself as Opportunity and rap upon my door?

What would it be like to be a Food Critic?  A Children's Book Author?  A Kindergarten/Elementary School Teacher?  What about Non-Profit work?  Maybe it's time to give back to the world?  Feed the hungry?  Shelter the homeless?  Put a smile on the face of a child?

Can I do these any of these things and still pay my rent?

Where to turn, how to begin?

We all have a perception of who we are and we all get into routines that occupy our days.  Sometimes, days turn into weeks and weeks into months and months into years... a decade goes by in the wink of an eye.

I have nothing profound to conclude this blog with.  It's a mental dump... a Rambling from an (as yet) Untrained Mind (if you will). be continued...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Taming Of The Flu, Part II - Lessons Learned

In the moments of semi-consciousness during my recent battle with Influenza (see, The Taming Of The Flu, Part I), the fragility of life became quite apparent.  Some seemingly insignificant virus had attacked my body and had attacked hard.  For the first time in my memory, I lost the battle.  My system was over-whelmed by these microscopic invaders.  

I am no longer invincible.  My presumed immortality must be questioned.  I find a different me gazing back in the mirror.  The cape is off.  The vulnerability to kryptonite has been made apparent. 

Interestingly, other than my new-found revelations, there are no outward signs of the trauma I had just experienced.  Not even a pin-prick hole where blood was drawn or where the IV that pumped four bags of life-restoring fluids had been (both holes as they missed the vein the first time).

Life.  The balance is surprisingly delicate.

Oh sure, we hear the stories all the time of people who survive tragedy and trauma: trapped coal miners; coma-wakers; natural disaster rescuees; organ-replacement recipients; heart-attack, stroke and cancer survivors; dialysis patients... In the pantheon of such, my little episode is nary a blip.  A relatively insignificant fainting spell that was subsequently and easily corrected by forcing a drink of water into my body.

How small it can also make one feel.

I hope never to forget those few frightening moments.  I want to see them as a wake-up call to change my ways.  Silly, I know... these are the things that people say after a life-and-death event.  But in those first few moments after regained semi-consciousness... those moments when I could hear all but had not the energy to respond or to even simply open my eyes... I was afraid.  Those few moments of simply not knowing what was wrong or what had happened to me were scary.

Life is fragile and temporary.  It should be treated as sacred.  Our bodies should be taken care of.  We are the caretakers of the vessels that hold our essence.  

In retrospect, I had just experienced a moment when the essence was awake, but the vessel had been felled.  If the vessel could not be repaired, I won't swear that the essence has an alternative.  I'd like to think it does.  I'd like to think it can go on without the vessel... possibly finding a future vessel to reside in.  That's where I draw my comfort in moments of true uncertainty.

Take care of yourselves.  You are all you've got.

The Taming Of The Flu, Part I - Felled By The Virus

After only ten minutes in the Urgent Care waiting room, I collapsed and began an unexpected journey over the next few hours.  Influenza is nothing to take lightly.  The cutesy name 'flu' does not begin to describe how serious this virus can be.  What had seemed to start a mere-48 hours prior, had now felled me.

I am normally sniffly and sneezy.  I've had allergies for my entire life; seven years of injections, countless prescriptions and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, herbals and dietary changes, acupuncture, acupressure, neti-pot flushes... nothing cures the constant nasal drip, congestion and throat misery (my karaoke days sadly ended three years ago).

So on Sunday night when my throat was feeling a bit more mucousy than normal, I sucked on a few cough drops during a Classical Concert.  Monday morning, I awoke at 6AM per my norm and after walking the pooch, showering and shaving, I headed in to work.

Come 11AM, I felt a bit draggy.  My head was getting foggy and all I wanted to do was go home and lay down... which I do.  Popping an Antihistamine, Guaifenesin (Mucinex), a Decongestant and Ibuprofen every four hours (for the ensuing body aches), I curl up in bed.  3AM brings not only another does of my capsule cocktail, but shivers and shakes.  I take my temp and it's only 98.0.  This IS a temperature for me as I normally run about 97.5.

Calling in sick for Tuesday, I spend the bulk of the day in bed, except for making a couple eggs and getting up for two 16 oz glasses of hot tea, leftover Pho from the night before, a can of chicken soup, a leftover breast/thigh/leg from Saturday night's chicken and a few other 16 oz glasses of water.  But I'm not making progress.  Still popping pills every four hours, my aches and pains are not subsiding, my headache is growing and I'm still feeling lousy.

Mark brings over some NyQuil/DayQuil - a combination that so many swear by.  Since the Ibuprofen I'd been taking hasn't helped the aches and pains, maybe the Acetaminophen will.  Nope.  3AM brings chills and fever again.  Still only about 98.

Wednesday starts off normally enough; coffee, a bowl of Granola, DayQuil and bed.  By 1:30 the afternoon, I'm feeling like crap and ask Mark to take me to Urgent Care.  I'm walking very slowly, I'm weak, don't feel like opening my eyes unless I have to and feel like I'm headed downhill.  After only ten minutes in the Urgent Care waiting room around 4PM, I begin to feel uncomfortable and a bit nauseous and hot.  I just want to lay down while we wait and I begin to struggle to remove a scarf and my jacket...


For the next 20 seconds or so, Mark reports that I'm grinding my teeth, my back is drenched in sweat and people are rushing around to get me into an exam room.  I remember feeling people lifting me into a wheelchair and while I'm now conscious and can hear and feel everything, I find opening my eyes unnecessary and until someone asks me a direct question, I don't offer up any information.

The IV misses the first time, but the second one takes.  I feel the fluid begin to enter my body as people are grilling Mark with questions and debating with each other about all sorts of things.  I begin to feel like an iPhone whose battery has died... when I'm hooked up to the recharging fluids, I slowly take in the power, but it takes a few minutes before I can acknowledge signs of life.  My blood pressure is taken, pulse-ox, and at some point, EMTs are summoned.

When they arrive, seven of them take over.  They change out the bag of IV fluids and begin asking me questions.  Someone listens to my chest, someone pricks my finger, assorted pads are taped onto me and leads hooked up... numbers are coming back pretty normal.  I begin to respond and open my eyes when needed.  I vaguely remember having to sign my name to some papers - god only knows what they were about.  After what feels like about 10 minutes, I'm loaded onto a gurney and transported by ambulance to the hospital ER, two or three blocks away.

In the ER, icy cold fluids are still being pumped into me, tubes of blood are drawn, nasal swab taken, EKG, X-ray, more blood pressure.  I'm now fully alert.  

I'm discharged at about 8PM with a diagnosis of dehydration due to Influenza Type A and a prescription for Tamiflu in my hand.

We all take getting sick lightly.  Sure, I could blame the Healthcare System for making it so inconvenient and so expensive to see a professional.  I could blame Employers (certainly NOT mine - they urged me to stay home!) who make you feel guilty for going home early or taking a sick day or don't provide adequate sick days.  But the blame falls on me.  'Drink plenty of fluids' is not just a platitude.  It is a medical necessity when you have a cold/flu... hell, every day.  If you are not drinking your 8-glasses a day, you may be flirting with an unexpected afternoon like I experienced.

No bueno.