Goodbye, October

Posted: November 2, 2015 in Blogging, Journals

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10/29/15
Normally, I love the month of October. The weather is traditionally wonderful – cool but not cold – and the colors on the trees are breathtaking. I drove through the hills of Watchung this morning and they were aflame with beauty. Also, the smell of working fireplaces fills the air and the comfortable boots and sweaters emerge from their closeted hiding spaces.
This year, though, I am very happy to see October coming to an end. Just before my birthday at the end of September a friend challenged me on facebook to write “a page a day” for the entire autumn month. I tried to back out but other people chimed in on the thread and told me I should just do it. Some actually mentioned that they missed my blog and wished that I would post more stories. I tried to tell them all that I was tired of trying to be a writer but they would hear none of it. I really am tired of it though. I’ve been writing – poetry, song lyrics, novels, a memoir, short stories and an ABC book – since I was 12 years old and I’ve had exactly two short stories published. I’m done with it. I do it mostly for myself anyway so it’s enough, for me, cathartic, if I write things in my head and then forget them.
To those demanding people who have said they need more of my blog and that I should post more stories I would like to say, (but never really would), sure, pay my Verizon bill for a month and I’ll gladly write you a tearjerker. Take care of my gas and electric charges for a while and I shall happily write you a sonnet.
I’m willing to bet a thousand bucks (which I can’t spare) that I’m the only one on that facebook thread who actually did take up the challenge of writing a page a day and then stuck with it. Once October is over and the ghouls and goblins have crawled back to their dank, dark, cobwebby caves I will close my journal and sigh. The plan thereafter will be to crack it open only when I travel to someplace interesting. So, there.

In bed and practically dead.
Still, insane thoughts creep through my head.
Why can’t my mind fall asleep with my body?
And why must I keep getting up to go potty?
I’m hot, I’m cold, can I pay all the bills?
Shoot, I was sweating and now I have chills.
It sucks to be menopausal and poor.
But I love and am loved so I don’t need much more.
Please, someone, hypnotize me to sleep.
I need the kind that is dreamy and deep.
I worry, I stress, and I reminisce
About paychecks and travel and people I miss.
About muscles and tendons and bones that worked well.
About ankles and knees that never would swell.
Still, I’m here and my kids make me smile and beam.
So all I need now is some sleep and a dream.
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Don’t say, the end is near
Don’t fade to black, don’t draw that curtain
My colleagues, I’ll say it clear
Directors know, they can be certain
I’ve had a career that’s full
I cued from each and every doorway
And more, much more than this, I did it your way

Mistakes, I’ve made a few
But then again, too few to mention
And now what I really want is health insurance and to grow my pension
I planned each perfect shot, each rundown step with no room for play
And more, much more than this, I did it your way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
Producers bit off more than they could chew
But we did it all, when there was no time
My crew and I, to make you shine
Directors all know we stood tall and did it your way

I’ve lead so many stars
I’ve had my fill, my share of wrangling
I’ve always been polite to divas whom I’ve felt like strangling
To think I did all that
For 30 years, in such a sure way
Oh, yes, oh, yes, t’was me, I did it your way

For what is a stage manager, what has she got?
If not her crew, then she has naught
To find the shots the director “feels”
Remind a cameraman, that thing has wheels
Everyone knows, I worked your shows and did it your way!

Yes, it was your way

www.linkedin.com/pub/kim-miller/11/23a/b36/

 

I am available for any and all TV stage managing opportunities.  Please contact me at DJGRRR17@aol.com with any leads or inquiries.

 

With love and thanks to Frank, Paul and Claude.

314799_4865839976057_1080256591_nYour resume must look sharp.  Your job search methods must be fresh, creative, powerful.  You need a prepared list of personal and professional references and a versatile cover letter that can be tweaked for every different type of potential interview.  And you need to network, network, network!  This was just some of the helpful advice doled out this morning by my Jersey Job Club leader, a lovely woman named Cynthia.

What is a Jersey Job Club?  It’s a helpful meeting place for unemployed people living in the Garden State, a “club” where job seekers can go to get ideas, get advice, get encouragement and, of course, network.  I sat through a 90-minute orientation this morning in a drab East Orange building staffed by cheerful and helpful Department of Labor workers and I left feeling better about my chances of winding up back in the workforce.  There were about a dozen other women in the room with me, ranging in age from mid-60s to early 30s and crossing a wide swath of the career and education spectrum.  We had all been downsized by companies looking to save money, stay afloat or just plain go belly up.  We were all frustrated and rather stunned by our current situations and while we may have been a bit depressed and discouraged upon entering the room at 10am, I believe we all left feeling positive and empowered.

Some of the unemployed women in the room had had clerical jobs in nearby schools.  Some had worked in collections.  A few had worked for lawyers or executives.  They had all been employed in what I would consider more “conventional” fields than mine.  For the better part of three decades I have worked as a freelance television stage manager.  It’s never been the kind of job for which you would see a help wanted ad in a newspaper (remember newspapers?), or on a typical electronic job-search bulletin board.  It’s not the sort of position that requires the help of a headhunter.  It’s the kind of job that you somehow manage to get in your 20s, hopefully right out of college, and then maintain and grow through internal networking.  The more you work, the more new job leads you hear.  The different and creative ways that people use to obtain their first jobs in the industry are about as varied and numerous as there are job titles in TV production, from following in a family member’s footsteps to interning or working as a page to DJ-ing a TV station’s Christmas party and asking everyone there to send over the person who hires crew members.  Yeah, that last one, that was my creative path into the land of television.  Smart, right?  Serendipitous, even.  It worked and I had a fabulous 30-year career.

But lately the jobs have been hard to come by.  I worked the Olympic games in London, Vancouver, Beijing and Torino but not earlier this year in Sochi, and I’m still not really sure why.  I’ve had a few freelance gigs here and there, but not enough to live on.  And at the start of this year I thought my troubles were over when I landed a position on the crew of an awesome new cable health and wellness show.  We were supposed to be on the air for at least a year, maybe get picked up for syndication and survive past that projection, but the show was hemorrhaging money and was canceled after eight short months.  So now I’m unemployed again and having a hard time with it.

At the Job Club today we were reminded to stay focused and stay positive.  I have a difficult time with that no matter how much I try.  I asked Alyson Charles, one of the hosts of the show I had most recently been working on, to suggest a few daily affirmations I could say to hopefully keep my mind filled with positive thoughts that would crowd out the feeling of doom and gloom I so often experience in stressful situations.  She happily obliged.  My favorite was, “I am a being of Divine light and love and my purpose here is to embody that through my words, thoughts and actions. And so it is!”  Thanks, Aly.  I have been repeating that every day along with, “Help me please, thank you,” to stay positive and grateful and attract the job I desire.  I have treated my search as a full-time job and I have been networking my butt off.  Friends and colleagues have chimed in with leads and ideas, for which I am so very grateful.  I have looked through old contact numbers and reached out to people I have not heard from in years.  And, meanwhile, I have remained open to the idea of a new career in a similar but different field.  I’m not exactly 21st-century-ready but I’m smart and I learn quickly.

One suggestion the Job Club leader made today was to create something called a visual board.  It’s supposed to be sort of like a poster that you place where you can see it daily and it should contain images that represent your goal.  I told Cynthia and the other women in the room that I have been continuously and frequently changing my profile photos on Facebook and LinkedIn and rotating through older and newer pictures of me working as a stage manager to remind myself, other people and the universe in general what it is that I have done, what it is that I DO, still.  Then I asked if that counted as a visual board.  It does.  But just to make sure, here are some more photos that I send out, with all good intentions, to affirm what it is that I am, what I do, what I want and deserve:

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Thanks for reading this blog post.  If you have any job leads, please let me know!  DJGRRR17@aol.com


thurm

Thirty-five years ago today, I sat down, crying, and wrote this poem….

 

Beachball

 

Part of the soul
He hid in a catcher’s mitt,
Once very few stole
And none have more spirits lit.
Thin, navy lines were etched upon the skin
Of number fifteen,
The gallant
Whose talent
Went deeper than seen.

A mustache would smile
So seldom, but always real.
An overweight style
Was part of the true appeal
That drew wild roars to touch
Someone special in the clutch
Whose life had reason,
Who won our hearts every season.

Respect soaked through the Stadium
But he hardly heard the din,
Concentration at the plate
Would bring another in.
Nothing scared the Captain of the team
Not even a charging run.
When Beachball gave it all he had
We knew the game was won.

No one could replace
Or even attempt to fill
The Captain’s cleats
And so, no one ever will.
Somebody new will take the squat
And gain the esteem,
But we all
Will recall
When Beachball led the team.

ThurmanMunsonPlaque

Gravity follows me everywhere
And keeps Manhattan down
Buildings that reach for sharper ways
Would certainly fly
Would liven the sky
Were gravity not always around

I get tired
When I see some things
I get tired
Of the people who play
I’m so tired
Of conventional thinking
If the gravity failed
I would be well on my way

Gravity follows me everywhere
It pulls and tugs all day
Some of us want to be interesting
Find new ways to move
With nothing to prove
But gravity never says okay

So I
Ignore the gravity
And all that it commands
Yes I
Ignore the gravity
I live in zero g
And don’t hear the reprimands

You’d make the gravity go away
You’d make the gravity go away
You’d make the gravity go away….

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Bea handed me a small and intricately wrapped box on December 26th.  It was our Christmas celebration, since she was in LA for the 25th and didn’t fly east to be with us until the next day.  We had a big family meal with some cousins planned at our favorite Long Island restaurant for the 27th and a bacon-wrapped turkey dinner in the wings for the 29th.  Everyone wanted to to see her, to spend time with her, to take pictures with her and give her some presents.  But when she first arrived at my sister’s house, where the twins and I were spending the whole long Christmas break, it was just the five of us.  My sister.  The twins.  Bea.  Me. 

I gave her the presents I had managed to buy for her with my meager earnings.  The twins and my sister Gloria gave her their gifts.  There was a fire in the fireplace, laughter in the house, a happiness that had been absent from the family holiday celebrations Bea had missed.  She gave me a photo album, unwrapped with just a red shoelace holding it closed,  that made me cry.  It was filled with pictures of the two of us together on one side of each page and a brief description on the other side.  It was beautifully, painstakingly decorated with shells and stickers, beads and images that meant something to both of us.  The first picture was of me in a softball uniform with Bea, 2 years old, sitting on my lap.  We’re at a cafe after a game.  She’s smiling impishly and drawing with a broken blue crayon.  “My Favorite Picture of Us,” it says in magic marker on the facing page.  The words are surrounded by stick-on, 3-D butterflies.

There’s a photo of us in Aunt Gloria’s pool.  There’s one of us on a kiddie roller coaster and two of us together at the Early Show, from when she used to come with me to work.  There’s one of the two of us at Legends Field in Tampa.  She’s maybe seven weeks old.  Her first of many Yankee games.  The second to last page is a list of “A Few Reasons Why I Love You.”  A few.  There are 21.  I counted.  And the last page has a pretty, multi-layered heart, the kind you might use on a homemade valentine, with love always written in script.  It’s signed, simply, bea bea.  Because that’s what I call her.

And then, almost as an afterthought, she handed me the little box.  I wiped away the tears the photo album visited upon me and bravely soldiered on.  A little box, that rattled curiously when I shook it.  The wrapping peeled away easily and found its way to the fire.  “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor,” she had written on the lid.  And, “Be strong, mom.  I’m proud of you.”  The lid slid right off.  Inside was a crystal clear memory of happier times.  Or were they happier?  It was when her other mother and I were pretending to get along.  It was when we both had jobs.  It was when we had a house that felt permanent, like a warm wool sweater that would last a lifetime.  I smiled at all the smooth, cool pieces of sea glass.  Bea had been collecting them for me.  The edges were softened, like the memories of our turbulent past, when half our lives seemed to be filled with arguments, disagreement, disappointments, when walks along the shoreline were my refuge from the craziness that had become my life.

Bea would come with me sometimes, hold my hand, watch the sand for a dull glint of green or white or, miracle of miracles, blue.  We’d go to Cape Cod every August, to Provincetown to spend a week with other same-sex couples and their kids.  Herring Cove was where we would gather almost every afternoon.  Once the twins were a part of the family we’d set up a tent for the babies and little kids, a place to keep them safe from the crispiness of the baking sun.  Soon, they were old enough to walk along the shoreline, too.  Every single piece of sea glass was cause for celebration.  Every tide pool along the way was a rest stop on the journey to find a tiny bit of quiet, a few moments of peace.  It was on these leisurely but adventurous strolls that I first began writing my memoir in my head, Bea perched upon my tanned shoulders, wearing a sunhat and a long-sleeved white shirt to cover her peachy skin.  She’d hold on for dear life as I carefully bent to reach for what might or might not be the highly coveted glow of old glass.  If we found a piece that was still jagged and clear we’d throw it back in, declaring it not quite ready for the collection.

Once, Bea and I decided that the coolest piece of sea glass we could possibly find would be an old marble that had somehow found its way into the waves.  So we bought a bagful and tossed them in, thinking, one day, maybe we’d discover them again, perfectly round and muted and smelling of the ocean.  We figured, even if we never did find one again, someone might, and that would be truly awesome for them.  It was our small contribution to future sea glass collectors everywhere.

The box trembled in my hand.  The good memories it brought back far outweighed the bad.  I could smell Cape Cod Bay.  I could feel the summer sun warming my tired bones.  The waves were licking the shoreline like a still-blind kitten finding and tasting its mother.  The kites were dancing happily, crazily in the on-shore breeze.  The girls, all three of them, were small enough for me to scoop up together in one giant, delicious group hug, golden sand falling from their hair and tiny feet.  I thanked my kid for knowing me, for understanding the sweetness of sentimentality and bringing back to me those warm and happy thoughts.

I’m planning to go back to Provincetown some summer, soon.  With all of my girls.  For lobster and clam chowder and sunburned friends and quiet days at the beach.  For finding crabs in tide pools and fishing and swimming and shopping on Commercial Street.  For dunes and bicycles and drag queens in comedy shows.  And maybe, for one perfectly round, weathered piece of sea glass.  A muted orb.  A circle.  Like life.

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