Thursday, September 08, 2011

Revisiting Old Dreams

The preschool choir was a lot easier to handle when the parents were out of the room. The room felt a lot less crowded and I didn't have the urge to flee. We have three girls named Caroline in a group of 16, which I think must be a statistical anomaly based on population size and frequency of the name (but if I forget names and need to just shout one, I know there's one I can shout and get the attention of three girls). We had one massive shy attack where a kid hid behind his dad and clung desperately to him, but once the kid was distracted by other kids arriving, the dad was able to slip out of the room without the kid noticing, and that meant there was no drama (I think most of the "separation anxiety" drama is generated by parents making a fuss that then stresses out the kids, not by kids who are truly afraid of being separated from their parents). There was one kid who cried when his mother left him (after she generated some separation drama) and who then hid in the corner during the rest of the time, but he did emerge just before the end and participated in our last activity. The next two weeks should be interesting because my co-teacher will be out and I'll be in charge, with the mom of one of my kids from last year helping out with crowd control. That means I'll need lesson plans and some back-up contingencies (since attention spans seem to be pretty short).

And because I apparently didn't have enough going on this month, I volunteered to sing in a quartet for the early service this weekend. The director was just trying to get a group together, with the only stipulation that he needed at least one soprano, and no sopranos seemed to be volunteering. Supposedly, it was a really easy song that won't require much rehearsal -- except for the soprano part, which has a descant (a kind of counter melody that's generally pretty high). With this piece, although my part stands out I'm never singing alone, so I'm hoping it will be another step in my progression toward curing stage fright and being more comfortable with performance. Meanwhile, the other stuff I have going on is doing revisions on a project that's due October 15, doing public relations for a convention and the convention itself. Plus a concert on Sunday and preparation for a major choral work to be performed in late October.

I normally consider Labor Day weekend to be my "chick lit and chick flick" celebration, but this year I was reading the second Locke Lamora book, and most of my viewing involved Haven, Doctor Who and an Inspector Lewis mystery. But to squeeze in something of a "chick flick" component, one of the HBO channels was showing Broadcast News on Monday night. I was actually kind of afraid to watch it because that movie holds a lot of baggage for me. When it first came out (and when I first saw it), I was a broadcast news major in college, but I hadn't started taking broadcast journalism classes yet and I hadn't yet worked at a TV station. That was still my starry-eyed dream that hadn't yet been tempered with reality. Since my life turned out to be very, very different from that dream, I was a little worried that revisiting it would be depressing. Then there was the fact that the boyfriend I saw the movie with later used the fact that I'd identified a lot with the Holly Hunter character in the movie as one of his red flags that maybe I wasn't a person he wanted to be with when he broke up with me -- more than six months after we saw the movie (which made me wonder if he'd had such serious doubts the entire time he was dating me).

Rewatching it turned out to not have that much of an emotional impact on me. Seeing it after having worked in TV news pointed out a few of the things they got wrong. That was mostly the technology I worked with, and a lot of it was right, but the scene that made me cringe was the one where they went down to the wire editing a story and then Joan Cusack had to run through the obstacle course of the halls to get the tape to the control room in time. One thing they got wrong was laying in the reporter's narration last. That's usually the starting point, and you edit the visuals onto the narration (at least, you did with that technology. With digital it may be different). But the obstacle course really bugged me because I have done that very thing, being the person standing by to grab the tape as soon as it comes out of the editing machine and sprint down the hallway to the control room with seconds to spare, and there is no obstacle course. The moment they know a tape is going to be run, they clear the halls and get everything and everyone out of the way. I guess there's no drama or humor in someone running down a clear hallway, unless it's just the spectacle of an intern in heels and a skirt sprinting while people shout down the hallway to clear the way (and sometimes applaud as you pass). Now they probably just hit a button and the digital story comes up on the control panel.

Anyway, rewatching this made me very glad that I didn't go into that business after college. I would have hated it, and today's news business is even worse than what they were showing as the potential future back in that 1988 movie. The fun domino video used as the example of the vapid wasteland of TV news is nothing compared to supposedly real news programs covering the antics of reality TV stars as though they're news. I still see way too much of myself in the Holly Hunter character. My friends would probably recognize me in that introduction of her as a child, where her father walks into her room and speaks to her while she's typing a letter and she jumps three feet in the air and screams bloody murder. I think I'm mostly a pretty mellow person now, but I do seem to have two speeds, off and on, and when I'm "on" I can be very intense, high-strung and even bitchy and scary, the way that character was. If I'd worked in that field, that's the way I'd probably be most of the time, and I don't like myself that way (we'll see if this convention PR thing starts edging me back in that direction). This time around, though, I also saw a lot of myself in the Albert Brooks character. In most of my jobs and in my various careers, I've tended to be the reliable, competent one who serves as the knowledge resource for everyone else but who somehow is never the person singled out to be a star. That even seems to be what happened to me in publishing -- books that got overwhelmingly favorable reviews and positive fan response and that sell reliably and steadily but that never got the treatment that would allow them to break out as bestsellers. I guess that was my main pang from the movie, realizing that.

It's actually kind of nice to revisit something that once embodied your dreams for your future and realize that you have no regrets about that not being the way your life turned out. Except for the clothes. I recognized a lot of those outfits -- maybe not anything exactly, but that was generally the way I dressed. What was up with those ankle-length, baggy skirts (probably trying to balance the shoulder pads)? I definitely regret having had a closet full of clothes like that. And maybe trying to have a haircut like Holly Hunter's in that movie, which did NOT work with curly hair.

No comments: