Sunday, September 18, 2011

Just One Week

"Technology has exceeded our humanity"Image by Toban Black via FlickrWhat could be bad about my wife going to the UK for a week?

I'm over reacting, obviously.  Being a single parent for a week is hardly something to moan about.  I guess, though, I struggled with this because it was just for a little voice-over job.  There's plenty of fantastic studios capable of providing the voice-over for 4 episodes of a documentary...and computers can be connected and transfer huge files these days.  In fact, for this same documentary, Lynn interviewed Russell Brand and I shared the 4 Gb video files using Dropbox.

So it's not so much the week away I'm complaining about, it's the unnecessariness of it all.  Hmm, now that I see that written, I realize that's not really true.  You see, I was getting quite used to having Lynn make the lunches and ready the boys for school in the morning... and she'd collect them from school... and she'd make dinner for us all... and although I'd help with baths and PJs and the like, she's always the first choice for story reading (not a surprise there, I guess).  So in short, I wasn't so used to Lynn's efforts, that I wasn't able to predict how difficult it would be without her!

Through the help of friends (especially Tara), some minor miracles and an almost complete and utter lack of sleep, I still managed to work this week.

Thursday was the biggest challenge though.  We had a big gig in downtown LA with 4 hours of live streaming; first from an immersive dome and then from a theater, with a 90 minute gap to breakdown and move to the other location.  You can the watch the video archives here.   I arrived at the office at 9:30am and then arrived back home at just after 11pm.  Unfortunately our boys had decided that the unusualness of the day/week, meant they could give the babysitter the run around.  They were both still up when I got home!

Getting them up at 7am was a challenge beyond that of mere multi-camera and multi-locational live streaming.  Neither boy was interested in waking.  I literally had to drag them from their beds and sit them down at the table for breakfast.

And then it hit me, technology could be my ally once again.  This time the solution took the form of Google Voice linking me to a secret weapon... Mom!  7am here in Los Angeles is 3pm in the UK and luckily all the voice-overs were complete.  The boys were so excited to talk to her, they properly woke up and even got quite cheerful... and I manipulated that joy all the way to school... before returning home for a nap!

So I dedicate this blog post to my sons' teachers.  They had no idea, or prior warning, of the effect Lynn leaving would have on their weeks and especially their Friday!
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Daddy. Why do you have 2 beards growing out of your nose?

Old make-up mirror.It's been a long time since I last posted anything on this site.  I kept meaning too and there's been a lot going on that I could have written about.  However it took my 4 year old to spur me on with the title of this post.  You see, this blog is mine, but it also belongs to my boys.   Without them I do some interesting things, but it's my boys who provide the real challenges, fears, frustrations, joy and, well... damp shorts!

So it now occurs to me that this blog might be breaking the Trade Descriptions Act (a UK law that forces advertisers to only make claims that almost, nearly, perhaps, slightly resemble some form of truth).  I had already slowly eased away from being the stay-at-home Dad, but I was still the one dropping off and collecting the boys from school, buying the groceries and making dinner.  Not so much now though, since Lynn, my dear wife, gave up her job!

This wasn't just an 'on a whim' decision.  My wife had managed to do her job well, but it hadn't prove to be her passion.  Lynn's met lots of wonderful people here in LA and has lots of great projects to do, but when you've sold nearly all of your time to making 5 hours of TV a week, then you have very little space left to do anything else.  We have our Green Cards now, so we can stay in the country permanently and can work for anyone without an additional (read 'expensive') visa.  When we came here, we had only ever intended for Lynn to do that job for a year.  So the question inevitably became, "If not now, when?"

It seems that big decisions are easier to take, than to explain.  Lynn enlightened me to the mirror concept.  For example, when you tell someone that you've lost a parent, they'll look at you with the feeling they had when they lost their parent and then they'll tell you their story.  The same goes for those other big life events; child birth, weddings, relationship break-ups, etc.  With resignation from a job it's no different, except generally people have only considered resigning and then held on till they found something else.  So most react with shock and statements like, "you are so brave" or "don't you worry about providing for your children?"  Not exactly confidence inspiring statements, no matter how unintended or heart felt.

The only exception to the mirror concept, was from agents.  Both UK and US agents responded with, "Congratulations!"  Though I could be cynical and point out that neither agent was taking a cut from her salary and now that will likely change. ;-)

Enough about Lynn, back to me, myself and I.  Suddenly, I felt I was going to have to earn some 'proper' money.  That it was all on me now to ensure the family's financial security - just like it was in the UK.  An understandable reaction perhaps, but not exactly helpful.  You see Lynn and I are a team and although we swapped roles when we moved here, something else irrevocably changed too.  The balance of our roles may swap many times in our future, but now we both bear the financial and child rearing responsibilities, no matter what role we are presently occupying.  You can't un-know what you've learned; so taking on the stay-at-home role will not leave me, just as the financial responsibility will not leave Lynn.

There's a phrase used a lot here, "Living the dream."  For us, that dream involves finding an equilibrium; where both of us enjoy our work and both of us get to share a good proportion of our time with our family.  It's not the glitzy Hollywood dream that many seem to aspire to, but it's no less attractive to us.  And every time we get to jump in the pool, either after work or after the school run, we get more of a taste for it....
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