Thursday, March 31, 2005

Set up, tear down, set up

It doesn't matter how many shoots I go on, it is always accompanied by the same amount of chaos and panic. Alarm sends the first shot of adrenaline at 6 am, then it's racing through rush hour traffic to a place I've never been before. I'll take a side road. Construction! I'm the one with the cameras. I arrive at the huge corporate complex wide-eyed, trying to find the crew - a needle in a haystack. There they are. Now, where's our contact person?

Scope the shoot site, then unload a van full of lights, cables, moniters, sandbags, tripods, audio gear, reflectors, cameras and refreshments. A three-camera shoot. Miles of cables. Sweating in the cold air. Director pacing nervously, looking at his watch, arguing with the director of photography. I'm adjusting the color temperature on the cameras, trying to get them to all match. The actors are sitting around, saying their lines out loud, adding to the chaos. Thirty minutes over. The director yells, "Five minutes." Sound man messes up my camera. Cameras won't sync up timecode. We'll use a clapper. Lay down 30 seconds of bars and tone. Talent in place; change the lighting one last time.

Hit record.

Record 30 seconds of dialogue. Take one, five, eight.

Tear down all the gear; moving to another location down the hall. Same thing all over again. Five more times today.


Monday, March 28, 2005

B.C. (Before Child)

This is the last week of my life that I will be known as Tom: husband, son, brother. This time next week, I will be Tom: husband, son, brother - Father. It hit me yesterday morning when I woke to see the newly assembled crib sitting in the corner, the sheets folded, waiting for my daughter's arrival.

Today is just another monday; what will next monday look like as - Father? What will I see that I don't see today?

I am ready to be: Father. I can't wait to be: Dad.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Easter without guilt

Annie and I have been talking off and on about how we want to celebrate Easter this year. We don't go to church, so that's not really an option. Easter, it seems to me, is about two things: celebration and rememberance. The celebration is taken care of; lots of food and games and movies and laughter with parents and siblings.

Rememberance is a little harder for me. At least being purposeful about it. It's just so much pressure: Sunday I have to contemplate what the resurrection means to me. I'm supposed to be serious and really feel the enormity of what Christ did for me on the cross. When I did go to church, which wasn't often, I never felt like I was doing Easter "right." I wasn't appreciative enough, or thankful enough, or contrite enough. Everyone around me always seemed just a little more thankful for what our Lord did for us over 2000 years ago.

I'm thankful. At lunch, on this first true week of spring, I was driving down the freeway (ignoring that rattle in the engine) with the sunroof open, listening to the Indigo Girls sing about being "free in you." I starting thinking about God and His Son and what this weekend means, and I was very thankful. Does that count? Or does it only count between 11:00 and 12:30 on Sunday morning?

(no comments on my listening to the Indigo Girls, please)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


It's between winter and spring; between pregnancy and birth. Between career and calling. Between apartment and house; between paychecks; between trips to the auto repair shop. Everything, it seems at the moment, is just...between.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Almost ready

Our apartment is almost ready for the pending addition to the family. It's felt so good getting rid of all the junk we've accumulated over the years. Funny how little we actually use. Now, to put the crib together. Have you seen these things? How can there be so many parts for such a small bed?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

My wife

I spent the day with my wife. We cleaned out the closets, taking years of junk to the thrift store. We went to Ikea to buy a crib for Silvi, standing in the long lines Ikea is famous for. We went through our storage, and packed more boxes for Goodwill. And we had so much fun.

I love hanging out with my wife. Even doing the menial and difficult tasks isn't that bad when we're doing it together. Driving home on this cold winter night, the new snow making all things new, I fell in love with her all over again. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Deadlines and editing

Deadlines and editing. Editing and deadlines. These are a few of my favorite things.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I want to learn to be more predisposed to be interrupted, like Jesus was. (Is "learning to be predisposed" a contradiction in terms?) Jesus, sent by God on this enormous mission of restoring creation, was constantly stopping to talk to whoever had a question for him. Or to share a meal, to ease someone's suffering.

My life is full of interruptions and the truth is, sometimes it drives me crazy. I've got a task to do, people. How do I learn that these interruptions are, in fact, an integral part of the journey?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Two weeks until Silvi arrives and I can't shake the butterflies. Excitement and terror in the same breath.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I spent the last eight hours with clients, shooting a video in our studio. We talked, joked, laughed, argued and shared a meal together.

Martin Buber wrote in depth about the loneliness of modern man before men whom he associates with but does not meet. What is an appropriate level of "meeting?" The producer-client relationship is most often a false relationship: I, as the video producer, must guard my comments, must watch how I give direction to insure the client will not only continue to work with us today, but on future projects as well. And they realize the power they possess. We ensure that the client is never thirsty, that his jokes are laughed at, that his comments are listened to no matter how outrageous they may be. It is two false selves circling each other in an awkward dance.

Is it possible to have true "meeting" between two false selves? If it is not, is it appropriate to accept the world as it is and treasure the small moments of genuine meeting?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

My daughter's name

I hope my daughter will like the name I picked for her. When she's ten, will she be embarrassed to have her teacher call her name in front of the class? Will she choose to be know by her middle name like I did for a few weeks when I was twelve? Will her name influence the kind of person she becomes, the job she takes, the family she one day creates? What is the power of a name?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I'm spending the day at a convention, looking at all the latest and greatest digital HD video equipment. "The future of electronic media" the brochure promises. So many tools to make the world look truely spectacular. So few using these tools to be holes in the fence through which others may see the orchard. Oh well, at least I'm out of the office for the day. Maybe they'll have free drinks and cookies.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Deep end of the pool

You ever swim to the bottom of the deep end of the pool and sit there, looking up at the surface? After about thirty seconds, the water pressure begins to squeeze tighter and tighter, and your lungs feel like weights. That's how I feel most of the time right now. It's kind of a bad time, to put it blandly. "Bland" is the taste of the month.

Many of you know that my dad was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. None of the medicine he's taking is working, so he can't stop shaking. The pain of his broken ankle causes the shaking to be more pronounced. Doctors are talking brain surgery, but dad isn't quite ready for that yet. The uncertainty of what the disease will do is always with me.

There's something else that's constantly with me. I've always been horrible with money. They put those magazines and candy bars at the checkout counter for impulse buyers like me. A few years ago, Annie and I had a few bad months out of work. Seven months, to be more precise. There's almost no way to catch up from something like that. It just doesn't go away.

This is supposed to be a good time. My daughter will be born in less than a month. I want to be happy. Truth is, I'm scared most of the time. Afraid for my dad, scared the money people won't let up, afraid I won't be able to show my daughter a life full of laughter. Man, there has got to be a way to get to the surface for a breath once in a while.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Spent the morning designing and authoring a 30-minute martial arts dvd. Nothing special; the client could only afford a few hours of work. So many of these projects are created on shoe-string budgets. It's been good for me. I can be a perfectionist when it comes to video. Having to let the project go without endlessly tweaking it has helped me see what is important and what is "fluff." Maybe I should apply that principle to some other areas of my life.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Type A

Why do all company presidents and CEOs have Type A personalities? I had a shoot with the president of a large, multi-million dollar company this morning, and he was cut from the same cloth as all the other leaders I interview. Where are the servant leaders?

My wife hates my birthdays

I torture my poor wife on my birthdays. Not on purpose, mind you. It's just that I'm one of those people who often feels like life is speeding by, like a Chicago 'L' train packed with passengers that won't stop for me. Everyone is already on the train, heading somewhere, and I'm standing on the platform with my suitcases. Birthdays are mile markers, and they mock me. "Haven't finished that book yet, have you?" "When are you going to start that documentary?"

And so my gift to my wonderful wife this year is that I'm going to try to be just a little less worried about catching that train and be a little more content sitting with her at the trainstop.