Out of work, out of whack

jennleaving.jpeg

(This photo was taken on the last day of operations for the original Ann Arbor News in 2009.)

Last Wednesday morning, I stood in front of my closet and asked Joe, “So what do you wear to get fired?”

The line was kind of funny, in a gallows humor way; but this wasn’t just a joke, and I wasn’t speaking hypothetically.

After receiving a late-in-the-day Tuesday email – containing three clues that blinked like a neon sign, pointing to my imminent layoff – I’d stayed up late, uploading the hundreds of videos and photos (mostly of my daughters) from my work-issued phone, and sending documents and contacts I wanted to keep from my laptop.

It was like living out that “If you were stranded on a desert island” scenario, but with your two most essential gadgets.

We tried to hold to our usual morning routine on Wednesday, getting Lily to the bus stop, and dropping Neve off at preschool; but then I stepped back into our quiet, empty house, left to twiddle my thumbs until nearly noon.

Which led to the next question, “What do you do while waiting to get fired?”

I’d thought a bit about this the night before, while frantically uploading, and I’d decided that this would be the perfect window of time to finish up my year-end wrap-up of local theater highlights and news. I was off the clock, and year-end pieces like this had recently gone the way of the dodo, but I’d wanted to do it, anyway.

It would be my swan song, my parting gift to a theater community that had weathered a pretty tough year; and as it happened, this gift was mutually beneficial, in that I felt grateful for being able to focus on pulling together story under a tight deadline – just like old times – and leaving my nearly 12 years in arts journalism with a story that only I could write. Continue reading

Advertisements

My Year in Culture: a brutally honest list by a parent of 2 kids under 4

Some movies I desperately wanted to see, but didn’t get to:
“The Descendants”
“Hugo”
“Young Adult”
“The Artist”
“War Horse”
“Moneyball”
“Super 8”

Movies I actually got to watch in a movie theater for work assignments (thank goodness this is actually part of my job sometimes):
“Scream 4”
“Win Win”
“Cedar Rapids”
“Ides of March”
“Answer This!”
“Clash of the Wolves” (a 1927 silent Rin Tin Tin film, which was screened as part of a book promotion event with Susan Orlean)

Movies I watched in a movie theater when NOT on the job:
“Rio”
“Mr. Popper’s Penguins”
“The Muppets” (Are you noticing a pattern here?)
“Crazy Stupid Love” (anniversary date night)
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2” (a weekday matinee watched during one of my and Joe’s patented “date days”)

Movies half-watched when rented On Demand, due to a child waking up or one or both of us falling asleep:
“Sex and the City 2”
“Bridesmaids”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1” (we finished watching the following night)
“The Hangover” (watched solo, in pieces, during my maternity leave)

Movies I can nearly quote by heart now:
“Tangled”
“Toy Story 2”
“The Sound of Music” (admittedly, this was true before Lily was around)

The Tony Awards made me anxious to see:
“The Book of Mormon,” of course
“The Normal Heart”
Norbert Leo Butz in ANYTHING (Sutton Foster, too, though I previously got to see her in “The Drowsy Chaperone”)
New York City again, in general

Live shows that led us downtown to the Fox Theatre
An awesome live taping of “A Prairie Home Companion”
Barney’s Birthday Bash

Books half-read – usually because I needed to start reading a different book for work:
“The Imperfectionists,” by Tom Rachman
“Here Comes Trouble,” by Michael Moore
“Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend,” by Susan Orlean
“Lastingness: The Art of Old Age,” by Nicholas Delbanco
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” by Jonathan Safran Foer

Of the books I managed to finish, my favorites were:
“Bossypants,” by Tina Fey
“Poser,” by Clair Dederer
“This is Where I Leave You,” by Jonathan Tropper

Favorite shows during maternity leave:
Lots and lots of “West Wing” episodes on DVD
“Up All Night” – Duh. It’s like watching our life, but with sharper dialogue.
“Modern Family”
“Parks and Recreation”
“30 Rock”
“Daily Show” and “Colbert Report”
Occasional forays into “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” while eating lunch. The actor that plays Ridge on “Bold” is so painfully bad that I started to wonder if it was some kind of ironic performance art thing, a la James Franco on “General Hospital.”

Things I love about watching “Sesame Street” with Lily:
The opening sketch; dance-oriented bits; and songs like will.i.am’s “What I Am,” Hunter Foster’s “Lever Lover,” and one of my comedy faves, Ricky Gervais, singing Elmo a lullaby.

Things about “Sesame Street” that make me want to run into traffic:
Abby’s Flying Fairy School – the theme song alone nearly sets off my gag reflex these days. Twinkle think about that.
Elmo’s World – the segment that never, ever seems to end.

Hosts of my favorite “Muppet Show” episodes from the first 3 seasons, which Lily has been watching on DVD:
Harry Belafonte
Gilda Radnor
Roger Miller
Chloris Leachman

Things that keep stacking up on the DVR, but I never, ever seem to watch:
“The Office” – after Jim and Pam got married, it just felt over.
87 episodes of “House,” from various seasons, all slammed together.

Purchased CD by a band I love, yet I have yet to listen to:
Foo Fighters, “Wasting Light”

CD that, four months after I bought it, I listened to for the first time:
Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now”

Song I’ve heard a million times, and that continues to be played as if on a loop, because Lily likes to dance and sing to it, though it now makes Joe want to pierce his eardrum with an ice pick:
Michael Buble and the Puppini Sisters’ “Jingle Bells”

How the last moments of 2011 were spent:
For the first time this past year, we watched an On Demand movie in its entirety in one sitting – Woody Allen’s wonderful “Midnight in Paris” – while drinking champagne, and then we watched the ball drop, and finished up the night with the last scene from “When Harry Met Sally” (my request). About as nice of an evening as we could hope for, really.