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Being a Mac person, I started playing with iMovie about 11 years ago after we got a video camera at our wedding. It helped a lot that 7 months after we got married we moved to Brazil where Joe got paid to travel all over South America and was supposed to document his trips. We had lots of fun making little movies about our trips and on the way, I learned the importance of, for example, getting a shot of your airplane to show leaving/arriving, leaving a little bit at the beginning and end of your shots for transitions and so on. At the time, iMovie had very little in the way of audio controls so that was a limitation but also made the entire project easier. I dabbled with Final Cut Pro a few times.

But about the time I was looking into Final Cut, I was also starting law school and not taking vacations that were really movie-worthy any more. And around this time, I started watching Buffy. I think I watched every episode about 3 times - once for the story, once to enjoy the themes ans structure, and usually by the third time, I was appreciating camera angles and transitions and staging and so on. The whole experience made me realize that I had about zero interest in being an actor but that I would love the work involved in making a movie.

Does anyone remember Project Greenlight with Ben Affleck? I loved that show. But having kids and relationship stress dramatically shifted my interests and priorities in the last few years. Plus actually being a lawyer usually meant that work was challenging enough that work plus the kids took up any energy I had.

On a separate note, I've been watching SPN a lot lately (I had started S1 in January and then got bogged down in S3, I think.) and, because Buffistas have spicy brains, I've also been reading through the 14,000+ posts in the SPN thread since the beginning on S5. Which means that I have been dipping my toes some into the behind the scenes stuff of TV again - watching con videos and listening to the actors and writers discuss their craft.

All of that is introduction to say that I filmed a commercial for my law firm on Friday. (I should add here that I live in a small down and the commercial will air on Univision so it really was not that expensive.) The commercial is, of course, 30 seconds. Nothing, right? We had one camerman/producer, the account/network person, me and my paralegal. The entire thing was so nerve wracking!

To cut myself a little slack, I know a huge part of my particular problem was that it was in Spanish which is hard for me to memorize in. But still, I realized today that regardless of any behind the camera interest I might have, I DO NOT have the personality of an actor. I just am way too self-conscious. I was supposed to be pretending to talk on the phone and during the first take, I realized that I was making stupid faces because I was pretending. So on the second take, I tried to focus on an actual conversation but I still felt excessively animated. I think maybe I got it on the third take. And then I had to actually say a couple of lines and it was so hard to remember what to say and smile and have my arms int he right place, etc. And at the end, J and I said something together and one would screw up and then the other one would and so on. I think we got it after 2-3 takes, but still, the whole thing was stressful.

After we were all done, I insisted on going and having a nicer than normal lunch because I was just worn out. From a 30 second commercial. So if I ever leave the law business and become a documentary film maker, it will be strictly behind the camera!


May. 10th, 2008 08:20 am
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I see haven't posted in a week! It's weird - being home with Frisco I spend a fair amount of time reading stuff online but I rarely seem to have time to actually type. This has been such a great week.

1. Tuesday was our 8th anniversary. These last few months have been a bit rough between Joe and I. Nothing major but the stress of his job and a new baby have sort of been taken out on each other, I think. Anyway, for our anniversary, Joe left his phones in the car (huge!) and we spent the day together. We had Frisco with us, but he's pretty easy going. We started out the day by dropping Ellie off at school and heading to the Caribe Hilton for breakfast. It's my favorite hotel here in San Juan and has really beautiful grounds. So, we had a great breakfast of fruit, pastries, and an omelette. I had fresh OJ, a mimosa, and awesome hot chocolate.

From there, we walked around a bit. We discovered a point over the water where you can see tons of tropical fish. Absolutely gorgeous blue, black, and yellow fish of all sizes just swimming in the surf. We watched them for a while and then went and hung out in a giant hammock under the palm trees. We talked for a while and then I nursed Frisco and we all napped. I think we sat there for maybe an hour. Then it looked like rain so we headed to the big mall here.

While we were there, I did some shopping. Ellie needed a new swimsuit and Frisco needed some pants and I got great deals. Then I went to Old Navy and got a few things for me. (I'm in that awkward post-pregnancy stage where my boobs are huge and my hips are plenty big too, but not big enough to still wear maternity stuff.) We then sat in the mall's nursing room for a bit while Frisco had his lunch. This room was really nice (two rockers and really cute) and pretty unusual here in PR. I wanted to be sure to use the room so the people who created it know it is appreciated. We then got Chinese for lunch and went to see Ironman. After the movie, we picked up Ellie, ran a few errands (I found a cute bike for Ellie's birthday. It does have characters (Dora) but it's not annoyingly pink. I've been looking for a bike for a while so I was really happy to find it.)

The really great thing about the day was that it served to remind me that I do really like who my husband is. He works really hard and sometimes I get frustrated that he doesn't have more time for me. But when he is away from his phone nad his computer, he's still the guy that I've been missing. So, being reminded that he still exists makes it easier to continue to put up with all the work stuff. One more year!

2. Speaking of Joe's job, it was confirmed yesterday that he will be promoted June 1st. Besides being super proud of him, I'm still sort of chuckling internally at how we ever got old enough for him to be a LTC. That's a rank for old people! Still, he has worked hard for it and deserves it. The rank also means a decent sized pay increase which will help me relax a bit on money issues. Things have been a bit tight since I quit working but shouldn't be so tight now.

3. My closest friend here, C, is pregnant. She had an ectopic pregnancy that landed her in the hospital last December. She hasn't confirmed yet that this pregnancy is okay (it's still too early) but I'm very hopeful for her.

4. I have sort of made a new friend. She and her husband are here in PR with the Army. She's a few years younger than me, but not by much. She is expecting a baby boy at the end of June. So, when she quits her job and has the baby, I'll have another friend to hang out with. This is good because while C is an awesome friend, she is really my only friend left here and I sometimes feel like I depend on her too much to meet my friend needs.

5. Frisco and Ellie have both been so cute lately in their own ways. Frisco can now laugh which is awesome. He has crossed that line from newborn to baby. It hit me this week that we are over half way through the nursing only phase of his life. I can't believe that. I think of him as so new but he's already 3.5 months old. I just remember feeling like Ellie and I had such a long time of just nursing. It's just one way of measuring time but the point is that time is going by quickly.

Last night in the tub, Ellie had all her ducks out and showed me the mommy duck, daddy duck (he has a surfboard), Ellie duck (this duck flashes and is from e_juliana), and the Frisco duck. She then puts the Ellie duck up to the Frisco duck and says, "Don't cry baby Frisco duck. Mommy's here," and then brings over the mommy duck. It was very cute.

6. Joe and Ellie are off this morning to buy me a "surprise." Ellie took her little purse and Joe gave her two dollars and she found a dime to put in there.

7. Yesterday, I went to a "lunch" at Ellie's school. Basically, I sat with her and the other kids in her room and some of the other moms. I was so impressed - Ellie can serve herself. They have scoops and deep spoons but I was genuinely surprised to see that she can do so much herself. And, she ate a ton of food. Two servings of rice and chicken and fruit. She skipped the cabbage and beans, but she did take some on her plate. When she was done, she got up, scraped off her plate, stacked her plate, washed her hands, brushed her teeth, got her mat and blanket and laid down for her nap. She really can do so much when Joe and I aren't around. Frisco laid down with her for a few minutes and then we left - with no crying. Very impressive! Anyway, the lunch was really nice and I truly enjoyed visiting with her.

8. Oh - I officially am no longer employed by the US Government! I turned in my credentials and access badges on Thursday. And my generator (so funny - it was in case of hurricanes). The thing I will miss the most is my airport pass since it let me get to any gate at any time and I could escort people too. But, I'm happy to be done with that place.
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 So, I was in the middle of an interview today and I started having trouble concentrating - I couldn't think of questions to ask and I couldn't think of how to ask them in Spanish.  Then, I was accutely hungry, and then I started sweating.  I got up int he middle of the interview and got my fan pointed at me, but by then, I was feeling rather out of it and my arms felt heavy.

I got up to check on something and decided that I had to have food.  Thankfully, I ran into a friend who gave some OJ and a croissant.  I still don't feel great, but good enough to work.  I can't believe this is all from being hungry, although maybe pregnant and hungry could do it.

Anyway, I'm back at my desk, working away for another hour and half before I can go home.
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 Joe dropped me off at work this morning.  The plan for today is for him to drop me off, me to get a ride to Ft. Buchanan with C so we can walk after work and then Joe will pick me up again tonight.  It works fine for today because Joe has to spend the day doing car/insurance related stuff and needs to work late anyway.  Who knows what will happen tomorrow.  There is a government car Joe can use during the day but eh's not supposed to drive it home, although he can park it at Ft. B.  But, that's still 10-20 minutes from our house, depending on traffic, and I'd have to go get him each night, plus drop him off at about 5am, which means waking Ellie very early, and overall is not a good plan.  

We may just bite the bullet and rent a car for two weeks.  Not cheap - and it pisses me off because this accident was NOT MY FAULT - but our lives may just require access to 2 cars.

On the plus side, since Joe dropped me off this morning, I got here early enough to get chai before work.  And as I was walking across the parking lot, there was this huge flock of green parrots in the trees.  I am still enough of a mainland US resident to be happy at the sight of parrots flying around.
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I should be sleeping, but I woke up at about 2:30 when Ellie announced, "Mommy, pee-pee!"  She's wearing a diaper, and promptly fell back asleep, but now I'm stuck awake.  I think I'm awake because I went to bed at 8:30 and on Mondays, at least, I'm not tired enough to sleep all night if I go to bed that early.

Plus, I got a "counseling" at work today.  It was just a memo, pointing out some mistakes I'd made and saying I should be more careful.  Which, although I'm new and this was maybe my third day of this type of work, I did make the mistakes.  So, now I feel sort of bummed out.  I don't think anything bad will happen to me - perhaps I might lose out on some money down the road, but I won't be in the job long enough for that to happen.  Still, I feel like I screwed up and I hate that feeling.
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Our internet has been down at home so I've been using my iPhone to read, but not post.  Here's the summary version of my life:

1.  Ellie fell out of bed last night and hit her head.  I felt so bad and that thud is just sickening.  She seemed okay and I dind't see a lump, but I still feel like a Bad Mommy.  Other than that, Ellie seems to be doing fine - saying all sorts of funny things and generally impressing her parents.

2.  I have my ultrasound tomorrow.  (I think.) Hopefully, the baby will cooperate and we can see the gender.

3.  Work has been...weird.  The people in my office have been mean and vicious, but the new boss (old boss left last week) and our Big!Boss in Miami have been very supportive.  Hopefully, the idea of training is put on hold until after the baby comes.  Oh, and the me-switching-to-my-old-position isn't going to happen because apparently even if I"m not valued here, I am at our headquarters.

4.  I got an email from a contact about possibly working with a pro bono immigrant advocacy thing in some capactiy.  We have to talk on the phone and I won't know more until then.  It's possible that this could lead to something like the non-profit I mentioned here a few months ago, but it's a long shot.

5.  I'm more and more leaning towards not coming back here when the baby is born.  I think I've learned what I can and the money isn't worht the stress.  Plus, child care for two is very expensive and leaves me with about $400 a month after childcare and loan payments.  So, we will see. 
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So, I seem to have become my office's de facto union rep.  As I've mentioned here before, I'm supposed to go to this training in GA in Sept for 7 weeks.  Well, I went back and looked at the job description I was hired under and it says 4-5 weeks in GA.  That got bumped to 6 and then canceled and rescheduled to 7.  Now, there are solid rumors going around, but I haven't been told officially, that the course will be 10 weeks and in at least two, possibly three geographic locations.  I can't do that - I would have never taken the job if that had been the deal and I certainly would not have given up my previous position, even for more pay.  So, I contacted the union, sent them all my paperwork on the training and they are looking into it.  I have no idea if the job description can be treated like a contract.  We will see, I guess.

Then, last week, all of us worked 1-2 hours of overtime for a big ceremony we were having.  We were told in advance that we would get OT for it.  Now that our time sheets are due, my section is being told that any extra time worked was voluntary.  Such bullshit because even though we did a lot of sitting around, we weren't free to leave.  And, other supervisors have approved the OT for their people.  It should come to a head tomorrow when we all submit our sheets.  I contacted the union and they said to go ahead and submit our time sheets, make them deny them, and then they will take action.  One person was already denied so I'm totally looking forward to this.  It's probably like an extra $20, but the principle bugs me.  We aren't mice or sheep.

The nicest part of all this was that I wrote up a little statement about why I thought OT was authorized and showed it to my coworkers.  They were all, "wow, you wrote that just now?  It's so good; to the point; clear; persuasive; and so on."  It made me feel really good even though I think I should be able to do that sort of thing pretty easily having spent $70K on a law school education and all.

It's funny - I've never been in a job that required a union, but I'm tired of feeling run over and pushed around.  Just be upfront and honest with me - it's all I ask.

Sick Baby

Jun. 18th, 2007 04:07 pm
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Ellie woke up last night around 1am with a low fever (100).  Since she still had it when we woke up, I stayed home with her.  I feel like a bit of a shammer because she seems basically herself, although a bit more whiny, but obviously, it's not good for her or the other kids for her to go with a fever. 

Today, however, has just served to remind me how I don't like my job.  Someone asked me if I ever think about that baby that I would have had from my last pregnancy.   i don't much - I'm too emotionally prepared (read scarred) to have gotten very attached so quickly, but I did get excited about the idea that I would only have to work until Christmas time.  Since my friend left at the end of April, work is just not fun.  And my new position is  very stressful.

But the thing is...I'm not a quitter.  It just feels too much like a spoiled brat to just up and leave because I don't really like it.  Ellie would have to leave daycare full time if I quit.  I do like her going at least a few hours everyday.  I think it's as good for her as it is for me to have some adult time. 

I keep hoping that my dissatisfaction is simply my usual "I hate everything new" and will go away on its own in the next few weeks.
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I was all set to do a really easy interview just now.  The couple was expecting a baby in February and so I was looking forward to admiring a cute new human in a baby stroller.  When I opened the door to the waiting room, I saw the couple was alone, but it's not that unusual for people to leave their kids with someone else.

I started the interview and said something like, "This should be easy since you two have a child" and the woman responded, "we had."  (Which is a totally normal way to respond in Spanish.)  She then handed me her daughter's birth certificate and death certificate and pictures of her daughter in the NICU.  She died after two month of some sort of congenital birth defect.

I almost immediately felt the tears well up behind my eyes.  I felt like such an ass because I was making her cry and I really didn't want to add to her sadness.  (As if I could, but you know what I mean.)  Anyway, I told her that I was a mom, and that while I couldn't understand what she was going through, I could imagine and that I was very sorry.  I'm not sure what else I could/should have said.

I guess I feel bad because I don't know this woman and her husband *at all* and I feel sort of like who am I to get all sad on her behalf.  Maybe it's nice to have a bureaucrat be a sympathetic person - I hope so.  Perhaps my reaction was stronger than I expected because of my last miscarriage.


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