Holiday Hiatus/Happy New Year

Another Chance for a New Beginning

Happy New Year 2021 and good riddance to 2020. That honestly has to be the suckiest year since… well, ok, a lot of bad things have happened in the world before but this one was big and bold and just stopped everything! We have lived through something exceptional and highly disruptive.

I’m on hiatus from the HBO Max series. It’s common for productions to stop for two weeks during the holidays rather than work two short weeks because of Christmas and New Year. The break is welcome. The lack of income is not.

This is the most complex comedy series I’ve worked on. Comedies are usually fun and relatively relaxed. This one is smart and interesting but not easy, possibly because it’s streaming and not broadcast. At least everybody is nice. It’s been a good opportunity to make a slow comeback from burnout. The recovery is going more slowly than I would like, but if it was too easy it wouldn’t be a comeback.

The work-from-home aspect is challenging. I don’t miss the traffic, which was an hour each way on my last show. But I’ve always disliked working from home. There are too many distractions, not enough structure and motivation. I lose track of time. Everything becomes a blur. I am getting by on this one, but would rather be in an office where everything is work oriented and there are other people to make sure the world keeps turning.

Also odd challenges… there is no “informal communication”. This messes up a lot of my social coping skills, since I can’t “coincidentally” run into people in the hallway or the break room. Every communication has to be deliberate, and is potentially awkward. There is no gauging somebody’s mood or when is a good time to bring up a subject. I have no idea how or when to bring up certain subjects and have mostly let them drop.

Zoom meetings are equally awkward. Sure, you can do them in sweatpants as long as you’re wearing something presentable on top, but I have no idea when it’s my turn to talk and get tired of having to look like I’m paying attention. Although I am paying attention. No, really!

Generally, I find myself on edge and nervous about things I shouldn’t be. This is partly burnout and partly being out of practice dealing with people. Sometimes it is silly. Since I’m not going out much that suddenly becomes a big deal when it has to happen. I find myself avoiding things that wouldn’t have been an issue before, or might even have been fun. It becomes too easy to just keep sitting in the room by myself. What’s on NetFlix?

The more immediate issue is I’m having trouble completing tasks. I will do something 3/4ths of the way then completely forget about it. I’ve even set alarms to complete tasks and forgotten about them after canceling the alarm. There are Post-It notes everywhere, which sometimes helps but sometimes doesn’t. This hasn’t happened before and is somewhat disturbing. So far it hasn’t blown up into anything serious. There was one close call where the supervisor called to ask, “How’s it going with X”, which I had completely forgotten about, but managed to get done in time anyway.

So things are probably going adequately, but I don’t feel quite comfortable. I’m aware of being off my game. I’m stumbling over ASD stuff that usually I can mask or work through.

At least we’re done with 2020. We had fires and plague but missed out on raining frogs or an earthquake. There was a little earthquake but just one of those “fun” LA ones.

I feel like I need to do two contradictory things in 2021. Firstly, get my head together and have a more structured idea of what I am doing. Secondly, spend more time outside of structure and just let go. Obviously, both of these things can’t happen at the same time but each needs to happen more. I’m spending too much time bumbling through an in-between state where I am triangulating and “adapting” too much without an overall focus to it. I do much better when I have a big-picture plan. I also do better when I can completely forget about everything and just hyper-focus/obsess over something engaging. Neither of those has been happening lately.

Something positive about 2020 being stressful is it’s made me reevaluate a lot of my habits and circumstances, try to reduce stress and pointless “adaptation”. I realize I “suck up” and “push through” a lot of things out of habit that I would be better off getting out of my life completely. Some of them are probably unnecessary and others are likely counterproductive. I’m spending too much time and effort tolerating things that annoy me to little advantage.

So, 2021 should be a giant push of the reset button; a chance to reinvent everything, forget bad habits, forget to be nervous, get out of ruts, get some energy back. I need to make up some idea of what I’m doing in LA, whether it’s connected to reality or not, and some idea of who I am, whether that’s connected to reality or not. Structure can help, whether it’s connected to reality, right?

Best wishes to everyone for the New Year. Things can only get better from here!

C.

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