Thursday, December 10, 2009

Signs of Brilliance in the New Economy

This morning, I was reading an article in the New York Times about the new reality tv show on MTV entitled "Jersey Shore." Being a Jersey girl, I'm not at all insulted by the show. Without seeing it, I'm pretty sure that all the guidos and guidettes, even those who do not reside in New Jersey, accurately portray that small faction of New Jersey's population. I went to high school with people who looked exactly like them.

But the best part of the article was a quote by Robert Galinsky, owner of The New York Reality TV School. Did you know that there's a Reality TV School, and it's right here in the Big Apple? I was hit with the genius of the idea instantly. Traditional, corporate jobs may be drying up but Robert Galinsky saw an opportunity. New York and New Jersey are full of people with huge personalities, ripe for reality shows. What better way to earn money than by attracting those personalities and charging them a fee to teach them how to package and sell their own personalities on television?

Galinsky is an actor, lecturer and host of the famous Manhattan Monologue Slam. According to the Reality TV School's website, he has a knack for spotting talent.
Reality TV School''s perfection lies in its draw. The kind of people who want to be on reality tv are exactly the audience for this type of school. The school's website says its mission is to train and develop actors and nonactors through the spectrum of experiences a reality TV contestant will face.... about finding and highlighting what makes you unique, building your confidence and examining how you package yourself so you can best get cast on the show of your choosing.

This is the business of the future. Helping develop non-actors into packaged personalities with the savvy and confidence to succeed on reality tv has got to be a zillion dollar business. I love it. I wish I'd have thought of it. I wonder if Robert Galinsky is interested in franchising.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Creative Parenting

"How are you creative?" This question, posed by Chad Brannon on twitter, got me thinking about creativity. I instantly rejected the obvious: painting (I'm too messy), drawing (do you like this stick figure? 0
musical instruments (not since high school). Then it occurred to me that parenting my four children, each with very specific and unique desires, is where my creativity lies.

When they were toddlers, it was simple to make up a song on the spot that taught how to wash hands. Even a purple dinosaur could do it. As the kids have gotten bigger, so have the challenges.

I remember teaching my daughter how to multiply by 10. It was harder than I'd thought. She was very bright and had learned addition and subtraction instantly. But looking at the problems on the page, she couldn't understand multiplying the tens by the ones and adding a zero to the end. I continued explaining, she continued being confused. Before we both became frustrated, I changed paths. We both stood up. We enlisted the help of her younger brothers. Julia stood with one arm straight in the air; she was the number 1. Tommy, with his arms overhead in an "O" became zero. I yelled out, "1 times 10 is, jump to the left," Julia leapt to the left, Tommy stood to her right. "10" they replied. We continued. "10 times 10 is, jump to the left," adding Anthony to the right as another zero. "100." With one lesson, all three learned the simplicity of multiplying by 10. I chalk that lesson up as a win.

They aren't always wins. But it's the losses that push me to explore my creative limits further.

On vacation, we decided to order dinner in one night. The six of us, two vegans, two fish eaters, two vegetarians bickered about the cuisine. "Let's get Greek."
"There's nothing I can eat from the Greek restaurant."
"I want Italian."
"Everything Italian has cheese in it. I don't eat cheese."
Exhausted and hungry, I started snapping at everyone. I tried to force everyone to agree. That failed. We took a vote; it was split evenly. Finally, I decided to just get everyone exactly what he or she wanted. My husband and I ordered one dish from every ethnic restaurant, then drove around the island picking it up. When we returned, everyone was surprisingly thrilled to share and enjoy what became our new tradition: "International Night."

Raising children who can wash their own hands, multiply, and eat with chopsticks is how I am creative. How do you express your creativity?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Coffee Coffee Everywhere but not a Drop to Drink

The house smells of coffee: nutty, rich, aromatic. I breathe deeply, taking in the almost-taste of the dark roast. But I don't pour myself a cup. I kicked the coffee habit for health reasons. Cold turkey. Not even a drop has crossed my lips since last February, the coldest, most brutal month.

Now I sip Earl Grey, a slightly citrusy, light brown tea that is supposed to be healthier for me. It tastes fine. Not great, fine. It works to ward off the caffeine headache I still get if I skip it completely, and it is a warm beverage to drink on a cold, damp day like today. But it is not coffee. It pales in comparison.

Coffee isn't just a hot beverage, it is a key prop at a social event. Friends meet for coffee. New romances bud over a steaming latte. Plans are made, battle lines are drawn, relationships are built and destroyed over cups of coffee. In business, it is at the coffee break when deals are decided.

Stepping into Starbucks, I experience a whole economy whirring around me. At one table, two women sip pumpkin lattes as they select bar mitzvah invitations from enormous books. Near the back, a graphic artist has his drafting board spread over a table-for-four as he selects from his hundreds of colored pencils, designing an ad for cheesecakes. His cup sits on the chair next to him. A restaurant manager interviews a potential hire; a psychic reads a customer's palm; graduate students write theses. Coffee fuels this world.

Tea nourishes differently. It is daintier and more polite than coffee. Coffee goes with doughnuts, tea matches scones. Tea is the Official Drink of the Queen, for God's sake. But it is just not me.

I suppose I can always think of myself as a reformed coffee drinker, much like a former boozer calls himself an alcoholic. I hate to separate myself from the fun and excitement that surrounds the act of drinking coffee. Maybe I'll get myself a 10-months sober button to wear into Starbucks next time I sheepishly order my tea.