Thursday, February 6, 2014


I’ve learned a lot about myself during these years of underemployment. It’s safe to say that I’m a saner, more grateful person. Nothing like having the rug pulled out from underneath you—and surviving—to make you see how much you still have once you get up.

I lost a friend suddenly last week. A person that made my heart jump every time I saw him. A guy that was so interesting, smart, thoughtful and weird I was looking forward to even the briefest of conversations to come.

More importantly, his girlfriend lost her partner, and their children lost their father. I can’t begin to imagine their grief and pain but it’s certainly put my life and worries into perspective. A job, a title, a salary--who cares? Suddenly it all seems paltry.

Because I’m working from home I’ve been able to help this family a lot this week. Stupid stuff like buying underwear for a visiting sister, securing xanax for another. Mostly just listening. Hours of listening. It felt good to be useful, much better than working on the iphone app I’m designing. I feel grateful to have the time to be part of this grieving and, as silly as it sounds, I feel like I’m supposed to be here. I’m good at it.

Several times I stopped and thought about what I would have been able to offer if I’d been working full-time. Probably not much. Perhaps someone else would have bought the underwear or thought of the xanax. But I don’t think anyone would have noticed the family member crying in the corner last night. I rubbed her shoulders for awhile while she talked. After a bit she said “I feel much better. Thank you for noticing how upset I was.”

Hopefully, I’ll go back to meetings and deadlines soon but for the time being I’m doing work that feels just as important.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I'm back

It’s been a long time since I posted. I’ve been in a bit of a funk creatively but my mojo coming back. This is good news.

I haven’t been working much this past year--ok, 18 months--but have stayed home with the kids. And while this has been rewarding in so many ways, it wasn’t my first choice on how to spend my time. Yes, I accomplished some things: I spent wonderful moments with all 3 girls, started a screenplay, helped a retarded neighbor get social services. But I also lost track of my work self and started thinking I should be somebody else. Too much me-time is not good for my mind--I start to “over think.” Example: last Fall I was considering social work school or becoming a teacher. Why? Because I had convinced myself that I’m too old to make it in my field anymore. Somehow I'd convinced myself that a 50-year-old social worker seemed more reasonable than a 50-year-old digital designer.

But I don’t think that any more. How I got to this point is interesting. Between you and me, I’ve been seeing (or talking to, as she’s in Vermont) a life coach and, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s helping. One of the excercises I’ve had to do is write a purge--basically a stream-of-conscious brain dump--about my career and work life. It’s no surprise that my purge was filled with fear and doubt about competing against 26-year-olds for jobs and how all the jobs require social media skills and how I don’t know or care about social media so why would anyone hire me? Layered in there was my distain for “sharing” everything and some false (as well as some true) assumptions about what people do on socail media. And the distain and and false ideas were just an excuse not to try Istagram. Some of you may have noticed my sudden presence on Facebook and Istagram this week so you know where this is going. I beginning to tackle my distain and fear of social media. Yes, certain women post waaaaaaaay too many pictures of their kids and food but I found out that my old assistant got married ans was able to hook another one up with an immigrantion lawyer.

Another thing I’ve uncovered with the help of my life coach (ok go ahead and cringe) is that age is an easy thing to hide behind as well. It’s a comfy little pity party with lots of folks to commiserate with. As long as I believe I’m too old to learn the new technology no one is going to hire me. Sure being 50 is going to hurt me in some cases--I’ve been on enough interviews where the folks interviewing me are 20 years younger to know some situations are hopeless. But my age--and experience--is going to be an asset in some places. And that’s where I’m headed (after some continuing ed classes). I don’t want to be a social worker.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Jobs on Parenting

I’ve been a bit obsessed with Steve Jobs lately but in a weird way. I can’t stop thinking about what kind of Dad he was. In one of the many articles I read about Jobs last week he said he had agreed to contribute to his forthcoming biography because he had been away from his family so much he wanted to them to understand why and know more about him as a person. I found this touching. And sad. He sounds like a lot of the working moms I know. Except that we haven’t been changing the world while we’re at work.

Jobs’s quote has got me thinking about what kind of image I’ll leave behind. What do my kids think about me? They have told me—more than once—that I don’t laugh or smile very much. I realize this is true, but only at home. I laugh all the times with my friends and colleagues. I think I’m thought of as kind of funny outside the house. Why am I such a drill sergeant, focused on getting homework done and vegetable eaten, when I’m with my family? (This question, while interesting, is too big to be addressed here and will be thought about and written about in a future blog.)

My husband has a game he plays with the kids at night. It’s basically a wrestling tickle-fest on our bed; the kids call it “silly something.” If I had a game with the kids it would be called “serious something” and probably involve checklists and bribes.

If I died tomorrow would my kids remember me as a humorless, negotiator of TV minutes and clean(er) rooms? Probably to some degree. What do they actually know about me? They know I was dumped by my two best friends the summer between 4th and 5th grade but that it turned out OK because I met a nice new girl who moved in down the street. They know that I can and will keep a secret (even from their dad if they ask me to). They know I believe in God but probably not all the stories in the Bible. They know I’m a good swimmer. They know I love them all equally but in different ways “kind of like how you like pizza and ice cream at the same time.” They know that most of what I do when I’m away from them,whether it’s work or a run, is important to me.

The good news is I’m not going to die tomorrow so I have time to work on “project smiling and laughing more at home.” I want my kids to know the lighter side of me; this is important to me. I’m glad I have the chance to “tweak” myself. Yet another way—albeit a tiny, tiny way—Steve Jobs changed the world.

Friday, August 26, 2011

young whippersnappers (for lack of a better phrase)

Today I got my but kicked by some 26-year-olds. There is no other way to describe it. Sitting in a meeting, these “girls” talked circles around me, dazzled the group with their smart design and walked away in hot pants and red stillettos. (Honestly one wearing this and she looked incredible.)

For the past year an a half, since I was laid off from my Creative Director job, I've been struggling to find my place in the digital world and get out of print design. It’s not easy, in fact it’s f---ing hard, way harder than I'd ever imagined. I thought it was all about technology. Well, yeah, it is. But it’s also about thinking in layers upon layers, movement, video, SEO, tktk. I'm smart, I thought I could pick it up. Maybe. But my brain is not wired like a 26-year-old’s. Baby I was born this way. Unfortunately, that was when phones had cords and copy machines smelled like blueprints.

Yes, I have “experience” that these young workers don”t. But how much is it really worth in the new digital world? I’ve found out over the past couple months that what I know isn’t that applicable to web design. This is pretty much a fact.

It”s humbling being flattened by someone so young (and gorgeous). I can’t belittle their talent—these girls are phenomenally talented and fast—in fact it’s hard not to be in awe. At times like this I have to remind myself that I was this girl at one time. The wunderkind 25-year-old winning Gold awards for design and writing a feature story for the Washington Post. I'm sure the older women in my department felt intimidated by me. In fact, I can remember sensing it at the time.

What comes around goes around. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes tonight (well those stilettos were pretty hot—but on her). I have a date with a 5-year-old and we're watching the “Aristocats.” Beat that, whippersnapper.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

princesses drink wine

I haven’t had time to post lately but this was too good to just leave on the fridge. Frances brought the above drawing home from preschool yesterday. It’s title: “Two princesses riding skateboards and drinking wine” I kind of get the princesses and the skateboard but where on earth did she get the wine idea? (ha ha)

Friday, April 8, 2011

the terrible 10s

Oy. I had a huge fight with my daughter this morning. Scary and sad. She’s only ten and I never expected to have these kinds of rows at this early age. Maybe at 13 or 16, but 10?

What set her off was my asking her to take fruit for her mid-morning snack. Yep. That’s all. She went off about how many rules I have, and how I never let her do what she wants (meaning watch TV during the week, get a cell phone, walk home from school by herself, take chips for snack). This is true. I’m probably a pretty strict parents as Manhattan parents go. But then again, the teachers ask that the kids don’t take chips for snack.

I was on the verge of tears most of the day. I don’t recognize my little girl lately: she’s grown 3 inches recently and her boobs are, well, boobs. And she says things like “I hate this family. I wish I wasn’t a part of it!”

So I’m not so clueless to think that our fight was about fruit. I know it wasn’t. It was so inane that it reminded me of the tantrums she used to have when she was 2 and I wouldn’t let her get out of a stroller on a crowded street. Or have ice cream before dinner. Or buy her a toy in Rite Aid. We’re having the same battles now. the terrible 2s have become the terrible 10s.

The way I saw it, the 2s were all about wanting to do things that she was not ready for or wasn’t allowed to. She wanted to roll down a car window but wasn’t strong enough. She wanted to stay up late. She wanted to let go of my hand crossing the street. “I DO!” “I DO!”

In many ways the 10s are the same. What she wants and what’s good for her are not always the same. She thinks she’s grown up but she’s still my baby. Is she ready to walk home from school on her own? Will she do her homework if we let her watch GLEE on Tuesdays? Does she need a phone? Can she make healthy food choices at least some of the time? Yes and no. She’s probably capable of walking home from school safely. but who is she hanging out with before she does? GLEE on Tuesday will morph into American Idol on Wednesday in a heartbeat. A phone opens up a whole world to her that I can’t monitor. Is that OK? Left to her own devices she’ll eat more crap than I like, but her body will soon cry out for something fresh.

I’ll admit that I’m adding to the fire in my own way. I’m not so ready to have her out in the world (although when she gets in one of her hateful moods I’d like to leave her at the school yard). It’s a tough call sometimes: too hard on her? not tough enough?

After a heart to heart this evening here’s where my daughter and I netted out: She can walk home occasionally if we know who she is hanging out with and when she’ll be home (not more than a half hour). No phone. Period. No TV on weekdays. If she eats eats 3 fruits or vegetables a day she can decide when and what. If she wants to eat two mangoes for breakfast I’ll keep my mouth shut.
We’ll see how it goes.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

the silver purse

A Marshall's department store landed in my neighborhood recently. I’m not sure when it opened but about 6 months ago I stumbled upon it and checked it out. I needed a black purse and couldn’t afford full-price so I happily went through the racks. As oftenhappens in those type of stores—Loehmann’s, TJMaxx, Daffy’s—I found the perfect purse but it wasn’t black. Or practical. Or cheap. It was fabulous. Silver. Versace. I fell in love.

OK, those of you who know me are saying Versace? Believe me it was beautiful, not too flashy and looked so good on. It was also $400 and (again) SILVER. I tried to rationalize the purchase and I just could not. It was too big a stretch. I don’t go places I need a silver purse anymore. Sadly, I put it back.

I’ve thought about that purse a lot over the past 6 months. I still want it. Every time I went to Marshall’s I’d look for it—Maybe it’s still there and marked down!—but it was gone. Some lucky chick with more money and a different life is walking around with it. It was kind of a relief to not see it, not have to make the decision not to buy it again. But every time I went back I looked for it just to make sure.

I never saw it again. Until yesterday. It was back. The same one. (It has a couple flaws I had tried—unsuccessfully—to use to negotiate a price reduction that first day.). It was still gorgeous and silver and the price was the same. I felt like crying.

Back when I had a “real” job and a steady paycheck I would have seen the purse and my still- burning desire for it as a sign that it was meant to be mine. Yes, the price was steep but not outrageous. After all, I would wear the purse to work and with jeans on the weekend and feel totally awesome. It would be part of my Spring/Summer look; the signature piece I bought to start the season and tie my wardrobe together. Yeah! I would feel that thrill of buying something wacky but cool. I would look forward to work the next day.

But I’m not that girl anymore. I have no where to take that purse. I would feel stupid wearing it to the playground to pick up the kids. I’d be pairing it with running shoes and 2 grocery bags not the “right” jeans and flats. I’d feel guilty for spending that kind of money when I have a ton of leftover purses that haven’t seen the light of day since I started working from home.

Will I ever be that girl anymore? The one with sparkly dress and an office? The one who wears lipstick and feels just a tiny bit smug cutting out of “family morning” at school to get to work on time. Sometimes I hope so.