Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A walk down Memory Lane. I mean Second St.

My first job out of college was in magazine publishing. Like pretty much everyone else I knew, I lived in one part of San Francisco and worked in another. SOMA, where I spent the first three years of my career, was a neighborhood in transition back then. It had none of those cute work-live lofts it has now, and none of the hip wine bars and high-end nail salons. South Park, (nee 1855) had homeless people on its benches instead of the mothers and strollers it has today. Moscone Center was just one building back then (it's now four) and the further south you went, the grittier it got.

I worked in one of the nicest buildings around, 501 Second St. There was security in the lobby and both a deli and Gold's Gym on the ground floor. I belonged to the gym for a time, the years of high-impact aerobics, but then quit because I couldn't work out and clean up in the hour I had for my lunch break. And that neighborhood was not safe enough after dark to stick around!

Fast forward twenty years. I have a client meeting in the city. And it's in that same building, on the same floor I worked. Gold's Gym is gone. So is the deli. There's no 20 foot tall Christmas tree in the lobby with turquoise and salmon colored ornaments. (So early 90s!)

The walk down Second Street from Market is a walk down Memory Lane. Eddie Rickenbacher's, where I spent many evenings is still there. The Flytrap now serves Persian food. Patelco, where I got my first car loan, remains. Adolph Gasser, the iconic camera and photographic rental house is still there. The San Francisco Dancewear outlet is gone. Boy do I need it now! So is the three-story Chinese restaurant. Chaiken & Capone's first offices were on Second Street. It's now just Chaiken and Julie moved a few blocks over to New Montgomery last I checked.

Just four of us were in my client's offices that morning. I hoteled in a large open space with a view toward the west, a view I never had from my windowless cube back in my publishing days, the days I had to take my lunch from exactly 1pm to exactly 2pm. The 5th floor patio was still there, the patio where Scott, Cynthia, Guy and I ate many deli lunches and soaked up the occasional San Francisco sun.

I was so naive back then, so green in business. I took it all in, realizing that the editorial side of a magazine would never hire someone who had worked on its advertising side, figuring out how to work with prima donnas and high functioning alcoholics. Playing with one of the first NeXT computers, moving up to traveling around the country on the trade show circuit. Learning how to plan $100K corporate holiday parties from two executive assistants. Met Caryl, who I am still close with today, and Callie, whose husband became Gina after they moved to Seattle.

Ah, the good 'ole days ...


Thursday, December 19, 2013

The glamorous life.

I recently read an article in the New York Times which described Facebook as often providing its members with the sensation of feeling a little left out when their friends post from that party they weren't invited to or from someone's last trip to an exotic locale. In this same article Instagram was described as a vehicle for unadulterated voyeurism because it is almost entirely a photo site with a built-in ability, via the retro-style filters, to idealize every moment, thus encouraging users to create art-directed magazine layouts of their lives.

Just in case you were wondering, my life isn't like that.

Here's an example. One of the things I do for my current client is host and moderate webinars. Last week's webinar featured a speaker nine hours ahead of me. This presentation, which had more than 200 attendees, was scheduled to start at 7am Pacific Time. I decided to forgo the 4:30am wakeup call, get two additional hours of sleep, do my duties from the house in my snowman print pajamas, and then doll up and drive the 50 miles to work. The only problem was that the internet was down in our whole neighborhood at 6:30am, which I only learned by running around the neighborhood in those aforementioned PJs pounding on the doors of all neighbors with lights on begging for a live internet connection. Glamorous, huh?

Today was the Thing 1's Ballet Tea Demo. It's a short performance at the end of her ballet class. I popped this picture of the little ballerinas doing a frog stretch. Why do they do frog stretches in ballet, anyway? Thing 1 dislikes ballet but takes the class because it's required for dance team. After seeing the demo today I honestly believe that teaching ballet is the most boring job on the planet.

The last time I went to one of these demos was when Eldest Daughter took ballet at this studio. We skipped this event during her last competitive season because she was upset that it was all Christmas music. I was good with that since it was only a performance for the families, not a competition. Oh no. I got a less-than-friendly call from the studio owner reminding me that we were not the only Jewish family who took ballet. Again, so glamorous.

Thing 2 did something quite glamorous last weekend if you're the Sporty Spice type. She took a LAX clinic with the Cal Women's LAX team at Memorial Stadium. Go Bears.

It's a good thing I still blog. After all, you're not subject to learning which party you weren't invited to or which World Heritage Site I checked off my list this week ...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Lights

I had a quick business trip down south this week and was able to get dinner in Newport Beach with Nini and Sydney, my aunt and uncle. We had a blast when we visited them in August and I was happy to see them again so soon.

On our way home from dinner we did a drive through Balboa Island and saw some of the decorated homes. So much fun!

And of course it was nice to have my aunt and uncle all to myself, just like I often did 20 years ago when we all lived in San Francisco.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

An open letter to our friends at Safeway.

Dear Safeway Corporate Buyers,

We're loyal. We're your target audience. You provide a clean, convenient, generally easy-to-find-parking-at store in our suburb and we spend thousands of dollars there each year.

However, while I was shopping for Thanksgiving I noticed the large display of Passover items. Apparently you didn't pay attention to the 2011 Whole Foods Incident in Washington DC. These items were in a stand-alone display, far from the regular Kosher or ethnic foods where we MOTs (Members of the Tribe) find everyday Jewish mainstay foods such as packaged matzoh ball soup mix and Manischiwetz. Clearly this setup was an intentional act, one that took space away from other manufacturers. We've seen this in the early fall, too, around the time of our Jewish New Year.

The thing is, we only need those unleavened cake mixes, macaroons, jelly candy and gefilte fish during Passover. Passover is in the spring. So when you start thinking about that big pastel-colored bunny, you're there.

Here's the way our conversations go down at Rosh Hashana and Chaunkah dinners:

"Oy vey, Phyllis. Did you see the three-story matzoh display at Safeway this week?"
"Yes, Sadie, I did. Messhuganah, those people! When are they going to figure out that every Jewish holiday meal does not end with chocolate-covered matzoh?"

So, friends at Safeway, we really and truly appreciate you thinking of us. And we know it's hard to keep all of those Jewish holidays straight. Heck, if you need help correlating your sales reports with your buying plan, I can recommend a great software vendor or two …

Loyally yours in latkes,

Jewish Suburban Wife of One, Mother of Three

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sam

Sam was my buddy last Wednesday. He's still my buddy but he's back in the corral now, with Prince and a whole bunch of mares. Thing 2 has woven a complex tale about the drama in the corral and which mare is Sam's girlfriend, likely fueled by my father's input, either imaginary or not.

Sam took me on a beautiful ride up into the Walnut Creek Open Space (yes, all proper nouns!), rewarding me with a view of the spires in the Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area and of the surrounding cities.

While so many others were cooking and baking (our gemelli included, with my mom), my father and I let the horses do the work and enjoyed the ride.