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 developed my first banking relationship and 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.

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 Lyons who I am still close with today, and Callie Smith, 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 Liberty'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? Liberty 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 Paris 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.

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

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. In exchange, we provide you with thousands of dollars annually.

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rock City

We live just off the road that leads into Mt. Diablo State Park. One of my parenting fails is spending time with The Pinks in the park. It's practically in our back yard and people come from all over the Bay Area to visit it. We mostly ignore it except when there's a bike race or fire.

A few weeks ago the youngest Pinks had minimum days and a friend and I piled the kids into the car and drove up the hill to Rock City. She, of course, had been several times and knew the drill.

We ate a picnic lunch then hit the rocks. The kids scrambled around like goats. My friend and I were a little slower. The next day I was very sore. Although I've been running, the contortions my body did to climb those rocks did a number on me.

I had hoped to see the burn area from the Morgan fire but we weren't close enough. I guess that's a good thing.

This expedition made me wish we'd been up there with the kids before.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Go Team Oracle!

One of our neighbors, Tracy Allen, throws the to-die-for Halloween party each year. This year Dave and I were part of a group costume. As one who generally finds more comfort in solo activities, I really enjoyed this! We had a brilliant idea -- Team Oracle. And it was easy to outfit given the recent America's Cup victory.

The cup was part of a tea service. A magnum of champs was another prop. We brought our attitude. We were comfortable in our tennies and danced and danced and danced. It's been a long time since I had so much fun at a huge social gathering.

Although our costumes were the best (no bias there!), Tracy and her beau Matt Yaden were fabulous in their pink loofah and Mr. Bubbles outfits. The Halloween costume du jour appeared to be the Duck Dynasty Family.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I am not related to you.

We had the strangest conversation with Tori a while back. She thought she was only related to Dave, and not to me. Here's her reasoning:
  1. I like to stay up late, like Daddy.
  2. I am good at sports, like Daddy.
  3. I am tenacious, like Daddy.
  4. I am outgoing, like Daddy.
  5. I am good at math, like Daddy.
  6. I'm tall, like Daddy.
  7. I snore, like Daddy.
I love the way this kid's mind works. I love having a mini-Dave daughter.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I am twelve. Again.

Two incidents occurred last week that sent me right back to age 12. Both incidents could have been avoided had the people who instigated them put on their big girl panties and taken a less comfortable approach.

One of The Pinks had an "I am 12 Moment" last week, too, even though she's only 11. We pinky swore to both get over it quickly and focus on more important things. 

Because I work outside the home and outside of the leafy suburban bubble in which I live, I spend my days with a cross-section of people. Men don't ever seem to revert to age 12. Men, in a gross and broad generalization, care far less if people like them. Our culture rewards them for strong, leadership behavior. Women want to be liked. Sheryl Sandberg writes extensively about this in Lean In.

Many years ago Neeracha had a job in M&A. She told me that the first time she exited someone she ran into the bathroom afterwards and threw up. After six months of this she told me that she could literally be sitting at her desk eating a sandwich while telling someone that their job was eliminated. Progress.

Working more than 20 years in tech has given me a fairly thick skin. Still, I'm irritated when smart women don't have the hard conversations. If they aren't working for a paycheck, great, that's their personal choice.  I applaud them for their decision. However, use your brains, use your power for good, people! These are the same women who don't step up to leadership roles in their children's schools, their churches and their community at large because they are afraid of conflict. They leave the hard stuff to others. What a missed opportunity. What a waste of talent.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


We woke up to a light drizzle in Tahoe on Saturday morning. Two sets of twins plus a singleton dressed in ski clothes. Paige and I threw on whatever warm clothes were left and piled the litter into the car and headed to the Treetop Adventure Park at Granlibakken. Rain or shine, we were going ziplining. Although it was cold and wet, it was not as cold and wet as our athlete friends were going to be the next day during the inaugural Lake Tahoe Ironman. That kept us going as the drizzle turned into a full downpour.

In case you need a refresher, an Ironman is a 2.4 miles swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride followed by a marathon. I've always thought it extreme. After seeing one I think the willing participants do have more than a few loose screws.

The Adventure Park is well done and we can't wait to go back on a warm day. It's a series of ropes courses and you are harnessed in. Tori, Monkey Girl, loved every minute of it because she left her fear gene down in the Bay.

A full downpour at elevation 6500 F means snow not too much higher. And we were not disappointed by the beautiful snow that followed. The Ironpeople, not so thrilled. I choose to believe that this is a sign for an early and wet winter. In all, this storm brought four inches of snow to the upper mountain.

We had five friends compete in the Ironman and all five finished. That is an amazing feat given that 20% of the people who started the race did not finish.

Squaw was Ironman Central so we were well-situated for the fanfare. On Sunday, race day, we positioned ourselves at the bike to run transition and then four times along the marathon course, which passed through the Village twice. We also saw all five friends finish. These athletes began at 6:30am and the fastest, a multiple-time Ironwoman, finished in 12 hours, 30 minutes.

Yes, we were still warm in our beds when these crazy people started and finished the swim. In fact, I'd say we'd only progressed to drinking our Starbucks in our PJs (fetched by some subset of the five girls) while most participants got the first 50 miles under their wheels. By the end of the day I was grateful for my peaceful, caffeinated start.

Although I'm know that competing is stressful and that this next part is going to make me eligible for the Super Ninnie Award, we didn't have much downtime once the participants started passing through the valley. It is a lot of work tracking five athletes online and then taking the right poster to the right spots on the course, watching for them, and then screaming until you are hoarse. I had no energy left to drive home Sunday night -- the kids and I were completely spent -- so we left Monday morning.

It is a beautiful thing to become an Ironman, one that our friend Sherman Chu got talked into by a childhood friend and achieved with a dance across the finish line and then tears streaming down his face. I am in awe of him, our other friends and frankly, all the participants. It is an enormous physical and mental challenge. We saw lots of people quit after the bike ride. And lots of people being assisted off the course in various forms of distress. This race, at elevation and with an especially punishing bike ride, had the slowest finish times and highest DNF rates of any Ironman event this year.

The very last picture here is my favorite - us cheering on Sherman at T2. His smile is genuine and the emotions on all of our faces are raw, pure joy at the being in the moment of achievement.

One other thing of note. There are two routes from the Village to our condo. One passes in front of the Olympic House, between it and the Cable Car building. The other passes around the back, the mountain side, the side with the ski lifts and sun deck. After we cheered our last friend across the finish line and gave him the requisite and well-deserved praise, Paige and I headed back to the condo to meet up with the kids. Brilliant moi suggested we take the mountain route. While we were the only ones walking that way and it was unlit, the Village, not 1/4 mile away, easily had 2,500 people mulling around and very loud music playing. As it turned out, Paige and I were not alone after all: I spotted a bear climbing a tree not even 10 yards from us. I then proceeded to forget everything my father taught me about being in the wild and screamed BEAR!! as I high-tailed it toward to condo door. Paige followed suit, trying to outrun me because, in the end, only the slowest person gets eaten.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Bounty Garden

I couldn't do anything about the color of the sky Monday morning, the blue sky that turned grey and red and spread. I couldn't do anything except tell my kids that they should take the media reports with a grain of salt, that sensationalism sells. I couldn't do anything except hope that the firefighters on our mountain were staying safe and that they were saving the lives and homes of the people and animals in the fire's path, which was 3,200 acres by day's end.

What I could do was help others. I dropped the kids at school and headed for The Bounty Garden, our community's organic contribution to the Contra Costa and Solano County Food Banks. I harvested squash and weeded and composted. It felt good. And it was still cool outside, a brief respite from the temperatures over 100F for four consecutive days.

There's just something I love about The Bounty Garden. It's not the bugs and worms. It's a visual place, 24 raised beds all in some cycle of growing. It smells like dirt, clean, healthy dirt. It's cute. The log books for each bed are neatly displayed in a rack by the shed door. The sign is iron. The compost bins are well designed, with removable horizontal slats. The tools and gloves are colorful and all put in their correct locations.

Heidi and Amelia Abramson are the mother daughter duo who came up with the idea then founded The Bounty Garden while Amelia was in high school. In the summer of 2012 three members of Danville Boy Scout Troop 223 built and installed raised, irrigated vegetable beds to earn their Eagle Scout designations.

More than 1,700 firefighters put out the Morgan fire on Mt. Diablo. There were no fatalities. Dave and I are in awe of the number of people who reached out to us offering assistance in the form of trucks, strong backs, beds and food.

I wish for you to never be in the position to mentally sketch what your home will look like when you rebuild.

Neighbors who move out of our 31-home community always say that our neighborhood is special. People inside it say the same thing. I don't know any differently. All of you seem to have close friends as your neighbors. The kids and adults play well together. I think that is what I'd miss most if our home were destroyed.

Monday, September 9, 2013


That's the paint color on Liberty's bedroom walls now. It's pretty. Much prettier than I thought it would be when I tried to talk her into one shade less saturated.

Normal people hire painters. In my family we paint our own walls. Mostly. I inherited my love of painting from my mother.

While I'd like to tell you that Liberty and I painted her room together, in reality my Mom did 90% of it with her.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The All Sport Store

Nordstrom for Sporty Spice. A three-level sporting-goods store with masterfully displayed firearms, boxing gear, bowling shoes, stand-up paddle boards and camo lingerie.

Dave, The Pinks and I made it a destination while we were up at Tahoe this summer. There's one in Reno that opened in 2008 and where we could have spent the whole day, including three square meals. The store is 295,000 square feet. You enter by walking under a 16,000 gallon aquarium. In the center of the store is a 65' tall Ferris wheel. We rode it of course.

Scheels started in Minnesota in 1902 and now has 24 stores in ten states although none are in California. The Reno store is worth a trip. Dead serious. If you get bored you can always go to the Legends of Sparks Marina outlet mall next door. Does anyone know why the mall is called Marina when it's not near any significant source of water?!

While walking through every department we took our best shot at the indoor shooting range, bowled a few frames and ate fudge. The backpack display was so overwhelming that the kids had purchase paralysis. I was tempted to buy shotgun shell Christmas tree lights for our next door neighbor.

Scheels doesn't have the smell or cramped feeling of a Big 5. The departments are spacious (land is cheap in the 10 states they operate in??) and the displays well-stocked. The hunting clothes department had your basic utilitarian wear, things people who want to kill animals would wear. And then camo baby clothes. And camo lingerie. And camo bathing suits and camo six-inch-heels suitable for who-knows-what in the wild. In case you aren't into guns you can buy bows and arrows there, either for hunting or archery. Or fishing rods and reels. Want to fish from your canoe? You're covered.

Amidst the gear were displays of the US Presidents and facts about them. Odd.

A bush plane replica hangs from the ceiling. Tired? Take a nap in a hammock or cot in the camping department. There's even a Disney Princess tent if someone needs a rest or diversion. Attending the University of Nevada at Reno? Or just a fan? Get your Wolfpack wear here. Buy new running shoes and shorts to wear with that Wolfpack wear. Or get some Rollerblades. Or a new bike or nine.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

From Bakersfield to Boston

 In August I spent two days in Boston with my new client. My last client operated only in California and so I am done with travel to places like Bakersfield and Sacramento, at least for a while. I really enjoyed this trip east, as quick as it was and even though it lacked any extra time to see the locals. I’m sure Kathy Lunetta would have gone on an early morning run with me but who am I kidding – it was brutal enough doing those meetings on five hours of sleep. My client has funky, hip offices, more Google-style than Big Blue. In one of the kitchens there are large canisters of M&Ms, gummy bears and chocolate covered pretzels. I needed those M&Ms to supplement the 7:30am breakfast (which was 4:30am in my head)!

We were in Cambridge, an area I do not know well. The client offices were on the MIT campus and during the 20 minutes I had to myself I took a close look at the Frank Gehry-designed Ray and Maria Stata Center. The Stata Center houses MIT’s Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Labs. I’m a fan of Gehry in general and this building is especially interesting. It looks as if it's about to collapse. Columns tilt at scary angles. Walls teeter, swerve and collide in random curves and angles. Materials change wherever you look: brick, mirror-surface steel, brushed aluminum, brightly colored paint, corrugated metal. Everything looks improvised, as if thrown up at the last moment. It’s a metaphor for the freedom, daring and creativity of the research that's supposed to occur inside it.

It was a mild summer day with temps in the 70s so it seemed that everyone in Boston with an urge to exercise outdoors was doing it along the river.

The MIT campus is beautiful, a mix of old and new architecture and grassy open spaces. I kept hoping that the older, more historic buildings would be labeled so I’d know more about them without having to resort to Google later. This wasn’t the case.

Every time I come to Boston I remember how much I like it and hope one of our kids will go to school there. And then I remember that it’s 2,500 miles from where we live and that I’d miss them. It’s a good thing that I don’t get to make these decisions for them.

We had two amazing working dinners – the first at The Red Lantern, where the wait staff seemed to push the drinks more than the seafood-heavy Asian food – and the other at Al Dente, traditional, heavy Italian dishes in the North End.

On the way home I caught an earlier flight and the gate agent even waived the change fee as they were in a rush to close the doors and depart.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Penny Boards

We're in Newport Beach this week for one last hurrah before school starts. We're staying with Nini and Sydney.

Yesterday we walked around Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula. Nini and Syd are often visited by their grandchildren so their home is equipped with Razor scooters, boogie boards, beach chairs and umbrellas and a gazillion towels. I love how they have posted Summer House Rules. Seriously! No electronics at meals. Wet towels are shaken out and then go straight into the washer.

Newport Beach is beautiful. I'm surprised how uncrowded it is, especially the beaches on the Peninsula. We ate lunch at Ruby's on the pier and watched one very smart pelican eat all the small fish that the locals landed from the pier. A sea lion entertained us. The tiny beach houses are very cute and I want to rent one for a week or two. The dilemma: island for the cuteness or Peninsula for the beach??

The youngest Pinks got Penny Boards, adorable plastic skateboards. You can buy them off the rack or customize them by choosing the board and wheel color. Too fun!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I spent the month of July working with just one client so I've had a lot of time to hang with the kids and Dave. It's been great! Summer is the best time to have a light workload. I thought about tagging along for part of Neeracha's annual trip to Thailand but decided not to after learning that her sister came this year, too. It's one thing to crash your friend's exotic beach vacation, it's another to elbow your way in on a multi-generational family trip, one I'm sure her parents were looking forward to.

One day we went to Cowell Beach with Paige and her tribe. There were more than 30 of us. They had extra wetsuits which enabled Tori to boogie board for four hours straight. It was a good thing she ate pizza before getting in. The day was overcast and it even rained for a bit but that didn't stop the kids from going in and out of the water, trying to catch sea gulls and building sand castles. One of her twins drove down in our car and we sang show tunes.

Paige's family has beach days down to a well-oiled machine. They caravan. One picks up pizzas on the way down. Once the kids are fed and playing, someone else walks to The Picnic Basket and buys gourmet sandwiches for everyone else. Chairs are set up. Umbrellas are erected. Trashy magazines come out of beach bags. The laughter begins.

After the afternoon at the beach we hosed the kids off and went to the Boardwalk to take advantage of $1 Monday night rides and eat trash for dinner. We can't wait to go back!

Liberty spent most of July in dancing. Ballet. Technique. Team rehearsal. One of the moms brilliantly suggested that we take turns entertaining them between classes. On my day, pictured above, I took them to breakfast at Country Waffles. Another mom took them to the pool. Another day was Bagel Street Cafe. All around town you would see girls in buns traveling in packs. One day Liberty and I met a friend and her mom for breakfast at Chow.

Tori wrapped up July in a lacrosse tournament. She even scored two goals while her grandparents were watching. We have a lot to learn about lacrosse but I like what I've seen so far.

I start working with a new client in early August, kicking off the project with a two-day meeting in Boston. Although it's a very quick trip with a packed agenda, I can't wait. I miss business travel.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ten Years

Our family has officially graduated from elementary school. We spent ten years there watching our children grow, learn and occasionally be beaten down. Our kids learned a lot. So did Dave and I.

I will miss
  • The sounds of laughter on the playground
  • Performances like Geology Rocks and Rumpus in the Rainforest
  • Amazing teachers: Marc Trapani, Melanie Carbrey, Brenda Aepli, Lori Ransdell
  • Gold Rush Day and The Old Schoolhouse field trip
  • The Halloween Parade
  • Breakfast Book Club
  • Lunch on the Lawn
  • The elaborate, over-the-top Teacher Appreciation celebrations we could do in the early years
  • Volunteering

I will not miss
  • The parents who disregard the carpool pickup line
  • The revolving door on the principal's office (three in ten years)
  • Recorders and recorder concerts
  • Questionable cafeteria food
  • The cold water in the bathrooms when the taps say there is both hot and cold
I'm not sure how our children can be so old. Probably my parents ask themselves the same thing.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer means peaches.

Paige and I hauled our two sets of twins to Brentwood today to pick peaches. I'd only picked peaches once before and strangely, she picked the same place Dave and I had taken the kids five years earlier.

The peaches were just as good as I remembered and we came home with 5x as many as we did in 2008. Seriously. 50 lbs. We went a little crazy. But they just tempt you, the rosy orbs clinging to leafy branches within easy reach. Fortunately The Pinks are old enough to look through cookbooks for recipes now and bake with me!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The pool. The lake. The river.

Three perfect days at Tahoe.

Day 1 we spent with friends, first at the Truckee 4th of July Parade and then at Northstar. The Truckee Parade is very sweet, it's what Danville's was before it got huge and crazy and commercial. We got there 20 minutes before it started, sat down in the shade and enjoyed the mountain-style patriotism. It lasted an hour and that was just right.

Day 2 was spent with Barry's extended family and friends at Dollar Point. We kayaked on the lake for the first time and Paris, Tori and I just loved it. I can't wait to do it again. There's a certain peacefulness out there on the water.

Day 3 was our biennial raft down the Truckee River, this time with two other families. It was hot but not too hot. It was also crowded, which makes for lots of water-gun fights, within our clan and impromptu with others doing the same thing. It was a good, wholesome day enjoying the best of Tahoe.

On Day 4 we packed up and came home. This is starting to sound biblical. I started missing the mountains the minute we crossed Donner Summit. En route home we stopped at Machado Orchards for pies and produce. Usually we stop at Ikeda, across the highway. Machado is lesser-known, smaller and cleaner, without the attached greasy spoon and bathroom line. The kids ate all of the peaches I bought before we got home and we're going to try the peach pie after dinner tonight.

Dave shot the picture at left with his iPhone on Day 1 from the Village at Squaw. You can see the low clouds and then the amazing sunset. I've never seen anything like this. It just makes you wonder what a DSLR could have done here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

There's a new sheriff in town.

And it's Paris.

The good thing is that she's completed Driver's Ed.The bad thing is that she knows the rules of the road and she can quote them every time I deviate from them. For example, your turn indicator has to be on for a full five seconds before you change lanes or turn. Heck, sometimes I don't decide to change lanes or turn that far in advance! I now know, during city driving, how many blocks ahead I should look for obstacles.

I have decided to make this into a game. Every time she catches me doing something wrong and can show me the place in the California Driver's Handbook that cites it, she earns a quarter. It's a win all around -- I get a refresher course in the rules of the road and she will have that book memorized by August, when she can test for her permit. She earned a whopping $.75 this weekend for the 3 hours we spent driving to Sonoma and back. At one point I drove over the speed limit on purpose. It was a two-lane road and eight cars were in line behind me. What would you have done?

File this one under adventures in parenting.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lean In

I've been thinking about Sheryl Sandberg's book ever since I put it down two months ago. Sandberg has been Facebook's COO since 2008 and is the new face of women in the workplace.

While I disagree with some of her views such as that it's okay for women to cry in the workplace and that women don't need mentors, the bulk of her content and the way she tells stories, backed by data, fuels my ambition. However, I am on the older side of the demographic for this book; I've already made significant career choices and completed my family.

Her point, in a nutshell, is that the many gender biases that still operate in the workplace aren't an excuse for women hitting the glass ceilings. Justifications won't get us anywhere. Instead, women should believe in themselves, give it their all, "lean in" and have confidence that they can successfully combine work and family.

"When a girl tries to lead, she is often labeled bossy," Sandberg writes. "Boys are seldom bossy because a boy taking the role of a boss does not surprise or offend." She goes on to share the Columbia Business School case study that measured "likability" among men versus women in business. One group of students were told of an aggressive, successful venture capitalist named Heidi; another group of students were told the same story except that Heidi was Howard. Even though no other details were changed, students found Howard the more likable of the two.

The data points in this book make my blood boil.

Sandberg points out that men apply for jobs when they meet merely 60 percent of the listed requirements while women wait until they meet 100 percent. Men also negotiate for higher salaries far more often than women. For example, of a graduation class of Carnegie Mellon students, 57 percent of men initiated negotiations as compared to 7 percent of women.

Men are often hired based on their potential whereas women are hired based on past successes. Just this week my friend "Craig" asked a hiring manager why the previous person in the job they were discussing had not worked out. Craig was told exactly that, "I hired him based more on his potential than his fit for this job."

I spend a fair amount of time counseling early- and mid-career-stage women to not settle for less than they're worth, for doing their part to close the wage gap between men and women. They tell me that they don't have the nerve to ask for a flexible work situation or more money. They tell me that "things are just as bad out there" as "where I work now". I challenge them to better their situations.

Sandberg tells us that the most important decision a woman makes is picking her spouse. To achieve big in corporate America one needs a partner who will do his or her 50% and support their partner's career choices.

I hit the jackpot on this one. I have learned a lot about negotiation from Dave. Who do you think gives me the confidence to go after what I'm worth and to pursue new interests? Who is just as good, if not better, with the kids? I actually think they like him more. He's definitely more fun.

Sandberg encourages women to face their fears. After more than 20 years in technology I still have days that I feel like a fraud. And I still sometimes find myself spoken over and discounted while the men sitting next to me are not. But now I take a deep breath and keep at it. I have learned to sit at the table. When one of my male colleagues pops out of his office and yells to a female on our team, "I want to talk to you" I grimace. This is another behavior Sandberg cites as something a male would never do to another male. I have pointed this out to the women on our team so they can make their own decisions about how to react.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

It was a good book, a classic, in case you haven't read it.

Brooklyn is trendy now. Really trendy. And while Dave and I have been to New York many times, we've only seen the inside of one particular steakhouse there. The time came to rectify that.

I went to my trusted source: Context Travel. We took a Context Travel walking tour of Venice with The Pinks two summers ago. It was the best tour ever.

We loved our architectural walking tour Brooklyn, too. Matico Josephson was our guide. He's an urban historian and PhD student at NYU. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge dodging the children on school field trips and trying not to pass out in the 90 degree heat and explored the DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights. It was impossible not to picture ourselves living there as we walked the neighborhoods, admiring the gorgeous view of the New York skyline, the leafy, tree-lined streets with the shade we really needed and the Federal-style brownstones.

From Matico we learned that the steel diagonal cables on the bridge don't actually serve a purpose more than aesthetic. There were originally added so that the bridge would be able to bear additional load. However, more recent load tests have shown that they do no such thing. Of course they'll never be taken down as they are a recognizable part of this National Historic Landmark.

Matico took us to Henry Ward Beecher's Plymouth Church, which was a famous stop on the Underground Railroad. From his pulpit in the more-amphitheater-than-traditional church, Beecher held auctions where congregants bid for the freedom of slaves.

After our tour we had a late lunch at Grimaldi's Pizza. Yum. Stomachs full, we took the ferry back to Manhattan. And then napped before heading out to Spider Man.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Him and me. NYC.

The Pinks are fun. A lot of fun. But every once in a while it's good to revisit the life Dave and I had before we had kids. Our weekend in New York was just that.

I'd always wanted to see more of Central Park than just what you glimpse from the perimeter. On this trip we rented bikes and explored. We saw the reservoir that makes its appearance over and over again on the big and small screens. We saw Strawberry Fields and Sheep Meadow. You cannot ride a bike through the whole of Central Park; there's a systematic way to do it. Imagine a road two lanes wide but divided into three lanes. On the far left are people on foot, either running or walking. In the center are the leisurely bikers. To the right are the speed demons. Everyone travels counterclockwise, south to north. It's very orderly.

We saw The Book of Mormon on Broadway. It's quite shocking actually. However, it's incredibly creative and was, of course, very well done. Still, I did not expect to be so offended by it.

We also saw Spider-Man. Wow! I enjoyed this far more than I expected to. Our seats were in the very first row so we got a look behind the scenes, too. The actors were literally as close to us as my screen is to my face while I type this! We could see that the actress who plays Mary Jane has had surgery on both knees. The sets were beautiful: cartoon meets pop art. You know those graphic novels that the kids are all about these days? Picture those in 3D and moving. The audience really feels as if it's in the middle of the action. The action scenes themselves were beautifully choreographed, the high-flying acrobatics mid air reaching all three levels of the theater and on the stage.

Bono and The Edge did the music, which is how we ended up there in the first place. These guys are among Dave's favorites. I'm so glad we went.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The silence was deafening.

Dave and I are just back from a long weekend in New York. (Happy 20th anniversary to us!)

The very last thing we did on our trip was go to the 9-11 Memorial.

In a city of 8 million people, of nonstop frenzy, it's the quietest spot.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Round Two at the Dance Recital - Team Version

A year ago Liberty had just tried out for a competitive dance team. A year ago I was both excited and apprehensive to re-enter the competitive dance team circuit. I would have more in common with the older dancers' parents, who I knew from Paris' team years, yet I would be hanging out with the younger dancers' parents.

As I type this, Liberty is performing her last recital number for the season and we're waiting to see which team(s) she will be on next year. I'm apprehensive this time but not dreading the email. This season has been fun for both of us. She made some new friends, studied under some teachers such as Momo Lebeau, performed at Disney's California Adventure, and learned that no matter how well your team performs, sometimes you just don't win. She also learned that even when you're tired and fighting a bug the show must go on. The picture above is in the team dressing room at the recital.

This child takes dance very seriously. We've spent lots of time discussing and then shopping for gifts for her elder dance buddy. Our extended family and friends have seen her at competitions and performances this year. She can even do her own hair and makeup.

Here we go again.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I hate shopping.

Buying? Now that I'm great at.

Cars. Shoes. Gifts. I am a pretty savvy online shopper. Catalogs and Daily Candy are my friends. I've had my credit card number memorized for years. I can shop anywhere, anytime.

The only time and place I happily shop is while on vacation. I bought 17 pair of shoes on a trip to Italy. In my own defense, only 13 were for me. And six of those I still wear, almost a decade later.

I have so much respect for those of you who can spend all day shopping. I do a few hours here and there with Neeracha and my eyeballs are bruised. In fact, I'd rather she or a personal shopper just pick out my clothes for me.

A few years ago I took Paris and Liberty to THE MALL in search of spring and summer clothing for them. They love to shop: to browse the aisles, to try on pretty things, to accessorize, to debate the right shoes for the outfit, to try on more pretty things. I would rather have a Brazilian on sunburned skin.

But I went, because this is what Good Mothers do. I lasted three hours. They had a blast. We went to Abercrombie, where I said several times, "Even though you have beautiful legs, your father would kill me if I bought you shorts that short." We went to Pumpkin Patch, where each outfit was cuter than the next and where Paris didn't even look at her size. We went to Claire's, where they both bought accessories with their own money. We went to Wet Seal, which has really cheap, trashy clothes that fortunately Paris did not fit in. We went to Justice, which had some suitable things mixed in amongst the Britney-Spears-style-junk. And we went to Hollister.

I was exhausted when we came home. Fortunately our next door neighbors had invited us to dinner so I got a Baby Andrew fix and felt much better after that and a good burger.

Summer will soon turn to fall. And shopping season is here again. I'm bracing myself.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cousin Love - LA Style

Although it was improbable given the physical miles between us, I grew up very close to my first cousins on my father's side of the family. Jennifer Klevatt Bentley is four years my senior and has a wicked sense of humor likely gained from years of being pushed around by her opinionated, strong-willed siblings. Jodi Klevatt Gladstone and I share a love of sewing. David Klevatt was in law school in Chicago while I was doing my undergrad in Madison, thus he become my safety net when drama arose.

I looked up to my cousins, much the way The Pinks look up to their Calabasas cousins.

The summer of my 16th year was when my cousins dressed me up for my first New York City bar hopping experience. During Thanksgiving of my 20th year two friends and I stayed in Jen's apartment (she left town and also left behind the car and keys) and shot the 1986 equivalent of Selfies all around Chicago. There may have been some wine coolers involved in that; why else would we pose on the outside viewing deck of the then-Sears Tower on a day too foggy to see anything?!

David and I visited the bears at Denali together, took a dunk at Chena Hot Springs and cruised around Prince William Sound in a Zodiak . He also cooked for me -- I had dreams about his linguine with clam sauce for years. He also took me to some Italian restaurant in Chicago and did a standing back flip right there in the dining room, for a reason that must have been a dare.

Jodi took me to the beach at Narragansett and also made me the Great Expectations quilt when I was pregnant with Liberty and Victoria.

Fast forward 20 years. Jodi practices law in Providence. David practices law in Chicago. And Jen is enjoying some time at home with her two sweet sons in LA after many grueling years in the the entertainment industry.

We met up with the whole entourage last weekend to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of Jen's eldest son, Kevin The years disappeared and the next generation of cousins picked up where our generation left off. The next generation is pictured at right, ages 11 to 17.

The last time this same group was together was at Jen's wedding, 15 years ago. At that time Jodi's youngest, Caleb, was two and very attached to his lovey, a cartoon character doll named Ben. Ben was intentionally excluded from the formal family picture and in that picture Caleb is wailing hysterically in response. Today Caleb is a high school senior. Dave brilliantly found and procured a Ben doll so we could recreate this photo, to the merriment of all involved.

Liberty and Jen's youngest, Jacob, also age 11, bonded over their shared diminutive stature. Look closely at the picture below; they could easily be mistaken as twins. For Paris the highlight of the weekend was realizing that her towering height of 5'2" made her (much!) taller than all the other women in our clan. In heels she was positively Amazonian. Sadly, it also meant her feet were larger than Jen's. Jen's shoe collection rivals my own.

The Pinks and I drove halfway down Thursday night. We spent the night at the Harris Ranch Inn, which Liberty aptly summed up by saying, "If cows had sensitive noses they'd be barfing right now." The property has gorgeous, manicured, flowering grounds, which are complete waste because the stench coming off of the surrounding cattle grazing land, is vile. (Sidebar: How come no one mentions the cow smell on The Pioneer Woman's Oklahoma Cattle Ranch?!)

Friday morning, after a call to the schools declaring that The Pinks were sick with Spring  fever, we met the cousins for an attack on Magic Mountain. There we broke into two groups: thrill seekers and non-thrill-seekers. Once again I held my own on the roller coasters.

After a quick dip in the hotel pool we joined up with the rest of the extended family for Friday night dinner. The Bar Mitzvah boy did a beautiful job Saturday morning and his interpretation of his portion brought us all to tears. After the service we ate and danced and ate more, as is traditional. My aunt and uncle, who I have been close to since we all lived in San Francisco during my post-college years, were in their element surrounded by their mischpucha. And then we went back to Jen's house and ate more. The kids, led by the 26-year-old bassoonist who just married Jodi's eldest, Alexa, launched an aggressive Nerf gun war. And of course we ate more Sunday morning before hitting the road.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This is Shannon.

We work together at PG&E. She's helping her parents out in the Village Goose booth at the Treasure Island Flea Market. And here she's helping Liberty create a piece of custom art for her room.

If I wasn't in the office when Shannon told me about her parents' business I would have been jumping up and down screaming. It's so me. I already collect letterpress tiles. And her parents make it easy for people to turn them into personalized art.

I'd always wanted to go to the Treasure Island Flea Market and a free Saturday plus the discovery of this business meant for me was the impetus. I dragged Liberty, Paris along.

The Market itself was well worth the trip. There were about a dozen food trucks so we had grass-fed beef and pulled-pork sliders for lunch. The vendors were about half traditional flea market and half interesting art and jewelry. This being the Bay Area, home of the Giants loyal, there was no shortage of Giants-wear, especially as it's baseball season. The coolest thing I saw was Giants t-shirts with a Day of the Dead, sugar skull style face. I will buy one next time. Or maybe I'll just order online. They were that cool.

The market is the last weekend of every month. People today told me that in the summer it's twice as big as it is in the winter. I'm already planning a trip back.

We spent a long time at Exit Plan B, a booth selling letter art photography signs, and with Emily Ireland, whose hand-painted Toms we really wanted.

The view of the city from Treasure Island is the best view I've ever seen. If waterfront homes ever come on the market Dave and I will need our very own Plan B.

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's Easy.

We're not up at Tahoe much these days. Other commitments seem to conspire against us. But every time I come up here I relax.

I vacillate on whether or not we should sell our place. It sits empty more often than not. But it's so easy to be here. So easy to walk to Starbucks. To Mamasake. To the funitel. So easy to pull into the garage and leave the car untouched for a day or a weekend or a week. I like the convenience of having our ski gear in one place. I like having a place my kids call home, so different from our home in the Bay. I like that they view the ski resort as their backyard and play outside for hours with their friends. I like that our family has a decade of memories here.

Today I sit in bed, propped up on pillows, looking out my window at some of the country's best skiers competing for US National Alpine titles. People stop by and say hello. I take my time in the kitchen, looking forward to the arrival of friends tonight for dinner.

The Sunday paper arrives at the front door and I have time to read it. I like listening to and talking with Dave. I like the sound of the crunchy spring snow, thawed and refrozen, under my Sorel boots. I like the cold air, warmed by the sun in March. I like the happy families and little kids that look too small to be on skis. I like the taste of a cold beer after skiing at altitude.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Language of Lacrosse

Piedmont's charm and blind curves remind me of Orinda, where I spent part of my childhood. It's hidden in the Oakland hills and I'd never been there until Saturday's lacrosse game.

Witter Field, as far as I can tell, has no parking lot. If it does it's well-hidden, just like the field itself, which is part of Piedmont High School.

This is completely consistent with my lacrosse experience: confusing and revealing itself little by little.

The first thing you notice at an elementary-school-aged girls lacrosse game is the silence from the bleachers. Deafening silence. Nice oxymoron.

Few parents understand the game enough to backseat coach the same way they do at soccer or softball games. Every now and then one claps or yells "She's hot!" but other than that they are quiet or count softly to three. Three is the number of times the ball has to be passed before a player can attempt a goal. Being hot means it's now an option to shoot. The kids can actually hear the coach's instructions because the parents aren't drowning them out.

Our coach played at Notre Dame and coached boys' high school lacrosse before his own daughter played. This guy knows his stuff. Tori's team is good. Really good. We didn't know how good until we started crushing playing other teams. Our goalie may as well be weaving baskets from blades of grass. Our coach also appears to be a classy guy, having the girls stop going for the goal when it came just shy of the time we humiliated the other team by a ridiculous blowout.

The girls wear kilts. Tori happily wears it. Yesterday it was turned sideways with the stripe running down the front and the back. She looked like a skunk.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The E Ticket Ride

Yep, I went on it last weekend. It's called Radiator Springs Racer and it's in Cars Land. Cars Land is the 12-acre add on to Disney's California Adventure theme park based on Pixar's Cars movie. What I found interesting was the line. At 9pm the line was 120 minutes long. There is very little I'd wait in line two hours for. The daily Fast Passes were gone 30 minutes after the park's opening. Thank G/d for friends who are VIPs.

Liberty and I flew Orange County Friday morning to join her dance studio for its annual weekend of merriment. Her team performed at California Adventure Saturday afternoon as part of Disney's Performing Arts Program. It was hard not to have a good time. I could focus on the needs of just one child and do whatever she wanted. We ran around the parks with her friends and from Christina Norris I learned many Disney best practices. Our Disney experiences will be forever better.

The parks, incidentally, seemed more crowded at night than they did during the afternoon. I think the gorgeous weather drove the adults poolside for a break from the chaos and the adults with young kids back to their rooms for naps. Friday night we had dinner at Goofy's Kitchen with a bunch of other dance team families. The kids loved that the characters just came by our table instead of us having to hunt them down in the park.

The thing about traveling with a large group of people is that you are surrounded by friendly faces everywhere you go. And they tell you what they did that was neat. As much ground as we covered in two days, there were still many things we did not see. My favorite ride seems to be Toy Story, where you put on 3D glasses and the Toy Story characters guide you through a shooting arcade which you traverse in a moving vehicle. It's like target shooting from inside the game.

Aside from seeing my daughter shine on stage and enjoying the California sunshine in the 80s, the highlight for me was the big roller coaster, California Screamin'. Christine talked me into it and I figured it was worth the risk since she very well knew I might throw up on her. I nearly hopped out of line when it time to board but stuck with it because I knew I'd be proud of myself afterwards. Sure enough, it was a blast. I went on it twice more, the last time at night and in the front car which I can honestly say is 50% scarier.

My little thrill-seeker had fun with her friends and I got to know some mommies I might not otherwise have. It's also a treat to hang out with someone who knows the ropes. Usually I lead. This time I followed. This made it quite relaxing. I'm used to juggling the needs of multiple family members.

On Sunday we drove home with friends, stopping at the LA Farmer's Market for breakfast en route home. Happy birthday to me.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


I can't get rid of her. I want to. But something, something I can't put my finger on, is telling me that she needs to stay. I've relegated her, Kit, Marisol and three more of their friends to high shelving in the garage. Where they will live until I have grandchildren most likely.

We've been to two American Girl stores and had lunch at one of them. We went to the doll hair salon at one of them. We've got beds and clothes and hair accessories and videos and books. And matching doll / child outfits. We've got the Bitty Baby twins and a photo of our twins holding their twins. All matchy matchy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The second time around.

Liberty and I saw Wicked last weekend. It was her Hanukkah present. She enjoyed it. Who wouldn't? I enjoyed it the second time around, too, and noticed far more than I did the first time, with Paris and some friends during its second run here. The costumes were beautiful. The remaining questions I had about the storyline were answered. It didn't seem as long. And of course I now know all the music.

Over the holidays we watched Chicago with the kids. I caught a lot more that time, too, including the fact that 10-year-olds shouldn't watch something so risque. Oops.

It's not often I see or read something twice. I'm glad I revisited Wicked, though, especially since the largest part of my enjoyment this time around was watching Liberty's face as she discovered how the Tin Man became the Tin Man, and was awed by the live orchestra, the mechanical dragon, the hidden ladies room without a line and the ritual of pre-ordered intermission snacks.

 Paris turned 15 this month. We stopped doing parties the year of her BatM but my mother-in-law took her to tea at The Palace. She expressed appropriate admiration of The Garden Court's incredible but not over-the-top opulent beauty, including its stained glass dome. For reference, the Garden Court was the hotel's original carriage entrance in 1875. In 1909, after a three year renovation following The Earthquake, it was turned into a restaurant. It's been many years since I've spent any time there -- I think my last extended visit to the Garden Court was for the 50th birthday party I threw for my mother. (Scary since I'm faaaar closer to 50 than she is now.) This picture freaks me out a bit.  She is so much more poised and worldly than I was at 15. I was pure trouble at that age.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Special Ski Trip

There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

I read that on a blog and it's stayed with me. Last Monday was one of those days it rang true. It was a cold, crisp day at Tahoe. Windless but absolutely positively winter. There were few people on our mountain and I skied run after run after run without lift lines or many people in sight. I practiced my carved, parallel turns. I skied down things too steep to do defensively. 

Best of all was the company -- my dad and brother.

My dad's done a great job of recovering from his heart surgery last summer and my brother and I took full advantage of his health to attack the mountain on this weekday. It was one of the best days I'd had on the mountain in a long time.

The picture above is my dad, brother and Tori, who skied with us the day before. I dragged them to the Ritz Carlton at Northstar for lunch after Tori's ski race. Yes, she won. My favorite part of this picture is my dad's smile. It's the "What more could I want?!" smile.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


The skies were blue. The fog burned off long before we woke up. The temps were in the 70s. It was an uncharacteristically beautiful winter weekend in Monterey.

Liberty and I were in Monterey for a dance convention. It looked like the perfect recipe for a girly, fun, memorable three days.

And then she got sick, really sick, and we spent Friday night in the Emergency Room at CHOMP. The more sleep deprived you are, the funnier the acronym is. CHOMP. Chomp. chomp. Community Hospital Of Monterey Peninsula.

Our murse, John, was a jovial, rotund figure. Skilled too. The MD, a, preppy blonde mother of mother of three sons under the age of six, had no patience for a 10-year-old who'd been up 16 hours by the time we arrived in the ER. Fortunately John did.

Saturday we spent mostly sleeping. And on Sunday Liberty danced a bit and we headed home. With the Monterey sun still shining.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Observations from this Dance Mom

There should have been an Abby Lee lookalike award at Hollywood Connection last weekend. Dead serious.

This was Liberty's first dance competition and convention, and that face-spanning smile at left stayed with her all weekend. She took classes all day Saturday then dolled up and performed. Her team won second place and gold, for those who keep score. We'd planned to watch the older dancers compete after we'd had dinner but she lay down on her bed in the hotel and opened her eyes 11 hours later.

Paris stopped dancing competitively five years ago. Here are my observations after returning to the scene.
  1. This year's trend in costumes is derriere adornment.
  2. This year's trend in hair is wigs. Piggy tails. Pony tails. Colorful, fun, wild things, too.
  3. The level of competition has increased. By an order of magnitude.
  4. Cash is king if a dancer eats chicken nuggets and pizza. Finally there is convenient food set out for the dancers that does not involve sitting down, waiting and tipping on bad service. If a dancer does not eat these things then the Dance Mom spends her weekend dashing to and from Panera, Jamba Juice, Chipotle and Subway. 
  5. The further away the competing studio is from a major metropolitan area, the greater the chance the Dance Moms are wearing blinged sweats branded with their studio name. Watch out Nicki Minaj.
  6. I am far less competitive than other people. I just want Liberty to have a good time.
One convention down, three to go. Plus Disneyland.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wrapping Up

I begin my new gig in a week. Since deciding to change my work situation I've been frantic tying up loose ends because starting a new project is synonymous with a reduced amount of free time and an increased amount of mental exhaustion.

As everyone knows by now, in the Jacob vs. Edward drama Edward gets the girl. Seeing Breaking Dawn Part 2 was on my list. The movie was fine. I just needed closure on the whole dang thing. It feels like forever ago that I read the Twilight Series.

I baked for our next two NCL commitments. My current favorite cookie recipe is similar to risotto and soup in that you use whatever you have in the house for the top of these three-layer cookies.

The Steve Jobs book by Walter Isakson. Surely I'm the the last person in the Valley to read it. In technology circles its quoted as often as The Minority Report and The Social Network. My first clue was finding eight copies on the shelf in the Mountain View Library. Truth be told, it took me a long time to get through. Isakson is a gifted writer and I wanted to savor the words and also think about it, too. I began my tech career in 1989, toward the beginning of Apple's historic rise, and even worked on the short-lived NeXTWorld Magazine.

Deferred Tech Support. Off to the Apple Store I went with one ancient desktop and two laptops to migrate the data from the old one to the new two. I needed to straighten out Apple IDs and iTunes Libraries. I gave some TLC to my PC, which has seen little use this last year. It needed software upgrades and a good reorganization. A dusting too.

Filing. Recipes and travel articles and health insurance claim forms. Creating new files for 2013.

Framing. The kids' art and new black and white pictures we had taken in Mexico. Hanging all that stuff. Taking old stuff down. Deciding where to put old and new framed art. This takes time!

Alterations! I'll be in an office five days a week so I did a big drop off at the seamstress as well as parked myself in front of Pitch Perfect on demand to do simple fixes myself. You can skip Pitch Perfect.

Shopping. I hit the mall for some work wardrobe basics, essentially winter sweaters in fun colors to go with all those boring pants I just hemmed. Also foundations. Liberty, now 11 and who was with us, found this part as much fun as having a flu shot. Paris enjoyed it more and for the investment I made on her foundations, I should have let her go to Victoria's Secret like she wanted to in the first place.

My list is getting shorter and the daylight hours are getting longer. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Who quits a job they love?!


I woke up bright and early on January 1 and made Coq au Vin. I'm eating it right now and it's good. So good it was worth all that shopping and chopping and sauteing and braising and reducing. It's gluten-free, too.

Why did I cook instead of sleep in? Because one of my goals for 2013 is to cook more. And to cook more I need to spend more time at home, which is also why I quit a job I loved. It's hard to be a great mom and wife when your mind is constantly spinning technobabble messaging. I'm sure I'll love my new job, too, and I'll especially love that it's 43 miles closer to home and that I'll be able to see The Pinks both morning and evening. We're on the back nine after all.

The hardest part of quitting my job was actually getting the words out of my mouth. I literally had to force them out. And once I did, the recipient of that phrase, "My last day is January 11" sat back in his chair, paused and then said, "Really?!"

I'll be working on a change management project at PG&E come January 14. It's on Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek.