Thursday, October 19, 2006

101 Things About Me That Aren't Particularly Exciting

1. I read a “My 100 Things” on somebody else’s blog and thought it was fairly interesting.
2. I’m not certain I can thing of 100 things about me during my lunch break and fear this is because I am Boring with a capital B.
3. I’m a Virgo. (read: anal retentive perfectionist)
4. I am the oldest of three children (read: anal retentive perfectionist). I have a brother and a sister. I’m five years older than my brother. Six years older than my sister.
5. When I took the Process Communication Model test, I came out as a very strong workaholic/persister. (read: anal retentive perfectionist)
6. Using Meyers-Briggs, I am an INTJ. (again: anal retentive perfectionist)
7. Despite the research, I don’t think I’m all that anal retentive. Really, you could do worse.
8. I am from New Jersey.
9. I do not think this is funny. “Which exit” is not funny, and if you’re from NJ or have ever been to NJ, you know it doesn’t make any sense. This was probably one of the greatest defenses of the Garden State I’ve ever read.
10. I’m a Masshole now. I am adjusting to the idea of left turns and pumping my own gas. I think pumping your own gas SUCKS.
11. My undergraduate degree was a dual degree in English and Magazine Journalism. I started an undergraduate thesis on the role of art and literature in a Marxist society.
12. I still think Marx makes a lot of sense.
13. I work in Corporate PR. I always have – it was a money decision when I graduated from college and I don’t have a lot of regrets.
14. I’ve never worked at a PR agency.
15. I interned at two newspapers.
16. I still want to be a writer when I grow up.
17. I don’t want to write The Great American Novel. I prefer short stories.
18. In my professional career, I’ve only worked for 3 companies. 7 years at the first. 10 months that were a complete waste of time at the second, and 4 months where I am now.
19. My first job was in the “craft” department of Treasure Island. I got fired for calling some lady a bitch after an argument about yarn.
20. Then I worked at Harmon in the cosmetics department. I loved that job.
21. In college, I worked at Bruegger’s Bagels. I still get annoyed when I see people cutting bagels the wrong way.
22. I have two cats: Alistair(10) and Gwendolyn (7.5).
23. Alistair is my favorite. I know – Bad Mommy!
24. I tell people I’m a natural redhead, but I’m more naturally red-ish.
25. I have way too much gray hair for someone my age.
26. As of today, I am 13 lbs from my goal weight. Down 27 from my high weight.
27. I am divorced.
28. My favorite color is red.
29. I love to read. I love to listen to music.
30. I don’t have a favorite band, but I have some classics that always make the playlists: the Pixies, Luna, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Wilco, Afghan Whigs, Guided by Voices, Death Cab.
31. I also love classic rock and heavy metal. If I were stranded on a desert island, I would most defininitely need some Black Sabbath and AC/DC and Guns n’Roses. I don’t think this makes me lame.
32. I think Skid Row’s 18 and Life is fucking awesome, dude.
33. I don’t like rap music.
34. I am not nearly as snobbish about music as I was 10 years ago. Case in point – Justin Timberlake and Kelly Clarkson made it to my Ipod. They would have 10 years ago, too, but I would have never admitted it and I would have also subjected you to a rant about overcommercialization.
35. Favorite food – or if I ever killed somebody and ended up on death row and got to do that thing where you choose your last meal and it better be good – a bacon, egg & cheese sandwich on a bagel, cheese fries with gravy, and a dessert of my dad’s pasta with marinara sauce and prosciutto
36. I love appetizers. In my ideal world, men walk around in tuxedos serving you bite-sized apps on silver platters
37. I don’t do “lite” beer. I don’t get “lite” beer. And what is “lite” all about? Is it really that hard to spell it right.
38. I like wine. I don’t know enough about wine. My wine preferences are based on what my parents like.
39. I consider Diet Coke the sweet nectar of the Gods.
40. I’m not snobbish about food. I eat a lot of pre-packaged stuff. I know it’s not good for me. I don’t care THAT much.
41. That said, I can’t decide if this is admirable or really fucking pretentious and annoying.
42. I’m a picky eater. Not in the traditional sense where I won’t try new types of “ethnic” foods, but I usually stick to chicken. Pad Thai is yummy. So is Chicken Tikka Masala. If this makes me convential, so be it.
43. I don’t like Greek food or Middle Eastern food.
44. I’m a big stickler for table manners. You eat what you’re served, you say thank you, you WAIT for the hostess or host to sit down before even thinking about lifting your fork, and you always, ALWAYS offer to clean the dishes.
45. This does not apply to family. I will burp at your kitchen table and I will laugh when you rip a giant fart in my general direction. We’re related – table manners don’t apply.
46. Jon Stewart has stayed consistent on my laminated list of celebrities I am allowed to sleep with if I ever meet them.
47. I am a registered Independent. I hate Dubya. I loathe Hillary. I am unbelievably and unapologetically disillusioned.
48. I drive a Honda Accord. Before that, I drove a Honda Accord. I like consistency and stability.
49. I don’t have any tattoos.
50. I wore an eyebrow ring for about 5 years.
51. I ended up with a buzz cut after deciding it was a good idea to cut my own hair. Lesson: do NOT cut your own hair.
52. I haven’t had long hair past my shoulders since I was 16.
53. I rocked the Jersey hair with my spiral perm and big bangs back in the day.
54. I have a shoe fetish. I own over 100 pairs of shoes.
55. This was after significantly paring down my shoe collection for the move.
56. I do not understand or condone “comfort shoes.”
57. I had to revise this bit of snobbery when I moved to Cambridge. Skinny heels plus cobblestone streets = bad news.
58. I now own a pair of Dansko shoes. Typing that did not make me faint from horror.
59. In high school and college, I wore black combat boots or Doc Martens practically every day. I had 5 pairs of Docs: oxblood boots, navy boots, black oxfords, green oxfords, and a multicolored boot thing.
60. I can’t bear to give away the combat boots even though I probably won’t wear them ever again. They’re my visual link to the me I used to be (fishnets, boots, and spiked necklace)
61. Now I want to be Laura from Project Runway.
62. I am a religious devotee of What Not to Wear.
63. I think that leggings are a crime against humanity. I find the return of the 80s frightening. What’s next? Stir-up pants? Leg warmers?
64. I do not like ice cream that much.
65. If I could, I’d eat a Ring Ding every day.
66. I love cheese. Preferably good cheese, but Polly-O string cheese is pretty awesome too.
67. I don’t understand foie gras.
68. I was OLD (post-college) when I finally realized that crudite is the plate of raw vegetables.
69. I have no desire to spend time or money on home decorating. I have no eye for design. I don’t really mind this.
70. Even though I’m older, I sometimes (revise: most of the time) am a huge brat and absolutely wretched when I talk to my mom.
71. I’m not that creeped out by all the people who tell me that YG reminds them in looks and manner of my dad. Not THAT creeped out. Slightly? Yes.
72. I watch way too much television.
73. I thought Flavor of Love was brilliant.
74. I want to travel more. I want to do Thailand next.
75. God bless the New York Yankees.
76. I want to go to spring training again and stay here again.
77. I have not been as diligent about baseball watching this post-season as I have in seasons past.
78. If you read my blog, you know this: I think Alex Rodriguez is Satan’s spawn.
79. I want to go to Cooperstown.
80. Yankee fan and all, I liked Moneyball.
81. I hate talking on the phone. This is a bit problematic when you live hours away from your family. It would never occur to me to just pick up the phone and call my parents or my siblings, but I know I should.
82. I don’t mind being alone. I can eat out alone, go to the movies alone, go to a concert alone, etc. But I wish I was better at making small talk.
83. Sometimes I wished I smoked. Before you send me hate mail, I know how ridiculous that is. It’s just something to do with your hands standing around looking bored.
84. I love a Gin & Tonic. I love Whiskey Sours. I love Cosmos. I don’t care if they got a bad rap from Sex & the City.
85. I think Magnolia cupcakes are divine. See above.
86. My best date ever wasn’t a date. It was a work thing. YG and I had drinks at the W hotel, dinner at Sushi Samba and hung out at Flute after. It wasn’t a date, but had it have been, it would have had romantic-comedy movie potential.
87. I am one of those annoying people that think New York City is the best and most beautiful city in the world.
88. I can back that poing up because I’m not from New York City so I’m not biased, I’ve experienced my fair share of NYC snobbery (see above: from Jersey), and I’ve traveled to a lot of other cities.
89. I thought San Francisco was greater than I could have possibly even imagined.
90. I THINK Cambridge is much more awesome than I ever thought possible.
91. I don’t know if I’ll move back “home.”
92. It’s really clich├ęd and trite to say that your favorite book is The Catcher in The Rye, and I hate to be lame, but damn, that’s a good book.
93. Other old favorites include The Cider House Rules, all things by Henry Miller, The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina.
94. New good reads included Little Children, The Corrections, Prep.
95. I spend way too much money on books, clothes and cds and not enough money on charities and food that doesn’t come from a box.
96. I spend too much money on make-up and products that make me appear like I am wearing no make-up or products or have hair anywhere on my body other than my not-natural-and-therefore-expensive head.
97. I hate conference calls scheduled after 5 p.m.
98. Anything before 9 a.m. is a total blur. I need two alarm clocks and frequent snooze hits to get up in the morning. I’m sure my neighbors absolutely love this.
99. I can’t remember the last time I had 8 hours of sleep a night.
100. I went to a Phish show in high school dressed in my goth gear. I didn't know that Phish was a hippie band. I don't know what is more embarrassing -- admitting to listening to Phish or admitting to wearing goth gear.
101. At #101, I am utterly bored with this list. If you're still reading, I hope this was truly informative in an earth-shattering way. :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tough Choices, Carly?

So Carly Fiorina’s memoir, Tough Choices, is out.
I haven’t read it yet, but I want to, and I’ve been watching the coverage of the book’s release with interest.

I really, really, really WANT to like Carly Fiorina. For a number of reasons: regardless of outcome, she was a powerful businesswoman; she didn’t know what she wanted to do when she was 23 either; I like her PR person, and two years removed, I’m still pretty loyal to Lucent and the people who grew up in that culture.

I want to like her. But good lord, this woman is just so unbelievably unlikable. Really. It’s like she’s following the script of “How to Appear Wholly Unsympathetic and Unsavory to People That Really Want to Believe in You.”

First, a bit of background so we can establish that I’m biased right off the bat. I worked at LU when she was named The Most Powerful Woman in Business, and I was still working there when she was named HP’s CEO. There was a lot of rah-rahing of woo-hoo-ing by the women in my neck of the woods in the PR department (you know PR – the “not responsible for P&L” place where women who don’t want to be the Most Powerful Women in Business go because we’re afraid or something like that. Nothing to do with ya know, maybe LIKING PR, but I digress). It’s nice to see one of your own be successful so we all settled into a conference room to watch her famous interview where she declared “an end to the glass ceiling.” Um, needle scratch on the record. WHAT THE FUCK? It was dead silence in the room. End to the glass ceiling? Okay, folks, I know we can argue about whether or not it’s a glass ceiling or a work/life “conflict”, but let’s just agree that nobody really likes hearing about how there’s an end to the glass ceiling by some rich white woman with no kids and a rich white husband.

* **And yes, I know about the step-kids. And yes, I know about her “humble”
beginnings. Meaning, Carly Fiorina comes from middle-class beginnings just like I do. Meaning that when you’re white and you have parents that foot the bill for a good education, you are privileged and starting off ahead of the pack. I can acknowledge this. I have no idea why the rich and successful can’t. There’s nothing wrong with using your privilege to your advantage. There is something wrong with trying to manufacture some sort of humble beginning because it’s tacky and awful to appear wealthy.

Anyway, back to my point. If I had one. After the “end of the glass ceiling” debacle, I declared Ms. Fiorina another agent of Satan and went about my business. But I do ADMIRE her, which is something entirely different. I respect what she tried to do with HP, even though she failed and I thought this book and the accompanying press tour would help me finally understand what the hell she meant by that stupid, stupid, stupid comment.

And then I read yesterday’s USA Today:

Q: When you got the HP job seven years ago, you were criticized for declaring an end to the glass ceiling. A 60 Minutes piece implied that discrimination played a big role in your firing. Is the business world sexist or not?
A: When I came to HP, I was impatient with questions of my gender. I tried to signal my belief that women can achieve more by focusing on the possibilities rather than the limitations. In my own life, plenty of men have given me wonderful opportunities.
Eighty-five percent of my employees were men, and I wanted to communicate what we had in common: a love for the company. That made me careless with language. The workplace is not gender blind. We still have different expectations for women. That's a fact. Is it a cause for me? No. But I'm a realist.
Q: That's been your position all along? A skeptic might say you played the gender card when you got fired.
A: For six years, I was named the most powerful woman in business, and each time, I said to Fortune (magazine), don't create a list. I said it is wonderful to highlight successful women because it might inspire more to go into business.
But if you create a numbered list, it implies that business is like tennis. There's a men's ladder and a women's ladder, and women compete against each other because they can't play with the big boys. That's the wrong message. I wrote a book about a long business career. Why is describing that experience playing the gender card? When a man writes about his experience, nobody says he's playing the gender card.

Careless with language? Yeah, A LITTLE BIT. Seriously. That’s all you’re going to say? I have no idea why I’m so hung up on this. In the event that I ever become successful, I don’t want to be the poster child for “Women” everywhere, but it just seems odd to me when people don’t want to discuss their “otherness” at all – maybe that’s because I’m not an Other and have always been white and the norm – I dunno. To be fair, though, I do like her answer to the second question I called out. I started my thesis looking at glass ceiling vs. work/life conflict and almost all the research out there says that women have a hard time succeeding in business because they have no mentoring programs. Women don’t help each other – they compete. And bitches, that’s just LAME.

To go back to being unfair (or at least bitchy), I’ll also thank Carly for this tidbit listed under “Fiorina’s Tips:” The workplace is not gender blind, but women get further by focusing on possibilities, not limitations. Thanks. That’s useful information. Thank God we have the Most Powerful Woman in Business around to pass that big secret on. But what do I know? I’m over here in PR and HR hiding and shirking all responsibility and not caring one damn bit about profit and loss. Insert necessary eye roll.

So I’m curious. What do you think of Carly? Anyone read the book yet? Anyone care to lend it to me? Am I focusing on something relatively miniscule and missing the big picture? I've got more to say on this but just want to get the conversation started.