Saturday, March 19, 2011

Transitional Phases

"Change is a situational shift. Transition is the process of letting go of the way things used to be and then taking hold of the way they subsequently become." -- William Bridges.

I spent the day on Cape Cod for my second annual Women's Retreat. This year's theme was 'The Way of Transition' and our transitions ran the gamut from becoming parents, losing parents, finding new work, retiring, living alone, aging gracefully, etc. Last year, I took Zygote with me. This year, I went alone and took advantage of the beach walks and small groups and the labyrinth. Yes, a meditative labyrinth. Yes, really. DON'T JUDGE ME.

I tried to articulate what my "primary" transition is and I spewed out some stream of consciousness rambling about learning how to be a parent and putting others first and figuring out what I want to do for work and figuring out how to have time for anything else that is not kids or work and trying not to have a second failed marriage and attempting to be available for the rest of the family and how to balance it all. Essentially, transitioning into being a grown up, rather than pretending like I am.

"I began to have an idea of my life, not as the slow shaping of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes, but as the gradual discovery and grwoth of a purpose which I did not know." -- Johanna Field.

Here's hoping.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How To Spend A Day Without Your Child

1. New haircut
2. Ice cream lunch outside
3. Bookstore browsing
4. Wax
5. Reading in the sun in Copley Square
6. Shoe shopping
7. Grocery shopping (okay, that always sucks, but it is much more enjoyable sans child)
8. Finding out I passed my glucose test

Good times, good times.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ah, St. Patrick's Day

And the drunks are already out in full green regalia. I am a little bit jealous.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Rob Gordon Dream Jobs

You know that scene in High Fidelity where Rob's girlfriend discovers his list of Top Five Dream Jobs? That one spoke to me more than any of his other lists in the movie because I can definitely relate to having dream jobs that would require either a trust fund, learning some new skills entirely and/or would require a time machine.

Rob's Five Dream Jobs
NME journalist, 1976-1979
Producer, Atlantic Records, 1964-1971
Musician (any kind except for rap or classical)
Film director (any kind except for German or silent)
Architect (eventually changed to owner of a record store)

Ten Things I Have Often Thought I Might Want To Do or Wish I Did:
1. Be a member of Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.), 1986-89
2. Radio personality on the "Lite at Night" just so I could say things like, "This one goes out to a special person working the night shift in Secaucus from Lady in Red in Weehawken. You know who you are. You're the meaning in MY life. You're the inspiration."
3. The person that whispers "Do it" in the background on Van McCoy's The Hustle, 1970s
4. Mike Nesmith's girlfriend on an episode of The Monkees, 1960s
5. Standup comedian
6. Lead guitar player (anything but country)
7. Roller derby captain
8. Barista and/or coffee shop owner
9. Writer/columnist
10. Soul-ravaging preacher, a bit like John Lithgow in Footloose, but without the 'no dancing, no drinking' rules.

Stripper with a heart of gold has also popped into my head at random times -- meet new and interesting people, 'exotic' lands, cash flow, days off. And professor. And professional organizer of sock drawers and sock drawers only. And COO. I swore I wrote this list before, but my search functionality is kind of crappy.

Perhaps I need think realistically about a list of jobs I might actually be able to GET.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What’s Below The Marzipan Layer?

I was reading The Daily Beast’s coverage of its Women in the World Summit, and I found coverage of a panel on women and negotiations. There was some reiteration of the facts that while women are good negotiators, we are often crap at negotiating for ourselves. The one man on the panel, John Donahoe, president and CEO of eBay, shared this bit:

“Donahoe told a story where his wife was clerking for a judge and it fell on him to take the kids to school. He told his boss at Bain Consulting that he was going to have to quit because he was traveling so much and couldn’t make things work. But, his boss got him the help he needed so he didn’t have to be in until 10 a.m. The moral of the story? We all should demand "customizable options at different parts of your career.”

I 100% agree with him. Flexible work arrangements help everyone. But even with these flexible arrangements, why are women getting stuck in the marzipan layer? The one just below the icing of senior management? Look at the number of female Fortune 500 CEOs. Not many. My guess is that guys like Donahoe have mentors and other backers who push them through the politics required to make it to upper management, and women don’t. You can only make it so far on your own.

And no comment on the people like me who aren’t even anywhere near peeking at the Marzipan Layer. What are we? Filler? Crust?


Monday, March 14, 2011

A bookkeeper, not a money manager

I read this article in Salon and shuddered nervously, mainly because it speaks to a lot of the big fears that I am grappling with right now.

“I had inadvertently become part of an opt-out revolution much different than the one writer Lisa Belkin described in an article for the New York Times Magazine in 2003. In that revolution, upper-middle-class, Type A women opted out of their MBA-fueled careers to stay home and overzealously manage their toddlers' lives. In my revolution, relatively average women get married and -- especially after having children -- consciously opt out of duties considered somehow "male," and I'm not just talking about mowing the lawn. I'm talking about money. I became, like many other middle-aged married mothers, Lucy to my husband's Ricky, focusing on kids and home and letting him focus on money and all the big decisions that come with it -- should we refinance the house? Buy a minivan? Get a new dining room table? Fix the roof? Open a Roth IRA?”

With Z2 on the way, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do for work after my maternity leave and what that means for our financial situation. To be 100% crystal clear, I want to work. I am work-identified, I want my career, and I don’t think that going to work has any impact on my kids, other than a positive one. However, I have lots of conflicting feelings about leaving those kids to go to a job that I can barely tolerate and that I don’t seem to be advancing in anymore. There are also real challenges to trying to juggle two corporate work schedules especially when one person’s schedule (YG’s) requires a lot of traveling, and the other person’s (my) company values a lot of face time. I would like something with a little more flexibility, and in some ideal utopia, I would not mind working somewhere where the product or solution or whatever was something I really cared about. I would not mind that at all.

But, dudes, I am SCARED. Like the author, “I bought into the belief system -- one that pervades society . . . -- that the only jobs with value are the ones with a paycheck.” It was scary enough to cut my hours back after Zygote, but I knew that I was still bringing in a decent paycheck. To leave the corporate life behind entirely means leaving behind money, and that terrifies me to my core for the following list of random reasons*:

*NOTE: These are all MY reasons and don’t really reflect the realities of our marriage in any way. YG remains the most awesome of husbands and is not driving these thoughts. It's all my stuff -- most of which could be filed away in the whole ‘way you were raised’ drawer of shit.

· If I don’t make as much money, my needs become less important. When we both work the same amount, we both can ask for what we need – like time to go to the gym or out with friends or to watch whatever the hell tv we want to watch.

· If I don’t make as much money, I don’t get a say in our money. I have always been in control of my own finances – bought my own house, have the 401k, have to IRA, have Zygote’s 529, etc. Would working less mean giving some of that up? If YG gets transferred across the world, do I have a choice? If YG thinks we should pay off all our debt, do I have a say? Right now I do, but what about later?

· If I don’t make money, my career doesn’t really count. I don’t want my career to be just another thing we try to squeeze into our really busy lives. Right now, it matters because it helps pay the bills. If it doesn’t pay the bills, is it still important? From a mental health perspective, yes, but what if my job is just something else to schedule around?

· If I don’t make money, I won’t be taken seriously as an employee. I will be just a wife and just a mom and just an order taker and…

· Total transparency about what I spend my money on. Right now, we have my money, his money and our money. We spend within reason, but if I want to buy a sweater or a round of drinks for my friends, I do and I don’t really think about it. If I don’t bring in money, does YG get to tell me what I can and cannot spend on? Is it going to be all Sophie’s choice between clean bikini line and college education for the kids?

And probably the biggest, and therefore, least rationale of the bunch:

· What else would I do for work?

· What if I decide to leave the corporate life and feed the poor, and I become financially dependent on YG, and then he trades me in for a newer model or gets terribly sick and I have to raise all these kids by myself on a crappy salary?

· What if I’m not actually good at anything besides being a cog in the machine?

We have some time to work this out, and I alternate between thinking that this is the most terrifying time of my life and also the most exciting. I never really thought about my career in detail – it just sort of happened. I thought I would be writing stories and working at a coffee shop, so when something different happened, I just went with it. I have never asked myself the question, “What do you want to do every day?” Until now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sick Thinking

I am sick. Not my usual sick in the head, but actually sick. I had a really bad cold that flattened me before I left for Conference, and then caught something on the way back that will just not leave. I've got bronchitis. I've got a sinus infection. Because of Z2, I can't take much, so it's all about staying hydrated which means that I am up to pee almost every single hour. End result: exhausted, head achey, and was bordering on miserable.

I have a tendency to blame myself when I get sick. Clearly, it's because I didn't do something right. I didn't eat well enough, I didn't exercise enough, I wash my hands the wrong way, whatever...because I am in control of everything, when things are not right (i.e. i get sick), it is because I lost control for a second. I know. The first time I told that someone, she looked at me like I had ten heads.

"When someone gets cancer, do you think it's because they did something wrong?"

"WHAT?" "No, that's insane."

"But when you get sick, it's because YOU did something wrong?"

Blank stare from me. I am a fairly logical and reasonable person. Except when I am the topic.

So here I am, feeling like someone is hammering away at my temples and panting like a dog whenever I have to do something that resembles physical activity. And trying desperately to stay out of my head.

I don't know if I have a point here. Probably not. That is a problem with trying to write every day -- I very rarely have a point. However, I stumbled across this little bit of wisdom over on Medicinal Marzipan that I loved:

"The difference between loving yourself and not loving yourself is not in the things that you do it is in the way that you feel when you are doing them. It means being honest and brave, and not spiraling into a pit of self-hatred when you don’t like what you see or how you feel. It means reassessing, doing what is best, and being very, very sweet to yourself when you are scared. It means proving to your body that you are capable of providing a safe and healthy environment to grow and flourish. It means melting away the shame that you’ve developed over the years about your size. It means going to bat for yourself, the way you would for someone that you love."

It doesn't entirely relate, but I am trying to stay out of the pit right now. Get better, sleep, rest, take care of myself. All of that stuff I'm supposed to be doing but don't. Advice I would give a friend, but don't follow. Trying to feel as okay as I can.