Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hi there. I moved.

After long, long bouts of thinking things through, I decided that I wanted a not-so-anonymous blog. That is, one with my name on it.

Rather than put my name on this one, which would mean going through all previous posts and figuring out if I was OK with them not being anonymous, I started over at a new address.

I prefer not to create an actual link, but if you're interested, you can find the new blog at:  this however dot blogspot dot com.

Best wishes to anyone still watching this space! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


6:15am: Wake abruptly, having realized what was bugging me about that request-for-proposal I got yesterday.

6:18am: Lie in bed, figuring out what to do about it and designing the presentation slides to explain it to others.

7:15am: Get up and draw the slides on some scrap paper.

8:50am: Breakfast

9:45am: Get lost on way to doctor appointment.

10:05am: Doctor appointment.

10:50am: Stop for a cupcake. I *need* a cupcake.

11am: Accidentally (ie, due to cupcake stop) miss my team’s daily standup meeting.

11:30am: Realize that *this* meeting can be cancelled. Aha! Reply to email instead.

12noon: Meeting about taxes.

1pm: Meeting about ... I’ve forgotten.

2pm: Training session about how to be a better Product Manager.

3:30pm: Meeting about whether this thing I’m designing will also work for somebody else’s team.

4pm: Meeting about the overlap between that presentation I started this morning and R’s designs.

5pm: Start getting the slides off my scrap paper and into the computer.

6:30pm: Oh, right, I needed to pay those bills. Online bill pay. And did Fry’s actually refund me for that thing I returned? Yes? Okay, good. 

7pm: Inner monologue:
- You said you were going to leave work earlier today.
- Uh-huh.
- So. You going to get out of here and go work on your book?
- I’m tired! I’ve been up since 6:15!

7:10pm: Get up, leave desk, out to car, start driving to library. Inner monologue continues: 
- But if you don’t work on the book tonight, then when are you going to?
- But I’m tired!
- [Pause] Well, what would you rather do instead? Watch TV?
- [Sighs] There’s never anything on....
- You could go to the gym.
- [Disdainful silence]
- Or go home and vacuum. How about vacuuming?
- [More disdainful silence]
- Well, you could read.
- [Inner inner monologue] But you know, lately reading seems so flat compared to writing!
- Well, what are you going to do then? Come on, it’s only 7pm. You know you won’t go to sleep for at least a couple of hours. What would you rather do than write? There must be something.
- [Inspiration!] I could write a blog post to procrastinate!

7:47pm: Finish blog post....

Friday, October 30, 2009


The pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting is calling. Also the donut, the caramel apple, the frosted cookie, the cream of chestnut soup, the jamon-manchego sandwiches, the green beans with blue cheese cream sauce, the deep-fried artichoke hearts....

The air has gotten colder, the trees are changing color, I turned the heater on for the first time last night, and my body desperately, desperately wants to gain about eight pounds - ideally in the next week.

So far I'm holding it off at two.

But in the back of my head, I wonder: isn't gaining weight for the cold season exactly what mammals are supposed to do? Wouldn't I be warmer over the next few months if I gained a nice cozy layer of insulating fat?

Then I think about going shopping for a whole new set of jeans.

My hand hovers, hesitating, over the oh-so-tempting plate of Friday morning donuts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Over-Scheduled Adult

(The person who inspired this post doesn’t read this blog. And I’m at least as bad at this as her, anyway!)

I had plans tonight. I really did. But when my husband asked me this morning what I was doing tonight, I told him, then added, “... but she’ll probably cancel. I did, last time,” and he nodded, understanding.

So off I went to work. I sent an email: “we still on?” and got back, no surprise, “Actually, I’m sorry but....”

And thus the round continues. I forget which of us cancelled first, but this is about the fourth time, or maybe the sixth. Last time it was me. It’s easy: we email, we ping, we add to our various electronic calendars. We agree and then at the last minute...we had a prior engagement. We’re getting sick. I’m so sorry but.... Meeting up for dinner sounds oh-so-attractive when it’s a couple of weeks away. Up close...other things impinge.

I can’t help contrasting it with a recent trip to NY, where social plans went something like this: “...dinner...?” “Love to! 7pm?” over and over and over, so that I wound up with plans on no fewer than six nights out of eight. Not one person cancelled; not one person changed a time or a place. And one, I swear, sounded surprised when I emailed her on day-of to confirm.

Which leads me to wonder: what’s different about New York? It’s sure not less busy; there’s just as much going on. (“Oh, please, there’s more going on!” the average New Yorker would probably claim.) And the usual human priorities remain: self, significant other, friends, work, in some combination of importance and varieties of labelling.

So what’s the difference?

Out here in CA I am situated in, living on, gripping with the edges of my psychological fingers, the edge of the crazy roiling tech-hub of the world. New York, as far as I can tell, thinks cellphones and "The InterWebz" are nice and all but is still inclined to give a virtual shrug and go do something else.

So is it just the technology? Is it knowing that thanks to a last-minute text, no one is left standing at the bar? The ability to change plans at the last minute means that instead of shamefacedly getting up from a restaurant table, whoever got stood up can quietly drive from work to home, shrug it off in an empty kitchen, move on with an evening only slightly different than planned.

Rescheduling is easy too: an email, an invitation online. No cost, no effort, except that we’ve done it over and again now how many times?

In theory, I’d imagine that with constant connection we’d make more plans, not fewer; see each other more frequently, not less. I love the idea of being able to plan something at the last minute. There was the day another friend called, “I have to run an errand near your house. Want to get coffee?” and she reached me even though I was out for a walk - I had my phone. I love this. I do.

But that's the exception. And so I wonder, if we couldn’t do all this, if plans were harder to make and harder to break - would we be more inclined to show up?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You know what the problem is?

Everyone tells you you should have a baby. And then...

...if you think maybe you do want one, you wonder if you're just succumbing to peer pressure. But...

...if you think maybe you don't want one, you wonder if you're just reacting to peer pressure.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009


"Hey!" said a voice to my right. Late afternoon or early evening in Palo Alto: quiet streets, the sun still high enough to cast patches of brightness and shadow on the sidewalk. I stopped and looked around. Sitting at a small table outside a newish Mexican place were two guys I used to work with. "How's it going?" said B. "Sit down, have some food!"

So I did. "How are things?" I asked. B's at a startup, his own. Two years ago I was following in his footsteps - literally, as I stepped in to take over his role at the Big Tech Company when B switched projects. Now B's life is so different from mine that I barely know what to ask about. He's happy, clearly, but it's a dream I don't understand. He has a one-room office in a VC's building, and a rooftop seating area enclosed by paintings of a beautiful marsh, and a whole lot of candy next to the desk he shares with his co-founders, and a giant model airplane in the lobby, and fifteen engineers in India. To him it's freedom. To me it's ... alien. And irrelevant. I can't imagine choosing it. But I like B, and I keep thinking that what he wants is going to start making sense to me just as soon as I figure it out.

"It's great!" B said. "Things are good!" We ate chips and ordered: mole, tostadas, soup. "How about you?" he asked. I thought I saw doubt in his eyes. I've been working on the same team for a long time; at the same company, even longer. It feels strange even to me. I never expected to be this stable, and in many ways I don't like it at all. And yet....

"Things are good!" I said. "I'm working on stuff I'm really happy about, things that're going to make a difference in the world."

And only once I said it did I realize it was true. I've been so focused on wondering if I was doing the right thing, wondering if I was returning to work in a sustainable way that would let me stay, wondering if I was stupid not to be chasing a startup dream or a higher salary, wondering if I had the right job and the right project and the right manager, that I haven't really stopped to think about the project at hand and whether it matters that anyone is doing it, let alone me. And yet in this case, the project does matter - or has the potential to matter, or so I believe. Conditionally, for now, at least. And apparently that's enough to make me happy.

Sometimes it's good that people ask how things are going.

If you get a chance to try red Oaxacan mole, you really should. That's good, too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Was Here

Back in the day, a good friend of mine used to say she was making all her old theater t-shirts into a quilt. Into the Woods, Fiddler on the Roof, You Can’t Take It With You: all there, in warm and snuggly knit, ready for winter nights. 

A few days ago, inspired by purchase of a new skateboard, I dug through my parents’ garage in search of the wristguards I got during a rollerblading phase. Among other things, I found the chain-cleaner for my bike; steel-toed boots; a metric tape measure; a small pink baby carriage; a black widow spider (I think); a couple of magnetic flashlights; and not one, but two pairs of the rollerblades themselves. I’d forgotten I had two pairs. 

Eventually I found the wristguards. I’d also forgotten how scraped up they were. 

I looked at the things spread around me. I looked at the rollerblades & the steel-toed boots; these are not things that last if they’re not used. It was surprisingly easy to send them off to the charitable organization that would be making the rounds the next week. 

Before I remembered that the wristguards were in the garage, I made a briefer foray into the closet of my childhood-teenage-high-school bedroom. In one end were two boxes labelled “Clothes to sort.” 

The morning after I dug up the wristguards, I opened the boxes. 

Again, most of it was surprisingly easy to let go. Query: am I going to wear velvet floral leggings again? Answer: I most sincerely hope not. Let’s help things turn out that way, huh? But at the bottom of one box I found them: Fiddler on the Roof, Jesus Christ Superstar, Class of ‘95, and a red tank top that somehow always wound up on my best nights out. 

I’m thinking of making a quilt.