Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Work/Play Balance.

Today was a wonderful combintation of work and play -- both with present staff and with staff from the non-profit health education organization where I worked from 2001 until earlier this year (before working at Microsoft).

Here is our entire current staff, two of whom celebrated a birthday yesterday! I had decorated the office for them and we shot this photo just before taking down some of the decorations. By next week at this time there will be five of us, and by the next week there will likely be six or more... so these relatively quiet days are numbered.

For lunch today, I joined some ex-cohorts, all of who now work downtown, for a Thai lunch. There are a few more "downtown people" who couldn't make it today, so we're gonna try to get together for lunch once a month or so and reminisce about the good ol' days before our beloved former organization began sinking into the depths of non-profit direction-less oblivion.

After work I met my former boss/current dear friend for a drink since she couldn't make it to lunch. She's the new CEO for a local web-based company and she's as overwhelmed as I am with the new respnsibilities. Even though she's no longer my boss, I think she'll always be my mentor and friend. And damn -- I forgot to get a picture of us with our glass of wine and "lemondrop" cocktail! That would have been fun! Oh well... next time.

I'm still posting blog entires on my PC laptop (although I am "becoming assimilated" to the Mac, as my co-workers predicted I would), because I haven't had time to really figure out iPhoto yet. This weekend I must remember to explore that program!

Off to bed. Eyes are closing...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, January 29, 2007


What a great day! Today everything came together and it felt really smooth. I made an offer to my two top choices for two important positions and both accepted! Now I'm into territory I know and love -- team-building, collaboration, and mutual goal-setting. Sounds like corporate gobbledygook, but I mean it in a way that's far from the trite jargon. I am so excited to work with both the women I hired today! They'll both start next Monday, bringing our office up to a whopping FIVE people! We're still deep into interviewing, though, with four key positions yet to fill soon and a few still after that.

I was the only one in my office who DIDN'T celebrate a birthday today! Yup, both my co-workers share a birthday today, though they're three years apart. Eva and I drove into Seattle yesterday and decorated the office, so both were greeted by plenty of birthday hoopla. And as it turns out (because my boss' friend had to cancel a b-day dinner celebration and E and I had decided to get together after her weekend in LA), my boss, my daughter and I went to Buca di Beppo's for dinner tonight and had an absolutely wonderful time! Those two are WAAAAY alike -- which is quite entertaining for me! My boss already feels like a great friend and I really enjoy his company, his mentoring and his support. Plus, he's hilarious and keeps me laughing!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Three Seasons in One!

Every once in a while, Seattle gets to enjoy a clear, crisp, sunny winter day. Today is one of those days, and after the months we've had, people are out in droves enjoying the sunshine, the blue skies and the crisp, clean beauty of a quintessential Pacific Northwest late winter day.

I encountered this leaf early this morning as I walked up the steep hill to Eva's house to pick her up for breakfast. I was walking because the road was icy and after a winter like ours, I didn't want to chance damage to the car. Ice crystals were clinging to the leaf which had persistently stuck around since fall, yet the sun was shining on it as well. It was a very cool sight -- sort of fall, winter and spring all wrapped into one!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

And Now I Can't Slow Down!

Since I started my new job on January 2nd, I've been in a constant state of hyper-focus. I've been on the go both physically and mentally since the first hour of the first day on the job. When I jump into something big like this I tend to throw my entire being into it. A few years ago, when I was producing FUEL and CHILL, it was the same thing. I lived and breathed that job and that production -- and I loved it. Same thing now. I absolutely LOVE this job, but it takes 110% of my focus, my energy and my brain and I'm in a constant state of BOTH exhileration and exhaustion. And actually, I'm fine with that because it's when I focus like this that I do my best work. I completely believe in the mission of this work -- high school reform in America -- and I'm so excited about the team we're building and the work we're doing, that I absolutely can't shut off my brain, even at night! I've been working long into the evenings, then dreaming abut work, and popping out of bed the next morning to drive into the office (a 45 - 60 minute commute) before the sun rises... and stay till long after it sets.

Fortunately, the timing is good as far as the family is concerned. Elisabeth is concentrating on her career too, though she lives only 3 miles from my office, so we have plenty of opportunity to get together. Peter and Danelle are really busy with school and only come around (usually for dinner) once or twice a week. And Aleks and Kat each found someone special in the past faw months and are both completely twitterpated, so they've hardly noticed my increased absense. And Tom... well, we've actually had what seems like more time together -- possibly because we've often been meeting for dinner after work. Maybe all this will make the transition to empty-nest a bit easier...

I have felt guilty that I haven't had a chance to see Eva, the German foreign exchange student for who I'm a liaison, since Christmas. So tomorrow I'll take her out for breakfast and we'll have a chance to catch up on events. She's a hoot! And tomorrow afternoon I need to make reservations for Aleks' trip to both Germany this summer and to Washington DC to visit colleges this srping. And Kat wants to go on a California college hunting trip. I'll find a way to make it all happen. Not sure how, but I will.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, January 25, 2007

New Artwork

If I'm gonna be spending this much time in this office, I'm determined to make it feel cozy, relaxing (to the extent possible) and attractive.

The view helps a lot, but I wanted to instill a separate mood as well. I found these watercolor prints last night and fell in love with them!

Tom reminded me that I don't even like boats... which is actually not the case. I don't like boats with MOTORS in them. Motors that can crack and break and cost a fortune to repair! But I love peaceful, QUIET boats!

(Yes, our boat is still for sale, and we'll start advertising it again once the temperature surpasses 45 degrees and the sun is more than a fleeting and momentary visitor...)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sunrise from my Office

...or was it sunset? Heck, I've been there for both every day this week!

Still loving it, still overwhelmed, still inspired, still tired, still energized.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, January 22, 2007

Death: The Brain vs The Mind

When Mom was dying, we witnessed something that was miraculous. I still can't explain it logically, and not being the religious type, I also can't -- or won't -- explain it in terms of religion. But it was, quite simply, one of the most profound experiences of my life.

Here's what I wrote in my journal as I sat at the foot of Mom's bed on that Wednesday in April, 2004:

4/8/04 12:30 PM
Incredible. You absolutely insisted on having everything OFF – catheter, diaper, nightgown, even blankets. Everything! For a while, we couldn't’t figure it out, but it became apparent that you were determined to lie flat on the bed, in the light shining from the skylight, stark naked.

Then you shared where you are with us:

“It’s peaceful.”
Almost singing: “Where I’m gooooing!”
Helicopter (Hawaii? Alaska? Dad knew and he and Mom agreed…)
“Elisabeth ferien” (about their trip to Germany when Elisabeth was 13! This one made me sob, and I told Omi that Elisabeth is sooo much like her, it means I get to KEEP Omi through Elisabeth. She grimaced and “sobbed,” without a sound, a tear running down her cheek…)
“A lake”
“Floating in there.”
“She’ll be there.”
“Will (we’ll?) be ready.”
“_____ (name?) will be there.”
“I want to geh.” (Trying to get up and go with entire body… legs in cycling or hiking motion.)
And then, she did something she hadn’t done in two days: she opened her eyes and focused – on Dad – and said to him, clear as a bell, “Can you carry me over?”

For days before this happened, Mom couldn't speak or communicate. Then suddenly, and for only a few moments, she completely connected with us, sharing where she was in her journey to "the other side." It was a gift from her to us -- one that obviously took hard work and commitment. I still can't explain what happened, but it will always feel magical to me.

Tonight I read this in TIME magazine's feature on the human brain. I can hardly describe my excitement – yes, excitement! – at reading this. So someone else had experienced a loved one very close to death suddenly “coming back from the edge” to bid farewell to loved ones! And this doctor could confirm that David’s brain had been overtaken with cancer! He absolutely should not have been able to speak coherently to his family – at yet he did! According to Scott Haig, the doctor who wrote that article, David’s MIND took over his diseased brain, and it was his MIND that formed the words and the connections, not his brain.

Absolutely fascinating! If I hadn’t experienced something so similar, I’d be wondering too. And actually, I AM wondering! But in a way, I also love the mystery of it!

As one Hospice worker said when I explained Mom’s sudden and momentary clarity, “No one can really explain it all… some people who expect Jesus to come for them in purple velvet robes seem pretty surprised when it doesn’t happen that way. And some people who expect just to fade away and become dirt are pretty surprised when it doesn’t happen that way either!"

Some people might think this picture is a bit morbid, but I think it’s beautiful. This is Mom and me on that day when she shared her journey with us, just hours before she became “just a shell” and days before her body died.

I didn't sleep well the week that Mom died, so I'm not sure if this was a dream or more of a thought... but I remember wanting to pin a picture of Mom in her younger, more beautiful years, to her nightgown so the people at the mortuary could see who she was before cancer stole her vibrancy. The idea surely came from my kindergarten teacher pinning important notes to our clothes so parents would be sure to see them.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I Miss My PC!

I promised myself that I wouldn't take my Dell Inspiron 1405 (my beloved Dell!) out of my backpack all weekend -- that I MUST learn to use this MacBoob (too good a typo to fix!), come hell or high water.

Yeah, after a weekend of frustration, I've changed my tune.

Intuitive? BULL! How am I supposed to know that in order to eject a peripheral on a Mac you drag its icon to the TRASH?! That's not something I'd think to do... or risk experimenting with! I bought myself a Macs for Dummies book yesterday, but I have so much to do that I don't have time to read it -- only to refer to it in a panic. Constantly.

But I did get through the weekend without unpacking my (beloved) Dell laptop PC. When I do unpack it again, I'll lovingly toss confetti over it.

How long is it supposed to take for me to fall in love with a Mac again? Please remind me. And if anyone has a friendly way for me to get to know this strange machine, please do let me know! I'm not adverse to a love affair; I just have yet to feel any chemistry.

(Posted clandestinely from the PC in the spare bedroom.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Totally Frustrating Day(s)

I have to learn so much, so fast... about this company, this project, our funder, and about massive amounts of technology (including many new applications and an entirely new operating system). My energized enthusiasm has disintegrated (for today, anyway) into self-doubt and frustration. I am surrounded by brilliance and I feel like I can't keep up. I'm expected to know things that I have no way of knowing, or to just "feel" the right way to do things -- whether it's downloading programs onto a Mac (NOT intuitive, in my opinion!) or the procedure for electronically approving, signing, and submitting invoices.

I can lead and mentor teams better than I can install a new printer. I can oversee and maintain budgets and schedules better than I can convert a paper document into a PDF. And I can be a good team leader better than I can select a shredder (OK, that was easy). Because there are only three of us now, we're all of course expected to pitch in until we get the other nine people hired (back-to-back interviews next week, every day , all day!), and I'm absolutely fine with that. I just feel like I'm not pulling my own weight because the emphasis now isn't on the tasks that require my skills as much as on tasks that actually get us up and running -- and fortunately those more technical things are what my cohorts do well. I just hope that my boss isn't wondering whether he made the right decision in hiring me!

I'll feel more confident about all this in time, I'm sure. I'm just not feeling all that confident about it right now.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Then and Now

Just a few pictures to remind me how very fast time passes.

Elisabeth then

Elisabeth now(ish)

Peter then

Peter now(ish)

Aleks and Kat then (yes, we have pictures each of them alone, but I so love the ones of them together!)
and Kat now

We had four children within five and a half years. At one point, we had three in diapers, two nursing, one still using a bottle, three with pacifiers, and all four at home with me all day. I have never worked that hard (nor will I ever again, no matter how demanding my job career), nor have I ever felt that fulfilled. During those years, I barely ever got a moment to myself... and yet I was well aware how lucky we were to have four active, bright, loving children and I will always look at those years as the happiest of my life.

These days, with Elisabeth on her own, Peter and Danelle basically living together, and Kat and Aleks each with jobs and busy social lives, I never know who will home in the evenings. Sometimes all seven of us miraculously end up at home for dinner together and sometimes it's just Tom and me -- and I rarely have any advance notice as to who will be home and who won't... which makes dinner time around here quite interesting! (When I do cook -- only a few times a week these days -- it's usually easily expandable as well as easily "leftover-able!)

I know that I could never have a career and a job like I do now if I still had four small kids at home, and I'm grateful that I was able to come back to my career after seven years at home with kids. But I'd never have done it any differently. I simply couldn't have worked when the kids were very small, and I'm so glad I didn't. No matter how much I love my career now (and I do), I wouldn't have traded those years at home for anything in the world. Those years define who I am to the core; these years define where I am in the timeline of my life.

In less than two years we'll be empty nesters. Now THERE'S a scary thought!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cool New Toy!

Greeting me when I walked into my new office this morning was a very sleek and "cute"little " Mac Book Pro! I tried not to squeal when I saw it, and sighed a pseudo-professional, "wow, very cool!" instead. But inside I was definitely squealing. This thing is not only sleek and cute, it's a real powerhouse -- yet light and small enough to travel with easily... which is apparently why this machine was chosen for me.

Unfortunately, I had no time to get acquainted with my new toy today because the day was jam-packed with a conference call, then back-to-back meetings at the Foundation. Tomorrow and Friday should be just as crazy, with more meetings and preparation for non-stop interviewing next week. Maybe this weekend I'll have a chance to explore this little guy. (I've never felt like referring to my Dell Inspiron as a "little guy"!)
Transferring my files to my Mac Book should be a breeze because I recently bought myself another little toy, a Western Digital Passport 160 gig hard drive. Even with my gazillions of photos, ten years of career documents, and quite a bit of music, I've barely made a dent in the storage capacity. 160 gig is way too much for anyone to ever use up! (Ha ha... famous last words?!)

Is it possible that I actually have some geekiness in me after all?!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

OK, This is Just Getting OLD!

Today was supposed to be our first day in the new Seattle office, but we woke up yet again to freezing temperatures -- which re-froze the snow that had melted in the sun yesterday. Needless to say, this made for yet another horrendous commute and the three of us decided via IM to work at home again and postpone our first office day until tomorrow. As much as I liked not having to brave the conditions out there, I was sad not to move into my office with the cool view of the (snowy) Space Needle and EMP!

Tomorrow we definitely need to head in to the office though, because we have meetings all day with our content developers and the Gates Foundation. I should sharpen my skates (and leave home at midnight) because it might be the only way to get there after tonight's freeze!

I'm ready for Spring -- even a typical Seattle Spring, which consists of (simply) rain, clouds and fog.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, January 15, 2007

My Favorite Christmas Gift

A few days after Christmas, a package came in the mail from my aunt Ulli. In it were two thick manuscripts, each almost 300 pages long, entitled Letters from Chemnitz. Volume I is marked "1905 - 1939" and volume II is marked "1940 - 1945." These 600 pages of transcribed letters -- which took Ulli literally years to translate -- are not only a chronicle of life in a "privileged mixed marriage" in Germany before and during World War II (my grandfather, a wealthy banker and art collector, was Jewish), they are also a testimony to the lost art of letter writing. Contained in the books are hundreds of letters that begin by depicting a blissful everyday life in an upper middle class German family in the 20's and early 30's... and which end with the desperate and tragic final days of World War II, days which included the death of my grandfather by an American bomb -- a direct hit to his house in Chemnitz.

The letters are mostly from my grandmother to her mother (which begin in 1905, when my grandmother was just 12), but the books also include other letters, most notably those written by my grandfather after my grandmother's death from a brain tumor in 1944 when my father was just 13. The final letters at the end of the war reflect the desperation that gripped everyone in Germany during that time, but especially Jews -- even those who had been raised as Christians, like my grandfather.

The early letters describe happy family vacations, an idyllic home life with abundant household help, frequent parties and all the comforts of life in a normal, happy German family. Some letters describe the confusion my grandmother felt as she attempted to keep life as normal as possible, even as my grandfather's status as a Jew became more and more of an issue. The last letters were from my always-orderly and conscientious grandfather (a trait my father definitely inherited!) to my father and uncle and were written during the desperate months at the end of the war, months during which all households housed many, many refugee families, letters written during a time when food, electricity and transportation were scarce to non-existent, and letters written full of hope just days before my grandfather's death in March, 1945.

I am riveted by what I'm reading, not only because it gives me a glimpse into my father as a child (his mother even describes his birth in a letter to her mother!) and into the very strong and loving family in which he was raised (which, I believe, is why he and his siblings remained loving, positive, and well-balanced in the ensuing years, even after losing both parents when they were just children), but I'm riveted also because it provides a detailed chronology of the devastating effect World War II had on one family in Germany.

And now, back to reading!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Lazy Day at Home

(...and we have tomorrow off too!)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, January 13, 2007

All Work and All Play

...makes this girl very happy! Friday was an intense work day, filled with back-to-back meetings in which I met people with whom I’ll work on a regular – though remote – basis from here on out. The company I work for is actually located in the Bay Area, but because of our new contract with the Gates Foundation, a new Seattle satellite office was formed. So this trip was my opportunity to meet people in the Bay Area office with whom I’ll have regular contact, from administrative assistants to the CEO (who I like a lot and with whom I had a very pleasant conversation). It’s taken me almost two weeks to really wrap my head around this project, around my responsibilities, and around the anticipated intensity of the next seven months – after which things should calm down considerably. But the meetings (including breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings) yesterday really helped me to do that. And I love this position more than I ever even thought I would! How did the company know the job was perfect for me? How did they know that I was the right person for this job? I think my boss really trusts his instincts (I know – not very common among men!), and I like him even more for having that sort of approach! He’s the kind of person who gave me a big heartfelt hug when we met up in the Bay Area on Thursday evening. This job will take much heart, much energy and must passion and he definitely has that. He’s anything but a staid, distant manager; instead I see him as a partner, a mentor and a friend – and I think he might have hired me because he saw the potential for exactly those important qualities in me. I hope.

I’ve been so lucky to have two great managers lately. My previous boss and I have become dear friends – which has definitely been the best part of leaving that position. I credit her with not only my ability to land this job, but for the very positive minute-to-minute and day-to-day interactions I've had so far. In fact, in this new position I am constantly asking myself “WWDD?” (D is my former manager) and she is unknowingly continuing to mentor me in that way. Fortunately, she started a new job just a few blocks from my new office on the same day I started my new job, so we’ll be able to meet regularly for lunch. In fact, quite a few of us from the (sinking) non-profit for whom I used to work, now work downtown, so I have a feeling we’ll have regular get-togethers!

Today has been a non-stop play day as much as yesterday was a non-stop work day. After I had a chance to sleep in, my “baby brother” (ha!) picked me up from my hotel, which is just a few miles away from his house. As we headed back to his place, he told me about his recent dilemma (we should all be so lucky): after more than 20 years as a well-loved, innovative, hugely successful junior high school science teacher, he has been wooed by a progressive Gates-Foundation-like think-tank activist educational organization. They desperately want him to take over the helm of this wonderful organization – and he IS, I agree, the absolutely perfect person for the job. He has a completely unique perspective about education as it relates to business, as it relates to technology, and as it relates to innovation and positive activism. No, he doesn’t know Bill Gates personally… though he should! You’d think he’d jump at this opportunity, but it’s actually presenting quite a qualm for him, as he likes the security of classroom teaching (and tenure) and is apprehensive about “taking a chance in the nonprofit world.”

My take on his mid-life crisis is that it’s time that he make some brave new choices – for the sake of a much larger group of learners than 30 kids in a classroom. What he knows about teaching and education – both acquired knowledge and intuition – is phenomenal, and I think that it’s time that he shares his knowledge and his passion with a much broader range of both educators and students. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is by taking the plunge (even if it’s a bit nerve-wracking and challenges his acute need for stability) and accepting the position with the nonprofit. So bro, if you’re reading this, that’s my take on it. We NEED you in this “other” education arena! I don’t think you realize how MUCH the world needs educators like you to share your ideas, your passion and your knowledge! Believe me when I say to you that things DO work out – even without a big nest egg “just in case” (heck, we’ve never had one and somehow things work out). You might even find that making a bold move in the direction of the nonprofit is FREEING and invigorating, allowing you to broaden your horizons that allow you a different sort of independence and a different sense of security (consulting? self-employment?).

And who knows – you might like that new sense of freedom so much that you make other changes in your life that might have seemed scary when your measure of security and independence was more financial than personal and intellectual.

Enough soapbox stuff from big sis! The BEST part of the day has undoubtedly been the time I got to spend with my brother’s “four ladies” – his three adorable, wonderful daughters and his loving and emotionally generous wife. His oldest daughter, H, is amazingly knowledgeable about what I’ll call “the state of the earth.” At 9, she knows more about the necessity for social responsibility than most adults I know. She told me all about An Inconvenient Truth (which she watched at school!) and about the social and societal impact of Katrina and the ’04 Tsunami. And she and her sisters even baked cookies on their own to raise money for the victims of those two tragedies! Her little sister, A, is the most poetic 7-year-old I’ve known. She doesn’t write poetry (or maybe she does?!), but she speaks poetically – with a gift for stringing words together beautifully and for exquisite expression of her thoughts. And O – at 4 – is so absolutely SWEET that I just feel like gobbling her up – especially when she begs me, with a tear in her eye, not to leave. My heart just melts! And A, my sister-in-law…well, if only my brother’s family weren’t such sun bunnies, maybe I could convince them to move to Seattle and A and I could be best friends… because we would be!! I love her honestly and her warmth!

Lest you think I’d let TWO days pass without posting some pictures, here are a few from my day – O and her American Girl Doll (I’d say there are TWO “American Girl Dolls” in the picture!), all three girls (A, H and O, along with Bonnie the Beagle), H and A, showing off the handmade gifts they gave my brother for his recent birthday, the girls giving me a “spa treatment” which consisted of brushing my hair and massaging my head (yes, I WAS in heaven!!), and the whole wonderful family! I love you guys!

(Written from the plane, returning to still-snowy and icy Seattle.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, January 11, 2007

From Snowy Seattle to Sunny Santa Cruz

Today was one of those long travel days -- and it's about to get longer, since I still have an 8 PM business meeting. But this time nothing went hugely wrong. The shuttle got me to the airport on time (though we had a few scary slippy-slidy moments on the ice rink they call roads), the flight left on time, a rental car was waiting for us, and the road to Santa Cruz was surpisingly open.

Here's a picture chronology of the day (does posting this sort of blog entry count as a call home?):

Snow at our house -- again!

Mt. Rainier in the background; SeaTac Airport in the foreground.

The Golden Gate Bridge, with Tiberon, Angel Island and Alcatraz in the Bay.

San Francisco and the Bay Bridge.

Stanford University, my alma mater.

Beautiful Santa Cruz (the dots are surfers... waiting).

Santa Cruz Lighthouse -- er, I mean the Santa Cruz Museum of Surfing.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Helllloooooo Out Therrrrrrrre!

I often wonder who reads my blog. And apparently, some of my blogging friends have been wondering the same thing about their own blogs, because someone came up with "de-lurking week" -- which makes me feel better, since it means I'm not entirely ego-centric (or that they are?!).

Believe it or not, I live for comments on my blog. OK, that's not entirely true, but it does kind of make my day when people leave me feedback, comments, questions, requests for used sweaters (you know who you are... one of my favorite readers!) , and sometimes even recipes!

So be bold! Introduce yourself! Who are you and what brings you to my humble blog? Don't be shy; I'd love to "meet" you! And if I already know you, oly-oly-oxen-free!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Deja Snow!

The snow is falling fast and furious right now.

Tom didn't even attempt to drive home from work tonight. Instead, he left his truck in the parking lot and just started walking home -- about a 7 mile trek! And that's where he is as I write this. I expect him home in maybe an hour or two -- and he'll probably be freezing cold because, as far as I remember, he was wearing only a fleece vest over his work shirt!

The Pacific Northwest has just been battered this winter like never before! Between the ice storm in late November, the wind storm in December, and now this in January, one can hardly argue that global warming is having an impact! Usually Seattlites are thrilled by that one fun nowstorm per year -- school is cancelled, kids go sledding, and everyone's happy. But this winter things are very different. It seems that we're just constantly being pummeled by the weather!

So I'm off to pack for California, where the weather is unfortunately not sunny and glorious... but not snowy and freezing cold, either. Let's just hope I actually arrive tomorrow and don't encounter another airline/airport fiasco!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

A Biz Trip -- I Actually Missed Those!

I'm headed to the California Bay Area tomorrow morning for what I'm sure will be the first of many business trips to come in this new position. Fortunately, I like to travel... airport hassles aside. I have a feeling that the biggest hassle will be getting to SeaTac airport, since it's been snowing here and a freeze is forecast for tonight. Fortunately, I'm leaving that driving to Shuttle Express!

My schedule on Friday is jam-packed with meetings, from early morning till late afternoon, and I have a feeling I'll be exhausted when I'm done. I've definitely been going through a major case of information overload in the last two weeks!

On Saturday, I'll get to play with my three adorable nieces and visit with my brother and sister-in-law, who will be seeing more of me in the future, since they live just a stones throw from the company's headquarters! You KNOW I'll be posting pictures of and writing about adventures with these hilarious girls, ages 9, 7 and 4.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What Not to Wear: Home Edition!

Elisabeth dove into Tom's closet in disgust last night, ruthlessly tossing/throwing/verbally shredding many of his favorite articles of clothing that he's had for the past twenty or so years. Overheard during this process:

  • "The universe goes on forever and comes out the other end. That's how bad this shirt is, Dad. It's so bad that it's almost becoming cool again!"
  • "Dad, this jacket has a strap that you actually tighten around your waist. Women did that in the 80's! Give it to some nice, deserving woman!"
  • "This one has got to go. Little kids who carry lunchboxes with Fruit Snacks in them wear Lands' End!"
  • "It's not just 80's woman, it's pregnant 80's woman! Get it out of here!"
  • "It's flannel. Remember, we talked about flannel."
  • So what if it's a London Fog! If you're in London, in the fog, maybe you can wear it then. Probably not."
Lest you think my closet escaped her ruthless scrutiny:
  • "Don't you feel like a pedophile, Dad? You married a woman with THIS in her closet!"
  • "Do you have a jumper to go with this blouse? A pink lunchbox? Hair ribbons?"
  • "Dad, take Mom on a safari. She has the perfect wardrobe for getting lost in an African jungle!"
It was traumatic! So cruel! But our closets are significantly emptier now. And these five big, full bags are headed for the Goodwill... and I to the MALL! :-)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, January 08, 2007

So... this new job

So you're wondering what, specifically, I'm doing in this new job, eh? (OK, maybe you're not!) I can't divulge specific details, but I can tell you that my staff (yup -- I'm still reviewing resumes) and I will be responsible for creating "something" for the Gates Foundation that will support education reform in high schools across America. With nearly half of all African-American and Latino ninth graders dropping out of school these days, the need for education reform became obvious and the Gates Foundation hired the company I now work for to make an impact in one area of education reform -- high school reform.

As a document released by the Gates Foundation attests, the impact of a stronger educational foundation is "larger than securing economic and civic health; by building upon young people's intellectual assets and critical thinking skills, we can significantly reduce their risk for violence, drug abuse, unintended pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, which has reached a state of emergency among under0served populations."

Obviously, my day-to-day responsibilities don't address the specific health concerns listed above (though my work with my previous employer did), and my current focus is only on education reform. But I'm hopeful that I am, in some small way, making a difference. I don't think I could ever again work in a job in which I don't do something that makes a difference -- which my recent stint at Microsoft proved!

(The interview for this job was referred to in this post.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Sound/Memory Connection

We always hear about the connection between smell and memory -- with the classic example being the smell of paste and the memory of wetting one's pants in first grade -- but I just had the most intense SOUND memory connection!

Mom loved nuts, especially almonds and hazelnuts, and any chance she'd get she'd sit at the kitchen table and crack nut after nut. The sequence of sounds was completely predictable: rustling through the bowl for the right nut, cracking the nut with one solid CRACK, placing the nutcracker on the table, digging the meat of the nut out of the shell, and chewing the crunchy reward... to be repeated over and over again, providing a steady cadence to conversation or background music (always classical), or sometimes as a solo.

As Tom came into the kitchen while I was cracking a nut, I asked him if the sound reminded him of my mother. "Nope," he said, "It reminds me of cracking nuts for Christmas cookies with my mother." And then he recited a memory of his mother that for him must be as vivid as my own memories of my mother.

Interesting stuff, that sensory-memory connection!

(Side note: The bowl in the photo is the result of my one and only attempt at glassblowing!)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, January 06, 2007

My LEAST Favorite Part of the Holidays

...is this part -- cleaning up and putting away.

In the same way that bringing out the boxes and gleefully unwrapping each item in December feels so joyous and hopeful, breaking it all down, wrapping it all up, and shoving it all back into the dark closet in January feels so sad and disheartening.

Seattle is wonderful, and in August there's no place on earth like our Emerald City. Even after 15 years, I can't get over how the summer air smells like camping in the Pacific Northwest. It's glorious! And the spring months in Seattle have their own charm -- teasing, hopeful, ever-changing. But the dead-of-winter months -- January until March --can be excruciating around here. And this year, with all its bizarre weather, seems to be especially so. The cold, the wind and the rain are relentless and cruel, and those who are prone to S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder -- a real diagnosis!) suffer horribly during those months.

I always picture a chapter from Little House on the Prairie, in which Laura Ingalls and her family just sit in their dark little cabin as the wind whirls and the snow piles up outside... waiting, waiting, waiting for any sign that spring is around the corner.

So today, in between the incessant work tasks (I don't expect that to let up until at least July), I'll methodically put all our holiday joy into dark, cold boxes and move them into that dank, hidden space under the steps to wait out another year. And, as I do every year as I put that last box away, I'll say a little prayer (well, as close to a prayer as I ever get) that our family will again be healthy and happy when we bring the holiday boxes out again next year.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, January 04, 2007

If I See One More Resume Today...

...I'll scream!!

I have to hire at least eight positions in the next few weeks and, although some resumes are truly impressive, I have yet to understand why a self-proclaimed "mountain man" would include his wife's name and her age, as well as his kids' accomplishments, in his resume, which he submitted in pursuit of an IT position! Or why a bank loan officer, who has NO content experience whatsoever would apply for a Project Liaison/Content Development position!

On the other end of the spectrum, why would someone with a Masters degree in Information Technology, a high school teaching credential, and a Microsoft Development Certification apply for what's basically a secretarial position?

I've learned more about what constitutes a good resume in the past day than I ever learned on the OTHER side of the process, as a job-seeking applicant! (I've done this hiring gig before, so why do I always forget what it's like to pore over stacks and stacks of resumes?!)

Tomorrow morning we'll have our first big meeting at the Gates Foundation to meet all their key education players. Truly, I'm so excited about it! When I accepted the job, my boss warned me that we'd "hit the ground running." He wasn't kidding! I've worked pretty much non-stop since the minute I walked into that coffee house on Tuesday! But I absolutely love the job, the responsibility, the mission, the product and the people.

What more could I ask?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My New Office

We took a field trip today to our new downtown(ish) office digs. This is the view from my office:

And in the other direction (the beautiful new Gates Foundation complex -- to be finished in '09 or '10! -- will be in the foreground):

Unfortunately, I have massive amounts of work to do before tomorrow. I promise to post more substance this weekend (while Tom and Peter remove the tree from the hot tub!).

Stumble Upon Toolbar
Related Posts with Thumbnails