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We’re Not Done Yet. Oh No.

When I was 13, I had an amazing group of teachers, one of whom was Mr. Meinecke, who taught social studies. He was a long-haired hippie who wore cowboy boots and jeans every day, but he was razor sharp and world-weary. Two things about Mr. Meinecke stick out in my mind: once, he caught me trying to pull my hair back with a rubber band (not a hair elastic, and actual, office supply rubber band) and he said, “Sarah, you’re going to absolutely RUIN your hair that way”, and the other was that he introduced me to the term “feminist”.

“You’re a feminist, you know that?” he said to me one day during classroom banter.

“A what?” I asked. I wasn’t often labeled.

“A feminist. It’s someone who fights for women’s rights. Equality and whatnot.”

I remember being genuinely confused. “There’s a WORD for that? For wanting equality?”

It would be far from the last time I wore that moniker.


In high school, we were asked what our career paths were. There were standardized aptitude tests – those tried to sway me towards “administrative tasks” or “educational careers” – or there were sessions with guidance counselors. There were so many ways that we were encouraged to explore our potential, but you know, not TOO far.

My sessions always went like this.

“So – checking name on the paper – Sarah, what would you like to be when you grow up?”

“President.”

:: crickets ::

“No, really. What would you like to be?”

“President.”

“Okay, president of WHAT?”

“The United States. President of the United States.”

“Let’s try and focus on realistic goals.”

It’s actually in our senior time capsule and in lots of my senior year memorabilia – I wanted to be President of the United States. I look at that now and I think, I never said the first female president. I just said President. Because I had faith I wouldn’t be the first.


I could list the #YesAllWomen experiences here that I’ve had – the guy who brought me a banana daily to watch me eat it, the radio director who called me a whore in a staff meeting when I asked for a day off, the many MANY hands in inappropriate places when I was a server – but the truth is this: every exit interview I’ve ever had ended with my (always male) manager telling me, “You’ll never succeed in this new position. You’re setting yourself up for failure.”

I’ve had most of those guys work for me since. I’d like to say I’m better than that, and it’s a momentary victory, but it’s a victory nonetheless.


I have cried so many times this year in particular as I’ve watched women around me struggle. If I look at the statistics, how the demographics of women in management decline dramatically as you go up the charts of either age or management ranks, I have to concur. It’s because the stakes get bigger, the roadblocks seem more insurmountable, and the boys club gets airtight.

I remember on International Women’s Day (which, I can’t help but note, is also National Dog Day) that I shared my feelings The glass ceiling is just a façade that hides an iron barrier. You think you’re shattering something, but it’s only to stop us from trying once the shards fall.


I love politics. I’ve debated running – still debate running – to help institute change. But in my professional career, I’ve had much more effectiveness in positions where I could stay agile, unfettered by red tape or bureaucracy. I’ve satiated my political hunger by working through civilian forums – grassroots efforts or local council engagements – but maybe that time has ended.

Today was a monumental day.

I voted for a woman for president. President of the United States.

#imwithher


So America has made a declaration today. And because I’m an eternal optimist, I cried my eyes out all night and again this morning, but I came into work and looked at these people – my coworkers are my family, I love them deeply without reserve – and I knew that most of them voted on a different ticket than I did. I can’t assume that they were voting pro-misogyny or pro-racism or pro-homophobia or all of the things that were my BIG TICKET ITEMS. I have to assume that they are making a declaration in some other arena, not supporting the man behind the podium or his ill-conceived, small-minded words but supporting the party they believe in. I’m choosing to believe that we need to listen, to understand, to heal, and to recover. And we will.

This morning, I took a long hot shower, applied copious concealer under my eyes, penciled a smile on my lips, and straightened my glasses. We’re just getting started, y’all.

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Being a Woman in the Workplace, a Summary

True story – 99% of my unpublished drafts circle around what it means to be a woman in the workplace. I’ve written them out of anger, or out of a need for awareness, or sometimes even out of humor. I’ve written them in short bursts, long-form prose, and even (I promise) limericks. I think this is an important point because being a woman in the workplace is a very varied experience. Even my own views morph from day to day or interaction to interaction.

But let’s talk about the Woman Card.

Being a woman in the workplace is a challenge. And I’ve just come to realize that when someone (almost always a man) accuses a human being of using the woman card, it’s because the woman has been offered the usual courtesy and respect that they (almost always a man) has come to expect.

Example.

A man is presenting a problem or idea to a group of people. He is given total freedom to speak until he concludes. The group of people asks questions; the man answers. The man is utilizing “team work.”

A woman is presenting a problem or idea to a group of people. She is given total freedom to speak until she concludes. The group of people asks questions; the woman answers. The woman is utilizing “the woman card.”

I’ve watched this. I’ve spent years in the back of the room for meetings, team reviews, program deep-dives, proposal efforts, what have you. I’m in the back of the room by choice; I could lean in and sit at the table, but the back of the room gives me a larger scope of view. I can see more. I can watch the dynamics of the room, and that always speaks just as loud – if not more loudly – than the players in the room. I see body language, unspoken cues, and facial expressions that most miss.

The Woman Card almost always can be reduced to a woman demanding the same time, respect, and attention given to her male counterparts. And the ones quick to point the finger at the “card holder” is naturally opposed to this level of respect being automatically offered.

CAVEAT: just as there are women who are truly awful and use unfair means to gain this basic respect, there are men who offer it without question. I’ve been at this for almost 15 years now. I’ve seen good examples of both.

I could give you a laundry list of scenarios where I’ve watched women try and claim the same level of HUMANITY that their male peers are offered just because of their genitalia, and I’ve seen people accuse them of terrible untruths – they’re obviously sleeping with someone in power, they’ve got dirt on someone, or they’re playing the Woman Card.

Instead, I’m going to insist we all take a step back. If you’re a man, take a breath before you exhale about the Woman Card. Examine what’s actually happening here. And make sure that you’re not part of the reason that it’s still A Thing. If you’re a woman, keep on insisting that you’re equal. Don’t stop pushing. But look at your methodology: make sure you’re not being aggressive beyond reason or purpose. Hear the cadence of your team and match it.

My favorite quotes of all time are relevant every single day that I go to work.

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition. – Timothy Leary

Well-behaved women rarely make history. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Got a great story to tell where you played your woman card? I’d love to hear them! No, really, I would – let me know I’m not alone. Tell me about the time when an entire meeting stopped to ask you to take minutes, or when they walk past five of your male counterparts to ask you where the coffee was. LET ME KNOW I’M NOT ALONE.

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2015 Wrap-Up

2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008   As always, inspired by the always inspiring Sundry.

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before? I made a male decision. I know how silly that sounds, but Jennifer Lawrence wrote this amazing piece for Lenny about how (once she discovered how much less she was making than her male costars) she decided to negotiate like a man. I really took that to heart and when an opportunity came up, I answered like a guy would. I remember being afraid and freed by it. And while it didn’t materialize into anything, it made me realize that I can. I can advocate for myself. In fact, I SHOULD.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Yeah, um, 2015 was just a Year of Getting By. There were some great, happy accidents that happened, but for the most part? We were just thrilled to call this year DONE. I don’t even think I made resolutions for this year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Shit. I hate this question. Because, yeah, probably? Maybe? You guys, I can’t remember what I wore last week, much less who gave birth 11 months ago. But I will say that we’ve got a lot of babies coming at work VERY soon, and I am over-the-moon excited about it.

4. Did anyone close to you die? I always hate this question, because I feel like I should know this off the top of my head. I attended no funerals.

5. What countries did you visit? No countries. Not yet.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? Balls. I wouldn’t say I lacked balls in 2015, but I think it’s time for me to man up and take control of things.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? February, I got a new job title at work – one that I’d wanted for awhile. March & April were traveling like a mad woman. May was Mac’s first birthday, and June brought Jack a learner’s permit. July was when Bryan went back in to teaching. October was a fantastic family vacation followed by a trip to L.A. to shoot a national commercial, but then brought sadness when we lost Belle. Tony got his yellow belt in November.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? It got me absolutely nowhere, but exercising my political rights was a really, really big thing for me this year. Tony’s school moved to a building across the street from a women’s clinic, and when the protesters lost their right to protest directly in front of the school, they moved to our school grounds. I took up a flag (supported by a great group of school parents) and sought help from every avenue we had. It was stressful and exhausting and ultimately pointless in the end, but I felt like I had to do SOMETHING.

9. What was your biggest failure? School, or my lack thereof. My one semester off to have a baby turned into two semesters and then three, and now I just need to do it. God, I don’t want to. Like, at all. I just want some accredited college to gift me a Bachelor’s Degree of Hard Knocks and let’s call it a day. But I need to. I know that. – from 2014, but it’s still true. And 2016 looks like a prime year to fix that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nope! I mean, outside of the occasional cold or flu-like thing. I did have some ear infections this year and HOO BUDDY those things are awful! No wonder the kids go nuts when they have them! But we were fairly okay this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought? On a whim, I bought a glamour session from Bookout Studios. It is the most vain thing I’ve ever done, and the money I spent on three pictures is OBSCENE, but you know? I would do it again in a heartbeat. I went in feeling so run down and exhausted and overwhelmed and then to see the pictures? I’m like, damn, woman.. you’re a hottie.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Tony. TOOOOONY. Tony is the best kid to ever walk the earth – seriously, the child is amazing – and he often gets the shaft because Vinnie takes up every single ounce of attention that we can muster. Not only does Tony never, ever complain about it, but he still keeps straight As in school and is thriving in karate. The kid is an amazing big brother to Vinnie (and little brother to Jack) and I just love him to pieces.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Humanity’s, really. Several times this year, I have come this*close to deleting all social media from my phone (which would be my lifeline because I don’t use a computer outside of work) because I am just so DISAPPOINTED IN US as a species. I have a feeling that’s going to get worse before it gets better. Those happy little compilations of “21 Times 2015 Was Awesome” are worth their weight in GOLD because it masks the 38u739782frillion other times we were just total douche-canoes.

14. Where did most of your money go? The usual – daycare, mortgage, cars.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to Washington DC. I was lucky enough to go a few times this year, and I just love that city so much. Like, really really.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015? “Watch Me (Silento)”  That damn Whip/Nae Nae song haunts my dreams.

17. Compared to this time last year: a) better hair or worse hair? b) more organized or less organized? I decided last June (2014) to not cut my hair until SLS launches, so it’s just longer, but the same fierce red. I love it. And organization is definitely still on point. I may drop the occasional ball, but I catch the eggs, damnit.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Budgeting. You know how some people have a brown thumb, and can’t keep ANYTHING alive? Like, even succulents and cacti die in their care? That’s me with a budget. There’s got to be a better way for us to keep ahead of our money, but I’ll be damned if I’ve found it yet.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Pointing fingers. It’s incredibly easy for me to blame someone else for something terrible that happens. It doesn’t solve anything and doesn’t make me feel any better. I’m working on it.

20. How did you spend Christmas? Trying to predict whether or not we’d have to evacuate due to local flooding. Our area got 6+” in a matter of hours. It was a mess around these parts!

21. Did you fall in love in 2015? I hate this question.

22.What was your favorite tv program? This is the year I fell in love with Doctor Who. Like, I’m ALL IN. I’m realizing the joy of being part of a fandom and I’m just all about it.

24. What was the best book you read? I’ve given up on reading books. It makes me sad and makes me feel.. uneducated, to be honest, but I just don’t have the time or attention span. Now, I’ve learned that this doesn’t mean I don’t read – quite the opposite. I read a LOT. More than most folks I know. It’s just all online news. I read TONS of online research and articles and I feel just as smart as the rest of y’all.

25. What was your greatest food discovery? Turkey necks. Actually, my greatest discovery was to travel a lot and ask the server what they recommend. Usually, I would even phrase it with “If you had to pick your last meal from this menu, what would you have?” It’s almost always something that I would never have picked on my own, and very rarely has it let me down. I love food. Oh, also, wine. I’m a wine drinker now.

26. What did you want and get? A (generally) happy year and a (mostly) healthy family.

27. What did you want and not get? Unanswered prayers and all that.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Snowpiercer, which was the weirdest, most cult-ish flick I’ve seen in ages and I loved it so so much. (If you watch it based on this alone, please.. well, I’m sorry.) Also, I can’t remember any single movie I’ve watched. OOOH, WAIT, THE MARTIAN. Such a good movie! Saw it twice!

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 35 and was treated like a queen both at work and at Bridge Street later with the family. We rode the carousel, the train, and threw coins in the fountain.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I honestly wish I had written more. I need to get back to that.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015? I actually made a big step and simplified my wardrobe. I have six or so pairs of black pants, about as many white tops, and tons of blazers and cardigans. So 99% of my wardrobe is already chosen. It’s made life SO much easier.

32. What kept you sane? My husband. My work family. My kids. (Note: these things often also kept me INsane a lot as well.)

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I already mentioned Lenny, the new online magazine founded in part by Lena Dunham. It’s introduced me to tons of powerful women who all have tons of goodies to share. I’ve been really impressed by female stars who are starting to not accept the status quo – folks like Amy Schumer, Melissa McCarthy, and the always great Fey/Poehler duo.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? The refugee crisis is something I still have to be careful about exposure to. It eats me alive. So many children are in a bad, bad way and we’re arguing about helping them. I don’t get that. Maybe my world view is too naive, but I just don’t understand. We have enough to help. Why wouldn’t we?

35. Who did you miss? I missed YOU. I missed being able to come here with no bra on and three day old hair and you’d be here, happy to have me. Man, I missed y’all. Can we FIX that this year?

36. Who was the best new person you met? On top of a really terrible memory, I also have this thing where if I like you, it feels like I’ve known you forever. So if I met you this year, but I couldn’t recall you specifically now, it’s because you’re already family to me.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015. The only thing standing between you and your goals is that bullshit story you keep telling yourself. Change your story.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.“Witches can be right. Giants can be good. You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good.” – Into the Woods

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No, Your Superpower is Guilt.

I picked Tony up fairly late on Friday because work ran longer than I meant for it to. As always, he was having a blast when I picked him up, and just as reliably, he gave me guff for not being there earlier.

He knows this is a sore spot with me. Lately, he’s been keenly aware (and vocal about) how I am not one of the moms that are at the school on a regular basis.

“Tell your boss that your kid needs you,” he pleads. “She would let you come every day.”

And we talk about how much I really, really love my job, and how my job means that we can do fun stuff like eat and turn on lights, but I think mostly he just knows how much it bothers me and he wants to punish me.

So we’re driving to the daycare to get Vinnie and we got on the topic of super powers. “If you could have any super power, what would you have?” I asked him.

“I’d be invisible,” he answered immediately.

“Oh yeah? And what would you do if you were invisible?”

“I’d go to Target,” he responded. I did not see this coming.

“Target?” I asked. “Why Target? You could go anywhere!”

He cocked his head. “Because you go to Target by yourself sometimes, and if I were invisible, maybe you’d let me come too.”

CHECK AND MATE, MY OBVIOUSLY ITALIAN SON.

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2013: The Year of Absolutely Nothing Pressing Outside of, You Know, Childbirth.

I am pretty lost this week, because this is the week I start meticulously planning my new year. I sit down with my planner, and I highlight and color-code and pencil in and sharpie in and what have you because NEW YEAR! NEW ME! NEW US!

And this year, I try to do that and I’m all, Hm. But I’m having a baby midway through it, so.. and then I’m lost. I can’t MAKE plans. I can’t resolve to run so many miles a week, because I can’t run right now. I can’t resolve to lose so many pounds, because I’m probably going to (and should!) gain quite a few more by June. I can’t resolve to get back in school, because I’M ALREADY THERE.

What do I do to have a better Me in the New Year?

Things that we do need to do are so massive that a to-do list can’t encompass all of them. (See: Need larger cars and house.) I would love if we had a bit more security around Bryan’s job situation, but that’s kind of out of our control anyway. Um, I’d love to be a size six by the end of 2013, but C’MON.

So, after staring at a blinking cursor for half an hour (after laying awake at night contemplating this for a week), here’s what I came up with.

Be pregnant. Enjoy it. Make it meaningful. Last night, I lay in bed with Bryan, both of us on our phones, and .. the baby got hiccups. The little rhythmic flutter made me giggle and smile and I realized that, um, hey! There’s a baby in there! I am the most miserable pregnant woman on the face of the earth (and for no reason! my pregnancies are textbook easy!), and I constantly just bemoan being pregnant. But maybe I need to make a concerted effort to enjoy this. It’s my last. It’s a baby. It’s not the end of the world.

Wiggle room is not a bad thing. I briefly talked about this in my last post, about how I need to allow myself some room to grow in the next year. This year presents me a new challenge at work, and it’s one that I’ll have to learn some skill for. This is both exciting and harrowing for me. I’m feeling the stress of not being perfect right away – and this particular gig is very high-level and visible, so not a lot of room for error – but it’s a great opportunity. It’s like being cast in a role that you’re not ready to take on, but knowing that you can get there. And I’ll need wiggle room for it to work. And it may not work. But I’d rather try and fail than wonder what I could’ve done if I tried.

Stop being an ass to my husband. (this one supplied by Bryan) This will be really easy as soon as he stops being such a moron.

Wait, no, he said GIVE more ass to my husband. (edited by Bryan) 1) Sorry that this took this turn, and 2) I’M GESTATING A PERSON RIGHT NOW, BRYAN. Moron.

More overnight adventures as long as we can. It wasn’t until I started looking through 2012 that I realized how much our little spontaneous overnight trips really meant to me. I got great pictures, we got to breathe different air, and it was awesome. I know that it will be at least mid 2014 before we can start pulling those off again, so I’d like to get in a couple more while we can all just hop in the car and go.

Refocus finances. We actually had a BANNER year when it comes to finances. I’m as surprised as you! Having said that, we have a couple of changes down the pipe that we need to plan for. We need to sit down and figure out what expenses aren’t necessary or productive (i.e. my hair, private school), and refocus that money on things like formula, diapers, daycare. (Jebus. Not looking forward to that.) We’re now living more than comfortably, and I’d love if we could continue that even though we’ve got a new bundle of joy coming our way.

Balance. This is the hardest for me. I’m pretty bad about killing myself so no one else has to be put out. I need to balance home/work, obviously, but I also need to balance mom/student as well as wife/mother. Also Sarah needs some time in there. So while I don’t know HOW, exactly, that’s a priority this year. Before, you know, I have MORE children tugging at me.

Of course, as always, I reserve every right to completely laugh at this list about two months in and completely render it useless.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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