Thursday, December 17, 2009


Can you inherit someone's ghosts? Are they genetic?

Going to Dachau today...

Thursday, December 10, 2009


"The first piece you write that your family hates means you've found your voice."

-Susan Shapiro, Journalist and Professor, Manhattan


I visited northern Poland this past week. One of the saddest moments for me this week was when I realized that some wounds are too deep to be healed in a lifetime.

Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009 8:01pm Munich time

Funny thing I’m doing today.

Emailing the Dachau Memorial Library located at the site of the former camp. Sending them the names of my grandparents and their birthdates.

Sounds simpler than it is.

Had to find their birth certificates since I don’t even know their official names, nevermind their birthdays. On top of that, the paper for my grandfather are in Polish and those for my grandmother in German.

But what a surprise the prowess of Google Translator. It actually updates and changes the translation as you add more text.

Anyway, I’ve found a few interesting things along the way. First of all, I had no idea that my grandmother’s birthday is only one day after mine! Wow. Just these silly little things that I never knew.

The certificates have the towns where my grandparents were born in Poland and Austria respectively. Again, I had no idea and isn’t it strange the wonder of Google – I used google maps to find where those towns are located and it was not without a little bit of happiness that I discovered my grandmother’s birthplace is only a two and half hour drive from Munich!

I am still wondering though what town it was that my grandparents met in. I don’t know that yet.

I also found it strange that though my grandmother was born in 1916, that the birth certificate my mother provided for me is actually from November 16, 1942. This led me to try and get a feel for what the heck was going on around the time in the region my grandparents were located – of course, I still don’t know the dates they were at the camp so I can’t figure out what was going on geographical for them at this date.

I do know that they were out of the camp then because I believe their first post concentration camp child was born in 1941.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Researching the camp

I'm researching today - reading about Dachau, when it was established, why and what was done there. At the moment, I am struck by the sheer magnitude of the place - the number of prisoners - the fact that it was first established in 1933 - the number of nationalities imprisoned there - French, Belgian, Polish, Austrian, Germany, etc etc - 

I'm also struck by the number of additional camps and sites that were associated with Dachau... a plantation, a shooting range, Kaufering, Muhldorf ... it's just overwhelming.

Still looking for the details of my grandparents...

Friday, November 27, 2009

I need a thousand lifetimes because I know just enough to make me dangerous

There is so much out there! 

I'm planning a trip to Gdansk, in the north of Poland. This is where my mother grew up. The history of Gdansk is closely related to that of Hitler and his campaign of "hegemony."  You may have heard of the city called Danzig which is of course what Hitler called it once it fell to Germany after the Nazis invaded Poland.

This is subject matter which interests me.

Today we attended the Tollwood Winter festival here in Munich. It is held on the same grounds of the Oktoberfest - it's a wonderfully quaint outdoor holiday celebration with mulled wines and food tents and the like. A more serious photographic exhibit is being shown documenting atrocities of war around the world in the past decade. It is disturbing and depressing - among these powerful images were:
-An elderly woman in Chechnya carrying nothing but a framed photograph and a number of rolled rugs on her back against a backdrop of a blighted, abandoned and rubble filled war town town.
-An infant Rwandan child, crouched on the ground, partially covered by the body of his dead mother who may have been trying to protect him, his mouth open, wailing and crying - but he is in a sea of dead bodies, all laying in poses similar to his mothers', indicating perhaps they had been shot within moments of one another...
-The body of a man in Haiti, face-down in the center of city street, apparently shot from the back, his body abandoned....

The reaction these images evoked in my ran the gamut: 
-One has the choice whether to let the subject matter into the conscience - look at the images, weep and get back to the festival? Or, look at them, weep and carry them with you in your thoughts and actions?

-Another thought - it is always worth it to extend even the smallest acts of humanity. Always worth it to bring up uncomfortable topics at cocktail parties, just to push people to think and remember and be aware. The victims in these images cannot help themselves - we are the only ones who can help them so we have to try. Write about it, talk about it, take to the streets as these people are your common man.

-I thought of the Haitian cab drivers I always have in Boston and evaluate it like this. My mother's parents were the survivors of a war torn circumstances. She was never alive during WWII but I have seen the affects on her of the generation that picks up the pieces of such devastation. And these Haitian cab drivers with whom I have had many a conversation in French after a late night at work or perhaps after a drink with a friend, their war is right now - their war is happening today - I wonder what they have seen. What scars are they carrying?
-The old Chechnyan woman - she was maybe a mother, a grandmother - and I thought, she has lived a long and hard life - what does one want when they are old? To be surrounded by children and grandchildren, that is the dream of many. She deserves to stop and just be old, enjoy the fruits of long and hard lived life, but instead there she was elderly and frail, trying to eek out her survival - her husband and son had been killed.

And so from this exhibit came the desire for another lifetime, one dedicated to the study of these complex regional histories around the world. And another to dedicate my life to the plight of those so much less fortunate than myself.

And what about my quest to be a mother and grow a family? That's a lifetime of work right there.

I could spend one lifetime fixing the law school wound I still carry around - that is, working to pay off my educational debt asap and then going back to school and becoming an attorney.

I could spend part of a lifetime at least learning about Poland - the language for starters. I would also spend a great amount of time getting to know my family and their story. I would also learn about my grandparents and document what they went through.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sometimes I think we American women's lib types don't know what we're missing

For example, I just learned today that Munich Airport has special parking for women so that they can be near elevators and entrances in the parking garage. Pretty sure Logan Airport hasn't thought of that yet.

Also, I remember being in the Dominican Republic earlier this year and when we pulled up to the supermarket, there was special parking for pregnant women and for women with small children that was right up at the front. 

Finally, here in Munich they have innumerable bike and walking paths throughout the city, unlike Boston which is hostile to bikers. Well, the paths are separated and the sign that indicates where the walkers should go is a picture of a woman holding the hand of a small child. How sensitive and humanitarian is that? And here we are running all over the world acting like no one knows how to treat women better than we do. PUH LEASE. I think we need to take care of problems at home a bit more. 

May I remind my readers that in Germany working women are eligible for up to two years of paid maternity leave? Yes, two years. I'm pretty sure it's not full pay, but two years is a whole helluva lot better than 3-6 months. Tell me what American working mother wouldn't appreciate that kind of job protection. 

Friday, November 20, 2009


I seem to be on an Oprah posting slant lately, but what brought me to her today is the announcement of the end of her show after 25 seasons! I grew up with her! Oh Opee!! How can you leave us?!!

Truth be told, I am probably not the only one who noticed that in recent years her show wasn't what it used to be. It seemed more commercial, lacking the depth and authenticity for which The Oprah Show was so famous. She seemed to be gaining weight, appeared bored and generally less enthusiastic about guests and subject matter. Sometimes I felt she just kind of had her show as a stage for the products and projects of some of her celebrity friends like Julia Roberts, Shaquille O'Neille and Maria Shriver. As a lifelong viewer of this show (wow - my whole life almost!!) it feels very right to read that she is choosing to move on at this point and I think a lot of her supporters would agree.

I'm still looking for a video clip of the actual announcement since I'm living in Munich and they don't show her here... but in the meantime, here is a repost from that I think any Oprah fan would enjoy:

Since the day the late Gene Siskel asked me, "What do you know for sure?" and I got all flustered and started stuttering and couldn't come up with an answer, I've never stopped asking myself that question. And every month I must find yet another answer. Some months I feel I hardly know a thing, and I'm always pressed to make the deadline for this column. This time around, in honor of our tribute to the subject, I looked back and came up with my all-time top 20:

1. What you put out comes back all the time, no matter what. (This is my creed.)

2. You define your own life. Don't let other people write your script.

3. Whatever someone did to you in the past has no power over the present. Only you give it power.

4. When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. (A lesson from Maya Angelou.)

5. Worrying is wasted time. Use the same energy for doing something about whatever worries you.

6. What you believe has more power than what you dream or wish or hope for. You become what you believe.

7. If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, that will be enough. (From the German theologian and humanist Meister Eckhart.)

8. The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give.

9. Failure is a signpost to turn you in another direction.

10. If you make a choice that goes against what everyone else thinks, the world will not fall apart.

11. Trust your instincts. Intuition doesn't lie.

12. Love yourself and then learn to extend that love to others in every encounter.

13. Let passion drive your profession. 

14. Find a way to get paid for doing what you love. Then every paycheck will be a bonus.

15. Love doesn't hurt. It feels really good.

16. Every day brings a chance to start over.

17. Being a mother is the hardest job on earth. Women everywhere must declare it so.

18. Doubt means don't. Don't move. Don't answer. Don't rush forward.

19. When you don't know what to do, get still. The answer will come.

20. "Trouble don't last always." (A line from a Negro spiritual, which calls to mind another favorite: This, too, shall pass.) 

So thanks, Gene, for asking me the question. 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I think...

Corporations are the new governments.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Full circle

A la Oprah of course, I come to you with a "full circle moment" for this morning. Well, morning where I am anyway.

Though I should be doing my German homework, some other sort of cosmosis is willing me to write instead.

One of the subplots of my life is my journey back to Poland, both literally and figuratively. My family background includes grandparents who survived the Holocaust and a mother who grew up in post WWII Communist Poland who later immigrated to the US essentially so that I could have a better life than she.

Until two weeks ago I hadn't visited Poland since I was a 10 year old girl and the country was Communist. Next week marks the 20 years end of the Berlin Wall. 

My German teacher is from Berlin and spent the many years of his young life separated from his grandparents who remained in East Berlin. Yesterday he told the touching story of how he, is parents and sister once a year would go to the wall on a predetermined date to see their grandparents. 

I weep as I write this.

They would go to where the tourists would visit the Berlin wall, climb up the stairs to the top where everyone could look over into East Berlin. Their grandparents would be waiting on the other side, they would wait far away from the wall so that the police didn't see them.

On the western side, he and his family would look with binoculars down at their grandparents. The grandparents would remain very still, arms not waving so as not to attract the attention of police. Their grandparents could only see them as tiny people at a distance.

Then, after a few minutes of looking at each other, his parents would take out a white handkerchief, wave it up and down a number of times and back on the eastern side, his grandparents would make a quick, small wave, quickly turn around and run off so that they police would not be alarmed. 

They would do this one a year for most of his young life.

I will hear more of his stories on Monday, the actual anniversary. And today, I am working with a translator to have documents translated so that I can reclaim my Polish citizenship. In December I will go to Dachau where my grandparents were. 

The scourge of war and genocide and hate is more deeply impressed upon me now more than ever as all this bit and pieces, all of these stories, so many years after the end of WWII surround me. I know the trials and tribulations of so many have been documented in regard to what happened here in Europe. I know that the story of my family is terrifically common. It is so mundanely part of the human experience in some ways. But, I will always find hate and war and the evil humans can inflict upon one another profoundly inhumane.

But as wrong, horrible and traumatic as these things are, the world keeps on turning. And people keep moving. 

This week my American husband, working for a German company went to work with a Polish client in Warsaw. All the while my Polish mother was in the United States.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Expat dinner

It's funny the energy that flows when a group of expat women get together. Tonight at the table of a local Vietnamese restaurant, with only four total, sat 1 pregnant Brit, one Australian mother of two, an engaged American, another married American and myself.

The professions of these gals?
1. Pregnant Brit = Finance (married to a German)
2. Australian mother of 2 = Corporate Responsibility (married to a Swiss)
3. Engaged American = Residential Real Estate (engaged to a German)
4. Married American = can't remember exactly but it is polymer research related post doc with industry applications (married to an American)
5. Me = Marketing? (married to an American)

How many of these gals are employed?
Numbers 1 and 4

How many will be employed in the next few months?
Probably zero.

#1 is having a baby and moving back to England
#4's husband is a physicist and they had to decide whose job to move for. They chose his.

Tonight was full of belly laughs and cultural comparisons. For example, in Germany you can ask a woman in a job interview whether she is planning on having children and if she does have kids, how she is going to manage her job and her kids at the same time.  You are also expected to submit a photo with your CV otherwise you won't be considered.  You can't ask for the same in the US as it is illegal.

#2 is interviewing for jobs right now since her husband's company laid him off 4 months after they transferred him, his wife and their two children to Germany. How nice. She is already the mother of two and was asked not only how she would manage children and her job but also whether she was planning to have any more children.

I thought of two potential responses to the question of whether or not you are going to have children/further children:
1. No, I'm barren.
2. No, I've had my vagina locked.

Stupid questions, stupid answers.

Ah the things we say...

So much media, 

So many blogs, 
Is this this a case of 
If you have nothing good - of quality - to say
Should you say nothing at all?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wet phones, FB and fixes

Have you ever dropped your cell phone in the toilet? Or maybe you put it through the washing machine? Getting your phone wet pretty much means it's no longer going to be of any use to you. UNTIL NOW!

You just never know what you are going to find on Facebook. A recent series of posts turned up these tips on salvaging your water (or other liquid!) soaked cell phone:

1. Bust out the hair dryer:
That's right. Say you've just finished fishing your phone out of the toilet bowl. (Hopefully the bowl only contained water at the time.) Towel off the water, take out the battery and apply the heat directly to the phone and the battery for at least five minutes.

2. Heat lamps aren't just for warm meals:
Yup. That same device used to keep your food warm can also save you the cost of replacing your phone! Put the phone under there and cook off the H2O.

And my favorite.....

3. Rice bowl:
You heard it here first. Take the battery out and put all the phone parts in a bowl of rice! Yes! A bowl of dry rice! How resourceful!!

Just make sure you do all of this pretty quickly after the phone gets wet. In desperate mobile matters such as these you have to act fast! Time is of the essence!!

Hindered by Kindern

It seems ironic that once a gal hits her stride, professionally, personally, etc, she is then confronted with what to do regarding children.

Have them and a career and hire someone else to watch them? Or have them, leave the career and watch them herself?

Of course people will say you can work part time. But, we all know that once you do that, your career is on the sloooowwww track if on any track at all. Or you can take some time off and go back to work. But even when you go back to work, the kids are still there with sniffles and coughs and lunches to pack and school breaks and sports practice and music lessons. And chances are, mommy is still the first person who gets a phone call when little Suzie needs to go home early. 

And so, really, once you have children, unless you are of the disposition that you can severe the emotional connection and outsource the decision making and hands-on rearing, you're basically fucked.

Happy Monday!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ins and Outs

Does who you "fundamentally are" - who you are on the inside - really matter when the whole world can only see the outside?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Expat Wife, Funny Life

So, now I'm an expat wife.

We moved to Munich a few weeks ago. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

He said...

"People can hear their inner voices with great clarity and live by what they hear..."

What a blessing it is to live this way. Often the clamor of daily life, or internal dialogue, can drown out the truth of our inner voices. Coming back to such a place takes work.

Careers, ambition, relationships - there is an endless onslaught of potential distractions from one's internal desires. I often become withdrawn from the world and what it wants from me, ignoring the phone and the emails and the texts, in an effort to let myself out.

Life in Livingston, Montana was featured in tonight's episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. Ranchers and cowboys alongside the occasional poet and painter make up the fabric of this "end of the line" town.  As one stricken with a lifelong case of wanderlust, I soaked up the swelling sense of freedom and independence Livingston's residents appeared to enjoy. 

As a woman, I wondered if I could live the life of these loner poets and writers. The reclusive lifestyle of authors there and elsewhere, like Jim Harrison or Thoreau, who have spent years tucked away in remote cabins or deeply wooded forests, is almost too seductive to resist. Alone with one's thoughts, constrained only by the body's wants of sleep and food, timelessness replaces seconds and minutes and hours. Writing and expression are safe to unfurl at will.

But, then, fear of physical harm creeps into my mind. Would it be safe for me, a 5'2" woman? Terrifying visions of being alone and attacked, too weak or small to defend myself, shatter my fantasy of the reclusive lifestyle these male writers, and readers for that matter, glorify and take for granted. Could such an environment provide refuge, a safe-haven, for my body and for my thoughts?

Even in On the Road with Kerouac, the same questions linger for me. What kind of real freedom would I feel traveling alone, hitchhiking in the rain on a deserted road to my next location? Is the ever present concern of imminent danger freedom? 

In some senses, my heart hurts when I read these heralded stories of free men. I envy their sex. I envy that they are not the subject of desire and conquest in the same way my same-sex sisters and I are. Sometimes, I wish I was one of these men.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This whole Gates thing is bothering me.... does class + race = progress?

Apparently I'm not the only one with all the media talk that has been going around.

First, I was bothered that a racist incident like this could take place in an area of Cambridge with which I am so familiar. Then, I was bothered that a black man needs to worry when his front door gets stuck, that he will be arrested when his neighbors call the police. 

I remembered an incident in my neighborhood a year or two ago when I saw two guys, around 20 years old, opening the window of a first floor apartment and climbing in. My street is full of college/grad students throwing parties etc - they fit the profile of college students who had locked themselves out - wearing printed T's and fashionable jeans - it was broad daylight - so I just figured that's what it was. They were white.

When this whole Gates thing came up, I asked myself, if those two guys had been black, would I have acted differently? I have called the police before - though the circumstances were completely different (once a guy was trying to beat down the door of his girlfriend's apartment after sneaking into the building - oh and his face and hands were covered with blood - another time I heard gunshots, screams and then looked out my window to see a man running across the Christian Science Center reflecting pool area with a HUGE gun in his hand - the first case, the guy was Japanese, the second he was black).

After reflecting on these thoughts though, I got more bothered though because something didn't sit well with me and this professor. He reminds me of the famous "Don't tase me bro" kid who got himself in trouble with the police after pushing the limits when at an event where John Kerry was speaking. 

As far as I am concerned, the most important part of this video is the beginning where, upon the suggestion from the police that the shut the hell up and move on, he fights them. I believe that the student's desire to provoke combined with a juvenile sense of superiority over those around him is what led to these circumstances. Did the police need to taser him? Absolutely not, but that is a secondary issue. What did he set out to do when he went to the podium? To reveal dishonesty within the Kerry campaign I assume. Did he achieve his goal? Um, I'm going to go with NO here. In my mind he, and only he, failed his cause.

Here is an interview with him on the Today Show where he admits that he made a mistake. He concedes that he wasn't able to keep his composure and the police where just trying to do their job.

This whole post was provoked by a comment one reader made in response to an online news story regarding the Gates arrest. They said that Gates had set back Black/White race relations by 30 years.

Well, what if this is actually evidence of advanced race relations in United States? It seems there is sentiment upon sentiment that this case is not just about race. This Boston Globe reporter says it's more about "power and machismo on both sides".

Though I don't have the empirical evidence to prove it, I felt early on that the professor was operating under the influence of something other than injustice induced outrage. He was making public appearances so quickly. He is accused of making statements like, "You don't know who you are dealing with" - he apparently didn't want to show his ID. 

That people were so offended a Harvard professor had been arrested made me feel something was amiss. Have we not established that one's profession does not necessarily preclude them from doing something illegal? Isn't that like, really, really obvious? 

Methinks that in a case where race and class are so entangled, the only way to fairly evaluate the situation is to look at the behavior of the individuals involved. Again, I think this is fairly obvious and is the manner by which all individuals should be evaluated but it seems we have strayed in this case.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Well, I'll be damned - ladies get your hormones tested now

Alright, I have recently unearthed some women's health advice that really surprised me. 

As you may have deduced by now, I'm a rather big fan of anything that can make a women's life better. Naturally, the pursuit of knowledge and Oprah fall at the top of my list of things that ameliorate the female journey.

I was watching this sex webinar of sorts on Dr. Laura Berman, a sex therapist, and Oprah were discussing all sorts of things surrounding sex. The topic of hormones and menopause came up. When addressing the issue of one's hormones being all out of whack during menopause, Dr. Berman recommended women get their hormone levels checked BEFORE menopause. WAY BEFORE. Go to about the 9 minute mark to listen to her explanation.

Her point is that if you get your hormones levels tested when they are normal, say around your 20s and early 30s, then later, when they aren't normal and your doctor is messing around with them to get you where they need to be, it will be a heck of a lot easier. It seems every women's hormones are as "unique as her fingerprint." If you test them when you are at a happy and normal place, you are making things easier down the road.

Well now, doesn't that make sense! I'm in my thirties (Decade Four - get it? Remember this: Decade Three vs. Decade Four ?) so I have not yet been blessed with the wonder and mystery of menopause, or even childbirth for that matter. Naturally, there are women in my life that have been. And, I'm not sure they would use the word "blessed." I'm not looking forward to menopause so naturally, anything I can do now to ease the transition is welcome.

So what do you say ladies? Has anyone out there heard of having your hormones tested earlier in life? Has anyone gone to their doctor and asked about it? What did the doctor say? Did they think you were crazy? Did they think it was a great idea? Was the doc old, young? Male? Female? Are you planning on bringing this up with your doctor?

I'll be poking around the web for some more info on this topic and if all goes well, I will probably ask my doctor about this. In the meantime, please send along your comments about any experience or knowledge you might have!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Innovative way to support citizen journalism in Iran

From a friend on Facebook:

If you are on Twitter, set your location to Tehran and your time zone to GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut Iranians' access to the internet down. Cut & paste & pass it on.

I don't have a Twitter account and can't verify if this works or not but why not give it a try?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hm - Cambridge Who's Who

Given all my chatter about quitting jobs and failing out of law school, imagine my surprise when I received a letter today from "Cambridge Who's Who."

At first I thought, how lovely, it said:
"You were recently appointed as a biographical candidate to represent Boston, MA in the 2009/2010 online Cambridge Who's Who Registry among Executive and Professional Women.

Having worked in marketing I've seen a zillion of these different listing companies. Many firms are very interested in having their professionals recognized - Martindale Hubbell, Interlaw and Chambers are just a few. I thought maybe because I've worked for some high profile people, that someone found my name from the website of one of my former companies.

But, then I skipped to the very fine print at the bottom of the letter:
"Cambridge Who's Who is proudly not associated or affiliated with any other Who's Who Publication or Organization."

Since when are people proudly not affiliated? That was a pretty major red flag.

I also noted that the letter was signed "M. Foster." Generally, I find that if someone sends you a letter it's because they want a response. If you send a letter to me stating you are "M" then you don't want me to find you and I'm more likely to think you are a Lord of the Rings character. Nice try.

Finally, a good old Google search once again proved itself to be every gals best friend. After reading this post, I knew I had to put my delusions of grandeur aside and call a scam a scam.


Ah well. Next time!

Monday, June 1, 2009


So, I resigned - or quit. Or was fired. Depends on your perspective. The deciding moment for me was when I stated to the European partner, I would like to stay, but only if there is support for me to continue to stay. Her response, "Well, I never had any faith in you from the beginning..."

Alright. That was all I needed to hear. Thank you. We picked my last day (Wednesday) and I've been alternating between excitement, disappointment, frustration and sadness since.

So, now "Survival".

I go back and forth between strategies for managing life, work, money etc. I used to believe you should set a goal then impose a structure on that which you are responsible for managing. I pretty much used this approach up until the last couple of years. I think it was moderately successful. Then, I met my husband. He did not have this approach. He was more of the revolving responsibility type. Like, the bill arrives, you pay it. An email comes, you answer it. People want something, you give it to them. And, frankly, we could make the argument he has been more successful:

Grad school - he finished, I didn't
Money - he makes more
Enemies - he has none
Jobs - he keeps them
Career - works for a respectable company that respects him

So, as you might imagine, I thought I was doing something wrong and decided to adopt his "take it as it comes" approach. To clarify, for awhile before adopting his philosophy, I thought he was wrong. Over the years though, his approach has seemed to consistently bring him success (see above). As a disclaimer, I do feel the need to point out it's not clear that I have all the relevant information needed to draw conclusions as to which approach is better. I might be oversimplifying.

But to summarize the results of me using his "take it as it comes" approach:

That shit didn't pan out for me either. (see above where I say that I resigned)

Interestingly, lately he seems to be shifting to the disciplined method and, in fact, since last week, has been telling me I need to be more structured. Hardly seems fair!

More interestingly though, I was watching one of these wilderness survival shows "Man vs Wild" this weekend. The host, a crazy, but quite handsome, Brit named Bear Grylls (I kid you not) found himself in a bit of a predicament. He had been dropped into the Great Plains with little more than a rucksack and a mess kit and was challenged to survive among the rapidly shifting elements and uncertain terrain.

As he stood there skinning a snake he just caught for dinner or assembling a torch from green sapling and birch bark, I can't remember which, he looked into the camera and plainly stated something like, "The key to survival is taking control of your environment."

Call it what you will - an Oprah-like "aha" moment; Eureka; BGO (blinding glimpse of the obvious), etc etc - but at that moment, any doubt I had about how to move forward was removed. In doubt's place was the realization that to get on with things, I'd first have to put things into order.

No doubt, millions have realized this before me. Gandhi sought sanitary reform by Indians in South Africa for similar reasons. Voltaire's Candide famously states, "Il faut cultiver notre jardin." For me, I knew it, then doubted it, and now know it again.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dazed and Confused

But not high... unfortunately.

Sometimes in life you stand, looking out at the future and asking yourself, what the hell am I going to do now?

They say blogging about work is wrong. Blah (insert photo of my middle finger).

My job. Started in September 2008. I took a risk to do new sales for a start-up. Hadn't worked in the industry before. Only one other person in the office. 3 months in she quit. I start running everything - HR, client service, operations, marketing, sales, etc etc etc - with a mind to the potential for financial and personal upside. Simultaneously, the economy doesn't just stop growing, but actually starts shrinking. We make a rash hiring decision I don't agree with. 3 weeks later I have to fire that rash hiring decision - based on my stubbornness not to make the same decision twice, we get a great person the second-time around. I train him - it is now mid-April - I've been busting my ass non-stop alone in an office and grown a little potbelly as evidence of such - our 3 biggest clients start pulling in the reins and stop sending us business - our sales shrink by more than 50% - not because of our performance but due to lack of demand from their clients.

I am blamed and find out through an email that was accidentally forwarded to me that someone from our overseas HQ is coming over on a recon mission and also to find a replacement for me. I go to the US based partner to confirm that this is happening - basically he doesn't agree with the European partner that this should take place. Great. No one knows what the hell is going on. No one is making any hard and fast decisions. He says - I dunno - maybe in a month I will be gone?

What do I do? The end of my tenure doesn't seem to be a forgone conclusion. There is still potential for growth and I think sales from our clients will grow soon. But, when one of the partners doesn't want you there anymore, they can make your life hell. There is the other small issue of my own morale at this point.

Do I:
a. stay, coast and let them fire me.
b. dig in and fight to grow the business and keep this job.
c. take control and quit immediately or decide an end date?

a. Easy, but demoralizing.
b. Hard. Uncertain. Potentially really good, really bad or in the middle both emotionally and professionally.
c. Healthy. The only problem is that I have to decide what to do next.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blog Therapy

Usually, when I write a post, I feel better afterward. This last post only led me to do something we'll fondly refer to as, well ... gee, the only word that comes to mind is defecate. Don't ask me why I am publishing this. I have a strong feeling I will regret it from the moment I hit "publish post".

But, more women should write about that doncha think? - I'm pretty and I poo!

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I think I have to admit why I'm upset, for real, in order to work through it. The problem is, I am afraid I won't be able to muster up the damn energy needed to deal with the situation - by not admitting it, I don't have to do anything about it.

But, then my fear of regret is telling me that I need to admit it, deal with it and move on, because if I don't, I risk looking back sometime in the future and wondering why I was such an ass. Then, I run the even bigger risk of giving myself yet another reason to criticize myself - something I definitely don't need. So essentially, it seems to be coming down to, criticize myself now, or, criticize myself later. Hm . .. .. nope, not going down that rabbit hole.

Alright, on to the thing I have to admit today. I'm a procrastinator.
haha, nope, that's not it!

Bwah haaa - that little bit of funny gave me a good chuckle - who needs friends when you can make yourself laugh! Haa!

Alright ... I'm afraid of doing sales! Yes! I am not down with picking up the phone and being on the shitty end of the vulnerability stick (ps my job is sales). I enjoy marketing more! I do not like feeling desperate and cheap and trying so hard to plan out my words and listen carefully to what the other end of the phone is saying so as to perfectly bleat out every breath and tone and ooh and ahh and unhuh in response.

And, I think that fear is making me take a bad situation (no strong leadership/no agreement on strategy/bad economy) and make it worse.

There are so many ugly things down the road this week - I think I'll be the subject of a lot of criticism - it's hard not to care - which is where I wish I was right now - and I would just quit but I've got this great new co-worker and he (don't worry - his orientation doesn't swing my way) is seriously the best ally/unexpected fresh face to come along in awhile and reminds me of old parts of myself I can't seem to find anymore. If I leave, I lose a buddy and leave them behind with a mess I don't think they are equipped to handle. At least someone values me.

Hi there

So, it's been awhile......

Didja miss me?

I come to you this evening with a question - what is the point of growth?

I took a business development job in start-up company in September. And we all know what happened then. The economy hit the pooper. And the company where I am the only business development person is no exception. I may be feeling particularly low today because we delivered the sales report to the partners and they were not happy.

There are a whole host of other things that have gone on since January. The thing I find most depressing, not the fact that the only other employee left to start her own company taking company secrets with her, not the fact that projects seem to be smaller and less frequent, not the fact that my retard CEO made me physically interview 25 people in one week only to have to fire that bad hire 3 weeks later, not the fact that I had to trick the partners into letting me use a recruiter to get the next person in.... nope, none of that - the thing that I find most depressing is that I've gained 8 pounds since January. The skin on my arms feels like Dumbo's ears.

If I can grow, why can't the company?