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Mac-in’ on epic failure

Categories: Business tripping, Colleagues and Comrades, Fighting the Stereotype, Sleepless in the Board Room

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This is the week.

This is the week of nothing going right. I’m used to the hard weeks by now, but this one takes the cake.

My old MacBook was running hot and unhappy. I had stuffed it to the gills with photos and music, and I knew its days were numbered. So I bit the bullet and ordered a new one, since writing and photography are What I Do. I figured I shouldn’t feel guilty for that. But of course, of course, I did. Starving children in the world! My children are starving from their self-imposed vegetable strike! Earthquakes! Floods! Who am I to think about a new computer?

Then I decided I wouldn’t be able to help anybody if I didn’t complete a freelance assignment from time to time.

The new computer arrived, all shiny and fabulous and wonderful. I was determined to Do This On My Own. This is my first computer I would be setting up with no help from any men in my life. I wanted to rock my own world and transfer everything from the old Mac to the new one with zero assistance. I wanted to hear myself roar, baby.

Uh, no.
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Single and the Country

Categories: Colleagues and Comrades, Fighting the Stereotype

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Tonight, I feel like the Carrie Bradshaw of the Single Moms at Work set.

No cosmopolitans, no $400 Dolce & Gabbana pumps, no Mr. Big waiting under on 500-count Egyptian cotton sheets. Just me—alone—sitting cross-legged in my own place, tapping away on my laptop with my hair piled on the top of my head. (Carrie Bradshaw would not have had American Idol on the tube, but she had her constant cigarettes, so our bad habits balance out.)

As I do every Tuesday night for Work It, Mom!, I’m musing about this not-new-anymore life I’m living, but still can’t quite claim as mine. I’m staring at my laptop screen, trying to channel my inner Carrie. 

As you guys know, Carrie Bradshaw proposed a question each week in the Big Apple, and did her sassy, excellent, honest best to come up with a well-researched answer, about sex, relationships and the single life.

But she got out of the house more than I do. She had the shoes for it.
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C me naked? CUL8R: Sexting a single mom

Categories: Colleagues and Comrades, Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps

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1) SINGLE NETWORKING

I find that a lot of us Re-Singled Folk turn to Facebook and other social networking sites to expand our sphere of friends again. It makes sense. If we’ve been in a relationship for years, really “in” it, we may have forgotten to surface for some time. Our friendships may have evaporated like a vodka gimlet on Aunt Betty’s lips. No! you gasp! Not I!

Ah, friend, the unexamined single life is not worth living. I’m not convinced the examined one is worth the trouble either, but, anyhoo. Maybe you were just quietly, modestly, demurely coupled, like my idol, Caroline Ingalls. Maybe you kept in touch with all of your friends — single or married, kids or no kids — and did your part in life. You smooched when it was smoochin’ time and milked when it was milkin’ time and shot bears when it was bear-shootin’ time, amen.

But consider this: Most of us are no Caroline Ingalls, sirs and mesdames! Face it, many of us who were in partnerships left irritated friends by the wayside over the years. Once, we were the ones saying about our single pals, If only they could be happy, like us!
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Overcommitted

Categories: Best Practices, Colleagues and Comrades

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I’m typing an instant message, responding to our sales assistant, with one hand and scrawling a note with the other - Thursday, 6:00, dinner with T?

I’m talking to my good friend Tammy, making dinner plans for us and our kids for Thursday night.

“That sounds really good,”I say into the phone and my stomach panics a bit as I think - can I make it out of work and out to dinner by 6?  What about my boyfriend, he’ll be on his own.  I have two columns due and I wanted to work on that freelance stuff Thursday.  Maybe I’ll wake up early Friday instead, get some stuff done.

“It’ll be really good to see you guys,”Tammy says brightly into the phone,”Ash has been asking about Nolan, it’s been weeks and she misses him.”

“Aww,” I say and I think about the fact that my fridge contains only half a container of banana peppers and a handful of blueberries.  There might be a rotten cucumber in the produce department.  Grocery shopping will have to wait too.”We”ll see you Thursday at 6:00.”

When I hang up the phone and close off my IM conversation, I open up my email: 27 unread, 4 requiring immediate action, 2 very important proposals are perilously close to being overdue.  I think about the fact that the towel rack needs to be hung and I have a major ant war going down in the kitchen.  Even though I really do want to see my friend and her daughter, I’m already thinking of ways I can get out of it.  There’s just too much to do.

***

I’ve always had a tendency to overcommit, and I fear I’ve gained a sometimes flaky reputation because of it.  My intentions are good: I don’t want to disappoint people, I want to be a good friend, I want to take on that extra piece of freelance work and do a bang-up job for an acquaintance who’s given me an opportunity.  I want to make a salmon dinner for my boyfriend while engaging my 4-year-old and sporting lean legs. I aspire to be an earnest, reliable friend to all the girlfriends who’ve been so good to me.

I hate saying no.  I feel inherently that I can somehow squish 40 hours worth of stuff into a 24 hour period.  And then I realize, for the umpteenth time, that I cannot.  That I have disappointed someone again.  It’s worse since I became a single Mom, and often I feel like I have to choose one: friends, boyfriend, son, or work.  If I try to spread myself out between all four, I become pretty useless to any of them.

***

On Thursday at 5, I have a 6 figure proposal due in an hour.  I haven’t yet gone to get my son at daycare, and my fridge is still perilously empty.  I’m guilty because I didn’t get to my run yet today, and really I don’t have the excess cash to be spending on dinner in a restaurant for Nolan and I.  I grit my teeth and feel awful and, inevitably, pick up my phone.

“Tammy…”I say.

“I know. It’s OK.  Next week.”she says sweetly, used to my cancellations and perpetually forgiving.  She’s a single Mom too, but somehow she never flakes on me.  I want to know how she does it but I fear it’s simple: she doesn’t over commit.  I have to learn that one, and it might take me some time.

The pressures of the primary breadwinner

Categories: Best Practices, Colleagues and Comrades, Sleepless in the Board Room

8 Comments

Foreclosures everywhere. Global markets in crisis. Record numbers of people losing their jobs, being evicted on to the streets. Doom, gloom, on the headline of every paper that’s still gasping with the last gulps of circulation survival.

I’ve been trying to avoid the headlines, because I know my own predisposition for parallelization in the face of panic, and there’s no time for that right now. I need to have my head to the grindstone, my tacks sharp, I must put in extra hours and struggle fiercely for revenue in a market that doesn’t want to part with its precious dollars.


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Criteria of a Life Partner

Categories: Best Practices, Colleagues and Comrades

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My best friend was in town last weekend, on an unexpected personal trip to the West Coast.

I put Nolan to bed a little early and we sat on teak patio chairs in the fading light of summer, delivery pizza cooling on the counter inside.  We sat in silence, we sat in gratitude, we cried quietly in snippets and high-fived one another at particularly bizarre and profound utterances.  I sat back in my chair and remembered something I often forget in the chaos of my life as a single Mama: friends are precious commodities, at any stage, at any age.

Talk turned to men, as it often does.  She is 34, single, no children.  I’m a year behind her, single, with one baby who has perplexingly sprouted into a little boy.  We’ve been friends for 15 years, she and I: we met when she was a bartender and I was a cocktail waitress at a rugby-player infused Irish pub.  We spent most of our early twenties swilling summer cocktails and flirting with cute snowboarders; we spent the latter part of that decade convincing ourselves that we could change the bad boys.  If they had heart, we argued, the rest could be fixed.  Heart, humor, that’s the stuff that matters.


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Where friendships develop

Categories: Colleagues and Comrades

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My friend Paula spent the weekend at my house, bringing with her an air-puff of worldliness, expensive perfume, and fabulously chic pants. She just turned forty and looks younger than me.

“You work too much, there are lots of slacker jobs that will let you work from home,” she instructed me when I apologized that I would have to work a little bit here and there during her visit.

“Sorry,”I apologized, dipping into the brown bag full of shortbread cookies she’d brought with her.

“Don’t say sorry to me, just know that you don’t have to do this,” she said,”You choose it. With your skill set, you could easily find a full time job that lets you work from home where you wouldn’t be constantly tied to your computer.”

“Oh.”


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Telling the boss you’re going to be a Single Mom

Categories: Best Practices, Colleagues and Comrades, Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps

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I didn’t know much about business etiquette in the face of major personal trauma.

During my previous tenures with blue chip, Fortune 500 companies, I’d maintained a friendly but distant relationship with my various management teams. They knew I liked to snowboard on weekends, but didn’t know whether I had a boyfriend. They knew I could construct a killer presentation, but I didn’t ever share personal details of my home situation or my personal fears that I didn’t actually know what the hell I was doing in front of that projector. I cultivated friendships almost exclusively outside the office, or let just one or two trusted confidantes know the insides of my non-professional persona. I  really believed that my insistence on maintaining a firm line between personal and business at the office was a hallmark of my career success to date, and I didn’t think I’d ever stir that pot.

But a year and a half ago, things changed. My partner walked out of my life and I felt perilously close to disintegration. A year before, I’d resigned from my job in radio ad sales to scope out a work-from-home sales career. Amazingly, it had panned out and, I was able to find a job with the same salary that allowed me to work exclusively from home, with the occasional foray to New York or San Francisco for business trips.  I felt endlessly grateful to my new employer, who took a gamble and trusted my potential and capability to perform for them from an unseen, faraway office.

At the time my relationship atom-bombed my heart, I was a fairly new employee. My bosses — three kick-ass, amazingly entrepreneurial and razor-sharp women — knew I could sell ad space, but had no idea what was going on in my personal life. It didn’t help much that I worked almost exclusively out of my home office, thousands of kilometers away from them. I didn’t want to tell them about my personal woes, of course — but I knew I wasn’t performing at my usual tip-top level, I knew my voice wavered suddenly in otherwise normal conversations, and there were times I had to go to my lawyer’s office for two hours on a Wednesday afternoon. I needed to explain.


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On Single Motherhood and Difficult Friendships

Categories: Colleagues and Comrades, Hoping for Love

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My friends fall into two distinctive camps: the Never Been Marrieds and the Blissfully Domestic with at Least Several Kids. The NBM’s are mostly beautiful women in their early thirties, with glossy careers and cut-crystal wine glasses, stainless steel refrigerators stocked with goat cheese and aperitifs. The BD’s, on the other hand, have smudges on their countertops and overflowing laundry bins; they have traded in their stiletto booties for lululemons and washable t-shirts. At night they sit on the sofa with their increasingly rotund husbands, sorting socks and checklisting menus while their children sleep upstairs. Unsurprisingly, these two groups of friends rarely mingle. And perplexingly, I don’t fit in with either of them.


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