Viewing category ‘Sleepless in the Board Room’

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Swimming across synapses

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Sleepless in the Board Room, Tentative Steps

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I have a new part-time gig, doing some editing from home, for some lovely colleagues. It’s not full-time, but I am grateful for the work. The girls and I are always desperate for warm clothes and groceries and oil to heat the house as the weather grows chilly. Every fall, I wonder how we will squeak by, make it through another New England winter. Every dollar helps. Mucho.

But I am freaking out, certain I will somehow blow this good thing. I don’t feel lucky, as a rule. Grateful, yes, but rarely lucky anymore. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the next handbasket to hell to come trucking by with my name on it in blinking neon.

Be good, brain, I keep saying to myself. BE GOOD. LEARN THINGS. YOU CAN STILL DO IT.

Can I? it replies, concerned. You may have me confused with another brain.

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Single Daughter at Work

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype, Sleepless in the Board Room

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S recently began offering her services as a mother’s helper. At 10, she is not ready to babysit on her own, but she’s sure as heck ready to earn some cold hard cash.

“I figure two dollars an hour, maybe two-fifty, would be fair,” she said.

“Oh, I think so,” I said. “It’s demanding work, taking care of mothers.”

“Ha.” She shrugged her best eh, maybe for you shrug. “I’m great with little kids,” she said, and flopped away casually in her distinctly floppy, distinctly I am a teen not a tween now way.

I did not point out to her that perhaps her own home might be a good place for an internship, before entering the job market.

Silly mommy.


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Not what I expected

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Sleepless in the Board Room

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Fanny, my highly anxious, absurdly neurotic border collie mix, shoves her muzzle into my mother’s armpit. Fanny is a Velcro dog. Once a stray in Brooklyn, she barely escaped a fire with her life. She’s had it rough, and she likes to keep her human pack as close as possible, at all times.

“Fanny. Fanny. Enough,” says my mother. “How was she today? Did she go in the house?”

“Of course she did. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“You can’t live like this, Jennifer.”

“I made a commitment to her. Look at that face. What can I do? She’s the gentlest dog alive.”

“She needs a farm. Where she can be outside all day.”

“Because that’s so easy to find.”

Fanny wedges her nose deeper into my mother’s armpit and snuffles contentedly. My mother shakes her head with disapproval and rolls her eyes. This is not Her Cup of Tea, has never been.
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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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Whatever you do, don’t look under the desk

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

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Here’s a career tip for single moms everywhere:

Don’t cry over the dead mouse under your desk.

Yeah, I made that move. 

The poor little guy looked like he was sleeping. Except he was wrapped in a cobweb. Which meant he’d been resting in peace by my foot for quite a while.

It happened during the early days of the marriage coming apart, and something about that little fella sent me over the edge. I’d been holding it together pretty well at the office until I came in one morning and found him.

O, wee, dead mouse. You did me in.
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Oink: Single mama swine flu freakout

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Sleepless in the Board Room

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My mama didn’t raise no piggies. I can speak real nice on the telephone, either when forced to at gunpoint, or due to freakish illness of either of my wee lassies.

“This is the answering service for the pediatrician’s office, ma’am.”

“I realize that. But I am a good citizen with a sick kid and I’m trying to figure out THE PROPER AUTHORITIES TO BOTHER.”

“What’s her temperature, ma’am?”

“I don’t know. We lost the digital thermometer in the flood.”

“What?”

“In the Great Depression. In the potato famine of 1846.”

“Excuse me?”
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Gracefully handling the exes

Categories: Hoping for Love, Sleepless in the Board Room, Tentative Steps

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My friend Lara never ceases to amaze me with her grace.  A quiet, intelligent woman with an aura of calm, she somehow manages to juggle an active social life, superior Motherly skills, and a prestigious job in pharmaceuticals.  She’s also beautiful, and a ton of fun, and I don’t think she’s going to be a single Mom for long.

Even though her husband is (in my totally biased opinion), a bit of a jerkwad - she handles him with aplomb.  In fact, she also handles his exes with deft grace: her husband had been married once before he married Lara and my friend is friends with the First Wife of her Ex. What?  I know.

This weekend Lara was telling me with her usual practical intonation that she’d gone for dinner with Cathy, the First Wife of her ex, and I was watching her with my mouth agape and my shoulders slumped a little in defeat.

“Man, I’m not nearly as good a person as you.” I thought of my ex and his ex girlfriends and though we were never married, I am certain I’ll never have any desire to eat artichoke dip on the patio with a woman he’s slept with.

That’s how it’s been, with my ex boyfriends, anyway.  I think of most of them fondly - remember Dale’s ice blue eyes, Jay’s riotous sense of adventure, the earnestness of Derek - but I don’t particularly want to be bosom buddies with any of them, and I’m not overly interested in their current conquests.

But it struck me, over my weekend conversation with Lara - that perhaps the current relationship of your ex is a little more significant when the two of you share a child together.


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Disappearing guilt

Categories: Sleepless in the Board Room, Tentative Steps

13 Comments

I had a meeting with my boss when I was 9 months pregnant, nearly ripping at the seams of my maternity shirt.  I was uncomfortable and somewhat cantankerous and I was itching from every pore, eager to get this cumbersome pregnancy over with.  I wanted to expel the baby, and...love him a bit, of course - but more than anything, I wanted to get back to work.  I wanted to make phone calls, send emails and get stuff done, without a gigantic protruding belly, niggling worry about my potential skills as a Mother, and constant heartburn.

“Gary, I’ll be back at work in 6 months,”I assured my manager,”I can’t wait to return.”


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Gen X Moms: are we doing it better?

Categories: Best Practices, Sleepless in the Board Room

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I have a recently divorced friend who blames the breakup of his marriage on the demise of the stay-at-home housekeeping Mom.

“I think the model just worked better,”he explained,” Back in the boomer days. When Mom stayed home with the kids and Dad brought home the bacon.”

My pal is not a misogynist in any way, so I just remained silent and looked at him curiously.

“There was no resentment about making the bed and packing the lunches,”he said,”Because it was balanced by the fact that Daddy’s bringing home the bacon.  Now, often, Mom and Dad both bring home the bacon, but Mom’s expected to cook it and then clean the dishes and Dad still kinda wants to hang on the couch after dinner with his socks balled up on the floor and… it’s messed with everything.”

“Hmm.” I said, considering,”Huh.”

And I wondered: is it true that in this Generation, Moms are bringing home as much bacon as Dad?  What impact does that have on divorce, family balance, and career success?


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The pressures of the primary breadwinner

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

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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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