Poor me

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My conference ended today. I have a few more hours of work and then I’m on the red-eye home. But I did get to sleep in and enjoy my room for the first time all week. And I ordered room service. Look at the size of this French toast. And the size of the butter on top. Toasted coconut and a caramelized banana? Check. Although I miss my family a ton – this isn’t all that bad. Just sayin’ (the newspaper came with the breakfast. Bless their hearts)

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One more pic. Just to show off.

 

Roots-Trees-Forest

That’s a mantra I heard from a speaker at our last conference. The talk was about leadership. So simple and clear. A good leader has to see the roots, the trees and the forest. Got it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Something about the idea bothered me.
It’s a perfect concept for leadership. Don’t be stuck in the weeds. Don’t get bogged down by the minutiae.
Except that for events it’s all wrong. An event is all about the roots. The dirt. The seed. You start at the top and then you deconstruct.
You focus on every little detail.
Minutiae is my life.
You know that expression “stuck in the weeds”? I’m living in the weeds. So for all you future event planners out there – here’s the truth – Events is weeds, roots and dirt. You’ll be in it. All the time. Knee deep.
I should be a motivational speaker.
I get very reflective on 5 hour flights to the West Coast.
Here’s what I saw outside my window while writing this. Forget the roots – I’m up in the clouds. Oh the irony.

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Come on!

How could all of these people have left work exactly the same time as me? Don’t they know I wanted to get home early today?
People. They’re a bitch sometimes.

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Domo Arigato NYC

Maybe it’s because I love it so very much that I have guilt. Yesterday’s post about how NYC can sometimes stink has me feeling bad. And because some folks reminded me that I sounded like a spoiled baby…waaaa….it smells bad. They said,” You know what smells bad? War torn Africa! Crime riddled Mexico! And small American towns with no good bagel shops. So chin-up! Get over it!”
So – like a cheap suit I’m folding today and telling you the good parts of my commute.

There’s this ridiculous view at the front of my building. Beautiful.

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Across from the pee block (ahem) is a little place called Underground Pizza. It completes me. Know why? Because it makes this…

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It’s the most amazing slice ever. On a side note, in college, my friend Maureen and I would go to this kick-ass pizza place called Broadway Joe’s. It was the best pizza in the city (they burned down and rose from the ashes in Upstate NY, but that’s another story for another day) We’d always get the same thing – a Sicilian slice. Then we’d ask the very Italian dude to scrape off the cheese and add more sauce. He’d do it – but he wasn’t happy about it. Then we’d load it up with red pepper and black pepper. Sigh. Good times. My college memories are of pizza not keg parties. I know you’re not surprised. (Tell me you remember this Maureen?!)
What was I talking about?

Last but not least – this is the Geisha that rides the subway with me every morning. We’re on the same schedule. She gets off at Fulton Street to go about her Geisha day. The first time I saw her I snapped a pic. Now I just pretend it’s normal like everyone else.

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Pee

So my new job is really great – I had forgotten what it was like to be the new toy in town. It’s fun. Really fun.
New people, new challenges, I’m even getting used to the commute – all in all a great way to start the year.
BUT! There is a but.
Not a great big but, just a little one. Here it is…
All I obsess about as soon as I get off my train is pee. Sorry. It’s gross. I’m disgusted just thinking about telling you about it. And please know, I am not that girl. I can’t deal with bathroom humor or bathroom anything. If I saw a shrink I’m sure we’d talk about all the bodily functions that I’m grossed out by. Even when I had my babies… When normal mothers readily stick their noses, fingers, etc in all kinds of places -I had issues. I did it. But I was tortured by it.
Anyway. Back to my point. All I smell when I step off the train is pee. I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t want to know. But it’s the scent that follows me up from the train and down one whole block. One long, stinky block. There’s a rush of relief when it ends at Pearl Street. Thank goodness for Pearl Street, it’s exactly like it sounds. Clean, cool, shiny and pretty. I try to hold my breath for that long block before Pearl but I can’t. Eventually I have to breath. I’ve developed a system where I bury half my face in a scarf. If I could wear one of those surgical masks without feeling like a freak, I would. Those overpopulated countries in Asia have all the luck. Everyone wears one there.
And what am I going to do in the summer when my scarf won’t be there to save me?? What shocks me as much as the smell is that I don’t think other people are bothered. They don’t wrap themselves up like a mummy – terrified of accidental inhalation. Some of the lunatics even have coffee and breakfast while walking on that block, the pee block. Wtf?? Could I walk down another block? I’ve tried. The side streets are just as bad.
Are you reading this and thinking, “what am I reading? what is wrong with this girl?”. Well let me tell you, there is a lot wrong with me. But in this particular case, the problem is that I have a supersonic sense of smell (and hearing, but that’s a different story). I have visceral reactions to smell. I can’t overcome a stinky place/people/things. It stays with me like a layer of dust or a cloud of that clings to me.
On a positive note, a good smell can change my whole day. It can make me happy, excited, or relaxed. I may not love diaper duty, but a baby’s head can make my day! I’m a weirdo. I know it. But I can’t help it. Like Lady Gaga said – I was born this way.

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weight lifted

So I’ve been keeping a secret for the past few weeks. It’s been a monkey on my back – in a positive, happy kinda way.

After 7 years with a company I thought I’d spend the rest of my life at – I resigned. The 5 weeks before my resignation were a whirlwind. I wasn’t job hunting – even though I wasn’t happy. All I did was join LinkedIn – and in the words of Sheldon Cooper – !bazinga!… someone reached out.  Things moved quickly and I was offered a really cool job.

As with all we do in my little unit – we talked/obsessed/freaked it out. Can we do it? Do I give up the holy grail of working from home for a long commute? Can we do it? Are we crazy? Yep.Yes.Yep. And of course we are.

We decided to jump in head first – as is our habit.

The saddest part in all this excitement and happiness is my team. It’s been a long, funny, hard, frustrating ride – and I’ll miss every moment of it. Well…not every moment. But I’ll miss them.

So in a couple of weeks – right before the holidays – I’ll start my new adventure.

It feels good to talk about it. To not hide it. It makes it feel real (because I’m a true product of the times and things don’t feel real until they are on social media. There. I said it).

Phew. That felt good to get out. Wish me luck. I’m stepping in. Going for it.

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You know you had fun when

There’s more photos of your weekend that you can’t post on social media than you can….

You’re over 40 but spent a lot of quality time with 25 year olds…

6 women shared an apartment for an entire weekend with only wine and hard lemonade in the fridge (and cheese)…

This past weekend I was invited to join a girls weekend with the most hilarious women I’ve ever met. Did they always mean to be that hilarious? Nope. But they were and I was thankful.
We stayed in the most beautiful block in all of NYC. Everything you could ever want was there. Restaurants, bars, theater, you name it, we had it. So without incriminating anyone. ( I’ll say WE) here’s some of the shenanigans:

- we locked ourselves out of the apartment we rented within the hour. Like. Immediately.
- we stood on a street corner and burped so loud a nearby officer commented (we think he was impressed and would have totally hung out with us if he wasn’t on duty)
- we went down like a tall tree in front of Cooper Union. We tried to grab another person on the way down but failed. Only our pride was hurt.
- we found a happy hour that started at 4 on Friday and one that started at 3 on Saturday. Don’t worry, we drank in between too.
- while sitting on a stoop at 3am, we saw a young gal (probably 25), try and get on a Citi bike with stilettos and a very very short skirt. Because we cared so much we started yelling at her to “give it up and take a cab.”
- did I mention we sat on a stoop

Like some of the photos – there are stories I can’t share. And there are stories that you wouldn’t get – because like war, you had to go through it with us to understand it or find it amusing . What I’ll say is this – I’m really very happy I’m not 25, because those gals looked hungry and uncomfortable,but it was fun to be around them.

Thanks ladies (and thanks to the guest stars on Saturday night – the comedian and his VERY drunk 25 year old gal)!

Here’s our street…

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Into the woods

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My husband grew up in NYC. He grew up like most city kids – riding the subway, avoiding fights, and generally keeping to himself. But every year, his dad packed him and his sisters up and headed into the wilderness. Literally. The trip took weeks and weeks to plan, coordinate and schedule.

I started dating my husband in late October of 1991.  That year’s trip was in the Spring, so I missed it. But oh the stories! I think I started hearing about the trips almost immediately. They were the stuff of legend.

Here’s a few overall facts about the Kowal Camping Trips:

  • They go to the same place every year (many a story is told of how they discovered the campsite and how all other camp sites are substandard). It’s called Crystal Lake. Go ahead and insert the Friday the 13th jokes.
  • The camping trip is never in the summer. That’s for wimps and yuppies. Kowal camping trips are in the early Spring or late Fall. Cold? Check! Wet? Check!
  • This is no organized site with plug-ins, bathrooms and showers…this is…the opposite. You’ll get to know the forest well.
  • Ponchos and tarps are your friends.
  • Although total time in the woods is less than 42 hours, enough food, booze and magazines should be packed as if you were going away for a week. And even then you’ll wish you had more.
  • The trips began with my husband and his dad (Pappa Joe as he’s referred to now in our house).  They scouted, found and claimed the site. The sister’s were indoctrinated quickly after. I joined a few years in and since then, we’ve had lots of additions and subtractions. Our old photos of these trips are a who’s who of relationships past and present.
  • There has never been a camping trip without rain. Never. Ever. Not once.
  • This year, at ages almost 10 and almost 15, we decided it was time to introduce our kids to camping. We didn’t know how they’d fair or if we’d have to go home in the middle of the night or something – so we decided to do a “test” trip. We knew they could handle it when, on the first night, as my husband and I were trying to figure out the new tent – it started pouring. We couldn’t have been more proud when we looked over and saw the kids huddled together in the dark, in ponchos, sitting on tarp covered equipment – pretending it was normal. It was beautiful. A parenting home-run in our book.

Here’s some shots of camping through the years.  Please note that some of these photos are before digital cameras, filters, edits, etc. Some of these pictures were actually physically developed! They’re “vintage”.

This is one of the early trips…notice the tarp covered tent. This is my husband’s younger sister, Stacy. Stacy has the longest running record of tents that leak. There’s usually a running stream in her tent when she wakes up. No joke.

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This is my sister-in-law Colleen – sitting on cooler with toilet paper in hand. Classic.

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This is the original Kowal gang below.

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This is me and Pappa Joe in the early 90s. It was my birthday on this trip. That night, it poured so badly and I felt so bad for myself (because that’s what you do in your 20s), I threw a tantrum and slept in the car. I know better now. Suck it up! It’s the Kowal way!

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This is my husband and Stacy. Cooking. Which is the only thing that takes your mind off the fact that you’re cold and wet.

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Stacy and I enjoying the lake. Sitting very very very far away from each other enjoying the lake.

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This is Pappa Joe – who always smiles when his two daughters are with him.

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Did I mention it’s all about the fire? Men. Must. Stoke. Fire.  That’s Uncle Roman doing what he did for the entire trip.

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Sorry about the terrible quality of the photo below – but I needed you to see that I am wearing a winter coat, gloves and a scarf. There’s snow in the ground behind us. Just sayin’.

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This is Pappa Joe. I love this photo. It’s quintessential. The vest. The glasses. The perfectly combed hair. This is the man who started it all!

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And here we are continuing the legacy. Hazing our kids into the next generation of camping.

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Yes – that’s my husband showing my kids how to load and use a BB gun. Please don’t send me angry emails about safety. Only empty Poland Spring bottles were hurt. If it makes you feel any better – we recycled them later.

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Nothing made my husband happier than bringing his kids to the spot that held so many happy, funny, wet, cold, hysterical, loving memories.

As you leave the camp site, you always think the same thing – thank god we’re going home, and thank god we came.

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What a difference a day makes

Here’s where I spent about 8 hours yesterday…

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Here’s where I spent 8 hours today…

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Then there's this guy.

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He’s from Mars.

and now it’s dead.

Years ago, I worked with a hysterically eclectic group of women (actually I work with an equally hysterical group now but that’s another story)

When you work in events, there is no 9 to 5 work day. There is work night and work weekend and work holidays. I think I had more meals with this group of ladies in the early 2000s than with my own family.

We worked together in small, connected cubicles. There was no privacy. We didn’t even pretend to not listen. You fought with your husband, boyfriend, mother? Everyone knew about it. You messed up a meeting, an event or a call? It was office news. This sounds like hell – but it wasn’t. These women weren’t going to use this info to take you down at work. They were going to use it as material to roast you at the next meal.

I’ve written about this before …http://wifemothereventplanner.com/2013/05/07/the-lunch-table

We were all so..ummm…unique.

Anyway – I’m at the airport again today. This time heading to Charlotte. I grabbed a quick bite before boarding and thought of this and had to share.

One of the ladies in the group covered her food when she was done. No, she didn’t just throw a napkin on the plate – she ceremoniously covered it with a napkin as if she were covering the dead.

It didn’t matter if it was take-out or gourmet. Once she was done, it was ready for burial. So here’s to you Babbas!

One day I’ll tell you about the Brit who ate only cherry tomatoes one week in the name of weight loss and “raped” our lunch with her eyes. It was sad and funny. Sad for her. Funny for us. Which was all that mattered.

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