Ch Ch Changes

It’s October 3rd. September has been quite a month – full of surprises and change. Nothing new for us. The end of last year was full of changes for our family too. I quit my job after 8 years and started with a new company right before Christmas. My husband was offered a work-from-home gig and jumped on the chance to not commute after decades of trains, planes and automobiles.

Then January through July were a haze. I was traveling a lot for work, which was perfect because my husband and kids were getting into their new “being home together all the time routine”. I was all, “good luck with that, I’ll be in Newport Coast for the week. It’s you, the kids and Common Core. Bye!” It all worked out – no one died. We made it through the winter and spring and then summer was a lot of fun.

We were just hitting our stride and then boom. This is how our life works. For as long as I’ve known my husband, and well before we had our kids, this is our life works. We like to shake it up – or things get shaken up for us. Every change we’ve ever made has come from a small seed of an idea that we can’t let go of. Wanna get hitched and then have a baby in our 20s? Sure. Wanna move out of the city to a town we’ve never heard of? Why not! Wanna have another baby even though I’ll have to quit my job? Let’s do it!

Some changes were our whacked out decisions, and some changes were out of our control. We just had to roll with it.

For the past decade or so (this is not an exaggeration) – I’ve heard my husband say that he’d love to get out of his profession. That the world of finance isn’t making him happy. But because he’s a workhorse, and because it’s been good for our family, he would never walk away. He went from one stressful job to another and made the best of it. But then September started. And slowly a get-away plan emerged. His group was being shuffled and his position would now be based out of NYC. But the kids and i had gotten used to him being home. And he was loving the freedom of not being in an office. Not spending his life on a train. He was going to karate practices, doing pick-up after band rehearsal – getting to know his kids (and they got to know him) in a completely different way. Good, bad and ugly.

It was very much like my childhood. My parents had actual 9-5 jobs for a very short time, then my dad started his own business and never looked back. My mom was either helping him or home with us – actually they were both home with us. I don’t remember a time when my dad was out of the house for more than a few hours a day. It was unusual and wonderful. They were also risk takers. My dad was a pharmacist who could have made a very safe living his whole life, but he tried something different. He took a chance. The irony is that my entire childhood I thought of them as the most boring, risk-averse people – they drive their cars slow and live their lives quietly. Now I think they were absolutely bohemian (I feel my sister rolling her eyes). But really, they marched by the beat of their own drum. And it wasn’t all good – there were failures along with the successes – but they tried. They moved us around. They uprooted our schooling. Money went up and down – but it wasn’t boring. That’s for sure.

Maybe that’s why I’m not afraid of change. It doesn’t really rock my world. Not because I was unhappy before, or looking for the change – but because I know it’s not always bad. Or maybe I’m just dead inside. Just kiddin’.

Because I am my parent’s daughter, I’m constantly thinking of businesses that we can run. After my son was born and I decided to stay at home, I even started one of those businesses. A wedding planning company that did pretty well for three years. I loved it. I only stopped doing it because of another change that came out of nowhere. A phone call from an old colleague who had a job for me. A good job. The only caveat – it was two states away. A job that would force my husband to quit his well paying job if we took the move. Normal people would have laughed and said,”no way”.  But my husband and I,who wouldn’t know what to do in a casino if we tried, took another gamble. We said yes. And it worked out really really well. We loved our new town. The kids loved their new schools. My husband found another job right away, and I was happy with my new job. For a little while. But in the back of my mind, I was always thinking of what “we could start”. Even though my husband is the total opposite of my wandering nature, he got into it too. We would look at empty store fronts and imagine what we could do. We would have hour long discussions about the kinds of things that would work there. Then, like the lunatics we are, we’d even call the renters and ask how much the space cost. You know, normal stuff you do on a Friday night. While you and your husband are out at fancy restaurants and enjoying life, we’re researching franchise options and coming up with company names.

So last month when his job location shifted, we jumped on our chance. Well, I jumped and dragged him along. It was Friday night, we were doing our usual “this is a business that could work” routine – and he left the room to order pizza for the kids. That’s when I pulled the trigger for him and applied for all the legal paperwork for his new company. No joke. He came back into the living room and I said,” it’s done. You just started a company”. Instead of divorcing me like a normal person would do – he sat down and started a business plan. The only thing that saves my crazy is his crazy.

A month later, he’s ready to launch the website and dive in. And I would tell you what it is, but it’s not my gig. It’s his. I’m pretty sure he’ll go postal that I’ve even talked about it at all. But as always, I’ll take the gamble.

Pit Stop

I was in midtown NYC at the beginning of this week for meetings and ended up right across the street from this spot.

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This is 345 Park Avenue. I can’t tell you how much happenstance is tied to this place. Or maybe kismet is a better word for it.
I stopped only for a minute to take this shot but a thousand things went through my head.
This is where my college boyfriend got a job during my Junior year, and during the summer, because I didn’t have anything better to do and was completely obsessed with him – I would take a train from our campus in the Bronx, walk through the park (couldn’t afford the crosstown bus) and sit in front of this building while he worked. For hours. Reading. Having bodega coffee. Staring out.
He’d come downstairs and find me there for lunch. We’d have a dirty cart pretzel and then he’d go back to work.
I didn’t do this everyday, but I did it often enough.
This was pre iPhone days. Pre 9/11 days. Pre 2008 melt down days. During lunch hours the entire front of this building would be full of people, they’d have bands come in, dancers I think too. There may have even been a fountain but I can’t remember.
I think about those days now and I just can’t imagine what I was thinking. Or what he was thinking! Ofcourse today I’d be called a stalker and dismissed. Thank goodness he didn’t know any better.
But that wasn’t the end of my time in this building.
When I graduated, I went from job to job. I tried my hand at alumi relations, and PR, and like all good Gen Xers I spent some days in advertising. All of this at big universities and companies (pre-job market hell days). I hated it. All of it.
By this time, my boyfriend had been out of school of over a year and was still working at the same building, same company – better job. He moved us out of the Bronx and into the city. He told me to quit my crap gigs and focus on something different.
I did.
I found a job at a non-profit focused on business eduction for students that raised money through fundraising.
I discovered a career that I had no idea existed – events.
I got engaged. Those were happy days.
Eventually the engagement led to marriage and marriage led to baby.
I had the baby and took some time off.
When I wanted to go back to work, my first interview led to a job. Luck? Kismet? Who knows. This job was with a company (and team) that would help define what my career in events would be – take a guess where the job was located?
It was also a happy chance that my now husband, father to our little girl, still worked there too.
It was where we met friends that we will know for life. It was where we went through 9/11 together. It was where we got pregnant again. It was a really important place that seemed like a lifetime ago.
Eventually my husband and I both left that building. Bigger and better. That’s what we always say.
This was the first shot of the building I took. I had an app open and didn’t realize I took the picture using a filter. But it seems appropriate.
A haze. A blur.

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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.

 

Ernie Banks Moment

Next week is the first big conference at my new job. And since we are the event and conference group, it’s my team that runs it all. We get the credit or the blame – whichever way it goes. Most of the team is seasoned and has done multi day events before, but it’s the first time at the event for the new CEO. So everyone is nervous. We had our first big walk through yesterday and it went amazingly well. The team is buttoned up and ready – but they are still panicked that they’ll miss something. So I shared my favorite “I think I missed something” story (have I already shared this? If yes, sorry, go surf the internet and come back tomorrow).
Years ago I was doing my first big event in a new job, for two very – ahem – challenging bosses. The event was an interview with Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks. The event was in mid-February in downtown Chicago. Already fun right? For months I stressed about the venue, the weather, the staging, and whether anyone would actually show up to this thing. Did I mention it was crazy expensive? It was. I found the right interviewer for Ernie. I made sure we were taping it so we could use it again for something – look at me being cost effective! No stone was left uncovered!
Cut to the morning of the event.
I had flown in with one of my bosses the night before and had a nice, passive aggressive dinner where she reminded me how important it was that I don’t mess up.
Gulp. Yummy.
The next day, I woke up at 5am – even though we weren’t setting up until 1pm – in a cold, hard sweat with one thought:
I never invited Ernie Banks to the Ernie Banks event!!!!!!!!! Omg!!! WTF??!!
I had visions of how it would go down.
Instead of facing the humiliation, I would just head to the airport and go home.
There were other jobs, I thought.
How could I have forgotten to invite him?
But of course I did.
Ernie was all set to go.
But I was so freaked that I actually called his house at 6:30…I forced myself not to call at 5:30. His housekeeper picked up and I pretended to be his car service and asked,” is a 6pm pick-up ok for Ernie tonight?” She said he was all set and hung up.
Real story.
Please note that this didn’t happen in my first few years as a planner. I was a so-called professional at that point.
Every planner has an Ernie Banks story, it’s part of the job.
Moral of the story – you invited Ernie Banks. Everything is ok.

Tess McGill Moment

Day one of my new gig. Here’s the view from my office.

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I almost broke out into my favorite Carly Simon song, the one from “Working Girl”. The one I think about every time I see the Staten Island Ferry cause I’m a dork. Anyway all went well and I didn’t get fired. The commute wasn’t that bad and my family did just fine back home. 

On the other hand, I’m exhausted. So I’ll keep this short and sweet. Gotta get up tomorrow and do it again!

Please stay tuned.

oh hi. It’s me. Remember? Did ya even notice I wasn’t writing for a bit? Like a long bit?

I had some technical issues. Technically I decided to spend all my free time sleeping instead of writing this blog.

In defense of me, I have been sick.  Is it a cold? Allergies? Who knows, and I’m certainly not going to a doctor to find out.   To add to the fun, life has been a tailspin of activity.

But things are slowly unwinding. School is almost over. All major religious rights-of-passage celebrations have come to an end (for now).  Work is still insane, but lately it’s taken a turn for interesting, which makes me less likely to daydream about being a coal miner (seriously. have you ever thought about it? Aside from the life threatening aspect – it sounds perfect. Solitary. repetitive. One singular goal. No need to shower in the morning. That’s my kinda job).

May was a blur, but it’s June 1st. Time to get back on the blogging horse.  I can’t make any promises, I have to be honest. I’ve enjoyed sleeping.

Here’s some random pictures that could and should have been blog posts but I was in deep REM mode instead.

This post would have been titled: 17 years of marriage yo!  See, child brides do make it work sometimes.

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I would have called this post: I-know-you’re-obsessed-with-karate-and-doing-a-perfect-split-but-I’d-really-like-grandkids-someday-so-please-be-careful

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The below photo was taken by my girl at a concert that she’d  been waiting to go to for months. All her favorite bands were going to be there. It started at 1pm in an outdoor venue by the water. The day before the concert we found out that all the bands that she wanted to hear weren’t even coming on until 9pm. On a Sunday night. And the concert wouldn’t end until closer to 11:30pm. On a Sunday night. What happened next cleanly, swiftly and neatly explains how different my husband and I are, not just in parenting, but also down to our core.

When she told us her sad tale, my reaction was,” bummer. guess you’ll be missing all those bands since we’ll be picking you up at 7.”  My husband’s reaction was,” ok. So I’ll buy a ticket and go to the concert with you so you don’t have to miss those bands.”  WTF?

This post would have been called – Lucky Duck

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The Lunch Table

This picture is circa 2000.
I had just gotten a job at a Fortune 500 in NYC. After two years of being at home with my baby, I was back at work as an event planner and loving it. Technically I wasn’t a planner until a year later – in the beginning I was an admin.
An admin to an insane, crazy, brilliant woman who ran our group. The woman who gave me a 45 minute lecture on using colored folders instead of beige folders (the colors distracted her as she walked by my cube). The woman who called me from the Tarmac while boarding a flight to tell me she doesn’t like prop planes and why hadn’t I known that and I better fix it ASAP (I couldn’t because there were only prop planes flying to this part of Colorado. I had offered to book her a car the day before when I warned her about this but she hadn’t been listening, something about researching the perfect toilet – no joke).
But all those moments that would have driven me to quit turned into funny stories we shared. Funny war stories at the lunch table.
We worked really really hard. Almost 24/7. Weekends. Holidays. For no money. It was rough.
But every day, we had lunch together – the whole group. There are a few ladies missing from this pic but this was the core group. We also had a Swiss National and a Brit.
We bitched, we ranted, we raved, but most of all – we laughed.
This restaurant lunch was a rarity. Almost all lunches were either in the cafeteria or at a table on our floor.
No one from other groups ever joined – probably because they weren’t invited. This was anti-networking. This was cocooning.
The majority of the lunch was used to make fun of each other. And there was plenty of material. Marriages, weirdo eating habits, childhood traumas – all ripe for the picking. We left our egos in our cube. Belly laughter ensued.
Then we’d go back to working our asses off.
There were weddings, babies, break-ups, promotions, and more.
The crazy boss lady left. And shockingly, in hindsight, I would miss her. Aside from the batshit crazy episodes, I learned a lot from her. And from all those ladies.
It was and continues to be the best job I ever had.

(not sure why I have glasses on? contact lense malfunction that morning?)

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