This cab smells like bad breath

I stayed in midtown Manhattan last night for work. Walking distance from Penn Station. This morning, instead of walking a block over to take the speedy subway back down to work – I decided to take a cab (Joe, I hear you calling me lazy). 

I decided that if there wasn’t a taxi around right away – I’d move on to the train. But boom. I walked out and he was there. Waiting for me. See, the universe wanted me to take it. 

Now I’m in the cab and it smells like I’m inside of someone’s rotting mouth. As soon as I got in – I wanted to get out. 

I have my head stuck out of the window like a dog but I’m pretty sure the stench is all over me. I’ll be wearing Eau de Halitosis for the rest of the day.

Just sharing.

Have a great day everyone.

oh hey….

Remember me? No? I don’t blame you. It’s been a few days, or weeks or maybe months (ouch).

I just haven’t been in the mood. Every form of social media that I used to love and get excited to be a part of became a vehicle for me to voice my frustrations. About what you ask? Well, you know what. Tuesday, November 8th is what. And since the middle of the year I’ve been caught up… in it…with it. Up to my neck. Who knew I was so civic-minded? Not me – my priorities (outside of my family of course – I’m not a monster) were usually my DVR rotation and what I was having for my next meal. But I got hooked. And it felt great. And I did and do and will always believe in it. But I’m exhausted. A friend texted me the night of the election and said she was gutted. That’s the perfect word for how I felt too. Gutted. Not just by the results, but by the ride.

And when I woke up the next day and hopped a train to work – I felt like a zombie. But then I started seeing friendly faces. Talking. Laughing. Commiserating. My team and I  literally broke bread (NYC bagels) together the morning after and talked about how we all spent the night before. It felt great – and it wasn’t just the sugar from the carbs hitting our system. It was hearing about plans for the next weekend. Complaining about upcoming meetings and joking about family.

Now, a few days out, I’m coming out of the fog. And it doesn’t hurt that the leaves are bursting with psychedelic color and my favorite cooking shows are all focused on Thanksgiving (I don’t even mind the Christmas commercials already airing).

So I’m going to start a cleanse. And this cleanse has nothing to do with kale or juicing. I haven’t lost my mind. I’m going to stop indulging and eating up the news. I’m going to stop soaking up opinions and articles and shows about the state of the world.

You’ve heard me say that I love Facebook – or I used to. I loved seeing posts from friends and family near and far about their daily lives and what they were up to. But in the last year, the news feed that used to make me happy has either incited me or validated my opinions. I’ve felt the need to read and absorb every single good/bad/hurtful/helpful thing that comes up. And it’s depleted me. I joined a local group of supporters who felt like I feel and think like I think and I thought it would make me feel better. But it didn’t.

So I’m cleansing and purging. I deleted all my posts that were political in nature – and the comments good and bad that followed. If I thought for a second it would feel like a copout – it didn’t. It felt great. I also hid every single person on my news feed that posts constantly about their political/social views – whether I agree with them or not. I would never unfriend them – but now I only see what they post when I want to. I realized a lot of my actions were reactions to other people. That can’t happen anymore. Instead my newsfeed is full of people who post dog pics, their latest cooking ventures and what they did the night before. If you checked in to a good restaurant last night, I want to know about it. If your kid’s team won – I want to cheer him on with you.

Does that mean I don’t care anymore? No.I care a lot. None of my views have changed. Not one. I still believe in every single vote I cast. And I’d do it again (I will for sure in 4 years). But I have never been a fighter. I’m not into it. I don’t enjoy making someone feel bad. I’ve worked hard to only have people in my life that make me feel good – make my family feel good.  Passion is good, but it needs balance so it doesn’t become rage. And I value kindness above all other things. Period. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

So I’m going to focus on Cranbury sauce recipes and whether I should add buttermilk to this year’s mashed potatoes, is that a crime? I’m going to put all my brain power where it belongs – on a new brine recipe for the turkey. Furthermore! I need to start thinking about Black Friday….will I or won’t I? I’ve been ignoring these major decisions for too long.

Talk soon, xoxo

 

Me caveman

I’m at the airport getting ready to board a flight for another week-long event. My team, from varying parts of the country, are also leaving today. In the olden days, like early 2015, I would have sent an email out wishing them safe travels. But late last year we started doing something different. During an event with lots of moving parts, we created a text group with everyone on site so we could easily communicate to each other. It was a crazy train of messages and updates. Those waking up early for 5am activities would take pictures and give us their feedback in realtime. Those on the front line registering people who were missing a name badge, gift bag, etc could send one quick note and get it resolved by the time they finished talking to that person. It was everything from “Break-out sessions are ending early, tell the hotel to be ready” to “the CEO is heading out now.” Unless you’re an event planner with a type-A-need-to-know-everything personality, this can drive you crazy. It’s a lot of info all the time.

At the end of that event, like always, we were all wiped out. Mentally and physically. Staying awake just long enough to board our flights/trains home and then pass out for a week. But there was also a bit of sadness to leave the team. When those texts stoped, I missed them! Crazy right? And I don’t think I was the only one. Don’t get me wrong – we’re thrilled to leave and be home with our families and friends, but there is something about the frenzy of being together on site that is a lot of fun.

We’re a mobile team. We are all over the place. We have to be. Texting has become the connector and unifier. And honestly, I feel like it’s more effective that half the meetings I have.

I get to see what’s happening at events I can’t attend. I hear about issues/challenges immediately. I also hear about the successes – and it’s good to celebrate in the moment.

Something else has happened since then. We started texting as a team outside of the big events too. Holidays. Kid and fur kid photos. Big moments and not so big moments outside of work (like making your first avocado toast at home or a daughter graduating).

As a manager, my hardest job is to make us all feel like we are in it together. That we’ve got each other’s backs and we are all rooting for each other’s success, not failure. Managing via text isn’t all I do – we still have the good old 1:1s, reviews and team meetings. But I do think that in between those corporate connection points, these little touch points matter.

I hope my team would agree. Maybe this is all in my head and it’s just another management torture device – but I hope not. And I know that this wouldn’t work for every job or every group. We aren’t 9 to 5. Our workday sometimes (ok always) goes into the weekend, or a holiday. None of the folks on my team have been with their kids or their own mothers on Mother’s Day in the past 3 years. That’s not me complaining – that’s just facts. It’s our job.

I read an article the other day that talked about emoji’s being the death of modern writing. It said we are basically falling back to hieroglyphics. Moving away from the words of Shakespeare and other great writers to the basic, caveman expressions of joy/love/sadness etc. Maybe. And maybe some things are ok in shorthand. Maybe even better.

I love long letters. I love good books. And there’s nothing I like more than having a talk with someone face to face. But I don’t like long work emails. I don’t like long meetings, and I don’t get to see some people face to face for weeks – months sometimes. A quick text. An emoji. A meme. It may seem casual, but it works for us. It’s efficient. 

In fact this whole blog could have reduced to 🙏🏼👍🏼✈️👌🏼

😉

See what I mean?

Here’s some of my team through bitmoji and a day in the life via text….

   
    
   
   
  

Zika on the brain

About 7 days ago every single conference I had planned for 2016 and 2017 got cancelled because of Zika. Two were in April. One was for over 1,000 people.

Almost 2 years of work basically out the window. There were tears. There was anger. But at the end of the day, it was the right decision.

We made our calls to let everyone know. We sent our apology emails. Not only did we distrupt the lives of all our attendees, but we also had to face our hotel partners. Yes they would get some of what we would be spending, but not all of it.

But it was done. And now we move on. Like the Bionic Man, we will rebuild. Better. Stronger. And we did. Or are. 

We’ve worked 24/7 to reschedule almost everything we’ve cancelled. It wasn’t/isn’t easy. (Insert your pity here)

These are all uptown problems, I know. No one is sick or dying or even hurt. We derailed vacations, not real life. Things will be fine.

Although I woke-up the other day, in mid-March, with frost on the ground and found this on my wrist. A mosquito bite. Oh universe. You’re so hysterical.

   

 

So you wanna be a corporate planner?

I’ve done corporate events for my entire career. I love what I do. I love my job. Really I do. Even now, in our busy season, when we seem to work 24/7. It makes me happy. I started doing event planning almost right out of school and haven’t looked back since. It’s stressful. It’s creative. It’s fulfilling. In every sense of the word. I adore working with a team, and being with them in the trenches. I like working with the business to figure out how the event can help spread a message or build goodwill. There’s tons of fun to be had too. I’m not going to lie. We laugh a lot. And sometimes we cry. Unlike baseball, there is crying in corporate event planning.

So with all that said, it still isn’t what you think it is.

Here’s the best way to describe it:

Imagine you planned your brother’s wedding or party. You worked for months to help plan the look, the feel, the whole experience. You advised him on if the vows should be long or short – or if the newlyweds should do a first dance or have a cake cutting. You decided that because of budget, his party should probably be only appetizers, not a full meal. You worked with him to invite the right amount of people and were careful to not offend anyone.

Now imagine that after all that – the day of the wedding or party comes and the happy couple exchange vows or the invitees start coming in –  everyone is seemingly happy and content.

Now imagine guests start coming up to you randomly and telling you things like:

  • “Who picked this place? I was really hot in the back”
  • “The party…umm it was ok, but this morning the hotel I’m staying at took really long to bring my breakfast – kinda ruined the day for me”
  • “Why am I not sitting with the groom? He loves me. He told me I’d have really good seats”
  • “I wish we could have done it in June. August is so hard for me”
  • “I really wasn’t crazy about the vows. They were kinda cheesy”
  • “I know you can’t do this for everyone but my kid likes hot, curly fries for dinner. Everyday. Made with organic purple potatoes. Can you get that for us?”
  • “Did you actually pick the food on the buffet?”

And guess what. You do get the organic purple potatoes. And you apologize for the hotel not delivering room service fast enough and picking the wrong time and wrong space. You nod your head instead of saying the groom hates that person and specifically asked not to sit with them. And finally yes, you picked the food. You didn’t know it would suck that day. You should have known. Somehow.

You do all of this not because you’re forced to – but because your job is to make people happy. Not just the bride and groom or one family – your job is to make everyone happy. Which, by the way, never happens. So good luck with that.
Welcome to corporate events. Leave your sanity at the door.
 
 

Chicken Marsala and other things

Happy January! Is the new year treating you well so far? Are you deflating slowly from the merriment like I am? Well, I’m trying to atleast. Work goes into hyper speed until…oh about June. Gulp. Here’s what we’ve been up to – a visual tour:

I call this, I spend a lot of time with chicken for a vegetarian.

 

We’ve been trying to cook more often and I went all old school this past weekend with a Chicken Marsala. The way to my husband’s heart is pretty simple – a meat, a gravy, and a noodle. This was an old Martha recipe. Remember when it was just Martha and all her superiority? Miss that.

I took some time off during the holidays from work and I think my husband and I may have seen a movie a day. One of the benefits of our kids getting bigger is that we are no longer tied to a sitter. If we want to go to a movie, we go. The kids manage to survive for a couple of hours. Here’s three of our favorites. Two of these movies aren’t for the faint of heart – and the other is not the love story you would expect.

My daughter, Kera, spent this long weekend at her high school’s senior retreat. Even though my husband and I both went to Catholic schools, neither one of us ever went to a retreat.  We blame Obama. Just kidding. Last night we went to pick her up in the “homecoming” ceremony. It was so raw and emotional. I fully expected the girls to be crying and happy when they walked in, because that’s how I would be. And isn’t it all about me? No? Ok. You’re right. What I didn’t understand was how many young men would walk in that room with tears in their eyes and talk about their emotions. And the mix of kids was also amazing. The sports guy, the cheerleader, the computer geek, the comedian – all together. The entire weekend is called Kairos, which is a Greek word that means “the right” or “the moment”. That’s about all I can tell  you because the cell phone/tv/computer free retreat, is also about how to protect the things that your peers have shared with you. Each group did get to share one thing with the parents – surprisingly it was all boys talking about their experience, except for one, brave, strong, beautiful girl. Guess which one? Yep. Here she is walking in from her “Kai High” as it’s called.


One last thing. For many years I’ve heard funny, crazy, happy, sad, and completely engrosing stories about my mother-in-law’s childhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan called Old Yorkville. When we lost her too early, I started asking even more questions. Her two sisters and extended family have been filling me in. Initially I was just interested in my mother-in-law’s story, but now I’m obsessed with her mother, Irene. She was a stone cold beauty in every sense of that phrase. I met her just twice. By the time I came into the picture, she had lived a hard life. She didn’t play a huge part in my husband’s childhood, which was dominated by the other grandmother in his life – on his father’s side – Nana. That’s a cool story too. When I first met Joe I didn’t even know he had two grandmothers. I only heard about Nana. I didn’t meet Irene until amost 3 years into our relationship. She was so different than all the other women in his family that I’d met. A little withdrawen and quiet. I was so absorbed with my own little life back then that I really didn’t open up to her at all. Now I’m completely obsessed. Her marriages, her daughthers, her life – I want to know it all. I’ve been bugging everyone to share their stories, and they have. Generously. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet. I do hope to share some of what I learn here (if it’s ok with the family). Here’s a picture of Irene on her wedding day. Makes you want to know more about her doesn’t it?


Writing this blog makes me so happy, but it also requires that the people in my life are ok with what I choose to share. I usually don’t ask permission, but I am careful. It’s a tough line and that I’m constantly pushing. Why do I think you want to know about what I made for dinner or what movies I saw? Because if we were to ever meet, or had a cup of coffee together – that’s what I would ask you. Not because I think what I’m doing is so important – but because it’s a detail of life. And I love all the details that go into a person’s life. Do you agree?

 

 

The Edith Chair

My husband Joe and I have been talking about getting a new couch for ages. Actually he’s been talking about it. I’ve been avoiding the talk. Not because I don’t want a new couch, I’ve been avoiding it because I know what one piece of new furniture means. It’s a slippery slope. It’s also not that I’m frugal and I don’t want to spend the money, it’s just that I’m fine with it all. Yeah the sofa wasn’t perfect, but wasn’t horrible. It didn’t smell. It didn’t have visable stains. Was it comfortable? No. But I got over that like 5 years ago.

In the end, we went down the slope and got a new coach and a new rug, lamps, a new recliner for him and a chair for me. And an ottoman. A small one.

Years ago, shopping with him for anything new in the house would be an experience full of all the emotions. Laughter, sadness, tears, yelling, forgiveness, and finally reconciliation. Joe’s got opinions. Lots of them. My girlfriend April and I talk about this all the time. Her husband Pat has opinions too. We dream of husbands who don’t give a shit about furniture, wall colors, curtains, etc. I know men like that exist. The kind that just show up one day and see a whole new living room and say,” nice” and then go back to their football game.

In our house, we have discussions before I pick up a new spatula. No joke.

But! (this is where I back track) He’s gotten better. Mellow(ish).

This time around it was pleasant, easy, dare I say…fun.

Or maybe we’ve just both gotten older and decided to bend. A little.

We knocked it all out in about a week. In addition to what we knew we’d have to buy – Joe found a chair for me. He calls it the Edith chair. Are you old enough to know what I’m talking about? As in Archie and Edith? As in All in the Family? Google it.

Anyway I finally have a chair of my own. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that we situated it, by chance I swear, right across from a window. Do you know what that means?

It means that on the weekends I can sit there with my coffee and watch the neighborhood go by. I can see all the dog walkers and joggers.  I can also see the teens getting off the bus with their huge backpacks slugging their way home. Seems boring to you? Not me. I love it.

Here’s a shot of my view in my chair (working from home and daydreaming out the window) and my chair. Sorry I said “my chair” like a hundred times. I’m excited. About my chair.

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Chair

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