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

Summer status

We’ve been on a roll. Or in a car. Or on a boat. It’s mid-July, summer vacations (for our kids) are in full swing. We’ve already hit bad traffic, gotten lost, forgotten things at home and gotten into fights in the car. We’ve had buckets of ice cream, been to margaritaville a few times, and had enough watermelon to feed a small melon-less country. In between summer fun my husband has been expanding his business and I have been working some late nights – but somehow it doesn’t matter in the summer! It’s not pitch black at 6. There’s no teacher’s note about something I’ve forgotten to send into school. People tend to be a little more relaxed and happy. It’s enjoyable.

My daughter has been moonlighting with my husband at his cleaning company – helping out and making a little extra money. I told her it’s great that she’s working with her dad because she needs to learn about the empire she’ll probably inherit one day. She didn’t laugh. I laughed. I think I’m hysterical.

In other news, as my son commented that we have been in a “boaty” mood. We spent 4th of July with my husband’s cousin Bobby who just bought the most beautiful boat. For weeks prior to our trip to see him I told people I was going to DC for the 4th. Because I really thought I was. Someone (my husband obvi) had told me DC. I’m sure of it. He’s sure I’m making that up. He said I never actually asked where we were going. I just assumed. That’s crazy. Why would I do that? Anyway we were nowhere near DC – we were in Soloman’s Island, Maryland. We passed DC and then kept driving another hour. It didn’t matter what land mass we were on because we spent the majority of the weekend on the water and it was beautiful. But in the future, I’ll confirm DC before I say DC.

Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited by one of our good friends, April and Pat, to Pat’s childhood home in CT. This time I knew where I was going. It just so happened that they also just got a new boat. Thus our “boaty” mood. We always have loads of fun with them and this time was no exception – one of my favorite moments was hearing about a racist dog in their family. At first I thought they were kidding – after a few examples we decided I should probably never meet that dog – just in case. I also got to spend some quality time with one of their good friends (let’s call her D in case she wants to deny knowing me later) who reads my blog often. I’m not gonna lie. I loved that D remembered long-ago details of my life that I have already forgotten. I know other people would feel moments of panic and loss of personal privacy – I felt like Madonna. Thank you D for making my day so I can pretend people are actually reading and remembering my crazy blog. April is also a blogger so she totally gets it. Check out her blog (http://planetoftheapeblog.com/) to read more about racist and non-racist dogs.

How’s your summer? Are you having fun? Why don’t you ever talk back? Sigh. It’s ok. I love you anyway.

Here’s hoping you are having a “boaty” “beachy” “barbecue-y” good time. Here’s some random pics from my last few weeks. A sparkler…because why not? A picture of my girl working hard for her money. My hydrangeas because I’ve missed them so. And my boy…because why not?


  
  

I had onions for lunch

Now you know. I didn’t have JUST onions but I thought it was important to tell you that they were a big part of that particular meal.

If I was alone in the world I would have onions for lunch every day. And for dinner. I could even squeeze them into breakfast. Actually I could more than squeeze them in. Have you ever had a plain bagel with scallion cream cheese, tomato and red onion? Or an omelette that’s so full of onions and peppers that you can’t really see the egg?

I’m in the office today and the rest of my team is either off or working from home. In fact the entire floor is pretty vacant so I thought I was safe. I’ve been trying to have salads at least once a day and nothing makes a salad better than…yep.

Alone in the office. No in-person meetings. The next human I’ll see today will be at 6:30pm. Hours after consumption. I had no choice. The stars were aligned.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks. An insane work schedule mixed with the usual family obligations mixed with unexpected health scares (my mom – who is recovering like a champ). Can you blame me for letting off some steam? Going a little crazy? Letting my hair down? Sure I could have turned to alcohol and drugs – I still may – but for now, this will do.

Anyway – I gotta go brush my teeth and eat a pack of mints.

Chicken Wings vs. Vick’s

Oh what a week! Our whole family has been fighting a cold/allergy/tuberculosis type of cough. This post could have easily been called Phlegm Tales but that’s just gross.
IF I were to write about phlegm I’d tell you that after hacking up a lunge for a couple of days your entire face gets congested. The whole thing.
My baby girl was totally covered in it all weekend. Usually I sequester my kids in their rooms like prisoners when they’re sick, but I felt so bad for her. Nothing can really help you, you have to let it run its course. But I did what my mom would have done for me. I ignored all the warnings on the jar of Vick’s and put some in boiling water and let her steam it in. Does it help? Yes. Is it toxic? Maybe. But you get a good nights sleep – so there’s that.

My baby boy has a bit of a cough thing too, but his cure is much different. See photos below of both for proof. His healing comes from a pile of chicken wings. People are different. What can you say.

And I know that talking about how busy you are is the new black, but I’ve been really busy!!

I did however take time to marvel at this woman who I’ve never seen before on my commute. She got on. Found a seat. Put away her 4 bags/coats etc. and then took out a full-on make-up bag. Not a travel bag, no no, a folding tri-fold bag with all her essentials in it. She then spent the next 65 minutes applying make-up. I had kind of noticed it the other day, but I was dozing in and out of reality trying to stay awake. Today I noticed. Today I was alert. Today I set a timer on my phone. 3 different concealers before the base coat even went on. 3! Then there was a highlighter type thing around her eyes and corners of her mouth. Followed by powder (loose applied with a big brush). The actual color portion of the application was really cool too. I couldn’t see all the little details, but I did see the dark liner, bronzer used as blush and hot pink lipstick. Hot pink lipstick! It totally inspired me to put on more lip gloss. I’m not embarrassed to say that I took a small pic of her. Pretend it’s not creepy that I did that and take a look below.

To round off the strange pictures I thought you’d like to see what I had for dinner on Tuesday night. Deconstructed taco. Which is basically like all the stuff that falls out of your taco at the end and, if you are like me, you think it tastes so much better than the actual taco. If you don’t agree, no worries, go on with your whole, intact taco you communist.

Just kidding. Communists don’t eat tacos. Happy almost Friday to you all.

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