Things I Know About Marriage & Careers After 15 Years

01.30.13

This should be a two-word post.

Not much.

I don’t know much about marriage and careers even though I’ve been married for over 15 years.

I suspect many things and I know a lot about my marriage but I don’t know a lot about other people’s marriages. I ask about them and certainly, I observe them but if success or failure is marked by marriage or divorce then none of us know much. There are marriages I knew were doomed. I went to weddings and decided to not bring a gift because no part of me thought they’d be together at the end of the year. Some couples are unable to make a clean break and they need to get married so they can get divorced. It’s like it’s the only way they know to get away from each other.

Other marriages I simply don’t want for myself. I suspect they’re happy (perhaps in the way people with Stockholm Syndrome are happy) poking and prodding and making fun of each other. Others seem sexless and one, in particular, has me thinking that they’re both gay and closeted (even to themselves), to be fair Mr. G says that I think everyone is gay, maybe I spent too much time in West Hollywood selling tanning packages to “straight men” who had an inordinate number of gay male friends and a penchant for bodybuilding, hair waxing and tanning nude. Maybe I just see the world a little differently.

My friend Cassie is starting a new relationship and as everyone who is married or living with someone knows, the first year is really tough. It’s not tough in a way that folks understand when they’re in it, it’s difficult in hindsight. My husband and I were strangers sharing a home, a cubbyhole really in the hillside. We had to figure out how we saved money (hah! there was none), how we earned money, who got the computer, who scooped the cat shit and who our friends were. We had to decide on bedtimes, morning routines, food and newspaper sections. Everything was a negotiation the first year and it was easy because we were madly in love and really couldn’t get enough of each other. When people date for 5 and 7 years before marrying or cohabiting I wonder if it’s more difficult having some of the bloom off the rose?

So Cassie and I were talking about Penelope’s post where she talks about the different ways to be married to someone successful and I sort of bristled. I didn’t say it out loud (because I’m trying to develop tact) but hasn’t Penelope been divorced? More than once? She’s crazy, right? Or maybe she’s just crazy smart. I don’t know, I haven’t read enough to make that judgment but something tells me there’s a bit of mania involved with her ascent to the top. I say that without judgment, with some amount of reverence even. I’ve become a bit of a slug in the winter months I could use a dose of mania.

So there’s this post where Penelope Trunk outlines the kind of marriage you can have if you want kids. According to her, there are the following scenarios for women:

Be the breadwinner

  • Marry a Stay at home dad
  • Use nannies

Be home with your kids

  • Work part-time
  • Don’t bother earning money

I’ve read and re-read that post a dozen times and I’m wanting to pick it apart and be able to say, with authority, “This is insane, there are more options for mothers than this. There is a balance, there’s a way to have a career that doesn’t dip into your personal life. It’s all possible.”

I can’t say that. If you’re thinking of marriage and you know you want to be someone’s mother these are discussions to have before conception. I’d argue that this is a decision to make while dating, before getting serious.

No matter which route you go it’s tough to adjust to marriage and to parenting. I cannot begin to comprehend what it’s like to adjust to parenting someone else’s child. My mother married when I was 15 or so and our stepfather had to walk a fine line. I think he did it gracefully as teenage years are not imbued with grace.

There’s a particular challenge in being the non-earner. It’s been difficult to give up control of our future and basically bet it all on one man that I met at a boozy party when I was 25. Obviously, we’re the thing movies are made of. We still like each other, we haven’t filed bankruptcy and the kids seem to be well adjusted. I’m only minimally jealous of my husband.

Yes. I am often envious of my husband. Which makes ZERO sense because when I go to pilates today he will be meeting that will likely wring him out and use every bit of energy he has. But he’s doing it in a luxury hotel so I convince myself that it’s all fabulousness and luxe and there’s no actual work involved and then I feel sorry for myself that I’m home.

And then I start arguing with myself (maybe Penelope and I have a little bit of The Crazy in common) and I remind myself that the man works long hours and I don’t. I should stop being petty and jealous of his amazing dinners. Then I remind myself again that we are different people and he doesn’t actually love fancy dinners with strangers. He doesn’t thrive on it. This is actual work for him. So I start feeling grateful and not at all put out that I have to rush to FedEx to get a tie that he forgot sent overnight. In fact, I hoped to myself that he would be as generous with me and my pending trip to Australia.

Then we got to chatting a little more and I found out that someone booked his flight from Los Angeles to New Orleans via Minneapolis. No. I cannot explain why. I can’t even get a slightly slow eight-year-old to look at a map of the US and explain how that happened. I chatted with him about ways to fix the return flight (which has similar idiocy built into it) and joked with him about needing a private jet.

Which is when I began to resemble this lady.

In marriage it's easy to turn green with envy, and equally important not to.

 

Mr. G explained that his trip in late February would indeed involve a private jet to the east coast. I love that man and I want wonderful things for him but sometimes the perks of being the one who works leave me feeling a little left behind.

And it’s just a feeling. We don’t cater to feelings here. We cater to actions.

 

Small Surgeries With Big Outcomes

09.28.12

My husband had always sniffled a little more than most. It wasn’t until he took a baseball to the nose that the sniffling and breathlessness was completely out of control. Little League broke my husband and only a talented surgeon could unbreak him.

In keeping with his general Type-A personality it took a lot of work to schedule his surgery. In addition to all the pre-op requirements we then had to make a last minute maneuver to go from an 8am start to a 1pm start. Why? Well, my beloved had a morning meeting that he felt like he couldn’t miss. I brought him to work and then at 11 sharp we flew him outta that office got to Cedars and started surgery day.

I found that I was completely exhausted and there was nothing physically draining about the morning (except that I hadn’t eaten). Emotionally I was battered… although that didn’t make a whole lot of sense either. As soon as they took Mr. G in to start IVs and whatnot I ran across the street to the Capital Grille for a soup and salad. Partway through the salad my phone rang, it was Mr. G and as soon as I answered it the call dropped. I inhaled my salad, threw an AMEX at the waiter and ran back to the surgery center.

On the way back to the surgery center I noticed a family who I’d seen in the waiting room. They were all wearing tee shirts that read, “H’ears to Lucy”. When you see four people wearing the same cheery shirts it’s okay to start a conversation, right? I said, “Excuse me. My husband is having surgery too and I couldn’t help but notice your shirts. Is someone having a cochlear implant?” And I was shocked by the answer. Lucy is apparently getting ears. Really. She was born without them and there may or may not be an ear canal but there’s a growth of some sort that needs to come out… It’s a long story but of course they have a blog and a spectacular attitude.

Surgery centers are cold places and I don’t mean that figuratively. If you think about where new diseases and life forms come from it’s the equator where it’s warm and damp. Hospitals are places where you don’t want things to grow and thrive so they are cold and dry. I figured I could just as easily wait in the warm car as I could in the cold waiting room so I hopped in and as I went to put the seat down to a napping position (okay I love a good nap) I noticed there was no gas in it.

After filling up with gas I drove down 3rd Street and decided I’d earned a treat so I popped into the Magnolia Bakery. I had perfect parking and wandered in and looked in the display cases when something truly incredible happened. I wasn’t interested. When I looked at the cupcakes I could see the flour and sugar in them and I realized that they’d give me headaches and my joints would be disasters. I think I’ve officially lost interest in foods that make me feel bad. This is a miracle, perhaps more than a miracle. I don’t mean to eclipse the fact that at that same moment a surgeon had his hand inside my husband’s head. Or maybe I do, because not wanting a cupcake in the midst of an emotional day is a quite possibly more miraculous than anything I’ve ever heard of.

I sat down to read my text messages and found out that Cassie is both gay and bulimic. One of these things worries me. One of them does not. Note: to all my friends (and Cassie is a good one) please come out to me not in a blog post… or if you do come out in a blog post make it your own site so I don’t have to link to strangers. That’s really all I’m asking. The bulimia is upsetting. Hopefully Cassie will love every part of herself one day very soon, she certainly is deserving of that.

By 4pm Mr. G’s septum was undeviated and some bone had been shaved down. They called me in and the surgeon was all excited to tell me about it even when he went into excruciating detail and the color drained from my face. By 4pm I was the last person left in the waiting room and they called me in.

My husband was wasted. Not like a litte bit but like fucking with the nurses wasted. He kept asking them for aftercare instructions and they were like, “Your wife has everything.” To which he’d reply with some nonsense about his mind being a steel trap. Totally believable if you aren’t slurring your words. He, of course, was anxious to get back to work even wondering if he could get back to the office. I can see where Percocet and email would be great for a career.

And then the vomiting started. It wasn’t Mr. G but it was someone in that recovery room. There was gagging, retching and splashing. Actual splashing sounds. So I did what every wife would do. I smiled at the nurse, thanked him for helping my husband and ran into the hallway.

They loaded him into the car and I brought my very wasted husband home while he babbled ridiculousness and I wondered aloud if he’d be a fun drunk. I think he probably would.

Upon our arrival at home the kids greeted us quietly, the dog didn’t give a shit how anyone felt and bounced around like a lunatic. I ran up and downstairs about 93 times brining Mr. G. sorbet, water and juices. Then my mother (who clearly hates me) asked if we had a bell.

“A bell?” I say.

“Yes a bell, so he can ring it when he needs something.” She’s been watching Downton Abbey I suppose.

And then I realized that we do have a bell. It’s a little Liberty Bell that my friend bought my kids when she went to Pennsylvania many years ago. It was one of those gifts that just keeps on giving. First she provided a bell for my four year old son and now the bell is in the hands of a stoned on Percocet maniac who thinks he should work right after surgery.

The bell. It’s ringing.

 

 

BlogHer 2011 Observations

08.7.11

BlogHer 11 started with giggles and ended in uncontrollable laughter. I’d been promised a Nissan Murano for the drive to San Diego, unfortunately someone crashed the car a few days before the event and it just wouldn’t be out of the body shop in time.

The folks at Nissan were very apologetic, but hey, these things happen. They explained to me that there was one car left from the fleet, a Frontier. I said I’d take it, and then I googled Nissan Frontier.

OMG a pick’em up truck. A BIG ASS PICK UP TRUCK.

We drove this exact same nissan Frontier 2011 to BlogHer in San Diego

So I called my friend Carley who was driving down with me and I explained to her that we would be having a different experience. Since Carley has historically been open to my stupid ideas I felt fairly certain she’d be open to this. We had an absolute blast driving the Frontier down.

I will preemptively answer a few questions you might have about two women driving a Nissan Frontier:

  • Yes, it gets a lot of attention
  • No, I cannot park it very well
  • Yes, when we dropped it off with the valet we then made the valet take our suitcases and stuff them in the cab for safety
  • Yes, the kids think I’m the coolest mom in town
  • No, we didn’t go off-roading (but I’ve still got 24 hours)
  • Yes, the visibility is awesome
  • No, there were no problems getting in and out in a skirt and heels
  • 90 MPH is too fast to drive on a lightly curved highway interchange, though we broke no laws and absolutely were driving safely with the flow of traffic

Back to BlogHer. As I’d expected, no one cared what anyone wore. No one was judgy except me. I got one look at my friend Carly’s handbag and decided that I absolutely HAD to have one. (see not all judgement is bad). I grabbed Cassie and my pick up truck and the concierge gave us directions to Barney’s in Fashion Valley.

Except there was no Barneys, it was a Barney’s Co-Op which definitely wouldn’t have the amazing Proenza Schouler bag that I still must own. So Cassie and I hit up Neimans and I found a great dress and a pair of crisp white bermuda shorts that were on sale. Because of the sale prices Mr G now owes me $423, it’s called wife math.

Later that evening I had an amazing dinner in a sea of blones. Cassie, Kathy, Claire and I headed to Nobu and proceeded to eat and drink and chat for two hours. It was one of those dinners that you want to never end. I couldn’t get enough of their stories, the travel, the career building, the rapid ascents, the love stories. I wanted to drink in their successes and force them all to blog endlessly so that I can read about it more. I hunger for moments like these, smart women sharing knowledge. I don’t get enough of it.

I attended one session. It was good.

I met with brand representatives from a dozen or companies, some of whom I’ve worked with, some of whom I will never work with but I will play matchmaker with a friend. They were all anxious to work with bloggers, and they will have varying degrees of success if they don’t get in their own way.

I had a stumbly dinner with Cathy and Laurie and I’m hoping that someone can explain to me why shoes that fit me six months ago are now so big that I walk right out of them. My feet are not shrinking.

I changed hotel rooms. If you ever have to stay at the Marriott Marquis in Downtown San Diego do not under any circumstances accept a room with city views. Trains go by every half hour or so all night long, and just as you’re about to drift off to sleep a train whistle will wake you up. The first night was somewhere beyond miserable. The second night we faced the harbor, it was much better.

Bloggers are smart. Don’t let their cutesy icons fool you, these women are building meaningful businesses.

There are a few new startups that I fell in love with. Follow @PopSalad on twitter, it’s evolving into something fun. Parents, you’ll want to watch for Vikido. It’s good stuff. Tom was there from Cmp.ly, if you aren’t using cmp.ly you’re working too damn hard.

I hate to be negative, because 98% of BlogHer was fabulous. I have just one PR agency that I can’t work with. Over the years I’ve had nothing but terrible pitches from them followed by 2-3 follow up emails that were less like follow ups and more like nagging. They aren’t a small shop, they’re just a shop I’m not a match with. This shop recently hired a fellow blogger as part of their team. When I met up with the blogger we chatted and she told me all about the work she was up to with the agency and all the perks of blogging.

I was confused because the blogger/publicist had provided me with access to the client company yet she was telling me about how her blog got 1,000 hits a day from her interviews with executives and creatives from that same company. Then she went on to tell me that she loved working with _____ as a blogger because of the perks and she was already a fan. So I smiled and walked away.

I love when publicists blog. There are too many great PR blogs to mention. I love when bloggers find jobs within public relations firms. What I saw at BlogHer (and again, it’s just this one shop that I saw it with) is that the best access will go to the bloggers who work there. I am staying far far away.

I was sad to see so many women smoking. I won’t sermonize, but it made me sad.

The phrase I most often heard was, “I’m not just a blogger.” They would go on to talk about their other talents and social media influence. I felt badly for these ladies too, because there’s nothing wrong with being a blogger. I’m just a blogger.