25 February 2010


I stopped at the fancy deli near daycare last night, to pick up some fancy prepared food, since my husband was working late. I took a little longer than I needed to figuring this out -- why are there so many offerings with tomatoes and corn, both far out of season? Is the spinach cous cous any different from the regular kind? I ended up with a brie-and-onion quiche that already feels like a disappointment, and it's still warming up in the toaster oven.

On the way out, I was startled by a big wet heap of snow falling on my head and arm. It was heavy and hard enough to feel like there might be a rock in it. The man behind me laughed.

"It's not actually funny," I said to him.

"No," he agreed, a little too jovially, "but sometimes it just happens."

Well, sure, and a minute or two after it happened, I was over it and planning to tell the internet. Two seconds after it happened, I realized that the wet heap was something that had slid off the awning of the fancy deli. Three seconds after, I realized there wasn't more to come.

But one second after it happened I thought: someone is throwing snowballs at me from the building above. Kids, maybe teenagers. I had a flash of that panicky sick feeling in my stomach that I got in elementary school when someone was picking on me.

What? You don't still get that?

I don't remember any specific incidents of being targeted by snowballs, but I do remember there were the throwers who were jovial, "hey let's just aim for trees and lob at people's backs"-sort, and there were the "take no prisoners, heads are fair game, we actually want to hurt people and a snowball fight gives us a modicum of cover to do so"-types. They probably grew up to be Rush Limbaugh fans.

Hard to say whether the man who laughed at me was in the latter group, but since I walked behind him for the next block, I got to target his back with my laser-like stare of indignation until he turned to head uptown. That'll show him.

18 February 2010

We Need a New Term for This

A was crabby, the bus driver was doing that annoying driving-slow-so-we-don't-catch-up-to-the-bus-in-front-of-us thing, the temperature was above freezing, so I got off the bus a few blocks early.

A promptly fell asleep, as he has been doing a lot lately. (Note to self: Tell husband to confront daycare people about getting baby to nap more.) Despite the fact that I am doing all the carrying either way, there is something about a sleeping baby on your chest that feels heavier than an awake one. At these times, he's a dead weight.

Except you really don't want to use the words dead and baby in the same thought, do you?

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17 February 2010

Completely Unsolicited Advice for Job Seekers

I do a fair amount of hiring in my job, and in our current economic situation, every time I post a new position, I get hundreds of responses, enough to draw some conclusions about the quality of our work force. I am a little scared. I don't mind honest mistakes -- in New York City, a lot of people don't have English as a first language, which can lead to some interesting sentences. ("It was quite fantastic to see the posting as I have been looking to work more of a corporate type of responsibilities with a great business morality.")

But there are some basic things you can do that will help you keep out of the automatic 'no' pile. So:

Unless you are applying for a graphic design position (in which case you'd have a portfolio anyway), don't design your resume too much. There are standard templates that are fine; if you are ambitious you can create something yourself, but it just has to be clear and readable. Make sure there is enough white space to make this so.

If you have less than 10 years experience, your resume should almost certainly still be on one page. After 15 years, it should almost certainly run to two, but those kind of resumes require more advanced advice than I'm giving here.

Your resume and cover letter should have your name in the document title. Attach them to your email as PDFs rather than Word files if you can.

Your cover letter should be in the body of your email as well as in an attachment and be a brief rundown of your experience. If you don't know a lot about the job you are applying for -- because it's a generic posting on Monster or Craigslist that doesn't list the name of the company -- please don't tell me how much you want to join my organization.

Your cover letter should also tie together any disparate experiences that don't logically flow one to the next. If you don't have a lot of relevant work experience to the job you're applying for, foreground anything in previous jobs that might be applicable, or is generally good -- increased responsibilities, strong work ethic, willingness to learn.

Have an email address that is not stupid, and preferably has your name in it. Not everyone can get JohnSmith @ gmail.com, but you can certainly get something better than crazeejohnnie or bigguyjohn. Those are the email equivalents of wearing a t-shirt and sneakers to a job interview. Nothing wrong with them per se; they're just not right when you're asking someone to hire you. Save your casual clothes and online presence for your friends.

If your address and all your work experience is in a city far away from the one you're applying for a job in, explain that fact. There's probably a good reason -- maybe you just moved here or are planning to -- but without that explanation, I'm going to assume you can't be here for an interview tomorrow.

Spell check. Grammar check. By which I don't mean that you should run Word's grammar check, which is pretty silly. I mean you should actually read what you are sending before you send it. If you are still in school, your high school or college probably has a career office that can help. If not, get a friend to read your resume and cover letter. If you don't have anyone, send them to me with RESUME HELP as the email subject line.

There's more, so much more, perhaps for another post. Good luck out there!

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15 February 2010

Facing the Music: Pants Edition

When I got pregnant, I complained to my best friend that I was gaining too much weight. I didn't want to look pregnant months after giving birth, so if I could keep to the lower end of the 25-35 pounds recommendation, most of it would come off with the baby, right?

I have never been able to not eat when I'm hungry. Even in college, when friends flirted with eating disorders, and skipping meals seemed like an easy way to fit into my semi-formal dress, I couldn't do a starvation diet for more than a half a day, which is basically just having a late lunch.

And I was hungry, really hungry while pregnant. All the time, even while nauseous. In fact, the best remedy for my upset stomach was a huge bowl of mashed potatoes. 25 pounds? I wish.

My best friend was very patient with me, and repeated the adage for our baby-weight obsessed age: nine months on, nine months off.

Nine months? Maybe for you, sister! I have lots of friends who were more or less back to their old size three months post partum. I'd be breastfeeding, and everyone knows that just makes the weight fall off, right?

Except. Those friends who lost the weight easily? All naturally thin to begin with, or people who genuinely could not wait to get back to their daily run or yoga class. Whereas I take more of a, I know it's good for me, I guess I'll go to the gym, hey, this isn't so bad, I should do this more often, but, nah, I'm really tired tonight-type approach to it.

It's been nearly a year, and I'm still 10 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding? I'm happy to do it, and A could not be healthier. But as a weight-loss plan, it sucks. I'm ravenous all the time, except when I've just eaten. Then I'm merely hungry. And not for lean protein.

I'd be lying if I said I'd made my peace with my current size, but it is what it is. But those 10 pounds? All concentrated in the spot where my pants should be closing. I bought larger sizes when I returned to work last summer, and when the weather grew cooler, was able to sausage myself into the fattest of my fat pants, but now I’m stuck.

I'm tired of being uncomfortable and having ill-fitting clothing. My solution? Certainly not to diet. I don't want my milk supply to drop, and anyway, ravenous, remember? So, new pants!

I'll save you the details of my sprint to the shops today, but suffice it to say, Banana Republic, I was willing to pay full price for a pair of pants that fit, and all you have on offer is the skinny variety? Ann Taylor Loft, you're no better. You're supposed to be the fall back for women like me -- not trendy, but reliable when you just need something to fit. If you're trying to compete for fashionistas, with your two-and-a-half-inch-rise jeans, I'm doomed.

I found one pair -- ONE -- that fit, looked good and didn't need to be hemmed. I plan to wear them a lot. But hopefully only for another few months.

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11 February 2010

Come Here Often?

In my previous post, I may have implied that the baby was preventing me from walking in the cold and dark that is February. In truth, of our little family of three (five if you count Luca and Oz, the heat-seeking cats who crowd us out of bed every night), A is the most equanimous in the face of freezing temperatures.

With the later sunset, a clear sky and a temperature slightly above freezing this evening, I thought we could brave the walk home after work. A few blocks in, it was clear A wasn't having it -- he was tired, cranky, in need of a nap an hour previously. I sang a few rounds of Doe, a Deer, and he was out.

(Tangentially: why can I only keep one or two songs at the ready at any given time? Lately, we've had a lot of Doe, a Deer; She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain, complete with the "kill the old red rooster" line which is a little shocking, but absolutely necessary to the sense of the song; and the Wheels on the Bus, god help me, a song I swore I'd never sing to my children after suffering through it with my younger nieces and nephews, but which turns out to be a crowd pleaser.)

I kept going, despite the sleeping baby, through Madison Square Park, past the Shake Shack that had no line -- I could have had my daily limit of delicious sodium, no waiting -- past several snowmen of the three-lump variety. Then there was this duo, delicately carved, lounging, enjoying the twilight.

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Snow Day

I haven't been doing much walking, or Excellent Walkering for that matter, for lots of reasons, most of which have to do with the cold, and the dark, and taking A in the cold and dark is a pain, plus yesterday, there was snow. So much snow, or so much promise of snow, in fact, that there was an official Snow Day -- NYC public schools were closed. Our daycare follows their closings, so despite the fact that only five inches fell and the city did a bang-up job of keeping those plowed away as soon as they fell, the baby and I stayed home.

I love daycare. I can say many positive things about it -- A has always been a sociable little guy and being around so many different people every day has only reinforced that. He's has some separation anxiety from time to time -- not when he's left there, but when I leave a room -- but never any stranger fear. This could be a bad thing later on, but for now, when he's charming the tired after-work bus riders into a smile and a ba ba ba, it's great. Plus, I assume he'll effortlessly learn to wait his turn and share his toys at some point in toddlerhood, saving his father and I from actually having to discipline him.

I need to work for the usual reasons, so don't spend a lot of time second guessing our daycare decision, but if there's anything that brings on my deep-seated guilt reflex (Catholic upbringing, see), it's this: A takes huge developmental leaps every time he spends a day with my or my husband's undivided attention. The multi-consonant chattering, the tentative steps clutching on to our hands, the commando-style clawing his way across the floor -- these all happened at the ends of weekends, not the beginning.

Yesterday was no different. Around 6, I was starting to get weary, playing on the floor of A's bedroom, waiting for it to be bathtime. I put my head to the carpet, in Child's Pose. I looked up to see him doing the same. I bent down again, he bent down again. Over and over, my little yogini followed me.

What could he be doing if he had me home all the time? Reading? Sorting the recycling? Saying more than one word, or applying that one word to only the thing it actually represents and not several things it doesn't? Then I remembered. In addition to other kids and sharing and French lessons for god's sake, daycare has a yoga instructor in once a week. Maybe the snow day was keeping him back.

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