Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dear Marissa Mayer

You really stepped in it, didn't you?

By now the entire world has read about your edict at Yahoo! that all employees have to work in the office. That you will no longer allow anyone to work from home, and that any employees currently working remotely choose between returning to the office or leaving the company.

Look, I understand why you did it. I get that you are trying to resuscitate a dying company and you think that having employees physically present will help do that. Or maybe you think that this new rule will help foster an atmosphere of cohesion and creativity that has been missing at Yahoo! as of late. And the truth is that in a perfect world, your new rule seems like a compelling one. But we don't live in a perfect world, and I am afraid that what you are proposing will do far more harm than good.

I know that you are just trying to do your job, and you don't mean to make a statement on working parents and working women and the role that feminism plays in our places of business, but that is exactly what you are doing.

Last year you were criticized after you announced that you would only take a two week maternity leave after having your first child before beginning your tenure at Yahoo! and that you would be working at home during those weeks. And while I, and many others, thought that you were crazy, feminism is about choice, and it was certainly your choice to decide the length and character of your leave.

But what you are doing by terminating all flex-time and remote working arrangements with your employees is effectively removing choice from the equation, and making it infinitely harder for your employees to achieve the same success that you yourself enjoy.

It makes us think that you just don't understand the pressure that normal people face. Like you don't get that balancing work and life and family and kids is hard.

Because it doesn't seem like it has been particularly hard for you.

With endless financial resources, you are able to hire all the baby-sitters and nannies that you may want or need to help make sure that your child is safe and well-cared for. Because you are in charge you were able to build a private nursery near your office so that you can spend time with your baby and be in the office at the same time.

I bet there are plenty of dedicated Yahoo! employees who would love to build a nursery in their office so that they can keep their kids close. Since that is quite obviously not an option for the average working parent, instead they decided to create a flexible work arrangement so that they could be good employees and good parents all at the same time. And your policy just made that tenuous balance even shakier, if such a thing was even possible.

It's like you're telling your employees that you won't pay them to work at home, but that you will pay to bring your own home to work. How is that fair?

And it isn't just about the working parents. It's about anyone who has ever been sick. Or who has an ill parent or family member. Or who needs to wait at home one day because the washing machine repairman said that he would be there between one and five. Or who has a driveway covered in two feet of snow and completely impassable.

Life is all about balance. We all have our attention divided among a thousand different things all the time. We try to be good employees and good spouses and good friends and good parents. And sometimes, we need just a little bit of help. A little flexibility, if you will.

As a lawyer in a big Manhattan firm, I know firsthand that flexible work arrangements are not perfect. I know that there will be people who abuse them, and people for whom they just don't work. But I also know that there are plenty of people who manage them successfully, Plenty of people who use working from home as an opportunity to do good work, save time commuting, pick their kids up from school, be a physical presence in their children's lives, care for sick parents and spouses, and then open up their computer and get right back to work once the dishes are done and everyone is settled for the night.

Study after study has shown that flexibility matters to employees. That these kinds of work-from-home arrangements translate into happier and more loyal employees.

And I know that you aren't trying to make a statement on the benefits or pitfalls of a flex-time arrangement, but you are smart woman Marissa Mayer. What, exactly, did you think was going to happen?

I fear that this decision of yours is a giant step back to a time when working parents had to sneak out of the office early if they needed to pick up their kids. That it layers on even more guilt about the work-life balance at a time when working women are striving with all our might to find solutions that lighten our guilty load.

I understand that you are first and foremost a CEO trying to save a company. And if you do manage to do that, but end up with a building full of employees who are good at showing up on time but little else, what is it, exactly that you will have saved?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This is Courage

There is something intensely personal about why we watch the morning shows we watch. I know people who are staunch Today viewers. I have friends who can't start their morning without a dose of whatever CBS This Morning or the PIX-11 news is dishing out.

For me, it is Good Morning America.

Some of my very first memories are of starting my days with GMA. Every morning when I would come down for breakfast my parents had the tiny kitchen TV tuned to Charles Gibson and Joan Lunden. When I was in high school it was Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer, in law school Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts, and a month after I started my first post-law school job, it became Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, with a little Lara Spencer, Josh Elliott and Sam Champion on the side.

Each and every morning I start my day with them, and over the past twenty-five or so years, they have come to feel like family.

So six years ago when, with her sisters and Diane Sawyer by her side, Robin announced on-air that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I cried right along with her. I followed her journey, was awed by her strength, and celebrated when her treatments were over and she returned to work, as graceful and beautiful as ever.

And this past June, when Robin went public with her new fight, I was once again in front of my TV and, along with millions of others across the country, I joined #TeamRobin and was with her every step of the way. I mourned with her when she lost her mother, prayed with her as she recovered from her bone marrow transplant, updated my information in the bone marrow donation registry, and celebrated once again when she returned to work last week.

She is a shining example of what it means to be your very best self, and I am thrilled to once again be starting my mornings with her.

Welcome back Robin, and thanks for the constant reminder to seek out Light, Love, Power and Presence.

We have learned from you to be strong, be brave, be happy, smile, fight and hope.

This is courage.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Between Light and Darkness, Sacred and Profane

The candle flickered wildly as it was held high above our heads in the darkened sanctuary.

A hush fell over the crowd as the rabbi began the recitation of Havdalah - the blessing said each week to mark the end of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.

We don't normally find ourselves at a synagogue on Saturday night, but we had come to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, and stayed to hear Havdalah before we went about our night.

Layihudeem haytah orah v'simcha v'sasone v'eekar. 

There was light and joy, gladness and honor for the Jewish people. 

The ancient and familiar words washed over me as I stood surrounded by people - people who have been friendly and warm and open since our arrival in this new town almost four months ago. And the move was hard, but at that moment I felt lucky. Lucky that we have landed in this place at this time. Fortunate that, as orthodox Jews, we are a part of a community no matter where we go. That anywhere on the planet, there are people to whom we belong. To whom we are inextricably linked by the chains of our heritage and the richness of our history.

Baruch ata hashem elokainu melech haolam hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol. 

Blessed are You, Lord our God, ruler of the world, who separates the sacred from the profane

My vision had been blurred since our move. My entire existence seemingly built upon one prevailing message: "I live here now, and not there." And as someone who tends to look at life from a glass-half-full perspective, it has been disconcerting to have my usual optimism escape me.

But on that night, I felt more like myself than I had in months. I saw, for what seemed like the very first time, the beauty in beginning this new life. The unique appeal that makes this particular community different from all the other Jewish communities we considered when we were looking for our place. The rare qualities that make this place our place. What makes it important and holy. What makes it sacred rather than ordinary. 

Bein or l'choshech. 

Light from darkness.

I understood that for the past four months I had been living in a kind of darkness. Floating from day to day, just doing what came next. Missing my old life and home, and spending far too much time pondering what it would have been like to stay where we were, rather than uproot and move to where we are. Blurring the lines between what was and what is, and keeping a foot strongly planted in "before" rather than living in "after."

But standing in the darkness I was finally able to look at our move and see it in the light. I was able to see clearly an ending and a new beginning. I was, for the first time, able to point to our life in Manhattan and say that was then and this is now, and be at peace.

Baruch ata hashem hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol.

Blessed are You, Lord, who separates the sacred from the profane.

As the final blessing of Havdalah was recited and the candle was extinguished and the sanctuary came alive once more, a couple girls I had met a few days before came up to say hi. And while we were talking I glanced over at the men's section and saw David similarly surrounded by new people. By new friends.

He was smiling. And so was I.

And in those moments, I was home.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

This Life of Mine

I realize I haven't spent much time on this blog talking about how I spend my days. I mean, of course you all know by now about my early morning runsmy daily commute into Manhattan, and my addiction to TV. and you know that I'm a lawyer, but I haven't written a whole lot about my actual job. About what I do when I get to my office and sit at my desk.

Last week, as happens about four times a year, my office mailman arrived with a stack of new tax codes and regulations. These are the kinds of books that need frequent updating - you wouldn't want to dig into hours of tax research only to discover that you were using outdated codes. So when I got back to my office after a meeting, one of my chairs looked like that.

As as I sat down and started to work on a project, my gaze kept falling on that chair. And it occurred to me that anyone who walked into my office and saw those books would assume that my practice is dry, boring, and monotonous because, tax codes.

But the truth is, it is anything but.

I can't really remember a time that I didn't want to be a lawyer. I'm not sure why I decided on the law, since no one in my immediate family really practices law, but once I settled on it I never wavered. I charted my course through college with an eye towards law school, took the LSATs, filled out all the applications, and the August after I graduated, I moved into a dorm in New York City and law school began.

But even though I knew it was the law I wanted, I wasn't sure what kind. I spent my first year taking the courses that all first year students took. And even though I loved the learning - and even the studying - I wasn't wild about the subjects. Civil procedure bored me, I found contracts impossible to understand, and criminal law and constitutional law probably would have been interesting if the professors hadn't been so incredibly awful. The only classes that I really loved were legal writing and Torts. And since there is no practice called "legal writing," and I had no aspirations to put my face on a billboard advertising class action lawsuits for medical malpractice, I found myself at a bit of a loss.

And my grades reflected it. I didn't do badly my first year, but I didn't do well enough to be of any interest to the big firms that swarm law school campuses every fall to interview new second year students. And the truth is, that was fine with me. I knew that whatever path I took would be a little unconventional, and maybe a little more complicated, but I didn't mind. Complexity has never scared me.

But at the beginning of my second year, something happened. On the second day of school I found myself sitting in a class called Wills, Trusts & Estates. I registered for it because everyone said it was good for the bar exam. Most of the class was third year students who were far closer to the bar exam than I was, but the class fit into my schedule and I figured I might as well get started on those "good for the bar" classes while I had the time.

And I am forever grateful for whatever twist of fate put me in that class that most law students put off until their third year. Because I loved it, and I understood it in that deep and complex way that means whatever you are studying is right and good. It didn't hurt that the professor was fabulous - the best I had in my three years. But for the first time since law school began, I felt like maybe I had found my calling.

I ended the semester with an A+ - my first ever - and a meeting with that excellent professor who helped me chart my course for the next three semesters. During the eighteen months that followed I took classes in advanced estate planning, income tax, estate tax, family law, and various other related subjects - A's all around. And I had an internship in the trusts & estates group of one of New York's massive law firms helping the two partners with complex estate planning for some serious high net worth clients - and I was really good at it.

My career since I graduated almost five years ago has taken some interesting turns, mostly due to graduating in 2008, just a few months before the entire economy imploded, but a year and a half ago I returned to that massive law firm that gave me my first internship, this time as a full time lawyer. One of their associates was leaving the firm, and the partner I worked for during law school tracked me down and recruited me back here.

And staring at that pile of tax codes on my chair, I found myself thinking about what it is about this practice I like so much, and why pouring through those books isn't boring for me.

It's because of the stories.

In my work, my clients are people. They are men and women with kids, and parents, and relatives, and stories. I don't work for faceless companies, or defend big businesses in court. I work for families. I sit with them, and I listen to their tales, and I help them plan their estates in a way that makes their lives just a little bit easier. I work for CEOs, family business owners, stay-at-home moms and dads, authors, artists, and, one time, a 93 year old Holocaust survivor with a story I wish I could tell, because it is breathtaking. We are there for them through births, deaths, marriages and divorces. We help them through the best and the worst of what life throws their way, and, just maybe, help lighten the load a bit.

Because I love to write stories, I love to listen to stories, and I get to do that each and every day.

There are times that I dream about writing full time. About sitting at home with my keyboard and my thoughts, and devoting all of my energy to the books that I know are in my head somewhere. But right now, that is not meant to be.

I have come to understand and appreciate that this life of mine is the one I was meant to have. That the series of steps that got me here were not an accident, but rather were fated somehow.

Right now, I am meant to be here. Here at my desk, surrounded by tax codes, listening to stories, writing stories, practicing law, practicing life.

And I am happy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Writer's Roots

A little over a year into this blogging gig, I sometime think about what got me here. What is it in my past that has given me the need to put words on paper. To share pieces of myself with the world. Because it is more than just something I want to do. Over the past year, I have come to understand that, for me, writing is more of a necessity. A way to think and to process, to discover and to dream.

The fabulous Erin Margolin has been exploring the idea of "writer's roots" on her blog. Every week she has a blogger guest post about what started them down their writing path, and this week, that blogger is me.

So head on over to her site and read my piece about my writer's roots, my reader's soul, and my freakishly early grasp of the English language.

Thanks for having me, Erin. Stay warm and dry, and enjoy your snow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Running at Dawn, Part II

This past weekend I flew to Pittsburgh to visit my parents. Anytime I have a Monday off, I plan a Pittsburgh trip, and since my one of my sisters and her family live in Cleveland, a mere two hour drive from my parents' house, it's usually a two for one deal, which suits me just fine. I get antsy if I can't see my parents and my sister at least once a month.

And since my sister had a baby - and my very first niece - last year, I have been making these trips far more often to smother this little girl with presents and love.

Can't get enough of this face

It was a fabulous weekend, as they always are.

But the thing about traveling right now is that I am training for a half-marathon this coming May, so I am starting to run some pretty long distances. And, since training doesn't care about trips, late nights, or changes in schedule, I knew I had to get a run in while I was in Pittsburgh. A six mile run to be exact.

Since we had planned to drive to Cleveland on Sunday morning for the day, I didn't have much of a choice but to wake up for a 6am run before we left.

So I did.

It seems that I have a bit of an affinity for early morning runs these days, because after the shock and slight annoyance of my alarm going off at the crack of dawn, I thoroughly enjoyed my morning run through my favorite city in the world. It had snowed a couple inches on Saturday night, and flurries were still falling as I made my way out of the house.

For a long while I was the only one out on the roads, except for a few other runners who were obviously training for the same race I am.

And, since I love Pittsburgh, and especially love running Pittsburgh, I couldn't help but capture some shots of the stillness and beauty of my early morning jaunt.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Running at Dawn

The pounding of my running shoes was the only sound in the still dawn, until I heard the beeping. I ran towards it, unable to find the source, knowing only that the shrill noise had knocked me off my stride.

In my confusion, I tripped over a crack in the street, but before I could hit the ground, I was swimming through murky black towards the noise that got louder and louder.


I snapped into consciousness and fumbled for my alarm in the dark, eyes still closed. 

Dreaming, I realized, incredibly disappointed to find that I was still in bed and hadn't, in fact, gone for my run yet. But now it was time.

The three miles looming ahead of me might as well have been three hundred for how insurmountable it seemed as I struggled to unravel myself from the toasty tangle of blankets.

My desperation to reset the alarm and sleep another hour bordered on painful, and even as I swung my legs over the side of the bed, I bargained with myself. I could sleep this morning and run tomorrow. I could run Wednesday and Friday instead of Tuesday and Thursday. But even in my exhaustion I knew that argument was a slippery slope. With a marathon looming in the distance, routine was critical.

Up, I ordered myself.

Get dressed.

With an ease born from many mornings picking my way through a pitch black bedroom, I pulled on the running clothes I had laid out the night before.

With a last longing look at my bed piled with pillows and my still-sleeping husband, I left the room.

I floated down the stairs in a cloud of exhaustion and laced up the running shoes that I left right in front of the door. When one gets up before the sun, it is best to leave little to chance.

The street was silent, all the windows still dark as I began to run.

My legs were heavy with fatigue, and my lungs burned as I breathed in the frigid winter air. I fought for every step as I slogged my way through the miles.

I huffed and puffed up the hills, thinking of a hot shower. Hot coffee. More sleep.

Strange pains pricked my knees, shins and feet and I wondered why I subjected myself to this cruel early-morning torture three times a week. I thought how exhausted I would be all day long, and cursed my job for its long hours, leaving me no choice but to run at this ungodly hour of the morning.

But as I rounded the corner towards home, I saw the sun, a brilliant ball of fire, rising in the sky. Wild bursts of color dotted the horizon. Alone on the still quiet street, I stopped for a second to watch, my fatigue slowly draining away.

I felt strong. Powerful. Fierce.

I am a runner.

And a voice inside my head whispered, "this is why."

I ran the last few yards to my house, ready to face the day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Reminder of Happiness and Love

Forget flowers? No problem, if you live in NYC.
Just buy them on the street.

Happy Valentine's Day romance lovers!

Single, in a relationship or married, I have been a pretty big fan of this day ever since I discovered romance novels almost fifteen years ago. What I loved about the romance novel, almost instantly, was that I knew that, without a doubt, I would be happy when the book ended. Two wildly good-looking people would discover that they were perfect for each other, and would go on to live happily ever after. And if, by chance, the book was part of a trilogy, as most of my favorites are, than we would get to see this wildly good-looking couple live happily-ever after beyond the confines of their own story. About as perfect as you can get.

There is so much sadness and hate everywhere these days. You can't read a newspaper or turn on the news without hearing something guaranteed to make you cringe, which is why I almost never do either of those things unless I absolutely have to.

When I open the New York Times I only read stories like this one, about 97 year old Ada Bryant and 86 year old Robert Haire, who were married last month after meeting in a Retirement Community. Because how can you not smile at their most unusual love story and while reading sentences like "The bride, 97, is keeping her name."

Leave the sadness for someone else, just give me the happy please.

So I have always liked this day. This day that celebrates love, and romance, and happiness. I get the arguments against it. You shouldn't need a day to tell the people close to you that you love them, love should be celebrated every day, and blah, blah, blah. But, we're human, and we're busy and tired and occasionally pretty self-focused. And sometimes, we need a little reminder to appreciate the people in our lives.

Romance novels, and Valentine's Day, for me, are that reminder. To focus on love and happiness. To value the idea of being inextricably connected with another person, be it a partner, spouse, sibling, or friend. We live in a big bad world, and grabbing some time to focus on goodness in our lives can never hurt.

And today, that reminder is everywhere. This morning when I woke up, I decided to have a little treat in honor of this delightful day, and I thought that a couple donut holes along with my regular coffee and romance novel would be just the thing. But when I made my habitual stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way to the train, there were no donut holes, there was only this:

Only heart-shaped donuts on the menu today

I've read enough already this morning to know that its popular, and fashionable even, to grumble about this heart shaped day. But I think maybe it's time to shift focus. To make this day about celebrating the miracle of the connections in our lives, be they romantic or otherwise. To focus on the people who make our lives happier, richer, and infinitely worth living. 

And, if you're so inclined, while you are appreciating all those people, grab yourself a pink, heart-shaped and frosted snack this morning. 

I already did, and it was glorious.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


It's been such a hectic week, I didn't even get a chance to write about this past weekend's epic snowstorm. Now, you know how much I love winter, and I dearly love a good snow, but this winter has been pretty disappointing so far since that random freak storm at the beginning of November.

Well, last weekend made up for it in spades.

From the way the news was talking about the impending blizzard, you would think that the apocalypse was near. I know that after Sandy the Northeast is a little weather-wary, but honestly, this is winter. It snows. Sometimes it snows a lot. No need to stockpile canned goods and bottled water.

I did head to the grocery store on Thursday night to buy our special snow day snacks. When I was growing up and it would snow (which living in Pittsburgh, it did, and often), my mom would have special treats for us when we came in from playing outside, and I saw no reason not to carry that tradition into my adult life. So I stocked up on hot chocolate, ice cream, and stuff to make cookies and grilled cheese. The basics, you know?

When I woke up Friday morning, it was already snowing. In the city it was still all rain, but in the northern suburbs, the accumulation had begun.

By the time I left my office at 2, after the powers that be closed the office early, the city was a slushy, cold mess, and I hobbled my way to Grand Central Station for the train home. There wasn't much snow yet, but the second the train crossed into Westchester County, the world turned white, the roads were a disaster, and I had to clean off my car before I could drive it home.

Messy Roads

Good thing I bought an SUV

I learned to drive in Florida, and don't have a whole lot of snow driving experience, so I still get a little uneasy when this is happening outside my car:

Anyway, I made it home unscathed, and we settled in for a night of howling winds and falling snow. And we weren't disappointed. We woke up in the morning to blue skies, frigid air, and a sparkling white world.

This is what 22 inches of snow looks like on my back porch.
There are steps under there somewhere

We own a house now, so instead of sitting back and letting someone else clear the sidewalks, we realized pretty quickly that it was our responsibility, so we got the shovels out and got to work. Unfortunately, the plows on our street decided that the top of our driveway was an excellent place to deposit all the snow they plowed off the street, so we had a little work ahead of us. It took both of us, and two hours, but we finally dug everything out.

And even though I stuck close to home on Saturday, nothing would do but that I take my Sunday morning run through the still snowy streets.

The only problem with the snow? There was too much of it to melt all the way in the 40 degree temperatures we have had the past couple of days, so unfortunately, all that glorious white snow I loved so much now looks like this:

Major yuck, and with the roller-coaster temperatures and a little more wet snow on the way tonight, I think this mess will be sticking around for awhile. Too bad it can't stay white and beautiful forever right?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

City Lights

As I approached the exit for 125th Street, the city lights gleamed in welcome.

I was alone in my car, driving down the West Side Highway en route to Manhattan from our new house in White Plains. It was certainly not my first trip back since the move; I take the train to the city every weekday for work. It wasn't even my first weekend trip just for fun. But it was the first time I found myself in the driver's seat, and the first time I made the drive alone.

And it felt strange. Unnatural, even. Because when Manhattan was my home, I rarely left to go north. And when I did, I was never the one driving. So steering my brand new car towards NYC was one more sign of a fact that has been harder than I anticipated to accept.

I don't live here anymore.

For a minute, the white lines of the highway blurred as the reality of my new life washed over me.

Saturday night in the city had seemed like a great idea when I made the plans on Thursday night with my best friend. Manicures and dinner. Just like we did for the seven years we both lived on the Upper West Side, mere blocks from each other. Only now, neither of us lived there, and as I approached my exit, I wondered if going back that night was the right thing.

In the three months since my move, I had begun to like my new place quite a lot. The people were friendly, we had a great house on which we had begun to make our mark, and the town was the exact balance of urban and suburban that was a must for two people who had spent nearly a decade living in the busiest city in the world.

But I had come to realize in the past three months that it takes a long time - longer than I ever expected - for a house to become a home. And I learned that it is possible to be, at the same time, excited and hopeful for what lies ahead, and incredibly sad for what was left behind.

And it was the sadness that clung to me as I steered my car off the exit and back into my old neighborhood. I found a parking spot quickly, and, with half an hour to kill, I began to walk the streets I used to call my own.

The brightly lit windows along Broadway beckoned passers-by, offering warmth and welcome, but I continued to walk. Ice crunched under my feet and the bitter cold wind seared my cheeks as I wandered alone around the place that used to be mine.

On every corner I saw myself. As a fresh college graduate, wide-eyed and new to the big city. Walking with my best friends in heels that were far too impractical for the city streets. Carrying a bag filled with heavy law books, on my way to one cafe or another. Strolling hand-in-hand with the man I would marry. Celebrating our engagement. As a newly-wed.

This is the place that made me. These city streets tell my story.

But as I passed a store unfamiliar to me - a store that opened after I left - I realized that they don't tell my whole story. That there is a new chapter to be written, on the streets of a different city, not all that far away from where I stood.

And the clutch that had made itself at home under my heart since I moved away eased, just a little.

When I got in my car to leave at the end of the night, the car was facing south, towards my old street. And for a minute, I considered driving a few blocks out of my way to ride past my old apartment building. To stay on the Upper West Side just a few minutes longer.

But instead, I turned the car around, and headed north, towards home.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy Blogaversary to Me!

Monday. In case you missed it, over the weekend there was a huge snowstorm in the Northeast. We were buried under about two feet in my neighborhood on Friday night, and spend much of the rest of the weekend digging out. I love a good snowstorm, and this one was particularly epic. But more about that - with pictures - later in the week.

Because today, I have some rather important business to attend to. Yesterday, was a pretty important day. One I feel compelled to mention, and to write about. On February 10, 2012 - one year and one day ago - I started this blog on a whim. It was a dreary Friday afternoon, and I wasn't busy. I had been toying with the idea of writing seriously for some time, and that rainy Friday seemed as good a time as any. So in the space of an hour, I went from regular person, to blogger.

At first, I didn't have too many readers. My family, of course, but that was about it. But still, I wrote. And the more I wrote, the more I needed to write. The words just poured out of my head, and there always seemed to be more. And I read. I discovered other blogs I liked, and bloggers I respected, and I haunted their sites daily. And reading made me a better writer.

And then, about six months into this blogging gig something happened. This past August I linked up a piece I had written with the Yeah Write weekly challenge, and it was there that I discovered my community. And through them, I truly found my voice. I met other smart and talented writers, and, although we have never met in person, they became my friends. All online, we have learned about each others families, offered a hand and a shoulder in times of challenge, supported each other through Hurricane Sandy (because, amazingly, many of these lovely ladies live mere minutes from me), shared funny blizzard stories, and became a kind of family. And for them, I am incredibly grateful.

So, one year later, here I am. Writing, growing, learning, and changing. Just the way it should be. Over the weekend, I was going through my old posts trying to find a way to sum up the past 365 - now 366 - days. And rather than write more words about what this space means to me, I thought I would do a quick run down of my favorite post or two from each of the past twelve months.

Thanks for sticking with me for a whole year. Looking forward to year two.

February 2012

During my first month, I wrote about coming from a family of women who love books, and I wrote about how I can live anywhere as long as I have my romance novels in tow.


I was training for my first half-marathon when I started this blog, and one morning in March I had a completely transcendental run, followed almost immediately by an absolutely disastrous run.


In April, I took a trip to Israel, and discovered that Israeli women like romance novels too, and I explained my number one rule when I choose the books I read.


recapped my first half-marathon in May, and I read the book Quiet, by Susan Cane, and wrote about how it completely changed my life.


In June, I finally read Fifty Shades of Grey, and to my utter astonishment, I really didn't like it.


This month I celebrated David's birthday, and the triumphant return of the Summer Olympics.


I wrote my very first post for Yeah Write about some very special shoes, and got a little political on the eve of the Republican National Convention.


In September, I wrote my very first fiction, and started thinking about our move away from Manhattan that would take place in a few short months.


In October, an article CNN published about how women vote based on their monthly cycles infuriated me, and I said goodbye to my favorite place on earth with a post that still makes me tear up every time I read it.


I embarked on a 30 day blogging challenge in November, and wrote about my first date with Davidin two parts.


My mind was on Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, and I wrote about gun control, and the comfort of Jewish tradition.


And this past month, I celebrated my thirtieth birthday, and remembered a trip I took to crazy-town just a few years ago.

February 2013

Just last week, I wrote about my new morning routine that I love, and tried my hand at a little more fiction.

Friday, February 8, 2013


This may be the last time I'll actually be able to see my driveway for the next few days. When I left my house this morning it was already snowing in Westchester, and starting to stick. Apparently the worst of it is still a few hours away, and I plan to be curled up on the couch, Nora Roberts book in hand, by the time it really starts to come down.

With snow forecasts for White Plains somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-2 feet, we are hunkering down for quite the winter blast.

Since I grew up in Pittsburgh, I am no stranger to monster snow storms. When I was little, and there was a blizzard, my mom always made cookies and hot chocolate and we spent the day playing outside.

So we are going to do the same. The plan is to whip up some cookies when I get home, spend the worst of the storm inside, and then get out and have some fun once the wind dies down. 

This is winter. Might as well enjoy it.

If you are in the path of the storm, stay warm, cozy and dry.

See you on the other side.

Happy snow day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Wedding

A hush descended over the room as the six piece string orchestra began to play.

The groom took his place next to the minister, and behind the closed wooden doors at the back of the room, the members of the bridal party lined up for their walk down the long aisle under the soaring church ceilings.

The first strains of Pachelbel's Canon in D wafted through the bridal room as Emily stood, alone. The music that she had thought such a lovely and traditional choice now sounded mundane. The knick-knacks strewn across the bridal room tables that she had thought so nostalgic now grated on her nerves as the floral covered walls seemed to close farther in on her with each passing second.

Emily's hands clenched tightly at her sides as she gasped for air. The ivory lace dress she had chosen so lovingly was making it hard to breathe and the bridal room felt like a sauna.

Any minute now the wedding planner would knock on the door, signaling it was time for the bride to make her appearance.

Emily caught sight of her reflection in the gold-framed mirror. Wide-eyed and pale, she looked nothing like the radiant bride the photographer captured just an hour before.

The whole morning was filled with people. Her mother, grandmothers, bridesmaids and sisters gathered in the room with their laughter and smiles, joining her in the mysterious female rituals that make up a wedding day. The noise they created drowned out the murmur that had been filling Emily's head for the past week.

She had tried to ignore it. Dismissed it as pre-wedding jitters, but now that the noise was gone, the murmur became a roar.


Emily's breath hitched sharply. Her eyes darted wildly around the room, and a cold sweat trailed its icy fingers down her back.

As the maid of honor stepped over the threshold and into the church, the wedding planner knocked on the door to escort Emily to her father, waiting at the top of the aisle. Her brides didn't usually wait behind closed doors, but she thought it sweet that Emily was so adamant about not wanting Josh to see her dress until the very last second.

When there was no answer, the wedding planner smiled, thinking how excited Emily was, that she was too distracted to hear the knock.

But when she opened the door, the bridal room was empty but for a wedding dress pooled on the floor and the curtains over the open window fluttering cheerfully in the breeze .

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Countdown to Sochi

If you have been reading this blog for awhile now, you know that I love a good pop culture event, and that my most favorite pop culture event of all is the Olympics. Every two years, in a burst of patriotic pride, I am glued to my TV for the better part of two weeks. I devour news stories about Team USA, and regularly check the medal count. I cheer for ice skaters, gymnasts, runners, swimmers, skiers, and even for the athletes in the more obscure sports like shot-put and bobsled.

This past summer I was, quite literally, consumed with all things London. And when the torch was extinguished, I started counting the days until Sochi - 541 days from the closing ceremonies of the 2012 summer games, if anyone is interested in keeping track of that sort of thing.

Well. This morning, as I was walking to work, I happened upon this sight when I passed Rockefeller Center. Now, being more of a Good Morning America girl myself, I usually walk past Rockefeller Center as fast as possible to avoid the fanatical Today Show crowds. But today, for just a minute, I joined the masses. Because right on the plaza where Matt, Al and Savannah usually make their appearance for the 8:00 hour, stood a fully functional ski slope. And milling around and on the slope were Olympic figure skaters, skiers and broadcasters, all celebrating one year until the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.

So I stopped to join the celebration. And because when there is a ski slope in Midtown Manhattan, one must pause and enjoy the moment.

I love me some Olympics, and there are only 365 days until they once again grace our TV screens.

Let the countdown begin.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don't Take the Left Elevator

As the elevator doors began to close, I glanced up and realized what I had done.

I stepped into the left elevator.

In the two years that I had lived in the building, there was a code of conduct to which I always adhered. Don't try and get the mail until after two in the afternoon, lest you face the wrath of the mailman. Don't do laundry late at night because the change machine is always out of quarters after nine. Don't make eye contact with the man in 2303, who is most certainly a serial killer. And please, for the love of all that is holy, don't ever take the left elevator.

The left elevator was a sly devil. Always had been. There was no cell phone service in the left elevator. The doors took awhile to open when it stopped to pick up passengers, and sometimes it just skipped floors, even when the buttons were pressed. The car shook as it reached both the highest and lowest floors in the building. And sometimes, without warning, the elevator just stopped. Like it did once when I was in it the first week I moved into the building. With a mild edging towards full-blown claustrophobia, once was enough. I never took the left elevator again.

Until that morning. I was engrossed in a book, and I wasn't paying attention, and I realized my mistake just a split second too late.

The elevator began its shaky descent as I tried to ward off the anxiety threatening to rise.

Everything is fine. Just because you happened to get into this elevator for the first time in two years does not mean that this is the time you'll get stuck. Just twenty more floors. Focus on your book. 

I was patting myself on the back for being all reasonable and adult and facing my fears and everything when, somewhere between floors seventeen and eighteen, the elevator shuddered to a halt.

Stopped completely. Stopped making any kind of noise indicative of motion or functionality.

Panic slammed into me like a truck as I fumbled for my phone to call David to insist that he use the superhero skills that he is convinced he possesses to get me out of this tomb.

My phone lit up with the time. 8:47 AM. But where there should have been bars showing my service level there was a big X. No cell service in the left elevator.

I hit the alarm button, but there was no response.

I'm too high up. They probably can't hear me all the way down there. 

Ok, just keep pressing it. Someone will hear eventually.

It's morning right? There are definitely people waiting for the elevator. New Yorkers are impatient. They won't wait for long. They'll wonder why it's not moving and come up to investigate.

But what if they don't? What if it's like that guy who was trapped in the elevator in a midtown building for an entire WEEKEND before anyone noticed. He had to eat lifesavers and pee through a crack in the door.


My breath came in gasps, and sweat poured down my face. The walls of the elevator were closing in on me, and the fluorescent lights suddenly seemed too bright. Too hot. Too everything. My heart was slamming against my ribs as my mind raced on a hamster wheel of panic.

David will assume I'm at work. Everyone at work will assume I'm sick. No one will miss me until tonight. I'll be stuck in this elevator all day. By the time they find me it will be too late. I'll be insane like that the guy from the midtown elevator. I don't have any lifesavers.

I've been standing here forever, WHY HASN'T ANYONE NOTICED YET?

I had resorted to pounding on the door, hoping someone on the floor above or below me would hear and come save me, when, without warning, the elevator sprang to life and commenced its slow descent.

When the car reached the first floor I practically pried the doors open and flung myself out into the lobby, wild-eyed, vowing to only take the stairs from now on.

I ran past the doorman and all the people waiting to get on the elevator muttering things like "stuck forever," "left elevator," and "broken." I was like the crazy lady on the corner who talks to herself all day and all night. But what else could you expect from someone who was stuck in the elevator for an eternity?

As I walked out the door of my building I pulled out my phone - cell service restored - to e-mail work to let them know I would be late because of the endless elevator malfunction.

While I was typing out the e-mail the time caught my eye.

8:51 AM.

I had only been stuck for four minutes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Superbowl Stream of Consciousness

I wasn't bitter, I swear I wasn't.

Ok, maybe I was a little. But the Steelers can't be in the Superbowl every year. Or make the playoffs. Or even be a good team. So I was willing to let it go.

And maybe I consider the Ravens a slightly lower life-form than the flu virus I am desperately trying to avoid this year, but I thought that my brother-in-law, who hails from Baltimore and bleeds purple and black as deeply as we bleed black and gold, kind of deserved to feel some of the football glory that we Pittsburghers have felt in recent years. I guess it's not easy being the sole Raven in a sea of Steelers fans. It's an AFC North clash of the titans in this family of ours, so I was willing to give him this one, if that's how it turned out.

And anyway, beyond my undying love for football and my ever-present fascination with the sparkly gold tights worn by the 49ers (I may hate the Ravens and everything they are, but black tights are far more flattering than gold. Just saying.), I was intrigued by this year's Superbowl, nicknamed, in delightful fashion, the "Bro-Bowl," the "Super-Baugh," and the "Har-Bowl," by the intrepid periodicals that are sold for twenty-five cents each every morning outside Grand Central Station. If you know anything about me, you know that I'm a sucker for a good pop-culture event. So, awesome commercials, coaching brothers' teams playing each other, a retiring defensive player who may or may not be (but probably is) an actual murderer playing his last game, and a blackout in the biggest football game of the year? Count me in.

And since I was watching the game by myself last night, and didn't have anyone with whom to share my musings, I was left to my own devices (well, along with my Twitter feed and my Google Reader) to process the fascinating happenings of last night. My stream of consciousness went something like this:

I wish I could read roman numerals. I keep forgetting what number XLVII is. I think the last Superbowl roman numeral I could legitimately read was XXXIX.

I'm so intrigued by the Harbaughs' sideline dispositions. I wonder if they really hate each other when the cameras are turned off. I wonder how the Harbaugh parents are handling the game. Why don't they just hug it out at the end of the game? Maybe a handshake is more manly. For the life of me I can't remember which one is John and which one is Jim.

The Budweiser Clydesdales are awesome. Amy Poehler should just be in every commercial ever until the end of time. Oh, ew, my eyes. They're burning from this nasty Go Daddy commercial.

Oh, look, the lights went out. Kind of like that time last year that the lights went out when the Steelers were playing the 49ers at Candlestick Park. The 49ers are old hands at this. I wonder how many times the announcers can say something like "the lights are out at the Superdome" before mentioning Katrina. Why is Bill Cowher wearing that gross tie? Maybe Beyonce killed the lights with her utter fabulousness. Who gets fired over this? Thank god for Twitter, it's making this blackout endlessly entertaining.

If Ray Lewis is so hell bent on convincing everyone that he isn't actually a murderer, why does he paint those scary patterns on his face for every game? Does he think mentioning god every time he's in front of a camera will make people think he's innocent even though he might-have-but-probably-did kill some people awhile back? If he's MVP of this game, will Disney World let him come down this time?

The Ravens' owner should consider dialing it down on the spray-tan and tooth whitening. The orange hue of his skin makes his teeth look like they glow in the dark. Seriously, it's winter, and you live in Baltimore. You look insane.

Purple is a stupid color for a football team.

I really want to punch Joe Flacco in the mouth.

It's so boring when football is over.

49 days until the draft.

213 days until the 2013 season opener.

Here we go.

Friday, February 1, 2013