Friday, June 24, 2011


You know, it's been a long time since I've really felt that anything I've done warranted a heart-felt "TGIF". These past five weeks working full-time, toiling in the vineyards of The Man, have focused me, a lot, on the value of weekends. I have one more week (four days) left on this current engagement, and those last four days (Monday through Thursday this coming week) ought to be wild and wooly (quarter-end, and I'm supporting a sales organization) (end of quarter = deals = commissions for the sales force)...

However, since I haven't had adequate time to be the Domestic Goddess that I've become over the past couple/few years, my house looks like a homeless encampment (no disrespect to the homeless), there have been precious few cooked-from-scratch meals, and the clothes I've worn this week are piled on the bench in front of the window. Shame on me. At least I got the dishwasher loaded and ran it last night. And thank goodness for my spouse, who went to the store and bought milk and other necessities!

Various thoughts have occurred to me this week:

First, two double lattes a day are simply not a good idea for me, regardless of how tasty the coffee is. (Believe me, I pay for it at about 1:00AM when I wake up, eyes wide open, heart pounding -- I really ought not to drink more than one double, and for sure not drink ANY coffee after noon.)

Second, 30 years of practicing law come in quite handy when figuring out what to do on a given issue, and mentoring the more junior folks.

Third, it's really unattractive to whine constantly about how stressed you are (not me, but another member of the team).

Fourth, working ridiculous hours never, ever results in any well-deserved accolades from management and will only give rise to resentment on the part of your spouse and your kid(s). I've been attempting to drum that into the head of one of the younger folks on the team.

Fifth, I need more grown-up girl clothes for the office. (And why, pray tell, are women these days wearing shoes without hose?) (Don't their feet hurt/sweat/get blisters?)

And, bottom line, I really do enjoy being a lawyer and hanging out with folks in a work environment. And, if the work is at least minimally interesting, that's a bonus. OK, yes, and I get paid -- "ice cream money" comes in handy.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to get out there (it was getting pretty dicey there for a while), and to know I've still got my chops. A couple of skills are a bit rusty, and I need to work on that, but I'm still smarter than the average bear, and full of professional savvy and interpersonal skills. (Yes, and I'm humble, too.) I find that, from time to time, I have less patience with nonsense, but I've learned not to lash out (via email or otherwise), and to always be polite.

Oh, yes, and not to fire off emails when someone has really pissed me off. Some things are really important to learn, early! :-)

Other than that, I'm also savoring sitting here on my sofa, with all the doors and windows open, enjoying the glorious early Summer weather here in Northern California. And also enjoying my Cosmo. I've earned it.

May you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday Night Ramblings

How did it get to be Thursday already . . . and, not only that, it's now officially Summer . . . What the heck? I'm just now sort of ready for Christmas. OK, maybe Ground Hog Day. Whatever. I don't do time well any more, I guess. It passes without me knowing.

The past few days, I've been listening to stories about the latest flood crisis in the middle of the country. This time, it's the town (city?) of Minot, North Dakota facing an innundation (due to a cosmic combination of forces). The news stories kept referring to the river that's about to flood the town. I found out today (because a news broadcaster spelled the name of the river) that it's the "Souris" River (as in the French word for "mouse")... (As in, Mouse River.) I could have sworn on a stack of Victoria's Secret catalogs that it was the "Tsuris" River (as in, the river of trouble). I thought that the name, Tsuris River, was terrifically apt and was astonished that it was in North Dakota, of all places . . . Like, wow, what a progressive place! I was a tad disappointed to find out that it was "Souris"... Ah, well... I guess it's the lingering influence of growing up in Da Bronx... (I still think it ought to be the Tsuris River, but that's a whole other issue.)

I've been at my current lawyer engagement for almost a full five weeks now. It's like I've been there for a lot longer. Perhaps I have chameleon DNA somewhere along the line -- I seem to take on the "coloration" of whatever environment I'm in -- been doing that for years! But, it's a congenial environment, the work is just interesting and challenging enough that I'm not bored beyond tolerance, and I get paid for it, too! The gig wraps up on the 30th, and I must admit (in my heart of hearts) that I'm looking forward to a little break. Having been "on the beach" for three years, I really was anxious to go back to work. But, now that I've been there, every day, for nine hours or so, I'm re-thinking my nostalgia for the workplace. Working for The Man is, at bottom, soul-sucking. I am so damn lucky that I don't HAVE to do it (i.e., work), but that I can choose to do it... I am blessed... But, it's fun enough for a couple/few months at a time...

There are several further opportunities floating around, all of them different, but all of them involving travel (OK, local within the SF Bay Area, but still). One is in San Francisco (a daily commute of about 1-1/2 hours), one in the East Bay (also a commute of about 1-1/2 hours), and the other out in the boonies (commute of 2+ hours). But, on the up side, the East Bay and the boonies engagements would not be full-time onsite, so that's a bit of a blessing. We shall see what pops up.

I'm sharing a photo (above) of today's snack extravaganza at the office. (These are "cake pops" -- lollipops made out of cake batter... I think these were lemon cake, with outrageously sweet icing -- after everyone indulged, they were then called "cake bombs"...) (The sugar crash in the late morning was a very unpleasant thing to observe...)

One of the attorneys with whom I work is a monster baker, and loves to share goodies with the team. Luckily, I can't eat any of them (I'm gluten-free), so I content myself with sniffing all the goodies. (OK, it's a bit weird, but it works.) And, one of the other attorneys also brings in fresh donuts regularly. Although I'd never want to eat them (the donuts), damn they smell totally yummy. If I were able to indulge, I'd be huge by now!!!

It was wildly hot here the past few days -- right on time for the first day of Summer. As someone said, we went right from whining (about the protracted cool, rainy weather) to Summer. Down here in the South Bay, it was close to 100 degrees for both days, which is just way too hot for me. Today, it was lovely again, and reminded me why I just love living here... Cool at night, warm during the day, bright blue sky, fluffy white clouds, ahhh... Yes, it is in fact the good life. And, yes, as a NYC expat, I have gotten soft. Too bad.

Other than that, life just goes on... Considering the alternatives, it's not so bad. I wish all of you the same.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Back in The Tribe

So, I've been talking for -- how long? -- about all that I've gone through since departing from The Company, and -- more recently -- about my search for "real" work (i.e., playing lawyer). After much back-and-forth, and chasing down leads, and nagging folks, I'm finally out there, in the "real" world, doing legal work. Yes, it's true. I'm on a six-week engagement at a local software company, sitting in a cubicle, learning new rules and methods, and not having a moment to catch my breath.

You know the old saying, be careful what you wish for... Well, at the end of last week (my first week on the engagement), I thought, for a bit, whether or not I really wanted to be back at work. I guess the answer was "Yes" and "No". . . I felt a tremendous rush of emotion when I got my badge (complete with really bad photo) and hung it around my neck . . . Like I was finally part of a tribe again. That was weird. It was pretty stressful, the first few days, but got even more stressful, once the initial relief at having a paying gig again wore off.

The work I'm doing is stuff I've done for years, so it's not that. Yes, I'm on the other side of the table (but that's not much of an issue), and I'm working on a PC (not an Apple) which is a bit odd, but not an insurmountable issue, I'm working in a cubicle (not an office) which is very odd (but I've done it before), and there's all kinds of new people to meet and learn about. Most very nice, a couple who make me wary (gut reaction), and I'm learning to watch my steps and watch my back with a few others. In other words, the usual.

I am getting to wear "big girl" clothes again, and makeup, and jewelry. Now, that's weird, since I've been hanging out in jeans and tennies (sometimes flip-flops) for the past three years. But, again, it feels fine. (I just need to get rid of some dated items, and replace with some more stylish things.)

In a way, it felt like I had never left -- like the past three years just fell away. Disconcerting, to say the least. Then, when I get home in the evening, and hang out with The Spouse, yes, it's familiar, like the past three years.

Ach, too much change, I guess. I'm glad I'm doing this six-week gig, and I'll see if I really want (or need) the money badly enough to keep doing this for any length of time...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sometimes, I just shake my head...

I listen to the news. A lot. On the radio, on the TV, and I'm a digital person too --,, a number of international sites, etc., etc. (I also do the New York Times digitally, since I'm a subscriber to their "real" newspaper...)

What I've been hearing and seeing and reading lately just blows my mind. One would think that, after all these years, being the cynical, worldly person that I am, a woman of mature years, I would not be shocked or amazed or even worried about anything I could possibly glean from all these sources. And, truly, I wouldn't say I'm often shocked. Amazed, occasionally. Worried, frequently. But, then, being a student of history, I take comfort in the fact that it's all been seen and said and done before.

What made me just roll my eyes and shake my head this morning was the item (which has been bouncing around for a couple of days, or more) that Mr. Assad, the head of Syria (is his first name Bashar? Bashir?), has or is considering lifting the "emergency" declaration . . . which has been in effect for -- get this -- fifty (50) years. How, pray tell, can an "emergency" last for 50 years? Isn't the nature of an emergency kind of a "right now" thing? I suppose that "right now" could, on the other side of The Great Wormhole, last 50 years, but in our time plane, not so much (at least in my little head).

And, good old Prince Ali (of Saudi Arabia), big-time investor in many US companies, talking on some TV program (maybe yesterday) about how bad it is that women in his country can't do so many things. Yup, terrible, I'm so with you, guy. (So, my friend, what are you doing about it?) Crocodile tears?

And, here in the USA, I am just rolling my eyes and reaching for my Tums every time I see The Donald, talking about his potential presidential bid. Now, I've said many times that I'm outta here if such-and-such happens. The Donald in the White House just might be the tipping point (to use a "today" phrase). The idea that he is even taken semi-seriously, even by the lunatic fringe, is enough to make me go back to eating gluten-containing food. (I figure that the world is going to hell so I might as well live it up for the final few years.) Even if he weren't such a jerk, the idea of a real estate developer in any position in power is frightening. Oh, and today's item on The Donald, on some website, was that Donald says he's worth as much as he feels. OK, then, it's an interesting way to calculate one's net worth. I'm there... Oy!!!

On the up side, my kitties still are their own cute selves, my spouse is just slightly battered and bruised (after falling -- twice -- off the roof of the garage he's fixing, up at the Berkeley house), the children are (as far as I can tell) doing well, my car still runs, there's food in the kitchen, my clothes still fit (they're a little tighter than I'd like), and the black helicopters haven't shown up over my house . . . yet.

It's Good Friday, and Sunday is Easter. I wish we -- in my family -- had some sort of tradition that we could celebrate. Perhaps we'll just have to go with the lifting of the Syrian "emergency" law... You take what you can get, sometimes!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Great Divide . . . Maybe

Did you all think I had dropped off the face of the earth? Close, but not quite... I looked at my last post, which I wrote in May 2010, where I promised that I'd write soon. OK, from an historian's point of view, this is soon... That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I've been sucked into the Facebook nation, and have devoted much of my ranting to that site. For shame. I promise (for what it's worth) to do better. Perhaps I'll just post links and rants in both places. Perhaps all this sharing and media and social networking is too much. Perhaps perhaps perhaps.

In any event, I'm pasting in, below, a "note" (FB terminology) that I wrote this morning and put on FB, because I got seriously whipped up. This is not something new for me, it's something that's been eating away at me for quite a while... But, this morning, the two stories were too close for me to ignore...

What do you think?

The Great Divide... maybe...

by Elinora Mantovani on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 9:09am

So, this morning, while munching on my very excellent gluten-free breakfast, we were watching the local TV news. There was yet another episode of a local story -- folks lining up at one of the local athletic stadiums (or is that stadia?), hoping to be able to get in and receive some free medical care. This wonderful group, Remote Area Medical, is organizing the event. I don't know if any of you have ever heard anything about this group, but they are worth supporting. I first heard of them a couple of years ago, I think it was on "60 Minutes". In that episode, the group was off in some "third world" country helping the natives. The next time I heard of them, they were doing the same thing, but here in the US. And, now, again, here in the US.

I just shake my head when I see folks in my own country, allegedly the best country in the world, having to rely on groups like this to afford BASIC medical care -- I mean the most basic check-ups: vision, dental, medical. What is up with us, as a people, that we have let a significant sector of our fellow citizens fall into this situation? It makes me just ill. This is not to say that Americans aren't generous -- we are, on an individual basis. But, as a society, I think, over the past few decades, we've become very self-centered, "me" centered. You know, the whole "it's my money and no one else gets any of it" kind of thinking. I'm not necessarily talking about paying or not paying taxes, or seeking to evade taxes, or the TEA Party nonsense... It's a turning inward that worries me.

Anyway, right after the bit about people waiting on the sidewalk, in the damp, cold, dark night, for a chance to get their teeth checked, their eyes checked, whatever, there was a nice little story on the 2010 pay for various CEOs (including both cash and stock compensation). The pay ranged from about $28Million to about $80+ Million a year. Pray tell me, what in the name of all that's holy could these yutzes do that warrants that kind of pay? Really... I know, I know . . . stewardship of money and the increase thereof is valued far more in our society than stewardship of our children, our resources, our fellow citizens.

This gets me thinking about what's ahead for a society that continues like this. I saw, last week, a re-broadcast of a documentary, "The Crumbling of America" (on the History Channel). Our national infrastructure is rotting, in case you haven't seen that or heard about that, and cities, counties, states and the Federal government cannot afford to fix it. "No new taxes", you know. We cannot afford -- or do not choose to afford -- to ensure that our children have enough to eat, that our schools have enough money to teach our children, that our teachers are paid decently (at least enough to cover all those school supplies and boxes of tissues that they end up paying for out of their own pockets), blah blah blah . . . You've heard all this before.

I studied history growing up, and have continued to study it. This situation does not bode well for our country. At some point, the system falls apart. (Well, some of us think it already has, or is starting to.) (Just look at the state government nonsense that's gone on in several states lately, to say nothing of the stand-off and insanity in D.C.) (Re: Senator Kyl -- of Arizona, I think -- making a patently, fully, totally untrue statement about Planned Parenthood on the floor of the Senate, in connection with funding cuts; his office said, later, that the senator's statement wasn't meant to be a factual statement . . . back in the day, we'd call that a willful and intentional lie.) (Nice guy.)

Anyway, yes, history can teach us lots of lessons. This will not end well. We will ALL have a part in pulling the house down on our heads, if we don't ALL start ensuring that the house will stand the coming storms. But, maybe it will take an economic, social and spiritual tsunami, and resulting death and destruction, to wake us from our selfish, self-centered, morally bankrupt system. Stop thinking day to day, quarter to quarter, and measuring every damn thing in dollars, for goodness' sakes! (I remember, years ago, hearing the news report on some disaster or other, maybe a tornado or a fire, and the only way the newscaster could characterize the damage was "the damage is estimated to be in the millions"... What about the people who died, the families who lost everything? I remember thinking at the time that this way of looking at events really sucked, and it offended me horribly.)

Friends, I urge each of you to think about how you live your lives, what you do to address these inequities, and what you want for your country's future. The answers will be totally yours. I think about this every day, and I am sad to say that, to date, I have not lived up to my own expectations . . . I could do more, should do more, and maybe I can begin by speaking out.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What the heck???

Hey, what happened to me? I did not realize it's been so long since I posted. OK, I'll fess up... it's been Facebook's fault. Really. I totally blame Facebook. Not me, nope, not I. But, I just got back from a brief trip to Las Vegas, and I have lots of material for a post. Which I shall do shortly. I swear.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


So, I was overwhelmed today, with an intense feeling of well-being and, I guess, gratitude. It hits me, every once in a while, just how lucky/blessed/fortunate I am. This year, I am looking back at where I was, physically and emotionally, last year, and it's so much better right now. Really.

Last year, my marriage was in a death spiral. I was separated from my spouse, who was behaving in a way that defied explanation and reason. My heart was broken, but my spirit was resolute. I was moving forward, not in a way that I had anticipated, but with wonderful support and enthusiasm from folks who love me. Without that, I don't know what I would have done.

I had taken a solitary road trip out to New Mexico, to spend some time alone, thinking about what had gone so terribly wrong in my relationship with my spouse. No great answers, but I really so did not like being alone, cold, and eating Thanksgiving dinner in a hotel dining room. (The dinner was actually quite good, and the staff were wonderful, but it was so awful...)

My children were stellar. I am so proud of both of them, for talking truth to me (and to their father), for supporting me in my search for wisdom and understanding, and for just being themselves. I cannot take much credit, I fear . . . they are the way the Ultimate Being decided they ought to be, and it's pretty darn good.

My daughter accompanied me to Paris, to spend Christmas there. Yeah, I know, tough duty. But, it was pretty sad. I mean, Paris is always great, and Christmas is usually pretty great, so you put the two together and how bad can it be, really? I could not have made it through last year without my daughter's support and company. And, I think she enjoyed seeing a bit of Paris! (How was that Angelina's hot chocolate, eh?)

I am thankful that, this year, the entire family -- me, my husband, and the children -- will be together for Christmas. Our daughter will be hosting us, at her place . . . Wow! When did she grow up? But, I'm looking forward to it.

My husband decided, after tearing our family apart, and forcing us all -- including himself -- to look deep inside, that he wanted to stay married to me. We decided that we really did not like being apart and, notwithstanding some significant temptations to his fidelity, and his fantasies, he chose to stay here. I'll admit that there are times when I wish all the bad stuff had not happened, and perhaps I think of what my life would be like now, had he not returned. (Well, I did buy a new bed, and I love it...) There were some other men who were . . . interested, and it might have been quite an experience to play that out. But, nah...

Last year, I was still pretty damn devastated about losing my job. I'm still -- occasionally -- bitter about it, but I'm listening to my buddies who talk, a lot, about moving on. Working at The Company was seductive and I think about it, a lot. Losing the job really forced me to deal with who I am, and what is my identity. I think I'm working it out. Slowly. I've discovered a great well of creativity, and I'm working out my urges by knitting, sewing, cooking, futzing and putzing, and working on my house.

This year, I'm OK. It is what it is. I miss my colleagues, I miss the challenges I faced, but I think there are other companies and other situations where I can use my considerable abilities.

Physically, I'm a bit heavier than I was last year, but last year I looked pretty bad. Thin, but bad. I think I look great for my age, I'm in technically great health (cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, all that good stuff), and I'm active. The spouse and I try and go out and hit the tennis ball every day (thank you, community sports center and the rental ball machine), and we try to walk around the neighborhood daily (although we've been sorely remiss on that part of it). I used to be so very fearful of just ossifying once I hit "retirement". Like my parents. But, nope -- we're traveling, we're in the middle of a dozen projects, we're involved with our hobbies and interests, and I don't think we're slipping into senility quite yet.

We're buying a new house (our retirement house?), which will be yet another challenging project. We've bought a 1970 Airstream trailer (no, I don't know why but it seemed like a good idea at the time). I learned to play decent tennis, and did a scuba diving session (yes, I really did sit on the bottom of the ocean). We've adopted two new kittens, who are keeping us young. (Yes, they really are.) We argue about things, but nothing major. When we're mad at each other, we don't go off and brood for weeks/months/years... It's painful, but we talk. Since I'm usually right, this is fine...

And, bottom line, we are so blessed. I send thanks out into the universe to the Ultimate Being (or whatever) ever moment. Truly. I have friends, and family, and my health, and food in the cupboard, and money in the bank. And piles of unread trash novels and magazines. Projects lined up, great weather where we live, and a car that works. I mean, truly. . . Do I need anything else? Nope, not really.

May you all find things in your life to be grateful for.