Category Archives: navel gazing

The new normal


“How’s the new job going?” people ask, and I pause.

There are so many things to say.

It’s great. I get to write briefs for a living, which I love. The facts of my cases are interesting. I work a predictable eight-hour day. I get to work out on my lunch break, so I no longer feel so squishy. I’m home every day by 5:30, giving me at least an hour and a half to play with my kid before she goes to bed. We take a walk as a family every morning. I have time to cook dinner. I don’t worry about work on the weekend. Ever.

It’s lonely. The people here largely keep to themselves, many of them just like me- nose to the grindstone, in and out so they can get back to their families and their lives outside the office. I spend way too many hours hunched in front of a computer. I never have any breaks for anything, even meetings. Who’s have thought I’d miss meetings? My office has no window. Everything is beige. I’m pretty sure my secretary hates me. I write a lot of briefs where the only issues I am able to raise are the kind of “technicalities” that cause laypeople to roll their eyes, or fold their arms in anger. Most of the money I make goes right back out the door to child care.

And then there’s the stuff that I can no longer say. “I’m working on this crazy case right now, gearing up for trial, it’s a lot of late nights.” “Oh man, I watched [judge x] absolutely dress down [lawyer y] at the motion hearing, it was amazing.” “Oh yeah, I did see [person] at [large networking event,] she and I were just talking about how to get [exciting new project] off the ground!”

I wouldn’t say I miss those things, exactly, but I’m coming to understand how much I’d become accustomed to a more traditionally successful career- the busyness, the proximity to well-known and well-respected colleagues, the potential for big, prestigious long-term things on the horizon – as being the currency in which I described my life, justified my worth. Yes, I hated every time that I was late coming home to my kid, resented having to log more hours after she was in bed on a weeknight, grumbled about how much of the law feels like inside baseball. But there was also undeniably a certain perverse status derived from those things. If I was working so hard, it must be important, so *I* must be important. Yes, my schedule was running me ragged, but I was doing complex, interesting stuff that my peers found respect-worthy. I was on an upward trajectory. I had great future prospects.

And now…well, my life is smaller, but in a really good way. I chose a steady, reliable, predictable job. I have reclaimed things I love, like cooking, and running, and reading for pleasure. I’m employed in my chosen field, doing interesting work, and I still have a life. I’m living the dream! It’s never going to win me any awards or earn me millions of dollars or land me any appointed positions, but that’s okay.

So when someone asks me how it’s going, I don’t launch into a long explanation like this one- I simply say, truthfully, that I have never been happier with the balance between my work life and my other life.

But I no longer have a place at the “whose career is more demanding/intense/upwardly mobile” table- because my work life isn’t demanding/intense/upwardly mobile at all. And that’s a good thing, it is, I wouldn’t trade it, but – it’s strange to no longer be a part of that conversation. I meet my law school friends for lunch and they’re all killing themselves and I don’t want to be them, exactly, but I feel a little bit like I’ve sold out the sisterhood by stepping off that path. My whole life my self-worth has been largely defined by working hard, striving, achieving – and it’s a little disorienting to suddenly no longer have that laid out before me.

Truthfully, I’ve always been on a slightly different path than most of my law school peers- I never worked the really insane crazy hours that many of them do, was never going to be a partner at a big firm, never going to make millions – but I was striving on my own public interest achievement path, such as it was. It may not have been defined by earning potential, but it was there. And now it’s not, so much.

And I’ve always been interested in reading about the experiences of other professional women as they develop their careers and their lives. And it seems like so many of us (particularly lawyers) get to this point, where the striving becomes untenable, so we step off. I had wondered if I’d find myself here, and now here I am. No longer contemplating the next move, just…living my life as it is now. Smaller, but better. It’s mostly great, and a little poignant.


Posted in navel gazing, work | 26 Comments

Reflections on dorkdom


I was a profound dork in high school. Really.

Look, a lot of people on the internet are fond of noting how nerdy they were in the old days. I want to believe these people, I do. Except I think many of these self-proclaimed nerds were in fact cool and alternative and into neat-o things that were just not appreciated by their peers, like underground punk music, or philosophy. Such was not the case with me. I had no interests that, in retrospect, would give me hipster street cred. I was just painfully dorky. For example:

Bad: I was on the math team. For all four years.

Worse: I was an alternate on the math team- as in, I didn’t always even compete, because truth be told I was not that good at math. But I stuck with it for the social scene. Oh god.

Even worse: When we were juniors, my math team buddies and I wrote a song to celebrate the graduating seniors at the annual banquet. (Side note: MATH TEAM BANQUET.) It was called “the Circle of Math,” and was sung to the tune of “The Circle of Life.”

Worse yet: There were accompanying hand gestures, and a brief dance interlude.

(Related: for some godforsaken reason, “The Circle of Math” has been stuck in my head all day. I still remember all the words. Because that’s a good use of brain cells.)

So yes, I was really, really dorky. But you know what? I was okay. My high school class had 1000 people in it. The whole school had close to 4000. It was not small. And while popular high school mythology suggests that large schools crowded with jocks and queen bees and so forth are absolute torture for the young nerd, I benefited tremendously from that size. When your school is that large, there is a whole crowd of painfully dorky kids, ready to befriend each other and write lyrics to a song about mathletes. There are many alternative artsy types, ready to band together to start a literary magazine. There is critical mass of sullen Goths, there to hang out on the street corner together, smoking, looking disaffected.

So while I definitely also experienced the rougher parts of serious dorkdom (mocking, rejection by crushes, a really mean-spirited series of messages scribbled in textbooks suggesting I was fellating our driver’s ed. teacher) (I wasn’t), I also had friends with whom I was happy to spend Saturday nights gathered in someone’s basement, playing Scattergories.

(The rowdiest we got was playing “ten fingers” a game that is supposed to be a drinking game (“I never”). We played without drinks, which was just as well, because based on the combined sexual experience of the group we would have remained sober forever.)

Is it wrong that I half wish for the same sort of dorkiness for my daughter? I mean, if she ends up being a prodigious talent at basketball, or becomes a popular cheerleader type, I certainly won’t love her any less. But I won’t mind a bit if she ends up being a dork- never in the coolest crowd, not invited to all the big parties, spending her high school Saturday nights thinking she’s naughty for saying the word “fucking” instead of actually doing it. Would that be so terrible?


Posted in family, navel gazing | 12 Comments

2010


Well, I have decided to take a crack at the ubiquitous end-of-year questionnaire. I used Sundry‘s new shortened version, since I’m kind of getting in just under the wire here.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Ran a half marathon. Bought a house. Practiced as a litigator. Got pregnant.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t think I made any resolutions last year. For next year, I’d like to:
- Compete in a triathlon
- Drink enough water
- Let myself be in more pictures, and resist the urge to delete.
- I feel like should add something about parenting, I’m sure, but I don’t know if it’s a resolution so much as a hope that I get my feet under me and do it as well as I can without being too hard on myself.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Two very good friends and several others. Something in the water, it seems.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

A close friend’s mother died of brain cancer in September.

5. What countries did you visit?

Spain, Italy (layover), Turks and Caicos.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

A healthy baby. And a fully functioning toilet in our first floor bathroom. (Sexy!)

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February, when I travelled to New Orleans for the half marathon.  July, when we found out I was pregnant.  October, when I started my new job.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Running the half marathon was a big accomplishment for me. I’ve never thought of myself as athletic, and I was scared of the distance, and I pushed through and made myself do it.
(Again, feel I should say something baby-related here, but getting pregnant does not feel like an “achievement,” so much as us being lucky to be able to do it.)

9. What was your biggest failure?

I failed to even throw my hat in the ring for a dream job, assuming I wouldn’t be qualified and wouldn’t get it.  I think I was right, but I wish I’d tried.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had several colds? And had some hip and back pain from running? I’ve been very lucky that that’s about it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Our house. Even with the mice, the floods, and all the other surprises, we love it, and plan to stay here a very long time.  Also: our seltzer maker.

12. Where did most of your money go?

See above.

13. What did you get really excited about?

We’re pretty excited about this impending kid.

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?

Empire State of Mind, which was a running and working anthem this year for me (even though it came out in 2009)
The Sleigh Bells album, which I listened to every day on the commute to work when I was morning sick.  I kind of can’t listen to it without feeling a little queasy now.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

–

- happier or sadder? Happier.

- thinner or fatter? Substantially more girthly
- richer or poorer? Financially poorer. But hey, I own some mice now, so that’s something!

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Initiated plans with friends.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Accidentally putting things in the dryer that are supposed to line dry.  (Wait, are we supposed to be thinking like Big Important Things? Hm. In that case, I’d say dithering around aimlessly on the internet when I could have or should have been doing something more focused.)

18. How did you spend Christmas?

At my parents’ house.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Mad Men, The Good Wife, Pawn Stars

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Let the Great World Spin by Collum McCann
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel,
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Mumford and Sons.  The Winter of Mixed Drinks.  “Welcome Home” by Radical Face (another 2009 release that I just got hip to this year.) Frightened Rabbit, Hockey, Vampire Weekend, and Jeffrey Fouccault, all of whom I saw put on excellent live shows this year.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Wow did I not see a lot of movies this year.  I really liked The Kids Are All Right

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I co-hosted a baby shower for my good friend Mason.  I turned 31.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I don’t know.  I’m pretty satisfied with my life, and grateful for that.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Stretchy

26. What kept you sane?

John. Cooking. Running.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

That whole “take it one day at a time” thing? Yeah, that actually helps.


Posted in navel gazing | 6 Comments

Bad Reputation


So it appears that I have inadvertently gone and gotten myself Joan Jett’s haircut, circa 1981.

I went to a new salon, where my adorable and super-fashionable friend Nacho gets her hair cut. That was my first mistake. Nacho is 400% more fashionable than me, so it stands to reason that the place where she gets her haircut would be very, very hip. Sure enough, the lovely girl who cut my hair had her dimples pierced (true story) and an outfit that was the perfect mix of 80s vintage and American Apparel. I was way out of my league, here.

“How can I make you happy?” she asked.

“I’m thinking that for winter I might try turning my side swept bangs into blunt bangs” I said.

“Awesome!” she said. “Do you like layers?”

“Um, yes? Kinda?” I replied. “The last haircut I got ended up looking really feathered and frizzy because the guy got kind of carried away with the layers, and I don’t like that. But yeah, I like layers.”

“Great!” she said.

A few snips later I had blunt bangs. Even while they were still wet and wavy I already liked them. I was mentally patting myself on the back for taking a successful hair risk when she started combing the rest of the hair on my head forward and cutting off rather alarming chunks.

“Um,” I said.

“Oh,” she said “this will just give you super subtle layering in the back. It’s going to look amazing.”

Since she’d already started, I thought “okay! subtle! I can do subtle!”

Then she started cutting all these teeny tiny pieces in the front, adjacent to the bangs, in what looked suspiciously like feathering. And then she got out the razor.

“I’m, um, not into too much razoring,” I noted.

“I’m hardly going to do any,” she said. “Just to give it some movement.” And then, like a weed whacker, her hands started moving so fast that I couldn’t really tell what was happening and then she turned me around and by the time it was all over….Joan Jett.

It’s a cute haircut, actually. I like it. It’s exactly the kind of cut I would see on someone else and think “I wish I could pull that off.” But having a haircut that is 400% more fashionable than you are seems like… a bad idea. I wear a lot of ill-fitting 5-year-old Banana Republic business casual pants, and when I’m not wearing those, I wear jeans and tshirts. My haircut is going to be embarrassed to be seen in my wardrobe.

Seriously, I can tell it’s already mortified by today’s outfit, which features neither leggings nor skinny jeans nor a long ironic boyfriend sweater:

MyPicture

Plus side: shiny hair distracts from oddly mottled and sickly skin tone.

I need to learn this lesson: every time I try to get a dramatic haircut, I end up feeling silly. What I need, I think, is to find a salon where no one is cool, no one is hip, and there is zero chance that I will get caught up in the moment and think that I can pull off something trendy. To be clear: I really liked this salon. They were super friendly, reasonably priced, and clearly know what they are doing. In fact, it’s because they were so good that I managed to convicnce myself that I, too, could pull off a cute fun trendy look. Who do I think I am, someone who pierces my dimples? Come on, self. I clearly need to find a salon populated by 30-somethings who have nice boring swingy haircuts and wear v-neck sweaters. That salon would give me a perfect haircut, I bet. Any suggestions?


Posted in navel gazing | 13 Comments

Shocking inaccuracies


My Rolling Stone magazine, in a feature on “The Songs of Summer” from 1990 to present, seems to believe that the song “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers is 5 years old.  Which is hilarious, because that song is practically a new release! All the cool kids still have it on their iPod running playlists! It couldn’t possibly be 5 years old.

I also had occasion to consult imdb the other day to get some information about the movie “Almost Famous” and found, to my astonishment, that imdb seems to believe the movie is 9 years old. Almost a decade. Which is just ridiculous because it couldn’t possibly be more than 3 or at the most 4 years ago that I watched it in the theaters.

Finally, someone in the alumni affairs office of my university seems to be laboring under the mistaken impression that I graduated from college so long ago that it’s time to start sending me “teasers” for my 10 year reunion.  I’m sorry, I graduated college in 2001. Like, practically last year. Still YEARS away from a 10 year reunion.  I mean, we practically just started the new millennium! Remember all the crazy partying like it was 1999? Anyone? No?  So truly, there’s no need to start getting me amped up for it now! In fact, in so doing you’ve virtually GUARANTEED that I will immediately recycle all of your correspondence without reading it, which is definitely not a good way to get a check (which is, I assume, what you’re seeking).

While I’m disappointed in these terrible lapses in temporal accuracy, I trust both these publications, and my college, will correct these errors promptly.


Posted in navel gazing, nostalgia | 9 Comments

Unexpected perk


Jetlag makes you surprisingly awake and alert in the morning.

Things John and I accomplished yesterday morning before work:

  • 9 holes of golf (John)
  • 30 day shred (pseudo)
  • bike ride to farmers’ market to pick out week’s veggies (pseudo)
  • shower (both)
  • reviewing of credit card statements and paying of bills (John)
  • finishing artwork for top secret web-based project (pseudo)
  • breakfast (both)
  • packing lunch (both)
  • folding laundry (pseudo)

Seriously.

Of course, we were falling asleep in our dinner plates by 8:30 pm, but that’s a minor detail.


Posted in navel gazing | 7 Comments

The battle over 3-oz toiletries was epic


The following is pretty much a verbatim account of my thoughts this week:

“We’re going on a trip we’re going on a trip we’re going on a trip we’re going on a trip when can we leave oh my god why haven’t we left yet we’re going on a trip gelato I’m coming for youuuuuuuuuuu”

Needless to say, I’ve been a model employee.

This will not be the first time John and I have been to Europe together. Eight years ago or so, we scored tickets from San Francisco to London at an absolute steal of a price, so we took a very low-budget trip to England and Paris for ten days.

This was a mistake. Not the trip itself- we had a lovely time, (except for a harrowing moment where John launched a champagne cork directly at some priceless antique vases at our friend’s house after pretending he was a champagne-opening expert). But it was a mistake to take my first international trip with John when he was but a wee college lad and we were on a crazy shoestring budget.

Why?

Because on that trip, John packed everything he needed into his regular-sized Jansport daypack. Much like this one:

Note: not a suitcase

And now he has these laughably unrealistic expectations about packing, and the amount of luggage one brings on a two-week international trip.

Specifically, his view is: one carry-on sized duffel. For both of us. To share.

Now look, I am all for traveling light. The idea of schlepping a 50-lb wheeled suitcase over the narrow cobblestone streets of a charming European city as I search for my hotel gives me hives.

But seriously: one bag? Two people?

I agreed to give it a shot and see if all our stuff could fit comfortably. We each made a list of what we needed to bring, and sat down to compare lists.

Pseudo: I’ll start. I need 5 pairs of underwear, four tshirts,….

John: FIVE pairs of underwear? No. You get two.

Pseudo: Seriously? Fine. Two pairs of underwear. I’ll wash one every night. You’d just better hope I don’t have a repeat of the horrible, inexplicable butt sweat incident of aught-six, or you’ll wish you’d let me bring five. Moving on: four tshirts.

John: Four? Sheesh. Fine. For me, six pairs of socks.

Pseudo: I only get two pairs of underpants, yet you get six pairs of socks?

John: It’s going to be hot as balls. I am a boy. My feet sweat. Socks don’t wash and dry as fast in the sink as underpants. I need six.

Pseudo: Fine, I’ll concede. Sweaty feet are gross. I’ll let you have six pairs of socks. But if you get six pairs of socks, I get three pairs of shoes.

John: THREE PAIRS OF SHOES?

Pseudo: Two are sandals! Which are small!

John: Couldn’t you just bring one pair of sandals?

Pseudo: I need a backup. You know people in Europe don’t pick up after their dogs. What if I step in a pile of dog poop? I need backup sandals.

John: Show me the sandals.

(Pseudo demonstrates their foldable, smooshable properties)

John: Fine.

And so on.

We laid it all out, and it turns out it does all fit in one carry-on size duffel bag. Except that duffel bag weighs approximately one million pounds, and is full to the top, leaving inadequate room for me to purchase Italian tchotchkes.

So we compromised, and decided to bring two small duffel bags. I even persuaded John to check them, since we’ll be held up at passport control anyway so it’s not like we’re saving huge amounts of time by not checking like you would on a domestic flight.

I haven’t yet told him that to celebrate the increased space, I’ve purchased a new sundress at Target, bringing my total number of dresses to two. I expect we will have words.


Posted in navel gazing, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Not as penny-wise, but still not pound-foolish


My car is in the shop.  Remember a few weeks ago when my car got hit in a parking lot?  Well, the stars finally aligned and I got things coordinated with the insurance company, the repair place, and the car rental establishment to fix my car starting today.  It will hopefully be done by Friday.

In the meantime, I am driving a tin can on wheels rented Chevy Cobalt.

Look, my car is not particularly fancy.  It is not a luxury brand.  But after one day of driving El Craptastico (I name all my cars- this pet name seemed fitting for the Cobalt) I miss all the little touches that make me love my car.

Such as:

  • the ability to change radio stations with a button on the steering wheel
  • a steering wheel that adjusts upward high enough that it does not graze my knees
  • a cupholder deep enough to accommodate a standard-sized soda can without threatening to tip over
  • automatic door locks
  • automatic windows
  • automatic side mirror adjustors
  • automatic anything, really

What’s funny is that I distinctly remember, when I was in the market for my current car, thinking that it was silly to pay for such “extras”.  At the time, there were really only two options packages available on my car: the one I got, and the one fancier than I got.  So I didn’t have to choose, individually, whether I wanted the sunglasses case that drops down from the ceiling, or the cd player- they were included in the base package.  But I remember thinking that if I could have paid a couple hundred bucks less to NOT have those options, I would have.

Now, of course, I cannot imagine being so penny pinching when making a major purchase like a car.  It’s not like I’m planning to jump into deluxe extras like exotic wood trims or heated seats with my next car purchase or anything, but in retrospect the value I’ve gotten from these seemingly  “extra” features like the auto-lock button key fob thingy have DEFINITELY been worth a couple hundred bucks.

I suppose this is part of growing up, becoming more financially stable, and feeling less panicky about comparatively minor expenses.  These days, I occasionally spring for the diet coke when I go out to lunch and don’t mentally berate myself for spending the $1.19.  I buy ground turkey from Whole Foods instead of the discount grocer because it tastes a lot better.  Recently, I purchased a plane ticket that was $25 more than the cheapest flight I found, simply because it took off at a more convenient time.

Seriously, what kind of money-burning maniac have I become?  If I’m this way at 30, what will 40 bring?  Ordering something other than the least-expensive glass of wine on the menu?  Buying socks from a place other than Target?  God forbid, a moonroof?  The mind just reels.


Posted in navel gazing | 11 Comments

New digs


A few months ago, our friend Smallchou gchatted me in the middle of the day:

“If there was ever a time to buy pseudostoops.com,” he said, “this is probably it- there’s a craaaaazy sale going on and you can get the domain plus a year of hosting for practically nothing.”

Well, whenever Smallchou tells me to do something tech-related, I usually obey.  After all, the man created an iPhone app that got featured on those ubiqutous ads that are on the back pages of all the major magazines and newspapers these days.

Suffice it to say, he knows a lot more about this stuff than I do.  Plus, I like shopping for things on sale.

So I bought pseudostoops.com, then didn’t think too much more about it.  I sort of mentioned to John that I aspired to learn how to code in WordPress, so that I could build my own site, but I knew that project was going to (a) take a long time (b) be very frustrating for me and (c) probably end up looking sucky, so I didn’t do anything about it for a while.

Fast forward to four weeks ago: my birthday.  John is an exemplary birthday-planner, and when I woke up on my birthday, there was a neatly-wrapped stack of presents sitting by my bed.  He told me to open them in order, starting with the top.  So I opened, in order: socks (tradition: he always gets me socks for every occasion, a carryover from my teaching days when my personal fashion sense was expressed largely through silly socks); an amazing fleece jacket to replace the one I had that was literally falling apart; and a duffel bag (he called that one a “Homer bowling ball gift” because we’re both using it for an upcoming trip- we really needed a new bag).

Then, at the bottom of the stack, I noticed a note.

“Open my laptop right now,” it said.

Puzzling.

I started to get out of bed, and he reached down to his side of the bed and pulled out his computer.  I opened it up, and what should I see?

This website, fully built.

I mean, seriously, is he a champ, or what?  He figured out how to use wordpress.org, he designed it, and he even put “happy birthday to pseudo” in the tagline.  He doesn’t blog, doesn’t always get why I like doing this, but he knew it was important to me, so he secretly spent hours building something I’d offhandedly mentioned that I wanted.  He’s going to have a hard time topping this gift next year.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been playing around with some small changes, figuring out how to migrate the archives over here, and this weekend, we decided it was ready to go.

So now here we are! Welcome to the new pseudostoops!  We’re going to be making some minor adjustments, probably, as we go forward, but from now on, this is where you’ll find me.  Change your feed readers, bookmarks, etc.  And feel free to leave a comment for John telling him what a nice husband he is for doing this.


Posted in family, navel gazing | 18 Comments

Midwestern, I guess


Note unrelated to this post:  MacBook, you are ON NOTICE.  When I unplugged you from power source to start typing this post, you were fully charged.  Twenty-three minutes later, you alerted me that I was now running on reserve battery power.  Unacceptable.  To the genius bar for you, young man.

***************************************************************

Over the weekend we took a whirlwind trip to California, to go to Monterey for the wedding of my college roommate.

One of the most frustrating things about visiting Northern California with John is that it is literally impossible for us to see all of the people we love out there in the course of one weekend.  This is doubly true when we have to drive down to Monterey for an event, since Monterey is technically about 90 miles from where our friends live.

The wedding was beautiful, and my friend was so happy and radiant that it was impossible not to feel privileged to be a part of her day.  And we got to see some of John’s best friends, including one who is a few days away from a tremendous accomplishment, after many years of hard work, so it was great to spend time with him to celebrate.  Still, though, when we got on the plane to come home I couldn’t help but feel a little wistful about all the people I didn’t see.

What I didn’t feel wistful about, surprisingly, was leaving Northern California.  This was sort of unexpected.  You see, for years, whenever I got on a plane to leave California, I felt sad – California felt like home to me, and everywhere else was just a place where I was temporarily until I got to return home.

But on this trip, for the first time, I found myself not wishing that I lived in San Francisco.  Sure, I still love it, and I still spent much of the trip lobbying John to go to my favorite places to eat for food we can’t get back in Chicago.  But there was no part of me that wished we lived there.

There were a lot of things it turns out I don’t miss.  Talking to our friends who live in an adorable one-bedroom and discovering they pay more in rent than we pay in a mortgage?  I don’t miss that.  Driving on the 101 in traffic?  I don’t miss that.  Spending hours talking about the rarified world of Silicon Valley technology, where everyone knows the name of the founder of the Next Big Startup, when I don’t work in tech and never will?  I don’t particularly miss that.

(Our lovely friends do, in fact, work in tech, and it’s fun to hear them talk about their work, but the constant hum from everyone around you of “this startup just got this guy and that one just got that guy and this one just got X dollars of funding and that one just lost is next round of angel funding” makes my eyes start to glaze over.)

Yesterday morning, as we were packing to leave, the California State Supreme Court delivered its ruling upholding Prop 8.  As we drove to the airport, we passed a protest on the corner- people holding signs, some dressed in wedding gowns, objecting to the decision and pledging to continue the fight for equal rights. Dozens of cars (including ours) honked in solidarity and support as they drove by.

I felt a rush of affection for California’s culture of protests and the progressive tendencies of the neighborhoods where I’ve lived.  But I also was reminded of how broken California is, what a joke it is to have a state constitution that requires a 2/3 majority to pass a budget, but only a simple majority popular vote to take away rights from a minority group, and how bad the state is at addressing the needs of its poor families.

I don’t pretend that Illinois has this stuff figured out- god knows we don’t.  But these days, instead of wishing I could chuck it all and move back to the Bay Area, I found myself ready to come home – to Chicago.


Posted in navel gazing, nostalgia | 5 Comments