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13 years later and the circle closes

standard January 14, 2015 7 responses

Back when I was in college I babysat for a woman who worked in advertising. She was hands down the coolest person I knew. Possibly the most unstable, but definitely the coolest, so when I found myself needing a summer internship, I begged her to let me interview at her agency.

This led to my most painful interview memory ever, where, after I had GUSHED about how much I just LOOOOOVED ads, she asked me which were currently my favorite and I completely blanked.

“Uh… the one with… the plane….” I stammered, making a pathetic initiation of a plane flying with my hand.

Incredibly enough I got the job. Hard to turn down virtually unpaid and willing help. And so began my love affair with all things advertising.

I spent that summer filing things, watching endless bits of competition reels, helping them move, from one office to another, and doing basically anything they needed me to do.

The next summer I got another internship  (much better paid, as in, I got some money rather than none) in New York City. I lived in the stark and rather depressing Barnard dorms, navigated the seriously overwhelming and expensive Big Apple as best as I could, and loved every minute of it. It was a smaller agency and I actually got to do some advertising work.

Then I met the love of my life and threw caution and dreams to the wind and moved to Boston instead of going home to finish school.

I hadn’t given up on advertising, I was just willing to let it slide for a bit as I attempted to obtain a Masters while living an ocean away from my school and my teachers, at a time when people were just barely starting to use the Internet.

It took me a few months of working at a daycare center by day and doing class work at night to realize the situation was untenable. I ditched any hope of finishing my Masters like that and found myself an ad agency that would hire me.

Because ad agency.

This was my first real stint as an actual employee of an ad agency rather than just a summer internship. I lapped up every minute of it. The client pitches. The cantankerous creatives. The fun we had even when we were beyond exhausted. I loved the challenge of translating client requests into language the creative teams could use, and then translating the creative teams’ work for the clients. It was hard work, but it was fun.

So, it stood to reason that I was determined to work in advertising after finally finishing my Masters.

Life’s funny though; it never quite goes how you plan.

We moved to California in October 2001. The world around here had essentially skidded to a halt. Marketing budgets had been cut right and left and there were no marketing jobs to be had anywhere. There was one interview that could have gone my way, but something about the team rubbed me the wrong way and I didn’t push for the job. There was another interview that for some reason just didn’t work out. And that was it. The doors had shut in my face and I found myself changing tacks.

So here I am, thirteen years later. I’ve made a name for myself as a writer. I’ve published a novel. I do a lot of consulting. And I truly thought my ad days were in my past.

Until a friend offhandedly asked me if I would ever consider copywriting.

In all my years working, living, breathing ad stuff, and later all my years working, living, breathing the written word, it had never occurred to me to blend the two.

I said yes without a moment’s hesitation. Went to my first meeting hoping against hope that no one would guess I was faking it with all I had. Aced my first project. Aced the second. And now find myself once again immersed in the fantastic world of advertising.

People, it’s fun.

Every new project leads me to having to learn something new. Want to know anything about solar power? Flash technology? Data storage? I got ya covered. 

I’m working with creative people. I’m exercising a part of my creative brain that hasn’t had a chance to play much in recent years.

I’m allowed to be as punny as I want. It’s even encouraged. Swoon.

Even better? I’m good at it. Better than I ever was on the client side of things.

Do you know how good it feels to feel good at something? Damn good, that’s how.

They may not be words I’m writing for me, but they’re fun to write and it’s amazing to be working with people again. And who knows, maybe one day, someone driving down the highway on their way to work, will get a laugh out of one of my tag lines.

That’s almost as good as becoming a best selling novelist. Almost.

The Work At Home Mom Summer Paradox

standard July 9, 2014 5 responses

I had all these grand plans for the summer. I was going to get up at 6:30 to go for a walk/run with the dog before M left for work. I was going to write, write, write, write. So much writing. So many goals. I was going to get my office and myself organized. I was going to go on day trip adventures with the girls.

I had Plans. With a capital P.

I totally felt like having the kids (and the puppy) at home wouldn’t be a hindrance. Instead they would help me stay on track!

Ha. Ha. Double Ha.

They might well be 9 and almost 7. They might well be relatively self sufficient. They might even be more than happy to play somewhere far from my supervisory eye. They’re still there. They still talk, and play, and quibble, and need, need, need.

They might not be in the office with me (most of the time), but their chatter and their singing (oh yes… so much singing) is pervasive and makes it so very hard to get into The Zone. When I do, somehow, manage to get into that elusive productive space, they somehow need something important. You know. Like lunch. Needy little ones.

There’s no winning.

As for the getting up early to walk? Who was I kidding? No, really, was anyone fooled by that declaration? (Even if I did only make it in my head?) Summers are for sleeping in! Duh.

A smart mom would throw in the towel and not even try. A smart mom would put off all of these lofty goals and just relax and enjoy her kids for the next few weeks.

But I am not a smart mom. I am a pig headed mom who wants it all. And who really feels the need to scrape together a few dollars to help the family finances as best as she can.

And frankly, I think the kids deserve a summer where I’m not hovering over their shoulders every second of every day. They SHOULD get to make a mess of their bedrooms, the living room, the kitchen, and the bathrooms. They SHOULD get to use the swing in any creative way that makes sense to them without me cringing and wondering how much the ER visit will run.

Disk swing in a backyard

So I’m going to keep spending my mornings and some of my afternoons sitting at my desk, trying to find my calm writing center, trying to get in touch with my muses, trying to ignore the kids. And when the noise gets to be too much, we’ll duck out and go to swim team practice, or hunt down some fun summer activities and a stray ice cream or two before coming home to try to tame the mess so daddy never has to know just how bad it can get.

Glass of wine reflecting a pool

What? Your swim team practice doesn’t feature wine? That makes me sad for you.

I’m sure I’ll get used to having them be home non stop just a few days before school starts.

And then I’ll have to spend weeks getting used to the silence again.


Almost Time for Camp – A Look at Camp Galileo

standard March 27, 2012 Leave a response

For the longest time I was a spoiled working mom. My childcare situation was the same school year in and school year out. Daycare for all with the exact same schedule as any other time of the year.

Then, last year, C outgrew daycare. It’s more than fine for a day here or a day there, when she goes back and plays with the babies, or hangs with the older kids, but for an entire summer, I wanted something that would entertain her a bit more.

I found a camp that seemed ideal in every way and off she went, every day, for the entire summer. Now, the camp was fine. She had activity options and food at will. She had decent counselors and kids to play with. But really, in hindsight, the camp wasn’t perfect. C didn’t take advantage of all the activity options; she did pottery every single day. She didn’t exactly take advantage of the all organic hot meals provided either; she had a mini hotdog every day of the summer.

By the end of August, C had dropped a pant size and our house was overrun with crumbling clay “art” pieces. Oh, and she had lice.

Fine. I can’t blame them for the lice. Whatever.

In any case, this year, since I’m not working out of the home and have a tad bit more flexibility, I’m thinking my camp options through more carefully than just looking at hours and availability. Lucky for me, the camp that I’ve heard praised in every corner of the local mommyhood, Camp Galileo, reached out to me to see if I’d come check them out.

So I checked them out. And I loved what I saw.

We needed a camp that offered art, C’s passion. Check. They have that. But yay, it’s art smart, not like last year. Each week is built around a theme and the art is incorporated into that theme at an age appropriate level for the campers.

We also wanted a camp that might stave off a bit of the summer “slump.” OK, fine, I’m a mean mom, I want my kids to learn something. Shoot me. Camp Galileo seems to really get that moms want their kids to learn and that kids don’t want to feel like they’re learning. Science, like art, is woven into the weekly curriculum, through fun, hands on, activities that my friend’s kids are still raving about almost 6 months after the fact.

Boys at Camp Galileo
Hands on science fun.

 C and Little L will both be trying out Camp Galileo this summer and thanks to the new lunch program run through ChoiceLunch, I’m pretty sure neither of them will waste away from tiny hotdogs.

You tell me, is this a place your kid would thrive this summer? If so, it’s not too late to sign up, there are still available spots in all of their 30 San Francisco Bay Area campuses. Stay up to date with what’s available and what’s happening by liking the Camp Galileo Facebook page.

Please note, in exchange for this Camp Galileo review and a few more posts between now and this summer, Camp Galileo will be hosting my darling daughters at camp for a week. My opinions about camps, activities, and everything else here are all mine.

Is it Friday yet?

standard November 17, 2011 Leave a response

This morning I found myself being grateful that we were only one day away from the weekend. Such a knee jerk reaction of the gainfully employed. But I work for myself now. If I don’t want to work… I don’t have to. 

Except I do.

I mean, except I want to. Or at least I should.


I have these goals and dreams and I need to do something about them. I want to do something about them. I need to send out emails. I need to write proposals. I need to network and put myself out there.

I feel like I’ve spent the last two weeks bumbling along, vague goals in mind, puttering around.

Then finally, on Tuesday, I woke up, filled with focus and direction. I’d been waiting to feel this way for weeks now. I knew exactly what I was going to do during the day, what I was going to accomplish.

It was a… good day. A good day that was supposed to end with a networking event where I was going to shine.

I left Starbucks with enough time to rush home to gussy up before heading back north to pick up Little L from daycare. The plan was that M would collect C and we’d meet halfway for dinner. He’d take them home while I went on to my event.

But, as we all know, the best laid plans always go awry.

First, M got waylaid at the office.

I was undaunted. I could work with that. Grab both kids, feed them, then hand them off when he could get there. I’d be an hour late. Tops.

And then.

The call.

Just as I was pulling into the driveway at home, 30 minutes from school.

C had fallen off the monkey-bars and was refusing to stand. Could I please come get her early?

A million things ran through my head as I grabbed a decent pair of shoes, a jacket, and a belt before jumping back into the car and driving like a maniac to her school.

When I got there she was still lying on her back, pale as a sheet, clearly scared out of her mind. It took me seconds to decide that we were going to the ER.

The whole plan was derailed.

A friend collected Little L from daycare. I took C to the ER.

And three hours later, on the way home, clean bill of health from the doctors in hand, I had to fight off the urge to just fall asleep right then and there.

That brief burst of mojo that appeared on Tuesday was gone just as quickly as it had come. I’m doing my level best to get it back, but it’s elusive; scared by the thought that if it does comes back, something else will just come along to derail it again.

It’s been that kind of year. 

There’s one day left to this week. One last day to salvage the wreck and get something tangible done.

I’ll find a way to do it, mojo or no. I started this morning by making a to do list. With a little luck I’ll get through it before the end of Friday. It’ll take some effort, but I need to do it.

I need to keep moving forward.