Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hard day

One of the great things about being a business analyst was that I knew my job. I knew all the standard ways of gathering requirements, working with business owners and felt confident about how I did it.

Now as a product manager, I totally understand why it took eight interviews to make a decision. I scoffed and wondered why they were putting me through it and I rolled my eyes because I thought it was a slam dunk decision. The reality: It was a risk to hire me.

It has been a particularly tough week. My new boss started on Monday while a coworker got fired. The process the company has in place to approve projects is the equivalent of an elimination panel on a reality show; it is nasty, brutish and long. (ok, hyperbole). I felt like not only did I need to hit the ground running but I also had to get it right. No mistakes. This job isn't one where I walk in and know the ropes. For the first three weeks, a coworker guided me through the process, but no one gave guidance on how to do the job. It has been a constant challenge to figure out what I'm supposed to deliver and I've been feeling like I'm not delivering what's expected.

Then today, I met with my new boss. He gave me some feedback on one of the documents I have to present to the aforementioned elimination panel and while it was useful feedback, I felt defeated, on the verge of tears and I really just wanted to quit. He picked up on my frustration and mentioned that he had to learn all of this stuff and that part of his job was to help me, to teach me. So that's what he's going to do.

I felt instant gratitude, relief and also fear. Will I learn? Can I do it? Am I smart enough? Quick enough? I realized that I'm completely outside of my comfort zone. There's a real chance that I could fail at this job and clearly they will fire anyone who isn't up to their standards.

I can't remember having a job this difficult or working this hard.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The first step

When my father answered the phone, I didn't know what to say. "Hello, dad, this is Viviane" seemed too personal. "Hello, father" sounded like something out of Star Wars. I didn't want to call him by his first name, that was too detached. So I said, "Hello, this is Viviane."

Of course I managed to mumble this and I had to repeat myself a few times. He didn't recognize my voice and I had to clearly explain who I was (his daughter). He was really, really surprised. It shocked me to not have my voice recognized (even though it's totally logical) and I fought really hard to control myself because I was going to start crying.

We had a nice talk. We both avoided diving into conversation about the past and talked about the weather (twice), where we lived, what I did for a living and other safe topics. He did mention that he was a different person, a calmer person. When I ended the conversation, I made a point of letting him know that he could call me, that this was just the beginning of us talking, and that we couldn't let habit keep us from moving forward. He was really happy I called and said that it meant a lot to him that I did. It was clear that this was true. When I ended the call, I looked at my phone; we talked for 51 minutes and 52 seconds.

I'm not 100% aware of all of my feelings about this. It's been a long time since I've even thought about my father. It's hard to even type this. The whole thing is sad and has left me thinking about the amount of time that has passed, the amount of time he has left, my upcoming birthday, getting older, relationships, children, parents, love, the meaning and purpose of my life, of his. I am overcome with the feeling of the fleetingness of life, of how time is always passing and that nineteen years has gone by where neither of us were capable of ending this thing. But why? Why did things work out this way? I know some of the answers, but I also want to look forward and have hope for the future, because nothing that has happened in the past can be changed.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I had a very New York experience yesterday. My friend C and I hit the town, looking for a replacement hat (I lost my fabulous Parisian hat somehow) and we ended up at Bryant Park. The Holiday kiosks were set up and we wanted to enjoy some hot chocolate and sit and watch the ice skaters. So we walk up to the Bari kiosk and placed our orders. As I'm standing there, I noticed a packet of Swiss Miss instant cocoa behind the counter. Noooo, I think. Noooooooooooo.

Yes the did. They served us Swiss Miss instant cocoa. I don't know why I didn't say anything. I think I was tired. I didn't want to argue. I looked over at C. She noticed the Swiss Miss too. She also noticed that they even used water, not milk.

I walked away from the kiosk annoyed and I threw out the cup without even drinking it. At least C tried to give it to a homeless person but even he didn't want it.

Well, do a touristy thing and you're bound to run into someone looking to make a quick buck. Total for this experience? $3.50.

Friday, November 23, 2007


I went to my aunt and uncle's house in Long Island for Thanksgiving. Like usual, I didn't want to go, but once I was there, it was fine. My aunt's family was there and they're very nice and everyone was in good spirits.

My uncle spoke to me about my father. I haven't spoken to my father in nineteen years. I actually thought it was fifteen years as if that makes a difference. I haven't spoken to my father in nineteen years. Gosh. I didn't realize until writing that down that it was that long ago...

Moving on, I cut my father out of my life because he was a jerk. When I was sixteen, my parents got divorced, all kinds of parental drama ensued and I moved out and moved in with my grandparents. I was angry. Really angry. I lived in fear of my father for so long and then something clicked, I realized I didn't have to be terrified of him any longer.

As I got older, I had to deal with my anger and trust issues. I had my share of bad boyfriend choices in my early twenties thanks to his example. I worked hard to work through my issues and I'm still working on issues that sprung out of my relationship with my him. Over the years, I felt the best way to live my life was to keep him out of mine. My expectation was that I would never, ever speak to him again.

So yesterday, my uncle, his brother, spoke to me about father. That my father has been unable to move on from that point nineteen years ago when I moved out and stopped talking to him. He is consumed by what happened and cannot get past it. What happened between us is his biggest regret, and that he's stuck. He's stuck and cannot move on.

To think that I have impacted a person like this, that someone is unable to go forward in his life, and that this person is my father broke my heart. I always assumed his life went on just like mine did. I actually thought that he never cared about me at all and was only angry that I turned my back on him, angry that I held this grudge.

It is more important to me to have him move forward in his life than it is for me to continue this silence. I've decided to call him this weekend. What am I going to say? My uncle suggested that I start with hello. He said it doesn't have to be a long conversation, that it's ok if it's just a five-minute phone call, but that it has to start somewhere.

It's time for me to end the silence and let my father, and myself, heal from this and move on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

File under "what was I thinking?"

Sometimes I'm all cute and dressed nicely and that's lovely but sometimes I will walk out of the house in a lounge outfit with grandpa socks. Huh?

I thought I was going to run a quick errand but I ended up having to go to the co-op. I'm walking down the street and normally I don't care about looking like crap (we all look like crap sometimes), but geez, this was a ridiculous outfit.

Feel free to chime in. This is bad.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A week without TV: the end

Ok, I actually did do most of the week without TV. Friday night I broke the fast and started watching some of the shows I TiVo'd. I liked going most of the week without TV. The week felt longer in a good way even though I was tired.

Will I do it again? I'm going to do it this week, but I won't blog about it every day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Day 3 without TV: Huh?

I still come home and sit on the couch in my TV viewing position. Sometimes I just stare into space. I am overwhelmed with how tired I feel. I played a staring game with my cat; she held out for a while until she blinked first. I thought about moving furniture around in my bedroom, but taking the bed apart at 930 at night isn't the best idea. I will go to bed around 10pm.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Day 2 without TV: Tired

One of the things that not watching TV does to me is it makes me aware of how I'm feeling. I'm tired. It's 10pm and I'm going to hit the sack. Normally, I'd watch a show even though I'm tired and turn in at 11. I've been waking up early and going for a run. I'm still adjusting to that.

I got some thing done: had a very unhealthy dinner of chips and dip (French onion), washed some new shirts by hand, went through my RSS feed. I got home at 8, so I haven't really done much.

Overall: Too busy and tired to really care that I didn't watch Bones.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Day One: A Week Without TV

Since starting my new job, I've been trying to figure out how to prioritize my life and do the things I want to do during the week. No doubt, I love my TiVo but I find myself watching shows just to numb out and that's not a good thing. I want to make sure that the shows I'm watching I'm engaged in and that when I'm watching TV, it's not because I'm trying to get away from something.

Well, I should cut myself a bit of slack. Sometimes one needs to watch TV and zone out.

I decided to conduct an experiment anyway. A week without TV. I'm stretching the truth a bit here because I'm allowing myself time to watch a show while eating dinner, but that's about it. What else will I find myself doing instead of sinking deeper into my couch?

Well, tonight I cleaned up my kitchen, put away laundry (which usually stays out the entire week), talked to my uncle for 45 minutes on the phone, went through my physical mail, caught up on my RSS feeds and a bunch of other small tasks. Not bad. Now I'm obviously blogging and I'll have time to go through my email and then go to bed at a decent hour.

Let's see how the rest of the week goes.

Frank Buckles - Last Man Standing

Mr. Frank Buckles, at 106 years of age, is the last living American soldier who fought in World War I. 

Pretty incredible, right?  When he dies, this period of American History is firmly in the past.  Yeah, it is in the past right now but having someone alive, someone who participated and witnessed is a link. 

Check out the op-ed in the NYT. 

Blogged with Flock

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Automat cafeterias: former locations

Trying to physically find the locations of former Automats wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. This is New York, these buildings have been around forever. Surely I'd be able to find them.

I started off with an old Horn & Hardart Menu directory

and created a map.

View Larger Map

Then walked from 14th street to Times Square. I did wonder if any of the street numbers changed as I wasn't really finding stuff. So many of the buildings appeared to have been torn down and replaced with boring steel and glass high-rises.

Finding old photos of Automats wasn't that easy either. I spent a lot of time at the library, even going through microfiche, to try to find something to compare the present to.

However, during my week off in between jobs, I did make a little headway. I still have a bunch of locations uptown to investigate.However, during my week off in between jobs, I did make a little headway. I still have a bunch of locations uptown to investigate, but I have a few photos to show.

I made the Automat map public. If anyone has pictures of Automats, please send them along!

Friday, November 2, 2007

boxes and neighbors

I've been trying to have the post office redeliver a package this entire week. I'm not home during the day and while I left notes to try the super, he hasn't been available. I've come home every day to find nothing on my doorstep.

I opened my door this evening, thinking how tomorrow I'm going to have to drive on over to the post office when I see a note from one of my neighbors stating that she has the package.

Well that's nice! It's also surprising. Then I realize why this older woman who lives on the second floor took the time and energy to climb up two more flights of stairs to leave me a note: I helped her with her bags. I remember her reaction. She really looked at me for a good while, asked my name and gave me hers. She was thankful. She also seemed surprised. Maybe none of our neighbors had offered to help her in a while.

In this city I live in talking to your neighbors is an anachronism. I guess helping them out with bags is as well.

Her note spiraled another thought: picking up the package. Would she invite me in? Would I be offered a drink? This thought made me think about how there was a time that inviting your neighbors in was expected, the polite thing to do. I thought about the state of my own apartment. Oh no, I could never invite someone in spontaneously.

Growing up, my mother kept the house tidy. While she gave me a hard time about making my bed, she wasn't aggressive about making me clean my room. It wasn't messy to begin with, but I actually think she cleaned it for me up until I moved out. I did go through a period of time when I lived with my grandparents where I kept my room disorganized and went through a long postponed teenage rebellion, but once I lived out on my own, I tended to keep things tidy.

And then I moved here. This place is larger than the studio apartment I lived in a few years ago, but a lot smaller than the two bedroom duplex I came from. I forgot how quickly a small apartment can go from tidy to messy. Leave a plate, some mail and bags on a counter and it goes downhill. A little more effort is required to keep stuff under control.

So there I was, note in hand, thinking that I need to clean this place more often. I want be ready should I like to invite someone in.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A shining band of gold

The title of this post is terribly cheesy but I fulfilled one of my childhood dreams tonight: I saw The Police live in concert at MSG!!

Sting's voice was outstanding. He hit notes and held them long; he sounded exactly the same and looked fantastic. Andy Summers made guitar playing look easy while Stewart Copeland was so freaking focused and incredibly hot and intense. Plus, they all wore costumes tonight!

It was fantastic to be surrounded by fans and so many people. I danced, sung, even played air drums during Wrapped Around Your Finger. (yeah, but it's my favorite part of the song!)

They played Every Breath You Take as an encore and I called my mom and held up the phone. We love this song, we love this band, and I got all emotional wishing she were here, having her on the line sharing this moment while remembering when I first heard this song, how my mom and I used to blast it on the stereo at home or in the car. So many memories.

I've waited for 23 years to see The Police in concert. This was a great experience and wow, nothing makes me feel more alive than hearing music live!

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