Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stress Buster: Emmy Rossum's Sentimental Journey Review

Last week was a very stressful week. Well, every week seems like it's a very stressful week. Last week was more so due to a combination of illness for Princess E (going on week 4!) and myself. When the mom is sick, it's a very stressful time for the family. So it was as if my friends at the One2One Network knew how stressful the week was going to be when they sent me a review copy of Emmy Rossum's new album, Sentimental Journey, releasing today, January 29th. If you aren't familiar with Emmy Rossum, you must go to Youtube right now and search for her. I especially love to listen to her renditions of the songs from Phantum of the Opera. The new album is a collection of classic covers that spans much of the early part of the last century.

Besides her lead role in Phantom, Emmy Rossum is an acclaimed actress currently starring in the Showtime series Shameless with William H. Macy. Next month, her film Beautiful Creatures with Emma Thompson and Viola Davis opens on February 13th. I watched her on late night television a long time ago and she said she got her start as a singer performing at the Metropolitan Opera at age 7! So it's no wonder that the album shows a wide vocal range and careful thought as to how to craft the album into what Emmy has characterized as an emotional musical journey, with each song representing a month in the year. Emmy said of the process, "Some songs were obvious fits, like Summer Wind for June, and Pretty Paper for December...I chose Nobody Knows You (When You're Down and Out) for September, because, to me, the plaintive melody and lyric emotionally reflect the cold weather creeping in and the sense of melancholy we can get in the fall months."

The entire album was a balm to my stressed out soul. It was exactly what I needed since the last new song I bought was Gangnam Style. After a whole summer and fall listening to that because my kids were addicted to it, I felt like listening to Sentimental Journey was like going through detox. There is a special treat at the end of the album, a bonus song that made me laugh out loud. The lyrics are so ridiculous that it makes you wonder how they sang songs like that in the "good old days." It made me glad I am alive today, even with the crazy stress that my life usually is--at least I don't have to wear lipstick to be loved! If you want to find out more, check out the album here.   

I participated in this campaign for One2One Network. I received a free copy of the CD to facilitate my review. By posting, I am eligible for incentives. All opinions stated are my own.

Monday, January 14, 2013

From Left to Write: The Expats

This post was inspired by mystery thriller novel The Expats by Chris Pavone. Kate Moore happily sheds her old life to become a stay at home mom when her husband takes a job in Europe. As she attempts to reinvent herself, she ends up chasing her evasive husband's secrets. Join From Left to Write on January 22 (the paperback release date) as we discusss The Expats. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.

When I read this lead into the description of the book, what struck me for the first time was the term "working mother." I've heard it many times before, but I never thought about the irony of it. When a mom works outside the home, she is called a working mother, but if a father does, there is no equivalent, he's just a father, right? It also denigrates what stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) do because it implies that moms who are raising their kids are not working. Any SAHM would tell you in a heartbeat that the job we have is definitely the hardest one in the world. You are all at once a psychologist, housekeeper, cook, day care teacher, van driver, janitor, laundry operator, facilities manager, computer operator, and CEO of your household. Salary.com calculated last year that an average SAHM should be paid $112,962 for her work. I think mine would be higher because of the many many times I have cleaned R's vomit off the floor due to his weak esophagus (sorry Costco shoppers). Unfortunately you can't list this on your resume.

So that was why when Kate Moore decides to quit her job as a CIA agent to become a SAHM in Europe, I mentally shouted at her, you idiot! Do you have any idea how hard it will be to ever work again, especially if the break in your resume is measured by years and not months? A lot of people say that nowadays it is understood that a woman can take a break in her career (although being a SAHM is no break but time spent doing hard labor!) and she will be able to return to work. But in actuality, this is still much harder to do than it appears. And I get it, all things being equal, would I want to hire someone who has not being working in her profession for a period of time if there is at least one other person that is equally qualified but that has been working the entire time? Of course, the less risky path would be to hire the person who is currently working in the same career.

I have been quite frustrated by the responses I get from employers during my job search. Because I clarify that I was not fired from my last job but that I resigned to stay at home with my kids, they think it is fair game to ask me how many kids I have, who will take care of them, and how I would feel about missing Christmas and Easter with them. And even though I tell them I will work as hard and as much as I am required, they don't seem to believe me. One employer provided the feedback that it seemed like I didn't want it that much. Really? I guess I took the California bar exam while pregnant and taking care of two kids for the pure fun of the mental exercise. I guess I hired babysitters to go for interviews all over the Bay Area and even to Washington, D.C. because I wanted to get out of the house more. I guess ensuring the survival of our species through propagation is actually an act of professional suicide. Let me point out--no one would ever question a man's ability to perform at the top of his game because he has three kids.

If you are an employer given the opportunity to hire a woman with kids who has taken a break from her career, you need to look beyond the fact that there is someone else you can hire who is currently working. You have no idea how dedicated this woman will be to making sure she outperforms everyone else because she has to prove that you don't need to cut her any slack because she is a mom. She will be better at multi-tasking and at learning new things than anyone else you have working for you (other than the other moms of course). If she can juggle the extra-curricular activities of three kids (currently swimming, math, chess, piano, science, and Awana for my kiddos), she will be able to manage the deadlines of cases and assignments in her sleep. And speaking of sleep, she will be used to not getting any, so you know she can pull all-nighters effectively. If you have a new client or topic that she needs to learn about quickly, you will not be disappointed, for a woman who can learn about the five different generations and 649 different species of Pokémon over two days can certainly get up to speed to write an in-depth relief letter to the CFTC on a new carbon trading investment vehicle.

(Spoiler alert) I was so happy and relieved at the end of the book when Kate is able to work again. At least there is a fictional woman of my recent acquaintance that I can vicariously live through. Thank you for your consideration.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

It's actually 2013. The Mayans were not right. Our family celebrated by going to the last day of Christmas in the Park at San Jose's Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Since it was the last day, the line for rides were nonexistent and everything was uncrowded. R did comment that some of the exhibits were missing eyes or other parts, but that's understandable since the exhibits have been standing in the rain for over a month. If you are ever in the San Jose area during Christmastime, it's a great family outing to see the trees decorated by groups all over San Jose, go ice skating, and go on carnival rides. A great start to the New Year!

Secret Door to Bagel Nirvana, aka Baron Baking
Actually, my New Year's Day really started off right with a delicious treat, actually two, because Stewart had driven to Oakland to get me some bagels. Would your husband drive an hour each way to get you bagels? When you're not pregnant? Points for Stewart!

These were real bagels. As in chewy and flavorful goodness that took me back to my bagel walks on NYC's Upper West Side. First I would hit H&H, then Zabars, then Nussbaum&Wu. If you are eating a multitude of bagels, a five mile walk is definitely the only way you can eat that many and not suffer serious indigestion. I digress. Yesterday, I managed to eat four. Stewart bought 2 bakers dozen (26) from Dan Graf himself at Baron Baking. I had read the NYT article about him and had made eating those bagels a goal of 2013, which Stewart made happen very early on! (Is eating a bagel a valid New Year's resolution?) I've eaten 6 so far, so I have a lot more to go. But I'm going to eat them all. As I told Stewart, think of District 12. If you are an East Coast transplant anywhere near Oakland, you must get some for yourself. HAPPY NEW YEAR!