Monday, February 25, 2013

(Secret?) Identity

Last week at work I noticed one of my younger co-workers (she's in her early 20s) anxiously looking at a bottle of salad dressing, wondering just how long it had sat in the refrigerator and whether she could safely put it on her lunch. I asked to take a look at it and reassured her it hadn't gone bad and that she could safely use it. She replied, "Thanks, I just needed a mom to tell me it was OK to eat."

That struck me and gave me a huge smile. Of course, I'm still trying on this mantle of motherhood and feel like a complete newbie at least half the time. I haven't done it with my own child for too long, although I've always tended to mother my former students, my friends and my younger sisters (in both loving and hectoring ways, truthfully). Yet this marked a first, probably because this co-worker has only ever known me as somebody's mother. She didn't know me before I had J; to her, my identity has always included that of a mom. And because of that, I have the power to accurately and safely gauge condiment edibility. I could have told her that the dressing was safe, had I known her two years ago, but this whole motherhood gig gives me added cache.

I thought about it, and I believe, to some extent, that rings true with me. For example: I need to get my engagement ring fixed. Who will I ask about the best place to take it? My mother and my mother-in-law. Whom do I call when I get sick (aside from dear T, of course)? Mom. When my sister M had her daughter five months before I had J, I tended to call her first with my newborn questions--after all, she knew what to do. And she probably felt about two steps ahead of me in her own Mom Knowledge, if that.

I'm not saying in any way that women without children don't have authority. Some of the most motherly women I know don't children of their own and give excellent advice, and I know some mothers I wouldn't trust to tell me water is wet. But for good or ill, me having J has apparently imbued me with an invisible badge of Experience and Knowledge. I'll do my best to earn it.

Now, wear your hat--it's cold outside. Yes, I can fix that; I just need some string. And don't worry--a little baking soda and vinegar should get that stain right out.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Type-A Woes

So I'm trying to streamline my Pinterest boards with regard to food. So far, I've created "Slow Cooker Recipes", "Soups and Stews", and "Desserts". I think I also created something about "Sides".

But where to go next? Vegetarian/Chicken/Beef? Salads and Appetizers? Make that two categories? Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner? Just how narrow do I make this? I will take suggestions, people.
How on earth do you organized folks do this all the time? I find myself getting actually concerned about this, and slightly paralyzed. I'm only half-joking. And yet, I do love the feeling of organizing. It's sucked me in. Hell, I've even tried to do CleanMama's routine of cleaning: Bathrooms on Monday, dusting on Tuesday, vacuuming on Wednesday.... Except I got home yesterday at 6, ate with my dad who's in town, and then plopped down on the couch because I just did not want to vacuum (or exercise) at 8pm. I had a sore throat, a lot on my mind, and zero motivation. So I sat down, started the DVR (Once Upon a Time--it's a little silly, but I love it), and crushed a bunch of Goldfish, which do not fall anywhere on good food for my eating plan.

I guess I have to forgive myself and take a day off, and recognize that organizing a bit at a time actually takes time to set up, but once in place, it works.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

As Others See Us

I put this together for my company blog, so I thought I'd post it here as well.

Every day we wake up, rub the sleep out of our eyes, and make a decision about...what to wear. Some of us plan ahead and lay out the clothes the night before in order to avoid that last-minute rush that can end up surprisingly agonizing (and time-wasting): Khakis or cords? Dress or pants? Why is it that the ONE SHIRT I want has disappeared from my closet?!? Don't even get me started on shoes.

Some simply throw on whatever's right at hand and...cleanish. But for others, that choice can inform the entire day. We base it on weather, mood, places to go that day (meeting? yoga? lazy Sunday?), who we'll see. Clothing is an extension of how we view ourselves and how we want others to view us. More than once I have looked at strangers walking by and wondered, "What process did he use to put that exact outfit together? What went through his mind?" This question arises for choices that range all the way from gorgeous to spectacularly bizarre.

I have just entered the world of advertising and marketing as an insider and not merely a consumer. Yet I realize that I've asked those same kinds of questions of certain ads I've seen, although it often goes along the lines of, "If they chose this ad, what on earth did they leave on the cutting room floor?" That, combined with the sheer volume and quality of work my colleagues put in to make sure their clients get exactly what they want, makes me realize anew just how much stock we put in perception. Whether it's choosing the color of one's socks or what font to make a tagline in an advertising campaign, each resembles a specific choice made by someone (or many someones) to promote a certain look. With clothing, sometimes we only focus on how we perceive ourselves; with marketing, a firm creates something for an entire, often very specific audience. 

As a proofreader and editor, I have the privilege of fine-tuning what my colleagues have successfully created, going over not just grammar and copy but also graphics and style so the vision--the desired perception--matches what the client wants. It's both exciting and daunting, as I often have the final say before it goes out into the world. So whether it's my own shoes or a new campaign for the Bills, I get to have a tiny bit of control over how others see that. And that's pretty amazing to me.