honey, it’s called survival

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SLATE: In the Name of Love
Elites embrace the “do what you love” mantra. But it devalues work and hurts workers.
By MIYA TOKUMITSU

“Do what you love. Love what you do.”

The command is framed and perched in a living room that can only be described as “well-curated.” A picture of this room appeared first on a popular design blog and has been pinned, tumbl’d, and liked thousands of times. Though it introduces exhortations to labor into a space of leisure, the “do what you love” living room is the place all those pinners and likers long to be.

There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem with DWYL, however, is that it leads not to salvation but to the devaluation of actual work—and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.

Superficially, DWYL is an uplifting piece of advice, urging us to ponder what it is we most enjoy doing and then turn that activity into a wage-generating enterprise. But why should our pleasure be for profit? And who is the audience for this dictum?

Yes, this is an old article.  But it struck a chord with me. The author turned it into a book or vice versa. (Not really sure.)

A friend posted this on their Facebook page and it is an intriguing read. Even if I do not necessarily agree with a lot of commentary. I spent years doing what I did NOT love at that point any longer mainly because I was afraid to take a gamble on myself, and I had bills to pay.  Breast cancer freed me from that because I had to leave my old industry literally to reduce my stress or fear recurrence. (It was one of those times where your medical care team does an intervention, and like it or not, you have to or should listen.)

When the author of the article says things like the quote below it’s like she is mocking those of us who left the corporate hamster wheel.

“DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient.”

Doing my own thing is not elitist, well, it’s survival. I am 55. Corporate America does NOT like to hire women over 50. Or even in their mid-40s.  We are too expensive when it comes to things like healthcare and we are old enough to mostly know our own minds.  Knowing your own mine is a threat.  It’s far easier for them to hire women half of our age who can still sport short skirts without looking too old to sport short skirts.  And if they have a choice between hiring a woman my age who doesn’t color her hair and who hasn’t had “work done” and one who has? Botox and hair coloring win every time.

Ageism is a real thing.  It was a very strange sensation realizing I was no longer one of the younger ones in the room.  And since I stopped coloring my hair, I look in the mirror and I see relatives who came before me.  I loved every one of them, but I am still not sure how I feel about it some days.

Some days I wonder should I have had “work done” even a little filler like a lot of women I know? And every time I have this conversation with myself, it ends the same way: I am who I am, I can’t pretend to be someone else.

On some days I am fine with my age and who I am.  Other days it’s like where did my 25 year old ass and legs go?

Yet, the reality is me at 55 is a heck of a lot happier than me in my 20s.

Being in your 20s is exhausting.  The games with dating and learning to be yourself.  The games with who were actually your friends, and the hurt of the ones who betray you and you should have let go of long before that.  Or being in your 20s and to have a boyfriend cheat on you and they don’t understand why you couldn’t just move past it and not walk? And neither do some of your friends?

The twenties and even your thirties was the whole additional journey of trying to find yourself as a woman and trying to learn how to be an adult.  Some days were better than others, remember? Remember the days you wanted to scream into an empty room?

Working in your 20s, or what I remember in the financial services industry (and friends who were in different industries had similar tales) meant learning to keep your back to the wall when some older male colleagues around and I even remember one temp job I had where my first day two women warned me not to get caught in the room where the copy machines were with one guy in particular.

Damn we all could have had our workplace #MeToo moments and a lot of us did to varying degrees. But we didn’t talk or tweet about it, we just survived.  Because we had to.

I had a lot of friends get married in their 20s.  In a lot of cases I should say the first time.  As I attended wedding after wedding sometimes I just didn’t get how you could go from being dependent upon your parents to being dependent upon a spouse without any chance to grow in between and learn who you were.

A lot of my friends were just on autopilot to marry and produce children.  We were partially all raised to be that way.  Maybe that sounds elitist, I don’t know. It is just the way it was.

I was a late bloomer so I did not marry until much later and I think the timing was right for me. I spent a lot of time feeling like I did not quite fit and didn’t quite know myself.  But it took years to even admit to myself that I liked spending time by myself.  I was at the end of an engagement where I had the epiphany that if I did end up just with myself I would be o.k.  That realization was very freeing and I think it was a key to opening me up to the woman I am today. Or who I might become.  Some days I still wonder am I there yet?

Career-wise I had a path that wasn’t necessarily the path I would have chosen initially but I liked it and it paid the bills.  Was it fulfilling? Nope. But it sure was eye-opening as to human nature.

Then came breast cancer.  I could no longer handle the stress, the hours, the mental gymnastics of cut throat and duplicitous people.  Being a woman in my old industry was exhausting on a good day, but after breast cancer surgery and treatment? I just couldn’t do it any longer.  And it had ceased being rewarding long ago.  And it’s an industry that still treats women like crap and always will.  And I would never be hard enough.

So breast cancer gave me the courage to look at things differently.  It was hard. It still can be hard.  People ask me why some days I do so much? The answer is I was in my old industry for so long, I forgot how to relax.  You were geared to getting so much done in one day. You had to.  You were subject to everyone else’s deadlines.

Doing more of what I love and being able to love what I do? It became about survival and starting to experience ageism.  And when ageism smacks you in the face, it’s a real bitch. So when people say do what you love (DWYL) is somehow elitist, well sometimes it is the path that opened for you. I wasn’t ready to be a greeter at Target or WalMart, sorry.

So I took a risk. I took a chance on complete change. It’s just as hard some days as putting up with crap as a tiny cog in the wheel of Corporate America, trust me.  Nothing is perfect, and those who pretend it is are doing themselves a disservice.

Let’s talk about other things in realm of ageism as a woman in the workforce.  I learned this in my 40s when I became a statistic in the layoffs done at Wachovia Securities before Wells Fargo came in.  Corporate jets were not expendable, but worker bees like me were.  Do you know how surreal it was having an HR folder full of accolades and customer testimonials as to how GOOD a job I did, and being fêted nationally by the company as a “volunteer of the year” for my volunteerism in my community to being a corporate pre-merger layoff statistic?  Seriously, the day I got my package they gave me a chart showing where everyone was getting cut in my region and whether they were male or female.

After being forced as part of a giant corporate separation package to take a time out (in case they decide to UN-lay me off and bring me back), I came back out into the workforce late 2007 to early 2008.  A completely crap economy and here I was a woman in my 40s. Why hire me when they could hire someone so much younger? And then there was the interview where the interviewer literally asked why I did not remember him.  Apparently I had turned him down for a job like 15 plus years prior and he never got over it? (Yeah THAT wasn’t too weird, was it?) And then there were the job interviews that were like marathons. Literally hours in one day like a perverse corporate endurance test.

And in this brave new world of interviewing a lot of the interviews were not even face to face any longer. And even if you sent a thank you note for an interview like you are supposed to, sometimes they just didn’t bother to ever reply. Most of the time they never bothered to acknowledge you even submitted a resume.

When I finally did land a job which on paper sounded amazing, among other things I was working for someone who did not offer even access to healthcare benefits, proper vacation time, or a retirement plan.  But I needed to work, I had to support myself.  So I took it.

This is the job I should have left three months in, but instead I stayed about four years. I left post breast cancer.  I was exhausted.  Because I worked for a company that offered no benefits, sick days, vacation days and never had a policy on sick or vacation days per say, I pretty much had my breast cancer surgery and came right back to work.  I had to work through my post surgical treatment.  I felt like I was in a white collar sweat shop and damn didn’t my ancestors work themselves to the bone a immigrants to the US so future generations like myself didn’t have to?

But I did not have the courage or faith in myself to leave.  Until my husband looked at me one day after the doctors had done their intervention and told me I had to get out of the current job that the stress would kill me, and said “quit.”

I looked at him like I misheard him. So he repeated himself and said “Quit. It’s not worth the stress and something else will come along.”

So I did what I never had done, I quit. And a weight lifted off of my shoulders. But this was the job that left me with Corporate America PTSD.  Not only didn’t I want to get back on that hamster wheel, I couldn’t.

So I changed everything. I had to. Has it been easy doing only for myself? No not every day because some days I feel like I have adult onset A.D.D. and for love or money, I can’t concentrate. But it’s nice to feel like me again, or to maybe even finally know who I actually am.

Growing up the choices were career girl or get married.  Even after the day of bra burnings, female empowerment, and women’s lib that was still pretty much it.  Today, in a lot of ways, it still is. And I am so sure a lot of women will read this and be enraged. Stuff it ladies, I am not breaking new ground here.

One thing I agree with the magazine article writer on is if you kind of want to “have it all,”  you might need to have lots and lots of lovely money to begin with. If you are just a regular person, that mantra is a little harder to achieve.  But I do believe that you should try to love what you do, or at least like it.  Otherwise it’s not worth it and weighs you down.

Women wear many hats in life.  We walk many tightropes. But somehow, we get there, don’t we? It’s called survival.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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the continued desecration of chester county

So Ship Road today. Pipeline Alley. It’s hideous and outrageous.

This pipelines aren’t benefiting us, they are benefiting people in Scotland making plastics and wherever the hell else they are shipping dangerous explosive things through pipelines. They are of course also benefiting corporate America. And I think select politicians.

Driving up Ship Road today it made me wonder if Terence Farrell has seen this? After all isn’t he the county commissioner who was overheard commenting negatively on the county litigation involving pipelines? That’s what people are saying so I have to ask does he expect us to vote for him in November ?

I haven’t asked him personally about this, but I know all these politicians read anything put out mentioning their name between now and election day so perhaps he’ll set the record straight and put out an official statement?

What is happening in Chester County and elsewhere is criminal. We live here. Where we call home is being destroyed and we are all being put at risk.

Our homes are our castles until pipeline comes through.

I don’t find that acceptable do you?

the continued desecration of chester county

So Ship Road today. Pipeline Alley. It’s hideous and outrageous.

This pipelines aren’t benefiting us, they are benefiting people in Scotland making plastics and wherever the hell else they are shipping dangerous explosive things through pipelines. They are of course also benefiting corporate America. And I think select politicians.

Driving up Ship Road today it made me wonder if Terence Farrell has seen this? After all isn’t he the county commissioner who was overheard commenting negatively on the county litigation involving pipelines? That’s what people are saying so I have to ask does he expect us to vote for him in November ?

I haven’t asked him personally about this, but I know all these politicians read anything put out mentioning their name between now and election day so perhaps he’ll set the record straight and put out an official statement?

What is happening in Chester County and elsewhere is criminal. We live here. Where we call home is being destroyed and we are all being put at risk.

Our homes are our castles until pipeline comes through.

I don’t find that acceptable do you?

rambling down memory lane….

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Some weeks I write a lot, other weeks not so much.  As I sat at this traffic light this afternoon headed towards home I realized again how much I do NOT miss the Main Line.  And I smiled again at the presumptuousness of those who refer to Malvern and places like Chester Springs as the “Main Line”. They don’t get it, it’s not the Main Line, and thank goodness.

When I was growing up the Main Line was a far more civilized place until the changes started to seem to appear in the late 1970s .  It was then that I remember my mother remarking about people who had bought a neighbor’s house on Brentford Road in Haverford always lined up their expensive cars right out front like a car lot or showroom, instead of parking them down  behind the stone wall near the garages.

But it was true, it was the little changes. At first you didn’t notice much.  But as the old families moved out, and new people moved in and old homes started to get torn down or bumped up to what we would come to call McMansions, change was coming.  Long time businesses closed, new businesses came in, some good some bad.

Movie theaters started to close. First I remember was the Suburban in Suburban Square.  That was a grand old theater once upon a time. I can’t even find photos of it anymore.  The next movie theater I remember closing was the Wynnewood theater. Then in more revent times the Ardmore Theater on Lancaster Avenue which has yet another horrible fate planned for it.

Then the department stores. I am not sure of the order but Bonwit Teller, B. Altman, Wanamaker’s, then ultimately Strawbridge & Clothier. For me Bonwit Teller and B. Altman were particular favorites. Followed by Wanamaker’s.  Strawbridge’s in Ardmore was always hit or miss I thought.

Then old time restaurants and diners.  Now I am not saying a lot of these places were culinary masterpieces, but they were the everyday “joints”.  The Viking Inn and Smorgasbord in Ardmore, for example. It opened in 1930s and was the only Scandinavian restaurant around.  I forget when it closed exactly, but it died a slow and horrible death.  And all of the diners that used to be around. I remember some were even those silver metal diner buildings.  Like the one which was in Rosemont once upon a time.  Now there is a McDonald’s where it once was.viking

I remember as even a teenager, out here, where I live now in Chester County, seemed so very far away. Today, I can’t imagine being anyplace else.

I had medical appointments today and had to venture to the Main Line to go to Penn Medicine in Radnor. It’s amazing that we live in and around affluent areas because the roads are in such terrible shape.  And the drivers.  Cutting people off, angry honking, lights and stop signs are all apparently optional.

Every time I go to the Main Line now I feel like I can’t breathe.  There is so much more density and traffic and I feel about a million years old when I pass by what was someone’s house I once knew.  You drive by and you remember who used to live there and the house wasn’t a McMansion or a townhouse or apartment building.  It was just a nice house.

When I was growing up after we moved to the Main Line I remember summers coming back from the beach.  My parents’ early cars had no air-conditioning so I remember the searing end of summer city heat as we came over either the Ben Franklin or Walt Whitman. When we reached the Gladwyne exit of the Schuylkill the temperature just dropped.   All that verdant green. Not so much anymore because well development, development, development.

134 Cheswold Ln, Haverford, PA 19041Even the august Merion Cricket Club is not safe from development and supersizing. Truly lovely when growing up, today, it’s a shell of what it was.  Changes to the original dining rooms, elimination of the casual and teenager friendly Cricket Room and a series of chefs who aren’t remarkable except for how the food has declined in spite of the tarting up of dining rooms. Plans exist to turn Merion into a suburban country club.  These plans would include some of my favorite houses around the club. I especially loved the pink stucco house at 134 Cheswold Lane.  That was the house my parents house sat in the summer of 1973.  The summer the Haverford Hotel was torn down .

I have written about this house and the Haverford hotel before. It was at this pink house on Cheswold Lane that my younger sister learned how to swim in the pool behind the house in the secret garden you could not see from the street.  The garden had the first blueberry bushes I had ever seen.

I also remember spending Saturdays in Bryn Mawr with my friends. Going to Katydid and the bookstore next to it. The Greek diner down from the movie theater. Maybe buy candy at Parvins Pharmacy.

Katydid was originally in Bryn Mawr before moving to Wayne .  They had these little mice in little dresses that were real fur. We used to collect them.  I think some of them are still in my dollhouse from growing up that my sister has in storage somewhere.

It was nice being a kid then. Summer nights were for kick the can and other games we actually were able to play in the road without anyone hitting us.  Certainly can’t do that on Main Line streets now.

When my friends and I were growing up, we always thought we’d grow up and live where our parents lived. HA! It was a nice thought, but between the home prices and ridiculous real estate taxes most of us either can’t or choose not to.

There are so many businesses that are gone. Restaurants. Bakeries. Book stores and who remembers The Owl at Bryn Mawr College? I loved, loved, loved that store. Second hand and antique and out of print books. The Owl bookstore was I think founded to support the college’s scholarship fund. And the older ladies who ran The Owl were amazing.  That place was floor to ceiling books, and several floors of books. It was dusty and sometimes dim in the lighting department but you could get lost for hours looking at books. It was heavenly! (Especially on a rainy day.)

Driving around today I wondered if half of these people in their giant SUVs on their phones ever paused to breathe?  Did they enjoy where they lived? Or was it all back and forth and maybe push someone out of line at the Starbucks drive thru?

Thanks for the memories old Main Line, but nouveau Main Line? I just don’t miss you.  You don’t get yourself anymore. History and tradition and genteel living, all memories.

Thank you Chester County for the new memories.  And being able to find spindle back rocking chairs from Maine in old barns.

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happiness is a meat order from your family’s butcher

Cappuccio’s on 9th Street in Philadelphia. That is the Italian Market to the rest of you.

This was the Saturday morning destination at least twice a month when I was growing up, even when we moved to the Main Line.

And yes, my family has been going here since before my grandfather Bill Zambelli put the abattoirs in this butcher shop.

Cappuccio’s was opened in 1920. Here is their story from their website:

Domenico Cappuccio was born on his family’s farm in Messina, Sicily during the late 1800’s. After his father passed away when he was in 2nd grade, Domenico was forced to leave school to help work the family farm. In 1910, as the rumblings of World War I began in Italy, Domenico decided it would be wise to join his brother in America. However, he was still drafted and this time would be asked to fight for the Americans.

Following his service, Domenico was offered a path to citizenship if he could find an American sponsor. After working several jobs in Southern New Jersey, Domenico ended up in Philadelphia’s Italian Market where he met a man who offered to provide him with sponsorship. This man, Charles Guinta, not only sponsored Domenico but gave him a job in his butcher shop and a place to stay above.

While working at the butcher shop, Domenico met his future wife, worked a fresh produce stand also in the Italian Market. After several years, Mr. Guinta felt that Domenico was ready to go out on his own and suggested he start his own shop down the street. After getting married, he took Guinta’s advice and opened up Cappuccio’s Meats at its current location. The couple would have three children, one of whom, Antoinette Cappuccio, would go onto run the shop with her husband Harry Crimi.

After Domenico retired, Harry and Antoinette Crimi took over Cappuccio’s Meats and continue to run the business today using the family’s traditional values with their son Dominic Crimi.

Now the funny thing about World War I bringing Domenico Cappuccio to the United States is it also played a role in my paternal grandfather’s life.

When my grandfather was a little boy, his mother who had emigrated to the USA as a young woman, took a ship back to Italy so her family still in Italy could meet her son. The problem was, World War I broke out when they were there and they had to stay with family in a little village until the was was over and Trans-Atlantic ship travel resumed.

My grandfather, a little, little boy, was called l’Americano by the villagers during that time. He went on to build a boiler company and factory. During World War II the company had to change it’s name to seem more American- people being suspicious of people born in other countries is sadly nothing new in this country. Both of my grandfathers (my maternal grandfather was Irish) were discriminated against.

But I digress.

Cappuccio’s is a familiar and well-loved place for me. Going there and to the Italian market with my father on weekends was sort of magical.

The ding of the bell on the door and you walk in and there was sawdust on the floor and sometimes sides of meat hanging from a hook in the window. I would sit on a barrel next to one of the front windows and watch everyone get waited on. The counters were wide and clean, knives in holders in between the counter sections.

Sometimes old Domenico would talk to me half in Italian and half in English. He had glasses with big black rims and a very sweet smile. Sometimes his daughter Antoinette who married Harry Crimi (who was close to my father’s age) would let me come back behind the sales floor.

My father and Harry would patter back and forth in English and Italian about whatever daddy was buying. I loved going there. I would watch as Harry would sharpen a knife to cut whatever we were buying. And then each item would get wrapped in butcher paper, marked, and placed in paper sacks, or a box depending on the size of the order.

As I grew up, I watched Harry’s son Domenick , who is about my age and whom I know as an adult, come up in the business. Now he runs the store!

A few weeks ago I got to thinking about the Italian sausage we used to buy there. My great aunts, grandparents, and my parents all made sauce (or gravy) with it. It is the best sausage you have ever tasted made the old school way with fennel.

I also started thinking about the other cuts of pork, beef, and lamb we used to get from Cappuccio’s. So I contacted Domenick and asked him if I could get an order – but it would have to be shipped or delivery because 9th Street is just a wee bit out of the way living in Chester County.

So Domenick said for me if I was willing to pay a delivery fee, he’d deliver.

My order got delivered a little while ago. All neatly and perfectly wrapped in brown butcher paper and bags with wire-tied tags with my name on it. Just like when I was a kid!

It sounds silly to some I am sure but this? This makes me happy. A piece of 9th Street in my freezer. And Domenick even bought me a bag of lamb neck bones- the best secret ingredient of any Sunday Pasta Sauce!

I mean no disrespect to my lovely local butcher, Worrell’s, but Cappuccio’s and me? We’ve got history! So I am going to be splitting my love going forward.

Cappuccio’s is an amazing old school artisanal butcher shop. They have been doing it the same way since 1920. Give them a try, and if you live closer to them then I do, go visit!

Cappuccio’s updates their Facebook page often. Seriously? Visit them, try their meats. You’ll be glad you did 😊

We had fresh grilled sausage for dinner. It was just as awesome as I remember it.

meeting decorum of elected officials

Radnor Township is NOT in Chester County. But I am venturing there this morning because of behavior of a sitting elected official at a public meeting last night. It was wholly unacceptable. (If you have FiOs you can catch Radnor’s meetings on Channel 30 FYI.)

When an elected official goes from serving the public to being a consistent self-serving obstructionist, they really should resign.

I actually used to honestly respect this elected official. He was for many years a crusader for right.  But then it seems he began to believe his own press releases or something? His wife sits on the school board. That has also always given me pause when certain issues have come before the board, and isn’t that also understandable?

Someone on social media remarked last evening after the latest tirade/outburst that they were channeling their inner Yosemite Sam. That’s not who we want representing us in office even on the most local of levels anywhere. The behavior was bad enough last evening, that the board actually took a five minute recess so everyone could regain their composure.

One of the temper tantrum’s last night was over who the Public Information Officer reports to. Everyone knows that public information officer’s report to the township, and the Township manager. They don’t report to elected officials because they are neutral and all they must always fairly disseminate information to the public.

I’m also writing this post because Radnor Township after having a disastrous manager they fired was lucky to hire a man named Bob Zienkowski. He is one of the finest township managers I have ever seen. I actually think so highly of this gentleman that years ago before the current township secretary had her job, I interviewed for the job. The current township secretary actually got chosen over me as a candidate, and in retrospect life worked out just the way it was supposed to. She is also excellent at her job. And given the way Radnor Township has deteriorated and the crazy hours the meetings go to, I am VERY glad life chose differently for me in the end. I can’t sit through these meetings anymore… anywhere.

But last night I saw this one commissioner in particular be condescending, rude, and generally hateful and disrespectful to the Township Manager. With LOUD and SHOUTING OUTBURSTS.

If you watch the township meeting on YouTube you can see the meltdown beginning at the 14:59 minute mark. It goes to about 24:17. Mind you it’s not the first obstructionist disruption of the evening on the part of this commissioner. It’s not the first meeting this behavior has occurred, either. The Radnor meetings now have the reputation of being the most awful around again and with good reason.

I am sure this commissioner will have a problem with this post. But as a lover and defender of the First Amendment, surely he must realize I have a right to express my opinion, correct?

Commissioner Richard Booker, this post is for you. Suffice it to say, Radnor residents deserve better.  Hard working township staff deserves better. Your fellow commissioners deserve better.  At a minimum you should apologize publicly to all of the other commissioners and township staff. However, you also might wish to consider resigning or retiring as you seem to have lost your objectivity completely. Last night’s behavior shows you appear to be a really unhappy human being and why do you wish to project that upon residents, fellow commissioners, and Radnor Township staff? Is that really fair? Is that really the best use of public meeting time?

And yes, Commissioner Booker, the First Amendment does allow me my opinion. You are an elected official who among other things was hired to uphold the public trust and can you honestly say you are doing that at this point? And do you really work for Sunoco Logistics like it says on your LinkedIn page and elsewhere?

And my last word is elected officials everywhere demand proper decorum of residents at meetings.  Well shouldn’t residents be able to expect that of elected officials?