Pop Tart Psychology

Posted: January 23rd, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Career Confusion, Husbandry, Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate | No Comments »

A few years ago when we were in Connecticut visiting Mark’s sister and hubby they had Pop Tarts in the house, and in the course of the visit we had them for brekkie. So when we got home Mark got some at the grocery store–two packs since they were a BOGO item, i.e. “Buy One Get One” free. (This is what you learn from having a grocery store client for as long as I have.) I lamented that we shouldn’t eat those. They were a special “when we were at someone else’s house or up in Tahoe” treat. (For some reason when you go to Tahoe you’re allowed to eat like a 12-year-old latch child.) Then I polished off both boxes before I think Mark even got one.

We went for a spell without getting them. I put my (much fatter) foot down and managed to convince Mark that cinnamon toast was just as sugary.

Well I looked in the cupboard a couple days ago and what do I see but two gargantuan boxes of Pop Tarts. Brown sugar–not even my flavor. I prefer blueberry. Though that didn’t stop me from snarfing them up in the past, nor did it this time.

And so I’m sitting here with a cup of Earl Grey decaf and now my second Pop Tart and thinking this gastronomic decline just makes perfect sense right now. Everything else in my world seems to be coming a bit more unglued than I’d like–though I did check in with Mark recently to see if I was just being dramatic and/or hormonal. He kinda didn’t answer….

Yesterday morning we finally had our pitch. A response to an RFP to keep an existing client. Their bean counters (I assume) have all vendors bid or re-bid as it were for the work every several years to make sure they’re getting the most bang for their buck. And while I don’t blame them, bidding to keep work you already have is the worst. Losing hurts more than losing to a client you never had. And winning really just gets you back to where you were before you devoted weeks of stress, extra work, and new gray hairs to it all.

That said, pitching at a publishing company does beat pitching at an agency. I mean, this wasn’t a 25-person roller coaster ride from hell that involved experts pulled in from offices in other time zones and executives who two days before the pitch determine all the work that’s been done is in the totally wrong direction, and ‘y’all should probably execute against this strategy now.’

Weirdly, I was the exec in this pitch. Not that I haven’t been a Big Girl on these things in the past, but at least then I was one in a team. And now it’s just kinda me and other people who don’t seem to have tons of experience pitching who intermittently seem to get it, then suddenly do something leaving me fretting that they don’t get it at all.

Self-imposed stress can be the worst of it all. As long as someone else more senior than you tells you what you’re doing sucks, you’re confident in that assessment. But when it’s you telling you, you can’t help but wonder if maybe what you’ve been slaving over is really okay, or even kinda good, and you’re just being hard on yourself. Then, moments later, you are utterly convinced of its suckingness.

At any rate, there were no endlessly long late nights. Nor excessive weekends of work. But my brain was totally co-opted by thoughts of this so even Kate Time occasionally felt slightly tainted by work thoughts. Which is not The Plan. The Plan is to have the job that I do when I do it and not obsess over it and have it affect my sleep, and make me snap at the people working with me since I wish they had more experience pitching, and decide to go into the office on my work-from-home day, so not be able to drive Kate and the nanny to Gymboree and then feel guilty that my work is seeping into places that are not in The Plan.

For all this I had to be in LA overnight. Kate did a great job of making me feel even worse about it all by getting a cold and being especially sad and Mommy-clingy. And it was all about me just getting home after the pitch and then I’d have the rest of the week and weekend with her, but my bag got lost and I ended up sitting in the airport fuming and waiting for the next plane to land. An hour spent waiting for your bag to turn up sucks in any scenario, but one in which you are desperate to get back to the baby you’ve been fearing you’re been short-shrifting, makes it intolerable.

At one point, with only 20 more minutes to wait, I considered getting in my car and driving home to see Kate, and just getting the bag another day.

Of course, while waiting I had umpteen work calls and several of them indicated I might need to do some work the next day (my day off). This sent me into the stress stratosphere.

Thankfully by Friday morning it became apparent that the meeting I thought I might need to have wasn’t going to happen. I might get my day off after all. And the clouds–like those white fluffy ones in the opening sequence of The Simpsons–seemed to part and some rays of sun made their way down to me and my self pity. I resolved that next week I’d take my work-from-home day from home, and to take my day off off.

And if that wasn’t good enough, when I did check work email later that day (despite my best intentions—clearly I am part of the problem), I discovered that something I’d been working on for weeks that had been caught up in corporate red tape had suddenly slipped past the goalie and my mission was accomplished. It was one of those things that I was resolved to get up my dukes over and suddenly and anti-climactically the problem vanished. Poof!

It’s so weird when you are in a mental groove and then you’re spit out the other end of it. It was like my psyche was still crunched up in a grumpy stress ball and was having trouble shaking it off and going to the light.

I can have work-life balance. I can spend time with Kate and Mark and still have a satisfying career. I’d still be getting this new crop of gray hair even if I was home being fed peeled grapes. If I keep chanting it, it will all be true, right?

Perhaps I’m approaching the recent appearance of Pop Tarts with the totally wrong attitude. Maybe I should behold them as a celebratory indulgence that’s suddenly there for the takin’, not the specter of poor nutrition that’s symptomatic of temporary poor life management.

Either way, they sure do toast up nice.

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