April 23, 2013
Ever since I moved to Atlanta (almost 13 years ago), Stacy has lived here, having moved herself just the year before. We met the first summer I arrived and have been dear friends ever since. There are so many reasons we were destined to meet (out of all the apartment complexes in the city, her older brother and I lived in the same one in neighboring buildings, we both worked for different divisions of the same company), but we met through a mutual friend, my one friend I had when I moved here that I’d known since high school, who also knew Stacy’s aunt.
We met when I was single, still had a dad alive, worked at an entry-level position at CNN, lived in an awful apartment outside the perimeter; she also single, a junior-level publicist at Cartoon Network, living with a roommate, driving a Toyota Corolla. And now here we sit—me, with my own company, a house, a husband, dog, and baby. Her, with her longtime boyfriend, Sean, making it as far up the company ladder at Turner as one could ever possibly hope (it doesn’t hurt that she’s a marketing genius), living in a loft in the heart of the city.
Up until last week that had been the case for as long as I can remember, our lives existing this way. Talking over AIM almost daily, meeting up almost weekly for drinks, a walk, or dinner. Yesterday, she started a job in NYC and she and Sean moved over the weekend. My avoiding going out for that last drink didn’t change the fact that they left. My, being busy on the computer when Sean came by with a truck to collect the furniture out of our attic we’ve been storing for them didn’t stop them from getting on that plane. They still signed the lease on the apartment in Chelsea even though I am struggling to process what it fully means to live in this city without them here, and that I can’t drive by their old apartment without crying.
Honestly, Stacy is the best friend I’ve ever had in my lifetime, more like a sister than a friend. From tennis partners, to yoga buds, to pedicures, dinner parties, concerts, conversations ranging from gossiping about our hairstylist to strategic career moves, and just about anything else close girlfriends can share – you name it, we’ve discussed it (at length, often over wine).
Things seem fleeting right now with them moving. Like time has passed and various people we love have all come and gone through this city. I don’t know what that really means for us, and I don’t need to think about it right now. All I can think about is that they aren’t here, but I’m trying to be positive and accept this change, because it’s very selfish of me to think otherwise. What I haven’t said is that it is an incredible move for them. Great job, great city, all the right reasons in the world to leave. Things will change, for certain. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, this change. For right now though, I can’t see that, I just know it’s really, really hard.
Stacy’s brother Scott (who himself moved from Atlanta to NYC about four years ago), Dan, and I used to joke when Stacy and Sean got together that they could be in their own little world that we all called Steanville, sort of our own little Brangelina couple of the group. Like, Oh, Steanville won’t be joining us tonight because they are watching the Wire all weekend. And now, instead of Seacrest, out (a reference we’d all get because we’ve worked in TV) it’s Steanville, out.
you might also like...
April 9, 2013
It’s so very hard to capture the essence of family in an image. I’ve always loved this photo of Dan, Otis, and I. It was our holiday card from 2011, and I think I’ve always liked it because essentially it’s just us hanging out at home. Granted we’re posed, but it felt very natural, Dan and I laughing on the porch swing, Otis with favorite toy duck, Draper.
It helps when you’re married to someone who takes remarkably good photos, and that was one Dan took. That might be the reason why we rarely get professional shots taken. I just feel like they aren’t us. Even our wedding photos (which for most people are very posed shots) were done by a very good friend who captured the day more documentary-style than traditional.
But, once I had Margaret it made me want to document things beyond the digital world we live in. So, we jumped at the chance to have my friend Becky take photos of our family. She recently launched her portrait business, 2 Be Photography (she shoots everything from newborns to wedding day) and she captured us perfectly. Somehow, despite my usual kicking-and-screaming about posed photos, Becky made it really fun, even with a hangry (hungry + angry) baby who missed a nap, and a show-off Lab. Plus, she managed to make our house and backyard look really lovely.
I cannot wait to place some of these babies under some cellophane in an actual album for Margaret to sift through, one day, just like I did as a child. I particularly like the ones of sweet Margaret solo, and also, the last image at the end of this piece. It reminds me of those old Ralph Lauren ads — so Americana.
you might also like...
April 2, 2013
The movie The Family Stone gets me bawling each time I watch it. I think it’s because my family could be the Stones. The first time I saw the movie, my sister Susan was pregnant with her first child, her daughter Marian, and my mom was just recovering from her first fight against non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The three of us watched that movie in the dark theater, my sister pacing the aisles, totally uncomfortable, just days before Marian’s arrival, my mother and I sobbing when the dad crawls in bed with the mom and they discuss her illness. Dan and I watch the movie every year at the holidays and this past Christmas we watched it at mom’s house with her and my twin sister, Ann.
All of us decided the reason why we like the Stones so much is that every single one of us kids are one of those characters. Susan is Amy, the sister who grills outsiders. Ann is Ben, the San Fran kid who undoubtedly will miss a flight, but is also the absolute most fun. My brother, David, is Everett to a tee, trying very hard to please everyone involved. And, I, we decided, waffle between Susannah and Thad, the emotional voice of reason.
Whew, that’s a lot to live up to.
Image: © 2005 Twentieth Century Fox
you might also like...
March 12, 2013
I try to be as honest as possible in this space, while remaining optimistic. There’s enough gloom in the world without another blogger being all woe-is-me about life. I mean, I’m still reeling from this 60 Minutes segment on Clay Hunt a couple Sundays ago. Talk about a tearjerker. I’m not Woody Allen in my everyday life—I tend to be a pretty glass half-full, let’s make lemonade, kind of girl. Each and every one of us has our own story with some chapters having more ups than downs, and those are the ones you want to reread.
But, here it is…This. Is. Hard. This being the adjustment I’m currently experiencing as a working parent. Make no mistake, Margaret was very wanted, and we went to great lengths to have her, so this isn’t about my love for my daughter, or how much my life has changed since she arrived. I love her more than words could ever fully do the topic justice. Most of the time is, in fact, playing and taking adorable Instagram photos, reading, and walks in the park. Don’t get me wrong, it is work, raising our daughter. But, here’s where it gets very tricky—it’s not the same as the work I’ve been doing since I was a kid. This is a very different kind of thing altogether. I’ve always had a job. Whether it was helping my parents work on the building that would eventually become our home, to later helping them in their property management company, or lifeguarding; I’ve held a steady job since I was 15.
The topic of work/life balance is timeless and several women are making the subject a full-on debate, like Sheryl Sandberg with her Lean In approach, or Marissa Mayer and Anne-Marie Slaugher’s black and white takes. For me, it’s not as much about the balance (I feel like I’m doing a fairly decent job at being a writer while simultaneously mothering Margaret) as much as what’s next? Where do I go from here?
I launched danapop in 2008, and in addition to this site, I’ve spent the past five years building a writing career of freelance jobs with everything from crafting magazine features to serving corporate clients to ghostwriting book chapters. I spent years fostering relationships with editors at national magazines, putting me on the map as an Atlanta-based freelancer. I felt like I’d done a great job setting my career on a path that would be (dare I say it?) easy once a baby came along.
Back when Margaret was in my belly (as she is in both of these photos), I was at the top of my game, I knew it, and was so very grateful for it. I had a steady, long-term contract position with MSN as their Atlanta contributor for a really great portal called Postbox. Hands down, the best group of folks I’ve ever worked with, and the job itself challenged me as a writer, making it one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. Then, MSN decided to give Postbox an Internet burial in September 2012. I took the lack of a contract as a sign to slow down and focus on getting ready for my next role—mother. There was a lot to do, but it was much different than my writing deadlines, which I was much more comfortable with. Between home renovations, prenatal appointments, shopping for baby items, and wrapping up several writing projects, I was plenty busy.
I didn’t really think about it then, but I’ve always had the next job lined up. Before MSN, I was the Atlanta editor of the über-popular, DailyCandy. I seamlessly transition from one position to another, but for the first time in five years, I don’t have a steady writing position that provides me enough of a stipend to help contribute to us financially. When I left CNN back in 2005 I was a bit lost as to what the next step in my career would be, and I slowly started to figure it all out. The difference then was that I knew I wanted to write, and I didn’t care where. Now, none of it makes much sense. Do I want to work full-time? (How could I possibly leave her?!) Do I want to continue to freelance? (It’s incredibly hard to stay in the loop between baby demands, but not impossible.) Do I want to continue working from home? (I cannot imagine going to an office 9-5, but the compartmentalization might help.) I’m not sure what I want anymore, and that’s scary to me, this unknown space.
For now, I’m trying to just be. If nothing else in her short life, Margaret has taught me to step back and understand that not all things require our time immediately. What I mean is she requires that, but nothing else really does. I love my baby, dearly. I love being her mother. It’s just I don’t recognize anything familiar in this role. So, writing for me is as much familiarity as it is my calling in life—because I happen to love what I do.
I feel like I’m growing along with Margaret, as she hit four months last week; the milestone is supposed to be cutting teeth. She’ll be gaining a bit of independence with those teeth, with her diet changing soon and developing tastes that are no longer provided only through what I’m eating. That means she’s fussy and a drooling machine, neither of which are quite as cute as those little rabbit teeth she’ll soon get. So, perhaps we’re all in this infancy thing together. I’m trying to figure out what’s next in my career, while she’s developing and reaching milestones on her own. I suppose I’m cutting my own teeth, making me fussy, temperamental, and trying to figure it all out right alongside her.
you might also like...
February 12, 2013
It’s interesting the things you find after someone is long gone. Revisiting that box of letters from an old boyfriend tucked inside a childhood bedroom closet at your parents’ house is like visiting another life. Your teenage self, falling in and out of love.
Mine is a more permanent lost and found. It’s deeper than the nostalgic first love–it’s the loss of a parent, and that feeling of the missing never quite goes away. They say losing a parent, no matter if you’re 14, 24, or 64, it changes you significantly and in ways you cannot imagine. You’re forced to grow up and deal with something those around you aren’t quite equipped to understand (unless they’ve been through it themselves).
Every so often I’ll stumble on a couple of things from my father that will stop me dead in my tracks. Above all, it is his inscription on two reference books I use often for work (yes, sometimes, I actually use books in lieu of Google). One is a soft cover, torn from age and use, military issue word division style manual published in 1984. The inscription reads (in his very recognizable all caps):
3 APR 1986
I HOPE THIS BOOK HELPS, IN SOME SMALL WAY, YOU ACHIVE YOUR DREAMS IN SPACE.
That was my astronaut phase. Before I realized I was incredibly claustrophobic and needed solid math skill set to do anything pertaining to the sciences.
The other, the hard back Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Tenth Edition Dictionary given to me as a stocking stuffer that couldn’t quite fit in the stocking one Christmas.
Inside it has Presented to, By, and Date printed by the book manufacture all ready for someone gifting to fill out, which my father did.
Presented to MY LOVELY DANA
MAY THE WORDS AND THE TRUTH ALWAYS COME EASY FOR YOU. YOUR SUCCESS INSPIRES ME!! LOVE, FOREVER DRH
By HER FATHER
Date DECEMBER 25, 1994
Because of this, I always try to take my time when filling out cards or book inscriptions. You never know if these might be the last words someone is left with that they’ll reread over and over again.