Have you ever woken up one day and realized that you hadn’t seen any friends in a long time? I can be one of those people who can easily stay inside the house for a few days without getting cabin fever. The girls can do this too. We’ve spent whole weekends inside just putzing around the house. Maybe we’re homebodies. Or hermits. Or maybe we’re just too absorbed in whatever we’re doing at the time…you know, like drawing complex mazes up mountain tops or really over working to death that design for a client (oh, you want 2 directions for that cover? Well here, let me give you 8). Thank god we live across the street from a playground and have friendly neighbors or we might never get out (just kidding). It’s funny when I think back to when the girls were babies because I was so much more diligent about getting out every single day, going to bookstores, taking walks with the stroller, going to playgrounds and playdates. I mean, they were babies; they probably didn’t care where they were, but I suppose those kinds of scheduled activities are more for the parents to maybe save your sanity and cobble together some semblance of anything that resembles a social life. But now, that sort of pressure to go out every single day is gone. We like being at home.
I realized today that this has been a really non-social summer so far since school’s been out. Other than hanging out with Anna twice, a few playdates for the girls, and one backyard party, I haven’t really seen many other friends at all other than some run ins with the neighbors or at camp drop off. No outdoor summer roof parties, no drinks on a breezy summer evening, no dinner at restaurants or a girls night out. Pretty sad. Or is it?
One of the positives of getting older is just being comfortable with who you’ve become. No pressure, no judgement. It’s not about being anti-social or boring or introverted. It’s about settling into yourself and acknowledging that it’s okay to want to spend time alone, even if it’s a lot of time alone (also, when you’re a parent, you’re never really alone, are you?). I don’t need to go out constantly to feel secure in my friendships. I know that they are there. It hasn’t always been this way and maybe this just comes with time or age. Or maybe we leave some of the bullshit dramas of some friendships behind as we get older. It’s a great feeling to be able to reach out to people when I’m ready to hang out with a friend and know that we can make it happen.
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This is what happens when you get all the talented food peeps from our commercial kitchen together on a Monday night. That’s like practically a quarter of Brooklyn’s small food businesses represented right there. With lots of food. And beer.
Mark and I are pretty much the old folks in this young people dominated Brooklyn food movement (or whatever the hell the press wants to call it these days), so we’re one of the only few food company people who have kids. But they’re usually welcome to some parties and it’s really the only way Mark and I can both go out. Besides, at this age the girls seem to just blend right in and make conversation with just about anyone and the childless young folk seem amused by them. It’s rather interesting, actually, to see just how comfortable they are hanging with big folks and holding their own.
By the way, is it just me or is it getting harder to motivate yourself to get out to parties? I’m not talking about dinner with friends, or a soiree like this potluck necessarily, but just parties in general, particularly industry parties and networking events. Can’t believe my friends and I would go out almost every night when we were college, even grad school. It really is for the young – and I concede. Just give me my heating pad and the couch any night…
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Do you know about my friend Nichole‘s book, Paris in Color yet? Yes, her Paris photos from her blog and Etsy shop have culminated into this beautiful book. You can find it at various places including your local Anthropologie or Amazon, but this post isn’t really about the book, though you most certainly should check it out. This post is about a friendship (apparently it’s friends week on the blog!)
Nichole was one of the very first people I met online in 2008 through our respective new Etsy shops and on Twitter, who became my friend in real life. Since then, she has become one of my closest friends. It’s common for us to send short emails to each other throughout the day, all day long, to comment on this, vent on that. The point is, she was the very first person who really understood the craziness of my life because it was her life too. In a lot of ways, Nichole and Evan’s life mirrored ours in a way that nobody else I knew did – a completely self employed household, running a small business while working a totally separate freelance career, all while raising 2 kids around the same age. We even freelanced at the same big ad agency 2 years ago for 6 months working as a copywriter/art director team on the same accounts. It was the first experience at an ad agency for either of us and working together made the crazy experience bearable and dare I say it, even a little fun. While we both had beauty product experience that made our work for Aveeno comfortable and familiar, we were tossed into uncharted waters when we were assigned to redesign a site for fungal cream. I remember sitting at the first meeting thinking, “this is so out of my design aesthetic”. HOW THE HELL am I going to do this?! Athlete’s foot? Ringworm?? Jock itch??? The product has A MASCOT? The project had little creative supervision so Nichole and I were left to brainstorm and come up with concepts pretty much on our own. In time, we grew to become fond of the little mascot called digger. He’s totally gross, but when you have to storyboard his movements and write copy in his voice, well…he kind of grows on you. We even spoofed Brady Bunch theme song lyrics and the opening credit graphics late one night because we found the whole thing so amusing. I remember when she emailed me months after we left the agency to tell me that the site went live. We nearly peed in our pants crying because we had forgotten about it and it was so funny to see it out in the world and animated with our words and our art direction. This site is so out of the realm of anything either of us do, copy-wise, design-wise, and content-wise that it’s pretty hilarious. On a more serious note, it did prove to me that I could meet the challenge of designing something kind of ugly, but fitting for the industry that is completely out of my comfort zone (if you look at my outdated portfolio, you can see what I mean).
Aside from our work experiences, Nichole is one of the most generous people I know. She’s shared so many business-related tips, news and strategies with me and isn’t afraid to share what she knows. We’ve talked endless hours about the industry, small business challenges, growing our companies, and everything in between (in fact, she was the one to turn me on to Currently Obsessed, so you can blame Nichole for that). Over the years during our talks, we’ve brainstormed dozens of new business ideas. We haven’t actively pursued any of them as the reality of taking on another venture is a little crazy given our schedules, but it’s been an important part of our relationship. It keeps us thinking creatively, makes us laugh at ourselves, and gives us hope when the stress of work and life become too much. I hope that we’re still brainstorming get-rich-quick schemes together when we’re both old and dreaming of retirement!
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It’s Design Week in NYC, which means a lot of friends are in town! I spent the last 3 days with Lisa, Victoria and Anna, including a girls’ weekend away at Anna and Evan’s beautiful house on the Hudson River – a real slumber party and my first night away from the family in…well, ever. The crazy thing is that it’s my first time meeting Victoria and Lisa, but we’ve been chatting online for awhile and it felt really natural and seamless to hang out in real life. I love when that happens and it’s been happening a lot where my online buddies and the talented people who I’ve admired for awhile are becoming dear friends. We spent the weekend shopping, walking, sitting around, cooking and talking. There was even Manic Panic involved and a way too late viewing of Purple Rain.
This is the first time I have been to Anna’s Newburgh house. See that black Risom Side Chair in the second photo? I saw that chair at the DWR Annex marked down to $99 and was kicking myself the whole car ride home for not buying it (it’s normally, oh, around $600). Of course by pure coincidence Anna takes a trip to the Annex a mere few hours later and snatches the chair up. I thought that was pretty funny when I read that she had scored on that chair. So the chair is nicknamed “Jenna’s chair” and I got to visit it for the first time this weekend. Sigh.
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How was your weekend? It was a very social one for us. On Friday night I had dinner with a few of my talented photographer girlfriends in the East Village and the weekend was packed with day long outings and playdates with the girls, including a trip to New Jersey to visit Nichole and her family.
The photos taken here were from Park Here, an indoor installation in Soho that transforms a 5000 square foot windowless interior into an indoor popup park for the Winter.
I was joking on twitter that socializing is hard work! But I also know that I have a very intense work schedule coming up, so I tend to over-schedule social dates while I can when I have a window of time that is free before I need to crawl back into my hermit cave. I was proud of myself though. I could have worked this weekend and there are certainly plenty of things that I needed to do, but I didn’t. I took a true weekend off. No work, just play.
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There was once a time, years ago, when it seemed like all my friends were boys. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but there is also nothing like hanging out with a girl friend or a small group of ladies that you feel totally comfortable with. I remember desperately missing that in my life and wondering if I would ever have those “best friend” relationships that meant the whole world when I was a kid. Hearing Mia list all her best friends reinforces that feeling that we really do crave and need those kinds of companionship, even at an early age – but it isn’t always easy to find now, is it?
When Mia was a baby, I found a group of new mom friends in the neighborhood who I’d meet with every week. It was rather easy to meet other new parents here even if you weren’t particularly outgoing or good at reaching out to strangers. I don’t know if you ever forget your first mom friends. The first year or so of having your first baby is a big bonding experience. Even if you don’t have anything else in common, you have this, and being new parents is a big enough commonality that it can trump anything else. I don’t want to say that I had a friend “type” in my pre-baby years, but I did, only because common interests bring people together to the same places, whether it’s at school, a job, or a community of like-minded people. So when I started meeting people outside of the artist/designer/musician/chef/computer geek types – people who were lawyers and bankers and who had other corporate type jobs – it was sort of a novel thing as far as friendships go.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I’ve been marveling at how rich my friendships have become in the last 2 or so years. For many years it was all about being friends with other neighborhood parents. It was just easier to socialize this way and in many cases, the only way to socialize. It was great and fun and one of my fondest memories of being a new parent. These friendships shaped the way that I approached parenthood and they meant the world to me. But I’ve recently realized that many of those friendships have naturally drifted. I’m a totally sappy person and I would never want to admit this, but I guess sometimes friendships just run their course. Maybe we’ve moved on.
These days I have made most of my friendships online. It is both totally strange if you think about it, but totally amazing. I feel lucky enough to live in a city where many people will breeze through on various business and visits, so that these online friendships become real life friendships too. I’ve also gravitated towards people with the same interests again. Now that I’m a parent of school age kids, I don’t feel like my conversations need to center around my children and in fact when I am out with friends, I don’t necessarily want to talk about my kids. Many of my newer friends aren’t even parents!
I’m in love with all the friendships I have made over the past 2 years, many of which I’ve written about on this blog. To go out at night with ladies like Anna, Jen and Tamera, to plan these get togethers even though Jen and Tamera don’t even live in NY, to wander around the East Village on a Saturday night from one place to the next, and to sit around and talk about lady things. To feel a bit like my own person, not someone’s mom, for a long evening.
But when I get back home, I get back home to this. The girls never fail to leave me a good night note to place on top of my computer. Love. I finally feel like I’ve achieved some kind of balance in my life.
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