My Glamorous Life: Lucy Ricardo, C’est Moi

TRYING A NEW breakfast place. I tell the cashier, “Extra crispy bacon.”

“Extra bacon,” she says.

“No, not extra bacon. Extra crispy bacon,” I say.

A fast-paced volley of shouted Spanish follows, between the cook, the cashier, and the server. A customer in line behind me chimes in. He is either describing my order to the cashier or telling her about a dream he had involving velvet chickens. I’ve got to learn Spanish.

The cashier turns her green gaze back to me.

“Extra bacon,” she says.

“Um, no,” I say.

No bacon,” she says.

“Yes, bacon,” I say. “Spinach mushroom omelette, bacon — no toast, no potatoes.”

I will never be able to make it up to her, or to the other customers in line behind me. Or to the pig, quite frankly.

“Extra bacon,” she announces.

I say, “Thank you” and leave a tip in the jar.

Accident

CAR JUST HIT ME as I was crossing street. Van carrying old people. Driver didn’t see me. Van struck my head. #


I punched door. Driver and passengers stared at me. Time slowed way down. I gestured for driver to pull over.#

Asked woman on street if I was bleeding. She said no. Told van driver to leave. He got out, walked over, insisted on seeing if I was ok. #

Black man, about 60. Told him I was good, merry Christmas. Shook his hand twice, nearly hugged him. Glad to be alive. #

Two hours later:

In ER with friend, getting checked after accident. #

No concussion, no spinal or brain injury, I’m very lucky. #


P.S. Having some back and arm pain today, nothing unexpected according to what the E.R. doc told me. Overwhelming feeling remains gratitude at being alive, although the feeling is more tempered now, not as giddy as it was immediately following the accident.

My glamorous life: some holiday!

THIS WEEK I will finally sign my divorce papers. It’s like that old Woody Allen joke, “The food here is terrible – and such small portions.” I didn’t want to get divorced, and I’ve been waiting two years to do it. It’s a friendly little divorce that started out as a simple mediated settlement, but we made the mistake of hiring lawyers. The legal bloodletting around the Beatles’ breakup took less time and surely cost less. But here we finally are, about to sign papers that enshrine our daughters’ rights and our rights as parents and put into stark English the courtesies my ex and I would naturally extend each other anyway.

That’s Wednesday, unless it’s Tuesday (my lawyer can’t seem to keep track of which day we’re meeting), and Wednesday also there is a school field trip I chaperone to I don’t remember where, and somehow between the field trip and the review and signing of the divorce papers I hire a team to gut and rewire our new A Space Apart office on Madison Avenue, arrange for two internet services to wire our 19th century building, and order the furniture.

Today I take the kid to school, meet about wireframes for the A List Apart redesign, interview Khoi Vinh for The Big Web Show, meet about a Happy Cog redesign, and run back to school for the kid. Somewhere in there I get a meal. Thursday, blessed relief, I’m in Philadelphia for a holiday party (yay!), and Friday my Dad and his bride arrive.

In short, it is a week like any other.

Since I started my first business with two nickels and a Power Computing Mac clone, I have not had a week that would pass for normal, if normal means manageable. The last predictable week I had was my first week in AA in May of 1993, although that certainly wasn’t usual in that sweating and shivering and coming to God (in other words, quitting drinking) isn’t a normal or even expected event in an alcoholic’s life. But that week did find me in the same room in the same city doing the same thing for five days straight — surely the last time that happened, if you don’t count those four days in Disney World.

I’m a boring guy, but my life has conspired to be interesting. Members of my inner circle who have access to my calendar get ulcers just from looking. And for all that constant change and growth, although somewhat stressed, I am most grateful.

Air Travel As We Know It

My thrice-delayed, once-cancelled flight home has been resurrected and is boarding. No one was ever so happy to be flying coach to Newark.

That’s love.

FOR TWO YEARS, our daughter was bullied in school. The school didn’t notice and our daughter didn’t complain so we didn’t know. Finally a mom saw and told us. After that, things happened quickly. One result is that we changed schools.

During those first two years, our daughter shut down emotionally and psychologically from the moment the bell rang in the morning until school let out at night. Maybe this shutting down was a reaction to the bullying. Maybe there were other causes. What’s certain is that she didn’t learn. She didn’t learn the kindergarten stuff. She didn’t learn the first grade stuff.

The old school noticed the learning problems and provided support programs that helped, but did not close the gap. The school warned us our daughter would probably flunk kindergarten, but in the end they passed her along to first grade. The first grade teacher worried, but in the end passed her on to second grade.

Now she is in a school where they pay attention, in second grade, lacking skills her peers learned in kindergarten.

Catching her up takes hours of extra homework a week. It takes patience and cunning as we work to cool a fear and dislike of learning that’s been baked into her soul for two years. Some days I want to cry. But for her sake I smile.

In which I unwittingly befoul an otherwise fitting tribute to the late, great Mr Jobs

“SHARE YOUR MEMORIES of Steve Jobs” read the email from Faith Korpi, producer of the 5by5 network to which I contribute a podcast. I thought she meant memories of actually interacting with the guy. I had one such experience: Steve fired me from a freelance project. That being my only “memory” of Steve Jobs, I responded to the assignment by telling that story.

5by5 created a beautiful audio tribute to Steve Jobs. The other contributors, who understood the assignment correctly, carefully crafted personal tributes to Steve Jobs and his legacy. Listening to this series of heartfelt recollections, you get a sense of the contribution Steve Jobs made to all our lives. The testimonials of my colleagues make me feel awe, wonder, hope, and terrible sadness.

A little over twenty minutes into this love fest for a giant of our time, my little story comes along and quickly sinks like a stone. I didn’t write it out in advance (no time, I was chaperoning my daughter’s second grade field trip) and I didn’t record it in my pristine podcasting studio (same excuse). The gist of it is, Steve Jobs fired me and another guy from a project before we did a lick of work, paid us anyway, and afterwards, for nearly ten years, Apple hardware and software that worked perfectly well for everyone in the world misbehaved for me — as if the aborted project had left me cursed.

Pathetic.

I admire and marvel at Steve Jobs every bit as much as my better spoken, better prepared colleagues. Not only did he understand that computing is about people, not technology; he also had the will to unapologetically demand perfection from the human beings who worked for him. If I live to be one thousandth the creative director he was, I will tell myself, “Well done.”

Ten Years Ago Today

On 27th Street, a couple is passionately kissing. Behind them, the sky is filled with white smoke.

Everyone has left work. It’s like the Fourth of July. And then again it’s nothing like the Fourth of July.

At 33rd & Lex, a woman in an electric green dress squats down to take a snapshot of the Chrysler Building, standing tall and unaffected to the north. I catch myself thinking they haven’t bombed that one yet.

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: My Glamorous Life #54: 11 September, 2001. 12 September, 2001. 13 September, 2001. As my loved ones and I lived it in New York City.

Clear Blue Sky

A STATE of emergency has been declared, but it’s a magical day in New York City. Any grownup who can do so is playing hooky to bask in the perfect sun and gentle breeze. Death, damage, and flooding are expected. We’re preparing for days, maybe weeks without power or water. Any fool could make a fortune selling flashlights today. But while we go through the motions of buying flashlights and stockpiling bottled water, somehow on this blue-sky golden day the threat seems unreal.

You’re a draftee during wartime and it’s your last night before shipping overseas. You’re on the porch, kissing your girl’s neck, but in 48 hours you’ll be smelling blood and gunpowder. The nearness of war makes your girl feel unreal, but your girl’s hair and perfume make the war seem like some strange practical joke.

So today in New York: a glorious Autumn day we glide through without quite seeing, because our minds are in Hollywood disaster movie mode, our carless bodies weighed down with water bottles and flashlights. It’s like that clear blue sky ten years ago, minutes before Hell flew out of it.