Sunday, October 31, 2010

Life & Death Cycling

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

November 1st

We're not Christians and
My Dad's (z"l) death was not graceful.

That's not what is meant by All Saints Day,
But I'm taking poetic license.

Rather, 28 years ago, having declared
To my mom about his daughters:
"Where are the girls? I'm ready to go,"
He plunged into a coma and rattled his final breath
At 11:20ish pm on November 1st.

My friend Lynn's mom of blessed memory died this week
And I made a shiva call last night.

This morning, the symbolism of Lynn's vivid green blouse
Struck me and made me smile.

Lynn's dad, all in gray, sat like a solid mountain of grief
Friends and family, surrounding his foothills.
What did it mean, my being struck by the attractiveness of Lynn,
Her husband, brothers, son, niece and nephew?
Life pushes through, I guess, and I became alert to all of the life
Left behind by Lynn's mom (z"l), who was gorgeous, too.

Lynn is an artist and so was her mother. Lynn's mother (z"l) left a legacy of

My dad (z"l) left a legacy of...God, it was 28 years ago -- so what's still left,
and what's blisteringly fresh about his passing? My dad (z"l), an industrial designer,
who invented games and toys for a living, left a legacy of

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crazy Cat

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Now What?

I didn't have pets, growing up. I didn't have children. Now, I have both, in the form of two American Tabbies.

And one of them is ill. Mentally.

The vet said we had four options if they didn't behave when we got them home:

  • Put them in his cat-condo for 12 hours and see if they re-bond
  • Give Toonces anti-anxiety medication, squirting it in her mouth daily
  • Keep the cats in separate parts of the house
  • "Adopt out" Toonces.
Minutes after our return, Tooncey's voice became surly and her ears and fur got ready to fight. We didn't let it go further. She's sleeping like an exhausted angel on the couch now. Like nothing is awry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dream-job Dreams

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Note: Writing this made me realize: a) I enjoy many elements of my dream-job today; b) My favorite medium for work is all sorts of media.

Re-posted from My Entry on One HCM Global Community, LinkedIn

"a) an interest or passion that, when you engaged in it, makes you feel as though you are "living more fully than during the rest of life."

My most vivid life includes swimming, writing, laughing, rollerblading to late-70s-80s Disco; incidental and continuous learning; demonstrating my humanity and noticing others'; and being visible in a heroic role while encouraging would-be heroes to be visible. Specifically, I love interviewing heroes on camera; moderating live-event chats; hosting informal learning experiences that I've co-designed; being included in ad campaigns that advertise something I believe in; tweeting; blogging....

"b) a dream assignment, experience or learning program that your organization could craft for you that would cultivate this passion and harness it somehow for your organizations's greater good."

If time and money were immaterial, I would ask to be paid less to do only the dreamy parts of my current job solidly because in it already, I get to do everything I listed above other than the rollerblading and swimming, just not 100% of the time yet.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Journey from David's Bar Mitzvah to Lesbian [Role-]Modeling for IBM

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Reprinted from GLBT IBMers & Friends Community Blog Behind IBM's Firewall

How did I get from the dance-floor of Congregation Agudath Sholom's reception hall to becoming a lesbian "poster-child" for IBM? In response, I considered three photos from 1978, 2002 and 2010:

In the first, the girl towered over the Bar-Mitzvah boy; she was me at 13. The boy's younger sister, now married with kids, just like the boy is, shared the photo with me via Facebook last week. It arrived while I was participating in Out & Equal's Workplace Summit, where IBM won the Workplace Excellence Award. The boy was sweet, but the girl that his twin-brother danced with nearby was a classmate on whom I had a crush.

This past June, in a letter to my younger self, I described how it felt to be attending a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school while being consciously aware of my lesbianism from age 11 onward. Paradoxically, I think that my years at that school were what motivated me to help represent IBM's GLBT Community so visibly; at our 8th grade graduation ceremony, I recall our principal, giving each of us a copy of *Pirkei Avoth* (*Ethics of the Fathers*) and telling us that he knew we would be among the leaders of our communities -- he was referring to Jewish communities, but I think I must have subconsciously taken it as a call to community leadership altogether.

Ten years after realizing my lesbian identity, I came out explicitly to my family and gained community leadership skills while living in Chicago; I volunteered as a GLBTQ youth group advisor and also co-anchored "The 10% Show," which was produced by the Chicago bureau of the Gay Cable Network (which no longer exists, unfortunately). These experiences were tremendously confidence-building, and profound; the youth group enabled me to help youth feel better along the way about who they were, and to speed through some of the same angst I had had, growing up, and the cable TV show taught me that I was part of a rich culture. Till then, I'd really only been taught to see the richness of Jewish culture. It was my gay community experience in Chicago that sewed the seeds for the work I would do at IBM.

Fast-forward to 2002, when Joseph Bertolotti and I (center of the photo) were leading GLBT Business Development, the coolest startup I've been part of so far, and which I'm proud is more global and more successful than ever through Yvette Burton's, Andreas Citak's and Tony Tenicela's leadership today. This 2002 ad was U.S.-centric by design, as it ran only in U.S.-based GLBT magazines, e.g., "OUT" and "The Advocate." My rabbi, openly lesbian herself, and leading the world's largest congregation of GLBT Jews and our friends, held up a copy of the ad from the pulpit when it first came out and celebrated that it featured one of her congregants. This was the same period when I was trying to conceive a child through IUI and an anonymous donor; unfortunately, I did not succeed. The other Sarah, in the foreground, gave birth to a girl some months later -- she's visibly pregnant in the photo -- and Rahel, between the Sarah's, gave birth to twin-girls. Ultimately, Rahel left IBM because she was part of GBS and did not want to travel so much with young children; she took a job at a financial services client, with no travel. And Marcelo on the far-left retired, so time did march on.

By 2004, I had moved from the GLBT business development role to what would become IBM's Center for Learning and Development, and was facilitating leadership development programs for our first-line leaders and emerging leaders, and then for new execs and our leader of India/South Asia and his direct reports. Six years later, I look at myself and see someone, who is as spirited as my 13-year-old self, who's happily paired with a Jewish woman for the past 18+ years, and who's dedicated to mentoring colleagues in their leadership development; I see someone who should make my principal proud.

Finally, by 2010, we launched a new campaign and when Andreas invited people from the New York area (which is where our ad agency is) to be photographed for the ad, I made sure to participate. I was talking with some new friends at Out & Equal, being self-effacing about my choice to model again for a GLBT-specific campaign; "Oh, it's only because I live in the NY-area, and maybe I like attention and..." but one of the friends challenged my vanity-explanation. She made me admit aloud that no, it's not only attention-seeking that drives me to pose for our ads; it really is a wish to raise our community's visibility. And I guess my rabbi, if not my principal in his Orthodoxy, recognized the act as a form of community leadership.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Crash

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Bon Vie & Mr. Lonely

Too many beautiful women, too little exercise, too much humanity, not enough. My finger-nails need attention; sleep is calling. So is packing.

Missing Chely Wright 'cause I didn't plan it right. I'll be boarding my plane as she stands before everyone else at the convention center.

Logo'ed lanyards, free lip-balm as a promo, if only I'd known and not bought it from the hotel gift-shop.

New friend, who's fluent in Thai....I experimented today and wore a tie; got everything from, "You look beautiful," to "Hi, Gorgeous! Are you turning transgender?"

Should have responded, "Aren't we all?" Instead: "Who knows, and if I can't wear this here, where can I?"

Learned the most about myself when opting to enter the gender-neutral bathroom for the first time at the conference and being reminded of the first time I entered a lesbian bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Who saw me?

Only this time, do they think I'm trans? Instant shame about worrying what they thought.

Such a contrast to the Facebook note I received earlier tonight from the little sister of a junior-high-school classmate, David. She posted a photo of me, dancing with David at his twin brother's and his bar mitzvah.

Really was hoping to dance tonight with my people. Shake off that struggling new teenage self -- and also, embrace the essential sweetness of who I was then.

Instead, ended the night, feeling desirous and thwarted and ashamed and sad and wistful and unfinished and off-kilter and not powerful like I did during the day, when I wore my dad's (z"l) tie.

Who wants to go for a drink? Not me. I wanted to go dancing.

Only, I wanted it to be like it was in Austin -- dancing right outside the banquet hall -- no special effort required. And then there wasn't convenient dancing, and it was anti-climactic, big-time.

I am touch-starved and can't wait to pet Pat and the kitties. I'm very lonesome.

Played Bobby Vinton's "Mister Lonely" on YouTube, and then to get in a better mood, T.S. Monk, Jr.'s "Bon Vie." What a marvelous song!

Why can't I recapture the pretty pure joy I felt, listening to that song when I was 15? God, please let me get over my essential sense of loneliness. Now, I'm listening to "Sarah, Sarah," by Jonathan Butler. This is pure self-absorption. So what?

I'm really nostalgic for who I didn't become. Met people at this conference who were involved with a woman with whom I was involved 15 years prior. Met a researcher, who recognized the name of the only boyfriend I ever had. They research similar cancer-things. Another former administrator from his school, who knew him, too. Now, she's an IBM colleague.

The world really is strangely connected. Women flirted with me when I wore the tie today. I wish I could feel that powerful all the time.

The world responds to me and I love it and have a hard time, taking it in.

If only I could just feel peaceful. I don't want to want so much.