Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Favorite/Not-So-Favorite Restaurants in 2012

As I mentioned in my "Cooking Corner" introduction, food (cooking it, eating it, going out to eat) is one of my biggest passions.  Trying new restaurants is my favorite way to spend a night out, and it's made so easy in a food-lover's city like Chicago.  I thought it would be fun to recap my favorite and not-so-favorite restaurant experiences of 2012.  By the way, I'm a foodie, but not a food-snob.  Looking at this list, 2012 seems to have been a bit of a fancy year, but rest assured we were also frequenting Franks 'n Dawgs and Flub a Dub Chubs...they just weren't "new" to me in 2012 and thus didn't make the list :)

BEST (in no particular order)

- Goosefoot:  It's teeny, situated in a bit of ghetto stretch of Lincoln Square, and we had to make reservations 3 months ahead of time (and even then could only get a 9pm on a Tuesday).  But the food was spectacular.  9 courses of straightforward, modern food with a French twist.  This place is no frills, it's a small space with little flair, and the food is served with zero pretension.  Most memorable to me were the soups and the beef dish, though the menu changes all the time.  The chef is Chris Nugent and we spoke to him for a while after the meal.  He was so modest and so thankful people were coming to his restaurant (we had to remind him that people weren't only coming, they were waiting 3 months to come).  Best part about this place?  BYOB. 

- Elizabeth:  24 courses.  Yes, that is correct, 24.  Most of any restaurant in Chicago.  (There was another menu choice w/ fewer courses, but, come on, 24!).  This place is another no-frills, "all about the food" type of place and the food is, simply put, flawless.  The food is clean, very much inspired by nature, and the chef Iliana Regan cooks right in front of you as if you were in her home (which, interestingly enough, is what she used to do!).  She came over several times to ask about the food and we were able to tell her what we enjoyed most - I love that.  It's communal seating, and our party of 4 soon felt like a party of 8.  The seafood courses were stand-out.  My only complaints?  Like Next, you have to buy tickets for this place, I'm still a traditionalist in this respect.  Also, it became a 5 hour meal....and with 24 courses with wine pairings, this meant I was black-out drunk by the end of the meal.  Fun, sure.  But don't come here if you have somewhere to be after (or the next day, as it were).  My guess is that's a new-restaurant kink that will get better with time.

- GT Fish & Oyster:  I had heard so much about this place and was excited to try it.  It did not disappoint.  Seafood, small plate style.  Stand-outs were the oysters (but not the shooters, eh), the shrimp bruschetta, oyster slider and fish tacos.  We splurged for the caviar service as well which was really good, but probably won't do it again.  We also tried a white wine that I had never had before, but was spectacular.  Nora Albarino (Albarino is the style).  The vibe is fun, loud, and sceney (it's River North), but not annoyingly River North-y.

- Other two notables of the year were Acadia (South Loop) and Wood (East Lakeview).  Both very solid overall.


- Charlie Trotter's - It's a moot point because Trotter's is gone now, but I was so surprised that I was let down, that I had to note it.  Trotter's has been regarded as one of the best restaurants in Chicago (and the country) for many years and we were able to go right before it closed down.  The food was good, but not memorable.  The ambience was pretty old-fashioned (and not in an endearingly traditional kind of way, just sort of outdated) and I expected nicer service for the level of restaurant that it was.  We did tour the kitchen after, and that was pretty neat, but I wasn't blown away by my meal. 

- Tavernita:  Go for the drinks and the scene, but not necessarily for the food.  The main entrees were better than the small plates.  We went here on our first real post-baby date night and a loud, River North spot may have been a bit much.  But fun place for a group.

- Nellcote:  Beautiful restaurant, disappointing food.  This place is pretty scene-y, as well, and I think is better for pre-dinner cocktails (they had a really interesting drink menu and the space is just visually stunning).  The flatbreads were probably the best thing on the menu. 

- Anteprima:  Everyone always talks about how much they love this place, but I didn't really get it.  Loved the space and the vibe in Andersonville, but thought the meal was just ok.  Also, we had reservations but still had to wait 30+ minutes.  No likey. 

TO TRY IN 2013

I'm excited to try BellyQ, Au Cheval, Acre, RPM Italian, Nightwood, and a host of others in the upcoming year.  We also haven't been to Next, yet (I know, I know, but it's that ticket thing and the inability to decide in 2.3 seconds that we're going out with a baby at home to plan for).  If you have any spots I have to try (or should steer clear from), would love to hear it!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Keeping Up With The Patels

A non-Indian friend of mine joked to me recently that she was going to an Indian couple's party and she knew she was in the right place because her Lexus was the shittiest car in the parking lot.  I laughed it off, but then it got me thinking.   Many first-generation Indians have gotten rather....fancy, right?  The striking engagement rings followed by the lavish 700-person weddings, the expensive cars, the big houses, over-the-top vacations.  It's certainly not the norm for all of my Indian friends and I think it may be more prevalent in certain geographies, but the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) extravagance feels more commonplace now and perhaps - dare I say it - expected?  On one hand, the fact that many first-generation folks can afford the finer things is a wonderful tribute to our parents, all immigrants who worked their butts off to give us a life they did not have.  They seem to have collectively succeeded, as Indian-Americans are wildly overrepresented in most professional categories, and have attained higher levels of education and earn a higher median income than all other ethnic groups in the U.S. (whites and other Asians included) despite making up only about 1% of the population.  But are we setting a standard that strays far from the ideals with which we were raised and, if so, I wonder if people are feeling a certain pressure to reach that new standard.  Are we still trying to keep up with the Joneses?  Or are we now trying to keep up with the Patels?

My parents left India and moved to London in 1968, and then moved to the United States in 1980.  A fairly typical immigrant story, they worked extremely hard to build a life for my sister and me.  Though my family had the means, we didn't buy fancy cars, we didn't wear expensive clothes (though in the 5th grade I got a pair of $60 Girbaud jeans for Christmas that were freakin awesome), and we didn't go on luxurious vacations (we went many places, though.  My dad would come home from work on a Friday and declare we were driving somewhere like Florida - from Texas, mind you - and off we'd go with a cooler full of Indian food and we'd stay in HoJo's (at best) along the way.  Kind of awesome, really).  My mom still, to this day, randomly sends me packages in the mail of groceries that she thinks are cheaper in Texas than in Chicago.  I've gotten things like Pam non-stick spray, lots of Goldfish, boxes of cereal and after I got married we started getting pickles and Reese cups (if you know Adam that makes perfect sense to you).  It's pretty comical, but it's the mentality that allowed them to provide us everything we needed, including giving us a pretty profound (and often unappreciated) sense of security.  I think most of the Indian kids I grew up around in Texas were raised pretty similarly.

When our immigrant parents left India, they didn't have parents to fall back on if they hit a tough patch like many of us have.  They navigated American culture from scratch, with Indian educations and English as a second language.  They came with nothing, yet somehow gave us everything.  How amazing is that?  And now, much to their delight (at least to my parents') their kids can now  maintain nicer lifestyles and can provide even more for their kids than they could.  But what are we doing with that gift?  Are we too interested in show?  Do people in our generation feel pressure to attain a certain amount of wealth/success?  Are we focused enough on paying it forward to society, future generations and back to our parents?  Maybe it's more prevalent in certain cities, and maybe it's not unique to the Indian-American community?  I am curious to hear others' takes. 

My husband and I work hard so we can enjoy a great lifestyle, but I try not to feel too bogged down by external pressures to do so.  Even so, there are times where I will catch myself thinking so-and-so is doing xyz, maybe we should be too.  Often it is in the context of wanting the best for our son.  But I have to remind myself that we have to always do what we think is best for our family, regardless of what others are doing.  And if we ever needed to scale back because we weren't happy anymore, I think (hope) we would without worrying too much about our decline in social status.  After all, we could always take last minute road trips and stay in HoJos.  Sounds pretty good to me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

[Cooking Corner]: The Power of Soup

In the fall/winter, I go into soup/stew mode.  They are easy, nutritious, feel good on a cold day, and great for kids if you've got 'em.  And they are relatively quick to prepare and make for great leftovers, which is imperative for those of us who have little time to spend on menu planning due to work/kids/life/all of above.  I've been making stews for years, but I've very recently discovered the MAGIC of bisque.  Seriously, magic, especially if you have kids.  See below..

I use a crock pot for soups and stews.  I throw everything in before work in the morning (takes about 30 mins) and then it's done when I get home.  You can also use a pot if you don't have a crock, but youll have to monitor it so your time commitment is longer.  Crock pots are amazing, just buy one :)

What I throw in the crock pot (and in this order):

- Veggies:  Anything.  Use whatever you have left lying around at the end of a grocery cycle.  Onions, carrots, celery, leeks, tomatoes (canned or fresh), greens (like kale, mustard etc), corn, anything will work here.  Just aim for 2-3 unless you have time for more, and you don't need a ton of each.  *TIP*:  Buy pre-diced veggies.  This saves a ton of prep time.  I also sometimes dice earlier in the week, or have my nanny do that so so I can just throw the veggies in in the morning.

-Starch:  Potatotes or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced.  Again, you can try to buy pre-diced or dice earlier in week (when I pre-dice I save half for use in a different recipe later on in the week.  The potatoes will get a little brown but who cares).  You can also add in pasta (shells or dumpling type or macaroni are great). 

- Meat:  Beef stew meat (they usually sell it pre-cut up in meat section) or chicken breast/thigh that I dice up.  I've also used pork. Could do extra firm tofu if vegetarian.  *TIP*:  for extra protein/fiber boost, throw in a handful of ground flax seed.  I have been putting flax in everything lately.  You won't taste it.

- Liquid:  If you want a rich stew, just splash a half cup of water on top of the meat and sprinkle a little flour for thickness.  For more a soup, add about 1.75c of water or vegetable/meat broth.

- Spice:  Salt/pepper is enough, but can also do onion powder, garlic powder. 

All day on Low in crock pot, or about an hour in a pot on the stove.  Eat by itself or with crackers, or - especially for kids - pour on top of mashed potatoes, or pasta or rice.  You'll get multiple meals out of this.  Next time you do it, change up the veg/protein choices and you have what feels like a new recipe.

I made butternut squash bisque recently and not only was it a hearty soup for us, I poured it over pasta, threw some cheese in it, and Noah absolutely loved it.  A creamy vegetable bisque over pasta is a great, healthy alternative to mac 'n cheese.  I plan to do the same with carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, etc.  This took about 30 mins.


Throw a chopped onion into a pot with some butter, let it sweat. 
Follow with diced butternut squash (I bought pre-diced) and 1.75c broth (more if you want a thinner soup) and let boil 10-15 mins. 
Throw mixture into a blender/food processor and puree to desired thickness (keep thicker if going to put over pasta). 
Put back into your pot and spice with salt, pepper, nutmeg, ground coriander, thyme.  I also added ground flax.  Heat is on Low now.
Mix in some heavy whipping cream at the end and turn off heat. 
It will thicken fast so eat it quick.

You can add some shredded cheese (especially for your kids), and then pour over pasta or eat plain.  If you eat with pasta, you can add steamed broccoli and/or chicken to it as well.  Do this the next day so it feels like a different meal. 

Happy Souping!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

[Cooking Corner Introduction]: Thank you, Mom!

It's not breaking news to those of you who know me, but I LOVE food.  I love cooking it, I love eating it, I love talking about it, I love all of it.  It's probably not enough to say I am a foodie, instead, it is my true passion.  Cooking for others has always felt like an intimate experience for me.  A way of showing love.  I don't need a psychologist to tell me that this stems from my mother.  I grew up with homemade food everyday.  Feeding her family was (and still is) my mom's ultimate way of nurturing.  She put me on the morning school bus with breakfast in hand, she packed my lunches until I was 17, and cooked a hot meal for dinner every night.  And she did this while also working full-time, and carting me around to the 400 after-school activities I was a part of.  Unbeknowest to me at the time, but very clear to me now, she was just amazing.  [And she still is.  At 31, I still return from every family visit with a backpack full of heaving tupperware]. 

It doesn't hurt that her food is f'n awesome.  I know everyone thinks their mom's cooking is the best, but trust me, hers is out of this world.  Though she grew up in India and is - without a doubt -  a true master of Indian cuisine, she experiments all the time with different genres and ingredients.  I was raised to never be afraid of trying something, to always be open and to appreciate the art of cooking.  It was never preached to me, but I was also raised with the notion that delicious food could be healthy.  Not healthy as in super low-calorie or low-carb or whatever kids today think "healthy" means.  But meals that include "real", nutrient-filled, food.  I rarely ate a meal that didn't include vegetables (many of which were grown in our backyard), but I never really noticed it because it was delicious, and I always had variety.  As utterly naive as this may sound, it didn't occur to me until my mid-20s that most people who were similar to me in means and background didn't grow up with that.  I learned that many of my friends' parents did not cook very often often, or they cooked the same 2-3 dishes over and over again, or the meals they ate were pretty unhealthy.  I always knew my mom's cooking was really good, but I didn't appreciate how good until I left.

Now with my own family, I find myself forging the same bond between food and family.  Though I've been cooking for many years, I am more impassioned about it than ever because I want to instill the same types of food-values in my child as I was given.  Ironically, however, I have far less time to cook than I did pre-baby.   But this means I've been honing the craft of cooking dishes that are relatively quick/low mainteance, but also nutritious and (most importantly!) tasty.  I know many of my friends feel similar about cooking and also have little  time to do it, so I 'm going to share some tips on this blog under the cheesy heading Cooking Corner.  I will forewarn that I am not much of a recipe follower, I subscribe more to the "little bit of this, lotta bit of that" cooking philosophy (again, thanks to mi mama), but hopefully I can help with menu planning and inspire some ideas.

On that note, I'm off to parents' for Thanksgiving to stuff my face for 4 days.  Writing this post makes me realize that I owe my mom a big, fat, THANK YOU while I'm there!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Secret Language

I'm saying a bittersweet goodbye this week.  Goodbye to what feels like an old friend, goodbye to what allowed my child to thrive for his first year of life, goodbye to the decider of when I slept/woke up, what I ate/drank, and whether I could be away from home every single day.  After 13 months, I'm saying goodbye to nursing.  It's actually quite difficult for me to write this post, as saying it aloud means admitting to several baby is no longer a baby (did I appreciate his "babyness" enough? why did it go by so fast?); our special time together is no more (does he need me less now?); after almost 2 years of pregnancy/nursing, I have ownership of my body again (will I feel the same as before? what happens when I no longer have hormones to blame when I act like a crazy person?).  But alas, I am saying it aloud anyway.

I should start with the disclaimer that I am in NO way judgmental of moms who do not or cannot nurse their babies.  It's a personal choice (or a physical impossibility) and the mommy wars fueled by incendiaries like the provocative Time magazine breastfeeding cover and idiot supermodels who liken formula feeding to criminal activity REALLY piss me off.  I don't think I deserve a gold sticker for nursing.  I'm confident that the only reason I was able to do it for so long was because I was lucky enough to have 6.5 months of maternity leave and then a travel-less job where I have my own office and a schedule that allows for regular pumping at work (how many full-time working moms do you know who have nursed for a year or more?  I only know a couple, it's just not easily doable). 

That said, nursing has been one of my greatest joys of motherhood.  It was the first way Noah and I communicated with each other.  A secret language only we could understand.  A profound, symbiotic connection that showed me really early on that I would always put Noah's needs first, but that I also needed to take care of myself in order to take care of him.  I have never felt as physically empowered as I did following pregnancy/birth and throughout nursing.  That doesn't mean it was always easy.  I did every nighttime feeding, I have never slept in later than that first morning cry, Adam and I couldn't do overnight trips or weekends away from Noah (we still haven't done this even though Noah has slept through the night since he was 4.5 months - turns out this one wasn't much of a sacrifice), and I couldn't drink caffeine or alcohol at whim (this one was :)).  I was pretty hormonal/emotional/insane as a breastfeeding mom (I think because of the low estrogen levels) and this sometimes made me want to quit.  Oh, and pumping at work was the worst.  But it was all worth it in the end for me.  There is just nothing quite like it.  My advice to new moms who want to nurse is to not give up on it the first 1-2 months when it can be incredibly exhausting, painful and draining (assuming your baby is growing properly).  Seek encouragement from those who have done it (even my well-meaning mom suggested formula everytime I complained about my colicky/sleepless newborn, ugh!).  Keep the faith that it will get easier, because it does.  But if you decide it's not for you, or aren't producing enough to sustain your child, let yourself off the hook and don't feel guilty about it.  When you make decisions with your child's welfare and your own welfare as your top priorities, without worrying about what someone else will think or what society says you "should" do, you are always making the right decision. 

And now, as this chapter of Noah's life comes to an end, I am looking forward to all that is to come (like my possibly sleeping in on a Saturday!!).  I know he will soon forget our secret language, but I never will.  As he gets older he will likely share things with his dad that I am not a part of or don't understand, but this...this was ours, and it will always be ours, and I am so grateful to have had the experience with him.  On tough days over the past year I would often remind myself that he would only be a baby once and that one day I would miss it.  And, just like that, it seems like that day has come. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Second Shift

It's 9pm on a Thursday and I'm drinking a glass of wine while rain pitter patters on my windows...sounds lovely, doesn't it?  I can assure you it is not.  The wine is not a treat, it is a necessity.  And the rain, well...I'm pissed off at the rain.  Let's back up a few hours:

I get home from work, send my nanny home, and realize that I forgot to pick up/drop off dry cleaning on my way home...and, oh shit, my husband needs his black suit and he is working late tonight.  No problem, Plan B, I'll take Noah and we'll go pick it up together.  I get downstairs to our car and realize the car seat is upstairs in our condo and disassembled because we cleaned it.  Hmmm, ok...Plan C, I'll stick Noah in the stroller, carry the bag of clothes to drop off, and I'll just walk.  After all, it's a beautiful, strangely 70 degree October night, a 10 min walk will be nice.  About half way there, it starts raining.  Plan D:  Run.  By the time we get to the cleaners, I'm soaked and my bag of clothes is soaked.  Luckily the stroller protected most of Noah, but he is not impressed with his wet pants/socks.  Without many options, I drop off the clothes, pick up Adam's suit and wait 15 minutes for the rain to die down.  Then off we go, into a manageable drizzle.  And then, like a light switch, downpour.  As in, move-away-from your-windows downpour.  Plan E:  SPRINT.  So, there I am, sopping wet, still in the pencil skirt and flats I wore to work, carrying a man's suit, pushing a screaming toddler and literally sprinting as fast as I could through East Lakeview. (Remember the iconic ad image of the 90s supermom holding a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other, with her perfectly blow-dried hair wisping in the wind?  Yea, I didn't look like that.)  We get home, we change, Noah is still wound up so I put on the Gangnam Style music video on for him (don't ask), and -- I take a breath.  We're home, safe, everything is fine.  I wonder what time it is and if Noah needs to eat dinner soon...I look down and realize my watch (an expensive one my husband gave me years ago) has stopped.  Frozen at 6:20, the time I was likely jumping puddles in my alley.  F'n awesome.  What's next?  I get dinner ready (thank GOD we were eating leftovers, I'm pretty sure I'd burn down our condo if I cooked tonight), get Noah washed up, go to put him in his high chair and realize our nanny had (generously) taken it apart to clean it.  I spend a few minutes trying to get it back together, as a starving, impatient child cries for me to hurry up.  Realizing I am about 30 seconds from crying along with him, I just stop.  Plan F:  both of us sit down and eat in the middle of the dining room floor.  Plan F...a big fat F it.

Some people wonder if the concept of "Second Shift" still exists (a term often used to refer to a working mom's second job of taking care of her kids/house/husband when she gets home from work.)  On a night like tonight, I have no doubt.  But tonight (thank God) isn't typical...while always busy, second shift for me involves consistently being with my favorite little person in the world (and often our whole family) in the evenings and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  And even on a night like this, I have to wonder who really drew the short straw...because while Adam is still slaving away on his First Shift, I am now on Plan Wine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Forget the binders!

Buzz phrase of the week?  "Binders full of women."  I admit, it's sexy, it's just the type of meme that grips this country on the eve of an election.  A cute hash tag.  But the focus on such a phrase completely distracts from the responses to, I believe, the only question directly focused on women's issues in either of the two debates.  And it's an important one! That is, in what NEW ways do the nominees intend to rectify the gender pay gap?   I don't think either of them really answered it (surprise).  Do women in this country make less money than men?  Yes, absolutely.  But WHY?  Well one theory is that women are being paid less and promoted less frequently across the board simply because of their gender.  But is this type of systemic discrimination with regard to pay actually occurring today?  Many would say no.  The data tends to show that women in the same jobs as men are now generally being paid the same as their male counterparts.  So, Harry and Sally, both full-time chemical engineers at Company X with similar educational backgrounds and years of experience are making the same salaries.  The OFCCP (an agency dedicated to enforcing equal employment opportunity among companies who do business with the government) has been focused on finding systemic gender pay discrimination for years and has found very little. 

So if systemic discrimination isn't to blame, what explains it?  Well, some would argue that it's because women generally choose lower paying jobs (remember, the "wage gap" figure is just comparing median full-time earnings regardless of specific jobs, so if most women are choosing lower-paying jobs than men, then obviously women will earn less than men as a whole).  Ah, well this is interesting and begs the question...what makes women choose lower-paying jobs?  Are we hard-wired to want to be secretaries instead of executives?  Well F no - women have been paving the way over the past 40 years to create opportunities for us to become executives, doctors, lawyers, politicians.  Clearly, many of us want to have higher-level jobs.  The problem then?  Our pesky f'n ovaries.  Unfortunately, the Lilly Ledbetter Act did not change the fact that women are still the ones who bear children, nurse their babies, and take on the majority of the child-rearing duties.  Working mothers, on average, end up with about two-thirds of the house/child-rearing responsibilities in dual-working-parent families.  So what often happens is that a woman will work her ass off in school and in her career only to hit a point where she is presented with a few choices:  do I continue working 60 hour weeks to move ahead in my career and accept that that means less time raising my children, or do I scale back or even switch careers so I can be more involved with my kids?  Maybe I just wait to have kids, but then will it be too late?  Maybe I should have just chosen an "easier" 9-5 job instead?  These are tough choices, and many women who want the highest-level (and therefore highest paying) jobs out there end up opting to scale back or switch careers to chase the elusive "work-life balance", while taking a pay cut.  Many women do not even have these choices - they are forced to continue to work long hours/multiple jobs in order to feed their families, even if it means not getting an education (and therefore not really advancing) and not giving sufficient attention to their kids (bad for everyone).

Our society does not acknowledge this struggle for working moms and how it affects pay inequality (and a host of other issues).  If it did, then at the forefront would be policies designed to make the workplace more flexible, to allow for paid leave and to not penalize women who (by the nature of those pesky ovaries) ultimately have to take more time off work or be on reduced schedules.  We are able to get the jobs men get (thanks to many women who came before us) and I think we start off being paid to do the same work (thanks to legislation like the Equal Pay Act), but until government/company/society makes it easier for women to advance their careers after they have families (and this might mean giving more flexibility to the dads too! gasp!), there won't be pay equality.  (By the way, I of course realize that women today are often the bread-winners in a family and that men are taking on more and more responsibilities at home.  But the reality is that (at least for now) it's usually the other way around and it's more of a women's issue at this point.  )

That brings us to the debate. Mitt did bring up workplace flexibility in response to the question and I was chomping at the bit for more.  That's great he personally made an effort to hire women on his cabinet and lets his chief of staff get home to make dinner, but where is the policy?  Obama focused most of his response on the educational aspect (ok that helps, but not women-specific), systemic discrimination (arguably doesn't exist) and the Lilly Ledbetter Act he got passed (really doesn't do much except expand procedural rights to enforce pay discrimination issues).  In the end their responses transformed into an "easier" debate about health care and funding for Planned Parenthood.  And, by the next day, all we were left with were binders full of women. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The New 30

I'm turning 31 today.  It's a pretty anticlimactic milestone in the grand scheme of birthdays, but last year I was too distracted by my 9-day-old baby to realize I had turned 30.  I was too sleep deprived to hear the death knell and too brain-dead to remember to say goodbye to the best years of my life.  After all, that's what our twenties were supposed to be, right?  The years in which we are supposed to be our most attractive, have our most fun, finish school, start our careers, find our perfect mate, and have our first of 1.9 children?  By 30, we are supposed to have our shit together.  Isn't that what we used to think?  Sort of a tall order for one decade (especially when the first few years *or maybe half the decade, ahem* is generally spent under a waterfall of jager)...but that was the goal for many women I know until even their 29th birthdays (this will be MY year, dammit!)  But then...30 hit, and a strange thing happened.  The plan had gone awry.  Many of my girl friends (most, actually) found themselves celebrating their birthdays without sparkly somethings on their ring fingers or perfectly round burgeoning baby bellies.  What happened to the plan?  Well, make no mistake about it, these are not women who don't have their shit together.  They have finished college and many graduate school, they have flourished in professional careers, they have made themselves financially independent (and even downright well-off), they have fascinating hobbies and are involved in charitable organizations.  They are still searching for that right someone, sure, but not just someone who will neatly fit into the 30-year-old plan, instead someone who will respect them, their career choices, and can fit into their busy and full lives.  They may or may not want children and they have realized that they still have time (gasp!) to make that choice.  Even many of the women I know who were married before 30 waited to have children until later, instead focusing on their careers, their selves and building a life with their spouses that will (hopefully) stand the test of children.  Many of the ones with children (and many without) are already considering career changes, or are choosing to stay home full-time with their kids.  It seems that today's average 30 year-old woman is vastly different than the 30 year-old we pictured when we were younger, isn't she? 

Somehow I managed to get married at 27 and have my first child 9 days before I turned 30 (phew, I just made the deadline! :)).   But only because I got lucky and found my perfect someone in college, and we still dated 9 years before getting married.  During those 9 years, I put myself through law school, was well into my career and Adam worked for years, and then began law school himself.  It was after all of that, and even after buying a home, that we began picking out wedding china.  Not the model I probably would have imagined years before, but the one that allowed each of us to get our shit together on our own.  It seems to me like the modern path is to get yourself straight by 30 and then (should you choose to) get married and (should you choose to) have a kid sometime by 35 or even 40.  As our life ambition increases, it is extremely common and perfectly acceptable (I only use that word because 10 years ago I don't think it was the case) to be on this new path.  And though our biological clocks might make you move fast with kids if you want them (but probably not as fast as you think), you will be a far better parent for having waited until you were ready and with the right person.  It's worth waiting for.

As I look forward to my 32nd year today, I'm not most proud of the fact that I married the best guy in the world and am raising the sweetest little boy...these were wonderful blessings that came to me when they were meant to come.  They were gifts, not end-goals.  But I AM proud that at this moment in time, I feel like I have my shit that is a real accomplishment.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Modern Ms.

From Wife/ Mom/Wife/ Mom/Wife/Lawyer/House Manager/Amateur Chef/Travel Planner/Family Mediator/Events Organizer/Runner/Girlfriend Therapist/Master Online now, Blogger?  Yeesh!  My guess is that you too have 18 different roles and you play them (mostly) with a smile.  When did we get so busy?  And, well,  so....badass?

See, having always been more of a guy's girl, I always had the mentality that girls could do anything boys could do and that we were, well, equal.  The truth is, we are not.  I realized after having my son in 2011, not for the first time but certainly in a different way than before, that women are extraordinary.  We do everything that men do, plus about a thousand other things... and we do it all at the same time.  All the while, we face a different set of pressures, and are judged by a different set of rules....though the prefix "Ms." has been encouraged by the women's movement since the 1970s as a way to refer to women without revealing their - arguably irrelevant -  marital status, doesn't it seem like we are still sometimes summed up by the ring on (or not on) our fingers?  And our ability to have flourishing careers, 1.9 exceptional children and run marathons on the weekends at the same time?  If only it were that easy, and if only we talked more about it!  When I struggled through parts of the newborn baby experience, talking about it with a few other women really got me through it.  BUT I also found myself often asking, why doesn't anyone talk about [X]?  Why didn't anyone tell me how hard [X] was?  And I realized that the hush-hush mentality about difficult "female" issues begins well before motherhood.  From an early age we are taught to keep it together at all times and that any emotion other than sheer joy over being a teen/student/careerwoman/single/married/working mom/stay-at-home mom/etc. is viewed as unladylike, weak or some sort of hit to the feminist cause.  So, women say things like "I love being single" when very few 30-somethings I know really want to be single, or moms tell new moms to "enjoy every moment" even though they have to know that's not actually possible!  I would love to honestly discuss issues that do-it-all women probably have to confront at some point or another and, most of all, be a supportive voice to anyone who may need it.  And, of course, I want to dish on food/restaurants and other fun stuff because, well, it's impossible for any of us crazy bitches to just focus on one thing :) 

By the way, if you don't know me, I am a 30 year old lawyer living in Chicago.  I am a  first-generation Indian-American and I grew up in Texas.  I've been married since 2009 to my husband, Adam, and we had a son, Noah, in September 2011.  I worked for 5 years for a large law firm as a Labor and Employment attorney, and then in April 2012 I became the Employment Practices Director for a manufacturing company.  In my spare time (ha), I am most passionate about cooking, eating, and traveling.  And tv. 

I'm so excited to start this blog and hope you will find it interesting and/or helpful!


p.s. I don't know much about blogging and don't have a lot of free time, so if I over-generalize, make grammatical mistakes, or my links don't work, etc., just, well, forgive me :)