Sal Story: HSN + Silicone

The most infamous of the anti-HR experiences I had while working for Sal is what I like to chronicle as the “HSN Nightmares.” Here is one particular gem.

“They are so Tampa,” he said. It was my first gig at actually profiling and booking models for Sal’s upcoming HSN (Home Shopping Network) debut. I was a little surprised we were going through with the transaction, as he’s always talked about his brand as being so over and above all the other lowlife brands, and HSN didn’t exactly scream haute couture. 

Seeing as I had become the office’s shiny object right about the time the HSN partnership was built, I was handed the reigns on model casting, styling, escorting Sal to St. Petersberg, FL, maintaining the agenda, shoe samples in correct sizes, and basically helping to facilitate any and all needs between Sal and the production teams at HSN.

We had looked at model head shots a week prior, and Sal was ultimately disgusted with most of them, which only made me paranoid that I also could have a “but her face” issue. And when we met the models to pick in person (talk about pressure), he let me take the lead. 

But he couldn’t stop his own commentary later on how trashy and gross they were collectively. He was ranting to me (backseat) and a colleague (passenger seat) about how he hated Florida models, how they weren’t nearly the caliber of NYC models. He spoke of how ugly they were, but that was all we had access to in a place like this. How tragic.

And then he noted how some of them had gone overboard on the silicone implants. {insert awkward moment when two girls in their early twenties are trapped in the car with a male boss discussing female anatomy.}

That moment would have been awkward enough if he let it lie, but he didn’t. He turned to the busty passenger seat employee and stated, “C, you don’t need any of that, but Katelin could use some {silicone}.”

Then he chuckled to himself and we drove silently back to the hotel, where me and my smaller parts washed up and went to bed.

Sal Stories: The Scene at JFK

I was asked to create a timeline, an interactive history landing spot on Sal’s webpage that would chronicle his beginnings through present day. But the problem was, he was the only one with access to all of the information needed for the job given the crazy turnover. Kind of like the company org chart.

Being resourceful, I scoured the drives until I found an antiquated version probably left by some intelligent woman who had quit 10 years before me. I took the contents from this history log and began piecing them like a puzzle into an excel file. One column would hold an image, the next a kitschy title, and the next a short description of Sal or the company at that point in time. I was quite proud of my ability to manifest something with zero bones thrown my way. I shot him an email with the excel so that we could move on to the web design portion. He said he’d review it on our joint flight back from Florida.

But when we found each other at the baggage claim in JFK airport, his face was aflurry with scorn. He took to a swift walk in my direction, and began angrily waving a piece of paper above his head. A few onlookers stopped to see what was about to go down.

“You are so stupid!” he yelled. Silence in the baggage claim.

“You don’t know anything about this company, you don’t know anything!” he continued.  I calmly tried to ask what he was referencing, when he pointed to the paper that was my rough draft excel for the company history.

“You have no f****** clue! I can’t believe you work for me!” he continued. By now, there were about 25 folks who were enjoying the parade.

“You say here that Sal got his footing from Kenneth Cole back in the 80’s…” he was breathless. I was still impressed with my copywriting (got his footing…hah). I had read that Sal worked at Kenneth Cole and that’s what had launched his own career in the footwear industry. Apparently, someone had unsuspectingly remembered the story wrong.

“Oh please!” he threw up his hands and the paper went with it. “IF ANYTHING, KENNY LEARNED EVERYTHING HE KNOWS FROM ME!!!”

Boy was that a twist in the plot. Kenny?

Biting my tongue, I tried to reassure him it was a very, very easy fix as it was a draft, and that I had pulled historical content, but my reasoning was in vain. Because what I really wanted to tell him was his theory was improbable. If Kenny had been your prodige, even though you worked with him, than why does everyone in America know Kenny’s name and not yours? And why is Kenny on 5th Avenue when you don’t have a storefront?

He essentially fled the airport with his baggage (physically and mentally), yelling back at me at how f****** stupid I was.  It was the first time I had ever been cussed out in an airport. And to my amazement, the New Yorkers faded into the background the same way they had congregated just moments before.

And that’s when I learned that Sal was better than any shoe designer in the world, obviously.

What is this "Birth Plan?"

If you are a birth planner, try your hardest not to take offense. There are plenty of planner -mom-bloggers out there to appease you. Trust me.

Sometime between the generation before me and my own, women invented birth plans, to the collective delight of all OB’s. Out of curiosity, I downloaded a template. It was 4 pages long. Some of my elective favorites:

The ability to wear your own contacts.
The ability to request a mirror to see
The ability to feel torturous pain, or to feel nothing.
The ability to bring your own props, with a suggestion of a beanbag (?)
The ability to request props, with the suggestion of a squatting bar. WHAT IS THIS HORROR?
The ability to be in pain in whatever position you want, no matter how bizarre.
The ability to request songs at intervals (cue: Enya at hour 6 please).
The ability to walk and eat.
The ability to request a cot for your partner and/or kick him out.
The ability to dictate the fate of any little masculine parts, Old Testament style.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg of the crazy. I didn’t even get to the room temperature, light dimness, bedding, and photography. See, yes, I was thankful that the facilities were nice, nice enough to birth a baby. But I didn’t really want to be here. Planning it like a vacation felt like we would be staying a while, and I just wasn’t down with that.

I was, however, down with making my hospital bag a vacation:

Instead of this form, I decided to ask my doctor the questions that really mattered:

Q:Will I die?
A: No (I should note it wasn’t a firm no)

Q: Can you guarantee that this person’s head and body will fit through this opening…can you guarantee it 100%? What measurements do you have to go off of? Can you x-ray the skull and pelvic area so we can be sure? (this was quickly ruled out for baby safety).
A: No

Q: Will you be adding a catheter or enema to the mix?
A: Yes

Then I informed my doctor that I did have a birth plan:

Keep us both alive. And if you have to pick someone to save, pick me.

Thankfully, she had big picture vision.

High Risk Diva

By 20 weeks of pregnancy, I was on my fourth doctor. He was dubbed a “maternal fetal medicine high risk perinatologist.” He had the magic sono technology that would hyper evaluate little nugget, running through a checklist of maladies that would make any parent cringe.

His demeanor and harried look reminded me of the sort of character that might play the creator of Frankenstein. Without my wits about me and my nerves on their highest setting, I politely reminded him we didn’t want to know the gender. He brushed it off like I was irrelevant to his work. But I had been promised he was the best, albeit a bit of a loon.

He explained what things he would look for- while looking- to determine the baby’s propensity for spina bifida, down syndrome, etc.

When he panned in on the tiniest hand I’ve ever had a crush on, we could see that that “it” was giving a thumbs up sign. Just as I was about to squeal with delight, the MD butted in.

“Well….this is a sure sign of mental retardation,” he wryly said.

{Insert pause that was probably 5 seconds and felt like 5 minutes}

And much to my surprise, he started laughing.

For the record, no, I’m not familiar with the “Gig ’em Aggies” sign and thus did not get the joke at all. What a terrible human being! It hailed back a series of memories where I categorized people in ill-fitting professions.

Only a few years back, I had been standing with my brand new family who was selecting a plot of land to bury one of our most cherished members. While essentially looking for a double plot with a view, we found the perfect location. The funeral director cheerily chirped, “Well, great! We can just kill two birds with one stone.” The irony was not lost on any of us. That chick needed a new vocation.

And so did this guy. He went on to warn me that my biggest risk was making it to full term, and thus 38 weeks it would be.

When we left, my husband and I studied the sonograms over and over, until we were sure we saw a problem in that thumbs up. There was a sixth finger. Just look at it. We decided to keep quiet, and it wasn’t until he was born that we could actually vouch for 5 fingers.

El Preggo (2)

If this is awkwardly in the middle of a story for you,  read Part One here.

Through what was sincerely dubbed the “miscarriage panel,” I discovered that I had two genetic mutations, and not in the cool way that amounted to four awesome teenage mutant ninja turtles…the way that indicates you are fundamentally defunct. One was called MTHFR, which I so politely referred to as mother-bleeper, as I would have assumed it to read that way on a license plate. It meant I couldn’t metabolize folic acid, a useless building block in bearing children. Bring on the spina bifida.

Then I was given this number: Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome, or the blood’s tendency to clot. The rush of oxygen needed to get to the baby triggered the blood clotting, which cut off air, and amounted to the bad reruns of the previous summer.

And as a cherry on top, B and I have opposite blood types, dubbed the “RH Factor.” Albeit an easy fix with a shot in the butt (how can I count the ways…), my body would undoubtedly attack the fetus at some point for having the opposing blood type.

I was to alert the doctor immediately if I fell pregnant again. This is how they say it in the UK, as I know from all my forum-hunting.  As it turns out, I couldn’t even out-hypochondriac myself on this one.

Regrettably I took the test on a Friday night (day 25 for you other nuts out there), when NO DOCTOR’S OFFICE is open. How very stupid of me.  To kill time, I went to the State Fair, ate corndogs, and was practically running two-a-days to keep my blood moving for sanity’s sake.

Fast forward to 7am on Monday, and there I was at my doctor’s office getting pawned off to the local fertility clinic, where I was pale-faced learning how to inject a cartridge of Lovenox into my stomach. I was to do this every single day of my pregnancy at the same time each day, or else.  I came in 4 times in the next two weeks to measure my hcg levels. Then at six weeks for a sono, then at 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 weeks. They told me I was probably going to have a baby. They told me not to fall or get in a car wreck as I would probably die of blood loss. I figured nugget and I both had equal odds and went on my merry way.

I had to psych myself up every morning for the shot. Sometimes I would pretend that I was in some sort of mortal combat game and that if I didn’t administer the shot right then and there, we would all die. Sometimes I stood in front of the mirror for five minutes faking it, like a pool player. Sometimes, I would put down the shot, walk away, come back, and pretend I had no idea what was coming. I was so clever. I ordered a heart rate monitor with jelly so I could obsessively listen in on my little person, freaked that I was going to stab it. The first and only time I ever forgot the shot, my husband randomly texted me a question about it that reminded me, letting me know that heavenly homeboy was looking out for nugget.

The bruises started mounting and I would count them as my battle wounds. I learned to avoid veins and arteries at all costs, which if you’ve ever been pregnant before, is like throwing a dart at a road map and trying to hit countryside. Perhaps a little more than you bargained for- but here is a glimpse of a normal day. And yes, thank you for asking, I do regret that eyebrow-ring-in-place-of-a-belly-button-ring I so loved in high school. RIP fab and white trash stomach.

At least 3x at work someone would usher their hand toward my stomach with a…”ummm, something…ummm” and I would have bled through my shirt from that morning’s shot. As it turned out, blood thinners are incredibly good at what they do. I Amazon-primed my way through bandaids and cotton balls.

I called the doctor one day in tears, sure it was game over. I was bleeding! She told me to calm down and measure quantity over the next two hours. It was an hour before a well-placed mirror proved a shaving nick on my upper thigh was the culprit (thank you, thinners). I gave up shaving; it was too dangerous. I could see the obit now… “she was just trying to groom her fat legs.”

{more to come}

El Preggo

I’ve been lackadaisical at best this year in adding new blogs. Mainly because my whole life revolves around this crazy nugget; maybe even bigger still because I wasn’t sure how to broach the massive gap in between my normal storytelling and the fact that there is a new person in the world. I write funny, still personal anecdotes. I try not to get close to “the other side.” But there’s a little of both in this truth.

How ironic that I have always been so terrified of an accidental pregnancy.

Hours of teenhood were lost marinating on the asinine topic that I would somehow fall pregnant the way people fell in love. When we were finally “ready,” I did what most normal individuals do- I insisted on reading a mammoth-sized textbook to learn exactly how this happens. After all, if one couldn’t become pregnant from hot tubs or toilet seats, there had to be great mystery in this feat. Note: I was one of the children excused from the 7th grade Reproductive Series a la my momma.
The textbook I settled on took me no less than 8 weeks straight to read.  How had I been so unaware of the art of getting pregnant? This wasn’t a love fest, this was straight up science. 
A thermometer by my bedside and copies upon copies of fertility charts folded in squares and stashed in my nightstand, I charted my body like a zealous dieter.  I crept my way into countless online forums to see if my non-existent signs were signs of pregnancy.

Forums where I read ridiculous stuff like this (truly, I was seeking advice..):

And on the earliest possible day of the first real month on the books (cue “First Response tells you FIVE days before your missed..” blah blah blah), I had everything I had been hoping for right on a little white stick.

I had just returned from NYC and it was May of 2012. I had eaten my way through the city…an entire Grimaldi’s pizza for lunch by the Statue of Liberty (hey, they didn’t sell by the slice), followed by a Magnolia’s Bakery German Chocolate Cupcake, and a snack in Bryant Park. I slept until 11am every morning and felt like a lazy college student. I knew before I tested that things were about to get wild.

It was a Sunday when I found out. I kept my mouth shut while I strategized breaking the news to my husband. I read about 37 terrible ideas (buying him a book called “my boys can swim!” ranking high on the list) before settling on a couple pairs of shoes from Target in a box that was ‘mailed’ to the house and addressed to my husband. Unfortunately, the dual shoes sent an unintentional message that screamed TWINS, which had to be cleared up. But precious nonetheless.

And this is the way I will always remember the excitement of being pregnant (thankfully captured in this picture)! Because if you do the math, it’s not hard to deduce that this magic white wand wasn’t Augie. Nor was the next one, or the other ‘maybe’ that was lost in the shuffle.

What followed was like a bad movie. My husband left town for work travel and THIS happened (no lie). I went to work and had a stern talking to (which has rarely happened prior or since). Something didn’t feel right so I went home. I showed up at the doctors office unannounced the next day in hysterics (my apologies to all of Dr. G’s patients!), and confirmed the worst. I was insane, like literally. Something snaps in your hormones that are beyond what can be articulated in writing. Pregnancy has nothing on miscarriage in that department. At one point, I flung my entire body onto our hardwood floor, gasping for air from crying uncontrollably. Oh the drama. But I couldn’t have helped myself if I had tried. After some time things returned to normal.

And then it happened all over again. This time, it did what life does best- combining itself with every other macro-level terror in your life. Another work trip for my spouse, a massive rundown of work events I was responsible for debuting that month, a grandmother’s illness escalating, and my poor, sweet little parrot falling ill and dying after 15 years of camaraderie. And yes, you better darn well believe that parrot was the last straw keeping me together in a time like that!

When the parrot passed (at the unmerciful hands of a stupid vet who chatted about his new mattress while he put her down and whom I have audibly cursed in Central Market), I had nothing left. I missed 2 weeks of work. I nearly threw up everyday. I lost 9 lbs. People asked if I was pregnant….perhaps it was morning sickness. The irony burned.

But thanks to God’s grace the story doesn’t end there. You can laugh, but I sat bawling in my car in the driveway, blubbering to my mom about how I just knew, I just really knew that my bird had to head north before I was going to be able to carry a pregnancy to term. And as it so happens, it was that week exactly that commenced the journey for my little nugget.

So I guess I owe it all to my birdie after all. Nugget has a lot to live up to because I really, really loved that bird 🙂

{more to come}

How Did I Get Here?

And here it is; my proverbial “pink slip.” Actually, I think I would have rather been handed a pink slip. People can look for new jobs, but they absolutely cannot undo what is about to be done…eek!

I can’t help but think with all the modern branding and euphemism’s for things that are pretty awful, that they couldn’t have worked out a more enthusiastic way to say this.

For starters, as I learned with one of my non-pregnant friends, “ripening” sounds far too much like “rip-ening,” which was how she read it back to me when I  handed her the sheet. “No, I assured her, that starts on Wednesday…on Tuesday, we “ripen.”

Then there’s the sorry blackened pictures of a stork holding a bag about as far from their body as they can, which showcases ( I assume) a deformed baby storks head, affirming the fact that, yes, my baby will probably also be ugly or misshapen because these things do happen. Though I ‘m hoping I won’t hold my package so far away from me? It looks like the classic resentment of the new babe because they just ruined their mothers body. Mercy!

Lastly, the most irksome part has to be, “GOOD LUCK!!” The all caps and double exclamation points insinuate that this feat of nature may or may not just be guided by the stars. Don’t worry, you’re not coming to one of the top delivery hospitals with all of our bells and whistles to ensure you not only live, you love this experience, you are coming to roll your own dice in a war against pain, death, or life. GOOD LUCK!!

With only four days left, perhaps it’s time to invest in a value pack of tarot cards.