September 2006
Volume XII Number  3                                  

Summer -- At Home, Sort of

When I told friends that Caren and I were taking a week to see Washington and Oregon, people focused on the rain-iness of Seattle. I explained that we actually were flying to Portland, Oregon, and going inland to the Columbia River and Yakima wine areas, which get very little rainfall. Driving east from Portland, you quickly see the landscape change from green to brown. All the vineyards depend on irrigation, and their wines are from diverse grape varietals.


The first night, we stayed in a bed and breakfast with mostly Washingtonians, visiting for a long weekend.  One very nice school principal asked me what the difference was between New York City and New York State. I explained; and, as the week wore on, had to answer the same question at least daily.  Americans on both coasts -- and in between, I’d guess -- know very little about the geography of our country, and show little embarrassment about their lack of knowledge. 


The warm weather faded as we entered Mount Rainier National Park. In contrast to many other national parks, the beauty of the glaciers and evergreens was not overrun with tourists.


We then went on to the Olympic Peninsula and Olympia National Park, seeing the temperate rain forest.  Having only seen tropical rain forests, we were a little underwhelmed, in part, perhaps because the sun was out brightly again.


The southwest coast of Washington, along with the Northeast Oregon coast is damp, cool, and cloudy. But, there is something about the ocean that attracts the NW urban and suburban inlanders. In Washington, we went to the International Kite Festival, early in the weeklong program. It was also very low key.


The next night, in Oregon, the motel we chose was on the beach.  The tradition, after dinner, was to have a family fire on the beach.  The motel has two college kids who hand out firewood and clean up when the fires are over. The sight of at least twenty fires with families in folding chairs gathered around them was one I will remember for a long time.


The wineries in Oregon are quite a contrast.  They raise two grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, and they are very expensive. Everyone in Washington has free tastings.  In Oregon, they charge $5 to $10 or even $15 for a 2 oz. taste. A bottle of Pinot Noir, even at the winery, ranged from $25 to $60.  No wonder we don’t see a lot of Oregon wine in the New York (City) area.


We had wanted to use our frequent flyer miles to visit Europe, but we waited too long.  Instead, we explored America, putting 1500 miles on our rental car, and saw a part of our country that was new to us, enjoying both the national beauty and the differences of our fellow citizens. 





In the week after Labor Day, three of my clients landed new jobs, all after long negotiations and all resulting in significantly more than the original offers.


Ann will be a Chief Investment Officer for a major national organization, with a package forty percent higher; Victor, a lawyer, convinced the company to pay him a base $30K higher; and Louise, an academic dean, got the top of what the search person told her was the range, a $55K increase over her current package.


In reflecting on these very different people, the common thread is they knew their worth, and they negotiated with confidence.  We stayed in constant contact throughout the negotiation process -- each of them using me as a sounding board -- and together we crafted the next move.  This is the trickiest part of the whole transition process and one that still challenges my nerve -- it not always that of my clients. 


Books I’d Recommend


Dispatches From the Edge, by Anderson Cooper, New York, Harper Collins, 2006, $24.95.


A friend of mine who is a big fan of Cooper gave me his copy of this “Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival,” as its subtitle claims. My knowledge of Cooper came from his reporting during the aftermath of Katrina, where his unique combination of horror and pain at what he -- and we -- saw moved to a polite but quiet anger when he talked with officials.  Perhaps, having recently seen George Clooney’s “Goodnight and Good Luck,” the movie version of Edward R. Morrow’s standoff with Joseph McCarthy, this book too made me long for someone on TV news that does more than read a teleprompter.


Cooper goes back and forth between his career as a journalist and his personal life, highlighted by his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt; a father from Mississippi, who dies of heart disease when Cooper was ten; and a brother, who committed suicide at twenty-one by jumping off a terrace in Cooper’s bedroom.


Somehow, out of all that, Cooper finds direction as a roving reporter, essentially covering the human misery beat.  From Cambodia to Darfur, he interviews mothers of dying children, orphans, aid workers whose days are filled with inability to help the sick because of lack of supplies.  This is not easy reading.  There were times when I could do six or eight pages and then had to put it down.


In the end, Cooper is a very clear and direct writer, and watching him struggle to understand both himself and the world is somehow empowering for the reader. 


For example, Cooper writes about his experience in New Orleans: “I’m not shocked any more by the bodies, the blunders.  You can’t stay stunned forever.  The anger doesn’t go away, but it settles somewhere behind your heart; it deepens into resolve… Here, in New Orleans, the compartmentalization I’ve always maintained has fallen apart, been worn down by emotion, the power of memory.  I tried to move on, forget what I’d lost, but the truth is, none of it’s ever gone away.”


Did You Know?


Now that it’s easy to correspond with me -- via email -- a couple of you asked me if I still did career and personal counseling. I’d like you to know that I maintain a very active private practice in my office at Fifth Avenue and 16th Street and continue to work with The Five O’Clock Club.  I would welcome any referrals. 


I charge by the hour session and also work by phone in 1/4 hour increments.


In personal counseling, I accept most major health insurance, but can only bill that way if there is a legitimate mental health diagnosis.


It is gratifying to have spouses, siblings, and children of former clients referred … so please think of me.