Spending Our Anniversary With Coldplay (no kids and guilt free!)

It was our 16th wedding anniversary and the kids were headed to grandma’s for the night. For once we had our act together, planned ahead, and the wife and I were hitting the town. We had tickets for Coldplay at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and couldn’t wait to celebrate our anniversary together with tens of thousands of other people.  Kid free.

The lights went down, the music turned up, the band took the stage and started rocking out to the songs we all remember: Yellow, Clocks, Sky Full Of Stars. They had given out these very cool wristbands for everyone when we entered that lit up different colors and choreographed the audience with the music. It was cool. It was very cool. And it was fun. Couples were dancing. Friends were singing. Parents were dancing with their kids.

About an hour into things I thought it. But I refused to say it. Then my wife thought it. And she finally said it, “The kids really would have had fun tonight.” I told her I had thought the same thing but had decided not to say it. As parents it is so tough not to get caught up in the cycle of feeling guilty when you enjoy something WITHOUT the kids.

But we’re all allowed to. We deserve it. I’ll say it again: We parents are ALL allowed to enjoy and indulge WITHOUT the kids. And we don’t need to feel guilty for it. That last part is most important: no guilt!

Long before we had two kids, long before we had our little house in our little suburban town, there were two young college students who found each other and fell in love. Long before the family, there was the couple. On this night, we were celebrating THAT. The COUPLE.

The music took us down a memorable journey for the night: In My Place, Viva La Vida, Fix You. As balloons bounded in the crowd and fireworks rocketed in the air, I put my arm around my wife and she put her head on my shoulder. It was that nuzzly head on the shoulder that sends tingles down your spine. That, “I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have someone who feels the way about me that I feel about them.” On this night, for these few minutes, it was back to just us again. And it was guilt free deliciousness.

We left the concert and got each of the kids a t-shirt. A guilt free t-shirt. Don’t tell the kids, but EVERY time they wear that shirt, I’m going to remember the time we left them home with grandma, and went out to celebrate our anniversary by enjoying a much needed and wonderful guilt free night of coupleness.

 

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Help! I Lost My Wedding Ring

I was eating one (sleeve) of my favorite cookies, those delicious Vienna Fingers with the cream in the middle, when I first noticed it was missing. Panic set in. Holy crap. WHERE was my wedding ring?

I searched high.
I searched low.
I searched the inside trash.
I searched the outside trash.
I searched the hamper.
I searched the washer & dryer
I searched the bureaus.
I searched the bathroom.
I searched the drains.
I searched the bed.
I searched behind the bed.
I searched the radiators.
I searched the kitchen.
I searched the dishwasher.
I even searched the fridge.

I confessed to my wife I had lost the ring.  It’s the one thing you’re never supposed to lose and it was gone.  The search continued.

I searched the car.
I searched the cracks between the seats.
I searched the glove compartment.
I searched the trunk.
I searched all around my job.
I searched my office.
I searched the space behind my desk.
I searched the bathroom at work.
I searched spots on the way to work.

WHERE was my wedding ring?
Days went by.
More days went by.
I began searching places again.

I searched the inside trash.
I searched the outside trash.
I searched the washer & dryer.
I searched the bureaus.
I searched the bathroom.
I searched the bed.
I searched behind the bed.
I searched the kitchen.
I searched the dishwasher.
I even searched the fridge.  Again.

WHERE was my wedding ring?  More days went by.  Days turned into weeks.  HOW did I lose it?  WHERE did I lose it?  A sense of doom set in. I just knew it was gone. So I went to drown my sorrows in my favorite cookies. I grabbed the tray of Vienna Fingers and sat down on the couch. Those delicious cookies.  I dragged open the plastic to grab a cookie and my ring popped out from the tray. Right there. All along. Dear god.  I put the ring back on my finger with a satisfied sigh of relief. I finished off the rest of the cookies.

 

*this is a true story and yes I’m still married… I’m surprised too

 

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Charting A New Course: The Vacation Of A Lifetime

We moved along the open ocean with just the sound of the waves cutting through the water and slapping against the ship. It was early morning, with only a few walkers making their rounds, and I was alone in my thoughts as bright sunshine rose in the sky. I just wanted to soak it in for a while. I needed to soak it in.

The summer had started like any other and then took a turn I never saw coming that led to a new job search, resumes, interviews. It would forever be known as the summer I lost my job. Or would it.

People don’t know what to say when someone loses a job. What CAN they say. Some tried to speak from experience. Some tried to speak with words of encouragement. Two things people said resonated with me over and over again:

#1) I know it’s hard to believe, but you’ll look back on this some time and think it’s the best thing that ever happened to you

#2) do something now that you have the time, spend time with the kids, enjoy this time you never would have had otherwise

It took me a while to bring myself around to either. Here I am without a job. The LAST thing I should be doing is giving myself time to enjoy. I immediately got going on job interviews and meetings and planning for whatever is next. But the advice kept nagging at me. I can’t waste this opportunity. WE can’t. So we didn’t.

We booked a family cruise to Alaska.

The middle of July came, a time when I’d normally be working on fall plans for my job, and instead we packed the car and drove north to catch our cruise. We saw California’s giant redwoods in Ladybird Johnson grove, visited the Japanese gardens in Portland’s famous Washington Park, and took in all the foods and artistry of Seattle’s Pike’s Place, then we took off on a cruise ship for the American frontier.

It was sixteen years ago when my wife and I boarded a Norwegian Cruise Line ship for our honeymoon. So much has changed since then. Now we were back again making new memories with our kids.

Over the next eight days touring Alaska, we saw things I’d never imagined: glaciers, waterfalls, wildlife. The ship sailed along from Juneau to Skagway to Ketchikan, each port offering new experiences. You stand there watching glaciers that have been around for thousands of years and it can’t help but provide a little bit of clarity, and calm, and peace. Bald eagles majestically flying overhead surveying the landscape. Salmon swimming upstream as you soak in the sound of rushing water. A couple of times I felt the need to remind the kids, “we are seeing something we may NEVER see together again.” I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to Alaska, on a cruise, with my wife and kids. It’s called “once in a lifetime” for a reason and I wanted them to realize it and take it in.

We left Skagway on the final part of our voyage to Victoria, British Columbia and then back home. I am sitting here in a lounge chair on deck 7 of the ship as we steam back towards Seattle with the sun shining across the bow. By this time tomorrow we’ll be back on land as the ship sails off to take care of someone else’s dream vacation after taking care of ours.

This summer could have forever been known as the summer I lost my job. It COULD have. But it won’t. Now I’ve charted my own course thanks to the wisdom of so many people who told me to seize the opportunity and do something special. This summer will forever be known as the summer we made the trip of a lifetime to Alaska. This summer will forever be known as the summer we dropped everything, packed up, and explored, as a family. This summer will forever be THAT summer. I won’t ever forget it. I know the kids won’t either.

 

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Interview Time: Putting My Best Foot Forward

They say shoes make the man so I sucked it up and bought my first pair of Steve Madden’s. Charcoal grey, soft leather, perfect laces. Even my kids were impressed. Then I got fitted for my new suit. Black with subtle lines, plain front, no pleats. Perfect. Last stop was the hair salon. Top cut with scissors. Beard trimmed number two blade. Looking sharp. Shoes. Suit. Hair.

Resume. Interviews. New beginnings.

It’s hardly what I expected to be doing in the middle of summer. But then again, this is shaping up to be no ordinary summer.  I’ve suddenly found myself in the workplace dance again, putting my best foot forward for a future employer.

The first meetings were an eye opener. I was nervous, excited, apprehensive, and clearly out of practice. The questions: So, what happened? What do I enjoy about my job? Where do I see myself down the road? Where do I see the business going? But a funny thing happened. The more I talked, the more I felt comfortable. I needed to be honest and speak from the heart. I needed to just BE me.

What happened?

This is the toughest one to answer.  The workplace is going through changes and while they didn’t really tell me WHY I was leaving, I know I was proud of the work we did for sure. I really love my colleagues and what we accomplished and I wish them all the best in the future, even if I can’t wait to compete against them.

What do I enjoy about my job?

It’s changed a lot over the years. The joy I get now is from mentoring people, working with reporters, crafting scripts with producers, strategizing how to get the big stories. More than ever, THEIR success has become my joy.

Where do I see myself down the road?

I’d love to contribute in a high level role within a news organization. But my eyes are wide open. Maybe my future is in PR or social media. I recognize that things are changing so fast and there’s a real opportunity for me to blend my talents.

Where do I see the business going?     

Speaking specifically to my media friends right now, I’ve never been more energized. As of this week, I finished initial meetings with all the TV newsrooms in LA. I’ve met incredible people, dedicated people, creative people. While there are definitely challenges we face, from eroding viewership to tightening budgets, there are people ready to meet the challenges with new ideas, new technology, and most importantly, a deep passion for telling a good story for the community we serve.

I wore my new shoes for each of the meetings then came home each afternoon and carefully placed them back in the box. Maybe they WERE my good luck charm and I didn’t want to scuff them up.  I felt so fortunate just to get face to face with the people at the top of LA media: TV, radio, even syndicated programming.  But then I started realizing something. My shoes looked great, but no one ever asked about my shoes. Not a single person.

And then it dawned on me.  As it turns out, shoes didn’t make THIS man. Hard work, determination, and sacrifice did. Loyalty, friendship, and compassion did. PASSION did. They’re the same things that made many of my former and future coworkers too.  We ALL share some of these same characteristics.  And just because I’m looking for that new opportunity doesn’t mean the qualities that made me who I am, still aren’t there.  They made me once. They’ll make me again. Putting my best foot forward in a new pair of shoes.

LinkedIn: Peter Wilgoren

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Rear View Mirror: Going In A New Direction

It’s been three weeks since my goodbye on a Friday afternoon and I confess, this unexpected vacation is already beginning to take its toll. I’m still going through those initial emotions of anger and sadness, but then comes this whole secondary set of emotions: worthlessness, absence.  I’ve already programmed my new phone, revised my resume, started setting up meetings with potential future employers. I’ve cleaned the kids room, organized the garage, and folded the laundry over, and over again. I can be as useful and proactive as I want, but none of that changes the fact that I get up in the morning with no workplace to go to. I imagine anyone who’s been there can tell you, it all wears on you. It does. The kids are in summer camp. The wife is at work. I’m not much for sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring. So I decided not to. I’ve heard a whole lot in the past few weeks about “going in a new direction” so that’s what I decided to do, taking the first step to put it all in the rear view mirror. Literally.

Here goes nothing.

So I went online and filled out a quick application. I downloaded the partner app to my iPhone. I uploaded my license, registration, and insurance documents. I submitted to a background check. I waited.

It was the first time the kids were genuinely interested in cleaning the backseat of the car. We found all sorts of treasures hidden back there. ALL sorts. I got the car washed and vacuumed before taking it for the inspection. They put it through all the tests: headlights, signals, horn. Everything passed, even that backseat. I passed the background check too. It all took less than 24 hours. Just like that, it was done. They handed me my welcome packet and that classic “U”.. the Uber U.

This TV news guy, in between career stops, unable to handle any more Law & Order reruns or court shows on daytime TV, had officially become an Uber driver. Yes. Me. Uber.

Truthfully, it all seemed so familiar. When I was a kid and my dad was on disability from his career as a high school English teacher, he became a taxi driver. I remember going along with him in the summer or on the holidays. The people he’d meet. The stories he’d tell. The pride of a hard day’s work when that log sheet would fill up. I remember it all. Yes, I also remember the occasional stares and second guesses from people we knew who wondered HOW a guy doing one thing was all of a sudden doing another. But he never cared or at least never showed it if he did. There’s no shame in doing what you need to do for your family.

So here I am. The newbie. I watched all the Uber training videos to be a 5-star driver. My kids thought it was cool. They suggested I keep cold bottles of water for customers. So I did. Uber suggested I keep a phone charger for people who might need it. So I did. I was as ready as I’d ever be. I dropped the kids off at camp in the morning and hit the button to go “online” which in Uber language means you’re on the clock. One ride chimed in. I let it pass to someone else. It was weird but I was really nervous. I’ve been in the booth during live TV breaking news events, for fires and earthquakes and chases, and all of a sudden THIS was giving me the butterflies. I knew I just needed to get that first ride done. Another one chimed in. I accepted.

I drove up with my Uber badge in the window, and picked up a woman named Gina. She gave me directions where she was headed just a few miles away. We talked about the weather and the incredible heat here in Southern California. She asked me how long I’d been with Uber. I told her she was my very first Uber ride.. EVER. She asked why I started driving and we talked about my job loss. It was a little heavy for small talk but I guess for my first ride, the “taxicab confessions” were coming from the FRONT seat instead of the back. We thanked each other as I dropped Gina off and went on my way. $2.92 in the bank. Gina gave me my first 5-star review. I’d make several more trips before calling it quits for the morning. Funny thing, LA traffic isn’t so bad when you’re being PAID to sit in it. Among the rides I had, a mom and son that I took to Children Hospital LA. It was a good reminder that there’s always someone who’s going through things far more difficult than you.

In the end, my Uber experiment was a success. Two hours in the morning. Four rides. $25 dollars earned. Over the next few days, a few more rides in my spare time, an extra hundred bucks in the bank. No I wasn’t getting rich quick. But I wasn’t sitting at home and WAITING to get rich either. It felt good to be doing something, anything, as I navigate this unexpected mid-career change. Truthfully, we’re the lucky ones. My family doesn’t need the money right now. We don’t. And I’m thankful for that. Maybe in a few months we will. But not now. For me it was just about getting out there to do something. Job number one is to keep researching and networking and interviewing with potential employers. I know my next newsroom or new career stop is out there. But just like I wasn’t afraid to rip scripts in the newsroom, or jump in to write stories, or even grab water for a guest when they needed it, this has been a good reminder that I can’t be afraid to try new things.

The week ended with my wife and I dropping a typical hundred bucks at Target on a bunch of things we sort-of needed. Only this time, I measured it in Uber rides. My old workplace fading away into the sunset in the rear view mirror as I go in this new direction. My new career somewhere down the road. I’ll get there.

LinkedIn: Peter Wilgoren

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Read my other essays on this journey:

https://dadmissions.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/pete-wilgoren-a-note-to-self/

https://dadmissions.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/silver-bells-moving-on-from-the-workplace-i-loved/

 

 

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Silver Bells: Moving On From The Workplace I Loved

The final chapter in my career with the company arrived unceremoniously in four very average cardboard boxes. The belongings were well cared for and meticulously catalogued on labels but I really didn’t want to look. After sixteen years with the company, twelve in Los Angeles, I knew what the boxes contained. I knew about the family photos and mementos and reminders of stories I held near and dear to my heart. I still do. You never forget those stories. They become etched on your soul. But then something glimmering caught my attention in one of the boxes. I popped the lid.

Sitting inside on a heap of my history was a silver bell. THE silver bell. It still had my name etched on the side. Truth be told, I thought I had lost it long ago. But there it was. It wasn’t as shiny as it used to be and my name wasn’t as sparkly as it used to be but I bet it still worked. Ding. I smacked down on the top of the bell and the sound echoed through my garage. Ding. I did it again. Ding ding. I did it again. And as I hit the bell, the memories came flooding back.

You see, I was just a young TV news producer when I started in LA. We were ALL so young. And we were scrappy. We fought over stories for our newscasts, we dug for unique stories, we battled like siblings wrestling for attention. One day, a fellow producer came up with the ingenious idea and she presented me with “the bell.” From that moment on, if we both spotted a story at the same time, if we wanted to plant our flag in it and make a claim that the story was MINE and nobody else’s, we’d hit the bell. She had a matching one (although I think she had far superior hand/eye coordination). Several times a day in the newsroom, you’d hear the hands smack and the bells ring as we staked a claim to stories. We were young and we were hungry and hearing the bell couldn’t help but make you smile.

Those bells seem like so long ago. They were. Over the years, I feel like I grew up in that newsroom, WE grew up. Soon we worked with the next round of producers.
Slowly the bells were silenced, taking their place in newsroom history among the dust bunnies and lost pens behind the desks. That is, until today, in my garage, when my bell turned up in one of four very average cardboard boxes. I found my bell again. And it sounded great. As my career with that company finishes, I remember the ringing of the bell, and the friendships, and the scrappy nature of some young and hungry TV news producers who never settled for second best. I can still hear the ringing of the bell. I always will.

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Ummm… lil’ Dadmissions ??

 

Wow! Thank you to Mom Spark for putting Dadmissions on a pretty incredible list with guys like Jim Gaffigan, Conan O’Brien, and the man I am battling for the title of sexiest dad alive, Ryan Reynolds!

http://momspark.net/10-super-funny-dads-you-should-be-following-on-the-internet/

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