Dream job.

I wrote this recently for a client. It got rave reviews — surprisingly, not every blog post I write elicits an enthusiastic “thank you” — so I re-read it and decided to post it here.  Go get ’em, Tiger!

 

 

Go For It! How To Land Your Dream Job by Beth Behrendt

It may seem like a “pie-in-the-sky” goal. My dream job? Yeah, right. Only people like Steve Jobs or Steven Spielberg or Stephen King are lucky enough to end up getting rich doing what they love.

Well, it’s not just luck, it’s not only in high-profile careers, and it doesn’t just happen to people named Steve. Everyone knows lots of people who are unhappy or stuck on auto-pilot in their careers… but there are just as many who truly love what they do (and most of them are making a pretty good salary doing it). They didn’t get there just by luck. Here are some suggestions for ways that can get you closer to — and hopefully land you smack-dab in the middle of — your dream job.

[An aside: First, you need to figure out what your dream job IS, of course. If you haven’t exactly identified it yet, there are a plethora of books and online sources that can help you figure this out. Some people have known what it is all their lives, some people take decades to figure it out. What matters is that once you know it, your path to getting there becomes a lot more clearcut.]

Now the suggestions:

Find role models doing your dream job. Learn from them.

Read about their career paths if you can’t meet with them personally. If you can meet them in person (and it never hurts to ask, people generally enjoy sharing their own knowledge) ask for guidance, suggestions, advice and referrals to other people to talk with. Try an internship. Volunteer for their organization. While you may eventually choose to take the different path than your role model, it can be very educational to learn about why and how they made the choices they did to get them to where they are.

Find other role models (happy and successful in other fields than yours). Learn from them.

You may be amazed at the lessons you can learn, or the connections you can make, by talking to other successful, happy-in-their-job people. Even if their field is not exactly what you want to do, they may lead you to meeting people who work where you would like to work some day doing the job you would like to do. Being genuinely interested in others, and supportive of the work they do, can open up unexpected doors all the time.

Make sacrifices. But don’t quit your day job (yet).

You may have to give up some things to get your dream job: maybe not being paid as much pay as you’d like, or maybe living in a different part of the country. You will have to weigh these sacrifices vs. the experience. If those seem too difficult to make, perhaps it isn’t really your dream job if you aren’t willing to make sacrifices for it?

Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean you should throw all caution to the wind. You can research your dream job, meet people and dip your toes in the water with freelancing or volunteering while you hang on to your current job. And remember to be grateful for that job and show that graciousness at work — you never know how the people you know there might play a role in getting you where you want to be. Eventually you will need to take the leap from your current work to your dream job, but you will have the safety net of money and relationships with people there to help you make that jump.

Sell yourself. Get the skills needed. Market them.

Even if your dream job doesn’t involve sales, there’s always going to be a sales aspect to getting there. Selling yourself! Whether it’s your ideas or your skills and knowledge, nobody is going to know their value if you don’t promote them. From your research about your role models and your preferred job, make sure you are developing the relevant skills you need to get there. Of course a standard resume is important and occasionally needed. But it’s equally important to be able to market yourself across “platforms”:

  • have short talking points to describe yourself when you meet new people
  • massage your resume so it is relevant for different types of social media
  • learn from your role models or people in the field what types of social media are used to discover candidates

You may think you hate selling, but if you want to love your job realize that selling yourself is a key part of getting there. You may discover that you actually enjoy it!

Make a plan. Then be willing to trash it.

Don’t over think it or think that ever single step needs to be mapped out. Focus on what you can do in the near future that will get you to the big picture. Then revise as you go along. You will learn what was worth the effort and what was not, or how you could have approached it differently. Ask your role models or mentors for advice about your next steps. You may find that the specifics of your dream job evolve as you get closer to your goal.

Take a BIG step.

Eventually you will need to tackle a big step to get closer to your goal. It will take courage. Keep your faith in your abilities and the experience you’ve gained through your work so far, the research you’ve done, and the people you’ve met. Accept that this may ultimately be a step back, but the lessons you learn will do way more for your progress than any number of playing-it-safe tasks.

Pay it back. Pay it forward.

Once you get to your dream job, never forget the help you got to get there. Express gratitude for the job you have and be grateful to those who helped you along the way. Equally important, mentor and openly help others get to their own dream jobs.

The take-away? Want to do what you love? Identify it. Be smart about how to get there. Work hard. Engage with and appreciate other people. You CAN have your dream job!

Chairy.

This was a blogpost I wrote for a furniture store client recently. They asked me to write about how furniture “can become like a member of the family”. Which, I must admit, made me stare blankly into space for a really long time. Then I remembered “the gold chair” and out flowed this post.

Like a Member of the Family…

Most of us probably have at least one these “members of the family” in our home. Or maybe it’s still living in your parents’ home, long after you grew up and moved out. It’s in the background of so many family photos — silently participating in decades of birthday parties, holiday celebrations and just regular day-to-day family life.

For my family, it’s “the gold chair”. Even though it’s now brick-red after its third or fourth reupholstering (it hasn’t been its original Harvest Gold color in over 25 years), the whole family still calls it “the gold chair”. It was the ground on which many fierce sisterly battles were fought — generally over who would get to sit in its prime viewing spot for that evening’s episode of Love Boat. It was our favorite spot for painting our toenails (which probably explains reuphostery job #1). It comforted us during sick days, broken bones and broken hearts. It was in the background of Halloween costume parades, back to school wardrobe fashion shows, prom photos, and bridal showers. It’s been packed onto a moving truck to go live in three different houses. Besides us, it has held countless visiting relatives and friends — and in succession, three different dogs, seven different cats, and each of our five babies in the arms of Grammy or Papa.

That’s what we mean by furniture that’s like a “member of the family”: those pieces of furniture that never go out of style and never fail at quietly fulfilling their daily responsibilities. For some families it’s Grandma’s dining room table, or Aunt Ada’s desk, or Mom and Dad’s bedroom set. At some point, someone in the family decided to invest his or her hard-earned money in a quality piece of furniture… and here it is decades later– maybe in a different house or even a different part of the world — but still an essential part of family life.

That’s the thing about quality furniture, its an investment that pays back in ways you can’t express in a dollar figure. Long after the initial purchase, quality furniture enhances your home and your family life with comfort, ease of care, and style. …[then on to the pitch to shop at client’s store]

p.s. kudos if you get the Pee Wee’s Playhouse reference

Tesla.

Earlier this year, I wrote an article for one of the local papers about Tesla owners in town. Here it is.

The most difficult thing about writing this? Making it short enough to fit the newspaper format! I could have gone on and on about all the interesting things I learned along the way. The owners I talked to were such smart, funny guys and SO enthusiastic about their cars — I only scraped the surface of how fun our conversations were. As I track down more freelancing projects, I’ve been thinking about how the Tesla article perfectly brought together all the things I love about a great writing project:

  1. researching something cool
  2. connecting with other people over something about which they are passionate
  3. mulling it all over, blending it together and sharing my enthusiasm about what I learned with anyone out there who will “listen”

Plus this project had the added bonuses of:

  • related to environmental issues (my old stomping grounds)
  • a bit of celebrity glam (e.g. CEO Elon Musk, all the celebrities who drive Teslas — even the owners are kind of celebrities around here with anyone who knows anything about cars)
  • and, I got to ride around in really fast cars (and even got to drive one)

Just a whole big bag of fun!

That said, here’s the longer version of the article — it reflects more of the guys’ personalities (and my own, I guess) than the reportive piece. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

What IS That Car? : Teslas Around Town by Beth Behrendt, January 2015

Don’t expect to get anywhere quickly if you’re driving a Tesla. Not because the Tesla is slow. It decidedly is not. It’s just a fact of Tesla ownership that curious people will have no qualms about stopping you anywhere and everywhere to ask you about your car. In fact, the Tesla Motors sales staff suggest new owners just go ahead and add 5-10 minutes to any around town drive-time estimate due of this phenomenon. One local Tesla owner went so far as to have his windows tinted so he could avoid making eye contact with other drivers. Seemingly every time he stopped at a red light another driver was making the universal sign for “roll down your window!” so he could ask “Is that a Tesla?!”.

Fortunately, if their schedule allows, Tesla owners love to talk about their cars. “Evangelize” even, as one owner describes it. Trying to persuade conversion on those of us still living in the Dark Ages of automotive technology. Enlightened Tesla owners are more than happy to oblige the curious with raving reviews and detailed answers to every question; even offer complete strangers the chance to climb in and have a look around.

What is a Tesla?

If you aren’t already familiar with this American designed and built car, the simple answer is: it’s a car that runs purely on electricity.  No combustible engine. No gas needed. Just plug it in.

But there’s way more to a Tesla than that.

Teslas are firmly planted in the luxury class category of vehicles, with the price tags to match (see sidebar). The cars’ aesthetics — a sleek exterior design and beautifully appointed interiors — get rave reviews from all of the well-known car enthusiast publications. The cars’ technological features are cutting edge, exemplified in the striking 17 inch touchscreen on the center console. It offers hyper-user-friendly access to all of the vehicle’s data and more control features that you can imagine. And don’t overlook that professional car reviewers have described the dynamics of driving a Tesla as everything from “excellent”, “sexy” and “staggering”, to “a lot like a Lamborghini”.

Tesla Motors is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. The cars are manufactured at the company’s nearby plant in Fremont. The company is run by uber-cool CEO Elon Musk, who took the capital he made from creating PayPal to fund his other dreams: sustainable transportation and space exploration. Besides Tesla Motors, he also runs SpaceX which, according to its website “designs, manufacturers, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft…. with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets”. NASA recently hired SpaceX to from now on take over the responsibility of getting American astronauts up to the International Space Station.

And, yeah, that was Elon making a cameo appearance in Iron Man 2; pressing the flesh with Gwyneth Paltrow while pitching an electric jet idea to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. He’s that kind of cool.

The company itself is flourishing, recently surpassing the mark of 50,000 cars sold worldwide. Not surprisingly the majority of US sales have occurred on the Coasts where (a) population is denser, (b) charging stations (more on that below) are more accessible and (c ) the prestige of owning one — whether to promote your trend-setter, tree-hugger or “I have a lot of money” image — carries more weight perhaps than here in the down-to-earth Midwest.

However, Tesla sightings are on the rise all over the US. Which raises the questions: Who are these people driving around Fort Wayne in Teslas? And why?

The owners interviewed for this piece may not speak for every Tesla owner, but they offered some insight. They are hardly, if at all, motivated by a sustainable-fuel-will-save-us-from-climate-change argument. And certainly not influenced — even “a bit embarrassed” mentioned one owner — by the cache of owning a car that costs what a Tesla costs (see sidebar).  Each, however, cited a life-long fascination with new technology. Off the bat describing themselves as “tech guys”  who were always the “early adopter” of every new technology they found geeky-cool enough for consideration — possessing an Elon Musk-ian conviction that awesome technology just makes the world a better place.

And these guys undeniably think Teslas are awesome. So awesome that a couple of them repeatedly shared their fantasy of quitting their day jobs and spending the rest of their lives happily selling Teslas (apologies, wives, if this is the first you are hearing of this). A doctor, a sales rep and a local business owner/musician, they each drive their Teslas every single day. They each drive them on different types of roads and for widely varying amount of miles. But they all agree on most of the features that they love about their cars:

Design

It’s a good looking machine. Low and sleek. There’s a pleasing visceral reaction to how the flush chrome door handles pop out to greet you as you approach the car with key fob in hand. (Well, it’s nice to see you, too, Handsome.)

Dr. Ashok Kadambi, an endocrinologist in town, describes the intuitive design of the car, including its enormous 17 inch touchscreen control panel, “like an iPhone” — one you can climb into and then drive around.

Travis Mayer, a sales rep for Biomet, pointed out the more practical aspects of the Tesla design. He needs a spacious vehicle to carry around product samples to the hospitals and doctors he works with all over northeastern Indiana. Open the tailgate and there is a large storage space rivaling any full-size sedan’s trunk. And, where the engine would be in the front of the car? That’s storage, too. The interior space itself is surprisingly roomy. The flat floor (there’s no driveshaft bump down the middle) makes it easy for three full-sized adults to fit in the middle row.

Travis also has two young children. He got the option of the two rear-facing child seats that fold up in the back tailgate space. “I told my wife, ‘See? It’s a family car, too!'”. The kids do get a kick out of riding back there; getting an entirely different perspective on any trip. But curious strangers more than once have stopped the Mayers in parking lots to inquire why are they “putting their children in the trunk?”

Chuck Surack, owner of Sweetwater Sound and a “car guy” (that’s an understatement), isn’t quite as enthusiastic on the design. As much as he loves the Tesla — “It’s definitely in my top 3 favorites of the performance vehicles I own. I drive it every day.” — did comment that the exterior design leaves him a bit luke-warm. “That Porsche Panamera there. Now that’s a sharp looking car.” OK. Fair enough.

Chuck did express, however, how impressed he is with the Tesla’s audio system. Coming from the founder of Sweetwater Sound, that’s saying something. He explained that Tesla didn’t just take a great audio system and put it in the car. They hired sound recording engineers to sit in the vehicle and design a sound system that worked perfectly for that particular space. He, too, raved about the user-friendly interface of the touchscreen monitor for controlling all aspects of audio entertainment.

Some other cool features include the Tesla’s strong regenerative braking system (meaning it sends power back to the battery when the car slows down). Take your foot off the gas and the car immediately begins to slow without you moving your foot to the brake pedal. This sounds odd but, at least in the thrilling 10 minutes I was offered the chance to drive a Tesla, it immediately seems completely intuitive. Travis commented, “But now I have to consciously remind myself to use the brake pedal when I drive our other car.”

Also, after your ride the car just turns itself off as you walk away. A bit of a problem, Chuck remarked, because he’s beginning to expect all of his cars to turn themselves off when he walks away from them.

Performance

The Model S goes zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. As Ashok pointed out at my reaction to his car’s acceleration on I-69, “And that’s what they call ‘the Tesla smile’! You are right. It’s hard not to get all giggly every time you accelerate!”

But similarities to other performance cars end when it comes to engine noise. There is hardly any at all — a soft whine from the electric motor and bit of friction noise from the road. As Chuck joked, “Of all my performance vehicles, this is the one I most worry about getting a ticket in.” The realization of how fast you are going isn’t triggered by the roar of an engine.

No Gas

Travis, who daily puts a lot of miles on his vehicle, says that the cost savings made it easy for him to justify the initial car price. The previous vehicle he drove for work cost him about $1000 per month in gas. Even though his home electric bill has gone up about $120 per month, the monthly savings compared to buying gas are adding up quickly.  Plus, he adds, there were some unexpected cost savings and bonus weight loss. No more temptations to grab a soda or candy bar every time he stops at a gas station. Because he doesn’t.

“I think it’s been over a year since I’ve even been to a gas station,” Chuck concurs.

The Buying Experience

It’s unusual. But none of these guys balked at an untraditional approach. Each of them designed their Model S — customizable features include battery size, exterior color, interior finishes, and features like sunroofs and those fold up rear child seats. Travis did go so far as to test drive one first at the showroom in Indianapolis. Ashok was already confident about the Tesla product because he had previously owned the now out-of-production Tesla Roadster that he bought used in California. (Previously owned by Leonardo DiCaprio. Talk about cache.)  Chuck was already well-read on the car so it was enough to have a good friend, Tesla-owner and fellow car-fanatic simply say, “just get one!”

Orders can take a few weeks to a couple of month to be completed. Then the car will be delivered right to your house, if you’d like. Like a beautiful high-tech $95,000 pizza!

When asked if there were any surprises once the car arrived, all the guys concurred “only good ones!” Though Travis did point out that, while not a big issue for him, some owners apparently get pretty worked up that a car of this caliber doesn’t have cup holders for the rear seats.

FAQs

How far can you go?

The Model S generally has about a 260 mile range between charges. New owners tend to initially overplan for frequent charging stops. Tesla attempts to calm this  “range anxiety” with the comforting reminder that “after just a few weeks you’ll find that range becomes predictable based on your routine and driving style. Model S tracks your efficiency as you drive and displays it on the Touchscreen so you’ll always know how far you can go.”

Travis puts a lot of miles on the car everyday. He plugs it in every evening when he gets home so he has the charge he needs to get through the next day’s driving. Ashok and Chuck think they charge their cars “probably once a week?”.

How do you charge it?

You can just plug it into a wall outlet. Seriously. But that’s a very slow way to do it. A 240 volt  outlet along with the Mobile Connector provided by Tesla is the preferred method of charging for most Tesla owners. Tesla suggests, “If you have a long commute, we recommend configuring your Model S with Dual Chargers and ordering the Wall Connector. This pairing will allow you to recharge quickly overnight.”

While Travis uses the Wall Connector for his daily charging, he says that when he and the family have travelled to Chicago they get there on the charge from home. Once at the hotel he plugs the car into a standard outlet in the hotel parking garage. They spend a couple of days walking the city and the car is fully charged by the time they are ready to drive home.

There is an ever-increasing network of 125 Tesla Supercharging stations building up across the county. The Superchargers will charge the battery with 100 or so miles in about 35 minutes — not far off from the typical road-trip pit stop, especially if you want to grab some food or have kids with you. The density of Superchargers isn’t quite in place in the middle of the US to allow Midwesterners to set out on a spontaneous trip across the country, but the company is adding more stations all the time. The closest Superchargers to Fort Wayne are in Angola and Mishewaka. The other Indiana locations are in West Lafayette and just south of Indianapolis. Tesla, of course, offers an easy to use and constantly updating map on its website of charging options all over the US.

Where do you get it serviced?

Servicing is a rare occurrence claims Tesla (and owners agree). As per Tesla Motors, “Forget oil changes, smog checks, and spark plugs. Model S requires just one routine check up each year or every 12,500 miles. We make service super easy by sending a Tesla Service Ranger to your home or inviting you to visit one of our clean, welcoming Service Centers.”

There is no service center in Indiana at this point. Each owner interviewed has experienced a “Service Ranger” visit and couldn’t be happier.  “Tesla is a customer service company, first and foremost,” raves Chuck. Sorry for repeating myself: but coming from the owner of Sweetwater, that is saying something.

And if the car needs a software upgrade? Make sure you have a Wi-Fi signal and you easily update it yourself, just like on your phone.

The factors that already attract Tesla owners to the car just keep getting better. The newest version of the  Model S, available this February, will have all-wheel drive and offer an “autopilot” package: visual and aural warnings of an impending collision as the car automatically takes evasive actions, a radar to “see” through snow and fog, and an ultrasonic sonar that can detect even a child or dog in danger of being struck by the car. Last but not least, the new model goes from zero to 60 miles an hour in a smidge over 3 second.

No big surprise, two of the three guys have already placed their orders for the new model. They can’t wait to show it off to friends, family and lots of curious total strangers.

You could speculate that a Tesla owner enjoys the thrill of the high-tech fast-lane of life. Or maybe, just maybe, the real appeal in driving a Tesla is that it actually forces you to slow down, connect with other people, and have some time to talk about something you love. In this day and age, that’s a rare occurrence of immeasurable worth.

Sources:

Real Life.

This is a post a wrote for my food blog. But it was really more about writing (and Life, with a capital L) than about food. So I’m sharing it on this site as well.

Real Life. For Five.

I hate to bring up the Gwyneth thing again (really, I do), but — bear with me, this is going to loop back to food eventually — remember her big news? Anyone with a passing interest in pop-culture (or anyone who fairly regularly just ends up stuck in grocery store lines staring at magazine covers) probably recalls all the cover time Gwyneth got in March 2014 with her announcement that she and her rockstar husband, Chris Martin of Coldplay fame, were going through a “conscious uncoupling”.

Yes… that’s really what she called it. And we can debate whether or not this is a ridiculous phrase and/or why any of us should care. But I’ll tell you why I cared (beyond the fact that I have this ongoing obsessive love/hate relationship with her and her cookery and lifestyle endeavors).

I cared because I couldn’t avoid it. Within 24 hours of the People Magazine cover about 15 friends of mine texted me photos of the cover with comments something along the lines of “OMG! yr BFF gwyneth copying you again!” or “r u 2 cosmically linked or what?” and a lot of “you? gwyneth? WTF?!”

Because in February (ahem, a month ahead of you, GP!) Bill and I made the same decision after going through a long, long process of a similar version of what I can only imagine she and Chris went through. Granted, ours was a much less beautiful-people-celebrity/rockstar-super-rich-lifestyle version — more of a middle-aged-okay-in-the-looks-department-mortgage-three-kids-old-Volvo-lifestyle version.

Regardless, no matter your lifestyle or the specifics of your situation, I know that it is not an easy decision for anyone to make or an easy process for any family to go through. While I agree with many of  the Gwyneth detractors that the “uncoupling” part of her phrase is kind of goofy, I must admit that the “conscious” part really struck me . I honestly don’t think there has been another single decision in my life into which I have put so much mental energy. And I expect to continue to do so every day for as long as I can imagine — even though the decision was made many months ago and the specifics and logistics have been settled for almost as long.

Divorce is such a short word for something that is so NOT short. It is complex, labor-intensive, guilt-ridden, sleep-depriving, logistically-challenging and, whether they want it to or not, has some kind of effect on practically everyone you know. It’s kind of like having a baby, but without the occasional cuteness that helps keep you plowing ahead through all the horrible parts (see above list – kind of similar, right?)

But what you are left with at the end of the day is … you are still a family. No matter the direction you think you may be heading, you still have your own history, your family customs, your shared experiences — the stories and values you want to pass on to your kids. For us, food, cooking and sharing meals with friends and family was, and will continue to be, a big part of the memories we share with the kids and the future memories we want to make with them.

Unfortunately, the fun, healthiness, and enjoyment of making food and eating together got pushed to the wayside. Like in any stressful time of life, many days we just struggled to get through the day. Bad habits come back easily. And anything requiring some effort has to take a backseat to the things that MUST get your energy. Some days I was just beyond thrilled that I managed to get homework done, give the 6 year old a bath (finally), AND had clean clothes for them to wear to school the next day. AND had gone 24 hours without breaking down in tears  in front of some random stranger. (Sorry about that, Mr. Pharmacist.)

We are slowly getting back on track. We almost always sit down and eat both breakfast and dinner together (either Bill with the boys, or me with the boys); there’s always fresh fruit and vegetables of some kind in the house; I only forgot to feed them lunch one time this month…. It gets a bit better all the time. But we have a ways to go: Bill thinks I’m buying too many unhealthy snacks; I think he’s taking the boys out to eat too much. (We are both right).

So, we discussed this post before I wrote it and agreed that we want to use this to goad us into getting our food time with the boys back on track. Back to the more conscious (see how I impressively brought that full-circle?) way of eating that we used to value and enjoy. Back to making food and family time not just a priority, but a fun and rewarding part of every day.

Next post I’ll talk about some Real Life revisions to our rules. And we’ll tackle:

  • snacking
  • dining out
  • and, feeding growing boys (i.e., “Wow. Did you see how much he just ate?”) while still having money left to pay the internet bill

Stick with us. We need all the support we can get.

(A People Magazine link if you simply must know more ….  or if you’ve never heard of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.)

 

Stars.

GREAT article in The New Yorker about John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars). I had not read the book, nor was I particularly intending to — but now I must. And I want to watch all his YouTube channels and follow him on Twitter and drive down to Indianapolis and just follow him around. (That sounded kind of weird and stalker-y, didn’t it?).

Please read the article “The Teen Whisperer: How the author of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ built an ardent army of fans.” from The New Yorker, June 9 & 16, 2014 by Margaret Talbot.

I found it a fascinating look at the juxtaposition of traditional YA book writing and the new communities and ways of communicating that exist now only because of technology. Yay technology. As the article’s author says “For many young people today… reading is not an act of private communion with an author whom they imagine vaguely, if at all, but a prelude to a social experience — following the author on Twitter, meeting other readers, collaborating with them on projects, writing fan fiction. In our connected age, even books have become interactive phenomena.”

That’s a pretty awesome evolution. (Says the gal who 30 plus years ago lost herself in every Judy Blume book and didn’t even know anyone else in her little town who was reading, well… books, frankly.  To talk about the book with another girl? Wow. Maybe even interact with the author herself?! Beyond cool.)

 

 

Period.

I enjoy Paul Mackie’s Pop Culture Lunch Box because I like the way he writes, he does some cool things, and often — not always (e.g. Shangri-La) — I like the same stuff he likes.

One post in particular sticks with me — much to my surprise it made me think “Why, Paul’s not just a good writer, he must be an awesome dad!”

In it he explains that — since he grew up up one of three boys  — the arrival of his daughter inspired him to maybe try to understand girls a bit better. How to understand girls better, you might ask? Why, read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, of course. I love that reasoning.

Judy Blume a Must Read for Pre-Teen Girls (and Boys, For That Matter)

Pre-teen me was a huge Judy Blume fan — I still vividly remember buying Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret at the Glenbrook Mall bookstore (and feeling so clever, but a little guilty, that my mom thought it was a-young-girl’s-guide-to-praying type of book). I hadn’t thought much about Judy or her books in years – except to continue to be surprised that her books still keep her on the American Library Association’s  list of “Most Challenged Authors“. Seriously? Still?

However, not too long ago I was driving along half-listening to NPR and out of the blue JUDY BLUME herself was speaking — about Margaret and all her other characters — and I had to pull over because I started crying. Wow. Where did that come from? I guess there’s still some pretty deep rooted emotional reaction to her writing in my desiccated ole middle-aged heart. And if that’s not a great compliment to an author, I don’t know what is.

Now, Paul, since I grew up one of two sisters and have shockingly ended up mom to three of these goofy creatures called boys — what’s the one book I should read to get a handle on their psyches?