Sandra Tsing Loh's thoughts on the road.
According to The Wisdom of Menopause by Doctor Christiane Northrup, these are exciting times for middle-aged women. 48 million strong, we're not just America's largest demographic group, but possibly the next step in evolution. That's right. Northrup feels our multi-modal female brains - which become hormonally fired-up during menopause - may be better at dealing with our modern world's stresses than... um... the other kind brain.
And it sometimes feels true. In my non-profit, I work with really smart, talented, work-from-home moms. Unlike Marissa Meyer's Yahoo employees who are trading their sweatpants for officewear next month, we remain proud denizens of the flextime world. We continue to fluidly email and conference call and feed and chauffeur our children - sometimes all at the same time.
Indeed, in talking with a consultant the other morning, who in the middle of our discussion of K-12 STEM was narrating her and her son's walk to preschool... it struck me-the degree to which there is a whole underground "flextime" clock in this city.
I find the morning phone conference window is between about 8 and 9, when work-from-home moms are either doing their brisk morning walk, or their slow school commute. In my case, I am in the quote-unquote "office" at 8:03. I've dropped my daughters off, I'm beginning my 26 mile trek from the Valley back to Pasadena, the headphones go in, mind's clear, all is well. All is well that is until approximately 8:53 when I scream up my driveway and abruptly end any conversation, since the giant mug of coffee I've been nursing since 7:10 has left me in serious need of a bathroom break. It can be startling for those being suddenly cut off.
My friend Carol, an editor, has a phone conference window that begins at 2:15, when she goes to pick up her twins. By 2:15, she has been home alone for six hours and is bursting with insights. Because 2:15 coincides with what's sometimes my second driving window, we begin empire building on the 134, but then at 2:55 her twins get into the car, she's unreachable until 9:30 p.m., and no one has taken notes. Until they design a different kind of steering wheel.
And even that depends on the headset - if you remember to drag it off your desk. Even then, no guarantees. I've slammed the car door on my headset, got it twined around my car keys, watched in horror as one of the earbuds fell into my afternoon travel mug of Soda Stream. So while we 48 million middle-aged, multi-tasking women are, as Doctor Northrup suggests, bettering the planet, perhaps our next stage of evolution is not gills but IPhone ear buds. Just thinking out loud. As usual.