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Friday, March 29, 2019

For KP

This week, my former boss and long-time mentor is retiring. Here's the speech I gave at his retirement luncheon.

There are only a few moments in my life that I can remember very clearly, and one of those was just over 12 years ago, when I interviewed with KP and JB for what has become known as the data specialist role within our team. Even though I knew them already from getting signatures on trades so I could fax and scan them to our counterparties, they were still as intimidating as we all know them to be. KP hotly contests that he is intimidating, but we all know it’s true.

I remember sitting in KP’s office on 34, since he had that extra wooden circular table, in what would eventually become “my seat,” and telling KP and JB that I didn’t know how to do half of the things in the job description they’d provided. I was specifically very scared of being responsible for knowing the performance of the fund and the index. I had no idea then that performance would be the thing that would keep me up at night all these years later.

I joined Loomis in 2005, but didn’t join this team until March 2007, just before the bank loan market was the hottest it probably will ever be. I was sending out easily over a dozen bank books a week. We had the SLF and Lux, and SLF II, Credit Opps, and two CLOs and 1199... and then the bottom dropped out from underneath us all. I had my son Max on January 1, 2008, which was perfect timing if you want to spend the first year of your child’s life in a panic about whether or not you’d continue to have a job.

But somehow we persevered, and I learned about defaults and we argued the definitions of recovery, and things improved. We came up with the “promises” section of our presentation. Then we got permission to develop SFRFI, and I started sitting in on more and more presentations. That wooden circular table had become the staging area for all of the marketing books KP needed printed out for every meeting and roadshow. Soon enough I got to hit the road too, but it was hard for KP to accept at first. He eventually became what he always has been for me: my biggest supporter and champion.

For years, whenever someone asked me what I liked best about my job, the answer was a simple one: I liked the fact that you and JB were the smartest people in the room. I was always going to learn something new when I was around you, whether it was in front of a client or in one of the many, many lectures you would give me over the years. I trusted that you were working as hard as you could to do the right things for our clients, and for our team, and that was something I wanted to be part of. When performance turned down again in 2015, you once again walked me through the resiliency of bank loans, and then we had our best year ever, leading us to win the Lipper Award, one of the proudest moments of my career.

We haven’t always agreed on everything. For example, no one will ever really believe me when I tell them the story of the car accident we were in on the way to a meeting at Natixis, because the version you tell is better. And while you will tell everyone that you’re a registered Independent, we’ve had plenty of heated discussions over the years. I haven’t always been able to get you on my side, but I like to think I’ve made some progress.

KP, thank you for all that you’ve done for me and for this team. Personally, it’s pretty amazing that I’ve almost made it to the end of the elementary years as a full-time working mom, while also experiencing so much amazing growth and opportunity, and I know that wouldn’t have been possible without you and JB. Thank you for always making time for us; the time you invested in each of us has made all of us better, not just at our jobs, but as people. What you have built goes beyond AUM and performance, even if those are your primary goals. It’s also about a team of people who through disciplined choices and hard work, can do the very best we can for our clients.

Thank you for everything, and you will be dearly missed.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Fifteen

At the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco
Today, Hannah Ruth, you are turning fifteen.

And seriously? That's enough for me. Just stay right here, as you are, right now. I'd be perfectly happy to keep you here forever. You, on the other hand, have bigger plans.

You started high school after delivering an amazing speech at eighth grade graduation. You were a brainiac (#HSMforever), an astronaut and a sky diver. You continued to sing all over with the Troubadours and HaZamir. You produced "Emotional Baggage" to cap off your Oak Hill Drama experience, and we saw many shows together. You traveled to New York City and Israel without your parents, but camp remains your home, and your friends there are your family.   

You cried tears of happiness when we finally got a dog, and after Zimriyah, and at the Kotel, and tears of stress in honors math and after theater auditions. You rock a double French braid and are always up for new clothes. You've made so many new friends in high school, and it's amazing to me how you just collect people who love you. Not as much as your brother loves you though, and I appreciate how you go out of your way to show your love for him.

You have so much coming ahead for you, and I know you're going to rock all of it. We talk just the tiniest bit about driving and college on the horizon, but I know you'll be ready for all of it when the time comes. For now, I hope you enjoy something in each day, even if it's just belting out show tunes in the shower. I love you, Hannie. Happy birthday.

(You can also see letters for ages seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Eleven

On the glass floor at the top of Willis Tower in Chicago
Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning eleven.

And you're kind of "meh" about the whole getting older thing. You realize that you're having a pretty amazing childhood, and that adulthood isn't all it's cracked up to be. But you also can't wait to get your birthday present, so getting older will have to come.

This year you started your last year of elementary school. You were Prince Charming and a Guy in Tie, and will soon be a barkeep and a Lion King. You were a singing, two types of guitar, flute-playing wonder. We marched for our lives together. You had another epic summer at camp, and we all know Gurim was robbed at Zim. You finally made it to Mount Rushmore and the world's biggest ball of twine, driving 5800 miles with Dad. You got an iPhone and used it to text your grandparents.

You are all things YouTube and film-making (be sure to like and subscribe!), and “did you know” political facts and conspiracy theories and, as of this past week, a taxi-driving alter ego, Daniel Dingleschwaber. You have your own sense of style, lately favoring jeans and accessorizing with bracelets, and of course, your long hair. You want to know everything, and you want to share what you know even more. Your sister’s support means everything to you, and she’s still your best friend, followed closely by our new puppy, Shira.

So much lies ahead for you. Fifth grade graduation and starting middle school, a full seven weeks at camp, and so many more videos to be made. I'm so proud of you, and grateful that I get to be on this journey with you. Happy birthday - I love you, buddy.

(You can also see letters for ages three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Wearing My Identity Again

Since receiving my first necklace adorned with a Star of David in fifth grade, I’d worn Jewish-themed jewelry in some form or another fairly consistently. I’d begged my parents for that first necklace for months, with every weekend trip to the local mall. The triangles were crafted from the letters for the word “love,” which I thought was the perfect expression for my love of Judaism. Wearing it each day strengthened my Jewish identity. My friends at camp and youth group wore Jewish jewelry too, and comparing styles (mezuzahs, chais, Hebrew names and hamsas were all common) became almost as ubiquitous as our rounds of Jewish geography (“wait, you know Isaac from the Midwest region too?”).

Over the years, my collection expanded with bat mitzvah and Hanukkah gifts, cool finds at local craft fairs, and a trip to Israel while in high school. I had rings and earrings, and could find a way to weave Jewish jewelry into practically every day. I kept it going all through college and my first full-time job too. At that point, it felt like something to latch on to as I entered the “real world” and left behind the Jewish bubbles I had maintained for so long. By then, my most treasured piece was a hamsa with a bit of turquoise that my boyfriend gave to me shortly after we’d begun dating.

Then one night a few months before that boyfriend became my husband, our apartment was broken into, and all of my jewelry was stolen. We didn’t have much worth stealing then, and most of the jewelry I had wasn’t particularly valuable, but the sentimental value was priceless. My fiance and I scoured pawn shop logs, but the police thought the thief likely threw all of it away upon closer inspection. That idea simply broke my heart.

Friends and family knew how sad I was, and over time, replacement jewelry was purchased with the best of intentions, but I didn’t wear it much. It didn’t hold the same meaning for me, while new pieces in my life did. My engagement and wedding rings, in particular, were precious, and later, a circle pendant that my husband gifted me upon finishing my MBA. I wore it when my son was born, and as he got older, he often looped his fingers through the pendant. I’ve worn that necklace almost every day for the past decade.

The break in was many years ago, and things have changed. Unfortunately, we now live in a more politically charged environment, and wearing a visible sign of my identity feels important again. It took awhile for me to find something that expressed my Judaism but felt like it fit with the 40 year old me, but I finally settled on a delicate bracelet with a Star of David in the center. I thought it might feel awkward wearing it at first, but I noticed how quickly I got accustomed to it. The bracelet felt like it was always supposed to be there. I think that it probably was.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

It's Been a While

Visiting Zurich
Hi friends.

I haven't written anything since the kids' birthday letters back in January - so long that my new laptop had never even been to blogger.com before. The last school year was a blur of constant activity, and most of the stories I wanted to share didn't feel like they were only mine, so I stopped writing. I know I feel better when I make time for it though, so hopefully I'll make more of an effort this coming year.

This summer was actually fairly quiet for me. Both kids were at camp - Hannah for seven weeks, Max for three and a half - and then Marc and Max took a really big road trip (Max vlogged all about it on his YouTube channel). I only had one work trip, to Zurich and Amsterdam, which was very exciting but ultimately still a work trip. The kids and I took a quick trip to Cleveland to visit my parents. I read a fair amount, binge watched all of Friday Night Lights, and spent some quality time with our new puppy, Shira. Overall, it was good to have some rest, and I feel ready for fall and a return to routine.

Hannah's about to start high school, Max is finishing up elementary school, Marc's in his second year of cantorial school, and I'm...still the same me? Still evangelizing about bank loans, still trying to convince myself to exercise, still Broadway-obsessed (seeing Jagged Little Pill, the new Alanis Morissette-based show, twice this summer was a highlight), still drinking Diet Coke (though not after 3 pm if I want to sleep!). Still trying to have it all.

I've struggled with writing here because I'm not sure if anyone bothers to read blogs anymore. I mean, I read them all the time, but it's not the same anymore. I miss my blogging pals and opportunities to see them and read about their lives, and I miss sharing my own life with you. I hope there is still space out there to make this effort worthwhile. But it's hard to start again after such a long break, so maybe now that I've written this, I can somehow start again.

And photos of all three of my kids now, just because I can. Yes, I'm one of those annoying dog moms now too.

How are you?

Hannah at camp
Max at camp
Shira and one of her favorite toys

Friday, January 5, 2018

Fourteen


Today, Hannah Ruth, you are turning fourteen.

This post is harder to write, knowing how many of your friends now read my blog, but you still wanted it written. I appreciate that you know we both get something out of this exercise. After all, you're grown up enough to see this from my point of view, which is crazy enough on its own. Grown up in so many ways, and yet so far still to go, and high school looming.

So, thirteen. I will never stop saying it: your bat mitzvah was one of the best days of my life, and I think it was for you too. Our day in New York City seeing "Waitress" with Sara Bareilles, eating cheesecake at Junior's and somewhat-enjoying a Starbuck's "Unicorn Frappuccino" is hopefully going to become an annual tradition (without the gross drink - iced coffee instead). You were Ginger in "Zombie Prom" and a conspirator in "The Tragicomedy of Julia Casear," and loved singing with the Troubadours, HaZaPrep and at Junior Districts. You won a poetry slam at school, and went to your first protest. Camp is life, and you live 10 for 2, but still manage to cram so much into the 10.

You have moved on from Converse to Adidas, and wear string bracelets until they break. Your eyeliner game is strong. You are telling me in March that you would go on to win Zimriyah in July, as if there were any question (and you did). You are mostly straight A's but accelerated math sometimes kicks both of our butts. You are too many friends to count, but your Bowen #squad remains true, even with one of you now in Spain. You are always there for your brother, and he is always there for you.

My wish for you as you grow another year older is that you believe in the worth of your own voice. Not just its capacity to hit certain notes with true clarity, but that you believe your words and opinions are always worth being heard, no matter who the audience may be. Speak, sing, chant, belt, cheer, scream, and when needed, wail. And know that I always want to listen. I love you so much, Hanniebelle. Happy 14.

(You can also see letters for ages seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen.)

Monday, January 1, 2018

Ten


Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning ten.

Ten feels completely and utterly ridiculous and totally appropriate at the same time. You are not the little boy that Facebook's "On This Day" feature slays me with on a regular basis, with memories of your adorable *and* not-so adorable behavior from years ago. But 10? Dude, that sounds just so very old for my little buddy to be.

Nine was the year where you and I finally seemed to figure each other out, and where the sarcastic edge to your humor got a chance to blossom. You chanted Ashrei at Hannah's bat mitzvah beautifully, and started both guitar and flute lessons. We saw "Wicked" and watched the witch fly during "Defying Gravity," and you were a zebra and a hyena in "The Lion King" this summer. You received your siddur, loved camp, participated in a magician's act and won over 500 tickets in a claw machine.  You love singing, with a solo at Zimriyah, Guys in Ties, and especially anything by Imagine Dragons while doing Karaoke during school choir. I really hope you write that song you'll sing your whole life long #thegreatestshowman.

You're so proud of the fact that you've watched all of "Stranger Things" and it wasn't even that scary. Your biggest goal right now is to become a gaming YouTuber, and you watch several of your favorite channels every day (look for Max's channel in 2018!). You love to discuss Minecraft and Roblox and Harry Potter in excruciating detail - honestly, you love to discuss EVERYTHING in excruciating detail. Your hugs are still epic and you've developed a reputation for them. You have more friends than ever, but your sister is still one of your best ones.

And now you're 10. You're ready for it, and so am I. I can't wait to see you fly as John in "Peter Pan," and I hope you know that however high you want to fly, I'll always be here to help you soar. I'm so glad you're you. Happy birthday, buddy. I love you.

(You can also see letters for ages three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine.)