Can You Imagine?

My daughter Amy recently published a book. (Yes, that was a shameless plug for this. ;-))

Her official launch party was this week, which meant we needed to make a run to Costco for beverages. Before we went, we were standing in my kitchen discussing exactly how much wine we should buy for the crowd by determining how many ounces were in a standard 750 ML bottle, and how many ounces a crowd of 100 – getting free wine -was going to drink.

During this discussion, Amy was working furiously on her iPhone, converting milliliters to ounces and doing other forms of math. Since I really, really suck at math, I looked at her and remarked how nice it was that we had the capability to do these complex equations right here and now, without mistake.

She said, “I know! Can you imagine what it would be like without it?”

Um, yeah.

I don’t even need to imagine, because I remember the days when calculators didn’t exist at all. You used a pencil and paper and did the math by hand, or used a slide rule. ¬†How many ounces in a milliliter? Dunno – better go the library to find out.

Back in those days I really couldn’t imagine a world with microwave ovens, or video games, or portable phones. But now that I live in an era with some of the most amazing devices and conveniences, I try to stop and remember what it was like without them, because it makes me so much more patient and appreciative.

Today I was pitching social media services to a potential client and he asked me what the future was going to bring. Maybe social media will be gone in 5 or 10 years, he said, and something else will replace it. I responded that I had no clue what the future was going to bring, but that wasn’t going to keep me from embracing and advocating what we need and have, right here and now.

I can imagine it’s just going to get better and better.


Women, Weddings, and WTF?

When I was ten years old, The Detroit News announced at my elementary school that it was holding a meeting for kids who were interested in becoming newspaper carriers. When I attended the meeting, I was very promptly told to leave, because I was a girl, and girls were not allowed to deliver newspapers.

The year was 1965, and that was the world I grew up in: a world where girls and women were not given opportunities and choices. We did what we were told we were allowed to do, and didn’t do what we were told we could not. Several years after this incident, when I was in junior high school, I was almost forced by my mother to take a typing class, because she told me that I needed to have a skill that would allow me to support myself. Although women were encouraged to become teachers and nurses, secretarial work was a sure-fire way for women to work if necessary, and my mother knew and accepted that.

I tried to raise my daughters differently, and to help them understand and accept that they could have, and should demand, a different world. So when my oldest daughter got engaged, my reaction was

copyright 2011 kat berger photography

Yes, this picture is me at her April wedding, telling the story of why I was so dismayed when she got engaged. Dismayed because I felt that marriage was a betrayal of all of the things I had worked to change, and a dismissal of all the opportunities she had that I didn’t have.

So when Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, told the graduating class of Barnard College last month that her generation of women “blew it”, and that equality for women was now on their shoulders, I totally understood. It was the same reaction, more elegantly stated, that I had to my daughter’s engagement. I felt that women’s equality was her burden, and the burden of her fellow Gen-Y-ers, and that marriage was an obstacle, not an assistive device.

I am hoping for the day that she and other Millennials prove me wrong, because they are going to do exactly what Sheryl Sandberg told them to: they are going to lean in. Their husbands or significant others are going to help, so I don’t have to hold up a sign that says WTF? at anymore weddings.


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