March 24, 2010

Looking at (the) Work Through Rose-Colored Glasses

My second computer monitor has been randomly turning pink for the last few days making me look at depreciation schedules, tax returns and other pertinent client information through this tinted hue. A few days ago I prepared a Rental Real Estate partnership return. Those are my favorite. I have prepared them and reviewed them almost exclusively during my tenure at KPMG. There was an income item which I knew goes on a separate line and without question, I put it there. The incompetent manager that seldom reviews my work asked me to unlink my workpapers (which took half a day to link) and when she finally took a look at the return she couldn't understand why I put the income item on this line. If there's anything I learned at KPMG and from the book, "How To Work for an Idiot" that a partner there (at KPMG) let me borrow (and I'm yet to return, or finish reading), it's pointless to argue with someone that doesn't understand or (even worse) doesn't care.

I brought this up to the partner and while he asked me the reason for my question, he got tied up and we moved on. I reclassed the income item, but it wouldn't let me rest so I emailed my former colleagues, who all responded quickly and confirmed that I was correct in my logic. One of the people was the former partner, who through the grapevine heard of my question. He didn't fail to point out that it was a good question and provided some industry perspective. I thanked him in an email and he followed up. While the current partner that I work with still disagrees with me and left the item as he deemed fit, I know I did the right thing.

Regardless of what anyone tells you, the people that you work with are the most important aspect of your job. When I started at KPMG, we worked insane hours, but we had a great group. We helped each other and one of the partners that we worked for actually cared about his people. He trained his staff, he supported his staff and he worked as late as his staff (if not later). Yes, that included Saturdays AND often Sundays. Yes, that included 28 hour days. Yes, that included sending you home when he knew it was your anniversary. Yes, that included sending you home at 2 am (an hour earlier than everyone else because you live in NJ). In return the respect was reciprocated. Unfortunately, he is one of the few, but by the same token, the only one I keep in touch with.

He sent an outline of the new Health Care Reform Act and it's tax ramification to his entire "old" team, who had left the firm due to many different factors. If I could work for a boss like him my entire life, I'd be thrilled especially with the team that we had. The hours seemed more bearable and the happy hours more fun. The hours I work now pale in comparison, but so does the team, the work and the experience. When the partner leaves at 5-30-6 (and the rest of us stick it out till 7:30) it'd be nice to hear him say, "Good Night." Again, I'm being overly sentimental and looking at everything through the pinkish tint of my monitor, but I don't want to "make it work," I want to understand what I'm doing and the reasons for me allocating income between Lines 1 and 2. I want to be a skilled professional not a trained monkey.

March 19, 2010

My Mom, The Style Icon

My mom was recently published in Piper Weiss' blog, My Mom the Style Icon and now Piper has landed a book deal with Chronicle Books due out in 2011. The exciting news is that Piper has contacted me to use my mom's photos and story to be published in her anthology. Now, if only I can come up with the perfect descriptions to these pictures, come up with the right words to describe the kind of woman she was and more importantly the amazing mother that she will always be for me.

I just got my hair blown out in preparation for the six birthdays that we are celebrating this weekend and the mafioso looking hairdresser, says to me, "I bet you your mom has beautiful, thick hair like yours" and for the first time in my life I've walked out of a hair salon in near tears. My mom had amazing hair that changed with seasons and wardrobes and has been worn in every style imaginable - long, short and medium; curly, wavy and stick straight; in a braid, down and in an up-do - all before chemo had it's nasty effects on her hair amongst, other things. She was beautiful inside and out and to quote my dad yesterday, "Бедненькая, как она на мучалась." My mom will forever be remembered as a woman of incredible courage, undying wisdom, amazing taste and infinite strength. She's so much more than a style icon, she's an icon.

March 16, 2010

Komen for the Cure -

We now have a sponsor me page on Facebook and a personal fundraising page on Komen. Please support us with your generosity, your time and your kindness.

Komen for the Cure - In Loving Memory of Leonora

March 15, 2010


On Friday hubs and I went to see Red on Broadway with Alfred Molina. I've been a huge fan of Molina ever since seeing him in Fiddler on the Roof a few years back with my mom. Red, didn't disappoint. It is a remarkable play by John Logan that highlights the life and work of famous American artist, Mark Rothko. The dialogue was splendid and I want to attempt to find the screenplay to read. There was much banter in the dialogue referencing other art works, artists, poems, writers, musicians, etc. The names all famous, Monet, Manet, Nietzche, Vivaldi Rembrandt, etc., yet it saddens me to think how little our generation knows.

We know how to work the iPhone, the PC, the remote control, GameBoy and PS3, but we don't know the literary classics, the artistic masterpieces or the classical tunes that have been around for generations. Our parents' generation knows it all, read it all, heard it all and seen it all (if only in books and magazines). Their social gatherings are so much more fun then ours. Someone always play(s) [an instrument], everyone sings, anecdotes referencing historical events, figures, etc are told and it's so much more than our regular debauchery of stuffing our faces and drinking.

We are living in the information age and yet most of us are very uninformed. Yes, we have the news, sports and weather at our fingertips. Yes, we can google anyone, get directions anywhere, download any iTune and still know nothing. Reading has become almost taboo. Few people I know of my generation actually play an instrument (as a hobby) and even fewer know the difference between Bach and Mozart (myself included). There are a gazillion books that I want to read and often have the likes of "Time Traveler's Wife," "Russian Debutante's Handbook"(current reading), "The Lost Symbol" thrust in my face. Yes, they are fun to read and pass the time on the evening commute home, but they can't be compared with the likes of World Class Literature.

We are a product of our times and our parents and grandparents are/were a product of theirs, but there's so much more that we can learn from them, from history and from the classics. We can all become a little more cultured, a little more inspired and a little more appreciative of things that came before us, that gained worldwide recognition and have surpassed the test of time much more so than their contemporaries who die out after one song, one book or one picture.

March 5, 2010


The first year of life is usually that of many milestones. As our friends are having kids and we'll be attending five 1st birthdays in the next month, we've witnessed firsthand the milestones in the first year of life - sitting, eating, standing, first teeth, first steps. In the first year of death, however, there are also many milestones that you have to overcome. It's your first birthday without your loved one, your first new year, your first year "celebrating" that person's birthday without them. Eventually, it'll be the birth of your first child without them. It's about remembering and yet about moving on, somehow. Today, would have been my parent's 27th wedding anniversary. Next month is my mom's birthday. Each day is one more day that she's not here, that I miss her and that I have to learn to live with only her memories.
March 5, 1983
(unfortunately, 4 people in this photograph are no longer with us)

March 1, 2010

Brick by Brick

So back to the SHS, the new space in SoHo is the new home of this "young" and trendy synagogue. A seven year lease has been signed and the first year rent has been completely covered by generous donations from (mostly young) philanthropists and the designs are in place by a famous designer/architect whose work is on display at the Guggenheim. While I missed some of the pertinent details (stay tuned), from my understanding, the SHS will be writing it's own copy of the Torah. They've split it up into sections, where each section will be written with the help of young patrons and a $1,000 donation, followed by a "Stroll for the Synagogue," since Jews aren't exactly known for their athleticism. Having been able to raise over $1,500 for Race for the Cure in a matter of a few short weeks this summer, I have no doubt that with your help, we can raise $1,000+ for the SHS. I think it is important for Russian Jews to get involved in this project and help expand the synagogue, the Jewish community and to meet and mingle with other smart and successful people. While the "Brighton Shore" has been getting quiet a lot of publicity, I don't think it's the kind of publicity that most young Russian Jewish professionals that have been educated in this country, entered the workforce by landing great jobs in various fields, started their own businesses and succeeded in this country would like to get. Every race, religion, nationality comes with a stigma, and it is in our power to change it - to prove "them" wrong and to think outside our comfort box.

To me, it's been amazing for a long time that having been in this country since age 9, I don't have many American friends. I grew up here. I speak English (with a Brooklyn accent as opposed to a Russian one). I graduated college, completed my Master's, worked in a global firm and yet all of my closest friends share the same background. At the SHS Purim event this Saturday, we met an amazingly great, soon to be married couple, L and A. She's from Long Island and A is from
Kansas. Hubster and I were both surprised that there are Jews in Kansas. The fact that they are from Middle of Nowhere Kansas or middle LI has nothing to do with anything except out surprise and our instant liking to each other. Despite the fact that we may have scared them a little when we drove them home to their Lower East Side apartment with a shovel in the backseat, I can't wait to reconnect with them at another SHS event.

What's cool about the SHS is that beliefs and traditions aren't forced on you. As a woman, you can wear pants and as a man show up without a yarmulke and you are not made to feel as an outsider. On the contrary, you feel welcomed and glad to be surrounded by people who are equally proud, but for better or worse, have joined the modern and not Orthodox world. I want to think outside the box, brick by brick, please join me.

Sent from my mobile device

The SoHo Synagogue

I've been on the SHS mailing list for some time, but Saturday's Purim event was the first that hubby and I were able to attend. The SHS is a synagogue is unlike any synagogue you've ever been to. For starters, it's across the street from the rear of Bloomies SoHo (a very fitting location). It is also in the former Gucci Store space, which is a bit ironic given Gucci's signature "Christmas" stripes. We weren't sure what to expect, but we were really glad that we came. We met some really interesting people and the cause is definitely more than noble.

Being former refugees from the former Soviet Union, we were always very aware of being Jewish, but never allowed to practice there. Growing up in non-religious families with our grandparents speaking Yiddish, making gefilte fish and teaching us the importance of picking a Jewish spouse. The diaspora was/is a crazy phenomenon and threw Jews all over the world. We ended up here, half of our families ended up in Israel, Canada, some stayed behind. What I liked the most about the SoHo Synagogue was that you understand where people come from and that most of us aren't religious, but are very proud of our heritage and would love to get involved.

I want to get involved. The events of 2009 have inspired a charitable spirit within me. As Hillel is famously quoted, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" SHS throws a lot of fancy parties in top-notch places, but it also teaches you traditions that we have long forgotten or maybe never learned. How great is it to spend a Pesach Sedar amidst 20 and 30 somethings that are smart, successful, talented and dressed to the T. (I'm not sure what that means).

Religion is a sensitive topic and I could go on for hours, but I've been trying (with many interruptions, stupid work) to finish this post all day and it doesn't look like I'm anywhere near done. I will definitely attend more events and support what I believe is a wonderful cause. So, my proposal of the day, is support something, help someone. You don't have to help my cause(s) (although I'd greatly appreciate past, current and future donations), but join a cause, spread the word, it's not about money, it's about time.