Brazen Careerist Party in Washington, DC. Thursday, Nov. 11, 7pm at Lounge 201. You’re invited.

I always had this huge fantasy about how Brazen Careerist would sell for ten million bazillion dollars, and I would use the money to fly everyone I know to a huge party at some fun destination.

This is not that party. But we will be celebrating the company’s recent move to DC, which is one step closer to the company ruling the world. I can say ruling the world now that I am officially not trying to do that myself. But I’m still excited for there just to be a Brazen Careerist party.

Wait, I just noticed that there are very few opportunities for links in this kind of invitation-to-a-party post.

I have this friend who is constantly bugging me to link to her. And I say, “Shut up. My readers are not stupid. They are going to see a random link to you and think, “Penelope’s blog is going to hell.” Also, people sometimes complain to me that I have too many links to random stuff, and mostly I think, “Just don’t click on the links if you don’t like it.” And then someone reminds me about all the research I write about from Barry Schwartz and Dan Ariely about how too many choices drive people crazy, incapacitating them. Read more

It’s easy to conclude that this job market is terrible for everyone, even young people. But I don’t buy it. I think it’s very bad if you are old, and not so bad if you are young. And that we get a skewed view of the stress level out there because older people tend to run big news operations — offline and on — and really have no sense of how younger people are handling the downturn. Read more

When the kids and I moved to the farm, last Spring, the first thing we did was plant seeds. The farmer took the kids out to an open patch next to a corn field, and he planted ten pumpkin seeds with them.

I took the kids next to a rhubarb patch that has been growing for about 75 years, and I dumped a package of 300 seeds in a three-foot square area and I told the kids you can’t expect all the seeds to grow.

And this is how we started out lives together: the farmer being completely optimistic about the future and me wanting to hedge so no one is disappointed.

Here’s what happened: all the seeds grew. My vegetables mostly died because I hadn’t planted them assuming they’d need space to grow. But we had a crop of little pumpkins:

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It's time for the farmer to check to see how many of his cows are pregnant.

Here's what he does: He puts five bulls in a field with 130 cows. And the bulls have been waiting all summer to breed, so they can pretty much get all the cows pregnant quickly and then all the calves will be born in April.

The farmer runs a tight operation. Any cow that isn't pregnant now would end up having a calf later than the rest, and he wants a short calving season because then it's less work.

So this week it's time to do “pregnancy check.” The vet comes to the farm and sticks his hand into the cow's anus and he can tell. Any cow that's not pregnant goes to market.

“Goes to market” is one of the zillion terms on the farm for “gets killed.” Like Eskimos and “ice” and philanderers and “love.”

So this is what the cows look like when they are maybe pregnant.

And this is what the corral looks like.

The cows go in and then, one at a time, the farmer guides them into the chute. I am immediately attracted to the chute. It looks cozy.

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Book snobbery takes many forms in my life. For example, when I worked in bookstores, thinking my life was over because all my friends were lawyers, I spent a lot of time mumbling “Philistines!” as I reshelved A Hundred Years of Solitude under G instead of M.

But the truth is that if you reshelve a book like that to its proper spot, no one can find it. This is true of Out of the Dust, as well. (Hold it. Have you not read this book? It’s the best depiction of dust bowl life that I’ve ever read.) It’s a book for kids, written in verse. But you cannot sell any children’s books by putting them in poetry, so the world is a better place if bookstore workers (who are all literary snobs) would put the book in the young adult section.

Speaking of young adult books, I don’t think I have ever mentioned here that I still read a lot of those. As far as I can tell, the only difference between them and adult novels is that the author explains subtle emotions a little more explicitly in young adult novels. Perfect for someone with Asperger’s, right?

I saved all my childhood books thinking that I’d read them to my kids. But when I offer my girl books, my boys don’t bite. I thought this might happen, but I still carried all my books with me from Chicago to LA to Boston to LA to NY to Madison to the farm. Maybe I was hoping the boys would be gay. I think gay boys might be into reading Ode to Billie Joe. Read more

I'm deciding if I should take a sleeping pill.

I know tons of people who take them. I never understood the need, to be honest. I remember when I was in a mental ward. My group therapy was a bunch of eating disorder girls (which I was part of, but a little old for) and a bunch of grown-ups who were depressed and maybe receiving electroshock therapy. (Does this still happen? I don't know.)

Anyway, the girls' biggest problem was that they hated their family and wanted to live in the mental ward instead. (I definitely fell into that camp.) The adults' problem was that they could not sleep.

At first, I thought, “If this is your biggest problem, do you need to be in a mental ward?”

And this is why I loved the mental ward, by the way. You learn so much about life from people who are unable to live it. Read more

It’s amazing that people admit to being perfectionists. To me, it’s a disorder, not unlike obsessive-compulsive disorder. And like obsessive-compulsive disorder, perfectionism messes you up. It also messes up the people around you, because perfectionists lose perspective as they get more and more mired in details.

We can never achieve perfection — any of us. Yet so many people keep trying to reach this elusive goal and they drive themselves crazy in the process. So cut it out. Accept that it’s okay to do a mediocre job on a certain percentage of your work. If you need convincing, consider this: Perfectionism is a risk factor for depression. No kidding. Sydney Blatt, psychologist at Yale University, finds that perfectionists are more likely to kill themselves than regular, mediocre-performing people.

Here are three steps to take to avoid the perfectionism trap: Read more

I think each person struggles with one, singular thing. I learned this when I was a graduate student in English. Each writer we studied actually wrote the same book over and over again. We each have a primary question in our lives.

Rob Toomey, a friend who is an expert in personality type, coaches executives. He sees that it’s always the same problem that holds each given personality type back. ISTPs, for example, (which is the farmer's type) have trouble planning anything in the future. They lack commitment to anything long-term. ENTJs (what I am) have trouble with tact. They lack a sensitivity that many people require in order to listen.

So, anyway, I notice that the farmer and I have the same argument over and over again. And like writers and executives, the farmer has one problem: he cannot separate from X.

A problem we have, which I don't think has actually been a problem until this post, is that I'm not allowed to mention the thing he cannot separate from. So it will just be X. Anyone who has read this post or this post can figure out what X is. And after just a little while with him, I knew that the farmer did not actually need an adult relationship with a woman until he separated from X.

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I have been waking up at 4am to work. And I like it. Not only have I been writing more regularly, but also, as soon as I became committed to waking up at 4am, I became committed to going to bed at 8:30pm. And then I got a routine. And all that research about how a little routine begets more routine? Well, it's true. Because after three months of not being able to figure out how to get to the gym, I started fitting the gym in after I got the kids to school.

So today, I woke up at 4am, and started my daily tour of the web before writing. At the Huffington Post there was something about the glass ceiling. It caught my eye because I'm sick of glass ceiling BS and I wanted to see who wrote the article so I could hate her.

But the article was about politics, which I don't pretend to know very much about, and it was written by a woman running for Congress. That seemed potentially interesting. So I clicked.

Turns out it's Krystal Ball (who realizes she has an unfortunate name and addresses that in her post) who is running to represent Virginia in the U.S. Congress, and if she wins she'll be the first woman under 30 to do so.

I like that. I like the idea of young women in Congress. New perspective. New issues. More collaboration. Read more

For those of you who missed it, Karen Owen, a student at Duke University, sent a summary of her sex life to some friends, via email. The content is not safe for work, but it looks safe because it’s in PowerPoint. She has bullet points, charts, and graphs. How can you not admire a woman who can graph her sex life?

Owen’s sex life is a workplace issue. For one thing, it was the third most searched topic on Google yesterday, which means a large percentage of people were reading her slideshow while at work. But more importantly, Owen’s slides capture the shift in women’s empowerment, which is happening at the workplace and having the ripple effect of empowering women in sex. Owen’s slides make me excited about the new generation of women and how much they take their own power for granted. I’m excited to see what they will do with it.

Here are some things to think about when you read her slides:

1. She used PowerPoint in a revolutionary way.
Is there a more male tool than PowerPoint? First of all, the software is lecture-y and unconversational, which is typical for men at work. Second of all, it's been the tool of choice for the notoriously boys club career: venture capitalists and the people who pitch to them. That Owen used this male tool to talk about what men are really like in bed turns our workplace preconceptions on their head. Read more