28 Days Later, by Hilary

Sunday, 23October, 2011

28 Days Later, by Hilary

by beckerich

Post image for 28 Days Later, by Hilary

Hi there,

So I wrote this blog when I arrived home 2 weeks ago after working in California for 28 days straight.  I have not had time to post it and was going to write a new post that’s more up to date but thought I would share this little slice of my brain…

—— Where I was at 2 weeks ago today ——

It’s 2:30 in the morning and I’m wide awake.  I woke up at 1:30 with a knot in my stomach and my brain racing.  I was dreaming about work.  My subconscious still trying to stitch together any missing pieces.  Or maybe it’s just used to calculating how to accomplish the impossible. Either way… I’m wide awake and going back to sleep to dream about work isn’t really an option.

I’ve been away from home for 28 days in sunny Cupertino California launching the new iPhone 4S.  Unfortunately the only time I actually saw the sun was when I went outside to smoke a cigarette.  All of us who gather around the small area where we can smoke right off Apple Campus call it “workshop smoking”.  Because we don’t smoke during our normal lives, just under extreme pressure, which we were all in for the last month.

I have spent the last 28 days working 15 hour days.  That was pretty much the norm, some days were longer, some days if we were lucky, a little shorter.  And I’m exhausted.  I feel broken and empty.  I ate bad food, smoked to many cigarettes and drank too much wine at the end of each day.  It was our coping mechanism.  When you get back from adrenaline and stress for 15 hours straight you can’t go to sleep when you finally arrive back to your hotel at 10pm.  So it was what we all did.

Apple flew 140 of us from all over the world to Cupertino to launch the new phone and we all stayed in the same hotel.  At the end of each day there was always a group of us outside having a glass of wine and smoking cigarettes and talking about anything besides work.  There were people from Italy, Spain, France, Canada, Australia, Catalan, Germany, China, Japan, Korea, South America… and of course the UK.

Someone who works at Apple asked me why I do it.  Was it love of the product?  I had to really stop and think about that one.  Why do I put my body and soul though it over and over again.  Love of the product and Apple??  No way.  I love Apple and my computer, my phone and my iPad but I’m the least techie person you will ever meet and don’t really care that much about the progress of technology or what it brings to the world.

So what is it?

My addictive personality?  Perhaps. The one that loves adrenaline?

When I was younger I used to thrive off the stress and adrenaline.  But honestly, over the last few years that no longer appeals to me.  My body can hardly handle it.

So then what?

Is it a sense of achievement for pulling off the impossible in a short amount of time?  Again, that I used to love.  It used to bring me confidence and a sense of purpose.  Today I know that it was a false sense of both and I need something more substantial for me to feel confident or have a sense of purpose.

So then what is it?

As I get older I ask myself the same question.  Why?  Why can’t I remove myself from this insanity?  What is inherently wrong with me that at the age of 41 I’m still working 15 hour days for 21 days straight when I can hardly handle the stress anymore.  I handle it with 3 glasses of wine and half a pack of cigarettes at the end of every panic attack of a day.  I’m a shell of a woman at the moment.  There is nothing left in me and now I have to rebuild myself again.  Get my body back on track.  Apologize daily to my liver and my lungs and thank my body for getting through this.

So why?  I’m mentally ill.  No doubt.

And then it came to me.  The only answer I can come up with is that it’s the people.

When I was 22 I got my first job in a production company.  I had been trying to find myself for 22 years.  A place where I felt comfortable and where there were other like-minded people who felt and acted and thought about life-like I did.  At that point in my life I was lost.  I had just left my 1st fiance and moved back home to Minnesota from the East Coast where I had lived with him for the last 5 years.

I was not looking for it but it was looking for me.  I met this woman who ran the largest photo production company in the Midwest and she asked me if I wanted to be a P.A.  At the time I was a make up artist and loved it, but I was having a hard time tolerating all the catty bitches around me who wore too much make up and were constantly stabbing one another in the back.  So I decided why not just go for the interview.

I remember walking in the building which was an old warehouse that had been completely renovated.  It was huge and full of art deco, bright colors (it was the early 90′s) big rooms, lights and tons of people running around barely stopping to even say hello to me because of course there was no time.  Phones ringing, cameras flashing and the sound of lights popping.  There was food and drinks everywhere and funky dressed men and women buzzing around me.  I took a deep breath and immediately felt that I was home.  That these crazy stressed out people were my people.  I had no idea what I was even getting myself into before I took that job as a P.A and 20 years later I’m still swimming in it all.  And the ONLY reason… is because these are my people.  I love love love these people.

Some people find religion, ashrams, spirituality.  I found advertising.  It’s my tribe.  No matter how long I have tried to get out of it.  Thinking that it’s GOT to be something else because how can I possibly put my body and mind through this much stress.  There is just no denying it.  I walk into a room 5,000 miles away from home with 140 people from all over the world, from all different walks of life, and this is where I am most comfortable.  Where I can totally be myself.  Where I am understood and where I understand them.  We are all so different yet have some similar common thread running through us all that keeps us here.  So I guess that’s why I do it, why I will continue to do it even though I convince myself after every launch that I will never do it again.  Even though I want to be a part of a different tribe all the time.  A healthier one that saves small starving children, or who helps the homeless, or perhaps creates a better planet and awareness. I’ve tried.  Ohhhh how I’ve tried.  Everything from trying on the yogi ashram tribe, the AA tribe, the spiritual tribe, the cleansing healthy people tribe.  I’ve dipped my toe in them all and the one thing I have been reluctantly committed to for the longest in my life is the advertising tribe.  So… not going to fight it any longer.  It’s just a part of who I am.  I love it and I hate it but I still can’t seem to pull myself away from it.

I got home last night and looked at my poor husband and just cried.  I don’t feel understood here.  I feel like an alien.  A loud obnoxious American alien in this quiet English countryside.  After the crying (I’m an emotional wreak at the moment) I realize at this point I need and love both.  The yin and the yang have always been very extreme for me.  I’m either meditating, doing yoga and on a cleanse or going bananas working 16 hour days.

So I guess, until I just can’t do it anymore, this is who I am.

Though now it’s time to ground myself.  Of course I’m on a cleanse.  No wine, no cigarettes, no cheese, no white stuff and lots of yoga, meditation and long walks with Tim in the English countryside.  This I love too.  Just as much as I love the insanity of my other life.  I live two lives.  I always have.  It’s who I am.   I’m no longer going to try to change or force myself to be someone else.  I’m just going to attempt to just be.  I’m an imperfect creature, life is messy and chaotic and confusing and does not make any sense to me and I love it.  I might not be 100% happy or sad all the time and I jerk myself all over the place no matter how many times I have tried to change it.

So… today I’m peaceful calm Hilary.  The one whose heart has stopped beating irregular and whose knot in her stomach is unwinding.  I’m home and I need to ground myself and just breathe.  I’m jet legged at 3:15 am and to make myself feel better I’m cooking up some comfort food.  My favorite vegan macro corn bread from the all time greatest cook book, The Angelica Kitchen.  I’m craving some miso nut butter spread so I will make that and on the side steam some rainbow chard from my garden.

I’m going to attempt to NOT fix my life, decide I need a change or think I’m a bad person for what I just put myself through.

It just is what it is… for now ;)

I also made a parsley pesto as my garden is out of control at the moment and our parsley is the size of my house so had to find something to do with it. This is an amazing recipe for a great alternative to pesto… and it’s vegan!

I could not get a good shot of the cornbread.  It just looks funky, even in the light of day. But this is a great recipe and warms the heart and soul.


Makes 6 to 8 generous pieces, or 1 small loaf.

1 recipe brown rice (see recipe below)
1 1/3 cup rolled oats
1 1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
3 cups apple cider or apple juice
1/4 cup unrefined corn oil plus more for brushing the pan
[note: if you can't be bothered to track down unrefined corn oil, you can substitute regular corn oil or any other neutrally flavored oil]
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, rolled oats, cornmeal, apple cider (or juice), sea salt, and corn oil. Mix well using a wooden spoon or whisk.

Lightly oil a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and sprinkle with sesame seeds. This prevents the bread from sticking to the pan and adds a delicious toasty sesame flavor.

Fill the pan with batter, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool before serving.

Serve with spread of choice (see recipe for miso-tahini spread, below) and top with sprouts or grated vegetables.

Makes 3 cups.

1 cup organic short-grain brown rice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups water

Place the rice in a strainer, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.

Bring the water to a boil over high heat in a 1-quart saucepan with tight-fitting lid.

Add the salt and rice.

When the water returns to a boil, reduce the flame to low.

Cover and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the grains are tender.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the rice to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Makes 2 cups.

1/3 cup mellow barley miso
1/2 cup water
1 1/3 cup tahini

Combine miso with 1/2 cup water in food processor. Puree. Add tahini. Process. Will last for up to 5 days if refrigerated.


2 cups flat leaf parsley – stems removed

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in a food processor until smooth







{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jess December 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm

this post just made my morning meltdown (at the job that has put me on 3 continents in the last month without a day off) seem much more normal. thanks for writing so honestly.


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