Love notes

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Above: Notes for my husband. Below, notes for (a portion of) the rest of the world:

Attention, Persons Who Have Active Uteri and Also Have Plumbing (actual plumbing) Issues:

My apartment’s head maintenance gentleman, and father of three young ladies, has informed me that feminine hygiene products are the culprits of my toilet’s semi-regular insistence on regurgitating all over the place.

If you too have this problem, particularly if you live in an older abode, you might consider switching to the “wrap and toss” method of disposal during that time of the month.

This has been a public service announcement from the People Against Being Toilet-Vomited Upon.

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Questions from Quindlen

Questions that arose while reading Anna Quindlen’s “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir of a Woman’s Life,”on the morning of my 36th birthday, drinking a cup of hand-poured, Tanzanian dark roast with hints of oatmeal raisin cookie and tangerine, or so I was told. Context, like batteries, not included:

  1. Why are the older, wiser people in my life the ones who are focused on money and business card titles?
  2. How much will I think of who’s not there?
  3. What friends can I imagine being there, in this kind of way, in 30 years?
  4. What piece of furniture do you wish you had?
  5. What will really make you happy? Not what looks good to others, or what will please your parents, or what will let you keep up? Just you.
  6. What mistakes do I think my mother made? Where do I think she went right?
  7. And when you’re the daughter who prefers boyshorts and high waists, with the thong-wearing mother?
  8. What good thing would you give up to have another good thing?
  9. What if you worry, but are too tired to figure out how to fix it?
  10. What do people see when they look at my face?
  11. Where’s the cat?
  12. When do you stop trying to make the checklist, or how do you get beyond it when some of the most important people in your life tell you you haven’t done well enough at it?
  13. Do women find loss of fertility a relief?
  14. To whom are we obliged? Those closest to us or those looking in the proverbial windows? How much do we do because someone really needs it, and how much because of a desire to make a more certain impression?
  15. Why am I the one seeking job leads or advice from women younger than me?
  16. Shouldn’t I have more time?
  17. I’m so tired and I know exercise will help, but I’m too tired and I hurt too much — how to stop the cycle?
  18. What is my personal symbol of opposition to pernicious pessimism?
  19. At 36, struggling for strength feels pathetic; perhaps in 30 years it will feel noble?
  20. Does the “big is beautiful” culture celebrate unhealthiness?
  21. Will being physically strong make one feel more emotionally strong?
  22. What’s your headstand?
  23. Why wait?
  24. Who is stopping us?
  25. No, seriously. Who and what stops you from being happy?
  26. How can you define someone else’s happiness?
  27. How can women of 60 communicate this lesson to women of 30?
  28. What is old?
  29. Why do you choose to change or keep your name?
  30. How old do you feel?
  31. “Fine” is not five years away: Why bother?
  32.  This only addresses being beholden to your immediate sphere. What about the larger world?
  33. Even before kids, do women feel crazier than men? Perhaps in preparation?
  34. How do you balance independence and safety?
  35. How much did you keep to yourself? Did they know you disagreed with their choices?
  36. Is there that past-80 place where we can celebrate youthful optimism?
  37. What is “security” anyway?
  38. Would you rather settle down, settle in, or just settle?
  39. Are these really the cosmic questions? Will they be happy? Generous? Good?
  40. Do you enjoy being a parent? Did they enjoy it? Will I enjoy it?
  41. Do we make our parents laugh? Do our kids make us laugh?
  42. Do you want to be like your children? Is this the ultimate sign of parental success?
  43. Are you able to see the glass both ways?
  44. Who does the guilting?
  45. What examples of feminism were set for me in my family?
  46. Would you give up your place in the sun if it meant another critical mass of women were being recognized?
  47. How good or bad are the golden era, the good old days? What’s the tip of the scale from bad to better?
  48. Do women opt out? (Ally McBeal)
  49. Are older male partners not retiring?
  50. Why have I never been able to ask for a raise or promotion without feeling like an asshole?
  51. How is this need being communicated to men if women are far likelier to read this book?
  52. Is this really “normative”?
  53. But again, would you give up your success?
  54. Yes, women have to work harder to even get a chance to try, but the ones who succeed, who do earn a spot for themselves, would they give up their places if meant more women could be on the front page, in the boardroom, on the ballot?
  55. What does it mean to be of a faith?
  56. Because of what you learned, or because of rebelling against what you learned?
  57. How does Judaism foster a searching approach, or even a relationship, to spirituality?
  58. Ignorance is bliss, who whose?
  59. If you regularly attend religious services, why do you? If you did, but stopped, why did you stop?
  60. Can you substitute family, or culture, for church?
  61. What do you believe in?
  62. What about great women?
  63. Who has had great thoughts about you?
  64. What does it say that we see our usefulness primarily in our professions?
  65. Does equality mean women feeling less harried/oppressed and men feeling more?
  66. What’s better: To have a dream that never comes true or not to have a dream at all?
  67. Better question: What’s worse?
  68. Does it make someone less than if the “big things” haven’t happened yet?
  69. What is your plan B?
  70. If your career is your passion, aren’t you one of those people?
  71. Did I blink and miss my chance?
  72. How many old friends do you have who know you? How does friendship evolve over the years? How does age, marriage, family, moving, affect it?
  73. If someone is destined to die young, but is not yet on the way, do you ever speak of it?
  74. Not everyone wants to plan for the worst. Do I?
  75. How would you want the people you love most to die? Quickly, painlessly, and in their right mind, or slowly to give you time to do and say the things you want, even if there’s never really enough time?
  76. How well do we know our family members?
  77. Does my mother think I can be generous for its own sake?
  78. Do we need to have experienced loss in order to value something?
  79. Should we not take precautions?
  80. How do you stop someone being like me, choked and bruised by fear of what might happen?
  81. Living longer than your parents did — What perspective does that offer?
  82. “The human being is the only animal that thinks about the future” — Boon or curse?
  83. I always appreciate old people who exercise, but why do I wait?
  84. How far into your past can you truly feel?
  85. Is choice always a good thing?
  86. What can we still do? (Don’t say “anything.” That’s a lie)
  87. Do you want to die before or after your spouse?
  88. Which one of them will be harder to take care of?
  89. Do I still have the time and room in my life to become more before the spectre of my life narrows?
  90. Imagine yourself at 85. Who are you? What does your life look like?
  91. How do you want to die?
  92. When it’s not how you imagine, can you see what’s beautiful about it? Can you quiet the voices inside, shut out the ones outside, the ones saying shoulda, coulda, woulda, and appreciate the place you are, the day, the life you have?

 

Trigger Warning Christmas Carols

In honor of the season where people trot out the same “‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ is ‘rapey’ (important concept, stupid word) insights that we’ve been hearing for years (every version I’ve heard gives me much more of a coy/playing hard to get/reputation-concerned feeling), we bring you #TriggerWarningChristmasCarols
 
“‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is about affirmative action. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer – elder abuse. And ‘White Christmas is obviously racist.'”
“‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ – infidelity.”
“Nobody cares about that anymore.”
“Slut shaming.”
“Yes!”
“‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ – stalking.”
“Yeah, it feels like sexual harassment. Imagine how you’d feel if someone was saying that to you.”
“I’ve been trying to think of one for ‘Frosty the Snowman’.”
“It exposes children to the concept of death. Think about how traumatizing it was when Mr. Hooper died on ‘Sesame Street’. Or ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’, which isn’t about death, but you think it is.”
I thought it was about drugs.”
“Santa Baby – capitalism.”
“Deck the Halls should come with a trigger warning for people named Holly.”
“No. They’re special snowflakes, but they don’t get a trigger warning.”
“Santa Claus is coming to town is just about a guy who should be on the sex offender registry list.”
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Skinny bitches

I remember, years ago, overhearing a couple of my cousins saying, You’ll never be as skinny as you are at your wedding.
I like to know what they were on, because I am three months out from my wedding, I am stress eating like a motherfucker, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to have to change my name on my wedding invitation to large Marge. You could fit two skinny brides in my wedding dress.  

Bitches. Not my cousins, I love them, just the people who are skinny at their weddings.

It would be way too bridezilla of me to demand that all the guests gain 40 pounds before October, right? I’ve heard of insane brides demanding that her wedding party ladies go on a cleanse, so this would be the same thing just opposite… right? 

No? Just checking. 

why ‘herstory’ must be banned

My blood pressure rises whenever someone uses the term “herstory.” 
Number one, it’s incredibly annoying. 

Number two, the word is not “hisstory,” as in “his story,” it’s “history.” Think of it as “hi! story!” as in “hello, there is a story here.” That’s where the word comes from: Estoire, story, chronicle. History is a chronicle of stories. 

Number three, the way to advance women in history is to write more of our stories and keep on doing it, not to put women on the short bus of the chronicles of time. 

Number four, see number one. 

let’s create an old white man sexist jackhole bracket, and other good ideas

Huffington Post senior political reporter and politics managing editor Amanda Terkel today tweeted about a disturbing conversation she had with a professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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Ms. Terkel has not, thus far, named the professor. There are many calls for her to do so and I echo them.

However, should she choose not to, as is her right, I suggest we create a bracket of all the male professors at Medill (and for good measure, probably white and of a certain age) and let students and alumni vote to narrow down the candidates.

(Grammarly wants me to replace the period at the end of the previous sentence with a question mark. No, Grammarly, that is not a question, it’s a declarative statement. Adding a question mark would make it upspeaking. Clearly, you have a sexist algorithm that wants to force me, a woman, into upspeaking). 

Obviously, said bracket would group all men (again, presumably white and of a certain age) under the collective umbrella of rude, sexist, unenlightened, unaware of privilege, etc. etc. so on and so forth.

But we’re all cool with that, right?

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(just gonna assume you’re all doing this. don’t know who that blonde is, but she can take off).

My first instinct was to tweet this idea, but I figured some people just wouldn’t appreciate a good* sexist white man joke/feminist barb**.

So I decided to blog it instead.

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* The definition of good being subjective

** Is it a feminist barb or a barb at feminism?

 

check your privilege

There’s a lot of focus on privilege these days, and too often, it’s focused on other people’s privilege. There’s an expression: Check your privilege. It means (I think): “Consider how good you’ve got it.”

At least, that’s what it means in the best of intention. Most of the time it sounds like “Shut up, you’ve had your turn, take a seat.” Frankly, it is among my least favorite expressions. I find it rude and counterproductive.

And not because I disagree that there are plenty of people, myself included, who need to be more aware of advantages they haven’t earned, but because in an instance where a phrase like “check your privilege” is being used, “privilege” is being thrown like a weapon. I don’t find that useful.

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And what really gets my goat, burns my biscuits, twists my knickers, takes the jam out of my doughnut, is how often I see the “privilege” grenade being thrown by people who are very privileged.

A few years back, I found myself embroiled in an abortion debate with a group of college friends. A theme of the argument was that the men in the room needed to recognize their privilege and hold their tongues. Understandable, yes, that the women should want the floor on that particular matter. But as the discussion moved to tangential subjects, I couldn’t help but point out the obvious:

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We were all, men and women alike, very privileged. We had the standard ones that are always cited: White, cisgender, heterosexual. But we were also all American citizens, able-bodied, college educated (some of us with advanced degrees), employed, mentally capable, etc. etc. people in our early 30’s.

As I see it, many of us have our privilege and we have our disadvantages. I am very privileged in many ways, and less so in others. There are ways in which some people might perceive me as lacking privilege, whereas I can see certain advantages. And it’s good to recognize our own privilege, to recognize when we can use it to serve others, rather than ourselves. And yes, absolutely, many of us need to improve our sense of perspective.

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But what is not good is when we start being the privilege police, often based on surface information only. What’s not good is telling someone “what you think is wrong, and you think what you think because of what you are,” rather than asking “why do you think what you do?” or “look at how we’re different”rather than “where can we find commonality?” That abortion debate I mentioned? We all agreed on 95 percent of the points. It was the five percent that escalated things into an ugly argument.

That happens. It happens a lot. And it seems to happen often when we focus our energy on what someone else’s privilege is, and on how that person is misusing or abusing said privilege. It happens when we use someone else’s privilege as a weapon against them, and when we presume the root of someone’s perspective, and say things like “check your privilege,” while overlooking our own, and shut down the opportunity for open discussion.

As this very insightful young lady says, worry about yourself. 

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