Midwestern nice

Sometimes a peach is just a peach

Is this just a midwestern thing? I find it – odd.

I have, more than once, given something – in this case, a dozen peaches from the case we bought from the Tree-Ripe folks – to a friend only to be asked how much they owe me.

Nothing! I answer.

No, really, they insist, how much?

It’s – a gift, I say, while thinking, Isn’t it obvious that an unprompted delivery of an item is not considered a shared expense but a gift?

I didn’t ask them beforehand if they wanted to split getting a case of peaches.

I didn’t ask, “Would you like to buy some peaches from me?”

I showed up at their front doors with a dozen peaches.

I had mentioned the peaches to them before, when I told them about the peach truck and how great the peaches were, and when Mr T got ours, we thought, That’s a lot of peaches we can share some.

So they asked me how much money they owed me and I said nothing no really I mean nothing.

I guess they wanted to be sure that they were not offending me and that they had not misunderstood the previous conversation – but here’s what I want to know: Has anyone ever answered, “That will be ten dollars” to a question like that?

Britney, I’m sorry

I’m ready to start taking names

When I first started writing this post, it was before all the news about Britney and her conservatorship.

All I can think of when I read those stories is how you don’t hear about men being treated that way and about how history doesn’t change.

Isn’t this how women – inconvenient women – have always been treated?

Witches. Whores. Crazy.

Whatever.

When women don’t agree with the men, the men need to get them in line.

When women challenge men, men need to get the women in line.

That, by the way, is what Mr T’s father told him to do to me when I challenged him once. I mostly kept my mouth shut around Mr T’s dad because he punished any challenge to his jerkiness by taking it out on Mr T’s mom, but one time, Father in Law, FIL for short because I don’t want to waste time thinking of a name for him (also – have you noticed how most of the women in the Bible don’t have names? Does that make you as angry as it makes me?)

Anyhow, FIL had said something to my lovely niece and FIL was wrong and I was tired of it and I challenged him and – well, it ended with FIL calling Mr T into his bedroom to tell Mr T to – yes – GET ME IN LINE.

Which Mr T laughed when he told me the story because Mr T and I?

We are aligned on the fact that his dad was a jerk. Now, six years after his parents’ death, we are even more aligned but WOW HAVE I GOTTEN OFF TOPIC.

Anyhow.

I apologize to Britney Spears.

To Monica Lewinsky.

To Jessica Simpson.

To Katherine Heigl.

To Shannon Dougherty.

To any woman who has been mocked and derided in public because she is “difficult.” Or doesn’t conform.

Or, like Britney, who was clearly troubled and needed help and we – I – I cannot speak for the rest of you, but I did this. I did this and I am ashamed. I laughed at her and I mocked her. I mocked her as she shaved her head, even though I knew that when women cut off their own hair, it’s a sign of distress.

I absorbed the story that these women were not doing it right and deserved the way they were being treated.

They were challenging the status quo!

And we can’t have that, can we?

I was going along with the story as I was seeing it instead of thinking for myself and wondering why Britney and Katherine and Shannon and Jessica and Monica and any disagreeable woman might be labeled as such.

If you stand up for yourself – if you counter the prevailing narrative, you will be shot down.

I am sorry that I didn’t defend my fellow women. But I will defend them now.

It IS about the #@%#& pockets

And about sex discrimination. Did I mention sex discrimination? SEX DISCRIMINATION

A lovely afternoon at the ballpark, right?

Thirty minutes before we left the house for a baseball game – the first one we have gone to in – wow, I can’t even remember in how long, but since the Before Times, Mr T said something about he didn’t think I could take a purse into the ballpark.

Which – who would make such a stupid rule?

I checked the website.

A purse is allowed – a single-compartment bag 9x5x2.

Which is a size that I, owner of many purses, do not own.

And I had no intention of spending the next 30 minutes trying to buy one. I mean, where would I even start? There’s a Walgreen’s two blocks from my house, but does Walgreen’s sell purses?

I had wanted to wear a sleeveless dress because

  1. It’s comfortable and my new rule is “No clothes that hurt”
  2. It was warm so I wanted sleeveless
  3. See Number 1.

But – the dress had no pockets.

Without pockets, where do I put my

  1. Phone
  2. Glasses case
  3. Migraine med
  4. Handkerchief
  5. Emergency chocolate
  6. Wallet
  7. All the other stuff I don’t even think about that lives in my purse and that goes with me when I leave the house?

All you women are laughing because you know the real question is, “Even with pockets, where do I put these things?”

Which indeed was the case.

I changed my clothes plans to jeans (ick – clothes that hurt and too hot for the weather) and tried to find places for my stuff.

The glasses case, the chocolate, and the wallet had to stay home.

The phone fits only about one third of the way into my front pocket. It fits better into my back pocket, but still only about halfway, meaning it would be easy to steal, so it has to go in the front.

Test putting your phone into the pockets of a man’s jeans.

Yeah.

Now are you angry?

Wait.

It gets better.

When I had to go to the bathroom, I couldn’t leave my phone in my pocket, either the front or the back.

Why?

BECAUSE AS A PERSON PULLS HER JEANS DOWN, A PHONE WILL FALL OUT OF THE POCKET ONTO THE FLOOR OF THE PUBLIC RESTROOM.

THANK YOU BREWERS.

Mr T said, “I think you might have a legitimate case of sex discrimination.”

I think he might be right.

It’s not the power behind the throne, it’s the housekeeping behind the throne

Our system is built on unpaid labor

We do it because we like it, right?
Source

A VP (a male VP) sent out a piece about allyship the other day where he talked about how important it is to bring women into the workforce. Something about economic development.

And I wanted to yell, “Because women’s work counts towards GDP only when it’s for an employer. But that doesn’t mean they’re not working when they’re at home!”

If a woman cleans an office, she’s paid. If she cleans her house, she’s not. If she works at a child care center, she’s paid. If she takes care of her own children, she’s not.

That’s a huge issue by itself and bigger than what I want to talk about.


Let’s narrow it down.

As if male executives could reach their positions without someone at home handling the details. For free.

There was a famous divorce case years ago. A GE exec didn’t think his stay at home wife deserved half his money.

Spoiler: SHE DID. She did deserve it.

He claimed his wife she hadn’t helped his career. As if he could have gone to work every day and worked late hours and taken business trips with a minute’s notice without someone at home cooking his food and washing his clothes and raising his children.

Some men are such jerks.

She had also managed his social life and his work social life. She had attended work parties with him and whispered, “That’s John and Jane Doe. Kids are Karen and Chad. Chad just won the sailing regatta.”

She deserved the money for attending his work parties alone.

She also deserved it for supporting him at home alone.


A CEO talking about everyone returning to the office 100% of the time was annoyed that everyone didn’t want to return to the office 100% of the time.

He made a snarky comment about how he didn’t want to commute, either, but that it was part of the job. Another exec made a comment about having to leave the laundry for the weekend.

They are so out of touch. It’s not about the commute. It’s not about the laundry.

It’s about the tiny details of everyday life – helping a first grader log onto the computer and find her class. Helping an elderly parent connect with a doctor online. Watching the kids because daycares are not accepting new customers because daycares cannot find employees.


This thought is not original to me, of course. Helen Lewis wrote a piece for the Times about unpaid labor – why were previous generations more productive than this one?

Because there was unpaid labor taking care of all the details at home.


Our system depends on people – mostly women but more and more, it’s men – dads – doing the work as well.

But the system doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

The System – let’s give it a name – wants to deny that it exists. It wants to pull everyone back into the office and work everyone to death.

Hmmmm. I can’t decide if I am more angry about women being exploited – if I am angry at The Patriarchy – or at the workers being exploited – if I am angry at Management.

Wait.

Why choose?

I am angry at both.

But mostly at The Patriarchy.


An author I follow – I can’t remember if it’s Caroline Criado Perez or Katrine Marcal (who wrote, “Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?”) or someone else – found this story, “Why making women retire later comes with hidden cost: State picks up £5,600 bill for the caring of elderly relatives that could have been covered by women if they were not still working.”

Note that the title is not, “Why making MEN retire later comes with hidden cost: State picks up £5,600 bill for the caring of elderly relatives that could have been covered by MEN if they were not still working.”

  • Reforms which raised retirement age for women have not saved taxpayer money
  • For every woman working 30 hours a week in sixties, it costs £5,600 in lost care
  • Women who continue working reduce care they provide for parents, study found
  • A study of 7,000 women by King’s College London was published yesterday

And then there’s this: https://www.rent-a-daughter.com/, a home health care agency.

The assumption under everything, it seems, is that women will take care of everyone.

And when they don’t take care of everyone, then everyone gets cranky because now it’s women’s fault that taxpayers have to pay more money to take care of the old people that women should be taking care of for free.

It’s not The Patriarchy’s fault for assuming that women will work for free.

I hate The Patriarchy.

Source

I used to be a history denier

In my defense, they lied to me

A suffragette being arrested. I didn’t know that women had gone on hunger strikes and had been force fed – which is horrible – to get the right to vote. I didn’t know because I was not taught in school and I didn’t look for more information because I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

I used to scoff at the idea of “Women’s history.”

What a stupid thing to study in college, I thought.

And doesn’t calling it, “Women’s history” make everything else, “Men’s history” by default?”

What a stupid thing to major in! What kind of job do you even get with that?

That’s an odd question for an English major to ask, but whatever.

I didn’t think about witches and Bad Women. I thought it was a Bad Thing to burn witches at the stake, but I didn’t think about the story behind witches – what made a woman a witch? Who decided what a witch was? Why were witches always women? Why weren’t men declared bad and worthy of burning?

(Hahahahaha! Because men had the power and women didn’t is why!)

I didn’t think about the Bad Women in mythology. They were just Bad, right? They had done bad things – I assumed – and hence people were scared of them.

Wait.

Men were scared of them. Men were scared of these women.

Why?

Then I read Circe, by Madeline Miller. And my view of one of the Bad Women in Greek mythology changed.

Amazing what happens when women are the center of the story and we see things from their point of view.

Then I saw this story.

Remember how Medusa is bad?

No. She was not bad. She was sinned against. She was raped and she got her revenge. I am now totally Team Medusa.

Medusa With The Head of Perseus by Argentine-Italian artist Luciano Garbati

A 7-foot tall statue of Medusa holding the severed head of Perseus will be installed in Manhattan, across from the NY County Criminal Court, the location of high profile abuse cases including the recent Harvey Weinstein trial. I never knew this before but Medusa was stalked & raped by Poseidon and then blamed for it, and cursed by Athena with the snake hair & turning people to stone thing. She was banished and then Perseus killed & beheaded her. This statue “inverts the narrative” as a commentary on the Me Too movement. It will stand there until April. Look how badass this statue is.

Rafferty Funksmith

And there was Ophelia.

Ophelia was not crazy. (I wrote a whole thing about it here.)

That was always the narrative I had heard – Ophelia was a nutter who killed herself because – why? We don’t know? We don’t know!

Well guess what there is probably more to the story.

If I had written a paper about this in college, I would have called it, “On the Apparently Stupid, Pointless, Senseless Suicide of a Female Character Who Once Again, Exists Only In Relation To A Male Protagonist.”

But now, researchers have figured out that she was probably pregnant. The flowers she was handing out? She had rue in that bundle. Rue causes abortions. It’s illegal to sell it in the US.

Theory is she killed herself because Hamlet got her pregnant and then blew her off. It was probably the same old story – come on baby baby yeah I promise I’ll pull out but hey if anything happens it’s cool we’re getting married anyhow right?

(I am looking for the meaning of rue in her bouquet and so many of the interpretations online are that it was about adultery, repentance, or regret. I cannot understand how someone cannot read that rue was used for abortions and not jump immediately to the obvious conclusion. Perhaps it’s men writing the pieces I am finding?)


In school, I learned about the men – but I didn’t learn about the women.

Part of this, of course, is because of this phenomenon:

“Historians are men who write history.”

(This line really should be “Historians are white men who write history,” but that part is understood.)

(I am sad to say this image is from a book called, Christ the King, Lord of History, A Catholic World History from Ancient to Modern Times.)

It hasn’t been until recently that I have learned about the women artists and scientists and composers and mathematicians.

They were always there.

But we were not taught about them.

(In the same way that we were not taught about the internment camps in WWII. And how we stole – not peacefully acquired land – from the Native Americans. And about the lynchings. And the sundown towns.

I had dinner with a friend — YES! I HAD DINNER WITH A FRIEND LAST NIGHT AND IT WAS AMAZING! and discovered she had never heard of a sundown town before. She also did not know that it used to be illegal to sell houses to Black people. We are so ignorant.

And how Black people are twice as likely as white people to be killed by the police. Etc. Etc. Etc. Funny how the people in power tell the stories that keep them in power.)

But women were behind the technology of GPS and discovering the double helix of DNA and the technology of the internet. Women were behind sending humans into space. Hybrid car batteries. The discovery of pulsars (something about stars that is important – I am not sure exactly what).

These are only a few examples – there must be hundreds of other cases where the women were behind the research and were not given credit.

And who knows how many more there could have been if women hadn’t been the ones taking care of children and doing all the housework. It’s not like women choose this. The men in power – their fathers, whoever – didn’t let them go to school. Married them off young to men who kept them pregnant until they died.

I scoff no longer at women’s history.

Wait.

I scoff no longer at history.

Instead, I am strengthening and focusing my wrath on those who have hidden history from me.

When all you want to do volunteer for literacy and racial justice causes but you can’t get Medicare until you are 65 and can’t afford to buy health insurance on the open market so you are stuck working for The Man

This is how corporate America traps you

Yesterday, I got to see my former boss and two of my former co-workers. I hadn’t seen them since December 2019, when I lost my job at that company.

I loved that boss and those co-workers. When that job was good, it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

That boss is one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. We will be friends forever. It was wonderful to work for someone really smart (trust me – or maybe you already know this?) it is really rare to have an intelligent boss. It is also rare to have a collaborative boss who says, Yeah, that might not work but let’s try it! And if it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else!

Boss and I had so much fun. I miss working with him. I miss it so much. He spoiled me for all bosses who might ever follow him.

And my co-workers were equally lovely. Honestly, once you get used to working with super bright people, it’s hard to go back.

After I had been at that job a few weeks – it was in the R&D group of an engineering company, one of the engineers asked me how it was going.

Me: OMG I am the stupidest person in this group!

Engineer:

Engineer:

Engineer: You seem bright enough to me.

Me: Hahahahaha!

Old friend, later, after I told him the story: Yeah, he didn’t understand that what you were really saying was, I am so relieved that I am no longer working with complete idiots.


Which – was the case.

I had left a toxic job for the new job with the R&D engineers.

I started looking for a new job the week after I started at toxic job. Toxic job was an internal move that they had known about for a month and yet, when I got there, they didn’t have a space or a computer for me. That was one of many prompts for me to start looking for a new job.

The board fired the toxic job CEO a few months after I quit, so I am not making this up. The CEO was awful – some people quit by not coming back from lunch.

And, understandably, with such awful leadership, people were not invested in the work and put in no extra effort. Even more understandably, the company did not retain good people. The people who remained were not particularly motivated and although there were a few bright lights, there were also some that were – not.


So anyway. Good Boss and Good Co-workers and I had lunch and it was so fun to see them.

I explained that I had taken a huge pay cut with my new job. (Although I don’t know if it counts as a pay cut if you go from unemployed to employed.)

Me: It’s OK, though. I knew that’s what the job paid and I took it. It has health insurance. I have a job. I am very fortunate. It’s a good problem to have. But – I am being paid a low salary but am doing high-level work. That’s what I don’t like. I don’t want all that responsibility and stress.

Good Boss: Maybe there’s a path for growth? Maybe they’ll see how great you are and raise your pay?

Me: I don’t want my pay to increase to match my responsibilities! I want my responsibilities to go down to match my pay!

And that, my friends, is the dream.

None of us are happy with our jobs now, all for different reasons.

But we all want the same thing: as little work as possible plus health insurance.

Work that we turn off as soon as we walk out of the office.

We are all done. DONE.

Good Boss: Yeah, I’ve looked into working at Home Depot.

Co-worker: I think the mistake many people make is asking, “How much do I need to survive?” The real question is, “How little do I need to survive?”

(They are both very smart engineers, making very good money.)

Like I said. We are DONE.

These are My People.

I’d rather switch than fight

I don’t mind fighting The Man, but – a nice woman who has cut my hair? – that’s completely different

Those are not blonde highlights. That’s red plus the gray that I come by naturally. This is not a good way to look at a person’s hair, I don’t think.

I finally got my hair done.

Finally.

I found a new hairdresser – vaxxed, close to my house, very very reasonable prices.

Nice.

She’s really nice.

I like her.

I asked for blonde highlights.

I didn’t think I needed to get any more specific than that because – blonde is blonde, right?

We all agree on the definition of “blonde?”

I thought so.

But then she did my foils – and left me in the chair for 30 minutes.

She didn’t put me under a hairdryer.

Which was weird.

Because I have never not been put under the hairdryer after I’ve been foiled.

Perhaps the technology has changed? After all, it’s been a year and a half since the last time I had my hair highlighted.

But then after she washed out the chemicals and cut my hair and dried it, I looked in the mirror.

“It looks – red,” I said.

She nodded. “The lighting is kind of weird in here. I was trying to match the blonde that was left at the ends of your hair.”

But the cut – the cut was great.

Maybe the color would look different at home.

The color did not look different at home.

I thought, I’ll just make another appointment for next month and this time, we will discuss what “blonde” means.

I thought, I don’t want to wait another month.

I thought, I don’t think she knows how to do color.

I thought, But she does a great cut.

I thought, I could just go to SuperCuts tomorrow and get the highlights there.

I thought, But SuperCuts won’t tell me if the stylists are vaxxed.

I thought, But they know how to do highlights.

And this was where Texan faced her moral dilemma.

I thought, But the CDC says as long as I’m vaxxed, it’s OK.

I thought, What if it’s an anti-vaxxer cutting my hair?

I thought, I WANT HIGHLIGHTS.

I thought, But – what if it’s an anti-vaxxer?

Then we got the male perspective.

And then Mr T asked, “Why don’t you tell the stylist who did it wrong that you want your money back?

And I had no answer except that I hadn’t even considered that option.

He said, “When the new stylist I saw accidentally cut too much off, I protested and she evened it out but it was much shorter than I wanted so she told me she would NOT charge me so I tipped her anyhow but a lot more than I would have tipped otherwise.”

He asked, “When you saw it wasn’t what you wanted, why didn’t you just refuse to pay?”

And I thought, “Men and women are so different.”

And I thought, “Or maybe it’s just me – maybe I’m the big chicken here. Maybe I’m the one with the problem. Maybe every other woman in the world would have said, ‘Nope. Nope. No way. I wanted blonde and that’s not blonde. I’m not paying.'”

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe every other woman in the world could tell the stylist who had just spent two hours on her hair – including a really good cut – that the color was bad and she refused to pay.

But I don’t know how to do that.

In praise of chingona women

I am proud to come from a long line of badass women

After I hit my vax date a few weeks ago, I flew out to see my mom, whom I had not seen in over a year.

I arrived to find a house in a state of transition.

My mom has decided she wants to redecorate.

For most people, “redecorate” means a little bit of paint, maybe some new furniture.

Nope.

Not only is my mom painting, but she is also fixing the things that have bugged her since she bought the house.

What you see above is part of the process of her recentering and replacing the door frame at the bottom of the basement stairs. The builders did a crummy job and it’s always bothered my mom, so she decided to fix it.

A neighbor lent her the tools that she didn’t already have (my dad left a decent workshop) and she looked up the process on youtube.

Yes you read that right: My mother taught herself how to remove a door frame, recenter the space, which includes adding some drywall and/or plaster on the side to be extended and accounting for the UNEVEN WALL GOOD LORD DO ANY BUILDERS TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR WORK ANYMORE?, size the new doorjambs, miter the corners, and install them.

I, however, will be spending this holiday weekend reading books, watching movies, and eating bonbons.

I hope you enjoy your holiday as well, either as a productive chingona or as a lazy one.

If they do it with you, they’ll do it to you

The trauma of being betrayed by a co-worker

Source: popcrush.com

Over a year ago, I lost my job in a re-org.

Now, one of the Evil People from Old Job has turned up at New Job.

And she wants to talk to me.


Until the re-org, I was happy at Old Job. I had a great boss and fun work.

Then my company was bought by a German company and the new owners brought in all these GE people (if you know anything about GE, this is where your blood starts to run cold) to run things.

Instead of getting European-style vacation, we got GE madness and meanness.

I was moved away from my great boss into a different group with a new VP, who henceforth shall be known as Regina (although at least Regina George was smart – VP Regina is just mean).

VP Regina, who came from GE, had all kinds of new rules that she did not articulate until after they were broken, like, we couldn’t expense the in-flight wireless on a work trip (even though my Great Boss had always approved that expense) or work from home (even though with Great Boss, I worked from home whenever he traveled, which was about 30% of the time, because he was the only person in my office I worked with – everyone else was in another state or Europe).


VP Regina inherited her admin, Gretchen, from the previous VP, Molly, who is nice.

Molly learned on Christmas Eve that the new CEO (from GE) was hiring a new VP.

Yes, the CEO called Molly on Christmas Eve to tell her that he was hiring someone to replace her.

Regina, new VP from GE Regina, would start at the end of January and that Molly would be demoted and be reporting to Regina.

So you see why CEO had to deliver this news to Molly on Christmas Eve.

This is who these people are.

They call people on Christmas Eve to tell them they are being demoted.


Gretchen became Regina’s admin.

When Gretchen worked for Molly, she was fine. I would talk to her and had a pleasant relationship with her.

But when she became Regina’s admin, she also became Regina’s spy, reporting on what my co-workers and I said and did.

I know our environment was nothing like East Germany or the Soviet Union, but there were a lot of very hushed conversations and wild wavings of hands to warn of the Presence of Gretchen the Spy.

After a year, Regina eliminated my position.

Let me re-phrase that: After a year,

  • Where Regina never gave objectives to anyone on the team
  • Where she visited our office only two times (she was in another city)
  • Where she called meetings for 7 a.m. the day before
  • Where she canceled 7 a.m. meetings at 10 p.m. the night before, which meant that unless you were checking your email that late (I was not – on principle, I refuse to work that late), you didn’t know about the cancellation until you showed up for the meeting. (And then she didn’t even explain why she had cancelled the meeting – I would have accepted a medical or family emergency, but she didn’t even apologize)
  • Where she told me the night before the team meeting that she was going to have me report to the person I had helped hire and train – a person who had no management experience. Where she told me the night before only because we happened to be walking back to the hotel together. Where if she hadn’t told me that night, I would have found out the next day when she announced her new org structure in the team meeting. That is, I would have found out in a room full of my co-workers that the VP was making the person I hired and trained – the person who had no experience managing – my boss.
  • Where she had even before making this org change considered making the person with only eight years of work experience my boss.

After a year where I was miserable and didn’t know who my boss was or what I was supposed to be working on (so I kept doing what I had been doing),

Regina eliminated my position.

(It was pretty clear to me by then that Regina did not like me, for whatever reason, and I was job hunting.)

Evil Gretchen was her henchman, collecting my computer and credit card and checking to make sure my vacation records were accurate and when she found a mistake in my favor (a mistake she had made), rather than let it slide, she made darn sure she got it corrected so I would not get an extra $1,000.

People I respected at Old Job were horrified and tried to use their power to save my job, but to no avail.


I got over it.

I got a new job.

I have PTSD from Old Job – I am still concerned every time my new boss wants to talk to me and I don’t trust compliments.

Regina used to tell me, “I talked to [whomever] and they really like the work you do!”

She always sounded puzzled when she said that, though.

And when she let me go, she was vicious, telling me everything I had done wrong in the past six months.

She had not shared that information with me at the time, when I could actually have done something about it.

But in general, new job is fine and I have moved past the Regina/Gretchen experience.


Last week, I saw in a presentation that included photos of new employees.

I thought I saw Evil Gretchen on one of the slides.

But maybe I saw it wrong? Please let it be wrong.

I texted a friend at Old Job immediately.

Turns out Evil Regina had fired Evil Gretchen last summer.

And now Evil Gretchen is an admin in my group.

Crapcrapcrapcrapcrap.

My heart started racing and I started to sweat.

And then I thought, Texan, you are working from home. You haven’t even met your boss in person. And your team is 100% supporting a group that group VP really has nothing to do with.

The chances of running into Gretchen were almost nothing.

How would she even know I work at New Job? I don’t do anything with VP.


I calmed down and carried on.

And then on Monday, a Skype message popped up on my screen.

It was from Evil Gretchen.

I hit “ignore” immediately.

DO NOT DO THIS.

Turns out if you hit “ignore,” the sender knows you are ignoring her.

Just leave the message up until it goes away by itself. Then the sender doesn’t know if you aw it or what.

That was a mistake.

She messaged my again.

I hit ignore again.


Even if you ignore a Skype message, it will appear in your email under the “conversations” section.

I tried to ignore the messages from Evil Gretchen.

I tried.

Narrator: She failed. She did not ignore the messages.

But like Eve and the apple, I HAD TO KNOW.

I opened the messages. The second one said, “You don’t want to talk to me!”

And I thought, NO I DO NOT! I’M GLAD WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER!

The first one said something like, “Can you believe it?”


You mean, can I believe that drama from my past has come into my present?

Can I believe that karma is nasty enough that I cannot put that old job behind me?

Yeah.

Yeah, I can believe it.

Because it’s the time of covid and everything stinks.


I answered her.

“I’m sorry,” I wrote. “I am super busy. I can’t talk. And honestly, I want to leave all that behind me. I still have PTSD.”

I hit send and thought, Well, at least THAT’S over.

She wrote back.

“Let me know when you have time to talk!!!”

And I thought, “Did I not make myself clear?”

Because what men want to do with our bodies is more important that what we want to do with them

We have breasts so that men might have something to fondle and breast cancer is way worse on men than it is on women

Spanish women aren’t having it. They are done with misogyny.

I read a great piece by Monica Hesse about Philip Roth, one of the first writers my mom ever tried to stop me from reading. My mom took Portnoy’s Complaint away from me, so I just went back to the library and read it there.

I got no further than the liver scene before I realized I was not interested in the problems of an adolescent boy who was looking for ways to masturbate.

(Related – I am also no longer interested in the problems of rich New Yorkers. It is a bit surprising to me that so many novels with this topic are published. Good thing I get my books from the library instead of buying them. Otherwise, I would feel compelled to finish a book I don’t like or where I don’t care about the people who are distressed because they cannot get their four year old into the $45,000 a year pre-school of their choice or one of the four nannies has quit. OH THE SUFFERING.)

Anyhow, Hesse is talking about some guy – Blake Bailey – who has written a biography of Roth. The title of the piece is Philip Roth and the sympathetic biographer: This is how misogyny gets cemented in our culture. If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will.

Bailey is a fanboy who, according to this piece, “reports his delight at overhearing the ‘muffled streams’ of ‘our greatest living novelist’ peeing.”

He has also been accused of rape and the publisher stopped the presses on publishing the book.

ANYHOW.

MY POINT is that Hesse quotes critic Linda Grant, who reviewed one of Roth’s books, in which

a cancer-stricken woman uses her last day before a mastectomy to visit her former professor/lover so that he may fondle her chest and say goodbye.

Grant notes that every woman she discussed this passage with burst out laughing at the preposterousness of this idea.

Monice Hesse

When I had my bad mammogram right before Christmas 2019 and had to wait until early January 2020 to get the second mammogram – the one that would tell me I had cancer or I didn’t have cancer, all I could think of was letting someone else say goodbye to my breasts./sarcasm off

No.

All I – and Mr T – could think of was, What if it’s cancer?

What if it’s cancer?

What if it’s cancer?

What if it’s cancer?

To make things interesting, I had just lost my job and we were going to go on cobra – $1,200 a month thank you very much – for our health insurance.


Is there a better name than “cobra” for health insurance? This coiled, hissing threat that terrifies everyone?


Neither Mr T nor I were thinking about anyone saying goodbye to my breasts.

Admittedly, my breasts are nothing to get excited about.

My grandmother observed that I didn’t “have much up top” and said I got that from her.

Which I did.

What I did not get from her was her 5’7″ willowy frame that even at her 50th wedding anniversary, still fit into her wedding dress.


I have to admit that in the movie Ordinary Lives, in the scene of the night before her mastectomy, Lesley Manville’s character and Liam Neeson’s character have a touching love scene, but a man wrote the screenplay. Would a woman write the same thing? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me – even a tight deadline at work has me too stressed for any of that stuff.

(Also, there’s a difference between a pre-mastectomy love scene between longtime partners and making sure that your former professor gets a chance to grope you one more time.)


Where was I?

Oh.

Right.

A male writer writing about a woman whose last act before her mastectomy was to make sure that her former professor and perhaps current lover (it’s not clear to me) could fondle her breasts.

Not for her gratification.

For his.


I am thinking – and this is a wild guess – that no woman would every write a scene like that.


I leave you with this amazing poem I discovered.

He tells her that the Earth is flat –

He knows the facts, and that is that.

In altercations fierce and long

She tries her best to prove him wrong.

But he has learned to argue well.

He calls her arguments unsound

And often asks her not to yell.

She cannot win. He stands his ground.

The planet goes on being round.

He Tells Her, Wendy Cope