When they reach from the grave to hurt you today

When being dead doesn’t matter to alcoholics

Wedding 14 cropped

There are so many things I regret in my life. So many things I have done to people to hurt them that I wish I could un-do. I think about the hurts I have inflicted more than the hurts that have been done to me.

But this one is a combination of hurt done unto to me and one I did to people I love, which makes it particularly memorable.

Mr T and I did not invite his best friend and best friend’s wife and my best friends to our wedding. They are our best couple friends and we love them. I love my best friends.

Had we to do it again, we would invite them.

But at the time, we were caught up in Drama and Rules and could not see the big picture.

Let’s dispense with the Rules first, shall we? Those should have been tossed aside easily and quickly. What were we thinking?

I know what I was thinking. That the order of inviting people to a wedding goes like this:

  • Bride and groom
  • Immediate family
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Cousins
  • And then your friends

Our immediate family included Mr T’s parents, my mom (my dad died 22 years ago) and my siblings, his lovely lovely stepdaughters and their husbands, his brothers and their wives, and his nieces and nephews.

For Mr T, the group of aunts and uncles included two people. Cousins added four. Except he had seen these people maybe once in the past 20 years. I am guessing they would not have come.

For me, the group of aunts and uncles included 16 people. Add cousins and their spouses and that’s another 52? Something like that? (How many cousins do I have?)

A lot.

My family is close. I like my family. I wanted them there. They would have come.

But we just didn’t have the money to host an event for that many people.

We thought we couldn’t invite our friends unless we invited at least to the aunts and uncles level.

I realize now that we were wrong.

We could have invited our best friends and we should have. My aunts and uncles would have understood. My cousins for sure would have understood. I have not been invited to all of their weddings and I am fine with that. Weddings are expensive. It’s cool.

So – that was a big mistake and I wish I could fix it.

But that wasn’t even the main reason we didn’t invite Best Friends.

The main reason was we were so worried about Drama.

Mr T’s parents did not like me.

They hated me.

I guess they saw love as a zero-sum game? And any love that Mr T gave to me was love that he didn’t give to them?

They told him not to marry me.

They told him I was marrying only for money.

Ha. I wish.

(For the record, Mr T is not a wealthy man. I wish he were. I would be very happy to marry for money.)

(Also for the record. Mr T’s parents disinherited him when they died. Not because of me – they wrote their will before they met me. So I don’t know what that was all about. They were not kind to him, even though they could not have asked for a better son. Mr T is a good man.)

They told him they were not going to come to the wedding.

They came only because Mr T threatened them with, among other things, never seeing him again. I was actually fine with their not coming, but Mr T was somewhat traumatized at his parents not coming to his wedding.

(And they told him this in confidence – as in, his dad would not tell him that they were “boycotting” the wedding when Mr T was on the phone sitting next to me. Mr T had to be in a room by himself. Because Mr T wouldn’t tell me this news? Because I would not figure it out if either Mr T bowed to their wishes and didn’t marry me or if they didn’t show up to the wedding? How was this secret to be maintained? It’s been more than eleven years and I still can’t figure out how this plot was supposed to work.)

We were so worried that there would be alcohol-fueled drama that we did not want any of our friends around to witness it.

The shame involved around alcoholism – if you have never been around that sort of thing – if you come from a functional family – it’s almost impossible to understand.

The shame involved when you don’t know if a parent is going to blow up – is going to say something mean and cutting. The fear. If you have never been around that sort of thing, it’s almost impossible to understand.

I have tried to explain it to my own family and they don’t get it. Which I guess is a good thing? I mean, I don’t want the people I love to understand it. I don’t want them to nod knowingly and say, “Oh yeah! I’ve been there!” I don’t want them ever to have experienced it.

I also don’t want to inflict it on anyone.

I don’t want to inflict the meanness and the anger and the viciousness on anyone I care about.

I don’t want them to be witness to it, either.

And that’s where we were.

We were so worried that Mr T’s parents – well, his father – would be mean and nasty and cruel that we just wanted to contain the damage as best we could.

Can you imagine that idea as the theme for your wedding?

“Contain the damage from an alcoholic parent?”

It really limits what you can do.

If that’s all you’re thinking about, it constrains your bigger picture thinking. You make stupid decisions, like, “I can’t have my best friends see this. I can’t subject them to the possibility of this. I can’t have them see me be treated badly. I can’t have them be treated badly.”

And then your best friends are not there to share your happiness. They are not there to commiserate.

And 11 years later, when you have some perspective, you realize that having your friends there would have made the indignities easier to bear. They would have understood and would have strengthened you and held you up as the damages flew your way. They would have been on your side.

But 11 years later, the memories you have of your wedding do not include your best friends. They do include people you love – your mother, her gentleman caller, your brother, your sister, your lovely bonus daughters, and of course your husband, but they also include Mr T’s father getting drunk and mean more than once and all that entailed.

(Some of that entail includes a wedding toast in which Mr T’s father manages to insult you without even mentioning your name! Not once! Not one time does he say your name – yet he still insults you! Mr T’s father was very very smart. He knew how to do these things.)

And those memories include a huge hole where the friends should have been.

And you can’t fill that hole now. No matter how much you wish you could.




Ophelia was not crazy

She was desperate and probably really pissed off and really can you blame her?

rue 2

Mr T and I were in Chicago hanging out with our friends. We went to dinner at an Eritrean restaurant and a bunch of Eritrean women came in to celebrate – have I talked about this? I think I have – but not about the rue.

Anyhow – the Eritrean women came in to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Eritrean Women’s Union, which is full of badass women, which Lenore and I know because they showed us the photos on the wall of the restaurant and told us about the women during the revolution.

“The men,” they snorted. “They wanted us to clean and cook. We wanted to fight!”

“What happened?” we asked.

“WE FOUGHT!” they said.

They invited us to stay for the party but it was only 6:30 an the party didn’t officially start until 8:00.

I still remember the Ethiopian Cooking Class of Ought Two, which started at 11:00 a.m. and I thought would have us eating at noon.

My friend Megan, who had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, walked in the door, took one look at the Ethiopian ladies in the kitchen, and said, “I’ll be back in a few hours.”

She knew what she was doing.

The food wasn’t ready until 5:00.

Totally my fault, of course, for assuming and not asking. All my fault.

But. I have lived in non-US cultures and have become pretty comfortable with the idea that what I define as 8:00 p.m. and what someone else defines as 8:00 p.m. are not the same.

So we thanked them for the kind invitation and declined.

They said they would invite us to the Women’s Day party, but I sent one of them a facebook invitation and she never accepted. I am sad about that because Lenore and I really wanted to go.


So then we walked down the block and there was a botanica and we went in to check it out and they had amargón.

Which I thought meant something really bitter.

You know – amargo + “ón” as an intensifier.

I asked the owner. “What is this that you are selling that is not just bitter but really bitter?”

And he answered, “Oh that’s rue but we don’t call it that because it’s illegal to sell rue in the US because it causes abortions.”

Which I had just read about because guess what just when you think there’s nothing new to learn about Shakespeare THERE IS.


Let’s step back for a second.

Have you ever wondered what the heck was going on with Ophelia? Why did she commit suicide? I have never been able to understand that part of the play. It seems like a weird add-on plot point and it has never ever ever made sense to me.

I should have asked about it when I was in college when we read the play. I should have written a paper on it. “On the Apparently Stupid, Pointless, Senseless Suicide of a Female Character Who Once Again, Exists Only In Relation To A Male Protagonist.”

That could have been my title.

(I did write a paper that Romeo and Juliet were way too young to know what they were doing. My professor commented dryly that some would disagree, but Eppur si muove.)

Why did she kill herself? What was going on?


Hold. On. To. Your. Hats.

It’s about to make sense.

Remember when she’s giving out the flowers?

I do.

I think of it every time I cut rosemary.

Rosemary for remembrance.

And then all the other flowers.

Including rue.

Which causes abortions.

What if Ophelia had been pregnant?

And Hamlet blew her off?

This explains everything.

Why was this not mentioned when we read the play in college? Why does she have to be just some crazy chick acting crazy and we don’t know why?

Why can’t she be what she possibly legitimately is – a young woman who has been abandoned and is in a horrible situation where she and only she is the one shamed and punished? Where the father gets off without any blowback at all? Where she is a legitimate victim and not just some random weirdo?

It’s not like she would have lived – everyone has to die at the end of the play. I know the rules. But I would like her to be treated with the sympathy she deserves.





How to make money without selling porn

Does this count as a younger woman?


It wasn’t hard for me to stop watching Woody Allen movies when he started messing around with his partner’s daughter. I never understood the appeal of his oeuvre – I saw only an unattractive whiny older man who always got a beautiful, much younger woman to fall in love with him. I never could see the attraction.

I mean, I see what he saw in Mariel Hemingway and Diane Keaton and all the others (I don’t care enough to look them up, but you know what I’m talking about), but in real life? There is no way women that beautiful and talented would ever had anything to do with someone like him unless he were rich and famous.

Which – I guess he is, so there is that. But man does he need to be rich and famous because if his real-life personality is anything like his on-screen personality, I, too, would have to be paid to spend time with him.

But the fact that he has had to write this fantasy into his movies – well, that says it all, doesn’t it?

I have been having this argument with a friend, who keeps citing May-December romances as evidence that younger women want older men.

I keep pointing out that the December in each case is RICH. RICH RICH RICH.

Beautiful young women do not marry men their father’s age (fathers’?) for fun. They do it for money and power.

Sex and companionship can be gotten from men their own age.

And then last night, I was watching the show Worricker, which I recommend, and I noticed the same thing.

At first, I thought the May characters were supposed to be daughter figures. Because they were of the ages that they could be.

That is, the Bill Nighy character is 62 in the show.

The Rachel Weisz character is 41.

The Helena Bonham Carter character is 45.

So let’s call this June-December for Helena.

But. Still.

Was there not one single British actress in her 50s or 60s they could find to play the love interest?

And here’s what makes it even weirder: With the Rachel Weisz character, the storyline is that she is the one who wants him and he doesn’t want her! Because of course every beautiful younger woman falls in love with a divorced, penniless, apparently disgraced (but secretly not really because he did The Right Thing) older civil servant! OF COURSE!

(Or maybe that’s how Bill plays it because maybe he thought the script was a little icky in which case respect to you, Bill.)

Oh sheesh. I just checked the author bio. Now I understand everything. The author is a man (duh) a little bit older than the character he wrote. This is another fantasy.

Hollywood. You want to know how to make money? Women have money. We will give it to you to watch stories we want to watch.

We do not want to watch stories about men screwing women young enough to be their daughters. It’s kind of – offensive. We have daughters. We have granddaughters. We have husbands. We have fathers. It all combines into a creepy gross thing that makes us shudder.

We will watch stories about age-appropriate romances.

We will watch stories about women that aren’t – and this is really nuts – about men! YES THIS IS POSSIBLE!

We will even watch stories about older women!

Here’s a really crazy idea:

How about hiring women writers, directors, and producers to tell stories women want to see?

Try this and watch the money come pouring in.

On adding pajamas to my list of issues

I am too tired to think about the Big Evils because I am cold

pockets 1

I know I am tilting at windmills and I am exhausted and I haven’t even started thinking about the Big Issues like China, which is EVIL, and how it turns out that a bunch of the stuff that I thought was being recycled is being burned as fuel in Indonesia instead and is poisoning children and adults and they’re shooting protesters in Chile and in Hong Kong and our precious democracy in the US – I can’t even go there – well – I am exhausted with all the misogyny and the crap that affects me personally in such a small, small way and then all the crap that really affects other women globally.

And then I think, Well, let me focus on a small issue so I can get really mad about something – something little – something that maybe I can fix.

Maybe I can have a razor-sharp focus on something – just one thing – and I can FIX IT.

That something is pajamas.

That something is a subset of my Potty Parity, Pockets, and Sleeves platform for when I take over the world.

(That platform has expanded dramatically and I don’t even have the time, but China watch out I am coming for you and your concentration camps.)

Dang. Even writing this, I am starting to feel petty. Can we all agree that we feel powerless about so much of what is happening in the world and that we want to fix it and we don’t even know where to start and that maybe, what I can do here is talk about something small and silly and maybe we can laugh for a little bit and forget about the big issues (although we acknowledge that we are lucky that our problems are relatively small)?

OK then.

Here’s what has me pissed off today.


What is the primary function of pajamas?


Let’s back up.

What is the primary function of a clothing designer?

Answer: To design clothing to meet the needs of the person wearing the clothing.

There. Now that we have that straight, let’s go to question 2.

What is the primary function of women’s pajamas?



If the primary function of pajamas is to keep me warm while I sleep, why do you not cover my upper chest and neck? I do not need to expose my collarbone and half my shoulder, that is, I want to cover that part of my body TO KEEP ME WARM.

If the primary function of pajamas is to keep me warm while I sleep, why do you have a cuffed ankle to keep the pants leg down that not only loses its elasticity after one wearing but then rides up to my knee and then stays stuck above my calf, exposing my lower leg? That is, I want to cover that part of my body TO KEEP ME WARM.

If the primary function of pajamas is to keep me warm while I sleep, why do you include pockets? On my pajamas? When I am going nowhere but into my bed? Where I do not need to carry stuff? But in the REST OF MY LIFE WHEN I ACTUALLY LEAVE MY HOUSE, YOU WILL NOT GIVE ME POCKETS? WHY IS THAT?

Why can’t you designers design something to do what it’s supposed to do? Just keep me warm. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Misogyny. It’s not just for men anymore*

There really is a special place in hell for women who do not support other women. At least I hope there is.

Source: popcrush.com

A friend – my friend from 7th grade, Cynthia E, whom I found on Facebook after not seeing her for how many years? I am 56 and we found each other a few years ago and hadn’t seen each other since the end of 8th grade, when my family moved from Lubbock, where my dad had been stationed at Reese AFB, to the Panama Canal Zone – asked what I write about on my blog.

“Things that piss me off,” I told her.

And that’s what I’m writing about now.

I avoid the topic of work on my blog not because work is not important but because I live in a state of fear that I will be discovered and I will lose my job, which I do not do as a hobby, because of something I said.

But I have come to realize that my VP wants me gone anyhow so hey what do I have to lose, right?

Here’s the deal. I don’t expect special treatment for being a woman.

But I also don’t expect the Mean Girl treatment.

Until a year ago, one of the great joys of my job was that I worked with almost all engineers, almost all of whom were men.

That is, I worked with people who were all about the facts and had no interest in DRAMA. No drama. There was no drama. None. From anyone.

And then we got a new CEO.

Who brought in his team.

Including this VP, who created a new group into which I was annexed and suddenly, I was working for this woman who has decided that we are all back in 7th grade and we are freezing people out and we have favorites and not favorites and it is a bloody nightmare.

Until this new VP showed up, I made it my mission to highlight and elevate the women at work whenever possible. We have super smart men and women in this company but I have to admit I am just a tiny bit biased toward the women. And especially the younger women – I want to make sure they get as much support as possible. I want to smooth their way as much as I can. I want them to thrive.

I organize networking events for them. When I need to quote someone or interview someone, I seek a woman.

When possible, I advise them not to help with potlucks or party planning. I told my intern one summer, “Unless you see the men helping set up and clean up from a potluck or company event, don’t you dare volunteer. And don’t bring brownies or cookies to work. You need to be known as Liz, that fabulous mechanical engineer, not as Liz that cute girl who bakes.”

I want the women I work with to be respected and acknowledged as professionals.

You guys, I don’t want to brag, but I am pretty badass. I have made money for every company I have ever worked at. And I have done it, in most cases, by coming up with new ideas and then convincing a group of people to work with me to implement those ideas.

That is, even without authority, I can lead a team to solve a problem that I have identified. And I can quantify the results.

I have done that at my current job. When my previous boss – the Good Boss at this job – first interviewed me, he realized I did not qualify for the job I had applied for.

So he re-wrote the job description so he could hire me.

I am badass.

I came in and did cool things that made things better. I did that for years.

And then this new VP came in and a bunch of us got re-orged and she decided she didn’t really want to know what I do and made up her mind about me and suggested in one meeting that I be in charge of – like, as part of my job – organizing the division’s potlucks.

She also had thought of having me report to my 30 year old co-worker.

Yes. It’s like that.

And I ask myself almost every day, “What did I ever do to you?”

And I think, “If you had just asked, I would have helped make you shine. Because all I want to do is get the job done.”

And I want to say, “If you had just said, ‘Join me! Let’s work together and do great things!’ I would have said, ‘Yes! Let’s go!'”

She has done this to all the women who are older than she is. Rather than use us as allies, she has decided we are her enemies. She has shunned us.

She seems to be unaware that someday, she will be the Older Woman.


* Thank you, Marsha Calhoun, for that brilliant line.

I will never leave Mr T for another man

But I might leave him for an empty house

separate rooms

A co-worker with a toddler was upset. “Some friends asked if I wanted to go out on Saturday and I realized I would rather sleep than go out!” she said. “When did I get so old and boring?”

Another co-worker, who has two children, laughed. “Just wait until you’d rather sleep than have sex!”

Co-worker #1 was shocked. “That will never happen!”

Co-worker #2 smiled. “Oh just wait.”

She turned to me. “Amateur,” she whispered. “She’ll learn.”

Who among us has not dreamed of a night alone? In a bed alone? In a room alone? Doing nothing but sleeping?

I adore Mr T.


You knew a “but” was coming.

I didn’t get married until I was 43. Or something like that.


I lived by myself for most of my adult life before I got married. And when I didn’t live alone, I still had my own room.

That is, I had my own space.

Whoa was getting married a shock.

Let me amend that.

Whoa was getting married to an extrovert a shock.

An extrovert who is also a night owl to my not exactly early bird but yeah, when we had our pre-marital counseling, Fr Tim asked if our religious and political differences were going to be a problem.

“Not as much as our differences in bedtimes,” I answered.

And I was right.

Who knew the hardest part of being married was not the disagreeing on politics or on how often the bathroom should be cleaned (more than you think, Mr T – it should never look dirty) or on how long it should be before clean clothes make their way from the drying racks in the basement to the dresser and the closet (“five to seven business days,” according to Mr T, which actually is OK I guess because I just make sure I always have clean inventory of whatever and besides Mr T is the one doing all the work so I am not complaining at all) or where we should set the inventory replenishment level for potato chips (if there is a famine, if you can’t be at my mom’s house, you want to be at ours), but was the GETTING OF SOME ALONE TIME ANY TIME?

I? I did not know this when I married.

I had been living alone for many years when I met Mr T.

I had been doing things my own way.

That is, I had been doing things The Right Way.

When Mr T visited me, he tricked me by sort of more or less doing things My Way in My House.

When I visited him, I did things His Way, even though His Way was Wrong. I knew that once we were married and sharing a house, he would See The Light and Do Things My Way and We Would Be Happy.

And during our visits, we wanted to Be Together All The Time.

Then we got married and started living together and I started working again and work got all – well, you know – things happen and there are corporate takeovers and you are on your third CEO in five years and your fourth boss in nine months, etc, etc.

And when you come home from work where you are suddenly having to deal with people who don’t seem to be very smart AND WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?

For the past five years, you have been working with R&D engineers. And now you are working with people new to the company. They’re not engineers. They’re not – well, blesstheirhearts they just don’t seem to be that bright and they don’t even seem to know that they’re not that bright.

And there is drama.

And all you want when you come home is a room of your own.

All you want to do is sleep. By yourself. In a room by yourself.

Even though you adore your husband, who is wonderful.

Even though when you were 16, you thought marriage was all about all sex all the time but man were you wrong about that.

All you want to do is sleep. For eigh nin ten hours. Every. Single. Night.

That’s all.

I found this on the brilliant Midult.




When you think you’re being funny and your 98 year old great aunt reminds you that you are not

1963 Christmas Eve 2 SS-LCM
My great aunt is not in this photo, but my grandma Sylvia, her sister, is. Grandma is the one on the left – the one who went gray at 29 and also the one who is wearing red lipstick. My aunt (who is not my great aunt) is also wearing red lipstick. I guess lipstick is A Thing in my family.

Remember how I visited my great aunt last week and she hadn’t put on her lipstick and I went straight to my grandmother’s funeral?

Well I skipped the part where I showed my aunt photos from our trip to Spain.

So I showed her this photo.


And we had this conversation:

Helen: What’s that?

Me: A cork tree.

Helen: What?! Like corks for bottles?

Me: Yes!

Helen: What?!

Me: I know!

Helen: I always thought they made cork! It comes from trees?

Me: Just when you think there is nothing new to be learned.

Helen: I learned something new today. It’s mind boggling.

Me: Mind bottling.

Helen: Boggling.

Me: Bottling.

Helen: I heard you.

We bury people in style in my family and I mean that literally

The sassy women whose blood runs in my veins always look good – that part skipped me but I sure do appreciate how they do things – they don’t go out or ANYWHERE EVEN DEATH without lipstick

Helen Syl Esther
My grandma Sylvia, on the far right, with her sister, Esther, on the far left, and Helen in the middle.

Last week, I went to the assisted living place to see my great-aunt Helen, who, at 98, is still pretty darn sharp and is fun and interesting. When she answered, Helen apologized.

“I haven’t had a chance to put on my lipstick!” she said.

“I didn’t even take a shower today,” I told her.

I relayed this story on facebook, where my cousin of some degree, A, answers.

A is Helen’s granddaughter, I am Sylvia’s granddaughter, Sylvia and Helen are sisters. I just say A and I are cousins and leave it at that.

Anyhow, A said, “Grandma Helen never walks out of her front door without lipstick. Period.”

Which means Helen is just like her sister. How do I know? Because I saw how my Grandma Sylvia went to meet her maker.

Actually, I helped make sure Grandma Sylvia went to meet her maker in the way she would have wanted to.

Oh yes I mean just what you might think I mean.

I mean that I am one of the women who made sure that my grandmother’s makeup, as she lay in her coffin, was adjusted to what it should have been all along.

Some of you may already know this story from my other blogs because let’s face it – putting lipstick on your grandma at her funeral is a pretty good story.

But that’s not going to stop me from telling it again.


So. My grandmother died. Which was sad. But she was 97 and she died in her sleep after living on her own at home until she was what – 94? 95? That’s a pretty darn good run.

True, she was widowed in her late 50s, which is awful (unless you have a crummy husband, but she described my Papa Al as having “hands as big as hams,” which, to my 16 year old ears, didn’t seem like a big deal, but now – well, anyway, I always had the impression that he was a pretty good guy), but she remained unmarried after that by choice, if I now interpret her comments to me correctly.

When you’re 16, you really don’t think about it when your grandmother looks up from her cigarette and her National Enquirer and says something like, “Yes, there were plenty of men who would have been happy to marry the widow Sylvia,” but in retrospect, it makes a little more sense.

Plus, my grandma was a hot little number who knew how to have a good time and HELLO LATE 50s IS NOT TOO OLD TO HAVE FUN.

Along those lines, my mom, who was widowed in her early ’50s, has been proposed to at least five times. Marriage (and love and sex) are not just for the young.

Maureen Dowd wrote a column once about how she’s too smart and intimidating for men and that’s why she’s not married and I thought, Maybe but my mom is super super smart but she’s also super nice and she doesn’t try to make people feel dumb and many men have wanted to marry her even though she is not a poulet de printemps.

You can be very smart and not be intimidating is all.

So my grandma died and we were sad.

I flew from Memphis to Minneapolis and stayed with my friend Ilene overnight with plans to drive to northern Wisconsin the next day. Ilene asked if she could come with me. She majored in anthropology in college and had never attended a Catholic funeral and wanted to see one.

My family is very much The More The Merrier and who doesn’t want company driving 340 miles round trip in Minnesota and Wisconsin in January, especially when that company is Ilene, who is fabulous?

We got to Medford and got to the church and my mom and my brother and my sister and my aunts and uncles and cousins were there. Other relatives – great aunts and uncles, second and third cousins were also there. My other grandmother, I think. Lots of people. Small town where people have lived their entire lives. It’s a nice way to send a person off.

My mom, my sister, my aunts, my female cousins, Ilene, and I gathered around the coffin. We looked at Grandma.

She was arranged beautifully. Her nails were painted and she had a ring on every finger and her hands were crossed. I think she had a rosary laced through her hands. I believe the word I learned was ungapatchka, which was perfectly appropriate, as German was my grandmother’s first language and as she knew a lot of good Yiddish words as well.

I didn’t know until I was in college that “Oy gevalt” was a Yiddish thing. I thought it was just something that German grandmothers said.

But our heads tilted as we all looked and realized something was off.

“Her lips are – pink,” a cousin said.

“Pink,” an aunt repeated.

“I’ve never seen her with anything but dark red lips,” my sister said.

“When I cleaned out her room at the home, I found 12 tubes of red lipstick,” my aunt Pat said.

“How will Papa Al even know her without red lips?” asked my mom.

How would St Peter know her?

How would GOD know her?

We knew what had to be done.

“She needs red lips,” said my sister.

We all looked around, seeking the dark magic to make this happen.

Ilene opened her purse. Dug around. “I have some red lipstick,” she announced as she pulled a tube out of her bag.

“But – it has to be put on her lips,” I said.

She shrugged. “I’m a doctor. I’ll do it.”

She opened the lipstick. She carefully outlined Grandma’s lips and then filled them in. She stepped back.

We leaned in.

They. Were. Red.

They. Were. Perfect.

“She looks just like herself,” breathed a cousin.

And she did. She looked just like herself.

She had her lipstick on. She was ready to go.





There will be no line for The Revolution. For Women, that is.

And we will have classes for men on How To Wait

mens room1
Mr T and I went to the symphony. Men had to wait. I offered to coach them on how to do it.

I have told you guys I am leading a revolution, right?

Everyone needs a cause. And my cause is Potty Parity, although I am now more inclined to Potty We Don’t Wait Ever Even If They Do Because It’s Time To Correct For Millennia Of Unfairness.

I used to think I would just run for office with Potty Parity as my platform, along with side planks of Pockets and Sleeves.

I have moved on to Overthrow the System.

And when I do, I will make it the law that there be at least three times as many toilets for women as for men.

There will not be gender-neutral toilets – those benefit men.

There will be toilets for women only.  Read Caroline Criado Perez’s book, Invisible Women, to see the research that backs this up.

If you think about it, you’ll see it for yourself. If you turn men’s rooms into gender neutral bathrooms, most women probably aren’t going to want to go in them. We are not really interested in walking past a wall of urinals with men peeing into them.

Although you know what? I would do it. I would do it just to prove a point, my point being, You want gender neutral? I WILL GIVE YOU GENDER NEUTRAL.

Plus I am sick and darn tired of waiting.

But men will go into women’s rooms. So all we do with gender-neutral bathrooms is reduce the wait time – what little wait time there is – for men.

I will make it the law that there have to be at least three times as many women-only toilets as there are men’s toilets. We are done waiting.

And when I am In Charge, I will also implement free menstrual supplies for girls around the world. If insurance can cover Viagra for middle-aged men who can’t get it up, we can sure pay for Kotex for young women and girls. If we can fund a gajillion wars, we can give girls what they need to stay in school so they are not condemned to lives of ignorance and drudgery and servitude.

And I will force them to build the damn bathrooms in countries where women have to pee in the fields, which means they hold it and get UTIs or go alone and get raped. (Yeah, I didn’t even know this was a thing until last year and it made me furious when I did learn it.)

And as long as I have power, even though I am philosophically opposed to the death penalty – I don’t want the state to have the power to decide who lives and who dies, I will make it a capital crime to perform FGM.

Oh you guys. The older I get and the more I learn, the angrier I become.

What else should I put on the Revolution List? Are you with me?


Entitled women who think that they should have basic life supplies at a wealthy university that has a climbing wall at the fancy rec center

And where the president makes over $1,000,000 a year, making him one of the ten highest-paid college presidents in the US

I don’t even know what kind of photo to use for this story, so here’s my sister feeding our cat, O’Malley.

You know what pisses me off?

Mean people.

You know what pisses me off even more?

Women who do not support other women.

I’m not going to get into work stuff here about Queen Bee women who don’t support other women and who actively work against them – I don’t do that because You Never Know, but I will talk about what’s going on in my college alumni facebook group right now.

An undergrad wrote an editorial for the school paper proposing that the school stock free menstrual supplies in the restrooms.

I think that is a great idea.

There are people who think it is not.

Many of the people who think this is a bad idea are men. I can maybe excuse them because THEY DON’T HAVE AN F*ING CLUE WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT, but there are also women who are all, Oh but you know by the time you are in college, you really need to learn to fend for yourself and get those luxuries on your own.

How nice it must be to have a life where the issue of a few dollars here or there has never been critical.

And how lucky I am that a few dollars here or there has never been critical.

But – I knew people for whom it has been critical.

And even if I didn’t know people for whom a few dollars are critical, I would hope I would understand that it matters.

So there are women – WOMEN – saying that nope, the school should not stock the women’s rooms with tampons and pads because women should pay for their own darn stuff themselves and should learn responsibility and my gosh there is no free lunch and how will these entitled millennials ever learn and get off my lawn.

Women who say screw you. Screw you other women. Women who say, I had to put myself through school I had to work hard why shouldn’t everyone else?

To which I say, I, too, had to put myself through school.

I had a job even before I arrived for my first day of college.

I didn’t even know this was weird until about a year ago. A month before I started college, I wrote to someone in the athletic department and asked for a job as a lifeguard. I included a copy of my American Red Cross lifeguard certificate, which meant I had to go to a copy shop to get it copied. You young people have no idea how good you have things now. 🙂

(Which is a good thing! Life should not be hard when it can be easy!)

But yeah – a friend pointed out to me that this was not usual. That most students don’t do this.


I borrowed money and I worked 20 hours a week during the school year and I worked 60 hours a week during the summer.

And I see this proposal to stock tampons and pads and my first thought is not, I DIDN’T GET THAT WHY SHOULD ANYONE ELSE?

And I am actually very much a, You don’t work, you don’t eat person.

But I am also, If a person doesn’t have tools, how can she work? person.

So these women who do say, “I had to work hard so why shouldn’t you work hard” – what is going on in their heads?

First of all, the campus jobs we had?

They don’t even exist anymore. I waited tables at the faculty club at lunch and I worked parties there on the weekends. It was the perfect student job.

That job has been outsourced and is no longer a student job.

There used to be students checking IDs at the cafeterias, the library, and the gym.

Not anymore. Now there are scanners.

Second, tuition is now about 40 gajillion times higher than when we were students.

Seriously. It was about $8,000 a year room and board when I was an undergrad. Now it’s $60,000, I think? I came out of school $13,000 in debt. My first job paid $20,000 a year. My debt/salary ratio was 13/20.

Now, students come out of school $200,000 in debt for a job paying $20,000. Debt/salary ratio is 10/1.


I mean, really?

Is this your philosophy of life? “I had it hard so I want to make sure everyone else does, too?”

You remind me of Mr T’s father, who was so furious at Thanksgiving one year when my nephew and niece took all white meat.

Not, they took all the white meat and nobody else could have any, but, they served themselves each about four ounces of white meat. From a platter containing 20 pounds of turkey.

  • Mr T’s father told my nephew and niece to serve themselves first
  • There was a 100-lb turkey for ten people
  • Not really 100 lbs – but more than enough white meat for everyone
  • Mr T’s father screamed at my lovely sister in law, telling her she was a bad mother for not teaching her children better
  • Mr T’s father did not scream at his own son for not being a better father
  • Mr T’s father should not have screamed at anyone except maybe himself
  • There was enough white meat
  • You don’t shame your dinner guests, ever
  • You don’t shame your grandchildren, ever
  • You don’t scream at people, ever
  • Mr T’s father screamed that when he was a kid, he never would have taken the white meat because – I don’t know why – maybe because children don’t deserve the Good Meat?
  • Isn’t the whole damn point to give your children a better life than you had?
  • A year later, Mr T’s father mused, as he carved the turkey, that he never had liked the white meat – it was too dry. He preferred the dark meat

So, women who think we should not offer free pads and tampons in the ladies’ rooms. Because nobody did this for you is a good reason that we should not do this for the next generation?

Should we not be working together to make things easier for the young women who follow us? Or do we just want to sit here and watch them suffer? What the hell is wrong with you?

Women should help other women. We should do everything we can to help young women succeed.