On why we need A Restroom Revolution

If this isn’t a cause worthy of armed insurrection, I don’t know what is

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Mr T and I went to Chicago this week, just for two days. We spent an afternoon at the Field Museum, which was named for and funded by the Marshall Field store guy, which I did not know but thought was pretty cool. Remember the days when really rich people felt guilty enough about their wealth that they funded philanthropic activities that benefited humanity?

Anyhow.

I had to use the ladies several times because that is how I roll.

Mr T had to use the gents only once.

We compared notes.

As always, there was a line for the ladies.

As always.

And, as almost always, there was no line for the men’s.

Despite having been married to me for 11 years and having heard me complain about this for even longer than 11 years, Mr T does not understand why this is so.

I explained.

“In just one of my trips,” I told him, “there were five women in line waiting for five stalls. There was one woman who took her little girl into the stall with her. There was not enough room in the stall for her little boy, so he had to stand outside the stall and wait for her. So there’s a little boy standing out there while his mom is inside the stall and so she has to worry about that while she is also dealing with another child inside a tiny stall. And the rest of the women in the bathroom want to make sure we are not scaring the little boy and we want to be reassuring to him because he can’t see his mom and it’s probably a little scary to him.”

“There was a woman changing a toddler’s diaper on the changing table. She has a squirmy, very unhappy kid to deal with and no hooks anywhere to hang a diaper bag from or her purse or her coat. Because you know NOBODY IN CHICAGO EVER HAS STUFF IN THE WINTER.”

“There was a woman desperately feeding quarters into the tampon machine – which was squeezed in between the changing table and a toilet stall so there was no room for any of them – trying to get it to give her a tampon in return. Which, by the way, never happened. So that poor woman probably ended up rolling up toilet paper to stick in her underwear. I couldn’t even give her something – I checked my purse and I didn’t have anything with me or I would have.”

“Oh and remember how I had you hold my coat? It’s a good thing you did because there was no hook in my stall which meant there was no place to hang my coat.”

“Where did you put your purse?” he asked. “NOT ON THE FLOOR!”

“No. I had to balance my purse on the toilet paper dispenser thing,” I answered. “And then the stupid tap wouldn’t give me water and I had to go to a different tap and only one of the sinks had a booster step so the little kids could reach the water to wash their hands and then the taps had those stupid dryer things attached so you get your hands wet and dry in the same place but I couldn’t figure out how to make the air come out and then once it did, it was freezing cold so I looked for paper towels instead but they didn’t have any but they did have wall-mounted air dryers but they were being used so I had to wait.”

“And one of the other times I was in there, I had my coat with me and even though I had gotten a stall with a hook that time and could hang my coat while I peed, there was nowhere to put it while I washed my hands so I had to hold it between my knees while I washed my hands and try to make sure it didn’t touch the ground.”

“The only thing I have ever seen in the men’s room is men peeing at the urinals or going into the stalls,” he said.

“I. Know,” I answered. “That’s why women need more space. That’s why it’s BS that the building codes require the same floor space for the bathrooms. They should give three times as much space for the women as for the men.”

I read this paragraph in the book Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing, in a wonderful piece (“Creating a Nonsexist Restroom”) by Dr Clara Greed.

From my frankly feminist perspective, patience, trust, and obedience to the powers that be will never result in urinary equality. At the micro level, I like to indulge in a little toilet evangelism when I am standing in the queue for the ladies’ with a captive audience, in spite of the looks I get. To paraphrase Marx, many women are suffering from false toilet consciousness. Why isn’t it a major political issue? And conversely, why doesn’t the government take toilets seriously?

Solidarity, Dr Greed. Let’s start The Revolution.

And the rest of us – let’s get loud. Start complaining when we are in public places and we have to wait. Write to the owners of the venues. Go to the planning meetings for new buildings. We can get building codes changed. This is something where we can actually do something. We might not be able to solve world hunger or climate change, but we have a voice – and money – locally.

Smoking Hot Competence

A coworker said Mr T is “Smoking Hot” and she is correct

Mr T fixing things
Mr T can fix almost anything.

I just started watching the movie Hector and the Search for Happiness and I know I am going to like it because I like Simon Pegg and I also like very much Stellan Skarsgard, who was also amazing in Chernobyl.

And I started thinking about how I now find men in their 60s to be total hotties and what is it that makes a man that age – or Mr T’s age – hot and it’s not just the looks, although that’s part of it. Mr T is very nice looking.

It’s competence. It’s the willingness to get things done.

And Mr T is more than competent. He can fix almost anything in our house. We had to pay someone to install a gas line to the kitchen, but he replaced the electric stove with a gas stove. He replaced the old microwave oven with a new one. I did have to be involved with that project as a helper and I did not enjoy that at all, as it consumed our 4th of July weekend and left us both bruised and on the verge of divorce, but, as Mr T pointed out, it saved us about $2,000.

I don’t know what divorce would have cost.

He put in a new garbage disposal and a new tap in the kitchen sink.

He does almost all our auto repairs unless they are under warranty. Then why would he bother?

He painted the house and the garage. We are hiring someone to repair the mortar, but that is specialized work that requires expertise neither of us have.

He is my in-home tech repair. People ask me about my phone and my computer and I just shrug. I don’t know and I don’t care. Mr T takes care of all of that.

I have not planned a vacation in years. Mr T does all the planning. I just figure out which clothes and books I want to take and show up. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

I have not cleaned the house or done the grocery shopping or done the laundry or cut the grass since Mr T stopped working. That was our agreement: I go to work, he takes care of the house. Although I don’t feel like this one is such a big deal. This is how it should be. The person who is not leaving the house every day to go to work is the person who should be in charge of housework. Not having to deal with performance evaluations and office politics more than compensates for scrubbing the shower.

And the work thing – well, let’s just say Mr T has been my rock with the work drama that has been going on this year. I used to love my job but there was a re-org and I don’t have the boss I used to have and there have been huge huge changes. More on that later.

So yeah – in my teens, I thought hot was all about looks.

Now I know hot is still all about looks but looks backed up by commitment and competence and caring and cleaning the hair – my hair – out of the shower drain – and cleaning the slime out of the dehumidifier and cleaning the cat box and changing the oil and putting gas in the car and shoveling the driveway and doing the laundry and changing the sheets and paying the bills and looking at the phone contracts and getting the best deal on butter and vacuuming the refrigerator coils and scraping the old lead paint off the garage properly before re-painting and rinsing the jars for recycling and buying tulips for me when they are on sale and sometimes even when they aren’t and helping our neighbor who lives on disability with his computer and going to city council meetings to speak even if it means missing a fun event and all the stuff that helps make life better for me, for us, and for our community.

That’s hot. And Mr T is hot.

 

 

 

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Where would we even find chocolate this far north?

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Although Wisconsin is the place to be after the apocalypse: we have fresh water.

Mr T and I had dinner with our friends P and D the other night. And we were talking about The Future. And Retirement. And Do We Have Enough?

And Is It Enough If There Is Disaster?

To which the answer is of course No.

No, it is not enough if there is Disaster.

But if there is Disaster, does it even matter?

To quo – to paraphrase D, If there’s a bomb, I’m running toward it.

I thought about it and realized she’s right.

I’m 56. I’ve lived a really good life. I’m not done. There’s more I would like to do. But I wouldn’t feel extraordinarily cheated if my life were to end tomorrow.

I would be angry if something were to happen to my bonus daughters and sons in law and grandchildren. They are too young. They would be cheated. They would be wronged.

But me? OK. Fair enough.

As D says, I have no interest in surviving a nuclear attack.

Which of course led us to a discussion of the book, On the Beach, which is one of my favorites. Have you read it? Read it. There’s been a nuclear war or whatever. Everyone is dead except the Australians, but the fallout is drifting toward Australia and should be there in about three months.

What do you do if you know you have only a few months to live? If you know the world will come to an end in a few months?

One of the women in the story plants tomatoes.

Mr T, the engineer, says, “But it takes tomatoes more than three months to grow.”

Which – yeah.

That’s the whole point.

What do you do when you know the world will come to an end in three months?

How do you live your life?

How do you focus?

What really matters?

So now I am thinking. Hmmmm. Would I wash the kitchen windows? (Yes, because I like having clean windows) Would I plant tomatoes? (Yes, because what if the fallout doesn’t arrive as fast as they think it will and I can have tomatoes) Would I go to work? (NO)

What would you do?

 

Wedding Shower Blues

When you try to do something nice for someone and it turns into a big ol’ mess

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I know this photo has nothing to do with wedding showers. But it’s a cat. Who wanted some of my potato chips. And who sat in my lap even though she didn’t know me because she was sure I would share. Which – I did.

At my job, it’s mostly men. Only about 7% women. 6.8% to be exact. I just did the math.

The first time there was a baby shower and I was invited, I was a bit cranky, as I did not know the woman for whom the shower was being held. It was a potluck and I had to buy a present and I was loudly cranky.

Not one of my better traits, I admit.

I mean, I wasn’t loudly cranky at work. That would have been rude.

But I was loudly cranky at home, to Mr T, about how women have to do all these stupid things at work that men don’t have to do and nobody judges a man who skips a baby shower but woe to the woman who does not go.

So I bought a stupid present – well, a copy of The Cat in the Hat, which is actually quite subversive and not stupid at all, and made David Lebovitz’s brownies, which are awesome, and went to the shower, prepared to sulk (quietly and politely and discreetly).

Only to meet one of the organizers as I walked in, who introduced herself happily and said, “We have so few women in this office that we always look for any excuse to get us all together.”

And I realized I had been ridiculously dumb about this issue and had over-reacted.

And I met my sister co-workers and after we had eaten and spoken some, the male co-workers of the expectant woman showed up with more food and presents of their own because they, too, wanted to celebrate with their co-worker and I thought, Wow they do it right here.

So when my co-worker Laura got engaged, I thought, Cool! We will have a bridal shower! It’s been eight months since the last baby shower. We need to have a party!

I asked Laura if her team was already organizing a shower and they were not.

Which bothered me a bit. Shouldn’t her team be organizing this event?

But I thought, How hard can it be? I ask the woman in charge of the mailing list for the women’s group to send out the email, I reserve the room, and voila, we have a shower.

Woman in charge said sure and looped in Traditional Organizer of Baby Showers (TOBS).

And this ensued (condensed version):

TOBS: We don’t do bridal showers. We only do baby showers.

Me: Well we need to start.

TOBS: But we don’t do bridal showers.

Me: And – maybe that’s because nobody’s gotten married in a while? But – a party!

TOBS: Grumble.

Me: So – anyway. Shower.

TOBS: If we have a bridal shower for Laura, then we need to also have one for Cindy. Cindy is also getting married the same month.

Me: Fine. Whatever. Go ahead with your bad shower-planning self. I think I’ve met Cindy?

TOBS: But – Cindy’s boss and the rest of her group is in another city.

[The boss usually buys the cake]

Me: And this is my problem why?

TOBS: Who’s going to plan Cindy’s shower?

Me: I dunno. Anyhoo. Back to Laura’s shower. You have the tablecloths? I can get them from you. I’ll set up.

TOBS: We should combine the showers.

Me: Wait. What? No. No. No.

TOBS: We should combine the showers. It would be easier.

Me: Nononono. Separate showers. Each bride gets her own shower.

TOBS: But then that would be two showers in one month!

Me: AND THAT WOULD BE TWICE AS MUCH CAKE!

TOBS: It’s too much work!

Me: I – don’t think so.

Me: Every bride should have her own shower.

Me: Cindy and Laura don’t even know each other.

Me [Laura is marrying another woman. Cindy goes to a church where women never cut their hair. This is not going to happen.]

Me: This is not happening.

So. I went to Laura’s boss (LB). Told her what was going on. LB said, “No way is Laura sharing a shower. We’ll have just our group, men and women. I’ll buy lunch and dessert. We’ll have just our group.”

And we did. And it was fun.

I dug more into Cindy’s situation. Turns out TOBS and Cindy are in the same group. The boss is in another city, but Cindy and TOBS and a few other people are here, so TOBS could very well have organized something local either for their team or for all the women.

Which she never did. Cindy was unshowered. Not my fault.

 

 

 

 

AND THIS IS WHY IT’S GOOD TO KNOW PEOPLE

When you think it’s all over but then your husband’s friend Knows Things like How To Find Stuff Online and he finds your old blog posts THANK YOU GARY

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And here is one of them (old blog post). Yes, they are piecemeal, but it’s better than nothing and now I have a project to get me through the next few months.

What’s so interesting about this post is that I wrote it in January of 2009 and yet NOTHING HAS CHANGED. We still have a lot of crap in our house.

However. Mr T is starting to throw things away.

And Holly B is still my friend. She now blogs here.

Marriage 101, Lecture 9: It is better to throw away than to keep

HollyB nd I are both Third Culture Kids. We both grew up abroad without fixed, permanent homes and hence have some of the same attitude when it comes to stuff: get rid of it because it is too much trouble to move it. I went to ten different schools before I was graduated from high school and have moved about 15 times since college. Only five of those moves were performed by moving companies; the rest — yours truly, which is one of the reasons I do not accumulate books. Have you ever moved books? (The other reason I don’t accumulate books is because they are expensive and if I am already paying taxes to support the library, why not just get them there free?)

Anyhow. My Serious Honey, on the other hand, has moved about five times in his life. He is very attached to his stuff. Our basement is full of his stuff, including office supplies from when he worked at Apple 13 years ago, his college textbooks and notes (OK, so he got rid of those in May and we did discover that when SH was the head grader for physics in college, my college boyfriend, Bobby, worked for him, which actually isn’t so bizarre because we all went to the same college and Bobby was a physics major, but I digress), love notes (I suspect — he asked me not to look) to the object of his college affection, 14 years (at least) of BMW magazine, bunches of other magazines, 27 gimme hats, t-shirts he no longer wears but that have sentimental value, etc, etc, etc.

However. There might be gold in those hills. My new mantra with him is, “Can we sell it?” Did you know that people will pay a lot for an old beer can? Apparently, old zippo lighters are now considered collectors’ items. (“Smoking art is hot!” the clerk at the trash store told me yesterday when I bought an old humidor to use as a nightstand in the guest room.) We have a bunch of old zippos. We have all kinds of old crap. We are going to get rich from my husband’s hoarding. Ha.

In the bleak midwinter

It’s almost the solstice for us northern hemisphere folks so I thought you might like to see a painting of a woman with sausage hair

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Oh you guys. My old blog – The Class Factotum – disappeared completely. It’s gone. Fifteen years of blogging. Disappeared. Not even the cached pages are available. All that baloney about how stuff on the internet is never gone? That it’s here forever?

That’s a big fat lie.

If someone somehow gets into your blogspot account, which is owned by google, and deletes that account, google just throws up its hands and says, “So sorry. Nothing to be done.”

Same thing happened with journalspace, the blog host I had before blogspot.

And my friend at Privilege lost her blog for a scary week, although fortunately, her hosting service was able to restore it.

I have written to the CEO of google to ask him to restore my blog. We shall see what happens. I am not holding my breath. I didn’t pay anything. I was not a customer. I don’t think google cares about keeping me happy. Why should they?

I did have a backup, but not recent. Not since 2011. Shame on me. You would think after losing one blog, I would know better. (And I can’t figure out how to open the darn backup. You would think being married to an engineer would mean I could outsource this problem, but he reminds me that he is a hardware guy, not a software one, so really, I HAVE NO BACKUP.)

I backed this one up immediately, but this blog is not as much of a diary as the Class Factotum was.

As in, I had my cats’ performance evaluation on it.

And my sister’s wedding.

And our trips to the cottage with our friends Patrick and Ilene.

And our trips to Pittsburgh to see Pete and Julie.

And our trips to Houston for our college reunions.

And my grandma’s funeral. And my great-uncle’s funeral. And visiting my aunts and uncles and cousins. And seeing every other person in my life who is important to me.

I had our everyday things – our Wisconsin 101 and my Engineer 101 and just the weird, fun everyday things that happen in a life that you forget about but are fun to read again.

But now I have lost years of blogging. I have lost years of memories.

And y’all – it’s making me a little bit sad.

No.

It’s making me a lot sad.

I know it’s not a big deal. Nobody has died. Nobody is sick. Nobody is in financial peril. This is not a tragedy.

But I feel like something big has been taken from me – something big that I can never get back.

So if you have a blog – go back it up. Right now. Go. Do it.

 

I fought The Patriarchy and The Patriarchy won

When you want Revolution but lose your will

Revolution

You guys – y’all – (I just read something in an anthology of old Bitch magazine articles that “guys” is gendered and it means “men” which means I shouldn’t be using it but up here it seems so gender neutral so I don’t know about that and I’m going to have to think about it.)

Let me start over.

Greetings, earthlings.

I have been trying so hard to fight the patriarchy, although it’s difficult. I don’t talk about it at work, because – well, I work for money and I don’t have power and I need the health insurance, even though my company plan is Blue Cross of Michigan, which is horrible and I am willing to go on record saying that. Blue Cross of Michigan, YOU STINK.

Oh yeah – and your systems that wouldn’t let me register Mr T online because his first name has too many characters? You really hadn’t updated anything since 1983? BECAUSE TEXT FIELD LENGTH ISN’T AN ISSUE ANYMORE, YOU KNOW.

Back to the patriarchy. I want to fix the big things. I want revolution.

I want to fix pay inequity.

I want sexual harassment, especially at work, to end. And I am happy to see male execs (finally) being fired for violating company policies on dating subordinates. I don’t care if it’s consensual. If you’re the exec and the person you are dating is any level lower than you are, there is a power imbalance that at some point can hurt the subordinate. I am tired of seeing the women suffer for this BS.

(And also, in a few of these cases in the link, the execs are also married, which – dudes. For real? You are married. And also “dating” someone you work with? Who is a subordinate? You thought this was a good idea? You should be fired just for being stupid.)

I want revolution. I want more bathrooms. I want FGM to end. I want forced marriage to end. I want so many things.

But there is so little I can do.

But, I think, I can start small. At least there are things I can do in my everyday life. There are small but significant protests I can make.

I can stop coloring my hair! I can say, “Not today, patriarchy! I will not bow to your looksist insistence on youth! I will not color my hair anymore! My hair will be what it will be!”

And indeed I am taking that step.

I am two inches into not coloring my hair.

Part of it – OK – most of it – is because my hairdresser retired in September (why must I suffer like this?) and I don’t trust anyone else to do my color.

So I guess I am actually just a very bad, lazy, cheap feminist.

Who – might change her mind in a few months.

Oh Lord.

And then here is where I really am a failed feminist.

I thought, But I will chose – I CHOSE – not to wear makeup anymore.

I mean, why bother? It’s not like I am going to advance professionally. It’s not like I am at work to find me a man. It’s not like anyone cares. And half the women (of the 6.8% female population of my office) I work with also don’t wear makeup.

I thought, I also will not wear makeup to work!

I wasn’t even wearing that much.

I wear a little bit of pink eyeshadow just to make it look like I wasn’t punched in the eyes. And a little bit of mascara to make it look like I have eyelashes.

I put my makeup on on my drive to work. As I leave the house, I pull the mascara from my purse and stick it in my bra to warm it up. By the time I get to the long light at Bluemound, it’s warm enough and the puffiness around my eyes has gone down enough for me to apply it. And the car is the perfect place to apply makeup – I can actually get close enough to a mirror to see what I am doing.

I was going to be done with all that.

DONE!

FREE!

Feminism was going to set me free from the tyranny of makeup!

FREEDOM!

Well, from the mild assertiveness of makeup. Of a tiny bit of pink eyeshadow and mascara.

BUT FREEDOM NONETHELESS!

And a blow against the patriarchy. A statement.

So I did it.

I left for work and the mascara stayed in the purse.

I arrived at work makeup-less.

I stayed makeup-less all day.

Every time I walked into the bathroom, I saw myself.

And thought, Oh man. I sure do look tired.

The next day, the same thing.

No makeup. And I sure did look tired.

It’s a good thing I do not know any state secrets because apparently, it would not take much for me to betray my country. I couldn’t even hold out three days.

On Day 3, I stuck the mascara in my bra.

At the stop and go light at Bluemound, I put on the eyeshadow and mascara.

My friends, I have failed you and I have failed feminism.

I am sorry.

I don’t know how we will ever defeat The Patriarchy if I can’t even go three days without mascara.

 

 

 

When they reach from the grave to hurt you today

When being dead doesn’t matter to alcoholics

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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.

Anyhow.

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.

Ophelia

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?

Well.

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?

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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.