Chick lit

I have read enough about men, thank you

Still waiting for the sister publication, Great Men Artists

I never did like Lord of the Rings and after reading these tweets, I’ve figured out why.

Watching Lord of the Rings with my daughter. She’s 5. She has a lot of questions, but the first was “Are there only boys in this movie?”


Rewatched the LOTR trilogy recently and my kid casually says, “this is the only scene where 2 women speak to each other in the whole trilogy.” The exchange? A little girl says to Eowyn, “Where’s Mama?!” Eowyn shushes her. “Shh!” End scene. Ouch.

Gabriella Cázares-Kelly

I can’t remember if we read The Hobbit (I think we did and I hated it) in high school, but I do remember some of the other books we read:

  • Lord Jim
  • Heart of Darkness
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Great Expectations
  • Lord of the Flies
  • A Separate Peace
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Catcher in the Rye

I also remember some of the authors and books I read in college, where I was an English major:

  • Shakespeare stuff
  • Moby Dick
  • Thoreau
  • Whitman
  • Dickens
  • Far from the Madding Crowd
  • The Awakening
  • A Room of One’s Own
  • The White Hotel
  • Women in Love
  • The Good Soldier
  • Huckleberry Finn

Although some of them were OK – how can you not like Dickens? he’s so plot driven – most of the stories did not speak to me.

They were stories written by men about men. About men’s lives, interior and exterior.

Even when there were women, they were about men about women. Even when the word “women” was in the title, the story was about men. In Women in Love, my professor suggested that it was really the two men who loved each other, referencing a naked wrestling scene, which, yeah, two men wrestling naked with each other would lead me to think that maybe they weren’t so interested in the women, either.

In the books written by women – The Awakening and A Room of One’s Own – the lives of the female characters are awful. The Awakening ends with the character walking into the ocean to drown herself because she can’t bear it anymore.

Here’s some what I read when I was a girl and had a choice:

  • Nancy Drew
  • The Ramona books
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Are You There God It’s Me Margaret
  • Trixie Belden
  • Pippi Longstocking
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Caddie Woodlawn
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Heidi

Do you notice a theme?

They’re all books about girls.

They’re all books where girls are the heroes.

I loved to read. I loved to read when I was a kid. I loved to read so much when I was a kid that the library would let me check books out on my mom’s ID card without my mom being there. I loved to read so much that my parents had to force me to join a soccer team. I loved to read.

And then I got to high school and college English. I still loved to read, but it suddenly wasn’t as much fun. Some of it was the adult themes – I have only in the past few years really understood Lord Jim, which is all about regret; some of it was the stupid whininess of rich teenaged boys – looking at you, Holden Caufield; but most of it, I think, was because almost none of it was by or about women and girls.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know this is The Canon, but maybe the canon should change? (Maybe it has. I hope so.)

But after high school English and college English, I didn’t read for fun for a long time. I bought the occasional book (which is very much not me – why would I pay for something so ephemeral?) but didn’t get a library card until 12 years after I had graduated from college.

I had forgotten that there were stories by women about women. I had forgotten there were stories where girls and women were the heroes.

Do I sound crabby? I guess I am.

I’m crabby that women’s stories are dismissed as “chick lit,” especially when women write those stories, but men’s stories are just – stories. Literature. (See Jennifer Weiner’s accurate observations about this issue.)

I’m crabby that we’re in a world where women are being diminished and our rights are being taken away and our stories don’t seem to matter.

I’m crabby that women who are miscarrying are being sent home from ERs rather than being treated because the hospitals are scared.

I don’t know if literature can change the world, but do you think maybe if these legislators had read more women’s stories, they might feel differently?


Is beauty a shield?

Or is it a curse?

I want to go after the predators. (“Medusa” by Luciano Garbati)

I have always envied beautiful women. What’s it like to glide through the world, with doors (literally) opened for you? What’s it like to (I assume) like what you see in the mirror and not to hate the camera? What’s it like to know that you have the one currency that is valued in women?

And then I read what happened to Paulina Porizkova.

When she was 15 years old.

I don’t know about you, but I had barely kissed a boy when I was 15. I had seen my brother naked, but I was not in the habit of seeing the penises of men I didn’t even know. Or even of the ones I did know.

In my world, men did not show their penises to teenage girls.

In this excerpt (from her book) below, Porizkova is having her makeup done at one of her first photo shoots.

I watched in the mirror as the photographer sidled up behind me and placed something warm and yielding on my shoulder. I kept smiling. The thing on my shoulder looked like a large brown flower in the reflection, and I got a whiff of something food-​­like, soup-​­like. A soft, heavy pretzel? Pantyhose stuffed with mashed potatoes? The room was silent except for the pop of an umbrella flash followed by a high-​­pitched whine as the photo assistant tested the equipment nearby. The makeup artist moved aside a little and laughed. Her laughter assured me this was funny. I joined in, giggling, although I had no idea what I was laughing at.

I kept staring at myself and this odd thing in the mirror. My shoulder was at the same height as the photographer’s crotch. Finally, I turned my head to look at it directly and realized it was attached to his body. Attached to the part of his body where a penis would be. It rested there, casually, nestled between my collarbone and the side of my neck. I looked back at us in the mirror.

He grinned at me as if this was a fun little joke. The makeup artist shook her head lightly and raised her eyebrows, as if to say, “Here he goes again!”

I had seen photos and illustrations of penises in health and biology classes at school, but I had never seen a real penis before, and certainly not one held up right next to my face. Could it be?

I wanted to jump up and get away from it. But with another woman laughing, I thought my impulse must be wrong. Her laughter made the whole thing seem … lighthearted. Inconsequential. Like I’d ruin the fun if I didn’t laugh along. I kept smiling. I needed them to like me.

It wasn’t until he retracted that thing on my shoulder, stuffed it back in his pants, and zipped up that I knew for certain that, yes, it really, actually had been his penis.

Paulina Porizkova, The Cut

Nobody came to her aid.

Nobody told the man to knock it off.

Nobody protected her.

I know it was the ’70s, but even back then, it was not, I am pretty sure, socially acceptable or work acceptable to put your penis on the shoulder of a teenage girl.

I don’t have an answer. I don’t know what to say to the man who put his penis on the shoulder of a girl he didn’t know or to the people who enabled him. I don’t know what we do. I wish she had named names. But even if she did, would shame work? Some men are beyond shame.

I leave you with an insta post where Porizkova describes what it’s like to be beautiful but still think you don’t measure up.

My friend is beautiful

She knows because her grandmother and mother told her

(This post isn’t really about feet. But these shoes are awesome.)

Years ago, my friend Shayna and I were at the pool with her grandparents and her mom. Shayna was sitting on the edge of the pool, dangling her feet in the water.

Her grandmother lifted Shayna’s foot and stroked it, saying, “Have you ever seen such a beautiful foot? Shayna, you have the most beautiful feet I have ever seen! Mimi, look at your daughter’s feet. Aren’t they gorgeous?”

Shanya’s mom waded over, looked at Shayna’s foot, and agreed with Shayna’s grandmother. The two of them raved about Shayna’s feet for another minute while Shayna sat there, soaking it in and accepting the praise as if it was something she had heard every day of her life.

Which may have been the case.

I told this story to a friend.

After a long pause, she asked, “People grow up that way? People have parents and grandparents who lavish praise on them?”

“I know!” I laughed. “I know!”

I come from a long line of non-praisers. They were not praised, so they never learned how to praise.

I’m sure this does not make me unusual.

Indeed, I have read that the northern European child-rearing practice has been not to praise kids because you don’t want them to become arrogant. “Don’t want them to get a swelled head” is what I remember seeing.

Shayna had an ease and a confidence in her body that I have never had.

When we were in grad school, she pulled at her waistband and said she had gained some weight during her part-time waitressing job.

Then she shrugged and said, “I need to stop eating the maraschino cherries at work. Turns out they have a lot of calories.”

And that was it. That was the extent of her distress over having gained a little bit of weight. She wasn’t concerned.

She was also confident about her intellectual abilities.

I, too, am confident about mine, but that’s because there are many sources of validation about our brains. We get good grades, we do well at work. We don’t need people to tell us we are smart.

But about our bodies? Growing up? Whom do we trust to give us feedback on our bodies?

My influences as a kid were Seventeen magazine, the covers of McCall’s, Vogue, and Butterick patterns, and General Hospital.

In these, I saw thin, sometimes Black but mostly White, beautiful women.



Completely unattainable.

And there was nothing to tell me that looking like an ordinary girl or teenager was OK.

All I knew was I didn’t look like any of the women I saw in the media.

Shayna also did not look like the women in the media (now we know that neither do the women in the media), but she had reinforcement from other places. She had people telling her that her feet were beautiful.

Her feet.

If she had people she trusted telling her at age 33 that her feet were beautiful, my guess is that they had also been telling her since the day she was born that her elbows were beautiful. That her knees were beautiful. That her stomach was beautiful. That her thumbs were beautiful. That her everything was beautiful. That she was beautiful.

The people she trusted gave her the armor she needed to face the world.

I don’t want women to think their only worth is in how they look. Beauty <> value.

But I also can’t ignore reality.

If someone knows – because the people she loves and trusts have told her – that she has beautiful feet and beautiful hands and beautiful elbows and beautiful everything, that’s one less battle she has to fight.

Nobody likes me

(Turns out that’s probably not true)

I’m torn between the desire to make friends and the desire to stay at home and read.

Usually, I choose reading.

But when I do want to make friends (the research shows that people with strong social networks are both happier and healthier and who doesn’t want to be happier or healthier?), I’m not sure how to do it.

I didn’t know how when I was a kid – you would think changing schools ten times before graduating from high school would have taught me but it didn’t – and I don’t know how now.

I do know, however, that Mr T’s approach might not be the right way.

Me: Spouses really aren’t supposed to rely on each other for all their friendship needs.

(I’m making that up, but it makes sense, right?)

Me: Isn’t there anyone around here you would like to be friends with?

Mr T: I’d like to hang out with Sergio.

Me: Then why don’t you?

Mr T: He’s busy! He has a job and he’s in a band and he has a little kid.

Me: He lives one block away and you could sit in the driveway and have a beer. Do you ever ask him that?

Mr T: Sure I do! Almost every time I run into him, I say we should have a beer together.

Me: And?

Mr T: And what?

Me: And then what?

Mr T: What do you mean?

Me: Do you suggest a time?

Mr T: No. I figure he’s the one with the busy schedule.

Me: Ha. When people do this to me – when they say “We should get coffee!” and then don’t follow up, I take it as they expect me to do all the work. If someone suggests getting together, I expect her to take the next step and propose a date.

Mr T: Oh. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

Me: I have friends who have thanked me for being the one who invites, which I don’t mind. If I see something I’d like to do, I don’t mind suggesting it. But if the other person brings up an activity, she should be the one who does the work to arrange it. And if she is always tossing out a general “We should get together sometime!” but never actually proposes a specific time, I assume she really doesn’t want to get together.

Mr T: Maybe.

Me: Maybe you need to be the one to say “Want to come over tomorrow after work and have a beer?”

Mr T: Maybe.

Guess what?

I’m probably wrong that the person who suggests without proposing doesn’t actually want to get together. They probably are not empty words at all.

But the person who says “Let’s have lunch!” and then never sets anything up might not have read Dr Marisa Franco‘s new book, Platonic.

Dr Franco, whose field of research is friendship, explains how to make friends. If you don’t want to read the book, listen to the podcast below. Even the first ten minutes are worth it.

Here’s a summary:

  • Put yourself around people
  • Talk to them
  • If you have a spark with someone, say, “You seem cool! Want to get coffee sometime?”
  • If they say yes, then set up a time

She also says that people like you more than you think they do. I always assume that I am bothering people and that they have better things to do to talk to me, but maybe that’s not true?

And to stop avoiding people, either by not going out at all or by hiding in the corner with the cats when you go to a party. OK, she said with the dog, but I would never choose a dog over people. A cat, yes. A dog, no.

Mr T and I are both going to try. He is going to invite his friend over on a specific date.

And the next time someone tells me that we should get together, instead of getting cranky that she doesn’t take the next step, which is my preference, I am going to take a deep breath and propose a date myself.

God forgives you but I do not

(And I’m pretty sure that the people I do not forgive aren’t asking God, either)

“For the times you tricked me/For the children you didn’t give me/The promises you didn’t keep/The kisses you didn’t seek….God forgives you/But I do not”
Diana Navarro

There are people in my life I will never forgive.

Some things are unforgiveable.

Especially when the people who have wronged you don’t ask for forgiveness.

I will never forgive Mr T’s parents for telling him not to marry me, then telling him that they would not come to our wedding (which was actually fine with me), and relenting only when he told them I was pregnant and that if they did not come to the wedding, they would never see their grandchild.

I will never forgive them for disinheriting him yet dumping all the (very messy) estate and trustee work on him.

I will never forgive Mr T’s brother for accusing him of stealing from our disabled nephew’s trust.

I will never forgive Mr T’s brother for screaming at him for not reimbursing him $800 cash for the frequent flyer miles he used to attend their father’s funeral.

I will never forgive because these people never asked for forgiveness.

They never said they were sorry.

They never changed their behavior.

I never forgave and I never will forgive and I am happy to have cut them out of my life.

It works for me.

There are people who have been taught that they have to put up with this kind of treatment.

There are people who have been taught that being a good Christian means that no matter what kind of abuse someone dishes out, you have to take it.

My friends, Jesus never said you had to put yourself in situations where you were going to be abused.

He never said that even though you know people are going to be mean to you, you still have to be around them.

Indeed, he was the master of subversive resistance.

That whole “turn the other cheek” thing?

Look it up. It’s all about social status and how people slapped each other back then. Turning the other cheek was basically forcing Regina George to let you sit with her at lunch.

I have a friend, whom I love deeply, who has told me that I should forgive Mr T’s parents and his brother. When I tell her stories about the parents and brother, she does not want to hear them. She says I need to put that behind me, even though the brother is still around and still causing trouble and even though part of the way we put things behind us is by telling the stories.

She tells me to forgive.

She does not think I should cut them out of my life.

She does not think I should get to avoid people who make me unhappy.

All I want is for her to tell me that I’m right and that these people are awful.

But then I remember that she was raised and still lives in a very conservative community.

I remind myself that she grew up in a different world. Who would *choose* a world where you have to be around jerks?

My heart breaks for her as I think about how much pain she must have in her life. How many times has she been forced to grit her teeth and endure the company of people who have hurt her? How many times has she been told that the only way to be a good person – to be a good woman? – is to “forgive” the person who wronged her? How many times has she been forced to squelch her own wishes?

And I exhale.

And I forgive her. I forgive her for not listening to my stories. For not telling me I’m right and that these people are awful. And I give her a hug for all the pain in her life and wish it could have been different for her.

What was she wearing?

You let him into your apartment what did you expect?

Photo by lil artsy on

Mr T was in the men’s room in the Orlando airport (not for fun – it was the cheapest place to fly when he went to help our nieces clean out their mom’s house) in the men’s room.

He heard someone vomiting in a stall.

And vomiting.

At first, he was concerned, but then he heard laughter.

“DUDE!” came a voice from another stall.

“I KNOW! I’M SO HUNGOVER!” said the man in the vomit stall.

“OR IT’S JUST ALL THAT BAD PUSSY!” said the second man.

I saw Sue Blaustein, this amazing poet, speak.

She is petite with white hair and intense eyes. She strikes me as someone who would not suffer fools. I would definitely want her on my side in a fight.

She read a poem she had written, about camping with her sister 30 years ago. (Unfortunately, the poem does not appear to be online.)

They were at a bluegrass festival in Kentucky and had settled into their tent for the night. The sister had already fallen asleep when Sue heard one of the festival bouncers calling from outside their tent. He kept saying, “I know y’all aren’t sleeping in there!”

She thought she couldn’t even call the police because he might be the police.

She realized she had broken her husband’s rule of camping, which is you park the car for easy escape. She had parked facing the river.

She remembered being 17 and the hand over her mouth and the arm lifting her slight body up from the gravel.

She remembered worrying about what her father would think when the police called him, how he would wonder why she had even been in the place she was.

She remembered not being able to breathe.

She kicked and got away from her assailant.

She woke her sister, grabbed the car keys, muffling the sound, and they sneaked into the car, locked the doors, and drove close to the highway, where they stayed until the sun came up.

After she finished the poem, she said, “I am 67 years old and I am still so angry with myself for putting myself into that situation when I was 17.”

I’m still angry at myself for letting the guy into my apartment when I was 23.

He was my friends’ boss and I’d had a crush on him since I’d met him at a happy hour with the friends a few months before.

He had since quit his job to go to grad school in St Louis. When he came back to Austin for spring break, we all went out together, then he drove to see his sister in Houston.

When he got to his sister’s, he called me and asked me out. He drove back to Austin the next day. We went out.

I assumed he had someplace to stay – he’d lived in Austin for 15 years before he left.

But he insisted that he needed to stay with me.

And insisted.

And insisted.

Current me would have laughed and said “Dude you need to figure this out. Bye!” and shut the door.

But 23 year old me was stupid.

I let him in, telling him he could sleep on the sofa.

He started talking AGAIN.

And he would not shut up, telling me over and over I shouldn’t be afraid of my passion and ALL THIS BULLSHIT.

I finally slept with him just to get him to shut up.

And I even went out with him again one more time (that is, he stayed over another weekend).

Why did I go out with him again? Part of me really did like him – he was really smart and interesting.

But I think part of it was to reclaim my agency. I was *choosing* to be with him. There was nothing forced about it.

It was the third time that I finally said no and stuck to it.

He had written me a letter asking me to move to California with him.

Not to marry him – just to move.

Like – I was supposed to take all this risk, quitting my job, just to move for someone I had gone out with a few times?


(I didn’t even want to marry him.)

I ignored the letter.

Then he called and called and called.

I ignored his calls.

He left long messages.

I listened and then hit delete.

I did not call back.

I didn’t want to encourage him and I wasn’t going to waste money on long-distance calls.

Then I got another letter telling me AGAIN NOT TO BE AFRAID OF MY PASSION and I thought what kind of bullshit is that anyway?

I wasn’t afraid of my passion.

I was afraid of a man who wouldn’t hear the word “no.”

He called again and left a message that he was driving down from St Louis and would be in Austin the next day or whenever (I don’t remember how long it takes to drive from St Louis to Austin) and was coming straight to see me.

I locked my apartment, got into my car, and went to a friend’s house for the day.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I would admit to myself that the first night was a kind of rape.

Even though if I would tell this story to most people, they would say no, you were not raped.

You were not forced.

You let him into your house.

You let him into your bed.

How can it be rape if you let him into your house and you said yes?

Hay comida en casa

Why would I eat out when I could have my freedom instead?

I already loved the husbands of Mr T’s stepdaughters, but some of it was in that abstract, “I know they must be wonderful if my bonus daughters chose them” way, as I have not gotten to spend much time with them, but Mr T and I recently visited them and that’s when I discovered THEY ARE MY PEOPLE.

We were all at Bonus Daughter 2 and Husband of BD2’s house, making adobo and pancit, eating an appetizer of burrata with fresh basil and tomatoes and balsamic that BD2 just threw together.

Looks like something you would see in a fancy restaurant, doesn’t it?

Mr T said that BD2 makes amazing adobo.

HBD2 agreed, then said that he hates to eat out because it’s a waste of money. Both he and BD2 can cook and why would you buy food at a restaurant when you can cook and eat at home?

I already loved him but that’s when I know I adored him.

I hate eating out.


Let me amend that.

I hate eating out unless I am in complete control.

I hate eating out unless I am alone with Mr T. (And we’re not even doing that these days unless we’re traveling and that’s the only way to get food and where we travel, the vax rate is 20 points higher than where we live so we don’t feel like we’re risking death by eating out.)

If we go out with other people, there are so many other variables.

Who chooses the restaurant?

What if it’s too expensive?

In before times, when we would eat out with friends, I hated the stress of not knowing how much it would cost and how the bill would be split.

If the restaurant was expensive, I stressed about ordering even for ourselves. I don’t want to spend a lot of money even for just us and now, we are at the point where it seems people just split the bill, which I get, except I never order alcohol and I don’t get the expensive stuff because I don’t want to spend a lot of money and so it seems even if we split the bill 50/50, we are paying more than our share.

Or, as is actually more common, with our extraordinarily generous friends, they just pick up the check.

But I don’t want to be a charity case.

So that means we pick up the check the next time.

Which, again, returns us to the same problem that we don’t spend as much as others do.

Which I know the long run doesn’t really matter and we have lovely friends who share so much with us and I NEED TO GET OVER IT but there’s this part of me that thinks WHY WOULD YOU PAY EXTRA FOR SOMETHING YOU COULD MAKE AT HOME?

(Also – I really enjoy cooking with my friends.)

Most of our friends are still working. But Mr T and I are unemployed. I think we might be retired? I’m not sure.

A recruiter approached me about a job – a well-paying job but not life-changing money – but I weighed the money against my freedom and decided I would rather have my freedom.

HBD2 is in a similar situation. He is neither retired nor unemployed, but he works as a consultant part time, doing IT stuff. He doesn’t want to return to full-time work, even though he is recruited hard by the big names. He doesn’t want the hassle.

Instead, he wants to spend time with his young children. They and his wife are his priority.

He, like Mr T and I, is aware this means making tradeoffs.

If the price of freedom is never eating in a restaurant again, I will pay it.

Living on the edge and not in a good way

If I was so worried about being poor when I was in college, then why the hell did I change my major from engineering to English? (Again in the category of “Things I would like to address with my 18 year old self.”)


After we had been out of college for a few years, one of my college friends mentioned casually that I sure had talked about money a lot when we were in school.

As I listened to her words, I flushed with shame.

Hadn’t everyone talked about money?

Hadn’t everyone worried about money?

Apparently not.

I realized that among my friends, I was one of the few paying my own way. Some had full financial aid – not even loans – and some had full coverage from their parents.

I was in that middle space where I had scholarships and loans, which were enough to cover my tuition and room and board but not enough for books and incidentals like evening meals on weekends, which were not provided, or goofing off.

That meant was that I needed to work during the summer and during the school year, which was fine. I didn’t mind working. My school job was fun – waiting tables with your friends (friends to this day, I might add) at the faculty club during lunch or weekend parties is not the worst way to spend time.

Working didn’t set me apart from my friends, but having to take out loans and worrying about paying them back did.

To this day, I wonder how my financial aid was calculated. My parents did not have one spare penny to give me.

Well, they gave me $400 one semester to buy books and to buy a Greyhound ticket to come home for Christmas, but usually, they didn’t have much to give. But I didn’t expect them to. They weren’t supposed to. I had never thought my parents would pay for my college.

One of the main reasons I applied to the school I did was because there was no application fee. I applied early decision and was accepted and that was it. I didn’t apply anywhere else.

They gave me scholarships and offered me guaranteed student loans (for a total of $13,000 in loans, which, considering what kids borrow today, was not a lot) to cover what the scholarships did not.

It wasn’t unreasonable for me to take out loans, but I still wonder how some people got full scholarship aid and I did not. My dad – with two other kids – would have made under $25,000 a year. Tuition and room and board were about $8,000 a year, I think. How did the school decide who had to take loans and who got full aid?

I still have questions.

Another friend asked why my mom hadn’t gotten a job to pay my tuition.

It was as if she thought my parents were some kind of failure, but the reality was that most of my childhood was spent abroad, where my mom couldn’t legally get a job. Even on base, the civilian jobs, for the most part, were reserved by treaty for the citizens of the host country.

If someone were to ask that today, I would say that my dad’s job required that he risk his life as part of his job description and STFU, but I know that my friend, who was and still is a dear friend, meant no malice. When you’re that age, you just don’t know.

(A woman at my high school best friend’s wedding breakfast asked me what my dad’s retirement rank was. This woman’s husband had been in the military and her son was an aide de camp to a general in Turkey. She knew *exactly* what she was asking me. If she had asked current me, I would ask in reply, “Why do you want to know?”

For those who don’t understand the significance of this question, it is the equivalent of asking not only one’s income but also one’s social position. It is considered extremely impolite. Extremely.)

When I was going into seventh grade, my mom was excited to find a bunch of colorful double-knit polyester remnants at the fabric store for only a quarter apiece. My brother and sister were still in Catholic school and wearing uniforms, but I was going to public school that year and needed new clothes. My mom was able to make me a bunch of pants from those remnants. Those pants are what I wore to school.

That is, my mom was able to figure out how to dress me with the incredibly small budget available to her.

I thought that was normal.

I still think she was amazing for clothing and feeding three children and herself and my dad with almost no money.

She must have been exhausted.

Mr T jokes that I act like I am going to be a bag lady any second.

I get annoyed because he spends money on things like cinnamon rolls from Costco. First of all, they probably don’t even taste good. Second, I can make cinnamon rolls from scratch for a lot less money.

I worry that we will run out of money and be on the street and freeze or starve to death.

I guess not everyone worries about that?

We will not be silenced

They think they can scare women but they can’t

Photo by Anete Lusina on


I wrote this post the week before the April 4 election in Wisconsin. I waited to run it until after the election because I want to stay somewhat anonymous.

You will all be happy to know that my candidates won and all three of the men – the ZERO TOLERANCE men – LOST.

Also – I finally looked at their facebook pages and guess what?

They disabled comments on their pages.

They could dish it out but they couldn’t take it.

Opponents of the candidate I support for school board are trying to get me kicked off a city board where I volunteer because they don’t like a comment I made on my candidate’s facebook page.


You read that right.

I made a comment on *my candidate’s page.*

My candidate’s opponents did not like my comment.

So they googled me and discovered I volunteer on a city board – let’s say it’s the Twinkie Board, where most of the meetings are about reviewing and approving Twinkie invoices, updating Twinkie policies, like can we convert some employees from part time to full time and is there money for it and will the city council approve it, and talking about the annual Twinkie budget and will the city approve that.

Glamorous, right? People are lined up to volunteer to be on the board so they can attend the board meetings every month and the committee meetings and read and prepare for the meetings.

Hahahaha I joke.

We have a contentious school board race in my town this year. Who knew?

Oh wait anyone who is paying attention anywhere.

School board races all over are contentious.

And somewhere, someone is coordinating something where men are running in groups of three, as a slate. My town is not the only place it’s happening. They all seem to have the same agenda, with similar platforms.

In my town, the language is about “ROI” on the schools and “zero tolerance.”

Who talks about return on investment on public schools?

I have never heard one of these people talk about ROI on the police department. Or on the fire department. Or on the highways. Or on the library.

But suddenly, the schools are supposed to show a profit?

How do we even calculate that?

I have an MBA from a top 20 school. I had a 4.0 GPA. I worked in corporate finance at a Fortune 100 company. I’m smart.

I don’t even know how to begin to calculate the ROI on a public school.

And zero tolerance.

Which means – something about kicking kids out of school if they fight.

Which has been happening a lot I guess.

Because children have just been through a few HIGHLY TRAUMATIC YEARS.

So yeah – kicking them out of school and sending them back home, where they’ve been isolated for the past few years is the solution.

Also. Our district is mostly white, but we have open enrollment with a neighboring city which is mostly Black, which means we have Black students from that city in our schools.

Some – only some – of our city’s parents don’t like that.

Some of our city’s parents don’t want to tolerate that.

The three men sent out a very expensive mailing. That is, they each sent out a big postcard.

I know it was expensive because when Mr T was running for office, we thought about sending out a mailer (maybe we did send it? I don’t know those years are a blur) and know how much it costs. It costs A LOT. Thousands of dollars.

In one of them, one man accused my candidate – a woman – of being soft on crime because she is against zero tolerance.

My candidate – let’s call her Athena and let’s call the man Nathan Bedford Forrest (IYKYK) – wrote on her facebook page that Nathan had misrepresented her position.

Wrote on *her* page. *Her* page.

I commented on *her* page that it often seems that the people who love zero tolerance turn into “boys will be boys” people when it comes to sexual assault and rape.

You would have thought I kicked their dog by the way Nathan’s supporters came after me.

On Athena’s page.

On *Athena’s* page.

They ripped into me.

How DARE I accuse Bubba of that!

(Nobody named Bubba is even running?)

I even got a direct message telling me I really needed to re-think my life choices from some woman whose own page is riddled with misspellings and typos and I know it makes me classist but I couldn’t take her seriously.

But I had broken my own rule.

I had posted something controversial (I didn’t think it would be controversial) on someone else’s page.

So, six hours later, I deleted it and sent an apology to Athena. The last thing she needs is drama. She already gets enough of it as an incumbent and a woman of color on the school board. The haters come after her every day.

The day after that, I got an email from the mayor, with a cc to the city attorney.

I have known the mayor for years and honestly, would have thought he’d be on my side on this, given his career and his known political leanings.

He wrote that he had gotten several complaints about me and what I had written from people who wanted me removed from the Twinkie board. He said that there is no mechanism to remove me from the board and that I have a First Amendment right to say what I did but that emotions were running high and maybe I could tone it down.

This is me with my jaw dropping.

And still dropping.

And still dropping.

Two days later (of writing, not of this publication date), I still don’t know why – if I have a First Amendment right – WHICH I DO – to say what I think – and there is no mechanism to remove me from the board – he felt it necessary to write to me?

He could have just told the haters about the First Amendment.

Which they probably never heard of because they probably went to school in a place with a school board made up of people like them.


Because the asking me to tone it down part was completely out of line.

He’s not my dad.

He is my friend.

But he was writing to me in his official capacity.

To ask me to tone it down.

I told him I had deleted the post and apologized to Athena.

He replied that we all say things in the heat of the moment.

I didn’t answer him.

I didn’t tell him that it wasn’t the heat of the moment.

That I firmly believed what I said.

That I firmly do believe that the zero tolerance stuff is a racist, sexist dog whistle and that they want zero tolerance only for the people who don’t look like them.

You know when boys get to be boys?

When they’re white. And when they attack girls and women.

That’s when boys get to be boys.

When Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault, white conservatives couldn’t defend him quickly enough.

He was just a boy! they cried. That was so long ago!

But what if he’d been Black?


You know.

You know what would have happened.

It took work to track down that I’m part of the Twinkie board.

It took work to have multiple people write to the mayor.

It took work to generate that much outrage about a comment on the page of their candidate’s opponent.

When Mr T was running for office, he never bothered to look at the comments on his opponent’s page. He was too busy campaigning.

He wasn’t trying to cancel his opponent’s supporters.

He wasn’t triggered by his opponent’s supporters.

But Mr T isn’t a delicate snowflake, I guess.

Also – and I think this is a key point, especially because Mr T is not known for holding his tongue – Mr T is male and I am female.

My friend Medusa has a history of speaking up for women candidates and our public schools.


Medusa has gotten hate mail through the USPS.

I mean – they have bothered to find her actual mailing address and put a stamp on an envelope and send her something, including a screenshot of a post where her husband mentioned something about how true patriots don’t fly the Confederate flag.

Which they would know if they knew US history (TLDR Wisconsin was not in the Confederacy) which they don’t know because they had idiots like them in charge of their schools.

I get it. I learned only a few years ago that the real reason that the Texans wanted independence from Mexico is because Mexico had outlawed slavery.

That is, the Texas revolution wasn’t about freedom at all.

It was about preserving slavery.

I, too, went to schools run by idiots who either didn’t know the truth themselves or didn’t want the truth known.

But we know better now or should know better.

I’m not sure what they’re trying to accomplish.

Do they think Medusa and I will support their side?

Do they think they will scare us into silence?

Do they think we’re weak?

They’re wrong.

Noli Me Tangere

If you wouldn’t do it to Dwayne The Rock Johnson, then don’t do it to anyone else. That’s not a hard concept, is it?

Photo by Kelly on

Mr T and I visited our Bonus Daughters and their families, which include four grandchildren whom I had not seen since BC.

I wanted to hug them and pinch their fat cheeks but.

I also want them to have the confidence to reject any touch they do not want.

I want them to have full bodily autonomy.

I want them to be the bosses of themselves.

There’s a story in the Washington post about American girls and how screwed up things are for them.

That is, it’s a story about how crappily our culture treats girls in so many ways.

The crisis in American girlhood” Washington Post

“That’s rape,” I told Mr T. “They should call it rape because that’s what it is.”

“Well,” he said. “I think they mean being forced into sex with their boyfriends who are their age, not sex with a stranger.”

“It’s still rape,” I answered. “It’s still rape.”

“But it’s not like they were raped by their father. Or a stranger who broke into their house. Or their uncle.”

“If they said ‘no’ at any point and then the boyfriend kept trying to talk them into it, that. is. rape. They said no. They said no. They said NO.”

“Oh,” Mr T said. “Oh. Oh. Yes. I hadn’t thought of it like that, but yes.”

I wrote to one of the reporters on the story – Donna St George – to ask her why the CDC uses the phrase “forced to have sex” instead of “rape,” which is clearly the correct term.

She answered immediately. “I think the CDC used the ‘forced to have sex’ phrasing to be as clear as possible about what it was asking the nation’s high school students. There was no major reason that I used ‘forced to have sex’ before I used ‘rape’ in my previous story. They are one and the same.”

Of course.

Of course the CDC used “forced to have sex.” Of course they did.

A fourteen year old girl thinks the same way Mr T did.

If it’s your boyfriend – if it’s someone who claims to care about you, how can it be rape?

When I saw the grandkids, I held out my fist for a bump.

“If you want to hug, that would be fine,” I said, “but if you would rather have a fistbump, that is fine, too!”

Bonus Grandson #3, who is eight, hesitated. He had seen me hugging his mom.

“It really is OK!” I said. I held my fist out to him.

He smiled and bumped back.

It really was OK.

This little girl is amazing. The man who commented that the boy just needs to wait a few year, not so much. She said no. She said no.