KARMA

Why yes I am eating that cold pizza AT you, former boss who has been fired in disgrace

Is there anything better than watching someone you – hmmm – someone you DISLIKE INTENSELY FOR VALID REASONS get her comeuppance?

WHY NO THERE IS NOT.

Hahahahahahaha.

Some would say I need to forgive people and not take pleasure in their misfortune but some people have had a charmed life without ever encountering toxic people. I wish those people well – I don’t want anyone to experience toxic jerks – but I cannot forgive those who have wronged me and I take great joy in seeing them get what’s coming to them. If that makes me petty, so be it.


Let me back up. This is the second time that I have had the joy of watching a former boss be fired.

The first time was when I worked for a small company. There were only about 14 of us in the office in my city. The rest of the company, maybe 20 or so, including the CEO, were in Australia.

Here is a sample of the (many) things that made the CEO a horrible boss:

  • He cut my salary by $20K before I even started, saying that the number HR had given me was “full compensation,” not salary, which is BS because nobody in the world answers the question of “How much does it pay?” with a number that includes the value of the benefits.
  • He criticized – yelled – at my boss in public, even though the issues were things over which my boss had no control. Even if my boss had controlled such things, criticizing your team in public is very bad management.
  • After I (tactfully) rated a team meeting as being a “2” because although it was interesting, it covered technical topics I did not need in my position, the CEO called my boss at 9 p.m. that night to tell my boss to tell me not to come to the rest of the team meeting the next day because he was so mad at me. My boss had the unpleasant job of delivering that news to me. After that call, I understood why all my co-workers had given enthusiastic ratings of “FIVE!!!” to the session. They knew.
  • Four of the 14 people in my office had quit in less than a year, including someone who just didn’t come back from lunch one day.

Everyone hated that CEO. He was a jerk to me personally and to everyone else around me. I accepted the job (it was an internal move from the larger parent organization to the smaller company) but started looking for a new one on my first day when I arrived to discover that even though they had known for a month that I was coming, not only did they not have a computer for me, they didn’t even have anywhere for me to sit.

That first day – and the thing that sealed my decision to look for a new job – was when my boss handed (well, emailed) me a list of – I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP – 6,000 companies to COLD CALL to sell the company’s product.

Trust me this aspect of the job was not covered during my interviews.

Eight months later, HR tried to demand an exit interview when I quit. “How can we fix things if you won’t tell us what’s wrong?”

I laughed and said, “I don’t have to do an exit interview and you all know what’s wrong – you just don’t want to deal with it.”

Also, I feared retribution if I told the truth about the CEO. He was that nasty.

Six months after I quit, the board fired the CEO. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was because he is such a jerk. I think it was more because he spent a few hundred thousand dollars renovating the office space in my city, even though the existing space was just fine. You can be a total asshole and get away with it, but don’t waste company money, I guess.

Still, he was fired. And a search online shows that he has become a consultant. Nobody else wants him as a CEO, apparently.


I started my new job and my new boss was fabulous, although I still flinched every time he called me into his office. It took me months to realize he was not calling me in to yell at me or criticize me.

Good Boss: When Texan first started, she was scared every time I called her! But now she is fine.

Me: It’s because I thought you were going to scream at me.

Summer intern: You were like a rescue dog who had been abused!

I even wrote letters to all my former bosses (not including the job I had just left with the Bad CEO), telling them I had never realized how great they were because I had never had a bad boss before. I had taken having a good boss for granted.

Four years after I started, the company was acquired and the new CEO brought in all his GE friends.

(If you know anything at all about GE, this is where you start to get scared.)

In January, I was moved to a different group working under a new VP from GE.

Let’s call her Cruella.

In the year I reported to her, Cruella gave me no objectives. In June, she gave me one assignment. In my review in August, she said not much more than, “People really like you and your work!” She sounded surprised.

In September, she announced a new org chart. She told me the night before the announcement – only because we happened to be walking together to the hotel – that I would now be reporting to Liz, a woman I had recruited and trained. A woman who had no management experience and 15 years less corporate experience. I swallowed and smiled and thought, “Well, at least I like Liz. I can make this work.”

Yeah no.

Liz also gave me no objectives, no feedback. The whole time, I kept doing my old job because nobody had said not to do it and the work needed to be done and I was really good at it.

In December, Cruella called me to tell me she was eliminating my position. I told her she had been trying to get me to quit since the day she started. She retorted that I had really messed up the assignment she had given me in June. Which was the first time I had heard that. If I was going such a crummy job, shouldn’t she – as my manager – give me feedback and direction? And shouldn’t she have mentioned it in my August review?

So I was gone.

And two weeks later, one of my former co-workers quit without another job lined up.

And then the original VP – whom they had demoted to director (the CEO called her on Christmas day to tell her he was bringing in a new VP and that she would be demoted) – quit.

Since then, more of the original team has quit – including Liz, who apparently would go into the bathroom to cry after dealing with Cruella.

And two weeks ago, a friend who still works at the company told me that they had just announced Cruella was leaving, using the “she has been fired” language of “Cruella is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.”

I messaged my former boss: I heard Cruella is gone. I hope she was fired and is leaving in disgrace.

Former boss and now current friend (thumbs up): Yep and yep!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It feels great to be in a world of women

Even the bad news that you’re going to lose a tooth sounds better when it comes from another woman

I have a Bad Tooth.

It has to be pulled.

Would have been nice if my former – former because he’s a Trumper – dentist had caught this last year when I still had the good dental insurance and when it must have been obvious.

I say “must have been obvious” because my new dentist took new x-rays that she did not charge me for, saying the x-rays from July that former dentist sent were fuzzy. I think the new dentist was so shocked at seeing the state of my tooth on the July x-ray that she wanted to be sure before she said anything to me.

When Mr T and I went on ACA, we took one of their dental plans, getting decent but not fabulous coverage. As in, it makes financial sense to pay for the insurance because it’s what we would pay for two exams a year anyhow and we have some coverage for cavities.

But not coverage for things like tooth pulling and replacement. Because who expects that?

OK maybe I should expect that, as I had a tooth pulled and replaced with an implant 20 years ago. But two? Two bad teeth? Honestly.


I went to the dental school for a screening appointment, hoping they will take me as a patient.

My dental student was female, which was wonderful enough.

But then her professor came in to check the student’s work.

And the professor was not only a woman, but she was an 82 year old woman who happens to also be a nun.

The student addressed the professor as “Doctor Sister Jones.”

Me: I read a study years ago that nuns live longer than other women.

Student: It’s because they don’t have to deal with men!

Dr. Sister Jones: It’s true! I recently had an appointment with a new doctor. When he saw that I’m a nun, he said, “You’re going to live forever!”


She is 82 years old.

And she is still a practicing dentist.

And she is a professor.

OMG the things women can accomplish when they don’t have husbands and children.


The dental school accepted me as a patient. A female student did my x-rays and she, too, was supervised by a woman.

I believe all of them when they tell me my tooth will have to be pulled. I know they’re not lying just to make money.

I leave you with this story about a 116 year old nun who has recovered from covid.

When people weaponize cultural inside information

Is there anyone more cruel than an 8th-grade girl who wants to put another girl in her place?

They are cute shoes, even if they were used as a class signifier.

Beth, a lovely, kind woman I know, went to school with rich kids, but was herself from a more modest background.

She still remembers – decades later – the time a classmate laughed at her for not knowing what a Lacoste shirt was.

And she remembers the girl in college who smirked when Beth said something about potpourri.

“It’s ‘po purr REE,” the other girl said, “not ‘POT pour ee.”

Beth’s response was to make sure she was never again in a situation where someone tried to make her feel less than for not knowing the group rules. She vowed to learn the unwritten norms.

And she has – to the extent that it’s even part of her job now to teach salespeople proper table manners and other social graces.


You know who mispronounces words?

People who read.

In an English class in college, my professor kept talking about “Gertah.”

I couldn’t figure out where he was in the textbook – I could find nothing that looked like “Gertah.”

I did see “Goethe,” though, whom I had heard of before. I thought his name was pronounced “Go-EE-thee.”


Kindergarten through 12th grade, growing up on or near air force bases, I went to school with kids from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

I didn’t meet any rich kids until I was in college, where I was astonished to find people whose parents had bought them cars and who were not only paying their tuition and but also sending them spending money.

That’s not to say that the kids I went to K12 with didn’t find ways to create in groups and out groups, but these groups were not based on larger social distinctions into which one is simply born, like wealth.

It felt like we were all kind of the same. And living on base, we were all the same. We all had the same kind of house, with size allocated by need and location by rank. We all went to the same movie theater and the same pool and shopped at the same store.

Even the general’s daughter, who was a class ahead of me, was really nice. She did not act like the person whose father could ruin the careers of any of our dads.


I had a guide to preppy dressing. My best friend in high school raved about Lacoste and Pappagallo and add a bead necklaces and Bermuda bags. But nobody else at school knew about these things and we were living outside of the US, where such items were not easily available, so I knew about preppiness in the way in the same way I knew about astronauts landing on the moon: it was something that existed in the world but didn’t really affect my everyday life.

Mr T’s father was an English professor. He valued “proper” speaking, to the point that he was continually correcting his grandchildren, bemoaning that their mother, his daughter in law, spoke with a South Philly accent, something he thought was wrong and indicated that she was a bad person.

I kid!

Well, not really.

He did hate my SIL’s accent and deep down, probably thought she was bad because of it, although if I had challenged him, he would have denied such thinking.

However.

When Mr T was a little boy, the family lived in a mill town.

Mr T’s parents did not want him playing with the other children in the neighborhood because the children’s parents – who worked at the mills – had not gone to college and the children did not speak standard English. They finally moved to a bigger city so Mr T could go to school with more appropriate children.


My father was the first one in his family to go to college. None of my grandparents went past 8th grade and my dad’s brothers and a few of my mom’s siblings finished only high school.

My dad majored in Russian history and then continued to take classes – in geology, in oceanography, in computer programming – just because he loved learning. He traveled all over the world. He knew things.

I never once ever saw or heard him correct other family members, even when they said “ain’t” or used other non-standard English.


Mr T used to be very critical of people who do not speak standard English.

I have finally convinced him that the rules are subjective and not grounded in any external morality and that we should consider them to be descriptive, not prescriptive.

I should admit it took me a while to get to that point.

Mr T teasing me for using “boughten,” which I discovered upon reading How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland is a legitimate regionalism, and my love for my grandparents, who said “ain’t” and “ainso” started me on the path from prescriptive to descriptive.

Mr T’s father’s snobbery tipped me over the edge and made me realize how wrong I had been. FIL’s constant criticism of my sister in law, whom I adore and who has always been the most gracious and welcoming in-law I have, made me realize how mean it is to judge someone based on language.

So thank you FIL I guess?


Beth’s reaction to someone treating her badly was to learn the rules.

My reaction to such a thing is to blow everything up and to say the rules are stupid.

The rules are stupid and those two girls who corrected Beth were horrible people.

Don’t be a horrible person. That is all.

Assault is not love

They don’t invade our space because we are pretty. They invade our space because they can.

Exit row seat with plenty of room for this man’s legs, yet he spreads into my space. MY space. MINE.

Men spread because they think we’re pretty!

I had a conversation with a male friend about manspreading. He seemed to think it was a compliment to me that a total stranger on a plane – when this stranger had plenty of leg room because we were in the exit row and the stranger was not eight feet tall – wanted his leg to touch mine.

Friend: I thought you knew him?

Me: Nope. Total stranger.

Friend: Wow! You just felt familiar, I guess?

Me: This happens to me every single time I am on public transportation. Men take my space.

Friend: you must have a very inviting aura… 🤔

Me:  I would like to think I am special, but this happens to almost all women. 😟

Friend: Only the pretty ones… 🤫


I do not have an “inviting aura”

I have been doing all I can to cultivate an RBF. I do not want to be approachable. I do not want to be nice.

What I want is to be left TF alone.


It’s not about pretty, it’s about power

I am not nor have I ever been particularly pretty. In addition, I am a Woman of a Certain Age, which means that in general, I have become invisible as a sexual object to men.

And yet, I am manspreaded upon.

Why is that, do you think?

Do men manspread other men?

Hahahahaha. No of course they don’t.


Battery

1. In criminal law, [battery] is a physical act that results in harmful or offensive contact with another person without that person’s consent. 2. In tort law, the intentional causation of harmful or offensive contact with another’s person without that person’s consent. (Source)

That is, if you touch me without my permission, you have committed battery.

(In some places, they call that “assault,” although assault is also defined as the threat of unwanted touching or physical harm. I used “assault” in the title because I think that’s the term more people use when they think of unwanted physical contact.)


What is “manspreading?”

I will define “manspreading” just in case you are a man and have never experienced it.

Manspreading is when a man spreads his legs out beyond his space into the space of the woman next to him. Sometimes, that spreading means the man’s leg touches the woman’s leg, but often not, as we women tend to pull our legs in because we don’t want to be touched by a stranger.

Sadly, the response of the manspreader can be to spread even further, encroaching deeper into our territory. We pull our legs closer together and lean to one side.

Or, if we push back, thinking, “Maybe he doesn’t know he’s in my space and if I push, he’ll move his leg.”

Hahahahaha nope. That is not what the manspreader thinks. Instead, I think they think we’re coming on to them.


Boys tease us because they like us

It goes back to childhood, when even people I adored, like my own father, who was in most things a feminist (although he never would have used that word) – he required all of his children, boy and girls, to learn how to maintain a car and to cut the grass; he encouraged me in all of my dreams – to become a doctor, an astronaut, a writer; he suggested I apply to the Merchant Marine Academy because he thought it would be a cool profession – repeated the same BS many of us were taught: That when boys chase us or pull our hair or tease us, it’s because they like us.

That is, shut up and take it – it’s a sign of love!


Some men seem to consider our mere existence an invitation for their attention

All I will say about Punny Badger’s stupid take on books in bars is – Why does he even care? It’s not like people – probably women like me who used to take a book when she would watch her musician boyfriend perform in a bar – are reading AT him.

I promise that when I was reading, waiting for John’s band to set up and get started (they tended to run late), I was not crying for attention.

I wanted to sit in a bar and not be bothered.

That’s all.


Could we start teaching boys not to touch girls instead of teaching girls that unwanted touch is a good thing?

I hope that parents now are enlightened enough that rather than telling their daughters to suck it up when boys give them unwanted attention and touching, they are teaching their sons NOT TO HASSLE WOMEN.

It doesn’t matter if they think we are pretty.

It doesn’t matter if we have an “inviting aura.”

Stop. Touching. Us.

Stay out of our space. Stay out of all of our spaces.

A Black woman’s experience matters

It’s essential that the power structure look like all of America

I would also say it’s essential to have people who are SUPER QUALIFIED on the court, not people whose main qualification is that they are buddies with the former president. Source

My friend L and I were out with a male friend, Bob (a lovely, thoughtful man) at midnight.

(I know. It was very odd. We were at a party. With other people. I didn’t even know how to act.)

We were driving home from the party and saw a woman jogging.

Me: Holy smoke she’s running at midnight!

L: Yeah but look at the size of that dog with her.

Me: Oh, right.

Bob: What do you mean “the size of the dog?”

L: There’s no way she’d go running after dark without a big dog.

Bob: What? That’s nuts! Of course she would.

L, Me: ??????

Bob: Why wouldn’t she?

L, Me: Because it’s not safe!

Bob: Why not?

L, Me: BECAUSE IT’S NOT SAFE FOR A WOMAN TO BE OUT ALONE AFTER DARK.

Bob: What?

L, Me: What world do you live in?


In The Authority Gap: Why Women Are Still Taken Less Seriously than Men, and What We Can Do About It, Mary Ann Sieghart talks about systemic sexism and how women are diminished and discounted in public life. To overcome that, it’s important for women to be part of the groups that make decisions.

What’s really interesting about representation, though, is that there needs to be more than one woman in that group. If there is only one woman, the group and/or institution feels like it’s done its part to overcome sexism, but the lone woman is often pressured to go along with what the group (ie, the men) wants anyhow.


Sieghart talks about the women who go along with the sexism. Sometimes, it’s the group pressure.

Sometimes, it’s Queen Bee syndrome (there’s room for only one woman in the space).

And sometimes, it’s the patriarchal bargain, a concept I had never heard described with that term but understood immediately when I read what Sieghart had to say:

….to get along in a system with rigid gender rules, women will disadvantage their group identity or interest to get what they can out of the system individually. In the case of Republican women, the patriarchal bargain has a lot to do with relying on men for economic resources and male validation.

The Authority Gap, Mary Ann Sieghart

I remember the Clarence Thomas hearings and how so many men discounted what Anita Hill said.

Every single woman I knew at the time had a similar story. Every single one.

We all had been sexually harassed at work.

Every. Single. One.


I can’t even begin to understand what it’s like to be Black in this country (although I am not confident at all that Thomas will ally with Jackson to protect Black interests), but I do know what it’s like to be a woman. And it wasn’t until we had women fighting for other women that sexist laws and institutions started to change.

(Have you watched the two movies about Ruth Bader Ginsburg? “RBG” and “On the Basis of Sex” are both excellent.)

Maybe with three good women on the court now (Barrett undoubtedly has struck the patriarchal bargain), we will see women’s interests protected.

Our lives are worthy of art

When you (finally) see art that reflects your own experience

When your tinfoil has done all it can for you and has to be sent to The Good Tinfoil Place.

I hated poetry when I was in high school and college. All the BS about an athlete dying young (which now makes me weep because now it is real) and daffodils and celebrating and singing myself and the end of civilization as we slouch toward Bethlehem (which also now makes me weep because – well, everything) meant nothing to me.

Nothing. It was just a bunch of crap written by old men and I had to decipher the meaning and I did not know the meaning because there was nothing about the poems that touched my own experience.

The art I saw did not represent my life.

Sure, I had Judy Blume and Margaret and Nancy Drew and Meg Murry and Anne Shirley, but they weren’t part of the canon. Even The Diary of Anne Frank was something I read because my mom suggested it.

In school, we read Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, and Catcher in the Rye.

Stories about boys.

I don’t remember reading a single book or poem in high school English with a female protagonist. I barely remember reading anything written by a woman. Maybe Emily Dickenson and Jane Austen, but they were not exactly accessible.

It never occurred to me that there could be poetry about menstruation and needing a tampon. Or breaking up. Or about wanting pockets in our clothes. Or about housework.

Then I found those poems. I found Kim Addonizio and Sharon Owens.

And last month, I found the book Sweeping Beauty, an anthology of poems about housework.

WHO WRITES POEMS ABOUT HOUSEWORK?

Women. That’s who. Women write poems about housework and how dreary it is and how they are stuck and how nothing is ever done but sometimes there is ephemeral joy in a newly-made bed with hospital corners.

They write things like this, excerpted from Pamela Gemin’s poem “Upper Peninsula Landscape with Aunts.”

The aunts won’t be dickered down,

they’ll tell you a buck is a buck,

as they wash and rinse freezer bags,

scrape off aluminum foil.

Upper Peninsula Landscape with Aunts, Pamela Gemin

These aunts are My People.

And this is my life. And my mother’s life. And, as my mom wrote after I shared Gemin’s poem with her, my grandmother’s life.

STILL going through Grandma’s diaries, I’m reminded of the ceaseless cooking, baking, canning, freezing, washing (clothes and milk machine), ironing, mending, sewing, milking, transporting, etc., etc. that constituted her daily life. Almost no day went by without at least one extra person at the table and more frequently four or five. Company from any- and everywhere popped in and were fed.

My mother was a one-person factory! 🥴 

I leave you with three amazing poems. But get the books – Sweeping Beauty, Bukowski in a Sundress – and read more. I think you’ll like them.

Upper Peninsula Landscape with Aunts

Home from casino or fish fry,

the aunts recline

in their sisters’ dens,

kicking off canvas shoes

and tucking their nylon footies

inside, remarking

on each other’s pointy toes

and freckled bunions.

When Action 2 News comes on

they shake their heads and tsk tsk tsk

and stroke their collarbones.

The aunts hold their shoulderstrap purses

tight into their hips

and double-check their back seats.

The last politician they trusted

was FDR, and only then

when he kept his pants on.

The aunts won’t be dickered down,

they’ll tell you a buck is a buck,

as they wash and rinse freezer bags,

scrape off aluminum foil.

The aunts know exciting ways

with government cheese,

have furnished trailer homes

with S&H green stamp lamps and Goodwill sofas;

brook trout and venison thaw

in their shining sinks.

With their mops and feather dusters

and buckets of paint on sale,

with their hot glue guns and staplers

and friendly plastic jewelry kits,

with their gallons of closeout furniture stripper,

the aunts are hurricanes who’ll marbleize

the inside of your closets

before you’ve had time

to put coffee on.

The aunts are steam-powered, engine-driven,

early rising women of legendary

soap and water beauty

who’ve pushed dozens of screaming babies

out into this stolen land.

They take lip or guff from no man,

child, or woman; tangle with aunts

and they’ll give you what for times six

and then some: don’t make them come up those stairs!

And yes they are acquainted

with the Bogeyman,

his belly full of robbery and lies.

The aunts have aimed deer rifles

right between his eyes, dead-bolted him out

and set their dogs upon him,

or gone tavern to tavern to bring him home,

carried him down from his nightmare

with strong black tea, iced his split lips,

painted his fighting cuts with Mercurochrome.

And they have married Cornishmen and Swedes,

and other Irish, married their sons and daughters off

to Italians and Frenchmen and Finns;

buried their parents and husbands and each other,

buried their drowned and fevered and miscarried children;

turned grandchildren upside down

and shaken the swallowed coins loose

from their windpipes; ridden the whole wide world

on the shelves of their hips.

The aunts know paradise is born

from rows of red dirt, red coffee cans,

prayers for rain. Whenever you leave

their houses, you leave with pockets and totes

full of strawberry jam and rum butter balls

and stories that weave themselves into your hair.

Some have already gone to the sky

to make pasties and reorganize the cupboards.

The rest will lead camels

through needles’ eyes

to the shimmering kingdom of Heaven.

Pamela Gemin

To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall

If you ever woke in your dress at 4am ever

closed your legs to a man you loved opened

them for one you didn’t moved against

a pillow in the dark stood miserably on a beach

seaweed clinging to your ankles paid

good money for a bad haircut backed away

from a mirror that wanted to kill you bled

into the back seat for lack of a tampon

if you swam across a river under rain sang

using a dildo for a microphone stayed up

to watch the moon eat the sun entire

ripped out the stitches in your heart

because why not if you think nothing &

no one can / listen I love you

joy is coming.

 Kim Addonizio

And this gorgeous poem by Sharon Owens.

Simple dreams

When you realize how lucky you are that you get to live what your grandparents dreamed

I think often of the time my grandparents – my mom’s parents, who were dairy farmers and hence almost never got to take vacation, visited me when I was in college. They had retired – which meant they finally had the time to travel (although they still had hardly any money – dairy farming in northern Wisconsin has never been lucrative, I don’t think) – and had driven to San Antonio to see my mom and dad and brother and sister.

All of my grandparents had to leave school at 8th grade. Their families could not afford for them to continue their educations. But my mom’s father was a lifelong reader and kept a globe next to his armchair so he could find the places where the adventures in his books were happening.

My grandmother, who drew exquisite cross-sections of tissue samples and wrote a clear, intelligent, logical analysis of Columbus and the new world in her schoolbook – my mom still has all of those mementos – would have studied art in Paris if she had had the chance.

She didn’t go to Paris, but took weekly painting classes in the next small town over with a teacher she addressed until her death as “Mr O’Brian” and painted until she moved, at the age of 95, from her house to assisted living. Her paintings were displayed at the town bank and all of her children and grandchildren – including me – have at least two of her paintings on the wall.

My grandma painted this scene in Spain from a photograph.

My mom and her six siblings are all fiercely intelligent. Four of them graduated from college. My mom was her class valedictorian and attended the University of Wisconsin on a full scholarship, but dropped out to get married. Among her siblings are an ESL teacher, a commercial airline pilot, and an optometrist.

I was the first of the 26 grandchildren to attend college. When I graduated from high school, my grandmother asked what I wanted as a graduation present: a portrait of me that she would paint, which was what every single one of my cousins chose, or $400.

I chose the money.

This, from retired farmers who sent me a one dollar bill tucked carefully into a birthday card every year.

What was I thinking?


My mom drove my grandparents from San Antonio to Houston to see me at college.

Many of my friends were children of professionals – their dads were corporate vice presidents and college professors and lawyers and doctors and their grandparents had been the same.

Thinking about it now, I also remember that there were parents who were small-town pastors or mechanics, but it’s the rich kids that I remember.

My grandparents walked though campus in a daze. My college campus is gorgeous. And it was winter, which is miserable in Wisconsin but not so bad in Houston.

My grandparents, both of whom had been denied a life of the mind, were so proud that their granddaughter was in college.

I can still see my grandmother posing for a photo in the middle of the main quad. She’s wearing an old cloth winter coat, her sensible lace-up shoes with the thick black soles, maybe her Good Pantyhose – hose that she had not carefully mended when they tore, a dress that she would have made because she made almost all of her clothes, her cat-eye glasses, her white hair carefully permed and styled – she had a standing appointment at the beauty shop in town, and clutching her purse in front of her with both hands.


Have you read Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano?

It’s about class travelers – straddlers – people who move from working class to middle class.

I never even knew that was a thing until I read it a few years ago.

Each group has its own language and customs. And they are really different.

There was an experiment. They gave a task to a group of kids from working-class families and to a group of professors’ kids.

The working-class kids quickly designated a leader, outlined an approach, and solved the problem.

The professors’ kids argued about how to approach solving the problem. They never did solve it.

My dad was an aircraft mechanic. Yes, he went to college – first in his family – but only after enlisting in the Coast Guard so he could get the GI Bill. He grew up working in the family business, a small auto dealership and garage.

Mr T’s father, also the first in his family to attend college, was a college professor.

Mr T and I clash all the time on how to solve problems. I want to solve the problem as quickly as possible while he wants to spend hours and hours and hours analyzing it to find the best approach.

Sometimes, you just need to put out the fire, fast.

(Or, in a case from years ago, remove the bat from the upstairs toilet.)


I didn’t realize until I read that book that there was a reason I felt like corporate America was a foreign country. That there was something different about me.

There was. There was something different about me. I was in a world with people whose parents already spoke the language – people whose parents took them on vacations to Europe but didn’t tell them which countries because they wanted it to be a surprise – people who Knew People and could help their kids get jobs – people who knew how to talk to the boss and the secret code words and all the things I did not know.


I remember my grandmother posing for the photo in the quad – she was beaming – and I also remember, with a shame so deep that it has taken me over a decade to write about this (yes, I really have been thinking about this story for that long), that I hoped none of my fancy friends would see us.


Last night, my mom texted that her cousin J, who is 89, has been put in hospice. I only saw J once or twice. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was afraid to be around people. After his parents – his mother was my grandmother’s sister – died, he would come over to my grandma’s house to eat. He wouldn’t come into the house – she would give him a package at the back door.

J thought he had been responsible for peoples’ deaths but of course he had not. My mom said he was never, ever violent that she knew of.

He was not allowed to graduate from high school. His parents – also farmers – made him stay home from school his senior year to do field work. My mom wrote, “J was very intelligent but never given the opportunity to pursue anything but farming and driving milk truck. He cried when he wasn’t allowed to complete high school.”


My heart hurts. My heart hurts for all those dreams denied.

Why it’s not tacky to talk about money

The patriarchy relies on our silence

A World War II color poster depicting ‘Rosie the Riveter’ encourages American women to show their strength and go to work for the war effort by J. Howard Miller in circa 1940. (Photo courtesy National Archives/Getty Images)

Again, I quote from Gabrielle Union.

[Read her books – I mean it. They’re good.]

This story is about money. About how much we are worth. And about how talking about money helps women.

Union has a female friend who was putting together a movie.

My friend saw that each [player] got their deal done for the film, as she waited to get hers done at the end. She figured she’d get all the ducks in a row first, and then she’d get herself paid.

You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union

That’s not what happened. When it came time to negotiate her own package, the money people tried to offer her “way less than one of the newcomers hired to play a supporting role.”

When the friend protested, the money people gave the same answer corporate men so often give: If you believe in this project, shouldn’t you be willing to take less money to be a part of it?

Nope nope nope.

That is BS.

That is the same argument non-profits use to try to get their employees, who are often already accepting lower pay than for-profits pay, to donate to the organization.

I don’t see anyone asking male CEOs to take a cut in pay because they believe in the project. Or male actors and producers. Perhaps they are asking and nobody hears about it?

But I doubt it because I am cynical and I have been on this rodeo before.

Back to the story.

The friend said she was not born yesterday.

Which is when the money people – wait – the money MEN because you know 1. it’s men who have the power and 2. men are the ones who say crap like this to women – said that because she was old, she should be grateful to be getting anything.

…then they said that is was exactly because she was not born yesterday that they had to offer her less. She was older….it should be understood that she was lucky to work.

You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union

Oh FFS.

Also – has anyone told Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise they need to take a pay cut because they’re older? That they’re “lucky to work?”

Union’s friend called Union and the other actresses she knew would be called for the part and told them what was going on.

“What is your worth on this?” I asked. “If they hit me, which you know they will, what’s the amount you feel you should have?”

She gave me that number.

“Bet,” I wrote back.

So of course here they came. “We’ve got this great opportunity,” they said. They went through all the stars and the moon that my friend had hung for this project, not mentioning her once. “You would be perfect for this role. You are exactly who we envision. A Gabrielle Union. The Gabrielle Union.”

“Yeah, okay,” I said. “This is what I need.” I gave my friend’s number.

They were speechless. Then they offered me even less than what they said they would pay her. Hundreds of thousands of dollars less.

You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union

The money men went through the entire list of Black actresses.

[t]he number they offered got lower and lower as they went down the list….The longer it took, the more they risked losing the[newcomer], the actress who had gotten the bigger check. Finally, when the younger ingenue realized my girlfriend was out, she said, “I’m not gonna do this without the person that brought me to the dance.”

You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union

SOLIDARITY

The money men were forced to return to Union’s friend and pay her more than she had originally asked for.

YES!

SHE WON! They came back and paid her MORE.

Union says:

Sometimes using your privilege isn’t to ensure your paycheck – it’s to ensure the paychecks of those who come after you.

Takeaways:

  • Share pay information
  • Support other women
  • Share pay information
  • Did I say share pay information?

(And to follow my own advice – I was making $67k as a communications specialist at an F100 last year. Which – is less than I made three years out of college and $30k less than I was making as a marketing manager a few years ago and $50k less than I made when I worked for the paper company but well what are you going to do when you need a job that has health insurance? Still, does not change my point. Share pay information.)

We are all hot and we are all cranky, even smart, beautiful movie stars

“Literally half the population is involved in a damn mystery that no one is racing to solve.”

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 09: Gabrielle Union attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic,)

I couldn’t say it any better so I’m not even going to try. Read what Gabrielle Union has to say about menopause and how the research is focused on how menopause affects men, not us.

That’s because while perimenopause and menopause happen in women’s bodies, science has focused on treating the symptoms that matter most to men and whether or not they want to fuck us. Low libido, fertility, vaginal dryness, signs of aging, hair loss . . . We even focus on hot flashes because it’s a spectacle that others have to witness. People are embarrassed for you, and you have to dig deep into medical studies to find hot flashes’ relation to cardiovascular health risks and energy depletion. You can’t expect much, since modern science still doesn’t fully know what role hormonal changes play in hot flashes. Even the Mayo fucking Clinic has to rely on a hunch. Instead, we only need fixes for those symptoms a man will notice and care about. “How’s your pussy feeling? No, not to you, silly. To a penis.”

We put money and research into what we value. Half the human race has been hitting menopause since we’ve lived long enough to get there. And what do we have to show for it? Even the existing literature about “the Change” is full of rah-rah books that amount to handing you a mug with the label, “It’s not a hot flash! It’s a power surge!” They focus on hiding symptoms and still being sexy. Remaining an option for a man. And it’s confusing because this is a time that we are often cast aside and made to feel invisible. “I’m glad you no longer have vaginal dryness, ma’am, but I’m gonna trade you in for the eighteen-year-old anyway. Her face doesn’t have any stress lines.” Misogyny is already enough of a fucking stressor.

You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union

If you haven’t already read Gabrielle Union‘s new book, You Got Anything Stronger?, read it now.

Also read her first book, We’re Going to Need More Wine.

When men make all the decisions and the decisions benefit only them

Guess whose clothes have 1. pockets 2. big enough to hold things.

Hint.

NOT WOMEN.

Mr T, putting his phone in his front pocket, where it fits and will remain undetected until an X-ray, much like a root-canaled tooth that has started to rot and your previous dentist, whom you left because he was a Trumper who says face masks for his staff are a “personal choice,” failed to detect and was not discovered until your new dentist took new X-rays. To make it even better? You had the Good Insurance with the old dentist but now have coverage only for cleanings and cavities.

We are going to a concert and as I was about to fall asleep last night, all the worries and questions that stay hidden during the day rushed to the front of my head as they do because why on earth could a concern about my dental insurance or whether Mr T had paid the health insurance premium or will my tooth rot out of my head before I figure out what to do wait until morning when I could actually do something about it?

A question that also came to mind and blocked my sleep was “Can I take a purse into the concert?” a question that never would have occurred to me years ago but after the baseball park debacle of ’21, it has to be an issue.

And of course I cannot take a purse into the arena.

The Fiserv Forum FAQ page helpfully tells me that I can take a wallet smaller than 4″ x 6″ x 1″.

OH THANK YOU SO MUCH FISERV FORUM! I can fit my phone, my money, my ID, my glasses, my keys, and my meds in that wallet!

BTW – just asking – what do I do with that wallet once I have stuffed everything into it?

Do I hold it in my hand? Because one of the joys of a purse is that it has a handle that allows you to hang it on your shoulder, which means you have not one but two hands available for other life activities.

Do I put it in my pocket?

Hahahahahahaha!

Oh dear Fiserv Forum. Once again, we see what happens when a group containing only men makes a decision that affects everyone.

Because guess what Fiserv Forum?

WOMEN’S POCKETS HOLD ALMOST NOTHING.

Source – read the whole thing

Only 40 percent of women’s front pockets can completely fit one of the three leading smartphone brands. Less than half of women’s front pockets can fit a wallet specifically designed to fit in front pockets. And you can’t even cram an average woman’s hand beyond the knuckles into the majority of women’s front pockets.

pudding.cool

Oh I hear you telling me I can put things in my back pocket.

Dear, dear Fiserv Forum.

Have you ever tried to pee with a phone in your back pocket?

WAIT NO OF COURSE YOU HAVEN’T! You can pee with your phone in your front pocket – where it fits – and if your front pocket is full, you can put the phone in your back pocket, where it’s still fine because YOU ARE PEEING STANDING UP.

But if I – a woman wearing clothes designed by people who clearly hate women – have to sit to pee (which is how this world works), then I must lower my pants and guess what?

A phone in the back pocket will fall out.

Why do you hate women, Fiserv Forum? Why?


BTW, I won’t put a credit card or cash in my back pocket because of pickpockets and it won’t fit into my front pocket, so I guess I will not be spending any money on concessions.