Sunday, November 8, 2009

You can get used to a lot of things over the course of half a century. I, for example, had become so accustomed to my disability that sometimes, when people asked what happened to me (or worse, what I did to myself), I had to think about it for a second. Hunh? Oh. That.

In fact, I often, and for a long time, did not think of myself as disabled at all. I swam, I rode horseback, I hiked, I even drove a stick-shift. Couldn't run or dance, never learned to ride a bike, so--handicapped, sure, but not disabled.

Now, though, it's starting to catch up with me. After 50 years, I'm having some serious post-polio sequelae. That means there's a new level of adjustment going on here. For example, today would have been a beautiful day for a walk in my neighborhood, and normally that's exactly what I would have done: Put a string on Diana and headed out into the bright fall sunshine. It's what we were doing this time last year.

However, I'm not supposed to do that any more. And I needed to go to the grocery store, too, but I just didn't have the energy. So instead, I puttered, dizzily and weakly, around the house, on and off in between some extended rest periods.

That could all be pretty depressing.

In between wanting to cry about just damn near anything and everything, though, including stuff that has nothing to do with my disability, I've been thinking that I've had 50 good years with this thing. After all, I rode, didn't I? For almost 20 years. And swam, and hiked, and walked generations of dogs.

And it still is a beautiful day, after all, whether I can get out in it or not.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sucky anniversary

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the day I got polio.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

My mother had her moments.

When I was a little kid, we went to Church #1, to wit:

Note the steps. Lots of steps.

When I was in 2nd grade, I got polio. While I was in the hospital, which was costing my parents a metric shit-ton of money they didn't have, the church called on her at home one Sunday afternoon to inquire when she intended to resume meeting her annual pledge! She basically told them they could stuff their pledges up their collective arse.

When I was able to go back to church, they refused to relocate my Sunday-school class to the ground floor (as I recall, it was on the 3rd) to accommodate my inability to climb flight after seemingly endless flight of stairs.

My mother basically told them to stuff it, she was going to find a new church. And she did. Church #2 was all on one level.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where'd everybody go?

According to The Post-Polio Experience, by Margaret Backman, there are 1.5 million of us polio survivors in the U.S.

So where the heck are all you people anyway? Let's talk!


a tear for Daisy

Today is--was? would have been?--Daisy's 15th birthday. But she got so old by the time she was 14 that we had to put her to sleep.

I dreamed about her this morning.

I love Diana: She had my heart before we were halfway home from the pound. But Daisy was born in my house. I toweled her off and handed her back to her mother to nurse.

We had an incredible bond. I adored that dog. She went nearly everywhere I did, including to work every day, for years. I thought we would always be Daisy and me, as if time might pass all around us but we would never die.

Of course that cannot be.

So. I love Diana, and miss Daisy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gotta Vent

Post Polio sucks.

We went to a party last night. I'd been tired all day (it takes me all day Saturday to recover from the work week, even though I don't have a full calendar at work) but no worse than usual.

We get to the guy's house, and it's this little 1920s brick bungalow at the top of a steep driveway. There's maybe half-a-dozen steps up a steep walk to the front door. By the time I got halfway up I thought my legs were gonna quit working. I wasn't even sure I could do the last step without resting. Embarrassing. I feel like a fat old woman, although I am neither.

We have a wedding to go to tonight, which I hope will be more accessible.

My "vacation" this summer wore me out. Ever since I got back, I've been wishing I had a week off just to sleep.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Silly Season

Saw on Twitter where some (White, male) fool bragged he'd kept his kid home from school to watch a movie Tuesday rather than let the kid listen to the President's speech.

And he thinks that's good parenting?

The speech was 20 minutes. The kid missed a whole day of school for that. The speech was inspirational. The kid watched a movie instead.

What's with these people anyway?


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No, it's not

Sign in front of church: "This is a Christian nation."

No, it's not. Go back to 8th grade civics class. Re-read the Constitution. Check out a U.S. history book from the library.

This is a nation founded on freedom of religion.

Freedom. of. religion.


Monday, September 7, 2009

I woke up depressed this morning. The three-day weekend is over with, and I don't feel like I had any kind of holiday at all. (This, despite having the entire day off Saturday and going out and indulging two of my hobbies at once yesterday. Go figure.) I feel out of control of nearly everything at work, and we are completely overwhelmed financially. I feel about as powerless over the money problems as I would standing on a beach facing a tidal wave. Nigel made the comment this weekend that we're "this close to losing everything we have". Not encouraging, that.

I've been sinking down into the dumps for the last few weeks: I don't feel good any more, haven't all summer. My disability, which I have more or less successfully outrun, if you'll pardon the expression, for the last 50 years, is catching up to me. Two separate health issues, that I can't see for shit any more and that my sex life is shot to hell (for three different reasons that aren't fixable) aren't helping.

This is the weekend that my old dog Daisy died last year, and I've been thinking about her a lot. I dreamed about her Saturday night, which didn't help either. And we're coming up on two years since my best friend died (her birthday was last week), and I've been thinking about her a lot. Some hobby things I've tried to do lately to lighten the mood I've been frustrated at, and wound up making myself feel worse.

So I got to thinking. There were surely things that could make me feel better. What might they be? I started cleaning: There's no reason, broke or not, that we can't have a tidy, neat, clean, snug little home to relax in and retreat to.

I filled the hummingbird feeders. (All the feeders, and the birdbaths too, have been neglected since my Nigel went away for his cancer treatment--over a year ago.) Within minutes, hummingbirds were coming to the window to feed. And surprise, surprise--I felt better.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

I read that people with my disability should take two rest periods a day, 15-20 minutes each, doing nothing.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to do nothing for 15 minutes?

This last rest period, I found myself wanting to get up from my chair, go over to my computer, and blog it.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Things I hate

I've been having one of those days for the past several days. I hate
  • badges on Flickr
  • the cheesy flush handle we put on the guestroom toilet
  • the cheesy faucet we put on the kitchen sink (Note to Self: When you're replacing shit around the house, upgrade!)
  • CNN
  • Fox "News"
  • People who throw trash in the woods
  • Sell-by dates that come off when you open the package (because they're printed on the pull tab or some place equally stupid)
  • E-mails that begin with Obummer the Fascist
  • The New Republic
  • People who pontificate on subjects they do not understand
  • Lies, and the liars who tell them

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fuck you, Limu

Some asshat just tried to rope My Nigel into a multi-level marketing scheme under the guise of a job offer.

My Nigel has been out of work for just over six months, now, so this was a mean thing to do. He thought he had a job interview and gets handed a can of grossly over-priced energy drink (80 mg. of caffeine with some vitamins, big whoop) and a glossy brochure promising that there's a fortune to be made here.

My Nigel, besides his financial worries, has a progressive and possibly fatal disorder which, while currently in remission, may or may not have been cured by the rounds of treatment he's undergone in the past year. It's too soon to know if it's really gone, or just gone underground. So this asshat exploits the anxieties by telling MN that this product can "help" with his disease, and that there are "over 800" studies that support that. That was cruel.

MN was all excited.

So we went on line last night. God, I love Google. Our first discovery was that the founder, who is described as a successful businessman with 25 years of executive-level marketing experience, actually had an identical business selling an identical product yanked out from under him by the FTC for making identical claims. This is, of course, not mentioned in the glossy brochure.

Our second, of course, is that the studies mentioned are actually studies on the main ingredient of the product, not the product itself, and most do not appear to have utilized human subjects. There are 811 of them in MedLine's database, and short of pulling each and every one, there is no easy way to tell. Many, however, included in their titles rabbits, in vitro, and so forth. Also, they cover all sorts of topics, and not one appears at first blush to address MN's particular disorder.

Let me be absolutely clear here: There is not one study in a peer-reviewed journal (or anywhere else for that matter) of this specific product used as recommended (2-3 oz. daily) in humans. Not one. This misappropriation and misrepresentation of other people's work was specifically mentioned in the FTC's previous cases against this company's previous incarnation.

In the defunct company's literature, by the way, they only cited by name the Japanese researchers, knowing that anybody who Googled them would get articles in Japanese scientific publications, which of course nobody would be able to read. So they get to look like their product has a scientific basis while making it hard for the average layperson to check up on their claims that this potion cures everything from asthma to zither phobias.

And speaking of Google, if you Google the founder's name, what you get is page after page of his own websites, blogs, and on-line ads, along with page after page of distributors' websites, blogs, and on-line ads. He effectively controls, in other words, your ability to dig into his background with any ease. The average person looking into this wonderful "opportunity" will only find laudatory references. They are nearly verbatim from the company website and its other marketing materials, by the way, which lends support to the idea that the founder, always described in the reverential tones usually reserved for people like Mother Theresa, is controlling his public image. It takes someone pretty determined and creative to delve into his actual, objectively reported background.

Of course, the whole MLM concept, or "network marketing" as this company is disguising it, is a flawed business model. To make any money at all, you'd have to get in on the ground floor. The brochure tries to claim (a) that this is a ground-floor opportunity, and (b) that there are tens of thousands of "distributors" living large off their profits. You can't have it both ways.

To make any money at all, you'd have to have a theoretically infinite market for this ridiculously overpriced product (about $150 for a month's "supply"). Each distributor has to buy that much every month for themselves to "qualify" for commissions for sales in their downline. Each would have to have enrolled eight additional people to buy this amount every month just to break even. And then of course those eight have to have eight and so forth ad infinitum. Obviously, this is not tenable: Sooner or later everybody runs out of new prospects, and in the meantime they're all running around in the same market competing with each other for the ever-dwindling supply of new prospects.

Perhaps worse, it turns your friends, neighbors, and co-workers into prospects whom you then have to con into buying something that may or may not be good for them at a grossly over-inflated price. Ick.

I feel very protective of MN and have the nearly overwhelming urge to drive over to this asshat's place of business (yeah, this wonderful "opportunity" he was offering is so lucrative that the asshat has to have a day job) and shaking him until his teeth rattle.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In which I give a TAB the stink-eye

So I get to the post office today, and there's a sporty little silver Mercedes Benz parked with one wheel in the handicapped slot.

This pisses me off.

So I very carefully park my boat smack dab in the middle of the handicapped space, perfectly aligned, perfectly centered. I look out through the passenger window and can see that if the MB owner is more than three inches wide, s/he is not going to be able to get back in hir car without serious difficulty. Good.

Just as I'm preparing to exit my vehicle, here she comes. She looks pointedly at the three-inch gap between our cars--and then gives me the stink-eye!

Nice Southern girl that I am, I get back in my car, pull out so she can get in her car and leave, and then repark myself.

Does she thank me? No.

Does she apologize? No.


She needs to remember that her able-bodied status is temporary and that she, too, could need a handicap spot one day. When she does, I hope that at least once she will find some selfish, inconsiderate person blocking it. And unfortunately, because people like her are everywhere, she probably will.

At least once.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I went to bed last night thinking about Knapp's comments (see previous post) about a controlled, together appearance (not really true of me) and total chaos inside (absolutely true of me). And I had this bitchin' nightmare about the new job. I was in high school, in this dream, and I was late.

I had walked out of the neighborhood, having missed the bus, and realized when I got to the main road that I didn't know which way to go. I couldn't remember the name of my new school. I eventually got there, and some classmates were studying for a test. One of them was studying something I'd written, and I said to her, "I can help you with that, because as it happens, I wrote it." Another student, seeing that there was a reference listed, commented "that isn't the same as writing it."

Worse, I realized as I looked at the paragraph in question that it was the one thing I had totally cribbed, and I didn't know what the hell it meant either.

Meanwhile, I remained confident about the test, which was to be multiple choice on European history. I had read and understood the assignment, and it's the sort of test I do well. I fully expected to ace it. But it turned out to be some kind of multimedia thing, no history in it at all, never mind European, and no directions: You were supposed to somehow intuitively know what to do and how. Not how I work best at all. I am verbal, linear. My classmates were so noisy I couldn't hear myself think. I liked the teacher, but she didn't like me. Time was running down.

I have completed one month of my six-month probationary period. I have moments when I suspect that, in a down economy, all these people really want is my clients and contacts and, as a result, the money I bring in. Not me.

The few times I have let myself be my self, mostly not until in the past week, I've gotten anxious about it and worried that the real me won't be welcome. That I won't even understand what's expected of me, that I will come prepared for the wrong thing, that passing work test won't even be a possibility as the calendar runs down toward December.

I've been faking it all these years. I'm gonna get busted.


Monday, June 29, 2009

I've been sober for 23 years, come September. I'm reading Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story. When I picked it up, I worried that reading about someone romancing the bottle would give me the willies. Weirdly, instead what it's done is confront me with my sick relationship with food. I think I'm having a Step One moment.

Food's a common substitute for alcohol. Anybody who's ever gotten sober at a club is familiar with the tables of food, the industrial-size pots of coffee, and the clouds of smoke hanging from the ceilings. Ever see Michael Keaton's Clean and Sober? One of the funnier scenes is when Michael is doing his Fifth Step with his sponsor in a diner. Every time the director cuts away to Later: Same Day, there are more dishes on the table. The sponsor drinks coffee, eats pie, has a milkshake, drinks more coffee, orders a sundae--you get the picture. And smokes the whole time.

So at first, I lost weight. I lost about 15 pounds, partly because I needed something to do and took up hiking, but also because booze just puffs you up. Then I got kind of obsessive about working out and dieting, and lost another 30. I probably got a hair too thin.

When I decided to go back to school and finish my education, I stopped working out and hiking in order to study, and I was no longer doing the shopping and cooking at home. I gained all 30 back, and then some.

After graduation, I lost a bit, but never got back down to a healthy weight. Then I developed high cholesterol and started getting diabetes. I went to pre-diabetes class, went on the diabetic exchange diet, and--you guessed it--lost about 50 pounds.

Then my Nigel got diagnosed with cancer, and I stopped losing. I actually put about five pounds back on. For a year, I have struggled with those same five goddamned pounds. Lose two, gain one, lose three, gain four. Lose one, gain one, lose it again, gain it again. For a couple of months now, I have been swearing I was gonna "get serious" about losing the last ten or fifteen I'd set out to lose back at the start--with the stunning result that I have merely stopped gaining. It's like the alcoholic promises, "I'll cut back," or "I'll quit--tomorrow" but nothing every really changes.

I have flirted with going to Overeaters Anonymous, but haven't gotten there. Then I picked up Knapp's book, and about fell over. My relationship with food is on every page. My experience with food echoes nearly every sentence she wrote about alcohol in the opening chapters.

Page 3: "I drank when I was happy and I drank when I was anxious and I drank when I was bored and I drank when I was depressed, which was often."

God knows, I eat when I'm happy, anxious, bored, and depressed.

Knapp talks about how every binge is an exception of some sort. This is true for food as well: Just this one M&M, just this one brownie, just this one piece of cake. Of course, as the chip ad says, "You can't eat just one." In AA, it's the first drink that gets us in trouble. In OA, it's that first compulsive bite, not the fiftieth. Knapp writes about how she "deserved" or "earned" a drink. It's been a sucky day: This calls for chocolate. I'm gonna eat this today/tonight, because it's been a bad day/night, but I'll count every carb tomorrow. Which of course I don't, because I'll have "just one" of something because it's a bad day, or we'll be celebrating something (a birthday at work? a new client?). I will have earned it. I will deserve it.

And the tricks we alcoholics play with "just one" work pretty well with food, too. Knapp writes, ". . . two glasses, but they were small ones, so I considered them half-glasses and counted them as one." When I drank, I used to keep topping off the same drink, and count it as one. I would brag that I could make one drink last all night (unlike my alcoholic friends and relatives, don't you know?) Compulsive overeaters play the same games. You can see it in the comic strip, Cathy. In one, Cathy and her mother discuss why eating cake crumbs and broken pieces of cookies "don't count."

And I compare. In Alcoholics Anonymous, newcomers hear "Identify, don't compare." This is because alcoholics can always find someone whose drinking is worse than our own and use that as proof that "I'm not really an alcoholic because I'm not that bad." I did that then, and do it now with food. I am always comparing my body size to other people's, what I brought for lunch to my coworkers' lunches, how fast I am eating, what I ordered, what (if anything) I leave on my plate to everyone else at the restaurant table. And wondering if they are noticing my eating. People with worse food problems than mine provide a perverse sort of comfort.

Like alcoholics, sometimes we overeaters hide it pretty well. I mean, obviously, a lot of compulsive overeaters are overweight, but not all of us are. And we carefully control our eating (sometimes) in public. I never binge actually at the office, although I can get carried away at a restaurant in front of coworkers. When I'm in the kitchen getting something for me and my Nigel, I sneak extra bites while I'm dishing it up, around the corner and out of his line of sight. What he sees is me, exercising portion control.

"Just today. Bad day. I deserve a reward. I'll deal with it tomorrow" (p. 6).


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Nigel: What are your plans for tomorrow?
SS: I'm cleaning house.
Nigel: I'll help.
SS's Inner Wolf: Grrrr.


Monday, June 22, 2009

You Go, Girl

While my weight has definitely affected my health, I discovered back in my teens that my yo-yo-ing weight had nothing to do with my happiness, academic success, sex life, or much of anything else.

I was a whole, complex human being leading a whole, complex life, thin or fat. I was still me.

I Write Letters

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Zippy and Daisy

Jill, over at I Blame the Patriarchy, reported that her beloved dog, Zippy, had to be euthanized yesterday. I left a comment there, but haven't been able to stop crying since, so by God I'm posting again here.

Not to be redundant, but my dog Daisy died last year and I still miss her. Just the other day the "new" dog, who is hardly new any more, came running down the hall and when I heard her feet for a second I thought "Here comes Daisy!" I turned, happily, to greet her, and there was this other dog. Things like that still happen about once a month.

And today, since I commented on Jill's post, I haven't been able to get the image of Daisy flying off the top step of the deck and vanishing into midair--forever--out of my head.Except she doesn't disappear forever because it keeps playing over and over in my head like a stuck video loop on some hellish version of You-tube. And every time I see it, it makes me tear up all over again, until it's getting damned difficult to get any work done.

I think I'll close and lock my office door and have a good cry. And go home and hug the "new" dog (Diana) extra times tonight.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Birds and Books

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - OCTOBER 2:  (IMAGE REVI...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I went birding with a friend today, and then to a used book sale.

We started out at the river, at what used to be a county-owned education center. To our disgust, we found they'd put up fences around everything and were charging admission. We couldn't even get to the toilets without paying $5. The ponds were behind the fence. The wetlands boardwalks were behind the fence. Very irritating.

So we went downstream aways, to a city park that was still a city park. We saw Mourning Dove, a male Northern Cardinal, Canada Geese (of course), a Brown Thrasher, grackles, and more.

Sadly, last night's thunderstorms had blown a baby Northern Mockingbird out of the nest. The parents were squawking around us but we didn't realize why until we saw him on the ground. He was still in his pinfeathers. He died in my hand while we were trying to figure out the best place to put him. The instant he died the parents stopped fussing. How do they know?

I carried my 300mm lens, and took about 145 shots. On the first pass through in Adobe, I winnowed that down to about 110. The biggest disappointment was the Red-shouldered Hawk: The center had one in rehab, and another was in a pine tree overhead, calling back and forth to each other. I took easily a dozen shots of the wild one, and not one was in focus. Either I was bobbling the long lens or, more likely, absent-mindedly left it on auto-focus. The field was too busy, what with a brown bird and branches and pine needles and stuff, and I always forget that the autofocus can't cope with that.

After another dozen or so of an immature Eastern Bluebird with the same problem, I got this:

I love the curve of her body, and the curls of water around her.

And then there was the totally frustrating series of the Bank Swallows feeding their baby that I didn't get.

I'm just gonna have to spring for a monopod. That's all there is to it.


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Friday, June 12, 2009


So I'm reading Carolyn G. Heilbrun's Reinventing Womanhood, and she's explaining it all to me. "Women," she writes,
"have avoided adventure, risk, and opportunity because they have been taught that suffering, the shaking loose of the comfortable foundations of one's life, must be avoided at all costs." (p. 68)
Except I'm a risk-taker. And a poor planner. I am the epitome of not looking before leaping, ok? And yet. Something in this quote tickles at the edges of my pre-conscious mind. A page later, Heilbrun says,
"They feared above all the loss of dependence and the discovery of a realm of choice where suffering is possible, even likely." (p. 69)
Wham! Right between the eyes. Not so much choice, but responsibility, and certainly, the loss of dependence.

In the meantime, I'm loving my job. But I spent some social time with some of my peers today, and got a glimpse into their successful lifestyles. About which, I remain ambivalent. One has a house worth twice as much as mine, and it's expensively furnished and landscaped to boot. And while it is beautiful and I liked it, I did not think I would feel comfortable living there. Why? Don't know yet. But for whatever reason, I'm more the kind of woman who would go on living in a shack and stuff the money in the mattress.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Dessert First

I am a firm believer in eating dessert first, especially if I come home so tired and so hungry that I can't even wait to open a can and heat up the contents for dinner. I noticed, though, that the last two days running I've had a tiny sliver of cake and a glass of milk the minute I walked through the door, and it got me to thinking about Dessert First as a life philosophy.

It's not a workable one, and the consequences show in my life. My blood sugar is fine, but it was not always so. I am a little pudgy, although that, too, has been worse in the past. And I goof off before doing chores, with the result that my house is a mess. Finally, I buy on credit, trusting that the money will come. It doesn't.

My mother always told me I had to eat my dinner to get dessert, and my father warned me to pay cash whenever I could. Should have listened.

Maybe there's a Lesson for Girls in there somewhere.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

You know,

I'd be a whole lot happier if I hadn't just found mouse turds in my kitchen.



What does success feel like?

I am on the verge of a chance, just possibly, at financial success. Not the overnight-millionaire-just-won-the-lottery kind, just a steady, decent income.

And I wonder. What will it feel like? Is there anything about it that scares me, just a little? Have I needed for some nutty reason to live hand to mouth all these years? Will I screw this up for myself somehow?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

What IS in a name?

OK, now you got me thinking about dress as identity in addition to the whole naming thing, and how patriarchy gets mixed up in that, too.

I suppose I would be closest to what is described in the Comments as "preppie butch," although I do the slob thing pretty well, too.

I laughed out loud when I read the Robin Williams quote on butches as simply "women in comfortable shoes"--in other words, sensible women. Another commenter wrote that a butch is a woman who stands up to a man, unless she is femme, in which case she is bitch, rather than butch. Loved that one.

But here's my take on it. Butch to me is not about playing a role. It is about not playing a role, not 'doing' gender. I don't consciously dress butch, i.e., shop in the men's-wear section, or cut my hair high-and-tight. I simply do not wear dresses/skirts, high heels, makeup, or fussy jewelry. Or fussy hair, either. My ideal haircut is one I can hit with a towel and be out the door.

I don't shave. Anywhere. Ever.

On the other hand, while I don't like frilly blouses as a general rule, I have floral prints in my closet. And I like nice undies. Bras are torture instruments and I would never wear one if I didn't have such big jugs, but as long as I have to wear them, I want them as lacy and frilly as I can get them. I think that is because I can indulge that side of me away from the male gaze. And because lacy underwear doesn't inhibit movement the way other feminine clothing (e.g., spike heels) does.

Doing gender is not my first priority: Practical, comfortable, yet attractive (nice oxford shirts, for example, in high-quality cotton and pretty colors) is. If people think I dress like a man, then so be it.

But as for identity, my clothing does send a message about me: I'm not conforming to gender requirements. I'm more interested in what works for me than what society wants.

Naomi Wolf, in The Beauty Myth, cites some statistics on how many battered women's shelters we could fund with the money we piss away on face creams alone. I think it came out to one per state per year. And she or someone else commented on how much we could accomplish with the time we spend doing our faces and hair and shopping for femme crap if we put that same energy into social change. So my clothing also sends those two messages about my identity: I'd rather spend the money on hobby equipment and the time on my profession.

Whereas, to me, the whole femme thing plays out the stereotype of females in our society as frivolous, superficial, silly, empty-headed, vain, spendthrift, allowing themselves to dress for (or in the case of expensive baubles, be dressed by) men, blah, blah. So in terms of messages I send with my personal style, if I were consciously sending one, that would not be it. Why would I deliberately drape something over my body that telegraphs, "idiotic"?

So here's my identity as summed up by my appearance:
(1) Judges self and others by their character.
(3) Likes nice things.
(4) Practical. Sensible. Comfortable.
(5) Nonconformist.
(6) Will stand up to a man--a bitch in pants.
(7) Sloppy.
(8) Preppie.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Feminist Cookies

These are awesome. Buy one for your Nigel today!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lessons for Girls, Number Three: Be Independent

Reassigned Time: Lessons for Girls, Number Two: Opting Out

This is a meme that started with Historiann's Lesson Number One, which was basically that anger can be a good thing. Lesson Number Two just went up today over at Reassigned Time, and is basically that it is equally ok not to engage. I am going to try for Number Three, Be Independent.

Boys never are raised to think someone is going to take care of them. Girls need to always think in terms of supporting themselves, owning their own property, having their own bank accounts and lines of credit, paying their own way.

Instead, we are raised to believe that men will buy us dinner, movie tickets, gifts, a home, car, clothing, vacations. They will make the big bucks: Whether we work or not, they will be capable of and responsible for supporting the family. This is nuts. This leaves girls dependent, and in an unhealthy marriage it means women will be trapped.

It ought never to be a question of whether we will work. It should be assumed that we will be completely self-supporting, whether we are married or not. We should never, ever be dependent upon a man again once we're old enough not to need parental support any more.

Even a few lesbians occasionally fall into this trap, where one expects the other to support her, and where one uses her ability to support the other as leverage. As far as I know, it's a woman thing: At least I can't think of any gay male couples I've encountered where that is the dynamic.

Although I am a feminist, and my mom raised me to have an education and a career, I have never managed my money as though I were an independent financial entity. It's amazing how subtle this kind of internalized sexism can be: I just never took myself seriously in the financial realm. It's only recently that I have begun to think differently about what I deserve to make--and keep.

Of course part of that was the whole anti-materialism thing of the '60s, but not all.

It's such a new idea to me that I was astounded to learn the other day that a small business owner (female) up the street grosses $2 million a year. I know, of course, that there are a lot of women out there making bunches of money. But she's an ordinary woman like me, see, that's what was so amazing about it. I have, without realizing it, had it in my head all these years that real (ordinary) women never have any money of their own.

So anyway, I'm starting to ask for--and expect--more money for my work. And last week I opened my own checking account. For no reason other than that I felt I should have one.

So endeth the Lesson.


And then there's the menz. I haven't had to work with men in decades.


Change is scary

So the new job starts in a couple of weeks.
  • Will they respect my work? Will I respect theirs?
  • Will we get along?
  • Will the customers I'm taking with me like the new place?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quote of the day

Perhaps gamboling about the countryside observing the wonders of nature that exist blissfully innocent of patriarchal oppression is, in itself, a feminist statement.
Sounded good to me, so I went for a walk.



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Absolute best blog line of the day

. . . sometimes crap is unavoidable. . . it gets delivered to the door, Federal Express, and you are asked to sign for it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Word to the Wise

Got some feedback yesterday from a coworker to the effect that I am "too spontaneous," risking (or perhaps actually) being indiscreet. In the guise of asking my advice about how to deal with someone else, she gave me what my mother would call "a word to the wise". Ouchy, but unarguably accurate.

The rest of that expression is, "... should suffice" but I'm not sure it's anything I can change: I've been trying to zipper my lip for 50 years now, without more than sporadic success. If it wasn't my Dad, it was my second grade teacher who first told me essentially the same thing: "You talk too much!" Except that Mrs. Jones tactfully called me "enthusiastic".

Then, in practically the same breath, my coworker asked me to participate in an interesting ongoing project of hers.

All in all, a weird conversation.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Miss C

#1. There's no evidence that I can see that says Miss California only got runner-up because she thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman. Maybe she only placed second because (a) she's way too skinny, (b) those boobs don't look real, and (c) she shook them at the cameras before she answered.

#2. Wouldn't it be ironic if it were true? I mean, that the ultimate patriarchal farce has judges that are pro gay rights??

#3. Who gives a rat's ass about the Pageant or any of the tools that participate in it anyway?

#4. Shit. Are they still doing that thing? I had no idea.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Denial of death

I attended a memorial service today, for a woman I did not know. (I went in support of someone who did.)

As always, I was struck by the need some people have to believe that the one who died is not dead, not really. This was a particularly Jesus-y sort of service, with the minister saying he would be "amiss" if he did not inform us all that as long as we were 'born again' we wouldn't ever die either.

As far as I can make out, dead is dead, so I never find this kind of thing particularly comforting, although apparently some do: I could see some heads nodding as he spoke.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dickhead of the week

My husband spotted this one in the paper today:

It seems that back in 2004 one Frederick Lee Gude was indicted in Fulton County, Georgia (USA) on charges he murdered his girlfriend by stabbing her more than 30 times with an ice pick. He has yet to come to trial, for a variety of reasons. But he is not the dickhead of the week: This all happened back in 2004, after all.

This week's prize winner is one of his attorneys, Thomas West, who said in an interview, "We contended it was cruel and unusual to seek the death penalty in a case where you are just accused of killing your girlfriend and not something more heinous."

Un-effing-believable. In what universe does Mr. West live in which stabbing somebody 30 times is not "heinous"?


Thursday, April 2, 2009

So today I came out as bi to a whole roomful of college students. Odd venue to pick for the first revelation: I've never even said it to my Nigel.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bag Lady Anxieties

Last night I kept dreaming that bill collectors were calling my office. I'd wake up having an anxiety attack, calm myself down enough to go back to sleep and dream about yet another call: the entrepreneurial/professional woman's version of the fear we all harbor deep down that one day we too could be living under bridges.


Saturday, March 21, 2009


Carolyn G. Heilbrun, in Writing a Woman's Life, talked about the power of naming. Men, she said, have always done all the naming, and left women without the power to name and define ourselves and our lives. This is true in very concrete ways, for example, as we obtain our surnames from our fathers first, and then our husbands. If we marry more than once we may have three or more names in the course of a lifetime, names that have nothing to do with who we are in the way that, say, a Native American's sequence of names over her lifetime describes her character or deeds she has performed.

Even the names in our society have names. There's your maiden name, if you are a woman, and your married name. Both describe us not in our own terms, but in relationship to men. But then what do we want to be called? It's a similar problem to the one Malcolm X faced in ditching his "slave name." After a few hundred years it is impossible to know what your name would have been, should have been, had slavery never happened. So he just went with the X. Women would have to go back about 2,000 years to find our "real" names, because even your mother's name was a man's surname before her, and her mother's, too. For that reason, settling for keeping your maiden name despite marriage(s) just isn't going to cut it.

Having one name gets us out of that box. And since a woman with a made-up name like, say, Wind Horse, seems kind of silly in mainstream America, I picked a good old English place name befitting my genealogy. Better yet, it sounds like a name either a girl or a boy could have been given, so it doesn't have the gendered expectations attached to it that a "Sally" or a "Joseph" would. That fits me, as I'm a little androgynous.

It will have to do until some mentor, some spiritual adviser, gives me my Indian name.


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