Archive for: August, 2011

Maternal Musings

Aug 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Tonight my son chose our dinner. Tomorrow afternoon we begin the journey to his university dorm.

After teriyaki steak and grilled veggies including zucchini (his favorite), he asked his dad to go out and play catch.

It's all his father ever wanted. I cried while I loaded the dishwasher.

He's such a great kid.

Starting Thursday, we get to be a selfish couple again. Stay tuned.
I promise, I will blog about urine and science again. Soon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Reinvention: So Many Levels

Aug 28 2011 Published by under Reinvention Diaries

Change is in the air. Oh, yeah, I have moved in the last 2 months. Next week I drop my "baby" off at a university 12 hours away by car. And then I come back to my new city to start a new job.

In short, I am changing about as much as I can right now. While essential, change is never easy. Stay tuned for periodic updates on efforts to adjust and reinvent myself in my new phase of life.

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Thoughts on The Help

Aug 28 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

My family moved to Houston, Texas, in 1963 when I was 2-years-old. My mother made our home her job. My little brother joined us shortly after we moved, and her days consisted of children, meals, and house cleaning. Many of the women in the neighborhood were appalled, but not because she made the home her sole domain and interest. No, it seems she was doing work that white women were not supposed to do. The line lay in different spots for different women, but no white neighbor, no matter how poor, cleaned her own floors. It just wasn't done.

I remembered my mom's stories (we left Texas when I was 5) while I read The Help last week. The  novel debuted in 2009, and the inevitable movie premiered a few weeks back. The author, Kathryn Stockett, has been criticized for writing from the viewpoint (and attempting the dialect) of the African American housekeepers, but these criticisms seem petty to me. Of course, as a white woman, I cannot speak to the ultimate truth of these stories; however, they fit with a lot of my mother's stories from the same time period. I wonder how much has changed since my childhood, when these privileged women in Mississippi paid their help less than minimum wage and demanded that they use separate bathrooms in their homes.

When I had my daughter in Chicago, in 1987, friends and acquaintances suggested we go the least expensive route: the illegal Polish nanny. Women from Poland and other countries on tourist visas became nannies and sent money home, usually for half the price of a daycare center or licensed home. We did not pursue this avenue for a variety of reasons, but many of our colleagues did.

The bottom line seems to be that housekeeping and childrearing remain undervalued. These chores require no specialized training, but they remain essential to our lives. Yet when we choose to pay for them, we want to part with less cash than we pay for fast food.

I have not caught the movie yet, but I recommend the book for some summer reading with teeth.

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Greetings on Women's Equality Day

Aug 26 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings

Click for source

On 26 August 1920, the 19th amendment to the US Constitution passed, granting the right to vote to female citizens. Our foremothers worked hard to achieve this measure of equality, and I appreciate their efforts and sacrifices.

Unfortunately, our progress toward equality has stalled. Today, women average less than 80% of what men are paid for similar work, and women remain underrepresented in leadership positions at every level.

Join me in working toward true equality. Read about Vision 2020. Sign the Declaration of Equality and consider making a donation to the cause.

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Always a New Issue

Aug 25 2011 Published by under Wackaloonacy

One of the fun things about completely turning your life upside down is that something new and interesting keeps turning up. You open a box and say, "What the fuck?"

One recent issue involves my office iFish having to move into the same house as our cat. The first day, Dottie (the cat) sniffed the tank. She then pretty much went away and ignored it for almost 3 weeks.

Trouble brewing

Now she has discovered the fish.

One night she got the lid off the aquarium. Clear packing tape now assists gravity in keeping it in place. Periodically the fish expands its fins and tries to look threatening, but I don't think Dottie is impressed.

I don't think she can get into the tank or knock it over. Just to be safe, I think I will move it to a room I can shut off from our feline resident while we deliver my son to college.

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Better Late Than Never

Aug 22 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings

A while back (PM or pre-moving), Mein Hermitage announced another round of women in academia, no baby questions allowed. I agreed to be on the panel, thinking it would give me an excuse to stop unpacking and do something fun every day or two. Obviously, in the last 14 years some combination of time, aging, and child-induced dementia helped me forget how much damn fun moving could be.

The hub post went up today, when my answers to four questions were supposed to be done.


Fortunately, the house is functional, and we can find most items essential for life. And, I answered one of the questions de jour back in 2009 for Isis' Letters to Our Daughters Project. With shameless efficiency, I repeat it here. By the way, Isis moved her digs to her own domain (every goddess should have one).

The validity of my "embrace your inner bitch" posture was recently validated while reading Guy Kawasaki's book Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. In discussing the power of intermittent use of profanity and the reluctance many women feel to use these words, he offers this advice:

...heed the rules that I provided above, and let it rip, because the best way to destroy a double standard is to defy it.

Without further adieu, here is my advice on balancing assertiveness/bitchiness:

Once upon a time, there was a woman who felt that her gender should not be an issue in her career. She wanted to be treated as an equal, she acted like she was equal, and the men called her a bitch.

Bitch -noun

1. a female dog.
2. a female of canines generally.
3. Slang.

a. a malicious, unpleasant, selfish person, esp. a woman


b. a lewd woman.


4. Slang.

a. a complaint.


b. anything difficult or unpleasant: The test was a bitch.


c. anything memorable, esp. something exceptionally good: That last big party he threw was a real bitch


Why does this 5 letter word have such power over women? We are raised to be “nice.” Malicious, unpleasant, and selfish are the opposite of this goal; however, this means that demanding equality may appear bitchy! At so many gatherings I have heard women ask how they can get their needs met without being called a bitch (generally these women spell the word rather than say it). The short answer? You cannot! Anytime you assert your needs and put yourself ahead of someone else, others may call you a “female dog.”
When my daughter was starting middle school, I explained the world to her in my own warped way. I give my students the same advice. If you have a voice that gets heard in the world, someone will call you a bitch. If you perform acts of kindness and charity, someone will say that the bitch is showing off! If you show more spine than a jelly fish, someone eventually will brand you a bitch. Accept it. If someone calls you a bitch, you are probably doing something right.
About a year later a classmate turned to her and called her a bitch. She thanked him for noticing, and then related how she had not reached her mother’s level of “bitchdom” yet. He said nothing more, and did not try to insult her the rest of the year. She came home from school empowered rather than insulted.
Now, this advice does not mean you should be a bitch. Do not be mean or evil, and never treat those lower than you on the ladder of life with contempt. Always have a sounding board of friends who can help you determine the line between reasonable and bitchy. Sometimes you will cross the line, but, with their help, you will recognize this behavior and apologize for it. If you find yourself crossing the line too often, you may need to reexamine your attitudes and behavior. Do not be afraid to do this and make necessary adjustments. It is called “growth.”
Someday I hope we get beyond the name-calling, but until then take pride in some bitchiness. It may just mean you are acting like a human being instead of an invertebrate. It may just mean you are living your life.


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Moving Sucks

Aug 03 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Survival seems likely though. Blogging is highly unlikely.

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