Friday, November 20, 2015

Bic For Her

Earlier this week I was standing around with a few runners, drinking water and not talking about running.  Talking about running is what many Runners do when they are running.  It is how I know to never call myself a Runner.  Or "not yet," as one Runner told me.   I can't talk about running--yet--for many reasons.  The first is that I can't breathe.  Because I'm running.  But the others are that I have too many "no" answers to questions that would expand a conversation. 

R: "How long have you been running?"

Me:  (gasping)

R: "Do you have any races coming up?"

Me:  (panting) "No."

Other ways I know I am not yet a Runner is that I don't have that watch that beeps, I never know what mile we are on, and headlamps, I don't have one, though every time it is dark, I lurk creepily behind someone who is wearing one so I can see where I am going.  Or else practice running in the dark.  Is that a raccoon or a giant pot hole?  Ouch.  Not a raccoon.  Also, reflective gear, like those criss-cross yellow blinking Safety Patrol belts.  And those water bottles that strap to your hand.  Or your back.  Also, special sneakers.  Or proper clothing.

There are too many signs to keep listing.  The fact that if it is 10 degrees with a windchill of -15, you could not pay me to even contemplate the joy of Running.  "You just need the right clothing," one Runner stated, when I explained my 4 month absence from November through March.  This is where silence is useful, because I really like hot drinks, listening to the wind howl outside my window, and feeling generally glad to be out of the elements.  No amount of Under Armour is going to change that. 

Another tell-tale sign is that I don't understand a 50K.  I don't admire or mock it.  I just don't get it.  I've spent a little bit of time wondering what makes us gravitate toward intentional pain and suffering, with little pay off, and I think that in lieu of living in dangerous environments, we seek out a bit of anguish and physical harm.  And wear beeping watches and blinking lights to help us achieve this goal.

All of these things demonstrate what makes one a R, which is a commitment to something, an attention to the details that maximize the experience, and a goal-focused way of making sure that you are growing in an area that you value.  It's very teaching. 

If you don't have any races coming up and you can't breathe, it makes conversation after the run much more fluid and manageable. 

And sometimes pretty funny. 
Because I gravitate toward others who are similarly unprepared but keep showing up. 
In one such recent conversation, I was "hydrating" (which is a Runner's word for drinking water) and talking to a man and a woman.  The woman was mentioning a yoga class that she goes to, and how she feels bad for always being late. 
"It's like, all peaceful in there and I try to sneak in without being loud but then I'll bump someone or drop my mat and interrupt everything."
I nod my head in sympathy. 
The man is quiet, no nodding.  Then he says, "I like to get there 15 minutes early."  I nod, again, in sympathy.  Too early, too late.  Both can be difficult qualities to embody.
"And," he say, "get my things all lined up. My mat the way I like it, my waterbottle and my blocks and the band," he is physically lining them up with his hands.  It's all organized in his chosen corner and then I imagine this woman tripping over him as she enters the room 30 minutes later.  He tells a tale about a woman who always arrives ahead of him to get the exact same spot in the class, every single time.  This intrigues me the way someone doing a 50K intrigues me. 
"What would happen if someone took her spot?"  I ask.
He thinks it wouldn't be good.
"Have you ever tried?"
"Oh, I wouldn't," he says. 
I would.  Just to see.  This is probably why it's good I don't go to yoga classes.
The yoga conversation continues, and it gets funnier and funnier.  I ask a question and immediately regret it.  I don't know where the question comes from.
"What kind of yoga class is it?" This is my question.  As soon as I ask, I realize:
1. She could make up a name and I wouldn't know the difference
2. I know there are different kinds of yoga, but I don't know what they are, so I'm not sure why I am asking this. 
But no question is ever wasted, because she knows as much as I do, but now the man is trying to guess which kind it is. 
He asks if it is the fast breathing yoga.
"I don't think so," she says, looking like she is playing out the last class in memory to look for any fast breathing.  "You mean, like, deep breathing?"
No.  He means fast breathing.  He demonstrates.  And what he demonstrates is very familiar.  I recall learning it in a natural child birthing class.  He's showing the part of breathing you do during a contraction.
"Are you sure you were in a yoga class?"  I ask.  "That sounds like Lamaze."
"No, it was yoga," he says. 
"Because I can see how you might accidentally enter a Lamaze class and it would be similar to yoga, and the instructor would be pretty laid-back and accepting and would see you practicing labor breathing and would just, you know, encourage you, thinking, 'Well, to each their own.' "
"It was yoga," he says. 

She's not sure the kind of yoga class it is, and so he is guessing: lots of poses?  Fast flowing?   I think of all the information about yoga that has been deposited into my brain by people who say You have to try it and then tell me how they go to rooms where it is 150 degrees and just sweat.  There are the cold Under Armour Runners and the Hot Yoga breathers and the man who is guessing what kind of yoga this woman does says something like, "It roots your soul.  Does she say that in class?"
"Yes!" the woman says. 
And then they are exchanging the many times that soul is referenced during their 60 minute workout class.  "Like, 'Feel your soul flow,' and 'Now s-t-r-e-t-c-h your soul!'" 

I am getting the sense that there are Runners, and those who run, and there are Yogis, and those who do drop in classes.  And the drop-ins don't know why the soul is referenced just as those who run don't have any races lined up.  Yet. 

Somewhere in this post-Running post-running conversation, the woman asked if we had seen a bit done by Ellen DeGeneres on Pens for Women.
I hadn't, but said that that's a funny idea. 
"No, it's real.  These pens made for women, by Bic.  It's called Bic for Her."

Without further ado, fast breathing, or upcoming races, I bring to you, Bic.  For Her

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Changing Lives of Women: Going Blue

In 2013, NPR launched a series titled The Changing Lives of Women.

Today's segment features 85 year old Anne Bernays: novelist, teacher, and blue haired beauty.

"While young people sparkle like diamonds, old folks are invisible — except, as I discovered, if you have bright blue hair."
Well worth the listen.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Alternatively Titled

I heard this on the radio this morning and my brain immediately started retitling the story.

Here are just a few:

I Really Do Read it for the Articles

Why Buy the Cow Magazine When There's The Internet For Free

Naked is as Naked Does  (this one makes no sense, but has a nice ring)

Less is More, and Turtlenecks are Ba-aack

Hugh Hefner: 89 and still sporting a bathrobe everywhere he goes.  God bless him. 

From the story:

Playboy will stop publishing photos of nude women. Its website stopped featuring nudity in August, and traffic has since increased from 4 million to 16 million users a month, according to Playboy executives. 
 --'Playboy' to Stop Publishing Nude Images

What if you were the next model/celebrity/human who was scheduled to appear in the magazine, and then you received a phone call: "Actually, we're all set.  But thanks anyway.  We're going to focus on art and the economy instead."
You'd be calling your agent stat to see if hell had frozen over.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Please Take This Idea And Run With It

Inspired by this text conversation with a Loved One, who has three children under the age of 5.

Begins with details about a fishing pole:

Me:  They're called Shakespearean poles.  Hope you're feeling better and your fever is gone. 

LO:  Turns out I have pneumonia. 

Me:  Omg pneumonia??

LO: Yeah and George has bronchitis

LO:  We've covered all the respiratory diseases.

Me:  LOL   :(

Me:  Do you need anything?  Juice....broth.....less liquid in your lungs....a nanny

LO:  All of the above

Me:    What about a business that services SAHM/D with kids ages 0-5.  When the parent is sick, they go here;  there is an amazing child care center on one side, and then hotel-like suites on the other and the sick parent goes to the suite and stays from 8 - 5 each day.  And it is covered by insurance. 

LO:  You would make bank


LO:  It'd probably just spread diseases faster

Me:  No because the sick person is Quarantined!!!!

LO:  Hmmm.  We should do this

Me:  Ah know.  (pause to realize I don't actually want to run/own/operate such a business, I simply want it to exist)

As I am writing this, my phone starts pinging repeatedly.  LO is contemplating "logistical red flags." 

Me: Like what?

LO:  Well you'd need a vaccination list for kids ahead of time, then there's allergies, special needs equipment (can't discriminate), transportation if the mom is too sick to drive, then what if the mom gets sicker and needs help


LO: Plus I'm sure we'd need insurance and people would have to sign waivers upon arrival


LO: What if the child is a 5 year old serial killer?


LO:  Stuff like that. 

Well.  Do what you can with it.  I have a few name suggestions if you happen to get such a facility licensed in the near future. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Changing of the Guard

"Something told him that something was coming to an end.  Not the world, exactly.  Just the summer.  There would be other summers, but there would never be one like this.  Ever again."

---Neil Gaiman

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Studies Show

An evidence-based ditty by Honor Finnegan

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Gertrude's Secret

If a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet, would Victoria's Secret still be as sexy if it went by another name?

Five years ago I called to have my name removed from the Victoria's Secret mailing list.  I was told my name was removed and yet the mail still kept coming.  I just chucked it in the bin and went along with life and then one day a postcard arrived from Gertrude's Secret and it was a coupon for free underwear.  No strings attached.  You just show up with your postcard and pick up some pantaloons.

But they're called panties.    

I go through phases where I save coupons for random things, stick them in a drawer, and then later clean the drawer and have to throw out a bunch of expired coupons.  Because they are never for useful things, like dark chocolate, but for a Free Custard at Rita's, or buy two sheet pizzas and get the third free, or Free Pantaloons at Gertrude's Secret.  Not that those don't add to the value of a day, but peripherally so, not integral. 

Anywho, I had a day where I cleaned that drawer and everything was going to expire in a week.  And I became determined to use every coupon before they expired. 

Have you ever redeemed a free pantloon postcard at VS? 

Let me give you a peek:  nothing is free.

I entered the store and asked a sales rep which of the pantaloons qualified.  She asked if I'd also like to look at some amazing new bras they had in, as well as beautiful sleep wear.  I said no thank you.  She asked if I would like to look at their lotions and potions.  No thanks, just here for the pantaloons.  Of course, she said.  She took me on a long and winding tour through the store, pointing out several new items and another set of bras that would change my life.  She'd slow at each item and I just waited thinking, Those are not the free pantaloons. 

At last, we arrived at a table strewn with underwear.  Free pantaloons.  I selected a pair and got in line. 

Once at the register the spiel began again.  I handed over the drawers and the postcard.  The cashier asked if I found everything I was looking for.  I said yes.  Had I heard of the new hand lotion with sea kelp?  No, but I just wanted the

or the newly patented bras that would change my life

nope just here for the

or the super soft and comfy pajama

free panties

And then there was a silence.  And a pause.

It was a standoff. 

Would I walk out with the free panties?

Or would I also be purchasing a sea kelp bra that would change my skin tone?

Free panties.  Thank you.

My item was put in a bag and stuffed with excessive pink tissue paper. 

I came.  I saw.  I got the free panties. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Margaret Fuller

“Nature,” she says, “seems to delight in varying the arrangements, as if to show that she will be fettered by no rule; and we must admit the same varieties that she admits.”

--Margaret Fuller
from Judith Thurman's An Unfinished Woman

There are 217 Margarets in my family, and not one of them goes by Margaret. This is the only name I know that is given, along with but thou shall be called Clementine

Of the Margarets I know, the variations of non-Margaret thou shall be called names are all unique. 
No two non-Margaret names the same.

This is probably due to something that Liz Lemon touched upon, in her despising of St. Paddy's Day, as she wears orange and pranks the parade revelers. 

There can never be too many Margarets.

This particular Margaret, I had never heard of until listening to Cheever's biography of Louisa May Alcott.

This Margaret went by Margaret. 

Cheever, in her biography of Alcott, writes about The Conversations.  The Conversations were a thing  (official title that) back in the 1800's that were held by folks who had a lot of ideas and energy but couldn't hold a teaching job and were too antsy to write very much for very long.  Louisa May Alcott's father became king of these: The Conversations.   Because he was kicked out of every school he opened.  And because Emerson eventually stopped financially supporting him. 

To hold a Conversation was to hold a chat about something on which you had a lot of thoughts/ideas/opinions.

It was The Internet, in 1840.

The Conversations spurred other conversations.  (aka The Comments section).

Some folks who held Conversations were paid to do this for a living. 
(Like banner advertising and sponsored posts)

(This post is brought to you by Barry's Tea, though they are not paying me to write about them.  I should look into this.)

Back to Margaret, aka Margaret. 

She is next up on my reading list. 

Here are some Fuller quotes:

Nature provides exceptions to every rule.

The especial genius of women I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency.

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.

I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own.

Beware of over-great pleasure in being popular or even beloved.

Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods.

Essays, entitled critical, are epistles addressed to the public, through which the mind of the recluse relieves itself of its impressions.
Two persons love in one another the future good which they aid one another to unfold.

Her selfie  (hand drawn due to limiting circumstances.):
Image result for margaret fuller Quotes

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Teenage Dream: What We Learn From Each Other

The more time I spend with teenagers, the more I'm blown away. 

This letter is a an example of what's in there. 

To the Teenage Girls Swimming at the Pool by Christine Organ

And then one of you looked me right in the eye and, with a firm gentleness, said, “You will regret it if you leave here today and do not do jump. You will regret it.”
“I know,” I whispered. “You’re right.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Farewell, Atticus

I had decided not to read Go Set A Watchman because this: there is enough reality in the world and I want to keep my fictional heroes intact. 
If I don't read it, Atticus doesn't have to become too human and that's how I like it.

This evening Miss C and I went to the library to watch a movie that was playing in the community room, Into the Woods.  I love movies at the library.  When the audience is young enough, there are kids yelling at the screen.  Tonight was an older crowd and at the end, people applauded.  It was pretty cute but I didn't understand why.  Because it was a projector. 

On our way out, Miss C picked up a few books and we went to check out.  Our favorite librarian made eyes at a book on the counter that had just been returned.  She leaned conspiratorially toward me, "Do you want it?"  I looked down.  It was Go Set A Watchman, 

"Is it IN!" I grabbed the book.  Apparently I'm ready for the fall of Atticus.  "Is it available?"

"7 day loan," she said.  And checked it out to me. 

Miss C was not understanding the fuss, so the librarian and I started simultaneously explaining the fuss, the first book, the controversy. 
By the time we got home I was still talking about the book and she quietly walked into the living room, picked up a pair of ear buds, turned to me and placed them in her ears.  They were connected to nothing.  Dangling cord but ears stuffed.  Point made. 

I'd fully committed to The Goldfinch for the next 9 years, but I'm taking a detour and bracing myself for the fall of a giant of justice and hoping that at least Scout is intact at the end of this journey. 

Monday, July 6, 2015


USA v Japan: Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Photo: Ronald Martinez/2015 Getty Images

My dad used to tell these soccer stories about myself, my brothers.  We always were the star player though there was a team of 11 on the field.  We always were kicking arse and taking names. 
We always cleared the ball, scored the goal, or had an assist. 
Occasionally the stories were true.

This is called the side-door brag.  Where someone tells a nice story about you.  And occasionally it is true.

My dad used to tell these stories over and over and we'd go, "Dad, enough already."

Then last night, in a packed pub in Maine, among mostly strangers and one soul-wonderful friend, I looked around at all the men and women who were glued to the big screen.  I looked at the full stadium on the big screen.  And I suddenly felt the urge to tell a story my dad used to tell, which begins and ends in one sentence.  It is actually a fragment:

When I played against Abby Wambach.

The rest of it would go: we always lost/ she always scored a lot of goals/ it always looked effortless/ golly/ we'd assign 4 defenders to her/we still always lost

My friend had introduced me to the term "back-door brag," a casual mention of something you want people to know buried in an unnecessary context.

Also to the term "Irish-goodbye," where one gets up from a social gathering, says they are going to use the bathroom, get a drink, be right back, and never returns.

And I have determined that this is neither back door nor side door brag.  It is a front door acknowledgement of wonder:  my team got occasionally killed by her team and how cool is that?

I'm going to get a drink now.  I'll be right back. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Fantasy Film of Therapists Everywhere

I went to see Inside Out and loooooved it.

It's like the film Being John Malkovich, except more appropriate for children, and more appropriate for adults too.

Can I just say: how wonderful that Disney co-created a movie in which the main characters are the emotions operating an 11 year old girl's brain?   I just got all tingly writing that.  Joy!

When Anger, Joy, Sadness, Disgust and Fear are at the helm, there is far more action and adventure than in all 17 Terminator movies multiplied by Die Hard with Avengers on Fury Road.  That's a total fact. 

Looking forward to Inside Out: Puberty (3-D). 
On the big screen, not in real life.
I like a tidy 90 minute experience as much as the next escapist. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gotta Keep Reading!

Miss C's class sang this song as they wrapped up their second grade career.
Just stinkin' cute.

This is, I believe, the original:

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Right to Bear Arms

This week, in reading about another incomprehensible shooting that took place in Charleston, South Carolina, one question I see repeatedly is: Are Americans more violent?

Over two years ago, just after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I wrote this:

The Right to Bear Arms

Saturday, April 25, 2015

5 Years

Five years ago I put up my first post here. 

Slightly intimidated by the idea of blogging  (how to do it and what is a widget and how do I make a picture go here ), I was helped by my friend Allison.  After she got it begun, I could just write something, and hit publish.  Once I had that part in place, it became easy to learn about this newfangled technology and I think I know what a widget is, in layman terms. 

Back then, Miss C was 3 years old, I thought this would last for 90 days, and I did not consider myself a feminist. 

I considered myself a mother who was honored and daunted by this gift of raising a girl, and wanted to understand the world she was experiencing, and like all parents, I wanted to fix stuff and change stuff and like all parents, I got humbled and schooled many times in that department. 

But, oh the growth!

Prior to becoming a mother, prior to having a daughter, I was someone who had spent much of my life as.....what is the word that means the opposite of feminist?  Is there a word?  That was me.

In my youth and teen days, I quoted Rush Limbaugh and was often on the lookout for feminazis.  In high school I walked out of a religion class because my teacher,  a Catholic feminist, began talking about birth control in answer to a students question.  I was like I don't know what the anti-Christ looks like but it might be her and I am outta here

Though I stopped quoting Rush at some point, many of my ideas were still of the mindset that:
men know more.   

Given any hypothetical situation, I'd end up with that as the unspoken but certain proof. 

I never would have said that because I doubt I knew it was a core belief.  I understood it as a fact, and there is no need to examine or question a fact.  It just is. 

I found in my work as a therapist that sometimes, when a client was undergoing some major metamorphosis, the unearthing, illuminating, and releasing of limiting beliefs had to come nearly from the source---or a symbol of the source---from which they sprang.  This was not "always" by any means, as sometimes we make a huge, cataclysmic shift, reject something entirely, and shed a belief in a fast and furious way.  But many times, we take small steps of change because it is less frightening this way. 

There were two early shifts, which pointed me to unearth this limiting idea. It took 18 years to acquire and live from this notion and the following 18 to dig it out and set it down.

*I chose a Catholic college and as a requirement, had to take a theology class.  It was taught by a good looking seminarian, 7 years into his study toward the priesthood.  He was nicknamed
Fr. Whatawaste.  As in, whatawaste that man will be celibate and not adding his genes to the pool of humanity.  He spoke quietly, was kind, and clearly loved the subject he was teaching.  He was in love with the Vast Love.  Here is where my world began to rock a little bit: as he taught, he asked questions, and encouraged us to ask questions.  About the existence of God, and anything at all.  Because he was not a feminazi, I didn't walk out of the class.  And because this was coming from a priest, I sat with my discomfort, knowing that the apocalypse could be arriving any minute now.

*In my four years of  college,  I majored in psychology and English, and twice, seriously contemplated becoming a nun.  By the time I graduated, I had concluded, somewhat like Maria Von Trapp, that I'd make a very terrible nun.  I went to work at a Jesuit school and lived in intentional community with other teachers.  The Jesuits, as an order, love the Vast Why.  Every Jesuit I encountered had at least three graduate degrees, or dual doctorates, or was currently pursing some study of something or other just because.  On my third day of working at this school, I attended Mass.  There were a whopping four of us there, including the priest.  He surveyed the scene, and said, "It's so beautiful outside.  Let's have Mass out there."  I thought there is no way this is legal.  But I followed along slowly, trying to gauge if the anti-Christ could be a Jesuit.   I calmed down in the sun and sat with the two nuns, the Jesuit, and we had Mass on the sidewalk.  And then when the priest finished a brief homily, he turned to Sr. Juanita and said, "What do you think about today's reading, Sr. Juanita?"  I decided that yes, the anti-Christ could indeed be a priest.  But then I listened to Sr. Juanita and was drawn into her deep reflection, her incredible wisdom, and I entirely forgot that she shouldn't be talking.  Then, the other nun gave her thoughts, and when I was asked for my thoughts, I was like, no way I'm participating in heresy.  Pass
Every time this priest said Mass, he spoke a few words, and then said, "I invite any here to share their own reflections on today's readings."  It took me awhile, but soon the discomfort changed into an eagerness to share.  I forgot to remember that I shouldn't be speaking. 

After those two things, other experiences continued to jolt me and expand me.  My world got bigger bit by bit, until I had shifted enough to feel this split that happens when you have internalized an entirely different set of beliefs, but have not fully integrated these things into your actual world.  It's a painful place because you can't go back, but going forward often feels...impossible.  During this point, my good friend listened as I verbally tread water about this split.  Her reply: "You're in the closet about your beliefs.  And that is a very painful place to be." 

One thing made it easier, almost effortlessly, to take another step.  I had a daughter, and she had no idea she was not supposed to ask questions, or speak about certain things.  And her questions have not ceased since she acquired language.  Sitting on my lap in church several years ago, I daydreamed out the window and she listened intently.  Then she put her hands on my cheeks to pull my face toward hers, and said, "Mama, is this fiction?  Or nonfiction?"    That question comes from her in many forms, about everything.  Once she figured out the difference between opinion and fact, she spent several months filtering everything through this newly understood concept.  From the dinner on the table to the stars in the sky.  Everything I said to her was sent to either opinion or fact, immediately.  Sometimes I could see the words leaving my lips and her sorting them as they moved toward her, categorizing them as needed. 

Me: "Time to brush your teeth."

Her: "That's an opinion."

Me: "That's a fact."

Her: "No, it's an opinion because I don't think it's time to brush my teeth."

Me: "I disagree with your opinion and am restating the fact that it's time to brush your teeth."

Her: "It will be a fact when I do it, but right now it's an opinion."  Pause.  "But I'll do anyway."

These exchanges were actually not done in sass.  She was really filtering, entirely everything, through this new lens.  Nothing was left out of the system.

A fellow therapist once said that we permit questions and explorations from children that we don't permit within ourselves because we assume their innocence, and somehow distrust our own innocence. 

I like this view.  We forget the innocence of our own curiosities.

I'm not in the closet about my beliefs anymore.  I have shifted my faith community, I'm not afraid of the word feminism, and finally, I've figured out that I believed something (men know more) and found how untrue that is.  I began to see how limiting this idea is, not only to women, but to men as well. 

Feminism, now that I am not running from it, is not hateful toward anyone.  It is immensely loving, toward men, and toward women.  It will have a name until the world is changed enough that the name will evaporate because it won't be necessary to call it anything, it will just be.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Unassailable Aunts

"Aunt Margaret told me that if I lived my life as a nonreader, I could experience seventy or eighty years of the world, but if I read, I could enjoy three thousand years of the world's most enlightening thoughts and stories. "

--Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia

Reading Pipher's reflections on extended family brought to mind Miss C's spectacular Aunts, as well as my own incredible and incredibly diverse Aunts. 

More gems from Aunt Margaret to her young niece,

You need to read all of Pearl S. Buck, though her later books were inferior to her earlier ones.

You should live in Paris, Rome, or New York in your twenties.

Never trust anyone who uses the word 'frankly.'


He had an interesting life, but he is not an interesting person.

About unnecessary pennypinchers, Aunt Margaret quoted Oscar Wilde:

He knew the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Pipher's lesson from this Aunt:

"I learned from her that no one's ideas were unassailable.  I heard her assail my father's and my uncle's opinions almost daily. "

All quotes are from Pipher's memoir Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Question of the Day: Discretion Advised

Here it is.

The NCAA tournament is in full swing.

You are watching a game. 
You notice that the opposing team is playing dirty and not being called on it. 
You go to your twitter account and you energetically tweet that the other team is:

"playing dirty & can kiss my team's free throw making a—"

Now for the question.

If you are a man and you tweet this, will the response tweets include calling you:

a cunt
a whore
a bitch

telling me to suck a two-inch dick

If you are a man and you tweet this, will the responses include threats of rape?

Who is permitted to have passionate feelings about sports?

Ashely Judd, apparently, crossed the invisible line and received a tsunami of tweets letting her know she had gone too far

Here is her assessment:

I love March Madness so much that even now, what I really want to talk about is how Sunday's strategy did not, in fact, work. I really want to talk about a deeply distressing dream I recently had that UConn beat us in the finals, in which we scored a scant 49 points, not to mention the oddity of why my awful dream featured UConn and not Wisconsin.
Instead, I must, as a woman who was once a girl, as someone who uses the Internet, as a citizen of the world, address personally, spiritually, publicly and even legally, the ripe dangers that invariably accompany being a woman and having an opinion about sports or, frankly, anything else.
What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the Internet. Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood. My tweet was simply the convenient delivery system for a rage toward women that lurks perpetually.

Here is the op-ed she wrote about this, where she bravely discusses her own history of sexual abuse, and why the backlash of threatening tweets are pulling her forward to speak, instead of be silenced. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Barbie Spy: Coming Soon (or take 10 seconds to sign a petition )

I was in Trader Joe's last week and I saw that they had peanut butter with chia and flax seeds mixed in

And peanut butter with the jelly already swirled through.

And some kind of peanut butter that had cookies in there too. 
Or maybe it was just liquid cookies in a peanut butter jar.

There are people whose job is to sit in a room together and create. 
To think of something that does not yet exist, and then commission it to be made. 

It makes me marvel at the awesomeness of creativity, and also makes me wonder if the chia and flax seed camp had a heated argument with the liquid cookies camp.

Making up new things in the US is a vastly supported venture.

But sometimes, creators and companies suck make bad choices.
And we have to remind them to cut the crap make more ethical decisions on how to make money without taking advantage of 5 year olds.

In the US, there are no regulations which limit marketing to children.
I've posted about this before, when the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood drew our attention to the fact that Scholastic was joining forces with the American Coal Foundation (see here and here), and when Fisher Price was selling the iPad Bouncy Seat (see here).

And now, CCFC has brought attention to more nonsense:

A Barbie.  That talks to your kid.  And records what your kid says.  And stores all that information in a cloud.  And uses that information to market to children more specifically.

To a teenager with this idea, we might say, Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

To a creative and entrepreneurial 12 year old we might ask, Do you think that is a good thing to do?  To take advantage of your little sister by giving her a doll that records her private thoughts and musings and then uses them for your own profit at a future date?

The company might say, But Fisher Price is doing it!

And we can say, If Fisher Price were jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you jump too?

Or, I can cease all these analogies where I compare terrible company decisions to parenting conversations and we could just sign a petition. 

The good news is that: these things work.  Companies don't like to upset their customer base, and so sometimes, they listen. 

Here's a synopsis of Hello Barbie.

Here's a link to sign a petition.   (I'm signature 1675!)

Make interesting peanut butter, not data-recording cloud-storing Barbies. 

Let's remind Mattel to make good choices.

Image result for trader joe peanut butter chia

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Second Agreement

Some years ago, I read a brief and wonderful book called The Four Agreements.

The four agreements, made even shorter, are these:

Be Impeccable With Your Words
Don't Take Anything Personally
Don't Make Assumptions
Always Do Your Best

This week, I started reading To Kill A Mockingbird. 

A conversation between 8 year old sister Scout and 12 year old brother Jem:

"Scout, don't let Aunty aggravate you."

It seemed only yesterday that he was telling me not to aggravate Aunty.

"You know she's not used to girls," Jem said, "leastways, not girls like you.  She's trying to make you a lady.  Can't you take up sewin' or somethin'?"

"Hell no.  She doesn't like me, that's all there is to it, and I don't care."

She may not be impeccable with her words, but Scout lives by the 2nd Agreement. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Only Baby Book You'll Ever Need

My little sister is going to have a baby any minute

She has brought 2 lovely little people into the world, and she has high hopes for this 3rd little person. 
Rather, one high hope: that this little person will sleep. 

In honor of the fact that at a certain point of parenthood, you throw the book against the wall (if you are reading a parenting book)  (mine was the one that had sleep schedules and the acronym EASY, which stood for Eat, Activity, Sleep, and I forget what the Y stood for...yurts, or yaks, or Yemen or Yugoslavia or something), I am posting this fascinating little opinion piece titled

The Only Baby Book You'll Ever Need, by Michael Erard

Just because.  Read it.  You'll see what I mean.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trust your self.

I once opened a fortune cookie that read:
You should listen to yourself more often.
I hung it on my fridge with a piece of Scotch tape.

I see it still, and sometimes wonder: How different would this world be if women did this, instead of listening to those who demand trust, instead of earning it?

Cindra Ladd writes here and proves it is never too late to speak  your truth. 

If history teaches anything it is that truth can come in bits and pieces.  Or sometimes, a landslide.

So why speak out at all and why now? The simple answer is that it's the right thing to do. The truth deserves to be known.  
We are only as sick as the secrets we keep. Once those secrets are spoken aloud, even if to just one person, they lose their power.
Thank you, Cindra Ladd.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV.

Why aren’t people listening to these women? Is it because most of this allegedly happened so long ago? Is it because some of them went into Cosby’s hotel room alone? Is it because there are no polaroids? Is it because he’s so famous? Or is it just because they’re women?

---Larry Wilmore

When it came to light that actor Stephen Collins had sexually abused three girls, some of the commentary sounded like this, "But I loved him!" 
Meaning, I loved the character he played on TV
On TV, he was a minister.
And a father of 7 children.

I attributed some of the initial shock at the Cosby allegations to the fact that we loved him. 
Meaning, Heathcliff Huxstable. 
Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable: devoted husband, father of 5, funny face maker.

Beyond Heathcliff, we loved Cosby, or the man he played in life: charitable, comedic.

There can be such kickback when we don't want to acknowledge  what I will label "difficult stories" presented to us, especially when they challenge an already formed loyalty.

As these stories continue, it doesn't appear that we are as attached to the TV personas as much as to the need to have 300 confirmed victims, a semen stained dress, a time limitation on when this this could have taken place, eye witness accounts, and a description of what she was wearing.

May we listen as these difficult stories come forth, and remember how very hard it is for someone to speak about something for which they know they will be further attacked and discredited. 

This is why it has taken so long.
This is why there are so many.  Women are finding strength, years later, in finding that they are not the only one.

Can you imagine being a lone voice saying, I have something to say about the man you adore and revere. 

Good luck to that lone voice.

We still confuse power with greatness, and persona with goodness.  They are not the same. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

From a Source You Can Trust

“I don’t know why it’s so hard to believe women.  You to go Saudi Arabia and you need two women to testify against a man.   Here you need 25.”

---Jay Leno on the accusations against Bill Cosby

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Dream, The Nightmare

Listening to recorded speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., alongside interviews from those closest to him, I notice something:

his utter discouragement. 

Somehow, when I have read about him, I have formed in my mind a figure so strong and so invulnerable to the forces that he had to move against in order to speak a truth that needed to be heard.

We honor him fully today, but he was not supported in his time, and over time, this led him to doubt. 

He did not doubt the truth that he spoke.

But he had times that he doubted what use it was.

What use to speak the truth, and have it fall on deaf ears?

What use to live by truth, and have it be discredited, rejected, demonized?

He was not immune to weariness.  He had times he wondered if he should just take a position as a preacher, and lead a church, as he was trained to do. 

He moved through doubt. 

In this speech, A Time To Break Silence, he begins with this as the foundation:

"I cannot remain silent." 

He may not have wanted to continue to live a mission which seemed to bring so little response.  But at the core, he felt he had to.  His words:

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace....If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. 

Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? ..... Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015


"Almost all of my pictures with children have their mother holding them.  Would you could hear them talk, their philosophy would astonish you." 

--Mary Cassatt

Mother And Child XI - Mary Cassatt -

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

10,000 Piece Jigsaw

For a child, it is in the simplicity of play that the complexity of life is sorted like puzzle pieces joined together to make sense of the world.
--L.R. Knost