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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

“What does feminism mean to you?” Maxine, a new friend questioned me. I had to stop and think, since it feels like such a natural element in my life, she might have well asked, “Why do you need to breathe?”

My rant began slowly and built up over time. But I had to start out with equal pay for equal work, a fundamental, major prerequisite for life here on earth. Luckily she agreed, but she is about ten years younger. I’ve noticed that some younger women take many of our rights for granted, they think the word “feminist” is alienating. They like to call themselves humanists.

Which is OK I guess. After all, they didn’t have to be married to get birth control from a paternalistic, male doctor. They didn’t see their friends mutilated from illegal abortions, and later be unable to bear children. They were never told not to consider college by a school counselor, instead apply to secretarial school. They were never shamed about their sex.

I fumbled into a bit of a Twitter tirade with a young feminist author recently. I try to avoid trolls at all costs, I believe in just blocking them at first sight. But I was reading Hunger by Roxanne Gay, so I started following her and she mentioned she was working on a group of stories about “difficult women.”  And I asked if “difficult women” are the same as “nasty women.”

“NO,” was her one word reply.

The problem was I didn’t see her reply until the next day and by that time a bunch of angry young “feminist” trolls had said some awful things about me in her feed. So I’m not some 12 year old girl who would have been crushed and possibly suicidal by the digital harassment. I responded to them… I said I was a 68 yr old feminist and truly didn’t know the difference and would they please explain. I went high.

Now one of the responders had mentioned “cis women,” and how fed up she was with them (me), so I was guessing this had to do with some Lesbian sexual thing, since Gay is gay and I was simply referencing Hillary’s “nasty women.” I remembered another instance of being shamed online, when a famous food blogger put my picture up and someone said I looked like a “man.”

Now that really hurt! But I blamed it on my pouffy hat at the Downton Abbey premier. IMG_0836

And if you haven’t heard Pink’s response to her daughter being told she looks like “…a boy with long hair,” listen to this: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/8/27/16212862/pink-vma-2017-video-vanguard-acceptance-live-your-truth

Thank you very much Pink! It saddens me that some feminists with differing sexual preferences aren’t on the same page, because we all were once upon a time. Ms Gay deleted all those difficult/nasty/mean Tweets and then she blocked ME!

Fine. Her book became difficult for me to finish, and it wasn’t an easy start as she was gang raped at the age of twelve. But I didn’t block her, I’m giving her a chance to explain herself. After all, she doesn’t know I have a good Lesbian friend here in Nashville.

Now Ivanka is another story. She stood behind her dad in blocking the implementation of President Obama’s rule to address gender-based pay discrimination. (Remember that was my very first point to my new friend). The rule would have required businesses to collect data on pay discrepancies based on gender, ethnicity and race. Here is her explanation, in case you were wondering about her feminist cred.

“Ultimately, while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results. We look forward to continuing to work with EEOC, OMB, Congress and all relevant stakeholders on robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap.”

I wish we could all stop shaming each other. When I see snarky comments about FLOTUS wearing stilettos to a flood zone I get just as mad as I would have when anyone criticized Hillary’s hair or her clothes. I mean, come on…..

This is my high school graduation picture, 1966. I was a 17 year old budding feminist then, who didn’t wear stockings or makeup or tease her hair.

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It must be Barilla lasagne day. Never mind that temperatures will most likely hit the high 90s, I will be baking my vegetarian offering for a friend who unexpectedly lost her husband last week. The shock of this loss still gnaws at my consciousness, and don’t ask me why but cooking helps. One night Henry was fine, just a little indigestion, and the next morning he was gone, dying peacefully in his sleep. He was my age.

His wife, because I just cannot call her a widow yet, my friend Tammy is a member of the Ivy Farms Book Club. She is also a brilliant lawyer, a loving mother, a friend and much more. She was my neighbor when we first moved to Cville, welcoming this Yankee with open arms. We shared a love of big, white polar bear-type dogs! I’ve often said I could live in Tammy’s kitchen, it is a warm Tuscan cave of a room, with long windows at one end and a round, welcoming table in the center. Many a night we women would sit and discuss books, and everything else under the moon, with a kind of truth and candor one rarely expects.

All of my readers from the old Rumson Book Club know what I mean.

Our husbands were always in the periphery. Some would show up towards the end of our evenings, and some didn’t. If Henry was in town, he would show up. His hugs were real, not the fake, half in/half out type. He was the kind of gentle man who had a spark, who could make you think you were the only two people in a large gathering. His laughter was contagious. He was an international lawyer, who traveled extensively to poorer countries all over the world as an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised. If lawyers had a “Doctors Without Borders” association, he would be its director. If big companies were exploiting their workers anywhere on the planet, Henry was there. To Tammy, he was her Prince.

One of his colleagues, Mark Sparks, wrote an exceptional tribute to Henry:

Today we lost a wonderful friend of mine–Henry Dahl. Henry was one of the kindest, humblest, most intelligent lawyers I’ve ever known. Henry, I didn’t even know you spoke Russian (your sixth language) until we ran into Miss Russia at the Miss Universe pageant in Quito—you made her laugh and I never asked why. Henry, I didn’t know you were President of the Inter-American Bar Association until I happened upon it online—you never boasted about it once. Henry, I didn’t know you played tennis until we started for the first time in northern Nicaragua—at some desolate place most people wouldn’t even consider visiting. What I do know, Henry, is that armed with your keen mind and my ability to claim credit for that brilliance, we traveled for years throughout Central America working on foreign cases together. There, you did what you did best–used your intelligence and kindness to try and make this world a better place for those who need it most. We emailed each other yesterday, and I should have told you how much better I was for knowing you. I didn’t. Henry, I am so much better for knowing you—and this world needs more of you, not less.

Yes, the world needs more of Henry’s kindness and compassion, his fighting spirit. And we are all better for knowing him, and for our community of women friends. Tammy’s daughter is currently applying to medical school. The Bride had given her a tour of the UVA Med School while she was in high school, before she went off to Dartmouth. It would only be right if Olivia followed in the Bride’s footsteps, choosing Emergency Medicine as a means to help the most marginalized among us.

This circle of friends is our constant harbor.

And today is my day to deliver a hug, along with two pans of lasagne. It is a small thing, but I believe food feeds the soul. And I know I need to work on finding a great recipe for Argentinian empanadas, the soul food of his culture. Rest in Peace Henry.     23598_310013910731_4491126_n

http://www.dailyprogress.com/obituaries/dahl-henry-saint/article_15725de0-8e73-51b7-947e-8a3f55764d91.html

 

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As parents of young children, we try to make every game, see every recital, soak up every bit of our child’s life while we can. We know deep down it doesn’t last long. In no time their friends will take our place; there will be sleepovers and soon some boy who looks like he’s 12 will show up at the door to drive them somewhere. If we are lucky, we may still hear about a bit of success along the way. Some children tell us of their failures, most will keep their own counsel, not wanting to worry us.

I thought it was funny this weekend when I “heard” via twitter that my son the Rocker played on the same stage as the Boss. Maybe it’s boys. Boys don’t chatter on about relationships, they don’t usually dissect their friends’ love lives. I remember reading once if you wanted to talk with your son, first engage them in something physical. You know, wash the car together, or clean up the garage. I remember long car rides to his hockey games where we did manage to talk. Back then, it seemed like his duffel bag filled to the brim with his ice hockey gear was bigger than he was.

Since my son’s band, the Parlor Mob, broke up, I only hear about bits and pieces of his working life. The Bride can always call Bob to discuss some course of medical treatment, the latest emergent intervention for stroke patients or whatever. We Facetime quite a bit with the Love Bug. But with the Rocker, I hear about his music as an aside; “I’ve got a deadline on this commercial,” or “I’m doing a PBS film about a photographer you might have heard of?” I learn what can be included in his IMDB status, and what can’t, and I know that he’s always playing guitar in one or another of his friends’ bands.

So living just a mile away from Bruce Springsteen in NJ we’d often cross paths. At the gym, at the drug store, or at the movies. But I was never formally introduced to him, he wouldn’t know me even though I wrote a weekly column about our town in the local paper. There was no picture on my byline. There was no online access. I knew people who “knew” him personally, but it just never happened. Which is kind of weird, cause like people who read my column religiously, I felt like I knew him. His music was ingrained in my soul.

This past weekend the Rocker and his friend Sam, who was the drummer from Parlor Mob, played for his friend Nicole Atkins at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ. I’ve talked about Nicole before, she has an incredible voice, and a new album “Slow Phaser” about to drop. http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/nicoleatkins/updates/31296?utm_campaign=project6348&utm_medium=activity&utm_source=twitter

It was the “Light of Day” concert to benefit Parkinson’s Disease.  http://www.nj.com/entertainment/music/index.ssf/2014/01/nicole_atkins_to_enliven_light_of_day_in_asbury_park.html

And the Boss was in the wings watching their set. As they were leaving, he was introduced to Bruce who shook his hand and said, “You’re a great guitarist.” Since I follow Nicole on twitter, I knew the Boss was there, so I called my son.

And now, I can die happy.

The Rocker with Uli

The Rocker with Uli

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“There are people who make an art form out of not being intense. They can remain on an amusing yet completely repetitive level. I can’t operate that way.”

Do you remember when I said I wanted to join a writer’s forum, and the only way to log in was with a twitter account, so I joined the Twit-o-Sphere? Well, it’s through that writer’s website, “Medium,” that I found myself reading an important essay this morning on friendship: “The Games Women Play: Part 2” By Lauren Mechling (author, editor and saint).

The author interviews another author, Susanna Sonnenberg. about the ebb and flow of friendship.  She Matters, is a memoir  of Sonnenberg’s twenty most important female friendships done as a chapter-per-friend. They talk about neediness and intimacy, about expectations and loss. https://medium.com/the-lauren-papers/a30ac0d4b1d0

Sonnenberg asks, “What do you want out of a friend?” Mechling says she wants somebody she can call on the phone any hour of the day or night. Which means she wants her friend to answer her calls, and be there if she

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needs her. I had a different take on that question, although maybe it’s in the same general category.

I want a friend who knows where the spoons are in my kitchen.

For me it’s about the comfort of showing up and listening. My BFF Lee from MA showed up at the Rocker’s bris with armloads of flowers from her garden. No one asked her, she just knew what I needed and she always knew the right thing to say, to bring me back to myself. To help me see my best self, and even coax me toward grace when I was listing away. Here is Lee to the left at the Bride’s wedding; and the Bride’s Duke roomie Sally on the right, who just had a baby last week!

Obviously, no one person can fulfill every longing we may have for a friend or a mate for that matter. Is she intellectually curious; fun to be around; supportive in a good way; adventurous? We all know the sunny-day vs rainy-day friends paradigm. It’s a rare and wonderful thing when that type combines – it’s the lottery of friendship! And yes, things do change once our identity shifts into motherhood. There can be rifts, and ruptures, not all friends can stand the ebb and flow, the test of time.

Like a good marriage, a good friend will still love you with all your faults. “If I show you this, will you still love me? If I show you this, will you still be with me?”

Honesty and loyalty, pretty much says it all. Like the authors, I need to have a certain intensity in order to fuel a friendship, we need to go deep sometimes, soul-baringly deep. I feel lucky to have found a few good friends at this stage of my life, in my empty nest. ps The spoons are to the left of the kitchen sink.

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Busy, busy weekend; but the best so far this year! True to my resolutions, I started off with some slow flow Vinyasa yoga at Studio 206, followed up by a dose of slow knitting at the Needle Lady. Even managed to have some famous Peanut Tofu soup at Rev Soup for lunch. But wait, the best is yet to come…last night I attended the Paramount Theatre’s simulcast showing of the first episode of the 3rd season of, tada, Downton Abbey!

You probably already know I’m addicted. And I’ve never really been addicted to a television show before, well maybe a fling with Grey’s Anatomy? But this is serious: I’ve watched episodes I missed online; sat through the 1st season again (on Netflix) when the Love Bug was born just to ensnare my daughter in its spell; I bought the 2nd season on disc to watch over Christmas with the Bride, fueling her addiction and mine; and I’ve read everything I can get my hands on about the PBS Masterpiece Classic http://www.npr.org/2013/01/03/167528679/downton-abbey-cast-its-more-fun-downstairs.

But last night was a girl’s night out, and some of us dressed to the nines for the occasion! I had a long velvet skirt in my closet, and an old rust colored silk jacket that I topped with a tulle millenary confection!photo copy Felt so very Lady Grantham. Kay Parker is one of my first friends in VA, and she drove our little group of 4 to the Downtown Mall where we met up with my friend Karen and her daughter-in-law Kath. Grown women totally excited to see what will become of Bates and the wedding of Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley. I won’t give anything away, except to say that I adore the Irish chauffeur Tom who stole the youngest Lady Sybil away and we all hissed at the evil valet Thomas. And of course Maggie Smith is sublime!
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/

Why do we Yankees love it so? Because it has everything, Shakespearian drama mixed at just the right spot in history. We all secretly love the royals and their quirky landed gentry precisely because we waged a war to separate from them. A Turkish diplomat dies and a scandal is averted, but just barely. A generation returns from WWI and suddenly a life of service doesn’t seem all that great. Cars are replacing horses. Fortunes are lost and others are won. The same themes of life and love, and particularly last night, loyalty, ring true today. Sometimes we all need to be reminded whose side we are on. A good story will resonate with us forever, so thank you Julian Fellowes. Thank you for imagining these characters and putting pen to paper.

Here are the 3 “K”s – Kay, Karen and Kath http://www.katheats.com!
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The other night the Bride and Groom had friends over for dinner. Another medical family, with a baby boy just a week older than the Love Bug. You might just say the mamas are nursing buddies too. Together they have figured out how, when and where is a good place to nurse a baby in the Music City. A corner booth in a restaurant – sure; a posh “Mother’s Room” in a fancy store – of course; in the middle of a Halloween party – maybe? I’m amazed watching my daughter juggle all these roles. Wife, new mom and returning to work professional, with a ten week old baby. She has a whole sisterhood of support on this journey, they write text and call with tips on going back to work while continuing to nurse an infant. Not an easy task.

And on the Bride’s first night back from her first hospital shift, our family arrived from Holly Springs, MS to meet the tiny Bug. My sister-in-law truly loves babies, we are sympatico in that way. The Groom was serenading his baby at the end of her first day without Mama – and she was cooing right along. We have another musician in the family – the Rocker, the Bourbon Family and now the Love Bug! Jorja’s daughter (hello, an opera singer), who is about my daughter’s age, is due to have her second baby girl on Christmas Day. The Love Bug was happy to meet her cousins, but fell in love with toddler Antonia.

She told her how much she loves kittens, and tutus and flowers. She demonstrated how to kick your way through a pile of leaves and climb up a dragon at the park. She loves to jump in puddles and dig in the dirt, all with pearls and smiles for her proud GranJorja. Antonia can even take a bow when the occasion allows! I think we have some future Nashville stars coming up.

Nashville rebuilt after the big flood a few years ago. And I know our East Coast communities will too. We are a very resilient bunch. Just saw this on my son’s Facebook page…”sam jeff and I threw a cover band together this morning and we’re playing at porta in like 20 minutes. they have power; food, beers and such. come on down.” Jeff used to play in our garage, Sam is the drummer from Parlor Mob…made me cry just a little as there is so much devastation in Asbury Park. Musicians are the poets of our country. I believe in the Jersey Shore.

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What’s a person to do when they’re lying awake in bed at midnight buzzing with happiness and the let-down of a stressful but fun weekend? Why, get up and watch Pierce Morgan interview the Dalai Lama of course. Oh, and check in on my friend Karen’s Daughter-in-Law. I mentioned this gal before, Kath Younger (KERF) is our town’s famous food blogger, as big online as that Pioneer Woman out west, except that Kath is adorably real! And yesterday, she and her husband Matt documented the Bride and Groom’s baby shower here http://www.KathEats.com/party-hoppin

It all started on Friday, like any good Jewish celebration relatives started streaming in from points north and festivities were planned. The Rocker got his first glimpse of his sister’s 30 week belly at Barbecue Exchange in Gordonsville, a truly unique and delicious experience!

Saturday night we met friends on the mall for dinner. The weather couldn’t have been better and my Grand Dogs were very well behaved. How long does it take for the conversation to turn to medicine when 4 doctors walk into a restaurant? I always try to postpone the inevitable, but it never works. Once, when the band stopped by on a grand tour, we played a game of Trivial Pursuit with a group of medical students after dinner. I called it the artists vs the scientists, and the artists won! Ah those were our glory days! But this weekend the doctors were in; so sprinkled among the baby talk were consults on broken fingers and poison ivy.

Many thanks to the Groom’s Mom for co-hosting a great baby shower; and to Ashley East, Dinner at Home for the yummy salads. The baby-clothes-line-art-activity went particularly well (thanks Pinterest), in fact we couldn’t decide on a winner. And I am humbled by Kath’s opinion of my carrot cake. (photo courtesy of KERF) This 3 layer, toasted coconut, cream cheese frosted carrot cake has a special meaning for us. I found the recipe years ago in a Junior League cookbook, and I would make it once or twice a year with my daughter since she could stand on a stool and help. We’d bring it to birthday parties, we’d deliver it to a funeral, we’d demonstrate its deliciousness to visiting French students; its secret is that it is overloaded with carrots. I still use the 1960’s avocado green Sunbeam hand mixer to whip it together. Of course, the Bride would always get to clean the frosting bowl. Baby girl was kicking up a storm this morning as they packed up all their presents and the dogs for the return trip to Nashville. Sweeter they couldn’t be!

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