Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘women’

After finishing up my Mother’s Day essay, I settled myself on a heating pad and read this: http://www.aww.com.au/latest-news/lets-talk/lesson-to-my-daughter-20482

Annabel Crabb, an Australian writer, gives her daughter the gift of an important life lesson. Now we all know, once our daughters have hit about age 16, there’s pretty much nothing we can do to influence them. OH we can try. We can bash our heads against a wall with cajoling and bribery, and occasionally they may listen. If I had a 16 year old today on social media, I’d pretty much raise my hands in surrender.

But a funny thing happens when they grow up and start a family of their own, they actually ask you for advice! It may not happen often, and sometimes it’s after all other friends and Google searches have left them needing more, let’s say, sage wisdom from the one person in their world who knew them when. And normally I’d say wait for this to happen. The one golden rule of grandparenting is never to offer advice, unless and until you are asked for it.

But there are times when your tongue just has a mind of its own, like after Happy Buddha Baby (let’s call him Happy Bud) was born. I remember leaving Nashville one time and telling my daughter that,

“…cleaning up just isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things,” on my way out the door.

Now for those of you who know the Bride, them’s fighting words. She is an organizational genius, a Type A+ personality who can make dinner, include the Love Bug in food prep, nurse the baby and do her patient notes all in the same evening.

I am the opposite. Multi-tasking was always beyond me, a dream that might happen at any second but usually, nah. The Flapper once told me that housekeeping skills usually skipped a generation, and now I believe her. But I think it’s because we grow up either in clutter chaos and can never find anything, or we grow up severely regimented under the thumb of a neat freak. And so we rebel, and become the opposite of our Mother in that regard. Once the Rocker’s friend came over to borrow a pair of his boots for Halloween in Middle School and was dumb struck when I replied i couldn’t find them. Seriously, she was one of six and her Mom knew where everything was, every single thing at every minute of the day!

And so I was prepared to like this essay from Australia about why a Mom wouldn’t change anything at all about her “untidy life.” Except for her premise – we should do less instead of “whining and moaning” because the men in our lives don’t pull their weight; “…women still do about twice as much housework as men.”

And guess what, in America we do three times as much housework as men! http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/22/women-better-at-housework-men-better-at-avoiding-it

But is doing less the answer to a happy marriage? Because if we start to do less and still expect him to do more, to pick up the slack, we might be surprised. So complain all you want ladies – and let his socks sit at the foot of the bed because they haven’t grown feet and walked themselves into the laundry basket. In fact, let that basket founder for a few days and see what happens. In other words, men cannot intuit what we want – we must tell them!

I am happy to report that the last time I walked in the door, after a 9 hour journey, the living room looked like a toddler fun house had exploded inside. I was so ecstatic!

"Cleaning up after a toddler is like trying to shovel snow in a snowstorm" Old Berkshire saying

“Cleaning up after a toddler is like trying to shovel snow in a snowstorm” Old Berkshire saying

Read Full Post »

This will be a short post. Here is today’s news in guns: Today the man who took a bullet for Ronald Reagan died. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/05/us/politics/james-s-brady-symbol-of-fight-for-gun-control-dies-at-73.html?_r=0  I’m glad Bob didn’t work last night. This is what happened in his hospital’s community http://www.nbc29.com/story/26189153/5-dead-after-murder-suicide-in-culpeper

Every comment about this in the paper and on Facebook is all about praying for the family; but believe me, I don’t think praying at this point will do much good. It might help you to pray. But the grandmother who found her daughter and her grand daughters lying in pools of their own blood, blood that her son-in-law shed because he decided to pick up a gun, will never be the same again. The coward even shot himself, so this grandmother is deprived of a trial, of swift judgement, or even forgiveness if she were so inclined. I just don’t get it.

If you haven’t joined Everytown for Gun Safety yet, please think about it. I know there are more of us out there, more moms and grandmothers who know it’s about the guns. This happened in Maine a week ago http://www.pressherald.com/2014/07/28/deaths-of-5-in-saco-could-rank-among-maines-deadliest-crimes/ Another family of 5 dead.

We need to keep guns out of the hands of abusers, stalkers and the mentally ill…it’s as simple as that. It’s about the guns.

 

Read Full Post »

Unknown

A phenomenal woman died this week. She was our spiritual mother, a national treasure; Maya Angelou had that voice that could peek into your soul and reach bedrock. She was what every poet must aspire to be, of every color and every gender and every nationality. She could transform words into pure emotion.

We Americans were lucky to have her around for 86 years, lucky to call her our own. She once said that courage was the most important virtue, and certainly to endure her early life of poverty and abuse she must have exhibited tremendous courage. I would add that patience is the least important. I’m pretty sure she would agree. “The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is not an important virtue in my book.

It’s the second part of that definition that irks me. Because by squelching your feelings, even the angry ones, you nullify your existence. Every two year old knows that! OK, so I wouldn’t make a great yogi, suffering in silence, sorry. Feeling your anger is the first step to changing an untenable situation – ask any psychologist. Internalizing your anger equals high anxiety over a lifetime.

But for this weekend, when many of you are celebrating and not suffering, weddings and graduations, I thought I’d dig up an old commencement speech that Dr Angelou gave to the graduating class of 1977 at UC Riverside. She directs these young people to identify the heroes and sheroes in their lives, to be courageous and adventurous and NOT to travel a well worn path. RIP Maya Angelou, your words will live in our hearts forever.

Thank you very much. I’m delighted to be invited and certainly pleased by the reception. I thank the Chancellor, the officials, senior members and junior members of the institution, parents and friends.
In particular, I thank the graduating class. It seems to me that a commencement address always comes after the fact, after the long hours, after the tedious work, after trying to come to grips with somebody else’s ideas, after trying to stimulate one’s own brain so that it may come up with some ideas of its own. After all that, and even after the institution of higher education says to you, “You have done well, and to prove it I’m going to give you a diploma. After all that, then along comes a stranger who says, “I’m going to give you a commencement address.” It seems a contradiction, or else a little presumptuous. However, (pauses for laughter) there is a challenge that faces you that is incredible. And the challenge is not new. However it has not abated. The challenge is how to create a sense of adventure toward life and how to maintain that sense of adventure. There is an African statement that says, “The trouble for the thief is not how to steal the bugle, but where to blow it.” And it would seem that the trouble for you is not just how to get out of this institution, but once out, what does one do? Does one simply sit with that diploma and say, “I have found the one way, the true way for myself and I call all the others false.” Or do you indeed join life, that is the challenge.
There’s a poem that says. “She does not know her beauty. She thinks her brown body has no glory. If she could dance naked under palm trees and see her image in the river, she would know.” But there are no palm trees on the street and dishwater gives back no images. Now, the way one maintains, I believe, a sense of adventure, a love of life, and since life loves the liver of it, or certainly seems to favor the adventurous spirit, it is a wonderful thing to maintain that idea, that concept. The one way is to keep alive heroes and sheroes. I believe that people live in direct relationship with the heroes and sheroes they honor. And I will talk to you about sheroes and heroes. I don’t believe that he or she must always be embodied in the physical body. I believe that an idea can be a shero or hero. Certainly the idea of religion can be.
Black Americans were first brought to this country in 1619. That was one year before the Mayflower docked. That’s an aside (laughter.) Today, we are upwards of thirty million and that’s a conservative estimate. How do people continue to exist, and walk as if they have oil wells in their back yards, except that there is a hero/shero that stays alive. Some years ago when I was with “Porgy and Bess,” we went to Morocco. The company had traveled through many countries. And when we arrived in Morocco, we were told that the sets had been sent on to Spain, and we were obliged to give a concert. Well opera singers, as some of you know because some of your are, are a people always prepared to sing. I believe they have their portfolios taped behind their watches or something, they are always ready. So when the conductor said to the singers, “We should do a concert,” they really got into fine voice. I was the premiere danseuse and I simply couldn’t. I was not trained in that discipline. I went to the conductor and I said, “I’m sorry, I’m not able to sing. I don’t have any arias. He turned to me, he was Russian, and said, “Bah. Don’t you know a spiritual?”
I grew up in a small town in Arkansas, about the size of this side of the seating (she gestures to one side of the audience.) We went to church on Sunday. I don’t mean we went to church and left. We went to church on Sunday, that was all day, and then Monday night missionary meeting, Tuesday night deacon meeting, Wednesday night prayer meeting, and so on. And at all these meetings we sang. Now I had never really thought about the black American spiritual. I never understood what meaning, what value it had, until that night in Morocco. The people in the company went out and delivered themselves of these beautiful arias, from Rossini and Resphigi and Handel and Purcell, just lovely things, Mozart. And they were well received. But then I went out onto the stage and there was a pit with a 120-piece orchestra. But how could they help me with their violins, celli and things. So I said, “It’s alright.” And I sang a song that my grandmother sang every Sunday of my life until I was 13 and left that small town in Arkansas. When I finished, 4,000 people stood up and stomped and made noise and shouted. (here she imitates some of the language.) And I thought, uh huh. What was that? It wasn’t for my singing. I can sing fairly well. But it wasn’t that. I walked away from the auditorium and I walked alone in Morocco trying to come to grips with what had happened. The great singers had sung “La Donna’ e Mobile,” (she sings it) and sung it beautifully. They had done it to perfection, lyrically. And I sang, what I had thought to be a good song, but not very important music. And there were 4,000 people screaming my name. And then I realized that my people could not give me the great names that bring shivers in the marketplaces. They couldn’t give me the land that people barter their souls for sometimes, nor money, nor power. But what they gave me was a hero/shero that allowed me to walk as tall, and be free enough to accept other ideas, ideas other than those that generate within my own community. And it is that for which I am very grateful. It is that I want to encourage in the breasts and minds of the graduating class.
There is among black Americans, for centuries, we were known to laugh when we weren’t tickled, and scratch when we didn’t itch. And those gestures have come down to us as “Uncle Tomming.” I suggest to you that those people, who were successful in that particular strategy, are heroes and sheroes, and we live in direct relation to the heroes and sheroes that we have. I wrote a poem for a woman who is a maid in New York City. She rides the bus. When the bus stops too fast, she goes “Ah ha ha ha ha ha.” When it picks someone up, she goes, “Ah ha ha ha ha ha.” When it misses them, she goes, “Ah ha ha ha ha ha.” And I thought, “Now what is that?” Really? If you don’t know black features you may think she is smiling. She’s not smiling at all. She’s exercising that old survival apparatus, that’s all. So I wrote a poem for her, because she is a shero of mine.
When I think about myself, I almost laugh myself to death.
My life has been one great big joke, a dance what’s walked, a song what’s spoke.
I laugh so hard I nearly choke, when I think about myself.
Sixty years in these folks’ world, the child I works for calls me “girl.”
And I say “yes, ma’am” for workin’s sake. I’m too proud to bend and too poor to break.
So hmph, humph, ha, ha, humph, I laugh until my stomach ache, when I think about myself.
My folks can make me split my side. I laugh so hard I nearly died.
The tales they tell sound just like lyin’. They grow the fruit, but eat the rind.
I laugh so hard, I start to cryin’ when I think about myself.
Ladies and gentlemen, a good commencement address should be brief. It might be funny. In this case I shall not be funny. I will encourage you along the lines of Terence, a playwright in 150 B.C., who said, “I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.” It is interesting that his name is Terentius Afer, or Terence of Africa. He was a slave sold to a Roman Senator, freed by that Senator, and he became the most popular playwright in Rome. And he said, “I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.”
I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve. I thank you very much, and I encourage you to commence.

http://newsroom.ucr.edu/announcements/2009-10-24maya-angelou.html

Read Full Post »

Birds do it, bees do it. But apparently if you happen to be the next single woman to serve as a university president in some parts of these Southern United States, you won’t be allowed to do it – that is, live with a partner in the usually big, beautiful, university-provided campus president’s house.

Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, is leaving Johns Hopkins, and is slated to become the first Black female president of her alma mater, Alabama State University in Montgomery, next month.

“Her contract requires the 58-year-old engineer to move into the president’s home…(one) clause states ‘for so long as Dr. Boyd is President and a single person, she shall not be allowed to cohabitate in the President’s residence with any person with whom she has a romantic relation.'” http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/01/17/263484808/no-cohabitation-for-alabama-states-first-female-president

She seems to have no problem with this clause, after all she signed the contract. Still, it makes me smile to think about the “scandal” happening in France right now. President Hollande jets around at night on his scooter, disguised in his helmet to visit his lover, a film actress. He is only discovered by the fashionable French press because of his shoes! It’s all over the papers, but knowing some French people as I do, and listening to the interviews on the streets of Paris, his citizens could care less! Alors, Les Liasons Romantique!

Fidelity is over rated in France. “When it comes to extra-marital affairs, the French are the most forgiving nation in the world, according to a recent study. The U.S., however, is still as unforgiving as ever, ranking 27th on the list, right between Brazil and Ghana.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/16/infidelity-study_n_4611674.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

What I didn’t know until I read the above article, is that President Hollande is simply cohabiting with his First Lady, Valerie Trierweiler, who was his previous mistress. Yes sirree folks, they are NOT married, but have been together since 2007. I am trying to imagine this arrangement in the USA. My brain just cannot do it, sorry. But let’s try…it would be like Bill living cohabiting on Pennsylvania Avenue with Gennifer Flowers, and then seeing an intern on the side. You can see how the first part just wouldn’t work!

If there’s one thing I learned from moving South, it’s that things move a lot slower down here. We talk to strangers, we help each other in airports, we drive slowly in the left lane. In fact, I’m pretty sure our Governor would never close any lanes in a grudge match, after all we can snarl traffic just fine by stopping to talk to a neighbor on the road. And no Virginian would think of honking their horn!

So maybe this cohabitation clause wouldn’t work at NYU, and it certainly wouldn’t be considered at any French university. I doubt that the clause would have appeared on a male president’s contract. But I’ve got a feeling that Dr Boyd has bigger fish to fry. Might I suggest she give our single female UVA President Teresa Sullivan a call? After all, somebody always gets hurt when all those glass ceilings shatter. http://www.virginia.edu/presidentsreport/

Here is the Bride with Great Grandmother Mamie and some of her great grandchildren after a lunch at the MSU President’s gorgeous historic home that honored my brother and sister-in-law last year. And The Love Bug with her cousin, Frankie.IMG_1554IMG_1558

 

 

Read Full Post »

“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

J&M  0569

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.

County Fair 008FB

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: